Monthly Archives: May 2013

Dandy Lions

Dandelions are the scourge of Teton Valley. They make for a good photo-op but everyone here pretty much hates them. It takes a lot of hard work to get these little yellow quick seeding weeds off your yard (and then the clover takes over).

As you can see here my backyard is totally over-run. Hey, the farms out by the Big Holes are in my backyard so to speak! I have to assume the farmers don’t worry about them and just plow them back into the soil.

Here’s a downtown Driggs lot with Alpine Arnica and Dandelions.

SlideShow (Dandy Lions)

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The Road

This shot was a remnant from our recent trip to the Felt foothills. It’s a symbolic shot of sorts as I used my truck as a photo reference point many times during my travels around the country last summer.

Today was the last day of public school here in the valley, at least for my kids. Tomorrow is the official last day and Karen has a couple of kids riding. I’m transporting the Victor charter kids until June 11th and then the work seriously dries up.

Which means it’s time to hit The Road again! (Get it ;-)

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Route Map

Sweet map code has been flowing from my programming cortex, through rusty fingers on a lighted keyboard, and upward to the cloud. This latest iteration of a Google Maps direction service incorporates a little Text button at the top, next to the map options.

When you click on it the text directions disappear and the map is rendered again without them. Click again to bring them back. Also note the custom green route line.

The map incorporates a new mode, US Road Atlas, which emulates the classic Rand McNally map style. The front-end is a simple From / To interface, available here.

Here’s the map with directions text off.

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Felt Silo

I really like silos. They have history, character, and cool long tubes protruding from them. I’ve photographed the slightly newer production silos in Tetonia a couple of times (here & here) but I hadn’t paid much attention to this one along the highway through Felt. Yesterday I approached it from the backside while returning from the foothills and it grabbed my attention. It’s very old and not in production. (I don’t think… :-)

As you can see it has all of the defining elements that comprise a silo to me, and in photo three I managed a great shot straight up the front tube!



SlideShow (Felt Silo)

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Felt Hills

Just another beautiful Memorial Day in my neck of the woods. We headed over to the farming foothills of Felt this morning after breakfast at O’Rourke’s and I took a few photo’s. It still amazes me that country like this is less than twenty miles from home.







SlideShow (Felt Hills)

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Fuel Sources

My latest program is coming along great. It’s called Fuel By Route and it’s function is to plot a route between two U.S. addresses and show you the alternative fuel stations along that route. It’s a pretty sweet mashup!

I use Google Map Services to determine all the points along the route and then pass those points to the U.S. government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory API which returns all of the fuel stations along that route, which I then plot on the map. Whew!

This is the results from the query above. It shows just the stations accessible along the route between Seattle and San Diego. As you can see there’s some gaps that make the trip problematic in an electric car.

This is a separate project in which I show all of the electric charging stations in the U.S. You can see that the West Coast has a lot of locations, compared to the available stations along I-5.

The data pretty much speaks for itself. The environmental wackos keep telling us the era of the electric car has arrived, but don’t even think about a cross country road trip :-)

btw: Clicking on the program image will launch it and clicking the maps will open them up. Try the program and zoom the maps!

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Transit Office

I came here from the Seattle area eight years ago and I was contemplating retirement from a great career as a King County paratransit driver and supervisor. After hunkering down in the cabin during our first winter here, writing code, I was both broke and bored. Retirement? Out of the question…

I started driving part-time for the local bus service called the Cart Bus, which was bought out by my current employer TRPTA. With Cart we had a nice little office, a place to hang between rides, a computer to print manifests and a bathroom!

Our office eventually went away as dispatch moved to Idaho Falls and all we had left was a place to park the buses overnight. During the day Karen and I started staging our buses at Broulims (the local supermarket) or in the Mormon church parking lot.

Office space has been really tough lately. Broulims has been reworking their parking lot and now the church is totally destroying theirs…

Posted in The Bus | 5 Comments

Victor Prelude

Everyone had a skip in their step today as my last Community School run before Memorial Day weekend was underway. The kids hadn’t come out yet so I was wandering around taking pictures of clouds (yea, I know…)

This shot was the last one in the set before heading back to my bus.

I enjoy creating a photo where the depth of field is infinite, i.e. the near is in focus as well as the far. That white rimmed mountain is our ski resort, Grand Targhee.

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Big Stick

I spotted this big skinned down tree rolling through Victor yesterday. I’m assuming it was heading over Teton Pass, destined to be the mainstay of a new luxury home in Jackson. That’s a good sign, maybe construction is bouncing back.

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Potato Swag

Occasionally I get swag from the folks I do business with and it’s usually in response to holiday gifts I’ve given to their kids. My therapist buddy K-Dawg knows me better than most and she just gave me this fine metal container of vodka, with a belt loop.

Grand Teton Distillery is our new award winning vodka company here and their new container is pretty cool, but I’m trying to imagine where I’d be hauling this thing around hanging off my belt! I suppose the Targhee Fest up on the hill might be appropriate, maybe the Victor Parade might work, or perhaps the Huntsman event is the place.

The Art Boxes contest a couple of years ago provided me this backdrop today.

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Com Center

This is my morning view five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 0750 to 0815. I’m here in my TRPTA bus waiting for any Victor Community School kids needing a ride south. It’s like a box of chocolates, I never know what I’m going to get.

During the winter I watched the Targhee buses pick up and drop off employees and skiers here, but that’s over. I’ve got the place to myself now as the Ice Sculptures are a long ago faded memory and the grass is greening up for the Farmers Market.

The Driggs Community Center is the hub of the Valley and I have to say it’s a pretty fine view as I stand at the bottom of my vehicles passenger steps reading sad news about tornadoes in Oklahoma on my smartphone.

I hitched through Oklahoma back in the sixties and spent one warm summer night sleeping in a field there. When I woke up an old farmer gave me a ride in his old truck. I told him I was from California and he told me about his nephew in Visalia, CA. Turns out his nephew was my best friend from middle school back in that small little town. Just one of many coincidences as my life progresses.

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Receding Snowlines

As the summer approaches and work slows down I find myself with nice two hour mid-day breaks where I can jump in my truck and go exploring. Today I went to one of our many unfinished subdivisions to document the vanishing winter on both sides.

Here’s the Big Hole mountains to the west and the Teton foothills to the east.

SlideShow (Receding Snowlines)

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Map Apps

What a wild wet weekend we just had! It started raining Friday evening and didn’t let up until Sunday afternoon. We had just enough time to enjoy the hottub for a bit before it started raining again. It was a relatively warm rain (40’s) and as the clouds lifted off the mountains I was shocked to still see snow up there.

Anyway, it was a great weekend to hunker down and work on Google map code. I needed a simple and fast map app to display places for my charging station location program and other upcoming projects. I started with a simple HTML5 structure without jQuery or jQuery Mobile and without any external JavaScript or CSS files. It’s just a stand-alone app that uses pure Google Map Services and I’m very pleased to say it scales great on my smartphone, tablet and my giant monitor.

I then wrote another version that plots directions between two places, just like Google Maps does. (we both use the same Google Services :-) Now I need to write one more app that accepts user addresses, to bind them together.

Here’s the Map app and here’s the Directions app.

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Integrity

Sometimes a light reflection from the back of a tissue box can spark a profound thought: Your current expression of integrity is a reflection of the current age of your soul.

As my soul continues to age my integrity matures and solidifies and becomes the foundation of my evolving existence. I watch the world around me and I’m disgusted by the games people play to make money and achieve power at the expense of others.

Integrity is simple. Be yourself, be honest, speak your own truth, don’t take shit from anybody and fight back when you encounter evil!

So why don’t we just paint Integrity:

And to speak my own truth, this is the tissue box on top of my toilet.

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Browser Security

Over the last 45 years of my involvement in computer technology I’ve often glazed people’s eyes over when trying to explain an important concept, and I’ve been guilty of it here on my blog several times. Often I say to myself just shut-up Jim!, nobody want’s to learn stuff here, they want to see pictures and read witty content!

Well damn it, blogs can offer teachable moments also, so here goes:

Your window to the internet is your browser of choice. Personally, I have all the major PC browsers installed for testing purposes, but I use FireFox as my main development tool and personal browser.

My general purpose extensions include Adblock Plus (a no-brainer), Case Changer which lets me convert capped text into sentences when I post on Pinterest, Facepaste grabs entire Facebook photo albums and goo.gl lite creates shortened URLs.

Firefox becomes a brilliant code development platform with extensions like: FireFTP which transfers files to my server, FireQuery, a Firebug code debugger for jQuery and Web Developer, a great set of coding analysis tools.

Ok, I see your eyes glazing over so here’s the meat of this post: Firefox can protect you!

The Web Of Trust extension puts little round dots next to all your clickable links, which represent the personal experiences of a global community of millions of users. Green indicates a site has been rated safe, grey is questionable and red means don’t click!.

Ghostery is perhaps my favorite extension. Every time you visit a website you are being tracked by an amazing number of invisible web tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons. The reason I know this is because Ghostery traps all of them and shows them to me in a drop-down list in the upper right corner of the browser. I’ve seen 20+ trackers blocked at a time on websites you may use everyday and by blocked I mean the fact that you clicked on that site is never known to all those information mining companies.

The final thing you can do is to use OpenDNS. It’s a bit tricky changing your default Dynamic Name Server settings over to this service but very worth it. Several times it’s detected a vicious website that’s slipped through my bad-ass defenses, and alerted me.

The Web Of Trust, Ghostery and OpenDNS sites have excellent tutorials on how to set them up on your system. I strongly recommend them!

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