December 14, 2012

Durin's Day 2012

'Then what is Durin's Day?" asked Elrond.

'The first day of the dwarves' New Year,' said Thorin, 'is as all should know the first day of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter. We still call it Durin's Day when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together. But this will not help us much, I fear, for it passes our skill in these days to guess when such a time will come again.'
It appears that Durin's Day in 2012 is on December 14th, at the threshold of Winter.

Winter starts on December 21st at 1112 UTC and the immediately prior new moon was yesterday, December 13th, at 0342 local time (Cleveland, Ohio).

Today, December 14th, the sun sets at 1658 and the moon sets at 1850, a waxing crescent with 3% of its disk illuminated. It's pretty much the same scenario (sunset and moonset times) as 2011, only a different month.

According to Moonwatch, the crescent moon will be visible tonight quite easily.

I doubt that these observations have escaped the folks putting out The Hobbit (which comes out today), but it's possible.

So go outside today around 1645 and see if you can catch a glimpse of the moon, fairly high up to the left (south) of the sun, almost due south-west. If it's clear (which is currently forecast for Cleveland, an amazing event in and of itself), then you should get a good sight of a fairly new moon dipping down toward the horizon.

Durin's Day for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

April 3, 2012

Book: Jane Eyre

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an incredibly amazing book. By keeping the tone consistent throughout the narrative, the author paces the reader and teaches the reader to slow down so as not to miss the relevant details in the story.

There is richness of theme throughout, carefully woven into the story. If one chooses to observe them and explore them, the narrative becomes that much filling and satisfying. And yet the story stands alone even without the deepness that the themes bring.

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March 14, 2012

Book: The French Admiral

The French Admiral (Alan Lewrie, #2)The French Admiral by Dewey Lambdin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this up to sate my need for more Patrick O'Brian and while I would (and do) read each of the 21 over and over again, once of this Dewey Lambdin is enough for me.

Lewrie spends quite a bit of energy trying to get ashore and into someone's bed in this book. While that in itself is not unusual for a sailor tale, it's the (too-high) level of details that turns me away from this character. Lewrie, as he gains his sea-legs through this book, matures as both man and sailor and it's that part of the plot that redeems the book for me. Perhaps not surprisingly, his attitudes towards women matures through this timeline as well.

There's some good adventure during the evacuation as he matures as a leader that bears some further inspection. And certainly there are some flashes of recognition from him that he is maturing in various forms along his journey.

I liked this one enough to seek out the first in this series to see where Lewrie starts. Since I prefer the Lewrie at the end of The French Admiral to the beginning, I'm not certain if I will like The King's Coat any more than this one. Stay tuned, etc.

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December 1, 2011

Durin's Day 2011

'Then what is Durin's Day?" asked Elrond.

'The first day of the dwarves' New Year,' said Thorin, 'is as all should know the first day of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter. We still call it Durin's Day when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together. But this will not help us much, I fear, for it passes our skill in these days to guess when such a time will come again.'

It appears that Durin's Day in 2011 was in late November, toward the threshold of Winter.

Winter itself starts on December 22nd, 2011 at 0530 UTC, with the next new moon on the 24th. That means that the "last moon of Autumn" is about a month earlier, on November 25th at 0110 EST (for my location).

For Saturday, November 26th, the sun sets (for my location) at 1659 (4:59 pm) and the moon sets at 1829 (6:29 pm). The moon on that day and time is 3% illuminated (waxing crescent). If it had been clear, it would have been a great time to observe Durin's Day.

The folks at Moon Watch seem to agree.

Durin's Day for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

July 21, 2011

Eagle/Cub Scout License Plates

4AKELA-big.gifAs many of you know, I'm a Den Leader in Cub Scouting and an Eagle Scout from the 1980's.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that I have a Cub Scout blue Honda Fit with some pretty Scout-y license plates.

I just reregistered my plates with and discovered that they have a web service that takes your license plate background, adds your license plate number to the foreground and produces a GIF.

The first one they gave me was pretty small, but I tinkered with the URL and produced a big one.

Pretty sweet!

June 11, 2011

Secure Web Console: HP J3591A

J3591A manual coverThumbnail image for J3591A HP Secure Web ConsoleThis may not be relevant to many of you reading this blog but I have found one of the few remaining copies of the user manual for the HP J3591A, also known as the HP Secure Web Console, or SWC.

I've had one of these HP J3591A devices for years but without the user manual, it was kind of useless as the setup process is quite arcane.

J3591A HP Secure Web Console (connections)It's a nice little device, about the size of a VCR/VHS tape with a 10Mb ethernet port and a serial connector for your serial TTY on a headless server. It requires 13v, 300mA power but the AC/DC adapter provided (P/N: 0950-3415) is of the 12V, 1.0A variety.

What's that you say? You haven't had server with serial consoles since the late 1990's? Oh, never mind, then. Neither have I, I'm discovering.

What's this used for?

This can be really useful for those servers with a serial TTY console that you don't want to expose via SSH. Put the server in your DMZ with the minimum of ports exposed (you do this already, right?) and connect this little device to its serial console and run its ethernet to your internal network. (Yeah, there are reasons to not do this—make sure you take calculated and thought-through risks, don't just do things for the sake of doing them.)

So here's a link for the J3591A HP Secure Web Console manual. Yes, I recognize that I'm violating copyright law. Here's how I'm justifying this: a) it's not (update: easily found) on the HP support site, b) through my searches for a copy I have seen many requests for one and c) no one else seems to have one. If you're HP and want me to take this down, please contact me (it's not hard to figure out how) and I will comply as soon as I receive your notice.

Silly me. Moments after I posted this, I searched for my post's title to see what came up and found HP's PDF (my copy) as the second hit (after this post). I'm certain it wasn't there yesterday . . .

May 26, 2011

Section Hiking Family (BT)

Last October, my family and I got our 15-kilobytes of fame over at as a featured section hiker of the Buckeye Trail.

From the post:

Why do you keep coming back to the Buckeye Trail?

Now that we know what we're looking for, it's not uncommon to spot a blue blaze passing through a town or see a signpost on the edge of a forest showing where the BT is passing through. So much of our day-to-day life is spent within just a few miles of this trail that we thought we'd explore where it leads.

The BT seems to link up those areas in Ohio that are still wild and unspoiled (or growing back). It's possible to start a hike in the middle of town and very quickly enjoy un-peopled woods and fields. And, with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park so close to us (and the BT running down the middle of it), it's just something we need to do.
Head over to Section Hiking Family: The Giffords to read the rest.

May 17, 2011

Bike Commuting: Day 1

From near home to LaunchHouseThis week is Cleveland Bicycle Week and I have decided to take the challenge. I just arrived at the Shaker LaunchHouse where I consult, leading technical projects and people for startups.

Here's the route I took.

From my Bell F20 cyclometer, here are the stats:

3.339 miles
14:05 mm:ss
Average speed
14.4 mph
Maximum speed
27.3 mph

Here are some of my observations:

Borderline weather can be nice
It was 49°F today and overcast. I started out in shirtsleeves and chilly and ended up nicely warmed by my arrival.
Bike lanes can be a hindrance rather than a blessing
Having a painted bike lane for my whole Lee Road segment in Cleveland Heights made me feel like I couldn't move out of the lane to avoid the many manhole covers, etc. in that narrow confines.
All stop lights/signs should be at the top of hills, not the bottoms
With stop lights at the bottom, all one's momentum (from riding down the hill) is killed by stopping at the light.
It's doubtful that cyclists are taken into consideration when placing manholes, etc.
See note on bike lanes above.
Fenders on bikes are nice
I didn't hit too many puddles today but it was nice not worrying about them.
Using your front and back lights during the daytime doesn't create a force field.
But it feels like it helps
We need more bike racks
Or perhaps when the LaunchHouse gets further along, I'll be able to lock my bike up in the back.

One final lesson I may have picked up. Normally in the car, I budget about 15 minutes to get here. Not counting some extra prep (firming up the tire, packing extra rain gear, etc.) and locking up the bike upon arrival, it was almost a minute faster to ride than it would be to take the car.

May 9, 2011

2011 Cuyahoga Challenge

2011 Cuyahoga ChallengeThe CVNPA has released a sneak-peek of the 2011 Cuyahoga Challenge (pdf).

Hikers will hike ten of the twelve listed routes between June 1st and September 30th. There are a number of excellent routes listed ranging from the super-easy (Haskell Run Trail at 0.5 miles) to the pretty-long (Boston to Jaite at 8.4 miles). 

Hikers who complete these hikes between these dates will receive a patch designed by local artist Chuck Ayers, who illustrates the Crankshaft comic strip.

Last year we started late in the season and worked hard to complete the challenge. This year we intend to start sooner and see if we can get some others interested in it, too!

If you're interested in joining us on one of these, please leave a comment or follow along here.

May 2, 2011

Wetmore/Langes Loop Hike

Wetmore & Langes Loop TrailThe Northeast Ohio Hiking Club sponsored a Meetup to hike the Wetmore & Langes Trails in a 9-mile loop this past Saturday.

It was well-attended (about 15 hikers & two dogs) and we kept up a very quick pace (about 3 mph). The Cuyahoga Valley National Park has a good topo map with the trails marked (pdf) and while a couple of us took the map along, the trails were obvious enough that we didn't risk getting lost. There are also a few trailhead markers when some of the spurs/loops or trails connect. Two of the paths we took had large signs indicating that the bridle trail was closed but we hiked it on foot anyway.

Yes, this is also a bridle trail. If you don't like picking the trail around horse scat or if you don't like how horses can destroy a foot path (see update below), then this may not be the trail for you.

Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily)We started at the Wetmore Trailhead (near the "X"), crossed Wetmore Road and headed south on the Valley Trail. From there, we picked up the Langes Run Trail in a counter-clockwise loop, crossed Wetmore Road again and connected with the Dickerson Run Trail headed west. Joining the Wetmore Trail again we continued west (now clockwise), passed near the parking area and continued the loop north toward Quick Road.

We briefly considered taking the Tabletop Trail and then continuing on the Wetmore or perhaps looping around (counter-clockwise) and adding another 1.6 miles, but that was quickly vetoed.

Instead, we continued west (clockwise) on the Wetmore, duplicated a short section of the trail and ended up at our cars.

Trillium grandiflorum (white Trillium)All together, it was a 9.1 mile hike in just over three hours setting a pace of about 3 miles each hour. We started (and ended) at 850 feet elevation. Our highest point was 1047 feet and our lowest was 730 feet. The GPS indicates that we ascended (and descended) about 1300 feet on this route. To do all of this at once made it a fairly strenuous route for this area.

The trail winds its way through the standard Cuyahoga Valley collection of trees including oaks and hemlocks. We saw Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily) and Trillium grandiflorum (white Trillium) along with four or five different violets.

Wildlife was scarce (with two dogs and fifteen quickly-moving hikers) but I did see some chipmunks and we heard downy woodpeckers, flickers and red-wing blackbirds. This was the same hike we saw the hooded warbler last year during the 2010 Cuyahoga Challenge.

I'm not a big fan of these two trails (Wetmore and Langes) largely because of their dual-use nature with also being bridle trails. As Andrew (the hike leader) said in the Meetup page, these trails are always muddy, even in a late-summer drought. The horses contribute greatly to this, but the trails are also situated on shallow dirt over clay. Just be prepared for mud.

Wetmore Langes Loop profile

Would I hike this again? Probably. Averaging 3mph, it's hard to really care about the trail surface. You just go. Since it was on last year's Cuyahoga Challenge list, it's unlikely to be included in 2011. So I'll gladly hike it again some other year.

Update (20110526): I found this quote about shared horse/hiker trails on a Captain Blue blogpost (he's section hiking the Buckeye Trail) that I thought I'd share:

Whenever a footpath is shared by horses and hikers the hikers usually get the losing end of the deal. The trail was doubly muddy from all the hoof prints. Every hoof print makes an indentation which becomes a small puddle. The small puddles make one long stretch of muddy trail.

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