Pi Day 2024

Light-Up PiPi Day was a relatively uneventful day here in Ozark, Missouri. I slept a little late, but still managed to send off Older Son and DiL. I then made a coffee and sat down at my desk to start the day.

I am working on a hydraulic model and it is not being completely cooperative. I sorted most of the wrinkles Wednesday, but had a couple more left to deal with. So I worked on some bathymetric conditioning and then made the needed adjustments to the boundary conditions. I set off a model run and left the desk to let it run.

I warmed a Braum’s banana nut muffin with some butter for a light breakfast, finished my coffee, and got The Girl out for an outing. We walked our normal route near the house, where we encountered a young man preparing to run a small topographic survey. I stopped for a chat before heading on.

I had three trading sessions back-to-back around the noon/early afternoon hour. I worked through those, with the last one producing no trade. At least, there was no official trade. One of my trading services does a once per week one-day trade on the SPX Index. The approach is to choose a put or call spread that is near enough to the trading price to produce a profit but far enough away to reduce the overnight risk.

But it depends on the trading action at the end of the day. The coach did not like the action during our session, so he called it for the week. After the session, I continued to monitor the price action and it turned not long before closing. So I put in my order and it filled at my price. So, now I wait for the theta decay to work its magic and expect my good-till-cancel closing order to execute on Friday’s open.

After all that, I was hungry, so I took The Girl and we drove over to the B-29 Cafe for a sandwich. It was threatening rain but I thought I might be able to beat it.

I ordered a BLT with an added slice of American Cheese. This is the BLTC and I really like this sandwich. It is relatively light but has enough protein and fat to keep hunger at bay. The B-29 fries are also excellent and part of them (usually half) go to pay the dog tax. While enjoying my sandwich, a tornado warning sounded. The B-29 proprietor informed us they have no safe area in the building, but the bathrooms/halls are the best reinforced.

Most elected to finish their meal and stay alert. No tornado appeared, but I finished up my meal and cleared my bill quickly. I wanted to beat the rain back to the rig and The Girl.

I did. And I paid the dog tax before the rain started. But, we drove home in a heavy shower that blew the rain and trees about.

we were able to sneak into the house between bouts of rain.

I have been careful with The Girl to not let her get frightened by thunder. This one seems nonplussed by loud noises and I do not make a deal of them. If anything, I get more playful with her during storms and when there are fireworks.

I ended my day with my son. We emptied the back of the rig so I can take it for service Friday.


This is my new MacBook Pro notebook computer. Shot with iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Late last year, I bought two new computers. The MacBook Pro shown in the image was bought just before Apple announced the new models (my bad). It is a 14-inch model with the best processor, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD space. It replaced the aging i7-based MBP that I bought back in 2016. It also replaced an aging i5-based iMac I bought in 2015.

The latter two computers were showing their age, the MBP less so than the iMac. But the MBP was nearing the end of its useful life.

So, I replaced two computers with a single unit. When I return home I will add an external monitor to it for desktop work.

The second machine is an ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop. It replaces the aging desktop tower that I bought several years ago (2015? 2016? earlier?) and upgraded a couple of times. This computer is based on a Ryzen 9, plenty of RAM and SSD, and a solid NVidia RTX display adapter. It will handle the numerical modeling and GIS work chores very well.

In fact, it is handling them very well. Having a strong notebook computer released me from the house for work. I can now prepare and operate my numerical models while traveling.

Now, I left a 15-inch MBP for the 14-inch model and I really (really!) like this change. I find the 14-inch machine to be a perfect size (the Goldilocks size!) for portable work. The 15-inch unit was fine on a tabletop, but always felt too large when operating with a lapdesk or on my lap. I am currently writing with the 14-inch MBP on a lapdesk and it is as close to perfect as I can get.

The smaller screen is not a bother; it works. The computer is big enough that the keyboard does not feel cramped. The new Apple processors are speedy, run cool, and are stingy with battery power. My computer’s battery is currently about 50% and I have been running it for two days since the last charge.

The G14, though, is a power hog. That Ryzen 9 and the NVidia RTX use a lot of power. That machine will run for a couple of hours on a charge. That, however, is good enough. I do not expect to do a lot of work away from mains power.

Aside: I also have a relatively large Lithium-Iron-Phosphate based power bank that can run the G14 (and other things) long enough away from mains power.

The bottom line is that my changes to my computer stable enabled me to leave the house and go mobile over the holidays. I am still able to work and take care of my clients while visiting family and friends. I really like that freedom.

I recently started thinking about my hobbies. It is clear (if you have been watching my weblog), that I picked up my cameras again this summer. Photography is something that has been part of my life for more than 50 years. i was thinking about my first real camera a few days ago — an Argus-Cosina manual SLR. The only thing electric in that camera was an internal averaging meter than ran on a silver oxide cell. The camera was completely mechanical but for that meter and used M42 screw mount lenses (Pentax mount).

In the 1970s, when I started learning about photography, a new friend (photographer) took me under his wing and taught me the basics. I remember being a little envious of his Canon F-1 camera, which was a suitable object of lust.

He taught me Ansel Adams’ Zone System. I still have a scanned copy of my notes from that time. He taught me how to develop my film and how to make a print. I cannot remember his name for the life of me. I wish I did. (Maybe I will, who knows!)

At the time, I wondered about the real applicability of the Zone System to roll-film based cameras, like my Argus. Adams shot mostly sheet film, which he then developed one frame at a time. So, he could tailor his development times (and chemistry) to the exposure he made when he visualized and metered the shot. In other words, he worked each frame one at a time, both in the field and in the darkroom.

That does not work for roll film, unless one dedicates an entire roll to each subject. I do not.

What I finally came to understand was that for me, a user of roll-film cameras, the Zone System is a very useful tool for visualizing a scene and metering the scene so that whatever is important to the frame (highlights, shadows, or both) will have detail for the process (film, digital, print, all or none of the above).

So, I retain my interest in the Zone System for exposure control. It just does not work as Adams used it for field and view cameras and single-frame processing. The use of the Zone System also increased my awareness of the expose-to-the-right (ETTR) emphasis of the digital age.

I retain my interest in amateur radio and continue to work Parks On The Air whenever I can get out. I recently activated Compton Hills SRA a couple of times and there are more new parks in the area. It is just so cold at the moment that it is dangerous to be outdoors for the dog and for me.

I still want to pick up my guitar again. That is the last thing on my list of hobbies that feeds my soul. I intend to do that this year.

I recently listened to Stanley Yates’ arrangement and performance of Mozart’s Fantasy in D-minor. He displayed the score as he performed in the background. I was able to follow the sheet music as he played, which pleased me as it has been years since I looked at notation. This made me want to pick up my guitar and work my fingers again.

I do not do annual resolutions. That has seemed to me to be a trivialization of goal setting for as long as I can remember. It might be a fun social activity, but it is not a useful tool. However, setting goals and intentions are powerful tools.

So, I am setting an intention and a goal to pick up my classical guitar again and do some work. In fact, I have Yates’ playing in the background as I finish this rumination.

It is cold here in southwest Missouri. It will be a good day to stay indoors, as much as I want to get out.

Life is still good.

Daily Image: 09 January 2024 — Ozark Winter

Winter blew in to Ozark, Missouri this morning. It was cold and snowy, with a lot more winter to come. Shot with the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

There is nothing special about the image. It is a grab shot from the front door of my kids’ place. It was too freakin’ cold to go outside and do something artistic.

It really is not all that cold. It was about 28ºF when I made the image. However, the wind blowing something more than 20mph made it feel a lot colder than it was. So, I made the shot through the storm door.

But there is real cold coming this weekend. It will be 0ºF or below this weekend. I have a bit of work to do on the camper to prepare for that and hope to accomplish that tomorrow. We are supposed to have a little sunshine, so that will make it workable.

I did get the water heater and potable tank drained today. I need to flush the lines with some RV antifreeze before the real cold arrives so nothing breaks. It is easy enough to flush the antifreeze when I am ready to use the camper. Or I can leave it and work from bottles.

The Girl showed a lot of interest in going out today… until we did. Then she noped right back into the house. I did take her on an outing to the Farm and Home store for some tools, but she happily stayed in the rig while I did my shopping. She does not care for the cold and wet.

Daily Image: 06 January 2024 — Red

This was the moody scene from my (temporary) office window, shot with the Fujifilm X100V at f/8.

I slept nearly 12-hours last night. It has been that way most of the week. It tells me that my body is working on recovery and that rest is required.

Given the fact I was in the rack by 1900h, it was no surprised that I woke shortly after 0600h. I made a cup of coffee and sat at my worktable, watching a few YT videos and enjoying the coffee. I glanced to my left and noticed the streetlight shining against a dark gray sky. Yep… I noticed.

I picked up the Fujifilm X100V, checked the battery, set the film simulation to standard, and framed the shot. I like this one the best.

Now I need another cup, I think. I am about ready for some food, as well. I did not eat much yesterday — not hungry — and will need food this morning. I am not sure when the kids will be up, but I could always dress and go get something.

But, coffee first.

The camper parts are ordered and the repairs will be made. But I will be delayed on my travels. It is alright, though. I am perfectly happy to stay with Older Son and DiL for awhile longer.

Life is good. I am grateful.

Remainders: Week of 22 July 2023

I have not done a remainders list in a long time. Let me see how this goes.

  • The Adventure Radio Society is hosting the annual Flight of the Bumblebees (FOBB, https://arsqrp.blogspot.com/) contest the end of this month. I requested (and received) a BB number (NR 35). I plan to drive up to Spooner Lake State Park and activate the park. It should be cooler up there.
  • That reminds me that the New Jersey QRP club will be hosting the annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt (https://www.qsl.net/w2lj/) the end of August this summer. That is another fun QRP (low power, five watts for code) contest that I will play in. CQ BZZ CQ BZZ DE AG7TX — Ahahahahahahahaha!
  • I am enjoying working with my cameras again. A few years ago I bought a Fujifilm X100S to play with. I wrote about it on these pages a few days ago. Well, the X100V has been out for about three years, but the darned things are impossible to find. I expect the main difference to be refinement (as in a tilting screen and WiFi to connect to my iPhone). If I can find one at a reasonable price, I will upgrade. I know that a new version is due out soon, but I do not have to have the latest/greatest.
  • I work with state plane coordinate systems quite a lot as part of my profession. I found a map of the State Plane Zones that is quite useful (and interesting).
  • Over the last few years, I’ve taken an interest in knives. Of course I carry a folder every day — they are simply a useful tool and a defense of last resort. But my real love is for fixed blade knives and the Guardian 3.2 from Bradford Knives is a substantial upgrade from the original Guardian 3. The guard on the choil will prevent me from cutting myself on the trailing blade edge when choked up on the grip. The Guardian 4.2 is a beefier version and is also recommended. If you buy one, or any other knife, be sure to work it to learn its strengths and weaknesses. I’m using the Guardian 4.2 quite a lot in the kitchen right now.
  • I recently took an interest in Automatic Packet Reporting System technology in amateur radio. ARRL has some background here.
  • While I was in the field last week, Spectrum emailed that my Internet service received a bump (to 300Mbps), but that I would need to replace my modem to take advantage of the extra capability. So, I did. I am not sure it will make a big difference for my operations, but we will see.
  • Peak Design makes good gear. I use their strap fasteners and straps for my cameras all the time. They offer a clamp-on clip that will hold a camera to a pack strap. I carried my Fuji X-T1 like this quite a lot. The camera shows some body wear as a result. But camera was out of hand and readily accessible.

Playing a Little Radio

The Elecraft KX1 is small enough to hold on my knee for operating.

Last weekend I really wanted to get out and play some radio. But, I also wanted to get my 4Runner cleaned up after a full summer of desert running (and the ensuing layers of dust) before the fall snows/rains come.

So, Saturday I worked some in the garage, at least enough to create a staging area for the radio equipment carried in the 4Runner. In the process, I opened a couple of the remaining cartons from my move to the duplex. I found my Garmin Montana 650t, which I planned to sell but now think might be a good GPS receiver to keep for trail driving.

I set the GPS unit and dash mount aside. I would deal with that later.

The Girl played around in the front and back yards while I unloaded the gear from the 4Runner and staged it on and around a folding table. With the 4Runner empty, I closed up the house, put The Girl in the rig, and we drove down to Minden to let Melvin’s do their thing. When I pulled into the queue, the operator gave me my ticket and said “That’s a lot of dust. I don’t know if we can get it all.”

“I will pay extra…”

“We’re just so busy…” He was right — I was probably sixth or seventh in the line.

“That’s OK, I’ll take what I can get. I’ve been in the desert a lot.” I left the keys on the dash and The Girl and I went into the shop to pay our bill. Whatever I got for my 25 bucks would be so much better than what I had.

Next for the 4Runner is getting the replacement tire in the shop and on the ground. (That was a left-over from the Bald Mountain activation. I broke a sidewall on a tire coming down the trail.) I am looking into a roof rack and air bags for the rear axle and the passenger’s seat has a parting seam in the leather that needs attention.

We waited outside (what a beautiful afternoon) for the rig to be washed. I listened to the local repeaters while folks chatted about small matters. There is a jammer in range of the Carson Valley repeater who was interfering with a couple of local hams. So they switched to another repeater that has coverage. I switched too so I could follow the conversation.

There was also some chatter on the CARLA network. A group of California hams assembled a complicated but useful network of repeaters that will cover most of the state and a lot of Nevada and Oregon. I monitor that network regularly as well.

The rig clean, The Girl and I visited Ronnie McD’s place and headed north toward home. She was antsy, but settled as I shared my fries with her. We pulled into the Koontz Avenue access to the Prison Hill Recreational Area and parked. I finished my late lunch (sharing of course) and then we got out for a walk.

It was a good day.

Sunday was rather a repeat of Saturday, except that I worked on some battery packs for my portable operations. I am reorganizing my portable radio kits and had some new materials in hand. I used some velcro to attach a power distribution box and a solar charge controller to the new 6Ah LFP battery. The velcro will permit (difficult) removal of the attached pieces if I decide that I do not like the setup. I also attached a distribution box to the 15Ah LFP battery, which is used when I want to run a 100w radio. The 6Ah battery will power my radios (and maybe a computer) with up to about 35w of power (or barefoot if I do not want to run power).

That only leaves the little 3Ah LFP battery to work with. I will probably add a charge controller and power distribution box to that pack as well. Or I might leave off the distribution box because I’ll likely be running on a barefoot radio.

I also got the Montana 650t updated and put onto a charger to see if the LiON battery is still serviceable. The unit has been in storage for several years so I am not sure about the battery.

The Girl was pestering, so I loaded her into the rig and we headed off to get in a walk. At the upper Silver Saddle Ranch staging area, I let her out, donned my EDC pack, and we headed down the trail. She ran herself hot and returned to me several times asking for a drink. But I knew that we would be at the Mexican Ditch in a few minutes and would not be on the trail that long before returning to the rig, where I can a water bottle for her.

She jumped into the ditch, of course, cooling herself and getting a drink. Then, as usual, she trotted past me and shook, giving me a shower as well. I always thank her for the shower and then we walked on.

At the ranch compound, I put her on-lead because there were a bunch of horse trailers parked in the lot. She is not sure about horses and I do not want an incident. But we saw no horses, yet the leash time was good because it gave us some practice working on-lead.

I gave her a bowl of water back at the rig and put her inside. I retrieved the KX1 go-box from the rig, threw a wire over the sage and bitter brush, and thew a counterpoise wire out on the ground. I sat on an old cottonwood stump, put the KX1 on my knee, and started chasing POTA (Parks on the Air) and SOTA (Summits on the Air) stations.

The Elecraft KX1 is a code-only radio, so I was using my newly acquired Morse Code skill. I worked five stations, including a park in Alabama being activated by one of CW Academy instructors, Ken K4EES with only about 3w of power. It is amazing what can be done with a little wire and a radio.

I thought about chasing a few more, but decided it was a good day. So I packed up my gear, got The Girl out for one last short outing, and we headed home. I made some early supper and fed her, then settled in to update my log and relax before the week started. It was a good day and a good weekend.

I keep the little Elecraft KX1 in this sealed box. In the box are the radio, battery, key, headphones, and an antenna.

Carson River

The Girl and I walked a little longer one morning so I had an opportunity to capture Mexican Dam from another perspective.

The Carson River is a desert lifeline. It begins on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada probably 50 miles from my home. From the mountain snowmelt, water moves through eastern California into Nevada, through Carson Valley, Carson City, Dayton, on to the Lahontan Reservoir, through Fallon, and to the terminal wetland northeast from Fallon, Nevada. It brings water to all these areas, communities, wildlife, and ranch lands.

The Girl (see note below) and I often walk the portion of Carson River from the River Road bridge to the Mexican Dam (and sometimes more). She loves water and with the hot weather will take dips in the river and the Mexican Ditch several times along the way. When she does, she will bring her wet body up close to me and shake vigorously.

I always thank her for the shower. It is a good thing I do not mind.

At this time of year the water in the river is near the seasonal low. The snow is mostly gone. Irrigation demand is relatively high. There is always a little flow at Mexican Dam, though. When irrigation seasons ends in a couple of months, the flow will increase as irrigation ceases.

I really love walking the river. Although I understand the need to allocate the river’s water, I sure wish there was more flow this time of year.

I also love making photographs along the river. I often see a blue heron, or a great white egret, or a pair of ospreys working the river. There are a multitude of raptors and smaller birds in the area. We even still have some waterfowl living along the reach we walk.

So long as I can, I will walk the Carson River with The Girl. Ki loved walking the river with me, although she was definitely NOT a water dog. She still loved to run, sniff, and chase lizards and squirrels. Sera does all of those things with abandon. But she also loves the water and is not afraid to swim. She makes me happy, watching her joy in the field.

Life is good.

American Kestrel

The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is the smallest raptor in North America.

I am still waiting for my amateur radio operator’s license to be issued. My name is similar to one on an “alert list” so the automatic system pulled my application and put it in queue for review by a real person. The estimated time is weeks. To say that I am a little bummed by this outcome would be an understatement.

But I have plenty to do. I am working on my station and there is a lot to do to set up an HF station. I have equipment, but antennas are an issue. I built a simple 40m dipole and erected it in my backyard. The matching transformer arrived last week (I will learn to build them as well), so I need to attach it to the mast and then tune the antenna to resonate at the middle of the 40m band.

In the meantime, I just put up a random wire antenna, stapled to the top of the fence along my backyard. I ran the feed line into my workroom and attached it to my transceiver last night. Reception is better than with the previous instance and I can hear traffic on the 80m and 40m bands. The bands are not open much right now because we are at sunspot minimum and so there is not much energy to drive the ionosphere, which is where much of the long-distance propagation occurs.

Morse code and the digital modes are going to be the mechanic for making contacts until the Sun becomes more active. I decided to make a real effort to learn Morse code while I wait for my license. I also will work on my portable station so I can operate away from town and all the noise here. I have plenty of access to quiet areas with elevation so low-power operation is viable. Besides that, I will get away from the house, be outside, and can camp a little. Both The Girl and I will like that.

There is plenty of other work to do, too. I have a bunch of images to review and process. The little raptor above was one of my recent captures. He/she flew up near me and posed prettily while I ran the camera. The Carson River floodplain was where I saw my first Kestrel and I see them often. They are furtive, though, and do not often provide me much time to capture an image.

I am enjoying the better weather lately. The Girl and I are walking the Carson River daily and the trees are about to leaf out. I hear blackbirds calling, woodpeckers drumming, and the geese are still honking. The river is up a little as the snow begins to melt and it looks like there will be abundant water this year. I heard one of the ARES members talking about releases from Lake Lahontan in anticipation of snowmelt and they are spilling excess water into the desert down near Fallon.

The Girl just wandered in. She is looking for breakfast and an outing. I need to retrieve the Fuji’s batteries from the charger and prepare it for another wander. I want a bite, too, but do not feel like cooking this morning. Subway has some decent breakfast sandwiches, so I think I will wander over there and pick up something. Then we can drive out to river, enjoy some sunshine, and spend some time outdoors. Perhaps Mother Nature will bring me a treat.

Pi Day 2019

Among other things that I do, I am an engineer. (Yes, I am doomed to a life of social ineptitude, see: this.) I am fascinated by all things mechanical and electrical. Therefore, the value represented by the Greek letter π is of special interest (and use) to me.

And, as it turns out, there is a day set aside each year (in fun) to remember π — March 14. Therefore, at 1556h today, I am taking a moment to celebrate six significant figures of π.

Happy π Day!


This beauty watched The Girl and I as we approached. I spent a few minutes making some captures and talking to the raptor. It was a magical experience and something I live for.
I realize it has been a long time since I wrote anything here. A lot of water passed under the bridge.

Several of my projects all needed work done. Some of it was on deadline and some of it just needed to be done so that other parts of the project could proceed. So I found myself working a lot and having little energy left over for some of the other things that are important to me. One of those things is this space, where I enjoy parking some words and some of the images that I make as I wander through this life.

A few weeks ago a friend and I were sharing our weekly breakfast. We meet at the Red Hut Diner, spend some time bullshitting and some time talking about more serious things, and just enjoying fellowship. We are quite different and that is OK. I think that having people in my life who think differently than I do is not just intellectually stimulating, but it helps me steer away from confirmation bias.

While we were breaking bread and chatting, he told me he was preparing to sit the Amateur Radio Operator Technician Class license examination. I was reminded of my own intention to be licensed. I went so far as to purchase a manual a few years ago. But life got in the way and I let the intention go unattended.

“I’ll sit it with you,” I said. He looked at me, a little startled.

So, after seeing that my manual was out of date, I ordered a fresh copy (they change the question pool every few years and update the manual). I started working through the manual and then decided that I could probably pass the General Class exam as well. So I ordered that manual.

Neither of these manuals are very technical. There is a little in there, but nothing too challenging for an engineer. I emailed the examination coordinator and he gave me the details. He mentioned that one can take all three examinations, although he didn’t recommend that one take all three.

In the middle of this, I caught the flu. I was really ill for several days. It was the fever that was the worst. I continued my studies as I could, but I was really out of it for several days. A good friend brought me some supplies and I survived.

Then the project work was behind, so I was pushing to get work out again as I regained my strength.

Along the way I decided that I would try for the Extra Class license while I was at it. I learn best by immersion. So I ordered the final manual and began my studies while I took practice tests for the other two examinations.

We had a few nice days in this period of time. The sun came out and dried up some of the mud. The Girl and I walked some of our favorite spaces down by Carson River. The red-shouldered hawk in the frame came from one of those walks.

The weather turned cold and snowy again. Today it is spitting snow. The Girl and I will get out in a bit and get a little more walk in. Then I think we will go to the grocery store and retrovision the house. I need some food in the house.

In fact, I just heard her jump off the bed and shake… the ears flapping is always the give-away. My washer load is just about finished, so I can put my jacket into the dryer and start the other load. I should be finished with my laundry tonight as well.