Sunday, February 02, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII Prediction

Not much to say here but that I think Peyton will pull off a win to solidify his status as the best that ever played. Denver 35, Seattle 31.

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 Family Pumpkin Carving Contest

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This year I had a hard time making the effort because I was so fatigued after taking my kids camping. We had a good time though. Somehow we let my teenaged sister talk us in to letting 2 of her best friends judge the competition and believe it or not her kitty cat took the prize.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

2012 Family Pumpkin Carving Contest

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We had another good year for our annual family pumpkin carving contest. The smack talking was at an all time high, while the quality of work may be in question. We again did not allow the judge to know which pumpkin belonged to whom before judging in order to make it as fair as possible. In addition to the immediate family, we had 2 entries from relatives visiting from out of town. The top pic shows all entries. On the bottom are my household's entries. Mine is on the top right, it got 1st place. My wife got 3rd, it is in the top left spot. My oldest boy came in dead last. He actually made his design and cut it by himself this year for the first time, his is on the bottom. My youngest boy made the design and mom cut it for him, his is top middle and it earned the next to last spot. The judge somehow thought he was going for the R2D2 look and gave him a small break.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Baby Rabbit Decomposition in Time-Lapse

This young rabbit was found at my dad's doorstep several weeks ago. We believe it was killed and delivered by his cat. I had been thinking about doing a time-lapse of a decomposing animal for quite a while and figured that I would make the best of this fresh carcass. I built a box using a wooden frame and chicken wire to allow smaller animals and bugs in while keeping out the larger animals that might just drag it off.  Here is the "rot box".  Since the lid is removable to allow full sunlight, I may call it the "grow box" for future projects.
Here is the box after this project was completed with the lid open and the camera in place.


For the filming I used my new Pentax Optio WG-1 which is really durable and versatile. I started taking 1 picture every 12 minutes, but as the action sped up over the last two days I increased the frequency to once every 5 or six minutes. On the last day when I went out to check the progress, I was disappointed to see the whole rabbit was gone. There were no bones or anything left, so I thought a snake or something had gotten in and carried it off.  However, after watching the playback, I realized that the maggots had devoured the entire rabbit. I was expecting a skeleton to stay together for several weeks and had planted some grass seeds to grow up and eventually beautify the whole gory scene, but it went way faster than I expected.  The entire process took only 4 days.
 

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Springtails in a Mud Puddle - Collembola

A couple of weeks ago my father, a farmer who shares an interest in biology with me, told me that he had seen a bunch of springtails in the ditches around the fields on our farm. When I got free one afternoon, I went down with my camera to see for myself. I stopped at a large puddle of water in the middle of a gravel road after a big rain. This is what I saw. Click the pics to enlarge.

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If I hadn't been prepared, I would have thought it was just a puddle with some light debris around the edge, but a closer look revealed the prize I was searching for, an abundance of springtails.

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Springtails are hexapods that were previously considered by most to be insects that have now been reclassified by many as having a separate lineage from the insects. Springtails (Collembola) have been classified as an order within the class insecta, or as a subclass of Entognatha alongside insects in the subphylum hexapoda, or if considered to be a basal lineage of hexapoda then they are elevated to a class.

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Springtails are small, usually less than 6mm, with these shown being 1-2 mm and are very abundant. Many species are known to be agricultural pests in some cases but beneficial in others.

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The name springtail is derived from their spring-like abdominal appendage, the furcula, which is tucked underneath the body and held in place by small appendage called a tenaculum (or retinaculum). When threatened, the springtail rapidly and forcefully extends the appendage, forcing it into the air making it very difficult to catch for closer observation or as a quick meal. Shown below is a video I made of these tiny creatures using my iPhone 4S and olloclip macro lens(both are awesome). You can see the tails extending rapidly, but even under my microscope, I haven't clearly identified the tenaculum which is supposed to hold the furcula in place while tucked under the body. **these creatures had not been harmed or injured when I made this video, they just could not handle the smooth texture of the surface on which they were placed. I quickly released them back to nature after the video was made.** Sources Wikipedia - Springtail and bugguide.net



Don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark!!!

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Predictions

I have never been much of a New York Giants fan, and I have doubted them all the way to the conference championship this year. However, it now looks like time for me to give credit where credit is due. I think that NY has too much momentum at this point for New England to stop them. I couldn't really believe that Eli Manning was that great after their terrific upset of NE in Super Bowl XLII, but now I will say that he ranks among the best. Now on to the game prediction. I don't have much personal interest in these teams but I am looking forward to a close and very exciting game. The current line is Patriots winning by 3. I am going to flip that and say that the Giants will win by 3 with a final score of New England 27 - New York 30.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

2011 Family Pumpkin Carving Contest

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We had another successful pumpkin carving contest this year. We had no injuries, no fights, and fair judging. There were only eight entries, all are pictured above. The youngest 2 entrants, both my children had to draw their design and my wife cut the pumpkin from that design. Everyone else did all their own work from start to finish. As always no foreign props were allowed and stencils could not be used either. Members of my household made a clean sweep (below). My wife came in first place with the blazing head (top right). I had the second place pumpkin seen on the bottom with the arms and the crown. My 7 year old came in third with the scowling vomit look on the far left and my 3 year old's was fourth with the sagging left eye (top middle). Thanks to our judges who are new to the neighborhood and are now glad we select different guest judges to help us out every year.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DIY Time-lapse Dolly

I recently purchased a Pico Dolly so I could attempt to make a self-contained time-lapse dolly that I could take anywhere.



Here is the Pico Dolly with the first step complete. I used the rim of a lid that went to an old pill container and attached it to the inside of the wheel. I had to take the wheel off and then replace it using a small hex key.



I used fishing line tied through the spokes of the wheel to attach the lid so I wouldn't damage the wheel with glue or drill holes.



Next I took 2 pieces of plywood and attached them to the dolly using 1/4 inch bolts through the predrilled standard tripod screw holes in the dolly.



Then I attached the pulleys from a motorized pulley set from Hobby Engineering.



The miniature metal gear motor I purchased separately from Hobby Engineering came next.



Finally I connected a rubber bands to the pulleys, a battery pack, and a potentiometer to use as an on off switch and to modulate the speed a little further as needed.



Ultimately I had to attach another rim to the front wheel because I had some trouble getting traction with just one wheel and with the elasticity of the rubber band, the motion needed to be a little smoother. Here is the first video I made with this setup.



The biggest draw backs to this rig are that despite gearing down the rpms, it still moves a little too fast for most natural outdoor scenes. Also it has to be on a relatively smooth and level surface.

UDATE: 11/21/11 - Here is my second version using a chain and sprocket system


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