Thur. Nov. 21, 2019 – got a few things done, more to do

Warm, damp. Rain on the way? [71F and 96%RH]

It never did rain yesterday but it threatened locally most of the day.

I got another thing ready to list which took way longer than it should have but it’s done and ready. While I was working in that part of the driveway, I finished up the paint on the window AC unit I saved from the trash a month or more ago. In the afternoon I sold an item on ebay. Funny, that I’d done a new listing, then I had a sale… My local auction finished and I’m $335 richer. Not as much as I’d hoped, but that’s a couple of pallets gone. Did some hustling and sold a couple items I picked up locally to locals, mainly one of my neighbors, and my gun store buddy.

I’m feeling very short time. And short money. Feels good to be making progress no matter how small.

So that’s the thought for the day. Incrementalism. Make it work for you.

n

48 thoughts on “Thur. Nov. 21, 2019 – got a few things done, more to do”

  1. Seriously, that rocket looks like it’s balsa wood and tin foil. A staged failure for some reason?

  2. NASA wouldn’t force him to stage a failure to make SLS look like the savior vehicle, would they? Man, I never thought of myself as a tin foil hat guy before…

  3. Every picture of the “rocket” looks like a poorly executed stage set.

    Don’t forget though, there are a LOT of failures on the way to space. Lot of failures after you get there too. Heck, even ordinary aviation has failures, vis. Boeing….

    All part of the process.

    n

    (and IT guy, the more you pay attention, the more you see conspiracies proved out….)

  4. In my armchair view, SpaceX’s rocket in Texas is little more than an iterative design and test platform. It has no reason to be perfect on the outside. The skin is mass, balance, and structure. The internals exist for testing and manufacturing processes improvements. When it flies, it will be anything short of orbital. There is no expense on the parts that don’t matter at the moment.

    I hope the Ghost of Pournelle is at least nodding approval at Musk and SpaceX.

    I think it is interesting that no one much comments on the diversity of Musk’s ventures; Electric vehicles, solar and battery technologies, neural control systems, tunneling, etc. All of these have skills and technologies that can apply to space and off-Earth colonization.

  5. Anyone remember how much grief google and amazon got when they tried to do different things?

    I think that Elon is benefiting from their previous groundbreaking, like a second or third child benefits from the trailblazing of the oldest child…..

    n

  6. Agreed, that is the Mark 1 rocket, mainly used for development. Also, the skin irregularities are a lot more obvious because it is reflective.

    Something failed under high pressure. A shame, but not a huge deal – that’s why you test.

    Nothing to do with SLS, iirc. I think that would be the Falcon Heavy, or whatever it is currently called.


  7. A shame, but not a huge deal – that’s why you test.

    That depends on what they find. The two possibilities that come to mind that are huge deals are:
    – a bad design, which brings all their pressure vessel designs into question
    – bad construction, which brings their workmanship and inspection regime into question

    One rumor is that they accidentally overpressured the tank. That’s the least troublesome, although it says they need better test procedures and test conductors.

  8. Elon Musk == D. D. Harriman. The real question is whether they’ll let him actually go to Mars.

  9. From BH at the Fort Bend Herald:

    “Want to freak out your neighbors ? Name your Wi-Fi “FBI Surveillance Van #7″.”

  10. One rumor is that they accidentally overpressured the tank. That’s the least troublesome, although it says they need better test procedures and test conductors.

    And relief valves. Properly sized relief valves would be a good thing. In fact, they are required by just about every state in the union.


  11. Want to freak out your neighbors ? Name your Wi-Fi “FBI Surveillance Van #7

    I do that on my phone. I name the phone something like “CIA Spynet” then turn on the hotspot. I change it every so often. I have contemplated, but never done, naming the phone “Bomb Link 1” when I am flying on a plane. But I really want to reach my destination.

  12. Got a nasty-gram from the IRS. I paid a young lady a few hundred dollars for house sitting in 2016 and 2017. Seems the IRS thinks that makes me an employer and thus must pay social security taxes for the person. Plus pay what I should have withheld from her pay for SS taxes. I also need to get an employer ID from the IRS for future use.

    Of course there will be interest accrued on that amount. Penalties have not been assessed, yet. Not a huge amount, less than $100.00. But still annoying. I guess she put my name on the income when she filed her taxes. Got to give her credit for reporting income that is basically untraceable for the IRS. But it does put me on the hook for SS money that I must pay.

    IRS must be desperate for money. It cost the IRS more in man-hours than what I will have to pay. (Unless penalties are assessed). Boggles my mind how people can owe millions and pay a tenth of what they owe yet I get stuck for an amount less than $100.00. I guess the big bucks (deductible I am sure) these people pay lawyers is the big difference.

  13. When I was in that business, a lot had to do with pressure relief valve design requirements. Our He tanks were filled to 4,000 psia, while the 2nd stage propellant tanks were designed for less than 300 psia.

    (No, I did not work in metric.)

  14. “Want to freak out your neighbors ? Name your Wi-Fi “FBI Surveillance Van #7″.”

    I had one named ‘Spambot’ for a long time.


  15. Seems the IRS thinks that makes me an employer

    That’s what killed my second business, a very-short-term contract employee who (correctly) claimed the few hundred dollars as income when filing for unemployment, which was (incorrectly) deemed to be equivalent to W-2 employment by the department of labor, who then demanded withholding and penalties and then demanded an audit when my lawyer replied that under NY law it wasn’t employment. Then the labor dept got pissy about being thwarted and relayed it to the tax department, who demanded an audit. There were a few more steps, which I forget. I finally got pissed off, dissolved my company, and filed for unemployment for myself while I looked for a job with someone else. Because screw New York State, that’s why.


  16. Because screw New York State, that’s why.

    I will fight this a couple of times with the IRS. I will claim the person should be 1099, send the IRS a 1099, which may be difficult as I don’t have the person’s SSN. But that may be like pissing in the wind. It will just delay the inevitable and increase the interest. All the while some jerk in the IRS off is laughing his butt off while scratching his balls.

    It may be more sane to just suck it up and pay the amount that is claimed I owe, then wait for the bill for the interest.

  17. Of course there will be interest accrued on that amount. Penalties have not been assessed, yet. Not a huge amount, less than $100.00. But still annoying. I guess she put my name on the income when she filed her taxes. Got to give her credit for reporting income that is basically untraceable for the IRS. But it does put me on the hook for SS money that I must pay.

    Pay me in cash and I wouldn’t say a thing to the IRS.

    I filed paperwork reporting our WA State landlords antics keeping half of our rental deposit, but I usually don’t wish more IRS hassle on anyone.

  18. We get a “consultant” every other year who tells the IRS they were an employee, for whatever reason. I usually call the IRS and refer them to the 1099 by SSN. Sometimes the IRS sends a form stating “this douche-bag says they were your employee, but we got a 1099. If they weren’t an employee you don’t have to do anything.” I call the consultant and tell them they f’d up.

    I think states like Kalifornia now say you have to pay any person doing misc work as an employee. Ridiculous.

  19. “Infographic: United States of Oil”
    https://www.asme.org/topics-resources/content/infographic-united-states-of-oil

    “Petroleum production in the U.S. has skyrocketed since 2000.But just six states account for more than three-quarters of that oil.”

    “Some revolutions come in with a roar, while others are whisper quiet. But you would be excused if you didn’t realize that the U.S. oil industry had soared to never-before-seen heights. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, which keeps track of petroleum production, more than 12 million barrels of oil per day were produced in the United States from April through June 2019.”

    “Not every state can take credit for that record, however. Six states—Texas, Alaska, California, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and New Mexico—together produced 9.2 million barrels a day in July 2019, some 78 percent of the national total. That’s been a consistent trend for decades, as those six states cumulatively produced 73 percent of the nation’s oil since January 2000.”

    “While North Dakota, Oklahoma, and New Mexico are newly booming thanks to hydraulic fracturing technology, and Texas is a world of its own (it produces more than 40 percent of the national total), Alaska and California have declined considerably in the past 20 years. In fact, Colorado’s oil production surpassed California’s starting in 2018. As “fracking” continues to revolutionize the petroleum industry, more states may rise toward the top of the oil charts”

    I do not know of a single futurist or science fiction writer who predicted this. I have been totally shocked at the amount of energy available for the present and the future in the USA. We basically have about 200 years of crude oil reserves in the USA. We have about 1,000 years of natural gas reserves in the USA. These are based on the two technologies of directional drilling and fracking which came about in the late 1990s.

  20. I do not know of a single futurist or science fiction writer who predicted this. I have been totally shocked at the amount of energy available for the present and the future in the USA. We basically have about 200 years of crude oil reserves in the USA. We have about 1,000 years of natural gas reserves in the USA. These are based on the two technologies of directional drilling and fracking which came about in the late 1990s.

    The Gulf off Florida has been off limits to drilling, but the potential is there. Even the Republican Governors fight it, however.


  21. We have about 1,000 years of natural gas reserves in the USA.

    Yes! However, some politicians and technical people (I refuse to refer to them as scientists) are claiming that energy generated using renewables, such as solar and wind, are already cheaper than that generated by fossil fuels. Facts, please. Last I checked, electricity generated by solar was by far the most expensive of all, followed by wind. Someone has a thumb on the scale, and should be called on this.


  22. The Gulf off Florida has been off limits to drilling, but the potential is there. Even the Republican Governors fight it, however.

    Both coasts also have a lot of potential, but… same reason.

  23. The Gulf off Florida has been off limits to drilling, but the potential is there. Even the Republican Governors fight it, however.

    The entire eastern and western seaboards of the USA are off limits to new drilling. In fact, most of the oil and gas production off the California seaboard dates back to the 1960s.


  24. I think states like Kalifornia now say you have to pay any person doing misc work as an employee. Ridiculous.

    First assumption, which is almost always proven out: it’s all about the money. If they were employees rather than consultants, you are on the hook for payments to the government. It doesn’t matter if the consultant — er, employee — ever files for unemployment or any other earned or “entitled” benefit, it’s money and the government wants money.

    To be fair, a lot of corporations, conspicuously along the Pacific coast, were abusing the concept of consulting, having someone on the same job for years, appearing in the employer’s office, and getting day-to-day direction. Yah, they were employees. But Ray’s house sitter and the woman who took a few thousand pages of paper home and sorted them for me weren’t employees by any reasonable standard.

  25. In my armchair view, SpaceX’s rocket in Texas is little more than an iterative design and test platform. It has no reason to be perfect on the outside. The skin is mass, balance, and structure. The internals exist for testing and manufacturing processes improvements. When it flies, it will be anything short of orbital. There is no expense on the parts that don’t matter at the moment.

    I hope the Ghost of Pournelle is at least nodding approval at Musk and SpaceX.

    I think the development effort for Starship is real, but the show in Texas seems geared towards distracting the media from Tesla problems du jour.

    Today was supposed to see the unveiling of the Tesla F150 competitor.


  26. I think states like Kalifornia now say you have to pay any person doing misc work as an employee. Ridiculous.

    Well that’s thanks to the California Democratic Party – fully owned by the SEIU.

    And Screwsome just suspended fracking permits here. All solar and windmills coming.

  27. Today was supposed to see the unveiling of the Tesla F150 competitor.

    Tonight at 8pm, California time.

    I am loving my new 2019 F-150 4×4. I just figured out how to set the sensitivity on the emergency braking (yes, there is a screen for that). In fact, there seems to be about a 100 or so parameters that can be customized. I did not see a reset back to defaults option though. And I got 18 mpg average on my first 1,000 miles.

    When I drove to Victoria the other day, I was getting 27 mpg in the 60 mph construction zone for 30 miles. Then I was running 80 mph for the next 120 miles at 19 mpg. Pretty good for a brick with closable blinds in front of the radiator to block the cool air out when not needed. I am also wondering how long that front lower air dam is going to last at six inches above the ground.

    The only problem is that it keeps on shutting the engine off when I stop at red lights.


  28. Yes! However, some politicians and technical people (I refuse to refer to them as scientists) are claiming that energy generated using renewables, such as solar and wind, are already cheaper than that generated by fossil fuels. Facts, please. Last I checked, electricity generated by solar was by far the most expensive of all, followed by wind. Someone has a thumb on the scale, and should be called on this.

    Yes, I call myself an engineer. Not a scientist as I have not formulated a law of nature such as Newton’s law of nature or Einstein’s law of nuclear reaction.

    OTOH, I have worked in solar energy plant functional performance and know that it is a total fraud. OK, Google solar energy Daggett California:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Solar_Project


  29. there seems to be about a 100 or so parameters that can be customized

    There is also a setting to change the color of the accent lighting. Well, at least on my Platinum version of the F-150.

  30. OTOH, I have worked in solar energy plant functional performance and know that it is a total fraud. OK, Google solar energy Daggett California:

    But there is this: “Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough” https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/19/business/heliogen-solar-energy-bill-gates/index.html , wherein Bill Gross’s company …

    Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius.

    Another article: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/19/heliogen-solar-concentrator-breakthrough/

  31. there seems to be about a 100 or so parameters that can be customized

    There is also a setting to change the color of the accent lighting. Well, at least on my Platinum version of the F-150.

    No Platinum trim level here. I got the XLT trim level, a working mans truck. With the supplemental 302A package ( a chrome grill ! and heated seats). And the FX4 package, skid plates and rubber floor mats.

    In fact, I have yet to figure out how to turn down the 8 inch radio screen at nighttime. That sucker is bright ! I need to rip the shrinkwrap and read the fricking manual.

  32. I named one of my access points “ICE” 🙂 and I’m an immigrant so I like the irony.

    Solar… I replied to a thread in the NextDoor app about solar panels, pointing out some of the issues, some of which I learned here, and verified. Everyone ignored me and talked about how great their installation company was and how they are helping the environment.

  33. Thinking of buying a new Highlander XL to replace my current one (2008, 220K miles). The current one still works, but we take some long trips (WA to CA, WA to UT) several times a year, so it’s time to get something newer.

    Looking to stay with the Highlander XL (we’ve had good luck with many Toyotas over the years). I am aware that there’s a new generation starting with the 2020, but thinking that the 2018/2019 might be ‘good enough’. The XL series is preferred for the 4WD and towing package (need that for the wife’s powered wheelchair rack). And the heated seats.

    We’ve bought several used Toyotas from Hertz Car Sales over the years, and all have been good and long-lasting. Used ones have mileage ranging from 13K to 40K. Would probably choose one with about 12-14K miles/model year.

    So, opinions (don’t be shy – heh) . … 2018, 2019, or go for a new 2020?

  34. Everytime we looked at the Toyotas, they just didn’t fit us well. I didn’t find them to be comfortable. Something about the seats, or legroom or visibility. So no help from my end.

    n

    (although I’m inclined not to by new without massive discounts. let someone else take the depreciation hit.)

  35. RickH, I have looked at some former rental cars, starting a few years ago. These were at a dealer, not the rental lots. This one dealer in Orange County, CA, had some excellent looking samples for not-bad prices, but we couldn’t find what we wanted. I asked to talk to the acquisition manager, but he wasn’t available. About a year later, the cars we saw were not even close to what I would consider: all had signs of typical rental car wear. Must have been a different buyer, or slim pickins at the sources.

    FWIW, I would never have considered a former rental car… but. If I were looking for something in a category that is not popular, I might. Some of these vehicles are not rented much because of their high fees. Sometimes a really good one shows up: low miles, little wear. I might guess you would have the best luck at a dedicated rental dealer. I have a relative who worked at Enterprise some years ago, and told me some good things about their process. Never looked, however.

    Another idea is to find a dealer who is willing to find what you want. This is supposed to work best for higher priced cars. I have a cousin in another part of the country who wanted a specific car. He had a new car dealer of the same brand find exactly what he wanted. You probably already know about that.

    I am in a tiny town, with bad dealerships, so I would not consider dealing with them. I also look for older cars that dealers don’t carry, and have found that private party is my best option. But next time (soon) I will be looking for something fairly popular and newer, probably a 2016 model. I may try the dealer or rental route, although four years is a bit old for dealers.

    Trouble is, I grew up around the auto industry, and we hate dealers and the car buying process. A lot. I have bought two cars from dealers. One was new and unmolested. The other was not.

  36. Speaking of cars, I got my 1997 inspected today. Passed, of course. Therein lies a story. 1996 was the first year for OBD II, and some implementations for those early years operated differently from later years. In about 2008, California changed their inspection criteria from four to a maximum of two Not Ready OBD II parameters. For the uninitiated, On Board Diagnostics reports several parameters, such as catalyst effectiveness, evaporative control function, etc.; basically everything that a car needs to be in compliance with regulations. Inspections no longer measure tailpipe emissions directly, they query the diagnostic port for state of health. If two or more OBD II codes show as Not Ready, the car fails. The owner is instructed to “drive it for several days and bring it back.” Some of the parameters can take up to 50 full cold to full hot cycles to become ready, but most owners don’t know this. Note that Not Ready means just that: the parameter might be in spec, but the system can’t measure it because it is not ready. A popular way to cause NR parameters is to disconnect the battery, a common situation.

    This has led to all sorts of owner dissatisfaction. California’s official position is that the car can’t be tested, and so it can’t pass by definition. Most big city shops that do inspections no longer have the equipment to directly measure emissions, and so even if the car is running in spec (almost always) they can’t determine that. I live in a county that can still directly measure emissions, complicated reasons. Even so, if the parameters can’t be read, the car fails, even though it might be in spec. California doesn’t care. After all, these are “old” cars. Many of them are owned by aliens, and so… Oh, wait, maybe we need sanctuary counties for older cars 🙂

    Anyhow, there is a list of cars that are incompatible with the new tests, but my car isn’t on it. My car occasionally resets the OBD II parameters, resulting in Not Ready for most of them, and a few can take a long time to become ready. There is officially no way to reset them manually. I suspect my car has a software bug, but he manufacturer officially has no further updates, because it is only required to support emissions related stuff for ten years. So, I use my scanner to watch for readiness, and only then take the car to be inspected. There is about a five month window, so this is not hard, just inconvenient. Thanks, pointy headed bureaucrats.

    I have many stories much worse than this, but it is late. Very late… G’nite.

  37. So, opinions (don’t be shy – heh) . … 2018, 2019, or go for a new 2020?

    I’m not totally sold on TNGA, the new Toyota platform with the 8 speed automatic that started going into the newer vehicles ~ 2018. My gripes about the acceleration issues are documented here. However, I can’t complain about mileage in my 2019 Camry LE 2.5L 4 cyl — 36+ on average and we got 40+ on the last long trip to San Antonio.

    I drove a used 2017 at CarMax before making the new car decision, and the older transmission was “clunky” for lack of a better word.

    I definitely didn’t want a 2019 with ASS (Automatic Start Stop). In a 12 V electrical system, I think that’s asking for trouble long term. Only Mercedes does it right with 24 V IMHO, and even then it is 1-2 MPG at best improvement.

    When test driving a TNGA car with the 8 speed, take the vehicle somewhere that you can accelerate and decelerate between 15-20 miles an hour without braking and decide for yourself how you feel about the transmission searching for gears. Then, take the car out on the highway, get up to speed, decelerate a bit to the point where the car shifts down, and then punch it like you’re accelerating out of trouble.

    Also, as I’ve documented here, my big concern long term is the intermittent failure of the $1200 front-facing camera which is part of the safety systems, most of which I don’t even use. I typically drive cars for 8+ years, and I don’t want to face failing inspection over a useless (to me at least) part which would cost more than the car is worth to replace.

    When the camera fails, a big red icon lights on the dash of the car. Even the quickie inspection place I use to get my Solara’s sticker would balk at passing that, and forget selling used.

  38. .California doesn’t care. After all, these are “old” cars. Many of them are owned by aliens, and so… Oh, wait, maybe we need sanctuary counties for older cars

    The various government entities are working towards totally turning over the fleet to the point that most vehicles are amenable to automation under central control with a software update or a easily-installed add-on. Anything built without electric steering and braking/acceleration not under control of a computer, mostly pre-2006 vehicles, will be increasingly difficult to register if not banned from certain roads within the next 5-10 years.

    We have at least three significant automation (not autonomous — there is a difference) programs around Austin run by big players. I’m sure there are others.

    Thankfully, automation has proven more difficult than anyone imagined, and, based on interviews we did this week, I’d say one major project run by a large Fancy Lad company … or should I say Herr Fancy Lad Company … 🙂 … is in serious trouble and hemorrhaging low- to mid- grade talent. Still, the push continues.

    The car manufacturers never liked OBD II. They liked selling their own diagnostic tools with proprietary interfaces for $3000+.

  39. I am loving my new 2019 F-150 4×4. I just figured out how to set the sensitivity on the emergency braking (yes, there is a screen for that). In fact, there seems to be about a 100 or so parameters that can be customized. I did not see a reset back to defaults option though. And I got 18 mpg average on my first 1,000 miles.

    At best, Tesla will have something comparable (class-wise, definitely not close in quality) to the Honda Ridgeline for $60k, not even remotely close to what you are driving. Toyota is just reaching the crest of their F150 class learning curve in San Antonio after 20 years.

    Definitely complain to the dealer if you can’t find the setting on the emergency brake. New Mustangs are notorious for the mechanical (still has the pull up) tension being low.

    I don’t think the (supposedly) mechanical emergency brake pedal on my Camry does anything, but I’ve had three dealers check it and tell me the slight movement after setting the brake is normal. Still feels like the car is settling back on the transmission gears to me.

    If management doesn’t hire the 27 year old Fancy Lad College graduate as senior developer, forcing the decision about whether I really want to continue with this job/career, I’m going to look at replacing the Camry next year. That would be a first for me since I even drove my much-hated 93 Probe for eight years.

    Something weird was going on in that interview the other day. The vibe was troubling, like a fix was in somewhere.

  40. Greg, your posts make me feel good about being out of the rat race. Other than BigCorp, all my work experience is small team, brought in because whatever BigCorp we were working for that month was too sclerotic and stuffed full of deadwood so that they couldn’t do the job.

    We were the pros from Dover and acted as such. Also got paid as such.

    n

  41. Greg, your posts make me feel good about being out of the rat race. Other than BigCorp, all my work experience is small team, brought in because whatever BigCorp we were working for that month was too sclerotic and stuffed full of deadwood so that they couldn’t do the job.

    The place where I currently work has grown fast because we are the only entity offering true ORT solutions that actually work in the US. A lot of dead wood and spreadsheet pushers are accumulating in the system as a result, and management is increasingly wanting big name diplomas on the resume.

    What really bothers me about the other day is how our usual machine used to do in-person interview coding tests suddenly decided to go Tango Uniform. The machine is in an open cube in a heavy traffic location and anyone has access 24/7 if they can get in the building.


  42. However, some politicians and technical people (I refuse to refer to them as scientists) are claiming that energy generated using renewables, such as solar and wind, are already cheaper than that generated by fossil fuels.

    There are ways that if you squint just right that may support that. You have to attribute a bunch of the military budget to fossil fuel costs – since we keep the oil shipments safe in the Persian Gulf. You have to add a carbon emissions price based on remediation costs for CO2 emissions and environmental damage.

    As I have said before, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors by both sides on the issue. Some of the anti-AGW crowd have misinterpreted the science out there. The pro-AGW crowd puts too much faith in computer models.

    The hot topic right now is getting rid of cows. A huge chunk of greenhouse gas emissions are due to raising cows – the methane they fart and burp out, the oil and gas used for the raising of feed, etc.

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