Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tonight's Inspiration brought to you by....

This (along with the Irish Whiskey) was tonight's inspiration:

well, the lovely sunset, AND the fact that my annoying neighbor's home is "In Escrow" which just delights Dr Desert Flower and I endlessly.  By "annoying" I mean:
- leers at DDF at the neighborhood Christmas party, at length, enough to make the seasoned and thick skinned DDF uncomfortable enough to say "let's go, now, please"
- looks through the holes in the fence into our back yard
- complains when I cut his trees that are over-hanging my pool and dropping leaves into my pool, stating (falsely and stupidly) "oh, I didn't know they were going in your pool" [BS, for 10 years the previous owners argued with you about it]
- has two incessantly annoying barking chihuahuas that really should be food for hawks
- comes over to complain after 4th of July when we had friends visiting who brought kids and who we ALL swam in the pool and had fun "it was really loud yesterday" to which the dad of the kids and I replied to chihuahua walking retired New Yorker "yes, kids are loud, deal with it"

So the fact that annoying jerk's home is in Escrow, gives us hope that someone nicer will move in soon.  Il faut voir.  Maybe they will have pit bulls that poop everywhere and after which they don't clean up... =\

Il faut voir.

My friends Joe M, Anne M, Ryan and Garvey will appreciate the gravitas of this seismic shift in the universe's alignment.

Admiral Ackbar: It's a Trap!

Never owned a bicycle
I was on Amazon last week, freshly equipped with gift certificates I got form work for having "patent of the month" (ohh weeee!) and I saw this "lighted humming bird feeder" for $20 ...  and I thought...  "that's kind of cool".  But I should have listened to Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars:  "It's a trap!"

The feeder DOES light up, yes indeedydo.  And it IS solar powered, conveniently.  But the photo cell
is So Sensitive, that it will NOT turn on until it is pitch dark, and all the hummingbirds have gone to sleep.  I've tried "accelerating" the light activation by placing over the sensor an opaque paper with a rock on top to hold it down in a light breeze, but that only works "sometimes" (I need darker paper, or more sheets of paper...   which...  as a printer's son, I should have an ample supply).

So it lights up...  cost much more than a normal feeder...   looks kinda cool..   but No Hummingbirds drink form it at night.   They are all resting, roosting, storing up energy after their keg parties and wine drinking bashes, kids-to-bed, snoozing once it is dark.   So the lights are for humans, not for humming birds, sadly.
it Does change colors, every few seconds...

Three Amigos Drinking Party

Had I not seen it with my own two eyes, and ZOOMED in at 75X to capture this image, I would NOT have believed it was true:

What appear to be 3 adolescent Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna), likely all young males, Most Likely all nest-mates (brothers), drinking together, from the exact same nectar feeder at sunset in my back yard.  Fueled by Tullamore Dew and a beautiful sunset, I took out my screen in the Master bed room, enabling a panoramic view of the back yard, and low & behold...   3 males...  none with even a goatee of chin color yet.  I saw two..   then three..  and could not believe my eyes.

Hummingbird males, who instinctively try and drive off - even kill - competitor males from feeders had reached a silent detente, drinking at sunset, quaffing down the last carbs of the night to fuel their 200 bpm heart rhythms while they waited for the giant orbiting sphere to appear in the East tomorrow morning.

It's either three adolescent males sharing a keg, or three sisters sharing a double magnum bottle of sweet sweet nectar before putting the kids to bed.  Either way, I am delighted to see that one of the 7 feeders in my yard have attracted communal, cooperative hummingbirds.

[not to be sexist, but they have the "starting indications of goatees", with little speckles.  Female Anna's have nearly white / gray throats with no color...  so I think this is a keg party.]

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Kerri Cannon

Three kids, three gold medals (world championships), three names.  Kerri Walsh Jennings.
The Kerri Cannon.  Awesome.

"And learn a little humility" ...  um, yeah.  More than a little.  I just enjoyed watching Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross win the Asics Beach Volley Ball championship in Long Beach California.  Thanks NBC.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Unpleasant enough without having to....

Using a port-a-potty is unpleasant enough without having to also "Watch For Rattlesnakes".

I assume that sign is there because someone was scared by, or bitten by a rattlesnake somewhere in California and we are such a litigious state that "if you didn't put a warning sign...." you'd get sued.

This port-a-potty was at Whiting Ranch, next to the parking lot, which was right across the street from a sprawling commercial mall.   Strange...   but I did not see a similar sign when I used the rest room across the street at the Red Robin....

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Is Arjen Robben, Pete Postlethwaite's Son?

Watching the 3rd place FIFA soccer match this afternoon, the question in my mind is this:  Is Arjen Robben secretly Pete Postlethwaite's son?  Nephew maybe?

The resemblance is very strong (in my Euro-centric mind, anyways).

I know they are from different countries...  but they are "about" the right age to be father and son.

I welcome all of my visitor's comments.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

German Efficiency, Accuracy & Precision

Several examples of German efficiency, Accuracy & Precision:


Surgical Instruments:


Sporting Events: (not to be confused with Blitzkrieg, but devastating to Brazil, nontheless)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Honey Badger Genius

This amused me tremendously.

Exit Stage Left Even, Eric

When I was in grade school and high school, I was a cantor and reader at Catholic Mass.  I lead songs, I read scripture, I did the whole church thing at my parochial school.

I also liked to watch cartoons when I was very little, and Snagglepus was one of my hilarious favorites. "Exit, Stage Left" (though he'd frequently exited "stage right").  

So the first time I heard the voice of the very parochial, very entrenched establishment "Majority Leader" of the Republican party, Eric Cantor of Virginia, I did not think of a Catholic mass cantor, nor a Jewish temple Cantor.  And now, tonight, that Eric Cantor has LOST his primary against a "Dave Brat" (professor of economics at American University, I read), I immediately thought of Snagglepus exiting, to the LEFT of his right wing nationalist xenophobic opponent.  Wow.

Exit, stage left even, Eric.

Anti-immigration double down.  Pay off the national debt (even though it's been dramatically paid down in the last 2 years) double down.  Rage against Obama double down.  Koch brother's out-of-state millions influx double down.  Supply side anti-Keynesian economics double down.

Good luck Mike Dickinson.  Hopefully Brat's nationalist, xenophobic perspective will help to galvanize reasonable Virginia 7th district voters.

Monday, June 2, 2014

John Oliver Explains Net Neutrality, Perfectly

Last Week, Tonight's host John Oliver is another person who is perfect for the job he is in.  He does an amazing job in HBO's Last Week Tonight each Sunday.  I laugh, I want to cry, it's funny, enraging & relevant all at the same time.

Last night he explained Net Neutrality, and how evil the Obama administration is for taking Comcast's top lobbyist (Tom Wheeler)  and installing him as the head of the FCC.  (Vice covered it here (link) as well, but I didn't see it on Vice last month, and Oliver made it MUCH funnier)

Hooray for John Oliver!

FCC.GOV/Comments...  come on internet trolls & haters.... there's just 118 days left for you to let the FCC know exactly how you feel.

Awesome at His Job

Neil deGrasse Tyson is awesome as the host of Cosmos.  Each and every episode, revisited from Carl Sagan's original series, is marvelously presented.  Awesome graphics, pitch perfect writing, and precise delivery.  A "spokes person for the sane", a "voice of reason", Neil is the perfectly approachable, affable, charismatic scientist showing the common man who knows nothing about science what is really happening in the world, the universe, throughout time.

And no, it's not 6000 years old.  But if you want to believe that, that's fine for you to believe, just don't push that belief into the science class room, or onto my or my friends' kids, or grand kids.  A belief is not a fact.  And if facts contradict or challenge your beliefs, then that's a problem you have to grapple with, not I.  I trust in the facts, as peer reviewed and tried and tested, proven by controlled experiments.

And Seth MacFarlane...  you are a crazy, twisted, bizarre man, but thank you for funding the Cosmos revival.  Perhaps it is some kind of "penance" for having created Peter Griffin... I don't know.  =)

My Efficient Water Company

My efficient water company, Moulton Niguel Water, left me this notice on my door last Friday:
I was concerned because I thought I'd have zero water from 8am to 3pm.  So Sunday I began  making more ice, filling the Britta pitcher, Nalgene bottles, hiking water bottles, cat water dishes.  Since I work at home and I didn't want to be "without water" I was trying to be prepared.  I recalled how last Friday, all along my street, there were 3 or 4 MNW company trucks with flashing lights, multiple crews, they were working on my neighbor's meter across the street, and it seemed to take most of the entire day that I was working for them to get done.  I asked a supervisor what they were doing: "upgrading meters, going to digital".  Ok.

So I was very surprised when at 830am this morning, there as a knock at my door.  I found a water company employee standing there, and I asked "how long will the water be off?"
"Ten minutes" was his reply.  Wow...   just 10 minutes!   So I slipped on some shoes, and watched as he efficiently removed the old cast iron body analog turbine driven meter that was 30 years old.  He replaced with a plastic body digital meter that can be read from the street with a RF signal.  The batteries last 20 years, and the accuracy of the new meter is 2X better (.05 gallons, vs .1 gallons per minute) so slow leaks can be observed (and billed for) more accurately.   Supposedly the new meter relies "on magnets" to sense the water coming through the straight pass through the middle of the meter (I could see clear through, no obstructions).

A small army of crickets came rushing out of the meter's enclosure when the old meter was disconnected and some water trickled out.  I asked the technician if he's ever seen scorpions or snakes in the enclosures, and he admitted to seeing snakes and tarantulas, but never a scorpion, though his colleague had picked up a meter with a scorpion on it and was not aware he'd almost been stung.  New gaskets installed, fittings tightened, and the water was back on.  Very impressive, very efficient, very friendly service providers.

If only my internet provider (Cox), Direct TV, gas company (The Gas Company, literally), and power company (San Diego Gas & Electric) were that efficient!   The CR&R trash pick up is fast, friendly, and efficient...   I guess 2 out of 6 is better than zero out of six...  and I don't live in the 17th or 13th centuries, as billions of people in the world do today.

My name is Prince Oberon, you keeled my sister...

I watched GoT's "The Mountain and the Viper" last night, and I kept thinking near the end of the episode of Mandy Pantinkin's "My name is Inigo Montoya, you keeled my father.  Prepare to die."

I will not spoil it for you if you have not watched it on DVR or Amazon or HBO-to-go yet...  but I was a little disappointed at the ending.  No, I was very disappointed at the ending.  If you're looking for extreme violence, the "The Mountain and the Viper" will satisfy your blood lust.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ridiculously Resilient Ridge

It's been warm here in Southern California this week. 90 degree temperatures in April are not "normal", but it appears we all will need to start getting used to it from what I'm reading on the Weather Underground blog.

When we were living in Phoenix, I used to have a morning ritual where I went around the house opening up windows and the 9 foot tall front door (leaving the zombie-proof security screen door closed) to get cool morning air into the house before the Sonoran Desert furnace kicked in to raise temperatures into the triple digits around 9 or 10am.  With the recent Southern California heat wave, I've renewed this ritual in our Orange County home.  Weather Underground has a station that is less than a mile from my house, and is about 75 feet lower in elevation than me, so its temperature / humidity / wind / rain data is very local and relevant (KCALAGUN22).  The site's graphic temperature-over-time displays are pretty cool as well.

But what really caught my attention this morning was a story on the lower right margin with a hot link: California Drought/Polar Vortex Jet Stream Pattern Linked to Global Warming
Dr Jeff Masters (a PhD, all that book learnin'...  what does he know anyways) pointed out a very detailed paper by S.-Y. Simon Wang of Utah State University, published in Geophysical Research Letters entitled "Probable causes of the abnormal ridge accompanying the 2013-14 California drought: ENSO precursor and anthropogenic warming footprint" (link here).  I am sure Fox News devotees will decry and deny this as "junk science" or liberal elitist 'the sky is falling' chicken-littleism.  But actually...   the sky is not falling.  The "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge" of high pressure is keeping any rain from falling, for long periods of time - significantly long periods of time from the geological record.

But what do I know?  I'm just a dumb old engineer that no one listens to anymore anyways.  Happy Thursday to everyone.

Dr Master's has an Excellent list of relevant links for further reading at the end of his article.  (applying that whole peer reviewed, verifiably tested accuracy, thorough & rigorous scientific method again...  instead of just believing what Rupert Murdoch tells him to believe)  If you want to completely depress yourself, and have hours of spare time to read them, browse through the long list.