More D80 Pictures

Now that I’m feeling a little better, I decided to do more playing with the new camera. Here are a quartet of new pictures that, I think, are an improvement over the previous batch.

GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinch

Ground SquirrelGround Squirrel
This little guy thought he was going to get inside where it is warm. Either that or he was grabbing seeds dropped from the bird feeder.

Blue JayBlue Jay

Contrails Contrails at Sunset

I think I’m starting to get a handle on some of the features on this camera. The trick will be getting familiar enough to use them quickly and efficiently.

Sick

I don’t know what it is but I’ve been feeling rotten since yesterday. Thursday morning I was fine and then about noon it seemed like all my energy drained away almost instantly. I had terrible chills, muscle aches and no appetite . Since then I’ve been alternating between soaking in the hot tub and sleeping. The only positive thing is that Jan is away until Monday so I may not pass it along to her.

It may be rather quiet around here for a while.

NaNoWriMo

I always have had a dream (nightmare?) about writing fiction. I know many other people who feel the same way. If you are one of those, you might want to check out NaNoWriMo That’s NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth.

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

I think that this year I will give it a stab, but only unofficially. I’m not quite ready for the level of intensity that writing a novel in public view would involve. But you may find it your cup of tea.

Sunset

This past weekend was rather dreary around here but we had one impressive sunset that almost made up for all the cold and wet.

As a point of fact, Jan and I are crazy about sunsets. We have taken hundreds of sunset pictures from Germany to New Zealand and plenty in between. If I’d shot all of them with my newest camera then I’d consider doing a picture book of sunset shots. Anyway, here is the one from this weekend.

Sunset

Note: I’ve reduced the amount of JPEG compression on this shot. Hope it has fewer artifacts and is still okay for those without highspeed connections.

New Camera

After coveting the Nikon D80 digital SLR since it was announced I finally took the plunge. Actually it was as much Jan’s decision as mine. I got the ‘kit’ with an 18-135mm zoom lens. It seems to be great for both wide angle and telephoto and focuses as close as 18 inches at all zoom levels. No image stabilization on this lens but the higher ISO of the camera makes up for that somewhat.

I’ve only spent one day playing with it, reading the manual and taking some test/practice shots but I already am in love with it. The camera has so many options and modes and I have only just begun to explore all its features. Right now I’m sticking to the automatic mode but will try some of the other options as I get acquainted with them.

Here a a few shots to give you an idea of how it works.

Hot Tub

(This is old news but I thought it might interest some readers)
When we were avid skiers one of our apr├Ęs-ski delights was a soak in a hot tub. Soon after we moved into our current house we decided we would get one of our own. Where to put it turned out to be a minor problem. Finally we decided to turn an unused attic space into a room specifically for the hot tub.

First it was necessary to reinforce the floor below the room to carry the weight (approximately 1 ton) of water the tub would hold. Next we finished the room with sky light windows, a vent fan and water resistant floor, paneling and sheet rock.

The big problem was: How to get the tub into the room? As you can see from this picture, it’s pretty large. Bigger than the door to the room and even too large to carry up the stairs.

Hot Tub

Fox

Jan woke me up early this morning, telling me not to let the cat (Itty) go outside today. The reason; She had spotted two foxes in the yard a few minutes before. She was able to snap a hasty photo though the critters were moving rather quickly and the light was dim.

Fox

Fun With Numbers

Recently I heard a couple of news items that started me thinking. The first was a comment that the US Gross National Product (GNP) is in the vicinity of 13 trillion dollars. That’s $13,000,000,000,000 ! A tremendous sum of money in any terms. The second news item was that sometime this month the population of the US will reach 300 million.

Being a mathophile I couldn’t resist dividing the GNP by the population. The result; $43,333. That is the amount of wealth produced by every single US citizen, assuming that they all contributed equally.

Of course it’s not that simple for a number of reasons. One reason is that not all people work. Children, the elderly, invalids, the unemployed and others reduce the real size of the work force. In 2006 the actual number of people employed in the US was around 144 million. Using this number gives $90,277 as the average value produced by every worker.

I’m not suggesting that every worker contributes the same to the GNP nor do I believe that the wealth produced should be distributed on a per capita basis. These numbers are only averages.

Yet I can’t help compare that $90,277 with the 2006 average workers income of $29,000. That simply points out the tremendous difference between the rich and the poor in this country. It makes me wonder how long the average worker can continue to believe in the American Dream when they share so little of the wealth they help produce.

Income and employment statistics from The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Signs of Winter

Less than four weeks into the Fall season and already the signs of Winter are showing. Our walnut trees have lost almost all of their leaves, along with a bumper crop of nuts. The maples are in various stages of color change and leaf loss. SnowThis morning I was greeted with an unwelcome (though expected) sight – a dusting of snow on the lawn. It won’t last. The ground is too warm, still it is an early notice of things to come.

But I’m not ready for winter! I haven’t cleaned the chimney, put away the hoses, shut down the pond, raked leaves, split firewood or any of the other tasks that need to be done before Winter really arrives. It’s so easy to put those things off when the calendar says it is two months before Winter arrives. No doubt next week it will warm up and we’ll have some more of those wonderful Fall days. I’ll probably go back into denial and procrastinate more.

At times I envy those who live in places where the change of seasons is not so pronounced. But when I visit the warmer places I realize how much I would miss the yearly pageant of change. I still enjoy all the seasons too much and I’m not yet ready to become a Snowbird and flee Winter.

Leaves

Vista – Why?

vista2.jpgWhy would anyone upgrade to the newest Windows version – Windows Vista? I can’t see any reason to do it and wonder how many others will. Here is why I feel this way.

Right now the Vista release candidate has around 1000 known bugs in it. When they finally ship it to computer manufacturers it still could have as many as 500 known bugs. How many unknown bugs will it have?

Most of the real improvements planned for Vista have been dropped because they would delay the release too much. The original plan was for a new, improved file system, WinFS, but that was dropped in 2004. PC-to-PC synchronization was dropped but may be made available in the future (for what cost?). The scripting shell from Windows Vista and Longhorn Server (code-named “Monad), was cut last year.