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October 6, 2021 Archives

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

CONTEXT: Reading List: Escape the City, Vol. 1

Corcoran, Travis J. I. Escape the City, Vol. 1. New Hampshire: Morlock Publishing, 2021. ISBN 979-874270303-7.
In early 2014, the author and his wife left the suburbs of Boston and moved to a 56 acre homestead in rural New Hampshire. Before arriving, he had done extensive reading and research, but beyond the chores of a suburban homeowner, had little or no hands-on experience with the myriad skills required to make a go of it in the country: raising and preserving garden vegetables; maintaining pastures; raising chickens, sheep, and hogs, including butchering and processing their meat; erecting utility buildings; planting and maintaining a fruit orchard; tapping maple trees and producing syrup from their sap; managing a wood lot, felling and processing trees, storing and aging firewood and heating with it; and maintaining a tractor, implements, chainsaws, and the many tools which are indispensable to farm life. The wisdom about how tradesmen and contractors work in the country in the section “Life in The Country: Cultural Fit: Scheduling” would have been worth more than the modest price of the book had I learned it before spending a decade and a half figuring it out for myself after my own escape from the city in 1992.

This massive work (653 large pages in print) and its companion Volume 2 are an encyclopedic compendium of lessons learned and an absolutely essential resource for anybody interested in self-sufficient living, whether as a “suburbanite in the country”, “gardener with chickens”, “market gardener”, “homesteader”, or “commercial farmer”, all five of which are discussed in the book.

The Kindle edition is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The numerous illustrations are in black and white in print editions, but colour in the Kindle version.

Posted at 21:14 Permalink

CONTINUITY: TOI-178—Music of the Spheres

The exoplanet system TOI-178 in the constellation of Sculptor has six planets orbiting close to a K type orange dwarf star. Five of the planets appear to be locked into a chain of Laplace resonances, resulting in regular alignments as they orbit. This artist's animation shows the planets orbiting the stars, with musical notes playing for each planet as it completes a half orbit. When planets align at these points, a resonance is heard.

Posted at 13:58 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Finally—Optical Illusion Jeans for “Perky Buttocks”

Here is U.S. Patent 11,129,422, “Body-enhancing garment and garment construction” (full text).

Posted at 13:29 Permalink

CONTINUITY: How Photolithography Works—Part 2: Photolithography Basics

Posted at 12:47 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Blue Origin: 2018 Consultants' Report Warns of Lack of Focus

In 2018, Blue Origin hired a consultant firm to assess Blue's competitive position with respect to SpaceX. Ars Technica has obtained a copy of the their report to CEO Bob Smith, which Eric Berger summarises in an article, “Revealed: The secret notes of Blue Origin leaders trying to catch SpaceX” published on 2021-10-04. The memo included some pungent quotes from senior Blue Origin managers.

They [SpaceX] have a customer focus. We should too. In many cases we view the customer as a nuisance. … We need to change this culture.

SpaceX shifted the market to their payload capabilities and risk profile with their low-cost launches. Blue has pushed to exceed the market’s current capabilities for size and mass. … How confident are we that the market will design to our capabilities?

Cost as a design constraint and important variable is embraced by their [SpaceX's] culture, instead of being viewed as an evil metric that leads to a sub-optimal outcome.

Blue is riddled with poor estimating. The estimates barely cover the spot cost buy of that material based on market price, let alone the entire part material purchase. How did SpaceX keep to their target cost? They probably did a good job estimating. How they accomplished such good estimating is beyond me right now, but they did it somehow for their early years.

I would like to see us change how we reward teams and individuals for company or project level success. Dinners, shirts and parties can only get us so far. I think real and meaningful financial incentives for Blue employees can help.

My strategy at Autodesk was just:

  1. Make the best product.
  2. No bullshit.
  3. Reward the people who do the work.

Perhaps Blue Origin could adopt a similar approach.

Posted at 11:53 Permalink