More Junkmail from Bob!

Sunday July, 6, 2003
Important Stuff.

Maelströms and Gutenburg.

A couple of weeks ago I flew the PC12 to Lofoten, via Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Jersey, Paris, and Spitzbergen. Here's a picture of the southern tip of Moskenes Island.

From the plane, from the west:


...and from a rubber boat, from the south:


Edgar Allen Poe climbed this mountain with a local fisherman and wrote his story "A Descent into the Maelström." Our boat was in the area of the maelström that Edgar Allen Poe wrote about, but it was a pretty calm day.

The story in this link came from the Gutenburg Project. I edited it into .rtf format, and I claim full credit for all mistakes.

Michael Hart started the Gutenburg Project about 32 years ago, scanning and probably typing, initially, classic non-copyrighted books onto the computer to make them available to everybody, free.

Even before age of the Internet, I occasionally downloaded and read stories from the Gutenburg Project. They're still going strong. Now they've got about 6,500 books and stories available for download, most of them classic literature.

If you've been wondering what that book was about that you were supposed to read in 10th grade English, now's your chance to find out! Just go to...

...and download "War and Peace," or "Jane Eyre," or "Canterbury Tales." Oops. Chaucer was probably college material.

Here's a list of Gutenburg Project titles available for download:

Most of the Gutenburg Project files are in plain text form. This makes them compatible with almost everything. When they come into Word, Wordpad, or other word processors, they are generally displayed in a fixed-space font like Courier or Lucida. They may be easier to read if change the font to Arial or Times Roman.

Adobe has been trying unsuccessfully for a while to get people to market books using Acrobat Reader-based software for reading. I think it's been unsuccessful so far because a paper book is more convenient to read, and paper text is easier to read than 800x600 or 1024x768 resolution in most cases.

With handheld computers, cheap flash memory, and higher-resolution displays, I think some people will start moving to electronic books. On laptop and desktop computers, the resolution is getting to be good enough for me to read a book without a lot of extra eyestrain.

Someone at Microsoft apparently thinks there is a future in commercial eBooks. They've released the Microsoft Reader, used for reading books. Microsoft is also offering 3 free eBook downloads per month over the summer.

With a 1280x1024 flat screen and Microsoft's Cleartype font smoothing, the books look pretty good. They're still not as convenient as paper, but it's getting closer year by year.

Notice that I was very nice and didn't imply that Microsoft had intentions of edging Adobe out of the eBook market. But I will mention that the U.S. Justice Department is mad at Microsoft for cheating on their "landmark antitrust settlement" of November, 2001.


About 185 years ago, from about grade school on, I used to fly model rockets. I started out with small ones in grade school, and they eventually grew a little to this one, about 12 years ago:


That's a visitor from Japan posing with the rocket. The rocket engine uses ammonium perchlorate, the same fuel as the space shuttle's solid rocket boosters.


Here's Brian, about 9 or 10, with his rocket at the same launch:


I realized early on in my model rocket career that getting the rocket up into the air is only half the challenge. Recovery is important if you intend to launch a rocket more than once. Lots of my rockets have had parachute failures and ended up smashed into the ground. Luckily, none of those I launched in the back yard did any damage to the neighbors.

Japan has a new space shuttle prototype. It's a 12-foot model space shuttle. A few days ago they tested it by floating it up into the sky with a helium (or maybe hydrogen) balloon. The balloon carried the shuttle about 65,000 feet up, then dropped it.


The movie: phase2-mov01.mpg

The shuttle prototype made it up to mach .8, and performed well. Then it was time for recovery. Two of the three recovery parachutes didn't work properly, and the 12-foot shuttle ended up in a field with its left wing and nosecone damaged.


It's comforting to see that the experts have trouble with those darned parachutes too.

NASA flew an unmanned plane the other day too. With a wingspan of 247 feet, I consider the Helios too big to be a model plane. I'm sure you recall in the August 11, 2001 Junkmail I wrote about the Helios attempt at breaking the world altitude record for non-rocket airplanes. It broke the record at 96,863 feet.


On June 7, the Helios took off to test its new fuel cells at high altitude. These would allow it to stay in the air for a long time. Actually, Helios didn't take off by itself. There were some humans involved. But Helios started leaking coolant or compressed air or hydrogen or something, and the flight was aborted before they got very high.

On June 26, they tried it again. Helios took off (again under human control) and flew 29 minutes to 3000 feet. It was going about 21 mph when it broke apart in the air and crashed into the ocean. They're trying to figure out why.

Glide Across the Continent

The transcontinental glider race is finished! A group of 58 or so sailplanes and motorgliders few from southern California to Kill Devil Hill, NC, where the Wright brothers first flew. They arrived July 4.


There is a line around the United States called the Aircraft Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). If you cross than line into the U.S. in an airplane, you're supposed to have a flight plan on file. Otherwise, you are likely to be intercepted by F16's and escorted to an Air Force base where you will be subsequently threatened and fined a lot of money. An F16 intercept is very expensive.

Someone in Washington decided they needed an ADIZ around Washington. I initially thought this would be a good idea, because it might help keep the politicians from wandering out into the rest of the country. Then I learned they installed the ADIZ backward. You have to file a flight plan and get authorization to fly INTO the Washington area. Weird, huh?


Actually, I think it's really dumb to have an ADIZ in the interior of the U.S. There are lots of regulatory mechanisms in place that could be used accomplish security as effective as an ADIZ. But strangely enough, they didn't ask me before they installed the imaginary line-in-the-sand around Washington last February.

Last week a guy named Dale from Lutherville, MD was trying to fly a Cessna 172 into Martin State Airport, northeast of Baltimore. The airport is about 40 miles from Washington, as the missile flies.

Dale filed his flight plan, had extra fuel, but when he got to the ADIZ, the controllers told him they couldn't find his flight plan. He circled for about an hour outside the ADIZ, trying to get permission to land. Then he ran out of gas and landed in the trees. He and his two passengers had minor injuries.

Some people are blaming too much paranoia in Washington for causing this crash and several other dangerous situations. Admiral James, boss of the Transportation Security Administration, said, "Those whiners are obviously terrorist extremists and will be dealt with appropriately. And Dale was a terrorist too." Or something like that. I think I would have landed somewhere else if I'd been Dale.,0,4464453.story

Airline Fun and Games

On June 10, an American Airlines 757 was flying along at 35,000' over Kansas, minding its own business, on its way to Santa Ana, CA. A flight attendant brought a tray of refreshments into the cockpit. When she tried to close the terrorist-proof cockpit door, a blowout panel deployed and hit the captain in the head, "incapacitating" him. The first officer landed at Denver.

On June 23, a Delta 757 in Tampa pushed back for engine start. The engines started. Someone thought an engine was on fire, he started yelling "fire," people joined in the fun, and a passenger opened the emergency exit. A flight attendant try to stop the evacuation, and then tried to make people go in an orderly manner, unsuccessful in both attempts. A flight attendant did see a "very large glow of orange" from the number 2 engine. Nothing unusual showed up in the cockpit, except for an emergency door light.

Join the Crowd

Like mobs? Get into an email Flash Mob. Everybody in the group gets emailed, then they go somewhere and do something funny. Maybe they were bored.,1284,59518,00.html

WMD Site

When you search for "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in google, you get this site. Be sure and read the message. If you're like me, you've been conditioned to ignore screens like this.

It's funny!

Not Elbonia

Need some physical competition? Tired of triathlons? Enter the Estonian wife-carrying competition!

In an allegedly unrelated story, 60% of Estonians use cell phones, 30% use the internet, and 80% of the banking in Estonia is done online.

Summer Food Reference Guide

Pictures of Today!

A large iceberg in the midnight sun, Illulissat, Greenland:


The pictures of today are from the Baffin Island, Greenland, Iceland, and Norway. Here's the route we took:

KGCM Claremore, Oklahoma
CYQT Thunder Bay, Canada
CYFB Iqaluit, Canada
CYVM Qikiqtarjuaq, Canada
BIRK Reykjavik, Iceland
EGJJ Jersey, U.K.
LFPN Toussus Le Noble, France
ENBR Bergen, Norway
ENTC Tromso, Norway
ENSB Longyear, Svalbard, Norway
ENTC Tromso, Norway
ENLK Leknes, Norway
ENBO Bodo, Norway
LFPN Toussus Le Noble, France
EGPF Glasgow, Scotland
BIRK Reykjavik, Iceland
BGJN Illulissat, Greenland
CYFB Iqaluit, Canada
KMSP Minneapolis, Minnesota
KGCM Claremore, Oklahoma

Click on the map to see the pictures.
Baffin Island
Flowers from Iceland and Norway

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