Analyze the Data not the Drivel

Recent Images

  • The snow coach stopped just before we dropped down off the Yellowstone plateau. This was my last picture of the park. I’ll be back: perhaps next winter.

  • Snow, steam, water and sun.

  • When we moved into our house we had a couch and a mattress. We’ve been slowly filling the place ever since. The other day Mali picked up this chicken sculpture. Mali’s mother Mahin was fond of chickens and it reminds both of us of her when we look at it.

  • Bacteria mats near the paint pots on the way to Mammoth. The bacteria mats around some Yellowstone thermal features look like abstract paintings. The mats in winter are a rare mixture of ice, warm water, and color.

  • This was the first time I had strapped on cross-country skis in over a decade. For me, cross country skiing is not like riding a bicycle, I didn’t learn until late in life, and I was never particularly good at it. Nevertheless, I managed an entire afternoon on the trails without falling once. Near the end of the day, I was sliding back into a gliding groove. Skiing by erupting geysers was a new experience: definitely worth the effort.

  • Since moving into our house we have been making many trips to local big box hardware stores. It’s a side effect of having no furniture, blinds, curtains, snow shovels, screwdrivers, and so on. On this trip, this display of paint tones caught my eye. I have frequently remarked that commercial displays often equal or exceed what passes for art these days.

  • Old Faithful geyser exceeding all expectations. I knew winter eruptions would be more dramatic but I was surprised by how much. The plume here is at least three times higher than a typical summer eruption. I would estimate its height at around 200 meters. The historic Old Faithful Lodge is a three story building in the lower right and it is completely dwarfed by the plume.

  • Mary Theresa Rock 1861-1945 was the mother of my grandmother Helen. Mary died before I was born so I never met this great-grandmother. I have only one small print of Mary. I extracted it from a bedside picture frame that Helen kept. Quoting from Leone Johns’ brief family history, “Mary was born in Derby, Vt. on February 18, 1861, and died on January 20, 1945, in Livingston, Montana. She came to Glendive in 1882 and married Gilbert Nelson Burdick on August 13, 1884, and bore eight children; Earl Vincent (Ted), Jennie Ann, Mary Agnes (Dolly), Francis, Charles Gilbert (Sonny), Geneva, Julia (Margot) and Helen. She also raised three grandchildren; Leone and Georgia Johns and Alice Burdick. She was a very strong woman and controlled the money and property of the family.” You know how women frequently complain that modern men are whiny pussy boys compared to the burly men of yore. Well, the same holds for women. Mary was clearly badass by modern standards and woman to the core. Mary's print isn't dated but I am guessing she is around seventy in this picture giving an approximate date of 1930.

  • William Baker 1873-1951 was the father of my grandfather Frank. William died before I was born so I never met this great-grandfather. I recently asked my own father if he remembered anything about William. He recalled that Bill, as he called him, worked as a conductor for the Northern Pacific railroad until he was well into his seventies. He didn’t seem to recall much else which surprised me; my dad was well into his teens when William died. I don’t know how my grandfather Frank and William got along. They both worked for the same railroad company so I presume William helped my grandfather get his first job. There is no date on the original print but William looks at least seventy in this picture so it must have been taken in the late 1940s.

  • I am still exploring the Affinity Photo image editor. I used it to restore this scan of a Kodachrome slide my father shot from a hotel window of the south coast of Beirut Lebanon in 1968. The Continental Hotel is visible in the lower left corner of this image. My mother often stayed in the Continental when she visited me in Beirut. I fondly remember having continental breakfast in the Continental. The original slide was overexposed and covered with splotches and sky fingerprints. The retouching tools in Affinity Photo are better than corresponding tools in Photoshop Elements. I particularly like the Affinity inpainting brush; it works well on textured and linear subjects. I was able to remove long scratches cutting through the buildings in this image without unduly wreaking building detail. I also used the inpainting tool to remove a cutoff street light and a car it was shading on the bottom of the image. It's easier to remove objects with Affinity Photo than it is in Photoshop Elements.

  • Pure pine powder puffs please people.

  • These large rounded boulders were deposited by Lake Bonneville floods about twelve thousand years ago. Salt Lake used to be “Yuge” but it overflowed in the north, near current day Provo, and discharged a great lakes worth of water down the Snake River. The flood rolled truck-sized chunks of volcanic canyon wall rocks along the river channel like stream gravel. When the flood ended the large rocks stayed right where you see them.

  • It was cold during our visit but not that cold. Temperatures varied between -10C and -20C: basically nice skiing weather. I don’t agree with this Madison Junction thermometer: manly (extreme) cold starts where Fahrenheit and Celsius cross at -40C.

  • Condensing thermal steam turns ordinary signs into delicate ice sculptures.

  • Ghost trees.

  • Winter driving is no problem with the right equipment.

  • Yellowstone Snow Lodge Lobby. The Snow Lodge is the only hotel open in Yellowstone in the winter. The Snow Lodge differs from most hotels in that there are no TVs in the rooms. This gets people out of their rooms and down into the lobby and other common areas. It’s like hotels used to be a century ago. One of the most popular hangouts was right beside the lobby fireplace.

  • For our fifteenth wedding anniversary, we went to Yellowstone in the winter. Yellowstone in winter has been on my bucket list for many years. Park roads are closed during the winter. To see the park you need to ride a snow coach, a snowmobile, or strap on Nordic skis. A few years before my mother died we had scheduled a trip but our snow coach broke down and we had to cancel. My mom lived near Yellowstone most of her life but never made it to the park in the winter. This winter, partly to complete the trip my mother missed, and also to celebrate our move to the mountain west, I decided to go cross country skiing in Yellowstone. Mali didn’t really want to go. She doesn’t like snow and cold weather; this was her first time on cross country skis. Yellowstone wasn’t her first choice but the park’s awesome winter beauty almost made here forget about the -20C weather.

  • My grandmother Helen and her daughter Janice sometime in the late 1920s. Janice was my father’s sister. He never met her because Janice drowned in the Yellowstone River when she was about seven years old. Janice looks about five or six here so this must have been about two years before her tragic death. Janice’s death shook my paternal grandparents; they never completely got over it. When my dad was born Helen didn’t let him out of her sight; he didn’t enjoy the freedom of his friends because Helen was terrified something would happen to him like Janice. She was still overprotective when I came along. I sometimes wonder how different my father’s life would have been if Janice had lived.

  • My father Frank as a six year old. He really rocked the Tom Sawyer look.

  • My father Frank, just shy of fifteen years of age, fishing in the Livingston Montana Trout Derby in August of 1948. I found this old print this last summer while searching through my Grandmother Helen’s papers.

  • I am still experimenting with Affinity Photo. A good way to master a new set of tools is to push pixels until something emerges.

  • Boxing Day at Bogus Basin. The day after Christmas we drove up to Bogus Basin. Bogus Basin is about twenty kilometers north of Boise. It’s a popular nearby ski area. The snow and weather conditions were nearly perfect: blue skies, deep mountain powder, and ski cold.

  • This was the first weekend we got out and started exploring the landscape around Boise. Here I am standing at Dedication Point on the northern side of the Snake River Canyon. The Snake River plain is covered with young, (for rocks), basalt and rhyolite lava flows that have repeatedly blocked the Snake River. The river keeps patiently cutting through the rock. In a mere million years it has cut the canyon behind me. The land around Dedication Point is a major bird of prey nesting area. Hawks, peregrines, and eagles set up nests on the canyon cliffs and feed their chicks a prairie dog enriched diet. Dedication Point is also used as a dark sky observing site for the local amateur astronomy society. The view to the south should be pretty dark. There are no close cities or towns to the south. The north will be compromised by Boise’s lights.

  • Pausing people ponder popping putrid paint pots.

  • I knew the steam from Yellowstone’s thermal features would be more dramatic in winter but it’s how condensing steam coats surrounding trees that really delighted me.

  • Bison spend most of their waking winter hours plowing snow with their heads. They have to push the snow aside to get at frozen edible plants.

  • Mali beside paint pots in winter. She’s not a fan of cold weather and frequently reminded me of that fact. Here, she braved the weather to visit the paint pots. Paint pots, as I have noted before, are insanely popular. Even in winter people will trundle around in the -20C weather, risking life and limb on ice laden walkways, to see the paint pots pop.

  • The original Old Faithful Lodge is shuttered during winter. All it needs is a caretaker soliciting feedback on his five hundred page opus of “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” to complete the milieu.

  • A three frame handheld panorama of an erupting Yellowstone geyser behind a snow covered pine. I used Affinity Photo to directly build this image from NEF files. The highlights in the brightest parts of the geyser plume are blown. I could probably recover highlight detail by processing each frame before panorama stitching.

  • Eliza Jane Gilbert 1840-1915. This summer I started going through my maternal grandmother Helen’s pictures and papers. Helen wasn’t an exuberant photographer like Hazel. Hazel was always trying to capture candid, sometimes goofy, pictures of people. Helen was more restrained and dignified. Helen would have abhorred the selfie whoring so common today. Restraint is often dull but Helen compensated with superior organization and documentation. Most of her pictures are clearly labeled and dated with some serious exceptions and we are looking at one. In one of her old boxes labeled “Grandparents” I found four portraits. All four were modern copies of originals. It looks like they were pictures of pictures. Two pictures were labeled “Augustus A. Burdick” and “Julia Ann Weber Rock” Augustus and Julia were two of Helen’s grandparents so I presume the other two pictures were her other grandparents: Eliza Jane Gilbert and Norman Nelson Rock. I am very confident the woman in this picture is Eliza as I have another picture of her sitting with her son, Tilly, and Leone. Eliza was a civil war widow. Her husband was killed when she was twenty-four. I am not sure if she ever remarried. Eliza looks about forty in this picture implying it was taken around 1880.

  • For some restorations, the ones that please or annoy me, I create a before and after diptych. I want to convince myself that my restoration work was worthwhile. Most of the time the restored image is better but in more cases than I would like the original scan is superior. And, every now and then, I cannot decide which one I like the best. This rendering of an old faded patterned print of my mother as a baby is one of those images. The original print is on patterned paper. The pattern imparts a quality that the restoration lacks. Ansel Adams once wrote that the negative is the score and the print is the performance. For restorers, the scan is the score and the restoration is the performance. Sometimes the music is glorious and clear and sometimes it's rap – rhymes with crap!

  • Lydia Ayres 1839-1875 was the wife of Albert Raver and the mother of Bert Raver. Bert was one of my great grandfathers making Lydia a great-great-grandmother. Albert and Lydia were about the same age and he was born in 1838. I would estimate Lydia is about thirty in this picture implying it was taken around 1870.

  • Looking west from just outside the eastern side of Glacier National Park near Saint Mary. The weather was grim and dark, just the way I like it when I braved the rain to snap the frames that went into this panorama. I built this panorama directly from Nikon NEF files in the Windows version of Affinity Photo. My favorite image processor, Picture Window Pro, is being retired and I am exploring alternatives. I rather like this result.

  • Early 21st-century western civilization is swamped with earnest humorless feminized busybodies as this little tableau aptly illustrates. First, observe the blue “rape pole.” College campuses all over the US and Canada sport forests of blue rape poles. Apparently, university grounds are seething hotbeds of rapists because rape poles are rare off campus. Beside the rape pole stands a sign listing irritating redundant instructions on how to behave in a public park. Biking over people and leaving dog shit around is considered rude! I would have never guessed this on my own. The only useful sign here is the greenbelt map.

  • I have a new hobby: collecting library cards. Currently, I have five valid library cards. It’s one of the perks of frequent moves. For the most part, the US is a decaying Hildabeast, Trumpkin, and social justice warrior infested dystopian hellscape but public libraries are bucking the apocalyptic trend. All of these public systems are good to excellent. In the last ten years, I have been favorably impressed by US public libraries all over the country. Even microscopic small towns like Bluffton Indiana have excellent public libraries. In fact, tiny little Bluffton’s public library was better than any public library in Ottawa Canada which is a national capital and should have but doesn’t excellent public libraries. Perhaps Hell has superb libraries which begs the question is eternal damnation really all that bad for readers?

  • The boardwalks snaking through the Old Faithful geyser basin protect snow from warm geyser runoff. In many areas, the snow on the boardwalk is deeper than the surrounding basin. I enjoyed the extra two to three feet of height the packed snow afforded; the extra height helped with framing pictures.

  • The single biggest difference between Yellowstone in the winter and other seasons is the huge difference in the number of visitors. This is the main road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful. The road isn’t plowed: the snow is packed and groomed and traffic is restricted to snow coaches and guided snowmobiles. During the summer you would be run over if you stood in the middle of this road to take pictures. During the winter you can enjoy the solitude and silence.

  • After spending a few hours walking around the Old Faithful geyser basin near sunset I headed back to the Snow Lodge. On the way back I caught one last eruption of Old Faithful near sunset. It was a small eruption but it was still a nice way to end the day.

  • Our ride back to Mammoth. The four wheel drive snow coaches have gigantic low-pressure tires that don’t sink into the packed snow roads. They only go about thirty kilometers per hour which makes for leisurely trips. The almost complete lack of traffic on winter roads is a dramatic contrast to the summer. When the coaches stop and turn off their engines the silence of the park, even in the middle of the road, is striking.

  • Yellowstone’s Grand Geyser entertaining photographers near Old Faithful. There are far fewer winter Yellowstone visitors than summer visitors. Last season (spring, summer, and fall) about four million people visited Yellowstone. Less than one hundred thousand visit during the winter. Winter visitors break down into three basic groups: photographers, snowmobile riders, and Nordic skiers.

  • Snow laden trees in geyser mist.

  • Helen, Frank, and Charles (Sonny) Burdick sitting in Wilcoxson booths on July 4th, 1959. Sonny was one of Helen’s brothers. When I was a child I wasn’t entirely sure how my great uncles, aunts and second cousins related to each other. I’m pretty sure I never appreciated Helen’s relation to Sonny but I do remember these old Wilcoxson booths. Having ice cream at Wilcoxson’s was a sublime, life altering delight. Wilcoxson’s got started in Livingston. It was a small family run ice cream parlor: very much in the “Wonderful Life” style. Later the company was bought out and today Wilcoxson is another bland, dime-a-dozen, corporate brand. In those days, when visiting grandparents, I used to look forward to sliding into one of these booths and enjoying the finest root beer floats on the planet. Then, one year, with no warning, the booths disappeared. I was told that they weren’t modern enough; that people actually complained about them! What monsters are loose on this planet?

  • My mother Evelyn at seven weeks in August of 1935. This old print of Hazel’s was printed on patterned paper. The entire surface was covered with tiny regular hexagons. Printing on patterned paper was done for two reasons: some people liked the look, and it made it very difficult to copy the print without going back to the negative which was typically held by the photography studio that made the print. It was a different world in 1935. I rather like the look of patterned prints but until I started using Affinity Photo it was a bitch to retouch patterned images. One of the neater filters in Affinity Photo uses the Fast Fourier Transform to convert an image into the frequency domain. In this representation, regular patterns show up as symmetric dots around the central frequency. Removing the pattern is a simple matter of clicking on the surrounding dots and applying the filter. Removing regular patterns tends to soften the image but far less than standard blurs.

  • Julia Ann Weber Rock 1829-1906 was one of my great-great-grandmothers. Quoting from Leone Johns’ genealogy, “She was born in Darmstadt, Germany in 1829 and died in Glendive Montana on April 3, 1906. She came to Derby in 1854 where she married Norma Nelson Rock. She came to Glendive in 1882 with her daughter, Mary, and son, Joseph.” There is no date on the photograph I have which is a copy of the original, but I would guess Julia was around sixty-five when this photograph was taken giving an approximate date of 1894.

  • I never tire of fresh snow powder in sunlight.

  • We finally took a stroll on the Boise Greenbelt trail. The greenbelt trail follows the Boise River through the city and connects a number of parks, the university grounds, and the zoo. The Boise River appears to be a popular fishing river; I spotted eight guys in the water, or along the shore, trying their luck.

  • Aileen in a walkthrough fountain.

  • On our first morning at Old Faithful I headed out in the -20C weather to enjoy an eruption. Old Faithful is one of the most heavily visited sites in Yellowstone. Tens of millions of people have stood on the boardwalks near the geyser and enjoyed eruptions. During the summer thousands of people are usually on these boardwalks. This morning it was me and this raven! We were the only vertebrates on the boardwalk and had Old Faithful all to ourselves. Now that’s a National Park experience.

  • Yellowstone’s winter visitors differ from the summer hordes. There are far fewer screeching bored kids complaining about cell phone data connection speeds and a lot more semi-serious photographers. I felt right at home. Here a bunch of photographers stopped to shoot “ghost trees.” The snow and perpetual geyser mist results in exquisite frost, snow, and ice on barren trees.

  • Riverside Geyser. I had never seen this geyser erupt. It put on a fine show.

  • Trumpeter Swans: an adult and three cygnets. I’ve visited Yellowstone dozens of times but I’ve never seen Trumpeters. They frequent the park’s open waters in the winter.

  • Hanging on the walls of the restaurant in the Mammoth Hot Spring Hotel in Yellowstone are prints of old photographs taken around the turn the 19th and 20th centuries. This picture is of a group of tourists posing on the Mammoth terraces. A number of things stand out. Tourists of that era dressed a lot better than modern tourists. They also put more effort into posing and composing photographs. The selfie has not improved photography. Finally, they got away with things that are illegal today: you cannot climb on the fragile Mammoth terraces to pose in 2017. It’s a good way to get detained, fined and expelled from the park.

  • Yellowstone geysers in winter are stunning and beautiful spectacles. I’ve visited the Old Faithful geyser basin dozens of times but I was completely taken by the basin in winter. I was fortunate to catch a Grand Geyser eruption; I had never seen this one go off before and I doubt I will ever see it like this again.

  • I admire old portraits; people got dressed up and behaved themselves. I found this old mounted portrait in my Grandmother Helen’s papers. The back of the picture listed the people as “Dad, Grandma, Tilly, and Leone.” The man is Gilbert Nelson Burdick, 1858-1935. Gilbert was Helen’s father and one of my great-grandfathers. The young woman in the back must be Tilly. I have no idea who Tilly was. The older woman in black must be Eliza Jane Gilbert 1840-1915. Eliza was the wife of Augustus A. Burdick. At first, I thought this was unlikely as she does not look old enough but then I checked Eliza’s birth date: she was twenty-four when Augustus was killed. Augustus was nine years older. Eliza died in 1915 so this was taken a few years before her death. She must be in her seventies here. The child in the picture, Leone, was born in 1910. She looks about four years old here so this portrait was made around 1914. Leone latter composed a brief family history that I have been using to disambiguate these old pictures. Thank you, Leone.

  • My sister Aileen standing in front of the small Redwash Utah oilfield camp house we lived in during the early 1960s. For years I had only a small crummy black and white print of this house. Then, this summer, I went through my paternal grandmother Helen’s albums for the first time. Helen’s pictures were neatly stashed in unlabeled cardboard boxes and hidden away for decades. I am pretty sure I was the first person to look at them in thirty years. Among Helen’s photos were a series of Instamatic color prints taken around Redwash. Helen took good care of her pictures. The prints are in excellent condition and like most Kodak prints of that time the borders had dates. This print was made in April 1963.

  • This portrait of Augustus A. Burdick 1831-1864 is the oldest family picture I have found so far. Augustus Burdick was the grandfather of my grandmother Helen, making him one of my great-great-grandfathers. Augustus was killed in 1864 during the US Civil War. I actually know a little about Augustus because of Leone Johns, one of Helen’s nieces, compiled a brief family genealogy. In this document, Leone quoted a letter from the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Shiloh National Military Park, and Shiloh Tennessee. “Augustus A. Burdick, age 31, Residence Decorah, Iowa, Mustered in service March 26, 1863, Commissioned 1st Lieutenant February 25, 1864, killed at Tupelo, Mississippi, July 14, 1864, buried in Corinth Mississippi National Cemetery. Lieutenant Burdick’s death is described by regimental commander, Col. Joseph Woods in volume 39, series I of War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, War Dept., Washington, 1892. Lieutenant A. A. Burdick, acting regimental quartermaster, who was killed, had been ordered to the rear with his train; but after seeing his wagon properly parked, he came to the front and volunteered to assist in bringing forward ammunition. While thus engaged he was struck by a shell and instantly killed.”

  • Bogus Basin lift queues. Ski hills are fun factories. You will never find happier lines of people than skiers awaiting lift.

  • One of the great raging American controversies is whether raw milk, one of the most dangerous fluids known, should be retailed to the trumpen-proletariat. Idaho, a leading flyover state, populated by roving bands of deplorables, has decided that people should be free to purchase raw milk. Other states opt for strict regulation of this dangerous substance. Beverage choice must be regulated for the common good. It’s crap like this that led to Trump. Here’s the correct philosophy: regulation should only be enacted when there is an overwhelming public interest. Otherwise “freedom” is a meaningless buzz word.

  • My sister Aileen (blue hat sunglasses), beside my mother Evelyn (sunglasses center), and my brother Steve (blue t-shirt), on the equator in Kenya during a 1976 safari trip. I don’t know the other three people in the picture.





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