Showing posts from May, 2012

Last Thursday in May

The Last Thursday of May 2012. The very last day of May. I've seen exactly 58 last days in May since I;ve been born. How many more will I get to see? My wife and I went up to our third weekly nutrition class. We've been going there to reset our knowledge of nutrition, especially as we hit these older stages of life. It's all about maintaining good nutritional health and quality of life. We want to live well, not live stupidly.

On the way up my wife drove so I could hang out the passenger side window and randomly photograph the scenery as it sorta rolled by in rush hour traffic.
The only shot I took on the driver's side was on the way home from work while driving down Alafaya in front  of UCF.
After our class we stopped by a local chain and had our usual soap and salad. Heavy on the salad.
And of course my wife drove home again while I played with just shooting totally out of focus.


Everything taken with the Olympus E-PL1 and the Olympus OM 1.4/50mm. Top photo wa…

At Work with Linux: Fedora 17 KDE

I installed a second instance of Fedora 17 this time with the KDE desktop just as I had threatened to do yesterday. Same M.O.: a virtual machine instance using VMware Player 4.0.3 on a RHEL 6.2 host. This time the installation ran without a hitch. Just like Fedora 17 Gnome I had to install from the live desktop ISO then add gcc and kernel-devel. Perl was already a part of the installation.

With the basic tools in place I installed the VMware extensions which allowed for seamless integration of the virtual desktop with the host's desktop. As usual I also added google-chrome-stable to pick up Google Chrome 19.
The KDE 4 desktop is the absolute antithesis of the Gnome 3 desktop, to the point where I wished some of the Gnome 3 austerity would rub off on KDE. But I'd rather have too much than Gnome's too little, so I'm willing to leave well enough alone and be very very careful what I wish for.

As you can see above the desktop framework has plenty of 3D styled effects and ey…

I'm Turning Into a Bokehnut

I can't seem to leave well enough alone. Once again the mandevillas combined with the late afternoon sun to create a glorious blaze of color in the backyard. I'm not the only one to notice, either. We're getting butterflies and at least one hummingbird.

All of these were taken with the Olympus E-PL1 and the Olympus OM 1.4/50mm. I tried a sequence with the M.Zuiko 45mm, but they came out too sharp. I never thought I'd write a blog post complaining that the photos were too sharp, even wide open. There's a time and a place for everything, but the 45mm may not be the right lens for this kind of photography, at least not all the time.

All of the photos were minimally processed. The only heavily processed photo is Version b-2, where I deliberately lightened the photo to increase the light-filled airy atmosphere. But all of the photos are different shots, separated by mere moments, if not mere seconds between exposures.

I need to find more flower subjects, more views, an…

At Work with Linux: Fedora 17 on VMware Player

Along with the rest of the Linux world I installed a copy of Fedora 17 to sort of kick the virtual tires and drive it a short distance to see how it runs. As is usual for me these days I installed a copy in VMware Player 4.0.3 hosted on a workstation running RHEL 6.2. Maybe it was a case of the stupids, but it took two attempts to successfully install Fedora 17. The first time something I did screwed up the filesystem and it panicked when it couldn't find the kernel on boot.

Because of heavy traffic on the Fedora web site I wound up installing the live desktop because I couldn't download the full DVD. I completed the installation by adding and removing certain bits. Basically, what I altered was
immediately updated the installation with 87 packages, including the kerneladded perl, gcc, kernel-devel, xrdp, google-chrome-stableOnce all that was done I installed the VMware extensions. I had to add perl, gcc and kernel-devel to support the building of the VMware extension kernel m…

Mo' Bokeh! Mo' Betta!

We went out and purchased a new magnolia tree at a local Home Depot. You've not quite lived until you've seen a red Prius hauling a seven foot magnolia sticking out of the hatch. Fortunately I got it home without destroying it, even stopping by a local Whole Foods to pick up a triple-chocolate birthday cake for daughter #1. Once home the magnolia was safely move into the back yard. Its planting is one of my little after-work projects for next week.

The sun broke through the clouds for a while this afternoon, and I went out and photographed the little magnolia before the sun dissappeared behind the clouds or I managed to kill it. We got this one because it's blooming right now. This particular bloom has ended, of course, but some of the petals are still attached to the central part of the flower. I like photographing magnolias because of the smooth satiny way the dark green leaves reflect the light. I'm waiting for some of the other buds on the tree to bloom.
The sun cam…

Mellow Memorial

Tropical depression Beryl is currently sitting over the north-central section of Florida, right where I-75 crosses into south Georgia. I know this because I can see it on the map as well as all the thunderstorms that are moving over my little section of Orlando, Florida. Because Florida is so flat, tropical depressions have a long reach across this state no matter where they come ashore.

I had wanted to head out and do some photography, but with the rain more or less steady I didn't feel like getting out and getting wet. Call me lazy. Then I came across an article extolling the virtues of the Nikkor 50mm 1:1.2 manual focus lens and the quality out-of-focus effects the lens would produce. Of course it was being used with the God Nikon, the D800/E, which I thought was a bit ridiculous. You spend $3,000 and up on a camera that demands the best in optical sharpness and what do you do, you write an article about using a f/1.2 lens in front of it. Wide open.

Whenever I read an article a…

A Slow Sunday

Today was a work day around the house. I ran some errands to a local Home Depot to pick up a few tools to try and replace an air conditioner that is literally built into a lower wall of the back extension. An air conditioner that's completely busted. It's a project that's taking a lot longer than I anticipated. So much for a movie and some riding around photographing. In the end the oldest, my wife and I congregated at a local Olive Garden next to Millenia Mall for an early evening meal. We weren't up for anything special so we made a meal out of soup, salad and breadsticks.
On the way out I spotted the former Robb and Stucky store that had closed down March of last year. The property is prime real estate right on the corner of Conroy and Millenia Blvd, directly across from Millenia Mall. Whoever purchased the property is in the process of demolishing the store. I' not surprised, as the store was very specific to Robb and Stucky's method of displaying and sellin…

We're Still Paving Paradise - May Report

I checked on two construction projects near my home, the Palm Parkway bridge construction and the Drury, a.k.a. Dreary Hotel construction. I shot the Palm Parkway scenes in the early afternoon while taking the Dreary right at sunset.

I have something of a morbid fascination for these machines, which started back in the early 1960's when I first read Ted Sturgeon's "Killdozer". My dad had signed me up for the Science Fiction Book Club, and the first two books I received were anthologies containing science fiction treasures from the 40s and 50s. Buried in those tomes were that story along with Phillip K. Dick's "The Father Thing". Both of them scared the living daylights out of me. I quickly got over the fright, but both stories have left a life-long lasting impression. That experience is one reason I like to shoot brooding, menacing photos of construction equipment and keep away from arthropods of all stripes.

Looking back from the expressway towards Pal…


I will more than likely annoy the very few Europeans that bother to read this blog with the title of this post, but in this instance I'm not referring to any "pretentious, narcissistic, metrosexual Europeans" but instead to the cultural refuse that floats across from the European side of the Atlantic to the American side of the Atlantic. In this instance, anything having to do with the 2012 Summer Olympics being held in London.

These photos were taken at a local Walmart earlier today with my very handy cellphone. I resisted the urge to further "enhance" them with a phone app, simply accepting what the built-in camera and stock software spit out with the press of the camera release. They're already ugly enough.

I wouldn't call Walmart the bastion of cultural excellence, but even Walmart's limited integrity is lessened with cheap products trying to leverage what little cachet the Olympics might still have. For $14.97.

While no Olympics has ever been w…

Watching History Unfold

History was made today when a private spacecraft, Space Exploration Technology Corporation, or SpaceX's Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station today just before noon local time.

It was amazing to watch history unfold in front of me on my computer monitor in near-real-time. I say near-real because of the delay due to the internet streaming the video, as well as the speed of light between the ISS and the earth stations.

When I stop to comprehend all that was happening, I realize I was watching video taken aboard the ISS, relayed down to earth, encoded, and then streamed from NASA across the internet to my corporation's network and then finally to my little Dell sitting there in front of me. Complete with audio. And the SpaceX Dragon team was using the same network (although with probably more direction connectivity between their California mission control and NASA) to communicate and control Dragon. All simultaneously with billions of other transactions acros…

Life as a Series of Snapshots

Sometimes when you're sitting by yourself munching fast food you can see a table and two chairs and build a little vignette about them in your mind. Why are they empty? Who sat in them last? Two individuals alone, or two individual together? Why are the seats so shiney? And on and on. The mental equivalent of the fast food I'm munching on.

My informal science fair project with the flowers continues. They still live, and in fact the little plant has actually grown larger. It still flowers, and if you look closely you'll see a few dead flowers that have simply finished blooming. We've had a surprising large amount of rain recently, due probably to weak tropical storm Alberto that formed off of Jacksonville last week. When it finally moved out towards the Atlantic it pulled all the humidity with it and left us with a very dry and cool weekend. Now it looks like another tropical storm, Beryl, is forming out in the Atlantic and headed towards Savannah Georgia sometime this…

The Next Camera, Part 3

I'm going to pretend like I'm Thom Hogan and speculate about the rumored Nikon D600 that will allegedly be released sometime this summer.

I don't currently own any digital Nikon kit, only Olympus. The only Nikon camera I've ever owned was the film-era N90. It was an OK camera, a camera I purchased in a fit of passion that slowly faded over the 15 years I had it in my possession. I don't know if it was the N90's fault, mine, or some combination of the two, but my passion for it and photography in general had nearly withered away before the little Canon PowerShot A300 arrived and began to re-kindle a passion for photography. With the purchase of the Olympus E-300 my passion for photography came roaring back.

Somewhere in that sad tale is a lesson, I'm sure. Yet, in spite of my mistakes of history, I refuse to learn from them. So here I am getting all excited like I was a real Nikon fanboy about a rumored Nikon digital camera, as if I were going to rush right …

Here There Be Dragons

At about a quarter to 4 in the morning, while I stood outside in my front yard, in my untied sneakers and bathrobe half asleep, the sky lit up on the eastern horizon as the Falcon 9 with the Dragon capsule lifted from Canaveral on its voyage into space and to the ISS. I came quickly to full wakefulness as the horizon brightend, standing and savoring this moment in history. I hadn't felt this excited about any launch since Apollo 11, when I was 15.

It's going to be a little while yet before the Dragon docks with the ISS. During that period the spacecraft will go through a complete checkout of its flight systems while on orbit before it's allowed to get close enough to dock. Even if it doesn't get that far, the launch of the Dragon is non-the-less one of the most important events in space history because it was conceived of, funded and built by a private company, SpaceX, and for a fraction of the cost that the conventional aerospace companies would have charged. It's…

The Next Camera, Part 2

Panasonic announced their latest lens, the H-HS 12035 Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm/F2.8 ASPH zoom lens. Brother, what a mouthful. And right now you can preorder a copy for your very own from Amazon for a mere US$1,300.

Something interesting happens when you add the lens to the Olympus OM-D E-M5; you wind up with a rather pricey US$2,300 camera. That's a good US$1,000 higher than the standard E-M5 kit with the M.Zuiko 12-50mm which also happens to be US$1,300.

I mention this in passing because of all the strident squeals from the forum monsters who proclaim how so much better the Panasonic zoom is over the Olympus kit zoom. Amazon and B&H both have this lens for a far more modest US$500, and bundled with the E-M5 it drops further to $300. Based on all the review images I've seen so far, from photographers who really know how to use the kit, the photographs produced by the combination are outstanding. So I wouldn't classify the Olympus 12-50mm as "junk".

No matter h…


If anybody ever tells you that all your parental responsibilities end when your children turn 18 has either never had children or never been a real parent. They may grow up and move out, but the bonds that develop between loving parent and child are never severed. Strained, perhaps, but never truly severed. Being a parent grows ever more difficult as your children grow older simply because they do become adults, with their own independent wills, dreams, and ambitions totally apart from yours. The best you can do is offer advice when asked, both sides knowing that the advice offered is from a different generational perspective, and the older generation realizing the younger generation may decide not to take that advice or modify it to suit the current situation. You can be there to help them the best you can when they need it. But if they don't ask for advice or help, then you have to stay out of their way, realizing that you don't have a complete awareness of their situation.

Rapid Run

On the road again... back up to Tallahassee. A quick two day run-up (Saturday and Sunday) to visit daughter #2, drop off some "vital" items, fix what can be fixed in a very short period of time, and try to be a father. Post-undergraduate-school, these trips seem a little melancholy; they remind me of the time that's passed. But then all that is more than balanced by the good of being able to visit and socialize. While I certainly love to visit, the "getting there" is most definitely not half the fun. Trying to drive responsibly (65mph in the slow lane on a three-lane highway to save gas in the Prius) makes you the target of tail-gaiters and vehicles that literally blow past you, like this trucker that did both on I-75. Florida drivers are real assholes.

We (Labs and I) stopped at the Archer exit in Gainesville to pick up a quick bite of lunch. The temperature was cool enough I could leave the pups out in the car with all four windows down. And being the natura…