Sunday, October 29, 2006

Last night at dinner I annouced to Ginger that it was time for me to go on a diet. Starting tomorrow.

So today went pretty well. I believe I kept the calorie intake under 1500.

For the first couple of weeks my plan is to just keep the calorie count low. Normal food, just hopefully not to much. After I return from the camping trip I will examine the my results so far and decide if I need to kick it up a notch.

I in the past, I have had good success with high-protein, low carb diet. Unfortunately normal people can't live that way long term. But it does work pretty well.

As you can imagine, right now is not the perfect time to start a diet. Pecan pie season is about to start. :(

How much am I hoping to lose? Twenty-three pounds seems like a good number. Good for who though? Note to self: don't let this ruin the camping trip.

Wish me luck, and please don't send me your left over halloween candy.
Last night the kids spent the night at my Father's house. I think he was there too.

Since we had an empty house, we decided to head out for a night on the town.

We went to a local haunt, Olde Heidelberg for dinner. Our usual waitress, Ellaine was on vacation so he had to make do.

On this occassion, I decided to stray from my half dozen usuals and try something different. When the waitress asked for my order, I simply asked for some fish. She recommended the Mediterrean Talopia with capers, olives, tomatoes in a beur blanc sauce. Sounds good, bring it on.

And it was good. Can I have seconds?
Barry L. Dorough
Sunday October 29, 2006
This morning my friend Barry died. Barry and I met when we in college at Auburn back in the early 90's. We took many computer science classes together.
Points of interest from our time at Auburn included playing the Addams Family pinball machine in Foy and watching Dark Shadows on the new Sci-Fi channel. Tiny Toons, Chips-Ahoy, and Premium Saltine crackers. We procrastinated studying for tests together often, including one time when we took a short 10 mile walk around Auburn instead of studying for a final. And then there was the inedible chocolate cheesecake I made him.
We both moved to Huntsville in December of 1992 where we discovered the elusive 'extra' paycheck. Over the years our families took several vacations together both to the beach and snow skiing, but never snow skiing at the beach.
Barry was a good friend. I will miss him.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gearing Up

I received a package in the mail from REI yesterday. I had ordered an aluminium pot handle and an thermal mattress pad for the impending camping trip.

I was amazed at the size of the package. The package was about the size of a shoe box. That is pretty small considering it contained a 2.5" pad.

The pad is advertised to pack down to about the size of a nalgene bottle. In my opinion it is larger than a nalgene bottle but it is still pretty small. Much smaller than the 1/2" foam pad I purchased from Wal-Mart back in 2001.

The only drawback is that the pad is not self inflating. So I will huff and I will puff, and I will bl-blo-bl-blo-bl-blow your house down the mattress up.
Underhanded Footballl Is Not a Crime

Yesterday after work, I picked up the kids at school and we headed for the house. Once home the kids dropped their packs on the floor and we all went outside.

This is where things get wierd. All of a sudden, Jordan is holding football. I didn't even realize he had a football. And he wants to play. Tackle, Flag, NLF, what? Hmmm. Where did that come from. So we head out onto the field, which I had never noticed before either. The field is actually our driveway and some inventive youngster has chalked off the ..30, 40, 50, 40, 30 yard lines. Well fortunately he just wanted to toss the ball. Unfortunately I can't throw overhanded more than about 10 feet, so I was throwing underhanded. Have you ever seen anyone throw a football underhanded. Jordan must have been impressed with my style because he started throwing that way also. I encourage him to throw the normal way, because only a dinosaur with bad shoulders would throw a football underhanded.

Where did this football idea come from? Is it due to the weather. I do often hear this weather referred to as football weather. Perhaps it is genetic. Ginger is a real Auburn Football fan. Perhaps it is just a nasty virus he brought home from school. If so it should clear up in a few days.

Eventually Brianna decided to join us. She wanted to play center. Hike! Hike! The game quickly altered form and eventually became "Monkey in the Middle". I knew this game as "Keep Away", though the kids do a pretty good impersonation of a yellow haired monkey in the yard. And eventually the football was replaced with a Scooby-Doo dodge ball. This was Brianna's idea.

And skateboarding is not a crime either.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Idiot Light - Which Tire?

About a month or so back, I had a nail in my tire.  I discovered this because my Charger has an idiot light on the dash to tell you when a tire is low.  When the light first came on, I looked each tire over.  Visually they appears to be 'full' so I just let it ride.  Because the light remained on, everytime I exited the vehicle, I would walking around the call looking at each time.  After several days, I finally was able to visually determine which tire was low, and almost immediately I spotted the nail.
The lights behavior is as follows.  When the car is started, it turns on a few seconds and then turns back off, just like all the other idiot lights.  Once I start moving, within a second or two, it comes on if the pressure is off.  Unfortunately it doesn't tell me which tire it is.
Last week the light came on again, at which point I started walking around the car everytime I got out.  After a few days I noticed no difference in the appearance of the tires, so I got out the gauge.  The total PSI difference per my pressure gauge between the highest pressure and lowest pressure reading was 2 PSI.  I attempted to even it out, but again, I don't think the pressure gauge I have is consistent and reliable enough to achieve such a feat.  After all this effort I got back in the car and backed it down out of the driveway.  The light stayed on.  "Oh, well I thought, the tire will eventually visually make itself aware to me."
The weekend rolled around and I decided to have another go at the pressure equalization.  After adjusting the pressure in all my tires, and in David's Miata as he just happed to arrive while I had everything out, I backed down the drive again.  The light came back on again.  Oh well, return to visual inspection plan.
This morning when backing out of the garage, the light turned on as I had grown accustomed to expecting.  On the way to work it went back out. 
Ah-ha!  Apparrently the thing has a memory.  So I wasn't actually foiled a second time as I expected yesterday afternoon, I just didn't drive it far enough (or is it fast enough?).  I guess 50 feet doesn't count. 
All the tires are now apparently within tolerance.  Do I have a tire with a nail in it?  Not that I can tell.  Do I have a slow leak?  Possibly.  Which tire?  Who knows.  I guess I will wait and see if the light comes back on.
What have I learned here?
1.  Nothing.
2.  Ok, possibly one thing.  I need a more accurate pressure gauge than the common $0.99 pen shaped gauge that everyone is familar with.  This gauge is just not as accurate as the pressure sensors on the car.
Plan:  Locate and purchase a more precise $1.99 gauge.  Perhaps a nice digital one made in China.  I wonder what Harbor Freight has to offer?
Final Thoughts
The daily temperature has begun to change.  Is it possilbe, the light came on because it has been colder outside.  That can affect tire pressure, right?    PV = nRT, right?  I would have assumed that the temperature differential for all tires would be the same so the light would stay off.  After all, it was my understanding that the sensor didn't actually look at the tire pressure but simply compared the speed of the rotating tires, much like anti-lock brakes.  A low tire, has a smaller radius and will therefore turn faster than a tire with normal pressure.  Assuming this is true, if two tires were equally low, the speed would remain similar and the light should stay off.  Maybe.
Look at the monkey
I have now been trained to walk around my car every time a yellow tire looking light appears before me.  Imagine what I could learn to do if someone would just start ringing a bell.  And contrary to what you may have heard, the door is not a jar, it is a door.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Miata: 100,000 Miles

Last Sunday, October 15, 2006, the odometer on my Miata rolled over 100k.

Where was I when this even occurred? In my driveway! How did I manage that? I put the last 2 miles on the car driving around the neighborhood, mindful of the odometer.

Obviously I took several photos of the car, odometer, etc. As is typical, I haven't posted any of those photos.

In the last week I have racked up an additional 72 miles on the odometer.

And the Charger is sneaking up on 4000 miles.
Truck Update

This weekend I managed to get another lower control arm blasted and painted. I also painted the replacment frame cross member that is located below the radiator support.

The original cross member is bent up pretty badly. I assume that the truck was in a front end collision at some point. I bought the replacement last year at a nearby salvage yard.

I still have a few, probably six, more pieces to blast and paint before front end assembly begins. This will be a huge milestone in the process.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I am on a roll tonight.

I just got a call from my friend Ken H., the creative genius behind Bravo! He is down in Birmingham right now at the Eric Clapton concert, 10th row seats. He called to let me listen to a little live music.

Now go download the Bravo! demo.
Hello World

Last Night while sitting in a math class I listened as the Professor explained Newton's Method. Basically it is a method to improve an estimate of where a function has a zero, meaning for what value of x will y be zero. He then showed how to use this information to calculate the square root of three.

For the last little bit, I have been reading a book on Python programming that I bought last December. Learning a new language is not a spectators sport. Reading alone does not cut it.

When I got home last night, I took my new found information and implemented a square root function in p\Python. This is my first real program in Python. It is a pretty simple actually, though pretty useless because Python's math module already implements a square root function, math.sqrt(). I tested my function against the library function. Mine gave the same result to the same number of digits for every value I tested.

def squareRoot(square):
'''calculate the square root of a number'''
def f(x):
return (x*x) - square
def fp(x):
return (2*x)
def newtonsMethod(x):
return x - ( f(x) / fp(x) )
input = float(square) / 2
for i in range(1, 10):
output = newtonsMethod(input)
if output == input: break
input = output;
return output

It's got some spam in it.

Want a cube root function? Just ask.

Newtons Method says for some value X0 plugged into his formula, it will produce an X1 which is a more accurate solution. After a few iterations you have a value accurate to a dozen digits.


X1 = X0 - ( f(x0) / fp(x0) )

where f(x) is the function of the equation you are estimating and fp(x) is the first derivative of f(x).

So to find the cube root, replace f(x) with

f(x) = x**3 - cube

and the first derivative would be

fp(x) = 3 * x**2

Apply Newton's method for a few iterations and you have an answer.

If your interested in learning a new programming language, give Python a try. It's free and there are lots of resources available. Check it out at

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, eggs, and Spam.
Camping Weather

David E. and I were talking recently. I mentioned how nice the weather was, he responded it was camping weather and next thing you know, I am planning a camping trip. I started out with a fairly short list of 5. About a week later we had two definite NAKs from the original list though the head count is at 6 with I believe 4 more maybes, or is it 6.

Our idea of camping involves loading up a back pack, driving to another state, hiking a few miles into the woods and setting up a base camp.

The trip is still a few weeks off but everyone is already getting excited.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hello From Destin, Florida

This week was the kid`s Fall break so I took the week off and we headed to Florida.

The week has gone very quickly. We arrived on Tuesday and head back home tomorrow, Saturday. This week I have caught up on my homework, read two books ( Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality [Bob Walsh] and Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them: How to Keep your Tractors Happy and Your Family Running [Roger Welsch] ), been out to dinner a few times, rode go-carts, played mini-golf, and played a couple of games of Monopoly. Oh yeah, the kids and G. spent some time on the beach and at the pool.

The internet access this week has been spotty, but don`t for a minute believe that is why I haven`t been blogging. It seems that I have just fallen off the wagon. Several times this week I have thought of something I meant to share but inevitably I forget what it is before I get around to writing it down.

Brianna had her 6th Birthday on Tuesday. She is growing up so fast, but she will always be my Bri-Baby.

Remember that box of truck parts I ordered a few weeks ago? Has that been three weeks already? It has still not arrived. Apparently UPS lost it. A new box was supposed to be packed up and sent my way on Wednesday, 2nd day Air.

Later I will record our dining experiences. That has turned out real handy in the past to look back at what was good and what not.

Time to watch a movie. Brother Bear 2. I am so excited.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Lazy Sunday

For a bit of pop culture, follow the link, and then go check out Wikipedia or Google for some more. Double True! Be warned, you could easy kill a few hours watching all the response videos. You definitely want to check out the West Coast response though. Crazy delicious.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Where has the Time Gone?

The last week passed quickly.  It's been almost a week since my last entry.  I must have been busy.
Today I received the first of two packages I was expecting containing truck parts.  The other one was suppose to show up last Wednesday.  UPS lost it.  More on that as the details unfold.  (Have you ever know anyone to be so unlucky with receiving packages, think back to the Miata rollbar before you answer.)
This weekend's truck progress was arduous.  When I got started I forgot the filter the sand before putting it in the blaster.  Big mistake.  After getting clogged a couple of times I decided the best plan was to empty it out and take the blaster apart to clean out all the valves.  This brought productivity to a dead stand still. 
Trivia - a 50 lb bag of sand almost fills a 5 gallon bucket.  Yep, using the same couple of bags of sand for nearly a year, I finally had to buy some more sand, 2 bags.  After all this time, my initial two bags had dwindled to less than one bucket.  The rest of it is blowing in the wind.
While I had the spray gun out this weekend, I painted the Miata's wiper arms.  They were pretty well faded.  While at it, I painted the wiper arm's for David's Miata also.
Ax^2 + By^2 + Cx + Dy + E = 0. 
Have you ever tried to derive the equation for a hyperbola?  I am pretty certain I did this years ago while at Auburn.  This weekend, I was working on this again, when I got a very real sense of deja vu.  About three pages in, I decided to give it up.  Based on my previous experience I was about half done.  The first time I tried this, I dropped a negative sign somewhere.  With a 6 page derivation, it takes a while to find such a trivial mistake.  And another while or two to fix it. You can do it with less paper but it's not legible!
(((X - h)^2)/a^2 ) - (((Y - k)^2)/b^2) = 1
I wonder when Overhaulin' will be coming to get my truck?