Announcing the "Alfred"

"The Alfred" will be awarded here from time to time for a
Notable Achievement in Stupidity.




This comes up every grading period (it is final grade week.... actually at this point it is final grade moment)..... which is good because it gives me new stories to tell.

I posted a take-home exam 2 weeks ago on the course web page (it's over there on the right), plus I posted a bunch of solved problems for the students to study from. The solved problems had some whited-out numbers so they could practice looking up data and calculating stuff which would help them for the take-home test.

Last night they turned their solutions in and I am grading them at the moment. Two students (out of 3) did the wrong problems.... they did not do the actual take-home problems, they simply filled in the few blank numbers in the solved problems and turned those in. I just e-mailed them asking what is going on and they both said that they have been too busy to check the web page for the actual exam questions, so they just filled in the blanks and turned that in.

"Too busy to find out what the exam questions are?"

This is a blessing for me as now I have nothing to grade and they will be happy with any grade above an F.

So..... I am going upstairs now to cook some vegie-chicken stew-soup in a crock pot, and read the New Yorker...... beats the hell out of grading tests I think.

Exam Instructions....

  • Do these at home (use a calculator, not a computer) to prep for the May 1 test.
  • Show your handwritten calculations.
  • On May 1, turn in your solutions to these problems.
  • I will grade these as part of the test.
  • Do not show these questions to anyone and do not discuss these topics with anyone before you turn it in.
  • Put your name at the top of every page, put the problem solutions in correct order and staple the pages.

  • Text Problem 4-25
  • Text Problem 5-34
  • Text Problem 6-58
  • Text Problem 6-86
  • Text Problem 6-97
  • Text Problem 6-106
  • Text Problem 6-107

a geek view of the wedding ceremony....


Annie Leibowitz and her Konica Hexar !!

i feel soooooo upscale at the moment..... i have often sworn that the Hexar is my favorite camera of all time ever .... AND .... now we know who bought the other one !!


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Dean Lenahan was a heat transfer guru at GE aircraft Engines in Ohio.
He helped me quite a bit with heat transfer work;
he retired 3 years ago and died yesterday.


UPDATE: the reports of Dean's death were greatly exagerated !!
The message that got to me passed through a GE guy
I know in Poland and it was stated to him in Polish
which he misunderstood and e-mailed a bunch of people with the announcement.

Not that the news is good.... someone at GE did pass away,
but it wasn't Dean, who is enjoying his retirement, thank you.

Following up with our buddy in Poland (he is the GE
guy I worked for for the last few years.... over there
setting up an engineering shop to do the work I used to do !!
.... such is life).... here are some snapshots he posted from a trip to Holland:

This is an office parking lot is Amsterdam
those are bicycles...not a BMW or SUV in sight.


The subject here is in the background.... the windmill is not decorative .... it is powering a peanut oil factory !!


What is Leica up to ...?

Leica has been on the edge of financial ruin for years .... they simply will not run a business for profit or compromise
on their cameras.... which is why they are excellent, expensive and have zero % of the market. So we have been waiting for their
financial obituary.

But.... yesterday the news leaked out that their booth at Photokina2008 (the world's premiere camera exhibit in Germany)
is 3X larger than any previous year and they are going to show some major new digital camera(s)at the "entry level" ( <$1000 ? ).
Us Leica-weenies have been messaging them that the world is waiting for this and don't screw this up like you let Konica beat you
with the Hexar 15 years ago.... so maybe they got the message now? ..... anyway, this means that I won't be buying anything until I
hear the Photokina announcement (September).... but I will be drooling with photographic fantasies until then.

[Postscript].... Konica of course caved in, was purchased by Minolta who then also caved and then Konica-Minolta was
purchased by Sony who is market driven, makes tons of money making boring cameras like everyone else's .... Ricoh and Sigma
are trying to produce the equivalent of a digital Hexar, which is what many people (like me) want as their everyday carry-around
(fast, super-quality prime lens in a small body with manual controls)..... let's see what Leica comes up with at Photokina.


fish this morning's Senior Achievement award goes to me for digging a hole, sifting the dirt and scattering around the yard..... to make a bigger fish pond.

i caught the incredible LochNess fish and transferred it to john's pond.... it was 2" when i got it at petco 3 years ago, and today in was 15" and weighed 26 pounds.

actually, it was closer to 24" and maybe 50-60 pounds or more.

so.... what to do with this pond liner....?

Oh.... and i got my HP photo printer connected up to my Ubuntu desktop PC and downloaded the drivers from [] and installed them..... it's working just fine ..... i am one step closer to Nirvana.

Today's BP, pulse and weight readings are.... 140/85 & 65 & 163.

On The WTC Collapse....

having too much time on my hands, i've been reading up on the collapse of the WTC and building #7, and watching the videos again, and looking at the aerial photos of the WTC rubble ..... and have come to believe that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolitions.

buidling #7 was also the local CIA headquarters and i could imagine that it was always pre-wired with shape charges to destroy it at a moments' notice.

pngi will stop short of constructing my own political conspiracy theory, but the collapses look controlled and that raises a lot of questions regarding "who knew?".

Update on WTC

2 of my Senior Design students will be analyzing the beam stresses in the WTC#1 building as the temperature of the steel increases. These will be 2 separate studies (one an ANSYS FEM, the other a spreadsheet truss analysis)that include the stress in every beam in the floor trusses and connecting vertical columns.

the shed looked magical a moment ago because of the play of light and angles etc etc..... and I caught it here....
.... but the sun has moved and the magic's gone now.



May.12.2008 : America is a Collapsing Star

Like a star collapsing into a black hole, it's unstoppable at this point. The government has shredded the Constitution to do as it pleases, the media runs on trash, lies, false opinions and marketplace forces so whatever information reaches us is nowhere near whatever the truth might have actually been.

The 20th century was America's, but that's ended, and it's going to be someone else's turn now.

There is no truth out there, and there probably never was.... we have utterly destroyed our country and most of us don't even see that it's happened.

Oh well .... let's just break here for a commercial ..... and come back with yesterday's weather, today's sports and see what movies will be out this weekend.


On a follow-up note to yesterday's cynicism.... from the WSJ this morning.... the Italian company Finmeccanica is largely owned and operated by the Italian government, and they just bought the US defense company DRS Technologies (a branch is in Fitchburg). Reading on, the article lists a new wave of US defense company purchases by foreign companies, due to the weak dollar and the fact that basically anything and everything in the US is up for sale these days, even our defense technologies.

jpg jpg DRS (Fitchburg) was General Electric Navy Turbines 10 years ago.... now the Italian government has purchased it to get a foothold in the US defense industry (which GE abandoned as unprofitable). Also note that GE Navy Gears in Lynn is basically fading away (or will Japan or China buy it?), not to mention my old GE gas turbine job which is now done in Poland.

So .... here's a double "Alfred": to the General Electric Company for its notable pursuit of short term profit at any cost and to the USA for literally selling itself to anybody for money.

Follow-up (May.15.2008) from the Financial Times

In continuing coverage from Tuesday's edition of Daily Designs, the Financial Times (5/14, Dinmore, Pfeifer) reported that Finmeccanica, "Italy's largest aerospace and defense group, [Tuesday] hailed its acquisition of" DRS, "a leading supplier to the U.S. military, as a 'strategic' deal that would allow it to market American products around the world." DRS produces "sensitive electronics equipment such as sensors and radar that are used by the military and the U.S. Department of Defense," and "are...deployed on Los Angeles and Virginia class submarines."

Oh ... I get it ....... we get the secret recipes for pizza and canolies while Italy gets the patents on the electrical systems inside out attack class submarines. Not to mention that the USA-based engineers who know how to design that stuff now work for a foreign country.


Deb's napping now and i'm reading and writing.... beats the hell out of work i tell ya.

a day or two later....

note note

jpgJapanese Andromeda

beautiful plants are usually dainty.... this pretty species ain't dainty at all.

this plant was mashed back to the ground and basically split in half and i gave it up for dead a few years ago. this picture doesn't do it justice.... it's the prettiest bush on the lot.... it's hidden behind a large "other" bush and it seems to like it just fine.

i tossed the little tag that came with it, so i never knew what it was, and all the books i have were no help.... then ..... in the little nursery next to LHS, i saw a few more of the same....and now i own 3 of them and, more importantly, i know what they are.

they tolerate (according to the tag) virtually any light conditions from full sun to full shade, most any soil conditions.... what more could i ask for?


Senior Design Course / Summer 2008

i have 10 students in this class and they are just super.... i beat them up relentlessly today about their project proposals and they argued back at me and acted like some real engineers who believed in their projects ..... and this is only week #2 !!.... the summer is going to be fun.

Go Andrea !!!


Me, the Sturbridge CoffeeHouse and the Unfortunate Toniah Abner

jpg I drove D to the dentist today (Southbridge) and we shot over to a coffee house after. Nice cozy, homey place.... shelves of good books, sofa's , tables and chairs.... I could own a place like that.... old, largely unadorned, and lots of "use marks" that makes it feel like home. Coffee was great and I had a spinach something... looked and tasted like a soft crussant... it was good, and we chatted with D's hygienist (sp?) who came with us.

I grabbed their business card off the front desk (for this journal) and we came home.

Back home I noticed someone's name handwritten on the front of the card .... actually, not just any someone, specifically a Ms. Toniah Abner.

jpgWhy? I thought would that be?..... ummmm ... turn the card over and there's a chart and initials and this is Toniah's "coffee club membership card that gets her a free coffee after she buys 10 or so.

Which explains why I had to reach way over the cash register to the card stack to grab this one.... I grabbed the first one and of course Abner would be up front.

So.... my apologies to Ms. Abner, it was an honest mistake.

(I mailed the card back to the coffee shop, hoping it gets there before Ms. Abner needs her next cup of coffee.)


Skepticism, the US Constitution, and What's Wrong with the USA

i have (obviously) been on the warpath for a month now thinking that we need a revolution in this country to stop its internal, global, moral, economic, political, diplomatic decline, and make it dramatically better than it is. i gave much thought to what fundamental changes i could or would make if the power was mine to fix things, starting with the thought that we need to fire everyone in washington every 4 years, etc etc etc.

for understanding and inspiration (in my role as leader of the new American Revolution), i have been re-reading the US Constitution and a rational, thoughtful text on it's creation, history and interpretation of its letter and its intent.

once again, i am in awe of this most brilliant work, and the people who crafted it.... i just don't have the words to do it justice.

in terms of justice for all people and the law of freedom and equality, and what is right and wrong in governing a country.... we have it written already as best as it can be put into words.

the real problem with the USA is not the law of the land, it's We, the People.


I am so extremely happy not to be part of the busines BS world anymore. Here are the five major points that Jeff Immelt (the GE CEO) is spewing all over the stockholders:

  1. We are sustaining strong long-term performance. [what else would we expect, you dork?]
  2. We are creating a more valuable portfolio by investing in fast-growth, higher-return businesses such as oil and gas, avionics and commercial finance, while divesting slower-growth businesses. [translation: we will relentlessly chase short term, flash-fire profits which dooms us to selling off low and buying in high, but you folks are too dumb to see that.]
  3. We are driving growth as a process. [i just puked on my shoes.]
  4. We are expanding margins and improving returns. [that's the same BS as #2 you jerk.]
  5. We have a strong leadership team operating in a simpler structure. [what "simpler structure" .... the business world is in white water and GE is trying not to hit a rock.]

And now.... direct from the dance recital in Grand Prairie ....

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Tonight was the recital.

Rebekah did Singing in the Rain,the Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas, and Hard Knock Life from Annie.

Rachel did Going to the Chapel and I'm Gonna Get Married, Shirley Temple Baby Take a Bow, and Splish Splash I was Taking a Bath.

They were stunning and wonderful. The pictures don't do them justice.

Rachel fell off her scooter and onto her face last night in case you are wondering about the giant cut on her left cheek. Bad timing for that. No more scootering the night before recital.

It is after 1am. Better get to bed but I am excited from the recital.


May.22.2008 / Catherine comes to Boston !


....then Mike, Chris, Catherine are off to Ireland.

May.24.2008 .... M,C & C are in Ireland now, but....



note note note


May.27.2008 .... Happy Birthday Catherine

that's my baby girl over there.... only she's grown up now.

i resisted the urge to post baby pictures and tell cute anecdotes.... so her picture will have to speak the 1000 words i left unsaid.

i love you, kiddo..... happy birthday !

A timely, sardonic, and funny article on garbage software.

In case they shut the link down, here is the text version.

Your Local Traffic Report / May.28.2008

Hamilton Street heading East: jam up at the Rt13 intersection due to fire trucks leaving the station, causing a 1/2 mile backup that won't clear itself until this evening. When leaving Mike's house, take Rt13 north to avoid this.

Rt13 heading North: School buses all over the place, average speed to Summer Street is 5mph ! ... impatient drivers getting anxious and cutting in and out of side streets to get ahead of the buses.... not working. When returning from Rocky's, take Manoosnock to Rt12 South.

Rt12 heading South: Construction (road widening) is horrible... one lane.... cops stop traffic alternatively each way to let the cars in each direction have a chance. To escape this, cut across into the K-mart plaza and go South at South St. exit.

South St. heading South: Very heavy traffic jam due to every crazed driver in the state is here trying to avoid the other roadblocks (see above). Bring a book with you for reading in this jam .... Tolstoy's "War and Peace" should get you through it.

M I I I I I I K K K K K K E E E E E E !!!!!

how could you go on vacation the same week my scanner/printer broke and i have to get my new one working ..... you are so irresponsible.

note note note

A Cyclone in Burma

Burma agreed today to allow some international assistance for the victims of Cyclone Nargis, two weeks after the devastating storm killed an estimated 128,000 people.

Despite fears that many thousands more could die of starvation and disease without outside help, Burma's military regime had previously resisted intense international pressure to allow all but a few foreign aid teams and aircraft into the country.

The latest UN assessment of the situation in the Irrawaddy delta estimates that just 20% of as many as 2.5 million people gravely affected by the disaster have so far been reached with aid.

The official toll of dead and missing has risen to 133,653, while the number of injured has leapt from 1,403 to 19,359.

Relief supplies are only trickling into the country. The UN world food programme said it had distributed enough rice, beans and high-energy biscuits for 212,000 people, about a third of those thought to be in the most desperate need.

An Earthquake in China

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Index of Journal Pages

The Names of 4000 Dead US Soldiers

Other places to visit....