Now I'm off to pay rent, get lunch, and go look at motorcycles. I've been thinking about trading mine in (it's paid off and I've had it for 5 years) for a Triumph Scrambler. Pretty bike.
|You're viewing zorkian's journal|
Create a Dreamwidth Account Learn More
Public service announcement!
Please don't be surprised that you don't see "xb95" floating around anymore. I'm finally pulling the trigger on a major thing I've been considering: rebranding my online presence to the name zorkian, which is slightly more pronounceable and, hopefully, memorable.
My Twitter account has been renamed, my Facebook account is already under this moniker, and I will slowly but surely transition myself over to it. In addition, I own zorkian.net and zorkian.org (although they don't do anything yet).
You will also find me on Freenode and various IRC networks as
zorkian going forward.
The obvious question might be: why
zorkian? It turns out it's something I've used off and on as a username on many services for a decade now, and I've always wanted to abandon
xb95 just never found a good time. I'm finally making that time -- it's an arbitrary time, really -- but it hearkens back to my roots.
Reference: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Zorkian -- some of my favorite games of all time, and a very defining part of my childhood.
Thanks for listening!
Okay, so you want to fly between two locations. When driving, where you can use Google Maps or MapQuest or whatever and pick out a set of roads, and then you can go drive them! It's pretty straightforward, although sometimes (often!) the way you get from one point to another isn't always straight, on account of cities, water, mountains, etc.
Flying, however, is pretty easy. If I want to fly to Livermore, which is roughly east-north-east of where I'm at now, I can just point my airplane in that direction and go.
Right? Yes! For sure!
It turns out that flying from point A to point B -- even ignoring things such as airspace! -- is quite complicated. Let's say, hypothetically, that I know Livermore is on a true course of 80 degrees from where I'm at. It's slightly north of east, that's great.
If you were to just point your airplane to 80 degrees, you'd actually miss Livermore. Possibly by quite a bit. There are several reasons for that, and we'll have to work through them one by one if you actually want to fly from here to Livermore. The first thing we have to correct for is the wind. Like it or not, airplanes inhabit this great big body of air that tends to move around, and you don't have much choice in the matter.
Complicating this is our altitude. Winds change a lot at altitude, so you have to be conscientious of that and get your "winds aloft" forecast for your trip. In our case, let's say the wind is from the north at 30 knots at the altitude you've chosen.
You plug this into your handy-dandy flight computer (a type of slide rule!) and you determine that to fly a true course of 80 degrees like we want, with a 30 knot wind from the north, we have to account for -17 degrees of shift due to the wind. This gives us a true heading of 63 degrees.
Almost there... but there's one more major thing to think about.
Maps are cool, awesome, and they are drawn according to true lines of longitude and latitude. North on a map is the one true north, which gives us maps that are globally accurate. Unfortunately, the thing about airplanes is that they use compasses to point themselves. Compasses have this one critical weakness: they rely on magnetic north, which is quite a bit different. (Canada apparently has it.)
To convert from the true heading above, you need to find and apply magnetic variation. Where I live, it happens to be approximately 14 degrees East, which means you subtract it from the true heading to get a magnetic heading of (63-14) = 49 degrees.
Now you are absolutely going to hit Livermore! Right?
Sorry, there's one more step I forgot to mention. Airplanes are giant hunks of metal with electronics, rapidly whirling combustion engines, and all sorts of gizmos. They're pretty rad, but one of the side effects about all that gear is that they have their own magnetic fields -- which affects the compass. This is called magnetic deviation, and every airplane is different, so each one has one of these:
In this particular example, it turns out that 49 degrees probably doesn't need to change on account of the deviation from local magnetic fields, but in some airplanes it might be a big number. That said, even a small number of 1 or 2 degrees can actually add up to quite a bit when you start talking about flying 500 miles in some direction. It's important and adds up.
And now, almost certainly and positively truly FOR REAL we are ready to fly to Livermore by pointing our airplane so that the compass heading is 49 degrees, and we'll get there. I couldn't be happier!
Unless the wind changes, of course.
Now, imagine if you had just pointed your airplane to a compass heading of 80 degrees and said "good enough". The final result is 31 degrees less than that, and after not very much time at all you'd be quite far from where you intended to be, ending up far south of Livermore!
Flying is fun, I love it. :)
Today I got told -- by two entirely different people -- that I look really happy in the photos I posted to Facebook, the pictures of me after my first solo flight. (PS, I had my first solo flight today, but I'll write more about that later.)
( Photos! )
It's just nice to be told that I look happy. I like that. :)
For the past two months or so I've been working on getting my private pilot's license. This is pretty rad and I've been having an amazing time. (For the record: when I eventually get it, anybody who is in the area is welcome to come up with me. I'll be totally looking for excuses to go up and fly -- and taking people on Bay Area tours is an awesome excuse, and I will never get tired of seeing it from the sky.)
I'm almost at the point where I can solo. My instructor is very happy with my progress and has been letting me do a lot of the flying. She's really awesome and I work with her really well. We're still waiting on the FAA to get back to me on my medical certification, though. I got "deferred" because of my ankylosing spondylitis and ... drumroll ... high blood pressure.
The HBP has been something I've had for years. It's usually in the 150/100 range whenever I get checked -- yeah, yeah, that's high. The FAA has a limit of 155/95 though, and I failed the test in the medical examiner's office. It's OK though, as long as it's being actively treated by a doctor. They just want to know that you're being observed and such.
Well, "actively treated" means I had to see someone about it. That's annoying, since I'm not very comfortable with doctors to begin with (white coat hypertension is also a strong reason I have HBP at the doctor's office!). I went to my GP about it and he wanted to talk about medication, but I asked about other approaches. (I didn't feel he was pushing medication, but I felt that he assumed -- from experience -- that people aren't very good about diet/exercise changes and would rather pop a pill.)
I ruled out medication partially because if you go on BP meds, the FAA process for getting your medical becomes pretty hard -- they require stress tests and EKGs (or so the Internet says). I figured it'd be easier to try a diet based approach, so for the past month or so I've been on a low sodium diet. My target is about 1200mg/day -- which is really low when you consider the sodium contents of most standard American food.
A slice of bread (ONE slice) has 100mg+. One pickle is over 1000mg! Forget ham. Candy bars are bad. In fact, that local deli that sells sandwiches? Yeah, one of those is 2000mg. Soda is out. Swiss cheese is basically the only kind of cheese that is possibly fine and even that's a stretch. Most everything that I usually eat is forbidden and I had to completely restructure my diet.
Thanks, though, to aposiopetic who is ever-vigilant and amazing. She researched a bunch and revamped our stores of food at the house. We're now eating lots better, eating out a lot less, and she's even packing lunches for me so that I don't have to go out to eat when I'm at work. (Without her, I would not be doing nearly as well on the diet.)
Even so, it's super stressful for me. She doesn't abide by the diet so strictly, so she can have pickles and more cheese and bread and such. That's OK, though, really the problem is when I drive by In'n'Out or something and I smell the burgers and fries. It's really hard not to just stop in and order something. Really hard. I have managed to control myself thus far, though, but I don't know. Maybe one day I will snap and it will all go bad. (Hah.)
The results so far though: lost 10 pounds (eating less and better) and my BP seems to be a little lower. It's hard to tell what it would be at the doctor's office, though, so I will just have to wait and see. I'm supposed to go back in June and check in. Meh.
In other news, I should really write in here more.
Yesterday I was looking for some stuff in my office and came across an envelope with familiar handwriting on it. "Huh, when did Janine send me something?" I thought and opened it up. Inside was the stamped "you are now divorced" paperwork from the state. I forgot that they had required us to give them self-addressed envelopes, so that's why I had a letter in Janine's handwriting. It was kind of a twinge of pain to see the paperwork, I have to admit, but that's life. It does mean I should go hang out with Janine again, though.
I'm going to get back to work now. I'll try to write more later.
So -- I'm about to fly out for LCA + visiting afuna + 36 hours in South Korea.
The LCA portion of the trip is scheduled and planned. I know exactly what I'm doing and when, just about, and it's all worked out. No worries or problems there, also, not much time to sightsee.
The Philippines portion of the trip is fairly scheduled, but has a few open days at the end that we're holding until we see how things are going and then decide what to do. That's fine, I know afuna will take care of me and not let me die!
However, the Seoul portion of the trip so far is unscheduled entirely. I don't have a hotel room, I have barely looked at the map, etc.
I'm considering -- and this is where you come in! -- leaving it that way. Showing up at the airport with my luggage and passport and just winging it. Finding maps at the airport, picking a direction, and setting off on transit. Going around in a loop until I see an interesting hotel and area, then hopping off and trying to check in. Asking around for interesting places to go and see. Entirely unscheduled and serendipitous.
I understand that means I may not see the XYZ the most famous LMNOP in all of QTH, but hey, it actually sounds kind of fun to just be lost. (I guess except that I might end up being mugged somewhere. I don't actually know how safe Seoul is, or if there are bad areas, or if I'd even recognize a bad area... presumably I would? I have no idea.)
Anyway -- am I totally crazy for considering this? :)
Yay, my LCA2013 tickets are booked, wherein I will be giving a tutorial on server and process debugging. That should be fun and interesting.
Also fun, though, is the actual trip I booked!
First San Francisco to Sydney wherein I will take a bus or train up to Canberra. I decided to do this because the travel from Sydney out looks gorgeous, particularly the trains -- if I can make that work, that's my goal.
After the conference, I fly to Manila to hang out with the amazing afuna! I will be there for the better part of a week. There will certainly be some hacking, but also visiting an Asian country for my first time ever!
Next, since it didn't add anything to the cost of the trip (I extended a layover!), I will be going to Seoul for a weekend and seeing what it's like in South Korea. (Also, Americans don't need a visa to visit!)
That's my plan. Now to book hotels and other things... ohboy!
Backstory: The lovely Ari is setting up an epistolary role-playing game. We know some people who aren't local who we love gaming with, but having a sit-down or LARP is really hard with remote people... so Ari decided to fix this. She's creating and soon will be running a game where the method of communication is letters.
As you might imagine, the game is being set in a time period where this makes sense. In this game, it's 100 years ago -- so it's currently 1912 in-game. I will be playing a surveyor working for the Department of the Interior, helping to catalog and survey parts of the US that will go on to be named National Parks.
At any rate, I'm always excited about projects, so I decided to have some fun for the game. I acquired an Underwood No. 5 typewriter, which started being manufactured around 1900. My particular model was actually made in 1929, but it's close enough. Only cost about $200 on eBay, which I figure is reasonable for this kind of thing. Of course, it was $200 because there were "a few issues" -- but I wagered I could fix them.
The main problems when I got it: the B key sticks and you have to reach in and pull down the striker (hammer? what's it called?), and the ribbon feed system doesn't work.
Today I put in a solid few hours of tearing down, cleaning, and investigating. I determined how to fix the B key (clean some parts, adjust the tension spring), and that works. The ribbon feed mechanism was a lot harder, though, but in the end I conquered it.
It turns out the left side of the typewriter had gotten some rust damage. Luckily it was minor enough that I could basically unstick the parts with some brute force (lots of very patient tapping with a screwdriver, basically), and then lots of cleaning with my gun cleaning solution, rags, etc. Then LOTS of exercising the joints to make sure everything would work.
I succeeded though, and the typewriter works! The ribbon feeds, the hammers all strike, everything is aligned well enough for my purposes. It's a really amazing feeling to use an old typewriter -- it makes such a satisfying sound.
This is the time where I sit down and say who I voted for and why.
Since most of you are going to scroll down for the answer anyway, I'll save you the trouble: I voted for President Barack Obama to continue to lead the United States of America.
Ultimately for me, the decision came down to having more equal rights.
Last night Ari asked me, "What makes America great?" A fantastic question and we had a lot of discussion about it. Ultimately, the answer for me is opportunity. People come here because they want a change, they want the American Dream, they want something and believe that the US can offer it. Freedom, jobs, a better government, whatever the reason is.
Even those of us born here are blessed with a country that has more opportunity per square mile than most of the world. Yes, I realize that these days the western world is pretty equivalent, but it's still a theme here in this country -- and an idea that I embrace wholeheartedly.
And yet, Mitt Romney has explicitly stated that he wishes to take away some of the opportunities that are available here. He wants to take away things that we already have, and ensure we don't get things we've been trying to get! He wants to perpetuate the privilege divide that he and I, as white cisgendered males, have enjoyed for all of our lives.
These two points alone, regardless of everything else, make Romney an untenable candidate for me. These points alone have dictated that I must not vote for Romney today. If what I say about opportunity is true, and I believe it is, then there is no way I can support a candidate who would take away the rights my friends have fought for -- the rights that they still fight for. I don't want to take steps backwards.
Every election is always difficult for me. I think that there are a lot of compelling reasons to choose the Republican party. I generally prefer their stance on almost every other issue, honestly -- but when it comes to the opportunity that this country (the country that I love!) affords to the people I care about? You can sign me up for the man who has stood up in front of this nation, while still President, and said:
"when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married." --President Barack Obama
Whatever else he might be, whatever else the Democrats might support, I think that it's important that my friends and family be afforded the same opportunity that I am.
President Obama has made a stand for more equal rights. President Obama has made a stand for what he believes in, regardless of how it might affect his re-election campaign. I respect that.
My name is Mark Smith, and I voted for more equal rights. I voted for Obama.