Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

We didn't get any snow.  Despite Winter Storm Warnings, clever weather maps, endless babbling by TV newsies, no snow.  Its beautiful, sun is out, icicles are dripping, tramway is taking a day off.  But no snow.  There is plenty left on the mountain, but it would have been nice to get that foot of new snow the TV promised but failed to deliver.

Why have they not discovered a "root cause"?

For the lithium battery problem on the 787?  According to yesterday's Wall St Journal, the National Transportation Safety Board doesn't have anyone who knows anything about batteries or lithium, or even lithium batteries.  They are much more complex than those lead acid car batteries whose chemistry we learned in high school.  At least at my high school.
  Apparently both the Japanese and US safety boards have a single charred battery, taken from a 787, sitting on the bench, looking burnt.  The investigators have no clue as the how they came to catch fire.  And that's where it stands.  They haven't taken the batteries apart, analyzed the charcoal for dendrites, molten lithium, or whatever, 'cause they don't know how.
Gonna be a long time before those 787's fly again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feds and Staties go after Fung Wah Bus

The cheapest trip between Boston and NYC is the Chinatown bus, fare go as low a $10 one way a couple of years ago.  It's still cheaper than the Hound, Trailways, Amtrak, or flying.  Fung Wah has been running for at least ten years that I know of.
   According to the Wall St Journal, the Massachusetts authorities have petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to take 21 of Fung Wah's 28 buses off the road for cracked frames.  The Feds obliged by shutting down all 28 Fung Wah buses.
  Fung Wah says service is continuing using chartered buses.
  Someone made the right campaign contributions.  Or failed to make them.

Feds take out the Scooter Store

You must have seen the ads on TV.  Happy grandmother seated in an electric wheel chair, whirring about the kitchen.  Voice over saying "Medicare or your insurance will defray all costs."  Looks like the Scooter Store hasn't been making political contributions to Obama.  The Feds used 150 agents to raid the Scooter Store, shutting them down.  They claim the Scooter Store has been gouging Medicare.  Never the less the TV ads are still running. 
   Better the Scooter Store, than Gibson Guitar. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Toasting BP

Lawyers have been submitting plenty of billable hours in the three years since BP's well blew in the Gulf of Mexico.  Today they are actually in court, making arguments to a jury.  One thing the delay has done is allow time for people to forget what happened. 
  Let's do a little review.  The BP well was drilled 13000 feet into a high pressure gas and oil deposit.  For some reason BP decided not to bring the well into production.  Instead BP tried to shut it down.  They pumped cement between  the drill pipe and the rocky hole to seal it.  After the cement was given enough time to harden, pressure readings indicated that the cement job was leaking.  Donald Vidrene and Robert Kaluza, two BP executives aboard the drill rig, ordered the readings ignored and to proceed to pump out the drilling mud.  Personnel from Trans Ocean (rig owner) and Halliburton (cement contractor) protested, saying the well was leaking high pressure natural gas.   The BP men ignored this advice and continued to pump out the mud and replace it with sea water.  The mud is very heavy and a 5000 foot column of mud is enough to contain the gas.  Seawater is much lighter and cannot withstand gas pressure.  The highly flammable natural gas, under great pressure, forced its way all the way up the drill pipe out onto the drill rig and ignited.  The resulting fires and explosions sank the rig and killed 11 workers.   Mr Vidren and Mr. Kaluza took the fifth amendment to avoid testifying at the inquiry, and then fled the country.
   An attempt was made to close the blow out preventer, a 500 ton valve on the sea floor to shut off the drill pipe.  This attempt failed.  Better than a year later, the blow out preventer was salvaged from the sea floor and brought up to a dock.  Engineers reported that the drill pipe was off center which prevented the rams from closing the pipe off.  That's a major design failure of the blow out preventer.. 
  The root cause of the accident is the decision by the BP executives on the rig to ignore indications of a leak and pump out the drilling mud.  The failure of the blow out preventer is a secondary issue, apparently that design is an industry standard.  I won't fault BP for using an approved industry standard device, even it failed to work. 
   The above information is from the Wall St. Journal, the only paper to cover the accident.  The rest of the MSM were conspicuous by their absence.  

Sequester Sky is still Falling

We have the president and secretaries of Navy and Interior on TV whining about awful budget cuts.  Suck it in Obama administration.  If you can't handle a chicken feed 3% fake budget cut, the Republic is doomed. 
Fake budget cuts happen when the agency gets less than it asked for.  Real budget cuts happen when the agency gets less money than it got last time.  The famous sequester is all fake budget cuts.  Nothing real about the sequester.
   The Republicans gave you a $600 billion tax hike just last month .  Naturally they aren't  gonna give you another one this quarter.  Get used to it. 

Oscars go world wide

Iranian TV carried the Oscar show.  The mullahs thought Michelle Obama's dress was too revealing and had them airbrush on a high necked blouse. 
  The amusing part is that Iran is so hungry for Hollywood fluff from the Great Satan that they are showing the American Oscars.  Presumably it ran with Persian subtitles, but it is hard to imagine getting much enjoyment out of the Oscars if you don't understand English.  And know something about the movies, actors and actresses.  It's like watching football or NASCAR.  You have to be a fan to get much out of it. Sounds like Hollywood still has a lot of fans in Iran.  There is more to being a superpower than nukes and planes and tanks. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pediatrics scores again

This in from NPR.  The pediatrics association is now advising doctors to lay off the antibiotics for childhood ear infections.   They claim the ear infection often clears up by it self, the antibiotics can lead to upset stomaches, and overuse of antibiotics is breeding up generations of drug resistant super bugs.
  Right.  So kiss goodbye to that pink bottle of amoxcylin in the fridge. 
  And, speaking from personal experience, those ear infections REALLY hurt bad.  And kids get a LOT of them.  Like at least once a winter until they grow out of them.  And the antibiotics make the hurt go away within hours, not days.  And compared to the pain of an ear infection, upset stomach is a none starter.  And in a country that routine feeds antibiotics to farm animals to make them gain weight faster, don't worry about the small amount of antibiotics given to small children. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Virus Hunting

    Where do you look for virii?  Simple, you look in computer memory (RAM).  Computer programs of any kind have to be loaded into memory to work at all.  Windows uses the name "Process" for each  piece of programming loaded into RAM.   Process Explorer is a freeware program that lists all the processes loaded into memory.  It can be downloaded from the web.  Just Google for "Process Explorer" to find a site to down load it from.
    When running, Process Explorer displays a list of all programs loaded in memory, and thus runnable.  A typical computer will have about 30 processes loaded.  Most of these processes are parts of Windows and are supposed to be there.  But if you have a virus, it will show up in the Process Explorer. 
   So how does one tell the harmless and necessary parts of Windows from virii?  Just right click on the process name and Process Explorer will Bing (Microsoft's Google competitor) the internet for information on the program name.  Cool.  You will get dozens of hits on every process name.
   You want to read a number of them.  Many of the hits are from websites offering magical Windows Washing programs.  I don't trust  magical Windows Washers, they can be virii themselves, or they can break your computer.  But postings from, Da Tech Guy, Bleeping Computer, CNET and many others are reliable.  Take a preponderance of evidence.  If all the posts say it's part of windows, or all the posts say it's a virus, you know where you are at.  If most of the posts are wishy-washy, and the single post that calls it a virus sounds like a rant,  then it means no one really knows what it is. 
  So what do you do when you find a virus lurking in RAM?  It only gets into RAM by loading itself off disk at boot time.  You have to use Windows Explorer to find it on disk and zap it. In fact just to make sure it's really gone, I'd empty the trash after deleting the file. 
   This is hand-to-hand virus fighting.  You only need get  into this sort of thing after your anti virus program[s] have failed to kill. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Radioactive waste leaks

News is full of talk about tanks of liquid radioactive waste leaking at Hanford.  So why don't they bring in some new tanks and pump out the leaking tanks?   If the local tank store is out of stock, how about using some railroad tank cars?  Or highway tank trucks?  Ought to be able to scare up something in a day or so. 
  No talk about doing anything about the leaks.  Instead we hear soothing talk about no hazard to human health. 
  I'm glad Hanford on on the other side of the country from me. 

Guns for Newbies

Been a lotta talk going around about this, up to and including Joe Biden  (he likes shotguns).  Long post on one of my favorite blogs, all about various calibers, stopping power, full of recommendations by name of obscure guns I barely even heard of.  The kind of jargon that goes well in gun magazines.  So, here are my recommendations for the total newbie (doesn't own a gun, hasn't fired and gun, doesn't watch many action adventure movies). 
   Get one that you can shoot well.  A .22 caliber hit beats a .44 caliber miss.  The bigger guns are more more likely to kill your target, if you can hit said target.  Bigger means heavier, harder to hold steady, kicks harder and has a louder report, all of which add up to harder to shoot.  Compromise on something you can shoot well, rather than a Dirty Harry style hand cannon. 
   Handguns are convenient, fit nicely into a drawer, a purse or a glove compartment.  It is also VERY difficult to hit anything with a handgun, even at very short range.  Long guns are much easier to aim and get hits with.  They are also more powerful than handguns, a hit with a rifle or a shotgun is much more likely to kill your opponent than a hit with a handgun.
    To do any good, you have to figure on doing some practice shooting.  You need to practice long enough to keep all your shots inside a 10 inch circle.  (At 25 yards with a handgun, at 100 yards with a rifle).  Always wear ear defenders when shooting, they will improve your accuracy.  The report of a gun is so loud it scares most of us, and the scare makes us jerk the trigger when we should be gently squeezing it.  Shooters call this condition "flinching".  Once a flinch is learned, it's hard to overcome.  Ear defenders muffle the report enough to prevent a flinch from developing in the first place.
  The fit of a hand gun to your hand is very important.  The right fit prevents the grip from twisting or sliding in your hand as the gun is fired, which makes the second shot more likely to go where you want it to go.  A regular sized handgun is easier to shoot.  The little snub nose jobs are harder to aim (and grasp).  You really have to shoot a handgun to know if you are going to like it.
   Revolvers are more dependable than automatic pistols.  Revolvers have no safeties to forget, need little lubrication and have no springs under compression waiting to break.  Just pull the trigger and a revolver goes bang.  Automatics not so good.  American Rifleman magazine did a comparison shopping piece on small automatic pistols not long ago.  For each gun reviewed, they listed the number of times it jammed while shooting it.  Stick with a revolver.

Friday, February 22, 2013

How to revise our military procurment

According to Aviation Week that is.  Everyone knows that US military procurement is a mess.  It takes too long, puts on too much gold plate, and costs too much.  Aviation Week has been around a long time and knows the ins and outs of procurement and where the bodies are buried.  They have five recommendations for improvement.

1.  Permit the few remaining prime contractors to merge.  There aren't many left, (Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and Northrup-Grumman?).  They would all merge together in a heartbeat if the government would let them.  Downside for us taxpayers, no more competitive bids, there would be only one qualified bidder on all jobs.  The industry would love that.

2. Drop the 8(a) goals for small and disadvantaged defense contractors.  This is the first time I heard of this one.  Sounds like crony capitalism at work for favored contractors.

3.  Drop the 50-50 rule requiring half of military maintainance to go thru the military depots.  Good idea.  Air Force depots were huge, slow, and did terrible work.  Plenty of stuff shipped to us from depot was defective on arrival.  Repair work ought to be done on a competitive bid basis. Low bidder gets the job.  If the depot can bid low  fine, if not (the likely case) private industry gets the work.

4.  Publish an official list of critical future technologies, cyber warfare, UAV's, reconnaisance, etc.  Not sure if this is so critical.  Sounds like a plea for the government to convince industry suits to back certain projects. Not sure if that's such a good idea.  A government list is no more likely to be right than an industry list. 

5. Make the loser pay in contract award disputes.  It takes for every to get a project going, 'cause no matter what the contract awarding agency does, figure that the loser will sue just on general principles.  That's gotta add a couple of years delay on every job.  If the loser had to pay court costs, he would be less willing to sue, or at least only sue when he had a strong case. 

Well, I can go alone with numbers 2,3, and 5.  I am against  number1.  Number 4 doesn't strike me as terribly important.

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

Good.  Very Good.  We got 2-3 inches last night, and 2-3 inches the night before.  Today the sun is out and the temperature in mid to upper 20's.  Perfect for skiing.  Trails are all in good shape.  More snow is forecast for the weekend. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lithium Batteries

New Aviation Week came in, and it has stories about the 787 and its battery.  So far it looks like the battery is the culprit, not the charger or 787 wiring.  Boeing is floating the idea of adding a fireproof battery box to contain the fire when the battery decides to burn up.  Silence from FAA and airlines.  I cannot imagine either of them being happy about that solution.  Boeing is wringing its hands over the idea of changing back to ordinary batteries, say nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride.  The paperwork burden looks awful, it would add a couple of hundred pounds to the empty weight and Boeing is still hoping some magic discovery about the battery will yield a non flammable lithium battery.   The Japanese battery maker has not been heard from. 
   Personally, I think Boeing ought to bite the bullet and get rid of the lithium and get the plane flying again.  They can appeal to their Congressmen to expedite the paperwork thru FAA.  It will cost, but having $200 million airliners piling up around the factory costs too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Apple Got Hacked

Yesterday Apple announced that a "small number" of employee's Mac's were infected by visiting a software development site.  Wow, a Mac attack after all that Appletalk about how only Windows gets infected by virii.  A "small number" presumably means something less than all the computers at Apple.  And, hard working Apple employees were infected at a software development site, not those nasty porn sites.  Apple workers never watch porn on the job.  Right.
  Since the infection occurred by just visiting a website, that means the browser did it.  The Apple browser got stupid and ran a program off that website, something it should never do, but all commercial browsers are doing today. 
  What the world needs is a secure browser that never ever executes programs from anywhere.  You would think such a browser would sell fairly well.  Maybe some of the flashier websites would look less flashy, but I'll take secure over flashy anyday.

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

We got four inches of decent snow last night.  It's down below freezing again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What's the State of War, today?

The chattering classes are all worked up about the War on Terror killing American citizens.  Not mentioned much is that Obama doesn't do War on Terror.  He calls it something else, I forget what.  No matter what Obama calls it, he's been doing some really warlike things.  That raid on Bin Ladin, and all those drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen certainly aren't regular Constitutional law enforcement.  They are acts of war. 
   In actual fact we have been treating Al Quada like an enemy nation-state ever since 9-11.  We have been waging war against them, and the laws of war permit damn near everything.  Under the laws of war we can bomb cities, torpedo ships, shoot enemy soldiers, execute enemy spies, shoot down enemy admirals in mid air, herd civilians into concentration camps, and bombard towns.  About the only things the laws of war forbid are poison gas and maltreatment of prisoners.  That leaves a whole range of hurt that can lawfully be applied to the enemy. 
   Once someone determines that so and so is enemy,  the hurt locker is opened, and his ass is grass.  "Someone" is not well defined.  Most of the original inmates of Guantanamo were fingered by Afghani's and turned over the the Americans, who flew 'em out of the country to a warm tropical clink.  Many of those drone strikes in Pakistan are flown based on intelligence from the Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) agency.  Which is pure as the driven snow and would never ask the Americans to snuff a personal enemy.
   In real life, "someone" is probably a kill committee of Lt. Colonels and CIA middle management types.  Once these guys declare you to be an enemy, you are in a world of hurt.  Obama may boast that he reviews the kill list personally, but that's pure bragging, he just initials a list that is presented to him.
    And the kill committee right now doesn't seem to care if the target is an American citizen or not.  Which is not as much of a problem as their total liberty to add targets to the snuff list pretty much at will.  I'm thinking we need to regularize the proceeding of the kill committee.  As long as their decisions to add targets are reasonable,  I have no problem with adding US born targets, just so long as they have done enough bad stuff to justify snuffing them and we have decent evidence that they really did what we accuse them of doing.
   In short, we need to make the rules of engagement for the kill committee as tight as the rules of engagement that hinder USMC and Army infantry. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sequester won't hurt economy, or defense

Despite all the heavy breathing, whining and wailing, the sequester is only $100 billion in cuts, many of them fake cuts.  The US budget is $3.8 trillion of 2013.  The sequester is a measly $100 billion, about 3.8%.  A 3.8 % cut isn't going to hurt anything.   And if we cannot bring ourselves to do a 3.8% cut we are doomed to go down the same drain the Greeks are going down.
   You have to remember that each dollar Uncle Sam spends is a dollar taken away from citizens, who have better uses for the money that Uncle ever will.  Government spending hurts the economy by reducing demand from citizens.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Damn the Defiant

Antique 1962 gem that turned up from Netflix.  A deep sea, age of fighting sail, sea story.  With Alec Guiness in the Royal Navy as captain of HMS defiant, with a nasty first lieutenant played by Dirk Bogarde.  Made in England.  Great sets and costumes.  Real sailing ships, billowing sails, towering rigging needing climbing.  Broadside to broadside action.  Guiness is his usual self, breathing life into the part.  Beautiful sound work, fine photography, in color, plenty of light, steady camera, sharp focus. A fun flick.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Miracle Jumper Cable

I'm paying the bills.  The wastebasket is filling up with all the junk advertising that gets packed into bills.  I'm pitching it as fast as I open 'em.  Til I get to this one that I just gotta share.
"Safely Start you car's dead battery without opening the hood".  And they show a special cable that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket.  Excuse me, the "DC Power Port".  This I gotta see.  It takes 500-800 amps to crank a big motor in cold weather. The cigarette lighter circuit has a 20 amp fuse in it.  Plug it in, hit the starter and pop, the cigarette lighter stops working.  
  Only $14.95 plus $5.95  Shipping and handling. 
  Such a deal.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

Not good.  Right now it is 40 degrees out.  Been that way all day.  Radio says it might snow a little tomorrow.  Mountain has fairly good cover. If it gets cold tomorrow skiing will be frozen granular.  If it stays warm it will be spring skiing. 

Would you believe a $275 million blimp?

According to the Wall St Journal the US Army has canceled the Long Endurance Multi Intelligence Vehicle project.  This was to be a 300 foot long blimp with an endurance of weeks.  It would float above the battlefield and furnish reconnaissance video, wifi, cold beer and everything else to troops below.  Apparently the program was planned to cost $517 million, of which $275 million has been spent.
Question 1:  How in the name of all that is holy can you spend $275 million on a single blimp?  It's not like it is new technology.   Count Zeppelin had them flying better than 100 years ago.  
 Question 2:  Can it survive a surface to air missile?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pre School

I remember childhood as being really cool, up until I had to start going to school at age six.  Before that dread day, life was good, I played in the street with a regular gang of kids every day that it didn't rain.  This was before computer games, Sesame Street, or even TV. 
   And now Obama is proposing to end the good part of childhood at four years old, instead of six.  And he is telling us that real learning takes place at age four, learning so valuable that we must take our kids away from good times and toss them into school. 
   I didn't even do kindergarten myself, and I never missed it.  School started with first grade and I did as well as any other kid in the class. 
   Far as I can see, pre kindergarten schooling is state sponsored day care.  The kids don't learn anything, but parents can drop their kids off as they go to work.  With so many people out of work, you'd think there would be plenty of unemployed family members to look after kids while parents are out earning a living. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


All sorts of companies are getting hacked these days. Latest victims to fess up are newspapers, the NY Times, the Journal, and WashPost.  Congress has ignored prodding to pass a cybersecurity law.  So Obama is calling a "voluntary"  meeting to OK some "voluntary" standards and then promise to implement them.  I don't know just what Uncle Sam is gonna propose, so here are my recommendations.

1.  Everyone has to use long and strong passwords, and all passwords are changed every couple of months. 
2.  Signals to control machinery shall never go over the public internet.  No remote controlled machine shall ever accept commands from the public internet.
3.  Private networks never accept login from off the premises, from the public internet, or from a dial up connection. 
4.  All laptops must have full disc encryption to protect contents and passwords should the laptop fall into hostile hands..
5.  Autorun must be disabled on all computers to prevent malicious programming from automatically uploading and executing off CDs and flashdrives..
6.  Use nothing but secure email clients and browsers.  Secure means never executing any sort of programming received over the internet or as an attachment.  Secure email clients and browsers will only display mail and websites, they will never execute programming of any sort.  To my knowledge no commercial email or browser programs are secure, they will all download and execute malicious programming with no assistance on the part of the user, or notification that they are doing so. 

Companies need to understand that poor security will give competitors access to their bids, customer lists, their designs and trade secrets, their books, their employee lists, and  any other intellectual property they own.  No company can win a bid when the competitor knows just how much they bid for a job.  The risks ought to be obvious to even the stupidest of suits. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lithium batteries

Aviation Week came in today.  They haven't pinned the lithium battery fires on anything yet.  They are now talking about doing the paperwork to change over to some other kind of battery.  They haven't committed to this yet, but they are worrying that it might become necessary.  If so, they worry that FAA paperwork will take months.

North Korean Nukes

The newsies have been chattering about the North Korean nuclear test all day.  Amid the torrent of words on both lefty NPR and righty Fox, the one important number has NOT been given.  A further example of innumeracy among the newsies.  They can't count, can't add, can't subtract. 
  The missing number is yield, in kilotons.  The first two North Korean tests were fizzles.  Their yield was so low (1 kiloton) as to tell us something went wrong and the bomb barely went off.  Any decent sort of nuke ought to have a 20 kiloton or better yield. 
  Question for the world's newsies.  Did this North Korean test yield enough to make us think they have it working right?  A yield of 20 kilotons makes them a nuclear power.  One kiloton makes them wannabes.
  The chattering classes have taken the North Korean claim of "miniaturized" to mean the bomb is small enough to put on their ballistic missile.  You can believe as much of that as you want to.   

Monday, February 11, 2013

Battlestar Galactica revival

The Sci-Fi channel ran a new feature length Battlestar Galactica last night.  I'm an old fan, I can remember watching the very first  episode on TV, with a bunch of techie friends from work, lo these many years ago. So I watched this one. 
   Note to all camera men.  Buy a tripod. Use it.  The camera bounced, jounced, jiggled and wavered thru out the two hours of the show.  The action scenes switched the camera from one viewpoint to another too fast for anyone to keep up with.  The color kept fading out to black and white or sepia.  I know some Hollywood wienies think this is artistic.  I think it means my color TV set is dying.   The space combat scenes were a moving blur of fuzzy space vessels and brilliant explosions.  You couldn't tell who was blowing up, good guys or bad guys. The space combat scenes would have been better if the space vessels had carried distinctive paint jobs, unit insignia, tail numbers, names, anything to tell one from another. This camera man was into dark and gloomy.  All the scenes were poorly lighted, many so dim I failed to recognize faces.  Too many backlit scenes where the cast appears as pure black silhouettes.
   The cast was mediocre.  Most of them mumbled so badly that I kept missing the punch lines.  We have young ensign Hotshot, fresh out of the Academy, full of piss & vinegar, joining his first combat unit.  Instead of jumping into the cockpit of a colonial Viper, he gets assigned to fly a trashhauler, a little cargo ship.  Said trashhauler comes equipped with a co-pilot with an attitude and a  short and curly beard, who has put in his paperwork to get out of the service when his hitch is up.  Mysterious and domineering woman is a passenger who later reveals secret orders to fly deep into Cylon space.
   The plot was predictable, up until the twist ending, involving appalling treachery.  Ensign Hotshot spends a good deal of time yelling at the co-pilot, who has objections to flying a suicide mission.  Good leadership technique they teach at that Academy.  Despite a steamy love scene, Ensign Hotshot never establishes a real relationship with mysterious brunette passenger.
  Too bad. I was up for some light entertainment of the action adventure sort.  This fairly expensive to make two hour show wasn't very entertaining.     

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Words of the Weasel, Panetta style

Panetta said, "You can't willy-nilly send F-16s there and blow the hell out of the place. ... You have to have good intelligence."
Panetta apparently has never heard the phrase "Show of Force".
A couple of fighters just orbiting low over the consulate would mightily discourage terrorists climbing the wall and give a real shot in the arm to the defenders. 
And this guy was our defense secretary ?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

We got it.  Snow.  We have 10-11 inches down and it's still falling.  Best skiing of the year. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Laws of War

Used to be, the armed forces were free to kill the enemy.  Enemy civilians at their homes were bombed, enemy soldiers on the battlefield were shot, bombarded, machine gunned, flamed, everything except poison gas was used to make 'em into casualties. 
   War was something that was done between nation states.  Now we have Al Quada, Hezbollah, Hamas, Taliban and other shady clandestine organizations.  They aren't nation states, they don't wear uniforms, they hide within the civilian population. They are terrorists.  They blew down the Twin Towers in NYC and killed 3000 American civilians.  That's an act of war.  And, we took them up on that, we make war right back on them. 
   Far as I can see, under the laws of war, we are entitled to kill, capture, interrogate or wound any terrorists we can lay our hand on.  Doing 'em by Predator drone is just a neater technique than dispatching a sniper to do 'em.  You can stay on base, safe and comfortable, keep your uniform clean, take the terrorist out.  Going in after 'em Arnold Schwarzenegger style is hard work, your hands get dirty, and it's hard to find enough hard case snipers to do the missions.
   Now we have some lawyers whining that this terrorist or that terrorist was a US citizen and we shouldn't whack citizens without a lawyer giving the OK.  Pretty soon the lawyers will be wanting the infantry men to ask for a legal opinion before they take a shot. 
   In my humble opinion, an Al Quada terrorist is an Al Quada terrorist and it make no matter if he was born in the US, he is still a terrorist, and deserves to be whacked.  And the lawyers can just dry up and blow away.

PSNH telephones me with storm warnings

Groovy.  I am settled in to watch it snow.  The phone rings.  It's a robocall from the power company, offering advice on coping with power outages.  I pay 20 cents a kilowatt hour for this?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cannon Mt Ski Weather

It's been cold enough to make snow these last few days.  The radio is promising a big storm tomorrow, like feet of snow.  If that comes thru, Cannon will be in great shape.

Update:.  It started snowing this morning and is still at it.  We have picked up 3-4 inches up here in the Notch.  We are getting more snow up here than they are down in the ville.  Driving ought to be OK this afternoon and early evening.  I drove down Three Mile Hill to the ville and got back up.  If I can do Three Mile Hill, then I-93 oughta be a piece of cake.  They are making snow tonight and conditions ought to be fabulous tomorrow.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Feeding pets

Article on the Journal about pet food branding.  Colgate Palmolive's dog food brand "Science Diet" is loosing market share.  Pet owners seem to think the stuff is synthetic laboratory made and not good enough for their dogs.  It quotes one new dog owner who buys a "Taste of the Wild" brand containing bison, venison and berries.  Sounds yummy.  Stupid Beast is never going to eat that well.
  Stupid Beast winds up eating the cheapest dry cat food on the shelf down at Mac's Market.  After all those stories about Chinese pet food killing pets, I worry about what might be in the stuff but I buy it anyways. Occasionally I switch between "Alley Cat" and "Shurfine" just to mix  things up.
  I buy a few cans of wet cat food now and then because Stupid Beast loves it so much. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lithium Ion Battery Week

We have a story about Jim Wurth, who runs Start Pac, a maker of batteries and battery powered engine jumper boxes.  Mr. Wurth says you have to go to lithium iron phosphate batteries to prevent fires.  Wurth worries that additional restrictions on shipping lithium ion batteries by air will wreck his jumper box business, since the boxes run on lithium batteries. He also opined that Boeing needs to provide fireproof battery boxes to contain the fires and vent smoke and flames overboard.
 Moving on to the 787,  we hear that Boeing isn't talking about replacing the lithium batteries with something less flammable.  Boeing  is hoping for a small and easy change to the battery itself will solve the problem.  Boeing spent some time explaining to customers that one of the batteries didn't really catch fire, it just got very hot.  The customers revealed that better than 100 lithium batteries have been replaced, on a fleet of less than 100 aircraft. 
  There is an article dated lined Washington concerning FAA and NTSB reactions.  NTSB does allow that batteries should not burst into flames.  Well Duh!.  FAA is muttering about redoing certification testing, something that could drag out for months.
  There is yet another story about how both Gulfstream and Cessna had considered using lithium batteries and decided not to.
   And finally is a story about putting lithium batteries into the International Space Station in 2017.  Boeing has a $208.8 million contract to supply a mere 27 batteries.  That's about $10 million per battery.  SpaceX will sell you a whole rocket booster rated for 10 tons cargo to orbit for $10 million.  
  Finally we have some opining by Elon Musk.  He claims that Boeing's batteries is all wrong, and he has a replacement from his Tesla electric hot rod that will solve the 787 problems.

All this in today's Aviation Week.   The Journal has a story on page B1, front page of the Marketplace section.  The Journal merely says that the "root cause" hasn't been found yet.    Sounds like pressure for a fix is growing. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Green Meanies cut a deal with Mexico

You remember the Florida Green Meanies.  Used to come four to the cellopak, hard as rocks and about as tasteless.  NAFTA opened up the border to much better Mexican tomatoes, bright red, vine ripened, tasting like tomatoes even in February.  Grocery shoppers know the difference and overwhelmngly support good tomatoes from Mexico.
   Florida tomato growers lobbied for a new "tomato deal" with Mexico.  In return for continued imports of Mexican tomatoes, the Mexican agreed to raise prices on Americans, to keep the Florida Green Meanies in business. 

E-books, Kindle not required

Lots and lots of stuff is now in the web as Ebooks.  All sorts of pulp fiction from the 1930's is out of copyright and up on the web for free.  I have been building up a collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs and EE Smith stuff.  The E-book format supports illustrations.  The Ebooks mostly come with the original dust jacket art, or the original magazine art.  If you are into old things, free ebooks are there, where as used book stores are gradually disappearing.  Google will find anything, just search on the title or author and "ebook.  Ebooks may be your chance to read that favorite childhood book that you haven't been able to find in stores anymore.
   You don't need to buy an e-reader (Kindle, Nook, or iPad or tablet) to enjoy the goldie oldies.  An ordinary desktop or laptop will play them just fine.  You can download a reader program free of charge.  In fact you have a choice of reader programs and there are on line reviews of them.  There are several e-book formats, of which the .epub format is very common.  You can find a reader program for any format. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Words of the Weasel, Leon Panetta

Panetta was on Meet the Press this morning.  He said the Iranians are not building a bomb, but they are "increasing their nuclear capability."   
   What's really happening is the Iranians are working on purifying fissionables to weapons grade but may not have not started fabrication of the subcritical masses, the implosion sphere, or the bomb casing.  Big deal. 
  But the first part of Panetta's statement "the Iranians are not building a bomb." is a clear falsehood. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fixing Childhood Obesity

Uncle Sam is going to ban soft drinks and greasy potato chips from school vending machines. Fruit cups and yogurt would replace mozzarella sticks and nachos in the lunchroom.   This is supposed to slim down chubby children.
   Where are these calorie plagued schools?
   My schools never had vending machines of any sort.  And I brought my lunch in a brown bag.  And for that matter, my children went to schools with no vending machines and I packed  brown bag lunches for them every day.
   Must be an inner city problem...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lithium Battery life

All Nippon Airlways reports having replaced ten lithium batteries in 787's BEFORE the current battery fire disaster. 
  Wow.  Ten batteries in brand new aircraft.  That's 10 battery failures in a fleet of 17 aircraft over a period of a little more than a year.  We never had that kind of battery failure rate in USAF.  A plain old car battery is expected to last 4 winters.  These lithium batteries didn't even make it thru a single winter.