Shallow Thoughts : : misc

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Thu, 03 Feb 2022

Shoveling in Paradise

[long tracks shoveled in snow] Shoveling our long driveways and multiple decks and patios is a lot of work, still novel and unfamiliar to a couple of refugees from California. Especially when, like yesterday, the snow keeps coming down so you have to do it repeatedly.

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[ 11:30 Feb 03, 2022    More misc | permalink to this entry | ]

Tue, 11 Jan 2022

My Favorite Plane(s)

[] On most Sundays, you can find me at Overlook Park where the Los Alamos Aeromodelers fly radio controlled model airplanes at the big soccer field. The Los Alamos Aeromodelers used to be an official flying club, but now it's just a group of friends who fly together.

I first got into R/C flying in the 1980s. Back then, model planes were made of balsa wood. They took forever to build. The planes were heavy (five or six pounds) and flew fast, and so when they crashed — which they did a LOT — you had a lot of fastidious rebuilding to do.

They were powered with internal combustion 2-stroke motors. They were SO LOUD. You couldn't fly them in local parks; you had to drive to a remote flying field where the noise wouldn't disturb anyone.

Plus the motors were finicky and messy: they spewed oil everywhere, so you had to clean the plane off with paper towels and a degreaser after every flight. Ick.

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[ 15:56 Jan 11, 2022    More misc | permalink to this entry | ]

Sat, 01 Jan 2022

Best Books I Read in 2021

Happy New Year!

I wrote a few years ago about keeping lists of the books I read, first because I was curious how many books I read, but later because I found the lists quite useful for other purposes.

But I realized this year that I hardly ever write about the good books I discover each year. That's a shame: how are we to find out about great new authors if we don't all make a point of sharing them?

So today I'm going to write about the best books I read in 2021. I'll probably write catch-up articles about some of the best from earlier years in future articles.

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[ 16:25 Jan 01, 2022    More misc | permalink to this entry | ]

Mon, 26 Jul 2021

E-Biking Fun with the Lectric XP

[Lectric XP above White Rock Canyon] Ever since a friend let us test-ride her electric bike at PEEC's annual Electric Vehicle Show two years ago, Dave's been stewing over the idea of getting an e-bike.

Why an e-bike?

One goal was to help us get into the back country. There are several remote places -- most notably, in Canyonlands' Needles and Maze districts -- that can only be accessed through trails that are beyond our Rav4's ability. Or at least beyond our risk tolerance.

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[ 16:49 Jul 26, 2021    More misc | permalink to this entry | ]

Tue, 29 Sep 2020

Y is for Yunque

Dave was browsing through satellite imagery and noticed what looked like an old bridge across the Rio Grande just north of Española, near the Ohkay Owingeh pueblo.

In the Days of COVID, one cure for the stir-crazies is to get in the car and go for a drive. So we ventured forth to check out this bridge.

[Bridge across the Rio Grande] Sure enough, just west of where County Road 56A crosses the Rio, there's a little stub of a dead-end road called Yunque that leads to a footbridge.

The name Yunque sounded vaguely familiar, but neither of us could pin down why.

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[ 12:50 Sep 29, 2020    More misc | permalink to this entry | ]

Thu, 21 May 2020

K is for Knitting

[knitted water bottle cozy] Seems like during the lockdown, everyone's taking up new crafts -- sewing, bread baking, or whatever. I was a little ahead of the game. Last winter I learned to knit. I'd crocheted a little when I was a teenager, but I'd always seen knitting as much more complicated.

It started because I couldn't find a decent headband. I'm not a big fan of hats, because migraines, but sometimes my ears get cold on hikes. I was dissatisfied with the headbands I found in outdoor apparel stores: they tend to be too narrow to cover my ears, too tight, overpriced, and don't come in many colors either. I bought one but wasn't happy with it. I decided I could probably learn to knit my own headband before I found one I liked.

Los Alamos has a great knitting community, as it turns out. (I suspect most communities do). Doris, a friend from Toastmasters, is an avid lifelong knitter (I knew that from her Toastmasters talks, of course), and she steered me to some good beginner books and gave me hints on which size starter needles to buy, including a set of circular needles since everything I was interested in making lent itself to knitting "in the round". But Doris also gave me a list of four different times the local knitters met in person, including one very convenient weekly meeting at the White Rock Library just a few miles from home.

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[ 17:02 May 21, 2020    More misc | permalink to this entry | ]

Sun, 12 Apr 2020

G is for Gabion (and a nice hike in Upper Pajarito Canyon)

[Moa on Upper Pajarito Canyon trail] Last week we hiked Upper Pajarito Canyon, a trail I mostly hadn't seen before (I'd been on parts of the trail once, years ago, on a hike I mostly don't remember except as "try not to slide off the slippery rainy hillside).

It turned out to be a beautiful trail. Early on, there are imposing stone cliffs that reminded us all of the moai on Easter Island. [Burned tree in Pajarito Canyon] The trail wound through a rocky canyon, then up along the hillside where I was able to indulge my hobby of arboronecrophotography, eventually climbing out to a viewpoint.

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[ 14:17 Apr 12, 2020    More misc | permalink to this entry | ]

Tue, 27 Aug 2019

Plane Fishing

[plane fishing] White Rock has a "glider port", which is just an informal spot along the edge of the canyon where sometimes people fly R/C sailplanes. On days when the winds are right, gliders can get some pretty good lift.

Last Sunday wasn't one of those days. The wind was coming from every direction but east, so the gliders were having to use their motors periodically to climb back up to altitude.

I was mostly trying to stay above the canyon rim, but I noticed all the other pilots were flying down below, so I decided maybe it wasn't that dangerous to let my plane get a little below the edge for a while before starting the motor. Wrong! Below the edge of the canyon, there's a risk of catching some evil rotors off the cliffs. One of those rotors caught my glider's wing and tossed it into a spiral. I was able to recover and get the plane flying straight again -- straight toward the cliff. It smacked hard -- I saw parts flying everywhere.

I didn't expect that the plane itself was salvageable -- it's only styrofoam, after all -- though it looked surprisingly intact. In any case, Dave and I hoped to recover the components: battery, motor, receivers, servos. Hiking to the plane proved difficult: you can get fairly near there on the Blue Dot trail, but then you need to climb three levels of cliff to reach the place where the plane sat. Coming down from above definitely would have required rapelling gear.

But Dave had an idea: let's go fishing!

It took some experimenting to figure out what sort of hook, line and pole you need to fish for a thirty-ounce plane that's fifty feet down a sheer cliff out of sight from the cliff above it. Dave did the fishing and I acted as the caller, sitting some hundred feet away where I could spot the plane through binoculars and shout out which direction he needed to move the line. But we got it in the end! I shot some quick snapshots while I wasn't busy spotting, which you can see here: Plane Fishing (photos).

[plane on the hook] Amazingly, the plane was almost undamaged. The plastic spinner was destroyed, but the motor seems fine. The nose of the plane is very slightly askew but not broken. The battery, after being plugged in to the receiver for 48 hours, was down to zero volts, but when we charged it carefully, it took a charge. The canopy went flying off at the moment of impact and is down there in the rocks somewhere, so I have a new canopy, spinner and collet on backorder, but in the meantime, the plane is probably flyable. I'll find out this weekend -- but if we fly at the gliderport, I'm not letting it get lower than cliff level, ever!

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[ 16:57 Aug 27, 2019    More misc | permalink to this entry | ]