Archive for April, 2012

New photo

Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Reached 1500 JPG photos in iPhoto this evening.  That’s in less than 2 months time.  I’m not surprised.  And of course, it doesn’t count the culls.

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In photo, I am a control freak.  I want to do the focusing.  I want to set exposure.  I want to control shutter speed and f/stop.  I can appreciate all the automated stuff, makes the process transparent often enough to be worthwhile.  But, when I start fighting the automation process to get the focus I want, the exposure I want, etc.  Yes, there is Photoshop, and I’m no slouch.  And iPhoto’s Enhance is more times accurate than not.  (Photoshop has one too.)

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It’s a different medium.  Mind you, a low end Nikon Coolpix S3100 is not a D3100.  That would satisfy my need for control.  But, there are too many purchases ahead of the D3100,  like hard drive space, a cajon, and a Norelco.

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It’s not easy bringing classic techniques to a current medium.  But the primary purpose is documenting the local floral unfolding.  For that, the bottom end is sufficient.  My biggest two nemeses are auto-focus tag and wind blur.  Auto-focus is great for beyond three feet away.  Most photos I’m taking are from much closer range, usually around six inches.  I can’t go closer than four inches (sensor parallax), so six inches is usually my standard for flowers less than two inches across.  At six inches, the tendency of the camera is to seek further away, in the background.  It can be tricky playing with the soft click, getting the right zone to come up on the primary subject.

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And it is windy here.  That means the flowers are almost always dancing.  And while that is indeed charming, it’s a pain on focus and motion blur.

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I have photographed a few people at gatherings. I have videotaped a show, and edited in the sound track from the mixer.  Pretty straight forward.  I photographed the local fauna as well.  Not extensively, and still not going for deep portrait, but some good ones.  I’m not getting lost in it, but it’s a daily thing, a little time looking around for the new stuff.  And it makes for website content.

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Primarily, I have been cataloging the blooms on the property.  And it’s been a wet spring, with no late frost, so it’s been bumper.  Lots of blossoms, lots of photos.  A pretty fair documentary of central Texas river bottom blossoms.

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Amazing what you can do for under $100 these days.

Fukushima Dai-ichi #3, March 15, 2011

Posted on Saturday, April 21st, 2012 at 12:02 am

I have been trying to come to grips with the explosion at Unit 3 at Fukushima last year.  So many have tried to pass it off as a hydrogen explosion, but people who know hydrogen explosions are saying “no way”.  It was not a simple hydrogen explosion.

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I think I finally put the pieces together as to what caused the enormous explosion, and it is a little disturbing.  But it fits the laws of physics, as nothing else put forth seems to do.  Essentially, what we saw was a nuclear mortar.

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First, a quick word about MOX.  The use of MOX as a power generation fuel is not legal in the US, though it has been clandestinely  tested on US soil.  Jimmy Carter made it illegal, and no one has yet to reverse that.  However, it’s quite legal in many other countries, including Japan.  There are those who want MOX to work, for two primary reasons: 1) to reformulate weapons grade plutonium and 2) extend the life of the spent fuel, since uranium sources are starting to dry up.

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We know now that the meltdown at Fukushima happened in the first 24 hours.  There is evidence of this now surfacing in investigations.  And in the Mark I, the control rod recesses are beneath the core, making for a means of a quick exit from the reactor vessel for the core when it melts down.  This means that the core made a quick exit to the concrete pad of the containment vessel.  There is an area where the molten core would accumulate as it started melting its way into the concrete pad.

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Like any multi-material molten pool, a corium would segment according to atomic weight.  The heaviest is on bottom, in this case, the bulk of the uranium oxide.  Sitting on the next layer up is the second heaviest, the plutonium oxide.  What’s above that rises as weight decreases, with the lightest of the actnids, fissionables (cesium, iodine, etc), melted metals, concrete chips, other reactor parts, etc.  The two most important points are the bottom two layers.

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A corium sitting in a catch basin is emitting decay heat, picking away at the concrete as the heat frees the tiny chips to float upward.  That’s about all that interrupts the calm of the pool.  That is, until a hydrogen explosion sends a shockwave down the containment vessel.

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A bit of background in how MOX works.  Most nuke plants use LEU, low enriched uranium.  It works by placing the uranium rods in close proximity in water.  This allows the neutron emission to slow down enough that most of the release is transferred to another uranium molecule, forming the sustained chain reaction.  Heat is extracted via the water.  MOX is a little different, in that it uses plutonium as the neutron exciter instead of the array of the LEU arrangement.  The self sustaining isn’t there, so MOX can be comprised of spent uranium.  (It’s a dead end conversion, and nothing can be done with MOX waste to make it useful again, part of it’s charm in terms of proliferation.)

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So, now you have the uranium base layer on the bottom, and the exciting plutonium sitting right above it, keeping it hotter than just the decay heat.  Back to the shockwave from the hydrogen explosion.  These two layers sitting parfait style at the bottom of the basin, in contact along it’s entire area, suddenly violently mixed, the molten exciter becoming instantaneously infused with the molten uranium layer, a massive burst of neutrons resulting in a small scale nuclear detonation.

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This reaction occurred at the concrete base of the containment chamber, directly below the reactor vessel, the bottom of which had melted away with the core.  This left the melted material above it, the reactor, the reactor cap, the containment cap, and the roof lying in the direct path of the perpendicular to the plane of the ground zero concrete pad (direction of the blast, straight up).  In short, it created a nuclear mortar, sending everything in the reactor tube up into the atmosphere.

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Now there are those who say it was a China Syndrome steam explosion.  But the pattern of the explosion would have been much different had it been beneath the containment vessel.  The vector would not have been so vertical or so high, since it wouldn’t have had a solid chamber for the projectile, more a ground wrecking explosion than a shot fired.  And the flash in the film shows a hydrogen explosion at opposite ends of the building preceding the launch of the dark mass out the roof, which is a pattern that a steam explosion would not have created.  It was a nuclear detonation with a hot payload.

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I can go into greater detail as to why this all fits together as no other explanation does, but this is not the place for that.  Here, I just want to explain what is to me the most logical explanation for the explosion at Unit 3 on 3/15/11.  It explains why so much of the reactor contents was scattered about the Japanese landscape.  It explains why the plume reached so high, carrying so much of the reactor with it.  It also explains why there was so much of the vaporized core sent up into the stratosphere and why so much Xenon was released.

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It also acts as a warning that MOX should not under any circumstances be allowed to melt down.  This pretty much means that it is a very bad idea for use as a fuel in nuclear power plants.

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As a note: The amount of plutonium in MOX is not huge, in some cases as high as 18%, but closer to 8% in most cases.  This is about 20X as found in spent LEU fuel rods.  While not a huge amount over all, it is sufficient in these concentrations to trigger a small yield detonation.

Fleure

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Amarillis (one of over a thousand photos of the local flora that I’ve shot with the Nikon in the last six weeks):

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Lost Candy

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2012 at 11:01 am

Trying to deal with various candies that I love and cherish that are no longer distributed in this area.

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For starters, Lindt Swiss Chocolate series (specifically the White Chocolate, which is also used in Helen’s white chocolate cheesecake) suddenly disappeared from the area stores at the same time.  The Classic series chocolate is available, but it’s not the same as the Swiss series.  The same Swiss series is used to make the Lindt truffles.  So it hasn’t been dropped from production.  I’ve tried getting it through several local stores, but to no avail.  I just ordered some online.  There were only like a dozen in stock.

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Second is Brach’s Milk Made caramels.  It also has disappeared from store shelves in the same manner, there for years and years, then poof, suddenly gone.  I have a five pound package in route to the house (currently in Houston), scheduled for delivery this week.  It could have been here already, but I chose the free shipping, which adds a couple of days to transit time.  There are plenty of other caramels available, but none are as good as Brach’s, hands down.

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$60 for candy purchases online in one week (and that’s with free shipping).  Looks bad, but they will last.  (Well, maybe not the caramels, as Helen loves them.  But she can buy the next round.)

Human side emerging

Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 at 9:55 am

Almost recovered from the 11 days of partying.  Audio editing is behind me, at least the mandatory stuff.  The last batch from the party isn’t too bad.  I should get another video of Patty up on the Bottomland site.

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That means a day of light chores outside.  Plenty to do, but I’m not rushing into things.  Getting back my pace easily.  Things like weather stripping that need repairs.  The barn will probably get the final summer upgrades next week.  We’ll be moving plants out of the greenhouse too, as summer approaches.

Still healing….

Posted on Saturday, April 7th, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Coming to face once again with chores.l  I remember them from a couple of weeks ago.  This is not to be confused with the much harder act of partying, from which I’m still recovering.  I’m not racing into them again, more like the first trickle, when I tell my aches and pains to take a back seat.  They do as told, but they haven’t gotten bored of complaining yet.

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I’ve done about as much house keeping on the Mac that I can do at this point.  Time to start making it work again.  New video camera (donated) squared away.  It will replace the Nikon as barn video camera when the new extended life batteries arrive.

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New fridge (my old one from Montgomery) in the barn, replacing the old avocado cooler.

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I’m about to start editing the audio of 2 Way Radio at Helen’s party.

Farewell, Old Friend

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2012 at 7:22 am

Lost an online friend yesterday, known to many as France or francemi.  She had heart failure while in CPU.  We collaborated on a number of projects together before she went on to create KCTC (Kids and Cute Toons Club).  She touched many lives and will be missed by many.  Farewell, old friend.

Vidcam

Posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Well, looks like as soon as I get the Nikon, a DXG video camera is being donated to the Bottomland cause.  Floods of digital work during spring.  No no, it’s supposed to happen in the summer.  But the vidcam will have its use.  Having the mixer soundtrack available for edits makes for a pretty good music video.

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One good news is that I get to work on the barn, so I’ll be outside.  Light over the door, ceiling fans, roof sprinklers, and other summerizing chores.  So I won’t be tied to the desk all the time.

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But there is the party audio tracks to edit.  I listened last night, pretty good raw material.

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Still dragging from the 11 day ordeal.  Today is Ω+3.  Need a few more days, but I think I returned to the living today.  Grocery/hardware run today.

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Napping a lot…….