Wherever it can, life blossoms

July 5, 2019

Oops. Misattributed, misidentified photo. Turns out this is really from the Atacama Desert in South America. Point still stands, but I got hoaxed on the identification of the photo.

Even just in cracks in the desert clay.

Near Hanksville, Utah. Alt National Park and Forest Service photo. Atacama Desert, South America.

Desert Bloom near the MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station), Hanksville, Utah. Alt National Park and Forest Service photo, by Emily (@ienjoyhiking)

Hmmm. Too far south, too dry an area for me to recognize the species right off the bat. Anyone got suggestions?

See: www.facebook.com/AltNPFS/photos/a.827680717399205/1281923281974944


More nature, please? More trees? UK in 100 seconds

June 21, 2019

Still image from “UK in 100 Seconds.”

I wonder what a similar film of the U.S. would look like? Has anyone done it?

It would probably have to be 400 seconds, at least.

A Friends of the Earth video, UK in 100 seconds

Description of the film from Friends of the Earth:

It’s difficult to get a picture of what the United Kingdom really looks like. Imaginations and assumptions can distort decisions that affect our lives. We often hear the idea that there is simply no more room in the country. In reality, just six per cent of the UK is built on.

‘The UK in 100 Seconds’ is a provocative and thought provoking film that rearranges the United Kingdom’s land into 32 categories and divides them over 100 seconds. Each second equates to 1% of what the country looks like from the air.

Made by guerrilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison and filmmaker Jack Smith, the film was made by travelling from Tongue in the north of Scotland to the New Forest in the south of England. Each second of the film covers roughly one metre of Raven-Ellison’s walk through moorland and peat bogs, down a runway and over a dump.

Made in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, the film gives an honest reflection of what land looks like and how it is used in the United Kingdom and raises some challenging questions. A major inspiration for Raven-Ellison making the film is the amount of space that is used for feeding livestock and the question – what if we made more space for nature?


Leaving Hanksville

November 19, 2018

Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM, Department of Interior) great photographer Bob Wick captures a photo that separates the redrock lovers from everybody else.

The road seems to dead end in the mountains ahead. Nobody visible in the land for miles around. It’s either incredibly desolate and lonely, or among the most beautiful, everyday views among rocks of incredible beauty you’ll ever see and remember forever.

Caption from America's Great Outdoors, Tumblr blog of the U.S. Department of Interior: Heading south from Hanksville, Utah, towards Lake Powell, highway travelers bisect the remote Henry Mountains – the last area mapped in the lower 48. The 11,000-foot forested peaks of the main mountain range rise to the west, while two distinctive summits, Mount’s Ellsworth and Holmes, jut skyward from the rolling red sandstone mesas to the east. Known as the “Little Rockies,” these peaks are studied by geologists around the world as a classic example of igneous rocks, formed deep within the earth’s mantle, thrusting through the overlying sandstone layers. The Little Rockies have been designated as a National Natural Landmark for their geological significance. The peaks also provide habitat for desert bighorn sheep and numerous birds of prey. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands

Caption from America’s Great Outdoors, Tumblr blog of the U.S. Department of Interior: Heading south from Hanksville, Utah, towards Lake Powell, highway travelers bisect the remote Henry Mountains – the last area mapped in the lower 48. The 11,000-foot forested peaks of the main mountain range rise to the west, while two distinctive summits, Mount’s Ellsworth and Holmes, jut skyward from the rolling red sandstone mesas to the east. Known as the “Little Rockies,” these peaks are studied by geologists around the world as a classic example of igneous rocks, formed deep within the earth’s mantle, thrusting through the overlying sandstone layers. The Little Rockies have been designated as a National Natural Landmark for their geological significance. The peaks also provide habitat for desert bighorn sheep and numerous birds of prey. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands

Outdoors people in Utah usually know the Henry Mountains. There’s a buffalo herd there, open to hunting. It’s an amazing rock formation in the middle of other amazing rocks, a towering landmark for miles.

Hanksville would have to be invented by a good fiction writer if it didn’t exist, a desert town where everybody stops who passes by, with nothing really to commend it but the fact that it’s there, and populated by people of great character. Who names a town “Hanksville?”

Who wouldn’t like to be on that road?


Encore: Powers of Ten – Charles and Ray Eames’ brilliant, before-its-time film

October 10, 2018

Images from

Images from “Powers of Ten,” 1977 edition. From IconEye

Back on October 10, 2010, we celebrated “Powers of Ten Day: 10/10/10.”

We’ve only got two tens in the date today, but the work of Charles and Ray Eames deserves remembering at least every October 10.

It’s a classic film, wonderful in its earliest versions in the 1970s, long before CGI. In 2018, I think it stands up very well.

Earlier I wrote:

AMNH’s “The Known Universe” is a cool film. Putting up that last post on the film, I looked back and noted that when I had previously written about the brilliant predecessor films from Charles and Ray Eames, “Powers of Ten,” the Eames films were not freely available on line.

That’s been fixed.

I like to use films like this as warmups to a year of history, and as a reminder once we get into studying the history of space exploration, of just how far we’ve come in understanding the universe, and how big this place is.

Of course, that means wer are just small parts.

The Eames’s genius showed the scale of things, from a couple picnicking in a park, to the outer reaches of the universe, and then back, zooming into the innermost reaches of a human down to the sub-atomic level.

There’s a series of these films; this one, published on YouTube by the Eames Office, was done in 1977, one of the later versions.

How can you use this in class, teachers? (I recommend buying it on DVD, as I did; better sound and pictures, generally.)

Film information:

Uploaded on Aug 26, 2010

Powers of Ten takes us on an adventure in magnitudes. Starting at a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago, this famous film transports us to the outer edges of the universe. Every ten seconds we view the starting point from ten times farther out until our own galaxy is visible only a s a speck of light among many others. Returning to Earth with breathtaking speed, we move inward- into the hand of the sleeping picnicker- with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. Our journey ends inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell. POWERS OF TEN © 1977 EAMES OFFICE LLC (Available at http://www.eamesoffice.com)

At the Eames Office Youtube site, you may find the film in with Mandarin Chinese, German, and Japanese translations (no Spanish?).  If you’re unfamiliar with the work of this couple — you would recognize much of the stuff they designed, I’m sure — check out a short film on an exhibit on Ray Eames (which has concluded, sadly):

More:

The very recognizable, famous Eames Chair, from Herman Miller. Ideally, you can sit in your Eames Chair while watching

The very recognizable, famous Eames Chair and Ottoman, from Herman Miller. Ideally, you can sit in your Eames Chair while watching “Powers of Ten.” Herman Miller image.

This is an encore post.

Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.


Deer in a lake, Oregon — stunning photo, a fake

April 15, 2018

From @BestEarthPix on Twitter:

It's a mule deer, in a lake. Which lake? Who was the lucky/skilled photographer? No details.

Frustratingly, the only information from @BestEarthPix is “Oregon, USA.” It’s a mule deer, in a lake. Which lake? Who was the lucky/skilled photographer? No details.

Can you supply details? The photographer should get credit, I think.

Update: This site, 500px, attributes the photo to Stijn Dijkstra. But Amazon.com/UK leads me to believe this is a sunrise at Yellowstone Lake, with a deer’s profile PhotoShopped in. See “Sunrise at Yellowstone Journal” and this photo.

From "Sunrise at Yellowstone Lake Journal," available from Amazon.com/UK

From “Sunrise at Yellowstone Lake Journal,” available from Amazon.com/UK

Further update: It’s a stock photo from Alamy, PhotoShopped.

The Flat Mountain arm of Yellowstone Lake at sunrise, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2016. Image courtesy Neal Herbert/Yellowstone National Park. Gado Images/Alamy Stock Photo

How disappointing, and maddening, that what looks like a great image turns out to be faked.


Utah Lake in the cold

April 6, 2018

Jeff McGrath (@youtah) on Twitter: Utah Lake is just stunning right now. This was taken at the Northern End with my drone while flying for recreational fun. #utwx #dronephotography #recreationaldrone

Jeff McGrath (@youtah) on Twitter: Utah Lake is just stunning right now. This was taken at the Northern End with my drone while flying for recreational fun. #utwx #dronephotography #recreationaldrone

Northern end of Utah Lake, near Lehi, probably near the old boat launch and harbor near where the old amusement park Saratoga was (now a town loaded with housing tracts).

My grandfather, Leo Stewart, Sr., came into the world 30 or so miles south, in Benjamin, Utah, named after a family patriarch of sorts, Benjamin Franklin Stewart. When he was very young, my grandfather said, they’d boat out a half-mile or so into the lake and look down into 20 feet of water, and pick the giant trout they’d want to hook. That was in the late 19th century, of course.

In that sorry time 30 years later, some fool introduced European carp into the area, for more game fish. Carp dig up the shallow bottom and muddy the water. In my youth along the lake you could never see more than six inches into the lake. Because it was so far from everything else important, a steel plant was built at Geneva, about midway between north and south ends of the lake, during World War II — in case the mills in California were bombed. U.S. Steel eventually ended up with the plant.

From our home on the Lake Bonneville bench, 800 feet or so above the lake, we could watch the steel mill’s pouring of slag at night, a little flow of artificial magma to light the sky and look cool. The mill also dumped chemicals into the water which further clouded the view.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Utah State Parks.


Best show on God’s Earth, free!

January 13, 2018

Tourists in Arches National Park, in Utah. Arches is one of five National Parks in Utah.

Tourists in Arches National Park. Arches is one of five National Parks in Utah.

Utah.com lists the days in the coming year when entry to National Parks is free. Utah.com is a promotional site for Utah, where several National Parks are big tourist draws — so they have a bias.

It’s a good bias!

Alas, only four days so far:

FREE National Park Entrance Days 2018

January 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

April 1: First day of National Parks Week

September 22: National Public Lands Day

November 11: Veterans Day weekend

Four free days to  split among five National Parks in Utah: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef. National Monuments are probably included in the free admission days, so you can add Timpanogos Cave, Rainbow Bridge, Dinosaur, Promontory Point and others.

There’s a lot to see in Utah’s mountains and redrock country — and that doesn’t include the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Flats.


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