fish tank

yesterday i got a 20gal tank and today some real live plants. it's a mess right now, but i am locked into a fishy-people website now and all will be perfect sooner or later.

when we lived in coney island (mid 1950's), the big hobby-around-the-block was raising tropical fish, and i had several tanks down in the basement. there were no plastic plants then and the tank water was like murky soup, alive with biology good and bad, but that only added to the mystique of the hobby. actually the most cool guys had the murkiest tanks and the weirdest fish ...... Johnny H had a huge oscar and he fed it table scraps!

i had little guppies who flashed endlessly back and forth in bright pretty colors, and sailfish (?) that committed suicide by jumping out onto the floor, and gouramis (who never bothered anyone) and angel fish (who everyone nipped at) and (boring black) mollies and platy's.

png one day, my brother (who shall remain un-named herein) got pissed off at me and kicked in the front of my 17 gallon tank and killed all the fish and plants...... (i have been plotting my revenge now for 53 years, and will have most of the bloody details of the plan finalized in the near future.)

.... but first, i have a new tank to attend to.

this and that

breezeway pic shedlight

at last the breezeway is done (except for the doodads debbie will hang on the walls). that's Zach doing the final inspection ( it will not look this neat again in our lifetime !)

this morning i upgraded the shed light above my work bench (a life-enhancement for sure).

crazy, and proud about it .... i told debbie that i was airing out the folding chairs after being stored away since last summer, but the truth is, i am having a party with my pretend friends, who you can see sitting there with me (that's me on the left). the center chair is empty because Edyta just went to get me a beer.


and how could i not snap one of my pond fish ....

jpgthe lawn is now mowed, and the porch carpet is drying out on the driveway after i hosed it down. and i am sucking on the open end of a beer bottle (corona ....... my second one actually) and i plan to repeat this activity until D gets home.

jpgpictures from Texas

ahhh.... shown here is my most elusive child .... the rarely photographed Catherine, and of course that's Sarah on the right, celebrating the 4th.
actually, C recently spent some weeks in idaho (iowa?) building homes for poor people.

more pictures from Loretta are here

Alternative Energy Sources ....... the numbers don't lie

over the years, a number of my students have worked on "green energy" projects ..... looking for "low carbon footprint" homes, energy producing powerplants, a pollution-free / energy consuming world.

in every case, despite the best of hopes, the real hardcore engineering numbers regarding the production and use of energy has shown that solar and wind power simply cannot produce energy at the levels the world will need it. it's a long story with lots of calculations, and i'll spare you the bloody details, but it's true as i tell it.

a few weeks back, my brother Bob(by) sent me the transcript of a speech by the CEO of some natural gas company in Utah. it is very enlightening, simple and brutal in its discussion of energy. the transcript is here in PDF format. .... when you are ready to dig deeper than those 15 second TV "news" clips , you should spend an hour and read this. until you do that, your right to claim an informed opinion on global energy is revoked.

My calculations:

refer to my javascript windturbine calculator

Question:how many wind turbines would it take to generate all the grid power currently avaliable in the USA (which is about 1,000,000,000,000 Watts)? let's say the turbine blade diameter is 10 meters (about 30 feet) and the wind velocity is perpetually steady at 6.7 meters/s (15mph).

Answer: you would need 286,000,000 windturbines (that's 286 million!). .... that's just about (3) 30foot diameter windturbines for every family in ths USA.

if you lined up 286million windturbines (30ft diameter) and made the blade tips touch they would circle the earth 68 times.

okay .... now let's talk about China's windturbine needs ..... oooo let's skip that and go right to the global population (22× the USA population) ..... we would need 6.3 BILLION windturbines .... they'd go around the entire planet 1403× ..... if we could make one windturbine every SECOND, it would take us just about 200 YEARS to produce 6.3billion windturbines..... and let's not bring up the topic of expanding world poplulation in the next 200 years. .


as an aside, regarding the atmosphere and energy production..... CO2 is really not a pollutant .... all plant life on the planet "breathes" in CO2 .... if you eliminate it from the atmosphere, all plants and trees (and then all animals) will die ..... so let's not get crazy...... in fact water vapor (clouds) are a much greater cause of "global warming" than CO2 is.

CONCLUSION = get real about "alternative energy sources"

dave's new fishtank page ..... click the fish icon on my home page

setting up a real-live fish tank with live plants (or a koi pond for that matter) is a LOT like gardening .... you need tons of slow moving, time consuming patience ..... those littles enzimes, bacterias, nutrient and waste molecules take their own sweet biological time to do whatever they do ...... but it's hard being patient.


thanks to some filework, my pocket knife now has teeth ..... works like a saw ..... why did i wait so long to make this modification ?

as soon as i mow the lawn, going to file teeth into all the kitchen knives (heh heh heh)

jpgIce cream

ice cream meant a lot to me as a kid, because my dad worked in an ice cream factory. that scoop over there goes back to the 1950's .... dad brought it home one day (we lived in coney island then) and we used it forever after to scoop ice cream.

that ice cream scoop represents (to me) a very happy childhood.

dad worked for swift&co, and i did too for one college summer (more stories to come).

one day they shut the factory down, dad was out of a job, and it became immediately and stunningly clear to me that dad was vulnerable and nothing in life is certain.

jpgVacations, Italy and the $US vs the €uro

airflights and hotels in Italy are booked. am now thinking about spending money, and the exchange rate comes to mind ....

"how (you were possibly wondering) has the $US been doing compared to the Euro." ..... actually not as bad as you might think..... the $$$ has definitely slipped in value in the last 10 years (about 17%), but that's not really a freefall......

the graph shows how many $US a €uro is worth .... right now it's about $1.39.

RC car resurrected

M has himself an exceptional new RC monster truck ... superb piece of machinery..... got me thinking RC cars again.

so i dusted mine off and made a new camera attachment frame and took some videos from the drivers seat.

but the file sizes are huge .... too big to put on a web page .... so these new still pictures will have to do for now.

jpg jpg

promise: i will post new and exciting RC car movies.
famouse quote: the road to hell is paved with broken promises.

where do we spend our money?

jpgthe US bureau of something just published this chart of where the typical American family spends it's money. being a data junkie (and budget fiend) all my life, this is a fine piece of information. (click the icon to see it full size).

i am about to take out my colored pencils and see what our budget looks like compared to this ...... (i can feel my blood pressure increasing already...)

png i love being married to D .... it's so great finding that special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.


our own windturbine


i ran the numbers we average 1.32Kw continuous (24hour) electical power consumption plus 5kW continuous equivalent power in the winter for oil heat ..... if we cut back on our energy usage about 25%, this is pretty much what our windturbine would look like (to scale).

(i'll have to move a few of the bird feeders)

jpgdiggin' up bones....

a lot of people didn't know that deb and i were a hot ticket back in high school, until this week's People Magazine came out with the expose' (cover photo at right).

good lord .... were we really that young at one time ?

below is a picture of us today ..... (no wonder the chicks are still hot for me)....



Amazon forcibly "recalls" (that is, "erases") purchased books

here is a choice piece of controversy in the news today .... Amazon (the online seller and the maker of the kindle e-book reader) has quietly erased several books from their customers' kindle devices. these are book that people already purchased and downloaded from Amazon ! ...... the reason is that the book publisher changed it's mind about selling their books through Amazon..... not only are they stopping new sales, they actually confiscated books already purchased (by erasing them when the customer connected to Amazon).

png think about that for a minute .... you purchase a book (maybe a dozen books), and (after some time) Barnes and Noble sends the police to your house to confiscate the books because their contract with the publisher ended.

or..... you download music for your i-pod and later on the songwriter tells Apple to erase all the purchased copies of that song or CD ..... or maybe they say "we want another 50¢ from you or we have to erase the copy you bought" .....

png this goes back the "digital rights management" (DRM) bullshytt .... you don't actually own that copy of the song (or book) that you bought ..... you simply leased it to use for some period of time." ..... and now the people who sold it to you can take it back whenever they want to.

update (july.24)....a letter from Amazon....

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our "solution" to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

With deep apology to our customers,
Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO

my comment: fair enough .... let's put this down now and move on.

washed and waxed

Deb washed and waxed 2 cars inside and out today, and they look better than when we bought them ..... she could never have accomplished this if i hadn't pointed out the various spots she was missing here and there.

however..... if i may speak candidly ..... i was the one who bought the power buffer so she wouldn't have to rub so hard with those old towels. ....... it's a weakness i have ..... i spoil all my women.


up to today, i have had 7 headaches in my entire life ..... today i had #8, and i understand why people who have these regularly get downright nasty about it.

i looked up (on the internet) all the possible diseases that can cause headaches, and i have 11 of them.


after 4 years of growing roses, i got it figured out ..... roses throw 99.999% of their life's energy into producing the flower, and virtually zero into sustaining the leaves. i have several out there that have NO LEAVES left, but glorious flowers (that will die in 2 weeks)..... they look like dead people with beautiful faces..... when the flowers die, all i have left are sticks...... then they slowly grow new leaves ..... then they slowly grow new flowers...... but 90% of the time they look like dog shytt.

amadeus (the movie)

i expected a stuffy costume drama (can't believe i waited 20 years to watch it!)..... i was so wrong ..... this is a very gutsy and dynamic movie and not the slightest bit "stuffy", and the acting of F. Murray Abraham is well worth all the awards he got (he is also the nasty professor in "finding forrester").

fishtank people

forums on the internet (on any given topic) attract the most maniacal enthusiasts in whatever little niche topic that the forum targets. i am currently setting up a fish tank, and here is my simulation of a typical forum discussion with fish "experts":

newperson: hi there. how many guppies can i have in a 20 gallon tank?
expert 1: if you have plastic plants you can have 12 guppies. if you have live plants, you can have 36 guppies.
expert 2: well ..... actually...... plant health (and how much oxygen they generate) depends on the lights you use. .... i use 6500K lights and i have 23 healthy guppies, but my buddy has 4500k lights and all his guppies died.
expert 3: hello .... my guppies died because the cat pissed in the tank, not because i had 4500k lights.
expert 4: if you monitor the CO2 levels you can have 100 guppies but you have to take CO2 measurements every half hour, day and night.....that's not as hard as it sounds if you and you wife work it in shifts.
newperson: wife ? .... i'm 10 years old and i'm a girl !
expert 5: hi there .... my 123 guppies died because my wife overslept and missed a CO2 reading.
expert 6: if you regulate the potasium level in the water you can compensate for lower CO2 levels .... i have a graph i can e-mail you if you want it.
newperson: okay .... here's what i'm gonna do ..... i am gonna put 500 guppies in my %$@#$#@ tank and 6 weeks from now i will tell you how many guppies can live in a 20 gallon tank.

Leica people

similar to the above, here is my version of a simple topic on a Leica forum (yes, i am a leica-weenie who drops way way too much money for cameras with "the red dot", and arguably ??? better images.)

newperson: hi everybody, i just ordered a new leica ##### and i was wondering what kind of shoulder strap i should get for it.
expert 1: "SHOULDER STRAP ! !" ... we do not carry Leicas on shoulder straps .... only the Billingham Leather Bag #17628 is properly designed for your particular Leica.
expert 2: if you use a shoulder strap (my cousin Vinny has used one for years), sling the camera only over your left shoulder with the lens facing behind you .... this will reduce the possible mis-alignments of the lens groups due to gravitational forces that happen when the camera is over the right shoulder.
Vinny: yes. i have used a shoulder strap for many years, but i never had enough money to buy a Leica.... i use a small kodak camera, and it works really good.
expert 3: Leica has an approved shoulder strap in soft leather made of baby seal skin (it takes 6 endangered-species baby seals to make one camera strap) that they sell for $5000 .... if you want one that is PETA approved (the baby seals are humanely gassed, not clubbed to death), it's $10,000 ..... i love mine, and the PETA logo gets lots of attention at parties and such.
newperson: maybe i'll just cancel my order and get a panasonic point&shoot.
expert 4: smart move kid.

Linux people

here's a typical discussion on a Linux forum....

newperson: hi everybody, i just bought a laptop with linux on it and my printer doesn't work. any ideas?
expert 1: what version of linux do you have?
newperson:i have ubuntu 9.0.1 sub-kernel 6.b with the extended modulators overlaid on the ventilators.
expert 2: did you shunt the grommets to the casing ground line and delete the orbits in your XORG.conf files, using your root identity?
expert 3: NO! NO! .... do not shunt the grommets to the casing .... that is old technology and no longer works with the new kernel updates.... my cousin Vinny did that and his dog died.
expert 4: you can bypass the circuitry over the X-files if you simply recompile the linux kernel, skipping the 2nd and 4th modulator installs and doing the reboot sequence twice, holding down the F12 keyboard button with your left hand.
newperson (hours and hours later): i did all of that stuff and my printer still does not work.
Vinny: my dog didn't die ..... he just got sick.
expert 5: hey folks did you hear that Linus Torvalds is the new Microsoft chief of software development ....?

.... experts chat and chatter on and on ....

newperson (more hours and hours later): .... hey guys.... my printer still doesn't work....
experts (all together): ...... are you still here?

jpg jpg

i tried (with only moderate success) not to be the "old sage" bestowing his precious wisdom upon the young Mr. Benson..... happily, Pete has known me for years and limited the rolling of his eyes and stifled snickers to a mininum (while i pretended not to notice these things).

the great thing about a lunch like this, and Sunday breakfasts with Mike, is that they keep me thinking young and seeing how the life of technology relentlessly changes, often goes 'round in the same old circles, but sometimes it goes straight to better things.

but .... the portugese sweet bread is done (buzzer went off) .... i'm gone.

is it ever good to kill someone?

i just watched a scene where a very passive clergyman was pushed to the edge, and exhausted every possibility of a non-violent solution, and killed an incredibly bad person by opening his skull with an axe.

given the whole story, and despite that i believe violence must be the very last desperate defense reaction, i think this guy did the right thing.

The Gang of Four at the Opera

this is a true story that regards my high school saturday nights.

Roger F., John P., Jan O. and myself made up the gang of four..... we were geeky guys who only attracted geeky girls that we weren't attracted to, so we went out together on saturday nights and took the train into to NYC's Times Square and did shytt that would cause mom and dad to spit venom if they knew.


Roger's parents were ultra-conservative and tried relentlessly to steer Rog in that direction, so one day Mrs. F got us 4 tickets to a live radio broadcast over her favorite classical music channel and insisted that we go to the broadcast.

Mr. F was a take-no-prisoners conservative who once told me never to come into his house because i expressed some views he considered "leftist" (which i have since forgotten about and we ignored what he said anyway), but Mrs. F was the nicest person you ever knew, so we promised we would get dressed up nice and go, and so we did.

We wore suits and ties and took the train into the studio and passed the guard who checked our tickets several times. we went in and sat down and waited .... waited .... waited .....

In the intervening years i have learned that bored teenage guys out on a saturday night without girls generally get restless and giddy and stupid .... yes .... they do ..... so we started nudging each other and pointing at people and laughing our guts up for no reason whatever.

Now .... John. P had a laugh that was silent on the exhale and sounded like a donkey wheeze on the inhale, and we had all pretty much got used to it in school, but here we were in classical music radio land, and here was John inhaling gulps of air like a wheezing donkey..... but happily we were still in the waiting-for-the-show-to-start mode.

Then .... the show started ..... a guy comes out on stage and, much to history's lament, he looked like Clark Kent..... and that pretty much doomed the event for that night..... John was uncontrollable, and we all moved to other seats to get away from him, because we knew Mrs. F would be listening on her radio, and we really did not want to hurt her.... so we separated and left John and he calmed down and the announcer brought the string quartet onstage and they started the broadcast.

unfortunately, being separated didn't work for long .... we could hear John doing his donkey wheeze laugh and we were all choking with laughter under our separate seats (attracting more audience attention than the quartet), when Roger bolted to the exit and Jan and i followed and we made it out to the lobby where the guard was listening to the broadcast..... and we settled down and listened also, until .....

John's donkey wheeze came screeming over the radio at intervals and we could tell from the cycles that he was desparately choking his breath to hold it in but it was futile .... the donkey wheeze went on for at least 15 minutes until John could drag himself off the floor and bolt out into the lobby..... the guard's brain was oscillating at high frequency between amusement and rage ..... so we grabbed John and ran out the door.

i could never bring myself again to enter Roger's house because i knew his mother was going to be very hurt by this.

at the time, and for years after, this was a hilarious story for me to recall, but now the ending makes me sad.

jpg i give "Papa" another good grade for writing a good book, which was not much like i expected (which is good).

am going to get the 1932 movie (Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolf Menjou) and see what that's like. i saw 2 minutes of the 1957 version, but couldn't stand to watch Rock Hudson any longer than that.

Hemingway does not translate well into movies ... i tried to watch Errroll Flynn and Tyrone Power in "The Sun Also Rises" and that wasted another 2 minutes of my life.

jpg jpg jpg

the SNAILS-AWAY !snail scraper


there are rumors that this is just a bent piece of aluminum raingutter flashing ....

jpgthis is a quick, casual read and enjoyable ramble.... Larry M (who wrote Lonesome Dove and other things) drives around the USA on the major highways (almost without stopping) and rambles on about things he knows about the area..... not great literature (more like a very well-written weblog), but it kept rolling along, and i finished it in just 2 days !

Pizza in Brooklyn Reaches $5 Per Slice

jpgover there on the right is the line at DiFara's pizza place in Brooklyn.... people stand in line for an hour and pay $5.00 for one slice of pizza (that's not lire, that's not yen, that's not pesos ..... that's $5US and that is for one slice). ..... a whole pie will cost you $30.

Why? you ask? ..... because "Mr. DeMarco (the owner / cook) uses imported ingredients. The flour, extra-virgin olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are all brought from Italy, and the basil is from Israel."

well .... upstairs in my kitchen, i have olive oil and cheese from italy, tomatoes from mexico, basil from spain and olives from greece, and i can (and will) make a slice of pizza for about 50¢ and have a glass of wine from argentina to wash it down and not come anywhere near $5 ..... and i just realized that i am starving !!!

Lastly, from the New Yorker ....


Thus Endeth July 2009


jpg i am finally crazy ..... and proud of it.

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