Saturday, July 26, 2014

They'll raise the price of me!

They'll raise the price of me!

A brief history of lossless compression...

A brief history of lossless compression...  This is from the IEEE history network.  It's been over 20 years since I did anything serious with compression, back when I was (very) peripherally involved with the LZS algorithm (I worked for Stac Electronics and with Doug Whiting, the developer of LZS).  I see a few small errors (especially with dates) in the stuff I have personal knowledge of, but generally it seems pretty accurate.  Most everything they mention that's after about 2002 is all new to me...

Friday, July 25, 2014

House remodeling update...

House remodeling update...  There was much progress while we were gone, but also a few disappointments:
  • The barn still hasn't been started.  There have been many reasons for the slippage, mostly small things, but they add up: the original start date was “before the end of April” – and here we are almost three months after that, and we're still being held up.  The final hurdle (we hope it's the final hurdle!) is sign-off from the County planner after we got an engineer to sign off on the plans.  We should have a permit by early next week...
  • The flooring is about 90% done.  The only remaining bits are some difficult stuff in the kitchen (under the range and refrigerator, mainly), the cattery (the easiest part of the entire flooring job), the trim around the cabinets, and the several transitions between tile and wood flooring in the house.  Oh, and the two sets of stairs between the first and second floor.  Ok, maybe 75% done :)
  • The master bathroom is completely tiled, the new vanity and medicine cabinet are installed, the vanity has been measured for its granite top, and the granite slab is in the fabrication process.  With any luck at all, we can have the granite installed within 2 weeks, and a week later we should have the finish plumbing and electrical work done – and we'll have an actual bathroom.  The tiling job is gorgeous – the fellow who did it is an old-school craftsman who took his time on it.  I had a chance to talk with him when he was maybe a quarter finished, and he was having a lot of fun with it – mainly because of the materials he was working with, and the challenges of the layouts he was employing.  The walk-in shower will be by far the nicest shower we've ever had in any home we've lived in: 5'6" square, with an “ell” to keep the shower from splashing into the rest of the bathroom, even though there's no shower door.
  • Our small balcony on the second floor now has a beautiful new railing, and it's strong enough to stop a tank.  To compare it to the old railing is like comparing a toy pedal car to a Mercedes...
  • The other remodeling projects (new main fireplace, new stovepipe for the basement, etc.) were all on hold while we were gone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Let me get this straight...

Let me get this straight...  Perfect!

San Juan Mountains Trip of 2014...

San Juan Mountains Trip of 2014...  I'm publishing the day-by-day posts (slowly), and you can see them all here.  There's a link on the right hand column, down under “Filtered Views” that will let you see these posts any time you want to...

This is an actual flower garden...

This is an actual flower garden...  It's not a painting.  It's located in Japan...

Another great optical illusion...

Another great optical illusion...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Purely coincidence...

Purely coincidence...  According to a poll I read this morning, 73% of the American public thinks it's “obviously false” that all these IRS officials had their hard disks crash at around the same time.  That poll leads to this obvious question: what the hell is wrong with the other 27%???

Works for me every time!

Works for me every time!  Via friend and reader Simon M...

What comes after ObamaCare?

What comes after ObamaCare?  ObamaGolf, of course!  Via my lovely bride:
(Receptionist) Hello, Welcome to ObamaGolf.  My name is Trina. How can I help you?

(Customer) Hello, I received an email from Golfsmith stating that my Pro V1 order has been canceled and I should go to your exchange to reorder it.  I tried your web site, but it seems like it is not working. So I am calling the 800 number.

(Receptionist) Yes, I am sorry about the web site. It should be fixed by the end of 2014. But I can help you.

(Customer) Thanks, I ordered some Pro V1 balls.

(Receptionist) Sir, Pro V1's do not meet our minimum standards, I will be happy to provide you with a choice of Pinnacle, TopFlite , or Callaway Blue.

(Customer) But I have played Pro V1 for years.

(Receptionist) The government has determined that Pro V1s are no longer acceptable, so we have instructed Titleist to stop making them.  TopFlites are better, sir, I am sure you will love them.

(Customer) But I like the Pro V1.  Why are TopFlites better?

(Receptionist) That is all spelled out in the 2700 page "Affordable Golf Ball Act" passed by Congress.

(Customer) Well, how much are these TopFlites ?

(Receptionist) It depends sir, do you want our Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum package?

(Customer) What's the difference?

(Receptionist) 12, 24, 36 or 48 balls.

(Customer) The Silver package may be okay; how much is it?

(Receptionist) It depends, sir; what is your monthly income?

(Customer) What does that have to do with anything?

(Receptionist) I need that to determine your government Golf Ball subsidy; then I can determine how much your out-of-pocket cost will be.  But if your income is below the poverty level, you might qualify for a subsidy. In that case, I can refer you to our BallAid department.

(Customer) BallAid ?

(Receptionist) Yes, golf balls are a right, everyone has a right to golf balls.  So, if you can't afford them, then the government will supply them free of charge.

(Customer) Who said they were a right?

(Receptionist) Congress passed it, the President signed it and the Supreme Court found it Constitutional.

(Customer) Whoa.....I don't remember seeing anything in the Constitution regarding golf balls as a right.

(Receptionist) There's no explicit mention of golf balls in the Constitution, but President Obama is a former constitutional scholar and he believes it would have been included if the Constitution had not been drafted by a bunch of slave-owning white men.  The Democrats in the Congress and the Supreme Court agree with the President that golf balls are now a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

(Customer) I don't believe this...

(Receptionist) It's the law of the land sir. Now, we anticipated most people would go for the Silver Package, so what is your monthly income sir?

(Customer) Forget it, I think I will forgo the balls this year.

(Receptionist) In that case, sir, I will still need your monthly income.

(Customer) Why?

(Receptionist) To determine what your 'non-participation' cost would be.

(Customer) WHAT? You can't charge me for NOT buying golf balls.

(Receptionist) It's the law of the land, sir, approved by the Supreme Court. It's $49.50 or 1% of your monthly income.....

(Customer)(interrupting) This is ridiculous, I'll pay the $49.50.

(Receptionist) Sir, it is the $49.50 or 1% of your monthly income, whichever is greater.

(Customer) ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What a ripoff!!

(Receptionist) Actually sir, it is a good deal. Next year it will be 2%.

(Customer) Look, I'm going to call my Congressman to find out what's going on here. This is ridiculous. I'm not going to pay it.

(Receptionist) Sorry to hear that sir, that's why I had the NSA track this call and obtain the make and model of the cell phone you are using.

(Customer) Why does the NSA need to know what kind of CELL PHONE I AM USING?

(Receptionist) So they get your GPS coordinates, sir.

(Door Bell rings followed immediately by a loud knock on the door)

(Receptionist) That would be the IRS, sir. Thanks for calling ObamaGolf, have a nice day...and God Bless the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Dog alarm clocks...

Dog alarm clocks...  We got this a lot on our vacation.  We made the dogs sleep out in the living room (in their own beds).  Every morning between 4 am and 6 am, they'd push the bedroom door open and leap on us, barking for the sheer joy of it, waking us up with enormous enthusiasm...

Texas Attitude...

Texas Attitude...  Via reader Jim M.  I do believe I've met this little old lady:
One day, a very gentle Texas lady was driving across a high bridge in Austin.

As she neared the top of the bridge, she noticed a young man fixin’ to jump. ("fixin" in Texas means: has the means or abilities to take action)

She stopped her car, rolled down the window and said, "Please don't jump! Think of your dear mother and father."

He replied, "My mom and dad are both dead; I'm going to jump."

She said, "Well, think of your sweet wife and precious children."

He replied, "I'm not married, and I don't have any kids."

She said, "Well, then you just remember the Alamo."

He replied, ''What's the Alamo?''

She replied, ‘’Well, bless your heart! - You just go ahead and jump.. you little Yankee Democrat Bastard... You’re holding up traffic.”

We're back in Paradise...

We're back in Paradise...  Utah, that is, at our new home.  It's still a mess from all the remodeling going on.  Debbie and I are “camped” in the TV room, which is mostly finished.  We'll be busy today with all sorts of remodeling-related stuff, but in between I will try to find some time to post about our vacation, including photos...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

All over Red Mountain...

All over Red Mountain...  This morning we set out to find some interesting trails that were obscure enough that we'd avoid the hordes of July 4th weekend riders. We succeeded beyond our expectations, in particular by locating a system of trails that starts on US 550, just northeast of Guston, at the 10,320 foot level. The road there took us into a dozen or more roads – some on the map, some not – that had us traversing all sorts of different environments, visiting a dozen or so mine remnants, and taking us as high as 11,900' up the western flanks of Red Mountain No. 3. On the lower stretches of these trails we ran into a number of campers, and just a few ATVs and jeeps, but the rest of the day we had the trails all to ourselves. Compared with the chaos the more well-known trails are having on this holiday weekend, this was pure bliss for us.

Not only did we have the trails to ourselves, but these were particularly pretty trails that were full of interesting stuff – spectacular mountain scenery, tons of gorgeous wildflowers, some wildlife (though not as much as we'd have liked), mine wrecks galore, and healthy, vibrant forests and meadows. It was as pleasant a day as we could have imagined.

We sat for a while in an especially pretty place, with the FJ parked on a little knoll overlooking a meadow with a stream burbling through it. This was our lunch spot, where we had some great beef jerky, dried mangoes, pistachios, chocolate, and cold drinks. Yum! We also let the dogs out there to run and play in the grass, chasing the ball all over the place.

At one point we spotted a bird we didn't know, perched in the top of a small fir, munching on the new growth that was just emerging. Turns out that it was a bird we did know, albeit in a color variation new to us: the “gray headed” variation of the dark-eyed junco. That's a bird we know well from Jamul, but the one here looked like a completely different species – with a slate blue/grey body and head, a slight darkening around the eyes, and a big rusty red patch on its back.

We did see a bit of other wildlife – one deer, lots of chipmunks and squirrels – but no marmots or pikas today (mainly because we spent the whole day below timberline).

After finishing with the trails above, we headed for the “Amphitheater” trail just south of Ouray. We didn't like it nearly as well as any of the other trails we've been on, and it was relatively full of people. We'll just add that one to the list of trails to avoid in the future :)

We ended the day by dropping down into Ouray for a milkshake from Mouse's Chocolate and Candies – we each had a “Double Fudge Chocolate Wow” milkshake, lightly malted. Delicious!

A pretty stretch of road
through the aspens
An abandoned mine
Parked below a tailings pile
Geranium, unidentified
Hooked violet
Surprisingly close to the peak
Moss and more, in a seep
Sickletop lousewort
Porcupine damage on cabin