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WEEK 25 2004

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Saturday 19 June 2004

Saturday - drove up to my Dad's. Traffic wasn't too bad - about normal for a weekend I guess.

We watched 'Pearl Harbor' in the evening, on VHS. Not as bad as I'd heard - a lot of technical inaccuracy's including angled flight decks on carriers and modern (Spruance?) class destroyers being strafed by Zero's, but fun. Kate Beckinsdale is easy on the eyes...

How does the U.S. Navy view Halsey? There was an entire class of ships named after Admiral Fletcher, and another class named after Spruance. The modern nuclear carrier class is the "Nimitz" class. As far as I can tell Halsey has had a single destroyer (now scrapped) named after him. The verdict of history is in, it seems.

It's nice up here, nearly perfect weather. It is turning warm down in Lancaster, but that's OK, as long as there is sun. I think I'm one of those people who needs lots of light - I feel much more productive at work after a day or two at the beach or on the water.

I need to get down to the boat while I'm up here - a surveyor is needed to look at it, so I need to check that the battery and running lights work, that the motor works, and so on. It's been neglected for a while because of the various things going on in my life, and in my brother's.

Friday 18 June 2004

Friday - My review yesterday of Zenon:Z3 brings to mind a couple of other movies and their reviews.

Angie Schultz at The Machinery of Night has a review of "Python vs. Boa". Money quote:
 If there were a Eurovision Dance Contest, this would be the Bulgarian entry. The arrival of the python is a positive relief, especially after it eats the DJ.

Mark Steyn has reviewed The Day After Tomorrow for us, she points out:

I’m not sure I’d want the fate of the world to hinge on Dennis Quaid. He doesn’t seem to notice, even as he’s standing outside the UN conference, that it’s snowing in Delhi. Meanwhile, hailstones the size of George Monbiot are falling in Tokyo. And the famous Capitol Records building in Los Angeles gets dashed to pieces like an old 78. Eventually, the penny drops, mainly because everything else has. “Are you suggesting,” a less observant climatologist says skeptically to Prof Quaid, “that all these things could be related?”

Well, it’s a theory. And, to confirm it, Professor Quaid says he needs to get to the computer and find a working model. I assumed the working model would be the love interest. But no, that’s his son’s school chum, played by sweet Emmy Rossum, with whom he’s shivering on the underwater mezzanine of the New York Public Library. “W-what are you doing?” chatters young Master Gyllenhaal, as Miss Rossum’s pert torso wraps itself around him. “I’m using my body heat to warm you,” she explains, in the least scientifically dubious moment in the movie.

( emphasis mine. Heh. I'll probably go see it anyway. My sister said she liked it. I think that's what she said...)

Thursday 17 June  2004

Thursday - fans of 'Flight of the Phoenix' might be interested ( or terrified and repulsed ) to know that there is apparently a remake in the works, starring Dennis Quaid.  Hmmm.

On the road this weekend, so, less free ice cream for a few days..

Wednesday 16 June 2004

Wednesday - caught a little bit of Zenon:Z3 on the Disney Channel recently. Hmmm. A "socialist" subplot running through it, where actual development and use of the moon is considered evil, bad science where the earth is "setting", and a pagan moon spirit "Serene" who is willing to injure and kill hundreds if not thousands of people if "her" moon is bothered. Sheesh. I only saw the last fifteen minutes, but it was more than enough.

Changed the oil in the Explorer today, got the muffler fixed in the Probe (before visiting the smog nazis). Joe's Muffler's, in Lancaster, was a friendly, prompt, and (reasonably) inexpensive place to get the muffler work done. I'd recommend it.

Work is progressing - we are finally getting a handle on which parameters to tweak to get an accurate aeroelastic solution in a reasonable ( less than a week on a dedicated P4 box ) amount of time. I am coming up to speed on Gnuplot, which enables me to visualize and compare results quickly, so that helps.

Tuesday 15 June 2004
Tuesday -  self employed quarterly taxes are done and sent in. Ulp. Man, it's enough to choke you when you have to pay all at once instead of small bimonthly bites. (OK, four times a year, it's still a shock.)

Called around trying to get boat insurance for the sail boat. Boat/US is going to call back. I want to get out on the water again...

I was reading Transterrestrial Musings the other day and RS had a bit on a proposal for the State of California requiring photovoltaic systems on the roof. Generally these are expensive - I've a friend with such a system and it's caused her a lot of grief - though most of that was due to the storage batteries. Still, given the number of houses being built, and the number of power plants not being built, and the fact that building codes have pushed the "R" ratings of houses so high, maybe it's a good idea.

Oriented due south, and at an angle equal to the latitude of the site the panels will collect the maximum energy. The state has forced the utilities to buy back this energy at retail prices. It seems to me that the more efficient use of these panels, from the utilities point of view, would be to use them to counteract the peak power usage's in late afternoon here in California. To do this the panels would have to be oriented towards the southwest and at a steeper angle. The year-round power produced would be less, but it would be produced at a time when the utilities need it the most. The utilities (or state) could raise the price paid for this power to the homeowner, to counteract his losses.

I actually posted this somewhere in blog comments - several blogs have written about this - but have forgotten exactly where. Oh well.

It's of interest because my own power usage has been going up - I am considering a small system ( but without batteries! ). A one kilowatt system would do the trick for me I think. Used PV panels average about $2/Watt, and then you need various inverters and power conditioning equipment and a switched subpanel; and have to pay an electrician to look it over before hooking to the grid. Probably a five grand outlay - though there are various grants and subsidies out there to offset this cost. So, maybe $2500 out-of-pocket.

'Course, I could spend that on the boat or a kayak....

Monday 14 June 2004

Monday - the last minutes of the USS John Young DD-973. ( via Anticipatory Retaliation ). It's a bit sobering that ships launched after my high school graduation are now considered obsolete and ready for scrapping/sinking.

Diving. I never really considered it, having read far to many tales of heroic and dangerous salvage diving by Ellsberg as a youngster, but the idea is starting to grow on me for some reason. Hmmm. Modern SCUBA in (ideally) tropical waters is a far cry from the hard hat diving in cold Atlantic seas.

Sunday 13 June 2004

Sunday - Still recovering from kayaking. It was a good workout.

One of the neat things we saw were the dolphins in the Santa Barbara Channel, while on the ferry out. The skipper detoured to take us near a 'scouting pod' which seemed to have twenty or thirty members. They were happy to see us, charging directly at the ferry and surfing the bow and stern wakes. These are the 'common' dolphin, the most common kind, and it was fascinating to see them swimming alongside. For every dolphin you see there are another nine underwater - they only spend 10% of their time on the surface.

On the way back to Ventura harbor we saw even more. From a distance it looked like a patch of white water, but coming closer we could see hundreds of dolphins, jumping and swimming about. The main 'pod', simply amazing. I need to get a waterproof housing for my camera, so that I can get some decent pictures of this stuff.

Picture of the Week

Phoebe, a moon of Saturn

Photo Notes: This is the moon Phoebe, circling the planet Saturn, photographed a day or two ago. Truly we live in an age of wonders! Stolen from APOD.

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