Friday, November 30, 2007

Rosgen Tax, ice cube relays, and operations.

I'm working on the geomorphology of routing a bike trail across Hinkson Creek in Columbia, Missouri. I have a lot of fond old colleagues in the Missouri Dept. of Conservation's fisheries research unit there.

Prototyping is going great, you can see some drawings here (with relays) and Cara and Jesse having fun with a prototype river model system.

Cara, and Dayna are grinding through a lot of thankless tasks: Bookkeeping, marketing and grant research, mailing lists. Microsoft gets in the way every chance it gets, but I'm slowly implementing Ubuntu Linux.

I'm seeing some Microsoft-Rosgen Classification similarities. "What, you want to buy a computer (restore a stream) without Windows Vista (Rosgen classification)?" All the awful abuses of a monopoly are appearing, at least in the big money river restoration scene.

You can't buy a PC without paying a "Windows tax." I'll coin a new term: the "Rosgen Tax." If you can't get restoration work without using this for-profit, sole source pseudo-scientific training, you have to pay the tax, right? Last I checked it's around $15,000 per person (tuition only) for all the courses.

And a lot of mitigation money--that's public money--is being horribly misdirected by Rosgen-trained consultants.

My current work in Columbia reminds me of the years I spent in grad school there, learning forest hydrology, engineering, stream ecology, and teaching surveying. Did I waste all that time and money when I could've just gone to a few Rosgen classes?

Today I had a long talk with a colleague who knows the stream restoration scene as well as anyone, and he said "Soon we'll be getting paid to restore the Rosgen restorations, don't worry." He's way more Zen than I.

All very good things at LRRD today, and I'm tired and stressed out, but not a bit about the wonderful people I work with.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The British Emriver invasion, blog honors.

A fluvial geomorph prof I admire has strong interest in getting an Emriver model over the ocean to the UK. Very exciting.

Speaking of Europe, there's this workshop in France next summer. Years ago a British river scientist reminded me that the UK had not one square meter of ecologically pristine riparian ecosystem. I guess it's the same for much of Europe.

I'm surprised and honored to be listed on the sidebar at Elizabeth Suddith's blog.

Hers is the first serious river restoration blog in the history of the internets, and I hope she keeps on. It's a lot of work, especially in her case I think, because there seems to be very little ego there.

Today I put together an ad for the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. Look for it in January. That's Kimi Artita, who worked with me on the video last year and had some great ideas on dye injection for visualization.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Prototyping extraordinaire.

Some very good prototyping happened, and we gathered to see the results at the end of the day.

So much precedes taking a complicated design to the living, squirming, tactile (and in this case) fun stage, but that happened today. And this one worked!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fun design work, more restoration Kool-Aid.

We did some great, fun design work today. Parts from Ebay are great for this; you get the weird industrial thing for 25% of its new price, and can re-Ebay it if it doesn't do the job.

On restoringrivers today, news of another sad case of the Rosgenization of our work. This one way too close to home; on a drainage network I've done a lot of pro bono work to help.

I called a friend with Prairie Rivers there. I don't know all the details (please prove me wrong), but from my experience , this one goes like others I've seen:

Deep pockets entity does bad thing or has accident > judgment, fine, mitigation money (needs to be a lot)> Rosgen-trained consultant appears > (insert a lot of politics, and pseudoscience here, aquatic ecosystem sometimes completely ignored)> J-hooks, Vortex Wiers (tm)--always "riffles" of some kind. Even if the stream had none before. These riffles are the method's dirty secret, heavy handed energy dissipaters to keep the meandering stream from meandering any more.

The Salt Fork situation up in Champaign is a good example** of why we're focusing less on consulting and more on education. It's hard to stand up to this hijacking of science and our profession of stream restoration.

**Update. I'm getting mixed news about this project--it may've not been built yet (11/29/2007)--more later.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A workday.

Cara doing research and an Emriver mailing going out this week, Barrett with prototype electronics, and the place after dark as I left on a rainy night.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

River restoration work--some good links.

Some interesting student papers, mostly, I think, from Matt Kondolf's students at UC-Berkeley. As I've mentioned before, I highly recommend Elizabeth Suddith's site for restoration news, especially if you've not drunk the classification cookbook Kool-aid.

Here's a link to some very interesting papers by her and colleagues at Duke and elsewhere--the page and links and citations are about as rich as you could get for recent river restoration research. An unsurprising quote from the abstract:

According to project managers, ecological degradation typically motivated restoration projects, but post-project appearance and positive public opinion were the most commonly used metrics of success. Less than half of all projects set measurable objectives for their projects, but nearly two-thirds of all interviewees felt that their projects had been "completely successful."

When I mention Kool-aid, I like to poke around the internets a bit and see what those folks are doing--there's always something fun, with lots of photos (appearance is important, see above).

Today I stumbled on a real gem--a Master's project (I think) from the University of Oklahoma's CE department. OK, this guy has not apparently drunk the Kool-aid, but we'll change the subject a bit. He did a study of tire revetments as bank protection tools. And not for the 1960's-era Corps of Engineers, but in 1999! And he was able to find 48 existing installations in Oklahoma! Study here. A couple of figures below. I'm speechless.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cool way to save your 2-tracks.

Per my previous post we purged possessions today, and as I began to brutally discard all my old 2-track tapes, Kate said "don't do that." I thought about it and then got out the hot glue gun.

Here are 40 of my old cassette tapes--mixes from other people, and lots of mixdowns from my work in Missouri and Champaign in the 1990's. I was going to send them to the landfill but instead hot-glued them together side-to-side like bricks, and backed them with some matte board.

These rescued tapes will hang somewhere after more framing and backing. And they're saved from oblivion; if I ever really want to remix or hear"Right wing monkeys to the moon," I can bust the hot glue on this thing and recover the tape.

A magic day. Our house and family history.

Kate and I had a magic day.

We had a rare couple of days off together, and began to rearrange and clean some parts of the house. That grew into serious karmic purging of stuff.

And doing things we super-busy people rarely do, like looking at family photos.

Kate started off with "let's just do this one shelf," Ha! We ended up going through tons of things and fixing a lot of clutter and junk accumulation.

Kate found a whetstone, and that turned into a knife sharpening, and lessons on that from me. I bled a bit after my demonstration.

And I ran across a Gough family history written by a great aunt.

There has been a lot of trouble and disconnection in my immediate family, but my wonderful great aunt Sister Fides (Catholics on my Dad's side--the family reverted to Baptists when my Grandad died, very young, in 1939) did a genealogy/history in the early 1980's. Here's an excerpt, from a shooting in Memphis in the early 1940's.

Click on the image for a readable version.

It all turned out well! The eight year old shooter went on to be a WWII bomber navigator war hero, and the little girl lived a full life with no apparent effects from the bullet in her head (still going strong in Tupelo, Mississipi in 1983, forty years later, as Ruth Crook).

And I found my first cell phone, from around 1996. When Kate and I met ten years ago we both carried these big grey Motorolas.

And here's a photo of my brother Greg and me from 1963, in Hope, Arkansas.

And a photo of my Dad, from about 1960.

Friday, November 23, 2007


For Thanksgiving, one of my favorite photos from the last few months.

A friend carrying one of my cameras into the sky over the Big Muddy River (thanks, John).

I'm thankful for many things.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We are surrounded by drug dealers.

Today was huge--Mediacom connected us to the internets.

A cable had to be run through an alley behind us, and Barrett and Jesse went up into the attic to help.

We were so excited that nobody took a photo. So I started drawing a map as a joke and then noticed some geographical ironies.

We're surrounded by bad stuff, like abandoned/condemned buildings on two sides. When we moved in, a little concrete pad east of us was a hangout for all-day-drinking street people. Dayna's done a great job working with the City of Carbondale on that. The map shows we have alcoholics in the vacant lot and crack in the back.

The Carbondale PD stopped by last week to ask if we saw any signs of drug dealing.

Yesterday I noticed what I suspect were drugs being moved from a car in our lot in a black roller case to the doctor's office next door. Not long ago Dayna noticed another drug rep using Ziplocs. All in broad daylight.

We're just trying to get our work done. Do we dial 911 when we see a Lexus we know is full of drugs?

Dashed line shows route of the internet cable.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The inevitable employee problems arise.

Every business owner's nightmare. You hear yelling and screaming and run to find one employee has another in a headlock. And then, wanting to keep their awful jobs, they're both all smiley and saying "we were just playing! See! We like each other!"

I'm kidding.

For the website we took some photos of Dayna in her office habitat today, and this occurred, and it says a lot about her and Cara. They are getting along pretty well.

We may get hooked up to the internets tomorrow. And Cara's doing great work interviewing Emriver owners and finding that there a a bunch of potential ones out there.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Waiting. For a flood of information.

The NY Times ran a very long article on the Three Gorges Dam today. Lots of people there have been moved, or are waiting to be flooded.

Peter Hessler's fantastic nonfiction book "Rivertown" is set in a village destined to be flooded.

We're not waiting for a flood, just broadband. Today Comcast people (I think that's it, Dayna and Cara are doing the talking) admitted they'd been assessing the *wrong building* for two weeks and that ours could have a cable broadband connection in a couple of days.

If it works, this'll be the third modem and system I've set up and paid for since we moved in. Hours and hours of wasted time for all of us, thousands of dollars wasted for my little startup. That's broadband in mayor Brad Cole's pro business Carbondale.

Photo shows the proto doing some soldering to connect a (Chinese made) power supply to an actuator to do some secret river model things. Otherwise he and Barrett ably made head scales for Emriver models.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We can't visit our own awesome website.

Briefly, we have been without internet access for nearly two weeks and on Friday were told it would be Dec 5 (three weeks from now) when we would, wait, *might* have it. Next week we're raising hell on this. It's pitiful. We're on our third provider. We're a high-tech business three blocks from City Hall, but might as well be in Afghanistan. I won't get started now.

Google "Verizon liars complaints DSL" and you'll see what I mean.

I've overcome my fear of CSS and HTML and updated our website. Please visit and click on the nice bluegill and see our "who we are" page and let me know what you think. I used these great photos of Kate in front of our building and of Cara in the shop.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Our amazing coolness, illustrated.

We took pictures of the place today for website updates.

This one shows what cool people (Jesse and Cara) work at LRRD and how resourceful we are:

1) Speakers from my stepdad's (RIP) 1970's vintage stereo; 2) plant from Jesse's mom 3) great chair Dayna scored from Goodwill; 3) Yeah there are two threes, file cabinet from Southern Recycling; 4) circa 1982 stereo reciever from garage sale; 5) stolen by somebody; 6) Luxo lamp from Ebay; 7) Wonderful 1960's metal cabinets left by Peter Gregory, thanks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Production. Every day is new.

Jesse and Cara got ahold of the camera today and took some of these. We're working very hard, and here's what it looks like.

So many challenges and decisions each day, everything's new. Except of course the Emriver model. We're building them like crazy. The place changes every day for the better.

Monday, November 12, 2007

LRRD website.

I've added some new videos via YouTube and Here are the YouTube links

I changed the soundtrack on "River dozer" and like the ending a lot. Here's an 18mb medium res version.

And I was able to help build things today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Puffballs and water pigs in Carbondale.

Saturday I worked on the water pig and Kate took a photo of me explaining it.

We both bagged groceries at the Neighborhood Co-op, which was just crowded! Very cool.

We attended a party in Pomona last night, and got up early to run the dogs through obscure parts of the SIUC campus before the rain commenced this morning. Found a huge puffball mushroom that resembled an infamous water tower there. All near these great icons at the beach house.

And after finishing some consulting (Detroit) work this afternoon I altered the LRRD website a bit.

Friday, November 9, 2007

OK, it looks like a water pig.

I thought I hired nice people.

For a long time I've imagined a cool device for education in fluid mechanics and spent many hours in my notebooks and in my head designing it.

I have my own shop now and today we worked to turn that idea into mechanical reality. How exciting!

But look at that smirking person at left (initials C.B.)

I used elegant ovals and it has four feet and kind of the same dimensions, so some mean, ungrateful people named it the "Water Pig."

Late Friday afternoon we first powered it up. The motor squealed like guess what.

(Parts of the photos are pixelated because the water pig design is secret, and of course I can take a joke. You're all fired.)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Snails on the Ark .

If you're going to tell somebody to keep on keeping on, as this sign just down the street from us does, I think you should spell it right.

Imagining snails getting onto the ark is just weird. It was made of wood and a lot of lumber I've seen, especially that stored in Biblical conditions, was a happy home to them. Probably some got on-board on boards. Maybe the snail effort is exaggerated.

The pace has seemed snail-like at times, but at LRRD we are hitting our stride. Today: A quote going out on an Emriver model, more scary plastic fragmentation in the shop (and blood on the floor, be careful with polycarbonate for god's sake), UPS guy had to make three trips, big report on Detroit rivers finished today, decided NOT to do a big Chicago project (big relief); and Jesse and Barrett, having made so many, are having trouble organizing and storing all the finished Emriver parts. A lot of mundane but smooth and necessary operations stuff (and some big plant pruning and moving). And I am really enjoying (and being non-paranormally thankful for) the people I'm working with.

The snails-on-the-Ark thing is going to keep me awake. There are over 60,000 species worldwide and I'm not able to picture the perseverance required for all of them to travel across mountains and oceans to get to the Middle East, let alone 120,000 sliming around on a wooden boat for 40 days.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Marketing and making things.

Here Jesse tries out a new jig to make a persistently troublesome part, the Emriver standpipe. We had some scary high speed plastic fragmentation episodes today.

We had a great meeting with Lizette Chevalier, Chair of SIUC's Department of Civil Engineering. We talked about collaboration and she advised us on marketing our models to university educators.

Cara has been calling Emriver users and getting great reviews and zero significant complaints or problems with the models. The models are being used much more often and widely than I suspected. Makes me feel good to have started this, but I knew it was a good thing or I wouldn't have.

Cara saw some interesting things in the parking lot of the Neighborhood Co-op today! You'll have to ask her.

We are still (six days) without internet access thanks to Verizon (for search bots: Verizon DSL lie liars criminal problems hold fraud defective modem ripoff tech support incompetent %$@*&%$%#.)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Prototyping gets going.

We did some very interesting prototyping today, as in major patentable very cool stuff. Jesse got to really perform in his role as prototyper (very nice knuckle joint) and Barrett did some great work.

James X (I'll protect the presumably innocent for now) delivered our server and sort of hooked it up after removing this and that and hurrying off. We fired the criminal Verizon DSL people, more on that later. We're going without Internet connection for several days. Ridiculous.

Unlike those sold by Verizon et. al, our products work as promised. Cara confirmed that with a bunch of calls to Emriver users today. She has a huge talent for this. We found out, among other cool things, that two of the models are permanently set up at a small college in northern Illinois. And we have some very happy and loyal customers. What a nice thing to know, but I'm not surprised, because that's the way we planned it.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A day off in So. Ill.

Beautiful fall weather today. And Kate and I had a first day off in months without any sort of natural or anthropomorphic* disaster.

We took the dogs for a romp and later walked around campus for a few hours. Here Kate's on some obscure stairs in Faner Hall.

I have no idea how to format the text and photos in this Blogger format, sorry.

The HOPE photo is from electrical equipment east of Shryock. The SIUC campus is wonderful--we always have fun in our explorations.

*My cell phone was going through the washing machine as we walked the dogs.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Speaking of dogs. And Verizon DSL.

Now that we're settled and he won't be in the way, I'm bringing JaJa the wonder dog to work. He loves it, and everybody likes him. He's the only survivor of a backyard breeder litter dumped at the Jackson County Humane Shelter, and is an amazing dog, the perfect German shepherd. He's named after Laurent Jalabert, the great cyclist. Le Tour was on when we were naming him in 2002, and the fans were shouting "Ja Ja, Ja Ja, Ja Ja!"

Jesse (former bike mechanic, etc.) and Barrett put a fine finish on the old 1970's Raleigh we bought for $50, and Jesse took it for its first spin around the lot today.

Dayna, Cara and I mostly worked on marketing today, and I have high hopes. I got up at 2:30 this morning (you entrepreneurs out there will understand) and worked for three hours on a mailing.

Doing business in Carbondale: Verizon hasn't called us back and we are without internet service for a second day. I called tech support again and was shunted to New Delhi. We are dumping them. Turns out our recurring outages starting around 3:30 each day correspond with kids coming home from school and going online, and this is widely known. Their system is inadequate and they know it but pay people to waste our time troubleshooting on our end. Fraudulent? Criminally so? Yes.