Monday, October 27, 2008

flying under the overpass

I spotted this hummingbird a few months back on Central Avenue under I-17 in Phoenix.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

bowling for murals

This large tile mural can be found in South Tucson on 29th Street, east of I-10. The South Tucson area has an amazing amount of tile street art, especially along 10th Avenue. I really like the way the artist(s) created the three dimensional bowls, the overall scene, and the little details hidden in the tile mural (click on pics). Well done!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

#54 wet hands, dry hands

I recently tried out a Dyson Airblade hand dryer in an LAX airport restroom. This forced air hand dryer is made by the same people that make the Dyson vacuum cleaners that are supposed to just work "properly".

This air dryer works quite differently (and better) than the heated air hand dryer that has been around for decades. To use, you insert both hands into the Airblade and it starts blowing an unheated, 400 mph, thin sheet of air down both sides of your hands as you slowing pull them out, about 12 seconds start to finish. No rubbing hands together or any of that.

I have to say I was impressed. It was fast, simple, clean, and my hands were actually dry. There was only one of these in the restroom (demo?) and the rest of the restroom had about 6-8 automatic paper towel dispensers (automatically lowering paper towels onto wet countertops, sigh.)

  • energy and environment friendly: no heat, no paper, no trash, lower labor
  • fast
  • clean
  • actually works and dries hands
  • acceptable noise level
  • I'm not sure how these are supposed to drain water and whether this one was plumbed or not... The airport had put a big mat under it due to water accumulation on the floor..
  • Doesn't work in a power outage
  • It takes getting used to a new way of doing something... Given the availability of paper towels, I might not have tried it if it weren't for the new thing list.
Given a choice, would I use one again? Yes

anasazi warriors, or deer?

I snapped the above pics today from my car passing through a neighborhood in the general UofA area. Pretty cool street level residential art! In top picture, not sure if that's a vine or a trail of leaf cutter ants hauling away their bounty... :)

[LINKS: For those of you who enjoy political satire, the November 2008 presidential result was Alanna's fault, she didn't vote. For more details, check out the November 7, 2008 news coverage on her blog over at Tad and Alanna's Simple Adventures. Very well done, very funny (its actually a customizable video from]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Arvel Bird concert at Javalinas

I enjoyed an outstanding concert at Javalinas in southeast Tucson tonight featuring Arvel Bird ((video sample)), an amazing native american violin and flute player, and Will Clipman on world percussion. Jan Seiden also joined them for several songs and played a great performance set of her own. [I had the privilege of taking a group workshop and private lesson from Jan last weekend].

So besides listening to some great music, I have a few additions to my new things list: #51 attended a workshop taught by Jan Seiden, #52 attended a Jan Seiden concert, and #53 attended an Arvel Bird concert.

[LINKS: grannyj of WalkingPrescott has posted some great pictures of Prescott Kachinas. Among several interesting trip pictures that Amber of amber365 has posted is one showing the truely amazing size of the Iwo Jima Memorial.]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Half Dome Light

This is a lucky snap I took of Half Dome from Glacier Point in Yosemite. The clouds had shaded most of the valley and a patch of light came out of the clouds just spotlighting Half Dome. Half Dome raises 4800 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor below and 8,800 feet above sea level.

A really nice view.

Monday, October 13, 2008

#50 Can't see the forest for the trees...

Trying to catch up on some recent pictures and new-to-me things... These are a few snaps I took of the giant Sequoias while hiking around in the Mariposa Grove last month in Yosemite National Park, California. Very impressive trees, some around 2000 years old!

Well worth the visit, but a bit overcrowded for my taste (late September) -- I can only imagine what its like at the peak of the summer season. Such is the nature of major national parks and increasing populations, I'm afraid to say...

[Speaking of trees, for amusing insights on the pack hunting, predator/prey relationship between falling trees and goats, check out Tree Ocean's recent post Busy Stuff.]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

a full week of ups & downs

What to do after watching last weeks stock market acrobatics? Go watch the Tucson Acrobatic Shootout of course! This is a giant scale radio controlled aerobatic model plane competition held every year in Tucson. It attracts world class pilots from Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Canada, and the U.S. to compete for over $100,000 in cash and prizes. The model airplanes being flown are LARGE, ranging from 1/8 actual size to a 1/2 scale Piper Cub. As you can tell from the radio controlled plane coming in for a landing in the picture above, it was a beautiful day out today!

My picture below shows one of the really cool things done at this year's event as a demonstration/show -- they got the FAA to approve having a piloted acrobatic "real" plane perform with a large scale radio controlled model plane. The upper plane is flown by acrobatic pilot (and American Airlines pilot) Matt Chapman in the plane while the lower plane is flown by radio controlled pilot Frank Knoll on the ground. [also see video clip]

The spectator's favorite part of the competition is the free-style event where each pilot performs a series of acrobatic moves that they have choreographed to music. I captured one routine on video below to share with you all. Note the pilot and spotter standing on the runway from time to time when the plane passes on the far side of them.

The video below shows part of the dual demonstration flight with the yellow plane flown with pilot Matt Chapman IN the plane, and the other plane being flown radio controlled by Frank Knoll on the ground. In the video they are both completing a full loop with their respective planes.

And my last video is of Matt Chapman's full size acrobatic plane being flown by him in the plane. He is describing his maneuvers over the PA system and you can really hear the G forces working on him. That's also one of the things that makes radio controlled airplane acrobatics so neat -- with no pilot on board they can pull way more G's and also take more risks. But I'd have to say Matt's performance this afternoon was very impressive! Not a bad way to spend $5 and part of a Sunday.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

#49 hiked to Taft Point

While in Yosemite I did a quick 2 mile round trip hike out to Taft Point.

The guy on the top of the rock is standing on Taft Point. A very cool vantage point to look down about 3500 vertical feet into the Yosemite Valley. I think that point may be the highest spot that I've stood on and been able to look nearly straight down... There is a small rail there, but not where I'm standing to take this picture. Across the valley and lower is El Capitan.

A very nice little hike, and only a few other folks on the trail -- a lot of the other areas that aren't in the back country were pretty hard to find much solitude in.

[It was a hazy day and I didn't bring any filters, so what you see is what I saw...]

#48 visited Yosemite National Park

This is a picture of the 3000 ft high face of El Capitan in Yosemite that I took yesterday while watching climbers. I drew a circle around one set of climbers above, enlarged below...

Climbers typically take 2-3 days to climb El Capitan.

In the picture above you can see their hanging duffel bags of supplies and a portable "ledge" to sleep on. I've read accounts of climbers and rescues on this rock, but seeing it first hand really put it in perspective. Impressive. From where this group was, I'm guessing they are on their second day on the vertical face. El Capitan has also been speed climbed in an astounding 2 hours and 45 minutes! Here's a link to some videos of that feat.

I spent a few days in northern California last week and since I've never been to Yosemite before, dropped in for two fast (too fast) days of sightseeing and day hikes. More pics to come...