Molecular dispersion beyond the integrity point

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

#LavaPorn - the best shots and videos of the volcanic eruption in Hawaii in May, 2018

I'm transfixed by shots of lava and the volcanic eruption that started in May, 2018. There are some awesome videos coming out, and as a service I'd like to capture and curate some of them here.
10 minute video of guys walking around and right up to the slow lava flows
Helicopter footage of fast moving lava
Similar to above, helicopter video

Live footage of a lava geyser
Good news article with some great photos and videos

Reuters photos

More Lavaporn. Turn the music off. It's just stupid. Also don't need to see the dumb grass-skirted bobble thing or rubber duck. We're in this for lavaporn, don'tcha know.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Six Minute Career, by Chris Mahar

The Six Minute Career, by Chris Mahar
00:00:00 Jack felt a lightness in his chest as he accepted the first job of his new career, received his password, and logged into his new company’s internal website.  The training and education for this job had been grueling and at times painful, like a hot knife in his brain.  But he’d demonstrated the right propensity, and stuck with it to become a design engineer specializing in plasma flow measurement.
00:00:05 The task list immediately appeared on his augmented reality headset, and began scrolling by.  Jack’s breath hitched and he put a shaky hand to his forehead over his AR visor. There was so much to do.
00:00:10 He took a deep breath, savoring this moment of starting a new career, then dove into the task list, prioritizing and sequencing based on the new knowledge in his head from the intense learning session he’d just completed. The new auto-teaching system imprinted directly onto the brain, overlaying a new career over any old ones that were already there.  The process was like a knife to the skull, but lasted only a minute, and at the end left you fully trained to begin a new career, albeit with a very narrow specialty. General training took longer, usually several minutes, but was only available to certain people who had a capacity for it.  Being a specialist and not a generalist, Jack’s training never took long, and when it ended he always felt puffed up and fidgety, ready to take on the new and unfamiliar job.
00:00:20 Other workers appeared in his peripheral vision, and he got a hint of the people he was working with on the project, redesigning a spacecraft plasma pump from an old class of freighters. It wasn’t the most glamorous job, but first jobs in any career rarely were.  
The command interface wouldn’t let him focus on the people around him, but it allowed him to be aware of their rough appearance, their roles in the job, and, vaguely, their gender and manner of dress.  They weren’t physically present in the workstation with him, of course.  They were augmented reality manifestations of real people all over the world who had been specially trained for this type of work, and hired for this job based on their specialty.  But being together virtually aided in the work because they could each see what the others were doing, which allowed brief but potent interactions that furthered the project.
00:01:00 Jack heard their voices around him asking and answering questions, giving data, acknowledging tasks on the list and adding more tasks as the job took form.  As he worked, adding his details to the job, designs appeared on his AR.  He manipulated them, added the bits he was responsible for, and checked what others had done that related to his work.  Slowly at first, but with gaining speed, he ticked tasks off his list.
00:02:14 Red warnings flashed on his AR, indicating he’d made an error that conflicted with someone else’s work.  Several men swore, and one woman giggle.  He instinctively turned to apologize and got a glimpse of a thin Asian woman with her arms crossed and face tightened.  Then the AR caught up with his motion and put his work front and center, the woman appearing only as a shadow to one side.  He corrected his mistake, rerouting tubing that interfered with her work while muttering an apology.  He heard sighs and chuckles from a few of the others.  He thought he heard one of them say, “Noob,” but wasn’t sure.  The AR normally only amplified and transmitted discussion that related to the job, so he may have mis-heard.
00:02:45 Red faced from embarrassment, Jack continued working. The design was taking shape, and he worked feverishly to keep up, making sure his small part of the work followed the design principles, fit harmoniously with the whole, and interfaced neatly with other systems on the overall job.  As it came together he felt his face relax, and some of the tension in his chest eased.  He learned of a new innovative ceramic alloy that popped up in a window on the corner of his view, and incorporated it into his design section, then noticed that several others had also included the new alloy in their sections.  It allowed the part to be even lighter and stronger than originally designed, and he sat a bit straighter in his chair, his eyes bright from the improvement to the design.
00:03:30 He noticed others leaning back from the job, reclining slightly in their chairs, and heard a bit more bluster in their comments and questions to each other.  Some even criticized the work of others, despite the final part exceeding goals and design specifications listed when the job had began.  He could see that they were looking around, but knew the AR interface wouldn’t let them look away from the job for more than a fraction of a second before it adjusted.  Careers were so short these days that there was not time to be wasted on socialization. Jack had heard about a time when people had only six or seven careers in their lifetime.  He had lost count of all the careers he’d had.  He had memories of dozens of careers, but knew that when the imprint overlayed onto your brain, some knowledge was pushed out or overwritten, and he was sure he’d had many more careers than he remembered.
00:04:40 Work on the project was slowing as the last few touches were placed on the design of the part.  Jack knew, from his flash training, that once the part was designed, it would be mass produced, likely for several days, until a newer model was needed. He took a moment to glance at a journal article his command interface had flagged as related to this project, and saw in the summary that plasma flow measurement technology had advanced since this job had started, and much of what he’d learned about it was now obsolete.  He considered taking a refresher course, but this project was so close to completion that he couldn't spare time away from it.  
00:05:25 Jack’s part of the work was essentially finished, but he couldn’t legally post for another job until he received notice he’d been released for this one, which seemed particularly unfair.  He twisted his hands together as he scanned journals with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.  Technology had moved so quickly while he worked that nearly everything he’d learned no longer applied.  A refresher course wouldn’t suffice. If he was going to stay with this speciality, he would have to get educated all over again.
00:05:35 Jack’s release slip appeared on his AR visor, an electronic  pink slip indicating that he would be released in 30 seconds with a reasonable bonus, and that this company had no further work for him.  No hope of another job here.  He gritted his teeth and thought that it was inconceivable that this company, the biggest spaceship design outfit in the solar system couldn’t find another job for him, especially after all the fine work he’d done on this job. He heard others in the virtual room groan as they got the same news.
00:05:39 Jack posted his resume on the job boards, hopeful that one of the smaller design firms might have work for an experienced and skilled plasma flow design engineer. The virtual room would evaporate in just a few seconds, and others were discussing what they might pick as their next career. The medical field seemed like a popular choice.
00:05:49 His gaze darted over the job specifications scrolling by, fingers twitching involuntarily, but no jobs offers appeared in his specialty.  His shoulders sank as he realized he would definitely have to learn a new career.
00:06:06 His arms fell to his side, lifeless, as he thought about his decision picking this career. One job. It had lasted one job. Again.  Why did this keep happening? The career counselor had been so sure that specializing  in plasma flow measurement would guarantee him jobs well into the future. Of course, he hadn’t paid extra for that councilor, taking whatever the school offered. And he knew that large corporations paid colleges to give advice and counseling that worked to their advantage. He clenched his fists in anger.  Didn’t the school have an obligation to their students?
00:06:19 Alright, he thought. He had allowed himself his moments of pity. Now he leaned forward in the chair, eyes brightening, and dialed up the college catalog, prioritizing careers based on the latest career counseling advice. It was time he picked a new career. This time he’d find one that got him more than one job before it became obsolete.  This would be his seventh career before lunch break, and he was determined to make it last into the afternoon.  He picked a promising career from the menu, and keyed up the neural interface, feeling that familiar hot knife in the brain sensation.  This time he would be a medical instrumentation designer specializing in wireless kidney implant monitoring.  His knowledge of plasma flow faded, and through the pain of imprint he felt a surge of pride in his new career.

Friday, October 23, 2015

How To Be The Ugly American - A Guide to Ridiculing Foreign Countries & Their Inhabitants for Fun and Self-Satisfaction

You should always be respectful of other people’s culture, even if they're primitive backwards cultures that includes things illegal in America since before our founding; even if the culture includes  socialism, a pathetic work ethic, earth-worshiping heathen religions, oppression of gays & women, atrocious fashion trends, insufficient indoor plumbing, absurd civil engineering, a complete lack of regard for any traffic laws, and an abysmally low regard for human life.  All cultures might not be equal, but we’re supposed to pretend that they're equal.

However, don’t let being respectful of these medieval cultures keep you from mocking them unmercifully.  Do you think Romans in ancient times didn’t respect the foreign cultures they conquered? Of course they did. That's why they conquered them.  Also there was the tribute, the slaves & the expanded territory, but always there was respect.  And mocking. Don't imagine that these two things are mutually exclusive.

Since American culture has already conquered pretty much every other culture on the planet, and they’re already paying us tribute by buying our technology, our weapons, our food, clothes, movies and pretty much everything else, we can afford to treat them with respect while simultaneously mocking them.

But HOW should we mock them, you ask?  For the benefit of all US travelers to foreign lands, I have written this guide.  These are just suggestions, and I welcome comments and additional ideas.  Also, I am not responsible if you get beat up.  However, with the proper application of sarcasm and snark, you can get away with most of these with only a few glances of disgust and ill will.
Try some. They're fun.
  • Ask for the price of everything in dollars. “I don’t care how much monopoly money it cost, what’s the price in REAL dollars?”
  • Similarly, any time a measurement is given in meters, centimeters, kilometers, etc, ask, "What does that translate to in real American units?"
  • Wear shorts everywhere.  And tube socks.
  • Lean close and ask, slowly and slightly louder than normal, “Do   You   Speak   American?” 
  • Complain about the tiny sinks, the itty-bity toilets, the narrow stalls and the generally primitive plumbing. “Doesn’t anyone around here know about the wide stance? Or is that just an American thing?”
  • Ridicule soccer.  Refuse to call it 'football'.  Instead, refer to it as 'that pansy kickball game'.  Ridicule Cricket even worse. 
  • When viewing some ancient building or structure, say "They should really clean this place up.  If they picked up all these broken columns and stacked up all that stuff that's been knocked over it would look a lot better."  Also, "This place sure could use a coat of paint."
  • Ask where you can get a real American meal.
  • In your suitcases, pack more clothes than they even own in their backwards, mudpit country.  This works best if they have to carry your luggage for you.
  • Ask if they still have a king, or an emperor, or whatever strange form of government they have.  No matter what the answer, act surprised.  “You still have a queen here? That’s weird.”
  • Ask, “Is it safe to drink the water in this country?”
  • Scrunch up your nose in disapproval and ask, “Are you Italian?”  Always pick a country other than the one you’re in.
  • When viewing priceless ancient artifacts, say, "That would look so great hanging on the wall of my rec room."  If it's ancient pottery or golden pitchers, goblets or bowls, say, "Man, that would make an excellent salsa dish." 
  • Ask, “What language do you’all speak in this country?”
  • Remember: ONLY America is America. Just b/c a country is on a continent named North America, or Central America, or South America doesn't mean it's America. 
  • Don’t adapt to their cultures. After all, they all want to come to America, so make them adapt to you.
  • Order hamburgers whenever you want, and in any sort of restaurant you happen to be in. It’s not like they don’t know what a hamburger is, and they can make one for you. When it comes, eat it with your hands like it was meant to be eaten, & not with a fork and knife.
  • Ask for a hot dog whenever and wherever you happen to be.
  • If you’re in Mexico and have a street taco, loudly compare it to tacos at Taco Bell & say “Taco Bell does it better.”  Same thing for Chinese food in China, “Panda Express food is way better than this.”  Same thing in Italy with pizza; “Heck, we have better pizza than this at Costco!”  By the way, it's true.
  • When ordering a beer in Germany, ask for Bud Light.  If they say they don’t have it, ask what American beers they DO have?
  • When in England eating French fries (they call them chips, but you don't have to), & they try to give you vinegar, demand ketchup. When in France, ask for Ranch dressing.  When in Belgium, ask for Hershey's chocolate.
  • If you meet a Canadians, say, “Oh, well you're practically the same as real Americans” because they love that.
  • Whine about all the people smoking.
  • Mock their drinking sodas without ice.  “What? They don’t have ice machines in this primitive country?”
  • Wear a baseball hat all the time.  Who cares if the rest of the world doesn’t have baseball.  They should.
  • Eat only at McDonalds, Starbucks or any good solid American chain.
  • Complain about the foreign languages. “It’s like they have a different word for EVERYTHING. If they want to be understood, why don’t they just speak American?”
  • Ask for translation for words that don’t translate.  “How do you say ‘Coca-Cola’ in French?”
  • If they ask you where you’re from, stick your chest out and say, “I’m from the United States.”  Of course they already know that. You're an American, so you stick out like a sore thumb. But say it anyway, just to rub it in.
  • Frequently remind all Europeans that the US bailed them out in two world wars.

Remember, they may hate us, but they love our money, and most of them would move to our country, legally or illegally, if they could. Heck, it seems like half of them are already here, either collecting welfare, or standing out front of Home Depot waiting for a day job. Or both.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cheapskate Astronomer Builds A Sky-Tracker from a 24 Hour Timer

A couple years ago I saw the IOptron Skytracker.  Choked on the price.  $400? Really?

OK, it's DC. It will work anywhere. That's cool.  It's got a lot of torque, and an angle-adjuster built right on to it.  Nice.

But $400?  Dang.

Being the Cheapskate Astronomer, it occurred to me that a 24 hour timer went around once each day. That should work, as long as it rotates in the right direction.

I got mine at Home Depot during Christmas time when they had it in the Christmas decoration section.  It was just under $5.

Now you have to plug these things in, so it won't work out away from electrical power.  That is the big downside of this plan.

Also at Home Depot, I find that a 1 1/4 inch PVC union fits right on the part that turns.  It is important to note that the quarter-size part in the center does not rotate.  Only the outer ring with all those gray thingys you pull up or push down turns.

So here's what I buy.

That's a 1 1/4 inch union, a same size cap, a 3/4 inch 1/4-20 hex head bolt, zinc coated, a couple of nuts and fender washers.  I ended up using only one of the fender washers and one of the nuts.

Drilled a hole in the center of the cap.

Installed the bolt, washer and nut.
Now, tricky part. Glue the PVC union on to the dial of the timer. Work slowly and carefully, getting it centered, but don't let ANY GLUE get on the part between the dial and the part that doesn't turn.  I used superglue.
And here's how it looks glued up.
To mount the thing to a tripod, I simply glued a piece of wood to the back, then used a clamp to clamp that to the head of a cheap $20 tripod.  The tripod head has pan and tilt on it, so I lined the pipe union up with the North Star.

Then get your camera all ready, and mounted on the cap on the 1/4-20 bolt. Looks like this:
Without a multi-angle mount (ball-joint) I can't aim the camera anywhere but at the celestial equator.

Also, the piece of wood I glued on to the back of the thing interfered with the extension cord, so I had to trim it with a Dremel tool to allow the extension cord plug to plug all the way into the back of the timer.

But it worked.  It bore the weight of this small camera, and rotated, keeping aimed at one part of the sky the whole time.

With a ball-joint mount, I'll be able to point the camera anywhere in the sky.

And with that Canon Powershot camera and CHDK, I can take up to 15 second exposures and a script for intervelometer features, and take long exposure images of one part of the sky all night long, or at least until the batteries in the camera are drained.  Use rechargeable Li-ion batteries and you get a couple hundred images at least.

Total cost is less than $10 for the sky-tracker.
I'm not the first to try this. Here's one

and here's another:

Monday, April 7, 2014

DIY Telescope Pier, Failures & Success

How NOT to build a telescope pier using concrete

How TO mount your telescope pier to the earth

How to build a telescope pier using a welding gas bottle and two brake rotors

Friday, April 4, 2014

Unboxing and Assembling the Grizzly Soprano Ukulele kit

I ordered Grizzly Ukulele kit model H3125 from Amazon for $36.
It came in just a few days.

Box was smaller than I thought it would be.

Right off the bat I was impressed by the depth of the lines in the wood of the body.

All the parts were there. I didn’t like the tuners, so I bought machine tuners on Amazon for $5, black with gold plating.
Also, I bought a set of Aguila strings. Don’t recall the costs of those, but they’re available on Amazon all the time.
You don’t really have to do this, but I put the neck and body in the sun for about 2 weeks to deepen the grain and the contrast in the wood. The UV in the sunlight gives the wood a suntan look, and makes the darks darker.

I decided right away I wasn’t going to use the rosette sticker around the sound hole.
Fit of the neck joint wasn’t anywhere near as good as I would have liked, so I did some sanding and fitting.

Looking inside the body, there is some excess glue.  It looks like hot glue, or perhaps urethane glue.

Nice blocking.
Gap in this lining.

Neck joint before sanding:

The manual is really very good. Follow it and you can’t go too far wrong.

Once the neck joint was flush and the surfaces mated up, I glued up the neck joint. Rubber bands for clamping.

Next step is to glue on the fingerboard.  Again, rubber bands, & add pencils.

This is the glue I used.

Here it is, glued up and ready to start sanding.

Now I skip a few steps in the photos. I sanded the body, and beveled the fingerboard sides, smooth sanded the neck, then finish sanded everything except the fingerboard surface.
Then I masked the fingerboard and the spot where the bridge would be glued onto the top of the body, and started laying on coats of shellac.
I applied a few thick coats, then sanded most of it off to try to fill the pores. Then I layed on a few coats thinned with acetone. Finally I rubbed on about a dozen coats with a cotton wad, getting the solution thinner and thinner each time with acetone thinner.
Then I carefully measured, as the instructions said, and glued on the bridge.  The tuners went in pretty easy, but I had to clear out the holes, as some shellac got in there.
Here it is mostly strung up.

I had some trouble with one string. The bridge was too skinny, and that string popped out on me.  I filed the slot a bit to make it wider, and now don’t have any problems with it.
The place where the bridge glues on you don’t put any coating or shellac on. You don’t have to use shellac. I choose to, but urethane would have been fine, or just about any finish.
I did not feel any need to adjust bridge height. It plays easily with the bridge and saddle as it came.

You can hear the results in a four ukulele side-by-side play-off my daughter Pearl made and put on Youtube at

Mine is the homemade uke. It has a pleasant but quiet and soft sound, not bright or sharp.
Keep in mind it’s also a $36 instrument. Honestly, I had $100 worth of fun putting it together, and got a wonderful little instrument to play at the end.
I heartily recommend the Grizzly kit, and am building another with my son.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Things Leftists Believe Conservatives Are Against

Here's a list of things that leftists believe about conservatives:

We're against entitlements.
We're against the minimum wage.
We're against the teaching of evolution as a fact in schools.
We're against the Headstart program.
We're against cutting carbon to stop global warming.
We're against education.
We're against science.
We're against children eating.
We're against gays.
We're against equal pay for women.
We're against veteran's care.
We're against the United Nations.
We're against the separation of church and state.
We're against everyone having medical care.
We're against voter's rights.
We're against people marrying who they love.
We're against food that's free from genetic modification.
We're against a woman's right to choose whether to keep or abort her baby.
We're against civil rights.

Some of these things we actually are against, some not.  Mostly we just don't want to pay for your oft'failed socialist ideas.  

They're your stupid, bleeding-heart programs.  If you can get them into law, then it's up to you to make them work.  Without our money or our consent.