Bangalore City Tour, October 2017

On our first day in Bangalore in October 2017, we had a chance to go out into the city to see some of the sights. Our flight from Hong Kong was delayed so we did not start at the crack of dawn as planned, but rather at about 10am. The early start had been planned because Bangalore is notorious for its bad traffic. Believe me, it can be really bad. The calendar was on our side as this was Sunday on the tree day weekend of Mahatma Gandhi Day which is celebrated as an Indian national holiday every October 2nd. It being a holiday weekend, traffic was quite light.

We headed off from our hotel, the Park Plaza Bangalore, going to Bangalore Palace and picking up our guide on the way. The palace was built in the 1870s in a tudor style by Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar X, the king of Mysore. It is still being used by the current king of Mysore for his ceremonial duties.

You can get recorded audio tours that describe the features of the palace and its history. One note on the tour — you have to pay extra to be able to take pictures.

An outside view of Bangalore Palace.

There are hunting trophies throughout the palace including this elephant head at the top of the entrance stairs.

This elephant head overlooks the main entrance to the Bangalore Palace

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SpaceX Iridium Launch from West Los Angeles

On Friday night, December 22nd, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 with 10 Iridium satellites aboard from Vandenburg Air Force Base near Lompoc. We watched the initial lift off on YouTube, and my wife went outside to look for the rocket. I’ve seen rocket trails before but was not prepared for the sight we saw that night. It first appeared as a short, red flare-like glowing spot, moving quickly up into the sky. My photos of the early appearance did not turn out. As it got higher in the sky it became much more impressive.

Here is the rocket still boosting on the first stage. Changes in the atmosphere probably account for the changing density of the plume.

I took this short video which, as best as I can guess, covers stage separation and the initial boost back of first stage.

This next shot is after main engine cut off and stage separation. The bright spot on the left is the boosting second stage on its way to orbit. The bright spot just behind it is the first stage. And the plume is looking pretty interesting.

This next shot has the crescent Moon, the boosting second stage, and the descending first stage. If I remember correctly, they did a mock landing of the first stage with no drone ship.

The dissipating cloud looks vaguely like a dragon in the sky.

Keep out the Birds: Observatory Roof Motor Housing

I have had an ongoing problem with birds nesting in my observatory roof housing. It usually happens in the Spring and generally there are baby birds, so I let the babies grow up and then clean it out. This year I waited until a couple of weeks ago to clear it out. Then, when I am up by the observatory yesterday, I hear birds in the housing! That early move-in was the last straw. So now I believe there will be no more birds.

Here is a wide view of the Observatory. You can see the motor housing just under the upper roof.

In this view of the Observatory you can see the motor housing on the wall below the upper roof.

The problem is that there are two openings in the motor housing, allowing the birds to get it. I really don’t blame them as it is a very secure location for a nest. This picture shows the opening on the top which is the main entry point the blackbirds that were hanging out there yesterday.

The top of the observatory motor housing allows birds to enter and nest.

So, what is the solution? I carefully measured the dimensions of the opening. I made a paper model of a covering the the opening that would allow the chains to move freely but not have any opening large enough for a bird (I hope). I then cut that shape out of some 1/8 inch rubber sheeting.

Carefully cut rubber sheeting to cover the opening.

Here is the rubber sheeting over the opening. I believe the chain can move freely, although I have not tested it. It is easy enough to remove if needed.

The rubber sheeting covers the opening while still allowing the roof to operate.

I then took several pieces of wood and a large rubber strap to secure it in place. A little make-shift, but I believe it is effective.

The final fix in place with some wood to hold down the sheeting and a strap to keep it in place.

The rubber strap also holds a piece of wood over the hole on the bottom of the motor housing. All in all, it looks fairly neat from the outside.

The hole on the bottom of the housing is also now covered.

I hope I have solved the bird problem for the long-term. I expect the birds to keep trying, so we will see if my solution works. I also need to see how well it stands up to the Sun and the weather. It shouldn’t get a lot of direct Sun as it is on the north side of the building. But it will get rain and will get heat.

UPDATE: The damn birds managed to push the wood holding one side away so they could get in again. I added a second rubber strap and tightened the first.

I added another strap. I hope this keeps them out.

The pictures for this post were taken with my Pixel phone camera and processed with the new Adobe Lightroom CC. All but the wide picture were edited on my iPad. A first for mobile photo processing.

If I Published Postcards

I’ve been taking photos for years, starting in middle school and continuing to today. I spent years working on black and white photos in the darkroom and really loved the control one has to control how your photos look. The birth of digital photography has brought that joy back. With great tools like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, I can crop, adjust contrast, and tweak however I’d like. I can even “cheat” by removing unwanted items from a photo (although I do that sparingly: One must protect the integrity of the image unless one just calls it “art”).

At this point, I have about 9,500 pictures in my Lightroom catalog, going back about three years. I find there are some I really like. So I thought, which one of these would I want to publish as postcards or in a calendar? That is the subject of this post. To share some of my photographs that I particularly like. This does not include any of my astrophotos, I focused solely on terrestrial photography. Selecting the photos was difficult. My original culling left me with over 30 photos. The standard I learned in the 1980s was that a National Geographic photographer would take 20,000 photos to print 15, so quantity enables quality.

As it is, I am still imposing 10 of my photos on you. So I hope you like them. And forgive my vanity in posting them.

The first is a real favorite. Just a bird on a rock, but all the subtle grays and sky really are nice. Taken at McCarty’s Cove in Marquette, Michigan.

McCarty’s Cove, Marquette. Michigan

We had a road trip earlier this year and I took a ton of photos at the Grand Canyon. We were lucky to have storms to liven up the view.

Grand Canyon and storms from Pima Point

This ore dock in downtown Marquette, Michigan has been out of use since the mid 1970s. It used to deliver chunk ore as opposed to the processed pellets used today. There was a railroad bridge that extended over downtown to the dock in the front of the picture, so now this really looks like a relic.

The downtown Marqueete iron ore dock,, once used to load iron ore on ships

Living in Southern California, we “visit” the snow. What a change from when I lived with it. I like the subtle tones and shapes in this image.

Fog and snow near Idylwild, California

High clouds, dusk, fall, what else does one need?

Tree and rock in Lake Riverside

This is a temple in Telakadu, India. I like how the interior is indirectly illuminated by the bright sunlight.

The interior is quite pretty

Matheran, India is a hill station — a mountain top resort — near Mumbai. We saw an amazing sunset there.

The sunset from Sunset Point, Matheran, India

This is a special woods trail for me. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this picture is a classic early summer image of the woods.

The trail through the woods between Conway Lake and Lake Superior

Along the road from downtown Anacortes, Washington to the Washington State Ferry Terminal, there is a very active shipyard. Walking through it, it is clear that it has been active for a long time. This oil truck has no doubt been parked for an extended period.

A colorful old oil delivery truck.

Finally, a late afternoon picture from Hermit’s Rest at the Grand Canyon. I’ll admit I took 500 shots on the sunset tour alone. I was bracketing the exposures to get all the subtle tones and differences in brightness.

Sunset and storm over the Grand Canyon from Hermit’s Rest

Thanks for looking.

HP Windows 10 Computer Sits with Black Screen After Login for 10 Minutes

UPDATE: This fix from HP appears to work:

  1. Install the update
  2. restart
  3. re enable App Readiness
  4. Restart again

You should be good.

Certainly an exciting blog post title, particularly for a rare more than one per month post. I hope I can help someone out there with this information.

When I booted up my fairly new HP Envy laptop this morning, after entering my password, the screen went blank. I could hear the fan going, so it appeared to be doing something. If I touched the touchpad, it would show the cursor. I could run task manager by clicking ctrl-alt-delete. I could run Chrome or other programs from the File>Run new task option in Task manager. But the screen stayed black.

I tried everything. Safe mode, drive checks, you name it. Then I let it sit. After 8-10 minutes, the main window came up and everything worked fine. Until I restarted. When I restarted the computer, the error re-occurred. Time for the magic of the internet.

The key was the search phrase “Windows 10 black screen with cursor after login for 10 minutes.” That led me to a post in HP’s support forums which had the solution. You need to disable the App Readiness service.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Hit the Windows Key and type “system configuration” and select the system configuration tool

    Finding the system configuration tool from the Windows menu

  2. Select the Services tab in the System Configuration tool

    Select the Services tab from the System Configuration tool

  3. Un-check the box next to the “App Readiness” serivce

    Disable the App Readiness service by un-checking the box next to that item

  4. Reboot your computer

That fixed it for me. The system now completes the startup process normally. I hope this helps someone.

Road Trip

What’s the best thing about cars? Road trips. The long hours with the countryside sliding by. Feeling the immensity of the United States. Appreciating just how much agriculture there is. Being awed by huge tracts of empty land. Finding local diners. Seeing things up close. Travel as much as possible on the US and state highways, keeping off the interstate. That’s going in style.

For the first time in many years, we took a long family road trip this summer. While there was a lot of driving (2,300 miles of it), it was a great time. Our overall trip took us from Anacortes, across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, through the corner of Wyoming, down through Utah to Arizona before heading home to California. We saw the Columbia River, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, Fossil Butte in Wyoming, Dinosaur and Arches in Utah, and Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. And everything along the way. The details and some pictures from the trip are below. Where are you going to go on your road trip?

Day 1 Anacortes to Ontario, 536 miles

Leaving early on a Monday, we headed south from Anacortes, taking US 2 to avoid the interstate and visit scenic Leavenworth. Leavenworth is like Solvang but it’s German instead of Danish Swedish. (correction) We had nice sausages for lunch. Onward down to and along the Columbia river. Amazing basalt along the river. As we headed toward Pasco, there were range fires north of us. We finished the long driving day with a nice dinner in Ontario, Oregon. More or less the Oregon trail. No pictures as I just drove.

Day 2 Ontario to Kemmerer, 496 miles

Headed out toward Boise which thankfully doesn’t have a rush hour. Idaho’s 80 miles per hour speed limit took us to US 20, driving through magnificent empty and agricultural lands. We had our first national monument of the trip, Craters of the Moon. Created by a huge volcanic eruption about 2,000 years ago, you get to see what you would see in Hawaii but in Idaho. Here is a picture of some trails in the park.

Lava and paths at Craters of the Moon National Monument

We finished the day in Kemmerer, Wyoming, the home of JC Penney.

Day 3 Kemmerer to Moab, 406 miles

First stop today, Fossil Butte National Monument. I didn’t even now it existed until Mrs. C noted it on the map. Pretty area, few visitors, and a great visitors center. As you drive to the visitors’ center, they lay out history in distance, so you start from the formation of the Earth a mile out and end up at the visitors’ center at today. Along the way they lay out the geographic and biological history of the Earth. Excellent content. We plan to return here someday. This is Fossil Butte:

A panorama of Fossil Butte

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Lonavala and Tung Fort — March 2017, Part 2

This is the second post (the first is here) on our trip to Lonavla and documents our trek to Tung Fort. Tung Fort was built before 1600 by the Adil Shahi dynasty and was captured by Chatrapati Shivaji in the 1670s as he built the Maratha Kingdom. It is s small fort, holding no more than 200 soldiers and served mainly as a lookout. The nearby forts of Lohagad and Visapur could be signaled from Tung, with Tung having a great view of the countryside. (I took a trek to Lohagad Fort back in 2013.)

Tung Fort is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Lonavla, and is on the Western Ghats, where the higher Deccan Plateau gives way to the coastal plain also known as the Konkan. The erosion of the basalt leads to beautiful flat-topped peaks that overlook valleys below. My teaser image to keep you reading the whole post is a panorama looking east across the fort, with the relatively small area of the fort visible. The knob just to the right of the fort is Tikona Fort.

The top of Tung Fort looking from the west end to the east

Now to return to the trip narrative. We left off in the last post at Della Resort, watching the Sun set. The next day started clear and beautiful. I was greeted by Della’s statuary.

Good morning from the statuary at Della Resort

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Lonavala and Tung Fort — March 2017, Part 1

On my visit to India in March, 2017, I had the opportunity to stay overnight in Lonavla, a town just more than half way to Pune from Mumbai on the Mumbai / Pune Expressway. First a note on spelling and pronunciation. On many maps, including Google Maps, Lonavla shows as Lonavala. In other places, notably Wikipedia, looking for Lonavala immediately redirects you to the page for Lonavla. This had always confused me. This confusion was solved on this trip when I noticed that the Roman character rendering of the town name included both Lonavala and Lonavla. They are both correct and reflect a nuance in the pronunciation (at least as far as I can tell from the Wikipedia article). The town name is pronounced with a slight pause between the V and the second L, hence the longer phonetic spelling of Lonavala. I will use Lonavla in this post, the first of two posts on the weekend trip to Lonavla and Tung Fort.

Lonavla is on the edge of the Western Ghats, where the higher Deccan Plateau gives way to the coastal plain also known as the Konkan. In my post from a few months back on a trip to Bhandardara, there was a location called KonkanKada, which is an overlook to the Konkan. Lonavla is another such place. Being on the road between Mumbai and Pune, it is a quick drive for a pleasant weekend out of the city. There are many natural and historic sites to visit in the area.

Here is a two teaser image to get you to continue through the whole post, a sunset from Della Resort in Lonavla.

The Sun sets behind a fountain

We headed off from the TCS offices in Powai, in the Hiranandani Gardens development. The fancy tops of the buildings are an Hiranandani trademark style.

Our usual starting point, Powai

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Deception Pass Washington — April 2017

We visited beautiful Anacortes, Washington over Easter break and took a nice day trip to the north end of Whidbey Island, to Deception Pass State Park.

Here is a beautiful view of the Deception Pass Bridge from North Beach. Just to keep you interested.

Deception Pass Bridge from North Beach

Deception Pass was named by George Vancouver in 1792 when he learned that his officer Joseph Whidbey had missed seeing the strait from the east side of Whidbey Island during a sortie several months earlier. The hidden pass “deceived” the explorers, hence its name. The Wikipedia write-up is quite good.

Once enters Deception Pass State Park from the Whidbey Island or south side of the strait. There is a large parking lot next to Strawberry Lake near West Point on the west coast of the island at its north end. West Beach, along Puget Sound, is rocky. This view looks south. The mountains in the distance on the left are the Olympic Range.

West Beach looking south toward the rest of Whidbey Island

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Bhandardara October 2016, Part 2

This is the second of two posts describing a lovely weekend in the hill country of Maharashtra outside of Mumbai. The first post covered our trip from Mumbai to Bhandardara, a small resort village about 115 miles north-east of Mumbai. After a nice trip to Rhanda Falls and a good meal and conversation, we awoke the next day to a beautiful morning.

Bur first, the teaser photo of one of the places we visited later that day. This is looking southwest from Lake Ghatghar from the KokanKada1 overlook. There is a lake behind us that is used to create electricity as the water flows to the lake seen in the picture. Apparently, this water is pumped back up during electricity surpluses so it can be re-used to supply peak demand. In any case, the view is wonderful.

This is the view looking southwest from near Lake Ghatghar

But the day started at the Andavan Resort in Bhandardara, with the morning Sun shining in the window.

A pretty view out the window of my bungalow

We had a nice breakfast and a great view of Lake Arthur.

A view from the resort of Lake Arthur

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