Titan 2 launch

Teddy launching the Titan 2 under a Flowform 16.
Teddy launching the Titan 2 under a Flowform 16.

I almost didn’t make it to the farm yesterday because 1) one of my A590s died, 2) the old CHDK sync mode does not work with A590s, and 3) it took me a while to install and learn how to use the new CHDK. Teddy almost didn’t make it because I was not sufficiently explicit about which gate I meant and he waited at the other gate. But we were flying the Sutton Flowform 16 by 5:00 PM in a janky 15 mph north wind with gusts of 20 mph. The Titan 2 Rig made its maiden flight with two A590s triggered by an MK111 timer.

The Titan 2 Rig with two A590s triggered in sync by an MK111 timer.
The Titan 2 Rig with two A590s triggered in sync by an MK111 timer.

One of the A590s was full spectrum (its IR block filter had been removed), and it had a 720 nm IR filter in front of the lens. So that camera saw mostly near infrared light. I white balanced that camera on grass, and the photos have a little color in them. We took 565 pairs of visible/infrared pairs over the Middlebury College Organic Farm. The cameras were aimed straight down, but the wind was swinging the Picavet quite a bit, so we got lots of slightly oblique photos, and more than 100 of the pairs were before or after the flight part of the flight. The shutter speed on both cameras was locked at 1/800 second at ISO 80, and most of the photos were taken at f 2.8. Some of the NIR photos were taken at f 2.6 (the max aperture), but there was not much difference in exposure between the two cameras. About 80% of the photos have no conspicuous motion blur. Continue reading “Titan 2 launch”

Pleurotus

The fallen aspen tree spanning my pond. Dinner was the second cluster from the left.
The fallen aspen tree spanning my pond. Dinner was the second cluster from the left.
Just sauteed in butter on freshly baked bread.
Just sauteed in butter on freshly baked bread.

A year ago on my birthday Galen gave me the 2006 update to Orson Miller’s mushroom field guide, with no knowledge that I had the old one or a dozen other mushroom books. This year he gave me Eugenia Bone’s 2011 Mycophilia, with no knowledge that it is a wonderfully smart and funny book about mushrooms and the people who make and use knowledge about mushrooms. I am reading it now, so when I noticed the profusion of oyster mushrooms sprouting from the aspen log across the pond, I was primed to act.

The common oyster mushroom is Pleurotus ostreatus, but there is apparently an almost indistinguishable species around here that likes aspens and cottonwoods, so this might be Pleurotus populinus. That made it more exciting to have it for dinner since I really didn’t know what species it was. It was also exciting because it was an excellent dinner.

Graft

Black Prince, a variety of Russian Krim tomato that I tried for the first time this year.
Black Prince, a variety of Russian Krim tomato that I tried for the first time this year. September 14.
I first heard about grafting tomato plants two years ago, but hot house tomato growers have been doing it for a while, and in other countries grafting has been an important way to increase vegetable production for decades. It was so important in Japan that a robotic grafting machine was developed in 1993. By grafting desirable tomato varieties onto selected rootstocks, generally increased vigor and also specific resistance to root-borne diseases is gained. My tomatoes have failed in two of of the last four years, so I decided to try grafting last year. Continue reading “Graft”

Buddles

Click photos to enlarge.

Stream in Soldiers Delight. I can't remember where this is. Fall 1973.
Stream in Soldiers Delight. I can’t remember exactly where this is. Fall 1973.

As a kid, my favorite thing about Soldiers Delight was playing in the streams. They were very different from all other streams I knew, which were muddy. In Baltimore County walking in a stream generally meant walking in mud. The water in Soldiers Delight streams was clear, and the stream bottoms were mostly stoney. The stream banks were also grassy and sunny. Streams elsewhere could be sunny, but even managed streams through pastures or parks were often lined with a thicket of woody plants. At Soldiers Delight long stretches of streams were lined only with tall grasses and wildflowers. Plus there were minnows and frogs and snakes. These were great streams. Continue reading “Buddles”

Arrested development

Click photos to enlarge.

Entrance to the Choate mine.
Entrance to the Choate chromite mine at Soldiers Delight in Maryland. Fall 1973.
Entrance to the Choate mine.
Entrance to the Choate mine. Although trash was being removed from the area, fresh appliances had been dumped above the entrance. Fall 1973.

Soldiers Delight would be a lot less interesting to some were it not for its contribution to the economic history of Baltimore County, Maryland. Serpentine outcrops including Soldiers Delight, Bare Hills, and the State Line Barrens in Pennsylvania supplied most of the world’s chromium ore in the mid 19th century. Issac Tyson, and later his sons, owned land and operated mines at these places, shipping all the chromite to Baltimore and monopolizing the industry from the 1820s until after the Civil War. But the long term impact of this activity may have been more ecological than economic. Continue reading “Arrested development”

Red Dog Redux

Click photos to enlarge

Red Dog Lodge in December 1967. Photo by Ellis J. Malashuk.
Red Dog Lodge in December 1967. This is the crop marked on the print I bought (see below) of a photo taken by Ellis J. Malashuk, December 7, 1967.
I was really pleased to learn that the archive of my own black and white negatives includes a 1973 photo of Red Dog Lodge. But last week I found a 1967 photo for sale on eBay, and it’s much better than mine. It was taken for an article that ran in the Baltimore Sunday Sun Recreation section (page 11) on December 10, 1967. I inferred that from notes and stamps on the back of the photo, and from a citation of a Paul Wilkes article “Campaign to Save Soldiers Delight” from that date. Continue reading “Red Dog Redux”

Marker historical

Click photos to enlarge.
<em>The Soldiers Delight historical marker in 1969.</em>
The Soldiers Delight historical marker in 1969.

The Maryland Historical Society installed the Soldiers Delight historical marker in 1968. It looks brand new in the 1969 photo from The Baltimore Sun archives, and it appears to be on the west side of Deer Park Road near the overlook. I photographed the marker in 1973 when it appears to be on the opposite side of the road. It also appears to have been repaired after being broken off the post. I found a recent photo from August 2009 showing a completely new sign now back on the west side of the road next to the overlook parking. The wording of the sign has not changed, only the number of paragraphs and the number of spelling errors. Continue reading “Marker historical”

Seldom scene

Click photos to enlarge.

A mouse eared chickweed at Soldiers Delight. I don't know which species this is.
A mouse eared chickweed at Soldiers Delight. I don’t know which species this is. Spring 1975.
There are portraits of more than a dozen species of plant among my old negatives of Soldiers Delight. Most of these are characteristic plants of the barrens, like post oak, blue stem, and moss phlox. A few photos are of plants that are uncommon in Maryland except on serpentine. I don’t know these plants well enough to be sure of the identification, and some might be impossible to indentify just from photos. I photographed these between 1973 and 1975 before I paid very close attention to plant names, but I must have been aware that certain species were special at Soldiers Delight. Continue reading “Seldom scene”

Assay office

Click to enlarge photos

Assay office and goldenrod. Fall 1974.
Assay office and goldenrod. Fall 1974.
Land purchased by the State of Maryland for the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area included two historic buildings: Red Dog Lodge and a log cabin said to have been built in 1848. The lore is that the cabin was used as an assay office for the Tyson chromite mining operation. It was apparently well maintained for most of its decades and was well preserved when I photographed it in the fall of 1974 before much restoration had been done. There were no windows or doors, but it had a real foundation (maybe even a cellar), intact chinking, and a mostly functioning roof.
Assay office. Fall 1974.
Assay office and bristlegrass. There seems to be some light leakage at the top of this and other frames, I guess from worn out bulk-loaded cassettes. Fall 1974.
Soldiers Delight’s first ranger, E. Vernon Tracy, organized some restoration, and by the spring of 1975 the windows and doors were boarded up and it had a new roof, or at least a different roof. In 1974 there was a patched composition shingle roof, and in 1975 there appeared to be a wood shake roof, but not necessarily a brand new one. So I’m not sure what changed. Continue reading “Assay office”

Stemming the tide

Below is a diagram that was never shown to me in science class. Alfred Wegener proposed his theory of continental drift in 1912, but it was not until 1960 that most scientists began to accept the new paradigm that continents move around. The idea of crust formation at mid ocean ridges came even later in 1966. So when scientists and teachers in the 1950s and 1960s presented a story about the serpentine rock underlying Soldiers Delight, they got it wrong. Serpentinite is formed in the lower oceanic crust, typically at the mid ocean spreading centers. That’s where it picks up its heavy minerals, like chromium, nickel, and magnesium, which are more abundant in the mantle and deep crust. When Africa floated over here 300 million years ago, a little bit of this oceanic rock got pushed along with it and ended up in the Appalachian Mountains, and in Soldiers Delight. Nobody knew that in 1960.

Click images to enlarge

A diagram of magma rising through the mantle and forming new oceanic crust at a mid ocean rise. This is where serpentinite is formed.
A diagram of magma rising through the mantle and forming new oceanic crust at a mid ocean rise. This is where serpentinite is formed.
Continue reading “Stemming the tide”

Red Dog Lodge

Click photos to enlarge

Red Dog Lodge in a recent photo from the SDCI web site.
Red Dog Lodge in a recent photo from the SDCI web site. Both benches have plaques on them, I think one of them has my mother’s name on it.

Red Dog Lodge was built in 1912 as a hunting lodge and has been a symbol of Soldiers Delight for me since I started meeting, playing, and hiking there when I was a kid in the 1950s. It always seemed like a place with secrets, a place where men once did things that weren’t done anymore, things that Tom Sawyer would know about because he had seen them in a book. It was built for Mr. Dolfield, who gave his name to the road I grew up on, and also for the namesake of Sherwood Hill Road where our three-letter friends the Lees and the Coes lived. I knew Mr. Hibline who used the lodge after World War II, but I never knew that he was a person who used it, or what it was used for. It never occurred to me that somebody owned it. So I didn’t know much at all, but it was always good to be at Red Dog Lodge. Continue reading “Red Dog Lodge”