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I was wandering the web today and started reading about Savants, (don’t ask). Anyhow I just learned that Kim Peek, one of the primary inspirations for the movie Rain Man died of a heart attack on December 19th.This started me thinking about other savants and how they viewed the world around them. One famous savant, Daniel Tammet, is what’s considered a highly functional autistic savant. Basically what that means is that Mr Tammet has a higher than normal IQ and fairly normal social abilities. On top of this he also has the ability to do things like recite PI to over 22,000 decimal places. He also invented a fully functional language as a child called Mänti. (An article that mentions Manti)

One of the amazing things about Mr Tammet is that he has the ability to describe what is happening in his mind when he is performing, to us normal folk, these amazing feats of intelligence. One thing he describes is that he sees numbers as shapes, colors, textures, and motions among other things. I was just perusing his blog and he’s posted a poem about PI that I find absolutely fascinating.  When you read this imagine it’s him describing what he sees in his brain as he recites PI.


Three, One, Four, One, Five, and On
The numbers recount their endless tale.
Three – Barefoot green, a silent voice.
White as hunger, One is twice
Bright like babies’ eyes.
Four is timid, envious of E.
Five, Punctuation or a pregnant sigh
Precedes proud Nine, colour of falling night.
Two, an unfastened knot,
A wayward wind, the hollow of Six resounding.
Nearby, Eight, a cloud of fireflies above a lake
Over which I skim Sevens
Remembering that Zero is nothing but a circle.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to look at the world through another’s eyes, even if just for one brief moment?

Addition: I once thought I was cool. I could recite PI to over 100 places from my head. Then I met a girl at ARSC, who offhandedly mentioned her head could spill PI to over 1500 or so places. Since then, and through many other humbling experiences, I realized that no matter how amazing I thought I was, there was always someone else out there that could best me. (-; Live and learn.

FYI. 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510 or there abouts.

Quick background.

I’ve been having weird chest pains off and on for about 3 weeks now and last week I finally had it and went to the Doc in a box. They did an EKG and said, good news is you’re not currently having a heart attack, bad news is that it could well be angina, or a blockage in your heart. We’re not sure. If it happens again make an appointment with one of these cardiologists. If it happens, doesn’t go away and you have any other symptoms Go To The ER!

It’s happened a couple of time since, I just didn’t tell Roberta. Then last night when driving home my chest started aching again. And didn’t quit, this started around 6pm. Around 8pm my arm started to join in the ache. I walked around, tried cracking my neck, stretching, laid down for a bit, and it still wouldn’t go away. Around 8:30 I told Roberta.  Roberta “You Are Going To The ER! Shut Up! I Don’t Care If You Think It’s A Waste Of Time! Dying is not an option for you right now!”

So, off we go. I tell the nurse what doc in a box said, she took my vitals, said you’re going back into this room here. A doc will be with you shortly. Normal stuff. Next thing I know I’m hooked to another EKG, monitor, given baby aspirin, had a thing stuck in my arm, crud load of blood drawn for tests, and Nitroglycerin in a spray. WTF?!? And no, Nitro will not make you run faster! I asked. (-: Works for funny cars but not people. Kind of a let down really.

I was told this was all standard procedure when the symptoms matched mine. Unfortunately I hit all the trigger words. Area pain, stress, family history, type 1 diabetic, and now an ache thats spread to my upper arm. EKG didn’t show heart issues and the blood work looked okay. By this time my chest no longer hurt but I had a dinger of a headache from the nitro. Doc comes in and says I’m not currently having a heart attack, that’s the good news, the bad news is they can’t count out angina/blockage and I might as well get comfortable, I’m not going anywhere. Crap!

18 hours after entering the hospital, 3 blood draws, countless vitals, 2 radioactive dye injections, treadmill stress test, before and after 3d heart images, x-rays, etc. They finally come back and say “We don’t see any blockages.” Images look good. We think everything is okay with your heart. We don’t know what the pain is, but with the stress of your life right now it could be a host of other items, but not a blockage. So, go home, eat right, exercise, and here’s the bill. (-: (insert real heart attack here).

Good news, it wasn’t a blockage.

Bad news, it was one hell of an expensive boondoggle. But, better than the alternative I suppose.

FYI. They have this red glowing thing they stick on your finger to monitor blood oxygen levels and in the middle of the night I thought it would be fun when the nurse came in to point at her with it and say “ET Phone Home!” It was funnier in my head. (-: Nurse just shook her head at me.

Since I was going to have to order the darn gasket and wait a week I decided to chase down some gasket material and make my own. Which wasn’t all that difficult really. Just take the intake manifold and use it as a template to cut a new gasket. $6 and 15 minutes later I have a new gasket. (You can only buy the gasket material in bulk).

So, as I’m scraping the old gasket off I make a discovery. I found the reason that the gasket blew. And darn it, if it wasn’t my own fault. If you look at the close up below of one of the bolts studs you will see an odd discolored ring. That’s a washer under the old gasket.

From Wally the Superbeetle

Yep, seems I put the washers on the studs when I took the motor apart so I wouldn’t lose them. And then forgot they were there. So, no matter how tight I cranked down the bolts, there was always going to be a gap. Grrrrrr. My own mistake. Oh well, live and learn. It’s fixed and running much much better now. Idles nicely and has decent power again.

Anyone need a bunch of gasket material? I’ve got lots left over. 🙂

I downloaded the camera to the computer today for Roberta and there was a video on there that Molly had made. It’s the first part of an instructional video on drawing and painting a cartoon cat.

Not bad for a 10 year old. I might have to find the tripod and show her how to use it if she’s going to continue making these. Kinda cool really.

Update: Wait! Time out. I’ve got a better idea. I should drag Heather back here from Colorado and have her spend a weekend with Molly teaching her lighting, angles, etc. Since she’s a budding film producer and a good friend. Hmm….

Dr. Hector, a frequent guest at Sea Harvest has befriended Roberta. They’ve spoken a lot about her cancer and how she’s been feeling and how her disease has been progressing. Dr. Hector is one of the first American doctors to have been trained in the art of acupuncture in the far east. He’s retired and living in Pebble Beach now. He’s quite a character and a lot of fun to chat with.

The other day he brought to Sea Harvest a Tibetan Thangka, or painted scroll, and gave it to Roberta as a gift. According to his note it’s roughly 150 years old, give or take. It’s a painting of the White Tara. A Buddhist savior goddess. In Tibet her name is Sgrol-ma, meaning “She Who Saves”. The cotton canvas it is painted on has darkened with age, and what I’m reading, stained by the incense and smoke. It’s absolutely amazing.

The Mantra of Tara is “om tare tuttare ture svaha”

Tara is the goddess of universal compassion, represents virtuous and enlightened action. It is said her compassion for living beings is stronger than a mother’s love for her children. Sh also brings about longevity, protects earthly travel, and guards her followers on their spiritual journey to enlightenment.  (References found here)

This picture doesn’t do it justice. But, I’m being very careful about unrolling it and rolling it back up until I can figure out the proper way to hang this. I want this to last another 150 years. It’s truly beautiful.

From Monterey Living

White Tara is sometimes called the mother of all Buddhas.

I found this description of her at

In iconography, White Tara often has seven eyes – in addition to the usual two, she has a third eye on her forehead and one on each of her hands and feet. This symbolizes her vigilance and ability to see all the suffering in the world. The “Tara of Seven Eyes” is the form of the goddess especially popular in Mongolia.White Tara wears silk robes and scarves that leave her slender torso and rounded breasts uncovered in the manner of ancient India. Like Green Tara, she is richly adorned with jewels.

If anyone reads this and has more information on this particular thangka I’d be grateful to hear whatever you know. I don’t know anything about the other 7 characters above and 3 below her. I’m sure 7/3 has some significance, but no idea what it might be. Yet.

Over the last two weeks Wally the superbeetle has slowly gotten rougher running and harder to keep idling. To the point I have to keep revving the engine up at stops or it sputters and dies.

I’ve changed out the points, condenser, timed it, played with the carb settings. Nothing. So, I started spraying around with brake cleaner (highly flammable) and lo and behold when I sprayed it near the #1 and #3 intake manifold the engine revved up. whoa-la I’ve got a vacuum leak. And it’s a duzie.

I finally pulled the intake manifold off this afternoon fearing a cracked manifold or something. Instead, it’s just the gasket that blew out.

From Wally the Superbeetle

Not sure how it happened but I do know that Permatex gasket sealer won’t work. I cleaned it up and tried, since I don’t have the proper gasket. I thought, temp fix, while the new one ships. Lasted as long as it took to start the bug up. So, tomorrow I ‘m off to try and find some gasket material so I can cut a new one. Fun fun. At least it’s something fairly easy to fix. Once I get the gasket material I’m figuring an hour to tear it apart, cut the new gasket and have it back together. Hopefully it won’t rain tomorrow. We’ve had a solid week of rain and storms. Not the time to be working on a car.

Well, we started as a family of five.

When Leecha came to us and said “I’m going to have to move to San Jose and find either family to live with or a foster home” we said, finish your last year of high school where you are. We will make room for you, and we did. She’s now sharing a room with Megan. She’s a good kid. Hard life. The idea that the tempered sword is the strongest comes to mind when I think of her.

Then when Ammo called one day and said “My mom is taking my dog to the pound and me to social services” Roberta said, honey, you always wanted a son. His mother (I use the term biologically) dumped him on the street corner and Roberta went and picked him up. So, for now Ammo is sleeping on the couch. Ammo is short for Amadeus.  What a name for a long haired, scrawny, 5 ft tall, boy to carry. Thus Ammo. He showed up with a backpack of school supplies and the clothes on his back. When he asked Roberta if she would wash his clothes after he got his jammies on, because they were the only clothes he had, she got pissed. Decided to go to his house and get some clothes. When they showed up his mothers words were ” What the fuck are you doing back?” Then went down hill from there.

How can someone treat their own child like that? In Pacific Fricken Grove for gods sake? Home town America. How is this possible? I just don’t understand it. What a complete and psychotic bitch.

Needless to say. We now have a boy in the family. Skipped the whole diaper phase and went straight to the teenage rebellion. Uf Da. How could you tell a good kid no, you can’t sleep on the couch, get your sorry ass out and sleep on the street? It’s not in us to do that.

For better or worse, we are now a family of 7. As John Grimes would say. “This is Liberty Hall. Spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard.” You know where the fridge is, you go hungry, it’s your own fault.

Update: Yes, Leecha and Ammo are fully aware of the difficulties this family is facing. They know about Roberta’s cancer and the likely future we are facing. They know, and are willing to face that to stay with us.

We had good old home made, southern style Gumbo for dinner tonight! It rocked! Roberta hasn’t made gumbo in a long time.

One of the great things about moving around the country and world is that you get to pick and choose your favorite foods from each place. Alaskan Halibut fresh fried, Scottish Steak and Ale Pie, (thank you Steve for saying it was worth trying), and good ole southern Gumbo!  Some of my favorites. (And Gary if you ever read this, good ole Texas BBQ).

Once you’ve lived in Alaska it’s hard not to think like an Alaskan.

It seems that the Eco-Freaks in the country are freaking out  (Pun intended). Senator Murkowski has thrown a big ole monkey wrench into the EPA’s power grab of CO2 regulation. And this has the Eco nuts in a frenzy! I love it!

 A big surprise (not!) is that good old Republic of Californian Barbara Boxer is the biggest opponent of Senator Murkowski’s move. She cares for nothing but her own megalomania and screw the normal people in this country.  I cannot stand Boxer! Talk about an Eco freak on a power trip. Uf Da!

The Alaska Republican announced she would seek to keep the EPA from drawing up rules on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, refineries, manufacturers and other large emitters. Murkowski did it by filing a “disapproval resolution,” a rarely used procedural move that prohibits rules written by executive branch agencies from taking effect.

Linked to the Alaska Daily News article.

It’s been long enough, it’s time to get a bike again. Roberta said I could get one for my birthday, so I’ve been researching. At first I thought I might another rice rocket like my old R6. Then I thought about it a bit and figured something more along the lines of a supermoto might be more fun around here. I’ll only be running around locally, with occasional longer trips. So, finding something comfortable, fun, and easy to ride.

So, check out the 2009 Suzuki DRZ 400 SM.

In White.

From 2009

and in black.

From 2009

It’s small, lightweight, and yet big enough to run up to San Jose on occasion. I haven’t signed on the dotted line yet. But this is the head contender. Second place would have to be the Aprilia SXV 550 with fuel injection and almost twice the horsepower. Too bad it’s so much more expensive.

From 2009

Update: Here’s what John was talking about. The Ducati Hypermotard.

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January 2010
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