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Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog called 'Kosmo'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Burns Supper Flop :-(

Thursday was January 25th, Robert Burns birthday anniversary. Robbie Burns was the very famous Scottish poet, which is why we Scots folk traditionally celebrate Burns Night with a Burns Supper. This is a get-together where we recite Burns poem Address to a Haggis and eat Haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) as the main course. It is preceded traditionally by Cock-a-Leekie soup (Leek soup with a bit of chicken in it, diced carrots etc etc) and followed by something sweet, e.g. trifle. All accompanied by much Uisghe (=whisky).

Unfortunately, both SWMBO and I have been feeling poorly and exhausted of late, so we decided not to go out to celebrate Burns Nicht. Since SWMBO didn't feel up to cooking much, it fell to me to organise our own little subset of the traditional Burns Supper; hence the flop :-(

So the Cock-a-Leekie soup came out of a tin. Surprisingly, it was OK.

The haggis was deep frozen; it turned out to be rather dry and less spicy than usual.

In fact, the only thing that saved this meal was the choice of whiskies to wash it all down ;-)

My scottish blogreaders can help us recover by showing their own collections of single malts.

Sláinte agad-sa!

Comments (1)
Cop Car wrote " Single malts don't exist in our household. Attached photo shows our main cache of "hard" alcoholic beverages - not one of which has been touched, other than to be dusted (and that, not recently), since we moved here over 18 years ago. Prior to that, I'd be willing to wager they hadn't been touched since 1986, at which time Hunky Husband gave up the hard stuff, settling for a glass of red wine during the pre-dinner hour, each day. I haven't drunk much hard stuff since 1957, and I didn't ever drink Scotch of any sort. I know we are such a disappointment to a real Scot ;-)" Once a bottle of Scotch has been opened and air gets to the increased surface area of a partially filled bottle, the Scotch will only stay good for about 2 years. After that, it doesn't taste as good; the bottle needs to be drunk, not left to stand for the next guest :-)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Folkstone's Funicular

It has two vehicles (going in opposite directions), but only one driver, and that driver is not even aboard either vehicle! And yet it works well :-)

I admit to liking the ingenuity of Victorian engineering :-)

Folkstone is a small town on England's southern coast, not far from Dover. The short funicular railway runs up the steep cliff from the Lower Sandgate Road (beach level) up to The Leas, only about 150 feet vertically. When the cab on the left goes uphill the cab on the right goes downhill and vice versa. The operator sits in the control hut at the top. First the upgoing passengers get in the cab at the bottom, then the operator lets the downgoing passengers get in the cab at the top. The operator then feeds water into the triangular tank below the top cab until it is heavier than the bottom one. He then releases the brake. The two cabs are connected by a cable running around a wheel between the tracks at the top. Gravity takes over and the heavier top cab descends as the lighter bottom cab rises. Upon arrival, the brake is applied and the top passengers exit, followed by the bottom passengers. Then the water is let out of the vehicle at the bottom. The cycle is then repeated.

"Leas Lift" was originally installed in 1885, it is one of the oldest water-lifts in the UK. The local council wanted to close it when the lease ran out in 2009. Protests caused it to be restored however and by 2011 it was re-opened. In January 2017, the lift again closed temporarily, because of an unsafe brake which is being fixed now and the lift should re-open in 2018 making it operational during the summer months.

I'm looking forward to taking another ride there soon, my last one was in the 1960s. This piece of Victorian engineering had a very small carbon footprint even when it started 133 years ago. There's a video of the funicular's operations on YouTube, here. Enjoy!

Comments (1)
Cop Car wrote " How clever! Better than getting the fox, cabbage, and sheep across the river." There are 13 such Victorian water-powered funiculars in GB; I'm told there's one at Niagara Falls too, although I never saw it.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hurricane Frederika came through

Hurricane Frederika came through Germany yesterday, killing several people, stopping train services, closing airports and blocking roads with fallen trees due to wind speeds over 100 mph. Power went out here too.

We live nestled in a valley, so my anemometer didn't quite reach 90 mph. Nevertheless, here are some photos of local damage done.

The large old multi-trunked leafless tree outside the savings bank HQ got blown down.

The young pines outside the old pub in the neighbouring village were uprooted too.

And the fence from the neighbour's garden got blown into our back garden too. Need to fix this hole before our respective dogs discover the hole :-(

SWMBO was in town so was sheltered there, but getting back home was difficult. The motorway was closed and many of the local roads were blocked by uprooted trees. The roads through the forest were too dangerous. When she called I was able to direct her via some treeless farm tracks getting her here in just over 2 hours (instead of 20 minutes). I noticed that all the wind turbines had had their blades feathered so no turbines were turning; a sensible precaution, preventing damage to them.

Last night's news reported at least five dead and numerous injured, e.g. due to lorries (trucks) being blown over. Power lines down, cranes blown over, roofs stripped off, stones being blown off the cathedrals etc. Peak windspeed reported was just over 200 kph (125 mph). :-(

It's calm now again and the power is back on, so that's a relief :-)

Weekend update : First total damage estimate is 800 million Euros! Our Kreis (~county) has forbidden access to forests and woods until the end of the month so the foresters get a chance to clean the dangerous trees and limbs away.

Comments (6)
Henning (D) wrote "Off Topic, but Janis Joplin would have been 75 today!" Ah, dear Janis , always singing up a storm, she'll always have a Piece of my heart :-)
Cop Car wrote " It was shocking to hear about the 200 km/hour winds on the Beeb. Thanks for the photos and appreciation for what SWMBO went through getting home. She was lucky. I am sorry to hear of the fatalities. " Current count is 10 dead and several hundred injured. Dresden is still without power, I heard.
Engrumpled Curmudgeon (Canada) wrote "Glad you are both OK - this was the first I'd heard of that hurricane". It was hefty here.
Frank (D), my roofer friend, tells me he had over 50 repair jobs, all urgent, by 9 a.m. this morning. Some people had lost half their roof and it was snowing!
Ed (USA) notes that "...Trump has a Stormy time too." Heh, heh ;-)
Pergelator wrote " Went looking for satellite photos of your storm, didn't find any. Lots of pictures of local damage. Every time there is a hurricane in the SE USA we are inundated with satellite photos." Different ways of reporting, I guess. First total damage estimate for Germany alone is 800 million Euros! Don't have the numbers for Netherlands or Poland. Today a smaller front is expected to hit the Black Forest area, but I don't have any damage reports yet.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

What Norwegian...

What Norwegian, in his right mind, would want to emigrate from a country with universal health care and free education to the sh*thole that is Trumpistan, which does not even take care of its own people (e.g. Puerto Rico and/or Flint's water supplies) ?

Comments (3)
John (UK) took my rhetorical question literally and replied succinctly "Breivik". There is that one Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, alias Fjotolf Hansen, who was declared by the Oslo District Court to be sane (=in his right mind) and thus John's answer is correct. Mind you, Breivik also was diagnosed as having narcissistic personality disorder and given 21 years of preventative detention, an example which the USA could follow (see also 25th Amendment) ;-)
Yellowdoggrannie blogged this comparison N vs. USA on her site.
Anon (USA) complains "Trump doesn't even know our national anthem!" It's hard (the Anna-crayon-tick song) ; when I lived in the USA I learned enough of it to be able to sing along some at a ball game. As a Brit I can certainly remember the chorus of John Bull's hit God save the Queen. When I lived in Switzerland, I'd get the lyrics mixed up because their anthem at the time used the music from God save the Queen too. As a recently naturalised German I can just about sing the 3rd verse of the German national anthem (that's the verse that gets sung in public). The only one I know off by heart is Scotland's Flower of Scotland :-) That said, I do believe that a head of state should have learnt his OWN national anthem thoroughly!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The German Police Museum in Salzkotten

My new year's resolution include the intent to visit all the local museums I've missed so far. This included the police museum in the nearby small town Salzkotten. A group of retired ex-policemen bought the old railway station building and have made a collection of old police equipment there. Last sunday I popped along to take a look.

The oldest exhibit is these three Pickelhauben (=spiked helmets) in a glass case (which made for the lousy reflection). The Pickelhaube was originally designed for the prussian infantry in 1842 by King Frederick William IV of Prussia. English policemen's helmets still bear a decorative symbolic spike even today. 19th century german police wore it too; what is the spike for? To act as a lightning rod? or to be used to headbutt criminals? The curator disliked my sarcasm.

Next up was a set of police manuals and documents dating back to the Hitler era (the two top manuals on the outsides). Center top is a history of the police forces during the post WW2 British Zone occupation. The bottom row contains instructional manuals teaching the policemen how to trace evidence, criminal law etc etc. No politically correct books on manners or civil rights back then ;-)

Another display box showed the ranking insignia worn on uniform lapels. Presumably this is for recognition of rank between policemen; I doubt whether criminals really recognised or even cared about who was arresting them ;-)

Moving forward into the fifties/sixties, a police office scene showed inter alia the police-internal telex device, 5-hole paper tape code-reading tables included. The photo on the right shows the police-phone column placed on street corners, railway stations etc. The Brits had Tardis-like enclosed police boxes, we had these greenish columns. There's a lamp on the top which flashes when there is an incoming phone call. For outgoing emergency calls there is a lever-activated microphone/speaker unit on the front. All this before there were mobile phones of course. The wooden ledge around the column was meant to be used as a desktop by policemen to take notes in their notebooks, but soon was used by local drinkers to rest their glasses & bottles, I was told ;-)

Motorisation included this fifties BMW Isetta, probably incapable of catching anything! Surprisingly, the bicycles were not painted the standard police green.

Other motorisation shown included an MZ 2-stroke motorcycle as used by the East German police, not just behind the Iron Curtain but also along the transit motorways to Berlin from 1960s onward. You had to watch out for these when driving to West Berlin through the GDR.

After the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunited, a special government effort was made to boost the economy in eastern Germany and so police forces were made to buy these MZ 4-stroke motorcycles instead of their usual BMW bikes. Mind you, the socalled MZ had a japanese engine, the 660cc Yamaha. Not the fastest bit of kit, the single-disc font brake was less than adequate too ;-)

By far the most interesting (to me) bit of more modern kit in this terrorist age was this remote-controlled robot for inspecting suspect packages, parcels, luggage etc. (see left photo). There is a TV-camera at the top, with a strong light on top for night-time use. There is an arm with a 2-finger grip for taking hold of and carrying the suspect device for removal to somewhere safer, shown here as a wooden briefcase. Surprisingly for me, there was no blast-deflector shield to save the robot from some of any bomb-blast induced damage. The photo on the right shows the operator's trolley : two joysticks, eight unlabelled red buttons, ten numbered switches and a kill-button lower left. The straps let the operator detach the panel from the trolley and carry it (the panel) around on his chest. Sadly, I was not allowed to play with it :-(

A pleasant surprise : I met my old friend Ferdi (79) there whom I hadn't seen for 15+ years, so we retired to the bar to play catch-up :-)

Comments (3)
Cop Car wrote " If you really wonder about the spike atop the Pickelhaube : According to Wikipedia: "The early Russian type (known as "The Helmet of Yaroslav Mudry") was also used by cavalry, which had used the spike as a holder for a horsehair plume in full dress, a practice also followed with some Prussian models (see below)." . If you knew that and were just being cheeky, you may safely ignore this email." From which I deduce the horsehair plume may have been dyed a specific colour, so that in a melee the cavalry riders might distinguish friend from foe ???
Cop Car disagrees " I'm not an expert, but I assume that the plumes were used only for dress-up affairs such as riding in review. As a majorette (1949-1953) I wore plumes on my shako that matched the preferred color of the school with whose band I was marching. Our plumes, however, were of feathers rather than of horsehair." Could be.
Henri (F) asks "No uniforms?" I didn't photograph them, but there were lots of uniforms, even a Gestapo uniform. Gestapo is an abbreviation of GEheime STAats POlizei, secret state police. But how could they stay secret if they wore a uniform ? ;-)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Size Matters?

Blogreader Ed, a man who hails from Texas, picked up on Cop Car's comment ". . . European smart alecks" and sent me this map "... reminding you how tiny and insignificant y'all countries are in Yurp".

So, being "sometimes an arrogant asshole" (in his opinion), I just sent him this pic, quoting his own president, by way of reply ;-)

So does size really matter?

Comments (8)
Piet (NL) counters "Impressive map, Ed, but Texas is quite empty, only 40 people/ My own country (Netherlands) has 10 times that (~400 ppl/" The places with the highest population densities are the little tax havens : Monaco, Gibraltar, Malta, Guernsey, Jersey, even the Vatican are all denser than Holland. Not sure if the population density of Vatican City really requires double-bunking ;-)
Petra (A) clarifies "Actually, Stu, Trump doesn't have a red button. He and Pence each have an aide carrying a briefcase called the nuclear football. The button is fake news." Yes, Hollywood imagery to imply short response time?. Retaliation before the first strike hits as in the movie The Day After?
Cop Car wrote " I surely hope that Stu and his blog friends realize that for me to call ANYONE a "smart Aleck" is for the pot to be calling the kettle black. Having been born to a family of kidders, I only hope that I don't cross the line from kidding to being disrespectful. Dad will rise up from the grave to smack me should I do that. Pax" Accepted.
Doug (Canada) wrote in reply to Petra debunking the red-button myth "Damn because I thought this was for sure real :) " Heh heh ;-)
Cop Car also sent an empty mail, just with the header " And Texas isn't even the largest state in the USA" But since the body of the mail was empty, ah thort "Ah'll ask her" ;-)
Cop Car replied " Egad! Stu with a Texas drawl. What is the world coming to? The subject said it all, but thanks for checking ;) Alaska is, if I recall (too lazy to Google), about three times the size of Texas. Of course, if we wish to consider population, California comes out the winner. Population density? California isn't even close since it is our third largest state. We all get silly when it comes to "Mine's bigger than yours"! I truly believe that we are all in this world, together! " California densest? No, D.C. is denser (4100/, California just has 95/ Alaska has 0.5/
Cop Car then replied " I'm laughing, Stu, because I think that syntax got to us. In fact, I meant my words, "Population density? California isn't even close since it is our third largest state. To mean just what you wrote - that California isn't even in the running for most densely populated state, because it is such a large state. Thanks for making it clear to all."
Carol (UK) notes "Recommended reading about population density : Stand on Zanzibar. Good book." Yes, I read it about 50 years ago, when it first came out. Good book indeed :-)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Poles Apart

This discussion started when I showed some non-pilot friends a fictional instrument approach plate for Santa Claus' airstrip at the North Pole which Earth-Bound Misfit posted on her blog. An astute retired geography teacher expressed doubt, explaining that although the South Pole is on land, the North Pole is on sea ice and thus Santa's airstrip would drift around with the sea-ice and so move away from the North Pole, requiring the airstrip and associated locator beacon (NDB) to be repositioned on a regular basis.

Another lady asked "True north or magnetic north? And how far apart are they? Hence this blogpost by way of illustration. The magnetic north pole moves around quite quickly. The map below shows (as little yellow squares) the measured position of the magnetic north pole over the last century. The landmass at the centre of the bottom of the (90° rotated) map is the coast of Greenland and the landmass taking up all the left side of the map is northern Canada. The green dot centre right indicates the True north pole; the faint grey lines are true meridians. The red line shows the position of the magnetic north pole during the 19th century (using a simulation), the purple line during the 18th century and the blue line during the 17th century. The position of the magnetic north pole depends on the position of the iron core within the Earth's mantle. Currently the magnetic pole is at about 87°N true, so the two poles are about 3° apart.

Not only that, I added, but the True north pole moves around too. The Earth nutates (= the axis wobbles) due to the influence of the moon and planets. The major spectral component of this nutation has a period of 18.6 years, the same as the precession of the moon's orbit. There is a highway in Mexico which documents how the Tropic of Cancer moves with this nutation see here. The nutation is small however, compared with the movement of the Magnetic pole. The largest movement of the fictitious airstrip is due to the drifting of the sea-ice though.

Global warming may soon cause the sea ice at the North pole to melt, so the airstrip will disappear and Santa may drown during his subsequent ditching.

There are neat features on the approach plate too; BOTH runway directions are labelled 36, implying a 360° track and the final approach course is 360° wherever you are coming from, so that statement is practically useless ;-)

Comments (4)
John (UK) asks "And how far north have you been yourself?" Well, I've been passenger on an airliner over a polar route, but that doesn't really count; and anyway, I didn't have a GPS with me :-( On my own two feet I've stood on the North Cape of Norway (that's almost 71° north, like Barrow in Alaska). SWMBO however, has been on an expeditionary ship around Svalbard (Spitzbergen), that's like 80½° north, like Ellesmere Island in Canada. They were counting polar bears and other fauna.
Cop Car wrote " When I was in the US Navy, I heard rumors of a phantom aircraft carrier, one that received no official recognition. My understanding is that it was actually Santa's home base. His workshop and home are there and the runway may be aligned to Santa's needs. Everyone knows that NASA tracks Santa's flight; but, few know of Santa's carrier. Obviously, there is much coordination between NASA and the Navy. (I'm still confused as to who actually runs the carrier: USNavy? NATO? UN? RussianNavy?) P.S. Oops! There I go spilling classified information again." I think you parsed "Phantom aircraft carrier" wrongly; they were referring to the F-4 ; also your claim is incredible : especially the bit about cooperation between the US Navy and anybody else ;-)
Cop Car objected to my sarcastic reply and wrote " Stu, I will smack you down! We US Naval types were always VERY cooperative (please understand that I was merely a reservist - an aircraft tin-bender mechanic). We not only cooperate with other uniformed services but we make it easier for the whole world to cooperate by maintaining the strontium clock at the US Naval Observatory. *wandering off grumbling about those European smart alecks*" That clock? No wonder I got tick-tocked off ;-)
David (NY,NY) tells me "There is a 'North Pole' in NY state too!" Yes, and in Alaska also. Trump's USA is bipolar [eg: "My nuke button is bigger than your nuke button" ] :-(

Recent Writings
Burns Supper Flop
Folkstone's Funicular
Hurricane Frederika
What Norwegian...
Police Museum
Size Matters?
Poles Apart
(Non-)Xmas Dinner
Mele Kalikimaka
Saving Charlie Brown
Challenging Patchwork
Bitcoin Bubble
Bill Bailey videos
Letter to Elon Musk
The wind cries Mary
Russian Sculptors fail
Dances with wolves
Says our TV !
Coach and Horses
Visa-free travel
Globetrotter Glamping
Burning Boat
Gone Fishing
The candy maker
Sex on the beach
World's biggest butterfly
Dine at a King's table

Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Mostly Cajun
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
Rants from t'Rookery
Yellowdog Grannie

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Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
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