Saturday, July 11, 2015

Progress in Paradise...

Progress in Paradise...  Yesterday a pleasant fellow (Scott) showed up from UIC, the folks in Salt Lake City from whom I bought my air compressor (I got there from Amazon).  The manufacturer (Chicago Pneumatic) has a program which, for $350 for certification by a technician, extends my warranty on the important bits from one year to five years.  Considering the price of that air compressor, that's a serious bargain, so I signed up for it.  Having run a business before, it's easy to see what's almost certainly going on here.  The manufacturer is fully prepared to offer the five year warranty, but tying it to the technician's visit guarantees some revenue for their dealer, and provides a (hopefully positive) introduction between the dealer and the customer.  The manufacturer wins by having a nominally reduced purchase price.  Everybody wins!  My favorite kind of capitalist deal :)

Anyway, Scott showed up and started his routine.  It was obvious, watching him, that he was verifying that my installation was correct.  When he got done with that part, he asked me who had done the installation.  I told him that I'd done it myself, fully expecting that he was going to tell me what I'd screwed up.  Instead, he shook my hand and said that he never sees the installation made correctly – that normally on these visits he ends up redoing part of the installation.  Well, how about that!  But on reflection, that's actually kind of scary, as that thing wasn't really challenging to install – I just had to connect it to both 240V and 120V power.  Is that really so unusual to get right?  Yikes!

Anyway, Scott spent the extra time he had going over all the settings and adjustments, and educating me on the care and feeding of the compressor.  I'd have been happy to pay $350 just for that, without the warranty extension – he was great!  After that, we actually lit off my new compressor.  It works great, and is vastly quieter than the piston type compressors I'm used to.  It was quite impressive to watch that thing putting out 15 cfm at 150 psi.  I'm not going to have any problems with running air tools!

Later in the day I wandered up to Logan, to Standard Plumbing, and investigated the availability of Type K (thick wall) copper pipe, 1" diameter.  They can order it with a two week lead time, and the price was acceptable, so I put 340' of it on order.  Once it comes in, I'm going to be sweating a lot of pipe together, to get that compressed air plumbed all over the shop and garage, with a couple of outside outlets as well (for tire inflation, power grease gun, and general cleanup).

Yesterday I also bought the parts for a doggy ramp, for Mo'i.  He's having trouble getting up and down the stairs to our back yard, and he's taken a couple of tumbles now that worry us.  Today I built the ramp, which you can see bottom side up in the photos below.  I chose the color based on what dogs see best, because we don't want Mo'i falling off the ramp!  The top side is just two 2x12s side-by-side.  I'll be painting them tomorrow with non-skid paint, the same color.  It's actually the same can of paint, to which I'll be adding the additive shown at right.  It looks like fine-grained sand.  While I was looking at it, at Home Depot, another customer came up and told me he's used it twice, and it worked great.  We'll put it to the dog test here shortly!

An explanation for solar cycle variability?

An explanation for solar cycle variability?  Maybe.  If these scientists are right, we've got a mini-Ice Age coming in just 15 years.  If I'm reading this article correctly, these scientists are claiming to have discovered that the sun's magnetic dynamo is driven by two roughly 11 year long cycles – but that these cycles have a small difference in frequency.  Because of this small frequency difference, periodically the cycles will be out-of-phase, and in-phase.  In the 2030s, they say, they will be 180° out of phase, and the sun's activity will fall to a low we haven't seen since the Maunder minimum in the mid-1600s.

I have no idea whether these scientists are onto something here.  In particular, I don't know whether there's any physical mechanism that would explain having two separate magnetic dynamo effects with two very close frequencies.  However, one thing I am sure of: the result of having two such mechanisms with very close frequencies really would be as described here.  That's a mechanism familiar to any electrical engineer, and that mechanism has a name: heterodyning.  That mechanism is used in just about every tunable radio receiver, and in many other devices (including audio) as well.  So if these scientists are right about the two underlying mechanisms, I have no doubt at all that the rest of their claim is correct.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.  I'm very curious, in particular, how the climate alarmists will react to this – for it suggests a major benefit is to be had by deliberately increasing greenhouse gases...

A retired person's perspective...

A retired person's perspective...  Via my lovely bride:
  1. I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people. I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem work itself out.
  2. I changed my car horn to gunshot sounds. People move out of the way much faster now.
  3. You can tell a lot about a woman's mood just by her hands. If they are holding a gun, she's probably mad.
  4. Gone are the days when girls cooked like their mothers. Now they drink like their fathers.
  5. You know that tingly little feeling you get when you really like someone you've just met? That's common sense leaving your body.
  6. I don't like making plans for the day. Because then the word "premeditated" gets thrown around in the courtroom.
  7. I didn't make it to the gym today. That makes 1,500 days in a row.
  8. I decided to change calling the bathroom the John and renamed it the Jim. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.
  9. Dear paranoid people who check behind shower curtains for murderers: If you find one, what's your plan?
  10. Everyone has a right to be stupid. Politicians just abuse the privilege.


Pluto!  New Horizons returned a new photo.  Via APOD, of course.  Next Tuesday is the big day: New Horizon's flyby of Pluto...

Mark Steyn...

Mark Steyn ... is at the top of his form in this piece.  He has an uncanny ability to make me cry, then laugh through my tears.  An excerpt:
Hillary, by contrast, is in trouble not because she's a sleazy, corrupt, cronyist, money-laundering, Saud-kissing liar. Democrats have a strong stomach and boundless tolerance for all of that and wouldn't care were it not for the fact that she's a dud and a bore. A "Hillary rally" is a contradiction in terms: the thin, vetted crowd leave more demoralized and depressed than when they went in. To vote for Bernie is to be part of a romance, as it was with Obama. To vote for Hillary is to validate the Clintons' indestructible sense of their own indispensability - and nothing else. Hillary is a wooden charmless stiff who supposedly has enough money to be carefully managed across the finish line. But that requires Democratic electors to agree to be managed, too, and the Sanders surge is a strong sign that, while they're relaxed about voting for an unprincipled arrogant phony marinated in ever more malodorous and toxic corruption, they draw the line at such a tedious and charisma-free specimen thereof.

So Bernie is a real danger to her. He will be nimbler, more fun and more human in the debates. And he enthuses the young in a way Hillary doesn't. He could win Iowa, and I know he could win New Hampshire, too, where he will ensure that, instead of going off to destabilize the Republican primary, Granite State "independents" vote in the Democrat poll and play hell with Hillary's ability to manage turnout models. If Mrs Clinton's two down by South Carolina, Berniephobes will be begging any alternative (starting with Crazy Joe) to jump in the race.
His conclusion made me laugh ... and then I spent a few minutes thinking over his premise:
Step back and let's be bipartisan about what Rove calls the "disruptiveness" factor: Be honest, which would you prefer and which is a bleaker comment on the political health of the republic - Bernie vs the Donald? Or Hillary vs Jeb?
I think he's right: bring on Sanders vs. Trump, please!!!

There's ever so much more, including (of course!) an equally acerbic take on The Donald.  Do go read the whole thing!

Last evening's walk in Paradise...

Last evening's walk in Paradise...  My two companions and I did our usual mile-each-way walk to the east of our house.  This photo is from the road that runs north/south, near the end of our walk.  The dogs have had all the frenetic energy walked out of them, and now they're just ambling companionably along. 

They looked like this all the way home, except for one moment of excitement when a striped skunk burst out of the tall grass on our right, just 5 or 6 feet in front of us.  The skunk immediately turned toward us and started the stamping-feet behavior that precedes a skunk-squirt.  I hauled the dogs back right quickly :)  They, of course, picked this moment to get all brave; they were bouncing up-and-down at the end of the leash, trying their best to chase the skunk.  Neither of them has ever been skunked, so they have no idea what would be in store for them.  With these two, though, I'm not sure how much difference that would have made.

I'm really enjoying watching the changes along our walk; some from the passage of time, others from changes in lighting.  It never seems to look like the same walk twice.  On this walk, lighting was the big change from the previous day.  The photos below are my attempt to capture that.  I was most successful with the middle photo...

Independence Day Parade...

Independence Day Parade...  This collection of photos (not mine) are from the Independence Day Parade in the town of Hyrum, less than four miles north of our house.  I drove by the parade on an errand as it was breaking up, and saw some of the floats driving off.  Next year, assuming Debbie isn't broken, we're going to go watch it.

It looks very old-timey, doesn't it?  There are moments when it feels like we not only moved geographically, but culturally and chronologically as well.  Viewing these photos was one of these moments...