Rediscovering quadrupedal movement

I don’t know when I quit crawling. Probably around first grade. I’m not sure why, either. Because it was something babies did, and I was grown up, I expect.

I don’t remember my parents trying to get me to quit crawling, but I’ve seen other parents try to convince their children to stay off the ground, in the interests of either propriety or cleanliness.

At any rate, most people who crawled all the time before they were five years old have so completely lost the habit it doesn’t even occur to them as a possible way to get under or through something.

When I trained with the local parkour group, the first thing the group practiced was quadrupedal movement—crawling on hands and feet.

After that practice session, I added quadrupedal movement to my own practice, and the first time I went out to do it, Jackie decided to come with me.

(It happened like this: I told Jackie I was going to go play in the woods. “What are you going to do?” she asked. “Crawl and roll on the ground,” I said. “Can I come?”)

We did some rolling, both just rolling sideways and shoulder rolls. We also did some crawling, both prone (bear crawl) and supine (crab crawl).

The actual amount of time spent crawling was pretty small—I doubt if it added up to as much as 5 minutes—but it turned out to be a surprisingly successful bit of practice, because just in the week since then, it has usefully informed the way we dealt with obstacles repeatedly.

The first time was last week at Fox Ridge State Park. At one point the trail was blocked by some fallen trees. There was more than one trunk, making the geometry a bit complex for climbing over. There was enough space underneath the bottom trunk that it would almost have been possible to just do a “step under” move, except we were wearing packs, meaning that we needed another eight or ten inches of clearance.

If I hadn’t just practiced crawling, I don’t think it would have occurred to me that the easiest way to get under the trunks was to crawl on my hands and feet. We’d probably have done something complex, like both take our packs off, have me step under the barrier, handed both packs through (or over), and then have Jackie follow under the barrier.

With the recent reminder that crawling is simple and effective, that’s what we did. I tried to step under, found that there wasn’t clearance for my pack, so crouched down further, put my hands on the ground, and crawled on through. Took about five seconds. Got my hands a little dirty. Worked great.

Yesterday we hiked the backpacking trail at Forest Glen, which presented a problem for which supine crawling made an excellent solution.

steep pathIt’s hard to capture the steepness of this bit of trail in a photo. Not only was the trail steep, it was also wet, and the mud was slippery.

Jackie went down first, and quickly found that the combination of steep and slippery made it too dangerous to attempt to go down bipedally. She dropped down and did an inverted foot-hand crawl (aka supine crawl or crab crawl). It made for a quick, efficient, safe way down the steep bit in the path.

I followed behind, just the same way.

Rediscover quadrupedal movement. Besides being a way to get under or through something, it’s also very stable—perfect for dealing with loose, rugged, steep, uneven, or slippery ground.

Eating at the dining table

For various reasons, having to do with trivialities like the layout of our old apartment, Jackie and I had gotten into the habit of dining in the living room, often in front of the TV.

At each of the places we’ve lived since then, the layout was more conducive to dining at the table. Our summer place had a kitchen table in the kitchen, and we took nearly all of our meals there. In our winter palace, we put our dining table in the area of the living room that was obviously intended to be the dining area—closest to the kitchen, with a lamp over the spot for the table—and continued to eat at the table (even though much of the space was occupied by boxes).

tie-dye-tableclothHere at Winfield Village, we have very nearly a full-fledged dining room, complete with a sliding glass door to the patio.

Although we’ve pressed a good bit of it into service as a pantry, there’s plenty of room for our little dining table, and we’ve continued to eat at the table.

Our old tablecloths had held up pretty well because they got little use, but now that we were using them all the time, Jackie wanted some new ones. She made one from a lovely piece of batik cloth that I’d brought home from a business trip to Singapore, which I declared probably the best tablecloth in the western hemisphere—until Jackie took some heavy muslin (that we’d previously used as a dropcloth to protect furniture against the depredations of the cat at our sublet), cut it to size, and dyed it some lovely spring colors.

After years of lazy, uncouth behavior, we are feeling very civilized.

Greencastle Fiber Event and Turkey Run pictures

Jackie used to go to Greencastle, Indiana for the Fiber Event every year. (I think it was under different management back in those days; they called it a fleece fair.) We hadn’t gone the past couple of years, but Jackie wanted to go again this year, so we went.

Although a lot of what Jackie would buy there would sit in her stash for years, it was also a place for great finds—one year I spotted some roving made from a baby camel/merino blend that was on sale cheap because (so the vendor said) it had short fibers that made it hard to spin. But knowing that Jackie has no trouble spinning short fibers, and seeing that it was a beautiful camel-colored roving, I pointed it out and Jackie bought a bunch of it.

This year, Jackie got some yak/merino, and the vendor insisted on giving her a sample of some yak/silk blend as well.

Before coming home, having made it to that part of Indiana, Jackie and I visited Turkey Run State Park.

This time of year is a great time to visit. For one thing, there are wildflowers:

turkey-run-flowers
Bluebells, spring beauties, and may apples (not yet in bloom)

It’s a great place. My family has a long history with it—the first visit I remember was when I probably only 7 or 8 years old, and I’ve been back many times. I’ve stayed in the lodge, stayed in the cabins, and camped in the campground. And always, I’ve hiked the trails.

So, here’s a picture of me on one of the trails:

pb-in-turkey-run
Philip Brewer at Turkey Run State Park (photo by Jackie Brewer)

Here’s a picture of Jackie, taken not too far from there:

jb-in-turkey-run
Jackie Brewer at Turkey Run

Sidewalk shoveling

As is typical for these parts, we had our biggest snowfall of the year on March first. I don’t know what the official snowfall total will be, but just eyeballing the snow right here, I’d have to say it was about 10 inches.

If the metric is clearing snow and ice off the sidewalk, Champaign-Urbana may be the least neighborly place in the world—I’ve never seen so many sidewalks left impassible as I see in virtually any neighborhood in Champaign or Urbana, the only exceptions being campus and right downtown. But local ordinance requires apartment complexes to clear their sidewalks, and Country Fair Apartments did so, promptly and thoroughly.

Here in Winfield Village the complex clears the sidewalks as well, including right up to the door for the apartment buildings—but not for townhouses. Townhouse dwellers are supposed to clear their own walk, just from the door to the main sidewalk.

My sidewalk, shoveled
My sidewalk

My sidewalk is perhaps ten paces long and a typical width for a private walk—a bit narrower than a public sidewalk. Unless there’s a lot of snow, I can shovel it clear and put down some salt in less than ten minutes.

After 20 years in which I had no sidewalk to shovel, I have to say that so far I am enjoying my tiny bit of shoveling immensely. It makes me feel connected to my neighborhood. It also adds a whole second layer of righteously smug self-satisfaction when I become annoyed at the people who can’t be bothered to clear their sidewalks. And there’s not much I enjoy more than getting a good smug on.

Not a link to my year in pictures

Google gave me a link to my year in pictures. And they have a lot of my pictures, because they have all the pictures I took with my phone. (But not the pictures I took with my camera, which is what I use if I’m planning to take pictures.)

However, the video that Google produced is hilarious, because way over half the pictures I took with my phone were taken to document the condition of the various apartments we moved into.

Whatever Google’s algorithm for selecting pictures is, it’s is pretty good—many of the pictures they selected are the better ones. So half the pictures Google shows me are pretty good pictures of Jackie and Barbara and Rosie and fall color and interesting things we did.

But about half are pictures of damaged carpets, damaged tiles, damaged plaster, damaged trim, damaged closet doors, etc. Here’s one:

IMG_20140802_105258908
Preexisting carpet damage in our winter palace

But, now that I think about it, maybe that’s fair. Maybe that’s a pretty good representation of my year.

I’m so glad we’re done moving.

Jackie with ecstatic cat

Among the things we pitched out and replaced in our latest move was the cat’s scratching post.

Sadly, the cat showed no interest in the new scratching post, and was more interested in experimenting with other nice things to scratch: cardboard boxes, wooden chairs, and pants (with legs inside).

Finally today, while Jackie was reading in the window seat, I spotted the cat standing on a cardboard box near the new scratching post, and though I’d see if she could be enticed to show some interest. I went down and got the container of catnip and came up to sprinkle some on the new scratching post.

She liked it.

License your photos thoughtfully

What’s the big deal with Flickr making commercial use of creative commons licensed photos that were licensed for commercial use? What did people think they were doing when they licensed their photos?

I have a bunch of photos licensed with the attribution license, and a few have been used many times. Here’s my most popular:

Foreign Currency and Coins

That image has been used thousands of time, mostly on financial websites, but also lots of other places, including printed publications. This is just what I had in mind when I licensed it. (Click through and read the comments—a few of the people who used it posted to thank me.)

When I first started writing posts at Wise Bread, I tried to take most of my own pictures. I did that for a couple of reasons. One was so I could get the picture I wanted; at least as important was so that my photos would be unique. (So many financial sites used the same few stock photo sources, so readers pretty quickly started seeing the same images over and over.)

When I didn’t think I could create an image of my own, my go-to source for alternatives was creative commons licensed photos on Flickr.

Before I started using creative commons licensed photos myself, I’d put a creative commons license on some of my images, but was inclined to use a more restrictive license, including non-commercial. After all, I figured, if someone was making money off it, didn’t I deserve a cut?

But for use on Wise Bread, since I was making money, I figured that I shouldn’t use images marked non-commercial. And I was surprised and pleased at just how many people shared their images without that restriction.

I was so grateful, I started licensing most of my photos with an “attribution” license, meaning that I was allowing commercial use—just like the use I was making of other people’s images. (Some photos I didn’t license—mostly those with pictures of people. Properly speaking, a creative commons license is silent on the issue of a model release, but most people don’t think about it when they use an image, and I didn’t want to be in the position of enabling that behavior.)

My point here is simply that I knew what I was doing—and I would certainly hope that everyone else who used a creative commons license did as well. If you license a photo for use with an attribution license, you are explicitly permitting commercial use. It seems bizarre to complain about it when it happens. What did you expect?

Because I think it’s a somewhat nicer photo, I thought I’d also share my second most-used creative commons licensed photo on Flickr:

Piggy Bank Awaits the Spring

Believe me, I didn’t choose the license without thinking about it. Anyone may use my creative commons licensed photos, in accordance with the terms of the license.

That includes Flickr, and Yahoo. Duh.

Window seat

Just a little post to brag on our townhouse, which is gradually getting set up the way we want it.

Of course, unpacking is a lot of work (on top of all our other work)—but that’s okay. When we need a break, we can sit in the window seat upstairs in the study.

I’m planning to get a wedgey cushion, but for now these two pillows are doing a fine job. Behind them on the window sill you can see: My tablet (which I’ll get back to reading a book on, as soon as I post this), my coffee flask, Wellington (one of my science fictional elephants, and sometimes the elephant of surprise), Norman the Chambered Nautilus, a tiny little Ganesh sculpture, a plastic yogurt container (currently empty, but used to hold odds and ends), and a tube full of brightly colored cat toys. And, of course, behind that you see the tree outside the window, and beyond that a view of Winfield Village looking east from our townhouse.

Downtown Champaign sunset

We were downtown for drinks and dinner at Seven Saints with Barbara and Rosie, and I noticed a rather spectacular sunset (click for larger, more spectacular version).

A merely fair picture of it—it was more spectacular in person—but good enough, I thought, to share.

And, in relation to my recent post on pelvises, among the Halloween decorations inside Seven Saints, I happened to notice another depiction of a skeleton with iliac crests dramatically smaller than an actual skeleton’s. Look at that! Surely no one could expect a lifetime exposure to such misleading representations to do anything other than produce a whole range of body dysmorphic issues.

another-small-hips-skeleton