December 16th, 2017


Not surprisingly, NASA doesn't want to spend $1,500 million per launch, so they're requesting advice on how to save money. Their SLS--an old-fashioned, totally disposable launcher--runs a cool $1.5 billion per flight. That's being generous, as the conservative estimates only rise from there, to $2.5 billion per launch.

NASA is a textbook example of how government does things. I seem to recall that SpaceX has gotten to where they are spending $500 million, and that includes about 20 launches this year alone.

Further: SLS is supposed to have a payload of about 130 tons. That's good, that's Saturn V territory, but at $1,500 million per launch, it's simply cost-prohibitive. Meanwhile, if Falcon Heavy works, it will deliver about 50 tons to orbit for $90 million, so for the cost of one of NASA's SLS flights, you can launch sixteen Falcon Heavies, and have $60 million left over. Which sounds more efficient to you: 800 tons to orbit, or 130?

Government cannot do things efficiently. As you can see, the new tram system is a minute or so slower than walking, and that check wasn't even done at rush hour. I bet it's worse when there's lots of traffic.

...because it runs on rails set in the pavement, the same pavement used by cars and trucks and buses.


* * *

Today's tasks are myriad and assorted, but it's not even 11:30 yet and I've already got the errands out of the way. I need to change the Jeep's oil, then go do some shopping.

Last week's windstorm destroyed the fence in the front yard. To be fair it was already failing, so losing what was left of it was not terribly surprising. I'm going to tidy things up a bit, but I won't be replacing the fence until spring. The same windstorm ripped the lid off the post light such that I will be securing it to the thing with screws, and replacing the fixture come spring, as well.

* * *

Watching a video with plenty of wintertime fails in it, I'm reminded of the time a friend of mine and I wanted to go sledding after it snowed like crazy one year. The forest preserve with the sledding hill was closed (WTF Fungal Vale) so we went out to the woods near the bunker. There are some good hills there, and at the time an empty subdivision had just gone in, so we were able to park Dad's pickup truck nearby and had to hike only a short distance to the sledding hill. My friend's dog Diva, a shar pei, had come with us; and she was so excited to be out in the woods that upon reaching the bottom of the hill she leapt--with wild abandon--into the creek. The water was supercooled and snow had made a slushy layer across the top of the water, making it look like a solid surface. It wasn't. Sploosh.

Laughing, we took the poor dog back to the truck to get her out of the cold. As I recall we didn't sled very much because we were worried about the animal, so after a few runs we returned home. Still, a worthwhile outing.

* * *

Man, it's sunny out there.

#6032: 11,000 miles

Last changed the Jeep's oil in February. *sigh*

But it's done, and all fluids checked and topped up to boot. I then turned my attention to the front end, and NOW when I do the wiggle test I find there is play in the tie rods, enough to be detectable.

My plan now: at some point take an extra day off during the week, and replace all the control arm bushings and tie rod ends--all of them--then take the thing over for a front end alignment. If that does not fix the damned shimmy nothing will.

Probably in 2018, though.

* * *

We had dinner, after the play, at some high-end place on the same block as the theater. The food was magnificent.

We started by sharing a crab cake, served with tartar sauce which was made in-house. Next, wedge salads with actual real blue cheese dressing (if it tastes like spray paint, you know it's real). This stuff had obviously been made that day, also in house. Mrs. Fungus had some steak dish; I had something I can't remember the name of but was fresh pasta with italian sausage and some kind of parmesan sauce.

She had peppermint ice cream for dessert; I had tiramisu, and the worst part about it was that I couldn't eat all of it because I was too full from dinner. It did not help that it was probably the largest serving of tiramisu I'd ever been given.

Actual "fine dining", and the food was both delicious and generous. I ended up having my leftover pasta for lunch Friday, and just now I ate Mrs. Fungus' leftovers (at her suggestion last night). Even reheated in a microwave, this food was amazing.

* * *

I note here that I gauge the deliciousness of some foods by what toxic solvents I can taste. Blue cheese dressing by the amount of xylene and toluene I taste. Hot wings by the amount of ammonia I smell coming from them. Like that.

Of course I don't think those chemicals are actually present in significant quantity, but that's what I sense, so that's what I call it. If it were "pepper" or "bread" or "carpeting" or something, I'd call it that.

Also--noticed, while making sure it was "blue" and not "bleu", that the mold in blue cheese is penicillium which--you guessed it--was the source of the first antibiotic. Thought it was bread mold all this time....

* * *

It looks as if my (admittedly ambitious) task list for today will not get handled in its entirety. Specifically, the shopping I wanted to do looks like it's not happening. That's okay; I expect Mrs. Fungus will want to sleep in tomorrow (I had a nap today after the first post went up) and I can go shopping while she does that. Work is close to the Yorktown Mall and I expect to do a little shopping there after work one or two of the days this week, as well.

So, what the hell: I'll get my house chores done today and do a couple hours of shopping tomorrow.

Of course we're going to go buy a Christmas tree tomorrow, too, but I don't expect that to take all day nor do I expect it to happen before 2 PM at the earliest--and probably later, because this has been a long week for her and she needs the sleep.

* * *

Meanwhile, the new switch seems to be working well enough, though it has not alleviated YouTube's maddening tendency to buffer at random times, mostly when I'm trying to skip forward through a video. This one's a gigabit switch, which matches (at least theoretically) the speed of the Ethernet ports on our computers. The 100 megabit switch was enough since Comcast gives us around 90 Mbit/s, and we split that, but I've wanted a gigabit switch since I started doing wired connections here--so here we are. (Bought the last one Sep 30, 2011, so it was due for replacement anyway.)

* * *

So: the fence post closest to the house died completely. I took that section out and used the bottom board from that one to replace the top board from the next one over. The main post and the remaining fence post are both solid enough, so it'll be fine like that until next spring, when I redo the whole damned thing anyway.

I might reskin the light post--put a new box around it, using treated wood. And instead of cutting semicircles for the top plate, use a single piece of wood and cut the hole with a hole saw, just big enough for the post itself, and then caulk around it.

Regardless, I intend to enclose the yard by the house, the way it was originally. Come spring--before the tulips can sprout--I want to clear out the sumac trees and rototill the tulip beds to clear away the grass and other nonsense. Wait for the tulips to sprout, then lay down porous barrier and mulch to (hopefully) curtail the weeds a bit, or at least make them easier to identify and pull out quicker.

Landscaping is going to be the big job for next year. Landscaping, and I'd like to sealcoat the driveway if I could.

And once the fence is taken care of, I need to give some attention to the columns on the front porch (which, fortunately, are not structural) and re-glaze the windows around the front door--all of them.