11 Jan 2006

Some challenge for sharp fellows

Submitted by Paul Brown
  • You have 8 balls and one of them is heavier. You have a scale which you can use twice to find the heavy ball.
  • The first one is too easy for some, so go on... Take a pen and paper for this one. You have 12 balls and one of them is heavier or lighter than the rest. You can use a scale 3 times to find the defective ball. Do not forget, you do not whether is is heavy or light...
  • You are in front of a faucet. You have a bucket of 5 liters and a bucket of 3 liters. Can you obtain any amount of water from 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 liters by only using these two buckets.

I borrowed these logic puzzles from my friend Liyakat's blog.

2 Jan 2006

Sarah and Kevin are having a baby!

Submitted by Paul Brown

Sarah and Kevin broke some wonderful news Christmas Day: Sarah is pregnant and they will have a baby! He or she (they can't see yet) should be born in the middle of July.

They shared the news by giving this picture as their last present:

Mom didn't recognize that it was a sonogram (it is, in case you didn't recognize it either), so it took her a little to catch on to what it meant. We're praying for the little guy or gal asking God to watch out for him or her and for Sarah and Kevin!

This message that I got on a copy of a tape from David Stember way back my freshman year of college has been pretty formative in how I think about dating and relationships. It was given by Troy Nesbit, who is a teaching pastor at Cornerstone Church and a former director of the Salt Company (way back). I don't know exactly when he gave this message but it is before my time at ISU.

Feel free to download and listen! I even tried to reconstruct the message notes based on the comments Troy makes during the message. A big THANK-YOU to my dad for digitizing the tape for me.

9 Sep 2005

Went to England!

Submitted by Paul Brown

I spent last week visiting the Siert family in England where my uncle Ward is stationed. We took advantage of the time and unusually nice weather to get out and see some things near the Lakenheath AF base. There are already pictures to look at!

I'll probably forget a bunch of stuff if I try to put it all here, so I'll leave the photos to tell the story. Some highlights:
- We ran into a concert by a choir from Auckland, New Zealand while we were in Cambridge. They were really good and sang a variety of classical music as well as arrangements based on music from New Zealand. Many of the pieces were performed in 6 and 8 part harmonies. Kara got tired of it and wished the one-hour-long performance were shorter, but for me they could have kept going!

- There are no pictures of the interior of Oxburgh Hall (since they didn't allow photography), but it was really quite impressive. The furniture is all made of dark wood, decorated with ornate carvings, so the place has a nice "woodsy" feel (I guess). One of Linda's highlights was me going down the "priest's hole" where the family that lived there would have let their priest hide during the persecution from protestants. It was just a hole in the floor that led to a small closet where he could have hidden. Most of the folks visiting were too old to give that hole a go!

Something you can't tell from the pictures is that England is an expensive place! If you make the conversions from Pounds to either Dollars or Euros, you'll find prices just too high to swallow (especially if you're Ward!). I think we ate out once: at McDonald's! If I had to live there I think I would have to stop making the conversions and just pay up. Otherwise you couldn't eat. The AF base has a grocery store and gas station and some other services that have goods from the U.S. and prices that are only a little more than what we would pay "at home", so the servicemen can get along all right.

The weather was strangely good. During the six days I was there we had only one morning where it rained and a day where it was cloudy (making many of the pictures from Cambridge not come out very well). This is apparently very unusual, but for me it came at a very convenient time!

6 Jul 2005

Classes are OVER!

Submitted by Paul Brown

Last week I finished up my last exam of the M.S. program, completing the first year and clearing the way for me to start on the project that will be my thesis.

My grades in this second semester are not going to equal my grades from the first semester. As my collegues in INESC said, I "let my foot off the gas pedal". They're still quite good, so don't worry! Think of it as driving for better gas mileage.... :)

My thesis topic is defined. Here's what my work plan says:
The study will focus on the optimization of pumping storage as a means for allowing increased penetration of renewable energy (wind power) in the system. It will consider the following aspects:
- dimensioning of storage units: considering the load profile and possible wind power integration, select the optimal pumping capacity
- operation: consider the effect of storage units on dynamic behavior, protection requirements, control strategies, etc.
- valuation: present possible means of valuing or remunerating the service provided by storage, considering it as reserve and transfer of energy in time
- comparison: compare the economics of pumping storage to other alternatives such as open-cycle gas turbines

This will build off of work that we do for the island of Madeira, where they are seeking to lower electricity costs and increase use of renewable energy sources. In particular, I will be considering the usefulness of using pumped-water storage. They have a significant amount of energy that comes from hydro-electric stations. A pumped-water storage plan would pump water from below the station back up during the night when energy is cheap so that it can be used for generation during the day when energy is more expensive. This could also help allow more wind generation capacity to be introduced since the limiting factor is often the minimum output limits of the fossil-fuel generators that are needed to maintain frequency and adjust to load variations.

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