2008 Recap

Yes, that’s right. Let’s begin the year with a recap of not last year, but of 2008, the year 10 years ago.

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This year brought photographically two significant changes into my life: My move to full frame digital (and the ability to use a handful of SLR lenses I still had from film days), and the adjustment to the Indiana landscape.

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It is not that the Indiana landscape is featureless. It is more a assembly of countless insignificant features that tire the eyes, with occasional exceptions.

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Some are less obvious then others, but the only chance finding them is to look.

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Sometimes I am being asked why I bother carrying a heavy camera when there is nothing worth to photograph.

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Visiting some of the state parks has helped to open the eyes, like McCormicks Creek, Turkey Run, Shades, or Falls of the Ohio. This had been a good year.

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Grayness

Finally, the Grayness has arrived.

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Some places have a fifth season. California, for instance, has a few weeks of High Summer where the air seems fresher and the sky more lucid than usual. Indiana, on the other side, has Gray Winter.

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There are ways of resistance. One is through structure,

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another through subversive use of color.

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In Michael Ende’s masterpiece Momo, the men in gray talk people into depositing their free time (usually spent with relaxation or talking to other people) into retirements accounts, which is of course fraud, because the men in gray feed on other people’s time. Fortunately, there is Momo.

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Early morning frost and earlier flooding accentuate these little attempts of resistance that nature puts up.DSC 0245

Let’s not become the gray planet.

Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Downey Hill

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The long title of this post names one of the many places I have missed so far that are in 1 hour driving distance from Bloomington. If you are after spectacular rock formations or water falls, this isn’t the place. But it features a 4.5 mile loop through Southern Indiana landscape at its best. Sinkholes …

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… miniature canyons …

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… creeks …

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… and the trees, of course. All this makes up the landscape in the large, accented by the play of light or the lack of it. Then there are the small things: Leaves clinging on,

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moss providing unexpected greenery,

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hopeful trees sprouting,

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and older trees offering vistas in the past.

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This was a most enjoyable hike.

North Dome (25 Years Ago)

I have written about Yosemite in winter before, using a mixture of pictures from various trips. The first picture on that page is actually the last one I took on a snow showing overnighter to North Dome. In the summer, this is an overcrowded day hike up from along Yosemite Falls with nice views of Half Dome.Berkeley148b

We not only had plenty of snow but also a thunderstorm over night. You won’t get these clouds in the summer.

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As soon as you are out of the valley, the hike is a pleasant up and down, even with snow shoes.

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I think the little hump down below is North Dome. The tracks are ours – there was nobody else.

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I am ready for winter, obviously.

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Two Weeks

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Two weeks can be a long time.

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After a few cold days and an ice storm, the colorful leaves are gone now and the mood changes towards winter.

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What do we prefer: A temporary feast of color, or a clear view into a bleak future?

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The choice is not easy,

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mainly because it will stay like this now for at least four months.

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The Vortex

Here are some pictures from a recent visit to Shades State Park.

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It was amusing to see little oblivious flowers on a dead, moss covered tree trunk. What is the  spider hoping for?

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More typical are the vortex-like canyons that seem to suck you into whatever future there is.

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Helpful stairways only lead downwards.

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Water is still flowing the wrong way.

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The trees remind that we can sometimes point sideways instead of  up.

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Decay

My physics high school teacher’s favorite example for exponential decay was not the textbook one, but rather the decay of foam bubbles in a glass of beer.

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These were good times. Chernobyl was still many years away, and one could happily replace cold war fears of a global nuclear disaster by that of an indecent amount of foam in a beer.

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Not so anymore. Dangerous alcohol has been replaced by even more dangerous drugs, and the surprisingly capable and reasonable politicians by maniacs. Why? How?

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This year I am teaching probability, and have replaced some of the rather morbid text book exercises by ones containing bubble baths, to protect my students from being traumatized by reality. What is the half-life of moral standards?

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The large amount of foam on our pristine creeks are called surfactants, and can have natural or human causes.

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Making that distinction is quite telling.