Nashville August Super Moon
Prints and Wallpaper


Maybe you’ve seen these photos that I posted on Facebook of the August Super Moon rising over Nashville: supermoon_600The response has been very gratifying.  Several people have said these are the nicest photos they’ve ever seen of Nashville.  That might be debatable (he says, feigning modesty), but in any case, several people have purchased prints.

In addition to the prints, I’m throwing in a digital file that looks really cool as the “wallpaper” on your smart phone or tablet:

MoonrisePhone_400Just follow THIS LINK for details and ordering

The Great Nashville Sunset – Weds Nov 18

You would have had to be dead or blind to miss the sunset that blanketed Nashville the evening of Wednesday, September 18.  It has been raining most of the day, and the storm cleared just as the sun was going down, and the resulting visuals were pretty impressive in whatever direction you looked.

The first thing I saw as I came out of “my Starbucks” in Belle Meade was the very unusual cloud formations to the east.  So I ran to the car, got my camera and a wide angle lens and started shooting.  Being in a parking lot, I didn’t have a whole lot to work with in the way of foregrounds, so I pretty much just shot the sky.

So here’s what it looked like to the east:
..and this is what it looked like to the west, looking straight into the setting sun:
As the evening wore on, the social media lit up with photos from all over the city.  The “event” was so widely covered that the next day the Tennsseean ran a post on their website with some of the photos they’d found.
– – – – – – –
Last night’s epic sunset in Nashville, TN
@NashvilleTN #nashville #nashvilleguru #musiccitysunsets #igersnashville #nashvilleTN #nashvilleinstagram #nashvillegram #nashvegas #tennesseeinstagram #musiccityliving #musiccityusa #musiccity #nashvillescene #nashvillesky #nashvillelife
#sunset #photooftheday #thebest_capture #ig_masterpiece #nuriss_tag #awe_inspiringshots #editoftheday #capture_today #waycoolshots #featuremeinstagood #igcapturesclub #ig_masterpiece #ig_great_pics©2015 aka @driver49

Autumn at the Faerie Pools

No, I’m not in Scotland.  Didn’t get across the pond this year.  <*sigh*>
We have a digital photo frame on the counter in our kitchen, and it plays a continuous rotation of photos from our trip to Scotland in October, 2012.
I saw this one a couple of days ago and it reminded me that fall is mostly faded now.  Here’s a glimpse of how the season looked back in that October, at an area on the Isle of Skye called the Faerie Pools:

The Faerie Pools – Isle Of Skye, Scottish Highlands
As fall fades… A look back at October, 2012 @IsleOSkye @visitscotland
#Scotland #photooftheday #thebest_capture #ig_masterpiece #nuriss_tag #awe_inspiringshots #pro_ig #global_highlights #igworldclub #ig_select #editoftheday #capture_today #waycoolshots #featuremeinstagood #igcapturesclub #ig_masterpiece #ig_great_pics #tweegram #picoftheday #instadaily #jj #beautiful #bestoftheday #followforfollow #f4f #like4like #likeforlike
©2015 aka @driver49

My Obligatory Autumn Photo…

…with a barn and a tree.

It was also along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

So I was just driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway last week, when I saw this little barn… and this big, red, tree…

@BlueRidgeNPS @BRParkwayFDN @Interior @usinterior
#blueridgeparkway #friendsbrp #blueridge #photooftheday #thebest_capture #ig_masterpiece #nuriss_tag #architectur #travel #awe_inspiringshots #pro_ig #global_highlights #igworldclub #ig_select #editoftheday #capture_today #waycoolshots #featuremeinstagood @instagood #igcapturesclub #ig_masterpiece #ig_great_pics #sunrise #virginia
©2015 aka @driver49

Sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I went up to Virginia again last week, this time to visit a guy who is building a nuclear fusion reactor.  More on him later.

I stayed in Floyd, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The day I headed home, I got up before dawn and headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and saw this sunrise from the first overlook:

Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, VA – October 21, 2015

@BlueRidgeNPS @BRParkwayFDN @Interior @usinterior
#blueridgeparkway #friendsbrp #blueridge #photooftheday #thebest_capture #ig_masterpiece #nuriss_tag #architectur #travel #awe_inspiringshots #pro_ig #global_highlights #igworldclub #ig_select #editoftheday #capture_today #waycoolshots #featuremeinstagood @instagood #igcapturesclub #ig_masterpiece #ig_great_pics #sunrise #virginia
©2015 aka @driver49

This is Anna

Anna is 15 years old. She is a student @ensworthschool

She is sitting opposite me at the community table @Starbucks in Belle Meade (Nashville). Anna has a MacBook Air and an iPhone – the very same gear I am sitting here with.When I was 15 years old, telephones plugged into the wall and you dialed them. Television was black and white and there were only 3 channels. Radio was mostly AM and just a little FM. Computers were what NASA went to the moon with. That was about the extent of our electronic media environment.
I wonder what 15 year olds will have at their disposal when Anna is 65… For the record, Anna gave me permission to take her picture and post this. I took this picture my iPhone. And she took a picture of the Facebook post on my iPad. With her iPhone.
©2015 aka @driver49

The Future’s So Bright…

… we really are going to need shades…

Imagine being dropped into the middle of an episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” Then imagine taking LSD. Then imagine that the episode runs for like 12 or 14 hours…

Now you’ve got some idea what this past Saturday was like for me…

The occasion was the 26th annual gathering of HEAS – The High Energy Amateur Science group – a loose-nit gang of high voltage, radiation, and fringe science enthusiasts from all over the country who gather at the home and lab of Richard Hull in Richmond Virginia to talk gizmos.

This was my fourth or fifth time attending this event, but even so I felt woefully “out of my league.” I attended because this is the best chance I have every year to visit with the people who inhabit – the site I started back in 1998 to foster discussion among people who are interested in Philo T. Farnsworth’s approach to nuclear fusion.

I felt out of place, but there I was…

I think the tone of the weekend was set early on, when I was chatting with an 18 year old from Seattle named Noah Hoppis, who pulled a small – wait for it – geiger counter! out of his pocket.  He proceeded to explain how it works, how he got it, what he does with it, etc.

Noah was there with an older friend of his family, a woman named Linda who lives in the area and was providing transportation for the weekend.  I watched as Linda’s eyes glazed over, and at one point she said, “I understand all the individual words, but once he starts stringing them together…. he loses me.”

Which is pretty much how I felt the entire day.

I am at best marginally conversant in these questions of advanced science and physics.  Remember, I’m the guy who basically got flunked out of physics in high-school because I was a pain in the ass for the teacher.  That was in the 11th grade, and I spent the semester in the principals office pulling wires out of an early kind of computer circuit board.  The symbolism is pretty rich…

Despite my failure in any kind of academic scientific pursuit, I have some capacity for staying tuned in long enough to get a sense of the big picture, and maybe even some talent for distilliing the Broad Concepts into language that the average reader can comprehend.  I’ve done it in two books, and occasionally somebody will tell me “you said that pretty clearly” or words to that effect.  I smile and think to myself, “fooled ‘em again…”

So I spent the first two hours being a million miles – light years? – out of my comfort zone… thinking, “I have no business being here.”

After a few hours of that, I finally settled down and got my camera out and started taking some pictures.

First, here is Richard Hull himself, as his fusor runs on the apparatus around him.  Just over his left shoulder is the fusion chamber itself, and over his right shoulder is the video image of the actual “star in a a jar” reaction inside that chamber:


Now, of course, the reaction that Richard has created is pretty “low yield.”  1-2 million neutrons emitted per second may sound like a lot, but that level is safe to be in the same room with.  Exponentially, that yield is expressed as 1x10E6 (1 times ten-to-the-sixth) “Breakeven” for a system like this is predicted to occur somewhere between 10E12 and 10E14. Let me do the math: that would be somewhere between 10 and 100 TRILLION neutrons per second.  We ain’t there yet.

But fear not.  Here’s my favorite single photo of the weekend:


This is Scott Moroch and Jack Rosky, two students at a high school in Wayne New Jersey who are building – yes – their ow nuclear fusion reactor.   What Scott is holding in his hand is a model of the fusion chamber they plan to build that they rendered in a 3D printer. The model is plastic, the real thing will be stainless steel (and considerably larger). Now THAT’s using new technology to create new technology…

Finally, my favorite demonstration of the weekend:


….where in Robert Tubbs looks on and assists as Dr. Kevin Dunn from the Hampton-Sidney College in Virginia demonstrates a form of “Caveman Chemistry” – namely a prehistoric chemical process called “fire.”

Conducted in the presence of the Fusor, it’s an intriguing juxtaposition of “Fire Version One” with “Fire Version 2.” Kevin made the point that “civilization” essentially begins with the discovery and control of “Fire v1.0” What becomes of “civilization” if/when we finally control “Fire v2.0”?

And, not surprisingly, it is no easy feat to make fire from two pieces of wood. It takes some coordination to rapidly and repeatedly pull the bow back and forth to spin the spindle while pressing the spindle down against the second piece of wood.   It takes a bit of practice and perseverance to get the hang of it.

Watching these young guys try their hand at making fire – and knowing that they would go home to resume their efforts to build and operate a fusion reactor, I came up with this new rule: You’re not aloud to make “nuclear fire” until you have demonstrated that you are capable of making “carbon fire.”

You know, first things first…


Bezos, Thiel, Allen and Musk:
You’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

Captains of Industry, in search of a Bigger Boat

As I was getting ready to spend this past weekend with “the science nerds” in Richmond VA, I read this article in

America has six private-sector fusion projects underway, according to a new report by the research firm Third Way. PayPal co-founder and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel has backed Helion Energy of Redmond, Wash.  Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has put money behind Tri ­Alpha Energy in Irvine, Calif., which has reportedly raised $140 million. And Bezos Expeditions, the investment fund of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is backing a Vancouver company called General Fusion, which so far has raised $94 million.

…which set me to thinking about my own experience with the subject of “fusion,” and I posted this reply to

Bezos, Thiel, Allen and Musk:
You’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

Point being, not so much that they need a “bigger” boat – I think those guys are already starting to grasp that – but that they may have already missed the boat that was carrying the cargo for which they seek.

I know, slightly “off topic” from my usual fare, but that’s what’s occupying my imagination this week…

Sunset Over Nickajack Lake

Ann and I spent two nights on the shores of Nickajack Lake near Chattanooga, our annual anniversary weekend excursion.
I swore I was going to stay off line for a few days.  I did manage to not open e-mail for the duration, but I couldn’t resist posting this iPhone photo of the sunset as I went out on the dock to grill some bratwursts.
Sunday was the night of the Blood Moon.  We didn’t think we were going to see it, because the sky was totally overcast as the moon rose.  I fell asleep reading in bed, and when I woke up at around 10PM I thought to stick my head outside and, sure enough, a hole had opened in the clouds and we saw a few minutes of the red moon, and then the waxing eclipse.
Sometimes it’s better to just watch a thing than try to photograph it…

Sunset over Nickajack Lake, near Chattanooga, TN. #No #BloodMoon #toomanyclouds

The Great Failing of Restaurants Everywhere

Is there anything more annoying than ketchup that is served in these tiny little packets.

We had dinner Saturday night (before going to see Arlo Guthrie at City Winery for the ‘Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour’) at a nice little barbecue joint called “Slow and Low Barbecue Bistro.”  The food was great.  There were bottles of bbq sauce that we could squirt into little compotes for dipping.  Why couldn’t do the same for ketchup is a mystery.

Instead, we had to tear open a half dozen of these little packets.  Always a pain the ass.  C’mon people, but the ketchup in a bottle, too.

The great failing of restaurants everywhere

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