Saturday, August 01, 2015

Grace's First Solo Flight

At Barry & Gail's place (Summer 2014) Grace was afraid this go-cart of Barry's because of an unfriendly black & white cat. Your guess about the connection would be as good as mine. So Mike and I conned her into it a little at a time. So for the record this is a picture of Grace's first totally self-piloted motor vehicle. The black and white animal in the background is NOT the unfriendly cat mentioned above.

RB's Advice about China Trip

When I was sent to China in 2009, Richard said, "Make it Operation Wallflower," by which I think he meant "Keep your thoughts about Chinese corruption to yourself." So from Medford, shortly before boarding a flight to San Francisco and on to Bejing, I sent Rich this selfie photo:

Good thing. My trip was paid for by the PRC's Ministry of Education's Confucius Institute Program, aka 'bureau of soft power exporting to American schools and colleges.' During the 8-9 days there, the sales pitch was as intense as the thick Bejing smog. (50-story buildings two-three blocks away from our hotel were barely visible, most smart Chinese residents of Beijing wore stylish masks over their mouth and nose to filter the crud out of the air, I got a headache after walking along the sidewalk for 15 minutes, etc. It was unbelievably bad.)

And, for some reason, the Chinese style of ethics and politics brought to mind the nickname of that famous defensive squad of the Louisiana State University football team of many years ago. From Wikipedia:

"The 1958 LSU Tigers football team represented Louisiana State University during the 1958 college football season. Under head coach Paul Dietzel, the Tigers cruised to an undefeated season capped by a win overClemson in the Sugar Bowl. LSU was named the national champion in both the AP Poll and the Coaches' Pollprior to their 7-0 Sugar Bowl victory over Clemson. It was the first recognized national championship for LSU in the poll era. The LSU team was led by Billy Cannon, who won the Heisman Trophy the following season. The team is also remembered for its unique defensive scheme, of which the "Chinese Bandits" were a part."

Friday, July 31, 2015

RB, 2 wood shoes, 2 aunts

Here is Richard L. Barry sitting on a table, wearing his favorite wooden shoes, talking to his aunts, Barbara (L) and Lou. The location was at my mother's home at Mid-Florida Lakes, near Eustis. This must have been about 1973 or 1974. Photographer unknown.

Railroad Switch West of Pittsfield

This electrically-controlled railroad switch just west of Pittsfield's train station is the beginning of the Yard Limit for the Pittsfield Yard. In the train business, a "Yard" is the area of switching and train routing around a city, town, or other concentration of rail activity.

This right-hand switch divides rail track A single track arriving from the left in the photo below into two tracks: the B track (going straight ahead) and track C (the diverging track, to the right in this photo.

Trains approaching from the left (west) on the main line (i.e. the A track) would either continue east on the A track (the B track, or main line) or be switched off to the right, to the diverging C track. A mile or so further east, other such switches take other sidings off to the left of the main line, and off to the right of this first siding, to form a 4-track marshalling yard just east of downtown Pittsfield.

Here is a closeup of the left rail (traveling west to east) of the switch above.  All these switches are computer-controlled in a nearby dispatchers station. I have hidden in the bushes several times to watch this switch switch as trains approach. It goes "Bbbzzzz-it-clang-clunk." Fun stuff!

For an interesting introduction to how railroad switches work, see:

First American lost on the Matterhorn

William Oxnard Moseley, Jr. 1848-1879
Born in Boston October 30, 1848. Graduated from Harvard College 1865 and from Harvard Medical School 1878.
August 13, 1879: 
“…They arrived at the summit at nine o’clock on the morning of the 14th and began the descent after 20 minutes. Moseley had complained more than once that the rope was more of a hindrance than an advantage. Crossing the shoulder, they descended the difficult rocks where an iron chain was stretched, which Moseley scorned. The party then reached a point about 45 minutes above the hut.
As the major difficulties were now behind them, Moseley asked that the rope be taken off, but Rubi and Craven urged him to keep it on until the hut was reached. In a few minutes, however, Moseley untied from the rope, saying that he could do better without it. Rubi yielded, the others unroped as well and all proceeded rapidly downward. Twenty minutes from the hut they had to cross a projecting rock with a smooth surface. Rubi went over first, planting his axe to give Moseley, who followed, a firm foothold. Moseley declined this aid and, placing one hand on the rock, attempted to vault over it. His foot slipped, his axe flew out of his hand and he fell from the rock onto snow, down which he slid on his back. He nearly succeeded in stopping himself with his elbows, but the snow was solidly frozen and he fell to the rocks beneath. Twisting with great effort, he tried to grasp these, but his velocity was too great and he hurtled from rock to rock until he disappeared from view. Three days later his broken body was found immediately above the bergschrund of the Furggen glacier, 2000 feet below the point of the accident. He was brought down to Zermatt by three guides and several British climbers…”

Concept II

This Model D just arrived today 7/31/15. The goal is 1,000,000 meters before August 1, 2016.

7/31/15: 3,207 meters, 20 minutes, easy. [D.A.Coe and J. Denver]

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Emulating an old ship

Photos of the real thing, and the plastic thing. The top photograph was taken recently at the dry dock in Boston where Constitution is undergoing restoration. Note the top masts have been taken down, the top masts and spars, and much of the other rigging, has been removed. (The dry dock iteslf was build during the Andrew Jackson administration; an inscription to that effect appears carved in the granite blocks at the bow end of the dry dock.) The middle photo is the 1:92 scale USS Constitution model under construction on the table next to my desk. The bottom photo is a close-up shot of the model's bow and keel, and, to show scale, a 1:92 man, boat's oar, and 24-pounder "long gun" like those that constituted the ships main battery.

Marin Headlands

View to the southeast from the Marin headland toward the Golden Gate Bridge, on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Pat and I had just finished driving to a nearby overlook and walking from there to one of the abandoned coastal artillery emplacements. Magnificant views from up there, in all directions.    

Smedley RIP

After a 13-year, 93,000-mile relationship, Smedley (for me, at least) is history. I sold the bike last month to a man who seems to enjoy it as much as I did. Not that it was all fun all the time. There was the time the electrical system failed in Guthrie, Oklahoma and caused an unscheduled overnight stay there while the local HD dealership tried to fix it. Another electrical failure caused trouble on the way to North Carolina with Mike and Courtney; that time, Richard had to help me fly from Atlanta to Newburgh while a local dealership fixed it, then I had to fly back to Atlanta, take a cab south to the dealership, get the bike and ride it back to New York. Ugh. There were a few other such times in those years and miles. But mostly it was happy times, fine experiences, wonderful views, experiences what would not have happened otherwise. Ride in Peace, Smedley.

Train SDY->SF July 2015

The Lake Shore Limited - the train make famous for the all-night poker game in the movie "The Untouchables" - was about 30 minutes late picking me up in Schenectady, but that was no big deal. By the time it arrived in Chicago the next morning it was two hours late. Two hours later, the California Zephyr left for San Francisco, two hours late. It was supposed to leave at 2:00pm Central Time but left at 4:45pm CT. It was 12 hours and 37 minutes late arriving at rail's end at Emeryville, California, on the Oakland side of the Bay. Instead of being a 52 hour ride it took 64 hours, roughly.


The braking system forced two automated emergency because of a failure in the compressed air system, the On-Board Voice explained. Another time the engineer stopped the train unexpectantly in the middle of Nebraska because an air hose was ripped open by some obstruction along the track bed, the Voice said. Another time, the train sat on a siding for three hours because an electrical storm shorted out the electrical signalling system, I later learned over breakfast from the train grapevine. And somewhere in Utah, I think, the train crew "timed out" and had to halt the train while Amtrak sent in a fresh crew.

I see from the web that the average tardiness of Train 5 (Amtrak's number for the westbound California Zephyr) is about 3 hours, so mine was way, way late. Ugh. Here us the record of the California Zephyr's Chicago to San Francisco trip:

Here are some other photos, FYI:

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Ansley, at home, Christmas 2013

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Ed Tufte and Graphics Press 20131005

Third annual open house at Edward Tufte's 234-acre outdoor landscape sculpture park and tree farm, which shows 80 monumental ET artworks. Recent pieces include 30 stone megaliths by ET and Dan Snow, stainless steel Feynman diagrams, and the new Ironstone series. Saturday afternoon, October 5, 11.00 to 5.00 at Hogpen Hill Farms, 100 Weekeepeemee Road, Woodbury, Connecticut 06798. For directions use Google maps or similar. Hogpen Hill Farms is in Litchfield County in northwest Connecticut, 100 minutes from Manhattan. Wear walking shoes. Call Graphics Press at 203 272-9187 if you have questions. Rain date is Sunday October 6.
"Edward Tufte and Triumph of Good Design" nymag Tufte one-day course
"The thinking eye," NPR Science Friday,transcript + recording.
"The Information Sage,"Washington Monthly Tufte presidential appointment
"Sometimes curious misfits turn out to be Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Edward Tufte—or Aaron Swartz," Slate, Phreaks and Geeks 
"Edward Tufte on Aaron Swartz: vigorously, marvelously different," here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

80MPH on Highway 130 near Austin, TX (WIP)


“…Interstate highways have some of the highest posted speed limits and have the most miles traveled of any roadways in the state, but account for the fewest number of fatal wrecks. Spokesman Senior Trooper Phillip “Sparky” Dean said interstates tend to be safer. “Interstates are for the most part pretty straight,” he said. “You’ve got two lanes going the same direction.”

State and U.S. highways were the leading locations of fatal wrecks in Taylor County from 2008-11, accounting for 24 of 68 fatal crashes. Dean said this could be explained by people getting complacent with driving on familiar highways. “People are crashing on a straight piece of roadway,” he said. “A lot of that is the attitude that it’ll never happen to me — This could happen to you. No one is exempt.”
Carol Rawson, TxDOT traffic operations director based in Austin, said interstates are the safest because they’re built the best. “Our interstate highways are built to our highest standards. We have nice lanes, big shoulders. The interstate is your best level of road,” Rawson said.
The speed limit on some interstate, state and U.S. highways was raised from 70 to 75 mph in 2012. U.S. 277 north of Abilene saw the posted speed increase in late 2012. National and state data hasn’t caught up to reflect this change, but Rawson said she doesn’t expect there to be a substantial uptick in fatality numbers because “most people were traveling at that speed anyway.”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Smedley at 90 (90,000 miles) (WIP)

On The Beach


Paul Ray Kornfuehrer
14 November 1944 – 23 January 2005

(See my two previous post in January 2005 titled "Death of a Friend" and "1 Story, 1 Confession")

Founding member, Jones-Kornfuehrer Society

Among other good things, I think he finally forgave me 
for putting his new VW Bug in the student lounge that Sunday. 


PS Friday 31 July 2015: This sprawling oak tree is at the cetner of the Texas A&M campus, a few steps from the old Academic Building. Sull Ross's statue is straight ahead on that sidewalk going under the tree. Paul liked to rest under that tree. -jb