Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Learn to navigate by the night sky

When we went on our Disney Cruise, I found myself standing on our veranda staring up at the stars. It's amazing to think of a time when that was all the navigation there was. I'd forgotten almost everything except Orion's belt and the Big Dipper. I could remember that the North Star (Polaris) was near the Big Dipper and that it somehow pointed to it, but that was it. Still it was enough that I was a little bewildered on the first night of the cruise. Early in the evening I could guess that we were headed South, away from the Big Dipper. But late in the evening, it was gone (on the other side of the ship). It wasn't too long afterwards that they finally made the announcement that we had turned around and were headed back to port for a medical emergency.

Ever since the cruise, I've been trying to learn to recognize stars and constellations a little better.

A cool free printable star chart with more than you'll ever be able to recognize:

Excellent interactive training to recognize a few key constellations and figure out North:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Phillips Screwdrivers

I don't remember this, obviously, but I've heard the story many times. When I was 3 years old, I came and asked my dad for a Phillips head screwdriver. He gave me one and I walked away. He was busy working on something and obviously didn't think it through. After a few minutes though, the question dawned on him, "What would a 3 year old need a Phillips screwdriver for?" He found me at the stereo, poking nice Phillips head shaped holes in the speaker cones.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Amazing. Not my horrible drawing, but the Flash work behind this.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Tonight I dropped in on local CERT / CERF meeting. Several people from our church are now CERT-trained volunteers.

I'm not.

I've seen and worked with CERT members some over the last couple of years but I guess I didn't realize the training and expectations of them. I had the vision of them maybe doing some damage assessment, spreading information, passing out bottled water and ice. Maybe just a step beyond the Red Cross volunteer. But, at least from what I saw, they're really geared towards urban search and rescue. It was weird watching a team of volunteers from church practice "cribbing" (shoring up, then lifting, debris off of someone using scrap wood) and searching inside a hazardous building.

I shrugged my shoulders and joined in for a search and rescue exercise. I crawled around on the floor in a dark room, unsuccessfully trying to avoid potential electrical shock, and dragged out another volunteer. It's funny to me to hear that voice in my head saying "this would be too dangerous", given all the places I've been as a Red Cross volunteer. At least there we didn't go anywhere that the fire department hadn't cleared. CERT's a whole different niche in disaster relief.

Maybe I'll keep showing up for CERT / CERF training and play the spontaneous untrained volunteer. Or finally find the time to take the training. After I finish my ARRL AREC classes and FEMA stuff. Taking a 6-8 hour class every Saturday seemed a lot easier before kids.

When I got home I was thinking out loud, "I can't see myself going off an volunteering to do that." Ten seconds later, "but I sure could see myself doing that for a neighbor if we had a tornado." That's CERT in a nutshell, I think.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Fire! Heh heh. Fire! Fire! Fire!
Heh heh. Fire! Fire!

Shut up, Beavis!