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I have added some pictures of some of the grave stones and markers from the local area. These are all taken while off visiting local Scottish castles, Abbeys, Churches, etc. Most of the ones I updated tonight are from Greyfriars Kirk, which dates back to 1620.

The pictures in the gallery are only 1024×768 pixels. I have the originals at 3264×2448 if anyone wants a high res version. Which allows for a lot better quality and the ability to zoom in and read smaller print, see more details, etc. That goes for almost all of the pictures in my gallery. It’s just easier to upload the smaller versions.



Believe it or not, I finally stranded myself in Mr Ed, my classic mini cooper. I took Sis, my nephew, daughter, and I to Tantallon Castle on Saturday. It was raining when we left so I turned on the headlights. Well, in a classic mini you don’t have high tech anything. You know, minor things like, bells and whistles to tell you you’ve left your lights on when you get out of a vehicle. Ya, oops.

Anyhow, we get back from roaming around the castle for an hour and I go to start Mr Ed. Nothing, not even a click. I see the switch in the on position and immediately realize what I’ve done. Okay, no problem. It’s easy to push start. So, sis and I push Mr Ed back and get a run. Blub blub blub. Nothing, not even a pop. push back, try again. One of the other guys at the castle sees us and helps push. Nothing. Again nothing. What the heck??? Well, it seems that if you drain the battery all the way dead in a classic mini, and it doesn’t take much to do that, then you won’t have enough juice to drive the electrical system to push start it. Who, knew? Well, I do now.

I didn’t have any jumper cables with me, but I did have the battery charger and the guy running the gift shop allowed me to pull the battery, take it in, and charge it for 15 minutes. That was enough to kick start the car and get going again.

So, not to self. NEVER leave the lights on in a Classic Mini Cooper!!!

Here’s a pic of the kids hanging out while we waited for the battery to charge.


We went and visited Tantallon Castle on Saturday. it’s a large castle ruin near North Berwick Scotland. It overlooks the entrance to the Firth of Forth.


Tantallon has great views out over the waters of the North Sea and the entrance to the Firth of Forth. Here is the island called Bass Rock. At one point it had a fort upon it. It was also the refuge for an 8th century monk called Baldred. Now it has a light house, but no humans. It’s a bird sanctuary with about 80,000 nesting pairs..

2211 2214

Here are a couple of shots of the interior and courtyard areas.


All in all it’s a great castle to visit. You can climb up into a lot of areas on the wall. Some of them quite spooky. Don’t go up into some of the areas if you are at all afraid of heights.

In my poking around to understand Scotland better I ran across the Hickey Family Crest. Didn’t even really know we had one.

It Seems that the site has gone down. This is where I had linked the picture from.

I have a local copy of the picture. I don’t know who to give credit to though. Other than I originally found it at the hickeyclan site.


It seems we originally came from County Clare Ireland.

The Cray X2, originally called the Black Widow, now called the Cray XT5h, X2 blades, has breathed it’s first breath in the wilds. We are currently bringing the Test Developement System, TDS, to life and will bring the production one online later this week. We’re still going through some ugliness getting it to talk nicely with the XT system, but we’re getting there.

This is currently the only X2 Black Widow in the world that is available to researchers and scientists, so hopefully there will be some interesting research done on it.  The only other X2’s in the world are currently buried in deep dark government data centers.

It’s at the Advanced Computing Facility run by the EPCC and maintained by the University of Edinburgh just outside of Edinburgh Scotland. We’ll be hooking up the production system to the current XT4 system HECToR. HECToR is a 60 Cabinet Cray XT4 that just dropped from the 2nd fastest computer in all of Europe to the 4th fastest. It’s also currently the 29th fastest in the world, it dropped from 17th.

This is a computer rendering of HECToR from above. The new Black Widow will attach to the upper left end. Cabinet 0-0.


Here is what the Black Widow X2 looks like with a couple of default cabinets.

Cray XT5h

Going through some website modifications so the site will be up and down for a while.

We attended our first Newtongrange Gala this year. A gala is similar to a fair/parade/festival kind of event. I’ve been told most of the local villages have something similar.

We first went up and watched the parade. This was started with a pipe band followed by the nobility. It was basically dressed up cars with the kings, queens, court, etc. This was followed by the local ROTC equivelant, a horse drawn carriage, some local groups, and finally another pipe band.

It was a fairly small parade, but then it’s a fairly small village. Everything culminated in the local village park where there were carnival rides, cotton candy, food booths, a few local arts and craft booths, etc. It made for a afternoon out.

Here is a short video of the Glencorse Pipe Band at the end of the parade.


So, a hypothetical, hypocritical, and blasphemous question.

If you could look into a crystal ball and predict the future climate, roughly, and it wasn’t what all of the “Experts, like Gore” (disgust showing here), predict. How would a person use that knowledge to make a bit of money? Kind of like good old Al Gore cashing in on the fears of Global Warming.

Say, instead of the temperature rising a degree or so in the next decade as predicted by all of the global warming alarmists, say it dropped a degree or so. Blasphamy you say? Well, maybe this could be caused by the delay of sunspot cycle 24 and weaker than normal, as predicted, sunspot cycle 25? hmmmm… Damn, I hate when a good theory gets in the way of the global warming alarm ism.

So, instead of arguing the finer points of climate prediction, let’s just jump to the fun bit. How do you invest now, in a world of global warming alarm ism, to make money if we actually see global cooling?

Invest in struggling ski resorts. My co-worker Felipe, came up with this one. If the temperatures continue to decline, (did you know that the temps were declining over the last couple of years?) then the struggling ski resorts, due to poor snow fall, will get their snows back and have a booming business. This sounds like a good idea, not sure how to implement, but definitely worth research. This may sound silly, but, do cooler temperatures mean better snow falls?

What about crop futures? A cooler temp will cause lower crop yields in basics like wheat, corn, etc. Which should drive the prices up. The down side is that the alarm ism of worse storms, droughts, floods, etc caused by Global Warming have already caused the prices to rise. Will it rise even more if they have the new alarm of cooling?

What about energy. The price of almost all energies across the board are going up because of the “Bad for environment” factor. With cooling one needs more energy consumption. Will this in turn cause an already over priced commodity to rise even more? If so, where to invest? Nuclear? Coal? Oil?

Those are just a couple of the ideas I’ve thought of. What are some of the others? Come on people! I wanna be a bazillionaire! Let’s all be capitalists, how can we make money on this if it does cool?

And just so you don’t think I’m completely cracked in the head. Well, at least not about this. (-:

Global Temperatures

Grabbed from the Friends of Science page.


I guess I’ve finally been initiated into the ownership of a British made car. Mr Ed my classic Mini Cooper decided not to start this morning. Of course this was a morning where I slept in, decided to drop the girls off at school, and was running late.

Seems the car was cranky on the starting and the battery weak on the juice. A bad combination all around. Mr Ed is currently recuperating in the garage attached to the life support system, aka battery charger.

Now, here is a skit done on Fawlty Towers that fits what happened this morning. Except instead of a British accent I used a decidedly loud American one. (-:

A quick and odd blog post. A look into my mind during the course of a normal day. What are some of the things that go through my mind in a day?

Well, to start with, I work on the biggest research computer in all of the UK and the second largest in Europe, HECToR. You’d think that it would be enough to keep a persons mind occupied at all times while at work. Well, you’d be thinking wrong.  It is after all just an 11k+ processor linux machine. (-:

I started my day by catching up on my emails, respond to some data request in preparation for our added Cray X2 system that will arrive next week. Then onto the web to check out Dilbert, read Roberta’s Blog, check out the latest HPC news at InsideHPC, picking on my friend John Leidel in the process, and checking on the status of Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnagie Mellon who is battling Pancreatic Cancer. 

I’ve finished my first cup of coffee at this point and I’m off for the next. Starbucks coffee which I supply to the office, because I’m sick and tired of all the “Fair Trade” crap coffee that the university of Edinburgh buys, I like to refer to it as the “Goat Piss Coffee”. By the way, fair trade is nothing more than a marketing gimick here in the UK. It’s sad.

 I then head over to Climate Debate Daily to see if there is anything new and exciting on the “We’re all going to die!” Global warming arena. Nothing too exciting happening there, but it does remind me to do some more research in the state of Nuclear Fuel Recycling. I’m a fan of nuclear power, but want to know more about all the ins and outs of what that entails. One of the questions being why the US doesn’t do recycling, I just didn’t understand that. Now I do a bit better. Recycling the fuel rods, about 95% is reusable, is a nasty business. It’s expensive and dangerous, but there are about 10 different ways to do it now, and hopefully some brain will come up with a better way at some point in the near future.

By the way, they’re building a pretty cool mine over in Finland to store nuclear waste, taking into account the next Ice Age no less, it’s called Deep Geological storage. It’s an interesting subject and so I do some reading on that. Holes drilled in steel to hold the rods, then covered in copper and buried in a specific type of Clay, some research on crush pressures etc. After a bit I head over to Wikipedia again and start some research into the life cycles of nuclear power plants and the current reactor designs available and future thoughts. Pebble Bed reactors seem like a cool idea, but it looks like using a variety of reactors might be a better solution. The offal of one reactor being used to power a different one.

Somehow this leads to a youtube search which pops up the biggest rocket engine test ever. Not real sure how I hit that, but hey, interesting none the less. Which in turn leads to a video of a Shuttle Main Engine test in Mississippi and makes me miss my days at Stennis Space Center. This in turn leads to the workings of a jet engine, which is pretty fascinating. I probably spend an hour catching up on how a jet engine functions. Just thinking abou the tolerances required and stresses induced by a fan spinning at 11,000 rpm are impressive, and then watching a slow motion bird strike test is almost surreal. The way the blades absorb the energy, and then if a blade comes loose the tranfer of all that kinetic energy into the shroud. Pretty impressive stuff. This for some reason reminds me of the Pulse Jet engines that I read about in the past so I went out and looked at the current state of Pulse Jet Engines and some of the crazy people buiding them in their garages. Thinking to myself, who would get more pissed if I built one of these in my garage? The wife, the neighbors, or the local constables? hmmm.. Might need to find out. (-:

About this time my stomache growls to tell me to get some lunch. I head up to M&S to get a sandwich, come back, grab my fiddle and head out to play some music. Which starts a whole new train of thought for the afternoon. Which turns out to be even more interesting than the thought train of the morning.

I almost forgot, while following my morning train of thought, I have actually been working also.

Thank god they didn’t have riddlin when I was a kid.



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June 2008
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