Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tet 2009

Spring Rolls, the old standby.
Went to the Tet celebrations at Mary Queen of Vietnam in New Orleans East tonight.

I'm stuffed. We ate Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Po-Boys), egg rolls, fried plantains, spring rolls, pickled beef, and Pho Tai.

ASSORTED Pig Intestine. Yummy.

Pickled Beef. VERY hot.

Nuns help out

Giant Wok of Goodness. Fried Plantains inside.

Rest of the photos here.

New Orleans East

Originally uploaded by Noladishu
Passed by Jazzland / Six Flags New Orleans on the way to Mary Queen of Vietnam. Very Spooky. Rest of the set here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This afternoon, while walking the dog,

This afternoon, while walking the dog, I noticed a fairly old, somewhat beat-up, dark green Mercury Mountaineer. The driver came around the corner really fast, tires squealing, and the passenger leaned out the window, dreds flapping, and yelled, "BLAT, BLAT, BLAT" and started laughing. They drove off in a hurry.

I was not amused, especially in light of recent events.

Many other local bloggers are also hearing gunshots nearby. Not good.

A couple of news items to point out:
Upset Quarter Residents Blast Police
A captain from Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman's office was also at the meeting tonight, but she garnered harsh criticism after she tried to explain to those in the audience that residents are not being pro-active enough. Frustrated and even angry members of the crowd fired back, telling her they're calling police every chance they get. One man even yelled, "go back to the Sheriffs Office."

Mostly Crimey, with more crime expected later. Good comments.

New Orleans breeds bold killers. 50% of NOLA homicides occur in broad daylight. An astonishingly high percentage. If you want one statistic that illustrates the total futility of the justice system in the city, there you go. No fear whatsoever.

More on New Orleans Crime and Punishment.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mike Rowe on Work

Mike Rowe finds gets a bright idea about work after biting off the testicles of a lamb. Just watch the video.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Desk Swag

I've been working as an engineer (E.I./E.I.T. really) for a few years now and I've picked up little promo items, samples, and random detritus on my desk.

These are samples of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). I was evaluating different companies' offering to find the best one. UHMWPE is basically Teflon, but a lot tougher and can stand up to the rigors of a heavy-industry environment.

From left to right, there is a tricone bit, a sample of an epoxy-lined heat exchanger tube, and 2 vendor sample bolts from a lunch and learn.

The tricone bit is just a baby one off a 3" water well. The ones that they use to drill modern wells are the size of garbage can or larger, but the operating principal is the same. The drill pipe is rotated by a big motor at the top and all the bit has to do is break up the rock into small pieces that the drill mud can carry away.

The next one is a sample of a heat exchanger tube. We wanted a heat exchanger that could handle corrosive produced water, but we needed immediate delivery. Carbon steel is very easy to fabricate, but is highly susceptible to rust. We used a vendor's epoxy coating to protect the tubes for a sacrificial bundle while a bigger, titanium bundle was fabricated. The epoxy lining vendor has paint lances that go inside the tubes after the heat exchanger is fabricated and internally line the heat exchanger.

The bolts are from a lunch and learn (vendor comes in and gives a 1 hour lecture that qualifies for Professional Development Hours [PDH's]). The vendor came in and described various types of anchor bolts and gave a detailed failure analysis of the bolts for the Big Dig in Boston. Cerasoli marked those bolts for failure long before they actually gave way.

Project Truck Update: Water Pump Do-Over

I forgot to paint the pump and use teflon tape on the nipple when I replaced the water pump the first time, so I had to go back and do it again.

I've painted the new one to make sure it doesn't rust this time.

Here's the old one dangling in place.

Decided to leave the fan blades off for safety, but I'll probably go back and put it back on next time I work. There's no cowl around them, so they don't pull much air through the radiator, but it does do a good job of pulling fresh air into the engine compartment in general.

Unfortunately, the alternator bracket I had to replace the old, rusty one doesn't fit (they were fibbing when they said it would fit a 350 with a long nose water pump). Oh well.

Still need to do more work on the inside, get door locks, rewire the truck, fix the oil leak, and then maybe try and get a brake tag.

UPDATE- Here's the new pump installed (minus fan):

Math for Engineers

Warning label?

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Letter of Last Resort

Facinating article in Slate about a "Doomsday Letter" given to each nuclear submarine commander.

This letter was written by each Prime Minister of Britain. It was to be opened only in case of a surprise, all-out attack by the Soviets. The question is, what did it contain?

The very presence of the letter undermines the Mutually Assured Destruction deterrence strategy. If there's a 50/50 chance of escaping retaliation, an enemy might risk an attack. The author claims that Thatcher and Reagan were committed to launching a retaliatory strike no matter what.

If you were writing the letter, would you say, "Nuke 'em" or "Let 'em Live?"

Pollution is resource in the wrong place

Going into the future, I think we'll have to be very inventive about our usage of natural resources. Fewer rich sources of energy and resources will be out there, so we'll have to find inventive ways of using what we have and extracting what we need from lesser grades of material.

Also, it will get harder and harder to clean up big environmental messes.

Recently, I heard this axiom:
"Pollution is resource in the wrong place"

I have no idea who said that, but it's very wise. So wise in fact, that I have a feeling this might be the next big thing.

Here's a few way I see it put into practice.

Butte, MT Open Pit Mine. An abandoned copper mine builds up water contaminated with all sorts of nasty chemicals and metals. It became one of the largest (by size) Superfund sites in the US. Right now, though, the mine has reopened using new methods to leach metals out of the water and clean it up (also making a profit off the extracted metals). Extremophile bacteria also helped clean up "The Pit." Researchers studying these bacteria have invented new cancer drugs from them.

Another example of beneficial use of "waste" resources is beneficial use of dredge material for coastal restoration in Southeast Louisiana. Rebuild the wetlands while maintaining the port.

Fly Ash has been in the news because of the spill. Fly ash is what's leftover when you burn coal for oil. The TVA spill happened because it was being stored in big ponds that just got bigger and bigger and bigger. Well, fly ash does have an actual use. It's been used as a cement substitute in concrete mixes. It was first used as such in the Hoover Dam. The manufacture of cement is extraordinarily energy intensive and has a HUGE carbon footprint.

Also related to fly ash is the huge amounts of entrained thorium that could be used in thorium-fuel nuclear reactors. A very interesting and very promising emerging technology. The science behind thorium power is very interesting, there have been multiple successful test reactors, and I plan on doing a post about it soon.

Here's to "waste not, want not" for future energy and resource sources.

Keeping up with the Corps

A couple of articles about our ongoing levee upgrades have caught my interest

Levee work must wait years for study. Near the strip of land between Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. It would be far more efficient to focus efforts on gating the other end of Lake Pontchartrain at the Rigolets and Chef Pass. That will be one of the big 3 projects that determine the long term future of New Orleans, the other two being the closure of MR-GO and a huge diversion of the Mississippi River along the lines of what John Barry suggested at Rising Tide.

Corps sticks with its plan, despite pressure from shipping interests.

Work underway on MR-GO closure.

I actually haven't worked on any Corps work, but I in the same office as those who do. While this is just sort of a feeling that shouldn't hold any weight, it feels like the pace has picked up in the last 3-6 months. It's like things are finally starting to move forward. Did a fire get lit under someone's butt when they saw the waves lapping over the top in Gustav? Dunno.

The Corps looks like it's taking serious steps to protect the city. Kudos to them.

Lazy afternoon links to chew on... 1.23.09

Nationalization Linkfest. Another huge collection of links on the crisis. The last one about hanging the bankers sounds about right.

Two nations, one system: Chimerica. Related: after years of Paulson/Bush turning the "strong dollar policy" of the US into a joke, could Geithner turn things around? Obama's Treasury Secretary discusses the undervalued Yuan.

Huge milestone: Toyota passes GM for highest US sales. The General has been the largest US car maker for 80+ years. Not anymore. Don't get too comfy, though, Toyota. Detroit meanwhile is getting very depressing. Look at the last thing Jalopnik wrote about the Auto Show this year.

Spain loses AAA credit rating. Lots of other discussion on the downgrading of sovereign debt. This is a VERY tricky subject for an entity like S&P to get involved in. They should tread carefully, after their earlier boondoggles with mortgage backed securities. The blowback/ripple effects on this stuff is huge.

Money-laundering: the third largest global enterprise (after Auto industry and Financial industry). And then there are questions about what category much of the financial industry should fit in... Related: "Entire economy Afghanistan is nothing but crime."

xkcd sums up dating.

Freaked-out reactionary racists.

"I had to drop out of college because my laptop came with Ubuntu on it. She's blonde.

The Bailout Game! Bernanke gets chased by an angry mob. Not a fully developed game, but interesting.

The Onion from when Bush took office. Prophetic?

Dwarf glues Penis to Hoover. Ouch. Great headline, though.

Weapons of Mass Destruction found in Iran... by the Ancient Romans. Chemical weapons used by the Persians on the Romans. First use of WMD's?

"Quiverfull" women. VERY disturbing.

Ad placement from hell during a Battlestar broadcast.

Unemployment lines full of Republican lackeys. Money quote: "There is nothing as desperate as a defeated politician looking for a job."

Everyone laughs at Tennessee Republicans:

More at Wonkette. Democrats with real balls.

"This land," he said, "was taken by the point of a gun -- and we are buying it back with American dollars." Political and legal maneuverings of one tribe. Imagine what the Houma's locally might do if they had recognition as a tribe, organization, and proper mineral (OIL) rights...

America closes secret torture camps! Yipee! Wait. Why have we fallen so far that we have to celebrate that?

Open Letter to Congress: Collectively you're a bunch of irresponsible opportunistic whiny ether-sniffing assface sissypants bedwetters until such time that you prove through your deeds that you're not.

One last link: hope for the future.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Green Dot Day

NOTE- I posted this briefly and then took it down because I was too early. Now I'm putting it back up late because I forgot

It's been 3 years since the Times-Picayune issued their infamous "Green Dot" map on the cover.

The infamous image is below:

Excellent roundup at Regional Modernism: The Map That Launched A Thousand Ships

Change Can Happen...

A couple of little vignettes:

The person in the story at the end of this post talking about how he's warming to Obama for being the first president in a generation to really give a shit about organized labor.

On my walk to Deanie's for lunch, a black limo driver and a white construction worker having an honest debate about Israel & Palestine. Both were calm, were reasonably in the ballpark with their facts, and were respectful of the other's positions, even if they disagreed.

There are some more I could write, but I don't want to embarrass particular people. People can change. All I'll say is I think the national IQ went up yesterday by a couple of points.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

24 Hours of LeMons Coming to New Orleans!

Not 24 hour of LeMans, but 24 Hours of LeMons.

It's an endurance race (actually about 16 hours or so spread over 2 days) where the goal is survival. The trick? You car must cost less than $500 (minus safety equipment). Dangerous? Yes. Imagine the sort of beaters that show up to the track.

Here is the winner from the last race:

It's a Geo-Metro ("Metrognome") with a motorcycle engine that spends the whole time trying not to be crushed by malaise-era Detroit iron.

Here are all the entrants:

Pause it at 1:19 to see the "ghetto-charged" Miata. That's a turbo with intercooler setup with plumbing parts.

Video of a previous year with narration by one of the drivers.

I'm definitely showing up as a spectator. If they come back to New Orleans later, I'll probably run a car, too. Not quite ready to do one yet. You need at least $2,000 or so to get all the safety equipment and do the car right...

That being said, if there is anyone else out there that's interested in doing it that needs another hand or two, I'm pretty handy with a wrench and welder. Seriously.

Here's an idea of what you can get for $500: Mazda 626 needing an engine rebuild and a barely functional Chystler (with working A/C, though!).

24 Hours Of LeMons coming to New Orleans (actually Belle Rose) June 6-7. Registration deadline is in March. Here's the track's site.

Jalopnik has much, much more.

UPDATE- A few more minutes of racing deathtrap shitboxes for your amusement:

No music, lots of crashes:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shooting Outside, 3rd Right Beneath Crime Camera

Glass broken by buckshot

I've blogged about crime problems at Washington and Constance before.

Last night, there was another shooting. I twittered what I saw initially.

Here's the Times-Picayune report.

I've been talking to the neighbors (all of whom either heard or saw something). The victim, however, seems to be leaving out key details of the shooting to the police, especially the number of shooters. While there was only one shotgun blast, there were others in the company of the shooter. I personally observed (although probably not enough to get a clean ID) two suspects fleeing the scene seconds after the shot (a shotgun blast is loud!).

I'm Sorry Dave, I Can't Help You. I'm Dead.

All of these shootings happened under an inoperable/useless crime camera. Someone used to come by to try to fix it, but nobody has even bothered in months.

I will give it up to NOPD: they responded in under 5 minutes. When one of the shooter's compatriots returned to the scene of the crime, an officer gave chase. Not sure whether or not he was caught.

I'll close with one last thing: there were MANY people out and about on the block at that time (hence LOTS of witnesses). It wasn't even 10:30 PM. It also meant there were a lot of people around to catch a golden BB...

Project Truck Update: Floor Work

Since the bench seat is out and we'll be doing some work on the floor of the cab, I wanted to get a good coat of primer and paint on the metal to prevent rust.

Sanded the floor down.

A very rusty and dusty process. Candice and I got our gloves absolutely filthy.

Here is the floor with half a coat of primer. I used the Krylon Rust Tough instead of the Rustoleum Auto Primer this time. I'm starting to like it.

Here it is when the paint is wet. The older, bigger Gambits made excellent masking material.

And here's what the dry paint looks like after the masking is removed. Used flat black because even semi-gloss looks a little too shiny for what a floor should look like.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Project Truck Update: Motor Mount Replacement

New Motor Mount
Originally uploaded by Noladishu
Got the Driver's side motor mount replaced. Jake Groby found it in an LMC Truck Catalog. Since the 327 is the same block as the 350 (the 350 is just bored larger), the same motor mounts work.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Our Lady of Good Counsel

Archbishop Hughes sends NOPD to bust down door, arrest parishioners.

When Hughes left Boston, nobody missed him. Let's just say he had a problem calling the police up there.

Well, looks like he found someone to call NOPD for him this time.

The Our Lady of Good Counsel met every fund raising goal set for them (or at least that's what the parishioners say; given that they have a lot of middle class members, they're probably telling the truth). They were originally allowed to have holiday services and then close after the New Year, but the Archbishop flip-flopped and closed the church in October.

The Parishioners think that the Archbishop wants the land for developers (in close proximity to the gentrified Magazine Street). They point out that they've already reversed course once (St. Aug).

Archbishop Hughes has reached retirement age. Rumor has it, he's out the door soon. The new Archbishop, rumored to be from Mobile, doesn't want to start his term with a huge mess like this on his plate and not knowing the territory. It appears that Archbishop Hughes has taken it upon himself to resolve it, one way or the other.

Horribly mishandled by both NOPD (ARMED OFFICERS IN A HOUSE OF GOD!!!) Seriously, keep your guns in your cruiser for this one. You're dealing with churchgoers, not crack dealers) and Archbishop Hughes (calling the cops on a holy day?).

Karen was there and has more.

Oh yeah, I'll point out one other thing: look at the shiny, new tasers on the belts of the NOPD officers. Looks like the rumors of stocking stuffers were true.

Karen Gadbois: New Orleanian of the Year

Congratulations Karen Gadbois for being Gambit's New Orleanian of the year!

Yours is the blog that launched a thousand investigations!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Crime in the Big Easy

Updates from Citizen Crime Watch:

Murders down from 210 to 179 (thanks to Gustav).

Cops accuse residents of failing to cooperate:
The police say they cannot solve cases because we fail to cooperate and speak up. My experience gives me real reason to doubt that claim and suggests that any apathy in our communities about helping the police may be motivated more by the futility of the exercise

Local Oil News

Lease sales hit 4-year low. Companies have been accumulating leases without drilling them for a while. Now that drilling rig rates have dropped, companies are going to drill some of their existing leases. Everyone is running around like the sky is falling for the state, but as long as the oil service companies (who employ FAR more people than the oil companies themselves) stay busy, I think the state will make out OK. The drop in oil prices mostly effects greedy state legislators who will have to get serious about the budget for the first time in years.

An ROV was cutting into an (empty) pipeline off the coast and a crab walked by:

PHI loses a helo full of oil workers. The copter crashed shortly after takeoff from Amelia. Sounds like a smaller helo. Never like reading stories like this.

First FLNG platform nears approval. As one of the largest outfitters of oil platforms, this could be a huge opportunity for the state over the next 30+ years. Most oil platforms are build in 2 sections: hulls are built overseas (generally, Norway, Italy, or Korea) and then towed elsewhere for topside construction. The hull is just the part that floats. Topsides includes all drilling equipment, housing, processing equipment, etc. Most of the value in a platform is in the topsides. FLNG could be HUGE for the state...

News of the day - New Year's Edition

In world news:
Speaking of gas, a good overview of the Ukraine/Russian oil spat. Neither side can survive without the other and they both know it.

Propaganda in the Israeli/Gaza operation. Anyone who says propaganda isn't all over the place during a war (in fact, most of what you see is propaganda) is either stupid or an intelligence officer spreading propaganda.

Acid attackers go after female engineering students... AND ARE SHOT DEAD!

How to make a billion lives better. Simple, ridiculously cheap glasses that are adjustable in the field, not requiring an optometrist. Speaking of inventions, man uses Prius as emergency generator. Great thinking. Will Prii become the next must-have item for riding out a hurricane?

US News:

So-Cal woman calls 911 while stuck on tracks. Train hits her while she's waiting for help. Darwin award?

CNN spends hardly any time at all talking about the coal ash spill because of their advertisers. The only thing special I know about coal ash (also known as fly ash) is that they sometimes use it as a substitute in concrete partially because of the huge carbon footprint of cement plants.

More video of the spill:

Alberto Gonzalez to write tell-all book about everything he can't recall. The jokes for this one are just too easy.

Zbigniew Brzezinski gets into it with Joe Scarborough Also, it seems Joe might have a Chappaquiddick problem.

US convicts Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, for sponsoring torture under his watch. Interesting prospects for Bush.

Chicago School of Economics, RIP.

Hank Paulson and son sucking on the taxpayer teat. Paulson, CNBC's Man of the Year? (Actually, no, it was Bernanke, but CNBC doesn't think that shorting his own companies financial products should disqualify him.)

The year in dumb business moves.

Old article about New York City on the brink of bankruptcy. Worth a read, given the tenuous standing of many local and state governments. I'm looking at you, Governator.


Another Republican (this one a parole board member that had it out for sex offenders) arrested for trying to have sex with little kiddies.

Using crime cameras for pranks. Beware, though: the authorities don't like it when you play sneaky.


NOPD gets Tasers for Christmas? Don't taze me, breaux?

Forgot to get someone a Christmas gift? Try a sample of Aerogel for $45. I could also suggest this for the Pikes.

Happy new year!

Project Truck Update: Roof Complete (Well, almost)

Resumed work on the truck and look what I came back to find:

The rust penetrated through the acrylic. I didn't realize it until I saw the rust that the acrylic is water-based. While it will be fine when fully dry, the water was rust-food and not good! I sprayed on some rust-stopper (basically phosphoric acid) to turn the iron oxide (rust) to iron ferrite (black iron). I sprayed on a healthy dose and wiped the excess off. Within a minute or two, the rust turned purple.

I then painted over that:

Ran out of my main type of primer (a whole can went to waste because the cab and tube popped off when it fell from a shelf), so part of it is a darker shade of primer gray. That should do it for the roof for now though. I won't be doing a topcoat for a while and I'll have to come back and sand before I do the topcoat.

Next up: the floor of the cab.

I'm a bit worried about some of the rust underneath the cab, though. Look at this:

It's underneath the cab on the outside edge of the frame rail. I'll try and weld in a few strips of metal to reinforce it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Project Truck Update: Roofing edition

Had a few minutes to work on the truck yesterday. I'm trying to get the truck waterproof. All the holes in the roof are plugged and now I'm replacing the caulk in the "gutter" that runs around edge.

Got some caulk. It's paintable, exterior-duty, acrylic-based stuff. Hope that works.

Smoothed the caulk out with the ever-reliable finger method.

Small progress, but progress nonetheless.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Went to Benjamin Button last night at The Prytania. The ending induced serious Katrina flashbacks for New Orleanians, though. Half the theater was crying at the end and you could hear the sobs of the lower level all the way up on the balcony.

Incredible movie. Two thumbs up. Spoilers in comments.