Wednesday, August 30, 2006

True Colors

Excellent Washington Post article analyzing Rumsfeld's American Legion speech. In some ways it was quite refreshing -- after all, this is the Rumsfeld that many of us suspected was there, and he's starting to reveal his true colors. Namely, that while he knows all the proper catch-phrases and hot-button adjectives, he doesn't really believe in democracy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Register Pours Cold Water on Liquid Bombs

When I first read about the dastardly plot to blow airliners out of the sky using some handy bottles of hair gel and sport drink bottles, my little engineering BS-detector went off. This is the little warning that goes off in my head that says "This is too good to be true, so it probably isn't".

However, as with most everything reported on terrorism and security these days, the articles were rather short on facts and long on "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!".

Fortunately, The Register, my favorite bastion of sarcasm, scorn, and skepticism, wrote this article on the subject, which says, basically, that it's not as easy at it sounds.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Autonomous Flight

I ran across this paper while doing some random Googling today. It's an interesting research report about the development of a prototype UAV.

The ultimate development target was a cargo UAV capable of autonomous takeoff, flight, and landing from land or water. The research was stopped after development of the initial prototype, but the journal of the development efforts makes for interesting reading. At least, it does if you're an engineer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Battered from the Weekend

Had a fun weekend, but I was pretty sore walking into the office on monday. Drove up friday to Loon Lake, and camped out there friday night (well, saturday morning, really, since we showed up at the campsite at 1AM). Woke up bright and early on saturday and headed out to the Rubicon Trail and onwards from there to some single track further back in the forest.

My 600 proved more than capable over the big rocks on the trail and out on the slab (I did not bring a camera, which is a shame, but the terrain was pretty rough), but I had trouble on some steep single track, and got stuck several times. Eventually Adam swapped bikes with me, and he was able to get my 600 up the track. Once I got it started -- Adam's bike has an off switch, which foiled me for some time -- I was able to get his bike up the hill without a problem, as well.

After that I was pretty tired, having fought with my bike and Adam's for several hours, so we headed back to camp, and I relaxed and slept for the rest of the day.

Sunday morning we packed up early and headed back to the bay area. Got home a little after noon, unloaded the bikes, and kicked around for a few hours before my two hockey games in the evening. We won both games, so both teams advance to the next round of the playoffs, but I took a little bit of a beating in the second game.

It's nice to go in to work. It gives me a chance to rest from the weekend.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Scariest News Item Today

Opened up the news sites today to read about the latest terrorist plot that has been foiled. No more water on planes, apparently. Pretty soon we'll have to fly naked.

But for me, that wasn't the scariest item in the news today. No, that item was an extract from the Anderson Cooper blog by a reporter in Lebanon. The reporter, Jim Clancy, was talking with a cab driver on the way to a funeral, and the cab driver shared this:
Near the end of the interview, he shared a thought about how the present in Lebanon will affect the future in the Middle East. He told me his 7-year-old son, Mohammed, approached him last night to announce that when he grows up he's going to get a gun and go fight the Israelis.

At seven years old you're still supposed to be thinking about toy guns.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dirt Bike Drama

I went riding a couple weeks ago and Adam and I swapped up bikes. He's been trying to convince me that I have so much trouble on single track because my XR600 is just too big and heavy.

To make a long story short, he was right. I hopped on his bike and all of a sudden the sections that had been giving me so much trouble weren't that bad any more. So we went bike shopping.

Last weekend I picked up a 2004 XR250 from a guy in Santa Cruz. Shook hands on the deal and then he tossed in "Oh yeah, there's no pink slip for the bike." Grrr. But he told me who he bought it from and the name of the dealer, so I didn't think he was trying anything too shady.

I called the dealer today and, far from being surprised that my bike had no title, the sales manager there said they had had a rash of bikes with no titles over the last few years. Said that someone at the DMV blew a gasket and just dumped the paperwork, so now they've hired someone to go over recent sales and figure out what happened.

Hopefully this paperwork problem will be cleared up before the weekend, when we're supposed to do a two-day dirt-biking extravaganza. Otherwise I may be back on the XR600 due to the lack of a green sticker.