Thursday, November 27, 2008

Engineering Books

While most engineering research is done on computers with software or Google, I think having a decent library is still important. Here's a small sample of reference books I keep on my desk.

Cameron Hydraulic Data, Crane TP #410, McMaster Carr Catalog, Pocket Ref, Surface Production Operations. Lindeburg is also good.

Crane Technical Paper #410 [Bottom Left] and Cameron Hydraulic Data [Top Left]. Both are essential for pump design. Crane is more common, because it's cheaper and has the most useful data organized well, but Cameron has far more data and I prefer. It wouldn't be a bad idea for universities to give their mechanical engineering students Crane 410 while they're in school to familiarize them with it. All the older engineers got their Cameron book from Vendors, but they don't like giving them away anymore. They'll give you CD's full of data, but they're no where near as useful as a book. You can still find them on E-Bay, Amazon used books, and elsewhere if you hunt around. I like the older editions because there tends to be more data, none of the primary information is obsolete, and they'll have information that's useful to working on legacy systems (like tables in SSU).

Surface Production Operations [Bottom Right]. Petroleum engineering in a book. Originally written by a Tulane Petroleum Engineering professor (back when Tulane still had petroleum engineering {or any for that matter}). Once again, hunt around for older, cheaper editions.

The big yellow book in the upper right is a McMaster-Carr catalog. It's an ENORMOUS industrial catalog with almost everything you could ever ask for. Very useful for estimating project costs or to know when a vendor is taking you for a ride with their bid. Cheap on E-Bay, but you'll pay for shipping because of its considerable heft. Once again, vendors used to give these to engineers, but not anymore.

The little black book sitting on top of the yellow book is Pocket Ref, a book I've seen on just about every engineers desk. More information per cubic centimeter than any other book ever written. Everything from pipe thicknesses, to wiring, to weather, to everything.

It's a good idea to get a prep manual for the P.E. Exam. I favor Lindeburg's. I used his for the F.E. Exam and liked it. His one for the P.E. useful well after you take the test for your engineering career.

That's a few of the more useful ones on my desk. I'm still hunting around for a cheap copy of Belt Conveyors for Bulk Materials by CEMA and Mineral Processing.

Kei Cars

While driving around, I found a Kei Car right here in New Orleans. This one is a Honda Beat.

Here's a great piece by Wired on Kei Cars. They're big in Japan because of the scarcity of parking. They make them in vans, sedans, pickups and even roadsters.

This Beat was probably imported through the gray market. Note the right hand drive.

These pictures don't give a very good idea of how small the thing is. It's a mid-engined, rear wheel drive convertible. Very cool.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NOAH and VA Hospital busted

Compare the demolitions to the VA map. Notice a pattern? Someone in C-Ray's administration has used inside information on the VA hospital to strategically demolish properties that will be valuable in the future. That person or a partner in crime will buy up the properties and redevelop them after millions of federal dollars are spent.

Prima facie evidence of a huge corruption scheme that tore down people homes for a profit. Whoever buys these properties will be in on the crime. Wait and see.

Good job, Leigh, Karen, et. al.

Also, I think that the refurbishing of Big Charity would be far more economical (and end up with a far superior final product) than this bloated, Nagin-backed project. Renovations wouldn't be cheap, but the base construction is so sturdy, the final building would be stronger, more aesthetically pleasing and cheaper to the taxpayer.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Meet Patches, & other autopia

After many months of just calling it "the truck," the truck now has a name: Patches. It named itself this weekend. A little on the cutesy side, but it fits. There are patches on top of patches (bondo, fiberglass, and welded metal) and it's coloring is patches of primer-gray over red.

Got some more done on the roof and hood. The roof is almost ready for a couple of layers of primer and a fresh ribbon of caulk. One design quirk on these old trucks is a "gutter" around the roof that would be filled with caulk. Unfortunately, there was never a hole drilled, so water stayed in the gutter, got under the caulk and led to significant rust damage near the tops of both doors.

Because Patches and other classic/quirky cars have taken over her blog, Candice has started Rust Chronicles. Check it out.

More car stuff:

GM's downward spiral. It's hard to understate how much damage Roger Smith's "flair for public relations" did to GM.

Engineers Rule at Honda. Honda is different from all other carmakers: they're run by engineers. They've never had mass layoffs and they've never had an unprofitable year. They're the only car company that spend more on R&D than advertising (I'm looking at you, Ford and Toyota!). Soichiro Honda was one of the most brilliant engineers of the 20th Century. His son now runs Mugen. Honda exists apart because of his brilliance. One fun little fact: the Honda Del Sol was the last car he had a part in designing.

Also, looking for a Christmas gift for Mr. Gloomy Pants? Here are two ideas.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Irish Channel Republican Army?

Ray suggested it... and now, the first wave strikes!

Candice heard it at 1 AM or so last night and thought someone got shot. The dog barked at it.

UPDATE- Carbomb was in retaliation for auto accident.

Benson is full of shit

Everyone agrees. Even his employees.

I'd hate to see what the aftermath of one of those offensive linemen looks like.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

News and Notes - 22 November 2008

Watch them Squirm: Fox News abandons the mob it created. Along the same lines, check out their eviseration of the new South Park.

Pirates vs. Ninjas, NOLA-edition:

In local political news, did a crooked deal out Cazayoux?

Plummeting oil prices turn state surpluses into deficits. Remember the Stelly Tax Plan-Cuts? Well, they're back to haunt us, like the Times-Picayune warned.

Local judicial corruption clerks suicide notes.

How bad is the economy getting? Over 100 applicants to a 7-Eleven job. Wait until after seasonal retail employment boom ends. It's not just the US anymore: Japanese elderly steal to make ends meet. A preview of what happens if we can't patch up Social Security? Also, what might economic collapse look like? The Boston Globe asks. Expect 4 areas to be hit the hardest: housing, education (which would normally boom during a normal recession), healthcare, and childcare.

Krugman describes how between now and January 20th could be the most dangerous time of the economic crisis.

China passes Japan as largest holder of US Treasuries. This will have a big effect on US foreign policy over the next 20 years.

Michigan police chief admits speeding tickets about revenue enhancement, not safety. Nice to see someone finally admit it. We'll see a rise in speeding tickets as municipalities take hits in property tax revenues.

Satirical edition of The New York Times. Don't miss the hilarious Tom Friedman spoof.

Gary Brecher writes the Bush Administration's obituary: Bush fought the wars and the wars won.

As newspapers make cuts, new watchdogs emerge. Fascinating look at a new model for civic involvement. Anyone have any opinions on Voice of San Diego? What does it say when the most thouroughly fact-checked news organ is Sports Illustrated? Don't miss Nate Silver's John Zeigler interview and Did Talk Radio Kill Conservatism?

Tennessee cutting $40 million in college spending while spending $10 million on an obsolete anti-filesharing system. Trying to stop college students from running Limewire more important than hiring 100 college professors is the height of stupidity. Way to go, Tennessee!

Mark Cuban got nailed on insider trading, but was it insider trading or political persecution? For reference, Martha Stewart was nailed less than 2 years after her misdeeds. Cuban was nailed 4 years after his alleged misdeeds. Is that even still within the statute of limitations? You only have to keep your tax documents for 3 years.

Debunking myths and truths about recycling.

And now, the happy thought of the day: imagine hundreds of these off the Louisiana coast.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Auto Industry Bailout

The big news of the day is the auto bailout being debated in Congress and the effect it had on the markets (Down below 8,000 for the first time in over 5 years). Senator Vitter has made up his mind that he wants the auto industry to burn or if they are given a bailout, it should screw over the workers as much as possible.

I wrote my only useful congressperson (Vitter and $Bill being more useless than a condom dispenser in a convent) on some of my thoughts:

Dear Senator Landrieu,

I write to you because I've read that you haven't made up your mind on the Auto industry bailout proposal being finalized. I ask that you vote for this measure when it is finalized.

Not many Louisiana jobs are at risk. It's mostly taking our money to pay for others. There are very good reasons not to vote for a bailout for the auto industry. They've had many problems over the years. The quality control through the 1980's was non-existent. They've built gas guzzlers. Their CEO's are tone-deaf, out of touch, and make horrible business decisions. They've failed to embrace change.

But I think that that's overlooking recent changes. In 2007, there was a major breakthrough in labor costs. They got a new union contract. They've brought their quality in line with Toyota (don't take my word on it, ask The Truth About Cars). It's going to take a while to work undo the damage they did with their previous cars, but they were on the road back.

Then the Wall Street Crisis hit and they were unable to get loans to put their plans into practice. They're running out of cash. If they run out, they'll be forced to file bankruptcy. A company as complex as GM doesn't stand a good chance of coming out of a bankruptcy. It will probably be sold at pennies on the dollar with hundreds of thousands (millions?) added to the unemployment rolls in the middle of the biggest economic disruption since the Great Depression.

Make no mistake, if this bill fails, the repercussions will snowball through not just the auto industry, but the entire economy. Can the financial crisis get worse? Absolutely. Remember that the Great Depression wasn't fully felt until well after the 1929 crash. This bill failing could deepen the crisis like what happened after the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930.

It will probably be cheaper in the long run, when you factor in unemployment payments, crime, pension fund guarantees by the government, bond ratings of the state of Michigan and Detroit, etc. The worst thing that happens is some money is lost and they go under in a few years. Even then, the economy will probably have recovered enough to take the dynamite blast of a GM bankruptcy reverberating through the markets. The best scenario is you give the auto industry a fighting chance to recover.

That's all I ask for: give them a fighting chance.

Thanks for your attention to this issue,
Clay __________

I was also going to include another thought of mine: the ones most strenuously opposed to the bailout are the ones most ignorant about the industry. Yeah, Rick Wagoner and Bob Lutz are assholes (especially for that "crock of shit" comment), but it's hard to imagine someone else doing appreciably better given the hand they were dealt. They are far and away better than Roger Smith, whose catastrophic tenure GM still hasn't recovered from. Yes, that is the same Roger Smith as Roger and Me fame.

As a side note, I've been pretty interested in the auto industry for a while. Every year at Tulane, I worked on the Mini-Baja car. When I was a sophomore, I almost went to Dresden for a semester abroad that could have ended with an internship at BMW's engine design department. Had things broken a little differently for me, I might be working in the auto industry right now. As it is, I've stayed a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, just out of interest, even though I have nothing to do at work in the auto industry. My best wishes go to my fellow mechanical engineers in the auto industry, whatever company they're with. I fear they're going to need it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Project Truck Update: Hood complete

Hood complete... at least for now.

Finally got done sanding the topside of the hood.

Notice all the bondo patches from all the holes I had to patch. Fortunately for me, Candice is much more patient when it comes to sanding.

Put a nice protective layer of primer on.

It probably will need to be cleaned up before it gets a coat of topcoat, but this will do for now.

Also did the herculean task of getting the hood back on the truck.

The hood is bigger than a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood, so it's extremely unwieldy.

I've been working on the hood since Gustav and it's finally back on the truck. Yipee!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oh yeah, there is still a financial crisis going on

I know there was an election and everyone wants to know what the first puppy is going to look like, but there's also been that whole financial implosion thingy still going on.

Iceland labeled a terrorist country by Gordon Brown. Foreign businesses are fleeing Iceland like South Vietnam during the fall of Saigon and Brown's actions are only exacerbating the problem. All because they won't bail out British depositors (and add enough debt equal to 50% their GDP in the process).

In Nevada, 50% of mortgages are "underwater."

Speaking of underwater mortgage holders, "The Party that Wrecked America" gets a taste of their own medicine.

Naomi Klein: The Bush gang's parting gift: a final, frantic looting of public wealth. I still have The Shock Doctrine sitting on my shelf, unread. I've been meaning to read it, just haven't gotten around to it. I'll try getting to it by the end of the year.

Remember all that bailout money? Well, Wall Street appreciates your money. They'll be redistributing your wealth into big bonuses for themselves.

The most ominous new development in the financial meltdown is the Chinese slowdown. Chinese Officials Flee with Cash. I think it's a good thing China executes crooked politicians. Chinese factories closing by the tens of thousands. Very disturbing. Instead of orderly bankruptcies, the owners are burning the books, draining the remaining cash, and taking off for non-extradition countries in droves. The collateral damage from those actions is tremendous.

News of Note - 8 November '08

America's actions Tuesday summed up in this photo set.

Proposition 8 passed in California. Mormons donated heavily to its defeat, so they should worry about the Governator launching an invasion of Utah. Gays are pissed and will boycott Mormon businesses.

I like this Op-Ed from the SLC Tribune: What's more harmful to society - two well-dressed men getting married and settling down, or two idiots tying the knot and cranking out any number of additional idiots?

Remember all of those unruly protesters at the DNC in Denver? Well, turns out a bunch of them were undercover cops. Don't worry. The Agent Provocateur undercover cops got pepper sprayed by cops in riot gear

This is some of my coworkers:
Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Between Obama and Nick Saban, they're going to need some Prozac.

Georgia committed widespread atrocities against the Ossetians and Russians during the Ossetian War.

In Somalia, Islamic Millitants stoned a 13 year old rape victim to death in front of hundreds while she begging for her life. Chilling description from the BBC.

In New Orleans, the Facility Master Plan for NOPS was passed. Only one board member voted against it. For more, check out Eli.

Lee Zurick takes on Trashanova. Trashanova strikes again. Now dumping raw sewerage on St. Bernard.

Nagin's non-endorsement endorsement of Dollar Bill.

End on a happy note: Otto the Octopus gets annoyed with bright lights.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Project Truck Update: Still working on Hood

Fixing up the hood is taking a while. I took the cowl off a while ago and I've been slowly patching holes and mending the hood. Candice describes the first experiment with fiberglass and painting the underside of the hood.

Here's what the hood looked like after I removed the cowl:

And here's what the underside looks like all nice and patched and repainted:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dawn on a New Day in America

"La victoire d'Obama porte un nouveau rêve américain" Linking to Le Monde because I can.

McCain's concession speech. It didn't feel like it really happened until I heard this speech. McCain's first thing was to call out the racists in his own party and tell the crown to show some class and respect. If he lost any respect during this long slog, he gained it all back there.

Obama's victory "YES WE CAN" speech. This one will be in every history textbook in America one day.

And Mr. Gloomy Pants back to normal.

The Onion's headline.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Returns

Congratulations to our new D.A., Leon Cannizzaro. I wish you the best of luck building our District Attorney office into one of the best in the country.

Nationally, it is Barack Obama in a landslide with Independents, Women, Minorities, and the 18-24 demographic (including yours truly). 21% of voters came from that last group. Young people finally showed up and voted. Congratulations.

Going to vote

Go vote today. Along those lines, when is everyone getting to their polling place? I'm inserting a poll at the top of the page to track answers.

I'll probably take a long lunch to make it to the polls.

I wish we had a federal holiday today.

UPDATE- Took an early lunch and got in and out in 10 minutes.

UPDATE 2- Poll Results:

When are you going to vote?

Before Work
6 (66%)

Long Lunch
1 (11%)

Taking Off Early
2 (22%)

After Work
0 (0%)

0 (0%)