Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallows' Eve Romp

On a whim, I had signed up for a "virtual run" where they send you a number and a t-shirt for participating and you just find somewhere local to run and log your time on their web site. On Monday mid-morning, I left the hut intending on just staying in the shelter of the NARL campus but ended up on the main road to Point Barrow. I turned around at the road into the DEW line site and went to Cakeeater Road before returning to the hut. It was still really windy but since the wind was coming off of the ocean, I didn't have to run directly into it. The total was 3.27 miles according to the gps on my phone with a time of 43 minutes which, for me, is fast. Running on the snow was much easier on my knee than the bike paths and roads are in Fairbanks though you do have to watch out for ice. Sometime I don't know why I sign up for things like this as I don't think it was "fun" or anything like that. But if it wasn't for this, I probably would not gone out and ran while in Barrow. I returned to Fairbanks that evening but wanted to do my run in Barrow since it was much warmer. 28°F is still feels warm compared to  10°F.

I didn't receive my bib number in the mail until yesterday. I needed it to enter my time on the website. Not that I plan on winning but just wanted to log that I did do something. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Washed Out Road

I had heard that the road to Barrow Point was washed out by a storm last week during a meeting and I was encouraged to go out and take a look at the road damage. I ran out there a couple of days ago but neglected to bring a camera. Today, after sunrise (10:56am), I drove out again to take a couple of pictures. As you can see, the waves have pretty much washed out the road and even to get this far, you veer off onto the old military runway that parallels the road. The speed limit sign is where the road used to be. The "new" trail still has waves breaking over it so I imagine that it is pretty waterlogged so I didn't venture out much further.

There isn't much elevation so any sort of storm surge could wash out the road. This section of land separating the Beaufort Sea to the northwest and Elson Lagoon to the southeast, isn't more than maybe 150m wide. There was a fairly strong wind blowing from the northwest at about 30 knots and but in the leaky hut it sounded like a hurricane last night. The hut is about 100m from the water and this morning everything, including the stairs and the truck, was covered with a layer of ice making things difficult.

This is the ocean view from the hut and as you can see, it isn't that far away and the 20-30 kt wind is continuing this evening blowing spray from the ocean. There is nothing to block the wind anymore. For a couple of years, there was a Shell project which had a pile of equipment and shipping containers on the lot between here and the ocean but that stage of the project is now complete. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Small Robot

Today at the BARC Saturday Talk, a program to share science with the community of Barrow, a group of engineers and technologists gave a brief talk and demo of their robot designed to travel on the underside of frozen lake ice. It is tethered, for now, with control signals and stereo video signals traveling on the tether. It moves very slowly as you will see on the video. This is my first attempt to upload video using the Blogger "Compose" window so consider this an experiment. The full video of the talk has been encoded but not readily available until a better publication method can be found...

Since I hadn't eaten much of anything today, I decided to go to Osaka's and have some of their wonderful Japanese food. I ordered the small sashimi platter and the sushi chef made me a complimentary roll as well. In addition, they threw in a nice bowl of rice with seaweed and sesame seeds. It was a wonderful treat as the quality of the sashimi is first rate. It was more food than I was planning on but you can't really turn down a gift...

The wind is really howling tonight. It was challenging just opening doors. It's a good thing that it isn't really cold as well...

Update Sunday Morning - Due to iOS viewing issues, I uploaded the video to YouTube first then re-inserted it into the post. My initial attempt was to just upload from the Blogger interface since I assumed that it would just put the video into YouTube, another Google property, but apparently not.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Frozen Lake View

Just a really short post for today.

The NARL hut I'm staying in has a nice picture window with a view of a lake, at least the view is nice during the summer. As requested, here is the view of the lake today. As you can see, there isn't much to see which is why I didn't include a picture in my last post. The view is right along the shore of the frozen lake. I included the poles or else the camera didn't have anything to focus on. This is looking southwest towards Barrow. The lights are most likely the incinerator which is right next to the road to town. This afternoon, I went further northeast a few miles to see the erosion from last weeks storm. The road to Point Barrow is almost non-existent once you get past the whale baleen "palm tree". The ocean is still
open water and until it's frozen, there will be a lot of fog. The temperatures feel almost tropical compared to Fairbanks with temperatures here being right around 30°F. (This is an old picture of the "palm trees" taken quite a while ago.)

Much of today was spent making changes to the network and testing. It was done without any impact to the handful of users still around. Tomorrow, I need to make some unexpected changes to the VoIP system to accommodate the network changes. At 1:30pm, there is going to be a talk by a group of researchers from JPL. I'm told that it should be interesting.

Later on in the evening - I was just moved to another hut since there was plumbing problems with the last one. This time it is one of the larger, four bedroom houses (vertical walls instead of a quonset hut) again with a nice kitchen and living room. Here the windows face the ocean but it's too dark and foggy to see much.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back To Barrow

It seems like it's been a while since I've been to Barrow. A couple of weeks ago, we de-commissioned a bunch of servers located in the Barrow data center that provided services such as storage and authentication. I need to get new software installed to support the VoIP telephone system. The newly de-commissioned servers give me the opportunity to start fresh instead of trying to upgrade the existing servers. This seemed like a good opportunity to get this task started as well as take care of some requests from Umiaq, the science logistics provider. Plus the Alaska Airlines PFD sale is going on now.

The previous Alaska Airlines flight leaving the gate in Fairbanks was one of their nicely painted Boeing 737's. In this case, the "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon". I think it's actually a flying billboard for the Alaska seafood industry but I'm not going to complain about it. I like the way it looks.

There must be so few researchers working in Barrow these days that I was assigned the deluxe hut with multiple bedrooms, a very large kitchen and a huge living room. Most of the quonset huts used for visiting researchers are divided into two apartments but this one is not. There is even a nice view of a now frozen lake out of the picture window in the dining room.

Since the kitchen is fairly well equipped and I am going to be here for five days, I stopped at the local grocery store for some breakfast and dinner items. Just to give you an idea of what things go for when you are far from the nearest Safeway or warehouse grocery store:
  • 18 ct eggs - $7.39
  • 2# whole wheat spaghetti - $6.25
  • Bottled pasta sauce - $6.99
  • Parmesan/Romano cheese - $6.39
  • Frozen winter vegetables - $4.89
  • 12 pack Diet Coke - $12.29
But it's still way cheaper than eating out every day...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chrome on Windows XP

This post is the third of a series posting pictures using the Blogger "Compose" interface using both Mac and Windows XP. In this test I was using Chrome on a Windows XP virtual machine (VM) on my Macbook Pro. The VM software I'm using is Oracle Virtual Box as it is free for personal, non-commercial use and is as fast and full featured as VMWare which I also have installed. 

I moved the other two posts to Draft status after seeing what the behavior was during the editing process. The photos are just a sampling of what was in my Export directory and probably have appeared on the blog before.

Another Test Using Windows

I was curious if it was a Windows/Mac thing but probably not. My last post was done on my Mac using Chrome. This post was done on IE8 on Windows XP. The only difference is on the "Insert image" dialouge box I have to select each image to upload seperately. I can't simply ctrl-click to select multiple files. Other than that, the experience is identical. All of the images except the third one of the VW bus are on the local drive and uploaded just by using the "Insert image" dialog box. The VW is hosted on Photobucket and was added using the "From a URL" option. On all of the pictures I can choose the size by just clicking on the picture and choosing from the box hovering over the photo.

For Bobskoot

I'm not sure if this is going to help as I am unable to duplicate the problem. In this post, I added 13 images 11 of them directly from my picture export directory and two from Photobucket. Please excuse the formatting as the X-Large thumbnails don't really fit within the theme I'm using for this blog.

I opened the page for a new post and selected the "Compose" view. Selected the "Insert image" icon and added these seven photos. After the pop-up window disappeared, I was able to click on each image and got the little hover box shown on the left with X-Large as one of the options.

I then added two more photos the same way and they were inserted at the current cursor position. I also made these X-Large. I then moved the cursor to the end of the post... (please page down for the rest of the text)

Icicles on the NARL Bottled Water Plant

Back Door of NARL 2 aka Theater

First of a series from the BARC balloon launch platform

... and added a couple more photos from Photobucket by hovering the mouse over the thumbnail and clicking on the URL next to "Direct link" which copied the URL into the clipboard. I returned to the "Compose" window for this post and clicked the "Insert image" icon again, clicked on "From a URL", inserted the URL in the clipboard from Photobucket and clicked "Add selected". I was then able to click on the photo and select X-Large as with all of the other photos. The cursor does return to the top of the page but the image gets inserted at the original cursor location. The only hassle was the two screen captures at the top and here where I wanted the text next to the images. I needed to select HTML mode and insert a couple of characters where I wanted the text to go and went back to "Compose" view to add the rest of the text.

Dalton Highway

Plastic Flowers in the T-Field

Monday, October 22, 2012

Autumn is Over

After 5 days of light snowfall, we are back to clear and visibility unlimited which means that winter has arrived. This is the 8:30AM view to the south east as the slow transition to daylight begins. Sunrise still isn't for another 40 minutes and we are losing daylight at the rate of 6 minutes per day. I don't think that I will ever get tired of the view of the Alaska Range to the south. Mount Hayes is the highest peak near the center of the picture at 13,832 feet. Reality has finally set in and I packed away all of the bike and camping gear that was scattered around the garage so there is now room for a second car inside.

Now that winter is setting in, it seemed like the "perfect" time to shut down the boiler for some routine maintenance (that I could have easily been done last summer). We get our domestic hot water from a heat exchanger inside of the boiler and over the years it gets calcium and other inorganic minerals built up inside the copper tubing. The way you clean is is to isolate the heat exchanger from the water system with a couple of gate valves and circulate a fairly strong hydrochloric acid solution through the heat exchanger until it flows freely. The water in the boiler should be near room temperature when this is done. I had plumbed the system with the appropriate valves and hose fittings to simplify this job but it still meant that there was no heat for several hours. Fortunately, the house is fairly well insulated.

The University of Alaska pays the borough a lump sum every year to enable anyone affiliated to ride the bus just by showing their university ID card. I'm attempting to take advantage of this benefit as much as possible though it is challenging to make it to the bus stop in the morning. If I do ride the bus, it ensures that I will get at least 3.8 miles of walking (or running) in per day. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunrise is Getting Later

The sun was still below the horizon at 8:30 this morning. I love it when the sun shines on the bottom of the clouds from over the horizon. You can also see that we got our first dusting of snow today and it continued to fall for most of the day. I did manage to get in one last ride yesterday afternoon but wasn't out too long as the bike was feeling a bit "squirrelly" due to little patches of ice on the road. We have a lot of households in Fairbanks who haul their own water. I.e. they have a 300 gallon tank in the back of their pickup and buy water in town and haul it to their house where they empty it into a water tank. If they are sloppy, water overflows into the truck bed and on every uphill section, water dribbles out onto the road which promptly freezes into a patch or a strip of ice. So on any uphill section, you need to examine the road for these patches of ice. I think that it's about 1¢ per gallon if you haul it yourself and about 6¢ per gallon delivered.

By evening, most of the snow was gone but the forecast is for continued light snow for the rest of the week. I guess riding season is really over. Some have been asking about a sidecar. The owner of the nice Cozy sidecar currently attached to his R100/7 agreed to sell me just the sidecar. He also has a subframe he purchased from Dauntless Motors/DMC still wrapped in the original shipping material. Jay from DMC, confirmed that there is very little difference between the /7 and my RT and the subframe should fit just fine. Since I didn't really want to learn how to drive a sidecar rig in the middle of winter, we agreed that I could pick it up closer to Spring.

I ended up riding 9,470 miles this riding season and averaged 40.0 mpg. The mileage isn't too bad but not great either. It has been steadily dropping since about the middle of July which suggests carb work. Another local Airhead member volunteered to go through the carbs with me as I have never taken apart a constant velocity (CV) carburator such as the Bings. The maintenance list for the bike isn't too long this Winter.

  • Transmission input shaft spline lube
  • Replace rear brake pads
  • Grease and adjust the rear swingarm
  • Rebuild carbs
  • Replace fork boots
  • Replace front fork oil
  • Replace brake fluid
  • Replace oil in transmission, drive shaft and final drive
  • Replace fuel filters
No long motorcycle trips are planned for next summer.

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    The End of the RIding Season?

    Today may be the end of the riding season for me. The temperature sign at the entrance to the University claimed that it was 9°F. I probably should've parked the bike there and took a picture but no place to park. We still don't have any snow though the weather guessers say that we'll see some next week. For me, parking the bike is simply adding Stabil to a full gas tank, removing the side cases, plugging in the battery tender, draining the carb bowls and putting it up on the center stand in the back of the garage.

    This week has been consumed by a technology conference for the university community sponsored by my department. Lots of sessions including speakers from Apple talking about their continued commitment to the educational community. There was a session on iOS programming that I found interesting enough to download the development environment. As if I needed something else to do. Today was also a great presentation by a local professional photographer on shooting RAW and the mandatory, minimum post-processing using either Lightroom or Aperture.

    Now I just need to retrieve the geocaches that we placed as part of the technology conference.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Reynolds Rack and Case Mounts

    It's nice when things actually fit together. I got the rack and the case mounts installed on the bike last night. On my way north last summer, I noticed that my right rear shock was leaking oil and could no longer be adjusted. Kind of annoyed since it was only a couple of years old. I dug through my parts shelf and pulled out the original Boge rear shocks and put them back on. The rack uses the upper shock mounting bolts as one of the five points where it attaches to the rear subframe. The rear case mounts are much sturdier than the stock ones and, surprisingly, they side cases fit on them better. You can see the screw holes in the rear cowling just below the seat. This is where the stock rack attaches to the seat. Not a very sturdy mounting location.

    The top box must have been made with this rack in mind as all of the screw holes lined up between the rack and the box though I need to fabricate some spacers between the bottom of the box and the rack. I'll also need to patch up the holes I drilled in the box last June when I mounted it to the old rack. But there's plenty of time for that.

    On my ride in this morning, I couldn't really feel any difference in the ride with the shock swap so I'll call it good for now. The roads were nice and clear with no black ice. I probably only have a couple more opportunities to ride this year until the snow sticks. I was reminded that I had never fixed the heated grips since last May as it was 28°F when I left the house. 

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Post 666

    This is my 666th post on this blog.

    Welcome back to the real world, or at least that is what the weather was saying to me this morning. After the 80°F days of Philadelphia, I came home to rain. This morning was dark and raining but since it was still above freezing, it looked like one of the few remaining riding opportunities I'll have this year. The heated liner kept me nice and toasty warm though I needed to ride with the face shield mostly open due to fogging. I hear the pinlock visors don't have that problem but, unfortunately, they don't make the appropriate visors for my helmet. I don't get much opportunity to ride in the dark and with the rain, my 25 year old technology headlights don't put very much light on the road. It just forces me to slow down. The rest of the week looks promising.

    Four years ago, I picked up sturdy Reynolds rear rack for my bike with the intention of using a top case. What I didn't know at the time was that I needed different side case mounts as the stock ones would no longer work. The eBay seller didn't volunteer this tidbit of information. I recently contacted a reseller of BMW airhead parts and they had several sets of these mounts in their inventory and their price was very reasonable. They arrived while I was gone and now I have another project.

    This rack positions the top case about 2" closer towards the center of the bike so it doesn't hang as much past the rear wheel. The rack also pivots back to allow you to easily open the seat. With the setup I used on my road trip, you almost needed to remove the top case to get access to the under seat strorage. Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures. These tiny images are screen grabs from a scan of an early '80's Reynolds catalog posted on the Internet.

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

    Meeting an Old Friend

    Over thirty years ago when I was working at JPL, I had met a wonderful couple fresh out of grad school. After I moved to Alaska, we gradually lost touch but through the wonders of the Internet, I heard back from him. He had run into this blog and I discovered that they were now in rural PA. I had gone out to visit my father in-law and take him out to dinner when he mentioned the shopping mall in Lancaster. This sort of poked my memory and brought up Jay and his family as they lived in the same area. We met up, talked and had lunch at a local restaurant.

    We went out for lunch and I had the Pennsylvania Dutch version of chicken pot pie for lunch which bears absolutely no resemblence to the picture on the right. It is more a chicken stew with thick, homemade noodles. Maybe closer to homemade chicken and dumplings but the noodles are better than dumplings. It was a wonderful treat to see Jay again and hear what has been going on for the last thirty some odd years. Unfortunately, his wife was out of town. Maybe next time...

    I made it back to PHL just a few minutes under the 24 hours of my car rental but easily made my 6:00pm flight. It took hours to get our of Philadelphia yesterday evening due to the heavy traffic with over three hours travel time to go only 80 miles. I had rented a compact but the rental agency was out and just had me take a GMC Terrain SUV. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the 34mpg average for my 200 mile trip. The evening flight to Seattle had a wonderful view of sunset which lasted about three hours since we were heading west.

    They seemed to get better and better as the flight wore on. Right now, I'm sitting in the Sea-Tac airport waiting for my next flight back home to Fairbanks. I hear that it has been raining but no snow. The weather forcast is for sleet and snow for the next couple of days so I guess it may be time to park the bike.

    By the way, the new Logitech keyboard combined with Blogsy and Verizon connectivity make this iPad a wonderful blogging tool. Even with the photo uploads, email and browsing, I have only used about a third of the monthly allowance that I purchased for the month. And all of the locations I've been on this trip have had the new LTE service which is as fast and in many cases faster than the hotel wi-fi. It is simple to upload and format photos though I still need to manually mess with the html if I want the text to wrap around the pictures.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    Walking Around Philadelphia

    Around noon, I headed out back towards Independence Hall. Across the street from city hall, which itself is a very impressive old building, is a garden of statues. What I didn't expect was all of the old building completely surrounded by all the new, modern high rises. It is most apparant in the photo of Independence Hall. In all of the pictures I've ever seen, there was never a high rise building behind the bell tower. I guess that's why they have PhotoShop. It was a very hot and humid walk with the humidity occasionally turning into rain.

    Not really knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there wasn't even an admission charge to see the Liberty Bell. There was a short line in front of me but there was a nice little museum that I could explore until the crowd moved on. I'm not sure why tour groups feel that they all need to move around in a clump. After taking my photographs, I looked into one of the double decker bus tours around town but decided to pass on the $25 charge. I headed back towards the center of town stopping briefly to have a light lunch at a mall food court.

    I stopped at the Franklin Institute which is a science museum but there were piles of school busses parked in front. There must have been a hundred people in line for admission plus it was $37. I also decided to pass. It may be a great museum but it was already 2:30pm and they would only be open for a couple more hours so it didn't seem worth it. There are numerous art museums right in the area around Logan Square so maybe tomorrow. I went to the Suburban Station which is where I will be catching the train to the airport tomorrow and there was another pretty nice shopping mall between all of the train and trolley areas.

    Friday morning update - The Franklin Institute has multiple admission prices. Basic admission is $16.50, more reasonable amount. The higher admission gives you access to the Dead Sea Scrolls special exhibit and an IMAX movie.

    The Franklin Institute is the oldest science museum in the U.S. and it was worth going to. The Exploratorium in San Francisco and OMSI in Portland have much more extensive exhibit space and more hands on exhibits. The planetarium show on black holes was pretty good though I don't have many others to compare it with. It would have been nice to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit as I have been fascinated with that since I was a kid...

    The steam locomotive, a 350-ton Baldwin 60000, has been in the museum since 1933 after only a short time in service. It is huge! This shot is looking from the rear of the tender towards the front and, as you can see, the wheels of the tender are driven as well. Three boilers and coal fed by a screw into the firebox. The railroads decided that they didn't want such a heavy engine as it was increasing track maintenance costs so the engine was donated to the museum (yet to be built) and the building was built around the exhibit. The train does move as part of the exhibit (10.5 ft @0.06mph) and there was a wonderful staff member to guide visitor through the operation of a steam locomotive.

    If you thought that typing on an iPad keyboard was awkward, try this typewriter. The inverse circular arrangement of the keys would really make it difficult.

    One of the major attractions is a walk-through heart and I couldn't figure out a way to get a decent photo, but this bone bench seemed almost as interesting to my mind.