July 2006 Archives

Simple 3D

Talk about an oxymoron but... Simple 3D is a canonical list of resources for working with three dimensional graphics. Links to manufacturers, software, DIY websites, CNC, Books, Industry Associations, Image Processing. Like I said, a canonical list. Good stuff!

About Fricken' Time!

From UPI:
DDT about to be reintroduced as pesticide
GENEVA, Switzerland, July 27 (UPI) -- One of the most controversial chemicals on Earth -- DDT -- is about to make a comeback as a prime weapon in the fight against malaria in Africa.

Scientists say DDT helped eradicate malaria from the United States during the 1940s, but was indiscriminately overused for agricultural purposes during the 1950s and 1960s.

Beginning in the 1970s, the United States and several European nations banned the pesticide, largely due to concerns about environmental harm. Pressure from international agencies also led many African countries to abandon DDT's use.

But the world's malaria epidemic continued to escalate, killing an estimated 1 million people annually -- about 90 percent of them children under the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa.

Now, the World Health Organization is set to endorse the use of DDT for malaria control and the U.S. Agency for International Development has approved DDT's reintroduction.

Scientists, reporting in the August issue of the journal Nature, say evidence suggests specific use of the chemical in targeted indoor house-spraying programs should pose a low risk of adverse consequences on the environment and on human health.
Congratulations to all the enviros who pushed this back until now. The deaths of two million people each year are on your souls. The knee-jerk reaction to DDT (ooooo -- baaaaad!!!) comes from the fact that in the 50s and 60s, we were marinating the ecosystem in it. It doesn't harm mammals. The damage to egg shells and the concept of "beneficial insects" didn't come until later. Still, we were getting a lot of deaths from Malaria that could have been cured from a light dusting. The UN and WHO tried other techniques that were either too complicated or expensive. The solution was always out there, a minimal dusting of DDT inside the house on the walls but DDT was always baaaaad!!! Like I say, about fricken' time... Hat tip to Junk Science


One of the key elements to success in business is to differentiate yourself from your competition. If everyone makes widgets, the price per widget sinks to the barest minimum to sustain the business of manufacture.

If you differentiate yourself from the other manufacturers, you can command a higher price as your widget is somehow more desirable than all those other widgets...

David St. Lawrence writes a blog called Ripples and has an excellent two-parter (so far) on this concept: Part One, Part Two

You are not a commodity - don't act like one - Part 1
If you do not stand out from the crowd, you risk being considered a commodity. This has serious implications for the self-employed businessperson or artist.

Commodities are goods, services, or individuals that are virtually indistinguishable from others of the same type and are usually purchased or hired on the basis of price.

Gasoline, toilet paper, and kitty litter are three product examples that immediately come to mind. Bank cashiers, supermarket checkout clerks, and system administrators are treated as commodities because they are not hired because of their individuality, but because they are a known quantity at a convenient price.

The same can happen to musicians, potters, and plumbers who do not differentiate their services from everyone elses.

Very true -- we have a booth at a local Farmers Market where we sell produce from our market garden. Jen also makes soaps and lotions and I do photography and blacksmithing.

Another participant does herbal remedies and salves -- neither Jen or I would dream of branching into that area ourselves although we know the technologies involved and could turn out a good product.

The market is like a small and close family and we are there to make money but also, we are there to support the community and to make the market strong. Each participant offers something unique and although the prices are high, the level of quality is commensurate and people are paying without blinking an eyelash.

Our area is a major vacation resort with winter sports (Snowboarding was invented here), lots of river rafting, hiking, backpacking and it is also a fun place for motorcycle riding. We get several hundred people to the market each Sunday -- not bad for a town of under 100 full-time residents. Not being a commodity is why this all works so very well.

Boston's Big Dig

You may have heard about this engineering project when part of a concrete ceiling fell, killing a passenger in the car underneath. The entire tunnel system is shut down now pending a detailed investigation. Design News has a good article with links about this emerging fiasco:

Boston's Big Dig -- One of Engineering's Biggest Mistakes?
The faulty bolt and epoxy assemblies that led to more headlines about Boston's Big Dig/Central Artery Tunnel Project was just the kind of engineering who-done-it engineers find irresistible. Was the wrong epoxy used? Was the design faulty? Or was poor installation the reason for the failure?

"Tension anchors such as this are required to have a factor of safety (by code) of at least 4. Considering that, it appears that the assembly had been holding for a while and gave way," posts a reader on Eng-tips.com. "That points more so toward an installation anomaly, likely exacerbated by vibration or other repetitive loading, or potentially a material failure (excessive creep under load, embrittlement, corrosion, etc.), or as usual, some combination of those."

The investigation, which found faulty assemblies, was sparked by the July 10 death of a 39-year-old woman after 12 tons of cement ceiling panels fell on the car her husband was driving inside the I-90 connector tunnel more than two weeks ago.

As a result, several portions of Boston's $14.6 billion Big Dig/Central Artery Tunnel Project have been shut down. Ongoing investigations by federal and state officials are uncovering additional problems almost on a daily basis.

On July 12, according to a Boston Globe report, inspectors found at least 60 faulty bolt fixtures in the ceiling of the tunnel. On that same day, Attorney General Tom Reilly says tests conducted in 1999 showed that the ceiling bolts had a tendency to come loose.

On Wednesday, July 26, the Herald reported they obtained documents revealing that Big Dig officials noted six years ago that epoxy ceiling supports were failing in the same tunnel section where the deadly accident occurred, but allowed the continued use of that "superglue" system to support 3-ton concrete slabs.

On Thursday, July 27, Mass Turnpike Authority Chairman Matt Amorello stepped down from his position, overseeing the project, just before a hearing with Gov. Mitt Romney - a strong proponent of Amorello�s resignation.

While doubts about the infrastructure's safety are only coming to light now -- a December 1998 Inspector General's Report reviewing the project's use of anchor bolts documents numerous problems with the bolts and glue used to secure the ceiling in the Ted Williams Tunnel which opened to traffic in 1995. The I-90 connector connects the Mass Pike with the Ted Williams Tunnel.

The Inspector General's Report discloses several findings which would indicate a problem could occur:poor design specifications, paying contractors to test improperly installed anchor bolts and lack of consultation with tunnel designers before allow contractors to drill through steel reinforcements in the tunnel roof.

I went to school at Boston University and worked for New England Aquarium -- at that time, traffic was served by a series of elevated arterials and rush hour was an enormous contradiction in terms. The Big Dig is a perfect example of tax and spend politics so favored by largish cities (Seattle included) -- the elevateds could have been widened but no, they had to be torn down and this new tunnel system installed. It was supposed to take seven years and cost $2.6 Billion. It is now fifteen years later and the cost so far is $14.6 Billion and the project is not yet finished. Seattle wants to do a mini-me version of this, tearing down an elevated viaduct and replacing it with a tunnel. Riiiggghhhhttt...

Not as much fnu as expected!!!

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Back up on the farm -- moving my Mom and Dad's stuff went relatively smoothly. Around 4:00PM I was talking with my Mom about moving some file cabinets and she started digging in her heels about needing to "sort through" them before they left. We were all tired so we called it quits and Jen and I drive back home that evening. Spent today unpacking the 17-foot truck into their garage and tomorrow, we go pick up 100 bales of hay from a local farmer's field. This evening is slightly chilly -- a nice precursor to Fall and especially welcome after the unusually warm weather we have been having. The warm weather has been a royal boon to the river runners -- this is a major area for river rafting and usually, they only have a few weeks to really operate. The extra heavy snowpack from this winter has been melting away from the heat and providing a very nice rafting conditions. The river water, normally greenish is very gray and muddy. There are several companies operating in an impromptu "compound" near the town's gas station/quick mart, a great Mexican restaurant and the liquor store. Location, location, location... Blogging will be light for a few days -- got the hay tomorrow and the Farmer's Market on Sunday.

Auction fun!

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Even with pending fnu, I took today off to attend this auction: City of Marysville. The city had purchased the land and assets of a much-loved local sawmill and allowed the parent company to strip it of anything it wanted -- much of which was recycled to other mills they had. All that was left was a bunch of small stuff and the "big iron" machinery. The city will be using some of the buildings for shop space but will be converting the property over to parkland in a few years. The property is located on a riverfront and is a good choice for a park -- gorgeous views and as I was attending the auction, a Bald Eagle perched on one of the pilings just hanging out watching for the odd fish to swim by. I came back with two bandsaw blades, an older DELL PowerEdge server, a bunch of very nice chipper blades and some electrical components. Here is a photo of a bandsaw blade similar to the two that I bought:
To give you a sense of scale, the blade is 12" wide and 1/8" thick. The blade is 31 feet long. My blades were located four stories above ground where the blade shop used to be -- they would hoist the blades up to the shop and then use trapdoors to lower them down to the various saws on the mill floor. Since the building had no power to it, I had no hoist and the stairwell had several 90 degree bends. My solution was to drop it off the roof. The security/safety officer from the Auction company warned people to stand back and I had quite the audience as I let these puppies fly. Each one weighed about 80-100 pounds and is made from high-carbon spring steel. They bounced a few times and then shimmied on the ground for a good fifteen seconds with the most wonderful sound. I wish that I had brought my camcorder to record this. The people below made the appropriate Ohhhh sounds... I will be using these as blanks for knife-making. The level of carbon is critical as too much will make it brittle and not enough, you cannot hold an edge. I did a quick test this evening and these blades are perfect -- I heated and quenched a strip of the metal in cold water and it snapped cleanly when bent in the vice. Properly quenched in oil and then tempered, it will hold an edge for a nice long time but still be able to bend and be bumped without fear of breaking. The chipper blades are much thicker steel and are an air-hardening tool steel. Tempering these will be a bit trickier. Also, they are much thicker and will need a lot more work to turn into a blade. The steel is superior though and these will be some nice pieces to grow into. A few more pictures:
Overall view of the mill grounds

Logs come in through this debarker and are cut...

...by this custom cutting saw which is operated...

...by someone sitting at this console.
Quite the number of controls and it is
all intended to be operated by one person.
A nice low pressure,
entry level position.
All in all, a fun day, just don't anyone tell Jen about the speeding ticket I picked up on my way there. Was doing 70 in a 60 zone. So was everyone else, I was just the person he chose to pull over. Dang!

Dust to Dust

Interesting article at A Western Heart about the "dust-to-dust" prices of automobiles.

I had written about this back in April, 2006: An interesting number but JR's post amplifies this a bit and relays some more info:

Have You Hugged a Hummer Today?
Hybrid vehicles' overall energy costs exceed those of comparable non-hybrids

Ford Motor Company did itself a huge favor recently by backing away from its pledge to bump-up its hybrid production ten-fold in four years. But, as it turns out, the company might have done the planet a whale of a favor too. Just last fall, CEO Bill Ford was valiantly promising in a mega-million dollar ad campaign that the company would never, ever turn away from its hybrid pledge because these vehicles were central to the company's reputation as an "innovator and environmental steward."

Never mind that at the time Ford was losing $2,000 to $3,000 for every hybrid it sold because consumers won't pay the entire $6,000 extra that it costs to produce a hybrid over its gas-powered counterpart. Never mind also that in the real world -- outside of the Environmental Protection Agency's tax-payer funded testing sites -- hybrids don't deliver anywhere close to the gas mileage that the agency attributes to them, as auto-writer Richard Burr reported in the Weekly Standard.

Bill Ford had given his word on hybrids and you could take that to the bank (ruptcy court). But hybrids have received such a thrashing in the market lately that even Ford was forced to take-off his green eye-shades and read the red-ink on the wall. According to Art Spinella, the uber-auto analyst and President of CNW Marketing Research, hybrid sales every month this year have been down compared to the same time last year. Even sales of the Toyota Prius - the darling of the greens - have dropped significantly. The only segment besides taxis where hybrids are still holding steady - taxpayers will be happy to note -- is the car fleets maintained by the government.

What's particularly interesting is that individual consumers are defying all expectations and turning their backs on hybrids at a time when gas prices are soaring. (The average U.S. retail price of gas spiked to a record high of $3.01 last September following hurricane Katrina, and just last week it hit its second highest price ever at nearly $3.00.) Nor is the reason all that mysterious. Spinella's customer satisfaction surveys show that 62 percent of hybrid owners are dissatisfied with the fuel-economy performance of their cars given what they have paid for them. This means that when gas prices go up, these people don't rush out to buy more hybrids. "They buy a Chevy Aveo," says Spinella. "It delivers the same fuel economy as a Prius, but at half the price."


Spinella spent two years on the most comprehensive study to date - dubbed "Dust to Dust" -- collecting data on the energy necessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a car from the initial conception to scrappage. He even included in the study such minutia as plant-to-dealer fuel costs of each vehicle, employee driving distances, and electricity usage per pound of material. All this data was then boiled down to an "energy cost per mile" figure for each car. Comparing this data, the study concludes that overall hybrids cost more in terms of overall energy consumed than comparable non-hybrid vehicles. But even more surprising, smaller hybrids' energy costs are greater than many large, non-hybrid SUVs.

For instance, the dust-to-dust energy cost of the bunny-sized Honda Civic hybrid is $3.238 per mile. This is quite a bit more than the $1.949 per mile that the elephantine Hummer costs. The energy cots of SUVs such as the Tahoe, Escalade, and Navigator are similarly far less than the Civic hybrid. As for Ford cars, a Ford Escape hybrid costs $3.2 per mile - about a third more than the regular Escape. But on the whole, ironically enough, the dust-to-dust costs of many of the Ford non-hybrids - Fusion, Milan, Zephyr - are not only lower than comparable Japanese hybrids - Prius, Accord -- but also non-hybrids - Seville, Civic.

And the Hummer specifically:

As for Hummers, Spinella explains, the life of these cars averaged across various models is over 300,000 miles. By contrast, Prius' life - according to Toyota's own numbers - is 100,000 miles. Furthermore, Hummer is a far less sophisticated vehicle. Its engine obviously does not have an electric and gas component as a hybrid's does so it takes much less time and energy to manufacture. What's more, its main raw ingredient is low-cost steel, not the exotic light-weights that are exceedingly difficult to make - and dispose. But the biggest reason why a Hummer's energy use is so low is that it shares many components with other vehicles and therefore its design and development energy costs are spread across many cars.

It is not possible to do this with a specialty product like hybrid. All in all, Spinella insists, the energy costs of disposing a Hummer are 60 percent less than an average hybrid's and its design and development costs are 80 percent less.

I'm more of a UniMOG man than a Hummer but the H-1 is awesome now that they have the reliability issue worked out. The H-2 is at best an Urban Shopping Jeep based on the chassis of a Tahoe with a $20K additional fee for the pedestrian coachwork.

The next few days -- fnu

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My wife and I have a code word -- fnu -- fun misspelled. When Murphy looks like an optimist, when the fecal matter really hits the fan blades, when you wake up wondering where you are and why you are in a handbasket... That is fnu. We are looking forward to a few days of that this week. My Mom and Dad are 86 and 91. She is a major control freak who is now confined to a power-chair from arthritis. He is a genius-level scientist (Halliday and Resnick physics textbook and did major work on Electron Spin Resonance) whose brain is gradually leaving him in the state of a very happy three-year-old. They now live in Seattle and have been for the last two years, moving themselves up to Bellingham. They have a nice condo in a Bellingham development that is affiliated with an assisted care facility. They have been moving up a suitcase at a time and my Mom is still setting a goal of having everything "sorted" before moving up. Jen and I have frankly gotten pissed as hell at their bullheadedness and had a little talk with them a few weeks ago. That next day, they agreed to our helping them move in the next couple weeks so we scheduled a time and proceeded to book a hotel room and a truck for those dates. A few days later, my Mom called saying that she didn't want anything in the house moved up because she still needed to sort things out. Today, she called saying that it was too hot to move. Two things: Their condo in Bellingham has a huge two-car garage that they cannot use as the van that my Dad drives (yes...) that supports my Mom's power chair cannot fit in (too high). She can get a bunch of tables and sort there. Re: heat -- they had central air conditioning installed two years ago -- they probably either forgotten this or forgot how to turn it on. Like I said, the next few days will be filled with fnu. We head down Wednesday and move Thursday -- wish us luck!

Disturb us, Lord

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From Maggie's Farm comes this Prayer written by Sir Francis Drake:
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.
Cuts to the bone...

Poets at war

Odd little story from Washington, D.C. From e-ariana:
Afghan poetry groups in D.C. fight a war of words on their art
There aren't many places in the United States that can count poetry societies run by Afghan cab drivers. Washington has two. And they don't like each other.

"An Evening with the Dervishes" prefers what it calls the serious, scholarly pursuit of poetry. The group views itself as a literary clique focusing on masters such as Abdul Qadir Bedil, a 17th century poet and Islamic mystic, or Sufi. Its gatherings feature top scholars and poets.

"An Evening of Sufism," notwithstanding its name, brings all forms of Afghan poetry to large audiences. It also treats attendees to free refreshments and pop-music performances.

On a Friday evening earlier this year, Maroof Popal checked in on "An Evening of Sufism," the group he helped found and later abandoned to establish the more highbrow Dervishes. Inside a drab, low-ceilinged hall, an Afghan woman dressed in a black pantsuit rose to the podium. She informed the audience of nearly 200 that she'd just finished her poem in the parking lot.

Popal, 52, couldn't contain his disappointment. "Why read a poem if you haven't given it much thought?" he muttered, gently slapping his head with the palm of his hand.

As another woman finished her poem about the "new and tragic phenomenon of suicide bombings in our beloved country," the cab driver walked outside for a smoke.

"Nowadays, by the grace of God, there are so many poets and writers out there," he said, taking a drag. "The question is, Do you want to listen to vulgar poetry or listen to someone who can offer us the real thing?"

The ethnic and political tensions that racked Afghanistan in the 1990s have cooled off, despite the recent Taliban insurgency. But having given up battling over the merits of the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, exiled Afghans here have found a new outlet for factional debate: How to celebrate the ancient Afghan art of poetry reading.
Please note, there is a big difference between the medieval islamist jihaddi's grabbing the headlines these days and practitioners of Sufism. A Sufi's practice is to embrace joy, and to "Polish their heart like a mirror so that it may reflect the love of God to the world". My first wife was a Sufi and I really enjoyed meeting these people and forged some great friendships. Some of these people were the most gracious people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I am guessing that we are seeing a variant on "Small Town Politics" within this community. For a good introduction to Sufi poetry; one that is more accessible to the Western mind, check out Jallaludin Rumi, especially the translations by Coleman Barks.

Junk Food

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A passage -- from Yahoo News/AP:
Creator of the Philly cheesesteak dies
Harry Olivieri, who with his brother Pat was credited with inventing the Philly cheesesteak in 1933, had died. He was 90.

Despite a heart condition, Olivieri had showed up at Pat's King of Steaks almost every day until about three years ago. He died of heart failure Thursday at Atlantic City Medical Center in Pomona, N.J., his daughter Maria said.

Harry and his older brother opened a corner hot dog stand near south Philadelphia's Italian Market in 1930.

Three years later, they made the first version of the sandwich that helped put the city on the street food map. Tired of hot dogs, Pat suggested that Harry go to a store and buy some beef. Harry brought it back, sliced it up and grilled it with some onions.

The brothers piled the meat on rolls and were about to dig in when a cab driver arrived for lunch, smelled the meat and onions and demanded one of the sandwiches.

Harry sold the cabbie his own sandwich in a transaction the brothers counted as the birth of Pat's King of Steaks.

Cheez Whiz was added to the steak and onions starting in the 1960s, and provolone, American cheese and pizza sauce later became options in the concoction along with various condiments and side dishes.

Pat Olivieri died in 1970. Harry's son, Frank, now runs the restaurant.
NPR did a nice writeup on the Philly Cheese back in 2000 when they were covering the Republican Convention(WTF?�?�).
The Story Behind the Philadelphia Cheese Steak
Boston boasts of its beans, Coney Island touts its hot dogs, California leads its very own sushi roll, and Texas has its Mex. Everywhere, locals celebrate a culinary delicacy. In the 'City of Brotherly Love," you'll find the Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich.

Most agree the birth of Philly's cheese steak took place at Pat's King of Steaks in the Italian immigrant section of South Philadelphia in 1930. There, Pat Olivieri plied his trade by selling hot dogs and sandwiches until he thought of something else: thinly sliced beef dripping with melted cheese in a bed of saut�ed Spanish onions.

Of course, these days, customers come up and say in their own inimitable way: "cheese wit." That means, "cheese with onions," explains Olivieri's grandson, Frank, Jr., who now follows the tradition set by his grandfather at Pat's King of Steaks.

Today, Olivieri uses thinly sliced rib-eye steak cooked in its own fat with a touch of soybean oil. When it comes to cheese, if you don't want something more traditional like mozzarella or provolone - the latest trend is with Cheese Whiz.

"Ya know, 'The Whiz!'"

Still, you can pretty much have it anyway you want. Many like sauteed sweet and red peppers, mushrooms. Others enjoy pizza sauce topping. One secret of the taste, say self-proclaimed experts, is in the crusty roll. Long and thin like a French baguette -- not too fluffy, but not too soft -- and baked locally with Philadelphia water as an ingredient for an unparalleled flavor.
Cheese does a number on my gut but I sure put down a large number of these things (no cheese please) while growing up in Pittsburgh. Their website is here: Pat's King of Steaks

A missed anniversary - Apollo 11

Let this one slip by.

Thirty-seven years ago, two American astronauts walked on the surface of the moon.


And please note: that is the American Flag up there, not the UN and not any other nation. We did this thing and no one else has been able to. It may be tattered but it is still flying up there! From the Astronautix website:

First landing on moon. Apollo 11 (AS-506) - with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., aboard - was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16. The activities during earth-orbit checkout, translunar injection, CSM transposition and docking, spacecraft ejection, and translunar coast were similar to those of Apollo 10.

At 4:40 p.m. EDT July 18, the crew began a 96-minute color television transmission of the CSM and LM interiors, CSM exterior, the earth, probe and drogue removal, spacecraft tunnel hatch opening, food preparation, and LM housekeeping. One scheduled and two unscheduled television broadcasts had been made previously by the Apollo 11 crew.

The spacecraft entered lunar orbit at 1:28 p.m. EDT on July 19. During the second lunar orbit a live color telecast of the lunar surface was made. A second service-propulsion-system burn placed the spacecraft in a circularized orbit, after which astronaut Aldrin entered the LM for two hours of housekeeping including a voice and telemetry test and an oxygen-purge-system check.

At 8:50 a.m. July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin reentered the LM and checked out all systems. They performed a maneuver at 1:11 p.m. to separate the LM from the CSM and began the descent to the moon. The LM touched down on the moon at 4:18 p.m. EDT July 20. Armstrong reported to mission control at MSC, "Houston, Tranquillity Base here - the Eagle has landed." (Eagle was the name given to the Apollo 11 LM; the CSM was named Columbia.) Man's first step on the moon was taken by Armstrong at 10:56 p.m. EDT. As he stepped onto the surface of the moon, Armstrong described the feat as "one small step for a man - one giant leap for mankind."

Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface of the moon at 11:15 p.m. July 20. The astronauts unveiled a plaque mounted on a strut of the LM and read to a worldwide TV audience, "Here men from the planet earth first set foot on the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." After raising the American flag and talking to President Nixon by radiotelephone, the two astronauts deployed the lunar surface experiments assigned to the mission and gathered 22 kilograms of samples of lunar soil and rocks. They then reentered the LM and closed the hatch at 1:11 a.m. July 21. All lunar extravehicular activities were televised in black-and-white. Meanwhile, Collins continued orbiting moon alone in CSM Columbia.

I vividly remember watching this live on TV with my Mom and Dad. Amazing times and in some senses, an event that has never been duplicated. A real pity that NASA (National Arrows and Spears Administration) got so bureaucratized -- we need to seriously cut their fat and give 10% of their budget to people like Burt Rutan -- we would be back in Space (and reliably!) in a matter of years.

Anyone remember Bob Geldof? Boomtown Rats? Live Aid? Live 8? Well, he gave a concert recently and guess who showed up. 45 people... From News 24/AFP
45 turn up for Geldof gig
Live 8 hero Bob Geldof has been forced to cancel two concerts in Italy because of lack of public interest, after only 45 people turned up to see him perform in Milan, Italy's La Stampa newspaper reported on Saturday.

Geldof walked out of Milan's 12 000-capacity Arena Civica on Friday without playing, given the paltry attendance. His manager explained that a concert for less than 400 people would not be viable, the newspaper said.

The 54-year-old Irish rocker, who said he had flown in from South Africa for the gig, sought to placate angry fans afterwards by promising to give a free concert in September.

A scheduled performance in Rome on Saturday night, for which 300 tickets had been sold, was also cancelled, La Stampa said.

Geldof was the driving force behind 10 Live 8 concerts worldwide a year ago, timed to coincide with a G8 summit hosted by Britain, to raise awareness of the plight of millions of Africans living in poverty.

A decade earlier, he spearheaded the Live Aid concerts to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia.

He originally became famous for leading the punk rock group The Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s.
That has got to suck. Still, he was there with musicians and a full crew, he should have put on the show... Talk about a story for the 45 people in the audience!

Light posting last couple of days

It has been hotter than snot up here. Productivity has taken a nosedive while I hang out in the shade drinking gatorade doing nothing. We have the farmer's market tomorrow and the temps are expected to be in the high 80's / low 90's. I know for my readers in the south that this is peanuts but we only get a week or two of weather like this each year and it still knocks us for a loop when it arrives. Plus, why buy an air conditioner when you will only use it for two weeks out of the year. But one would sure be nice now...


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One of my favorite sites for figuring out exactly what is going on in Windows is Sysinternals. Run by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, these members of the high pantheon of programming have compiled a collection of wonderful (and generally free) utilities that allow you to poke into the dank corners of Windows internal operation. These were the people that discovered the whole Sony root-kit scandal. Well, this month, they got bought out by Microsoft:
On My Way to Microsoft!
I�m very pleased to announce that Microsoft has acquired Winternals Software and Sysinternals. Bryce Cogswell and I founded both Winternals and Sysinternals (originally NTInternals) back in 1996 with the goal of developing advanced technologies for Windows. We�ve had an incredible amount of fun over the last ten years working on a wide range of diverse products such as Winternals Administrator�s Pak, Protection Manager, Defrag Manager, and Recovery Manager, and the dozens of Sysinternals tools, including Filemon, Regmon and Process Explorer, that millions of people use every day for systems troubleshooting and management. There�s nothing more satisfying for me than to see our ideas and their implementation have a positive impact.

That�s what makes being acquired by Microsoft especially exciting and rewarding. I�m joining Microsoft as a technical fellow in the Platform and Services Division, which is the division that includes the Core Operating Systems Division, Windows Client and Windows Live, and Windows Server and Tools. I�ll therefore be working on challenging projects that span the entire Windows product line and directly influence subsequent generations of the most important operating system on the planet. From security to virtualization to performance to a more manageable application model, there�s no end of interesting areas to explore and innovate.

So what�s going to happen to Winternals and Sysinternals? Microsoft is still evaluating the best way to leverage the many different technologies that have been developed by Winternals. Some will find their ways into existing Microsoft products or Windows itself and others will continue on as Microsoft-branded products. As for Sysinternals, the site will remain for the time being while Microsoft determines the best way to integrate it into its own community efforts, and the tools will continue to be free to download.

Personally, I remain committed to the Sysinternals and Windows IT pro communities and so I�ll continue to blog here, to write about Windows technologies, and to speak at conferences. Until I know my Microsoft email address and post it you can continue to contact me at mark@sysinternals.com.

I�m looking forward to making Windows an even better platform for all of us!
This is definitely great news for Microsoft to have two people of Mark and Bryce's caliber join their team but I would hie yourself to the Sysinternals website and download all of their utilities and whatever source code you can find. You may not need them now but their programs are amazing diagnostic and repair tools. I would hate to see them get swept behind the MSFT firewall...

The Encyclopedia of Electronic Music

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An amazingly comprehensive list of musicians, groups, albums, reviews, links, etc... Check out The Encyclopedia of Electronic Music

Just this post for tonight

Ran up to Canada today to do some errands and to have dinner with some good friends.

Making an early evening (relatively) of it...

Finding a pot of...

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Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple presents two views of a rainbow here and here
Left End -- Full Size

Left End -- Close Up

Right End

Coincidence? I think not...

Meet the grilliput

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Very clever idea. A portable stainless steel grill that fits into a small tube. Perfect for backpacking.
Made by these people in Europe (Germany) and sold by these people in North America: Industrial Revolution who seem to carry a number of really fun things...
I had written earlier about the closing of Clark Foam and its impact on the world of surfing. Basically, some environmental pin-dicks in California were concerned about the "toxins" used in the manufacture of the plastic foam blanks used for manufacturing surfboards and Gordon Clark decided to close up shop instead of looking for alternatives (he was 73 at the time of the decision -- some toxins...) The business was effectively moved to England and Seabase Ltd. But, according to Popular Science, technology comes to the rescue:
Saving Surfing
How nuclear physicists are invigorating the surfboard market�and helping the planet

The surfboard industry is going nuclear�and greening up in the process. As early as this summer, boards made from foam designed to protect the electronics and transistors in nuclear warheads could be available at your local surf shop, thanks to LeRoy Whinnery, an enterprising scientist at Sandia National Laboratory. When Whinnery heard the news last December that the world's largest maker of surfboard blanks was shutting down, he realized that the insulating foam he'd been working on for nine years could help fill the gap, with benefits for both surfers and the environment.

TufFoam, as Whinnery's invention has been dubbed, is made without the carcinogenic chemical toluene di-isocyonate, a danger to workers and the local environment, and without CFCs, powerful agents in global warming and ozone-layer destruction. Most surfboard foam is still made with both, and the heavy EPA restrictions on TDI use were one of the reasons that industry giant Clark Foam gave for closing its doors.

A small San Diego foam company, Petritech, licensed TufFoam from the weapons lab in April and believes that it will produce better surfboards. "The primary failure mechanism for boards is that they snap, and TufFoam is significantly stronger than the TDI foams we've tested it against," says Petritech CEO Dave Sheehan. "Plus, we think surfers will appreciate the cleaner chemistry."

So is Whinnery planning to field-test his invention? "My wife is a more serious surfer than I am," he says. "She called to reserve the first TufFoam board a long time ago."
Petritech's website is here: Petritech Cool stuff!

Pat Metheny on Kenny G.

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Wonderful smack-down by Pat Metheny on popular entertainer Kenny G. From Jazz Oasis:
Pat Metheny on Kenny G:
Pat, could you tell us your opinion about Kenny G - it appears you were quoted as being less than enthusiastic about him and his music. I would say that most of the serious music listeners in the world would not find your opinion surprising or unlikely - but you were vocal about it for the first time. You are generally supportive of other musicians it seems.

Pat's Answer:
Kenny G is not a musician I really had much of an opinion about at all until recently. There was not much about the way he played that interested me one way or the other either live or on records.

I first heard him a number of years ago playing as a sideman with Jeff Lorber when they opened a concert for my band. My impression was that he was someone who had spent a fair amount of time listening to the more pop oriented sax players of that time, like Grover Washington or David Sanborn, but was not really an advanced player, even in that style. He had major rhythmic problems and his harmonic and melodic vocabulary was extremely limited, mostly to pentatonic based and blues-lick derived patterns, and he basically exhibited only a rudimentary understanding of how to function as a professional soloist in an ensemble - Lorber was basically playing him off the bandstand in terms of actual music.

But he did show a knack for connecting to the basest impulses of the large crowd by deploying his two or three most effective licks (holding long notes and playing fast runs - never mind that there were lots of harmonic clams in them) at the key moments to elicit a powerful crowd reaction (over and over again). The other main thing I noticed was that he also, as he does to this day, played horribly out of tune - consistently sharp.

Of course, I am aware of what he has played since, the success it has had, and the controversy that has surrounded him among musicians and serious listeners. This controversy seems to be largely fueled by the fact that he sells an enormous amount of records while not being anywhere near a really great player in relation to the standards that have been set on his instrument over the past sixty or seventy years. And honestly, there is no small amount of envy involved from musicians who see one of their fellow players doing so well financially, especially when so many of them who are far superior as improvisors and musicians in general have trouble just making a living. There must be hundreds, if not thousands of sax players around the world who are simply better improvising musicians than Kenny G on his chosen instruments. It would really surprise me if even he disagreed with that statement.
And Pat is just starting to warm to the subject:
Not long ago, Kenny G put out a recording where he overdubbed himself on top of a 30+ year old Louis Armstrong record, the track "What a Wonderful World". With this single move, Kenny G became one of the few people on earth I can say that I really can't use at all - as a man, for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician, for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music.

This type of musical necrophilia - the technique of overdubbing on the preexisting tracks of already dead performers - was weird when Natalie Cole did it with her dad on "Unforgettable" a few years ago, but it was her dad. When Tony Bennett did it with Billie Holiday it was bizarre, but we are talking about two of the greatest singers of the 20th century who were on roughly the same level of artistic accomplishment. When Larry Coryell presumed to overdub himself on top of a Wes Montgomery track, I lost a lot of the respect that I ever had for him - and I have to seriously question the fact that I did have respect for someone who could turn out to have such unbelievably bad taste and be that disrespectful to one of my personal heroes.

But when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great Louis's tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that I would not have imagined possible. He, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician. By disrespecting Louis, his legacy and by default, everyone who has ever tried to do something positive with improvised music and what it can be, Kenny G has created a new low point in modern culture - something that we all should be totally embarrassed about - and afraid of. We ignore this, "let it slide", at our own peril.
Heh -- some people really like simple things but to take these and elevate them to high status is like putting a crown on a pig. It is the waste of a crown and it annoys the pig.

A look to the north

Hat tip to Will Collier writing at the Vodka Pundit website for the start of this interesting look at North Korea. Artemii Lebedev, a Russian web designer was able to visit North Korea and he took lots of photos. Artemii's website is in Russian but has a lot of photos. Here, here, here, here and here Will links to a post by "Koutch" at Militaryphotos.net who translates the captions on a number of Artemii's photos but unfortunately, he hotlinks to the photos on Artemii's website and the links do not work. You need to open both pages and browse back and forth to get some kind of context. What doesn't need an English translation is the grinding poverty that these people are subjected to while being surrounded by icons of their glorious leaders and happy little concrete statues {/bob_ross}... Not to mention the evening shots of buildings with no lights in the windows. Artemii also has some photos of the Ryungyong Hotel. If people in Boston think the Big Dig was a corrupt boondoggle, they have never seen a corrupt boondoggle. For more info, read Damn Interesting and Wikipedia
And some people still advocate Communism as the best and fairest form of government. Toxoplasmosis anyone?
Radio Frequency IDentification 'tags' are used a lot. They have worked out standards so you can query a whole shipping pallet and receive the unique IDs from each package on that pallet. The technology works by flooding the area with a low frequency radio wave. Antennas on the RFID unit receive this radio, convert it into electricity and use this electricity to power a small transmitter which broadcasts a unique signal at a different frequency. Obviously, due to the small amounts of power involved, these only work over a maximum distance of thirty feet or so. Heads up: RFID tags cannot be read by orbiting satellites -- for those who think differently, check this site out: AFDB There are some serious privacy issues though -- someone who buys an item tagged with an RFID chip might want to render it useless after purchase but the retail store might want to scan it in the event of a warranty issue or product return. IBM has come up with a wonderful and simple solution. Check out this paper (PDF file) on their Clipped Tag
Privacy-Enhancing Radio Frequency Identification Tag: Implementation of the Clipped Tag
Introduction � Enhanced Privacy for Item-level RFID

As the implementation of radio frequency identification, RFID, tagging of pallets and cases for the retail supply chain proceeds, attention is being given to the possibility of RFID tagging for individual retail items. The sale of tagged retail goods gives rise to measures to enhance consumer privacy. Ultra-high frequency tags may be read by wireless means of distances up to around 30 feet (10 meters). High frequency tags also may be read wirelessly, but generally at a shorter range.

Mechanisms have been proposed to address enhanced consumer privacy upon the introduction of item-level tagging. One of them is the use of �Blocker Tags� proposed by RSA Laboratories, a security and privacy organization. These tags interfere with the reading of other RFID tags. They must be carried by the consumer. Another mechanism is the EPCglobal Gen2 protocol �Kill� command which deactivates tags permanently. The Kill command is executed by the retailer at the point-of-sale. Killed tags cannot be revived.

The privacy-protecting tag, called the �Clipped Tag� has been suggested by IBM as an additional consumer privacy mechanism. The clipped tag puts the option of privacy protection in the hands of the consumer. It provides a visible means of enhancing privacy protection by allowing the transformation of a long-range tag into a proximity tag that still may be read, but only at short range � less than a few inches or centimeters. This enables later use of the tag for returns or recalls.

The clipped tag proposal suggests ways in which a portion of the antenna may be removed by a consumer after the point-of-sale. Figure 1 shows a schematic of the tag. A notch or slit has been placed on the edge of the plastic film, providing a means for tear initiation, similar to the slits placed in ketchup packets or snack-food bags. The tear may be directed by the use of additional perforations. The result of the tear is to remove a portion of the antenna.
Of course, the manufacturer could always cheat and route the antenna to a non-tear area of the tag and even throw in a bit of tinfoil in the tear area to 'reassure' the customer but this overall idea looks like it will work well. Clever implementation for a valid privacy concern.
Good lord people -- see this movie in the theater! It blew both Jen and me away. The CG is drop-dead gorgeous - what was state of the art for Gollum in LOTR has been taken to the next level for the character of Davy Jones. Lots of little throw-away jokes and visual puns. Good character development and yes, there is a third movie in the can. And yes, sit through all of the credit roll for a cute 20 second scene that answers one question. Can't wait for At World's End due next year! (now back to the bookwork!)

Hurricane Katrina -- the blame game

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An interesting view from some conservative Black leaders. From CNS News:
'Black Culture' Blamed for Hurricane Katrina Woes
Nearly a year after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city of New Orleans, some prominent black conservatives and religious leaders blame cultural problems among African Americans, not the government, for "the great breakdown witnessed during and following" the natural disaster.

The conservative leaders will meet in Washington, D.C., on July 26 to discuss how best to transform the "human spirit," the destruction of which they say "is at the heart" of the still evolving crisis in New Orleans.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Tuesday awarded $4.2 billion -- up to $150,000 for each Louisiana homeowner seeking to rebuild or sell their houses that were destroyed or damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year.

But, many African Americans who were living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent catastrophic flooding of the city believe the Bush administration's slow response to the disaster was racially motivated.

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, the African American founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND) is not willing to blame the Bush administration. Instead, he faults what he calls the "black culture."

"It's not President Bush's responsibility to make us get up and take care of ourselves. That was a political ploy in order to make blacks believe the Republican Party was against them and that they really don't care," Peterson said.
And a bit more:
Rev. Grant Storm, who is the Caucasian minister and president of Conservative Christians for Reform, echoed Peterson's view. "The mentality of 'government's going to bail me out. Where's the government?'" is "in the black culture," Storm said. "The mentality is instilled within their churches and in their homes -- of 'the government owes you, the government is your solution, and the government will come and help you.'

"When the government doesn't come and help them, frankly all they do is yap and complain," said Storm, instead of "saying 'Hey, I better go get a job, I better go on my own, I better go find an apartment, I better go take care of myself and my family.

"They are waiting for more FEMA money, they are waiting for more relief money and it ain't coming, or it's coming slow; meanwhile, the surrounding parishes -- the predominantly white parishes -- they are rebuilding on their own, and the same way in the Gulf of Mississippi," said Storm. "Orleans -- they still don't have their flooded cars off the streets."
So true -- if you read any of the blog entries during that time, people in other areas just dug in and rebuilt. Nice to see some people finally speaking truth to power...

A Kodak moment

Great photo of Lightning and a Rainbow. From the UK Daily Mailbut the event was in Fort Smith, Arkansas:

Incredible pictures: the moment lightning shared the sky with a rainbow
When a rainbow formed in the sky people stopped and stared at the natural wonder.

But then lightning sparked across the evening panorama as two of nature's most spectacular phenomenon created an unusual alliance.

The clash of weather was seen above the affluent city of Fort Smith, in the Southern state Arkansas.

One onlooker said: "It was awe inspiring. The lightning made a huge rumbling sound and when you looked up there was also this incredible rainbow forming on the horizon."

The intracloud lightning, known as an anvil crawler, is the most common form of lightning, with the electrical charge contained within a single cumulonimbus cloud.

Lightning often occurs during heavy storms while rainbows are generally formed after the rain has stopped, making an appearance of both simultaneously relatively rare.

A way to ship

Ran into these people on an email list -- it seems to be a company that consolidates truck loads and can provide dramatically reduced shipping costs if you are willing to go from one carrier to another and wait a bit longer for delivery.

Check out Freightquote.com A number of people on this list are very happy with them.

Key thing is to arrange to have the delivery take place at a facility with a loading dock -- if the shipper has to send a truck with a lift-gate, this can cost $50-$100 more. Often you can persuade a nearby company to let you use theirs -- a six-pack works wonders...

Still taxing my imagination

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Planning to get this finished by Monday. Light spew until then...

Quiet evening

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Getting another chunk of the bookkeeping done. You can tell just how much I love to do this. Feel the burn baby! Oooooooo...
Ran into an excellent resource for the Musician who also builds effects and gadgets. Check out Small Bear Electronics LLC They also stock older components that are hard to find for re-creating or repairing classic effects.

Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla

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Today, July 10th, 2006 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Electrical Genius Nikola Tesla. Among his 800+ patents are a few things you might recognize: Radio Fluorescent Lighting The system we use for electrical power generation and transmission. The AC Motor X-Rays An amazing and unfortunately relatively unknown man...

Top Fuel racing

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The Braden Files has a list of some interesting facts about Top Fuel Racing:
A lesson in Acceleration

dv/dt = [F - vdm/dt]/m

One Top Fuel dragster 500 cubic inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower than the first 4 rows at the Daytona 500.
  • Under full throttle, a Top Fuel dragster engine consumes 11.2 gallons of nitro methane per second; a fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced.
  • A stock Dodge 426 Hemi V8 engine cannot produce enough power to drive the dragster's supercharger.
  • With 3000 CFM of air being rammed in by the supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into a near-solid form before ignition. Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock at full throttle.
  • At the stoichiometric 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture for nitro methane the flame front temperature measures 7050 degrees F ( 3900 degrees C ).
  • Nitromethane burns yellow. The spectacular white flame seen above the stacks at night is raw burning hydrogen, dissociated from atmospheric water vapour by the searing exhaust gases.
  • Dual magnetos supply 44 amps to each spark plug. This is the output of an arc welder in each cylinder.
  • Spark plug electrodes are totally consumed during a pass. After 1/2 way, the engine is dieseling from compression plus the glow of exhaust valves at 1400 degrees F. The engine can only be shut down by cutting the fuel flow.
  • If spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro builds up in the affected cylinders and then explodes with sufficient force to blow cylinder heads off the block in pieces or split the block in half.
Lots more facts at the site including this one:
  • Including the burnout the engine must only survive 900 revolutions under load.
And this conclusion gives you a good idea of the forces involved:
Putting all of this into perspective: You are riding the average $25,000 Honda MotoGP bike. Over a mile up the road, a Top Fuel dragster is staged and ready to launch down a quarter mile strip as you pass. You have the advantage of a flying start. You run the RC211V hard up through the gears and blast across the starting line and past the dragster at an honest 200 mph (293 ft/sec). The tree' goes green for both of you at that moment. The dragster launches and starts after you. You keep your wrist cranked hard, but you hear an incredibly brutal whine that sears your eardrums and within 3 seconds the dragster catches and passes you. He beats you to the finish line, a quarter mile away from where you just passed him. Think about it, from a standing start, the dragster had spotted you 200 mph and not only caught, but nearly blasted you off the road when he passed you within a mere 1320 foot long race course.

Back Home

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Tired and we have to get up early tomorrow to get ready for the Farmer's Market. I'll put some photos of the Conference online Monday or Tuesday. It was a lot of fun.

Back Home this evening...

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The Blacksmithing conference ends this afternoon and I'll be back home later this evening. Taking home a bunch of very wonderful tools and accessories as well as a brain-pan full of new ideas to try and techniques to start to master. I took a bunch of photos and will post some of them Sunday or Monday (we have the Farmer's Market on Sunday and that usually wipes us out for the day.) Spew to resume on Monday!

Blacksmithing Conference

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Amazing -- if you are in the Seattle area, there is a gallery open to the general public and the entire conference will be open after around 2:00pm Saturday (the last day) It is being held at Magnussen Park off Sand Point Way - come in the main entrance and hang a sharp left; follow the ABANA signs. The level of artwork that is being done is staggering -- I have a very long way to go to reach this level and I will love every step of the way...

Two things...

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I am heading down to Seattle for a few days to attend the Artist-Blacksmith's Association of North America (ABANA) annual convention. These are large blow-out affairs, very well planned and attended by blacksmiths from all over the world. By good fortune, the 2006 convention is being held in Seattle near where I used to live. I'll be staying with a friend who has internet access so I will update from time to time but the usual spew will not be as much. Second, I was looking at the blog stats and see that this is post # 5,008 -- been posting here since October 2003. Been a long fun ride and it is just beginning! Also, had my 44,000'th page view yesterday -- not LGF or Instapundit caliber but not too shabby either.

Good luck and Godspeed

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The US Space Shuttle Discovery made a perfect launch this afternoon at 2:38PM Florida time. Here's to an uneventful journey and a safe return home to the ship and her seven crew members. Space.com has the story:
Shuttle Discovery Reaches Orbit
NASA celebrated the Fourth of July with some rockets of its own Tuesday as the space shuttle Discovery launched its seven-astronaut crew into orbit.

After two scrubbed attempts, Discovery shot spaceward at 2:37:55 p.m. EDT (1837:55 GMT) from Pad 39B here at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The launch marked NASA�s first-ever shuttle flight to leave Earth on Independence Day.

�Discovery's ready, the weather's beautiful, America is ready to return the space shuttle to flight.,'' NASA launch director Michael Leinbach told Discovery�s astronaut crew just before liftoff. �So good luck and Godspeed, Discovery.�

�I can't think of a better place to be here on the Fourth of July,� said Steven Lindsey, commander of Discovery�s STS-121 mission. �We�re hoping to very soon get you an up close and personal look at the rocket�s red glare.�

Busy day -- light blogging

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Spent the day in Bellingham running errands. The stores were busy -- people were stocking up for some event that seems to be scheduled for tomorrow. Whatever... The good news here is that we closed on a metal building for our Cider and Mead business -- this should be up in two or three months and we can get started. I am taking a couple days off to do some much-delayed, highly-procrastinated, bull-headedly avoided, I don't wanna do it!!! bookkeeping. On the plus side, I am trying out a copy of Peachtree 2007 and if you are as sick of QuickBooks as I am, check them out. There is a 30-day free trial available. It imports Quicken and QuickBooks data and it sports a nice, dry, clean user interface without all the cheap glittery tinsel that Quicken et. al. seems to be decorating itself with. Just the books and no "friendly" advisers for your actions. The people at Intuit probably wish that Microsoft BOB would come back and they must have Clippy as their Corporate Mascot. And yes, wishing everyone (with two exceptions) a wonderful Independence Day. We need to take this day and remember what makes this Nation great and what our Constitution stands for. The exceptions are the pencil-necked pin-dick writers (Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) for Superman Returns From Cinematical:
Truth, Justice and the Worldwide Box Office
This Fourth of July, why not celebrate the birth of the United States by taking in a movie about that good ol' American icon, Superman? Well, in case you haven't heard, according to Superman Returns, the superhero isn't specifically representative of the U.S. anymore. In fact, one line in the film, spoken by Frank Langella, is stirring a lot of discussion. The line revises the familiar phrase associated with Superman, "truth, justice and the American way," changing it to "truth, justice and all that stuff," upsetting many who see it as a disruption of the comic book character's tradition.
Emphases mine. This is not the Superman I grew up with and since when is Pride in one's Nation a bad thing that needs to be avoided...


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From the UK Sun Online:

It's the Tehran Tubbies


IRAN has gone absolutely Laa-Laa over the Teletubbies -- and bought the kiddies' TV show from the BBC.

The Mullahs in Tehran are lapping up Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po's adventures.

BBC Worldwide said yesterday the main TV station -- the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting -- has bought 65 episodes and experts are dubbing them into Farsi, the national language.

A spokesman said: "It's taking a long time to translate, as you can imagine."

The deal comes as Iran faces pressure over its nuclear expansion programme -- amid fears it plans to develop a bomb.

The first shows are expected to go out before Ramadan this year.

The Teletubbies celebrate their tenth anniversary this year. As well as Iran, the Beeb has licensed a Teletubbies "Edutainment centre" and a Teletubbies Play and Development centre at Dongguan and Shenzhen in China.

Like I said -- WTF I remember when the show first came out the BBC discovered that there were two major demographics. The first was pre-school children; the second was crashing ravers. The show was broadcast in the morning so it was perfect for pre-schoolers and druggies pulling all-nighters. What makes it so popular with the Iranian culture?

Awwww -- just plain purdy...

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What a sweet ride...
From the Morgan Motor Company web site:
The Morgan Motor Company is delighted to announce that following an exhaustive study into the viability of producing the stunning AeroMax Coupe, production is due to commence in January 2008.

A limited run of just 100 individually numbered coach built coupes will be constructed at a rate of 1 -2 cars per week, the final model leaving our production lines in our Centenary year - 2009.

Pricing is anticipated to be around �94,000 + VAT and will be supplied strictly on a first come first served basis.
Hey -- �95K GBP is only $174K USD -- Jen? We can pay for this out of Petty Cash from the Farmers Market can't we?

ROBOT Museum

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I visited Nagoya Japan a number of years ago when my then girlfriend was teaching over there. Had a great time. Now, I will want to go back for another visit: From Digital World/Tokyo:
Japan to open its first robot museum in October
Japan's first bot museum is set to open this October in a refurbished auto showroom in Nagoya, of all places.

Once cleansed of cars and sales staff ("Nice robot here, one owner only!"), the site will become home to cast-off bots from the 2005 Aichi Expo and their industrial brethren. The 2,600-square-meter museum will also feature a shop and a cafe set in a "near future" environment where humans and robots coexist peacefully. The entry fee hasn't been fixed yet.
Got this from BoingBoing who said:
Designers are transforming a 2600-square-meter former car showroom into Japan's first robot museum, with a planned opening in October, 2006. Exhibits will cover a wide range of models, from toys to industrial helpers to outer space explorers. Humans and robots will enjoy snacks side by side in a robot cafe on-site. Museum planners anticipate nearly half a million visitors a year.
Very awesome!

Acidman in Heaven

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Jim at Parkway Rest Stopjust got a transcript of Rob Smith's orientation session with St. Peter from a week ago:

Good Heavens, Mr. Smith.
St. Peter: "Good morning, Mr. Smith. May I call you Rob?"

Rob: "Sure. Rob will be just fine. And, who are you?"

St. Peter: "I'm St. Peter, but, if you wish, you may call me Pete."

Rob: "St. Peter? Well, I'll be damned!"

St. Peter: "No you weren't. These days we save the damnation thing pretty much for murderers, rapists, child molesters, crooked politicians, and, of course, comment spammers."

Go and read the rest -- it is perfect down to Rob's last comment. Damn -- I keep checking in every day to Gutrumbles halfway expecting him to pop back in and say that it was all a big joke. He will be missed...

Very cool idea

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From Confederate Yankee (Because liberalism is a persistent vegetative state.) comes this story of a dream that is being pushed forward into an incredible reality:
Resurrecting Ghosts
"Mothball Fleet."

Just hearing those words conjures up images of worn down, obsolete rusty freighters, decrepit warships, and sepia-tone pictures of half-sunken Liberty ships whose glory days have long since past.


They are the abandoned hulks and hulls no longer wanted or needed, destined for an ignoble end at the bottom of the sea after being used as a naval target, or at the end of a scrapyard's cutting torch.

But what if some of these grizzled veterans of wars past still had a story left to tell? What if some of these salt-flecked graybeards of the fleet still have a purpose, and can be called forth once more?

Finding that purpose is the calling of Ward Brewer, CEO of a little-known and unheralded non-profit Beauchamp Tower Corporation (BTC). Operation Enduring Service, the program started to press these aging ships back into service, began with a glance at a picture on a wall. As the Operation Enduring Service web site explains:
A 1944 Will Cressy lithograph of the USS Orion, which hung on James Gulley's living room wall since he returned from the war, now hangs on his grandson's office wall. In April of 2002, while working on his company's National Emergency Urban Interface Program, a momentary glance at that picture drew Ward's attention.

Taking a break from working on the company's emergency response program, Ward began searching for the USS Orion on the Internet to find out more about her. Several sites had pictures and brief histories of the USS Orion as well as other Fulton Class Submarine Tenders. There was one site, however, that would dramatically change future events. The USS Torsk Volunteers had been aboard the USS Orion in order to obtain various parts that were needed for the continued restoration of their submarine. While searching the ship, the "Torsk Bandits" as they called themselves, took numerous pictures of the USS Orion. It was these pictures that caught Ward Brewer's eye.

The USS Orion was built like a small city, carrying with her everything she could possibly need to perform her mission. It was all there, Machine Shops, Foundry, Electronics, Utilities, Berthing, Galleys, etc. This incredible concentration of capabilities made the USS Orion and her Fulton Class sister ships efficient, effective, and one of the most versatile assets in the United States Navy. It was the versatility and unique assets of these ships that resulted in Ward Brewer considering a project design so bold and unusual that few would believe it was even possible.
Brewer's general concept was simple; save these aging ships from the scrapyard, and refit them with the most modern technologies this generation can bring to bear to create a small fleet of ultra-capable disaster response and recovery ships.
And of course, the reasonable question is how much is this going to cost me -- an American Taxpayer? The answer is what makes this program so cool:
The total cost of this program to taxpayers?

Not one dime.

The salvage and scrapping of those vessels beyond their useful days will partially finance both the historical and rescue operations, with the rest of the costs being absorbed by the deep pockets of major corporate donors already committed to Beauchamp Tower Corporation.

As fantastic as it sounds, the operation will actually save the American taxpayer tens of millions of dollars that the Maritime Administration has been paying to companies across the Atlantic to tow away and dispose of ships as American shipyards want for work.
Let the degenerate lefties try to put a bad spin on this one... Major hat tip to Maggie's Farm for this link and story. I am very much into boats -- my last job in Seattle was for the Ocean Engineering company that designed many Oceanographic Ships including the FLIP:

An Elvis fan

Turns out that none-other than Japan's Prime Minister is a big Elvis Presley fan. So, when traveling over here for a summit meeting at the White House, President Bush arranged a little road trip.

From the NY Times:

Foreign Policy Tries a Little Shake, Rattle and Roll
In the annals of international diplomacy, it was not exactly Yalta. But today's visit to Graceland - the ticky-tacky Elvis Presley mansion here - by President Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan brought a little bit of shake, rattle and roll to American foreign relations.

Mr. Koizumi, whose penchant for belting out Elvis on a karaoke machine is well known, couldn't resist trying out his moves on Mr. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush as the three of them made their way through the manse, escorted by none other than Priscilla Presley, Elvis's former wife, and Lisa Marie, his daughter.

"Looove mee tenderrrrr," the prime minister crooned, as Mr. Bush, not one for letting loose in public, cracked up. When Lisa Marie Presley showed the prime minister her father's trademark sunglasses, he promptly donned them and thrust his hips and arms forward, an earnest imitation of a classic Elvis stage move.

"I knew he loved Elvis," Mr. Bush told reporters afterward. "I didn't realize how much he loved Elvis."

The attention to detail was wonderful:

The White House left no detail unattended for the visit. The breakfast fare on Air Force One was peanut butter and banana sandwiches, a recipe straight from Elvis's kitchen. Elvis movies - "Love Me Tender" and "Viva Las Vegas" - were available for viewing. And Elvis music was playing loudly over the speakers, until Mr. Bush asked that the tunes be turned down.

Mr. Bush's motorcade arrived at Graceland shortly before 10:30 a.m. Central time. As reporters awaited the leaders' arrival, a few questions were pending: Would Mr. Koizumi sing karaoke, as he did at a birthday part for the president last year, serenading Mr. Bush with "I Need You, I Want You, I Love You"? Would either of them wear Blue Suede Shoes?

And does Mr. Bush prefer a Fat Elvis or a Skinny Elvis? To that, the White House press secretary, Tony Snow, offered a most diplomatic reply: "Uhhh, yes."

I could really see John Kerry doing this for a visiting dignitary.

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