practical thermodynamics
there's nothing quite like riding a motorcycle in near-freezing weather with winds gusting to 30 mph to give an up-close and personal demonstration of the efficacy of convective heat transfer.

velocity squared
velocity squared is a bitch. aeronautical engineering is about making it YOUR bitch.

random odd sight of the weekend: a brick, lying apparently unsecured in the roadway of an alley. the brick was spray-painted fluorescent orange and had a surveyor's mark affixed to it. perhaps it was not meant to be a semi-permanent form of benchmark... the idea of a benchmark where any passer-by could trivially disturb the implied high precision of the artifact brings to mind the long-term futility of human endeavor. sic transit gloria metrologia or something...

seat assignment: JMP
not for me, but i saw it on a boarding lounge monitor for someone on the standby list. i'm guessing it was for a deadheading crew member. i would have thought the airline would use other channels to inform crew members... also, riding a bus to a remote terminal is a great way to hear APUs up close.

happiness is a warm motorcycle
again, i am reminded that the Bandit is a cold-blooded beast that doesn't really come to life until about 7000 rpm and the engine is warm enough to keep the radiator fan constantly on. finally got it inspected this morning after a break in the rain and taking the trouble to reinstall the battery that's been plugged into a Battery Tender (tm) for a few months, then took it on a roundabout route to work to get it nicely hot and bothered -- enough to get it to purr at idle instead of choking and gasping. sadly, there is still enough accumulated crud in the fuel system for it to sound asthmatic again when it's cold.

i can has high voltage
got an Oudin coil in the mail on Friday. used it to ionization-test a few laser tubes. the 5 Watt Spectra-Physics model 165 argon laser in my office still has argon in it, amazingly enough. that's slightly more incentive to fix it up and get it running. (well, at least it has some gas at low pressure that glows that lovely argon violet-blue-cyan, and hopefully no air...) my officemate's model SP-162 (a smaller air-cooled argon) also looks intact. inconclusive results on the Uniphase/Cyonics 2214. (it's got a cylindrical metal housing that probably interferes with getting stuff inside it to glow. partial disassembly may be required.)

handheld sources of 50kV high-frequency electricity are fun. now to find a cheap (ha!) source of 208V three-phase at 35 amps and a cooling water loop for the SP-165.

cryptic observation
(possibly of use to some of you; possibly a stimulus for future useful insights)

efficacious reality hacking is the result of a finely tuned synthesis of hubris and humility.

im in ur gutterz, clearin ur drainage
or "how i spent my christmas eve"

this one storm drain on our block has a bad habit of getting buried in snow by snowplows. i spent a few hours digging it out, inside a plow-enhanced snowdrift taller than me. why? this storm drain happens to drain the side of the street where my motorcycles are currently parked, and motorcycles embedded in ice six inches deep are much less fun.

CS paper quote
The node [...] representing the active suffix [...] is the neuralgic point of the suffix tree.

atmospheric optics
not sure of the exact provenance, but as i was riding the train into NYC yesterday, saw a stunning display of atmospheric optics. small patch of rainbow-hued smudge at the same altitude as the setting sun. was probably a sundog or part of a parhelic circle. red color was toward the sun. i am accustomed to only seeing interesting atmospheric optics at 37k ft or so, and it was impressive to see these phenomena at ground level.

 saw a truck hauling a trailer labeled "" down the street.  looks like someone is going to have a very bad day.

spooky forensics shit
computer forensics are getting a little scary. check out this tool for doing hot-plug AC power transfer to seize a running computer without interrupting its power supply... so any disk encryption, etc., in use can be defeated because the OS is still running and the suspect still logged in. there's even a device to simulate mouse activity to prevent screensavers from activating. of course certain countermeasures readily come to mind... yay arms races!

neighborhood hydrology
weather around Boston has been dramatically surreal recently, randomly switching among seasons in the space of a single day, or in some cases, a single hour. (snow; warm+sunny; rain; sunny; thundersnow(!!!); etc...) the drainage conditions on our street reached a state that can best be described as "royally fucked": mounds of compacted dead leaves clogged the drains, and then the vegetable matter combined with ice from various snowstorms (some ice and snow still remaining from storms that were months ago) to form something resembling Pykrete, having the attendant properties of being quite strong and resisting melting.

today's torrential rains didn't help; the street looked like a river, and long after the rain stopped, the water continued to cover the crown of the roadway, overflowed the curbs, and covered large stretches of sidewalk to at least an inch in places. dire Weather Service warnings about flooding turned out to be accurate. with freezing weather and the ever-popular "wintry mix" predicted in the near future, i had no intention of allowing curb-height standing water to freeze solid and turn our motorcycles into popsicles... been there, done that, spent the many hours chiseling them out of the ice.

the neighbors do remember to shovel their sidewalks most times, but hardly anyone bothers unclogging storm drains, and the City isn't exactly vigilant about doing so either. out i went with the shovel and attacked the nearby ones. today was warm enough that the Pykrete-like mess had mostly turned back into slush and sodden dead leaves, which was still challenging to remove due to my lack of wading boots and the resulting awkward angles from which i had to dig out the drains.

water flows surprisingly quickly when you give it a large enough opening. even after clearing only a corner of one of the worst drains, the standing water drained at an astonishing rate... i would estimate maybe a hundred gallons per minute or more. six inches of water covering almost half a block flowed down the drain in a few minutes, and made some spectacular noises all the while.

a business meeting we were to have in Redmond was canceled after we had already made travel plans to go the Seattle area, so i was planning to have a free afternoon to spend around Seattle. this was not to be. en route by car from Portland to Seattle, we were informed that the Redmond meeting was happening after all. we executed an abrupt course change. along with the various other misadventures, mostly involving adding urgent things to my workload, it has been quite a long day.

close encounters of the auditory kind
BOS-LAX-PDX, then in a few days SEA-ORD-BOS. funfunfun.

BOS-LAX had screaming children; LAX-PDX was delayed by 30 minutes and had seat-kicking children. i wasn't quite tempted to ask the flight attendants to deny the kids any sugar or caffeine. oh, and the multiple airside shuttle buses trips at LAX required to reach the terminal for my connecting flight included the exciting experience of hearing a turboprop spin up at close range...

in which footwear experiences ablation
learned the hard way another reason to be careful when upshifting in a turn, at least for left-handed turns. i didn't quite drag a foot peg, but i did drag the toe of my boot. fortunately, no crash. i didn't think i was leaned over that far, either.

a tale of two words

which word do you use to refer to the action of placing some computer equipment in a datacenter, alongside other equipment that possibly belongs to other parties? there appears to be some disagreement as to whether this word is "co-location", "colocation", or "collocation"... providers of this service sometimes list all three forms in their advertising!

"co-location" and "colocation" can reasonably be treated as the same. a googlefight shows several times more occurrences of "colocation" than of "collocation", and "collocation" is more likely to refer to the linguistic definition, "the habitual juxtaposition of specific words in sentences of a language". the OED only has "collocation", and lists its pronunciation as [kɒləʊˈkeɪʃən], with the first vowel being the same as in "colleague" or "colloid", which is not a pronunciation i've ever heard from anyone referring to the datacenter meaning; it is more usual to pronounce the first vowel as in "collusion" or as in the "co-" prefix, which adequately explains the preponderance of uses of the spelling "colocation".

the spelling dictionaries of MS Word and ispell only include "collocation", so i conclude that the datacenter usage of this spelling results from people typing "colocation" and having it corrected to "collocation" by software, despite its rarely being pronounced "collocation".

don't get me started about "comprise" versus "compose"...

interestingly, the Czechs appear to have a completely different absinthe ritual than the French. no wonder they gave me a box of matches and no ice water. too bad i didn't know about this discrepancy beforehand... oops.

ZOMG the pub food here is full of onions, sauerkraut, and pickled red cabbage!!! that's way too many of my favourite foods...

in which water flows downhill
last week's slush storm made several quite large lakes of slush on my street. i did shovel out the storm drain closest to my house before the slush turned into rock-hard ice, but failed to locate the drain which drains the side of the street where my bikes are actually parked. they are now literally embedded in ice. this week, i unsuccessfully attempted to locate the storm drains which i had missed, chiseling through at least six inches of ice in places and striking asphalt instead of metal.

yesterday's effort appears to have had some effect. the pooled water in the pit i had made in the ice was apparently enough to undercut the ice covering the actual storm drain, mere feet away from where i had been chiseling. i returned to examine the location yesterday night and discovered a small but deep hole in the ice and the sound of dripping water. sounds like a storm drain... hey, it is a storm drain. of course, this morning it was iced over again, but now that i knew the location, i was able to chop away at the ice until i had mostly uncovered the grate.

next: cut a drainage channel along the curb from my bikes to the drain, so they do not continue to be embedded in ice...

in which machinery is obstinate
i took the Bandit out for a ride on Sunday. sitting out in the cold for long periods of time isn't being kind to its carburetors. i'm sure all the unburnt hydrocarbons flying out the exhaust were doing happy things for the environment. the spectacular noises from the engine misfiring were probably also a bit unsociable. the vacuum slides on the CV carburetors appeared to be sticking and causing lots of misfiring at moderate throttle openings. perhaps this cantankerous piece of Japanese machinery is being jealous of the (slightly less) cantankerous piece of Italian machinery, which is getting ridden much more often.

me: more power plz kthxbye
Bandit: bugger off. i'm tired.
me: this limping along at 30 mph in 3rd gear is getting old. you're supposed to redline at 14000 rpm, why are you sticking at 4000?
me: [cranks throttle wide open]
Bandit: omfg this air is cold
Bandit: [stumbling misfiring noises; power output drops]
me: yeah, deal with it
Bandit: oh all right...
Bandit: [vacuum slides abruptly unstick and bike takes off like a rocket]

all roses are hypotrochoids, but not all hypotrochoids are roses. it's interesting to think about them in terms of sum and difference frequencies...

things that should not be
i appear to have bludgeoned Excel into doing some semblance of double-entry bookkeeping. i'm not sure whether this is a good thing. data entry is still a bitch, though.

underappreciated statements about security

(1) if a vulnerability is not well-known, that doesn't necessarily mean it won't be exploited.

(2) if a vulnerability is well-known, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be exploited.

a little Monster

2006 Ducati Monster 620 Dark. the red bike in the far background is my older bike, a 1992 Suzuki GSF400 "Bandit". (it serendipitously appeared in the frame.)
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the above images link to larger versions. [ full size ]

while i was was at the dealer picking up the Monster, someone in the workshop fired up a customized 749. it was loud; its cutaway clutch cover let me hear every power stroke make the gold-anodized pressure plate ring like a jackhammer. (i'm not sure why someone would want a cutaway clutch cover on a street bike. road grit getting into your clutch plates can't be a good thing.) on the other hand, the Monster is quiet... much quieter than the Bandit. on the highway, i can barely hear the Monster's engine above the wind noise.


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