Watertower_weather

I feel like I might have mentioned this before in my blogging life, but I’m really glad that the desk I sit at for eight hours a day affords me a window view. And I’ve been having lots of fun with that view via my #watertowerweather series on Instagram.

This I know I’ve mentioned, that at one point in college, I was a meteorology major until the actual science got in the way. But my fascination with the weather has never waned. My work window faces the direction from which the weather comes and Instagram has been providing an outlet for the ever changing views that I’m privy to. In addition, a building in that view has a throwback watertower on the roof, and that has become the framing device for my Instagram photos.

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As I am writing this, I have going on the television Part 1 of the new Ken Burns documentary, “The Dust Bowl.” I was going to turn it off because, though the photos are dramatic, I haven’t heard anything in the narration that isn’t depressing or despairing, and that’s depressing and despairing. But then I decided that I should leave it on (even if it is uncomfortable) and perhaps add a crumb to my woefully lacking knowledge of American history, particularly from the last one hundred years. I learn a little about the World Wars from the shows on Masterpiece Theatre, but that’s not from an American perspective.

One of the women interviewed for the program, who was a child at the time, related that they knew that “we were being visited by Oklahoma today or we were being visited by New Mexico today” because the dirt from each place was a different color. (1)

Dustbowl_jackrabbit_cull

There was also a “plague of rabbits” when their natural coyote predators were wiped out, The landowners would round up the jackrabbits and cull them, pretty much by grabbing them and clubbing their heads. I perked up when I heard the rabbits part but was rather repulsed by the footage of what happened subsequently. (2)

The Dust Bowl program put in perspective my recreational and harmless views out my office window. The approaching weather is certainly dramatic sometimes, particularly in the summer (especially that one time when a nascent tornado passed across our building), but it will never be the horror of an approaching “black blizzard.”

(1) Dust storm photo is from spydersden’s blog article, which provides a good, short overview of the crisis.

(2) Jackrabbit images are screen captures from the Ken Burns PBS documentary “The Dust Bowl.” I suspect it’s all public domain footage, but I’ll cite it anyway.

Tree fractals

March 7, 2011

Handprintpicture_nohand_blog

As I was waiting for the train to work last Friday morning and looking around for things to take Instagram pictures of to kill time, I had the sudden feeling that one of my favorite things about winter here in the deciduous northern hemisphere is seeing the bare trees reaching toward the sky and knowing that what I see above ground is happening below ground as well.

I hadn’t thought of tree branches as fractals until I saw an episode of Nova a few weeks ago, but I have known for a very long time that trees have root systems underground that are equivalent to their branch systems above. As I stared at the beautiful, veiny, starkness of the winter bare branches, I was a little overwhelmed by the thought of the symmetrical happenings in the dirt.

I didn’t have time to leave the train platform to take photos of the trees that were uncluttered by power lines, apartment highrises or other impediments, but the images stayed in my memory all weekend and were the inspiration for this illustration based on tracings of my hands.