Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Orange flower

Neither my wife nor I remember the name of this flower which we most likely bought at Home Depot or Lowe's. Very intense orange blossoms. It actually looked better yesterday—less blousy—but I was too lazy to get out my camera.

My depth of field was too shallow. Would have been nice to have all of the flower completely in focus.

Yellow garden spider

My wife pointed out this spider to me this afternoon on our front porch. It's commonly called a yellow garden spider, but its latin name is Argiope aurantia. Very pretty colors. Click on the image to see the high-resolution version. The spider looks much more impressive that way.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The rain lilly

In the Texas hill country, rain lillies like these appear a day or so after a heavy rain in the spring and summer.

Their buds are purple, and they flower the same day. The giant rain lilly is slightly larger.

Yellow fungus

Some sort of fungus growing on our shed step after a series of rainy days. The bright golden color caught my eye.

First National Starbuck's

Saw this in Bastrop, Texas a week-and-a-half ago.

Is the bank in a Starbuck's or is the Starbuck's in a bank?

(BTW, "Bastrop" is pronounced, "bass drop," as in a fish fall.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Texas coast, Christmas 2004

While cleaning up some old email just now, I came across this satellite photo from Christmas 2004 of the Texas coast dusted with snow. Folks, this is an extremely rare thing! Cool photo, too. The upper coast starts at about West Matagorda Bay and goes all the way down the coast into Mexico.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Old rainy day

My wife took this photo a month or so ago of our front porch during a rain storm. I just found it on her camera's memory card. Nice colors!

I corrected some spatial distortion, but now the front chair looks a bit odd. Oh, well. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything.

Night photos

I just bought a remote shutter release for my Nikon D70s. I've needed it before, and I'll need it for the HDR photos I've been meaning to take (that's why I bought the camera). I took a few photos of the night sky to play around with it. None of them are that good, but here are a couple after cropping.

This first one (above) of the moon looks like a grey ball that is illuminated by a flashlight. I couldn't see the dark side of the moon with the naked eye, but it shows up well in the photo. It was windy, so some of the blurriness may be due to slight shaking of the camera. The exposure took around 10 seconds. I increased the contrast a tad to get rid of some of the glare from the cloudy sky. I like the clouds and whatever chromatic aberrations are going on there. It looks like a frame from a silent movie.

This shows the glow over some hills in front of our house. The red light (two, actually) is on an antenna at the nearby fire hall. Depending on your monitor, you may or may not be able to see the silhouette of the trees and what I assume are utility poles on the horizon. I like it like that.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Gun culture

I own guns, but check this out—a double-barreled lighter. Pull back the hammer to light it. Trigger doesn't do anything. Refillable. I don't have anything to light with it but had to have it.

Bought at local convenience store.

Monday, August 06, 2007

"Butterfly on Lavender"

I especially like this photo. The short depth of field yields a 3D effect.

Taken at a vineyard and lavender farm in Stonewall, Texas in summer of 2007.

Prophetic boat name

Taken in the aftermath of flooding in and around Marble Falls, Texas in the summer of 2007.

"The Great Wave off Kanagawa"

Hokusia's work is cliched by its pervasiveness, but I have always found Great Wave breathtakingly beautiful.

They like to get a little high

My new favorite 17th century painting, A Peasant Couple and a Dog on Tiptoe by Adriaen van de Venne.

Found through Neatorama.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Food to the poor

Ain't this the truth...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What the fwck?

Remember the vowels you learned in school—"a, e, i, o, u?" Do you also remember the part that followed—"...and sometimes y and w?" ..."W!?" I've seen diphthongs mentioned as examples, such as "chew," but never as a straight-ahead vowel. I found an example—the strange little word, crwth. It has Welsh roots yet is in my (American) English dictionary and is pronounced like "tooth." It's a stringed musical instrument, and here is what it sounds like. By the way, that clip sounds sort of like music played backwards. "Turn me on, dead man," indeed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Duh, what's that thing?

Why do folks label the obvious? Just in case aliens arrive, they won't have to ask what that thing is?

Found at medical office building in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bump standard

Did you know that there is actually a standard for that little bump on a telephone's 5 key? It's in the ITU-T E.161 Recommendation. Now, to assure that your phone is within specs, everybody get out your micrometers.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Luther on a Holsman

I've been wondering where this old photograph was. I had just about given up hope, thinking that I might have lost it. However, as you can see, I found it!

On the back is written in my father's handwriting,

So I guess that makes LUTHER my... wait a minute... my great-great uncle. The vehicle is a turn-of-the-century Holsman. While looking for the link, I learned that Mr. Holsman invented the reverse gear. Wow. High tech, indeed!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ice in the hills

This is looking northwest from our front yard towards Marble Falls, TX. Note the sleet on the ground and ice-encrusted trees and bushes. Brrr. Has been in the upper twenties for a few days, and we've been having sleet and a bit of snow. We're on a warming trend, now, though. We need the water, no matter in what form it arrives.

For virtually every photo I use, I manipulate in some way with Paint Shop Pro. Starting with the following photo, I increased the color saturation, brightness high-end, and sharpness to end up with the above photo. Took just a few minutes but made quite a difference.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

E.S. Posthumus

Great instrumental music to work by. They do lots of sound tracks for movies and television, and it shows. Basically, orchestral/choral works often with a dominant John Bohnam drum track. A lot of their stuff sounds like Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" but without the singing and guitar work.

Found it at Neatorama. Bring up E.S. Posthumus' site in a browser tab, click on the ||/> icon, and then get to work...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Buying cheap glasses online

This is what $27.85 buys.

I was recently given a practically new recliner, and boy do I appreciate it—it's the most comfortable chair in the house. However, since I wear progressive lenses (I'm near and far sighted), I can't lay back in the chair to watch TV because I'm looking down my nose through the bottom of my lenses, which have a curvature for close vision, such as reading a book, not looking ten feet away at a television. So I mentally filed away a plan to buy some single-vision glasses just for watching TV in my recliner. I then came across a blog entry for buying cheap glasses online and decide to put that plan into action.

There are several sites from which to choose. I looked around and chose Zenni Optical. Since this was an "experiment," and I didn't need anything fancy because I'd be wearing them in the house, I went with the cheapest—just $8.95 for frames and lenses! This includes a scratch-resistant coating, but I also wanted an anti-reflective coating for the light from the TV, which costs an additional $4.95. Upon entering my prescription, the form on their site automatically added $9.00 because my prescription is apparently "extra strength." I don't know why the extra charge. Maybe I need extra-thick lenses to start with. Anyway, add an additional $4.95 for shipping, for a total of $27.85. Here's the breakdown.

$8.95 base price
+4.95 anti-reflective coating
+9.00 extra strength
+4.95 shipping
$27.85 total

I needed help measuring my glasses, but Zenni wasn't particularly helpful. You should Google for other stores that describe exactly what the measurements mean, such as frame width and temple-bar length. Some sites let you upload a head shot and "try on" some of their glasses. Some are better than others. I liked SpecsOnTheNet and may buy from them in the future if I attempt to buy designer frames again.

The receipt they emailed me says, "Although your glass [sic] may take a few weeks to arrive, they are made within 48 hours after you place your order"; however, I received them in just ten days. That's a nice surprise. Zenni shipped them in a bubble-wrap mailer, which is kind of flimsy, but the glasses arrived in great shape. I guess since they don't weigh very much, they don't need much protection.

All of their glasses come with a case and a lens-cleaning cloth. The case is different than ones I've had before because it has a magnetic clasp. It opens and closes easily but makes a slightly loud snapping noise when closing—be careful in church and the library. The hinges on the case are just bendable plastic, so I'm not sure if they'll take a lot of opening and closing.

Here's everything laid out. The frames are "4119 Metal Alloy Half-rim Frame" and come in five colors. I chose blue just for fun.

There were no smudges or scratches on the lenses, although they were just a tad dusty. Easy to fix that.

Bottom line: I like them. A lot. They fit perfectly, and the prescription is spot on. My head is a bit on the wide side, so, when ordering, I made sure that the frames would be wide enough. That's one thing I should mention—if you're going to try this out, spend plenty of time measuring your current glasses so that you get a frame that fits. Since you can't just walk around the eye-glass store and try on a bunch of glasses, you have to know ahead of time whether you are buying frames that fit you. I don't know what Zenni's return policy is, but I doubt whether it is real good. Even if it is, I wouldn't want to go to the trouble of returning the glasses. At this price, I'd probably just donate them to charity and buy another pair.

By contrast, I bought a pair of glasses at LensCrafters last summer with progressive, coated lenses for $660.00, including a $100 discount that eye-glass stores always seem to offer. Admittedly, they were designer frames and had a nice "Scotchgard Protector" coating on the lenses that I had to special order, but contrast and compare—$27.85 versus $660.00. Moreover, LensCrafters messed up my prescription several times causing me to drive quite a distance into town each time (I live out in the country). After the third trip, I asked for my money back. The fellow helping me said that the person who originally helped me pick out the frames made a mistake because those frames were too narrow to hold a progressive prescription. Geez. From now on, I'm going to be buying my glasses online.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bluebonnets in winter

This is what Texas bluebonnets look like in winter. We have lots of them. They're beautiful come spring, but the blooms only last a couple of weeks.

While I was out taking photos of the bluebonnets, I came across several of these strange plants. I'm thinking that it may be some kind of mushroom/fungus thingy. Weird. The seed/flower structure eventually pops off, leaving no discernible plant in the ground. I dunno, though, maybe this is the entire plant. (The black stuff is sealcoat overspray from the driveway.)