ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)

Back at work and in the office today. All that writing and reading I'd planned on doing while I was off did not get done, though it's not unexpected - I'm not very good at sitting still when I'm not on the clock.

Went camping with the express purpose of hiking some trails and getting some kayaking in. Success on both fronts. The weather cooperated nicely, even if the brain didn't. Witness the litany of things I forgot to pack:
- a pot (amazing the number of things you can cook in a single frying pan in a pinch)
- a lid for the non-existent pot to put over the frying pan
- camp chairs (can be attributed to a lack of space)
- a strainer for pasta (used a slotted spatula to pick noodles out of the pan)
- a coffee pot of any sort (see comment #1 regarding the frying pan)(I have three camping perks in a bin under the stairs. There's no excuse for this one)
- pancake syrup (picked wild blueberries and used as substitute with extra bacon grease while cooking. Yum!)
- the dials for the camp stove that fell off and which I found and put in a VERY safe place LAST summer. (Used the pliers in my tackle box to turn the propane up or down - who needs eyebrows anyhow?)
- the frozen pork chops for one night's supper (thank god they never made it out of the freezer and not left sitting on the counter)
-Miscellaneous tongs, oven mitts, and other cooking-over-the-fire paraphernalia (I was a boy scout. I got this one with my eyes closed. Witness me brandishing my marshmallow roasting sticks!)

Books I did finish: The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules (Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg) - The League of Pensioners, unsatisfied with the treatment at their retirement home, plan and execute a series of white collar crimes, escalating in a bank robbery. Tranlated from the original Swedish, it's both a fun read and a clever statement on the invisibility of aging.
Next up on the nightstand: Yiddish for Pirates (Gary Barwin). From the author's website: Set in the years around 1492, Yiddish for Pirates tells the story of Moishe, a young man who, enchanted by maps and seeking adventure, leaves the shtetl to join a ship’s crew. There he meets Aaron, our ribald yet philosophical parrot narrator who becomes his near-constant companion. With a beakful of Yiddish jokes, this wisecracking bird guides us through a swashbuckling world of pirate ships and exploits on the high seas.

Here, have a vacation picture:

panoramic view of rocky shoreline at dusk

ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
I'm away from the office on training this week. Pros: I'm away from the office all week. Cons: the course isn't very good or as in depth as advertised. Sad when the other students are asking you questions because they are unsatisfied by the instructor's answers.

I thought long and hard for something witty or entertaining to post this week, but that ain't happening.
Here, have a picture of a duck photobombing my goose picture instead:

Also, it is officially fall.

Signal boost:[community profile] fringe_exchange sign ups are open. I'm not in a place where I can make that kind of creative commitment this year, but don't let that stop you from signing up. (It really is a low pressure exchange. And fun.)
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
It's been so incredibly long since I last posted that I don't even know where to start. Short form: Got my boat operator's license card (it says I'm Competent. whoohoo!), recovering from a minor car accident takes way longer than I'd like (being 20 definitely wasted on 20 year olds), but the kayaking is helping with the upper back problems so long as I don't overdo it. I overdo it. Work was soul-crushingly busy. Went on holidays. Returned to work. Less soul-crushing, but still busy. I can live with that.

Some kayak photos:
here there be photos )

Started reading Wool by Hugh Howey, but had to put it down after the first chapter because those kind of gory bait-and-switch surprises are not what I'm looking for in my summer vacation reading.

Then I read The Giver by Lois Lowry, which I really enjoyed, right up until the ending, which I felt was a cheat for the character of Jonas. Again, the kind of twist not a summer reading priority, however the book is a deeper social commentary than it first appears and I'm still thinking it over.

Books I did enjoy so far this summer: The Martian by Andy Weir, for it's sly portrayal of space exploration in the Chris Hadfield-age of social media (not to mention that it's sometimes downright funny to the space exploration geek in me), and Percy Jackson - The Titan's Curse (Rick Riordan), because it was handy and surprisingly immersive for children's lit, despite the writing style.

Currently reading Mr. Mercedes (Stephen King) because at least I know to expect death and destruction and not to get too attached to any of the secondary characters (or even the ones in the opening chapters - no thank you Hugh Howey)

Watching: What, are you kidding? It's summer! Why are you people in front of your tv's?
Ok, seriously, watching Longmire still and I take back my grumblings at the beginning of season three about dropped plot lines. I'm going to need a second watch of this season end-to-end without all the Viagra commercials though. Graham Greene is killing me playing the bad guy after growing up watching him play mostly the stereo typical comedic or wise Indian roles on tv here.

So. Hi. How are you all?
ziparumpazoo: (DockPhto)

Technically, not the best photo of the evening - the lights, they danced ).

However, I like the composition here, especially how the neighbor's furnace exhaust demonstrates how frickin cold and windy it was. (-28C/-18F, -42C with the windchill). At those temps, my camera battery lasted just over half an hour.

Dear Santa, I could really really really use a new parka this year.
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)

I've been playing around a bit with Lightroom - it's about as complicated a piece of software as I can handle for post-processing without getting frustrated and finding something better to do. The other night gave me some really good material to work with:
low light, long exposures, and empty spaces... )

In other news... two things actually -
1. iOS7 seems to have killed wifi on my iPhone 4s. Which would be more annoying than anything if it weren't for the fact that some process or another is still running in the background that I can't kill and is draining my battery at an alarming rate. I've even gone so far as reset it to factory image, but no luck. We'll see what the Apple store people have to say about it today, even though it's off warranty. I feel naked without it at the moment.

2. Google's Photo is using Picasa as their in-browser photo editing tool now. This is probably old news, but new to me. I use the app and like it a lot for it's simplicity and control, as well as it not depending on a bunch of pre-set filters heavy on the retro look. (you can use those too, but they're not your only option)

*Eta: it's not iOS7 to blame, but one of the four hundred or so times I've dropped my phone that broke the antenna. Crud. Need Velcro fingers or something...
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
Went to go stargazing and this happened:


Six more of varying degrees of interesting )

Related, I got two separate requests for pre-orders on the yearly calendar I put together this past weekend. In years past I've just been uploading the photos to Walmart, filling out the template, and then having them printed at the closest store to whomever was picking up the order. Price/convenience/quality, it was the easiest, however now that I'm printing more than a handful, it makes sense to use it to partially finance my hobby. Just trying to figure out how to do it without a) a huge investment on my part, and b) not losing the trust of the people interested in the first place.
ziparumpazoo: (Angry Birds)
Excerpt from a recent email I sent regarding the bird situation in my yard:

Here the drama is unfolding this afternoon between a sparrow who wants the birdhouse on the play structures (and I can never figure out why such twitchy things like birds feel safe nesting where kids are climbing and yelling six inches from their eggs, but whatever), and the European Starlings that have already claimed the birdhouse and judging from how the noise has escalated from them this week, have eggs in waiting. The starlings sound like half-chewed squeaky dog toys. The robins, who are competing with the starlings over who has dominance over the choice branches in the willow, are upset with the killdeer next door, who are extra shrieky because the bunny has a nest of babies under the deck where the good rocks are and keeps chasing them off. And then in the midst of all this, there's some threesome flirtation going on between the little yellow finches, the female having forgiven the male last year from falling off the branch when he was courting her, or else she's found a new, less clumsy guy who can hold on to a branch in a strong wind, and last year's suitor is chasing them around the yard in a fit of either jealousy or woe.

I'm sure if I watched long enough, I'll see some interconnecting theme tying all these individual species' stories together like a Guillermo Arriaga movie.

The cast:
starling ...The Starling
killdeer ...Lady Killdeer
rabbit ...Bunny
goldfinch ...Jilted Finch
IMG_4318 ...Robin
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
Took this photo this morning:
(April 5th/2013)

One year and two days later, and at the exact same spot I took this photo... )
Something seems wrong here, no?
ION, because all the people listing it in their "what I'm watching on TV posts" lately, I caught up with The Americans, and while I don't quite feel fannish about it (it's one of those shows where I get the feeling that I'm watching a different show than everyone else even though it's the same time slot and channel - different experiences and upbringing = different set of viewing glasses), I do find it very intriguing and actually one of the few shows that manages to keep my undivided attention for the full hour as it subtly contrasts things like cold-war era American vs Russian upbringings and culture and women's roles and expectations in that era. I might have more to say on it some other time, but for now, it's hitting a lot of my character-focused storytelling buttons. Also, I can't help wondering where the heck they found so many early-80s cars in such mint condition...

Also tried Lost Girl, but it didn't stick. Sad for me. I never can get hooked on shows that are drive by supernatural/mythology/fantasy-type plotlines. I missed out on the whole Buffy experience too. Just not my wiring.
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
Happy first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere...
Monday's storm brought three-foot drifts across my driveway. Last year at this time we were wearing shorts.

The ISS passed over my house this morning. I waved, but I don't think they saw me among the snowdrifts.
TV I am watching right now: )
Also, I heard rumor that Fringe's Jasika Nicole will have a guest spot this season. \o/

Books I have recently read: Longmire )
So, in summary, I'm looking forward to June and the next novel's release. Also, looking forward to A&E airing season two of the series sometime over the summer.
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
From the front, they're these little espresso-cup sized birds with the red head tuft and the pretty song are cute, but from the back they might belong to the vampire family instead:

spring is soooooo far off still... )
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
We are under a winter storm warning.

pleased with my cheap knock-off Cokin graduated NDR filter )

Also, not sure if I've linked this before, but I did pick up a very cheap circular polarizing filter to stack with my more expensive once to make a variable ND filter. Works as advertised, and an easy way to determine if you'd actually get use of a neutral density filter without shelling out a lot of money.
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
Thanksgiving long weekend, followed by a short week wherein there is just as much to do as in a regular week is not as much of a holiday as it seems. However, there was, and still is pie.

Things have been too busy around here lately to have an opinion on anything, so here you go all at once. *g*

So, Fringe )

Books )

Seems I haven't made a post here in ages without spamming y'all with pictures. Wouldn't want to break that trend. ;)

I managed to find some cheap graduated neutral density filters and filter mount online a while back, and by cheap, I mean inexpensive - not brandname, but good enough for my level of photography that I can play with them and decide if this is something worth splurging on more expensive glass or resin filters. Basically, what a graduated ND filter allows you to do is use a slower shutter speed or a wider aperture than you normally would be able to use in bright conditions in order to allow more light (and hence, brighter colors, or that misty look to waterfalls and oceans) through the lens. You can also use them to even out the ground and the sky in a landscape shot without the need to over- or under-expose one or the other.

So, even though it was snowing/raining out the day they arrived, there I was sinking into the not-yet-frozen river bank to try them out:

Photography )
ziparumpazoo: (Angry Birds)
Or rather taking pictures of them, apparently. I don't have any particular fondness for bird-watching, but they do make interesting and challenging subjects. I realized I have more pictures of birds from the last month of vacation, than I do of anything else. Here's a sample:

Clearly, this bird thinks it is Batman.

bird-spam heavy )
ziparumpazoo: (DockPhto)
Because you asked...
(and I like to talk about these things... :)

There are probably more and better documented ways to capture lightning or fireworks shows at night, but this is what I've found, though several hundred frames of trial-and-error, works best for me.


First and most important rule of photographing lightning: Be Safe!

I don’t think this can be overstated. It’s easy to get caught up in storm-watching and lose track of what’s going on around you. Shoot from the cover of porches, cars, or other covered and grounded structures. Shoot an open field or a valley from a distance with a clear sky overhead and safe shelter nearby. Lightning always takes the quickest path to the ground and will jump from one ungrounded object to the next in order to reach it.

That said, trying to capture lightning or fireworks is one of the few times that I’d advocate that the camera makes the difference. That, or having lightning-fast reflexes. (intentional pun is intentional)

This isn’t to say that you need a thousand dollar setup to get the job done. But what you do need is a camera with a full manual mode; that is, one where you can control the aperture (F-stop), film speed, and length of exposure. )

Questions? (Or, "Crap, Zip, that makes no sense at all... please explain?")
ziparumpazoo: Tree covered in pink frost (Default)
Because [profile] a_loquita, [personal profile] supplyship, and [personal profile] mrspollifax kept me up late last night (a real hardship, I know! ;), I was still awake while this very active storm cell passed overhead.


will the last person out of Asgard please remember to turn off the bifrost? )
If anybody's interested, I'm thinking of putting together a post on how to photograph lightning and other bright night subjects. y/n?
ziparumpazoo: (DockPhto)
It's not that I'm taking any fewer pictures, just that I think I'm becoming more critical about which ones I release into the wilds. Probably the same goes for writing too; more time thinking about the angle and what I want to say than just dashing off words and being surprised at what comes out. I'd like to think of it as maturity, but don't tell that to the rest of myself.

Winter wheat. Spring wheat is still green right now. I was really hoping for some lightning this morning, but couldn't hang around to see what panned out.

two birds and one moon )
ziparumpazoo: (Walter)
For [personal profile] supplyship, since the weather isn't cooperating there:
Taken with 18-200mm lens, ISO-100, f/36, 1/640seconds. Through welder's glass. With bonus sunspots.

two more at sunset under the cut )