April in Florida, Part II

After Part I

April 6-14, 2005

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

In this clock shaped arrangement of 'double lever' corkscrews can you spot the one that you would most love to find at a garage sale? And, can you find the one that can be found hanging from a display rack in the wine section of almost any large supermarket? And, what is the price differential (*)? Finally, what about those that fall in the 'middle'?


(*) Hint: e-Bay and any city that has a Publix.


Thursday, April 7, 2005

Nick Hunt from 'Downunder' adds these three double-levers to the 'list'.


Friday, April 8, 2005

And Don Bull trumps us all!


PS: Unless it is woman's double leverage:


Entitled: Woman 'doubling' another woman; a woman leveraging a woman over her hips.


Saturday, April 9, 2005

This extremely rare "Iowa" 2004 US QUARTER DOLLAR (*) came my way via the change slot of a Pepsi vending machine. Its size is best judged by comparing it next to a corkscrew that was once used by a lady of great breeding. The bulk of this little engine is constructed with gold and it bares the maker's mark on its base. The screw itself is of a lesser metal; and its diminutive design demands that it only be used for removing corks from tiny perfume bottles. Entombed in the handle (**) is a 2 power spotting glass ... through which the lady could closer inspect people on the stage.


(*) You'll just have to take my word for it...that the flip side of the coin is "Iowa" and not some other state.

(**) Gold and some cream colored stuff.


Sunday, April 10, 2005

Yesterday Paul and I were discussing the 'good old days'; when dial up speeds were just 4 and 5 digits strong ... and, in one case where 300bps was the 'pedal to the metal'. That particular machine was the Model 100 from Radio Shack ... it was my first real computer. It could send e-mail and retrieve stock quotes in black and white. Its screen was 8 lines tall and 64 characters wide and it could remember all this stuff with 8k of RAM. The acoustic cups were invaluable in the days when most phones were hard wired into the plaster board.

Last night I tried to fire up this old workhorse ... but machine Alzheimer had apparently taken over its memory and it could only respond with "?". But, maybe not! You see, the instruction manual is about 250 pages long and perhaps the machine thought that I was the idiot.


PS: "Perhaps less well known is the fact that the Tandy Model 100 shares a kindred link with the Mars Pathfinder probe's Sojourner rover - the 80C85 microprocessor!"

This from the Mars Pathfinder site:

What type(s) of CPU does the rover have? How fast is it? How much memory does it have? What other storage devices?

Does the software on the Rover include a model of the Rover (for things like movement, orientation, power management, ...) or are these things handled seperately at a lower conceptual level?

How does the Rover know its location and orientation? What type of model does it assume it lives in (i.e., flat glid, flat hexgrid, flat 2 dimensional, 3 dimensional, etc)?

The 'Sojourner' rover has only a single CPU used in its operation. The computer is an 80C85 with a 2MHz clock rated at 100KIPS. It can address 64K of memory. The computer uses, in a 16Kbyte page swapping fashion, the memory provided in 4 different chip types:

Size (Kbytes) Type Function
16 PROM, Harris 6617 Boot code and 'Rover-Lite' backup code
64 RAM, IBM 2586 Main memory
176 5, SEEQ 28C256 32Kbyte chips Programs, patches and nonvolatile data storage
512 Micron MT1008 RAM Temporary data storage

At boot up or upon reset the computer begins execution from the radiation hardened PROM. The programming stored in PROM loads programs into the radiation hardened RAM from non-volatile RAM. Program execution proceeds from the RAM. As commands are executed, other programming in non-volatile RAM is required and then swapped into the RAM for execution. To prevent excessive thrashing, some programs are executed from non-volatile RAM.

The software on the rover does not have explicit kinematic, dynamic or functional models. However, the software does contain tables, constants and equations which are derived from experience in performance with the vehicle and embody predictions (for example) for use in power and thermal management.

The rover maintains an estimate of distance (from the lander) and orientation. As it drives, it updates distance by tracking wheel revolutions using encoders which count motor shaft revolutions. An average of the values derived from the six wheel encoder measurements is used to determine distance traveled. A gyro is used to measure changes in orientation. Distance and orientation estimates are referenced to a coordinate system centered at the lander. Once per day, the lander cameras image the rover. Measurements derived from this image provide an update which is given to the rover as part of its daily command load. The on-board rover estimators update the estimate in distance and orientation during traverses between daily commanded updates.

There are no assumptions concerning terrain modeled within the rover software. By the use of accelerometers, one aligned on each axis, the rover knows its orientation to the gravity vector on the surface. All other measurements and checks of position of rover components (e.g., bogies, wheels, etc.) are developed from sensor measurements.


Monday, April 11, 2005 (What is the real message here?)

Spaghetti strap girls warned of disease risk

BANGKOK: -- Wearing tops with thin straps can be seriously bad for your health, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

In an extraordinary directive published yesterday, a ministry spokeswoman warned young women who favour 'spaghetti strap' tops, particularly those made from dark-coloured fabrics, that they were putting themselves at risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, which were the carriers of diseases ranging from elephantiasis to dengue fever and malaria.

The ministry spokeswoman warned women who showed their shoulders, backs or belly buttons that they could become the victims of such conditions unless they modified their sartorial habits.

She advocated, instead, wearing clothing which covered the skin, and which was in the pale shades that are less attractive to mosquitoes.

At the same time, she noted that mosquitoes liked to rest on outside clothes lines and in baskets fall of dirty laundry.

Although it is often thought that the mosquitoes responsible for the sometimes fatal dengue fever are unable to withstand the dry season, the ministry spokeswoman exploded this belief as a myth, and said that instead the eggs could survive for several months in drought conditions, hatching as soon as the rains came.


PS: Reader O. from BKK correctly observes: "Well, this is a new twist anyway. Usually, the story gets trotted out every year prior to Songkran that the powers-that-be do not want such flimsy dress to take away from the sanctity of the Songkran celebration. All revelers should refrain from such skimpy clothes and deck themselves out in more traditional Thai garb so as to preserve the solemness of the occasion..."


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

One is called the "Magic" and the other is named "U-Neek". Any guesses?



Wednesday, April 13, 2005 (pre-journal)

Dear reader, do you remember our fruitless search for James Quality Jewelers? If you forgot just click here to enjoy the hunt 'de novo' ... starting Jan. 11, 2004, again Jan. 13, 2004

Anyway, reader R, W. from Nevada writes:

I was looking through your web site, and interested in someone's search for James Quality Jewelers in Bangkok. The reason I found your web site, is because I was trying to find some friends I haven't seen in years. James actually died, I believe around 1992 or 1993. His brother had a store in the Frankfurt Air Base hotel. It was a branch of James Quality Jewelers. The store was run by James' brother and his brother's wife. I don't know the brother's name, but the wife was Napa. Her name was easy to remember, because of Napa Auto Parts, although she pronounced it a bit differently ... with the accent on the second part. I bought things from their store every time I went to Germany, from 1988 through 1991.

I know that as late as October 2003, someone from James Quality Jewelers was traveling throughout many military bases in the U.S. In that month, they were at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. I found a web site for the Officers Club meeting minutes that mentioned that. Other than that, I can't locate anything.

I'd be interested to know if you ever had any luck finding any of the family of the original owner.

Obviously, James' web was far bigger than any of us thought it was ... back in those days when Don Bull idled some pictures of James' goodies in my direction.


PS: James follow-up story: November 3, 2005


Wednesday, April 13, 2005 (Songkran Day in Thailand)

Here are four different Heeley Double Lever corkscrews in various stages of exercise.


PS: Though this is the first year that I have missed Songkran ... my memories from previous years are still alive.


Thursday, April 14, 2005 (pre-journal)

The Bull charges again!


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Marana incident a rarity in usually safe sport

'Freakish' balloon crash kills 1 north of city
By Becky Pallack
ARIZONA DAILY STAR

A "freakish" hot-air balloon crash that left one man dead and 10 people injured in Marana on Wednesday was a rare example of what can go wrong in a typically safe sport, experts said.

Thomas Gregorio, 72, was killed when his chest was crushed in the accident, near Twin Peaks and Quarry roads, said Sgt. Bill Derfus of the Marana Police Department.

His wife, Rosemarie, 75, needed surgery for her injuries and was in critical condition at University Medical Center on Wednesday night.

The couple, from New York, were visiting relatives in Tucson for their anniversary.

Witnesses on the east side of Sombrero Peak, also known as Safford Peak, told police the balloon was flying low, Derfus said. The passengers may have been injured when the basket clipped the peak. Witnesses on the west side said they saw the balloon's basket tilting to one side, hanging from two supports, Derfus said.

Because the burner was offset, the balloon caught fire. When it came down, it narrowly missed power lines and bounced across 200 yards of desert before stopping, Derfus said. No one was ejected from the large basket.

The crash is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration, said Holly Baker, an agency spokeswoman. The official cause has not been determined, she said.

Hot-air balloon crashes are rare. Nationwide, the FAA investigated an average of 16 accidents a year for the past five years. Six percent - or 5 of 84 - involved a fatality.

Since 2000, there have been six balloon accidents in Arizona: four in the Phoenix metro area and two in Northern Arizona. None of those was fatal. The most recent Southern Arizona balloon crash happened near Sierra Vista in 1992.

Local balloon pilots speculated about the cause of Wednesday's accident and tried to analyze any unusually strong wind patterns.

But Ron K. Miller, chief pilot for Balloon America in Tucson, said flying conditions were normal and good on Wednesday morning.

"It's a terrible tragedy and a freakish type of an accident," he said.

Pilot Jeffrey Gilles, 31, and crew chief Kevin Wileur, 33, work for Thunderbird Adventures, a company Gilles started with his wife, Julie, in 2003.

Gilles, who has flown balloons in locations across the world for at least 12 years, has won several ballooning awards, including a third place out of 750 competitors in the 2001 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the biggest balloon show in the world.

"Jeff is a very accomplished pilot," said Cliff Richardson, a Saguaro Aerostat Association pilot who lives in the area where the crash occurred.

Gilles also was familiar with the area. His balloon was one of 21 in the air near the mountains Sunday morning during a rally for local enthusiasts.

Both Gilles and Wileur suffered minor injuries in the crash. No one answered the phones at Thunderbird Adventures on Wednesday. A recorded message said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their families."

Another couple, passengers Gina Schiavone, 49, and Leonard Schiavone, 53, were in serious condition at UMC.

The other passengers suffered minor injuries. They are: Adrienna Armstrong, 71; Caitriona Armstrong, 36; Madison Smith, 36; Rosemary Steffes, 59; and Gerda Trent, 63.

The balloon, a Cameron A-210 model, is certified to carry 10 passengers plus a pilot in a gondola-style basket, so it was at full capacity at the time of the crash, Miller said.

That type of balloon is one of the largest certified by the FAA. Larger balloons use less fuel and last longer than smaller models and are more practical for hot climates and for carrying passengers, according to the FAA Balloon Flying Handbook used in pilot training.

All balloon pilots must be trained and certified by the FAA and follow that agency's federal flight regulations, and good balloonists constantly monitor the weather, according to the handbook.

But sometimes pilots feel pressure from tourists and other paying clients who have scheduled flights when conditions are not optimal for flying, said Dev Sethi, a Tucson attorney who has represented several people injured in balloon crashes in Arizona.

"The key is to keep their excitement in check," he said. "Disappointment is a lot less than the potential tragedy."

Consumers often don't know what questions to ask or what the appropriate answers are, said Fred Ferguson, a retired balloon pilot who lives in Phoenix. Ferguson owned his own balloon tour company and sometimes testified in court as a ballooning expert.

Passengers can help protect themselves by asking their tour provider or pilot about the daily weather conditions and accident records. If conditions are not safe, they may reschedule.

Consumers may keep in mind that day-to-day safety should include a visual inspection of the balloon to make sure equipment is in working order, a preflight plan and weather reports, Ferguson said.

Once at the launch site, a pilot should test the weather using a small balloon filled with helium to check for strong winds higher in the air that people can't feel from the ground, he said.

A tour company should be responsible for pilots' qualifications, Ferguson said.

"When you get on an America West flight, you don't go knock on the door and say, 'Hey pilot, how many flight hours do you have?' You expect America West to do that for you," he said.

In his 23 years as a pilot, Ferguson was asked only a couple of times whether he'd had an accident, he said.

Accidents do affect the ballooning business, Ferguson said. He predicted calls will come in more slowly for local companies, but people from out of town who haven't heard about the accident will keep business steady.

Next: Part III

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