Goodbye, Nala

We had to say goodbye to Nala this afternoon. In a couple of weeks she would have been 4 months shy of her 15th birthday.

She seemed like she was doing pretty well for her age, and I was expecting to be able to celebrate her 15th birthday. Over the course of the day, she went from trotting around the yard to being in some significant discomfort. Bloodwork showed some unusual results that suggested something going on with the liver or pancreas. Given her age (just over 14.5 years…pretty respectable for a lab), I decided treating her problems would just be postponing the inevitable for a short time longer. It was a sad and difficult decision to make, but Nala gets to be with Simba and Mischief again.

14 years and 5 months ago she became my very first dog. Didn’t know much about dogs back then, but I learned quickly (so did she).

Nala was calm and mellow, loved meeting people (especially kids), always enjoyed the dog park and being outside. She was patient with all the fosters I had, and I like to think she had a bit of a calming effect on some of them. Walks and trips to the dog park were some of her favourite activities (eating being one of the others).

One of Nala’s most memorable moments was the time she crashed a neighbour’s party. We were just getting back home from a walk, and the family a couple houses down were having a birthday party for their triplets. Nala got super excited with all the people around, managed to slip out of her collar and ran right into their house. I also had Simba with me, and had my hands full keeping him under control with everybody around so I couldn’t run in after Nala. Not sure what kind of trouble she got into running around in the house, but the neighbours eventually corralled Nala and got her back outside where I got her collar back on. It was probably less than a minute or two that she was loose in their house, but it felt like forever. They were pretty good sports about the incident fortunately, and the triplets got to play with the dogs on a few other occasions under more controlled circumstances.

Nala and Simba playing with a stick

It’s been a rough 10 months around here pet-wise. First Mischief, then Simba, and now Nala. We miss them terribly, but now they get to be together again.

Happy New Year from the animals
January 2018. Nala, Mischief, and Simba.


A Reddit post in r/Charleston led me to this cool online collection of pre-1945 USGS topographical maps at the University of Texas Libraries.

I love looking at old maps and seeing what areas used to look like and comparing them to modern maps to see how things have changed. The South Carolina collection has pretty good coverage of the Charleston area so I downloaded a few and went browsing around.

Here’s what the area just north of modern day Goose Creek looked like in 1919 (from the Summerville quadrangle map). Some of the roads in the 1919 map are still around, as is the rail line labeled Atlantic Coast.

1919 Goose Creek/Moncks Corner/Summerville
Part of the Summerville quadrangle 1919 USGS topographical map between modern day Goose Creek and Moncks Corner.

Here’s is a screenshot from Google Maps of the same area. Visible just below and right of center is the Google Data Center. You can also see the outlines of the swampy areas on the 1919 map are prominently visible.

2019 Goose Creek/Summerville
Google map area of the area between Goose Creek and Moncks Corner.

Maps can be so much fun.

Dad’s store

This week, I learned that the building Dad’s store was in has a name, and is quite old. A lot older than I ever imagined. Built in 1912, it’s called the Stovel Block, and has a longer history than you might think for such a plain looking brick building.

A bit of family history. When us kids were growing up, Dad ran a little corner store with his uncle in downtown Edmonton. One half of the store was a breakfast/lunch counter, and the other side of the store was a grocery type store with canned goods, candy, magazines, a small meat/deli counter, that kind of thing. The back room had a small kitchen where food for the diner side was prepared and a small table we would sit at when we weren’t roaming the store or “helping” at the counter.

A lot of weekends, we’d ride the bus downtown with Mom to go to the store. It was always a neat place with people coming and going, and the stools at the diner counter were fun to sit and spin around on. I’d help out behind the counter on the grocery side getting things off the shelves that customers asked for.

Dad’s uncle retired from the store, and Dad closed down the diner side and turned it into more grocery space. In the early 80s, Dad finally closed the store down. The area had changed quite a bit, developing more of a lower class atmosphere, and there just wasn’t a lot of business anymore. After the store closed, the space was filled with a succession of pawn and loan stores that just added to the less-than-reputable feel the area had developed.

It’s nice to hear that the building has a history and may get a historical designation. Looking forward to see what it looks like after the renovation.

My first slide rule

I grew up with electronic calculators and while I remember my uncle having a slide rule that I played with as a kid (didn’t know what it was at the time…it was just a neat looking thing with slide-y bits and numbers printed on it), I never used one until I got my first one in high school.

At the end of one of my high school math classes, I noticed the teacher using something that wasn’t a calculator to work out the grades on a test we just had. Intrigued, I went over and asked about it. He was using a slide rule, showed me some basic operations on it. He was calculating percentages faster on his slide rule than using a calculator. I thought it was just the neatest thing in the world. He reached into one of his desk drawers, pulled out a box, and handed it to me.

I had my first slide rule!

Ricoh No. 102 slide rule case
Ricoh No. 102 slide rule case
Ricoh No. 102 slide rule
Ricoh No. 102 slide rule

It’s a pretty simple beginner’s slide rule made of bamboo with a plastic reticle. It’s a single sided slide rule with a reversible slider. that has B/CI/C scales on one side and S/L/T scales on the other. Seems like this model would have been an inexpensive slide rule targeted at the student market.

The back side has some handy reference tables and formulas.

I taught myself how to use a slide rule and used it pretty regularly through my last year of high school and into my first couple years of undergrad. The main reason I stopped using it was that most of the problems became more symbolic, and the numeric problems I did get became complex enough that it was faster for me to use my calculator (HP-28S at the time). The slide rule stayed in the desk drawer for the rest of my undergrad and grad school.

Most of my calculations are done using spreadsheets now, but I pull the slide rule out every now and then for some quick calculations and to remind myself how to use it.

Slide rules

Acquired some slide rules this week (that makes three that I have now, so I think that qualifies as a collection). The new additions came from the estate of N6GA (SK) and were posted on one the amateur radio mailing lists I subscribe to. Both came in hard cases and are in pretty good condition.

Slide rules
Keuffel & Esser (K&E) 4080-3 log-log slide rule (top) and Pickett N-515-T Cleveland Institute of Electronics electronics slide rule (bottom)

The Keuffel & Esser 4080-3 slide rule has a serial number of 939707 (some nice symmetry in that number). Looks like this is a 1939 version, based on the scales on the rule and this catalog page.

The plastic brace parts of the reticle are broken, and there’s some corrosion on the metal frame. Think it might be possible to fashion some replacement braces out of bamboo or something similar. Looks like I might be able to purchase a used one too. No manual for this one, so I’ll have to see if I can hunt one down.

The other slide rule is a Pickett N-515-T. Seems like this particular model was made by Pickett for the Cleveland Institute of Electronics. Has some scales specifically for electronics related calculations and handy electronics formulas printed on the back. Not quite as chunky as the K&E slide rule, but it’s made of metal (aluminum I think) so it’s pretty rugged. No manual with this one either, but I was able to find some Cleveland Institute of Electronics slide rule course booklets online.

Will be fun learning how to use these slide rules.