sailing the NorSea


WEEK 28 2010

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Saturday 17 July 2010
Saturday - I've been on a reading kick lately.

 Book #49 was The Quincunx of Time, by James Blish. This is a 1970's expansion of a 1950's short story to a novel - and the novel is really just a novelette - 128 pages. Well enough done, Blish was a good writer. It discusses issues involving the discovery of a method to transmit messages through time. He proposes a security service that uses foreknowledge of the future to always be on the spot to save the day, and a golden rule: "Never mention the date of anyone's death". The Service, you see, has the job of making sure that whatever is supposed to happen, does happen....

Book #48 was Fallen Star, again by Blish, it takes place during the IGY, and was itself written in 1957. A polar expedition comes to disaster, but was it insanity or Martians? Again, well written.

Book #47 was A Case of Conscience, again by Blish, and the best of the three (1959). A jesuit priest is a scientist on a survey of a distant, inhabited, planet. The aliens are peaceful, intelligent, cooperative - and totally without any belief in God. He eventually decides the entire planet is actually an illusion and snare of Satan - and there is a cure for that...

Friday 16 July 2010
Friday - another beastly hot day. Bah.

For some reason my peach tree, the one with donut peaches, hasn't yet ripened. Usually the peaches ripen to pickable over the Fourth of July holiday, this year they are still hard ten days later. Odd.

I ran a few errands. The Explorer is due for a smog test, but I want to take it by the mechanic first and make sure there aren't any alerts stored in it's computer memory. You can fail a smog easy, these days. The tires need rotating also, but it was too late in the day by the time I went by Costco, I would have had to wait for hours.

I had taken my grandfather's old Seth Thomas No. 2 Regulator in to the clock shop a couple months ago, and finally picked it up. There is a little envelope in the bottom, showing that it was last cleaned in January of 1980. So, $280 and we're good for another 30 years. Though Lancaster is a lot dustier and dirtier than Martinez my house is inhabited by a non-smoker, not a couple of pack-a-day chain smokers, so it's a wash.

Riley, stretching on on the patio.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Thursday - Mostly spent working on a manual for some software I am working with. The company that created the software doesn't supply a manual or even a good help file, just a video, so I am creating one for myself (and the client). A tedious business, slowly working my way through the wmv file, getting screen grabs and images. I'm not really up on how to do this correctly with Word, there is probably a better way to set chapters, titles, numbering and create a table of contents and index. Oh well.

Book #46 was The Cassini Division, by Ken Macleod. This is a reasonably well done post-abortive-Singularity style novel. The 'Division' of the title is not the gap in Saturn's' rings, but rather a military/social force dedicated to keeping the formerly human but now post-Singular inhabitants of Jupiter from taking over the rest of the Solar System. Reasonably well done, though the author makes Communists the good guys, and Capitalists as fall guys for the evil Jovians. Ah well.

I found this on my own bookshelf, couldn't remember reading it, and still can't remember reading it before. Odd.

I see there is a sequel or two, that might be worth looking for.

Brutally hot. The LaCrossse Weather Station stopped responding at 110F - it's under the patio cover and maybe gets some radiant heat and so is probably a little high. But not by much. Temperatures of 105-108F were reported across the Antelope Valley. But it was the humidity that made it really awful.

My central a/c isn't working - it just recirculates the air - and for some bizarre reason we had an early thunderstorm and the swamp cooler barely worked. It was 82F inside the house at midnight!! I slept on the downstairs couch, where it is cooler and there was a nice draft.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Wednesday - no visit down to Ventura, which is good, because I am not feeling very well.

Created a vicinity and detail map for a construction job, sent them off to the draftsman. Essentially I used ACME mapper, so as not to tread on any copyright toes, did a screen grab in the highest resolution I had, then with Paint Shop Pro 7 enhanced edges, used a fill tool to make nearby forests the same background color as the city streets, then used the threshold tool to turn the map image to black/white. A GIS shapefile would have been better, but I don't have those tools at home.

Did a bit of yard work, mowing the front yard and thinning the rose bushes, then just crashed.

Book #45, read over vacation, was The Architect of Sleep, by Stephen R. Boyett. Boyett was the author of this years Book #42, Elegy Beach. This is a much earlier effort, and to my mind a much better book. It's main drawback is that it was clearly the first of a two volumes - and Boyett never wrote the second. The dog.

Quote of the Day:

"What this company needs is more fat engineers with beards."

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Tuesday - back in Lancaster, essentially just getting organized after nine days away. Down to Ventura tomorrow, probably.

Monday 12 July 2010

Monday - did a bit more work around the house in Martinez, then headed south.

I met my friend Tim on the way up, in Westley, and we stopped and discussed our vacations and work. He was just starting his week off, I was just finishing mine.

After a very cool spring California is starting to heat up, but it looks like it will be bearable in the Bay Area for a few more days during his time up there.

Book #44 was Castle Perilous, by John DeChancie. This was a bit rough, not tightly plotted. Not bad, but not his best, by far. It belongs to the "house with doors to different dimensions" genre of science fiction.

Sunday 11 July_2010

Sunday - Up in Martinez. I left Cayucos mid-morning and arrived after a fairly slow drive up the 101 at my sisters place in Niles. We talked, and looked at some of the stuff she is trying to do around her house, then headed up to Martinez and did a bit of work in the early evening.

Today it was work, work, work. Yard stuff, cleaning, patching, preparing the master bedroom for painting, etc. I started the back yard sprinklers, but the grass there is pretty dead by now. Only the stuff on trickle, the trees and a few shrubs live. I attempted to use a small chipper, borrowed from my sister, to get rid of some of the piles of cut weeds from two months ago, but it it extraordinarily slow, and clogs about every ten minutes. After a couple of hours I gave up on that chipper - it would take days to finish at that rate.

My sister painted some more in the kitchen - the corbeled ceiling is a slow job and the warm weather made it unpleasant to work there, it was hot and the paint wanted to dry immediately, leaving brush strokes. She painted the kitchen cabinets a caramel brown - a somewhat controversial decision with my brothers, but they've had 14 months to paint it whatever color they wanted, and did nothing, so....

Running across the references to the USS Oregon and USS Olympia recently reminded me that I had a book from my father's library, so I took that with me to the coast.

Book #43 was, therefore, The Splendid Little War, by Frank Freidel. As a child I loved paging through it, looking at the pictures of the old ships. Land battles and political maneuvering s didn't interest me much. Now they provides a lot of the interest, the intersection of nationalism, personal glory, incompetence and extraordinary bravery that characterize all walls are shown here in sharp relief, due to the small theaters of individual actions and the relatively short time frame of the war.

It seems to be a fairly honest and accurate depiction of the people and motives of the war. The USA doesn't come off as a terrible monster, but isn't perfect either, but the decrepit Spanish Empire and the Philippine's rebels are given short shrift.

Recommended, even if you just look at the pictures!

Picture of the Week
cayucos beach, 2010

Photo Notes: The beach at Cayucos, looking south from about 7th street.

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