Press "Enter" to skip to content

Month: February 2009

Nike Ajax Hercules at SF-88

Teaser image from a vacation showing a Nike Hercules missile at SF-88, the National Parks Service Nike Missile site just north of San Francisco.

Here is a teaser image from when Jeff and I went to the Nike Missile Site in Golden Gate National Recreation Area today. This site, formerly SF-88, is probably the best preserved, best restored Nike site in the country. While there we were shown the inside of two of the command and control vans, were able to go down in the magazine, ride on the elevator holding a missile, and generally wander around.

While riding the elevator down into the magazine we were told that we had to “keep a hand on the missile”, which felt very strange. I presume it’s an effective way to ensure that one doesn’t get caught in what is a gigantic pinch point, but I felt strange touching a museum piece, much less a former nuclear missile. Here is a video that Jeff took of the missile elevator in action from inside the magazine.. We both have more videos and photos than this, but they haven’t been uploaded yet.

After visiting the launch site and being shown around the vans, we started hiking up towards the IFC (Integrated Fire Control) area, which was located on one of the higher peaks overlooking the launchers. It turns out that we took the not-quite-right trails, ending up on one peak over from the IFC, about 500′ away. We could have made it over there by winding our way up steep hills and through brush, but as there were clouds beginning to envelop the mountain tops, sun getting lower, us having no extra water, and no visible hole in the fence on the side of the were facing we headed back down to the car.

Thus far this has been a great trip. Visiting friends, meeting new people, eating lots of good food, and just generally having a relaxing, nice time. Not to mention the weather… It’s like Michigan in May.

Leave a Comment

Two Credit Cards

This morning after waking up I checked my email on my phone and found an authentic-looking fraud alert from HSBC, the bank which holds my most-used credit card. This informed me that HSBC believes one of the recent transactions on my account is fraudulent. I then tried to sign into HSBC’s online banking stuff, only to find my account disabled.

Calling HSBC I was informed that a merchant through which I used my credit card “approximately 18-20 months ago” reported to MasterCard a compromise, and my credit card info is now available publicly. This info was used by someone who manually keyed in a $4680.22 transaction at Tahitian Noni International (Wikipedia), a MLM shop out of Provo, UT. I also told that while they currently do not know which company was compromised, this information should be available to me upon the completion of MasterCard’s investigation.

Save for the fraud, this is just the system working as its supposed to. Unfortunately the timing is a little inconvenient. The charge has been delt with, and a new card with new account number and card and such is being sent to me. As I’m leaving for the San Francisco area this evening and now without the ability to use my ‘normal’ credit card, I’ll have to fall back on the backup one. This card doesn’t pay cash back, has a high interest rate, and generally doesn’t get much use. I probably should also call that card company and inform them that there will soon be charges coming from all over the country so that this one doesn’t get flagged / turned off. I guess this is why I carry two credit cards.

Leave a Comment

Nokia E51 and Kensington Expert Mouse For Sale

I’ve got a Kensington Expert Mouse (Trackball) and Nokia E51 for sale. Both are in like-new condition. The trackball was only used for a couple hours, until I decided I didn’t like it. The phone was used for a couple months, but after the recent acquisition of the G1 / Android, I don’t really need it.

Here are photos of the Kensington Expert Mouse: 1 · 2 · 3
Here are photos of the Nokia E51: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12

In case you don’t know, the Kensington Expert Mouse is probably the best trackball made. It’s got a pool ball sized ball, four large buttons, and a scroll ring around the ball which serves the same function as the scroll wheel on a mouse.

The Nokia E51 is a very nice Symbian Series 60 phone with a metal case. It’s quad band, has a SIP client for VOIP goodness, a nice browser, great screen, and 802.11 connectivity. I really like this phone, I just no longer use it. It is completely unlocked, so it’s not tied to any particular operator, SIM, or anything else. Any SIM should work in it, anywhere in the world.

For the Kensington Expert Mouse I’d like: US$50
For the Nokia E51 I’d like US$180

Leave a Comment

Google’s My Tracks Is Good

The T-Mobile G1 / HTC Dream failed to focus in freezing temperatures. This was taken while I was out on a bike ride.

Google has released the My Tracks app for Android, and I think it makes the T-Mobile G1 into the best hand-held GPS I’ve owned. While on a beat-the-snow bike ride to test out the Mary Bar from last night (note: moving it slightly made my hands much more comfortable) I fired up the app and a short segment of the route back to my house, then around the parking lot a few times. I’m very, very happy with the detail in those logs. You can look at the KML (which only works in Google Earth, not Maps, for some reason) here: 17-Feb-2008_MyTracks_Test_While_Biking.kml

Right before I started this route plot I tried to take the photo seen above with the G1. For some reason, in temperatures right around freezing, the camera wouldn’t focus. I guess this is to be expected, as all manner of small mechanical systems aren’t intended to work right at those temperatures.

All in all, I’m finding myself quite happy with the G1. There’s a few quirks, but nothing that makes me want to get rid of the phone. In fact, I’m considering selling my recently-purchased Nokia E51. I’m also thinking that the On-One Mary Bar might work out well for me. I need to adjust the bar position a little more, but after tonight’s fiddling I found it considerably more comfortable.

Total ride tonight was somewhere just under 16 miles. I did roughly the same route as on last Tuesday, but with a few detours. I rode the single-speed fully rigid Bianchi D.I.S.S. with very knobby tires, which made for a little more challenging riding. Thankfully the snowy / icy ground was relatively smooth.

Leave a Comment

On-One Mary Bar Trial

Bob's On-One Mary Bar on my Bianchi D.I.S.S. single speed, waiting for the alcohol under the Oury grips to dry.

After getting the new stem at lunch I was finally able to install the Mary bar I’d been loaned. I’m still waiting for the grips to dry so that I can go for a test ride, but a quick lab around the basement seemed to indicate that these bars may be nice. As soon as the alcohol which I used to install the Oury grips dries I’ll take a test ride up to the post office, where I need to ship an iSight Tripod Adapter that someone purchased today.

UPDATE: Well, the ~6 mile round trip to the Post Office was interesting. It seems that I didn’t wait long enough for the Ourys to set up, and this caused a bit of slipping while riding. I’m not sure if it was this or the new bar shape which made my hands hurt a bit. Time will tell on this.

I fell once after I thought I could ride over a 1′ pile of icy snow, only to have it collapse and my front wheel stop, toppling me over. Oops. This damaged the end of the Oury a bit, and makes me think that I might fit something else (say, some spare Specialized grips) to this bar.

That all said, I’m still pretty happy with the Bianchi. It still needs a bit of fiddling (seat post binder tightness and brake pads), but I think I like how it feels. This should be fun off road once things thaw and dry out.

Leave a Comment

HFCS in Karo Light Corn Syrup

Karo's Light Corn Syrup, for some explicable reason, contains High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Today Danielle and I headed over to my parents house. While there we made a double batch of caramels using this recipe from The Kitchn. While the caramels are excellent, the Karo Light Corn Syrup we used contains High Fructose Corn Syrup, whose presence greatly confuses me. I can understand the addition of vanilla and salt, but I don’t understand what business HFCS has in what should be a fairly basic product.

That said, the resulting caramels do taste excellent. Here is a photo of the caramel boiling after the addition of the cream, as we were getting it up to 248°F so it could be poured into the form. Yes, that’s a classic mercury bulb candy thermometer.

UPDATE: I emailed Karo to ask why Light Corn Syrup would possibly have HFCS in it, and I actually received some interesting replies. It seems that this has been an ingredient since the 70s in order to increase sweetness, but it was recently removed due to customer requests. I guess the bottle of it that my mom has is a bit old and we just need to purchase another.

Leave a Comment