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Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Monday, June 30, 2014

A visit to Mühlhausen

Mühlhausen is a walled town in the state of Thüringen, dating back to the middle ages, partially restored, which my biker friends and I visited over the Corpus Christi weekend. Here are some photos.

Most of the shops in the pedestrian precinct (main shopping zone) have been nicely restored to their original condition, including ornate carvings.

Our hotel "Zum ewigen Rath" was restored in 1992 to a 16th century style. The rooms were accordingly simple (but plumbed), however the food was excellent and in HUGE portions. Proprietors are Mr. & Mrs. Koch (=cook ;-)).

Old church and town hall doors have been restored using pastell paints as available in 1605 AD. They bear the regent's coat of arms.

Some of the restorations are catastrophic though, because the buildings to the left and right and the ground floor shop windows are still in 1950's socialism style, bleak gray putz and modern(ish) double-glazed windows :-(

Even worse, when you walk around to the rear, it's like a Potemkin village! Crumbling wattle walls still unrestored from the communist era :-(

And in this backyard, there appears to have been a fire in the upper storeys which burned out the top of the old frame buildings. Noone has got around to fixing them up yet, so I assume they were not insured???

On a more cheerful note, I walked downtown to the Divi Blasii church which leans forward a few degrees as you can see. But so much so that parking in the cobbled streets beneath its towers is forbidden for safety's sake :-)

This is the church where Bach played this very organ until the age of 22.

But the things I like most about Mühlhausen are the wall carvings above the archway doors :-) Here we have two children learning to read and the Earth as a globe, so the One True Church was already losing its influence even back then, thanks to Martin Luther and Thomas Münzer.

Comments (1) :
Renke (D) wrote " Personally I like the steampunky/apocalyptic look of the burned-out houses more than the "nicely restored" houses ( as long I don't have to live in the ruins...) - but anyway, beauty is in the eye of the beholder :)" I like steampunk, but I prefer my accomodations modern too.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Douglas Adams T-Shirt :-)

Saw a gentleman last friday wearing this great Douglas Adams T-Shirt. For his own privacy - and to make the photo big enough to be legible - I have cropped his head and shoulders out of the picture.

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes a T-shirt, but this is a pretty good attempt nonetheless ;-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Singed in the Treetops : bucket list #41 :-)

Over the Corpus Christi weekend, we dozen biker friends visited Mühlhausen and environs. Photoblog about Mühlhausen later. Friday afternoon three of us were riding through the Hainich national forest and saw a signpost pointing to the climbing park there. After a couple of miles of unsurfaced (dirt) road, we finally found it. Philipp, who runs it, kitted us up in safety gear (over our motorcycling leathers) and gave us a 10 minute safety training, about five feet up. L2R: Volker, Frank and yours truly.

Charles Darwin claims we are descended from the apes; if so, I seem to have forgotten an awful lot about swinging gracefully through the treetops! Certainly I, with my 70 years of age, found those chin-ups hard and getting my feet up onto a platform above my head-height even more so! Of the 5 levels of difficulty, I only managed the bottom two. The younger guys managed to get up to level four difficulty, about 33 feet up in the trees. We bowed out respectfully at level five which went up to 55 feet.

The height was not a problem, after all I'm used to hang-gliding and parasailing. But I found the wobbly, moving footholds difficult and those stages where you needed to get your feet above your head. Frank said he found the 20 foot high 'base-jump' - despite the centrifugal brake lowering you slowly - psychologically challenging 'cos the first 6 feet are in free fall !

A couple of hours of fun - you need to be fitter than I am to do all 5 levels of difficulty - for €18 per head (children €11, teenies €14). Here's their website; go give it a try if you are ever in the area.

At €18, you won't get burnt, but you will get singed, as the French say ;-)

Comments (1) :
John (UK) asks "If that last line was supposed to be a punchline, I'm afraid I don't get it?" It was. "Singe" is also French for "monkey" ;-)

Monday, June 23, 2014

24 years on, I get to say THANK YOU :-)

What a small world we live in, the web really is a global village indeed!

One of my former students - of nigh on ¼ century ago - reads this blog it seems and noticed that one of the textbooks I wrote back then was not listed in the blog's right sidebar. It is the english translation of Grundlagen von Expertensystemen which I wrote in German in 1988 and which my english textbook publisher Ellis Horwood issued in 1990, ISBN 0-13-296583-6. It is now out of print of course, being out of date, and I didn't have a copy. So she sent me her own almost pristine copy so that I'd have a now almost complete collection of all of my text-books and their translations*.

How generous is that?!

I know you want to remain anonymous, but let me say THANK YOU publicly.

Comments (2) :
Cop Car (USA) wrote " I'll see if I can dig up a book in Japanese. Since you can't read it, I could send you any book! ;-)" No, because I doubt they would have translated the source code and/or diagrams contained therein.
Barbara (UK) said "I resold all the textbooks I once had to students from the following year :-(" Mine from my student days are still in a case in the attic, I tried re-reading them, but it's too hard. I once knew that stuff! :-(

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ancient Oak :-)

Just 17 miles from where we live is an ancient, mighty oak tree which the locals call "The 1000 Year Oak" by way of exaggeration, but it is probably some 500-650 years old. See photos below.

It is on the outskirts of the village of Borlinghausen, just a few hundred yards east of the 'castle' (which is more of a huge manor house really).

Botanists call it Quercus robur. The trunk has a girth of 40 feet - and so it is the broadest tree in the state - even if only 60 feet high. The leafy crown is 200 feet around. Over the centuries it has been hit by lightning many times. In fact it is now hollow (you can walk inside it) and is secured by metal struts and cables so that it does not fall apart if hit again. It is past its prime, gradually decaying due to funghi, but still has a leafy crown as you can see from my photos. SWMBO and Kosmo demonstrate the scale.

On the inside, I took the snapshot shown below whilst standing upright and looking upwards. Top left is one of the metal safety struts I mentioned. The black sheen is carbon from the burns caused by (recent/21st century?) lightning strikes. The bluish areas (blue to my flash, actually grey) are cobwebs. Because the core has been blasted away by the lightning strikes, you cannot count the rings, which is why the age (probably some 500-650 years) is only an estimate.

Over 600 types of bugs are found to have their homes in oak trees; then there are doves, woodpeckers, owls, bats, martens, racoons, bees, squirrels, treemartens, wasps, tics, and even small feral pigs live in it or from its acorns.

Oh what tales this tree could tell if only it could speak! Of friends and foes, wars and plagues, the nearby village of Bunsen that came and went as the tree lived on, century for century, of knights and damsels, of trials and nooses hung from its branches, and armies that marched on & from the castle. In times of peace : dancing and drunken festivals. In times of war : quarterstaves cut from its branches. Short human lives flashed by and the tree lived on. Perhaps another hundred years, then it too will pass :-(

Qui vult in aeternum vivere?

Comments (1) :
Renke (D) wrote " Binomens are splitted in two parts and always written in italic type: The first word is the genus and written capitalized. The second part denominates the species in the genus and starts with a lower case letter. Oh, your oak is called ''Quercus robur'' :P" Wow, I always learn new stuff from you, Renke. I have modified my text above to reflect what you wrote. Thanks :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reading their minds ;-)

Teasing some teenage kids, I told them I could read their minds. So they challenged me to prove it.

Ok. Chose two digits, one even and one odd, but don't tell me what they are. Now put one of them mentally in your left hand and the other in your right, but don't tell me where they are. Multiply the left side digit by two. Add 4 to the right side digit. Sum the two and tell me the result.

The result was 22. So, now I'll read your mind, I said : you chose to put the odd number into your left hand!

And of course I was correct, to cries of "You just guessed, there's a 50:50 chance of getting it right!"

So I repeated the 'mind-reading' trick for all 12 of them, right every time, the odds of that happening by chance being 4000 to 1. Dumbfoundedness.

I leave it as an exercise for my readers to work out how the trick goes :-)

Comments (2) :
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "Did none of them ask you to say what the numbers actually were?" Sure they did, but I crushed that by saying "You don't think clearly enough for me to be able to see that" ;-)
Brian (UK) wrote "I see what you did there :-)" And this morning chatting in the laundry-shop I got lucky : One guy's total was 27, so I could tell him his numbers and what hands they were in :-)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Faith in your product!

30 years ago, marketing managers demonstrated real faith in their products. You don't see that much company-identification nowadays from today's sceptics :(

Back then in South Africa, Henkel's marketing manager showed off the power of their Pattex household glue by sticking himself to the lower wing of Tiger Moth ZS-ONO and going for a flight with no strings attached :-)

Alas, the Tiger Moth shown here no longer exists and the registration letters ZS-ONO are on a multi-engined 21 seater 1964 Grumman G-159 Gulfstream 1 C/N 134. I bet the incumbent Henkel marketing manager wouldn't try it on the Gulfstream ;-)

Comments (3):
Renke (D) wrote " Cruise speed is about 5 times higher - has Henkel developed an adhesive 5 times stronger? PS yes yes, totally unscientific - as an excersise for your readers: How can one calculate the needed glue strength for fixing a manager to different airfoil at different speeds? PPS the answer "managers are unimportant, let them crash" is invalid :)" Assume the manager has the same frontal area. Then the adhesive force needed is proportional to the square of the speed, so 25 times more force. Managers are mostly fatter these days (heh, heh) so probably at least 30 times (shear strength) needed ;-) Adding 3% grapheme will give factor 4 to 7 improvement in shear strength I've heard, but not factor 30. Pattex can reach 25 MPa, Letoxit 41 MPa, afaik. IMHO, that yellow PVC(?) suit would probably tear first :-(
Cop Car (USA) wrote " Henkel's marketing manager would have shown more faith in his product had he glued himself to the lower surface of the wing! *laughing* Obviously, he hadn't much faith in the peel strength. Wise man! Although the modern cruise speed is five times as high as the old, there was probably more strength than was actually needed in the old glue; thus, my answer is that the modern glue strength would need to be somewhat less than five times as high." Indeed! But since they wrote the advert on the top wing, I deduce they displayed the ad by flying the Tiger Moth upside down at times ;-)
Cop Car (USA) countered " Did they have a carburetor that worked inverted? If so, it was probably a special installation. If not, they probably stuck with 1-g maneuvers which provided no test for the glue :-)" I haven't got a glue.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cantor Dust ;-)

In the American news this week it was reported that the eminently detestable Eric Cantor lost his GOP primary to a hardline Teabagger Brat (sic!). So that's good news for the Dems, they might even stand a chance, come the 7th congressional district elections :-)

Maths geeks will happily note all that is left of Eric is the Cantor dust of his demise, of zero measure, just like the efficacy of Eric's stay in DC :-)

BTW, Brat will face Democratic nominee Jack Trammell, who is also a professor at the same Randolph-Macon College. A sociologist versus a master of divinity; Jeebus wept! The 7th congressional district usually votes R+10, so no wonder I waited until Friday 13th to post this :-(

Comments (1):
Cop Car (USA) sent me a link about a Spoiled Cantor Set Quilt - A doll's quilt, click over and go take a look :-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sunday's Steam

Last sunday's motorcycle tour took us to Isselhorst near Gütersloh where the Mühlenstroth Narrow-Gauge Steam Railway Club runs a couple of miles of narrow gauge railway. They have 9 traction units running on tracks of a gauge of 600mm (= just under 2 feet).

Our traction unit was the beautifully restored 110 hp steam locomotive Nicki and Frank S which belongs to the shirtmaker family Seidensticker.

It was a hot (30°C) and sunny day, so we chose to ride in/on the open-top freight class IV car :-) L2R: Ulrike, Frank, SWMBO and yours truly.

Here we are going around the bend just before Rödelheim. Have you ever asked yourself "Just how DO trains go around curves?" After all, they don't have a differential on the axle as a car or truck does. They have straight-through one-piece solid axles. So just how DO trains go around bends at all? Here's the answer. Not many people know that, less than 2%, I guess.

Their nine traction units vary from those awaiting restoration (left photo) to those in immaculate working order (right photo). I count five steam locomotives and three diesel shunters all in working order and a motorised draisine ( aka bogie).

They operate on an irregular schedule, so be sure to check their website before planning a trip there. There's an on-site pub & restaurant too.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Turned 70 on Sunday :-)

Made it to 70 on sunday, and am still recovering from the party :-)

Since I'll be partying with my active biker friends on our Corpus Christi tour, I decided to invite other local friends whom I see far too seldom to this party. So I drew a circle 12 miles in radius around our house and found I have 24 old friends in that circle :-)

To save SWMBO and myself a big (aka any) culinary effort, I arranged a dinner & drinks do at a local pub which specialises in hunters' dishes (e.g. venison etc). Good meals & beer :-) Teetotaller Frank had to drive us home last night tho ;-)

Oldest friends who attended were Wolfgang and Ramona with whom I went hang-gliding in the seventies, see his 1976 photo of me at Willingen below.

Guests? Several co-workers from way back when, artists, crypto-geeks, authors, inactive bikers, the lady who taught me to play keyboard, a village farmer, a vet & a gaggle of teachers; it was a very varied and disjunct crowd. So I instructed them to sit next to people they didn't know, which logically would have put us at a separate table, so we ignored that ;-)

The (desired) result of this seating plan? Lots of new friendships :-) Between courses I wandered around and sat & chatted with everybody.

Since I had insisted "No presents!" (I already have far too much stuff), most brought flowers for SWMBO, a nice gesture!

Surprisingly, I even got congratulatory cards from my member-of-parliament, my member of state parliament and the local mayor, all vote-fishing for the next election maybe? ;-) The local apothecary knocked me up a special bottle; I don't know what's in it, but it sure tasted good!!! Similary, the farmer's wife brought me a bottle of her homebrew hooch ;-)

These notes for XE Express, who thinks I'm cutting back on my social life. Wrong! It just leaves me a little more wrinkled and haggard these days ;-) If I'd known how many wrinkles you get in the face by age 70, I'd not have injected the botox into my belly-fat ;-)

Comments (11) :
Susanne (D) wished "Belated Happy Birthday greetings!" Thankyou!
Martina (D) wished "Ditto!" Thankyou!
Tanja & Christian (D) wished "Ditto!" Thankyou!
Doug (Canada) wrote "I hope you've fully recovered from your 70th bash - happy belated hatching day :)" Just!
David (IL) wrote "I wish you many sarcastic rants again (hint!) here during your 8th decade!" I'm trying, very trying :-)
Gundi (D) sez "I'm so putting that botox joke on a T-shirt!" De nada :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "Did you enjoy June 7th, your last chance at 69? ;-)" Yes, thankyou :-)
David (USA) sez "Welcome aboard the septuagerian(sp?) express." Thankyou! The train seems to be accelerating through :-(
XE Express (USA) wrote "Cutting back? nah. you are a happy extrovert, Stuart. I think that if I drew a 12-mile circle around this place, I'd find a few dozen friends/acquaintances/even family members, too. but I'm a far different person from you, and have been since birth. Also, I remember 70...a great age! That's when I retired from my job. Congratulations again on your birthday! You are a lively one! " Thanks, lass! Old Schorsch (see next comment) replied in a similar vain (not a typo) ;-)
Schorsch (D) aged 83(?) wrote "Only 70? What do you want to be when you grow up? ;-)" Still biking, like you :-)
Cop Car (USA) shouted "HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!" Thanks, lass. However, the birthday was not belated, it came far too soon ;-) :-)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review : Sehr geehrtes Facebook

Book tip for those of you who can read German. Hans-Hermann Stolze is the nom-de-plume of a funny journalist pretending to be an 87 year-old pensioner who has problems with the modern world. The book contains letters written on an ancient mechanical typewriter and sent by post to various companies; their replies - often amusing, sometimes missing the point - are appended.

Abbreviated example #1 : Dear Facebook, I want to surprise my grandson by joining your club. However I don't have Internet. Please send a technician to install them for me...

Abbreviated example #2 : Dear [his old typewriter-manufacturer], my grandson says I could save on postage by using emails. However for this I need a spider monkey key (pronounced ätt). Please send me a striking bar with a spider-monkey sign and a corresponding key. It could e.g. replace one of the French accents which I don't use.... Reply: Dear Mr. Stolze, unfortunately we no longer make keys for your old machine. May we suggest you buy one of our electrical typewriters with letter wheels which already contain @ and € .... (completely missing the point that he wants to write emails!!!!) :-(

Amusing idea, but it becomes repetitious after 167 pages. Mostly funny. But at a deeper level one can see which companies make a genuine effort to help the 'old man', which rush off a boiler-plate answer, which miss the point entirely, and which just try to block him off. Surprisingly few realised they were having their leg pulled, the journalist making it sound (just) believable. Ten firms didn't reply, so maybe they'd cottoned on?

Read in a day and then pass it on. ISBN 978-3-548-37511-3 for €9.99 new.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Low Approach to EDXH:-(

T he newspapers here have a video of a Piper Archer (reg. plate D-EIGL) making a very low approach to the airfield on Helgoland Dune island and JUST missing a foolhardy man sunbathing on the extended centerline not 10 yards from the threshold!

There are a couple of things that need to be said here.

First off, yes, there are BIG notices warning beach users to stay clear of the approach zone, so the sunbather should not have been endangering himself there! I don't know whether the man who took the video was in the danger zone too? Luckily the man sitting at the end of the runway did NOT stand up and try to run away (which might have halved him) but threw himself flat in the sand. Right reaction :-)

Secondly, the pilot was way too low. This is the long runway on Helgoland Dune but is only 400 meters long (the short one is 251 meters). It starts at the beach, the threshold is behind a 2 ft. high fence. It is good practice to approach on the back of the power curve (top right of the diagram shown left), but at a steep angle, cutting the power over the threshold which will plop the plane down immediately. Some pilots get too low too soon and drag the plane along on engine power at low altitude to the runway instead of going around for another try. Not a few pilots lack practice of flying on the back of the power curve, Alaskan bush pilots in STOL planes excepted :-)

Everybody got very lucky on this low approach. Even so, the pilot hit the fence, damaging the front wheel spat etc. So it is likely that the state attorney will investigate (both of them?) on a charge of "serious interference with aircraft traffic", which carries a penalty of ½ to 10 years! Maybe this part of the beach should be fenced off too? Of course, we know who the pilot was, but the foolhardy sunbather is keeping a low profile(sic!) and nobody knows who he is :-(

On a lighter note, there is only one approach lower than this, it is called the limbo approach to a lighted airport, see my EDLP photo below ;-)

Comments (3) :
Schorsch (D) sends a link from Fürstenfeldbrück "Here's some low-level grasscutting in the woods for you".
Edith (D) asks me to "Explain that C-shaped graph better please". OK. The X axis shows the drag-coefficient, the Y-axis shows the lift coefficient. The C-shaped line is paramaterised by speed. At the top right end the plane stalls. The top of the curve is at maximum lift speed (minimum sink rate). The tangent from the origin to the curve is at max range glide speed (glide angle about 11:1 for a Piper Archer, I think). At the bottom of the curve is inverted flight. At the left of the curve (e.g. max range glide speed) if you raise the nose the plane gains lift. But to the right of minimum sink rate - called 'behind the power curve' - if you raise the nose the plane LOSES lift and speed, so you have to add power to maintain altitude. Planes usually cruise at minimum drag speed, the leftmost point on the curve, so pilots do not spend much time 'behind the power curve' and are not used to flying in this regime (bush pilots excepted).
Anon (D) notes that "The man who took the video was off to the side of the airfield fence as you can see in the video." Thanks for the heads-up, I've modified my text above now.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Frieda turns 9 :-)

Our senior English Bulldog bitch Frieda turned nine on friday, here are some of her birthday photos :-)

Top) Frieda's luxury breakfast for her 9th birthday, best raw tatar steak & oatmeal with edible doggy-bone 'candles'.

Centre) Frieda getting stuck into her birthday breakfast. It took 2 minutes.

Bottom) Digestive walk after breakfast, enjoying the sunshine, now 9.

Recent Writings
A visit to Mühlhausen
Douglas Adams T-Shirt
Singed in the Treetops
24 years on
Ancient Oak :-)
Reading their minds ;-)
Faith in your product!
Cantor Dust ;-)
Sunday's Steam
Turned 70 on Sunday
Sehr geehrtes Facebook
Low Approach to EDXH
Frieda turns 9
Steinertsee model railway
The Meaning of Life ;-)
Hannoversch Münden
RIP Friedel Münch
Minimum Wage
Looking up
RIP H.R.Giger
2014 Weierstrass Lecture

Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Echidne of the snakes
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Hattie (Hawaii)
Making Light
Mostly Cajun
Murr Brewster
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
Rants from t'Rookery
Scary Duck
Spork in the drawer
Squatlo Rant
The Alternate Brain
The Magistrate's Blog
XE Express
Yellowdog Grannie

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