Friday Four

Friday, April 10, 2015

1. The nightmarish story of the only man known to have parachuted through a thunderstorm and survived is nevertheless about as captivating as it is short:

No human before or since Bill Rankin is known to have parachuted through a cumulonimbus tower and lived to tell about it. Lt Col William Henry Rankin passed away on 06 July 2009, almost exactly 50 years after his harrowing and history-making ride on the storm.
Rankin's journey took forty minutes from when he ejected from his failing aircraft to his entanglement in a tree, and being a professional, he was well aware of the many dangers he escaped.

2. This one vies with another bug I blogged -- a file that could jam a printer -- for apparent implausibility:
An odd feature of our campus network at the time was that it was 100% switched. An outgoing packet wouldn't incur a router delay until hitting the POP and reaching a router on the far side. So time to connect to a lightly-loaded remote host on a nearby network would actually largely be governed by the speed of light distance to the destination rather than by incidental router delays.
As a result of this bug, some email users were unable to reach anyone more than about 500 miles away.

3. "The Ten 'Commandments' of Sushi" is quite lengthy, but there is a method to the mandates, issuing as they do from a man who loves his craft.
"For me," says Yajima, "this isn't a job. It's a hobby I get to do all day, every day. It's something I love. I'll never retire from being a sushi man."
And I thought I liked sushi before I read this...

4. Here is a comment that perfectly summarizes my own experience with Emacs:
The truth about Emacs: Everything seems way too hard at first, then you use it for a while, then you can't live without it. [format edit]
Amusingly, I recently learned by accident that I finally fulfilled an old ancient new year's resolution by switching to Emacs starting in February. I don't remember why that goal fell by the wayside back then, but I'm glad I finally saw it through.

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

Gus, Lt. Col. Rankin's 40-minute parachute "descent" was amazing, especially considering thatrecent descents from record heights have lasted (for entirely different reasons) as little as 15 minutes.

Survivable episode's like Col. Rankin's 1959 are understandably rare. There is however, a somewhat comparable episode from 2007, of which I had also been unaware.

Ignoring threats of severe thunderstorms, Ewa Wiśnierska decided to train for the upcoming world paragliding championship in Australia. An updraft lifted her to over 32,000 ft. Wiśnierska landed 3.5 hours later about 37 miles from her starting position. In the same weather event, Chinese paraglider He Zhongpin was struck and killed by lightning.

Incidentally, the first sentence of the Col. Rankin story is incorrect. His parachute came down in N.C., but this happened on the return leg of a roundtrip flight from Naval Air Station Beaufort, SC (not NC) to Boston.

Usually, I would not take time for a comment of this length, but today's alternative is starting my tax return.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for the entertaining comment.

I finished my federal return today since I haven't time to procrastinate, but ordinarily, I'd be right there with you.