Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zoomify

Zoomify is a neat set of code snippets that make it easy to rotate something and show a 360° user-controlled view, or a view that can be zoomed in and out. Other options are available as well. Interesting stuff if you need to show a variety of different product views that show details and capture viewer interest.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yarpha

Another tough letter for relevancy to Quietwater Films. I have to go back to the strange words source, but again I find some relevancy. Yarpha is a peatbog with sandy or fibrous peat. Just like all those I walked around the edges of in Minnesota as a kid growing outside of Duluth. Most of these peat bogs were little swamps, likely in a kettle carved out by a glacier. So you could walk around them, or at least the one in the front of our property. Yarphas are always cool and dark. You can feel the cold humidity even on the hottest summer day. The hardest thing about yarphas is walking in them. The spruce trees are densely packed. The branches are very stiff. Tough walking, especially when you can only see about six feet in front of you.

So there it is. Yarphas, a word sure to delight lovers of swamps. Enter at your own risk.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for xylopyrography

I thought X would be a tough letter for relevancy to Quietwater Films. I had to step out of bounds and use a source of unusual words. So I did. Xylopyrography is the art of engraving designs on wood with a poker. Basically this is wood burning, which I have done. It might even be relevant. My very first canoe paddle back when I was a mere lad is a one piece basswood number I made myself. I wood burned a set of wolf tracks up the middle of that paddle.

Now I know what to call it, when in polite company.

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Lake Waubesa

Lake Waubesa is one of the four lakes found around Madison. Kegonsa is the lake closest to me. It connects to Mud Lake and then Waubesa through a short segment of the Yahara River that is one of my favorite places to paddle.

Lake Farm County Park, A Dane County park, is on Lake Waubesa. I think it is one of the best kept secrets in Dane County.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

V is for Vast

My childhood years were spent in Duluth, MN. For those of you that flyover the Midwest, Duluth is at the tip of Lake Superior. Trivially speaking, Duluth (and Minnesota) lay claim to the world's largest sandbar, aka Park Point. Thanks to the ongoing grinding of the hinterlands, occurring even now as I write, performed by the relatively unknown St. Louis River. Park Point is one expression of the river delta and estuary that the St. Louis has created as it empties into Lake Superior.

Back in the day when I was a mere lad, some would say prior to global warming, Lake Superior was too cold for swimming, unless you were a lake trout, or possibly a lamprey. Nonetheless my mother would take the three of us bored kids down the hill from our sunny house on the inland plateau and treat us to a day on the beach at Park Point. This beach was (and still is) huge and beautiful. Sometimes it was even warm, to the point where the hot sand would hurt your feet. So we would run to the water to cool our burning feet, which of course would immediately freeze our feet. So back we would go, to the hot sand which still hurt. Eventually we found a good middle ground standing on the wet sand at the strandline. At some point in our childhood we learned to wear shoes. Things were primitive back then, going barefoot still happened on occasion.

As a child in the 70s, a college student in the 80s, and a father in the 00s, standing on that Park Point beach and looking out over the lake taught me the meaning of "vast". That beach was the only place I've ever been, where I could watch a ship sink out of sight due to the curve of the earth and still have one foot on land and the other foot in fresh water. We're small, the planet is big. Lake Superior is simply vast.

U is for urban water

Here in my piece of flyover country, I am blessed with abundant water. As global change brings us closer to a water-based Armageddon, I'm thinking that I might have a shot at survival given all the water around me within just a few miles. I wonder if enough people are looking at the issue of water becoming a scarce resource for more people, especially those, like me, for whom water was once found in abundance. I think, in my remaining few years (hopefully more than that), that we are going to see water come to the forefront of critical issues for humanity. I really continue to wonder why we don't hear more about desalinization, even simply using solar energy to drive evaporation on a large scale to produce salt free water. For a great bulk of the planet, water remains such a plentiful commodity that it has not yet risen to the level of questioning its supply for our ongoing survival. That's changing day by day, but the change is so small and so local that we don't see it. Not yet and hopefully not ever.

That brings me to today's phrase, "urban water". Like this:

Aside from the many alarmist facets of this issue, urban water still can provide respite from the daily grind. Many of us dream about the week every year in which we "escape" to the Boundary Waters or some other watery spot in which we can paddle about and leave our worries behind. While that week in the BWCA remains high on the list of annual goals, I find the daily (or at least weekly) pleasure of getting out on urban water to be very much worthwhile. This can be a lifestyle thing, whereas the annual vacation is an exceptional thing. An hour of simply aimless wandering around on water in a boat, paddle in hand is a good thing. Even with skyscrapers in close proximity.

Sometimes, even as it comes ever closer to your daylight basement and the sliding glass door, water still provides the simple pleasure, or novelty, of paddling in your backyard.

Friday, April 24, 2015

T is for Tandem canoe

The workhorse of the canoe world. It requires team work for a pleasant and efficient trip. Putting two beginner paddlers into a tandem canoe can be a true test of friendship or marriage. What I admire about this style of boat is in relation to a rowing style of boat. As far as I know the facing forward canoe is a Native American invention. Europeans had only the facing backwards row boats. Big mighty civilized Europe could not or would not be bothered to develop a facing forward type of small boat? Meanwhile for who knows how long, the natives of North America were using it routinely?