Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

A brief hike on the Hangover trail in Sedona

February 15th, 2015 | 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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The San Francisco Volcanic Field

January 12th, 2015 | 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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Pennsylvania countryside

September 23rd, 2013 | Category: Travel,Uncategorized

Just before taking off for home, I stopped by to visit with my sister in Pennsylvania again, and we got out for a quick walk through the countryside (on a Land Conservancy property near Newtown Square).

Then it was off for another flight across the country.

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A Day Sail on the Gazela

September 14th, 2013 | Category: Gazela,Travel,Uncategorized

On the east coast for business, once again I made sure to roll through Philly to visit with family. For me, “family” includes the Gazela, a ship on which I have been crew for nearly 20 years. I usually don’t get to sail any more, living so far away, but today was special. We conducted a practice sail between the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges.  It was a delightful afternoon, with a fine breeze perfect for sailing, not too much river traffic, and lots of sun.

We motored out into the enormous Delaware, but soon raised some jibs.  That’s the battleship “New Jersey” in the background.

Next we raised the lower and upper main square sails.

In the next image it looks like we’re standing on the yard (large wooden horizontal mast-like wood) at bottom, but that is an illusion.  In actuality, crew stands on the footrope – the unoccupied lower main topsail yard’s footrope, a heavy black line, can be seen at the bottom of this picture.

In unison, we lean forward – throwing our feet back as our bellies form a pivot point on top of the yard – and grab a “flake” (fold) of sail. We haul it up, lean backwards – and, holding on to the sail, which is what prevents us from falling – stand upright, then fold the flake on to the top of the yard. Leaning on the folded flake with our bellies, this operation is performed multiple times until the entire sail has been hauled up and folded, accordion-style, on top of the yard, at which point it’s tied with short ropes named “gaskets.”

Here is a rare image with me actually in it.  We’re furling the jibs – sails attached to the boom, or mast that points from the bow (front) end of the ship. It’s one of my favorite places, because you can watch water part around the bow while the ship moves through the water, and at sea, sometimes there are dolphins or pilot whales (which are like big black dolphins) playing in the bow wave.

The Philadelphia skyline seen from mid-river.  If you enlarge this image you can see a tall ship named “Moshulu” which used to haul grain around the horn.  In fact, it was the last wind-powered ship to commercially travel between Europe and Australia, as well as the orient and the US, and several books were written about it.  Now it doesn’t sail; its rigging is nice-looking but for show only, and it is a fancy restaurant that never moves.  But I love that Philadelphia has this amazing ship.  To its right, which a white hull and saffron superstructure, is the Olympia, the original gunboat of the phrase “gunboat diplomacy.” It is the ship from which Admiral Dewey said the famous line “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley,” which launched the crucial naval battle of the Spanish-American war.  Harder to see in this picture in the Becuna, a decorated WWII submarine.  Across the river in Camden, NJ, and shown in another picture in this post, is the WWII battleship New Jersey.

Since there are so many other historic vessels I should mention that the Gazela may be the oldest wooden sailing vessel afloat in the US, and one of the oldest in the world.  Built in Portugal in1883 (although extensively refitted in 1901), she is still sailed up and down the east coast, not as a pleasure vessel, but as a living school to preserve the skills of the era of sail.

I’ve included a variety of images in the gallery below; click to enlarge.

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Blue Ridge Overnight Trip

July 22nd, 2013 | Category: animals,Arizona,Uncategorized

Me & a few Flagstaff friends whipped up a quick car-camping trip to the Blue Ridge reservoir. Incredibly, on a Saturday afternoon there was a single spot open at the Rock Crossing campground, although if it had been full, we could easily have camped nearby in the woods, which is permitted west of the campground.  There is also another nearby place, the Blue Ridge campground. We ate great camp food, had a nice fire, woke up early and went kayaking. It poured on us during the evening, but we were ready, and stayed cozy, playing games and talking.The dogs were afraid though, poor things.

For my friends that don’t know about this part of Arizona, here is what it looks like: no cactus here! The water echoed with the cries of Osprey and herons; duck hens led flotillas of hyper-kinetic chicks and trout jumped out of the water to catch dragonflies.  We paddled down the narrow reservoir for a couple of miles, surveying camping spots for next time.

On the way home, I stopped to take pictures of the infinite field of flowers south of Mormon lake, which has a great view of the San Francisco peaks. There was an infinite number of grasshoppers to go along with the flowers, and also there were clouds of butterflies and harmless bees. The weather was gentle, the wind slow, and there was almost no sound except distant thunder. It was like a scene in a movie where a character goes to heaven.

The dog was overjoyed.  I knew how he felt!

Here is one of the legion of grasshoppers, which rose up in a cloud around me as I walked on the flower-covered dry lakebed.  The seldom touched me; it was like being in a school of fish.

Here is a link with photos taken by others on this trip.

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Gadget interview

June 26th, 2013 | Category: Arctic,Travel,Uncategorized

I was just interviewed by the blog/zine “medium” about what gadgets I took to the Arctic last year. Here is the link.

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An Arizona trail outing

June 12th, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized

Earlier this year I went on a small outing on the Arizona trail on the north side of the San Francisco peaks. Of course, I took my dog with me. This area is just south of the lower parking lot of the Snow Bowl, about 20 minutes outside of downtown.

Like all dogs, Tycho can’t pass up a good opportunity to roll in unmentionable substances… nothing makes him happier.

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Wine charts

February 14th, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized

This one appeals to my electrical engineering experience. This one appeals to my software design experience. But I think that this one – redolent of biology – is my favorite.

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The Secular Ten Commandments

February 08th, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized

Alain de Botton’s ‘list for life’

Resilience: Keeping going even when things are looking dark.

Empathy: The capacity to connect imaginatively with the sufferings and unique experiences of another person.

Patience: We should grow calmer and more forgiving by being more realistic about how things actually happen.

Sacrifice: We won’t ever manage to raise a family, love someone else or save the planet if we don’t keep up with the art of sacrifice.

Politeness: Politeness is closely linked to tolerance, -the capacity to live alongside people whom one will never agree with, but at the same time, cannot avoid.

Humour: Like anger, humour springs from disappointment, but it is disappointment optimally channelled.

Self-awareness: To know oneself is to try not to blame others for one’s troubles and moods; to have a sense of what’s going on inside oneself, and what actually belongs to the world.

Forgiveness: It’s recognising that living with others is not possible without excusing errors.

Hope: Pessimism is not necessarily deep, nor optimism shallow.

Confidence: Confidence is not arrogance – rather, it is based on a constant awareness of how short life is and how little we will ultimately lose from risking everything.

Source

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Nicolas Steno

January 11th, 2012 | Category: Uncategorized

“Nicolas Steno, celebrated by Google on his 374th birthday, was the first to propose that older rocks lie deeper in the ground than younger ones.”

Let me put it this way: he was the first guy to formally recognize the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground. Which, honestly, was not easy, or obvious to many at the time (I probably wouldn’t have known it either). Other achievements of his:

“that the heart is a muscle that pumps blood, that tears are formed in the eye, that fossils are the remains of living organisms from previous geologic eras”

http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Horizons/2012/0111/Nicolas-Steno-The-saint-who-undermined-creationism

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