The Ingram Porsche Collection at OPD in Atlanta

April 13th, 2016

Books-are-signed-by-the-Ingrams-and-Vic-Elford

Flatsixes.com has a great post about Bob Ingram’s Porsche collection visiting the new Porsche Experience Center at One Porsche Drive (OPD) in Atlanta. That famous collection is based here in Durham, and I sometimes catch a glimpse of it when they load some of the Porsches on a transporter to take them to shows. And when you’re really lucky, you can sometimes see a super rare Porsche cruising down Main St.

Check out this interview with Bob and Jeannie Ingram from 2013.

Edit: speaking of Porsche, I saw this 997 GT3 RS (pre-facelift) on my way to work this morning:

View post on imgur.com

 

Nice day

March 28th, 2016

Birthday

Today was another day I did not get younger. But as the case may be, I got some cool toys today, too. My daughter got me a nice beer glass that is the shape of an upside-down beer bottle. I also got a pair of FPV goggles for my quadcopter. Plus a mini camera and a transmitter, so I can fly the little thing as a live-video FPV ship! So much fun! So all in all, a really nice day today!

Happy Leap Day – Oscar edition

February 29th, 2016

Happy Leap Day! And congratulations to Ennio Morricone for finally winning his first competitive Academy Award for his score for Quentin Tarantino’s film The Hateful Eight (2015).

ennio-morricone-oscar-win

Morricone’s almost 60-year career in music included over 500 film scores, 5 previous Oscar nominations: Days of Heaven (1979), The Mission (1986),  The Untouchables (1987), Bugsy (1991) and Malèna (2000), and the 2007 honorary Oscar. Now, at age 86, his fantastic score for  Quentin Tarantino’s newest masterpiece The Hateful Eight has finally brought Morricone the well-deserved recognition by the Academy.

Here are 2 key pieces from this movie: L’Ultima Diligenza di Red Rock

Regan’s Theme from The Hateful Eight

 

Perhaps most iconic, though, was his work for Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Here is the iconic “Ecstasy of Gold”

We live in the future

February 24th, 2016

Boston Dynamics is at it again. I am sure we’ll get used to this, but right now it’s a bit creepy.

At the end, after it gets up, I fully expected it to go after the guy.

Faszinierende Technik, aber emotional schon etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig. Ich dachte an Ende, nachdem sie aufsteht, dass die Maschine auf den Mann losgeht.

More winter weather

February 15th, 2016

The last few days have been pretty chilly around here. Sunday morning it was a brisk 15 Deg. F (-10 °C) and the waterfall at the little fishpond was almost frozen.

Kühl war es hier die letzten Tage – minus 10 °C am Sonntag morgen.

Pond Feb. 2016

Sunday night it snowed and Monday we had freezing rain.

Sonntag Nacht dann Schnee un Montag Eisregen.

Ice rain Feb 2016

For tomorrow, they are predicting mid 50s (14 °C) and upper 60s (19 °C) for the weekend. So long, Winter … right?

Und Morgen? 14 °C angesagt und dann am Wochenende fast 20 Grad. Tschüß, dann, Winter … oder?

Madison Feb 2016

The blizzard of 2016

January 31st, 2016


Jan 23 NC was hit by a “blizzard” and we had 2-3 inches (10 cm ) of icy snow. Here are some shots from my quadcopter the day after.

Evidence of a (new) Ninth Planet

January 20th, 2016

The solar system appears to have a new ninth planet. Today, two scientists announced evidence that a body nearly the size of Neptune—but as yet unseen—orbits the sun every 15,000 years. During the solar system’s infancy 4.5 billion years ago, they say, the giant planet was knocked out of the planet-forming region near the sun. Slowed down by gas, the planet settled into a distant elliptical orbit, where it still lurks today.

The claim is the strongest yet in the centuries-long search for a “Planet X” beyond Neptune. The quest has been plagued by far-fetched claims and even outright quackery. But the new evidence comes from a pair of respected planetary scientists, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, who prepared for the inevitable skepticism with detailed analyses of the orbits of other distant objects and months of computer simulations. “If you say, ‘We have evidence for Planet X,’ almost any astronomer will say, ‘This again? These guys are clearly crazy.’ I would, too,” Brown says. “Why is this different? This is different because this time we’re right.”

Read more …

 

2015

January 1st, 2016

Most of 2015 went really quite well, but the last few months of this year did pack a bit of a wallop for us.

Julia Graduation

The highlight of the year was in May, when Julia graduated from Middle College High School as valedictorian of her class. She got to speak at her graduation ceremony and she did a very fine job with her speech. In June, Jacob and Julia visited their uncle John in New Hampshire for 3 weeks. And in August, the day after Julia’s 18th birthday, Laura drove her to D.C. and helped her move into her dorm at American University.

Julia was very excited about studying at American and living in Washington, D.C. She received a nice scholarship from AU, that includes special programs and access to a nice dorm. She got along well with her room mate and Julia quickly settled into her new life as a student in the big city.  But in October, she caught a nasty virus and then she got quite sick. First we were tying to help her from the distance, but eventually Laura drove to D.C. for the weekend, to make sure she was getting good medical care.

Right before all this, I found out that my dad needed an operation, and so, on fairly short notice, I bought a plane ticket to travel to Germany for 10 days to be around for the operation. The day Laura came back from D.C., I left for Germany, thinking that all was under control. My dad’s operation went well, and he was recovering nicely the following weekend, when it became clear that Julia was still not doing much better. To make things even more interesting, I started running a fever and my resting heart rate was over 100. So I went to the ER in Müllheim, where I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Two days later, I dragged myself back home. Not an enjoyable journey.

After I got back home, Laura drove to D.C. again, to bring Julia home. It had become clear that she was not going to get better on her own, and that she had to take a medical leave of absence from her University. In the meantime, I had to undergo a variety of medical examinations to find out that I had Pericarditis, probably caused by a viral infection, and that there really was nothing to be done but ride it out. Which I did, and eventually I got better.

So, we’re all better (or recovering) and no permanent damage was done. But this fall took it out of us – especially Laura, who had to deal with two emergencies.

adjo3An unqualified positive development this year was Adjo, the cat Laura adopted from the animal shelter. Adjo has been a real joy to have around. She is making herself useful by hunting mice in the basement, and she has been quite affectionate. She seems to be enjoying life “on the farm” and is even no longer perturbed by the goats. What’s more, our older cat, Koklo, seems to enjoy Adjo’s company and she put up with her kitten shenanigans.

We wrapped up the year with a party with some friends and neighbors at our place, tapped a keg of Foothills Sexual Chocolate Stout, lit a nice bonfire (despite the wet wood) and lit a fun set of fireworks we had purchased in South Carolina, during out trip to Atlanta in July.

So, at the beginning of 2016, things are alright around here, and we’re really counting on 2016 to be a good year.

Holiday cheer up in the air

December 28th, 2015

My Christmas present this year was a little Syma X5C RC quadcopter with a camera from Amazon. This is a fun little quad, as long as it’s no too  windy outside. With a little practice I managed to get some pretty nice aerial shots of our little farm without crashing the quad into the trees.

Diese Weihnachten bekam ich einen kleinen, ferngesteuerten Syma X5C quadrokopter von Amazon. Das Ding macht ganz schoen Spass wenn es nicht zu windig ist. Wit etwas Uebung konnte ich sogar einige Luftaufnahmen unserer kleinen Pferdefarm machen – ohne den kleinen Schrauber in die Baume zu fliegen.

Catnip Sunday

November 22nd, 2015

adjo1

Meet Adjo, our newest and youngest family member. Adjo is a Lynx-point (Tabby-point) Siamese we got from the local animal shelter in August. She is about 10 months old at this point, so she is still very young and playful, which is (partly) why it took me so long to post a picture of her. She moves too quickly, and most photos end up blurry! After 3 months with us, she has really settled into he new home. She loves to play with my feet when I sit at my desk – unless she is playing with her catnip mouse. Koklo and Adjo often follow me out to the pasture and Adjo explores the hay shed while I feed the horses. Koklo was getting really depressed after Henry died, so we got her a new buddy. The two cats seem to like each others company – they eat from the same dish and they often hang out together. Only when Adjo plays her game “let’s-pounce-on-Koklo” does the older cat get annoyed with her and tell her to cut it out. Adjo is really a delightful cat.

adjo2

DEUTSCH: Das hier ist Adjo, unser neuestes und jüngstes Familienmitglied. Adjo ist eine Tabby-point Siamesenkatze, die wir im August vom Tierheim adoptiert haben Sie ist jetzt etwa 10 Monate alt – sehr jung also, und deshalb sehr verspielt. Das ist auch (teilweise, jedefalls) der Grund warum es Ich so lange brauchte bis ich diese Bilder posten konnte. Sie ist einfach zu aktiv und fast alle Bilder sind unscharf weil sie sich zuviel bewegt. Nach 3 Monaten hat sie sich jetzt sehr gut bei uns eingelebt. Sie spielt gerne mit meinen Füßen wenn ich am Schreibtisch sitze – ausser wenn sie mit iher catnip Maus (Katzenminze) spielt. Koklo und Adjo folgen mir oft zur Pferdeweide und wähend ich die Pferde füttere erkundet Adjo den Heuschuppen. Koklo war nach Henry’s Tod ganz deprimiert, weshalb wir ihr einen neuen Kameraden besogten. Die beiden Katzen kommen sehr gut miteinander aus. Sie fressen vom gleichen Napf und leisten sich oft Gesellschaft. Nur wenn Adjo ihr “Koklo-Überfall” Spiel spielt, dann wird es der älteren Katze oft zuviel und sie muss dann Adjo in die Schranken weisen. Adjo is wirklich ein liebes, unbeschwertes Tier.

adjo3

Chaos and Peace

November 16th, 2015

Our hearts go out to the victims of last week’s horrific attacks in Beirut and in Paris. We are told both attacks were perpetrated by extremists associated with Daesh (aka IS, ISIS or ISIL), apparently with the intent of creating chaos, and inciting hatred among Muslims in Lebanon, and hatred against Muslims in Europe.

Spreading chaos and fear is the stated goal of Daesh because they have no really good arguments that appeal to most people. They offer a bleak, intolerant vision of human existence that is rooted in iron-age Arab tribal culture, completely unmitigated by more modern perspectives, like heliocentrism or humanism. So with zero appeal even to most Muslims, their only option is to try to spread chaos and fear in order to divide societies and sow hatred, so that they can recruit a few more desperate souls, brainwash them, strap an explosives belt to them and send them out among us to spread more hatred, chaos and fear. I don’t know if this was the prophet’s vision for Islam, or not, and I don’t really care. I am confident that this is not the vision of Islam of the vast majority of today’s Muslims. We have to support our Muslim neighbors, co-workers, fellow travelers. We have to encourage them to push back against Daesh’s bleak vision of human existence.

Peace is the only way to defeat these extremists. We have to celebrate what they hate most about modern society: freedom of expression, tolerance and equality. We have to work for peace in the Middle East. Peace also means Europe and the U.S. have to work hard to provide safe haven to the refugees from the Middle East – especially Syria. It’s difficult, but it can be done. But it has to be a well-coordinated and well-funded effort at all levels of government.  If Europe and the US are ready to take on Daesh (ISIS), welcoming and integrating thousands of Muslim refugees is the first battle front. Not bombing Daesh’s camps. This is a war of ideas. Once we engage Daesh at that level, they do not stand a a chance. They are not strong. Daesh is weak and pathetic. That is why they dig so deep to scare us. For every video of a beheading by Daesh, let’s post 100 videos of French, Germans, Americans and English folks helping refugees. That is a war Daesh cannot win. They will continue to try and scare us, and they will use the openness of our society against us. But it won’t work. Go and reach out to Muslims in your community. Don’t isolate them, have some tea with them. Peace will only come when the call to war falls on deaf ears.

 

Autumn

October 31st, 2015

As the leaves are turning and the nights are getting chilly, this October had some real challenges for us. One of those challenges sent me on a short-notice trip back to Germany. While the German fall weather was mostly chilly and overcast, I had one day of nice weather. On  that day I was driving back from Stuttgart to Freiburg, and so I took the scenic route through the the Black Forest. Here are some fall impressions from the roadside in the Black Forest.

Hoellental-1920w

Posthalde im Höllental, Hochschwarzwald

blackforest1920w

Breitnau, Hochschwarzwald

Breitnau, Hochschwarzwald

The reason for my trip to Germany was not a fun one, though. I went because my dad had to have surgery and I wanted to be around for support. His surgery went very well and he recovered nicely. However, halfway into my trip, I started running a fever and felt chest pain breathing. So I went to the ER and was diagnosed with pneumonia. Great! They put me on antibiotics and fever suppressants and so I was more or less OK to fly home. I was glad that I had scheduled my connections with plenty layover time, because I had to move really slowly. The slightest exertion would have me panting like a steam engine, and breathing hurt, too. So the trip to the U.S. was exhausting, but I made it home OK.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s dance! Tanzen erlaubt!

October 6th, 2015

In Germany, on certain holidays, public dancing is banned. The State of Baden-Württemberg has one of the strictest anti-dancing laws: no dancing on Sunday from 3 -11 AM plus a long list of public, religious holidays. Now the State government has decided to loosen the rules and allow public dancing on Sundays, New Year’s day, Easter and Christmas (and a couple of others).

DEUTSCH: Das Tanzverbot variiert je nach Bundesland, aber Baden-Württemberg hatte traditionell die strengsten Regeln. Sonntags darf  von 3 -11 Uhr nicht getanzt werden. Hinzu kommen eine lange List religiöser Feiertage, and denen allen Bürgern und Bürgerinnen das Tanzen untersagt ist. Verstöße werden nach §13 Abs. 2 FTG als Ordnungswidrigkeit mit einer Geldbuße bis zu 3000 Mark (1533,88 EUR) geahndet.

Nun hat die Landesregierung eine Lockerung des Tanzverbotes beschlossen:

Bei der Reform hat sich die Landesregierung daran orientiert, ob Tanzveranstaltungen mit Aussage und innerem Gehalt des jeweiligen Feiertages vereinbar sind. So besteht am Karfreitag als einem der schutzwürdigsten Feiertage auch weiterhin ein ganztägiges Tanzverbot. Statt der ganztägigen Tanzverbote an Gründonnerstag und Karsamstag gilt das Tanzverbot künftig nur noch von Gründonnerstag 18 Uhr bis Karsamstag 20 Uhr. Außerdem gelten Tanzverbote dann nur noch an Allerheiligen, Buß- und Bettag, Volkstrauertag und Totengedenktag („Totensonntag“). Hier passt der Gesetzentwurf den Beginn der Tanzverbote jedoch an die örtlichen allgemeinen Sperrzeiten an.

Na dann … Let’s dance!

 

Mozambique declared mine-free

September 19th, 2015

After a 15-year civil war, Mozambique was one of the world’s most heavily mined countries. Twenty-two years after the war ended, the country was declared officially mine-free this month. Key to this success have been trained de-mining rats used by the Norwgian-supported organization APOPO. The rats sniff out the mines and their handlers destroy the mines. That way APOPO cleared 13,274 landmines and returned 11,124,446 square metres of land to safe use by the people of Mozambique. Check out this video:

Support APOPO’s next mission in Angola by adopting a rat.

Photos of the rats and their handlers on Flickr.

NPR story on de-mining rats in Cambodia.

AUF DEUTSCH: APOPO Minenräumung info

The summer of independence

August 29th, 2015

This summer was the summer of independence for Jacob and Julia. First, the two of them went on an adventure, then Julia moved out.

Let’s start at the end: last week was Julia’s 18th birthday. In the morning, Laura took her to the DMV to get her permanent driver’s license. In the afternoon we took her and her friends Galen and Jenna bowling. In the evening we lit a nice, big bonfire and ate some cake. After that, we all helped pack Julia’s stuff into the Jetta for her big journey the next day.

birthday fire

Julia”s Birthday Bonfire

The next day, Laura drove Julia to Washington, D.C. and got her settled in her dorm on the campus of American University. Julia is enrolled at AU’s School of International Service, in the International Development Program. She has now spent a week there, and settled in on campus, with bouncy castles and climbing walls on the quad, and night time tours of the D.C. monuments. She also took some time to explore Washington, and the Smithsonian in particular,  on her own. Classes start next week and I am sure it will be a challenging but fun first semester for her.

Moving to D.C. and starting college was Julia’s big Independence Day, but on July 4th – the U.S. Independence Day – Jacob and Julia went on a big, independent adventure to Vermont and New Hampshire. They took a plane to Burlington Vt. (they had to change planes in Philly) where their uncle John picked them up and took them to his place on Squam Lake in New Hampshire where they helped him for 3 weeks furnishing the house, so that is is ready for him to move in. John had had an accident recently and was on crutches, so they really had to help and work during their stay. But of course they also got to go hiking, swimming and canoeing. Overall it was a great experience for them and really helped them explore their independence and build their self-confidence.

 

Charon … and more Pluto pics

July 15th, 2015

 

nh-charon

This is the newest photo of Pluto’s little buddy Charon, shot by New Horizon and published today by NASA.

Remarkable new details of Pluto’s largest moon Charon are revealed in this image from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), taken late on July 13, 2015 from a distance of 289,000 miles  (466,000 kilometers).

A swath of cliffs and troughs stretches about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from left to right, suggesting widespread fracturing of Charon’s crust, likely a result of internal processes. At upper right, along the moon’s curving edge, is a canyon estimated to be 4 to 6 miles (7 to 9 kilometers) deep.

Mission scientists are surprised by the apparent lack of craters on Charon. South of the moon’s equator, at the bottom of this image, terrain is lit by the slanting rays of the sun, creating shadows that make it easier to distinguish topography. Even here, however, relatively few craters are visible, indicating a relatively young surface that has been reshaped by geologic activity.

NASA also published today the first detail shots of Pluto:

nh-plutosurface

New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s equator reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body.

The mountains likely formed no more than 100 million years ago — mere youngsters relative to the 4.56-billion-year age of the solar system — and may still be in the process of building, says Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team leader Jeff Moore of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.. That suggests the close-up region, which covers less than one percent of Pluto’s surface, may still be geologically active today.

These are really exciting discoveries!

Pluto

July 14th, 2015

Pluto photo by New Horizons

Amazing!!

Pluto nearly fills the frame in this image from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, taken on July 13, 2015 when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. This is the last and most detailed image sent to Earth before the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The color image has been combined with lower-resolution color information from the Ralph instrument that was acquired earlier on July 13. This view is dominated by the large, bright feature informally named the “heart,” which measures approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across. The heart borders darker equatorial terrains, and the mottled terrain to its east (right) are complex. However, even at this resolution, much of the heart’s interior appears remarkably featureless—possibly a sign of ongoing geologic processes.
Credits: NASA/APL/SwRI (source NASA)

Empty nest

July 5th, 2015

Small birds nest

Yesterday afternoon, we took the kids to the airport and sent them on a 3-week vacation in New Hampshire. They are staying with Laura’s brother and they are helping him to fix up the house on Squam Lake where he intends to retire soon. So for the first time in 17 yeas, Laura and I are alone at home. No kids. Just the two of us … well, and all the critters, of course.

So this is sort of our trial-membership in the empty-nest club. So far – so good. We only called the kids once today. Yesterday we ate out and watched the fireworks at the ball park. Today, I cooked biodiesel batch # 133 and Laura cleaned the bathroom and worked on Cleo’s hoofs. We had a nice grilled veggies and shrimp dinner at home. It’s nice, in a way, but we do think about the kids a lot.

Of course, they are the ones who are on an adventure and they get to see a new part of the country: Vermont and New Hampshire. They get to hang out on the lake and hike in the mountains and enjoy the nice, cooler weather up North. So I am also a bit jealous, but that’s OK. It’s a much bigger deal for them to strike out on their own. It’ will be a good brother-sister bonding experience before Julia goes to college this fall. And they do get to hang out with different part of the family up there and maybe make new friends. If all goes well, it’ll be a big confidence boost for them. And these three weeks will allow Laura and me to see what it’s like when the little ones have flown the nest.

Busy week at the 11foot8 bridge

June 28th, 2015

Monday morning, two trucks from Enterprise Rental crashed into the canopener. The first one at 7AM and the second one around 10:30 AM. In the second incident, the passenger was injured when his head hit the windshield, presumably because he did not wear his seat belt. So the fire department and EMS showed up and he had to be taken away by ambulance. Around lunch time I got calls from two TV reporters (TWCN and Channel 11) who wanted to interview me at the “expert ” for the 11foot8 bridge! Must have been a very slow newsday …

On Thursday, yet another truck hit the bridge – a moving truck from “Two Men and a Truck.” This one did not get stuck, though – he made it all the way, albeit a bit torn up.  Well, here are the videos. Enjoy!

Here is the Channel 11 news report:
http://abc11.com/traffic/trucks-hit-same-bridge-hours-apart/799167/

Henry the cat, R.I.P.

June 27th, 2015

henry3

Yesterday morning, we had to take Henry to the vet to have him euthanized. His health had seriously deteriorated over the last few days. So when he could no longer get up or drink, it was time. He was 15 years old. Earlier this year, his health had started to decline after he had had what we think was a stroke. But despite getting weaker and having trouble eating, he did spend quite a bit of time in the back yard, hunting mice and shrews or spend hours just sitting in the sun at the little pond, watching the goldfish. He was great cat, very affectionate and tenacious. We will miss him.