Archive for Education

Are you a photographer of just a camera operator?

A.B. Watson at the Photography Blog asks the question. In looking at photo collections he wonders “Where is the photographer’s unique thumbprint, aside from on top of their shutter button?” What makes the picture special?

When people think about photography they think of cameras. They look at a photo and say I could have done that. If they were in that exact moment, they wouldn’t be wrong. That is if they had the technique and knowledge, with a few dedicated days to learn it. Which amazingly anyone can get on the internet, now just a click away. What makes a photo historic is its ability to capture a moment. Photography is mainly used as an archive medium. That’s all well and good if that’s all you use photography for. Many people love photography for this aspect alone. But for me, that just makes you a camera operator, not an artist.

You feel the something when you are there, something that prompted you to pull out your camera. Can you capture any of that feeling when you take a picture for your memory book? 

I feel that the collective group of photographers out there aren’t putting their own brush strokes into their work. We aren’t capturing an idea, rather just a moment. The majority of us are camera operators, obsessed about settings and techniques. Instead of focusing on concepts and our own unique vision. So what’s the meaning behind your work? Where does your camera end, and your idea begin?

Learn more about the craft from studying what you like about the photographs of others. Hit a YouTube video or other resource to improve your knowledge, understanding, and skill. Look for your own pictures that stand out above the others and try to learn what it is that makes it a special picture.

Comments off

Lehto on What You Need to Know Before You Buy an RV

A 19 minute video on YouTube: What You Need to Know Before You Buy an RV – Lehto’s Law Ep. 3.19. Steve Lehto is an attorney in Michigan who has practiced in the fields of Lemon Law and Consumer Protection for 24 years.

I have warned of the problems that come with RV ownership but I know many people are intent on buying them anyway. In that case, here is what you need to know and what you can do BEFORE you buy an RV to protect yourself.”

His basic advice is to make sure to get a prospective purchase inspected whether new or used. If you are not RV familiar, rent one to camp out in an RV park where you can talk to others and find out if an RV is really going to be your thing. He also suggests buying a used RV direct from the owner so you can also get a feel for the character of the person who is selling and find out why it is being sold.

A lot of good advice in the video. Caveat Emptor [wikipedia]

Comments off

An ampitheater out towards Fernley?

From the Road: Talus Stripes and Shorelines along the Truckee River

It was a late fall day, and I stopped along Route 447 to see if I could get close to some of the brilliantly colored trees along the Truckee River a few miles north of Wadsworth. I didn’t end up finding a good spot for pics of fall colors—other than maybe this one taken down near the Numana Hatchery—but I did find lots of wonderful talus stripes and some Lake Lahontan shorelines.

At two stops a little farther to the north, at and near the junction of 447 with Chicken Road and at the Historic Marker 448 pullout, I grabbed a hodgepodge of photos.

A good portion of the river in this area runs parallel or sub-parallel to Walker Lane strike-slip faults. Wadsworth Amphitheater, which shows up in the Google Earth images

Maybe she’ll help you see things you never noticed before when heading east out of Reno on I80.

Between this and that Flyover Country app described earlier there’s no excuse for not knowing about the country you visit.

Comments off

Metropolitan Museum of Art Images resourse

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Makes 375,000 Images of Fine Art Available Under a Creative Commons License: Download, Use & Remix – In partnership with Creative Commons, they’ve released them all under the latter’s CC0, or “no rights reserved” license, which places them “as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.”

Between this and the capabilities of a modern copy shop — maybe Eric Larson’s new shop (see the December 2016 SNU newsletter) – you can get some classy decoration for your RV!

Comments off

2017 Eclipse Parties

There’s a big astronomical event this year and the Astronomy Picture of the Day for 1/31/2017 features the solar eclipse.

Are you planning to see the American Eclipse on August 21? A few hours after sunrise, a rare total eclipse of the Sun will be visible along a narrow path across the USA. Those only near the path will see a partial eclipse. Although some Americans live right in path of totality, surely many more will be able to get there after a well-planned drive. One problem with eclipses, though, is that clouds sometimes get in the way. To increase yourclear-viewing odds, you might consult the featured map and find a convenient destination with a historically low chance (more blue) of thick clouds overhead during totality. Given the large fraction of Americans carrying camera-equipped smartphones, this American Eclipse may turn out to be the most photographed event in the history of the world.

It might be an idea to plan a jaunt up to Idaho or Oregon this summer to see day turn into night for a few moments.

Update: Roadtreking gathering.

Now’s the time to reserve your spot for our Roadtreking Total Eclipse Boondocking Gathering Aug. 18-22, just south-east of Prairie City in Oregon, almost directly on the centerline of this magnificent event.

Eastern Oregon offers some of the best chances for a clear, cloudless sky, and Prairie City is about as close to the centerline as you can get when the total eclipse occurs at 10: 24 AM on August 21st..

Comments off

Cellphones, Email and the new avenues for the old game

It has become ever less expensive to reach out to others. Email and telephone are now nearly free and the robots can roll through telephone numbers and address lists with ease. That means the scammers have a wide field to play in. You aren’t even safe out in the boonies any more as cell phone coverage spreads and remote state parks start to feature Wifi.

Katherine Rodriguez describes one: ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Phone Scam Has Police Warning People to Hang Up Immediately.

Police say answering the question “Can you hear me?” over the phone from an unknown caller can have serious consequences thanks to a new scam that is making the rounds in several states.

“You say ‘yes,’ it gets recorded and they say that you have agreed to something,” Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy for the Consumer Federation of America, told CBS News. “I know that people think it’s impolite to hang up, but it’s a good strategy.”

Police suggest taking the following steps to avoid this scam:

Do not answer the phone from numbers you do not recognize,
Do not give out personal information,
Do not confirm your number over the phone,
Do not answer questions over the phone.

Police urge those who do get caught in a scam to hang up the phone and call 911 instead.

I am not so sure about calling 911 as non-emergency (not threatening life or property) calls should go to the routine dispatch number but 911 is easier to remember.

Here’s the Federal Trade Commission page on phone scams. A search for Washoe County Sheriff scam report finds don’t be a victim.

Anyone who has been a victim of this scam, or who receives such a call, is encouraged to take down as much information as possible, such as a name and call back number, without giving any information away. Then, immediately contact the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office at (775) 328-3001.

Verizon has a rundown on What are Robocalls?

Robocalls are phone calls with prerecorded messages. These calls have increased in recent years because technology has made it cheap and easy for robocallers to make calls from anywhere in the world while hiding their identities by displaying fake Caller ID information. To Learn More visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

All calls with prerecorded telemarketing sales messages are illegal unless you agreed to be called. Some non-marketing robocalls (such as political and charitable calls to wireline telephones) are authorized by law in most states, even if they are unwanted.

Senior fraud seems to be a particular concern with special laws. Nevada Consumer Affairs says

Older Americans are targeted for fraud because they are the mostly likely demographic to have money in savings, own their home, and have excellent credit… all of which a fraudster will attempt to take advantage of. Also, seniors are less likely to report fraud.

The Nevada Senior Guide also has Tips for Staying Safe As a Senior Citizen by Mark Mahaffey.

the elderly grew up during decades when it was proper to be polite and trusting. This makes them less likely to be rude during a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting with a con artist. The con artist will keep pushing, and the elderly victim may just ‘give in.’

Financial crimes are devastating for anyone, but especially so for senior citizens. They not only feel afraid, but may begin to question their own ability to handle their own affairs. For an aging person already trying to hold on to independence as long as possible, this can be emotionally terrifying.

On the other hand, sometimes the effort to protect the elderly goes a bit too far. A neighbor got in trouble like this once in caring for his mother as a physician reported a bruise from a fall as potential abuse. For an explanation of the law, see Nevada “Elder Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation & Isolation” Laws (NRS 200.5099) (Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys)

It is a crime in Nevada to abuse, neglect, financially exploit, abandon or isolate the elderly. Certainly it is illegal to harm people of any age, but Nevada law carries harsher penalties for targeting “older persons.”

Caretakers and family members are often wrongfully accused of abusing elderly people in Nevada. These false allegations may stem from simple misunderstandings, innocent accidents or legitimate self-defense. But a conviction carries devastating penalties and mars the accuseds’ records, causing prospective employers not to consider them for jobs.

It’s a wide world out there and there are people from kids playing with fire to bone fide experienced criminals trying every door and window to find an opportunity for mischief.

Take Care.

Comments off

Traffic Controls and Unintended Consequences

There’s been a lot of emphasis put on distracted driving recently and most of it is a PC thing. More laws don’t necessarily mean more safety and speed laws have be a topic here to illustrate that. A PhysOrg report by Michelle Wheeler on a study that Strictly enforcing the speed limit may make drivers worse that brings these two driving problems together.

A UWA study found strict enforcement of the speed limit could be bad for road safety by making drivers focus on their speed rather than hazards.

It found people who drove under the stricter conditions were less likely to spot red dots that appeared in their peripheral vision. They also reported a higher mental workload.

Lead researcher, Dr Vanessa Bowden, says … “We came to the conclusion that [monitoring speed] is eating up their limited pool of visual and mental resources a little bit and taking their attention perhaps a bit away from the task of safe driving.”

“It’s what we want to do next with this, is see if it actually translates into more accidents,” Vanessa says.

This is reflected in the MUTCD (manual of uniform traffic control devices) published by the U.S. DOT. It says “When a speed limit within a speed zone is posted, it should be within 5 mph of the 85th-percentile speed of free-flowing traffic.” [guidance # 11]. Implicit here is that most drivers drive at a safe speed and they should not be subject to traffic restrictions that will distract them from the primary responsibility to drive safely.

In the section on Engineering Speed Limits, there is another item of note.

In terms of traffic law, speed limits should reflect the maximum reasonable and safe speed for normal conditions. That is speed limits should be acceptable as reasonable by most drivers and separate high and low risk speed behavior.

This acknowledges a social aspect of law. Those subject to the law must see it as ‘reasonable’ and with a proper purpose else they lose respect for the law and its enforcement. Speed enforcement often violates these concepts and the distracted driving laws are following suit. This is not good for either safety nor for law enforcement. Putting up a new law is easy. Finding a solution to poor driving habits and judgments is difficult. Conflict between law and good driving are destructive. Better solutions need to be found.

Comments off

Traffic Camera Citation Story

Adam MacLeod is an associate professor at Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and author of Property and Practical Reason (Cambridge University Press). He got a ticket because a camera took a picture of his car. He tells his story: That Time I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into the Constitutional Trial of the Century.

Traffic-camera laws seem like such minor, insignificant intrusions on liberty that few grasp their constitutional significance. But they reflect a profoundly mistaken view of American constitutionalism. One might say that the traffic camera is a sign of our times. Its widespread use and acceptance reveals how far we have drifted from our fundamental commitment to self-government. When our governing officials dismiss due process as mere semantics, when they exercise powers they don’t have and ignore duties they actually bear, and when we let them get away with it, we have ceased to be our own rulers.

When a cop admits to perjury on the witness stand, you know there is problem with the legal process. It is the “minor, insignificant intrusions on liberty” that flavor civil discourse and government effectiveness.

Think of this and the implications of the folks who decided to take the Dog Valley detour out of Verdi when I80 closed over the pass in the recent storm. There are all sorts of ways to get stuck in mud when driving.

Comments off

Travel Geology

The GPS Tracklog notes: New GPS App Shows Geological Points of Interest Along Route.

This app, created by the University of Minnesota Department of Earth Sciences and funded by the National Science Foundation, allows users to download a track and then use GPS to learn about interesting geological and fossil sites on a hike, road trip, or even flight.

The home website is http://fc.umn.edu/ and the app is available for both Android and for Apple. Here’s their blurb:

Flyover Country is a National Science Foundation funded offline mobile app for geoscience outreach and data discovery. The app exposes interactive geologic maps from Macrostrat.org, fossil localities from Neotomadb.org and Paleobiodb.org, core sample localities from LacCore.org, Wikipedia articles, offline base maps, and the user’s current GPS determined location, altitude, speed, and heading. The app analyzes a given flight path and caches relevant map data and points of interest (POI), and displays these data during the flight, without in flight wifi. By downloading only the data relevant to a particular flightpath, cache sizes remain reasonable, allowing for a robust experience without an internet connection.

From the list of sources, the app is quite a mash-up. It will be interesting to see how it works and whether budding amateur geologists can get a batter handle on the country they travel.

See also GeoSpace: Flyover Country—The next generation field-based research toolLake County News Chronicle WKS graduate creates smartphone app.

Comments off

Where is the Great Basin?

The question isn’t simple. You’d think the Great Basin was the area of the ancient Lake Lahontan or the area that drains into the Carson Sink. Links: Here Are a Few, But Great, Great Basin and Great Basin Divide Links provides a few other thoughts about the boundaries of the Great Basin. A Google Earth image is provided:

Google Earth image of the West with a lot of lines. The Great Basin divide according to me is in magenta, wrapping around the Great Basin. Note the two possibilities at Pahranagat Lake, and no Salton Sea.

It seems that the Sierra Mountains define the western border, The Snake River drainage is to the north and the Colorado River drainage defines the eastern and southern boundaries for some. That gets into a lot of territory over a wide range of elevations with most of it desert of one sort or another.

The blog has some interesting exploring of Nevada with a geologist’s point of view. It is a good resource for touring the Great Basin and getting a better handle on what you are seeing.

Comments off

Road trip games

Jonathon Ramsey on Autoblog: Our Top 5 Favorite Road Trip Games Of All Time — (No, We’re Not “There Yet”).

Road trip games, those boredom-battling tests of concentration and quick vision meant to speed the hours, are some of the closest things we have to auto mythology.

Like early tales of Zeus and the Chupacabra passed down by oral tradition, they mean a lot to us, some of them make us laugh and some scare the pants off us, and no one knows from whom, when or where they originated.

I Spy, Road Trip Bingo, A is for Armadillo, Alphabet, Cow Poker … what are your favorites?

These days, it seems that parents are looking at other ways to keep the kids occupied. Consider the Raspicar wireless media server projectI wanted a way to stream video files to different Ipads and ipods I own to entertain my 4 children during long car drives.” Maybe the Pokemon Go phenomena will get an adaptation to automotive travel? 

It used to be we’d get maps at gas stops and plot travels and take notes on locations on the paper maps. No more. It’s electronic maps, wikipedia, and a whole lot of games on a tablet. Things have changed.

Comments off

Nash 100 years setting the stage for the modern car

Jason Torchinsky repostrs that the Nash Turns 100 Today: Here’s Six Reasons Why It May Be The Most Influential Car Company Ever.

Nash Motors would have been a century old today, and while I suspect that most modern gearheads probably don’t give Nash much thought, they really should. For a defunct car company, we still feel Nash’s influence a surprising amount, in ways that are pretty basic and fundamental to how cars are today.

Nash was a player in developing Flow-through ventilation and modern car HVAC systems that are now taken for granted. The minimalists can also look at Nash’s Reclining seats and car-sleeping ideas. A lot of things we take for granted these days was non-existent not that long ago. Many baby boomers might remember cruising down 66 through the desert with only an evaporative cooler stuck in the window. Big innovations and small ones have made a lot of the risk and discomforts of getting there as things fading in memory.

Comments off

Summer reading

Looking for something with a bit less fluff than the usual for keeping the mind exercised this summer without having to dip into the wallet? Take a look at the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

On Vietnam, the volumes include Military Communications: A Test for Technology and Engineers at War as well as everything from a history of the special forces to logistics to medical evacuation to social and general history material. 

Choose your war, from the Revolution to Iraq and you’ll find reading on about any military topic from unit histories to medal winner stories to global government and social issues. There’s enough good stuff to find your own gems.

Comments off

What can I tow?

G.R. White thinks tow ratings are overrated. This is despite efforts like the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2807 tow-rating standard.

Alongside power, economy and payload, trailering ratings are the Holy Grail of light truck marketing. However, despite recently adopted Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards that put everyone on the same footing, the value of tow ratings is almost irrelevant in the real world.

There’s only one way to know what your pickup can tow, and it involves a trip to the scales, knowledge of what Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR), GVWR and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) are and how to calculate it all. Sure, the salesman is correct when they say your truck could pull this or that, but will they be in court or the service drive with you if something goes wrong?

The problem is that measures like in the J2807 standard have carefully specified conditions and assumptions and the actual usage may or may not reflect those conditions and assumptions. White also runs afoul of the measurement problem in his suggested solution as well. J2807 is an attempt at a s usability measure determined by actual performance evaluation. Weight ratings are engineering specifications that are estimated from design and materials considerations. A key item that should raise a red flag is when White refers to the legal system as the only time that argument has any merit is in cases of gross negligence.

Of course, you do not want to abuse the engineering specifications for your rig but you do need to be aware of their source. GAWR and wheel and tire ratings, for example, are close to individual component specific and that means they need careful attention. GVWR is more vague as it is about the vehicle as a system of parts. GCWR is even less precise as it depends upon assumptions about frontal wind area and other factors that depend upon specific circumstances. It also pays to keep in mind that, as engineering specifications, these ratings have a safety margin built in and there are also usually conditions and assumptions considered that can be manipulated for special circumstances. Speed and temperature are two of those conditions and assumptions that can be manipulated to adjust ratings, for instance. Sometimes, like for tires, these conditions are actually specified.

If you remember a family RV experience as a kid back in the 50’s or 60’s, you will recall a family sedan or station wagon with a 100-200 hp engine and a three speed transmission towing a trailer weighing maybe a ton or so. Downshifting on nearly any grade was to be expected and their wasn’t much in the way of creature comforts such as air conditioning or even bucket seats. These days, the tow vehicle is an SUV or pickup truck with nearly double the power of that old sedan and a transmission with double the gears, too. The trailer likely ways four tons or more. People seem to get irritated if their automatic transmission downshifts out of overdrive going up freeway grades and turning off the AC as suggested on I15 going East of Baker is not a consideration.

Yes, it’s prudent to make sure your rig is competent and capable before you buy but people also learn from experience. You find a tow vehicle and a trailer that fits your needs and is comfortable for your RV experience. The choice isn’t a permanent one as your needs, interests, and preferences will change over time. Equipment also keeps getting better, too.

Take care. Drive safe.

 

Comments off

An update on the motion of our regional representative to remove WBCCI affiliation with the SNU:

SNU members and friends,

Keep in mind that there will be no change in SNU operations or planned activities from any WBCCI decision. 

It is the WBCCI that is at risk as its decision will be about whether or not its Constitution and Bylaws mean what they say and whether or not the SNU represents its purposes and activities as represented to the state of Ohio and the IRS. This is why a page on _Questions to consider if you value WBCCI_ has been posted on the SNU website. See the index page for WBCCI Governance.

If you value the WBCCI, it is time to examine this case of its behavior and to make a stand – speak your voice – about what it is doing, how it functions and what should be done to make it a healthier and more vital organization.

Correspondence and presentations from WBCCI members and officials and other information has been added to the website to provide background and depth for the current case. More is added as it is found. Be an informed member of the organization and do your part to make WBCCI an organization that upholds its legacy and purpose; an organization where we can take pride in our membership.

Also don’t forget! Next week is the rally at Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area – camping, with friends, in our Airstreams, to enjoy and learn about the special nature of the Eastern Slope of the Sierra and the Great Basin. This is also Amateur Radio Field Day weekend so it will be a good time for members with ham radio licenses to exercise their emergency communications skills, too.

— 

SNU HQ

Comments off

Don’t buy blind

Steve Lehto says Don’t Buy An RV! – Lehto’s Law Ep. 45 in an 18 minute Youtube video. He’s a consumer protection lawyer and has lots of sad tales to tell.

Published on Aug 19, 2015 — Why you shouldn’t buy an RV – or what you should know before you do. Recreation Vehicles are very different from cars when it comes to how the law protects you.

His point is that an RV is a complex collection of many systems put together by folks under a lot of pressure and often bought by people who don’t really know what they are getting into. Automotive Lemon Laws and consumer protections are not as stringent for RV’s and the risks are significant.

Caveat Emptor (wikipedia) applies. Know what you think you are buying. Check to see that what you think you are buying is most likely what you are paying for. And know the RV lifestyle needs and requirements related to the particular RV you are buying. Expect things to break or not work as you expect and know what to do when that happens.

Comments off

Maps, USGS, online

From the other side of the country the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Equipped takes note of Nearly Every USGS Topo Map Ever Made. For Free. from the USGS Map Locator and Downloader — “an incredible treasure trove for both map junkies and casual hikers alike.

One important thing to note is that, in general, the most recent topo maps listed are markedly different from their predecessors. Part of the new US Topo Series, these maps have been created as PDFs with geospatial extensions (GeoPDF), which gives you the ability to turn on and off different layers (contour lines, place names, water features, etc.) for viewing, depending on what information you are interested in. Unfortunately, however, trails are not currently included as one of these layers—a significant drawback for hiking.

Lastly, and one of the single-most useful online tools I’ve discovered in recent years, is the ability to overlay every USGS topo map on top of Google Earth, another free (and extremely powerful) tool to add to your trip planning quiver.

While you might be able to take the digital copy down to a local printshop to get a large paper copy, buying the paper copy from the USGS store might get you a better copy at less cost. There’s just something about a big map with lots of detail that isn’t there with the same map viewed on a display. Each has its uses: one is great for virtual exploring with a big table and a good light. The other works for active navigation and map editing. It’s also a lot easier to carry around an extensive map library when it is in the form of digital storage rather than large sheets of paper.

Right now, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Equipped blog has posts on the status of the New England fall color and Railbikes. Looks like a good blog to watch, even if I’m getting back east anytime soon.

Comments off

For the survivalist or some interesting reading of classic home how-to literature

The Survivor Library says it is about how to survive when technology doesn’t – classic survivalist meme. The Library Index includes 106 categories of ‘how-to’ out of copyright books. The cookbooks collection has an extensive collection mostly from the 19th century up to about 1922. The books are available in both PDF and epub versions. The epub version works for your eBook reader but sometimes the conversion has glitches.

If you are interested in science, technology, and home-making as it was 150 years ago, this library should provide many interesting resources.

Comments off

Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains, A visit with pictures by a geologist

She says she is Looking for Detachment and the latest post is about a geologist’s First Trip into the Ruby Mountains of Nevada. The event was the 2nd Annual Great Basin Rendezvous of the Nevada Mineral Exploration Coalition.

If you want to see what you’ve been missing in North East Nevada complete with a bit of geology, take at look. Here’s an example:



“At this point, where a falling rock sign appears on the side of the road, the overall U-shaped nature of the glacially carved canyon can be seen.
 The main part of Lamoille Canyon forms the foreground right of the road and highway sign, and it continues to the far left where cliffs of brownish gneiss, marble, and granite abound. The Right Fork of Lamoille Creek shoots off to the right, into the U-shaped canyon where its eastern, sunlit slopes are covered by green, yellow, and orange aspen trees.”

there’s more … go see!  

Go visit, too. Fall is time for color and sharp horizons in Nevada. As always, prepare for very cool mornings and beware of the potential for early storms. 

Comments off

Squirrels

Some call them rats with PR. They don’t hibernate but they do hunker down when it’s cold or the weather is bad. Since they live off nuts with an occasional bird or bird egg and insects and whatnot, we probably ought to avoid putting out peanuts for the Blue Jays. Most of those peanuts get stashed and that means the squirrels can probably get a good meal robbing the Blue Jay stash. They are ‘cute’ but there are reasons people don’t like them around. GruntDoc has a nice picture about why the War on Squirrels got started. They chew on wires and other things.

A few years ago, some squirrels built a nest in the V of my B-Van V-8 engine. The smell of roasting sagebrush on the annual spring trip to the smog and lube center was quite nice but also quite a fire hazard. It took a bit of doing to get into the area to remove all the debris and clean things out. Now, its just another item on pre-trip the checkoff list.

Comments off

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »