The Watering Hole: December 24 – Bah Humbug

I am about done wrapping the gifts and gift cards for my spouse. Four and two respectively. Since the kids are no longer around, we just toss the stocking presents into the stocking. unwrapped. When the kids were home, we wrapped each stocking gift (Including individual battery cells) in its own package. Without witnesses, the task has eased up a bit. How are each of you heading into the final day before Christmas (Or happy holidays?)? While shopping here in Florida, today, I got 5 ‘Merry Christmas’ wishes and zero ‘Happy Holidays”. That was in northeast Florida. I wonder about the statistics in Miami.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: December 23 – Slide Rules

Back in the days before electronic slide rules did not exist, engineers and physical scientist relied on a primative device called the slide rule. . This device did not have any buttons and no batteries to run down.

A good slide rule could replace many mechanical devices including the adding machine and the Spirule for root locus diagramming.

Slide rule accuracy was an issue during WW II where artillery forces and navigation were crucial. The Norton bomb-sight was actually a combination of three slide rules with two directional velocity sensors and a gradient calculator. I am aware of slide rules lengths of 72 inches used for airfoil design.

The slide rule is based on Euler’s work with logarithms.

Today, the common slide rule is but a fading memory, but it was used by people vibrantly alive today in their daily work.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: December 18 – Language

The Tower of Babel

When I was about three months past three, my Mom gave birth to triplets. I took the event as best I could from being an only child to an also-ran. Three months after they were born, I ran away from home with the intention of going to Grandmother’s house. I stuffed a box of raisins and one day’s worth of undies into my knapsack. The police nailed me about a mile from home (I was actually on the right route for the venture), but that is not the subject of this post.

At about 8 or 9 months the triplets started babbling amongst themselves (They shared the same room). What was unusual was that I understood what they were saying. They spoke their own language on a steady basis until they were about two when they started to pick up English. My Father called their language “Triplet”. I acted as a translator. They actually kept using the “Triplet” language along with English until they were about 5. After that, I can only wonder.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: December 16 – United States Bill of Rights


The Mad Hatter and the March Hare try to put the Dormouse in a teapot.

In case you did not notice, yesterday marks the 219th anniversary day of the ratification of Bill of Rights. Today (and yesterday, and the day before ad infinitum) marks the time when this set of amendments are on the pick and choose list of Republicans and the Tea Party. Much of the rest of the Constitution and the balance of the Amendments are being reconstituted.

The Second Amendment is sanctified and has been modified to include assault rifles have been added to the flintlock muskets envisioned by the founding fathers. Could missiles and nuclear weapons be next? After all they are tantamount to the concept of a “well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State”.

The third is almost valid as one would not like to have that pesky militia running about ones fortified house. It is a bit short of perfection as it fails to address the Second Amendment solution.

The First and Four through Nine are poorly written as they do not address the Arab Problem.

Number 10′s main shortcoming is that the central government is allowed to forbid actions deemed “necessary” by some states.

Any Amendment after 10 should not be considered valid as the founding fathers did not consider any of them when the Constitution was first adopted.

This sort of logic extends to the Constitution itself. If the founding fathers had to modify it, they certainly believed that they did not get it right the first time.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: December 11 – M. C. Escher

During an exchange with 2ebbandflow (or ebb) on Dec. 9th, the subject of Maurits Cornelis Escher came up. Escher drew 2 dimensional scenes that depicted 3 dimensional scenes that were or are impossible in the real world. Waterfalls that seemed to flow uphill or stairs that provided ceaseless upward movement.

As almost all of Escher’s art is copyrighted, I hesitate to put an image up at the Zoo. Many examples do occur here.

An example of this kind of perspective art is depicted in a Penrose Triangle:

When we were on assignment in Germany, my middle son, who had been fascinated with Escher from an early age, took every opportunity to see Escher exhibits at The Hague. He went there about three times in the two years that we were there. He was 13 and 14 at the time. I might note that youngsters could travel in Europe without fear of being murdered, kidnapped or assaulted at that time in the mid 1980′s. He would hand draw copies of Escher’s art from the originals. He brought back quite a few copies that adorn his house today.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: December 9 – Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Picture by WaltTheMan at 7:15 AM on 12/08/2010.

The above pair of egrets are looking at the water in a drainage ditch and apparently debating the wisdom of entering the water. At the time the picture was taken, the temperature was 34°F and the wind was blowing at about 15 mph. In any case, the frogs and land crabs are probably in their snug little homes, cuddling up together against the frigid weather. Geckos, their summer prey, are off selling insurance.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.