Orbital Dawn

As seen from a 5000 series CTA car upon reaching low Earth orbit, courtesy of Elron Muskrat’s SpaceY Launch Service’s BMFR ultra-heavy lift rocket.

Photo by Roman

Post Script: this photo really was taken from a “5000 series CTA car”. No post production filters or cropping.

A Study in Subway

On my most recent trip to the Harold Washington Library, I took a rather mundane photo of the Jackson Blvd Red Line station platform. Could playing with photo editing filters make it more interesting? I ran it through GIMP’s “oilify” filter to soften the image (and if any of the victims had privacy concerns, well… ) then ran it through the “clothify” filter to add texture. It would be nice if I could describe what each of the parameters in two filters actually does, but I remain consistently an amateur.

This platform, incidentally, runs all the way north to Lake Street, making it the longest station platform in the world when it was new, although it actually served four stops on the line. It’s since been shortened slightly and, who knows, maybe some platform elsewhere exceeds it now.

Off topic: the trip to the library was productive, I think. I picked up a DVD of the BBC’s production of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This is based on a truly outstanding fantasy novel by Susanna Clarke. If you’ve not read this book, it demands a place near the top of your bucket list. The BBC production is very nearly as good. You can find it online for pay in the usual places.

I also picked up a novel, Rosewater by Tade Thompson. This is advertised as a first book in a trilogy. These days “trilogy” is a demerit in my book. But the writing looked interesting, told in first person, and the book is advertised as “winner of the Nommo Award for Best Novel”. This award is handed out by the African Speculative Fiction Society, about which I am woefully unhip. The computer screen occupies far too much of my time so I’ve not yet begun the book. I do have elevated expectations…


It’s storm season on the Great Plains. Storm chasers are out harvesting video while some farmers are still waiting for ground dry enough to support a tractor to do planting and while other folks cast wary glances at levies for leaks.

One of my favorite weather videographers, Pecos Hank, recently posted a video on an interesting thunderstorm phenomenon: sprites.

Shadow Tree

Well, actually, it’s a young tree just growing past the “bush on a stick” stage. I concede: shadows become repetitive after very long, and I plead guilty to posting a few too many of these. For some reason, shadows are another thing that I find endlessly fascinating, maybe for similar reasons as tangled bushes… a busy pattern.

Photo by Roman.

Tom Jones?

I repeat: I hate music videos. I also don’t like Tom Jones. And this particular tune is a good example of a kind of pseudo-hippie mindless polyester blatherskite music: The sort of stuff popular during the late 60s — early 70s designed to make the middle class feel good about themselves in an evil world. But…

… evenĀ  so … nevertheless … despite that … and yet … surprisingly … who would have thought …

I found it utterly charming.

Did you notice how heavily this video borrows (especially toward the end) from the opening sequence in The Triplets of Belleville? And while I’m allergic to this tune and to Tom Jones, there are some artists (such as Al Kooper) who could maybe bring a needed je ne sais quoi to the interpretation. (Not even Kooper was always successful at that.)

Maybe that’s why I like it.

The video is by Del, a Brazilian firm that also does a good deal of commercial work.