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June 17th, 2011

04:53 am - Non-human CO2 emissions: Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain CA, (1 of around 5,000* volcanoes that although classified as "inactive" still produces out-gassing) is producing CO2 at the rate of around 40,150 metric tons per year.  To put that into perspective of human production of CO2, Mammoth Mountain puts out as much CO2 every 4.5 hours as the average person in the U.S. put out in a year.

*5,000 is a very loose number that includes under ocean volcanoes that have not been empirically surveyed, but are believed to be nearly double the number found on land (2/3 the Earth's surface is ocean, 2/3 the volcanoes are oceanic...).  This number is highly debated with many geologists and oceanographers pointing out that mid-oceanic ridges are the most volcanically active places on Earth.  Other scientists point out the "common-sense" argument that the truely active oceanic volcanoes (Hawaii, Krakatoa, Iceland) tend not to stay under water.

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June 6th, 2011

02:22 pm - Creepy Crawlies
 This last weekend I played airsoft.  It was a lot of fun, but the bugs were a huge problem.  There were quire literally thousands of mosquitoes.  For the most part I didn't get bit (only a 2 or 3 bites in 7 hours) because I was really good about using the bug spray.  However, that didn't prevent them from constantly swarming all around us, and that doesn't touch on all the other little bugs brushed off of me throughout the day.  On top of that I also had to pick off 2 ticks at the end of the night.

Now it's two days latter, and I'm still regularly feeling that creepy crawly feeling where it feels like something is crawling on your skin even though you know there isn't.

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May 25th, 2011

05:37 am - Movie Review: The Void
Stargate SG1 fans might enjoy this to some extent just to see Amanda Tapping once again playing a scientist who uses way too much techno-babel saving the world.

Unfortunately the acting, plot and dialog leave a lot to offer.  So in the end it's not really worth watching.

On the flip side, you can't go too wrong with a love scene between Amanda Tapping and Adrian Paul...

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May 22nd, 2011

09:51 pm - Unplanned Storm Spotting
In the early afternoon today I was feeling rather restless. I grabbed my netbook, my phone and a pair of headphones, and decided to head to a local coffee shop to listen to an audio-book and surf the net. By the time I got to the coffee shop I decided I wanted a bit of nature instead, so I got my coffee and went to River Park in Brooklyn Park. This turned out to be exactly the wrong place to go.

I was sitting in the car watching the very full Mississippi flow by quickly while listening to my book when the very faint sound of emergency sirens caught my attention. I stopped the book and rolled down the window to be sure of what I was hearing. I then turned my HAM radio onto NOAA weather station and found out there was a tornado in the metro area. It was reported at 394 & 100 moving north east. My first reaction was to try to get home. After all my house (not to mention wife and child) are NE of 394 and 100, and if I could take 252 and get going east on 694 then south on 35W it would take me right around the tornado. Unfortunately I didn't count on the construction on 252 preventing me from being able to get much of any where.

As I sat in traffic not moving I attempted to change the HAM radio over to the storm spotter net. These nets often ofter better information on the exact position and nature of a storm than listing to normal weather radio. Unfortunately the frequencies for the nets changed this year, and the only one I knew off the top of my head is in the far south metro area. From north of 694 I couldn't get enough signal to understand what they were saying. The one report I did understand (probably because he said it loud and repeated it twice) is that the tornado was near 49th & Humbolt. Putting it several miles west of our house.  Then my mind drew the line from 100 & 394 to 49th & Humbolt, and continued that line on to ... 252 & 694... As a trained spotter, I know how to get out of the way of a tornado.  All tornadoes in Minnesota move in a direction between east and north.  They simply don't move south or west.  If your north of a tornado, moving west is a pretty safe bet.  All that assumes you can get going at all.

That was at about the same time the hail started. I switched back to NOAA weather radio since I could at least understand that clearly, and then I called pondering76  knowing she'd be tracking the tornado on weather radar and could give me a decent position report. Sure enough it was headed right for 694 & the Mississippi river, not a mile away from where I was stuck in traffic. I turned off once I got the chance, and road out the ruff weather (quarter size hail, rain so heavy the wipers on max were useless, and winds blowing tree branches all over the place) in the best-as-I-could-find safety of an apartment community parking lot.  I was rather entertained listing to the weather radio tell people to leave their cars and lay down in ditches...  Every ditch I cold see was filled to the brim from the down pour.  Laying in a ditch might keep you safe from the tornado, but I'm not sure drowning is a good alternative.  In the end the weather let up without me ever seeing the tornado, although based on what I could see and hear I had to have been pretty close.

Over all it was an experience I rather not repeat. I feel much better about severe weather when I know about it in advance and am able to carefully track it's progress.

As a side note: It turns out the audio-book software from audible.com disables the notification sounds that would have normally brought my attention to the myriad of emails and text messages I received telling me severe weather was heading my way.

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April 7th, 2011

01:01 am - Geocaching - GC23E48 - Winter Fun

Found this one on April 6th while out running errands. It's pretty close to the house, so it was an obvious one to stop and pick up.  When I first stopped near it, there was someone at the bus stop.  Since it's best not to be too conspicuous while geocaching, I chose to stop by a local fast-food place for lunch, then come back.  When I got back the guy was gone, so I pulled the car into the area right next to where the cache was supposed to be.

I think I'm beginning to get the knack of this as I was able to tell right where it was hidden as I pulled up.  The real key isn't to look for the cache it's self, it's to look for good hiding places.

Spoilers about cache location below cutCollapse )

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12:45 am - Geocaching - GC2AKMJ - T'aint Nothin' To Me
On April 2nd I took the wife and kids out to look for several caches.  Of the three we tried to find this was the only one we found.  We parked in the parking lot of the Columbia Heights golf course.

Then tried to find cache GC1JJFG, which I believe is in a large pile of rocks.  After about 30 minutes of searching we couldn't find it and gave up.  I'll try it again when there is less water and ice in the area.

After not finding GC1JJFG we continued along the path around the golf course to cache GC2AKMJ .  We followed the GPS to it's listed coordinates, checked the accuracy of the GPS, which was 20 feet.  pondering76 then started walking the perimeter of the area we knew it was in.

Spoilers about cache location below cutCollapse )

Since she found the cache she signed it, but I don't think she put my name on the log along with hers...  Oh well.

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12:17 am - Geocaching - GC2440E - The Quarry
At first I was going to keep a separate blog for my geocaching activities. Then I decided that's what tags were for :)

For those of you unfamiliar with Geocaching, here is a little blerb from their site:

GEOCACHING is a high-tech treasure hunting game
played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea
is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences
online. Anyone can use coordinates found on Geocaching.com to locate geocaches.

Cache GC2440E was my first officially logged cache.  I tried finding it several times, and finally found it on Nov. 18th 2010.  I actually found another cache before this last summer, but that cache no longer exists.

Spoilers about cache location below cutCollapse )

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March 31st, 2011

11:45 am - Owe...
This morning when I got home from work I re-learned two things. 1) Ice is slick, 2) concrete is hard. I hit the drive way pretty hard, bruised my shoulder and hip, and badly lacerated my knee. However, at least I didn't break anything. Similar falls put both Jen and my friend Mike into the hospital. Jen when she was in college, Mike earlier this very winter.

Funny enough it wasn't the snow I failed to shovel that caused the problem. It was a slick of black ice that was caused by the yard melting yesterday and re-freezing last night when the temperature dropped.

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February 25th, 2011

06:52 pm - Content
Bacon wrapped pork-chops, cheesy mashed potatoes, and a decent after dinner cigar. Life is nice.

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February 9th, 2011

11:59 pm - Sometimes the past comes back
So at work today I was given a task to figure out what was wrong with a batch file that wasn't performing the way it was supposed to. It only took me about 10 minutes to figure it out, but it struck me that even that was a long time. If I had been given the same problem when I was 12 years old, I would have probably found the issue in less than a minute.

The reason for this? When I was 12 there was no Windows GUI interface, and everything was done in batch files or from the command prompt. I was creating, editing and troubleshooting batch files on a near daily basis. Where as now I probably only see about 1 batch file every couple of months at the most.

It's rather ironic that 20+ years later, when I am considered an expert in the software industry, it takes me longer to fix a simple problem than it would have when I was just a little kid.

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