Sunday, July 29, 2012

Arches National Park

I used to go down to Arches National Park all the time when I was in high school and in my 20’s.  You could pull into their campground before noon and almost always find a spot.  On the occasions the campground was full, there was the beautiful Potash Road, along the Colorado River just down the road, where you could always find a spot.

I don’t go as often anymore.  Moab has become a huge tourist destination, and getting a spot in the Arches campground means booking it 6 months in advance.  Exactly six months, because that’s when reservations open online and by 12:05 that morning at least half the spots are booked.

And the last time we camped down the Potash Road, we felt like we were in a bad horror movie when two groups of teenagers (one on each side of the river) were shooting rifles in the air well after dark set in.

So, I don’t go down there as often.  Once or twice a year my brother and nephew-in-law will book 2 or 3 sites and portions of my extended family go.  Last time I partook was the summer of 2010.

These pictures are from the year before, all in the same general area inside the Arches campground, all on the same evening.  I took them with my Nikon D40x, on a tripod, in manual mode.  The beauty of digital photography is that I could just take a bunch at different settings and sort out the good ones when I got home.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cleanup, aisle 4.

Monday is the annual city cleanup for my area.  I get to put all the crap that has been cluttering up the side of my garage out onto the parking strip, and the city will haul it away.  Keeps me from having to go out to the dump.

I have a couple of years worth of stuff, the last few years the city scheduled my area right around the end of the school year.  I have neither the time nor the energy to deal with it at that time, but fortunately this year they left me until the end of the summer.  That’s the wood pile (above), chairs that have been sitting out in the weather for years and the planks from when I replaced the back deck.

That’s the metal pile (above), the old swamp coolers from the garage and the house and a decrepit old propane barbeque.  Or at least it would have been.  A metal scavenger came by before I had even piled everything on.  But I knew that would happen, I purposely make a separate metal pile so they won’t leave the other stuff strewn all over the place as they go through everything for the metal.

And I kind of count on it, since there is a limit to the amount of stuff the city will pick up, and after 4 years of collecting I’m pretty sure I had too much.  Not anymore.  And as long as it’s gone I don’t care if the city takes it or some guy who can make a few bucks off it.

Either way, both sides of my garage are now clear of crap.  I’m happy, and my neighbors who had to look at it all this time are probably happy too.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Got this in an email today.

#1 and #5 are my favorites.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Note to self:

All fan belts are not created equal.

I got the new motor all ready to go on the new swamp cooler, tightened up the fan belt and plopped down on the couch to enjoy the cool.

Lasted about 45 minutes, when it just stopped.  I checked the breaker switch, it was fine as evidenced by the water pump still pumping water.  I went up top and realized the motor had overheated, it was quite hot.

So I loosened the fan belt, a lot looser than you would ever want your car’s fan belt.  Almost an inch and a half of play in the belt.  That would squeal like hell on your car.

I had to wait a bit for the motor to cool off, but it’s been running for several hours now, and as you can see from the temperature gauges, it’s working quite well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ahh, the smell of aspen in the evening.

The new swamp cooler is up and running.  It only took 3 days and half a dozen visits to Home Depot.

Right now it’s doing a fantastic job of cooling down the house, and since the pads (the straw ones made out of aspen) are brand new, the house is full of the smell of aspen.

There is worse smells the house could be full of.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cat on a hot tin roof…

and “Anatomy of a Swamp Cooler”.

My swamp cooler bit the dust.  I’ve been planning on replacing it since last summer, it’s over 15 years old and rusting out all over the place.  I was hoping to get one more complete summer out of it, but the pulley on the fan broke and the spot where the water shut off valve bolts up rusted all the way through.  (It’s a thing a lot like in your toilet bowl that automatically stops the water from overfilling.  Without it securely attached I’d have a river flowing down my roof.)

I was up on the roof, ripping out it’s guts so that I could remove it to I’d be ready for a new one.  It’s only just past the middle of July, there is no way I’m going to make it through August without one.

Denny decided to come keep me company while I worked.

In the first picture, he was on the side of the roof that falls a whole foot down to the deck I built so I can work on the cooler.  But at first he was on the north side of the roof, which made me a little nervous.  It’s only a one storey house, but it’s still a good 15 foot drop.

Fortunately, he’s ok and sleeping on the chair right behind me.

Anatomy of a Swamp Cooler : caution, the following pictures are graphic shots of my disemboweled swamp cooler.  Not for the faint of heart. 

The Swamp Cooler skeleton.  Metal top, four corners and the water pan at the bottom.

It’s epidermis, the four pads that become the sides.

The lungs, the fan that pulls the air through the water soaked pads and into the house.

The guts.  The heart, the water pump that gets the water up to the top of the pads so they get soaked.  The muscles, the electric motor that turns the fan.

There ya go, more than you ever wanted to know about a swamp cooler, aka Evaporative Cooler.  I hope it wasn’t too gory for you.

Scenic Sunday

Thanks to Cashjockey, I found another outlet for my photographic interests; “Scenic Sunday”.  As the name implies, it theme is scenery, so here’s my first submission.

Somewhere outside of Eureka, Utah.  Contrary to some misunderstandings about my state, you can get alcohol here.  And from these pictures, it looks like even the horses enjoy the occasional brew.

‘Cause if it isn’t the horses they’re advertising to, who it is?


Friday, July 20, 2012

Yet another Facebook find.

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’ve become addicted to Facebook.

I’ll also admit that the only reason I get on is to check out what funny stuff people are passing along.  If it’s funny, I’ll “like” it.   If it’s very funny I’ll “share” it forward.  And if it’s really very funny, you’ll see it here.  Like this one:

And some of them hit so close to home, I just can’t help personalizing them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Virginia, the Mayans weren’t saying the world will end on Dec 21, 2012.

According to the Mayan Calendar, my birthday is, and today is, which makes me just 2.65 K’tuns old.

Quick Mayan Calendar Overview:

It’s set up on a modified base 20 system, and my guess is that the modification is to keep the Tun as close to a physical year as possible.

The Mayan word for a day K’in
20 K’in Uinal
18 Uinal (not 20, the modification) Tun (20*18=360, making this close to the 365 days in a year)
20 Tun K’tun
20 K’tun B’ak’tun
20 B’ak’tun Piktun
20 Piktun Kalabtun
20 Kalabtun K’inchiltun
20 K’inchiltun Alautun

If you’re thinking “WTF"?”, consider our system, which is a modified decimal (base 10) system.  Day, week = 7 days, month = about 5 weeks, year = 12 months, decade = 10 years, century = 10 decades (100 years), millennium = 10 centuries (1000 years) and so on.

So, what does this have to do with the end of the world, or lack thereof? 

In the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012 is their date  They didn’t stop their calendar on December 20, 2012 because they believed that there wasn’t going to be a Dec 21, but because it was the end of a B’ak’tun.

Kind of like saying there isn’t going to be a 2020 because the calendar I made only goes up to December 31, 2019.

If you want to look up your birthday on the Ours to the Mayan calendar, open up this pdf file of the spreadsheet I made.




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More Orange.

Caught these pictures just as I was leaving a friend’s parent’s house.

It’s common in Utah for rain to evaporate before it hits the ground.  It has it’s own name, virga, and here it is happening right at sunset.

Visiting my father in Berkeley, I saw this orange, ball like gazebo in the yard next door to the house my dad was renting.

Stumbling around the internet.

I recently discovered, a site that picks random sites to send you to depending on the interests you select on their site.  One of my interests, not surprisingly, is photography.  I stumbled upon an animated gif photo that inspired me to try my own.

Another one the interests I chose was humor.  There’s a lot of really funny stuff out there, but you have to sift through all the stupid stuff to get to it.

But sifting pays off.  Saw this picture and Googled it to make sure that it wasn’t photoshopped. 

I found out that there was a General Joseph Hooker, and there is even a statue of him on the Massachusetts State House grounds.  Ironic, considering it’s in the state living with the Kennedy family reputation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Toaster on wheels.

I always said I thought they looked like a box on wheels.  I like this better.

(I just Googled it and found out that “Brave Little Toaster” is both a book and an animated movie)

Thematic Photographic: Arange

Yeah, I know I spelled “orange” wrong, but that’s how my students spell it when they are making fun of the way I pronounce the word.  (Kind of like car-ange, without the “c”).  They also have fun when I talk about harazontal lines and carrasponding angles.  My first 14 years in the Boston area still sticks with me.

So, here are my first few orange pictures.

In Algebra we learn about input and output of linear functions.  We talk about plugging in a number, into the x position in an equation like y = 2x + 3, and figuring out what y value goes with it.  With these orange cones we form a grid, the coordinate plane, on the lawn and they each get to be a number, their x value.  They stand right by their cones, on the x axis, and then I show them an equation and they have to calculate their y value and walk to the position on the plane for their point.

After about 3 or 4 times they catch on to the fact that it always forms a straight line. Some of them begin to wait for the others to figure out their position, and then they just get in line with the rest.

They think they’re getting away with cheating.  I think they’re learning an important concept about linear functions.

In a junior high school, even Captain Janeway needs to wear a bright orange hall pass when she leaves the classroom.

This last one, even though only one letter is orange, I stumbled across while looking for the other ones, and just couldn’t resist adding in.

It was right after the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, the students were making up signs to collect pennies for the Red Cross efforts there.  I had to tell them we couldn’t use this one.