the sky crane and the bus

Helicopters are cool, and Soviet military aircraft are cool, and sky cranes are cool, so a Mil Mi-10 Soviet military sky crane is by definition very cool indeed.  Plus, I like buses and this Mi-10 is getting ready to carry a great looking bus.Mil and BusSo yeah, I was going to post this picture of the sky crane and the bus way back in the mid 60s, and you were going to think it was awesome, or at least moderately entertaining, and that was going to be it for the day.

But then I started doing a bit of research and things got really fun.  Because the Mi-10 and Bus combo is iconic.  The Mi-10 and the Bus are a thing.  They go together like peanut butter and jelly.  You very seldom see an image of the Mi-10 flying without a load (apparently it was an ill handling beast without one) and while it can carry tanks and prefab houses and large pieces of unidentifiable but vaguely menacing Soviet equipment, it was usually paired with a bus when posing for pictures.  The bus is even in its standard painting profile, which depicts the scene above from the 1965 Paris Air Show.Mil and Bus 2

The Mi-10 (NATO reporting name “Harke”) was a variant of the classic Mi-6 “Hook”, the standard Soviet heavy lift helicopter for both military and civilian purposes.  These were the largest helicopters in the world in their day, and were made in great numbers.  (They were real workhorses and many Hooks are still in service today.)  Here’s the same Mi-10 flying in the other direction with a different bus.Mil and Bus 3The Mi-10 and the Bus were even immortalized on a stamp.

Mil and Bus 5 -stamp

To fully immerse yourself in the whole Mi-10 and Bus experience, watch this video clip from a British newsreel showing an actual M1-10 and Bus takeoff! Mil and Bus 4 Plus there are stupid puns!  This will be the best 32 seconds you’ve spent watching YouTube videos of buses flying on giant Soviet helicopters in the 1960s.

The bus in the video appears to be a British volunteer bus, but the Soviet bus in all the classic Mi-10 and Bus images is the LAZ 697 “Turist”, the panoramic window touring variation of the classic LAZ model 695 city bus, which was the ubiquitous everyday street bus of the Soviet Union.  This bus was produced in the Lviv Bus Plant LAZ from 1956 to 2006, the longest production run of any single vehicle ever.  There were a number of variations, of which the Turist was the top of the line.  This is a true classic bus.

So thank you, sky crane and bus, for leading us to the story of an obscure but magnificent teamup in the shared history of air and ground transportation.  What a great reason to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon doing internet research.Mil and Bus- Paris airshow

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alligator pears and other kinds of pears and also sparrow grass

Polaroid CUBE Winter drags on and on and photographers are getting desperate enough to shoot with Polaroid Cube toy cameras in the produce department of the butcher shop.  (Not even the grocery store.  Sheesh.)  It’s hardly exploring the farmer’s market with the new 30mm prime, but I guess we will take what we will get.

This meager collection was inspired by the amusing juxtaposition of the Hess avocados and the Forelle pears (guest starring green peppers and plum tomatoes) .  As word lovers know, the avocado is also called the alligator pear, and that name used to be in common use before Americans got comfortable with calling “exotic” foods by “foreign” names.  A few experiences with really good guacamole did a lot to acclimate people.  Consult the Wikipedia for more on the etymology of the word “avocado”: the relationship with the Romance languages’ word for lawyer is mostly a coincidence, and the word “guacamole” itself has impeccable indigenous roots.  And asparagus used to be called “sparrow grass”.Polaroid CUBEI have no idea if $2.99 a pound is a good price, but it looked very pretty.  As did the Brussels sprouts, which is enough to tell you that spring better get here fast.  If Brussels sprouts are starting to look good to me …

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best of the drawing of the day, week 152: my sidekick

drawingoftheday-week152-sidekick“My sidekick is unsubtle and wears an oddly colorful uniform.”

You should talk, dude.  You are a sphinx.  That will stand out in a crowd in most neighborhoods.

One of the conventions of the superhero genre is that if a partnership is made up of a baseline human and someone of a variant body type, the baseliner is always the hero and the other guy is automatically the sidekick.  In sketchbook world, this isn’t always the case.  The older, wiser, and yes, more subtle lead partner here is definitely the sphinx.  The kid seems to have taken their badge a bit too literally and worked it into a full fledged supercostume.

Or maybe that’s the standard uniform for all baseline types and the sphinx, sasquatches, mammoths, etc.  just count themselves lucky to be able to avoid it for cultural reasons.  Can’t you just hear this guy intoning “It is not the custom of my people to wear clothing” like some kind of furry Vulcan?  Of course it’s probably not the custom of his people to grow little hipster soul patch beards either, but we’ll let that slide.

(The gloves, apparently, are not optional.)

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farewell to top gear

Unless you have been living under a rock with no internet connection, have no interest in cars or British TV shows, or all three, it won’t be news to you that Jeremy Clarkson has been fired from Top Gear,  that James May and Richard Hammond have said they won’t continue without him, and that the show as we know it is no more.  (If you hadn’t heard, sorry to have to break it to you.)

Obviously, this is sad news, but please don’t add me to the list of people who think Clarkson should be given another chance.  Granted, he has always been an edgy performer with more than a bit of a temper.  That’s why we like him so much.  And we’ve been hearing for a while that his off camera rants and tantrums have been getting more extreme.  But yelling and (highly) questionable remarks are one thing and *punching a long time co-worker in the face* is another.  I don’t care how big a star you are, or how popular your TV program is, or even how entertaining I personally find your work– if you punch somebody in the face at work, you should get fired.

All good things must come to an end, and I’m not the only person who thought the show had lost a step in the last few seasons. There were still brilliant moments, and Top Gear was always worth watching,  but you couldn’t help wondering how much longer it could go on.  That question has been answered, and no matter how unfortunate the circumstances were, they weren’t boring.  And on that bombshell, we say goodbye to our favorite television show.



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spicy hungarian brushpile limousine

Spicy Hungarian brushpile limousine.  There’s a zesty group of English words.  And it’s so much more interesting than saying “here are two photographs I took recently with my Polaroid Cube toy camera”.Polaroid CUBEPolaroid CUBE Someday I’m going to have to explore my fascination with photographing our curbside brushpiles.  This one is particularly significant since it consists of the remains of the Big Scary Branch that fell onto the roof of the house during one of the heavy blizzards early in the year.  It had to stay there until about a week and a half ago because of the weather and we had been obsessing about it for all those months.  Spring was not really going to start for us until we got the Big Scary Branch off the roof.  It took a fair amount of work and engineering to get it reduced to its components in brushpile form, and I think it looks much better this way.

The limousine is parked across the street to get it out of the potential branch crash area.

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a spring donkey

The donkey may not be one of the accepted symbols of springtime, but this one was a very good model for one of my first outdoor shoots of the year.  And frankly, wouldn’t you rather see a donkey than a crocus?  It’s a pity there’s no way to add the sound of the little guy braying.   I bet a crocus never makes a melodious racket like that.

For photo geeks :Pentax K-5iis (Kilo)/Pentax DA*55mm f/1.4, 1/250, f/2.8, ISO 100.

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things to think about: the multiverse

It’s no secret that I’m wrangling a multiverse here: it’s called the Knotted Rope and it’s much less scientific than, well, folkloric (if that’s even a word outside the late lamented Car Talk).  I’ve never been too concerned about how it all works.  The vast majority of it is a hand-wavy “out there somewhere”. I concern myself primarily with the particular timestream that holds Kekionga, with the cockeyed, collective unconscious-style “spirit plane” the whole Knotted Rope shares, which we call, creatively, The Other Place, and with a couple of other settings you see mostly in the sketchbooks at this point.   I do know a few things about the rest of it, and it’s a pretty big rest of it, though it exists for me primarily as a source of story ideas.  And story ideas for sub plots at that.

But even worldbuilders of a quotidian bent sometimes enjoy stretching their brains to fit some of the bigger ideas that underlie the multiverse concept, and this post on today’s io9 is full of opportunities for mental yoga.  I’ve been thinking about this stuff all day.  Don’t take the title too seriously– these aren’t necessarily “weird” implications of the many worlds interpretation.  I think they are pretty natural conclusions to draw if you are willing to accept (even if just for the sake of argument) that you live in a multiverse.  Plus there are interesting links and some pretty illustrations, though none of them look as good as the Knotted Rope does in my mind.

Finally, don’t assume that in recommending this I am endorsing the physics.  Quantum physics as applied to the real world does not agree with me– where I live it’s all nicely Newtonian and that’s the way I like it!

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“just post a picture of the dog”

When in doubt, just post a picture of the dog.  On a whim, I chose the least-used camera in the house: the one in my tablet.  (OK, I’ve never used it.)  While trolling through its unfamilar settings, I found the “cartoon” feature, and made this low light, highly posterized double portrait of my husband with the dire corgi.20150322_194146

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at the movies: the gunman

One of the drawbacks of having a limited number of movie days on the schedule is the feeling that you really should go to the movies when you have a chance, even if there’s nothing out that you particularly want to see. Which is how you end up going to see flicks like The Gunman, which, while not entirely horrible, is not exactly good either.

It’s somewhere between an action movie (though it lacks the large scale firefights, car chases and set pieces that make for a good action movie), a thriller (though it lacks the complex plot full of twists and turns that make for a good thriller) and a psychological-political think piece (and it didn’t hold my interest intellectually either). The last option, at least, requires a hero of some kind to have any heart at all, and the protagonist here, played by Sean Penn, is hardly that. He’s a mess, and a realistic if not particularly compelling one. He has his moments of cleverness and power, and Penn’s face is aging in an interesting way that sometimes make it worth looking at, but you never care about the character enough to enjoy making sense of his psychological gyrations. Good actors like Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, and Ray Winstone also appear: Winstone is excellent, Bardem less so.

Ratings for this film linger at the two star, 5 out of 10 level, and that seems fair to me. But that didn’t keep me from taking a few notes, which are behind the cut. Continue reading

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flowers for the season

hellebore1-blogIt is spring at last, so let’s celebrate with one of the earliest serious flowers: the hellebore or Lenten rose, so called because it usually blooms before Easter.  These are right on schedule.  hellebore5-cropNote that although it’s called the Lenten rose, the hellebore is actually a member of the ranunculus family, like a buttercup. (Roses are brambles and are related to plants like raspberries and blackberries.) *  Regardless of the botanical details, the down-to-earth hellebore color scheme of white, cream, shades of green and brownish pinks and purples is perhaps more appropriate to the season as it is actually experienced than a range of candy pastels. A hellebore is a wonderful plant to photograph, but I am sorry to admit that I cheated a bit– these hellebore plants were not blooming in some sheltered woodland or well-mulched garden, but rather in the fresh flower department at Trader Joe’s.  Keen observers will see a few bits of cellophane I was unable to crop out.hellebore2-crop-blog*Hope you don’t find this helleboring!

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