Monday, July 30, 2007

Voice of America Park Panorama

On Sunday, Dianne and I went to the former Voice of America site North of Cincinnati that has been turned into a park. It is a large parcel of land that has lots of wild growth to separate a lake for boating and fishing, many soccer fields, a pavilion, and a hill for sliding in the winter. We walked up the hill to take some photos for a panorama. Click here for a single photo of Dianne and me on top of the hill (the Voice of America building is just to the left of us in the background. Here is a 360 degree panorama from the top of the hill. Finally, thanks to the Daily Dose of Imagery site, I made a globe view from the panorama that shows me standing on top of Earl World. It's a neat effect with the water towers above the horizon.

Earl World Panorama Globe

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New 7 Wonders & Panoramas

You probably heard several weeks ago the New 7 Wonders project released the voting results for the New 7 Wonders of the World. What I just Stumbled Upon yesterday was a Danish site that has QTVR panoramas for each of the New Wonders. You control the view to pan and zoom the area around each of the Wonders. Very well done! Check 'em out.

Oh, by the way, the New 7 Wonders project is now taking nominations for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Go to the project site to make your nomination.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Textile Project

My project for the day was to take some photos for the "Macro Mondays" Flickr group. This week's theme is textiles. I used the exercise as another way to experiment with my new flash units. I'm getting a better feel for the effects created when you move them around or change the flash intensity. There are a lot of options to consider. I put some of the photos together in a mosaic shown below using fd's Flickr toys. You can also go here to see the entire textile set or click on the captions below to go to a larger version of each block in the mosaic. I think my favorite is the block in the lower right (textile 10). What do you think?

Many thanks to Cathy for providing a bag of fabric for this experiment!

Textile Composite

1. Textile 9, 2. Textile 8, 3. Textile 7, 4. Textile 6, 5. Textile 5, 6. Textile 4, 7. Textile 20, 8. Textile 19, 9. Textile 18, 10. Textile 17, 11. Textile 16, 12. Textile 15, 13. Textile 14, 14. Textile 13, 15. Textile 12, 16. Textile 10

Attention Crash and RSS Feeds

I'll admit it...I'm a blogging addict. I like to post and I also enjoy reading posts and commenting at other sites. I don't actually surf to most sites though. Instead I follow their RSS feeds using Bloglines (which I'm not entirely happy with lately -- let me know what your favorite RSS tool is). A feed reader is convenient in that you can quickly scan posts and just click on a few of interest. But even with that, the number of blogs I was following was getting out of control.

Several weeks ago I ran across a post by Steve Rubel on the Micro Persuation blog about Attention Crash. In short, he makes the point that information is relatively easy to get everywhere. From newspapers, TV, radio, the Internet, mobile phones, etc. In fact, information is so plentiful that it's easy to overwhelm your capability to keep up.

I reached an attention crash. I've cut back on the number of blogs I'm reading regularly. I have a few groups I look at almost daily (e.g. photo sites, cooking/recipe sites, news sites, local blogs). There are a couple others tossed in -- a gadget site, a couple humor sites, and a couple folks who are frequent visitors. That keeps it more manageable. Am I missing some things? Probably. But if they are very important or viral, they'll probably show up on one of these sites. At least I'm not feeling guilty for getting behind on my RSS reading or experiencing a regular, personal attention crash.

Accident in Oshkosh

Just saw this sad CNN story about two P-51 planes that collided yesterday on landed at the EAA's AirVenture show in Oshkosh. This AP news photo, and the other included with the article, were captured just as the collision occurred.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Disparity = Disinterest?

I was surprised to read the comments on Miss Print’s post, at the Roller Derby Diva blog, about last Saturday’s Cincinnati Rollergirls bout. A couple folks commented about how the disparity in the score between the Dames and Corsets has resulted in them losing interest in the CRG-only bouts. I hope these comments aren’t representative of the crowd. I was surprised since that thought never crossed my mind, I’m looking forward to all the upcoming matches. Here’s why.

First of all, I’m probably more of a Corsets fan so I’d like to see them win a match as much as the next guy. The first intra-league match was pretty close compared to last weekend’s event. For whatever reason, things didn’t gel for the Corsets last Saturday and it wasn’t meant to be. Nevertheless, I didn’t get any inkling that they were easing up in the least. I think the fact that the difference in score didn’t continue to grow was evidence of that. If they’re giving it their all, I don’t understand a derby fan losing interest.

One of the benefits of watching an intra-league match is that you can focus on individual performance and effort – it really doesn’t matter what team they are on. I follow skaters on both teams. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing Sadie or EMolition zip around the track, weave through the pack, catch a whip from a teammate, and do it all again? Listen to the crowd collectively gasp when Panterrorize or Collier Mama gives a hard block and knocks someone out of bounds. Maybe it’s because I can barely stand on skates, but I find that amazing and a lot of fun to watch! Pick any skater and watch them during a jam. If they’re focused and giving it their all, that makes for a good roller derby event. At this level, it doesn’t matter to me what the score is.

The Cincinnati Rollergirls’ league has come a long way in just a single year! Athletic ability, event conduct and logistics, and publicity have improved dramatically. Is everything perfect? Of course not. There’s always room for improvement and I’m sure they will continue to improve on all fronts. I hope they have great fan support for all their upcoming matches, intra-league or not.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cicada Exoskeleton

I just got some new macro flash units for my camera. On Sunday I put together a macro photography light tent in the basement. I did a little playing with the flash units and the commander unit that controls them.

Thanks to Michele, I had a great subject to experiment with. She had sent over an exoskeleton she found in her garden that was left behind by a cicada. I took some photos from different angles. The first photo below shows the slit in the back where the cicada exited from the exoskeleton shell. Clicking on each photo will take you to larger versions in Flickr or you can go to the photo set here.



Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Blog -- Songs in Haiku

Dianne liked the idea of summarizing a song in haiku, so we decided to establish another blog. It's called Songs in Haiku. Pat, a big music listener, is a co-author as well. Our goal is to post at least one haiku a day. I'm hoping between the three of us there will be a good variety so you'll see a familiar song. I moved my entries from the other day to the new site and Pat and Dianne have added several so it's off to a good start.

The posts about songs I'm very familiar with are the funniest for me. Dianne's take on the Alabama Song and Pat's post on Another Brick in the Wall both made me chuckle.

Check out the new site! Bookmark it and come back often. I've added it to my blog roll on the right for convenience.

CRG -- Scars and Stripes

On Saturday evening, Dianne and I went to watch the Cincinnati Rollergirls' Scars and Stripes event at the Cincinnati Gardens. It was a match between the two CRG teams -- the Dames of Destruction and the Full Metal Corsets. Not sure of the exact final score, but the Dames won pretty decisively.

Gummi Chasing Miss PrintJust by chance, Miss Print's parents ended up sitting next to us along side the track. Her dad was busy taking photos as she predicted. However, Miss Print's mom wasn't covering her eyes. She did shout "that was mean" when Miss Print fell a couple times after some hard blocks. That comment was immediately followed up by "she's so little." I suppose taken together they fall into the eye covering category. Miss Print had some good jams and her parents were proud to see her scoring against the tough Dames team. It was great her folks could see a match in person (and get a break from work at the new house).

Action in the PackThe Dames did very well right from the start. Sadistic Sadie was on fire as usual, making jamming look easy and scoring a lot. There's a reason she was asked to join Team Awesome at RollerCon. Roseanne Scarr was doing a lot of jamming for the Dames as well. Not perfect, but I like this picture of Roseanne taken during the warm-ups. The Dames' blockers, led by Panterrorize and Arche Enemy, were tough. Blu showed her skill as a pivot for the Dames.

BlockingI thought the Corsets were doing well at the various positions, but things just didn't click together for the whole team. Even though the Corsets fell behind early, they didn't give up and seemed to pick up the pace to stay about 40 points behind the Dames for the rest of the bout. Sadie was doing some taunting of the Corsets and apparent "trash talking" while skating. It's fun for the crowd and I'm sure motivational for the Corsets. Juwana Hurt and Sk8r-Kinney stood out as blockers for the Corsets. And it was good to see Collier Mama back in there skating, at least for a while until she was ejected. I missed what led up to that. EMolition was doing a lot of the jammer work for the Corsets and scoring quite a bit.

Me and RockyHits and misses from the match? Both a hit and miss was the "half time" entertainment from Dante's Gypsy Circus. They were good, but it ran a bit too long. Other hits -- easy to see names and numbers on the new Corset shirts; the use of spotlights for intros and half time was a good addition; and as always the Rollergirls play to the crowd and that makes it fun. The extra effort -- things like staying for autographs and photos (me with Rocky Balrolla of the Corsets), Morgan Donor tossing out organs, and Sk8 Crime's super soaker are just a few examples. That effort (along with increased publicity) explains why last night's crowd was large! I believe Matt or Private announced there were approximately 1100 people! A minor Miss -- no one skating around with the last jam total score on a white board. Fortunately the announcers were good about reading the jam score -- and the real time scoring helps too.

I posted some photos from the match in a Flickr set you can see here. Plan ahead for their next match at the Gardens on August 25th -- a double header!

Update on 7/24: The jam score was a miss on my part! Thanks to Menace for politely pointing out in her comment that the jam score was on the giant scoreboard over the main floor (when she was really thinking what a goofball, all he had to do was look up!)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's Quiet

It's quiet on the web this morning. I think everyone must be at home reading a book.

Friday, July 20, 2007

SEH #1

A lot of times there isn't much going on with us. It's hard to come up with something to post. I've been thinking about what to post on dull days and came up with a new feature for Earl World -- Song Essence Haiku (SEH). I'm going to post a series of haiku where each one summaries the essence of a particular song's lyrics. Basically a Reader's Digest condensed version of a song. I'll also give links to the complete lyrics. OK, these are a going to be a bastardized form of haiku, but here we go with a few examples to get started.

Signs everywhere.
Many bad scenarios,
so make your own sign.

5 Man Electrical Band

Chicago gangsters
have a gunfight with the cops.
Papa makes it home.

The Night Chicago Died
Paper Lace

A man meets a girl.
Goes from the bar to her place.
But she is a he!

The Kinks

Beautiful stranger;
say hi for her attention.
It’s love at first sight.

Hello, I Love You
The Doors

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Spider's Snack

Caught this spider a few weeks ago. It had a snack all wrapped up for lunch.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal for Fox News

I like reality TV...probably too much reality TV. I also like cooking shows. Put the two together with some spice and what do you get? Hell's Kitchen. It's on our must record list on the DVR. He'd be a bugger to work for, but it's entertaining watching Gordon Ramsey yell at the chef contestants.

After Hell's Kitchen comes our early local news broadcast on Fox. I don't know why I watch it, except that it comes on early. I don't care for the anchors, the weather lady has an odd delivery, and the timing and production quality isn't the best (rolling the wrong film, cutting off anchors, etc.). I guess I watch hoping things will improve.

Last week the local Fox news had a national feed story about a real-life Hell's Kitchen. Of course that caught my interest. An L.A. restaurant called The Foundry on Melrose has (according to the Fox L.A. reporter Gina Silva) put web cams in their kitchen. According to the story, you can go to their web site during dinner and watch the head chef talk or yell to the cooks as the orders go out the pass through.

Wow...who wouldn't want to take a peek that every now and then? Well the answer to that is Gina Silva. Although she suggested going to the web site to watch, she didn't give the URL (I rewound the story on the DVR to listen again just in case I missed it). No big deal in the Google era. I went to The Foundry website and saw the live feed near the bottom of the page. I clicked on it and a new window opened. Instead of a video feed, I got a "coming soon" message. So Gina was touting something that isn't available!?! What a lame 'news story'.

Finally, the end of the local Fox news broadcast has a quick recap of tomorrow's forecast. That's OK, except that they don't plan the time to finish in the 10-11 time slot. Therefore, the weather summary actually talks over the beginning of The Simpsons episode that follows. What is bad is that they shrink the start of the Simpsons into a tiny window so you can see the weather person and the forecast graphic. I don't want to see that! As a Simpsons fan, I want to see the start of the show what Bart writes on the blackboard and how they end up on the couch. However, in the tiny picture-in-picture window you can't see anything!

Ideally they should cut 20 seconds out of the news cast so they don't run over into the Simpsons. Not too hard for a 1 hour news cast. If you're doing a picture-in-picture, shrink the weather person and make the Simpsons full screen. Hello...Fox 19...are you listening?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

South Pacific and Birthday Saturday

Can It Be?On Saturday we went up to the Dayton area to visit the Dayton Gotos. It was a couple days after Catherine's 5th birthday and they had an additional celebration for the family. You can see all the photos I took in a Flickr set here (click on each thumbnail to see a larger image). This was my favorite photo of the bunch. Remember how you were so excited opening presents as a kid -- especially when you opened something you thought was really cool? That expression says it all. Although I have to say she thought everything was just "adorable."

After dinner we went to see the Epiphany Lutheran Church production of South Pacific. I had never seen that musical before. They did a great job and there were several solid voices in the cast. Of course the most important performers were my brother-in-law, Dean, and niece, Christina. Here are a couple photos of them on stage. I have others here, here, and here.

South Pacific - Islanders

South Pacific - Dean

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fighting Siblings

So what do two sisters do when they get together after not having seen each other for a year? Fight! Dianne and Michelle had a quick boxing bout on the Nintendo Wii Sports game. Michelle won by a unanimous decision.

Sisters Fighting

Thursday, July 12, 2007

CRG Schedule Change & Skater Bios

Had a call yesterday from the Cincinnati Gardens saying the Cincinnati Rollergirls made a schedule change and canceled their planned August 4th bout. It was nice of the folks at the Gardens to call. I was curious about the change and went to the Rollergirl website to see if there was any info.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Dames' and Corsets' team information was updated (who knows how long that's been up) and that skater info and photos are posted. It's a very good addition to the site. Not all the entries are complete as yet, but it's interesting reading. I especially liked the quote and tagline elements. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Sk8Crime: "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye...then it's fun and games in the dark!"
  • Miss Print: "Live life two minutes at a time."
  • Roseanne Scarr: "The fastest way to an opponent's heart is through her chest."
  • The Librarian: "112 lbs. of shut the hell up" and "Don't make me shush your ass."
Check out the CRG website for more info on these and other skaters.

I didn't see anything there about the schedule change. However, Miss Print had a post about it today. It makes perfect sense given all their activity piling up in August.

Don't forget the next Cincinnati Rollergirl bout is coming up fast -- July 21st!

Crazy for Cardboard

As frequent readers know, I'm crazy for manapua. It's a must have food when we visit Hawaii. For the uninitiated, it's a bun filled with a Chinese barbeque pork. Here is one recipe from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and there is a lot of information at the Manapua Research Lab site. You can find the buns steamed or baked. Personally, I'm a baked manapua guy. They are so tasty!

Today Julie Gaw had a post on the Foodie Report blog about food vendors in China stretching their barbeque pork by adding cardboard to the filling. Mental note to self: don't eat pork buns from street vendors in China. Strange, but I didn't see cardboard in the manapua recipes on the sites above. Is cardboard what gives them the authentic taste? Independently, Dianne shared this story from CNN about the same issue.

So stick to the domestic manapua. They taste so good though...I might even put up with a little extra fiber.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


A couple weeks ago I spent some time taking shots of a single daisy outside of our neighbor's place. The entire daisy set is here on Flickr. I also did some Photoshop manipulation of this photo (click here to see it) for the Focal Black&White pool on Flickr.
Daisy 8

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The '7' Years - Part 2

No especially fond memories jump out from 1987. I was in graduate school in the middle of learning to cryosection (make sections about 1/10 the thickness of a human hair from frozen tissue samples) and gathering data for my thesis work. Is this what a chemist is supposed to be doing? You section using a glass knife (we couldn’t afford a good diamond one), looking through a microscope. The sample and knife are in a very cold chamber to keep everything frozen while you work. You pick up the sections with an eyelash to place them on a support for viewing. That was tedious work! It was also cold on the hands. Even though I grew up in Minnesota, I never had frostbite until I was doing cryosectioning. In the summer it was humid and everything frosted up so bad it eventually blocked the movement of the sectioning arm. I had to put the whole thing in a glove box purged with dry nitrogen to keep the frost from forming. Ugh!

That year was also the start of several years of a long distance relationship with Dianne. She graduated and was off to grad school on the West coast. That stunk. Phone bills were high. Too bad there weren't things like Skype back then. Not a banner year in Earl World.

And 1997? Although most recent, that year seems like the biggest blur to me. I had recently changed assignments at work and was in the middle of helping prepare osteoporosis study reports that were used later to get Actonel approved for the treatment of osteoporosis. I was working on the bone densitometry (measuring bone density changes using an x-ray beam) and bone histology (measurements of bone tissue sections – fortunately I didn’t have to cut the sections) parts of the work. It was a stressful time but rewarding knowing that you were contributing to something that’ll help millions of people.

I believe that was also the year I took my first woodcarving class at University of Cincinnati's CAS using my tuition remission obtained from teaching at Raymond Walters. The class was part of the woodworking program and was geared primarily toward carving for furniture makers. However, for those not in the program, the instructor showed how to carve other items like caricature figures once you had the basic techniques down. I haven’t made time to carve lately, but I’d like to pick it up again.

The '7' Years - Part 1

I saw a couple of movie anniversary announcements that got me thinking about the years I’ve experienced ending in 7.

One of the MANY preview/advertisement items on the Bridge to Terabithia DVD (a recent Dianne pick) was a pitch of this year’s 40th anniversary of the Disney movie The Jungle Book. That was one of the first movies I got hooked on as a kid and a gift I received was a Jungle Book LP record. It had all the wonderful songs and some movie dialog. I played that so many times the grooves must have worn out. I’m sure everyone was sick of hearing ‘Colonel Hathi’s March’ and ‘The Bare Necessities.’ Incidentally, I also heard it’s the 40th anniversary of the movie The Dirty Dozen. Although I didn’t see that as a kid, it’s a great film and one in our eclectic DVD collection.

In 1977 I got my very own 35 mm camera and first used it on a summer trip with my dad. I had played with old 35 mm cameras we had around the house. They were OK, but it was tough getting pictures without a light meter, guessing the exposure. With some reading and some advice from my dad, a photographer friend, and a neighbor interested in photography, I ended up getting a Minolta XE-7. See more photos of the camera at this site. Shortly after getting the camera, my dad took a few days off and we did a driving trip with many stops on the way. We drove to Duluth, along the coast of Lake Superior, across the edge of the Boundary Waters to Ely (oh man was that #1 a windy road cut through the forest!), and then down through the red soil region of the Minnesota iron range. On that trip, I finished up one of my first rolls of film and forgot to press the rewind release before cranking the exposed film back into the canister. I thought sure I broke something. My dad found a photo store and the clerk quickly diagnosed the problem, popped the camera in a black bag, and saved the exposed film. The camera was fine. That thing is built like a tank (and weighs about the same). I took thousands of photos (especially for the high school paper) with that camera and still have it.

That year was also big in Little Falls as it was the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic. A lot of activities went on including a visit from a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis. I remember watching much of the airport festivities from the roof of the small terminal building – access arranged by my dad. It was quite the event.

More about the later '7' years in my next post.

Boeing 787

Boeing is unveiling their latest passenger jet, the 787, today at 3:30 Pacific time. It uses carbon composite materials to give a lighter, more fuel efficient airplane. Boeing will be busy making these for many years as they already have over 600 preorders for the new plane.

Their website has some videos showing the new plane and some of the interior on their web site here. They also have a series of videos covering the history of all the Boeing 700 series aircraft that you can look at here.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Blue Ash Airport and Park

Thursday's Cincinnati Enquirer had an article about the soon to be complete purchase of about half the land of the Blue Ash airport. The City of Blue Ash (CBA) bought the land from the City of Cincinnati in order to develop it into a park with plans for several buildings including a convention/performing arts center. I have two main issues with the city going down this path. OK...let me say up front that I'm biased and skeptical since I fly out of the airport.

First, this plan offers no assurance that the airport will remain open. The future park land now contains all the ramps, airport parking, and businesses that support the airport. To develop the park and keep the airport functional, these businesses have to be torn down and relocated to the opposite side of the runway. According to the purchase agreement, the relocation is handled by Cincinnati who runs the airport. A clause in the contract allows Cincinnati to close the airport and sell the remaining land if the relocation costs are prohibitive. Why on earth the CBA entered into an agreement containing such a clause is beyond me. Although they acknowledge the value of the airport, their actions don't support keeping the airport.

The second issue is the character of the proposed park. When I think of a park, I think of primarily green space. With several buildings, an observation tower, and roads proposed, how much green space will be left? Right now the area looks pretty open because of the runway and the lawn around it. But if Cincinnati opts not to relocate the businesses and sells the remaining property, it will be developed. The character of the park will be changed dramatically with the adjacent development that isn't shielded by any tree line. The CBA has said they don't have plans to purchase the remaining property -- i.e. no contingency plan.

So am I worried about the airport and the remaining property? YES! It's now a year after this plan came out at the Blue Ash city council and the manager of Blue Ash airport (a Cincinnati employee) is quoted in this week's Enquirer article as saying "we're trying to determine how much the reconfiguration will cost. The Federal Aviation Administration's collection and funding bill expires in September. So it may not be until September or after that we will know what kind of money is available." The article also mentions that the reconfiguration plan is still being developed. Still being developed?!? Wow!! I want that job. If you don't even have a plan yet, how can you possibly know how much it will cost or ask for support from the FAA?

In the meantime, even though the CBA has surplus money in its coffers, a 25% increase in the city income tax associated with this land purchase went into effect in January. According to the Enquirer article, through June 15th that increase alone brought in $2.1 million for the CBA and they are paying Cincinnati $1 million for half the airport land. by the end of the year the tax increase will probably bring in about $4 million. That would have easily been enough to purchase all the land and then the CBA would have controlled the outcome (either to reconfigure the airport or protect the green space).

Is purchasing all the land with the income raised 20/20 hindsight? NO. Several folks suggested this option during the debate last summer and the CBA council shot it down. I'm no city planner, but it was obvious there would be enough money for purchase of the land and park development. Was the council that stupid or was there some behind closed door politics going on? I sincerely hope the entire property is developed in such a way to protect our tax dollars. However, events over the last several years and news stories like this continue to raise doubts. I'm certainly not voting for Jack Buckman in future elections.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Photos

In between my usual check-up at the doctor this morning (all is well), lunch at Chipotle, and running a couple errands, I stopped to snap some photos.

There is a railroad yard near downtown Sharonville. Sharon Road goes over the tracks and the bridge gives a nice vantage point for watching the tracks. I stopped there and took a few photos. The power lines are an annoying obstruction, but I worked around them in a few shots. You can see the entire set of photos in my Flickr set.

Moving Down the Rails

I also stopped at the Evendale community park. While walking to take a couple flower photos (I thought this one turned out well), I found this seed pod on the ground. I'm the worst at identifying trees, so I'm not sure what tree this is from. It was basically a sphere just a bit bigger than the size of an average acorn. The openings look like a bunch of open bird beaks.

Seed Pod

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Need 2 Pairs of Glasses

I’ve been wearing glasses for only a few years now. I noticed when reading things weren’t quite as sharp as they used to be, especially in my right eye. I was starting to hold things further away from my eyes to improve the focus while reading. The eye doctor said they weren’t that bad, but if it bothered me I should get reading glasses. I did. I’ve grown dependent on them now, especially in situations with bad lighting.

When I first got my glasses, I was cleaning them constantly. I still clean them a fair amount. Mostly at work where I have a handy stash of pre-moistened cleaning wipes within easy reach. Today I was due for a cleaning because I didn’t go to work on the 4th of July holiday.

I took out a wipe, cleaned the lenses, and put the glasses back on. It was better – most of the specs were gone. But now there were some smears. How could that be? I took them off again and held them directly under my desk lamp while striking my best trombone player pose to get the glasses further away. Sure enough, smudges.

Another wet wipe and a couple outstretched arm’s length inspections later, everything was fine. Ah…I can read clearly once again. However, in a couple of years I’ll need some prosthetic arm extensions so I can tell what I’m doing when cleaning my glasses. Either that or I need a second pair of reading glasses to use just when cleaning my glasses. Yikes!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My Simpsons Avatar

Thanks to Erika Jean for pointing out the site for the new Simpsons movie coming out later this month that lets you create your own Simpson avatar. Here is mine. I love the t-shirt.

The site is a little bandwidth intensive, but fun to play around with. Beside making an avatar, you can take a tour of Springfield and play some games as well. I didn't do too well playing 3 card Moe at Moe's tavern, but I was assessed a 'hot tamale' on the Love Tester located there.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Are You Addicted?

After Dianne's post about the Zombie apocalypse quiz, I noticed the same site had a quiz to measure how addicted you are to blogging. Erika Jean admitted her addiction recently. Below are my results from the quiz. What's your score?

66%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dubai's Palm Islands

I saw an interesting National Geographic Channel documentary on the construction of the first Palm Island, the Palm Jumeirah, off the coast of Dubai.

Palm Jumeriah is a man made, 3 1/2 mile diameter island in the shape of a palm tree with multiple fronds. It was made entirely from natural materials (i.e. rocks and sand). The purpose was to build an island to increase the shoreline of Dubai that would be used for living, relaxation and tourism. The documentary described the many challenges encountered by the engineers during construction.

They had to find the right materials and move them to the right place to create the palm shape in the ocean. They used satellite images to verify the shape during construction. You can see the original island (and now a second) on satellite images at Google maps. They had to coordinate construction of the breakwater and fronds of the island, and had to alter the breakwater to allow water movement through the fronds to prevent stagnation.

Once built, there were challenges to stabilize the sand to prevent liquifaction during earthquakes that would destroy the island and any structures built there. There are plans for hundreds of villas, shopping malls, and 22 hotels. Also, there were unanticipated consequences of erosion, both for the island and for the original coastline. Engineers are having to do Palm island maintenance (remove sand from some spots and move to others) to maintain the shape because of waves and ocean currents. The shore currents that maintained Dubai's straight coastline were altered by the huge island. The shore in some 'upstream' areas of the current gained sand while areas past the Palm island were losing sand at the rate of 15 feet per year! Once again, constant maintenance is needed to protect the original beaches.

Thinking about buying or investing in the island? You can read more about the Palm Islands here and Palm Jumeirah here. Here is the official web site for the three palm island projects. With this construction experience, what's next? Read about Dubai's larger scale project, The World.

Interesting from an engineering view, it's a reminder of how major alterations to the environment have many unintended consequences.