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Travels and Images

WEEK 42 2006

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First Post, 17 March 2002
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Weekly Picture Archive

Saturday 21 October 2006

Saturday - Jupiter and Mercury, in the Friday evening sky together:

jupiter and mercury, 20 oct 2006
Jupiter is obvious, but I've circled Mercury. The images are noticeably elongated
by the movement in the sky - maybe telephoto wasn't a good idea.
10 seconds @ f29, ISO 400, XT stock EFS II telephoto at maximum zoom
(Though I guess it could be a really bright star.)

Book #44 is Open Boat: Alone Across the Pacific, by Webb Chiles. In 1979 the author sails an unballasted open 18 foot sailboat across the Pacific ocean. It's rather insane - not something I'd care to try. At the end of the book, after a bad storm, he drifts for weeks and is finally washed ashore on an inhabited island. After a bit he starts thinking of continuing on - around the world. I actually went to Amazon to see if he'd lived. He wrote a book as recently as 2004, so the answer to that is obviously yes, but did he succeed in the circumnavigation?

Ah, in the Amazon copy of Ocean Navigators' review of A Single Wave is this sentence:
Chiles has crossed countless oceans in all manner of improbable craft, including an 18-foot open Drascombe Lugger, which he sailed within 3000 miles of a circumnavigation, before giving up on the idea in the Canaries.

In the Open Boat book he mentions meeting Bernard Montessier, who quit while well ahead in an early Whitbread race. Emulation of some sort? He found BM to be a sad man, one who had outlived his moment of fame. The solo sailors' are a strange lot sometimes.

I'd started this book some time back but misplaced it. Recently it turned up in a pile of other books, and I've finally finished it.

Looks like I lost 25 cents on the Tigers' tonight, in Game 1 of the World Series. Bah.

Friday 20 October 2006

Friday -  they took a group photo of participating engineers out by the Quiet Spike plane today.

Engineers for the quiet spike project
Click for a larger version. Personnel listed below.

Left to right: Leslie, Kia, Marty, Michelle, Keith, Mystery-Guy-#1, Larry, Shaun, Me, Mystery-Guy-#2, Steve, Tim. I'd have had a hair cut if I'd known ahead of time about the photo :-)

There is another shot with actually important people: the pilot, the Gulfstream engineers, the techs and mechanics that actually get the beast to fly almost every time. I'll post a link when it gets to the Dryden servers.

A list of Audio Books I received for my birthday, just a little while back, all presents from my friends (who audit garage sales on a weekly basis):
A nice mix of fiction and non-fiction! Of course my shelves were already groaning under the weight of unread books. I've started on A Beautiful Mind.

Thursday 19 October  2006

Thursday - acckk. There was a tech brief, then a pilot's brief, then we staffed the control room, ran through all the preflights, got ready to taxi...and the plane had problems.  So, everything is delayed until tomorrow.

Book #43 is Hunters of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. It was OK. The two of them together aren't half the writer that Frank Herbert was, but since he's not around anymore... Read as second rate space opera it isn't too bad. I guess the thing I miss the most is the subtlety.

H&A have the Bene Gesserit waging outright wars, leading battle charges as warrior Valkyries (their own description). In the original author's universe the BG were  the subtlest of orders, guiding and directing affair by indirection and stealth, gray eminence's behind thrones and altars, willing to take thousands of years to accomplish their goals, not a bunch of space cowboys charging about with drawn blasters.

Then there is the overly drawn out suspense in discovering the identity of "The Enemy" - aided by the remarkable stupidity of various characters. For instance, a damaged fleet of ships is discovered,  wrecked by "The Enemy" in battle. Apparently not one person on any of the ships kept a log, a camera, a written note. When they do find a survivor she conveniently dies before informing them of the opponents identity. And it doesn't occur to any of our protagonists to use their faster than light ships to run ahead of the light waves of the battle and just use a telescope to look back and see who the losers were fighting.

It wouldn't be quite so bad if it wasn't quite so obvious who "The Enemy" really was.

I tried to take a picture of Mercury below Jupiter this evening, but without success. There was just too much light in the sky, and then Mercury set behind the hills opposite before it was dark enough to show up against a dark sky. I suppose from the north valley I could gain a few more degrees of visibility and darkness. Hmmm. This is with the Canon Digital Rebel XT, which has up to 30 seconds of shutter (and bulb, if I could find the cable I bought a year or two ago).

I was talking to my brother this evening, and mentioned a sign of the decline of the Antelope Valley. I was trying to put air in a soft front tire, and was unable to find a functioning air hose at three separate gas stations. I was used to this in Pomona, but the AV was a pleasant change when I first arrived. But now the punks and gang bangers cut the fittings and vandalize the machines. I've an air compressor in the garage, it isn't a big deal, but it's a bad sign...

Wednesday 18 October 2006

Wednesday - working on a number of things. The test plans are slowly proceeding - things change so, and so much is still undecided,  it is hard to progress. None the less, I research things, ask questions, and try to forge ahead.

After lunch I went out for a couple of beers with some friends from work. Wednesday night is cheap beer night at Black Angus. I don't even try to keep up with people any more. A beer an hour, three beers max....

A flight scheduled for tomorrow, so nobody stayed too late.

Tuesday 17 October 2006

Tuesday - well, the flight went off reasonably well. Worked on a number of other things - indeed there was another task added to the pile (but just for a day or so). I shouldn't complain, everyone else is just as busy...

I saw Mercury tonight. At least I think I did. A small dot, down below Jupiter in the evening sky at about 6:55, just slipping behind the hills when I arrived home from work I suppose it could have been a bright star, but it looked fairly "steady" in the binoculars, unusual for a star that low.

Koi ponds. An attractive idea - but apparently they require maintenance. And constant attention. Despite my best intentions I can't say that I have a lot of patience for the yard stuff. I picked up a magazine when I was at Petsmart the other day, and several articles mentioned fishing out algae, cleaning filters, and the perhaps even having to bring the fish indoor in winter.

Maybe just a pond with plants, they apparently aren't as much work.

 Monday 16 October 2006

Monday - eh. Got up early for a flight, but it was canceled because of high winds. So we all get to sit through the crew briefing again, tomorrow.

And it's still windy.

I have the Avon cover edition. But let's face it, books from airport racks don't have to be interesting, they just have to be in the same ballpark as interesting. Like Tony Hillerman stuff. [via The Eternal Golden Braid]

Sunday 15 October 2006

Sunday - yesterday I went out to lunch with friends - down to Palmdale and the Blue Koi, which has been renamed A Place to Eat by the new owners. Hmmm. I suspect this is the third set of owners. The original place had excellent food, but sold out to management with less of a culinary flair. This set seems to have improved the food, though the new name is stupid.

They still have the Koi though, in a little pond, with a number of turtles.

While I was down there I had a radio put in the Probe, at Circuit City. It also has a CD player, but no tape player. They apparently no longer make the combo units with both. The new box has an input jack on the front, so I can use a portable player for cassette's, and listen to it on the car speakers. Aside from fixing the problem of turning off and on at random the new radio also sounded a lot better - the old unit had other problems it seems.

I did discover, after getting home and trying some CD's, that the CD player part, and the AUX-IN, wasn't working. Bah. So I went down to Palmdale again on Sunday and the tech reseated a wire or something, a ten minute job. Interestingly enough, I got to talking with another customer while I waited. He also listens to books in his car - but he uses his IPOD and downloads them onto that. He never listens to broadcast radio, preferring XM.

Saturday evening I went over for dinner, and a belated birthday party, at the friends place. It was a birthday for him as well, so he got a box of clinking 12 oz bottles, all imported. (So they were probably metric milli-liters, not english ounce units.) I, in turn, got some ship models, and a number of books on tape, something to look forward to!

I mowed, edged, and trimmed the front yard, picked up a new hose for the back yard, cleaned up the patio, let the cats out for an hour, and generally avoided the presentation that I was supposed to work on.

The 'Niners lost to the Chargers, and the Raiders lost to Denver. Not very impressive showings.

"Helicopters don't fly. They vibrate so much that the earth rejects them"  [via Castle Arrgghh]

Picture of the Week
hummingbird near feeder

Photo Notes: A hummingbird at 1/1600 second shutter.

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