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WEEK 44 2004

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Saturday 30 October 2004

Saturday -

When cleaning up last week I hauled dozens of books up to the "library" (which is just a spare bedroom with bookshelves on all the walls, right up to the ceiling, and a chair). But I left a lot of "books to read" downstairs - the number being limited by the space available, which was about a yard of shelf. I counted them yesterday - fifty two of them. Fifty two. Where am I going to get the time? Sure, 'Kiowa Trail' will just take an hour or so, but 'Proofs and Refutations' will probably take a complete week's evenings, at the least. 'Self Sufficient Sailing' will take a couple of days,  'Labyrinths of Iron' the same. And I keep meaning to read more on aeroelasticity and finite elements, graphics and parallel processing, spaceflight and physics, math, history, science. Not to mention books on my upstairs shelfs that I haven't opened in a couple of decades, 'Sword at Sunset' for example (a favorite of my paternal grandmother), or 'The Last of the Wine'.  The list just goes on.

You know, it's really not that bad a situation to be in. Lots to look forward to.

Okay, so I said last week that the Edward's primping video wasn't important. I still say that. But - with the proper editing and sound track - it is hilarious: The Choice.

Computers and Engineering
When I went to resurrect my old 'Hobbiton' beowulf cluster earlier this year I found that the first two machines I tried to use - Bilbo and Sam, had died. Later I used their carcasses - er, cases - to build other machines with new mainboards, new harddrives and so on - those $45 mobo's and cpu's bought off Ebay for example. Last weekend, while cleaning up, I decided to check on the other (unused) boxes and found that their old ABIT BP6 motherboards booted. By putting the hard drives of  Sam and Bilbo (which I had saved) into the working boxes I now have a 4-node cluster available to me again. An ancient, slow cluster of Celeron 350's, but at the least some of the s/w I wrote should be on them somewhere. It is all a mixture of Redhat 7.1 and 8.0 using RSH and PVM, with the Intel Linux for Fortran compiler.

Friday 29 October 2004

Friday - cat blogging:
Can in the sun puddle
Phoebe takes it easy in the sunshine..

An reader's entertaining review of a history book at

Blegh yuck
This book is badly written, and the language is completely foggy. This guy can go on and on about a simple concept, and jeez it's almost as though he is ranting on about the first thing that comes to mind in big words. His writing technique seems to be to interrupt every sentence w/ foggy off the subject information in perenthesis. By the time you figure out what the hell he is talking about, you forget what the sentence was about in the first place. Have you ever talked to someone who began telling you a story but then interrupted it 85 times w/ other small events? It's like that. Must he include EVERY thought that came into his mind while writing?

Thursday 28 October  2004

Thursday - turns out that the clouds broke Wednesday night and I took some pictures of a moon myself - Luna, undergoing an eclipse! The new digicam was the camera of choice, with it's 18x zoom. I was still unfamiliar with the manual settings mode, so these are mostly autofocus, but really quite amazing.

early stages of lunar eclipse, 25%
Early stages of lunar eclipse, about 25%

lunar eclipse, about 65%
Lunar eclipse, about 65%

lunar eclipse, 95%
Lunar eclipse, about 95%

Wednesday 27 October 2004

Wednesday - wow. Here it is, Titan in all it's glory! Congratulations to the people at ESA and NASA who made it happen! And there will be a probe down to the surface soon.

Saturns Moon, Titan
Saturn's moon Titan, as seen from the Cassini spacecraft

Tuesday 26 October 2004
Tuesday - working away on things.

Mid afternoon held an unpleasant surprise - a friend called to say that her daughter had come home from school and surprised someone burglarizing their house. She apparently came in one door and they left by the other, at the same time. Fortunately no-one was hurt, nothing was taken, but it's a shock. The sheriff, upon receiving a call, at first refused to send anyone out to a teenager alone in a vandalized house as the burglars had seemingly left. Lazy or incompetent? I was the first adult there and stayed most of the afternoon.

I have a very low opinion of the sheriff's department in this town, as I've said before.

Pouring rain this evening.

Why Yellow Journalism is a Good Thing:
There's been some talk about missing Iraqi explosives in the news. As I suspected, it was an untrue last minute hit piece by the New York Times. The explosives were last seen under "seal" by the UN a month before the war started - the UN having refused to destroy them despite requests from their own inspectors - and were already missing by the time the Americans came through some weeks after the start of the war.

Although sad in some ways to see the Times burn it's credibility to the ground, maybe it's a good thing. Open and obvious partisanship makes it easier to detect and allow for bias. Yellow journalism has returned, yes, but it's absence was only a momentary aberration in the American press.

It is better to know a bitter truth: media news is about entertainment, politics and money; than to live believing in a comfortable fantasy: media news is about "truth".

Monday 25 October 2004

Monday - the new digicorder is interesting. It's really two devices in one body. The first is a digital camera of 1.3 Megapixels and a 18X stabilized zoom. WhooHoo! It records stills or MPEG to a SD card. The second device is a mini-DV camcorder, which records to digital tape. The still camera has it's own software - ZoomBrowser EX, and downloads via a USB2.0 port. The camcorder uses Pinnacle Studio 9 SE, and downloads via a separate Firewire (1394) port. It's an amazing machine.

It reminds me, in some ways, of that over-under 22/410 survival rifle I lusted after as a teenager.

Still running the jobs, though, can't use the camera s/w...

Sunday 24 October 2004

Sunday - busy, but not in expected ways. I was expecting company so spent some time cleaning and such. But they had to cancel so I'd the day to myself.

So, watched football, visited with some friends in town, and took the new digicorder out to Apollo Park for some footage there. Ducks, hawks, various people on bikes and skateboards, planes and helicopters from nearby Fox Field. It was a nice afternoon out. But when I got back I couldn't download the pictures - my computers were running flat out on some big CFD jobs and there wasn't enough RAM available to run the camera s/w, even with the big jobs suspended. I've a gigabyte of RAM, so that gives you a clue as to how big the jobs are.

Sigh. Later in the week maybe. I've figured out how to download stuff, but now I need to learn the video editing s/w.

Star Trek: Enterprise was on in the early evening. I think this is a repeat of an episode airing earlier in the week, it is definitely a episode from this season, but I'm not sure when. It aired on Wednesday's last season, but that spot is now filled with one of these generic soap operas that appear to have transitioned to the evening, Orange County, One Tree Hill, or something. I don't watch them, but, like the "reality" shows they seem to appeal to people. 'Dallas' was the first of these, really it's sort of odd that it took this long to become prevalent.

Ok, went to the UPN schedules page, and the Enterprise now airs on Friday night.

Picture of the Week

Catalina 22 on trailer

Photo Notes: Sailing related pic - again - surprise! This is a Catalina 22 on a trailer, somewhere at a gas station along the I-5. Looks like quite a tow. I've thought of getting a trailable boat from time to time, but I'd need more than the V-6 in the Explorer to pull something like this.

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