Monday, May 30, 2011

Great Memories

This is a photo of my wife's father on our wedding day. One of my favorite photos of him.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I am standing upon the seashore

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone"

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying...

- Henry van Dyke

Dedicated to my father-in-law. Thank you for everything.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nick Drake - 'Cello Song & From The Morning

You would seem so frail in the cold of the night when the armies of emotion go out to fight. But while the earth sinks to its grave you sail to the sky on the crest of a wave. So forget this cruel world where I belong, I'll just sit and wait and sing my song. And if one day you should see me in the crowd, lend a hand and lift me to your place in the cloud. - Nick Drake, Cello Song
Felt like posting something from my all time favorites tonight. Nick Drake became a staple for me in college and I don't listen to nearly enough of his music these days. I think I am going to start addressing that though. Nick is one of the artists that completely changed my taste in music about 14-15 years ago when I first heard the following track called Cello Song.

This next song is called From the Morning from the album Pink Moon which was recorded in 1971 during two back to back midnight sessions.

Go here Bryter Music to learn more about Nick and his music and stream a number of his songs.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sediment Plume

Just subscribed to the NASA Earth Observatory feed. If they have images like these all of the time, it is going to be one of my regular reads. Check out this astronaut photo from 5/17 of the sediment plume entering Lake Pontchartrain after the Bonnet Carré Spillway was opened. High res version with no labels here.

The 1927 Mississippi River Flood Mapped

Found this impressive map of the 1927 Mississippi River flood online tonight over at the NASA blog, Elegant Figures. The map is available from the National Archives. For those of you from Lafayette, be sure to go to the high res version here and check out how close it was to Lafayette. Interesting.

via @gravelbar

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Jozy has had a few walks around the local hospital here in Hot Springs these days. Upon the discovery of the helicopter pad, she insisted on starting her training for Chinook simulations by getting familiar with what a takeoff and landing zone may look like. Heli-Jozy is born.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tower Motel

Hot Springs, Tower Motel at night.

Mmmm....Lamb Trachea

Cool Hunting has a great post for all of you dog lovers out there, highlighting a number of different healthy treat alternatives. Looks like there are a lot of good options out there worth exploring. Personally, I am pretty sure that Jozy will be a big fan of lamb trachea which is a great natural source of chondroitin, and chewing it helps remove both plaque and tartar. Duck heart bites are a close second.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Delta Spirit - White Table

Be careful on highway 5 around 9 or 10 PM between Hot Springs and Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. There is some bald guy who looks like me who has a hard time keeping his hands on the steering wheel because this song is turned up really loud on his stereo and the drums just kick ass that much. The road has too many curves for this song to be safe.

Rebel with a Cause

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vintage Mississippi River

I spent a little bit of the evening doing a little searching for vintage Mississippi River material because of the interest it seemed to spark in this forum over the last day or so. The basic gist in most materials that you dig into is that while times and technology have changed, the perception and cold hard facts don't change. Not rocket science for sure, but still interesting to root through some history and see some older depictions that are so relevant this week.

Here are a few interesting items that I stumbled on while poking around and doing some reading. Click on each of the images below to see higher resolution versions.

The following image is from an 1882 Harper's cartoon.
In it, King Neptune releases his ruthless force through the deluge of the Mississippi River, engulfing tiny villages along its unrestrained path. In the background, the female personification of the South seeks the protection of Columbia (representing the federal government).
Strange, when I look at Neptune, he definitely looks like he is at the mercy of the force he has unleashed. Very apropos, but not mentioned in the formal explanation of the cartoon. Am I reading too much into it?

The following cartoon is called Old Man River, and I found it on the History of Geology. This cartoon is from 1927 and was published in a paper called the Ledger. That's Herbert Hoover in the background proposing higher levees.

Less cartoon-ish but interesting nonetheless is this image below from Popular Science Monthly, dated June of 1928 (you just have to love Google books sometimes). This is a map of the Mississippi River that exaggerates the height of the Mississippi in comparison to the surrounding land.

The article goes on to describe the theory as to why this is the case...and how it is this height which is the systemic problem causing continual flooding.

Finally, in a true piece of randomness, as I paged through this same 1928 publication, I stumbled across the article below. Now I am not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination but I could swear that this might be the hint of microwave dinners galore. Pretty neat.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Nature of Control

You’ve heard of Murphy—‘What can happen will happen’? This is where Murphy lives.
Southern Louisiana exists in its present form because the Mississippi River has jumped here and there within an arc about two hundred miles wide, like a pianist playing with one hand — frequently and radically changing course, surging over the left or the right bank to go off in utterly new directions.
- New Yorker article about the Atchafalaya by John McPhee called The Control of Nature.
I'm still wading my way through the article that the above quotes are from but as soon as I found this image, I felt like the two had to be paired together and the map was just too incredible not to share right away. The Control of Nature article was written in 1987 (published in The New Yorker) by John McPhee and explores the nature of controlling the Mississippi river in Cajun country.

The map was drawn by Harold N. Fisk in his Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River from 1944 and it shows the historical paths of the Mississippi river. For locals, the original path to the Gulf is now known as Bayou Teche about 2,800 to 4,500 years ago. Looking at the history of the Mississippi, I think one realizes the power of nature that we have attempted to bottle. I am not educated enough on the subject to say we are doing the right or wrong thing or to say that we are doing it the right way or not. I am just in awe of the forces we attempt to control and the science that we attempt to control them with. Truly amazing.

Filling the Superdome in 14 minutes...

Well, the Morganza Spillway was opened today in order to help avoid flooding metropolitan areas in the state of Louisiana. This is the first time since 1973 that the spillway has been opened (photo from 1973 below taken from here).

The expectation is that the spillway will be opened to operate at 25% capacity and may stay open for 3 weeks. Our local paper ran some numbers to figure out how much water is running through the spillway. Check this out:

According to the Tulane University athletics' website, the Superdome in New Orleans encompasses 125 million cubic feet of space...And if, as the Corps anticipates, 25 percent of the Morganza's 600,000 cubic feet of water per second capacity is used — 150,000 cubic feet of water per second — the water would fill the Superdome in just under 14 minutes.
That is crazy. And it may be open for 3 weeks....

Here is a map I found today on that shows the river system and the control structures around the Baton Rouge area. You can see where Lafayette is (where we live) on the map as well. We are out of the danger area but 25,000 people are not

First dogobie, next jumping from Chinooks

Update: Added link (oops) and fixed typo.

The Big Picture has a really cool set of photos that highlights "dogs in the news" that they put out on the heels of the news that a dog was used in the raid on bin Laden's compound. The photo above is of a dog with the 10th Special Forces Group jumping off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico on March 1.

The photo below is of Jozy. Not quite ready for military operations but if one day I can get her to jump from a helicopter into the ocean, I might give her a treat for that.

Worst Case Scenario

Update: Forgot to mention the source of this comic: xkcd - go here and go often. Also, the xkcd blog had a cool post about the Mississippi River Commission plan and the use of spillways to control/manage the flooding of the Mississippi river. The post is called Michael Bay's Scenario and can be found here.

Go here to see the official Inundation Scenarios released by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Stepping Back

It's Friday night and it has been a long week. For those of you who do not know, my wife's father is pretty sick so we have spent the week in Hot Springs visiting, helping out and spending time with family. Lots of hours in the hospital and lots of hours together as a family. The latter part is nice. We could go for a better context but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

Mid-day we usually take a break and head out to Lake Balboa to get Jozy some exercise. The weather here has been beautiful and Jozy is loving the water. Today was particularly windy and the waves gave her a bit of a scare. After a while she realized she could bite them and they would "go away." It is a great place to go have lunch and just get away for a bit, step back and reflect on the important things. My wife took this picture today and I think it captures the setting and the mood really well.

We are hanging in there. Lots of good progress today and treatment starts in earnest tomorrow. Please keep the family and most importantly, my wife's father in your prayers. Thanks for the support.

Clarity Through Coors

Calais said he had planned to wait until the floodwaters rose high enough to float his homemade boat, so he could patrol the neighborhood and protect his property."I made up my mind I wasn't going to leave," he said. "After I sat down and drank about 10 or 12 Coors, I said, 'Well, it's time.'"
There is nothing like a case of Coors to help bring clarity to a life changing event. I got a big kick out of this quote from a Cajun man who lives in Butte LaRose, which will probably be under water before the weekend is over. If forced to pick a drink of choice to bring clarity, I'd go with my old faithful, Chateau Ste Michelle Harvest Select Riesling.

My intent is definitely not to make light of this situation. I cannot imagine the hardship that these families will be going through as the flooding hits Louisiana and my prayers are with them. The quote is still pretty funny in the end so I felt it was worth sharing here. It is taken from this article in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.

The photo above is from Moreauville, Louisiana after the 1927 flood. The one below is taken in Lafayette. See more 1927 and 1973 flood photos here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


“In order to keep a true perspective of one's importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.” - Dereke Bruce

Picture of Jozy taken Monday in Hot Springs.

A strong brown god...

"I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river is a strong brown god - sullen, untamed and intractable, patient to some degree, at first recognized as a frontier; Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce; Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges. The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten by the dwellers in cities - ever, however, implacable. Keeping his seasons, and rages, destroyer, reminder of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated by worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting."

-- T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages

Good short article about the scene along the river near Baton Rouge in found here. It leads with the quote above by T.S. Eliot.

"Keeping his seasons, and rages, destroyer, reminder of what men choose to forget."

Powerful words.

Light and Heavy Reading

Staying up real late tonight and doing lots of reading of local newspapers about the flooding that is headed our way. I am woefully ignorant on Louisiana geography and what parts of our state are in or out of the flood zone. Found one map over at that is tough to read on my phone but will be one that I explore for sure tomorrow morning. I can't create hyperlink text via this email post but if you are interested, you can find it here.

I'm betting that the Corps of Engineers has even better information. Will be checking that out soon as well.

I am starting to read Rising Tide this evening as well. This is a book by John M. Barry that tells the story of the great Mississippi River flood of 1927. My wife has read this book and raves about it.

On the lighter side, I just started A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. If you have HBO, you're probably watching the series - most people I know who are watching it are loving it. Not an HBO subscriber myself, and I figure the books are going to be better anyways. The first few pages have already sucked me in and hooked me hard. Lots of my coworkers have read these books and have nothing but positive reviews.

Anyway, lots of light and heavy reading these days...good escapism from some of the difficult news we have in the family. If you are the praying type, or even if you are not, please keep my wife's father and whole family in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Where the Rideau Canal meets the Ottawa River

Nothing like finishing out 2 months of solid travel with a scenic trip up to Ottawa, Canada. It was a little rainy today but that does nothing to spoil the capital. Here is a photo of Parliament, a map of the country found in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and a view of the Grand Hall in that same museum.

I got to spend about an hour in the museum today, which was remarkable and just too short of time to really appreciate it. I will say that the museum did an excellent job of creating tangible spaces that conveyed the "feel" of what was being presented along with what literally was being presented. Tough to explain. The atmosphere for each exhibit was just very impressive.

Following the museum, I got to enjoy some of the local rainy weather with a walk across the Ottawa river, an excellent Tapas meal at a restaurant called Play, and speak to an Iraqi cab driver about Canadian/US politics and the recent news of Bin Laden's death. Pretty interesting day.