Monday, June 30, 2008

Response To A Comment by WaterNotOil

I received the following comment on my "Honda Commercial" blog post rant.
WaterNotOil said:
Are you trying to spread disinformation?? Water vapor harmful? Do you have ties to the oil industry? Even if we entertained for a second that water vapor from a car was bad, (forgetting about that lake or ocean or puddle outside that is producing water vapor through evaporation) If you run the exhaust across a cooling plate it turns directly into water. What kind of propaganda are you trying to spread, by encouraging people to think water vapor is bad?
Dear Water Not Oil, thanks for taking the time to comment. I really mean that.

I wasn’t trying to spread disinformation.

I was, in my own pathetic way, trying to ask something very similar to what you asked me in your comment when you said...Water vapor harmful?

My whole blog post entitled Honda Commercial could be summed up similarly by changing one word:

"Carbon harmful?"

Carbon is every bit as natural as water vapor. Why is the production of carbon in machinery considered bad and/or evil, while production of water vapor by machinery considered good and/or harmless?

Stop and think about that for a minute.

In my pissed-off-ed-ness, and sarcasm, I was trying to point out a simple downfall of the whole global warming scare as put forth by so-called specialists like Al Gore and James Hansen. They make the claim the carbon is bad, although any person who actually looks at the charts in An Inconvenient Truth for themselves will find that increases in carbon in the atmosphere FOLLOWS the rise in temperature, NOT precedes it as Al Gore tries to imply.

Carbon is what all life on earth is based on, and is every bit as natural as water, and water vapor.

So all the focus is being put on carbon by the global warming alarmists and it is a tiny, tiny, tiny portion of our atmosphere. By comparison, water vapor is THE most abundant “greenhouse gas” that is in the earth’s atmosphere, and that creating a whole range of machinery that emits water vapor instead of carbon will have much more of the effect that Gore/Hansen claim for carbon in our atmosphere, yet water vapor is considered OK and harmless.

I’m just using the logic of Gore/Hansen here, and showing the folly and silliness we can so easily get caught up in.

If you feel I was feeding disinformation, you are free to feel that way, but I stand by my logic, even if I was heavy handed in explaining it. If carbon is bad and more carbon is worse, then water vapor a nightmare too and will lead to more drastic greenhouse effects. That is, IF, IF, IF, what the Gore/Hansens of the world are accurate in their scary predictions of what will happen if carbon is increased. Simply switching from production of one greenhouse gas to another, each naturally occurring, is not buying us ANYTHING.

Make no assumption that I hate the earth and see no benefit in conservation, I believe we truly are stewards of all that we touch, and believe that recycling and other measures are just plain good sense, but the things that the Gore/Hansens of the world suggest we do will absolutely cripple our economy with their onerous taxes and yet global warming is nowhere near being the “consensus” that Vice President Gore claims. The IPCC warning on global warming used the input of 2500 scientists, a small but significant fraction of whom have taken action to have their names removed from the report because the report was actually written before the data were assembled and gone through, and that the dissenter's data was, in their view, misused for political purposes. In other words, the non-scientists of the IPCC created the final report before the data were in and collated. They had decided what they wanted to write BEFORE the data was assembled!

A little over one month ago (May, 2008), a paper refuting the claims of global warming was signed by 31, 000 scientists, 9,000 of whom are Phds. The IPCC paper by the United Nations pales in comparison.

Al Gore’s “consensus,” if it exists, is actually in the direction of refuting global warming, not supporting its claims.

In the end, in my blog post, I was just trying to point out how silly we’ve gotten by falling for the claims that carbon is bad while water vapor is considered good. If there is any truth at all to the global warming scare, it follows that emitting more water vapor instead of carbon will intensify the effects of global warming quite possibly more rapidly than increasing carbon output.

And the bottom line for me, is that folks like Al Gore live their lives making GIGANTIC carbon “footprints.” If they believed even ten percent of what they claim to be true about global warming, they’d conserve in their own lives. But they don’t. They are bigger hypocrites than any politician or tv evangelist you could possibly name. If they truly believed what they say, they’d live like it; their hypocritical lifestyles speak louder than their false claims from their speeches given all over the world (after being flown there on carbon-spewing private jets).

I’m just sorry that millions of Americans have fallen for Al Gore’s and James Hansen’s lies and are willing to cripple America’s economy with onerous “carbon taxes” while China and India bring on-line an average of 2 coal-fired power plants per week, FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS; way out stripping any efforts we could possibly do to lower carbon emissions.

I believe that both carbon AND water vapor are natural, and neither is to be feared.

As to my ties to the oil industry, both my father and my maternal grandfather made their livings as men who worked on oil drilling and oil production rigs in Louisiana and offshore from Louisiana and Texas. Both men, sadly, are dead, but were hard working and honorable men.

Other than their livelihoods which put food on our tables for me to eat while growing up, I have no ties to the oil industry, unless of course, my 401K invests in oil companies, but I'm not sure about that. So at best, it's a small "maybe."

But as to my opinion of oil companies, I believe they are not evil. I do not hate oil companies or the oil they get from the ground, and I do not hate products made from oil.

Sadly, there is no other form of energy available today that matches oil and nuclear power, pound for pound. Our entire world economy requires the energy that, at least for today, only oil can supply.

We have enough oil in the earth for many generations to come, and I truly believe that at some point, better energy alternatives will be found, but until then we need to drill for and get the oil to use.

Solar energy, battery technology, and wind and hydroelectric power are nowhere near enough to supply, dollar for dollar, the energy output of oil and nuclear power plants.

Simply put, I believe we should drill for our own oil for energy and for the security of America, and also build nuclear power plants. It's either that or coal. Take your pick.

And then one day, maybe when I'm an old man, or when my grandkids are old, some other, cleaner forms of energy will take over. I welcome that day with open arms.

Until then, I welcome oil and nuclear power with open arms.

But that's just me. If you disagree, then I guess we'll have to be satisfied that our votes in national elections cancel one another out.

Oh, and if the water vapor from lakes and the ocean make water vapor OK, then all the carbon that each and every living mammal on the planet exhales with each breath makes carbon alright to produce. Again, both are natural, and neither is evil.

Also remember that too high a concentration of oxygen is poisonous for us to breathe, just as is too high a concentration of carbon.

Killing our economy to lower carbon emissions is, to me, silly. Carbon is no more "wrong" than many other naturally occurring things around us.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Honda Commercial

The other day I saw a television commercial in which Honda proudly announces they they are working on a new car which will only emit water vapor from the exhaust pipe.

"No more carbon from the tail pipe of your car! Water vapor instead, isn't that great?", they seem to imply.

This kind of thing just infuriates me. It's this kind of stupidity that's gonna give me a heart attack if anything does.

Environmental wackos like James Hansen, the Goddard Space Science Institute guy who is a totally sold out believer in the man-made global warming "crisis", last week made headlines for warning the world that we only have 20 years left to "fix" the invironment.

Problem is, Mr. Hansen made his speech a week or so ago in celebration of a speech he made 20 YEARS AGO, where he basically said the very same thing (that we only had 20 years to fix the planet) before Congress.

The only problem is that, here we are, 20 years later, and he's telling us we only have 20 more years before the planet dies, and THIS TIME he means it!

If his speech 20 years ago was so wonderful, so prophetic, why are we still here? Why haven't we and the earth died? Because knuckleheads like James Hansen were wrong 20 years ago and he an Al Gore are still wrong about it. "It" being man-made global warming.

Prophetic? No, more like, pathetic.

And for years Al Gore and James Hansen and their gullible minions have lamented and preached to us that we should fear carbon.

Must reduce your carbon footprint.

Must reduce our output of carbon.

Carbon is killing the planet.

The only problem is that the carbon in the atmosphere that they are referring to is only 380 parts per million, in other words, NEGLIGIBLE!


The amount of water vapor in our air dwarfs the amount of carbon in the air. If the so-called greenhouse gasses are bad for the earth and for us, why are car manufacturers like Honda bragging about a new car that emits water vapor, the most plentiful greenhouse gas?

The answer is that they are just trying to sell cars.

Honda has gotten the message from the Al Gores and the James Hansens of the world and from the morons who have fallen for their man-made global warming scare and in particular that carbon in any form is bad, and they went and figured out a way to make a car that emits only water vapor as exhaust.

A car that emits only water vapor as exhaust, isn't that wonderful? Shouldn't we all go out and buy one?

Well, not if you truly believe that man is causing global warming by using cars that produce greenhouse gasses.

Because if you trade in your car that produces carbon (a tiny, tiny percentage of the greenhouse gasses in our air), and buy a car than instead produces water vapor (THE most plentiful greenhouse gas in the earth's air) you've just moved in the direction of increasing greenhouse gasses even more than before and you will bring on global warming even faster than you would have with your SUV belching carbon!

People can be so stupid and so gullible.

Y'all go think about it while I go try to calm down.

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Picture Post, Sunday June 22, 2008

Our property taxes at work. These sure are some fancy-shmancy new bathrooms on the beach here. We've stayed in hotels that weren't as nice as these dramatic, red-tile roofed bathrooms.

There are still a number of old-school, privately owned hotels here on the beach. Not the big name chain hotels. I liked the look of this one. It was freshly painted and really looked to be a nice place.

Step on up to the boardwalk for a nice walk along the beach. I absolutely cannot accurately judge distances, but I'd guess the boardwalk here to be about half a mile long. Of course, if you don't mind sand, you can walk to Miami or Maine on the beach itself.

More of our property taxes at work. A nice volleyball setup WITH BLEACHERS!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Pride of Tangipahoa Parish

Well, looks like Jamie Lynn Spears done gone and popped dat baby out. (Photo by: Mauceri / Adao / INF)

A little girl named Maddie Briann (Lord, please let that middle name be pronounced "bree-ann" and not "bry-un" like a boy's name.)

Word has it that "Mama to the Stars", and new grandma, Lynne is still P-Oed (angry) that her book on how she was such a great mother was not published after Britney's and Jamie Lynn's rebellion and determination to live like trailer trash made headlines around the world.

I really don't care about this all that much, but jumped at the chance to create a blog post with the name of my third favorite Louisiana parish name in the title. (The Spears make their home in Kentwood, La., in Tangipahoa parish.)

But at least the baby and mama are healthy, and will hopefully stay that way if Grandma Lynne doesn't kill them both in a fit of remorse over her squashed literary career.

And also Jamie Lynn earned her G.E.D., so that's also a positive.


Oh. What are my two favorite Louisiana parish names?

1. Lafourche (la-FOOSH) parish, because it sounds like the sound a commode makes when you flush it.
2. Natchitoches (NAK-uh-tish) parish, way up there on the "don't-sound-nothin'-like-it's-spelled" scale, and made famous as the locale for the movie Steel Magnolias, which all women love and all men hate. (In which Julia Roberts dies, wuh-hoo.)

I also like Plaquemines (PLAK-uh-min) parish a lot, because it's fun to say. Try it. PLAK-uh-min. That's right. Fun, ain't it?

And finally, it's hard to dislike Ouachita (WASH-i-taw) parish, where I grew up in Monroe, for sheer difficulty in pronunciation because it's not pronounced anything like it's spelled, similar to Natchitoches.

So you can see, the state of Louisiana itself is pretty screwed up, almost as screwed up as those of us from there.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The World Is Crazy

Japanese 'cannibal killer' executed in Tokyo (photo credit:(Jiji Press/AFP/Getty)

Personally, I think that they should have let the guy continue killing cannibals.

There are way too many cannibals in the world today, and this man was clearly doing something to benefit society by being a cannibal killer.

I'd be a cannibal killer myself if if weren't for examples like this, where the killer of ee-VIL cannibals was himself put to death instead of the cannibals.

Cannibals have way too many rights in today's world.

But I obviously love it when headlines are easier read one way than the intended meaning. Remember the optical illusion where the stairs look to be going up or maybe down depending on your point of view? I always liked things like that.

Folks, seriously. It's either my lame attempts at humor, or I'd have to whine and moan about Barak Obama or John McCain. At least an attempted joke has the potential to make y'all smile where our two main candidates for President would result in only wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hate High Gasoline Prices? Then Punch an Environmentalist!

Global Warming and the Price of a Gallon of Gas
by John Coleman (Founder of The Weather Channel)

You may want to give credit where credit is due to Al Gore and his global warming campaign the next time you fill your car with gasoline, because there is a direct connection between Global Warming and four dollar a gallon gas. It is shocking, but true, to learn that the entire Global Warming frenzy is based on the environmentalist’s attack on fossil fuels, particularly gasoline. All this big time science, international meetings, thick research papers, dire threats for the future; all of it, comes down to their claim that the carbon dioxide in the exhaust from your car and in the smoke stacks from our power plants is destroying the climate of planet Earth. What an amazing fraud; what a scam.

The future of our civilization lies in the balance.

That’s the battle cry of the High Priest of Global Warming Al Gore and his fellow, agenda driven disciples as they predict a calamitous outcome from anthropogenic global warming. According to Mr. Gore the polar ice caps will collapse and melt and sea levels will rise 20 feet inundating the coastal cities making 100 million of us refugees. Vice President Gore tells us numerous Pacific islands will be totally submerged and uninhabitable. He tells us global warming will disrupt the circulation of the ocean waters, dramatically changing climates, throwing the world food supply into chaos. He tells us global warming will turn hurricanes into super storms, produce droughts, wipe out the polar bears and result in bleaching of coral reefs. He tells us tropical diseases will spread to mid latitudes and heat waves will kill tens of thousands. He preaches to us that we must change our lives and eliminate fossil fuels or face the dire consequences. The future of our civilization is in the balance.

With a preacher’s zeal, Mr. Gore sets out to strike terror into us and our children and make us feel we are all complicit in the potential demise of the planet.

Here is my rebuttal.

There is no significant man made global warming. There has not been any in the past, there is none now and there is no reason to fear any in the future. The climate of Earth is changing. It has always changed. But mankind’s activities have not overwhelmed or significantly modified the natural forces.

Through all history, Earth has shifted between two basic climate regimes: ice ages and what paleoclimatologists call “Interglacial periods”. For the past 10 thousand years the Earth has been in an interglacial period. That might well be called nature’s global warming because what happens during an interglacial period is the Earth warms up, the glaciers melt and life flourishes. Clearly from our point of view, an interglacial period is greatly preferred to the deadly rigors of an ice age. Mr. Gore and his crowd would have us believe that the activities of man have overwhelmed nature during this interglacial period and are producing an unprecedented, out of control warming.

Well, it is simply not happening. Worldwide there was a significant natural warming trend in the 1980’s and 1990’s as a Solar cycle peaked with lots of sunspots and solar flares. That ended in 1998 and now the Sun has gone quiet with fewer and fewer Sun spots, and the global temperatures have gone into decline. Earth has cooled for almost ten straight years. So, I ask Al Gore, where’s the global warming?

The cooling trend is so strong that recently the head of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had to acknowledge it. He speculated that nature has temporarily overwhelmed mankind’s warming and it may be ten years or so before the warming returns. Oh, really. We are supposed to be in a panic about man-made global warming and the whole thing takes a ten year break because of the lack of Sun spots. If this weren’t so serious, it would be laughable.

Now allow me to talk a little about the science behind the global warming frenzy. I have dug through thousands of pages of research papers, including the voluminous documents published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I have worked my way through complicated math and complex theories. Here’s the bottom line: the entire global warming scientific case is based on the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels. They don’t have any other issue. Carbon Dioxide, that’s it.

Hello Al Gore; Hello UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Your science is flawed; your hypothesis is wrong; your data is manipulated. And, may I add, your scare tactics are deplorable. The Earth does not have a fever. Carbon dioxide does not cause significant global warming.

The focus on atmospheric carbon dioxide grew out a study by Roger Revelle who was an esteemed scientist at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute. He took his research with him when he moved to Harvard and allowed his students to help him process the data for his paper. One of those students was Al Gore. That is where Gore got caught up in this global warming frenzy. Revelle’s paper linked the increases in carbon dioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere with warming. It labeled CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

Charles Keeling, another researcher at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute, set up a system to make continuous CO2 measurements. His graph of these increases has now become known as the Keeling Curve. When Charles Keeling died in 2005, his son David, also at Scripps, took over the measurements. Here is what the Keeling curve shows: an increase in CO2 from 315 parts per million in 1958 to 385 parts per million today, an increase of 70 parts per million or about 20 percent.

All the computer models, all of the other findings, all of the other angles of study, all come back to and are based on CO2 as a significant greenhouse gas. It is not.

Here is the deal about CO2, carbon dioxide. It is a natural component of our atmosphere. It has been there since time began. It is absorbed and emitted by the oceans. It is used by every living plant to trigger photosynthesis. Nothing would be green without it. And we humans; we create it. Every time we breathe out, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is not a pollutant. It is not smog. It is a naturally occurring invisible gas.

Let me illustrate. I estimate that this square in front of my face contains 100,000 molecules of atmosphere. Of those 100,000 only 38 are CO2; 38 out of a hundred thousand. That makes it a trace component. Let me ask a key question: how can this tiny trace upset the entire balance of the climate of Earth? It can’t. That’s all there is to it; it can’t.

The UN IPCC has attracted billions of dollars for the research to try to make the case that CO2 is the culprit of run-away, man-made global warming. The scientists have come up with very complex creative theories and done elaborate calculations and run computer models they say prove those theories. They present us with a concept they call radiative forcing. The research organizations and scientists who are making a career out of this theory, keep cranking out the research papers. Then the IPCC puts on big conferences at exotic places, such as the recent conference in Bali. The scientists endorse each other’s papers, they are summarized and voted on, and viola, we are told global warming is going to kill us all unless we stop burning fossil fuels.

May I stop here for a few historical notes? First, the internal combustion engine and gasoline were awful polluters when they were first invented. And, both gasoline and automobile engines continued to leave a layer of smog behind right up through the 1960’s. Then science and engineering came to the environmental rescue. Better exhaust and ignition systems, catalytic converters, fuel injectors, better engineering throughout the engine and reformulated gasoline have all contributed to a huge reduction in the exhaust emissions from today’s cars. Their goal then was to only exhaust carbon dioxide and water vapor, two gases widely accepted as natural and totally harmless. Anyone old enough to remember the pall of smog that used to hang over all our cities knows how much improvement there has been. So the environmentalists, in their battle against fossil fuels and automobiles had a very good point forty years ago, but now they have to focus almost entirely on the once harmless carbon dioxide. And, that is the rub. Carbon dioxide is not an environmental problem; they just want you now to think it is.

Numerous independent research projects have been done about the greenhouse impact from increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. These studies have proven to my total satisfaction that CO2 is not creating a major greenhouse effect and is not causing an increase in temperatures. By the way, before his death, Roger Revelle coauthored a paper cautioning that CO2 and its greenhouse effect did not warrant extreme countermeasures.

So now it has come down to an intense campaign, orchestrated by environmentalists claiming that the burning of fossil fuels dooms the planet to run-away global warming. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a myth.

So how has the entire global warming frenzy with all its predictions of dire consequences, become so widely believed, accepted and regarded as a real threat to planet Earth? That is the most amazing part of the story.

To start with global warming has the backing of the United Nations, a major world force. Second, it has the backing of a former Vice President and very popular political figure. Third it has the endorsement of Hollywood, and that’s enough for millions. And, fourth, the environmentalists love global warming. It is their tool to combat fossil fuels. So with the environmentalists, the UN, Gore and Hollywood touting Global Warming and predictions of doom and gloom, the media has scrambled with excitement to climb aboard. After all the media loves a crisis. From YK2 to killer bees the media just loves to tell us our lives are threatened. And the media is biased toward liberal, so it’s pre-programmed to support Al Gore and UN. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press and here in San Diego The Union Tribune are all constantly promoting the global warming crisis.

So who is going to go against all of that power? Not the politicians. So now the President of the United States, just about every Governor, most Senators and most Congress people, both of the major current candidates for President, most other elected officials on all levels of government are all riding the Al Gore Global Warming express. That is one crowded bus.

I suspect you haven’t heard it because the mass media did not report it, but I am not alone on the no man-made warming side of this issue. On May 20th, a list of the names of over thirty-one thousand scientists who refute global warming was released. Thirty-one thousand of which 9,000 are Ph.ds. Think about that. Thirty-one thousand. That dwarfs the supposed 2,500 scientists on the UN panel. In the past year, five hundred of scientists have issued public statements challenging global warming. A few more join the chorus every week. There are about 100 defectors from the UN IPCC. There was an International Conference of Climate Change Skeptics in New York in March of this year. One hundred of us gave presentations. Attendance was limited to six hundred people. Every seat was taken. There are a half dozen excellent internet sites that debunk global warming. And, thank goodness for KUSI and Michael McKinnon, its owner. He allows me to post my comments on global warming on the website Following the publicity of my position form Fox News, Glen Beck on CNN, Rush Limbaugh and a host of other interviews, thousands of people come to the website and read my comments. I get hundreds of supportive emails from them. No I am not alone and the debate is not over.

In my remarks in New York I speculated that perhaps we should sue Al Gore for fraud because of his carbon credits trading scheme. That remark has caused a stir in the fringe media and on the internet. The concept is that if the media won’t give us a hearing and the other side will not debate us, perhaps we could use a Court of law to present our papers and our research and if the Judge is unbiased and understands science, we win. The media couldn’t ignore that. That idea has become the basis for legal research by notable attorneys and discussion among global warming debunkers, but it’s a long way from the Court room.

I am very serious about this issue. I think stamping out the global warming scam is vital to saving our wonderful way of life.

The battle against fossil fuels has controlled policy in this country for decades. It was the environmentalist’s prime force in blocking any drilling for oil in this country and the blocking the building of any new refineries, as well. So now the shortage they created has sent gasoline prices soaring. And, it has lead to the folly of ethanol, which is also partly behind the fuel price increases; that and our restricted oil policy. The ethanol folly is also creating a food crisis throughput the world – it is behind the food price rises for all the grains, for cereals, bread, everything that relies on corn or soy or wheat, including animals that are fed corn, most processed foods that use corn oil or soybean oil or corn syrup. Food shortages or high costs have led to food riots in some third world countries and made the cost of eating out or at home budget busting for many.

So now the global warming myth actually has lead to the chaos we are now enduring with energy and food prices. We pay for it every time we fill our gas tanks. Not only is it running up gasoline prices, it has changed government policy impacting our taxes, our utility bills and the entire focus of government funding. And, now the Congress is considering a cap and trade carbon credits policy. We the citizens will pay for that, too. It all ends up in our taxes and the price of goods and services.

So the Global warming frenzy is, indeed, threatening our civilization. Not because global warming is real; it is not. But because of the all the horrible side effects of the global warming scam.

I love this civilization. I want to do my part to protect it.

If Al Gore and his global warming scare dictates the future policy of our governments, the current economic downturn could indeed become a recession, drift into a depression and our modern civilization could fall into an abyss. And it would largely be a direct result of the global warming frenzy.

My mission, in what is left of a long and exciting lifetime, is to stamp out this Global Warming silliness and let all of us get on with enjoying our lives and loving our planet, Earth.

(Find this article at:

This is EXACTLY how I feel about the global warming hoax. Mr. Coleman put every main opposing thought I ever had about this false religion of global warming (and I truly believe it is a religion) into words in one beautiful piece of plain-spoken writing. (The church of global warming even has their own form of Papal indulgences sold by the Catholic church in the middle ages to allow the rich to buy salvation, only the church of global warming call their indulgences "carbon credits." Same stupidity, different century.)

Mr. Coleman's words here reflect my views on man-made (anthropogenic) global warming perfectly.

Thank you John Coleman!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Satellite Antennas

I don't talk much about most of my work; I'm not suppose to.

But a big part of the products we design and build are for commercial, or public, non-secretive applications. And it's OK to talk about these things, though I must admit that the closed mouth becomes such a habit, that I rarely talk about even the unsecure stuff. (When I actually do talk about my work at home, my family always asks if I'm going to have to kill them after I tell them my story.)

While we design and build a lot of different things, almost all of our products have to do with electronic communications.

What I do, specifically, is that I work as part of teams of engineers to design, prototype, test, and finally produce the digital circuit cards and their enclosures that are then used in satellite communications systems.

A satellite buzzing about the earth in space is the most persnickety piece of the satellite system, simply because once it is in space there is generally no way to fix it if something goes wrong or doesn't work.

A satellite may cost thirty million dollars, but if it gets into space and then doesn't work when they try to start using it, or if it breaks down before it's estimated life span is complete, then that's a lot of money down the drain, not to mention the loss of a much needed satellite.

All the ground equipment that is used to direct the satellite, and communicate through the satellite, the stuff I work with, costs many millions more, but if something is broke on earth, it's where we can get our hands on the broken part or parts and either repair or replace them. This is my personal bread and butter; many engineers like the design and prototyping of new circuit cards, but HATE to try to debug and repair broken circuit cards.

I happen to like the troubleshooting and repairing just as much as the design aspects, and I therefore end up working on programs much longer than many of the other engineers that started the program or programs with me. They want to move on to a new design phase somewhere else, and I stay until the bitter end and help work out all the kinks that inevitably show up in the circuit cards.

One of the coolest parts of a satellite communication system is the antenna that ends up on the "bird" or satellite.

For the sake of limited space and weight capabilities, satellite antennas have come to mostly use an unfurlable, metal mesh antenna. Folded, it takes up little space on the rocket, and when the satellite is in it's final orbit, the ground system folks will command the antenna to open up.

The company I work for is the antenna designer and builder or choice for many big name companies that are responsible for the building of the entire satellite.

Recently, Loral Space Systems put a new commercial communications satellite into orbit, and while everyone held their breaths, the Harris Corporation made antenna was successfully deployed (opened and began working correctly).

There is a five minute video on our company web site, of this antenna being deployed in space. It has an initial animated video produced to show what the antenna is supposed to do, and then from two different cameras on the satellite in space, it shows the actual opening of the real antenna in space this past April.

The video is five minutes long, if your computer has a connection fast enough to watch video.

Also, the company has a neat brochure (in color!) of the antennas, including the type that is illustrated in the video, in a .pdf file if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer. This is the best option if you can't watch video on your system because of the slowness of a dial-up connection.

Anyway, there are no brochures with neat color pictures of the circuit cards I actually work on, that would be painfully boring, but the antenna is the neatest looking and most glamorous part of a sat-comm system. Antennas are what passes for glitz in the satellite communications world.

Here's the link to the Loral satellite with the Harris Corp. antenna opening up.

Here's the link to the Acrobat file (.pdf) from Harris, showing our antenna products.

I recommend that you at least look at the brochure (lots of color! pictures, very little reading) and near the end it shows the huge anechoic chambers and clean rooms on site here where they test the antennas before delivery to be added to a satellite. The brochure also has an aerial view of our company's main "campus" in Palm Bay, with the massive buildings containing the test chambers pointed out for you.

The picture at the top of the post, shows all the digital and software engineers that were part of a program to produce the digital (baseband) portion of a mobile satellite terminal I worked on a few years ago. I'm second from the right end.

This picture below, is the same mobile unit as it is used in the field.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Why Is It That....?

The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches.

That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tram ways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tram ways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's (behind) came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.

Thus, we have the answer to the original question.

Now the twist to the story...! There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds.

When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a Horse's (behind).

And you wonder why we are the way we are...!

(I read this on someone's web site and got a kick out of it. Thought y'all might too.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mirror, Mirror...

Years ago, in an office move where I work, the desk that became mine had, in one of it's drawers, a nice little mirror of about 5x7inches that a previous user had left.

Now, I'm a person that avoids looking in the mirror as much as possible, but I have kept that mirror with me and on the rare occasion there was a spur of the moment call for a meeting, I could comb my hair real quick-like and show up as presentable as is possible when you look like me.

A few weeks ago at home, Lovely Wife mentioned that she'd like to have a small mirror in her bedside table for the odd bedside makeup routine or what have you, and I told her I'd bring mine home and let her have it, and that it would be perfect for what she's talking about. It has it's own stand similar to a self-standing picture frame and also folds flat for putting away in a drawer.

Well, yesterday, I finally remembered the mirror and went to put it into my lunch tote thingamajig, and as I was heading there, I passed a coworker.

Sometimes, an idea strikes you and you take action without even thinking of the possible consequences, but you do the deed and then it's too late, ya know? You just hope it doesn't cause trouble.

Anyway, I'm walking past my coworker and say, "Hey, Rick. Wanna see something SCARY?"

He looks at me and smiles and says, "Yeah."

So I simply hold up the mirror to where he's looking at his own reflection, and he is startled for about one second and then just busts out laughing.


Good thing ol' Rick's an easygoing guy.

I could have easily offended some other person. And that truly came out of me before I could even consider whether or not I should do it.

All's well that ends well, I guess.

Sometimes I just crack me up.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Picture Post, Sunday June 1, 2008

Howdy. I went to the doctor this week for a checkup, and while my cholesterol was only 140, my blood pressure is way out of whack and could be a big part of why I've had such a tough time the past few months with no energy and little desire to do anything more than just exist. My blood pressure medicine was adjusted and after only a couple of days am starting to feel a bit better. Nothing miraculous, but an improvement, so I'll take it.

I was also concerned about my liver since I have taken a lot of pain medicine over the past few years, but my "liver numbers look great too" so I'm relieved with that and the amazing cholesterol level. I wasn't too awful worried about it because I only take medicine as directed to, but I still like to know things are working ok inside me.

This first photo pretty much speaks for itself. Just a gorgeous orangey sky one evening overlooking the Indian River Lagoon and the Florida mainland.

Someone went through the trouble of picking a few seashells on the beach and then left them on the handrail part of the boardwalk along the ocean in Indialantic, Florida. Perfect "found" items for photographing though.

Loggerhead turtles are coming ashore and leaving their eggs. All along the beach, home owners cannot use white porch lights because the turtles head straight for them (and high traffic beach areas bad for hatchlings). Home owners can use low wattage yellow lights on their porches though. This sign on at public light pole reminds us that we can't count on it for light once it gets dark for a couple of month every year.

A big ol' yaller flar on a bush by the ocean. (Translation: A large yellow flower caught my eye by the ocean one evening.)

A view of the boardwalk along the Atlantic in Indialantic, Florida. This is a nice park but you best not leave your purse in your car (even if it's out of sight). We learned the hard way that Ford vehicles, trucks and cars, have a door lock that can be easily beaten by ramming a screw driver into the door's keyhole. The lock just pops right open and they can be in and out of your car in seconds. The police told Lovely Wife that Fords are favorite targets of thieves for that reason.

Have a great Sunday, folks.