New Jersey


8
May 24

Get the sand between your toes

After a morning at the house we set out for other locales. Because we have company, and because we are close to it, and because the weather was nice, and because it is still uncrowded as we’re still technically in their off-season, and because my mother likes the ocean, we went to the beach.

We walked on the boardwalk in Ocean City. We listened to the waves, felt the breeze, enjoyed the sun and a thoroughly pleasant afternoon.

When you go to the beach, you need an ice cream. This is my lovely bride’s tradition, and some traditions are definitely worth adopting.

We walked out on the rocks of the little jetties.

And we enjoyed the sand, looking for shells and feeling the still quite cold water as it sneaked up to our feet.

It was a delightful and low key afternoon on the beach. We had dinner at a busy local seafood joint, cleverly titled The Crab Trap. Try the tuna steak.


3
Apr 24

Mediated transference

There is a time in preparing every good presentation when you have the thing well in hand. You’ve practiced it and studied the timing. You’ve considered every angle worth considering, and discard a few that were, honestly, not worth the neurological effort. And so you put it aside.

That’s where I was earlier today, and then some other ideas came to mind.

And those other ideas? When they come in, they are the worst, especially if they’re the best. This is surely why some people throw slide decks together. Better to mumble and stumble through these things, reading text as you go, than be burdened by ideas late in the cycle.

But the presentation I am presenting tomorrow must be presented with some clarity and efficiency and interest. So there is practice and re-practice and new ideas. Always the new ideas. And somewhere in the third or fourth round of practice you get the best version of the presentation.

No one but the cat and my office walls heard that version.

If there was a hall of fame for rhetorical flourish and pithy points uttered to an empty room, I would be a shoo-in candidate.

But enough about my day.

We quickly turn again to We Learn Wednesdays, and this, the 31st installment and the 52nd marker in the effort. You remember this one. I ride my bike around the county seeking out historical markers. I shot this last December in a stockpiling effort to keep the feature active during the indoor season — and I think I’m now out of that stockpile.

This is … well, you can read the signs.

Near the end of the 18th century three men, Col. Robert G. Johnson and Dr. James Van Meter and Dr. Robert Hunter Van Meter, brothers, decided the area needed a Presbyterian church. Johnson was raised Episcopal in a nearby town, but found the style of the church to be too ritualistic and ornate for his tastes. In that same town were the Van Meters, men held in high regard.

In the early years, the Episcopals had no clergy, so they invited Presbyterian ministers to preach for them. That was the arrangement between 1809 until 1820, but they were predestined to go separate ways. The 17th Article of the Church of England, the one about predestination, was at the root of it. The Presbies wanted their own church building. So, on a Tuesday morning, March 6th, 1821, the morning after James Monroe was inaugurated for his second administration down in Washington, they laid the cornerstone to their first building.

Johnson donated the land and he and the brothers Van Meter covered much of the cost of the building. The congregation expanded in 1835, and then started work on this building in July of 1854, just a few days after George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera, was born in New York.

After about three years of work, including moving the bell from the old church to the new, the building was opened.

(Eventually, the bell went to the fire department.)

The church has a Hook and Hasting two manual, fifteen rank pipe organ. It was built in 1878 and installed in 1879 by the Boston firm. Air for the organ was supplied by hand pumping until 1902, when a water-driven motor was installed. They upgraded the organ again, to electricity, in 1912.

As for the men, we’ve met Robert Johnson before. He was the slave owner, historian, horticulturalist, judge and soldier, the guy with the apocryphal story about tomatoes. He died four years before this building went up. Neither of the Van Meters saw it, either.

Scottish immigrant John McArthur Jr. was the architect, a prominent figure from Philadelphia. He would later design the landmark Philadelphia City Hall, then the tallest occupied building in the world. While many of his works have been demolished, at least a dozen or so still exist.

McArthur learned his craft from a man named Thomas Ustick Walter, the fourth architect of the U.S. Capitol, who redesigned the dome and created the office wings. He would have been there the day Monroe was inaugurated, when the first cornerstone of this congregation’s first church was laid. And while his student was overseeing the construction design of this church, he was also working on his own church in Philadelphia.

Architects must keep busy. Shame so many of them don’t see the fruits of their labors. McArthur could have seen this church, but he did not live to see his masterpiece, the Philadelphia City Hall completed. He died, at 66, in 1890. The city hall was finally finished in 1910.

Now the only thing I have to do to tie this up is to find a photo from Eastman of any of these buildings. Or a letter from the Van Meter family to the Kodak people.

Wouldn’t that be a neat solution?

Failing that, how about this. Robert Van Meter and Robert Johnson, two of the founders of this church are each buried not far away, but I only just discovered that. I’ve seen the church where James Van Meter is buried. I showed it to you last September.

You can learn so much on a bike ride.

We’ll see another great marker next week. If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.

Today’s dose of relaxation is right here. Enjoy the zen of the California coastline. This place is so remarkable, and so ubiquitious, that there weren’t even signs offering a name. There are road signs on the Pacific Coast Highway that offer you a spot to pull over and soak in the beauty. The signs say Vista Views. And so that’s the name of this place. But, man, it needs a real name. This was majestic.

 

Elsewhere, a little slow motion of the water coming right up to your toes. If you feel the water in your socks it is likely because I felt the water in my socks and that’s called mediated transference, which, is not a thing, not in this way, not until just now, because I made it up.

Makes sense, I am a media professional steeped in the study of media effects. But look at all of that water sliding on in!

 

How long do you figure those rocks have sat there, waiting out time and wind and the water for their fate?

I have, I think, two more slow motion videos from this trip. But there are plenty of other Relax Enjoy Repeat videos still to come, not to worry.

We’re getting pretty good at dragging things out around here, aren’t we?


6
Mar 24

They’re always saving the clock tower

Another blah day. This was in the forecast and, thus, is not surprising. Maybe seeing it coming makes it a more impactful thing. The ceiling was low, and also wet. And so was the ground. It rained a lot today. And it was chilly. This has been a mild winter, noticeably so. The mild part has been noticeable, but so, too, has the cold part. And we are this week teetering on the edge of some cold-not cold precipice. It could go either way at any minute.

Sunday it was so pleasant we had to go outside, and good thing too, considering, what the week has offered us weather-wise. We started a fire, which was lovely, except I spent more time fetching things to put on it than enjoying it. That’s one of the things we’ll work on.

As soon as it dries out again. I believe we received about 1.5 inches of rain today. And so this March is just a slobbery lion, so far. So far. I don’t think this March know what it is yet.

It might be effecting my energy levels. It’s either that or sleep, and I’m accustomed to typical sleep experience. Maybe someone put solar panels on my shoulders when I wasn’t looking — solar wearables, the green fasion of tomorrow! — and the clouds have reduced my wattage.

Speaking of watts, I mentioned last week that I was taking rides on Zwift with pace partners. There are nine in the game, each riding at a different tempo, which is expressed in watts per kilogram. My regular output puts me between the fourth robot pacer, Yumi who rides at a casual 2.9 w/kg and the third one, Jacques, who pedals along at a slightly more respectable 3.2 w/kg.

This is Jacques, the green robot just ahead of my first-person view.

His legs always keep turning at the same pace, no matter what. I am fascinated by the spine and humanist touches they’ve put into the cartoon robot on the video game. I have never, until just now, noticed the pacers’ shoes.

The conventional wisdom is that if you want to get faster you ride with people (or robots) who are faster than you. (Then you’ve no choice, I guess. Get stronger or get demoralized.) So how long can I stay with Jacques, who is faster than me? Tuesday of last week I stayed in Jacques’ pack for five miles. Last Wednesday I was able to hang on for 6.5 miles. spent five miles in Jacques pack, and that was from a cold start. Today, after a few miles to warm up my legs, I spent 6.5 miles with Jacques. On Saturday, I was there for 11.9 miles.

So you can see the progression.

Tuesday, I was on Jacques’ wheel for 17.3 miles.

I was a bit impressed with that, myself. How long, I wonder, should you hang on before it isn’t considered hanging on, but, rather, just where you should be?

This sounds like a deeply philosophical question. And I suppose it could be, but I mean it purely in this practical sense. I spent 42 minutes and change in his group. Am I an interloper, or, sometimes, a part of it?

The point of being in the paced groups is that you get a reprieve with the digital drafting. (It’s a video game, and this is silly, because the physics aren’t quite right.) Strava, meanwhile, tells me that there was a half-hour of that ride with my third highest power output ever. So maybe taking two days off was good. Or maybe I’ve not been sapped of energy to the extent that I am complaining about.

Of course, if it takes one of my most powerful semi-sustained rides to stay there, perhaps I haven’t really earned my way into Jacques’ group just yet.

It is time, once more, for We Learn Wednesdays. This is the 28th installment, making this a regular feature, one where I find the county’s historical markers via bike. This is the 49th marker in that effort, which presently consists of photos I grabbed last fall.

And on this particular day, (a particularly beautiful December day!) I visited a 19th century church building that traces its origin back another century still.

They started as a mission of the Cohansey Baptist Church, who’s ancestors arrived nearby, from Ireland, in 1683. This mission started meeting in 1745 and became the first Baptist congregation in the county, and the eighth in the state when they organized in 1755. The original name was The Antipeado Baptist Society Meeting in Salem and Lower Alloway’s Creek.

This is their third building. The first was on a farm, about three miles down the road. They say that building would fit in their current sanctuary. They wanted to be closer to the center of things, so they moved two miles near the end of the 18th century. Soon, though, that church building still felt too far away. So, in 1845, they moved another mile, and onto the current property.

There was a clock in the original steeple, made by Jacob D. Custer, of Norristown, Pa. Custer made watches, one of the early Americans who did so, and created steam machinery, but he’s famous for his dozens and dozens of clocks. The one he installed here rang out for the first time on September 26, 1846. This was a town clock, many of the citizens were involved in raising the money, a local concern of clock makers took over the maintenance, and it rang out with news.

I always wonder how you were supposed to know what the ringing meant. There would have been a lot of cocked ears, and people wandering over to ask about the news of the day. This one, for instance, rang to celebrate the end of the Civil War. A few weeks later it filled the air to mark Abraham Lincoln’s funeral.

In 1902 storm damage got to the 56-year-old clock, and by the next year the city saw it shut down. The editor of the local newspaper, who was also the mayor — and in 1903, this wasn’t a problem — raised money for a new clock. He tossed in $200 himself, and so the church and city went to a clock maker in Connecticut, the Seth Thomas Company for a new timepiece for the steeple. Custom-built, the new one weighed almost a ton. That didn’t include the eight-foot pendulum and the bell, which itself was 1,535 pounds. The whole thing was put into operation for the first time in 1903. There were lights behind the five-foot dials that apparently helped boats on the river.

But then, in January of 1947, the clock tower caught fire. The fire department was just a block away, but the winds were cold and stiff, the flames were hot and the clock was lost. They say it struck ten as smoke escaped the steeple, and stopped keeping time at 10:22.

A week later, there was a new fundraising effort. And 15 months later, there was a new clock installed, this time by a Boston firm, and the bell had to be recast and remounted. At 11:00 a.m. on April 15, 1948, the bell rang out again, and this version of the clock has been in place ever since.

If it’s working these days, it was running a few hours behind when I visited, according to the time stamp of the photo.

I wonder if they give tours inside to see the clockworks.

Next time, we’ll visit a 19th century building, that the web seems to know very little about. Should be fun! If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.


21
Feb 24

Too much of what we like

You start off with the best of intentions. You’re going to settle in and get all the grading done. Finished, finito and kaput. From there, you can take a deep breath, rub your eyes and do other things until it is time to get geared up for the next lecture and class notes.

That’s what you want to do, with the 51 things you have to grade, but when it comes down to it, you’ve come into 51 things to read and think about and give some useful feedback and, ultimately, grade.

It’s the grading part, you see. These are good assignments, but ultimately subjective. So, each time, with each assignment, you have to make sure you’re comfortable with the rubric and that you can deliver it equitably. All of this takes a little time and then there’s just the regular daily stuff and should that really be an 80? Or was it a 70? Should I call it 75? Was that a typo in the feedback?

It goes on and on. The mind goes round and round. And when I grade in bulk I am mindful of two things. First, I have to stay consistent throughout the process. Rubrics help with that, but you keep it at the forefront. The other thing is that I have to stop before I get blurry eyed. The grading must come in stages.

So much for the plan of knocking all of this out in one sitting. And that’s a big part of how Tuesday turns into Wednesday and Wednesday will turn into Thursday.

Time, once again, for We Learn Wednesdays. This is the 26th installment, so you are familiar with the idea. These are the local historical markers, as found by bike rides across the county. This is the 47th marker in the effort, which presently consists of photos I grabbed last fall.

Last week, we saw this building, and several of the colonial-era names we’ve learned in the last several months start to fit together. The courthouse is going on 400 years old, and sits near the center of downtown, even today.

Around the left side of the building, you find this small plaque.

John Fenwick fought, as a cavalry officer, for Oliver Cromwell in the Second English Civil War. (This one was about the Scots, King Charles and a parliament, including Cromwell, that didn’t like him killing his subjects, among other things.) Sometime around that same year he got married. In 1665 he left the Church of England and became a Quaker.

When he came to the new world in 1675 he created the first Quaker colony in North America, seven years before Philadelphia, even. The Salem Tenth was 1/10th of this region of the state. Basically the resolution of a convoluted and contentious series of business dealings, it was a 350-square mile county, making up most of two modern counties. Native Americans lived here, as did the children of earlier Swedish, English and Finnish settlers, people of modest means, merchants, farmers and craftsmen among the forests, meadows, bogs and waterways. The farms ranged from 50 to 300 acres.

It was Fenwick that recorded a land deed with the local Lenape Indian tribe. It was a deed and treaty with indigenous residents that was actually honored. You might remember reading about this in a history class somewhere along the way. The deal was made, the story goes, under the Salem Oak, which died in 2019, at almost 600 years old. Saplings were shipped to every town in the state.

Just a few of the modern allusions I’ve found to Fenwick refer to him as hapless, troublesome and eccentric.

The bottom of the plaque says “That my said colony and all the planters within the same may be settled in the Love of God – and in that peace which becomes all our great professions of being Christians.” Presumably that’s Fenwick, which doesn’t sound so bad a dream.

The Quaker still had some fight in him. It seems the colonial governor of New York, a man named Edmund Andros, wanted Fenwick to stop running his little area. These guys were political rivals. The governor obviously had power. Fenwick felt the same way.

Fenwick regarded himself the political equal of Governor Andros that he was the head of a small, but rapidly increasing colony that he was Patroon by purchase; was Governor by choice of the people. He had pledged his allegiance to the King and taken an oath to discharge the duties of his office faithfully, and to the interests of the people without fear or affection, and hence could not recognize any power greater that his own, save when the prerogative of the King should be exercised.

Andros, obviously, didn’t see it that way. Couldn’t see it that way. He had Fenwick tossed in jail a few times. Once, the governor’s men came down and Fenwick

bolted himself in his house and refused to go “without he was carried away either dead or alive, and if anyone dare to come to take him it was at their peril, and he would do their business” (New Jersey Archives, I, 190).

He had two homes in the area, was looked upon as a possessor of valuable belongings by his peers. Having been a cavalry officer, he maintained good horses. He was a successful enough farmer for his time. He made furniture, and then became a barber and a phlebotomist. When he was about 65, his health failing, he moved in with his daughter, and died that same year.

He’s buried in an old family cemetery, but we don’t know precisely where his grave is. In the 1920s a marker was put nearby, but there’s not a specific marker for his grave. I’ll have to go by there sometime.

Next week, we’ll visit a 19th century fire house. If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.

Here I am on the descent of Box Hill, in the Surrey Hills, in the Zwift cycling video game, exercise program and winter base mileage accumulator. Yesterday I did the PRL Half, which features Box Hill, a 1.9 mile climb with an average gradient of 4.4 percent, though in places it sneaks quite a bit higher. Right after the primary climb, each time, is a maddening extra climb, a short leg breaker that isn’t happy until you’re going uphill at 9 and 11 percent. But all of that is behind me right here, on my last descent of the day.

Box Hill is said to be a GPS-accurate climb of the real Box Hill that figures into the actual Prudential RideLondon-Surrey route and was featured prominently in the 2012 Olympics. It isn’t the hardest hill, in the real world or on Zwift, but there enough to it to make for an interesting mental obstacle. In yesterday’s route, I had to go over it four times.

This route is the PRL Half which copies the distanced of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey. I don’t know if I’ll do the PRL Full. I tried the half a few days ago, completed two circuits and decided I’d rather go eat. I’ve never decided anything that quickly, in one heartbeat I was going under the banner, ready to start lap three and in the next I said, “Nah,” and pressed the exit button.

That was the right decision, but sometimes even the right decisions can ring in your ears. So, yesterday, it was back to the half. Four laps, each anchored with that Box Hill climb. I had a plan. Go out slow the first time, slow-ish for the second lap, do whatever felt right on lap three and drag myself over the climb on the final loop. It seemed a wise plan.

This is what happened. On Zwift there are ghost riders, representations of your effort the last time you were on that particular route. Sometimes they fall behind you because you’re stronger, today, than you were the last time. Sometimes they dance just ahead of you for reasons unknown to man and science. Some days they disappear ahead of you because you’re tired. On my first lap I kept pace with the ghost rider, even as I was telling myself to go slow. This particular route gives you two ghost riders. One for the whole lap, and the segment for the Box Hill climb. So, at one point on that first lap, I had two ghost riders ahead of me. And then I was ahead of them, and so on. At the top of the 1.9-mile climb, I was in between them. I had to chase the first ghost down the hill.

When we got back to the starting banner I was able to follow my go slow-ish strategy for lap two. First the initial ghost rider and then the second would dangle just ahead of me, until nearing the top of the hill. The full lap ghost rider finished just ahead of me, and that was fine, because I was in this for the duration, not the time. At these speeds, duration was a thing.

Now I had to get over the climb on the third lap and let my legs rest on the descent. The ghost riders, again, only riding at my previous pace, but they easily dispatched me. That’s good for the morale on lap four.

On lap four, I found a nice little burst. I dropped the first ghost rider right away and when I linked up with the second ghost rider on the climb, he too fell behind. I hit the peak of Box Hill some 42 seconds ahead of both of them, and had about three minutes on the full-lap ghost by the time I finished the loop.

Which meant I had to continue on for nine more miles. And then sprint! Anyway, that’s 42 miles in the basement. The effort helped turn this February into the fourth most prolific month I’ve ever had on the bike. Before the week is out this should become my most productive month. There will be several spreadsheets to update.

I cut 100 words from the Box Hill story so I could include the most salient details of tonight’s late night ride. It was a flat course, but it featured five sprints. The Zwift timer shows two data points. One is your performances over the last 90 days in that particular sprint segment. The other is your time, relative to everyone else in that Zwift world at the moment. So you can see your times historically, but also your results compared to the 2,500 peers currently pedaling away around the world.

In those five sprints, I finished 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 5th and 1st.

My avatar wearing the coveted green sprinter’s jersey means simply this: all of the real fast people were already fast asleep.

Something you’ll like even more: a few more photos from last month’s SCUBA diving trip. The most important element, of course, being my dive buddy, and the best fish in all of the world’s seas.

Here’s another decent photo of a giant tortuga. She was big, and very patient with us.

And here’s a random photo I managed to take at the end of the dive. It seems I was juuuuust about to break the surface.

But who wants to do that?


14
Feb 24

Some of these marker features are starting to come together

I only showed you a few of the flowers from the fresh cut collection currently adorning the house. In addition to the pretty purples, we have these delicate pink and white petals ready to spread their grandeur.

I’m choosing to see this as a sign, and a welcome one, that the pastels are on their way.

Meanwhile, in the basement arboretum, there are now three pink roses in bloom. Another plant also has two flowers on display. They seem to be sticking around for a good long while. It could be my imagination, or it could be the long grow light and light watering.

I’m going to have to carry those plants back up and outside eventually. There’s only eight of them, so it’ll be little trouble. But I’ll also have to clean up that part of the basement, too. That might be the one thing about the eventual run up to spring I’m dreading. It’ll take probably 10 minutes. But that’s still some ways off. Snow is in the forecast for the weekend.

It is time for another installment of We Learn Wednesdays. This is the 25th installment, so you know the premise by now. I ride my bike across the county to find the local historical markers. Right now, we’re working our way through a handful I stockpiled in late fall. These are the 45th and 46th markers we’ve seen in the series.

And this building has some proper history to it.

This side was altered in the last expansion, including the brick work, the Palladian windows and the porch. The cupola, hip roof and box cornice are original.

In 1774, the courthouse was the site of a county petition to King George III. In it, the locals discussed their colonial grievances. From here, they also sent county relief to Boston.

Judge William Hancock presided in the King’s Court of Common Pleas. As we learned last October, Hancock’s property, about five miles away, was at the center of a skirmish during the harsh winter of 1778. The British were foraging on this side of a creek, and the colonials on the other side. The redcoats crossed the water and fixed bayonets. When they came upon Hancock’s house, the British entered through the front and the back, and killed the small detachment of militia men there that night, 20 or so, according to the British commander. But also killed was Judge Hancock.

That same year, the courthouse held the treason trials. Four locals were tried and convicted and sentenced to death for helping the British soldiers in that raid. They were pardoned by the governor and exiled. The governor would eventually sign the U.S. Constitution.

The oldest courthouse, by the way, is in Virginia, and it is only a decade older. But the first courthouse here was even older. A building that they believe was made of logs, was the local legal center dating back to 1692. And they paper records from hearings that are dated 1706. But if it’s the still-standing buildings, the Virginia courthouse has the honors, but that pile of bricks in Virginia doesn’t have this bit of trivia.

The Salem courthouse is the site of the legend of Robert Gibbon Johnson. Here he stood before an amazed crowd eating tomatoes, proving they are edible.

Col. Johnson announced that he would eat a tomato, also called the wolf peach, Jerusalem apple or love apple, on the steps of the county courthouse at noon. … That morning, in 1820, about 2000 people were jammed into the town square. … The spectators began to hoot and jeer. Then, 15 minutes later, Col. Johnson emerged from his mansion and headed up Market Street towards the Courthouse. The crowd cheered. The fireman’s band struck up a lively tune. He was a very impressive-looking man as he walked along the street. He was dressed in his usual black suit with white ruffles, black shoes and gloves, tricorn hat, and cane. At the Court House steps he spoke to the crowd about the history of the tomato. … He picked a choice one from a basket on the steps and held it up so that it glistened in the sun. … “To help dispel the tall tales, the fantastic fables that you have been hearing … And to prove to you that it is not poisonous I am going to eat one right now”… There was not a sound as the Col. dramatically brought the tomato to his lips and took a bite. A woman in the crowd screamed and fainted but no one paid her any attention; they were all watching Col. Johnson as he took one bite after another. … He raised both his arms, and again bit into one and then the other. The crowd cheered and the firemen’s band blared a song. … “He’s done it”, they shouted. “He’s still alive!”

Great story. Pure fiction. It was written in the 1940s, punched up twice more in that decade for books and radio. And so on. In the 1980s, the locals did a reenactment. In 1988, Good Morning America took it to heart and reported this apocryphal first.

Everybody knew about tomatoes.

Where that crowd would have supposedly stood there are some pavers on the ground. And here is another marker, and an absent piece of history. This marker says “Il Sannito. Forged in Naples, Italy in 1763.” There’s a list of the groups who’s donations made a restoration possible. And notes that it was re-dedicated on October 30, 2013, to commemorate the cannon’s “250th birthday.”

And that cannon could really blow out some candles, let me tell you. Il Sannito isn’t in place, but one of its sister cannons is, and we met it in September. There were three cannons, originally. The Italians made them, but Napoleon collected them in one of his battles. The French fought with them, until they lost them to the British and then the British lost them to the Americans in the War of 1812. The state militia got them sometime after that. These two have been on display in local towns, the third one is just … gone.

And where is Il Sannito? There are not, and this will come as a surprise to you as it did to me, not a lot of mentions of 18th century Italian metalworks in the middle of a 21st century town not too far removed from being a news desert. From a photo on the Historical Marker Database and Google Maps’ street view, I can tell you it was removed again between July of 2020 and April of 2023. But that’s all I know as of this writing. This is what it looks like, so if you see any cannons behaving suspiciously … drop me a line.

Next week, we’ll walk around the side of the old courthouse. I bet we’ll find a marker there. If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.

Let’s wrap up this day with a trip back under the water. Look! A mermaid!

Seriously, she does not breathe. I don’t know how she manages that. I started looking for gills on this dive trip.

I started looking, but then I got distracted by this tortuga.

That’s a photo taken through the video recording on my underwater camera. Distressingly, the secondary function of my video camera which shoots underwater is not of a terribly high quality.

Here’s an actual photo. Same tortuga.

A version of that photo is going on the site’s front page eventually. The first updates on that are coming tomorrow. Be sure to swing back by and check that out. And if you come back to the blog tomorrow, you’ll see more of that turtle, and a few other neat things as well.