Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite Photos of 2009

This photo of Kate shows why family get togethers are worth all the time and effort! (courtesy Carl)

We were glad to have Stephanie's family living close enough for regular visits this year. It is amazing to see how fast grandchildren grow. (courtesy Stephanie)

Not a particularly spectacular photo unless you know it was taken at Thanksgiving, which means that not only did the Smiths remain in Oregon well out of their migratory patterns, but that the Andersons also made their way west this year to make it a get together to remember.

Ann Marie making friends at an informal work picnic. I've thrived a whole year with the new group and am glad to be getting paid for doing something I enjoy.

Lynn Rivet demonstrating mysteries of womanhood that I will never fully understand, but get to witness on a daily basis.

Engineer Robin in charge of the Dawson Run during a video shoot. Couldn't let you go without at least one train photo. Luckily I've been able to share my interest in this hobby with a number of people this year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Instructable Xmas

I did a write-up on the Instructables website of how I did the pictures for Mom's digital picture frame.

I changed all the names and birth dates just out of paranoia. I'm not sure anyone will use it, but at least it is "out there". I put so much time in to it, and it is such a cool idea, I would hope some one else might benefit from sharing it.

My next project, which is already well documented on Instructables, is creating my own wireless picture frame out of an old laptop using Linux. It was going great up to the point where the video cable connector self destructed. Buying repair parts for something you were going to throw out anyways defeats the purpose.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dawson Juction on the Road

I got invited to show Dawson Station at a Cub Scout pack meeting. Mom set the stage by reading the season and subject appropriate book "Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg.
I spoke for a bit about Hull-Oakes and then let the cubs run the layout. I'm not sure who was more interested, the cubs or their dads. One father jokingly asked me if I was a historian or something.
Other than the pack meeting, the layout has been prominently featured in my favorite hobby shop front window. They seem to like having it and said one of the Hull brothers was in and commented on it.
It was about this time last year that I started working on it. What a year it has been.

Avatar Movie Review


You need to see it in 3D while it is in theaters.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Typing Speed

How fast can you type, and how did you learn?

For some reason, when I was in high school I decided learning to type would be beneficial. I don't think many guys took the class. I remember getting up to 60 wpm. It has served me well. I'm wondering how students learn now that the IBM Selectrics are endangered machines.

You can test you mad skills online here. I can still manage 55 wpm.

Here are some interesting facts:

  • The QWERTY keyboard was designed in 1878
  • One of the worlds fastest typists, Barbara Blackburn, was from Salem, Oregon, and uses an alternative keyboard design named Dvorak to reach speeds greater than 200 wpm.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snowball Fight

Not that we've had snow in Adair yet, but . . .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Creche by Any Other Name

The Community Creche Exhibit changed their name this year to "Community Nativity Festival". It has been an event for 15 years now, and seems to get better and better.
This is one of three tables all from a lady in our Ward, Kip Worley.

What struck me this year was the diversity of materials used. This one from Jean Nelson is made of "ground cinnamon wood clay" from Singapore.

This one from Kip is painted copinal seeds from El Salvador.

There were several interesting examples made from banana fibers from Africa. This is Ileen Barlow's.

A stunning crystal example, and believe it or not . . .

Railroad ties! It would be hard to think of a material that hasn't been used.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Torsional Troubles

Day 16028, entry 142. I can now add garage door repairman to my resume. And I still have all ten fingers to prove I'm qualified.

You would not believe how many parameters must be specified to get a correct torsion spring replacement. Coil diameter, wire diameter, spring length, pulley diameter, door height, door turning radius, and even direction of wind. All that so you can get a correctly distributed resistance to gravity which will allow a 1/2 hp motor or a little old lady raise a hundred pound door overhead easily.

Smitty helped, which was comforting. He has scars to prove he can tangle with tightly wound devices. An industrial roll-up he was working on broke his arm once. I also had Google help, with kudos to Richard Kinch's webpage which not only explains how to do it and survive, but illuminates the physics behind springs and what to look for in a repairman should your courage fail. He also points you to suppliers willing to overlook the seven day waiting period. Wait, that was the pistol . . .

It only takes seven and one-half turns to achieve lethal quantities of stored energy. And it is held in place by two small set bolts. It did take me three weeks and one incorrect part to get it right. Three weeks corresponds with the cold shoulder my wife gave me while being deprived of the use of her garage during an unseasonal cold snap. Maybe I should have just called the repair man.

FlockDrawing Awesomeness

I stumbled across something so cool, I'm violating my "post-a-day" rule. It may or may not working because of being overwhelmed by popularity. This is basically a "shared white board". Go ahead, draw on it (click here to pop it out and get the drawing controls on the right side):

You can draw the same time as someone else.
Get your own board at:
Perhaps the coolest part is that it is so simple it doesn't need instructions!

I'm GEEKED OUT! I was preview my post, when someone started writing on it. "Who is there?" I wrote on the board. "I just posted this!"
"^_^Creator" was the response.
"Is this cool or what?", I ask.
"yeah, I spent six weeks making it. better be cool :P".

So I got to chat with the creator! It's been up a week and has gotten 50,000 unique visitors. I got a few technical details out of him. Here is a screen shot of the board (i consider it a historic artifact now):

Here is what Ann Marie was doing at the time:

Have you seen what they did to Abe?

Polly just showed me a new penny. There are four different designs on the back for 2009, followed by one more in 2010. They haven't messed with the penny in 50 years. At least they are leaving old Abe alone on the front.

And, if you think your state quarter collection is finished at 50, I've got more bad news. There are also six new quarters floating around, the only one of which I've seen is Guam.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Interverse Timelines

Here is my current view of social media:

Twitter: hourly
Facebook: daily
Blog: weekly

As you can tell, I'm not much of an hourly or daily kind of guy. Maybe that is why I blog a little more than weekly (138 posts in 533 days = 1.8 posts per week). It is a working theory.

To make up for putting you through that, here is a relaxing video (turn up the sound):

Timelapse movie: The Alps -- part II (night)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Supported OSes

I recently helped June select a new HP laptop, which put her on the cutting edge of operating systems with Windows 7. I am now proud to say I am the "goto guy" for the following systems:

June's LaptopHome Laptops (4),
Work Laptops (2),
Home Desktop,
Old Work Desktop
Polly's Laptop,
New Work Desktop
Ubuntu Linux
Home Laptops (4),
Home Desktop
Redhat Linux
Work Desktop,
Linux cluster (>30)
Apple Leopard
Janeil's Desktop,

It occurred to me I could have talked June into an Apple and saved the Windows 7 experience for latter in life, but hey, it's not that bad. How is that for an advertising slogan: "Windows 7 - It's not that bad!"

What is funny about this XKCD comic is that it is pretty much true. Just add a dash of Googling!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ariana's Second B-day

Twilight moonrise on the way.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Featured again in Small Layout Scrapbook

Check out Dawson Station's second appearance in Carl Arendt's Small Layout Scrapbook!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Smiths

We didn't have to travel far for Thanksgiving dinner this year. It was just next door.
June put out a great spread. Of course having two ovens, two adult daughters, and three willing grandchildren to assist helps.
Burt and Carol came from Idaho. It was the biggest Smith gathering in a while.
We even watched some football! How is that for a crazy holiday?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Merit Badging @ Dawson Station

They had a District Merit Badge Clinic at our chapel on Saturday. My friend Roy was doing railroading, so I invited myself along. I had just finished the plexiglass cover and new backdrop.One of the requirements involve doing a shunting puzzle. While one scout ran the layout, another worked a problem on the computer. Most of them caught on pretty quick. Only one was able to complete the computer version (mine is a bit easier).

Roy is an "O-scaler" and has quite a Lionel collection. The scouts helped set it up, wire it up, decorate, and run it.

Part of the merit badge is knowledge of the different scales. Here my N-scale WPRR 2302 "Adair Village" contrasts Roy's O-scale FA unit. Most of the kids were familiar with HO-scale, which is in between.

They gave my layout a good test. They seemed to enjoy it, and nothing got broken. A good day all around! I was glad for a chance to show it off.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Albany P & W Engine House Tour

As part of the Espee in Oregon annual convention, we got to tour the Portland & Western Engine House in Albany, Oregon.

Engineer Robin listening in on the safety briefing.

PNWR1851 "Hillsboro" SD-9 and PNWR1853 "Forest Grove" SD-7.

An unusual view of the underside of PNWR2301 "Sheridan" GP39-2.

PNWR3052 SD40-3 and PNWR2301 Sheridan GP39-2.

Photo op: PNWR1854 "Beaverton" SD-9 in fairly fresh paint. Smitty is on the right.

A "less fresh" PNWR1501 SD-7 which thrilled the "foamers" by starting up while we were there. This engine was built in 1952 and has been in service for 57 years!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Five Model Railroad Layouts in Adair?

Espee in Oregon held their annual get together in Corvallis this year. They arranged tours of four HO-scale model layouts in the Adair area. One was a club layout (which I had seen), and three were room-sized home layouts.

Sawmill on CSME Club's multi-room layout.

Rounding the bend on Gene Neville's workshop Layout.
Ken Roth overseeing visitors at his attic layout. (He had Ann Marie looking for a scale model kitty)
Blueprints of Jerry Boudreaux's award-winning basement layout.

And of course, I wanted to show mine.
Not quite a rooms worth, but far more complete. And they didn't have to try to find my house (I brought it to them).