Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New camera tripod

For the past several years, I’ve been using a really cheap tripod with my camera. I knew it wasn’t very high quality (I spent probably $20 on it years ago), but whenever I looked at higher-end tripods, the prices always scared me away.

Well, this week, after struggling with trying to get sharp pictures using a wobbly flimsy tripod while using my heavy 400mm telephoto lens, I finally decided to get a better tripod. I talked to a friend of mine who does professional photography and got some recommendations. I ended up settling on a tripod made by Manfrotto - the 190XPROB with the 486RC2 ball head attachment.

I received the tripod today and WOW, it makes a huge difference in the sharpness of my pictures vs. using the old tripod.

Here’s a picture of what the whole thing looks like with my camera attached:

IMG_0900-2.oDPCYeEAIeK1.jpg


This is a close-up of the ball head attachment. The ball head uses a nifty quick-release mechanism for quickly attaching and releasing the camera. No more scrambling to quickly turn a hard-to-reach screw to attach the camera to the tripod before a bird flies away.IMG_0901-3.cgGMYEc9OlCv.jpg

The tripod ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​a​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​l​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​s​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​o​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​i​​​​​​​​​n​​​​​​​​​​​​​c​​​​​​​​​​​​​​l​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​u​​​​​​​​​​​​​​d​​​​​​​​​​​​e​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​s​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​a​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​s​​​​​​​​​​​​​​m​​​​​​​​​​​​​​a​​​​​​​​​​​​​l​​​​​​​​​​​​l​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​s​​​​​​p​​​​​​​​​​​​​i​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​r​​​​​​​​​​i​​​​​​​​​​​t​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​l​​​e​​​​​​​​​​​v​​​​​​​​​e​​​​​​l​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​b​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ui​​​​​​​​​​​​​l​​​​​​t​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​i​​​n​​​​​​t​​​o​​​ ​​​​​​t​​​h​​​​​​e​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​fr​​​​​​​​​​​​a​​​​​​m​​​​​​e​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​f​​​​​​o​​​​​​r​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​q​​​u​​​i​​​​​​c​​​k​​​l​​​y​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​de​​​t​​​erm​​​in​​​in​​​g​​​ i​​​​​​​​​​f ​​​​​​​​​​​​th​​​e​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​tripod ​​​​​​i​​​s​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​l​​​e​​​​​​​​​v​​​e​​​​​​l​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

IMG_0902-4.TzcchQneIBLq.jpg

The tripod cost about $145, and the ball-head was another $75. Yeah, it seems very pricey compared to the $20 tripod I had before, but this thing is very well made and should last my lifetime. Plus, the key point is it lets me take noticeably better photos, so I think it’s definitely worth it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An interesting quote from "The Last Lecture"

I got a copy of the book "The Last Lecture" from some friends for Christmas. I was reading it today and came across this quote:

“No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse. At the same time, it is often within your power to make them better.”

I find it an interesting way to look at situations - it’s realistic, yet somewhat optimistic.

(In case you haven’t heard of it, “The Last Lecture” is a book based on a talk given by Randy Pausch, a professor from Carnegie Mellon, after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. You can read more about it here.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Random EyeDull Photo: Male Cardinal



It's a bit grainy, but so far this is the best I've been able to get of this guy. I often see him out the window while I'm working at my desk, but he doesn't seem to sit still for long.

Random EyeDull Photo: Female Cardinal

Random EyeDull Photo: It's all a blur



Gah! I'll get a clean shot of you one of these times!

Random EyeDull Photo: One that got away

Monday, December 21, 2009

Douglas Hut

Nice day for a hike to the hut. Got to make some fresh tracks in the
snow. Surprised no one hiked this trail yet since the snow storm.

Sled dogs?

I should have worn skis for this hike in the snow.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Lemon Blossom

It may be the first snow of the season here, but this indoor lemon
tree decided to bloom today.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thought for the day... or life

"Whatever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings; believe and cling to that doctrine, and take it as your guide." -Buddha

I came across this quote while browsing a memory book given to me for my 40th birthday a few years ago. It's definitely a good summation of how to try to live.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

TiltShift Generator

Goofing around with the TiltShift Generator camera app. Nice features
for just $0.99.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Fun Theory

I recently saw a twitter post about this thing called "The Fun Theory" (Thanks Dylan Beadle). The idea behind the initiative is to make mundane tasks fun so people are more apt to perform them.

Here's one example with a very deep trash can:


You can see all three projects (sponsored by Volkswagon) here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beautiful Fall Day

This is my favorite time of year. Cool temps, no bugs, and autumn
colors.

Friday, October 16, 2009

#beatcancer - Raise money for cancer research just by using that tag

What's this all about? It's a one day promotion to raise money for cancer research. Sponsors have agreed to donate 1 cent for every time someone uses the #beatcancer tag in a Tweet, blog post, or Facebook update for one day only - on Friday October 19 16th, 2009.

You can read more about it here: http://beatcancereverywhere.com/about.html


I'm helping to raise funds to
#beatcancer, by blogging, tweeting
and posting Facebook status
updates.

Click here to join me!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friends Don't let Friends

I got a chuckle out of this sign at a coffee shop in Albany, NY:

Lock picking

videoI've been tinkering with lock picking recently and was surprised just
how quickly I can pick a Masterlock padlock. Takes me about 5 seconds
in this video:

Random Eye Dull Photo - Mayfly

One early morning while camping I took some pictures of an idle mayfly. This is the same photo, zoomed in various levels (click on the images for larger views):



Mayflies are pretty interesting creatures - they spend most of their life underwater and then when they grow wings, they leave the water - only to live for 30 minutes to a day or two. You can read more about them on Wikipedia.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Random eye dull photo: cartoon worm

Saw this crazy colored worm on a hike today. It looks like a cartoon
character. I assume the fake eyes are to make it look like a snake,
but I think it looks kinda silly.

Update: I've been told this looks just like a Pokemon Caterpie. I had never heard of one of those, but that was enough information for me to be able to find the real caterpillar name. It's a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar. You can read more about it here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Random EyeDull Photo: Clear River

A snapshot from a kayak trip on the Clear River in Burrillville, RI earlier this summer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blueberry picking

Happy to find loads of blueberries still around in the forest... I
should have brought a larger container. I easily filled a quart-sized container.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Howard Johnsons?!?!

I didn't know there were any of these left! This one is in Lake
Placid and is one of two left in existance.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Random Eye Dull Photo: Farm

Enjoyable view from the porch while eating blueberry pancakes.
Blueberries were picked just 15 minutes ago... Doesn't get any better
than this.

Foggy mountain

Climbing in the fog...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mutant Night

One of the enjoyable activities for me in New Hampshire is playing the ol' video arcade machine with my nephews late into the night. We always seem to manage to discover some crazy game which none of us had ever heard of before, but ends up being lots of fun. Not that the game itself is necessarily that great, but its quirkiness combined with our silliness ends up making the game 10 times better.

Last night we discovered the game Mutant Night. You can read a little bit about it here. It's a very bizarre game - you play the role of an eyeball that runs around in some wacked-out world with attacking monkey skeletons, vicious sand trout (they come up out of the ground like sandworm from Dune), deadly floating flat-head screwdrivers, and other odd abstract items to which we ended up giving silly descriptive names.

The game even has a giant mechanical flounder with a freaking laser beam mounted on its head! What more could you want? How about power-up eggs that make you grow giant like in Super Mario where you can just stomp over everything you encounter, or other egg power-ups that make you produce temporarily indestructible clones? The game is just too bizarre for me to fully describe.

Anyhow, I was having a fun time playing the game, acting like an idiot, talking in a stupid sing-song loud voice narrating the game as we played, trying to explain what all the bizarre stuff we were seeing actually was. After a while we got a group of 5 us taking turns playing the game trying to see how far we could get.

Certain parts of the game seemed ridiculously hard - impossible almost - which made us try even harder at trying to get past them. At one point after trying for the 50th time to get past a certain point, I joked about how it would be funny if a person from Japan who was familiar with the game happened to see us playing and asked us why we didn't just climb inside the deadly mechanical flounder and drive it around to fight the other creatures. We all laughed and continued playing trying to fight the deadly flounder.

After several hours of playing, we finally gave up when we discovered the game had "wrapped around" back to the start level and was just now playing at an increased difficultly and was never really going to end. Since we had never watched the intro screen which may have explained the game, we decided to let the game run in demo mode. And wouldn't you know it, you really can climb inside the deadly mechanical flounder and drive it around to fight all the other creatures!

Here's a screenshot of the game showing the dreaded sand trout and a stone dragon that looks suspiciously like Bub from the game Puzzle Bubble:

Random Eye Dull Photo - Loon

Managed to use my kayak to stalk a loon. I even saw it catch a fish. Too bad my hand wasn't very steady on the water - the picture isn't in focus at all...

Random Eye Dull Photo - Crow Silhouettes

More nature photos from New Hampshire... I like the simplicity of photographing crow silhouettes. (Looks like I somehow messed up the default quality of thumbnails recently. Click on the images for less jaggy images while I search for the setting I accidentally changed...)

Random Eye Dull Photo - And what are dragons without damsels?

To go along with the previous dragonfly, here's a damselfly I also saw. I liked the shiny blue color. (Sorry the thumbnail image is kinda grainy. My auto-converter seems to be lacking...)

Random Eye Dull Photo - There be Dragons!

Saw this cool colored dragonfly up in New Hampshire.




It had a tiny red spot on the side of its neck. Not sure what it was...

Random Eye Dull Photo - Butterfly Pounce

This weekend up in New Hampshire my sister hosted a family get-together. As part of the weekend activities, my sister put together a nature photography scavenger hunt. One of the pictures we needed to get was a butterfly. This was my favorite of the ones I managed to snap:



I liked how it looks like the butterfly is pouncing on the flower...

It sure is hard to photograph a butterfly in flight. Talk about chaos!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Arcade: Mission Accomplished

I finally replaced the broken flight stick in my home-made arcade
machine with a true heavy duty arcade controller. I seriously doubt
my nephews with be able to break this. I forget which arcade game it
came from (snagged on eBay a couple years ago), but it works well with
discs of tron, which was my goal.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Accidental graffiti

It's the little things that amuse me. Some of my recently cut hair
fell in the trash this way... (ok I admit, I adjusted it slightly
after I saw it.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Stuck in a rut - literally

Today was fun. I went for a drive with a friend with the intent of going hiking. We were driving around Sutton, MA, looking for a place where the Massachusetts Mid-State Trail becomes a trail again rather than following a paved road.

We eventually found a dirt road turn where the trail headed into the woods. Since there wasn't any parking at that junction, we decided to drive along the dirt road. After a few minutes of driving, the road quality got worse and worse. Eventually, it became a rocky mud thing that somewhat resembled a dirt road, but definitely wasn't suited for most cars. I was kind of enjoying the adventure, and decided to push onward. "What's the worst that can happen?" is something I think I said to my friend at some point. The road was bad, but the worst I expected was getting some scrapes on the bottom of my SUV from some larger rocks that I might accidentally hit.

Well, it turns out something worse could happen. While my friend was outside the vehicle helping me navigate some extra large rocks - I managed to drive a little too far off the edge of road and wedged my front right tire between two very large rocks. Woops! I was being a bit impatient and rather than slowly creep around some rocks in the middle of the road, I went a bit faster and thought I was clear - and didn't even see the brush covered rock on the right that the right tire dropped over. From my friends point of view in front of the car, it looked like the right tire had just bumped into a very large rock and stopped forward progress.

The rock on the right that was behind the right tire was so well hidden, it was a few minutes before we even realized that's why the car wasn't moving. At first I though it was no big deal, that the vehicle was stuck from going forward because there was a rock in font of the right tire. And when going in reverse didn't work, I just assumed it was because left front tire was slipping on a muddy rock. After getting out of the vehicle I saw the right tire nicely placed between two very large rocks and instantly got that "OH Crap!" sick-to-the-stomach feeling.

It wasn't looking good. Both rocks were a couple feet in diameter - not something that two people could reasonably expect to be able to move. Moving the one behind the tire definitely wasn't an option - it was under the car and appeared to be well rooted in the ground. The one in front was big enough to weight about 800 pounds, maybe more. Again, not something easily moved.

So, the first thing we tried was using the car jack to raise the front of the car enough so the tire would be lifted and we could put other rocks underneath. It seemed like a good idea, but due to the way the vehicle was titled on the edge of the road, the jack, while positioned adjacent to the front tire, was actually lifting the whole back end of the vehicle. Eventually the back right tire came off the ground rather than the front right one! The weight of the engine combined with the slope of the road was working against us.

Plan B: While the rock in front of the tire was quite large, it appeared to be sitting mostly on the surface of the ground. So, there was a chance we could move it. I began to dig behind the rock while my friend went searching for something decent to use as a lever. Surprisingly, he quickly returned with 2 good quality 2x8 planks about 4 feet long that just happened to be on the side of the road not too far away. Perfect! After more digging and the coordinated use of the levers between the two of us, we we able to slowly pry and push the rock over enough so the tire was no longer obstructed. It took us about 2 hours in total to get the vehicle free. At that point, we decided we probably shouldn't push our luck and reversed direction back to better road conditions.

I think in the future, I'll keep a few more tools in my SUV than just the standard jack and tire iron. And maybe not treat my Toyota RAV4 like it's a Jeep. But where's the fun in that?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Random Eye Dull Photo - Yellow Mushrooms



Spotted these colorful mushrooms on the first sunny day after what seemed like a month of rain.

"Wait for Me"

I'm really enjoying the latest Moby album - "Wait for Me". After just one listen all the songs feel like old friends. I especially like the melancholy "Mistake" and "Jltf". Such a nice way to present those god-awful feelings of times gone bad.

If you like Moby's earlier more ambient-style moody music, this new album is definitely recommended.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Douglas State Forest

Another trail in the forest... was a nice day for a hike.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ominous skies

Crazy cloud formation directly overhead this evening... I've never
seen anything like it before.

[EDIT: thanks to The Crow I now know what these clouds are called - Mammatus clouds. Here's a link to a good description of them.]

Monday, June 01, 2009

Enjoying More with Less

Here's an interesting side effect of being self-employed and making about 1/4 the amount of money I was making at my previous corporate job. I find I'm enjoying things a lot more.

Sure, I can't afford to go out to eat every day like I used to, or buy just about any gizmo that piques my interest. But having less money, I find I'm actually much more content. I appreciate what I can afford much more. In the past, if something broke, I wouldn't think twice about buying a replacement - and this time getting something even better than what I had before. Now, if something breaks, I take the time to try to repair it. And it's a very satisfying feeling when I've successfully repaired something, knowing I'll get some more life out of the product... and I saved some money.

If only I could have appreciated the frugal lifestyle while still making a nice salary. I could have saved a whole lot of money. But, as my mom once said to me in my younger days- money burns a hole in my pocket. If I have the spare cash, I tend to spend it. I don't go into debt - I always pay my credit card balance in full each month - but other than maxing out my 401K contributions each year at my old job, I didn't do much in regards to savings.

I guess this is just another reason why I'm very happy with my decision to quit my job and try the self-employment route. Who would have thunk it? Less money is a perk! I suppose it does make sense. Since I have less money, everything I do have is now more valuable to me. I don't take things for granted because I can't easily replace what I now own.

One of my favorite Buddhist sayings has always been, "True happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have". (No, really, it wasn't that pop singer who made up the phrase...) I always knew the statement was true, but just had a hard time living it. Now it's much easier for me to enjoy more with less.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An unwelcome promotion

This past week I hosted 2 guests from Okinawa, Japan. They were visiting the Kodokai Dojo in North Smithfield to provide us with some instruction in a form of martial arts called Motobu Udundi. They were only able to visit for three days, but it was a great experience for everyone involved. Several people from our dojo have visited Okinawa in the past to learn techniques in this martial art and we've been practicing for a few years now, so it was a great opportunity for us to show our teachers what we've accomplished and get some much needed correction on details.

When I visited Okinawa this past December / January, I was dreading one aspect of the trip - the potential of being given a rank in Motobu Undundi. Even though I've been practicing this style for a few years, I don't feel confident that I know what I'm doing or that my techniques are very good. So, the last thing I wanted was to be given a black belt and then have people look at me as an example of how something is supposed to be done. Much to my relief, I was not promoted in January. My teachers had mentioned they were going to promote me, and they had me wear a black belt while taking classes at their dojo, but nothing official was ever done (again, much to my relief). So, I was quite content to return home and continue to wear my white belt and blend in with the crowd.

And I almost made it through this visit last week. While driving the two senseis back to the airport, I was asked what my current rank was in Motodbu Udundi. I said that I didn't have a rank. A discussion then ensued in Japanese between the two teachers and the end result was I was told I was being promoted to Shodan (the starting black belt rank). I was then asked what I thought of it. I explained I didn't think I was good enough to deserve it. He said that was good. The sensei then explained that he didn't think he was good enough to be called an 8th degree black belt, and that his sensei didn't feel he was good enough to be called master (10th degree - highest black belt rank), yet that was their titles.

He further explained that the point of the rank is people will now expect more of me - I will need set a good example - and this will force me to work to a higher standard. In his profession, he is a public speaker. People look to him to know what he is talking about, they expect an expert speaker, yet he doesn't feel he really is an expert. Instead, he must make sure he learns more and thoroughly knows the topic he is presenting so people have the impression he is the expert. He said, as a teacher, you end up learning a lot more than the people you are teaching.

The same applies to rank in martial arts. Being given a "promotion" in not an award - you are now being asked to do more, to live up to a higher standard than you are currently setting. It's a big responsibility and that's one of the reasons I've been trying to avoid it for so long. And I almost avoided it this time - if only the drive to the airport had been a bit shorter...

So now, like my sensei said tonight at class, it's up to me what I do with this new responsibility. Hopefully I won't disappoint anyone.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Time for Bullies

While eating dinner this evening I decided to do something I rarely do. I turned on the television. I caught the end a National Geographic program about stress, its causes, and how some baboon studies were giving some insights into how stress affects health.

One interesting event was described where a certain troop of baboons experienced a mass death in the early 80s. The baboons had been foraging in a garbage dump for food and ate some meat tainted with tuberculosis. The majority of the baboons that died were those that were considered "alpha males". They were the most aggressive and dominant of the troop. As the researcher put it, the remaining male baboons left alive were "nice guys". This dramatically changed the social behaviors in this particular baboon troop - less time fighting and more time was spent grooming. As a result, the baboons had reduced stress levels (as shown by medical tests) vs. baboon in other troops.

Even more interesting, this change in baboon culture has been preserved for 20 years. Adolescent male baboons normally leave their troop and find a new troop to call their home. When a new adolescent baboon arrived in this troop, it displayed the usual "jerky male" behavior of a normal baboon, but after about 6 months, the baboon some how learned that the jerky behavior was not acceptable in this troop and he became more passive.

It's a very interesting study. You can read more about it here: http://www.primates.co.uk/baboons/culture.html

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saturday Morning Physics

Some days I'm just struck by how much there is to know about the world, how much I'd like to learn, and how little time I really have to get things done. There are so many things that interest me, but there's no possible way I can dedicate time to all the topics.

Today I ran across this video podcast series called "Saturday Morning Physics" (link opens iTunes). It's a series of 45 to 60 minute long physics lectures from the University of Michigan designed for the general public. Based on the audience in the videos (retirees), it appears these lectures were probably really given on Saturday mornings for the general public. (Not many college students would get up early on a Saturday morning to listen to a physics lecture for fun.)

Anyhow, it's an amazing resource, currently with 38 videos available - and it's just one small piece of an enormous collection of education videos found on the Internet.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A real spring day

I took advantage of some real spring weather today (with temps in the low 60s rather than the mid-80s we've had recently) and decided to ride the full length of the Blackstone River Bikeway.

I didn't bring my full-size camera with me, but did have my iPhone with the Pano app, so I took a few pictures.

The path starts about a mile from my condo at a recreation park. It has a bunch of soccer fields along with a small pitch and putt golf course. (As usual, you can click on the images for a larger view...)



Since the Blackstone River was a site of the industrial revolution, there are lots of old mill buildings along the path as well as dams and waterfalls.



One of the parking lots for the bikeway is the site of an old drive-in movie theater. I thought it was nice the town is showing a good sense of humor with keeping the original sign:



Unfortunately, the southern most portion of the bikeway has seen better days. Every sign and stone bench in the last mile or so of the path was covered with gang tag graffiti. This one sign is an example.



But, at least one of the graffiti people apparently loves me:



For future rides, I may turn back at the bridge on the Lincoln / Cumberland town line. It's just a bit discouraging seeing all the vandalism.

One the ride back, I stopped at the RT 116 bridge to ride a short dirt path up a peninsula that gives a very peaceful view of the river.