Saturday, November 29, 2008

Post-Thanksgiving hike

We had planned a day-after-Thanksgiving hike, but the Scouts who needed it for advancement didn't show up for the final check / permission slip / rendezvous meeting. So I went with the dog to check out the intended route, given the paper map and even Google Earth might be outdated or misleading.

One possible trail was on Joppa Farm Road from U.S. 40 westward. Once I started walking it, though, I decided it wasn't that great for a group, as the railroad bridge has a one-lane passage with a partly blind curve, and before Route 7 could be reached the road narrowed with no foot path other than ditches on either side.

Joppa Farm road near railroad tracks

Then I went south from the Little Gunpowder Falls to the Big Gunpowder Falls. Even though the U.S. 40 bridge has no parking near the river, I thought I could find a spot to leave the car(s). At Jones Road I found an abandoned motel that would serve in a pinch, though it wasn't a great option. Hiking west from that spot on Jones Road I passed an industrial area that seemed worth avoiding, but then found a large open area that turned out to be a nearly unmarked parking lot for the State Park.

Interesting water bars/trail steps - large wood chunks with routed-out cross hatch patterns, only they're angled down the trail rather than off the trail. I think the path is more stable than it would be without these improvements. They could use a little rework perhaps, to direct runoff to the side of the trail better, and to cover the full width rather than partial, since we tended to walk on the unimproved side.

The view at stream level was spectacular, especially given the fact this is near several highly traveled East Coast corridors.

For later reference, here's a Google map to the trail head parking lot:

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Close up of one of the water bars

Water bar with credits

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shiny thing

Getting into the car the other day, I noticed a shiny thing on the parking lot of the supermarket. I hesitated, as another car was pulling in next to me and I wasn't sure how they'd feel with me lingering around with my door open, crouched next to their car.

But I managed to get in the car, slide my cell phone out and take a picture while acting nonchalant. I took several, in fact, and none turned out very well. This one is the best of the lot:

I cropped it vigorously, so it ended up as a 14KB JPEG. So far, since February 2008, I've uploaded around 200 pictures, and am still under 10MB and less than 1% of my 1GB of space on picassa. Crop, crop, crop, compress, compress, compress

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Door knob

It was broken, sort of. The middle hallway doors just sort of hung there.

I took off the old one (photo 1), replaced it with a new one (photo 2). But the 2 doors didn't meet correctly, which was part of the original problem. Getting them to fit would require lowering the strike plate. Photo 4 shows where I started. Movie clip 1 shows me drilling out the new mortise an inch lower than the old one.

Photo 5 shows chiseling I needed to do to recess the strike plate. The old one was simply screwed onto the door frame (with round head screws no less), and looked bad. Photo 6 is a demo of chiseling, but not an action photo (use 2 hands for sharp blades). The next to last photo shows the plate target while the last photo shows the screw being started. The old screws were probably 1/2 inches long and the new ones over an inch.

The final video is the door closing with a satisfying clunk.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You've got to give it away

Last year, I followed the story of One Laptop Per Child and the attempts to build and distribute a $100 computer for the world. There were start-up, distribution and political challenges, not to mention some personality conflicts, from what I could tell. While I thought about donating money to the cause recently (not sure what reminded me of this worthy endeavor) but just didn't quite get around to it. Then, I saw a message on twitter that the "Give One, Get One" program was starting up in 2008:

@ScottMonty: One Laptop Per Child is now on Twitter: @OneLaptop. You should follow this very worthwhile education project. 10 days ago

I started following that account, as Scott Monty suggested:

@jspath55: now following @OneLaptop 10 days ago

Shortly after, I rephrased why I was following:

@jspath55: RT @OneLaptop T-Minus 6 Days until launch ...Spread the word!! 10 days ago

Mark Finnern replied/retweeted, but with an editorial comment:

@finnern: RT: @jspath55: RT @OneLaptop T-Minus 6 Days ... -- Read Richard Stallman first Ability to tinker is essential to change 10 days ago

I looked at what Mark referred to, and found what I consider a tired argument about which computer operating system is purest to qualify for charitable giving. For one thing, if I'm making a donation, I don't need to please anyone but the recipient. For another thing, Mark was incorrect by inferring that these computers include Microsoft Windows; they don't. Hopefully some of the nearly 500 people that follow Mark read my reply:

@finnern "Only Linux-based XO laptops will be available through Amazon, said ... vp/sftware eng/at OLPC. A Windows version will not be sold" 9:46 AM Nov 12th

@finnern See re the "read Stallman first" comment. Read it, then make up your own mind. 9:48 AM Nov 12th

That last link leads to

I ordered 2 from Amazon on 20-Nov-2008. The gift system goes wherever the one laptop per child program decides. The system that goes to me I'm planning to give away to a local charity. Another online friend suggested I keep the laptop that will be sent to me. Maybe if I do this again later.

As I was cleaning out my bill pile, I found a letter from the House of Ruth. It suddenly dawned on me that was the place to drop off the other machine. As I looked at their web site to make sure this was workable, I saw this link:

I'm used to seeing public service announcements for online safety directed at kids, protecting them from abusers, and at adults, protecting them from financial predators. This was a different, and likewise scary scenario, where women need to protect their internet browsing to sites like the House of Ruth, bus tickets, shelters or housing ads might be clues to an abuser.

Besides the donation I plan to make as soon as the shipment arrives, there's this wish list of necessities:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I just want to embed a KML file in a URL

I built several variations of:

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The zoom kept acting funny, I had bad syntax. So I'm giving up for now.

At least I was able to retrieve the archived KML files I had on the now-departed Baltimore County Public Library internet host. I have no idea how to find the places I sent out as:

Because that doesn't work any more.

But this does:

Embedding it in a web page is a little harder...

View Larger Map

Friday, November 14, 2008

To project euphoria, or how to make euphoria a project

Last night (13-Nov) I went to a screening of the film Euphoria at the Senator Theatre in Baltimore City. I heard about this via my son's Facebook page, and spread the word to a few friends and co-workers. The crowd didn't fill the theater (it's a big place), but it was a respectable size for a weeknight, non-Hollywood, sort-of-art film.

Dinner plans were amended due to my son's roommate having a 5PM class; with the film start set for 7:30 it was a quick dash down York Road and a bite to eat at Ryan's Daughter Irish Pub and Restaurant. A recommendation for Saigon Remembered didn't pan out.

Before the film started, Senator owner Tom Kiefaber introduced the film, gave background on the state of the building and other film news, and said they were using a digital projector, not needing a distributor to work directly with the film producers.

Tonight (14-Nov) and Saturday, the same high definition video projector will be used to screen a film on the Kelly Bell Band. Kelly Bell is well known around Baltimore, and around music circles, but his appearance in the Euphoria film is not to be missed.

I won't try to describe the film, as this isn't a review, other than to say, "you must see this." I bought a DVD copy after the screening, so give me a call and we'll watch it together.

There was Q&A at the end of the screening, and I was extremely proud that the filmmaker (Lee Boot), prompted by his partner (Stacy Arnold) recognized my son for his film work on the Field Trip project, between high school and college. (See: The King)

A screening on 15-Nov-2008 (Saturday); see:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hayride fall fun and campfire

It's almost too warm for a campfire tonight as it went over 70 degrees today but that isn't stopping us. Adults and over a dozen members of Pack 350 gathered for a post-Halloween hay ride.

With us is a St. Bernard, called Hildie. Not sure what animals are in the woods. I expect we'll get a report when the kids return from their first lap.

These kind of events are great for socializing - maybe even some event planning.

It's quiet now that the haywagon is gone. Adults get to eat first for a change.

Second run of the hay wagon returns: