Friday, November 30, 2007

PhotoHunters: Red

I've been named the PhotoHunt site of the day. Thank you tnchick.

See more PhotoHunters here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

PhotoSharks: Portrait

Pensive JT
Sassafras Mama's son JT in a quiet moment on Cape Cod this summer.

See more PhotoSharks here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

LensDay: Futuristic

The Stata Center at MIT

Take a good look at this building. To me it looks like something out of Dr Seuss. The construction was not easy. Many of the techniques were untested. You can read about the construction in Building Stata.

MIT is frustrated with what they have called "design flaws" in the building. Frustrated enough that they are suing the architect, Frank Gehry. You can read about the suit here. What gets me about this is that I expect MIT chose Gehry because he pushes the envelope. This building is eye-catching, particularly in the sea of red brick that is Kendall Square. So, MIT chose this design and architect so that they could get a building which will be written about in architecture magazines and texts for years to come. They went into the process knowing that the construction would be tricky and would require the development of new techniques, or at least they should have. Now a couple of years later the building is leaking. MIT is suing the architect because their cutting edge building isn't holding together like a standard rectangular box. It seems to me that if you ask for cutting edge you should expect to need a few bandages, but that's just my opinion.

The good news is that I can just sit back and enjoy the building without worrying about the suit, or the leaks.

More LensDay here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Moody Monday: Unnatural

Punk Tree

More Moody Monday here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

PhotoSunday: J

D Jumping

N Jumping

J is for jump.
D, top, and N trying out the trampolines at Wakanda Summer 2006.

More PhotoSunday here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday Challenge: Black and White

Bridge on the Charles River in South Natick.
Taken October 21st.

I'd intended to provide a link to the colored version, but just discovered that I don't have it online and since I'm "over the river and through the woods" I don't have it available to upload. You can see a similar shot here. I'll try and remedy this oversight when I get home this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

See more Thursday Challenge here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

LensDay: Family

S and D

My sister-out-law Shelley and her son D.
There's a more serious picture of them here.
Taken on Cape Code in July.
More LensDay here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Challenge: History

Chichen Itza Columns
Columns at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.
Part of the area labeled "Group of the Thousand Columns" on the map you'll find here.
Taken November 9, 2004.

More Tuesday Challenge here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Adventure Haiku

small boy joins father
climbing small mountain
giant adventure

The picture was taken by my brother at the top of Baker Mountain near Saranac Lake, New York last July. This was N's first mountain. He's already done another.
Bend in the River
paddle propels me
toward adventure ahead
around rivers bend

These haiku were inspired by this week's prompt, adventure, at One Deep Breath.

Monday Morning Haiku

grey morning, breeze brings
scent of snow to my nostrils
winter approaches


single snowflake falls
panicking driver ahead
traffic slows to crawl


washing instructions
on reversible fleece jacket
turn inside out. Huh?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

PhotoSunday: I

I is for ice.

I couldn't resist adding this detail.
Taken on the Assabet River, November 12th.

More PhotoSunday here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shutterday: Neck

Giraffe on the carousel at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
taken in March 2007

See more Shutterday here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

LensDay: Autumn

Fall Abstract

Autumn leaves reflected in the Charles River.
I'm quite fond of the abstractness of this.
Taken October 21st in South Natick.

More LensDay here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

End of a Near Perfect Weekend: Assabet River Paddle

The middle of last week the weather reports were predicting a break in the cold weather for Monday. When thinking about how to spend my long weekend I decided that I'd squeeze in another paddle before I put the kayak away for the winter. Monday sounded like the best time for this since the reports were calling for temperatures in the 60s.

The reports were wrong. We have yet to see the warm up that is still being predicted. But with temps in the 40s yesterday I decided to put on as many layers as I could and put the boat in the water. Polypro long johns, dry suit pants, insulated socks, three polypro layers on top, a fleece jacket, flannel hat, and full finger paddle gloves were the outfit of the day.

I decided to explore the Assabet River in Concord. The picture above shows the Sudbury River (to the left) and the Assabet River (to the right) where they join to form the Concord River. For this trip I used the same launch point which I used for my Concord River paddle. The Assabet was a new river for me. I've paddled both the Concord and the Sudbury several times, but had never been further than a few yards up the Assabet.

Assabet River 2It was a gloomy day but there was no rain. There's not much color left on the trees. This section of the river runs through a wooded area with occasional houses, most set well back from the river.

The river was mostly calm with a few areas of faster moving water. I am frequently entertained by the patterns created by reflections and this trip was no exception.

As I worked my way up the river I took a number of pictures of reflections.


Reflection 3

RapidsIt was by and large a quiet paddle. I had the brief company of a couple of dogs, a hawk and a few ducks. Finally I came upon this obstruction which signaled the end of the paddle.

I also happened upon irrefutable evidence that the paddling season is over for me.
Your eyes are not deceiving you, that's ice. Naturally occuring at the edge of the river. It is definitely time to put the boat away.

On the way back to the launch site I was contemplating taking a picture of the plastic coyotes (they're supposed to scare away the geese) when out of the corner of my eye I caught movement. Looking over I saw these two white tail deer. They stayed still while I paddled away.
Concord River

Now I just have to wait for the snow so I can strap on the snowshoes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

PhotoSunday: H


See more PhotoSunday here.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is not only Veteran's Day (or veterinarian's day as I called it as a child) it is also my birthday. That's me above. And I'm famous. As a fund raising event the writer of my favorite on-line comic auctioned off the opportunity to be part of the strip. Today is my day to star in it. Head on over to Barkeater Lake to see my 15 minutes of fame. (Note: if you are reading this after today you will need to follow the link to the comic's archive and click on Nov. 11 to see it).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Left or Right

I am right handed. There is no doubt about this. I write with my right hand, I bat right handed, and I throw right handed. The only thing I have ever done exclusively with my left hand is play my French horn. Even with this unquestioned dominance learning to write in cursive legibly was one of the more difficult tasks of my childhood.

I am old enough that handwriting was a required part of the elementary curriculum. The handwriting curriculum of choice in my elementary school was the Palmer Method. About 15 minutes of each school day was spent doing handwriting exercises. The exercise I remember most clearly was writing loops like you would use to make Os. Line after line of loops.

Despite the best efforts of my teachers I had hideous handwriting. My writing was small and pinched to the point where it was illegible. My fourth grade teacher took this on as a challenge. She was going to improve my handwriting if it killed her, or me. Instead of the usual 15 minutes of handwriting, I was assigned to do 30. Slowly but surely this extra time began to have an impact. My handwriting slowly but surely was approaching legibility.

When your handwriting was deemed acceptable you were presented with a certificate that announced to one and all your membership in the "Golden Pen Club". I don't remember when this became the carrot of my efforts, but at some point it became a real possibility that I would attain membership. When I finally achieved the necessary skill and received my certificate I was very proud. I'm pretty sure my parents still have it.

When I was in sixth grade another handwriting challenge entered my life. One of my classmates was doing a research project on handedness with her classmates as her guinea pigs. Each night for about a month we were required to write 25 lines or so of text with our non-dominant hand. The only restriction was that we could not do our regular homework with our non-dominant hand - to save our teacher's sanity I'm sure. I don't remember how much improvement I made in writing with my left hand during this time.

I still do most everything with my right hand, but if pressed I can write clearly enough with my left hand to be understood. It won't get me another "Golden Pen Club" certificate but it will get me through in a pinch.

You can find more Sunday Scribblings here.

PhotoHunters: Flexible


More PhotoHunters here.

See It Sunday: Tiny

Dogwood Berries
Berries on our dogwood tree after a rain.

More See It Sunday here.

Last Year

St PaulA year ago today I was in St. Paul, Minnesota finishing up a week of training for work. Across the street from the training is the Landmark Center. It's a wonderful old building, a former post office and courthouse. Inside it houses a bunch of museums. One day I spent my lunch hour investigating. There's a great collection of old pianos and harpsichords in the basement, and I was almost late getting back to class when I stopped in at the American Association of Woodturners gallery. The exhibit that was on display was called "Step Up to the Plate". It contained pieces created for the annual meeting of the AAW, which was held in Louisville, Kentucky home of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat company. It was an amazing collection of primarily baseball themed work.

Schroeder and LucyWork was being done in the park area outside the Landmark Center while I was there. If I remember correctly from my first visit to St. Paul it used to just be grass and pathways. They had added several pieces of sculpture celebrating the work of Charles Schulz, a St. Paul native. Included were Charlie Brown and Snoopy (you can see them in the lower right corner of the first picture), Schroeder and Lucy, and looking over a short wall Linus and Sally.

I had some time between the end of the class and my flight home, so I wandered a little in St. Paul. A few blocks from here is a wonderful artist's co-op (Tilsner Artist Co-op). I love places like that so that was on my list of places to stop before I left. I wandered around looking at the wonderful pieces. I found that I kept coming back to one photograph. Two, three, four times I went back to look at it. Finally I decided that I had to bring home a copy. It's a photograph by Jeffrey Hansen taken on the shore of Lake Superior. You can see it here. It's still waiting to be framed (it is matted) - as are many things in our house. It makes me smile everytime I see it. I'm very glad I took the leap and brought it home with me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Haiku Grandmaster

To my complete and total surprise I have been crowned haiku grandmaster by Xinher. This is based on the poems posted here. You can see all of the entries here.

The truly entertaining part of this is that the decision came down to Amy or me. I have consoled the runner up.

Small Rant

Thank you to the person who didn't return the loaner car to the tire store this morning. Because of you I have had to alter my plans for my day. I started the day with a moderately long list of errands to run, with getting my tires replaced firmly in the middle. I'd arranged for to use the loaner car so that I could run errands and then enjoy the rest of my 4 day weekend. Errands are so much easier to do on a weekday.

I'd expected that my visit to the Registry of Motor Vehicles this morning was going to be the worst part of the day. (In all honesty it wasn't that bad. I was in and out in less than 30 minutes.)

The guys at the tire store apologized profusely that they didn't have a car to loan me. I'm not upset with them. They have no control over the manners of their customers. And they gave me a ride home so I can spend the couple of hours until my car is ready productively, not that reading my book for a couple of hours wouldn't be fun. But reading at home is much more comfortable than reading in the waiting area of the tire store. And they're going to come pick me up when my car is ready.

I do hope that no catastrophic accident has befallen the person who didn't return the car. I don't wish that upon anyone. Roads full of nails maybe, personal injury no.

Well since I'm home I'm going to head to the workshop and see if I can kick up some sawdust.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chilly Morning

Frosted Leaf

There was enough frost on the cars this morning to require scraping. This picture was taken yesterday.

Thursday Challenge: Transparent

Water Under the Bridge
I took this in 2005 while snowshoeing at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary.
My second favorite "transparent" photo is here.

More Thursday Challenge here.

New Lamp

New LampAs Amy is well aware my ability to wake up in the morning and my mood are greatly affected by light. Several years ago Amy bought me a sunrise alarm clock which was a welcome addition to our bedroom. That clock worked fine until it's little computer brain got fried by one of the numerous power outages we have. We had it fixed once. The second time it just didn't seem worth it.

After most of a year without the morning advantage of the sunrise clock I bought another. This came with several other bells and whistles. I didn't need the bells and whistles, particularly not the aroma therapy option, although the ambient noise options are at least amusing. In addition the light had a basic problem - the light isn't bright enough and didn't help wake me up.

So with the shorter days of winter fast approaching I went in search of a replacement. I found a gizmo that any lamp can be plugged into that is supposed to turn the light on gradually simulating sun rise. This meant that I could use any lamp.

Last weekend I went lamp shopping. I knew I wanted a wall lamp with a cord (as opposed to one that gets wired into the household wiring), to free up space on my night table. My first stop was the big orange store where I struck out. There were only a couple of options that fit my criteria and I just didn't like them. After a stop at home I headed to the lighting specialty store near our house. There I found this beauty, and I got a great deal (25% of the original price) on it. I mounted it on the wall on Monday, and plugged in the timer gizmo. The good news is the light is coming on in the morning and it's been much easier for me to get up, and I'm not as grouchy. The bad news is that the timer gizmo is not doing what it's supposed to be doing. It is turning the light on, but it's not doing it gradually. I'm going to play with it a little more, but I may have to return it for replacement.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Out the Window

I've taken to spending a few minutes of my work day looking out the windows. Here's what I saw yesterday.

Pedestrians moving through the rain.

Kendall Square
Looking toward Boston.
The column with the 1 on it is part the Human Genome Trail. This is a depiction of chromosome 1 and is the start of the trail. If you follow the link and click on numbers it will give you a description of each chromosome.

At about 4 a flash of light caught my eye. In about 5 minutes time the rain had stopped and the sky had mostly cleared. This resulted in a lovely sunset. Here's one shot of it. This is looking back toward the MIT campus.

Sun Set

Early Morning Drama

One of my morning rituals is to look out the window when I get into the shower. I get a good view of the neighbor's house and the street in front of my house. Most days I don't see much movement. Occasionally I'll see someone walking, sometimes accompanied by a dog. Yesterday when I looked out I didn't see much movement and was about to turn to the task at hand when I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Looking more carefully I realized that there was a black cat poised on the edge of the neighbor's roof. The house is one story tall so said cat was not that far off the ground. This was not a kitten, but a full grown cat.

The cat was on the portion of the roof where the house forms an L. As I watched the cat extended one paw toward the small roof over the door to the house. The roof is a simple shed roof and is maybe a foot wide. The cat put a small amount of weight on the extended paw. The cat quickly withdrew the paw as if the roof was hot and backed up the main roof. It then proceeded to the far end of the roof where it walked to the edge of the gutter and looked down surveying the bushes below. It backed away, then moved back to the gutter. When it backed away from the gutter again it moved several feet down the roof and repeated this exercise. I could just hear the conversation in its little cat head, "Maybe I can get down from this spot. No it's too high. There's nothing to jump onto. I'll have to find another spot. Well maybe it's not so bad. ... No can't do it. Maybe over there." After repeating this a couple more times, the cat found itself back at the spot where I'd first seen it.

At about the same time my neighbor, having heard the pitter-patter of little cat feet on the roof, opened the screen door. This additional perch seemed to give the cat an extra dose of courage. Using the roof over the door, it made its way from the main roof to the top of the screen door. It perched on the door for several minutes. I watched as my neighbor attempted to coax the cat off the door. She was too short to reach the cat, and the cat wasn't one of hers. This went on for a minute or two before the cat gathered up all its courage and leapt to the ground.

That ended the morning's drama and I went on with my shower.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

PhotoSunday: G

G is for gorilla.
Taken at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans several years ago (pre Katrina).

Other G pictures of mine here and here from the same trip to the Audubon Zoo.
More PhotoSunday here.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Rainy Saturday Comfort

Today was gray and rainy here, as the remnants of Hurricane Noel (like Coward not Christmas) passed just off the coast. It was a good day for curling up with a good book. Unfortunately I had other things to do - work, getting a tire fixed, buying a lamp - so the only curling up I did was under a fleece blanket while I worked this morning. I did do some reading though about 1/2 hour at the tire store while they remounted the repaired tire, and 2 chapters of Harry Potter (we're still working on book 6) while Amy did dishes and cut apples for sauce.

I hadn't meant to spend as much time out of the house as I did. The plan for the day was for me to finish up work early, get the tire fixed then hunker down for the remainder of the day. But the work took longer than expected and by the time I got to the tire store it was going to be at least 2 hours before they were able to look at my tire. Rather than sit in the tire store I left the tire and came home. This meant that I had to go out again to pick up the tire. Since I was out already I decided to stop to look for a lamp for my bedroom. I didn't find one at the first store and realized I needed to stop at home to check on work (I installed upgrades yesterday and users were testing today.). Amy suggested a stop at the lighting specialty store near our house so once I checked in I headed out again.

I found the perfect light there, and got a great deal to boot. The light was in the clearance section and the price on the tag was 50% of the original price. It also had a tag saying it was 50% off. I was very surprised to discover when I went to pay that the 50% off was 50% off the price on the tag, not the original price, so I got the light at 1/4 of the original price. Quite the find. I'll post a picture when I get the light in place.

Amy and I had stopped at the grocery store last night to procure supplies so we could hunker down for the day. In anticipation of the cold wet day we bought the fixings for a simple tomato soup. One of the places where I occasionally get lunch during the week usually has 3 or 4 soups to choose from. On Thursday the menu board listed tomato florentine soup which I really enjoy. I was very disappointed to discover that the soups in the pots were not the soups listed and there was no tomato florentine. When we were discussing what to get at the grocery store I mentioned that I'd like to look for tomato florentine soup, or something similar. Amy suggested making a simple tomato soup and adding to it. We used to make this soup fairly often but haven't in several years. The ingredients were part of what we brought home last night.

SoupThe soup recipe is the Tomato Garlic Soup from the New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. (Note: the link is to the updated edition, we have the original.) We have modified it slightly. The original calls for tomato juice, we use crushed tomatoes. This makes for a chunkier soup, but it's no less tasty. The other modification in today's soup was the addition of the spinach.

This is a great quick soup. There are only 5 ingredients (6 if you count the spinach) although more spices could be added. The garlic is minced then sauted in olive oil. Paprika is added then the tomatoes. Once everything is warm it gets a splash of red wine. I added the spinach (frozen which I thawed first) toward the end. The soup then simmers for about 10 minutes. It took less than 1/2 hour to make, even taking into account that I burned the garlic the first time around and had to clean the pot and mince more. All in all it was the perfect lunch for a cold, rainy Saturday.

Unique's Photo Challenge: Circle

Emergency power shut-off switch at work.

See more circles here.

PhotoHunters: Classic

Daddy Reading
My father reading a classic tales to my sister (on his lap) and me.

This photo was taken by my mother.
You'll find more PhotoHunters here.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Concord River Paddle - Table Design

I've posted the design for the dining table that was the impetus for my kayak trip on the Concord River on October 18th. You can find the story of the paddle here, and the design here.