Showing posts from April, 2012

Little Orlando Stories Around the Edges

There's not a lot you can do when you're homeless and have no job. With the brutal collapse of the economy many who were the "working poor" are working no longer. The state, in its infinite wisdom, cuts back on human services and education while leaving such items as prisons (privatized and state-run) untouched in the budget. The poor and children don't have the same lobbying muscle as our prisons. In today's twisted political algebra it makes more sense to jail people than to house and educate them so they avoid prison.

Locally in Orlando we'd rather spend millions on a newer, more ugly "sports and entertainment center" where individually we can spend a small fortune each season watching spoiled millionaire pro basketball players, while blowing up the older arena so it can be turned into something else more profitable, more gentrified. In the mean time private services such as the Orlando Union Rescue Mission attempt to help and support as man…

The Personal New Car Field Narrows

We went to the Fiat dealership to test drive a Fiat 500C as we begin to get Real Serious about trading in the old 2002 Kia van. But after waiting for a salesman to let us drive one, and never getting the chance, it looks like the Fiat 500C is out of the running.

We tried really hard (my wife tried really really hard) to keep liking the car. But my wife kept looking at the rear and mumbling about a pair of Labs and luggage, and when she had me climb into the shotgun position of a model she'd taken a particular shine to I found myself having to go through a bit of contortion just to get in. Once inside it was quite comfortable, but the getting in and out was a bit more work than it is with our other cars. At 6ft-4inches I have to be careful what kind of vehicle I purchase (or rent on travel, for that mater).

In this particular case what had happened was the selection of a car with "special seating". It was all the  special stuff added to the shotgun side seat that made it…


Shingle Creek is considered the northern-most headwaters of the Everglades to the south. Although it is supposed to be protected wetlands, if you look at the map you'll find it's been heavily engineered (straightened) as it passes through south Orlando on its way to Lake Tohopekaliga, just south of Kissimmee. And it doesn't take long looking at the map to note all of the gated communities, golf courses, and expensive hotels that dot the area.

View Larger Map
In particular, the expensive and expansive Ritz-Carlton Orlando sits right next to this portion of Shingle Creek, with a carefully constructed berm separating fake Florida on the left from what's left of real Florida on the right.

The South Florida Water Management District manages and controls access to the waterway and the lands around it, which I believe to be a Good Thing. Without some sort of minimal intervention on the part of the state it would have been completely overrun and trashed decades ago. It may yet…

In and Out and In and Out

Yeah, I changed the blog template yet again.

In the period of about a week.

First it was stuck on this blue template for years. I don't remember what it was called. Then one day, I got a wild hair ('cause that's about all that's left on my thinning scalp) and switched the blog over to Dynamic Views.

I thought I liked it. It was full of tricks that only Google Gears and HTML5 could provide, cross-browser tricks like expanding panels on top of the main blog, or special compositions like 'magazine', which I actually liked. But after a few days of living with it I came to become truly annoyed with its behaviors, especially on portable devices such as my Android-powered phone (Gingerbread 2.3.4) and my Android-powered tables (ICS 4.0.3). Dynamic Views might look just dandy on a regular browser with a classic OS underneath, but on a portable device such as a tablet it was slow, sloppy mess. Which I found rather amusing, considering all of this came from Google. You&#…

Jimmy Hula's

Where once stood a Back Yard Burgers there now stands a new Jimmy Hula's. I met with three other fellow engineers/managers for a working lunch that lasted about an hour-and-a-half at Jimmy Hula's. Jimmy Hula's is a "taco and burger bar" which specializes in tacos, especially "surf" (fish) tacos.
When I got there I ordered three fish tacos; an epic cali, a voodoo, and a baja shrimp, all blackened, plus drink. The damage was around $14. I could probably get by with just two, but I'd missed breakfast and I was pretty hungry.

I did manage to fill up on the three tacos, but I wasn't stuffed. All of them were great. If I go back I might try to see if I can be satisfied with just two. If I can then I'll save about $4. The one thing I don't care for is the high price of a diet soda. While it's a great place to sit and eat, I can save about $3 by getting it to go and eating back at my desk. Or maybe I'll just get water the next time.
The pl…


Yesterday. Walked back up Rouse Road. Stood back and looked at this lone warning that the intersection you're approaching is setup as an automated traffic trap. This one lone sign, up high, and far back from the road, is unreadable unless you happen to be sitting in traffic a good ways back from the intersection, which does occur late in the afternoon, between 5 and 6pm, as everybody streams to head back home. But otherwise you don't see this sign at all, unless you're out walking down the sidewalk.
Sitting in the burger joint you see an old and stained parking lot that's been here nearly forever. Who knows how many times the place has been re-designed since it was first built. But it's empty on the inside, just a few customers. Instead you see car after car pass by from picking up the lunches from the drive-through window. Car after car, usually just one person in each car. Students in beat-up Hondas, soccer moms in over-sized late-model SUVs, managers in Lexuses a…


That's the only way to describe it. This is my second M.Zuiko 17mm µ4/3rds pancake lens. The first one, a silver model, was used until the front cosmetic element fell off somewhere in Boston.

Before that time I had a rather extended honeymoon with that lens. But when it lost its front bit I felt somewhat annoyed with it and thus put it in the bag, where it pretty much stayed until I sold it to a friend of mine. Of course he felt he'd gotten the bargain and he's put it to good use himself.

Along the way I picked up three new primes for the E-P2; the M.Zuiko 45mm and the Panasonic 20mm and 14mm. All three of those lenses are stellar performers.

But I felt guilty for having abandoned my first love, the 17mm. It never did anything to me, and quite frankly, it never stopped working as a lens. It was my very silly reaction to the cosmetic blemish that developed on the front edge. So when the price dropped down to a 'mere' $200 for the black version, well, I snapped it up…


We often talk about how intelligent we humans are and how playing and playtime help make us human. But it was the animals that learned to play long before man ever showed them how. Either wild or tame, animals like to play. Little Lucy loves to play with string and the laser toy, but when given something like the mouse (above) she was completely indifferent. Then we gave her this toy mouse (picked up at a Walmart for $3), and Lucy has taken to it the way our Labs take to their toys. And it's not due to some additive, like catnip. I've seen the cats react around catnip, and this wasn't one of those reactions.

Once again I'm reminded how our animals have many human-like characteristics, such as playing. Along with problem-solving and basic emotions. Cats in particular are fascinating to me.

Earth Day 2012

It was Earth Day today, the 42nd since the first one in 1970. To celebrate this year's E-Day I drove back up to the ongoing construction on Palm Parkway and documented what's occurred since the last time I was there on 5 April.

From what I could tell the first stage of construction has finished on the north side of I-4 (between I-4 and Palm Parkway) and moved to the south side where more pylons are being driven into the sand. Where once there was considerable water in the retention pond next to I-4, there is now bare and graded sand.

All of that water had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was the temporary pond built on the cleared land between Palm Parkway and I-4. If you look towards the mid-point of the sand wall to the left, you can see where the pond was increased; the original wall was knocked down to allow more water to be held until it could drain down into the sandy soil. That's because the retention ponds next to I-4 have clay to keep the water contained.

As y…

The Good We Do

It's too easy to be overwhelmed by what's wrong with the world and fail to notice what's right. One of the right things we do is to rescue an animal and give it a better home. When I was out today I came across the Orange County Animal Services mobile kennel. If you've spent any time reading my blog you know what a sucker I am for four-footed creatures such as cats (3) and dogs (2 Labs). I have an affinity for four-footed creatures far stronger than for any camera or lens. I felt compelled to step inside.

Sure enough I found a little two-month-old brindle male pit bull named Lightning. Before you flinch over "pit bull", keep in mind that their negative reputations are due to how they're mistreated and raised by humans. I now know of many pit bulls that are as docile and loving as my Labs. When I look into a little guy's face like Lightning's I have to wonder who would be a cruel enough bastard to mistreat such an animal. The only concern I would h…

And The Beat Goes On

I took the last few days off blogging and photographing because I had no desire, no spirit to do so. I just didn't care, and I had other tasks to do. This morning some of the dark funk lifted and I stopped off by the Burger Kind next to the construction site and shot another 30 or so exposures with the E-3 and the ZD 12-60mm.

As you can see below, they just about scrapped all the land clear, down below the original soil level, and filled it back up again with a different soil mixture in preparation for construction. I went back into my archives and I've pulled in photographs going back to 2009 when they first stated to knock all the trees down. It's been an on-going slow-motion environmental tragedy for the last three years.

The lot across the street on the corner of University and Quadrangle will eventually have a Racetrack gas station built on it. The top soil piled on top is to compress the wetlands enough so that they can go back in and bury fuel tanks as well as cover…

A Day of Rage

Today was tax day in America. And I wrote a Large Check. Biggest one in my life to the U.S. Treasury. It was enough to (almost) make me become a Tea party member, where Tea stands for Taxed Enough Already.

And then they flew shuttle Discovery up to Washington so they could put it in a museum next to Dulles. I could have gone outside and and watched it fly overhead, but I expect working spaceships to be used as tools, not become museum pieces. I'm looking forward to April 30th and the launch of SpaceX's Dragon to the ISS. Go SpaceX!

And then finally is the story of Ted Nugent and his comments about the Obama administration. I love Ted, going back to his rocker days. And then, of course, there were the prissy Democrats who got all bent out of shape over what Ted said (see video below). And the Secret Service, which is investigating "any threats against the President." The same Secret Service that got caught with their dicks out of their pants in Columbia, embarrassing …

Another Back From the Dead

It only took eight months for this out-of-business former Perkins (below) to be transformed into an ichiban. There's one downtown. What's going to make this interesting is this is the second sushi bar to show up on this road. Just down University is Kyoto Sushi and Grill, which moved into where the Boston Market used to be located. I guess if you can have five sports bars on University between Alafaya and Rouse, I guess we can live with two sushi bar and grills.


The upper photo was taken with the E-P2 and Panasonic 20mm, moved straight off the camera and into Flickr before being used here. The middle was taken with the E-1 and ZD 12-60mm, post processed, while the lower was taken with the E-P2 and M.Zuiko 17mm, post processed.

Monday Lunch Walkabout

Mid-day is warm and hazy. It's Monday, the day before American Tax Day. After yesterday's little walk down memory lane about the A300 I decided to run through a series of photos in the E-P2 without benefit of elaborate post tinkering. I'm in something of a rebellious mood. I've had this camera for a good two years and I've yet to really exercise all its capabilities. All that money spent so I can deliberately restrict myself. What a waste of time and money.

Today I just said to hell with it. Grabbed the E-P2 with the 20 and the 45 and went walking to lunch. Played with the camera's art filters, shot everything in 6:6 aspect ratio, took it straight JPEG out of the camera, posted it directly to Blogger. Bypassed the entire post processing process; Lightroom and Flickr. I'll let you, the dear reader, figure out which art filter I used.