Monday, November 16, 2015

Paradise ponders...

Paradise ponders...  Another busy day today!  First we went to see Debbie's doctor.  She's been having some pain in her knee, making it painful to walk – and to make progress in her recovery.  Tendinitis in the patella tendon was the diagnosis, and she's going to start treatment for that tomorrow.  The treatment is a steroid-infused patch for her knee, with a battery that drives the steroid from her skin into the tendon.  Amazing medical technology these days!  We're hoping for a fast cure for this latest challenge.

When we finished with the doctor's appointment, we headed out to the cabin we're buying near Newton.  Today was the final walkthrough; our last chance to voice objections before we formally take possession.  We were very pleasantly surprised – the sellers did a bang-up job cleaning up the mess that we saw on our last visit.  We found absolutely nothing to worry about.

The next step after that happened later this afternoon: the formal “closing”.  We've done this several times in California, and I did it once in Utah (for our Paradise home).  Debbie had never before seen the difference between closing in California versus closing in Utah.  The short version: California took a couple hours and something like 100 signatures.  Utah took 7 minutes and 3 signatures.  Done!  Before we went into the title company office to do the closing (they do it here, not escrow companies as in California), I wired the money to their trust account.  Three signatures and a handshake, and now we're the owners.  So easy here, and so straightforward.  The recording will happen either this afternoon or early tomorrow morning.  After that, the process is completely done!

After we got home from the closing, I went out to talk with Elray the well driller.  He worked away as we talked, and he told me he was hoping to get through a clay layer and into water-bearing sandstone shortly.  A few minutes later, he did – and by the purest luck, I was there to see it.  I stayed out with him for about an hour as he went through the process of deepening the hole into the sandstone, and backing out the drill by 25' or so to “proof” the well (testing to see if good, clear water was coming up).  He's going to be proofing the rest of the day today, and part of tomorrow, but as of now it looks like we have good water – at 321'.  If things still look good tomorrow, he's going to weld about 4 more feet of casing on top and pound it down so that the bottom of the casing is resting on top of the water-bearing sandstone.  This will keep the water as clean as possible by keeping it out of the clay layer above the sandstone.  All good!

Paradise problem puzzled!

Paradise problem puzzled!  Yesterday I posted about the clock kit I was building, and how the prescaler had a problem that needed to be troubleshot.  Well, this morning I found the problem: a bad trace on the printed circuit board.  I soldered in a jumper, about a quarter inch long, and presto!  The prescaler is now working perfectly, giving me a beautiful 1 Hz (one pulse per second) signal.  That 1 Hz signal will drive the seconds counter, which is the next part I'll be assembling.

I was surprised that it turned out to be a circuit board problem.  There must have been a tiny break in the trace, but I couldn't see it under the solder mask.  I found two components whose leads were very close together, that were supposed to be connected (but weren't), so the break had to be somewhere in the quarter inch or so between them.  That little jumper did the trick nicely.  Troubleshooting it was actually fairly easy: one component was a resistor that showed a signal on the end that was supposed to be connected to the base of a transistor.  That base showed no signal at all.  Straight wires (or circuit board traces) aren't supposed to behave like that :)  Once I observed that anomaly, finding the actual cause was easy...



“Why has this not been done before?”

“Why has this not been done before?”  Neoneocon asks a most pertinent question about the French bombing of Raqqa, Syria:
Why on earth was this not done earlier? Was it because everyone was hoping the crocodile would eat them last?:
The operation, carried out in coordination with U.S. forces, struck a command centre, recruitment centre for jihadists, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters, it said. Activists inside Syria have suggested that no civilian casualties have been sustained in the Raqqa bombings.
Water supplies and electricity have reportedly been cut as a result of the air strikes, with activists claiming there has been ‘panic’ inside the city.
If that’s true, once again I ask: why has this not been done before?
I understand the answer is “lack of leadership, lack of will.” But that doesn’t completely explain it, either. Perhaps the leaders of Europe (and Obama, naturally) were, among other things, deluded into thinking that ISIS hadn’t set its sights on the West and that the carnage would remain confined to the barbaric murder of a bunch of Arabs in Arab countries: Christians, but also Muslims who didn’t quite toe the proper ISIS line. 
In addition to lack of leadership and lack of will, there's also the delusional political correctness that seems to have taken over our institutions.  It seems rather obvious that ISIS and al Qaeda are derived of Islam, and it's also true that most Muslims are not radical terrorists – but our “leaders” seem unable to recognize and accept this.  Their dumbassed adherence to politically correct views of Islam is preventing any traction on the problem.  Similarly, the oh-so-politically-correct views in Europe regarding open arms for Syrian immigrants is preventing them from getting any traction on their problem – though recent events in Paris may turn that attitude around...

A shocking development...

A shocking development...  MIT scientists have come up with a novel method for cleaning up water, including getting rid of the salt in salt water (desalination).  Their method uses shock waves to concentrate dirty water on one side of a passage, and clean on the other.  It doesn't use any membranes to get clogged, doesn't require high pressures or temperatures, and  (most importantly) is vastly more energy-efficient than any current desalination method.

This is very clever engineering, and a great example of technological innovation that defies conventional wisdom.  In this case, the assumption has long been that desalination was a high-energy process, and methods like reverse-osmosis that took less energy were complicated and high maintenance.  Here these guys come along with a method that's basically careful banging on the pipes, turning conventional wisdom on its head and out-performing every other method.  Awesome!