Estimating Distance

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a football game with my family. It was near sunset and the sky was illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun. Far overhead, jetliners could be seen crossing the sky, their contrails bright and warm although I knew that they existed in deadly cold.

One of them was not at cruising altitude. Older Grandson asked “How high is that plane?”

“About 25,000 feet,” SiL responded. I thought it was closer to 10K AGL.

“I don’t think so; I think it’s closer to 10,000.”

A short debate ensued and it was interesting. I respect SiL’s opinion given he works with aircraft as a professional.

Later, on the road Monday, the interchange recurred to me. As I drove along, I wondered whether there was a simple way to estimate the altitude. After thinking about it a few minutes, I came up with the following.

For small angles, the angle and the sine of the angle are approximately equal. Therefore the angle subtended by the aircraft can be used to estimate its distance from the observer. If the approximate angle from the horizontal is also known, then the elevation can be estimated.

The width of a human thumb at arm’s length is about a half-degree, or thirty minutes of angle. The pinky fingertip is about half that.

As I thought about my observations, my estimate was about three of the aircraft would be the width of my pinky finger at arm’s length… or maybe half that. That would be between two and a half and five minutes of angle, or one-twelfth to one-twenty-fourth of a degree. The sight distance to the aircraft would then be 12 to 24 times the apparent width of the vehicle.

My guess is that the apparent width of that aircraft was on the order of 120–200 feet. Therefore, for S&G’s, say it was 150 feet. At twenty times the apparent width, that would be 30,000  feet. My estimate for the angle-to-horizon was less than 45 degrees, so I’ll use that as an upper limit. The sine of 45 is about 0.7. So, the elevation is about 70 percent of the length of the hypotenuse — or sight distance.

My estimate of the altitude of the aircraft is about 20,000 feet. SiL was closer to correct than I was. Trust the professional.

The Last Hold-Out

The Last Hold Out before Winter
The Last Hold Out before Winter

On Walkies a few days ago, the Girl and I came across an interesting Fall scene. Amidst the shedding of leaves and loss of color, this one bit of greenery hangs on. It is a metaphor of defiance in the face of oncoming Winter… this bit of green life in a sea of death. The leaf said to me, “I will not go down easily.”

Germany Valley

While hunting for an Earthcache, I was also on overwatch of Germany Valley in the Appalachian Mountains.
While hunting for an Earthcache, I was also on overwatch of Germany Valley in the Appalachian Mountains.

While searching for the answers to log an Earthcache, I was also overwatching Germany Valley in the Appalachian Mountains. I had driven down U.S. 220 from Keyser, West Virginia (and stopped to see President Lincoln’s mother’s cabin) and then turned west to cross the mountains, heading for Missouri to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws. I wanted to log a geocache in West Virginia and this one seem to be it.

It was a cold, snowy day at 3,300&nsbp; feet. The gray skies coupled with the leafless trees gave the scene a deep sense of bleakness. But, it was still a good day and I’m glad I stopped.

Roma’s Pizzeria

A favorite place for take-out pizza and stromboli.
A favorite place for take-out pizza and stromboli.

Yesterday was Younger Grandson’s birthday. So, given that I’m heading out tomorrow morning, I decided to buy supper for my family to celebrate his birthday… and just because I wanted to. Roma’s has become a favorite place. They have a very nice stromboli that I really like. I can never justify buying one for just me, so this is a real treat.

While Daughter and I were waiting for the food to be ready, I noticed the graphic appeal of the counter area. So, I grabbed my iPhone, turned on the camera, and grabbed the shot. Daughter said “Always the photographer…” and chuckled at me.

We carried the food home, had a blast with the birthday celebration, and then I watched the boys play the new game for a bit. However, the action got too heavy for me (too much fast turning) and so I decided it was time for this old man to hit the rack.

I deeply enjoy being around them. This is something I’m going to miss. But, it’s time to move along and there are other people I want to see too. So, I’d better git…

Moving On

This green leaf is holding on tight in defiance of oncoming winter!
This green leaf is holding on tight in defiance of oncoming winter!

On Walkies a few days ago, the Girl and I came upon this little leaf struggling to get through the surrounding fallen leaves. It’s such a defiant little plant, determined to get that list bit of sunlight before Winter closes in and shuts everything down for a few months.

The other plants shed their leaves after displaying a splash of color over the last few weeks. This little fellow seems determined to buck the flow. I like that.

After waffling for days or weeks, I finally decided it’s time for me to move along. I have mixed feelings about leaving here — hugely mixed. This is a safe place. I love Daughter and her family. I love being around my grandsons.

But I also feel like I change the dynamic of the family. I’m uncomfortable with that. It’s not that I think I burden them. But something just feels “off.”

Plus I’d like to see my in-laws, maybe spend a little time in Texas, and then see Youngest Son and my friends in western Nevada.

So, I’m going to move on. I could be back in here a month or two. I don’t know. I really don’t know what I’ll do past seeing my in-laws. There’s no reason to worry about it. It is what it is… or it will be what it will be.

No one knows the future anyway. We only know now.

Last Rays, Last Colors

Last Rays, Last Colors... Soon the fall colors will be gone...
Last Rays, Last Colors… Soon the fall colors will be gone…

The Girl and I drove over to Fitz Park, not far from Daughter’s house for a play. She loves to sniff around and leave pee-mail for the next interloper. Once that aspect of her personality is satisfied, she’s ready to chase the ball. So, I brought the Chucker along to give her a good run before we headed off to Younger Grandson’s last football game of the season.

She made quite a few good runs. The grass is still green at Fitz Park so the surface makes good traction for puppy-feet. She has to tease me a little on each retrieve and loves to wrestle over the ball. We have such a good time playing this game.

After play, we headed back for the 4Runner. The sun was falling fast, as it does this time of the year. Many of the leaves are gone with all the wind last week. But, there were a few stragglers in the drainage ditch by the park. So, I stepped down the bank to see if I could capture a few nice frames with the iPhone.

I’m working my way through a book by David Hume Kennerly, On the iPhone. Many of his images are heavily processed after capture. In general, I eschew too much post-processing, being a purist by nature. I try to get everything right in the capture and then do little post-processing.

However, I’m thinking that there are other ways. Perhaps I should experiment more with post processing and filters than I have in the past. It seems that is a direction I’m moving, whether I want to or not. We’ll see where this goes.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

The Girl was napping Saturday afternoon — a good thing to do.
The Girl was napping Saturday afternoon — a good thing to do.

On a sleepy Saturday afternoon, the family was puttering around the house, some watching the Longhorns game (snort), others playing, some working. But the Girl elected to nap after our morning walkies.

We were waiting for the last football game for Youngest Grandson. Older Grandson’s last game was Friday night, but given he’s junior varsity he is required to dress but sits on the sideline… unless they need him to stand in as quarterback. So, Older Grandson’s last game for the season was Friday night.

The Girl though, knew nothing of this nor does she care about football. She knows many things, though — play, walkies, hunting, affection, sleep, snuggles, food (both her’s and begged), and a decided state of just being. And for her, curled up on a warm blanket close to her peeps, where I could sit in the chair, stretch out my legs on the Ottoman, and she could feel my touch — these were good good things, good enough for life to be good.

Later we drove over to the venue as the sun set (too early now, it seems). We found our way to the guest seating but missed the rest of the family in the glare of the sun. Older Grandson retrieved us fairly quickly, though, and we joined our family.

Young Grandson played well in the cold Fall air. It was too cold for us, although I brought the Girl’s blanket along. She was cold and so was I, even with a base layer. It was good to see Young Grandson play out his season. He played well although they lost and were second place in their league.

When the game ended, the Girl and I headed for the 4Runner. When I got in and started the engine, I shook uncontrollably. I was too cold and didn’t realize it until I moved. Then I shivered quite a lot until the vehicle warmed. I didn’t warm until I got some hot chow in me.

Today will be more football, I expect. I think I’ll spend some time sorting through my gear currently stowed in the garage. The family vehicles will need to be parked in the garage soon as Winter comes and so does the snow. I have not yet decided whether to winter here to go somewhere else. My sense is that it’s time to move on for a bit. I think they need a break from me.

I’m not a burden. I’m quiet, I demand nothing, I take little space, I leave folks to do their thing, but provide an additional adult when one is needed. I love to shop with Daughter and contribute to the family budget.

But there is always a change in dynamic when another person is involved. The American nuclear family does not generally include the extended family in a closely-integrated structure. The extended family represents a broader, loosely-connected structure that is not generally part of daily life. My thought is that my presence just changes the dynamic a bit. I don’t know that it is a good thing and I do not want to overstay my welcome.

So, I’m thinking maybe it is time to move on for awhile. I’d like to wander down to Missouri to see Wife’s family, then through Texas to see some friends and colleagues, even if the time is not right to develop any new business. The connections themselves would be good enough. Then I might wander back out to Nevada for a spell to see Younger Son and my friends Jimmy and Les.

I’m not sure just yet… I’m just thinking out loud (kinda-sorta) for the moment.

I also have some project work to do and will need to spend some time on that before the end of the year. So I’ll have to land somewhere with Internet capability at least part of the time.

There is also the issue of cold-weather camping. I am not prepared for that (yet). It’s not something I’ve done before and need to check my gear to be sure I can keep us warm if the weather turns colder than I expect. Or maybe I can research cabins along the way so that I have shelter but can cook for myself and keep my costs down.

I’m also still looking for a camper. I’m thinking that a small camper is the way to go for the next year or two while I figure things out. I’m researching converted busses as a longer-term solution to mobile living. But that will take me some time to figure out and so it’s a long-term project.

And there, my friends, is a random rumination, which is what I do.

Version II, On the Geocaching Path

This is a second version of my capture made while geocaching in John C. Rudy County Park, York County, PA.
This is a second version of my capture made while geocaching in John C. Rudy County Park, York County, PA.

I really like this capture. I was disappointed with my previous version because the post-processing was limited by the application I used to correct the perspective of the original.

The iPhone (like all phone cameras) uses a lens with a fairly wide angle focal length (for the sensor size). My guess is that the perspective of the iPhone 6S camera is equivalent to about a 28mm lens (for the 35mm format). The thing about wide angle lenses is that they tend to make vertical objects appear to lean over (either backward or forward, depending on which direction the camera is tilted). In my capture, I tilted the camera back to bring in more of the trees and sky and to put the path near the bottom of the capture. Therefore, the trees appear to lean backward, although they don’t.

I have on older application (from my previous use of the iPhone) called Perspective Control. It’s a simple program to use and works well. My only gripe about the software is that it will only export an image with a size of 1,152 pixels on the long axis. That’s a loss of about three-quarters of the linear dimension of the camera output. That is not acceptable.

So, I found another application yesterday, SKRWT, that does the same thing as Perspective Control. I spent the three bucks for the software, then reworked the image. I adjusted the perspective using SKWRT, then post-processed the corrected image using Photogene4. I had to downsample the result slightly to work with my weblog, but the result is superior to my previous attempt.

I think this one is a keeper. The capture is not bad at all for a phone camera.

Magnolia Seed

Magnolia Seed

The Magnolia pods are just about done. I started watching them a couple of months ago, but never got around to shooting one. (The tree is right outside Daughter’s kitchen window.) Given the dreary light, I was looking for something with just a bit of color to play with. The red seed attracted my eye. So, while the Girl did her morning doggie-duties, I played with the light.