Iceland Bound

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Tomorrow, immediately following my soccer game, I leave for Iceland where I will spend ten days camping and touring the island.  I will not be posting again until I return on June 10.

Jeanine, Nico, Maya and I attended the midday memorial service for Grant Backerman, who died at the age of 22. Grant was on Nico’s wrestling team, worked briefly for Kyle at Yard  Dogs, and was a neighbor of ours.  The service was poignant and beautiful.  It left everyone in attendance deeply moved. Mourning the loss of someone in the prime of their life is very different than celebrating the life of someone who has lived fully and to an old age.  No parent should outlive their child and no child should have to lose a sibling. Our deepest and most profound sympathy rests with the Backerman family.

Ice Cream Circuit

One Way Ride

I have decided that bicycle riders are motivated by two basic desires and can be categorized as; (a) go fast types, or (b) find ice cream types. I am unequivocally a member of the later group. Jeanine invited me to join her “go fast” riding group on a 24 mile ride this morning. I opted instead for a 22.6 mile solo ride with stops at not one, but two ice cream shops. Sadly, the first one did not have chocolate almond, my favorite flavor, and the second which does, was not open when I arrived. Pictured above is the altitude profile (one way) of my first real ride with my new bike and on which I learned many important lessons.

  • Riding with your mouth closed is highly adviseable unless you enjoy small crunchy protein snacks.
  • Sand is a four letter word.
  • Best to ride VERY slowly through standing water.
  • Unlike trekking, going down hill is better for your knees (and morale) than going up.
  • Very wise to uncleat your shoe well before you need your foot.
  • As in life, stopping to smell the roses is a good way to ride.

My journey took me into downtown Lexington by way of the Minute Man National Historic Park where I paused to photograph the Captain William Smith House (built circa 1692), a prominent colonial period house with a rare cove cornice, one of only three remaining unrestored examples to be found in Massachusetts.

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New Wheels

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For years, Jeanine has encouraged me to take up cycling. Foremost, it is an activity she loves and is now something we can do together. Secondarily, it is a great form of exercise that does not put as much wear and tear on the knees as my various other sporting endeavors. We did a leisurely ten mile ride yesterday and I must say it felt pretty good (despite the fact that my rear tire was severely under inflated). The bike is a run of the mill hybrid. I was tempted by the high tech versions but the benefits for my use (exercise and short range photo touring) did not justify the cost and I would be far better served by shaving a couple of pounds off my belly rather than my bike frame.

CRI Banquet

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Jeanine and I joined Maya for her end of the year rowing banquet at CRI last night. Maya looked quite elegant and I have Jeanine to thank for a rare father daughter portrait. I was recruited by the coach to take a team photo (below) which I think came out rather nicely. Each co-captain gave a short speech recognizing a different member of the coaching staff. Maya spoke in appreciation of the coxswain coach who was deeply touched by her kind words. I spent the day finalizing my plans to visit Iceland. I will leave on Sunday and return ten days later. I have rented an SUV and plan to visit and camp in some of the more remote areas of the island.

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F/A-18 Hornets

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For the second time in a year, I had a chance to photograph the Blue Angels, this time over Boston Harbor. At $65M a copy this may be the most expensive photo subject I have ever aimed my camera at. With a 10% fatality rate for Blue Angel pilots, this may also be one of the riskiest professions in the world.

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Panther Pond

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I rose early to enjoy a three hour, 9 mile kayak tour of the Tenny Rever and Panther Pond. The water was glass flat and the sun diffused by soft clouds. Humans were mostly asleep while wildlife was not. I encountered a bald eagle, turtle, deer, loons, woodpeckers and a variety of other birds as I explored the waters. I returned in time to join the others for breakfast before making the two and a half hour drive back to Concord. A lunch stop at Dackfat in Portland completed our gastronomic indulgence for the long weekend.

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On this Memorial Day, I would like to add a note of appreciation to all of our nation’s veterans for their service to our country and for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf.

Pedula Retreat

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Jeanine, Maya and Nico left yesterday to visit and stay with family friends at their summer home on Crescent Lake in Maine. After my soccer game this morning, a satisfying 1-0 win over Belmont which solidified our first place standing, I drove up to join them. A relaxing afternoon on the water was followed by a delicious salmon dinner with a beet salad prepared by Jeanine and a late night desert created by Maya and her cohorts.

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Family Regatta

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In celebration of the end of the spring rowing season, Maya’s club team hosted a family regatta at the CRI boat house. Friends and family were invited to ride on the launches to observe racing from just feet away. Even more fun, was a chance to take our own stab at rowing on the Charles. The “barge” seats 16 rowers and 8 coaches, 3 abreast. It is the classroom for novice rowers and we were put through a lesson with our daughters as instructors. I picked it up pretty quickly but came to realize just how difficult it is to remain perfectly synchronized with others in the boat. A lot of trash talk was exchanged between our barge and the second one until our lesson culminated with a race that left them less talkative.

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Crash Landing

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Let me explain how is is possible to start the day contemplating a trip to Iceland and end it with the purchase of a bicycle.

I would like to take a quick photo excursion before I start my new job. Iceland is on my bucket list and early June offers good weather and relatively few tourists. Waterfalls there are abundant and beautiful but most good photographic angles require that you setup in the water. Thus began my search for a pair of hip waders. I started in Concord with our local fly fishing outfitter. They had chest waders but they were overkill for my needs. They sent me to the Natick Outdoor Store which had waders but only a left boot in my size (don’t ask). Next, I was directed to Dick’s Sporting Goods which had both rubber and PVC waders in my size. After trying them on, I decided there was no way I was going to trudge into the wilderness with these things on. Perhaps REI, which was just around the block, would have something more minimalist. They did not. They did, however, have bicycles; plenty of them with many on sale. Even so, I could not find a hybrid in my size that was not painted like a Hells Angels motorcycle. Now smitten with the notion of a new bike, I headed over to Wheelworks in Belmont where I found what I was looking for. Why then does today’s post not feature a picture of said bicycle. Because I encountered something even more interesting when I returned home. This hummingbird must have collided with a window because I found him resting on our deck this evening. I find birds much easier to photograph when they are semiconscious and not flying, so I took advantage of the opportunity. Fortunately, the little fellow regained composure a few minutes after I got the shot and flew away.

MarkForged

My plan for a six month sabbatical between jobs did not even survive the first month.  A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a recruiter who shared an opportunity that was so compelling that I had to put my other options on hold. Today I accepted an offer from MarkForged, to head their engineering team and will start on June 15th. The tiny startup has developed a very exciting product with the potential to dramatically change the way mechanical components are prototyped and manufactured in low volumes.  The company reminds me of Truevision, the company I co-founded in my twenties and where I enjoyed the most enjoyable years of my professional career.  Present is the same level of energy and enthusiasm for a product with the potential to change an industry.

Class Act

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Jeanine was the keynote speaker at the Concord Carlisle Class Act Awards Ceremony this evening for an audience of three or four hundred students and parents. The awards recognize community service and the spirit of volunteerism. The high school senior class in aggregate has donated more than 34,000 hours of service to the community. She spoke at length about her grandfather’s service (he is pictured on the left) and also surprised me with a short story about my own community service as a young man (I was a “hugger” for the Special Olympics; my job was to hug athletes as they crossed the finish line). She used the story to make a point about how we receive more than we give when we volunteer.

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First Design

Scan

I spent a good deal of time today doing spring cleaning. I decided to attack the stacks of paper which include my earliest engineering work, scanning them to my computer for preservation and more efficient storage. Pictured here is my very first design as an engineer at Bell Laboratories completed some 30+ years ago. I drew this electrical schematic by hand on graph paper (in those days engineer’s did not have their own computers). Looking back on it now I am inclined to admire it more as a piece of artwork than a breakthrough in videographics.

Less is More

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Several years ago I purchased a used camera stand (a device for positioning a camera at any height or angle relative to a subject) for my photo studio on Craig’s List. I got a phenomenal deal because no normal person would buy such a large and heavy stand for use in a home. I had to shorten it by several feet so it would fit in my 8ft tall basement. It has always been something of a pain to use because it is just too large for my setting. Today, I replaced the aging casters with new ones that include a pedal lock. That allowed me to remove 10 pounds of locking mechanisms. I shortened the lateral arm by more than a foot which dropped another ten pounds and allows me to navigate much more freely. Finally, I removed a 20 pound ballast weight that is no longer necessary due to the shifted center of gravity. The stand is now perfectly sized for my use and glides effortlessly on its new wheels. Pictured here are a subset of the parts I removed during surgery.

First Eight

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After their harrowing qualification yesterday, Maya and her CRI crew placed first in the Eights final today. At her request, I took an overhead shot of her boat from a bridge that spans the race course. As is customary, her team celebrated their victory by tossing her into the river. A small price to pay for the gold medal she returned with. My sister took the photo of me below. Tell me if you think I enjoy watching Maya race.

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Earlier in the day I travelled to Medfield with my soccer team. I elected to give my injured hamstring a week off in the hopes it will be fully recovered for next week’s match. We pulled out a 3-2 win which advanced us into first place over Belmont who we face next week.

JW Graduation

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Jeanine and I joined my sister, Alissa, and her family to witness the graduation of her son and my nephew, John William, from Babson College. John has been a frequent and most welcome visitor in our home over the last four years and we hope his sister, Rachel, will follow suit when she begins her freshman year at Babson in the fall. At 52 my sister is still quite a saucy number and we were thrilled to join her and husband John for the momentous occasion.

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Later in the day we travelled to Lowell to watch Maya compete in a rowing regatta. She coxed an eight in her first qualifier. With twenty yards to go and a commanding lead, her number one seat “caught a crab” bringing the boat to a complete stop. Recovering the oar from under the boat and resetting the crew took almost 30 seconds. So great was their lead that they still managed to place first by the narrowest of margins.

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Old School

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When Maya leaves for college, Jeanine and I have decided we will be downsizing into a more cozy abode. Even though that day is more than two years away we are going to need all of that time to divest of the things we have accumulated over a lifetime. Last week I sold 4 of our 6 bicycles. This week I am focused on old electronics, including my father’s turntable and my first video waveform monitor. Both technologies have been rendered irrelevant by advances in technology. Was there really a time when we listened to music by dragging a tiny needle through an undulating vinyl groove amplifying tiny up-down-left-right vibrations into sound?

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