sailing the NorSea


WEEK 48 2011

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First Post, 17 March 2002
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Saturday 3 December 2011
Saturday - A birthday party today for a friends' boy. I gave him an audio copy of The Hunger Games, and his parents gave him his first smartphone, a Droid Commando, which he then spent hours playing with. It reminds me of my experience with my first smartphone, the XV-6600, back in the day.

Well, finally, a date for John Carter (of Mars): March 9, 2011. I always kind of wince when I see "Disney" involved anywhere in the production of a science fiction movie; a conditioned response from a viewing of "The Black Hole" when young. Maybe this will be better.

A still from the trailer: Martian flyer's under attack.

I don't think there were death rays (laser or particle beam weapons)  in the original John Carter books. Instead there were nuclear tipped bullets & guns  accurate to a distance of hundreds of miles. For some reason Burroughs's didn't make the obvious conclusion that flying vessel's were impractical because of this.

Book #141 was The A.I. War: The Big Boost, by Daniel Keys Moran. This is actually a sequel to books he wrote nearly twenty years ago. Not bad, but it didn't seem to have the same oommff as I remember The Long Run and The Last Dancer having. Plus, it essentially ends mid-action.

Friday 2 December 2011
Friday - not much to say, it's been pretty quiet. I did go out to dinner with some friends, down in Palmdale. We had a nice dinner, lingering for a couple of hours. I had my favorite comfort food, roast beef, mashed potato's and a vegetable - it's what mom used to make!

The Christmas rush has already started, traffic was backed up from the AV Mall exit onto the freeway, a good quarter of a mile. I bypassed that exit and took the Palmdale boulevard exit and looped back. As with almost all traffic layouts in Palmdale, a poorly designed effort. Back in the 1990's Palmdale was notorious for it's city council being in complete thrall to developer's who didn't really want to spend any of their profits on public infrastructure. Palmdale drivers are still paying the price.

friday cat photo
Riley enjoying the morning sun on his tummy.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Thursday - Over at Old Picture of the Day it's been a week on Zeppelins/dirigibles. They've always been a mild interest of mine, and I had a couple thoughts on their failure to have much market penetration, while looking at the pictures.

The first is that there weren't many. The last four that the Zeppelin company built were:
As can be seen, not many were built. The Zeppelin design/construction phase end with the Graf Zeppelin at #130, and some (LZ-128) were never built. The Hindenberg and Graf Zeppelin II made up the entire Hindenberg class, a class of two. So the manufacturing/operation experience was very limited, and the dirigibles, despite being "in service" should be considered experimental or prototype vehicles.

Compare this to a much earlier vehicle, the Sopworth Camel, first flight in 1916. It had a class size of nearly 5,500 vehicles. The German Ju 88 dive bomber prototype had it's first flight at about the same time as the Graf Zeppelin II, and over 15,000 were built (admittedly more useful than zeppelin's for an ongoing war).

Essentially, because of their size, their expense, and the time and infrastructure needed to build them, not many (comparatively) were built, and the evolutionary pressures that caused the quick advancement of heavier than air vehicles was missed. Or, rather, operated at such a slow pace that the airship concept became obsolete before it became practical. For example, only on Graf Zeppelin II was water recovery from the engine exhaust used to keep the vessel correctly ballasted as fuel was burned off. And they were still fooling about with propellers of wood, that became unbalanced as they absorbed water.

The other thought is that proximity to the ground is bad, even more so than with fixed wing aircraft. Apart from wartime losses, a great many of the accidents and problems were due simply to this large, hard to maneuver, relatively fragile and generally underpowered vehicle striking the ground. Even some of the inflight accidents might have turned out better had the vehicles not been flying at low altitudes.

Book #139 was Wearing the Cape, by Marion Harmon. Amusing. It's the story of a young girl, getting ready for college, who becomes a super-hero by accident. Kind of an interesting look at the superhero world, when after some strange event a certain portion of the worlds inhabitants become super-hero's and super-villain's (depending on their outlook).

Book #140 was Villains, Inc., Parts I, II, and III, the sequel to Wearing the Cape. Just a continuation, light and amusing, but also a bit thoughtful.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Wednesday  - The wind is howling outside. Quite literally, at above about 45mph there is a howling/screaming under the eaves of my house. The KWJF weather had the wind in mid afternoon as 35mph sustained, gusting to 50.

I remember a few years back my sister and brother-in-law visiting and being unnerved by the wailing. Discussing the weather at Thanksgiving with a local friend, we had both noticed that this had been an unseasonably cool and calm fall. That's ended now.

By nightfall all the leaves on the tree out front were gone. And none were on the lawn. Heh. Not like last year at all. I feel sorry for the guys down the street...

This being the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, I'm feeling a bit reflective. Here are some books that were eye openers for me. Not an exhaustive list, but important books to me at the time:
  1. Treasure Island. Source: my father. It's the oldest book I can remember reading. I still have the dog-eared (abridged) copy. Age: seven.
  2. Needle. Source: my sister. Introduced (and hooked) me to science fiction. Fourth or fifth grade, so...ten years old.
  3. The Real Book of Submarines. Source: Eureka Public library. Sixth grade? Fascination with the sea starts.
  4. Triplanetary. Source: paperback rack at a supermarket. My first space opera fix. Seventh grade.
  5. Ringworld. Source: shelf at B. Dalton's Bookseller.Hard(ish) science fiction, in a modern vein. Blew me away in High school.
  6. Lord of Light. Source: shelf at B. Daltons Bookseller. Science fiction can be like real literature. High School.
  7. Trimaran, Third Book. Source: Martinez Public Library.Hooked me on the idea of solo sailing.  High School.
  8. The Cruel Sea. Source: my father.World War II was not a glorious crusade, but a war in which the good guys won by perseverance. High School.
  9. Arundel. Source: my father. A novel that made history, American history in particular, interesting. High School.
  10. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Source: Martinez Public Library? The future will be a battle against oppression. High School.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Tuesday - The back feeling restored I dared to mow the front lawn. It was somewhat leaf covered - most leaves are still on the tree but I filled the mower bag a good eight times. It looks better, but I'd like to edge it as well. And the flower bed needs cleaning out.

The back lawn needs mowing, but not as badly. I set the sprinklers to every other day, once. I might change them to every third day towards the end of the month.

I need to put the Christmas lights up.

I was trying, the other day, to figure out how old my "new" main system was. Looking through the "This Week" stuff up near the top, Week #48 of 2002 shows me buying components to build a system. I'm pretty sure that silver Antec case was the P4 2.4GHz box, the one that's running Ubuntu now and giving me trouble. Which makes it (2011-2002) = 9 years old.

So the P4 3.2Ghz system must be newer than that.

Monday 28 November 2011

Monday - Not much going on. Cold and rather gloomy out.

Book #138 was Kill the Dead, by Richard Kadrey. This is the sequel to Sandman Slim, in which our protagonist has to defeat a Zombie outbreak and act as a bodyguard for the Devil.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Sunday - Still fiddling with the images backup. There are several major backups on the external terabyte drive, over the last five years or so, and things are slightly different between each. It's frustrating.

Worrisome is that the old Ubuntu 10.10, P4 2.4GHz P4 box failed to start once, giving an ascii "READ ERROR" message on the monitor. Which means...what? It's so generic that I don't know if it was a system error, a hardware failure, or what. After a couple of reboots it started and seems OK. The system log didn't really show anything, so I'm thinking it could be issues 10 year old hardware. The power supply or hard drive, even the motherboard are possibilities. I've left it booted since then.

This, of course, is the system I've been using to generate the grand complete image backup.

Book #137 was Sandman Slim, by Richard Kadrey. This is a violent noir-ish fantasy, wherein our hero comes back from Hell to wreak various sorts of vengeance on his enemies. He's technically an anti-hero, a good guy not aligned (to say the least) with the forces of Heaven, and so on. Actually fairly decent, if a bit horrific in spots.

Not a bad day out, I took a nice walk. The leaves are starting to change, those on the peach tree in back are gone, and the leaves on the tree's in the front yards along the street are yellowing.

Picture of the Week
Grand Canyon 2005
Photo Notes: The Grand Canyon, during descent, Nov. 2005.

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