Horse pics of the day

“I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine.”  – It turns out that horses apply that expression literally. Who knew. (Probably people who know more about horses than I do). I feel bad that the flies must be bothering them, but its awfully cute to see them giving each other back scratches.

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More on driverless cars

Great TED talk on autonomous driving.

 

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QotD

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
― H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

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A little camping trip

Avoid this intense heat by going up into the mountains! Pretty fun for a first camping trip and visit to the mountains for this Florida boy; campfire and hot dogs and smores, a hiking trip the next day with family, and ice cream at the end. The family photo group shot was blurry, so disappointing.

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River Rats

It must be summer; look at this crew out for a little paddle on the river.

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Citizenfour

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ― Benjamin Franklin

I would modify that quote to say the illusion of safety.

If you haven’t seen the documentary Citizenfour, you should. If you don’t think that the issues brought to light by Edward Snowden are some of the most important issues of our time, then you aren’t paying attention. We, as in humans on earth, for the first time in history, have to answer the question of whether its ok to have effectively omniscient government(s). (Answer; no it isn’t).

The NSA (and others) built the the panopticon (with our tax dollars, in secret, and then lied about it to congress). There is currently no legislative or judicial oversight (you know, checks and balances). The information they are gathering on everyone (with no requirement for warrants or even presumption that you did anything wrong) is potentially one of the greatest tools for oppression ever created. Right now, all we’re depending upon is the goodwill of those wielding that power that it won’t be abused. That’s not good enough.

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QotD

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.” ― Thomas Sowell

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Cornerspeed at VIR

It’s time to share another incredibly fun motorcycle experience: Kevin and I attended the Cornerspeed riding school recently, which is held on track at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Neither of us had ridden on a track before this school, and we were both a bit nervous about what we were getting into.

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Me chasing Kevin on track at VIR

The TL:DR version is that Cornerspeed is an excellent riding school that puts on a first class event, and I can recommend it without reservation as an advanced street riding/intro to racing school. If you are a street rider with at least a moderate level of experience (this class is NOT for beginners), then you will definitely learn something and improve your riding technique by attending this school. While the class is a bit more race oriented than I need, its intended to improve overall riding technique, working on skills that translate very well off the track. (Its ok; racing is what Aaron Stevenson knows, and clearly loves, and has an amazing ability to teach.) I would say most street riders of a fairly wide range of skill levels will get something useful from this class; until you’ve made it into the advanced group at track days, Cornerspeed has something to teach you. Even then, unless you are a high level pro-racer, you WILL learn something about how to ride a motorcycle from Aaron Stevenson.

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Scenic Ride

A few pics from a recent ride in Jefferson National Forest, which included a few miles of unpaved forest roads:

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QotD

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction” – Albert Einstein

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MotoMark1 Maximum Control Level 1

A few years ago I set an informal goal to take one moto riding skills class every year. I started with Cornerspin in 2012 (which set the expectations mighty high for excellent moto riding class experiences, plus Kevin took that with me as well), and I took Lee Park’s Total Control in 2013 (which I also found worthwhile).  Then I dropped the ball in 2014 and didn’t make time to take a class.

I’ve gotten more organized about moto classes for 2015; I spent a recent Saturday taking the MotoMark1 Maximum Control Level 1 class.  Its another parking lot class to work on technique, but with emphasis on the really slow speed stuff, which riders know is often the most difficult to execute in the real world.  Drills involved cone weaves and u-turns, and the instructors are motor officers, who often teach other law enforcement. If you want to get into moto gymkhana, this is a good class to take.

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APOD

Neat APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) yesterday:

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Images of a sunset on Earth and on Mars, more explanation here.

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QotD

An amazing prediction for 1926:

“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole.  We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance.  Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.” – An interview with Nikola Tesla by John B. Kennedy, Colliers, January 30, 1926

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Spring

One of our dogwood trees is really putting on a show these last couple of weeks:

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Quote of the Day

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” ― Winston Churchill

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QotD

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” ― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

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Laser Mosquito Zapper

I am irrationally excited about this “photonic fence” that uses lasers to track and kill bugs.  Here is the IEEE article, which makes valid points about fighting malaria:

Laser Bug Zapper Inches To Market

Favorite quote: “We cooked the bug with a lot lower power than we had thought possible.”—Arty Makagon, Intellectual Ventures

CAN. NOT. WAIT. When can I have this at my house? I might be making pew pew “laser” noises at my desk right now.

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Relatives in the news

How neat. Congrats Jean!

Jean Ippolito is the 2015 recipient of the Alice B. Tompkins Community Service Award, given annually by the Community Roundtable of Brandon.

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http://tbo.com/brandon/woman-lauded-for-her-charity-efforts-20150318/

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QotD – Tax Season Edition

“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” – Frederic Bastiat, 1848

Full text here, which should be required reading:

http://bastiat.org/en/government.html

Text copied below so you have no excuse not to read it: For extra credit, read Bastiat’s extended essay “The Law”, a fast read well worth your time.

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QotD

“Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.” – Marcus Aurelius

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Ski Winterplace WV

Yeah I know I just got back from skiing in Utah. Ski season is short here in NC, and you kinda have to take what you can get, and go as often as you can. 21″ of fresh snow at Winterplace + friends skipping work to go play = me spending all day Friday on the slopes:) Temps were really cold too, with a high somewhere in the teens. Bright sun and almost no wind meant I actually managed to stay warm and enjoy the best snow of the year.

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Thermal Imaging Camera

We finally broke down and bought an infrared camera (its for work, I swear). The Seek thermal camera is (I think) the first to market for android devices. You just plug it into the usb port, and use the app and device/phone display to operate the camera.

Naturally, Kevin was playing with it 5 minutes after it arrived. The colors auto-scale to whatever the camera is looking at, so each color does not represent an absolute temperature, just the relative temperature within that shot. Here is Cody and his cold nose:

Taken with SAMSUNG-SGH-I337, Android 4.4.2

When I got home from my ski trip, we both though this photo of me with a cup of hot tea came out pretty neat:

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Ski Park City UT

Took a ski trip with some friends to the Park City and Canyons ski resorts in Utah last week. This is the first time I’ve skied out west, and I am now officially spoiled forever. All the talk is true, east coast skiing is pathetic in comparison. The resorts in Utah are huge and absolutely amazing, and we had an awesome time. I will definitely be back.

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QotD

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.” ” – Robert A.Heinlein, Time Enough for Love (1973)

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Ski Beech

Actually managed to take a group photo during a ski day a couple of Fridays ago. Its a sort of terrible cell phone shot, but in fairness, the weather was pretty terrible and it looked about like that in person anyway. Waterproof outer layers, friends, and surprisingly decent snow for most of the day meant it was fun regardless of the wet and foggy conditions.

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