Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bilge Pump

I made a bilge pump today, it was based on this design.


  • 3 : 1 inch 10-24 machine bolts w/nuts (you only need one nut)
  • 1 : 24 inch dowel 1/2 inch diameter
  • 1 : 24 inch pvc pipe 1 inch diamter
  • 1 : PVC L connector
  • 1 : PVC End cap
  • 1 : cupboard pull
  • 2 : 1 inch squares of duct tape
  • 1 : 1 inch disk of plastic (I am temporarily using balsa, might use the plywood from the boat)

It should cost you around $10 at home depot. I used a tap on the holes where the bolts were threaded, I don't know if that is absolutely necessary. The duct tape was folded on itself and then cut into a circle. I used the outer diameter of the pipe as the size, the plastic or wooden disk is the inner diameter. I pushed the pipe on anything that needed to be a circle so that I could cut it accurately.

The pump works great (tested in the sink) and really gets the water moving. On the handle I had to drill the hole all of the way through, and then use a 1/2 inch bit to only drill down about half way. Normally a cupboard pull is held from the other side.

For all you haters out there, now at least I won't sink if the boat leaks :-p.

Superbowl Pool

I edited the superbowl pool file from last year. It is available as a pdf or ods (so you can edit it).

Here is what it looks like: (without the Page 1 water mark...)

MLK Day and firearms

Last weekend I spent MLK day on a snowboarding trip. We snowboarded on Monday, I got to the level of being able to go down a slope without falling (only did it once, and I think that was mid day...) . The other days were spent either driving or shooting. No pics of the snow boarding, Denisse didn't take the picture when I was actually standing on the board and moving downhill.

On the first half of the first day we went to a local farm and just walked around and had fun on the land. John brought a flintlock rifle for everyone to try out, so I made an animated gif from some of the pictures. Click the picture of me to see the gif if it is not moving.

I think everyone there had a chance to fire it once, and then we messed around with a lever action .22LR. I even got a shot of Sara shooting the .22LR.

In the afternoon we shot some .45-70 out of a Remington rolling block type action(really neat and very simple. I like it alot... ) and a lever action. Targets were about 100 yards away. I was shooting slightly high and to the right. I may have been 'heeling' and anticipating the recoil. .45-70 is quite a bit more than I am used to shooting. It was also fairly cold outside, much colder than I am used to. I'll have to see if it was me or the rifle. After that we fired Mauser action 9mmx57mm and 9.3mmx57mm at targets about 400 yards away. We found a metal plate to plink at out at 400 yards and a beer bottle sitting on a rock. I thought I had seen the plate, but it turns out I was shooting at a circular shadow (with a golden leaf slightly off center that looked like copper splatter), and the real plate was about 12 feet to the right. Too bad, I doubt I will get a chance to shoot on a 400 yard range anytime soon. John barely missed the beer bottle, from running down range and checking it out, I estimate he was about .5-1 inch low and shattered the top of the rock that was holding it.

The last day I fired my own arms, some 1911 with the new ammo I bought and the first test of the Mossberg. I am extremely satisfied with the Mossberg 500 purchase, it was a joy to shoot and looked like it didn't need any sights adjustment.

Here is the mean cat,

Denisse scooping something,

The dogs and I think, Denisse,

Some cows,

More cows,


Too many pictures, I know. I should just make a gallery for the rest of them. I'll add some videos in a future post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Expandable Tree

For my special topics last semester I wrote about some ways to visualize architecture metrics (or any values in a hierarchical manner).

I haven't seen the expandable tree visualization before, so I wanted to document it on the interwebs before someone else does it. (Although, they probably already have)

It is basically a expandable tree widget with some added features. The different levels of the hierarchy are colored different colors to ease readability. You can get an overall view from the bars, which show the percentage of the total. The actual values are shown to the left of the system. You can drill down into the subsystems to see more information or keep a top level view.

P.S. Those numbers are completely made up and partially silly.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bad Breath and Life

I have been meaning to blog about this, but I don't want to forget so this is going to be a short version.

Calorie restriction is known to increase lifespan. I have a theory that I want to test out about it. They still do not know the mechanism for why it works. Then I was thinking, what happens when you do CR? You get halitosis. This leads to the production of hydrogen sulfide. Now, combine that with the concept that mice given hydrogen sulfide also live longer.

Hypothesis: Part of the mechanism that causes CR to work involves hydrogen sulfide created in halitosis.

Is bad breath the secret to long life?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snow in Atlanta

Pics to follow. But, said it best....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Best News in a long time...

Births Way UP

Births in the United States are up. This is important because we need to be able to replace our own population and pay for all of the social security and medicare. We just can't compete with China or India with our low birth rates and small population. I would like to see more smart people having babies! Get to it, married couples!

I feel the same way....

loldog, lol dog, and funny dog pictures
moar cute puppy pictures

Monday, January 14, 2008

Interesting word

I ran across mamihlapinatapai while reading 'Prisoner's Dilemma' by William Poundstone. It is a word from the Fuegian language of the natives of Tierra del Fuego. He states that it means "looking at each other hoping that either will offer to do something that both parties desire but are unwilling to do". This is in reference to the Cuban missile crisis. Both parties were not interesting in escalating the event to a world wide nuclear war, but neither wanted to be the first to back down. It is a perfect word for the Volunteer's Dilemma.

The volunteer's dilemma occurs when you are driving down the highway and see a stranded car. Do you call the police or stop and help the person? It would be bad if *everyone* stopped or called the police, but it would be worse if *no one* called. (this assumes that the person was sans cell phone, which is highly unlikely these days)

Online, I found the urban dictionary and this link the most amusing uses.

Water Tight Boat

The boat is now considered "water tight"

Attached are 4 pictures of the boat. The PL stuff gets very bubbly, I think that the curing temperature and taping are big factors in the looks of the glue. I cut into a bubble and some have air, and some don't. We will sand down or shave some of the excess glue off before painting. Sara helped me with finishing up the seams.

Left to do is choosing a paint scheme and buying/applying the paint. At that point I will give the boat the designation "Pond Worthy"

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Boat: Self Supporting

Over the last week I put an adhesive (PL Premium Construction) on the inside seams of the boat. Yesterday, I removed the zip ties and the boat is now holding itself together.

The steps were:
Use popsicle sticks (for consistent gaps) and duct tape (for containing glue) on all seams.
Next I applied the glue in between the zip ties and the sticks.

The next step is to fill in the zip tie holes and the gaps from the other side. One that sets I will patch up the inside seams.

The big decision is whether I should use epoxy/fiberglass, drywall mesh/PL, or nothing on the seams once I am done that.

Other than that it just needs paint and testing. I know everyone wants to see the first voyage, so I'll keep you posted on when that will occur.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Fiscal Year 2007 Financial Report of the United States Government

"We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant's books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them"
- President Thomas Jefferson to Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin, 1802.

Let's see how the government did...

I started reading the 'Citizen's Guide' of the "Fiscal Year 2007 Financial Report of the United States Government". The Citizen's Guide is a summary and is 10 pages out of 186 pages for the report. We have been receiving more taxes, but increasing the budget at a slower pace. The net operating costs are -275.5 billion. The government is on the hook for 9.205 trillion, split fairly evenly between debt held by the public and federal employee and veteran benefits. The big problem looming comes up next in the first table, it is expected that the US will have to pay out between 40.9-45.0 trillion dollars in social security over the next 75 years.

On page 9 there is a chart titled "Current Trends are not Sustainable". I suspect someone has a college degree! If we pull in roughly what we have been pulling in (Total Revenues), about 20% of the GDP, then by 2050 the chart says we should be bringing in 35%. Even if we pay off the national debt, we would by 2050 need to be bringing in 25% of the GDP. I am not too sure on their model though, it looks sort of simple.

On page 11 they show an interesting chart with the % of GDP that is debt. It looks like 50% is about where it has been at. The model shows an exponential increase starting relatively soon.

I like Chart E on page 14, It shows that DoD ~= Social Security ~= Department of Health and Human Services ~= Everything else but debt. Social programs account for twice as much as the DoD. Each person in the United States owes about 17,000 dollars. About half of this is in foreign countries, so they are receiving our interest payments. Good news, as a percentage of GDP the debt has fallen from 50% in 1993 to 36.9% in 2007.

Farther into the report, page 122, they estimate that the cross over year for Social Security will be in 2017. In 2041 the trust fund for social security is estimated to be spent. Medicare is a bit worse off. The cross over occurred sometime in 2005 or 2006. The trust fund is only projected to last until 2019.

There are a lot of things that the politicians need to be talking about this 2008 election year. One that you won't hear too much about will be budget related issues. The issues are coming, and we need to start dealing with them. The government is bailing out the financial industry from stupid loans, but who will bail out the government?

Overall the report was fairly easy to understand, but the implications of the data are harder to decipher. The GAO is still not satisfied with the agencies and their accounting processes.

To even begin to solve this problem we need to get the budget finalized before the financial year starts. We elect and pay congress to figure things out. They are supposed to disagree, and then find a way to agree. We need to hold congress (and the President) accountable for not figuring out the budget. I don't see how congress needs to be involved in a baseball doping scandal when it should be managing the government. I would love to see a law mandating that a budget is passed before the financial year starts, with something absurd like jail time for congress if they can't get it done.

*All numbers are in current 2007 dollars.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Business Card

I came up with a neat business card a while ago,

I was going to have "Problem Solver" and then my name, centered on the card. Phone number on the back or something. Maybe just the slogan "I solve problems".

I have another slightly underdeveloped idea, I could embellish that with "Translator".

A large portion of problem solving is just translating the problem that you don't know how to solve into one that you do know how to solve. You do this by changing your assumptions, simplifying, complicating, or translating the problem. The translated problem is equivalent, but cast in a way that is actionable.