Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

The sun setting bright pink earlier this week, framed perfectly by our neighbor's roof and pine trees in their backyard.

Visit Tom for more Skywatch Fun.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mischa Set: 3 "The Thinker"

I call this shot "The Thinker" because her pose reminds me of Rodin's famous sculpture of the same name...

Mischa has more hair...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ABC Wednesday: "S" is for Segway

ABC Wendesday for the letter "S" is a fun one - the Segway! I've never ridden one yet, but plan to sometime within the next year - they give tours at Disney World on them and there are also places around our town that give nature tours on the off-road version of the Segway (yes, they make an off-roading Segway, and also a golfing Segway to carry your golf bag and scorecard, but other types as well).

The Segway PT is a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle invented by Dean Kamen and unveiled in December 2001. It is produced by Segway Inc. of New Hampshire. The name "Segway" is a homophone of "segue" (a smooth transition, literally Italian for "follows"). PT is an initialism for personal transporter while the old acronym HT was an initialism for human transporter.

Computers and motors in the base of the device keep the Segway PT upright when powered on with balancing enabled. Users lean forward to go forward, lean back to go backward, and turn by using a "Lean Steer" handlebar, leaning it left or right. Earlier HTs used a twist grip to steer by twisting the grip left and right. Segway PTs are driven by electric motors at up to 5.6 m/s (12.5 mph/20 km/h). Gyroscopic sensors (see vibrating structure gyroscope) are used to detect tilting of the device which indicates a departure from perfect balance. Motors driving the wheels are commanded as needed to bring the PT back into balance. Segways do not have or need mechanical brakes; this makes their use illegal on public roads in jurisdictions which classify them as some form of motor vehicle.

In laws that regulate it, the applicable category is sometimes called "electric personal assistive mobility device" (EPAMD). A niche that Segways have been often adopted into is transportation across military bases, warehouses, corporate campuses or industrial sites, or neighborhoods in place of walking or bicycles.

The Segway PT has been known by the names Ginger and IT in the past. The name Ginger followed the name of the project the Segway branched from: the inspiration behind the Segway PT came from the balancing technology of Kamen's innovative wheelchair, the iBOT, a wheelchair which can climb stairs, and prop itself up to balance on two wheels, thus raising the user up to an eye-level position. The first iterations of balancing technology were done in early Segway models. It was called Fred Upstairs, after Fred Astaire — hence Ginger after Astaire's regular feature film partner, Ginger Rogers.

The advance buzz about the then-unknown product was, at times, hyperbolic. Steve Jobs claimed that it would be "as big a deal as the PC".[1] Articles were written in major publications speculating on it [3], [4]. The product was unveiled 3 December 2001 on the ABC News morning program Good Morning America [5]

In September 2003 the Segway PT was recalled because of the possibility of some PTs not being able to provide enough propulsive power to maintain balance while still in motion, particularly when the batteries are near the end of charge, allowing the rider to fall[2]. With a new software patch to version 12.0, the PT will automatically slow down and stop in response to detecting that the battery's power capability is low, thus allowing a rider to dismount safely.

In August 2006, Segway discontinued all previous models and announced new second generation designs that upgraded many elements of the previous transporters. The Gen II PT, marketed under the two product lines, i2 and x2, allows users to steer by leaning the handlebars to the right or left, which matches the intuitive nature of leaning forward and backward to accelerate and decelerate. Another feature is wireless InfoKey access.[3]

In September 2006, all 23,500 of the vehicles were voluntarily recalled. A glitch within the "speed limiter" created a risk of causing a rearward torque to be suddenly applied to the wheels, throwing off its rider.[4][5] Segway released a patch to its software (version 14.2) to resolve the problem.

The invention, development, and financing of the Segway is the subject of a narrative nonfiction book, Code Name Ginger (in paperback as Reinventing the Wheel), by journalist Steve Kemper.

The dynamics of the Segway PT are identical to a classic control problem, the inverted pendulum. The Segway PT has electric motors powered by batteries which can be charged from household current. It balances with the help of dual computers running proprietary software, two tilt sensors, and five gyroscopes. (The gyroscopes do not affect the balance; they are merely used as sensors.) The servo drive motors rotate the wheels forwards or backwards as needed for balance or propulsion. The rider accelerates or decelerates by leaning forward or backwards in the direction they wish to travel. On older models, steering is controlled by a twist grip on the left handlebar, which simply varies the speeds between the two motors, rotating the Segway PT (a decrease in the speed of the left wheel would turn the Segway PT to the left). Newer models enable the use of "leaning" to steer as well as move forwards or backwards.

The Segway PT is built simply to stay balanced in one place. Designed to mirror the process of human walking, if the rider standing on an initially balanced Segway PT leans forward, therefore offsetting the balance, the PT moves forward to regain balance just as in walking a leg moves forward to retain balance. With the Segway PT, changes from a balanced status are first detected by the gyroscopes, and signals are passed on to the onboard computers which then direct motors to regain balance. This process occurs about 100 times per second, so small adjustments to maintain balance occur almost immediately after the balance is offset by the rider.[7]

The side effect of this balancing system is that as the Segway PT balances itself the entire unit changes position in the direction it has moved to restore balance. (For example, if the rider leans forward, the entire Segway PT will move forward from its original position, until the rider restores an upright position on the unit.) This is precisely how the Segway PT is controlled - the balancing and movement is essentially one combined system.

The Segway PT features a governor (speed limiting) mechanism. When the Segway PT approaches the maximum speed allowed by the software, it intentionally begins to tilt slightly backwards. This moves the platform out in front, and leans the handlebars backwards towards the rider, eventually nudging the rider to lean back slightly and slow the Segway PT down. If not for the governor, riders would be able to lean farther than the motor could ever compensate for. The Segway PT also slows or stops immediately if the handlebar of the unit (or forward bag) nudges into any obstacle.

For the rest of the article on the Segway, its history, and uses, check out:

For more ABC Wedesday fun, check out Mrs Nesbitts Place.

Mischa Set: 2

Time to wash the paw.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mischa Set: 1

Our gorgeous kitten Mischa was napping in the living room on her stool with the sun shining through the windows on her and was gracious enough to allow me to snap of a series of photos of her, some of which came out quite nice. I'll post a few of them over the next few days.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Beams of sunlight passing through the glass on our front door window, shining through the faint smoke of cooking bacon in the kitchen nearby.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Who Hoo?

Fake wooden owl at our office building to keep pidgeons away... we used to decorate him for the various seasons, but the lady to did so retired.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

When you live in a navy town, watching the skies often results in the sighting of naval aircraft. Here we actually have two naval bases - one an actual port for ships and the other a naval air station for only planes.

While strolling around the TPC Sawgrass a few weeks ago the pilot of this particular plane - known as a P3 Orion - evidently decided he wanted to watch a little golf as well, because it came flying over the course from the ocean and proceeded to make a few loops overhead; I can only assume the crew was leaning to look out the windows and catch a glimps of the golf course below.

The P3 Orion is an older plane now, soon to be replaced, but it still does a good job. It is a surveillance craft - crammed full of listening divices to track submarines. It gathers data and relays it to surface ships and friendly submarines in the area to help coordinate efforts to thwart the enemy. But today I think the only enemy was that they were on duty and not on the ground watching golf. :)

Be sure to visit Tom for all the Sky Watch Friday fun, and a happy long Memorial Day weekend to all of my fellow Americans.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Under Construction

We are having some landscaping construction done to our office grounds at work and they have barricaded off one side of the building.

Bob's Barricades... who is Bob? Why did he decide to make barricades? How did that conversation go?

"Honey, could you pass the potatos?"

"Yes, dear. Oh, and by the way, I'm quitting my high paying corporate job to open a company that makes nothing but construction barricades."

"You're what!?"

But make barricades Bob does, and every single barricade you see - at least in our part of the US - is a Bob's Barricade so he must be doing something right, and probably making tons of money doing it. Road construction around here is the state passtime, it seems, so I don't imagine Bob runs low on orders.

Now we all just need to go out and find our own "barricades" to make ourselves rich.

Maybe caution tape?

No, looks like that one is taken already, too. Drats. :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ABC Wednesday: "R" is for Redcoat

In honor of all our British blogging friends across the pond, my ABC Wednesday for the letter R is Redcoat!

Redcoat is a nickname given to British soldiers of the 17th to 19th centuries due to the fact that the uniform of the army included a red coat.

The first use of the red coat as part of the regular army uniform of England came in 1645 as part of the New Model Army ordinance. One reason for the use of red was the relative cheapness of red dye at the time. There is no truth to the old wive's tale that red was chosen because it would not show blood (blood shows as a black stain on red cloth).

From an early stage the facings (lapels, cuffs and collars) of the red coat were varied, depending upon which regiment the uniform belonged to. Examples were scarlet for the 33rd Regiment of Foot, yellow for the 44th Regiment of Foot and buff for the 3rd Regiment of Foot. An attempt at standardisation was made following the Cardwell Reforms of 1881, with English and Welsh regiments having white, Scottish yellow, Irish green and Royal regiments dark blue.

Scarlet tunics ceased to be general issue upon British mobilisation in August 1914. The Brigade of Guards resumed wearing their scarlet full dress in 1920 but for the remainder of the Army red coats were only authorised for wear by regimental bands and officers in mess dress or on certain limited social or ceremonial occasions (notably attendance at Court functions or weddings). The reason for not generally reintroducing the distinctive full dress was primarily financial, as the scarlet cloth requires expensive cochineal dye.

As late as 1980, consideration was given to the reintroduction of scarlet as a replacement for the dark blue "No. 1 dress" and khaki "No. 2 dress" of the modern British Army, using cheaper and fadeless chemical dyes instead of cochineal. Surveys of serving soldiers' opinion showed little support for the idea and it was shelved.

Information mostly taken from:

All photos taken in St. Augustine, FL during December 2007 at a living history event depicting the "British period" of the city from 1763-1784.

Visit Mrs. Nesbitt's Place for all the ABC Wednesday fun.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What a tangled web we weave...

...when first we are a spider.

This rather large fellow has taken up residence in our front yard and has been spinning large webs beside our fence by the driveway that are at least two or three feet wide. I had the camera with me when we came home last night so I took a picture. Sorry to freak out any of you who dislike spiders. I'm not a big fan myself, but wanted to pay homage to this one for his hard work - we've knocked down his web leaving the house at dusk and come back a few hours later and he'll have built it completely back up again. Gotta respect his work ethic if not his taste in dining. :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

There wasn't much going on in the sky last week while I was at the TPC @ Sawgrass, so rather than looking up I caught this week's Sky Watch Friday post by looking down into the reflections on the canal of the 6th hole.

Visit Tom for more Sky Watch fun!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ABC Wednesday: "Q" is for Queue

ABC Wednesday for the letter Q. Poor letter Q. No love. :)

Since I lacked a photo of any of the various brass or woodwind quartets or quintets I have ever played in, I had to come up with something else. So I borrow a word from our friends across the pond and choose "queue", which isn't exactly common in the US. We just call them lines, mostly.

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Queue comes from a French word of the same spelling, but that word was based on the Latin word Cauda, meaning a tail, as on an animal.

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So for illustrations are photos from various queueing areas around Disney World, where there are rarely a shortage of lines to wait in.

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Some various translations of the word queue:

Czech: fronta cs(cs) f.
Dutch: rij nl(nl)
Finnish: jono fi(fi)
German: Wartezimmer, Warteschlange
Hebrew: תוֹר (tor) m.
Hungarian: sor hu(hu)
Italian: fila it(it) f.
Portuguese: fila pt(pt) f.
Russian: очередь ru(ru) (óčer'ed') f.
Spanish: fila es(es), cola es(es), linea es(es) f.
Swedish: sv(sv)

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But then sometimes you just get lucky and wind up first in line, so there is no queue for youeue. :)

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Visit Mrs Nesbit for other ABC Wednesday blogs, where I'm sure there are no lines and no waiting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Golf Course Wildlife

A heron (I think) flying up to land in a tall tree:

A blue heron standing quite clam next to a walking path by the lake - not shy at all:

A great egret soaring right past me on the breeze - caught me by surprise so I was thrilled even to get this somewhat unfocused shot:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rope Rails

Many of the bridges for the cart paths that cross the many canals and ponds at TPC Sawgrass have these nautically inspired railings made of wood posts and heavy white rope.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Toy! :)

No blog post yesterday (belatedly updated today) because we were out all day shopping for a new SUV. After much research and test driving, we decided upon a 2008 Ford Escape. We got a good deal through our employer and just loved some of the features, especially the sunroof, which we have always wanted. Everyone else in the family had a sunroof in theirs', so we had to get one to fit in, right?

We have decided to name it "Dorie", after the character in the animated movie "Finding Nemo". Dorie can read "human" and found a sign at one point in the movie that said "ESCAPE" - she sounded it out and said, "Es-ka-pay... hey, that's spelled just like escape!" So we are now the proud owners of a Ford Es-ka-pay named Dorie. :) (She was my wife's favorite character from the movie.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

TPC @ Sawgrass: 17th Hole

One of the most famous holes in golf, the island green 17th at the TPC @ Sawgrass. A short hole, a very easy shot - especially for a professional - under normal circumstances, but when the green is surrounded by water it gets into your head and suddenly even the pros start hitting balls into the water.

Near the green is this lovely smaller island with a large tree and some decorative flowers.

Also on the back side of the smaller island is a platform to hold a TV camera. How do you get a TV camera or camera man onto a tiny island in the middle of a lake? By boat, of course!

During tournament rounds this whole area is full of spectators, nearly surrounding the area, and they cheer exuberantly for great shots, and "Awwwwww..." sympathetically when a bad shot goes into the water - most of them, anyway; some people actually enjoy seeing the pros hit bad shots into the water. ;-)