Archive for November, 2008

Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Friday, November 28th, 2008

First off, I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving! We’re visiting with my sister for the weekend and are having a great time. Joe (my bro-in-law) and I played in a traditional football game this morning, and then we all feasted on Heidi’s fantastic dinner. Finish off the evening with some games and it was a good day.

Of course, I haven’t gone to sleep yet because I’m trying to harvest some savings from the Black Friday deals online. After much hunting and searching I’m ready to make my purchases but it’s taking forever to process through the check-out pages. The e-Commerce sites are in serious need of some crowd control. Anyhow, I’ve been wathcing for a deal on a flat-screen display for some time, and I think I’ve settled on this one. Also, I’m picking up some 2G of fast CAS4 RAM ($9.99 after rebate)… Sorry John, I guess I screwed you over after all.

Another great deal I saw as I was plowing along was this one at RitzCamera. If you are in need for stocking up on digital media, this one is for you. SanDisk 4GB CF or SD for FREE after the mail-in rebate Snooze you lose.. Really. I was seriously tempted to get a few more cards… but I resisted… since I’ve already got more than I need.

Now if only my order will clear…

EDIT: 2:15AM: Woo-hoo! Cleared. Must sleep now.

Falcon 9 Breathes Fire.

Monday, November 24th, 2008

SpaceX successfully completed a full mission test of their 9-engine heavy lift monster. You can watch a video of the test on their website, but I can’t say I recommend more than the first few seconds. Unfortunately, their sounds equipment isn’t up to the task of capturing the truly throaty roar that must produce.

The caption for the video was much more interesting:

Photo/Video Caption: The full mission duration test firing of the Falcon 9 rocket first stage lasted 178 seconds, nearly three minutes. Conducted at the SpaceX test facility in McGregor, Texas, the nine Merlin engines produced 855,000 lbs. of thrust and consumed over half a million pounds of liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene during the test.

That’s a lot of kerosene!! According to this example problem the stoichiometric equation for oxygen and n-decane (approximate for kerosene) is 15.5 moles oxygen for each mole of n-decane. That’s a fuel/oxygen ratio by mass of about 0.28. So half a million pounds of combustion material is about 400,000 pounds of kerosene. That’s almost 60,000 gallons!![1]

To put that in perspective, I fill up my car no more than once a week with 10-11 gallons of fuel or roughly 500 gallons a year. So that’s enough fuel (if cars ran on kerosene) to drive over 100 cars for a year. And those 9 Merlin engines burned that in 3 minutes. Now you know why satellite TV costs so much!!

  1. Thanks Google Calculator. []

Inside of a EF-S 17-85mm IS

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Big thank-you to Bill for pointing me to this beauty of a post on the Fred Miranda photography forum. Somebody had a broken EF-S 17-85mm IS lens that they took apart to show all the inner workings.

The picture they took last with the lens is the really creepy part. The author did a nice job being sort of artistic with the parts too. Check it out.

I’m sorry Wil!

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

I’ve finally decided that I really don’t hate Wil Wheaton[1]. Perhaps this is because two of the sciency-fictiony-geeky blogs I read, Bad Astronomy and Whatever, continuously talk about what a fully certified geek he really is.

I was put over the top by this text conversation quoted by Scalzi on his blog.

So consider this my public apology for years of loathing. I’ve decided that a guy has to make a buck, and I probably would’ve taken a crap role to hang out on the Star Trek stage too. Besides, I’m sure there are some things I did as a 17 year old that I would rather forget.

  1. Although I continue to despise his ST:NG alter ego. []

Life Technology Update

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

We’ve been spending my work bonus lately on some nice-to-haves that hadn’t managed to make it to must-haves. Here’s a quick run down with a little story about each:

  • Bigger Backups: As I’ve discussed previously, I’ve got a whole automatic backup system running. We protect our documents and important files, but the biggest hog is the tens of thousands of digital images. Anyhow, between K’s PC and mine, we finally exhausted the 250GB drives we had been using. We’re running at 750GB now (which I got at the bargain price of $99).
  • Liquidation of Late Models: With the help of File Shredder, I was able to quickly and effectively clean the drives and sell them to coworkers for $50 each. I also sold an old graphics card for $50… so that one piece of closet junk went away and I got something for it.
  • Dishwashing Delight: A new, quieter and -even better- EFFECTIVE dishwasher now resides in our kitchen. This was a mostly painless install except for the mysterious hole in the wall discovered behind the old dishwasher. It was as if somebody needed to open up the wall to access something…. except there wasn’t anything there. Actually, there was a drain pipe from upstairs, but there were no seams or other inputs that would explain the hole in the wall. It did explain why the cats were always starting at the bottom of the dishwasher. So, a chunk of drywall and some spackle later, another major rodent access point is removed. I must give a shout-out to the Kenmore dishwasher engineer who put the hex heads on the top of the threaded leveling feet so a socket wrench could be used to drive them up and down. Unfortunately, I must critique the access to the water inlet. The water line (copper tubing with compression fittings in our case) comes from behind the dishwasher and meets the inlet under the front left corner of the dishwasher. As the appliance is backed into the cabinet alcove, the tubing fits nicely around the pump/motor assembly to meet the inlet. Great so far. THe problem is the elbow on the inlet is now facing away from the installer (me). So I manage to thread the compression nut onto the fitting and start to tighten it… but I have to apply a wrench. The amount of clearance between the floor and the bottom of the dishwasher is such that I can get 1/12 of a turn from each stroke. Yes, 1/12 of a 6-sided nut. I have to turn the nut, remove the wrench, flip the wrench over, turn the nut, flip the wrench over and repeat. Good thing the crescent wrenches have an offset angle, huh (kudos to whichever engineer figured that out!!).
  • Finally, a Phone: Yes, I have finally submitted to the wireless communication revolution. K & I did some math and showed that the increase to her cel plan to add another line was less than our average long distance bill. Now we will use the cellphones exclusively to make long distance calls. In addition, most of our long distance calls are at night when the minutes are free. We have NOT shut off the land-line, but are considering the trade-offs for the future. For now, we get our broadband via DSL, so that would require a double utility switch. If you want to add me to your phone, add 1385 to K’s cell number to get mine. I will not promise that it will be active at all times.

Credit card rates got you down??

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Since Matt was nice enough to comment on the blog, I went digging through the archives at SynborskiFamily.

Anyhow, Matt has apparently figured out the secret to get whatever interest rates he wants from credit card companies. Yes, the tried and true method: sing Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach over the phone to the entire customer service call center.

You go girl. Just. So. HAWESOME.[1]

For this (and many other good reasons) I’ve added SynborskiFamily to the blog roll.

  1. Explanatory link reused from BadAstronomer who in turn gave credit to Whil Wheaton. Some language in the video. Oh yeah, I have no idea why FeedBurner has decided to treat this link like it’s an attachment. []

Fun with apples and other things.

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Nate enjoys apples, but it seems that he’s decided they’re a new artistic medium. Check out his particular sample:

Nate’s also learned to run behind a soccer ball. I’d say he was dribbling it, but he mostly follows it wherever it goes.

I guess its OK as long as it keeps him smiling.

Congratulations President-Elect Obama!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

As I was watching CNN pan around the enormous crowd in Chicago looking forward to celebrate the election of Senator Obama, I heard Nate cough slightly in his crib.

I realized then, that should these predictions hold (and it looks pretty certain), that Nate will grow up in an America where the President does not have the same skin color he does. Should President-Elect Obama serve for 8-years, it’s quite probable that Nate will carry this as the image of the first President he ever knew. [1]

That seems pretty significant to me, and I hope this is just one sign of the beginning of a new, less divided America.

Edit (11:33PM):
I just listened to Senator McCain’s concession speech. You know, if he had been speaking in positive gracious terms like that for the last 6 months, this election might have been much closer. I hope he does return to his more centrist roots and provides a rallying point for Republicans to unify with the Democratic majority. I’d love to see the centrists run this country for a change, instead of the flip-flopping polarized politics of the last 12 years.

Edit (5 Nov 7:20AM):
If you didn’t hear the speeches, I’m really sorry you missed them. Here are the transcripts:

  1. I’m guessing that at the age of 6, the President is not something that sticks in your head. []

You know what to do!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Putting away the dishes

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

This morning I was hastily running around the kitchen trying to throw together a crock pot recipe (that had way too many pre-crock pot steps) before heading out for the day. Nate was doing a great job of getting in my way and under my feet as usual. While I was chopping the vegetables and trying to prevent the bacon from burning, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Nate was playing in the dishwasher full of clean dishes. He loves to take the silverware out of the basket and play with it, and I have found spoons and forks in some very interesting places. I told him “No, no, put those back and close the door,” and went back to work, not really paying attention to whether he did or not.

Once I got to the point where everything was in the crock pot cooking away, I decided I’d unload the dishwasher. I opened the door and there was no silverware, and my first thought was “oh crap, I’m going to be tracking down silverware for months.” Imagine my surprise when I later went to get a spoon out of the drawer and found that all the silverware from the dishwasher had been shoved into the front of the drawer, and the drawer closed.

Thanks Nate for helping me unload the dishwasher this morning.