Saturday, November 30, 2013

Winter War

November 30 marks the anniversary of Russia's invasion of the Karelian Peninsula in 1939. Their stated reason was to provide a buffer zone for the protection of St. Petersburg. The Finns, of course did not appreciate this and fought a defensive war against mass wave attack tactics that devastated the Russian Army. The Russians used the mass attack tactics because Stalin had seen fit to purge the army of competent leadership and replace it with officers more politically aligned to Stalin.The war ended in March, 1940 with Finland giving up territory to Russia.

There were 70,000 Finnish casualties to Russia's 323,000 causalities: a ratio of 4.6 to 1!

Russia's poor showing in the Winter War helped convince Hitler to invade Russia. The Germans, however, were not as adept at winter fighting as the Finns.

The war gave us the "Molotov Cocktail". In fact, a Finnish distillery mass produced them and made almost 500,000 of them. It should be noted that petrol bombs had been used earlier in Spain but the Winter War gave them a name that stuck.

The worlds most prolific sniper, Simo Hayha, came out of this war. He was credited with 505 kills using a Moisin Nagant rifle with iron sights. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 96.

I've written about Larry Thorne a few years ago. His is an interesting story.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Uranium Enrichment and the Iran Deal

Nobody ever said that John Kerry was smart. It now looks like he got snookered by Iran. Part of the agreement hinges on Iran stopping enrichment of uranium but not eliminating their stockpiles of partially enriched uranium. The chart below, taken from a report by the American Enterprise Institute, show the amount of time and effort required to refine uranium from bulk ore to weapons grade (90%) As you can see, most of the time is spent getting to the 5% level. Once you are there, it takes a relatively short time to get to the higher concentrations. In short, if Iran does not get rid of their stocks of 5% and 20% uranium, they can put together enough for a bomb in a very short period of time.

And all bets are off if they only want to make a dirty bomb.

The lesson here is don't leave technical details to politicians.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trivia for the Day

I used to work for a company that built printing presses. It was a great job for a mechanical engineer - lots of gears, wheels and cams to play with. One style of press that they built was used to print the wrappers for Wonder Bread. If you know anything about printing, you know that each color is printed by a different print roller and Wonder Bread wrappers have a lot of different colors. In fact, we used to print Wonder Bread wrappers to get all the print rollers synchronized. The multicolored balloons were great for being able to see which print roll was out of synch.

I guess technology has changes the way that the wrappers are produced today but there was nothing like watching this huge machine print with such delicacy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm now SQRT 4096. Do the math!

Another One Gone

I just learned that a friend of mine was killed last weekend. Details are sketchy, but evidently his death was the result of a negligent discharge at a corporate hunting event. Reports are that the round hit a rock and the ricochet struck him behind the ear.

He was in marketing and was always involved in some golf tournament, fishing rodeo or some other oil field/pipeline event. He once convinced me to be a judge at an industry sponsored chili cookoff. I ate some strange chili that day, I can tell you. He was a part of the old oilfield that worked hard and had a good time doing it, when things were done on the basis of mutual respect and trust. He'll be missed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Health Care Hits Close to Home

It's been a little crazy for the past month or so. The family matriarch (my 87 year old mother-in-law) was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis and blockages in three arteries. Since then my wife has been on a continuous stream of doctor visits with her mother along with an angiogram and other tests. Kidney disease was also discovered which added to the complications.

Bottom line is that she went in earlier this week for a valve replacement and three bypasses. Risks were high but she is an active woman who lives on her own, drives and gets about unassisted. She came out of surgery well. Her surgeon said that she was "spunky". (That was a new medical term to me) Her nurses now say that she looks more like one week post op rather than 2 days. So, the prognosis is good and everyone of her 9 children, umpteen grandchildren, and the few great grandchildren who were old enough, breathed a sigh of relief.

We were thankful to have this done before Obamacare kicked in. My suspicion is that if the death panels had to approve the surgery, they would turn her down and give her palliative care for the remaining 6 months of her life expectancy. Because the family and physicians made the call, she should live well into her 90's and see a few more great grandchildren born.

All of the BS that Obama has told us about the medical plan sounds good until it hits you, as those who have been kicked off their plans can tell you. Next year, those of us with corporate plans will feel the sting. Remember this when you vote. And remember that if you do not vote, you are still making a choice.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia only beheaded one (1) person last month. He was a murderer. This brings the Kingdom's year to date count to 65.