on a slow day a while back, i signed up for google analytics to log the page hits for tikmark.com and sub-pages.... and i just figured out how to check that....

  • Linux = 58%
  • MS windows = 40%
  • Mac OS = 5%
  • Sun OS = 2%

all visits were to the journal pages, virtually no hits on AWK / Tcl pages..... this is sad and i will have to fix that .... it's my retirement's true crusade !

i can see how a commercial site would want to know such data, and i am amazed at google's capacity to store it all for all the pages they track.


however.... if you google a search using the keyword "awkscripts".... the very first page on the results list is TCLforawk !!!


had lunch at moose creek cafe with mike, then over to the RC shop.... somehow mike broke the axle front frame on his car doing jumps.... this is tough composite material and does not break easily.

then wasted the afternoon screwing up a small box.... never worked with 1/4" material before and hope i never will again.... leave that thin stuff for the pro's.... my min thickness has to be 3/8 at best, 1/2 most likely.


note note note note

my favorite pen shop.




am sick yesterday and today .... got debbies cold. drinking coffee, and chicken soup with black pepper and tabasco sauce.

happily it gives me time to re-hack the Mohave x-mahjongg GUI, which i finished and published today. am very happy now... Mohave window is much smaller (for small mobile devices) and improved the backgrounds (an invisible fix) and created one background with Tux the linux penguin subtely lurking behind the tilesets.

the Mohave web page has been linked to by some x-mahjongg cultists and wiki geeks, so i have inspiration now to keep it up.



yesterday, as soon as i ftp'd the new Mohave up to its website, i attacked the 57 (stolen) tileset files i was sitting on.... imagemagick resized and renamed them all perfectly for Mohave/x-mahjongg.... which now was a big problem because the button scheme in Mohave was not designed to handle so many tilesets !!!

so.... i launched a major re-write of the Mohave code to switch it to pull-down menus to include many tilesets, background, layouts.....

after a lot of hours, it looks like it works well.... will use it for a few days before posting the code itself.

note note


booted up unix ..... see what damage i can do. the HP machine earned its keep 1000X over, and i am much attached to it. i even like the HP-UX-11 OS and the CDE (people generally hate the CDE, but i like it's simplicity). have no good reason to do this except to breathe new life into an old friend..... that's reason enough i suppose.



had to use up the last of the 1/4" stuff..... box #2 is a big cheat (nail gun joints, no dowels, no glue, no rabbets).... what the heck....


from rebekah, who is a mixture of uma thurman, winona ryder and debbie .... Rachel is in the picture on the left, but i can never tell who is Debbie and who is Rebekah....

reb jpg

L sent an e-mail as follows:

.... yesterday rebekah was explaining to rachel how sound waves travel when you talk, how the other person hears the sound waves, translates in your brain into words, etc etc. it was a very good explaination I don't know where she learned that. Anyway, after I was impressed with how smart rebekah is, rachel thought about it and asked, "but if we are both talking to each other at the same time do the sound waves crash into each other or do they go around each other?"

after much pondering, i figured out a semi-credible answer.... but the main point is that a curious mind can ask a hell of a tough question.


getting snowed on today....


but the good news is that we are ahead on 2007 taxes and i dont have to pay the IRS anything tomorrow, which is good.

spent much of today (in my pyjamas) working my thermo course syllabus and web page to go to more of an on-line format ..... we will only meet 3-6 times this semester and 3 of them are for tests, so the whole course has to be done over the internet... i think thats cool and im looking forward to it.

but i am not looking forward to tomorrows JA class at the middle school.... all new students for me to get used to.

the fireplace is at 120% of rated power, debbie is ironing and i am heating up whats left of a chicken burrito i started eating 2 days ago and im watching a PBS thing on brazilian jazz..... dad just looked at me and asked his famous "i wonder what the poor people are doing today?".... and i laughed my ass off.


yesterday was my first JA class of the semester, 9 kids about 10 years old. they are the nicest kids you can imagine, and it helps restore my hope for the future.

we did the "let's buy a house and car" game by looking thru this week's home and auto sales pamplets from the supermarket ( a $750,000 house with 3 swimming pools !!! AND a mercedes 2-door coupe ). and then i dumped reality on them and we talked about what these things cost and how exactly does a person pay for these and how much income a person needs to pay for these?

they quickly asked me if they could revise their spending plans..... i knew they would.

the garbage man story ....

D is working today. i drove her in to work and she recruited me to change lightbulbs in the ladies dress shop, which i did. then to take the carts of cardboard out to the mall dumpster, which i did.... and i was secretly hoping that one of my old office buddies would see me wheeling the garbage out to the compactor and ask..." hey... how're you doing' ? " .... and i was ready shock him and say i was recovering from substance abuse and had to take this job as the mall garbage man to cover the expense of the rehab ..... but unfortunately the only people who saw me did not know me and they just assumed i was the mall garbage man..... i desperately wanted to stop each person and explain that i was a licensed professional engineer and an adjunct professor who was doing his wife a favor at the moment .... but the people who actually saw me didn't ask or really care and they just assumed that i was just the mall garbage man who probably was recovering from substance abuse and had to take the job to pay for rehab ..... and i wished i was back with my JA students who think i'm cool for an old guy.

and....last night, i had my first thermodynamics class of the semester, which has only 3 students and the school opted to do the course on-line. one of the students was very upset that he did not have to drive in to school 2 nights a week after work.... he wrote a letter to the division head and complained .... people confuse me eternally..... which explains why i am so reclusive.



this is one of the finest american films ever made, and i have long ago stopped trying to explain it to people who can't see past the cowboy motif, or the fact that alan ladd was 5' 1" tall.

the plan for tonight is that i will watch this movie for the 134th time and it will help me once again to re-affirm the things that are important in this life...... and the fact that somebody needs to stand on the wall and protect the civilization the rest of us enjoy.

the gunfight scene with jack palance has never been bested (watch palance's move with the coffee pot, and the dog that walks the hell out of the saloon):

Shane: " So you're Jack Wilson.... I heard about you."
Wilson: "What did you hear, Shane?"
[they both shuffle and set for the fast draw ....]
Shane: "I heard you were a low down yankee liar...."
[guns blaze..... Wilson crashes dead across the tables.... Shane double swirls his gun to its holster .... evil is dead for while, and the people of the village are safe for a while ..... and with no thanks from anyone he simply rides into the night.....]

talk all you want .... they don't make 'em that good any more.


i try hard to get global recognition for my many achievements (some of which admittedly i haven't achieved yet) but an important stumbling block is the time i need to spend on debbie-do's..... these are the assignments i get from....well, as you might imagine.... debbie.

today my debbie-do was i had to go to the vet's and get the cats medicine.

well i did that, and then i got the groceries and then i started cooking some stuff for dinner while scanning notes for my thermo web page.

so ... the global recognition i deserve for what i could have accomplished today if i didn't have to get the cats medicine and then get the groceries eludes me for yet another day.

well ..... there is always tomorrow.


the passing shoppers in the supermarket today simply saw the store clerk hand me the box of cat litter and nod and smile. i smiled back of course and noted the same tattoo on his wrist as on mine.

and the folks in the parking lot simply saw me carrying a box of cat litter out to the car, check my rear view mirror (perhaps too cautiously ?) and drive off slowly, not to attract attention. as i drove off, i could see the black mercedes swing by and pick up the "clerk" as planned.

when i got home, it took much time to steam off the bar code carefully and decipher the cryptic symbols it had covered (the special eyeglasses transformed the cryptographs perfectly).

then ..... a few coded taps at my keyboard, a few secret clicks of my mouse ..... and civilization is safe again ..... at least for tonight ..... and only the three of us know what could have happened tomorrow if we hadn't done what we had to do.

but, enough chit chat for now ..... i have to clean the litter box.


i do my lectures is small bites .... like 15 minute increments of me introducing a new thought on the board, then a class exercise to capture the thought on paper.

over the years, this has proven to be a very good mode of teaching, but sometimes it bombs. and the irony is that it bombs most often on subjects that really drive me wild.


well .... it bombed today..... i turned around and saw glazed eyes and awkward glances and heads staring straight down into their papers and no pencils moving..... and i knew.

i said .... "i can tell i didn't make it.... those glassy eyes gave you away" .... and they laughed.

experience has taught me not to hack my way through the forest alone once i loose sight of the team..... and i said "i'll do this again next week using a different approach .... but you need to understand this topic." ..... they took a breath and we moved on, but that's not my point.

i get excited about technical solutions to problems and often a wicked cool solution is perfectly clear to me but the emotion of it overloads my capacity to explain it.

so ..... the irony is that i have a very hard time explaining the things i get most excited about ..... certainly this is a cruel fate for a teacher.

jpg jpg


today is MLK day, most people don't work today.... D has off and i am hoping to have lunch somewhere nice.

i still cannot shake this cold.... yesterday it was in my throat (again) and today it's heading back into my eyes (again).

am reading "tuesdays with morrie" which is a pretty emotional and soulfull reading.

but abbynormal has her mind on eating...

poor soul

i went to a catholic elementary school and (among lots of other religious stuff) we kids were taught that our soul was like a report card that God is going to read when we die. we were taught that each thing we do in life is a mark on our soul, a good mark or a bad mark.... like a report card.

at the time, i never thought much about the implications there, i was a hectic kid trying to absorb whatever stuff they were spewing at me for the next quiz..... but it did set in my little mind that my soul is my report card to God .... and (for years after that) i resented having a soul around me with a record of every act of my life so God could decide if i go to heaven or to hell when the time came.

of course, i eventually abandoned the stuff the religious folks had to say, and i detached from my "soul" ..... but, truth be known, i carried that definition of your "soul" with me for many many years .... i simply said "the hell with the thing, let it record whatever happens in my life, if i end up in hell, so be it.".... and i moved on.

along a separate track in my life, i have always loved jazz, and we always said "it has soul", and i never thought about the connection except in the jazz context "soul" was the elusive and undefinable sister of reason, it was your self rising to a higher place, it was the emotion that you can't put a word or a thought to when you listen to jazz that has soul, and if you could feel it then you had soul.

and, having all of that cook inside me for way too many years, i decided that me and my soul and God would have been much closer in this life if we kids had listened to more jazz when we were in elementary school.

the world, too, would have turned out better than it did.


rebuilt the bathroom cabinet above the sink....built into the wall, and i had the chance to make it much deeper, and i did. it aint fine furniture but it looks good and is probably 3X the size of the old one.

moving over to the subject of magnetos:

From Wikipedia: The idea behind a magneto is simple. It is basically an electrical generator that has been tuned to create a periodic high-voltage pulse rather than continuous current. An electrical generator (or a magneto) is the reverse of an electromagnet (see How Electromagnets Work for details). In an electromagnet there is a coil of wire around an iron bar (the armature). When you apply current to the electromagnet's coil (e.g. with a battery), the coil creates a magnetic field in the armature. In a generator, you reverse the process. You move a magnet past the armature to create electric current in the coil.

the short version of that explanation is that a magneto generates a hell of a voltage when you crank it over (that is, when you make it spin).

jpg i bring up magnetos because a former WIT student of mine (who has become a good correspondence buddy and coincidentally looks exactly like my ugly brother in Alabama), sent me a link to a historical airplane engine museum. and i spent some enjoyable time there, and got nostalgic .... a few of the engines were piston-type radial engines..... the pistons are aligned radially around the propellor shaft..... in fact, one such engine, the Gnome rotary, had the cylinders rotate with the propellor ! ! !

in high school, we dis-assemled and re-assembled a Lycoming rotary engine, and Mr. Krause was sure we did it by the book....literally, the engine manual.... (he was an old airplane mechanic, as were most of our teachers).... and i recall that engine very well and making a tag for every stinking microscopic part that we took off it so we could put it back again with no "extra" parts.

this was good practice for me, as i helped a friend of a friend of a friend once to tear down his chevy engine (in a dark, freezing garage .... but, i digress).

the Lycoming rotary engine had a magneto, and, one day, Mr. Grimm (another teacher) taught us future engineers about magnetos, as follows....

Mr. Grimm made us all gather around and hold hands.... this was an all-boys technical high school and we did this only because we liked Mr. Grimm, not each other.

he then asked the last boy in the chain to hold onto the steam radiator (it was not hot at the moment) and the first boy in the chain to hold onto the wire coming out of the magneto.

some of the smarter students knew what was coming, but us dummies just held hands and did what the teacher said to do.

then Mr. Grimm cranked over the magneto ..... and then Mr. Grimm proceded to laugh his ass off.

modulating the pitch of turbine blades

today an engineer i worked with for many years called me to test my memory..... to discourage him, i said i've been diagnosed with CRS and Can't Remember Shit , plus i sold my MSwindows computer for a kilo of illegal substances, but he asked his question anyway.... it goes back to a study i did (and haven't thought about since) 15 years ago.

it regards noise due to turbine blades screaming past other parts, and how to reduce that noise for certain turbine installations that need to be quiet.....(hmmmm what could those be, i wonder).

the peculiar thing is that once i got rolling on it, i could recall quite a lot of detail on how to modulate turbine blade pitch to control specific noise harmonics.

i could recall all of that, but for the life of me, i can't remember what i had for breakfast today.... too weird.


primed and installed the cabinet (not the door yet), but the real excitement today was i bottled my first ever batch of root beer .... now, only time will tell....

and then i played with laying images on top of images via the GIMP.



am working with emma L on her project for the "invention convention", which is a neat gizmo to rub suntan lotion on your back at the beach. E is designing it and i am making it, and her mother, K is managing the schedule and the hardware acquisition tasks.

today was day #1, and we scoped out a concept, as shown.

ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends of all ages, i give you .... l-ocean ....



today was well on its way to being yet another un-memorable winter day, when mike asked me a question .... who, he wants to know, are his great grandparents..... hmmmm... i wish i knew more about them myself, i said.

in fact, i wish i knew as much as mike did, who already had their entrance papers from ellis island .... so ....i spent much time this afternoon trying to catch up to him (thanks to the internet).

i already have more stuff on my to-do list than i need, but i can see how this geneology ( there may be a spelling issue there, but spelling generally gets lost in the inaccuracy of my typing anyway so i dont pay much attention to it) stuff keeps retired folks enthralled.

well .... being retired, i was enthralled with geneology today .... and i spent hours seeking the dates when my grandparents got off the boat.

i was secretly hoping that they entered the US illegally and had to cut wire fencing or dodge ATF bullets or sell a few kids into bondage or stow away in the gas tank of an 18-wheeler to get in, but they very unimaginatively just walked off the boats at ellis island, got inoculated, signed in, walked across the bridge and settled in the italian section of brooklyn.


i have many great memories of what i just called the italian section of brooklyn (circa 1945 - 1955 anyway) , which in my case refers to the henry street, union street, degraw street, carroll street area..... but most specifically to Strong Place.....

i recall a guy name jakomino who pushed a cart of flavored ice that he scooped into cones, digging lead (the metal) out of the bottom on iron fence posts and selling it to the junk man, picking out a live chicken at a union street peddler and having him slice its neck and turn it upside down in a bucket to catch the blood then carrying it back to my grandmothers house and watching my mom pluck the feathers off it and drop it in a pot, street cleaners who literally cleaned the streets with push brooms and garbage pails, the ice truck, the milk truck, the pie truck, the bread truck, playing stick ball and hitting it "3 sewers", some kid blowing the doors off a church with a shoebox filled with firecrackers, dropping a firecracker into a pipe followed by a marble and shooting it at someone !!! .....

so .... what started out as a very forgetable day turned, thanks to mikes question, into a day full of memories and family history.

hell of a question, there, good buddy......

oh .... i found my first ancestors (shown here) .... dont know what you think, but i say he looks just like me and she's a babe ....


jpg jpg
Panasonic anounced my next camera today (shown on the left) ... much like the FX-30 that i own and love except this one has a 25mm lens !!! .... be still my racing heart. unfortunately, the timing conflicts with a cash flow issue coming up.... the EEE-PC that i had planned for my birthday (shown on the right) .... but since the camera wont be available until March, i think the February decision is self-evident... they are both about the same price !.

the image to the right shows the relative size of the camera and the EEE-PC ... unfortunately the big things that catch your eye and draw your attention away from the camera are the ocean waves in the background.... most distracting indeed.

The Geese, the Window and Rituals Lost In Antiquity

this story has stuck with me for forty years, it was told by konrad lorenz in his "studies on animal and human behavior" that had a big impact on me ages ago.

gif dr. lorenz was an animal behaviorist who lived with and studied geese, and used their behavior to explain why people and cultures do what they do.... he tells this story.....

each day, the geese (that slept in his bedroom) would get up with him and head downstairs with him. he would look out the window at the bottom of the stairs, then go into the kitchen and get his coffee..... and the geese (each one of them) would do the same.... jump up on the window, look out, jump down and go into the kitchen.

well, as time went by, he "remodeled" his cabin and closed up the window with boards.

but he noticed that every morning the geese still jumped up on the window sill and struggle to look out the boarded up window, then jump down and go into the kitchen.

well .... more time went buy and he tore out the whole window and put a plane wall there (no remnant of a window).

the geese, now got to the bottom of the stairs each morning, shuffled around facing the wall looking for a window that was not there, and then went into the kitchen.

then, the most peculiar thing happened..... the old geese died (the ones who were there when the window was there) and after a time then the next generation died.... so that at this point not one of the living geeses had ever seen the original glass window or the boarded up window.

yet .... every morning, every goose would come down, face the wall, shuffle and wiggle their necks looking up, and then procede into the kitchen.

dr lorenz called this a ritual lost in antiquity ... a cultural ritual that continues but whose true meaning is lost forever.

the irony of the story ...... every morning i walk downstairs, look out the window above the front door to check the weather and i think of dr lorenz's geese, then i go into the kitchen and make my coffee..... and i am certain to do this every day for the rest of my life..... even if someday someone closes up that window..... i will look at the door and think of the geese before i get my coffee. so every morning i share a ritual with dr lorenz's geese that have all been dead at least 50 years now.

that's a ritual whose meaning is lost in antiquity .... a guy in leominster does the same thing that geese (he never saw ! )did in austria fifty years ago and he has no reasonable explanation for it except that it's a daily ritual before he gets his coffee.

... maybe a pet goose would help me kick the habit....

What started me rambling last night on the ritual of the geese....

jpg was zak and abby.... as shown here in their nightly ritual, originally started by abby.

some months ago, she started sitting alone by the heater under the sink (i think to be warm) at about 9:00 at night .... zak's favorite spot at that hour was upstairs. and because abby is skittish, if i went near the kitchen, she would bolt out of there. (zak on the other hand won't move even for an oncoming train).

after a while (months?) though, zak started sitting with her when she went over their at night. at first i thought there was a mouse afoot, but have since ruled that out after watching them sit together.

their behaviour is not necessarily unusual, except that if i walk toward the kitchen, now both of them bolt out of there together .... zak !!! who is my buddy and won't leave my side all day, shoots away from me alongside abby. that is the ritual every night, and there is no good reason for it...... that i am aware of.

the irony here is that zak has learned the ritual of sitting there with abby and running away when his best buddy (me !) comes near ..... AND..... i have learned to engage the ritual every night by walking toward them to see if the ritual is still in place...... and wondering why.

and i just realized that i have a morning ritual with no meaning (thinking of geese as i walk by the front door to get my coffee) and a nightly ritual (testing abby and zaks ritual).

i am sure dr. lorenz deserved his nobel prize, but i wish i never read the geese story..... this lost ritual concept is driving me nuts.

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