Sunday, July 25, 2021

Moonset over Tamworth - Guest post by Jim

[O.G.: Here's another guest post by Jim, in Tamworth NH]

I got up in the middle of the night to photograph the full buck moon setting over Tamworth. The weather prediction had been for clear skies, but when I looked out the window at 4 AM, the house was in fog. I went back to bed wondering.

Half an hour later, the bright moonlight woke me up. I was ready in ten minutes. I had planned to take only my camera, but since I would be stomping through uncertain terrain, I took my tripod as well. I drove a mile down Page Hill to the new clearing made by Deb and Chris Franchi, with its spectacular views to the west and north along the entire Sandwich range.

Bringing the tripod was a good decision, because I spent nearly an hour at the site. Holding up a long lens for an hour would not have been fun. I made my way to a point where I could see the white steeple of the Congo church in town.

The moon was bright and clear high above the horizon, but the fog at ground level swirled through the town, and the moon had taken on a dark red hue, probably from the fires in Canada and out West that have made our skies more polluted than usual.

I always enjoy these solitary hours, because I am never truly alone. We are long-time members of the Church of the Great Outdoors - it is a demanding religion that requires daily participation in its rites.  So I was attending today's religious service, in the company of diverse flora and fauna. The flowers were just waking up, still covered with dew. The bird life around me was its usual early morning racket, the avian matins filled with cries from the chickadees, the thrushes, the vireos, the crows, the doves, and the occasional owl. And the light breezes through the trees added a delicate percussion to the birds' symphony. One solitary car passed above me on the road in that entire hour.

Photo: Tamworth, Bunker Hill, Red Hill,  and moonset, 5 AM 24 July 2021

This image is of the moonset over Tamworth, with Red Hill and its fire tower 13 miles away visible in the distance, with the ridge line of Bunker Hill in between. The white tower of the Congregational Church pokes through the fog in the foreground.

Equipment:is title
Canon 5d Mark III EOS
Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary 015 + 1.4x
photo detailsis second
1/200", f/6.0, ISO 2000

I have a poem in mind for this morning, one by ee cummings: "who knows if the moon's ...", a poem from his second volume of poetry, &, self-published in 1925 and set to music by Dominic Argento thirty years later. There is a back-story to the title of that poetry volume. His first book of poetry, Tulips and Chimneys, had been published by Thomas Setlzer in 1923. The poet was unhappy that his title, Tulips & Chimneys, had been tossed aside, so in 1925 he put together his own printing of works deleted from his first volume, and called his second volume &. Take that, Mr. Thomas Seltzer!

who knows if the moon's
by ee cummings, from &, 1925

who knows if the moon's
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky--filled with pretty people?
( and if you and I should

get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody's ever visited,where

Spring)and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves

[O.G.: Thanks, Jim]

Tamworth, Bunker Hill, Red Hill,  and moonset, 5 AM 24 July 2021

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Full moon over Tamworth

 Jim sends a couple more of photos from 24 June, as the full moon rose.

He writes:

These were taken from the Great Hill Firetower looking to the village of Tamworth and the rising moon. Low-lying clouds obscured moonrise until the moon rose a few degrees above Ossipee Lake in the distance, above the summit of Welch Top (422m).

I was inspired by John Updike’s poem.

John Updike

The sun is rich
And gladly pays
In golden hours,
Silver days,

And long green weeks
That never end.
School’s out.
The time Is ours to spend.

There’s Little League,
Hopscotch, the creek,
And, after supper,

The live-long light
Is like a dream,
and freckles come
Like flies to cream.


Canon Mark III EOS 5d

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM|Contemporary 015+1.4x

(A)1/250", 210mm, f/71, ISO 10000 

(B)1/250", 840mm, f/9.0, ISO 10000

The small white dot at 8:00 and about 1 lunar radius is the double star HD 171595, 151 ly away in Sagittarius, enhanced with a small radial filter increasing the exposure around the star by +4.00.

Mini Review: Our Biggest Experiment: An Epic History of the Climate Crisis

 The Guardian recently ran a long-read,

Sixty years of climate change warnings: the signs that were missed (and ignored)

The effects of ‘weird weather’ were already being felt in the 1960s, but scientists linking fossil fuels with climate change were dismissed as prophets of doom

Here is a blurb of the book from which that was extracted:

 ‘Our Biggest Experiment recounts how the world became addicted to fossil fuels, how we discovered that electricity could be a savior, and how renewable energy is far from a twentieth-century discovery. Bell cuts through complicated jargon and jumbles of numbers to show how we're getting to grips with what is now the defining issue of our time. The message she relays is ultimately hopeful; harnessing the ingenuity and intelligence that has driven the history of climate change research can result in a more sustainable and bearable future for humanity.’

Here is our friend Jim's view:
That message of hope is surely a hope in vain, given our current politics. But climate books with a message of despair don’t sell very well, although they do seem to drive up consumption of ethanol and other forms of self-medication.
Here is my prediction: we will do little to avoid climate crises until a heat wave kills a few million, as in the opening scenario in Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Ministry of the Future”. After that one nation or two will act to protect itself by adding SO2 to the stratosphere. This initially covert act will be sanctioned by the UN, reluctantly at first, and eventually enthusiastically encouraged by the corporations still invested in fossil fuels in 2040.
By 2060, two decades of this kind of climate modification will have killed most fish in the oceans and reduced crop yields, so the clamor will grow to end climate modification and focus on direct atmospheric capture of greenhouse gases.
That is as far on a limb as I care to go, but I do think that is a very likely outcome of our current lack of policy. Does that sound like a message of hope? Not to me.

We are of the same mind. However, the long-read and presumably the book are more factual, and sufficiently detailed for a retrospective assessment sixty years later. I am looking forward to the publication in the fall.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Another photo from Jim

Jim in Tamworth posted this photo for the solstice. 
He wrote: 

Ciao, amici Here is a photo for tonight's summer solstice at 23:31; I've included an excerpt from Seamus Heaney's solstice poem, "A dream of Solstice". 

It refers to the winter solstice, but the sun stands still at both. 

I love Heaney's use of the quote from Dante too. I do remember most of my dreams but there are times when I only remember the feeling, as does Dante's dreamer. 

About the photo This was the scene that greeted us as we returned from our first post-pandemic trip to visit our grandson and family in Wisconsin. The mountains, the clouds, the drama in the sky really said to us 'welcome home.' The photo reflects not just the physical beauty of the landscape, but also our turbulent feelings after not seeing our daughter and her family for so long, like all of us separated from family by the pandemic. 

Photo details: 
"Overboiling clouds", 15 June '21, 19:13 
Canon Mark III EOS 5d, Canon EF28mm f/1.8 USM 
1/80", f/4.5, ISO 100 
Mount Chocorua under a dark sky, looking north from Page Hill 

 Excerpt The Irish Times, 21 Dec 1999 A Dream of Solstice by Seamus Heaney
Qual è colüi che sognando vede, 
che dopo 'l sogno la passione impressa rimane, 
e l'altro a la mente non riede, 
cotal son io... 

 Dante, Paradiso, Canto xxxiii 

 [Just as the dreamer, after he awakens, 
still stirred by feelings that the dream evoked, 
cannot bring the rest of it to mind, 
such am I…] 

And as in illo tempore [in that time] people marked 
The king's gold dagger when he plunged it in 

To the hilt in unsown ground, to start the work 
Of the world again, to speed the plough 
And plant the riddled grain, we watch through murk 
And overboiling cloud for the milted glow 

Of sunrise, for an eastern dazzle 
To send first light like share-shine in a furrow 
 Steadily deeper, farther available, 
Creeping along the floor of the passage grave 

To backstone and capstone, to hold its candle Inside the cosmic hill…

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Jim had another interesting photo

We heard from Jim in Tamworth:
I was successful, after several frustrating nights, doing some night photography last night. 
Here's my favorite image. This is not the setting sun. This was taken at nearly midnight. The setting moon to the west lighting up the cloud, the star field - those are stars, not specks of dust - faint through the clouds, and a FIREFLY
flying through the scene with the shutter open, 7 flashes in 8 seconds, glowing for about 1/10 sec! 
It was difficult shooting in the dark, with the moon moving in and out of the clouds, and not knowing the terrain. I said to Maureen that the real problems with night photography are that you have to do it at night. 
Enjoy. Jim 
Photo details, Canon Mark III EOS 5d, 8 secs, Canon 24-105 mm zoom at 105mm, f/4.0,exposure increased in production to f/2.50, ISO 10000, shot at 23:55, 26 June 2020 from White Gates Farm, Tamworth NH
Thanks, Jim. Nice photo!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Jim has a new neighbor

From our friend in Tamworth NH:
“ Here's a dad we hope is starting a family here.
Photo details: Canon Mark III EOS 5d, Vivitar 600 mm,1/40”, f/8, ISO 160, tripod mounted, cropped

Friday, May 22, 2020

Venus on the half-shell

Our friend Jim has a picture from Tamworth, NH.

He wrote “I call this photo "Venus on the half-shell". Apologies to Kurt Vonnegut. Here is Venus as it sets over the Sandwich range between Mount Passaconaway and Mount Paugus,at about 21:10 last night, mirrored below in Chocorua Lake, as seen from the Narrows Bridge. Completely unedited.”

Nice photo, Jim.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Guest post: Jim remembers his year in Beijing

Our friend Jim has another post for us. He talks about his year in Beijing.

For twenty six years, I was a chemistry professor at Linfield College, in the heart of Oregon wine country, and in the middle of House District 1, a Congressional seat then held by Democrats since 1975. While we lived in Oregon, OR-1 representatives included Les AuCoin (‘75-‘93), Elizabeth Furse (‘93-‘99), David Wu (‘99- Aug ‘11), and  Suzanne Bonamici (Aug ‘11-present). 

Les AuCoin was opposed to all of Reagan’s Central American policies. He was highly regarded in the district. In 1992, he ran unsuccessfully for the Senate against incumbent Bob Packwood. That is another story.*

Elizabeth Furse came into office on Clinton’s coattails, squeaked by in the ‘94 ‘Contract on America’, and won another narrow race in ‘96. She had developed a reputation as a good supporter of health care, especially diabetes. Oregon Health and Sciences University was and is a major hospital in the Portland metro area and, at the time, ran a chain of dialysis clinics throughout the House district*, and benefitted from Furse’s support. Furse declined to run for a fourth term. She had made several perplexing statements during her last term and might have faced a tough primary challenger. Linfield gave her an honorary degree in ‘95(?) and her remarks were more than a bit odd.

In the fall of ‘98, David Wu ran against Molly Bordonaro, a young socialite with extreme right-wing views, with no experience aside from running for the ‘96 GOP nomination for OR-1, and no qualifications other than a checkbook and a wealthy father. In predictable fashion, Portland’s major newspaper, the Oregonian (whom even its staffers referred to as the bOregonian), endorsed Bordonaro, calling her ‘a fresh young face’. She lost, 47% to Wu’s 50%. David Wu was the first native of Taiwan to be elected to the House.

While in office, Wu developed strong ties to local technology firms, environmental organizations, and pro-choice organizations. He supported funding for the Tualatin National Wildlife Sanctuary. He and then Congressman Brian Baird (WA-3) worked together to create the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park at the mouth of the Columbia River. He had active roles on the House Committees on Education and Labor, and Science, Space, and Technology. He came to be regarded as a moderate-to-progressive Democrat with a good relationship with his district.

My life took an amazing turn during my sabbatical in 2008-2009, which I spent working in the laboratory of my former student and now colleague in the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing. I had no previous language experience with Asian languages, so learning to speak, read, and write, initially at the baby level, took a great deal of effort. My year in Beijing was a great experience, and one that would be impossible in today’s political climate. Beijing is very different now than it was in the year of the Olympics. 

I co-authored four articles with my colleague and his graduate students. I was a Western voice for a Korean mobile phone company. I sang with the Beijing International Festival Chorus, performed twice in the Forbidden City Concert Hall, and with the Deutcheschor Pekin, singing at the German Embassy and nearby German school. One of my favorite memories was being served a glass of glüwein by the German ambassador to China after we sang Christmas carols, in German of course, including favorites from my childhood.

I hired a Chinese tutor from Beijing Culture and Language University, eventually developing a vocabulary of perhaps 2000 words in speech, perhaps 1000 characters in reading, and maybe 500 characters in writing. I was like a new first grade student, except their accents were better! I made three TV commercials - one as a scientist, hawking a quack cure! - and was cast as Victor Hugo in a two-hour mini-series on Chinese cable TV. 

I travelled with my wife during her all-too brief visits to the mainland. We went to both Jinan - my colleague’s home town -  and Xi’An; I spent Spring Festival in Harbin with one of my housemates; I travelled to Chengdu with my official scientific sponsor from the Chinese Academy and spoke on “Scientific Writing in English” at the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics in Mianyang - similar to our Los Alamos National Laboratory. In my role as a scientific consultant, I visited both Jinan and two biomedical institutes in Guangzhou with my colleague.

In addition to my scientific duties, as a favor to the nanocenter students, I taught a weekly seminar on less familiar aspects of US history and culture. My students did want to learn about the arts and especially  American music  - alas, my preferences for classical music did not serve me well there. More for convenience than any other reason, I used the online version of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” as the history reference. I also used whatever I could from more traditional sources, but they had to be accessible from behind the Great Firewall of China, a difficulty that could be evaded with a VPN - all the grad students knew how to do this. 

The grad students were, to a person, horrified by the history of abuse of  Chinese workers in the US, especially by the Robber Barons and their agents. But nothing came even close to the anger and resentment they had about the worst piece of legislation ever put on the books in the US - the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Even though it had been repealed in 1943, it was still in the Code of Federal Regulations. We talked frequently about US policy towards Cuba - there were three Cuban grad students, hand picked by Raoul himself - and the legacy of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

I returned to Oregon after my sabbatical in the fall of 2009. In the spring of 2010, Linfield’s Political Science department sponsored a “Pizza and Politics” event with Congressman David Wu. He and I chatted for a few minutes, and I mentioned my experiences with the grad students in Beijing, especially their horror at the Chinese Exclusion Act. He said he had a personal goal of expunging that act from the CFR and wherever else it might lurk within the federal government.

Unfortunately, before that came about, both The Oregonian and Willamette Week, and independent weekly, reported Wu had  exhibited odd behavior and clashed with his staff in the midst of apparent mental illness during the 2010 election. 

The congressman resigned from office, in mid-term, 3 August, 2011, for personal reasons. 

Suzanne Bonamici won the Democratic nomination for the seat, 8 November 2011, and defeated Republican nominee Ron Cornilles in the special election on January 31, 2012.*

*Full disclosure: 

A friend produced the Portland, Oregon staging of The Packwood Diaries, written by Village Voice reporter Karen Houppert and her husband and play director Stephen Nunns. It was hilarious.

My wife worked as a nutrition support supervisor for OHSU’s dialysis clinics until they were privatized.

Our son worked for the initial Bonamici campaign in the nomination and subsequent special election and has remained active in Democratic Party politics. He most recently was the COO of Julián Castro’s presidential campaign. He is now working as an independent consultant.

Thanks for this shyte , Jim!