15_the_circle: (hummingbird)
Monday, March 21st, 2011 07:57 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

It's that time of year again.  They're on the way

The annual departure and return of the hummingbirds are perhaps the lowest and highest points of the year.  respectively, of course.  As a guide to the inevitable anticipation the map linked above is helpful but not exact: the first few waves of passers-through never stray this far from the coastal and river valley flyways so it's generally always much later when they first appear in the Grove. 

Does that keep me from looking out for them sooner -- a lot sooner -- than that? 
Of course not. 

15_the_circle: (capital bikeshare)
Saturday, March 12th, 2011 12:08 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

There's nothing more frustrating than having an elegant solution for which no problem can be found and for some time now -- many months actually -- I've been trying to find an excuse to play with use the Circos visualization tool.  I had anticipated that its best potential would lie in finding patterns in some reasonably sparse matrix and traffic flows on a network (whether information or physical) seemed like the best bet. 

For the past couple of months now I've been an enthusiastic user of (which is to say: hopelessly addicted to) the Capital Bikeshare system.  CaBi has restored an exercise component to my quotidian routine and facilitated a modal shift in my daily commute away from the increasingly unpleasant Metro system.  Systemwide bikeshare usage information has not yet been released but individual subscribers have access to their own usage history, from which one can see their own contribution to the whole.  So far it looks like this

[click on image below for details]

With over 5,000 subscribers, any individual slice through data is going to represent a sample of under 0.02%.  This figure and the page on which it appears are updated daily but things won't really get interesting until they get around to releasing a larger data set. 

15_the_circle: (old stonework)
Saturday, March 12th, 2011 11:49 am

[OT from cottage renovations]

The Wonder Boy has started a canal towpath walking journal (available on DW by RSS).  Cool. 

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15_the_circle: (GITS laughing man)
Sunday, February 13th, 2011 11:25 am

[OT from cottage renovations]
[excerpted from an email sent to colleagues at work]




Thematic maps, long appreciated as an information-rich visual medium for conveying dense geospatial information, have an aesthetic that one often takes for granted.  It doesn't have to be that way:

See Tim Wallace on bogus art maps

Personally I think we should look to our municipal art heritage and come up with a Jackson Pollock themed map - with live zoning or emergency response data of course - to commemorate the centennial of his birth next year. 

This is not as far fetched as one might think - a Mondrian set came out of some GPS drift analysis I did last year, and it occurs to me that some of the heat maps I've been tinkering with (not on company or customer time) could adapt rather well to a Pollock theme. 




I don't really expect anybody to be interested in taking it on, but if a suitable opportunity comes along over the next few months I will try to shape the outputs in that direction. 

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15_the_circle: (snow cottage)
Thursday, January 27th, 2011 01:05 am

[OT from cottage renovations]

... and here is what the Circle looked like through the front door.  Taken with ambient light. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)




+1 )
15_the_circle: (snow oak)
Friday, January 14th, 2011 08:56 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

Seen through its ripply old glass exterior windows, the interior of the Town Hall catches the setting sun.  It is the natural gathering place where we meet for all sorts of functions, but when empty this most public of our spaces takes on an intensely private feel. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)




McCathran Hall


15_the_circle: (snow cottage)
Friday, January 14th, 2011 08:05 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

At this time of year it's a rare treat to catch an early train and make it back to the Grove during daylight.  The trip back out from the city seems a bit odd; normally in winter one rides in darkness and by the time the days get longer and lighter the trackside view is normally obscured by vegetation so the passing scene had an unaccustomed level of detail. 

On getting home I managed to get back out into the light without undue delay, but prior forgetfulness on my part had meant that the camera battery hadn't been sitting in the charger and as a result the device was only operational for a short time though with sunlight running out it didn't make much of a diffrence. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)




Jackson Park

In the fading light with snow on the ground this dried hydrangea was set in an ambient light that was softer than I had expected. 


hydrangea
15_the_circle: (MARC train)
Monday, January 3rd, 2011 11:39 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

The best commutes I've ever had have been when I could take the train to work, or could bike there.  Each mode has its advantages, but they have shared the same drawback: the opportunity cost of having to give up the other. 

This is no longer a problem.  Since the Capital Bikeshare system got started it is now possible to start in the Grove, take the MARC train downtown and then complete the journey by bike. 

More people than not seem to dread the commute to work, I actually look forward to it. 

Interestingly enough, for that last leg through urban traffic cycling is hands-down faster than any combination of subway, automobile, bus and walking.  The only way to beat it would be with a personal jetpack. 

15_the_circle: (rosette raindrop)
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 10:50 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

First Avenue cottages, their metal porch rooves gleaming in last Sunday's afternoon rain. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)




With the leaves down, sight lines have opened around the Grove and architectural detail is now easier to see and appreciate. 

15_the_circle: (azalea post facto)
Sunday, November 28th, 2010 11:25 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

There's always somebody who doesn't get the memo, or perhaps this is just an example of rugged individualism.  Or of feline-grade stubbornness.  For whatever reason, out in the Circle this azalea has been blooming even as autumn winds down. 

Light frosts have not yet deterred these blossoms though a continued decline in overnight low temperatures can be expected.  It's not clear to me which pollinators it might be seeking to attract, but one presumes that the effort is expended for some purpose other than that of catching my eye as I wander past. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)





Azalea
15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Thursday, November 25th, 2010 12:00 am

[OT from cottage renovations]

... the chestnuts are boiled, shelled and riced. 
There's plenty more to do but it marks a significant checkpoint. 

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15_the_circle: (abc...)
Monday, November 22nd, 2010 09:59 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

It's pretty rare for anything work related to show up in this space but today is an exception: it was the first of a two-day technical training session on the architecture and internals of LTE wireless networks.  Very up-and-coming and all that. 

It is not a topic that lends itself to tight encapsulation, but:

  • The pieces fit together very elegantly, and the way in which it all goes about delivering bandwidth and making efficient use of the electromagnetic spectrum is quite impressive. 
  • The technological change and infrastructure impact are substantial -- reminiscent of the effort that went the first deployment of TDMA to satellite networks. 
  • The part of LTE that's already been implemented seems to be working quite well.  Getting the rest of it to happen depends on a generation of devices that don't yet exist.  This doesn't seem to bother anybody. 
  • LTE is computationally intense.  Insanely so (though within the capabilities of current generation tech). 
  • It also has, by far, the highest acronym density I've ever encountered*. 

-----
* after class I inquired of the instructor whether he was paid by the acronym. 

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15_the_circle: (GITS laughing man)
Saturday, November 20th, 2010 07:01 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

Got a start on Thanksgiving preps today.  Checking with co-hosts it appears we will have 14→15 people, subject to a certain amount of last minute fluctuation.  The only known food allergy among those expected is one guest with an adverse reaction to mast crops.  This will not prevent the return of the traditional chestnut stuffing (for the simple reason that I'm incapable of not making it) but the situation has led to a wider consideration for that second stuffing.  Something more interesting than usual perhaps? 

Randomly asking folks (the next best thing to crowdsourcing) showed a mild preference for cornbread stuffing, at least as a base from which it could be taken in different directions.  That would be regionally appropriate but surely there would be any harm in looking a bit further: there are a lot of interesting recipes out there where Google can find them and my current thinking is more along the lines of some interesting ones that turned up, involving butternut squash and dried cranberries. 

But that wasn't all: there were a few whose base ingredient was:

10 White Castle sliders, hold the pickle

If you don't believe it, feel free to replicate the search
To some extent it makes at least a certain amount of sense: surely they would yield bread, meat of some description and at least trace element quantities of onion.  Intriguing though the notion might be, on the whole I rather think that:

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15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Saturday, November 20th, 2010 10:53 am

[OT from cottage renovations]

The end of last weekend provided more opportunity for the taking of pictures than for their processing, so here's the rest of the batch.  For the most part our leaves were taken down by a couple of days worth of rain, trading more sky for a certain starkness of appearance, so it's good to look back those few days to see what had recently remained. 

(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)




These dogwood leaves out back were still hanging on, positively glowing as the morning light came streaming through. 


Cornus florida

While out on the circle these Japanese Maples were completely dazzling. 


Acer palmatum

... and down on Chestnut Road and Oak Street these leaves, among the kazillions to have fallen in the Grove, over the past few weeks, created a found composition that was appealing even in random collections and detached from their trees. 


Much of the Grove is dedicated as parkland, some instances of which are small and inobvious in that they have no marker and do not appear on published maps.  Knott Park is a good example, occupying the open area between Grove and First Avenues.  Its spring and summer dogwoods and hydrangeas give way in the fall to this leaf display -- followed in turn by an overwinter dormancy in which one remembers and anticipates the other seasons. 


15_the_circle: (cottage autumnal)
Sunday, November 14th, 2010 10:01 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

Not quite finished with yesterday, here's one that I didn't mean to leave behind. 

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)





Ginkgo biloba

The leaves of this ginkgo are mostly turned and, for that matter, mostly fallen.  This one is losing colour but has acquired a couple of strands of spiderweb while in the near distance some others are taking on a ghostly appearance in the last of the day's light. 

15_the_circle: (cottage autumnal)
Sunday, November 14th, 2010 08:25 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

November in the Grove is our time for the annual leaf crop harvest, or it would be if it had any market value.  Failing that the next best thing is to pile them along the walkways and paved roads from which they are collected by impressively massive and noisy machinery and hauled off to become compost.  The nearby Asbury community used to accrete truly massive leaf piles but some sort of development has been underway over there and that part of their facility has been a construction site for rather a while now so our excess biomass has since been diverted to places unknown. 

As the leaves turn and fall into the ever-shortening days one has to choose carefully: any time spent moving leaves is subtracted from that available for walking around to appreciate and perhaps record the show, and vice versa

The images below represent Saturday's trade-off in this regard:
(click through these thumbnails for higher resolution images)




Step out the back door and the low hanging leaves of the dogwoods are right there, catching the afternoon light. 


Cornus florida

Meanwhile out in the circle the Japanese Maples are at it again, leaves glowing like bright jewels:


Acer palmatum

Down at the other end of the Grove the stately sycamore is using the same light into a different, but equally compelling way against a wonderfully blue sky ...


Platanus occidentalis

... and nearby these stellate leaves are not to be overlooked. 


Around the corner and a ways down Brown Street the light is helping along this found composition.  There's a lot going on here: paint on paint on cement; shadows on brick and mortar; bits of detail that at first seemed extraneous but on taking another look seemed to belong. 


Heading back along Oak Street, looking up into the sugar maples the effect was once again completely overpowering. 


Acer


Coming back to the Circle one returns just as the light is starting to run out. 


127.0.0.1 a/k/a ::1


That was yesterday.  This afternoon's images are still in the camera.  With any luck they will appear in this space in another day or so. 

15_the_circle: (maneki neko)
Sunday, November 14th, 2010 07:43 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)





Acer palmatus

In addition to the play of light and shadow, the leaves in this image are suggestive of traditional Japanese koinobori fish kites trailing the breeze.  This image was taken on Thursday, about a half year too late for Tango no Sekku Boys' Day but it can't be helped: these trees run on their own cycle. 

15_the_circle: (cottage sign)
Sunday, November 14th, 2010 07:32 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

(click through this thumbnail for higher resolution image)





Old tree seen through old glass of new window*; image dates to last weekend so in net time it too could be considered old, or at least outdated: by today most of its leaves were already down. 

-----
* which a close look at this image shows could benefit from some cleaning. 

15_the_circle: (california poppy)
Saturday, November 13th, 2010 08:09 am

[OT from cottage renovations]

O how my mother would have enjoyed this ...

It was from encountering Treasure Island at a young and impressionable age that she became besotted for life by pirates.  So much so that (as my father observed) she even married one. 

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15_the_circle: (GITS laughing man)
Thursday, November 11th, 2010 10:38 pm

[OT from cottage renovations]

South of the border, in a galaxy far, far away ...

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