April 2015 Archives

Remind me not to fly for a couple of months

Don't like to fly anyway but this news makes me want to avoid it entirely for a half-year at least.

From Network World:

FAA: 2 million lines of code process new air traffic system
The Federal Aviation Administration this week said it had completed the momentous replacement of 40-year old main computer systems that control air traffic in the US.

Known as En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM), the system is expected to increase air traffic flow, improve automated navigation and strengthen aircraft conflict detection services, with the end result being increased safety and less flight congestion.

Of course, nothing can go wrong go wrong go wrong. Two million lines of code is large but not unmanageable - Windows 7 clocks in at 40 million. The Linux 2.0 kernal at 3 mLOC

Cue the Russian and Chinese hackers in 3... 2... 1...

Innovation in dental implants

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 From Argentinian Beer company Salta

From English-language website: Reykjavík Grapevine:

That Time The United States Were Thinking Of Buying Iceland
"The population of Iceland is about 70,000, but in view of its pasture and arable lands, its valuable mines, its splendid fisheries, and its unsurpassed hydraulic power, it could, when fully developed, sustain a population exceeding 1,000,000. It has been greatly neglected by Denmark. The Icelanders complain of this, and look forward with hope to association with the United States.”

So reads “A Report on the Resources of Iceland and Greenland,” addressed to U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward in 1868. Having negotiated with Denmark for the acquisition of the Caribbean islands St. John and St. Thomas, he thought the idea of obtaining Iceland and Greenland was “worthy of serious consideration” and requested “views and facts on the subject,” according to the report’s opening remarks.

The resulting 72-page report, which was written and researched by mining engineer Benjamin M. Pierce, is revealing of expansionist policies of the time and presents a rather fascinating picture of 19th century life in Iceland.

Some more:

Apparently getting wind of the report the following year, the New York Times ran an article titled “Iceland: Rumored Plan for the Annexation of the Island to the United States,” in which it noted that Icelanders “seem to know nothing of the intended transfer” and speculated that the idea was “not likely to be at all cordially received by ‘still-vexed’ islanders.”

But Iceland’s Independence hero Jón Sigurðsson had actually heard of the report, according to an article in socialist newspaper Þjóðviljinn from 1981, which quotes a letter that Jón penned to an Eiríkur Magnússon in 1868. “Perhaps we could exploit the plan itself, as the Danes are always eager to sate their lust for profit, and they were so happy to sell St. Thomas,” Jón reportedly wrote about the report. “Of course we would never go there, where they want to sell us, but it would be a kind of cause for termination and it would be a way to get the equivalent value of the Bjelke lands with leases and sub-leases, which would amount to something like 50 million dollars, in addition to other issues, that would be fun, to scare them with that.”

Fascinating - I spent two months backpacking through Iceland in 1974. Had a wonderful time - really great people and the scenery was jaw-dropping. I flew over on Icelandic Airlines which had the cheapest flights from Boston to Copenhagen stopping at Keflavik airport - I was one of about four people who deplaned.

And things just got a bit weirder

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I had dismissed this as either a hoax or bad lab technique but...

From NASA Spaceflight (the site is not affilated with NASA):

Evaluating NASA’s Futuristic EM Drive
A group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has successfully tested an electromagnetic (EM) propulsion drive in a vacuum – a major breakthrough for a multi-year international effort comprising several competing research teams. Thrust measurements of the EM Drive defy classical physics’ expectations that such a closed (microwave) cavity should be unusable for space propulsion because of the law of conservation of momentum.

EM Drive:
Last summer, NASA Eagleworks – an advanced propulsion research group led by Dr. Harold “Sonny” White at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) – made waves throughout the scientific and technical communities when the group presented their test results on July 28-30, 2014, at the 50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

Those results related to experimental testing of an EM Drive – a concept that originated around 2001 when a small UK company, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd (SPR), under Roger J. Shawyer, started a Research and Development (R&D) program.

The concept of an EM Drive as put forth by SPR was that electromagnetic microwave cavities might provide for the direct conversion of electrical energy to thrust without the need to expel any propellant.

This lack of expulsion of propellant from the drive was met with initial skepticism within the scientific community because this lack of propellant expulsion would leave nothing to balance the change in the spacecraft’s momentum if it were able to accelerate.

However, in 2010, Prof. Juan Yang in China began publishing about her research into EM Drive technology, culminating in her 2012 paper reporting higher input power (2.5kW) and tested thrust (720mN) levels of an EM Drive.

This will be interesting to follow - many other uses come to mind.

From The Federalist has the numbers and it doesn't look good:

In 2013, The Clinton Foundation Only Spent 10 Percent Of Its Budget On Charitable Grants
Hillary Clinton's non-profit spent more on office supplies and rent than it did on charitable grants
After a week of being attacked for shady bookkeeping and questionable expenditures, the Clinton Foundation is fighting back. In a tweet posted last week, the Clinton Foundation claimed that 88 percent of its expenditures went “directly to [the foundation’s] life-changing work.”

There’s only one problem: that claim is demonstrably false. And it is false not according to some partisan spin on the numbers, but because the organization’s own tax filings contradict the claim.

And the upshot:

If you take a narrower, and more realistic, view of the tax-exempt group’s expenditures by excluding obvious overhead expenses and focusing on direct grants to charities and governments, the numbers look much worse. In 2013, for example, only 10 percent of the Clinton Foundation’s expenditures were for direct charitable grants. The amount it spent on charitable grants–$8.8 million–was dwarfed by the $17.2 million it cumulatively spent on travel, rent, and office supplies. Between 2011 and 2013, the organization spent only 9.9 percent of the $252 million it collected on direct charitable grants.

it will be interesting to see how many donors back away from the Clintons now that this has come to light...

A tip of the Stetson to Maggie's Farm.

Baltimore - the underlying cause

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From Breitbart:

Baltimore Is a Democrat Problem, Not America’s Problem
Contrary to the emotional blackmail some leftists are attempting to peddle, Baltimore is not America’s problem or shame. That failed city is solely and completely a Democrat problem. Like many failed cities, Detroit comes to mind, and every city besieged recently by rioting, Democrats and their union pals have had carte blanche to inflict their ideas and policies on Baltimore since 1967, the last time there was a Republican Mayor.

In 2012, after four years of his own failed policies, President Obama won a whopping 87.4% of the Baltimore City vote. Democrats run the city of Baltimore, the unions, the schools, and, yes, the police force. Since 1969, there have been only two Republican governors of the State of Maryland.

A bit more:

You can call the arson and looting and violence we are seeing on our television screens, rioting. That’s one way to describe the chaos. Another way to describe it is Democrat infighting. This is blue-on-blue violence. The thugs using the suspicious death of Freddie Gray (at the hands of a Democrat-led police department) to justify the looting that updates their home entertainment systems, are Democrats protesting Democrat leaders and Democrat policies in a Democrat-run city.

Poverty has nothing to do with it. This madness and chaos and anarchy is a Democrat-driven culture that starts at the top with a racially-divisive White House heartbreakingly effective at ginning up hate and violence.

Much more at the site - excellent observations.

Not a good idea

Oil revenues are down for the Saudis - what are they doing? From the UK Financial Times:

Saudi Arabia burns through foreign reserves
Saudi Arabia is burning through its foreign reserves at a record rate, as the kingdom seek to maintain spending plans despite lower oil prices.

The central bank’s foreign reserves have dropped by $36bn, or 5 per cent, over the past two months, as newly crowned King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud dips into Riyadh’s rainy-day fund and increases domestic borrowing to fund public-sector salaries and large development projects.

The latest data show Saudi’s foreign reserves dropped by $16bn to $708bn in March, driven by public-sector bonuses paid by King Salman after he assumed power in January. This follows a fall of $20bn in February. Saudi has spent $47bn of foreign reserves since October.

5% in two months and it is being spent on bonuses? Now would be the time to retrench and cut spending, not increase it. They don't know when the OPEC monopoly will resume, if...

Heading out for coffee...

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...and then to tackle a big pile of bookwork.

Happy happy joy joy

A list - Hillary Clinton and trust issues

From an email:

Things that I trust more than Hillary Clinton:

  • Mexican tap water
  • A rattlesnake with a "pet me" sign
  • OJ Simpson showing me his knife collection
  • Charlie Manson sleep walking
  • An elevator ride with Ray Rice
  • Michael Jackson's Doctor
  • A Palestinian on a motorcycle
  • Gas station Sushi
  • A Jimmy Carter economic plan
  • Brian Williams news reports
  • Loch Ness monster sightings
  • Prayers for peace from Al Sharpton
  • Bill Clinton being responsible for White House interns
  • A night with the Boston Strangler

Thank God

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The person I knew who was in Nepal has turned up safe.

From The Bellingham Herald:

Three Whatcom residents in Nepal reported safe after earthquake
Three Whatcom County residents who were in Nepal when a massive earthquake struck the country Saturday, April 25, have been reported safe.

The trio — Doreen Richmond and Jim Lane of Lummi Island and Jeannie DeBari of Deming — were on a trek together.

Richmond borrowed a phone and called her mother Carmela in Long Island, New York, about 7 a.m. Thursday, April 30, to report all three were unhurt and in Kanchenjunga, on the border with India and far from the epicenter of the earthquake northwest of Kathmandu.

“They were there. They were safe. They felt some tremors,” Richmond’s sister Diane Lobasso said in an interview.

The DeBari's are long-time friends - met them when I first moved up here 12 years ago and ate at their restaurant many times before then while up here hiking and skiing.

Something to try this summer

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Planning to add a backyard foundry to my blacksmithing equipment.

This looks like a lot of fun:

From The Backyard Scientist

The USA is a first-world country. We can ill-afford to waste money with the economy being as sluggish as it is but we can do it and not break the bank.

Third-world countries do not have that luxury and we and the fools at the United Nations are trying to deprive countries in Africa the cheap energy they need to develop and rise out of poverty.

Matt Ridley so eloquently explains:

There really is a trade-off: denying aid for fossil fuels hurts the poor
My column in The Times is on the undeniable truth that western countries are preventing Africans getting access to the cheapest power, which is fossil-fuelled.

In what is probably the silliest comment on climate since a Ukip councillor blamed floods on gay marriage, a green journalist opined of the refugees dying in the Mediterranean: “This is what climate crisis looks like . . . We know there is evidence that the violence triggered by the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 were in part fuelled by protests over soaring food prices.”

The soaring prices were actually exacerbated (as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN confirmed) by the diversion of much of the world’s farmland into making motor fuel, in the form of ethanol and biodiesel, for the rich to salve their green consciences. Climate policies were probably a greater contributor to the Arab Spring than climate change itself.

Many refugees are fleeing Islamist persecution in Libya and the Sahel but as Dr Kandeh Yumkella, UN under-secretary-general, told the BBC, the “long-term push factors” that are driving people to make the “miserable journey” include the lack of energy in sub-Saharan Africa.

Without abundant fuel and power, prosperity is impossible: workers cannot amplify their productivity, doctors cannot preserve vaccines, students cannot learn after dark, goods cannot get to market. Nearly 700 million Africans rely mainly on wood or dung to cook and heat with, and 600 million have no access to electric light. Britain with 60 million people has nearly as much electricity-generating capacity as the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, minus South Africa, with 800 million.

The truth and a few numbers:

In 2013 Ed Davey, the energy secretary, announced that British taxpayers will no longer fund coal-fired power stations in developing countries, and that he would put pressure on development banks to ensure that their funding policies rule out coal. (I declare a commercial interest in coal in Northumberland.)

In the same year the US passed a bill prohibiting the Overseas Private Investment Corporation — a federal agency responsible for underwriting American companies that invest in developing countries — from investing in energy projects that involve fossil fuels.

There is a growing backlash against this policy. The Republicans want to reverse it. Yvo de Boer, head of the Global Green Growth Institute, says: “You really have to be able to offer these countries an economically viable alternative, before you begin to rule out coal.” And Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank, says it is hypocritical for western governments, made rich by fossil fuels, “to say to African countries, ‘You cannot develop dams, you cannot develop coal, just rely on these very expensive renewables’. African countries will not listen.”

The Center for Global Development calculates that $10 billion invested in renewable energy technology in sub-Saharan Africa could give 20-27 million people access to basic electricity, whereas the same sum spent on gas-fired generation would supply 90 million.

Thank God that the rest of the world is not caught up in this political fever-dream:

Meanwhile, China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, is stepping in as the Americans and Europeans step back. Its willingness to fund coal projects is one of the reasons other Asian countries are rushing to join the project, to the irritation of Washington. The Australian government is joining forces with Japan to push for the construction of “clean coal” plants in the developing world — power stations that burn coal more efficiently.

Much more at the site - how can these politicos sleep at night? Are they that out of touch with the boots-on-the-ground reality. Ideas so good they have to be mandetory...

Nothing much today

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Ran into town to take care of a couple of things - Lulu is back at her house for a few days.

Got to unload the truck - more surfing later tonight. Start on the paperwork tomorrow...

One of my errands was to the new nursery in town - My Garden Nursery - it has moved into the space vacated by the sadly departed Bakerview Nursery. So far, so good - not a lot of stock on hand but they have only been open for less than a month. Give them time. The re-employed a couple of the original staff and seem to be heading in the right direction. I picked up two mint plants and they seem healthy and not pot-bound.

From FOX News:

Freddie Gray Arrest Record, Criminal History & Rap Sheet
Freddie Gray, who died a week after suffering injuries while in Baltimore police custody, had a lengthy criminal record, mainly for drug-related offenses, according to state court records. Police claim he was “involved in criminal activity,” prior to his arrest.

He was no choirboy:

  • March 20, 2015: Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance
  • March 13, 2015: Malicious destruction of property, second-degree assault
  • January 20, 2015: Fourth-degree burglary, trespassing
  • January 14, 2015: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute
  • December 31, 2014: Possession of narcotics with intent to distribute
  • December 14, 2014: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • August 31, 2014: Illegal gambling, trespassing
  • January 25, 2014: Possession of marijuana
  • September 28, 2013: Distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, second-degree assault, second-degree escape
  • April 13, 2012: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, violation of probation
  • July 16, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute
  • March 28, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • March 14, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to manufacture and distribute
  • February 11, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • August 29, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, violation of probation
  • August 28, 2007: Possession of marijuana
  • August 23, 2007: False statement to a peace officer, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • July 16, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance (2 counts)

His death is tragic and the people responsible need to be punnished. That being said, he was not contributing to society, he was part of the problem.

Caring for your millennial

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Pope Francis and Global Warming

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I like Pope Francis for the most part. Unfortunatley, he has bought into the Global Warming scam lock stock and barrel.

Eric Worrall has an excellent essay at Watts Up With That:

To whom does a Christian owe their loyalty?
Does a Christian owe their first loyalty to the Pope, or to God? If your conscience tells you one thing, and the Pope tells you another, which path should you follow?

Galileo followed his conscience. Even when given a direct order by the highest authority in Christendom, to recant his opinion that the Earth is not the centre of the universe, he chose conscience over obedience, divinity over temporal authority – until he was threatened with unspeakable pain.

I am not saying the church is always wrong. Most of the time, the church is a force for good. The moral authority which is the Christian church helped to create the modern world. The concept of a single god, a god of love rather than hate, a universe of order, in which the forces of chaos were chained in the abyss, gave the philosopher monks the peace to pursue their research into the innermost workings of creation – and the faith to believe that creation was orderly enough to be explored.

However, a papal encyclical which demands action on climate change would be tantamount to an accusation that people who doubt the urgency of addressing climate change are evil – are cynically exploiting the doubts of others, for their own selfish ends. Yet surely true evil is condemning millions to live their lives in endless drudgery, by denying them the opportunities inexpensive energy and affordable food might bring, on the basis of the flimsiest of evidence – defective models and failed predictions.

More at the site - an excellent read. Anthropogenic Climate Change is a political movement and not a scientific one. The numbers and observed data simply do not add up. Even the IPCC admits that there has been no warming in the last 18+ years and there is a move to examine the record of surface temperatures as these have been known to have been 'adjusted'

Ham radio to the rescue

From IT World:

Ham radio attempts to fill communication gaps in Nepal rescue effort
Amateur radio has stepped in to fill communication gaps in Nepal, which is struggling with power outages and a flaky Internet after a devastating earthquake on Saturday killed over 5,000 people.

The hobbyist radio operators, also known as ham radio operators or hams, are working round-the-clock to help people get in touch with relatives, pass on information and alert about developing crises ever since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit about 80 kilometers from Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu.

A bit more:

The electricity supply has improved in many parts of Kathmandu, but when there were power outages, ham operators resorted to transmitting at low power, an operation known as QRP, which requires as little as 15 to 20W, said Satish Kharel, a lawyer in Kathmandu, who uses the ham call signal 9N1AA. “When the power was out, I used to plug into my car battery,” he said.

Ham operators in Nepal and India are working in shifts to keep communications going between them and hams in other parts of the world like Turkey, Australia and New Zealand, Bhide said.

The equipment is relatively cheap too - you can get a really nice hand-held set for under $200 and it takes about 20 hours of casual study to get a license. A more powerful rig (one which can reach around the world) is about $1,500 on up but there is a lot of cheap used equipment out there and the option to build your own is a path that has been well traveled.

Tuberculosis ward

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My cold is almost over but Lulu's is at its worst with a major sore throat.

She is heading back to her house in town for a few days - her son and her nephew are there to take care of her. I have a mountain of paperwork to deal with here.

So true - Hillary

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20150428-hillary.jpg

Swiped from Mostly Cajun

Baltimore is the new Ferguson

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From FoxNews:

Social media analysis suggests links between Baltimore and Ferguson violence
An analysis of social media traffic in downtown Baltimore Monday has unearthed striking connections to the protests in Ferguson, Mo. last year, according to a leading data mining firm that shared its findings exclusively with Fox News.

The firm, which asked to remain anonymous because of its government work, found between 20 and 50 social media accounts in Baltimore that were also tied to the peak period of violence in Ferguson. While further analysis is being conducted on the data, it suggests the presence of "professional protesters" or anarchists taking advantage of Freddie Gray's death to incite more violence.

A bit more:

One account, which also tracked the recent union protests in New York City as well as other disturbances, tweeted photos of Gray's funeral and used language that seemed to anticipate violence in Baltimore.

The discovery that some social media accounts were tied to cities 825 miles apart was described to Fox News as “surprising.” While it is possible to spoof accounts and make it appear as if someone is in one location when they are really in another, the data mining firm told Fox News that it can’t fully explain the numbers.

George Soros at work destabilizing America. Once things get bad enough, martial law gets implemented and then a President for Life.

I pray that we are not at the end-game of Franklin's reply: "A republic, if you can keep it"

Iran seizes ship

Not good at all - from Yahoo/Reuters:

Maersk Tigris ship manager declines comment, Pentagon says Iran boards vessel
The ship manager for the container vessel boarded by Iranian forces declined to comment on the status of the vessel on Tuesday.

The Pentagon said earlier that the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris was boarded by Iranian forces in the Gulf.

The Maersk Tigris is managed by Singapore-based Rickmers Ship Management, which is part of Hamburg-based Rickmers Group. A Rickmers Group spokeswoman declined to comment when contacted by Reuters about the vessel.

A spokesman for the world's biggest container group Maersk Line said the vessel was on timecharter to Maersk Line, declining further comment.

Ship tracking data on Reuters showed the vessel was bound for Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, although it was still close to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas at 1530 GMT (1130 ET) on Tuesday. Its previous port was listed as Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

It would be interesting to find out the cargo. Iran is a sponsor of terrorism as well as Saudi Arabia.

Not that far from the truth

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This report from The Onion:

College Encourages Lively Exchange Of Idea
Saying that such a dialogue was essential to the college’s academic mission, Trescott University president Kevin Abrams confirmed Monday that the school encourages a lively exchange of one idea. “As an institution of higher learning, we recognize that it’s inevitable that certain contentious topics will come up from time to time, and when they do, we want to create an atmosphere where both students and faculty feel comfortable voicing a single homogeneous opinion,” said Abrams, adding that no matter the subject, anyone on campus is always welcome to add their support to the accepted consensus. “Whether it’s a discussion of a national political issue or a concern here on campus, an open forum in which one argument is uniformly reinforced is crucial for maintaining the exceptional learning environment we have cultivated here.” Abrams told reporters that counseling resources were available for any student made uncomfortable by the viewpoint.

A friend was over there treking and is reported missing.

This did catch my eye:

20150427-jenner.jpg

A tip 'o the hat to Grouchy Old Cripple.

Sedentary lifestyle

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I was sure that I lost a couple pounds - didn't eat as much while on the road.

It seems that sitting in a truck is not conducive to weight loss - I put on ten pounds this trip. I have been trying to lose ten pounds so am now 20 behind where I want to be.

No carbs for a while...

Back home again

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We traveled 6665.2 miles round trip, visited nine states and we could still have spent another month in each state and not seen everything. An epic voyage of discovery.

Sitting at my home computer waiting for the 4,900 emails to download.

UPDATE: that is finished and over half of them are spam.

Got the last of the spaghetti sauce thawed out and boiling some water for pasta. Lulu is making a salad and I just took a nice long shower.

Comforts of home.

I'll be starting to develop the photos in a day or two and will post them here and on the Book of Face.

Piling on the Clintons

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A dogpile and justly deserved. Bill was a decent president - he realized that the nation elected a conservative Congress and he went along with it. He is a pragmatist. His wife is a different kettle of fish.

Now, after they left the White House "almost dead broke", the Clinton Foundation is getting some much needed scrutiny and the results are not flattering.

From the New York Post:

Charity watchdog: Clinton Foundation a ‘slush fund’
The Clinton Foundation’s finances are so messy that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put it on its “watch list” of problematic nonprofits last month.

The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.

The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, and salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.

On its 2013 tax forms, the most recent available, the foundation claimed it spent $30 million on payroll and employee benefits; $8.7 million in rent and office expenses; $9.2 million on “conferences, conventions and meetings”; $8 million on fund-raising; and nearly $8.5 million on travel. None of the Clintons are on the payroll, but they do enjoy first-class flights paid for by the Foundation.

Must be nice - a bit more:

Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofits, recently refused to rate the Clinton Foundation because its “atypical business model . . . doesn’t meet our criteria.”

Charity Navigator put the foundation on its “watch list,” which warns potential donors about investing in problematic charities. The 23 charities on the list include the Rev. Al Sharpton’s troubled National Action Network, which is cited for failing to pay payroll taxes for several years.

The best of company...

It's a gas

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Now this will be interesting - the first decent news out of the federal government in a while.

From the UK Telegraph:

US to launch blitz of gas exports, eyes global energy dominance
The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe.

"We anticipate becoming big players, and I think we'll have a big impact," said the Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary. "We're going to influence the whole global LNG market."

Mr Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first wave of shipments may begin before the end of this year or in early 2016 at the latest.

“Certainly in this decade, there’s a good chance that we will be LNG exporters on the scale of Qatar, which is today’s largest LNG exporter,” he said, speaking on the margins of the IHS CERAWeek energy summit in Texas.

Qatar may be the world exporter but it is Russia that supplies Europe and this trade is what gives Russia its operating capital. Putin's overreaches are being funded by Russian petroleum sales - remove this and we have bottled the tiger. It will not hurt to cut into the middle-east oil business too - they are the chief sponsors of international terrorism and Islamic jihad. Take them down a notch or two.

The article also mentions that Australia has a huge Natural Gas field that is just coming online and that our  own technologies for extraction efficiency are getting better and better so we will be able to recover even more from older wells.

Now if we would just get Thorium reactors in the pipeline to being built, this would be a wonderful place to be. Almost free energy - who can find anything wrong with that? Besides the watermelon greens.

No dinner at all

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Turns out that neither of us had the energy to go out for dinner so we heated two cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup and had that and a salad. It has been cold and rainy for the last two days here.

Just got done connecting the truck to the trailer for an early start tomorrow. Final push home.

The Evergreen Flight Museum

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We just got back from it and it is incredible. I was there about ten years ago and they just had one building, you could only peek into a window in the side of the Spruce Goose. It was still a lot of fun but they have expanded out into four buildings and have done exemplary work in presenting their collection.

You can now walk around inside the Goose, the SR-71 Blackbird has been opened up so you can see one of the engines and some of the avionics.

If you are in the Portland area and at all interested in flight, this is a must-see place.

Thinking about revisiting the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, WA which, again, I last visited about ten years ago.

Well dang

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Was getting driving directions to the restaurant tonight and discovered I had conflated the locations. The place I was planning to go is about 70 miles on the other side of Portland.

Looks like we will be eating in McMinnville tonight...

My favorite disaster relief group is heading to Nepal.

Check out Team Rubicon

Here is how they formed:

The Story of Team Rubicon
On January 12th, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Hundreds of thousands were killed, nearly one million Haitians were rendered homeless in a matter of moments.

Essential services, medical care, government agencies, clean water, were all disrupted. Images of the aftermath, of the tent cities, of the overflowing medical clinics, of the food lines, were broadcast across the world.

Two Marines, Jake Wood and William McNulty, knew they could help. Together with six other veterans and first responders, they gathered funds and medical supplies from friends and family and flew into the Dominican Republic. They rented a truck, loaded their gear, and headed west to Haiti.

When they crossed the Artibonite, the river border between Haiti and the Dominican, they crossed their Rubicon; the initial group of eight were irrevocably committed to their task of providing aid to Haiti.

And they did. They treated thousands of patients, traveling to camps deemed “too dangerous” by other aid organizations. They ventured outside the traditional scale of disaster response, focusing on those who would be overlooked, untreated.

These people do wonderful work. There is no administrative overhead - all donations go to relief supplies.

Some last photos from the trip

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Here are some photos from the last couple of days:

20150422-monterey01.jpgMonterrey Bay, California - an old fishing town turned tourist

20150422-monterrey02.jpgThis was Doc Ricketts lab - John Steinbeck wrote about him in Cannery Row

20150424-blacksmith01.jpgMeagan Crowley from Colorado - one of the demonstrators

20150424-blacksmith02.jpgDean Mook from Pt. Townsend, WA

20150424-blacksmith03.jpgThe popular contest

20150424-blacksmith04.jpgSome of the work - gorgeous stuff

20150425-sunset.jpgSunset from last night at our campground.

All in all, a great trip but we are sooo looking forward to heading home.

Tip of the iceberg?

This current administration is noted for releasing adverse information on Friday so the news media will forget about it by Monday.

Here is one example printed today - Saturday - by the New York Times:

Russian Hackers Read Obama’s Unclassified Emails, Officials Say
Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.

And they owned up to this:

White House officials said that no classified networks had been compromised, and that the hackers had collected no classified information. Many senior officials have two computers in their offices, one operating on a highly secure classified network and another connected to the outside world for unclassified communications.

But officials have conceded that the unclassified system routinely contains much information that is considered highly sensitive: schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of pending personnel moves and legislation, and, inevitably, some debate about policy.

If they owned up to a partial breach, imagine what the reality is. We are getting the government we deserve...

Beautiful McMinnville, Oregon

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Here for two nights and then home on Monday.

Thawing out some pasta sauce I made five days ago - quick and easy. Salad. We are eating very well on the trip. The kitchen is a small one but we have everything we need.

More after dinner...

Did a quick check of the news and saw that Nepal has been hit by a massive earthquake with hundreds of dead and buildings and temples collapsed.

Our prayers go out to these poor people.

The homestretch

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Heading up through Oregon, spending the night at an RV park adjacent to the Aerospace Museum.

Probably spending two nights there as there is a wonderful restaurant in the area. Heading to points North after that. Feeling a lot better but yesterday and today are Lulu's bad days with the cold. Taking things easy.

Will be posting a lot more photos a week or two after we get back...

Radio Silence

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Needless to say, the conference didn't have any options for internet.

It turned out to be much less than advertised - the Californians were saying that this event would blow Mt. Hood out of the water. Not so much.

Lulu and I spent two days there - had a great time but there was only so much to keep us engaged so we decided to bail in the afternoon of the second day. Some of the demonstrators didn't show, the three-day contest had two people enter - just two when there were twelve slots for forging time. I bought a couple books and did learn a lot but this was by hanging out listening to people talk about new techniques - the only smith I got anything substantive from is from about 60 miles southwest of where we live. Add to that our both being ill with colds and on the road for too long - we decided to just go home...

We have gone to ground outside of Dunsmuir, CA and are planning to get to McMinnville for two days - Astoria is a fun town with an interesting history and the Spruce Goose is out here. I have not been to the museum since it first opened. Looking forward to it.

Planning to be home sometime Tuesday-ish.

Also, in the confusion of packing to get back on the road, I mislaid my mouse. I hatesses trackpads. Hatesses them.

Feeling better - on the road again

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Feeling a lot better - still congested but not as bad.

Heading out to the conference site, dropping Beautiful Dreamer and heading into Monterrey for the day. Conference starts tomorrow.

Stuffed

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Just got back from dinner at The Wool Growers.

There are not that many authentic Basque restaurants in the US (here, here, here and here) which is a shame. The food is awesome and well priced.

No menu, you are offered a few entrées and then the soup comes out, two salads, lamb stew and then your entrée (if you have any room left) and then it's Ice Cream for dessert. Costs $22/person and there is an additional charge of $7 if you want a second bottle of wine. Seating is at long tables - the place has been owned by two brothers for 40 years. One does the kitchen and one does the bar.

If you are traveling up I-5 and are near Los Banos, stop in for dinner.

From the Genetic Literacy Project:

Pasta? Ruby grapefruits? Why organic devotees love foods mutated by radiation and chemicals
Visit the website of Wasatch Organics and you can find one of many people’s fruits: scrumptious looking Ruby Red grapefruits, plump and juicy. Or sidle over to Australia’s Whisk and Pin gourmet food emporium and snatch up some organic Ruby Red grapefruit marmalade.

Just as nature intended!

Or not.

To the foodie, what could be better than “natural” ripe Ruby Red grapefruit? Free from the alleged dangers of pesticides or genetic modification, organic Ruby Reds should represent one of the last havens of natural food, completely unaltered by man.

Think again. Ruby Red grapefruits, along with 3,000 other crop varieties consumed by millions every day, were actually created through mutation breeding, also known as mutagenesis. Plants were exposed to atomic radiation, thousands of genes scrambled in laboratory experiments that took years.

In the last 60 years, mutation breeding has produced a sizeable fraction of the world’s crops. Varieties of wheat, including almost all the most popular varieties used to make top-grade Italian pasta, vegetables, fruit, rice, herbs and cotton have been altered or enhanced with gamma rays, and often separately or additionally soaked in toxic chemicals, in the hopes of producing new desirable, traits. Now these varieties are marketed as conventional and organic foods, and are unlabeled.

Much more at the site. Why are some people so fearful of what they cannot understand? This is just accelerated hybridization - the radioactivity is being used to speed up the mutation process that naturally occurs.

Some people seem to conflate two different aspects of an entity:

Radiation = atomic bombs & reactor meltdowns = bad
Radiation = plant hybridization & better food = ?

Fun morning

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Woke up with my head full of snot. The cold is running full throttle and I feel like crap. Didn't seem to hit Lulu as hard so far.

We are about 40 miles from where the conference will be held so we are hanging our hats here for a second day to rest up. Heading to the conference tomorrow (Tuesday - it starts on Wednesday so we are not missing anything) and bagging any plans of a leisurely trip through Monterrey.

Having dinner at Wool Growers Restaurant

And the chorus:

California, preaching on the burning shore
California, I'll be knocking on the golden door
Like an angel, standing in a shaft of light
Rising up to paradise, I know, I'm gonna shine

Estimated Prophet by the Grateful Dead - one of my favorites.

Back when Jen and I were still married, we visited this part of the nation on a regular basis as her family farm in the Central Valley. The soil here is excellent but water is crucial. California has a history of multi-year droughts alternating with periods of abundant water. So does Arizona. So does Texas.

The Golden State is having severe problems with drought this year as the same high pressure ridge off our West Coast that devastated our skiing and caused the polar winters of the North East has left California without enough water to sustain many farms. Heading up from Bakersfield, we passed orchard after orchard that was either ripped out or just left to dry out and die.

Arizona and Texas share the same climate problems but they are not having any of these problems. Why?

Because they have adequate multi-year storage capacity.

From The Daily Beast:

The Big Idea: California Is So Over
California has met the future, and it really doesn’t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the Golden State, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle- and working classes. 

The water situation reflects this breakdown in the starkest way. Everyone who follows California knew it was inevitable we would suffer a long-term drought. Most of the state—including the Bay Area as well as greater Los Angeles—is semi-arid, and could barely support more than a tiny fraction of its current population. California’s response to aridity has always been primarily an engineering one that followed the old Roman model of siphoning water from the high country to service cities and farms.  

But since the 1970s, California’s water system has become the prisoner of politics and posturing. The great aqueducts connecting the population centers with the great Sierra snowpack are all products of an earlier era—the Los Angeles aqueduct (1913), Hetch-Hetchy (1923), the Central Valley Project (1937), and the California Aqueduct (1974). The primary opposition to expansion has been the green left, which rejects water storage projects as irrelevant. 

Much more at the site. The greens may have had good intent but they have mushroomed into a dinosaur that fails to comprehend the unintended consequences of its actions. Its brain is dead but its hind legs keep kicking.

Consider this - all the good solid work of careing for the environment has been done. Was done thirty years ago. Acid rain? SMOG? Lead in the environment? Burning rivers? All taken care of thank you very much...

Time to have a big celebretory pot luck and free-love fest and then disband and get on with our lives. But no, as victims of Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, they have taken on a  life of their own and become this juggernaut that shambles on without any wit or wisdom; smashing everything it its path.

Carly for Prez

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I like her - so do a lot of other people. Having a President who has actually made payroll and tough executive decisions would be a breath of fresh air.

From National Review:

Fiorina Has Hillary Defenders Worried
A long parade of presidential contenders presented themselves before a convention of New Hampshire Republicans this weekend. But only one was a former top business executive, and only one was a woman, and they were the same candidate. Carly Fiorina is no doubt getting attention because of her unique background, but more and more people are staying to listen because she has something fresh to say.

“For the first time in U.S. history, we are destroying more businesses than we are creating,” Fiorina told her audience in Nashua. “The weight of the government is literally crushing the potential of the people of this nation.” Electing standard-issue politicians will no longer do, she said. “Managers are people who do the best they can within the existing system. Leaders are people who do not accept what is broken just because it has been that way for a long time.”

Fiorina also seems to relish the role of being the most pointed critic of Hillary Clinton. “She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights,” she jabbed back in February when a scandal involving the Clinton Foundation surfaced. She contrasts her background as a “problem solver” with Clinton’s record as a professional politician. Her critique of Clinton’s record is withering: “I come from a world where speeches are not accomplishments. Activity isn’t accomplishment. Title isn’t accomplishment. I come from a world where you have to actually do something; you have to produce results.”

She is also spot-on with California's water problems:

In fact, it was her experience in California that convinced her of big government’s power to destroy people. Fiorina told Glenn Beck that California’s current drought is a human-caused environmental disaster. “Despite the fact that California has suffered from droughts for millennia, liberal environmentalists have prevented the building of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades during a period in which California’s population has doubled.”

I would vote for her in a heartbeat - get someone like Ted Cruz or Bobby Jindal for VP, John Bolton for SecState. Give all the Keynesian's in the Fed the boot and replace them with Austrians, institute a flat tax (your 1040 fits on the back of a 3-by-5 postcard), defund the EPA and Dept of Education by 80%, means-test all foreign aid - if a nation is not working for our own interests, do not give them our money.

I could go on like this for hours - I would love to be king for a couple of years...

A look at Netflix

Great behind the scenes look at Netflix and how it is changing the landscape of Television.

From The New York Times:

Netflix Is Betting Its Future on Exclusive Programming
It is April 9 just before midnight in the war room of Netflix’s headquarters here, where the smell of popcorn fills the air and a team of engineers, social media experts and other specialists starts counting down the seconds until the new “Daredevil” superhero series goes live on the streaming service.

At the stroke of 12, applause breaks out in the room. Flutes of Champagne are passed around as the Netflix team checks that the series is available for binge watching across devices in more than 50 countries around the world.

“Daredevil” is the 17th Netflix original series to make its debut this year, representing a bold bet by the company to significantly increase its investment in exclusive programming. Just three years after Netflix started streaming its first original series, “Lilyhammer,” the company is planning 320 hours of original programming in 2015. That is about three times what it offered last year.

And the money quote:

“We’ve had 80 years of linear TV, and it’s been amazing, and in its day the fax machine was amazing,” he said. “The next 20 years will be this transformation from linear TV to Internet TV.”

I gave our Roku box a good couple of months trial and then ditched DirecTV. Massive wailing and gnashing of teeth from their customer service representative but I told them that, with all the added content, I was paying about $20/month for Netflix and my business already had Amazon Prime. Beats spending $90+/month for three or four channels I like to watch and 150 home shopping channels that I don't.

Some buggy-whip manufacturer turned to automotive accessories when Henry Ford came out with his Model A, some did not. Times change and those that forsee and adapt will thrive.

Long trip - almost over

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Today's run from Las Vegas to Los Banos was about 480 miles. For the cumulative trip, we have traveled 5,300 miles from Maple Falls and have another 1,000 miles to go to be back home.

Fun trip - we had an In-N-Out burger for lunch and was planning to go to Pea-Soup Andersen's for dinner but it was late and we were tired so had a couple cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle with Ritz crackers - some tastes are just iconic.

Los Banos, California

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Arrived a few minutes ago after leaving Las Vegas. I spent an hour driving through the strip - Lulu had not been there for over 40 years and I was there about eight years ago. A lot of construction going on.

Jen's Dad commented that in spite of the money invested in the buildings and despite their opulence, they will be torn down in 20 years and something else built in their place. Puts thing into perspective.

Doing a side-trip to the Monterrey area tomorrow - Lulu grew up in this area and still has a lot of family here.

Word from the farm is great - Jimmy has been working with a friend of mine to string electric fencing and tidy up the place. With the early spring, the garden has been going gangbusters - it will be nice to eat our own produce when we get back.

Booked into the conference campground for the 22nd and the conference begins on the 23rd.

One minor hassle - I had been having some congestion for the last couple of days and attributed it to the huge volumes of dust in some of the places we visited. Turns out it was the onset of a chest cold and Lulu and I are now fully involved. I bought a bunch of Alka Seltzer products - both night and daytime and we will dose ourselves tonight and sleep in. See how we feel in the morning.

More posting after dinner...

On the road again

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Finishing off breakfast and heading out to the showers. Nothing much today, just a long day of driving.

Back from dinner and some photos

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Dinner was really good - we ate at a casino so basically the meal was priced for the cost of the food - the casino's make their money off gambling returns and not the hotel services.

Here are a couple of photographs from the last two days:

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Arches - Balancing Rock

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Arches again - I love the cragginess of the rectangular rock in the mist - this puppy will pop when I get home and work it with Lightroom.

20150418-arches03.jpg

Ray's Tavern in Green River, Utah - a must-stop on the road. Great food and great people.

20150419-bryce01.jpg

Bryce Canyon - hoodoos

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Bryce Canyon - Natural Arch - gorgeous colors - another job for Lightroom.

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Bryce Canyon - It had been snowing yesterday and someone made this little guy. Not feeling to good today...

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Bryce Canyon - Agua Valley

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 Zion - a remnant of yesterday's precipitation

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 Zion - there is a bottleneck in driving from one end to the other. Construction of this tunnel began in 1920 and it was opened on July 4th, 1930 - it was built when cars were a lot smaller. Now, the rangers run relays of larger vehicles through. Here is Beautiful Dreamer and Thunderbunny waiting our turn to head West.

20150419-zion03.jpgThe tunnel had several windows for ventilation - here is one of them in the center of the frame. Quite the engineering accomplishment for its time. 

Vegas Baby!

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Down for the night in a campsite a couple miles from the strip. There is a huge casino next door so we are going to wander over to split a steak and lobster dinner.

Bryce and Zion were gorgeous - I will be doing a big dump of photos this evening, backing a couple of days work onto my two sets of hard drives.

Early morning and push to the coast by Monday night, up to somewhere near Monterrey Bay and then Hollister on the 22nd.

Just ran into this article on how Hollister is being split apart by tectonic forces. Seeing the forces that shaped all the places we visited, it is humbling to realize that the same forces are still just as active.

An update in our travel plans

Was looking at the maps this morning and realized that we had three days to drive 850 miles!

Yikes - how time does fly...

Driving through Bryce this morning and planning to get as far tonight as possible. We need to be in Hollister, CA on the 22nd.

Heading out for breakfast in Tropic, Utah and then points west.

Scythe v/s String Trimmer

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From a 2010 contest in England.

Long day today

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Woke up a bit late this morning, grabbed a coffee to go in Moab and headed out to Arches National Park.

We had a bit of a double-whammy as it was a Saturday and it was also the weekend that National Parks are free of charge - the place was crowded and the Arches were jammed - parking lot was double-parked. Screw that.

Got a bunch of nice photos of the other formations in the park - there is a lot more going on than just the arches. The weather cooperated wonderfully.

Got an email saying that if we were passing though Green River, UT, that Ray's Tavern was the place to go for burgers. It still is.

Green River struck us as having suffered a zombie apocalypse - there are trucks parked here and there but most of the businesses are shuttered and there is nobody walking around - not a soul. The town website (the link is just above) has not been updated since February 2013. There is talk of a nuke plant though - check out the Blue Castle Project

We are camped just outside of Bryce Canyon and planning to spend two days here doing Bryce and Zion. Next up is Vegas, Yosemite National Park, the Blacksmith Conference and then home.

I'll be posting some photos tomorrow.

Discrimination

Everyone is doing it.

An excellent rant from Statistician William M. Briggs:

Discrimination Is Everywhere!
A seventy-year-old man auditions to play the lead in Model Detective, a film about a Victoria’s Secret swimsuit model who solves beach crime, and he is turned down because he is a man. Sex discrimination. Not only that, but the woman who lands the role must fit into the pre-designed costume, and, while wearing it, must make men swoon. This excludes a wide swath of womankind from consideration. Body-shape discrimination.

Harvard University’s Literature Department needs to fill its chair in LGBTQWERTY Greeting Card Gendered Semiotics Theory. Fluffy, the mouse chaser from the male-dominated Department of Physics, applies for the job and is turned down because Fluffy thinks store-bought greeting cards are inane. Species discrimination.

Middle schooler Witu Lo, who longs to be an airline pilot, applies to Thomas Jefferson High School, in Fairfax County in Virginia, but is turned down because that school has reached their fill of Asians this year. Race discrimination. But the school takes Laquisha Jones because her demographic characteristics are more desirable. Demographic characteristics discrimination.

Country wants to elect a new president and has a choice between Mr Black and Mr White. Many vote for Mr Black because he is not Mr White. That same country, after Mr Black’s term expires, faces a new election with candidates Mr Hombre and Mrs Mujeres, and most decide for Mrs Mujeres because her (natural, non-surgically facilitated) absence of Mr Cojones. Presidential discrimination.

Apple Corporation casts it net for a programmer for its new iPencil, a battery-operated writing device which only writes on paper1 produced by factories Apple owns in the Far East, a product sure to take the world by storm. It decides to hire a person who knows how to program. Python discrimination.

The op-ed section of the New York Times has been light since once its writers slipped into an inner-dimensional vortex produced by publishing one too many logical paradoxes. They print an ad asking for “An op-ed writer who believes discrimination is abhorrent.” The person who wrote the ad also disappeared into the vortex. Paradoxical discrimination.

More at the site - pure gold. I like gold but I like copper and silver better. Am I guilty of Metal discrimination? Hell yes!

We all discriminate - if the progressives want to entertain a real truthful dialog, they need to deal with facts, not rhetoric, truth not narrative.

We conservatives will be here waiting for them to grow up - we are patient like that...

Adult - but that would be Children discrimination.

On the road again

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Heading out tomorrow to the Bryce/Escalante/Zion area for three days and then to Vegas and then to the Blacksmith Conference via Death Valley and Yosemite.

We are both ready to head home - it has been a wonderful voyage of discovery and we are definitely planning to revisit a lot of the areas we have traveled but 40 days is a long time to be on the road.

Dinner plan 'A' failed - their first opening was at 8:30
Dinner plan 'B' had a line out the door but
Dinner plan 'C' had a fifteen minute wait and was delicious - we shared a perfectly done small steak and a big bowl of fettuccine with Marinara sauce and a couple of meatballs. Our waitress was from Turkey - here on a work/study program - and was cute as a bug. Definite Wife #2 material (hey this IS Utah).

Spending tomorrow morning in Moab, getting coffee and cruising the galleries and then off to Arches.

A bit of a buzz North of Seattle

From The Bellingham Herald:

Highway abuzz with millions of bees after semitruck tips
A semitruck carrying millions of honeybees overturned on a highway north of Seattle early Friday, scattering hives and sending white-suited beekeepers scrambling to save as many insects as they could.

The truck had just merged onto Interstate 5 around 3:30 a.m. when it tipped on its side, dumping its load of 448 hives, or about 13.7 million bees, Washington State Patrol Trooper Travis Shearer said. The driver, a 36-year-old man from Idaho, was not hurt.

The company that owns the insects, Belleville Honey and Beekeeping Supply of Burlington, sent beekeepers to recover as many as possible, and bees covered their protective suits as they worked.

A bit more:

The bees were being transported from Sunnyside, in central Washington, to a blueberry farm in Lynden, a city near the Canadian border about 100 miles north of Seattle, Shearer said.

Who ordered this?

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As we were driving into Moab yesterday, we saw a lot of heavy clouds and had a small bit of hail. Things cleared up in the evening but after we went to bed, the rain started coming down.

Today is raining and completely overcast. Talking with a tour guide, I found that Arches was in a whiteout with blowing snow.

Moab is a sweet little town - for local people who read my blog, it is just like Glacier if Glacier had 7,000 residents. Same nice vibe - very outdoors oriented and lots of cool places to check out. I had some coffee at the Wake & Bake (in Glacier, it's the Wake 'n Bakery)

We are planning to drive the loop through Arches tomorrow - the forecast is not good but there might be some neat geological features looming out of the clouds and mist.

I am thinking of bagging Escalante and heading straight for Bryce and Zion - we need to watch our time with the Blacksmithing conference coming up in less than a week - we are already talking about another trip to this area.

The USA gives out billions of our dollars in foreign aid every year. We also bankroll the "World Bank" - a fund for helping other nations to develop their economies. It seems that there are strings attached to this money and developing nations are flocking to another source.

From the New York Times:

A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development
The average citizen of Nepal consumes about 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity in a year. Cambodians make do with 160. Bangladeshis are better off, consuming, on average, 260.

Then there is the fridge in your kitchen. A typical 20-cubic-foot refrigerator — Energy Star-certified, to fit our environmentally conscious times — runs through 300 to 600 kilowatt-hours a year.

American diplomats are upset that dozens of countries — including Nepal, Cambodia and Bangladesh — have flocked to join China’s new infrastructure investment bank, a potential rival to the World Bank and other financial institutions backed by the United States.

The reason for the defiance is not hard to find: The West’s environmental priorities are blocking their access to energy.

A bit more:

If billions of impoverished humans are not offered a shot at genuine development, the environment will not be saved. And that requires not just help in financing low-carbon energy sources, but also a lot of new energy, period. Offering a solar panel for every thatched roof is not going to cut it.

“We shouldn’t be talking about 10 villages that got power for a light bulb,” said Joyashree Roy, a professor of economics at Jadavpur University in India who was among the leaders of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

“What we should be talking about,” she said, “is how the village got a power connection for a cold storage facility or an industrial park.”

And these people get it:

To mitigate climate change, spare nature and address global poverty requires nothing less, they argue, than “intensifying many human activities — particularly farming, energy extraction, forestry and settlement — so that they use less land and interfere less with the natural world.”

As Mr. Shellenberger put it, the world would have a better shot at saving nature “by decoupling from nature rather than coupling with it.”

There is hope for the world yet - now if we could just get some adults in Washington, things will go a lot better...

Photos from the slot canyon

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Internet seems to be working a bit better this morning:

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Didn't know that Lulu was in the hotel business... Here she is with Grace.

20150416-navajo-01.jpgBuffalo Dance - they dance to flatten the prarie grasses to make it look like buffalo had slept there. The next herd that comes along will think that this is a safe place to bed down. The hunters will feed their tribe.

20150416-navajo-02.jpgHoop dance - this guy was amazing.

20150416-slot01.jpgSlot Canyon - can't wait to process these with lightroom. There is a ton of detail that doesn't show up here.

20150416-slot02.jpgSlot canyon

20150416-slot03.jpgSlot Canyon

Nuttin' today

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The internet seemed to have smoothed out a bit but when I try to upload a photo, it comes to a grinding halt. Worse than dialup at 2,400 BAUD

I have some good photos from today and will try to upload them tomorrow...

Landed in Moab

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The slot canyon was really beautiful - I took a bunch of photographs and will develop them after dinner - post a few.

It was also fun in that the tour business was Navajo and they had access to the more visual part of the canyon (the canyon is on Navajo land). Our trucks pulled into the parking lot along with all of the other tour groups and we proceeded to drive down a road labeled Authorised Vehicles Only for a couple miles.

They started the tour with a Buffalo dance and a Hoop Dance - the Hoop dance was incredibly well done - the guy competes nationally.

The internet here is craptastic - up and down like a cheap yoyo.

Don't expect anything more tonight. The photographs came out really well.

A bit of an early start

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Getting things packed and ready for the road - Moab tonight - the gateway to the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Taking a morning trip through Antelope slot canyon - great lighting today so should get some nice photos.

Here's how you do it - Ricoh

I have always really liked Ricoh products - I own one of their copier/printers and love it.

This just makes me want to go out and buy some more of their products just to say thank you.

From Digital Photography Review:

Ricoh's Save The Memory Project restores over 400,000 photos from Tsunami-hit areas of Japan
A initiative from Ricoh to salvage, clean, scan and return photographic prints found in the areas devastated by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami has reunited over 90,000 images with their rightful owners since it began shortly after the disaster struck. The Save The Memory Project has recovered over 400,000 prints from the rubble of affected areas, has cleaned and scanned them and posted digitized versions on an online system for owners to claim.

The project got underway almost immediately after the waters of the Tsunami had receded, with police, fire crews and soldiers searching for survivors leaving recovered prints and albums at the roadside to be collected by volunteers. The prints were then cleaned and exhibited locally for people to collect.

As the project gained momentum Ricoh gave over a section of one its distribution centers near Sendai to house the project. Since then the project expanded to Ricoh properties in Tokyo and Ebina, and the company provided 518 volunteer staff to help clean the prints, as well as multifunctional scanner/printer machines to digitize images and reprint them on fresh paper.

The project used software that can scan individual images as well as collections taken from damaged albums, with each image and album assigned its own ID number. Images were reprinted with the ID number attached, and the prints returned to Photo Centers close to where the originals were found. These centers were equipped with PCs so visitors could search the web database of digitized images for their own lost pictures, using search terms such as 'wedding photos'. Users could also tag people that they knew with their name, so when that person logged on their images would appear. The system also uses face-recognition software so that once one picture of a person was found others could be identified in the database and suggested.

The project has now ended, but the team has produced extensive information on the process, from the retrieval to the return of pictures that would otherwise have been lost forever. For more information see the Story of the Save the Memory Project webpages.

Just wow!

From The Economist:

Happy birthday to Johnson's dictionary
IT DOESN'T look a day over 250. April 15th marks the 260th anniversary of the publication of the great dictionary written by Samuel Johnson, the eponym of this column. Johnson’s dictionary was rightly celebrated as a great work of scholarship. And a few of his definitions are also celebrated for their wit: a lexicographer is “a harmless drudge”, oats a grain that "in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people”.

But this Johnson is a bigger fan, perhaps, of Johnson’s preface, which — unlike the entries in the dictionary itself — can be enjoyed in a short sitting, and which provides a window into an agile English mind. He opens with the theme of the drudge—“humble”, as well as “harmless”—who can hardly win at the occupation he has chosen. A good lexicographer can only “escape reproach”, whereas a bad one will be “exposed to censure” and “disgraced by miscarriage”. The lexicographer is a bit like the referee in sport: a bad call will be on the nightly news with the referee’s name in bold at the bottom. A good call is soon forgotten.

Just Dam

The tour was a lot of fun - Lulu was still sleepy so she stayed behind and I took the tour.

Here are a couple of photos:

20150415-gc-dam01.jpgFrom the dam top - bridge, switchyard and visitors center

20150415-gc-dam02.jpgGenerator hall - eight generators and they are upgrading one of them so the rotor has been 'parked' while the work is going on.

20150415-gc-dam03.jpg"Arty' snapshot of the dam at the base

20150415-gc-dam04.jpgThe switchyard.

All in all, a fun tour! I drove around for a bit after the tour - Page is a small town but growing. It was built in 1957 to house the workers building the dam and is now a town of about 7,200. I followed my nose to Big John's Texas BBQ (their motto: Eat Here or we Both Starve!!!) and got us a pound of brisket for dinner - excellent and done just the way I like it - pulled with a nice bark.

Lazy day today

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All that good food made us lazy - slept in.

The sky wasn't that great so we bagged Horseshoe Bend. Planning to head out to the dam in an hour for the tour.

On the road again tomorrow morning...

Dinner was good!

Finally, a great meal on the road. We splurged - Flatiron steak for me and Albacore Tuna for Lulu. Lulu lived in Hawai'i for 30 years and that was some of the best albacore she has eaten - frozen yes but none of the fishy taste improperly handled tuna can have.

The Flatiron was an honest-to-God flatiron cut - delicious. Chewy but very very flavorful and excellently prepared - spot on medium rare. The portions were large enough that we have ourselves a delightful lunch waiting in the fridge.

The wind is still kicking up a racket - it is like giants are outside Beautiful Dreamer pummeling her. Tomorrow is open depending on the wind and sunlight conditions - maybe a visit to Horseshoe Bend if we get the nice polarized light, maybe the Dam if the wind dies down a bit, maybe we just hang out and read a book.

Next stops are Moab (Arches Nat. Pk.), Capitol Reef, Escalante, Bryce and Zion and then off to Vegas Baby!

Sitting inside Beautiful Dreamer - Lulu is writing, I am backing up photos and surfing. The blacksmith conference that started this whole roadtrip in motion is on April 23rd and we meander back North to our home after that - about two and a half weeks left of our trip.

Three from today

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Here are three I shot today - again, there is no photoshop at play here, only a polarizing filter on the lens:

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20150414-lp03.jpgThe sunlight is very polarized at certain times and using a polarizing filter can capture a nice high contrast in the image.

Dam shame

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We were all set to tour the Glen Canyon dam but it was called on account of high winds.

Checked out where Thursday's slot canyon tour will depart from, did some grocery shopping and are back at the trailer park. Still high winds.

Eating dinner at the park's restaurant tonight - the menu looks downright tasty. A bit spendy but we have been cooking our own breakfast, lunch and dinner for most of this trip so a splurge now and then is not unwarranted.

Posting some photos from today in an hour or so...

The wind just picked up big-time - howling like a banshee and Beautiful Dreamer is rocking back and forth.

From The Daily Beast:

Putin’s Missile Could Make U.S. Attacks on Iran Nearly Impossible
This nuke deal with Iran had better work. Because the Kremlin is lifting a ban on selling a powerful air defense system to Iran that would render an airstrike on Tehran’s nuclear weapons facilities nearly impossible.

The delivery of the new weapon, called the Almaz-Antei S-300PMU-1—known as the SA-20 Gargoyle in NATO parlance—would effectively force the U.S. to rely on its small fleet of stealth aircraft to strike targets inside Iran in case the mullahs make a dash for the bomb. But even those aircraft might have a difficult time.

“This would be a huge deal depending on where they [the S-300s] are based…The Persian Gulf would be an interesting place to fly,” said one senior defense official with experience on multiple stealth aircraft types. “These new [surface-to-air missiles] change the whole complexion…It’s a big move.”

A bit more - as President Stompy Feet says: But Putin promised me!!!!!!!!!

In 2010, convincing Putin to suspend the sale of the S-300 to Iran was heralded as a major foreign policy coup by the Obama administration. In many ways, it was one of the central achievements of the so-called reset in relations with Moscow, said Heather Conley, a Russia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The sooner we get some adults in the room, the better...

A bit too close for comfort

There is a town in southern New Mexico named Deming. The same name as a town about 10 miles from our home in the Pacific Northwest. We joked about it while driving through.

I am a bit cautious about where we are in relation to the Mexican border - it is way to porous for our liking and finding things like Islamic prayer mats abandoned at popular crossings gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Turns out my feelings were well founded - from Judicial Watch:

ISIS Camp a Few Miles from Texas, Mexican Authorities Confirm
ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, according to Judicial Watch sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector.

The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm.

During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.

Ho. Li. Crap. More:

According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.

Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.

We have been at war for the last 20 years and nobody in Washington gets it...

Hillary's imaginary friends

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From the London Daily Mail:

More than 2 MILLION of Hillary Clinton's Twitter followers are fake or never tweet – and she's already under fire for 'buying' fake Facebook fans
Although Hillary Clinton boasts a robust 3.6 million Twitter followers, not even a vast right-wing conspiracy would be able to interact with 2 million of them.

According to two popular online measuring tools, no more than 44 per cent of her Twitter fan base consists of real people who are active in using the social media platform.

And at least 15 per cent – more than 544,000 – are completely fake.

StatusPeople.com, the oldest publicly available Twitter-auditing tool, reports that 44 per cent of the former secretary of state's followers are 'good'; 15 per cent are 'fake'; and 41 per cent are 'inactive,' meaning that they never tweet or reply to any tweets.

What difference, at this point, does it make?  Yeah - riiigghhht...

Good news on the education front

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From Yahoo/Reuters:

Former Atlanta educators sentenced to up to seven years in prison
Six former Atlanta public school educators were ordered on Tuesday to serve between one and seven years in prison in one of the nation's largest test-cheating scandals.

Ten of the 11 educators convicted of racketeering this month in the case were being sentenced on Tuesday.

Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter gave three of the educators 20-year sentences, ordering that seven years must be served in prison and the rest on probation.

One of the reasons I do not like unions - especially public-sector unions - is that they "negotiate" against performance tests. This prevents incompetent and criminal employees from being weeded out and empowers them in their negligence - case in point...

A bit more:

"There were thousands of children that were harmed in this thing," Baxter said during the hearing, after getting into heated exchanges with attorneys for the defendants. "This is not a victimless crime that occurred in this city."

Exactly, the teachers in question wanted good results without having to expend the effort to actually - you know - TEACH so they cheated on the examinations. Now the kids learn that it is perfectly OK for authority figures to cheat.

And this is just one School System - how far does the rot extend?

Off to a dam tour

Touring the Glen Canyon Dam this afternoon and have an email out asking about the slot canyon tour for tomorrow.

Taking a day of rest (and laundry and cleaning Thunderbunny and Beautiful Dreamer and doing some grocery shopping and...)

More later

Homesick

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Tonight over dinner, Lulu confessed to me that she was feeling a little bit homesick.

I confessed to her that in the last few days, I had been checking in on the weather (WTF - SNOW?)  and the Bellingham Herald website.

We are still a couple weeks away before we turn towards home and this trip has been wonderful and we are looking at doing an extended trip like this each year for the foreseeable future but...

There is a time when your voyage has reached its terminus and it is time to come home to the farm.

We will return invigorated, enlightened and ready to take on new tasks but above all, we will turn towards our home.

Gravity Payments is a Credit Card processing company based out of Seattle, WA. I heard about them two years ago and the word was good  - very very good. I switched my grocery store over to them and was very happy. Excellent customer service and really good rates on transactions. I then switched my Business Center store over to them. I raved about them to a number of local vendors and many of them switched.

Classic American truism - deliver a great product at a fair price and the world will beat a path to your door.

Now, the Founder and CEO - Dan Price - is taking it to the next level - from the New York Times:

Owner of a Credit Card Processor Is Setting a New Minimum Wage: $70,000 a Year
The idea began percolating, said Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments, after he read an article on happiness. It showed that, for people who earn less than about $70,000, extra money makes a big difference in their lives.

His idea bubbled into reality on Monday afternoon, when Mr. Price surprised his 120-person staff by announcing that he planned over the next three years to raise the salary of even the lowest-paid clerk, customer service representative and salesman to a minimum of $70,000.

“Is anyone else freaking out right now?” Mr. Price asked after the clapping and whooping died down into a few moments of stunned silence. “I’m kind of freaking out.”

If it’s a publicity stunt, it’s costly one. Mr. Price, who started the Seattle-based credit-card payment processing firm in 2004 at the age of 19, said he would pay for the wage increases by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000 and using 75 to 80 percent of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profit this year.

More at the site - this is how you do it - the power of the free market and pure capitalism (as opposed to crony capitalism which is all to much in vogue these days).

I really wish that Crossroads had the same kind of capital flow that would allow me to do something like this.

Here are four from today:

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Quick post - bad internet

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We landed in one of the most beautiful RV parks we have been in but the WiFi has been implemented with two rusty tin cans and a length of string.

Today was gorgeous - Grand Canyon. and perfectly clear skies.

I will try to get some photos up but don't hold your breath. The main office is supposed to have much better service.

Here for three nights - tour of some slot canyons, the Glen Canyon Dam and Horseshoe Bend.

Off to see the Grand Canyon

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Heading out to Old Village and then the South Rim - North Rim is still closed for the winter.

Destination will be Page, AZ where we will spend a few days by the lake and take some tours - Dam, Slot Canyons - and then up to Grand Staircase and Zion.

Lulu is taking a shower, I am finishing breakfast and we will be on the road in an hour. Slept for ten hours last night what with the intense driving on bad roads.

Wrong choice of tow vehicle

This is not a video of Thunderbunny and Beautiful Dreamer:

Talk about the wrong way to end a vacation. When we were at the Indian p. wood store, there was a UniMOG parked outside - they had broken down two weeks prior and were only getting service a few days from now.

I love the utility of UniMOGs and would love to own one at some point. Two things immediately came to mind.

#1) - these are not vehicles that can drive at sustained highway speeds - these are meant to slog though mud at 30-50 MPH max. Their cooling and lubrication systems can not handle the extra work. Lots of torque, low RPMs - there is a significant difference here...

#2) - the MOG in question was a Swiss one manufactured by MAN. The ones to get are the German Mercedes MOGs as they use a lot of the same Mercedes truck parts. MAN? You are on your own...

Cactus identified

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A couple of days ago, I had posted this image and said that I needed to identify it.

20150408-cc-03.jpgI since found out that it is a Jumping Cholla - more here.

It's native habitat can be found by clicking on the link below: Continue Reading Cactus Identified

Landed in Flagstaff, Arizona

The highway leading out of Silver City, New Mexico was very bumpy and Beautiful Dreamer was shimmying and shaking unless I kept the speed below 55 or so.

Had a wonderful pit-stop at The Adobe Café and Bakery in Reserve, NM - some of the best espresso we can remember and the pastries were drop-dead delicious. Really nice people - the staff were joking with each other and when I chimed in, they incorporated me into their banter. If we lived within 60 miles of this place, we would be there for meals at least twice/week - it was that good and that fun of an experience.

It is nice too that since they are in a very remote area, they stock bulk foods and HABA (Health And Beauty Aids) items but definitely of the alt.culture/hippie persuasion - ear candles, teas, etc...

Stopped along the way to take photos and spent 45 minutes at the Petrified Forest also stopped in at the Painted Desert Indian Center just outside the park. They have no online presence but the place is well worth stopping if you want to get some nice petrified wood and other minerals. I got a nice piece of pet. wood, a trilobite fossil, a piece of agate and a large calcite crystal - calcite has cool optical properties - fun to play with. Some of the online reviews (here and here) cite surly staff but we were there to get some nice pieces and not just kick the tires and collect our free piece of p. wood and we had zero problems. Also, the cheap chinese crap is extremely obvious as to what it is -- all of the p. wood has been locally harvested on private land and the cutting and polishing is done on site. The quality is good and the prices are very reasonable.

I was expecting to walk into a tourist trap with p. wood from Chile but this was the real deal...

Because the road was so bumpy, I am really tired and heading to bed after surfing for a bit. Thunderbunny hit 11,000 miles today and we are past our 3,500th trip mile with about 80 hours of driving time. Did chinese takeout for dinner and then on the road tomorrow to the Grand Canyon - decide how much time we want to spend there and then North to Utah. Got stocked up on beer and wine as it is mostly a dry state.

Do not feel like doing photos tonight so no pics for a few days.

Big slog today - Grand Canyon

Leaving Silver City and heading northwest to the Grand Canyon for two days.

We will be heading through some gorgeous country so there may be a pic or three this evening.

Finishing breakfast and heading out to disconnect the trailer from the campsite utilities. The weather is overcast so it will make for nice driving conditions.

From our local - The Bellingham Herald:

Deleted forever? Government text messages vanish within days
Visualization exercise: Picture 88,000 mobile phones owned by more than 700 governments large and small throughout the state: state agencies, counties, cities, universities, schools, ports, tribes and junior taxing districts.

No need to imagine – the numbers are facts, logged in state records. The phones are provided by Verizon, one of the state’s four primary phone contractors.

Next step: Picture the text messages typed on those 88,000 mobile phones – hundreds of thousands of public records – and imagine them disappearing every day, acres of digital media erased and cyber-shredded, in direct violation of state law.

No need to imagine – it’s happening. Fife City Attorney Loren Combs just figured that out, after the city sued Verizon in January.

“Those public records are literally disappearing as we speak,” Combs said in a recent interview. “They’re just dumping the data. The text I sent you on a city phone last week doesn’t exist anymore, which makes no sense.”

Sounds like someone needed to read the fine print - what happened:

For Combs, the path to revelation started with a routine matter. On Nov. 6, 2014, a Fife resident filed a public records request.

The resident sought the past four years of text messages from former City Manager Dave Zabell’s mobile phone, bought and paid for by the city.

Fife forwarded the request to Verizon, the phone carrier, and asked for the records. Verizon’s response: get a subpoena.

Combs said the move surprised him. This wasn’t a law enforcement matter tied to a criminal investigation – just a simple records request.

“I was dumbfounded in this case,” he said. “First that they wouldn’t give it to us without having to file a lawsuit to get our own records.”

Combs filed the subpoena: a short lawsuit, nothing more.

Verizon replied. The answer was a shock.

“The records that you requested no longer exist because they are beyond Verizon’s period of retention,” the official reply stated. “Text message content is maintained for 3-5 days from the date of transmission/receipt and requires a court order. There are no text message content available for your requested time frame.”

The phone logs, going back one year, were still accessible; it was possible to see that messages had been sent and received, and the to-and-from phone numbers – but the content was gone: four years of communications between the city’s highest-ranking official and whoever he was talking to, deleted forever.

“They only keep the messages for a couple of days, and then it’s gone,” Combs said.

Fife dismissed the lawsuit in March. There was nothing to litigate. The city sought the records requested by the citizen and got its answer: an empty set.

I had my own dealings with Verizon in 2010 when I was trying to get a couple T-1 lines installed out here and then use a local wireless cloud to offer internet access to people. They quoted me a very attractive price, I signed and they installed the first T-1 line six months later and then the first bill came in for about five times the price I was quoted.

There is a lot more at the site - Verizon's contract puts the burden of archiving on the individual agencies. Each agency is responsible for connecting to Verizon's network and actively archiving the data. This is downright stupid especially when memory is so fscking cheap.

It will be interesting if some upstart company like Frontier leaps into the fray and offers free archiving for five years. That is the way to do business - dead dinosaur? So sad. Too bad.

It is fully time to drive a stake through Verizon's puny little heart. Oh. Wait. They do not have one...

Ho. Li. Crap.

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The Gila Cliff Dwellings were a delight. Here are a couple photos from today:

20150411-gcd01.jpgThis little guy greeted us on our hike into the site. A baby lizard - need to identify it.

20150411-gcd02.jpgCliff dwelling - I do not have my editing tools (Lightroom and Paddy) on this computer so the images are pretty raw. I'll be creating a photo site when I get home.

20150411-gcd03.jpgThis little pixie has been following me on my journey - kinda cute. I think I'll keep her around for a while...

20150411-gcd04.jpgThe ceiling was gorgeous and nobody was looking up. Again, this will really pop in Lightroom.

20150411-gcd05.jpgA panorama of the Gila River Valley - would not mind a small cabin up here...

Heating up the last of the spaghetti sauce and boiling some noodles for dinner - small salad to start. It will be nice to have a decent dinner after last nights debacle.

Tomorrow? Grand Canyon for two days and then Page, Arizona for the Slot Canyons and then Grand Staircase for more geology.

A bit of hacking

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Michael Ramirez has a fun one today - we can but wish...

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Had one of the worst dining experiences in a long long time.

We went to a place called Wrangler's Bar & Grill - it was recommended on a couple of websites and we were in the mood to dine out and I had a hankering for a steak. Parking lot was full and there was a wait for a table - looking hopeful.

Saw a  menu entry for The Boss - a thick cut 16oz. T-Bone. Lulu was in the mood for some lighter fare and ordered the chicken tacos.

My T-Bone was ordered medium rare and came to the table well done. My side of beans was at room temperature and the baked potato was good but the bacon bits were fake.

They swapped it out for a medium rare steak but instead of thick cut, this was only about 1/2" thick. The steak had been cooked without any seasoning at all - not even salt and pepper. It makes a huge difference to salt and pepper the steak a few minutes before it hits the grill - the taste is so much better. Works in synergy with the Maillard reaction. The meat had way to much gristle in it to be a true T-Bone cut - wonder if transglutaminase had a part in its genesis...

My 'ranch beans' were just canned pintos with an over-abundance of Mexican oregano.

Lulu's tacos used canned refried beans, frozen shredded chicken meat (dry and uniform size shreds - a dead giveaway) and a manufactured taco shell and it was served cold.

The service was wonderful, all of the staff were personable and it was a great place to people-watch but don't go there for the food.

In Silver City for two days

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Got in this morning, set up the trailer and Lulu fixed a couple sandwiches for lunch. Took a nice two hour nap. Traveling is hard work!

Heading out to downtown Silver City - old mining town. Walk around for a while and then have dinner out.

Long day tomorrow - we will be visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

No photos to post - maybe later tonight...

Silver City here we come

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A hop and a skip up to Silver City today, spend two nights there and then a big slog to Grand Canyon for two days and then a short drive to Page, AZ, home of the slot canyons and Lake Powell

We need another 40 days to do this area properly - another road trip in the offing...

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Photos from today:

20150409-sb01.jpgSmokey Bear's headstone

20150409-sb02.jpgGrave-site - a National Treasure.

20150409-sb03.jpgA classic

20150409-lava01.jpgLava field - this area was volcanically active about 2,000 years ago.

20150409-lc01.jpgLas Cruces from our campsite

More details and photos from Roswell in a day or two.

Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Our last day in New Mexico, heading into Arizona after stopping at Silver City.

The trip officially clocked in at 3,000 miles this morning. Stopped in to pay our respects at Smokey Bear's grave-site and visited the UFO museum and library in Roswell.

Of course, tonight's camp-site put us into area #51

Got some of the spaghetti sauce defrosting in the microwave and boiling some fresh noodles. Watermelon for desert. The view from this park is gorgeous - it is on a hill overlooking the San Cruces valley.

Did a bunch of photography and will post some after dinner.

Day twelve of our trip and thirteen days until the Blacksmithing Conference.

Heading to Arizona and Utah. Will probably not go to Vegas at this speed.

Long day of driving but there is a Starbucks in Roswell - maybe this was another of the technologies recovered from Area 53.

Area 51 was where the alien technologies were recovered - jet packs, transporter beams, etc... This is still classified as top secret by the US Department of Defense.

Area 53 was where the alien food technologies were recovered - this is where we get Tang, Cheese Whiz, Doritos, etc...

Heading out early to Roswell (family visit) and then Capitan (Smokey Bear's gravesite and a good mineral shop). Driving South to hit Silver City but we will probably stop at Las Cruces for the night and carry on in the morning. Spending the night in Silver City and then VEGAS BABY! and California with points in between.

I was hoping to visit Roden Crater - a project of James Turrell (serious fan of his work) - but he is charging serious dinero to even peek through the door. Not bueno.

From Yahoo News / Agence France Presse:

US aerospace command moving comms gear back to Cold War bunker
The US military command that scans North America's skies for enemy missiles and aircraft plans to move its communications gear to a Cold War-era mountain bunker, officers said.

The shift to the Cheyenne Mountain base in Colorado is designed to safeguard the command's sensitive sensors and servers from a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, military officers said.

The Pentagon last week announced a $700 million contract with Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command.

Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that "because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain's built, it's EMP-hardened."

A bit more:

The Cheyenne mountain bunker is a half-acre cavern carved into a mountain in the 1960s that was designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack. From inside the massive complex, airmen were poised to send warnings that could trigger the launch of nuclear missiles.

But in 2006, officials decided to move the headquarters of NORAD and US Northern Command from Cheyenne to Petersen Air Force base in Colorado Springs.

I want to know where they are going to put WOPR

Carlsbad Caverns

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Drop. Dead. Amazing.

We spent a couple of hours there just looking at the various formations. The sheer scope of the place is intimidating - brings to mind the fisherman's prayer: Oh God, thy sea is so vast and my boat is so small

If you are planning to visit, wimp out and use the elevators - otherwise, you have to spend 45 minutes hiking down a steep path. You wind up in the entrance to the cave about 50' from where the elevators are - they will save you a 750 foot elevation gain and a long slog. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of that elevator salesperson's office.

You want to buy a couple of elevators?
OK - how tall?
750 feet - OK - how many stories is that going to be?
Two? where is this going to be installed?
Cave? Is this some kind of prank call?

There wasn't enough lighting in the cave to do any real photography - I would have had to deal with exposures of tens of seconds and with the tripod I was carrying, it would not have worked well at all. Anything I would have taken would have been a snapshot if anything at all. We spent the time drinking in the beauty and committing the majesty of the place to memory.

Outside was a different matter entirely - here are four from today:

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We had a front move in - really high winds at our campsite and a little bit of rain. Now, the sky is clear with just a few puffy clouds.

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A lot of the desert plants were starting to bloom - here is a Yucca

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Cactus of some sort - need to identify a bunch of plants that I shot. Do that when I get back home.

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There was a 1960's vintage tourist-trap at the entrance to the park - these adobe houses were cottages people could rent. Now abandoned. At the top of the hill is a replica of an Indian kiva.

And no, we did not return to see the bats - they don't really fly until later in the season - June/July. No photographic equipment is allowed - the flash confuses them and most digital cameras have motors to focus the lenses and they have enough of an ultrasonic output as to confuse the little critters. I do have cameras where I can turn off these motors but I would need to file for a special permit in order to use them. Next time...

Off to the town of Carlsbad and then to the caverns.

Should be a lot of fun - there are a couple of cave systems near Pittsburgh that I visited as a kid and greatly enjoyed it. This was back when carbide lamps were state of the art.

Troglodyte? From Wikipedia:

A cave dweller, or troglodyte, is a human being who inhabits a cave

Now we did not see that coming...

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From the Times of Israel:

Iran news report: Tehran will start using fastest centrifuges on day deal takes effect
Iran will begin using its latest generation IR-8 centrifuges as soon as its nuclear deal with the world powers goes into effect, Iran’s foreign minister and nuclear chief told members of parliament on Tuesday, according to Iran’s semi-official FARS news agency.

If accurate, the report makes a mockery of the world powers’ much-hailed framework agreement with Iran, since such a move clearly breaches the US-published terms of the deal, and would dramatically accelerate Iran’s potential progress to the bomb.

Iran has said that its IR-8 centrifuges enrich uranium 20 times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges it currently uses.

According to the FARS report, “Iran’s foreign minister and nuclear chief both told a closed-door session of the parliament on Tuesday that the country would inject UF6 gas into the latest generation of its centrifuge machines as soon as a final nuclear deal goes into effect by Tehran and the six world powers.”

Tick tock tick tock tick tock...

We don't need no steenkin' security

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This is classic clueless elitism hitting the real world - from Investors Business Daily:

Hillary Clinton's Private Server A Foreign Spy Magnet
Hillary Clinton's private email server was a spy magnet for the Russian, Chinese, Iranian and other intelligence services, say current and former intelligence officials.

As secretary of state, Clinton routed all her government-related email through the server, based in her house in Chappaqua, New York. She reportedly hired a Cablevision subsidiary to run the server, with antivirus protection from Intel's McAfee. And she registered her domain name, clintonmail.com, through Network Solutions.

Intelligence professionals fear that the use of the privately installed server, free of certified government defenses against foreign interception, has been a boon to foreign cyberspies.

"By using her own private server with email — which we now know was wholly unencrypted for the first three months of Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state — she left this easily interceptable by any decent 21st century SIGINT service," said John Schindler, a former National Security Agency counterintelligence officer. SIGINT is shorthand for signals intelligence, or electronic spying.

"The name Clinton right on the email handle meant this was not a difficult find," Schindler said. "We should assume Russians, Chinese and others were seeing this."

Fscking clueless... They think that because they have been able to accumulate a good bit of money that they possess a greater intelligence than the rest of the population. Instead, they were lucky and have lower moral standards - these people are not elite, they are clueless, pitiful and out of touch with reality.

A good bit more at the site. The title of the post is from here.

We wish...

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From Ziggy:

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He must have been channeling his inner Carly (previous post) - this nails it:

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Self-driving cars

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We should not forget that this is nothing new - July 23rd 2015 will be the 20th anniversary of a 2,849-mile trip from Washington, DC to  San Diego, CA.

From Robotics Trends:

Back to the Future: Autonomous Driving in 1995
For the past several years, self-driving cars have been prominently featured in mainstream media outlets. Great technology and future plans from organizations such as Stanford University, Google, various car manufacturers, and more recently Uber and Delphi, have been showcased. It is with great intellectual interest, pride, perspective, and a fair bit of humor that I have read about these recent “firsts” for autonomous vehicles.

Why? Because July 23, 2015, will be the 20th anniversary of “No Hands Across America,” the first long-duration field test of a self-driving car. I was fortunate to be part of the ragtag team from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute that built the car and was a passenger on the cross-country trip from Washington, D.C., to San Diego, Calif.

A bit more - about the vehicle:

Building the system for under $20k
We built the vehicle and software over about a four-month time frame for under $20,000. We had one computer, the equivalent of a 486DX2 (look that one up), a 640x480 color camera, a GPS receiver, and a fiber-optic gyro.

It’s funny to think that we didn’t use the GPS for position, but rather to determine speed. In those days, GPS Selective Availability was still on, meaning you couldn’t get high-accuracy positioning cheaply. And if you could, there were no maps to use it with! But, GPS speed was better than nothing, and it meant we didn’t have to wire anything to the car hardware, so we used it.

A lot more at the site - sounds like a fun project. They even got to meet Jay Leno.

Carly Fiorina gets it right

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Much to the dismay of some people  - from The Washington Times:

Carly Fiorina blames liberal environmentalists for Calif. water crisis
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and potential Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is blaming California’s water crisis on “liberal environmentalists” who are “willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology.”

“With different policies over the last 20 years, all of this could be avoided,” Ms. Fiorina said in an interview Monday on Glenn Beck’s radio show, The Blaze reported. “Despite the fact that California has suffered from droughts for millennia, liberal environmentalists have prevented the building of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades during a period in which California’s population has doubled.”

Ms. Fiorina said that as a result, 70 percent of California’s rainfall “washes out to sea” every year, The Blaze reported.

“California is a classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology. It is a tragedy,” Ms. Fiorina said.

Yeah - we won't build any dams but we will micro-manage other people's lives - a classic case of ideas so good they have to be mandatory...

Carlsbad

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We are at our campsite about 15 miles North of the Carlsbad Caverns and the town of Carlsbad

Temperature is in the 80's and the wind is blowing up to 20MPH with gusts to 30 (our site has a weather station).

Here for two nights and then on the road again.

Lots of LGMs around here - peeking around the corners at us as we drive by.

The truck is christened Thunderbunny and the trailer is Beautiful Dreamer. Thunderbunny clocked 10,000 miles this afternoon and we are a bit over 2,600 miles into our trip. Having a lot of fun!

On the road again

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Points South and then West and North

Fat and happy

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Spent the day soaking in the sun, got some ristras for home and the store and Lulu gave me a wonderful back, neck and scalp massage.

Cooked a big pot of spaghetti for dinner and sauce for several days of leftovers as we will be starting to push the driving a bit.

Grace has gotten into the rhythm of the road - we are all happy campers!

An earth shattering Ka-Boom

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Last Saturday, I had written:

I would guess at least 3,500 people were there at the time we were there with lots of cars leaving as we were driving in and lots more cars arriving as we were driving out. I would not be surprised if they had over 5,000 visitors today.

And the New York Times confirms:

Thousands Visit Trinity on Anniversary of Bomb Explosion
Thousands of visitors converged Saturday on the New Mexico site where the first nuclear bomb was detonated nearly 70 years ago.

More than 5,500 people attended the first of two tours being offered this year at the Trinity Site, White Sands Missile Range officials said.

Visitors came not just from all over New Mexico but the U.S. People are continually fascinated to see the place that literally marks a turning point in history, White Sands spokeswoman Erin Dorrance said.

"It brought a quick end to World War II, and it ushered in the atomic age," Dorrance said. "So out here in the middle of nowhere New Mexico changed the world 70 years ago."

It was July 16, 1945, when Los Alamos scientists successfully exploded the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site, located near Alamogordo.

The dawn of a new era - it is up to us to see how we manage the technology.

Insert LFTR propaganda here

Now this is going to be interesting

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I bet these people have not thought things through - the unintended consequences are going to bite them on their pasty white little butts.

From The Harvard Crimson (their student newspaper):

Graduate Students Start Movement To Unionize
In a move that could alter the working dynamic between Harvard and many of its teaching fellows and Ph.D. seekers, a group of graduate students has begun an effort to unionize, according to members of the movement.

Aaron T. Bekemeyer and Elaine F. Stranahan, graduate students involved in the unionization effort, said Friday that the movement is still in its early stages, but added that it counts members from all three divisions of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Bekemeyer and Stranahan did not share the number of participants with The Crimson.

The Harvard graduate students join peers at Yale in organizing to unionize. If the movement is successful, it could change the way graduate students interact with the University, according to members who envisioned a more centralized complaint system and suggested that a union could empower graduate students in negotiations with Harvard.

There are over 400 comments and these make for some interesting reading. These two caught my eye:

A farmer expects to find rocks in his field and therefore does not cry when he hits one. The farmer will clear the obstacle and move on. Anyone who chooses to go into the research field should know exactly what they’re signing up for when they chose that path. The rewards are plentiful after school and generations before yours have had to pay their dues in much the same way as you are paying them now, so just suck it up.

And:

Based on the history of unions I can't imagine anyone could logically conclude the unionization of grad students would result in a better educated grad student. History suggests standards will decline, quality will decline, and personal initiative and personal accomplishment based on merit will disappear leaving us with the equivalent of a bureaucracy of grad students who function at the same level as a state run Department of Motor Vehicles.

Unions very much had their place in American Labor but they failed to change with the times and are now obsolete. Workers are no longer replaceable cogs in a machine and they no longer need to have another entity negotiate salary and working conditions. The days of the one-factory town are over.

There is a reason why unions only represent 5% of the total workforce and this number is declining.

Off tomorrow

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Spending two nights at the Carlsbad Caverns with side trips to Roswell and Capitan - we will want to explore the cave as well a see the bats.

Next up, points west and north.

The previous one was using light - this one is using radio waves.

From the MIT Technology Review:

Metamaterial Radar May Improve Car and Drone Vision
Plenty of people play with small drone aircraft in their backyards these days. Tom Driscoll, cofounder and chief technology officer of a startup called Echodyne may be the only one whose quadcopter packs the kind of sophisticated radar used on fighter jets. “We flew it around, did some collision avoidance, and locked onto one of our engineers and followed him around my backyard,” says Driscoll.

Radar instruments that can be used that way are normally bulky and extremely expensive. Echodyne is working on a device that is compact and cheap enough to be used widely.

Radar systems work by sending out radio waves and using the echoes that bounce back to create an image of an object. Some radar systems use electronics to actively steer their outgoing radio waves, instead of just mechanically sweeping a beam in a fixed pattern. This lets them simultaneously scan the sky for objects and track specific ones with high accuracy. But the complex devices normally needed to steer radio waves around, known as phase shifters, make such electronically scanning radar expensive and bulky.

A bit more about the technology

The radar systems used by the military typically start at around $100,000, says Eben Frankenberg, CEO and another cofounder of Echodyne. He says his company hopes to mass produce compact radar systems that cost only hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Driscoll says that could make scanning radar become a standard sensor for vehicles and robots. Some prototype autonomous cars, including Google’s, use spinning laser sensors to watch the world around them in 3-D. That technique can map the world in very high resolution, but its range decreases in fog or snow. Radar doesn’t have that limitation, says Driscoll.

Echodyne also plans to offer its systems to the military, and to replace the radar already in use commercially: the spinning dishes seen on ferries and other boats that create simple maps by sweeping a beam around, for example, or the small fixed sensors in some cars that allow an adaptive cruise control system to keep a safe distance from the car ahead.

Potential gamechanger if the price is right.

Now this will be cool

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Currently in baby-steps mode but the potential will be major - from The Verge:

This new camera sensor could turn your phone into a 3D scanner
Let's say you want to 3D print a replica of an object in your home. The first step, of course, is capturing a detailed 3D scan — a process that's currently accomplished to varying degrees of accuracy with a desktop unit or more expensive and bulky professional models. But with a new "camera sensor" designed by CalTech researchers under electrical engineer Ali Hajimiri, you may one day be able to record a 3D scan with nothing other than your smartphone.

The tiny chip, called a nanophotonic coherent imager, uses a form of LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology to capture height, width, and depth information from each pixel. LIDAR, which shines a laser on the target and then analyzes the light waves that are reflected back to the sensor, are best known for their use in precision-guided missile systems and self-driving cars.

While LIDAR itself isn't new, Hajimiri explains that "by having an array of tiny LIDARs on our coherent imager, we can simultaneously image different parts of an object or a scene without the need for any mechanical movements within the imager." Each "pixel" on the new sensor can individually analyze the phase, frequency, and intensity of the reflected waves, producing a single piece of 3D data. The data from all of the pixels combined can produce a full 3D scan. In addition, the researchers' implementation allows for an incredibly tiny and low-cost scanner, all while maintaining accuracy. According to the researchers, the chip can produce scans that are within microns of the original.

Get this to a decent resolution and 3d imaging will get a lot cheaper.

Japan goes for nuclear power

Great interview from The Japan Times:

Global warming more dangerous than N-plants
Jeffrey Sachs, a U.S. economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has published a new book titled “The Age of Sustainable Development” as part of his long-running commitment to exploring such worldwide problems as poverty and global warming.

During a recent visit to Japan, Sachs spoke to The Yomiuri Shimbun about what it would take to achieve sustainable development. The following are excerpts from the interview:

The Yomiuri Shimbun: What is sustainable development?

Jeffrey Sachs: It means society should have a holistic approach that combines economic, social and environmental objectives. Our economic success has been very real during the past generation. The world society has not paid enough attention to social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

And the money quote:

Q: Nuclear power has various risks, but threats of climate change are much more serious?

A: That is exactly right. Climate change’s danger is great. What scientists tell us is that by the end of this century, if we don’t take strong measures, the Earth’s climate will change to be in a condition unlike anything that humanity has ever experienced — with many more extreme events, with much hotter temperatures, with much more frequency of typhoons, droughts, floods and with the risks of very significant rise of sea levels — which could create catastrophes of many of the world’s greatest cities.

And if opponents of nuclear power say nuclear power should not be used, they have the responsibility to show the alternative. Germany is closing down its nuclear power, but it’s burning more U.S. coal exported to Germany. And I find that really unacceptable. It’s bad not only for Germany but for the world.

And in China, people are suffering massive lung disease and premature death from all the air pollution coming from coal plants. A scientist estimated that more than one million people have died as a result of coal-fired power plants, whereas with nuclear plants, the number of deaths has been very small.

Speaking truth to power. Now if he could just wake up to the realities of anthropogenic global warming (very overstated - CO2 is our friend, not our enemy) and get familiar with the LFTR reactor technologies (link to five minute YouTube presentation), he would be in a much better place.

A day of Rest

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Lulu and I are spending today doing laundry, unpacking, cleaning and repacking the truck and trailer. I will be doing a big batch of spaghetti sauce for dinner while we are doing our next big push of driving.

Spending one more night in ABQ and then heading to points South and East.

Photos from today

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A small picdump from today:

20150405-petro-01.jpgSome of the glyphs have a square border element in them - these seem to be maps with references to mountains, stars and directional arrows. Just our theory but...

20150405-petro-02.jpgThis is a macaw - there was a lot of trade from Central America and the birds (and their feathers) were of great value.

20150405-petro-03.jpgThis little guy was growing out of a crack in a basalt rock. Pure freakin' tenacity.

20150405-petro-04.jpgMr. Party Animal. I have had days like this...

20150405-sandia-01.jpgThe Wizard - saw this figure as we were ascending on the cable car. Hat, face with beard and arms clasped in front of the robe.

20150405-sandia-02.jpgUs on top of the world...

20150405-sandia-03.jpgDaniel

Today was a lot of fun - there was a group raising funds for kids with cancer. They held a pancake breakfast this morning and the meeting hall at the trailer park was about 70% full and we were early.

Went out to the petroglyph site. This was a major trade route from the Central Americas up through the midwest. The glyphs were calling cards from groups passing through. Some were very representative and some were just surreal.

The tram ride was a lot of fun - for the last third of the ride, we were well over 1,000 feet over the valley floor. It was a great reassurance to see that the tram had been built by a Swiss company.

At the summit, we had a delightful conversation with Daniel who blogs at Predictably Lost - he was just coming off of a major long-distance hike. More at his blog.

My parents and I traveled through Europe when I was young (40+ years ago) and at that time, the Italians were having some engineering problems with their cable cars. The comment then was that when a cable no longer passes Swiss standards, they sell it to the French. When the cable no longer passes French standards, they sell it to the Italians. I am sure that everything is up to snuff these days, still...

After that, we went by a local REI store - Lulu got some hiking shoes and we both got new trekking poles. I could not find mine at home but that is another story...

Finally, one of the clerks at REI told us where the Whole Foods store was - normally, I do not buy into their overpriced hype but they do have a good meat market and we snagged a couple steaks and grilled them for dinner. Salad, nuked a couple spuds and finished them off on the grill. It is cliché to say that everything tastes better when it is cooked and eaten outdoors but this was certainly true tonight.

We are going to extend our stay one more day - laundry plus unpack, clean and repack the truck and the trailer - now named Beautiful Dreamer. Still need to name the truck. I had an old station wagon that I named Thunderbunny and I might re-use that name - it fits.

Needless to say, many pictures were taken and a few will be posted later tonight. Processing them and doing a double backup (one hard drive in the truck and one in the trailer).

Last day in Albuquerque

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Final day here - fun city and gorgeous location. Doing laundry and also taking the tram and visiting the petroglyphs.

Heading out tomorrow to points East: Capitan (visiting Smokey) and Roswell (and the Goddard Museum) and then South to the Carlsbad Caverns.

Who said what - the Iran deal

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I didn't doubt this for a second - from the New York Post:

Iran’s Persian statement on ‘deal’ contradicts Obama’s claims
“Iran Agrees to Detailed Nuclear Outline,” The New York Times headline claimed on Friday. That found an echo in the Washington Post headline of the same day: “Iran agrees to nuclear restrictions in framework deal with world powers.”

But the first thing to know about the highly hyped “historic achievement” that President Obama is trying to sell is that there has been no agreement on any of the fundamental issues that led to international concern about Iran’s secret nuclear activities and led to six mandatory resolutions by the United Nations Security Council and 13 years of diplomatic seesaw.

All we have is a number of contradictory statements by various participants in the latest round of talks in Switzerland, which together amount to a diplomatic dog’s dinner.

More at the site. The word is that Barry wants this to be his crowning achievement. Just goes to show how out of touch with reality he is. The Iranians are playing him for a fool.

A couple of photos from today

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Got a bunch of good ones - here are a few:

20150404-trinity-01.jpgHere is Lulu at the Obelisk - God divided by zero 100 feet overhead.

20150404-trinity-02.jpgTraffic - the line was about 2.5 miles long at this point - you can see the cars in the distance as they curve to the left.

20150404-vla-01.jpgOne of the VLA dishes close up - 82 feet in diameter.

20150404-vla-02.jpgThe entrance to the Observatory

20150404-vla-03.jpgSome of the 27 dishes - they are moved from place to place by railroad tracks and a special hauler. They are then set on pedestals for long-term positioning.

One of the reasons that this particular site was chosen is that this is an old lake bed and the ground is perfectly level.

A bit of a long day

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Drove just over 400 miles today - Trinity Site and then the Very Large Array.

Processing the photos now and will get some up in an hour or two - got to back them up twice first.

Trinity Site was packed - I would guess at least 3,500 people were there at the time we were there with lots of cars leaving as we were driving in and lots more cars arriving as we were driving out. I would not be surprised if they had over 5,000 visitors today. Lots of different people - saw an older blind gentleman being led around by a friend - did he work on the project? It would be fun to have a booth out of the wind and dust and interview people coming to visit.

My socks are now emitting Alpha particles as I type.

The light was poor and the sky was very blah so I did not take any timelapse movies. Too many people at Trinity anyway.

The Very Large Array was spectacular - you see the photos and in movies but it does not prepare you for the real thing. We were unable to go behind the scenes as they were observing - so many people want to use the array that time is very precious. The Director of the Array was talking with people and telling Jodie Foster anecdotes and bits from Contact. The scene where some school children were visiting was filmed with members of the local grade school. The kid that is precocious and asking all the questions is now that town's mayor.

Our trip is now solidly over 2,000 miles and today (Saturday) marks the seventh day on the road. We will be spending tonight and Sunday night in Albuquerque and then, points south - Carlsbad Cavern, Roswell, Capitan and then head West.

Off to see the Wizard

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Up at O-dark-30, showered and fixing breakfast.

Got a two hour drive and we will be standing on a spot where history happened.

I had mentioned before that my Dad was a Physicist and my Mom was a Nuclear Chemist so this culture has been a part of me since I was born.

Seeing the Very Large Array will be a lot of fun as well.

Not an optimal lunar eclipse from where we are - not at home either, unless you feel like waking up at three in the morning for a very short totality of a setting moon.

Full details from Sky and Telescope - I think I will sleep this one out. It would have been fun to video but I will wait for a better one...

Saturday Morning’s Total Lunar Eclipse
An unusually brief total eclipse of the Moon will be visible before dawn this Saturday, April 4th, from western North America. The eclipse happens on Saturday evening for Australia and East Asia.

The total eclipse of the Moon on Saturday, April 4th, will be the third in the current "tetrad" of four in a row at half-year intervals.

As was the case last October 8th, this lunar eclipse favors westerners in the U.S. and Canada. And once again many will need to look low in the west as dawn brightens — lower, in fact, than last time.

But in another way this time will be different. This eclipse will be just barely total — in fact, you may get the impression that it never becomes quite total at all. The Moon's north-northeastern limb squeaks so slightly inside the umbra (dark inner portion) of Earth's shadow that it will remain much brighter than the deep red we can expect across the rest of the Moon's face.

From Mental Floss:

Why Do We Eat Chocolate Bunnies at Easter?
As far as holidays go, Easter is second only to Halloween in American candy sales—that’s a lot of chocolate bunnies.

Easter—the most spiritually significant holiday of the Christian calendar—has always been heavily associated with symbolic foods, from lambs to egg-rich celebratory breads. Rabbits, however, are not mentioned in the scriptures that recount Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. And chocolate, a New World food, was not even accessible to the masses until the mid-1800s. So how did chocolate bunnies come to dominate the Easter basket scene? It’s a thoroughly modern mash-up of commerce, confectionery, and immigration.

The observance of Easter includes some elements adapted from pagan traditions celebrating cycles of new life in the springtime, and one of those is the rabbit, an animal known for its crazy-high fertility. “Although adopted in a number of Christian cultures, the Easter bunny has never received any specific Christian interpretation,” says the Encyclopedia of Religion.

Ostara, the Germanic pre-Christian fertility goddess, apparently kept a hare as a sidekick. The word for “Easter” (Ostern, in German) is derived from her name, and her namesake festival was held around the month we now call April. Germans came to embrace the fictional character Oschter Haws (or osterhause), a rabbit who delivered eggs to children at Easter. Supposedly, the first recorded mention of osterhause was in the medical notes of a Heidelberg physician in 1684 (he discusses the drawbacks of overeating Easter eggs). 

Much more at the site - an interesting bit of history...

Good nap

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We both slept for almost two hours - being on vacation is not for the weak or timid!

Bagged the idea of further shopping or buying a steak to grill and just had the last of some fresh fruit and a couple inches of a salami and a glass of wine. Our trailer camp has picnic tables outside and it was quite pleasant.

Time to surf for a bit and then to bed - long day ahead of us tomorrow. Got the camera equipment together and packed in the truck - planning a couple time-lapse sequences at Trinity and the VLA.

Maybe do a Sunday Mass but we are too tired to get out tonight...

Siesta time - a photo dump

The nuke museum was really well done - surprised both of us. As we were leaving, I realized that it is sitting next door to one of Sandia's office parks and a half-mile from Kirtland Air Force Base so there is probably a connection there.

As we were driving to OldTown, we saw a Costco and stopped in. They had a huge display of Aloha shirts from a Honolulu company but nothing Southwest. I was hoping for an Aloha shirt with some Southwestern design - kokopeli or something. Nope...

Old Town Albuquerque was pretty but very much of a tourist trap. Very overpriced. We did split two excellent tamales at the Church Street Cafe.

Here are some photos from yesterday's stop at Trinidad, Colorado and today's stop in Old Town:

20150403-trinidad-03.jpg

The old brewery

20150403-trinidad-02.jpg

Most of the town was paved with bricks - the bricks had the town name molded in

20150403-trinidad-01.jpg

Architectural detail - the buildings were gorgeous.

20150403-oldtown-01.jpg

The San Felipe de Neri church

20150403-oldtown-02.jpg

Architectural detail

20150403-oldtown-04.jpg

Lots of nice blacksmith work...

Our alarm is set for 6:30AM tomorrow for our trip down to Trinity Site and the Large Array Radio Telescope.

Going to curl up next to Lulu for an hour nap. Next up, REI and finding some decent steak to grill on our barbeque...

The Iran deal - a two-fer

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First - from the Washington, DC CBS affiliate:

Obama: Tentative Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Best Option’ For Israel
President Barack Obama says that every path Iran had to develop a nuclear weapon will be cut off after a tentative nuclear deal was reached.

On Thursday, the United States, Iran and five other world powers announced an understanding outlining limits on Iran’s nuclear program so it cannot lead to atomic weapons, directing negotiators toward achieving a comprehensive agreement within three months.

“It is a good deal — a deal that meets our core objectives. This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon,” Obama told reporters. “Iran will face strict limitations on its program and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.”

Second - from Yahoo/Agence France Presse

Joyful Iranians dance into night after nuclear breakthrough
Hundreds of Iranians took to the streets in Tehran early Friday to celebrate a breakthrough in talks with the West that may end the country's 12-year-long nuclear crisis.

The capital's longest street, Val-e-Asr Avenue, was lined with cars as drivers sounded their horns in approval of a framework deal intended to lead to a comprehensive agreement with world powers in June.

"Whatever the final result of the negotiations, we are winners," 30-year-old Behrang Alavi said on Val-e-Asr at around 1:00 am as the noise reverberated around him.

They won big-time - we conceded everything to them and they yielded nothing. No wonder there is dancing in the streets... Kerry is this generations Neville Chamberlain.

A lazy day in Albuquerque

Lulu is washing her hair, I am finishing breakfast and we will head out for Starbucks and then, the Nuclear Museum.

Lunch in Old Town, a bit of shopping at REI (Lulu needs some trekking poles and some decent hiking shoes), Costco (most Costco stores stock fascinating regional items - the best place for Hawaiian shirts for example is in the Kauaii Costco), find an RV store (wheel chocks and a hitch lock), etc...

Galleries, Museums, Oh My!

Dinner and then we will try to find a Church for Good Friday evening Mass.

Gorgeous clear weather.

Back from dinner

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This place - Papa Felipe's Mexican Restaurant - was really good. It had been recommended to us and the recommendation was well founded.

Spending tomorrow in old town - I picked up a couple of guidebooks on Photographing the Southwest and they had some suggestions for places to visit in and around Albuquerque. Saturday will be the last scheduled part of our trip until the 23rd for the blacksmith conference.

Lulu and I are already talking about a 2016 fall foliage tour starting in Colorado and following the colors up through Alberta.

Gone to ground in Albuquerque, New Mexico

With a day to spare no less - spending Friday poking around and then get up good and early Saturday and drive down to Socorro and Trinity Site.

Since we were ahead of schedule, we spent some time exploring a couple small towns. Trinidad, Colorado is drop-dead gorgeous. It was quite the booming mining town and featured a large theater as well as an opera house. The majority of the town dates from the 1890's - there is a gorgeous Catholic Church dating from that era as well as a defunct brewery and a lot of old houses. I took a bunch of photos and will post them later today or tomorrow.

We also got off the road and visited Las Vegas but were very disappointed. Elvis was nowhere to be seen and we could not find any of the hotels or casinos... Oops - wrong Vegas. Las Vegas New Mexico was in a very sad state of decay with junkies hanging out in the town square and no police to be seen anywhere. It started out as being a major railroad terminus and the old station was gorgeous and being restored - maybe there is hope for the place yet...

Had a late lunch and heading out for some Mexican food in a little bit.

A small change in plans

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Lulu was Googling our route and saw that Albuquerque was 200 miles from Trinity Site and if we got on the road at our usual 7:00AM, we could be there in two hours. That makes two hours on site, drive for one hour and still have a couple hours at the Very Large Array.

Makes perfect sense as the RV parks in Socorro look pretty grim from the online reviews.

This makes today's drive much shorter as well...

Day five - off to see the wizard

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Another 400 some miles and we will be in Socorro, New Mexico and the end of a long chunk of driving.

Spending Friday camping out and Saturday visiting Trinity Site and the Very Large Array (ever see Contact? (great movie!)).

Now this should be interesting - from The Belingham Herald:

Trinity Test site opening to face protest from residents
Seven decades after an atomic bomb helped end World War II, descendants of families near a New Mexico test want tourists to know residents suffered for years afterward and some of their children may have been affected.

Hundreds of visitors are expected Saturday to visit the Trinity Test site as federal officials open up the historic grounds for a rare opportunity for tourists to view the site of the world's first atomic blast. The site typically opens for a few hours for at least once a year.

But as the 70th anniversary of test approaches, residents are pressing for acknowledgement and compensation. They say the test caused long-term health problems, including rare forms of cancer, for many Hispanic, white and Native American ranching families living in the area at the time.

Sorry to be crass but Well, Excuuuuuuse me!

The affected families were very well compensated for any loss - this moke is dredging up a moment of history and using it for personal publicity/gain.

Situational awareness

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This is only derived from a sample size of four but...

#1) - All four campsites had residential management.

#2) - Two of the campsites had secured bathrooms and showers - you needed a combination to enter;

#3) - the other two sites did not.

#4) - Why would you feel secure camping at a site where the bathrooms had to be maintained in a state of lockdown.

There are, of course, some caveats - the cost of insurance, the philosophies of the site managers, etc... but if the zombie hordes are not able to take a pee, where are they going to turn next?  Hmmmm???

Published today at American Digest:

Obama Resigns

20150401-ObamaResigns.jpg

Early morning television viewers were surprised to find their programs interrupted for an emergency announcement, during which the ashen-faced and possibly drug-fueled president spoke in rambling, frequently cryptic sentence fragments about "the sweet, sweet call to prayer," "dog-flavored shave ice," the merits of Titleist golf balls and, most puzzlingly, his declaration that "Mike is done pretending to be Michelle." He then told America to go (and we paraphrase here) fornicate itself, and capped his brief resignation with "Allah Akbar - I'm out of here, suckers!"

In a scene reminiscent of America's departure from Vietnam, Obama scrambled aboard a George Soros-owned helicopter hovering just about the White House roof. Newly appointed President Biden celebrated his unexpected promotion by rushing onto the White House balcony in his pajamas and firing a shotgun into the sky, before being tackled and disappearing under a pile of Secret Service agents. Sadly, the shotgun blast was thought to have done only minor damage to Mr. Obama's helicopter.

Wishing that Joe had better aim...

Talking about events in April

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This has always been a favorite of mine - from the Beeb - 1957:

From the CERN Website:

20150401-force.jpg

CERN researchers confirm existence of the Force
Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider just recently started testing the accelerator for running at the higher energy of 13 TeV, and already they have found new insights into the fundamental structure of the universe. Though four fundamental forces  – the strong force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force and gravity – have been well documented and confirmed in experiments over the years, CERN announced today the first unequivocal evidence for the Force. “Very impressive, this result is,” said a diminutive green spokesperson for the laboratory.

“The Force is what gives a particle physicist his powers,” said CERN theorist Ben Kenobi of the University of Mos Eisley, Tatooine. “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us; and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

Though researchers are as yet unsure what exactly causes the Force, students and professors at the laboratory have already started to harness its power. Practical applications so far include long-distance communication, influencing minds, and lifting heavy things out of swamps.

Kenobi says he first started teaching the ways of the Force to a young lady who was having trouble revising for her particle-physics exams. "She said that I was her only hope," says Kenobi. "So I just kinda took it from there. I designed an experiment to detect the Force, and passed on my knowledge."

Great news for this first of April.

After dinner

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We never got around to the strawberries - the salad turned out great and we are stuffed.

Got quite the front moving in - saw it coming into Pueblo and it is about an hour away. Black clouds and the wind direction shifted from coming out of the west to coming out of the north - typical cyclonic flow.

Lulu mentions that we are in a trailer, camped out in a trailer park. Pray for our souls!

It was funny driving into Pueblo - I saw what I thought was a steel mill (grew up in Pittsburgh, PA) and they were - the old Colorado Fuel and Iron now known as EVRAZ Pueblo.

We reached Colorado Springs in the very early afternoon and decided to hit the next big city after Denver. We are now a few miles (relatively) away from the New Mexico border and looking to hit Socorro tomorrow sometime.

Getting up early these days, getting on the road and making all the food from our kitchen. Visiting a local coffee house can be a fun experience (and some damned good coffee too) but a stop like that can take a full hour off our driving time.

Lulu has settled into the role of navigator and I am the pilot. Having a blast and this is only day four.

The trailer is set up, Lulu has dinner ready (some cold salad with chicken breast and strawberries for desert).

More posting later!

April 1st - Think Geek products

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Online store ThinkGeek always comes up with some amazing products right around this time of year.

This one caught my eye: Steam-Powered Gaming Cabinet

Now you're playing with steam!
Steam is one of the best ways to find and play video games - especially if you like playing with a vibrant community of players. We love Steam. We love Steam so much, we had to be one of the companies who developed our own Steam Machine. But we wanted to make sure that our console was something special - something different. We sent a missive to Captain Jules (our favorite Time Pirate) and he found us the perfect configuration for our Steam Machine. Presenting the Steam-Powered Gaming Cabinet!

The Steam-Powered Gaming Cabinet is a Video game console that is literally a steam machine. That is, it is steam powered! Using a patent-pending miniature boiler mechanism, a stationary steam engine produces all the electricity you need to play your games. Of course you’ll need to keep a close eye on the boiler pressure, stoke the fire, grease all internal lubrication points, and properly rectify the output voltage, but isn’t the enjoyment you’ll receive worth it? Included is one wired Steam-Powered Gaming Cabinet controller - itself a work of steampunk art. With many tweaks and lights and valves (get it?), the Steam-Powered Gaming Cabinet is the Steam Machine to rule them all. Plus, if you have an alternate power source for your television and internet, the Steam-Powered Gaming Cabinet will keep you gaming even if the electricity goes out! Talk about gaming off the grid.

20150401-thinkgeek.gif

Day four

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Getting into the rhythm of the road - looking to do another 400+ miles today from Rock Springs, Wyoming to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Crossing over the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Lulu is out taking a shower and we will fix breakfast soon. The winds were quite intense last night - as I said, I have spent a lot of time in small boats and it was just like an evening at anchor. Lulu didn't sleep that well but it was mothers milk to me.

Checked the Wyoming Dept. of Trans. website and the roads ahead are dry and clear. Our little trailer is as snug as a bug, very comfortable.

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