Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween Post: Zombie Planets!

From a series of NASA/JPL posters:

You can find the rest over at CNN.  Happy Halloween y'all.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Favorite MTB Accessories

There's a new series of articles at the Dirt Rag site where they ask prominent bikers "What's your favorite MTB accessory?"  So far, three articles up:
Me?  Easy: a hydration pack with a liter or two of cargo space (here's my current one).  In addition to water, these can haul all kinds of useful things down the trail: hand saws; and, on a related note, first aid kit; mini pump, lunch, dig-dig tool & TP, etc.  Pfft, I've even biked with a complete shortwave station, just to prove it could be done.

So what's your favorite bike accessory?  And what's the most unusual thing you've carried in a hydration pack?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Today: The Internet Turns 50

Fifty years ago today, the first information was passed on what would eventually grow into today's internet.  Article at Fast Company.

That is all.  Back to your regular web surfing.

Red Bull Rampage at Dirt Rag

Article and video here:

Woo.  Makes my palms sweat just watching that.

I'm going to take a moment to remind all my family and friends that this kind of "mountain biking" has about as much to do with my woods-riding as tight-rope walking has to do with me going for a trail hike.

Anyway, it's an impressive performance.  Not really my cup of coffee though.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Coffeneuring Stop #5: Bethel Bike Trails

A simple coffee break in the middle of a mountain bike ride.  The details:
1. where: Bethel Bike Trails in Desoto N.F., north of Biloxi MS.  Specifically, on the Couch Trail where it turns to follow Tuxachanie Creek.
2. date: 10/27/19
3. what: black Community Columbian, fresh brewed & hauled in a thermos
4. ride details: a beautiful, cool, slightly cloudy late-October morning for a MTB ride
5. mileage: 2.1 (trailhead-creek-&-back); 24 total for the day.

Met up at the trailhead with a friend from work at 8, rode S. Bethel, N. Pine Lizard, Couch, Bailout, and S. Pine Lizard.  Swapped out pack at the truck – hydration to caffeination – for a quick side-track back on Couch Trail again, but just to where it meets Tuxachanie Creek.  We polished off two mugs each by the creek, then pedaled back to the trailhead to re-swap out pack, then were off for caffeine-fueled runs through Briar Patch, Badlands, Bailout, then back to the trailhead again via S. Pine Lizard.  A full morning's ride!

Quasi-panoramic view.  Brown water in the creek, brown water in the mug.  The downed log on the right made a good coffee bench.  Dig that Coffeneuring 2018 patch on the pack.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Coffeeneuring Stop #4: Buttercup Cafe

An easy stop for lunch and coffee.  The particulars:
1. where: The Buttercup on Second Street, Bay St. Louis MS
2. date: 10/26/19
3. what: plain ol' black coffee, 3x refills over the course of lunch
4. details: cooling weather just after a cold front cleared through; 69F and cloudy; CX bike (head tube and handlebars can be seen through the porch railing)
5. distance: 4.6 miles round-trip

It's a nice, damp fall day here on the Coast with the weather cooling quickly in the wake of a cold front merged with the remnants of just-barely-rates tropical storm Olga.  A good day for coffee(!), a reuben, sliced grilled tomatoes, and cinnamon roll bread pudding.  That last is about to put me down for a nap, worth every carbo-gram of the thing.

With #4 in the bag, we're over the half-way mark.  The next three coffee stops are charted out, subject to the whims of weather and social visits of course.  Should be an easy spin from here to completion of the 2019 Coffeeneuring Challenge.

T.S. Nestor and the Popham Building

Tropical Storm Nestor slung past the Apalachicola area last weekend, and while there wasn't a lot of damage, the results do give some food for thought on how a proposed project should proceed.  Here are three articles from The Times covering the issue:

I'm not saying what to do here.  My mind is not made up, nor do I (yet) vote there, nor have I heard all sides of the issue.  However, I do know that the Popham building is very low, has flooded repeatedly, and has been a commercial flail-about for at least the last 40 years.  Sometimes, it is time to stop pouring good money after bad and just let go.  On the other hand, the building is extremely picturesque, still might be put to good use (if anybody can figure that part out), and is right there at the eastern gateway to the town.  Sometimes, it is time to go to the mat to save a historic building.

Anyway, food for thought.

Edit, sometime much later: Those carousel pictures tend to go away, so here's the pic of the Popham from the first linked article:
Better wear your hip boots if you're doing business in the Popham.

Friday, October 25, 2019

New Issue of Dirt Rag is On the Way

While I usually don't make such a big deal about Yet Another issue of a 30 year old magazine coming along the pipe, it is worth mentioning that DR has largely gone back to cover art, returning from a misbegotten ten year experiment with photos.  Those photos just never fit the feel of the magazine.  While the occasional muddy-but-smiling picture was welcome in the early years, it was always the cover art that set the tone for the contents.  The "some random dude riding a gnarly chunk of trail" pics just left me flat.

So, Welcome Back to the Cover Art!  You can read up on this upcoming issue at

Also, I kind of dig the new "bolt"logo.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Deer Season Commeth

Deer season is almost here, so mountain bikers and hikers be warned.  As the usual note-to-self, here are the watch-out dates in southeast Mississippi:

Nov 9 – 22: Youth Season, for supervised teenagers; usually pretty sparse on hunters.
Nov 23 – Dec 1: Gun w/dog, this is the one to watch out on.
Dec 2 – 15: Primitive season, which is generally OK.  These guys are the careful ones.
Dec 16 – 23: Gun, another one to watch out on.
Dec 24 – Jan 22: Gun w/dog; again, watch out.

There are also some primitive phases, some of which we're already in.  At least, wear orange.  You can get the entire scoop here:

While none of this is optimal of the hikers and bikers, the major dates to stay out of the woods are from Nov 23 – Dec 1 and then from Dec 16 – Jan 22.  As for the rest... read the above-linked flyer, make up your own mind.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Psst. Hey buddy, wanna buy a never-flown Saturn I?

Also courtesy of The Darling Daughter, this article at Vintage News about how NASA is giving away one of their old Saturn 1 rockets.  The catches are that you need to represent a qualified museum or something similar, and you need a quarter-million bucks to move it.  Up-front, and I suspect they don't take bitcoin.

Side Note: One of these days, and fairly soon, I'm going to have to build and fly a model of one of these.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Pretty Much the "Can Fix Anything" Box

Found over at W3DLQ's page:


For you non-hams out there who don't get the humor, the radio's the ubiquitous Yaesu FT-60, which is about as all-round useful as a multitool crossed with vicegrips with a fold-out ratchet wrench attachment.

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Few Lines of Code that Changed Everything

Courtesy of The Darling Daughter, this article from Slate:

Go and read.  This is the history of the last 60 years, and how it has changed humanity forever.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Coffeeneuring Stop #3: PJ's in The Bay

Continuing along at a good pace, made a Sunday afternoon stop at the local PJ's on Main Street.  The particulars:
1. where: PJ's Coffee, downtown Bay St. Louis MS
2. date: 10/20/19
3. what: "Grind 35" dark roast, large
4. ride details: "crisp October weather," only 82 degrees.  Rode the CX bike.
5. distance: 4.6 miles round-trip.

After putting in 30 miles at the Bethel Bike Trails this morning, I needed a caffeine jolt.  A short road ride to flush out the legs after getting cleaned up really helped things feel better.

Here, have some pics:

Didn't want to sit inside (look at that sky!), but the sunshine was a little intense.  Gathered things up and moved across the street and down the block to a bench in the shade of... I can't remember what the business is now, used to be Jerome's Department Store.  Top two pics: outside of PJ's.  Bottom two pics: The Social Chair on the corner of Main and 2nd, and PJ's, a little up the street.

With #3 in the bag, we're back on track to easily make all seven stops by the mid-November event finish.  What next?  Depends entirely upon the weather next weekend.

Speaking of which...

New Music: OCMS Live at the Ryman

That was a treat last night, when Old Crow Medicine Show popped by the Saturday night Opry to play a couple of songs and announce the release of their new album, Live at the Ryman.  My copy's already ordered, should have it by the end of the week.  That's the way the cool kids hear about new music these days: live, on AM radio, via skywave.  That AN-200 loop antenna really helps, it's a pretty good way from Nashville to the Gulf.

BTW, before you reach for that Amazon link, consider looking over at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop to get your copy.  They support WSM 650, the Opry, and the general roots country music scene.  Way better to do business with them.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Hurricane Lily in the Yard

Nothing profound, just a flower.  At least it's a lily, not a full-on hurricane.  Seen enough of those running around in the yard for the moment.

Funny thing though, this is the only one this year, and it's a month or so later than the usual blooming time.  Weird year, between this and the relative dearth of banana spiders.

Coffeeneuring Stop #2: Mockingbird Cafe

The 'Bird is a must-do in Bay St. Louis, coffeeneuring or not.  The particulars:

1. where: Mockingbird Cafe, Bay St. Louis MS
2. date: 10/19/19
3. what: tripple machiato (the real kind, and yes the barista asked; they have to in these degenerate times)
4. ride details: warming up and turning sunny day, into the mid-70s
5. distance: 4.4 miles round-trip

Rode the CX bike, which is about perfect for this kind of get-around stuff.  Narrowly missed the halloween Witch Walk; probably for the best, might've gotten turned into a newt otherwise.  The costumes were... imaginative, and the participants seemed to be having a good time.  There were a bunch of them in line at the 'Bird.

l: a delicate balancing act     r: over-the-cup view, bike in mid-background

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dog Island Wrecks Burying Over Again

A year after being uncovered by Hurricane Michael, the wreck on Dog Island are a little worse for the exposure and are being covered over by normal surf and weather.  Read about it in the Apalach Times, and enjoy the spectacular pictures.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Evidence of Microbe Life on Mars?

The PI on the Labeled Release Experiments on the two '70s Viking Mars probes discusses what they found in an article over at Scientific American.  Read and make up your own minds.  I will not comment here further, it's just not my field of expertise.  Still, interesting article, and worth your 15 minutes.

Related at Wikipedia:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Biking to Henderson Point

It's just across the bridge from Bay St. Louis, on the Harrison County side.  It was a nice ride Sunday-before-last, to a quiet, somewhat desolate point on the eastern edge of the Bay of St. Louis.  Here, have some pics; you can click to embiggen as needed:


From the top left: a view from the Bay Bridge of Henderson Point; four views of the beach; and the yard of one of the lovely Henderson Point homes.  Wait, where's the home?  Trashed in Katrina, lot is still bare.  Because, you see, while a big swath of the Gulf Coast was affected, Henderson Point was one of the very hardest hit.  Check this wind field plot at Wikipedia.  Pretty much the center of the wind intensity bullseye (not to be mistaken for the calm eye, 20 miles to the west) is on Henderson Point.

Well, it was a nice early fall Sunday morning bike ride, and there wasn't much traffic.  Crossing the Bay Bridge on bike is always a treat, with the separated pedestrian & bike lane.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Coffeeneuring Stop #1: Apalachicola Chocolate Company

Starting at the other end of the coast this year, with a trip to Apalachicola.  No storm clean-up this year, that is a relief.  Anyway, sort of a clone of last year's stop-off.  Here are the particulars:
  1. where: Apalachicola Chocolate Company, Apalach FL
  2. date: 10/11/19
  3. what: large black coffee; nothing fancy this time, but the chocolates (green box) were tasty
  4. ride details: '89 GT Karakoram, my around-Apalach bike
  5. 2.1 miles round-trip; it's a small town
A warm October day, after a long drive over from Bay St. Louis.  Needed a coffee to revive, so I wheedled The Big Sister into coming along.  That's her stylin' Schwinn in the background.  Just a basic coffeeneuring ride; it's good to be at it again.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness

This place just looks beautiful, and might make for a good road trip out west one of these days:

And I'm not just saying that because it looks like a backdrop to a Roadrunner cartoon.  Even though it really does!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Slightly Horrifying Comedic Sci-Fi Short

Pfft, it's Halloween Month, so why not.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sprite Lightning in HD

From today's post over at NASA-APOD

The very existence of this form of lighting was only confirmed about 30 years ago, and the phenomenon is so fleeting that previously only blurry red blobs have been photographed.  Seeing this level of detail is amazing.  General info on sprites is available (as with everything else it seems) at Wikipedia.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Ghost Manor in New Orleans

It's a full-on Halloween yard display, as only folks from New Orleans can do it.  Their web site tells all:

Saw it yesterday evening, it's pretty impressive.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2019: The Scoop

Following up on last week's announcement, the full dates, rules (not many, largely unchanged), and general encouragement are up at Chasing Mailboxes.  This is serious fun, so have a look and think about jumping in yourself.

The event starts next Friday, so be ready.  No, really, this thing is Serous Fun!  Trust me, if you ride a bike, you want to get in on this.

It's Not Over Yet, but...

... it is a nice change of pace to have a break in the steady stream of hurricanes and tropical storms that have raged across the Atlantic basin during the last half of this summer.

No, hurricane season isn't over yet, not by a long shot.  But we have turned the corner.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Of Rebellion, Gravel, Whiskey, and Bikes

This does look fun and it's high time I get back to Pittsburgh:

Hm, will be watching the calendar.  If not 2020, 2021 is a distinct possibility.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A New Article on Numbers Stations

Over at QST (the ARRL's monthly magazine covering all things amateur radio), this month's freebee article is all about numbers stations.  You can download the pdf from there, but first let me link you through the SWLing Post site, since they're the ones who first pointed it out.

Nothing astonishing, but it is an interesting background article.  The title – "Decoding Numbers Stations" – is a little bit, if forgivably, misleading.  Nobody's decoding these things, at least not without the proper decoding gear, but the article does a good job of demystifying the topic.

Numbers stations have been mentioned here at the 'swamp a couple of times, but in no great depth, mostly in reference to a mediocre movie.  Use the search bar.  Also, there's a pretty good article over at Wikipedia.