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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“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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Neat APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) yesterday:

APOD 20150512_TwoWorldsOneSun_Bouic_1080

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

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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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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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“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.

2015-03-19_Jean Ippolito charity award

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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:

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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“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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“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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January Moto

This weekend, it turned out that Sunday was even warmer than Saturday, when we went on a hike (evidence below), with highs in the 50s and sunny. In the middle of January. This is part of why I love North Carolina. Sometimes we get real winter weather here, but mostly we don’t. NC also has the best motorcycle riding roads in the North America (ok, the southern Appalachian’s have the best roads if you want to be accurate).

This photo from our moto tag ride this Sunday turned out kinda neat. (You know, ’cause we need more photos of our motorycles).


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A sunny winter hike

It was a beautiful warm and sunny NC winter day today. Highs in the upper 40s are nearly moto riding temperatures (for me, Kevin is good to go), but Cody was really glad we decided to  put cabin fever at bay and go for a five mile hike instead.  Took just a few pics of what I think is our first hike of 2015, where we joined lots of other people enjoying being outside at the always lovely Hanging Rock State Park.

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Link – The Robot Cars are Coming

…and I STILL CAN’T WAIT. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about robot cars.

This Wired article on Audi’s prototype self-driving car is an excellent report of the current state of technology for autonomous driving. It does a great job of dispelling the oddly pervasive (in my experience) myth that we’ll all just magically one day go from manual to fully robotic driving in cars with no steering wheels (or some such).  Instead, autonomous features are slowly being made available.

Check it out: I Rode 500 Miles in a Self-Driving Car and Saw the Future. It’s Delightfully Dull.

Some key quotes that I liked:

“Piloted driving is about safety and comfort.”

“Our experience is that our customer wants to accept first and understand first what they are getting, and what the limitations are as well,” says Schlinkheider. I don’t understand the opposition to robot cars at all. I get that some people like driving sometimes. I know I like the experience of driving on a curvy road. But not on a long, boring highway trip. Why the opposition to having options? Not everyone likes to drive all the time. Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to? Imagine the possibilities: safe texting and playing with your phone while going down the road, taking a nap, no more worries about drunk or impaired or tired driving, safe transportation for the elderly who really shouldn’t be driving any longer, blind people could have their own cars and use them by themselves. I could go on. The Audi car in the article isn’t there yet, but I have no doubt it will be eventually.

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Happy New Year 2015

Let’s start the year off right with more pictures of the neighbor’s horses in our front field from yesterday and today: (We got a fancy new lens for our camera for Christmas, so Kevin has been playing around with it. This photography thing definitely has a learning curve:)

2014 was another great  year for us, with the most obvious highlight being our epic moto trip to Alaska this summer. We don’t have any plans for trips on that scale for 2015, but we still have plenty to look forward to. Once again, we’re both excited about the coming year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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The Great 2014 Year End Link Dump

Lately, I have not been disciplined about curating interesting links, and posting them here regularly like I have in the past. Every time I look at my saved links, I get lazy, and think, “I’ll post that later.” The list has gotten quite long, and some of the links are getting a bit old. But there’s a whole bunch of really good stuff in there, covering a wide range of subjects. I can’t pick just one, so I’m going to clear out the list, and start 2015 off with a blank slate. Thus, I give you The Great 2014 Year End Link Dump. Happy Reading and Happy New Year! (You can thank me for the distraction later).

Moto/Auto Links:
Electric MotoCzysz E1pc Is Epic
Brammo Gets Dirty With Six Speeds
Visual Dictionary: Funny Motorcycle Terms You Should Know

People saying interesting things:
An interview with Lorde (I’m not supposed to admit I like her music but I do)
Quite Simply The Greatest Graduation Speech Ever Given. And Just 335 Words Long
50 Reasons We’re Living Through the Greatest Period in World History
An opinion on gun control – I kind of just want to point people to this rather than repeat myself over and over
Meet Patrick Byrne: Bitcoin Messiah, CEO of Overstock, Scourge of Wall Street – This guy is GREAT, and this article is fantastic
The Local-Global Flip, or, “The Lanier Effect”

Why Do Societies Give Up?
Chicago police stop immediate responses to burglaries and thefts
Government – by Frederic Bastiat, 1848 – should be mandatory reading
When Work Is Punished: The Tragedy Of America’s Welfare State

Retrotechtacular: Lighting the Way for Talkie Pictures with Optical Sound Recording
Celebrating 25 Years of Not Getting Lost Thanks to GPS
A Virtuoso Robot Band Whose Guitarist Has 78 Fingers (Of course Squarepusher wrote music for this)
AFTERGLOW – Lightsuit Segment (fun video)
A Rare Peek Inside Amazon’s Massive Wish-Fulfilling Machine

Design/Web Design
Why Jony Ive Shouldn’t Kill Off Apple’s Skeuomorphic Interfaces
Why Things Fail: From Tires to Helicopter Blades, Everything Breaks Eventually
How a Web Design goes straigh to hell – this. so much this.
Restaurant websites: Why are they so awful?
What I want from a restaurant website – again, The Oatmeal nails it :)

And finally, a couple of random food gifs
Chocolate Chip Cookies

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“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday, and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Andrew’s Great Adventures – crossing paths again

Remember when we met Andrew Siess this summer at a rest stop in North Dakota, on our way to Alaska on an epic moto adventure? (Third picture down on this page.) Andrew is walking (and sometimes running, or sailing) around the world. He took a couple of months off from his journey earlier this year when he reached his home in MN (he started in Italy over two years ago).

About a month ago, I noticed his facebook page said he was on the move again, and in TN. So I emailed him.  Fast forward a bit, and we got a call the Monday before Thanksgiving saying he would reach Winston-Salem that evening.  Let’s see: Andrew the world traveler, a random guy we happened upon in ND this summer, is passing within about an hours’ moto ride of our house, and its an unusually warm and sunny 70°F day in NC. Clearly  no more work was getting done that day: I baked some brownies for him to fuel his journey, and we rode off to find Andrew along the side of the road.


We managed to find him on the road not far from the end of his day. As expected, Andrew’s trip is as fun and interesting as ever. At least, I get a huge kick out of it. Our afternoon mission morphed into an evening hanging out with more fellow travelers and moto enthusiasts, listening to the stories of varied experience I love so much. For Andrew’s part, he’s on his way east right now, headed for somewhere on the east coast of the US, where he’ll leave for Portugal, to walk to his starting location in Italy. Safe Travels Andrew!

P.S. – Here is a great video about Andrew’s friends finding and meeting up with him in Mongolia: IDEA Finds Andrew

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Rosetta Spacecraft Comet Landing

Humans are currently (as in literally right now, the morning of 11/12/2014) trying to land a robotic probe on a comet for the first time.

Aside from the incredible technical challenge, the Rosetta Orbiter and Philae Lander are just cool; the lander has harpoons (space harpoons!) and thrusters and drills. Plus, the graphic supplied by the ESA (yeah, official graphic from the European Space Agency) in this article has an Imperial Star Destroyer in it for scale. That might be my favorite part.

The linked article has nice graphics and information explaining the mission, timeline, and links to more info. Good Luck Rosetta team!

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