Monday, December 27, 2010

Red Rock canyon at sunset

We took a jeep ride to look at the sunset. There was no guarantee that we'd get a nice show due to overcast skies and potential for showers. This is Juli and our driver, Mario. Our jeep is at far left.

Same shot.

We were sad to think we wouldn't have the most beautiful light, and it started to rain a bit, but then the light broke through.

The light creeping up the cliffs with a rainbow. Ahhh!

The other half of the rainbow.


- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ruins of Tuzigoot

This is an ancient pueblo of the Sinagua people, who lived here between AD 1000 and AD 1400.

A panorama courtesy of the Autostitch app.

OCR on an informational sign:

For thousands of years, the Verde Valley has been a
human melting pot. Hunters and gatherers came first, searching for wild game and grasses. Traders followed, digging salt and minerals, and then settlers farming the fertile bottomlands.
A tribe of southern Sinagua built their masonry homes on this ridge about AD 1000 and established a thriving agricultural community. Inexplicably, they left in the early
1400s, more than a hundred years before the first Europeans rode into the valley.
A circular 1/4-mile trail winds up and through the remains of the Tuzigoot pueblo.

In a typical late-pueblo room, storage cists were frequently set in a corner of the room and clay vessels for storage were submerged in the floors. When Sinagua children died, they were buried in lined crypts beneath the floors of the dwellings. It was hoped their spirits would be incorporated into succeeding generations.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Montezuma Well

So called because early Europeans thought that the cliff dwellers in the area were at the north end of the Aztec empire. The name has stuck, though we now know better.

It's a large sinkhole fed by a constant flow underground flow of water.

There's cliff dwellings on the far side

Maybe you can see the cliff dwellings a bit better

This is as good a picture as I have of the cliff dwellings

This water source was used for irrigation by the original people of the area.

OCR on an informational sign:

Since water in Montezuma Well is charged with carbon dioxide (CO2), gill-breathing fish can not
survive: instead, an aquatic community of several unique species—each dependent on the other - has evolved.
By day, small floating plants—aIgae—manufacture food from light energy and the rich supply of carbon dioxide. Tiny, shrimplike animals—amphipods— feed by combing algae cells through appendages below their mouths.

Leeches, living by day in the bottom of the well, rise at night and, searching with the sensory hairs of their bodies, gulp large quantities of the small amphipods. Night-swimming water scorpions also make evening meals of the shrimplike creatures. More familiar turtles and muskrats live around the
well, and at dawn and dusk you might see squirrels, foxes, skunks, raccoons and snakes coming to feed. ln winter, look for black-headed Canadian
geese, green-winged teals and mallards.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Monday, December 20, 2010

SWM seeks vortex

In Sedona, I asked the local crystal dealer if I could align my chakras better if I ingested a small crystal. She'd obviously been mocked by far far better because she didn't skip a beat in her no-nonsense response that she didn't think that was the right way to align chakras.

The scenery is still magnificent, no matter the poor humor of the local vortex shills. I'm using my trueHDR app which is doing a good job, with the exception that it occasionally misregisters the images.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone



Ocr on the friendly sign tells us that, "This piece of equipment was the first successful mining device to replace human labor in removing the rubble from underground hard rock-blasting. The Model 12B, which weighs 4,200 pounds and requires 60 to 125 pounds per-square-inch air pressure, was first introduced in
1938. When the bucket is loaded with rubble, the
operator actuates the bucket drive motor to exert force on
the rocker pull chain, which is attached near the outer end of the rocker arms. The rocker arms roll the bucket upward toward the rear of the machine so that it maximizes the initial lift force on the bucket. As the bucket is thrown rearward, its vertical velocity decreases, and its horizontal velocity increases until the rocker arms strike shock—absorbing stops on the frame. When the bucket stops, the contents are flung into an attached mine car."

More ocr: "Jerome is perched on the side of Cleopatra Hill over rich ore deposits. In 1876, mining claims and a mill were located near the town. These claims were purchased in 1882 by thebUnited Verde Company and the tent camp was named Jerome after Eugene ]erome, a major financier of the company."

Today there's wine tasting, galleries, and tourist shops. We had a short and wonderfully personal tour of Robin John Andersons' gallery and studio located in the former high school across the street from the first photo in this post. See

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More photos from J Tree

On the 27th, winds at 6 pm were rising and ultimately got to the point around 10 pm to 2 am that my tent roof was bending down and hitting me as I lay bundled in my sleeping bag.

Despite the cold and frigid winds, Pine City campground was a nice experience. In particular, I enjoyed using my new HDR app for iPhone. I'm using TrueHDR and it is good, but has a few issues with crashes. I've read that ProHDR is also worthy.

In some ways these fancy photo apps are like trying to make a silk purse out if a sow's ear because the iPhone picture capabilities aren't all that great. What I really need is a wifi connected camera with a keyboard.

Jumping Cholla

Barrel cactus

The following was really dark in the foreground and sunlight was still hitting the hills in the background. I tried several exposures but the first was best.

Normally, you couldn't take a photo of a little tunnel like this and see through to the trees on the other side.

Amazing rock formations.

Another dark foreground / light background HDR combination. Scouts are on a rock seen through the trees.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Friday, November 26, 2010

Backpacking at Joshua Tree

26 November. It's so cold that I'm in bed at 6:26 pm as I try to stay warm. Fortunately, my tent and sleeping bag seem up to the task. I'm backpacking with the Boy Scouts and last night I was warm and full of turkey.

I purchased an app called Autostitch that makes larger pictures from many smaller one, as if i had a wide angle lens. But my best example so far is more panorama than wide angle. There's some blurriness where the stitching took place :(

I have another new and better toy for my iPhone- an app to do high dynamic range photos. What's HDR? See the following example. The app took two images, one exposed for the foreground and one for the sunlit rock and sky, then merged them into a single, better picture.

Same here:

And here:

Past sunset now. Good night with red light in the sky to the east.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Computer algebra

I've been looking into computer algebra systems for some mathematical noodling that I'm doing.  I'm rusty enough at calculus that they are a useful crutch, but if I get handy enough with them they could be useful in ways beyond my current problem.  I'm interested mostly in doing symbolic manipulation and I've found that Maxima seems to be the free gold standard for what I'm interested in.  However, I've ended up using a program called SpaceTime, because it seemed to have a lower threshold to get to useful results and because it has versions that run on my PC and on my iPhone.  The PC version is free and the iPhone version is $20, which I haven't yet decided to pay, but isn't it wonderful that I can try it out for free?

There is an interesting anecdote or two here, illustrating why one might want to do computer algebra.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's all electronic these days

received by email, of course.

Dear Dr. XX

Thank you for writing to express your opposition to H.R. 5034, the "Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act."  I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

Congress is expressly granted the power under the Constitution to enact federal laws that supersede state laws.  While sometimes it is necessary to preempt state law for the sake of uniformity, Congress should only do so with careful consideration of the effects on state laws and protection of consumers.  With these goals in mind, Congress has long sought to ensure that states can regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages consistent with their public policy but cannot discriminate against out-of-state shippers.  In the 2005 case of Granholm v. Heald, the Supreme Court held that state schemes that allow in-state, but not out-of-state, wineries to make direct sales to consumers discriminate against interstate commerce and unconstitutionally limit direct-sale shipments. 

I have long supported the ability of wineries to ship directly to consumers.  Direct shipping enhances consumer choice and can be an important market for small, niche wineries – many of which are located in California.

On April 15, 2010, Representative Bill Delahunt (D-MA) introduced H.R. 5034, the "Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act."  This legislation would declare that it is the policy of Congress that each State or territory shall have the primary authority to regulate alcoholic beverages and that state alcohol regulations shall be accorded a strong presumption of validity when they are challenged in court.  I understand your concern that this bill could allow states to discriminate against or otherwise limit direct-to-consumer shipments from local wineries in California to out-of-state customers. 

H.R. 5034 has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, and companion legislation has not been introduced in the Senate.  Please be assured that I will keep your concerns in mind should this bill or related legislation be considered by the Senate

Again, thank you for writing.  I hope you will continue to keep in touch with me on issues of importance to you.  If you should have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841.  Best regards.

Sincerely yours,
 Dianne Feinstein
         United States Senator

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Free the grapes!

As a responsible, pragmatic, and patriotic wine, beer, and spirits drinker of more than 20 years, I urge you to OPPOSE HR 5034.  HR 5034 serves only the interests of beer wholesalers and could overturn legal, regulated winery-to-consumer shipping working successfully in 37 states.

Just like many other wine consumers, I enjoy wine purchased from small family growers and vintners and shipped to me directly.  If I and many others didn't have this option of direct shipment, then we wouldn't be able to purchase those wines, since smaller wineries often have production too low to interest major wholesaler distribution networks.  HR 5034 could restrict the ability of small wineries to ship direct and therefore threatens the livelihood of small family growers and vintners, restricts consumer choice, and irresponsibly places state laws supporting wine, beer and spirits wholesaler middlemen beyond the reach of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Please let me know how you intend to vote on this important consumer rights issue.

Free the Grapes

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Memories of Pismo

Pismo Beach.

Beach dining.

Candy stores.

Wait. What's that sign say?

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lavender Ridge and Laetitia

We attended a tasting at Lavender Ridge winery The cellar is built into the side of the hill.

It's in the Sierra foothills near Murphys, which I briefly blogged about earlier.

Later, we tasted at Laetitia, on the Central Coast. We enjoy their sparkling wines and they have a nice picnic area.

A vineyard shot of Laetitia.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Murphys - Sperry hotel

Murphys has a fun historic district. I only have these two pictures which don't do it justice.

More OCR using Shoot'nPaste from a plaque nearby.





- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


I like Columbia State Park. It's an 1850's gold mining town. Visit it if you can.

Using my app Shoot'nPaste (which does OCR) I captured the following text from an informational sign on view nearby this Chinese apothecary. The OCR is sometimes very good. I edited a little.

"Chinese quickly came to Gum San (Gold Mountain), or California. Word spread rapidly
in war torn China that there was a "mountain of gold” waiting in California. At first Chinese, were
encouraged, even by the legislature to settle in California. As competition for dwindling gold increased, the Chinese were easily singled out
and laws were passed to discriminate against the Chinese."

"Chinese immigrants to California often were forced to live in specific areas in towns. Columbia’s Chinese would be confined to an area two blocks north of this store. The fire of 1857, was said to have started within the cramped Chinatown. This tragic event was used to ban the Chinese from living within City Limits. The Chinese never departed, they relocated to areas outside town.

More OCR from an informational plaque:

As the mining vitality of the 1850s and 1860s diminished, most mining claims were exhausted. Attention turned to hydraulic mining of vacant lots
and untouched lots under buildings. The necessary
water for this operation came from a stone flume,
or ditch, constructed through the center of town in September garbled by Haynes & Co. With this ditch, water was brought to almost any lot in town."

The shops are "authentic" in the sense that the are in 1850's structures and sell themed merch. Here's a counter in a candy store:

The jail used to be the powder storage, relocated to the edge of town after an unfortunate explosion at it's former location closer to the center of town:

Prisoner contact through this little hole. Not much has changed, it appears.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone