Friday, August 29, 2014

Ferguson, a few thoughts

Ferguson,  Missouri.  What a shit show.

I have been seeing the reports on the news and also the emotionally charged reports on social media.  The biggest thought that I have on this is that it just goes to show that common sense isn't common.

I would say that it is a comedy of errors if it were the least bit funny, Greek tragedy seems more apt.
I am going to walk you through a series of events, that although they are completely a narrative that exists wholly in my head and may or may not have any connection to reality,  possibly may have snippets that connect to reality in a way that might change your thoughts on a few aspects.  This may also open up the flame gates to the troll army, you never know with people these days.

Michael Brown is walking down the middle of a street.

Ok, why are you walking down the middle of a street? Streets are for cars, sidewalks are for walking. This already starts to make me ponder the mental state of the victim at the time of the incident.
In the aftermath of the incident a security video surfaced showing the victim stealing cigars from a convenience store. This also starts to make me question the mental state of the victim at the time of the incident.
So now we have a person in a questionable state of mind walking down the middle of the street. A police officer rolls up and confronts the individual.
I am not sure how the police officer approached the incident,  I am guessing that considering the outcome the officer came out with an accusatory manner and did not try to determine the nature of the situation before his ego got the best of him.

There is a confrontation and the officer draws his gun and shoots Michael Brown.
Now an officer involved shooting itself does not inherently make this much of a story, but after Michael Brown is already not confronting the officer the officer continues to discharge his weapon at the victim.
Now we have a problem.

However, despite all the nasty shit that has happened it is about to get much worse.
So the next step in the process is to start writing the heart-string pulling headlines,  coat every Facebook wall and Twitter feed with the most terrifying language of anti-police state propaganda you can write.  Most of all remember that no one fact checks a meme.

Now the name Michael Brown is on everyone's lips and the time is ripe, not for looking deep into the problem or trying to figure out where the riot of the problem is, the time is ripe to take all the memes and slanted internet reporting and whip people who lack critical thinking skills into a frenzy.

So now the media swarms, at the same time the public swarms. The public that swarms is mostly people who are there to do legitimate protest with legitimate beliefs and legitimate feelings. How ever there is also the group that is only there for one reason, to cause problems.

People transported themselves in with a fuck the police attitude and an intent to create problems.  The figured that the police had started a volatile situation and the time was ripe to double down.

The response from the police was no better at first.  Eventually it started to turn around as the rioters found that they were quickly being marked as the enemy, and the initial police force was replaced by a police force that had more training and better organization.   

So now we have calm.  But the problem that started the whole issue still exists.

If you are the police the black man is the enemy.

If you are the black man the police is the enemy.

This will pop back up again. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The car review no one wants to read.

I bought a Ford Focus from my aunt.  I am not a huge fan of Fords, but it was cheap, and I needed a car.

After a while there were a few things that started to bug the ell out of me about this car.  Largely dealing with the engineering (or lack thereof).

Let us start.

The 2001 Ford Focus is....  Well....  If all of the cars in the lot were an away team the Focus would be wearing the red shirt.

This car has issues....

Lets start with the trim.  The body panels are fit is such a way that they rub instead of just closing tightly, the end result is that the paint wears off the edges of the body panels and the car rusts out.  Nice job Ford, you have designed the car to disintegrate even when taken care of.

This car comes with power steering, which is completely unnecessary in a car that only weighs 2500 pounds.  Just put a correctly geared steering in the car and you can get better gas mileage, and still be able to park easily.  Also, you don't lose steering control when the engine stalls!

Now lets talk about the engine.  Ford decided that for the USA the only engine that would work was the 2.0 liter, DOHC Zetec something blah blah blah...

This car does not need 128 horsepower.

This car does not need 100 horsepower.

Shit, 90 is pushing it....

If the car would have come with the 1.4 liter engine (which I think mounts up to the same transmission) it would be good for in excess of 40 mpg in town!  This is compared to the 27 that I get now.  And this is a tiny Fucking car!

Now lets talk about the tuning of that engine.

Why do I need an engine where the torque and horsepower peak are at 5500 rpm?  I am never going to see 5500 rpm out of that engine.  In general usage I barely break 2500 rpm, maybe 3000-3500 on the freeway.  Most of the time when I am driving the engine is actually humming along at about 1500 rpm.

Having an engine designed with its max power at a speed where it is not functional only gives the engineers something to brag about, it does nothing for the day-to-day performance of the car.  And lets look at this realistically, I am not going to take the car to a fucking autocross track.  If I wanted to go race autocross track I would have bought something that is designed for autocross, not something that is designed to go to the grocery store, and is just grossly overpowered and tuned wrong for that purpose.

Next, 16 inch rims.

Why?  You do not need 16 inch rims with wide tires on a 2500 pound car.  You are actually making things more unsafe for me now, as with the low weight, and greater surface area on the bottoms of the tires it will be even easier to hydroplane.  Not to mention that with the forward nature of the weight distribution the rear end would spin around and I would go tumbling to my death.

Apparently this car is capable of going something like 134 MPH.  Why?  At 134 MPH this would be the equivalence of driving a mosquito into the windshield of a semi.  And it does not mater what you hit.  Damn the airbag, your still going to die.  This car should not be capable of exceeding 90 MPH at the most.  First, it unnecessary, second, its grossly unsafe.  Third, see rule one.

I have a car in the garage that is capable of going that fast.  It also has 6 feet of steel reinforced hood.  A friend of mine had a car of the same year and model as mine who has a Ford f-250 total itself on the passenger door.  It pushed the door frame in 6 inches, which even with a porta-power we were unable to push back out.  The Ford Focus frame is barely capable of supporting the weight of the car.  It is certainly not designed to go cruising down the highway at a speed that should be reserved for cars made by people with German accents.

In closing, the Ford Focus is almost all options, no car.  It could be good but Ford seems to have a insecurity about their penile size or something, and thinks that everyone else does too.

I have decided to name the car the Ficus, because in my opinion it is a potted plant.  Designed to last a while, and then eventually be dumped in the yard because it dies.


Just wanna read more physics.

I have been reading a big book of physics. Makes me want to do some simple experiments, maybe try to learn something,  build some toys to help explain concepts. I dont know, maybe teach some stuff....
Gah, actually learn this shit for reals, not just the functional understanding I have now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Field camp, work, car, life

I have to finish field camp.
I have to finish field camp.
I have to finish field camp.
I also have about ten thousand projects I need to finish. A car to fix. And I am back to work, gradually.
I have two bicycle projects in the works. I have a half a dozen writing things in various stages, I have a dozen and a half in my head.
I wish I could just take a break. But no, chug along little doggies. 
I need to relax.
I need to escape media.
I need to escape the Interwebs.
I need to escape.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

Ok, I am sure there is an overwhelming quantity of Robin Williams posts already on the Interwebs and this will hardly make a drop in that ocean, but let us look at the reality.
Life is fucking hard.
Being funny is often crafted as a defense mechanism because your not the popular kid with all the friends.  You have to survive. You have to do what you can to avoid the day to day hurt that living with the hand you have been dealt is.
I am sure I heard someone scream that we got dealt a pretty good hand, but even when you have a full house it looks pretty bad when you feel like everyone else got a straight flush.
So we become funny, because we are witty and can get the snappy comeback, we can make you laugh, then we laugh....
Its not the same.
We laugh, then we stop,  because laughter is a transfer of energy and E=MC squared will show how much energy of laughter it takes to fill that empty space in our hearts, that empty space in our lives.
We are awkward, goofy, funny, creative. We make you smile, we make you loose yourself in the madness that we give to the world around us.
And we die inside.
A laugh at a time.

Image credit:

Now that I am at home and not blogging from my phone, I have a few more things to add.  Manic depression is hellish.  If you have never experienced it you have no idea.  You go from bouncing off the walls to not wanting to move, talk to people, or have to suffer through another day.  Thankfully I got off of the pharmaceutical roller coaster myself, but I will tell you right now, those drugs are not wonder drugs.

Years ago I was on the pharmaceutical roller coaster.  Basically instead of looking for the problem they look to just treat the symptoms.  When the treatment of one symptom created another one they just prescribed another pill.  It is not a healthy way to live and it led greatly to my near breakdown, and resulting move twice across the country in 2008.

I was going up and down like I was on a yoyo string.  Some days I would just want to sit at home and do nothing.  Some days I would be so over-energetic that I would be vaulting over planters in downtown Duluth running from bar to bar.  I have had people stop me and ask me how much cocaine I was on only to see the surprise when I had to explain that I was actually on nothing.

The other side is that there were weeks where I had no idea what sleeping was like.  I did not fall asleep, I still have issues with sleeping, but it is better, but back then I would just stare that the ceiling until the alarm went off and I went to work.

I always went to work.

When people are depressed they need love, they need understanding, and they need a medical system that realizes that there are no wonder-drugs that will fix us.

We need outlets for our energy.

Maybe we just need a room full of Legos, maybe a giant ball pit to dive through.

Maybe we just need hugs.  Hugs and friends.

The problems don't fix themselves, but with practice they can be controlled.  I figured out what my cycle was and how to deal with it, or if not deal with it, just be aware of where I was so I could make more good choices than bad ones.

If I have more to say I will post a different blog, but with the traffic on this one, I figured it would be good to put this here.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lets build a Math!

Ok, Math, in this sage is kind of like a monastery, only difference is instead of trying to figure out all of that God stuff, we try to figure out the universe.  Like all of it.

We work on math, we work on science, well, mostly math and science.

We also see if we can find a better way to live.  We grow our own food, till our own gardens, build our own structures.

We have goats to clear land.  We have chickens to help dispose of kitchen waste (and also spontaneously produce eggs).

We grow corn, squash, potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, lettuce, radishes, et al....

We grow grain for bread, and more importantly beer!

We grow apples, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, plums, maybe cherries....

Trees for both heat and lumber.

Pick a place with nicely layered sandstone for construction of some nice walls to keep out deer, predators, and roaming bands of barbarians.

Almost most importantly, a really big clock.

I promised pictures, I have not drawn any yet.  They will be coming soon, but lets get the conversation started!

A quick trip to Canada with my sister and nephews...

My sister called, asked if I wanted to go camping.  It sounded like a great idea!  So we went, myself, her, and her two kids.  We went up to the Sleeping Giant across the bay from Thunder Bay, Ontario, and then wandered around a bit around the Amethyst mines and Ouimet Canyon.

I took pictures...

The water was very cold at Grand Portage, I would not recommend swimming!

Grand Portage has a cool little trading camp

The islands off of Silver Islet, the namesake is actually hidden behind the island on the left.

The nephews skipping rocks

The store at the end of the Sleeping Giant

The sea lion at the Sleeping Giant

Another view of the Sea Lion

A little garter snake on the beach.

The snake found a dead frog which he decided would be a good snack.

Amazingly he managed to swallow the thing!

We went looking for Amethyst, I happened across some nice sulfide veins in the rocks.

The arch bridge over the small part of Ouimet Canyon

The "Stone Indian" 

A look down Ouimet Canyon

There was a bird (just left and down from center) flying on the other side of the canyon, may have been a Peregrine Falcon...

Another look across the canyon.

Looking out of the canyon into Black Bay on the North end of Lake Superior.

The view from the swinging bridge.

The other side of the swinging bridge.

Cascade falls, a quick shot...

Cascade falls, a longer exposure...

I tipped the camera so that I could get both sets of falls.

Pretty, and likely poisonous, mushroom...

Another set of falls at Cascade.

Another longer exposure, I didn't have the tripod so these were a challenge.

Lake Superior near Cascade State Park.

Looking South West at Lake Superior, the lake was amazingly calm...

Interesting mineralized chunk of rock on the shore at cascade, lots of green to contrast with the grey blue that made up the rest of the basalt.

The sun was down, it was pitch black, this is a 106 second exposure at iso 400, and F3.5...
Have I mentioned I love my camera?

These are the falls at night, 39 seconds, f4, ISO 400, I lit the falls up with my headlamp...

Stacking rocks at Sugarloaf Cove

Another view...

Parting shot....
I may have to paint this one...