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WEEK 48 2005

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Saturday 3 December 2005

Saturday - Book #47 is "A Thread Across the Ocean". This is the story of the attempt to lay the first telegraph cable across the North Atlantic, specifically from Ireland to Newfoundland, but with the aim of connecting the financial markets of London and New York. That sounds dull and prosaic, but the author makes the 1840's, 1850's, and 1860's come alive as Cyrus W. Fields tries to do the impossible. An excellent book.

In other news, I heard the "Christmas Shoes" song for the first time this season. Only 22 days left to be ambushed again by that musical horror...

Friday 2 December 2005

Friday - back by popular demand - your Friday cat blogging returns!

Phobe gets ready to attach Riley
Phoebe and Riley prepare to rumble!

I was talking with some another engineers at work, and we were discussing cases of actual-in-flight flutter/buzz/divergence. So far we have come up with:
There are lot's of other cases, obviously.

As I had recalled it, the Beech problem wasn't really in the aircraft,  it was just that it was too easy to take the aircraft past it's known (and perfectly reasonable) airspeed limits and tear the empennage off. But the article linked above casts some doubt on that explanation.

"Jane Galt" has a nice quote on the housing bubble: "the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent". Heh.

Thursday 1 December  2005

Thursday - almost done with the MATLAB manual. I don't remember all - or even most - of the material, but I'm getting the feel of the program (I've programmed long enough that I don't sweat the small syntactical details.). It's a remarkable thing, in and of itself. Enormously powerful, enormously flexible, enormously extensible. I'm looking forward to trying it out on some real world problems.

Went to an event tonight, with friends (we got free tickets). It was sort of a comedy evening, presented by a nun. Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold. Very entertaining.

Wednesday 30 November 2005

Wednesday - hmmm. I just realized that I never got back to writing about the Havasupai hike, or even finishing the GC hike narrative. I'll have to do that one of these days...

Mostly working with MATLAB. I borrowed a text from someone who recently took a course on it, and it's going well. The only drawback is that the text is for version 7.0, but the version on the PC is version 6.5 - there are just a few differences. There actually is a version of 7 on the Solaris box, but the text in the command and workspace windows (and particularly HELP) is messed up somehow in the unix-2-win conversion.

But really, it's a powerful program. I also read a bit more on MPI, asked the library to get a copy of Peter Pacheco's book, and played with Autocad as well. But I am so rusty at Autocad that I soon gave it up, until I can get a manual for that.

I was thinking about Washington's raid on Trenton. Ten miles marching, at night, in the snow, up river. Crossing an ice clogged river with horse and cannon. Another ten mile march through the snowy darkness (two men froze to death), and then fighting and winning a battle. Then, repeating the march in reverse, to get back to safety.

The general's he left behind - to cross the river without any marching - they gave it up as impossible. He ended up attacking with less than half the force he should have had.

I just walked ten miles, in daylight, with modern hiking gear  - my respect for those soldiers is enormous, just for the marching.

Tuesday 29 November 2005

Tuesday -  my friend Dave called to ask about the mystery animal at the Havasupai campground. He now thinks that it may have been a porcupine. Do they have porcupines in the Grand Canyon?

Did a bit of reading on MPI today - it seems similar to PVM, just another message passing scheme. Also did some more MATLAB research, and got a brief tutorial on how to access PATRAN, NASTRAN, and ZAERO on the remote servers at work.

Washington crossing the Delaware
Washington crossing the Delaware [via Wikipedia]

Monday 28 November 2005

Monday - one thing that struck me about the early Revolutionary War battles mentioned in 1776 was the small number of casualties in these battles. The Battle of Brooklyn, of White Plains, and even of Trenton, had far fewer dead than we might expect in these times. That sounds callous - but battles between thousands of men, armed with cannon and musket, often seem to have had only twenty or thirty dead, and perhaps a couple of hundred wounded.

If one were to use the movie, The Patriot, for an example, Mel Gibson alone was portrayed as having killed that many (with his bare hands).

I'm not rooting for more casualties, and the American militia's deplorable tendency to run away probably had something to do with the low numbers, but even the Hessians, surprised at dawn on Christmas by George Washington, and forced to surrender en masse, only had a hundred or so.

Sunday 27 November 2005

Sunday - just a day lazing about, really. Not a lot to say.

I also finished Book #46, Knife of Dreams, by Robert Jordan. This is a fantasy series, and a long one. The longest of all time? Maybe. This book eleven, and the books have all been long., six, seven, eight hundred pages. The last couple of books really dragged, but someone said that this volume had a little more pizzazz, and, in fact, it does.

Dave and I listened to the his John Adams biography, by McCullough, on CD, during our trip. Unfortunately we didn't finish it, so I can't really claim that as a book read. Also it was abridged, which explains some of the huge gaps in the audio, and hugely annoyed Dave. I remember looking at Dave and saying "That's it?" after the Revolutionary War section was done, for example. After he got home he went to the book store and checked - and found that the price sticker was carefully put over the small "abridged" statement on each copy.

Looking at the Amazon link, there is an unabridged version on CD. Maybe he should return the version he got, and get that?

What was there, was good. And reading and listening to a bunch of these books lets' one start putting things in context. Different viewpoints and different emphasis are given by different authors to the same people and events - just like modern history, sometimes you just have to make up your mind as whom to believe..

Picture of the Week

Scary Graffiti

Photo Notes: Scary Graffiti.

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