Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's Getting Cold

Over the last week, the temperature has been down right cold. I decided to finish putting extra insulation in the attic. When I wired an overhead light in the extra bedroom, I discovered an area in the attic that did not get any blown insulation. This area would explain why when feeling the ceiling in the master bedroom this summer and it was hotter than the rest of the dry wall.

I took some more fiberglass insulation up and filled in the area and added some more through out where I traveled to get to that area. As I moved through the attic, I found it to be very tight quarters up there. A very useful tool was Brinkman headlight that has several white LEDs. I really needed both hands free up there to contort around that small space and move insulation to and fro. It was good to have it.

An added feature to the headlight is that it has a red LED for night work. When I was out working on the telescope it is nice to have a red light so the eyes are more acclimated to the night. When I made my Mars post last night, I thought the planet was overhead but looking at my telescope this morning it was elevated to 63 degrees. After more thought, I did have the telescope on a slope. I will try and look at it tonight as well.

Went to a very nice wedding this weekend. Here is a picture the church ceiling while I was testing my camera before the ceremony.


I just came in from looking at Mars in the telescope. It is very bright and very large in my viewfinder. The image I saw was white circle with dark pattern near its center. I was viewing as it was almost directly overhead which means it did not have as much atmospheric distortion.

I only wish that the neighbors would turn their lights off more. My neighborhood is not the greatest to for sky viewing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

100 Things About Louisville, Kentucky

The Courier-Journal produces a free weekly called Velocity. I pick it up time to time and enjoy reading its younger, hip content. They recently had their 100th issue and commemorated by publishing a "100 Things You Didn't Know About Louisville" section. The full list can be found at:

Things I found interesting:

#21 Louisville has a company called National Products that produced disco balls. I wonder what kind of market there is for this product?

#37 The steamboat, The Belle of Louisville, is the oldest in operation in the United States. It was built in 1914. I remember the Sunday morning I was cycling down by the riverfront and thought the Belle was sitting in the water funny. It turns out someone had tried to sink her. The boat was repaired but it was not cheap.

#67 That Jefferson Memorial park is the largest American urban park at 5,500 acres.

It an interesting newspaper. Check it out at

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Trip to Indianapolis to See Whad'ya Know

Over the weekend, we visited Indianapolis to see the public radio show Whad'ya Know? It was an interesting show but the crowd seemed a lot smaller than the one in Louisville. The audience seemed low key as well. I gathered that the public television and radio stations are tied together in Indy. The show was at an arts building at a local high school. They had a nice facility and plenty of parking. The picture to the right shows the stage the show was broadcast from. It is somewhat blurry since the area was pretty dark and I could not hold the camera steady with the longer exposure time.

The Louisville crowd may have been in a smaller theater and having the host open the show by opening a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and start drinking definitely set the stage for that show. The band was definitely enjoying it as well. At the Indy show, we were seated on the left side of the theater. Michael Feldman comes down the right during the first half show and interacts with the audience and then the left half at the second part of the show. He got within 3 seats of us and this picture was taken. It is pretty cool that they allow cameras at the show.

During the show, he interviewed a writer from the Indy Star who was pretty good. He also interviewed a writer who was professor at Butler College (or University). She wrote an interesting book about Indiana manufacturing, called Fabrications. I might read it, if I can find it in the library. I found it nice that after the show, the cast stayed around and allowed the audience to come up on stage and have their pictures taken. You can learn more about the show by going to

Here is a picture of a waterfall on a river that runs through part of the city. Very relaxing area.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pictures from Myrtle Beach

This weekend I had a chance to look at some pictures on the camera memory card. The picture of the flower was taken in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was in a planter on the patio of a hotel that was next to the beach.

It has such a vibrant red color that stood out on that windy, overcast day.

The picture to the left shows the overcast weather over a pretty much deserted beach in September 2005. Myrtle Beach is a nice place but it really is geared to golfers. It is a nice place to fly into though the airport is small and not very busy. After flying out of New York or Atlanta and having to sit on the runway, their airport was a pleasant change.

Here is another picture of a flower that was reddish-pink. I liked the contrast of the flower to the rest of the planter.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Polystyrene-Cement Housing

I was listening to the BBC on the radio and they interviewed someone from the Federation of American Scientists. The story was highlighting a building technology that stand up to hurricanes and earthquakes. Here is a link to their paper on this:

It is an interesting idea. I have heard of houses in my area that have foam insulation used to create forms for concrete.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

More Cycling Musings

One thing about cycling is you have time to reflect on the surrounding environment and current events. During the ride yesterday, my group came upon a train crossing the road we were traveling. It appeared to be long train, maybe 50 cars. At first, I was seeing stacks of vehicle frames going by, probably making their way to the Ford plant. Cars filing by then were loaded with containers that appeared to have come off of ships. I read about the large trade deficit with other countries and this brings the realization home. If you go to Wal-Mart and start looking at where things are made, it becomes very obvious that the United States is importing a huge amount of manufactured goods. All those shipping containers I saw just gave me another solid item to attach that deficit number to.

Another thing that I realized on the ride was our mortality and the how older people reflect back. The young tend see what is coming up and where they can go. Older generations reflect back on what was and who is gone. Older riders in the group reflected on where they had grown up as we passed houses in their old neighborhoods. One woman told me her grandfather had lived in a spot now rebuilt with brick townhouses. I would hear stories from the ride group like "this is the house I earned money in high school cleaning" or "there is the church I attended as a youth".

Last, our society has made high technology disposable. When I started using computers decades ago, equipment was somewhat rare and very expensive. So you valued the electronics and hobbled together things to make computers do some limited tasks. Today, all this is very common place and computers are orders of magnitude more powerful. As I was riding, I came cross a pile of discarded items on the side of street. I counted 3 monitors that were either 17" or 19" in size waiting to be hauled off. It is amazing that technology has permeated through our society where once expensive devices are not even attempted to be fixed but just thrown in garage heaps.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Tour de Spirit -- Louisville, Kentucky

Today I rode in a bicycle event called the Tour de Spirit benefiting Urban Spirit. What is Urban Spirit? Quoting from their own literature, " Urban Spirit is a non-profit retreat and poverty education center, dedicated to being a voice for those who live in poverty, and to bringing change through new perspectives."

The ride offered three loops to explore Louisville. I chose to ride 2 loops: the 12 mile route 1 which toured western Louisville and 14 mile route two going through downtown and the business district. I rode though several areas of town that I do not think I have been in before. It was an interesting ride. The most spectacular new thing I saw was the fountain at St. James St.

Joe Ward came up with the ride routes. I bought two of his books "Wheeling Around Louisville" and "Wheeling Around the Bluegrass". He signed them for me as well. More information about Joe Ward can be found at http:// and he was interviewed on a local radio show look at the show for November 13, 2003:

The ride started at 8 AM so only about 30 people were there. I am not sure the total number of riders but they may have been larger groups that came after we left. It was a chilly morning start but since we were riding into streets that had a lot of active traffic, I can understand now why we went out early. The less cars the better for bicycling.

At lunch a big thank you to Papa John's, based in Louisville, for a lot of delicious pizzas. Volunteers also made cookies for desert. Plenty of good food at the SAG as well.

All and all it was a good ride. The ride map included a handout entitled "Things to Notice as You Cycle Through Louisville's Neighborhoods". I wish I had seen it my packet before we started. It listed what different numbers on the map signified. Item 9 on route 1 was marking Muhammad Ali's boyhood home. So I passed that house not realizing it.

Find out more about Urban Spirit at:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

MPG and How Save Gas for Future Generations

Well, all Americans can see the price of gasoline is going up. My area of the country the price is approaching $3 a gallon. So I started driving the subcompact car about every day to work. It is a pretty nice ride, just have to watch out for semi-trucks and large SUVs that can blot out the sun when I get too close to them.

After reading a Wall Street Journal article about the economics of whether to switch to a hybrid or not. The author mentioned this site: where you can find all kinds of useful information about cars and conserving our favorite natural resource (well, behind water & air). I logged in and started tracking my vehicle. Right now I am averaging 36 mpg which is the car's highway rating. I think I can reach 40 mpg if I drive the speed limit and avoid rapid accelerations.

Another change I might make is switching to synthetic oil. The cars are getting older and you do not have to change the oil but every 10,000 miles. Right now I put a Dupont engine cleaner in the car to help clean out the 12 year old engine. I will probably use regular 5W-30 for the next several changes. What prompted my interest in synthetics those was this article in Consumer reports about some cars that have problems with oil sludge:
Since my wife drives a car that has this problem, I switched her oil over to Mobil One synthetic on the next change. This oil change brought up another point can I mix old synthetic oil with conventional oil in the recycle container? After going to the Mobil One site, I found that you can. Here is there site with the benefits of using synthetic:

It is amazing what air resistance does to gas mileage. This site shows how an engineer modified his VW Beetle to get better gas mileage with aerodynamic wing. Check it out at:

Closing Thoughts: I read or hear people saying there should be a boycott of gas stations on some particular day to show them not to raise prices. I think that is not really proving anything, you still need the gas. Instead people should drive the speed limit, not try to rocket accelerate when the light turns green, and maintain proper tire air pressure. This behavior if performed in mass will create less demand for fuel, that will LOWER THE PRICE OF GAS. After driving every day, this is a pipe dream. I see illogical driving every time I go out: people accelerating toward red lights just to have to hard brake when they get their, during morning rush hour, vehicles barreling 10-20 mph over the speed limit into an area mile or so ahead where traffic is moving 10-20 mph so they have to come to a stop minutes later, cars following too close to the one in front of them so they are hitting their brakes every 30 seconds or so, etc. As the price of gas rises, I think this type of stuff will become less and less because there will be less and less cars.