Monday, July 31, 2006

A Far Better Source

I haven't posted anything about Ukraine's politics in a while. Reason being as soona s I say something, the wind shifts and it's completely wrong. The Ukrainians have got some serious frack ups going on in their parliament right now.

The above blog belongs to an expat that lives in Kiev and he has front row seats. Read and hold on to your hat!

This last weekend

Friday night we went to family night at the YMCA. Lyuda's a member for the aerobics classes. We also talked about the house after getting the kiddo in bed. Plans, details, etc.

Saturday, we had a good time. It wasn't as crazy as I was worried it would be. We went to Six Flags Waterworld in Concord on Saturday. We were there practically all day. I got a little cooked on my face. My wife didn't get cooked much at all. My daughter only a tad on her face, but that was because I kept being worried about getting the sunscreen in her eyes. I mostly played with Avrora and my wife got to have some relaxation by running off to slide all the attractions. I was very happy with that because it left me time with Avrora and I have been gone so much as of late. We had a very good time, actually. we BBQ'ed that night and I made a lot of BBQed chicken for the rest of the week.

On Sunday, we went to the Berkeley Kite Festival. That was fun, but we only stayed for a relatively short time. We then ran around like mad chickens to do the shopping (Costco (bulk goods), Berkeley Bowl (produce), and Trader Joe's (dairy and some yummy stuff). Lyuda made her very good akroshka (potato, cucumber, ham, and some other stuff mixed with buttermilk, that other Ukrainian food group (mayo), and sparkling water(!)). It's very good stuff!

Next weekend is a surprise. It's our second anniversary. It should be fun. :) I can't say too much before it happens though lest Lydua read here and find out the surpise. ;)

Russia's Orientation to China

Russia and China discussed a long-term lease of one million hectares of Siberian forests as "a pilot project on joint use of forest resources," the Russian Natural Resources Ministry press service said in a statement on July 26. The project was considered at a meeting in Moscow between Boris Bolshakov, deputy head of the Russian Federal Forestry Agency (Rosleskhoz), and Li Yuchai, deputy head of China's State Forestry Administration.

First read the above link (China's getting to - possibly exclusively - exploit Siberia).

Then blend with my first 'War for the Eurasia Soul Footnote'.

Finally ponder the original conversation causing post.

Now consider the Russian demographics. Again.

Then consider how much of a dog's breakfast they've made of the CIS, it seems very unlikely, even with Ukraine's fracked up parlimanetary screw ups, that they will get the necessary population boost to make up for the their insanely shrinking population. That means that most likely the people doing the work in the Siberian forests will be Chinese. Makes sense, right?

Except if this is a pilot project, how many people will this employ? How many people will be employed by the full scale project? Will there be other projects like this? Like say, mining? Or the energy projects? Just how many Chinese are going to cross into Siberia?

It seems that some of the Russians are a little concerned too:

Nezavisimaya gazeta commented that the worst fears of Russia's left radicals over Chinese expansion in Russia appear to have come true. This "pilot project" could well be followed by other similar ventures, the daily wrote. The paper quoted Vasily Sadliy, head of the forestry department of Irkutsk region, as saying that Irkutsk authorities were negotiating forestry joint ventures with China (Nezavisimaya gazeta, July 28).

The project is set to become a no-win situation for Russia, as there is hardly any point in swapping our pristine taiga for paper dollars or yuans, Komsomolskaya pravda commented. The would-be joint venture is almost certain to employ Chinese nationals, who are very unlikely to leave Siberia voluntarily, even after the expiration of the forest lease, the daily wrote (Komsomolskaya pravda, July 28).

However, since Putin's been backtracking on Russia's democratic progress, does it matter if people in Russia are unhappy with the Chinese in Siberia? Do the Russians voices really matter?

Just some thoughts. Something more profound in the future.

Friday, July 28, 2006

New Cretaceous Sauropod Found

It's interesting to note that the impression of the different periods for the Mesozoic is based on the dinosaurs that lived there. The Triassic has Coelophysis. The Jurassic is often painted as the era of the sauropods. The Cretaceous is often painted as the era of the duckbills and T Rex. Interestingly, that's not really accurate. it seems in the southern hemisphere that the Sauropods lived on as the main source of herbivores long after whatever did them in for the northern hemisphere.

Aussie Nessies

Caucasus considered as base for US missile sensor

The US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) has identified the Caucasus region as one possible location for placing mobile sensors for its ballistic missile defence system.

Rick Lehner, an MDA spokesman, told Jane's the region would be a "good location for a small X-band radar to provide tracking and discrimination of missiles launched from Iran.

"Our job is to put forth optimum locations for radars so that we can make missile defence as effective as possible," Lehner said. "That does not mean radars or other equipment will be placed in those locations; it's just that, in our opinion, it's the best location. MDA doesn't make the decision on locations, especially those outside the US."

From Jane's.

Makes the whole tug-a-war for Georgia a little more interesting, no?

Home again, home again, jiddgety jidge.

I'm back and at work. I'll try to see if I can get some more original content posts up, but I am going to be pressed for a while to try to get caught up. I left a few things undone that I shouldn't have and started others than equally I shouldn't before I left. The conference itself was successful, at least my participation.

I have a list of people that want to come pick our brains and find out what makes NERSC tick. This ought to be interesting. Hopefully it will go better than the WSMR visit a few years ago that I set up.


Another Lockheed Polecat Image

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Primates of Wyoming

The journey of Teilhardina is one we would do well to consider. We are now injecting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at about the same rate at which it was released 55 million years ago. The Paleocene-Eocene boundary may offer some clues to how the world's ecosystem may respond. Some species may become extinct--particularly marine species that won't be able to cope with the acidity of the oceans. Others will spread. Teilhardina covered 20,000 kilometers in less than 25,000 years. That's hardly supersonic. In fact, it matches the rate of dispersal scientists observe in mammals today--about a kilometer a year. But Teilhardina spread at this rate year in and year out, and before too long (geologically speaking) it had circled the globe. If we ever do figure out a way to cut off our carbon emissions, the carbon we've already put in the atmosphere may last for a long time. In the Eocene, the planet took 70,000 years to recover. But the ecological changes were far more durable. Primates managed to stick around in North America for about 20 million years, until the climate had cooled too far to support the forests they depended on. The Earth's planet has continued to cool and carbon dioxide levels have continued to drop. That means that the current climate change will not be a perfect replay of the crisis 55 million years ago. But it does serve as an example of how a pulse of global warming can do some remarkable things, such as putting primates in Wyoming for 20 million years.

Carl brings up some very important points. It dovetails very nicely with a presentation that I sat in at our all hands meeting shortly after I came to NERSC. The presenter pointed out that the findings of the climate scientists were going to piss off both conservatives and greens alike. First the fact was the Global Warming was happening and being caused by humans - the conservative pisser - and that it would take human intervention on the part of removing the CO2 to fix the problem: merely to stop putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere does not fix magically the problem - the pisser for the Greens.

Do we end up with an Eocene earth? Or an Oligocene? If its the latter, we're in trouble here in the States. Something to consider.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Ok. So I can't sleep. I miss my family terribly and its messing with my sleep habits. A little silly, but I really miss hearing my daughter say, 'Papa' and my wife call to me 'husband!' :S

However, today, I gave my presentation. It went over pretty well and I had several people come and ask me a lot of questions after the talk. My emphasis had been on wide area file systems and the NERSC Global Filesystem. Cary, a friend and coworker, had spoke just before me and led into my talk by touching on NGF. So! That's where I picked up.

One guy (Robin) was a Canuckistani came to talk to me about my last slide. We discussed it and he was as intrigued about the whole thing as much as I was. I had spotted him at lunch and dropped in to his table. I asked if the seat was free and when I was told it was ok sat down. The guy next to me who I was talking to was Robin's boss - amusingly I had picked that table because I had only recognized one face and seemed like it was a good place to meet new people.

Robin's boss and I talked about the fact that they are going to be making an HPC purchase rather soon. It's for a very high end system ($30 million) and it would be the first for their site. We chitchatted and discussed what I did and he did. I looked at his name tag so I could try to remember him later after I had already suggested that he come back to NERSC where I work to discuss how we do procurements of HPC systems.

I, then, had a What-the-fuck moment.

His name was Chris Loken.

I knew a Chris Loken. He was a postdoc at NMSU in the astronomy department when I got there in 1992. He looked vaguely like the Chris I knew...and lo, behold, he was. He didn't remember me, but I was a freshman and he was a researcher that worked for Jack Burns, the astronom department head. We chatted about NMSU and were amazed. He laughed over the whole comment I had made as I sat down that I didn't know anyone! It was great and he asked when it was best to come visit the Bay Area: October was my response. Early October. He seems very interested in the visit.

The damned funny thing is that our IBM advocate for NERSC NMSU graduate.

While I never graduated...Aggies seem to be damned near everywhere. Even Canuckistan. Amazing.

I go home tomorrow. I look forward to it. Maybe now that I've shared that, I'll be able to get to sleep. Nite.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Frackin Sux

IBM Sux.

I'm up tending their broken little monster of a machine AGAIN right now.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A trailer for Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica

Thar be spoilers.

Wow. That's a pretty rough spoiler too.

A moment of relative quiet

It's relatively quiet. There are some things to be done, but they're not pressing. I'm on rotation at work. That means that I am responsible for the machines. These are enormous and expensive brutes that seem to have all the delicacies of a China doll. If the smallest perturbation takes palce, catastrophic resutls seem to follow. As I said, I am responsible for all of the machines. This torture lasts for a week and its for 24 hours/day during that span. Last night I recieved 3 pages that I remember and woke me. There was another while I was already awake.

It's been raining compute nodes and some file system servers. It's been a wild ride. It normally is wild, but not this wild. I need to go back and document all the work I've done so far. Honestly, I've lost track.

However, with the moment of relative silence, I thought I would post another reading update.

I actually got more reading done. My wife was putting Avrora to bed and ended up passing out too. My daughter is a bundle of hyperkinetic energy and you get exhausted trying to keep up with her or just keep her out of trouble. She has an intense curiousity, obvious intelligence, and massive go-Go-GO energy can wear out anyone. My wife was the victim that time. She crashed.

That allowed me to finish Insulating Concrete Forms for Residential Design and Construction. it had a lot of good stuff packed in there. Equations, equations, equations. THAT is where the juicy stuff is. It allows you to do the structural design, and iirc in my sleep deprived state, thermodynamic (energy efficiency?) design yourself if you want. Yum! The only thing I fear about this is that the information is dated (1996 pub date) and some of it irrelevant.

I just finished Gorgon. As a travelogue, this is actually a very good book. If you like to read about the adventures of going down to the Karoo in South Africa to hunt fossils and the author's experiences in hunting mammal-like reptile fossils and doing work related to the PT Extinction, by all means pick this up. If you are looking for anything about the actual results and discussion of the PT Event...forget it. You get at best the last 1/6th of the book for that. And its not very deep. I enjoyed the read, wasn't worth the time for a book to give info on the PT Extinction for a post here.

The next book will probably be about the return of life to NorAm after the glaciers retreated. We'll see. I might pick up a construction related book instead. I really ought to.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cluster Map Test

Locations of visitors to this page

So-so Polecat Photo

Thanx to Gordon's blog. A decade ago - omg that long?! - I maintained a website on stealth aircraft. It was even ego tickling that the FAS linked to it as a resource. Unfortunately, I no longer have the time to pursue the topic like I did. I have other avenues to explore!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Schwarzenegger Announces More Stupidity

I really don't understand this one. It strikes me as some of the biggest stupidity I have seen. I don't normally get super spun up on California politics because, frankly, I'm so out of step with most people here that a few comments here and there from me are not going to sway much. However, this just eats me.I really don't have the energy to comment in depth right now. Let's just pull apart a few things.

First, this is pandering to the Central Valley completely and utterly. They're the growers and they're the ones that are seeking new markets. Shwartzy is merely guarranteeing a market and getting their votes at a time of low popularity.

Second there's a faction in the Greens that is very happy to switch from Oil derived energy to agriculturally derived energy. If you grow it, it must be good? Right? gah. It's still combustion. It's still pumping out CO2. That means that its not helping much at all with the whole Global Warming issue. That's one that California really ought to be concerned about...since, y'know, we're a coastal state. This is again vote pandering by Schwartzy.


Oh well. I'll just make sure the home is at least 9 m above sea level and any future ones higher than that.

China's Space Plans

It would seem that the race is definitely there if the Chinese are serious. The pressure from them even doing little things will push the US into keeping with its plans whether they're overly expensive or not. We'll see. I have some faith in the new NASA Admin. He's already recognized that the current model of contractor-NASA relations is flawed if no other reason than the costs.

He sure pisses off Keith Cowing at NASA Watch something fierce though!

Lockheed Unveils Secret Polecat UAV Design

Lockheed Martin's twin-engine, 90-ft. wingspan UAV has performed two flights below 15,000 ft. However, the tail-less "Horton" flying wing design -- similar to that of the B-2. Flight testing of the so-called Polecat is expected to reach increasingly higher altitudes this summer.

The company designed the single prototype for about $27 million and officials say it has not led to a production vehicle.


The UAV can carry 1,000 lbs. of weapons or sensors in a bay on the underbelly of the aircraft. Gross takeoff weight is 9,000 lbs.

I have been searching online for a pict, but havn't found one yet. Jane's has an article but their link is screwed up and points to an article on the rising demand for sat's by the US military.

Another Architect Meeting

I have another one shortly. Shortly would be in an hour and half in Berkeley. We'll see how this one goes.

Baird Family Photo

It's early, but what the heck...why not? I really liked this photo!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Quickly here: El Mirador

I am looking for a book on El Mirador espeically recent ones with maps of the city...or at least what we have found of it.

Any knowledgeable people out there?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Yet Another Reading Update

Reading is a very important element in m life. Without it, I feel reather incomplete and without having learned as much as I could. My interests, for those of you that have followed this blog for a while, are pretty specific and general at the same time. I am a big fan of paleontology and its related fields. I love reading about Rome and the Byzantine Empire. I enjoy scifi, some fantasy, and alternate history. I read some politics and economics. Space science and rocketry attacts my attention too. Biotech has some interest for me (heh), but honestly I only read CS related stuff for work or possible projects, not for fun. I also like architecture books, but I am crash coursing my way through what people pay lots of money to get educated in as well for construction and architecture for the obvious reasons.

I have continued to read despite having my wonderful family back. It's at a slower pace, bceause now I have my daughter to play with and my wife to charm and flirt with as well. However my reading still continues.

I recently finished Insulating Concrete Forms Construction: Demand, Evaluation, & Technical Practice. It read more as an advertisement than anything technical, but it was worth it to get an introduction. The book I am reading now Insulating Concrete Forms for Residential Design and Construction is an earlier work by one of the same authors of the previous read, but it has a lot more technical detail in it even if it is a decade old and somewhat dated. The order of reading was perfect.

I also read The Big Cats and Their Fossil Relatives. A couple of the reviewers nailed this book. One stated that it was somewhere between a coffee table book - with regards to all the illustrations - and a technical report. THe other said this was obviously a labor of love. All I can say is amen. It was lighter on some of the evolutionary trends and pontifications, but heavier on snapshots of particular groups. I recommend reading this as an introduction to anything about fossil felines.

The next book is likely to be Gorgon: The Monsters That Ruled the Planet Before Dinosaurs and How They Died in the Greatest Catastrophe in Earth's History to wrap up my reading on the Permian Mass least for now. Then I'll see about another construction or architecture book.

A very good weekend

We had an extraordinary weekend. We went hiking in Marin near the Point Reyes Seashore. We had a barbeque of wonderful flavours: salmon, oysters, and corn. We had a great time in general.

A note. When BBQing salmon, be ready for the oil from the fat to catch fire. When it does, the flames quite high. However, the salmon came out amazing. It had been marinated in teriyaki for a couple hours with ginger, garlic, black pepper, and basil. The oysters weren't spiced at all, but live up until being dumped on the fire. mmm. My wife also made a seafood stew to go with. It was really good. We even had a little sushi, but not, alas, homemade. We almost rolled out the door afterwards, but we decided we wanted to do this just for us because we are ALWAYS preparing great dinner parties for friends, but never really get to enjoy it as much as we did this time. It was EXPENSIVE, but worth it.

We also worked it all off on Sunday when we hiked to Ridge Top Trail from Highway One. With a 17 month old and no backpack, we did excellent! It only took us about 3 hours up and an half and a half down. It was about 83 outside, iirc, and a wee bit humid, but Avrora and Lyuda held up well. Avrora got carried a bunch on the way up and slept a lot of it down. We saw an owl less than 10 feet from us (not a small one either), lots of horseback riders, and Avrora had a butterfly that wanted to play with her. It was really a good day. We hiked back and Avrora fell to sleep. I carried her the whole way while she was as limp as an overcooked brocolli.

We really had a great weekend.

The blog will be returning to normal. An incedenary commentary about Eurasia will pop up sometime this week. I'd like to comment on the Devonian Mass Extinctions as well, but I might not have time. I am going on rotation and then have a conference in Baltimore to attend where I am speaking on wide area filesystems. I also have another architect interview on Wednesday.

We shall see what I get to post.

I will get at least one per day though and not just news.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mango Salsa

At Carlos' prompting, I started messing around with mangoes and habenaroes. Wow. I like. Here's one recipe that I came up with. It's actually pretty simple.

1 large mango, diced
1 tomatio, diced
1/4 habenaro, finely minced
1/4 large yellow onion
ginger, garlic, oregano to taste.

First dice the mango. If it's as ripe as it should be it will be messy and juicy. This is a feature, not a bug here. Don't lose the juice! Place in a large bowl. Dice the tomatio and onion. Mix with the mango. Add spices. Very finely mince the habenaro last and add. Place over a very low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir regularly. Let sit for another ten minutes and serve.

I really loved this one, but it had too much kick for my wife. My daughter would probably try it, get pissed off, red faced, and then want more. I'd rather not risk it though. This one has some kick with the sweet and spicy.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Trees in Antarctica

Dunbar said climate experts were predicting a doubling of the levels of carbon dioxide by 2100, "but it actually looks like it's going to come sooner unfortunately."

Can you say...LAND RUSH!


Even a 10 C rise in temperatures are going to make Ant a very cold place still.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pix from Lyuda's BDay

A little out of order due to no desire to make war upon blogger anymore. Too tired. The only one that wasn't is the last one and you guys don't get to see what happened after that. This is at least pretending to be a relatively family friendly blog after all!


Baby Pix

Aftermath of Talking to Architects

"So I was talking to two guys. They were very slickly dressed and obviously sharp. One was a little older - I would guess late middle age, maybe late 50s - and the other was younger. I would palce him around his mid forties. They gave me their resumes."

I handed the the two resumes to Lyuda. She started studying them intensely and curiously. She hasn't seen that many American resumes. In some palces she really doesn't understand them. Her reaction to some of it is interesting. One of the things that made it interesting was that she completely missed. There was one in particular on the older gentleman's resume that I drew her attention to.

"See the two years in the 1960s that [the older guy] has that says he was in the US Navy? It says 'Underwater Demolition Team' was his specialty."

An "Okaaaay..." accompanied by an uncomprehending look.

"I think that means he was a SEAL or something like it."

Still a blank look. I thought fast. How to make her comprehend? There's a cultural and knowledge difference here. Ah, I know...

"Spetznaz. He was Spetznaz."

Her eyes went wide.

No, that's not a quote from some book. It's a rememberance of the discussion last night with my wife about the discussion with the architects. Or at least a part of it. The amusing part at least. The discussion in general was pretty straight forward. The pricing was a little higher than expected with the architects, but I at least really liked them. We'll see. I have more interviews to do.

Then some serious decisions to make.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Birthday Success

Lyuda had a wonderful BDay. We went for a helicopter tour of the SF Bay Area. Well, it was mostly the North Bay around Marin county and San Francisco. She was asked to sit in the cockpit and got an amazing view. We even flew under the Golden Gate Bridge. My wife squeeled when we did that one: 150 mph under the bridge and at an altitude of 50 ft.

We then went to dinner at Trader Vic's in Emeryville. We had another very good dinner there, evne if it was trying to be a wallet buster!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Stealth Readers


Carlos, Tikva, my Ukrainian readers, and a couple others of you. Add yourselves to the map, damnit.


Reading Update

I finished Terrestrial Ecosystems Through Time: Evolutionary Paleoecology of Terrestrial Plants and Animals. This is an excellent book. My kudos to Carlos Yu for pointing it out to me. It's a tad dated in a few areas since it was published about 15 years ago, but its still a must read for anyone wanting to either study past ecosystems or design ones for strange planets. I've marked some pages up and I might do a Mike Ralls style note dump here.

I also finished reading Building with Structural Insulated Panels in less than a day. It was a light read and pointed out some strengths and weaknesses with SIPs. It was meant for the contractor than the end homeowner.

I followed this through with The Late Devonian Mass Extinction. It was interesting. McGhee is definitely of a different camp than of Hallam. The latter supports impacts for extinctions and the former oceanic anoxia with marine regression/transgressions as the kill mechanism for most mass extinctions. They're both marine guys, so reading this has been interesting.

I am now 25% done with reading Insulating Concrete Forms Construction. It's a quick read too and in the same vein as the SIPs book. I should be done in the next few days. I'd be done today if not for a joyous event.

After this I think I will tackle a book on fossil big cats, then another on ICFs, and then either one on the Permian Extinction or how ecosystems spread into areas after the glaciers retreated in NorAm. I have a couple more books to read after that, but I suspect that I am going to need to pick up some more construction/architecture books before the month is out. I have meetings with architects on the 10th and the 19th. One step forward. ;)

They're home

They're in bed where I will be joining them relatively shortly. My wife looks gorgeous. My daughter has grown so much. She has changed so much. She is even more of a cute charmer (be warned Tom!).

I BBQed for them but they passed out before I was done. Feeding my wife when she was half asleep was fun and amusing, but a little worrisome because she'd doze off when chewing. Yikes! Yet she would vocally protest when I'd get up to let her sleep demanding more shashlik (actually t-bone steaks that were damned good. One marinated in teriyaki sauce with garlic, ginger, and pepper; the other just rubbed with pepper and salt). She ate half a steak in a half asleep steate before collapsing.

I am the happiest clam in the world.

My family's home.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


In twelve hours I leave here to go get my beautiful wife and wonderful daughter.

I really miss them.

I cannot wait to see them.