Converting Qatar: Tunnel Boring Machines

Still not sure why an article about spending US$35 billion over ten years to bore 200 miles of subway tunnels appears in Converting Today (Europe’s Leading Converting Magazine), but here it is:  Qatar set for next tunneling boom.

Converting Industry Overview

Changes in packaging technology, security requirements, safety requirements, consumer expectations, and the increasing need for information and efficiency on the production floor all mean new opportunities for converters and their control systems.  But what is “converting?”  Converting is a family of loosely-related processes that occur at or near the end of a web forming line to improve the characteristics of the web, or to “convert” it into products.  A web usually refers to a continuous sheet of relatively flexible material, like paper or film.  A web is usually formed by pouring or extruding liquid material onto moving belts and/or rotating rolls which dry it, heat it, cool it, tangle it, and, in general, form it to a point where it can be wound into large rolls.  A large number of converting operations don’t occur on the web forming line itself; they are a separate operation, in a separate location, beginning with the large wound roll of material from the primary operation, often called a “parent” roll.


Drone Electro Kosmiche Noise Techno

album cover

Did I mention “Crunchy”?  Listen to/download the entire 13-track album here:

If the honey don’t cure you, the Camels will.

Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in 16 ounces of tea water, given to a cholesterol patient, was found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two hours. As mentioned for arthritic patients, if taken three times a day, any chronic cholesterol is cured.  According to information received in the said  Journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of cholesterol.

It is so good to know that:  “… for arthritic patients … any chronic cholesterol is cured.”  Also, “… pure honey … relieves complaints of cholesterol.”

I think I read somewhere that all doctors in a recent survey reported that none of their patients have “complained of cholesterol.”

In other news:  More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette .

Getting Started on LinkedIn

Several, if not thousands, of the 175 million LinkedIn “users” are manufactured persons.  Here is a link to one “public profile” on LinkedIn:

I was really scared to start a LinkedIn profile.  I was very leery of the whole “social networking” thing.  I still don’t have a Facebook account, because I am still scared of Facebook.  Before starting with LinkedIn, I went to the library and borrowed a couple of books on the subject.

A few of the things I learned from those books are:

  1. You can change the URL for your public profile from the default, which may be hard to remember ( ) to something that is a little more user friendly, like the one I posted above.  This isn’t all that important, though, because most people will not access your profile by its URL.
  2. You can change the settings so that your profile does not go live while you are creating/editing it.  If you don’t do this, then every change you make will show up in the updates that your connections will see when they access their own LinkedIn accounts.  This isn’t all that important at first, because you won’t have any connections.  Later, you may want your connections to know that you’ve updated your profile.
  3. You can change how you will appear to others when you view their profiles.  For example:  Anonymous LinkedIn User, Someone in the Management function in the Legal Services industry from the Greater Houston Area, or Joe Blow.  I have mine set so that people know it was me when I view their profile.
  4. When you send an invite, always personalize the message.  Well over half of your invitees will not even read your message, but those who do will appreciate that you took 30 seconds to change the generic invite.
  5. Joining groups greatly expands the number of LinkedIn users you are allowed to contact.  Generally, you are only allowed to contact people who worked at a company where you worked, people who went to the same school you went to at the same time you went there, people who you say are your friends, people whose e-mail address you know, and people who have joined one of the LinkedIn groups you have joined.  If you send out a bunch of invites to people you don’t know (for example, if you are a headhunter or a salesperson) and three of those people identify you as being someone they don’t know, then your LinkedIn privileges may get suspended.
  6. Make sure you don’t click the option to “See Who You Already Know on LinkedIn” or LinkedIn will automatically send a generic invite to everyone in your e-mail address book.

I’m sure that is more than enough to get you started.  There is a lot more information online; you don’t need to read a book.

Most Expensive Photograph Ever Sold

Rhein II is a photograph by German visual artist Andreas Gursky in 1999. In the image, the Rhine flows horizontally across the field of view, between green fields, under an overcast sky. Extraneous details, such as dog-walkers and a factory building, were removed by the artist via digital editing. On November 8, 2011, a print of this photograph measuring 73 by 143 inches was auctioned at Christie’s New York for $4.3 million, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold.

Rhein (Rhine) II

Saving the world, one daughter at a time.

My daughter asked me if I am angry that the United States did nothing to prevent or end the genocide in Rwanda.

The killings that came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide started in early April of 1994 and went on for about 100 days.  At that time, I was 34 years old and had two boys, aged 4 years and 2 years, and one daughter, aged 2 weeks.

I really don’t recall ever having heard of the Rwandan Genocide until she asked about it a few days ago.  From what little I’ve read, it sounds like the Hutu people, after centuries of real and/or perceived mistreatment by the minority, ruling Tutsi people, had overthrown the Tutsi monarchy in a 1959-1962 rebellion and that a group of Tutsi refugees from Uganda (led by U.S.-trained Paul Kagame) invaded Rwanda in 1990, beginning a civil war in Rwanda.  By 1994, the Hutu government had imported over 500,000 machetes and distributed them to Hutu civilians.  Using the shooting down of the Rwandan President’s airplane (although it is not known which side did the shooting) as an excuse to begin a long-planned Tutsi extermination, the Hutu civilians were directed via mass media to find and cut the heads of all of their Tutsi neighbors.

A United Nations peacekeeping mission, already on the ground in Rwanda, was not given authority to use force to stop the violence until May 17, by which time over 500,000 Rwandans (mostly Tutsi, but also many pro-peace Hutu) had already been killed.  It is estimated that, of the 1,000,000 pre-conflict Tutsi people, by mid-July there were only 300,000 Tutsi survivors.  Almost all of the surviving Tutsi women had been raped multiple times (up to five times per day) and had become HIV-positive.  In spite of this loss, the Tutsi force that had invaded Rwanda in 1990 regrouped and, on July 17, 1994, defeated the last government stronghold and declared victory.  Following the Tutsi victory, over 2,000,000 Hutu refugees fled Rwanda, primarily to Zaire (now Republic of the Congo), but also to Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda.  During the last few months of 1996, following the beginning of the First Congo War, more than 1,100,00 Hutu returned to Rwanda.

On August 25, 2003, Paul Kagame, the leader of the 1990 invasion, was elected President of Rwanda.  Under his leadership, Rwanda has been called Africa’s biggest success story.  Today, the killers and the victims live side-by-side in every village.  In each village, the killers stood before their neighbors and confessed and, in turn, were offered forgiveness.  Kagame has said:

“There are many killers; there are hundreds of thousands because the genocide that took place in our country involved a huge percentage of our population, both in terms of those who were killed and those who killed.  And if you went technically to try each one of them as the law may suggest, then you would lose out on rebuilding a nation.”

Paul Kagame, in brown suit with blue tieKagame (in brown suit with blue tie)

So, now I think I know enough about the event to understand my daughter’s question, “Are you angry that the United States did nothing to prevent or end the genocide in Rwanda?”  No, I’m not.  The only thing the U.S. could have done was to have sent soldiers to Rwanda to stand around with guns to make sure a bunch of peasants didn’t chop each other’s heads off, which would have happened anyway as soon as those soldiers had left.

Prior to the start of the Rwandan civil war, the U.S. government had aligned itself with Tutsi interests.

In January of 1994, White House National Security Council member Richard Clarke developed a formal U.S. peacekeeping doctrine called Presidential Decision Directive 25.  Although a classified document to this day, the effect of PDD-25 is to limit United States involvement in United Nations peacekeeping operations to those operations that have United States military officers in control of United States troops, that are in the best interests of the United States government, and that have popular domestic support for the operation.

There were no U.S. troops officially in Rwanda at the onset of the genocide.

President Bill Clinton claimed later to have not fully understood the severity of the situation in Rwanda, although this does not seem likely.  The United Nations had received at least ten clear warnings of the ‘Hutu Power’ action, including an anxious telegram to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali three months before the event from the commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), General Romeo Dallaire, of Canada.  The UN Security Council met in secret after the start of the violence. At this meeting Britain urged that UNAMIR should pull out of Rwanda.  Britain later blocked a U.S. proposal to send in a fact-finding mission when the death toll had reached six figures. (source)

UN Security Council members resisted admitting that the mass murder taking place in Rwanda was in fact genocide:  genocide required taking corrective actions that nobody wanted to take. The United States had actually banned its officials from using the “G” word. The events in Rwanda were presented as ‘tribal violence,’ ‘ancient ethnic hatreds,’ ‘a breakdown of existing ceasefire,’ or ‘a failed State.’  Nobody seemed able to accept that deliberate extermination was being carried out for political reasons.  Once it was inescapably clear that genocide was indeed occurring, it was too late.

When the United States was asked to use its hi-tech skills to block pro-genocide radio broadcasts, the response was, ‘the traditional U.S. commitment to free speech cannot be reconciled with such a measure.’  When the UN requested 50 armored personnel carriers from the United States, the Army charged $6.5 million for transport alone. Deployment was delayed due to arguments over cost and other factors.  When the APCs were shipped, they were sent to Uganda rather than to Rwanda.

In March 1998, on a visit to Rwanda, U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to the crowd assembled on the tarmac at Kigali Airport:  “We come here today partly in recognition of the fact that we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred” in Rwanda.  He acknowledged his failure to deal effectively with the situation in Rwanda.  Clinton has stated that the “biggest regret” of his presidency was not acting decisively to stop the Rwandan Genocide, that he believed that if he had sent 5,000 U.S. peacekeepers, more than 500,000 lives could have been saved. (source)

Curbside Haiku

Thanksgiving Morning

Supermom just got up from her computer after outlining and printing the cooking schedule/menu and she is now back at work on Nutcracker costumes.  I don’t need to have the BBQ ready to start cooking the turkey until 3:00 p.m.; dinner at 6:00 p.m.  This year we are going to try letting the legs and thighs warm up at room temperature for two hours prior to cooking, while keeping the breast on ice until the last minute.  Supermom had wanted to try a hen turkey this year, but they were all gone by the time she got to the store.

This morning while I was out with the dog I saw three satellites in the sky at once.  The sky was crystal clear and I was trying to memorize the locations of two triangles of stars relative to the Big Dipper and Polaris and Orion so that I can figure out what constellations they are in.  The first two satellites were in almost the same place inside one of the triangles when I noticed them, one moving east and one moving southeast.  Then, I noticed a third satellite crossing the paths of the first two and moving from south to north.  I haven’t been able to figure out what satellites they were and now I can’t remember the exact time of the sightings, although it was somewhere around 5:45 a.m.  Also, I haven’t gotten around to the star triangles, yet.

It was almost 61 degrees at about 8:30 a.m. when I was out brushing the pool; supposed to get up to 78 today.

Here is a picture of Jack Kerouac’s 120,000-word original manuscript for On the Road .  If you zoom in you can read it and see his pencil marks.

Moonrise This Morning

I was out watering the dog and had to run back in and grab my camera and tripod:

6:12 a.m.

Here is a link to the famous photograph by Ansel Adams, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico,” captured in the fading light after sunset on November 1, 1941:

Carolina Wolf Spider

The largest “Wolf” spider in North America, up under the eave of our house yesterday:

Hard to tell how big it is.  Here is the best I could do standing under the spider, holding the camera in one hand, and reaching up with a wobbly ruler in the other hand, hoping I didn’t knock the spider down on myself:

Carolina Wolf Spider and ruler

As you can see, the spider is roughly four inches across!