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WEEK 39 2005

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Saturday 1 October 2005

Saturday - not a lot going on. Went over to my friends' house and checked on their cats. Monique is looking a bit lonely, but they should be home in the evening I believe. The other cat is skulking around, but didn't really come out. Also fed the fish and turtles.

It's my mothers birthday. I was sitting around, thinking of good memories. The one that really tickles me today is driving lessons. The high school I attended gave free driving lessons, but you needed X hours of driving on a permit with a parent to get a real license.

So Mom would ride along. The thing is, she never trusted anyone else's driving. Years later I would be driving with her as a passenger and hear that irritating "thump" as her brake foot would strike the floor. "What?" I would say, startled and frightened - and then she'd point out a car pulling into our lane, but blocks ahead.

I can't even imagine what she felt like, way back when, helping six children get their drivers license.

Now that I think of it, maybe there's a bit of cause and effect there.

There's no love like a mother's love.

Friday 30 September 2005

Friday - working away on things.

Did a 7.5 mile walk today. My feet hurt, but no blisters. It's about the distance that we will hike in the Grand Canyon in a month, except that will be have an elevation change 5000 feet. Downhill the first day, a day at the bottom, and then up hill the last day.

We even have a side hike laid on for the day after that to a waterfall on an indian reservation - just in case we don't hurt enough.

The GC hike will involve a pack and supplies - I need to start carrying a bit of weight, water bottles and such. I had planned to be in a bit better form by now, but it'll be OK.

Rower Completes Slowest Atlantic Crossing. Heh. But he gets a hug from a pretty girl at the end, so that's all right I guess.

Peg fights a sprinkler
Peg versus sprinkler: after extended close quarters battle Peg lost to the sprinkler.

Thursday 29 September  2005

Thursday - the world keeps on "turning, turning, turning, into the future". A while back the Hubble Telescope was launched, to great fanfare, only to be found to have mistakes in the optical system. There was a fix: the errors were precisely known and sp NASA wrote software could be used to undo much of the error. Fast forward to 2005 and an early review of the new Olympus E-500, wherein we have the following statement:

Lenses that are smart, that talk with the camera about their specific optical designs and imaging information. Lenses, particularly zoom lenses have some distortion. This is true of all manufacturers. Zuiko Digital Lenses store data in the header portion of the digital file allowing for software-assisted correction of anomalies including pin cushion and barrel distortion.

I see a downside: unless powered by the camera, the lenses will probably need batteries. And what if the lens software fails? I hope there is some sort of fallback, so that even if the camera cannot automatically get the lens type it may be entered manually.

Book #37 is We Few, by David Weber & John Ringo. It is the conclusion of the series started in March Upcountry. Again, military Sci-Fi isn't my favorite, but, while rather formulaic this series isn't badly written. The royal family of the Empire of Man is beset by traitors, the Empress captured and all of the family except the young wastrel Prince Roger murdered. Except that the wastrel turns out to have some hidden qualities, and surviving a marooning on a distant planet attempts to return and save the day. Pure unalloyed space opera for the most part, but  much better written than Saucer or Saucer: The Conquest.

3 level bunk beds (berths) on the Midway
USS Midway photo: Enlisted men slept in 3 tier bunk beds, with all
their personal possessions in the drawers under each. There were
eight or ten sets of bunks in the single compartment we visited.

Wednesday 28 September 2005

Wednesday - Book #36 is Saucer: The Conquest, by Stephen Coonts. Coonts has written some pretty good books - Flight of the Intruder was good, and later made into a movie. The Jake Grafton novels that followed were OK. The Cannibal Queen, a true story of his flight about the lower 48 states in an open cockpit Stearman biplane was wonderful. This book, well, not so wonderful. It is science fiction, written for a (late) juvenile audience, and, well, is pretty bad. I'd recommend any of the Heinlein juveniles over this, or any of Stephen Goulds'. On the plus side: the bad guys are the French, and they lose, badly.

Had a phone call, this evening, from some good friends visiting New York, New York. They are having a fabulous time. They've a centrally located apartment directly facing the Empire State Building, which is lit up in red, white and blue at night. A New York friend has shown them the whichs and whys of the subway system and they are making the best of it. Man, it sounds great!

U.S.S. Midway, from dockside
The view from San Diego dockside, the U.S.S. Midway.

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Tuesday - Book #35 is, surprise, Never Call Retreat. It was pretty good, I enjoyed it. I won't tell you who wins in this alternate history. One unusual aspect of the book was the inclusion of pictures - actual photographs, taken during the Civil War, inserted where appropriate in the book. One in particular caught my eye: some wounded soldiers sitting against a brick wall. It's not gory - everyone is bandaged and looks relatively comfortable - enjoying the sun, perhaps waiting for the photographer to finish his business. But they look real. Every once in a while a photo makes you realize that there is more to the past than just stories, that the past was real, and the people then as real as you or I now.

civil war, wounded soldiers recuperating
Click to enlarge.

It's not just that these are casualties, but the small details in the picture.

This guy, for example, has a straw in his mouth:

Soldier with straw
Or, I suppose it could be a pipe?

The man on the right: is he talking to his friend?
civil war soldiers, detail
Or, is he checking to see if he's awake?

Monday 26 September 2005

Monday - back in Lancaster.

The Explorer sunroof is fixed. Interestingly enough, the people at the shop suggested that I use it more. Apparently lack of use is one cause of binding and breakage for these things. So that's good to know.

I spent Saturday and half of Sunday down in SD. Generally loafing about, though Tim and I did do some configuration of a new laptop and a small wireless network. This all took longer than it should have, but that's just par for the course with PC's. We watched some baseball, had a couple beers (after the computer work), overate, and tried to keep up with the 3 year old.

Drove back from San Diego via the I-15 (which is Chumash for "road with many malls") and the State Highway 138. I violated my own rule about never driving it at night. As usual some moron decided to risk his life, my life, and the life of someone in the other lane - this time by passing on a turn, at night, over two do-not-pass double yellow lines, against oncoming traffic.  The oncoming traffic swerved, I swerved, and nobody died. This time.

When I arrived it was still warm, but with a few scattered clouds. A few hours later we were having another thunderstorm! Cool. My UPS's are keeping the computers up and running though.

My brother came by and borrowed the newly fixed Explorer - he threw his transmission. Two weeks after replacing his driveshaft for about a grand. They want $3K for a new tranny - time for a new car?

Sunday 25 September 2005

Sunday - back from San Diego. It was a good visit. I got down there in good time on Friday, and looked over the Explorer with the sunroof people. It seems one of the "rails" was broken, and could be easily fixed. So I left it there for a couple of hours while my friend Tim and I went off to visit the U.S.S. Midway museum down in San Diego.

Wow. What a big ship! It's hard to get a sense of scale - mostly because one's brain doesn't want to believe this is an object capable of movement.  It is moored near the downtown area, not far from the airport. Admission is through a short series of stairs, then into the hangar deck. This is a huge open space, nearly as long as the ship, when aircraft would have been kept and maintained while the ship was under way. It is reminiscent of the hangars' out at NASA Dryden, but much, much, longer. There were a number of aircraft and equipment displays here, but not nearly enough to ruin the sense of hugeness.

We then took a self guided tour, down through the engineering spaces, the galley, the medical quarters, crew quarters, and so on. It is a very spartan environment, there is little that is not directed to the purposes of a warship. One interesting fact, she was designed initially for a crew of only 3000, but ended up with a complement of about 4,500.

Once Tim and I had finished our below decks tour we had lunch at the "Fantail Cafe", at the stern of the ship, in the spaces once used for jet engine maintenance and testing, and then took a tour about the flight deck. That was amazing too - hundreds of feet wide, nearly a thousand feet long, stories above the water - but nicely fenced for us tourists. There were a number of aircraft on display, from a variety of carriers, placed about the deck. Phantom's, A4's, helicopters,  and more.

I should say that the Midway looks to be in excellent hands - well maintained, with well thought out displays and historical information!

Across from her was a another, even bigger carrier, the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, CVN-76. Down the way a bit we could see the sails of the Star of India and the masts of the H.M.S. Rose (H.M.S. Surprise). I'll have to check those out sometime!

Picture of the Week
Sunflower with Ladybug

Photo Notes: A Sunflower, and a Ladybug.

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