I finally had some time (thank God for wives, marriage, family, honeymoons, and Frank Herbert) to think about all the problems and idiocy polluting the airwaves…and interwebs…and streets.  Hint: Better and safer to pollute airwaves and interwebs people…much easier to clean…much less destructive…

The scenery that stimulates thought (ahhhh…the back yard of the Westin in Lahaina, Maui…how lucky/blessed I am):

Serenity

Here are my thoughts.  Tell me if I’m wrong.  I want to listen.  I want to learn.  I want to collectively help find a way out of this economic mess and get to the root issues facing us.

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The Year 2010

August 22nd, 2010 by nikkelne

Fellow human,

You might be asking yourself: “Where on earth has Jon Nikkel been?”.  You also might be eating a bowl of Kix right now, devoting more neurons to pondering the milk dripping from your chin than you are to me.  Either way, it is my duty to update the world on my life situation, and breath new life into my blog, which has been bereft of life this year.

“Travel” best sums up late 2009 and 2010 for me.  I’ve been extremely blessed to have seen a lot of neat places in my short life, and met a lot of incredible people along the way.  I have been on the road more than I have in any other year (I think), for both work and pleasure.  Nothing too exotic (yet…), but varied, and fun.  Prose is never fun, so we’ll sum up the destinations in a nice readable list:

  • Eagar, Arizona - Weekend in October, 2009
  • Sedona, Arizona - Weekend in November, 2009
  • Mt. Wrightson Summit - Weekend in Late November, 2009
  • Yuma, AZ for Work - December, 2009 - March 2010 (off and on…3 months of madness)
  • Hollister, CA for Work - April, 2010
  • Nova Scotia, Canada for Work - May, 2010
  • Hollister, CA for Work - June, 2010
  • Socorro, NM for Work - July, 2010
  • Michigan and Indiana for Weddings and Fun - August, 2010
  • San Juan Islands, WA and Vancouver, Canada for Sailing - August, 2010
  • Coming Soon - Israel, to meet with our heroic counterparts at IMI

A few noteworthy events for 2010:

I seem to be headed down the path of becoming a “nav guy” at work, and now have a “rep” as a “GPS guy”.  Amazing technology (as everyone knows).  Hopefully will get to branch out into other some other genres of navigation in the future.

Old news at this point for most, but I met lovely Elizabeth, and her companion Lucy the Dawg, in October of last year.  Liz has been a huge blessing in my life.  We have tons of fun together (so do Lucy and Kitty), and I have no fear in saying that I love her about as much as the ocean is vast.  There are big things in store for the two of us me thinks ;).

I had the privilege of working with a number of Israeli Military Industries engineers this year on a 120mm mortar project for the US Army (if you want details, use your power of Googling).  They are some of the most hard working and fast thinking people I have ever met.  They are fearless and wily in both work and life, and have more than earned my deepest respect.

I have been giving serious attention to Roman Catholicism.  Liz opened the door for me and made it accessible.  I’ve since learned quite a bit about the church, and very much like what I’ve seen and read.  I still have much to learn.  I’ll not get into the details here, but to sum it up, what I’ve seen in recent months attending some Masses and reading up has pretty much completely trashed what I was “taught” about the Catholic Church growing up while wandering through various Protestant churches, and raised some very intriguing, fundamental questions about the basis of most Protestant Christian church theologies (or the lack thereof in some cases).  Probably more to come in the future on this one.  Conversion is not a sure thing for me yet, but it’s fair to say that at minimum I have a new-found respect for the Catholic Church, it’s people, and it’s teachings.  If you let the occasional news blurb about a bad priest mar your thinking, you are but cheating yourself.

I am studying for the GRE.  I have put off actually taking the test many times now, because I have not felt ready.  I am not going to take it until I can ace the damn thing.  After all, whats the rush?  I still hate thinking back to what I could have achieved on the SAT/ACT if I had studied for them.

2010 is only half-way over….

Alrighty…the wait is over.  All 200+ pictures we took from last month are up.  I also included a link to a .zip with the original photos if you’d like them.  The web gallery ones are smaller, so they fit in your browser.

Without further ado:

August Backpacking at Timber Lake, Sailing in the San Juans

Link to .zip with Originals

A little background info:

We backpacked on the Timber Lake Trail, a really nice one just down the west side of the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park.  5.5 miles into the camp site…not too bad.  Great access to tundra day-hiking from there!

The sailing trip started the day after Ben’s wedding (sorry we missed your open house you two).  We flew to Seattle, drove up to Bellingham, got briefed, and hopped on boart the 37′ Jeanneau.  Really nice boat…3 cabins, kitchen, plenty of seating.  The main sail was set up w/ lazy jacks and pulley-driven reefing…makes it almost too easy.  Nice chart plotter and radar too.  Weather was excellent the entire week.  We sailed north up near the Canadian border, made our way west, then south and around, and finally back to Bellingham.  Stayed at a couple of the big island harbors along the way….Roach and Friday.  Great hiking, did some shrimping.  No rum until halfway in…bought to much, and couldn’t finish it all heh.  Dingy got lost once….that was fun :D.  We ran a hat-overboard drill too….fished it out right in the nick of time (was sinking).  All in all, great week with a lot of fun in the sun….I’m no longer pasty white :D.

Good times.

Culdesac Party, Circuits, Life

May 17th, 2009 by nikkelne

Awesome weekend.  Parties in the culdesac two days in a row, accentuated one night by midnight fishing, and the next by midnight wheelin in the wash.  I’m pretty sure I live next to the coolest bunch of neighbors on the planet.  Everyone knows how to party down, and the BBQ, thanks to Jimmy, was “mmmuah!”.

Spent this afternoon/evening working some more on the wireless power stuff.  No pics yet, but they’ll come next time.  Got the primary coil mounted in a fashion thats at least somewhat safe: superglued to an old motorcycle tire!  Built a simple wood stand for the tire, so now its up on my work bench (and yes, this is a 30 inch diameter, 3/8″ cross section diameter inductor built out of multistrand copper grounding wire). 

The driving circuit is coming along too (along with my knowledge of RF electronics and power supply design, knowledge/fear of which has been my real holdup so far).  I have a simple B+ power supply built now, and a bunch of power electronics, tubes, air-core inductors, and air-variable caps of various sizes to play with.  I was going to build the driving circuit with tubes at first, because I was concerned about stability, but I think I can probably get away with solid state.  Solid state is nice b/c its easy to power a large load w/ a single device, whereas a comparable circuit built with tubes would require a BUNCH of tubes in parallel (the characteristics of which have to be matched in order to retain the advantages).  So…I’ve got an order in for some high voltage MOSFETS now.

In the midst of all my googling today, came across a great site written by a guy who built a solid-state Tesla coil, complete with Faraday Cage to prevent himself from getting irradiated.  Startin to think I ought to build one too heh.  Guy did some nice sims to go along with his work too…something to appreciate.  

Garage Tesla Coil

(Photo linked to from http://users.skynet.be/BillsPage)

 

The Ring of Truth

April 16th, 2009 by nikkelne

Forwarded from my Grandpa:

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world doesn’t care about your
self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up,it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

An Oddity

April 6th, 2009 by nikkelne

A little insight into one of the many oddities of my life:

I sometimes have odd mental blocks that make actions requiring minimal work seem more taxing than actions requiring more work.  Some days I can see straight through these, others see me falling for them.

Example:

Even though it is obviously much easier for me to grab my coffee cup and bring it in when I get home from work, I will sometimes leave it in the car overnight, and then come out and get it in the morning (even when I consciously notice the cup).  Why?  For some reason, the simple act of grabbing it and lugging it in when I’m tired at the end of a long day seems more taxing than just coming back in the morning for it.

Sillyness.

Insignificance

April 1st, 2009 by nikkelne

I am not great. I am but a wink in the eye of time.

My insignificant efforts, alone, mean nothing. But insignificance compounded breeds significance, and gives rise to the entity we call society.

Thus, there is that faintest hope within hopes that our combined significance will bring forth some level of greatness.

When, in fact, this greatness comes of age, our paltry minds will gloat, and back to insignificance they shall return.

Furthermore, our heady air invites the evil that lurks, waiting to grasp a hold of the insignificance within our greatness.

And then, our greatness, once more, shall return to the depths of insignificance from whence it came.

Finally Found a Way In

March 27th, 2009 by nikkelne

Why it took me close to two years to figure this out, I don’t know, but I finally found the AZ State Land parcel viewer the other day, and was finally able to figure out today where I could and couldn’t lawfully go out east of me.  

I’d actually driven by the little dirt road that offshoots from Pistol HIll Rd a few times, but I thought it was all private land at the time, so I backed off.  But no…most of it’s state land, and it runs right up to the very west end of Coronado National Forest, given me a PERFECT access point to head up into the Rincon’s.  Sooo much closer than having to drive all the way out up north of Benson to get there.  Better yet, its a perfect place to hunt/shoot….hardly anyone goes up this thing.  Looks like it is leased out to ranchers for grazing, and there were some spent shells of course, but not a ton, so I don’t think it’s traveled much.

Pretty sweet.

Purpose

March 21st, 2009 by nikkelne

Mind got kickstarted again…so here’s a rant.

Purpose.  What little I know about it is that a) life seems meaningless without it, b) I have one, or more, and c) I have no idea what in heck they are, much less what they mean, and how and to what extent they fit into the grand scheme of the universe.  

Perhaps I’ve already fulfilled it (or them), and my remaining task in life is but to realize I’ve done so.  Unlikely.

Many stories and notions deal, ultimately, with human purpose.  

Dune (Frank Herbert)…the ultimate grasp at universal, infinite human purpose.  In all his years (decades) of exploring that universe and concept, he never reached a finite conclusion.  There was plentiful relative purpose…but never absolute, ultimate purpose, other than existance and continuous improvement within ever-expanding human webs.

Patriotism.  What better sense of purpose than to work towards the survival and expansion of the American way.  Build advanced technologies, giant militaries, throw our clout around in the world, convince everyone else our way is best.  It has the ring of purpose, because our work in the present is felt by many generations in the future.  But.  Ultimately, it’s relative.  It iterates, and never ends, like the explorations of many Sci-Fi stories, such as those two above.  There is a general fealing of good vs. evil, but it is vague, cloudy, and largely undefined.

Battlestar Galactica…yet another grasp at definition of human purpose, and again, it fails to conclude, implying merely repetition of a complex system (life) in a, for all intensive purposes, infinite universe.  Perhaps the one obvious purpose they all had throughout was to ensure that the cycle continues, but in the end, it defaulted to a deity, an absolute.  The only purpose the deity clearly had in mind was continued existance.  Not bad.  A step in the right direction.  However, it is missing something.  Good vs. Evil.  It muddies and mixes good and evil, and ultimately does away with them, defaulting to one polar extreme.  This does not ring true to me.  The universe is quite obviously not monopolar in nature.  Nearly every experience I’ve had indicates that existance favors two poles.  

The Lord of the Rings…the classic narrative of good vs. evil.  It implies they are two polar extremes…absolutes, and that ultimately, human purpose is to ensure that the former prevails.  This rings true with me, as it does with most.  Everyone knows good vs. evil, and most hate evil, when it is clearly recognizeable.  Unfortunately, this life is not so simple.  There is no clear absolute enemy on the horizon, no glowing red eye in the east to direct our purpose towards.  It is fleeting, it hides, shirks, wiggles, and creeps its way into every facet of our lives.  There is no defeating it, at least of our own accord.  How I would love to pick up a sword, and run screaming into battle, hurling myself at evil until it is vanquished, or falling in heroism and honor while trying.  Were it only so easy.

The Purpose Driven Life…arguably the best (modern) Christian attempt at definition of purpose.  It is a microcosm, and generalization of purpose.  It defines five concrete purposes: 1) You were planned for God’s pleasure, 2) You were formed for God’s family, 3) You were created to become like Christ, 4) You were shaped for serving God, and 5) You were made for a mission.  It presupposes Christianity of course; it is not (at least directly) an argument for Christianity.  It merely tells us how to fight the battles of life, to help win the war of our lives.  It implies, again, the existance of and struggle between two polar opposites of good  evil, and is providing guidance within a specific religious context.  It does very little to help one distinguish individual purpose in many daily actions, unless you’re considering becoming a clergyman.  

It, and the rest of the Christian faith for that matter, never really answers, or even addresses purpose after the war.  It implies that, once at the pole, purpose is continued, infinite existance in goodness and harmony with God.  There is never any discussion of God’s ultimate purpose(s), if there are any, outside of his creation.  But, maybe that is the key.  If God is the true absolute, he does not require a purpose.  Shakespeare put it best.  He is, and his purpose is to be.  Hence, adherenace to the best polar absolute is necessarily the only true human purpose.

I think the choice and derivation of purpose starts with a decision between belief in a mono-pole or bi-pole.  I have admit that while there are many indicators of bi-poles to me (electic polarity, good and evil, matter and anti-matter, positive and negative), there are no crystal clear proofs or discriminates of what exists at the absolute(s).  There are still fleeting indicators of monopoles (gravitation, existance of zero).  That said, I think we can narrow it down by logically formulating our choice between the two.  If the universe is truely mono-polar, then it is easy to argue that the choice is meaningless anyways, without consequence.  If the universe is bi-polar, then there are consequences to choice.  So, if one does not know, self-preservation would dictate it is safer to choose adherence to the most desireable of the bi-poles than not to.  This is perhaps a weak argument to base ones faith upon (which is not surprising…the fact I am searching for an argument at all implies I am more lacking in faith than others), but it is one of the few truths I know.  It is a selfish notion, and it is survivalistic, but it rings true.

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And here I am…still no closer to reaching an answer that satisfies me.  Are continued existance and adherence to an absolute the only true ultimate purposes?

 

 

 

 

 

Pimp My AR

March 8th, 2009 by nikkelne

This weekend saw yet another glamorous gun show come to Tucson, and I partakethed in the frenzy.  Suffice it to say that damn near all of Tucson showed up to this thing, what with the upcomingrein reinstatement (and worsening?) of the Assault Weapons Ban.

I’ll say this…great place to get ammo for CHEAP.  Got a 1000 rds of Wolf .55 grain FMJ for $270.  Cheapest I’ve ever found it.  Those Russians know how to make it CHEAP.  No problems with it either…I put 500 rds through the AR last month, and not a single mis-fire.

Got a couple new toys to pimp out (and I think complete) the AR: the 3X EOtech scope, a very light composite bipod, and a two-point harness.  Check it out:
Pimped AR