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About a year or so ago, we struck a deal with the storeman at one of the big glaziers, whereby he would supply us with spare timber from the huge packing crates they bring the plate glass in, in return for the odd bit of furniture made from said recycled timber.

So, today finished the big table he requested, in time for christmas. Fairly simple trestle table, sandwiched the bases of the legs, cheated and used glue and superscrews where the relatively soft and splitty wood wasn't up to a more complex joint. Table goes together with two pegged mortice and tenon joints, top just sits on the surface of the trestles, although he'll probably end up screwing it down.

Cooperative job, mainly by me, but also help from Nigel, Andy, John and Quentin, done in Nigel's garage.
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Duck penises are powered by Lymph. Who'd a thunk it!

(Caution, link contains video footage of graphic ballistic duck penii. In spirals, even.)
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I have just learned that Brian Mason has died, aged 92. I never knew him, but he was a scientist of exceptional skill and wide knowledge, and without his establishment of the Mason Trust fund, my honours project in 1994 would have been much more difficult, and my PhD 1995-2001 would have been almost impossible. I am not a particularly good scientist, and my publications record is execrable by dint of procrastination (My mapping in Chile 1995-98 is only just going to press this coming year), but what contributions I have made to science, would not have happened without the financial generosity of this man.
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It's show weekend: 9 years ago, beside the embers of a dying fire, under a stand of green oak trees, I warned a young lady about the lascivious proclivities of the male sex, then made a thoroughly indecent proposal. She didn't run away, but rather accepted with somewhat enthusiastic haste, and we haven't looked back :-)
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I had a rant here, but I just deleted it. Suffice to say, I had filtered it, but really decided I was just bitching, so knocked it on the head.

Instead, I'll repost that quote of Gen. Hammerstein-Equord from [ profile] etfb:

"I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!"

With the modifier that for stupid, in this evening's rant, I was probably aiming mostly at the Incompetent and Industrious subset thereof.
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Doing last load of the day, will be around at the new place tonight from 7. There may be beer and Pizza.

No net for a while after this point.
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Rant reposted from elsewhere:

There is a tendency in the Media to see false positives and patterns where there aren't any. This isn't helped by shonky media exposure hungry pseudoscientists saying any old thing about earthquake events being related when they aren't, or when their data may suggest a link but isn't rigorous enough to _show_ a link. NZ has hundreds of faults, many of them capable of 5's, 6's and 7's, and dozens of faults capable of 7's and 8's, and a handful of faults capable of 8's and 9's. The events in Samoa and Vanuatu are subduction related quakes on subduction zones that have yearly convergence rates of around 130mm and 91mm respectively, and thus have regular quakes of high magnitude. Most of these are fairly deep, so tend not to cause big surface effects and tsunami, but every 50 years or so, they do (the media has a memory of approximately a year, so they essentially react like a startled goldfish every time there's a moderate event); Vanuatu in particular is known for strings of magnitude 7s like yesterday as it redistributes stress. NZ has subduction convergence of around 45mm/year, so it takes longer to build up, but we do have regular 7s every decade or so, 6's every year or so, and 8's every century or so. Most of the time, they happen in out of the way areas, so nobody notices them much. Dusky sound was big, but there's fuck all in Fiordland to notice it. But we've had quakes that size in Wellington and Marlborough in the 19th century, which today would be easily Samoa or Padang size disasters, but then were minor because of the new settlement. Risk for NZ isn't related much to what happens in Samoa or Indonesia last week or even last year, or last decade, but rather is related to what happened in the last 100, 200, 500 or 1000 years _in_NZ_. It may be that a sufficiently large quake, such as the boxing day quake in Indonesia in '04, may be the trigger for faults a long way away that had already built up enough stress to go, but in in that case, it's really, really hard to prove that it was. Generally, if there's a few thousand km of separation between earthquake events, the main way of them being related to each other are because they happened on the same planet, and that's about all you can say.

Tea angle.

Oct. 5th, 2009 06:58 pm
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Because of the wonderful range of similar words with different meanings in the english language, because one 'steeps' a substance in water to make an infusion or tea, I tend to state things like 'my tea isn't steep enough'.

It strikes me that one could, indeed, probably make a device for measuring tea-angle, to see if it is steep enough. It would vary, of course, with the type of tea, but I think the diffraction angle of light passing through the tea would vary with the concentration of the solution - the stronger the tea, the greater the diffraction of light. Thus, it should be possible to create a device that would give you a slope angle for one's tea, to see if it was, indeed, steep enough.

I think this would be best done with lasers. Because.
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I'm off work with a cold.

So I'm downloading everything in This photoset of the Staffordshire Hoard


Sep. 20th, 2009 01:19 pm
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Lost the main drive last night. Looks unrecoverable but we have a geek working on it. Currently rebuilding all files from backup, but there'll be at least a few months worth missing of stuff that wasn't duplicated on other camera cards or external drives, but we may have lost most of our budget spreadsheets for the past six months or so.
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This morning, I woke up with Slobodan Milosevic's haircut. Definitely time for it all to come off again.
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Fuckit, house just evaporated. Delayed fuse, detonation due end of october.
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"If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!"

— John Waters
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Just had the call. I am now employed, as an engineering geological technician, but at a Scientist 1 level. Now to start the steep learning curve. (Although I've a lot of technical experience, and have worked in the engineering geology field, my primary qualifications are as an igneous petrologist/exploration geologist, but what the hey, there's a recession on and any job is a good job.)
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Probably late 1918, but relatively undamaged country, some walls standing and buildings still with roofs, not too much shelling had taken place. I was German, and I seemed to be an officer. Our position was under assault, and was crumbling badly. I had taken an 08/15 Maxim gun from some of our gunners who were badly wounded, and set it up in a temporary position. The fact that I, the officer, was operating the machine gun probably indicates just how screwed we were. There was only one belt of ammunition, so I was being frugal with it, short bursts, concentrating on the more coherent movements of the British, and officers if I could see them. As soon as I got the Maxim back into operation, I started taking fire, both rifle and MG, and I was sufficiently exposed as to feel bullets passing close. At some point we were flanked on the right, and although I managed to get the gun around to cover it, I took at least three hits doing so, one to the left leg and another two grazes to my right upper arm. Dream got a bit hectic then, but I discouraged another determined assault from the same direction, but the officer leading it was [ profile] pinkdiamond, Webley revolver in hand, whom I recognised by the colour of her hair flaming out behind her tin helmet. At this point my hindbrain said 'hey, you're not supposed to shoot her', so I put the remainder of the belt into the wall above her, showering fragments and brick dust, so she and her section took cover, and we retreated, ditching the now empty Maxim gun. At some point, after more fighting, some confused running under fire, I found myself diving into and sheltering nostril deep in a muddy culvert beneath a shattered bridge and a burned tree.

Then I woke up.
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Finished breaking down an oak chest of drawers, re-jointed it, fixed base of one drawer, replaced split and badly glued top planks, stripped and removed the bad glue job done by previous hamhander, finished of the sanding back they'd done, put it all back together, linseeded it, etc. Should do for another twenty years or so.
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I think in part one of the reasons I'm curmudgeonous and undecided on Global Warming, aside from being a geologist and thus generally wedded to a very long viewpoint (Save the planet? what, there's nothing the human race can do to actually damage the _planet_, short of actually maneuvering other planets to hit it), but also having had some degree of interaction with Freeman Dyson, whose astute discussions on science, life, nuclear weapons and global warming in a lecture some time back at Canterbury were so good that he strongly reinforced my opposition to AGW orthodoxy. Good autobiographical article on Freeman Dyson here

Blind Eee

Mar. 24th, 2009 09:57 pm
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Poked DSE today as to whether they can replace the screen of my blinded Eeepc. Short answer: no, because all they do is send defective machines back to Asus, and the combined shipping, worktime and part costs would probably add up to equal or more than the cost of just getting another Eeepc. As I have another functional one that I picked up for $250 from my last job in Oz, I don't need to do that, but it would have been nice to see if I could get it fixed for, say, half the price I paid for it.

Which is sort of annoying.

Machine still operates, and can be used as a desktop if I plug it into an external screen. Still miffed, though.

So, assembled Intertubes, can you think of anything to do with a functional but screenless Eeepc 900?
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