Nothing ruins a ride like a bear in the middle of the road. Luckily I didn’t have to reverse course as something spooked it and it ran off into the field. If you have sharp eyes you can maybe detect it running into the woods on the left.

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Due to travel, weather, and illness, its been a month since my last bike ride. It felt great to be back in the saddle.

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Spending Mother’s day doing Spring chores at the lake. Its so great to be back and enjoying lake time again.

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MNUFC looking truly awful tonight. Lucky escape midweek, but tonight is just boring soccer.

Unscheduled stop in Acapulco due to a medical emergency of a fellow passenger. Sitting in the harbor waiting to transfer the patient. It looks like it would make a nice stop.

Life at the foot of a Volcano. Taken from Cerro de la Cruz in Antigua Guatemala. I would love to learn some new post processing techniques to remove a bit of haze.

Cloud forest hike in Costa Rica. A good lesson in biodiversity.

Where does all our stuff come from? Going through the Canal.

I grew up in farm country so I’m pretty familiar with how food gets to the grocery store. But what about all the other stuff we buy at all the other stores? Well here is a clue for you…

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One thing this trip through the panama canal has made me realize is just how amazing, complex, and expensive the global shipping system is. Have you ever wondered how much it costs for a ship to go through the Panama canal? Take a guess? Our cruise ship cost about $370,000 and larger ships can cost over a million!

I can’t even begin to guess the value of everything in those containers but just think about it. Cars, wood, electronics, furniture, carpet, gas, oil, grain, it all makes its way around the world in giant ships. In Colon there is a huge duty free area where buyers go and order containers of various things. Oh, I like these shorts I’ll take 2 containers of medium 1 of large, etc…

Going through the Panama canal you really see where this all comes together, literally, to fit through a bunch of locks that are a thousand feet long and 160 feet wide. Plus the new locks for the even bigger ships.

Our route through the canal started at the Gatun locks. These take you up 85 feet to lake Gatun. You can see our ship the Celebrity Millenium in the background just entering the first lock. The white and blue ship is a car carrier heading the opposite direction.

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Here we are in the lock looking backward you can see a tanker heading out.

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We then travelled across the lake (formed by damming the Chagres river) to the Pedro Miguel locks which stepped us down about 50 feet and then on the the Miraflores locks which took us down to the Pacific Ocean.

This sequence just shows us at the Miraflores locks dropping down the final step before we head out. IMG 1129

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Panama City in the background.

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The whole thing is such an engineering marvel. And not done with new technology! Much of the canal has not changed since it was built over 100 years ago. No pumps are used, it is all gravity fed. Which means that in order for the locks to work they are draining the lake. Of course it is refilled by the river, but each ship uses about 52 million gallons of water to traverse the locks. The rainy season has not been very rainy this year so the lake level is down which means some ships can’t go through, or they have to unload some cargo before they go. One interesting addition that helps conserve water is that now we can use water from the side going down to halfway fill the side going up. This is a nice bit of recycling that saves about 50% of the water.

In the middle of the Gatun locks. Right next to a tanker.

A Day in Panama

After docking in Colon we joined our tour group for the day to see some of the sites in Panama. This tour included stops at the new locks – Wide enough for the “neo” class ships that do not fit in the original canal. It also included a stop and boat ride on Lake Gatun where we visited the village of some indigenous people and looked for wildlife along the shore.

I had this idea (probably from childhood) that the Panama canal was one long canal. Which is not true at all. The canal is actually a series of locks that bring the ship up into lake Gatun then you cross lake Gatun and go down some more locks to bring you back to the ocean. So, the constraints on the ships are really the size of the locks. In 2016 they opened a new set of locks at each end to support the really large ships. Now the main constraint is really on the depth of the water in the lake.

Here is a view of both sets of locks on the Atlantic side:

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The left side is the new lock which runs one way, They go one way for half the day and then the other way the other half of the day. the right side is the old locks which run both ways most of the time, but they can shut it down and switch to one way traffic if they have maintenance to do.

Here is a view of the village we stopped at.

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Day at sea today. Spinning class, pickleball, and glorious time to just read. Fun science fact I learned. The distance to the horizon in km is the square root of the number of meters above the water times 3.57. So we can see about 17 km from our room

A nice addition to cruising is pickleball at sea! We just got on the ship so its too early to tell if the court will be busy. Playing on a metal floor definitely gives a different feel.

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Runestone Academy at SIGCSE 2023. If you are in Toronto for the Technical Symposium, please stop by and say hello!

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I’m happy to say that we received good news from the IRS in the mail. Runestone Academy is officially approved as a public charity under section 501©(3) !

Watching Minnesota United on a snowy field in mostly white kit does not make for great TV viewing! ⚽️

Having additional insulation blown into the attic today… I can hear them walking over my head. I wonder how often they misstep and come through the ceiling.

Engineering 📷

Lots of cool engineering in my life, but not always so photogenic. I really enjoyed this visit to the Vicksburg National Military park to see the USS Cairo. One of seven shallow-draft City Class river ironclads. So many interesting engineering problems to solve!

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Tile 📷

Our bathroom remodel is finished. The new tile looks great. Much better than the giant unused bathtub that used to take up this space.

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Zip 📷

A lovely night for some sous vide steaks. A ziploc works almost as good as a vacu-seal bag. Seemed like a good entry for the march photo challenge.

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Solitude 📷

When it is cold and the dead of winter and you are at your lake cabin and nobody else is around…

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