‘The water is awake, and alive!’ Yosemite Falls

December 30, 2013

I love the poetic descriptions, from geologists!

From Yosemite National Park’s “Nature Notes”:

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2009

Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America, and is a powerful presence in Yosemite Valley. From winter ice to spring flood to autumn dryness, this magnificent waterfall is a dynamic force of nature.

There’s even a resurrection story for the falls. Maybe Emily Dickinson was on to something about finding religion in nature.

More:

National Park Service photo of Upper Yosemite Falls

National Park Service photo of Upper Yosemite Falls

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and n...

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and nature preservationist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club , on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park in 1903. In the background: Upper and lower Yosemite Falls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

73,117

Typewriter of the moment: Aaron Copland in California

August 15, 2013

Composer Aaron Copland at his typewriter in California; Aaron Copland Collection, Library of Congress, circa 1939 or 1940

Composer Aaron Copland at his typewriter in California; Aaron Copland Collection, Library of Congress, circa 1939 or 1940. The photos is placed as either San Diego or Palm Springs; I’m leaning towards Palm Springs with those mountains. Anyone know?

Oddly, the Library of Congress photo site is down for the weekend; here's an image that shows what the photo should look like.  Links should work again come Monday.

Oddly, the Library of Congress photo site is down for the weekend; here’s an image that shows what the photo should look like. Links should work again come Monday.

Details for scholars and history buffs:

ITEM TITLE

Aaron Copland at typewriter, Palm Springs or San Diego, 1939-1940.

SOURCE

Collection: Aaron Copland Collection; Music Division, Library of Congress
Box/Folder: 472/1
Original format: 1 print: b&w; 2.5 x 2.5 in.

DIGITAL ID

copland phot0077

I don’t think this photo is under any copyright, but the collection contains this general language:

Photographs – used by permission of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., 254 West 31st Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10001, phone 461-6956, fax (212) 810-4567. The Fund’s permission is limited to the right to reproduce the image of Aaron Copland. All rights to use individual photographs are controlled by the respective owners of the copyrights in those photographs. For those listed as unidentified, we invite users to contact us with any information they may have with regard to those items.

Is it odd to find a composer working at a typewriter, and not a piano?  Especially before 1990, music writers had much occasion to use the machines — for lyrics, for descriptions of their music and how the published version should look, and for correspondence — and, baby, do composers have correspondence!  The brand on this machine I have not been able to determine; it’s a portable, I imagine, looking at the case to Copland’s left — the typewriter case.

Was Copland a hunt-and-peck typer?  Looks like to me from this photo.

Did you notice the U.S. flag on the pole on the other side of the house?

I wonder what he was working on, in California, at that time.

More:

English: Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland at a machine where we’d expect to find him — years after the photo at the top. Wikipedia image


What rocks Yosemite? Granite

July 7, 2013

Yosemite’s Nature Notes #20 (I’m behind):  A short film discussing the astonishing manifestations of granite in Yosemite National Park.

English: El Capitan in Yosemite National Park ...

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park viewed from the Valley Floor — one of the more famous granite formations in the Park. Wikipedia image

The film is simply named, “Granite.”  Steven Bumgardner produced the film.

Yosemite’s chief formations are granite, an igneous rock.  Much of the terrain was carved in the granite by glaciers and glaciation — so what Yosemite shows is how fire and ice combine to make rock, to make rock formations, and to make rocks of astonishing beauty.

(This is not a place to bolster creationist ideas.  This is real science, looking at God’s handiwork first hand.)

A North Carolina university makes field trips to Yosemite?  I’d love to take that class!

Watching this film, you get a sense of how important it can be to the education of our children to travel in the summers, to take vacations to our National Parks, and to places like Yosemite.

Where are you taking your kids this summer?  Kids, where are you going?

Enjoy it.  Geology lessons are often fun, and this one, on film, is more fun than most.

More:

Close-up of granite from Yosemite National Par...

Close-up of granite from Yosemite National Park, valley of the Merced River – Wikipedia image


Note to hikers in Provo Canyon: This is not Bigfoot

November 26, 2012

Not Bigfoot:

Bear on the Misty Falls Trail, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks - photo by Spencer Darrell, rights reserved

Bear on the Misty Falls Trail, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – photo by Spencer Darrell, rights reserved

Assume that thing in the brush is a bear if it looks vaguely like a bear; if you’re filming, do so as you back up, and only through a very long telephoto lens (bears can sprint up to 30 mph; you want a 300-yard head start).   A bear can do more damage to you than Big Foot; don’t mess up the bear’s thing with tourists looking for cryptofauna.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Spencer Darrell, one of Our Men in California.

More:


John Muir: The saving of 100 million acres begins with a first word on paper

July 19, 2012

John Muir’s place in American history endures constant assault.  Not only did businessmen and politicians of his own day find Muir’s policies anathema to their hopes of profiting from the destruction of the American wild, so today do we hear that profits cannot be had without the rape of the environment.

Muir knew better, and so should you!

On July 19, 1869 — in the middle of the administration of U. S. Grant, Muir began his journals on the beauty of life in the Sierras, to be published 42 years later as My First Summer in the Sierra.

It should be required reading in more American classrooms:

John Muir

Watching the daybreak and sunrise. The pale rose and purple sky changing softly to daffodil yellow and white, sunbeams pouring through the passes between the peaks and over the Yosemite domes, making their edges burn; the silver firs in the middle ground catching the glow on their spiry tops, and our camp grove fills and thrills with the glorious light. Everything awakening alert and joyful…John Muir,
Entry for “July 19 from
My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911.
“California As I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849-1900

John Muir
John Muir,
1902.
The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

On July 19, 1869, naturalist John Muir set pen to paper to capture his experience of awakening in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Published in 1911, My First Summer in the Sierra is based on Muir’s original journals and sketches of his 1869 stay in the vicinity of the Yosemite Valley. His journal tracks his three-and-a-half-month visit to the Yosemite region and his ascent of Mt. Hoffman and other Sierra peaks. Along the way, he describes the flora and fauna as well as the geography and geology of the area.

Muir immigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin as a child. He attended the University of Wisconsin and began working as a mechanical inventor. After an 1867 industrial accident nearly blinded him, he abandoned his career as an inventor to work as a naturalist.

California, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley
El Capitan,
Yosemite Valley,
California,
William Henry Jackson, photographer,
1899.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

An early defender of the environment, Muir in 1876 advocated adoption of a federal forest conservation program. His popular articles and books describing Yosemite’s natural wonders inspired public support for the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and expansion of the park in 1906.  At the same time, Muir continued to work and write as a serious scientist whose fieldwork in botany and geology enabled him to make lasting contributions. Alaska’s Muir Glacier is named for him. In 1892, Muir co-founded the as an association explicitly dedicated to wilderness preservation and served until 1914 as its first president, shaping it into an organization whose leadership in political advocacy for protection of the natural world continues to this day.

The popularity of President Theodore Roosevelt’s groundbreaking conservation program owed much to Muir’s writing. In 1903 Roosevelt and Muir visited the Yosemite region together. In 1908, Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation establishing the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, California, in Muir’s honor. Muir died six years later. Although sorrow and disappointment at his failure to save Hetch Hetchy Valley from becoming a reservoir for San Francisco may well have contributed to his death, Muir had succeeded more than any other single individual in establishing the preservation of wild nature as a major American cultural and political value. The clarity of his vision and the eloquence of his writing continue to inspire environmentalists throughout the world.

Learn more about John Muir and the conservation movement in American Memory:


Timelapse tour of natural wonders of the Southwest U.S. – spectacular!

July 19, 2011

Here’s a video I would like to use as a a warm-up, or prompt to a study of American geography.

Evosia Photography, the hangout of Henry Jun Wah Lee, has a short but spectacular tour of several sites in the American Southwest deserts — Arizona, California, Utah, and Navajoland — timelapse movies, usually shot at night with starry backgrounds.

He has set the photography against the music of a band named Conjure One, an edited version of their recording “Manic Star.”

Certainly there is copyright, at least a Creative Commons license — you should attribute this film to Mr. Lee and the music to Conjure One.

Can you identify these sites?  Can your students?  Can they map out a plan to visit these sites as one exercise?  Can you and your students identify any of the constellations on view? (List of sites, from Mr. Lee, below the fold.)

Have you, or your students, ever visited any of those sites, and gazed at the stars?  Why not?

2,912 looks

Read the rest of this entry »


Raise taxes to pay for regulation? What do we get for our money?

May 25, 2011

Letters to a blog of the Orange County Register (California):

In praise of regulations

ORANGE, Susan Wong: I recently went through my day being mindful of what taxes do for me. I took a shower in clean water. I drove to work over safe, well-maintained streets. I was free to practice a profession of my choosing. I am able to do this work because I got my degree at a California state school and passed the California Board exam to earn my license.

On the way home, I stopped at an FDIC bank to take out some money that I had earned and am allowed to keep to support myself and my family. I stopped at a grocery store and bought safe food to eat due to various government regulations. I took my dog for a walk at a beautiful regional park. I picked up a takeout dinner at a restaurant inspected by state inspectors. And I went to sleep in peace.

Government exists to provide us with tangible things that an individual cannot provide for himself. I am so tired of people complaining about taxes as if they get nothing in return. It takes money to run a government that allows us to live our lives as we do.

So, let’s be grown-up about it and raise taxes to keep California from becoming a third-world country.   (May 25, 2011)

Evidence that not every Californian is crazy.


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