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Month: July 2013

Don’t bring liquid nitrogen to a pool party

Don’t bring liquid nitrogen to a pool party

Jägermeister party organizers in Mexico decided to dump some liquid nitrogen into a pool to emit a bunch of cool smoke. No problem right? Cool steam effects right?
Wrong – 8 people were taken ill and one left in a coma after the nitrogen displaced the air right above the water and knocked them all unconscious.

That’s why knowing chemistry is important. It could save your life at your next bro-fest.

Freefall is where you learn to fly…

Freefall is where you learn to fly…

“I was raised as a type-A person that won love and approval from my family by my accomplishments and achievements at school and professionally. It’s how I thought the whole world worked.

But when my autistic son was born, I had someone that wanted to know if I could love them for simply who they are, not what they could accomplish or do (or not do). This was the first glimpse I had into what unconditional love must be like.

You have to set aside all those expectations and learn to live and love with whatever you are dealt. You first feel like your life has gone into freefall. But you must remind yourself again and again that freefall is where a bird first learns to fly.”

Innocence lost…

Innocence lost…

“It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that all of them cannot be punished…. But when innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, ‘It is immaterial to me whether I behave well or ill, for virtue itself is no security.’ And if such a sentiment as this were to take hold in the mind of the subject that would be the end of all security whatsoever…”

-John Adams

Shooting cannons and sailing tall ships in the Columbia

Shooting cannons and sailing tall ships in the Columbia

I went on a battle sail event near Astoria in the mouth of the Columbia last weekend and I got to sail tall ships we shot cannons at each other.  It reminded me of the last scene in the movie Goonies in which One-Eye’d Willy’s ship sailed off into the sunset off the Oregon coast.  It was an amazing experience and I was very surprised by the maneuverability and agility of these ships.  It was great to see the crew in action too.

These events were put on by Gray’s Harbor Historical Society:   They maintain the ships and do lots of educational programs.  They travel up and down the West Coast doing sailing, demonstration, and battle events just like this.  For the cost of a ticket, you too can ride along.  There are two ships full of 20-somethings that are all living aboard and spend their days sailing, doing tours, and maintaining the ships.  What an interesting lot to say the least.

The entire adventure took 3 hours.  We all met at the dock and sailed out into mouth of the Columbia from Ilwaco, WA.  While at Ilwaco, I decided to run out and stop at a humorously named location:

This name came (purportedly) from the Lewis and Clark expedition.  They came to this cape regularly to look for ships to take either them, or at least their logs, home.  Unfortunately, no ships appeared in the many long, rainy, wintery months they spent on the coast.

But back to sailing.  We met the ships on the dock.  After lining up and picking which ship we wished to ride on, we motored out of the harbor.  I chose the Lady Washington – which was a much more period accurate ship.


After heading out to the opening of the Columbia we unfurled the sails and started shooting cannons.


Here’s some of the actual battle sail footage:

After about 2 hours of sailing around shooting cannons at each other, we decided to head home.  On the way back, as the sun set, we started singing sea shanties:


Overall, it was a fantastic time.  I completely recommend it and it was totally worth the price of admission.

Probably one of the most cool moments had to be when we were in the middle of the battle sail.  A large freighter was making its way out of the Columbia River.  We’re talking a huge container ship freighter.  What in the world must they have thought passing by 1700’s era tiny wooden sailing ships shooting cannons at each other…

DOSBox, bad \, /, ” keys and you

DOSBox, bad \, /, ” keys and you

I was fooling around with some old GWBasic programs and needed to use DOSBox the other day.  When using DOSBox, however, I was getting bad characters for \,/,” and various other keys.  This makes using DOSBox almost impossible since you cannot change directories or issue load/save commands since they need the filename in quotes.   Yet the solution to this problem isn’t what you think.  DOSBox provides an internal key re-mapper, but it wasn’t working right and I still couldn’t get the keys I needed mapped.  Often they would just enter blank or incorrect characters.

It turns out the real culprit is a badly selected default Windows keyboard driver. Open your Windows device manager and look for the keyboards.  Often you’ll see one listed as:

“MCIR 109 Keyboard”

Change this driver to “HID Compliant device”
Then restart DOSBox and it should all be working like a champ.

Here’s the thread with more detailed info

Finding lost relatives

Finding lost relatives

Our family has a interesting family tree.  On our mother’s side we have a wonderful relative that has been collecting information, letters, visiting home countries, and constructing detailed and far-reaching family trees.  Yet on our father’s side we haven’t done as much of that.

At a recently family gathering, a few relatives on that side were reminiscing.  In the course of the discussion, it was revealed that one of the branches lead to family that lived in Portland, OR.  An aunt remembered they were buried in a cemetery ‘overlooking the Willamette’.

Well, there are a lot of cemeteries that could fit that description, but we felt odds were good we could find them with some internet searches.  Turns out, however, they were not listed anywhere I looked.  Instead, a cousin managed to find them at the Wilhelm Memorial Mausoleum – made famous partly by Chuck Palanuck’s book “Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon”.  Unfortunately, when I had looked them up via their online search page – they weren’t listed.  A testament to the fact that not all information is on the internet.

I have had some time off the last few days, so I called them up and went over just before closing time.   The mausoleum buildings were very nice and somewhat extensive on the ridge of the hill in the Sellwood district of Portland.  Yet, like an iceberg, this was only the tiny visible tip of a much, MUCH larger structure.  The greeter gave me a map and told me where I could locate them.  I was buzzed into the crypts and went to find them.

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First off, the place is MASSIVE.  There are at least 5 floors that extend through the hillside.  Room after room of crypts.

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I finally arrived at The Hall of Apostles – where I was told they were buried.

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And here they are:

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One of my aunt’s remembered that Claude had said he would be buried in a spot where they could overlook the river – and sure enough – this was the view.