Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween and Blog Progress


Well, progress is a little slower than anticipated - looks like I'll be adding to this record for a little longer yet. Makes sense that I didn't get much of it done on the road. It's mostly picking through and prepping photos that takes the time.

Also, if you're checking back later for articles of interest, I thought I'd flesh out my tag system:
  • Anachronism (like Halloween in this case) - a post containing description of something occurring on a particular day that doesn't fit in with where I'm up to in my travel record
  • Travelogue - a basic "went here, saw this" post. Generally, if I did something on a specific day it'll be either this tag or the first.
  • Curiosities - may be standalone or alongside a "travelogue", but basically saying "I noticed a funny thing today".
  • Eng - some form of relation to engineering
  • Notes - a post that exists purely to list/itemise disconnected observations or "Curiosities"
  • Meta - a post about the blog
So... Halloween. My first real experience of it, save for the time a couple of groups of kids showed up at Drummond St and nobody knew what to do. Chris said "Wait, I just might..." and then disappeared, reappearing several minutes later with a tin labeled raspberry drops. Upon the triumphant opening of the lid, it became evident that the sweet red spheres had undergone significant polymerisation. With the Drummond St residents looking somewhat dismayed, the contents were still offered to the semi-patient kids somewhat sheepishly. I forget the resolution however.

But this time, it's real American Halloween! Our lovely landlords/upstairs residents suggested we might like to try our hands at pumpkin carving. What follows is a brief photographic depiction of the process.

San Diego - USS Midway Museum


Having left the mission, I went for a bit of a cruise through the Mission Bay area (see point C on the map linked in the title). As it turned out, the most interesting parts were navigating the freeway system and catching a small glimpse of the SD Sea World complex. Wetlands I'm aware are genuine natural reserves, but in this case stretches of green-brown around water dulled by the cloudy sky and criss-crossed by freeways didn't feel super photogenic. That and the difficulties of vantage points mainly being freeway bridges precluded much in the way of pictures.

Next stop however was the USS Midway Museum - aboard the retired USS Midway aircraft carrier. In contrast I've spent quite a bit of time thinning out photos from here. From the outside - it's difficult to get the scale of it into the pictures (the wiki article linked does have some good aerial shots though). Additionally the wide-angle lens tends to make things look a little shorter (both vertically and horizontally) but here it is...

In the wiki pictures the 3 configurations for the deck are pretty clear:
  • 1945 Straight deck with 18 5-inch 54 calibre guns + light defense
  • 1957 Angled deck (2.8 acres), 10 guns only, new steam catapults
  • 1970 Angled deck (4 acres), light defense only

First up is the crew quarters - in particular a comparison of enlisted and junior officer fit-outs:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More on Taps

In an earlier post on the constraints of hotel bathrooms, I lamented the scarcity of dual-input water sources in the US.

In the (well furnished) basement in which we now reside I present to you a wholly different animal. Look and lament ye unlucky.

So, now feeling more than fully resourced, I offer a contender for your "groaner of the day" - it never sprays but it pours?

The third spigot does have a reasonable use, but I invite you to suggest some more exotic potential applications.

San Diego - The Mission


So, my main day in San Diego. How to start but with the Mission San Diego de Alcalá - one of many notable Spanish settlement sites across Las Californias, and one of few-to-several that I would actually see. Also not so far from my Motel.

I'm not really in the mood for writing history (and if you're in the mood for reading it, there's always wiki). Hence, expect photos. Also, expect overexposed sky at the Mission.

The obligatory facade shot, compare to an earlier iteration:
The Mission San Diego

Andrew and Apples

(2/10/2010 and 4/11/2010)

Well, after much wrestling with analytical solutions for the volume of an expanding spherical flame within a pent roof combustion chamber (sound familiar anyone?) I decided that a change of pace for my brain might be nice. So here's a quick look at our new place during the chaos that arises when moving house and imminent international travel meet devoid of goodwill.

But first, a shot of a healthy snack being put to good engineering use as a visual aid (compare with this image of a cylinder head).

Now, Andrew St. The good:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Engineering Notes 1

H/Motel Spigots and Faucets
Generally, for a sink, shower or other wet area that requires water of varying temperatures one will install either two spigots mixing into a single faucet or a single "mixer" spigot and one faucet (these last two may be integrated). I'm ignoring the older style of two spigots and two faucets.

These two setups allow control of two oupts via two control inputs. Either:
  1. Temperature (T) and Flow (f) via Hot flow (H) and Cold Flow (C)
  2. Temperature (T) and Flow (f) via Hot/Cold Ratio (r) and Flow (f)
However many motels here seem to have gone a different route - simplify things for the guest by denying a variable, aka a mixer spigot with only one axis of rotation (off, then rotation from cold to hot). Indulge me in my MatLab presentation. Let's assume the hot source is 80degC and the cold 10degC. This leads to:
Normalising all input variables to the range [0,1] we can create the following:

Or as contours:
In any case, the bottom line is the hotel picks the flow (and it's generally pretty high, I prefer falling water over jets) and you don't get that "spiral staircase" (see contour) temperature discontinuity as you would with traditional home-brew water management

Jump for code...

Side Notes 1

Item 1: Automotive light systems
While Japanese-made and European-made cars on the whole seem to maintain the standards observed elsewhere in the world (aside from metric/imperial/US debates). However, locally-made vehicles often seem to exhibit the following symptoms:
  • Red indicators on the rear of the vehicle. Often these indicators are in fact the brake light (single side) activated through an indicator switch circuit
  • Indicators being activated as headlights (but still alternating for turning). They seem to replace the "park" lights at the front.
Item 2: Rotational light switches
I have to admit I tried a few things with these switches before I figure it out (pretty much all dimensions of force and a couple of rotation). Light switches with every 90deg rotation. I have also seen one fancier one to switch two lights - still every 90deg (Off-A-B-AB-Off).

Item 3: Toilets
The ones here seem to have significantly more water in the bowl. That is all.

LA to San Diego


This started with another pedestrian expedition, but this time to acquiesce to LA's preferred form of transport. I stopped nearby for a McDonald's breakfast (when in Rome?) but this wasn't really my first mistake. That was ordering the McGriddle. I just don't think I'm onboard with the American palate of sweet and salty. In short, a sweetened pancake with maple(like)-syrup was not what I wanted with bacon and eggs - they are just fine salty.

Skipping over some admin, organisation and packing I started to head for San Diego - but I thought it was important to go via Santa Monica (excuse the bleached hair and bad guitar mime), and Hollywood/Beverly Hills, and even more important to stop into Wal-Mart for the cheap GPSs available and recommended by Tien Mun (Indeed: $99, about 2/3 the cost of a new set of maps in Australia.)

Apart from checking a few recognisable place names off the list (eg Sunset Bvd) the most impressive place was the Hollywood hills - Jalmia Drv was the road I got to. I couldn't resist all the very squiggly lines on the GPS so I just drove until I got to a dead end. Lovely shady trees, windy roads, tight squeezes past UPS vans and vehement "no trespassing" signs were all beheld.

And then... to San Diego for a sleep.

The lack of photos until now is mainly evidence of the difficulty in photojournalism when:
- on roadtrip
- there are a lot of "No Parking" zones
- there is no accompanying BBC crew


LA, to be honest, never received too much of my attention. I had very little sleep while tidying up loose ends in Melbourne, and probably slightly less on the flight. Hence I didn't deal very well with arriving 4 hours before I left yet stunningly more tired.

Still, as it was morning and check in wasn't for a while I decided to go shopping for some basics. After leaving my bags in the Culver City hotel I headed for the Westfield centre I was told was nearby. I was aiming for sandals (due to how badly my feet were dealing with the heat in my hiking boots), groceries, SIM for my phone and general groceries to keep food costs down.

I headed for target for item one, and found that they seem to do groceries there too. That, and end-of-season sales meaning 75% off sandals from a 50% off price meant I did fairly well there. On the phone front, today was the first step of many in struggling to find phone dealers (and departments in department stores) who understood the concept of an unlocked phone/prepaid phone use and most importantly actually stocked SIM cards.


Essentially, due to the fact that traveling doesn't allow much time for writing and recording I took brief notes daily I hope to decompress them here.

First up is California...

(Oh yeah, and click headings of traveling posts for google maps recordings. You should see a tinyurl on mouseover - not this post.)