Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I thought that taking a close-up would help me to identify this butterfly...  Perhaps not.  It is possibly a Black Swallowtail Butterfly.  Their caterpillars will eat Queen Anne's Lace which grows nearby.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

 Great Horned Owl.  Sittin' in a tree.  Takin' a nap.  In an ol' Cottonwood tree.  Yup.

Bye now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


It's really just an excuse to try out my sister's awesome chocolate frosting!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

 Just trying to take pictures of a beautiful full moon shining down on the river. It's harder to get good pictures than it looks!
This is why I like image stabilization and optical zoom.  This is just a point-and-shoot camera!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why do I think this is funny?

...actual screenshot from Wikipedia today.

Creative Commons attribution and all that, I think that humor and criticism justify invoking "fair-use".   Re-blog or make your own!

EDIT: 2012/04/06: I am also posting this on ThingsAboutComputers.blogspot.com where screenshots will appear from now on. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Amtrak is old.

I saw the Amtrak 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento today. The train will be actually open on Saturday and Sunday.

Fall is here--finally!

I am glad to see the leaves changing colors :-)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Size Suprise!

The Southern Pacific Railroad owned 339 hard-working GP9 diesel locomotives.  They were ubiquitous right up until the UP merger, and, to me, symbolize the SP like no other.  Of course I had to have them for my model railroad!  

But nothing is ever that simple. 
I started with an HO scale model (the small one in the picture) which was not really a GP9 at all: it was a GP18 kit made by Proto2000.  Still, close enough for my purposes ...until I got the great idea to build an accurately super-detailed GP9 locomotive ...in O scale, which is larger--larger enough to see the painstaking details, I hoped!

Well, it definitely is, and this is what I wasn't prepared for: I knew O scale was twice as long as HO, but it turns out that it's also twice as tall and twice as wide.  My new model GP9 is eight-times bigger!!  Yes, O scale models have volume and mass that would make Archimedes proud.  

The problem is that instead of the expected twice-as-much amount of detail, the locomotive project is soaking up orders-of-magnitude more.

Don't even ask how much more time is going into this either.

(If you want to know what to get me for Christmas, Athearn make a beautifully detailed HO scale GP9 now)

(PS--the O scale GP9 is a discontinued Red Caboose kit.  And don't get me started on rebuilding the drive-train or if I am going to build it to Proto48 standards) 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Echo Lake

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Land of coffee

...And all they have is "instant"
Bogotá, Colombia; Aeropuerto El Dorado. Look closely at the picture--I don't see any gold either ;-)
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lima, night.

En el Parque de la Reserva.
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Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Perpetually foggy.
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Machu Picchu today!

Picture of picture I took (other camera) of looking down on Machu Picchu citadel from Huayna Picchu.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back in Cusco, an Incan storm drain cover.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Town of Pisac

The ruins are high on the side of the valley, looking down on the town. Big hike back down!
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Inca ruins!

In Pisac.
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Plaza de Armas, Cusco

...was deserted when we ate dessert for breakfast this morning. Should be. The festivities, parades, and fireworks continued until 3am local time.
The catedral is on the left, [out of shot] the tent in the middle covers the fountain which is being repaired (ha!) And the other church is the "La Compania de Jesús" ...vantage point is the "Plus Grill" which is above our hostel.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Today is the Desfile General--Saludo Al Cusco ...a parade that celebrates it's namesake city--but it's not just any parade, these people take things very, very seriously! The main square is packed and the parade is still going as strong as it was this morning! It's 7:10pm local time and it's been dark and chilly already for a couple hours!
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Because it used to be a monastery

...there is a 300 year-old tree in the courtyard of El Monistario. It had several birds-nests in it, including a pair of doves. Apparently the Quechua name is "Ur-picha" which comes from their word for heart. Hmmm, I learned something.
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Lima, leaving for Cusco

What look like mountains on the horizon is actually an island off the coast.
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Pay Pirux Hostel in Callao, Lima, Peru

Rooftop garden patio next to our rooms :-)
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Costa Rica!!!!!!!!!!!

This is what I'm looking at :-)
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Woodland, California: 
...a very interesting maintenance-of-way train: a truck/crane on a flatcar. Straps, chain binders, blocks of wood everywhere.  Love how the truck's outriggers are blocked up on the deck of the flatcar.  The flatcar itself it is interesting--I think it had (originally) a bulkhead on each end that would have been the same height as the locomotive, SERA 134--which itself is an ex-Santa Fe GP7 loco that was rebuilt by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe at the locomotive shops in Topeka, Kansas and now has its own distinctive characteristics.  Plenty to geek out on. They were replacing crossties on the old Sacramento Northern trestle over the Yolo bypass.  
...also a neat Southern Pacific-style high-level switch stand.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Alien plants & beaver poop

What look like long, brown alien leaves are actually matted algae that are drying out.
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Alien plants & beaver poop

The beavers have been as busy as, um, beavers--chopping down trees and eating bark. This one looks like it was too big to be dragged away to the dam (damnit!) and was eaten en situ.
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Alien plants & beaver poop

...and this, with all the woodchips in it, may be beaver poop.
Excuse me, beaver scat.
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<Edit: rearranged these last three posts into order. Obviously, it would be better if they threaded into the same post all by themselves, but no. Be sure to check out my blog where I do nothing but complain about Blogger...>

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wide-view of wider river

I just want to share the sweepingness of it all.
Any suggestions on how best to share odd pics like this? It's easy to stitch images from my phone together (like this 180-degree shot), but much harder to display...  

Neither am I pleased with the upload--as the original consisted of several 3MP shots, the resolution was quite high. Not anymore :-/ ...what happened?


EDIT: here is the link for the original-size picture.  you can right-click "Save Link As..."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I like my phone--even if I hardly ever use it as an actual phone.

Honestly, it's amazing that this level of technology is finally mainstream.  I can already tell that I'm a technological throwback because I still like having a qwerty interface with buttons (no matter how small)--but buttons are, like,  so 2008.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Retroactive post!

hmmmm... I haven't posted for a little while.  Quick!--make it look like I've been persistently prolific!

(Blogger>Post Options+Scheduled at retroactive date = better than time travel!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This goes without saying.

These signs are posted all over the coast of  Northern California, even in Crescent City.

Crescent City?

Yeah.  What happened there after the Japan quake was nothing, really.A couple years ago, in the concrete-bunker hallways of the Humboldt State University Marine Laboratory at Trinidad Head, I came across this nifty poster: Tsunamis and Crescent City.  Not being detail-oriented and having ADD, I didn't actually read it, just clicked and saved it for later... just kidding!  Actually, reading it helped me to understand why all the tsunami warning signs were everywhere.  You can read it too--full size, go here: *picture link*

Far be it from me to say that anyone should know better, but, really: how many people knew about the tsunami hazards before this recent Japanese earthquake?

It is sad that it seemingly takes tragedy to bring such anywhere near the forefront of our consciousnesses.  May we learn from it and do better.

EDIT: updated picture link

Monday, March 7, 2011

Turntable (rail)

I think that turntables are neat. They were once quite common on railroads, back when steam engines that needed to be turned to point the right direction were also common. Now, they are much more rare--rarer still to find one working. 

As a work of engineering, they are quite interesting: on the central pivot they have a bridge which must easily support the weight of a locomotive but be able to turn smoothly in the pit.   

This is a nifty style of turntable, either called an A-frame or a "gallows" turntable. A recently-constructed reproduction stands on the site of an 1867 turntable of the Sacramento Valley Railroad in downtown Folsom, California. In January, I visited the 5-inch scale, 15-inch gauge Redwood Valley Railway, in Tilden Park, Berkeley. They have a nice A-frame turntable, which exudes character with a mossy patina. It features an incomplete perimeter circle rail and pit wall--possible because the locomotive is balanced on the center while being spun. Also note the square "roundhouse". They actually use it, which is neat in-and-of-itself.

Simple, yet well-engineered, turntables are to me proof that not all railroad engineers just drive trains :-)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Y0utub3: Embedded

Gratuitous self-promotion--sort of; actually just testing pasting the 3v1l "Embed" code into my regular blog post.

Lesson: do it in "Edit HTML" and don't lean over the railing when the whale dives under the boat--get smacked in the kisser!

Friday, February 25, 2011

When apples go bad

Last halloween, in addition to carving a ferocious flaming skull out of a pumpkin, I got out my Sharpie and created a cheerful smile (for an ogre) on a small green apple.  It was really too cute to be scary for halloween.

That was four months ago.

Now he's scary.
...and just think what he'll be looking like by next halloween!

LOL Chickens

Write your own caption...


Personally, since I didn't see any dogs, I think that they've been replaced.  The "DO NOT PET" still applies though.

Seen outside the Folsom zoo in Folsom, CA. Photo by Jess.

They have a zoo in Folsom?  That's funny too!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aerobile: "Arrowplane"


I think it didn't do well because with a name like Waterman people were expecting a boat--or at least a flying boat!

Registered as a motorcycle in CA?

I'm impressed with the tail-less design. It looks like a hangglider, although that technology was developed later, and hanggliders are controlled by shifting the weight of the pilot... does the arrowplane's fuselage hang from the wing and tilt? It wasn't clear to me how stable the thing was without a tail or canard...

There are public-domain plans out there for a similarly-sized fixed-wing glider, simply called the "Goat" ...of which there are powered variations too, but the Arrowplane is way cooler! Makes me wonder if there are public-domain airframe blueprints out there--did Waterman release the blueprints to the public at some point in time, or has his copyright expired? ...his plane is in the Smithsonian and he showed a version to the "Bureau of Air Commerce"--blueprints in public records?

...I want one too, but the only way to get one may be to make your own!
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Waterman liked puns, he variously called his creations Aerobile, Arrowbile, and Arrowplane.

Someone else wants one too! Their post is here: http://www.crowndot.com/arrowbile-test-flight

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chips! (Or "crisps" ...but actually dried fruit!)

I've seen Jackfruit, and not knowing what it was, called it, "big-green-lumpy fruit"...!
These chips come from the local Korean supermarket. It's packed in LA, and I'm going to guess that's Vietnamese ("mít sâ'y khô") ...but where did the fruit come from?--no sé! It is dried fruit, but apparently it is fried in vegetable oil too--not greasy and kind of like banana chips. Mmmmmm!

As an aside: I'm still trying to get the blog-thingys to work right. This should be on ElTristan on both posterous and blogger.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Like Fireworks

...the tree's blossoming petals are.

This is the same tulip tree with flowers as: http://eltristan.posterous.com/warming-up ...just a couple days later, for comparison.

I think I will be using posterous infrequently from now on.
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Happy Valentine's!!!

...I remember when I used to be single and bitter. Now I'm all stressed with reservations, flowers, gifts, the card, etc--what happened?!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

...this is the awesomest jack-o-lantern ever! (I carved it myself)  Have a haunting halloween!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October 23, 2010—Tristan Morrow

These are interesting times for the stock market and investors. One thing to watch is gold. Gold? Sold by the ounce, gold, on this day in October of 1990, was $371.65—the London p.m. fix price.

Today, two decades later, gold is $1322.50—again, the London p.m. fix price. To sum up, that’s $47.5425 per year per ounce(17% annual return)—but only a 355% return over 20 years!

From the same time in October 1990 to now—October 23, 2010—the S&P 500 went from $304.71 to $1183.08. That’s a meager 278% return on investment. (13.9% annual) Gold is clearly a better investment, right?

The marketing literature on gold will often claim that gold is the “one thing” that will always beat the markets. Actually, you could have sold your S&P 500 investment in 2000 for a 378% return after only 10 years, or in 2007 for 400%—for clearly higher annual returns of 37% and 23%. Gold, conversely, hasn’t peaked in the past anywhere near where it is now, until recently. Also, the “gold versus the S&P500” scenario is just that: one scenario. The S&P500 index being a sort of aggregated average of stocks, there is the implication that 50% of the stock returns are higher than that average—although most will be within one standard deviation of that; my point is that it is not possible for gold to outperform itself the way that an individual stock can beat the index. You buy gold, and it performs at the spot price for gold, and it will never outperform that.

Gold marketing literature will often claim that gold is the “one thing” that will outperform the markets, or that gold is again that “one thing” that will—or has historically—been a top performer. And, indeed yes, you could have purchased gold in 1990 for $371.65 per ounce.

Or, in October 1990, you could have purchased Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and, 63 cents in dividends and two 2:1 stock splits later, gone from $9.09 per share to 4x $307.47 …a mere 13536%—yes, 13,536%—return over twenty years.

Your call.

Good luck in your search for what that “one thing” will be, from today moving forward. However, it seems to me that it is unlikely to be gold.

(Historic gold price data from http://www.kitco.com/scripts/hist_charts/yearly_graphs.plx ...cross checked for validity.)

October 23, 2010—Tristan Morrow