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?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

S is for Simple

Probably the thing I like most about paddling is the simplicity. Effort equals movement. Relaxed effort equals a leisurely pace with time to see what around you. Strong effort delivers the workout and the focus on smaller world and optimal sustained effort. I like the concentration on perfect strokes and keeping a high rate in a straight line. Although it' not as simple, sometimes on my paddleboard I'll bring both canoe and SUP paddles. Short for sitting and tall for standing. Different everything between the paddles. I like this variety. What I like more than anything though is getting out on the water.

R is for Rivers

Where would lakes be without rivers? Empty for starters. Life here in the Midwest offers lots of both. Close to the house as well. The Yahara is my first paddling choice. Always upstream to start. To the island in Mud Lake, past the old pioneer bridge and the native fish weir then back downstream. Usually I have the place to myself both ways. Great water. Great paddling. When that's not enough lake Kegonsa looms large. I like sunrise paddling on that surface. Usually smooth, calm, and quiet. Unfortunately water skiers like the same conditions. It's still worth the wake up though.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quiet

Quietwater Films has always been narrowly scoped into producing instructional DVDs. The meander that led to the name though is a distinct nod to the weirdness of media in outdoor recreation. Back in the day when Quietwater was getting organized, the paddling industry was commonly seen in the media as this collection of pink-haired mohawk-wearing kayakers doing something outlandish on some creek with some really bad really loud music underlying the whole show. It was as if the entire industry consisted of a bunch of nose ring wearing gomers frantically jamming themselves down some Cat. V river drop. I have to give them credit, at least someone was doing something to try and promote kayaking.

But I think there was a fundamental disconnect. The bulk of the paddling world was aging rapidly and spending time on lakes not whitewater rivers. The largest volume of new boats sold was in the recreational kayak category, not creek boats, not whitewater boats. It wasn't too long before fishing kayaks were one of the top sellers as well. But yet in the media, all you saw were stunts involving cliffs and pink hair. The industry just couldn't seem to pull its head out of its collective nether region and recognize where the money was and where their customers were. The gomers hucking themselves off cliffs were rotten customers. No money. No job, borrowed boats with an occasional sponsor boat. Very narrow appeal mainly to other broke couch surfing pink haired youngsters.

Not sure where the manufacturers were going with this line of thought other than out of business.

Anyway, Quietwater saw this somewhat pathetic environment. I did not want to play in it. Thankfully my partner at the time did not want to either. So we went off the opposite end of the spectrum. Quietwater is a name that represents our awareness of the REST of the paddling world. The quiet normal weekenders who get out in lakes with kids. The couple that get out for a paddle in their rec kayaks. Nothing Cat. V, no hair dye, no bad music.

As an aside, Mike Hooks, who I believe is still the Sales VP at Native Watercraft created several original pieces of what we called "swamp rock" as the score for two DVDs we did with Native Watercraft. Mike is a great guy and an outstanding musician. It used to be funny how many artistically gifted people ended up in sales. It's not funny anymore, the correlation has been consistently strong between artistically creative and sales for a long time now.

Quietwater is still around, still carrying the flag for normal people in normal boats having normal fun. Hair coloring is OK, bad music no. It's not all about ear throbbing adrenaline rushes. It's about time on quiet water too.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for paddling

Paddling has been the heart of Quietwater Films. It still is. Facing forward so you can see where you are going. Not where you have been. That's rowing. It also makes my neck hurt. Very european as well.

As with most things, paddling can be easy to learn, but harder to master. Most people get 80% of the sport in the first day. That final 20%, like so many other things is more subtle and, if you do not do it frequently, may be something you truly never master. that's OK though, even with 80%, you'll still have a great time on the water and that is what it's all about. Simple pleasure derived from a simple movement. Clarity. Peace of mind. All good.

O is for Olive Dun

The mayfly and its life cycle provides a good bit of flyfishing's raison d'etre as well as a good bit of its vocabulary.

Egg, nymph, subimago, and imago are the four stages that a mayfly goes through. "Dun" is another word for subimago. This mayfly, at the dun stage of its life, can fly, which it does from the water surface to a sheltered spot along the stream where its wings can dry and harden a bit. The wings sometimes have an olive tint to them at this stage. It is now an adult, but thought to be sexually immature. At some point shortly after surviving this flight from water to shelter, it sheds its skin one last time. This mayfly is now fully mature and is known as a spinner.

And there you have it, the sex life of bugs and the fish that eat them. It's a tough life.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for National Geographic

That girl with the eyes. I'll bet that is still what a bunch of people think when they see a National Geographic magazine. I do. Apparently the magazine itself still does as well, given that picture's presence all these years later in its current marketing media.

Just as cool as that image itself, taken in 1985 by the way, is the fact that the photographer spent a ton of his life afterwards looking for that girl. He found her years later, looking more like a world weary, war weary refugee, but her eyes were still there.

My favorite magazine. Compelling imagery being the leading reason.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Minnesota

I live in Wisconsin, which is right next door to Minnesota. I grew up in Duluth, MN., up at the edge of Lake Superior, so I feel like I know the state halfway well. Like Wisconsin, Minnesota is in flyover country. I wonder if Minnesota is experiencing the same malaise that Wisconsin seems to be mucking through. With the two states side by side it's easy to compare them against each other. Which is recovering from recession? Which is offering better living conditions? The Wisconsin governor has the taint of closely attached big money outsiders. Does the MN governor have that as well? Maybe but that's not the feel I get from MN. Could be media coverage and consumption differences I guess. Could be that the Wisconsin governor is conservative and somehow just seems unable to add anything to inform change, whereas my perception of the Minnesota governor is that he is being more liberal and somehow vaguely seeming smarter and capable of change by adding something rather than change merely by removal which is the impression I have of the WI governor.

Which state has the healthier more vibrant big city? I would have to give that to Minnesota just by feel more or less. Personally, every time I have gone to Milwaukee, the WI big city, for work I have been impressed, but I've always gone to the suburbs and not the inner city. The inner city I think is where the differences are going to show up. Milwaukee seems to be more tragic and broken. Minneapolis/St. Paul not so much. Again maybe just media coverage.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Louisiana

I was in Louisiana for a project in early 2009. January. Hurricane Katrina had roared through there in 2005 if memory serves. Four years +/-. Scenes like this boat tossed up on the road shoulder were still common place even with four years of time to clean up and recover. Even around New Orleans and Slidell, if you went more than a quarter mile off the freeway cloverleaf, you were right back in the devastation. It was sad. Amazing. Staggering. Easy to feel like you were in a third world country. Four years after the event. I wonder what it was like in the rural areas far from the public eye that the main freeway thoroughfares offered? It's ten years after the fact as I write this. I hope recovery has finally completed. It's not a third world country. I hope things are back to where they need to be......

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for kayaking

Lots of ways to have fun in the water. Statistically speaking, recreational kayaking might be the most common way to get out in the water and enjoy some outside time. Short learning curve, minimal technique, especially if you are out on freshwater that's warm. Open ocean sea kayaking is a bit more involved, but still pretty close. Simple paddling, close to the water and fresh air. It's all good.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Jimbo Meador

I like Jimbo. He is a quality individual. I've been lucky enough to work with him a couple different times. While he has gone on to other things, I still look back at the projects we did and the time we spent together with the fondest of memories.

Here is my favorite picture of the many I took in working with Jimbo We were out driving and happened to come across this little snapping turtle, if memory serves me correctly. It was a turtle rescue opportunity and we, my daughters, Jimbo and I, took it.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for Ipanema Beach

I is the first letter I have struggled with in this challenge. Until this point, each letter has led to a word with meaning to Quietwater Films. But I came up dry with "I". Somehow Ipanema Beach came to mind. The wonders of randomness.

So I went to my new buddy Wikipedia and found a surprise that at least makes (maybe) "I" more interesting. Ipanema Beach is this big fancy world famous beach in Rio do Janeiro, Brazil. I thought the name was Portugese and would have some important meaning.

Turns out that Ipanema is a native (Tupi) word that means "Stinky lake". I think it refers to the lake behind the beach.There you have it, the surprise for the day (to me anyway). Thinking that a beach that big and famous and exotic must have some important origin, only to find the opposite. Stinky Lake.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

H is for Hayward

Most people have never heard of Hayward, much less it being the Muskie Capital of the World. Yep true, even though the picture above shows a smallmouth statue and not a muskie. The second shot, by the way, is Jimbo Meador and a famous Hayward guide Wendy Williamson, at the start of a float down the East Fork of the Chippewa River,a gorgeous little wet spot on the planet. She took us out for a few days and showed us the good places to catch both muskies AND smallmouth. We caught both I am happy to say. Hayward Fly Fishing Company sure treated us right. Good people. Good fly fishing instructors as well. Hayward, like most great places, is hard to get to. It is deep in flyover country, closer to Duluth than any other airport. Remote, beautiful, hard to get to. Don't tell anyone about it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G is for Garbage Patch or maybe gyre

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Two "G"s and two "P"s. Nice symmetry there. The garbage patch presents nothing nice at all, but neither is it what many people expect. Most of it is not visible to the eye nor to satellite photography. Humanity is still the cause of it though.

Pelagic plastic is the official term. In an epic example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, I highly doubt (e.g.) Crest (just one brand name and by no means the only brand name; they are all included implicitly) ever even considered if the polishing particles they add to their toothpaste would ever be linked to the demise of the oceans and possibly, humanity. It turns out that I picked a relevant brand. Please click over and read the above Crest link. To their credit, Crest is phasing out plastic microbeads (aka polishing particles).

Also equally interesting that water treatment, filtration systems, sewage treatment methods and equipment, etc., were all largely designed prior to the advent of yet more evolution in our culture that would unleash a torrent of waste products that all our systems were not designed to handle. To be clear, the polishing particles in toothpaste, are spit down the drain. That goes to a water treatment plant where municipal sewage is cleaned up, including by filtration. The end product, newly clean water, is then discharged. Somewhere. If the plant is on the coast, there's a pipe that takes this out a couple miles in the ocean and "dumps it", although it is fairly clean to the eye. Except for all those polishing particles that are so small they slip right on through and go out as part of the clean water.

Finally inquiring minds may want to know the meaning of gyre. In a bit of further symmetry, the North Pacific gyre is basically the physical entity responsible for hoovering up all this garbage and aggregating it in one part of the Pacific.

Humanity. Who would have ever thought that a good thing like personal hygiene, could lead to a garbage patch of unknown size in the Pacific Ocean. That truth sure does seem to be stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump came to mind for "F" because I have had the pleasure of working with Jimbo Meador on several occasions. Winston Groome, the author of the book on which the movie is based, and Jimbo were childhood friends and still are I believe. Jimbo's voice and accent were studied by Tom Hanks as he prepared for the movie.

What makes Forrest Gump worth reading about? Well according to this blog there are several objects in the movie that one could interpret as symbols. The feather, running, the box of chocolates, and ping pong may all be more than they seem on the surface.

I find it interesting that the above blog has no ownership info that I can find. Is it Winston Groome's own site supporting the book/movie? or an adoring fan with time on their hands?

Philosophy Now, in this article also gives Forrest Gump a pretty good working over focusing on different symbols and a different mindset. Also interesting in a completely different way.

Funny how a simple thing sometimes is standing in for something complex. This leaves me wondering about other books and their underlying inferred or alleged symbology?

Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for Eggs in a Hole

Sometimes things just taste better. Just 'cause. Other times the taste reflects the company you are eating with, other times the pan that was used, and other times it's just plain good food. This particular time it was all of the above. I was staying with Jimbo Meador prior to the start of our project. They were kind enough to feed me breakfast. They wondered if "eggs in a hole" would be OK. "Never heard of it," I said. The rest is history. Sitting with Jimbo and Lyn eating breakfast in their cool old house on the beach was a treat. Watching the egg go from runny to firm to perfect in the hole in the bread in this wonderful looking cast iron pan was ...southern I guess. I still remember that breakfast. I don' remember the rest of the day but I remember eating eggs in a hole with Jimbo and Lyn, enjoying every morsel of breakfast and each scrap of syllable. Good people good place good day. Good food too.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D is for Black Drum

A few years back Quietwater went on a deep south adventure involving shallow salt water, fly rods, and kayaks. One day we met up with Gary Taylor at a marina near Slidell, Louisiana. With some kayaks added to his mother ship we went out the Rigolets Trestle in the midst of some fog bound for points unseen. We emerged into a big, shallow, open chunk of empty. I still call it the Lousiana Marsh. It was incredible.

This marsh is a place unlike anything I've ever seen. If you get a chance to get to Louisiana look up Gary Taylor and have him take you out for a day of fishing. He's a great guide, with a memory full of cool places to go in the marsh. The goal was redfish. We found a few, but the fish of the day was this enormous black drum that Gary caught and Jimbo landed. This fish story is brought to you by the always truthful, non-exaggerating letter "D".

Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for canoeing

It's a simple little thing. Not a necessity anymore. A pleasure. A lifestyle thing. Some like roller derby. Others like chess. I like paddling. What are the odds that there is someone out there that likes chess, roller derby, and canoeing? Probably half way decent. Maybe even right here in Madison.

But that's not point, the point is leisure pursuits. On the water. With a paddle. Boats help too. Just a bit. The other word to bring in here is "silent sport".

Quietwater has its name for a purposeful reason and it has nothing to do with jetskis or waterskiing or some pink-haired kayaker hucking him or her self over a 70 waterfall. Quietwater has everything to do with quietly slipping a canoe in the water, giving that one last push and sitting down in a seat and looking out over a lake smooth as glass.

So go find yourself a canoe. Find a morning on a quiet lake and feel the magic that comes over you when the loudest sound is water dripping off the edge of your paddle and a loon off in the distance.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Birds

Port Arthur Pelicans to be more exact. This is low tide. They are sitting on a sandbar well offshore from Port Arthur, as you can likely see. We went aground on a sandbar much like this earlier in the day. The whole bay was hardly more than ten feet deep at most, and much shallower when the tide went out.

This was part of a project we did with Native Watercraft. Jimbo Meador was the host for a three part DVD we did featuring Native Watercraft-certified guides. Port Arthur was one of the locations we visited. Quite the adventure. Speckled trout and redfish were very nice to us this day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for Alaska

As a mere lad back in the day when economies were small, recessions were big and long lasting, and there was no internet, my Dad took on a job as the manager of a remote gold mine in Alaska. One of the conditions of his employment was bringing me, the mere lad referred to above, along to be the camp gofer, aka lowest worker bee on the totem pole, as opposed to the more glorious and better paid gophers, who exceed at digging holes and watching for hawks.

Anyway, I went along and did the gofer thing. I guess I have to say it changed my life. Pretty much every day, as a cocky young punk going into my senior year of high school I got to see this every time I looked down the valley

Work was a 24/7 affair, which fit in with the daylight we had for most of the summer. Work looked like this:

This is a grizzly, the top part, which acts to "sort" the boulders off and shunt the to the side. Smaller "stuff" goes through where it is shaken and washed and further sorted. Large stuff going off to the left side, while the smallest fractions fall all the way through to the bottom and begin their trip down the sluice which comes out of the shot to the LR corner of the picture into a headbox and then into riffles lined with carpet. Every two weeks the top four feet of this riffle was covered with an inch+ thick layer of solid gold, ranging from dust up to nuggets the size of a thumb joint. To this day, I've never seen anything quite like it. Nor will anyone. This was by far the most destructive thing I have ever seen. At the time, even as a mere lad, I was surprised that pillaging and destruction of this extent and scale was legally allowed. It is somewhat ironic, that destruction on a much larger scale was visible in the valley head. What those three glaciers did was vastly more destructive, but that is natural and therefore OK. right?

At day's end we would vacate the machines for the next shift and proceed back to camp, which was this set of three Alaska pipeline surplus trailers. While the trailers were scrungy and not worth description, they all had million dollar views of three glaciers which within a few miles of camp, all came together and melted, creating the Middle Fork of the Chistochina River. A superb, once in a lifetime view, that I was too dumb to recognize as anything special. This was in 1983 and we were poor, so cameras and films were semi-precious. This picture is pretty much the only one.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Hard to say how I got here from there, but I'm sure it had some effect on me.