Monthly Archive: May 2016


The search for the road less traveled leads to the end of authenticity.

If you’re sailing from Europe, as the English explorers did in the 16th century, the Outer Banks of North Carolina are just about the first piece of the New World you run into. But if you’re driving from New York City 400 years later, they seem very out of the way Ocracoke, the southernmost inhabited barrier island and our vacation destination this year, is roughly two hours from the middle of nowhere. That, of course, is its charm. What better escape than a quaint fishing village of 600 souls, so isolated that its 20th century inhabitants are said to still speak with the Elizabethan accents of their colonial ancestors?Kaliningrad_fishing_village

What we found once we got there was not a quaint fishing village but a Quainte Fishing Village. For centuries, virtually the only visitors to this oceanwracked sandbar were shipwreck survivors; today, about 250,000 people take the ferries to Ocracoke in season. Shops selling T-shirts and sea shells ring the harbor, restaurants with upscale pretensions compete with the beach bars and crab shacks, and the artists, massage therapists and eco-hippies have moved in. One can still see the remains of the old village under the vacation real estate–thanks to the vagaries of geography, transportation and politics, Ocracoke’s touristification is fairly recent–but the island’s culture has turned out to be as fragile as its ecology. Even the famous Ocracoke dialect has disappeared under the influence of top 40 radio and cable TV.

Your own private Montana


Allow yourself a few moments to indulge in a fantasy. A fantasy, mind you, that has nothing to do with Rebecca Romijn or Carmen Electra. This is a skiing fantasy. Imagine that you, and perhaps a few of your best ski buddies, are standing atop a cornice on a mountain in southern Montana, the stark beauty of Big Sky’s Lone Peak rising imposingly a few miles away. It’s a bluebird day, but there’s nobody else around, and there are no tracks in sight. After a moment’s hesitation, you launch off the cornice, landing in a big, soft pillow of fluff. Shaking the snow from your goggles, you ski a series of perfect S turns down the pitch in front of you. At the base of the chair, you catch your breath and wait for your friends. This scenario repeats itself over and over throughout the morning. With an expanse of terrain comparable to Vail’s, there’s little chance you’ll cross tracks with the 50 or so other skiers who are out exploring this day. It’s just you, your friends, and an inexhaustible supply of freshies.


If you have $750,000 or so to spare for the initiation fee, this fantasy can become reality at Montana’s exclusive Yellowstone Club, a private ski area in the making. The Club, which will include residences and year-round activities, is being developed by former timber mogul Tim Blixseth on 13,000 acres adjacent to Big Sky Resort. The ski terrain on Pioneer Mountain is at the heart of approximately 4,000 acres slated for ski development. Last spring, about 12 miles of trails had been cut, mostly wide cruisers.

Remote Alaskan fishing village uses unique ice-making system

KOTZEBUE, Alaska–This part of Alaska is one large frozen tundra much of the year; so, you might think the last thing an Alaskan needs in this fishing village 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle is an icemaker. But an icemaker can mean the difference between profit and loss during the 70[degrees]F, six-week-long summer fishing season on Kotzebue Sound.

Villagers use ice from rotary drum flake icemakers to keep their commercial Chum salmon catches fresh in their air trip south to the lower 49.

While the village’s four 6-ton-per-day icemakers, driven by conventional electric compressors, did an admirable job, their age and inefficiency increased energy consumption that cut deeply into profits.2

Because the village is not connected to an electricity grid, it pays a hefty 21[cents]/kWh for dieselgenerated electricity, which calculates to about $7 per daily ton of ice.

Production Clips; Audio metering devices

Audio meters are a poor, misunderstood lot. In many pieces of equipment they are included seemingly as an afterthought, as a signal presence indicator or just “something to go by” rather than as a true measurement device.


For offline setting of levels (with sine waves), almost any kind of meter will suffice, especially if the meter is built into the device you are setting. “Turn it up until the third LED lights” will still result in a repeatable, if only an arbitrary, level. If you are setting up the gain structure of a device, you are often using (relatively) pure sine waves as opposed to a complex signal, such as program material. In that case, the meter indication is relatively easy to read and is reasonably repeatable. It can be tempting to use these metering devices that have reasonable accuracy but unknown frequency response, depending on the application. The use of sine waves, or pure tones for set up allows the use of lower-quality meters or digital multimeters without true RMS algorithms to be used. Inexpensive digital meters often read the average value of a signal, but if they assume that the signal is a sine wave (sometimes not a correct assumption), the display can be scaled to “read” RMS values.