Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back to Tracy Bowl for DDR

My surgeon cleared me for DDR (as well as my chiropractor), so I am just back from Tracy Bowl. The parking in front had 2 rows filled to capacity - on Tuesday morning! Bowlers, naturally... What a weird passtime. I entered the valley building together with a bowler couple of about my age. They both had this strange air of mobile home about them, the type which liberal media loves to exploit. Yet their bowling equipment was carried in expensive looking airplane-format cases. Talk about dedication! Needless to say, I love visiting the DDR maching in the bowl, if only to gawk at the public.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tracy OpenMRI

For a computer geek, OpenANYthing means either adherence to standards, or, lately, having the source code open (in other words, publicly available). For example, OpenVMS is an open VMS (code is not open, but it runs on "open" CPUs now -- and a case of marketing lie too), OpenSuSE is an open SuSE (its code was open before, but the process wasn't), OpenSolaris is Solaris with its code formally "open", although not useful for anyone else.

As you can see, often "Open-" is nothing but marketing bullshit. Geeks like "open" and dislike "closed", so it's only a mindshare game.

So, what is an OpenMRI? Can I get my scans on a CD-ROM there -- in an open format like PNG? It turns out that no, that's not what it means. OpenMRI is not a marketing term or trademark, but a technical term. Plus, Tri-Valley imaging made a mistake naming the Tracy facility: all such places elsewhere have "Open MRI" spelled with a space.

In this case, "open" refers to the design of the MRI machine. Older MRI machines had magnets rotating in the same way as sensor array rotates in a CAT scan machine. Since the magnet is big, the machine had a shape of narrow tube or tunnel piercing the huge housing. Such design made some patients claustrophobic. New, or "open" design, looks more like a C-clamp, with its sides open for the benefit of people with unstable minds. It also takes less space and may be more precise.

I would still like my PNG, if you don't mind.

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

A garden waste week.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Neighbours gone wild

This is certainly an amusing neighbourhood. Check this out:

I do not know just how that happened, but I can see a monster jeep bursting out of the gate. Or a monster minivan, by the look of the tracks.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Trinkle, move over

I wrote about the local business of agricultural flying before, the Trinkle Brothers. They ran a very unusual aircraft, a Schiweitzer biplane. Imagine Antonov An-2 without a cabin, and you get the idea just how big that thing is. Trinkle recently started to operate from a strip near the prison, at Kasson road.

The other day I went to Stockton, and there was a big jam on 205. So, I took the Tracy Blvd. north to Rt. 4. Somewhere right before the first bridge, on the left side, I saw a landing strip and a conventional ag plane. Something like Air Tractor. Again, I was amased by its size.

Running an Air Tractor may give a business some advantages. For one thing, you fuel it with Jet-A and not 100LL fuel, which may be cheaper. Persistent rumors about the end of 100LL keep circulating and I figure it's just a matter of time before it's gone forever. Also, a turbine is way more reliable. Basically, it never breaks and you never have any standing time, which can be costly (avoids a siege by a mob of angry farmers, too). All you have to do is to maintain it regularly, like your car. Unfortunately, this is where disadvantages start. How about an oil change for $10K? And I heard of hot area inspections for $100K on some engines.

I saw them flying today and dusting between Banta and 205.

205 Widening Watch, 01

I saw the first evidence of 205's widening today.

Putting new roadbed and asphalt in is a piece of cake. The biggest problem is with all the overpasses and bridges we have. As we know, there was some activity at the intersection with Tracy Bouleward. They cracked the side baffles on inside of the overpass (ok, you have to see to understand), but it wasn't clear where they want to go with that.

However, there's one place where you can see real widening: it's a narrow bridge, or almost a tunnel, which pierces the long ramp at the eastern end of eastbound 205. It goes in parallel to the wash, and is used for the service vehicle traffic by flood control and irrigation people.

Apparently, someone decided to pick the low hanging fruit. This bridgelet is certainly the easiest thing to adjust on the whole length. By this logics, the junction with Grant Line is going to be the most "interesting" and done the last. Just look at those long spans!

Monday, August 21, 2006


I saw a couple of ultralights with candy bar wing flying south along the Corral Hollow yesterday (on Sunday), at about 11 a.m.

In America, ultralights long were neglected, and the best you could find was a motorized deltaplane. In Europe, what is known as "ultralight" is actually a very small airplane. A big difference! About two years ago, FAA introduced a classification known as "Light Sport Airplane", which corresponds to European "ultralight". The intent here is to break the stalemate of defect lawsuits, inertial, liability lawsuits, onerous regulation, lack of parking, and other good things of modern life, in order to stem the decline of General Aviation. This is very interesting, and I am thinking about getting one of those things myself.

Meanwhile, ultralights made a small progress, within the existing law. The delta wing was replaced with a normal wing and empenage. The pilot does not control the machine with moving his/her body about, but moves control surfaces, just like Glenn Curtiss did in 1910. This is only possible within the confines of the regulations thanks to new lightweight materials made affordable. This type of ultralight is what I saw over Tracy.

TRASH @West: Recycling

Hah, you thought I forgot, right? Actually... You are right!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Water Quality

I dunno if anyone noticed, but the water quality improved dramatically in Tracy over the last year. In fact, it happened over the span of a month or so, some time around April or May, if I remember correctly. Before, the water stunk, presumably because of agricultural runoff. Now, it doesn't. I link it with a pipeline about which Tracy Press wrote about two years ago.

Surprisingly, the Water Quality Report that homeowners receive every year mentions basically no change. When we started to get bad water, there was no change either.

I wish something could be done about calcium though. Also, the bad water period did a number on the growth inside the pipes, so my plumbing needs to be somehow cleaned now. I have no ideas how to approach the problem.

Monday, August 14, 2006

TRASH @West: Garden Waste

Garden waste week.

Four-wheeling away

I was away off-roading last week, so the week was thin on posting. By off-roading I mean "really, no road", and not just "compacted gravel roads".

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

TRASH @West: Recycling

I was away on vacation.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sakura Groceries in Stockton

I'm just back from Sakura in Stockton, which is a mom-and-pop store trading in Japanese food and small items. It's amazing. The food selection is level with the biggest supermarkets in San Francisco's Japantown (Ichiban Kan and Nijiya Markets). Of course, Ichiban Kan has overwhelming supply of kitchenware and stationary, and Nijiya has raws of beauty products and fresh vegetable section. Nonetheless, if you just want basics, nothing better than Sakura can be desired.

In saw (presumably) owner's 6-year old daughter in the store. She's the sweetest little thing imaginable. I thought I'd melt when I heard her speaking (in Japanese - and a quite concise and polite one too).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Swallow chicks

Cute, isn't it.