In retirement we find our lives to be defined by projects. These are our home-based wanderings.
We are currently trying to finish our on-going projects so we can leave on another extended bike trip. Our major project, when at home during the last few years, has been making the house low maintenance and livable for the next 25 years. This project has been spurred to near completion by our recent decision, successfully enacted, to rent our house out for the duration of our next extended bike trip.
This is not the only project, however; several others are ongoing of various sizes:
This is my major project so far this year, and it started by happenstance. Alexei, a distant relative, came for supper and we began to talk about his PhD research work. It soon became clear that Alexei, an economist, needed a physicist assistant. He uses the intensity of night lights as a measure of economic activity, a well accepted tool in economics. His problem was that the night lights images, taken nightly of the entire earth by US military satellite, are of low resolution (92% of the light within 4km and 8% within 80km of its correct position). His idea was that if we understood the camera that took the images, we could correct for the distortions it creates. This is not a new idea, but nobody has applied it to this data, perhaps because information on this military satellite’s exact working is rather sketchy. By a combination of reading the literature and studying the images, we described the action of the camera and satellite with just five parameters:
Satellite Height: 833km
Satellite East-West Sweep: +/-750km
Ground scanning area (high efficiency): 2.03 km radius (when satellite directly overhead )
Ground scanning area (low efficiency): 41 km radius (when satellite directly overhead)
Relative efficiency of the two regions: 1:5000
Undoing the effect of these aspects sharpened the images so Alexei can now separate light intensity coming from the West Bank from that of adjacent Jewish settlements.
Lit pixels after correction
Lit pixels before correction
Corrected Image with map from UN showing urban areas
Our resolution is now mainly limited by the pixel size (0.9km) of the original image. As this pixel size is considerably larger than the on-board pixel size of the satellite, with eventual cooperation from the authorities we can no doubt do better. That is for the future, probably with other collaborators as Alexei must soon graduate and move on to new pastures.
Family Tree and History Websites
I have also been the technician for my sister Carolyn’s family tree related web sites. Two of these are private so as to protect information on family members who are still alive. But one
, that is related to my great and great-great grandfather,s diaries, has gone public this year. And another on houses they were associated with is near completion.
These above wanderings keep me so busy when at home, that I wonder how I ever found time to work.
Margo and I have also had a project planning two trips:
Four day kayak trip to Broken Group Islands
We will do this trip near Ucluelet with our friends, Carsten and Jackie, from Hamburg. This is ocean kayaking, but you can choose your exposure to the open Pacific by how far out you venture! We start in reasonably protected waters from the land at the top middle-right of the map below, crossing first to Nettle Island. The islands are a national park are uninhabited, and fresh water sources at this time of year cannot be relied upon.
UK to Crete Bike Tour
This 3 1/2 month bike tour will, if we stick to plan, take us to four of the five biggest islands in the Mediterranean. In January 2015 we might visit the fifth. The islands in the order we might visit them are: Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, and Cyprus.
Our approximate Plan A is shown below.
Off we jolly well go.