Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Recent Trivia

Recently discussed some Trivia with Friends and Family and I've decided to post it here. I've come up with some good ones maybe, seems most people do not get the right answer by instinct. edit: Wound up being hurried, so redid this.

Q: Is the region where the Space Station is located considered to be at a temperature that is Cold, Warm, Hot, or Extremely Hot?


Q: Why is it a bad idea to stand under a tree to shelter from lightning?
Answers below

Q: Zeppelins started attacking Britain in January 1915. The Brits were finally able to shoot one down using an airplane how much later? Was it *Roughly* 1 Month, 6 months, A Year, 18 Months, or 3 years?

Answers below


Q: Is the region where the Space Station is located considered to be at a temperature that is Cold, Warm, Hot, or Extremely Hot?

A: It is Extremely Hot in temperature, but there is almost no heat.

Comments and Sources: The region the International Space Station is in is called the Thermosphere. It is considered part of the atmosphere because the few atoms flying around do hit each other, although IIRC an atom might travel miles before hitting another. At the point where atoms no longer strike each other, it is no longer the atmosphere, again IIRC.

Wikipedia has an article confirming that the temperature can reach over 3500 degrees Fahrenheit, see link. Also see the image showing the space station is in the Thermosphere. The point is that heat and temperature are not the same thing although we tend to think of it that way. 

I wanted the image to show here but it is at the top, oh well.
Another illustration: would you be afraid to place your hand in the way of sparks from a flint and steel device? That's around 1370°C. Of course you wouldn't, again there is impressive temperature but almost no heat.


Q: Why is it a bad idea to stand under a tree to shelter from lightning?

A: The height of the tree attracts the lightning, but if it strikes, the lightning will seek the path of least resistance. Wood is a non-conductor, while a human is largely just a column of saltwater. Any lightning striking the tree is then likely to travel to the person. 

Source: https://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=1342


Q: Zeppelins started attacking Britain in January 1915. The Brits were finally able to shoot one down using an airplane how much later? Was it *Roughly* 1 Month, 6 months, A Year, 18 Months, or 3 years?

A: It was Sept. 1916, way over 18 months and approaching 2 years.

Comments and Source: The Zeppelins were state of the art, having a beginning in the 19th Century, while airplanes were a new development, rushed into production. The first planes were used for scouting, and dropping bombs and firing guns was almost an afterthought. At first for shooting, the pilot would just take a gun with him in the cockpit.

Thus the Brits found themselves having to create defense from scratch including anti-aircraft artillery, searchlights, listening systems, and better aircraft with adequate speed, altitude, and sufficient and proper ammunition. The gas bags were huge and just making leaks from bullets did little. Even the first introduction of incendiary ammo did not work, as a zone of hydrogen and oxygen needed to be created. Finally a combination of regular ammunition with incendiary alternating, and a technique of keeping to the same spot of attack to make a zone, proved effective.


Monday, July 28, 2014

By, Son

For some reason I think Forrest especially will enjoy this one


Monday, July 14, 2014

Homegrown Tomatoes

Had our first homegrown tomatoes yesterday. In celebration I give you the Guy Clark song, for those of you I haven't inflicted it on yet. 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Face Time with A Bear

Last night it was time to take the dog out for one last chance to take care of any business she had to do. As we headed out the front door Sophie made a funny noise. Certainly not a bark - more like a 'woof' but kind of stifled. I knew something had her going; I had a flashlight and shot out there, figuring I'd get to see a deer. 

I had been about 10 feet away from a bear that had knocked down our bird feeder. I didn't take this picture, but this is pretty much what I saw with a flashlight [of course it was dark out].

I was pretty excited, Sue tells me. The bear thankfully wanted no further acquaintance and was running away pretty much just like you see here.

We also learned Sophie probably will not make a good bear dog. She was not ready to tear into any such critter, thank you very much. If you get the sense that this looks like a pretty good size bear, well, it was really a pretty good size bear from what I could tell.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Four and a Half Hours Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice

Google the title, I dare ya. 

But that's about what it came to, several hours anyway, and what I was railing against Hitler-like was the pack of lies, stupidity, and cowardice contained in the modern manual that comes with your purchase of whatever. This time it was a lawn mower.

I figured we better grab a lawn mower for our new house before the grass started growing aggressively, so we went to Tractor Supply Company and picked out a self-propelled model. Their brand, Countyline; TSC treated us well recently about the invisible fence we bought, but that's another story. For the mower, there was a small amount of assembly required, and I haven't fooled with a lawn mower in eons, so I wanted to look over the manuals that came with it pretty thoroughly.

First the Cowardice. The manuals are jam-packed with inane safety warnings. Sure, maybe there are some people who wouldn't know it's probably best not to operate the mower in a closed garage and be breathing carbon monoxide; or need to be reminded. But by the time you've read all the silly stuff such as "gasoline is dangerous," your eyes have glazed over and your not going to get to the advice you might really have needed to read. And the manual is so jam-packed with this nonsense it's hard to find and keep track of the things you actually need to find to put this thing together and operate. It *is* cowardice. All these outfits are scared to death of the lawsuits. "I didn't know my child shouldn't drink gasoline"

Next the Stupidity. After discovering what I needed to glean from the one billion pages of the manual was one diagram and a paragraph or so ... about the only real content outside of the safety warnings ... I was ready to find something about how to operate the mower. I got to that part and it said "drop dead". Well, not literally, it instead told you to go to the other manual. That part is provided by Honda, since the motor is a Honda. And although the other manual committed the same sin of failing to put out a document that was just for the mower I bought [mucho "if so equipped" lines to deal with], the Honda manual was a monstrosity in this regard. It was one manual for 9 different motors [no exaggeration]! I would actually have been better off not looking at this manual. Finally giving up on it, I just approached the mower and tried to see if I could get it going. 

The first thing I see is a tag around a large cap on top of the mower. It says there's no oil in the mower yet, to put some in before starting, and [thankfully] it said to check what you were adding with the dipstick. But I saw no dipstick! I looked to see if it was attached loose somewhere. It's nowhere. Finally I see that this self-same cap has a symbol on it indicating this is where you put the fuel. Wow, due to the stupidity of putting that tag on the gasoline cap, I almost ruined the motor by pouring oil in there! I'll grant you that is stupidity on my part too, but honestly the last mower I remember much about was Dad's as a kid, and that had a fuel tank on the side with a small cap ... just above the exhaust pipe too [Sue can tell you something about that].

No safety warning in the manual about that though. The safety of the motor is no concern of the seller. Whoever heard of a lawsuit about that?

Well, I get the oil put in and the gas too. Figuring out how the lawyer-designed spout for the gas can worked was another 15 minutes of my life I'm never going to get back, but let's move on. The instructions I unfortunately read have a little checklist that includes checking the spark plug. This is shown on all 9 pictures as being on the side along with the throttle/choke controls etc. I peer at this nut that would appear to be hiding completely the spark plug; weird, never imagined you would have so little access to the plug! All it really shows is using a special wrench on the plug at this spot. Well, I figure OK, all I appear to need to do now is pull the cord and start it. Surely the plug is in there all set to go.

So I pull and pull on the cord, nothing happens. Probably now the thing is flooded. So I wait a while, try again, wait a while, try again. Nothing doing. I have to give up and start imagining taking this back to the store to see if they can get it going. But I decide to look over the whole mover top to bottom. Sure enough, in front where none of the diagrams show it is the spark plug with the wire disconnected. I connect it and in one pull the mover is running. Unbelievable!

Lastly, the Lies. The mower operates by squeezing one lever up where your hands are to open the throttle, and squeezing another lever next to that to propel the mover. The cord to start the mower is also up by your hands, so you can squeeze the lever while you pull the starter. This lever is called "blade control". OK, well, it'd be kind of nice to have a lever that stops the blades that handy, yes, we'll even say it is a good safety feature. Surely, though, the engine doesn't stop every time you let go of this lever! Wrong! That's exactly what it does! Are you kidding me? every time I need to let go, the engine stops and I have to start it again? What attorney up in what ivory tower thinks that is going to go on? Without question, I will not be operating the mower without using something to clamp down the lever, no, not even for the first time I use the mower. Well, maybe "Lie" is not exactly the right word for this idiocy, but I will say it is a Lie that what they are worried about is safety. Lawsuits filed by morons is what they are worried about. No one in his right mind would ever go this far otherwise.

One day the Safety Nazis will win and they'll figure out how to do this and there will be nothing you can do about it. Mowing the lawn will mean buying a new mower every other year, as no one will be able to stand an old mower that take a few pulls to get started. As for now, thank God we can sometimes win some of the battles.

Oh, one more 'defeating the Nazis' battle won too: around here I can get gasoline from the Farmer's Coop that is alcohol free. That's about 10,000 times better for the lawn mower motor. We're using it in our vehicles too. To understand what that does for me click here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Evillaugh.ogg

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sophie the Wonder Dog

Perhaps you've heard we got a new dog. 

Boy did we get lucky. She is really just a wonderful dog who wants nothing more than to please. Younger than we first thought, due to an incorrect sign at the ASPCA, really still a puppy at one and a half years. An Australian Cattle Dog [probably mixed breed].

As advertised she is spayed, housebroken, and good with cats. I often say Callie the cat could not ask for a better dog to deal with. 

The training we have done with her has gone really well. She learned to sit almost immediately, although the first few times I tried to teach her this command I had to pull her legs out from underneath her. After about a day, she had it down. I suspected teaching her to "go lie down" would take about 3 weeks, but it was more like 3 days. She takes to this very well and sleeps all night in her own spot; I typically get up before her and if it is still dark, she just "sleeps on" till daybreak. Like some teenager, she "ain't getting up yet."

So it is truly Sophie the Wonder Dog. I thought you might need a picture.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Good Car Commercial

Usually I have contempt for car commercials. This one with the two Spocks has to be seen, though. 


PS: be sure to watch the ending. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Modern Things I Hate

*getting a phone tree when you call for service somewhere
*phone trees that require you to use voice only
*devises that unnecessarily use remotes
*but especially devices that have functions unobtainable without the remote
*phone trees that go by voice only, then say "I couldn't understand that"

*but that's not their cue that they need to connect you to a human
*websites that start playing video automatically once you load them
*phone trees that take you deeper and deeper before giving you an operator
*companies that should never use phone trees, that do anyway
*phone trees that will not allow you to hit 0 for operator
*phone trees that gather excessive account information, then switch you to someone without that information, and you start over
*companies that use chat rooms to provide service, but provide know-nothing hosts for the chat room

Just Saying.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Defeating the Nazis

One of the nice things about our new home is having three bathrooms. When it is just the two of us, even, two bathrooms are going to get used on a regular basis. Not only does a person not want to wait until a bathroom is available if that is avoidable, but just the matter of having a different set of towels handy, a razor that is still where you left it. Soap without weird ingredients in the dish. Etc. It would certainly astonish me to find that anyone felt differently, assuming the arrangement is possible. Growing up, it was one bathroom for a family of 5. 

But all was not well in our particular situation either. The prior owner, a contractor who had remodeled about everything, had remarked that the Safety Nazis had pulled off a victory in their campaign to inconvenience others when it came to the shower faucets. By no means did he put it in such a sarcastic way, but he was prompted to say upon some cue that a remodeler has no choice today, the only kind of faucet being sold can not be turned on all the way to spray 100% hot water. This of course prevents someone from stepping into the shower having failed to test the water first, an accommodation that no doubt is expected to save one severe scalding from happening every 350 years in the United States alone. Any vampires out there can keep an eye on the statistic.

For some reason, that was all he said. Sure enough, the two showers downstairs, similar to the image, have some internal block that prevents turning the control all the way over, but instead only halfway. For the shower off the master bedroom, he had evidently been able to monkey with it so that the control could be turned slightly more than halfway, which is fine; but for the other shower, halfway was it. I noticed that the hot water heater was really turned up high, so I assumed this was how he was trying to handle the problem that goes with the un-adjusted controls: the water simply does not get hot enough. Unfortunately even having the hot water turned up very high did not solve the problem for shower #2. During the winter especially, this was turning into an unpleasant fact. Showering there meant a cold shower on a cold day. I would sometimes force myself to admit that if you stuck your hand into the spray, it did feel somewhat lukewarm, meaning I could summon up the gumption to go ahead with it. But, nope, for the rest of the body, it was a cold shock. If you've ever swam in a cold swimming hole, you'll be able to relate to how a person eventually doesn't notice the cold, and how this is much more tolerable in the summer! But I was lining up a plumber, friends, and, yes, many times I just used the other shower.

For six months this was the status quo for this shower. Then one recent day I'm showering and accidentally bump the control in this shower. I braced myself for a cold blast while turning the knob back as fast as I can; but then I noticed. The shower got warmer, not colder. What? I test it again. Yep, by turning it towards 'off' it gets warmer, too warm in fact. Holy Cow! The contractor just reversed the hot and cold hook-up! Ingenious!

Sue and I are still laughing about this one. I'm trying to think why the guy didn't tell me what he had done. Perhaps he started to, and got interrupted. Or maybe he thought I would be able to tell [no, and I don't feel bad about this one, it's just not something you investigate unless you suspect such a thing].

In the meantime, life has improved in our humble abode.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fish and Pawpaws, Can't Beat It!

From the Maury river behind the house. Haven't had a bad day fishing yet, although 'big' fish is not the scene.

Pawpaws: after thinking about it only a second, I knew the fruit Sue and I saw were pawpaws. This although I do not remember the circumstances of some 45 years ago when I must have first learned what they were, probably from Dad. He probably picked them up, knowing what they were,  and showed them to me -  but I know we didnt eat them.

I have a book on edible plants and the trick [which Dad probably was unsure of, if it was indeed him] was to let them ripen and don't eat the skin. They are full of these big seeds, which means you spit the seeds out [the fruit kind of clings to the seeds]. It seems to be the sort of thing you eat maybe one of at a time. Very tasty! The whole business is a lot like persimmons, it seems, what with needing to ripen and being undesirable till that point, but they taste and smell like bananas. 

Of course I had to go back and get some more [while fishing]. So this is what I have been up to while it's too hot for hunting. 

 The shotgun shell is for size perspective.