Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Year: 2006 (Page 1 of 7)

Dollar Coins and Vending Machines

I like vending machines and I wish they’d take dollar coins. They take dollar bills and that’s good, but have you ever tried to put a crumpled dollar bill into a vending machine. You have to go through all sorts of contortions to flatten it out and feed it in. And then it’ll spit it back out. You’ll try this five or six times until it takes it or not. Sometimes even a new dollar bill won’t feed properly. Or you don’t look at the illustration on which way to feed it until after say the third try. And sometimes they put the wrong illustration. How much easier it would be if they took dollar coins. Plunk, push, kerplunk.

I’ve seen different dollar coins growing up. My mom had a collection of silver liberty dollars. There was a Eisenhower dollar and a JFK half-dollar in circulation. Then there was the Susan B. Anthony and now the Sacajawa dollar. Neither the Susan nor the Sacajewa took off. Was it because we Americans are sexist and racist and wouldn’t use them? Or was it because they didn’t withdraw the paper dollar from circulation. Partly both. Coins can last thirty years in circulation before needing to be withdrawn. Paper doesn’t last so long.

I’ve seen the coins used in the UK, Switzerland and Europe (France, Holland, and Ireland) and they have 1 unit coins, pound, swiss franc, and euro. They even have 2 unit coins. Speaking of which I really miss the 2 dollar bill. It would be nice to have a 2 dollar coin.

Now I read that we are going to issue yet another dollar coin, this time with presidents. That’s great, but they need to pull dollar bills from circulation and encourage vending machines to take the coins. I’d like to see a Jefferson 2 dollar coin. That’d be cool.

Pond Scum

We have a koi pond in the backyard. It started life as a garden pond, but later owners added koi to it. Koi are a kind of giant goldfish which are a kind of carp. We have only three large abused koi, Red Troll, Black Troll, and Norbert. Norbert is red with black spots. Red Troll is white with red spots and Black Troll is, you guessed it, white with black spots. When Melissa moved into the house she named them trolls because they hung out under the little bridge. The pond is barbell shaped if the barbell was elongated and bent in a curve.

I said they were abused because they do not behave like normal koi. Normal koi are like dogs. They are happy to see you when you come out and feed them. They’ll even eat from your hands. Melissa inherited them when she bought the house. And she’s been taking care of them ever since. I occasionally help out, but, alas, she does most of the dirty work like cleaning out the fish gunk out of the filter barrel. I’ll skim the pond surface and bottom to get leaves and pecans and I’ll even fish out the occasional branch that falls in. I am going someplace with this story and it involves a snowstorm that occurred November 30. We have four inches of snow in the yard. Anyway back to the fish.

The surface of the koi pond froze over. During the day we noticed the water level going down in the pond. Melissa thought there was a tear in the pond liner. And we’d wait until the water level got low enough and thus expose the leak. I had the thought that maybe the pump was leaking and didn’t bother to check it. My bad. Just as it was getting dark I noticed that the water was even lower. Snow covered the yard and there was a bare patch by the pump. If the leak was in the liner then the water level would go down to leak, but if the leak were in the pump then it would pump all the water out.

Thus begins a three hour ordeal to save the fish. While we were out there cleaning and fixing, Mystery, our small black and white dog decided to venture out onto the pond’s ice. This did not make Melissa happy and we put the dog back in the house. The water was flowing out the the of the barrel. We unplugged the pump and began refilling the pond and made sure to put dechlorinator in the water. We then took the pump and barrel system apart to clean and repair it. The sludge hadn’t been cleaned out in a while. It looked like a dark chocolate shake. Yum.

Mel had cleaned the shredded polyvynil and filter and we washed out the barrel. We had to remove it from its raised platform to do that. After hooking it back up the we discovered the water still went over the top. Turns out the barrel wasn’t adjusted quite right. There is a right angle pipe that comes out the top of the barrel and a hose empties into the pond over a rocky grotto-like wall. It was no longer flowing out as fast as it was being pumped out. The opening was angled down and up, so the water had to work hard to get out and the decided to fill up to the top of the barrel. Bad.

I put some cardboard as shims to angle barrel so the right angle opening was down and forward. The water finally levelled off but we didn’t take any chances. We added a hose to the outlet and put it in the pond. When it warms up some more we’ll get some plywood and raise the barrel even more and angle it properly.

I started this post shortly after it happened was going to go into more detail but got lazy and wrote what you got here. Maybe. I’ll rewrite it later. Yeah, right.

Nanotechnology vs. Bigfoot

This is more of a grab bag. I heard two very interesting podcasts, one on Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch) and one on nano-soldering iron. So the title of this post is very misleading because they have little to do with each other. I listen to lots of podcasts. In fact I even produce one called the Conestoga Podcast for our local science fiction convention in Tulsa, OK. I’m proud of the fact we are the 2nd convention podcast after Balticon. I need to survey to see what other con podcasts are out there now. Anyway back to interesting podcasts.

Podcast 1) nano soldering iron. The word nano is much abused these days because it’s sexy, trendy. Anyway but this is real nano-tech. The implications are macro. Richard Feynman is the grandfather of nanotechnology. Anway, this nano soldering iron can repair microchips. I used to do some soldering when I repaired two-way radios and I was just getting into surface mount repair for very tiny on the millimeter size for resistors etc. I never had the proper setup but I managed to do a few repairs if I was very careful. So I was much impressed with this device.

The major implication of this device is on a macroscopic, nay, a global scale. It costs billions of dollars to build a microchip factory and they take up acres and acres, not to mention the use of toxic chemicals and the destruction of the environment to get things like coltan mining for tantalum. With a device like this a microchip factory could be placed in a shoebox, literally reducing the footprint of semiconductor manufacturing to the size of a footprint. Well a pair of them anyway.

Podcast 2) bigfoot. Yes, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, that elusive chick in the hairy ape suit as seen in the movie. I heard a science friday about Sasquatch and I was impressed. The scientist interviewed presented some convincing evidence that Bigfoot may indeed exist. I know I was just a shocked as you are now. Does that mean the Loch Ness monster, UFOs (as aliens from outer space or another dimension), and Yeti exist too? No. I forgot to mention crop circles. Not them either. Crop circles are proven hoaxes. There is no evidence for Nessie and one famous photo has been revealed to be a hoax. As for UFOs as extraterrestrials/extradimensionals, I have only this to say. With the vast improvements in optical technology why do we have we only gone from fuzzy film to fuzzy digital video? So that leaves Sasquatch. I thought it was a proven hoax.

Apparrently not.

There are plenty of bigfoot hoaxes. So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Jane Goodall said she wanted to believe they exist and that they do. So here you have a primate expert putting her two cents in. She could be wrong but that’s how science works. Meldrum who was interviewed on Science Friday talked about the famous Patterson-Gimlin film and that he’s convinced it’s not a hoax. There are articles on how difficult it would have been to fake in 1967 when it was taken. That is not proof. It’s like the evidence for water on Mars (past and present). We have enough evidence to warrant further investigation. Something is there. It needs to be explored further. So as with the film something is there and needs to be investigated further.

Today the film could be produced with CGI. I’d like to see a reproduction using a costume using today’s technology and camera tricks. Obviously we need proof that Sasquatch exists not to establish the film is not a hoax. If it could be proved it wasn’t a hoax something hard to that’s not enough. The creature shown has pendulous breasts and a saggital crest. This does seem to smack of Piltdown hoaxing. And it was filmed at Bluff Creek. Ironic location? And now I find this article about Patterson. It’s a review of a book that claims Patterson was a con man.

I’m reading all this information on the Internet. So it’s hard to distinguish the claims because both make convincing arguments based on their evidence. I don’t know if Bigfoot exists but I hope it does though as I read more the convincing evidence seems less convincing. I am willing to continue to explore the issue.

My other speculation is this and probably the least likely: Human and Chimpanzee DNA is very close. They could produce offspring but no one has tried. Nor should they. Horse and Donkey DNA is further apart than Humans and Chimps and they can produce mules. How far apart is Gorilla and Human DNA? Could they produce live offspring? What would a Human-Gorilla hybrid look like? Sasquatch? It might make an interesting science fiction story.

In the end I hope Bigfoot/Sasquatch exists that there is some large elusive primate roaming the Pacific Northwest, but if proven that’ll be a sad day. There are implications for environmental and habitat protection. Someone will probably go and kill one or more. And the hordes will descend on their range and habitat disrupting their way of life.

Update – I am somewhat dissapointed but upon further research I appear to be wrong. Just because I heard it on Science Friday doesn’t make it true. I decided to check what a reputable skeptic source had to say about Bigfoot (Bigfoot at 50) and it doesn’t look very promising. Just because I’d like something to exist doesn’t mean it does, sigh. At least I can use it as a possible story idea. Oh, well Arthur Conan Doyle the creator of the worlds greatest fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, believed in fairies.

Your Drafts

I currently have six post drafts. I think some of them are just notes. Some are to be fleshed out at a later undetermined date. The urge to blog is probably the same urge to grafitti “Kilroy was here” except we say a lot more and think that someone might actually care. I am writing for myself but pretending as if I had an audience.

When you write for someone else you have to figure out how best to communicate whatever it is that you are trying to say. And it helps to clarify in your own mind whatever it is that you are trying to think about. John Gardner described writing fiction as a kind of thought process. I’m not writing fiction but I am writing and it is a kind of thought process. I think. Maybe. Maybe not. I’m a little confused.

Where was I? Oh, yeah the drafts. The drafts are pretty sketchy and not quite ready for prime time. I feel compelled to at least complete a few of them. I think they are worthy topics to write about even though there is no audience. I’ll also write new ones for this public journal.

It’s weird writing a public journal. One that theoretically that could be read by anyone but isn’t. I’ve read other journals and they say things that well just aren’t appropriate for a public journal. They mostly involve bodily functions. They whine incessently about stupid stuff. Or they say bad things about people they know or have known. I may do that but I won’t mention them by name. I probably won’t at all because, you know what, they may read it and get mad.

I’m sure the number of drafts I have will go up and down. I just need to clear out the backlog on the ones I find most interesting. Stay tuned. Or not.

I’m becoming a blogaddict

I’m beginning to like the sound of my own blogging voice. Something is terribly wrong. I am actually starting to like blogging. I suppose it’s better than blearghing—drinking to excess then puking. Someone stop me before I blog again.

Some of my posts actually seem coherent. I do see a few grammatical misteaks and punctuation errors. I might go back and fix ’em. I don’t know. I suppose if I’m really bored. Anyway it’s good practice. I’ll pretend to write for others even though no one will actually read it—which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

I know what attracts me to this is the typography of this particular WordPress skin. It makes my writing look good even if it isn’t. It looks professional. Scary?

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