More Junkmail from Bob!

Monday, December 25, 2000
Important Stuff.


I was doing some deep reading on Christmas day, which happens to be today. I was reading the label on a bottle of Aquafina water. It's got "nutrition facts." I have recently been up late at night wondering how much nutrition I get from a bottle of water, so I read on.

It says there are 0 calories, 0 fat, 0 sodium, 0 carbohydrates, and 0 protein per serving. I wonder how many calories there would be in the whole bottle then? I investigated further. There are four servings per bottle. The serving size it 8 ounces, or .00671380474511956 bushels. The bottle is one liter, or .0283775932584017 bushels. That leaves about 1.8 ounces of water unaccounted for. Do they just expect me to spill this 1.814023 ounces water? What would be the nutritional contents of this water if we didn't just ignore the extra? How am I expected to manage my diet with this lackadaisical attitude toward precision?

Quite discouraged, I gave up reading food and drink labels. But I happened to find a label on an extension cord. Somewhat apprehensive, I scanned it first for inconsistent numbers. I found none. In fact, I found no numbers at all. That's kind of curious because I might wonder how many volts or amps I can send through those wires before it melts the plastic insulation. Instead, I found valuable information.

Did you know that I should fully insert the plug into an outlet? I should not drive over the extension cord, either. In a related point, I should not place an object (like a pencil?) on top of the cord. Also, I should not run the cord through a hole in the ceiling. My hopes were dashed. Actually, I think I have done every one of the 22 nono's listed on the label at least once in my life, and probably in the past year. I must be lucky to be alive!


This is the last Junkmail of the 2000. This year on the stock market, the Nasdaq has lost more than 50% of its value from its high last Spring. That's a LOT of dollars! Microsoft passed GE in terms of market cap a year or two ago. Since its high last January, Microsoft stock has gone down about 60%.

Four years ago this month, Alan Greenspan was poopooed for warning people about "irrational exuberance" in the stock market. Maybe it held on longer than he expected, but I'll be he's saying "I told you so" this year.

But how bad are things really? Since 1996, even after this year's market, the Dow Jones average is up 65% and the Nasdaq is up 95%. That's not to bad for four years. Unless you bought in last January,

Here's a chart of the Nasdaq (on top) and the Dow (on bottom) for the past four years. It looks like there was a huge bump in the Nasdaq in the past four years. Nobody knows for sure where it's headed, but at least it looks more in line with the rest of the universe today.


Credit Cards

A couple of weeks ago, someone broke into the web site and copied some credit card numbers. About 55,000 of them. Some people said it was the Russian who goes by Maxus, the guy who broke into last year about this time. He tried to extort money from CDUniverse (and maybe from, but when they wouldn't pay he published the card numbers on the web. Here's last year's web site.

This year instead of publishing the numbers, a Russian company called Global Telecom is supposed to be charging the "borrowed" card numbers $10 to $18. Since a lot of people will overlook a charge this small to a universal sounding name, they're liable to make a lot of money. is a company that charges credit cards for lots of web sites. I think maybe their security could use an upgrade.

Playstations in Iraq

It's amazing how powerful small game computers have gotten. The Sony Playstation 2 is the hot new one. In fact it's so hot that the Iraqi government was trying to by thousands of them for their military. The play station two is has a 200 mhz RISC processor and costs around $150. I am guessing they would reprogram them and use them for weapons guidance systems. The Iraqi government couldn't compete with the American Christmas shoppers, but they did end up with about 1400 Play Station 1's.


I stand corrected. Jamie Dotson pointed out that the "air force King Air with lots of antennas" in last week's Junkmail says "U.S. Army" on the side. All along I thought they got rid of the Army Air Corps around World War I.

VFR into IMC

I occasionally carry on about how many people fly airplanes into the ground after flying into the clouds when not equipped or prepared for it. Here's an example:

"On December 8, 2000, at 1655 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-24-250, N8245P, registered to and operated by the pilot, was destroyed when it impacted mountainous terrain approximately 7 miles southeast of Antimony, Utah. The private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. No flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Provo, Utah, approximately 1535. According to a family friend, the pilot, who was not instrument rated and had owned the airplane for 4 months, had flown from Mesa, Arizona, to Provo earlier that day, and picked up his father. The pilot and his father were going to return to Mesa. Approximately 1535, the pilot made a cellular telephone call to his wife while he was taxiing for takeoff, and told her he would be back in Mesa by 1830. A Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) controller observed a VFR target in the vicinity of Antimony, flying east to west. The target squawked 7700 once, then disappeared from radar at 1654:57. Shortly thereafter, emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signals were received by SARSAT. The wreckage was located on the morning of December 9."

I'm not sure, but it looks like this guy flew into the clouds and then flew into a mountain. There's a fair chance he was picking up ice, and that might have been a factor.

Sunday I was flying and overheard a guy who had flown into the clouds after the ceilings go too low. He was not instrument rated, and neither was his plane. He was trying to get to Goodland, KS, which had low ceilings. He said he "thought he could do the approach" there. I was thinking that if I only thought I could do it, I'd sure be thinking up some other options. He did have the sense to call the air traffic controller, who did a great job of getting the guy above the clouds and on to Hays where it was clear. The pilot didn't turn around like he should have when he got to the bad weather, but he did have enough sense to (a) fly up into the clouds as opposed to down into the ground, and (b) talk to a controller.

Flying into bad weather is still the most popular way to kill yourself in an airplane. Here's another one this month:

There have been three serious accidents with TBM-700's, all of them during non-precision instrument approaches. Here's the latest, the week before last.

59 or 63 or 40?

Clinton has been doing lots of stuff lately, since he's losing his job and doesn't have to worry about offending constituents any more. I was pretty surprised last week when they announced that 59 convicted felons got presidential pardons. Was it a coincidence that Dan Rostenkowski got pardoned 3 weeks before Clinton left the Whitehouse? He was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and was prosecuted for using public funds to pay employees who did little or no work, and to buy personal gifts.

Since I didn't know how to spell Rostenkowski, I went to the web site and searched for Clinton and pardon. It came up with a list of 59 people who were pardoned by Clinton. Except Rostenkowski wasn't on the list. Neither was Schaffer, who was convicted for something like bribing Michael Espy, a Clinton appointee. I was surprised that Clinton would pardon those guys, but I was even more surprised that CNN would leave them off their list.

The Pictures of Today...

In October 1997, the Cassini spacecraft was launched out into space. Space is considered a good place for a spacecraft. Cassini is a joint venture between NASA and the Italian Space Agency.


It's headed for Saturn. On the way it's going by Jupiter to grab a little gravitational boost. In fact, it's getting pretty close to Jupiter now. Here's a picture from last week. You can see the moon IO and its shadow on the face of Jupiter, along with the bands and the infamous storm.


Here's a more detailed picture of IO taken by Galileo in July, 1999.


... and here are some more pictures taken by Cassini lately.

The Great Sand Dunes National Monument is supposed to become a national park before long.


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Merry Christmas!