Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 Red Oak Wilt Movement and Behavior

The disease evidently arrived when the powerline went in running north to south at the top of the ridge on the far left side of the pic.  Or possibly when that gravel pit was scooped out just to the right of the earliest attack.  Those earliest trees have been dead at least five years.

In 2010 it moved abruptly downgrade attacking the trees surrounding the cabin and in the vicinity of the chickenhouse.  But I hadn’t noticed until I viewed the sat-image that it’s also moving west beyond the ridgeline [far left].   Beyond that ridge and to the west it’s heavily treed with oaks all the way to the western property line. 

Judging from what’s happening to the west of the ridge there mightn’t be a red oak left on that side of the property within a couple of years.

But downgrade to the east there doesn’t appear to be any infestation at all, yet.

Truly a mystery.

Old Jules

My 2011 posts about this:

Oak Wilt, Firewood and Sawmilling, For Want of a Nail – Something Worth Knowing Chainsaw-wise, A Poem as Lovely as a Tree – An Oak Ponders Oak-Wilt, Outsmarted by a Dead Tree.

Vesta’s 13 Mile-High Mountain et al

About this time in 2009 I could have been rightfully accused of spending a lot of the year tracking the positions of all the larger asteroids including Vesta as part of an ongoing project.  And at that point I could accurately be accused of having learned a lot without having learned anything I could understand.

NASA – Oblique View of Vesta’s South Polar Region .

But one of the big news items of 2011 involves Vesta, or more specifically, the discovery it has a 13 mile high  mountain.

Space Mountain Produces Terrestrial Meteorites

Dec. 30, 2011: When NASA’s Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around giant asteroid Vesta in July, scientists fully expected the probe to reveal some surprising sights. But no one expected a 13-mile high mountain, two and a half times higher than Mount Everest, to be one of them.

The existence of this towering peak could solve a longstanding mystery: How did so many pieces of Vesta end up right here on our own planet?

Space Mountain (side view, 558px)

A side view of Vesta’s great south polar mountain. [more]

For many years, researchers have been collecting Vesta meteorites from “fall sites” around the world. The rocks’ chemical fingerprints leave little doubt that they came from the giant asteroid. Earth has been peppered by so many fragments of Vesta, that people have actually witnessed fireballs caused by the meteoroids tearing through our atmosphere. Recent examples include falls near the African village of Bilanga Yanga in October 1999 and outside Millbillillie, Australia, in October 1960.

“Those meteorites just might be pieces of the basin excavated when Vesta’s giant mountain formed,” says Dawn PI Chris Russell of UCLA.

Curiosity and the Solar Storm (signup)

Russell believes the mountain was created by a ‘big bad impact’ with a smaller body; material displaced in the smashup rebounded and expanded upward to form a towering peak. The same tremendous collision that created the mountain might have hurled splinters of Vesta toward Earth.

“Some of the meteorites in our museums and labs,” he says, “could be fragments of Vesta formed in the impact — pieces of the same stuff the mountain itself is made of.”

To confirm the theory, Dawn’s science team will try to prove that Vesta’s meteorites came from the mountain’s vicinity. It’s a “match game” involving both age and chemistry.

“Vesta formed at the dawn of the solar system,” says Russell. “Billions of years of collisions with other space rocks have given it a densely cratered surface.”

The surface around the mountain, however, is tellingly smooth. Russell believes the impact wiped out the entire history of cratering in the vicinity. By counting craters that have accumulated since then, researchers can estimate the age of the landscape.

Space Mountain (cross sections, 558px)

Cross-section of the south polar mountain on Vesta with the cross sections of Olympus Mons on Mars, the largest mountain in the solar system, and the Big lsland of Hawaii as measured from the floor of the Pacific, the largest mountain on Earth. These latter two mountains are both shield volcanoes.Credit: Russell et. al. (2011), EPSC

“In this way we can figure out the approximate age of the mountain’s surface. Using radioactive dating, we can also tell when the meteorites were ‘liberated’ from Vesta. A match between those dates would be compelling evidence of a meteorite-mountain connection.”

For more proof, the scientists will compare the meteorites’ chemical makeup to that of the mountain area.

“Vesta is intrinsically but subtly colorful. Dawn’s sensors can detect slight color variations in Vesta’s minerals, so we can map regions of chemicals and minerals that have emerged on the surface. Then we’ll compare these colors to those of the meteorites.”

Could an impact on Vesta really fill so many museum display cases on Earth? Stay tuned for answers..
Author: Dauna Coulter | Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

By early-to-mid 2010 the message was plain enough to me that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for by spending anymore time and effort with asteroids.  But seeing this story at the NASA site was a bit like having an old acquaintance but-not-quite-not-quite-friend stop in for a cup of coffee without any ulterior motives other than to pass the time of day.

Old Jules

Talking Our Way Into Oblivion – Hydrogen and Hot Air

A few years ago my friend Rich asked me if I’d be interested in talking with an older guy in his late 70s who was experimenting with hydrogen generators for retrofitting onto his vehicle.   I wasn’t looking into hydrogen generating, but I’m a curious sort of fellow.  I didn’t require any persuading.  I just told Rich to give Bryce my phone number.  About a week later he called me.

Turned out Bryce had spent his career as chief mechanic for the Ford and General Motors Speed Teams, or Racing Teams, some such thing.  He was part of the group that put together the hydrogen powered vehicle that established a record for the highest speed ever recorded for an internal combustion engine driven automobile.

Using what he learned from all that, Bryce had created a series of hydrogen generators for his own vehicle, trying to maximize efficiency and deal with other shortcomings with the system.  He did it all from salvaged materials.  Heck of an interesting guy the first few times we talked.  I wish I’d taken notes and drawn sketches of what he told me.

At first during our acquaintance Bryce and I had conversations.  Two people brainstorming things he was doing, and I was doing.  But gradually the hydrogen generating conversational possibilities ran down.  Bryce was calling me every day or so, telling me all manner of things I didn’t want to hear, such as what the waitress in the cafe where he took coffee and meals said to him, what he said back, what she said back.  Or what other customers said to him and what he said back.  Or his brother.

Bryce would call, ask how I was, not wait for an answer, and talk non-stop for an hour, two hours.  I could put the phone down, go feed the chickens or make a cup of coffee and come back to the phone without him noticing.  Sometimes I’d tie a bandanna around my head attaching the phone to my ear and read a book waiting for him to wind down.

This went on for months.  I didn’t know what to do about it, except straight-on explaining to him that this wasn’t conversation and wasn’t a source of joy to me.  I mentioned it to Rich, and it turned out Bryce was doing the same thing to him.

Finally, as gently as I could manage, I interrupted one of his monologues and explained the problem, as I viewed it.  I told him I liked him, that I’d enjoy conversations with him, but that I didn’t want to hear the same stories over and over about people at the restaurant, his brother, etc.  That if we were going to continue having communications there’d need to be exchanges and some level of concern as to the amount of interest the other person had in hearing it.

Despite my attempt to soften the words, Bryce got his feelers hurt badly by this.  He never called again, which I preferred to the alternative of things continuing as they were.

Sometime a few months later Rich finally got his fill of it and tried the same tactic on Bryce, with the same result.  He was more reluctant to do it than I’d been, because he felt sorrier for Bryce than I was willing to allow myself to indulge.

Bryce came up in conversation between us a couple of days ago.  Turns out it’s been almost exactly a year since Rich has heard from him, and a few months more than that for me.  We wondered aloud how he was doing.

But neither of us is willing to bite the bullet and call him to find out, on pain of maybe starting the whole mess again.

I began this post figuring on saying some things about hydrogen generators but drifted off into Bryce and his problems.  Maybe some other time, the hydrogen generators.

Old Jules

Possible Mistaken Identity

Morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a visit.

Now that my freezer compartment’s thawed out I was due to make a town run for necessaries.  Yesterday I took Little Red in and took the back road past Habitat for Humanity thinking they’d be open, but they weren’t. 

But there’s a pallet out front where they always put things that didn’t sell for anyone who wants them, free.  Whether they’re open, or closed, there’s often a lot of stuff there a person with the right turn of mind might find a use for.  Around the other side of the building there’s a similar area marked, DONATIONS, clearly separated from this one.

The ‘Free’ sign wasn’t out, but the pallet did have a lot of junk on it, so I pulled in and looked it over.  I figured the store was just closed for the day for some reason.  I picked off three ceiling fan motors and a few other possibly useful items.  I’ve got a number of other ceiling fan motors I picked off that pallet here I haven’t decided what to do with yet, but copper’s got a high pricetag on it, at the very least.

But when I got back and swung by Gale’s to brag about it he shook his head.  “Man, they’ve been closed since before Christmas.  I’m amazed someone hadn’t picked them up.”

“Closed?  Since before Christmas?”  Wrinkled brow, puzzling.  “Sheeze!  I’ll bet somebody dropped those off as donations.  Just left them in the wrong place.”

So maybe I made a haul of some discarded fan motors and maybe I temporarily stole some intended to be donations to Habitat for Humanity.  I’m going to have to contact Linda, the manager, to find out whether I need to haul them back to town.  And if they’re closed until after New Year I reckons I’ll have the use of them until the status is nailed down as to whether they’re stolen property or pre-emptively rescued from some other less deserving scavenger.

Seems life’s never simple.

Old Jules

Order Out of Chaos

Morning readers.  I’m obliged you came by for a read. 

This drawing of Jeanne’s was on an otherwise blank draft post page in the whatchallit, dashboard, with the title Order Out of Chaos.  It’s evidently a Photoshop manipulation of another work and until I messed up re-sizing it and lost her explanation it also said (sold).  Hopefully if she wants to she’ll add an addendum saying whatever else she wants to say about it.

But I was mulling over things that aren’t mainly on my mind deciding which of them to write about this morning, carefully avoiding the one thing that mainly is, when I saw the title in the drafts.  It brought to focus what actually is swirling around in my brain.  I suppose I might as well write a bit about that.

A project I’ve been working on almost a decade appears to be coming to a climax.  Surprising progress began falling into place during the past few days, and preliminary results provide a reason to hope I’m finally examining datasets that will allow testing and formulating a theory.    If the tests indicate it’s worth it, there’ll be revisions, more testing, more revisions, until something cohesive emerges, or doesn’t emerge.

I don’t dare speculate on where it will head because expectations have a way of working themselves into outcomes, and I’m doing my best to avoid that. 

But the fact is, it’s taken a decade almost, and countless hours and days of research, calculations, accumulation of data, wrong directions untaken, other wrong directions taken and backed out of in getting here.

One way or another I think this simultaneity and time thing is finally going to be allowed to absent my life over the next few months.  Order out of chaos finally, either by discovering my fundamental premises were wrong and I don’t have to do this anymore, or they were correct and sense can be made of this.

Either way, it’s a strange place to find myself, a hollow looming up in my life I wonder how I’m going to fill with what must inevitably be another pesky reincarnation.

Old Jules

Freecycle Groups

If you’re interested in giving things you were otherwise going to toss to someone who can use them, or if you’re interested in finding something you’d have otherwise bought as one more Chinese imported product to help destroy our economy and improve theirs, you might have a look at what sort of Freecycle group activity is going on where you are.

For example, someone just gave away 28 chickens on Kerrville Freecycle and the traffic’s picking up with people giving away appliances, exercize equipment, all manner of things still working but now redundant because of Christmas gifting.

There are 10609 Freecycle groups on Yahoo, so there’s probably one in your area.

Here’s an example of the first page of that search:

  • freecyclenewyorkcity

    Welcome to Freecycle™ New York City! BE AWARE: this group Every item posted must be free. Freecycle New York City is open to all

    • Members: 50990
    • Latest Activity: 9 hours ago
    • Created: 8 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • freecycleportland

    Freecycle instructional Video Click here to enlarge. Changing the world one gift at a . If you are outside of Portland, please join and support your local Freecycle group. All Freecycle groups, worldwide, can be found at

    • Members: 45922
    • Latest Activity: 10 hours ago
    • Created: 8 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • SheffieldCity-Freecycle

    Sheffield City Freecycle is open to all who want to recycle link below: This group is part of The Freecycle Network, an international and UK charity

    • Members: 26339
    • Latest Activity: 8 hours ago
    • Created: 2 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • FreecycleBristol

    Welcome to Bristol Freecycle (UK) Please note – a message will be this in order to join the group The worldwide Freecycle Network is made up of individual

    • Members: 40409
    • Latest Activity: 8 hours ago
    • Created: 7 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • OxfordFreecycle

    somewhere else! The Oxford, England Freecycle (R) group is open to all in the one of the busiest FreeCycle groups in the country, with up

    • Members: 40765
    • Latest Activity: 8 hours ago
    • Created: 7 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • hackney_freecycle

    Welcome to Hackney Freecycle. You are welcome to join, if like us in the correct format. Click the link:- Hackney_Freecycle MessageMaker Need a van? Use the Common Resource

    • Members: 24257
    • Latest Activity: 4 hours ago
    • Created: 5 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: Yes
  • freecycle-exeter

    Welcome to Exeter Freecycle. This group is for people in and around for more info Any queries? Email or

    • Members: 23775
    • Latest Activity: 11 hours ago
    • Created: 7 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • haringey-freecycle

    The Haringey Freecycle™ group is open to all who want This group is part of The Freecycle Network, a nonprofit organization and a

    • Members: 17376
    • Latest Activity: 8 hours ago
    • Created: 5 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • FreecycleTO

    The Freecycle Network (R) is open to all who want to constraint: everything posted must be free. The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit organization and a

    • Members: 23832
    • Latest Activity: 12 hours ago
    • Created: 6 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • freecyclelambeth


In Texas  there are 210 groups:




Freecycle Network (AFN), the first Freecycle group in Texas. WINNER 2005 Keep Austin Beautiful please join the Austin Freecycle Café group. Copyright

  • Members: 20831
  • Latest Activity: 6 hours ago
  • Created: 8 years ago
  • Archive: Membership required
  • Moderated: No


  • HoustonFreeShare

    We are NOT a member of the “Freecycle” movement. If you are  . The reason for the breakoff from Freecycle, is because Freecycle wants

    • Members: 16126
    • Latest Activity: 2 months ago
    • Created: 8 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: Yes
  • clearlakefreecycle

    Hi! Welcome to the Clear Lake Texas Area Freecycle (TM) Network (http://groups , etc on the Clear Lake Freecycle site. DO NOT send inappropriate

    • Members: 5353
    • Latest Activity: 8 hours ago
    • Created: 7 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • Humble-KingwoodTXFreecycle

     or improvement ideas about the Humble – Kingwood Freecycle Group! Freecycle Group Information Group Name: Humble – Kingwood Location: US – Texas More info:

    • Members: 5724
    • Latest Activity: 13 hours ago
    • Created: 6 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • ShermanTXFreecycle

    Freecycle Group! Freecycle Group Information Group Name: Sherman Location: US Southwest: Texas More info: Copyright © 2003-2006 The Freecycle Network ( All

    • Members: 4234
    • Latest Activity: 11 hours ago
    • Created: 6 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • FriscoTX_Freecycle

    exchange or communication. Freecycle Group Information Group Name: FriscoTX_Freecycle Location: Texas, United States More info: Copyright © 2003-2008

    • Members: 3284
    • Latest Activity: 10 hours ago
    • Created: 4 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • lakejacksonfreecycle

    Welcome To Lake Jackson Freecycle (TM) OUR PURPOSE: The goal of Freecycle(TM READ IT.) We encourage you to go to to read the history of freecycle and

    • Members: 3284
    • Latest Activity: 9 hours ago
    • Created: 7 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • beaumont_tx_freecycle

    The Beaumont,Texas Freecycle™ group is open to all about our area ! © 2003 The Freecycle Network ( http://www.Freecycle

    • Members: 2391
    • Latest Activity: 11 hours ago
    • Created: 3 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • HOTFreecycle

    Welcome to Heart of Texas Freecycle ™!!! Cooler than a garage for profit. Since this is FREEcycle, items must be FREE! Items

    • Members: 2938
    • Latest Activity: 17 hours ago
    • Created: 7 years ago
    • Archive: Membership required
    • Moderated: No
  • SanMarcosTXFreecycle

    Freecycle Group Information Group Name: San Marcos Location: US Southwest: Texas More info: Copyright © 2003-2011 The Freecycle Network ( ). All

    • Members: 2018
    • Latest Activity: 2 months ago
    • Created: 6 years ago

Not to suggest you shouldn’t run down to WalMart to buy a new toaster from Asia, or put that old XP computer out by the garbage barrel to go to the landfill.   Just depends on what sort of person you are, I suppose.  And what sort of person you want to be.

Just saying.

Old Jules

Important Updates From the Middle of Nowhere – Breaking News

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Things have slowed down here a bit, but exciting things are still happening.

The freezer compartment never had a natural door, so it frosts up somewhat rapidly.

You’ve probably been through this, too.  Defrosting it’s a challenge.  Two days so far with it turned off and the door open.  Slow going because the ambient temperature’s not getting much above freezing.

Someone in south Texas cut down a Texas Ebony tree and Gale managed to lay claim to part of it.  He’s itching to begin working on it, but the bearings, both on his lathe and the sawmill went out suddenly and simultaneously.

He decided it’s time to upgrade his lathe anyway, so the old one’s got to be dissassembled and moved out and the new one assembled and installed.

We’re still waiting for the sawmill bearings to arrive from China or somewhere.

Meanwhile, the wobblyhead extensions still aren’t going to do the job on the Commie Toyota starter.  I think the 4-Runner’s down for the count until I can pull that engine out of there and get to it.  The nut-head rounded off more every time I applied torque.  I dassn’t do anything to round it off more.

Otherwise it’s business as usual here.  The cats and chickens send their regards.

Old Jules

Cultivating a Taste for a Lousy Attitude

One blog I subscribe to and don’t dare delete until I’ve allowed the several minutes it takes to download the images on this dialup is There, I fixed it – Close Enough – Redneck Repairs .   

The folks who run it are insufferably smug, downtalking, and annoying smarty-pantses.  But they evidently have a cadre of followers scouting the planet for good ideas, which they post as ‘fails’, or bad, or quaintly bad taste compared to the tastes of the higher-minded posters and readers there.

So several times every day I open an email of the latest good ideas they’ve posted, allow them time to load and study them carefully.  Ignoring the source.   And every few posts another lightbulb goes off in my head as a result.  Someone, somewhere had a problem similar to one I share, and figured out a way to solve it in a way I might also solve mine.

I suppose the people running the place are just out after hit-counts and making as much money as they can any way they can, and the downtalking smugness, they’ve found in their statistics, appeals to more people than the alternative approaches.

But whatever the reasons, I’m grateful they do what they do, and I sincerely hope they continue doing it.

Old Jules

A Brain Teaser

Re-blogged from Understanding Uncertainty

I’ve been mulling over this puzzle on David’s blog.  Thought perhaps that microscopic few of you readers who are here because of discussions elsewhere about simultaneity and the ‘randomness’ concept might enjoy it too:

A probability paradox?

david's picture

Submitted by david on Mon, 10/31/2011 – 08:49

I recently tweeted a link to this problem drawn on a blackboard, which got a lot of retweets.

Multiple Choice: If you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the chance you will be correct? A) 25% B) 50% C) 60% D) 25%

This is a fun question whose paradoxical, self-referential nature quickly reveals itself – A) seems to be fine until one realizes the D) option is also 25%.

A quick search reveals hundreds of discussion contributions of this problem, for example here and here and from a year ago. People often appear very confident that their answer is the only possible solution.

I am no logician and so unqualified to place this within the grand structures of mathematical paradoxes. I have not waded through all the discussions and so there may be something I have missed, but in among all the arguments there seem to be four conclusions that could be considered as ‘correct’. These are my personal comments:

1) There can be no solution, since the ambiguity of ‘correct’ makes the question ill-posed.

It’s true the question is ambiguous, but this still seems a bit of a cop-out.

2) There is no solution.

This seems to take this interpretation of the question.

Which answer (or set of answers) of “p%”, is such that the statement ‘the probability of picking such an answer is p%’ is true?

Then this appears to be a well-posed question, but there is no solution.

3) 0%.

Consider a different interpretation of the question.

Is there a p%, such that the statement ‘the probability of picking an answer “p%” is p%’ is true?

Then this appears a well-posed question and has the solution p = 0, even though this is not one of the answers. Of course if answer C) were changed to “0%” (as it is in this 2007 version of the question ), then this would also have no solution.

4) We can produce any answer we want by changing the probability distribution for the choice.

Why should ‘random’ mean an equally likely chance of picking the 4 answers? If we, say, assume the probabilities of choosing (A) (B) (C) (D) to be (10%, 20%, 60%, 10%) then the answer to either formulation (2) and (3) is now “60%”. But if we make the distribution (12.5%, 15%, 60%, 12.5%) then we seem to back to square one again, since there is now both a 25% chance of picking “25%”, and a 60% chance of picking “60%”.

I like conclusion 3) best, ie 0%.

Maybe the main lesson is: ambiguity and paradox are often the basis for a good joke.

It won’t lead you where you’re trying to go, but it might offer a hint as to whether you can get there from here.

But you might also want to have a look at BRAIN TIME [6.24.09]
By David M. Eagleman that won’t help, either, but it’s bound to introduce some new doubts if you needed any.

Old Jules

The Long Watch


Lot’s of high-powered rifle ammunition flying around the surrounding ranches this morning. But I don’t think it’s a government SWAT team come all the way out here to shoot my face off between breaths this fine morning.

In fact, I think it’s deer hunters out trying to squeeze in a last-minute set of antlers on an umpty-ump-point-buck to take home and put on the wall.

I only mention this because a few of you readers and a particular slice of the population of preparedness blogs I read are taking the “Come in and get me coppers!” approach to reflecting on what the US Congress has been doing lately.  There’s a high-anxiety factor leading people to say things on blogs suggesting they think if the government wants them it’s going to have a tough job on its hands getting them. 

Anyone who stops to think about this concept a moment ought to be able to figure out that’s not how it’s going to play out.  Even if they’re correct in thinking someone thinks they’re important enough to send in the cavalry to get them. 

No matter how good you guys who’ve been collecting a thousand different great knives and 200 each calibers of weaponry and ammunition anticipating what you believe is happening, if they want you, they’re going to get you.  If you’ve been shouting challenges at them from your blogs, they’ll most likely do it to your face between two breaths from a distance of a quarter-mile while you take an outdoor leak.

This isn’t the best moment in history to be talking about going to war with the US government.  Even in a whisper.  They’ve spent the last decade developing tactics, strategies, surveillance gear and weaponry intended to deal with people a lot uglier, smarter, sneakier and more highly motivated than any US citizen is likely to be.

I’m not saying what the US Congress did over the past couple of weeks won’t change a lot of things in ways you’ve come to see as your ‘rights’.  I believe it probably will.  I’m just saying you might be well advised to think things through more carefully than you’ve been doing.  You’re all dressed up to play checkers but the game has changed to chess.

Thinks I. 

Old Jules