Wednesday, February 28, 2007

For my southern friends

My brother sent me an email with pictures of his vacation frivolity. He and his son Bubba went to a shootin' range. I'm not including the pictures, and I'm changing the names to protect the guilty, otherwise they would be in danger of losing their Canadian citizenship for this travesty.
So we had nothing to do in Florida one day.... and seeing how this is America... let's go shoot some high calibre weaponry.

Bubba is holding a 9 mm Glock 26 (very similar to what Jack Bauer of 24 uses). He also shot a 9mm semi-automatic machine gun but it was too heavy and he ended up shooting the track that the targets are attached to and broke it (the owner said it happens all the time)

He shot somewhere between 200-250 rounds.

I shot pretty much everything they had available. 3x 9mm Glocks, 10 mm Glock, .40 Glock, .45 Glock, .357 Magnum (pictured), 9mm semi-auto machine gun.

I shot somewhere around 300 rounds.

Bubba's favourite was the Glock he is holding. It is lightweight and easy to load and use.

I liked the .45 Glock as it was the most powerful of all of the guns available.

Bubba has several targets that we destroyed. All in all a fun time was had for only $87.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Answer... the question asked here is H.G. Wells.

Here is some more context to the quote.
You are scared out of your wits! What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to men! Did you think God had exempted Weybridge? He is not an insurance agent.
This is of course excerpted from The War of the Worlds. The narrator-protagonist has encountered a curate who has, how shall we say it, "lost it".

The spectre of multi-armed bloodsucking slugs from Mars pillaging his world with their heat rays and giant mechanical walking tanks has undone the good cleric. He has been separated from his reason. The narrator is trying to snap him back to the practical, and back to action. This attempt ultimately fails, and the two of them eventually end up desperately battling to the quiet death while trapped in a wrecked house next to a Martian base of operations. By this time, the curate is thoroughly insane. In the end, his religion proved not only useless and but even harmful. His faith had only ever been an empty, fracturable shell, and when it was crushed then so was he.

Wells' views of religion in general, and Christianity in particular are pithily displayed in this excerpt and this tale.

This quote, this passage, and this misadventure rank among the top three extra-biblical influences in my unpaid childhood reading career. I have always ever remembered this angry tongue-lashing, and I was morbidly fascinated, horrified and grieved by this fictional Christian's descent into madness.

I remember resolving to myself that if I believe -- if I have faith in the human life, death, and resurrection of the Christ in final payment for my depravities -- if I have true religion -- then I will really believe, and my faith will not collapse in the face of calamity. I resolved never to give a skeptic the opportunity to berate me for the reasons that Wells' testy fictional stand-in lashed the curate. The resolution still stands, but it has not yet been truly tested.

Funny what you remember from childhood, eh?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ice Damming

The ceiling in the kitchen started leaking late this aft. I believe we've got some ice damming going on. The quite cold weather and heavy snow over the last several weeks has led to eight inches of pure ice sitting in the eaves and on the lower portion of the roof. Under these conditions water will get under the shingles. I believe the water is getting in the second floor attic, travelling down the inside of the wall on the second floor and then pooling above the kitchen. All that can be done is to melt that ice and then see what we can do to fix it. But when the ice starts to melt things might get worse before they get better.

So anyways, I took out the storm windows in the upstairs bathroom immediately above the leak. This appears to have cooled down the wall enough to stop or slow down the melting action, and the drip-drip in the kitchen has abated for now. It's also getting colder out and the sun has gone down.

Tomorrow, I've got to get up on the high part of the roof, shovel off what snow I can, lay down heaters to melt the ice on the high roof, and somehow avoid falling on my head.

The joys of a house that's just as old as me... My knee creaks and its roof leaks.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Getting there is half the fun

The series on light is dazzling even me, so while we wait for post number six of seven I would appreciate some transportation advice. I want to take my wife on a little out-of-province trip, but I don't want to break the budget. I'm hoping to hit upon a solution that can be both adventurous and inexpensive.

Here are the possibilities I've come up with so far....

Monowings. So cool that commentary is superfluous. The only drawback appears to be the potential for mild road rash acquisition upon landing.

The Personal TravelBox. It comes with a reading tablet, safety belt, an electric battery, a port-a-potty, running water, light and ventilation and the guarantee that its occupant will remain unseen. I find this concept strangely attractive.

Motorized Stairway. Almost all the excitement of boarding an aeroplane. However, cross-continental travel times are a bit of a throwback to the days of the Oregon Trail.

Fake Husband. No matter how you look at it, my beloved would get a great vacation from all that vexes her and we would save 50% on the trip.

Sir Francis Drake Memorial Royal Retirement Go-carts. But we might be back to those Oregon Trail travel times. I only have a week for this trip.

A Nice Reliant Automobile, the one just to the left of the sharp-dressed go-cart driver. Yes, we could put out a hundred or two for a beater and then abandon it in a corn field when we're done with it.

A Discount Airline. Oh, never mind.

Proletariat Blimp. This option is almost as cool as the Monowings.

Motorized Picnic Table. We'd pack a lunch, of course.

A Blockhead Car. Sorry Gummby.

Gummby's Car. He likes Canadians. I'm sure he wouldn't mind driving it up here to lend to us.

Mandarin Ice Fishing Hole Cutting Machines. Lake Erie is frozen over pretty good right now. As long as we stick to a true trajectory we shouldn't break through.

Goldfish Chauffeur. The fish steers the vessel by its movements. A camera above the cockpit tracks the movements of the fish (aka the Terranaut). Its location is then wirelessly transmitted to a remote mobile processing station (RMPS) where the data is converted into motion commands and transmitted back to the motion controller of the vehicle. We'd have to pay the RMPS to drive along behind us, which may adversely impact the economics of this mode.

Motorized Egg. This is not cool.

Good Witch of the South Travelling Bubble. Like many of my favourites, this mode is aerial. But I fear its exploitation may damage my image.

That's it. That's all I've got. Time's running out and I can't decide. There is wisdom in many friends. Help me out?

The note on my daughter's door

"Please keep door closed at all times (no exceptions) because of the STUPID DOG who will shred any paper product within her reach!"

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monthly Board Meeting

Yes, it's that time again!

It's time to
prepare for that favourite monthly festival, the board meeting, the season for free exchange of ideas and recompense for one's myriad mistakes. Kind of like making a contrary comment at Pyromaniacs. (just trying to get blogspotted at two different blogs, a feat that I suspect has yet to be accomplished)

See you tomorrow, I hope.


Genesis Cosmology: Let there be Light

This is part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 on the very Biblical subject of Light

What would the universe be like if there was no light? It would be dark, right? Well yes it would be dark, but that’s not quite the whole question. We’re not merely asking what it would be like if there was no light being emitted by anything… we’re asking what form would our universe take if there was no such thing as light?

Does it even make sense to ask that question?

Consider that our universe is composed of matter and energy, and for most intents and purposes, the laws of physics require that matter and energy are interchangeable. Matter is a sort of stored energy. Energy is a type of hyperactive matter.

Einstein formulated this relationship on macroscopic scales when he came up with the world’s most famous equation:

E = mc2

i.e., the energy contained in an object equals its mass times the speed of light squared. It can be re-expressed as:

m = c2/E

The “mass” of a specified amount of energy equals the speed of light squared divided by the amount of that same energy.

This equation tells us that our universe was created with a fixed amount of mass + energy. That fixed amount is somewhat large, but it is fixed nonetheless. The only things that change are the relative ratios of mass and energy.

But notice the constant term in Einstein’s equation: c, which represents the speed of light in a vacuum. That speed is exactly 64,755,170,928 kilometres per second. Light (or at least its speed) is an integral part of the universal balance between matter and energy.

My personal mass is around 79.5 kilograms. Gummby is a diligent student, and he doesn’t like being dependent on foreign oil, so he has perfected a machine based on Einstein’s equation. He’s worked really hard on it! If I kiss my wife goodbye and then step into Gummby’s energy conversion chamber deep within the Ozarks, I will turn into 333,552,558,334,108,000,000,000,000,000 joules of pure energy, which is equivalent to 316,146,852,937,090,000,000,000,000 BTU’s.

Consider this accomplishment! Gummby and I, through sheer hard work and personal sacrifice, have solved North America’s energy needs for the foreseeable future, although my personal sacrifice is slightly more significant than his. It has been very nice interacting with y’all. See you on the other side.

But light is part and parcel of the physics behind Gummby’s device. If there is no such thing as light, then we have to assume that E = mc2 is inoperable, and Gummby’s mass-energy converter will not work.

Now let’s squint and look at things at microscopic scales. We talked in an earlier post about the process by which hyperactive electrons in shell-orbits around an atomic nucleus store and release energy. One of the ways that energy is imparted to an orbiting electron is when a photon of light impacts and interacts with the atom. The energy carried by the photon (and the photon has no mass, so Einstein’s equation tells us that it must be pure energy) is used to promote the electron to a more energetic shell-orbit. And when the electron has had enough of this fun and frivolity, it emits a photon (again, pure energy) and then drops down to a more slovenly shell-orbit.

Light is the primary transmitter of energy at microscopic scales. A given atom or other microscopic structure may have a certain amount of energy, but light has to be involved at some point if atoms as we know them are to exist and function. And if atoms can’t exist in quite the way they do now, then neither can ions, or molecules, or grains of sand, or Arkansans, or trees, or mountains, or oceans or planets, or solar systems, or nebulae, or galaxies, or galaxy clusters, or anything at all to which we can relate.

This is not to say that an intelligent designer can’t come up with laws of physics for a universe where there is no such thing as light, but it would look and act nothing like our current universe, and we would not recognize it as having any sort of form or order. Our language is beggared for words that might describe such an existence. From our perspective, void or formless might be good descriptors.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
--- Genesis 1:1-5
Before there was any such thing as light, the earth was without form and void.

Whoever wrote Genesis was a very insightful fellow. Either that, or Genesis was written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, who was actually there when it happened.