Grammar Nazis Rejoice!

Microphone iconThere’s a new kind of typo in town.

Do you use dictation to enter text? Here are my thoughts.

Dictated Corrected
First, there were the typos and legitimate spelling and grammar errors that we made when using keyboard. First, there were the typos and legitimate spelling and grammar errors that we made when using a keyboard.
Then there were the typos common Austin “aided” but auto correct, to deliver often hilarious text messages when we attempted to key in text on our phones and mobile devices. Then there were the typos common , Austin often “aided” but by auto correct AutoCorrect, to deliver often hilarious text messages when we attempted to key in text on our phones and mobile devices.
And now, there are the typos and other Errors generated buy are growing use of dictation on our mobile devices and our computers. And now, there are the typos and other Errors errors generated buy are by our growing use of dictation on our mobile devices and our computers.
Are used dictation quite frequently on my iPhone and iPad. Sometimes, the device clearly understands what I’m saying and in exactly what I would’ve typed. Other times, it gets things completely screwed up to the point where it’s impossible two even imagine what I might’ve been trying To say. I’m trying, more and more, to use dictation on my computer. I find that I don’t type quite as well as I used to and I’m not sure why. It seems to me that using technology to get the job done should be a good idea. But every once in a while, I let some text go without proofreading it. The results could be something like what you’re seeing on the left side of the stage–raw, Dictated text. I found it necessary to provide a translation in the right column. Are used I use dictation quite frequently on my iPhone and iPad. Sometimes, the device clearly understands what I’m saying and in enters exactly what I would’ve typed. Other times, it gets things completely screwed up to the pointwhere it’s impossible two to even imagine what I might’ve been trying To to say. I’m trying, more and more, to use dictation on my computer. I find that I don’t type quite as well as I used to and I’m not sure why. It seems to me that using technology to get the job done should be a good idea. But every once in a while, I let some text go without proofreading it. The results could be something like what you’re seeing on the left side of the stage page–raw, Dictated dictated text. I found it necessary to provide a translation in the right column.
Of course, sometimes the errors are so minor that they really do resemble typos. For example, this morning I dictated a text message to a friend of mine and I used the word to. The version of the word to that I meant was T00, but my phone typed in TW oh. If I hadn’t caught and fix that and if my friend or a grammar Nazi I give him ammunition to rip me. Of course, sometimes the errors are so minor that they really do resemble typos. For example, this morning I dictated a text message to a friend of mine and I used the word to too. The version of the word to that I meant was T00 TOO, but my phone typed in TW oh TWO. If I hadn’t caught and fix fixed that and if my friend or were a grammar Nazi, I I’d give him ammunition to rip rib me.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: when you see a grammar error on screen, consider that it might not have been the person entering the text who made the error. Instead, it may have been the machine taking down his or her dictation. So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: when you see a grammar error on screen, consider that it might not have been the person entering the text who made the error. Instead, it may have been the machine taking down his or her dictation.
This column was dictated on an iMac running OS 10 Yosemite using the built-in microphone. This column was dictated on an iMac running OS 10 X Yosemite using the built-in microphone.

Thoughts?

Ham and Swiss Cheese Quiche

When you have a never-ending supply of eggs, you make quiche (among other things).

I have chickens. Six of them. They started laying eggs about 2 months ago and they haven’t stopped. At the peak of the laying season, I was getting about 3 dozen a week. Now I’m getting about 2 dozen a week. They don’t seem to mind the cold or the short days. They just keep laying eggs.

I can’t possibly eat 2 dozen eggs a week. But I’m trying. And I’m also giving away fresh eggs to anyone who gives me an empty egg carton.

Quiche
Hot from the oven.

On Thursday, a friend who got a carton of 18 eggs from me on Wednesday dropped off about two pounds of sliced cooked ham. By that time, I already had 4 fresh eggs from my girls — and I hadn’t even collected 5 more from that day. With 9 eggs and 2 pounds of ham, it seemed like it was only natural to make a ham and swiss cheese quiche.

Later today, I’ll bring him half of it.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half (heavy cream will work, too)
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 cup shredded swiss cheese
  • 1 frozen 9-in deep dish pie crust, unbaked

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, beat together the eggs and half and half.
  2. Place the ham, scallions, and swiss cheese in the pie crust.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the ham mixture.
  4. Bake in a 400°F oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until set.

Yields: 8 slices

Nutritional Information: 250 calories per slice. This recipe is low in carbs and high in sodium (because of the ham), potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin. You can get complete nutritional information for this recipe here.

A Jeep Trip to Mission Ridge

A surprisingly wonderful midday out.

I’ve been debating what to do this winter. I don’t have much work here in the Wenatchee area other than writing, which I can do anywhere. I will likely be heading down to California in January anyway to record a new course for Lynda.com. I’ve been thinking about spending a month or two in Arizona — after all, I do still own a home there — and I have friends to visit and hike with. But local friends are encouraging me to stick around and even do something crazy (for me): take up downhill skiing.

So I have options.

Heli Skiing

A chat with a pilot friend yesterday morning got me thinking about heli skiing — where you use a helicopter as a ski lift to take you (very) quickly to the top of the slopes. And that got me thinking of my friend Don and Mission Ridge.

Don is an avid skier. He’s rejoicing over the early opening of the local ski resort, Mission Ridge, and is determined to be one of the first on line for the lift on Saturday.

Don’s been talking to me on and off about offering heli skiing at Mission Ridge. He says I can drop off skiers at the microwave towers at the top of the ridge. And then he offered to drive up there with me.

I didn’t realize we could drive up. But since there are towers up there, of course you can drive up. I didn’t know how to get there but offered to drive. I met him with my Jeep at his house at about 10:30 AM. The plan was to scout for a landing zone so I could propose a heli-skiing service to the folks at Mission Ridge.

Top of Mission Ridge
This ski trail map by the folks at Mission Ridge really exaggerates the mountains and distances. The arrow points to my proposed landing zone.

The Drive Up

We took two cars — my Jeep and Don’s truck — to the turnoff for Jumpoff Road off of Stemilt Loop Road. No sense in me driving all the way back to Don’s house when we were done, especially since the Jumpoff turn was closer to my place than his.

Jumpoff, by the way, is the name of the ridge behind my home. There’s a basalt cliff face to the south of me that soars at least 500 feet straight up. The top of that is called Jumpoff Ridge. There’s a road that winds up the side of the mountain near Stemilt Hill to the west of me. From there, another road turns off to follow power lines up the mountain. And then another road breaks off to the microwave towers overlooking the resort on Wenatchee Mountain, elevation 6742 feet.

It was not a short drive. It wasn’t smooth, either. Although the first road, Jumpoff Ridge Road, was relatively smooth and well-maintained, the next two roads weren’t maintained at all. The power line road was pretty straight in most places, but was filled with large rocks that forced me to drive slowly. Most of it was in clearings filled with bunch grass and sagebrush much like I have at my home. Whenever we left the power line, the road got windy and sometimes steep. That’s where it made its way through forests of tall pine trees.

Snow appeared on the road after the first seven or eight miles and was a few inches thick a bit farther up. I had to switch into four wheel drive at a particularly steep spot. My tire tracks were the first ones in the snow, which may have fallen overnight. Although we were on a ridge for much of the time, low clouds made it impossible to see very far in any direction. Indeed, by the time we reached the first antenna installation, a light freezing fog was blowing past. Beneath it, out to the south, we could see glimpses of where the valley dropped down toward Ellensburg.

If you’re curious about our exact route, you can find it here on Gaia GPS. I tracked it with their app on my phone.

After about an hour of driving, Don opened his backpack and pulled out a snack. He fed me cheese, crackers, and smoked turkey as I drove. That was a good thing since I’d forgotten to eat breakfast.

We made one stop along the way. There was a weird trail across the road and Don wanted to check it out. While he did that, I made a pit stop behind a tree. Then we were on our way again.

The drive to the end of the road took about 1-1/2 hours. We’d driven 15.7 miles and climbed more than 3000 feet in elevation.

At Wenatchee Mountain

At the end of the road was the Communication Facility at Wenatchee Mountain. It consists of two small buildings — both locked up tight — and a bunch of antennas. I shut off the Jeep and we all got out — Penny, too — to take a look. It was surprisingly windy up there — it wasn’t windy down below — and the wind chill must have brought it down to the teens. Exposed skin froze quickly, but the rest of me was pretty warm in heavy jeans and three layers (cotton shirt, fleece sweatshirt, and the junky polyester winter shell I’d bought at Costco for just $20). I was wearing a scarf (of course) which I soon used to cover my head and ears. (My hair, which is longer now than it’s been in about 30 years, does a good job keeping my ears warm, but not when it’s windy.)

I was thrilled to see a large, level spot that would be perfect for landing the helicopter — provided the snow wasn’t too deep there. There wasn’t much snow on the ground that day — the wind had blown the powder mostly away. I assumed the wind would almost always be coming from the south so I’d have to land into that direction. There was a clearing between trees to the north that would make that easy. And the departure off the top of the ridge to the south would be a piece of cake. A quick turn back to the north and then an autorotative descent to the starting point. I suspected I’d be able to turn a ride with two passengers on board in less than 10 minutes. With at least $50/person, I few hours each weekend morning could be lucrative enough to make me stay in Wenatchee all winter.

Wenatchee Mountain
Here’s a topo map of the top of the mountain. The terrain drops off sharply to the north, south, and west.

We turned to the larger of the two buildings and the lookout point to its south. The view from Wenatchee Mountain was breathtaking in almost every direction. There were still clouds off to the southwest, trying to drift over the ridge but not quite making it. The entire ski resort lay spread out before us — we could see trails, lifts, and buildings along the way.

Christmas Card Image
The small pine trees at the northwest edge of the mountaintop were still wearing the snow coats they’d acquired the night before. Wenatchee sits in the valley in the center left of this shot. I think this is a perfect Christmas Card photo, don’t you?

Panorama
Did you say you wanted a panorama? Here you go. You should see it in full size. I think this will look great enlarged and hung over my stairs — I really didn’t want that Monument Valley canvas triptich anyway.

Don explained how skiers would get up to the spot where we stood: a ride up on Lift 2 followed by a trip along the boundary and a climb on foot to where we stood. He said the area where the Jeep was parked was a natural snow bowl surrounded by a windbreak. He was clearly excited about the prospect of getting up there by helicopter. Despite the wind, I was getting excited about the possibility of bringing him and others.

Dognaldo in the Jeep
Don in the Jeep at the top of Wenatchee Mountain.

We hung out for a while and I took a bunch of photos while he shot off some bottle rockets to encourage snowfall. Before we started the drive back, I took a picture of Don in the Jeep, making a face at me.

Clear Lake

We took a slightly different route back that avoided much of the power line and wound down the side of the mountain toward Stemilt Hill, completely avoiding Jumpoff Ridge Road. Our path took us past an area where the mostly eaten carcass of an elk lay and an eagle sat stood up in a tree. I suspected that we’d interrupted his meal.

I stopped the Jeep but left it running and left Penny inside. Don and I each tried to approach the eagle to get a better photo. We spooked him, of course, and I got a decent shot of it taking off.

Eagle in a Tree Eagle Taking Off
An eagle watched us from a perch in a tree, then took off when we got too close.

We continued down the mountain, snacking on chocolate chips and honey roasted nuts. The road wound into the forest and took us close to Clear Lake, where Don suggested we stop for a look.

On the Shore of Clear Lake
On the shore of Clear Lake.

The lake is really just a small reservoir used to irrigate orchards on Stemilt Hill. Irrigation was turned off that time of year and the lake looked about half full. It was also frozen. Frozen enough to walk on. We figure the ice was anywhere from 3 to 6 inches thick.

Understand that our area of Washington was hit with a cold snap about a week ago that lasted a full week. We’re just coming out of it now. Low temperatures at my place have been in the teens for most of that time with highs below freezing. Today was the warmest day in a while, reaching about 35°F. I’m talking cold.

So it was no surprise to me that a lake at least 2,000 feet higher in elevation than where I live should be frozen. What was a surprise was (1) how thick that ice was and (2) how many rocks were sitting on the ice.


I shot this video of Don with my iPhone. Look at it in full screen with sound full up.

We walked around on the ice. Don slid around. We both agreed that if we had ice skates, we could be skating. He tossed large rocks across the ice so we could listen to the weird sounds they made. He fired a shot from his 22 pistol into the ice away from us. Later, we went to find the spot the bullet hit. A scratch was dug about an inch and a half into the ice and the bullet was nowhere to be seen.

I took a lot of artsy photos. At least I tried to. Later, I stuffed Penny into my jacket to keep her warm while we walked along the edge of the lake.

Clear Lake, Frozen
Clear Lake was frozen. Suitable for skating frozen.

Parting Company

We climbed back in the Jeep and followed the road the rest of the way down the mountain. It intersected with Stemilt Loop Road less than a half mile from where we’d left Don’s truck.

We talked briefly about trying to set up a meeting with the folks at Mission Ridge. I’m not sure if they’ll go for the heli-skiing idea, but it doesn’t really matter. I’d enjoyed our day out no matter what came of our “research.”

We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Fifteen minutes later, I was home. Not only did the four hour midday break leave me with a head full of good memories from an outing with a friend, but I had lots of ideas for places to camp and take my ATV and Jeep when spring and summer return. It never ceases to amaze me how many truly incredible spots are so close to where I live.

Search Phrases that Brought Readers Here, 19-Nov-14 Edition

Questions answered?

I was going to blog about gun control and open carry this morning but, in all honesty, was not in the mood to formulate an argument to support my view point. So I went into the stats page for my blog and took a look at the top 10 search terms that brought readers here yesterday. I do this sometimes to trigger ideas. Yesterday’s was a gold mine, mostly because of the variety. I thought I’d build a blog post with brief answers to those questions.

sound made by helicopter

I’m pretty sure this search phrase led the reader to “Writing Tips: Writing Accurate Descriptions,” which I wrote back in 2009. In that post, I discuss an email message I got from a reader who was looking for help describing the sound a helicopter made. She’d come up with a meaningless cliché: “the deafening drill of the helicopter’s rotors” and apparently wanted me to rubber stamp it. I couldn’t, of course. Instead, I gave her a laundry list of things to consider when trying to come up with an accurate description.

I don’t have much to add to this. If you’re a writer and you’re interested in coming up with a description of what a helicopter sounds like, go listen to one. It doesn’t sound like a drill.

how do you strain pastina because its so small

This one made me giggle because yes, pastina is tiny.

I blogged about Pastina back in 2007. Not many people do, so my post usually comes up on the first page of Google if you search for Pastina.

The answer to the question: I don’t know because I don’t strain it. I cook it in water or broth and let the broth fully absorb into the pasta. No need to drain.

traeger junior rib rack

How many times have I blogged about my Traeger? And how many more times will I? Too many to count. Why? Because I love my little grill and the amazing ribs it makes.

But I have the Junior model and it doesn’t have a large cooking surface. I use the rib rack so I can smoke up to 4 racks instead of just two. Thought I had a picture here, but apparently I don’t. So I dug one up.

Rib Rack
Because the Junior Traeger is smaller than other models, I have to cut the racks in half to use the rib rack. There are 3 racks in this photo; I can fit 4.

a what sound of helicopter blades

A lot of people seemed interested in helicopter sounds yesterday. I guess this person zeroed in on the same post I mentioned above.

how to build the bottom board for bee keeping

A bottom board is the bottom part of a beehive. The hive boxes or supers stack on top of it. Bottom boards can be solid or screened. I can only assume the person searching with this phrase found my blog post from this past spring about rebuilding a screened bottom board. In this case, I didn’t build one from scratch; I modified one a friend had made for me.

I do want to build them in the future. Seems easy enough and with my new shop, I have plenty of room to do the job right.

what goes on first sheet or electric blanket?

Way back in 2010, I blogged about my electric blanket, which I’d gotten back in 1977. Then, in 2011, I blogged about the death of that blanket. I can only assume the person searching with this phrase stumbled onto one or both of these posts, neither of which answer the question.

Here’s the answer: blankets go on top of sheets. Electric blankets are supposed to go on the top of the pile, but I put mine right under my comforter (over the top sheet). My new electric blanket can roast me on its lowest setting.

las vegas hiking meetup group

How cool! Someone found my blog by looking for my very favorite hiking group: the Around the Bend Friends, which I blogged about in the autumn of 2012. I had nice things to say about them — and you would, too.

Heck, I was even considering wintering down in the Las Vegas area just so I could go hiking regularly with them this year.

who generates to kindly copy, paste, and share this status for one hour to give a moment of support

Some people take search phrases to the extremes. This is certainly a long one.

I can only assume this person used this search phrase to find my post about echoing canned sentiments on my Facebook status. I do not answer the question, mostly because I don’t know the answer and don’t care to know it. This is spam and people are idiots if they echo it. Period.

how much a helicopter ride cost 3

Not sure what the 3 is all about, but I’ve written quite a bit about helicopter costs — although not specifically what a ride costs. I assume this person got to see the most popular post of all time on this blog: “The Real Cost of Helicopter Ownership.”

Ride costs for passengers vary widely depending on the location, length of ride, and type of helicopter. The cheapest ride I do these days is $35/person at airport events. Normally, however, I charge $545/hour for up to 3 people with a 1-hour minimum. That’s for an R44 Raven II in Wenatchee, WA.

Questions Answered?

Those are the top 10 search phrases for yesterday. Not sure if my blog or this post answered the questions visitors had. But it was a real pleasure to see such a variety of search phrases. Normally, they’re mostly related to helicopter costs and operations — and even I get tired of blogging about that all the time.

If It Was Easy…

Everyone would do it.

Last spring, I took a man — we’ll call him Doug — on a scenic helicopter flight. He was interested in learning to fly and although I’m not a flight instructor and could not put the dual controls in for him, he seemed satisfied enough to fly around with me for an hour. During that time, I suppose we chatted a bit about flying and how the controls worked. I really can’t remember. I fly hundreds of people every year and most flights simply don’t stand out in my mind these days.

At the end of the flight, I passed along the business card for another helicopter pilot in the area, Ryan, who flies a Hiller and does mostly agricultural work. I figured that since Ryan’s card mentioned he was a certified flight instructor (CFI), he’d be able to give Doug some hands-on experience.

I didn’t hear anything from Doug or Ryan after that.

Until October. Doug emailed me to remind me that we’d flown together and that I’d given him Ryan’s card. He then went on to say:

I did fly for an hour with Ryan in his Hiller hb12c. I did not like it. I felt stressed the entire time trying to manage the copter. As such I have not flown again. So….my question to you is what would you recommend I do now?

I admit that I didn’t understand what he was getting at. I assumed he simply didn’t like the Hiller — which really wouldn’t surprise me. The Hiller is an older aircraft and lacks some of the pilot workload-reducing features that my Robinson has, such as hydraulic controls and an electronic governor. I’ve never flown one, but I have to assume that it’s a bit tougher to fly, especially if you have to manage the throttle to control rotor RPM all the time.

Hillers
These are Hillers.

I advised him to sign up with a flight school and suggested he check Moses Lake or Seattle.

He replied with the following:

My real question is “do you think I should fly another helicopter other than the Hiller before I give up on flying a heilicopter?

And that’s when I realized that it wasn’t necessarily the Hiller that was giving him a problem. He’d gone into his first lesson thinking it was going to be easy to fly a helicopter. Then, when he discovered he couldn’t do it, he began wondering if it was the Hiller that was a problem.

I replied:

I really can’t say. I have a friend who swears by Hillers. Robinson R22s are notoriously squirrelly, but that’s what most pilots learn on. If that was your first experience flying a helicopter you should not be surprised that you couldn’t do it. It usually takes 5 to 10 hours just to learn how to hover.

And that’s the truth. The hardest thing to learn is how to hover and it usually takes 5 to 10 hours to be able to do it. I learned to fly part-time with several days between each hour-long lesson and it took me 7 hours of total flight time to be able to hover. At the time, my flight instructor told me that a good percentage of student pilots give up before they get that far, assuming that they’d never be able to do it.

(If you’re reading this and feel that way, don’t give up! One day it will just “click” and you’ll be able to do it. Really.)

His response reminded me how a lot of people must think about flying helicopters:

Thank you! I just expected it to be a lot more fun I guess……?

It can be fun — once you know how to do it. But think about each of the fun things you’ve learned to do: drive, ride a motorcycle, ski, etc. Were they fun from the moment you began learning? I doubt it.

I replied

If it was easy, everyone would do it.