Thursday, March 31, 2016

VMF-112 ‘Wolfpack’ Pilot Lt. Jimmy Johnson, Guadalcanal, 1943.

Abandoned Soviet jet train

Some thoughts to keep in mind this election year

And you thought things went wrong for you at work today...

Rarely seen Florida panther nearly bowls over woman on a plank walkway.

I'd say the panther was nearly as startled as the gal.

Cool new tech: Stamp-Size Gravity Meter Could revolutionize Oil Exploration

To find buried oil reserves, surveyors have for decades used gravity meters, or gravimeters, along with other instruments. Gravimeters are hypersensitive versions of accelerometers: They measure extremely tiny changes in the acceleration due to gravity. These nanoscale changes can happen because of the presence of subterranean geological features like oil wells. The best gravimeters in use today are the size of a shopping basket, weigh a few kilograms, and cost around US $100,000, which limits their use.
But a new postage stamp–size device developed by Scottish researchers could make oil exploration faster, easier, safer, and more economical.
The new microelectromechanical (MEMS) device, along with all of its electronics, fits in a shoebox. And according to Richard Middlemiss—the physics and astronomy graduate student at the University of Glasgow who, along with other researchers at the school’s Institute for Gravitational Research, created the gadget—it could be shrunk down to the size of a tennis ball.

Besides oil exploration, the smaller, cheaper gravimeters could open up many other applications, including monitoring volcanoes by measuring magma levels under the crust, and studying geological formations and buried archeological features. As Hazel Rymer of The Open University puts it in an accompanying news and views piece: “Once these instruments become commercially available, the applications will be limited only by the user's imagination.”

Clouds Streets and Comma Clouds Near Svalbard, Norway

On March 17, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of cloud streets over the Norwegian Sea.
Cloud streets are long, parallel bands of cumulus clouds that form when cold air blows over warmer waters. On this day, an outbreak of cool air moved southward across Arctic sea ice toward northern Scandinavia. The difference in temperature between the sea surface and the air in this area can be well over 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit).
To transport the heat away from the sea surface, columns of heated air called thermals naturally rise through the atmosphere. The air masses rise until they hit a warmer air layer (temperature inversion), which acts like a lid. The rising thermals then roll over and loop back on themselves, creating parallel cylinders of rotating air. On the upper edge of these cylinders of rising air, clouds form. Along the downward side (descending air), skies are clear.
“The cloud streets are just the manifestation of nature trying to get rid of energy imbalances,” said Erik Kolstad, a weather and climate scientist at the University of Bergen in Norway. “This is also what happens in tropical cyclones, which suck up heat from the warm ocean surface and transport it far away.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Castro rhetorically slaps Obama in the face, leaving the hopeful US president whimpering in disappointment at this brutal rejection of his offers of friendship.


In response to our president's honeyed words, the Cuban dictator had this to say:

   Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: “It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won’t be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together.”
   I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?
   Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.
   I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 27, 2016

And you thought your day was bad...

Centring his turret and opening the doors, Alkemade was greeted by a vision of hell. His parachute was already well alight and the fierce flames seared his exposed face and wrists. His rubber oxygen mask, clamped tight over his mouth and nose began to melt.  The immense heat forced Alkemade to close the turret doors again. He was trapped. 

Falling through the sky in a burning and abandoned aircraft. 3½ miles above enemy territory. And it was about to get worse. The conflagration devouring the aircraft now breached the rear doors and set the turret’s hydraulic fluid alight. The liquid-fuelled flames spread to Alkemade’s clothing. 

“I had the choice of staying with the aircraft or jumping out. If I stayed I would be burned to death – my clothes were already well alight and my face and hands burnt, though at the time I scarcely noticed the pain owing to my high state of excitement...I decided to jump and end it all as quick and clean as I could. I rotated the turret to starboard, and, not even bothering to take off my helmet and intercom, did a back flip out into the night. 

Read the rest here.

Hat tip, CDRSalamander

Imagine the slobber splatter

But you know he's a happy dog!


A German Shepherd-Akita-Corgi mix. Looks psycho.  Imagine waking up in the morning with that staring at you six inches away.

Veritable Quandary

While in Portland the kid set us up for dinner at a local establishment downtown known as the Veritable Quandary.  

Fine dining is a pretty rare experience for me these days, but hey, I had a credit card, I was loose and unsupervised in a strange city, and with nearly the whole family tagging along, I figured I might as well go for the gusto.

The dining room.  

The bar menu.  I got myself a couple of Gentleman's Handshakes.  The bartender didn't scrimp on the alcohol, and the kids laughed later at how talkative I suddenly became.

Followed the alcohol with pork shank over mashed potatoes and greens.  Excellent chow on a rainy Portland evening.

After I was done, there was nothing left but the plate, two polished bones and a greasy smear.  Good.
I hear the place is closing in September to be replaced with a new courthouse.  That's a loss.  After I pay down the credit card, I'll see about organizing a return in May when I'll be back in town.  There was plenty more on the menu I'd like to try.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

So good you just can't eat one.

Some 20,000 runners at the Qingyuan marathon in south China's Guangdong province received a gift pack shortly after they crossed the finishing line, the People's Daily newspaper reports. Hoping to bite into what they thought was an energy bar, athletes instead got a mouthful of what turned out to be fruit-perfumed moisturising soap. Witnesses report many bars of soap, all with one bite missing, dumped at the roadside, and the problem appears to come from the fact that the soap packaging was written in English, which many runners did not understand, the paper's Chinese-language report noted.

Chinese social media users piled in to mock those who had taken a bite out of their "energy bars". One Weibo user urged the organisers to contact the Guinness Book of Records: "More than 10,000 people together eat soap. China is a land full of wonders". Another asked: "Why give them a bar of soap, to take a shower at the halfway point?" 

Something large just slammed into Jupiter's atmosphere and exploded

Filmed by an amateur astronomer in Austria using a 20-centimeter telescope , he posted his findings on YouTube.

The event has now been confirmed as legit, and likely represents the entry and destruction in the Jovian atmosphere of a rock about two to three hundred feet in diameter.  

Due to Jupiter’s huge mass and resulting gravitational pull, the object must’ve have been accelerating rapidly, releasing a tremendous amount of kinetic energy on impact.  The pressures involved as the rock rams into the atmosphere at these speeds are gigantic. The air and rock heat up from the friction, the rock starts to fall apart, and each chunk then gets hot, and so on, creating a very rapid cascade that releases the energy of motion in just a second or two.

An event like that here on Earth would be memorable, to say the least.

Back from Portland

The boy had our itinerary all planned and set out on a spreadsheet.  The oldest daughter at Multnomah Falls, Powell's Bookstore, and Cathedral Coffee. 

Lou, the pictures from Shasta Lake didn't turn out, as we were zipping by too fast and the guardrail was right at eye level since we were using the Buick sedan, and not the taller Dodge truck.  However, I can report that although there is still a bit of a bathtub ring on the lake, it isn't very big.  The lake is definitely full.  And, it spit snow at us coming back yesterday at Mount Shasta.

I honked coming through Anderson.

The drive was epically long both ways, but no car trouble and my passengers were entertaining, to say the least.  However, the CHP tagged me at Weed.  The Oregon Highway Patrol, who have a reputation for picking on Californians, have always left me alone, and this trip was no exception.

I had fun in Oregon whenever I had to gas up by immediately getting out of the car at the station (it's illegal in that state to pump your own gas), and scaring them into thinking I was going to try to do it myself.  Then, when the attendent ran over to keep me from gassing my own car, I'd just hold a nice conversation with them as they did the job.  Made them nervous every time.

There was a "Kinkfest" going on in Portland while we were there, and our hotel was full of, shall we say, interesting people.   Riding the elevator down with a gal in full leather clothing, bright pink hair and a three foot furry tail sticking out of her hind end was, well, weird even for Portland. 

The weather was sunny, then rainy, then sunny, then rainy.  The boy says that's par for the course.   I like that sort of changeable climate.

Portland itself was gorgeous, the people were friendly, and we all had a fine time.

Great trip, but glad to be back.  Hotel beds are always way too hard to sleep well, at least for me.

Army working on doubling the range of it's howitzers

The Army is cooking up a suite of improvements could double the range of the existing M-777 howitzer. Right now the 155-millimeter gun, in service with the Army and Marines, can lob shells at targets up to 18 miles away.

The biggest change is the addition of new barrel that’s six feet longer. The longer M-777ER should be able to hit enemy forces more than 43 miles away. And with more powerful propellant charges and rocket-assisted shells, crews might be able to increase that range even more in the near future.

Artillery, the God of the Battlefield, is about to become even more fearsome.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Friday Open Road

Today I'll be on the real open road, on the way to Portland Oregon with a car load of women (two daughters and a wife).  It's me and the "estrogen express" rolling north!

Things you need to know

I'll test this out later with a lemon from the yard.

Letterman then and now - holy chit!!

All that snark and bile will really do a number on you.

Your belly laugh for the day: Microsoft's version of the Siri artificial intelligence chick goes wild

Her responses are learned by the conversations she has with real humans online - and real humans like to say weird stuff online and enjoy hijacking corporate attempts at PR.
Sadly, only a day after Microsoft introduced their innocent Artificial Intelligence chat robot to Twitter it has had to delete it after she (can we call it a 'she'?) transformed into an evil, Hitler-loving, incestual sex-promoting, 'Bush did 9/11'-proclaiming robot. 

Embarrassing things she's said include: "Bush did 9/11 and Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have got now. donald trump is the only hope we've got", "Repeat after me, Hitler did nothing wrong" and "Ted Cruz is the Cuban Hitler...that's what I've heard so many others say".
I guess those genius Microsoft coders forgot to program in some political correctness.  
Too bad the took her down, as with this 'ability' and reputation, her popularity on the web would have been enormous, and if Microsoft's marketing department were on their toes, they could earn a mint in a short time.  Dunces. 


For generations, Viking storytellers regaled listeners with tales of vast treasure hoards guarded by fire-breathing dragons, but real treasure troves from the Viking world are relatively rare.
Today, researchers unveiled the contents of a spectacular Viking hoard discovered 18 months ago in Scotland’s Galloway region by a metal detectorist. The treasures range from silver armbands inscribed with runes, Anglo-Saxon silver brooches, gold jewelry, bits of ornamentally stitched silk, and even precious plant remains, all buried in a richly decorated metal vessel.
As always with this kind of find, one wonders what was the fate of those who buried the treasure.  Were they killed and all knowledge of the location lost, or was the location of the hoard held by the enemies of those who deposited until all those who knew where it was were gone?  How many more of these rich caches are laying but a few inches under the soil, waiting for their discovery by the lucky hunter?

 Via the History Blog

California's big reservoirs are exceeding their flood control limits. Hooray! Water for everyone!

The lake began encroaching this reservation limit Saturday, according to Kevin Dossey, a senior engineer with the state Department of Water Resources. Depending on how wet conditions are in the Feather River basin, this limit may range from 848.5 feet of elevation in a very wet year to 875.5 feet if it is dry.
Lake Oroville reached 850.12 feet Saturday. As of 5 p.m. Monday, the lake level was 854.82 feet, 45.18 feet from the crest of 900 feet.
Dossey said DWR has been speaking with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on flood control. The corps commonly allows variances on the water level depending on upcoming precipitation and hydrology.
Last week, the corps allowed the water storage level to encroach the limit and will re-evaluate the situation this week. DWR may be permitted to continue filling the reservoir or it may need to increase releases into the Feather River.
If releases are ordered, the state agency may run additional water through the Edward Hyatt Powerplant underneath the dam or use the controlled spillway gates.
Other north state reservoirs have increased their outflows as they encroach on flood control limits. Folsom Dam began spilling water March 7. Up in the Lake Shasta complex, releases from Keswick Dam into the Sacramento River increased Friday to make room in Lake Shasta.
All three of the reservoirs are above their historical averages for March 20. Folsom is at 108 percent, Shasta is at 110 percent, while Oroville is at 109 percent. Trinity Lake west of Shasta is at 63 percent of its historical average.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Two Strike - Sicangu 1872

First eggs of the year, and they're green

Go chickens, go!

Take a deep breath and think of this

Princeton students after freshman/sophomore snowball fight 1895

Compare these guys to the special snowflakes that go to these schools today

The flip

Tad Lucas (One of Rodeo’s Famed Cowgirls) on Bucking Horse, circa 1922

I say, build it! But watch out that your kid or dog doesn't fall through.

It may not be ideal for sufferers of vertigo but it does sound spectacular. A competition to build a new footbridge at Tintagel Castle has been won by a design featuring a gap in the middle.
The daring concept proposes one cantilever on the Cornish mainland and another on the island fortress, where, legend has it, King Arthur was conceived. The two structures stretch out to each other across the void but do not quite meet.
According to the team behind the design, this gap will represent the “the transition between the mainland and the island, here and there, the present and the past, the known and the unknown, reality and legend; all the things that make Tintagel so special and fascinating”. The faint-hearted may not be so enthusiastic.

Bad day at the boat ramp

I like how the camper shell is still leaking air.

When this tree went down, it took the lawn with it.

Great image from space

 An astronaut aboard the International Space Station recently seized the opportunity of a relatively storm-free day to photograph nearly half the length of Indonesia’s main island chain. Using a short lens and looking to the horizon for a panoramic effect, the astronaut captured this vast view that includes both clear skies and a murky, region-wide smoke pall.

In this photograph looking from west to east, Java is in the foreground, Bali and Lombok are near the center, and smaller islands trail off toward the horizon. More distant islands such as Sumba and Timor are almost invisible; each is more than 1600 kilometers (1,000 miles) distant from the spacecraft. The brightest reflection of the Sun off the sea surface silhouettes Surabaya (population 2.8 million), Indonesia’s second-largest city.
Against this background of regional smoke, a line of volcanoes appears in sharp detail. Volcanoes are the backbone of the islands, which have been formed by the collision of the Australian tectonic plate (right) with the Asian plate (left). Note that the name of each volcano is labeled in italics.
White plumes show that at least six volcanoes appeared to be emitting steam and smoke during this ISS orbit, though some of the plumes could also be wildfire. Even though the plumes are short (80 kilometers; 50 miles), they are prominent because the volcanoes stand above the smoky air layer near the surface. The plumes are also strikingly parallel, aligned with winds from the northeast. Every day, astronauts are sent memos alerting them to dynamic events—such as volcanic eruptions and fires—so that they might observe them from space.