Friday, September 22, 2017

We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

I just finished the book "We Are Legion (We Are Bob)" by Dennis Taylor and I liked it a lot.  It was "hard to put down".  Actually, since I listened to the audiobook version, it was hard to stop listening.  For what it's worth, I am not a science fiction aficionado.  Here is a summary from the book jacket... 

"Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.  

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he'll be switched off, and they'll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty. 

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad — very mad."
One interesting element of the story is how the US becomes a theocracy, led by Christian extremists.  Wow.  Parts of it reminded me of a Simpsons episode where Ned Flanders became the ruler of the world and anybody who stepped out of line was forced to endure "Re-Neducation."

I have only two criticisms of the book.  First, I was hoping to find the book's title spoken as dialog by a character in the book.  If it was there, then I missed it.  And second, the story ended kinda abruptly.  I would have enjoyed a few more of the plot threads getting tidied up.

I just received the next book in the Bobiverse trilogy, For We Are Many.  I'll listen to that on an upcoming drive to Utah.

Friday, August 04, 2017


I was rummaging around in my closets the other day looking for something.  I found something unexpected.  I discovered that I have two boxes of old computer keyboards.  Two.  This is too many.  This makes me look weird.  The acceptable limit for boxes of old keyboards should be one.  

Now I need to find a bigger box.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Airmail Navigation Arrows - Los Angeles to Salt Lake Route

I found a document online that shows the details of several airmail navigation routes, including the route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.   The beacon/arrow sites that I have been posting about are all on that route.  

The US Government Printing Office published an "Airway Bulletin" document for the US Department of Commerce.  It's titled General Airway Information and dated September 1, 1931.  Google scanned the original that was sourced from the University of Michigan.  I found the document here.

The LA-SL route is shown in the image below.  It's broken into 4 segments: from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Las Vegas to New Harmony, New Harmony to Lyndyl, and Lyndyl to Salt Lake.  These images are posted below as PNG images and they're larger than appear here.  Click on them to see the larger image, or right-click to download the linked image file.

The beacon numbers don't match exactly what I've been seeing on other web sites.  For example, the map shows beacon 38A at New Harmony, UT with another beacon very close (likely 38).  This web site shows beacon 38 to be at Quail Creek.  Quail Creek is nowhere near New Harmony.  And I know there's at least one more between Quail Creek and New Harmony, at Black Ridge.

I can't reconcile those discrepancies.  Maybe these maps show newer beacon numbers, since the document is published many years after this route (Contract Airmail Route 4) was first flown by Western Air Express in 1926.  Or maybe the map shows an original planned route, but additional beacons were later added, without updating the government's maps.  Who knows.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Airmail Navigaton Arrow - Mormon Mesa Near Glendale, NV

This arrow sits beside I-15 just north of Glendale, NV.  You can see it from the highway.  

Here's a Google map centered on the arrow.  It's also an easy drive that any car can handle.  The green circle marks the arrow in the map below.

The easiest route is to exit I-15, heading south, at the truck turnout area.  The gate for accessing the utility road is often open (circled in green below).  

Approaching from the utility road, you can almost see the arrow.

There's a rough spur road that gets you closer to the arrow.

If that gate is not open, then you need to take the next exit to the north and drive the powerline road that parallels the highway a few miles to the north.  That powerline road is also known as the Kern River Pipeline Road.  I've driven many sections of that road in UT, NV and CA.

This arrow points toward beacon 32 near Mesquite, NV.  

Monday, June 26, 2017

Airmail Navigaton Arrow - Mormon Mesa Near Mesquite, NV

This arrow is a short drive off I-15 ten miles south of Mesquite, NV.  Here's a Google map centered on the arrow.  The road was surprisingly easy.  I imagine the only people driving it are visiting the arrow site.  There aren't any signs and I almost made a wrong turn.  I didn't realize how short the route was.  The arrow is only 1.7 miles down the road once you leave the highway. 

This is beacon 32 along the Los Angeles to Salt Lake City route.  The site is pretty remote and desolate.  

The arrow seems to point to no place in particular.  The CAM 4 route map indicates that the next beacon is just across the state line in AZ.  I can't find any more information about that site (32A).

There's a bit of debris in the area.  Some of the metal pieces might puncture your tires.  

I took care to avoid those when turning around.  In fact, I took an obvious loop used by other visitors to turn around.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Airmail Navigaton Arrow - Quail Creek

This arrow is north of St. George, UT on an uplifted ridge line (named the Harrisburg Bench) overlooking the Quail Creek Reservoir.  Here's a Google map centered on the arrow.  This was beacon 38 on the Los Angeles to Salt Lake City route (CAM #4).

I originally planned to drive the 4wd trail to this one, but ended up walking the route.  I began by walking up the start of the trail to see how difficult it might be.  Four wheel drive trails in Utah tend to be more difficult than those in California, and many 4wd enthusiasts in Utah have heavily modified trucks.  I wanted to see if this trail was super hard and if there was room to turn around if needed.  Before I noticed, I had already walked up the entire route.  In the end, I could have driven this trail.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Airmail Navigaton Arrow - Shinob Kibe

Another airmail navigation arrow sits atop a slanted mesa named Shinob Kibe in Washington, Utah.  This site tells me that Shinob Kibe is pronounced Shih-NO-bee KY-bee and the mesa is sacred to the Paiute indians.  Here's a Google map centered on this arrow.

Visiting this arrow requires a short hike up an established trail.

This site was known as beacon 37B along the Los Angeles to Salt Lake City route.  That route was also known as Contract Air Mail Route 4 and the contract was awarded to Western Air Express.  Their first flight on this route was on April 17, 1926.

This arrow points to another arrow atop a large slanted uplift region just west of Quail Creek Reservoir.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Airmail Navigaton Arrow - St. George: Bloomington

On my way to Zion NP, I visited several airmail navigation arrow sites in the St. George area of southern Utah.  This one is located in a suburban neighborhood on a bluff above an area called Bloomington.  The Arrows Across America web site reports that this arrow site is number 37A along the Los Angeles to Salt Lake City route.

Here's a Google map centered on the arrow.  It's easy to drive to this arrow and I don't even need to describe my route.  The arrow is located next to a water supply tank in the green circle on the image below.

This arrow site includes a monument plaque attesting to Utah's role in aviation history.

This arrow points toward another arrow atop a slanted butte named Shinob Kibe on the east side of St. George in a city named Washington.

Here's a view to the north.

And a view to the SE.  The Walmart store is visible below.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tri-State Monument: Corner of UT-AZ-NV

I returned to the corner of Utah, Arizona, and Nevada.  I was last here in August of 2009 (here is my previous post).  Much has changed.  The site was renovated in 2016 and sports new monuments and many flags.  The monuments indicate that the site is now named Tri-State Monument.

The old sandstone monolith monument is gone.  It has been replaced with 3 monument plaques and 4 official flag poles.  Several more flag poles have been added (maybe by visitors).  They are strapped to various fence posts.

The route is now much easier to follow.  Nifty little sign posts have been installed marking the way.  Here's what they look like.

The road is in worse condition than in 2009.  It took me an hour to drive the 17.8 miles (one way) compared to 45 minutes in 2009.  Here's the route recorded by my Garmin GPS and shown in Google Earth.  It begins off Interstate 15 in the NW corner of Arizona in the small town of Beaver Dam.  I stop there often to buy Arizona lottery tickets (their odds are better than California).

Slow down for all the cattle guards.  They all have a big lip on them and can damage your wheels if you hit them too fast.

Sections of the road had a rough surface, covered with embedded rocks.  I had to drive either very slow or very fast.  Otherwise, it felt like the car was shaking itself apart.  I should have lowered my tire pressure.

This is the right turn to head ESE along the barbwire fence.

This is the only section of road that presents any challenge.  There are a few dips (much easier than in 2009).  In places, the brush scratches the sides of the car.  My Land Cruiser is kinda large, so I got a few scratches that are deep enough that I'll need to buff them out.

Many flags fly at the monument site.  Several appear to be contributed by visitors.

Here are photos of the three monuments.

The previous geocache has been replaced with a sorry paint can containing junk food.

If you're worried about the dips and the creosote scatches, then there's an alternative.  There's a large area off the road where you can park and hike the rest of the way.  Most of the brush and dips happen after that point.  It's less than a mile from the monument.

Those little sign posts only show the route to the monument.  To return safely to the highway, without getting lost on one of the many side roads, you need to either follow the breadcrumb trail your GPS navigation system displayed for you, or you can look for the sign posts (facing the opposite way) each time you encounter an intersection.  I did that 2nd option and it worked fine.