Tag Archive: Furman

Video Project for 3D Printing

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Trent and Elaine with Video Setup

File this under one of those “now that you have the time” requests. John Kaup handles science education outreach for Furman, and had first approached me about this project. Elaine Smith is a chemistry teacher at Marion High School in Horry County, and she is spending the summer developing modules for teachers to use with 3D printing. As part of this project she wanted to develop short introductory and closing video segments for each module. That’s where I came in. They needed my services to help put together the videos.

The project itself is quite fascinating. Elaine is working with Tim Hanks and Casper Wright from Furman on using 3D printing to create biomedical structures. Tim and Casper’s research involves developing alginates that are electrically conductive. These alginates can be loaded into a 3D printer and printed into any shape, and research is being done to see if they can eventually substitute for neurons and other tissues. Elaine’s portion of the research is to develop simple demonstrations for these techniques for high school students.

Alginates

For this project I wanted to use the best possible image source that I could, and I decided that was my Nikon D7000 DSLR. I hadn’t really done any video with it. In fact, I had shied away from video on this particular camera because the audio quality wasn’t what I wanted. The built-in microphone tends to pick up motor noise from the autofocus and image stabilization on the lens. (more…)

A 25th Anniversary

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Tom_Laura

It was 25 years ago this weekend that Laura and I met. Hard to believe how fast time flies. It was Furman Homecoming Friday night, and we were both there under unusual circumstances. Here’s the story…

The Friday night of Homecoming Weekend students begin constructing floats on the mall. Well, not really “floats” in the technical sense, but displays. The alumni come back to wander along the mall and party with the students. There was always music and free food, and at one time there were even fireworks.

At that time Laura lived just around the corner from Furman. She had just given a big chemistry test that week, and had just celebrated her birthday. She was tired from staying up and grading papers, but couldn’t rest because of the noise from campus. She decided she would head over and at least enjoy the music in person. (more…)

Marching Band Season

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Furman Football

As my friend Duck Hunter pointed out on his blog, not only is it football season, but it’s also marching band season. The Furman Band has really been sounding good the last several years, and this year continues this trend.

Of course, we’ve taken more interest in the band the past several years since the son and daughter of our friends Alan and Mary have been in the band. Joshua graduated last year, but Caitlin still has a couple of years to go. So, we’ve been following the band’s repertoire closer than usual. (more…)

Furman Photo Walk

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Furman Belltower Walkway

Despite the earlier disappointment with the new camera, the D7000 had a chance to redeem itself. I had signed up for a photo walk at Furman with the Upstate Photography Walks Meetup. I managed to make it home from North Carolina in time to catch a quick nap and meet the group at the Furman Bookstore at 6:00 pm for an evening walk.

I’ve participated in the Greenville Canoe and Kayak Meetup, but not the photography group. I didn’t know any of the participants, but was willing to give it a shot. I was joined by seven other photographers for a walk around campus.

Furman Photo Walk (more…)

There’s a little black spot on the sun today…

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Transit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 7-33 PM.16 PM

Yesterday evening Laura and I headed to to Furman to observe the transit of Venus, as the planet made its way across the surface of the sun.  This astronomical event happens every 120 years, and occurs in pairs, separated by 8 years.  The last transit was in 2004, and the next one won’t be until 2117.

It didn’t look like the weather was going to cooperate.  Heavy clouds obscured the sun, but there were enough breaks to make at least a momentary observation a possibility. So, we made our way down to the central quad area of the Townes Science Center at Furman, where Dr. David Moffat had two telescopes set up, and where others were gathering.

Transit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 6-54 PMTransit of Venus Jun 5, 2012 6-055Transit of Venus

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Rugby Caching

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Paris Mountain Geocaching Workshop

Several months ago John Kaup asked if I would do a geocaching workshop for Paris Mountain State Park’s Fourth Saturday program.  The appointed Saturday came around, so I headed up to the park with all of my GPSs, laptops, etc, in tow for the workshop.

I planned to do a repeat of the workshop I’d done for the park back in 2009.  We had secured eight Garmin eTrex GPSs for the participants to use, and I had set up ten dummy geocaches within sight of the building where we were holding the workshop.  The plan was to go over the basics and show them the website, then send the participants out to find the dummy caches.  I had the coordinates for the caches in my netbook, and had several different types of cables for different models of GPSs, in case someone had brought their own and wanted to participate.

Last time I did this I only had two participants.  This time I did more advertising.  I posted on the Upstate Geocacher’s Facebook page, and I also got it added as an event cache on geocaching.com.  That way, anyone who attended to add the workshop itself as one of their finds.  Ranger Cathy Taylor also posted announcements in the Greenville News.

Paris Mountain Geocaching Workshop

It worked.  We had nearly 20 participants.  Also attending were experienced geocachers Patrick Peden and his wife, who have over 6000 finds (compared to my measly 135).  Patrick took the photos here, since for just about the first time ever I got so wrapped up in the program that I forgot to take ANY photographs. What I really like were that there were families with lots of kids there. It was almost like teaching fourth grade again. (more…)

Lessons and Carols

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Sunday afternoon Laura and I attended the Service of Lessons and Carols at Furman. For the past 15 years, the Furman Chamber Choir has been presenting the program in Daniel Chapel. Tickets are incredibly hard to obtain, and we were lucky enough to get a couple of the 5:00 service.

As a choir director I’ve always loved the format of the Lessons and Carols service. The service covers the entire story story of the Gospel, from Fall to Redemption. From an organizational standpoint it’s great – it’s an excellent opportunity for the congregation to participate in the readings, and it’s flexible enough to allow for new pieces as well as traditional favorites.

Sunday’s performance by the Chamber Choir was flawless, as far as I can tell. My friend and fellow singer Dr. Albert Blackwell described the sound as “sidereal,” which I thought an odd choice of terms at the time. However, the heavenly, star-like quality to the music makes the term appropriate.

Dr. Bill Thomas is director of the Chamber Choir, and he likes the pure British choral sound. There is very little vibrato, and the phrasing and shape of each notes is precise and lovely. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bill with the Heritage Chamber Singers, and he used that same approach when working with us. I like doing the large pieces with the Greenville Chorale, such as the various requiems, etc, However, the refine precision of a small chamber ensemble is something I miss. Even the Chorale’s Chamber Ensemble hasn’t been able to capture this sound. The Furman Chamber Choir, though, had it spot on, and sounded…well, sidereal. It was quite a pleasant experience.

Sustainability, Greenability, and Misunderstandings

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Belltower Through the Weeds

Three seemingly unrelated tales of environmental misunderstanding…

When I was playing disc golf at Furman Sunday afternoon I noticed something unusual. There were weeds everywhere and the place looked badly overgrown. This was most noticeable around several of the park benches and picnic tables around the lake.

Furman usually keeps immaculate grounds. Not a blade of grass is left too long, nor leaf left to clutter the green grass. With students returning and so many families on campus, I couldn’t understand why things were left like this. I figured cut-backs on maintenance were much greater than I had thought.

Furman Bell Tower

When I got home and mentioned this to Laura, she set me straight. This is part of Furman’s sustainability program, and the intent is to let portions of the lake shoreline return to a more “natural state.” Of course, one of my fellow alumni and Facebook friends pointed out that this is a man-made lake, so how could it be natural. My reply was that it probably focuses on saving fuel by not cutting down the weeds.

I was only partially correct. What looks like weeds to me are actually carefully selected natural plants, following an extensive landscaping plan. The plan is to create a wildflower meadow along the banks. While the flowers aren’t in bloom, they do look like weeds.

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Disc Golf at Furman

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Fourth Basket

Back last spring Furman University put up an official disc golf course. Sunday was a beautiful (albeit, hot) day, so I decided to spend the afternoon playing a round.

Background

As a student here a quarter of a century ago we played quite a lot of Frisbee golf. We used standard-sized Frisbees (there was no other brand) and picked a target for our next hole, be it a tree, bench, or hapless passer-by. Then we would estimate how many throws it would take to get there, and that would be our par. It was informal, but it worked.

Furman took its first steps toward an official course about fifteen years ago. This first venture was wasn’t much more than what we had done when I was a student. A map was drawn up indicating which objects (again, mostly trees) would be used as targets. The course wound around the mall and PAC building, for the most part.

A few years ago there was an attempt to create a true course on campus, but for whatever reason, that didn’t go through. Finally, in February of this year it was announced that the course would be built. (more…)

Furman Singers and the End of an Era

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Furman Singers

Tuesday night Laura and I attended the Furman Singers’ concert. It was the last tour concert with Dr. Bingham Vick at the helm. This May Vick will retire from Furman after 40 years as a professor there.

In most respects the concert was typical of the Singers’ tour concerts. The first half featured major choral works, each 4 – 6 minutes long. There was some Orlando Gibbons, Brahms, and new works by Mark Kilstofe and Daniel Gawthrop. The Singers performed with their usual precision, and this portion of the concert was beautiful.

It has been a Singers tradition to end the first half with Ringwald’s arrangement of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Former Singers are always invited on stage to participate. This being Bing’s last tour concert, it looked like the entire audience was moving toward the stage, as a hoard of Singers Alumni came forward.

The second half is always much sillier, with lighter works and jazz pieces. Some years the silliness really detracts from the music, but this time it wasn’t too bad. The penultimate piece was a fitting send-up of choral conducting, in general. Lastly came the traditional Brown Eyes, and with its sentimental notes the song left the house in tears. There was a reception for Bing and Judy after the concert.

And so an era comes to a close. Bing will continue to conduct the Greenville Chorale, so I’ll still see hm every Monday night at rehearsals. Hugh Floyd takes over as conductor of the Furman Singers next year. Hugh was at Furman the same time I was and has been director of choral activities at Oberlin College. He will bring some new blood to the group, but also an appreciation of its traditions.

My association with Furman Singers has always been a love/hate relationship. I loved the music, but never really got along with the Singers of my era. I don’t really know why. I just didn’t seem to fit in. I was never invited to go on tour with them, and was completely shocked when Bing invited me to audition for student conductor. I didn’t get it, but was flattered to be one of four invited to audition, nonetheless. Even so, I’ve not attended any of the Singers reunions, but have come back for the tour concerts.

After Furman I developed a good relationship with Bing and Judy through the Chorale and the Chamber Ensemble, and am glad that relationship will continue. Bing leaves behind quite a legacy of musical excellence with Singers and with Furman in general. 40 years is a long tenure, and his retirement is well-earned.

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