Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Unhealthy Air Quality

Another beautiful sunrise here in the frozen north. It's about 10:20 in the morning so it's still well before the sun actually rises, I think that will be around 11:00 or so. And it's still -17°F so there are absolutely no plans for a long walk in the woods. The mountains on the far right in the picture are still part of the Alaska Range though they are well over 100 miles away. A good visibility day in spite of what the EPA says "Unhealthy Air Quality Index". Apparently, too many people around here burn stuff in the winter (like heat with wood). Maybe that explains the great sunrise/sunset photo ops...

I looked for the full moon to the north but wasn't able to see anything. I guess the local geography, south sloping hills, is working against me. That must be why I have never noticed the moon to the north before the the beginning of December. BTW, this will be a "blue moon" as it is the second full moon of the month.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The four day Christmas break is over and I didn't even start on any of the tasks that I was planning on. The exhaust nut wrench is still sitting on my desk, unused, the rear door harness on the truck is still disassembled showing the broken wires, and didn't even think about starting to pull the beemers tranny back to lube the intake spline. I feel like such a slacker. I did go to the Alaska Club twice during the break. Today, I racked up over 13 miles and jogged for about a third of that distance. I went back to my original workout routine using a much higher heart rate as a target since I didn't really feel like I was getting any exercise. Today, I did intervals alternating between 70% and 90% of maximum heart rate and now, I actually felt like I got some exercise. Maybe if I had done the lighter workout, I would feel like doing some of my tasks...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Solstice Sunrise

Today, or approximately today, was the winter solstice and this was 11:00 AM and about sunrise. It is an iPhone photo since that is the camera I have with me just about all the time. I kept playing around with exposure and I think it came out okay. The colors in the sky were great. Sunset occurred about two hours later but at least there was some sun. A couple of weeks ago, I took a photo at high noon in Barrow and the sky was darker than here in Fairbanks at 9 AM. In Barrow, there was only a hint of light due south at noon. Just a hint of red in the sky.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Welcome Home

Besides the temperature, I noticed the little "3G" in the upper left corner. It said "E" when I left a week ago. That was nice to finally see in Fairbanks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Global Climate Change

One of the things I did today was see a screening of an educational video documenting the trip of Tara, an expedition/research schooner that traveled across the north pole frozen into the ice. The trip started in the Fall of 2006 and was completed about 400 days later collecting scientific data along the way. It was a great video with explanations of climate change and its effect on the global environment. Some project that the north pole may be ice-free in the near future. I also attended a talk given by the director of the International Arctic Research Center at UAF on permafrost studies and the dramatic changes they are seeing in recent years. He covered many seemingly competing evidence I've been hearing over the last couple of years on global warming. These are just a sample of the many presentations I've been to while here at the fall AGU meeting. Today, there was also a another meeting on science in Barrow with the focus on logistic support.

I came to the conclusion that my profession is information technology but I really enjoy science more...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

San Francisco


Last night, I arrived in San Francisco for a series of meetings and the AGU (American Geophysical Union) fall meeting. I'm staying at a bargain priced (but very nice!) hotel only about ½ mile from Moscone and about 50' from the beginning of the Powell St. cable car line. Lots of people and lots of cars everywhere. This morning, I walked up and down streets, had dim sum in Chinatown, wandered through bookstores and camera shops and ending up with 0.01 mile more than I logged yesterday. The most annoying thing about walking around here are the number of people smoking while they are strolling down the sidewalk. It seems that 20% of the people in San Francisco must smoke, or at least that's the way it feels. You can see layers of smoke hanging over the sidewalks. Or at least those that hang around downtown. It was much nicer last night when it was raining i.e. not as many smokers walking in the rain. According to the weather guessers, it is supposed to be raining most of the week.

The Christmas decorations are out and the tree in Union Square looked pretty nice. The picture is kind of blurry. There were still a lot of people out especially at 9:00 on a Sunday night. I guess I'm not used to life in the city. Dinner tonight was corned beef boiled dinner and like just about every other meal I've ever had in this city, it was pretty good. Barrow centered meetings this afternoon and early evening and they are continuing intermittently throughout the week. So far, interesting....

Monday evening - First "official" day of the AGU and there are way too many presentations. The planetary science ones are always interesting as are the ones on climate change but this afternoon, I attended a series of presentations in the Education track on "Using Web 2.0 Technologies to Facilitate Science Communications". Pretty interesting presentations and discussions. Everyone seems to be so passionate about what they are doing. Quite a change from the administrative side of the university that I usually see. This is one of the reasons for setting up the podcasting capabilities in Barrow and yesterday, several of the researchers had additional things they would really like to see. I think I'm going to be busy.

I started listening to this audiobook on the flight down and got totally sucked in. I listened whenever I walk around over the weekend and last night, I ended up listening well into the wee hours and finished it up this morning. Excellent book. Earlier this month, it was being offered as a free download but it is no longer available.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Podcast Producer Experience

This is all sort of unrelated to most of my other posts but I tried my first semi-official video podcast recording today. This is part of setting up infrastructure in the BARC (Barrow Arctic Research Center) for researchers to use while in the field. I had set up Podcast Producer 2 that is part of Apple OS X server and was having a lot of trouble with authentication. I shut down the Open Directory and the Podcast Producer services, deleted the databases associated with both services, and started over. After that, it worked flawlessly. I think it got messed up since I first installed Leopard Server then upgraded it to Snow Leopard. It didn't transition well. I also recorded the presentation in case I wanted to play with it later and this is the setup I used. Podcast Capture used the external iSight camera mounted to the DV camera and I took a feed from the audio mixer as my audio input. To do this sort of thing in "production", I see a need for at least 3 video feeds. One of the speaker, one from whatever is being sent to the projector and one of the audience. You can't hear or see the questions. Unfortunately, this then becomes a much bigger production. I'll need to think about it. The speaker didn't want me to publicize this video until he gets permission from his company but it was a fascinating talk on off-shore drilling platforms. The talk ended up being 1½ hours long and should be edited but I was trying to completely automate the post production process. The Xgrid is still chunking away encoding the video taking much longer than real time. I guess I need a bigger Xgrid (there is only one single processor machine in the Xgrid since this is an experiment) but it is only running at 20% of capacity. Maybe there are some controls to limit load. This is all new to me.

It is really windy today something like 26 knots. Blowing snow, lots of drifts and visibility is way down. It was a challenge just driving the truck from the BARC to NARL building 360 due to the low visibility. I suspect that my flight out tonight will get canceled.

Sunday evening - By the time I got back home, the encoding was done. As you can see from this graph of server utilization, it looks like it took almost 8 hours to encode the video. You can also see that the encoding was only being done on a single core of the server. I guess this is by design so that multiple jobs could be done simultaneously. But I have to admit that I wish it would've parallelized (is that a word?) the task. The 1½ hour recording ended up being almost 1 GB in size for the video and 100 mB for the audio. Wrong encoder choice I guess. I'll look at my selections tomorrow. Don't need stereo, 15 frames per second of less for a talking head, maybe a little editing of the file....

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Land of the Noon Moon"

We always hear about northern areas being the land of the midnight sun but there is a counter to that and that is these same areas are also the land of the noonday moon. In all the years I have lived in Alaska, I have never noticed the moon directly north before. Here, I am looking due north out over the Arctic Ocean at right around 1 pm, and the moon is right there. Back home, we are on a south facing slope so there isn't a clear view to the north. I guess the phrase will never catch on since it almost doesn't make much sense. I really like the color of the sky when it is really clear and, yes, the color in the picture is pretty accurate. This is about as bright as it gets during the day as there won't be another sunrise here for another 1½ months.

I have all of the radios installed on the quonset huts now but I can't reach one of them today. Ping fails and another has about 40% packet loss. I looked at the base station and one of the radios has a red light blinking. Of course, there is no documentation and the manufacturer must not believe in the value of the Internet. On another note, I have also been working with Apple Podcast Producer 2 that comes with 10.6 server and it is pretty slick software. There is a science oriented presentation here in Barrow every Saturday, I think it is called Saturday School Yard, and I thought that it would be a good idea to try and capture some of these. Tomorrows presenter agreed to be videoed so I will try out Podcast Capture (comes with OS X) with an external iSight camera just to see how it comes out. I have been testing with a number of different formats and it seems to work pretty well. I haven't been able to get Podcast Composer to open the default workflows or upload new ones. I think I must have messed up the permissions somewhere along the line. Real documentation seems a little scarce.

Didn't feel like spending much time outside today. Air temperature is -22°F and with the breeze blowing, it was something like -43°F. I originally thought of bringing my insulated coveralls but they take up a lot of room in your luggage. I scheduled a short outage this evening to swap out a couple of UPS units and that went fairly smooth except for the problem with the point to multipoint radio system. I don't know if it was related to the outage. Dinner tonight was at Osaka's again and the donburi was really good and warming. Donburi is a savory stew, in this case made from vegetables, chicken and eggs, served over rice. Nothing really fancy but they do a really good job with all their menu items.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sashimi Plate

Today, I treated myself to the small sashimi plate at Osaka's here in Barrow. As an extra treat, they brought out a salmon skin roll to accompany it. It was, as usual, wonderful. I have never had that type of roll before since I didn't know what to expect. A little crunchy and very tasty. I think the skin was broiled or something maybe after marinating in teriyaki sauce for a while. I will definitely have it again. I don't know how they do it, but the sashimi tasted very fresh. They are near the ocean, in fact right on the ocean, but all of the fish must be flown in daily. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Barrow.

On another note, I set up phones today in the BARC (Barrow Arctic Science Center) necropsy lab. I believe that this part of the facility is used to dissect large marine mammals as the table is huge and there is a two ton overhead crane to bring things in. The whole room is designed to be hosed down so I'm not real sure how well the phone is going to survive but it'll be a good test. I'm just about done with these phones as I just have one more installation to do. It is on a quonset hut and those are always a challenge to find a good place to install the mast. Usually the end walls are flat so hopefully that will work out. I must have lifted a lot today as my arms and shoulders are pretty sore right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back in Barrow

I'm in Barrow again trying to finish up some loose ends as well as get some additional equipment installed. This time, I'm in one of the residential huts instead of the NARL Hotel. It is actually pretty nice as it is essentially a two bedroom apartment complete with kitchen and laundry facilities. It is only about a hundred yard walk to NARL Building 360 where the offices are. The last time I was here, I added an Alverion wireless clients to most of the huts and each has a small Cisco 3640 switch, Polycom IP320 VoIP phone and a 1 kva UPS to keep it all up and running for something like 25 minutes. I haven't tested the UPS yet, maybe after I finish this post. The VoIP phone is using the SIP proxy I set up last year in the BARC (Barrow Arctic Research Center) using the combination of OpenSER as the proxy server and Asterisk as the media server. It has been working flawlessly ever since and I have been steadily adding additional buildings and phones to the network since it was initially set up. Last month, I enabled trunking over the point-to-multipoint wireless network and can now deliver multiple vlans, including the VoIP vlan, into the residential huts. Only one more hut to add to the network and I should be able to get that one done on this trip. This has been a really fun project for me and I'll be sad to see it end next August.

BASC no longer has an agreement with the college to use their gym and workout equipment due to some abuse by some visiting grad students a while back. Unfortunate. I brought up some exercise bands to do a little workout and due to polar bear sightings, I'm not allowed to run outside. I haven't seen any around but then again, I really don't want to since I do have to walk outside to get to my hut. As it is, I end up working for about 12 hours per day so I'm usually pretty exhausted by the time evening rolls around anyway.

So far, everything has been going pretty smooth. I am still struggling trying to get Apple Podcast Producer up and running. I found some guides using Google but it is a pretty complex product. Especially trying to figure out the workflows. It's running now, sort of, but I can't get podcasts to upload successfully yet.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Anaerobic -vs- Aerobic Exercise

Just a week or so ago, I posted a picture showing a temperature of -31°F. Today, the temperature was +34°F. Yes, that is a PLUS sign. A 65°F swing in only a couple of days. If it wasn't for all the frost on the road, I would have pulled the bike out and called it riding weather. The air temperature may have changed pretty quickly but the road temperatures changes much more slowly so it was pretty slick.

I'm just about near the end of my free month at the Alaska Club and I have to admit, I really enjoyed the strength training. I also learned from the trainers on staff, that pushing myself hard when doing aerobic exercise was counter productive. Not necessarily dangerous just not getting the result I've been looking for. For the last couple of years, I would push my heart rate to 90-100% of maximum (for my age so it's not really that high) for long periods of time thinking that it would help get me into shape quicker. Doing this, I'm told, turned my aerobic exercice to anaerobic which apparantly consumes muscle mass instead of fat and much fewer calories. I've stopped pushing myself that hard for the last week but it is probably too soon to see any difference. A questionable side benefit is the workouts are easier but longer. Not what I was looking for. Once I get back from Barrow, I plan to sign up for a year at the Alaska Club to add regular strength training to my routine. Plus all of their treadmills have heart monitors that actualy work. Also, the environment is more conducive to exercise. I just need to try and figure out a way for it to fit into my schedule. I've actually had to drive to work three days per week for the last month instead of walking and riding the bus. To me, that seems a little counter productive.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Level "Black"

Friday morning - Another cold day today. I don't expect that I will be doing much walking outside today though I am tempted to by the Nike+ site. It says that I am less than a mile from the next level (whatever that means). My total on the site is now 3105.96 miles and my total for the year is a fairly respectable 2118.7 miles. I don't think I will be able to get through the morning without going for a walk and re-synching. Just to get to the next level (why am I so easily manipulated by these sites) ....

Friday afternoon - Just like I thought, I couldn't leave it alone and went to lower campus and back. I ended up attending a meeting on lower campus but never made it to the credit union like I had originally planned. Oh well, another day. I am now at the "Black" level on the Nike+ site and which is for all participants who have logged more than 5000 km. It is currently the highest level with under 1% of all participants. There are 1,119 others at the 3000 mile level. Now I need another goal. I had a lunch meeting today then went to the Alaska Club to do what has become my "normal" workout. Walk/run for about an hour followed by the full series of Nautilus machines they have there. I have been feeling really good after these exercise sessions even if I don't feel up to it going in. Running is still a challenge and I feel like I am always arguing with the treadmill since it is always telling me to slow down. When running, my heart rate is always around 90% of maximum and if I slow down to a walk, it's like 70%. For me, 90% feels just fine. I'm not breathing hard or feeling stressed except for the machine flashing "slow down" all the time. I hope I'm not hurting myself....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday 11/17/09 - Walked down to Beaver Sports, a local sporting goods store, and picked up a pair of mittens during lunch via a very circuitous route. I did avoid the ski trails since walking on the trails tends to ruin the well groomed trails. In addition, I walked to/from the bus stop. All of this added up to a bit over 8 miles, all outside. Not too bad considering the temperature...

Wednesday 11/18/09 - There was a WIN lunchtime talk about portion sizes today at noon. Not much new information though I was able to talk to a WIN consultant about a sore hip. I think it is from running over the last couple of weeks at the Alaska Club. She told me to take a look at my feet while running on the treadmill to make sure that my feet are aimed straight ahead and that I am hitting the treadmill surface with my heel. Hitting with the ball of my foot first could cause more stress from impact. Since I will be going to the gym today, I'll take a look at that. I want to transition to running since I would be able to burn more calories in the same amount of time as walking. Tonight, they are forecasting lows around -30°F.

Monday, November 16, 2009

-18F This Morniing

By the looks of things, winter is really here. This morning, the temperature dropped to -24°F at a low point in the drive in and was up to -18°F near the building I work in. It is cold enough for an inversion i.e. when the temperature goes up the higher up you are. Fortunately, the University is located up on a hill so it is a bit warmer. This is the view from the Butrovich building today at about 11:30 am and as you can see, the sun doesn't get up very high in the sky and I don't think it adds any heat. At least you really don't feel anything when the sun shines on you. Yesterday, I did a bit of walking (my normal walk to church and back) and the walk back didn't feel any warmer than the walk down. This afternoon, I have a meeting on lower campus at 3:30 so I should get a little bit of walking in before heading for the Alaska Club.

After going to the Alaska Club for a couple of weeks, I think I am actually ready to join. I dreaded strength training for years and just couldn't get myself to do any in spite of the fact that it was recommended by just about everyone I talked to. Now, I find that I actually enjoy using the machines at the facility though I don't feel at all motivated to try out the free weights. I have also found that I am a little more motivated to try running on the treadmill. I do try running on the treadmill at home but for some reason, I feel that it isn't as easy to slow down. Maybe it is just vanity since there are other people around. I don't know. Anyway, I think I will continue to go after my free month is up. Actually, on December 7th, I will be getting another card from the WIN program. Maybe I can have another free month before having to actually sign up. Of course, the benefit to signing up is that I can use the facility even when it isn't staffed which would be a lot more convenient. Right now, about the only time I can get there is in the late afternoon after work and try and get home by 6. This is, unfortunately, about their busiest time.

Monday, 6:00 PM - It never really warmed up. It is still only -18°F. I walked/jogged for 3 miles on the treadmill this afternoon and used all 12 of the weight machines increasing the weight a little on about half of them. Keeping track on the card really helps me. I should also keep track of the seat position since that really seems to make a difference on the difficulty. I was reading (on the Internet) yesterday that the machines are really made for someone like me, a rank beginner. They force you to maintain the correct position.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sesame Street Turns 40

I think that the series of images on the Google home page for the last couple of days is interesting. It sort of shows the generation that many Googlers are part of i.e. younger than me (sigh...) I was "too old" for Sesame Street when it first came on (not to mention that we barely received PBS, KCET uhf channel 28). In case you didn't know, Sesame Street turns 40 today, November 10th, and, I'm afraid to say, I remember when it first came out. I don't ever remember watching it at all back then but as my own kids were growing up, it was a very popular show in our home. Unfortunately, I can remember many of the characters that I disliked mostly because of their whiny voices or the character really seemed "dense" but few favorites. The most notable favorite is Kermit. I also liked the adults on the show and enjoyed many of the guests over the years. I salute them for 40 years on the air.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mac PGP beta and Windows 7 Install Experience

I've been playing around with a beta version of PGP for the Mac (10.0.0.2489) and felt that I just had to try out the whole disk encryption feature. The last time I tried it, it rendered my SSD unusable and I didn't have time to mess around with it so I just stuck the OEM drive back in. Last month, I got the SSD running again by partitioning the drive and restoring from a Time Machine backup. Trying it out on the beta completely corrupted the 10.6.1 install on the drive and I ended up doing a restore again. This time the restore didn't work. After messing around and doing a secure wipe of the drive, recreating the two partitions, restoring from Time Machine again and I'm happy to report that it now works again. The SSD is definitely worth the hassle since my Mac boots literally in a matter of seconds. Once past the POST, it is ready to log in in under 10 seconds. After logging in, it is ready to work in maybe 5 more seconds.

Anyway, after messing around with my laptop for the day, it is once again useable. Time Machine is wonderful software and if you have a Mac, you should be using it for backup. I also finished installing Windows 7 on my rugged laptop yesterday and though the reviewers stated that it was faster than XP, my experience is different. Use interface is very Vista like (not necessarily good) and it is difficult to find things. Everything seems to move in slow motion. I still like OS X better as it comes with all of the unix tools I tend to use all the time. I always need to search out third party programs to get the same functionality in Windows and that part hasn't changed with 7. The installation was challenging as the install download came as an executable instead of an ISO. I had to look for other software to turn the directory structure created by the EXE into an ISO that I could burn to a DVD. After that, I did a custom install (i.e. clean install after deleting the XP install) and it went along just fine. No problem with the install or the activation though sound and wireless didn't work until after I ran Windows Update. Kind of odd that it recognized the hardware and downloaded the drivers from Microsoft but they weren't included on the DVD. Installed all the updates, installed the new Microsoft anti-virus Security Essentials. Office 2007, Google Chrome for a better Wave experience, Putty,VLC, and iTunes. Additional software that I still need is a TFTP server, a good VNC client and server and maybe the free version of PGP. I usually only need it on the Mac but it never hurts to have some sort of encryption functionality.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Strength Training

I finally got around to using my Alaska Club free month that I received from the WIN for Alaska program last year. Today, I went to their new facility on Chena Pump Road to start my free month. I was told that I really needed to start some sort of strength training to go along with my walking and jogging if I wanted to continue loosing weight. This is not only from the WIN consultant but also from my regular physician. I need to build muscle mass to speed up my metabolism. I don't want more exercise gear around the house so the Alaska Club seems like a good option. Today, I ran on the treadmill for half an hour to warm up then went through the ten Nautilus machines doing ten reps of each exercise. I was told that the goal was to do barely ten or raise the weight the next time you go through the sequence. Since this was my first time, I was guessing at a starting weight and I hit it right on the correct weight on a couple of machines. I can really feel it now especially in my arms. Kind of like the overall feeling as when I first started on the treadmill and it is a good feeling. I'm Trying to figure out whether it's worth it to sign up long term.

I finally moved the bike into the back of the garage this evening. Kind of sad but I am looking forward to working on the bike. After parking the bike and getting it up on the center stand, I noticed that the side stand was just about getting ready to fall off. One more thing to add to the list. Now I really do need to pull off the header pipes (to get to the mounting bolt for the side stand).

- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back in Fairbanks

Finally back after five days in Barrow. This was a new touristy sign across the street from Spenard Builders Supply near the ocean. The Arctic Ocean is just visible in the background. No ice yet. I'm told that the sea ice edge is still over a hundred miles out.


It is a depiction of pulling in a whale onto the ice along with some holes to poke your face through.Here is another picture I took of the same activity a couple of years ago. At that time, we didn't have the wonderful sky color in the background. Come to think of it, most of the time it seems to be a bit overcast and the sun is usually setting to the south as opposed to the north west as the tourist picture shows. What's that called, artistic freedom?


Back in Fairbanks, there is now plenty of ice on the roads. Especially around the side roads like in our subdivision. No more motorcycle riding until spring I guess unless we have a really freak warm spell. I still haven't pushed the bike into it's winter storage spot. Maybe tomorrow evening. I'm trying out a new iPhone app called BlogPress that I heard about from Steve Williams blog, Scooter in the Sticks, and it seems to work pretty well.

- Posted from my iPhone


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In Barrow Again

No more posts about riding for a while. I'm told that there is now snow on the ground back home and this time, it's sticking. I'm up in Barrow again this week working on the metro wireless. The goal was to get trunking on the point-to-multipoint network using a mixture of Cisco switches, Foundry switches and Alverion radios. It's now working the way it is supposed to and only had to use about a 2 minute outage instead of the scheduled 4 hours. There was a lot of cleanup that had to be done as well and I've been using Google Wave for posting switch configs and proposed changes to share with others. Pretty good tool for this sort of collaboration. The only negative is that if you are working on the network, there is a good chance that you won't be able to reach the Internet when you need to look at the configs. Still, the collaboration part seemed to work.

I took a break when some of the local staff needed to deliver some material from the Coast Guard to Barrow Search and Rescue. I never realized that the rotor blades folded up like that. It makes since for them to fold in order to not take as much room. My only experience with helicopters was over 25 years ago and they were much smaller. Hughes 500s and Jet Rangers. There was also a King Air and a Lear Jet in the Hanger. Kind of fun to look around and it was a nice break.

After that, it was back to switches, wireless access points, VoIP phones, and vlans. With the current configuration, I can assign any port in any of the out buildings to just about any vlan in the main buildings. The wireless access points contain several SSIDs to allow just about any researcher to jump onto the appropriate vlan (after authentication) and most of the VoIP phones have been moved into the same vlan no matter what building they are in. I've been meaning to do this for years but haven't been in a position to do it until now.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nike+ Human Race 10K

Just on whim, i.e. I saw the advertisement on the Nike+ home page, I entered the online race. There were 86,799 entrants. For the race preparation section, which ran from August 3 through the end of the last week, I came in 143. I'm pretty happy with that considering the number of entrants. In the actual virtual race, I didn't do as well but still much better than I thought I would. 16,736th place so I'm in the first 25%. I didn't run but just sort of jogged and was happy that my time was roughly the same as the Midnight Sun Run. I thought it would be worse since I am feeling somewhat out of shape.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Warm Enougn to Ride and 3000 miles on Nike+!


Who would've believed it. After all, it's almost November! This morning, I dug the bike out from the back of the garage and rode into the university again. The last two days, it was so warm that I walked home (plus I need the exercise). I can't remember a time when there hasn't been snow on the ground at the end of October. In fact, I can remember many Halloweens when temperatures were well below zero and the kids went around the neighborhood on a sled behind a snow machine (a.k.a. snow-mobile). The temperature was in the low 20's and it was really nice to ride in again. I did keep an eye out for ice on the road because occasionally water spills out from the back of trucks of those hauling their own water but absolutely no issues this morning. I tried out the grip warmers again but turned them off after only a couple of miles since they were too warm with my summer gloves and this was on the low setting. Maybe I should look into them this winter while I do all my other maintenance. I'm assuming that they are working properly. The weather guessers claim that it won't snow today but it looks a little ominous to me. If it starts to look worse, I think I will just head home...

Still spending an inordinate amount of time trying to learn about Google Wave. It is still "very beta" and some things only work some of the time and sometimes it gets really slow. When I got my account, it came with 8 invites. So far, 7 of the 8 people I invited have signed up and we have started to look at some of the collaboration features. I still haven't figured out how to work with documents (it that's possible) but some of the robots are interesting. One of the claims real time translation so I tried it with the text from one of my blog posts. It translated it into Japanese so I sent the resulting text to a good friend from Japan. She said that it looks like translators will not be put out of business soon since it was only about 5% accurate. In case you are interested, here it is below...

I was thinking that I would go for a ride this last weekend but didn't and this morning, it was down in the low teens again and the afternoon temperatures are no longer getting above freezing. So I drove the truck in this morning since I had an errand to run. Yesterday, I got in quite a bit of walking but felt really chilled by the time evening came. We are still getting quite a bit of warmth from the sun these days as you can really feel the temperature drop once it sets. No pictures as it is really gray and drab with all of the leave gone and no snow. Tonight, I will drain the gas from the bike and push it back to it's place in the back of the garage 'til spring. There are a number of maintenance tasks needed as well as some minor repairs. I am still debating whether I should pull the heads to check for valve recession since it would be really inconvenient to break down in the middle of a trip. I believe, from articles on the Internet, that my bike is one of those that has a problem with valve seat metallurgy. I haven't found any records that indicate that this issue was taken care of by the previous owners. Plus, the mileage is about right for the problem to show up (60K miles).


私は自分が乗って、この最後の週末のために行くことはないと今朝考えていたのは、これを低く、10代で再び午後の気温は、もはや凍結上記の取得されまし た。以来、私は実行するためにお使いいただから私はこの午前中のトラックを行なった。昨日、私は歩くのはかなりを取ったが、実際には時間の夕方までに冷え た感じだった。一度設定する我々はまだ、これらの日として、本当に気温の低下を感じることは、太陽からの温かさがかなり進んでいる。いいえイメージとして は、実際は灰色ですし、すべてのままにして雪過ぎ去ったとパッとしない。今夜、私は自転車からのガスを排出し、戻ってのところにガレー ジ'の後ろにティルの春押してください。ある保守タスクの数だけでなく、いくつかのマイナーな修理が必要です。私はまだので、実際には旅 の途中で分解するには不便になるかどうか私はバルブの不況をチェックするための頭プルする必要があります議論をしています。私は、インターネット上の記事 からは、私の自転車一人は、バルブシート冶金に問題があるのだと思いまます。私は、この問題の以前の所有者に引き取られたことを示すすべてのレコードが見 つかっていない。さらに、走行されている問題についての権利のために(60Kマイル)を表示します。

Friday Afternoon - After running around at lunch time, I noticed that I was only 1¼ miles from the 3000 mile mark. I needed to drop off a form at Signers' Hall on lower campus so that seemed like a good excuse to get a few more miles in. So I reached one of my goals and it isn't even December yet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Still Playing With Wave

I have not been so interested by a new technology as I am by Google Wave. Right off the bat, I can think of several applications within the higher ed environment ranging from education to administrative. For example, in advanced networking labs such as the Internet2 IPv6 or multicast workshops I teach or the Cisco classes that I used to teach, there are sets of equipment that would be worked on by a small group of students. In all cases, it usually ends up being a clump staring at the screen of one of the team members typing on a router or a switch. In some cases, each of the groups also needed to interact with the other groups. I can think of many other examples where collaboration is key. So far, I have just been playing around with a few of the robots and gadgets that developers have made available. I suspect that there will be many, many more soon. One of them that I was interested in trying is apparently not ready outside of the sandbox environment. My blog, blog.machida.us is hosted at Blogger (owned by Google) and they demonstrated a robot called Bloggy that enabled a wave to appear within your blog. Unfortunately, to interact with it, I believe you would still need a wave account.

Another capability is to set up an independent wave server so that the user accounts and content (waves) could be locally administered. Even with a separate server, users would still be able to transparently interact with wave users in other domains. Only shared content would be passed between the domains. Pretty cool technology that I can't wait to learn more about. And that is a really nice change for me. I.e. to be so excited about a technology that I want to learn everything I can about it...

This blog post is being typed in a wave with a Posterous robot. Once I finish, it posts to my Posterous site http://pst.machida.us/, and the Posterous site posts it to my Blogger site, then sends out a Tweet with a link to the Posterous blog post. Cool automation.

Posted via web from Richard's posterous

Monday, October 19, 2009

Playing With Google Wave

I got my invite this afternoon just before 5:00 and have been playing around all evening. Right now I'm trying out the Posterous robot which automatically makes blog posts though the posterous.com site. So far it seems pretty cool. Not all of the robots used in the demo video can be used (such as bloggy which posts to Blogger).

I just tried to paste a picture and I guess that is't supported in the robot. I need to find some others to try some of the collaborative features. Pretty cool!

Posted via web from Richard's posterous

Time to Finally Put the Bike Away

I was thinking that I would go for a ride this last weekend but didn't and this morning, it was down in the low teens again and the afternoon temperatures are no longer getting above freezing. So I drove the truck in this morning since I had an errand to run. Yesterday, I got in quite a bit of walking but felt really chilled by the time evening came. We are still getting quite a bit of warmth from the sun these days as you can really feel the temperature drop once it sets. No pictures as it is really gray and drab with all of the leave gone and no snow. Tonight, I will drain the gas from the bike and push it back to it's place in the back of the garage 'til spring. There are a number of maintenance tasks needed as well as some minor repairs. I am still debating whether I should pull the heads to check for valve recession since it would be really inconvenient to break down in the middle of a trip. I believe, from articles on the Internet, that my bike is one of those that has a problem with valve seat metallurgy. I haven't found any records that indicate that this issue was taken care of by the previous owners. Plus, the mileage is about right for the problem to show up (60K miles).

Other maintenance items are:
transmission input shaft grease
swing arm grease
replace cables
replace brake fluid
remove exhaust doughnuts
adjust valves
replace fluids

There is also the issue where the bike ran real during a heavy rain. To me hinting at an ignition problem.

Other things:
Put on the Reynolds rear rack
Considering an upgraded charging system
Considering front facing running lights for more visibility
Considering blinking LED brake light for better visibility

About a month ago, I followed an RT of similar vintage and noticed that the brake light and turn signals were pretty dim during the day. And we have a lot of day around here. Looking at the list, it's a good thing I don't mind doing the maintenance myself. I sure wouldn't want to be paying shop rates for all of it...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Feels Like Winter


This morning, someone asked me if I have finally put the bike away. My response, not until there is snow on the roads.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This morning, the temperature was 17°F and with a report that there were several slick spots on the road, I ended up taking the bus into work this morning. It was wonderfully clear and sunny so I somewhat regretted my decision but its not like I can just run home and ride the bike. At lunchtime, I walked down to College Road for some Chinese food and came back on the ski trails. This evening, I headed down to the bus stop at Wood Center and since I was early, I decided to just walk around. Then, I just kept going and going and going until I walked in the front door. All in all, I managed to exceed my 10 mile daily goal. This month, that has been a rare event. Actual mileage for the day is 12½. According to the weather guessers, tomorrow is supposed to bring snow. At least the temperature will be well below freezing so there shouldn't be a lot of accidents.

Today was my initial screening meeting with WIN for Alaska for the current year. I set a goal of losing 10 lbs and dropping my BMI at least by 3%. Since I probably can't reasonably add more aerobic exercise, I need to increase the intensity and add in strength training. Something I have been resisting for years. Since we don't really need more junk around the house, I was going to start by using my coupon for the Alaska Club. The trainers there should be able to get me started on some sort of routine and maybe I'll keep going for a while.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Beautiful Morning

Another clear, beautiful morning which means that I was able to ride the bike in again. This was the view from West Ridge on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus looking towards the southeast a bit before sunrise. I like the way the moon looked as well as the clouds but I should have had more sky in the picture since that is what I was focusing on. Last night while riding, I noticed that you could see Denali so visibility is over 200 miles. I thought about taking a picture but with just the camera on my iPhone, you wouldn't have been able to see much. For times like this morning, it worked out great. And they say that the best camera is the one that you have with you. I.e. willing to carry.

After my unexpected encounter with ice on the road last night, I was a bit wary about riding in this morning since it was a cool 20°F. No ice and too much traffic for frost on the road and I was plenty warm. My only problem was the visor fogging up so I ended up riding with it cracked open. Kind of a hassle. I did consider walking in this morning since i feel like I need the exercise but I figured that there were so few riding days left, I should take advantage of all of them. I can start walking more once the snow flies.

Wednesday afternoon - It's up to 41°F but there is still ice in all the cracks in the road. I just walked down to lower campus and back along the ski trails and there is a fair amount of ice back in the woods. Those areas get very little, if any, sunshine so it isn't surprising. This is just about the ideal temperature for me. Not really cold but cool enough to get in a little aerobic exercise without overheating.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Icy Road!

The snow-free weather is continuing so I took the opportunity to ride the RT in to work again. Yesterday, I took the really long way home, going through the Goldstream Valley as well as running through town and Farmers Loop Rd before ending up a mere 6 miles from my starting point. It felt pretty cool this morning with temperatures in the low 20's. The old RT fairing offers pretty good wind protection so I didn't even feel a need to use the hand grip heaters. I tried them once and they worked pretty well though it seems to really tax the charging system on the bike. This morning was the first time I've ridden in the dark and the headlight really needs to be aimed up a bit. Maybe a small project for tonight. The temperature is now up to 37°F, still a bit cool but I'm looking forward to a longish ride again after work.

Tuesday evening - I took a very long route home to take advantage of the warmer weather. I ran into a reminder that is still getting to be winter. On a north facing slope of the Old Steese Hwy, I ran into a bit of ice on the road and noticed that there was snow along the road and in the driveways. I guess this section of the road didn't receive any sunlight at all. The bike felt pretty squirrely but I just kept neutral throttle and let the bike wobble and wander under me and didn't have any problems. The stretch lasted for about ½ a mile but it felt much, much longer. Other than that small section, it was a great ride. I saw a couple of other bikes including a couple of dual sport bikes headed north towards the haul road. One of these days...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Extended Riding Season

We are having warmer than normal weather here in the interior of Alaska. This morning, it was 28°F and clear and with no moisture on the road, so it was a great ride in. Since the weather guessers are projecting clear days for the rest of the week, I dug out the bike from the back of the garage. I rode in just before sunrise, a bit chilly on my neck but otherwise plenty warm. It has been a couple of weeks since I've last ridden and I was trying out a new pair of insulated gloves that a friend had given me so things felt a bit awkward. The fingertips of the gloves would touch the levers and that seemed to throw me. This is near Ann's Greenhouse near the base of Ester Dome. As you can see, no snow and the leaves are pretty much gone. I can only remember a couple of years when we haven't had snow on the ground by the middle of October so this is real unusual (or else I have a really bad memory). Yesterday, it had warmed up to the mid-50's and there were a lot of bikes running around but errands and other commitments kept me off the bike. In spite of winter, I don't think I could ever get used to living elseware. I just returned from San Antonio, TX, and I thought that their weather was miserable. Everytime I headed outside, my glasses would fog up due to the humidity. It was horribly warm and muggy the whole time I was there. Because of the weather, I got in very little exercise and arrived back home feeling very tired and run down. Activity, specifically walking, seems to really help me feel better.

Today, I heard that there has been a series of "last ride of the season" for the last three weeks by a group of local BMW riders. There is snow forecast for this weekend so maybe no ride this weekend...

Monday, October 5, 2009


Night photos using Autostitch and four iPhone pictures. I think it turned out okay.

The Alamo


The Fall Internet² Member Meeting is being held about a block away from the Alamo here in San Antonio, TX. It is smaller than I always envisioned from the movies on TV but maybe because it is surrounded by very tall buildings. I arrived last night and it is really hot and humid. I'm told that there was a storm here yesterday that dumped almost 5" of rain. Lots of flash floods in the surrounding hills. The hotel where the meetings are being held are really cold epecially in contrast to the temperature outside. I'm not staying at the conference hotel and my hotel is right across the street from the Alamo so I hope I have time to look around. Maybe they have some sort of tour.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Maybe I was a little premature putting the bike in storage. This morning was clear and crisp though the temperature was in the low 20s or so not unreasonable riding weather. This is a view of the Alaska Range, I believe of Hess and Deborah, from West Ridge on the University of Alaska campus. I don't think I'll ever get tired of the view. Most of the snow has melted, as expected, but there is more snow forecast for later in the week.

This is the Skarland Trail just north of campus. If the sun wasn't hitting it, the snow is starting to stick around. It was too nice of a day not to go for a longish walk. I took the Skarland Trail all the way down to Ballaine Lake before heading back to Wood Center to meet a colleague for lunch. I returned to my office using roughly the same route though without the added little loop to the lake. Now I'm thinking of leaving a bit early and walking home. After all, there probably won't be too many more days like today.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Snow!?


It's still snowing and I really don't believe that it will stick. I think the temperature is just above freezing. Finally got around to changing the oil in the truck more based on time rather than miles. It hasn't gotten much use over the last 12 months. Between the borough bus, the motorcycle and walking I think I've only put on a couple of thousand miles.At this rate it should last forever...

Saturday Afternoon - Lot of snow coming down. I'll be curious to see if it still around tomorrow morning.

Monday, September 21, 2009

End of the Motorcycle Season

Yesterday may have been my last bike ride of the year. This morning was gloomy and wet with snow being predicted for later this week. I should have gone on a longer ride. I wanted to use up most of the gas in the tank and I think I did that with about 180 miles on the odometer. Usually, I need to switch to reserve at about 200 miles. So tonight, I guess I'll drain the tank into a gas can for the snow blower and clean up the garage enough to move the bike to it's storage spot in the back of the garage. Kind of depressing. I still need to do some maintenance on the truck before winter so I may as well get enough cleaning done to move it into the garage as well. One of the blogs I follow is Redleg's Rides and his latest entries are about a Ural Sportsman he just traded his BMW R1150RT for. In case you aren't familiar with these, it is a Russian built copy of an old BMW with a sidecar and 2WD (the bike's rear wheel + the sidecar wheel). This should significantly extend the motorcycle riding season for him.

Last Saturday was the Equinox Marathon and I, due to lack of preparation, didn't enter. I had wanted to try and find a team to join but I didn't try very hard. Since I went to Barrow, my walking has really slowed down. Through most of the summer, I managed to walk just about everyday and now I am only about 150 miles from the next Nike+ milestone (3000 miles). I'm not sure what the incentive is now that I found out that mileage t-shirts are only available for the 1000 mile mark (and even those are usually sold out). All day Saturday, I was wishing that I had signed up for the marathon even though I know that I wouldn't have done too well. Actually, in all honesty, just like last year I would have been happy to just finish. Lately, my hips ached after running a short bit on campus and I believe that I need new shoes (again!). They sure don't seem to last very long. These only have about 4 months on them so that would mean about 1200 miles or so. They don't look that worn out but they sure feel like there is very little support of cushioning left in the sole. I seem to feel every step. Maybe that's why my hips are sore...

Tuesday Morning - Yep, little specks of white this morning. Not cold enough to stick but still to "iffy" for me to ride in. Besides, I actually did put the BMW away for the season in the back of the garage. I even cleaned up the garage enough to get the truck in. I still need to drain the gas tank on the bike but that is pretty simple since it is "old school" enough to have fuel petcocks on each side of the tank. In fact, one of the maintenance items on my list is replacing the O-rings in the valves.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gorgeous Morning!

This morning was not only sunny but also pretty warm. It is almost enough to make you think that winter wasn't just around the corner. I rode the bike in this morning and it wonderful. I haven't ridden for the last 12 days and it felt like I was going through some sort of withdrawal. I really wanted to go riding somewhere. Maybe this afternoon. I wasn't the only one who thought that this was a great riding day, the motorcycle parking area was packed when I got here this morning. This is in contrast to yesterday where there was only one bike (not me, I wimped out due to the 30°F temperature) in the parking lot. Last week, I was in Barrow and it felt really cold though in reality it was only bit below freezing. I guess the wind really made it feel cold and I must just be getting old...

Speaking of getting old, on Monday, I picked up a new pair of glasses. They are tri-focals and not progressive and a huge improvement over the old pair. The last pair I had were progressive and they drove me up the wall. Nothing was ever really in focus. Now I have these horizontal lines in my field of vision but the good thing is that everything is now in focus and, here's the major difference, all the way to the edge of the lenses. The progressive lenses are only in focus straight ahead so even something as simple as glancing at the side view mirror while driving, required me to turn my head so that I am actually looking at the mirror. Now that I can easily read the speedometer, I have no excuse....

Wednesday Afternoon - Clouds are moving in and it looks like it is raining towards the Alaska Range.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Did I Find the North Pole?

After all of my trips to Barrow, I think that I finally found the elusive North Pole. It is a little thinner than I remember seeing in books and on TV while growing up. Also I expected some sort of flashing beacon. And here all this time, people have been telling me that the north pole is located about 20 miles east of Fairbanks near the Santa Claus House. Actually, the tower is some sort of antenna in the process of being set up by a couple of researchers from Fairbanks and the striping is a reflective material so it can be seen in the wintertime by snow machine drivers. But it still looks kind of looks like the stereotypical north pole I've seen in cartoons while growing up.

Things have been going okay up here on this trip. I can't find a couple of boxes of VoIP phones that were shipped up a while ago. I was hoping to be able to configure a bunch of them to be deployed in the residential huts used by visiting researchers. Now, I guess I need to order some replacements. Things are such a mess up here....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Beachfront Resort

This is the first time I've seen waves like this in Barrow. I guess it is another by product of global warming. As you can see, the road is sort of losing the battle with the waves. This picture is taken about half way between Barrow and the Point (as in Point Barrow). The waves were much higher last night. This evening as we were driving back from town, I spotted a bunch of teenagers running through the surf even though there is snow on the ground and sticking. It was snowing when I flew in this morning and it sort of continued on and off all day long.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Techfest Geocaches

Today was another beautiful Fall day wih temperatures in the mid 60's and clear blue skies. Today's noontime walk was spent looking for geocache locations for the OIT Techfest event. I guess the idea is to post coordinates (as well as some other clues for those without a GPS) on a website. If you pick up a poker chip from each site, you can trade them in for a small techy prize as well as be entered in a drawing for something much larger. Only about 2½ miles but it was really nice to be walking around outside. I didn't feel wiped out today as I had a couple of days ago after a short walk so I must be pretty well healed up. It was a pretty chilly ride in this morning. I think the temperature was around 38°F or so. This may be the last weekend available for riding this year since I will be heading up to Barrow for a week. As last year, I didn't get anywhere near as much riding in as I had wanted to. I guess that is mostly my fault as I had a bunch of travel back in July. One of the prime riding times up here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Not Feeling Well...

I have, apparently, picked up some sort of flu-like virus and it has kept me somewhat bed ridden for the last couple of days. No fever or nausea, though I have to admit that it would be somewhat difficult to distinguish it from the Byetta side effect, just a headache and a bit light headed. No appetite either. Others in the house were down last week so it isn't difficult to figure out where it came from. A week ago, I made up a big pot of chicken soup but most of it ended up in the freezer so there is plenty of good, nutritious soup. I just don't feel like having any.

The sun was out this afternoon and I have to admit that I was really tempted to go for a short ride. But I convinced myself that if I was too ill to go to work, I was too ill to go for a bike ride. No matter what the weather was like. The other argument I used was that I was just staying home to avoid infecting others. But I wasn't able to talk myself into it. Hopefully, there will be more sunny days.

Wednesday Afternoon - Feeling better today, I headed to the university today partly to pay the fees for my son's classes and partly to pick up my laptop. I rode the bike in since it was a sunny day and to my surprise, quite warm. I really didn't need to liner to my jacket. I walked down to lower campus to the business office and on the walk back up, I really got winded. Kind of unusual since I have done this loop many, many times this summer. I guess I'm not quite "100%" and probably need to take it easy to avoid some sort of relapse.

I did end up logging 267 miles of walking for the month of August on the Nike+ site which was a personal best for a total of 2700.32 miles since I started posting on the site. I don't think that I will have any problem reaching 3000 miles before the end of the year but who knows what the future holds. I'll be heading up to Barrow again this month since the field season has wound down. It is easier to get things done when there isn't anyone around. We will be expanding the wireless MAN and deploying additional VoIP instruments on the NARL campus.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Walking Goal?

In one of the Nike+ challenges I've entered, one of the other competitors just mentioned that he had finished the Oxfam Trailwalker Challenge in Australia. It is a fundraising event to raise money for poverty. Anyway, the amazing thing is that it is 100km in under 48 hours and since the event is on trails, everyone must be in a team of 4 for safety reasons (everyone walks 100km). His iPod only lasted 22 hours so the entire walk didn't get recorded (only 55 miles!). Apparently, the winning time was in under 12 hours. I don't know about you but I am really impressed! After I read this, I started thinking if I even stand a chance of finishing such a thing. After all, it is roughly equivalent to 2 ultra-marathons back to back. I think I now have a new challenge to work towards. I wonder if there are any events like this here in Alaska?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Leaves Are Changing

Another sure sign of the end of the summer are the leaves beginning to change. To me, it all seems a bit early or, maybe, I have a bad memory. It was 38°F this morning on the ride in. You could see water vapor rising off of the wet areas on the road. Now that school has started, there is a lot of traffic in the morning. Many unpredictable drivers wildly weaving through traffic and for what reason, get to school early? I don't get it...

Last night, I finally got around to working on the BMW R100RT. I pulled the gas tank and carefully inspected the coils (one for each cylinder) looking for cracks but didn't find any. The plug wires were pretty grimy and touching the frame in several locations. This weekend, I will attempt to clean them up and maybe try and get some of the other greasy dirt in that area. Maybe I'll try and re-route the plug wires. Unfortunately, the only time the engine really runs rough is during a really heavy rain so I'm kind of at a loss on how to test. This winter, there is a lot of maintenance that I need to do on the bike. I may even go as far as pulling to heads to check for valve recession. After all, I'll have about 7 months to get it all back together.

I needed to walk down to UPark school this afternoon to pick up the car to run an errand and it was a great afternoon to get out and about. I'm not sure what the temperature is but I felt plenty warm. After running the errand, I dropped the car back off at the school and walked down Birch Lane to Fairbanks St, then along Geist and University back to the campus. I then took the bike path to Ballaine Lake then the Skarland Trail back up to West Ridge before heading back to my office. It was a wonderful walk and well within my allotted time and only around 10 km. Now I feel like finishing off the afternoon. I'm going to miss the mid-day walks once I start riding the bus again. I spend roughly 10½ hours at the university everyday so I can take 2½ hours off in the middle of the day to get in a nice walk. Since I had the errand in the middle today, I was only able to get in 6¼ miles instead of the usual 7½ miles. I still haven't even gotten tired of going on the same routes. There is enough options with the ski trails to keep me from going on exactly the same path every day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Looking Like the End of Summer

It must be the end of the summer since the WIN for Alaska afternoon walks are over as of last Wednesday. Today, they handed out the "prize" for attending at least 10 of the sessions this summer, a rather nice water bottle. Not that I really need any more water bottles. From where I'm sitting right now, I can spot no less than 5 and that's just in my office. More at home and rolling around in the truck. In spite of the light rain, I rode my bike in this morning in to the University and then on to a board meeting in town. When I came back to the University, all of the "Motorcycle Parking Only" spaces were filed with cars. Fortunately, it was getting towards lunch time and people were starting to head out so I was able to snag a spot. I guess people figured that no one was crazy enough to ride in the rain. I guess there is at least one crazy person riding an old BMW.

I never did get around to checking out the coil and now the gas tank is now completely full. There is a lot more rain in the forecast so I guess I may have the motorcycle parking to myself for the rest of the week. Riding in the rain doesn't really bother me very much but I tend to go around corners fairly slowly i.e. vertically, than when the road is dry. I also keep a sharper eye out for gravel and sand in the corners and puddles on the road. It's also a bit more difficult to spot the potholes when the road is wet. This morning before the board meeting, I was looking at a blog post with a lot of pictures taken during a ride in central Oregon. Sometimes I wish that there were more riding opportunities and a longer riding season around here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Riding to Mongolia

I have been reading a blog/travellog called Tiffiny Coates Travels the World logging a motorcycle trip to Mongolia on a 1992 BMW R80GS. Fascinating reading. I don't think that I will ever be able to make a trip like that. The closest I'll ever get is reading about one. There is some similarity to the Long Way 'Round trip but this trip is being done without all of the help at the border crossings nor having any support vehicles along with spare parts. The needed spares seem to be provided by locals along the way or brought by others volunteering to ride pillion for sections of the trip. I found this blog from another blog mentioning that she has arrived in Mongolia roughly on schedule. This is on a 17 year old airhead with carburetors and no fancy electronic gizmos or gadgets.

This morning, I passed on riding the bike in partly because I am almost out of gas and partly because of the temperature and the rain. I want to pull the tank and take a good look at the coil to see if there are any cracks. Until then, I would rather not ride in the rain since the bike is real difficult to start in the rain. I guess the tank is still pretty easy to pull when full just a bit heavier so maybe it is just a lame excuse. So far, there have been only a couple of things on the bike that had to be replaced or repaired so I shouldn't really complain. After all, it is 26 years old and I'm not trying to ride to Mongolia....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Renewable Energy Fair

Today was spent at the Renewable Energy Fair held at Chena Hot Springs Resort located about 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks. There was quite a turnout with cars parked all along the last mile or so of the road. They were showing off the low temperature geothermal power generator as well as a portable version for demonstrating up in Prudhoe. I guess the water coming up when drilling for oil has enough heat to generate a significant amount of power. The entire resort is running off of the power generated on site using low temperature hot water. The payoff for the system is expected to be 5 years.

It was a beautiful day out at the resort though it began pretty chilly. Due to all of the road construction, I'm glad that I didn't ride out there. The bus made for a fairly relaxing trip (except for a couple of really whiny women who seemed to be complaining about everything on the ride out. The speakers were pretty good with a mix of researchers from the University and engineers from commercial companies. There was a really interesting presentation about an experimental home built this summer in Anatuvik Pass. One of the goals is that the entire structure including all finish material needed to fit into a DC-6. I;m looking forward to the report next year as to how it survived the winter. I think that I will plan on attending the event next year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Too Nice to be Inside!


Today was way too beautiful of a day to spend it cooped up inside a building. After lunch today, I took a quick walk down to the gardens partly to take a picture but also to try and avoid the nausea I occasionally get from my lunch medicine (Byetta). It seemed to really help. This panorama is the Georgeson Botanical Gardens just down the hill and to the west of the Butrovich Building on the Fairbanks campus. As you can seen they do a wonderful job with the grounds.

It was a bit chilly on the ride in this morning, I'm told that it was a below freezing. There was frost on the car windows but I didn't check the temperature. The fairing and windshield on my bike do a pretty good job. But then again, I only have a short ride in from home. I still haven't looked into the rough running from last Sunday's ride. I'm kind of waiting for the tank to empty out a bit more so I can pull it an take a look at the coil.

There is an energy fair out at Chena Hot Springs this Saturday and I was thinking about riding out for the event. They have some pretty interesting alternative energy installations on the grounds and I think this is the 4th year for this event. I haven't heard much about it but they are also running free buses out there from the University. Maybe that would be a better option especially for an renewable energy event.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nike+ Update

Almost 2600 miles on the Nike+ site and I think I'm entered in over 20 challenges. The challenges are mostly with other walkers with a mix of short and long term challenges. For example, I'm still entered in the run around the moon (4219 miles, just over half way) and I have until January 2012 to do it. Plenty of time. Other challenges are for most miles in a week. Some are for distance goals others are for the most miles for a specific period. In addition to the challenges, I have several goals. One is an easy one, 80 miles per month, and another is a bit more challenging, 25,000 Cal per month. I've managed to meet both of those goals for the last couple of months that they have been set up. Here are the sole results from the NiKe+ activity, a picture of virtual trophies. What motivates you?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rough Running Bike

A small group from church went on a short ride towards Nenana. Actually, to the Monderosa, a small restaurant/bar about 5 miles outside of Nenana. It was raining when we left town and I preferred not to be part of a group in the rain. The newer bikes have much better brakes and features such as ABS than my 26 year old Beemer. After going through a couple of downpours, I noticed that the engine was running a bit rough. The "R" engines are pretty well balanced and the sound (and smoothness) have been compared to a sewing machine. It definitely didn't feel that way at the time. No apparent loss of power and the vibration went away when the clutch was pulled in so it was definitely the engine. Revving the engine didn't seem to have any effect. A couple of miles after the rain stopped, the vibration went away. About a year ago, Charlie6 had a post describing similar symptoms with his R80 airhead. He discovered hairline cracks in the coil as the source of the problem. Initially, my first thought was unbalanced tires, low tire pressure or a bad u-joint. I'm glad it wasn't anything like that.

Anyway, I arrived at the Monderosa about minute before the rest of the small group (4 other bikes, 2 of them were 2 up) without further incident. We had a great lunch. I had their jalapeño burger with a salad and it was great. Everything I've ever had there has been very tasty. They must have a very well seasoned grill. I rode back with the group and was kind of reminded why I don't like riding in a group. The bike in front of me would occasionally slow for curves much more than I normally would and I'm not a very aggressive rider. Also, I would rather not have to keep track of the bike behind me and adjust my position on the road to match. I have grown used to taking up the whole lane. I really enjoy the fellowship at the stops but prefer to ride on my own. Very little rain on the return trip. No rough running. I guess I should pull that tank and take a close look at the coil.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It was a beautiful, clear morning and remained so into the afternoon. There was a WIN for Alaska walk this afternoon. I took the "scenic route" down to lower campus, did the walk and took the scenic route back. This was good for 7.06 miles and I still have the WIN walk after work. I am still playing around with Doubletake to stitch photos together and I am still very pleased with the results. This panorama is taken from the east side of the Butrovich building just for a change of pace. The second photo shows the Alaska Range over 100 miles to the south. I've started playing around with a demo version of Aperature so I played around with this image quite a bit to bring out the mountains. So we have decent visibility today even though the fires are still burning around the interior. I think the report is that the fires are only about 10% contained.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cool Morning

I guess the weather guessers guessed right. It was below freezing this morning and I suspect many of those with gardens are a bit upset. On the other hand, it was a beautiful ride in. Since my bike has a full fairing, I wasn't bothered at all by the cool temperature plus I could actually feel a lot of warm air coming off of the cylinders onto my lower legs. Annoying when it's warm but just fine on days like today. I was a little concerned about ice on the road but didn't encounter any. A number of households in the Fairbanks area haul water in tanks and, frequently, some water spills out onto the road. Usually, it isn't a real problem but in the winter, some vehicles dump a lot of water and it freezes on the road instantly. You don't see it and you don't expect it.


Here is a stitched photo from the same area right next to the Butrovich building on the UAF campus. Still a little hazy to the east but you can almost see the Alaska Range again. Bright, clear and not smokey. This was stitched together using a program called Doubletake and it seemed to really do an excellent job.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Frost Advisory

This weather advisory was on the weather.com website this evening.
...FROST ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 8 AM AKDT TUESDAY...   THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN FAIRBANKS HAS ISSUED A FROST ADVISORY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 8 AM AKDT TUESDAY.   A COOLER AIRMASS MOVED INTO THE MIDDLE TANANA VALLEY FROM THE NORTH OVER THE WEEKEND. THIS CHANGE IN WEATHER PATTERNS HELPED TO CLEAR THE SMOKE OUT OF THE REGION...BUT NOW IT BRINGS THE POSSIBILITY OF A FROST. FROST TONIGHT WILL NOT BE WIDESPREAD. LOW-LYING RURAL AREAS WILL BE MOST LIKELY TO HAVE TEMPERATURES AT OR BELOW FREEZING TONIGHT. TEMPERATURES IN THE HILLS WILL REMAIN ABOVE FREEZING.   PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...   A FROST ADVISORY MEANS THAT FROST IS EXPECTED. SENSITIVE OUTDOOR PLANTS MAY BE DAMAGED BY COLD TEMPERATURES.   &&

It was nice and cool this morning during my ride in. I was tempted to take the scenic route in but I sort of got a late start so no detours this morning. At noon, I got a nice walk in since the weather was still nice. I even thought I saw a little bit of blue sky. This evening, it felt like a storm front was coming in. During my ride home, I got blown around a bit by the gusty winds. The gusts mostly caused by openings in the trees along the road. Only a couple of weeks ago, I was complaining about the unbearable heat and now we have frost. That's "fair weather".

This morning, I talked a bit with a local farmer outside of the Arctic Health building, and he was pretty worried about the weather forecast. We usually don't get frost quite this early. He thought that he may lose some of his produce. Now that the smoke is clearing out, I think that we may see temperatures go up again. At least during the daytime.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Time for the Fair

The Tanana Valley State Fair is running through next Saturday. One of my sons wanted to go hang out at the fair so I decided to go as well. I don't think I've been to the fair for a couple of years so it seemed like a good idea. We got there just after it opened for the day so most of the food and vendor booths weren't open yet. The Red Hackle Pipe Band was playing at the bandstand so I stopped and listened to them for a while. I was trying to use the Nike+ during my walk around the fairgrounds but everytime I stopped at a booth, it paused and needed to be manually restarted. So after a whole day of wandering around, it only registered 5 miles. Roughly half of what I actually put in wandering around. I tried to resist most of the really unhealthy "fair food" such as all of the deep fried stuff and the sweets but I did cave in and get the grilled corn and a smoked turkey leg (most of it is now sitting in the refrigerator). I enjoyed talking to a lot of the vendors and picked up a lot of brochures. The blood mobile was there so I took a half hour off to donate a pint. Picked up a free t-shirt from them. Seems like a fair trade. DOT had a lot of equipment on display and I picked up a hat (baseball cap) that actually fits. I have a large head and most caps are too small. So I now have a nice walking cap. I also picked up a nice metal water bottle from the bird observatory who were selling them as a fundraiser. I've been meaning to pick one of them up for quite a while. The rain stayed away for most of the day as did the smoke. All in all, it was a good day.

I passed the 2500 mile mark on the Nike+ site so I think I'm still managing to get enough exercise. I think I still rather use the iPod Nano with the Nike+ receiver since it doesn't need restarted as often. The iPhone will pause if you just stop for 30 seconds or so. The Nano allows stops of several minutes without having to be restarted. It just affects your speed which is fine with me. I would rather not have to check it continuously. The good side of the iPhone is that I almost always have it with me.

One of my goals at the fair was to check with all of the satellite TV vendors as I really want to switch away from the GCI ultimate package that I signed up for last year. I thought the bundle would be cheaper but they are charging more than they said they would and they keep harassing me to switch out my analog phone line for their VoIP product. The problem with their VoIP is that the power in Fairbanks isn't as reliable as it could be and the battery on the VoIP route only lasts about 8 hours. After that, your phone is dead. With an analog line, power from the phoned comes from the CO (Central Office) and it is much easier to provide an adequate backup power solution there than at all of the individual end station locations. VoIP scales better in the enterprise than at the home. I think that I did find a combination of DirectTV, AC Wireless plus ACS for telephone service. My project for the month....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

And I Thought It Wasn't Going to Get Worse


These are taken from the same location next to the Butro building on the UAF campus. The smoke has really moved in and visibility is very low. Even I would admit that today isn't a good day to walk. I didn't even ride in today. We are getting a little rain so that may help get rid of the smoke.



11:00 AM - The rain doesn't seem to be very helpful in getting rid of the smoke. According the this News Miner column, the visibility on the Parks Highway between Fairbanks and Nenana was around 20 ft. In addition, Alaska Airlines announced that they were suspended flights into Fairbanks due to to the possibility of engine damage from the ash. The air quality is listed as hazardous. No walking today I guess....