Energy and Civilization

June 18, 2017

The rise of plentiful and cheap energy is a prime driver in our civilization’s advancement. The more advanced the Civilization the more energy will be needed per Nocoli Kardashev. Seems reasonable to me. Similar to Parkinson’s Law: Work Expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Kardashev, the Russian Astronomer, rated civilizations on their energy consumption.

Type I have the capacity to use and store all the energy reaching the planet from their Star. We are not Type I yet. Not even close. Some estimates state the Sun delivers 5 magnitudes more energy to the Earth than we can generate and consume. So open your doors and windows and turn the thermostat down this Summer.

Incidentally, there are two more levels and more have been added since the original scale was published. Google Kardashev if your interested.

Finally, if you don’t believe our Civilization is becoming more advanced consider this: I wrote and published this between innings at a Saturday afternoon Ranger game.

However, I did not publish this until Sunday because I forgot the WordPress password. Maybe someday we will enhance our brains to not forget anything. Wait a minute! That’s a terrible idea; I’ve a lot I want to forget.


Sgt Pepper’s 50th Anniversary

June 1, 2017

Sgt Pepper’s 50th Anniversary

Sgt. Pepper: it was 50 years ago today Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beattles was released. It is one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time. I’ve listened to the last track A Day in the Life more than any other song by an order of magnitude. Sgt. Pepper is an album to be listened to not just heard. That is, sit down and pay attention, don’t just play it as background music.

I was a student in Chicago that Summer which became know a The Summer of Love. We were deluged with new groups such as Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Greateful Dead, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience just to name a few. Timothy Leary told us to tune in, turn on, and drop out. The Beattle’s Sgt. Pepper conveyed the spirit of those days perfectly.

A remix of the album has just been released (Called the Anniversary Edition) with several different options including vinyl – who still has a turntable — ME. Giles Martin, son of George Martin who produced the original, produced the remix. I’ve been lucky enough to hear segments and the sound is noticeably enhanced and better. If there ever was an album worth purchasing this is the one. I’m queuing up to purchase my copy.

Woke up,
Got out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head,
….


Paxson’s Most Excellent Road Trip

May 28, 2017

Ever taken a 1000 mile Road Trip with a 4 year old? We did!  Just finished driving from DFW to Sedona to The Grand Canyon and back again with our 4 1/2 year old grandson.  Because he was so young (and we were so old) we took three days and two nights getting there and the same amount of time returning.

Cathedral Rock Sedona

Cathedral Rock

More photos available at: Click Here

Unlike past travel blogs I wrote this trip report in a Timeline  or Diary format.  So read on to take a long ride

2017-04-24 Started packing this morning. Now at Dr. Smith’s office – Dermatologist. Good News week – No skin cancers!

2017-04-25 Starting Paxton’s great adventure in Southlake. Today we travel to Amarillo

Stopped for a break at River Bend Nature Center Wichita Falls. They had a interesting butterfly exhibit as well as some live native creatures and a children’s playground.  Next we dined at an almost deserted Pizza Hut because it was close to the Nature Center.  Almost deserted – we were the only customers.

ButterflyZebraLongTail

Zebra Longtail Butterfly

Damm! 5 miles out of Wichita Falls the right front tire blew out on the MDX.  Then I discovered many new vehicles do not have a spare.  After that I discovered we had let the road side assistance lapse last month.  After that I discovered my only option was to have the car towed into a tire dealer; No coming out to me. After that I discovered there are no Michelin tires for our SUV in Wichita Falls.

2 hours later. Leaving the tire store with a brand spanking new Goodyear tire on my right front.

Tire fixed and drove to Amarillo without incident.  Met Mike and Jackie for dinner and then we all took Paxson to the local amusement park.  He loved it!  We overnighted in a Staybridge Inn.  Seems to be fairly new and nice.  Would stay here again.

2017-04-26: Amarillo to Albuquerque. Lunch at Oak Creek Cafe, then the Zoo, then back to hotel for a quick swim.  Dinner at El Pinto which is a huge Mexican Restaurant on the far North side of town in a run down neighborhood. It was probably in the country when they opened in 62 if I remember right.

2017-04-27: Up early today and driving from Albuquerque to Sedona.

Now in Holbrook Az. having lunch at Tom & Suzies Diner.  Lunch was good.

Arrived in Sedona at 2:30PM MST.  That’s a 7.5 hour trip from Albuquerque.   Condo is great.  Now relaxing.

Mike and Sara arrived at 6PM.  Rested a bit and dined at Hidaway House, an older Italian restaurant with great views of the mountains.

2017-04-28: Up at 6:30AM. The boys are very rambunctious this morning. I guess they are happy to be together again but I feel sorry for the people below us.

Breakfast at Wildflower Bread Company. Just as good as I remember.

Then we took the Pink Jeep Tour with the boys  up into the hills where only a jeep driver could take us.  I was surprised the boys loved the bumpy wild ride.  We made two stops for photo ops. Austin fell asleep on the way back to town after the 2nd stop.  How can he sleep through this?

Arizona2017-10

Fun in the back of a Pink Jeep

Lunch at Oaxaca .  Maybe the 4th or 5th time Gwen and I have been there.  I’m sure there are better Hispanic restaurants in the area but the place seems like home to us so we always go back.

After that we took the boys swimming.  Everything went well until Pax tripped while running to catch Mommy and Austin and spreadeagled on the rocks.  Cuts, scrapes, and bruises all over.  Fell so sorry for him.

Put the boys down for a nap. They slept 2 hours and we woke them up so they would sleep tonight.

We dined at Elote with the boys.  Had to wait an hour for a table which was not unusual at that restaurant. They don’t take reservations and there is always a waiting list.  Easily the best restaurant in Sedona.

2017-04-29 Up at 6 this morning. Sunny and 35 degrees.

Everyone else is visiting Jerome today. I’m staying at the condo and catching up on email and Master Gardener Stuff.  Made a Workflow today which takes Markdown from the input and sends a monthly Technology Group report to Dr. Church.

Pizza place down the street for lunch.

Dinner at the Condo

2017-04-30: Today we are headed out to the Grand Canyon hiking. By we I mean Sara, Mike, & I.  Gwen and the boys are driving up later. We had a long, hard day hiking the Canyon on the Kaibab Trail.

Dinner at El Tovar.   

Arizona2017-24

The Canyon

2017-05-01: Up at 6. I was up multiple times with leg cramps last night.   We are starting the trip home today. Tonight we stop at Albuquerque.

We had an uneventful drive to Albuquerque today. There are not many dining options  between Flagstaff and Albuquerque.  Today we had a late lunch at Applebee’s in Gallup.  At home I would not eat at an Applebee’s but on I40 in the middle of nowhere its a good option.

Dinner tonight in Albuquerque was at Trombino’s Bistro Italiano, exceptional. Definitely a place to dine next time we are in Albuquerque.

2017-05-02:  Paxson and Gwen visit the zoo and the aquarium before leaving Albuquerque.  This time Alex the Lion is out so the visit was a success.   Drive to Amarillo.  Dinner with Mike and Jackie at Embers located in the old David’s Steaks location.

2017-04-03: Breakfast at the Bagel Place before and uneventful drive to Southlake to deliver Paxson to the other grandparents.  All’s well that ends well

Arizona2017-25


Hey Bartender

May 10, 2017

Bartender is an app to manage the Mac’s menu bar. The price is a hefty $15 and I’ve often thought who would waste $15 to rearrange and hide menu bar items.  Then one day I was working on my Mac and I did not see the Calendar Icon on the menu bar.  Did it crash?  Did it not start up the last time I booted the Mac?  When did I last boot my Mac?  Is my Mac infected?   A thousand and one questions bombarded my head.  Finally I figured out the problem.  After switching Applications a few times with the Alt-Tab keys I noticed sometimes I could see the Calendar Icon and sometimes I could not. The answer to the enigma – some Applications have many items on the horizontal menu bar and some have very few. 

Here’s an example of the menu bar without Bartender:

noBartender

For a few weeks whenever I needed to access a hidden menu bar Icon I Alt-Tabed until the needed Icon appeared.

Finally, you guessed it, I broke down and bought, installed, and configured the Bartender Application.  Now, I don’t notice it much while working on the Mac which is probably the best selling point: I don’t have this aggravating and annoying menu bar issue all the time.

Here’s an example with Bartender:

bartender

Here’s an example with Bartender expanded:

bartenderExpanded

While Bartender is definitely not for everyone I’d recommend Bartender if your menu bar Icons have encroached on your Application Menu and you use the menu bar Icons.


VLC for IOS to the Rescue

April 17, 2017

A couple of days ago I discovered “home movies” (DVDs I burned onto my Mac and loaded into iTunes) were no longer are accessible on my iPad. I also noticed the Video app is now the TV app on my iPad. This is not acceptable! In a few days we are embarking on a Road Trip with our 4 1/2 year old Grandson. We must have Thomas the Train, Go Diego, and other classics on the iPad or Grandson will not be happy and thus we won’t be happy.

After tiring of banging my head against the Apple Knows Best wall I gave up on the TV app and searched for alternatives.

Joy! I discovered VLC has an IOS app. I installed it and after resorting to reading the short introduction screen was able to download “home videos” to my heart’s content. The process is simple:

  • Start VLC
  • Enable Sharing via WiFi
  • Enter the URL displayed directly under Sharing via WiFi in your browser’s address window
  • Drag “home videos” to the browser window

VLC is now one of y must have apps on my IOS devices.

Thanks VLC


LiquidText

March 4, 2017

LiquidText is an innovative IOS application with a single purpose that is to review PDF documents. The user interface is unlike any other PDF reader I have used. The screen is split into two side by side panes. The left pane holds the PDF document and the right pane holds the Workspace.

LiquidText’s basic Use Case is to highlight text. Next the user can choose a highlight color, drag the highlighted text to the workspace, or insert a comment. With LiquidText you can move the highlights and comments around and/or group them as you desire.

Another really cool feature is the capability to pinch the document to view widely separated portions of the document.

LiquidText integrates with iCloud, Dropbox, Box, and One Drive.

You can export and share documents from LiquidText with or without the Workspace displayed. If desired you can also just export the Workspace.

I’m using Liquid Text on my iPad to read/review articles from the web. Using the Workflow app with one touch I create a PDF version of the web article and save it to Dropbox. Then, with LiquidText I review the article later at my leisure. I prefer this method to read later services because I can highlight and comment on sections I find interesting.

LiquidText has a paid version. It gives you the ability to combine multiple document reviews and adds more highlight colors. I have not seen the need to spring for the paid version. However, if I keep using the app as often as I do now I probably will just to support the developers.

Finally, I really wanted to include some visuals, but still trying to figure out how on the iPad. For now just go to the developer’s web site at: liquidText


The Three Body Problem

January 18, 2017

img_0088

Shhhhh! The Universe is watching and It’s Dark Out There. That’s The Three Body Problem’s message; a book written by Cixin Liu.

For most Nerds The Three Body Problem is a classical Physics problem: Given masses, current position, and velocity of three bodies (a special case of the n-body problem) there is no way to analytically calculate the motion of these bodies.

The author takes this problem and crafts a spell-binding trilogy (The Three Body Problem is book one) starting with three Suns in erratic orbits causing chaos on the planet Trisolaris. Meanwhile a Chinese Scientist discovers a technique to broadcast RF throughout the Universe using the Sun as an amplifier, and of course Trisolarians receive the signal and respond or the story would be short and boring. They rejoice for they have found another inhabitable planet within 4 Light Years without the disastrous climate swings experienced by a planet in an erratic orbit around 3 Suns. What luck! Of course the Solarians set off to make the Earth their new home. However, since 4 Light Years is a long way off unless you can travel at the speed of light the Earthlings have several centuries to prepare for their coming. Well, the story marches on for seemingly eons of time with both adversaries gaining the advantage from time to time. And just to make the saga a little more interesting the Dark Universe weighs in from time to time.

When the tale has been told and all is said and done (Ecc.) the triology is about the fate of the Universe, not just Trisolaris and Eath.

The books provide the reader with many interesting hypotheses to ponder. For example, Einstein’s two Theories of Relativity declare the Speed of Light constant, but Time is not. Time slows down as gravity increases or relative velocity increases. That’s why clocks tick slower on GPS satellites and a theoretical Space Traveler would age less than their twin on the Earth. Does time slow down as the speed of light decreases? It does in Cixin Liu’s trilogy.

I wrote this review a couple of week’s ago and never did publish it — 70 year old memory? Yesterday I read an interview with President Obama in the NYT times. The subject of the interview was reading. In the article the President mentioned The Three Body Problem was one of his favorite books. How cool is that? Me and the President have something in common. Click Here to read the interview. Also, the review jogged my memory. Hey, I ought to publish my The Three Body Problemreview.

Remember, the Universe is watching and it’s Dark out there …