Doug's Sounding Board


A weekend of entertainment

Saturday we went to the Computer History Museum to see the opening of Babbage’s Difference Engine exhibit. It’s the second one that’s been built and it’s impressive in person. After wandering through the rest of the museum we arrived at the difference engine in time to see them setting it up for calculation of an 8th degree polynomial. The setup took 5-10 minutes, first setting up the odd factors and then the evens before finally cranking away. We were surprised that engine is quiet while it runs aside from the periodic clunks as the rods shift. During setup there was a person explaining that the crank speed has to be fairly constant and if it’s too slow there isn’t enough momentum to operate correctly. As much as I liked the calculating part I think the printer output was just as impressive. Pulleys move the appropriate digits into position, an ink roller inks the digits and then the paper is pressed to the digits.

Saturday evening was another Santa Cruz Roller Girls roller derby match, this time between Fistful of Dollies and Beach Flat Betties. These two of the three local teams that the all-star team draws from to play against teams from other cities.  The Dollies ended up winning by about ten points but it was pretty close all the way though. Robin Yo Life joined the announcers which was nice for clarifying what was going on at various points and amusingly it sometimes turned into comments that were meant more for coaching what was happening at that moment. Next match in Santa Cruz is on June 28.

Sunday we went to Bay Meadows for the final day of live racing and it was really crowded, both from people there for Mother’s Day and people there for the last day. For the first half there was a lot less smoking going on than normal, but then the parties with mothers thinned out some and the smoking kicked it up a notch. The horses ran, we lost money on our small bets, we ate junk food, it was a lot of fun.

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