Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good Bye 2017

Small accomplishments. According to my iDevices, I met my modest exercise goals for most months. All except August and September. In each of those months, I missed one day. Filling in all of the “circles” everyday for the year is something to strive for next year. The first picture is Tomorrowland at Disneyland. Not at all what I remember but a good backdrop for Happy New Year. The video below is a quick two minute summary from the year.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

New-Old Battery for the Ural

The Ural project of the day was more battery power. When the temperature drops, you have one chance to start the bike. The stock battery will turn the engine over about 4-5 revolutions before giving up the ghost. Usually, this is enough but the last couple of times that I had the bike sitting outside, I had to resort to the Antigravity battery pack. Which, by the way, works great. With it connected, the engine turns over much faster than with the just the stock battery. I still had the group 24 automotive AGM battery from the BMW/Cozy rig including the marine battery box. Since there are no plans for anyone to ride in the sidecar this winter, I removed the seat and fastened the box to the floor. I already had a set of two 4 AWG battery cables and ran them over to the stock battery location. I used the positive post on the stock battery as a terminal and moved the ground cable from the negative post to the battery hold down screw with all of the other negative terminals. What this really does is allow me to procrastinate on replacing the stock battery, Which is only three years old.

Other items that I hadn't installed this winter due to lack of riding are the handlebar muffs. Basically, something to block the wind enabling the heated grips and/or heated gloves to work. I completely forgot about these things. They are kind of a hassle to use as I can't see any of the switches. They are rigid enough to slip my hands in but they have pumped the kill switch. These are just the cheap versions from the local Sportsman's Warehouse but they work well enough. Ideally, I would like to install some Barkbuster shields as they would keep these from putting pressure on the levers. I need to make a constant effort to check that the levers aren't partially pressed due to wind pressure.

I also dug out the Bombardier Modular 3 winter helmet. It has a heated visor and a very claustrophobic face mask that re-directs your breath out the side of the helmet. I couldn't find the power cable but fortunately, it is simply an RCA audio jack.

Thursday Morning Update - Of course, with any change, you have to test so I rode to coffee this morning. A rather chilly -23°C (temperatures sound colder in celsius! It was only -8°F) and just a faint glow on the south eastern horizon.  Even with rig cold soaked, it started literally on the first compression. It didn’t run very well for the first few minutes. Unlike when it's in the garage, I actually let it sit and idle for maybe 5 minutes while I got ready to go. The winter helmet worked great. No fogging of either the visor or my glasses. After getting home, I put the rig back into "storage" as my mom is flying back to Fairbanks tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

First Ride of the Winter

I took advantage of a quiet day to take the Ural out for a spin. It was -5°F (-21°C) but I didn't want to bother digging out the Bombardier winter helmet. I regretted this about 10 minutes later as frost started to form between the Pinlock shield and the visor. It seems like at these cooler temperatures, the plastic used by Pinlock shrinks more than the plastic visor and the seal is lost. When I stopped to take the picture, I removed the Pinlock shield before continuing on. With it removed, I could periodically scrape off the frost from the inside of the visor. The visor of the Bombardier helmet is made double layer so moisture can't get between the layers to frost up. Next time.

I could tell that I didn't have as many studs in the rear tire as it would occasionally break loose, i.e. lose traction, when downshifting. Not really an issue as long as you are aware of it. I still haven't put on the handlebar muffs but between the heated grips and gloves, my hands were plenty warm. I was not intending to ride at these temperatures anymore but since the rig was out, then why not go for a little spin.

My son gifted me with an interesting kitchen gadget. An air fryer. It uses hot air instead of hot oil to cook food kind of like the hot air popcorn poppers. It works pretty well with results similar to deep frying. This morning, the hash brown potatoes were crispy on the edges and the only oil used was a light spray of olive oil. This afternoon, I had to try making fried chicken. I was impressed with the results. Just like regular fried chicken without the oil or the messy cleanup.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

A clear, cold day. Just about perfect for sitting around the house. The rest of the family took off to see the new Star Wars movie. Eventually, the BlueRay version will come out and I'll put off watching it some more. I pulled the Ural out of storage and charged up the battery. There is a slight parasitic draw from the PDM60 power distribution module. I didn't even try to crank the engine as the voltage was in the 11.5 VDC range. After letting the carbs refill with the petcock in the prime position, it started right up. The battery never really went above 13 VDC so it may be time for a new battery. I think that too many really discharges have damaged the battery. I'm a little torn whether to pick up a new AGM battery from WalMart or make up some new cables and use the group 24 battery that I had in the Cozy sidecar...

I had this post started a few days ago and figured that I better get it posted.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice

According to WeatherUnderground, the sun was "up" for 3 hours and 40 minutes today. In reality, we had snow coming down and dark clouds during our daytime. For the next six months, the days will be getting longer now that it is officially winter. Today's snow was heavy and wet and I almost needed to chain up just to plow our driveway. The most challenging part was just connecting the plow as the truck wanted to slide sideways. And this was just in our driveway. We need some real winter temperatures. It was an almost tropical 29°F today.

Things are pretty quiet around here. Still going to the gym a couple of times per week even if it's just to use the treadmill. I picked up the programming cable for the dual-band HT radio and using a free software package called Chirp, I set up the local repeaters plus the NOAA weather channels. There isn't a lot of activity during the day but enough for me to play around with. Still trying to get familiar with the repeater guidelines. Such as announcing that you're tuned in and listening or how to answer. There is another active ham in the area that has a call sign really similar to mine so I always need to use the phonetic alphabet for the last two letters of my call sign. I'm also starting to learn CW aka morse code as it is still used as the requirements are much more achievable here in Alaska.

I finally got around to installing the cables for the four golf cart batteries from the trailer. I then used the "smart charger" to do an equalization. With the garage temperature at about 40°F, that meant a charging voltage of around 15.6 VDC. The "smart charger" is designed for a 60 amp-hour battery and not the 430 amp-hour bank. But it eventually got it done though it took a few days. I then topped up the water in all of the cells again. None of the cells were very low (i.e. no plates showing) but between all four batteries, I added around 48oz of distilled water.

I'm finally done with the IPv6 video and it is now uploading to YouTube. I have it embedded below though I should warn you that the production value is modest, the target audience is pretty small, and it's almost 3 hours long.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

New Orleans and AGU (final)

While waiting for the airport shuttle, I took a walk to Bourbon Street. At one of the bars, there was this tribute to three well known jazz musicians. “Fats” Domino, Al Hirt, and Pete Fountain. This was one of the few places open in the afternoon. I found K-Paul's Louisianna Kitchen, one of the restaurants I had heard about back when chef Paul Prudhomme had a PBS cooking show back in the '90s. There was a sign in the door that said "Gone Fishing".

Bourbon Street itself was barely passable as it was being torn up. Not only the street but in many areas, the sidewalks as well. It’s kind of sad to see the stone and brick sidewalk surfaces being removed. So you need to move from one side of the street to the other depending on what was being worked on. After a couple of blocks of this, I headed a couple of blocks to the south and headed towards the hotel (roughly). I passed a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant that had a line outside the door. There was a sign stating no parties of one. Moving on.

For these posts, I just thought that I should include at least a couple pictures of this iconic street even in its current state. I suspect that there won't be a trace of construction in a couple of months for Mardi Gras. Some businesses were cleaning the area in front of their door. Others were full of trash and garbage. I overheard some tourists asking others why everyone is so rude. Like many other places, there are some but I don’t think it was the norm. Maybe in the more touristy areas such as the French Quarter. My flight home is leaving this evening getting into Fairbanks in the middle of the night.

There was a lot of discussion about the NOAA Arctic Report Card. Kind of a depressing end to my experience at this AGU Fall Meeting.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

New Orleans and AGU (cont.)

The morning block of talks I attended was the use of drones to study natural events such as volcanos, floods, and avalanches. What is notable is how much cheaper and how much more capable modern drones are. The DJI Phantom 4 has been modded to carry a lot of instrumentation with ranges of over 10km from the control point. The availability of cheap pieces and parts enable the price to drop by another order of magnitude. I.e. using parts from Amazon and 3D printers, they are building drones equivalent to the Phantom 4 for $140 versus $1500 for the commercial solution. The send block of talks were within the Cryosphere section so mostly ice and snow.

During the lunch break, I ventured outside of the convention center and headed towards the water. The last time I was here, the huge Hilton and attached shopping mall either weren't there or not as close to the water and you could just walk along the retaining wall. Not anymore. It was a pleasant 60°F but many people were wearing winter coats, hats, and scarfs. It was 40°F this morning when I headed towards the convention center so it had warmed up considerably.

I ended up walking towards Bourbon Street before I found what I was looking for. Regional cuisine. Since I couldn't decide what to get, here is the southern sampler. Starting at the 9 o'clock position going clockwise we have shrimp & chicken gumbo, red beans & rice with alligator sausage, crawfish etouffee, and fried green tomatoes with remoulade sauce. I was thrilled that my versions tasted similar though these were definitely tastier. Though I've never tried to make fried green tomatoes. They were basically flavorless though the remoulade sauce was pretty spicy.

Since my room was still being cleaned when I returned to the hotel, I headed up to the 18th floor to sit by the pool to start this post. I was somewhat surprised that I still couldn't see the river from this vantage point. The convention center is to the right of the Hilton and behind the Harrah's casino. This is kind of an odd hotel. The lobby is on the 11th floor though looking out the window it’s more like the 5th. Oh well, not complaining. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Orleans (cont.)

The walk from the hotel to the convention center takes me through the French Quarter, one of New Orleans’ biggest tourist areas. Lots of huge hotels surrounding the area as well as at least one casino. I’ve always heard of all of the great food in the area but so far, I haven’t found any. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough and not many opportunities to try any. The examples of things like red beans and rice, jambalaya, and gumbo aren’t any better (in some cases, worse) than what I’ve made at home.

For dinner, I met up with UIC Science and CPS personnel for dinner at The Maison. Live jazz (too loud), good company and better food (finally). I left them at 8:00 to start walking back to the hotel about 1½ miles away. On the way back, I passed Cafe du Monde, someplace I had heard about. I had their cafe au lait and beignets for dessert. Their coffee is brewed with chicory which is supposed to remove bitterness or something like that. Pretty tasty. The walk down Decauter and St. Charles was the New Orleans that I had remembered the last time I was here. The sewer smell was still prevalent though not as strong as it was the last time. People sleeping in doorways and every other shop was a bar or a voodoo place. IMHO, not a very pleasant place.

Monday, December 11, 2017

AGU 2017

First impression, the New Orleans Convention Center is huge. Or at least, really long. After picking up my registration materials (a light blue lanyard), I headed for the Cryosphere talks as they are always interesting. The walk through the convention center was probably almost a mile. I would end up making that trip several more times before the day ended. The hotel is about a mile walk to the convention center but this morning, I was offered a ride by a random person in the elevator. They needed to be there by 7:30am to chair a session and had called for a cab. I must've looked like I was headed for the AGU meeting. The morning talks were interesting and focused on the accuracy of the sea ice predictions for both navigation and heat flow. The room was packed. There are about 22,000 attendees not counting vendors and media.

Around noon, I went to a talk given by journalist Dan Rather. He had a lot of good things to say about the practice of science (friendly audience) and injected some humorous stories. He also talked a bit about "fake news" and how it has been going on for years. What has changed is the speed of propagation. Dan Rather was introduced by the president of the AGU and he also mentioned that this is the first fall meeting being held outside of San Francisco. I had heard that Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, where the meeting has been held for a number of years, is undergoing renovation.

By mid-afternoon, I had walked 6.5 miles and still needed to walk back to the hotel. Right now, I managed to nab one of the few tables and chairs in the convention center. The exhibits open up at 6:00 so I had a bit of time to write this post.

Evening Update - I passed nine miles when arriving at the hotel. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Party and Fall AGU

Saturday evening was the Fairbanks Amateur Radio Club Christmas Party. I still had no idea who any of these people were but I figured that this was a good way to jump into things. Out of the 55+ people there, I think I knew two and had met about another three. It was held at the Cookie Jar restaurant so the food was delicious and I met a few more people. And picked up more information on HF or high frequency as well as some of the digital transmission modes. HF encompasses the longer wavelength amateur bands which propagate farther.

Today, I was sitting on a plane all day to attend the AGU (American Geophysical Union) Fall Meeting in New Orleans, LA. The last couple of times I was in this city were pre-Katrina and during the summer. It was a pretty miserable place and I was not looking forward to coming down here again. When I arrived, it was a very pleasant 48°F. I'm not going to complain about that. Normally the fall meeting is in San Francisco.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Fall's Almost Over

"Fall" is almost done as we rush towards the winter solstice. Total daylight these days is around four hours or so. In a couple of weeks, the days will start getting longer again. I've shown the images from this site before as I like how they show the data. We are on the orange line at the bottom of the figure with extended dawn and dusk due to the shallow angle of the sun. You can also see from the figure, that the sun doesn't get more than a couple of degrees above the horizon.

Weather is on everyone's mind these days due to the unseasonably warm temperatures. Yesterday, around rush hour, it was raining which lead to a lot of radio traffic on the Ester Dome radio repeater. Traffic had slowed to a crawl and we really had bumper to bumper traffic for a change. People weren't very happy. Today was significantly better though the roads were still icy from yesterdays rain.

No riding and the only thing even remotely related to motorcycles was the monthly Airhead get together last Monday at the Roundup on South Cushman. No pictures...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

First Ham Radio

I haven't been posting much as there hasn't been much going on.

Thanks to an Amazon Black Friday sale, I picked up a hand-held, dual-band radio commonly referred to as an HT or handy-talky (Motorola-speak). It is made in China but distributed and warranted by a U.S. company. I also picked up a higher gain antenna than the standard “rubber duckie” antenna. It transmits on the 2 m and 70m bands (144 MHz and 420 MHz) at 1, 4, or 8 watts. Useful for local communication only and with local area repeaters. It took no small amount of Internet searching to find understandable directions for setting it up to use the repeater. Once you've done it once, it becomes easier. Taking the advice of an experienced ham, I cleared all of the settings and started from scratch. BTW, this changed all of the voice prompts to Chinese.

Starting on Friday afternoon at 3pm AKST and running for 24 hours, the local club participated in manning a Skywarn station. Apparently, many National Weather Service offices have an amateur radio in a back room for emergency communication. This is a photo of the NWS setup which has enhanced by the local club. A variety of voice and digital modes were used to contact others. I got the opportunity to talk with another operator in Calgary. My first HF (high frequency) contact. I hung around on Friday afternoon then returned on Saturday morning for a couple more hours.

I left the event around 12:30 to take the General and Extra class ham radio exams while they were still free. The rumor is that they will need to start charging a nominal fee for the use of the testing materials next month. I just made it under the wire to avoid the fee. I passed both exams with room to spare and now have my Amateur Extra Class license. Now I just need to figure out what all of this theory really means. The Skywarn exercise really helped to put real equipment and practice to the words on a page. Or should I say words on a screen. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Turkey Day

The NWS forecast was for maybe 2” of snow, we got a little bit more than that. This picture from our living room window was taken this morning. There is now a couple more inches. I did get the driveway plowed last night and again this afternoon so getting out of our driveway wasn’t an issue. I did get asked at coffee this morning why I wasn’t having my mom ride in the sidecar. After all, it was above 0°F. I had no real excuse except laziness on my part. Especially now that the grader came through our subdivision.

Thursday started out early as I volunteered to cook breakfast at a local church. Then came home and started making side dishes for dinner. A good friend is bringing the turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce. Other than that, not much going on.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Welcome to Winter

We usually have our first real cold spell right around Thanksgiving and, apparently, this year is no different. Right now, Tuesday, it is above 0°F and snowing. My mom will be visiting for the next couple of months and today we ventured out to College Coffeehouse. It was -16°F when we left the house and significantly warmer a couple of hours later. 

Not much else going on. I only have a couple more hours on the IPv6 video plus need to add some titles, credits and lower thirds but most of the hard work is done. Trying to get independent audio and video streams to be in sync and adding in slides proved to be more of a challenge than I expected. Plus there were a lot of slides. Some PDF and some PowerPoint.

Happy American Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Progressive IMS

Believe it or not but this was completely unplanned. The Progressive International Motorcycle Show (IMS) was at the Long Beach Convention center this weekend. I thought about attending on Friday but ended up going on Saturday. It was a pretty big setup with most manufacturers having large booths with a lot of bikes to try on for size. Harley was the only manufactuer with huge clamps on the front wheels to keep the bikes from tipping over. BMW had several of the new 310 cc models that are rumored to be available. The GS version was about as tall as the G650GS. I also tried out the Suzuki 250 V-Strom (I hadn't heard anything about that) and several Honda small bikes.

There were a number of show bikes including this shiny sidecar rig. Most of the show bikes were too odd to even be considered "cool" at least in my opinion, but maybe that’s my age showing. The Ural was sort of represented at the show by the Ventura dealer having four rigs there with a small selection of accessories on display. They were a lot of people interested in their offerings but kind of put off by the price and lack of performance. Maybe this wasn't the right crowd.

This rig was the very first bike you saw when entering the hall. There was a modest sized vintage display and this was part of it. Scooters were represented in the vintage display as well as by Honda and Vespa. Plus some huge scooters by BMW and some Italian brands that I didn't recognize.

This bike sporting chains was also in the vintage section surrounded by a bunch of people claiming that it was all for show as it was impossible to ride in the snow. Who was I to argue with them in their leather regalia.

I enjoyed the IMS as it was an opportunity to try out a lot of bikes for size. I've heard a lot about the CSC bikes but have never seen one "in person". And like just about every other bike there except the Grom, I was on tiptoes when I tried it out for size. I’m impressed with the CSC. They seem as well finished as anything else on the floor for a fraction of the price.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Yesterday was spent at Disneyland. For me, mostly at California Adventure since I had never been there before. It is built on what used to be the Disneyland parking lot. We met some friends of Bridget’s oldest son who got us park hopper passes for the day. Very generous of them as they are limited to the number of such passes in any given year. They get them as an employee benefit. We had a wonderful day exploring THPOE aka "The Happiest Place on Earth" and finished the day at the laser/water show (video to be added later). In spite of the crowds, I still enjoy the Disney parks. This one opened in 2001 which shows how long it’s been since I last visited. Actually, I was in the area about four years ago attending an Educause conference but was “strongly encouraged” not to go into the park. I didn’t and just spent an evening exploring Downtown Disney. 

Most of the photos of the day are still on my camera. I'm working on the IPv6 video today so I'll take a look at the pictures later. These photos, including the video, are from the iPhone. This one from the Little Mermaid ride was pretty dark. I was just curious how the phone would do. With the exception of the Cars ride, we mostly went to the less busy attractions. Some other guests clued us in on the "single rider" line for Cars. They seat three to a row and they fill the 3rd seat from the single rider line. Instead of a forty-five-minute wait, it was closer to ten minutes.

The Soaring ride may be my favorite. It was like you were flying over, under, through all of these well-known locations around the world such as Kilimanjaro, the Eifel Tower, the Great Wall, and Monument Valley. A very cool ride made even more interesting by the scents and mist coming out of vents towards you as while traversing the sites. We actually waited the forty minutes for that ride.

For me, the most disturbing part was a sore knee. This has never been an issue in the past even when walking three times the distance. Yesterday was only about nine miles. A distance I used to walk on an almost daily basis.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

WTRE in Fairbanks

This afternoon, there was a get together for the group of four KLR with home-crafted side cars, Where the Road Ends. They left Prudhoe Bay on Saturday (I think) and arrived in Fairbanks last night (Monday). Rich, the rider from Fairbanks shown in the picture, thanked me for the Grip-Stud recommendation though he only had them on the rear tire of his bike. He mentioned that he looked all over Fairbanks for more but couldn’t find any. I still had around a hundred left from my last order so they bought whatever I had. I also mentioned that Goldstream Sports had the smaller ones in stock. One of the employees was there and showed the size they had in stock and if they wanted some, she would open the store early for them tomorrow.

Most of them were using the screw style studs and were sliding all over the road. I mentioned that they only seemed to last around 20-30 miles before wearing out. That seemed to be their experience as well. JedR, one of the Fairbanks Ural riders, transported some of their rigs from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay in his trailer. They also have a support van and equipment trailer. I’m not sure what is actually being carried in the sidecar rigs. For cost reasons, they opted to design and build their own sub-frames and sidecars. They do seem very sturdy though the small wheel on the sidecar seemed an odd choice.

The sidecars will be dropped off as soon as they are done with the snow and ice. Initial plans were to drop them off in the Pacific Northwest. I wish the group the best of luck and will be following their adventures. Especially the notorious Darian Gap. Total trip duration is expected to be five months. Much more info is on their website and the following promotional video.

Friday, November 10, 2017

No Riding

It’s been a hectic week. And the Ural is still tucked in the back of the garage though now it is no longer surrounded with 540 lbs of gravel. All of that is not in the bed of the truck for snowplow ballast. Plus the truck handles much better on the slippery roads. When I tried to pull the tarp off of the plow, it was held down by a large block of ice formed from rain dripping off the roof and pooling on the tarp. The plow was moved into the garage to allow the block to thaw a bit. After a little prompting with an ice chisel, it broke loose.

The weather is less than ideal for riding. Many of the side roads have a layer of ice which is now covered with snow. Not as slick as it was while we were out of town but still bumpy with lots of ruts frozen into the ice.

This first picture was taken from the Butrovich Building at the university. I had stopped by my office to look for my old HP 32S calculator. You are not allowed to use the iPhone calculator during the amateur radio test and there are a number of questions where you need trig functions, log functions, exponents, and square roots. Much easier with a calculator and, in my case, easier if the calculator uses RPN (reverse polish notation). I haven’t used the calculator for over ten years. But the batteries are surprisingly still good!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Heading Home

It was raining in PA when we left this morning. It was raining in Chicago as we passed through. And it’s now raining/sleeting in Seattle. Not very nice traveling weather. Actually “passing through” Chicago isn’t really a good description. American Airlines refused to check our luggage through to Alaska so we had to retrieve our checked bags and re-check them in on Alaska Airlines. The rub was that they weren’t open for several hours. So we hogged a table at the Starbucks next to baggage claim for several hours. 

On Saturday evening, I did get a chance to visit an old friend that I knew in Fairbanks back in the early ‘80s. He was originally from Lancaster and opted to return there. We is a very talented carpenter/artist as evidenced by the canoe. Unfortunately, it was a short visit as we needed to get packed for our 5am departure for the airport.

This post was done using BlogTouch Pro on the iPad. If you tried clicking on the wonderful rainy window photo you’ll see that nothing happens. The app uploads smaller versions of the picture to conserve bandwidth. I don’t think that there is a better solution. Someone suggested Blogo but it won’t stay running for more than a minute at a time each time creating a new blank draft post. Not very functional for me. This is on an iPad Pro.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

E-Town, PA

On Wednesday afternoon, we arrived in Elizabethtown, PA, after a very early flight out of Chicago. This is not where we are staying but I thought that it was a pretty impressive building when driving up the entrance road. I ended up walking out later as there wasn’t anyplace to park the car. Shoulders on roads seem to be rare in this state. Why waste all the extra asphalt on an unnecessary bit of road. 
Oh well, I needed the exercise anyway. The weather forecast for today claims 70°F for the high. It felt really warm on my morning stroll at 58°F probably due to the lack of wind. West Chicago felt really cold with the wind and humidity. Right now, I’m enjoying sitting in a screened in porch on the third floor of a housing unit overlooking the local countryside. It really is a nice area to visit. 
On Thursday afternoon, we went to Hershey, PA, to visit the Chocolate Town store. Lots of chocolate including some varieties that aren’t available anywhere else. Such as the coffee mocha Hershey Kiss. The guy handing out samples said that they were “made right here in Hershey”. I told him that according to the animated TV commercial, all of them were made here. He replied with “you can’t always believe what you see on TV”.

But we did find Fall (again) but this time with some red. Something besides the boring yellows of Alaska. A lot of trees haven’t changed yet but it’s not like we are going to be sitting around waiting for the color change. And the forecast was right on. It’s 70°F right now at 3:30pm. Pretty nice. Especially when compared to the ice storms we keep hearing about back in Fairbanks.

This post was done on the iPad and to get the formatting I wanted, I needed to use the BlogPad Pro app to upload the photos, BlogTouch Pro for easy text entry, and Mobile Safari to fix the html formatting errors generated by BlogPad Pro. And even then, the pictures are still lower resolution versions. Someone needs to write a good iPad, Blogger compatible posting program. There seems to be good WordPress apps but no Blogger apps. I prefer Blogger due to the Google authentication for commenting. For some reason, that seems to be missing in WordPress. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Another Day, Another Flight

There was a lot of traffic in the Chicago freeways at 6am. Where is everyone going? We are back in the airport waiting for an American Airlines flight to PA. Here at O’Hare, TSA has there act together especially when compared to Fairbanks. It was a long line but it was moving almost continuously. Plus, just like before all your stuff remains packed. No complaints here. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

West Chicago

We arrived in Chicago on Saturday morning 24 hours after we planned on due to a mechanical problem in Fairbanks on Thursday evening. We stayed at the La Quinta near the airport since it wasn’t much more than the Uber/Lyft charge if we went home. It’s nice to know that they have a “local” discount. All weekend, I’ve been getting messages from public safety on the horrible roads in the Fairbanks area. Freezing rain, ice building up on the roads. It seems to be a good time to be out of town.

We spent Saturday wandering around West Chicago through several shopping areas. We had lunch at Portillo’s for a Chicago style hot dog. Complete with bright green relish and small peppers. A nice treat. In the afternoon, we stopped at Cantigny Park to take a short tour of the Robert McCormick House, the beautiful grounds, and the 1st Division Museum. This is our grandson and his mom enjoying the sunshine in one of the many gardens. He was semi-patiently waiting to go climb on the many tanks on display such as the M41A3 pictured below. 

The 1st Division Museum had quite a few exhibits highlighting some of their history and many battles. There was even an virtual reality display using Oculus Rift headsets of an urban warfare training exercise. Lots of memorabilia and personal stories were highlighted with some very well done large displays. Around the outside were over a dozen tanks from a tiny (this is relative to some of the other tanks) M1917 up to an M1 Abrams. They permitted people to climb up on them and the ground was well padded with what looked like recycled tire material. A great museum honoring many great individuals. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tasks Mostly Completed

Let’s see how I did with my tasks…

  • Remove RV house batteries 
  • Remove anything that has a battery 
  • Disperse de-humidfying buckets
  • Empty cabinets and leave all cabinet and refrigerator doors open
  • Cover RV
  • Install wooden frame for ballast
  • Move snowplow clean garage 
  • Park Ural in front of the Prius
  • Remove 5th wheel hitch
  • Place ballast in the bed of the truck
  • Remove generators and prep for storage
Oh well, eight out of eleven isn’t too bad. Plus the truck is now parked in the garage again for the first time in a while. Getting the RV covered was no small task. Warm snow on a rubber roof is kind of slippery. It’s not lined up perfectly but I was getting very wet crawling around on the roof. Arctic RV completed the grim task of replacing all three of the dump valves. They also replaced all of the insulation as they said it was in pretty bad shape from mice. The RV is being stored in their lot. 

I finally found out what my Call sign is. KL4PD. They originally said that it’ll be a week before it showed up in the FCC database. But it actually took around three weeks. And I’m now studying for the General and the Extra license. I’m amazed at how much electronics I still remember as there is a lot of it in the review materials. I’ll be taking those exams in the beginning of December. Still not sure what to do with the license…

Monday, October 23, 2017

Welcome Back to Fairbanks

You leave town for a bit and look what happens. Winter arrives. This was the temperature on Saturday morning. One of the regulars at coffee mentioned that it was -12°F at his place a few miles west of Fairbanks. Of course, it didn't stay this cold all day and by late afternoon it was up to 20°F again.

This week I need to get the trailer straightened out as in storage, cover, batteries removed, dehumidifying containers, cupboards emptied, etc. The original plan was to store the trailer next to the garage but due to the delays in getting it repaired, it will probably winter over at the RV storage lot. Not my preference but I don't want to try getting it into our driveway with the snow. As it was, I needed 4WD to get it out of the driveway at the end of August. The other task for this week is getting the truck set up to plow snow again. This means removing the fifth wheel hitch and reinstalling the wooden frame to hold the bags of gravel in place near the tailgate. I should probably remove the generators and add some Stabil to the gas left in the generators. I already added it to the gasoline left in the gas cans, the lawn mower, and the snow blower. I may even rearrange things in the garage sufficiently to park the truck in the garage again. We'll see how it goes this week.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

San Francisco - Day 5

This morning was a cool 50°F but I didn't need to be to the conference hotel until 9. I picked up a cream cheese & tomato bagel on the way. It's a great combination. This was the view from the meeting room looking towards the bay and it may be the best view I've had this whole week. My 7th story room looks out into an alley at a brick wall. Today (Thursday) is also the last day of the meeting. I head home tomorrow morning.

Here is a picture of the group that is meeting for most of the day. The group is made up of network engineers from either research universities or regional networks. In some cases, it's the same individual.

This picture would be a good Apple advertisement as the room is about 80% Mac, two Microsoft tablets and most of the remaining PCs are running some Linux variant. I believe out of the thirty six participants, two are running Windows. It would also be a great example of why STEM education initiatives are so important. Out of the 36 participants, only 3 are women.

Just in case anyone is interested, here is the preliminary list of topics...

Discussion Topics and Notes
  • Next Generation I2 Infrastructure
    • Equipment
    • End-to-end
    • Flexible Edge
  • How can I2 improve cloud connectivity
    • What does the community need
  • SDN for real, not just as a plaything.
    • Intentionally provocative language for the title. Most of what I see in terms of SDN is point solutions (often around the Science DMZ) that seem more oriented towards solving the problem of not having SDN. That’s fine at small scale, and it adds spice to the job, but is it really scalable? What does real SDN in a production, campus network look like? Probably not what has been done to date.
  • Automation
    • Ansible and Salt
    • Docker, Docker Swarm, Kubernetes
  • IPv6
    • State of IPv6 implementation on campuses across US - SLAAC vs DHCPv6
    • Device registration portal with IPv6 support - does such a thing exist?
    • Challenges in tying IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to a user without .1x
    • Experiences with NAT64 or some variant
  • IPv4 - Buying more space vs. NAT?
  • Data Center Networking:
    • Virtualization of the networking
    • NSX? Contrail? ACI?
    • Extending to the Cloud
  • Wireless
    • 5ghz only SSID?
    • Device Registration & Fingerprinting
    • Service Assurance
  • On-campus speed test/self network diagnostic tool solution
  • On-campus CDN installs
  • Security topics
    • DNS RPZ feeds
    • Border/Edge Firewalls
    • IDS/IPS in-band/out-of-band
    • NAC & Client Posture Assessment
  • Traffic flow and pcap monitoring tools
  • R&E Connectivity
  • Cooperative grant funding projects and ideas