Thursday, December 30, 2010

ISSwave - 30 December 2010 - 17:29 - Shelly Lake Dam

If the sky is not cloudy at 5:29PM Today I'll snap a picture of the Northwest Horizon ... Where according to I will be able to see the International Space Station just above the horizon.

Here is the web page for ISSwave "" Here is how you do it:

[1] Go to and enter your latitude/longitude and click on the link that will find when and where from your location the International Space Station will be visible.

[2] Send a "tweet" in the following format: "[your message] #ISSwave [your zip code] US" leave out the double quotes and replace the [stuff] with your stuff.

Once you do the 'tweet' your 'wave' will show up on the web site map.

If you live outside the united states you can still do this. If you do not have a 'twitter' account you can still do this by sending the site an email message.

And you can use other sites than to figure out when and where to look for the International Space Station in your area.

Here is a graphic of the details of the pass for my location (this afternoon).

Well it was cloudy - But - I still went to the Shelly Lake Dam and waved in the direction that the ISS would have been visible if there had been no cloud cover, and here is a graphic of my wave (I do have twitter so I could send the tweet):

I also snapped a picture of the North West Horizon and that picture is below. If you look at the picture you can imagine the ISS appearing in the breaks in the clouds (but ... no luck I did not see anything that looked like a moving light - except for the usual airplanes).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

3-D Snowflakes

The snow flakes that are '3-d' you open the image in a new tab then view full screen then 'un-focus-your-eyes' (sort of like looking at something 'cross-eyed') and concentrate on the 'MIDDLE' of the three images that emerge and that one is the 3-D picture.

Here is the link to the page:

This one is my favorite:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010 Christmas Pictures

Some Pictures From The Christmas Season 2010

If it snows this afternoon I'll add more :o)

And we got snow last night (and it is still snowing this morning) --- at the end of the picture album are snow pictures:

Christmas Pictures

We were going to travel to Asheville today but the road conditions are not up to driving anywhere.

Here is a video of the snow this morning:

Snow Video

We had a quiet Christmas here at Davidson Street, Just me, Evelyn, and Rob.

We all enjoyed watching Robert fly the remote controlled helicopter, that Betsy and Frank gave him, around the living room, here are a couple of short clips of the helicopter being flown:

RC Helicopter Video

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lego Antikythera Mechanism

This is really cool. I've been following this for years. Now we see the latest, the mechanism has been duplicated using legos.

How cool is that?

Here is a web page about the computer:

Here is a video that discusses the computer (and the making of the video):

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hard To See --- The Future Is

Here is a good article (and the comments are just as good)

That 'on-line/connected' devices will be ubiquitous is a given, this very event I think ---

That 'everything-is-in-the-cloud' additionally 'Changes-Everything'

2010 Water Year

A "Water Year" is defined as the period from October 1st to September 30th and its value is the same as the calendar year of the month of September, so the the year ending September 30th was the Water Year 2010

Here is a recap of The 2010 Water Year at Davidson Street as I reported it to the http://www.CoCoRaHS.ORG web site.

I do enjoy this activity.

What will happen Tuesday 21 December 2010

What will happen Tuesday 21 December 2010 which last happened Tuesday 21 December 1638?

At 6:38PM the Winter Solstice occurs, and at 3:17AM (nine hours earlier) a Total Eclipse of the Moon will have occurred. These two events last occurred on the same day 372 years ago.

The next total eclipse of the Moon that occurs on the same day as the winter solstice will will be in the year 2094, I'll only be 147 years old then, I look forward to it :o)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Back In The Northern Hemisphere

This morning the temperature was 40F and I walked out to the street to pick up the newspaper I could feel the the damp cool fog around me ... The ground was wet with yesterdays almost 0.20 inches of rain. The feeling was wonderful!

I did enjoy my two weeks on the Tropic of Capricorn (São Paulo, Brazil). Since it is very near the solstice, the sun was almost vertical, the small shadow that was cast around noon fooled you into thinking that south was north and north was south.

My hotel window looked out to the south but each morning when I woke up I instantly identified it as north. This was my first trip to to the Southern Hemisphere. And I did suffer from "Northern Hemisphere Bias".

It is good to be back on the "top-half of the planet" (top-half: If you think of the rotation of the earth and its motion around the sun using the 'Right-Hand-Rule').

Saturday, December 04, 2010

How Far Apart Are We

So... I am on business the first two weeks of December in São Paulo Brazil... And Evelyn is visiting her niece in Jupiter FL...

So how far apart are we ...

[1] We are both in warm places the first week of December, and bothsee lots of Christmas decorations when we go 'down-town'

[2] Or Evelyn is located at 26.93° N and 80.1° W ... while I am locatedat 23.5° S and 46.5° W.

[3] Or I am 1834 nm more toward the equator and eastward than sheis.

[4] Or I am 2 hours and 20 minutes of solar time east of her.

[5] Or I am (via great circle) 3,913 nautical miles from her (or4,503 miles away)

[6] Or I am (not as the crow flies but as the mole tunnels) located... (well I'm still working on this one but will post the answer as an edit to this post) ...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Images From São Paulo

Here are some pictures from São Paulo

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Life is Physics and not Chemistry

... and never even mind Biology :)

Here is note about the article: ""

And here is the article: ""

So far, I've just read the note and the abstract ... but I've now downloaded the article and am going through it now.

This really looks grand.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Some Excellent Posts


In the course of thinking about the limitations of logic and mathematics I've read many posts.

Here are three that seem to me to pull a lot of things together:

"The Vagueness Paradox" - A post by Terence Tao that brings together a lot of stuff (in combination with a couple of Wikipedia articles - see the next two links.)

"Tarski's Undefinability Theorem" - A link to this page is in the post by Tao.

"Diagonal lemma" - A link to this page is in the Tarski article.

I said in some post quite a while ago that I thought things could be sorted out by carefully thinking about how it all fits together. Well that is indeed the case as illustrated by these posts and articles. Here is a link to my thoughts about a "A Gödelian Puzzle".

Monday, October 25, 2010


We had a grand time at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. It was a little drippy but there were lots of people there anyway. I can only imagine what it would have been like had it not been the middle of a howling 'Nor-Wester' :o)

Here are some pictures:

Monday, October 18, 2010


Benoit Mandelbrot passed away on the 14th of October 2010. Here is a link to his obituary: "".

The very first color graphic application I downloaded from 'the-Net' was FractINT an application that allowed one to 'zoom-in' on any area of the Mandelbrot Set. I spent hours and hours wandering around inside that set.

Hear is a link to a picture of the famous set:

And I did purchase and read his book too The Fractal Geometry of Nature

Sunday, October 17, 2010

2010 NC State Fair

A beautiful day at the fair, here are some pictures.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cousins Weekend 2010

We had a grand time this year and look forward to another grand weekend next year.

Here are some pictures:

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Shortest Path To Certainty

Here is an email exchange I had with an old friend:

From: Dear Old Friend
To: Zach
Date: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 09:03
Subject: Re: Email Chain That Wound Up Wondering If Palin And Gingerich Are From Planet Earth

You know Obama's grandfather (who basically raised him in his home) was a member of the UU church in Hawaii. OB's grandmother's memorial was there right after he was elected. His path to Christianity was one he choose (UU candidates often join liberal Christian churches to avoid charges of being non-Christian), just like many raised UU choose their own religion as adults. His basically Universalist tendency to affirm all religions confuses fundamentalists so they think his is Muslim, the same way a lot of these folks will think that anyone favoring gay rights must be gay.

Old Friend

From: Dear Old Friend
To: Zach
Date: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 09:03
Subject: Re: Email Chain That Wound Up Wondering If Palin And Gingerich Are From Planet Earth

Anyone with the good mind that Obama has would certainly not find the UU in any way unusual.

We, sadly, enjoy a society today that has slid a long, long, long way from what the founding fathers envisioned as Religious Liberty.

I blame it on modern society and how the human brain works/evolved, and that is: The human mind will take the 'shortest-path-to-certainty' to resolve any unknown/paradox it is exposed to. And, fundamentalist religious beliefs and many conservative political and economic beliefs do live right on that shortest path to certainty.

The 'shortest path to certainty' has nothing (necessarily) to do with reality it only need make sure the being in question does not undergo 'brain-lock' and it only has to resolve the paradox/unknown.

Modern civilization and and the pressure that the human species puts on the environment have lead to complexities that most humans can not deal with. I think the ability of most humans to deal with the complexities of what we find today is available, but that ability is hamstrung by our own desire (and even internal demand) to get to the easiest/quickest solution to problems. This internal demand does have an evolutionary advantage. Those members of a species that can make quick decisions in life-threatening situations are selected in favor of.

Those members of a species that are more deliberate (scientific) in their approach to how to deal with and interact with their environment are selected against when the species is young and deliberate decision are not a good thing because they may put the individual into the stomach of a predator..

But as civilization makes the day to day navigation of our environment more and more safe then we have the luxury of thinking more deeply/carefully about everything but that is still in conflict with our 'wired-in' way of thinking.

And thus the rise of fundamentalist religious beliefs and tea-party like conservative solutions to how the government should behave itself.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sunrise Over The Chesapeake Bay

Just a simple sunrise over the bay. Since the date is so near the Equinox then the location of the sun in the first frame is very nearly due East.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MS150 - 2010 Day 2 (New Bern NC)

Day 2 started out very rainy. We spent the night in Morehead City at Evelyn's house on Fisher Street. When we were leaving about 5:50am the heavens opened up and a cloud burst rained down. We had to pick our way through street floods to get out of town.

By the time we reached New Bern it was still very cloudy but the rains had stopped. No more rain fell that day and the clouds parted around noon.

Evelyn did not ride on Sunday, which was just as well since the threat of heavy rain and thunder caused a the 30 mile course and the 100 mile course to be closed. That left only the 50 mile course and the 75 mile course. (There was an option to ride 30 miles on the 50 mile course then get sag'ed back to New Bern, with your bike coming later on a truck.)

I chose to do the 50 mile course and it worked out great. It was just the right distance for me that day. I've been suffering from a head cold since last Thursday and I think the exercise in the warm weather was actually good for me.

Here are the 'stats' for Sunday:
03:30 hh:mm .... Time for Day-2
80.58 km ....... Distance for Day-2
23.00 kph ...... Average speed for Day-2
06:33 hh:mm .... Total time for the two days

133.01 km ....... Total distance traveled for the two days.
20.20 kph ...... Average speed for the two days

Here is the slide show that contains some pictures from Day-2 near the end of the slide show:

One more thing about the start of the ride. When I got there there really was just a small group waiting to start. So I just stayed near the start. I noticed right before the announcements that everybody around me had on the same jersey. It turns out the the New Bern 'Tri-Century-Cycling-Team' was tagged to 'lead-out' the ride and I found myself right in the middle of them. By the time I realized what was going on it was really too late to find my way back behind that group.

Also the national anthem was played by a horn player (cornet I think) who was a rider and he really nailed that song.

And Here is a video of the start of the ride and the second rest stop. I did not stop at the first rest stop and the video of the second rest stop (judging by the long line to the porta-potties and for the water line) was the first rest stop for lots of others too.

MS150 - 2010 Day 1 (New Bern NC)

Evelyn and I finished day-1 of the MS150 Cycling Tour in New Bern NC in fine styel. We had a very good ride. The sky was cloudy (no sun block needed) and the temperature was mostly in the 70s with light wind. A very nice ride.

Here are the stats:

03:03 hh:mm .... Time on rolling.

52.43 km ....... Distance traveled.

17.01 kph ...... Average speed.

Here is a slide show of some pictures we took:

And Here is a video clip of just some of the over 2,000 riders.

Monday, September 06, 2010

06 SEP 2010 Labor Day Bike Ride

Evelyn was on duty so could not ride this morning so I tried my 'North Raleigh Loop Ride'.

It turned out to be a beautiful day for a bike ride.

Here are the 'stats':

Time On The Bike hh:mm .. 02:22
Distance Traveled km .... 45.30
Average Speed kph ....... 19.20

The ride is a bit longer when you go clockwise and you take Morning Dove Dr to Sawmill then to Longstreet then to the greenway. However, this morning because the traffic was not so bad I decided to stick to Falls of the Neuse to Sandy Forks then to Six Forks then back home. Here is a graphic of the ride with the non greenway bit in yellow (click for a larger view). Also the graphic just below the picture will take you to a turn-by-turn listing of the ride at the website http://www.MapMyRide.COM

View Interactive Map on

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Hewitt Pottery Visit

Evelyn received an invitation to visit the kiln opening at Hewitt Pottery. The pottery is only about 35 miles from Raleigh, out on US64 West toward Pittsboro just after you cross the Haw River. It was a beautiful morning for a visit and Evelyn found a pot to purchase.

Here is a slide show of our visit. Everything was beautiful.

If they hate us why haven't they killed us yet?

You be the judge ... (hint: The answer is obvious - and quite easy - and has nothing to do with 'force-of-arms').

Here is the post that asks the question:

After reading some of the comments on the post I anticipate answers that may come to mind, and give the answer to the largely rhetorical question posed above.

[A] They don't hate us and they certainly are not trying to kill us.

[B] The reason [A] is true is that almost all of them live in such a state of poverty that they have much, much, much more to worry about than hating America.


[C] Just like in the 'Good Old US of A' some among us, in hopes of switching attention from their own shortcomings, like to throw up FUD-Lies-Bull-Stuff about the other side.

and ...

[D] "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

... This messages is true whether or not you embrace the word 'love' ... Because the converse is also true ...

[E] "If you hate your neighbor you hate yourself."

... In other words, you have no choices about this ... it is built into your very being.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hurricane Earl Approaches Outer Banks

Hurricane Earl approached the North Carolina Outer Banks today. When I left the gym this morning the dawn illuminated this beautiful arc of high/mid clouds that stretched from NNE to SSW. These clouds represented the leading edge of the NW quadrant of the outflow pattern from Earl. I stopped in a parking lot and took a video (just a few minutes earlier would have been even more spectacular). Evelyn had to leave early to help the Red Cross, her local chapter is hosting the marshaling point for North Carolina. When we arrived there were many 'ERVs' (Emergency Response Vehicles) and two huge tractor trailers. I took some pictures with my cell phone. Then when I got access to I captured some of the satellite shots and strung them together to make and animation of the storm. Here is the video I posted on YouTube.COM.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Walk Around Shelly Lake

We don't walk around Shelly Lake as often as we used to. My recent battle with my knees have left me in a situation where an extended walk was quite painful. Recently, however I have changed my exercise pattern and I know my knees are getting stronger and so can tolerate walking much better. This walk was certainly proof that I am doing something right, my knees actually felt good after the walk.

We usually walk counter clockwise and likely as not we do see a Great Blue Heron and today was no exception. Here is a picture you can click on to see a slightly larger view.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rider #439 Is Ready For The 2010 Eastern NC MS150 Cycle Tour

I did an 'early-check-in' this morning and picked up my packet and Evelyn's packet. The packets include the T-Shirt (which is really nice) as well as the 'rider-numbers'. Below is a picture of my Cycling Jersey that I earned because all the folks who donated to the 2009 Eastern NC MS150 Cycling tour gave enough so that the final figure went over $1,000.00. I will be sending out announcements for the ride after Evelyn and I complete the ride this year in hopes that I can again go over the 'magic-number' so I can again earn a jersey and a 'golden-number'.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Wow Just Beautiful

In this video the shadows cast by the two rocks are cast by the light from the Milky Way Galaxy (ours). Here is a link to a beautiful video of this: "" while here is a link to the APOD page that has a composite picture that shows the shadows and discusses them:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

14 AUG 2010 - Three Peninsular Bike Ride

The "Three Peninsular Ride" is a nice 45 kilometer ride that takes me about 2 hours. I only average about 20kph now a days.

Here are the stats:

Time ...... 02:07 hh:mm
Distance .. 43.09 km
Average ... 20.30 kph

Today was bright and sunny, warm and windy. The temperature stayed in the mid to high 80s through out the ride and the wind was a pretty constant 10-20kts from the east. This made riding back down Country Club Road from crab point to the high school nice. The only place you feel the head wind is after you turn east on NC58 in Atlantic Beach and head toward Fort Macon. I wore my RUSA jersey in celebration of their 10 anniversary.

When you get to Fort Macon there is a nice shelter that overlooks the Beaufort Inlet. And the new Fort Macon Visitor's center has a cold water fountain inside that you can use to fill your water bottles. The old entrance to Fort Macon is no longer there the new entrance goes to the Visitor Center which was very impressive. I just ducked in to fill my water bottles but I do look forward to going back soon and looking more closely. Below are some pictures I took of Beaufort Inlet.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

TWF - 300

I do try to read John Baez's blog as often as I can. I hope to read his new one as well. Here is a link to the TWF - 300, and it is a good one!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

WWW:Watch - A Novel

I just finished reading the Robert J. Sawyer novel, "WWW:WATCH" that was a sequel to WAKE and I do anticipate reading and enjoying the next one in the series WONDER coming out in 2011.

I read the first novel "WWW:WAKE" in serial form in a science fiction magazine and did enjoy it. The idea is that a conscious entity emerges spontaneously from the Internet.

Because I do understand a lot of the science that is behind the fiction in the book and those parts are pretty much correct from what I could see, then it was a short step to 'suspend-my-sense-of-disbelief' an enjoy the story.

Having said that I can now talk a little real-world stuff:
  • Assuming that such a thing did come to exist there is a place in the book where the group that was trying to shutdown WebMind could have done a better job. If they were 'on-their-toes' they could have, in cooperation with the companies that supply updates to the routers send out a 'code-update' to all the routers that would cause them to instantly ignore 'mutant-packets' that are supposed to make up the entity.

  • It is the case that routers all over the world are responsible for sending packets along.

  • However the possible existence of 'mutant-packets' that have a 'time-to-die' count that prevents them from expiring is almost certainty impossible. The packets themselves are are [1] received, [2] inspected, [3] sent along or not sent along. The third of these three activities depends on the packet passing some basic integrity tests. Sadly, 'mutant-packets' would instantly fail the test and be ignored. However having said that I can imagine that a 'self-modifying-packet' could be added to the type of Internet packets processed and such a packet could somehow fit the bill. I expect implementation of such a packet would be a significant change to how Internet routers work.

  • About a sufficiently complex cellular automaton spontaneously becoming conscious: I do think that sufficiently complex system can undergo and do indeed undergo 'self-organization' events. Even very simple systems can be thought of as undergoing self organization events. However I think that for 'self-organization' events to rise to the level of a conscious object requires something more than just becoming self organized.

  • An example of the result of a highly self organized event is a biological cell and multi cellular life forms. So this could and did emerge spontaneously (with apologizes to the Intelligent Design folks). To get form a spontaneously organized complex object to to a conscious object requires another step. I believe that consciousness actually is the ability of an organism (or object, or cellular automaton) to take its sensory inputs and then use them as inputs into a modeling engine that then drives its outputs (movements) in such a fashion that it can negotiate its environment.

  • In the story the cellular automaton only gradually acquired sensory inputs. In the story the consciousness existed before it had sensory inputs. I think this is not correct. I think this is an example of the chicken-or-the-egg where the story had the wrong thing first. First there are sensory inputs into the complex system and then there emerges the ability of the system to model those inputs with the result being the ability of the system to negotiate its environment. As this model gets better and better then the amount of 'consciousness-stuff' increases.

  • In the story there is nothing that explains what consciousness actually is. I think any talk of consciousness requires such a thing because I think that you can not contemplate this without thinking about what it actually is.

  • The story can certainly get away with this part. So in the end the emerging consciousness is described as this completely unexpected thing. No discussion of how it came about just that it did. And when you think about self organizing systems in general it is not clear how they self organize. I do expect that once we get a handle on how this occurs from first principals we will have at that time a much deeper understanding of things than we do now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Week At The Beach - Day 0 and Day 1

I took off early from work yesterday and went home and loaded up the car. Bikes on top and all my gear in the back seat. Evelyn left for the beach earlier in the week. Robert and I drove down starting about 12PM. We stopped for lunch at the Chili's Restaurant in Goldsboro and arrived about 4:30. Once the bikes were in the little house out back and all my stuff in the house it was almost supper time. Ted came over and ate with us and Robert returned to Raleigh after supper. We had a grad visit with Ted and Robert did send us a text message as he arrived back in Raleigh.

This morning I decided to walk down to the 7th Street Gazebo and Pier (Conch Point) and do my Tai-Chi exercises. Here is a slide show of the pictures I took. The morning is quite breezy and humid but beautiful.

Also here is a short video clip of an egret

Here is short video clip of the roll cloud that preceded the thunderstorm. It was taken from the walkway out from the cottage at Emerald Island.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

07 JULY 2010 Summer Reading

Just left is a picture of the books. And above the picture is the web page for the books.

I am really looking forward to reading these books. I'll post back to this entry when I find something interesting that I want to share.

Here is the author's Wikipedia.ORG page:

And here is the Wikipedia.ORG page for the books:

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Free Will - More On Consciousness As A Modeling Engine

Here is the post from Scot Adams Blog:

Excellent, and it fits in with the idea that I like, that consciousness is what emerges from a motile organism's need and ability to predict the future so it can negotiate its environment successfully.

The more complex and 'self-referential' such a modeling capability is the more we say that the organism is intelligent. Given this scale then an organism that models it's sensory inputs with the result of what Scott Adams calls reprogramming and mood changing is said to have a higher intelligence.

The whole idea of what "Free Will" is then becomes, just, an artifact of this way of conceptualizing consciousness.

All organisms that have the capability of modeling their sensory inputs in order to negotiate their future environment have free will. Free will is defined as the process of negotiating their environment based on what the sensory inputs are and the model's output is.

Given a sufficiently complex self referential system that is doing the modeling and subsequent environmental negotiation all the attributes of free will are covered.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

03 JULY 2010 - Nice Bike Ride

Evelyn got out to the place where we join the American Tobacco Trail Rails To Trails bike, walking, running, and equestrian path at 7:54AM this morning. The temperature was in the low 60's and it was beautiful.

We headed north toward Chatham County and the nice paved part and rode the entire paved part and turned around and rode back to the parking lot where we got on. By the time we got home it was only 10:00AM and most of our Saturday is still to come.

What a nice way to start the holiday weekend.

Here are the stats:

01:09 ... HH:MM Time
19.35 ... KM Distance Traveled
16.60 ... KPH Average Rate

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Point of view

Yesterday's APOD presented an interesting point of view.

You know what would be cool? If you could create some glasses (perhaps fed by some sort of camera mounded on your head) that would give your eyes this view all the time. The human brain is adaptable to it's vision field being modified and I think it would adapt to this change too. I'm sure you would start to navigate quiet nicely. And if you removed the glasses after your brain adapted what would you see? In experiments that turn the vision field upside down the subjects report their vision field flips upside down when they remove the glasses that do this to them (and they do regain their normal sense after a bit). So ... would the world appear to be a pie slice of a projective plane if you adapted to this view and then removed your glasses?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Google Voice Test

This is a test of an application called "Google Voice"

Not quiet sure how it all hangs together but here is a test:

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Project Euler Problem 18" (Not a Spoiler Alert)

I registered at Project Euler some time ago but never seemed to take the time to work on any of the problems.

That changed some months ago when I installed a new version of the IDE that I use (Microsoft Visual Studio 2010). I also became involved in a project that was using some of the latest and greatest programming languages and technologies from Microsoft (C#, WWF, WCF, WPF) and I found using the new languages and development environments to be very nice.

So I gave Project Euler another try and really got hooked. I am not any smarter than I used to be but with a more powerful tool set I really enjoyed working through the problems more.

And I do become stuck on some of the problems and just have to walk away from them and think about them 'in-the-back-ground' before the solutions comes to me. Which so far has happened.

Problem 18 for some reason really fit this category. I think the reason is that the author of the problem says that the "brute-force" solution is possible but if the problem were a bit bigger then it would be impossible, because no computer on the planet could attack a larger version using the brute-force method.

So, I just could not get my arms around it. That phrase in the problem description: "
... requires a clever method! ;o) ...
" probably contributed.

This weekend I was visiting my daughter in Asheville and after explaining the problem at supper I started thinking about it differently and all my new thoughts seemed to be heading in the same direction: "Straight Down The Tube". Everything I thought of was total junk!

Then this morning on the drive back to Raleigh it just hit me. I was sitting at a picnic table at the rest stop just before you get to Winston Salem on I40 and it came to me.

It turns out the solution was a very simple extension of what I had tried at the very first. Simple extension is really not the right way to say it. The correct way is to say a simplification of what I tried at the beginning.

I find over and over that I make things too complicated and the simple way of looking at it usually turns out to be the right way, but for some reason my brain seems determined to make things more complicated than they are.

I was thinking about posting a link to my solution in this blog post but have now decided against it.

The simple solution is so cool and so clean that I cannot bear to share it with anyone who is still looking for it.

When someone shares with me a solution to a problem and the solution is very much simpler than I thought it would be then I feel a sense of loss. I think "Oh man, I could have figured that out!" I do not want to inflict anyone with that feeling.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Avoiding the Why-Because Loop

Every one who has communicated with a child and everyone who recalls from the 'Why/Because Loop' knows that as we age we tend to avoid this kind of thing.

We not only teach ourselves how to avoid such loops but I think we also have built in 'resolution-circuits' in our minds that keep us from getting stuck in an infinite-regress/recurse loop.

And here is today's Abstruse Goose Comic that covers the same idea and my comment on that comic (the graphic is the first panel of the comic, click to see the whole thing.)
This is quite correct, "Counterintuitive" is the key word. A brain had this natural 'built-in-stuff' that will override any 'intellectually' created model that violates it's 'resolution-circuits'. Those 'resolution-circuits' are what keeps the brain from 'freezing-up' or going into a 'infinite-regress/recurse'. They demand and will even produce content that allows the brain to avoid getting stuck in the 'why/because-loop'.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Tuesday 08 June 2010 (Humor)

This Is A Formal "Opt-Out" Statement
I Hear-by Do Formally
This Tuesday The 8th of June 2010
OPT OUT Of This Organization

Note: I do understand that this Opt-Out-Statement does excuse me from being the candidate of any "Death-Boards" that will be organized under the new health care plans based on the membership lists of this organization.

From Random Graphic Images

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Some thoughts.

I usually just treat Memorial Day as another holiday. For some reason this year I find myself thinking more about the meaning of the holiday. This morning one of the internet sites I monitor "The Big Picture" has a photo essay about Afghanistan.

I've heard talk about comparing Afghanistan and Vietnam. One comparison is that it has now exceeded the length of time we were engaged in Vietnam. A comparison that is very different is the number of lives lost in the conflict. In Vietnam many more lives were lost.

Another comparison that is very different is the mission. In Vietnam we were fighting a war against the NVA as well as the Viet Cong. In Afghanistan there is no group that corresponds to the NVA. Only a comparison with the Viet Cong and the Taliban can be made. That comparison is not very good either. The Taliban were thrown out of power at the start of the war while the Viet Cong were never in power.

Additionally we never had a clear exit strategy in Vietnam. Additionally, the political will to fight the war in the beginning was not clearly stated or understood, we basically 'backed-into' the war and at the end we most definitely 'backed-out-of' the war.

In Afghanistan we most definitely had a clear entry strategy, and that was to overthrow the Taliban because they harbored and supported Al Qaeda which in turn planned and executed the 11 September 2001 suicide attacks that took the lives of the airline passengers and the occupants of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The stated exit strategy was and still is to create a national structure in Afghanistan that does not include its support for groups like Al Qaeda.

My time in Vietnam was a very long time ago, over 43 years ago, but the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do make me think of that time, long ago, especially on a day like today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A New Ostovar Ceramic

Here are some pictures of our brand new "Terry-Turtle"

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Martin Gardner 1914 - 2010

I think I read every column of his in Scientific American. Here is a link to a page at that publication:

He lived a long a full life. And will be remembered by all who read his contributions to scientific education.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Personal (Autographed) Copy of ...

"The Life and Times of First Baptist Church, Wilson, North Carolina 1860-2010"

Dear Siblings,

My copy of "The Life and Times of First Baptist Church, Wilson, North Carolina 1860-2010" Arrived in the mail today (I took it out of the mail box just 45 minutes ago).

And if Chapter 17, "A mission is Born and a Ministry Ends" 1912-1916 (T. Williams Chambliss) is any indication of the quality of the rest of this book then this book will be widely read.

Both my youngest sibling and my oldest sibling are mentioned in this chapter.

I've not actually finished the whole chapter but have done a quick skim through it and it is a really nice read!

I will definitely bring it to the beach this summer.

Which reminds me that I have 'seven-presents' to give out at the beach this summer so don't let me forget to distribute them (not copies of this book but something else).

Your middle child sibling;


Saturday, May 15, 2010

15 May 2010 - A Ride On The ATT Bike Path

We got an early start and headed out for the White Oak Church Road entrance to the ATT Bike Path. This entrance is about six miles from the southern end of the trail.

The nice part of this entrance is that it is pretty close to the Chatham County part of the trail, and this part is paved! Wow we were really impressed with that part of the trail.

We continued on into the Durham county section (sadly not as well done as the unpaved part in Wake County) for a little while then headed back to the place where we got on the trail.

Here are the details:

Distance ....... 22.49 km
Average Speed .. 16.70 kph
Time ........... 01:23 hh:mm

And here is a picture when we crossed into the Durham County section, and a picture of the smooth section.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

01 MAY 2010 - A Nice Morning For A Bike Ride

This was a beautiful morning for a ride. I was going to just do the greenway but found it a bit crowded as I started making my way toward Shelly Lake.

So I headed up North Hills drive toward Crabtree Valley Mall and got back on the greenway and scooted under Glenwood Avenue. The greenway cuts behind the mall, but I left it at the "Crabtree Tavern" and headed up the hill.

This short connector to Blue Ridge Road is actually called Edwards Mill Road. Turns out this road used to dip down to the creek then back up the hill. Up the hill I went through the Glen Eden intersection and toward the top. Once I made it to the top of Blue Ridge Road at the intersection with Duraleigh Road I turned left. If I were to have turned right that would have put me on the path of my north Raleigh 50K loop ride.

But turning left on Blue Ridge at Duraleigh sends you down toward the NC Art Museum. I almost immediately turned right on to Macon Pond Road and headed over to the new Edwards Mill Road that cuts across to the RBC center. When I arrived at Reedy Creek Road I took a right toward Umstead State Park. There is a nice bike path beside the road but there were so many walkers and runners I kept to the road all the way to the park Entrance. Rather than trust my 'road-bike-tires' to the packed limestone paths in the park I kept on the road which becomes Trenton Road at that point.

Trenton road goes pas the 'back-entrance' to SAS. I wonder if I could ride through the campus and come out on N. Harrison, since there is a 'guard shack' there perhaps not. So, Trenton road continues on and where it ends at Trinity I turned right on Trinity and took Trinity all the way to the end, back at Blue Ridge Road.

Turning left on Blue Ridge at Trinity I head back toward the NC Museum of Art. At the museum I get on the greenway for a beautiful ride through the campus toward the 'belt-way-bike-bridge'. The campus is full of outdoor art and this is one of the high points of any bike ride that goes this way. Here a pictures I took at the entrance to the bridge.
Once across the bridge I decided to see if I could take a short cut through the Meridith College campus and I came out on Faircloth Street and turned left to cross Wade Avenue into the Ridge Road shopping center. Once through the shopping center I headed down Ridge Road toward Glen Eden.

At Glen Eden I turned right and made my way down to cross Glenwood Avenue. The road turns into Granville street and at the bottom of the hill I usually turn right on Pasquotank then left on Alleghanny then right on Yadkin and on to Davidson street and back home. Since my original idea was to do a greenway ride I decided to ride the east leg of the greenway and continued past Alleghanny and right on Orange then up by the golf course and down the hill to Beaufort.

Beaufort street near Root elementary school has a greenway entrance that just shoots you over to Lassister Mill Road. Once on Lassister Mill it is across Crabtree Creek and right onto the east leg of the greenway.

Once on the greenway I felt like I was near the end of my ride. Knowing that I had to ride back home (up the hill from Crabtree Creek) I decided to turn around at the gazebo on the raised walk-way/bike-way you enter after going under US1 on the greenway. Here is a picture of view looking out toward the water in the swamp.
When I headed back to Lassiter Mill I turned right on Beaufort street and headed up the hill by Root elementary. That was a 'slog' I was about out of gas at that point. I made it back home with a lot of climbing.

Distance ....... 44.83 km (about 28 miles)
Average Speed .. 17.30 kph
Time ........... 02:34 hh:mm

Here is the link to my 2010 MS150 ride (after 2010 the link is no longer valid).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday - 25 APR 2010 Rain Barrel Update

We got exactly 0.37" of rain last night. And it did fill up the 55 gallon rain barrel! NOTE: There are 231 cubic inches of rain in a gallon.

When I measured the size of the roof section that drains into the barrel I got 15x27 feet or 405 square feet. If you do the math you get 144x405 square inches of area. If 1.00 inches of rain fell over that many square inches that would amount to 252 gallons. Since last night only 0.37" inches of rain fell that amounts to 0.37 of that amount which is 93 gallons. well that is not 55 gallons so some of the rain escaped the gutters. That can happen because that section of the roof is partially covered by trees and they can adsorb quite a bit of rain as it falls on them, plus my calculations of the number of square feet in the roof could be off.

In general the solution to the equation ((x*144)/231)*.37=55 which comes out to be 238 square feet. So I'm either missing 67 square feet of roof, or the trees absorbed 28 gallons of water or ... THE RAIN BARREL RAN OVER!

Since the little connection at the bottom of the barrel is leaking and the rain barrel was not completely full this morning then a leak could account for this. When just now I did a test it took 1 minute to get 1/3 of a cup which is 20 cups an hour or 1.25 gal/hour and since I first looked at the barrel it was 3 hours ago and it does look like it could be down about 5 gallons and if when it quit raining it had been leaking and running over then that may be where the the 28 gallons of water went. So I'm off to the hardware store again today and I'll purchase another washer for the spigot setup and tighten it down nicely and we will see if we can stop the leak and the next time it rains I'll do more measurements and see how accurate my calculations of the size of the roof are.

Evelyn has a brand new 4x5 garden just across the drive way from the rain barrel. Recently she purchase a soaker hose and has wound it around the garden as well as having it wind through her flower bed next to to the 4x5 garden.

So the 4x5 garden is 20 square feet and the area the rest of the hose wanders through is about the same size or in total probably around 45 square feet.

So she can connect the regular hose pipe to the soaker hose and then to the rain barrel and draw down the barrel about 1/10 or (11 gallons) and that will translate to having her flower bed and garden rained on with 0.37" of rain.

Here is a slide show of some pictures.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

24 April 2010 Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel - 24 APR 20010
Ginny And Joe, when visiting us week before last found the barrel at a brewing store. It is just a used beer barrel and they sell them for $20.00.

When you go to the garden store they charge $100.00 for the same barrel. Joe and Ginny did figure out a system for getting the rain out but it started leaking and so when I visited Burke Brothers Hardware today and asked the fellow he told me the steps that he just finished doing to the same type of barrel.

I drilled out the hole to 1". That is just right for the brass spigot to screw into. The on the other side you slide a big rubber washer that has caulking on one side over the bit that sticks through into the inside of the barrel. Then you screw on a sleeve on the spigot and it tightens down on the rubber washer making it water tight.

Sadly, you have to sacrifice the top of the barrel since there is no way to reach inside the barrel through the little openings that are in the top. This activity involved unloading the outbuilding until I could get down to the container that had the jig-saw in it. And almost immediately Rob and I broke the saw blade. So it was back to Burk Brothers Hardware to pick up some extra saw blades for the jig-saw.

We tried just removing one half the top but Robert still could not reach the bottom of the barrel so we removed the rest of the top.

Next we upended three concrete blocks and placed the barrel next to the house and sawed off the downspout and fixed onto it one of those stretch accordion hoses and routed it to the barrel. We covered the barrel with some nylon screen fixed into place with bungee cords to keep out the debris and the mosquitoes. Here is a picture of the result.

Beautiful Spring Day And Bike Ride

Today Evelyn headed out for a sheep farm somewhere around here and I decided to try my old 'North Raleigh Loop Ride'. I've not done this ride for a couple of years and I felt it. but it does fit in with my new exercise plan so I was up to it. Here are the stats:

Distance .... 49.47 km
Time ........ 02:50 hh:mm
Average ..... 17.40 kph

That average was not 20kph which is what I do on flat land but I think 17kph was pretty good. Here is a link to the route.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Visit With Gwin And Sunrise In N Raleigh

Last Sunday I stopped by Mount Olive on the way back to Raleigh from Morehead City and took these pictures of Gwin's Azaleas. She was on her way to the library and we only got in a brief visit. Some weeks ago on Easter Sunday we had a longer visit.

Then this morning on the way back from the gym the sunrise was so beautiful I stopped and took two pictures. The color was not quite right by the time I took the pictures, and I do not think you could ever capture that color precisely. The fellow who paints pictures of the beautiful light blue dawn sky did capture that color schema and it does match what I saw this morning.

Here are the pictures:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beautiful Day For A Bike Ride

Evelyn was working in the quilt shop today and the day was so pretty I took off by myself. The ride was about the same as the one we did together on Easter Weekend. Except this time I rode counterclockwise and did the Blair Farm Road/Crab Point part. Here are the stats:

Distance ....... 26.03 km
Average Speed .. 20.10 kph
Elapsed Time ... 01:17 hh:mm

I started down Bay Street and took the sidewalk around the ball field and continued on Bay Street till it ended at the graveyard. I took the raised walkway around the graveyard and along Calico Creek to the 20th Street pedestrian bridge. Then on out 20th Street to Blair Farm Road. Then on to Crab Point and then back to Country Club Road. Country Club Road to the High School then back toward town on the greenway to the Hospital. At the hospital I took 35th street over to the Welcome Center and boat launch location and got on Evans Street. Headed down Evans crossing the AB Bridge streets and continuing on Evans to 21st Street and then zig over to Shepard all the way to where it rejoins Evans then down to 4th Street. Take 4th street across the peninsular to Fisher Street and back home.