Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dismembered December

Evansville Veterans Memorial ColiseumOn Saturday, Dianne and I drove to Evansville to watch the Dismembered December tournament put on by the Demolition City Roller Derby group and held in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum that was built in 1916. Four teams (Demolition City Roller Derby (DCRD) Dynamite Dolls, Naptown Rollergirls, Slay Belles, and Quad State Terrors) participated in 4 bouts. Congratulations to the Quad State Terrors for winning the tournament! It topped off the day to see them win the championship bout.

Evansville's Memorial Coliseum is quite the historic venue as seen in the fisheye photo above (click on the image to see a larger view). It reminded me a bit of a venue you might see in the movie Hoosiers. The track itself was laid out on masonite panels pieced together to protect the underlying floor. The panels seemed well placed and except for an occasional stumble getting on and off the layer, I didn’t see many skaters having issues with the seams between the panels. The jammers were pretty speedy when out in the open.

First boutThe first bout was between DCRD and the Naptown Rollergirls team – a team that was a mix of all their skaters. It was a good bout, but the DCRD team had the edge at the half with a lead of 28 to 18 that they increased in the second period to finish with a score of 58 to 22. The photo at right, such as it is with the natural light, shows some of the action between the teams. I wasn’t keeping a tally, but it seemed Naptown was hurt a lot by penalties. There was one point in the second period where one of the Naptown jammers, Ivanna B. Naughty, had several trips to the box including back-to-back penalties that really slowed the Naptown scoring.

Just After the WhistleThe second bout had the Slay Belles (a pick-up team composed of DCRD skaters and skaters from several teams including Naptown, Radioactive City, and Lafayetter Brawlin' Dolls) pitted against the Quad State Terrors (made up of mostly Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls with a few additional skaters like Nastee from R.O.C.K. and Envy Myoni and Celia Graves from DCRG). To say the least, the Slay Belles struggled the entire bout. The Belles were trying hard, but their lack of experience and limited coordination/communication during the jams really hurt them. Quad State got a couple skaters at the front of the pack in every jam to control the pack and effectively shut down any offense. That, combined with solid Quad State trailing blockers that nudged Slay Belle jammers to stop their progress, made things rough for the Belles. In one jam with a skater in the penalty box, Nuk‘em held three Belle skaters back for a few laps by herself (see photo below). Jamming duty was shared by Roseanne Scarr, EMolition, Pistol Whippin' Wendy, and Envy MiYoni. Making WayThe photo at the right shows Juwana Hurt clearing the way for jammer Envy MiYoni. There were a lot of grand slams and at the half Quad State was ahead with a score of 54 to 0. Near the end of the second 20 minute period, one of the Slay Belle jammers finally got lead jammer status and the place erupted with applause. On that jam the Belles managed to get three points on the board. The match ended with Quad State dominating with a score of 115 to 3. Unfortunately at one point in the match Arche Enemy and Rockscar took a tumble together in turn four and Rockscar was hurt and carried off by the EMTs. The announcers later mentioned that Rockstar broke her tibia and fibula. The DCRD page today says her surgery the following day went well. I hope she gets well quickly.

Nuk'em Stops the Belles

The third bout was the consolation match between the Naptown Rollergirls and the Slay Belles. It was another struggle for the Belles as Naptown came out strong and dominated the less experienced skaters. Unfortunately, skater I Teazem went down hard in turn 2 during one jam. I was coming down from the mezzanine after taking the fisheye photo above, so I didn’t see the spill. The EMTs took extra precautions with her neck and she was carried out to an ambulance on a stretcher. Today the DCRD homepage indicated she is doing well with some head pain. I certainly hope the EMT measures were precautionary and that she gets well soon. At the half Naptown led with a score of 93 to 6 and sadly the trend continued in the second full period so Naptown ended up winning with a score of 177 to 6.

As one would expect in a tournament, the last bout between the DCRD Dynamite Dolls and the Quad State Terrors was the best of the day. However, it was a long day of derby and a lot of spectators left after the Naptown consolation match. Perhaps they were Naptown fans wanting to get back to Indy before it got too late? Quad State continued their recipe for success using jammer speed, pack coordination, and tough blocking to establish an early lead and hold it throughout the match. Controlling The PackThe photo at right shows a typical Quad State configuration with Nuk'em, Nastee, and Juwana Hurt controlling the front of the pack. Considering the group hasn’t been skating together long, it was impressive to see how well they came together and used each others’ strengths to make an effective team. But the DCRD skaters were tough and made the Terrors work for the victory. In the initial jam, one of the DCRD blockers gave Juwana Hurt a solid shoulder in the pack to perhaps send a message – Juwana wasn’t hitting hard in the initial Slay Belles match. Juwana caught up with the pack and sent a tough shoulder block message right back to the DCRD skater. Just After the HitYou can see the result of another one of Juwana’s blocks in the photo to the right. All the Quad State blockers contributed and really worked hard to control the front of the pack and the inside lines (see the photo below). At the half Quad State was ahead with a score of 46 to 17. In the second period, DCRD did make some adjustments and the scoring was about equal. However the Quad State victory was never in jeopardy and they won the bout with a score of 74 to 43.

Couples Skate

You can see more photos I took at the bout in my Flickr set here. Also, Jack King took photos at the event for Quad State and will undoubtedly have some excellent shots despite the lighting.

Overall it was an interesting day of derby that helped fill the off-season dry spell for this crazed roller derby fan. Thanks to the Demolition City Roller Derby group for making the effort to organize and host the event during a busy time of the year. It was a long day, but I found it instructive to see teams with varying skill levels battling back-to-back. It helps me appreciate the skill, techniques, and strategies of the game and how skaters and teams adjust (or not) to changing situations. It really is an interesting (as well as entertaining) sport to watch once you get the hang of what to look for. If you haven’t been to a flat track roller derby match, you have to check out a team near you next season!

Finally, a special thanks to the Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls for the invitation to the tournament and to all the Quad State Terror skaters (see the photo below) that made us feel welcome. Congrats on winning the tournament! Look for big things from that group in the 2009 season.
Quad State Terrors

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thinking Styles Quiz

The results of this quiz shouldn't be earth shattering to anyone who knows me. What is your style?

Your Dominant Thinking Style: Modifying

Super logical and rational, you consider every fact available to you.

You don't make rash decisions and are rarely moved by emotion.

You prefer what's known and proven - to the new and untested.

You tend to ground those around you and add stability.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Red and Yellow

Roses in ShadeMichele has several knockout rose beds in her garden. They give a lot of red color to the garden that really stands out in the Fall. The photo at right, a fisheye view, gives an idea of how many flowers were in bloom a couple weeks ago. That was taken using the natural light and shade on the plants. There are some insects on the flowers, but nothing like those found on the sedum flowers.

The first photo below is a close up of one of the rose blossom taken using a few flashes to get a good depth of field. I like the soft texture of the rose petals.

The second photo below is of a plant that gives some more yellow color to the garden. It is one cluster of flowers on a Lantana. The cluster is about the size of a quarter and they branch off of some medium length stalks. I was intrigued by how the little rectangles unfurl into trumpet shaped flowers.



Thursday, October 09, 2008

Survivor Gabon

I'll admit it -- I'm a reality TV junkie. One of my must see reality shows on broadcast TV is Survivor.

For the past several seasons folks have organized a Survivor pool at work. This year Carla is running the "team building exercise." My Survivor contestant is Jacquie, which is appropriate since she grew up in Minnesota. You can read her whole bio here. She seems like a solid competitor and, more importantly, someone who does not have an annoying personality that grates on the other contenders. Go Jacquie!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Favorite iPhone Applications

There aren't a huge number of free applications for the iPhone that I use a lot. But there are two of them that are really cool.

The first is Shazam. Have you ever been listening to a song and wondered what the title of the song was or who was singing? With Shazam, you simply hit a tag button when the song is playing. The software listens to the song for a few seconds and checks the sample against its database of recordings. Generally within a few seconds it returns the song title and artist along with links. It works pretty well even with background noise. I use it in the car when I'm listening to the radio and I hear a song I want to write up for the Songs in Haiku site. I just hit two buttons and bingo the song is tagged on my list of songs. No need to try and write something down while driving. You don't need an iPhone to use the service. Check out their web site.

The second application is called Trailguru. It's an application that keeps track of bike trails, hiking trails, etc. using a GPS. The iPhone ap uses the built in location services to record a trail as you walk or bike. It also keeps track of stats like average speed, distance traveled, etc. The screen capture below shows a trail that Dianne and I created while walking around the Deerfield Towne Center area. The green flag was our starting point outside of the Polo Grill. We walked along and did some window shopping -- the blue line. The red flag is our stopping point at the car. The Google map photo was taken while the strip mall was under construction, so it just looks like a barren field. But it gives you an idea of what the service does.

Check out these applications.

Trailguru Test

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Day Trip to Louisville

Dianne by Adam's BatDianne and I drove down to Louisville early to look around before the evening roller derby bout. Our first stop was the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory -- the spot where the Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made. I had a Louisville Slugger bat growing up as likely did a lot of folks reading this post.

I thought the factory tour was interesting. You followed the manufacturing process starting with a rough billet all following it all the way through finishing. They were manufacturing bats when we were visiting and many of the machines were being used. Unfortunately they didn't allow photography on the tour. :^(

The building also has a batting cage, small museum area, a gift shop, and various displays. The photo above and right shows Dianne near one of Adam Dunn's bats that is on display near the wall of signatures. She is holding our little bats we got on the tour of the manufacturing area. If you're in the neighborhood and have any interest in baseball it is worth a stop. Dianne Hugs the Big SluggerIt's an easy place to find. There is a HUGE bat outside the building. The bat is over 4 stories high! Here is a fisheye photo showing Dianne at the base of the bat. The fisheye lens exaggerates the size, but it is quite large. Click here to view a larger version of the photo.

After visiting the museum, we walked along Main street towards downtown. There is quite the mix of old buildings (some well kept and some not) and new buildings. There is also a mix of shops ranging from Army Surplus to upscale galleries and restaurants. It was very clean though -- which could be because there was very little pedestrian traffic to make any kind of a mess. The photo below shows some of the old buildings on Main.

Downtown Louisville

The Belle of LouisvilleWe also walked toward the Ohio river and found a park overlook near the dock for the Belle of Louisville riverboat. The photo at right shows Dianne looking out toward the river with the Belle of Louisville docked below in the distance. Click on the photo to see a larger image. There was a large statue of William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) there. As usual, Dianne struck the same pose as Clark in the photo below.

After that we drove around the University of Louisville (a lot of angry cardinals in the pavement around the school) and also drove in to Churchill Downs. Overall it was a relaxing day in Louisville. See a few more photos from our visit in this Flickr set.

Clark and Clark in the Park

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sour Smash Roller Derby Bout

CatfightDianne and I capped off our visit to Louisville yesterday (more on other activities in a future post) by attending the Sour Smash event at the Kentucky Expo Center where the Derby City Roller Girls hosted the Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls. We thought, and rightly so, that the BBRG would need a couple more people in the crowd cheering for them. It was a good match with the BBRG beating DCRG by a score of 106 to 41!

The Black-n-Bluegrass Roller Girls took the lead on the first jam and never looked back. They easily adapted to the faster surface and the pack was moving fairly fast. The photo above and right shows BBRG jammer EMolition and DCRG jammer Envy Miyoni. The first period was a bit strange in that there were several zero/zero jams. At face value, that isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Morgue Takes a TumbleIt was just the way the jams were called off that was strange – sometimes the DCRG lead jammer was ahead and in the open and called off the jam without even trying to get one or two points before the BBRG jammer could catch the pack. There were some tough blockers on the DCRG team – of particular note was Sk8 Ninja who dished out many hard blocks. The photo at right shows Morgue Ann le Slayer going down after a hit from Sk8 Ninja. Despite the DCRG blocking, there were several jams where the BBRG scored 4 or 5 and DCRG had zero. EMolition, Roseanne Scarr, and Morgue Ann le Slayer were rotating as jammers and at the end of the first period BBRG was ahead by 28 to 13. The photo below shows everyone looking at Roseanne to either block or help her.

All Eyes On Roseanne

That's Gonna HurtThe second period was generally more of the same, with a lot of tough blocking. The BBRG had a great rotation of blockers including the Hurt sisters, Hot T. Molly, and Buckhead Betty. There were a couple jams when the BBRG pack was less well organized and not able to help their jammer as well as they could, but in general there was good teamwork and excellent defense! The photo at the right shows Juwana Hurt putting the hurt on a DCRG jammer. The photo below shows the defense on both sides as Morgue Ann gets hit as Buckhead Betty dishes out a hit. At the end of the second period BBRG had opened up their lead and the score was 55-25 in their favor.

Blocking Both Jammers

SistersThe third period saw several other BBRG skaters wearing the jammer star to get more experience and score some points. I probably will miss some folks, but Jewel B. Hurt, Aine Ass, and Hellaina Havoc all got lead jammer status. I think those additions to the jammer rotation helped spread the workload and allowed BBRG to widen their lead even more. The BBRG defense was also tough -- as shown by the Hurt sisters slowing up Envy Miyoni at right. The DCRG fought hard the entire way and they were dishing out their fair share of hard blocks. I haven’t travelled to very many away derby events, but the DCRG crowd has to be one of the most vocal that I’ve heard. It makes for an exciting derby event and must help motivate the DCRG skaters.

The Derby City folks know how to put on a fun derby event. The Kentucky Expo Center is a nice venue (although parking is $6) and they have a solid, clear sound system that made it easy to hear the announcers. Me and JuwanaThe announcers were good and helped to whip the crowd into D-C R-G chants periodically. I’m not convinced about music playing during the jams, but their DJ did a great job picking tunes to add to the excitement.

During the breaks between periods, several of the BBRG folks came over to say hi. That was nice, but I wasn’t sure how well received that would be in the middle of a sea of DCRG fans :^) After the match, Dianne and I were able to talk to several of the BBRG skaters. Special thanks to Buckhead Betty and to Morgue Ann le Slayer for coming up and introducing themselves to Dianne and me. Dianne got a photo of me with Juwana Hurt (above) who had several great hits during the evening. We also got to talk with EMolition and Dianne got a photo of me with her too. Me and EMolitionIt was exciting to see EMolition back in competition and she certainly posted quite a few points for BBRG. We met and talked with BBRG fan T.J., who can’t wait for BBRG to get WFTDA status and take on the Cincinnati Rollergirls in the future. We’re fortunate to have a couple derby teams in the area and there should be some exciting local derby action to see! Finally, we also got to talk with Skinny Minnie who unfortunately did a number on one of her fingers that was really swelling up fast. Hope you are doing ok.

I posted quite a few photos from the bout in a Flickr set that you can see here. There are a couple nice series of photos taken in rapid succession that shows the action unfolding. In particular I liked this series (first, second, and third) showing a sandwich block on Morgue Ann le Slayer that works out well due to some quick thinking in the pack -- and this series (first, second, and third) showing a failed attempt to slow Roseanne Scarr.

Congratulations to all the BBRG team on a big win to finish the season!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Chrysanthemum Bonanza

Mums on the PorchWhen I was visiting Michele's garden a couple weeks ago, she had several pots of chrysanthemums that were bursting with color. The photo at right shows one of the pots on her porch, taken in the morning sun with a fisheye lens. They really add color to the garden.

The first photo below is a close-up of one of the blossoms. The early morning light gives the petals an almost golden color. After spending some time taken insect pictures, I discovered another pot in the back garden. By that time it was later in the morning and as the sun got a bit higher the flowers lost a bit of that gold hue. In the background shade you can see some purple flowers that are from a pot of asters.

Finally, the third photo below is a set of photos taken from one mum pot, on the same day, that shows how the flower opens up. I wonder what time span this represents if it were a single flower. I was intrigued by how the color changes as the flower opens up. The photos show the actual colors as best I can. Go here to see a larger version on black.

Yellow Petals

Burst of Yellow


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Energy Sword

After our visit to TDI, we each got a ka-bar knife to carry if necessary. They come with a tight clip for your belt that is very difficult to yank off.

While that is nice, all Halo fans know that type of knife is like a pea shooter compared to the power of a Covenant energy sword. Well, you can get your own energy sword at this site. OK, it's a replica. It's probably not sharp or sturdy. But it still looks cool and might intimidate any attackers.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Graphic Science

The Make Magazine blog had an interesting post a while back about Science comics. I might have to get some of these.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Asters, Beetles, and Fungus

AsterThe asters in Michele's garden have changed a lot in the past week. The central disk flowers have opened up completely and in the process have changed from yellow to a more purple hue. Compare the photo here to the one in my post from last week.

I also noticed in one aster plant there were several yellow/greenish beetles crawling around the blossoms. Dianne's Google skills revealed that they were spotted cucumber beetles. As explained in the information at this U Conn site, the beetles feed on pollen and go for certain types of plants. It also says that when a beetle finds a good food source, it emits a pheromone to call other beetles to the feast. That explains why I saw several of them on one pot of asters. The photo below shows one of the beetles walking on an aster blossom. It was originally near the center of the flower, but started moving away when my flashes kicked in. Sorry guy!

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

Bird's Nest FungusMichele discovered a bird's nest fungus this week and set it aside for me -- I never would have seen it otherwise. She explained that the members of the order Nidulariales have cup shaped "nests" and they have their spores in little structures that resemble eggs. You can see that structure in the top down view shown at right. When raindrops hit the nest the eggs are dispersed from the nest to spread the spores. It is a neat structure. I should carry a ruler in my photo bag. Each of the nest structures is smaller than a dime. The photo below is a side view that gives a better feel for the cup like structure of the nest.

Bird's Nest Fungus

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry

Lemony Chickpea Stir Fry CloseupA few weeks ago Dianne suggested we have more vegetarian dinners. That's kinda hard to do given the small number of vegetables that we both like. I ran across a recipe for a chickpea stir-fry at the 101 Cookbooks site that fit the bill nicely. The photo on the right shows my dish. It turned out well. The lemon balances out the bitterness of the kale. I think maybe some ginger might be a nice addition next time. Dianne suggested adding almonds for some extra crunch.

What is your favorite vegetarian dish? I'm always looking for ideas.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Keep Your Pants Safe

Dianne and I got bicycles a few weeks ago. My bike doesn't have a chain guard, so I have to be careful about not getting my pant leg caught in the chain/sprocket. That hasn't been a problem so far since it has been too hot to wear long pants when riding.

I saw these unique pant clips on the Swissmiss site. You can order them from the MoMA store. They are made of reflective material and when you wear them you'll look like the Greek god Hermes. Sure you could use a rubber band, but it wouldn't look as cool.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Pot of PurpleMichele has a beautiful pot of asters near her front porch. Of course a purple flower is always going to catch my eye. I had no idea what they were -- just that they sort of looked like a daisy. As she explained, the aster is a member of the daisy family (Compositae). Not only is it fun to try some different photo techniques to get some shots of her garden, I learn some botany and entomology in the process.

The flowers looked fantastic in the morning sun. Surprisingly, the asters didn't get much attention from the bees and butterflies. The photo to the right, of the whole plant and pot, was taken using my fisheye lens. The close-ups below were taken with a macro lens using only the natural sunlight.


Purple Petals

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Little Produce Problem

About a month ago this story surfaced about a hard-nosed, greater San Francisco area mayor who put a stop to a produce stand being run by a couple little girls. From just the info in that article, it sounds like the mayor was taking the situation immediately to the extreme.

Whew! Apparently I just dodged being busted with a lemonade stand when I was a kid.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Toad Lily Blossoms

Toad LilyOne of my favorite Fall flowers in Michele's garden is the toad lily. It has a unique shape and a hint of purple (which is always a plus). It is a small blossom that is just a bit bigger than a quarter. The particular plant I found that had the nicest flowers was in partial shade. The photo to the right is taken using the natural light that was available. For the two photos below I used a couple of flashes to add to the natural light. That let me use a much smaller aperature that gives a larger depth of field so more of the blossom is in focus. The main trade off is you lose the background. Which do you prefer -- the natural light or the flash? Click on any photo to go to Flickr to see a larger version (click all sizes above the photo in Flickr).

Toad Lily

Toad Lily Close Up

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls' Heartbreaker Bout

Lead JammerOn Saturday night Dianne and I went to watch the Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls team the Moonshiners take on the traveling team of the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls from Bloomington at Sportsville in Florence, Kentucky. It was their last home bout of the season and I wanted to see some of my favorite skaters back in action. The event was billed as "Heartbreaker" and the BBRG Moonshiners did break Bleeding Heartland by beating them with a score of 115 to 67.

The first period was a see-saw battle. Both teams have some speedy jammers and good blockers that were doing their best to stay on their feet on the slippery gym floor at Sportsville. On the Bloomington team, I was impressed with the efforts of Bad Mudda Trucka and KaKa Caliente. Right near the end of the period, Roseanne Scarr (shown at right as lead jammer) had a 10 point jam (with zero for BHRG) that put the Moonshiners ahead by a couple points.

Help From JuwanaIn the second period, the Moonshiner blockers effectively shut down the Bleeding Heartland jammers. I think Bloomington managed to score less than 10 points the whole period! Great job to all the BBRG blockers. Not only did the BBRG blockers shut down the offense, they also helped their own jammers through the pack. The photo at right shows Juwana Hurt moving in to position to help Pinup Pussycat. While Bloomington was stymied, the BBRG jammers (including Morgue Ann le Slayer, Petal to the Metal, Pinup Pussycat, and Roseanne Scarr) continued to rack up the points. The photo below shows Morgue Ann le Slayer going around the outside to score. At the end of the second period the score was 70 to 48 in favor of the Moonshiners.

Morgue Ann Trying to Score

Most everything continued to go the way of the Moonshiners in the third period. BBRG was trying some different things like letting Buckhead Betty take a turn with the jammer star. Petal to the Metal did take a hard fall right in front of us after a block knocked her off balance -- we were in the middle of the Petal fan club and there were a lot of gasps. The photo below shows her fall.

Petal Takes a Fall

Roseanne and MeAfter the match I was able to chat with Roseanne Scarr in her BBRG garb. It was nice to see her back in action. Dianne got this photo of us after the match. Roseanne racked up quite a few points during the bout and it looked like she was having fun doing it. She also took her turn as a pivot and blocker.

I also got the chance to meet and talk a bit with the BBRG jammer Pinup Pussycat. She also did well last night -- when, as she herself said, she wasn't in the penalty box. She was speedy on the slippery floor and got her share of designations as lead jammer. Dianne took this photo of me with Pinup.

Pinup and MeYou can see several other photos from the match in my Flickr set by clicking here. The crowd seemed a bit thin and hopefully the Moonshiners will get a larger following next year. There was quite a contingent from the Derby City Rollergirls who were doing some scouting for their upcoming bout on October 4th in Louisville. Congrats to the BBRG group on a great win!