Archive for August, 2009

Cayuga Lake and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

My parents spent the last week camping in a cabin at Cayuga Lake State Park. They’ve been tooling about on the lake and canal system with their boat and sound like they’ve had a grand time. Friday, we hopped in the car and met them at the park. Nate was pretty excited and talked about riding in Grampa’s Boat the whole trip over. We hopped in the boat despite the uncertain weather and decided to cruise north into the canal system. Just north of Cayuga Lake, the canals go through the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Via the canals and rivers associated with the Erie Canal, one can pretty much take a boat to anywhere on the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. Our trip was somewhat shorter.

Here’s an overview of the area we were in.

View Larger Map

Of course, I was taking pictures of the wildlife, which is much harder to do from a motor boat than I anticipated. Sure it’s easy to get snap shots, but it was harder getting them to be sharp enough to be worth looking at more than once. My success was only marginal, but hopefully they’ll at least give you an idea for the number of herons, osprey and kingfishers that we saw.

First through Cayuga-Seneca canal lock 1 to access the Refuge.

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I don’t think Nate likes being on the boat at all.

Heron, kingfisher, osprey… Oh my!

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More like this in the gallery

Another $1.33 phone call.

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

For the second time, I have received a $1.33 long distance phone bill from Sprint for a one minute phone call. Generally we use our mobile phones for long distance, but every now and then we forget… and this is what happens.

sprint bill

So with my long distance plan, I get charged a $6.95 monthly fee… which is completely canceled by my USAA discount… for a flat $0.07 per minute long distance rate. Pretty good for a land line… except that if I actually MAKE a call… I get slammed with $1.26 in fees. Now obviously this isn’t going to break my checking account, but it’s pretty ridiculous that my 7 cent call REALLY costs $1.33.

There is a $0.99 charge,[1] $0.10 worth of taxes (a 140% tax rate), $0.14 more of service charges and finally another $0.03 for the state.

So that’s an 1800% overhead on the 7 cent call.

  1. What the heck is a $.99 “Carrier Cost Recovery Charge” anyhow? []

Drag racing electric cars.

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Yes, I love our new world order.

Skip to 1:04 for the launch. I especially like the sound they make… like some cross between a light saber and an electric mixer. [1]

Check out more Tesla drag racing:

  1. Even better audio on this video. []
  2. Stock/Street Legal []
  3. For the record the little Honda in the other lane is just obnoxious. []

The secret to arbitrary PC help.

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

XKCD has given away the secret, check out today’s cartoon.

Green Lakes

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Saturday we spent the day at Green Lakes State Park with our friends down the street. There was much beaching, wading, walking, picnic eating and enjoying of one of the relatively rare nice summer days we’ve had this year.

Here’s a sample…


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Anybody know what the instrument on the left is? It looks like a bagpipe, but there doesn’t seem to be an input.


As always, more in the gallery.

Just because pictures…

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Nate was running around outside earlier last Sunday so I took an opportunity to snap some shots.



More in the gallery.

Star Wars Engineering

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

First read John Scalzi’s Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design at AMC.

And then, if you still need more, you can try The Inbox of Nardo Pace, The Empire’s Worst Engineer.

This last item could pretty much be a blog all on its own consisting of nothing but engineering gaffs from various movies.

My Bank Rocks.

Monday, August 17th, 2009

So USAA Federal Savings bank has allowed remote check cashing via PC and scanner for some time (USAA Deposit@Home). This is a truly awesome feature. Now they are setting a new standard for banking by allowing a mobile phone[1] to capture the check with the built in camera and send it in. They call it USAA Deposit@Mobile.

P.S.: They are claiming to extend this app to other mobile devices by the end of the year.
P.P.S.: A video is also available.

  1. Specifically the iPhone… which of course we do not have. []

Introducing MISS Baby2.

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

We found out today that our little expected one is MISS little expected one.

How many continents?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

I received an email from Delta Airlines today which said:

“Hello Mr. Schierer,
Want to be adventurous this summer? Delta now flies to all six continents, so you’re certain to find a destination that will satisfy the traveler in you.”

Um…. only six?

If you follow the link, apparently “Mexico and Latin America” [1] consists entirely of Brazil. Was I the only one that thought Latin America referred only to Central America? It’s on wikipedia. It must be true.

  1. Which is somewhat redundant in my thinking. []