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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 bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pekelne´ Doly

The 3rd day (a monday) of our motorcycle trip was planned to take us to Olomouc in the Czech Republic. I'd intended to make a short stop at the small motorcycle museum in Groβschönau, but Olaf told me sunday evening that it's only open at weekends, so we skipped it. Leaving Germany, we crossed the Czech border which is an open, green, Schengen-type border. The photo shows no guard posts, just an EU sign and the inevitable sign explaining what the speed limits in that country are. This was the only time we changed currency too, the Czechs do not (yet) have the Euro.

Our first stop was at Pekelne´ Doly. This is a disused mine, now owned by a motorcycle club. The horizontal shafts go a hundred yards or so into the mountain. The unique "attraction" is that you can ride your bike INTO the mountain where there is a "clubhouse" and a bar etc. Some dead-ends too and since satnavs do not work underground and there being no maps, tunnels are blocked off after 150 yards or so to stop eejits getting lost :-)

However, it turned out that mondays are the only days the cave is closed, so you'll have to watch this short video on YouTube to get an impression of the inside of the club cave, comfortable sofas and all :-) The fauna of the club cave got me wondering "What is it like to be a bat?" (see next post) ;-)

So, the cave being closed mondays, instead we payed a short visit to the nearby "culture park" with its display of tree-trunk carvings.

Then we proceeded to our next stop : The Sedlec Ossuary (the church of bones) at Kutna Hora (see post next month).

To be continued . . .

Monday, September 28, 2015

Supermoon lunar eclipse

Otherwise known as a (rare) blood moon.

I'm told that the viewing in Wolfsburg was less than ideal ;-)

Comments (1)
Ed (USA) wrote "Nice photo, you must have a good camera!" It was too dark for the camera alone, but I have a small tabletop Newtonian reflector telescope that can be used as a light amplifier. The camera alone needs more light, such as the full moon before the eclipse provides (handheld shot, 30* zoom, the optical stabiliser did the rest :-) ).

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stanislav Petrov, world hero!

We interrupt these motorcycle trip reports to remind you to say a big THANKYOU to Stanislav Petrov, the man who saved the world on this very day, September 26th, back in 1983 :-)

Back in 1983, deteriorating relations between the United States and the Soviet Union (due in part to the anticipated arrival of Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe), together with Reagan's aggressive brinkmanship led some members of the Soviet Politburo and military to believe Reagan was making preparations for a thermonuclear first strike. So much so that front-line Soviet forces in East Germany had MIG bombers carrying a thermonuclear payload sitting on the runways, engines running, just minutes away from Hamburg etc at Mach 2 :-(

In this tensioned atmosphere Lt.Col. Stanislav Petrov was in charge of the Soviet Air Defense's Missile Defense Unit's long-range radar stations. His radar system's computer reported one, three, later five missile launches by the US. Soviet expectations were that a U.S. first strike would be all-out, so five missiles seemed an illogical start. But Petrov knew that the launch detection system was new and, in his view, not yet wholly trustworthy; and that ground radar had failed to pick up corroborative evidence. He therefore did NOTHING, not reporting the alleged starts to his superior (General Yury Votintsev) for fear of provoking an immediate retaliation - all-out thermonuclear war - for which he was later reprimanded for not entering the incident into the war-diary! :-(

So here, 32 years later, another Thankyou to Stanislav Petrov, world hero!

Motorcycle trip reports to be continued next week . . .

Comments (1)
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote " re: almost nuking the world: Those Republicans are and were all nuts, and we are lucky they did not blow up everything (at least so far)." I'm dreading the US is daft enough to elect a President Trump! :-(

Thirsty (sic!), September 24, 2015

Zittau : our motorcycle adventure continues...

Second day, final stop was at Olaf Riedel's biker hotel in Zittau.

Our great scottish bard Robbie Burns once wrote "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley," (Ode to a Mouse, 1785) and our plans for Zittau fell apart due to the suffusive hospitality of the biker hotel :-)

We had planned to ride to the hotel, drop off our luggage, then ride into Zittau to see e.g. the old market square and the famous flower clock and hear its Glockenspiel play. Then we'd planned to take Germany's oldest narrow gauge steam railway into the Zittau mountains to see e.g. the Nun's Rock near Jonsdorf.

However, when we arrived to drop off our luggage, sweating from the 39°C temperature, a sympathetic waiter rushed out with a couple of pitchers of ice-cold beer, declaiming "Come in, have a beer, you must be exhausted in this heat" and we were, so we did :-) After a couple of pints or three we were in no legal state to drive, so we locked our bikes in the barn around the back and went for a cold shower before dinner :-)

Even if you didn't know that Olaf Riedel's hotel was a biker hotel, you might have taken a clue from the decoration in the dining room and the hallway, old Jawa bikes from the 1950s, immaculately restored by him :-

But I'm still trying to work out what this gear assembly is, as given by friends to Olaf for his 60th birthday...

To be continued . . .

Comments (3)
Pergelator (USA) wrote "About Olaf's gear assembly : Very curious. Some parts are identifiable, like the helical gears (3) and the tapered roller bearing. The conglomeration in the center could be some kind of differential, but the picture isn't clear enough. I don't suppose you have a high-rez version?" Hi Charles, I've mailed you a hi-res photo, but personally, I think it is just some fantasy thing they strung together for Olaf.
Pergelator (USA) replied "Thanks for image. I think you are right about its origins."
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote " So there is a whole motorcycle thing in Germany that features hostels and beer! I certainly like the beer part. As to motorcycles, we gave up on motorcycling when we lived in Wisconsin (awful winters) and never took it up again. I do have fond memories of those biking days in California, although I was always the one hanging on in the back, not having the strength or coordination to be an actual biker. " I still really enjoy motorcycling, as you may gather from my blogposts. But I plan 2 or 3 intermediate stops per day, nowadays :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

VW Diesel emission satire

Was this photo taken while following a US EPA-certified VW Diesel van ? ;-)

Alternatively, might it be an impression of the total eclipse of the moon, due at the weekend in Yurp ? ;-)


Comments (2)
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote "Coff, coff! Hi, Stu. The New York Times has several articles about the VW scandal. Of course we are surprised, because as everyone knows Germans never do dishonest things like this!" Corporations are only concerned with (short term) profits, not with benefits to humanity. Doesn't matter what nationality they are. Exxon Valdez, Mexican Gulf oil spill, Microsoft's NSA back door, Fukushima,... you name it :-(
Ed (USA) wrote "....or a picture of Shkreli's soul?" Quite likely!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Seiffen wooden-toy museum

2nd day, 3rd stop was at the wooden-toy museum in Seiffen, for a couple of reasons. Frank's wife collects the little wooden painted angel figures so he bought this year's two new models as a present to take home. My reason was that I wanted a better understanding of the production technology, unchanged for 250 years. But the first view we got inside the museum was of some of their larger (and hence for us unaffordable) toys. On the left a child-sized painted carving of a soldier from one of the Erzgebirge mining regiments. Centre, one of the vertical-axis fan-style replacements for a Xmas tree, and on the right an ornate wooden chandelier.

Downstairs there were exhibits explaining the old production technology. A water mill (from about 1760?) drives lathes via a system of pulleys and open leather belts strung across the room. No "Health and industrial safety" issues back then ;-) The operator uses a (large) selection of rasps and files to turn the wood on the lathe (a slice from a tree trunk) as shown in my photo on the left. In my photo on the right you can see the carefully shaped rings whose profiles are turned using a selection of metal profiles. Segments cut from these rings have the shapes shown below the rings. Up to 20 different segments are then glued together and sanded to make the small figures shown at the bottom of the display case. These are then hand-painted for sale. 250 year old mass production technology still in use today :-)

In the photo on the left below you can see one of the Erzgebirge Xmas trees. There is a fan at the top on a vertical shaft. At each of the five or six levels on the tree there is an octagonal frame bearing a candle in each corner. The rising thermals from these candles turn the fan at the top whose vertical shaft turns a level platform at each of the 5 or 6 levels. On each platform many of the little figures (produce by the method described above) thus rotate merrily. This "tree" was two stories high, our Xmas "tree" at home made here is only about 2 feet high (and thus was affordable).

The photo on the right shows a stained glass window in the museum's hallway, which shows many of the toys made here. I thought was very expressive :-)

To be continued . . .

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Adam Ries Museum

The second day of our motorcycle trip took us ENE through the Erzgebirge. Our second stop was at the Adam Ries Museum. It is in the house in Johannisgasse (a steep, cobbled, side street) in Annaberg where he spent the last half of his life.

Adam Ries (b. 1492 d. March 30, 1559) was a German mathematician, famous for teaching people how to do arithmetic (which was done in Roman numerals back then). I own a beautiful German facsimile copy of his 1522 primer "Calculating on lines and writing (intermediate results)." The only image we have of him is this woodcut of him at age 58, we know little of him.

Disappointingly, the museum does not let you take photos of his books and methodology explanations inside. So I've reconstructed some examples from memory. Excuse my rough hand sketches.

Ries used an abacus-like board with at least four horizontal lines, labelled (bottom to top) I,X,C and M, the roman numerals for 1,10,100 and 1000 respectively. The wide spaces between the lines are labelled (bottom to top) V,L,D the roman numerals for 5, 50 and 500 respectively. (see left sketch).

My example of Ries addition method is shown in the sketch above on the right, where I add XXVIII(=28) to XXVIIII(=29). Ries placed 2 coins on the X line, one in the V space and three on the I line, totalling XXVIII(=28). Next to this he placed 2 coins on the X line, one in the V space and four on the I line, totalling XXVIIII(=29). Seeing he had 7 coins on the I line, he removed 5 of them, replacing them by putting an additional coin in the V space. This is shown in the second column. Seeing he had 3 coins in the V space, he removed 2 of them, replacing them by putting an additional coin on the X line. This is shown in the third column. Seeing he now had 5 coins on the X line, he removed all 5 of them, replacing them by putting an additional coin in the L space. This is shown in the fourth column. He can now read off the final result = LVII = 57. He claimed this abacus method to be so simple that even children could do it after some training. It IS simple as you can see :-)

Multiplication is slightly more difficult with additional rules to learn. Here is my example, doing 23*17=391 or XXIII times XVII = CCCLXXXXI.

Column 1 shows the coins representing XXIII, column 2 shows XVII. Since there are two coins one line up in column one, he copies column two twice putting the result one line higher, so 20*17 = 340 =CCCXXXX, as regrouped in column four; he writes this intermediate result down for later use. Clearing the results side of the board, he copies column two(=17) three (the 3 of 23) times, getting column B. The intermediate steps to normalise the result (LI) are shown in columns C,D and E. To this he adds his first intermediate result from his written note, getting LI + CCCXXX = CCCLXXXXI = 391, the result.

But this is not the only way Ries worked. In one of his other books he has a credit-card sized multiplication table for roman numerals, as shown below. Read the columns and rows off as e.g. V times L = CCL or L times D = XXV bar, i.e. XXV with a bar across the top, which signifies "times a thousand".

That evening over dinner I showed Frank an example, 23*17=391 again, using this credit-card sized multiplication table. Look at column one.

X times X=C. Another X times X=C again. And three copies of the X from the XVII. Gives CCXXX. Similarly the next three lines give LLVVV and XXIII and XXIII respectively. Grouping all these letters together gives CCLLXXXXXXXXXI and the usual replacement rules give CCCLXXXXI = 391 QED :-)

Which method do you find easier to use?
Yer puts down yer coins and yer takes yer choice ;-)

To be continued . . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The German Spaceflight Exhibition

The second day of our motorcycle trip took us ENE through the Erzgebirge. Our first stop was at the German Spaceflight Exhibition.

Why? You might ask, is the German Spaceflight Exhibition in such an obscure place as Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz? Turns out that this is the birthplace of (East) Germany's first cosmonaut Sigmund Jaehn. He flew a mission to Salyut 6 (a MIR predecessor) in 1978, lasting over a week.

Inside, there is a very impressive bust of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961, beating the Americans into space. The bust is HUGE, three or four feet high. Characteristic Soviet heroic style, of course :-)

There is also the 1:1 simulator of the MIR space-station, as built by the DLR, so that ESA payload specialists could practice doing their experiments without having to travel to Star City. You can go look inside it (see photo below).

This is a snapshot of the inside of the MIR simulator command desk. Compared with the ISS everything seemed to be stashed away in pull-out racks, even the cosmonauts' sleeping bags/restraints. Looking in the other direction (no photo taken), it is slightly smaller internally and houses e.g. the space toilet at which cosmonauts hooked their feet to obtain a backside-seal [otherwise, I couldn't see how it worked :-( ].

Continuing around, there are a number of scale rockets for size comparison, lots of photos and texts, but most impressive (to me) there was an original 1944 engine from Von Braun's V2 missile, rusty but recognisable.

To be continued . . .

Comments (3)
Marion (D) wrote "Nice that you're back. You have brought great photos, looking forward to read more soon..." Safe but sore; I even wore a hole through the seat of my (textile) summer trousers, but POLO won't compensate at all. I bought new trousers to fit the existing attachment zips on the jacket. Coincidentally, their new model trousers are leather-reinforced at the seat! I wonder why they did that? ;-)
Ed (USA) asked "Just cosmonauts? No astronauts?" Both, but even US astronauts are cosmonauts these days, needing a ride in a Russian rocket to get to the ISS ;-)
John (UK) asked "What was the weather like for your trip?" Good. I'd inspected the climate tables at the beginning of the year and chosen the first half of september as the fortnight with the least rain. Bikers want fewer rainy days, not the most sunshine-hours. So on only 3 of our 13 days did it rain, exactly as predicted. Hottest day had 39°C, coldest 5°C at 6 in the morning, mostly warm and dry with occasional showers. Just 1 soaking day.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Weimar, Shoah, etc.

On our first day of our trip - SE to Klingenthal in the Erzgebirge hills - we stopped over at Weimar for an extended lunch break and some cultural edification. First off we did a tour through the house of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany's most accomplished author and all-round multi-talent. He is probably most famous for his melodrama "Faust".

This is Goethe's house, as seen from the gardens. The street side is rather nondescript, so I'm omitting a photo of it.

Inside, it was rather dark, as it would have been in his day (before that electric lighting), which made his black statues rather difficult to photograph.

This is my photo of the holies of holies, where the great man sat and wrote....

Of course we had lunch in "The Swan", Goethe's favourite pub, which is right next door to his house. Absolutely jam-packed with tourists (even Chinese). After desserts, we wandered up the street to see the house of his contemporary, Friedrich Schiller, which has a much nobler frontage. I remember reading his drama Wilhelm Tell over 50 years ago :-) Most recommendable!

The Nazi Concentration Camp memorial is at Buchenwald, just north of Weimar, so we visited it to pay our respects to the Holocaust dead. It is HUGE! Over 19 football fields in size. Most of the barracks have been razed, just their outlines are there. Some of the buildings remain, in particular the crematorium. Roma, Sinti, Freemasons, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Poles, Slavs, gays, cripples, cretins, enemies of the state : the Nazis executed them all. Six ovens, going 24/7 for 365 days/year for years = 56,545 dead :-( The atmosphere is oppressive, everybody quiet, horrified. For reasons of piety, I'm only showing you the wrought-iron gate. My other photos not shown!

New to me was that this was where the Nazis shot Ernst Thälmann, a famous communist, on Hitler's special order. There is a plaque for him there.

Continuing south towards our hotel, we made a photo-stop at the Götschtal bridge which is the world's largest brick bridge. Three spectacular levels!

To be continued . . .

Comments (3)
Doug (Canada) wrote " 56,545 seems like a small number for so many ovens over multiple years. Over the course of a single year that works out to be roughly one per hour per oven.Are you sure that number is right?" It's the number I was told. I assure you, checking the numbers was the thing LEAST occupying my mind in that depressing atmosphere there :-(
David (IL) wrote "Thankyou for going there and for your piety. Happy 5776." Happy New Year to you too :-)
Ed (USA) asks "What does 'Jedem das seine' mean?" To each his own (fate).

Friday, September 11, 2015

On the road again :-)

Motorcycle trip D-CZ-SK-PL-UA-H-A & back :-)

My good friend Frank and I take an annual road trip on our motorcycles. This time we did over 4000 kms over 13 days, to see the High Tatra mountains in Slovakia but visiting 7 countries : Germany, Czeck Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and Austria. We made 2 or 3 stops a day to visit various culturally interesting places : over the next weeks I will be showing you commented photos of some...

Some people think I'm crazy for doing such arduous trips at age 71, but as long as this old body can cope, I shall keep doing these trips, they are so enjoyable. Mind you, the daily tours are now under 400 kms, a decade ago I could manage 1000 kms in a day. Young (43) Frank is a safety measure for me, I wouldn't do the long trips alone any more, especially these where we couldn't speak the language (CZ,SK,UA,PL, H) ;-)

To be continued . . .

Comments (2)
Doug (Canada) wrote " sigh - I know/feel what you mean. At 66 (well next week) I can't imagine doing a long trip, in one day, anymore. Back in the early 80's I thought nothing of driving from Vancouver BC to Denver Colorado non-stop to visit a friend. That's around 2400 km but that was then. Now I quake at the thought of driving from Trail to Vancouver in one day - and that's only about 600 km." Cars are still OK for me long distance, but on the bike those bad Czeck roads really gave my spine a hammering :-(
Carol (UK) wrote "Wow! Reading the news today(14th), you must have got back from your motorcycle trip just in time before everybody (A,H,D etc) closed their borders!" Indeed, by the skin of our teeth. Didn't see that coming! Apart from the EU-external border to the Ukraine (very strict), all other borders we rode across were Schengen-type open borders.

Recent Writings
Pekelne´ Doly
Supermoon lunar eclipse
Stanislav Petrov :-)
VW Diesel emissions
Seiffen wooden-toys
Adam Ries Museum
German Space Exhibition
Weimar, Shoah, etc.
On the road again :-)
Oldtimer Outing
Ashley Madison ;-)
Under the radar :-(
Summer Drought :-(
Angry Birds 2 competition
The Silverplated Bockscar
Enola Gay trivia
An upside-down house
Mayan Numerals
Black holes suck...

Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Hattie (Hawaii)
Making Light
Mostly Cajun
Murr Brewster
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
Rants from t'Rookery
Scary Duck
Spork in the drawer
Squatlo Rant
Yellowdog Grannie

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Archive 2014:
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May Jun Jul Aug
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This blog is getting really unmanagable, so I've taken the first 12 years' archives offline. My blog, my random decision. Tough shit; YOLO.
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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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