This Morning's Moon
10:43 Monday, 18 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 85.68°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 9.22mph
In New York, it's light at 0530 and the birds are singing. In Florida, it's dark and the frogs are chirping because it rained last night.
And the air was clear and the moon was bright, so I figured I'd give a little love to the E-M1 Mk3, since I'd been shooting with the E-M1x and the OM-1 for the last four weeks.
05:51 Monday, 18 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 73.58°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 95% Wind: 3.44mph
Well, we're back.
In Florida, I mean.
My daughter arrived on Wednesday and the next few days flew by. We had a family get-together in Clifton Park on Thursday at my sister's, with Mom and half of my siblings. Mom enjoyed it. Caitie got to see her Gramma, some of her aunts and uncles and one of her cousins. I'm so glad she made the trip.
I took Caitie to the train station in Rhinecliff on Saturday morning and came back to finish packing the car. We left shortly before 9:00 a.m.
We hadn't gone far, we were in downtown Kingston, when I realized I hadn't packed my camera bag. Startled Mitzi when, seemingly out of the blue, I shouted "Fuck!"
It wasn't that big of a deal, we just turned around and went back to the house. Everything was right where I'd stashed it, in a dark corner between the dresser and the wall where it wouldn't draw anyone's eye should someone be in the house who shouldn't be.
It worked too. Didn't draw Mitzi's eye who'd been through the house to make sure we hadn't left anything while I was dropping Caitie off. We'd already packed most of the car, and everything else we thought we'd brought was staged by the door to finish loading when I returned.
All week, one of my iPads had been reporting it had been left behind. It's a new feature of some iOS devices, and I don't know how I turned it on, or how to turn it off. There's an option to "trust this location" or something, but I didn't select that, just in case I left my iPad behind! Of course, I packed the iPad.
Makes a good case for AirTags though.
The drive was okay. 87 South is in rough shape, though in a way I don't really understand. I'm accustomed to rough roads being like 81 back in the 70s and 80s, with potholes and failing asphalt randomly distributed on the roadway, mostly in the right lane where the trucks are the most. On 87, and another road I don't recall on the trip north, it seemed like there was a seam or something, almost like it was concrete pavement, regularly spaced across the whole asphalt road.
And it was a bad seam. *thud-thud* *thud-thud* *thud-thud*, for hours. There's a loose piece of interior plastic somewhere in the dash on the passenger's side, and it squeaked into my right ear every time. Mitzi claimed she couldn't hear it, and I only hear it when the car goes over a big pothole. You never hear it on any decent road, so forget about identifying it for service.
And wow, is the northeast corridor crowded?
Yes. Yes it is.
I've never seen so many cars on the road. Sheltered life, I know.
It wasn't a pleasant drive.
The Delaware Memorial Bridge between NJ and Delaware (I think) overcharged our EZ Pass. Should have been $5.00, they hit Mitzi's credit card for $14.21! A bit of googling by Mitzi on the phone showed they've been having problems since 2012. The sensors don't just scan the transponder, there are cameras and other sensors to make sure you aren't scamming the bridge authority with a passenger car transponder in a truck or towing a trailer. It's possible someone followed us too closely, and we were detected as a much larger vehicle. Anyway, she's going to have to request a refund.
Spent the night just a little south of Richmond, and got back on the road at 0600. There are few things I've learned in travel.
One is, never have a flight, original or connecting, anytime after noon in the summer on the east coast. Thunderstorms will delay you. (Also, never have less than an hour layover in Atlanta between flights. You'll spend much of that hour taxiing or waiting for a gate.)
The other is, if you're headed south on 95 on Sunday, plan to get through South Carolina before 1400.
South Carolina is the sphincter of I-95. Traffic builds as the day goes on, and South Carolina is only two lanes either way. As traffic builds, these compression waves of rolling clots of traffic form, with people occupying the passing lane at speeds barely above the posted limit.
This seems to bring out the worst in aggressive drivers, as they weave in and out between lanes, trying to get clear of the clot. Eventually and inevitably, there is an accident. And it won't be the only one. The attendant delay will make aggressive drivers more aggressive.
The compression waves increase in frequency and amplitude, as you'll find yourself just clearing a wave and getting up to speed, only to have to slam on the brakes as you encounter the next one. The accidents compound.
If it rains, it's worse.
We only encountered one accident, and the slowdown wasn't too bad. We saw two on the northbound side, and the backups were miles long. Bad wrecks too.
We were out of South Carolina at 13:43. Cutting it too close for me, but Mitzi wanted to stop for pralines and she had the wheel.
I never, never, want to be in South Carolina headed south on I-95 after 1400 on a Sunday.
I don't know what the deal is with South Carolina and I-95, why it isn't wider. Virginia is only two lanes for much of the way south of Richmond, which I suppose contributes to the problem in South Carolina. But I've very seldom encountered a problem heading south on I-95 in Virginia. North, is another matter. Especially as you approach Richmond. I try not to do it at all.
Georgia, by way of comparison, is paradise.
Encountered one of those climate change torrential downpours in Florida, where the rain falls in giant blobs in staggering quantity and the wipers can't keep up with it. Fortunately, it was brief and everyone acted sanely, with nobody trying to barrel through at 75 miles an hour.
Got home by 1630, after stopping for groceries at Publix. Happy to be home, our own place.
Can't say I'm as happy I'm in Florida.
A Note About eBooks
06:19 Wednesday, 13 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 75.47°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 5.75mph
I've been doing a lot of reading the past few years, history mostly. And since my house is nearly full when it comes to books (I guess I could start stacking them on the floor.), I've switched to ebooks.
For the most part, I find reading an ebook satisfactory. I've never been one to make margin notes, though I suppose ebooks do offer a better affordance for note-taking. The least favorable part of the experience is the weight of my 10.5" iPad Pro, with keyboard cover and case. I have a small Kindle, but I don't care for the screen brightness/contrast, nor the slow response. The iPad mini is lighter, being smaller with only a "Smart Cover," but I prefer the page size of the 10.5".
I may look into an iPad Air, perhaps with cellular so I can have a separate carrier from T-Mobile.
One thing I use a lot is the dictionary. Something seems to have changed in the latest Books app on iOS (16 beta). I used to be able to just select a word and the little bar would appear over it for Copy, Highlight, Add Note, Look Up, etc. Now it's weird. Sometimes the word is selected and the bar doesn't appear. I tap the selection hoping to prompt the bar to appear and the word is de-selected. I may have to go through this dance three or four times before the bar appears. And the Look Up selection now seems to include a lot of stuff I don't need or care about. Wasn't paying much attention before, but it seems different.
Anyway, I've been reading a lot of history, and one of the things I'd like to do "someday" is build a timeline of events. But that means taking notes, and then putting them in a timeline app, keeping track of which note came from which book, etc.
Then it occurred to me, why should I have to do this?
All books should come with a "timeline view." It could be programmatically created, recognizing dates in the text and associating nearby names of people, places or things, and placed in the timeline as an "event" with a link to the page in the text.
There should be multiple timelines arranged vertically for major subjects, but not for every person, place or thing. For instance, in the book I'm reading about FDR as a wartime leader, he's the main character, but events (mentioned in the book) in Britain, Japan, Russia and Germany should be shown in parallel. With perhaps separate Europe, Atlantic and Pacific timelines for other nations.
The point is, the view should take advantage of the full screen, not just a single timeline crowded with events. Perhaps a one with major battles mentioned in the book, or major legislation, would get its own timeline. And the reader could show or hide these different timelines with a disclosure widget, a little triangle that you tap.
You could scale the timelines by date range, with longer periods showing "major" events or milestones, while expanding the view to shorter ranges would reveal more details.
What I find is that I'm often a bit at sea trying to grasp the pace of events, especially as authors sometimes jump around in time, referring to prior events while discussing the one under present consideration.
These timeline views should be a standard data format, so that each is identically constructed. The Books app, or Kindle or whatever e-reader, should then allow you to overlay timelines from separate books you own, so you can see how different themes played out at the same time.
It's probably harder than it sounds, but I don't think it's impossible. I love reading narrative description, especially when it's well written, but it's often hard to get a feel for how fast or slow something developed unless the author specifically comments on the pace, and then it's just his or her POV; I'd like to see the dates laid out.
There are a lot of features about ebooks that seem haphazard. Notes are sometimes handled differently, or badly. A "footnote" that merely mentions a reference should be separately called out from an author's note where there's some additional text. I hate clicking a note to just see "ibid." Sometimes I'm interested in the reference, but mostly I'll skip those. Erik Larson often writes lengthy notes at the end of his books, and my practice is mostly to just read the text and the notes separately. If there's some additional information, I'd like to read it sort of "in-line", so perhaps those types of notes should be disclosed in the page when you tap the note number.
Anyway, ebooks have been around now for a very long time and it doesn't seem like there's much innovation taking place centered around making a better experience for the reader.
How do we go about making that change?
06:02 Tuesday, 12 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 75.04°F Pressure: 1005hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 1.01mph
Yesterday Mitzi and I walked across the Hudson River on the Rails to Trails Walkway Over the Hudson bridge. After that we visited the Franklin Roosevelt Home National Historic Site.
Apologies if the text on the grave stone is hard to read, it really is a very simple monument.
We toured the house, which was interesting. Our National Park Service tour guide gave a very animated presentation. I learned a few things I hadn't learned in the Ken Burns documentary, or perhaps I missed them.
Roosevelt was something of an amateur architect, and was responsible for the design of the expansion of the family home. I don't think I'm being unfairly critical if I say it's pretty clear he was an amateur. (I also think it's past time for the NPS to do some exterior preservation on the home.)
What was surprising to me was that Roosevelt refused to install an electric lift in the house to get to the bedrooms on the second floor. Instead, he used the baggage lift, which was apparently a block and tackle arrangement and hoisted or lowered himself from either floor.
The tour guide also mentioned at least one of the realities of Roosevelt's condition. Someone turned him in his bed about every half hour, and if I didn't misunderstand the guide, Eleanor slept in a separate bedroom at the home so she could get some sleep for that reason.
After we toured the house, we visited the Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. There was so much there to see, we could easily have spent hours in it. Having just walked three miles round-trip over the bridge and stood for over an hour for the tour, we only spent a little over an hour in the museum, and I spent most of my time in the special exhibit about why he chose to run for a fourth term. He believed he might not live through it, but he wanted to establish the United Nations.
I saw the letter Einstein sent Roosevelt about the possibility of an atomic bomb, which was great, because I had recently finished that section of Rhodes' book. (It came as a surprise to me, though it probably shouldn't have, that bureaucratic inertia nearly kept the United States from developing the bomb; and it was likely the British who were most responsible for pushing the United States into serious efforts to develop the bomb.)
I'll have to return to Roosevelt when we get back home. He truly was a great president, and a great man. But, as I've come to understand, all men and women are flawed, often deeply, in ways large and small. So "greatness" doesn't imply perfect, or saintly. And many traits we might admire in Roosevelt we might criticize in another president for the direction those traits are put toward.
As I stood at the gravesite, I tried to feel some of Roosevelt's optimism, I tried to imagine tapping into some kind of energy from that place. I couldn't. Perhaps that's no surprise either. That's a Roosevelt trait, not a Rogers one.
He was a leader for his time.
Would that we had one now.
07:53 Monday, 11 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 77.2°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 3.44mph
This is a nothing-burger, just a quick test of whether I got the resizing right. I saw this and hoped I could find a position where the moon would appear at a point where an imaginary line from the suspension cable continued upward and intersected with the moon's position. Couldn't make it happen. Tried to get the moon on top of the truss, couldn't do that either.
If the bridge was open, that would be a neat shot to try and get sometime. Since I don't live here, that's not for me. Wouldn't be surprised if someone hasn't already done it.
Update: Obviously, I failed (getting the re-sizing right). Oh well, no time to mess with it now. Time to figure out what we're doing today. I think Hyde Park is on the agenda.
Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge
07:34 Monday, 11 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 76.24°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 3.44mph
When we've been here before, we were able to walk over the Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge. Now it's closed for renovations. It's officially 100 years old now, and it's a cool piece of retro-engineering. Though, since it's an "original," I guess it can't be "retro." Nevertheless, I'm glad they're renovating it and not just tearing it down.
This is from the Olympus XZ-1 I carried with me to dinner last night, shot as we walked down by the Rondout afterwards. Straight out the camera, just resized.
[Editor's note: I've been using an app called Retrobatch to resize these images because I didn't have much bandwidth at the lake. It's becoming clear that I need to pick a smaller maximum dimension because these portrait-oriented images don't fit on my little 13" screen.]
08:03 Sunday, 10 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 78.49°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 1.99mph
Blessed mother of bandwidth, we have internet!
Arrived in Kingston yesterday afternoon, after stopping off for a nice visit and lunch with my brother John. We're staying in the DeMew house, a very charming small brick home just off Rondout Creek.
The bed here is much more comfortable than the one we had up at the lake. I almost didn't want to get out of bed this morning to go look for something to shoot. But, I did.
Worth it, too. Lots of pics. Probably do something more later, but we're hanging with Mitzi's sister and brother-in-law today.
Gonna be a busy week. Going to see Mom on Tuesday, daughter arrives on Wednesday, family get-together on Thursday, boat ride on Friday, hit the road on Saturday. Between now and then, a visit to FDR's house in Hyde Park, and, hopefully, The Walkway Over the Hudson.
Weather's been great past few days, some clouds and maybe rain in the forecast, but we'll take it as it comes.
One For the Road
06:05 Saturday, 9 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 76.35°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 95% Wind: 1.99mph
Last sunrise by the lake this year didn't disappoint. Now to finish packing, clean up and head out.
08:57 Friday, 8 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 80.6°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 9.22mph
Our time here at the lake is coming to an end. We leave tomorrow for Kingston, NY, along the Hudson River. A bit of mixed emotions. I love it here, I'm sure a few winters would change my mind. We've had guests for much of the time, and this house feels big and empty now. If we were staying a few more days, I'd invite some of my friends and family out.
We'll have about a week in Kingston before heading back to Florida. We'll see Mitzi's sister and brother-in-law, and we'll get to see my mom and some of my siblings. My daughter is planning to join us, though some of those plans still aren't finalized, so...
I love New York. Perhaps because my memories of winter have faded. But the geography is beautiful. Florida is beautiful too, but in a different way. And in many ways, Florida is very ugly today. Here, I can look across the lake and my perspective is very wide and long. In Florida, it's seldom more distant than the neighbor's house across the street. It's often claustrophobic, which probably explains why people like to go to the beach or out on boats so much. Even then, the horizon is flat, and unrelieved except by clouds.
And I'm not looking forward to returning to the heat and humidity. The climate here, at least in the summer, is so much more hospitable. Even when the locals think it's "hot," it's not the oppressive heat of a humid Florida summer.
I'd leave Florida, but I'm tied there now. Family and house mainly. I used to love Florida too, but now it's a different place. Maybe it was always that way, I just wasn't paying attention. I know it's hotter though, and it's only going to get more so.
Anyway, time to start gathering all our things together. Don't want to leave anything behind. Mitzi wants to go shopping for wine, so lunch and dinner will be at vineyards today. Should be nice.
08:53 Friday, 8 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 80.6°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 9.22mph
Shot this last night on the walk back from O'Malley's with the XZ-1. I have another with the E-M1x that I shot in the morning. I think I like this one better.
Straight out the camera, just re-sized for bandwidth.
08:44 Friday, 8 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 79.09°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 9.22mph
Skies cleared the other night and I managed to stay awake long enough to get outside and try a few things. I don't know anything about astrophotography. Well, not very much anyway. It's a lot of work, and I'm a lazy man. This is a handheld high resolution shot with the OMDS OM-1 and the mZuiko 8mm/f1.8 fisheye lens.
(Most of those short light streaks I'm almost certain are fireflies.)
08:30 Friday, 8 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 78.69°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 9.22mph
Visited O'Malley's last night, a cabin-by-the-lake tavern just down the road from where we're staying. Beautiful weather last night. Lovely walk. Tavern food. Good, not great. Salt potatoes!
08:18 Friday, 8 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 78.93°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 9.22mph
Visited Trumansburg, NY last Saturday. Charming little town. Wasn't our first visit. Probably won't be our last.
06:49 Thursday, 7 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 77.41°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 5.75mph
The weather report said the skies would be clearing in the afternoon, so we went to the Cornell Ornithology Lab. I only brought along the little XZ-1 in case some extra hands were needed to help with the baby.
Bought a book I read about on DP Review in the Micro Four Thirds forum, What It's Like To Be A Bird by David Sibley.
While everyone was still inside, I prowled around outside looking for interesting things to shoot. Saw this scooting along the wall alongside the walkway. Pretty cool looking, I think.
05:56 Wednesday, 6 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 76.68°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4.61mph
The bane of vacations.
It's been cloudy or raining since the fourth. Mitzi's daughter and son-in-law are here with their new baby, which is a pleasure. I even fed the little guy yesterday. By all reports, I'm still qualified.
I may go out today and find something to shoot. It's certainly different. It looks like I missed my opportunity for doing much astro-photography. Could hardly keep my eyes open past sunset most days.
I've been reading The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, and what a marvelous book it is! I'm only about a third of the way through it, but it covers so much of the history of physics and quantum physics, the physicists, their backgrounds, and the history of Europe that it is a fascinating book. I wish I'd read it a long time ago.
The news is still with us, limited bandwidth or not, and of course the mass murder in Highland Park is outrageous. It seems there is something wrong with us that we can't seem to do anything about this. Not all of us, of course, but enough of us seem to feel that the price of "freedom" must be borne by innocents and orphans.
I was encouraged by New York state's new gun legislation, already signed into law. We'll see how soon it goes before the new kangaroo Supreme Court.
Anyway, just checking in during a quiet moment before everyone's up and about. Please stay safe. Avoid crowds.
Osprey Returning to Base
08:38 Monday, 4 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 77.99°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 4.61mph
The OM-1 makes capturing birds in flight much easier. The challenges that remain are understanding bird behavior, how to get the right exposure, composition and keeping the bird in the frame. Focus isn't really a problem anymore.
I went back up to the nest this morning. I only stayed about three minutes, because it clearly seems to bother the Osprey.
Dialed in about +.7ev exposure compensation, might have been able to get away with a full stop.
Weather's been mostly lovely here. Had a hot day on Friday and got into the lake. Brought the Tough TG-6 with me, but I can't get the images off of it. It's weird. It seems that it's formatted identically to the XZ-1, which I couldn't read either. I reformatted the XZ-1 in Disk Utility as FAT-32, same as it was before, and the MBP was able to read it and import images. Tried the same thing with the Tough TG-6's card, and no joy. It's a 64GB card, while the XZ-1 is only 16GB so maybe that has something to do with it. There's little chance of filling the card before we get home, so I'll just download the images to the iMac when we get back.
05:58 Sunday, 3 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 74.75°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 95% Wind: 0mph
It's always just a bit of a debate, sleep in? Or see this?
This always wins.
11:02 Friday, 1 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 85.41°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 1.99mph
Just so you don't think I'm only shooting birds.
I love it here. It's beautiful. Always something to point the camera at.
10:47 Friday, 1 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 84.45°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 5.75mph
One more, just because I can.
I didn't stay long because I felt as though I might be distressing the birds. From the time of my first shot to the time of my last, I think I was there about two minutes. Got hundreds of shots.
Osprey in Flight
10:12 Friday, 1 July 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 82.47°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 5.75mph
It's a new month, so a new page. Had to update the Photos to Tinderbox script, I'll work on automating that when I get home later this month.
Yesterday, I updated the OM-1 with a new firmware version from OMDS (1.2). I had not installed the version 1.1 update, which addressed a lockup in some circumstances using a high refresh rate in the electronic viewfinder. This update promised improvements in continuous auto-focus, so I was eager to try it out.
It was a bit of an adventure, but ultimately all went well.
I took a walk yesterday morning, before I knew about the update, and noticed a nesting pair of Ospreys on a power pole alongside the road about half a mile from the house. When I approached the nest while walking on the road, one of the pair started flying around me, protesting my presence. It didn't make any effort to harass me. I made a mental note to return the next day with my 100-400mm zoom. When I got home and learned about the firmware update, I got pretty excited.
Because the Osprey is a larger target, and slower moving than the Swallows, it wasn't too challenging, but my impression is that continuous auto-focus with bird recognition was very solid.
I'm not very experienced in shooting birds in flight. What I think I've learned from this experience is that I need to dial in some positive exposure compensation. I tried to spot-meter, but it's way too hard to keep the center of the viewfinder on the bird. So those shots were dark. I switched to auto exposure for the scene and things improved somewhat. I just recently read a piece by a photographer who shoots birds in flight in manual mode so he can get the light on the bird the way he wants it. I shoot in shutter priority, because the lens is fairly slow so it's going to be wide open at 1/2000s (which may be faster than necessary for an Osprey). So I need to dial in some positive exposure compensation, which will bump up the ISO.
Later that afternoon, I went down to the dock and shot some swallows. I've already posted enough of those, but again, my impression is that continuous auto-focus is improved. It may also be due to some improvement on my part in climbing the learning curve, but I seemed to get far more in-focus shots than I had previously.
But I want to add that even sans firmware update, both the E-M1x and the OM-1 were letting me shoot Swallows in flight far more successfully than I ever had before. We live in an age of wonders. Too bad we're about to throw it all away.