Sunday, September 4, 2016

"New and improved" bubble formula

I continue to improve my bubble making formula little by little. Here is a short video showing the results from yesterday morning's testing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I had a remarkable aurora light show early in the morning on St. Patrick's day, and I managed to make it out at 04:00am to get a short time lapse of it.  

First stormy weather of the season in Omaha, so I went out to do a little photography and came back with this short time lapse.  If you watch closely, you will see the edge of the "mothership" cloud pass overhead just before the sky starts to boil and the lightning becomes more intense.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Snow sculpting tool R & D

Every year Team Nebraska does reseaech and development on new snow sculpting tools.  This year we put our efforts into making some new snow saws to replace our aging fleet of antique saws. Pictured below is a prototype for a "Mini-Sawzilla" snow saw.  We also are currently in a testing phase with a bigger 6'+ sized "Sawzilla" model.  Both models are made with 12 gauge stainless steel and cut on a hydro jet cutting system.   Stay tuned...more details to come...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Picking technique is often a topic of debate among morel mushroom hunters.  Some say how you pick them doesn't impact the mushroom production, others say it does.  However, I have seen several popular public mushroom picking spots decline dramatically in recent years and my observation is that it does make a difference.  Several of the sites I am talking about have had a majority of the people picking at them pull the entire mushroom, root and all, out of the ground.  In recent years these sites have had very poor numbers of morels.

So while I was out picking yesterday, I put together this quick video to demonstrate a simple technique that seems to keep my favorite (secret) picking spots consistently productive year after year.  This technique also keeps the mushrooms nice and clean.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Incredible light show in Nebraska

The northern lights were very active again this week, and with the clear skies we had in Nebraska Wednesday morning, I grabbed my camera and did some time lapse photography.   It was nearly a full moon, greatly increasing the degree of difficulty to photograph the aurora.  Because of the brightness of the moon the colors and brightness of the aurora were not nearly as intense as they could have been.  I shot photos for a full 6 hours and stayed out all night, it was simply gorgeous.

People ask me how I find the energy to do such a thing and still make it to work the next day.  The answer is it simply "it gives me energy".  Watch the video and maybe you will understand.  If still you still cannot understand, perhaps someday you will find yourself looking up at a beautiful sky at 03:00am and suddenly realize what I am talking about.

At approximately 00:41 in the clip you will hear audio of coyotes that I dubbed into the audio.  I was able to capture these sounds the same night as the aurora by fashioning a "directional microphone" for my cell phone out of a styrofoam cup.   Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Finished sculpture

We had great difficulty with this one, had the alien topple and break into pieces 5 minutes before judging.  We performed emergency surgery and got him back together before judging but he ended up a deformed and much shorter than planned.  It's hard to see in this photo, but the car has broken windows all the way around made out of ice.  Overall a fun piece but we were a bit disappointed that we didn't get the detail we wanted on this one.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Thane won an OMM

My son Thane was honored with an OMM award yesterday, which in an honorary spirit award that is given from a to a select individual every year.   As his father, I was very proud to see him get this award.

Waiting for awards ceremony

Had a lot of issues finishing this piece, including emergency surgery of the alien 5 min before when it toppled over and broke into 6 pieces.   But we finished strong and managed to frantically piece it back together before judging.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Starting to take shape

We are getting mentally prepared for a long night of sculpting.

Early morning ice carving

Thane was up early this morning carving ice.

Late night ice harvest

The rules at US Nationals State state that ice from the site can be used in your sculpture.  In the past we have incorporated ice harvested from the lake in into our work.  With the fickle weather lately, picking a design that uses ice can be a real gamble as we have seen years where the ice is barely thick enough to stand on, other years they use the lake for parking.  This year we found ice 24" thick in spots...only problem is ice that thick is hard to harvest with only hand tools.  But last night we managed to muscle through it, so game on!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Live Webcam view

Go to this link to see a live view of the sculptors at work.  The block circled in the picture is our block.

Click here -> Lake Geneva Webcam

Great conditions

The snow gods are smiling on us this year,  the snow blocks look awesome and the weather forecast is good.  If you are within driving distance to Lake Geneva, WI you should plan on coming down this weekend because with these conditions the artwork should be  spectacular. Currently it is 0F which is good for sculpting, but should warm to the mid 20's by Saturday.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New tool design

Every time I sculpt snow with Dave White of MN Big Snow we compare new tool designs we have came up with.  After talking to my son Taylor about one of Daves new tools, we headed out to the garage to do a little creative welding/grinding.  What you see in the picture is the design Taylor came up with.  We are excited to give it a try, I will post results.

U.S. Nationals

This week I head north again to compete in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition.  Here is a time lapse of the site crew and stompers building the snow blocks yesterday afternoon.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Last week I headed to Saint Paul, MN as a   guest artist and team member of MN Big Snow.  We sculpted a piece designed to "photo bomb" folks as they posed with the WC medallion carved in snow.  The characters are mythic Nordic beasts and their playful dog-like dragon who is fetching a ball.  His magesty Vulcanus Rex and the Vulcan crew even dropped by to have their picture taken.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cold Talents

Looks like I will be heading north at the end of this month to lend my 'cold talents' to the largest winter carnival in the country.

More details to come!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

I took this macro photograph of a cicada killer (aka Sphecius speciosus) in my back yard tonight.   She was frantically trying to fly from one end of my yard to the other carrying a paralyzed cicada as she flew.  She finally became so exhausted that she dropped the cicada and stopped to rest on a fence when I took her portrait. 

Carrington event

Here's a really good article from a few months back that does a really good job of explaining the risks of space weather.  People who know me have heard me talk about the possibility of a solar event causing major calamity for many years. While some think the scientist are full of hype, read the article see what Lords of London thinks about the possibility of such an event.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Balloon Launch at Lake Zorinsky


Got to help launch several hot air balloons at Lake Zorinsky Wednesday night, here is a time lapse of the launch.   Even though the time lapse makes it appear the balloons are moving rapidly, there were extremely calm winds that night. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ordinary things can have extraordinary beauty

I took this picture while I was out kayaking early this morning, reminded me of a favorite poem by Paul Roche I had came across some time ago.

Size is not the soul
nor is the neutron small
when eyes go beyond the gazing
and gazer beyond his cell

Dust is more than matter
The quantum does not wither
fused in a leaf or a flower
then back where none can gather

Behind its waves of pulsing
the atom is creating. . .
Within beyond behind it
what tremulous drive is thinking?

                       -Paul Roche

Aurora from unknown source on June 1st

On the evening of 31-May-2013 I had noticed Ace proton levels appeared to ramping up similar to what happens just before a bow wave of energy from a typical flare or CME solar event.  But there were no significant flares or coronal holes that would have caused the increase.  So I continued to monitor and sure enough, the KP indices shot up and with the IMF Bz pointing deep south, I could tell we were in for a geomagnetic storm.  Below are a few of the pictures I got from this event on the morning of June 1.  Scientist are still struggling to understand exactly what caused this event.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spring in Nebraska

These hailstones fell about a 1/4 mile from my house on April 9th.  Notice how "spikey" they are instead of round.


After one of the coldest spring weather patterns in history, the ground is finally warm enough for mushroom season!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pictures from the final day

In the end we finished in the middle of the field and did not place in the top three as we had hoped.  Our design incorporated a lot of negative space that in the end may have been partly responsible for our undoing.  During the final stages of sculpting, numerous large air pockets were found at the top of the posts holding up the head dress.  This made the block weak at a very critical point; had we more thinly sculpted the front poles as we had intended, the piece would have very likely collapsed on top of us.  With no time left to safely repair the block, the tops of the poles were left off and the poles were left much thicker than intended to prevent collapse.  To make matters worse, we were so preoccupied with the structural integrity issues that we did not finish the drum sticks and other artifacts that were suppose to be placed in the interior of the piece.  So unfortunately, this one did not turn out nearly as good as we had hoped.
And so it is with the sport of snow sculpture, you either take risks and hope you don't run into a block defect at a critical point, or you stick to safer (and boring, yawn) designs.  Next year, look out folks...because we have already started planning a design...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Late night sculpting

Progress so far

So can you guess what it is?

Night time carving

They bring in portable lighting and the sculptors will literally be out all night.  Several years I have literally carved all night.  The combination of the lights and heavy snow falling is almost blinding.

The final stretch

As we enter the final stretch of the competition, teams are kicking it into high gear.  The temperatures are staying in the single digit range which is just perfect for snow sculpture.  If you are anywhere close to Wisconsin, you should make a trip to see the final sculptures on Saturday.  Judging starts at 11am and the awards will be presented at 2pm.  If you make the trip, I promise you will see some of the best sculptures in years as the conditions are perfect!


Thane and Taylor's choice of hats at The Baker House.

Location of our block

 Here is the location of our block, you can actually see all the sculptures starting to take shape.  I will try to put up another time lapse later today.

Awesome Beer

Nothing is better than coming back to your room and enjoying some of the wonderful beer available here in Wisconsin...and you thought they only made cheese...tisk tisk..

Day Two at U.S. Nationals

Yesterday was very cold and windy, just what we needed to freeze up the blocks.  They are now the constitency of solid ice and make a pleasing "popping" sound when you use a chisel.  Today is suppose to be colder, currently at 07:00am it is -3F.  In these temperatures it is going to be hard to get the camera equipment to cooperate.  I will do my best to capture additional time lapse videos.  Here is one from yesterday, you can see how we "opened up the block" to get it to freeze solid.  In these conditions I would espect that the competition is going to be extremely tough as the solid blocks will allow for an incredible amount of detail.

Day Two at U.S. Nationals

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Team Nebraska

The sculpting continues.  Cold temperatures today are hardening up the blocks nicely.  Hoping to make more progress this evening and finish strong tomorrow. 

Vikings and Weasels

Many of the teams are in character for the competition, but we remain just plain ol' Team Nebraska.  Any ideas for a theme?

Sculpting with Man-Bear

Time Lapse from Day One

Carbs is good

Yeah, the BellaVista Suites understand the value of carbo-loading!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yay, the rain stopped!

The rain changed to snow around 10:00am and all the sculptors have began working. 

Rain rain, go away

Just when we didn't think it could get any soggier here in Wisconsin, it continues to pour down rain.  Temps are suppose to drop throughout the day, and we cannot wait for the snow to come.  Hopefully we will draw a good block, wish us luck!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DW Show Video from 2012

Here is a video from last year posted by DW Show.  Look for Thane around 11:30 in the video.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Soggy Blocks Time Lapse

Click on the link at the bottom of this post to watch a time lapse of the snow block preparation for the 2013 U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition that will be held this week in Lake Geneva, WI.  Thanks to all the hard work the "stompers" put into the creation of these blocks, especially since today you were working in unseasonable temperatures and occasional rain.  The weather is forecast to turn very cold later in the week so the soggy blocks should be the consistency of ice by Friday.  Seeing these blocks is getting me pumped!

click here--->  <---click here

Soggy Blocks

They have started building the blocks for the U.S. National Snow Sculpture competition...looks wet and slushy...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I was looking through photos from the trip I took to Harbin, China last year and decided to throw together some random video clips to share the culture and experiences from the trip.  It was one of the most incredible trips I have ever experienced. 


Sunday, July 15, 2012

I stayed up all night long watching the aurora borealis from a site just west of Blair, NE.  The display was fantastic and kept coming in waves beginning just after 01:00am local time.  I was busily clicking photos until my battery was exhausted, then when I put in my spare....NOOOOO it was no good!  This small time lapse klip is just an example of one of the many outburst that I saw last night.  I have seen aurora many times from Nebraska, but his display was simply fantastic as it kept coming in waves all night long, right up until dawn.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Heart of the storm

I was photographing a lightning storm last week when I captured this photo, thought I would share.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

If you ever had the chance to meet Reinhold Marxhausen, you were truly blessed.  For those of you who never knew him, here are some links to help you learn more about him.

Rienhold Marxhausen on David Letterman show

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Exactly one year ago last night, the person who taught me the most about how to find beauty in the world passed away.  How fitting that exactly one year later, on the night he passed away, beautiful aurora were visible here in Nebraska.  I took these pictures just outside of Omaha. 

I think Marxy was smiling, too.

Friday, April 6, 2012

That's a morel!

When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that's a morel!  (you know you want to sing along, heh heh...)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Test throw

Looks like the tomahawks throw pretty good.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Making tools, but not for snow

I did some forging today but instead of making snow carving tools, I decided to make some tomahawks.  It was a fun little project and was nice to do something totally different for a change.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pictures from U.S. Nationals

Finally getting around to posting pictures of our sculpture...

Saturday, February 4, 2012


The results are in...Team Nebraska won 2nd place!


you could put someone's eye out with that thing!

Houston we have a problem

Team Nebraska experiences a collapse!

Long night, warm weather

We stayed out until late, came back to the hotel with hopes that the temperature would go down just before dawn. Temps never did get below freezing. What was like sculpting mashed potatoes turned into sculpting dipping dots. Not good. We managed to finish our piece but it didn't turn out nearly as good as I had hoped, but respectable given the weather. Judging began at 11am, and at 3pm we find out who the winners are. Sculptures were collapsing during judging, I will try to get some good pictures but not sure there is going to be much left by the time I get back down there.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Got a little press coverage today

Got mentioned in a local news blog today. Click on the link below to read.

A little sneak peek

Thought I would post a picture of our progress. Conditions have not improved but at least the sun is staying away.  The blocks have not frozen at all, it's pretty much like working with a big pile of mashed potatoes.