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A daring adventure, or nothing

Security is mostly a superstition.

9/26/11 10:29 am - 28th Anniversary of No Nuclear Armageddon

Hey everyone, it's Stanislav Petrov Day!

28 years ago, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov trusted his instincts and experience over a new automated defense radar. Colonel Petrov may have saved most life on Earth, but the Soviets were worried about the potential for embarrassment, and reassigned Petrov to a less sensitive post. In 1990, General Yury Votintsev published his memoirs, detailing the incident and Colonel Petrov's world-saving discipline.

Thanks again, Mr. Petrov.

6/20/11 01:48 pm - Andy reviews Falling Skies

Andy: Oh by the way, I watched the Falling Sky premiere.
Andy: Pretty good overall. Gritty and a good amount of action.
Andy: The main character does have a young son (like maybe 10) who I despise. I hate every scene he's in. He whines a lot. Also I hate children in action stories in general.
Casey: The Maltese Spielberg.
Andy: Heh not quite *that* gritty.
Casey: Maltese Spielberg: Any child introduced for the purpose of giving enemies something to threaten and heroes something to protect.
Andy: oh.
Andy: ok yeah
Casey: Essentially a macguffin that back-talks.
Andy: Yeah.
Andy: The aliens have ordinary soldiers and also battle mechs.
Andy: the mechs are about 3m tall and can be destroyed by heavy ordinance.
Casey: So it's Battlestar Galactica.

5/26/11 09:54 pm - Dismal Pixar

We just watched Toy Story 3. As usual, Pixar hits it out of the park.

At the same time, this is not a children's movie. At one point I joked, "Toy Story 3: Faces of Death."

5/16/11 03:56 pm - Nerds!

Casey: I also rode three days last week.
Andy: Man that's a long ride.
Casey: It took twelve parsecs.
Andy: hehe

5/13/11 10:36 pm - Rum.

I made a mango rum slushy for Mary, and eggnog milkshakes for Audrey and myself. I had planned to put vanilla rum in my milkshake, but I forgot. This is probably a sign that I didn't need any rum. Also, I had a cinnamon avalanche while making mine, so it came out more a cinnamon milkshake than an eggnog milkshake.

Good, though!

5/11/11 10:28 am - There I Fixed It!

My photo of the forklift at John H Tway & Son Blacksmithing has made the front page of There I Fixed It! Seeing how much they shrink it, I kind of wish I had cropped it better.

Also, visitor globe!

3/30/11 10:44 am - Feeding

I just finger-fed Owen 10 ml of pumped milk using a supplemental nursing syringe. It was fascinating to both of us, I think.

3/23/11 12:44 pm - Owen is home

We're home. We're exhausted. More later.

3/17/11 10:00 pm - Roosterless

Don Gallo has moved on to new living quarters in Brisbane, where he'll be even more free-range than he was previously. He should be quite happy with his new flock!

3/14/11 01:53 pm - Daylight Wasting Time

I am not a fan.

3/13/11 03:19 pm - Chicken

So, we have another rooster. We just can't live with a rooster right now

He's a fine-looking bird, pure Ameraucana as nearly as we can tell, and not at all hostile to humans. He runs away from rabbits and the other hens.

We tried to re-home this fellow on BackyardChicken.com, but got no takers. Now we're looking to de-home him, no questions asked. If anyone wants this chicken, we'll transport him up within the Bay Area or mail him at his new "owner's" expense.

3/8/11 12:00 pm - More Brainish Today

This morning as I was getting ready to shower, [Unknown LJ tag] asked, "How do you feel?" I replied, "Like I haven't had a migraine in the last 24 hours!" Audrey said, "It's nice when we can lower our baselines." As she got out of the king-sized bed, she said, "Oh hey, it's like I haven't had my hips in the same position all night!" I grinned, and echoed, "It's nice when we can lower our baselines."

mactavish took zozoe to Central Veterinary today. Dr. Bentham diagnosed her recurring mouth pain as an epulis, a common type of oral tumor. We caught it early, so removal should be a simple outpatient surgery. She's under general anaesthesia now, having it removed, and having her nails trimmed. Once she's less groggy, she'll have no idea why she's so happy. We try to keep her life simple.

I have three and a half days left (at most) before my paid family leave starts. I'm trying to leave all of my work in a functional state. Part of that is going to involve documenting other people's processes, just so I can remember what the hell I was doing when I left.

3/7/11 11:23 am - Augh.

Had a massive crippling migraine last night. With Concerta, those come about once every two months. Without it, they were almost a weekly event. I'll take what I can get.

Today, I'm post-dromal as all hell. I have to reinstall the development server before anybody can get anything done. Wish them luck. ;)

I had intended to declutter my room last weekend, but at no point was I truly functional. Maybe I'll have the brainpower to move boxes around a couple of evenings this week.

Baby is due in SIX DAYS. We are not ready. I consider this a good sign - had we deluded ourselves into thinking we were ready, we would be in for an even ruder shock.

2/22/11 06:09 pm - New (short?) Story Idea: Tracker

It's been over a year since I finished the first draft of Sanity, and while that story still needs a nearly complete re-write, I'm feeling a renewed desire to flex my creative muscles. This is a high-level synopsis of a story that's been bouncing around in my head this afternoon.


A man learns to fight. A woman learns to feel.Collapse )

1/31/11 11:20 am - Bootstrap Episode 1.1: 3% complete

Wow I'm wiped today.

Because of the rain, we didn't want to spend the whole day in Napa, but Andy and I went up alone in the afternoon. In retrospect, I'm glad we didn't drag our SME up there, because we found only one piece of obsidian larger than my little finger... and that one piece was so absurdly convenient that we're not sure anyone will buy how we found it! We have maybe 20 seconds of usable footage from the trip, including a short description of the location.

Next steps:

We need to find someplace that has more obsidian, or someone who lives closer to the California/Oregon border who can take pictures/video of it in the wild and send it to us (we'd cover all expenses, of course).

We need to find large pieces of chert or flint. Or see above.

We need to take our bounty of mineral wealth down to our SME's home so he can show us how to turn it into tools.

We expect 60 seconds of intro, outro, and bumpers. To reach our goal of a ten-minute episode, we'll need about 9 minutes of footage. We have 3.7% of that. Counting editing time, I'm going to round that down to 3%.

On the bright side, we do have about ten minutes of blooper reel. Maybe I'll hack together a "preview video" to generate buzz.

Andy: "We're in Deer Park. Like four people live in this town, and all four of them are here &#@(^ing with this shot."

1/26/11 02:44 pm - Bootstrap Costumes

Andy and I are filming the first episode of Bootstrap this weekend. I'd like to shoot a scene where he and I are dressed in classic Star Trek tunics, but the only store that has them wants $90 for the pair. Do any of my nerdy Bay Area friends have classic tunics in red and/or gold we can borrow for the weekend?

1/23/11 09:04 pm - Bootstrap Update

We have made fire!

Andy and I tested a few methods of baking bread over open fire. Wrapping dough around a stick worked reasonably well, but we didn't wait long enough to make proper Damper.

I have also created a wiki on project-bootstrap.org. It will also shortly have a forum.

1/18/11 09:15 pm - Viral Video

Found: Lost Pictures of New York Blizzard.

1/17/11 03:34 pm - Bootstrap Update

Andy, Audrey, Mary, and I discussed the particulars of Project Bootstrap over the weekend. We've clarified the scope of the project, and decided that a loaf of leavened bread would be a better macguffin for the first project. It seems simple, and is very easy to relate to, so it will help to show the depth of infrastructure we're trying to highlight. We've also clarified the rules. Information is free. Transportation is free, because we don't want to film ourselves walking for ten hours. Everything else that touches the project has to be made from our own hands, from materials found in the natural environment. We are cheating in one specific way, because I don't want to fly to Turkey to harvest wild einkorn wheat.

Each "episode" will focus on one specific rung in our technological ladder. We'll start by making stone tools, guided by a flint-knapping expert in San Jose (who will incidentally be my son's grandfather). For each subsequent step, we'll discuss the advance with a similar subject-matter expert, focusing not only on the methods, but on the history behind the advance.

Breaking down the project, we have five basic components: Flour, water, yeast, salt, and heat.

  • Flour
    • We need to grow wheat, which means we need to acquire wheat seeds. If possible, we'll find a local farming co-op that produces einkorn or emmer wheat, interviewing an expert in ancient horticulture on the cultivation and domestication of the seed grasses of the Fertile Crescent.
      • We need basic hand tools to till the soil, work our crops, and build larger objects. Our aforementioned knapping expert can show us how to make knives and axes from flint and obsidian, with bone and horn handles.
      • We need vessels to carry water. Gourds grow wild on the west coast, though it might be a bit of a hike to find the nearest patch. A California native plant specialist could help us find them, as well as explain how early man put these plants to work.

    • We need to grind wheat to produce flour. Ohlone tribesmen used conveniently-shaped rocks as grinding stones. Hopefully a local anthropologist can help us explain how they chose and used these stones as we survey the landscape for suitable tools.

  • Water
    • The water with which we irrigated our crops is almost ready to be an ingredient!
    • While this seems like the simplest step, we have an additional challenge posed by our sanitation and water safety standards. We need to make river water not only safe to drink, but safe to foster yeast growth! While the yeast grows, anything else introduced into the bread will also grow. The Ohlone tribes had a method of boiling water without having metal or stone pots, which we'll try to duplicate - they held stones in a fire until they were extremely hot, then submerged them in watertight woven bowls until the water inside boiled. To eliminate Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium, we'll need to boil the water for ten minutes (at sea level).

  • Yeast
    • This is a deceptively simple step. Yeast is everywhere! Active dry yeast is highly concentrated, but it's not hard to pick up yeast from the environment. One way is to ferment yeast from the skins of fruits and vegetables. Another is to simply make dough in a covered container, and let the yeast grow. In fact, these were the only methods used until 1876, when Flieschmann's introduced refined yeast.

  • Salt
    • This is arguably optional, but surprisingly easy and historically interesting. There are several ways we could gather salt from the environment.
      • Evaporative recovery is easy and quick, if we have fire. This would have to wait until we got the oven built, but we can boil down seawater and leave the brine to evaporate.
      • The Ohlone placed sticks in the mud near the San Francisco Bay, which is now home to the Cargill salt flats. The sticks would slowly crust over with salt, which the Ohlone used as currency to buy food and tools from neighboring tribes.

  • Heat
    • We think a cob oven is the simplest way to generate the heat needed for baking. A cob oven requires sand to build, wood to cook, and two materials to build: Cob, and firebrick.
      • Cob is a mixture of clay soil and chopped straw. We'll have straw when we've grown our wheat, and our house is built on some of the densest clay soil I've ever had to dig a post-hole through.
      • Firebrick is more complicated, and is one step of many that we haven't completely thought through...

1/14/11 02:27 pm - Yet Another Project That Will Probably Go Nowhere

"Project Bootstrap"

For a long time, I've considered producing a series of videos about the technology, infrastructure, and labor involved in creating the tools we use on a daily basis. The narrative would start with a couple of guys building the most basic tools, equipped with nothing but the shirts on their backs (and safety gear), and end with the creation of some arguably simple device. For the purposes of explanation, I've been using "a clock" as the device, but the final decision will depend on how long we want to make the series.

If I ever get this project off the ground, I'll need a director, a director of photography, a sound engineer, and an editor. Andy and I would be the "featured" engineers, interviewing whichever historians, anthropologists, and specialists we can convince to appear in the series.

If you have experience (or would like to have experience) in one of those roles, and you would like to waste an arseload of time with us, let me know. In the unlikely event that the project ever earns income, I'm happy to share it with the initial crew.

1/11/11 05:24 pm - Kick that man in the SCIENCE!

The author of a now-retracted study linking autism to childhood vaccines expected a related medical test to rack up sales of up to $43 million a year, a British medical journal reported Tuesday.

The venture "was to be launched off the back of the vaccine scare, diagnosing a purported -- and still unsubstantiated -- 'new syndrome,'" BMJ reported Tuesday. A prospectus for potential investors suggested that a test for the disorder Wakefield dubbed "autistic enterocolitis" could produce as much as 28 million pounds ($43 million U.S.) in revenue, the journal reported, with "litigation driven testing" of patients in the United States and Britain its initial market.

So Wakefield pushes bad science linking vaccines to autism, and patents a test purported to identify autism caused by vaccines, with lawsuits and malpractice insurance payouts covering the cost of the test. This is a man who needs a court restraining order barring him from coming within 100 meters of any science or scientific findings.

1/11/11 09:40 am - Not By NASA, But It Should Be.

The Frontier Is Everywhere

A video made by YouTube user damewse, with no direct connection to NASA, based on Michael Marantz' video and musical interpretation of Carl Sagan's monologue, "The Pale Blue Dot".

1/9/11 08:16 pm - Look who comes crawling back.

My Facebook account is thoroughly deleted. I hadn't done much there in a while anyway.

In the three and a half months since my last post...

I was laid off by Iron Mountain.
I was interviewed by several companies (including one round of phone interviews with Pixar).
I was offered a job by Grid Net, which I accepted. I started on Monday.

In the seven months since my last *substantive* post, my girlfriend, my wife, and I successfully initiated the process of adding a baby to a three-parent family. mactavish will adopt the baby after it's born in March, and she and I will be the baby's primary parents. caesia will be the baby's other mother, and primary nursing source. She will not be sewing buttons over her eyes...

...At least not on purpose.

9/26/10 04:25 pm - 27 Years of Stanislav Petrov

It's time for my annual post - Stanislav Petrov Day!

It has been 27 years since then Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov chose to act in defense of world peace, by taking no action at all. Colonel Petrov, who was familiar with the Soviets' nuclear early warning system and all of its potential flaws, correctly assessed that his data were inaccurate when they showed a single ballistic missile launch in the U.S. It's possible that by correctly identifying this false alarm, Colonel Petrov saved 90% of the life on Earth from a massive nuclear holocaust.

Once again I thank you, Mr. Petrov.

5/7/10 11:13 am - OMG Update

I had a phone interview with the "OMG" company. They want to bring me in for an interview. The interview will include a technical presentation on a topic of my choosing, with a question-and-answer session.

5/5/10 04:56 pm - Monthly Update

My two-month contract at Palm will not be extended. This is unfortunate, but in a case of bizarrely awesome timing, a company in the "OMG" neighborhood of geek prestige has pinged me about open QA positions.

Mary and I are leaving on a cruise on May 28. My last day at Palm is May 14. I have a lot of nothing planned for those two weeks. I don't know if I'll be able to get to it all.

4/23/10 11:12 am - Orbital Force Deployment

A prototype spaceplane developed for the US military has been launched into orbit from Florida.

It's half the size of an F-16, and has a payload bay "about the size of a pickup truck bed"

That could fit one soldier and enough gear for an extended deployment. Put a fleet of these in orbit, and you could deploy those troops by HALO parachute anywhere in the world, and glide the X-37s to an airfield hundreds of miles away.

4/5/10 11:56 am - (Something New) x (Three Weeks)

My grandmother now knows something we don't. I'll miss her, but I realize that I've been missing her for several years now. We've said goodbye so many times that I'm not quite sure when this one will "take".

Our rooster has also gone to a better place. In his case, it's a large yard in Modesto with about 14 other chickens, and more to come. Our flock was just too small for him, and once he gets established with the other roosters, I think he'll be a lot happier. Our hens seem relieved.

My car's radiator cap isn't broken, and as far as I can tell, never was. It was on wrong. When I replaced it, I installed it exactly how the mechanic had left the old one, which I later realized was a quarter-turn too loose. I think he just wasn't finished looking at it. This presumption is reinforced by the 3/4" impact wrench extension I found under the hood. I'll try to swing by tomorrow morning and drop that off.

I'm settling in at Palm, and getting a decent SDK test harness together. I need to find some public domain sound and images that I can use, just in case it gets released as a sample app. Andy and I are spending some of our lunch hours developing a card game that we've been working on since college. Back then, it was a slow and overcomplicated board game about sex. Now it's a quick and streamlined card game about politics. Every change made sense at the time...

I still play eRepublik a lot. I tried the political and business side of things, but what I really enjoy is the military, especially the way the eUSA has organized it. I spent the last three months working as a junior officer in the US Training Corps, but when I got busy at Palm, I moved to the regular Army to be a grunt for a while. My third day there, two senior officers asked me if I wanted to be a drill sergeant. It was flattering, but I'm still too busy at work and at home to devote that kind of time to an online game.

Taking Matt's advice, I've made a couple of batches of cookies using pureed oatmeal. I really like the way it changes the texture and flavor. I also made a batch using some quick-and-dirty measurements, which lead me to use about ten times as much cloves as I'd intended. I kinda liked it, but not as much as Mary did. We both really liked the next batch, which used excessive quantities of ginger.

3/16/10 11:05 am - Work, Car, Chickens, Stuff

I started work at Palm yesterday. Again. I was last here in 1996, when we were first deploying the "Email" app to PalmOS 2.0. Now I'm testing the native app SDK for webOS. The first day was relatively painless, as various bureaucratic structures fell into place. Today, I can actually get some work done.

My car has been losing coolant. Yesterday it shifted from "losing" to "evacuating". I had to stop on 880 to investigate, and I determined that coolant was leaping from the radiator cap. When I stopped, a tow truck from the Road Patrol stopped behind me. The driver was polite, but without AAA, the best he could do was tow my car off of the freeway. That was enough, fortunately, to cool the engine enough to work on. I had a gallon of water in the car, because I'm capable of learning, which I used to top up the coolant and get back on the road. I made it to Palm only 20 minutes late.

I now have a new radiator cap, but I believe the car is still losing coolant, so there are other leaks somewhere. On my way home, I saw and smelled coolant vapor. I called jemstone and requested emergency docking clearance, which he quickly granted. Unfortunately, I forgot that you have to exit eastbound 237 to get to eastbound 237, so I had to schlep about a mile down 880 and come back, but the car seemed none the worse for wear. We discussed Mass Effect 2 and various bonus bits while I waited for my car to cool. Once it was filled, I got back on the road. There were no further incidents, but I won't take it on any critical trip until I've had time to thoroughly diagnose the coolant leak.

Mary and I bought five baby chicks on Thursday, and we're trying to socialize them to accept human contact. Mary tells me they burrowed into her hair yesterday, so it seems to be working.

My brain is out of shape. After my first workday, I got home at about 8 p.m., and was asleep by 10. I slept solidly until the rooster woke me up at 5:30, then intermittently until 7.

12/20/09 09:51 am - Use Force!

A steam catapult accelerates a 20,000 kg fighter to 266 kph in 2 seconds. That's 739 kilonewtons, combining the catapult and the fighter's engines on full burn. Assuming the F/A 18C's 79.2 * 2 Kn engines, the catapult is producing 580 Kn over two seconds.

A Schweizer SGS 2-32 has a max launch mass of 608 kg. That catapult, assuming the SGS were modified to accept 65.2 tons of force on the tow hook, would accelerate the glider to a speed of 957 kph over the space of .27 seconds. The pilot would experience 97 g's during that .27 seconds.

Starbuck eat your heart out.

11/21/09 10:54 am - I'm On My Way!

Casey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bir_Tawil
Casey: "This is perhaps the only land area of the world except Marie Byrd Land in Antarctica which is not claimed by any state."
Casey: I should publically declare myself King of Bir Tawil and see if anyone reacts.
Andy: Time to make our own nation.
Casey: You can be my grand vizier.
Andy: How long would you like me to wait before scheeming to kill you?
Andy: I mean, surely a ramp-up period is in order. I can't just go after you on day 1.
Casey: Nanoseconds.
Andy: oh. Well, ok
Casey: I expect you to be standing over my corpse or imprisoned by the end of my coronation.
Andy: allrightey.
Casey: I announced my sovereignty on Facebook.
Andy: .
Casey: Now to plunder my nation's rich natural resources.
Andy: http://www.lomo-expedition.de/PK_Nishki_2004_02_28_Sand_-_Sand_-_Sand....jpg
Andy: enjoy

11/19/09 09:38 am - Das Moot

Last night I had a dream that was moderately to strongly bizarre. I was confronting a legion of werewolves who had decided that they no longer needed to hide from humanity, and were causing havoc and mayhem. I offered them "one last chance" at a peaceful coexistance, and when they refused, I unveiled my secret armada.


An unlikely alliance? Perhaps. The remnants of the national socialist party had apparently infiltrated the real estate market, and converted hundreds of buildings into mobile war machines. The Cursed Chosen, many of whom had been alive for centuries, were understandably upset to be working with the Nazis, but they acknowledged the greater werewolf threat. Halfway through the battle, the two "allies" inevitably turned on each other. The werewolves were driven into hiding, and the Realtor Nazis were wiped out because their Brownstone Panzers were horribly inefficient and quickly ran out of fuel.

Yes, this qualifies as "moderately to strongly bizarre" on the scale of Casey's Subconscious.

11/15/09 02:10 pm - Sanity, Epilogue

Sanity, EpilogueCollapse )

11/5/09 12:40 pm - Inspired by lesliepear

11/5/09 12:09 pm - Skyrates are very silly people.

What does AC do?

11/3/09 02:38 pm - Nerds!

Casey: You know how, when you select a building and click "Upgrade", it goes through a few transitional frames, then is magically finished?
Andy: Sure
Casey: About an hour ago, I went to the men's room, and there were two new faucets in boxes sitting next to the sinks.
Casey: Just now, I went in again, and one of the boxes was opened, the faucet mostly installed.
Casey: I never saw anyone doing anything with them.
Andy: Next time you go, it'll be done!
Andy: Oh shit.

10/30/09 11:32 am - "Evil" Casey

Can we certify that we're leveraging our strengths to maximize shareholder value?

10/22/09 04:25 pm - Look out! It's an update!

Things Happened.

I'm settling in at my new job. I have the cushiest position I've ever held. My primary role is load and performance testing, which occupies a tiny fraction of my time and makes me look like a f*****g miracle worker. Data analysis on a rendering engine? Yeah, I can do that. When I'm not load testing, I'm the lead on one project, and basically "backup" on all the rest. I've been asked more than once why I'm doing QA instead of software development. These developers are used to meeting junior level QA engineers, many of whom haven't yet learned how their mindsets can best contribute, and some of whom will probably end up developing. I explained that I just can't wrap my head around contributing to a large, collaborative codebase, but *breaking* said codebase is as natural as breathing.

I've been taking Concerta for three months. The week I started, I had a few migraines. Then they stopped. I haven't had a migraine in nearly three months. Concerta is a Schedule II controlled stimulant, and I've been noticing elevated heart rate and (I think) blood pressure. Tonight, I'm stopping at Sears to buy a cast-iron skillet, and I'll look for a sphygmomanometer while I'm there.

Audrey helped me design a full chicken coop using the recycled lumber we picked up from a couple who tore out their deck. I was originally planning a simple nesting box, but it's getting cold, and a dark, insulated living space might shut that damned rooster up for a while. I have all the parts now, and I'm just waiting for a chunk of free time during which I have both dry weather and stamina to drive screws into planks.

10/5/09 09:40 am - Okay Then

I just got an email from our landlord. He won't be able to do anything with the house for at least two years, because of the continuing absurdity of the real estate market.

(plans some improvements...)

10/3/09 11:48 pm - All I Want

Please click this to help me express my displeasure with HP. http://is.gd/3VOBW

9/29/09 12:40 pm - Science Rules!*

A few minutes ago, mactavish asked, totally offhand, "How tall are those trees out there? A hundred feet?"

I looked out, and said, "Close enough for anyone who needs a rough guess, yeah."

She nodded, and went about her day, bringing food to the chickens, and trying to figure out why the sheriffs outside were so enthusiastic about their latest traffic stop.

I pondered for a moment, then began gathering materials.

A 50-foot tape measure
3 feet of 3/4" PVC pipe
Packing tape
A camera tripod

I washed the decades of accumulated grime out of the pipe, and taped it to the head of the tripod. I set the tripod about 50 feet from the tree, and aimed the pipe at the top. I had Mary mark the point on the ground where the pipe was aimed in the other direction. At this point, one of the deputies approached to see what we were up to. When I explained, he asked, "What do you do for a living that you know how to do that?" I was stumped for a moment, because he might has well have asked, "What size shirt do you wear that you know math?" I answered, "Software engineer," and that seemed an adequate explanation. "Nerd" would have been a more comprehensive, though less accurate answer.

I headed over to the fence, and started looking for ways to measure to the trunk, which was on the neighbors' side of the fence. I tried putting the tape through the fence, and using the spool to anchor it, but that was a bit unstable. Luckily, the neighbor was in the yard, and when I explained what I was up to, he offered to hold the spool against the tree. In retrospect, I should have had him hold the end, but the spool was already there.

I pulled the tape out, and he let me know when I had reached 50 feet. I measured 14 feet from there to the marker for a total of 64 feet, or 768 inches. The bottom of the pipe was coincidentally 24 inches from the marker, so Mary and I measured the height at that point, and got 32 inches.

Trigonometry tells us that a right triangle 24 inches wide and 32 inches tall has the same angle as a triangle 768 inches wide and the height of that tree, and thus the same ratio between those two sides. In other words:

32/24 = x/768

Where x is the height of the tree. Multiplying both sides by 768:

32/24 * 768 = x
x = 1024

The tree is 1024 inches, or 85 feet 4 inches tall.

Back off man, I'm a scientist.

*pun intended

9/28/09 11:46 am - Solvent

I'm leaping headlong into a short contract with a less-than-spectacular salary. It'll keep us solvent for a while. I start on Wednesday.

9/26/09 03:35 pm - Happy Stanislav Petrov Day!

26 years ago, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov correctly identified a missile attack warning by the United States as a false alarm. Had he reported the warning to his superiors, they might have ordered a retaliatory strike, triggering a global nuclear holocaust. By doing nothing, one man may have saved the world.

Thank you, Mr. Petrov. I have few heroes left, and you stand tall among them.

9/25/09 01:14 pm - A Week in Words

A moderately concise description of the events of September 19-24, 2009.Collapse )

9/18/09 07:33 pm - Use Force!

I have joined the Cheddar Monk Academy and achieved the rank of Padawan!

Some of my exploits are documented visually.

9/17/09 11:08 am - Geekotourism

"Megatron Power", by thehoodwatch

9/15/09 08:21 am - Monopolizing

I now own Timothy Drive and Gonzaga Court, the two streets where I grew up.

Those last two words may be a euphemism.

9/9/09 07:03 am - Shortpacked


9/7/09 02:00 pm - Sanity, Chapter 4

This got a lot longer than I intended. I plan to tighten it up a bit, but I might eventually split it into two chapters. There's still one to go, but this is the Big Reveal and the climax.

Sanity, Chapter 4Collapse )

9/6/09 11:17 am - Accidental Family

In addition to two-plus humans, two dogs, and four chickens, our home accomodates a variety of wild and feral life. One example is a black and white cat who might be feral, or might just live with one of our neighbors. I call the cat "he", though we have no idea about his actual gender. DJ and Zoe become... agitated... when they see this cat. I've chased him away a few times, until I accidentally chased him into traffic, and he almost got hit. Since then, I've tried to keep him out of the dogs' line of sight, but generally let him have the run of the yard.

This morning, he stalked across the front lawn, where our chickens live. If he ever cared about the chickens, he certainly doesn't now. Perhaps he realized quickly that their trailer is more trouble than the chickens are worth, or maybe they don't register as prey to a cat half their size.

A few minutes later, he sauntered away, holding a dead mouse in his teeth.

I shouted to Mary that we had a mouser. We're still planning to set a trap for him, just so we can get him to a vet who can see if he has a family, and verify that he's healthy and neutered. This place is hard enough for its current feral population without more kitten factories running around.
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