Wednesday, July 07, 2010

3017 Progress

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

...electricity is a myth. Everything actually runs off smoke.
We know this because once you let the smoke out of something,
it doesn't work any more.

-- "SteveM", in a comment in http://scienceblogs.
com/pharyngula/2010/07/frickin_electricity_how_does_i.php --


I love the above quote!


Why do so any people have "We're in the Money" as their ringtone?


We all like fireflies/lightning bugs. All that sparkling is love letters, males flying in the open trying to find females, who are lurking among shrubs and tree leaves, blinking to let the males know where they are.

It's not all poetry and flowers. It turns out there's a sinister aspect, too.

If a female is unfertilized, she will be receptive to a male of her species. However, if she has already mated, something strange happens. She turns into a cannibal, and lures males so she can eat them, to make her eggs. She'll even change her blink pattern to that of another species to widen the buffet.

Story here:


The paving blocks for the flower bed were delivered today by a huge truck with a crane on the back. Fascinating. Then the Hunk came over and started laying them. It's going to look nice.


One of the three baby birdies on the porch light fell out of the nest this afternoon. They've been perching on the edge of the nest to try to get a little air, I guess, and he fell off. I tied a strawberry basket with some cedar shavings in it to the bottom of the light and put him in it so his parents could find him but the neighborhood cats couldn't. Now he's perched on the edge of the strawberry basket. I'm worried about him falling again.


Vic didn't show up to work on the van this evening, probably because it was close to 100 degrees and humid. He didn't call, either.

I have a Mensa dinner tomorrow evening. If he comes, and I'm off to dinner again, well, I may have to bring him a doggy bag as proof. Otherwise it will look like I'm avoiding him.

3016 Garages

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."
-- Eric Hoffer --


More stuff I don't understand. All the experts on car care tell you that you should keep your car in a garage, not sitting in the driveway. Why? The usual answer is to prevent fading of the paint by the sun, or other heat and weather damage.

I don't understand this.

Most people drive their cars to work, where it sits in a parking lot all day, in the heat, sun, wind-driven dust, rain, snow, hail. Then they drive home and it sits safely in the garage, at night, in the dark? And we garage it to prevent fading? Seems like a good coat of wax would protect it as well as a garage at night.

Some insurance companies will give you a discount for garaging, but that's understandable because it might lessen vandalism opportunities.

It's kind of like the recommendation to store furs and leathers over the summer in refrigerated storage buildings. "They" say that heat and dry air are bad for fur and leather. So, in the summer, they want you to take your furs out of your cool, air conditioned but still relatively humid home, and pay someone (them) to hold them for you, then in the winter you bring them back into your static-shock-dry heated house.

That makes no sense. Maybe a hundred years ago it did, but not now.


While I was sitting outside waiting for the rental car at BMW yesterday, a guy pulled in with his car. His sunroof had exploded. He insisted to the service intake manager that although he had been driving when it blew, nothing had hit it. As evidence that it exploded out, not in, you could see that the glass remaining in the frame was bent upward (which those two seemed to put great importance on, but it seemed to me that could have been a consequence of the 55 mph drive to the shop), there was no glass in the car, and the roof and trunk lid had scratches from glass blowing over.

The manager said she'd never seen that before. The man said there were many stories on the internet of it happening to others, some even while the car was sitting alone in the garage. The manager had difficulty believing that it hadn't been hit. She wondered if it might have been the heat causing a pressure buildup.

I didn't say anything. It wasn't my place. But I did notice that no one said anything about whether the sunroof had been open or closed when it blew. That seemed important to me as to whether pressure would have contributed, and which way the glass would have gone even if it had been hit by something. Also, tempered glass has a weakness. When glass is tempered, the process forms an altered layer on both outer sides, "bonded" to the ordinary glass on the inside. If the outside layer is scratched or nicked, even invisibly, if the scratch goes through the tempered layer to the ordinary layer inside, it will create a weakened area that's pulled upon by the tempered layer on the other side of the pane - the tension between the layers is disturbed - and the slightest bump can cause it to shatter.

Not that any of that will have any effect on whether BMW will accept responsibility under the guy's warranty. Even if it did blow spontaneously, it could be argued that it would have been due to a (microscopic dust) scratch or pit, and therefore should be covered by his insurance, not the warranty.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

3015 The final straw

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit;
Genius hits a target no one else can see."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer --


"Night Line", a show I have mostly respected for several years, tonight spent the first ten minutes on Lindsey Lohan.

We are lost. They have taken control.


There seems to be a new bug in Blogger. It might say "0 comments", but when you click on it, there are actually comments there. Very odd.

3014 Hot birdies

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious."
-- William Feather --


I heard some guy today refer to "adulterated jokes". He meant "X-rated jokes". No, he did not say "adult-rated", although that's obviously where his confusion came from.


There was a doctor on the CBS Early Show this morning who said that campfire smoke is 12 times as carcinogenic as cigarette smoke, and the effects stay in your body up to 45 times as long.

A lot of people in my neighborhood burn wood in woodstoves all winter. Depending on the weather, there's frequently a 3-foot thick undulating layer of smoke, about 6-10 feet up, throughout the lower parts of the street.

So, how long before someone insists that all homes must have scrubbers on their chimneys?


100 degrees today. Everywhere I went, people were complaining about how hot it was. Oddly, the heat didn't bother me at all. In fact, while waiting at the BMW garage for the rental car, I sat on a bench outside in the shade and read my book.

I don't often have a problem with heat. Humidity can be difficult, but seldom heat.

The baby birds in the nest over the porch light are usually deep in the nest, not visible from the porch. Today they're perched on the edge of the nest. Trying to stay cool, I guess. I took three pictures, and every one is fuzzy, I don't know why, but here they are in the least fuzzy:

3013 House Delay

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place
but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
-- Dorothy Nevill --


I just heard a possible reason for the delay in my new house. Apparently future neighbors have overheard some fussing. This may be just gossip, or misunderstood eavesdropping, but ...

... they can't get the power on. It's hooked up, everything is installed, there's an account with the power company, etc. etc., but they throw the switch and nothing happens, and nobody can figure out why.


If true, that makes it a little difficult, I guess, to use power tools to do the finish work.

Monday, July 05, 2010

3012 Cynical?

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Some things have to be believed to be seen."
-- Ralph Hodgson --


Bristol Palin: "But I think abstinence is, like -- like, the -- I don't know how to put it -- like, the main -- everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it's not realistic at all.... because it's more and more accepted now." - from the February 16, 2009, FOX episode of "On the Record".

She is now the Teen Abstinence Ambassador for the Candie’s Foundation, getting around $25,000 for each speaking engagement. I wonder if the money had any influence on her opinion of how realistic abstinence is, or if she's just being hypocritical. I'd be more comfortable if she were speaking just in exchange for travel costs, in the belief that maybe she could help to change that "accepted now".

Either way, it's more than a bit patronizing for someone who has used her pregnancy as a springboard into a television and speaking career to lecture others on how teen sex can ruin their chances in life.

3011 Inadequate A/C; Inconsiderate a-holes

Monday, July 5, 2010

“Wise men talk because they have something to say;
fools, because they have to say something.”
-- Plato --


When it hit 87 degrees inside the house last night, I gave up and turned the air conditioning on.

I'd been resisting turning on the A/C as long as possible because the heat pump A/C runs off the well water, so while it's on, I have miserable water pressure, and it stirs up the well so there's silt in the water and I have to change the filter in the basement more often. But last night when it hit 87 degrees in the house, and temperatures are supposed to approach 100 degrees over the next three to five days, I gave in.

There are several steps involved:
  1. Turn off the living room thermostat that controls the oil furnace.
  2. Change the water filter at the tank in the basement, a very dirty job.
  3. Fight through the spider webs and throw the circuit breakers: furnace off, heat pump on.
  4. Remove the damper from the heat pump, so the cool air can enter the ducts. This involves standing on a chair and pounding with a hammer.
  5. Insert the damper in the furnace ductwork to keep the cool air from dumping through the furnace into the basement.
  6. Turn on the water to the heat pump, which involves a tall stepladder and wrist strength.
  7. Check for water leaks.
  8. Turn on the hall thermostat, that controls the heat pump A/C and electric backup heat.
I did all the steps, and when the temperature continued to rise, and there was no air blowing from the ducts, I got very upset. I could hear water flowing through the coils, so I thought the fan had died. There are no parts available for the heat pump. Jay had got a good deal on it when the house was built in 1982, but what they didn't tell him is that the model was discontinued that year. Parts and service were available for only seven more years. Nobody wants to work on it now. I keep planning to replace it with a REAL a/c system, but every year there's another huge unexpected expense (like when I discovered the roof was going to cost $10,000, not the $4,000 or so I'd planned for, that wiped out two years), or I let it go until too late in the year, so, anyway, it hasn't happened.

When I finished freaking out and was able to think logically, I went through all the possibilities, and then realized I'd screwed up step 8. I had turned on the wrong thermostat. The furnace thermostat has a "Cool" setting, but it's not hooked up to anything, and I had forgotten all about the hall thermostat and had flipped the living room thermostat to "cool". Sheesh.

The shutoff valve on the heat pump hasn't worked in years, so water runs through the system constantly. I paid about $5,000 last year (or the year before?) to have the well pipes, pump, and pressure tank replaced, so I hope this doesn't kill them. Plumbers tell me that well pumps like to run, it's going off and on that kills them, so I'm hoping it's ok - as long as I don't pump the well dry.

It's now 11 am, and even with the system having run flat out all night, the inside temperature is already 80 and rising. It's only 84 outside.

I am really starting to hate this house.


I'm in a very bad mood partly because my mail box and paper tube have been hit again. It gets hit every few months by people backing out of the driveway across the street. No one EVER stops and apologizes, and that alone pisses me off. And I know how it happens because I have seen the tracks in snow, or in the lawn. Once I was actually in the side yard and saw it.

Three bashes ago, the post for the newspaper tube got bent, so it is no longer in line with the mailbox, making it difficult to reach it from the car. Two bashes ago, the mailbox body got twisted enough that the door no longer closes. There's about a two inch gap at the top. Rain and snow get in. The last previous bash twisted the post far to the left, so the mailbox is not lined up with the street.

Somebody hit it yesterday, twisting the mailbox to the other direction, and destroying the tube. Here's what I have now:

It's impossible now to reach the newspaper from the car. I have to get out of the car, no matter what the weather, no matter how hard it's pouring or hailing. The paper delivery person must be throwing it in or something.

The a-hole must have hit it very hard, because although the mailbox post was designed to twist rather than break when hit by the town snowplow, it's got 25 years of rust and corrosion on it, and when the Hunk straightens it for me, he needs to use a winch on his truck.

And as usual, no one so much as left a note, let alone offered to fix it. I am royally pissed off.

I bought a new mailbox a few months ago, but I want to install it on the other side of the driveway, hoping a-holes will be less likely to hit it, and I haven't decided yet what kind of post I want. I'd prefer something flexible, like a huge spring, but haven't found the right thing yet.

I am really starting to hate people.


The kicker? The "Service engine soon" light is back on steady in Hal. He's going in tomorrow for the bumper replacement, so I'll mention it then.

I'm really starting to hate this car.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

3010 More bad attitude

Saturday, July 4, 2010

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs
is to be ruled by evil men.”
-- Plato --


The above quote - again, random, it was just next in my long list of quotes - seems to fit my topics today. I have been amazed at some of the things I've found this past week. I wonder why bother to pay attention to public affairs when the people we trust make decisions that are obviously not in our best interests, and then lie to us about it.

This is a WTF example. I'd never heard about it before. In 1958ish James Van Allen announced the discovery of the belts of protons and electrons surrounding the Earth, held in place by magnetic fields, now known as the Van Allen belts. In 1962, the US military decided to set off H-bombs in the Van Allen belts to see if they could disrupt them, the theory being that if they didn't do it, the Russians would. On July 9, 1962, they did it.

It really happened.
Code-named "Starfish Prime" by the military, it literally created an artificial extension of the Van Allen belts that could be seen across the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to New Zealand.

In Honolulu, the explosions were front page news. "N-Blast Tonight May Be Dazzling: Good View Likely," said the Honolulu Advertiser. Hotels held what they called "Rainbow Bomb Parties" on rooftops and verandas. When the bomb burst, people told of blackouts and strange electrical malfunctions, like garage doors opening and closing on their own. But the big show was in the sky.

I guess mass stupidity is not a recent phenomenon.

Various colors spread across the sky, like the Northern lights, but bigger, brighter, more colorful.

I still have trouble believing it. I'd never heard about this before. How could they do something so drastic when they had no idea what could result? How lucky were we? Where were the cautious people? The people watching out for us?

The NPR story is at


The next bit is about BP, and how they and the CIA created the current situation in Iran. Story at It's pretty amazing and angrifying, and goes a long way toward explaining why much of the middle east hates westerners.

BTW, I own a lot of BP stock. Sale of it was supposed to pay a good portion of the new house price before the oil hit the water, but I never bought BP. That's a piece of the story linked above that's not quite accurate. I owned Amoco stock, and back in the '80s or '90s when a lot of the oil companies merged, BP either bought or merged with Amoco, and that's how I ended up with BP stock.


Now I read that conservatives are trying to repaint Joe McCarthy as an American hero.
"On McCarthy’s first day in office, he called a press conference to air his proposal for the end of a coal miner’s strike led by labor leader John L. Lewis. His proposal was for the coal miners, including Lewis, to be drafted into the military, and then when they refused to mine coal, they were to be court martialed for insubordination and then shot.."
Yeah, that guy, the guy who destroyed the lives and careers of people he didn't like on the flimsiest of evidence. (Oops, I guess that explains why conservatives like him.) Story at, McCarthy bio at


And then there was the Marist poll which showed that 26% of Americans didn't know what country the US declared independence from. Of those 26%, 6% hazarded guesses ranging from France, through Spain, to Japan.

That's sickening. Prime products of US school systems.


I saw a bunch of kids in some kind of ceremony on the TV news earlier today. They were holding lit candles that had been thrust through disposable cups, presumably to protect their hands from hot melted wax.

The cups were Styrofoam.

Um, am I to believe that not one single adult there knew what happens to Styrofoam when exposed to a flame? Was there not one thinking person present?


Were you aware that in Arizona, Senator John McCain claimed illegal immigrants were deliberately causing fatal car crashes on Arizona highways, Gov. Jan Brewer claimed illegal immigrants were beheading people and leaving the corpses in the desert, and, strapped for cash, the state sold its public buildings, including the Capitol. Yup. All true.

In the US Senate, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama held up confirmation votes on more than 70 Obama administration appointees because he wanted two defense contracts for his home state, Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky held up the confirmation of the deputy U.S. trade representative out of pique over a Canadian law banning the sale of flavored tobacco, Harry Reid, the majority leader, accidentally voted No on health care bill, the Senate dining room had an all-shrimp menu in support of gulf fishermen (allergics, Muslims, and Jews be damned), and Republicans invoked a rule prohibiting committee meetings from running past 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, two Republican consultants claimed they had had sex with the Republican gubernatorial candidate, the Lieutenant Governor compared government assistance to the poor with feeding stray animals, and the winner of the Democratic Senate primary turned out to be an unemployed man facing felony charges who had never campaigned.

(One has to wonder how many philosophic conservatives had temporarily registered as Democrats so they could vote in that primary. Nope, that's too smart. He probably won because his was the first name on the list and he wasn't the incumbent. Yeah, that more closely fits the expected level of voter competence.)


Is it any wonder that the rest of the world considers Americans stupid?

I have retired from the workforce. I may retire from the world. It's getting awfully hard to care.