9.30.2006

Pictures of my own

I tried to take some pictures last night of the sunset on the surrounding mountains but didn't have too much success. There are two posts because I used Google's awful "Hello" software for the upload, it works much better than blogger's upload utility, but there is very little control over formatting. This whole software setup blows but it's free so I can't complain too loudly. Plus it's not like anyone is reading this...


Cows beneath Camels Hump, wrapped in clouds. A couple of miles from where I live.

Mt. Hunger (bare rock on left) in setting sun as rain moves out, 9/29.

a very cool picture

I looked at the Drudge Report this morning and the site has a link to a very cool picture on the UK Daily Mail website, a French astrophotographer managed to get a picture of the space station (big waste of money) and the shuttle (a doomed, obsolete technology) silhouetted against the sun. The set up must have had lots filtering to shoot into the sun like that (which looks like an enormous egg yolk). Check it out.

In a similar vein I've enjoyed reading about the Mars Rovers because at a time when so much technology is used for either bad ends or completely frivolous purposes (we live in a bored culture, needing more and more distraction from the essential vacuity of everything) it's fun to read about some relatively low-tech dune buggies that, like a Timex(r), take a licking and keep on ticking... props to the engineering team behind these machines, they have kept functioning long after they were supposed to expire. The original shelf life of the rovers was supposed to be 90 days...and they are still driving around on Mars.

9.26.2006

where I was when: 26 September 1982



On September 26, 1982, I went on 110km bike ride (not a race) in Gartringen, Germany with the local bike club (RV = "Radverein" Rad, bike, + verein, association). I know this because at the end of this event I received the small pewter plate above with the date... and the plate now hangs in my kitchen.

I lived in Germany for all four years of high school and two consequences of this were a) that I didn't get a drivers license (let alone a car) until my junior year of college b) In high school, I took a bike everywhere, or public transportation...

These influences are still with me today. The not having a car in high school experience meant that I missed out on the whole adolescent car=freedom thing. In my mind, cars=expense & aggravation. I think people should feel guilty about driving: So many bad things come from the car culture. Pollution sprawl & money for fanatics in Middle East just to name a few. I would find it really interesting to live in a real urban area where cars are just a nuisance and living without one is more easily possible.

But now I live about 8.5 (mostly uphill) miles from my job and am thought eccentric because I persist in riding my bike to work even though it takes a pretty big commitment and a certain fatalistic acceptance of the possibility of getting clipped by a vehicle... it is a busy road, and people drive way too fast and aggressively.

And I have to say that when I was in high school I went for some really impressively long rides by myself in a foreign country and I would bring a small amount of money (like 10-20 DM -- these were pre-Euro days) and I don't recall that my parents ever particularly batted an eye... 'come back whenever'. They had their own circumstances to deal with I guess.

I also remember that once I got it into my head to ride from Gartringen (west of Stuttgart) through the Black Forest to the Rhine River (ie, the French border) & back in one day. Those were the days... now with the Internet it is possible to look up housing possibilities online and it would be quite interesting to go back with a bike, stay in an inexpensive guesthouse, and ride on some of the same roads again.

9.25.2006

Family Reunion/Funhouse




I went to a small family reunion this weekend at my sister's house in Maine. It was the kind of event that I really don't look forward to but once I got there it was OK and it was good to see some folks who I rarely spend time with. I have an uncle who is in the National Guard and he is halfway through a deployment in Afganistan and he was there... which was nice (he flies back on Wed.). His 'job' over there is to command a gun truck in convoys off the base, completely wrapped in body armor in 120 degree summer weather.

Like in every family there are some pretty tragic stories that have to be dealt with (madness, addiction and despair) but all in all it was a pretty positive event.

Sunday I went to the fair at Rockingham NH with my sister and my niece which was a good thing to do with my camera. It had been a few years since I went to a big fair and walked around a midway with the usual cast of carnies and off-beat characters. What a way to make a living... There are more pictures on my flickr stream (link below).

9.22.2006

Sunset, Mt. Hunger, 9/22

Today I managed to skip out of work at 2:00 pm and after running to the camera shop for some stuff I hiked up Mt. Hunger, a 3500 ft mountain overlooking Waterbury Center and very close to where I live. I took over 100 pictures most of which sucked but oh well that's why digital is great, erase the media and start over.

Sunset from the top of the mountain, looking out over the Champlain Valley (c. 30 miles away) and the Adirondacks (Camels Hump is on the left):


I have lots of pictures of mushrooms for some reason:

9.18.2006

Arachnid



More fauna from the field behind my condo.

"Spider: 1 : any of an order (Araneae syn. Araneida) of arachnids having the abdomen usually unsegmented and constricted at the base, chelicerae modified into poison fangs, and two or more pairs of abdominal spinnerets for spinning threads of silk for various uses (as in making cocoons for their eggs or webs to catch prey) -- Merriam Webster online...

9.16.2006

Waterbury photo essay #2: More pictures of the dam

More pictures of Little River State Park, Waterbury VT.


The spillway is not open to the public...even though there is no water in it right now.




The powerhouse:


Three gulls in a row.


Big panorama of the area.

A barrel full of guns / Waterbury photo essay #1

Saturday in Waterbury Vermont. Not much to do except wander through the flea market on Rt 2 and then try out the camera at Little River State Park.



These guns were real but not functional, for parts and decoration only. Interestingly, they were made by now long defunct manufacturers in New England. There were lots of old tools at this market as well, made in USA, not anymore...


The reservoir is very low because of ongoing work on the dam; the Army Corps of Engineers has been working on it for years.


Top of the dam, not zoomed, I think it is 1800 ft wide.

And at full zoom:

9.15.2006

Chasing Butterflies

A sign of fall in Vermont is the appearance of Monarch butterflies. Today I brought my new camera to work (an extra 15 oz in my bike bag) and I could see them in field behind the barn so I snuck out for 15 minutes. I still have a lot to learn about the new camera but it takes some startling images, a lot of detail is lost uploading the pictures to the web:

A rather tattered flower that will soon lose its color and fade away:



Butterflies & Goldenrod:







I think this last image is my favorite. At a time when it seems like all the news is bad news it is somehow refreshing to see something so beautiful. And in this time when the human species engages in so many different kinds of destructive behavior it is humbling to consider that all the engineers and technology in the world could not come up with a device to mimic what a little insect does: Migrate 3,000 miles or more...

9.10.2006

Thoughts on the Sept. 11 anniversary: "Relativism" vs. "Horrorism"

I suppose that Sept. 11th is "Kennedy Assassination Moment" of my generation. I will always remember where I was when I heard the news... At the time I was working for a doomed telecom consulting firm that had a large (1/2 the staff) layoff on Sept 10, 2001. The company had contracts with the Port Authority in NY and had done a survey of telecom assets at the World Trade Center. So when I came to work on September 11, the office was already very subdued because of the layoffs the day before. As soon as the first plane hit the WTC an engineer in New York called the office with the news. The remaining staff spent the rest of the day watching the events unfold (what a cold impersonal phrase: We were watching thousands of people die violently) on a old television dragged up from a workout room in the basement with a coat hanger as an antenna.

Another memory I have is of how beautiful the weather was (very clear blue skies, warm, no wind) and the eerie silence in Burlington caused by the shutdown of the airport in the days afterward.

I am a graduate of a well known liberal arts college, something I have lots of ambivalence about (this subject could provide endless blog fodder), and something that really drove me crazy about the experience was the emphasis on faux-diversity, political correctness, whole-hearted acceptance of liberal orthodoxies, etc.

There always was a willingness in this environment to spout off on the big issues of the day, quite loudly, and in a very moralizing fashion. This moralizing, however, stopped when it came to any kind of personal behavior, where it was very much anything goes: Very little in this regard would be condemned.

This dichotomy drove me to distraction. It was such a relativistic environment: The one thing that could get an individual into trouble, was spouting off (in word or deed) against the prevailing sexual/racial mores. That would bring the full weight of the administration crashing down on some hapless miscreant.

In this hothouse post-adolescent environment, there was a marked reluctance to condemn other societies, it was a very politically correct, walking on eggshells kind of atmosphere. An example of this would be a quote from the German prime minister today:

"In the fight against international terror ... respect for human rights, tolerance and respect for other cultures must be the maxim of our actions, along with decisiveness and international cooperation,"

I will go on record and publicly state that I have no 'tolerance and respect' for the diseased corrupt societies of the Middle East. There is a certain lack of willingness to call a spade a spade... These are cultures that sit around teaching children to read the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and glorifying horrifying violence (snuff videos) and engaging in fratricidal sectarianism. It has little to do with colonialism or imperialism... people create their own realities.

Now I have lots of issues with what goes on in America today (hurtling towards the Apocolypse without outside help) but I find it personally insulting that my existence is threatened by a bunch of ignorant, bigoted, and incredibly sexist men from wild and ungovernable tribal areas of Pakistan... just about the most backwards place on earth.

Anyway Martin Amis had a very long essay on these subjects in Sunday's Guardian and it is worth checking out, parts are actually pretty funny, where he talks about the sexual motives behind all of this... Age of Horrorism (long, three parts).

And Christopher Hitchens printed this catalog of actrocties in today's WSJ:

In the past five years, I have either registered or witnessed or protested at
or simply "observed" the following:
(1) The reopening of a restaurant in Bali, where several dozen Australian holidaymakers and many Indonesian civilians
had earlier been torn to shreds. (2) The explosion of a bomb at a Tube station
in London which is regularly used by two of my children. (3) The murder of a
senior Shiite cleric outside his place of worship in Iraq. (4) The attempt to
destroy the Danish economy--and to torch Danish embassies and civilians--as a
consequence of the publication of a few caricatures in the Danish press. (5) The
murder of the U.N. envoy to Baghdad: a heroic Brazilian named Sergio Vieira de
Mello, as vengeance (according to his murderers) for his role in shepherding
East Timor to independence. (6) The near-successful attempt to blow up the
Indian parliament in New Delhi, and two successful attempts to disrupt the
commerce and society of Mumbai. (7) The destruction of the Golden Dome in
Samara: a place of aesthetic as well as devotional importance. (8) The bombing
of ancient synagogues in Tunisia, Turkey and Morocco. (9) The evisceration in
the street of a Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, and the lethal threats that
drove his Somali-born colleague, a duly elected member of the Dutch parliament,
into hiding and then exile. (10) The ritual slaughter on video of a Jewish
reporter for this newspaper.

9.09.2006

Moon over Waterbury



A picture of the moon over Waterbury tonight. Perhaps in 28 days or so if the weather cooperates I will do a night hike on Camels Hump and will bring a small tripod.

9.07.2006

hypocrisy? or is it just me?

I was reading Peter Freyne's blog at 7 Days and this item about a global warming march in Burlington on Labor Day caught my eye:

I got my copy of the pledge in a nice folder handed out by Marijke Unger, a "media officer" for Greenpeace-sponsored projecthotseat.org. Marijke flew in from Greenpeace in Denver, she said. She's a Middlebury College grad. Damn, they're everywhere!


Now did "Marijke" with her roughly $120K Middlebury education ever pause to consider just how much petroleum was consumed and carbon injected into the atmosphere so she could hand out flyers at an event in Burlington Vermont? How many of the people (1000) at this march own & drive cars? How many families with multiple cars? How many SUVs? How many carpoolers? How many people drive 20+ miles to get to work?

I'm a hypocrite too because today was a perfectly nice day and I didn't take a bike to work but at least I make a small effort and hats off to Peter Freyne who is a guy who is pretty serious about using a bike as transportation around town.

But until people make some hard choices on an individual level not much will change (or, more people: less resources: market forces will help take care of the problem.)

9.04.2006

Burlington Criterium photos

Just some pictures from today's races in downtown Burlington. I was only supposed to work the race for an hour or so but wound up going from 12:30 to 6:30 pretty much flat out. But the people I worked with (doing prize distribution) are very cool and organized and there were scads of people I knew there so it was pretty much like old times.

I did sneak in a few attempts at taking pictures but I was always hurried and never had time to just sit down and figure out the new camera. As I have read in various reviews, the images are pretty noisy. That is a limitation of this camera but maybe some settings would better minimize this? I will have to experiment.

The little girl holding the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. bear is pretty classic.



The realtor who acted as my 'buyer's agent' when I moved to Waterbury is in the spotted (KOM) jersey in the 3s race:



An early lap of the P-1/2 race:

9.03.2006

Clover

another example....

Very luscious

The new camera has a killer super macro mode, a single blackberry looks like a swollen bunch of grapes.

The Waterbury, Vermont Raptor Snack Bar

Testing my new camera, with a big 12x zoom lens and much more resolution than my old Powershot A60 (3x zoom & 2 megapixels, megapixels are not a good measure of a camera's capabilities, but 2 megapixels is pretty limiting when it comes to printing...there isn't enough information in the image to support larger prints).

There is a powerline running through the field behind my condo and Waterbury's pigeons (these birds really are ex-urbanites: I wonder what attracts them to this area) hang out there in the morning. Hopefully they provide food for the local raptor population, I am someone who thinks of pigeons as basically 'rats with wings'.



And just a shot of rain and puddles from the walkway in front of my place.



If I ever daydream about racing my bike again I could consider that I am inside and warm and dry, drinking coffee and listening to VPR, playing with image manipulation instead of suffering on a bike. As I write this (9:20 am EDT) the Mad River stage of the GMSR is starting. It's about 50 degrees and intermittent heavy rain showers are falling. There's lots of climbing and descending in this race which means that it will be a pretty miserable couple of hours for the riders. It will be cold, wet and dangerous on the descents for sure.

I also see that the Pro/1-2 event was cancelled yesterday: I wonder what the story is? The results of this stage were nullified last year as well. This does not bode well for the race in the future. There's too much traffic and not enough toleration of racing for this kind of thing to run successfully. (The egotism and bad behavior of bike racers is also a major contributing factor.)

9.02.2006

Retail therapy, continued


I bought this in a funky used bookstore in Burlington today, it is an old label that was never affixed to an orange crate (maybe it was a proof?). It's old & colorful and will brighten my kitchen when I have it framed. I am sick of wandering through box stores full of crap made in China (nothing against the Chinese, but aisles and aisles of useless crap is just too depressing) but I thought the graphic was interesting and I don't mind killing an hour in a used bookstore. I am getting adept at buying frames from the box stores... and then having prints rematted at the local Waterbury frame shop...which is giving me good service and great prices.

Then on the way home I was in the box stores again and I went into Circuit City and they had the Canon 3s IS Powershot digicam on sale for $379 and I had a $40 coupon (from changing addresses)... and so I whipped out my 0% interest credit card and bought one.

More on this acquisition tomorrow. But the image above was taken with the new camera in less than ideal lighting conditions.

68 miles not driven


My bike 'parked' at my office (which is an old barn). The title of the post is a reference to the fact that I rode to work 4 days this past week, at about 17 miles per day... "68 miles not driven".

I have been assiduously commuting to work by bike. This is my small act of rebellion against climate change, sprawl, crazed fanatics in oil producing nations (and not just Arab nations: What's up with Hugo Chavez?) etc. plus I am terribly out of shape so 8.5 miles of mostly gentle uphill every morning is better than getting no exercise at all.

Vermont has a reputation for being quiet and bucolic but that isn't really true of Rt.100 which is the shortest way to get to work. It is a rather narrow and kind of curvy road with lots of traffic going way too fast. Over the years I have seen at least five accidents on this road and I didn't even drive it that often before I moved out here. People go way too fast and try and turn across traffic and it doesn't work.

I am still kind of a hypocrite (I will drive at least 150 miles this weekend, and it's not like I live off the grid -- though that would be an interesting project) but it's a small start. Another benefit is that it saves significant dollars, I have noticed this from commuting by bike before... driving is expensive.

9.01.2006

2006 GMSR starts today

www.gmsr.info. I haven't been involved with the race at all this year but I will be downtown on Monday working for the criterium in a very small way.

I hope that it is a safe race and that there are no bad interactions with racers and traffic because that is always is a possiblity and usually ends badly for the rider...

Criterium, BMW sliding through the corner onto College St.



John Funk impassively shattering the masters field in the prologue.



Johanna Buick from New Zealand



Finishers on top of Applachian Gap