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Is there a greater champion for keeping America viable as the World leader in technology and science, than Senator Maria Cantwell?

6 Jun real_audio_BPP_e116

Late 1990’s photo-illustration to promote Real Audio and its affiliates. At that time: RA Vice President of Marketing , Maria Cantwell hired my multimedia services to create this futuristic, virtual reality view of Seattle.

Photos and essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights   Second—  Addition

The U.S. is in a must-win race, to continue as the clear leader of global competitiveness  in technology and science. No other stakes are higher or ensure greater returns for our nation’s security, economic health and cultural way-of-life.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State has a proven record of properly managing the resources of public and private sector technology.  Global leadership requires well-informed oversight, which can fully employ, the most recent developments of  science and technology.  Ms. Cantwell’s earlier career as a successful executive in an emerging media technology company, gave her exceptional tech industry qualifications. A functional knowledge of computer engineering provided her a proactive view of emerging, 21st-century Information Technology (IT).  The Senator serves on five Senate Committees; perhaps the most critical for the nation’s position in world leadership is the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee.

Washington State is fertile ground for producing world leading, innovative technology companies.  Software development, Internet commerce, biotechnology and aerospace industries are the primary economic engines of the Pacific Northwest.  It’s fortunate for the State of Washington and the Nation, to have a representative who clearly recognizes the economic and technical potential of these dynamic industries.

Electricity, is, the lifeblood, which our current technologies rely on.  Electrical energy is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for our way-of-life, which society society takes for granted.  Vigilance from our national leaders is essential for protecting our crucial resources from natural and manmade disasters.

Cantwell’s first major accomplishment as a U.S. Senator began taking shape within the first days of being in office; by her focussing a national spotlight on deceptive energy market manipulations.  In December 2001, Enron—a onetime energy giant— filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while laying-off thousands of its employees.  Enron had taken extreme advantage of deregulation within the energy industry.  Without legislative oversight the company was on a rampage of manipulating energy markets, while overcharging businesses and households millions of dollars.

In the 2005 Energy Bill, Senator Cantwell helped author provisions, which made it a federal crime to manipulate electricity or natural gas markets.  Cantwell also helped uncover evidence, which proved, ongoing deceptive schemes were used by Enron traders to target customers. With the energy company’s blatant deception made public, Senator Cantwell successfully stopped the bankruptcy court from forcing customers  in Washington State, to pay millions of dollars in “termination fees” for electricity which hadn’t been delivered.

Boeing 747 at Everett manufacturing facilities.

Affordable, reliable electricity was and remains today the essential resource, which allows dynamic industries to thrive in the Pacific Northwest.  Boeing aerospace, is a prime example, which could not exist without massive amounts of dependable electricity for its airline manufacturing.

Boeing’s flight line at Everett’s Paine Field.

The Senate’s Commerce, Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness, has few Senators capable of engaging computer industry experts as Senator Cantwell demonstrated, with her IT background.  During hearings on High–Performance Computing Vital to America’s Competitiveness, Cantwell was able to facilitate important questions on supercomputing architecture and applications. The Senator also had the opportunity to introduce two industry witnesses from the Washington State, who gave examples of how these technologies were advancing research & development to support manufacturing.

High-performance computing are the latest concepts for maximizing the power of supercomputers and networks for advance scientific research and it’s rapidly being embraced by a variety of key industry sectors. These powerful computer systems reach trillions of calculations per second, enabling discoveries not possible with standard computers. High-level computers are now used in a number of applications such as: accurately forecasting weather fronts, DNA modeling and  National Security.

 Internet2, which is a next-generation Internet Protocol and optical network, has the bandwidth performance needed for transferring high-volumes of  data produced by supercomputers.  A new national network, Level 3 Communications can now transfer 100 Gbit/s, which is a 100-percent improvement over Internet2. These high-speed secure networks are primarily used by academic and medical research for universities, in many cases the collaborative R&D will eventually  find an industry application.

At the Senate’s subcommittee, witness, Michael Garret, Director, Airplane Performance for the  Commercial Airplane Division of the Boeing Company, described to Cantwell and the other Senators how high-performance computing dramatically changed Boeing’s aerospace design process. In one example, Garret shared how Boeing had saved 80-percent, in the number of wing designs for the new, 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing 787-Dreamliner preparing for its first “maiden flight,” at Paine Field, Everett Washington.

If our intention for the Nation is to remain a leader in science, technology and commerce, we need more representatives in the Senate,  such as Senator Cantwell.  Our national elected representatives must understand the current and future potential of these advanced computer systems—to keep America technologically, economically, and militarily viable.  Fortunately, we and our  Nation’s Senate have Cantwell to help enable critical question on how to retain our leadership through high-performance computing and a new spectrum of technologies. ~

Senator Cantwell at one of her fundraiser, sharing her views on technology and education.

It’s important I share with you that Maria Cantwell and I have been friends for many years.  She hired me to photograph her when she first ran for congress and generously credits my photography for helping her get elected.  When she latter became an IT executive, she again hired my multimedia services to help promote and market Real Networks in Seattle. I’ve included some photos of Ms. Cantwell at a May fundraising event with campaign supporters and close friends.

Ms. Cantwell being introduced by Jim Johanson at a fundraising event in Edmonds, Washington.

Senator Cantwell has agreed to answer a series of interview questions from me, on science and technology related issues. The format for the interviews has yet to be confirmed, but there will be at least a text version and possibly, a  video one as well on the ScienceTechTablet and BigPictureOne multimedia sites. The interviews will take place sometime over this summer. One of my questions will be related to a photo-essay I wrote this year on the current Solar Storm cycle, which will be peaking by 2013.  Specifically. her views will be asked of how ready we are—in comparison to the 1989 Solar Storm, which caused Hydro-Quebec’s power grid to crash and leave millions of its customers with no electricity.

I mentioned to  Cantell that the Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) Advisory for Edmonds School District, which I volunteer as a committee members, will launch a STEM Magnet school at Mountlake Terrace High School for 2012 -2013. The Senator was very enthusiastic with the news, as she is a big supporter of the education program. MLTH was also in her former district when she was a state representative, living in Mountlake Terrace. Questions on how we can attract and support more programs, such as STEM, will be on the interview list.

If you have a science or technology question which relates to the United States for Senator Cantwell, please write it down in the response section bellow this story or email me with your interview question. I will do my best to ask your questions with the time available for the interviews.

A gathering of friends and supporters with Senator Cantwell. From left to right: Jim Johanson. Patrick MacDonald – former Seattle Times music critic, Maria Cantwell, Carmen lisa Valencia, David A. Johanson

The Unworldly Splendor of Oregon’s Painted Hills.

3 Apr Paint_Hills_BPP_b28 (1)

Photo/video and text by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

The sun had just set as I arrived at my friend’s condominium on Lake Washington near Seattle.  Rick was loading camera equipment into his SUV Ford Escape, which is a gasoline-electric hybrid and incidentally one of the first American-built hybrids.

We had a long drive ahead of us and we’d be traveling all night until reaching our destination in the high desert of Central Oregon.  It was a cool, but clear, May evening, as the SUV climbed steadily up Snoqualmie pass; taking us over the Cascade Mountains and  into dryer Eastern Washington.  After a few hours of driving the glow from a near full moon was illuminating the desert sagebrush outside the town of Goldendale on the Columbia River.

Wind turbines above the Columbia River are lit by the moon.

Our adventure to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, was planed  to coincide with a full moon to illuminate the surreal Painted Hills within the Monument.  Rick and I use digital cameras, featuring full-sized imaging sensors and fast optical lenses, which are ideal for capturing in lowlight environments.  Taking the opportunity to harness some moonlight as it rose above the Columbia Gorge, we made a stop to photograph wind turbines, which populate this section of Washington and Oregon.  The site is ideal for wind farms due to the wind tunnel conditions created by compressed airstreams forcefully moving through the constricted Gorge.   

Standing next to a colossal tower is a strange experience.  These wind catchers are the largest machines you’ll probably encounter on land and the eerie sounds produced from the massive propeller blades takes some getting use to.

Driving on the Washington side of the Columbia River and into Oregon you see legions of wind turbine sentinels, as they constantly harvest the restless winds.  It takes an hour of driving south on the highway before we no longer have towers flanking our drive. What I’m surprised not to see are other cars traveling in either direction on the highway.  The vast size of Eastern Oregon is not appreciated unless you spend some time touring in its’ large, unpopulated counties.

After traveling all night and encountering some falling snow as the hybrid SUV started ascending the road to the high desert—we finally entered into the realm of the primeval Painted Hills.  It’s totally dark now that the moon set hours earlier, so we pull into a remote area to catch a couple of hours of sleep before our video and photography expedition begins.  The John Day Fossil Bed National Monument is organized into three Units; the Painted Hills is the third Unit, which contains 3,132 acres of wildlife, plants and some unusual geology.

Over millions of years, layers of ash from nearby volcanic eruptions mixed with clay through the process of erosion to cause intense patterns of color.

The following morning was a like waking up in some eye-candy dreamland.  The colors just popped out of the scene like a TV monitor, which had been over adjusted with the saturation turned way up.  Stunned by the startling beauty, I grabbed my video camera on a tripod and began shooting panorama footage.  Ready for capturing the details of the environment; an external microphone was used to record the outburst of chattering songbirds, which had woken up to herald the beginning of a new day.  My first impression was an experience of sensory overload; it was  challenging to take in all the colors, sounds and surreal shapes of the textured topography.  What I was seeing, appeared to be out of this world —like viewing some futuristic post cards of a terraformed  Martian landscape.

What I remembered from earlier road trips to Southwest was how striking the Painted Desert in Arizona appeared but that now seemed pale in comparison to the Painted Hills.  What makes the  geology at this site so vivid with saturated color was caused by a series of volcanic  eruptions, occurring over millions of years.  The accumulation of bright  layers of ash, dust and clay mixed together from relentless years of erosion — forming intense, saturated strata of colors, layered into the hills.

What remains buried beneath the volcanic soil is a time-capsule, of preserved fossil remains from mammals and plants, which thrived  during the  Cenozoic Era – the Age of Mammal [roughly 65 million years ago.] This National Monument is a target rich environment for paleontologist studying fossils from this time period.

After I shot about an hours worth of video from the spot we had park at from the night before, it was time to scout other dramatic locations.  Not too far into our drive we spotted a family of graceful antelope, casually grazing in a large field.  Apparently, from talking with one of the NPS Rangers, this National Monument is full of indigenous wildlife including: bears, cougars and eagles.

Latter in the afternoon we stopped at the side of a gravel road to take in a stunning view of  one of the larger hills at the site.  The clouds above were opening and closing like a massive shutter on a spotlight; producing lighting effects which were irresistible.  We set up tripods along with our video and still cameras to begin shooting right away.  Shortly after, a ranger  pulled up close to the SUV and was intently watching us. Rick and I looked at each other with a shrug, thinking perhaps we had unknowingly parked in a restricted area. Eventually the ranger introduced himself, he had the impression we were part of a National Park Service video crew, which was schedule to be doing work at the Monument.  The ranger was there to lead a group of photographers into a restricted area for a guided tour, so he invited us to join in.  As it turned out, this special photography tour only takes place one weekend out of the entire year —when the John Day chaenactus (a bright yellow wild flower) begins to bloom; then as quickly as it appears—it begins to fade away.

The photographer’s tour was visually fantastic and can only be experienced under the supervision of an NPS Ranger.  The plant life is so fragile here, you’re only allowed to  walk inside a dried out creek bed while touring this area.  The Ranger was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about the site.  Wind is common and unpredictable in this high desert area, so I came prepared with a wind guard on my microphone; but I did experience a few audio dropouts,  hopefully you’ll able to hear the main message clearly enough.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMno4hbg-ZA

Later that evening we photographed the landscapes using a full moon for our lighting. I’ve never seen greater clarity of the stars and moon from this high desert environment, which created a great backdrop for an unearthly landscape. We photographed throughout the night until the light of predawn appeared.

At a little over 2,000 feet in elevation, the high desert can produce cold, bone-chilling weather and as mentioned—windy conditions.  I recommend warm clothing and gloves to help keep your hands comfortable from wind-chill.  For photography, the higher altitude is a great benefit, especially for optical clarity if your focus is on night photography of stars and landscapes.

I definitely plan to go back to the Painted Hills as soon as possible… it’s a dreamlike setting I have rarely experienced, which captivates the senses, with its splendor of stunning colors contained within an unworldly environment. ~

LINKS:

Here’s a link to National Park Service’s John Day Fossil Bed National Monument:   http://www.nps.gov/joda/index.htm

Explosive Video Captures Seattle Kingdome’s Collapse Into Oblivion…

27 Mar

Explosive Video Captures Seattle Kingdome’s Collapse Into Oblivion…

Video and essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Preparing to record the mammoth collapse of a Seattle icon: we stood tightly packed, as a captive audience of thousands, ready for a chain-reaction roar from tons of ignited explosives taking effect. 

It was a sunny morning in Seattle on March 26, 2000, as my future wife and I set up video cameras to capture the Kingdome sports stadium’s last moments.  Anticipating an enormous opportunity for dramatic video content, we arrived early, to set up tripods on a grassy knoll with an ideal stadium viewpoint.  Our efforts were more than rewarded, with the structures stunning collapse; however the ensuing surprise after-effects, were much more than planed for.

With only moments remaining for a syncopated, chain-reaction of explosions to pulverized its concrete victim: the assembly of people, boats and helicopters settled in place. The percussive pops from helicopters perched overhead, along with excited voices from the crowed; seemed to turn muffled as attention focused ever sharper on the doomed stadium.  All in attendance knew not much time remained before one of the world’s largest buildings would only be a memory.

In these preceding moments my memories returned to the early mid 1970’s when the dome was first built.  It proved a successful means to bring professional sports back to Seattle, with the Mariners and the Seahawks.  I recall the agony and ecstasy of seeing Seahawk football, played inside the dome: of how loud fan cheering was and standing up to do the “Wave” which had recently been invented and imported from UW, Husky Stadium.  The stadium’s greatest sports glory was: 1978-79 season of the SuperSonics, when the team won game 3 & 4 of the series at the dome; then wining the NBA Championship in-game 5, at Washington DC against the Bullets.  Other events I attended at the dome were mega size rock concerts; although going to a concert at the dome was more about seeing the band, as the sound acoustics were horrible.  One remarkable aspect forgotten about the dome was how cost-effective it was as a stadium facility; Nationally rated as a top civic venue for revenue generation, while producing real income for Seattle and King County.  After nearly three decades of use, the domes mushroom like esthetics lost its luster and would have a hard time wining in any beauty contest.  So, with maintenance and obsolescence catching up, its days became numbered and a decision had to made on how to best remove it from the map. Imploding the Kingdome with explosives was selected the most efficient and quickest way to end its days.

Seattle Kingdome demolition March 26, 2000: view looking south moments before explosion. Video by: David Johanson Vasquez /Bigpicturephoto.us  ©

Anxiously some groups near us began to chant out countdowns for the detonation to begin: their efforts produced nothing but collective groans when reaching zero.  On the third and final countdown a steady chorus chimed in, as we sensed this was going to be it.  In between one and zero, hundreds of pigeons near the stadium instantly took flight; suddenly, startling flashes of bright light burst from the structure’s seems, followed by plumes of smoke from shooting towards the sky.  At this instant, time seemed suspended; as if everything else in the world froze for a split second, to grant this colossus structure dignity of enjoying one last moment in the sun before falling from grace and collapsing into oblivion.  For a moment, it was like watching a surreal, silent movie, due to absent sounds of shockwaves, which travel much slower than the light created by flashes of explosions.  A precise alignment of explosives, evenly spaced from the dome’s top to the ground, sliced through layers of concrete and steel, like a knife cutting wedges of a cake.  Finally, a ground-shaking roar of sound reached us and was now in synch with the dome as it collapsed in a slow-motion pantomime.  Astonishingly, the entire structure of 100 thousand tons of concrete and steel, which could have held several city blocks within its walls, appeared completely collapsed behind a dense shroud of dust and ash.

Watching in complete amazement and believing nothing could outdo what we had just witnessed, the crowds wild cheering was soon eclipsed by the site of a rapidly advancing, ominous plume of swirling dust.  The ash cloud accelerated unexpectedly from the blast site as it expanded evermore rapidly by hundreds feet within seconds.  This monstrous cloud of caustic dust and debris ironically appeared to come to life to avenge the destroyed stadium.  You could see large groups of pedestrians who were closer to the demolition site, scrambling into the streets to find cover from the unstoppable storm of dust. Within seconds, visibility of south Seattle was gone; the menacing shroud turned the sunny day into night as it rapidly descended north into the heart of the Emerald City.  Trying to keep my camera trained on the rogue cloud as it swallowed entire buildings and city blocks within its path; we notice it climbing to engulf our hill position.  Grabbing the camera on its tripod we scrambled for an exit to try to reach the safety our vehicle.  Reaching the park car in record time, the dust storm’s leading edge was now depositing a layer of particles on the hood, with gray quarter-inch sized chunks floating down like snow.  Now safely inside, with relief we removed the sleeves from our faces, allowing for us to excitedly recount the dramatic events.

A few years later the EPA produced a report, which found comparable similarities in the debris particles from the Kingdome demolition; with what was found in the falling particles caused from World Trade Center attacks of 911.  The ejected powdered concrete caused an airborne mixture of caustic particulates, with high traces of pH levels.  The plan (or hope) for a debris cloud from the Kingdome demolition; was a path heading south towards the industrial part of the city.  This was an optimistic plan as winds predominantly flow northwards for most of the year.

Up until now I’ve used this video for educational purposes in video production classes.  In the last segment of the video, are dramatic slow-motion and high-speed-motion of the Kingdome demolition.  These techniques have a variety of applications for industry including: manufacturing, engineering, public services and creative entertainment.   —

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