Along the Way: MTA Arts for Transit

Along the Way is a tour through New York’s underground museum of contemporary art, works commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit for the subway system and commuter rail lines. Vivid murals by Roy Lichtenstein and Romare Bearden convey the energy of Times Square, while Robert Wilson’s Coney Island Baby captures the festive spirit of the city’s playland. Currently underway are a photographic installation by Mike and Doug Starn at the new Fulton Street Transit Center and a large-scale ceramic wall drawing by Sol LeWitt at Columbus Circle.

Initiated in 1985, this collection of site-specific public art now encompasses more than 150 pieces in mosaic, terra-cotta, bronze, faceted glass, and mixed media. The program takes its cue from the original mandate that the subways be designed, constructed, and maintained with a view to the beauty of their appearance, as well as to their efficiency. Arts for Transit is committed to the preservation and restoration of the original ornament of the system and to commissioning new works that exemplify the principles of public art, relating directly to the places in which they are installed and the community around them.

Rise of The Machine or Deadprogrammer’s Throne

Remember I was lamenting the lack of robots in my household? Well, I went ahead and did something about that. I am a proud owner of a butt washing robot.

Yep, I purchased a top of the line Toto S300 Washlet (Jasmin). It looks kind of like that, except I have a different model toilet, different mosaic tile on the floor and walls and an orchid that I bought at the Rockefeller Center Orchid show instead of the vase with a lily. But the idea is the same.

Now, think about the question that Howard Stern’s co-host asked Dan Rather. “Do you check after you’re done wiping?” And how many times do you have to check before you are satisfied with results? Toto washlet seat does an amazingly good job of washing your ass. I mean, squeaky clean. Really.

Being top of the line, Jasmine seat comes with really amazing features. Believe it or not, it forces air through a deodorizing filter while you do your duty. And the dryer works much better than I expected. Yes, you have to wait a minute or two, so you should keep some toilet paper around if you need to dry yourself in a hurry.

The machine is so smart that it remembers when you usually use it and turns itself off to preserve energy during “off peak” hours. Still, even when it enters “sleep mode” water heats up instantly and is always at the temperature that you set it. Well, almost, maybe the first couple of seconds it’s a bit colder, but not freezing cold.

The remote control is very, very usable. I like how they hid rarely used buttons under the top cover. Cleaning is a snap.

The only thing that is not so cool is a big fat wire loop that you can’t see on the pictures on Toto’s website. It’s located on the right side of the seat and I got to tell you, it look like that wire on the side of Borg’s head.

I guess it’s there to remind us about the dark side of technology.

Rumble, rumble, rumble. Honk! Honk!

Google’s 60+ (up from 50+) PHDs seem to be applying all of their energy into making search results suck more. From what I understand, the power of pagerank lies in harvesting links from pages. I wonder if there are any statistics, but I think that there is a decline in personal homepages. You know, the “Here’s is a picture of me, and here’s one of my cat. And these are my favorite links” kind. People who used to put those together are now blogging. So the fact that fewer people are linking other than in blogs could very well be the reason why pagerank is sucking more.

Cutting out blogs from search results also cuts out a lot of very good stuff. For instance, a search for “cray at chippewa falls friedlander” is not going to bring back a link to my article.

Why am I pissed? Well, it’s because I can’s seem to find an answer to the following question. Do military tanks have traffic horns? I also can’t find the specifications for surgical blue and green colors. This sucks. Somebody must have blogged about this.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

mentioned in a post that his ship used to have gas turbines while in military service, but then was refitted with diesels. I realized that I did not know how a gas turbine engine works. I new that jets use turbines, but not much beyond that. Well, came to my rescue.

The article mentioned, that there is a surprising amount of activity in home built gas turbine engines. Surprising doesn’t even cover it. “HOLY CRAP” is more like it.

Check this out:
Mike’s Home Built Turbojet Engine
Larry’s gas turbine jet engine
John Williamson’s gas turbine and pulse jet stuff!
And that’s just the first page from google!

The dudes who make ray guns out of microwave magnetrons pale in comparison.

Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! or My Lame Attempt at Turbo

Ok, so I have been without cable for three weeks. Something happened in the Cablevision hub down below. They should be able to fix the damn thing without me being there, right? Nope. I must be there. My sysadmin neighbor had the same problem. He made an appointment, which was promptly missed by the cable guy. On the second try his service was restored, but the technician did not do anything about my connection, even though he was told about it.

So I decided to find out the following: is it possible to have Cablevision fix my cable without me being there? Come on, cable is not important enough to take a day off from work, right? What if I can’t take a day off? What? What?

So I decided to “Turbo” (definitely click the link). That’s what a real pro of getting things out of customer service calls his art.

Well, I suck at it. I summoned level 2 support. Bampf + cloud of blue stinky smoke. No dice. I summoned a director of customer service (a director is located below VP in the corporate food chain. My boss is a director). Ca-bampfff + a cloud of stinky red smoke. No dice. I decided to give up and make an appointment. I guess I could work from home one day.

You see, with this amount of energy expended, I could get a satellite dish which would provide me with a better selection of channels, better picture quality and cheaper price. But I can’t. Dishes are banned from my apartment building.

Interestingly, the Cablevision director said that in the future Cablevision will have more channels than any dish network. I wanted to inquire about how they were gonna cram all of that bandwidth into coax, but I decided that it was enough smart assing for the day.

What worries me, is that I am starting to become more and more vocal about getting good customer service. I sympathize more with corporations that are loosing business because of idiocy of all levels of management in designing the customer experience, than with CRs. clerks and managers who have to endure my smart arse requests, arguments and refusal to take crap from them without even a half-hearted fight.

What is it? Am I becoming “just like the Americans” as that sleazeball realtor said?

Shake and Bake

Q: What is measured in shakes?
A: Time. 1 shake = 10 nanoseconds.

This unit of time was definitely created by Manhattan Project scientists, but why it was chosen is not 100% clear.

Theory # 1 – Too morbid
A shake is only 10 nanoseconds in time and arises from the theory of the chain reaction where one free neutron causes a fission that creates 2.5 to 3 new neutrons like a huge pyramid scheme and by the time the last layers of fissions occur they produce enough energy to “shake” the earth severely.

Theory # 2 – Too dry

I like the term “shake” – 10 nanoseconds. I think it’s roughly the time it
takes the average 1 Mev neutron to cover a distace of one mean free path (13 cm?) in fissile materials at maximum normal densities

Theory # 3 – Oralloy? Pu plasma? Shoo – way over my head.

a shake being roughly 10 ns – the time it takes neutrons in oralloy or Pu plasma to cover their Mean Free Path

Theory # 4 – Sounds just about right.

The ‘shake’ is a defined unit of time. Scientists working on the Manhattan project
(to build the first atomic bomb) found that the detonation cycle for the ‘device’
lasted 30 billionths of a second, or 30 nanoseconds. A shake was defined as
10 nanoseconds so the detonation cycle of the atomic bomb could be said to take
‘three shakes of a lamb’s tail.’