Slow Motion Metro

Inspired in part by Adam Magyar’s slow motion videos of people on subway platforms, I tried pointing my iPhone 5s slow motion camera at passing trains while waiting for transfers on the DC Metro. Mobile slow motion is nowhere near the quality of Magyar’s hardware, so there’s blurring as the train gains speed, but the scene of people standing almost still while the train is in movement gives the impression of statues going places.

I also caught the new 7000-series WMATA train on the Blue Line:

Cat Licks Apple in Slow Motion

Amelia Cat likes apples and will eagerly lick at an apple slice or core if offered one. (Don’t let cats at the apple seeds, though; they can be harmful to pets if eaten.) Here’s Amelia licking an apple in slow motion, recorded at 120FPS with an iPhone 5s.

Older video, same thing, from last year:

On the Harassment of Women and Dwarves

“Don’t Look Down On Me” is Jonathan Novick’s documentary about the social travails of living with achondroplasia, or dwarfism. Passersby call out disparaging names, random strangers strike up conversations to bring up predictable stereotypes, and of course the “m-word” is addressed.

“10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” a viral video for Hollaback, documents just how much casual harassment a woman tolerates constantly in the city: a relentless texture of cultural pressure and male dominance all masquerading as “just saying hi”, again and again and again.

Don’t harass people.

Shenandoah National Park (May 2015)

Saturday was a perfect day to go back up to Shenandoah over the weekend for a few short hikes: the super-easy Limberlost Trail, a walk around Big Meadows, and the upper trail to Hawksbill Summit.

The Limberlost Trail is a flat crushed-gravel path through what used to be a hemlock forest, a very accessible hike through some lush nature, with lots of wildlife if you walk at the right time. We were there in the late morning so all we saw were a chipmunk and a duskywing butteryfly on some wildflowers. Lots of ferns, too.

Continue reading Shenandoah National Park (May 2015)

Amtrak Derailment

Deadly train derailment in Philadelphia has brought US rail infrastructure into focus again, and why Amtrak cannot thrive in a culture and political environment that values individualism, cars, and highways over train travel — a collective action that somehow threatens personal liberty.

Washington Post’s derailment map visualization shows where the train sped too fast around a curve. Ongoing NTSB investigation here.

A survivor’s story.

WW2 Flyover

It’s not everyday you get to see a 1940s B-29 Superfortress named “FIFI” fly right over DC’s National Mall; one of many historic planes to join in the World War II Flyover last week.

World War 2 Flyover

I was working at NASA HQ in SW DC at the time so I walked outside with thousands of others to the Capitol over lunch break to witness the event. It was an amazing sight: wave after wave of historic planes flying in formation for an hour, Mustangs, Corsairs, Hellcats, B-25 Mitchells such as those that flew the Doolittle raids, and yes, FIFI.

World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover

I also got some video but it wasn’t great.

My Full WW2 Flyover photo album here, and also see Samer Farha’s photos from Rosslyn, and Djenno Bacvic’s composite of all the planes in the flyover.


Got to see some rare mammatus clouds over Herndon earlier this week: round, pouchlike formations caused by damp, unstable air sinking below storm clouds.

Mammatus clouds over Herndon

I also tried getting a timelapse video, but somehow it didn’t seem quite so spectacular in motion:

More info on mammatus clouds.

DC Cherry Blossoms 2015

Me and Amy with cherry blossoms

Continuing an unbroken string of annual DC cherry blossom photos, we ventured down to the Tidal Basin for peak bloom on April 11th. Mostly I just used my NEX3’s fisheye lens attachment, occasionally detaching it to use the wide angle pancake lens.

Selfie sticks abounded amongst the crowd, such as this one that peeked out from behind a tree trunk.

Selfie stick peeks out from behind cherry tree

The Washington Monument, finally out of its post-earthquake scaffolding.

Cherry Blossoms

The Marine One chopper (no president on board) flew by and I managed to get a nice picture of it through the blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms and Marine One

Some equestrian park police also rode by.

Equestrian Rangers under Cherry Blossoms

Really a perfect weekend for some hanami.

Cherry Blossoms

A few days later I returned to the Tidal Basin over lunch break, this time with my new Google Glass to see the post-peak blossoms.

Pink was giving way to green in the canopy and petals rained down on the grass below. Still beautiful, and I was glad for the second opportunity to see the blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms #throughglass
Cherry Blossoms #throughglass
Cherry Blossoms #throughglass

Someone lost a hat.

Cherry Blossoms and Lost Hat #throughglass

Full photoset for DC Cherry Blossoms 2015 here.

Google Glass: Redux

My Google Glass suffered some damage over Thanksgiving, snapping at a weak point in the frame despite my taking pains to keep it from stress and bending.

Google Glass Damage

I thought that was the end for my Glass experience, but their excellent customer support quickly replaced the unit with an upgraded Glass XE-C. It was a marked improvement over the previous version: better battery life, more RAM, more responsive UI and less prone to overheating and crashing.

Continue reading Google Glass: Redux

Snows of March

“In like a lion, out like a lamb,” they say, but mostly March was in and out like a bunch of snow.

Icy Tree
Winter's last gasp