Snow, ice, and off-road excursions

Last weekend Miss D. and I drove to a seminar held at a lakeside resort east of Gainesville, TX.  Unfortunately, that coincided with the arrival of a rare snowstorm.  Our normally safe roads were suddenly covered with 2-3 inches of snow, with patches of ice forming beneath the snow, invisible until you hit it. This was US Highway 82 near Gainesville at about 8 AM on Saturday morning.  The photograph looks clearer than conditions actually were, and doesn’t capture the snow falling fairly thickly.  The car was distinctly “twitchy” over the slush in the tire ruts. A drive that normally takes 2 hours took

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The Panama Canal, faster than usual

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, here’s a time-lapse video of a passage through the Panama Canal.  The trip lasts 11 hours, but the video takes less than 7 minutes – much more palatable in our high-speed world!  Note the “locomotives” on either side of the ship, hauling it through the locks.  They’re partly visible from time to time, as in the video ‘cover image’ below, on the right of the ship’s bow. The digging of the Panama Canal remains one of the great adventure stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It advanced not only navigation, but also medicine,

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Boeing’s answer to the 737 Max problems: more automation?

In all the hype about the problems surrounding Boeing’s 737 Max airliner, particularly the two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, I couldn’t help noticing one thing.  Airlines and pilots in First World countries appear to have had few similar problems with the aircraft.  It’s those in Third World countries that did – and not all of them, either.  The Lion Air 737 Max that crashed had experienced control problems just the day before the accident – but a third pilot on board, who knew what he was doing, told the flight crew what to do (as was pointed out in the aircraft manual), and the problem

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A nifty, low-cost camper van conversion

I’ve long wanted a travel trailer or small camper, something Miss D. and I can use for weekend getaways, or even for a week or longer.  However, it’s been financially impossible for us, and looks like it’ll be that way for some time. Nevertheless, I keep my eyes open for good ideas in that area.  I was struck by this article about a low-cost conversion of a 2017 Ram cargo van.  It’s filled with interesting touches and useful ideas, as well as lots of photographs.  Here’s an excerpt. When we bought her, our immediate thought was to hire professionals to build it for us

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Big Brother – vehicle edition

Earlier this month, I pointed out that “If you allow “smart” devices to listen to you non-stop, you’re crazy“.  That article examined the security risks of allowing smart devices into your home, because you had no idea what they were listening to and/or recording. Now comes news that your car is almost certainly spying on you just as hard, if not harder.  Please watch the short video below;  or, if you prefer, read the report about the investigation.  Both are mind-blowing in their implications for our security. It turns out that almost every modern vehicle is recording just about everything it

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Saturday Snippet: Repairing a capitalist motorcycle in communist Yugoslavia

Tim Severin is almost legendary among modern explorers and historians.  From his college days, he’s specialized in studying an ancient voyage of discovery or some other historical travel narrative, and recreating it using technology of the period and in as practical a way as possible.  In doing so, he’s dispelled many myths, but he’s also proved that many stories thought to be myth and fable were, in fact, firmly grounded in reality.  (Two of the most fascinating are the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and Ulysses’ voyage from Troy to his homeland of Ithaca, both re-enacted aboard a galley built in

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A nationwide scam on Airbnb?

I’ve never used Airbnb myself, but I have several friends who’ve done so.  I was therefore rather worried to read that there seems to be a widespread scam going on involving properties listed on Airbnb. I had unknowingly stumbled into a nationwide web of deception that appeared to span eight cities and nearly 100 property listings—an undetected scam created by some person or organization that had figured out just how easy it is to exploit Airbnb’s poorly written rules in order to collect thousands of dollars through phony listings, fake reviews, and, when necessary, intimidation. Considering Airbnb’s lax enforcement of its own policies,

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Blogorado 2019, Day 5

Yesterday (Monday) saw the end of our gathering for this year.  Some folks had to leave on Sunday, due to work commitments, but the rest of us gathered for a final breakfast at the Obligatory Cow Reference before heading out in all directions.  I tackled their Western Omelet, which was as delicious as everything else on their menu.  Their breakfasts are a highlight of our get-togethers, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone complain about their quantity or quality. Miss D. and I headed south to Amarillo, where we met up with Alma Boykin and Old NFO for lunch.  As always, it was a

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