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Uncommonly Sensible

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

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Location: United States

Friday, August 29, 2008

Three points of contact...

This "Boss Hoss" trike has hidden characteristics:

From a "Boss Hoss" press release:

"Boss Hoss Cycles, manufacturer of America’s ultimate V8 powered cycles, has teamed up with V-8 Performance, Inc., creators of the Hossfly, to produce the Boss Hoss Advantage Trike, the first wheelchair accessible trike that is tailored specifically to the disabled rider. The new Advantage Trikes are scheduled for release in September 2008."

Check it out:

I think that's pretty awesome!

Boss Hoss trike (standard version)

Cheetah Trikes:

Precision Cycle Works - Tri-Cycle:

Renegade Trikes:

Rewaco Trikes:

So Cal Trikes:

Thoroughbred Motorsports:

Kind of sleek; almost an automobile.

TriRod: "ride it like a motorcycle, corner it like a race car. The best of two very intriguing worlds."

That's what they say, at any rate. To me, it looks kind of backwards, with the double wheels in front an' all.

In the event that I live long enough, I figure I'll consider something along the lines of one o' these machines.

First, of course, I have to live long enough.
(One never really knows)

I'm not being maudlin; merely pragmatic...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I see...

A few months ago, I was reading in Popular Science about an experimental procedure to get rid of cataracts.

It seems that this inventive fellow's father was suffering from cataracts, so he decided to see what he could do about it.

The article follows:

When Rajiv Bhushan’s father complained of blurry, browned vision and pain from bright lights, doctors told him that surgically replacing his eyes’ lenses was the only way to correct the cataracts that had left him legally blind. Instead, after learning that cataracts result from an age-related accumulation of proteins and lipids in a person’s lens, Bhushan, an electrical engineer, set to work concocting a chemical solution to break up the molecules clouding his father’s eyes.

Six years later, the eyedrops, called C-KAD, are entering the final stages of clinical testing. If all goes well, they will hit pharmacy shelves in two years, becoming the first non-surgical treatment. "Nobody, including myself, would have looked at this and thought it would work," says Randall Olson, chairman of the department of ophthalmology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and scientific adviser for Bhushan’s company, Chakshu Research. "But during trials, I’ve seen cataracts disappear." Even better, the drops might also relieve the blinding symptoms of glaucoma and macular degeneration.

If Bhushan’s guinea-pig dad is any indication, the drops could slash the three million cataract surgeries performed every year in the U.S. After three months of daily drops, his vision had improved to 20/80—good enough to read his e-mail for the first time in a year.

There's another article about it HERE.

Things may be "looking up" for people with cataracts...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

To the moon!

Boeing was selected to provide its recommendations on lunar habitats as part of a six-month study for NASA. NASA's Constellation Program is getting to work on the new spacecraft that will return humans to the moon and blaze a trail to Mars and beyond. This artist's rendering represents a concept of a lunar lander. lunar rover and astronauts on the moon's surface.
[NASA photo]

An official Boeing update:

Boeing will be sharing its recommendations with NASA on lunar habitation elements as part of a study contract awarded Monday.

NASA had issued a broad agency announcement on April 29 for studies in six different areas in support of lunar surface systems. Lunar surface systems may include habitats, pressurized and un-pressurized rovers, communication and navigation elements, electrical power control, and natural resource use.

Under the six-month study contract, Boeing will provide recommendations on a minimum functionality habitation element to sustain humans on the moon, which was one of the six areas.

NASA will distribute approximately $2 million for the study contracts to 12 different companies and the maximum amount for each study area is limited to $250,000.

Boeing's contract, performed by Advanced Systems, will be approximately $220,000.

"These studies provide new ideas to help the Constellation Program develop innovative, reliable requirements for the systems that will be used when outposts are established on the moon," said Jeff Hanley, the Constellation program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dallas Bienhoff, manager of In-space & Surface Systems, says he is excited about the study because it allows Boeing to help craft our nation's future space program. "NASA will also use our study to form the foundation of the infrastructure and support systems that are needed on the moon," said Bienhoff. "It is important to our overall business strategy to bring innovative ideas and expertise to NASA to help define the future requirements for lunar systems."

"Although small in dollar value, these study contracts allow Boeing's Advanced Systems division to bring the best and brightest ideas from across the company to NASA," said Steve Johnston, director of Advanced Space Exploration.

Boeing coupled its space shuttle and International Space Station experience with Advanced Systems' innovation for the habitat proposal.

"We have put together a team across the space station suppliers, entrepreneurs, and academia to provide an innovative approach to define a minimum functionality habitat. We are not just bringing the same old set of human space solutions, but are looking forward," said Bienhoff. NASA was impressed with Boeing's innovative approach, according to Bienhoff.

NASA will use the results to help establish the minimum set of requirements for the Altair lunar module and the starting point for defining an operable habitat that NASA will provide on the moon.

Bienhoff, who has been with the company since 1974, has supported all of the advanced space exploration architecture studies since 1982, working on programs such as the X-33, space station program, and the space shuttle main engines.

"I have traveled the universe in science fiction since I was a kid, but this time we get to do it for real. We need to be living on the moon and the planets. Who knows what we can do when we go back to the moon and maybe we can make it available for the masses instead of only a few," he said.

The other selected companies performing studies include Astrobotic Technology Inc., ATK Space Systems Group, Battelle Memorial Institute, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeybee Robotics, Honeywell International Inc., ILC Dover, Oceaneering Space Systems, University of Maryland and United Space Alliance.

The recommendations from the studies will help determine packaging options, identify basic functions for lunar habitats, provide innovative avionics architectures and sparing approaches, compare alternative software architectures, assess energy storage ideas and evaluate equipment and techniques for handling lunar soil that could help preparation for the lunar outpost site.

NASA's Constellation Program is building the nation's next generation fleet of spacecraft - including the Ares I and Ares V rockets, the Orion crew capsule, the Altair lunar lander and lunar surface systems - to send humans beyond low Earth orbit and back to the moon.

NASA plans to establish a human outpost on the moon through a successive series of lunar missions beginning in 2020.

Of course, $220K is as nothing to Boeing.

The big money will be in the actual R&D and building the things.

Now, on a less serious note:


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

An American icon

From Wikipedia:

"Earl V. Shaffer was an American outdoorsman and author known from 1948 as "The Crazy One" for attempting what became the first documented hiking trip over the entire length of the Appalachian Trail." (A.T.)

From the Earl Shaffer Foundation website:

"In late 1947, the urge to hike the Appalachian Trail started to grow within him when he learned from a magazine article that no one had hiked the entire Trail in one season. It was thought to be an impossible feat by the Appalachian Trail Conference leadership and hiking public. This urge to thru-hike had first surfaced during the late 30's while hiking with his close friend Walter Winemiller, a neighbor in York. He and Earl had planned on hiking the Trail after the war. Walter was killed during the landing at Iwo Jima, though, so Earl headed for Mt. Oglethorpe in Georgia alone in May of 1948 to begin his historic journey. He went on to become the first person to "thru-hike" the A.T. in one continuous journey that year. His hike was in many ways a memorial to his friend."

Here he is, in a 1948 photo, upon completion:

"After his 1948 hike, Earl's first book Walking With Spring was published privately and later, in 1982, published commercially by The Appalachian Trail Conference. Earl took to the trail again in 1965, hiking from Mt. Katahdin in Maine south to Springer Mountain, which had recently been designated as the Trail's Southern terminus, replacing Mt. Oglethorpe. He was the first to complete a thru-hike in both Georgia to Maine and Maine to Georgia directions."

"After half a century of on and off Trail work with the ATC and local A.T. clubs, Earl decided to try a third thru-hike in 1998 ... at the age of 79 years! He completed this "anniversary" hike just two weeks prior to his 80th birthday. While on the 1998 trip, Earl kept notes as an "Ode to the Appalachian Trail", which became the basic manuscript for his latest book, The Appalachian Trail: Calling Me Back To The Hills, now available at book stores and through online book sellers."

And here he is, back again, in 1998:

"Earl V. Shaffer succumbed to cancer on May 5, 2002, after a brief illness and hospitalization. He was 83 years old."

"On August 2, 2008, an enthusiastic group of volunteers hiked to the site on Peters Mountain (near Duncannon, PA) where Earl Shaffer had built a log Appalachian Trail shelter more than 50 years ago. This was the last shelter still standing of the 6 A.T. shelters that Earl built during his lifetime. Organized by the Appalachian Trail Museum Society, the group held a ceremony honoring Earl's many contributions to the A.T. community, then carefully dismantled the shelter and hauled it on foot 3 miles to the nearest forest service road. From there it was transported to temporary storage where it will await the opening of a new Appalachian Trail Museum. Thanks to all the volunteers whose hard work is making possible the preservation of this splendid symbol of Earl's legacy."

More Photos of This Event

The shelter, which was built by Earl circa 1960, is the last remaining intact shelter that Earl built himself and was one of the oldest and smallest remaining on the entire trail.

I was one of three who spent the last night there before it was dismantled.

Here are the other two:

I know people who hiked with Mr. Shaffer; the closest I got was attending Trail Days in '99 when he came to speak about his '98 "thru-hike".

Here I am, removing the floor of the shelter:

Mr. Shaffer, being a purist, disapproved of the addition of that floor.
(If you click on the link, scroll down to page 5)

I like to think that he was looking down and smiling; when the shelter is reassembled, it will be restored to the way he originally built it...

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