Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy birthday Maru

Perhaps the most famous internet kitty in the world. Maru turned five and her owners made a tribute video of her greatest hits.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

He really wants to marry you

Almost didn't bother to watch this one, but after the tenth time I saw it on the social nets with someone claiming it made them cry, I broke down. Yeah, it brought a little tear to my eye too. Very sweet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

RIP Jim Chubbuck

So I have this habit of googling old friends on weekend afternoons that I've lost touch with and don't do the internets. I should probably stop doing it, because inevitably I only find them because their obit is on line. Then I feel sad and guilty that I didn't stay in better touch. And thus I just discovered by friend Jim Chubbuck died some years ago. He was a good man, spitting image of Lee Marvin and the person responsible for my years of crewing on a hot air balloon.

She looks small compared to the big balloons here, but when I was in the scene she was always the tallest one on the field. And always went in her own direction. Rarely followed the crowd.

Both the original owners, Bob and Dotty Batchelor and now Jim are gone, so my connection to Topper is rather broken. But glad to see the new owner is still flying her and she's made history as the oldest continously flying balloon:
Topper was built in upstate New York by the Heable brothers of Buoyant Flight Systems, and sold to local radio announcer Robert ("Bob") Batcheller and his wife Dorothy ("Dottie"). Topper is not, like some homebuilts, just some clone of a production balloon. On the contrary, many elements of her design are unique. Originally built with a volume of 56,000 cu. ft., the envelope was a double-layer design (the insulating inner envelope was scrapped when its extra weight forced the balloon to fly too hot). Her capacity was increased, too - twice - first to 80,000 cu. ft. and then to 88,000 (by the hands-down king of homebuilding, Brian Boland). The increase brought with it a color change, too, with white stars on blue replacing the original top's blue stars on white). While the hand-woven basket (built by the Batchellers) is fairly standard, the suspended tubular superstructure is unique, and instantly identifiable. Another innovation not common in '75 was her shrouded burner, which emits a sound recognizable to all who know her. The burner was also designed with an adjustable nozzle, whose 5 settings allowed fuel flow to be optimized for different temperatures (this was redesigned when the inner envelope was eliminated). [More at the link]
She already had the blue top by the time I joined the crew, but proud to have been part of that history. And don't tell the FAA but Jimmy let me fly her more than once in the air. And of course Bob let me give tether rides all the time. Nobody liked to do that. It's a lot of work. But I loved every minute. And it all happened because I jumped on the basket when they needed some weight on to stablize her when they were standing her up at a balloon rally some 30+ years ago now. In many ways, still feels like just yesterday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An elephant never forgets

This is one of the most moving stories I've ever read on the internets.

For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives.The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.”

For two days the herds loitered at Anthony’s rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in the South African KwaZulu – to say good-bye to the man they loved. But how did they know he had died? Known for his unique ability to calm traumatized elephants, Anthony had become a legend. He is the author of three books, Babylon Ark, detailing his efforts to rescue the animals at Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi war, the forthcoming The Last Rhinos, and his bestselling The Elephant Whisperer.
Read the whole story here. The guy literally risked his life to save these elephants. And just like the old saying goes, the elephants didn't forget.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ring of fire

Well I was really sad not to be in viewing range of the solar eclipse yesterday. It was a good one. These were the best two photos I saw of it.

[original photo]

[original photo]

This was the best video timelapse that crossed my radar.

Last solar event I witnessed was in 1970. That was a magical one. I was hiking in a birch forest with deep snow drifts. It was spring I guess because there was a crust of corn snow. They looked like jewels in your hand. Guess I'll have to wait for 2017 to try to recreate that moment. My luck, I'll be stuck on the wrong coast again.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Arrghhh Matey

Not sure how I feel about this dressing up the dog thing. The costume doesn't look comfortable but the pup doesn't look unhappy either. And it is a brilliant costume.

[original photo]

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stomping grounds

Not a big fan of rap, but love this video because the images are all of my old stomping grounds in the Happy Valley.

I do actually kind of like the performer's personality. The Hukelau thing was probably hysterical in person.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Parakeet with attitude

Not sure I believe this is real. I have never heard a parakeet speak this clearly or have this large a vocabulary. But it's still a good video and part of a large collection apparently. So credit for industriousness if they're faking these.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Herschlers

Whole lot of birthdays in my world today. Three of the most significant are my "adopted" family of Mark, Matt and Sarah Herschler. And bonus. While I searching for a good email addy for Mark, I discovered a new video I hadn't seen yet. Mark and Johnny Cruz doing a duet. Mark's on the right doing the fancy guitar work.

Ah, the good times we all had together in the Happy Valley. I still miss my Valley friends every single day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gravity, is failing me

I've apparently become one of those people that posts cute pet pictures all the time. But this is just so cute.

Little worried about the quantums but gravity is way overrated.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Been tied up doing family stuff this weekend. Having a laid back day myself. Slept in this morning. I'll be going out for an early Mom's Day dinner since those the only reservations we could get, so no blogging until this evening.

Hope you're all having a great day if you have a reason to celebrate. And if it's a painful day for you, hope you find comfort and peace of mind. [original photo]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kindness of strangers

Sometimes you're the recipient. Sometimes you're the bestower.

So upon my return to the Little City, I'm in line at the grocery store and the tiny little old lady behind me engages me in a long conversation about the box of Cool Whip she was buying. I saw her counting out the exact amount of the purchase in her hand. On a whim, when I got to the cashier, I asked if I could buy it for her. Of course she protested but I told her my religion required me to do something nice for a stranger and I was way behind on my tithe. She hugged me before she left.

Thought at first the cashier was pissed that I paid for a black woman. But guess she was just stunned. She said to me, "You're a rare breed."

I said, "Just paying it forward."

[Original graphic]

Monday, May 07, 2012

Off the grid

I'm alive. Just haven't had an internet connection for a few days. But have nothing to post at the moment. I will be back. Probably not tonight though. Love you all. Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Old posters never die

Love this. Reminds me of going to the NY World's Fair in the 60s. Still have some very vivid memories of that visit, among them my very first ride on a subway. Fortunately it was mostly aboveground.

Don't make them like this anymore. And of course, being pre-digital, it must have been very complicated to print them. [Original here]

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Oh that smell

Of all the things I miss about New England, it's quite possible that what I miss the very most is the intoxicating smell of lilacs. They don't seem to grow in the south.

Love this photo. I can almost smell them now. Also remember when I was a kid, we used to tear little faces into the heart shaped leaves. They were perfect for it. [Original photo]