My darling Jeri has here own blog full of cool entomological stuff. Check it out here
Latest Entries »
What, no kids on a holiday weekend? Time to pack a tent and hit the road!
Jeri and I had a wonderful weekend in the North Bay and Sonoma Coast. All campsites were full because of the 4th. but we had the perfect spot with our good friend Nansee, her vast and gorgeous garden tucked against the vineyards with a wide view of the valley.
We caught DJ Feral’s set at the Hookah Dome gig on Saturday night and woke early Sunday ready for a day of cruising and fun.
The day was well into the mid 90’s by the time we go moving but we found the cool spot at Bodega Bay and hugged the coast North through Jenner and on towards Fort Ross.
We took a random right turn of highway 1 to get back to the valley and were immediately on dirt tracks but pressed on feeling more than equipped in the Jeep and were treated to the most amazing drive through the coastal mountains eventually winding up in Monte Rio on the Russian River. We followed our noses to a fabulous restaurant (Village Inn) and had the most romantic dinner I can remember for ages.
Calling this a perfect day we headed back towards Sabastapol through Gurneville and were amazed to see the town packed with people before realizing that they were getting ready for fireworks. As we went over the river on our way out of town we couldn’t resist and found a choice spot on the bridge to watch the show…. put on, it seemed, just for the two of us.
Maximum respect to artist Scott Weaver.
His kinetic sculpture took 35years (!!!!!) to make and used over 100,000 toothpicks. The whole thing is based on San Francisco, and he used toothpicks from different parts of the City as he represented that area.
Wait… there is more! .
The whole thing is riddled with ball races that take you on various “tours” of the City … “Stop Dude yer killin’ me!”
The recent news of the nuclear disaster in Japan have brought a flood of memories to the fore from my days as a Greenpeace diver.
During the Summer of 1983, random sampling of beach sand near the Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing plant in Cumbria, England, produced “off the scale” readings which led to the isolating of a 2km discharge pipeline into the Irish Sea as the source of the contamination. The pipe was releasing more than 10 million litres of radioactive water into the sea every day and has since been described as “Chernobyl in slow motion”.
A plan to block the pipeline was put together and in November of 1983 our ship “Cedarlea” dropped anchor into the dark Cumbrian waters and launched two Zodiac inflatables carrying myself and three other divers.
It was unlike any other of the many actions I had been on. The usual high sprits and jokey banter was replaced with silent introspection and nervous and repetitive gear checking.
As we slipped into the freezing water I distinctly remember the “dirty” sensation of the water all around me and of the “London air” compressed into my diving tank and flowing into my lungs being “clean”. The murky coastal waters made our lights useless as they only served to light up the flock we were swimming through I turned mine off and chose to feel my way along the bottom at 70ft until we intercepted the pipeline the follow it to the end where the diffuser was discharging.
The diffuser is like a flute and the plan was to insert plugs held in place with chain and hammer over the bolts so the could not be removed, but we found that the diffuser had been modified to be “Greenpeace proof” and we had to rethink the plan and remove the modification before we managed a partial plugging. Worse yet, this increased our planned bottom time on the pipe which to our horror was still in full discharge.
We wrapped up and kicked for the surface, and again I remember ascending like a missile to create rapid distance between the pipe and the surface. Surfacing like that is not a recommended practice and in the blackness I though I would be the first to hit topside only to find that the others were in the same mindset and had surfaced like “Flipper”.
As soon as we flopped cold and exhausted into the bottom of the Zodiac we were passed over with a Geiger counter which revealed that we were seriously contaminated. Our gear was stripped off and later sent to BNFL Harwell for decontamination …. we never got it back. I kept the diving tank I used and it is still lurks in the back of the shed as a “memento” (along with these few grainy press shots). I lost a little hair and had a few nose bleeds… I still worry about it.
Greenpeace UK was fined $75,000 for contempt which we thought would close us down and force us to sell Cedarlea, but we were getting three mail trucks a day of everything from kids pocket money to Paul McCartney sending a heavy check and we had the fine paid in a week.
Sellafield is still in operation with 23 times the level of Americium-241 – a highly radioactive, carcinogenic substance – found at Sellafield compared to Chernobyl. An estimated 200 kilograms (441 lbs) of plutonium has been deposited in the marine sediments of the Irish Sea. Cattle and fish in the area are contaminated with plutonium-239 and caesium-137 from these sediments.
The poet Norman Nicholson wrote a poem about his local Sellafield which is nested in the crook of the mountains of the beautiful Lake District (Scafell is the highest mountain in England). Nicholson paints the picture like no other can.
The toadstool towers infest the shore:
Stink-horns that propagate and spore
Wherever the wind blows.
Scafell looks down from the bracken band,
And sees hell in a grain of sand,
And feels the canker itch between his toes.
This is a land where dirt is clean,
And poison pasture, quick and green,
And Storm sky, bright and bare;
Where sewers flow with milk, and meat
Is carved up for the fire to eat,
And children suffocate in God’s fresh air.
I get it!
It’s not about the man in the red suit or the baby in the manger… it’s the “good will to all men” bit that’s the big deal.
Its an anthropological deep-rooted itch that all cultures scratch. it’s “Chrismanukkahwanzaadan”.
We send cards, emails and go to parties, “pinging” our tribal groups. We “unScrooge” with acts of altruism and charity and make our world twinkle in lights. Our Clan of blood and kin gathers, traveling and sleeping over; sharing food, joy, tears, love, babies, gossip and gifts. It’s a tactile time of hugs, back slaps and mistletoe, a four million year old relic of scent-trade bonding.
Homo Sapians needs Christmas… or what ever you want to call it.
I wish you a merry one.
It can also be breathtakingly beautiful, as we saw on Christmas Eve in Woodstock, Illinois.
A friend of ours went to see Roger Waters perform “The Wall” in Oakland and told us the next day “it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen”. Jeri and I are monster Floyd fans so I got on Craig’s list and snagged some tickets for the the San Jose show last night.
Jeri says “awesome” is a much overused word… this WAS awesome.
I went without a camera, so these are not my images. Mine are burned into my retina.
One entire end of the arena was “The Wall” which was built up brick by brick over the first half of the show, working as an evolving projection screen several hundred feet across and walling in the band behind it. After short intermission, the show continued with Waters and his band now dwarfed in front of this giant wall while the most intense visuals washed over us (someone had a ton of fun in 3dMax or Maya rendering all this). The sound moved the air like rolling thunder but clear as a clang of a bell through the range. The ultimate sound system.
I don’t want to spoil things, but as “The Trial” ended the show and the crowd took over the vocals with “tear down the wall!” the whole wall came crashing down, giant bricks spilling everywhere. Total release of energy.
This is a very nice entry on how the thing was produced from behind the scenes.
BTW.. Jeri picked up a tee-shirt at the gig. She snagged the “School Master” shirt with “we don’t need no education” scrawled across the back. “so the kids can see it when I am writing on the blackboard”. Priceless!!
This is an “untoppable” gig…. drop everything and go see it if you can.
Jeri deserves much and asks for little.
She looks after us royally; kisses boo boos, loves us unconditionally, keeps us on track and is the rudder and compass for the ship that is our family. So when it came to celebrating her 50th birthday a mere party seemed underwhelming.
I think Kauai is the most beautiful spot on the planet. It is the supreme work of the “Exterior Decorator”.
Just us, in Eden for a week.
Friends and family covered our bases and made sure the kids were well cared for and with a bit of internet work I came up with a “can do” plan. Flights at off-peak are cheap ($500) and we are camping Ninjas and I knew of a stunning spot on the beach at the very north of the island for which Kauai parks and recreation dept charge $3 permit charge!
Nighttime was also insane. Kauai is on the Tropic of Cancer and Polaris is much lower on the horizon revealing constellations hidden at our latitude. We are also 2,800 nautical miles from the next serious light pollution and the sky was a jewel box of scattered diamond dust on velvet black.
We also made a list of all the farmers markets so most days we were eating fresh sashimi Ahi and fruit that defies any description and once you have tasted a fresh white sugarloaf pineapple the things we get on the mainland seem bitter and mealy.
One morning, we decided to take a walk on the beach. The weather was fine and warm and sun bright. As we waked in the surf, the sky blackened out to sea and as we watched the most amazing double rainbow emerged. There was only one other person on the beach and I quickly managed to get a series of shots off. Once back at camp we we amazed to find no one else had seen it. Rainbows are an optical effect and depend on a precise arrangement of sun angle and viewer position…. this may have been OUR rainbow! “Mahalo”
Jeri hails from Indiana and describes herself as a “landlocked Hoosier”. She won’t mind me saying that she swims poorly and has never been in the ocean past her ankles. On the other hand, I love the water and at one time was a diver for Greenpeace.
The reefs of Kauai are a wonderland and I had the feeling that if she placed her trust in me once her face was under the water her fear would be displaced by raw wonder of the keen mind of a biologist.
After our first expedition on to the reef she emerged crying with joy. “I feel like I just walked on the Moon!”.
From that time on, every chance we had she wanted to go snorkeling …. I think we have released her “inner Cousteau”
Waimea Canyon is the largest canyon in the Pacific and truly a dramatic sight to behold. The canyon measures 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,500-feet deep. It was carved thousands of years ago by rivers and floods that flowed from Mount Waialeale’s summit.
My pal Rich Gibson from NASA Ames was kind enough to kick down a Gigapan unit and we spent a day taking a few ultra hi res panoramas.
Others can be found by clicking on these links.
Haiau at Ke’e Beach
Double Rainbow at Tunnels Beach
If you have Google Earth installed, this will open a Kml of a small tour showing other gigapans and giving things a geographical context.
Click this to view tour in google earth
Only a week. Seven days. A precious time that we will share forever.
Thanks for being my camp mate, the best traveling partner, a loving mother to the girls, my reality check and my co-dreamer… but above all, thanks for choosing me.
I love you so much. Happy birthday baby.
OMG… This guy thinks the GOP is the WWF!
First of all… I am THE space geek. To have my work at Chabot is a huge honor. We are also the parents of two girls who are sponges for this. This is an institution dedicated to understanding the cosmos, but here they turn the telescopes back at the Earth examining the biosphere and the damage the Sapiens have done in only 150 years. I have also been looking at the big curved wall in the main exhibition hall for years yearning to paint it.
The exhibition gets up to speed quickly outlining the problems then takes the kids on an interactive exploration of solutions but leaving things open ended to invite fresh ideas.
Last night, Ursula and Sophie were asked to appear in the photo shoot for upcoming publicity and media. They got to explore and play with the “shiny out of the box” exhibit before a million grubby kid hands touch it. “We can’t wait to come back!!”
I was asked to work on two areas of the exhibition, a space station command bridge and a bike path which was the backdrop for the “Bike With Bill” installation.
This was also the first commission done in my new studio. Big Arts Studio is part of the gigantic 500,000 sq’ American Steel building in Oakland. There is creativity surrounding me and space enough to spread out big jobs.
I embedded this gigapan to show you the space and the work for Chabot before installation. Use the controls on the left to explore as deeply as you like.
Since 2005, I have had the honor of working with the legendary Rod Garrett on the design of “The Man”, the centerpiece of the Burning Man Festival.
This means I am the third to know the theme (after Larry Harvey and Rod) and the first along side Rod to see the design for the years coming Man. I was pledged to keep this a secret until this years Man topples burning into the fire.
So…. Next years theme for 2011 will be “Rites Of Passage”, and this is what we have come up with for the design of the Man.
In observance of this years theme, the Man is in the unique pose of being in mid stride rather than standing upright as in the previous 25 years. Burners will enter one side of the bifurcated pyramid and after ascending a tower of stairs pass between the Mans legs before descending on the other side.