April 22nd, 2010

#2032: Eyjafjallajokull eruption

Can we just rename that thing "Mount Doom" or something? WTF is it with Icelandic names? 50 syllables at a quarter-vowel each. It's almost as bad as Polish.

...anyway.

Apparently the thing's a-fixin' to blow up real good. The eruption taking place now already brought air travel in Europe to a standstill for three days. (Was it three days? I didn't bother to count.) If it sets off the nearby Katla volcano, it's going to be pretty bad for Europe.

See, now, "Katla"--two syllables, two vowels, no pronunciation guide needed. WTF, Iceland? "Eyjafjallajokull". Six syllables long and it needs a pronunciation guide ("(ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl)") and it looks like the goobers at Yahoo or AP forgot the umlauts, too. From this point onward, the Fungus will call the damn thing "Mount WTF". (Except in quotations.)

Guess what?
...the last three times that Eyjafjallajokull erupted, Katla did as well.

Katla also typically awakens every 80 years or so, and having last exploded in 1918 is now slightly overdue.
Oh good. So if Katla goes off, it's not exactly unprecedented, and it's had 80 years to build up a good head of steam. The two volcanoes are interconnected.

Is 2010 going to be "the other year without a summer"? At least in Europe?

Hopefully the eruption of Mt. WTF will not trigger an eruption of Katla. 'Cause otherwise God alone knows what it'll do to the economy of Europe, and the eruption of Mt. WTF alone has caused enough trouble.

* * *

Well, my BakaBT ratio has improved to 0.231. I hope that's enough of an improvement to de-warn me.

Honestly, I thought that the damn torrents were seeding. It surprised me when I discovered they were not; and going through BakaBT's procedure for re-seeding torrents has enabled me to bump my ratio that far in a bit less than three days. So all I have to do is to follow that procedure for more torrents, and that should correct the problem.

I'm also limiting all my non-BakaBT torrents to a really tiny bit of upload bandwidth--10k each--in an effort to keep the BakaBT pipe wide open.

* * *

Yotsuba&! is not bad reading. I'm trying to figure out WTF is going on with Yotsuba--is she too young for primary school? As of halfway through volume 2 her age has not been given.

Reading /b/ has led me to read the name of the series as "Yotsubanned!". /b/tards write "b&" instead of "banned" when, for example, someone gets excluded from the board for misbehavior.

Well, no matter. I'm going to get more of it; it's good.

* * *

Well, today is "Earth Day". I plan to celebrate by mowing the lawn with a lawn tractor. See, I could mow the lawn using a walk-behind mower; it could even be done with an electric. But NO, I refuse to work that hard. Instead I will fire up the tractor with its giant 17.5 horsepower engine and let it burn all kinds of GASOLINE while I sit on my ASS and turn the steering wheel. HA HA FUCKING HA, econazis!

* * *

I don't understand how this happens: when I am playing Freecell--a program which is included with Windows Vista--the sound gets wonked up. Sometimes the speakers will abruptly emit a digital screech for no apparent reason; and even though I have the sound effects turned off, it keeps WinAmp from playing.

Guess I may need to find new drivers or something.

...but I've been thinking about replacing my sound card, because this one is not very good.

See, my last computer--the P3--had a Sound Blaster Live! which was excellent. Unfortunately it had digital outputs and the analog output sounded like shit; it had all kinds of noise in it. And the card in this machine--a "Creative SB X-Fi" card--is just as bad. The noise is obvious when there is no music playing, or during quiet passages. It's a "noise floor" issue.

It reminds me of the Commodore 64. I have recordings of music from various programs for that machine; under the music you can clearly hear the video update taking place--a kind of hissing tone, around 14 kHz, interrupted by the screen redraw. It goes kind of veesh-sheesh-sheesh-sheesh.

This computer, designed and built nearly 30 years later, makes almost the exact same sound.

(C-64: 1982. This machine: 2007. So, okay, 25 years later. Still.)

The Sound Blaster AWE-64 that I had in my Celeron machine made no analog noise. Or very little, anyway--an undetectable amount--and the same was true for the AWE-32 in the machine I had before that.

It's clearly some kind of crosstalk, but I have no idea if it's in the system bus or just propagating inductively from the video card. In any case I have no idea how to shield the audio card from video noise without overheating both of them and frying them into little inert lumps of carbon.

Hell: the C-64's video hardware was shielded, kept in an RF shield on the mainboard, precisely to keep the video noise to a minimum--and even then, it still got out.

Seriously, I think it's just bad engineering from Creative Labs: spending as little as possible on the digital-to-analog hardware because "no one uses analog anyway". Well, I'd already decided my next sound card would not come from Creative Labs, anyway.

#2033: BTW Earth Day

Boortz enumerates a bunch of predictions from the first Earth Day, in 1970--all of which turned out to be laughably untrue. The last quote predicts an ice age by 2000.

What makes us think their predictions of doomsday are any more possible than they were 40 years ago?

* * *

..."747 Dreamliner"...?

I think they meant 787 as the 747's engineering tests were finished in the late 1960s....

Cold-soaking an entire freakin' airliner--this is the kind of testing that has to be done on any large, complex machine to ensure nothing untoward happens. You don't want to discover that your airplane develops a tendency to crack when exposed to extreme cold, for example, when there are paying passengers aboard the thing at altitude. That would be bad.

* * *

There's so much wrong with this, where the hell do I begin?

Let's start with teachers mailing death threats. If you threaten someone with death--or even violence--that's a felony. Prosecute all who did this.

Second: fire every last one of them who misspelled anything.

If we really want to improve our educational system, we have to start with getting rid of the incompetents. Of course, the unions will never allow it. *sigh*

...the US educational system is utterly hopeless.

* * *

"I voted Democrat because...."

* * *

"US weighs Iran military option". I am not going to hold my breath waiting for Barack Hussein Obama to do anything to discourage Iran, military or otherwise, that would actually have some teeth in it.

* * *

I was thinking about movies today, and I realized that I just do not care about 99% of the movies which are released these days.

Avatar--bleah. Don't care.

...and then I thought, "You know, Cameron really missed an opportunity with that movie."

Instead of writing a one-dimensional plot with one-dimensional characters in order to justify spending millions on special effects, Cameron could have done something interesting: a documentary. Or travelogue.

He could have even made the exact same point he tried to make with Avatar. The documentary could have been all about this alien world Pandora, the animals and people which inhabit it; it could have included all the stuff about the unobtanium and the evil corporation and the nasty "redneck" military guys. And it would have been an infinitely better movie.

In the past year, out of God alone knows how many movies that were released, I've been interested in watching two of them: Watchmen and Iron Man. And that's it. Nothing else, not even the big SF SFX blockbuster of the year, appealed to me.

There are a ton of movies coming out all the time, and none of them looks interesting to me. I'm looking forward to Iron Man 2 but I'll wait for the DVD release; and in fact I'm intent on buying Sherlock Holmes sometime soon. Everything else just leaves me cold.

I know it's not me. It's Hollywood, reusing and recycling everything they can possibly get their hands on (a movie based on the Battleship board game? Are you freaking kidding me?) and churning out a bunch of crap that probably has the great movie directors of the past turning over in their graves.

Sherlock Holmes looks good because Robert Downey has found his acting voice, and I've always been a fan of the Holmes franchise anyway. Downey as Holmes has the potential for being entertaining, and the extended preview I saw of the movie made it look very good to me.

Unlike, say, the extended preview for Avatar, which just turned me off. Damn it, Cameron used to be able to make good SF movies--I mean good ones, movies which were actually serious SF and not just spec-fic or science fantasy (Aliens and Terminator 2 were hard SF)--and now he's a hack.

On the plus side, it saves me some money and time. I don't have to go see movies in the theater; buying the ones I want to see ends up being cheaper.

* * *

You know, the previous entry--the one about the eruption of Mt. WTF--has exactly the sort of tone I strive to use with all posts on the Fungus. Light, humorous, conversational, not too heavy. Fun to read. (At least for me.)

I don't always make it. Sometimes I'm not in the right mood; sometimes I'm posting about stuff that can't be presented that way. Oh well.

So I guess we'll just have to enjoy it while it lasts.

* * *

I was all ready to watch FlashForward, and right at 6:58 the gut fired off the big flashing "GUT MALF" warning sign, forcing me to spend the first ten minutes of the program in the bathroom. So I recorded the show and blogged. Now I am going to blog off and watch my damn show.

In the show tonight it's March 15, the day Demitri is supposed to die. I'll find out what happens; but I'm not going to comment on it here one way or the other.

* * *

The weather over the past several days has been a lot more like April is supposed to be. The temperatures have been in the upper 50s, dropping to the upper 30s at night.


* * *

Today I got the tractor out and mowed the grass; and I pruned back the pear tree, mainly cutting out a lot of deadwood. Mom wanted one live branch--a rather substantial one--removed in order to balance the tree better, so I hacked that one off, too. It all got dragged to the curb. That was my exercise for the day.

I'm a bit worried about what the heavy breathing of the cool, dry air did for my cough, but only a bit. Damn it, I should be getting better by now. It's been almost seven weeks since I got my cold.

While reading the second volume of Yotsuba&! I came across a story that was so funny I had to set the book down and do a lung-busting combination of laughing and coughing, but it wasn't as bad as it's been. It's "Yotsuba and the Frog", the story where Miura dresses up like the big scary eyeball thing to scare Yotsuba, and chaos ensues. Jesus did I laugh at that.

I really like Fuuka.

Yotsuba&! is definitely a must-buy. Go buy it and read it.