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Vanity of vanities!
20 most recent entries

Date:2010-11-21 18:03
Subject:Am a married man now....
Security:Public

In case anyone still uses Livejournal: Rae Ana and I were married on 17 October. As anyone who would be reading this would know, it was long overdue.

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Date:2010-01-18 05:21
Subject:Wedding date has been set.
Security:Public

A date has been set for the wedding: 10 October 2010.

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Date:2009-03-17 22:46
Subject:Opening a car.
Security:Public

Losing my keys somewhere on the China Lake Naval Reservation, hundreds of miles from both home and my destination, is no fun, but there was a side benefit: I observed for the first time a locksmith at work.

The object is to obtain a code for the car's key, then to cut a new one. It would seem that this is ordinarily done by a sort of bootstrap procedue. First the interior of the car is opened by slim-jimming the lock if possible. Mine was already open. Then, the trunk is opened from the interior, by pulling the lever next to the driver's seat. That is, unless the trunk is in lockout mode, which mine was.

If the side door is not openable by slim-jim or the trunk is unopenable by lever, the alternative is to make a key by impression. The locksmith wiggles a blank in the lock, leaving impressions where the tumbler pins are. Cuts are made in the blank with a rattail file, and the process is repeated; the pins stop leaving marks when the cuts are of proper height. The door or trunk can be opened with the new key, usually with a bit of wiggling as the fit isn't exact.

What follows is removal of a lock cylinder, on which a code is printed that the locksmith can then look up in a reference manual and use to cut a proper key. Some cars--such as, unfortunately, my 2000 Mitsubishi, require a third step: resetting a code in the computer. Many newer cars have a reprogrammable RFID tag in the key that needs to send the right number to the computer in order for the car to be started. No code, no spark. The locksmith has a device not unlike an engine scanner which can reprogram the computer to match the new key; old keys can be reprogrammed using a less portable device.

Interesting stuff. $300 worth of interesting? Maybe not. The Coso Petroglyphs--the reason I was there in the first place--are worth seeing and, as the American Altamira or Lascaux, less well known than they ought to be. Photos to be posted after everything is processed and scanned: so far only my Fuji Acros is back from the lab.

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Date:2009-02-08 04:17
Subject:Rain
Security:Public

Why does my Internet connection run more slowly when it is raining?

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Date:2009-01-30 05:14
Subject:One more experimental paper...
Security:Public

I can't remember how Koen put it, but I didn't initially think he was referring to my graduation. Something along the lines of "it'll be one more paper", which had me thinking he expected a certain project to produce but one more paper. No, it was about my graduation.

That's still indeterminate, but it's less indeterminate than things have been, and I like that. And I could put out one more paper in seven days, but we're in agreement that I should wrap up at least one current experiment, for satisfaction's sake and because it makes for a more complete doctorate.

The sooner the better; flying is so tiring.

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Date:2009-01-06 12:13
Subject:Good to be home.
Security:Public

PHX airport, Prescott, Justice, Homer Glen, and Chicago by way of the interstates that replaced Route 66 and a stop in OK city, then Carlsbad, the caverns, and White Sands with a stop in Tulsa, then back to Tucson, then Willcox, then the PHX airport again, then back to Tucson to stay. I'm looking forward to *not* traveling for at least a few weeks!

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Date:2008-11-20 01:25
Subject:Someone let T-Rex out of its pen
Security:Public

I just saw frozen goose at Albertsons, which got me to thinking of a visit to the botanical garden at Golden Gate Park a few weeks back.

The geese there move like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. And they're deranged! They'll just waddle up to you, blocking the path, one in front of you and a couple to the sides, and look at you like you're meat. I'd say "of course they look insane; their brains are pea-sized" but neither a sparrow nor a raven nor even a vulture has given me such a crazed look. Nor has one ever hissed at me.

That's right, the San Francisco geese hiss. If they block the path and you try to just walk past them, they will stand firm, crane their necks like ET, and hiss. It's only a bird, I know, but when a bird starts acting tough I start to think maybe it knows something I don't. Like kung fu.

Is this what happens when the bleeding-heart pinkos take over a city? The birds get a sense of entitlement?

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Date:2008-11-07 04:32
Subject:We're missing a word.
Security:Public

There should be a word for the locations plugged or covered by caps, such as the opening at the top of a valve cover or radiator. I want to say "bung" but nobody ever uses that word in that sense.

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Date:2008-10-14 00:58
Subject:Parrots in Justice?
Security:Public

It was a strange sight, and I had to look twice to make sure I wasn't imagining things: a flock of monk parrots landed in the apple tree in my parents' backyard. A chatty bunch, they seem to nibble a bit on the apples and just hang out otherwise.

Growing up, I never saw them, not even in Hyde Park where they've supposedly been for at least a couple of decades, and this is the first I heard of the Chicago-area population.

Are monk parrots the new rock dove?

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Date:2008-08-31 02:30
Subject:Curse you, Belgians!
Security:Public

Stir-fried "Chinese Broccoli", brown rice, and the Tibet-style beef with cellophane noodles from Beyond the Great Wall: very good. The bottle of Duvel, however, was a mistake. How much alcohol can one sneak into a light-bodied beer?

I'm remembering that Dr Evil was Belgian.

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Date:2008-08-26 10:28
Subject:
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Remnant moisture from Tropical Storm Julio is overhead, but all it's doing is making it grey and humid. Very disappointing. Hurricane Javier was much better.

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Date:2008-07-30 01:50
Subject:Congrats to little sis
Security:Public

Semi-premature congratulations go to little sis' for her first scholarly publication. (And while she's still an undergrad, at that!)

This means that all the Kalafut children (will have) published in peer-reviewed science journals. That shouldn't strike me as strange, but it does.

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Date:2008-07-28 02:39
Subject:
Security:Public

I know that bootstrap resampling works, I even (almost) remember why it works, but every time I do it, it feels like cheating!

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Date:2008-07-21 01:21
Subject:We won? Strange.
Security:Public

My "last hurrah" as a political activist before deciding that continuing involvement at that level was incompatible with earning my degree soon was as part of the citizens' coalition against passage of the log-rolled Regional Transportation Plan. We lost 60-40, or so I thought until recently. Irregularities surrounding the election were always clouded its result, but there was never anything damning, and the state Attorney General was reluctant to investigate.

Now that County computer operator Bryan Crane has reportedly admitted to fixing the election, pieces of the puzzle--why did information on ballot layout disappear?--are falling into place, and we may really have won. What is there to do with the streetcar track already laid, and the two years of extra tax collected?

I'm having a little trouble processing this. I suppose I'm supposed to be indignant, but two years out, I find it difficult to be anything but reserved. I'd say I'm two years removed from any strong feeling or active support of any political cause whatsoever, but that's only almost true.

If it turns out that the election was flipped, if some of the bastards go to prison, and more importantly, if we keep Grant Road's thriving business district from being paved over for commuter convenience, I'll celebrate. Until then I'm taking a wait-and-see posture. I'd like to say "I'll do what I can" but "what I can" is "not much", other than to 'blog, to e-mail, and to otherwise get the word out to people with more time and energy than I can possibly put together right now.

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Date:2008-07-16 15:55
Subject:I suppose "beneath your dignity" would be lost on them...
Security:Public

I've had two students beg for grade increases, as though what we're doing is that...cheap.

If you want a B, study harder, and no, that you were inadequately prepared in Arizona public "high" school or the sissy "Pre-whatsit" faux-major you're taking doesn't mean I should treat you differently from your classmates.

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Date:2008-06-23 02:16
Subject:"Kids" say the darnedest things.
Security:Public

"What's the lowest speed the bucket can have at the top of its rotation so that the water does not fall out?" the test question asks, and the student (3 of them so far) do the derivation correctly: it's the square root of the product of the circle radius and the acceleration due to gravity.

But then part b asks "how does the answer depend on mass?" and each of the silly trio gives me a talk argument, which is a polite way of saying 'bullshit', explaining how we must spin the bucket faster if the bucket or water or bucket and water has a higher mass.

Where is "m" in the answer to part a? And who screwed up these students' minds so that when the question asks "what is the mass dependence" they have to act like weasels instead of just saying "there isn't any!"

It's a good thing I don't give negative points for answers that smell bad.

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Date:2008-06-18 03:43
Subject:
Security:Public

Mmmm...nothing like homemade pickles at two in the morning. *crunch, crunch*

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Date:2008-06-17 04:52
Subject:Things my students heard last week:
Security:Public

"On the other hand, if I were to throw the dodgeball at you from the bed of a Ford F-150 speeding by at 60 miles per hour, you'd call the police. Why?"

"Yes, we can call it v sub f. We can call it 'Shirley', too."

"Late to class due to speeding...didn't we cover that Monday?"

"Theoretical value for g? You must know something I don't."

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Date:2008-06-11 15:27
Subject:Influences.
Security:Public

"Physics is not a spectator sport."

I can't believe I said that. Shades of the late District 109 math instructor Sue Kluk--almost the same words, on a faded banner above the blackboard, and nearly every day in class.

She was right. You can't learn math by watching. It's the same for physics.

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Date:2008-06-02 15:17
Subject:Fire.
Security:Public

A serendipitous accident cleared my weeds. I think I need to repaint patches of the fence.

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