Sunday, January 23, 2005

Icy creations

Bill_iced_tree_1

We stopped in Halethorpe on our way home to Baltimore Friday night to behold our friend Bill's ice sculpture. He and his creation are pictured above in a time exposure. Bill snaked a garden hose to the top of his swing set and suspended the spray nozzle above his decomissioned Christmas tree. For 12 hours in last week's below freezing cold, he misted water over the tree, which grew a shell of beautiful crystaline knobs and spikes.

Bill_iced_tree_3

Bill left a string of colored lights in the tree, and with some jiggling after the ice formation, lit up the interior of the tree so that it could offer up some very pleasing nighttime close-ups.

Alaskan_ice_wall_2005I imagined other people have thought to do this too and hit Google. Sure enough, among other random examples, I found an artist in Fairbanks, Alaska named John Reeves who has created two ice sculptures using a segmented vertical water pipe rig and a specially-designed array of spray nozzles. The works are big.

The current ice wall, a more ambitious iteration of last year's, is, as of January 22, 2005, 97-feet tall and still growing in temperatures that go as low as 50 below. With the help of climbers from the Alaskan Alpine Club, the twin pipes at the core have been extended in 10-foot increments, and the nozzles have been spraying water almost non-stop since November 2004.

Last year's ice wall sculpture, titled Foxman's Raven, was built from October 2003 to April 2004, and ended up being 80 feet high, 140 feet long and 40 feet wide. Voids inside the sculture created ice caverns to explore. At its largest, the sculture weighed an estimated 45,000 pounds, and took a 106 degree day in July 2004 to melt completely away.

Reeves didn't embed lights in his works as Bill did, opting for some reason to just dump dyes on the ice to colorize the work a bit. Perhaps getting power to the spot was an issue, but for the next one, I hope they do add lights. Lighting the ice wall from within would dramatically showcase the spikey ice caverns.

A member of the club is documenting the project on the club's web site. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for progress reports. The club has also collected an excellent page of other ice walls (used to train ice climbers) around the world.

01:56 AM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sunday, January 02, 2005

2005 bursts over Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Balt_harbor_new_yr_2004_3

After Amy decided to go to bed early with Cianna on New Year's Eve, I decided to ride down to the Inner Harbor to see the fireworks. From past experiences, I knew to park away from the harbor area near Mercy Hospital on North Charles Street to avoid the post show traffic jam. The walk was easy and the crowd wasn't that bad in front of the Pratt Street Pavillion. This is the view of the fireworks with the U.S.S. Constellation in the foreground. Here's my moblog post.

Happy New Year!

06:47 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Baby kisses Baby Doll

cianna_babydolls_blog

I finally closed a small rip in the time/space continuum by bringing our baby daughter Cianna to meet Rachel Whang's Baby Doll. Baby Doll is a plastic doll that Rachel photographs with all kinds of Baltimoreans (including our Mayor) and in various local hangouts. Rachel, who is co-owner of Atomic Books, posts the photos to Baby Doll's Blog naturally.

Rachel e-mailed me back in May 2003, about a week after I returned from many months of working in New York City, about posing with her doll. I hadn't heard about Baby Doll's Blog, but I was happy to meet up with her to be photographed with the doll. It was massively freaky that I was asked by a reader of my blog to pose with a baby girl doll before we made the general announcement that Amy was pregnant—and two weeks before the amnio test came back with news that we were carrying a girl.

Cianna had to meet Baby Doll. I drop into Atomic Books every few weeks, but either I didn't have baby or Rachel didn't have doll. The two finally met earlier this month, and Cianna, as an encore to her meeting the Elvis statue down the street, planted a kiss on Baby Doll. I don't dare stage a meeting of Cianna and Baby Doll at the Elvis statue. A tiny black hole might form and devour all of Hampden.

Footnote: I finally fixed the domain redirect so that www.CiannaLee.com points to the Family section here. I haven't been able to build a page for that domain, but one day, I'll archive all the curiousLee and hiptop Nation posts about Cianna under her domain.

11:46 PM in Baltimore, Family | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Twilight Moon over Madison Street

Twilight_Moon_Over_Madison_

Ah, this is a scene that brings back fond memories of the time I had my design office at 4 East Madison in downtown Baltimore. As we were walking out of the first Baltimore Bloggers' Sushi Night at Minato, Amy pointed out the sliver of Moon setting behind the spikey spire of the First & Franklin Presbyterian Church. The complimentary wedges of dark blue sky and incandescent orange row houses on Madison Street were punctuated nicely by the crescent Moon.

balto_blogger_sushi_nite_sm

Just inside the northwest corner building at Charles and Madison, a pleasant group of bloggers were contemplating a second round of sushi. Amy, Cianna and I stayed long enough to have a round of drinks and for me to snap the photos that are in this phonecam postcard (click for a large version). I pushed the source photos to a moblog post at hiptop Nation from the restaurant table. I really only had a chance to get a round of introductions and some snippets of conversation before we had to head home to give Cianna bath and bed, but Baltimore Roll or eebmore will most certainly have good write-ups and links. Thanks to you two and the others for building this community. I'm really hoping I can make it to the next event.

11:52 PM in Baltimore, Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, June 28, 2004

Above Baltimore

hiflyer_balloon_daytime

Here are photos from yesterday's ride on the Port Discovery HiFlyer Balloon. In addition to the higher quality images posted here, I moblogged the boarding, takeoff, view from the top, and landing from my Sidekick. The weather was excellent, and there wasn't much of a wait. It's been a little over a year since I took my last ride, and that was at night.

The HiFlyer is one of the most enchanting attractions anywhere, and very unique in North America with only one other installation in Niagra Falls. I dearly wish they could overcome the bureaucratic hurdles to get these set up in other cities. One in Brooklyn to take in the view of Manhattan would be very nice. Baltimore's installation has been struggling since 9/11 in addition to downtime from bad weather and repairs. So I highly recommend visiting the website to get hours and fees to plan a visit in support of this wonderful experience. The balloon will operate into October, and hopefully return next year.

Update 7/17/04: The balloon was grounded today when a mechanical failure stranded 15 passengers in the air for 90 minutes during high winds. There were only minor injuries. See the AP story on the WBAL web site and my moblog photos of the breaking news on local TV.

12:32 PM in Baltimore, Family | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Bye bye bugs

cicada_farewell_1_ant

An ambitious ant pushes a cicada wing across a sidewalk towards the too-small entrance of his home hill.

cicada_farewell_2_flaggingThe Cicada Storm of 2004 is pretty much over now. We heard a few lone screechers over the weekend, but all is quiet now and the bugs' spent bodies have fallen to the ground. Everywhere, there are signs of damage from the cicada's egg laying in the outer twigs of trees. The thinner twigs die from the egg slits made by the female cicadas and droop brown in a phenomenon called "flagging" (click on the photo at right). The extent of the damage is particularly noticable on our morning commute down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

cicada_farewell_3_eggsAt a park near our house, I cracked open a flagged twig to get a sense of the size of the eggs and photographed the find against a dime for scale. Every visible brown flag represents hundreds of eggs that will hatch in a few weeks, raining ant-sized nymphs to the ground. They'll burrow down to tree roots to begin the 17-year cycle again.

In one last check of CicadaMania.com, I followed a link to some clever photos by local "streetcorner astronomer" Herman M. Heyn of a cicada in Druid Hill Park watching the projected image of Venus' transit across the Sun on June 8th. I'm puntuating this (hopefully) last cicada-themed blog post by mirroring some of Herman's photos here...

cicada_venus_1  cicada_venus_2  cicada_venus_3

11:35 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Kissing the King

cici_and_the_king

She was supposed to be smiling for the camera when Cianna turned and planted a smooch on Elvis! I could almost hear the lyrics to Your Time Hasn't Come Yet Baby (pop-up ads, but the audio is worth it). This impressive statue of the King stands at the entrance of Cafe Hon in Hampden where we had brunch this morning. We thought a trip to Hampden was appropriate as we opted out of the Honfest yesterday, and instead went to see Shrek 2 (loved it!) during the babysitting time Amy's sisters gave us. Cianna has been kissing us on the cheek in the last few weeks, and also has taken to kissing her dolls and stuffed animals. So sweet.

03:43 PM in Baltimore, Family | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Storm after the day

On our ride home to Baltimore last night, I was getting weather alerts on my Sidekick like this:

WWUS51 KLWX 260026
SVSLWX
VAC059-510-260100-

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
826 PM EDT TUE MAY 25 2004

...TORNADO WARNING CONTINUES FOR CITY OF ALEXANDRIA AND FAIRFAX COUNTIES UNTIL 900 PM EDT...

AT 826 PM EDT... RADAR INDICATED A DEVELOPING TORNADO OVER ROSE HILL...MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 20 MPH.

AT 825 PM...REPORTS OF FUNNEL CLOUDS JUST SOUTH OF ALEXANDRIA HAVE BEEN RECEIVED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT.

THE WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE...ALEXANDRIA...FRANCONIA...HYBLA VALLEY...LINCOLNIA AND MOUNT VERNON ARE NEAR THE PATH OF THIS DANGEROUS STORM.

MOTORISTS IN THE PATH OF THIS STORM SHOULD ABANDON VEHICLES FOR MORE SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER! DO NOT TAKE SHELTER UNDER HIGHWAY OVERPASSES! TAKE COVER IN A NEARBY STURDY BUILDING. AS A LAST RESORT...TAKE COVER IN A DITCH OR CULVERT. PROTECT YOUR HEAD AND BODY FROM FLYING DEBRIS!

$$
MANNING

The "abandon vehicles" line certainly got my attention. I loaded the local weather radar, and sure enough, there was a massive line of storms coming over us.

may_25_storm_radar

The sky looked really bad as we were coming to the ramp leading into downtown Baltimore. I shoved my camera out the window (Amy was driving and I was in the back seat with the baby) to take some photos just as raindrops started to fall. I accidentally left my camera flash on and caught the nearest raindrops whizzing by.

may_25_storm_over_skyline

This frame, with incredible churning clouds and raindrop trails that look like giant hail looking like a scene out of the movie The Day After Tomorrow, was taken as we came off I-95 onto the ramp to downtown. We'll likely see a few more storm squalls like this over the summer on our rides home.

We pulled up to the house and waited about 15 minutes under powerful lightning and thunder before the storm let up. The western sky soon opened up with an orange glow. I excitedly ran into the fading rain to look for a rainbow in the east. Alas no rainbow—the sun set just as the rain ended.

Update: It turns out two tornados did touch down in Maryland.

11:30 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Golden Cicada Orchid

cicada_emergence

I made some images this week of emerging cicadas. I think they are at their most beautiful in the roughly 30 minutes it takes the adult cicadas to emerge from their nymph shells, and the hours after during which they darken. In the moments when their wings and legs are completely free for the first time, they look like rare orchids. Searching in Google, it turns out that there is indeed a rare orchid in Indonesia called chrysoglossum ornatum or the Golden Cicada Orchid.

chrysoglossum_ornatum_big

The cicadas are reaching full force around here. In our neighborhood of Charles Village, nearby male cicadas are emitting loud bursts of their screeching mating call from the tops of many trees. Even more pervasive, and something I don't remember from 17 years ago, is a near constant distant hum that must be the blend of the echos of millions of calling cicadas. It's this dull hum that makes me more uneasy than the cicadas shells and bodies all over the ground. Fortunately, cicadas don't swarm.

09:15 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Cicada Saturday

cicada_saturday_1

Cianna and I spy a fully-matured cicada on our morning walk around the block. I'm holding the bug's wings in one hand and the camera in the other in this self-portrait. When the children of this brood return in 2021, my daughter will be driving a car and ready to go to college. I hope I remember to remake this photo then.

cicada_saturday_2

Empty cicada shells are now a common sight in the trees along the streets of Charles Village. Download this image as a desktop wallpaper.

cicada_saturday_3

A "beauty" shot of a cicada. Visit Cicada Mania for more photos and emergence reports.

09:17 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack