3.30.2007

Blue


Blue

....as I have noted previously, I like my camera. Taken with a tripod, natural light, & slow shutter speed.

3.29.2007

Grange Hall, Waterbury Center


Grange Hall, Waterbury Center, VT.

Taken late in the afternoon last week. The snow is mostly gone at lower elevations and the sun is much higher in the sky now.

3.27.2007

Pimping the blog

There were a couple of times this past winter when I wished I had a business card or something with my contact info to give to people I met. (Both instances showed up on this blog, one time was at the opening for Stefan Bumbeck, and the other was taking a telemark lesson, I told the instructor I had video of people skiing at the dam, and she was like, "No way!"...). So I had these little photo cards made up from a service on flickr, they just have my name, email, and blog address. It was kind of an extravagance but oh well. I don't have business cards from my employer which is fine by me. I didn't spend too much time taking the above photo so it didn't come out too well.

3.25.2007

Luna

I know I have posted images very similar to this one here previously but I continue to be amazed at what I can do with my camera, and I am learning what settings work best. I still think it's pretty cool.

3.24.2007

The photographic record of my Saturday

A series of photos from a Saturday morning back in my old stomping grounds in and around Burlington.

Breakfast at Sneakers in Winooski.

A haircut at Main St. Barbers -- that's not me getting clipped.

There was a demonstration against the war in Iraq in front of City Hall. I used it as an opportunity to take candid photos of people while I was waiting for my ride back to Waterbury.



The person who was searching for 'gay speedos' on this blog would enjoy this photo.


Some "Veterans Against the War" were present.

This speaker painted a grotesquely utopian picture of pre-invasion Iraq, ruled by Saddam.

I don't like the war in Iraq & I don't think it is ever going to solve anything. It is gross hubris to think that the United States has an obligation to put Iraqi society together again: It's not my problem if these people want to kill each other. I think it is obscene the way the current regime in Washington wants to fight this war without expecting any kind of sacrifice from those at home. If President Bush thinks the war (cornerstone of his eight-year presidency) is so important then why can't he look people in the eye and slap a big fat tax on gas to pay for it? And of course when it comes to providing wounded veterans with adequate health care... that's just another government program that Republicans are always bitching about.

3.23.2007

Absolutely, positively the last ski experience of 2006-07

Just a couple of images from skiing in Cotton Brook on Tuesday evening after work, the snow wasn't quite as good as my previous time there but it was still a fun couple of hours away from it all.

It was the vernal equinox and the changing of the seasons was clearly evident as there is now lots of open water on the river and the snowpack is diminishing day by day (almost hour by hour when the sun is out).


As I was heading back I saw some very large predator tracks of some sort, I don't know what animal made them, but they were quite large. The eastern coyote is actually a mongrel with lots of wolf genes apparently; whatever this was, was big -- enough to give me pause as I skied through the still woods in the twilight.


The winter started warm and balmy but eventually the snow did come and I spent a lot of time on my backcountry touring skis, and as the snow was deep, broke a lot of trail (image below taken 3/17). This is a very hard workout and I feel pretty good physically and am looking forward to starting to ride my bike to work again. I had a three month gym membership this winter but I am someone who would much prefer to be outside.


Other skiing posts -- the subject almost deserves its own label --

here, here, here, here, here , and here.

3.20.2007

Still winter in the backcountry

Skytop Trail, accessed via the Trapps trail network, Sunday March 18th. This photo was taken at about 2700 ft elevation.

It was a day of full-on winter conditions, lots of fresh snow, lots of falling snow, wind and blowing snow, and cold, the photo doesn't do it justice. The Skytop trail is a backcountry trail and as such isn't groomed or patrolled.

Our group (only three people) didn't have enough horsepower to break trail through the new deep snow so we turned back not too far into the trip. (We still had to climb from the lodge past the cabin and then into the woods, lots of elevation gain). I'd like to try it again sometime, maybe next year, and in less testing conditions. The wind was very harsh.

I did this on Sunday after also skiing at Little River (my winter playground) on Saturday, I went further than I should have (7 miles, breaking trail for about 1/3 of the loop) and had a show at the Flynn Theater to get to in the evening, so I looked at my watch at a point where I was very far from my car... and started motoring on my backcountry skis, I didn't stop for nothing, just hammering along through the new, deep snow.

The consequences of all this trail breaking on skis in the course of two days were that I was pretty wrecked on Monday when I crawled into work... it reminded me of my bike racing days when I would do race weekends down in southern New England and get back late on Sunday totally destroyed and would use Monday at work to simply recover.

I also have to say that a Trapps trail pass is $18 per day and that this is a shocking amount of money to pay for the privilege of using their trail system. They have reached my pain point and I used to ski there in the past but I won't much in the future.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a nice sunny day and I have already tossed my gear into the back of my car so I will go for one more ski in the Cotton Brook area after work. After that it is supposed to thaw again. It's about time...

3.18.2007

Crumb


I think this is one of the better images I have captured with my camera. I threw a piece of toast out the back door yesterday and this little guy seemed pretty happy with his find.

3.17.2007

The early bird gets the snowstorm

Another day, another snowstorm, a robin contemplates the wisdom of being the 'early bird.'


This crow (correction: the bird is a common grackle, crows don't have scary yellow eyes) looks rather more pleased with the situation.

In the space of ten days it has gone from being -18F, to almost 60F, and today there is a new foot of snow. Another weekend of skiing.

3.16.2007

Mt. Hunger summit video

Just a short video taken from the Mt. Hunger summit on 3/12/07. I deliberately turned off the wind filter on the camera so it would record more of what it is like to be on top of a mountain in a moderately strong wind... I have been in high places before in stronger winds than this.



From Mt. Hunger I bushwhacked over to White Rock from Mt. Hunger which was a kind of a silly thing to do as the snow was very deep and the trees concealed some impassable obstacles, ie, deep gullies with sheer sides. It's a very remote area and I was alone (as usual) and it is always at the back of my mind not to do something stupid and become immobilized because chances are that no one will come along to rescue me if required.


Then I punched through the evergreens on the top of White Rock and it was great cutting across the side of the mountain through open birch groves. Snowshoes are great. Three seasons of the year, something like this would be mucky and would involve fighting through lots of underbrush. But in the winter with deep snow it's just a smooth free fall down the mountain. The GPS track isn't complete because the batteries died, I think I need to purchase a new set of rechargeables.

3.14.2007

Fame but no web traffic: A mention on 802Online

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity -- Ecclesiastes

Cathy Resmer of 802Online (blog at Seven Days) likes some of the images that show up here, which I do appreciate, as she does have a public forum where she can highlight 'Vermont blogs of quality'. This week she showcased my little 'As clouds go by' video... Thanks.

I have been expending some mental energy lately trying to think of a strategy to make this blog more 'attractive' --- ie, draw more visitors. Unfortunately the traffic report for the last seven days shows the magnitude of the problem:

(btw Statcounter is an excellent free web tracking package, I like it. I wish blogger and Google Analytics worked better together, but they don't, so I have moved on.)

I don't know, I will keep the blog going, it is kind my hope that if someone from the other side of the world (not a bot crawling the web, indexing unread content) -- but a real person -- somehow came across it they would have a rather quirky, not touristy & saccharine, perspective on living in Vermont. I also use it as a public photo scrapbook because I really don't have patience to deal with the social aspects of flickr (and I am too cheap to buy the misnamed flickr "Pro" account). Lastly I do use it to try and keep my writing skills sharp even though I do notice some disconcerting tendencies in my aging brain's ability to string words together these days. And I know that much of the content that shows up here (snow falling, the sun rising, etc.) isn't exactly scintillating. It's kind of like watching paint dry.

And, recently, someone did come across this page and spent some time here. Unfortunately he (I assume this is the case) did not find what he was looking for:


Search terms this person used included "speedos", "gay speedos", "boy brazil", and "boyz1000". Hmmm, I don't quite know what to make of this.

3.11.2007

As Clouds Go By: Camels Hump from Mt. Hunger

Taken this afternoon. I climbed Mt. Hunger, then bushwhacked over to White Rock, then bushwhacked some more. I took some video from the Mt. Hunger summit and I turned off the wind filter on the camera's mic so it does convey a little bit of what it is like to be on top of a mountain in a ripping wind.

I am tired and hungry but I am posting this before I eat something which does give some idea of my skewed priorities.

And, here's video #1 from this hike, I put the camera down on a rock and let it record the clouds drifting by in the wind. The video speed is 4x and the music is from Twin Peaks.

3.10.2007

Time Lapse Sunrise

I really am a master of the boring and undramatic. This morning I was up at an unnaturally early hour, so I grabbed the camera & tripod, & voila, an instant video. It's a companion piece to my "Time Lapse Blizzard" video.

3.09.2007

Deer bedded down


Deer bedded down
Taken 3/9/07 at about 5:45 pm. It was twilight and I was on skis in the Cotton Brook area off Moscow Road in Stowe (near Nebraska Notch). The photo is kind of murky because it was taken with a slow shutter (1/10) speed and a high ISO which is a far from optimal combination for my camera.

It was a great night to be out on skis as the snow was really dense so it was possible to glide along across the fields without sinking in too much. I think that will be last time I have this experience for awhile as the thaw is supposed to start this weekend.


The GPS track:


Sunset -- I skied back out with a headlamp:

(note the coyote tracks, they clearly hang out here, there were coyote signs all over)

There are times where I complain about Vermont, the weather, the politics, the cost of being here, but I have to say that it is pretty cool to get out of work at 4:15 pm (later than I would have liked) and to be able to be on skis in a pretty remote spot within 10 minutes.

Cold Moon Setting

The view out my bedroom window this morning, the photo has lost some detail because it was taken through a (dirty) window as it was far too cold to go outside at 6:30 am -- another -18 F morning.
Writing about the weather is prosiac, mundane and boring but I try and live a relatively 'uninsulated' life -- it's not like I live in a yurt or something, but all things considered, I don't like sitting around passively absorbing 'content', I prefer to get outside and do something, and then come back and post ensuing pictures/video/gps tracks here. The weather (extremes of cold, heat, rain, snow, etc.) does impact this. Today is supposed to warm up quite a bit and I have visions of leaving work at 3:30 and skiing for a couple of hours -- it is supposed to thaw this weekend, so it might be my last backcountry excursion of the year.

It's all very exciting I know.

And I see that Vermont made the (ridiculously right wing) Opinion page of the Wall Street Journal today in a piece mocking the news that Burlington was voted the #1 Green City in the US in some publication. I tend to agree with the journal's rather sarcastic take on things because I think that Chittenden County is choking on cars and that what many people want from living in Vermont (ie, a big house with a big yard in the country, with a view of the mountains and the lake) is inherently destructive. I know very few people who consciously try and reduce the amount of miles that they drive (when I lived in Burlington, there were many times I took the College Street Shuttle downtown, and basically had the bus all to myself). And I don't know anyone who lives off the grid, which is obviously a more complicated thing to do. I know I am generalizing here but I do think that there is more to being a 'green city' than being able to buy organic arugla at City Market for $9/pound. Things have not reached a tipping point yet.

3.07.2007

Winter came late, but arrived with a vengeance

...last night was the coldest night of the year, by far. It was really harsh in the early evening as it was well below zero and there was a strong gusty wind. Then the wind died down and the temperature plummeted. There is still several feet of snow on the ground but things are finally supposed to start thawing out this coming weekend.


Mass-transit, Vermont style. The Waterbury-Stowe-Morrisville bus, which I took to work yesterday in quite Arctic conditions. If gas (currently $2.55/gallon) continues to increase in price it might make sense to take the bus to work once or twice a week. But I am already looking forward to starting to commute by bike again. And my car has been repaired so I will back to driving back and forth by myself again for awhile. I am such a hypocrite...if I was serious I would not be driving to work solo every day.

3.05.2007

Sunflower!

Just another badly needed splash of color. The weather (already grey and sullen) has turned bitterly cold and windy, which is unusual for this time of year. At least the sun climbs higher in the sky day by day and quickly lays waste to the high dirty snowbanks by the side of the road.

Look for awhile at the China Cat Sunflower
proud-walking jingle in the midnight sun
Copper-dome Bodhi drip a silver kimono
like a crazy-quilt stargown
through a dream night wind

Krazy Kat peeking through a lace bandana
like a one-eyed Cheshire
like a diamond-eye Jack
A leaf of all colors plays
a golden string fiddle
to a double-e waterfall over my back

Comic book colors on a violin river
crying Leonardo words
from out a silk trombone
I rang a silent bell
beneath a shower of pearls
in the eagle wing palace
of the Queen Chinee

3.04.2007

A temporary loss of Focus

As I have noted at various points in this blog, I am not much of a fan of cars. I really don't like driving, don't like paying for cars, don't derive any pleasure from maintaining them, etc.

With this in mind, I have managed to make it this far in life with only very rarely having a car loan. I'd rather drive something small and unassuming and PAID FOR than some flashy vehicle with lots of debt attached.

My current ride is a 2001 Ford Focus hatchback that I purchased on Sept. 8, 2001 (I remember the date, because of proximity to 9/11/01). I was working and I had received a large Internet-era severance payment from my previous employer so I was able to write a check and drive away with a 100% paid for new vehicle... which was very nice.

The car has been pretty good to me but now it is getting old and stuff is starting to break. Last winter I was cleaning snow off the windshield and I just touched the antenna and it broke off from corrosion. Several other little things have started to go wrong as well. Until Friday night, however, the car had never stranded me anywhere.

Friday was a messy snowy day here and I worked at home in the morning before finally driving in to work around 11:30. The roads were bad and I was questioning the wisdom of my choice of not putting on snow tires. I made it to work eventually, got stuck in the unplowed driveway, got out after it was plowed, and managed to get some work done.

Friday night it started snowing quite hard again and I was driving home on Rt 100 (busy road) and I was a couple of miles from office. I pressed on the accelerator and there was a clunk and it was if the pedal had broken off completely, the car didn't stall but I was tapping with my foot feeling for the pedal, which wasn't there, it was flush with the floor of the car.

It had been snowing most of the day and the plows hadn't really pushed back the snowbanks yet so I could only get the car about 3/4's of the way off the road. It was murky twilight and snowing hard and visibility sucked so I was having visions of being rear-ended or that a plow would come along and inadvertently demolish my little car.

Anyway with several people's help (I hitched a ride from some strangers, my girlfriend, my boss, etc.) my car did get safely towed to a garage where the accelerator linkage (apparently a cable) will be repaired. Until then I will be taking the Waterbury-Stowe commuter bus back and forth. Taking the bus does appeal to my enviro-political sensibilities but the weather is supposed to be viciously cold and windy (seems like it has been a long winter) so I sure that there will be a certain amount of suffering involved -- the bus stop is some distance from my house.

The day after: My car @ Waterbury Center Auto Repair,
they are good guys, I recommend them!


And, since this post has been about entropy, here are some images from hacking around on skis in the woods yesterday:

Old shack

? I have no idea what this was, before the snow demolished it. Impressive iron box.

A very gloomy grey "sunset"

3.03.2007

Storm's Aftermath

A rather incongruous sign in Waterbury Center today, after about a foot of wet heavy snow yesterday. I went to Green Mountain Camera & purchased a used polarizing filter to play with and was testing it out. GMC is pretty cool, it is kind of like a camera museum as they have a lot of used gear of every age and format. If I ever wanted to experiment with film I could get an inexpensive 35mm camera there from the old days before electronics and plastics.


I like the camera I have (Canon Powershot s3is) but it is kind of plasticy and cheap feeling. My original point and shoot Canon A60 is made of metal and feels much more substantial. Lately I have been using the A60 again and for web stuff the resolution is more than adequate.

Later this weekend I will post the story of my misadventures getting home last evening in the snow as my six year old car broke down in a very inopportune location (it died) and had to be towed. It was a long and somewhat frantic night...

3.02.2007

Changes day to day

The scene yesterday morning:


The scene today as a messy winter storm moves in. It won't be as big as the Valentine's Day blizzard and hopefully it will be more snow than sleet and freezing rain.


The changes in the weather mirror changes in my personal life. Yesterday I was in a 'relationship' with someone -- which had started in Sept. 2006 -- and today I am reverting back to my natural solitary state. There were many issues between us and it may have been a fundamental clash of expectations but still it makes me sad. I am not from the 'get naked' school of blogging so I won't say more than that.

I will say, however, that my girlfriend disliked this blog and despised the time I invested in it -- seeing it as an exercise in obsessive self-absorption; I suppose I am guilty as charged. I am beginning to see this blog not as a completely open-ended ongoing project but as something that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I'm not sure that the benefits of keeping it going outweigh the tendency to exaggerate certain of my personality traits that are probably better left concealed. And, one of the very few consistent themes that runs through it is my general dubiousness about online social networking.

That being said, the blog does serve as a little bit of server space of my own (or really Google's) where I can post prosaic pictures, boring videos, trip reports and homages to artists that I like. A few people have let me know they like it so there are some upsides to keeping it going as well.