March 20: Dowd's springtime NYT column has inspired me. Her column—the one about the dearth of women columnists writing serious opinion pieces, and how personally men take professional criticism when it is from a woman, the one about inequities ("While a man writing a column taking on the powerful may be seen as authoritative, a woman doing the same thing may be seen as castrating."), castration folklore, and the predominance of testosterone in blogging and TV shouting worlds—is a call to quills!
Many women in the great cosmic scheme of things feel VERY comfortable writing straight opinion stuff. We don't shrug, and we CAN bat something out when we hear the news, wherever it is, whatever it is. So, here goes! A curse on both your houses (i.e., your vacation home and your city apartment)!
Oh, but I'll keep my day job, because for every dollar a man makes....
April 28: Terri Shiavo, Pope John Paul II, Frank Perdue. Quick. Answer this: In the same time frame, how many troops have died in the Middle East?
"I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd, I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God..."—Song of Myself, Walt Whitman
May 1: I need to have my house painted. Because the garage is sided with baby blue vinyl (or is it Carolina blue?), I feel my color options are limited for the old asbestos shingles. My painter uses Benjamin Moore paints, so I looked at their colors on http://www.benjaminmoore.com. Maybe my options are not limited.
I hover over what looks like the color of my garage -- oh, it's Blue Jean, which is a little lighter than Ash Blue and little bluer than Waterfall. As I hover, I'm able to change the color of the wall in the picture, an interior wall with a pillowed couch and pictures that are not mind. Let me click on the Color Index. I don't need the Color Makeover -- I just need my house painted. I'm not a Professional Designer or Architect, so I skip over that. Ok, here's Benjamin Moore’s NEW Personal Color Viewer 2.0, a "color visualization program." Give me more. Click.
For ten dollars I can take my color experience to the next level. Import digital photos of your insides and outside, and slap on some color with the brush of a mouse. I know people who would like to virtually paint every nook and cranny, but I need the real thing. Oh, there's a website version. I'll try it. Registered Users. I hate that. Either they want me to use it or not. I'll do it later. Back to colors.
Color samples. I think I know the answer to Why Sample color? I choose the link. For more information, I'll click here. No, I don't want to know How To Color Sample or Preparation, Application and Evaluation. Show me some colors. Maybe if I click The Palette link. I'm closer. Hmmm. Marketing blah, blah, blah. For a list of the available colors, click here.
One might expect to see available colors after clicking on a link like that. No colors, but a list of color NAMES, from Acorn Yellow to Yosemite Sand (ha, that's a pretty funny take-off on the name of the cartoon character). Let's see if the PDF printer friendly version has any color (as if PDFs are colorful documents...). Nope. Same list.
I look at the PDF How to Sample Color Brochure, but it's nothing but the stuff I just looked at. Maybe I need Color Trends. I enter the sweepstakes, but the other links seem to circle back to where I was.
I shouldn't be looking under Color to see colors. I've hired Bob, The Painter. Let me click under professional Contractor. Oh, new products. The featured product is Eco Spec(R) Paint. What's that? "High performance product with low environmental impact." Low volatile organic compounds, low odor -- which begs the question, what's in all the other paints, Ben?
There's a PDF technical bulletin that says I CAN PAINT MY VINYL SIDING! Well! BUT..."Do not paint vinyl siding a color deeper than the original siding shade. The darker color will absorb more heat, possibly causing the siding to warp, resulting in additional repairs and expense." But I want the old house a dark slate blue or grey so that it WILL absorb more heat and offset the lack of insulation! Close.
Another PDF technical bulletin tells Bob (the painter) that the darker color I want will have a "higher chroma value" so he needs to tint the base. Bob already told me that's what he was going to do. But I didn't know that "These bases contain a minimal amount of white pigment which is used to promote hide." Promote hide? Close.
Let's try the Homeowner link. Color Families actually has some color, but not as many as the last page of my HTML book. The color Wheel? No names OR HEX numbers. Here's yet another color wheel, very interactive, spinning and pulsing, but no product names.
The First Annual Benjamin Moore HUE™ Awards Call for Entries -- maybe they don't have colors yet! Maybe they just have the IDEA of colors. Perhaps Benjamin Moore is all about names of things, like a Jeopardy category. Maybe I'll win the trip to Milan.
My time on this site is out of hand. Way too. Let me try the Personal color Viewer again. Let's Paint. And it works. And loads and loads and loads the interface.
I'd better call Bob. Maybe it's not Benjamin Moore paints he uses.
Still loading. Samples and products.
May 11: Today a small plane drifted toward the White House, people were evacuated from the Capitol, the Vice President was taken to a bunker, the First Lady and Mrs. Reagan were evacuated from the White House...while President George W. Bush was riding his bicycle in suburban Maryland. You can't make up this stuff. PeeWee Herman is our President.
June 1: A century ago, friends and neighbors honored the dying sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens by writing and producing an outdoor pageant, A MASQUE OF OURS: THE GODS AND THE GOLDEN BOWL. Apparently it combined Greek theatre with the newly published Henry James novel, becoming a spectacle that, no doubt, rivaled the young Dadists and precursored our own 60s and 70s frolics.
This month, marking the 100th anniversary of the Cornish Colonists' celebration, three performances ("only") will be put on free of charge at the Cornish, New Hampshire home of Saint-Gaudens -- June 24 (6pm), June 25 (6pm), and June 26 (2pm) at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.
Consider it a workshop on how to give a good going away party.
July 14: A week ago today, bombs went off in London. A handful of people were killed -- far fewer than are killed by drunk drivers every month in America. Everyone these days is all agog over terrorism. These bombs were no accident, although authorities at first told us that it was a power surge.
What is the essence of the story? It has been a whodunit with little reflection on the bigger picture. Who has mentioned the American Taliban? Who has mentioned Timothy McVeigh? Who has mentioned the Columbine boys? All of these young Americans with the same anger, the same powerlessness, the same purpose-driven life as the child of a fish and chips shop immigrant.
Our generation -- so self-righteous, self-involved, so eager to be free on our own terms, without huddled masses, morphing the cactus of success.... My generation -- breaking promises and commitments, knowing the answers to the questions we make up, reflecting on our own reflections.... Our generation has done a dismal job raising our children.
Or, perhaps their values are ones we lost, or ones we just pretended to have. Perhaps they are the true children of the 60s. A power surge, indeed.
Oh, it's Bastille Day.
August 9: Today the space shuttle landed.
When a manned space vehicle re-enters the Earth's atmosphere, air friction can produce external surface temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit - well above the melting point of steel. Special thermal barriers are required to protect the vehicle and its occupants.
NASA selected materials for Columbia, the first operational orbiter, that were designed to insulate the aluminum and/or graphite epoxy skin against a wide range of extreme temperatures, including a low of minus 250 degrees F. and the reentry temperatures that occur about 20 minutes before touchdown. The basic materials were Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC), Low- and High-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation tiles, and Felt Reusable Surface Insulation blankets. Subsequent design improvements included Flexible Insulation Blankets and Fibrous Refractory Composite Insulation.
There are approximately 24,300 tiles and 2,300 Flexible Insulation Blankets on the outside of each orbiter.
Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) is a light gray, all-carbon composite. RCC, along with inconel foil (metal) insulators and quartz blankets, protect the orbiter's nose, chin, and wing leading edges from the highest expected temperatures and aerodynamic forces. It also is used in the arrowhead area at the forward section of the orbiter where the external tank is attached. RCC is used there for shock protection during pyrotechnic separation of the external tank from the orbiter.
Fabrication of RCC begins with graphite cloth which is saturated with a special resin. Layers of the cloth are then laminated and cured, after which they are heat-treated to convert the resin into carbon. After further processing, the material is treated with a mixture of alumina, silicon and silicon carbide to give it a grayish, oxidation-resistant coating, and then heated in a furnace. The orbiter's nose cap is fabricated as one piece while each of the wings has 22 separate RCC panels and T-seals on the leading edge. Each panel is affixed to the orbiter's skin by mechanical attachments.
About 70 percent of an orbiter's external surface is shielded from heat by a network of more than 24,000 tiles formed from a silica fiber compound. More advanced materials such as Flexible Insulation Blankets have replaced tiles on some of the upper surfaces of the orbiter.
Coated black tiles - known as High-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation (HRSI) - cover the lower surface of the orbiter, areas around the forward windows, upper body flap, the base heat shield, the "eyeballs" on the front of the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pods, and the leading and trailing edges of the vertical stabilizer and the rudder speed brake. The black tiles are located where temperatures can reach as high as 2,300 degrees F.
Coated white tiles - known as Low-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation (LRSI) - are designed to insulate the spacecraft from temperatures up to 1,200 degrees F. LRSI tiles were originally used extensively, but are now replaced in most areas by Flexible Insulation Blankets. LRSI is still used on the upper surface of the forward fuselage above the crew windows and on some parts of the OMS pods.
Tiles vary in size, thickness and density. HRSI tiles are generally 6 inches square; thickness varies from 1 to 5 inches. They come in different densities: 9- and 22-pound- per-cubic-foot tiles. LRSI tiles are larger and thinner, generally 8 inches square and from 0.2 to 1 inch thick. LRSI tiles come in 9- and 12-pound-per-cubic-foot densities.
The thermal properties of the tiles are dependent on their very high purity. The manufacture of both types of tiles begins with fibers of pure white silica refined from common sand. The fibers are mixed with deionized water and other chemicals and poured into a plastic mold where excess liquid is squeezed out of the mixture.
The damp blocks are dried in the nation's largest microwave oven at the Sunnyvale, California plant of Lockheed Space Operations Co. Then, they are sintered in a 2,350 degrees F oven. Sintering fuses the fibers without melting them.
Rough cutting and precision sizing of the tiles are done with saws. Final shaping of the surface is accomplished with 3- and 5-axis numerically controlled milling machines using diamond-tipped cutters. The tiles are then spray-coated, glazed and waterproofed. The processing and inspection of each tile is documented, and individual tiles are traceable back to the original sand lots. No two tiles on an orbiter are exactly alike. The curvature of each tile's underside is matched to the contour of the Shuttle's skin at the exact point the tile is to be bonded.
The two types of tiles are the same except for their coating, which is primarily borosilicate glass. Chemicals are added to the coating to give the tiles different colors and heat rejection capabilities.
Surface heat dissipates so quickly that a tile can be held by its corners with a bare hand only seconds after removal from a 2,300 degrees F oven, while the center of the tile still glows red with heat.
The tiles are delicate and have to be protected from the stresses on the orbiter's structure during flight. Launch blasts, aerodynamic pressures, steering forces, vibration and acceleration cause the vehicle body to bend and shift slightly during launch. In the cold soak of space, the vehicle shrinks slightly, only to expand again during re-entry.
To prevent damage to the tiles, Strain Isolation Pads - a layer of nylon felt Nomex (flame-retardant material) - are used between the tiles and the orbiter's surface. The pads are bonded to the tiles, as well as to the skin of the Shuttle, with RTV, a room-temperature vulcanizing silicone adhesive. The tile surface bonded to the pads is densified with silica-type solutions for added tensile strength.
Another type of protective blanket material is Felt Reusable Surface Insulation (FRSI) blankets. These blankets protect the orbiter surfaces from temperatures between 350 degrees and 700 degrees F. The insulation is coated with a white silicone rubber paint. FRSI once covered about 25 percent of the vehicle. Now, the material is used only on the upper section of the payload bay doors and the inboard sections of the wing upper surface.
Most of the LRSI tiles and FRSI blankets have been replaced by Flexible Insulation Blankets (FIBs), composed of a waterproofed, quilted fabric with silica felt between two layers of glass cloth sewn together with silica thread. The average FIB weighs 4.9 kilograms or 11 pounds per cubic foot.
Other thermal materials used are the filler bar and gap fillers which seal gaps between tiles and between the tiles and the orbiter structure. The seals protect the aluminum and/or graphite epoxy skin of the orbiter by preventing the influx of hot plasma gas. The gap fillers are envelopes of ceramic fiber cloth stuffed with a resilient ceramic filler batt, and sometimes with a metal foil. The filler bar consists of strips of Nomex felt coated with RTV, and is part of the assembly method used for tiles.
Source: ORBITER THERMAL PROTECTION SYSTEM, KSC Release No. 11-89, February 1989 at http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/nasafact/tps.htm
August 10: Gap fillers
Could NASA not have thought of another term, perhaps more dignified, to explain the goop they stick between the shuttle's tiles? And, if it's so important, WHY CAN IT BE SO EASILY PULLED OUT WITH NO CONSEQUENCE????
Gap fillers plug the spaces between shuttle heatshield tiles. The extremely thin gap fillers are made of a felt-like material and ceramic and are held in place with glue and by the tight fit - except for that one that was sticking out one inch between thermal tiles of Discovery and the other six-tenths of an inch.
A quick online search finds these makers of Thermally Conductive Gap Filler (mostly in the UK):
- Fujipoly American Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Polymer Industries Co., Ltd., and a "multi-plant system to serve your electronic packaging needs." Fuji Polymer Industries was established by a joint capital venture between Dow Corning and Chugai Bussan in 1978 as a company that would specialize in the secondary processing of industrial silicone rubber.
- SARCON Thermal Management Materials, including SARCON® GR-B, the high heat conductivity gap filler/pad, SARCON® GR-C, the electromagnetic wave absorption gap filler pad, and SARCON® GR-D, the general purpose gap filler pad. The filler pads are available now with prices starting as low as $0.15 per square inch.
- ACC Silicones, the world's leading independent group of silicone compounders.
- Chomerics, a Division of Parker Hannifin Corporation, makers of THERM-A-GAP™ 570 and 580, Thermally Conductive Gap Fillers, THERM-A-GAP™ T630, Thermally Conductive Form-in-Place Gap Filler, THERM-A-GAP™ G974, Highly Thermally Conductive Gap Filler, and THERM-A-GAP™ 174, 274, and 574 Thermal Gap Fillers.
Resellers include Digi-Key Corporation of Minnesota and OSCO LTd, a UK distributor for Fujipoly.
August 11: Caulk
Last weekend I learned how to caulk. I also learned about glazing windows, but this caulk business is a revelation. Caulk is what is used in gaps, mistakes, and any untidy area that needs a quick pick-me-up. Caulk covers a multitude of sins. It is the handyman's gap filler.
Gap fillers are all-American. Like Tiger or Derek, they fill in for childhood dreams of great sports achievements. Like Oprah, they fill the cracks of a friendship gap for too many people. Like Rove, Rice, and Cheney, they cover for the inadequacies of American presidents.
Gap fillers, like caulk, keep things looking good even if things aren't so good. Thank you, NASA, for showing us how easy they are to remove.
September 2: Sheep
Social scientists tell us that people tend to behave well in disasters. Years of research show that people tend not to panic; instead, they tend to work together to help each other leave dangerous areas and they often converge on disaster areas -- rather than fleeing -- to offer help.
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina correctly represents the research. MOST people are behaving VERY well in New Orleans. But, like the unruly boys in the back of the classroom, the tiny minority get the attention. One might even suggest that this tiny minority does what it does in order to GET the attention. Looting as a form of tantrum. And the media points and shoots.
It is equally profound to see that most people in New Orleans -- a large majority -- wish to be led! All they want is to be told where to go and what to do.
Those with and in authority tend to overlook the vacuums in leadership.
September 9: Our Efficient Government
In the summer of 2004, the federal government completed the paperwork and wrote an extensive report on hurricane disaster preparation and response in New Orleans. The report was completed a full year before the disaster struck. You can't complain about THAT efficiency in government! The federal government is WAY ahead of the game!
Oh, that's right. Hurricane Pam was a drill, and Hurricane Katrina was real. I get confused.
September 16: Why are you surprised?
We have a federal executive branch who believes that it is the responsibility to protect America from foreign invasion -- once they figure out that we're being invaded. We have an executive who thinks it's not the responsibility of the federal government to manage the affairs of localities. This holds true for all natural disasters, except abortion and school curriculum.
We should not be surprised about what happened in New Orleans. The country voted for outsourcing and states rights. We get the government for which we vote.
September 27: More Hurricane News
The price of home heating oil and natural gas will skyrocket this winter -- but only for blue states.
October 2: One summer when I was busy with myself, August Wilson announced that he was dying. Today, to my surprise, he died at 60 years of age. A few years ago I heard him speak at the University at Albany. As he was being introduced, he sat alone with a white woman behind him. As he rose to speak, the white woman rubbed the top of his back with what could only be taken as love: you'll be fine, you are great, you are loved. His nervous assurance reminded me of myself. His leaving school didn't. His stubbornness as he wrote the best play he could to be admitted to the O'Neill summer school was something familiar to me, but his courage to actually do it foils my failure and self-worth.
He reminded me of the poetry and music that can be drama, that American drama is American opera.
I expected the world to stop and mourn when August Wilson died, but nothing stands still.
October 13: Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize. Sparse sentences of careful words. I think Pinteresque. Writing is the problem.
November 6: Today is my birthday. I was not on the Writer's Almanac again.
November 24: Thanksgiving in America has become less about God and more about family. But in a cruel Christian twist, the American Family of God has become narrowly defined, noninclusive, and limited.
So, as we sit at one table, we remain a family. But I sense we have grown splintered and stay together only because the tops of the family tree are in their 80s. Their horizons are limited by time. Ours are limited by a lack of vision. Or maybe a lack of imagination.
December 24: Christmas Eve
Cat sitting in a quiet house, with quiet (sometimes) cats. It's nice to be with mammals that speak as I do.
I had a productive day -- jumped out of bed about 8:45, made coffee in the traveling coffee maker I took catsitting (that holds filters that I already have), showered and bageled and sped off to my house. I ran into adult nephews at the post office, my mother's citizen Kane snow globe came in the mail (it is really quite gorgeous, although not well-packaged, although not broken), I wrapped the rest of the gifts, did laundry, made a cheese and ham strata, and slightly burned some apple/cranberry crisp while chipping ice off my driveway -- because it was in the 40s today. Traffic was very light -- so, where is everyone?
NOW I'm stiff as a board and tomorrow I will probably be bed-ridden. Alas. My best wishes.
"It's a Wonderful Life," ONE of my favorite movies, is on NBC right now -- but less interesting with commercials. Still good, though. I just finished a can of fat free ravioli, romaine, and a beer. And that's my Christmas Eve. Last night I fell asleep with the TV on, and tonight I think I'll do the same (although I wake up after about 20 minutes and turn off everything -- I don't sleep soundly).
May we fly with the gulls and laugh with the seals. love you all, each and every one.
December 25: Christmas 2005
Well, another Christmas of conspicuous consumption has come and gone. This year, because the list of gift giving obligations had reached 15 family members, it had been predetermined to draw names, and so this year we only gave one required gift. Parents refused to participate, so the requisite ceramic trivet pictured with a half full wine glass made its way from store shelf to mine. Or was it half empty? I gave my drawn name some Dean's Beans coffee (go to their website sometime and see if you can get it to work -- neat concept, but I've had to email with Dean himself to get the order -- nice guy).
The day began pleasant enough -- waking with Miss Jones and then having a quiet time drinking coffee and reading the newspapers like a usual Sunday morning. Driving was fine -- no traffic at 9:30 am. But I got there at about 10:15, when I was supposed to get there at 10, and people had already begun to eat breakfast, and they were done with their breakfasts and opening more gifts before my strata was even cooked. Family didn't like the low fat sausages I cooked special, and my oldest nephew was the only one who ate a scoop of cranberry apple crisp.
My mother liked all the little gift cards I gave her. My father asked what the USB storage stick was for. I got a tool kit from my name drawer. I suppose after 25 years in a house I need new tools. But all these things paled next to the DVD players, flat screen PC monitors, jewelry, sweaters, printers, and, of course, the mechanical toys that everyone seemed to be enjoying. I watched the opening of things I never knew existed, gifts including a computerized mechanical dog that was the focal point of many an hour of merriment. Just like a real dog, it made noise, ran around, rolled over, scratched, and lifted his leg to pee. [laughter all around] It was the Betsy Wetsy for Baby Boomers. All in all, I'd put this Christmas right up there with something like, say, Kristallnacht.
I'm not sure anyone noticed when I left. It was not Christmas at its finest moment, and I know it will not change.
December 31: Still Depressed About Christmas
The last paragraph/sentence of Annie Proulx's story Brokeback Mountain from The New Yorker, October 13, 1997 is profound: “There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it.”
This can be said about a lot of things.