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:
Aircraft

Automobiles:

Surgical Instruments:

Blitzkrieg:

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.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Beach Triathlon

I am contemplating starting a Beach Triathlon event, but I think I am probably the only one who would ever participate, so it would be more of a "competition of self improvement".  Here's the two variations I am considering:

Beach Parkour Triathlon:  Start off at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point.  Wearing Merrell hiking boots, running shorts (or jeans, if you're not confident), a backpack with camera & binoculars, sun screen and hat, you sprint across the beach and at the very first rock, you begin to parkour, leaping from rock to rock, the 3/4rds of a mile from the beach to the farthest western point.  Then, when reaching the point at low tide, you take out your camera, take as many pictures of wild life as possible, in the air, the tide pools, and on the water.  Controlling your breathing is essential, to be able to focus.  After taking the photos, return the camera to the back pack, take out the black garbage bag and dark brown old ratty gloves you have packed, and pick up as much garbage as you can, enroute back to the Ocean Institute's parking lot that careless tourists and self-entitled locals have strewn along this other-wise pristine coastal area.  Variations on the parkour include
- stepping on only rocks whose base is wet, as the tide recedes
- avoiding certain colored rocks, for a degree of difficulty (like no pink, or green rocks)
- adding on 10 seconds every time you don't step on a rock and your foot touches sand (like "hot lava" when you were a kid)
- subtracting whatever time it takes to explain to curious tourists what this bird or that creature is, when asked, and then doubling that subtraction for good karma.
I did this form of parkour last Saturday when I returned from my GA/SC trip, and it was invigorating.

Beach run / climb / photo Triathlon:  Start off at Strand Beach parking lot.  Wear running shorts, a sweat wicking shirt (like my Nike Combat shirt), and Columbia Velcro'ed all terrain sandals, carrying a face wiping sweat rag.  RUN down the stairs (all +200 of them) to the bottom and then sprint down the vehicle ramp at the bottom until you get to the sand on the beach.  Touch the "No Dogs Allowed" sign, and SPRINT Back Up the ramp and the +200 stairs.  Repeat - repeat as many times as you can until your legs feel like lead.  That was 5 times for me yesterday.  Then, jog down the board walk on lead legs, and try to jog up the zig zag on the South side of Strand Beach.  Take photos along the way of the hummingbirds, raptors, pelicans, skunk, lizards, and any other living non-human creatures you see that are appealing.  When you get to the top of the zig zag, go back down, and repeat.  I did this 3 times yesterday.  Then walk back to your car on your own power, and drive home for a relaxing Stout Ale and hot tub soak.

Each variation has its advantages.  Both require being able to have a steady hand and breathe normally while shooting photos.  Both require significant physical exertion.  The parkour variant (I believe) helps to stave off Alzheimer's and senility by ACTIVELY engaging the brain, as the leaping pace from boulder to boulder is RAPIDLY calculated, and eye-foot-balance coordination is paramount to avoid a nasty misstep that will rip open one's shin, knee, or hand upon falling.  The parkour variant also helps the environment by collecting trash on the way back, and helping to educate tourists.  This variant is best tried during low tide, as the parkour course is widest at low tide.

The Strand Beach variant however, is not tide dependent.  It affords much safer running surfaces, and greater physical exertion.  While there's little to no aquatic life to be photographed in the Strand Beach variant, there is no shortage of land and air based wild life to photograph, and it doesn't track sand into your wife's convertible when you drive home.

So each has its advantages.   I am going to hone my skills practicing both variants this summer, and I will try and comment this Fall, as to which one I've enjoyed more.

Come visit us here in California, and I will let you race me in the triathlon if you want to!  =)