Friday, July 18, 2014


Catey (& Bear),

Here's to many more sunsets together. 


Thursday, June 26, 2014


24th Street BART Stairs and Escalator, (Halloween?) 2011.
Ever since about age 7, I have had a tremendous respect for escalators. It was then that a loose shoelace on my Keds shoe wormed its way into the toothed crack on the edge of an escalator at a mall. It was like a movie where the victim is oblivious, and doomed. The lace slowly lost its slack, then tugged, and pulled on my foot, tightening the shoe as I pulled away in horror. As the mechanized steps churned upward, I quickly began to envision the loss of a leg, and I pulled...pulled! The white rubber on the side of the shoe neared the jagged chrome jaw's grimace at an even pace. Rubber entered the jaw silently, pinched between the moving parts, as my foot shrunk back, into a tighter and tighter fist, away from the mechanical menace. The deli knife. Meanwhile, inches away, miles from the focus of my attention, some sharp metal object was slowly fraying the shoelace. Just as the escalator reached the top where another jagged set of teeth glistened in wait, at once the lace sheared, the rubber flap fell, separate from my shoe, and I launched, unscratched but forever scarred, to the mall floor, the only sound in my ears my own helpless shriek.

Nowadays, I enjoy photographing their steps, which turn into a blurring river when a long exposure is employed.

I think the above photo must have been from Halloween. Doesn't the guy ascending the escalator look like he's wearing a jail suit costume? I am not the best about notetaking when I shoot, so I can only guess that's the case. The roll was developed in November 2011 (remember film? no date-stamp on the file), so that strengthens the case. 

I shot the photo below in Vegas this past April. Without a tripod, I was lucky to notice that a railing is positioned perfectly for a camera. You can guess what my decision was. First, what better way to kill time while waiting for your bag? That's what I figured, even though I didn't check any bags. 

First Las Vegas Decision, April 2014.

With my rediscovered love for escalators*, I was curious, and had to do a quick Google search on "escalator function"...somehow I didn't get that far, but I found this. Here's a video that I'm certain would go viral with a little editing and a fitting soundtrack. The title is also unfortunate and -- don't worry -- very misleading. [Really, really dumb title, guys.]

*I know this is obvious, but this is the great thing about the internet for our generation. So many things from our past that inspired curiosity or wonder when we were children, before the internet, and only encyclopedias, can now so easily be learned, or re-learned. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Earth is Expanding

Surely you're familiar with the term "wormhole." This is an internet time-burrow that one enters into when a topic crosses one's mind. If you google a single word like "Chee-tos", the search engine returns a thousand tangential keywords, videos, images, items available for purchase, and soon you've made a bad decision: a) Slouched for 3 hours over a laptop watching war archive films; b) Purchased a box of a thousand discontinued keychains; or c) Applied for a falconry apprenticeship in Brazil.

The one I entered into this afternoon is one that I don't regret. I think I've just been converted to believe that the Earth is expanding, rather than believing what I've been taught all my life: that the seafloor is spreading, and parts of the crust are burying back into the mantle simultaneously.

Here's how I got there.

I recently ordered a book off Amazon for an amazingly low price. (I don't recall what got me on the internet that day, but it wasn't specifically to buy this book!) I first saw it in a bookstore last Christmas and was tempted to pick one up for one of the frequent-flying members of Catey's family. America from the Air, co-authored in 2007 by  Daniel Mathews, a natural history writer, and James S. Jackson, a geology professor at Portland State. It's written for commercial jet passengers (and employees) who share my habit of gazing at landforms and civilization-caused shapes, and guessing what they are as I fly. I have photographed only a few because of the low quality that usually ensues through those plastic double windows. Here's one near Las Vegas showing a solar farm that I've tried unsuccessfully to find on Google Earth. 

Where the Sun is Grown, near Las Vegas, April 21, 2014.

Accompanying the book is a CD-ROM with a nationwide flight map and USGS Map #i2781: The North American Tapestry of Time and Terrain (downloadable PDF file). Zooming in on the Great Lakes, after some study, I thought to myself that it looks like the Great Lakes sort of exploded from the center of Michigan. Can see what I was imagining? Different colors reflect different ages of underground geology -- click on the link above to see the entire map and its legend.

Geologic Bubble Centered in Michigan - Source: USGS i2781
So I googled: "is the earth's volume increasing". The common secod way of digging further into our wormholes is the Wikipedia page. And, I was in.

It turns out there's a comedian and graphic artist Neal Adams who has promoted the concept of the earth expanding. If you want to save yourself from the risk of wormholing, skip Wikipedia and watch this 10-minute video. I think you'll be convinced too. (Forgive the odd soundtrack that spans from 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Nutcracker Suite.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

What's up? Dogwood.

Spring is well on its way. I am well overdue in posting due to a month full of travel -- first to Las Vegas and then to Palm Springs: two otherwise uninhabitable desert oases built and thriving on will power and stubbornness, seemingly. I did bring a camera both places, and you can expect to see some content from them soon. 

First, a bit about Cornus, dogwood. Many are familiar with dogwood, or at least aware that there is a shrub called dogwood. My favorite thing about the genus of plants is the "dogwood test" -- when one pulls a leaf apart width-wise, making a horizontal tear, fibrous strands within the leaf hold it together. It's the coolest thing! And a good way to tell whether you're looking at a dogwood. This is illustrated here.

But if you aren't feeling like mutilating an innocent shrub, you can look for strong venation in the leaves -- studying the photo below may help. Also, look for opposite leaves and branches. What do I mean opposite? The leaf stems and branching come off of the larger branches beneath directly across from each other. For an example of this, look at the branch toward lower-right-center below. It is like an inverted "Peace" symbol without the circle around it.  Can you see it?

Most shrubs and trees are branched "alternately", or as one goes up the stem, the smaller branches are arranged one, then another upward and across, then another, etc. -- not paired. 

MADCapHorse is a mnemonic device I just learned from the blog brilliantbotany to help remember the groups of plants that are opposite-branched and opposite-leaved. The first three letters, M, A, and D stand for Maple, Ash, Dogwood; Cap represents the honeysuckles Caprifoliaceae; and Horse chestnuts are not to be forgotten as opposite either. Elderberries are also opposite but no longer in Caprifoliaceae (now Adoxaceae); and buckeyes are too. MADCapBuckingHorseAdox is more like it.

Cornus sericea (red-osier dogwood), Marin County, April 2013.
And, I might as well throw in a stitched triptych (stryptich? trypstitch?) of Bear on the local woodsy dog path. A good place to hear Swainson's thrush sing this time of year. Above him is a large oak, and below that are many wild plums or cherries (both with alternate branches).

Beardog checks out the path to Eastwood Park, Tam Valley, CA, April 2013. 3 separate frames stitched together with Hugin.