Blog Template Update  

Friday, October 31, 2008

I updated my template again. Don't worry if you hate it. I'll probably change it in the spring. I already have a template picked out.. unless I change my mind between now and then.

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Fall Color  

These were taken in several different cities over several different days.



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Catawba County, NC Fall 2008  

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday morning I decided to take a little tour of Catawba County, where my sister lives, because it was on my way to the South Mountains.

I didn't really see everything, of course, but I was able to highlight an old church and graveyard, and some of the local scenery. Click on the link to see the pictures larger and in more detail.



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The graveyard was really interesting. I've seen older gravestones in Boston, and these weren't as well preserved. Anything older than around the 1860's was pretty much illegible, although a tracing might have revealed more.

I mentioned to my sister how all of those people wanted to be remembered, or at least their families wanted them to be remembered, and yet after a few centuries the headstones are illegible. She said that the families in the area have been there for centuries, including her husband's family, and they know who's buried where. It's a badge of pride to have family buried in the oldest graveyard in the county.

I never really lived in any one place for very long and I've never felt any place was really home. I moved when I was young from Illinois to North Carolina. I had some objection to being a Southerner, so I never settled in there like my brothers and sister did. Even here in Kansas I feel rootless. I can't even conceptualize having family in the same place for generations.

Oh, another little thing I noticed. Many of the tombstones are shaped like a sheeted ghost. You know, the bump of a head and two arms outstretched, the rest a formless body. I wonder if that had anything to do with people seeing ghosts.

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A Week of Sun October 21 - 27, 2008  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I took more photos on my four day trip than I did when I went to England last time for two weeks. That's the power of an incredibly expensive camera. Or, it's just me being obsessive.

I'll have those up eventually, but I hope to have some really blog posts soon too. Not just pictures.

The fifth picture really deserves more of an explanation. I kept trying to get a picture of the rainbow on the way into work, but the rainbow would disappear when I tried to get a frame free of cars and traffic lights. This is the best I could do, and still it's faint.



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Away  

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I'll be out of town for the next 4-5 days and I may not have access to the internet while I'm away. I should be back around Tuesday or Wednesday, so my series posts may be late.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Meme: Five Ways Blogging Has Changed Me  

Lynet at Elliptica tagged me. This meme was begun by L. L. Barkat. The rules are as follows:

1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.
2. link back to the person who tagged you
3. link back to this parent post (LL says she's "not so much interested in generating links, but rather in tracking the meme so I can perhaps do a summary post later on that looks at patterns and interesting discoveries.")
4. tag a few friends or five, or none at all
5. post these rules— or just have fun breaking them

Five ways blogging has changed my life:

1. I feel like I've joined a community in the blog world, or in my case many small communities. For all that communities offer, the best thing is friendship. I feel like I've made some friends for life in the blogging world.

2. Joining people of like mind on any subject gives me more opportunity to think about things I normally wouldn't; things I'm interested in, but have little stimulation in my normal life. I've thought more about science in the last year than I think I have in the past 10 years and I'm a better person for it.

Most people think that blogging communities tend to insulate people, and they can, but I think in belonging to multiple communities I've been able to grow from multiple influences.

3. I can't think of how many times I've received words of encouragement, advice, congratulations, sympathy, and just friendly thoughts on this blog. It's made me happier.

4. I've grown more comfortable with me. I used to segment myself into work-me, home-me, alone-me, and family-me (and probably several others). And to some extent I still do. But through writing as alone-me, I feel more comfortable or maybe I'm more used to expressing myself.

5. Blogging has lead me further into not just talking about things, but doing them too. From podcasting to photography, I feel like I've been able to put my thoughts into action and it feels good.

Okay, I tag:

Aprilbapryll
Janet
Mamacita Chilena
PBS
Sean
Toniya
Venjanz

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Camera Experimentation: Flowers  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I stopped at a field near my apartment on the way home to see how well the new lens does with close ups. This is definitely one area where the new camera beats the old camera hands down.

You'll need to enlarge to see the lady bugs. They've been everywhere the last couple of weeks.



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A Week of Sun October 14 - 20, 2008  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So, the first two pictures, including the abysmal first picture, are with the old camera with the rest taken with the new camera. I'm still having trouble with pictures at dusk, usually only when there are lights in or very near the photograph or reflective signs to throw off the flash. But, I love the camera. I usually take 50-75 pictures in a week. This week I've taken over 250. I decided it was time to start deleting truly bad images after I saw what it was doing to the available space on my hard drive.

Oh yes, and the Extreme III SDHC cards are definitely worth the small increase in price. I copy pictures that are 2-3 times larger than my old images about 5 times faster. It doesn't help with Flickr uploads though.

All of the pictures are still unedited. I do plan to learn how to remove the light poles, for those of you who have asked, but I'm not there yet from a time perspective. I'm planning to take a digital photography class in the Spring, so hopefully that will help. Maybe I can somehow learn to avoid the light poles, though they seem to be everywhere around here.



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The New Toy  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cannon, taken with the Minolta

The new camera (Cannon) arrived today, but by the time the battery charged it was night. I took it out to see if night photography would work. A lot of shots just wouldn't take, even holding the button down for minutes. I'm unfamiliar with the tripod and it's made the pictures worse so far. I took the picture below of a planet or star (click to enlarge) and a few pictures of the moon.

Some planet or star

Here's my old forlorn camera (Minolta). I'll still use it for when I don't want to chance carrying the new camera around. It may reside in my car semi-permanently.


I took comparative shots with the Cannon and Minolta cameras, although Billy wasn't too pleased about being the subject.

Billy - Minolta

Billy - Cannon

As you can probably see, the Cannon picture is much more detailed and focused on the actual subject, not everything else, including the blanket. His fur looks more glossy too, but that might just be the flash difference.

I don't yet feel comfortable with the new camera. It's not as heavy as I expected and holding it is actually very comfortable. But the controls are unfamiliar and I'm not used to looking through the viewfinder. I take all of my pictures now through the screen, sometimes not able to see what I'm taking due to the glare of the sun. Still, I know once I get used to the Cannon my pictures will improve. Tomorrow I'll try my sunrise pictures with the Cannon.

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Art for Charity  

Mamacita Chilena over at Just Married Chilean Style is running a charity art project to support a co-worker of her husband, Marcelo, who is planning to go back to school for his Tecnico en Construccion. He makes too much for government support, but not enough to support his family and pay for school. The jobs he would be qualified for if he completed his degree would allow him to advance his career and support his family and fiance.

Mamacita has made the commitment to sponsor his education when he goes back to school in March '09 as long as he stays committed to school because she wants to help Marcelo further his goals as people did for her as she was growing up. To help with the costs she is using all of the proceeds from the sale of her fine art prints from October 6th to November 6th to pay for Marcelo's school fees.

The prints are gorgeous and the money goes to a good cause. If you're thinking about buying art or gifts for friends and family during the holidays, have a look at her site. You'll be able to buy originals from an artist who is just starting her career.

I had a hard time deciding, but finally ordered these two.

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A Week of Sun October 7 - 13, 2008  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A lot of these were taken in the car, although thankfully not while I was moving since I was in the driver's seat. People watch me as I roll down my window at stop lights to get a picture and they must think I'm mad.

My damaged camera is still holding up, although I'm having trouble getting clear shots, especially in low light. Several pictures this week looked fine on the display and then displayed fuzzy when I looked at a larger view. It's too bad too because the sky was pretty amazing.

My new camera should be arriving today, but I'm not sure how long it'll be before I start using it. I haven't used a SLR in more than a decade. I'm a little nervous.



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On a Brighter Note  

Friday, October 10, 2008

Connecticut gets it right.

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On Funerals  

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Last weekend I attended a funeral. Death is difficult, but all the more difficult when it occurs to someone young. My brother's wife died quietly in her sleep at home last Friday. She had cancer for a long time, even before my brother met her, but she stayed strong through several bouts of treatment and remission before the disease finally ate through her entire body, except her brain. In the end I suppose that was kind, that she never lost her sense of self, even as her body became foreign to her.

It wasn't that we didn't know she was at the last of her strength, but I don't think anyone expected it at that moment. I wasn't particularly close to my sister-in-law although I liked her and enjoyed her company when I visited family. But I mostly felt sadness for my brother, who will have to live without someone he loved. Whenever he broke down I felt like a puddle of tears. My brother is more of a softy than the strong, silent type, but seeing the emotion so plainly on his face was more than I could take.

Since my grandmother died when I was in high school I've had trouble with wakes. That was the first death that was personal to me. While maybe good for the brain to realize that person is irrevocably gone, I don't want to see the body in the casket. I'd rather remember someone in life, moving with expression. They never look like they're in peaceful repose to me. They're just not there anymore. Not because they've gone on to a better place, since I believe we only have one life, but because the without the brain functioning, the person isn't really there.

But the funerals are worse. I was prepared for a religious service after reading about the funeral of Philly Chief's aunt. It's something I didn't notice much when I was a believer. But I was still shocked by the grab for souls that the preacher made during the eulogy. He never once praised my sister-in-law for the person she was or the things she did in life. He claimed he didn't know if she was saved or not. He even alluded that she might be at that very moment burning in hell. But he was only too happy to claim that she would want each and every person in the audience to receive Christ.

As angry as I was I stared straight at him and feigned boredom during his altar call. I even managed a yawn. After all, it wasn't my call to make. My brother and her family had the funeral they wanted and despite feeling sick about it, it wasn't my place to say one way or another what kind of funeral she should have. But it didn't stop me from feeling his sermon was inappropriate. Even my brother-in-law, though I'm sure he considers himself Christian, complained afterwards that there was too much brimstone.

It only makes me that much more determined to not let that sort of thing happen at my funeral. I never really cared about my own funeral before. I won't be there to see what happens so why should it matter? Except for the thought of my loved ones being manipulated at at time of vulnerability I wouldn't give it a second thought. But now I have an overwhelming desire to plan out my own funeral. Is that healthy or normal?

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A Week of Sun September 30 - October 6, 2008  

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I had to go out of town unexpectedly this weekend. So the blog has been neglected, as well as email (holy moly people!), and everything else. But I did bring my camera. I didn't get back until late last night though, so this post is a little late.

The new camera will hopefully be ordered on Friday. I have to check my finances again after this last trip, but I think there's still enough for the camera, a lens, and possibly a tripod. So, hopefully I'll have fun playing around with it sometime next week.

There was an incredible sunset on Saturday night, but I wasn't driving so I didn't demand they pull over so that I could take pictures. Most of the view from the pictures I took that evening were lost behind the trees.



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Reading List for October  

Thursday, October 02, 2008



It's hard to believe that I've almost made it to the end of the list.

Read in September
The Flight of Peter Fromm - Martin Gardner (Nonbelieving Literati)
Fulgrim (The Horus Heresy) - Graham McNeill

Currently Reading
The Android's Dream - John Scalzi

Coming Up Next
Remembering Hypatia by Brian Trent (Nonbelieving Literati)
The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science - Natalie Angier

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Blurry Sun  

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


This was my favorite photo from last week's set, but the out-of-focus look, which wasn't intentional, just didn't quite work.

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