Election

Well, it’s all over except the Monday morning quarterbacking and the whining of the losers. I hope both political parties have learned something; namely that American voters aren’t as dumb as politicians believe they are. Back in 1994 the Democrats were arrogant and cocksure and got booted out. Now in 2006 the same arrogance and cocksureness has had the identical effect on the GOP.

I must admit, I had been despairing that the electorate would ever wake up. Now they (apparently) have. Next we must find out if it is too late to undo the damage of the last 12 years. We have lots of problems to fix. Some are health care, human rights, restoring the Constitution, extending economic prosperity to all (not just the rich), and reversing the erosion of our educational system.

But, after yesterday, I think I can go back to being a tentative optimist again. Thank you America for standing up for yourself. Let’s make a habit of it.

Vote!

For the past month(s) we’ve all been bombarded with political propaganda. Phone calls, door-to-door canvassers, ads on TV, radio and in the papers; all shouting at us. If you are like me you were sick and tired of it weeks ago. No one I know bases their voting on political ads. The only effect on me is annoyance. Still, having lived through this onslaught, relief is near. Only one thing left to do. VOTE!

If you don’t vote then all your wasted time, energy, and perseverance were for nothing. Also, remember, you can’t complain if you don’t vote. So go out and reserve your right to bitch about the government. If you haven’t already, cast your ballot ASAP.

Camera Progression

FD-7I got my first digital camera in July of1998. A Sony FD-7 with a whopping 640×480 resolution. It saved the images on its internal 3.5″ floppy drive which was convenient. It had a fairly decent 10X zoom lens and built-in flash. Unfortunately the internal flash was really over-powered and I had to mask off part of it to prevent over-exposures.FD-91

By May of 1999 I was ready for a step up. I still liked the idea of storage on floppy disks so I got a Sony FD-91. It had a image size of 1024×768 and an image stabilized 14X zoom lens. Though larger and heavier than the FD-7, I was pleased with the extra resolution. Also the internal flash seemed better matched to the camera.

A couple years later the itch for bigger and better hit again. In 2001 I bought a Sony CD-1000 camera. The main feature of it was the internal mini-CD drive. That allowed storing over 150, 1600×1200 images on an 8cm diameter mini CD-R. With its 10X optical zoom lens and image stabilization, this was one sweet camera. Great for nature photography and it did a fair job in low light situations.

FZ-20The CD-1000 satisfied my needs for quite a while but by October 2004 I was ready for another step up. This time I forsook Sony for a Panasonic DMC-FZ20. This had a 5 mega-pixels (2560×1920) sensor, a 12X optical zoom image stabalized lens and used SD flash memory for storage. In addition it was smaller and lighter than either the CD-1000 or the FD-91.

D80Finally this October I made the step up to the Nikon D80. It has a 10 mega-pixel (3872×2592) sensor. Being a digital SLR, lenses are interchangeable. Initially I got the kit 18-135mm zoom lens but I’m sure I will be getting additional lenses over time.

Just for fun I’ve plotted a graph of my personal “Megapixel Race”.

MP Curve

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