Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Too Busy To Blog

South Burlington, VT

I've been lax on writing blog posts this summer.   My excuse is that we have been very busy (see below).

Last Thursday, Libby, Jen and I took off for the coast of Maine.   We stayed at an AIRBNB place in the country.   Friday, we did Freeport, then Boothbay Harbor.

On Saturday, we were joined by my sister Nancy and her husband Karl.  The five of us spent most of the day at the new (since 2007) and delightful botanical garden in Boothbay.   It was a professional visit for Jen because she got lots of ideas for plant species to make her clients happy.

After that we
for Rockland to eat in one of my favorite places in the world, the Rockland CafĂ© Bar.  Yummy.

We didn't have a place to stay for Saturday Night.  Jen did some research by phone and found a "room" for all five of us close by.  It turned out that the room was an entire cottage lavishly decorated and furnished and right on the water of Penobscot Bay.  It was really charming.  The only down side was that we had to listen to the proprietors endness stories about his homeland in Ireland.

Suday, we continued north.  We stopped to photograph the Islesboro Ferry (sorry Dick and Cathy, we had no chance to stop and visit).  Then on to the charming little village of Bayside (sorry Don and Margaret, we had no chance to stop and visit).  Finally on to Belfast.  Belfast is one of the places on Libby and my short list of places we would like to live if we weren't cruisers.

Today we are off to our fourth camping trip this summer to Valcour Island.

p.s. In times past, when we traveled to places where I had no Internet access, I wrote blogs anyhow, and simply posted them when we got back.  So what excuse do I have for not blogging more often now?  I can blame the iPad.  Because of the phone and iPad, I don't carry a laptop around so much.  In fact, my small and light netbook computer we left on Tarwathie this summer.  I'll have to watch out for that in the future.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Happens When You Flip the Light Switch

South Burlington, VT

Physics Forums, has a feature called Science Insights.  It publishes articles of interest to scientists and engineers or fans of the same. They just published an article of mine.  I'm proud of that.

The link is below.  I belive that it available to anyone to view.

What Happens When You Flip the Light Switch

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Laid Back at BTV

South Burlington, VT

Libby and I continue to expand our horizons.  Today we toured the Lamoille River using TJ.  It was very pretty.

Yesterday, I went over to the airport to drink my morning coffee.  I was surprized to see a hot air balloon floating nearby.   I listened to the control tower radio frequency.  

The controller was well aware of the baloon and he was warning the airplanes to look out for it.  But they didn't need much warning, the baloon was huge and highly visible.  

After a while the balloon actually drifted over the runway and it blocked a FEDEX jet that had just landed.   But no big deal.  The FEDEX pilot just said, "We'll wait for him to move away."

Soon after, the baloon actually landed on the apron of the airport.  I don't know if it was deliberate, or whether he had permission, but I could see that nobody got excited.

Imagine if that happened at JFK or MIA.  The press would have called it a terrorist attack, and DHS would have surrounded the baloon with men with machine guns.   Not in Burlington though.  This place is very laid back.  

Back in the 90s, I was also listening to the Burlington Airport Tower when a similar incident happened.   The balloon pictured below was drifting over the airport.  I heard the tower controller say, "Traffic is a Boeing 747 hovering over the field."  Now that is what I call laid back.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chomp chomp chomp chomp, Another One Bites The Dust

South Burlington, VT

I think I mentioned before that a good form of local entertainment this summer is the demolition of 87 houses surrounding the Burlington International Airport.  Here is a picture from this morning.

It takes only 30 minutes to demolish a single storey house or 60 minutes for a two-storey one.  It takes the rest of the day to demolish the basement, to fill the empty hole with soil, and to smooth it in preparation for growing grass.  In a month, it will look like a lawn that has been there forever.  Only pictures, will record that a house ever stood on that spot.  No traces will remain for future archaeologists.

Look at the lime green bedroom wall.  I surmise that it was a child's bedroom.   Some boy or girl grew up there and would have a heavy emotional investment in the memories of those walls.   Fortunately, that boy or girl was not there to witness the demolition.  It would probably feel like a personal attack on their identity if they did witness it.

That machine with the claw looks like a monster munching the house.  Think of Godzilla.  It is almost irresistible to watch as a form of entertainment.  I see several people from the neighborhood out there every day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Valcourian Balm for the Sould

South Burlington, VT

Soul Balm; is that a good phrase to describe Valcour Island?

We just returned from another three day stay there.  When we are on Valcour we feel totally at peace with the world.   The only thing that forces us to return to land is running out of food.

The past few days especially, there has been a heat wave.  But sitting 5 meters from the water it never gets too hot.   Besides, we can (and did) simply walk into the water frequently for a swim.  The water is perfect temperature for swimming (75F 24C).  It is also crystal clear, soft and silky.

The interior of Valcour is also interesting.   It is perfectly clear that Valcour was scrubbed clean down to baserock in the last glacial period about 12,000 years ago (?).   Since then, it has rebuilt only a thin layer of soil on top, 3-6 inches in most places.  That makes it hard for mighty trees to establish structurally adequate roots to hold them up.   Accordingly, every time a powerful wind comes along, some of the big trees fall pulling their root system over with them.

Note the slab of rock pulled up when this tree fell.

Almost every visit to Valcour in the past 40 years, I fantasize about energy.   I would love to have a house there, and to power it with the energy from dead wood, plus the thermal sink of lake waters all around.   Of course, that dream can never be fulfilled, but it is fun.

Cedars are especially tenatious in seeking soil for their roots.

The interior of Valcour is also totally shaded and almost always damp.   Fungi, and moss flourish.   In some places the verdant green moss beds are somehow suspended in air above the rocks.  When you walk on them it feels like a trampoline.   If they weren't damp, they would make marvelous natural bed mattresses.

We circumnavigated the island during a calm spell.

I'm sure it's not over,  We will return to Valcour again before the end of this summer season.