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Last call from Amelia Earhart · 27 July 2018 by colin newell

Amelia Earhart 1937

Amelia Earhart waded into the Pacific Ocean and climbed into her downed and disabled Lockheed Electra.

She started the engine, turned on the two-way radio and sent out a plea for help, one more desperate than previous messages.

The high tide was getting higher, she had realized. Soon it would suck the plane into deeper water, cutting Earhart off from civilization — and any chance of rescue.

Across the world, a 15-year-old girl listening to the radio in St. Petersburg, Fla., transcribed some of the desperate phrases she heard: “waters high,” “water’s knee deep — let me out” and “help us quick.”

A housewife in Toronto heard a shorter message, but it was no less dire: “We have taken in water . . . we can’t hold on much longer.”

That harrowing scene, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believes, was probably one of the final moments of Earhart’s life. The group put forth the theory in a paper that analyzes radio distress calls heard in the days after Earhart disappeared.

PostLostRadioAnalysis.pdf

In the summer of 1937, she had sought to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Instead, TIGHAR’s theory holds, she ended up marooned on a desert island, radioing for help.

Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, could only call for help when the tide was so low it wouldn’t flood the engine, TIGHAR theorized. That limited their pleas for help to a few hours each night.

It wasn’t enough, TIGHAR director Ric Gillespie told The Washington Post, and the pair died as castaways.

But those radio messages form a historical record — evidence that Gillespie says runs counter to the U.S. Navy’s official conclusion that Earhart and Noonan died shortly after crashing into the Pacific Ocean.

On July 2, 1937, just after Earhart’s plane disappeared, the U.S. Navy put out an “all ships, all stations” bulletin, TIGHAR wrote. Authorities asked anyone with a radio and a trained ear to listen in to the frequencies she had been using on her trip, 3105 and 6210 kilohertz.

It was not an easy task. The Electra’s radio was designed to communicate only within a few hundred miles. The Pacific Ocean is much bigger.

The searchers listening to Earhart’s frequencies heard a carrier wave, which indicated that someone was speaking, but most heard nothing more than that. Others heard what they interpreted to be a crude attempt at Morse code.

But thanks to the scientific principle of harmonics, TIGHAR says, others heard much more. In addition to the primary frequencies, “the transmitter also put out ‘harmonics (multiples)’ of those wavelengths,” the paper says. “High harmonic frequencies ‘skip’ off the ionosphere and can carry great distances, but clear reception is unpredictable.”

That means Earhart’s cries for help were heard by people who just happened to be listening to their radios at the right time.

According to TIGHAR’s paper:

Scattered across North America and unknown to each other, each listener was astonished to suddenly hear Amelia Earhart pleading for help. They alerted family members, local authorities or local newspapers. Some were investigated by government authorities and found to be believable. Others were dismissed at the time and only recognized many years later. Although few in number, the harmonic receptions provide an important glimpse into the desperate scene that played out on the reef at Gardner Island.

The tide probably forced Earhart and Noonan to hold to a schedule. Seek shelter, shade and food during the sweltering day, then venture out to the craft at low tide, to try the radio again.

Back in the United States, people heard things, tidbits that pointed at trouble.

On July 3, for example, Nina Paxton, an Ashland, Ky., woman, said she heard Earhart say “KHAQQ calling,” and say she was “on or near little island at a point near” … “then she said something about a storm and that the wind was blowing.”

“Will have to get out of here,” she says at one point. “We can’t stay here long.”

What happened to Earhart after that has vexed the world for nearly 81 years, and TIGHAR is not the only group to try to explain the mystery.

Washington Post Link

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Chicken Ramen BBQ for the Thrifty · 16 July 2018 by colin newell

BBQ Chicken Ramen

This Chicken Ramen makes a delicious and flavorful ramen in about half an hour in your Instant Pot digital electric pressure cooker! I used the left over bits from a $9 BBQ Chicken from local grocery Thrifty Foods.

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup Fresh Miso
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 whole baby bok choy, both white and green parts diced
1 cup of leftover chicken bits.
4 cups low sodium chicken home made chicken stock
2 servings fresh Ramen noodles. We get our Ramen noodles in the produce section of the local Fairways chain.
Optional 1 soft boiled egg.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. When boiling, add the noodles and simmer for 3 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water. Toss with just a little oil if necessary to keep them from sticking (mine already had a little oil on them, so I didn’t need to).

Set aside.

To prepare soup broth:

Add all ingredients except for noodles and bok choy to instant pot. Set to manual, high pressure for 8 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. After cooking, use the quick release to release pressure. Open pot and stir in bok choy. Allow bok choy to cook in the hot soup for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in Miso.

To serve the ramen
In a bowl, place a serving of noodles, then pour the soup over them. Top soup with ramen egg (if desired), sliced green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds if desired.

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Return to the now - Chapter one · 6 July 2018 by colin newell

This is a nice cup of coffee

Silence – what is it and where does it come from? Like the empty coffee cup, is it actually empty or waiting?

Contrary to popular belief, the empty cup and saucer is not necessarily a bad thing. It offers optimism, hope and light at the end of that seemingly endless tunnel called life.

For me, the latter half of 2017 and the first 6 months of 2018 have been something of a challenge. Elder care and the death of a family member – always challenging things. But these are things that everyone encounters and has to process in their own way. From within the emptiness of the coffee pot comes a fresh batch of ideas. Every new day brings us alternative coping skills – or that innate ability to move forward despite feeling ankle deep wet concrete holding us back.

The loss of a parent brings unique emotional challenges. For some of us, it might be our mom or our dad – or even a special aunt or uncle. What I discovered about losing “mom” were the unexpected layers or strata of emotional responses and how when you least expected it, something would pop up and trip you up.

Like the weather: You cannot predict it with that much certainty. You do know that a rain is going to fall and the sun will shine in its glory once again. Just maybe not today or tomorrow.

LR123.mp3

or click here for the mp3 if you cannot see the above widget.

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Spiked Sourdough Hybrid Dinner Rolls · 11 March 2018 by colin newell

Victoria B.C. Sourdough Hybrid Rolls

I have a Sourdough starter that goes all the way back to 2008. I did not create it but got a sample a couple of years ago – and I have managed to not kill it.

Which is astounding because I hurtle every form of abuse and indignation in its general direction; starvation, neglect, disinterest… etc. OK, maybe it’s not that bad because it lives on.

For those who don’t know what a sourdough starter is: In its simplest terms, it is flour and water (those are ingredients that you provide…) The environment (or the World around you…) provides the “natural” yeasts. It is easy to say that they “exist” within the flour that you provide, but yeasts (and molds) are everywhere around us.

And in my case, my Sourdough starter which was created in a neighbourhood around 12 km away from where I live must have evolved after it was relocated. Which is to say, while there are “yeasts” everywhere, they are not all the same and they each (collectively) impact different flavours on the different creations (breads, rolls, scones, even pancakes!) you come up with.

So: Sourdough starter is flour, water and a wild yeast that, yes indeed, creates a ferment. Ferment creates alcohol and gas, which is the leavening that we are looking for.

The ferment in the bread making process also fundamentally changes the flavour and the structure of the gluten in the finished product. I could devote 100 pages to what is going on with bread starters and natural bread making. It’s all on the internet but I will integrate my spin on it here if anyone is interested (use the comment field!) Anyway. Onwards.

This recipe is a “spiked” sourdough – meaning there is some powdered yeast that is going to accelerate the process – significantly – reducing some of the nutritional benefits of the longer “ferment”.

Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter
1 1⁄2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar or 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 -4 cups flour (1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat.)
butter, melted

Instructions
Lightly oil two 1/2 dozen muffin tins (or 3 for smaller rolls)
In a large mixing bowl combine starter, water, yeast, salt, sugar and oil.
Stir in flour, adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough is manageable.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead well.
Place dough in a bowl and cover, set in a warm place to double in size.
When double, punch dough down and with lightly floured hands, form into rolls.
Place in muffin tins and let rise until doubled then bake approximately 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
Last 5 minutes of baking, brush with melted butter and return to oven.

These are mad delicious right out of the oven – this recipe makes 12 big rolls or 18 slightly smaller rolls. You can freeze them as well, but trust me: They are not going to last!

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Living with the Zoom H24 24-channel digital recorder · 5 March 2018 by colin newell

ZOOM H24 24-channel digital recorder

Recently one of my colleagues at the University of Victoria loaned me one of his studio tools that he was thinking of parting with – The Zoom H24 24-channel digital portable recorder.

Now for the record, way back when I first started recording multi-track style I was using a cassette tape based TASCAM 244 – 4 tracks of audio on a cassette… and that was mono tracks. Granted, the Beatles recorded some amazing music on recorders not much bigger than that… but I am not them.

Anyway. Armed with a couple of good microphones, headphones, a guitar, ukulele and a bass guitar I came up with a bunch of sample demos (warts and all…) way faster than I could have on my PC based audio work-station. Here is one. Trust me: Listen on headphones or ear buds!

Gear: APEX Floating plate microphone and Shure SM81 condensor microphone.
Cort acoustic guitar, Kala Ukulele, Godin bass – and three vocals provided by yours truly.

The Zoom H24 digital recorder is jam packed with features and to be honest, I likely utilized less than 5% of its capabilities. For instance, the R24 offers eight inputs on combo connectors that can accept either XLR or ¼” balanced or unbalanced cables.

Click on any image for the bigger view!

Zoom H24 24-channel recorder

All inputs can handle mic/line/instrument level signals, and Input 1 can also handle low impedance signals from passive electric guitars and basses.

I took advantage of the phantom power (+24 or +48 volts) which can be applied to up to six inputs, allowing the use of professional grade condenser and floating plate microphones. I use Chinese made APEX cardioid patterned plate microphones at around 1/10th the price of a German made Neumann U-87 (which sounds utterly dreamy with the right voice!) and for my voice, it’s just fine. I use the SM81 for picking up some of the features of my acoustic guitars but plugging directly into the R24 works just as well.

The Zoom H24 can record 8 tracks at the same time and works really well if you are a band that wants good isolation for fine tuning after a recording session. I found that I could easily eat up 8 tracks with just a couple of guitars or a ukulele and some vocal harmonies. Another great feature is the ability to bounce, swap or transfer tracks around with the press of a button. Example: I have my microphones plugged into inputs 2 and 3. When I get the take that I am happy with, I “bounce” those tracks over to Channels 4 and 5 and carry on (having now left tracks 2 and 3 to record on again.)

Zoom H24 24 channel digital recorder

The Zoom H24 has velocity sensitive drum pads and built in rhythms – and I never got anywhere near them. There are hundreds of effects for most electric stringed instruments and a wide variety of mastering algorithms for mix-downs that I could literally fill a page commenting on. Bottom line: If you are a singer or guitar player or podcaster who wants to produce broadcast ready materials or demo’s worthy of a listen with the pro’s, this could be the right tool for you.

In the following “sample” I used a single APEX microphone to record one lead vocal, two harmonies, 3 tracks of guitar picking or strumming, an electric bass track and a ukulele – there is at least one jarring rhythmic error in this track but you get the general idea. Singing and playing aside, it is pretty amazing what you can do quickly.

The manual is fairly helpful but you do need some background in the concepts of recording and mixing – and there are a few useful YouTube videos for getting started.

Break it to them gently – with the ZOOM H24 24-channel digital recorder

Break-it-to-them-gently-2018.mp3

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