Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fractal composition

Myron got an unbelievably cool website up, that lets you compose midis based on fractal theory. You know those line drawings, with infinite complexity, where you start out with a fork, then each fork forks, then each for forks, into oblivion? Well you can apply this to music, in an interesting way, and create some really unusual compositions. He has the theory explained on his website, examples of his own compositions, and an engine that allows you to make your own.

Give it a shot, www.fractalcomposer.com

Friday, October 17, 2008

New links

- A few new blog links added to the side bar for your reading pleasure -

Carrie: In Christ Alone
[Hilary's cousin]

Neil: Sylvancreature
[Deep photos, deep thoughts]

Peter: A breath of fresh air
[Hilary's (huge) little brother]

Snook: The Snook side
[More great photos]

Thursday, October 16, 2008


[photo taken by Elizabeth, Hilary's cousin]
Hilary is like a song written in 3/4

3/4 contrasts with other time-signatures like crimson on cerulean... It's this graceful, beautiful, spinning time signiture that, whenever I hear it, invokes images in my mind of people twirling and dancing. A song written in 3/4 commands my attention, moves my soul

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Part 3

Weekend [part 2] - Highland Games

Once every year the Pullman Highland Games is held at the Boothman's Pullman house. Men, mostly from SOMA, don kilts and test their strength and skill launching the caber, hurling a boulder, chucking a barrel, and throwing an axe. They also have a kilted race, and a clan competition with a timed challenge. The ladies, also looking very scottish come to cheer on the men. The ceremonies finish with a great feast, music, and knighting of the year's new "William Wallace," the champion of the games.

Being occupied with the market that morning I opted to watch from the sidelines, but even watching was the most fun I've had in a long time and I got to take some interesting photos. Hopefully, next year I will be able to participate...

After we got there, a large crowd of people assembled at the base of a hill, and started moving towards the top.

Some of the kilts were pretty extreme.

Brother-in-law Jacob, veteran and William Wallace twice,

And Karl Olson, founding father of the highland games...

explained the rules in the little grove at the top.
After this meeting, everyone split up by clan, and started competing at the various events. I bumped into a lot of people I had met the night before, as well as people I already knew.







Headed down the hill, and the first thing that caught my eye was the barrel toss. The barrel toss is set up kind of like a pole vault competition. A bar is balanced on pegs between two poles, but instead of trying to vault over it, competitors are trying to chuck a large barrel over it. They have to stand on a railroad tie, and if they fall off, they scratch.

People used a variety of techniques to clear the bar.

Oops, I forgot - before that, I watched the Axe-throwing contest. In this contest, competitors have to throw an axe at a stump, and the goal is to make it stick in the knot in the center. It's hard, but some people are consistently good at it.

Next up was the stone throwing contest. More like a 30 pound boulder... in this event too, a wide variety of methods were used.

In the meantime, festivities of other sorts were being held. Heidi, Hilary's cousin, and her fiance Luke, had met at the highland games last year, and were dressed to celebrate their upcoming wedding (this weekend).
Heidi and Luke

Heidi and Peter (cousins)

People were also just having a good time milling around. Alice was running around getting in the way of the stone throwers and Caber tossers. Marian had subdue her every once in a while...

Various clansmen

Heroes of years past

Bijin san nin: Hilary, Ana, and Kate

Caber toss
The caber toss was a most interesting event. Prior to watching, I thought that the goal was to throw the log as far as possible, but the actual goal is to make it flip over the high end. It counts as a flip if the grasped end of the log reaches 2 o'clock or higher. The cabers ranged in size from:

1) Large and heavy
2) Large, heavy and longer
3) Veritable tree-trunk
4) The city called asking for its telephone pole back

Round 1:
This guy was intense

Ian Skavdahl

Round 2:

Will got a lot of elevation on this one...

Flying scottsman...

Round 3: [only the strong backs survive]
round 4: ... later in the evening

At this point I headed back up to the grove of trees on the hill, because the clan competitions were about to begin. This was probably the most interesting part of the competition to watch... Clans were timed and had to pass two cabers and all of the team members over an ~8 foot wall. Fastest team wins.

The clans got 5 minuts to make a strategy:

Then they all lined up on the starting line:

And rushed over to the wall when the timer said "Go!"

Most of the teams put a man or two on top, then passed over the cabers:
In this particular team, the last one to clear the wall was the little dude in the photo here:

He may have been short, but he cleared the wall faster than anybody else in the whole competition. He jumped up, grabbed the top of the board, and in one smooth motion launched the rest of his body over. It was quite something. Fear the little guys. Word on the street is, he's a Maxwell.

Other teams chose different methods. Some put two people at the top and assisted everyone. Generally however, this strategy didn't seem to work quite as smoothly, and one guy even fell off the other side. He survived, though...

After these events, I headed back down for the barrel and caber tossing finals. At the barrel toss, the bar was set at maximum height. First up was a fierce looking fellow with a fro. He was a bit thinner than the others, but he cleared the bar.

Much rejoicing in his clan...

Neal's barrel cleared the bar with room to spare...

One guy got a huge amount of elevation:
I'd be happy if I could throw a barrel that high

When that was over, it was back to the caber toss. It was time for the final round, and the caber was enormous. In addition to being heavy it was just plain long, which, when the goal is to flip it over, probably doesn't make things easier.

This guy is pretty huge

This guy was considerably smaller than the other competitors who made it to the final round. Kudos to him. What he lacked in size, he more than made up for in intensity.

Here he is launching it

No one managed to flip it over completely, but Neal made it to the 2:30 mark, which was a real feat given the weight and length of the thing.

The caber toss finals were followed by a clan tug-of-war competition. To raise the odds, a muddy creek ran between the competing teams, and the lossers were drug through it.

The final event of the day was the foot race.

We walked the course before hand... it was quite a challenging course... not so much for the up hills, but for the extreme, body breaking drop-offs people had to run down, hairpin turns, and trees to duck under. A course of courses, I wish they did this sort of thing back in my SPU days.

Clansmen started in a large field:

Hurdled the creek:

And headed off into the fields

The competition took place right at sundown
They finished up the race thundering down a hill

Recrossing the creekAnd racing through the field to the finish line, where they started:

Someone handed Neil a Pipe as he neared the finish line... seemed to suit him
After the race, everyone piled into the house, and feasted a giant feast. Everyone was merry, the food was extremely good, and, of course, because this was at the Boothman house, there was singing. Good singing. I am kicking myself for not bringing my video recorder... I took off early, but later in the evening the new William Wallace was knighted (the fierce guy with the fro from the barrel launching finals).

Definitely an enjoyable competition, hopefully next year I won't just be a bystander...