Monthly Archives: July 2005

Rails to Trails

Cool Tools had a great post on Rails to Trails the national program dedicated to turning retired rail lines into paved bike paths. Last weekend my friend Jesse and I went for a 1.5 hour ride on the Couer d’Alene Trail a 72 mile long Rails to Trails conversion that follows the Union Pacific Railroad‚Äôs right of way from the high mountains near Montana, down the Coeur d‚ÄôAlene River, along wetlands and the “chain lakes” and it was a lot of fun. I had no idea that there was such a nice and long paved bike path there so it was a pretty neat discovery for me.

Jesse and I started our ride at the little town of Harrison and followed the trail east along the Couer d’Alene River for roughly 7 miles or so before turning around. The ride was fairly scenic and definitely enjoyable, but a good portion of that particular stretch is bordered by cow pasture to the south which got a little tiresome, especially since there it was a hot day and there wasn’t much shade. There were a lot of little lakes along the way though that were much more pleasant to ride by and the shaded parts of the trail bordered by water were pure heaven. I would definitely like to go back and ride further on that trail in the future (and in both directions). I’ll bet the stretch that runs along the southern portion of Couer d’Alene Lake and continues on to Plummer, ID is pretty scenic and probably has some decent shade in spots too thanks to the many pine trees that cover the shores of Couer d’Alene lake.

Kayak Progress

It is painfully hot here in Spokane today. Especially for those of us who don’t have central air conditioning. Oddly enough I think my ongoing sea kayaking obsession was sparked in part last year during a similar heat late July heat wave. There’s just something incredibly appealing about going for a nice paddle on a nearby body of water instead of sitting in 90°+ house. Of course if your kayak isn’t finished yet, you have to spend the day working on it in the basement. Not exactly the best way to spend a perfect paddling day like today, but a decent alternative considering it’s still roughly 10° cooler down there.

The good news is that after today’s effort my kayak frame is finally ready to be skinned. I still need to pick up some nylon line and maybe a hole punch tomorrow, but I have everything else I need. I’m really looking forward to seeing it come together. I think the black hull with green deck is going to look pretty sweet.

Mars Ice Lake

BBC: Ice Lake Found on Red Planet

The highly visible ice is sitting in a crater which is 35 km (23 miles) wide, with a maximum depth of about two km (1.2 miles).

It looks like the ice lake is roughly one third the width of the crater. Given the estimate of 35 km (23 miles) for the crater diameter the ice lake is probably easily 7 miles (11.2 km) in diameter itself which is a pretty decent sized lake. I tried finding a Spokane area lake of comparable size using google maps and most of them seemed smaller. I think the northern most section of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho might be comparable though. It’s definitely a sizable deposit of ice though and could probably sustain some kind of base on Mars for a long, long time if one was located there.

Update: Even bigger pictures at the ESA(European Space Agency) site.

FlySketch 1.5

Gus Mueller just announced today that FlySketch 1.5 for MacOS X 10.3.9 or greater has been released. What is FlySketch you ask? According to the official Flysketch wiki:

FlySketch is a unique new application that allows you to draw on top of just about anything on your screen. Highlight words or paragraphs, draw shapes to help define what you want to say, and then drag and drop the results onto another application, or email it to a friend.

I played around with an earlier version and thought it was pretty cool, but based on the “What’s New in FlySketch 1.5 page”: there are a whole bunch of cool new features that I hadn’t known about. A few that jumped out at me:

  • Pallettes (instead of the annoying drawer widget that’s not fashionable these days)
  • Smooth Freehand Lines
  • New Improved Color Picker
  • Shadows On Individual Graphics
  • Upload to Flickr (requires 10.4 and this Automator action )

FlySketch strikes me as a tool that would be great for putting together presentations and software documentation, but I think it could also be a pretty hand tool for the power weblogger who wants to occasionally add some graphical goodness to their entries. As extensible an application as it is I would think that it wouldn’t be too hard to get it to work more closely with blogging software like WordPress or MovableType for direct to blog image uploads. I may have to investigate that further at some point.

If any of this sounds remotely intriguing you can download FlySketch here to take it for a spin. Current pricing is $19.95, but Gus has indicated that it’s going up to $24.95 in the near future.

Ronny Update

Rice said the outpouring of support for the popular Turiaf in Spokane has been “phenomenal. That’s probably been the most amazing thing to see. We knew everybody loved Ronny. Everybody’s just been so touched by it. The whole world stopped here in Spokane.

As just about everybody in Spokane knows, not to mention Gonzaga fans world-wide, Ronny Turiaf went in for open heart surgery yesterday. The great news is that it went better than expected and Ronny is expected to make a full recovery. The Seattle Times has a pretty good article covering the situation:

A six-hour, open-heart surgery on Gonzaga center Ronny Turiaf was pronounced a success yesterday, generating hope that the 22-year-old Los Angeles Lakers draftee might play basketball again.

It also sounds like Ronny will be coming back home to Spokane and Gonzaga for his initial rehab work. It’s nice to know that he’s going to be well taken care of, but I kind of hope they can sneak him back into town. I don’t know if the kind of overwhelming greeting I could see him getting at the airport would be the best thing for a heart that was repaired a week earlier.