WEEK 39 2011
Mon- Tue- Wed-
Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
Ago, This Week, 2002
Ago, This Week, 2003
Ago, This Week, 2006
Ago, This Week, 2007
Ago, This Week, 2008
This Week, 2009
This Week, 2010
Saturday - this would have been my mother's 87th. Happy Birthday Mom!
After my father retired for the first (second?) time, he and Mom
traveled about. At first it was in their car, then they traded that for
a van that they really enjoyed. Eventually they traded up to a smaller
motor home, which was too much. The van was just right for them it
seemed, and they traveled up and down the west coast, from San Diego to
- I should have been working on the spreadsheet but some sort of
eyestrain kept me from reading, or even going onto the internet much.
I'd put a cat picture up, but haven't the heart.
- my friend Tim sent me some spreadsheets to look at, so I spent the
afternoon reading up on a certain project. It's almost poetic, some of
the terms that are used in this dry industrial specification: Fugitive dust, Braunton's Milkvetch, Palmers Rabbitbush.
Every once in a while you see an image that captures your imagination, and try to track it down. Only to realize that there are still (and this is 2011!) web sites that are not in English. Remarkable.
So, tracking this picture:
"Hey, you kids - don't make me come over there!"
led me to www.aviation-ancienne.fr, all in French. French being a romance language I can guess at the meaning of the text:
|Il pouvait emporter 135 kg, pilote compris, sur une
distance de 240 kilomètres, et il pouvait atteindre une vitesse maximale
de 105 km/h. Il fallait certainement plus de courage que d’habileté au
pilote pour se tenir debout au-dessus des deux immenses hélices
contrarotatives de 4,60 mètres de diamètre.
could carry 135kg (280 lbs) including the pilot, up to 240 kilometers
(144 miles) at speeds up to105km/hr (60 mph). It certainly required
courage to pilot this standing above the huge 4.6m (15ft) spinning
This is a man's machine, not some wussy Segway. Fall or slip off that little stand and you'd be hamburger.
I think it's the jacket & tie that makes it such a dramatic picture. If it were a uniform or a pilot's suit it wouldn't be nearly as dramatic.
28 August 2011
Wednesday - Not much to say. A bit of work about the house, lunch with some friends at Famous Daves. Barbecue....yum.
The new Amazon Kindle Fire is
out, this being a tablet similar in form (backlit 7" touchscreen)
to the Nook. There are also a whole slew of other Kindle "touch"
devices, at very low price points. The Fire isn't as big or powerful as the Ipad, but it certainly raises the bar for other ereaders - $199 for this high end model and $79 for the 6" wifi-only model will be hard to beat.
I haven't any great urge to rush out and buy it myself - my K3/3G suits
me just fine, light, ambidextrous and a battery miser - but I imagine
it'll be a big item for Christmas. Just a week or two ago Amazon
announced that the Kindle now supports checking out books from the library - it works, I tried it - and that negates a big advantage that the Nook had over the Kindle. B&N and Apple marketing will be burning the midnight oil all this week, and the rest of the fall.
Because, you know, I was in Home Depot yesterday and they were already unpacking the Christmas stuff.
27 August 2011
- Book #112, P2 was Kon-Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl. In 1947 Heyerdahl and five crewmates sailed a raft they christened Kon-Tiki
from Peru to Polynesia, proving the possibility of west-to-east
movement of peoples. It's a wonderful yarn, five Norwegians and a Swede
floating for a hundred days across the Pacific.
IN A WHILE YOU FIND YOURSELF IN AN ODD situation. You get into it by
degrees and in the most natural way but, when you are right in the
midst of it it, you are suddenly astounded as ask yourself how in the
world it all came about. If, for example, you put to see with a parrot
and five companions, it is inevitable that sooner or later you will
wake up on morning out at sea, perhaps a little bit better rested than
ordinarily, and begin to think about it. One such morning I sat writing
in a dew-drenched notebook --- May 17, Norwegian Independence Day.
Heavy sea. Fair Wind. I am cook today and found seven flying fish on
deck, one squid on the cabin roof, and one unknown fish in Torstein's
The raft was made of large Balsa Wood logs, tied together with line.
For control of leeway keel boards were set between the logs. Midway
through the voyage they discovered that placing the keels at the
appropriate distance from the mast allowed trimming of the vessel and
mitigated the efforts required by the steersman. Interestingly the gaps
between the logs also meant that when a sea came aboard it quickly
dissipated, putting little load on the vessels tie lines and rarely
penetrating as far forward as the cabin ( the seas were almost always
from aft as Kon-Tiki always sailed downwind, the Norwegians' being gentlemen).
Kon-Tiki. Somewhere in French Polynesia, by the French tricolor at the masthead.
Interesting as well was the fact that the growth of seaweed on the
rafts bottom caused her to attract all sorts of sea life - small fish,
medium fish, large fish (Dorado and Tunny), which in turn apparently
attracted all sorts of sharks, from Whale Sharks on down. Whether is
was this, or just her unusual presence, she also attracted porpoises
and all sorts of whales, who would come miles out of their way to
visit. Tim Severin mentions the curiously exhibited by whales as well,
when sailing Brendan through the North Atlantic - apparently they avoid
motor yachts and (mostly) small sailing vessels.
We were visited by whales many times. Most often they were small
porpoises and toothed whales which gamboled about us in large schools
on the surface of the water, but now and then there were big cachalots,
too, and other great whales which appeared singly or in small schools.
Sometimes they passed like ships on the horizon, now and again sending
a cascade of water into the air, but sometimes they steered straight
for us. We were prepared for a dangerous collision the first time a big
whale altered course and came straight toward the raft in a purposeful
manner. As it gradually grew nearer, we could hear its blowing and
puffing, heavy and long drawn, each time it rolled its head out of the
water. It was an enormous, thick-skinned, ungainly land animal that
came toiling through the water, as unlike a fish as a bad is unlike a
bird. It came straight toward our port side, where we stood gathered at
the edge of the raft, while one man sat at the masthead and shouted
that he could see seven or eight more making their way towards us.
The big shining black forehead of the first whale was not more
than two yards from us when it sank beneath the surface of the water,
and then we saw the enormous blue-black bulk glide quietly under the
raft beneath our feet. It lay there for a time, dark and motionless,
and we held our breath as we looked down on the gigantic curved back of
a mammal a good deal longer than the whole raft. Then it sank slowly
through the bluish water and disappeared from sight.
The sea life surrounding Kon-Tiki
meant that fishing was ridiculously easy and that they never wanted for
meat (despite leaving the whales alone).
Something similar is mentioned by Steve Callahan in Adrift,
when he floated in a small emergency raft across the Atlantic to the
West Indies after his boat foundered off the Azores. The growth on the
bottom of his raft encouraged various fish to hang around (and he hints
at a mystic belief that they were deliberately offering themselves up
to him). He too mentioned that fish meat and eyeballs (ugh!) contain
enough fresh water to sustain human life. Heyerdahl mentions that every
day a fine plankton mesh could easily collect enough plankton to keep a
man alive (once the jellyfish had been removed from the mix).
- I was standing, buttering my morning bagel, when I heard an odd trickling
sound. At first I thought it was the coffee maker, then perhaps a slow
running drain from the shower upstairs. No such luck. In true Monday
fashion it was one of the brand new feed lines to the brand new water
heater, leaking and making a mess in the garage. After shutting off the
water (the tank valve inline valve wasn't working) I finished breakfast, then
bought another line and replaced the bad piece. I also replaced a
couple of leaky washers in the house exterior faucets, as long as the
water was off.
In the evening I watched Season 2 Disk 1 of The Mentalist. I had seen some of them on reruns, but it was nice to see them uncut and in order.
- I went over to some friends for pizza and DVD viewing last night. My
friend S is a master of pizza making, it now far surpasses anything you
can get in a pizza place. The DVD was several episodes of Dexter.
I haven't seen much of the show since a couple of first episodes in the
first season, and this is from the third or fourth season, so it was
The interesting thing about this week's POTW was, to me, the crudity of
the setup. The controls for the watertight doors are hydraulic, as
you'd expect of a vessel built pre-WWII, but the unit is set off to one
side of the rear of the bridge bulkhead. It has a simple wood panel,
and a couple of buttons (missing - might have been levers). There is no
attempt to make it part of a whole, it's just off in it's own little
corner. Given that the British designed for submarine warfare, (WWI was
a big wakeup call for them) and the seriousness of the WWII submarine
threat, one might expect a little more prominence.
I've read a lot of books over the last couple of weeks, as I said, just hanging out with Phoebe. One set of books was The Parasol Protectorate series, set in an alternate "steampunk" universe. Light but entertaining.
Book #108 is, therefore, Soulless, by Gail Carriger. Book #109 is Changeless, and Book #110 was Blameless, and Book #111 was Heartless.
These are the adventures of one Alexia Maccon, who lives in an
alternate steampunk universe, where Queen Victoria rules over her
empire, which includes both Vampires and Werewolves as subjects - and
Alexia herself, who has the power to rob both of their powers, due to
her lack of a 'soul'. This lack of a soul makes her preternaturally
(heh) calm and deliberate, an excellent detective...