Linux is 25.

Missed the anniversary by a few days, (august 20 or so), but Linux is 25!

We’ve used it since 1995. It forms the backbone of the internet – even Microsoft’s cloud computing and web services run on Linux.

My cure for writer’s block

Nothing fancy. Beer, lots of it. That and bum on seat – fingers on keyboard.

More seriously, it’s a crisis of self-doubt and/or self-pity. The ultimate blue funk. I’ll often try to edit part of my work. If my brain’s in edit mode rather than create mode that often assuages it. I’ll write an outline rather than details. I’ll sometimes put the project away and look at another one. Sometimes the block is telling me “this is rubbish” and it takes distance to see why.

If all else fails, I go for a walk or boat or play my guitar. The later often transfers the block to those around me, so it’s a last resort.

Time for a new pack #MondayBlogs

After nearly six years of hard use my trusty REI flash 50 pack has finally broken. It split a seam just before a fun backpacking trip at Pine Mountain State park on Saturday. I must say it held up fine, but it’s time for a new one. Since this is largely a photo blog, I’ll commemorate it with a few photos of its journeys. Nearly every back-country journey I’ve made since then has used it (Philmont excepted). The others used a Mariposa Plus which is also seeing its age. It also was an excellent carry on bag – I could fly for a two-week trip to England with it as carry on. Still met the size requirements unlike those massive rollerbags. Then it served as a daypack, lugging water and cameras up mountains from Wales to Devon and parts in between.

The featured image is from it’s inaugural voyage, a 24 mile weekend at Henry Coe state park. Only a few miles from San Jose, this state park is steep, stark and relatively unused. I was the backpacker one weekend in December.

Other gear, like this Sylon tarp haven’t fared so well. (It leaks in a hard rain).

Misty fog filled the valley’s that night

Supporting coastal range newts – these are not lizards, but actual amphibians, living in a surprisingly dry environment.

It’s also a place of great beauty.

I used this pack with the scouts in order to demonstrate that light-weight backpacking did not require expensive equipment. These photos are from another trip to Pine Mountain and show my trailstar (Mountain Laurel designs which is worth its weight in gold.)


As a Day pack it’s been to the top of Mount Snowdon
This is the “devil’s kitchen” We parked by that lake. The one in the distance.

The Peak district near Hayfield and Kinder Scout.


That is the trail.





Standing Indian (on the AT in North Carolina)



And many others. It will be missed. Bushwhacking like this was never an issue.

How FORTRAN changed my life.

Back in the day, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and I was a college student, I took FORTRAN. I was well on my way to applying to Medical School, great MCAT’s, good GPA at a serious university in a real subject, and it just seemed the way I would go.

Then in my final term, I took FORTRAN. WATFOR on punched cards, using a cpu-minute at a time on a big IBM mainframe. A multi-million dollar machine my laptop would run rings around today. I took to it like a duck takes to water. I was in love. Within the first day, I’d finished the book and was on my way. My backup plan, graduate school in science, became my plan. Probably for the best, as I’m not sure how inspiring a Medical Doctor I’d be.

I ended up using far more CPU time than I expect was budgeted. Tried some simple numerical integration techniques in my Statistical Mechanics class, probability distribution analysis for the lab I worked in, and even wrote routines that are still in use today. (Translated into C and incorporated in a molecular mechanics package.)

FORTRAN even influenced the science I ended up training in. The NMR people didn’t play with programming, the crystallographers did. So I started on my career developing and studying algorithms, by working out methods to squeeze big problems into little machines with appropriate approximation algorithms.

So while I’m not allowed to admit it today, at least not admit it and keep my credentials as a full fledged computer science profession, I still have a soft spot for the language.

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