Cabin Fever?

January 17th, 2011

I staggered upstairs, having done an hour on the bike, to hear Pat announce that she was going outside to go skiing. “It is really warm, it’s balmy. It’s in the 90’s!” I found this surprising, so I asked, “In the 90’s?” Realizing her error, Pat said, “It’s in the 20’s; but it will feel like it is in the 90’s.”

You know it has been a challenging winter when the 20’s are the new 90’s. Cabin fever has officially set in!

The End

Bandy

January 17th, 2011

Last night I was down in Roseville to photograph a game between Team USA and the Minnesota All Stars. This was the last game before the US squad leaves for the world championships in Kazakhstan. I thought this would be a high-intensity game, even though several US players would not be there, since they play for teams in Sweden. It turned out to be a game that was played at a lower intensity level, and it seemed that the players were intermixed on the two teams. The wind was blowing, so I shot from one corner of the playing surface. It turns out that this makes the lighting much more variable. I got some shots that were decent, and they can be found on my bandy photos web site.

Bandy player getting around the goalie

The End

Developments in the Produce Section

January 17th, 2011

This morning when I was in the produce section at the grocery store, I noticed that they were selling grapples. A grapple, as the signage explained, “looks like an apple and tastes like a grape“. I wondered what feat of genetic engineering made this possible, but when I got home and searched the web, I learned that this result was achieved via alternative means. Roughly, they just soak gala or fuji apples in grape juice until they take on a grape flavor.

Is this merely a marketing attempt to create of new product to tempt jaded shoppers? Or is it something else, a new way to upsize the offerings to the American consumer? You will realize it was the vanguard of a broader attempt to get folks to buy larger things if you see new products in the produce section with names such as appleloupe“it looks like a cantaloupe and tastes like an apple”.

The End

Ski Jumping

January 16th, 2011

This afternoon Pat and I went over to the St. Paul Ski Club so I could photograph ski jumping. The club was hosting the John R Lyons Tournament, and there were a lot of competitors, since people came to the Twin Cities for the weekend (Minneapolis had a competition yesterday and St. Paul today). This was Pat’s first opportunity to see ski jumping, and she found it interesting but the conditions were challenging; today was a trifle nippy, with temperatures barely creeping out of the single digits. We got there as they were in the latter stages of competition on the 30 meter hill, their second largest. I then photographed the jumping on their big hill, the 46 meter hill. I was rather pleased with the shots I got, which are on the web here.

Ski Jumper

The End

Ski Jumping

January 15th, 2011

I was over at the Minneapolis Ski Club this afternoon to photograph ski jumping. There are plenty of chances to photograph ski jumping in the Twin Cities, with both Minneapolis and St. Paul having ski jumps, but most of the competitions are at night. Today was a beautiful day, and the prospects looked really good. Today’s site had 4 jumps, with the meet starting on the smallest jump and moving to the largest. I arrived when they were competing on the next to the largest hill, their 30 meter jump. This was good timing – a chance to practice some photography stuff on that hill, then move up to the 70 meter hill for the photos I was really looking for. That was a great plan. I got a few decent shots on the 30 meter hill, and things looked really promising for the 70 meter – the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Unfortunately, problems were detected on the 70 meter jump. The snow/ice under the track that the jumpers come down was determined to have “honeycombed”, and they worked on it for quite a while. They then announced that they would work on it for another hour or so, and would subsequently announce whether they would have a competition. Since my guess was that they weren’t going to jump on that hill today, and the wonderful lighting was beginning to go away, I decided to bag it. There is a competition tomorrow afternoon over at the St. Paul Ski Club, so I have another shot at day time photography, but we may not get the wonderful sunlight we had today. That’s the breaks, I guess. A few shots from today are on the web here.

Ski Jumping on a 30 meter hill

The End

Four Feet

January 12th, 2011

This morning’s Star Tribune reports that the official snowfall for the winter has reached 48 inches. Since this essentially equals the total snowfall for an average winter and it is not yet the midpoint of January, there is no choice but to conclude that we are having a winter of real consequence. There are projections that within the next week of so, we might have a few days where the daily high temperature could stay below zero. If we weren’t going to La Jolla here in a bit, this would be serious.

The End

Snow Patterns

January 11th, 2011

When we bought this house, the deck was in bad shape and had to be replaced. Unfortunately, the surface of the deck that was installed in its place did not last as long as one might have expected. The cedar decking was installed with a modest gap between the boards, so that air could circulate to help the boards from becoming water logged, which leads to rot. The notion was that, as the boards dried further after installation, the gap between the boards would increase a little. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. There was so much shade on the side of the house with the deck, that the cedar never got as much opportunity to dry as had been anticipated. A couple of years ago, when we had to replace the deck surface, we were faced with the question of how far apart to space the new boards. If we didn’t leave sufficient space between these boards, we would soon have the same problem all over again. We decided to be cautious, and left a decent-sized gap between the boards. That has worked out well – the boards appear to be staying dry, but the gap is not so large as to be a problem when walking/standing on the deck.

When we get a gentle snowfall of a few inches, arriving without appreciable wind, the snow that lands in “the gaps” simply falls through, leaving what strikes me as an interesting pattern. Here is a shot of our deck this morning, just before I shoveled:

Snow Pattern on Deck

The End

Winter in Context

January 11th, 2011

We got several inches of snow last night. When I was out shoveling the driveway this morning, I noticed that the snowplow came by to do the other side of the road at 5:56. It was not until 6:04 that it returned to plow our side. I suppose I shouldn’t complain. I understand that there are parts of the far-flung Stuart empire where snow removal is even less prompt 😉

Last night I caught just a bit of Colbert, where he quipped that the winter storm that just nailed the south is being called “the weather of northern aggression”.

The End

Technological Change in Education

January 10th, 2011

Over the last few years I have been viewing college lectures on line, mostly from AcademicEarth. In watching the lectures, I notice that some professors write their material on the blackboard with chalk. This is what everyone did back when I was in school. But, many professors now project their material, using a tool such as PowerPoint. One doesn’t have to watch a lot of this to realize there is a substantial amount of time frittered away watching old-school teachers write on the board with chalk. This method is so painfully slow, so archaic, that it is a wonder anyone still does it that way, at least in those classrooms have the technical capabilities for something more advanced.

Efficiency in presenting the material is not the only reason for moving to more modern techniques. The gunman who shot the congresswoman from Arizona, and who killed other people in that shooting rampage, had been dismissed from Pima Community College. Various people at that school had been concerned about his behavior, and that it might turn violent. One of his professors was quoted as saying, “When I turned my back to write on the board, I would always turn back quickly — to see if he had a gun.” PowerPoint could save your life, because, just like a lion tamer, you don’t want to turn your back on the students 😉

The End

Certified Curmudgeon

January 9th, 2011

This morning’s Star Tribune had an article about some research at Cargill, “one of the world’s largest food-ingredient makers”. Among the things that Cargill is working on is getting the heart-healthy beta-glucan out of oatmeal, for use in other products. The challenge is reported to be getting the beta-glucan without getting the “lumpiness of oatmeal” or a “cardboard-like texture”. When I was a kid, we were glad to have oatmeal to eat, lumpy or not. As the governor of Pennsylvania, Edward G. Rendell, would say, we are becoming a nation of wusses. What’s wrong with eating something lumpy with a cardboard-like texture? Builds strong jaw muscles, that’s what I say.

When I was young, we were intensely interested in understanding who did things. For example, we wondered:

  • who put the bomp in the bomp buh bomp buh bomp?
  • who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?
  • who put the dip in the dip dee dip dee dip?

These were major issues. We focused our energies on trying to understand who had done something. No we have shifted over to trying to undo what nature has already done for us, free of charge. Now we are reduced to attempting to avoid lumps. Wusses! Wusses, I say!!

The End