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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Homemade, $1 rocket, fueled with table sugar and stump remover, reaches 2300' (700m)

Homemade sugar rocket can reach 2,300 feet for less than a dollar



Plumbing the depths of Ebola stupidity...

A tweet by Nick Muzin, Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator and GOP superstar, Ted Cruz:




Story: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/23/1338767/--Before-Obamacare-there-had-never-been-a-confirmed-case-of-Ebola-in-U-S-Ted-Cruz-s-Deputy-Chief

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Exploring New England: NH Foliage

New Hampshire's foliage peaked a little early this year: Tranditionally, peak foliage is on the horribly-misnamed "Columbus Day" --- a misbegotten holiday, if ever there was one --- but this year the leaves in the Lakes region and southern White Mountains had just gone by.

But it still made for a very pleasant ride on a intensely bright and sunny Fall day.

We started by heading up the west side of Lake Winnepesaukee, stopping in Laconia for a view of the MV MT Washington departing on its regular circuit of the lakeside towns.

Photo location: Weirs Beach, here (43.606821, -71.458063), looking northeast.
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We meandered across the north side of the lake and took small roads through small towns to Albany and Chororua, whose eponymous mountain is supposed to be the "most photographed mountain in New Hampshire." I don't know if that's true, but it is certainly scenic enough.

Photo taken here (43.896637, -71.233225), looking mostly North, across Chocurua Lake.
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From there, we headed to Rt 112, the Kancamagus Highway; an officially-designated "scenic byway (map).

Although the foliage, at elevation, was past peak, the views were still nice.

Photo taken just east of Kancamagus Pass; here (44.023498, -71.491813), looking ENE...
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...and just west of Kancamagus Pass, here (44.026470, -71.495647), looking mostly West.
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We then had a bit of an adventurous ride on the Sandwich Notch Rd (designated by the Forest Service as Forest Road 98); a very rough and mostly unpaved two-track through deep forest. The road was first built in 1801, and is largely unchanged today.

The road was open (unbarred), but officially designated "unpassable" due to erosion. However, my car (though small) is all-wheel drive, and I'd driven it through the Yukon and Alaska to the Arctic Ocean a few years ago, so I figured it'd be able to manage a bit of New England forest.

I didn't take pictures --- I was busy driving, and the road is very closed-in, in deep woods, anyway. But it was fun.

Not my photos, but to give you the idea:






Satellite view: https://www.google.com/maps/@43.8569419,-71.528043,1284m/data=!3m1!1e3

Sandwich Historical Society info

I don't miss living in New Hampshire, but I'm glad it's nearby. :)



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

This really happened: John Boehner tweeted his “5 Points for Resetting America’s Economic Foundation.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner actually tweeted this as his "5 Points for Resetting America’s Economic Foundation:"



 Hilarity ensued, with many rushing to fill in his empty agenda.

 Examples:

 



More: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/boehners-jobs-tweet-opened-the-door-much-mockery

Monday, October 6, 2014

Topsfield (Mass.) Fair Snapshots

After a rainy Saturday, this past Sunday was dry and cool with brilliantly warm sun; a perfect Fall day, and good day to visit the Topsfield (Mass.) Fair.

The Fair's been going on for almost 200 years (info). In other parts of the country, it'd be called a 'county' fair (the local county being Essex, in this case; a short distance northeast of Boston). But for for reasons of tradition, this Fair has the host town's name attached.

The place was very busy.

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It's primarily an agricultural fair, with the usual assortment of contests involving the local flora (such as a 1900 lb/861 kilo pumpkin) and all manner of 2- and 4-legged fauna.

To my surprise, there were some less practical elements, such as a rather nice display bonsai and floral arrangements.

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Of course, there was abundant bad food --- note the smoke in the distance here, as mass quantities of food were being cooked and often deep-fried in ways food was never meant to be cooked or deep-fried.

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There was better food, too, including a wide variety of local honey, as shown in this display: the delicate, early-spring, flower-based honeys are on the left; the robust, dark, autumn honeys to the right, with buckwheat honey appearing almost black.

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And there was a midway.

We tried this circular roller coaster:

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The cars would rock back and forth on the track, gaining momentum at each pass, then pause for a long, vertiginous, inverted moment, hanging by your straps at the top....  photo PA050020_zps408901d7.jpg

... and then begin a series of high-speed loops. The loops were fast enough to pull a couple Gs at the base, and to keep you in your seat at the top of the loop. The ride would then slow, pause again at the top for a long inverted moment, and then go backwards the same way.

It was fun --- we had one of the end cars with the unobstructed views --- and the seeing the landscape from on high while inverted and stationary was interesting.

Then there was the Zipper, a series of cage-like cars mounted on off-center swivels: the cars pivot on their own axis, driven by the motion of the ride overall, which hauls the cars at high speed around the long arms via cables; as the cars move around the bends at the ends of the arms, the off-center mountings mean the the riders' body weight acts as an randomly-swinging pendulum, rocking the car back and forth, occasionally and erratically building to complete 360 degree loops.

Not my photo:
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The ride even has its own Wikipedia entry, which notes that "It features strong vertical G-forces, numerous spins, and a noted sense of unpredictability."

I can fully confirm that description.

I tried for two photos but was too busy to get the focus right.  photo PA050021_zpscdc89e76.jpg

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In all, it was a silly, fun, and altogether pleasant way to spend a glorious Fall afternoon in New England.

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