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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 after the death of his old dog, Kosmo, he also has a new bulldog puppy, Clara, since September 2018 :-)

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

LP of the week
LP of the week, 9/19, Dauner & Mangelsdorff.
Monday, July 29, 2019

Signed books

Several of the books in my collection are signed. When I meet the authors, I'll take along one of their books, or buy one there at a new book signing, to get their book autographed. For example, I have Henry Kissinger's Memoirs autographed by him,a couple of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels etc.

Since I am a cryptography geek, I collect such books too, for example David Kahn's mighty tome "The Codebreakers", also signed by him. Even a tape from an M-209 autographed by Boris Hagelin.

But nowadays all the old Bletchley Park cryptanalysts are dead, so no chance there. Or is there?

When I heard that Alan Turing's nephew the historian Sir John Dermot Turing would be lecturing at the HNF here on 25th June on the pre-BP (pre WW2) decoding of the Enigma, I went along to listen. And being an opportunist, I took along my copy of Hugh Skillen's 1992 book "Enigma and its Achilles Heel", since that is what the lecture would be about. Hugh Skillen is long dead, as is Alan Turing, so no hope of getting their autographs. But at least I got it signed by Alan Turings nephew Sir John Dermot Turing : good enough for me, and probably making it unique :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2019

Record heat here :-(

This week has been very hot here in Germany. Even in the shade in our garden the temperature peaked at 38° C yesterday and only dropped to 27°C at night. Thankfully hefty thunderstorms are expected at the weekend with the temperature dropping to 22°C. Our neighbor, the farmer, has therefore been harvesting his wheat fields at night when the temperatures have been more tolerable - before the thunderstorms arrive.

But the new record heat was in Lingen, where the wife's cousins have their farms, which reached 42.6°C (=108°F) yesterday!!!

Note that even 38° C is above blood temperature. We've been sleeping in the cellar as it is cooler there. And I've even volunteered to do the shopping since the car has air-conditioning and the supermarket is climatised. This is a better idea than some stupid women in the UK have tried :-(

Monday, July 22, 2019

Hold the front page!

This was the front page of the most-read national tabloid newspaper (Bild) in Germany after the moon landing of Apollo 11 way back in 1969, half a century ago :-)

Some documents are worth keeping!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

First words from the Moon

July 20th is when the USA celebrates putting two men (Armstrong und Aldrin) on the moon. Talking about this in the pub, the question came up : what were the first words from the moon? The first guess was Armstrong saying "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Static masked the [a]. In the pub, that was immediately countered with Armstrong previously saying "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

But I know differently.

Actually, the VERY first words said upon landing on the moon were by Buzz Aldrin :- "Contact light! Okay, engine stop. ACA - out of detent." Armstrong acknowledged "Out of detent" and Aldrin continued, "Mode control - both auto. Descent engine command override off. Engine arm - off. 413 is in." Then and only then, did Armstrong say "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed!" Myth busted ;-)

In the intervening 50 years there have been a whole bunch of Moon landing conspiracy theories, claiming that the whole thing was a hoax. Indeed, thursday's TV in Germany repeated a french mockumentary Dark side of the moon claiming fake news in 1969. First thing they got wrong : the moon does not have a dark side since it is tidally phase-locked to the Earth, not the Sun!

There is an excellent rebuttal of the hoax theories by long-time video and movie expert S G Collins (no relation to Michael Collins), who explains that our 1969 video technology was not up to producing a hoax video. Go watch it, if only to help stamp out the hoax conspiracy. Ignore the ads.

Germany celebrates the moon landing as being on 21st July at 03:56 Central European time since our time zone is ahead of the USA. Just as well, because the 20th is reserved in memory of Claus von Stauffenberg who was was one of the leading members of the failed 20 July plot of 1944 to assassinate Adolf Hitler and remove the Nazi Party from power.

BTW, that famous photo of a bootprint in the regolith dust of the moon shows Buzz Aldrin's bootprint, NOT Armstrong's, since Armstrong was the one doing most of the photography. Apropos regolith : moon dust is very jagged and sharp, a major problem for longer term moon inhabitants on future trips there; they may all die of Pneumoconiosis (=miner's lung).

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

In praise of Andre´ Wiersig, extreme swimmer.

When I was in my twenties, I thought of myself as a fair freewater swimmer. I'd swum from Reichenau (where I lived at the time, in Germany) to Ermatingen in Switzerland except that the Swiss border police had seen me coming and wouldn't let me on land as I obviously didn't have any documents with me; so I had to swim back again, a total of maybe 2 kms. Later I swam from Meersburg to Konstanz, 4 kms across the Bodensee (Lake Constance), so I could swim a fair distance, or so I thought :-)

But this was nothing compared to local man Andre´ Wiersig (47) - he lives in Paderborn, about 16 kms north of me - who has swum all seven ocean straits!

In 2014 he swam the English Channel, 34 kms in 9 hrs 40 mins.

In 2014 he also swam the Molokai channel between Hawaiian islands, 44 kms in 16:26.

In 2016, he swam from Ireland to Scotland, that's 34 kms, in 12:17.

In 2017, the straits at Santa Catalina, USA, 34 kms in 9:48.

In 2018, the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, 20 kms in 12:44

In 2019, he swam the Cook Strait in New Zealand, 26 kms in 8:02.

In 2019 again, he wrapped up with the Straits of Gibralter, 14 kms in 4:14.

He says that the major problem is the cold; less so sharks, stinging jellyfish and all the trash humans have put in the seas. But just look at those distances, five times anything I ever swam. So I have the greatest respect for Andre´s achievement : the first German to do the Oceans Seven challenge ! One of only 16 people. Here is his web page (in German), with Vlogs.

Comments (1)
Petra (A) asks "World champion Florian Wellbrock just swam 10 km in 1:47:55,9. And you?" I was never a fast swimmer. And my longest open water swim was only about 5 miles (8 kms), which took me almost 4 hours, so I'm not competitive and never was :-(

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Day of the Dinosaurs

On our way back from the coast, we made a lunchtime stop at the Dino-Park. This was a place where dinosaur footprints up a vertical cliff showed where the surface had tipped by 90° over a few hundred million years and many fossils had been found. It has now been commercialised and turned into an educational facility for kids (mainly 4-14) obsessed by dinosaurs. The tour took 2 hours and I took 40+ photos.

You are greeted by the gate guardian, a Tyrannosaurus Rex to impress the visitors. All of these fiberglass models are in scale 1:1 and coloured how the experts believe they looked, mostly a brownish grey mix, occasionally a bit of green. Scarily big though!

The recommended path takes you through the various aeons, starting with teethed fish emerging from the seas and progressing through the cretaceous , jurassic etc. Each of the realistic models has a small plate on the ground near it, giving the latin name of the creature. So, scientifically, anatomically and temporally correct :-)

And they can get really huge! This photo shows Clara and I UNDER the belly of a Brontosaurus. Those feet were bigger than our bulldog & the lower legs taller than me!

Really scary were the jaws of this dinosaur; it could have chomped me in half!

I once visited a similar dino-park in Colorado, USA, where I was able to buy this sheet of US postage stamps. The upper row shows Colorado 150 million years ago and the lower row shows Montana 75 million years ago. The stamps are labelled as worth 32c, so it must have been a while ago (1995?) ;-)

Comments (3)
Petra (A) reminds us that Greg Laden did a review of Prothero's new book on dinosaurs in May.
Cop Car wrote " Glad you had such a good day with your ancient friends, Stu. We have a similarly-themed if less elaborate park in our small city of about 24,000 inhabitants. Our setting, however, is not rooted in an area of trace findings of dinosaurs ( Several weeks ago, we had 70-90mph winds that knocked over one of the large critters which was then re-oriented to lessen the likelihood of a recurrence. As to postage rates: Our US standard domestic letter postal rate for the first ounce did not vary from 3 cents in 1932 until August 1, 1958; but, over the years the rate crept up and for the past four years the rate has risen, annually. The rate it is now 55 cents for the first ounce. There are many different rates invoked for special services (return receipt, special delivery, etc.) and/or foreign delivery. Philatelists who buy sheets of stamps subsidize our actual postal rates, of course. I recall using the dinosaur stamps in the late 1990s, but don't recall whether I bought sheets of them, myself. We gifted HH's and my stamp collections to our son-in-law a few years ago." That sheet of US dinosaur stamps still hangs framed in our kitchen :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "How did your dog react to the Dinos?" Not at all; they were just inanimate lumps of painted fiberglas with no scent. Unlike some toddlers' reactions - one lanky grandad stood in front of that gate guardian with his head between the foreclaws. His grandkids screamed blue murder while their short, pot-bellied, mom took a photo (I was too slow to take one too).

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Stade : a town of the old Hanse

While we were visiting the Elbe estuary we stayed at Stade which is an old redbricked town which has been a member of the Hanseatic trading league since the 14th century. The Hanse trading lines stretched from Nowgorod in Russia in the east all along the Baltic coast and down the North Sea coasts to London in the west. Stade was one of the smaller ports on the Elbe estuary but its redbrick centre has been well preserved, including the original docks. Beautiful!

One evening we made a point of dining in the original 14th century Guildhall, now a Guide Michelin restaurant. Excellent. BTW, Hanse means a convoy. The merchant ships sailed in convoys along the coastal routes as a protection against terrible pirates such as the infamous Klaus Störtebeker who was caught and beheaded in 1401.

While in the area, we also visited the Alte Land area, Europe's biggest fruit growing area - 40% of Europe's fruit is grown there - and bought apples and cherries direct from the old fruit farmers. I hadn't know that there were so many old varieties.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Sickeningly embarrassing

For the first - and hopefully the last - time in my life, I attended a burial at sea last thursday. And was embarrassingly sea-sick as all hell. Me and 99 others. Only my wife SWMBO and our dog saved our family honour. I was still sea-sick when back on land, as the photo shows :-(

Apart from the obligatory four filial duty burials of my and SWMBO's parents, I've only been to few burials, because most of my friends are younger than I am. All land funerals, differing only in the rituals. Closed coffin church funerals, or cremation and an urn or coffin in a graveyard being the usual one. Sometimes an urn in the forest.

Ashes scattered on Mt.Snaefell (IOM) at the wish of an old UK biker friend who died of old age; from the peak of Snaefell you can see the kingdoms of Man, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, and Heaven, they do say; but the Mountain was enveloped in cloud that day and the mist dampened our spirits.

At the burial of an old WW2 fighter pilot who died of old age, a Piper Cub, flying exceedingly low, dropped a well-aimed wreath in the grave as a sign of respect.

Friend Fritz died of old age too; he was a member of our village's Catholic militia and a popular man. 2/3 of the village turned out at the church (where he lay in an open coffin resplendent in his uniform) then we marched - led by the militia - silently 1/2 mile to the graveyard to bury him in silence. The village graveyard was relocated 40 feet higher up the hillside after the floods of the 1960s.

So a burial at sea was new to me. It was held in the North Sea just outside the estuary of the Elbe river off Cuxhaven. They have 14 foot tides there and the water rushes in and out of the estuary at 6-9 knots. The gruff captain positioned the boat stationary with respect to landmarks (e.g. lighthouses), engine running against the tide. Davy Jones bell rang thrice. The captain made a short speech (no priest present) while half of us barfed over the railings as the sea was plenty rough that day. A shanty was sung, the ashes thrown overboard in a (presumably soluble) urn as were several flowery wreaths. Then the ship's bell was rung again and the short ceremony was over. No photo out of respect for the deceased. Meanwhile, the involuntary feeding of the fishes by us landlubbers continued until we got back on dry land, where we staggered about as if drunk and finished topping up our paper bags. All very embarrassing!

On a more positive note, we did get to see the seals on their sand banks, reinforcing the selkie myth :-) July/August are the seals' birthing months. These births take place on sandbanks far offshore since baby seals cannot swim and so have to be taught how to do so by maternal aunts mostly. Here is one of SWMBO's photos from 200 yards away; I was still barfing over the railing :-(

But rest assured, the rest of the week's trip was far more pleasurable.
Trip reports to follow once I get the photos all filed and collated.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

An amusing Maths book : Humble Pi

Matt Parker started his career as a maths teacher in Australia and is now a Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. He also makes popular YouTube videos on subjects mathematical etc.

Now he has written an amusing Maths book titled Humble Pi, ISBN 978-0-24136019-4, a light comedy of Maths (and Engineering) errors.

Just to challenge existing conventions, the pages are numbered in descending order (see table of contents), the acknowledgements are on page zero and the index has been arbitrarily assigned page number 4,294,697,293 ;-)

He kicks off with the overflow problems caused by storing (clock-) counters in computers as short integers, then covers the area of errors in calenders (iOS devices really screw up displaying 1847 for example).

Resonating bridges, spreadsheet errors, rounding errors, arithmetically incompetent politicians (no surprise to me), erroneous TV games (e.g. Monty Hall problem), and catching tax cheats are covered in the subsequent chapters. All in all, a very enjoyable read; well written Matt! :-)

Comments (1)
Cop Car wrote " Thanks for the posting, Stu. Unfortunately, I see that our local library has no books by Matt Parker. *sob* Three options: 1) request library buy book, 2) request library poll other libraries for a loaner, or 3) buy the book. (Note that not reading the book is not an option.)" Option 4 : I send you my copy, not to be returned, as I've read it now.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Miniature buildings park @ MiniWelt

Turning off the Autobahn A4 for the Sachsenring GP race track will alternatively lead you south to the MiniWelt park, where there are many world-famous buildings shown at a scale of 1:25.

Greek temples, a pyramid, mosques, but also many German buildings; all for locals who cannot afford to travel the world to see the originals in scale 1:1. Afaik, construction was done on taxpayers' money as a job-giving and re-training measure during the post-unification phase of former East Germany.

The photo above shows the Einstein memorial observatory tower in Potsdam (near Berlin) and the Sydney Opera House in the background.

This is the town hall in Werningerode up in Germany's Harz mountains.

There's a garbage incinerator building in Austria designed by Hundertwasser.

Most of you will doubtless recognise the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

Most of you will also recognise the statue of Christ which is on a hill at Rio.

I've never seen some originals, such as the Torre de Belem in Portugal.

Nor did I recognise Marrakesch town gate, despite having walked through it.

The website of MiniWelt is linked here; it is in German though. The park is located at the village of Lichtenstein, NOT to be confused with the country of the same name (also on scale 1:25 as countries go? Heh heh. ;-)

Recent Writings
Signed books
Record heat here :-(
Hold the front page!
First words from Moon
About Andre´ Wiersig
Day of the Dinosaurs
Stade, a Hanse town
Sickeningly embarrassing
Humble Pi
MiniWelt park
Klausenhof : a 1487 pub
Leaning more than Pisa
Richard's TR6 Oldtimer
Lockpicking 101
Home-drawn T-shirt
Labyrinthine cylinder
Happy Birthday
Chinese SciFi
The measure of all things
Eurolection results
Rain, rain, go away!
Voynich Manuscript
CO2 emissions
That New Baby Smell
Boker Oldtimer meeting
Chewbacca is dead :-(

Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Greg Laden
Mostly Cajun
Observing Hermann
Starts with a Bang
Yellowdog Grannie

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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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