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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Location: United States

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Take a hike!!!

I'm heading off for a vacation in New England, staying for a week in Maine taking day hikes on the Appalachian Trail, culminating in a trip to a hiker get-together the following weekend in Hanover, NH:

The Autumn colors should be at their peak when I'm up there, too.

One of the places on the A.T. that I'm looking forward to visiting is the Mahoosuc Notch, the so-called "hardest mile" on the entire trail. It is a boulder-filled gorge, requiring caving and rock climbing skills to negotiate, but those I've got:

Y'all play nice while I'm gone...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Own a piece of the rock!

("Camo" in Kipuka Kanohina - photo by D. Coons)

The time is approaching again, but never quickly enough, for my annual sojourn to the Big Island of Hawaii. One of the best things (to me) about going there is the caving.

Caving, to be technical, is what we who engage in the activity call spelunking...but in the close-knit caving community the technical term is used with disdain, as in:
"Cavers rescue spelunkers".

I have acquired a property in a desert region on the Big Island, with two entrances into the second largest lava tube type cave in the world...the Kipuka Kanohina System.

The largest lava tube type system is also on the Big Island, and is called Kazumura Cave; I've been there, too.

Due to my involvement in the exploration, survey and preservation of the Hawaiian cave systems, I was elected to the Board of The Cave Conservancy of Hawaii:

"The Cave Conservancy of Hawaii is dedicated to the conservation, study, and management of caves in Hawai`i. The CCH combines the resources of cave explorers, educators, scientists, landowners, and conservation experts to save this unique - and important - environment."
Cave Conservancy of Hawaii

My friend and fellow CCH Board member Ric Elhard is a full time resident of the Big Island, and the owner/operator of a commercialized part of the system. As his website proclaims:
"Come, take a walk into the largest mountain on earth."
(Mauna Loa, in which the Kipuka Kanohina System is located, is the largest mountain on earth by mass)
Kula Kai Caverns website

I'm also on the Board of my local cave club:

"The Philadelphia Grotto is a caving club that was chartered in 1947 as a chapter of the National Speleological Society. We are dedicated to cave conservation, exploration, education, and research."
The Philadelphia Grotto

Additionally, I'm a member of the National Speleological Society:

"With over 12,000 members and 200 grottos, the National Speleological Society does more than any other organization to study, explore, and conserve cave and karst resources; protect access to caves; encourage responsible management of caves and their unique environments; and promote responsible caving."
National Speleological Society

For those who may be interested in this subject, the links posted above are an excellent place to start your exploration, be it virtual or real...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

And now, for something COMPLETELY different...

...the V-22 "Osprey".

Read all about it:
Official Military V-22 Website
Official Bell V-22 Website
Official Boeing V-22 Website

The V-22 has been developed to perform United States Marine Corps (USMC), United States Navy (USN), and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) combat missions. The V-22 design, incorporating advanced technology takes advantage of proven technology in composite materials, digital fly-by-wire flight controls, and advanced survivability and crashworthiness. A tiltrotor combines the speed, range and fuel efficiency normally associated with turboprop aircraft with the vertical take-off/landing and hover capabilities of helicopters. The tiltrotor represents a major technological breakthrough in aviation that meets long standing military needs.

Late-breaking news: V-22 Gets OK For Production

This has been literally decades in the making. There have been substantial technical difficulties, and various funding problems, keeping the program from getting "off the ground" as it were.
(Yes, pun intended...)

I've been installing and rigging the flight controls on the V-22 for years now, having been involved with the project since the 80's. It will be a valuable asset in many different applications, most notably Search & Rescue operations. It would've been nice if they'd been available for the aftermath of Katrina, but that's water over the dam (or levee) now, I suppose.

I'd highly recommend checking out the links I posted above...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Grease is the WORD...

What with gas prices increasing on a nearly daily basis, perhaps the time has come to explore wider use of "biodiesel".

Not too terribly long ago (say, last month) biodiesel was a more expensive fuel than regular unleaded gasoline. No longer. Of course, it requires a diesel engine to utilize, but lots of people have those already. The quickest, dirtiest method of using it necessitates pre-heating of some sort, because raw used cooking grease coagulates when it's cool...but if the glycerides are filtered out, it can even work in cold engines from startup. Not to mention the benefits of less pollution from emissions and the handy disposal of a waste material.

Here are a number of links to websites related to the subject/substance:

The National Biodiesel Board
Do It Yourself Biodiesel
Renewable Energy Access
Biodiesel Magazine
Pacific Biodiesel, Inc.™
Greasel (Thanks, Rich!)

I think my next truck will have a diesel engine...perhaps a new generation of Harleys will have the option, too?

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