Message Update

Written by Burl on April 5th, 2011

My tech-head buddy Dan Hermon was tickled by this message on a Mac he was, ahem, updating. Oh yeah, it was my Mac!


Caption Contest for April

Written by Burl on April 5th, 2011

It’s the first Tuesday of the month, time for the Caption Contest! The winner will be posted here next week.


Space Babe!

Written by Burl on April 4th, 2011

Curiosity and Emily Lakdawalla

You might not know it, but Emily Lakdawalla, whose Planetary Society blog is listed at right and is a must-read for space wonks like myself, also happens to be a total babe. Here she is visiting the Curiosity rover, which is scheduled to lift off this fall and land on Mars next summer. This baby learns from the lessons of Spirit and Opportunity and is many times bigger and more powerful. I’m talking about the robot rover! I know, you can’t take your eyes off of Emily.


Sunday Matinee: Guilty

Written by Burl on April 3rd, 2011


Flashback File: Odd Jobs

Written by Burl on March 31st, 2011

Gayla Gould, Waikiki Sales

I’m testing my new PlusTek scanner, as my collection of negatives are in pretty rocky shape. The old polypropelene PhotoSleeves are rotting away! These two “environmental portraits” were part of a newspaper series of workplace personalities. Above is my high school friend Gayla Gould, then working as a sales-kiosk girl in a Waikiki hotel lobby, and below is former television reporter Carolyn Tanaka. These are likely from 1977.

Carolyn Tanaka, television reporter


Home Repair: Digging a Hole

Written by Burl on March 30th, 2011

First, I should explain this little project. I need to run PVC pipes under a walk area to supply electricity to a separate building (which isn’t built yet). The back of the garage is the logical place to run the pipes. When we moved in, the garage slab was at ground level. The previous owner had built a wall at the back of the garage with a 2X4 frame attached directly to the slab, however, it leaked underneath and flooded the garage because the slab was at ground level. So I poured an additional slab around the perimeter and built up a storage room atop the pour. The pour was right against the original frame and side, and so, over the years, the original wood frame had rotted at the bottom. I never paid much attention to it because, hey, it’s a garage storage room and it stayed dry. But that has to change.

First, using a Fein MultiTool, make a cut directly across the cheap plywood at the back of the garage. The angled wall to the right is newly built; the hose is an overflow hose from the hot water heater.

Second, pry the plywood piece off (surprisingly difficult) to reveal the moldy vapor barrier behind.

Third, peeling away the vapor barrier reveals my fixation with urethane foam as a sealer and water barrier. Also visible is the original tar paper barrier.

Fourth, with the foam and tarpaper puller away, we see what a mess it is inside. Note the original frame running across the bottom.

Fifth, starting to chip away at the top concrete slab. The rotted wood has been cut away, revealing a rusty scab plate.

Digging into the garage, trying to do a neat job. I'm using a rotary hammer with a cold chisel tip, like a small jackhammer. Here, my old overpour has been cut away, down to the original garage slab. Note the gap on the left where the wood frame was.

And here, right about where you'd expect it, about four inches down through the original slab, we've struck dirt. And that's a good place to stop for today.


Message From Mercury

Written by Burl on March 29th, 2011

And here’s the very first image, transmitted today, from the Messenger Mercury orbiter, showing details of the planet previous unseen. This is a test image and the details in the future will be even sharper. Click on the image to see a bigger version.


Oscar Deuce: Just Call Me Rosie

Written by Burl on March 28th, 2011

Along with a bevy of Brownies and a gaggle of Girl Scouts — I’m not making this up! — PJ and I learned the basics of riveting and spent a couple of hours and about a hundred rivets putting the drilled-out areas of the O-2 back together. Compare the photo above with the earlier edition.


Shabbat Matinee: Josh Nelson’s Kosher Gospel

Written by Burl on March 26th, 2011


Messenger Around Mercury

Written by Burl on March 25th, 2011

The Messenger orbiter went into position around Mercury this week, but you’d never know it from news coverage. Things been happening, I guess. Everything went flawlessly, and Messenger will soon start uploading images.