Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Eject! Eject! Eject! And Another Perspective

In aviation, one of the more dire circumstances a pilot can find themselves in is what's referred to as a flat spin. A flat spin is where the nose of the aircraft is in a more level position (rather than pointed downward), placing the aircraft's center of gravity closer to the spin axis, rendering the rudder and elevators ineffective in breaking the perilous spin. More often than not, it's an unrecoverable situation.

We, in America, are in a flat spin—I'm speaking of our democracy.

Fascism and authoritarianism are taking root here at the top while a solid 38% of the country doesn't seem to notice or maybe they don't mind because it's their guy who is leading the revolution—if you can call it that. I'm saddened by the fact that I have two siblings and many other relatives, friends, and neighbors who are caught up in the madness and continue to support the imbecile in the Oval Office.

You don't tear gas peaceful protesters to clear a park for a photo-op of the president awkwardly holding up, of all things, a bible—a book he's clearly never read, and you don't send in unidentified paramilitary goon squads (where they're not wanted or needed) to beat and arrest peaceful protesters to show that you're a "law and order" president and still get to call yourself the leader of the "free world", especially when you've just pardoned the man who stuck to the plan and kept his word not to testify against you, lying to investigators and to Congress with the understanding that he'd be pardoned for his crimes. We're supposed to be better than that.

In case you've forgotten, there are still children who haven't been reunited with their parents after having been separated from them at our southern border. Trump is still an unabashed racist who has cost us tens of thousands of lives because of his failure to lead in our country's efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. No reasonable person can believe a word that comes out of his mouth. He has diminished our standing in the world among our allies as he's alienated them while cozying up to some of our planet's most despicable dictators. He's working to abolish the Affordable Care Act, attempting to do away with preexisting conditions while still offering nothing in the way of a replacement—a replacement he said would be crafted in the first month of his administration. He's given away the store in the way of unnecessary tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy while defunding programs put in place to help the neediest among us to help pay for those irresponsible tax cuts. He's vilified our media while creating doubts in many of you about the credibility of so many of our institutions meant to protect us from bad actors. And most recently, he's attempting to strip funding for coronavirus testing because it looks bad to know the extent to which we're failing to control this thing.

That's leadership?

It's been nearly 4 years since I've spoken with my sister. She's a victim of conservative media while all I can do is watch from the sidelines as she goes deeper and deeper into the wilderness of hate, fear, and lies. It's truly sad and I take no comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in this phenomena. My mother fell into the same abyss the last several years of her life and for that, I'll never forgive the voices of Fox who conned her and continue to con countless others.

In a fighter jet, the pilot has the option of pulling the eject lever and bailing out of the aircraft to avoid death from a flat spin. Our only option as a society is to eject this most corrupt administration and its enablers this fall on election day, or perhaps we should refer to it as ejection day because it's clearly time to eject.

Moving on.

I've been recording snippets of my rides for nearly 11 years. It's what I do. I had no way of knowing when I made this first recording west of Jordan on a loop to Belle Plaine what it would lead to. I'm sometimes amused by my crude early attempts at capturing video out on the road. When I first began making my recordings, I did it with one main thought in mind: I wanted to be able to look back on these moments decades from now, to be able to relive them and reminisce about my life that was. I thought, how fun it would be to have had the ability to record videos from my time in San Diego in the mid to late '70s when I first got into road riding—to be able to look back on some experiences from those rides all these many years later. I didn't want to find myself saying that same thing decades from now, especially when I have the ability to capture some of these moments. That's why I do this.

In my last blog post, I talked about someday getting a drone to take with me out on my rides and capture video from an entirely different angle—video with me actually in it. That will have to wait a while for technology to improve but until then I've decided to add one other perspective to my ride videos: a rear-facing camera. The idea came to me mostly out of a desire to capture video of dogs giving chase to me that seldom make the front-facing view of my GoPro. I'm usually working too hard to try and stay ahead of them to get a good look at them as they chase me down so I thought it might be fun to have a GoPro do that for me. And also, I think it will make for a nice additional perspective when we resume our group rides, hopefully, next year.

I haven't yet had the chance to try the new camera angle on one of my rides but I did take it out for a quick spin up the street to see how it looks. I like!

I've added a GoPro Hero 8 to the front of my bike. My Hero 7 will work the rearview. Time to get out in search of some pups to video! Watch this space!

That's all I've got

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Sidelined Mile-Markers, Stained Glass, and Video Talk

Lately, I find myself gauging the passing of time and the seasons by the growth in our gardens. In the spring, young chutes of leatrice rise out of the ground reaching full bloom by mid-July, enticing bumble bees that bumble from one flowery chute to the next, so loaded down with pollen it's a wonder they can make the return trip home. Within a couple more weeks some of our hostas will take their turn at sending up their flowering risers. Before too long I'll begin to notice glimpses of color among the sumac patches along the roadside on my rides. The chill in the air that's sure to follow will be a welcome relief from the hot, humid few weeks that precede it.

And so it goes.

So many mile-markers of summer have been sidelined this year: the Edina Art Fair; the Uptown Art Fair (as well as several other art fairs); the Dakota County Fair, and the State Fair—they've all been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Surprisingly, I'm still getting emails for advanced ticket sales from the organizers of the Renaissance Festival, seemingly oblivious to the pandemic, or very hopeful.

I'm feeling a sense of urgency (as I do every summer around this time) to try and squeeze in as much outdoor activity as possible from my days. It's difficult for me to remain still for very long, especially this time of year—but I had to do exactly that last week. I received a request from a repeat client on my Etsy site, wondering if I could possibly make a suncatcher in a design that's no longer available. I had actually just thrown the pattern out in the previous week's trash, quite sure I wouldn't be needing it again. I took some time to reconstitute the design before cutting and piecing it together and sending it off to its new home in Franklin, Tennessee.

One of my larger panels sold last week. We like to hang them in the windows of our sunporch to deter birds from crashing into the windows. I know I should've been thrilled to receive the notification of the sale but I'm not really. I grow a little attached to them. I detailed some handling instructions for the buyers before heading off to FedEx to have it bubble-wrapped and double-boxed for the trip to its new home in Ohio. It arrived safely 48 hours later. It's always a relief to know they've arrived without issue.

Being down in my basement shop last week was actually kind of nice. I could feel the tug of a dozen other things I would like to have been doing outside but I was also enjoying the slower pace of my stained glass work. I hope to begin working on a replacement panel for the larger one that I mentioned above. I have a design already in mind from a suncatcher I did last winter. I went out last Friday and purchased the glass for it. All that's left is for me to find the time. I know it's around here somewhere... 🤔

The deer in our neighborhood are as plentiful as ever and because of them, our potted flowers don't stand much of a chance. I don't mind, though. I find that a few nibbled flowers are a small price to pay for the blessing of having these beautiful creatures grace our yard. (The blog continues below.)

Charlie isn't at all fond of walking in the heat and humidity of the kind we've been contending with. I try and walk him early in the morning but even then he has little interest. We usually manage 10-14 miles (16-22 km) of walking together each week but lately, we're down around 4-5 miles (6-8 km). I'm hoping to have him out later today after some storms pass through leaving us in cooler air.

I've been contemplating purchasing a drone to use for capturing aerial video while on my rides. There's a "follow me" feature that some drones have that allows the drone to follow a person's cellphone signal, taking video of them in the process. I like the idea of being able to do that but so far, none of the drones I've seen are ready for primetime with respect to the "follow me" feature. They all seem to have difficulty staying locked on to the signal they're supposed to follow. There may be some larger drones that are more capable but I need something smaller that will easily fit in my camelback backpack while leaving room for my sports drink. My wait for the ideal drone will continue.

Until I find the perfect camera I'll have to be content with my simple grounded videos. One change I'm considering, though, is a rear-mounted camera to capture video of the dogs on my gravel rides that give chase but never make my front GoPro's viewfinder. I think that could make for some fun footage!

That's all I've got.