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day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VIII.day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VII.day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VI.day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! V.day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! IV.day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! III.day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! II.day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! I.takin' a hole of the present day.harder. better. faster. stronger.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig!

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! I.

a little over a year ago i thought about getting into kite aerial photography with odin and almost exactly a year ago we beta tested the rig and took frida goes for her first ride in the galaxie 500 in search of the wind. and then we waited. and waited. and waited for a non-stormy windy day when we had the time to fly a kite. turns out that combination of conditions is a rarity! and i started to believe that waiting for the wind was the wrong strategy and we needed to start thinking about heading to windy places.

so we planned ahead and brought the gear on vacation in the upper peninsula of michigan where odds are good we’d find a good breeze coming off lake michigan.

sure enough, just a few hundred feet from where odin and his cousin flew kites for the very first time almost exactly 8 years to the day, we launched the rig into the air.

but first, we tested without the camera attached to see if the breeze seemed strong enough. sure seemed so!

the kite was up for about 10 minutes and took 40 shots and i we got 1 that was perfectly aligned when shooting every 15 seconds. i’m sure there’s probably some sort of optimum to be found between decreasing the time between shots ( and reducing the battery life ) and just leaving the kite up longer.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! II.

we mounted the canon sd450 running the canon hack development kit onto the kit and using the super simple intervalometer that comes with the stock kit set the camera to take a picture every 15 seconds. i was hoping we’d get into the frame on take off. odin’s feet did :-)

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! III.

the results turned out awesome! it doesn’t have any fancy stabilization sytem and it was really windy so odds are low that at any given moment the camera is going to be perfectly aligned with the horizon. i think in the future i’ll set the time between shots to a shorter duration to increase the chances if getting aligned with the horizon.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! IV.

at this point the kite was maybe a 150 feet up with the camera swaying around around 20 feet below. odin and i started thinking how cool it would be to get a much longer line and a reel to make it easier to get the kite higher up and down faster ( yes, that’s foreshadowing ).

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! V.

the kite was up for about 10 minutes and took 40 shots and i we got 1 that was perfectly aligned when shooting every 15 seconds. i’m sure there’s probably some sort of optimum to be found between decreasing the time between shots ( and reducing the battery life ) and just leaving the kite up longer.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VI.

it took a lot of effort in the stiff breeze to bring the kite down with the awkward “reel” that came with the kite. we though surely grandpa must have a old fishing reel! we raced back to the house and of course he did. so we hooked up the kite to the fishing line and went back to the beach.

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VII.

we tried to let the kite out slowly with the reel but the winds were soooooo strong it just went zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz all out at once – the entire 300 feet or so of line. i thought the reel was going to catch on fire!

day 3649: finally flying the kite aerial photography rig! VIII.

and much to our surprise we couldn’t reel it back in as there was too much drag on the line.

what to do?! i thought i could run the line under a picnic table and keep walking backwards until i pulled the kite down. i got about 10 feet before the line snapped and the kite went sailing away out of sight. at that point we were both very happy we decided to test it without the camera attached.

it took about 30 minutes of wandering through people’s back yards before we found the kite. it had floated about 4 blocks away and thankfully landed in in some trees without the fishing line getting tangled in powerlines.

a very nice lady helped us get it out of the tree by giving us a length of gutter that was just long enough to knock it down. i think she really enjoyed hearing about our adventure as we pulled down the kite and yanked the hundreds of feet of line that draped over her house and across the street into the next block.

odin commented that the kite aerial photography rig was a 110% success but maybe we needed to do a little more work on building a better reel. i couldn’t agree more! i thinnk there might be a outdoor kite line reel winder with lock in our future, but what to do until then? surely we must be able to build something from stuff lying around.

takin’ a hole of the present day.

takin' a hole of the present day.

post 10 mile run endocannabinoids pulsing through my veins with the lyrics of the last song of the run running through my head while i take a sauna with odin at his grandparents home in the upper peninsula

Taking control of the elements,
Making them mine, making them mine.

Touching up all of the elements,
Takin’ my time, takin’ my time.

Takin’ a hole of the present day,
Pushin’ it all, pushin’ it all, pushing it.

Takin’ control of my destiny,
Makin’ it fine, makin’ it fine, makin’ it.

harder. better. faster. stronger.

harder. better. faster. stronger.

today i ran 10 miles faster than i ever have before. i averaged 8.5 minute miles and on the last 5 i was running 8 minute mile pace. i could have easily run the entire 10 miles at a 8 minute mile pace. this means i shaved 10 minutes off my 10 mile run time compared to 1 year ago and about 20 minutes off my time from 2 years ago.

originally i was going to only run 8 miles but it felt so good i tacked on 2 miles. maybe there’s something to being trolled by an ice cream truck :-)

it seems reasonable to project out the performance and gains and predict that i’ll hit 7 minute pace sometime over the next year for half marathon and under distances.

two years ago i honestly thought that was impossible goal for my 6’4″ former clydesdale frame and now it’s almost a reality.

big question is what’s the upper limit? could i hit 6 minute miles. seems impossible now…

current status:

90 miles. 57.6 mpg. and not even hypermiling the jetta tdi sportwagen.

90 miles. 57.6 mpg.  and not even hypermiling the jetta tdi sportwagen.

after driving our 2005.5 jetta tdi sedan for nine years and 186,000 miles we thought it was time to get another car and loved the gas milease of the diesel but wanted more room so opted for the sportwagen.

we’ve been driving manual transmissions tdis for almost 15 years and in the sedan i could regularly get close to 50mpg which was much higher than the “official” mpg ( which i think was something like 38mpg ) and i was a little nervous that we’d still see that kind of mileage with the wagon which if officially rated at 23 city and 33 hwy.

sure enough after the “break in” period of a few thousand miles i can regularly get higher than 50mpg at speeds between 55-60mph ( it drops to mid to high 40s at higher speeds ).

on a recent trip through rolling hills of the driftless region i managed to get 57.9mpg after driving 90 miles.

and no i wasn’t doing any fancy hypermiling manual transmission moves. pretty amazing. i’m not sure what you with an automatic transmission so can’t say how much of the difference between the official numbers is a result of conservative reporting on volkwagen’s part or my super optimized manual transmission skills.

in the interest of full disclosure, kris took this picture while i was driving :-)

raising a more supportive treehouse support.

raising a more supportive treehouse support. I.

making progress on modification to treehouse deck supports. i pulled down one of the supports “sistered” on a 14 foot 2′x10′horizontal so the support would span the entire deck and doubled up the supports that go down to the bottom lag bolt so the entire support is twice and strong. and possibly the most important modification – 2 1′x1′ 3/8″ steel plates now help reinforce the bottom of the support.

but how to get it back up since it weighs almost 200 pounds and i didn’t want to almost nominate myself for another darwin award? i called in a crew to help! it took the four of us to pull up the support using a proper pulley and a “poor man’s pulley” built by tossing a rope around one of the deck joists.

at one points someone ( not me ) exclaimed, “i didn’t realize i have a phobia of standing under really heavy things that might fall and crush you.” ah, well, fears were overcome and we relatively quickly got the support back on the top threaded rod that goes through the whole tree.

i have to admit that for the entire winter when i was contemplating taking down the supports i thought there was a good chance the whole deck would come crashing down or for some reason or another the support wouldn’t go back in place. so to get it back in place was a tremendous relief.

thanks to joe, jason and david for the help!

raising a more supportive treehouse support. II.

i decided to reinforce the base of the support with steel plates. the way the physics of forces and pivots work, the base of the support is the most probable point of failure so adding the strength of steel makes me happy. many, many thanks to the fine folks at tollefson repair for custom fabricating the plates. the tollerances were perfectly tight.

raising a more supportive treehouse support. III.

d’oh! the 6″ 5/8″ carriage bolts that go through the steel places push the support away from the tree so the 3/4″ lag bolt will not go as far into the tree. i didn’t anticipate that. when i roughed it out the bolts didn’t rest againts the tree. oh well. the lag bolt still goes about 5 inches into the tree which is fine for now. it’s not going to just pop out. someday i might replace it with a longer bolt. for some reason i’d be happier with 9 inches in the tree.

whoohoo! after i secured the support i went up on the deck and making the support span the entire width of the deck has really made a difference. prior to lengthening the support you could feel the slightest “shimmy” when standing out on the farthest corners of the deck. i think it was perfectly safe if but slightly disconcerting. now no shimmy! and i’m much happier that the new support will stand the test of time at the weakest points. hurray!

raising a more supportive treehouse support. IV.

i think i’ll reinforce the second primary primary support on the other side of the deck over the next week and then we’ll be ready for movie screening season.

i have to admit, it’s still a thrill to stand up on the deck and be surrounded by the canopy of the trees. the furnishings are a little spartan for now but i’ll work on that after the second support is finished.

the pretty peony predictor predicted.

the pretty peony predictor predicted.

once again blooming peonies predicts a downpour strong enough to knock them down within 24 hours. happens every year.

frida’s post run cool down routine.

frida's post run cool down routine.

frida loves, loves, loves to go running with me. with the warmer weather, keeping her cool is important so it’s great that she also loves, loves, loves cooling down in the kiddy pool!

she usually goes 4 or 5 miles when the weather is cooler in the mornings or evenings. 3 miles if it’s during the heat of the day and she gets plenty of water. i think she’ll totally be game for 10-13 miles runs in the winter since she’s built for running the cold.

a malamute and chickens living in harmony?

a malamute and chickens living in harmony? I.

our dearly departed pushkin never gave a second thought to eating the hens, in fact, he was The Great Defender of All Members of The Pack and was known to shoo cats away who prowled around to give them trouble.

but we suspected frida, having the genetics of a very predatory malamute, might be tough to teach that the chickens were not food. so we started training her when they were chicks and while she tried super hard to be good, i wasn’t very confident that she’d be able to control herself outside when the were running around, scratching and pecking and clucking.

a malamute and chickens living in harmony? II.

they’ve been out in the chicken run surrounding the coop for afew months – which is plenty of space for them – but they’ve really been wanting to run around the yard to munch on bugs. so today i decided to let them out and see what would happen.

a malamute and chickens living in harmony? III.

while she was interested in what they were doing, i was very surprised to see her leave them alone. and even more surprised to see them walk up to her.

i’m not going to leave them along for any extended periods of time but i’m cautiously optimistic they might all live in harmony :-)

a pretty peony predictor.

a pretty peony predictor.

after the brutal winter, it’s looking like the peach tree didn’t make it but we do have a few peonies starting to bloom which means it’s time for a torrential downpour.

you might be in wisconsin if your doggie day care celebrates june dairy days.

you might be in wisconsin if your doggie day care celebrates june dairy days.

i picked up friday from doggie day care and was amused when they gave me a bag with treats and photograph of frida in celebration of dairy days which is part of national dairy month. farms across wisconsin host dairy day breakfasts which is a great way to get to know your local farmers.

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