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astronomy

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

  • Carol and I are now home from Chicago, still bumping into walls but doing better. If you haven’t heard from me in a couple of weeks that’s why.
  • Chicago burned on October 8, 1871. The cow did it, right? Well, there were a lot of other serious fires around the American midwest that same night. Tucking my ears into my tinfoil hat here: What if a cluster of biggish small meteorites hit the country that night, sparking fires wherever they fell? The more Russian dashcam videos I see, the less outrageous I think the idea is. (Thanks to Michele Marek for the link.)
  • And for people who say that the Russians seem to attract meteorites, look at this. I’d say The Curse of the Splat People has been laid upon northern new Mexico.
  • Why am I so fascinated by the Neanderthals? Aside from the fact that I may well have a Neanderthal-ish skull and ribcage, it’s hard to beat our big-brained, musclebound brothers for idea triggers. I had never considered Taki’s startling question: Would they vote Republican? Or would they just tear your arm off for asking? (Thanks to Bruce Baker for the link.)
  • Search Google Patents for Edward F. Marwick, and you will find 205 different patents filed by my very own late high school physics teacher. He told us about a few of them (like this one) in 1969. We thought he was kidding. The man was a damned good physics teacher, and he thought big.
  • Bill Beaty posted a comment on Contra for my September 7, 2011 entry describing a very simple solid-state equivalent using an MPF102 and a 9V battery. A full description is on his site, and it’s worth seeing if you have an unscratched itch for a half-hour project.
  • I think I aggregated the Steampunk Workshop before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Beautiful stuff, startling craftsmanship. Like this Mac Mini mod. Wow. (Thanks to Bill Cherepy for pointing it out.)
  • Carol and I had to cancel our entry of Dash and Jack in the big Rocky Mountain Cluster dog show for obvious reasons, but one of our Bichon Club members posted a wonderful video of her seven-year-old son Adam showing their puppy, Ruby. Ruby and Adam got a blue ribbon. The kid is amazing. Sheesh, when I was that age I was still throwing mushrooms at my sister at the dinner table.
  • I guess this was inevitable, at least in Washington State and/or Colorado. I suppose the research is useful. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.)

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

  • Making you fat and diabetic is the least of it: Sugar (especially fructose) sabotages your brain. If it’s your first favorite organ (as it is for me) put your brain at the top of your personal food chain. Be a caveman: Eat more animal fat and less sugar.
  • Eat more fat and less sugar, but do it this way: Trade sugar for sleep. Lack of sleep makes you hungry, and I’m guessing that chronic lack of sleep makes you lots hungrier than you would be if you just admitted that you can’t get by on six hours or possibly even seven. Cavemen slept when it got dark. Dark is your friend. (Thanks to Jonathan O’Neal for the link.)
  • While we’re talking Inconvenient Health Truths, consider: The downside of demonizing salt is that people have begun to show symptoms of iodine deficiency. (I myself am…unlikely…to ever have that problem.)
  • Instagram walked back from the cliff and withdrew its mind-boggling policies on commercial use of user photos without permission or complication. The Internet firestorm was one reason, I’m sure…but I’m also guessing that someone in their legal department got the message through that the firm would be sued into subatomic particles if it went ahead.
  • I wasn’t aware that a sack of potatoes stands in well for a human being in Wi-Fi tests on networking in crowded spaces like aircraft cabins. I do wonder what happened to the potatoes.
  • “Thorium” is my answer to the question of how to best reduce CO2 in our atmosphere. We need base load; wind and solar are necessary but not sufficient.
  • There are at least five planets orbiting SF favorite Tau Ceti, and one may be in the star’s habitable zone. What the article does not mention is that the habitable planet is considerable closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, and at a distance closer than Venus is probably tidally locked on its star. That’s not a dealbreaker, but tidal locking certainly makes the journey from slime to sublime a lot less likely.
  • My ongoing (and slow-going) project of rewriting Borland Pascal from Square One for FreePascal continues, and there’s a new and expanded PDF up on my FTP site. 9 MB. 180 pages done out of about 350 or 400 planned. Not all 800 pages of the original book will be included, because some of it is now mostly useless, and some will be kicked upstream to a Lazarus book that I’m planning.
  • FreePascal contains a clean-room clone of Borland’s TurboVision, which I actually named way back in 1989. (Its original name was TOORTL: Turbo Object-Orietnted Runtime Library.) I’m going to recompile my Mortgage Vision application in FPC with FreeVision and see if it still works. That is, if I can find the source…
  • We’re getting our Mayans, Aztecs, and Oreos mixed up. Actually, I read the oreoglyphics on the cookie and it said that the world will end in 1947.
  • Furthermore, it’s a lot tougher to dunk a Mesoamerican stone calendar in your coffee.

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

  • I’ve installed Lazarus 1.0 without mayhem, and have created a few simple programs with it. So far, no glitches. My recommendation is still cautious. Nonetheless, I’d be interested in hearing other people’s experiences with the new release.
  • Carmine Gallo wonders why more people aren’t doing image-rich PowerPoint presentations. Um…it’s because drawing pictures is way hard compared to writing text. Why is there no mention of this either in the article or in the comments?
  • Here’s a great timesaver: Instead of making political posts on Facebook, point to this. Done! Effortless! (Link courtesy S. Hudson Blount.)
  • And if that doesn’t work for you, this may. (Link courtesy Jim Mischel.)
  • I guess the evidence is piling up: It’s time to stand in front of the bathroom mirror and ask yourself: Does this political opinion make my head look small?
  • I’m glad that somebody else besides me noticed that The Atlantic came back from the dead mostly by publishing articles calculated to raise people’s blood pressure. I was a very satisfied subscriber back in the 90s and early oughts, but I suspect now that I never will be again.
  • Don’t believe what the MSM says about volcanoes. Or about DNA. Or maybe anything else.
  • Maybe we can give them (the MSM) something for Christmas this year. And then tell them to put a sock in it.
  • The article I mentioned in my September 8, 2012 Odd Lots about transistor radio manufacturers tacking unused transistors onto their circuit boards to up the transistor count was in fact “The Transistor Radio Scandal” by H. M. Gregory, in Electronics Illustrated for July, 1967; p. 56. Some manufacturers used transistors for diodes, which was maybe half a notch better. The article includes some mighty weird schematics, too. Worth digging for, if you have piles of old mags somewhere.
  • If our understanding of solar physics is accurate, sunspots might become impossible (at least for awhile) by 2015 or 2020. (Full paper here.) The magnetic fields that create sunspots have been getting weaker by about 50 gauss per year for some time. Field strength is now at about 2000; once that value hits 1500 gauss, some research suggests that sunspots may not form at all. This is not new news, but it’s interesting in that it’s a bit of poorly understood science that most of us will live to see confirmed or falsified. At any rate, I’m guessing we will not be working Madagascar on half a watt into a bent paperclip again for awhile, as the late George Ewing WA8WTE used to say.
  • I’ve identified a new trigger for Creeping Dread: Hearing the fans incrementally rev up on what was assumed to be an idle computer.

Odd Lots

  • I didn’t know this until the other day: The instrumental riff in ELP’s “Touch and Go” is not ultimately from Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Variations on Greensleeves.” It’s a far older folk melody called “Lovely Joan,” and the song is about a girl who, when asked by some aristocratic lout to hand over her virginity in exchange for a ring and a roll in the hay, keeps her virginity and steals his horse instead. Much better deal.
  • Here’s a tool to see if your email was on one of the 400,000 accounts recently leaked from Yahoo.
  • One of the big downsides of the ASUS Transformer Prime is that the micro SD card pops out of its slot very easily. I found mine on the cushion of my reading chair the other day, and have no least clue how I managed that, apart from sitting there and looking at some weather maps. I’m evidently not the only one with this problem.
  • I haven’t been over to The Consumerist in some time, but when I tried to go there the other day, Google marked it as an attack site. There’s not much to go by in Google’s details page, but it looks like an ad vector. This is why I use AdBlock Plus. (I went there from Linux and nothing bad happened.) UPDATE: They fixed the problem. Lesson: Nobody’s immune. Use AdBlock Plus.
  • Be sure to watch for auroras tonight, as far south as (I hope!) Colorado. Look east just before dawn and you’ll catch Jupiter, Venus, and maybe the crescent Moon.
  • A ride-em Iron Trilobyte! Yee-hah!
  • From the Utterly Obscure But Brilliant Music Department: Hunt down “The Last Farewell” by the New Christy Minstrels, from their ambum Ramblin’ (1964.) Bone-chilling harmony on the ancient melody “O Waly, Waly.”
  • From the Found Quotes Department: “It is all but impossible to sit quietly by while someone is throwing salad plates.” –James Thurber