Wyoming Solar Eclipse

Wyoming Solar Eclipse.  August 21, 2017.  We knew the crowds would be large, we knew the traffic would be bad, but we had to go anyway…it was just too close to miss.  August 21st brought the total solar eclipse through the middle of Wyoming.  My sister, dad and I decided to witness it first hand.

Wyoming Eclipse

My family stayed with my folks that weekend, they live on the Colorado side of the Wyoming border up near Red Feather Lakes.  The plan was for my sister to come up and meet my dad and I near the Wyoming border on 287.  We’d carpool from there.  The target was south of Casper on BLM land, staying clear of the I-25 corridor.  There we’d be in the center of the shadow for the longest totality without the crowds.

We drove on Wyoming 487 and there was a good amount of traffic so we jumped off onto Wyoming 77 and was just looking for a nice spot with a good view.  Just so happened we hit the Shirley Ridge which had an amazing 360 view, and only two other cars were there.  We got there a couple of hours early.

Eclipse Roadtrip Map

Here was our target area. We jetted over to 77 once we realized the popularity of 487.

Since we were early, we set up our cameras and then I started wandering around looking at rocks.  There were agates and jaspers laying everywhere!  Cool.  So a rock hound and celestial road trip together!  Can’t beat that!

Shirley Basin Agates and Jaspers

Agates and Jaspers were everywhere.

For the photography buffs out these, here was my setup.  I had a Sony Alpha with 2x teleconverter and 70-200mm lens zoomed.  That gives me 400mm, and then I used APS-C mode on the camera to give me another boost to 600mm.  My dad had purchased a solar viewing film and I had that taped on the lens hood with painters tape to not leave residue.  All of this was on a tripod which was a lot of weight, but luckily the mirrorless cameras are light in comparison and it didn’t get too windy so I felt we were safe.

Photography Setup

The setup, my Sony Alpha (covered with a cloth to prevent overheating in the direct sun) with a solar filter taped to the hood.  On the screen it shows a picture of the eclipse at about 75%.

My plan was to take pictures every 3 minutes both coming into and leaving the eclipse and then during totality I would remove the lens hood, refocus, and take shots at different settings to capture all the different features of the totality.  All of this worked except one thing, I realized about half way into the waning of the eclipse that I was out of focus.  I didn’t realize that my focal point was the film several inches off of the end of the lens (affixed to the lens hood).  So I didn’t focus correctly getting many of the waning shots.  Oh well, rookie mistake.

taken from mreclipse.com

Taken from the Mr. Eclipse article on photographing eclipses, this is an amazing article that everyone interested should read!

Leading up to the totality the birds and crickets started to sing and make noise as if it was dusk.  There were no trees so we didn’t see the kaleidoscopic effect that others saw which would have been amazing.  It also got considerably cooler, fast, and the winds started to blow adding to the chill factor.

Start of Eclipse Chill Out

My dad Alex and sister Kristy chilling out as the Eclipse was starting.  You can see all the people that got at this site after we did; but we were all very comfortably spaced out.

During totality it was a scramble, I was taking many shots with different settings per Mr. Eclipse‘s chart above and then I sat the camera down and just observed.  What was cool was the 360 degree view we had, and the 360 degree color spanning the horizon!

Solar Eclipse moon shadow

During totality, looking NE towards Casper-ish. You can see the shadow of the moon in the clouds! That was really one of the coolest things about the eclipse is watching the shadow progress across the horizon.

Sun before the eclipse started

Here is the sun at the start of the eclipse. You can see some spots.

Final picture before totality

Here is one of the last shots I took before removing the lens hood with the filter affixed. From the next several minutes I explored different settings and took a bunch of pictures. Focus was a bit of a challenge as infinity was blurry.

Solar Eclipse corona

Here is a picture of the corona. Taken at f/8, 1/80 sec, ISO-100 at 600mm.

Final picture total totality

This was the last picture I took without the filter. f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO-100 @600mm.

Diamond Ring Solar Eclipse Totality

Here is the “diamond ring” feature of the totality. I’m pretty satisfied how this one turned out!

Chalk Cliffs, Shirley Basin, Wyoming

Here were the chalk cliffs which was the only feature on the horizon that is on google maps.

The trip home wasn’t too bad, although there was about an hour backup on 487 because of the stop sign in Medicine Bow at US 287.  But the state troopers had that engineered well and traffic slowly flowed through and no-one had to completely stop.

You can see the line of cars, looks like ants, on the horizon. This was no where near as bad as I-25 was. Good choice to my sister and dad on this route!

horny toad

We found this little horny toad lizard wondering around.

2017’s Music Highlights

First, mad respect to ourselves!  Here is new music from our crews…

Chillout Enforcement Crew’s “Acid LuAu” 7”.  Obliq Recordings #17

2017 was tremendous fun with this new project.  The crew has an open door policy to spark collaboration and creativity; with the foundation upon bringing just enough gear to get by, and imrpov is the core virtue.  We had 6 great shows and twice as many studio sessions to get this project rolling.  We’re celebrating the Earth’s wobble with four 7” releases packaged in retro 8” floppy diskettes.  #1 is a Polynesian party track, on acid.  The tracks are free digitally, so it would be pretty damn old-man style lame if we don’t have 5 more downloads before Xmas.

 

_entrancer’s “No Borders” cassette.  Obsolete Future #14

Great acid record.  Think Recondite style, but not so formulized, and much more chill.  Great for Sundays!

 

The Howling Hex’s lathe cut 7”.  White label

Contact me for more information on getting this release.

Great track!  Enjoying the amazing packaging and release over the last month, it’s a late-comer to 2017; get it while you can, ultra-limited.

 

Multicast’s “Multicaster” CD+Zine.  Obliq Recordings #16


IFJ stenciled artwork

Front covers, both multi-color stenciled artwork!Multicast’s best work to date, included is an amazing little Iron Feather Journal magazine from Japan.  Cross-Pacific collaboration.  Zine features Multicast’s Phonographic Toys collection, don’t miss it if you are a vinyl freak; there’s some serious history for you waiting!  Ambient, Acid, Experimental!

Can’t be that bad, we’ve had about 15k views on YouTube.

 

Now on to some other favs of 2017!

Dopplereffekt’s “Cellular Automata”.  Leisure System.

Cinematic robot tunes.  This is an amazing collection of electro, sci-fi, cinematic tunes.  Their early Eps all were dancefloor driven; but their albums are more ambient and melodic!  Think Blade Runner 2049 caliber sci-fi and you’re on the right track.

 

Raymond Scott’s “THREE WILLOW PARK: Electronic Music from Inner Space, 1961-1971”.  Basta.

http://www.raymondscott.net/three-willow-park/

This year brought the re-release of the outstanding “Manhattan Research Inc” on colored wax (if you don’t have this, hurry).  But Three Willow Park tops my top pick list!  It has 61 unreleased gems across 3 slabs of wax.  Each wax is in its own gatefold sleeve with tons of great photos and information.  This release explores a very exciting and innovative time for pioneer Raymond Scott, and electronic music in general.  He had already invented the machines for electronic music composition (long before Moog and Buchla) and was mastering his craft during this period—as others were just getting started.  By this time he was self-employed and had full creative and innovative freedom to explore the future!  This release includes works using the Electronium—the machine using “programmed intelligence”.   Amazing stuff here.

 

Raymond Scott’s “Soothing Sounds For Baby”.  Basta.

http://www.musiconvinyl.com/catalog/raymond-scott/soothing-sounds-for-baby-vols-1-3#.WjZSzkqnGUl

This is a re-release, remastered on heavy-weight colored wax, but another amazing electronic music gem.  Raymond was a heavy influence on heroes, just to name a few, Froese, Eno, Fripp, Kraftwerk, Glass, Multicast…  These records were intended to be played by the mother to the baby at three critical phases of life.  0-6 months, 6-12 months, and 12-18 months.  If you change “months” to “decades”, they still work as intended!

 

Aphex Twin’s “3 Gerald Remix / 24 TSIM 2”.  Technical Equipment Supply.

https://www.discogs.com/Aphex-Twin-3-Gerald-Remix-24-TSIM-2/release/10452636

Vinyl is going through a renaissance, with LED lights inside of records, colored wax becoming an artform, animated records coming back into style, and new and crazy distribution tactics.  Richard James is a man of ideas, and in 2017 he released two singles that are difficult for the collector.  His new tactic is to have limited releases from small, independent record stores to help keep the passionate entrepreneurs thriving!  This release was only available from the small store in Ypsilanti, Michigan and cannot be sold mail-order.  You either have to visit the store, or find an expensive one second hand.  The tracks are good, making this release worth the effort!

 

“Evil Dead 2 OST”.  Waxwork Records.

https://waxworkrecords.com/products/evil-dead-2?variant=30413229125

This movie started me down a one-way path.  Thinking we were just going to see a slasher style movie on the silver screen, well, our minds were expanded, quickly!  This movie likely has the entire dialog sampled in one industrial song or another, but the music was great too, even though you didn’t notice it.  This is a wonderful package including some psychedelic colored vinyl.  A trip down memory lane.

 

Guerilla Toss’s “G T Ultra”.  DFA.

“I’ve driving a car, but I’m not the owner”.  The other 1/2 of Multicast, Jeff, can relate!  With an album cover featuring a sheet of acid, this was worth checking out.  This NYC band reminds me of a cross between Chicks on Speed and The B-52s without Fred Schnider; with a funkier core.  This was my soundtrack to my European journey this summer.  This could be my top pick of the year, still a couple of tabs left on this release…saving them for friends.

 

J Dubular’s “View from the Summit”. 

My buddy here in the hood has an amazing view from his porch, and we often just decompress gazing 50 miles down the front range onto Lookout Mountain.  My buddy Jim is a reggae aficionado (see soundcloud’s ReggaeDispensory) so we constantly search out Dub for the porch.  This was one of those records from Colorado band (Idaho Springs) J dubular.  Warm breeze, sunset, porch, relaxation, stunning view soundtrack!

 

UHF’s “Strange days of Happiness” EP.  Borg Recordings.

This hails from Spain on UK’s Borg Recordings label.  Those that know me know I love electro (not that house crap, real electro with its roots in the early 80s hip-hop culture), and this is a melodic foray into heavy bass.  I can’t count the number of sunrises I’ve seen this year to this soundtrack.  Perfect for the commute!

 

N-TER’s “Falling Apart” EP.  Crobot Muzik.

Another electro slasher, this time out of London.  The label is amazing, found it on bandcamp this last year.  Melodies on top of BASS breaks.  This one is more for sunsets, or maybe just the deepest darkness of night as the sliver of crescent moon arises!

 

Recondite’s “Theater II” EP.  Dystopian.

One of the top acts in techno, travelling the world from festival to festival.  This is a stray from his typical Plastikman legato acid style, and a trip into deeper techno.  I described it as “Intense Sci-fi soundtrack intertwined with deliberate driving beats.  Excellent mood and production.”  I will someday hear this on a large sound system, and that will make me very happy!

 

Ceephax Acid Crew’s “Acid Fourniture” & “Byron’s Ballads” EPs.  Weme Records.

Someone once said “This is not a mind trip, it is a body journey”.  These EPs falls within that realm.  London’s Mr Ceephax released two Eps the same day this winter, and both are great!  Worth checking out!

 

1NC1N’s “Praying Mantis” EP.  Zodiak Commune Records.

Another latecomer to 2017, this is a rock solid acidic dancefloor EP.  High quality production, both in the sound and the vibe, demonstrating that Acid music is still on a plateau overlooking the vast spaces of other dance music.

 

Human League’s “Travelogue”.  Virgin

https://www.discogs.com/The-Human-League-Travelogue/master/643

Had to mention this amazing album has been re-issued on heavy-weight vinyl and remastered.  The band’s 2nd record was released in early 1980 and has stood the test of time.  This was before they ditched half of the band for two female vocalists and a contract with the devil; back when they were pushing the experimental boundaries of early synth-pop!  A classic!

 

This year’s bootlegs worth noting…

The Cure.  Period.  This year has been an amazing year for demos and live sets being released (or re-released) on vinyl.  What’s up with Discogs not allowing “Fan Club Vinyl” to be sold anymore?  Does every cool website have to sell out to the MPAA and RIAA still, in this day and age?  Well, there is still a distribution channel or two, once again it heads underground!

The Cure – Forever. 

https://www.discogs.com/The-Cure-Forever/master/1086713

Demos and Unreleased material from 1980-1983.  Killer!

 

The Cure – The Wailing Demos. 

https://www.discogs.com/The-Cure-The-Wailing-Demos/master/1203041

More demos from their golden era.  Killer!

 

The Cure – Grinding Halt & 10:15 Saturday Night.

https://www.discogs.com/Cure-Grinding-Halt/master/765075

https://www.discogs.com/Cure-1015-Saturday-Night/master/765074

Live show from 10 June 1981, Mensa Morgenstelle, Tübingen, Germany.  Two vinyl set released separately.  Man what a great set!  Raw!  Soundboard!  Picked this up in Belfast.

 

The Cure – Disintegration in Cokeland. 

https://www.discogs.com/The-Cure-Disintegration-In-Cokeland/master/1187158

Another pickup from Belfast.   This is the pink vinyl version.  Soundboard from their second golden period 9/9/89 in Oakland’s Coliseum.

 

The Cure – World War.

https://www.discogs.com/The-Cure-World-War-Rare-Demos/master/1174763

These are some rare demos across their first couple of years.  Great stuff!

 

The Cure – Pillbox Tales.

https://www.discogs.com/Cure-Pillbox-Tales-1977-1979/release/2594094

This is really early stuff, from when they were “Easy Cure”.  This is more rock oriented before Robert came into his own.  But still worth hearing where they came from.  That said, glad they went down a one-way road!

The Leo Pocket – Large Colorado Smokey Quartz

The season of Scorpio often brings good luck to me in the Colorado Rockies, and this year I was treated with a special find (large quartz crystals)!  As most rock hounds probably experience, as you gain experience you think of old places you’ve dug and the potential for those spots still producing crystals now that you know what you didn’t during the original dig.

Leo Pocket Point

This otherwise drab (likely microcline) rock was coated with secondary crystal points. Really interesting growth pattern too.

There was a spot I found many years ago where I found a couple of floater crystals that were so-so and I abandoned that dig site prospecting for lusher areas.  I have always wondered, what if I dug deeper in that spot?  I didn’t think I dug deep enough but I always wondered if it would be worth the effort to try that area again as it was a bit of a hike with several steep hills.  So I have been thinking about this spot now and again over the years and I finally decided to prospect that area again.

In early November I went out on a crisp morning and found myself in the area of this dig.  I wasn’t having any luck prospecting, so I decided what the hell, I need to resolve this once and for all, so I hiked back to that spot.  I reclaim all my digs and after many years away they have grown back the ground cover and looked good, which was pleasing.  I ended up digging in the area that I had long thought about, and within about 30 minutes starting hitting some signs.

The area had some large rocks and as I dug around them I started to see some darker coloration, which ended up being pegmatite.  Digging into that started to produce some flats and faces and it wasn’t long before the first crystal popped out, maybe a foot underground and in a peg seam.  After the initial crystal I started to see the seam open up and then experienced some harder clay.  Only once have I hit a really thick clay, but I could tell right away that experience was happening again.

Leo Pocket plate

This plate came out in 3 pieces which is repaired above.  The main part of the plate was at the top of the pocket, as seen in the video. The left crystal had sunk to the bottom of the pocket after it was shattered off, you can see me pull it out in the video immediately before I pulled out the larger healed crystal toward the end.  The upper right piece was also at the bottom of the pocket.  It pays to save all pieces and parts.

Working in the clay requires metal tools, there is no way you can get it out with your fingers or even wooden material.  I have a dulled screwdriver just for these times.  I started to pull out quartz crystals but they were all heavily overgrown with a brownish, sharp milky quartz-type crystal.  It wasn’t coming off, that’s for sure, and I thought perhaps it would require a little soaking o loosen up the overcoating.  So I continued to dig and starting pulling out some really nice crystals, but it was VERY slow going and somewhat tedious on the fingers and wrists due to the clay.

As I continued to dive down with the pocket, the clay got thicker and the crystals got bigger!  It finally ended up where there were many large crystals all at the bottom of the pocket.  I could tell the pocket collapsed because I found bits and pieces of broken crystals in between these larger ones that matched up to crystal parts I was finding at the top of the pocket.

The crystals all have several stages of growth.  Most are coated with a brownish quartz like coating.  I could tell there was microcline in the pocket, but it appears to have all been corroded away and the replaced on all the smokey quartz throughout the pocket.  Must have been some acidic stuff in the pocket during its creation!

Leo Pocket Point

This crystal is typical of almost all crystals in this pocket. Multiple layers of additional growth on the original smokey quartz. It is very difficult to remove–this has been soaking in SIO baths for a while, and a water gun does nothing. I will attempt mechanical means as soon as I get that available to me. But the crystal is GEMMY inside!

Needless to say, these crystals are going to be VERY difficult to clean.  Super Iron Out has pulled some of the coating off; leaving behind a harder, sharp layer of quartz type coating.  I was able to shine a light through the side of a quartz, and the big crystals I found are all typically very gemmy inside–at least those I could peer into.  So I am looking into an abrasive solution to help make some of these large, beautiful smokey quartz crystals shine!

This was one of the largest pockets I have found, definitely the largest by far this year.

If you have any tips to help me clean these, I’d love to hear your suggestions.  Note that I put a couple of crap crystals in a beaker of fully concentrated muriatic acid and it did clear the brown off, the quartz-like coating did not get touched.

Leo Pocket micro crystals

This was on a very small piece that I am not sure why I brought home…typically if in question it comes home to get a rinse. It was covered with tiny crystals as seen in this macro shot!

The Making of Acid LuAu

On December 12th we released the latest Obliq Recordings record.  This was the inaugural 7″ in a series of four celebrating the Earth’s wobble by my latest project, Chillout Enforcement Crew.  We have been wanting to release  a flexible record or lathe cut for a while, and so this idea hit me.  Why not do another floppy diskette release?

For those not in the know, back in 2000 my other project Multicast released Sympathen, a limited edition of 300 7″ records in a retro floppy diskette–the single from our forthcoming LP Rural Sessions.  That time was the height of electronic music distribution, and the unique packaging sold this release out immediately; mostly to Europe.  We really had fun with the design of that release, so I decided to research to see if we could pull that off again, this time in a very limited run.

I looked around for the contact information from the manufacturer of the 8″ floppy diskettes (they were new from a firm still making them for mainframes, but they were trash from being tested for Quality Assurance, so I worked a discount!), but I couldn’t get a hold of that firm anymore.  I ended up finding a vintage computer collector on Etsy that had some for sale.  Luckily he was cool as I told him about our project and he sent me four different manufacturers in quantity of 25 each!  Perfect for our “Earth’s Wobble” four seasons theme.  They also came with cool original blank sleeves so I could print upon them!

For the design, I downloaded some free fonts with an arcade style vibe.  I ordered some small labels and laser printed the design on them.  I used one label for the diskette label (like old-school diskettes had) and then another for the back of the picture disk record.  I used a rubber stamp that we made for the original floppy release so we could have some consistency between the 17 years between releases on our label.  I decided to stamp on the sleeve and also on the back of the record.  Finally I found a nice gold outlined sticker tab at a local craft shop for the write protection, which will seal the record inside the floppy and retain the 80s vibe I was looking for.

Looking forward to the next three releases, all earmarked for 2018!

Construction begins. Cutting out the download code coupons.

Started assembling, but haven’t stamped the sleeves.

Letting the stamp dry.

Closeup of the drying records

Stamping the sleeves!

Package with all the sides showing

The finished stack. Ultra limited to 25 copies!