Kite Aerial Photography

I’ve been interested in kite aerial photography almost as long as I’ve been on the internet. I’m not sure how I got there, but I remember falling over Prof. Benton’s KAP page back in the days of usenet and listservs. I’ve flown a couple different kinds of drones, but the notion of a kite as the camera’s skyhook never stopped being attractive. As I thought about camera equipment for the trip, a KAP rig immediately suggested itself. Drones are heavy and power hungry; kites are neither of those things. I got the stuff together and yesterday – a day of 20 mph+ blustery winds – was the first sky trial.

KAP requires 3 things: a kite (and line obv), a camera with some sort of automatic or remote triggering capability, and a way of hanging the camera off the kite string. I already had a GoPro; they come with wireless capabilities and a phone app to control them. The kite was easy, too. Though I already had an old parafoil kite, I ordered a larger one (for better light wind lifting) with a monster tail (for stability). The last bit, the camera/kite interface, is interesting. I’m using a picavet (or picavet cross if you prefer). It’s named after its inventor, Pierre Picavet, who came up with the notion in 1912. Side note: the history and longevity of KAP is another thing that attracts me.

Labruguière photographed by Arthur Batut's kite in 1889.jpgArthur Batut’s aerial photo of Labruguière, 1889

Here’s my picavet on its way up:

Picavet.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Yesterday was the first day that all the elements were in place: good wind, no rain and all the components rigged and ready. So off I went to a nearby (sodden) playing field complex. When I got there, I discovered that I wasn’t the only person with kites on their mind. This person was doing some dry land kite-boarding practice.

kiteboard

We spoke briefly – I wanted to make sure I didn’t get in his way – and I walked off to a different corner of the field. He left soon after; the wind was strong and out of the corner of my eye I saw him execute a nice landing after getting pulled a combined Olympic long/high jump distance by his kite.

I had a good time and came away having learned a few things: a mark of a successful outing in my book.

  • Wear gloves!
  • I need to spend more time with the GoPro phone interface. The interface is simple, but when you’re using it one handed with an angry kite in the other hand, well… And distance may or may not be an issue – again, tough to troubleshoot when one’s attention is divided.
  • I am going to experiment with more and heavier line. The kite came with a 300′ spool of 80lb line. I have a 500′ spool of 160lb line – it weighs more (boo!) but the extra 200′ will come in handy.
  • Don’t expect stable video when you are flying in a wind right at the top of your kite’s rating.

Here’s some barely-edited footage of the first flight; not great but there’s nowhere to go from here but… wait for it… up.

First flight.

Logistics note: I’m planning on posting video to both Flickr (esp after they open up the time limit to 10 minutes) and Youtube. I realize there’s angst on the internet over how SmugMug/Flickr is handling the free account downgrade. I’ve had a Flickr Pro account for a long time for exactly that reason: lack of trust in the permanence of free internet services. And so the thing I pay for (Flickr) will be the primary drop and the “free” thing (Youtube) will be there as a secondary source.

Sub-miniature Graboid

Via Tetzoo, a critter that I would love to see on the the Big Bike Ride! Dr. Naish’s post is on speculative, “could yet be discovered” animals that are not already cryptozoological cliches – so no Nessie. The whole thing is a lot of fun but the entry for “A gigantic, predatory, limbed amphisbaenian” really caught my attention.

Among the weirdest of amphisbaenians are the ajolotes (or bipedids), the only extant group to possess limbs. These limbs are not small stumps or flaps (as they are in some other near-limbless, serpentine squamates) but well-developed, clawed forelimbs. According to some phylogenetic models, ajolotes are not the sister-group to limbless amphisbaenians but deeply nested within the limbless clade (Conrad 2008, Videl et al. 2008), in which case their limbedness – if you will – perhaps evolved from limbless ancestors. Add to this the fact that some amphisbaenians are robust-jawed, short-faced predators of vertebrates that ambush prey from beneath the surface and bite chunks from the bodies of surface-dwelling mammals and reptiles.

[…]

So then… where oh where are the giant, limbed, robust-skulled, vertebrate-eating amphisbaenians? By ‘giant’, I am not talking about a graboid-sized monster of several metres (though that would be nice), but a more reasonable animal of a mere 1.5 metres or so. Easily the stuff of nightmares. They could inhabit warm regions of any continent.

So what’re these ajolores? The word references 2 very different animals: the axolotl of Lake Xochimilco (endangered in the wild) and the Mexican mole lizard of Baja California – obv it’s the latter we’re interested in.

Bipes biporus is a small pink worm-like lizard with forellimbs only – no hind legs. Their scalation is segmented and used. peristaltically, to move through burrows. The big digger feet move sand out of the way (see the illustration in the Tetzoo post) and the blunt head helps in their fossorial fun.

I wanna see one!

Bipes biporus.jpg
By marlin harms, CC BY 2.0, Link

And in case ‘graboid‘ doesn’t ring a bell:

 

 

Apophenia

Hold on tight – this is going to be more than a little tangential. After writing the Curta/Rohloff post yesterday, I was seized by a desire to re-read Pattern Recognition. So I did! When I got a hundred or so pages in, I had a little shock of recognition myself:

Pattern Recognition Cornell Box

Recognition, because the book on the top of my nightstand stack is Simic on Cornell.

Simic on Cornell

I’m moderately confident that this is pattern recognition gone wrong – and there’s a word for that!

Pattern Recognition Ch 12

Definition of apophenia 

the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful pattern between unrelated or random things (such as objects or ideas)*

Good for a laugh, but pattern recognition and its evil twin are near and dear to my heart. K asked recently if i was a ‘spotter’ – one of those people who see stuff in the woods before anyone else does, or when no one else sees the thing at all. I allowed as I probably was, but that I wasn’t sure if my skill extended outside of the northeastern US. I’ve written about what I tend to call ‘native vision’ before (while talking about the Blue Ant books!) ; it’s a central plot line, as far as I’m concerned, in a top 5 movie – Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala. An aside – honing my spotter skills in different biomes is a Big Bike Ride goal.

Another bit of characterization in Pattern Recognition caught my eye, too. Boone Chu, Cayce Pollard’s computer security sidekick,has a bit of Mod fun, riding a scooter wearing a fishtail parka emblazoned with an RAF roundel*.

I ride a G.S. scooter with my hair cut neat
I wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet

– I’ve Had Enough/Quadrophenia/The Who

Sometime during the reading I called up some tunes from Quadrophenia on the hi-fi, and noticed the title’s suffix. Because I was already thinking about apophenia, the lack of an R (it’s not Quadrophrenia!) struck me – esp since Jimmy, the protagonist, is presented as having 4 personalities. With an R:

Suffix[edit]

-phrenia

  1. mental disorder.*

Coming up with a definition for the sans-R suffix, -phenia, is a little trickier. One idea is that it /should/ have been apophrenia and the dropped R is a mistake. But I like this idea:

…if the word derives from “apo” and another Greek word, “phainein” […] meaning “to make appear,” then apophenia is correct after all.*

The suffix works nicely with Quadrophenia – it was recorded during the heyday of quadraphonic sound systems – and though apparently the vinyl was never quad, I remember a ton of pre-relase marketing noise bruiting Quadrophenia as quad sound’s full realization. “Making quad appear” works!

And finally. a chapter title from Pattern Recognition that wraps up The Who, the Big Bike Ride and pulling meaning from coincidence up in a neat bow.

Pattern Recognition Ch 16

* They’re called roundels damnit, NOT TARGETS

 

Got a match?

I’m resurrecting a format from the past because the high-wheeler post got me thinking about cylinders jam-packed with complex bits.

The Curta calculator first came onto my radar screen as I read William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. – a Curta is used in a swap: calculator for decrypted info. At the time, I was working at a boarding school in central NH; when I mentioned this odd calculator to a math teacher, he said, offhandedly, “Oh, I know about those! In fact I think there’s one up in the attic.” We searched, but no joy. So I’ve yet to see one in person but that has not stopped me from coveting.

Type II Curta

Curta Type II

Parts and a look inside

I’m sure you saw the match coming a mile away – the second cool cylinder is the Rohloff Speedhub. Beautiful. intricate, robust and functional (it’s 14 speeds are evenly stepped – something that other internally geared hubs can’t pull off) – what’s not to love? Oh, yeah, as mentioned below, the price. Throwing caution to the wind and setting another wad of cash on fire, the ‘before’ Rohloff photo is an example with a Phil Wood hub shell. I have no idea how much the Phil shell would add to the price, but omg it’s lovely.

The Phil shell gives you spoke count options – the std Rohloff is 32 spoke drilling only

Speedhub

A repeat from the Ordinary post – Rohloff cutaway from my trip to NAHBS

And a very exploded view!

My current ‘one bike to rule them all’ fantasy starts with a Speedhub-equipped Tumbleweed Prospector frame, 27.5 Plus tires, a big basket up front for teckels, a big saddlebag in back and some sort of trailer for hauling beehives around exurban Quebec. A boy can dream… And if I went that route, I guess I’d have to budget in the money to eBay myself a Curta as well!

 

The Why? behind the Big Bike Ride

K asked me recently whether I’d posted anything about the thinking that led me to plan a serious long duration bike tour and I had to confess that I hadn’t. I’ll remedy that with a bit of the history of the idea and some of the things I hope to do on the ride.

I’ve thought about going mobile for a long time; I was struck by Stephen Bodio’s description of prairie/basin and range grouse hawkers and their Airstreams and tipis back in the mid-80s and the urge to try my hand at technomadism has been in my head ever since. Over the past few years, a constellation of factors, personal and societal, brought the desire to a full boil. There was the heart attack that demonstrated conclusively that I’m not immortal, a different kind of heart issue that led to a period of grieving, and all the thoughts and feelings that accompany watching loved ones in cognitive decline. The larger world doesn’t supply a lot of hope either. We’re rushing towards 1.5C/2.7F global temperature increases within 20 years and a country (hint: the US) that could lead on global warming issues is led by an incompetent kleptocrat, And as a side note, news came in this morning that Brazil has elected the fascist Bolsonaro who, among other things, has vowed to open up the Amazon to commercial exploitation. That’ll sure help with climate change (true, but not in a desirable direction)! Seems like a good moment to chuck it all and travel a bit. But how to travel? I had 3 options in mind:

  • Airstream. Pros: comfy! Cons: price (esp when the tow vehicle is factored in), lack of maneuverability.
  • Van conversion. Similar to the Airstream, but less comfy and more maneuverable.
  • Bicycle. Pros: cheap! Low/no carbon! Cons: much smaller load capacity.

The bike option won. I love bike touring – I think it is one of the very best ways to actually experience the country one moves through. It can be stealthy, low impact and inexpensive. And a well set up bike can handle a huge range of terrain: pavement to singletrack. My body was also a consideration; apparently I am not getting any younger and if I do want to take a big ride, sooner is favored over later.

So a-riding we shall go! The thing I most want to do on the trip is simply to experience the landscape: rocks, rivers, trees, birds, lizards, people, bridges, stars in the night sky and everything else I can wrap my senses around. And I want to learn! I want to pick my high school Spanish back up and get way better at it. I want to write more, and more betterer. 😉 I want to learn the names of unfamiliar things, I want to improve my photography and film making chops: I’m bringing a camera with macro and tele lenses for wildlife stuff and a couple GoPro Sessions for on the bike vids and kite aerial photography. I’m going to go fishing – and swimming! And I’m going to ride where I want at any pace I feel like. The riding itself is also part of the point. I find it to be meditative and a good way to sort things out in my head. I’m hoping to spend significant time in the moment – Flow for Dummies – and I want to think about post-ride activities – how I can help my loved ones survive The Jackpot.

Pre-ride. Bundled up.

We’re now a couple weeks from departure (I hope). Soon, this space will become a travelogue blog!

 

 

Extra-Ordinary

I fell over this hilarious thought experiment recently and thought I’d post on it as it touches on a couple of interesting topics: bike history and bike gearing.

The big advancement ordinarys incorporated that put them miles ahead of their boneshaker predecessors was Eugene Meyer’s wire-spoke tension wheel. Lower weight and comfort – the boneshaker was instantly obsolete. The high-wheeler’s time at the top of the bike heap was brief – Meyer’s bike was introduced in 1869 and the first safety bicycle (what we think of when we say bike), the Rover, hit the pavement in 1885. In 1888 John Dunlop used pneumatic tires on a trike and the increased comfort for riders of small wheels was the high-wheel’s death warrant. Of course (because we are kooky primates), people still race Ordinarys – skip ahead to the 9 minute mark for actual racing action. And kudos to the small person wearing pink cowboy boots!

Why the huge wheel? I’m sure you know this already, but in a word, SPEED. Ordinarys are direct drive – one pedal revolution equals one wheel revolution. If you want to cover more ground per spin, increase the diameter (and thus the circumference) of the wheel you are turning.

Not satisfied with 1:1, Mr. Bout modeled a unicycle/Rohloff 14 speed hub mashup. At this point my smile became full on laughter. WHY? Why would you do this? The whole point of high-wheels is that the wheel defines the gear ratio!!?! 😀 But I got hold of myself – first, this is a modeling/illustration exercise so, really, who cares, and second, it gave me something to think about.

A weird blend of concentric unicycle Kris Holm hub and Rohloff speed hub with what would be huge bearings. Is this even possible ? I don’t know. The Effigear cranks are borrowed from my previous bikes, and shortened.

My immediate question was “I wonder what that gearing would work out to be?” I think about bike gearing in terms of gear inches rather than gear ratios – an explanation of gear inches and gear development is here. Whenever I’m thinking about gearing my first stop is the late Sheldon Brown’s site – there’s an online calculator and tons of info on internally geared hubs. Before I started calculating, though, this stopped me short:

To maintain optimum functionality and safety of the Speedhub, the lowest allowable gear combinations are 42/17, 38/16 or 36/15. These are the equivalent to a 22/32 combination on a conventional drivetrain.

So, apparently, there’s a minimum amount of torque needed to run a Speedhub. Will this bike supply that? I’ll assume the wheel diameter is 52 inches (a not-unusual high-wheel size) and since it’s 1:1, that’s 52 gear-inches easy-peasey. Inputting a 27.5×3.0 wheel (Molly Fin’s), a 42 tooth chainwheel and a 17 tooth cog into Mr. Brown’s online calculator gives us 70.9 gear inches. So, nope, wouldn’t work – or at the very least would void the warranty on a very expensive bit of German engineering (standard, that is to say, not ‘nonexistent unicycle-modified’, Rohloff hubs start at $1,300 and go up from there). Regardless, let’s press on! Again taking the same wheel and gearing setup, the calculator tells us that a Speedhub gives us a range of 19.8 / 22.4 / 25.5 / 29.0 / 32.9 / 37.4 / 42.5 / 48.3 / 54.8 / 62.4 / 70.9 / 80.4 / 91.5 /103.9 gear inches. Since 26 is half of 52, I plugged in a 26 inch wheel and 24 teeth on both the chainwheel and cog (1:1) and then doubled the result. This high-wheeler would have a range of 14.2 / 16.1 / 18.6 / 21.0 / 23.8 / 27.2 / 31.0 / 35.2 / 39.8 / 45.4 / 51.6 / 58.4 / 66.6 / 75.6 – that’s a really l-o-w set of gears. Appropriate, I guess, for trying to maneuver a huge wheel up and down trails. To get to equivalent safety bike gearing, just grow the wheel to 71 inches (and sign up a very tall rider) or, y’know, put a chain on it.

Note: I think my gear reasoning is sound, but am open to correction. And I’ll end with a couple relevant photos from last winter’s North American Handmade Bike Show.

Speedhub

Speedhub cutaway

Unicycle

Unicycle!

36er

Thirtysixer!

 

 

 

Two updates

The Adventure Cycling Assoc. posted “Following the Monarchs” (referenced in the post below) to their website. Now you can read the whole thing and not rely on my photo! Side note: dirtbag panniers 4evah!

 

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#coffeeneur no. 3: ☕ & 🥯 in Durham #coffeeneuring

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Handbuilt Bike news has coverage of the New England builder’s Ball (Two Wheels X 2). They did a much more complete job than my ‘ooh shiny’ reportage. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Below is a photo I should have taken – I really liked this ANT rig.

 

Monarchs

The migration south is still going strong here in southern NH, so monarchs have been much on my mind. The starting point was finding what I think was a freshly emerged female in the back yard a few weeks ago. I’m sure she would have been fine, but I moved her to a protected perch on the breezeway to rest and warm up a bit.

Then the Oct/Nov edition of Adventure Cyclist arrived. It’s the house organ of the Adventure Cycling Assoc. – a great group that’s created some amazing route maps. The cover story was Sara Dykman’s 10,000 mile ride following the multi generation migration from Mexico to Canada and back. Naturally, I’m wondering if I should swing south after either Baja or Barrancas del Cobre. Hmm.

monarch story

Ms. Dykman’s web site is here and I’ve embedded a map of her route below. A dang cool ride, I must say.

From ButterBikes to Butter-Gliders – shifting gears a bit, the Venture Bros. are back on teevee, For those who don’t know the show, one of the main characters is a supervillian called The Monarch (née Malcolm Fitzcarraldo). The new run – Season 7 – is superb and gets a strong recommendation. The AVClub has a TV Club 10 post with ten essential episodes; let me quote the intro to give those of you unfamiliar with the show a sense of what it’s all about.

When it started, The Venture Bros. was an unsubtle parody of Jonny Quest, centering on a super-scientist, a burly bodyguard, and a couple of rambunctious teens who love a good adventure but are also just a hair too naïve to really survive for long on their own. Calling it a Jonny Quest parody now is almost comically reductive, though, because the show spent its first six seasons expanding into one of the most complex and bizarre universes of any animated series—including its newer Adult Swim contemporaries like Rick And Morty. It’s a superhero parody, with deep Marvel cuts that have become a lot less deep thanks to the movies. It’s an outlet for obscure musical references, where David Bowie somehow became a regular character until creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer decided that was too limiting and just made him into a shapeshifter who pretended to be David Bowie. It’s a G.I. Joe parody, where the good guys and bad guys all need a silly gimmick and a codename. Mostly, though, it’s about a family that always sticks together, even in the face of constant, inescapable failure.

That’s the word that always comes up when trying to describe The Venture Bros., but even saying it’s a show about failure is reductive. That reading doesn’t take into account how the characters have grown and changed over the years or how they sometimes completely stumble into success. Really, if you want to cleverly say that the show is about any one thing, then it’s about subverting expectations. The show knows what people like and what they’ll want to see, and then it goes off in a different direction that deepens the characters in an unexpected way or throws a needlessly complicated wrench into a plot that is already needlessly complicated (or maybe it pulls the wrench out and lets a complicated plot run down to something more simple).

From an earlier season, DRAMA!

And back to the real thing – while out for training rides with Lotte the Adventure Teckel, I’ve come across monarchs that are sure to be squashed by traffic unless they’re moved. So I move them. There have only been a few, but with the world in the state that it’s in, every one is worth an effort.

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Road rescue.

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Two Wheels X 2

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love two wheeled vehicles. My own riding has been restricted to bicycles for a long time, but I love looking at a nice motorcycle too. The presence of an engine gives builders freedom to be less minimalist and practical – expressed esp in the world of choppers. Last Saturday there were two bike shows: the Welcome East motorcycle show in Portsmouth NH and The Builder’s Ball handmade bicycle show in Boston. I spent time at both as I made my way back to Scituate.

There was an an amazing range of bikes at the Welcome East show; a diversity that led to my favorite juxtaposition of the day: two bike conversions next to two superbikes.

Good juxtaposition

My favorite was this perfect BMW. I am a sucker for Earles forks.

Bay Em Vay

The Builder’s Ball was smaller but in some ways even more amazing. The attention to detail was incredible. Brian Chapman used spare spokes as chain slap protectors:

Chapman Cycles spoke chainslap guard

Bilenky Cycle Works fabricated a gorgeous rear dropout to accommodate a Gates belt drive:

Bilenky/Rohloff/Gates

There needs to be a break point in the drive side rear triangle of Gates-equipped bikes so that the belt can be threaded into place. I’ve never seen the problem handled so elegantly.

There was also space for less Apollonian stuff. A bike chopper with what I assume is a combination running light and butt warmer:

Choppah

And this amazing machine:

P9220026

Hydraulics!

I thought at first that it was some sort of e-bike conversion. And then realization dawned: hydraulics! The owner was given the bike by its creator, a Worcester machinist, as he was heading off to a retirement home. The current owner has had the bike for two decades and it is still immaculate. I’d hang it on a wall if I owned it – art.

Locally, preparations for my bike trip continue. Today’s task is choosing books that will live at the Scriptorium in Breuklyn – Lotte and I are heading south tomorrow to celebrate my b-day with friends and fam!

Red hands with missing fingers

As noted in the post below, I zipped back home from the salt marsh last Friday to take care of some loose ends, One of the things on the to-do list was replenishing the bee feeder with more sugar syrup. A bit of backstory: I didn’t keep bees last year – my hives were winter-killed and I missed the windows for ordering replacement packages in the spring. This year, with plans for the Big Bike Trip well underway, it made no sense to start beekeeping again, so I didn’t. But I did leave a hive out in the back yard the past couple years, mainly because I’m lazy that way. Come early August, I noticed some bee activity in and around the hive. “Checking it out to see if they can scavenge some supplies.”, thought I. But they stuck around! I gave them a few weeks to get settled in, then did an inspection. Capped brood (iow, the hive is making new members)! A second inspection and hey! there’s the queen! At this point I realized I needed to start feeding them if there was going to be any chance of them surviving the winter. I’m not big on feeding hives; sugar syrup provides calories, but precious little else. But, just as, given a choice between Soylent (vc) and starving to death, I’ll happily consume the sludge, so too will I choose syrup over losing a nice gentle hive with what I am guessing is a wild-bred queen. They’d been going through a quart of syrup every two days, so I expected to find the feeder empty. I did not expect this:

trashed frames

divot

I was stunned. I’m pretty conservative when it comes to wildlife ID – I’ve heard too many stories about peregrines killing songbirds at people’s bird feeders – so I figured it was a big ole raccoon or a skunk or maybe, just maybe a bear. I composed myself and started cleaning up. And then I noticed a small cluster of workers in the corner of the hive body, looking very much like they were protecting the queen. I grabbed another body, put in 10 untrashed frames and carefully brushed the bees that were left (many had already relocated to the new digs) in the old body into their new home. As of this writing, there are still bees in the hive; I haven’t done a post-attack inspection yet, but the fact that workers are staying put gives me a little hope that the queen survived.

New hive body/frames

When I took a close look at the smashed up hive body, my perp ID changed. Take a look at the distance between the pairs of tooth marks:

toof marks

toof marks

I have never seen a raccoon or skunk skull with that kind of gap between canines. I’m pretty confident it was a bear. There have been bears in the neighborhood before – I hadn’t heard of any sightings this year but that doesn’t mean much.

On the ride back down to salt marsh paradise, I listened to the latest episode of Ken Layne’s excellent Desert Oracle radio show (in podcast form): Lycanthropes of the West.

Bronsplåt pressbleck öland vendeltid.jpg
By Unknown – Oscar Montelius, Om lifvet i Sverige under hednatiden (Stockholm 1905) s.98, Public Domain, Link

One of the topics? Bears, were-bears, and shapeshifting. Properly synchronous! Mr. Layne set me thinking about circumpolar bear cults – the Ainu, the Finns, Siberian shamans – and that circled me around to Gary Snyder. No, not the Smokey the Bear Sutra (though it did come to mind), rather The Way West, Underground.

You aren’t getting out of here without an explicit Smokey reference, though. My favorite psychedelic blue jeans wearing were-bear at Hilton Park in Dover, NH:

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StB's jeans 4evah.

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Next: 2 wheels 4evah!

P.S. bears also call to mind one of the two dog breed recommendations I’m proudest of. A friend and fellow trainer wanted a working breed – a dog that would do well in obedience work and potentially Schutzhund – but she wasn’t esp interested in any of the shepherd-y breeds. I suggested she look into Bouviers – she named her Boov puppy Osa (bear).

 

A lovely week

A week ago yesterday I headed to the salt marsh in Scituate Massachusetts for a writer’s retreat. I didn’t write, but I did walk and take photographs and cook. Friday, I zipped home to take care of some things and had a bit of additional fun that I’ll cover in a couple follow-on posts. Saturday night, it was back to the marsh for another day and a half. Given that messing with the camera was a focus for me, this will be an image-heavy post.

rainy marsh

Last morning on the marsh

dawn on the marsh

Mornings were mostly cool and drizzly,

sunset

sunset

while sunsets tended towards the spectacular.

The marsh was loaded with great blue herons, great egrets and snowy egrets. National Geographic level.I’m not, but the way to get better is to practice!

NatGeo 1

NatGeo 2

Great Blue Heron

I got one bike ride in with Lotte the Adventure Teckel and during the ride managed to snap a photo of a gorgeous teardrop trailer that I’d been ogling for days. The sailboat reminds me of a Stone Horse – it isn’t a variant, as far as I can tell, but the flush cockpit sure calls that design out. Figuring out the name of the craft, Ataraxia, led to a shallow dive into epicureanism. It’s good to be curious,

Epicurean teardrop camper

On Sunday, K and I went to the Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum; Scituate had (has?) a small industry devoted to harvesting and drying Chondrus crispus as a source of the thickener carrageenan. A small and charming museum that is only open on Sunday afternoons – worth a stop if the timing works for you.

Irish mossing

Next up: Yogi visits Madbury.

BEHEMOTH*

*  Big Electronic Human Energized Machine, Only Too Heavy

I was wandering around the yard with the dogs this morning, messing around with my phone: taking some pix, catching a Pokémon or 2, texting my dóttir, when I had a sudden contrast-and-compare flashback. I’m taking a few devices with me on the big bike ride, primarily for convenience’s sake, but if I wanted to go minimal, I could manage with one gadget – that selfsame phone. It’s got 2 ways to connect to the internet, GPS, 2 cameras that will do stills and video, a bucket of storage, etc., etc. The flash I had in the yard took me back to a bike project from Olden Tymes: Steven K. Roberts’ Winnebiko, Winnebiko II and BEHEMOTH. All three were (successful) attempts to stay connected while pedaling around in the 1980s. My guess is that I first encountered Mr. Roberts’ project in the pages of Whole Earth Review, a publication that bridged what I’ve come to think of as the paper hippie internet, The Whole Earth Catalog, and the the real capital I Internet. The ’80’s were full of transitional critters – the WER in print and Compuserve. GEnie, AOL, and bulletin board systems in the on-line world (for those of us – the vast majority – who did not have access to the Internet). Steven’s technomadic hallucigenia bikes fit perfectly into the Cambrian-explosion 1980’s networking stew.

via here

Unsurprisingly, the connected bike idea was catnip to yours truly and I kept an eye on the projects as best I could. It really was a different world – doing a search and pulling up all the info I would need for a post like this, let alone the ability to blog as I’m doing now, were years down the pike.

So we come to BEHEMOTH. a second system effect instantiated in a 3rd system.  Five hundred and eighty pounds, three laptops, a heads-up display and handlebar mounted keypad. I suddenly feel a lot better about the size and weight of Molly Fin plus Lotte, fishing rods, cameras, kite, and other toys.

via here

It’s now on display at the Computer History Museum.

As far as I can tell, BEHEMOTH didn’t cover a ton of miles – just too big and heavy. Then the Internet and cell phone things happened and I can hold all that capability and more in the palm of my hand. For now, anyway *wry grin*.