Friday, August 31, 2012

Three Days of Issac

Pretty much had to stay inside the whole time, but it was OK.  No damage, only a few limbs down in the yard.  Overall, pretty uneventful.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Drive it like a lunatic (which I strongly advocate), and it drinks gas like you'd expect.  Acceleration never comes for free.  It can't.  To first order acceleration is proportional to power, which is – again to first order – proportional to fuel burn rate.  But once this object is up to speed, it's just a matter of keeping up with friction, the mechanical and aerodynamic losses inherent in anything barreling down the road.  Minimizing those losses is where engineering comes in.  And some very good engineering goes into modern cars.
On this weekend's run over to Florida, it averaged 30.4mpg on I-10.  On an empty stretch of 55mph road where I was keeping things dialed back to a mere 65mph, this jumped to 34mph.  Playing around on backroads closer to home it's getting more like 15mpg, but that's just for having fun.
BTW, some guys from Ford were able to pull off 48.5mpg.  That was on a closed track and they weren't having to deal with RVs clogging traffic.
For all of that, it still has punch.  Just... not in overdrive.  Downshift and take the tach up above 3k, and it has way more snap than its early 70's counterpart.  (Believe me, I've wrung out both.  Though my brothers never saw that.)  Of course, then it's drinking gas like it's 28 cents a gallon all over again, as physics dictates that it must.  No free lunches.
The bottom line is that cars like this give options.  Cruise for cheap, or accelerate out of some idiot's way for the price of a tad more fuel.  (Cheaper than a new fender.)  Or just accelerate for the hell of it.  Which I strongly advocate.
I do love this 21st century engineering.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hurricane Forecast Sites

Possibly unpleasant, but important:

Weather Underground

National Hurricane Center

(Widely spaced links for tablet touchscreen use.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Roving rover roves.

Curiosity takes a spin on Mars, completes short test drive.  This is even better than the last post.
Just go read.  While listening to Rovers by MOAM?

Yeah, I get what he's talking about.

Imagine what that guy could do reviewing Timber Beast.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oak Mountain rocks.

And you can see why/them here.  About seven minutes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Word for this evening: Actinic

ac.tin.ic [adj]:
(of light or lighting) able to cause photochemical reactions, as in photography, through having significant short wavelength or ultraviolet component.
- relating to or caused by such light: actinic degradation
Example: "As I reached for the back door key to head out for an evening run, an actinic lightning flash from the direction of the beach made me reconsider."

Bummer.  And I was so stoked to run.

Let it always be known that I did my part in this.

Which professions drink the most coffee?  Scientists of course.
But you probably already knew that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I ride my bicycle, 1 = 1, and that is that.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend who I've ridden bikes with for 15+ years but who has been recently busy with family matters emailed and asked how the training was going.  It was a friendly question, he basically meant "how's the riding going?" in his usual style, but it made me ponder just why the hell I'm always riding, even through mid-August in the heat and bugs at the Gulf coast end of the MS-LA border.  I'm certainly not training for anything particular.  Which made me think of this story:
A Zen proverb about bicycling:

A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles.  When they arrived at the monastery and dismounted their bicycles, the teacher asked the students, "Why are you riding your bicycles?"

The first student said, "It is the bicycle that is carrying the sack of potatoes.  I am glad that my back has escaped the pain of bearing the weight"

The teacher was glad and said, "You are a smart boy.  When you become old you will be saved of a hunch back unlike me."

The second student had a different answer.  “I love to have my eyes over the trees and the sprawling fields as I go riding," he said.  The teacher commented, "You have your eyes open and you see the world."

The third student came up with yet a different answer and said, "When I ride I am content to chant 'nam myoho renge kyo.'"

The teacher spoke these words of appreciation, "Your mind will roll with ease like a newly trued wheel."

The fourth student said, "Riding my bicycle I live in perfect harmony of things."  The pleased teacher said, "You are actually riding the golden path of non-harming or non-violence."

The fifth student said, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle."

The teacher walked up to him and sat at his feet and said, "I am your disciple!"
I have no idea where it came from, it's been floating around for at least 15 years.  I first came across it in Zap Espinoza's column in the semi-late Mountain Bike magazine.  (Semi-late?  It's been folded in as part of Bicycling magazine.)  The above version was shamelessly cut and pasted from this site.
Anyway, that last student's answer as good a reason as any to ride, and probably the closest to why I do.  Why do you ride?

Monday, August 13, 2012

I remember those days.

But it was in a print shop, in summer, and we didn't know about no steenkin' masks.  From over at Emphatic Yes Art Student Owl:
Well, it beat the job of melting used Linotype slugs.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is done.

"Nasa engineers say they are thrilled at just how well the Curiosity rover landing system worked when it touched down on Mars."  Story over at the BBC.
Figure shows the expected error ellipses for several other Mars landers, along with actual positions within their ellipses:
The landing sites are, of course, actually spread out over Mars, not all in Gale Crater as depicted in the above error ellipse diagram.  The lower figure shows their actual positions:

Friday, August 10, 2012

What If?

A new Tuesdays-only sorta-comic from Randall Munroe of xkcd fame.
"Answering your hypothetical questions with physics, every Tuesday."

How did I miss this until six weeks in?  So far, there have been questions and answers regarding:
Relativistic Baseball
SAT Guessing
A Mole of Moles
Robot Apocalypse
Glass Half Empty

One more reason to love Tuesdays.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Well, they're trying. It'll probably even work for Yahoo

Remember yesterday's post on bad software?  In a related note, it looks like Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to fix things in her new job by encouraging good software, as described in this article at the WSJ.  Best wishes!

No, really, it's true.

This is about how it happens.
Or at least in that general ballpark.  From over at SMBC.


Of the Curiosity rover, that is.
No, not of me.  You know I can't draw.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bad Software

Described in a good article at The Atlantic.
But how to solve the problem?  Easy to state, hard to get a company to do it though.  From the article:
There are solutions to these problems, but they are neither easy nor cheap. You need to start with very good, very motivated developers. You need to have development processes that are oriented toward quality, not some arbitrary measure of output. You need to have a culture where people can review each other's work often and honestly. You need to have comprehensive testing processes -- with a large dose of automation -- to make sure that the thousands of pieces of code that make up a complex application are all working properly, all the time, on all the hardware you need to support. You need to have management that understands that it's better to ship a good product late than to ship a bad product on time. Few software companies do this well, and even fewer of the large companies that write much of their software.
Really, that's all there is to it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Photo Op Extraordinare

How often to you get to see an actual taken-live-non-simulated photo of a probe landing on another planet?
Courtesy (of course) of NASA.
How freekin' cool is that?!?  There are days when this 21st century stuff actually seems to be working right.

I'll be sure to use that.

From xkcd.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Trails are closed.  Weather's so-so.  Gotta-do-it work is done.  Time to go ride the seawall on the cyclocross bike.  In the meantime, all I can post is a recycled funny.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Electoral Vote Maps & Analysis

Two sites.  First one's pretty basic:
Second one has more analysis:

But are they any good?  Will revisit in November.