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    Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Lasers and Submarines

    So, no less an authority than MSNBC tells us "lasers to seek, but not destroy subs" in this article.

    Sounds like this is a one-way technology, mainly being developed for communications purposes, since the lasers can be shot from the air and still travel underwater.

    Ted Jones is leading this research effort, and he's a pretty smart guy, cause he wrote this abstract:
    "An intense remote underwater laser acoustic source is under development at the Naval Research Laboratory. In a novel configuration, a tailored intense laser pulse can be designed to propagate many meters underwater and compress at a predetermined remote location. Controlled compression of these optical pulses is governed by a combination of optical group velocity dispersion and nonlinear Kerr self‐focusing. Optical compression can result in laser‐induced breakdown, localized heating, and acoustic shock generation (emphasis added). Recent experiments include near‐field acoustic source characterization using lens‐focused 400 and 800 nm pulses of a Ti:sapphire laser, as well as 532 and 1064 nm pulses of a YAG laser. Sound pressure levels over 210 dB were achieved using a compact laser. Acoustic source characterization includes measurements of photoacoustic energy conversion efficiency, acoustic power spectrum, and directivity. Nonlinear optical studies included the precise measurement of the Kerr index of water at 400 and 800 nm, as well as conditions for optical filament generation, and their effects on acoustic signals. Planned experiments include tests in a bubbly salt water tank. Experimental results will be presented, and laser sources and techniques for underwater acoustic generation will be compared."

    Seems pretty cool, eh?


    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Six Flags Over Georgia vs. Cedar Point

    The last week in May, my daughter (now 14) and I made a long road trip to Cedar Point - the world's best amusement park, in Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. I previously posted about an overnight we spent in Cincinnati.

    I really want to save the details of Cedar Point for another day, but, the short version is - best amusement park for number and variety of roller coasters, and best staff and operations I have experienced in my life. Period. Without equal.

    Our local park is Six Flags Over Georgia, and it's one to which we own season passes, the prices being too good to pass up. We've done this for many years, although we probably average only 4 visits a year, Six Flags being about 30 miles from our home, and our opportunities mostly limited to weekends, but we always try to go at least once on a weekday during summer. Today was the first of those days, and was our second visit (I discussed a little of visit one in this post).

    What I didn't mention here in that post was that Six Flags has adopted a policy on most of their roller coasters where riders are not permitted to bring anything they can't put in their pockets, into the station. This would include souvenir drink cups that season pass holders are enouraged to buy for $12.99 to get discount refills, any backpack type stuff, etc. In exchange, Six Flags conveniently offers lockers for short-term rental (2 hrs) at line entrances, for $1.

    This was my major complaint back in April. This policy spans the most popular coasters - Batman, Superman, Goliath, and some not-so-popular ones (Cyclone, Scorcher). It amounts to a surcharge of $1 for each ride. When I complained to Six Flags, their management was kind enough to offer these answers:
    1. The policy is a corporate policy
    2. The policy is intended to increase throughput on these rides
    Number 1 is a dodge, and since Six Flags is now in Chapter 11, I can't say that too many decisions coming out of their corporate office must be that great, but, maybe this one is a net money maker - I expect most of their visitors are one-time visitors and just accept this as a price of a vacation, along with the astronomical food prices, and the ridiculous parking prices. To their credit, they have held the line on actual admission and season passes - but they're picking it up here.

    Number 2 is a falsehood. After the first visit, we had a heated discussion about throughput at SFOG.net, and the consensus is that this policy does nothing to speed throughput, and that parks like Cedar Point don't have this policy, and are models for throughput. My actual experience anecdotally bears this out. As a matter of fact, my experience today made me wonder if this policy doesn't actually slow throughput.

    To wit, on Goliath, since the 4 gatekeepers at the entrance were not doing their job and stopping everyone with drink cups, and their was no one at the platform entrance, people were able to get to their seats with these, and attempted to put them in the storage bins - where, on this particular ride, you must place your flip-flops and loose fitting shoes (how adding a small backpack, or drink cup to this process slows things much, is beyond me). Anyway, because a couple of riders had drink cups and/or had not put their flops in the bin, we had to wait 2+ minutes (yes, I timed it) for the train to leave the station, while the operators held the train to find the offenders and have them 1)lose their cups and 2)get off and store their flops appropriately. If you're saying this sounds like a government operation, you're with me.

    On the Georgia Scorcher, which is an older, lamer, stand-up coaster, the park has decided that nothing comes off in the platform (you wear your shoes on this puppy). Anyway, the problem with this ride is NOT people's stuff, it's the 6 person crew who can not get a train out of the station in less than 2 minutes. This is a tough ride because of design issues with boarding for the operators, but please....

    I did have the opportunity to complete a complaint form, and talk to a supervisor, who was very friendly and conscientious. But, the story is the same - "Corporate makes us do this." Oh, and sprinkling in pablum about safety (how these rides operated safely the previous 40 years not explained) .

    Let's be honest, Six Flags. This is about one thing - money. If you would JUST ADMIT THAT, I would stop complaining and bring a few dollars with me when I visit.

    I have ideas for how you can meet the other stated goals (throughput, safety) and lessen the aggravation for your customers, but, you'll have to pay my consulting fee to get those.

    Operators - much better than years past - BUT - absolutely NOT at Cedar Point level.
    Operations - better also, BUT - not even in the same league as Cedar Point.
    Park Cleanliness - again, improving, but, not close to Cedar Point.

    We'll be going to the former Hard Rock park (now Freestyle Music Park) in Myrtle Beach in July, and will have a report from there. Honestly, knowing the financial condition of that park's owners, I expect it to stink.

    Also, later, I will upload some pics and videos of today's Six Flags visit, and our Cedar Point visit.


    Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    LIberal Womyn We'd Prefer Not to Enjoy (in bed, or anywhere else)

    Recently, Playboy.com decided to run an article about the 10 Conservative women they’d most like to hate f***. Somehow, they thought this would curry favor with their mostly Liberal audience and they made a concerted effort to advertise this crap through the Internet via Liberal bloggers.

    Somehow, they must’ve forgotten that there are some decent people on the Internet, and Conservatives, too, so, after a short time posted, Playboy took the article down, and semi-respectable Lib bloggers, like Anne Mullins at Politico had to issue mea culpas for their original links to the article (an article they clearly had not read).

    If you want to see the original, Blogwonks has it.

    Not that this is very hard, I decided to take a little revenge on the Left and choose my list of Liberal women we’d least like to, ummmm, well, you know. A few conditions – the women on this list have to have some clear leftist political leaning, must not be someone you’d want to introduce to your college pals as a conquest, and must be heterosexual, so that leaves out, well, the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow, and Ellen Degeneres (since they wouldn’t want to be with men anyway).

    They are:

    1. Arianna Huffington – founder of the Huffington Post, and turncoat to Conservatives (well, you’d feel jilted, too, if your ex-billionaire husband turned out gay).
    2. Michelle Obama – if “angry black woman” were personified, it’d be her. She’d never been truly proud of her country until her husband locked up the Democratic nomination. Not even when Affirmative Action was securing her a slot at Princeton. Now she just spends the taxpayers’ money on date nights.
    3. Andrea Mitchell – yech. A “reporter” so loose with the facts, and so hideous, she had to marry Alan Greenspan.
    4. Katie Couric – if Drudge didn’t constantly remind CBS how bad it has gotten since she took over the anchor chair from another woman we’d hate to ummm, you know (Dan Rather), we wouldn’t remember her.
    5. Barbara Streisand – the once great singer long ago decided to abandon Israel and her Jewish roots to shill for the Democrats. In her defense, she was smitten with Bill Clinton. So, I guess you could argue the Devil made her do it.
    6. Hillary Clinton – I almost feel sorry for Hillary. Almost.
    7. Nancy Pelosi – I know Nancy Pelosi isn’t a stupid woman. You don’t get to be Speaker by being stupid. You do, however, get to be speaker by being ruthless, shameless, and less than faithful to the truth.
    8. Janeane Garafalo – I am glad that she contends she’s not a lesbian, thus making her eligible for my list. The much tattooed, unfunny comedienne, and former Air America talk show host has a penchant for saying the stupidest things while proclaiming her own Liberal superiority. Poster child for modern Liberalism. If we didn’t have Janeane, we’d have to invent her.
    9. Helen Thomas – Worst reporter in American history. Enough said.
    10. Ellen Goodman – The Boston Globe columnist compares global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers and thinks empathy is an important qualification for Supreme Court justices (as long as it’s not empathy for the rule of law, the 2nd Amendment or 10th Amendments).

    Honorable Mention:

    1. Madonna – Just plain scary and definitely liberal, but, I used to have a massive crush, so I’d probably still take her.
    2. Susan Estrich – I wanted to include her in the top 10, since she is definitely a left-wing apologist, but, I actually like her, and find her attractive in a weird way. Also, since she masterminded the Dukakis campaign, I think she might be a closet conservative.
    3. Hanoi Jane Fonda – she deserves to be on the list, but, she was once hot, and she was married to Ted Turner, so she has an excuse now.
    4. Eleanor Clift – if The McLaughlin Group had any viewers anymore, she might crack the top 10, cause, she ain’t much to look at, and she’s for sure a left-wing nut case. But, nobody’s listening anymore.
    5. Maureen Dowd – The NYT columnist has the leftist bona fides, but, she’s just a tad too attractive, and you know she’s of low moral character, so, she can’t make the list, either.
    6. Angelina Jolie – sorry, but, Jon Voight’s daughter may be more conservative than you think. One of the few Hollywood elite to suggest that the War in Iraq may have been a good thing.

    Sunday, June 7, 2009

    P-8 First Flight

    Friday, the P-8A Poseidon made its first flight (h/t NOS) from Renton Field in Washington. The nearly 3 hour flight also included a fly-by of NAS Whidbey Island.

    The Navy plans to eventually order 117 of these, with IOC in 2013.

    Here's hoping the aging P-3's make it that long.