Geology Tour & Master PPG Animation
2010 June 27
This was a decidedly non-flying trip but it was still quite
productive in many, many ways! Of course the most relevant is
having finished another animation for the "Master Powered Paragliding"
I begged off the incredible Basse Ham paramotor event in France so as
to concentrate on "Master Powered Paragliding." Going to Europe
would have been a blast but it would have become a 10 day trip—just too
much time away at this point. But I did do a 3-day Geology tour of of
the famous Owens Valley—soaring Mecca for many hang glider pilots and
some paraglider pilots. The idea being that I could also get a fair
amount done during the travel and bus portions. It was difficult because
the incredibly array of diverse and bright people made for fascinating
conversation. And that's not before mentioning noted
geologist/author/orator Donald Prothero, his Carnegie composer wife
Theresa Levelle and noted author Michael Shermer.
More on that shortly, first the relevant part.
We're making enormous progress on video one, especially after a
filming stint in Salt Lake City with Steve Mayer and Bill Heaner. Most
important is that over 33 minutes is on the timeline in final form. Of
course final form is always subject to change until the fat lady sings
and her performance is when disks are printed.
All the shooting is essentially done but, as I edit, missing shots
become apparent along with occasional stuff that wasn't in the original
script. That's a pain at this point since the scrip is already recorded,
but, if it's important enough, I'll re-record as necessary and have
already done so with several additions. I'm being mindful of time and
have already done some chopping. You have no idea how difficult it is to
chop content that has already been crafted but sometimes it just doesn't
work when you sit back and watch it with others.
I've had a number of people watch completed sections and the results
have been very encouraging. But I welcome comment because I know I only
get someone's first impression once.
The trip: I didn't bring my portable hard drive on which the
editing is done so had to work on other parts. After a month editing, I
figured I'd keep my animating skills up and chose an animation that I was
kind of dreading. It would be easy in most regards but I wasn't
sure how to do a couple parts. That's what makes any project both
challenging and a bit stressful.
This animation: it's actually for video 2: advanced launching.
In the beginning, as with all the videos, I cover some terminology and
concepts. Here I'm addressing the myth that geared redrive machines
eliminate, or even significantly reduce, torque. The scene opens split
with two machines, a belted redrive and a geared model. Then this
animation is used to nitty the gritty, including what happens during
acceleration. It ends with a car revving its idling motor and rocking at
each accelerator jab. You'll see.
The animation gets less than 20 seconds but it clearly reveals the
concepts—enough that I felt it worth a rather intense effort. Having
moving parts and arrows that point to what's being said, when it's said,
with the appropriate motion, brings it all together.
The Geology Tour
Caution: non-flying content ahead!
Flying the 737, flying the paramotor, driving around out here, and
life in general has built up curiosity about geology. Yeah, I know,
it's a far piece from my well-beaten aviation path but, there it is,
peeking round cranial corners.
Tim Kaiser and myself share this latent interest and Tim, in fact, considered a geology
career back when wrinkles were only on clothing. My interest is more
recent, more like the last couple years.
On to the trip. We boarded a bus in Pasadena (near Los Angeles) then sat back for an
informative description of million+ year old formations as we headed for
Bishop. A tumultuous landscaped laid bare incredible forces where
sedentary rock got heated, folded, eroded, layered again, and twisted
around. It's still moving but it does so slowly enough or, more
accurately, infrequently enough, that we can build roads over it.
Faults are at fault and California is riddled with them. At one point
you can see thirty foot escarpments that formed in minutes when geologic
forces overcame friction. Earthquakes out here are so common because a
number of tectonic plates interact in complicated ways that aren't
completely understood. Sure, the basics are well known, but you'd be
surprised at how much nuance makes a thorough understanding so much more
Other informative bits went beyond geology, like the Owens lake story
and how its water was "robbed" by Los Angeles politicians and
We had experts from many fields who obviously enjoy a good puzzle.
Geology is nothing if not a good puzzle whose pieces become
aging methods and techniques improve. And improve they have been. I loved learning about JPL
space missions from an engineer who works on them, military happenings
at Edwards from a newly made Air Force Captain who is based there, biology from a
biology professor and others. Michael Shermer was more interested in
exploring the incredible scenery with his daughter than talking
shop but, like everyone else, was just another lover of life, helping
out, kibitzing, enjoying and partying. Patent attorney David had more
interesting stories of major cases then we had bus miles. Then there was
his stint as a nuclear engineer on a nuclear attack sub. This was one
Don and his wife Theresa do these trips a few times a year and often sell out. I'm
The area's history is actually quite complicated. Plate
action, ice, water and volcanic shenanigans have written a fascinating story that
geologists continue to piece together with increasing detail, especially in
the last 20 years. What's impressive is how well they can piece together
evidence from so many different directions. And it meshes with
During the drive home, organizer Theresa saw a
*huge* dust devil with an impressive debris field churning up at it's
terminus. Unfortunately, it lift off the surface before we could snap
off a picture. What we got was cool looking, to be sure, but nothing
like the mini-tornado that churned while Tim fuddled with the camera.
One last humorous mention. On day one, at the first stop, I left the
camera case on a rock. Great. Besides being the camera's home, it
had a charger, lens, cleaning materials, and the transfer cable. But on
the last day, air force David, who had his car, offered to drive us back
there since our bus was stopping nearby anyway. So we got to where we
thought the case was, fanned out and David saw it almost right away--the
black case sitting, unmoved, on the black rock where I left it. Thank
Next time I'm out here scouting for launch sites I'll have
something extra to look for. And if the wind blows too hard I won't go
wanting for entertainment. Thanks guys!