Denise Goldberg's blog

Monday, December 31, 2007

Self portrait

A self portrait - me, taking a picture of myself.

Now that was an interesting exercise. I'm right-handed but left-eyed. When I peer through the viewfinder of my camera, I use my left eye. If I'm taking a photo in landscape mode, my right eye is blocked by the camera body, and it stays open. But if I'm taking a portrait-mode shot, leaving my right eye open causes confusion, so I usually close it. Confusion? Yes! With both eyes open it feels like I am looking at two different images of the same thing. One image is the size that I normally see with both eyes. The other is a smaller image as seen through the lens. It's a very odd feeling.

I had to compose this photo with my right eye closed, then open it before I pressed the shutter. I really didn't want to capture myself with my eye squeezed shut!

Less than expected

Less snow, that is!

The forecasts last night were a bit overdone, calling for 3 to 7 inches of snow overnight with another 1 to 3 during the morning. They were bad enough that I went to sleep last night thinking that I was going to need to work from home today.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up and looked out to a world of white that was created by (only) 1 to 2 inches of snow. I still considered working from home, but that seemed unnecessary. I followed my normal morning routine and headed to the office. My drive took only 25 minutes, surprising considering that the plows were still out clearing the surface streets, but not surprising since there are many people who opted to take today off as an early start to New Year's festivities.

I have a feeling that I could easily be the only person in the office today. I know there are a couple of folks who are planning to work from home, but not everyone has checked in yet. One of my New Hampshire colleagues said that he had 7 to 8 inches of snow up his way, so my experience of only a couple of inches may just be a stroke of regional luck.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

After the rain

Rain in December...

It's been a crazy precipitation month here. We've had much more snow than normal; in fact, I heard yesterday that Boston is within an inch of having the snowiest December ever.

Last night and into this morning, liquid fell from the sky. There's still a layer of snow on the ground, but uncovered ground is peeking through too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Crocs, no holes!

My feet are hooked on Crocs. Yes, the shoes are on the ugly side, but they are functional, and oh! so comfortable. And they come in all sorts of colors, comfort and fun for my feet...

A new pair of Crocs was waiting for me when I arrived home today (courtesy of very fast order processing & delivery from Zappos). I've been wearing my normal Crocs around home, running errands, inside, outside. Warm wool socks inside comfy shoes, and my feet are happy. That is, until I started wandering outside in our winter wet, snow, rain, puddles. The nice ventilation holes are also entry points for cold and wet. It was time to search for options.

That was an easy solution - now I have a pair of Crocs without holes.

You're right - this isn't a pair. It's just my crazy feet checking out the differences. I wonder if anyone at work would notice if I wore a mismatched pair of Crocs. I don't normally wear these to work, but it might be fun to see if I get any reactions to a very mismatched set of feet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Two wheels rolling

A late-morning walk led to an early afternoon ride... and it was just what I needed.

It was still a bit nippy when I headed out on my walk this morning, and while I really wanted to ride, I was afraid that the roads were still going to be covered with snow melt. And my bikes told me that while they wanted to ride they didn't want to come home covered with salt and sand from the roads.

I had the whole day, and it felt like a good day for a long walk. Walking, walking... and guess what! Most of the roads were dry, with only the smallest neighborhood streets wearing a wash of salty water. And it felt like the temperature was inching up, and up. I cut my walk short, arriving home a short hour after I'd left. A snack for me, and air for my bicycle tires, and it was time to roll!

It's been many weeks since the weather wizard provided a good day for cycling. Yes, I've been a bit of a baby lately; I really don't like riding on wet roads that have been coated with sand and salt.

Today was a real gift, blue skies, reasonable (low 40s) temperatures, and dry roads. Awesome!

...many thanks are flowing to the weather wizard from me (and from my bicycles who love to be rolling down the road)!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Decorated by sunshine



Full and bright

I woke this morning to see a bright light jumping around the edges of the window blinds. The sky was still dark, but a very bright full moon was providing light and decoration.

What a beautiful greeting from the morning sky...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Solstice

Ah, winter solstice... the day when the sun changes direction, when the edges of the days here in the northern hemisphere start to slowly extend once again.

This year the solstice was a good excuse for a day off, a day to enjoy a breath of fresh air. I headed for the New Hampshire coast for a bit of a wander this afternoon. It was a bit of a challenge to reach the beach in some locations since the snow plows had left quite a pile along the side of the road. It was a challenge that I met without ending up on the ground, lucky!

There was a white band of snow along the edge of the beach, icy patches across the snow, and more waves than I've seen in a while. The waves decorated the air with a low roar as they crashed against the shore.

Once I crossed that white stuff separating me from the beach, walking was fine. But as I wandered through Odiorne Point State Park, breaking through the snow, I realized that a pair of snowshoes would have been a good idea.





Interested in seeing more photos from my coastal wander today? You can find them in my gallery Snow, sand, and the roar of the ocean.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fluff

It's snowing again! I can't remember another winter here - and I've lived in this area since 1985 - when the snow started right after Thanksgiving and stayed. The normal pattern this early in the season is for a bit of snow followed by a disappearing act. The snow isn't disppearing this month, it's just adding to the previous snowfall.

The weather wizard says it's supposed to be warm and rainy on Sunday; that could be a real mess!

For now, it's snowing fluff, and it's beautiful.



Voice mail calling

Sometimes I think voice mail has a mind of its own. I'll pick up my messages, then hang up the phone - and the next thing I know, my phone is ringing, and it's my voice mail account. Today that happened after I left a message for my sister on her voice mail. This time the ringing phone was Suze's voice mail. What!?!

This is a real curiousity (to me). Does anyone know why Verizon's voice mail seems to insist on not being finished when I hang up the phone? Is is an idiosyncracy of Verizon's system, or do others share the same behavior?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ice underfoot

Brrr... it's still pretty cold out, with temperatures hovering around 20. I suppose it could be colder though, and I do finally remember which layers I need to stay warm. So yes, it was a walking kind of evening.

Yesterday's snow turned to rain left a bit of a mess though. Sidewalks aren't cleared, and the roads are a bit narrower than normal. I headed out adorned with blinking lights - three blue lights facing forward, and two red lights facing back - walking along the plowed streets, hoping that an icy patch wouldn't reach up and grab me. Walking, staying upright, bright lights making me visible to the other occupants of the roads...

It would have been easy to use the icy surfaces as an excuse to stay home, but I'm glad that I didn't let that happen. It felt good to walk.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

New toy!

My new toy arrived Friday afternoon, good timing for uninterrupted experimentation.

What is it? An ASUS Eee PC 8g, a baby computer that will accompany me on my travels. It's considerably smaller (and lighter) than my laptop, and while it is larger than the handheld that it is replacing, I think that it is a very acceptable size (and weight) to join me when I wander on my bicycle.

It is almost as expected. My only disappointment is that I thought it would have an internal modem that I could use for slow (dial-up) connection to the Internet when I don't have access to a wireless connection. There's a (covered up) space in the case for the modem, but no modem. Funny, when I went back to look at the specs, it showed the modem as optional. That's odd, there are no options anywhere to buy the thing. Oops! I did find something that I hope will work though - a 56kbps modem that plugs into a USB port. I've ordered one, and hopefully it will provide me with my desired backup access to cover those times when my bike and I travel places where wireless access isn't available.

It's small, and the little 7" screen is of good quality. The keyboard is a reasonable size for my hands; it's easy to touch-type without errors. Measuring the keyboard, it's 5 1/2 inches across from the left edge of the "A" to the right edge of the "L". For comparison purposes, the same measurement on my HP Jornada (my circa-2002 baby PC) is 5 inches, and on my laptop is 6 1/2 inches. I'm a little surprised that the extra half-inch makes such a big difference in ease of typing.

I think this new baby computer is just what I needed!

Rover approves! He says the keyboard is better for bouncing, and the screen is better too! (For those of you who haven't met Rover, he jumped into my bags on my cross-country trip back in 2002; he's been joining me on my travels ever since.)
Here's a shot of a photo from my galleries. The quality of the display is very good.

Oh look! another funny feature... This crazy device has a camera that to my mind is installed in a somewhat backwards fashion. Why do I say it's backward? Because the camera faces the person sitting at the device. I would have preferred to have it face outwards, but it's an interesting approach to self-portraits. (And of course I'd never use it as a replacement for my camera.)

I just took a photo of myself. It was an interesting exercise since in order to change my positioning in the photo I had to move in the opposite direction, Ah, a mirror!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Remember...

Death is forever, but my memories are forever too.

Today is my brother's birthday. While he was living, it was a day to chat and laugh with each other. Yes, over the phone - since we didn't live anywhere near each other.

Now, it's a day for memories. Memories, from when we were children a very long time ago, to the last time he was able to speak to me, and from the many years between those times...

My first couple of memories are courtesy of our mother, who told me these stories. When Neal & I were very young, we shared a bedroom. We must have been misbehaving one night when we were supposed to be sleeping; our door was closed, and the light was out. Neal got out of bed and opened the door to let some light in. My parents heard him say "Deese? is that OK Deese?". He was thinking of and doing things for other people, even as a very young child.

The next story I remember always brings a smile to my face. Neal wasn't satisfied with playing with toys. He had to experiment, to use playing as a learning experience. I wonder what he was thinking the day he hid Mom's keys. I suppose "hid" isn't quite the right word; he really created a puzzle that wasn't solved for a long time. Neal took the back off of a radio, placed the keys inside it, and replaced the back. The radio apparently no longer worked, and there was no sign of the keys either. Mom - how long did it take (weeks? months?) before you found those keys?

There were growing up years when we were together, and there were many years when geography intervened and we didn't see each other that often. But even not seeing each other, we did talk on the phone, and I always knew that Neal was there if I needed him. He was there if I just wanted to chat, to share, and he was there if I needed support too.

So many years, so many memories...

I think I will always remember the last thing that Neal said to me: "Don't worry, I'll be OK. I love you." Again, he was thinking of others and not of himself.

I'm holding on to my memories of Neal.

A part of him is in my heart and and in my mind. Forever...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snow, quickly falling

I escaped for a quick walk not too long after the snow started to fly this afternoon, a walk in the snow. Snow, quickly falling, accumulating, gathering in the shells of faded wildflowers, decorating the few leaves still remaining on trees. Snow, cold, fluff...



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(Day)light matters

The days have been (noticeably) shrinking for a while now, and I'm still fighting with myself to get back to what I consider a normal amount of exercise. The winter solstice is next week, so the sun will slowly start to add minutes to its daily presence. It will still be a long while before the edges of the day start visibly expanding outward though.

When daylight supports biking before and after work, I have a much easier time of getting what I consider to be a reasonable amount of exercise. This daylight-lacking time of year is hard. Somewhere along the line I lost my enthusiasm for indoor exercise, so I've been trying to satisfy my need for movement with walking. My bikes happily join me on weekend days when the roads are dry, but my primary form of exercise during the week is by foot, usually in the early evening.

Just walking... I'd like to add a very early morning walk (as in before work) a couple of times a day. That hasn't worked so far, but I'm going to keep trying. It's funny, but in the summer (when I'm commuting to work by bike) I have no problem getting up at 5AM. The sun is just below the horizon then, sky lightening. Right now the sunrise is considerably later; today it was at 7:05AM. When my alarm noisily announced it was time to get up at 5 this morning, the sky was still in full darkness. My reaction? To turn the alarm off and go back to sleep! Oops! A mid-day walk plus my evening jaunt worked for today, but my goal is still to add a couple of early morning walks each week.

Remember, dreams and goals can become reality. Next week?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Icy...

A predicted snowstorm wandered off without dropping more than a few flakes. Instead, freezing rain added some interesting attire to the remaining leaves.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Waiting, waiting!

When I travel, I usually carry a small handheld computer to allow me to write and post my journal entries. I've been using an HP Jornada that I bought back in 2002. My baby computer still works, but it only has dial-up access to the rest of the world. That limitation in conjunction with my worry that it is not a repairable device (as in when the battery gives up the ghost, or when it stops behaving normally) has led me to keep my eyes peeled for a more modern replacement.

I saw what I thought should become my next baby computer a while back, and I've been waiting for the version I wanted to be available in the states. What have I been waiting for? It's an ASUS EEE PC 8g, with 1GB of memory and an 8GB solid state disk. The 4GB version has been available for a few weeks, but I really wanted more memory and more disk - although I think the memory was really the more important of the two. There were fly-by-night vendors who were accepting orders, but I knew that I wanted to order from a reputable company. I contacted newegg.com a couple of weeks ago, asking if they planned to carry it. The answer I got was to keep checking their web site. So - I checked, and I checked, and I checked; last week the device was listed with an auto-notify button. I requested notification when the it became available, and then I went back to waiting. And waiting. (Can you tell I'm not very patient? Oops!)

Tonight I was sitting at my computer when it notified me of a message - hey - the baby computer is in stock. Time to place an order... and now it's time to wait once more, this time for a delivery.

Oh, you want to know the size? You can tell from this photo showing a hand holding the device that it's pretty small... the specs say it weighs 2 pounds, and is 8.86" x 6.30" x 0.79-1.26". I have to admit I don't understand how it can be from .79 to 1.26 inches thick, guess I'll need to wait until it arrives and measure it myself!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Map play

I often use Google Maps to check distances between two locations. I sometimes use it for directions if I'm driving somewhere, but for travel by bike? It usually wasn't a reasonable mapping tool since it often took me on heavy traffic roads.

I just had to check the distance a package traveled to get from LLBean in Freeport, Maine to my house, by way of Connecticut (which definitely doesn't lie between the begin and end points of that journey)! You're right, "had to" is probably the wrong set of words here, but I had to satisfy my curiosity!

I noticed two new features that should be very helpful for my non-motorized wanderings. What are they? A checkbox that instructs the mapping program to avoid highways, and more important, the ability to drag the mapped route (line) to a different road. Time to play...

The set of maps below is for a favorite "edges of the season" (bike) tour I've done the last two years, an out-and-back journey from home to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and back again. Playing with a route that I knew just seemed like a good test. Now I'll just need to remember that this tool exists the next time I'm dreaming up a new cycling route.

The start of Google's directions, original mapped route using highways:




After checking "Avoid highways" & dragging route to my choice of roads:


Maps courtesy of http://maps.google.com

Saturday, December 08, 2007

White as decoration

The white of last Sunday night's snow, that is!

This early in the winter, when snow visits it normally disappears quickly. Not this time! We only had a couple of inches overnight on Sunday, but the temperatures stayed cold, so that white stuff is still with us. Not only that, but the weather wizards are predicting more for tomorrow night...




Banana smiles

Grocery shopping needs to be done, and needs to be done on a regular basis. After all, food is required! Sometimes it's just a chore, sometimes an adventure. But either way, it can be a source of smiles.

Today I was looking at, choosing, bananas. As I looked to find bananas with the right degree of ripeness - yellow for right now, tinged with green for good eating a little later in the week - a little bit of blue jumped out at me.

Blue? Ah, smile-producing Chiquita labels...

There were two labels that jumped out at me today, adorned with the words:

Peel Me-
I'm Fat
Free!
Chiquita®


Place
Sticker on
Forehead.
Smile.™
Chiquita®

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Shipping direct

Have you ever looked at package routing? I hate shopping in stores, so I am very accustomed to packages arriving at my door (not too long) after I have placed an order online. I received a shipping notification from LLBean today. Curious about delivery time, I clicked to the tracking link to see where my package was traveling.

Let's see, LLBean is in Freeport, Maine, and I live in North Andover, Massachusetts. City to city (by the default route chosen by Google Maps) is 103 miles. But - I could see from the tracking data that my package had arrived in Hartford, Connecticut this evening. Ah, the wonders of shipping networks. My package is taking the scenic route.

Freeport, Maine to North Andover, Massachusetts by way of Connecticut... Actual begin point to end point distance 103 miles. Total distance for my package's voyage? 334 miles!


A little update...I checked the progress mid-day on December 7th and found that the package had been delivered and signed for by C.LOSET. Funny.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So much to learn

Is it any surprise that I'm (almost) always wandering with my camera? I've been using a camera to capture memories for as long as I can remember, an my fascination with photography seems to continue to grow.

I had the wonderful opportunity in Death Valley to go on a guided walk with a photographer. The focus of our wander on the sand dunes was talking about photography, about improving composition, about using the tools on my camera. The photographer who ran the session grew up with photography, moving from the 35mm world into the digital world. Rather than just spit out generic tips, he asked what we (the forum participants, lucky for me that there were only two of us!) wanted to be able to do with our cameras. When I told him about my travel mode - by bicycle, with as small a load as possible - he suggested methods of bracing (my camera) without a tripod. His attitude was refreshing, focusing on using the available equipment (my fellow attendee was using a point-and-shoot camera) to meet our stated goals.

I found it interesting that he matches my desire to do as much with the camera settings as possible, with little or no post-processing.

Many people - photographers - have told me that a tripod is an absolute must. It was refreshing to get the opposite attitude during that session in Death Valley, and I think I'll continue with my current non-tripod-use for a while longer. I've been resisting the purchase because I need to determine whether it will come with me on my bike; that will make a big difference when it comes to weight considerations. My one long lens has image stabilization, so it is perfectly usable without a tripod. But when I start to explore new photographic techniques, I know I will have more options available to me if I have a tripod. The problem? I know enough about my habits to suspect that I won't be happy with an entry-level tripod. Uh oh!

Sunrise at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley provided a concentrated gathering of photographers, another place to eye equipment, with plenty of time before the sun started its morning show to chat. That time gave me my first view of a graduated neutral density filter. I had recently become aware of these filters; what a great opportunity to talk with a photographer who uses one for almost all of his landscape photography.

Sometimes I think that I have big eyes...

I've been focusing more on composition than I have on the opportunities I have for making changes in how my images are caputured. My goal for the winter is not to buy things, but to have changing settings on my camera become second nature. Right now I need to think things through too much, which tells me I'm not playing enough. It's time to learn and absorb.

I'm playing with my camera, experimenting, but I'm reading too.


This book, Understanding Exposure, looks to be a winner. It was written by Bryan Peterson, a photographer who speaks to all who walk with a camera in hand. It uses photos as examples, showing the same scene caught with different camera settings for what the author refers to as the "photographic triange": aperature, shutter speed and ISO.

I'm reading, and I'm playing with my camera. A happy exercise...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Starting early...

...gray, white, wet, cold, gray

Winter has made a first appearance. The solstice is still three weeks away, but the cold settled in last week, and a coating of white - several inches worth - greeted me this morning.

Funny, I'm quite happy when spring gets a jump on the equinox, but winter arriving early doesn't appeal. It just makes me think about how many weeks there will be until warmth creeps in again. Then again, the arrival of the winter solstice means that light will start to creep back in to the edges of the day. Yes, I'm well aware that the addition of one or two minutes of light each day won't jump out at me, won't be noticed for a number of weeks. I can hope, can't I?

Do you get the sense that with the cold and dark and potential icy precipitation, winter is not my favorite season? You're right, but I live in the northeast so I need to deal with it. My goal this year is to take advantage of the ice and snow of winter, to use it as an opportunity to improve the results of my camera play. A macro lens, snow and ice, now that sounds like it will be an interesting exercise.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Listen...

...can you hear the wind?

The sky was clear, the temperature cold, the wind was absolutely howling. And I was drawn to the coast to satisfy a walking desire.

The ocean was quiet, but the wind was blowing waves across the water - ponds and inlets - on the land side of the road. It was 22 degrees when I popped out of my car, cold, colder than cold with the addition of the strong wind. It was a good walk, shorter than I wanted due to the temperature and the wind, but still a good opportunity to clear my mind.




Friday, November 30, 2007

Becoming fast friends

Bailey, the somewhat wacky dachshund who runs my parents' house, and Gracey, the full-of-mischief black kitten who lives with my sister Suze, are temporarily sharing space.

They really weren't sure of each other at first, looking, but looking away when they sensed the other looking at them. Looking, chasing, ignoring... But now, they seem to be entering the realm of friendship, sitting together, checking each other out. I wonder how they'll react when Mom & Bailey head back to their other home in upstate New York. I sense that they will miss each other. Hopefully they'll carry some memory of their fun so the next melding (as animal friends) will be faster.




A painted sky

My eyes were drawn to the eastern sky early this morning. It was painted a brilliant pink and orange, a beautiful memory.

The old adage "red sky in the morning, sailors take warning" always makes me wonder. Today's forecast is for a crisp, sunny day, but there is snow in the forecast for Sunday night and Monday. I won't take warning for today, and we get our weather from so many different directions that I suspect it's really too early to worry about Sunday night. But brrr! The forecast for Saturday night calls for a temperature of 13 degrees (Fahrenheit). Brrr... I'm not (mentally) ready for that!

I think this weekend will be a "dress warmly, walk lightly with camera" kind of weekend. Maybe a jaunt to the coast, a visit with the birds, views of waves...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On purpose?

Tonight I was in Norton hell, and I wonder - was it on purpose, or just a fluky thing?

I turned my computer on, and was informed almost immediately of a problem with Norton Internet Security. The error was preventing the virus protection software from working, so it wasn't something that could be ignored. I followed the error link to the Norton site, and the first suggested action was to restart the computer. OK, I'll restart.

Nope, that didn't help. I wandered back to the same page, scrolled down a little further, and saw the suggestion to uninstall and reinstall the product. Hmmm... I really didn't feel like playing games, and I briefly considered just finding a different virus protection solution. I knew that my Norton subscription still had quite a few months left on it though, so I played the uninstall, reboot, install, reboot game. And yes, my computer is now protected once again.

I wonder though... a few weeks ago I received an email telling me I had a free upgrade to Norton Internet Security 2008 (from the 2007 version). I planned to install it, just hadn't managed to get to it yet. My question is, was there some kind of time bomb in the older version triggered by the availability of the upgrade? That doesn't really make sense to me, but the timing seems a bit coincidental.

It's fixed now, but I still wonder...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hidden at dusk

As I was driving down a narrow neighborhood street just after sunset, two dark images darted in front of my car. It appeared to be two young women, exercising, running... They were clad in dark clothing, with the only reflective material the tabs on the heels of their running shoes.

What do you suppose they were thinking?

Not only were they hiding in the dark in their very dark clothing, they chose to run out in front of a moving automobile. I suppose that they weren't thinking at all, were they?


And yes, you're absolutely right, I do walk on those same streets when there isn't a light in the sky. I wear a light colored jacket with reflective panels across the back and on the sleeves. I wear a reflective belt, and I wear bright blinking lights - two red blinkies on my belt facing to the back, one blue blinking light on my belt facing to the front, and two blue blinking lights around my (upper) right arm. I walk on the left side of the road facing traffic, so the blue blinkies on my arm are directly pointing to approaching drivers. I've had people stop me to tell me they thought I was a police car, a good confirmation that I am very visible.

My lights? They are Firefly™ Supernova lights from Road ID. I highly recommend them.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A visting holiday

Thanksgiving is a crazy travel holiday, but a good time for a quiet family visit.

I've lessened the travel craziness over the years by choosing to fly early in the morning on both Wednesday and Sunday. With my early morning arrival, I still have a good four days to visit - just shifted to start (and end) a day earlier.

It was a good visit, quiet, a time to share memories, to visit with people and with our favorite pets - Bailey the wacky dachshund, and Gracey the silly kitten. It was a time to talk, and to walk with a camera (always!).




More photos can be viewed in my gallery November sunshine, Thanksgiving visit

Courtesy of TSA

Venturing to a major airport on the day that is known to be the busiest travel day of the year is always an adventure. My long habit of flying early in the morning lessens the craziness and the mobs of people, but flying from a busy airport often means long lines.

My flight? From Philadelphia, a crazy airport - to Manchester, NH, a very reasonable airport. I've grown to expect long lines to get through security in Philadelphia, and this morning fit that pattern perfectly. Until...

I was flying on Southwest Airlines, which has a ticketing presence in Terminal E, but flys out of both D and E. Those concourses are not connected inside of security. I started at E, found that my flight would be leaving from gate D4, and headed to D. There was no line for security at terminal E, but the lines at D extending well across the walkway to baggage claim and the parking garage. I started the trek to the end of the line, walking alongside of a TSA representative. Walking, walking, looking at the line...

Just as I got close to the end of the line, my TSA shadow stopped to make an announcement. He informed us that there was no wait to get through security in terminal C, and that C and D are connected after security.

To C! I headed down the stairs to cut across the train platform, and back up to C. No line meant a quick waltz through security. And then... a quick stop to pick up a cup of coffee, and a walk back to terminal D and my gate. In spite of the extra walking and the coffee stop, I believe I was at the gate much sooner than I would have been if I'd stayed in that long line. That was easy!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bright, chilly...

Sunlight, chill air, a good day for walking...

It would have been a good day for riding too, a good day to wander out to the coast. But somehow, walking near home fit my mood of the day.

And yes, per my usual habit, I was carrying a camera, and I was talking to the animals!







Damn computers!

Or maybe I should say damn cameras?!

Don't get me wrong - I love taking pictures and playing with my camera, and I love sharing my photos and writing. I have no regrets.

And yet... it feels like I've been glued to my computer for days now. I guess I have - I test (or break!) software for a living, so I'm talking to computers for the bulk of my work day. And I've been spending my "at home" time working on my photo galleries and journal from my Death Valley trip ever since I returned home. Two weeks! And today I fell into a new adventure - creating a book from my photos.

blurb and SmugMug just announced a partnership, the ability to slurp images from SmugMug galleries into blurb's book publication tool. As part of the relationship coupons for a free blurb book were distributed to folks who requested them, and I was one of the lucky recipients.

Of course there was a catch to that free book coupon... it had to be used by November 20th. I finished my Death Valley galleries yesterday, which left today to create a book.

Let's see, which photos should I use? I started with my Death Valley trip photos, thinking that I would combine my journal with the photos. The complexity of sorting out five galleries worth of photos plus getting the right look to the text sections sent me off in another direction after a few hours. After all, I do have plenty of galleries to use as my model book. I think I'll create my Death Valley book when I'm in less of a time crunch.

Creating that second book will depend on the quality of my first experiment. If the quality makes me happy, I'll go do battle with blurb's BookSmart tool again. And I will report the problems I had today. It seems that a lot of folks are using Photoshop to create their pages for blurb because blurb's tool is so difficult to work with. That's not something I intend to do...

There are several items that I believe need to be fixed to make BookSmart a reasonable publication tool: 1) the image name and date taken need to be preserved from the EXIF of the photo. It can't be some variation of SmugMug's internal name; it needs to be the real image name. Add to that the fact that the date taken shown in BookSmart is no where near the actual date of the photo, and you have a situation where it is almost impossible to quickly identify the photo you want. Yes there are thumbs - but small thumbs don't make things easy! And 2) the tool sometimes pays attention to the font and font size selected, but sometimes feels like almost never. It's painful to format a page. 3) I should be able to easily resize the boxes that photos sit in. And... well, there's more too. I guess I'll need to decide whether to try blurb again after I see my first book. I may want to explore some other publishers.
My book? It's called Images of Acadia, and it presents a camera's eye view of the park from my visit in September.

You do know it's a labor of love, don't you?


Interested in your own copy? Click here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ice?

It was a bright day, chilly, not freezing. It was cold overnight though, cold enough to freeze some shallow troughs of water. And in spite of the sunshine and relative warms of temperatures in the very low 40s, some ice remained floating, decorating the fallen leaves.

Visions of Death Valley

It was a magical five days in Death Valley National Park...

I posted journal entries from the road, but sharing photos needed to wait until I returned home. My journal is now complete - including photos and travel information - and my photo galleries contain visions to share.

You can read my thoughts and musings and view some photos in my journal What's in a name? And you can wander over to my Death Valley photo galleries too. There is some overlap of photos between the two locations, but there are also photos in both places that are not in the other.

I've included a randomly generated photo from each of the five galleries below. You can click on a photo or the name of the gallery to access it directly, or you can use the link above to see the gallery grouping.



A trail, a wash, a slot, anywhere!


Sand Dunes on the edges of the day


Mosaic Canyon


Twenty Mule Team Canyon


Zabriskie Point

Friday, November 16, 2007

Morning jam

Jam? No, not jam for morning toast, a traffic jam!

Or perhaps I should call it a turkey jam.

I turned in to the office this morning, and saw what looked from afar like extra rocks scattered across the lawn outside of the parking garage. Rocks? No rocks last night, they can't be rocks...

My car rolled forward, and I very quickly registered what my eyes were seeing. It was a flock of turkeys. Turkeys congregate outside of my (office) windows during the colder months, and I saw my first flock of the season last week. This morning's gaggle of birds was prancing on the lawn, and standing in the entryway to the parking garage. I rolled forward a little bit, then stopped, and waited. A couple of the gangly birds moved onto the grass, then a couple more. I was about the start rolling again when the clump of birds to my left who were now separated from the larger flock decided to race across the driveway to join their friends.

Funny...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Color fascination

The rest of the tree sports solid yellow leaves; this one must be special! Orange, veins of yellow...


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jack-o'-lantern jumping

...jumping out at me, that is!

There are still a few steps decorated with carved pumpkins, jack-o'-lanterns, Halloween decorations from that night a week and a half ago. Most don't warrant a second glance, but this one did.

The artist carved the pumpkin from the top, using the stem as a nose, and letting the "head" rest on the pumpkin's side. Turn something 90 degrees and it becomes much more interesting.

Colored leaves & bare trees

Some trees are still dressed in autumn splendor, while others have faded into browns. Still others are bare, ready for the cold to come...

On the ground, there is a carpet of leaves. And yet... occasional plants still wear (sparse) flowers.







Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tea tags

...tea tags or fortune cookies?

Mid-afternoon is a good time for a cup of tea, and this afternoon's choice was Good Earth Original (SWEET & SPICY™ HERB TEA). The company? Good Earth® Teas, based in Santa Cruz, California.

So why does the tag on the tea bag include a saying like a bad fortune cookie?

This afternoon's tea break was accompanied by a laugh, triggered by this tag:

Dignity does not consist in a silk dress.
Wise saying from the Orient
Wise? What language is that? And what is it intended to mean? Yes, the individual words are English, but as a sentence it just doesn't make any sense.

Oh well, at least it made me laugh. One of my co-workers actually questioned whether I really wanted to drink the tea after hearing me read the tag! It was a good cup of tea...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dark! walking...

It's been creeping ever earlier, but with the weekend switch back to standard time, the very earlier disappearing daylight has been slapping me in the face.

Sun down, darkness was descending as I arrived home after work tonight. A chill was in the air, and it would have been so easy to walk into the house and just stay there. I ignored that lazy feeling, donned the right layers to deal with the temperatures, attached my blinky lights to my body, and headed out walking.

Once I was out there, the brisk temperature was quite pleasant, and walking in the dark? That was fine too. It's a good thing, because I have a number of months of dark walking ahead of me.

Hmm... maybe I should move to Hawaii.

Yes, you're absolutely right. That thought crosses my mind at this time of year every year. I wonder...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Disappearing daylight

Hey - what happened to the sun?

No more daylight savings time this year, and as always the first day is more than a little bit of a shock. Yesterday's sunset was too early at 5:25PM, and today's at 4:34PM? Ouch!

I was sitting at my computer, reviewing the photos from my Death Valley trip, and editing my journal when I looked up and realized that the time was flying and that it was already 2 in the afternoon. Oops! I knew that I needed to get moving quickly if I was going to ride before the sun disappeared. And yes, I did ride.

In the short week that I was gone, most of the leaves have completed their journey from bright color to brown. There are still a few holdouts, but there is a different look to the landscape.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Where's Denise?

Are you looking for me? Wondering why there are no new blog entries?

I'm on the road, wandering, hiking, feeding my photo desires, absorbing the sights of Death Valley National Park. If you'd like to follow along as I travel, visit my journal
What's in a name?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wet, with fading colors

A wet Saturday, a perfect excuse for relaxing...

My preference was for dry pavement to support a wander on my bike, but that just didn't happen today. It was a day for staying home, for walking with a camera through mostly dry air, for gathering camera and clothes for my escape (tomorrow) to the west coast.

Sometimes, just relaxing is good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Photo play

Ah, what fun! A new addition to SmugMug allows me to present a slide show in the world outside of my photo galleries. Enjoy!




Oh - you ask, what's a SmugMug? It's the site where my photo galleries are hosted. If you're interested in your own gallery, you can use my personal coupon ( llX8NBuQ4l6uQ ) in the 'Referred by' field on the signup form to get a $5 discount.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A parting memory

My fingers wandered to the Bike Friday site earlier today, and while I was there I saw that Gaylynn had lost her long battle with cancer a little over a month ago. I received a card from her in early September; as it turns out that was just before her death. I was so awed by her words when I received the card, and I wanted to post something about it. And yet, it didn't feel like the right time.

I'd like to honor her memory now by publishing her words to me. I know that I will remember Gaylynn, her attitude, and her strength, and I hope that I can honor others as she did with her words and her acts.


Now my days grow small. Know that when you see a pink sunset I have painted it for you.
- Gaylynn

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Birds and Bailey and...

It was a weekend for visiting, a time for remembering, a time for wandering with camera in hand (as always!), a time for laughing at Bailey's antics...

You haven't met Bailey yet? He's the crazy dachshund who runs my parents' house! (More photos of Bailey's antics can be seen in his own gallery from a visit last August.)