2008-08-31

The Speed of Light, or, Where do these ideas come from, anyway?

They pop into my head and won't go away until I deal with them, that's where they come from!

Not quite sure where, oh, right, that's where it came from!

Was still musing over some stuff from the previous post, mulling over the reality that there are no natural laws, just out best approximations as to how things work, and every generation or so evidence accumulates to the point that we have to admit that the latest approximation was also in error. And the new conservatives appear, last generations radicals, tied to the old radicalism which is no longer radical but established, unwilling, like their predecessors, to look at the mounting evidence that we now have enough further knowledge to justify another paradigm shift in our thinking about How Things Work. At the same time, a renewed attack may occur by the defenders of yesterday's news, who argue that if this approximation was wrong, maybe the previous one was actually still valid, radical conservatism at work.

Ideas never get successfully replaced in the hard sciences unless the new ideas are a significant improvement in describing How Things Work in regard to Observed Data. But it always has to be remembered that these are approximations, and out conclusions may still be inn error.

Take the speed of sound. The speed sound travels in one atmosphere of pressure is pretty solid, but for a long time people argued that you couldn't actually travel faster than sound, that the sound barrier was a physical barrier which would prevent anything from exceeding it, this explaining why nothing was observed traveling faster than sound, other than light... Light travels faster than sound in one atmosphere, remember the old thing about counting the number of seconds after the lightning flash and the thunder arriving, the shorter the interval the closer the lightning?

But then the folks down at White Sands broke the sound barrier, and now we speak glibly of Mach One, Mach Two, etc., being multiples of speed of sound and how much faster your travelling, the odd phenomenon of seeing jets travel past and only later hearing the sound of their passage, other weird stuff.

So they shifted to light being a limiting factor, dragging Einstein and his Theory of Relativity in. Which is pure theory, as we haven't been able to test it yet, so in that it successfully allows us to predict results it is useful, but when there are discrepancies between the results and what we expected, yes, recheck to see if there were errors in our procedure, etc., but note the weird results, if procedural errors report the whole thing to aid others in not making the same mistake, but if everything seems clean, then reporting the anomalous results and the verifying actions taken that new avenues for research may be taken, greater understanding gained, new paradigms developed which more accurately predict how things work...

Each new understanding launches new technologies, which result in finer measurements and manipulations, spurring on the day the approximations of the new understanding are tested and found to no longer keep pace with our tools of research and analysis.

Personally, I've no real idea if light is a limiting factor, if one can or cannot travel faster than light, but I have a ton of questions and challenges... which I don't have the background to formulate in a manner that, in my mind, would prove testable. So I'm left with my feeling that it is no more reasonable to presume Light is a barrier than it was to presume that Sound was a barrier. The presumption of Sound being a barrier could have prevented anyone from performing any tests which required it to not be a barrier to succeed, as a waste of time and energy if nothing else. Thankfully, funding was attainable and Sound was proven not to be a final barrier. At some point there are speed barriers in an atmosphere, due to limits on compression of matter. Speed barriers, however, do presume moving from point a to point b by passing through every point in between, points that have finite mass and distance, that interact in terms of attraction and repulsion, that have physicality, as it were.

OK, I think current theory presumes nothing can travel as fast as light except light itself. Can one build things from light? Quanta never at rest, etc., etc., etc., but can you shape light, give it any kind of form, structure? If you can constrain light, can you then shape it? And can one develop a technology to store information in coherent light, ideally in a form which can be self-extracting, where the light structure can, at a predetermined time or in a predefined environment make this information manifest in non-luminal form? We interact with light everyday, directing it with mirrors, intensifying it into lasers which we then use to shape metal and do other stuff, I suspect heating water is possible, can we ever create a closed loop? If we ever became capable of doing this, then while we, ourselves, may not be able to travel the speed of light, we still might be able to spread our form of life as a downloadable, self-replicating worm.

And if we ever were able to do so, on our heads be it if we develop a virus instead of a properly developed, controlled, delivery system.

If we ever developed anything remotely similar to the scanning technology utilized in Star Trek's transporter technology, light constructs would allow us to achieve the stars. Just one question, would we be conscious while in such a construct, and if so, would we want to re-modulate into our original physical forms? Could we manipulate luminal constructs from inside? What time-sense would one have? I don't think it would be the same as relativity calls for in re massed objects approaching the speed of light, what would life be like for, to borrow a term from Star Trek, photonic lifeforms, but lifeforms not dependant upon non-photonic means of rendition.

Could be the core concept for an interesting work of Sociological Science Fiction... wonder how it might develop in comparison to Alexei Panshin's Rite of Passage.

This post didn't go anywhere near where I thought it would go!

Past time for this solidiform to ingest solids, so...

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Research, Research Papers, Thesis Statements, Conclusions, Intellectual Honesty, and further evidence I'm weird...

Research: What you do to find stuff out.

Research Papers: Vary from field to field, but in some fashion encompass a Thesis Statement, Information gathered and why, Analysis of the Information in relation to the Thesis, and a Conclusion, summarizing the results of the analysis in regard to the Thesis.

Thesis Statement: In Theory, a statement of your Question, and what you believe the Answer to be, and How you intend to research this. What its all about.

Research: Both a What and a How, the Research Topic is the What, Research Methods are the how, with Research Methodology being the precise How in this instance.

Analysis: Rumination over the Information gathered, focused on Organizing the data, Scrutinizing it to see what relationships can be drawn from the organized data, Comparison of these relationships with the Thesis, and Conclusions reached by this comparison. Four parts, just like a Ruminant's stomach. [If you conclude that I stretched things a bit to make that work, you're right! Gee, isn't research fun? :grin:]

Conclusion Statement: This is where it gets interesting. Oddly enough, in the Soft Sciences you very rarely find the Conclusion in Conflict with the Thesis; this is because it is considered Acceptable to change your Thesis to match your results. In the Hard Sciences, this is considered Intellectual Dishonesty, or Lying; in the Hard Sciences, Negative Results are still Positive, in that they direct Future Theories and Research away from wrong paths, wrong being defined as Not In Line With Observed Reality. In the Soft Sciences, Perception is everything, and No One wants to be Perceived to be a Fool, and Proving your own Thesis Wrong is to appear to be A Fool; thus, if your Thesis hadn't been publicized, you change it to match your Conclusions, and if it had been Publicized, reasons why your information is incomplete must be introduced, adjusting factors created, so that upon analysis it will be found that you were Right after all; these are Fudge Factors, and what is being done is Fudging the Results. In the Hard Sciences, being accused of Fudging Results led to Duels At Dawn prior to dueling being outlawed, for it is the greatest of Intellectual Sins. In the Soft Sciences, sometimes even when the Thesis hasn't been publicized Fudge Factors will be introduced, as the Parties Involved have World Views which cannot accept the true results.

When Hard Sciences and Soft Sciences intersect, Worlds Collide. See Galileo, Papacy, Astronomy. See Also Charles Darwin, Evolution, Creationism, Established Church. Oh, a clue: Anything ending in -ism is a Belief System, not necessarily in line with Observed Reality. See Freudianism, Catholicism, Creationism, Reaganomics..., wait, that ends in an -omics, well, -omics is also suspect, generally also referring to belief systems, hence economics, belief systems pertaining to the economy, such as Capitalism, Marxism, Anarchism, etc.

When Soft Sciences have Administrative Oversight of Hard Sciences, the most interesting thing Occurs; the Hard Sciences either maintain Intellectual Honesty, and report when things are different from what was expected, and Lose the Respect of those Above Them, for not knowing what the least of the Soft Science Disciples Knows, which is to Fudge Results to Match Expectations, or they do so, and Lose their Self-Respect, for doing what they Know to be Wrong.

When Hard Science mindsets, not aware of Soft Science Realities, do Research Papers in Soft Science areas, things get downright weird. I, in this case, turned in a History Paper where my conclusion was that I had been wrong, that where I thought x, what was actually the case was y; I turned in a Research Paper. Dave comment that it was the first time he'd ever received a paper where Thesis and Conclusion didn't match, anyone else would have gone back and changed the thesis to match; I looked at him blankly, and responded that this was research, wasn't it? He grinned, it had done me no harm, in this instance, to have been true to the principles of research; then again, Dave Corcoran was a true historian, and wanted to know what really went on. He also wanted his students to learn to think, to be knowledgeable, as we were involved in creating the Future.

But you can see how this difference in World View is crucial in Leadership, for Leaders should always focus on what really is, not what they'd like things to be; anything else would be the height of folly, wouldn't it?

Funny thing, Dave didn't think much of most politicians...

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2008-08-30

Measurements

Huh. Not much of a title this time.

What I'm dealing with is that I seem to be short in the body compared to all my other measurements. I've longer arms than standard for my neck/chest, so anything I get that is of a 'fitted' style is off. My wrists used to be enough thinner than average for my arms that every pair of button cuff shirts I bought in Chicago I shifted the wrist buttons by an inch. That's not as bad now, but cuffs are still kinda loose. Got real tired of shirts bagging out at the waist, which they still do to an extent.

Had a legit Ike jacket back in High School, fit me fine, finally the arms got too short for me, my arms grew. Seems like I'm still that size in re torso length, got another used Ike jacket recently, arms weren't too bad, but the waist, well, it was fine if I didn't mind a huge, like four plus inches, roll in the middle as the thing was just too long for me.

Just got one of those fancy workman's belt/suspender combo's, so that when I go out to the Yard I can bring the loppers with me without my pants trying to pull down. Had to redo the suspender section, took up two inches, not enough really, I'll have to take up another two so that it hits properly.

Reason enough to get my place tidied up, need to be able to sew my own shirts and gear. Need to make my own arm protection, can lay my hands on some thick, sturdy, yet incredibly supple leather, would keep the stickers off my arms quite nicely. Then use some of the same leather to make some gloves, envision taking some decent canvas ones, just a little loose on the fingers, sew the leather to the undersides of the fingers and palm, the stitches would pull the fabric up enough to make them more form fitting, that way I'd hope for flexibility while protecting my hands from the nasty blackberries.

I'm cynical. There is no way I'll have been successful in getting the blackberries under control this year, and even if I did, it will be a constant battle to keep them under control. One of the outgrowths I dealt with today, well, it came from the other side of a concrete wall, which means from under an asphalt parking area, which prior to that had been, you guessed it, the original blackberry infestation, the one that existed when we moved here in 1976! It's been covered in asphalt for 15+ years. And still, live roots exist under there. Proof, proof I tell you, that blackberries, like clematis-the-vine-that-will-not-die, are from Outer Space.

Oy. I'm mono-maniacal these days, aren't I? But not for very much longer, I've got complete control! [with apologies to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, sorry, couldn't resist.]

Aside from learning that I'd better start wearing full coverage safety glasses [branch snuck up on me, stabbed my right eye, its scratched and watering something dreadful, actually most comfortable closed, which makes typing and such interesting as I'm used to stereoscopic vision and not having to keep one eye shut while using the other], anyway, aside from that, I found out that the Fiskar® pruning saw also works just jim dandy as a soil loosener when excavating blackberry and clematis roots, and is useful cutting through roots further down than I can reach. The Japanese actually have a gardening knife for this purpose, Bill has one, I should look into getting one. Did do a number on the clematis today, something about surface vines ¾" diameter, an even 1" at the root node, with even larger roots creeping off to make you glad you had a nifty saw to help cut a distance below the surface, under the root ball/knob/kernel/nugget/whatever-you-want-tο-call-it, that clematis, while not dead, will be severely weakened when it tries to come back.

Oh, got a new nickname to toss out, figure its what the plants are calling me these days. John "Clear-Cut" Mead, 'cause my answer to trees or anything vegetative getting between me and where I need to go is to raze it to the ground, and beyond. We're having a tough time believing its the same yard as a month ago. The really interesting bit is that what I covered today is area that I covered a month ago, and there wasn't much grow-back, especially no clematis grow-back, and that's where I hacked/dug up the major mondo mother-of-all-battles root mass, where I'd detached stuff right above the surface back when I started all of this. So maybe I'm being more effective than I'm giving myself credit for.

Would be nice, if so. Might actually need to start planning what to do next, like thinking about how to build a shelter for hanging out in. Oh, yeah, haven't had an allergy shot in two years now, and I've been doing four-eighty AC in the apt. this summer; you know, four-eighty, four windows rolled down travelling eighty miles an hour down the freeway? So actually planning on using the outdoors is reasonable again. Which is way cool.

Walnut and Oak are softwoods, Apple is a hardwood. Don't know if these are their official designations, but Walnut and Oak are much easier to cut through than an equal thickness of Apple, and for me, that's the definition to care about! Got a bunch of files in the basement without handles, well, not for much longer, got a bunch of limbs the right size to make handles from now.

The eye says this is enough for now. Got an eye exam scheduled the first of October, will have been four years since the last one, know I need new glasses.

Whatever.

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2008-08-29

Meet Mom


Here we have my Mom; when I was wandering around taking photos she just happened to spot me, and came out to give me my mail. So I took her picture, instead.

She'll be 83 this year. She retired early, disability. I just noticed for the first time yesterday, when doing some bookkeeping [the accounting kind], that she began her State retirement the first day of the month immediately following my graduating from High School. Guess I wore her out.

So... what to say about Mom? First child, BA Mills College, MSW Smith College, married once, widowed, two kids [me and my sister], enjoys knitting, word find puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, gardening, jointly received her Award of Arms in the Society for Creative Anachronism with her husband for hauling the Principality Officers' on-site deputies all over the Kingdom [of the West, ages ago, An Tir's first Crown Tourney, I think it was, Steingrim and Lenora were King & Queen of the West at the time...][and having a nice place for folks to hang out]. Raised two kids who turned out pretty good. Even if both of them ended up with Library Science degrees.

Is very well loved by her children, even if she exasperates us from time to time.

And on that note, I'll

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2008-08-28

Internet Resources I didn't know about, first in an ongoing series


Public.Resource.Org
Northwest Digital Archive


Public.Resource.Org: What theses folks are doing is increadible. They are going through various government agencies, US and Canadien, and producing digital archives of their documents. Their full goals are described here, in short they are Open Government advocates, doing their best to fulfill the ideals, here expressed in my own words, "That government governs best which can hide the least" "They govern best who know the hearts and minds of their people" "Free discourse is the birthplace of understanding" "Shadows nurture secrets, secrets nurture deceit, deceit defeats freedom"

I am imputing things to them they may not 100% agree with, given my extreme cynicism, but they are striving to increase public dialogue, make materials available, and nurture government sans doors, archways being preferred, and they seek to use the Internet as an aid to this purpose. Check them out, they have major clue flags.

Digression time.

Clue Flag: A phrase developed amongst an odd group of friends in the Greater Chicagoland Area, in the early 1990s. The phrase "give the man a clue" segued into someone waving their arms in the air exclaiming they had one, a clue that is, which then morphed into waiving one's arm in like manner indicating a "Clue Flag" being present, with the more sardonic mimicking a jar of toothpicks having clue flags to pass out to the clueless. This is not quite how it happened, but it gives you a clue, yes? I don't know how prevalent this term is currently, but I like it, and this is my blog, n'est ce pas? Hmm, may not have spelled that properly, but unlike the spellchecker, I know its not Nestea pas! Just like I know walla is French, and voile part of a city name, ya know, Voile Voile, Washington?

Tough crowd tonight.

Northwest Digital Archive: Providing online access to special collections holdings information for the Greater Pacific Northwest, usually via finding aids, but in some cases the individual institutions have digitized original sources and are making them available online. A clearing house for such information, so you don't have to track down all their various websites and search them one by one, you can do it all at once. Hint: To presume a common terminology amongst these institutions is foolhardy in the extreme, so use several searches with different search terms before deciding there is nothing, or that you've found it all. While all of the member institutions have information crucial to your research which will not show up through this search, its a good place to start. While I wrote that in jest, presuming it is true won't hurt you any. And you are sure to find collections you never dreamt existed, which is a very good thing to a researcher, unless their grant is running out and is non-renewable...

General note on historical research: Who controlled an area during the time you are interested in will determine where the materials are stored. Materials relating to Washington State prior to their becoming a Territory are held in Oregon, as they were part of the Oregon Territory. The original US charter for «La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora, la Reina de los Angeles», is stored in Oregon, as that's where the closest Federal Courthouse was located; periodically the City Fathers in Los Angeles, California, get a bee in their bonnet and try to get it back, nuthin' doin' buddy, it's here and here it stays!

So don't go making assumptions about where materials will be found.

um, 12:45, lunchtime...

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2 views, identical yet unrecognizably so...

Note that each set of photos are taken from the same location, pretty much; the top photo from last Friday, the bottom photo from this Tuesday; pretty amazing for four days, especially since the time spent on that area was probably four hours, total.


The second set of photos are more striking, in some ways. The top photo, look at the center of it. Yep, that's the area previously cropped for the photo of Western White Clematis. Note the barely able to make out it's wood upright and cross member? Look at the bottom photo. Yes. Same upright and cross member; that section of Clematis was even with my chest. Spend some time looking back and forth between the photos, more and more you'll spot the things which are the same.


"Now where did all that stuff go," you ask? Glad you asked. Remember my mentioning building a structure to hold Clematis clippings in, to prevent them from rooting? Observe:


The top photo shows a filled-to-overflowing-and-beyond 3'x3'x8' structure, filled to 4'x6'x10', one foot off the ground; good think it has six feet, yes? OK, bad joke. But true, it does have six feet; observe the second photo, it's a close-up of the lower left support, there are five more of them around the outer perimeter.

That's 1¼" PVC, with 5-way tee interconnects. Not available for plumbing use, made for PVC Furniture, available from United States Plastics Corp, bought for another project which you'll eventually read about... US Plastics has a variety of items of use, a bunch aren't plastic, many at lovely prices, one caveat: when ordering you have the option of going with a shipping fee based on the cost of your order, or the actual weight; work this in your favour, light weight items go actual cost, heavy items go presumed cost; cardboard weights more than plastic, etc., the savings can be significant, the cost great is you guess wrong, but they do, in many cases, list the per item weight in their literature, so...

I did mention that we have enough yard debris for a dumpster? I'm starting to seriously consider having them drop one off for a week, so I can transfer all the yard debris and get it out of here, as there is a bunch more in piles elsewhere in the yard, stuff where I was able to pile up a framework of branches and then lay Clematis on top of them, so no rooting would occur.

While not a lot of text, six photos were included, so taking the word count + 6,000 makes this one of my longer posts to date. :grin: It's now 08:40 PST, time to do other stuff. [08:50 after editing due to layout and display differences, which if you have a large monitor made it worse, tough, if the photos do show side to side, top is left and bottom is right, OK? If you really can't deal with it, buy me a bigger monitor, I've yet to justify it to myself. 08:52]

Yep. It's time to

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[kinda like those WWE wrestlers, once you have a tag line you're stuck with it forever...]

2008-08-27

More Clematis destruction

Yep, done more yesterday. May not be good grammar, but to the point.

Started by, huh, don't quite remember what my first step was, just know my arms and legs still ache.

Do know this, I cleared the blackberries and Clematis which had snuck over/under/through the fence to the property to the south, cleared all that out [well, dunno about the pile it turned into, but I left that next to their clippers, it was clear they'd been overwhelmed, now it just needs to go into their yard debris container, I'll see if I can find that and do it for them.]

Then, back in our yard, that tree thingy at the Milwaukie end of the side of the building [pictures, there will be pictures!], the one that grows any direction it can, sending up new shoots from the ground, being a right nuisance, well, ¾ of it is gone. That saw I mentioned a couple of posts back? The collapsible one from Fiskars? Man, cuts through that tree like nobody's business!

Finally, all the berries, vines, etc., south from the Cedar upright denoting the south end of the planned blackberry presence, that all got pulled, rolled up together with long grass to make it easier to clutch against my chest [slightly ouch, instead of major yeouch!] and carried to that holding area described last post. Photos soon, sure doesn't look like it was only made a week ago this past Sunday, and first used the day I felt like I was gonna keel over and croak; knee pads, nifty tools for nifty gardens, your friend and mine.

At this point, we've enough yard debris ready to go to fill a mid-sized dumpster, which I'm starting to think I should look into, so that the yard can really be considered Liberated.

The Apple Trees, given the amount of fruit, are gonna have to wait longer to prune. However, the long foldy/bendy ladder we have can be pressed into service to harvest said fruit, instead of waiting for it to fall to the ground.

Well, gee, not I know today's project. Other than trying to get out and shop, and pick up rental forms.

Right, looks like we've a new tenant, chap who helped install the latest windows, seems solid.

08:45, time to do, instead of just wright.

So...

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2008-08-25

What not to do with Clematis clippings...

Do Not, ON YOUR LIFE, consider composting clematis. This puppy can make garden variety morning glory look anemic.

What I'm doing at this time, photos to follow eventually, is I've built a frame from PVC, bottomed it with chicken wire a good foot above the ground, tossed some blackberry bramble in for effect, and that is where the stuff is being tossed. As the year(s) go by, it will be added to the Yard Debris for pick-up, after it is a shriveled husk of its former evil.

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2008-08-24

That Dang Vine - identified

Clematis. Specifically, a sub-varietal of Western White Clematis, Clematis ligusticifolia Nutt., at least I'm presuming a sub-varietal as some of the pictures don't quite match, but then I may just be being ... picky ...

Nice picture, isn't it? Yes, I need to invest in software which will let me watermark shots like this one, taken by me, John Mead, August 22, 2008, in my backyard, using a refurbed Kodak EasyShare P850, then cropped using FastStone Image Viewer, which is nice software. Hmm, doco at their website indicates I could do this with their software, but my system just did funkyness and I want to publish this prior to rebooting.

There you have it, The Vine That Ate Our Backyard. Surrounded, in this case by blackberries. Or it was, until I ripped it bodily apart after finishing taking my photoes. They claim it only reaches a max height of one foot, depends on how they define max height, I guess. Trust me, I was eye-to-eye with this thing, and I'm considerably taller than one foot. Unsupported height, not climbing on anything, even itself? Might be limited to one foot. Maybe. Doubt it. They lie like a rug, a cheap rug, the kind of rug Mickey Spillane would have on the floor of his P.I.'s office, uncushioned, stained with spilt rotgut, cigarette ashes, and the broken hearts of a million dames like the one who just walked through the door.

So, was I getting into the proper flow? :grin:

Anyway, time to

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2008-08-23

Parodies

Biker Mice From Mars

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear

Biker Mice From Mars
: This is new, just the third episode on as I type, but already 1) Star Wars 2) Donald Trump 3) Bertie Wooster & Jeeves 4) Bruce Banner, AKA The Increadible Hulk have become major sources for plot devices. This, campers, is fun with a capital F - U - N ! And I think, maybe, 5) Doc Savage, or reasonable facsimile just hove in. No, not Doc Savage, this one I don't recognize, which is spiffy since they'd already shown they were drawing on a wide variety of sources. Branson, Sir Richard Branson, airlines & gambling, I'll get back to this one, when I figure it out.

Ooo... its not new, a quick search just brought us a wikipedia article [but ya already knew that, after following the link], its just new to me. 1993, three seasons, spiff. Not reading any further, just closed that tab, want this to continue being a surprise to me.

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear: Um, OK, sorry about the sequence of colons, can't be helped. There, just italicized it, that looks better.

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, a TNT original movie, Executive Producer Dean Devlin, who had the concept. Parodies, very well I might add, Romancing the Stone, Indiana Jones, and Stargate; well, the respective genres, although Stargate gets lots of nods, from the music to Daniel Jackson. No surprise, Dean Devlin is The Man Behind The Movie, the Stargate movie that is. Who better to create a Hero who is Daniel Jackson, only an over-the-top Daniel Jackson with babe-appeal, who is also a librarian's Librarian, an intellectual joat combined with the reasoning abilities of Sherlock Holmes Himself, who is hesitant until forced to act, then pulls all his abilities & knowledge together to act. As with Jackson in the movie, not a physical combatant, but with a breadth and depth of knowledge which puts Jackson to shame...

OK, I admit it. I'd love to be this guy. He's sweet, and has a dry sense of humour, and is an intellectual giant, and and and just a nice guy who needs some confidence in himself, which he has by the end of this, the first movie.

Yes, there's a sequel. Return to King Solomon's Mines, which I haven't watched yet, but suspect will do to, I mean for, H. Rider Haggard what Quest for the Spear did to Indiana Jones.

Didn't mention the cast, did I?

Noah Wyle as The Librarian; the man can do funny. We already knew he could act.
Olympia Dukakis as his Mum. Over-the-top New York Jewish Mother, wants her son to find himself, a job, and a girl. Need say more?
Bob Newhart & Jane Curtin as Top Staff to The Librarian, perfect timing as always, and Jane can do serious-lack-of-sense-of-humour humour. Bob, well, Bob kicks ass, as always.
Sonya Walger as psycho-bitch bodyguard/sidekick to Our Hero. Who figures out he probably read some sex manuals along the way, and he did. Off-screen. While not rated, if rated this film would be PG, and I'd argue a G rating, myself, except that there is some violence. But no way anything requiring PG-13.
Kyle MacLachlan as Da Baddy. Nicely over the top in an understated, urbane manner. Oozes smooth, or is that smoothly oozes?

And don't forget, there's the book, which is how I first became aware of this gem, several years ago.

Movie comes in standard and extended editions, if possible get the extended version for more examples of homage and mega-geek-derring-do, but quite nice in standard, and read the book.

****************

On a different topic, I did my first IM yesterday, and ended up being in an IM handicap match, me dual-windowed with 'Zany in Window 1 and EvilD in Window 2; OK, nicknames from ages ago, hadn't had real contact in, oh, 2008-1994=14 years in October... which is when I moved from Chicago back to Portland. Found that when under pressure, my touch-typing skills come back like nobody's business, blew me away! Talk about uncensored stream-of-consciousness, no overediting allowed, no sirree bob, not no way no how. Was fun!

OK, should go do stuff, y'all know what that means, time to

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2008-08-22

On Gloves, Roses, and Blackberries...

Bionic Rose Gloves-Men's - X- Large Green $44.95/pair [I shopped around a bit, got mine for $41.95/pair, free shipping (ActiveForever.com)]
Harbor Freight: 3 PAIR WELDING GLOVES ITEM 488-3VGA $9.99

Gloves. Yes, I use them. In this case, for the purpose of dealing with ... Roses ... and ... Blackberries! [like the heading didn't give that away...]

Bionic makes a nice Rose Glove, very form fitting, yet supple, flexible, a bit of stretch and give. Pigskin hand, some reinforcing, nice fabric to the sleeves which are long. Get this, machine washable, no, really! Haven't had any trouble with the roses, haven't got stuck. Blackberries, on the other hand, are more robust, with more and narstier thorns, so some creep through, but not too badly.

Harbor Freight markets welding gloves, amongst other things. If you aren't familiar with Harbor Freight, they're an online/brick&mortar Discount Tool & Hardware merchant, and really, they aren't too bad. If you want to try a tool, but don't want to spend the big bucks, they'll do. If you want something you won't cry over when it wears out, ditto. The Big Boys will provide a more finely machined tool, with more precision in your results, but for day in/day out okay-if-a-little-slop, can't be beat. And they don't cost an arm and a leg.

Anyway, they have these welding gloves, I initially got them because they are well insulated, keep my hands warm in the winter. They also do a good job with blackberries, hardly any stickers get through. Sleeves don't go as far up the arm, not anywhere as nice a fit, and don't think about knitting, let alone fine embroidery. Bionic's gloves, embroidery is a possibility.

When just diving into bramble, no subtlety involved, Harbor Freight does fine. When mucking about in the dirt, trying to trace roots and pull them out of the ground, go Bionic; feels like nothing between you and roots, practically, but your hands are clean afterwards, no semi-detached nails, no dirt ground into the quick; I know, sounds gross, and speaking from experience its far worse than gross. Not a problem with Bionic. Can't be done with the welding gloves, fine manipulation is not their forté [hope i got the accent going the right direction...], protecting from heat & sparks, not to mention thorns, is.

One thing neither has, which I'm going to add, are grommets. I want to be able to hang the pair I'm not using from a caribiner, off my belt, so when I switch back and forth they're easy to get to.

Harbor Freight also sells some nice RATCHETING BYPASS LOPPERS. One caveat, don't apply too much pressure, the handles, when fully extended, may bend a little when abused; I need to unbend mine, but I can't really call it a design problem, I saw it happening and kept right on going, like an idiot. The handles, via a twist-to-loosen/twist-to-lock mechanism, extend from ≈18" to ≈31", which is handy indeed. The twist system is solid, not chintzy. Price? $14.99, can't be beat.

As long as I've spread out to yard-mastering tools in general...

Fiskars, yes, the scissor folks, make a dandy limb pruning saw, cuts on the pull, and with the twist of a knob can slide the blade back into the hollow handle. Officially marketed as Power Tooth® Sliding Pruning Saw-6 inch (Stainless), don't let that scare you, it cuts through 3" Rosemary like nobody's business. Comes with this dorky belt clip, don't bother, if you rely on that clip you'll soon realize you've lost the saw, as it falls off far too easily. Better to just tuck it into a pocket. I got mine at Sears. Fiskars currently lists it for $12.99, I don't remember what I paid, but I remember there being ... a sale ... involved, end of summer, clearing out seasonal inventory, that kind of thing; I always check those out when I see them. I mean, so some nifty storage containers are black & orange, for Halloween, they look just fine next to the green/red ones, from Christmas...

Anyway, a very nice pruning saw, doesn't have a frame to limit your approach, cuts on the pull [which enables 1) thinner blade and 2) less effort on your part, our arms are more effective pulling than pushing.], collapses to a reasonable size, lightweight, sturdy. All of which contributed to my deciding to purchase it.

Bypass Pruners are crucial when dealing with Roses & Blackberries. I don't remember the brand on mine, I picked them up at Fred Meyer some years agone, thinking Mom would like them; too complicated for her taste, so I'm using them. For which my wrists thank me. Bypass pruners, like the bypass loppers, multiply the force applied to them, making them very handy if you aren't The Hulk.

When dealing with big branches, get a real saw. I use a Japanese-style saw
I bought at Woodcraft, «Saw, 240mm, Crosscut Razor», #02P62, currently sells for $29.99. One of the advantages over buying a similar saw at Harbor Freight is that you can purchase replacement blades. Bill uses a herkier style saw, a Ryoba, which he also uses for framing, etc. Then again, he has one, I don't. And for pruning way up in the air, a Pruning Saw is useful. Me, instead of buying one, I made an adapter and attach the Razor Crosscut at the end of a long pole, works for what I do. Anyway, this saw will handle up to 4" thick branches without much problem, any thicker and I'd go with Bill's choice.

Back to blackberries. When digging around at the roots, wear good knee pads, you will not regret it. I've got some gel-lined pads I got from Duluth Trading Co., after yesterday I'm dragging them out to the garden with me; they're not just for crawling around on joists between floors any more.

Having spent far too much time on this, off to other stuff.

Hope someone finds this of use!

So...

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2008-08-21

Blackberries, hates 'em, my precious, hates 'em we does

There is this problem I have. Either I can't be bothered by something, or I can't make myself stop working on it.

I have no control over this. Its manifested itself for all my life. Real sucky at times. Even when I know I have to take a break I keep on going. Or something I know has to be dealt with, I just can't get into. This is, in fact, the central core of my disability claim; everything else, other than level of functioning, can be dealt with.

What does this have to do with blackberries, you ask? Coming dang near to keeling over from physical stress while doing a top notch job of excavating blackberries, roots and all, continuing well after I knew I should stop. "But just this one more pull on the root, then I'll stop," I'd tell myself, then keep on going. Idiot. No, just something my brain can't control; the lovely defect, that combined with Obsessive/Compulsive Personality Disorder, makes me a menace to myself.

We're going to try Mom monitoring me and telling me to take a break, and see if outside stimulus works any better than my telling me I should stop.

I'll admit, the sinking my teeth in and not letting go made me a terrific troubleshooter, and a pretty spiff reference librarian.

Off to bed now, before 10:00PM yet!

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2008-08-20

Definitions: Unmitigated Disaster-speak; Mitigated Disaster-speak; Ozmosis

Unmitigated Disaster-speak

Mitigated disaster-speak

Ozmosis

1. Unmitigated Disaster-speak. adj. Pertaining to the results if another's views/policies are chosen over one's own views/policies. Most used by politicians, both revealed and concealed.

Politicians, as referenced above, refers to both those who acknowledge to all that their actions are dominance-driven, hence revealed, and those who seek dominance from the shadows, hence concealed. Rarely are the two types able to work together for more than short alliances, for the desire to dominate will inevitably lead to conflict, unless one be of far greater intellect than the other and be capable of cloaking the disdain they feel for all others, or at least in regard to this particular other. Concealed Politicians are often found amongst Senior Staff, and are most happy when they serve [hah!] Revealed Politicians of Impaired Intellect.

Dominance, dominate, dominant, domination, dominion. To be the center around which all revolves, as it rightly should be, for who has a better understanding of all things than he who would dominate; or such is the understanding of those who would dominate.

2. Mitigated Disaster-speak. adj. Pertaining to the results if one's own views/policies do not lead to the desired results; after all, it would have been far worse if another's views had carried the day. As is stated, combined with allegations that continued attempts by those other's to impose their [flawed, obviously] views resulted in the mitigated disaster. After all, if not opposed no disaster could have occurred. See Sabotage. See also Treason.

3. Ozmosis. adv. Pertaining to the perambulations of the autochthons of Tierra Australis, specifically during the Dreamtime.

**********

And now that I've gotten this recorded before it vanished in the quagmire which is sometimes my mind, it's time for lunch, so...

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2008-08-18

Meanwhile, back on the farm: Further adventures in "landscaping"

South side of the backyard is still scary, but yesterday I spent another 2½ hours in what I euphemistically call "pruning" and "weeding", and others might compare to a small Mongol Horde spending the holidays outside Prague.

We ... hmm, just who is this "we", anyway? "We" are myself, John, and My Aged Parental Unit (Female), Mary. "We" used to be somewhat larger, including one Aged Parental Unit (Male), James, deceased some 7+ years agone, and one Aged Decrepit Sibling Unit (Female), Beth, who while Still With Us, resides some umpteen bazillion millimeters to the North, in Olympia, and no longer needs deal with The Yard; the Aged Decrepit Sibling Unit (Female) is usually two years older than I, but for approximately 50 days each year she is Three years older than I, and trust me, as a Bright And Perky Younger Sibling Unit (Male), I insure that she feels every second of that throughout the year, not just during those 50ish days. *grin*

Now where was I before I so rudely interrupted myself?

There's this Rosemary shrub, see, what moved with us from Salem in 1976, and was already at least five years old at that time. A thirty-seven year old Rosemary which hasn't been harvested or pruned for most of its life can get pretty ... big ... and also look like its been living on the coast [think «Salishan Lodge» logo] what with all the twisty-turny branches, looking like well-weathered anchorline, ifn ya happen to be the «Golden Hind» that is, and bunches of these branches no longer having any, or not very much, life left to them. And then, like at the coast, imagine that blackberries had found there way into this here shrub, and grown up and around and over it, into the surrounding trees, etc.

Then, picture me with A Pruning Saw, and The Will To Use It [yes, I do enjoy Regency Romances, why do you ask? What do you mean My Capitalization reflects that?].

This here shrub no longer has a fourish yard perimeter, and looks more like a topiary than a bush. And I've got some well-seasoned wood I need to stash under cover for future use, two to three inch diameter Rosemary ought ta be good for something nifty, even if it does curl around like a serpent.

But before I can stash it away for future use, I'll need to unearth it. Ya see, it gave me a lovely place to pile blackberry, raspberry, and That Danged Vine clippings where they won't have contact with the ground whilst they dry so they won't root on me. A quantity which covered a five foot by 30 foot expanse now rises in a pile six feet tall by at least a four foot diameter, plus what was already tangled in the Rosemary prior to practicing Fourth Dan Extreme Pruning upon it.

The south side of the yard has at least twice as much blackberry in it, and is considerably taller, more of a true bramble. Prior to taking it on I'm going to build a drying bin for it. I expect to spend much of the next year disposing of the clippings every two weeks at yard debris pick-up, unless Bill decides to haul it away sometime when he is down with the pick-up truck.

The property to our East is looking much better, as I've taken to clearing out stuff which has crept over there from our property [we didn't prevent it from going there, we should help get rid of it, as well as her back isn't up to yard work anymore, just like mom.], doing this at the same time as I work on our yard, which allows me to start on a given problem plant from which ever yard gives the best initial access; as I told the lady, plants don't give no never-you-mind to which side of the fence they came from, well, not quite those words, but that's the gist.

Coming up on time for lunch, so I'll be wandering off now, which means its time to

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2008-08-13

Site spoofing, a nasty trick to discover

I just had the experience of searching for information on a subject, finding a good looking link, following it to good information, and finding that all the external links led to sites having nothing to do with the link labels.

It's a chap's personal website, someone prominent in several fields. And it is also something of a CV, so this is where people would find out about what he's done, honours won, Boards sat on, etc.

Searched his name, and found a site with a different URL, a more respectable URL, and found that it was the same except that the links go where they should.

I've emailed him about what someone appears to have done, copying his site, tweaking the external links, and

Message just came back bounced, I have to remove some of the information I provided as it appears to have triggered their spam filters...

Anywho, I'm trying to let him know about this as this type of spoofing can really louse up someone's reputation.

Really twisted, in a bad way, whoever did it, some of the redirected links go to other spoof sites, look just like the real site except the URL is a tad off.

Don't really know what else to say at this time.

Don't feel like an enthusiastic

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So I'll just post it.

Later...

Ya wanna bet my email address is what is triggering the spam filter? Its a *bleeped*-up world when an FCC issued Amateur Radio License Number is filtered as spam.

And why doesn't the spell checker recognize spam as a word?

*sigh* i really do need to look up it's/its so i use it properly...

2008-08-12

Relays, what they are, how they work, and zowie stuff they can enable!

I'd kept coming across mention of "relays" in electronics publications, but couldn't wrap my mind around them. Like, how can a low-voltage circuit control a high-voltage circuit?
I mean, if they are connected the one will over-power the other, right? Blow that puppy out of the sky over-power, no?

No.

Having just had my satori, my moment of ah-ha-ness, I seek to pass this vision on to others, that they not be mired in darkness as was I. Bear in mind that rampant anthropomorphism follows, the imputation of feelings to non-organic constructs that their interactions may sink more deeply into your psyche, that you may make this knowledge as one with your being.

You have two (or more, yes, more is possible, oh seeker after truth) circuits, wires, running close together, close enough that magnetic fields generated by the passage of current through t'one wire can influence thangs attached to t'other wire, see? Now, t'wires, all o'dem, dey be passing through dis here relay, see? And d'relay, well, hmm, deys several kinds o'relays, norm'ly open and norm'ly closed.

[return to normalish English detected]
[jokes about Vulcan, Irish, and Italian names inspired by the above gratefully accepted]

Normally: refers to the at-rest state of the relay, the state in which its most happy, where it needs neither respond to nor influence it's surroundings.

Open: refers to being non-attached, apart, undedicated, non-conducting, as in an open relationship.

Closed: refers to being attached, together, dedicated, conducting, as in a closed relationship.

An electro-mechanical relay is the simplest kind of relay, where a physical coil lies next to a physical spring, [whether the spring be like a slinky or a flexible strap of metal is immaterial at this level, OK?], and the flow of electrical current through the coil determines the state of the mechanical spring, whether it is relaxed or stressed, at-rest or not-at-rest.

When current is applied to the coil a magnetic field is created which changes the charge of the coil in relationship to the spring, resulting in the spring either being attracted or repulsed by the coil. This causes the spring to move ... um, big whoop you say, right, left something out, I did.

Gate: the spring is part of one (or more) gate(s), and controls if its open or closed. Each gate is a break in a circuit and controls the flow of current through that circuit. If open, no current flows, if closed, current flows. The at-rest state of the gate determines if the relay is normally open or normally closed.

In a normally open relay, the flow of current through the coil causes the spring to change to a closed state, closing the gate, and permitting the flow of current through the wire(s) controlled by said gate. Conversely, in a normally closed relay, the flow of current through the coil causes the spring to change to an open state, opening the gate, and forbidding the flow of current through the wire(s) controlled by said gate.

[Think of it like an electric fence on a ranch, the simplest of them require all gates being closed to allow electricity through the fence, any of them being open breaks the circuit and no current can flow. In theory, anyway; it's still not smart to fiddle with them unless you have the source locked off, as with all electronics.]

So, depending upon the sensitivity of the spring, it doesn't take much current through the coil to produce a strong enough magnetic field to flex it from it's at-rest state to it's not-at-rest state.

Sensitivity: See, I told you anthropomorphism was involved! Sensitivity has to do with how easily something is influenced by external factors, and its just the same with physics as with emotions. And like with people, the more sensitive the relay, the more it has to be shielded from outside influences. A high-voltage circuit controlled by a low-voltage circuit requires a very well shielded relay to insure that the on/off state of the high-voltage circuit is not toggled unintentionally by external sources.

With a properly constructed normally open relay, with the controlling circuit being low-voltage and the controlled circuit high-voltage, closing a switch on the low-voltage circuit will close a gate within the relay allowing current to flow through the high-voltage circuit. This is handy when you want to take a bunch of lights in a room which weren't wired together and control them from one location; [make sure that all circuits are shut off at the source before doing this!] determine your control location, run low-voltage wire from relay-controlled lamps to the control location, install your switch(es) and run a line out to a proper transformer, [double check everything to make sure you did it properly] turn the mains back on and use the new low-voltage switches to control your lights. This is, I believe, how automotive headlights work, and it definitely ties in with stage lighting and sound boards, take a gander at the wire bundles attached to them and they are low-voltage cables.

Umm, I just spent 2½ hours on this, way past time to eat lunch, will do more with this later!

So...

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2008-08-10

A Proposal for Testing Exploratory Landers in Real-World Circumstances; or, Send NASA to my backyard

2008.08.10 Portland, OR

"The idea came to me after working in The Backyard," John Mead reports. "There I was, grubbing around in the dirt, following roots and creepers through a morass of matted grass and soft dirt, getting stuck by blackberry stickers and then grinding dirt into the wounds, working by feel 80% of the time, having to be careful not to pull too hard on this pervasive morning-gloryish vine so it doesn't break off on me, and whamo! It hit me!"

After recovering from the concussion he examined the idea.

Remote sensing, manipulation of materials without visual assistance, use of tactile/tension receptors to calculate force/stress/angle for manipulation of semi-elastic vegetation, adverse environmental forces [dirt, moisture, nasty sharp pointy objects]; why, this is just made for testing Mars landers, or better yet, landers designed for exploring planets around other stars where we haven't a clue what the environment is like.

"I just need to figure out how I apply for a grant to fund this, then I should be able to talk someone at NASA into this," Mead said, "I may not be dealing with kudzu but they'll still understand where I'm coming from."

*******************

Yep, got more stuff done outside, this time on the main section of the yard. Not so much blackberries or raspberries this time, but this *bleep* vine/creeper thing, should take pictures and post them to see if anyone knows what they are, anywho they do funky stuff like growing 20'+ up one tree, into another, then wrap around power lines and into the neighbor's eaves; surprised the *bleep* out of me when I pulled that section down! Got a bunch out of our yard, and then went next door and got out the stuff that had crept over into their space, that's when I discovered it had crept over the power lines to their roof. Boy, does their area look better now! Good deed for the day, fershur!

starting to crash and burn, so time to

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2008-08-04

.exe; or, what to do when you change file associations by accident...

No bleep, there I was...

OK, so I did something really stupid. Won't go into the details, but the end result was that my WinXP no longer knew what to do with software with an .exe extension, wanted to know what application I should use to open it with. And, guess what, all of the built-in means of rolling stuff back in Windows requires proper functioning of .exe files. Including editing the Registry; after all, regedit.exe? Repairing the installation doesn't work either, while lots and lots of stuff I didn't want changed were, this wasn't. And MS doesn't have information posted in re what the default settings should be for this; well, OK, since you shouldn't change this association you shouldn't ever need this info, but what if you do? None of my reference materials were of assistance. Need to search the web, oh, wait, browser launching requires ... .exe programs...

Luckily, via weird stuff relating to browser functions being tightly integrated into the Windows OS, while I couldn't launch a browser myself, I could trick Windows into doing it by having it ask for online help.


Now I'm online. Searched MS, nix. Google the web [so, like, google, akin to aspirin, has become a generic term in modern society, but that's a matter for a different post] looking for stuff on .exe, association, default, hoping to find something useful. Lots of links to forums for programming and creating file types, but looking pretty grim. Then I get lucky.

If this has happened to you, if you find that .exe is no longer working properly, if the default file association for .exe has been corrupted in the Windows Registry [hint, I'm trying to load this with the terms which would have pulled my search in... :grin:]

Go here:
JTB World Blog: Have you lost your .EXE file extension association in Windows Vista?

Note: The fix works just as well in WinXP Home Edition SP3 as it does in Vista, and I suspect it would work in any iteration of Windows since they implemented the registry back in Win95, but I can't state that from personal experience.

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2008-08-03

Success!

Did it! Given that I've had this set up since APRIL, it's about time I made a post, yes?

Type something in, give cursory review, then post it!

And... I just changed the blog to be my homepage, which will also tend to make me do something with it. It'll be a lot more convenient.

Anyway. a week ago Friday [as in a week prior to this past Friday], I cleared out the blackberry bramble next to the building. Not the one in the backyard which covers at least a third of it, but the one on the south side of the building. 3 hours work. 15'x40', approx., as I visualize it, I'm not dashing out to measure it right now, although I'm tempted to. If I did, I'd keep on overthinking and never get this posted.

I can post pictures. Maybe I'll do that. Post a picture to show what I'm talking about. Later, not now. Maybe even define "the building" mentioned above, as in the 4-plex my parents bought back in 1976, when we moved from Salem. The one which has been homebase since then, even in ways while I lived/worked in Chicago [see Six Years Before The Mast, the (non-existent) history of my employment at The Chicago Public Library How do I finish a bleeping link in this thing!

There has to be a better way to end a link than editing the html coding. Maybe I should try typing beyond the link before making it a link. I'm too used to WordPerfect, where hitting [End] places the cursor after any formatting and restores you to the pristine default document style; why no one else seems to have this functionality is beyond me.

Post this puppy.

Laterdays...

Like, ending fields, fonts, links, etc., is really easy; think Karate Kid, wipe on, wipe off, click on, click off.

I feel sooooo stupid. :grin:

Post this edited Puppy!

So, my Blog title lies... Not?

Yeah. maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. The real problem is myself; I edit my thinking/phrasing all the time, so posting anything is a pain, but I'm going to give it a try.

Don't hold your breath.