6.26.2011

Cut the cake: Beach House rededication, Elmore State Park

Governor Schumlin and others at the rededication of the Beach House at Elmore State Park, 6/25/2011
A smattering of images from my covering this event at Elmore State Park yesterday for the Vermont State Parks system.

The original Beach House was a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and the governor's brief remarks focused on the parallels between then -- the Great Depression and the CCC program -- and now -- the present Great Recession and access to stimulus funds.   (Official press release here and some project images here.)

In weather related news, the day featured showers in the morning, then the weather broke for a bit, but more heavy rain fell during the night.  Can't do nothing about the weather... except complain and stay indoors.

6.22.2011

Leantos in the rain

Campsites at Brighton State Park in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom
No, I do not have a strange fetish involving taking photos of vacant campsites.  I signed up to be a volunteer photographer for the Vermont State Parks system again this summer.  It's an unpaid job that will get me out of the house and comes with a day use pass good at all parks, along with some camping credit.   The state parks use the images on interactive websites.

Now, however, there just needs to be a break in the weather:  We made a special trip, with reservations, to this particular park, and the weather was typical for this year so far, which is to say, gray and wet.  Needless to say there were very few campers in evidence.

The weathergirl on the television did make some recent allusions to a summer-like weather pattern developing so perhaps some warm sunny days will come in the not too distant future.

Summers in Vermont are short -- though, with climate change, are growing longer -- and it won't be too long before the days grow shorter, leaves begin to change, and there will be an autumnal chill in the air again.

6.12.2011

Completely random: Avalanche Lake, 2005

Avalanche Lake, near Keene, NY 8/21/2005.  Taken with a Canon A60 - my first digital camera.
I almost titled this post "Memories of blue skies" because this has been an epically wet spring so far, with few soft warm sunny days.  An unprecedented amount of rain has fallen and the weather pattern shows no signs of changing, perhaps this is becoming the new normal.  

6.09.2011

This is your life, and it's ending 140 characters at a time

OK, so I am not going to write about the latest poli-sex scandal du jour.

Keep private things private, eh? 
Last week, however, I attended a presentation in the big city of Burlington on the topic of creating compelling content for online consumption, based on a book called (naturally enough) Content Rules.  Included with the $60 admission fee was a copy of this tome... but my copy hasn't shown up in the mail yet.

It was a moderately interesting presentation and was a decidedly more engaging and involving environment than the insipid and uninspiring Vermont Business Expo which I had attended the week before.

I went this presentation for multiple reasons -- networking, it got me out of the house, I took the opportunity to put up posters around town for the upcoming Vermont Mountain Bike festival -- but also because, by any possible metric, my efforts in the social media sphere have been an abject failure:  Not a lot of Facebook friends, not a lot twitter followers, and not a lot of traffic to this blog.

For me to integrate more successfully into this brave new, intensely conversational and borderline exhibitionist social media world, I think some sort of personality transplant would be required...an attitude adjustment of the highest magnitude.

I would have to suddenly become interested in sharing much more online than I am currently willing to share, and also invest in a smartphone and carrying an Internet connection around with me wherever I go.

Maybe a little reticence is a good thing, however.  When I look at how some of these people use social media, I'm astonished, and not in a good way.  Here is a screen shot (taken 6/9/2011) of the twitter stream of one the presenters:
My small brain does not comprehend the value of 43k+ "tweets" 
Now, twitter is about five years old, so let's do some rough math:  5 years x 365 days/year x 16 hours of waking time = 29200 hours, so 44000 tweets / 29200 = 1.5 tweets per hour, 16 hours per day, 7 days a week.

And this back of the napkin calculation doesn't allow for weekends, holidays, or any personal downtime, nor did I waste time researching how long this person has actually been on twitter.

I am not sure where I am going with this, except that when I look at this activity, I don't see 43000+ bits of accumulated wisdom -- or even a man with a lot of friends -- I see triviality and distraction.

I don't think that 200 years from now some anthropologist will look at this digital record (if any record exists) for insight into the present age.  It won't be a futuristic version of, say, Boswell's London Journal, for example (and this is an inherently unfair comparison).  It seems to be something of no enduring value whatsoever.

If one pauses to consider that a 75 year lifespan is made up of 657000 hours, is tweeting 1.5 times per hour, 16 hours per day REALLY a good use of one's time?  What did humans do to communicate prior to the existence of all this technology?

(Astute readers will catch that the post title is a Fight Club reference.)

6.03.2011

Archilochus colubris

Plagues.  Floods of biblical proportions.  Looming economic collapse.  Endless wars.  At least there is an endless free airshow outside the kitchen window as ridiculously cocky and aggressive male hummingbirds (average adult weight:  3.1 grams) engage in a never ending game of 'the feeder is all mine'.

This is despite the fact that 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 cups of water, boiled together, would probably feed a flock of these birds for a month or more...

When I first moved to Waterbury (2006) seeing these birds was something of an infrequent occurence, but now they are common.  I wonder if succeeding generations have settled in the meadow out back, knowing that there is a reliable source of easy calories close at hand (or beak). 

A few more recent images here.