Apr 17

Mac OS 10.8.5 bash root path

Category: Tech-y

In the case of logging in as a normal user and invoking “su – root” I found that Mac OS 10.8.5′s bash was ignoring .profile and .bash_profile; I was unable to change root’s $PATH by editing those files. What did work was editing /etc/paths. After exiting the root shell and entering again with “su – root” the new path was present.

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Mar 14

Grand Falls

Category: Arizona

Today I went on another visit to a favorite place – Grand Falls.  It lies on the Navajo reservation east of Flagstaff, where the little Colorado river was dammed in antiquity by lava from a nearby cinder cone. The lava dam forced the river to re-route and spill back over the side of its own gorge further downstream, creating a spectacular waterfall.  Arizona climate being what it is, the river’s water level differs radically depending upon the season, so if you want to see a thundering cataract, check the water flow before going.  It’s generally decent if the flow above and below the falls are greater than 150 CFM.

Here are instructions for how to check on the water flow, from Joel Hazelton on hikearizona.com:

Go to this link: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/current/?type=flow

Scroll down to “Little Colorado River Basin”, and under that you want to look for “Little Colorado River at Winslow, AZ” and “Little Colorado River at Cameron, AZ.” All the way to the right side of the page there should be 3 columns with numbers in them. The center column represents the cubic feet per second. You’ll want to check the cubic feet per second for both of those locations.

Today (7/20), it is flowing at 3.9 cfs through Winslow. In order for there to be a good show of water, it should be flowing at several HUNDRED CFS through both Winslow AND Cameron. Sometimes, after storms or snowmelt, Winslow will be flowing well but not yet at Cameron. It should be flowing well at both gauges, since Grand Falls is between the two towns. There’s always a chance, especially if it is a slower flood during spring snowmelt, that the high water has made it to Winslow but not quite to the falls.

On this day, the flow was a little less than 200 CFM above and below, and it looked pretty good – not as good as I’ve seen in the past, but very impressive. The company was excellent – my friend Juanita, a fellow Flagstaff Freethinker, and my dog Tycho.

Directions: A 4WD or AWD, medium/high clearance vehicle is preferred, but if the weather is good, a car can make it back there – but I wouldn’t do it in a car. To get there from Flagstaff, 40 East to Exit 211(Townsend Winona road) and turn left. In about 2 miles, turn Right onto Leupp Rd. Drive until you are on the Rez (there will be a sign on the right welcoming you to the Navajo Reservation).  Between mile markers 5 and 6, look for road 6910 on the left.  It’s just a washboard dirt road; drive about 9 miles or until you hit the river, where you can stop and park.  Walk up the mound and towards the little shelters.You can also drive right to the gorge by backtracking a few hundred yards and going up the small hill.

The view back towards the peaks is wonderful.

Things were just beginning to bloom:

The upper falls was flowing pretty well, so we knew it would be good when we got to the chasm. One of things I really like about these falls is that if you haven’t seen them before, until you get right up on them, you have no idea how cool it will be.

You can see how the red sandstone is capped with black lava that dripped over the edge.  When in the gorge, the northeast wall is sandstone, and the other wall is black lava that is very crystalline and looks like dark bricks. The volume of lava is very impressive. I read somewhere that it might have come from Merriam crater, which is a few miles away.

The river collects a lot of trash on its trip, and the currents at the falls create a garbage gyre of impressive size.

Tycho was losing his mind because of all the balls: basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, beach balls, super bouncy balls, you name it – it was there.

On the way back to the car, a small dog was barking plaintively from an island in the middle of the upper falls.  It looks afraid and lost, but i didn’t know what to do about it.  Suddenly a larger dog burst out of the bushes, swam across the river, and led the small dog back to shore!  When we got back to the car, they were underneath. These feral animals were not violent, but they were afraid.  I could tell they were sweet and lured them out with treats.  I think it was a mother and her juvenile pup. They seemed to desire human company but were incredibly skittish.  Every time I raised my camera, they crawled under the car. When we left, they ran after us for about half a mile.  It broke my heart to leave them there!  But they didn’t look emaciated; they are getting by somehow.  I don’t know if they belong to some ranch out there, but from their reaction to us, I rather doubt it.


Feb 15

A brief hike on the Hangover trail in Sedona

Category: Uncategorized

We (A bunch of people from the Flagstaff Freethinkers) had decided to enjoy the sights of Schnebly Hill Road, but found it closed for the season – a silly bureaucratic event, given the long-standing warm temperatures and lack of snow in the area.  So we went to plan B and did a short out-and-back on the Hangover trail instead.  This trail wanders through the scrub north of Schnebly Holl Road and goes up and over one of the red rock formations for which Sedona is so famous, providing a great overview of Steamboat rock and route 89 which sits in between the trail and that rock. The trail is a loop, but lacking time, we didn’t do the entire thing.

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Feb 11

multi-hop ssh

Category: Tech-y

At work I routinely have to ssh from host A to host B and then to host C.  It is not possible to establish a direct link from A to C, so I’ve been manually establishing a connection from one to the other, which is annoying.  Today I finally got around to setting up a better solution, which depends on having a unix-like system on all nodes. Host A is running Windows with cygwin, and hosts B and C are running Mac OS and Linux. Another assumption is that you have the same user name on all nodes, although there are ways to get around it if you don’t.

1) Add these lines to ~/.ssh/config (which you may have to create).

 Host hostC.domain.edu hostC
        ProxyCommand ssh hostB -W %h:%p

Now, when I type “ssh hostC” on my PC, it hops through hostB and logs into hostC automatically with no further typing.

What is happening is that when you ssh to hostC, ssh substitutes another command for /bin/sh on hostB (which is normally executed by default), and forwards stdin and stdout to this new command (that’s what the –W is for), which is an ssh to rsndds. The effect is to hop through hostB. Because I’ve set up keys without pass phrases on all machines, no password is required. If you don’t have keys set up, it will still work, but will ask for passwords.

If you want to use pass phrases, you can use ssh-agent on hostA and hostB, which will ask only once and then store the keys in memory until the next reset of ssh-agent (probably a reboot).

If you have a different user name on hostB, simply specify it like this:

Host hostC.domain.edu hostC
        ProxyCommand ssh user@hostB -W %h:%p

You can create as many of these special entries in your config file as you wish, each specifying special rules for creating connections to your unique networks. Isn’t ssh cool?

When I started figuring out how to do this, I thought of it as “tunneling,” but technically that’s probably not correct; that name is given to using ssh for encrypted port forwarding.  Nevertheless, you can think of it as a tunnel, allowing you to ssh from one machine to another using an intermediate machine, all without your intervention.

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Jan 12

The San Francisco Volcanic Field

Category: Uncategorized

I love the arid, desolate area north of the San Francisco Peaks.  It’s a high desert environment pocked with volcanic cinder cones of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Many kinds of animals and plants can be fond here, but one thing I don’t usually find is other people.  This is a place where you can spend hours or days on your own, surrounded by spectacular views on all sides.

Here is Tycho after we summited the crater just to the northeast of SP crater, which is in the background on the right. The long winds blew up from the painted desert, keeping the winter storm away for the most part. These craters on on the west side of 89, across from Wupatki. You can tell that Tycho has been mole or prairie-dog hunting.


These photos are from a few hikes taken last weekend with my Flagstaff Freethinker buddies. This is strawberry crater, which has some Anasazi ruins on top. It’s not a particularly difficult or long hike, although the forest road that leads to its base can be rough, specially in inclement weather. Strawberry crater is on the east side of 89, just south of Wupatki.

Tycho tracks.

The endless scrubby terrain inhabited by people since before antiquity.

In the distance, the sun punches through to brilliantly illuminate the Vermilion Cliffs.

The lesser peak of Strawberry crater.






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Dec 6

Thanksgiving 2014

Category: Family

This Thanksgiving I certainly do have a lot to be thankful for.  A beautiful family of recent emergence, and great old friends who are my rock.  I got to visit them both in a 1700-mile circuit from Flagstaff to the Denver area and back. There are too many pictures to feature them all, but here’s a few good ones, followed by the lot.

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Nov 7

Oahu 2014

Category: Hawaii,scuba,Travel

On the tail end of a work trip to Hawaii, I tacked on a few days for myself.  The goal: scuba diving.  There’s a lot of things to do on Oahu, and it’s hard to make a choice, but I focused almost entirely on diving.  Still, I have pictures from around the island – it’s so beautiful, I just can’t help myself.

One of the things I love about flying to Hawaii is how no matter what time it is, you can go to the beach, and that’s always what I do.  Nothing washes away the combined filth and exhaustion of air travel like the ocean. Here’s some scenes from Waikiki:

On another day I wandered around Kakaako beach park, which has a lot of stray cats (and stray people):


Here’s some random images of the shoreline on the east side:

Here’s one from the north shore, where a 40-knot wind fueled perfect, mach-1 windsurfing:

…and finally, of course, the diving! I was having camera problems, so my color balance and image quality were all messed up.

Here’s the outflow pipes at electric beach, which I dived with new friends Zack, Heather and Daniel.

Clouds of fish in the warm outflow.

From another dive, some crappy pictures of sharks… I was playing with a new camera and didn’t do very well.

Some other reef scenes:


…and a lot of other images you can look through if you are so inclined.

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Oct 27

Antelope canyon exploration

Category: Arizona

Recently I attended a meetup Kayak/Hike trip to lower Antelope canyon arranged by local Flagstaffian Kyle.  He did a great job and there were a lot of cool people on the trip.  Here is a brief description of what we did:

Start at Antelope Marina and kayak to the beginning of the canyon via the Colorado River. Kayak through the upper canyon until you are beached at the trailhead of Antelope Canyon. From here we will hike until the canyon ends. Afterwards we will kayak back to the marina.

As we got further and further along, the canyon became more twisted and beautiful. A narrow twisting slot emptied us out into a fork; we went left. This eventually led us to a series of wet troughs filled with opaque water; there was no telling if they were 2 inches or 6 feet deep until we waded into them.  Several of them were neck-deep or worse, and at one point we encountered a slippery wall requiring a rope. We turned around after encountering a second such wall and deciding that although we could climb it, we didn’t have enough time. The red rock, shadowy canyon depths, spectacular sandstone formations, and the total silence of the slot canyon’s depths create a breathtaking experience.

To do this properly, we’d need to stay in Page and start early.  Next time…




Oct 26

Hart Prairie Hummingbord Moths

Category: animals,Arizona

Here’s a post from another visit to Hart Prairie.  A group of friends watched the sunset and enjoyed one another’s company. It’s things like this that really make me love where I live: beautiful surroundings and great people. The most salient feature of this visit were all of the hummingbird moths who were making the most of the late fall flowers. They are enormous plump moths with cute faces.


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Oct 26

Picnic at Hart Prairie

Category: Arizona

A little while ago, I picnicked with some friends at Hart Prairie.  The weather was perfect and it was classic Northern Arizona: incredible beauty accessible in only a few minutes. Grown-ups, kids, and dogs were all satisfied.

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