Sunday, August 24, 2008

New Orleans levees, St. Louis and the COE


Friday the AP reported on a year-long study (update: at link's dead, try this one) it's done of flood prevention work in New Orleans and public perception of the hazard. They claim to have tracked

a pattern of public misperception, political jockeying and legal fighting, along with economic and engineering miscalculations since Katrina, that threaten to make New Orleans the scene of another devastating flood.
It appears that many of NOLA's residents are confident that a flood can't happen there again.
Here's a good quote:

Ameliorating that last instinct [development in risky areas] is the business of Joe Sullivan, the 82-year-old city engineer who's overseen the New Orleans drainage and water department for nearly a half century.

"We keep building in holes, and contractors keep trying to move in and take advantage of a situation: They come in with a bunch of contractors, sell off property in low places, take their money and run," Sullivan said.
I can't help but think about the Chesterfield Valley and it's new "500 year" levee. I've talked about this quite a bit this year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A couple of Em4 Winona photos


A couple more photos from our Em4 installation at Winona State. Here's our Jesse at left, then faculty Toby Dogwiler, Cathy Summa, and me after we completed the installation on August 6.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Watermelons and mohawk hairdos.


Between the flu bug I brought back from Winona, which laid me out all last weekend, and having to jump from that to finish a huge report for our Detroit stream work, I haven't had much time or inclination to post here. It was a tough week.

We made great progress on the Em4 and our size-coded media this week, but just a few personal things for now:

Jesse and I stopped in Champaign on our way back from Winona and visited my best friends. Here's part of the family--Harold Allston and his son Langston. I was their next door neighbor on Healey Street there for eight years, and watched little Langey grow up, babysitting him now and then. I can't imagine a cooler, kinder 16 year old, and he's smart, handsome, and quietly confident, too. Yep, that's a mohawk, and he's cool enough to carry it off just fine.

We found out JaJa the wonder dog likes watermelon, and it's a real hoot to watch him eat it.

Kate and I did 30 miles this morning, stopping to visit Devin and Cara's amazing garden, which has the biggest sunflowers I've ever seen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Em4 moves.


I'm just too damn busy with consulting work to post much now, but here's a little Quicktime movie showing the Em4's articulation mechanism, made from a series of stills in Winona State's wetlab. You can see Toby Dogwiler and Cathy Summa (the faculty we worked with) along with me (Steve), Jesse, and a few students and visitors who dropped by.

The Em4 moves 8 degrees (5 percent, I think I have that right) in the roll and pitch axes, both at the same time if you're coordinated.

This movie will give you a hint of the incredible capabilities of the model. I initially designed it with video in mind, but we're currently not funded for that, having struck out with NSF. This thing, especially with the new media, will make some fantastic movies when we do have the money.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Winona State Em4 is complete.



After a 14-hour drive yesterday, Jesse and I delivered and assembled the articulation system for Winona State's Em4 today. The model went together beautifully, and, after months of work, is now complete. We're all very happy. More later.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Weekend update.



What an extraordinarily stormy year this has been. Here are spectacular clouds above our house in Carbondale yesterday. Kate and I arrived in Carbondale with the Em4 just in time to miss nearly 4 inches of rain that fell Wednesday evening in just a couple of hours. The storm knocked out power at SIUC for most of the next day.

We had a big week--The Em4 is done and being readied for delivery to Winona State. Jesse was off most of the week and for his 29th birthday on Friday. He is worried about turning 30, and getting zero sympathy from the rest of us.

Dayna has been fighting the many-headed healthcare Hydra, and found more reasonable coverage for us. What a huge, painful issue this is. Our health care system is horribly broken and I'm hoping we'll soon get some people in Washington who give a damn.

Cara was very busy with Emriver calls, both sales and techincal issues (all good things, mostly people wanting to push the envelope), and with a wetland restoration project. She's also working on the Em4 media production, which is a continuing challenge. We are closing in on a reliable supply of the color-coded media. We continue to get DVD orders from all over the world.

I rode my bike 40 hard miles this (Sunday) morning. My computer says I burned nearly 2,000 calories. I'm learning a ride like this really kills the urge to have my weekend beers, and pretty much do anything else for the remainder of the day.