Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Comrade Lenin spins in his grave

 Daft Punk, Get Lucky

Skyfall, the JAMES BOND THEME.

The ultimate indignity: Sweet Home Alabama

The Internet... IT HAS WON!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How Tenacity and a Wall saved a Japanese Nuclear Plant

No, not Fukushima...

hirai illustration.jpg
Choice Quotes:

"Bureaucrats are human trash."

"Corporate ethics is different from compliance," Oshima said, echoing Hirai. "Just being 'not guilty' is not enough."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A man and his city...

and if the City falls but a single man escapes
he will carry the City within himself on the roads of exile
he will be the City
- Zbigniew Herbert
Report from the Beseiged City
I love that quote...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Embedded image permalink
If it takes this to keep us from a win, #iamnotworried.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Slow-motion flux-core MIG metal transfer.  The liquid is actually molten steel.  Source. H/T Reddit.

Friday, September 27, 2013

USA vs. Robert Hanssen

USA vs. Robert Hanssen

From the newly declassified documents...

On or about October 4, 1985, a KGB Line PR officer in Washington, D.C., named Viktor M. Degtyar, received an envelope by mail, at his residence in Alexandria, Virginia, in the Eastern District of Virginia. The envelope was postmarked "Prince George's Co, MD" on October 1, 1985. Inside was an inner envelope, marked: "DO NOT OPEN. TAKE THIS ENVELOPE UNOPENED TO VICTOR I. CHERKASHIN." At that time, Viktor Ivanovich Cherkashin was the Line KR Chief at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. Inside the inner envelope was an unsigned typed letter from the person whom the KGB came to call "B." The letter read in part as follows:



Upon reading the above, some KGB agents then broke out the really good vodka.

More on Robert Hanssen .

John Wayne Dude

Is that you John Wayne? by Noladishu
Is that you John Wayne?, a photo by Noladishu on Flickr.

General Honore is also pretty cool.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Some Notes about the SELFPA-E

Wagon's Wheel
The Wagon Wheel near the mouth of the MS River.  Photo by author.

So, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Agency (split into 2 branches: East and West) was created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in order to do away with the incompetent, nepotistic, and unprofessional parish-level levee boards who spent more time running casinos than maintaining levees.  The history of how corrupt those levee boards were goes back well over 100 years; the original Louisiana State Lottery Company was founded to pay off levee bonds.

The SELFPA-E has fought a drawn-out battle with the Corps of Engineers on how the levees will be armored.  They fought the battle on technical merits and won a significant victory by getting the Corps to agree to geotextile armoring of the levees.  Make no mistake, that will save lives in the event of a storm.

Recently, SELFPA-E has been in the news over filing a lawsuit and Jindal has sworn to gut the board in retaliation.  So says Garrett Graves, "“I don’t see any scenario where this levee district doesn’t get gutted — or, say, ‘reformed’ — in the next legislative session.

Garrett Graves is the chair of the state Coastal Protection Agency.  He is Jindal's point man on coastal issues.  For a little background, he doesn't have any technical background (engineering, geology, etc.), although he was a staffer in Washington DC and his father owned a local construction and engineering company.   I'd say on the whole he's done a decent job, despite the red flag of not being able to work a partial differential equation if it bit him on the ass.  Note that there is a pending public records lawsuit over his correspondence.

John Barry's credentials are impeccable.  There's really no other individual in the entire country as qualified to serve on SELFPA-E.  If you haven't read "Rising Tide" then you're really missing out on one of the greatest books in Louisiana history.  Fun fact: a Tulane donor had a copy FedEx'd to every single incoming freshmen when I went to Tulane.  They felt it was the best primer on Southeast Louisiana available.  Barry has won the Keck Award and the Abel Wolman distinguished lecturer awards from the National Academy of Sciences.

Here is a Barry OpEd in National Geographic.  Here's what could be his farewell address to the SELFPA-E: "This could be my last meeting," Barry said ...  "As you know I'm a historian, and I don't believe history happens. People make history," said Barry, author of an award-winning book, "Rising Tide," on the great Mississippi River flood of 1927. "I think this board has really made an effort to make history — and I'm not just talking about the lawsuit."

Who will we replace Barry with?  Well, so far there are two names in ring: Hassinger & George Ackel III.  Hassinger is a lawyer who already serves as the chairman of the Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority (running the casino, Lakefront Airport, etc. that were the Orleans Parish Levee Board legacy assets).  His appointment would signal a return to the days where board members are more concerned with lining their pockets than serving public safety.

While it's true George Ackel III ran a small construction company in the immediate aftermath of Katrina (now defunct, as far as I can tell), the first return when Googling him is horse-racing.  Yep, horse-racing.  His father was a developer in Jefferson Parish.  His grandfather was a Jefferson Parish politician who racked up $26,000 in ethics fine, the most ever in Louisiana history.

Frierson, of Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans, and Blanco are justifiably horrified with the direction the nomination process is going.  It takes a major "Good Government" reform of the post-Katrina era and chucks it out the window.  We are still dependent on the Feds for significant actions, from finishing the post-Katrina levee rebuilding (the permanent pump stations are just beginning construction and there's still the Option 1 vs. Option 2 controversy), sediment management from upstream dams, Mississippi River water management, beneficial use of dredge spoils, ... The list goes on and on.  The optics of the moves are already terrible ("I'm sure the timing of Chevron's donation was coincidental.").  My own opinion is if this is really the direction we're going, I hereby nominate this man to be the next head of SELFPA-E:

UPDATE: James Gill hits one out of the ballpark.

UPDATE 2: In a bizarre meeting, John Barry is sacked.  The qualification committee also passed up the head of Tulane's geology department for someone with political links to Ray Nagin and Bobby Jindal.  Hmm...  Here's another letter to The Advocate by Barry.  Clancy DuBos, who endorsed Bobby Jindal for his first term, lays into the qualification committee for betraying the public trust.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Structural engineering

"Structural Engineering is the Art of moulding materials we do not wholly understand into shapes we cannot precisely analyse, so as to withstand forces we cannot really assess, in such a way that the community at large has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance."

Story behind quote

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Golden Gate Bridge

29210017 by Noladishu
29210017, a photo by Noladishu on Flickr.

Project Truck Update: A little better edition

Removed a few pieces:
Looked at some ugly, ugly rust:
Cut some of the rust out around the driver's feet, welded in patch panels:
Made the inside look a little better:
And also the outside:
Getting better little by little:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kids these days

Lucille Bogan - Shave 'em Dry (1935) {NSFW Lyrics}

Just a reminder that foul-language in music is nothing new.  I bring this up, because I recently had to explain to someone that a 24-year-old listening to "Fuck Tha Police" when it was first released is now 44-45 years old.

"We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self control." - inscription in Ancient Egyptian tomb

Friday, July 26, 2013

Patches Update: Took my Chevy to the Levee Edition

The tailgate is now installed.  The truck is looking awesome.
Took Patches to Lakeshore Drive and took some photos.  
Painted the area behind the tailgate first.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

4th of July Weekend Project

Here's what the front of the truck originally looked like:
october07 048
And here's what it looks like now:
Much better.

Here's how it got that way....

The bumper was a little crooked and was installed upside-down.  I replaced it with a straighter bumper painted white.  Doing that required some cutting, grinding, and welding on the front of the frame.

Next, Patches got new shoes!  5 matching rims and tires!  What a novel concept.  I was getting some pretty nasty tread separation, so it was a good time.

The main project over the long weekend was cleaning, repainting the grille and replacing the (VERY corroded) radiator mount.  .  
Stripped out a bunch of old components, painted the connecting bits, then started reassembly.
Bit by bit it came together.  There are about a billion bolts holding the front together.  Almost all are the famous 1/2" GM Body Bolt.

Some minor electrical work, and Patches was rolling again.

Oh yeah, and don't forget the little tree and fuzzy dice hanging like testicles from the rearview mirror:
The next project is going to be replacing the tailgate.  Prep work is already underway:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Orleans Avenue Canal Wall Gap

So, the Corps was in charge of building a hurricane protection system around New Orleans, as ordered by Congress in response to Hurricane Betsy.  There are a lot of interlocking political entities that (levee boards, New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board [S&WB], etc.) that end up adding some complexities to construction.

The Corps eventually decides to build walls along the outfall canals (instead of moving the pumping stations to the lake; that's a HUGE issue all on its own that I won't touch on for now).  They build the canal walls on the 17th Street and London Ave. Canals.  There, fundamental flaws in the analysis of the soil strength (the sort that even an undergraduate in civil engineering should understand to avoid), will lead to their collapse.  

The Orleans Ave. Canal didn't fail like the others.  Why?  Well, that's sort of revealing.  Pumping Station Number 7 drains the area near Delgado and puts water into the Orleans Canal to bring it to the lake.  That pumping station is a masonry structure built all the way back when Albert Baldwin Wood was running the S&WB.  Masonry is relatively weak and brittle.  Since that structure is the closest to the lake out of all the pumping stations, if they were to add walls lining the canal, the lake water could push up against the walls of the pumping station and (if they rose high enough) collapse the walls of the pumping station.  That would be bad.

Fortunately, the Corps & S&WB realized this.  The Corps requested the S&WB reinforce their structure.  The S&WB says, 'we're broke, it's your project, you fix the structure, since it's hurricane protection and not internal drainage' [this is in ~80's-early 90's, so the S&WB was pretty broke].  The Corps and the S&WB then get into a big pissing contest.  Meanwhile, the walls are going up.  Eventually, they reach the section nearest PS#7 and they just stop building the wall.  About a 300' gap is left, that way if waters rise, it won't put undue pressure on the walls of PS#7.  

This gap is still there today:

The thing is about this gap is it renders basically the entire wall useless!  The wall provides basically no protection for the city, despite several million dollars spent on its construction.  The reason the Orleans Ave. walls didn't fail is because they were never holding anything back!  

Now, I'm actually an engineer with some experience.  I actually see the situation the engineers were in.  Situations with ambiguous boundaries and split responsibilities happen.  You rarely know exactly what the final project is going to look like before you begin.  When you have a gap, you sit down and figure out whose responsibility it is.  Engineers have lots of meetings...  Usually, someone just mans up and takes it over (usually the one with the biggest budget).  It's a serious sign of how much of a cluster the levees were before Katrina that there was never resolution on this issue.  The gap continues to be a monument to "not my job" syndrome ( ).  

I'm not making any of this up.  When ASCE came to town to write their Katrina report, they specifically highlighted the Orleans Ave. Canal Gap debacle as a symbol of how it was "a system in name only":
(~page 64.) . You can go there and see it for yourself, too. It's near where 610 crosses over the canal. Drive down the west edge of City Park and look for yourself.

Also, see Matt McBride's latest post at Fix the Pumps.

Also, test post from Blogger App. Not sure how it will work.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Old Chevy Ad

Original Ad from 1963:
Note that Patches is actually a 1962, but has the front grille from a 1963 truck.  Patches cost about $2,000 brand new and weighed in at 3,190-lbs.  Source.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Backstory.  (& Followup)  Something to think about next time you wander the aisles at a big box store.  (h/t Reddit.).

NOTE: Updated. For even more fun, try a Google Image search for Masanjia.

The main sin for most of these workers is being members of Falun Gong.  I've just been reading some WWII history, and I can't help but make the parallel between persecuted Jews by the Nazi's and someone who won't renounce their faith, even under torture.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Project Truck Update: Patches Home Again

So the garage that's been Patches' home for a while has become structurally unsound.  We've brought it home over the summer while I have a break from grad school to fix it up and do some work.  

In order to get it running, I first had to connect up the gas tank.  I did it just like I described in the previous post.  
The second piece of hose is to prevent the tubing from rattling against the tank.

Since Patches no longer has a roof over its head, it now has a nice new coat:
Patches mummified

One of the other essential items for any pickup truck is a tool chest in the box.  Patches really needs it because there's very little storage space in the cab.  I found a plywood one that I cleaned up and painted red to match:
Red toolchest

A never ending war with an old truck is the battle against the rust monster.  I've cut out a big chunk and cut a patch panel to roughly fit and riveted it in place.  I may come back and weld it in later.
I'm not entirely happy with the patch job, but rivets are easy to undo.  Also, I've put in some duck tape to smooth out the edges.

Patches took forever to crank when I finally got to running it.  I had to use the old trick of pouring a capful of fresh gasoline down the open throat of the carburetor.  The gasoline (despite using Stabil) had volatilized away.  After doing a good amount of work on it this past weekend, it felt really great to take it for a leisurely spin down Lakeshore Drive.

Some of the priorities moving forward are going to be finish repairing the cab floor, replacing the rims (which are dented and leak slowly) and tires (the rear wheels are so old and dry-rotted, the tread is starting to separate), and eventually replace the wiring with the harness I purchased a while back.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Clean Patches

Clean Patches by Noladishu
Clean Patches, a photo by Noladishu on Flickr.

Clean Patches

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Project Truck Update: Lots of Neglect Edition

After neglecting poor Patches for ages, I've finally pushed & pulled her out of the garage and dusted her off. I've been really snowed under in Grad school (got a 4.0 this semester), but I've got a window to work on the truck over the summer to do some work, so I'll try to make the best of it.

I've brushed her off and found an old plywood toolchest to reside in the bed.

Candice spent much of today pouring almost an entire bottle of Armor All onto the bench seat:

how I spent my Sunday morning.

The next challenge will be reconnecting the fuel tank.  While trying to do that today, the bell and spigot joint (which has given me trouble in the past) finally came apart.  The replacement fuel sender has a female threaded connection made of brass that's soldered onto a steel sender unit.  While trying to screw the male threaded connection on, the solder snapped and the end came off.  Here's what it looked like before.  Here's what it looks like for now:
Trying to fix gas tank
Note the piece of brass sitting on the top of the hose clamps.

The solution I've come up with is to take a tubing cutter, slice the bell-end of the bell-and-spigot joint, take a piece of gasoline-rated hose and hose clamp it on with double clamps.  This should work reliably, because (unlike more modern cars, which use a fuel pump in the tank that pushes fuel to the engine), Patches has a mechanical fuel pump connected off the engine that sucks fuel from the tank.  If the connection starts to leak with Patches, air will enter the fuel line, the line will lose siphon  and the engine will eventually stop.  The implementation of the fix will have to wait until next weekend, though.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Great Research

Condensation, atmospheric motion, and cold beer 
Dale R. Durran and Dargan M. W. Frierson 

April 2013, page 74 

The latent heat released when water condenses is an important driver of weather phenomena. And as a simple experiment shows, it also makes it tough to enjoy a frosty one in the summertime.

Incontrovertible proof that beer koozies keep your beer warm.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Avondale by Noladishu
Avondale, a photo by Noladishu on Flickr.

Photo is a recent ad I saw in Offshore Magazine.

Here's a few recent updates on Avondale's situation:
* Delivery of the USS Alaska. The second to last Navy ship Avondale is scheduled to deliver.
* Avondale eyes energy industry. See photo. Offshore Magazine is the offshore oil patch trade rag.
* And a pair of articles from the Lens: Shipyard Rally and Jindal-nomics.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Quotable Drilling Engineering Professor:

"An Engineer without a calculator is like a cop without a gun"

"An Engineering Degree is not a licence to kill people."

"Blowouts never 'just happen'."

"Two things screw up in the Oil Patch: O-Rings and Engineers."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Valuing Education

With work and grad school, I've been pretty busy, but I've noticed a few things I want to highlight.
Seg Academies still going strongOne of my college friends went to a Seg academy.  One funny story: he didn't learn about integrals in calculus...  He learned about "anti-derivatives" (integration being a dirty word).
Cost of College: Who Can Still Afford State University? - (Related: Louisiana, after cutting more than half a billion dollars in funding to colleges, now has the lowest level of support to higher-ed in the South) {Worse than even Haiti}
* The House that Calculus Built.  Stewart is now on the 7th Edition.  When I was in college, they were just adopting 4th edition.  It's not even a good textbook!  My high school book (Larson) was far better, but didn't cover multivariable, therefore most colleges don't like using it.
Harvard Losing Out to South Dakota in Graduate Pay- Bloomberg 
* Pay teachers more, get better outcomes - LGM.  A revolutionary idea...  I like the idea that it's not the pay, per se, that gets the better outcomes; it's the idea that we're actually valuing our teachers and the pay is mostly a demonstration of society valuing its educators.  More good thinking from LGM.

I'll end with a story.  Pat Taylor pushed TOPS through the legislature after a big battle over cost (underwriting 100% of the cost for the first few years out of his own pocket).  An anecdote:

Pat Taylor was heading downtown for something.  His regular driver was running a little late.  Pat asked what was up.  The driver mentioned that he was studying for a final in a course at Delgado.  Pat told him to turn the car around and head back home, Pat paid the driver for the full nights work, told him to go home and study, and Pat took a cab instead.  

Pat really, really valued education for its own sake.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mr. Charlie

Mr. Charlie by Noladishu
Mr. Charlie, a photo by Noladishu on Flickr.

Mr. Charlie

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

"If You think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." - Red Adair (who knew something about cleaning up expensive messes).  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Question for the Times-Pic...

TP undercuts Gill by Noladishu
TP undercuts Gill, a photo by Noladishu on Flickr.

Why are you undercutting your best Op-Ed writer off just the assertion of a spokesperson that has a reason to lie? After closing NOAH and starting to close the Mandeville looney bin, shouldn't you, you know, do research? Maybe look it up for yourself first?

Saw this at the end of this James Gill Op-Ed about Nagin.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"God help us, we're in the hands of engineers"

"God help us, we're in the hands of engineers." - Dr. Ian Malcom, Jurrassic Park.  

Somewhat related to the last engineering saying...

Engineering Sayings: "Failure is ALWAYS an Option" (H/T Mythbusters)

"Failure is ALWAYS an option"

(H/T Mythbusters)

The stylish version here.

The application to engineering practice discussed here.