Paul's Miscellany

All photographs by Paul M. Clayton unless otherwise noted. Click on a picture to see it larger.

This is the current page, posts from 9/15/21 through today.
Older posts -

Tote

Posted 07/03/22

A tote is a simple, quick sewing project and I have made a few of them out of sailcloth. Sailrite has a video on tote-making, so I decided to follow along with it and make one from some old Sunforger, left over from an awning I made several years ago. I figured I would learn something because the Sailrite videos are well thought-out, with everything done in the right sequence.

Even working at a relaxed pace, it only took a couple of hours to complete the tote. I scaled mine down slightly and made the handles shorter. In the video, there is a sequence showing a person carrying a tote, and he has his arms slightly bent to keep it from scraping the ground. I prefer a bit more clearance. Sailrite uses basting tape freely, I can usually position things without needing it. I used 3M spray-on adhesive on the bindings. The thorough section on creating the box bottom helped me learn just how to accomplish this step, which has been troublesome on earlier totes.

I'd rather carry my own totes than ones with grocery store logos. Mine are stronger and I'm not doing any gratis marketing for some corporation. I ought to cut a Neuse River Sailors stencil and use my totes to advertise my own websites.

What's the Story?

Posted 06/10/22

I'd like to know the whole story on this one. Miami Air International was a charter airline founded in 1990, ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy in May 2020, and perhaps reorganized in late 2020, although there is no evidence that it continued to fly. Reportedly, the FAA revoked the new entity's Certificate of Public Convenience last month for taking too long to recommence operations. The owners are trying to get it reinstated. Planespotters shows that N778MA, a 737-800, was stored at Miami International Airport from December 18th, 2020 through June 3rd, 2022, and has been stored at Smith Reynolds for the last week. I'll be interested to see if this plane is at North State getting ready to go back into service. Something tells me that if it is, it won't be Miami Air International flying it.

New Tool

Posted 06/07/22

This little torch runs off butane so it is independent of electricity. Light is getting cheaper and cheaper but heat is still costly expressed as amperes, so this tool makes sense on the boat where I need to guard every amp-hour. The tool will actually function as a solder gun for light work. With the solder tip removed, it produces a wide, hot flame which serves perfectly for heat-shrink electrical connectors and searing rope ends. With what the seller calls the "catalyst" removed, it makes a very hot jet that might be useful for spot heating stuck bolts or anything else that needs a tight, controlled application of heat. I always used a bic lighter for heat-shrink and rope ends, but this works much better. It uses regular Zippo lighter fluid.

I never knew these things existed until I saw Johann using a miniature butane torch to heat-shrink a wire connection on Ran Sailing.

More Patrick McKenzie

Posted 06/02/22

My favorite source for arcane explanations of the mechanisms of financial infrastructure, Patrick McKenzie, has put up a new post, Stablecoin mechanisms and use cases. He makes it clear that crypto is not really on topic, but the Terra/Luna fiasco is close enough to be worth a post.

Evidently the collapse of the Terra stablecoin and its sister token Luna has reverberated out into the popular culture to the point of which people with no particular interest or understanding of cryptocurrencies, finance or even basic economics are taking notice and mentioning it in conversation.

McKenzie's article is clear enough, but it is dense and technical. With my education and work background in banking and accounting, I found it difficult. The first time through, I passed over any statements that weren't clear. I reread it a few days later, making a point of considering each statement until I got the meaning. In this post I want to postulate a few things that will make it easier for anyone to read and understand the article. I seriously believe that anyone who heard about the Terra/Luna affair owes it to him or herself to get some comprehension of what happened. Otherwise they are just walking around in a fog, thinking "wow there's a lot of weird stuff out there, conspiracies, intrigues, secret groups of powerful people who control the world, I don't know".

First thing to understand is the difference between a checking account and a money market account. To put it simply, with a checking account, you deposit money at the bank, you can withdraw it at any time, and while it is on deposit, the bank uses the money to make any kind of investment that is legal and they think will make them a profit. In a money market account, you deposit money at the bank, the bank uses it to buy money market instruments (very short term, commonly government-issued, bonds and notes that have essentially no chance of decreasing in value), and the bank gives you the interest, keeping a little back for themselves as a fee for arranging the transaction. All you banking and finance people, don't jump my case, I know this is very simplified. It is enough to proceed with McKenzie's article.

Suppose a bank, corporation or even an individual offered to sell you a token for a dollar and promised that any time you wanted, they would buy the token back for a dollar. With the money they got from selling tokens, they would buy money market type investments that had essentially no possibility of losing value. Sounds like a money market account, right? But suppose the issuer kept all the interest from the investments for itself. That could be a lucrative little business. Borrow a dollar, pay back a dollar, and keep the interest earned for yourself. Essentially that's what a bank does with your checking account, except they provide some services like transaction processing, check cashing, safe deposit boxes, and such.

So a stablecoin is a cryptocoin - a token - that is engineered to maintain a value of one unit of some currency. If it is backed in full by money market instruments, then it is just as safe as a money market account at the bank. Why would anyone want a cryptocoin like that? They give up the interest they would receive on a money market account, or the perks that come with a checking account. There are many uses for a cryptocoin, some benign, some nefarious. Someone might be willing to give up the interest in order to get a benefit from transacting in cryptocoins. That's another matter altogether. As long as you are using your cryptocoins as a store of value or a transactional mechanism, and not a speculative instrument, a stablecoin suits the bill.

If Terra had been fully backed by money market instruments, it would not have imploded. There are several coins on the market that are exactly that, and they provide just the stable, dollar-linked transactional mechanisms that some people want. But Terra was backed, not by money market instruments, but by equity in the Terra company. A big corporation with lots of equity could do something like this, because in any legitimate legal realm, debt gets paid back before equity, and as long as the total issue of stablecoins was less then the net equity, they would get paid back. Terra equity was in the form of another token, this one not meant to be stable, called "Luna". The greater the Terra equity, the more Lunas there would be. Terra equity would come from the proceeds of selling Terra coins and also running a company that sold a database, the same database they initially developed to account for the Terras. So you could buy the database and set up your own stablecoin company, backed by selling databases to others who wanted to set up stablecoin companies...This has a name.

Money bled out of the Terra company, to the owners, employees, suppliers and such, until the time came when the "value" of Terras was much more than the value of the equity backing them up. Once this became apparent, everyone headed for the exits and the price of Terra collapsed.

That's the simple explanation of the Terra/Luna affair, good enough for lay people to get some degree of understanding. It wasn't a conspiracy of shadowy international financiers, it was a scheme that a bunch of smart, ethically-compromised crypto bros came up with in their spare time, and it succeeded in separating a number of naive dupes from their money. Happens all the time.

Read McKenzie's article. He explains it all much better than me, but perhaps my introduction will make it less daunting to approach. Note that neither my post or McKenzie's really gives a good explanation of how the Terra/Luna interaction was meant to hold Terra at a stable value. Perhaps it never was.

Airport

Posted 05/29/22

North State Aviation continues to do running repairs and maintenance on the American fleet, plus occasional work for other lines. Here we see a rare DHL in the back of the hangar. I think DHL has work done at HAECO at GTI, so maybe they couldn't get this one in their schedule.

The City of Winston-Salem is building two more hangars at Smith Reynolds. They should be complete by May 2023. That will make more space for contract work, more good-paying jobs for Winston-Salem.

Best Quote of the Day

Posted 05/06/22

In a review of the new Arcade Fire album We, Carl Wilson at Slate describes Win Butler’s lyrics as "...carry[ing] on with the kind of kneejerk socio-technological critiques that drew so much scorn on Everything Now. His mix-and-match references to social media and phones can make it sound as if a Marshall McLuhan bot infected the timeline after your grandpa clicked on a bogus link."

Shoe Soles

Posted 05/05/22

How long will a pair of boots last? Mine wear out soles first, then liners, then uppers. This pair of Cabela's walkers that I bought in 2008 are still going strong, with the second set of resoles just applied. It used to be that, when you wore out a pair of soles, you took the boots to a shoe repair store and they stitched on new ones. But late in the last century the manufacturers started using adhesives to attach soles, and the shoe repair shops weren't able to replace them. If you went in a store, the repairman might give you a rueful smile and tell you there was nothing to do but throw them away, or he might go into an angry rant about new boots that couldn't be repaired, but either way, there wasn't much you could do.

Then after a while some companies developed replacement soles and methods to attach them. Some years ago I found an Amazon seller who could supply soles, and a couple of youtube videos that explained how to make them stick. I have fixed several pairs of shoes and boots in the last ten years, which has saved me from having to buy new ones. What works for me is to peel off the old sole if it is loose, otherwise to thoroughly clean it. Then the boot is placed on the new sole and traced around. Scissors can be used to trim the new sole to size. I adhere the sole to the boot with 3M contact cement. Once it is thoroughly set, I edge all around the sole, filling any voids or gaps, with Shoe Goo. That's all it takes to get a few more years of use out of an old pair of shoes.

HTML Checker

Posted 05/03/22

I prefer to hand-code html. I think I get tighter code that is easier to read, modify and troubleshoot, as opposed to using Wordpress or some other code generator. But one thing about the packages, they do validate automatically. I have to remember to run my code through a checker now and then to be sure errors aren't creeping in. Today I checked neuseriversailors.com with the W3C Validator and found 63 warnings and errors. Some of them were unmatched tags, but several were systematic errors where I had misunderstood how to write the code.

Interestingly, none of the errors made any difference to how Chrome rendered the site. That's a tribute to the programmers who wrote the error-catching routines at Google. But it was still worth-while going through the file and correcting them. The validator told me exactly which line was faulty, and what the error was, which made them easy to correct. It took about a minute apiece to clean them up. Now, if something serious crashes the site, I can run the validator and go straight to the problem, instead of digging through a pile of hooker code. I just need to remember to do it more frequently.

Ardmore MGB

Posted 04/19/22

Looks like it could have been taken in 1976 with a Pentax SP1000 on Plus-X Pan, but in fact, 2022, Fujifilm X-T20 post-processed in RawTherapee. What's special about this B? It gets driven.

Reefed and Rail Down

Posted 04/18/22

Friend Joey and crew aggressively sailing his Pearson 30 Jabberwocky off the Edenton waterfront.

Robin

Posted 04/17/22

Another one with the Super Takumar 200/4.

Super Takumar 200/4

Posted 04/05/22

I picked up a Super Takumar 200/4 from a Pentax Forums Marketplace seller and gave it a good workout today. The seller was completely up front that he got the lens in pieces from somebody else who got in over their head with a CLA, and that the aperture is declicked and "finicky". Optically the lens is near perfect, with little or no fungus or fingerprints, and just a little stray dust between the elements. The focus ring is a little tight but I expect it will loosen up with time.

A quality film-era lens like a Takumar is a great combination with a crop-sensor body like my Fujifilm X-T20. The optical engineers of the time focused on getting the center of the image circle sharp at the expense of some falloff toward the corners. The crop-sensor only uses the center, the best that the lens has to offer. Modern computer-designed lenses offer quality across the whole image field, but you pay for it. Old Takumars are dirt cheap, and new Fujifilms are very expensive, and if you aren't using the corners, why pay for them?

The 200/4 is known for good bokeh, and the smooth background of this picture looks like a painted backdrop. Lex and the playground equipment are sharp enough, and the colors are good, even though I lightly desaturated in post to get a softer look. This lens is bounds beyond my Canon 70-210 and somewhat better than my Vivitar 70-210. They are zooms, so I expected a prime to be superior, but after using the 200/4, I doubt the zooms will get much use. I mainly used them at the long end, since I have my Takumar 105/2.8 for a medium telephoto.

Playground Equipment

Posted 04/04/22

A sand pile is the best playground equipment.

West Salem Park

Posted 03/29/22

This attractive small private park is owned by and maintained for the use of the owners of Academy Park Condominiums. It is visible from Academy Street where it crosses Tar Branch, adjacent to Old Salem. Across the branch from the park is the site of the Single Brothers' brewery and distillery. Beyond that was the slaughterhouse, and the tannery was nearby.

Tar Branch was once known as Town Run, and subsidiary Tanner's Run flowed in somewhere in the area. Tanner's Run is no longer charted, probably buried under a street, but there is a faint remembrance of it in the form of streets in the area called Tanner's Park Court and Tanner's Run Drive.

Staying Busy

Posted 03/27/22

American Airlines A321-211 N151UW departed Charlotte the evening of March 20th for Tampa. It returned to Charlotte in the morning of the 21st, flew to Cancun mid-day, returned to Charlotte in the afternoon, and covered a flight to Pittsburgh in the evening. The morning of the 22nd it returned to Charlotte, back to Cancun mid-morning, returning to Charlotte mid-day. Early evening it flew to Seattle, arriving back in Charlotte early in the morning of the 23rd. Later in the morning it flew to New York and back to Charlotte, and in the afternoon to Houston. Early morning of the 24th it returned to Charlotte and later in the morning flew to Phoenix. It returned to Charlotte in the evening, and immediately flew to Winston-Salem for maintenance.

I caught the Airbus at the North State Facility mid-day the 26th, and as of the evening of the 27th it was still there. Sister A321 N157UW, just poking into the picture from the left, left Winston-Salem the morning of the 27th, flew to Charlotte, and covered a round trip to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The flight information for both planes was found at flightradar24.com.

Click on the picture to see it full screen. Then click again to see it full size, uncropped. Fuji X-T20, SMC Takumar 105/2.8.

Onetime Mainline Power

Posted 03/26/22

A GP38-3 is a GP50 derated with the removal of the turbocharger and the substitution of twin Roots blowers, and third generation electrical gear. It's not a catalogued EMD model, just a designation that individual railroads use for this kind of rebuild.

NS 5824 was built as a GP50 in 1980 for NS/SOU (CNOTP) and rebuilt in 2006 as a GP38-3. In 1980, 5824 was a high-horsepower unit designed to move fast freights on the mainline. In 2022, 5824 is a low horsepower unit handling peddler freights on branch lines and secondaries. Duties change, but the engine is still turning out revenue miles after 40 years.

So what's with the Conrail blue paint on the back radiator fan?

Cold War Relic

Posted 03/26/22

Hulking over the picnic shelter at Union Cross Park in eastern Forsyth County is an imposing poured concrete tower with no apparent application. But for 15 years, from 1955 to 1970, this was the centerpiece of the 810th Radar Squadron, Winston-Salem Air Force Station, a vital link in the NORAD missile defense system. At the time, the stucture supported a 120 foot wide dish antenna and was crammed full of computer and communications equipment. It was surrounded by support buildings, barracks and a ballfield for the members of the squadron.

Concrete, if properly poured and on solid foundations, essentially lasts forever (see the Roman Pantheon with its 2,000 year old concrete dome). The tower at Union Cross Park should last as long as people see fit to leave it. The construction used corrugated metal forms which have left their imprint in the surface of the concrete. It is much more common to see that the forms were constructed of wood, leaving a characteristic planked surface.

By the 1970s, more sophisticated early-warning systems were in place, and the Winston-Salem Air Force Station was closed. The county persuaded the Department of Interior to convey ownership, and in 1974 the site became Union Cross Park. Since then, the old barracks and support buildings have mostly been torn down, with a picnic shelter, playground walking trail and upgraded ballfield added.

Part of the old station, including a couple of buildings, is occupied by ARCA, the Addiction Recovery Care Association, Inc., a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility. I can remember more than one acquaintance reporting that they "had to go to ARCA" on a judge's orders after minor run-ins with the law. For the most part, it didn't seem to do them much good, but on the other hand, it didn't seem to hurt. And it was a lot cheaper than the private hospital on Old Vineyard Road, which was equally ineffective (not the current one, a prior manifestation).

The Winston-Salem Air Force Station, like other relics of the Cold War, is fading into history. The young servicemen who staffed it are all in their 70s or older, and scattered across the country. But at least a few people know what they are looking at, when they drive past Union Cross Park.

Thanks to John Kessler for maintaining his website, 810th AC&W Squadron.

Konbini and Cash

Posted 03/16/22

Patrick McKenzie has posted another good article at his website, this one about the Japanese payment method allowing cash payments for online purchases. In the United States, we do that with gift cards purchaseable at grocery and drug stores. A person can, for instance, purchase an Amazon card at the grocery store for $50, then go online using his phone, computer, or for that matter a computer at the library, place an order with Amazon, pay for it with the card, and take delivery at home, work or a locker at the Whole Foods store.

In Japan, the consumer places an order with an online vendor, who provides a code. The purchaser goes to a konbini (Japanese convenience store), enters the code into a machine, and then takes the voucher that spits out to the store clerk. The clerk accepts payment, and at that point the payment transaction is complete from the purchaser's point of view. The purchaser can have the item delivered to any address, including a locker at the konbini store. The store informs the seller that payment has been tendered and forwards the money. Like the gift card system used in America, the purchaser doesn't have to have a credit card, a bank account, or a fixed abode. And if he does have any or all of these things, he can still feel secure that he hasn't provided any personal financial information to the vendor, who is not unlikely to lose masses of data to hackers on a periodic basis, or even be in on a scam itself. McKenzie points out that "you will never pay a yen more than what you expect for a convenience store payment, and you’ll never get charged again unless you go back to the store and pass more cash to the clerk".

Either system offers access to online commerce to the unbanked, mitigating a common argument that electronic financial systems (the cashless society) lock out people who don't have the requisite social position. As McKenzie states, "Konbini welcome all comers. People in our social class often do not appreciate that this is not true of all businesses in society, including banks. You don’t need a brand-name employer, good credit, stable housing, government ID, or even literacy to use most konbini services. If you’ve got cash, they’ll take it".

Another facet of either the gift card or konbini system is that it is private. As touched on above, the customer doesn't have to give anyone his credit card number or any financial information at all. The transaction is as anonymous as cash can be. In addition, nobody else needs to know about it - not the government, not the employer, not the family. "We often think of privacy as a right against uninvolved third parties, intermediaries, or perhaps the business one is purchasing something from, but an underappreciated aspect of privacy is a right against members of one’s own household", McKenzie writes; "you can go to a konbini and purchase anything you want without having to justify that transaction to anyone who reads your mail".

The article includes information about how the konbini can be used to get government identification vouchers. In Japan, proving your identity is somewhat more difficult than in America, in the interest of reducing fraud. Here, almost everyone accepts the ubiquitous driver's license as proof of identity, which makes things easy but rife with fraud. In Japan, to make a major purchase, especially one that requires credit, the consumer must go to city hall and get a one-time use certificate of identification. The use of a Japanese national identification card with its associated security code makes it easy to set up machines in konbini stores which will provide city hall with the relevant numbers and allow citizens to print one-time certificates at the konbini rather than travelling downtown.

It seems like we are moving more toward electronic payment transfers, so it's good to have things like the gift card and konbini systems to offer options for people who either want to or have to use cash.

Lars as Napoleon Bonaparte

Posted 02/26/22

Today at Korner's Folly, in the children's theater that Miss Polly Alice established in the attic, Lars mounted the stage and portrayed Napoleon addressing his troops. I gave him instructions as to the poses to take, and with his essentially dramatic nature, he dropped right into character. Knowing his talent for rote memorization, tractability and penchant for posing, I think he would make a great actor. With his piercing blue eyes, reddish-blonde hair and rotund physique, he could play the lead in a juvenile version of Shaw's The Man of Destiny, opposite an eight-year old avatar of the exquisite Ellen Terry.

Solar Test Bed

Posted 02/23/22

A ten watt solar panel is pumping out enough energy to charge my tablet, connected to a usb port, and operate a small fan by way of an SAE receptacle. This is a test bed for designing a distribution panel for the solar installation on the boat. It won't replace the existing 12 volt panel and circuits, but will supplement them. The solar charge controller can be set to turn off power to the fuse block when the battery voltage drops below a certain level. This helps prevent the battery getting run down too low to start the engine. When the engine is running or the summer sun is hitting the solar panel, there is plenty of extra energy to charge devices or run fans, but once the voltage starts to drop, no more charging gadgets and toys.

I like the design of this fuse block. The negative bus connections line up with the positives, making it easy to trace through the wiring. When I wire the boat, I won't use these shoddy vinyl insulated connectors, I will use proper Ancor heat shrink terminals. But these were all I could find in Winston-Salem.

Boone's Cave Park

Posted 02/21/22

Davidson County manages a small park on the Yadkin River that includes two caves that Daniel Boone may have frequented in the years after he and his family moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania. The caves are easily accessible from a wooden boardwalk and stairway that were built to prevent resource damage from people scrambling up and down the steep sidehill to the caves. The park has river frontage, primitive campsites, seven and a half miles of trails, and a large Eastern Cottonwood tree, perhaps the biggest in the state.

The location was once an undeveloped state park, but in 2003 the state sold the property to Davidson County. Boone's Cave is in a relatively remote corner of the county, so it doesn't get too much use. The park is open seven days a week, all year except for a few holidays, and there is no charge for admission. It seems to attract mostly local people looking for a nice picnic site or hike. A brochure gives some of the history (no mention of who might have lived in the area before the European settlers came in), a trail map, and contact details.

Boone's Cave Road cuts off to the west from Highway 150 at Churchland, south of the Highway 64 crossing. I clocked just over 32 miles home to the park. It's not far short of Trading Ford and the York Hill battlefield, so a good day trip could be made exploring sites along the Yadkin in the area. An easy two-day canoe trip could be made from U.S. 64, overnighting at Boone's Cave and taking out at Trading Ford.

Belews Creek Station

Posted 02/10/22

Lars spotted the plume above the Belews Creek Steam Station from atop Pilot Mountain. He wanted to know what it was, so we drove past on the way home to take a look.

The station was built in 1974 and was Duke Power's largest coal plant in North Carolina, as well as being one of the most efficient in the nation. In the last two years, Duke has converted it to burn either coal, natural gas or a combination of both, in order to reduce emissions.

A major concern in the area is the 12 million tons of coal ash stored adjacent to the plant that needs to be put into long-term storage. Duke is already under regulatory scrutiny after an ash pond at the Dan River Station near Eden breached and released 39,000 tons of ash into the river. Duke has a plan to move the Belews Creek ash into a secure lined pit that will hopefully keep spills out of the creek in perpetuity.

Jeep

Posted 01/28/22

A good-looking jeep in front of Stella Brew. Clearly a pre-1987 CJ, with the round headlights, upright windshield wipers and old style roll bar. But how far pre-1987? Hard to say, the model was built continuously from 1944 through 1986, with almost no changes. It would take a real Jeep aficionado to tell just when this one was made, short of looking up the serial number.

Duffel Bag

Posted 01/28/22

It has been an unusually cold, wet, snowy January, and Covid still runs rampant. Reasons enough to spend time at home. I like to have something to do, so I have been taking on some sewing projects lately. A duffel bag involves zippers and barrel ends, two features that may have a place in other projects. Sailrite sells a kit for a duffel bag that includes fabric pre-plotted for cut lines, seams and folds, along with all the hardware and supplies needed. I didn't buy it, since I already had most of the materials, but I did make use of their instructional video for building the kit. It was a good guide to sequencing the steps and getting the zippers and ends right. Some might notice that the pouches I have been making are essentially the same as the pockets on the duffel.

So where does the term "duffel bag" come from? The heavy woolen cloth that once characterized a duffel bag originated in the town of Duffel, Belgium. Modern bags are generally made of synthetics (mine uses Top Notch 9 for the barrel, Odyssey for the ends and pocket). A traditional duffel loaded through the end and closed with a drawstring, but most modern ones use a top zipper.

More Pouches

Posted 01/18/22

A couple more pouches. I've used up all my zippers, which were salvaged from some deteriorated boat canvas. But I have more on order.

Pouch

Posted 01/14/22

Everyone seems to be very busy this winter, and with Covid and bad weather thrown in, I am finding it difficult to schedule anything more than a day or two in advance. That is keeping me in town, and leaving me with a lot of time on my hands. Fortunately, I have found some sewing projects to do on an ad-hoc basis.

This zippered pouch will go to the boat to hold and protect important papers - documentation, state registration, insurance, Towboat U.S. card. It can go under the cushion of one of the settees and be perfectly safe and accessible.

Wallet

Posted 01/11/22

One thing I try to do is always wear or carry something I made.

Sailrite has a good article and video on how to make a wallet. I don't have all the extra tools and accessories they use, but was still able to make a wallet close to their pattern in about a half hour. I can see that a well-equipped shop could turn these out in ten minutes apiece. The material costs are next to nothing. They would be a good product to sell at craft fairs, alongside other sewn goods.

Old Tech

Posted 01/10/22

It has been years since I had a machine with a 3.5" floppy drive, so, when I came across a stack of disks with archival material recorded in 2000, I decided to transfer them to a regularly backed-up ssd. I found a usb external floppy drive at Ebay for $16.00 shipped, ordered it, and a few days later spent a couple of hours copying 30 diskettes to hard drive.

I have the material on a cd as well, but in truth I don't have a cd/dvd drive on either of my working computers. I have an old machine that could be pressed into service if I had to access a cd or dvd. Even the once ubiquitous usb sticks are fading away, although the usb port itself is now established as the standard data transfer interface. SD cards are probably the current standard for physical data transfer, but with more data residing in the cloud, the days of sneaker net are almost over.

Focus

Posted 01/09/22

Climbing on the roots of a fallen tree, Lex is concentrating and focused on maintaining balance as he places his hand for his next move.

The Pentax-made Cosmicar CPC 28/2.8 is a great lens with one drawback - it flares if the sun is anywhere inside 180 degrees. It lacks the advanced multicoating of the SMC Takumars, being designed to sell at a lower price point. This picture exhibits what is known as veiling flare, a light fog across the whole frame. I usually try to keep the sun behind me when I use this lens. But in this case, I took the picture anyway, and the flare actually enhanced it, providing an overall soft focus effect with a lot of separation. I'm happy with the result.

Sewing

Posted 01/07/22

The Sailrite machine can be set up to sew with one cone of thread while winding a bobbin with another. Both threads are set up as normal but the clutch is not disengaged as it ordinarily would be for bobbin winding. With two cones of the same color, a new bobbin would always be ready as the old one ran out.

For big sail projects, I usually wind 8 or 10 bobbins ahead of time. At $100 a cone, V92 thread is too expensive to keep extra cones on hand, but I can still keep a bobbin of another color winding.

Airplanes

Posted 12/23/21

Heavy pre-Christmas traffic today at Charlotte Douglas International. Here we have American Eagle Bombardier CRJ-700 N538EG inbound with the Charlotte skyline in the background. N538EG had a busy schedule for the day, starting with Gulfport to Charlotte early in the morning, Charlotte to Dayton later in the morning, Dayton to Charlotte early afternoon (the flight shown), then scheduled to New Bern and back to Charlotte late in the afternoon and then to Akron to close out the day. Fuji X-T20 and Vivitar 70-210 1:4.5-5.6 MC Macro.

Privately Issued Money

Posted 12/20/21

The first thing that comes to mind might be bitcoin, and those with slightly longer memories might recall the various schemes to introduce private currencies backed by precious metals. Many analysts believe the Hunt brothers had something like that in mind when they made their disastrous attempt to corner silver in 1980. On a more plebian level, gift cards are a form of private money, and columnist Patrick McKenzie covers this fascinating financial backwater in his recent essay, "The secondary market in gift cards".

Low Country Georgia

Posted 12/08/21

The night of 12/08/18 Phil and I anchored in the mouth of Crooked Creek aboard his catamaran Oryoki, headed for Florida. The afternoon of 12/03/21, Joe and I passed about five miles from there on Interstate 95 in my Mazda 3, headed for Florida. To traverse the ICW from Edenton to St. Augustine by boat took us 14 days. To drive from Winston-Salem to Ocala took 11 hours.

High Point Station

Posted 11/15/21

Train 77, the Raleigh-Charlotte afternoon Piedmont, accelerates south out of High Point Station, 15 minutes late this November 2021 evening. The Piedmonts run with power front and back. They are sponsored by the state of North Carolina, covering three round trips daily and are premium trains with new equipment and spacious coach seating. The Amtrak Carolinian also provides service between Raleigh and Charlotte as part of its New York-Charlotte route. X-T20 and 16-50 kit lens.

Shiba Inu

Posted 11/09/21

Yes, pure clickbait. "Shiba inu breeders across the U.S. say they’re seeing more business than ever", reports my favorite tongue-in-cheek financial columnist Matt Levine, "since cryptocurrency trading brought the Japanese hunting dogs into the limelight". I bet all the Game of Throners sharing their 800 square foot 7th floor apartments with husky dogs, now fully grown, are feeling pret-ty stupid. The sad, sick part of it? Husky Abandonment Is Becoming a Serious Problem.

Lars

Posted 10/16/21

Same camera, same lens as the last post, completely different outcome. The camera stores what the lens sees as a digital file, and post-processing turns the file into a finished picture. Noise reduction with maximum luminence, heavy vignetting, produce this soft-focus, spotlit effect.

Ardmore Cat

Posted 10/15/21

Lightly processed in RawTherapee. Velvia emulation provides the heavily saturated colors, and RL deconvolution makes it sharp. The X-T20 with kit 16-50 nailed focus on the cat, and the slight OOF in the foreground and background induces the 3D effect.

Winston-Salem Skyline

Posted 10/14/21

Taken early this morning with the X-T20 and 16-55 kit lens.

American at North State

Posted 10/09/21

The storage lines are long gone but North State is doing a land office business performing maintenance and repairs for American and United. During the week the parking lot was full, and even on Saturday there were a fair number of workers on hand, including the ones doing final adjustments on this American 737.

What Shortages?

Posted 10/08/21

If I don't want what everybody else wants, how will I know what I want?

Here are some goods that are currently in short supply. Batman toys and Pokemon cards. Ketchup packets. Special pasta (yes, I read about a restaurant in New York that ostensibly closed because it couldn't source the special brand of pasta that the chef considered essential to his dishes). Boneless, skinless chicken breasts. What else? Who knows. There are many articles at media outlets about shortages and supply chain issues, but few specifics about what is unavailable.

In spring and summer of 2020, shelves emptied all across America as people hoarded consumer staples. This year, shelves are fairly well stocked, but outages are all in the news. What's the difference? Last year people couldn't get what they needed, this year they can't get what they want.

A booming stock market, stimulus checks, rent moratoriums and enhanced unemployment benefits have put enormous sums of money in consumer pockets. This money has flowed into a limited array of goods, things that everybody wants, and caused shortages.

Fortunately for me, none of these out of stock items are things that I like to buy.

Ardmore Garden

Posted 10/07/21

A backyard garden a few blocks from where I live. The CPC 28/2.8 seems to be optimized for close focusing. Anything distant starts to take on a soft, slightly out of focus aspect - technically, a reduction in local contrast. But that's ok sometimes. It gives a blocky, impressionistic look to the photograph.

Hawk

Posted 10/03/21

This hawk landed on the telephone pole in my back yard and devoured a small animal. Then it spent 15 minutes preening and sharpening its beak before flying away.

Dankful

Posted 10/02/21

Another great ale from Sierra Nevada. It's strong, it's hoppy, but it doesn't have the bitter aftertaste that a lot of IPAs do.

Ardmore

Posted 09/20/21

Inviting entrance to an Ardmore back yard.

Patron Saint

Posted 09/19/21

Just as many Catholic families used to have a prominently-displayed portrait of John F. Kennedy in the living room, rural gas stations all over West Virginia once kept pictures of Governor Gaston Caperton hanging near the cash register.

Caperton was the socially-moderate, progressive Democratic governor of West Virginia from 1989 to 1997. He raised taxes to cover an enormous deficit left by his Republican predecessor, Arch Moore, and left the state a surplus of over $100 million when his second term ended. He increased teacher salaries and built new schools, improved the road system and started the long process of cleaning up the state's acid-fouled creeks and rivers, a legacy of the coal industry. So why would the intensely conservative country-crossroad service station owners consider him as a patron saint?

Caperton promoted and signed a bill legalizing the sale of hard liquor in gas stations, as well as many other outlets. This was a huge boon to rural gas station owners struggling to survive on an aging, impoverished clientele. Always worth remembering, tangible benefits are the straightest road to political domination.

All this happened many years ago. West Virginia now has an ABC system like North Carolina for the sale of liquor. Some of the statements in this post can be supported by the public record, but some are dependent on my fading memories of time spent in the Mountain State in the 1980s. One memory is clear, though - for a few glorious years you could go into almost any gas station in the state and legally, above the counter, buy a bottle of booze.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of Many

Posted 09/18/21

A beautiful, well-kept Ardmore house. The gutters need cleaning, though. CPC 28/2.8.

T-Bird

Posted 09/17/21

I ran across this immaculate eleventh and last generation Thunderbird on a walk around Ardmore. Another shot with the CPC 28/2.8.

All photographs by Paul M. Clayton unless otherwise noted.

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