Monthly Archives: January 2007

Forty Years ago today

Forty years today, when I was less than six months old and living in New Mexico, Chicago was hit by a major winter storm. To celebrate this anniversary WFLD-32 has put a copy of their newscast for the day on their web site (here).

For kicks I watched the newscast — at least until it reset for the second or third time (or perhaps it had ended). After the extensive coverage of the snow storm, however, the real piece of tragic news was broadcast. According to these reports it was forty years ago today that the US lost its first three astronauts when Apollo I burned on the launch pad during a training mission.
I’ll admit it was a bit of a shock to hear that report on an old newscast I was watching mostly to see what it looked like.

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Really Tiny Numbers

A discussion on an e-mail list this morning led me to spend some time calculating the probability of winning the powerball lottery. Actually, I cheated and let them calculate the odds for me, and then turned them into a probability.

They report the odds of winning as “1 in 146,107,962.00” which comes out to a probability of winning of 6.8443*10^-9 (or 6.8443e-09 on my pseudo calculator display). Now, obviously this is a small number, but it wasn’t obvious how small until I went to calculate the odds of not winning the grand prize. When I tired it on the same pseudo calculator (WRPN version 1.0), I got a result of 1.0000. So I tried on bc on the sun I was logged into, and got 1. Finally I tried excel, and also got 1. This number is so small that the probability of not winning was equal to 1 after rounding on everything I tried.

I was, however, successful in calculating the expected winnings on a $1.00 ticket as $0.64 — which is still a loss. I didn’t take into account the possibility of multiple winners, and just now realized that i forgot to even try to take into account the odds of winning a lesser prize. I’ll just leave that as an exercise for the students.

Is it OK…

for me to already be tired of hearing about our local football team?

A sentence designed to frustrate dsylexics

Just now, while browsing wikipedia, I came across a sentence in an article about The Three Hundred and Thirty File Years War which was clearly, albeit probably accidentally designed to confuse those of us who suffer from dyslexia:

Cromwell pushed on until mainland Cornwall was in the hands of the Parliamentarians.

(Obviously, the sentence is actually dealing with the English Civil War, which apparently leads into the 335 year war).

I once had a similar experience, which almost caused me to get lost in Lansing Michigan, where I-69 and I-96 cross (and briefly run together). I was looking for an exit on one of the Interstates, while on a detour off to the side of the other one, and was very worried about the exit numbers which made it look like I’d missed my exit.


A conversation I had with my (technically ex-) brother-in-law this evening got
me thinking about the computers I’ve owned or at least lived with. So I’m
going to share my walk down memory lane:
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Since I got my 2000 Saturn LW2 Wagon shortly before getting married, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the thing. Most of the time I’ve been very happy with it, but it has had a few annoying habits, which I hate.

Almost since it was new, it would occasionally — usually in streaks — enter into a mode where it would show the “service” light and shift hard. Also, the last two summers the drain for the air conditioner has been plugged, causing the condensation from the coils to come into the car, soaking the carpet.

Despite this, I’ve actually owned this car longer (both in terms of time and mileage) then either of its predecessors — the 1989 Chevy Blazer S10 and the 1995 Jeep Wrangler SE.

However, at this moment I’m not very happy with it. On Tuesday, while I was trying to get up to speed on I-290/IL-53, it suffered a loss of power — complete with a warning light that said “reduced power.” I was able to limp off of the freeway and restart it. Once restarted, it drove fine. I took it to the dealer, since the dealer was closer than my alternate garage and has a network setup so I could connect to work from there. They reported that the throttle body needed cleaning and that the mass airflow sensor was bad. These, along with the needed oil change ran me just under $400.00. They also mentioned that the engine control module might be shorting, and that replacing it would be another (IIRC) $400.00. I passed on getting this replaced.

Apparently, that was not such a good idea. This evening, when I was leaving to go to karate — which was my third trip of the day — my car wouldn’t start. After karate I put it on the battery charger, which I put into the mode where it can usually start a car, and tried to start it. On the charger it still wouldn’t start, and then started doing other things that make me think that it is trying to tell me something. Specifically it would often blink the interior lights on and off with a regular period of about one second.

So, tomorrow I get to have the car — which is also stuck in “Park” — towed from our garage to the dealership or the alternate garage to see if they can fix it on Monday. Fortunately Monday is a holiday for me. Derrick also has Monday off (and I was planing on not sending him to day care) and Tara won’t have to work since she works the following Saturday. But getting my car fixed will override any other plans we might have had for the day.

Interesting developments

At lunch today, the third headline in the AP headline scroll across the TVs in the cafeteria was that the Democrats have selected Denver as the site for their 2008 Presidential nominating convention. Other sources have given their dates as being around August 28.

Denvention is scheduled for the same main facility 3 weeks earlier — August, 6-10. One person on Denvention’s facilities committee has already posted to SMOFs that they are double checking with the facility to see if this impacts the Worldcon.

While I’m not an expert on political conventions, past discussions on SMOFs and other things make me a bit worried that the DNC may want the convention center for more than 2-and-a-half weeks prior to the opening of their convention, and that their 35,000 participants will so completely dwarf Denvention’s 3,000, that this may not be a good thing for the convention.

At least they weren’t bidding for the weekend before Labor day

I’m going to stay tuned to SMOFs to see what develops.

Freedom to protest freedom

In reading a recent posting by madtechie2718 I came across an article in snopes that included several pictures of a protest last February in London. The protest was over the publication of the Danish cartoons that depicted Mohammad. One of the protesters carried the following sign:
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How growing up warps time

Just now I was reading through soc.history.what-if. In an article speculating on the differences if Ford had been reelected in 1976, I came across the following quote referring to the Iran hostage crisis:

I’m not sure how much a different President changes the Iranian Revolution itself, though he certainly could change the details of the hostage crisis; … an evacuation and no crisis at all. Helicopters evacuating a second embassy in five years might be a bit rough on the reputation of Ford.

When I read that I was struck by how something that happened before I was that aware of the outside world, and one of the key unhappy news events of my youth were less than five years apart.

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Travel Meem

Taken from avt_tor who got it from someone not on my friends list:
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