Wednesday, October 31, 2007

514 gets the right colors, maybe.

Angie Devore arrived this morning to paint our logo on the big overhead door. We decided to make the street number unambiguous while we were at it. Cool font I think (Gill sans something).

The logo and the yellow and green door look great, but Dayna wisely noted that we have maybe too many themes going, considering the ironwork on the windows.

One thing's for sure, the building isn't blending into the urban landscape like it used to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More production, some of it backwards.

We got a second shop bike, a 1979 Raleigh 3-speed with a skirt-compatible frame.

Jesse and Barrett made Emriver wiring harnesses.

I spent a half hour playing with the woodworking equipment.

Yes, playing.

Pitiful in a way because I've owned a nice shop for over a month now. And a few canoes, and video cameras, and river models, and other cool things, none of which I actually "play" with, contrary to mythology. Some day.

After much debate and color analysis we painted the big door swimming pool blue and then projected and traced the LRRD logo onto it. Backwards. As we waited for the evening sun to get just right so the overhead projector could overcome it, we flipped the logo and made it bigger and everything worked out, and tomorrow it'll be painted in glorious green.

Monday, October 29, 2007

First day of Emriver production.

We made the turn from setting up shop to production of Emriver model parts today. A very important day.

Here Jesse machines some acrylic tubing for some of these things.

Dayna and Cara are doing amazing things. Dayna brought us together for a conference on arranging her office this afternoon, and as usual I saw a lot of respect, humor, and intelligence.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fun in Carbondale, finally, with photos.

Kate was invited by an art student friend to a Glove Factory happening downtown, but nothing was happening, so we visited some nearby bars. We hiked a few blocks down the railroad tracks. It was a beautiful night, another I'm lucky enough to spend with Kate.

The leopard skin ceiling belongs to Fusion. We're not sure what that skin and those lights are trying to say.

The next photo is just outside, looking west along East Main (just a couple blocks from our building), of a very alluring Kate. And at last, a picture Kate took of me clowning with electrical equipment along the railroad tracks.

And then (I haven't figured out how Blogger arranges these photos) Kate's long exposure shadow crossing ABC Liquors.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Media clowns, ecology, and the grid.

Flew home today from fieldwork in suburban Detroit, more than ever aware of how people have changed the landscape.

I only watch TV when I'm traveling, and caught some coverage of the California fires. Most of the media are no more than clowns, and I mean that in the literal sense--entertainers with no substance.

Here's a photo I took this afternoon between Chicago and Decatur--a typical northern Illinois landscape. There is no nature left. Not one-half a percent of the soil you see here is unturned. You can fly over hours of this in the Midwest. Do these changes effect our climate and ecosystems, the chemistry of runoff? Fisheries? How many gallons of diesel went into the plowing? Lord have mercy, these things are obvious, but watching TV you'd never know.

I'm being unscientific and cynical, but watching the media clowns interview the Bush appointee climate-change-is-a-myth clowns has provoked me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Octopus trees in surburban Detroit.

I earned my money today, going from a 6am puddle jumper to Chicago to Detroit and thence to car rental and some 80 mph eight-lane interaction with the singularly aggressive and big car driving Motor City populace before putting on my waders on a street in McMansionland ("Going hunting?" said the yap dog-walking retired condo lady) and busting through a couple of miles of briar patches to lay out transects on this urban stream.

Maybe you know about "telephone pole trees" on depositional floodplains--the basal flair gets buried and they come straight out, like poles. I've worked on this stream (nameless to protect the innocent) for years, but never noticed that there are many trees on part of its floodplain that show an "octopus" form in which material has been eroded from the base. It's not just this single tree--it occurs uniformly over a kilometer or so of linear stream length. The trees seem happy otherwise.

This area has gone from mostly farmland to upscale suburb in the last 15 years. I think a developer scraped the the floodplain, leaving soil around the trees that was later removed by flooding, but I'm open to suggestions. It's a very low slope/energy system, very stable now.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Good planes, bad planes, stuck in Decatur.

If only our little Mesa Airlines Beechcraft had looked like this today. When when landed in Decatur enroute to Chicago (I'm supposed to start fieldwork in Detroit tomorrow) a landing gear door came loose.

Apparently such thing can take hours, even days to fix here. We waited for an hour and nobody in a white coat showed up. I'm stuck here at least for tonight. Karmic balance for all the airborne luck we had last weekend, maybe. I took the commuter from Marion to save a few hours of driving to St. Louis, and now it's costing me a day, at least. Air service is a real problem for southern Illinois.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Houston, we have stereo.

Finally. We have both great aerial river video and some good stereo work. This frame from the video shows the Hwy 13 bridge over the Big Muddy River in Murphysboro, Illinois.

Working on the video this morning, I thought we'd blown it. Somebody, we're still trying to figure out who, but somebody on the aircraft put their big mitts on the the cams and adjusted their pitch in flight, messing up the alignment. But John's great flying made up for it, and this pass over the bridge, with close tree tops and the bridge and its light poles, gave just the right combination of objects and distance. It looks very cool in stereo.

If you're versed in stereo photography, click on the photo for a full resolution version.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stereo aerial river video

We worked on aerial river video this morning. It was forced because my collaborator needs his twin HD cameras back. I wasn't in the mood ( and spent a lot of time last night getting the equipment ready), but the weather turned out to be gorgeous, and thanks to Jesse's early (and generous) arrival, you can see his photo of me adjusting the cameras on John Cotter's trike as the sun rises.

The whole thing is a ridiculously complicated mix of very busy people, digital video (in stereo, don't get me started), John's unique aircraft and flying ability, the weather and geomorphology of Jackson County, and our determination to do some cool river aerials.

We had a beautiful, clear morning with non-bumpy air and amazing fall colors. Last week's 2-3 inches of rain scrubbed the dry landscape and filled the creeks and lakes. John made a few takeoffs and landings to get things set.

I've reviewed most of the tape and we have some awesome 2D (normal) video. The colors are striking, with lots of green, the fall colors, and mostly harvested fields that show a lot of texture and color in the morning light.

I hope the cameras were aligned and separated so that we get good stereo on the low altitude shots. I don't have time to process and render the tapes now, but we'll see. Making stereo video, especially in HD, is not a trivial thing.

In the other photo you can see John (thanks for your great flying and patience) with the cameras on his control bar, and the little Vari-Zoom monitor we rigged for him at left center.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Elegant design and the Emriver

Kate got out the old Coleman stove tonight. She'll use it tomorrow to heat up cider for a Green Earth event.

I've been around this model since I was little, and as I helped her set it up I noticed the elegent design. What it does is not simple; there's a pressure tank and the air/fuel mix has to be preheated and sprayed just so. It folds and stores very efficiently.

These aren't fancy, there's absolutely no extra paint or metal or anything else. But there isn't anything missing, either. We used this stove for eight months straight when we were traveling in our Vanagon, and it never gave us trouble.

The Emriver model was designed to be like this, and I think we've succeeded. There is some room for cost saving. All the metal is now aluminum or stainless, which could be replaced with painted steel, for example. But it is very much like this Coleman stove, and I'm proud of that.

Marketing and other dirty words

This is my favorite outtake from last year's photo shoot of the Emriver. Here Lennie and Liz wait for us to fix the gigantic strobe system (WWII looking control box at lower left) my friend Marty the photographer brought along.

You have to get your thing out there to sell it.

Cara called some Emriver clients today to see how they're doing with the models, and good ideas for improving and expanding our work came along. As we were told by her references, she's a great scientist and person, and people respond to that. She also worked on placing ads in professional journals. Very professionally.

And her calls and mine confirmed that people like the model and it's doing good things out there (but they never call to tell us that, we have to call them).

Because of my experience with other consultants, and with the corporate world, I'm uncomfortable with marketing and selling and keep having to remind myself that we do this for the common good. Cara, Dayna, and Jessie are good reminders.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cara meets the Emriver

Cara, Barrett and I set up the Emriver model for the first time at 514 East Main today, and I took a sequence of photos.

Jesse used some 1960's metal kitchen cabinets left by Peter as bases for machines, and Dayna bravely took care of the books and also major duties for the Bioneers conference this week.

And here's James Throgmorton laying down the law yesterday on RAID arrays and how our computer system will work with minimal influence by Bill Gates. It was excellent.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blur. Blur good.

Kate was very sick with GI problems all weekend, I was so worried. She was supposed to have a CAT scan this morning, but felt better and cancelled it.

Usually I keep these short, but here's my day today.

Went to work very tired and: Met with Cara and Dayna and I hope did not appear too out of it, negotiated a contract with lawyers in *redacted* to do an urban stream monitoring project; talked with Mike Slattery at TCU about the lab manual for Emriver; fixed the damn phones again; worked with Cara on her email; made coffee with spoiled cream; scheduled surveyors and benchmark setting for *redacted*; forgot to help Cara plot her trip to Sedalia, Missouri.

Had pizza with Kate for lunch, which made her sick again, she's seeing the doc tomorrow, maybe a CAT scan after all.

Had a long meeting with James Throgmorton, Cara and Dayna on our computer and software situation (no pics, left my camera at work)--we dicussed open source options, Basecamp (which we've been using and like), and ways to use Macs and avoid ever compensating Bill Gates again. Lawyers in *redacted* agreed to my conditions. Some guy came in to sell Loony Tunes posters during all this and Jesse sent him away (is there a 514 East Main Vortex?) The social workers came to talk to the homeless, hopelessly alcholic guys who hang out next to the building, suplimented this week by Rainbow people so that we had a record total of 15 souls sitting on a slab just east of our doorway yesterday when I arrived. The ironies with our high tech (3D video of moveable-bed river models a few feet from people who sit on a milk crate and drink all day) and liberalness are overwhelming; Dayna has done a great job with the City to address this, but what the hell can we do? Back to today, Jesse, Barrett and I examined the back walls and went up into the attic to determine how to waterproof and drain the floor and get water to our wetlab and a camera up through the ceiling to around 12 feet (for the 4 meter model). Cara was great on her second day and Dayna as well, especially since she's a major player in the Bioneers conference here, and she went to Neighborhood Co-op board meeting tonight and I didn't because I'm exhausted, sorry.

We had our first meeting with a consultant to us, that was cool, and I was very proud of Dayna and Cara and James did a good job.

All my selfish perspective, of course, just one day, and I left some things out. The photo is from a year or so ago when Kate and I went to St. Louis with Marty's old Ford to pick up 10 Emriver boxes.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday Farmers' Market, cruel popsicles.

Kate worked on Green Earth stuff all morning; I went to the Carbondale Farmer's Market. To my surprise it was humming today. You can hear a dozen languages there and see people from all over the world. Here's Patrick, one of my favorite local growers. We toured his farm this summer--it's really incredible.

Speaking of diversity, Kate and I later ducked into International Grocery and found these wonderful green bean popsicles. What do parents say, "No desert unless you eat your broccoli!"

"Only for grownups," the owner said, to our relief. There were two different brands.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Production. Burritos. The workbench.

Kate delivered take-out burritos for all at lunchtime, was her charming and beautiful self and then as usual won the gross-out joke contest. Now I'm just a few blocks away from her all day, and I like that.

Jesse and Barrett made progress on their massive workbench made of the big cherry bolts that Peter left for us. The wood is very knotty, cross-grained, and cracked. It's salvage wood, and I'm sure it has been picked over a few times. But it's strong and as full of soul as wood can be.

We'll spend thousands of hours around this bench, using its vices, sitting, standing, sawing, filing, gluing, soldering, cussing and pondering. Unlike other tools--the computers and digital cameras that will come and go in a blink, it'll probably be going strong in some form when I'm dead.

We moved five Emriver boxes out of storage today and into the building. You can see them in the background here. I hope to see this pile dwindle quickly. Jesse's at left, next to his makeshift desk.

I made the first payment on our building loan today.

Radiohead's new album is as good as I'd hoped for, with some weird purchasing options. I got the MP3's.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A desk outside the box.

We're nearly done with reworking the office space in our new building as we anxiously weigh time spent on that against moving on to research and design of river models.

The extra time paid off. Realizing we didn't need two entrance doors (the place was built for retail), we converted a door and foyer into some primo sunlit office space. Dayna brought in a beautiful old government surplus oak desk this morning; Barrett and Jesse put a new finish on it and took out the old typewriter carriage. Here the three of them ponder the arrangement.

Everybody's worked hard--Dayna on marketing the river model and taking care of business, and Barrett and Jesse on finishing the office space.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cara and family in Carbondale (and an explanation).

The explanation: We (all the LRRD folks and Kate) finally met Cara Bergschneider and her husband and two wonderful kids last Friday, and it occurred to me tonight that readers might think that large occasion wasn't important.

But of course is was, but aside from being Steve-centric, this blog is photo-centric and I don't post pictures of people unless they're OK with it, and probably never pictures of identifiable children, so it went unmentioned here, but not because it wasn't a huge day, and Cara and her family are about as photogenic as it gets.

This is a good time to explain that this blog is akin to telling your friends you're giving up cigarettes. I want to record these days. At least a few good friends are reading and that forces me to write and record these images.

I usally make them, but this one is from, Van Gogh's (the British correctly pronounce it "van goff") "Skull with cigarette."

514 and inhabitants evolve, and other fluid mechanics.

At first we thought we'd rough it in our new offices with bare concrete floors. But the noise of the machines was a problem, so Dayna worked on getting some carpet. One thing led to another and she, Barrett, and Jesse ended up making our office space a cool, comfortable one. If our future work goes like this, organic, adaptive, smart, efficient, and respectful, we'll do very well. The view here is east from the newly carpeted and painted "yellow room" through the workshop, with Jesse and Barret working on soundproofing the doors to the workshop.

Last night I re-read my worn copy of Steven Vogel's amazing book "Life in Moving Fluids." It integrates biology and physiology and many other things with fluid mechanics and general physics, all with a terse wit. He's interested in working with us on swim tunnels, and I hope to have him here to speak at SIUC and consult with us a bit early in 2008.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Emriver ad in greyscale, railroad pennies.

I made a 1/4 page ad for Fisheries Magazine this weekend. The scene is crowded, and the only guy's head was cut off (sorry Lennie), but the ad is only 3.5" wide by 4.7" tall, and and this was the only photo of many that fit. All eyes are focused on Kimi's hand and there's a feeling of fun--it's a powerful image that captures how people feel and behave around the model.

I worked my way through high school and college doing photography and graphics. Color ads in these journals are crazy expensive. After years of having free use of color, I liked the challenge of black and white.

Kate and I put some pennies on the tracks next to the Long Branch last week, and on a long bike ride today I retrieved a couple.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mary Lou's Diner, Carbondale.

Where a lot of people and bands who were hot in 1975, nationwide and otherwise, are featured on the walls.

As we lunched there today Kate noticed that the woman leaving here could not pay for her coffee. "Don't worry about it, Hon," the waitress said.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Video, getting paid, and adjunctness.

Here's an anti-vibration mount I made a while back when trying to not destroy my video cameras by bolting them to an ultralight aircraft.

I did destroy a camera on the airplane, but Kate and I made a funny movie with this little rig.

We were paid for our 2-year DVD project today, an important milestone in LRRD's history. And cash flow.

I've just been made adjunct in Zoology at SIUC, and am honored, thanks Matt. Very good news--I look forward to working with him and helping river ecosystems--that's why LRRD exists.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Drowning machines and communication.

We were busy demonstrating our river model, and I had time for only a couple of talks at the Governor's Conference on Management of the Illinois River System. These were on dam removal and dangers in northeastern Illinois. Many run of the river, low head dams are "drowning machines." This warning sign is typical, and I was struck by how our video work could better illustrate hydraulics at these dams. This sign just doesn't scare me much, but I think something based more on reality could.

Here's an example
--something I grabbed from recent work in which we were playing with our logo. Not quite right for a drowning machine (not enough backwater), but close. Are you afraid of "hazardous recirculating currents?"

The photos show Jesse demonstrating the Emriver model (and our video displays) and packing up in front of the Holiday Inn before heading home.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Emriver in Peoria.

After nearly scattering the river model all over I-55 yesterday (my fault) Jesse and I made it to the Governor's Conference on the Illinois River, where we set up the model and a couple of monitors showing our video work and such. It was very popular, and I enjoyed seeing lots of long lost colleagues with the state surveys (here ISGS guys, including Drew).

Thirteen hours of hobnobbing today, but most of it enjoyable. Photo by Jesse who very patiently listened to me explain the model (and other things) over, and over, and over.

Monday, October 1, 2007

An idealist for thirty years.

I'm not much on birthdays or god (especially considering the current uses of religion) but I dreamed last night that I met god, and only at lunch today did Kate notice "it was on your birthday!" Not sure what that means, but I hope that I'm not due for a real meeting. Not soon, anyway.

I tried to find a digital image of my parents, but found this instead, me at the US Coast Guard Academy in 1977. As a "swab" or freshman, I'm mopping and gathering newspapers.

I applied because we were poor and it was a ticket to an Ivy League education, and I wanted to save lives on the high seas. I resigned because I couldn't tolerate the "Mikey Mouse." Respecting rank regardless of character. Imagine that these days.

My experiences there were unbelievable--A year of of intense training and stress and learning; but of course I'm glad I left. I wish those who stayed, and those who left, all the best.