Saturday, December 17, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mainer maps fate of Louisiana coast

Atchafalaya Delta, Louisiana
Today's Portland Press Herald features Joe Kelley, a Maine geologist who is serving on a National Research Council (National Academies) panel advising federal and local officials on restoring and protecting coastal Louisiana. Their work was completed this summer, but they reconvened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Kelley has had considerable positive influence on the management of Maine beaches, and I have found him to be straightforward and enviably objective. So, having made statements here and here about addressing the devastation, I now wish to share excerpts that will further refine my position...
In an interview this week, Kelley said federal and local officials have unrealistic expectations. ... Kelley believes officials should abandon some areas of the delta with a policy of "managed retreat" and focus on projects that are more important to the nation's economic interests.

This fits my view well. I will need to alter my mindset, though, to accept another Kelley statement that has drawn criticism from environmentalists. He was quoted in the New York Times (requires payment) as saying that healthy marshes would not have protected New Orleans. As paraphrased in the PPH:
People interested in restoring marshes have used storm protection as a rationale to gain funding for their projects, he said, but the role marshes play as a storm buffer may be overrated. [emphasis added]

Until we can accurately forecast the degree of flood protection offered by salt marshes (not likely), we should err on the side of protecting and restoring them.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Why Supporting Feral Cat Colonies is Wrong

On the front page of its latest newsletter, Another Chance Animal Rescue proudly described its activities supporting a feral cat colony in southern Maine. While those involved must be good-hearted people, their actions can have severe negative consequences for wild birds and other animals.

Cats hunt small mammals like mice, voles, shrews, moles, and chipmunks. Cats hunt birds like warblers, wrens, chickadees, sparrows, and cardinals. By killing small animals, cats are reducing biodiversity, sometimes virtually eliminating native species. By removing small animals from natural environments, they are also removing a prey base for naturally occurring predators like hawks, owls, and foxes.

Domestic felines should be just that: house cats.

Incidentally, the Another Chance Animal Rescue Mission Statement suggests that supporting feral cat colonies is outside their intended purpose. The organization's board ought to examine this activity and withdraw its support.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Snowman

Our Thanksgiving Snowman, bridging fall and winter, thanks to C & A, who proved an inch of snow can be enough.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Liz Carroll and John Doyle set lists

A warm, relaxed, highly satisfactory evening at the Center for Cultural Exchange in Portland, Maine, with Liz Carroll (fiddle) and John Doyle (guitar and vocals). It would seem we benefited by being the last date on their tour, and of 2005 -- they were loose and congenial, though perhaps that is normal for them.

Thankful to be there, right up front, absorbing. The following is likely riddled with errors, but is based on notes taken during the performance. Corrections appreciated.

  1. Fremont Center
  2. The "Vornado"
  3. Minutemen
  4. Dennehy Dancers
  5. McSweeney's Side
  6. A Pound of Rye
  7. Ronan Boys
  8. Ralph's 2-3-5
  9. Hanley's House of Happiness
  10. The Apprentice Boy
  11. 2 unidentified reels
  12. Kieran's Polka
  13. County Cahill
  14. [magical hare]
  15. unidentified John Doyle jig, jig, reel
  16. Jack Dolan (Wild Colonial Boy)
  17. Old Bush
  18. Expect the Unexpected
  19. The Island of Woods
  20. Bitter the Parting
  21. unidentified 2 with Ellen Gawler
  22. The Tractor Driver
  23. A Tune for the Girls
  24. I Know My Love
  25. 3 unidentified reels
  26. Wild Mountain Thyme
  27. Old Maid of Galway / Lizzy in the Lowground

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Standoff

Originally posted to MAINE-BIRDS...

This morning: "Our pheasant is back!"
Fifteen seconds later: "There's another one!"

And within a minute we were watching five of them, two cocks and three hens, from the dining room window. They gathered under the burning bush and wandered a bit. They were unfazed by cars passing 20 feet away.

Getting ready for work took precedence over pheasant watching, but during one pass by the window I noticed they were looking pretty skittish. A neighbor across the street? No. Nothing out of the ordinary until... "Hey, Scott, there's a hawk out there."

Indeed there was. Perched in the burning bush, less than a meter away from the five prospective breakfasts, was a large accipiter. For the next ten minutes, I watched a fascinating game of cat and mouse, as the hawk tried to catch one of the pheasants.

The accipiter flew around the bush, but the pheasants kept moving to the opposite side. The hawk tried catching them on foot (first time I've seen a hawk "run" like that), but the prey were too quick. One cock pheasant made a break across the yard, but the hawk was unable to snag it before it reached the blackberry hedge.

Finally, a hen got separated from the group and the hawk made its move. But she turned on him, spread herself out, and the hawk stopped in its tracks. They froze like that for a tense twenty seconds before the hawk decided it didn't know how to finish the job. It flew off into nearby trees, then flushed out of the yard when the neighbor kid went to catch the school bus.

It was a hatch-year accipiter far too big to be a sharpshin. My impression of size put it in the overlap zone of Cooper's and Goshawk. Book illustrations suggest it had the face of a goshawk and the tail of a Cooper's. Even with all that time staring at it, I don't feel confident pinning it down to species. Would a Cooper's Hawk go after a pheasant?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Systems test results

GuppY's out. Too-frequent updates, language barrier, some question about branding, uncertainty about strength and flexibility.

Joomla's out. Too difficult. Too much rigidity in templates. Overkill?

WordPress sidelined.

Blogger holding its own, despite its shortcomings. For "personal" effort, it will do. Plenty of learning to do elsewhere.

Textpattern building steam. Highly approachable. Textcentricity appeals.

Static is still straightforward. And familiar.

Jury's still out.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Textpattern, which wasn't in the initial set of candidates, races to the front of the pack, supplanting Joomla.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

FCC input: Futile effort?

FCC comment submission form. Use it before October 31 on 05-235.

Thanks ARRL for heads up.

My minutes-before-deadline, groggy-headed comment (no. 20051031740215).
Keep the code.
Licensed radio amateurs at every level should know Morse code, allowing them to operate the simplest kind of radio equipment, which is for continuous wave communication. Solid capabilities at a basic level should be a fundamental expectation for every licensed radio amateur.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Oh, no! Web 2.0

Always wanting to be at least semi-aware of what's coming down the pike in technology, I was drawn to TechSoup's "event" this week (a hosted forum discussion with special guests) promising to "demystify Web 2.0 technologies and illustrate how using new socially oriented technological innovations can help the nonprofit community."

First off, I'm so semi-unaware lately that I thought they were going to be addressing Internet 2. Just as well I was wrong.

To wiki or not to wiki? To start syndication really simply? To tag, make social bookmarks, et cetera... these are the questions.

Nothing "new," really. Just the current wave of actualized concepts being ridden by the tech-savvy (and some not-so-savvy) into the inevitable evolution of the web.

So I got thinking about my own foundering blog, static websites, aborted forays into 2.0 technologies. It's easy to get excited about the potential of these new technologies, but it's another to commit to learning, developing, and introducing them to audiences not ready to embrace them.

Despite my pessimism, I spent an afternoon reviewing free open source content management systems. I found the CMS Matrix to be quite useful, allowing me to compare features among dozens of systems (in a broad sense). (I picked Drupal, Joomla!, Etomite, Serendipity, WordPress, GuppY, Nucleus, and PHP-Nuke.) The nifty try-before-you-install interface at OpenSourceCMS helped me to narrow my scope for populating the matrix.

Of course, nothing is a perfect fit. So I'll adopt something to try it out and hope the shoehorn doesn't break, hope the limitations are surmountable, hope I don't spend more time figuring out the system than using it, and so on.

Will it be bye-bye Blogger, hello WordPress? Welcome to Joomla!? Sink or swim with GuppY? Hope for Serendipity?

Time will tell, 2.0.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Adventure Gamers : Alex Louie

We got Bad Mojo when it came out. Late 90s were our computer gaming years. Matt introduced us to Myst and off we went... Zork Nemesis, Qin, You Don't Know Jack, Toonstruck, Grim Fandango, The Longest Journey, and a few others that never gained our full attention.
These days, looking for exceptional games for Pocket PC, Bad Mojo popped out as a benchmark. Wacky and clever, reasonably puzzling, well rendered -- something like that would be a welcome amusement.
I'm still looking for the ideal Axim game, but I enjoyed this Alex Louie interview from Adventure Gamers and hope the redux is doing well.

Edit: Toonstruck purchase was June 1998.

Monday, September 26, 2005

UNC Bld-201 NDT server

via UNC

TCP/Web100 Network Diagnostic Tool v5.2.1e
running 10s outbound test (client to server) . . . . . 375.97Kb/s
running 10s inbound test (server to client) . . . . . . 3.50Mb/s
running 10s outbound test (client to server) . . . . . 375.97Kb/s
running 10s inbound test (server to client) . . . . . . 3.74Mb/s

For the record, abridged results of two tests of our Comcast throughput on a Monday evening, thanks to the University of North Carolina.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Regenerative Receiver -- Before

I wanted to build N1BYT's Wheatstone Bridge Regenerative receiver into a tea tin and for the most part I was successful. But mounting the board on the underside of the lid and several bits of hardware on the tin's body caused wires to break when I needed to tweak and adjust the receiver. So I'm switching enclosures. These photos simply record the cute approach. Maybe someday it'll be back in here.

More info on regen receivers: AA3SJ | AA5TB | WD4NKA | N1TEV via VK2TIP

This receiver design was published in QST in August 2001.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Wetlands Protect Coastal Communities

From the Society of Wetland Scientists
The impact of the hurricane would have been reduced if Louisiana had not lost so many of its coastal wetlands. A map summarizing wetland loss in Louisiana from 1932-2000 is posted on the web site of the National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) ( Note the particularly heavy loss south, southwest, and southeast of New Orleans.

The ocean is strong, but natural coastal systems are good at cushioning the impact of massive amounts of rushing water.

Marshes and dunes are not preferred for permanent human habitation, however, so we destroy them and build walls to prevent flooding. It works well, by and large, but Mother Nature can do wonders.

Arguing that New Orleans would have been spared if the Corps of Engineers got the money to bolster dikes misses the point: Living in flood zones is risky. Choosing to take that risk means accepting the consequences. Low-probability events are not no-probability events.

(Earthquakes, tsunamis, unprecedented cold snaps and dry spells, tornados, et cetera... You could say Living is risky.)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hastert questions how to rebuild New Orleans

From CNN:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said of federal assistance for hurricane-devastated New Orleans.

Excellent point, if ill-timed. But the backlash -- oh, my! How can anyone already be so certain about the efficacy of rebuilding in an automatic deep-flood zone? Go ahead, but let the investment dollars come from the locals, not the feds.

Let's hope I don't make a habit of agreeing with Hastert, though.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Getting it Right

Greg Writes, thank goodness. I need fine examples and his is one.

I'm especially pleased to have taken the path to CNN from his August 22 entry on X.

...and just how did he get into that dugout?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Morse Code - Another 173 Years?

Stop the presses - we have arrived! On page 41 of the August issue of Wired magazine:
Wired: Morse code
Tired: texting
Expired: shorthand
(Thanks, Steve, KI0KY)

-- From the Contester's Rate Sheet (ARRL) of 10 August 2005, edited by Ward Silver N0AX.

A quick googling (wired morse code) took me to the premonitive wired/tired title from larry borsato. He's referencing a Times Online article telling of an Australian nonagenerian and his buddy using the code to whip some cell toting whippersnappers in a communications contest.

A similar competition was ably staged later on Leno.

The morse rally is building. Hurrah!

Hams speak an esoteric language, a mix of radio slang and callsigns, and they like to talk about the enduring virtues of Morse code

That's Mark Baard, 3 months before page 41 above, writing in Wired itself. The quote's actually from the second page.

Samuel F.B. Morse's code dates to 1832.

I've known Morse code since 1972. My Quite Happy Grandfather taught me. I've used it often since summer '73.

I love its rhythm, cw dx, and the mystery message within another sender's signals.

The FCC plans to eliminate Morse code as a requirement for all amateur radio license classes. A sad decision, but the code will stick around regardless. Till 2178? Sure. And beyond.

The ARRL, which advocates retaining a test for extra class licenses only, reported the FCC's notice of proposed rule making.

Keep testing on the books, I say. No time to say exactly why right now, though.



Tuesday, August 09, 2005

TrackSat Update

The eVB runtime and TrackSat installed smoothly and the application looks cool. Even gracefully downloaded up-to-date keps. Frequent errors, though, re: division by zero. Not jumping at the chance to register for $19 quite yet.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Jawbreaker milestone

Finally broke 1000 in Jawbreaker. It was my 100th game.

Would have been nice if the oopdreams Bubblets name was left alone.

EDIT: Broke 500 average barrier at game 226.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Why TrackSat caused me to begin a blog

TrackSat/CE is satellite tracking software I intend to use on a Dell Axim X30 running Windows Mobile 2003. It's a ZL3AD program I saw listed at AMSAT. I downloaded version 2.20. At the download, the author linked to a required Microsoft file: evb.mspx (?). That link was broken, but I was directed to, which I downloaded. I hope this works in place of eVB dot whatever.

The "future" does not seem bright for eVB if this Microsoft chat was on track.

Native Code Application Development for Windows Embedded Platforms.
Posted March 4, 2003
Chat Date: February 5, 2003
From Host Zoran Galovic, Embedded MVP
Q: Have any decision been made concerning the future of eVB, of any? [sic X 2]
A: eVB is going to disappear. Everything is moving towards VB .NET and eVC is an interim solution.

I'll install the two files in a couple of days.

N7WSB gave TrackSat a decent review for an earlier release at

* * * * * * * * * *

It's that quote that caused me to start a blog. Blogger can be a convenient place to collect clips and questions.

It's always best to start at the beginning...

...then you quickly google "yellow brick road" for images and find Maquilas Que Matan's blog right away. Whatever we may find at the end of the road, it seems an auspicious start.