A couple of weeks ago the hiking group tackled Deception Peak,
above the Santa Fe ski area.
It's a gorgeous hike, and one I'd wanted to do for years. Every year
the group hikes up to Nambé Lake, at about 10,826' elevation, which
I've always considered one of the most beautiful of our regular hikes.
And every time I'm there, I look up at the rocky peaks above, and wonder
what it's like up there. Now I finally know.
While on our way up the mountain, we were welcomed by a crew of grey
jays begging near the trail. Grey jays are sometimes known as "camp robbers"
because they're so tame and bold.
They've learned that humans are a good source of food, and they're
happy to swoop down and take it from you, or, if you're slow about
offering the goods, to sit on a branch next to your head scolding you.
Monday was the last night it's been clear enough to see Comet Neowise.
I shot some photos with the Rebel, but I haven't quite figured out
the alignment and stacking needed for decent astrophotos, so I don't
have much to show. I can't even see the ion tail.
The interesting thing about Monday besides just getting to see
the comet was the never-ending train of satellites.
Giving talks has certainly changed a lot since last year.
All those skills we practice in Toastmasters -- using the space,
expressive gestures, projecting your voice, making eye contact
with all sections of the audience? Meaningless now. In an age of
quarantine and video conferencing meetings, speakers need to learn new
Fortunately, there's Toastmasters for a painless, fun way to practice.
I was scheduled to give a talk on browser privacy.
My local LWV has a Privacy Study Group that I'm co-chairing,
and we had a meeting coming up on privacy while browsing the web.
I knew I wanted to show a series of demos in multiple browsers,
including additional windows like the Developer Tools window.
I also wanted to record the talk so I could upload it later.
In Zoom, the process of canceling a shared window and then
starting another share is slow, fumbly and error-prone.
I knew this was something I needed to practice before the talk,
to find a way to smooth the transitions..
Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE continues to improve, and as of Tuesday night
it has moved into the evening sky (while also still being visible in
the morning for a few more days).
I caught it Tuesday night at 9:30 pm. The sky was still a bit bright,
and although the comet was easy in binoculars, it was a struggle to see
it with the unaided eye. However, over the next fifteen minutes the sky
darkened, and it looked pretty good by 9:50, considering the partly
cloudy sky. I didn't attempt a photograph; this photo is from Sunday morning,
in twilight and with a bright moon.
I've learned not to get excited when I read about a new comet. They're
so often a disappointment. That goes double for comets in the morning
sky: I need a darned good reason to get up before dawn.
But the chatter among astronomers about the current comet, C2020 F3
NEOWISE, has been different. So when I found myself awake at 4 am,
I grabbed some binoculars and went out on the deck to look.
And I was glad I did. NEOWISE is by far the best comet I've seen
since Hale-Bopp. Which is not to say it's in Hale-Bopp's class --
certainly not. But it's easily visible to the unaided eye, with a
substantial several-degree-long tail. Even in dawn twilight. Even
with a bright moon. It's beautiful!
Update: the morning after I wrote that,
get a photo,
though it's not nearly as good as Dbot3000's that's shown here.
... which is what I have now on my Carbon X1 gen 7 laptop.
Early reviews of this particular laptop praised its supposedly
excellent speakers (as laptops go), but that has never been apparent on Linux.
It is an improvement over the previous version -- the microphone works
now, which it didn't in 19.10 -- though in the
meantime I acquired a Samson GoPro based on
recommendation (it works very well).
But although the internal mic works now, the sound from the built-in
speakers is just terrible, even worse than it was before.
The laptop has four speakers, but Ubuntu is using only two.
In dry years like this one, hiking the trails you see a lot of dead
ponderosas. It's so sad, thinking of the loss of beautiful, tall trees
Several years ago, someone who researches trees told us that
even when ponderosas look dead, they may just be conserving resources.
They might still bounce back in the next wet season. It's hard to
believe, when you see a tree covered entirely with brown, dead
needles. I confess, I didn't believe him.
But then we had a wet season, and I started seeing miracles.
Los Alamos is running a Privacy Study, which I'm co-chairing.
As preparation for our second meeting, I gave a Toastmasters talk entitled
"Browser Privacy: Cookies and Tracking and Scripts, Oh My!"
A link to the talk video, a transcript, and lots of extra details
are available on my newly created