Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Do you feel the ground shaking?

Do you feel the ground shaking?  That's the local farmers, jumping up and down for joy – it's raining!  At right is a snapshot I captured just now of the Salt Lake City weather radar.  There's a lot of intense rain.  Paradise is just on the leading edge of it right now; the big orange blob is headed right for us...

Jøtul F 100 wood stove...

Jøtul F 100 wood stove...  The photos below show my new wood stove, which I mentioned yesterday.  In the first photo you can see just how tiny it is – those windows are on the small side, and the stove is much smaller than them!  The second photo shows a close-in view  The circular thing on the left side of the top is a wood stove thermometer...

Even more progress in Paradise...

Even more progress in Paradise...  The painters finished up their work today.  They're from Akucolor, and the same crew has now painted the entire interior of our home, the interior and exterior of our barn, and fixed up all the places in need of help on the exterior of our home.  At every step they had good advice and good ideas.  Their conscientious work and eagerness to fix any problems made them wonderful to work with.  We'd recommend them to anyone who needs painting of any kind done in Cache Valley...

A fine lunch...

A fine lunch...  On this rainy, overcast day we decided to take ourselves out for a nice late lunch.  We set out to go for sushi (in Ogden), but as we drove up through the rain in Sardine Canyon, somehow we got onto the subject of burgers.  That, in turn, got us onto the thought of Maddox Ranch House restaurant, in Brigham City.  We went there for the first time about a month ago, and had a superb beef supper.  So we went there for lunch today for a burger.

Everything about the meal was superior.  Fresh dinner rolls with strawberry butter or plain butter.  Delicious burgers on a homemade bun, nicely grilled on the inside.  Crisp green lettuce.  Ripe, flavorful tomato.  Perfect dill pickle spears.  Iced tea, perfectly done.  We both had soup for our appetizer: a creamy potato soup with plenty of vegetables and bacon.  I had just enough room to consider a dessert: strawberry pie.  It was basically a pile of strawberries with a dollop of stiff whip cream, sweetened and vanilla flavored, on top.  There was very little pastry.  The strawberries were perfectly ripe: sweet and bursting with flavor, but yet still with a slight crunch.  I have no idea how they could make that any better.

Now we're in a burger/strawberry pie coma.  I expect no progress the rest of the day :)

Are we older folks really the ones with dementia?

Are we older folks really the ones with dementia?  These six tales, allegedly all true – the Intertubes said it, so it must be so!  Via my brother Scott, who is ever-so-slightly less ancient than I:
Recently, I went to McDonald's and I saw on the menu that you could have an order of 6, 9 or 12 Chicken McNuggets.

I asked for a half dozen nuggets.

'We don't have half dozen nuggets,' said the teenager at the counter.

'You don't?' I replied.

'We only have six, nine, or twelve,' was the reply.

'So I can't order a half dozen nuggets, but I can order six?'

'That's right.'

So I shook my head and ordered six McNuggets
Unbelievable but sadly true. Must have been the same one I asked for sweetener and she said they didn't have any, only Splenda and sugar. And they think they are worth $15.00 per hour!

I was checking out at the local Wal-Mart with just a few items and the lady behind me put her things on the belt close to mine. I picked up one of those dividers that they keep by the cash register and placed it between our things so they wouldn't get mixed.

After the girl had scanned all of my items, she picked up the divider, looking it all over for the bar code so she could scan it. Not finding the bar code, she said to me, 'Do you know how much this is?'

I said to her 'I've changed my mind; I don't think I'll buy that today.'

She said 'OK,' and I paid her for the things and left.

She had no clue to what had just happened.
But the lady behind me had a big smirk on her face as I left.

A woman at work was seen putting a credit card into her DVD drive and pulling it out very quickly.  When I inquired as to what she was doing, she said she was shopping on the Internet and they kept asking for a credit card number, so she was using the ATM thingy.

I recently saw a distraught young lady weeping beside her car.

'Do you need some help?' I asked.

She replied, 'I knew I should have replaced the battery to this remote door un-locker.  Now I can't get into my car. Do you think they (pointing to a distant convenience store) would have a battery to fit this?'

'Hmm, I don't know. Do you have an alarm, too?' I asked.

'No, just this remote thingy,' she answered, handing it and the car keys to me.  As I took the key and manually unlocked the door, I replied, 'Why don't you drive over there and check about the batteries.  It's a long walk....'

Several years ago, we had an intern who was none too swift.  One day she was typing and turned to a secretary and said, 'I'm almost out of typing paper.
What do I do?'

'Just use paper from the photocopier', the secretary told her.

With that, the intern took her last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five blank copies.
Brunette, by the way!!

A mother calls 911 very worried asking the dispatcher if she needs to take her kid to the emergency room, as the kid had just eaten some ants.  The dispatcher tells her to give the kid some Benadryl and he should be fine.  Then the mother said:

'I just gave him some ant killer......'

Dispatcher: 'Rush him in to emergency right now!'
I'm feeling a bit less demented now :)

Summer triangle...

Summer triangle...  A time exposure over a 500 year old cherry tree in bloom, in Japan.  Awesome!  Via APOD, of course...

Geo-location to centimeter scale...

Geo-location to centimeter scale...  This is a really big deal, assuming they can actually productize it at scale.  For my American readers, “centimeter scale” means accuracies on the order of a half inch.

If you're ancient enough, you'll remember the bad old days when the only way you could figure out where you were is to use maps, compasses, landmarks, sextants, and so on to get your position on the surface of the earth.  If you were skilled and had the right tools, you could locate yourself within about a mile, or within a few tens of feet if you had landmarks and a good map.  My dad taught me how to use USGS topo maps and a compass to figure out where we were when hiking, which I still know how to do.  But only if I'm lucky with visible, identifiable landmarks can I get my position within 50' or so.

GPS changed all that, and remarkably quickly.  A quick count tells me that Debbie and I own 8 devices that have GPS capability.  One or more of them is virtually always at hand.  That means that we can find out where we are on the Earth's surface to within about 20' anytime we want to.  It's effortless.  Most of these devices not only know where they are, but can also display a map to let us know very conveniently.  The map might be a road map, a topo map, or even satellite imagery of our surroundings.  It can be annotated with the names of stores, offices, etc.  It's hard to overstate what a revolutionary thing this is.  We all just take it for granted now that we can know where we are.  It wasn't so very long ago that was a very challenging thing indeed.

This new technology promises yet another such revolution, with a 100x increase in accuracy.  A mobile phone equipped with it wouldn't just know which house it was in – it would know where it was within a particular room, how high it was off the floor, and what direction it was pointing.  This accuracy will be an incredible enabler for autonomous devices.  To pick a trivial example: a robot mower, once “taught” about how your yard is laid out, will be able to mow your lawn without human guidance and (especially) without the large, expensive, and compute-intensive artificial vision systems and the like.  If they can get this technology down to GPS-like prices, it's going to pervade all sorts of gizmos – and change our lives even more than GPS has...

Cats in slo-mo...

Cats in slo-mo...  Just shut up and watch it.

Progress in Paradise...

Progress in Paradise...  It was a day of little things.

I finished designing the flatbed, stake-sided wagon I'm going to build, and ventured up to the Logan Home Depot to pick up the lumber, paint, and hardware for it.  The carriage bolts I need turned out to be problematic – every source in town added together didn't have enough of them!  So I ordered them on Amazon instead; they'll be trickling in over the next week.  That project is delayed.

On the way up to Home Depot, I stopped at King Hair in Logan and got my hair cut.  Walking into that place feels like you're walking into someone's house – someone whose mom just happens to have a well-equipped barber and beauty shop.  Each time I've gone, a different barber has taken care of me.  They always strike up the kind of conversation you might have with a new neighbor – friendly, curious, and comfortable.  My whole life haircuts have been something I avoided, as I always have something else I'd rather be doing, I don't really care much about how I look, and the experience generally involves lots of waiting (which I hate!).  I've never waited more than 60 seconds here, literally.  Only twice have I ever even sat down on one of their chairs for people waiting.  The people there are so nice that I actually look forward to seeing them.  They're starting to change my mind about haircuts.  Maybe I'll start getting them more than 3 times a year...

On the way home I stopped in at the Artistic Metal Works shop in Millville.  They're making a fireplace door for us, and they had some questions about what we wanted.  The beginnings of the door were laying out on a work table.  They're making the front of it out of a single piece of 1/4" thick steel – that piece along weighs about 75 pounds.  The door frames are made from welded steel bars, about 1/4" x 2" in cross-section.  We didn't specify this sort of King Kong resistant construction; it's what they proposed.  We're going to need a crane to bring it into the house :)

The painters arrived while I was gone, and did some more work on the house before the rains set in (we got about 1/4" yesterday afternoon).  As I pulled into our driveway, a stranger waited for me.  Turns out he was the installer for Chim Chiminey, a local fireplace dealer.  I'd ordered a small wood stove for my new office in the barn, and he had just finished installing it.  The stove I picked was made by Jøtul, a Norwegian company.  I chose the tiny little F 100, designed for heating small areas.

While I was at Home Depot, I also picked up a couple small black walnut boards (Home Depot has some hardwoods; not much to choose from, but of decent quality and at good prices).  Debbie needs a little bowl holder for the cats, and her attempt to purchase one didn't work out so well.  I did the first sawing and gluing step on it yesterday afternoon.  I'll post a photo when it's finished.

My neighbor Tim D. came over to work on a better way to connect his irrigation pipes to our east-most riser.  He's long had some trouble getting his hand line close enough to the eastern edge of his field, and when we had some fence removed last week, we opened up a new opportunity for him.  He had a short section of 3" aluminum pipe that he will use as a “stretcher” to allow him to get about 15' closer to the eastern edge.  That will be especially useful on days when the irrigation pressure is low (because so many people are irrigating).  To do this, he needed to remove the sprinkler from this pipe section, and then clean up the end with the hook.  I spotted him out there trying to do this by himself, and having some challenges.  He's got arthritis in his hands, and his grip isn't all that strong.  Further, some of what he was trying to do needed about six hands.  So I went out to help, and between the two of us we managed to get it all done.  Removing that old sprinkler took every bit of strength the two of us had together.  We had an unreasonable sense of accomplishment when we finally got the sprinkler riser to unscrew!

We're expecting intermittent rain over the next few day, which the farmers here are very happy to see.  There are several thousand acres of freshly planted hay within just a couple of miles of our house, including all the fields adjacent to us...