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shit.

My computer died this afternoon.

I woke it up from hibernation and it tripped a house circuit. When the power was restored, I hit the switch and…nothing. Not a flicker.

Is that the power supply? It sounds like the power supply.

That leaves me with a dilemma. Power supply is a trivial fix, but this is already a ten-year-old computer. It’s been an excellent one (I always stretch my budget to get the bestest machine I possibly can), but it’s had other hiccups.

In fact, there’s a chance the fancy new graphics card may have overloaded the power supply. I don’t know. Does it work like that?

Anyway, I’ll open it up over the weekend and see if there’s a…fuse or short or something. Like I could spot that. And then I have to make a painful choice.

What am I typing on now? I have a vintage 2003 XP machine up in my workroom that I use exclusively to look at pictures of chickens. Anything more sophisticated than that (like surfing the internet) and it whines and cries and gets the hives.

I’ll keep you posted.

p.s. Unkawill wins the Dead Pool with Roy Clarke. Despite my…issues…there will be a new Dead Pool tomorrow. Same weasel time, same weasel channel.

November 15, 2018 — 7:23 pm
Comments: 13

But wait, there’s more…

Divers around the area where the Antikythera Mechanism was found have discovered what they believe to be another piece of it. In fact, there have been continuous diving expeditions to the wreck site, official and otherwise, and all sorts of interesting things have come out of the water (though nothing as spectacular as this).

To refresh: in 1909, Greek sponge divers brought found a bunch of things on a 2,000 year old wreck near the island of Antikythera, including an unremarkable chunk of crap. Many years later, someone thought to x-ray the chunk of crap and discovered it was the corroded remains of a small, incredibly complex gear-driven analogue celestial computer.

The image above is an exploded view via computer model of what they think it looked like. Some of the structure is speculative, but quite a lot of it has been confirmed to be present and to work.

From the first link above (which is a very interesting article; you should read it):

The Mechanism could do not only basic math: with dozens of exquisitely worked cogwheels, it could calculate the movements of the sun and moon, predict eclipses and equinoxes, and could be used to track the solar system planets, the constellations, and much more.

We may never know how many cogwheels the original Antikythera Mechanism had. Assessments based on its functions in predicting the behavior of the cosmos range from 37 to over 70. For comparison, the most advanced Swiss watches have four cogwheels.

They don’t know exactly what the new bit is. It looks like a backplate of some kind. Under x-ray, there’s an etched image of a bull, so it may have something to do with the constellation of Taurus. It may not even be part of the famous mechanism, but it is metallurgically similar. Was there more than one?

There were all kinds of other things on the wreck I hadn’t heard of before; it was a huge ship. Like 50 life-sized statues of Homeric figures, and the wreck happened at a time when they think Homer had gone out of style. Antiques Roadshow, Ancient Greek Edition? Who knows?

And don’t tell me the Mechanism was the one and only calculating machine they had. Complex technologies don’t spring out of nowhere as a one-off. How much mind-blowing stuff has been completely lost to history…?

November 14, 2018 — 8:35 pm
Comments: 9

More tales from my surveillance camera

See the bright spot? At first I thought it was a flashlight. It twinkled a bit and bobbled up and down slightly, but it really isn’t in a place a person with a flashlight could be, unless it was someone rising out of the irrigation ditch. Then it began to drift and move oddly and I thought it must be a ghost, naturally.

It is, in fact, a very tiny spider rappelling down a strand of web right in front of the lens, out of focus and in full light. I am desperately disappointed in all the interesting things I haven’t seen on my surveillance camera.

Oh, and the Irish Aviation Authority is investigating a UFO spotted by several commercial flights last night. If you open this guy’s tweet and click his link, you can hear the pilots chatter about it.

The relevant bit is between 17:54 and about 20:00. Nothing terribly interesting, except the pilot who gives a nervous laugh and says, “I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw that.”

Surely I can find an Irish Aviation Authority joke in here somewhere.

November 13, 2018 — 7:34 pm
Comments: 9

A big middle finger to today

I won’t say getting my finger caught in the door was the best thing to happen to me today, but it didn’t really stand out all that much in a day full of suck.

I hate Mondays.

And it hurts to type.

p.s. RIP Stan Lee. No, nobody had him.

November 12, 2018 — 8:56 pm
Comments: 11

Alexandra’s last voyage

Rye’s bonfire is tomorrow. We drove past this afternoon as they were building it. It’s traditional to include a boat on the pile (though they usually don’t — even a scruffy old boat is worth something).

I got curious about this one and searched its registration: RX87.

It is a very photographed boat, mostly in recent years picturesquely dilapidating on the shore. Her name is Alexandra. According to this Flickr account “She is the Alexandra was registered RX87. She was built in 1958 at Whitstable for a Rye fisherman then went to Hastings where she ended her days.”

Her working days, that must be. She seems to have ended her days on land on Rye Harbour Road, and she will truly be ending them tomorrow night in flames on the salt flats in front of Rye.

Here she is halfway between then and now, looking scruffy but jaunty in a boat race in 1988. There are only a few scraps of blue paint on her today, but she is red in the oldest photos.

Google offered a glimpse of her in a book called The Coast Road, a 3,000 mile journey round the edge of England, published in 2004.

Maggie points out of the window to a man in a red baseball cap walking the beach. ‘That’s Peter White. He was a fisherman. Until three months back. He was the last to give up.’

Old habits die hard. Peter White is pacing the shore, looking to sea one moment, down at his feet the next, and then across to the small beached, red fishing smack, RX 87, that he owned for most of his working life.

I probably should have read a bit more, but I didn’t. I wonder if that was his real name and if he’ll be there at the end tomorrow. There’s an 85% chance of rain but that won’t stop them.

Good weekend, all!

November 9, 2018 — 8:55 pm
Comments: 11

Don’t rub it in

Somebody sent me this. It comes from our popular classical station, Classic FM, via a Tumblr called Music Theory. I think I have all that right. I like to attribute where I can.

Those are Polands. I have whined before about how much I want one. I got some ‘fertile’ eggs that weren’t this Spring, supposedly including at least one Poland.

Note, at right, they have a knob on their skulls that those stupid feathers sprout out of. So even when they’re tiny fluffy chicks, they have ridiculous hairdos.

The roosters grow up to look like potted ferns and the hens have fluffy afros. I know owners who have to trim around their eyes or tie their headfeathers into hipster buns so the poor birds can see to walk around.

Oops! I hit premature PUBLISH. Well, that’s all there is to say about that, I guess.

November 8, 2018 — 4:53 pm
Comments: 8

Weasel TV

I hate to admit how much time I’ve spent watching this image. I mean, not this image, the live version. The surveillance cam in the chicken house.

It was originally trained on a hen sitting on fertile eggs nest box. Two months, night after night, I watched that image hoping to see a newly hatched chick poke its head out.

As it happens, the first batch of eggs were all total duds. The second batch was half duds. That’s why I spent two months watching a broody hen when the gestation period is around twenty days.

Anyway, newly hatched chicks don’t poke their heads out. They don’t come out from under mama for days and days, so I discovered any hatchlings by lifting her up and peering into the nest, long before I saw a chick on cam.

I have hours and hours and hours and hours of recorded chicken cam. I actually bought a backup hard drive to store it all. Wanna see?

November 7, 2018 — 10:14 pm
Comments: 5

How bad is this thing going to kick my ass?

I know very few of y’all are gamers, but if there are any out there…while I’m waiting for this thing to download…how bad is The Talos Principle going to kick my ass?

It’s a puzzle game, see. And I’m not very good at those, and that makes me feel stupid, and that makes me feel sad. But it’s also really pretty and got good reviews, and Steam has the whole bundle at 79% off right now.

I didn’t buy the Portal games for years because I was afraid of the ass-whoopin’. (Also the fact that both protagonists in Portal are female made me suspect some kind of social justice shoehorn, but I was way wrong. Their bitchy relationship was one of the best things). Turns out, the puzzles weren’t that hard and the whole experience was one of my favorite works of fiction ever.

Anyway. Talos Principle. If I’m sad tomorrow, you’ll know it’s because I feel stupid.

November 6, 2018 — 7:43 pm
Comments: 11

Will one of y’all vote or me, please?

Before I moved to the UK, I took a side trip home. Among other things, I switched my voter registration from Rhode Island to Tennessee. Made sense. Tennessee is my native state and I still owned property there.

But I’ve never kept up on local Tennessee politics, so I usually don’t bother getting an absentee ballot for the midterms. I probably should, but I don’t.

Under these circumstances, I’m pretty sure it’s legal for one of y’all to vote in my stead. So have at it.

Or at least vote for yourself.

November 5, 2018 — 8:01 pm
Comments: 10

This image is from one of my favorite FaceBook pages: Strange Things Found in Churches. Caption is: “Probably my favourite roof boss. Early 16th century, Tawstock, Devon.”

Sadly, this is the very last image ever posted to the group. Without warning or explanation, the owner of the page shut it down. I hate it when people nuke sites like that.

Oh, right. You need to see the whole thing to make sense of it. Scratch that — it makes even less sense when you can see the whole thing.

I know what you’re thinking, but I would just like to point out that there are four hands in the picture, and two of them can’t belong to any visible body. NOW what do you think you’re looking at?

I leave you to ponder. Good weekend!

November 2, 2018 — 6:44 pm
Comments: 15