Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We Feel Fine

I found this site called TED months ago and every time I visit it I feel I'm discovering it again for the very first time. It always leaves me with the thought that the human race is truly an amazingly - creative - worthy part of the world - and that people are inspiring other to do good.

I just watched this talk on Jonoathan Harris' work If you have 20 minutes, watch it.

Then I visited We Feel Fine. And I have to say - its amazingly cool. If you've got a minute, go play with it!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mod Podge Madness 2 - The Return of the Mod

So now that these have safely arrived in Jacksonville, I'm no longer ruining the surprise if I show them to you. Last week I dabbled in some collage and mailed two of the creations (above) to Laura and AM as a thank you of sorts for putting me up for a few days. I made two more that are now up for sale at my friend Jen's awesome art gallery in Cowan, TN (below).

Here are the ones that I brought up to Redstreake Gallery. Jen liked them so much she asked me to do a few more. So we'll see what I can come up with in the next couple of weeks.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Legacy - Down Under in North Alabama Caves

This past Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I was able to help Randal with a really fun educational workshop for teachers all on caving sponsored by Legacy. I had had it on my calendar for a full up year. There were 25 of us all together - 2 folks from Legacy, Marijean & Toni and 3 cavers on any given trip, Randal, Michelle E., Nathan (who joined us for the one Michelle E. couldn't make it to) & then myself.

Wednesday was check-in at the Paint Rock Valley Lodge in Estillfork. The lodge has 4 restored "shops" in it - a store, a garage, a soda shop and a barber shop - along with loads of other wild antiques. Its really really cool and was a perfect place for the workshop.

The entrance to the barber shop.

Inside the sundries store.

We had a classroom session on what Legacy does: Legacy was created in 1992 by a group of individuals dedicated to providing quality, fact-based environmental education materials to the citizens of Alabama. Today, the organization brings together state and federal agencies, businesses, environmental groups, associations, and concerned citizens to provide comprehensive environmental education programs without duplicating efforts of other organizations. Legacy’s goal is to operate as a true partnership of all groups interested in environmental education, to develop and provide balanced environmental education programs, and to prevent duplication of effort by supporting existing quality environmental education programs. Revenue for Legacy’s environmental education programs comes primarily from the sale of Alabama’s “Protect Our Environment” license tag. Other money comes from the partnership program, donations, corporate sponsors, in-kind donations, grants, and special events.

Randal covered some basic caving safety and then we got to take them to Crossings. We went over the different names for formations as everyone got their "cave legs" in the entrance room. When we hit the saltpetre dig area Randal went over how and what saltpetre was and the mining of it from caves during the Civil War. We saw a few pips and made it back to the restoration area.

Everyone's shoes and boots in the back of Randal's truck - their first taste of mud.

Dinner was at the Lodge and then they had some entertainment.

Thursday was a bit of classroom work in the morning and then we were off to Hering Cave.

We pointed out the nice colonies of fossilized corals, saw some crayfish, a few bats and a salamader (who is probably still blind from all of the camera flashes). Lunch and a tour of Cathedral Caverns was next on the list.

I stopped a few times in the way back to the Lodge... AL65 is one beautiful, windy, valley road.

Then it was back to the lodge for a quick dinner and off to Sauta to watch the bat flight. Keith Hudson of the AL Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources met us there and gave a really nice bat talk. And as a final treat we were able to bop into Sauta's upper entrance for a few hours. Nathan will most likely post some photos of the cave and of the teachers here in the next few days.

Friday morning Bill Gates of the US Fish and Wildlife Service gave a talk on the new thermal bat detector. Everyone visited, ate lunch and then said their goodbyes. I think everyone had a nice time and learned a few things that they'll be able to take back to their students. And I made sure I gave everyone an invite to come up again and go caving whenever they wanted. And I really do hope some of them take me up on my offer - because there are so many more beautiful caves to see!

Labels: ,

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Other Half

So some folks (his brother Glenn) wanted to see what Paul is currently up to, so I am giving him a post all his own. (There he is in the orange shirt)

So this is NASA's P3B airplane.

Paul is part of a team working on a project that (very basically) is reading radio waves to determine soil moisture.

Here's Paul's snazzy explanation:
We have built an instrument that is to remotely determine moisture in the soil. It is made up of an antenna system and sensitive radio receiver devices. By looking at the ground, we will see natural radio frequency radiation emitted from the earth from which we can infer the amount of moisture content in the soil. In the pictures you see the antenna housing being mounted into the forward payload bay of NASA's P3B research aircraft. The antenna box is 42 x 42 inches square, weighs 127 pounds, and houses 81 individual antennas whose signals are properly combined to provide the radio signal.

This is what the antenna actually looks like - Paul would like me to point out the neatly arranged spaghetti from the back.

Paul again:
This is our partially populated rack and where we will be sitting on the plane. Neither are bolted in place yet. There will be another two seats behind these for our people as well. The plane will have 24 seats on it; more than necessary and will have about 5 equipment racks.

Uploading of our antenna into the forward payload bay.

Chip and Karthik at the instrument rack in the aircraft doing instrumentation checkout after we got it all cabled and powered.

And last but not least I asked Paul to take a few artsy shots for me, so here's my fav.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New caving links

Just added a nice group of caving links... enjoy!

Upcoming posts:
"What the other 1/2 is up to"
"Mod Podge Madness 2 - The Return of the Mod"

Labels: ,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Scott Hollow Cave

Several months ago I got to make an awesome trip to Scott Hollow Cave. Nathan, Tommy, Michelle and I drove up from Huntsville to meet Vic and Eric who came down from Ohio. The owner of Scott Hollow, Mike, let us camp out, and we visited with him on Sunday before we all drove home. FYI - Scott Hollow an amazing cave - Vic was a great guide - Nathan got some great photography - I got some fun short video clips. My "Wow" factor was way up there with my Rumbling Falls trip - and we barely scratched the surface of it. We're already planning on going back at a later date - and Mike said he definitely wants to join us so we can hit the highlights for Nathan to photograph.

Our first stop driving up was at Big Walker Lookout (elev. 3,405) off I-77 - where we went up at least 100 more feet on this (I'd rather be on rope) fire tower so we could look out EVEN higher.

(check out Tommy's face... so funny)

Ahh... but the view was incredible!

The view was just as impressive that evening. Around the campfire we stared at the Milky Way and were privvy to half a dozen shooting stars and in the morning just as the rain started we climbed down a drain pipe in the fanciful underworld that is Scott Hollow Cave.

Quiet Light - Tommy reviewing the map, Michelle illuminating Nathan showing Vic how to set up the flash.

Michelle waiting to descend.

Down we go!

Vic and Tommy (displaying his red and blue Jolly Ranchers)


Setting up for the waterfall shot of Vic.

Nathan catches a Raman Noodle break during lunch.

Aragonite crystals.

One of the cool things about really pure white formations is that they phosphores when exposed to bright light. So they'll glow for a few seconds. Here's a video of a formation doing just that:

Nathan took some great shots of other formations in/near the same room - you can check them out on his Flickr site.

Vic crossing the land bridge - personally I was hugging the rock when I crossed it.

Camping leftovers - cleaning up from the late night (or early morning actually) on Sunday.

Vic, Me, Tommy, Michelle, Eric and Nathan right before we headed home. Thank you Vic and Eric for coming down and caving with us. Awesome trip guys! Beautiful Cave. Can't wait to go back.

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mod Podge Madness

So when I was visiting with Laura and Annamaria in JAX, we walked into Anthropologie before we got dessert at the Cheesecake Factory and perused - because for the most part that's all you can aford to do there - just peruse. Anthropologie is where they tried on those fun aprons that were in the last post. Anyway we saw these cute box canvas prints - please keep in mind I said PRINTS - for $108. Our conversation went something like this:

AM: Oh look at those - they're fun.
Laura: Yeah... I really like that one (points to one)

Me: (taking a closer look) Holy Crap! They're $108! You've got to be flippin' kidding me!
Laura: Wo.
Me: And they're PRINTS! Its not even original artwork!
AM: How'd they make it?
Me: Cut fabric, paper, a bit of decopage glue, a bit of good photography and then printed it on canvas and stapled it to the frame... easy.
AM: Hm. (nodds while thinking)
Me: Oh I could SO totally MAKE one of those. And it would be original too - with real fabric and everything, albeit with a bit of my style thrown in.
Laura: Ok - make me one.
AM: Oh! Me too.
Me: (takes photos of all three pieces)

So I figure - its like an art challenge - And the challenge has been accepted.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Still More from Florida

Just a few more pics from Florida and I'll be all caught up....except for the cave/camping trip.

While I was down there we went to lunch with some cousins - Joe and Rosalie. They are always such a delight - such wonderful fun to be around. Joe is an artist - as in - makes his living as an artist - which is a pretty amazing thing really. I can only hope to dream about one day being THAT successful! I snuck a photo of this great two-paneled painting in his dining room of Robert Redford and Paul Newman (pretty sure its from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). Its different colored stripes, and amazing to look at up close and then at a distance.

My folks and our cousins.

My Dad discovered he'd forgotten his watch... so....we improvised.

I kept asking him what time it was till it was correct. (It was after all correct twice.)

I had to helped draw the buckle.

My Dad and I with the crazy banana bread pudding thing that the 5 of us split because it was so huge... ugh - so yummy!

I was able to visit with a few friends - not everyone as I'd hoped to - but I ran into Anne rather randomly at the BAM - which was wonderful - caught up with Jennie at the 24 hour Starbucks, got to visit with Joy for a couple hours - and hung out with Nick and Rebecca, Adam and Roxy for dinner and a "watch out for those trunk-down elephants - they'll do you in poorly toupeed Nicholas Cage movie" (Bangkok Dangerous). Everyone that I missed - I'm sorry - but I'll be back for Christmas!

My next stop before coming home was St. Augustine for an official transcript from Flagler, a jaunt around campus for some pictures, and then a quick stop at the Castillo.

Many an afternoon and evening from 1996-2000 was spent right here, sitting on the rough coquina.

After the afternoon in St. Augustine I was able to spend a couple days in Jacksonville visiting with Laura and Annamaria. And a good time was had by all!

There was a bit of toy organization...

And then there was food...

And last but definitely not least - hot mama's in aprons!

Labels: , , , , , ,