Friday, November 16, 2018

Felines in my phone

I woke up this morning, and the air seemed a bit better.  Look up the AQI: 188.  Bleah -- that is just like yesterday started; the only reason it seemed better is by comparison to the 230 or so we had last night when I came back from rehearsal.  Self-imposed house arrest for me again today.

As a result, there is boredom and dissatisfaction with the lack of exercise this week.  I filled the morning with fighting chaos in the office, designing our holiday card, figuring out what to do about our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner, and consolidating pictures from my phone into our main photo library.  Killing time, in other words.

Man, there are a lot of cat pictures on my phone.  Our cats are much less suspicious of a phone than a conventional camera, for reasons I don't quite understand.

The cats are good at sloth.  Bobber sometimes tries to camoflage herself in a dirty laundry nest,

but more often is found in the one small patch of sunshine in any given room.  Note the prodigious nap-inducing powers of the cat in this one.

Lately, as it has gotten colder, she also quite likes the heated kitty bed we inherited from a friend whose cats have passed on.

The dining room chairs are also favorites.  She has a knack for intuiting who might want to sit down next and preemptively installing herself on that person's chair.

Mariam, on the other hand, always sleeps in the kid's room.  Last month, however, she spent a lot of time at the vet, as she had stopped eating and lost a lot of weight (9 lb down to about 5.5).  Poor kitty's kidneys are going.

There is a temporary restoration of health after application of IV fluids; I now have to apply fluids subcutaneously a couple of times week at home.  She is looking much more perky now.  However, even though this picture *looks* like she has grown green dinosaur spikes on her back as a side effect, that is not the case.  Why are there no cats with dinosaur spikes??

The cat is definitely chowing more food, and you can see her eyes again!

Chad was amused by my use of a large bowl on the kitchen scale as a cat-weighing apparatus.  This wouldn't work with the other cat, but Mariam is pretty mellow.  Back up to 6 lb 13 oz this morning.

The non-mellow cat, letting her typical internal crazo show.

Same cat, trying to play it cool.  Artist kid in the family likes the eye shadow shape.

Maybe a cat will come sit on my lap as I work through the routine Friday afternoon investment reading :)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

November travel

Normally, November around here is full of this:

And indeed, the weekend before our anniversary, Chad and I did a mixed pavement dirt adventure ride over to the coast for a quick overnight.  (Who knew there was still an obscure route over the ridge that I hadn't yet ridden...)

At the moment, however, no one is riding.  Last week, when the Camp Fire tore through the town of Paradise in the northern part of the state, a lot of the smoke blew down to the Bay Area.  Below is *not* a sunset shot; the air is just that gross.

Fortunately, we had planned to go up to Downieville last weekend, and while the air was horrible driving across the Central Valley,


it was much better up in the mountains.

Chad and I explored some relatively new-to-bikes pieces of trail up towards the Lakes Basin.  While one could see the smoke off in the distance

we enjoyed the clear cold air upwind of it.

Alas, school and work beckoned us back home, so we drove back into the foul soup.  Earlier in the week, it seemed to be getting better, but yesterday the inversion layer got stronger, trapping a thick blanket of nasty smoke-filled air over the whole region.

Remember those pictures of the Central Valley earlier?  That's what it looks like when the Air Quality Index is 181...which it is right here, right now.  Last week, this set off the smoke alarms at the school; this morning some of the staff wanted to cancel school (as several colleges around here have), but the district wouldn't let them.  The kiddo went off to class muttering about the air being filled with tiny white particles.  If we are lucky, there will be a shift in the weather next week.

Though come to think of it, we are lucky to not reside in Paradise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Another giant mess in the kitchen (aka excess fruit management)

Not too long ago, the grapes in the backyard came ripe.  Yum!  We like fruit.
However, the vermin do too.

We don't want to encourage the vermin, so I mass-harvested all the fruit.  This is maybe half of it.

Turning all the grapes into juice required getting every large pot in the kitchen dirty, of course.

Then I was faced with a lot of juice.  It was pretty juice, but there was quite a bit of it.
One of many bowlfuls:

No more jam needed, as we still have some left from last year's crop.  Didn't want to make fruit leather, as there is a bunch of apricot fruit leather from this year's apricots already extant, with more apricot puree in the freezer.  Too much fruit in the house!!!  What to do, what to do....

I drained a couple tablespoons of whey out of the yogurt in the fridge, mixed it into the bowl of juice, and let it sit for a few days under a loose lid.

Ooooh---bubbles!  It turns out you can easily make fizzy lacto-fermented soda out of fruit juice by adding a bit of whey or various other things to get it started.  Sourdough hooch (the liquid that forms on top of a sourdough starter when you are lazy about feeding it) works too.  As does a teeny-tiny bit of champagne yeast.

My first batch.  I neglected to filter this batch, so there were some grape solids in it that needed to be decanted out.

I moved on from grape to other excess fruits.  Lemons from our overly-laden tree, oranges from the other overly-laden tree, grapefruits that my friend Kathleen was trying to unload.  Small amounts of other fruit bits added in (juice drained off of wild blackberries from my mom's visit, apricots, etc.)  All delicious.  The only disgusting one so far was the one made with soaked pineapple skins, which tasted oddly like bandaids.  I suspect that the outside of that pineapple had some sort of cleaning residue on it, as it came from a conventional grocery store.

Eeew.  Fizzy fermented band-aid-flavored beverage.  One can't win them all.  (And we did eat the pineapple, which was good.  It was just the attempted salvage of some good from the bits that were cut off that failed.)

Back to good stuff.  Occasionally, the surface scum looks sort of interesting, but is harmless.  Stir it back in; the end result is still tasty, as the good microbes outcompete the bad ones.

One challenge with this process is that the fermentation process which generates the carbon dioxide likes to keep going and going and going... If you don't want exploding bottles from excess CO2 buildup, you need to keep them refrigerated after the initial rest after bottling.  Given limited fridge space, this means small batches only.

The current fizzy bottles of yum in the fridge are grapefruit and blackberry lemonade.  Mmmmm.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

reluctant engineer

Physics requires some home-build projects to demonstrate various physical principles.  The kiddo is not as amused by this as one might think.

Still, a parachute was generated

and flown.

Yesterday, I came home from rehearsal to find the cats more intrigued by the rubber band car than the kid.  Look kitty, it's made out of cat food cans!

What does generate teen excitement is fries covered in Kalua pork and a fried egg.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Halloween recap

Eschewing planning, I let Halloween fall where it would this year.  Way back in July, I noticed a volunteer micro-pumpkin plant in the garden

so was able to make a wee faceless pumpkin snowman.

Real pumpkins were acquired from Trader Joe's because I noticed their bin was looking thin when I made an emergency milk run.

Faces carved without planning when one has a bad cold have the advantage of simplicity.

The kiddo, however, had a sartorial vision, and learned quite a lot about sewing and different kinds of fabric.  Potion Master from Town of Salem; look it up if you need to...

Chad had a last-minute vision.  He asked me for a handful of safety pins on the way out the door, and then texted me this later in the day.  I am reminded of the Great Pumpkin.

I stayed home sneezing.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Relative Velocity of the Yowamushi Pedal Universe

It is observed that the time required for riders to complete a race in Yowamushi Pedal anime espisodes is considerably longer than the time necessary in our own experience. One hypothesis for this disparity is that the Yowamushi Pedal riders are in a different reference frame than our own, traveling at a high speed and thus resulting in time dilation. Another hypothesis is that the Yowamushi Pedal riders are in the vicinity of a large gravitational field (e.g. a black hole) which would also account for the observation. Below, we calculate the conditions necessary for each of the hypotheses to hold true.

Hypothesis 1: time dilation due to velocity difference between reference frames

The relative velocity between the two frames can be calculated from observed data as follows:

1) Bicycle racers in our local frame easily achieve an average speed of 45 km/hr over the final 1 km of a flat race course.
2) Races in the Yowamushi Pedal frame have been observed to take two full episodes, each episode lasting 20 min.

The time dilation equation is

$ \Delta t' = \frac{\Delta t}{\sqrt{1 - \frac{v^2}{c^2}}} $

where $\Delta t'$ is an observed time period in the remote frame, $\Delta t$ is an observed time in the local frame, $v$ is the relative velocity between the two frames, and $c$ is the speed of light.

The equation can be re-arranged to solve for $v$:

$ v = c \sqrt{1-(\frac{\Delta t}{\Delta t'})^2} $

From (1) above, the time $\Delta t$ in our local frame to cover 1km at 45 km/hr (=12.5 m/s) is 80 s.
From (2) above, the time $\Delta t'$ we observe cyclists to cover 1 km in the Yowamushi Pedal frame is 40 min = 2400 s.

We'll assume the two groups are riding at the same speed, and thus cover the distance in the same amount of time in their respective reference frames.
Thus, the relative velocity between the two frames that accounts for the time dilation is:

$ v = c \sqrt{1-(\frac{80}{2400})^2} $

$v = 0.9994c$

So, the Yowamushi Pedal characters are hauling ass compared to us, traveling very near to the speed of light, even if it does take them nearly forever to cross that damn finish line!

Hypothesis 2: time dilation due to gravity

Gravitational time dilation is equivalent to velocity time dilation in far space, using the gravitational escape velocity. Escape velocity $v$ from gravity field $g$ is

$v = \sqrt{2GM/r}$

Since we've already calculated $v$ above, we can compute the mass $M$ or the distance $r$ from the gravity field.
Let's assume a stellar-mass black hole, of 50 solar masses (this is about in the middle of the 10-100 solar mass range of stellar-mass black holes.) 1 solar mass = $1.989 × 10^{30} kg$, so

$M = 99.45 x 10^{30} kg$

The gravitational constant $G$ is

$G = 6.67408 × 10^{-11} m^3 kg^{-1} s^{-2}$

$c = 299,792,458 m/s$

From above,

$v = 0.9994c = 299,612,582 m/s$


$r = 2GM/v^2$
$r = 147,878 m$

Which is pretty darn close!

The Schwartzschild radius is the distance from the singularity to the event horizon (where $v_{escape} = c$):


For our 50 stellar mass case,

$R_s = 147,701 m$
$R_s / r = 0.9988$

So, our Yowamushi Pedal riders could be falling in to a largish black hole, and would be right on the hairy edge of the event horizon. Note that the visual and physical distortions present close to a black hole, would also account for the warped appearance of the character Midosuji


The observed time dilation could be accounted for by either of our hypotheses (e.g. due to velocity or gravity), or some interesting combination of the two. Midosuji's warped manifestation lends weight to the gravitational hypothesis, however.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Paint By Numbers

The kiddo found an old paint-by-numbers kit in her closet recently, so decided to do it.  Of course, as said kid is a teenager with art brain, what came out was much more interesting than what was suggested.



I was told that this was at least in part due to the ratio of paint colors supplied being insufficient, but I'm not sure I'm buying that excuse as the whole story.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

My, how the kid has grown

Our last outing of the summer before school started was a trip to the zoo, at Nim's request.  My, how the kid has grown.









Clearly the same kid, and said kid still likes to look at the animals, play on the playground, pose with the statues, and pet the goats in the little farm area.

Last but not least, my favorite picture of the year so far.  The light in the stinky room in the monkey house where some winning films from an ocean film festival were being shown was just really good.