Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Family Favorite

I heard on the news today while commuting back to Annapolis, Jan Berenstain had died. The books she and her husband wrote about a family of bears were favorites in our home - all four kids grew up with them. We still have a stack of them in our den - some of them have traveled many miles - from room to room, as well distance between moves between California and Oregon, and Oregon to Maryland. Being from Pennsylvania, there was a good article about her in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. I have a fondness for children's books, live seems to get summed up pretty well in them - these are among the best that do that. Others thought so as well, Stan and Jan Berenstain sold more than 250-million books.

Jan Berenstain, July 26, 1923 – February 24, 2012
My Jan has a degree in Early Childhood Education. I remember her once taking a class in Children's Literature from a professor at Fresno State who made a career on the topic. A quick search on the Web showed that there is an entire department in the university's library dedicated to the subject. The professor had a passion for children's books. Of the more than 50,000 titles of books and related media in the library, 22,000 came from his personal collection. That is something I could have gotten into as well.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fifty Years Ago, Today

John Glenn in space, Feb. 20, 1962
It is worth noting, fifty years ago today: John Glenn orbited the earth three times. A nice photo gallery was presented in the Washington Post, access by clicking here. I remember having a comic book that recounted Alan Shepherd's flight into space. That comic book was where I learned that the United States had a NASA - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Shepherd and Glenn - they were among those who had the right stuff. It would again be worth while watching the movie by the same name. I'll always remember the quote by the character Chuck Yeager about astronauts strapped to the top of a rocket: "Monkeys? You think a monkey knows he's sittin' on top of a rocket that might explode? These astronaut boys they know that, see? Well, I'll tell you something, it takes a special kind of man to volunteer for a suicide mission, especially one that's on TV."
A re-enactment of Glenn's flight can be seen by clicking here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sailing By - Three Perspectives

John Glenn and capsule simulator
Manned flight has continues to come a long ways since Kitty Hawk. Not all that long after the first airplane flight, Naval Aviation was born - celebrating its first 100 years this year. Fifty years after that - fifty years ago this week on February 20th, John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. This morning there was a nice essay on the NPR Weekend Edition program. I remember when I first saw the Friendship 7 capsule at the Smithsonian, how the skin of the craft looked just like the corrugated metal roofing on my parents' barn - I was shocked by how vulnerable the vehicle that held Glenn and carried him into space seemed to be, but then he was used to being suspended in air with a piece of glass between him and the sky above.

High altitude flight
Our Navy pilot in training sent us a link showing the perspective of a back seat Naval Flight Officer in an F/A 18 Hornet - based out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. I was struck by how crew is perched under a clear canopy with space virtually surrounding them. I remember seeing what must have been an Air Force fighter jet twenty-five years ago at the Fresno County Fair - the cockpit seemed to be a small capsule mounted on a jet engine.

A Wing Suit Suite
While watching the video above, I saw another link in the right-side selection column for other videos. It gives another perspective of a manned-projectile traveling through the air - sans the jet engine, wings, and a canopy. Just a man in a helmet, the sky above, and the ground below. Interesting how the same sound track (1) was used by both film makers. I know the naval aviator would never be allowed to fly like the fellow in this video - nor would this base jumping aeronaut likely want to join the Navy. But all of them have a bent of defiance to gravity that would keep them attached to the earth - the green land below. (2) (3) (4)
(1) A solo project of Aaron Bruno, AWOLNATION began as a creative outlet for the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Bruno, who had been a member of Home Town Hero and Under the Influence of Giants, needed a break from the collaborative process and hoped to find a place for some of his songs that didn't fit with his other bands. With AWOLNATION, Bruno built a kind of creative free-for-all for himself, allowing him to blend genres as he wanted in a style reminiscent of Beck, blending live instrumentation, electronic elements, and slick production into an electro-pop hybrid that draws from the whole of pop music. In 2011, AWOLNATION made its full-length debut, releasing Megalithic Symphony on Red Bull Records. ~ Gregory Heaney, Rovi

A live version of Sail by AWOLNATION.

(2) I personally like the peace and quiet that can be experienced on mountains, attached to the earth below, as the wind, and sky, and stars pass overhead, above the fixed landscapes. 

(3) I check on-line today (the next day, February 19) for any recent news about Jeb Corliss, and found out he crashed in South Africa on January 17, and broke his leg. He has been in good spirits - follow his Facebook post here.

(4) Regardless of the platform carrying the camera, the camera can do wonders - GoPro products, not all that expensive, with nice results. A GoPro was used for both the F/A 18 and Wing Suit videos. I am sure if GoPro were around in 1962, their technology would have been with the first astronaut to circle the earth.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ellie Bogardus - The Commercial Side

When I received the recent image of another Ellie Bogardus painting that Todd had sent, I wrote to my sister-in-law how the cat resembled one of the paintings my brother and she have.

"See what you think - whether there is similarity between your 1980, and the one on the blog."

She checked, and sure enough, it was from the nineteen-eighties as well.

"This one is really similar to the print on the sweatshirt your mom had. Looks very much 1980's Ellie."

Child's sweatshirt, 1987 - "I Feel So Cuddlie"
"Does Mom still have the sweatshirt? If so, I will need a photograph of it - the commercialization of Ellie."

Dana: "I think she may be wearing it in a photo."

Me: "Do you have a copy? I will check back in my electronic photo album. I[f] you have copy, would you scan it and send it to me?"

About the same time I sent my question, she wrote back: "I just put a picture on your wall. You made me dig through the baby stuff[.]"

She checked her photographs and found a picture with my niece wearing an Ellie sweatshirt. Above is a picture of the sweatshirt dug up from the past - definitely a 1980's style drawing of a cat.

Earlier today I was thinking that I will need to begin creating a social network diagram for the connections between people who are contributing to compilation of Ellie Bogardus artwork being brought together. As for the commercial nature of the cat-on-a-sweatshirt piece, even the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps records on employment by artists in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition - check it out at the link here.

Pop Art is just that, popular art. Back when Ellie was painting, there was no way with our young family we could have afforded her art. The same for my brother and sister-in-law: "...the Ellie I could afford in "87. Didn't think I threw art away. I bet your mom still has hers. I'll look for her picture."

You Just Never Know Who Else Birds

Grazing on sagebrush
I was in Spokane, Washington two weeks ago for an evening meeting with scientists from our Agency who were attending the Society for Range Management annual conference. While at dinner with my administrator, one of the area directors, and another program leader, the topic of bird hunting came up. As it turned out, my agency's boss knows quite a bit about birds in general, beyond the rules-of-the-road for identifying species and sexes in flight that are required for a duck hunter to successfully hunt. I think the discussion began around talk of raptors - hawks in particular.

I asked whether he knew where the annual hawk count is conducted in the East?

"Yes, Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania."

I had remembered reading about Hawk Mountain in the Roger Tory Peterson biography I have just about finished - but not the specific place or the state where it is found. Migratory hawks make their way past it en route back to northern summer habitat.

Peregrine Falcon book
He also mentioned a fellow named Al Nye who was known for raising hawks - this was back when my Administrator was a young fellow. Back at my hotel room later that night, I did a little Web-searching and found a citation about Nye on page 135 in Peregrine Falcon – Stories of the Blue Meanie by Jim Enderson, published in 2005 by University of Texas Press. (click here

Getting it right. Among the earliest North American falconers to systematically use duck hawks to catch wild gave was Al Nye. His unorthodox technique in the late 1930s was to put the falcon in the sky, then to run through the fields, hoping for some unseen bird to flush to its doom. Nye was a runner, both in the fields and on the football gridiron at Penn.

Other falconers with peregrines began to get it right. After the war, Morley Nelson settled in Boise. His skill on skis with the Tenth Mountain Division in Italy landed him a job measuring alpine snow depth for the Soil Conservation Service. Nelson obtained a female duck hawk named Blackie that made a strong impression on ducks on the numerous ponds around Boise. Nowhere else on the continent did ducks hear, day after day, the harmonic sound of the lightweight bells placed on falcons to help the falconer keep track of his hunter.

During our dinner discussion, specific information Ed remembered about Nye: "Al Nye, who lived in Arlington and McLean, Virginia, was quite an innovator.  I accompanied him on several rabbit hunts with his falcons. Actually, they were broad-winged hawks, a Goshawk and a Harris Hawk, not true falcons.  Quite exciting.  Al was an All-American football player at the University of Pennsylvania in his early days.  He worked at the Pentagon as a civilian CFO-type person before his retirement and passing."

Western Sage Grouse
It is interesting how birding not only intersects with hunting, but with range management as well. In a meeting a week later in Portland, I met with a few folks from eastern Oregon to discuss possible ways to restore range habitat quality for Western Sage Grouse and grasses for grazing, by removing invasive western juniper trees and using the biomass to make jet fuel. Whether cattle or bison, grasslands and grazing are tied together, and some folks have looked at how grazers on the range shift different kinds of bird populations (here). The juniper has an avian twist in the story, as the tree encroaches on the sagebrush-dominated rangeland, it provide elevated perch for raptors - the grouse exit as they are more in peril from their predators. All of this makes for imagining how the way things are today, could be changed in the future to look more the way they were in the past. (2)

Falcon breeding hat
As a another side note, I know a fellow from my laboratory back in Oregon who raised falcons as a side business. He occasionally told stories of middle east princes coming to the United States to purchase his product - fascinating. But what was funny was hearing the story about a party he and his wife had once attended where all of the guests were to wear some kind of hat. Doug wore a "hat" used to breed falcons - true, you can read about it here.
(1) Review shown in Google Books: A superb success as a bird, combining great speed, aeronautical grace, and fearlessness...inhabitant of wild places, inaccessible cliffs, and skyscrapers...worldwide dweller, trans-equatorial migrant, and docile captive—the peregrine falcon stands alone among all others of its kind. Perhaps this is why so many varied people rushed to its aid when it faced decimation by pesticide poisoning. In this personal and highly entertaining memoir, Jim Enderson tells stories of a lifetime spent studying, training, breeding, and simply enjoying peregrine falcons. He recalls how his boyhood interest in raptors grew into an ornithological career in which he became one of the leading experts who helped identity DDT as the cause of the peregrine falcon's sudden and massive decline across the United States. His stories reveal both the dedication that he and fellow researchers brought to the task of studying and restoring the peregrine and the hair-raising adventures that sometimes befell them along the way. Enderson also seamlessly weaves in the biology and natural history of the peregrine, as well as anecdotes about its traditional and widespread use in falconry as an aggressive yet tractable hunter, to offer a broad portrait of this splendid and intriguing falcon.

(2) Purposeful management of the range vegetation for multiple purposes could help restore the habitat for the grouse. Click here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sweet Tooth In The Morning

At the display case
When we spend a night at our oldest son's home on a Friday night, it means a Saturday morning trek to the Donut Cafe to pick out a box for breakfast. Forget the carbohydrates dripping with additional sugar frosting - it is Cream-filled Bismark and Apple Fritter time - my regulars (1). Dan and I go with everyone's orders: Cake Doughnut with Pink Frosting and Sprinkles, Maple Bars, Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting - the choices abound, many delicacies. Josiah and Micah know the routine - there are no worries that any will be forgotten. It is a matter of grandparent total indulgence. My son has some syndicated sport talk radio program running - it is a real guys' show - what was the sport drama satire piece that had something to do with a guy named Roethisberger?
(1) It was a pleasure to find this encouraging article about my favorite pastries.

Back In The Saddle, Again

U.S. Navy T-45 Goshawk
My wife and I lurk on line keeping track of our son's training schedule. We heard that he had finished a simulator training series, and the schedule for next Monday shows he will be flying again in a T-45 Goshawk - I think in the front seat. Since he is in Texas, and there are still real cattle and cowboys there (my wife also gave him my boots when he moved), I thought about an old Gene Autry song and how it is appropriate for this next stage of training. Country
Gene Autry
music, cowboy boots, and flying and riding the range go together. One of these day he may be propelled by renewable JP-5 or JP-8, probably not in his trainer (just recently tested in a T-45), but a good chance in whatever platform he ends up being assigned. We got unofficial word that a proposal will be funded that looks at oil seeds grown on the range for use in making jet fuel. Those two may go together as well in the future. I've written about these before (here, here, and here), its a small contribution to the Navy's efforts on my part.

My family heritage is tied to riding horses, cattle, and boots - but in California, not Texas. For Christmas, my daughter, recently retired from her job to become a full-time-at-home-mom, is into home industry, crafts, and other notions. A gift  tee-shirt she stenciled for
The Last Roundup
her husband had a simple message: Eat Animals - They Taste Good. Between the two text lines, were characterizations of a cow, chicken, and hog. I smiled. Being raised on a ranch, we ate meat from the freezer, rode horses, punched doggies. I didn't particularly like working the livestock - it seemed that fences were breached and calves needed to be pulled on holidays, weekends, and always during times in the worst weather. These were the reasons I went into plant science rather than animal husbandry - along with the fact that plants don't kick, bite, poop, urinate, or make you smell bad after being around them - particularly hogs. But even with those life decisions, I think a well-prepared animal tastes good, too. So when my folks made the decision to sell off their cattle herd in preparation for retirement, I was glad to have my three sons help with the last roundup. They had causally ridden once-in-a-while on the ranch, but they were raised as city kids. My dad was a bit emotional seeing the young fellows on horses, helping bring the cattle down out of the hills for the last time. As for the youngest cowboy that day, he may have boots, but now rides in a saddle that slips through the air, on a horse that kisses the sky.

College Towns Mirror One Another

Mickey's Gyros Restaurant
I was in three college towns in the past two weeks - Moscow, Idaho, Pullman, Washington, and Corvallis, Oregon - four if you count my home in Annapolis. A commonality of the first three is that there are funky kinds of specialty restaurants in each that are different, but the same. When I had lunch in Moscow early the week before last, my hosts recommended we ate at Mikey's Gyros. The place is a through-back cafe to the 60's and 70's that time hasn't touched - or human hands to bring into the 21st Century. It is an out-of-the-way place that I have no idea how to get to, but requires entry through a
Mickey's Avacado Gyro
door on a secondary street near a parking lot that once you enter, you are required to walk through a hall that passes by a tie dye clothing and bead boutique. All of this is in the middle of the Palouse country where lots of soft white wheat is grown, and home to near-mythical giant earth worms and cowboys and lumber jacks. Inside, the walls were hand-painted with various interpretive murals - not a place with a strong west coast art influence, but retro in many ways. I ate an avacado gyro along with the soup of the day - sweet corn chowder - both were good (shown in the picture at the right). A place that is worth a second visit.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Titled Drawing - Another Ellie Bogardus

I received another Ellie Bogardus original "in the mail." Thanks to Todd for contacting me and furnishing another example of Ellie Bogardus' art. I wonder if his grandparents or other family member's paths crossed sometime with me or my family during the last 30 years.

Protective and Curiosity, 1980
Todd had come across my blog and wrote that Ellie had given his grandparents this painting - Protective and Curiosity. The bottom left of the painting has a personal inscription the grandparents, "To Bill & Teen From Ellie." Todd's father wrote him that his parents had been to Ellie's house several times with his great uncle Ward "Toot" Fulcher (1), who was a personal friend of Bogardus.  Each year when Bill and Teen vacationed, they would drop by with Toot for a visit with Ellie. This 1980 piece reminds me of the ones that my brother and sister-in-law have framed and hanging on the wall inside their front door entryway.
(1) I received more information today (3-10-2014) from Toot's daughter Jennifer about her parents and family connections that vacationed regularly in Cambria. It is great to expand the biographic background about Ellie Bogardus. I am expecting more photographs of Ellie originals from Jennifer, soon.

I was showing my mom your blog (and explains blogs) and came across this post. ...[M]y dad was the "Toot" mentioned in your blog. He came from a family of eight and his grandma called the youngest "Toot" till the next child was born. She passed away before the last child was born, so dad was stuck being "Toot" to his siblings and "Uncle "Toot" to his nieces and nephews. [M]om was the huge Bogardus fan, and bought all but the large painting, which was an extremely surprising xmas gift to mom. As teachers, it was stretched their budget. ... [M]om and [D]ad rented the Rosenleib's house across from Ellie's whenever they could, and Bill and Teen (dad's sister) stayed a weekend a year or so with them. All the relatives loved to stay in Cambria, and the Rosenliebs made their house available and affordable to mom and dad.