Finally, a road win

The U of Hawai’i football team won its third game of the season this afternoon in San Jose. The victory broke a 17-game road losing streak. It was also its first shutout in 10 years.

Good for the kids. Maybe the coach can breathe a little more easily as well. He’s Norm Chow, a longtime assistant coach around the college ranks. This is his first head coaching job after 30 years bouncing around as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, first at BYU and later at UCLA, Utah and USC. This is his third season with the team, and it’s had losing records each of his first two and will again this season.

Given his history, I don’t think Chow’s forgotten how to coach. I think the quality of player that the University of Hawai’i gets to play football for it is slightly lower talent-wise than those who play for the UCLAs and USCs of the world. Granted, the Mountain West conference isn’t the Pac-12 either, but it’s not full of cupcakes. Unfortunately, the local press doesn’t think that way. It’s been baying for his blood all season long. The fact that he’s got two more years on a contract doesn’t matter to the press; the columnists are taxpayers, sure, but any buyout would be split among all of us.

I say let him finish out his contract and see if he can make the team respectable again.

Rosetta and Philae

Welcome_to_a_comet_R

That’s Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, with one of lander Philae’s feet at the lower center. Because it bounced twice after its initial landing, Philae is not in the middle of a nice flat surface, but rather up against a cliff which is shading its solar panels. ESA has managed to rotate it 35 degrees in hopes that one of the larger of its panels can pick up enough solar energy to recharge its battery, but if that doesn’t work then Philae is done with its science. It was highly successful while on the comet, though, completing every one of its first batch of experiments. Rosetta will continue to accompany the comet as it moves around the sun.

Here was the last tweet between the two spacecraft:


If you’re curious, go to Twitter and search for the hashtag #CometLanding.

I’ve been enthralled by this. All this science is taking place some 300,000,000 miles away from us on a comet that’s about 2.5 miles long by 2.8 miles high. Oh, and it’s about 4.6 billion years old. That’s staggering.

Applause for a cleaner

Way back when I got a stainless steel hot tray for Christmas. I tried my hardest to keep it clean, but it got stained pretty badly from all the bottoms of thousands of pans and Pyrex microwave dishes and platters and stuff that have rested on it.

I tried Comet, I tried liquid soaps, I tried brushes. Nothing really worked. Then today I ran across a Facebook post from a friend who said he’d used something called Bar Keepers Friend to clean up a big hunk of steel he wanted to use in his oven to cook pizza on. Rod told me it worked like a charm, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I went down to Bed Bath and Beyond and found a can of the powdered stuff for $4.49. I followed the instructions and scrubbed and scrubbed. Then I made a paste and let that sit on the tray for a few minutes before scrubbing some more. I did that four times.

Behold!


From Events

Veterans Day 2014

I know this is a serious day and date. You can find many solemn remembrances of Armistice Day all over the web. One of the most spectacular is the sea of poppies placed in the grassy moat which surrounds the Tower of London.

My purpose here today is to show you what a veteran looked like before he was placed on active service in a real job. Behold the boot camp sailor!

Linkmeister official photo, Company 132, RTC San Diego, June 1972

Linkmeister official photo, Company 132, RTC San Diego, June 1972

This was the official company photo, taken from a hardbound album given to each recruit upon successful completion of 9 weeks of basic training before heading out to either the Fleet or to specialized training school (in my case Radioman Class “A” school, about two blocks from the recruit areas on the same base in San Diego).

Science! Spacecraft! Comets!

Is everyone aware that the European Space Agency has a spacecraft orbiting a comet at the moment? And that the day after tomorrow the Agency is going to try to land a robot on one of the larger chunks of said comet?

That’s one hell of a plan.

Here’s the landing site.
Agilkia_landing_site_6_November_2014_node_full_image_2

Much of the surface of the comet is covered in boulders – some larger than houses – as well as steep slopes, deep pits and towering cliffs. In the lower part of this image, the narrowness of the neck region connecting the two lobes is emphasised, with the rugged terrain of the larger lobe in the background.

On 12 November, Rosetta will release Philae from an altitude of 22.5 km from the comet centre at 08:35 GMT/09:35 CET, with signals confirming deployment arriving at Earth 28 minutes later.

Philae will take about seven hours to descend to the surface, with the signal confirming a successful touchdown expected to arrive on Earth in a one-hour window centred on 16:02 GMT/17:02 CET.

You can follow Philae at this website, starting at 9:00 AM HST on Tuesday, Nov. 11. That will be 11:00 AM PST and 2:00 PM EST.

Pricey Sunday

Our home water pressure has been a little above normal for quite a while now, although I didn’t know that that’s what was causing me to hear water running anywhere in the house at a specific corner of the playroom. Over the past few days, though it got really really loud. So I called a plumber we’ve used before.

Well, he came out yesterday and tested the pressure, and what should normally be around 75 PSI was 125 PSI rising to 150. He said, “your pressure regulator is broken, and as long as I’m replacing that why don’t I change the valve for the yard sprinklers and the main residential one, since they’re equally as old as the regulator.” That made some sense, so we said okay.

Then he got into it, and it involved 4 hours of labor, two new valves, a new regulator and a whole bunch of digging to get at the old pipe in order to replace it with new PVC and copper so everything will be more easily accessible in the future.


From Events

The yellow lever is the new main shutoff valve and the bell-like object is the new pressure regulator.

Suffice to say it cost a lot more than anticipated, but we’re happy with the results, so I guess it’s worth it.

College Football Saturday

Hmm. 9th-ranked Arizona State is up 34-17 over 10th-ranked Notre Dame in the third quarter. Unranked Texas A&M is up 35-24 on 3rd-ranked Auburn with 4:41 left in the third quarter, but Auburn just scored to get within 11 points. 11th-ranked Old Miss destroyed Presybterian 48-0, a shocker. 12-ranked Baylor whupped 15th-ranked Oklahoma 48-14. Top-ranked Mississippi State is about to kick off against UT-Martin, a school no one outside the state of Tennessee can locate on a map. Fifth-ranked Alabama is about to take the field against 16th-ranked LSU, which might be the best game left on today’s schedule, although 4th-ranked Oregon against 17th-ranked Utah might be pretty good as well.

I haven’t watched a full game of football yet this fall, be it NFL or college. I think I’ll veg out the rest of the day in front of the tube.

A “Blizzard” of vetoes?

I’m with Kevin Drum, who quotes Ramesh Ponnuru:

Senate Democrats will have the power to subject almost all legislation to filibuster (a word that does not appear in Will’s column [whence came the “blizzard” phrase]). Overcoming a filibuster takes 60 votes. So Republicans, who will probably end up with 54 seats, would have to win over Democrats to get legislation through the Senate to the president’s desk. If they can do that, the legislation is unlikely to draw a veto.

Uh, yeah. The Democrats have the filibuster. Kevin asks

Is there some kind of unspoken assumption among pundits that Democrats aren’t going to routinely insist on a 60-vote threshold for Republican legislation?

Do the pundits think the Democrats are going to wimp out and not use it as a weapon against legislation they don’t like? There may be slightly fewer instances of its use; I think the House is going to send over tons of legislation that addresses the ids of its loonier members, but I doubt that McConnell and his pals in the Senate will agree with a lot of it and bring it to the floor for votes.

It makes no sense


All three of those policies are Democratic issues, so it makes all the sense in the world to vote for the Republicans to implement them.

My fellow Americans, what were you thinking?