Friday, April 29, 2011

MF breakfasts

After the Day 1 fajitas for dinner, we are hoping to spend the next day as a layover day, with lots of hiking, perhaps fishing (water level allowing), and lounging in a nearby hot-springs. My plan, all things going the way I would like, is to do very simple breakfasts that don't need much preparation or clean up. But since we are hopefully doing a layover day that first morning, I thought we'd do something a little more involved. So here are the proposed breakfasts:

Day 2 (first on-river breakfast): Fresh cinnamon rolls, french toast, sausages, orange juice.

Day 3: Scrambled eggs, bacon, english muffins, orange slices.

Day 4: Cold cereal, milk, cantaloupe.

Day 5: Oatmeal, bacon, honeydew melon.

Day 6: Breakfast burritos, english muffins.

Day 7: French toast, bacon, sausages, whatever we have left.

This is, as always, tentative and open to revisions if folk don't like what is there.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New tent!

Sparky and I have several tents, but for extended rafting trips, the tent we used to use was pretty crappy. It was something cheap we found on Sierra Trading Post, and it had two really good things going for it: 1) no sleeves to run the poles through (all clips), and 2) it was quite roomy (10'x10') and tall enough for either of us to comfortably stand up in. However, you get what you pay for, and after several uses, it developed a large hole in the seam where the floor connected to the wall.

So we've been looking for something to replace it that shared many of the good qualities of the old tent but was made of higher quality materials (and with a better warrantee). The tent we settled on is a little smaller (9'x9') but still has the attributes we like: the Eureka Tetragon 9.
Here is what it looks like:

(image from website)

Aside from the sleeveless design and adequate headroom, this tent has a more robust rainfly than the old tent, a two pole design which makes it much quicker to erect, a built in organizer to keep your small stuff off the floor (glasses, flashlight, book, etc.), plus it has a lifetime warrantee on materials and workmanship if a defect develops down the line.
It took me under 10 minutes to get it put up by myself without the instructions, from the time I opened the box because it is so simple with just the two poles and the Eureka "pin and clip" system of attaching the poles to the tent. They even color coded one of the attachments of the fly to the tent body so it is difficult to put the fly on wrong. Overall, I think this is going to be a really good tent for us.
My one reservation is that this tent (and the old crappy one too) uses fiberglass poles, which I have had splinter in high winds. I personally prefer aluminum poles (like in one of our other tents) and though I've heard of them kinking in high winds, I've never had it happen myself.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Middle Fork food

Yes, it has been a long time since the last post, but I have an excuse: I've been doing stuff. Still am, still will be, but I need the outlet of writing so I'm back. For now.

As it happens, Sparky actually drew a Middle Fork of the Salmon permit this year. WooHoo! Since planning that far ahead would be foolish, here I go. Mainly, we're going to plan meals early for taste testing and portioning, which actually kind of makes sense to do well ahead of time.

We are planning on spending seven days (six nights) on the river, and we'll focus mainly on dinners for now, though breakfasts and lunches will come soon.

We have three requirements for these meals: 1) Relatively healthy, 2) Easy to make, and 3) Easy to clean up afterwards. Some of them we've done before, some will be new for on the river (hence the testing).

Day 1:
Mexican theme, Fajitas. Most likely chicken, though I may push for the estrogen enhancing tofu option.
Ingredients: Onion, Bell Peppers (red and green), Mushrooms, Garlic, Mild Chili-Peppers (canned), and either chicken or tofu. Garnished with shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole and served on tortillas, this is a classic.

Day 2:
Trailer park theme, Sloppy Joes. Turkey sloppy joes specifically, this is another meal that, when served properly, requires no plates or bowls, thusly cutting down on dishes to be washed.
Ingredients: Turkey, bell peppers, onion, corn (canned), black olives (canned), garlic, Manwich sauce, Lipton Spanish rice (to thicken the mixture), served on a bun.

Day 3:
Asian theme, Mongolian Beef. A relatively spicy dish, we'll add vegetables to the main course to make it at least somewhat more healthy.
Ingredients: Thin cut lean beef strips, rolled in sugar, flash fried with broccoli and snow peas and served over rice. This is a difficult dish to prepare on a home stove because most stoves don't get hot enough. We'll test it on our Coleman propane stove and see if it will work in the wild.

Day 4:
Middle Eastern theme, Falafel. A vegetarian dish, this is another one pan meal prepared on the stovetop, keeping us from having to tote along a bunch of charcoal.
Ingredients: Falafel, onion, bell peppers, garlic, sauteed and served with tzatziki sauce on a Greek pita.

Day 5:
Italian theme, Lasagna. Very easy to build on the river, we'll probably do it with turkey bacon for flavor.
Ingredients: Lasagna noodles, Spaghetti sauce (because we're lazy), non-fat cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives, and turkey bacon. Served with garlic bread.

Day 6:
Uno mas Mexican theme, Enchiladas. Canned chicken enchiladas that is. This is another easy to make on the river dish, usually saved for the last day because almost all the ingredients don't need refrigeration.
Ingredients: Canned chicken, enchilada sauce, garlic, onion, bell peppers, corn (canned), black olives (canned), mild chilis (canned), black beans (canned), rice, tortillas, cheddar cheese (the only thing that needs refrigeration). Served with sour cream and guacamole (ok they need refrigeration too).

You may have noticed that there are a lot of the same ingredients these dishes, specifically, bell peppers, onions, corn, garlic, black olives, etc. This is primarily because these vegetables travel well with little to no refrigeration (especially the canned stuff). What changes are the spices, meats and condiments. I don't think anyone will find these meals anything but superficially repetitive, but they will certainly be healthy.

This is of course a first draft, things may change if some of the experimental food doesn't come out good, and of course we'll be adding desserts before all is said and done. Feel free to comment/give ideas for meals if you care to.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Green Wall fun

This is a video from 1993 of some rafters running the Green Wall on the Illinois River in Oregon: lots of carnage. Most water I've ever seen on the Illinois too. I like the second raft (2:50ish): another example of what happens when you hit big waves with no momentum.

Hat tip to Will Volpert who found it

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Good Rhetoric

Diane Savino speaking about gay marriage. Apparently not persuasive enough, since the bill was shot down.

Implicit social-darwinism

Rush Limbaugh apparently endorsing an institutionalized eugenics program:

The country will, according to Limbaugh, be a better place if those who can't afford health care are allowed to die.

Monday, September 14, 2009

US Open final

So I watched a lot of the men's final: Federer vs. Del Potro. Federer did not play his best match. He served poorly, towards the end he mis-hit a lot of balls, it just wasn't one his best efforts. Del Potro played very well, but the thing he did that I think won the match for him seems counter-intuitive.

Federer could have still won the match even playing what was for him, sub-par tennis, except Del Potro somewhere in the third set figured something out that seems to have escaped just about everyone else. What he did, was he slowed his first serve down.

Federer is known as one of the best returners in tennis right now. But this is because he doesn't really do a lot with his return: he typically (especially on first serves), just blocks the ball back in play down the middle of the court.

From his perspective, as long as he doesn't hit the return poorly, he can out-groundstroke just about anyone on the planet. When guys are bombing in 130 mph serves, this is usually enough: just seeing those balls coming back is frusterating enough, knowing that they then will have to trade groundstrokes with arguably the best player in tennis history to win the point is downright disheartening.

Rafael Nadal has long taken advantage of this "weakness" in Federer's game through happenstance: Nadal doesn't use his serve to hurt his oponent, he simply uses it to start the point with the expectation (well deserved) that he will be able to out-groundstroke just about anyone on the planet.

So Del Potro slowed down his first serve because Federer typically doesn't attack first serves. This raised his first serve percentage to well over 70 percent during the last two sets, and got him a lot of balls in the middle of the court so he could dictate the point.

By raising his first serve percentage, Del Potro gave Federer a lot fewer second serves to attack, and in my opinion, this is what won him the match.

Federer in my opinion needs to be just somewhat more aggressive on his return game, both first and second if he is going to beat Del Potro or Nadal consistently in the future.

Unless he just plays out of his mind like he did in the semi against Djokovich.

This is one of the best (and ballsiest) mid-match adjustments I've ever seen at the pro level (especially without a rain delay to permit coaching), and Del Potro richly deserves his win.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Penn and Teller

I'm pretty sure I'm not explicitly anti-catholic: if people want to believe that a cracker turns into human flesh in their mouth, I think they have that right. On the other hand, I'm generally against the oppression of any class of people, institutionalized pedophilia (or any pedophilia for that matter), and I pretty much think global over-population is the elephant in the room that most people seem to be ignoring. So here is 25 minutes of Penn and Teller and their take on the church.

Penn & Teller, Bullshit! The Vatican from Brewster on Vimeo.

Apparently there was some sort of copyright problem. Sorry, it was funny. So instead, here is a video by Louis CK that is most certainly anti-catholic:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Krantz at the Smithsonian

Just a few pictures of the Grover Krantz exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  I think he would have liked being located next to the interactive Forensics lab there.  As usual, click on the picture to get a bigger version.

I saw this exhibit first: I never did learn why this guy was yanking on the goat.  One of those things you really don't want to know the answer to. 

Monday, February 09, 2009

Green Truss

Nice video of rafting on the Green Truss section of the White Salmon: looks like a hoot.

Found through Will Volpert and the Molalla Kayaker.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feline Flush

More evidence that cats are inherently evil (not to mention environmentally unaware):

Via Greg Laden.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Soon it will be whitewater time

OK, not too soon, but within a third of a year, Sparky and I will be back on the water, and here are some teasers to whet the appetite. Enjoy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In which my verbosity is exposed

The Philster left a comment on the last post, and my reply has grown to the size that it deserves it's own post (for size, not for content).

The Philster writes:

Dude! I love how you call him out on a fundamental misunderstanding (mischaracterization?) of the scientific enterprise, then apologize for possibly rambling. Iron fist, velvet glove technique.
To which I inanely reply:

I really don't want to alienate him: it really is probably me who has it wrong, but I'm not sure where my reasoning has gone off the rails. This seems to me to be something that was pretty well thrashed out by David Hume a couple of centuries ago. Not the pedagogical part, but the understanding that science isn't going to produce knowledge that is "true" in an absolute sense of the word. Mind you, the logical positivists may have tried to revive the notion, but they're pretty much all dead anyways.

I've been feeling pretty good recently epistemologically speaking, but I'm discovering a disturbing post-modernist streak running around the Anthropology department, and now this. Can't we all just get along? Can't we just accept that while there may not be any absolute truth to be found in the world, the methods of and tools of science can and are working to get us vanishingly close?

I've heard arguments that science shouldn't be a privileged source of knowledge (from the post-modernists), but what other source of knowledge is nearly as reliable? Is self-correcting? Doesn't presume to be absolute? And probably most importantly, what other source of knowledge is so spectacularly successful in producing information that allows humans to manipulate and predict empirical reality? For good or ill, science is the schema that works.

Even the "false" (to use Slater's terminology) science of Newtonian mechanics works so well that using it alone we can build machines that have flown to Mars. Maybe it isn't strictly true, but those are some pretty good results for a theory that is "false." I'll take that kind of false any day over the "truth" derived from other methods. But that's just me.

I am however reminded of a couple of XKCD comics:

As I understand it, that's a graph of the microwave background radiation that permeates the universe. The solid line is the curve predicted by Einstein, and the dots that are hard to see because they are mostly obscured by the line are the observed values.

And this one that I'll just link to.

False Science: What is it good for?

So I was over in the Philosophy department at the University of Idaho trying to ask a couple of questions about the Philosophy of Science in regards to Post-modernism last Friday afternoon. Of course I should have realized that no one philosophizes on a Friday afternoon, so literally, no one was there.

In a display case, there was an article by Matthew Slater titled "How to Justify Teaching False Science." This intrigued me, so I found me a copy and read it that night. I thought it was very interesting, but seemed to be in my opinion, somewhat confused about the nature and scope of scientific inquiry. His argument was based on the deductive reasoning:

Newtonian mechanics is a false scientific theory.
We should not teach any false scientific theory; therefore,
We should not teach Newtonian mechanics.

So I wrote him a letter. Here it is (and sorry for the length):

Dr. Slater,
I happened to come across your article, “How to Justify Teaching False Science,” and was wondering if you could help me understand your position better. Your background in Philosophy is obviously much superior to mine, and I certainly have not kept up with the recent literature, but it seems to me that the thrust of your argument is in fact based on a false premise.

While I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion (if I understand it correctly) that what should be taught K-12 should be much more concept, historical and method laden in regards to science rather than theory laden, I disagree (I think) with your emphasis. I think (and I think you do too), that science education should be more concentrated on teaching students how to think scientifically rather than what to think.

However, I think science education should be much more focused on the epistemological limitations of the scientific endeavor, which in my opinion would make the question of the truth/falsity of any scientific theory moot. Therefore, I would dispute your premise that “Newtonian mechanics is a false scientific theory.”
A scientific theory cannot strictly be “false,” because epistemologically, no scientific theory can be strictly said to be “true.” While there are many scientific facts that for all intents and purposes can be said to be true, the theories that attempt to explain them are always conditional.

In one of your footnotes you state (with qualifications) that, “I assume here (for simplicity) that these best theories—general relativity and quantum mechanics—are true theories, when they cannot both be. Maybe neither is. It does not matter much for my point. They are both at least contenders for truth.” Earlier, (pg 528) you state, “Cosmologists do not ask about what the universe was like 10 billion years ago in hopes of discovering some practical use of that knowledge in our society.” It seems to me that both these statements illustrate a fundamental misunderstanding of what the limitations and goals of the scientific enterprise are.

In the first case, the misunderstanding is in the idea that any scientific theory will be true. Because any scientific theory is based on a logically inductive method, it will never establish absolute truth: all scientific (empirical) knowledge is therefore contingent, not necessary. All scientific theories are open to Popperian falsification (by definition) and in my opinion should be viewed as tentative explanations, rather than unconditionally accurate reflections of reality.

In the second case, I disagree that the motivation of cosmologists in this instance, and historical scientists in general, is simple curiosity. I think the scientific endeavor is fundamentally pragmatic and utilitarian: it seeks knowledge that is or at least potentially will be in some way practically useful. While these applications may not always be obvious, or even arguably useful, that is the ideal. In this example, cosmologists try to determine the nature of the universe 10 billion years ago not simply because they are curious, but because what they can learn about the universe then does have practical implications now. They look at the nature of the universe in the past because that can help them test how accurate their current theories are. If their current theories match up well with the historical data, this adds strong evidence to their views on the current nature of the universe as well as their theories’ predictive power about the future of the universe.

Speaking of Newtonian mechanics specifically, I think the most persuasive reason to teach it to secondary students has more to do with the math. In all cases in physics, the math that is used to support a theory is based progressively on the math used to buttress the theory that came before. So without the math developed by Newton to describe his mechanics, the theory of Relativity couldn’t be adequately operationalized. Likewise, the math that underlies Quantum mechanics was built on the math developed in Maxwell’s equations. The math that supports (according to some) String theory is built on the math of Quantum mechanics, etc.

This progression almost makes it necessary to learn the mathematics of Newtonian mechanics to have any clear understanding of Relativity in the same way that learning the basics of addition is necessary to learn multiplication.

In regards to the idea (Bauer’s) that scientific literacy does or does not aid in helping people answer policy questions, I think the most reliable information available should be used to inform one’s opinions. But again, my understanding is that science provides only conditional descriptions of what “is.” At least ideally, this information is itself value neutral (perhaps a na├»ve view) and as such cannot be “good or evil.” To ask it (science) to provide “oughts” is of course to commit the naturalistic fallacy.

In conclusion, in my view, science renders information that at best models reality in a Platonic sense. We can’t truly know the nature of reality, but science can and does deliver knowledge that is at least conditionally reliable. In this sense, Newtonian mechanics is fantastically reliable within certain parameters. Reliable enough to send a person to the moon and bring them back (alive). But this knowledge is, as I’ve noted, always tentative and conditional.

With every “iteration” of science, the models reflect better and better what reality is like, but as with any ideal, a perfect reflection will never be achieved. In this sense, no theory is “true.” But with every iteration, the reflection comes closer to the ideal. This view is both pedagogically utilitarian and optimistic in that it does accurately reflect the epistemic realities of science and also illustrates that there will always be scientific work that needs to be done since the models can always be made better.

Thank you for your time, and sorry if I rambled,
James Knobbs
Don't know if he'll respond, but apparently, I am way out of the loop as far as both Epistemology and the Philosophy of Science goes.