Friday, August 28, 2009

New Book: Free

Thanks to Luke's suggestion, I recently listened to the audiobook version of "Free: The Future of a Radical Price," by Chris Anderson. It currently has 3.5 stars from 50 Amazon reviewers. True to its name, the audiobook was free. Here's a link to a Wired article about the book that includes a link to the zipped unabridged book in mp3 format.

The author, Chris Anderson, is the editor-in-chief of Wired and author of the bestseller The Long Tail. I've read The Long Tail, and I recommend it.

I'm having difficulty synopsizing the content of Free. It's about the emerging economy of commercial business models that give away products and services, while monetizing novel channels to cover costs. The archetype example is Google. Here's a more elequent review of the book by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker. And here's a slightly longer Wired article about the concept with graphics, a video, and examples.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Corner of Utah, Arizona, and Nevada

UPDATE: The monument site was renovated in 2016. I visited it last week and have posted a new blog entry here about the new site.

On my latest return from Zion NP, I drove to the corner where Utah and Arizona butt up against Nevada. My map labeled the place as "Initial Monument." I'd never heard of that before. A lot of googling found some posts by adventurous people who'd visited the site. They reported that it required 4wd and they had to hike the last stretch. They also indicated that a geocache was located there. This sounded like a challenge to me. Here's a google map centered on the location. Google Earth already shows somebody's Panoramio photo of the site.

I used google maps satellite images to choose my route, a mere 17 miles off interstate I-15 from Littlefield. Almost all of those roads were passable by any vehicle. A few of which I could drive at 40 mph. The last few miles were on a ranch road along their barbwire fence. That was the funnest part of the drive, and does require high clearance (but not necessarily 4wd) to go through some fun (sharp) drops of about 6 feet into 6 ft washes then right back up.

The monument is marked with a 3 ft tall sandstone monolith. I found a source on the web that said this monument was placed there in 1901. The states are engraved into the sandstone on each side. One side reads "NL 37" indicating that this monument is at 37 deg north latitude, which is the latitude of the border between Utah and Arizona.

I took a photo of my Garmin display while I was there, as well as photos of the geocache contents. It was windy and overcast and still 102F. Nicer than the 117F down at Littlefield.

Lastly, here's a map indicating my route for anybody who's interested in a brief diversion from their drive along I-15.

UPDATE:  I've received a request for more details about the route, so I'm attaching a few more annotated Google maps.  Most of the route is a wide graded dirt road where you can drive 35+ mph.  That's why it doesn't take very long to get to the end.  As I mentioned in the comments, the last stretch of road is not graded, it is less used and follows a fence line.  That road crosses a few (2 or 3) gullies that might cause problems if you have bad approach/departure angles.  But you can always stop and hike from there - it's not very far.

The only place you might get a little lost, is in the area of the orange path.  I missed the right turn and then went on to the corner (orange path) and turned there.  The green circles mark the gullies.  I hope my description isn't out of date.  I plan to drive the route again in the next couple months just to see if the route is still as easy as it was in 2009.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mariolumne Dome

On my most recent trip to Yosemite, I camped again at Tuolumne Meadows. All the campgrounds were full, and I put my name on the waiting list. This is the second time that's happened, and the second time I've been rewarded with a camp site. Again I was amazed at how many people don't return for a site. This time, over half the names called weren't there.

I'd planned to try hiking to the summit of Mariolumne Dome. It's the tallest in the TM area with a summit elevation of 9,970 feet. Unfortunately, I'm out of shape and I was too winded before I even made it to the end of the climbers trail. So instead I hiked on the small dome to the north, which gave me some great views of Mariolumne and the other domes in the area. That's Mariolumne on the right, and Cathedral Peak just left of center.

I kept hearing climbers hollering at each other, and it took me a while to spot them. You can barealy see one here in this shot - the white dot in the middle of the verticle slab.

This climber is actually on Drug Dome, climbing the route named OZ. That's the one in front with the scary overhand. The climbing routes go right around that overhand. Check out the route image on SuperTopo. It's only a 5.10d. Wow.

Climbing on that would totally freak me out. They've got some interesting posts from people who've climbed it. One did it with his 13yo daughter.

I'll return some day and get up to the top of Mariolumne.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Garmin Nuvi - Easter Eggs

I've learned of a couple hidden features in my Garmin Nuvi 760. I don't know if they also work in other models. I learned of these accidentally when googling for other info. Please let me know of any other easter eggs that work for Garmins.

GPS Performance Display (hidden feature)

Press and hold the upper left corner of the display (the GPS signal strength meter). I like this one and sometimes keep it up while driving. It shows a sky map of the GPS satellites in view, as well as the current speed and latitude, longitude and elevation. It also shows the current estimated GPS accuracy.

System Configuration Displays (hidden feataure)

While running on batteries: press and hold the battery indicator at the top of the display. Hold it until the display appears - this can take 10 seconds. This is the first of several pages that show all sorts of system configuration settings. While aadvancing through the screens (using the "next" button in the lower right corner), when the screen goes totally one color, continue to tap where the "next" button has been and it will continue to the next color.

This next one even shows that I have mine set to use French for the navigation language.

I double-checked my manual, and it did not mention these displays.


I recently finished the audiobook version of "Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock That Shaped the World" by Tom Zoellner and I really liked it. It currently has 4.5 stars (of 5) from 17 Amazon reviewers. I learned a lot from this book.

I learned about the horrific conditions in the Jachymov uranium mines and penal camps. When they needed more miners, they'd arrest men for anything they could make up and send them off to the mines. This was around 1950, when the Communists ruled what was then Czechoslovakia and they were desperate to build stockpiles of uranium to counter the US nuclear threat.

I learned about the even worse conditions at the famous Shinkolobwe mine in the DRC in Africa. Apparently, that mine was the mother lode of uranium mining and supplied a lot of uranium that went into US nuclear weapons after World War II.

I learned about the government sponsored rush to find new deposits of uranium in the American west and the millionaire, Charlie Steen, that rose to fame there. Steen setup home in Moab, Utah and became a colorful celebrity there. He's since died leaving his children to fight viciously over the estate.

I also learned about the prosperous uranium mines in Australia, who exports it all and doesn't use any of it. The most famous one being the Ranger Mine, which has been embroiled in controversy thanks to its proximity to Kakadu National Park.

Another colorful figure described is Robert Friedland. Said to have attended college with Steve Jobs, Friedland went on to become a mining magnate reviled by many. He's been called the "Ugly Canadian" and a "mercenary miner". Environmentalists call him "Toxic Bob" after a big mess in Colorado had to be cleaned up by the government for around $180M.

I recommend the book to anyone interested in following the many unrelated threads of uranium's influence across the planet.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pacifico Mountain

This morning I drove up into the San Gabriel mountains to explore 3N17 east of Mill Creek Summit. I ended up driving the road from east to west, starting off the Angeles Crest Highway (2). I actually left the 2 at the Chilao Campground and turned north at the fire station onto the very scenic 3N14 road. Here's a photo of the 3N14 shelf road. This guy has posted many more photos.

That led me to 3N17 where I headed west. The road was in good condition and the weather was great. The spur up to Pacifico Mountain was a little more rugged and the morning sun was casting shadows that messed with my ability to judge the size of embedded boulders. But it was a great drive with a rewarding view from the campground. The top photo was taken looking north.

Turning onto the Angeles Forest Highway at Mill Creek Summit led me to a surprisingly pleasant drive back down into Pasadena. Since it's Friday, the normal weekend crowds were absent and I didn't have to face the deadly thrill of psycho drivers and motorcycle riders that like to cross over into the oncoming lane at each twisty turn (each risking a likely unsurvivable headon with my 3 ton truck).