Stormy skies over the fields

Apr01c

“When March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb” ~ English Proverb

Well, I thought we were in the clear, but March’s ‘Lion’ stage is still here.  But the clouds make for nice panoramas.  Took this on my ride in near Westley, CA.

Workplace critters – a mallard

Mar30

“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” ~  Michael Caine

This little guy crossed the road in front of me, then looked at me calmly as if to say “You late for work again?”

There is plenty of wildlife, even in the suburbs, if you look for it.  It’s nice, reminds us that there’s more to life than the concrete jungle and the cubicle.

Pano of the field – now I am happy

Mar29

Clouds and darkness surround us, yet Heaven is just, and the day of triumph will surely come, when justice and truth will be vindicated. ~ Mary Todd Lincoln

This morning it was sunny and clear with some nice clouds over the hills, so I decided to take one more panorama and stitch it together using autostitch.  the 15 photos I took are combined here. 

Girl at a party

image from farm3.static.flickr.com

“I love that whole princess mentality, but I also like throwing my hair in a ponytail and just wearing jeans, going on a hike and then eating a big chili-cheeseburger.” ~ Jennifer Love Hewitt

This is my little one, with “Lambie” at a friend’s birthday party.  There’s just something adorable about the back of a girl’s neck and her ponytail.  Awww.

My first Engrish Submissions

Mar27

Poetry is what gets lost in translation. ~ Robert Frost

Some of you may be familiar with the humorous site Engrish.com.  It documents translation mistakes, mostly on commercial products and signs, displaying awful English, not to mention unintentional double entendres. 

Mar27a Above is my first encounter with Engrish in real life, at the local FoodMaxx store.  Note that not only is chili mispelled on the packaging, but on the shelf labels as well (chilli).  Nice.  Finding one of these made me all warm and fuzzy inside (chilly does that ;). 

Also shown here is one that Larry found at Best Buy.  I wonder what they were trying to say instead of "wonderful life should with you"?

Water house

Mar26

“Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” ~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Hungarian Biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1893-1986)

Mar26a This water house is at a small local farm reservoir, pumping water through the culverts used to water the local orchard (see yesterday’s photo).

Gnarly trees dude

Mar25

Surely man was not created to be an idle fellow; he was not set in this universal orchard to stand still as a tree.  ~ Thomas Dekker

Mar25a These gnarly trees caught my eye on the way to work.  Not sure what these are, I only know that they are not almonds.  See the water house at the end of the culvert?  That’s tomorrow’s.  Also, here’s the original photo before I posterized it.

Cat in repose

Mar24

“People that hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life” ~Anonymous

This is my cat Mocha.  He is a sweet and pretty cat.  Like all cats, he is good at napping.  Cat’s always look so peaceful.  I like them.

Order out of disorder

Mar23

Oh, yeah, I love DVD’s. I don’t have what you’d call an extensive collection, maybe a couple of hundred or so. But I have something on almost all the time. ~ David Fincher

One of my pet peeves for years has been the mess that CD’s and DVD’s create when out in general use.  I’m glad you don’t have to rewind them like the tapes of old, but they are still ungainly, too easy to break or scratch, and just a pain to organize.

I’ve tried many methods over the years.  For my CD’s, I had one of those 300 CD carousel players, but even that wasn’t fun – the tiny screen was too small to read to see which disc you were on, and besides, in order to get the info into the player you had to connect a keyboard and enter all the data through their terrible menus. I ended up creating a 300 row spreadsheet that I printed out and put in those clear plastic sleeves, and kept it as a reference when I wanted to find a CD.  Yeah, it sucked.

Then came iTunes and TIVO.  Tivo let me play my iTunes playlists ON the home theater across the network.  Cool!  I digitized all my music (at too low a bitrate, 160kbps), and BAM!  No more CD’s.  But as my DVD collection grew from 10 to 20 to 100, I began to have the same problems – piles of DVD’s, scratches, an ungainly mess.

Then came iTunes and AppleTV.  I realized that I wanted to rip all my CD’s again at a higher bitrate, but iTunes made it easy to rip, and AppleTV replaced my Tivo functionality.  It was awesome.  But iTunes didn’t give me a way to digitize my movies.

Then I had kids.  Kids that wanted to watch the same videos repeatedly.  But they wanted to play with them.  And soon they were scratched and skippy.  So I decided to break the law.

Using DVDFab and HandBrake, I began ripping and encoding my DVD’s (legally purchased) and putting them into iTunes. 

Now I play them over my network, and can call them up at whim.  I threw out all the jewel cases, purchased some “cake box spindles” on ebay (that’s what you need to search for), and archived them all. Today’s picture is the result of sorting and storing them.  Ahh.

Roadside memorials – a fascinating cultural practice

Mar22

Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer.  ~Author Unknown

In my first post on roadside memorials (Death is real, and your car is dangerous), I introduced the subject.  Since then, I’ve done some more research, and an noticing them more.

Many memorials have no name, often because the name has worn off from the elements.  Like this memorial, the deceased are only remembered by their loved ones.

Drivesafely However, in both Florida and South Dakota, the DMV has taken it upon themselves to put up official roadside markers at these locations, mostly because many of them are put in dangerous or inappropriate places, and are often not anchored well and are moved by rains and wind.

SDwhydiemarker The road marker to the left is the simple one put up in Florida.  In South Dakota, they have a bit more of an aggressive message (see right).  In addition, if more than one person dies at the spot, you can see an entire line of signs, one for each person.

If you use any of the newer ‘check-in’ applications on your smartphone, you may want to do like I have, and that is to enter the locations of these in as a place to stop and check in.  Applications include:

  • BrightKite
  • Cause World (donates to charities)
  • DodgeBall
  • Foursquare (most popular, and my favorite)
  • Gowalla (up and coming)
  • Loopt
  • MyTown
  • Rummble
  • Whrrl

Go to your phone’s marketplace, start with FourSquare or Gowalla, and then branch out to others if you want. And drive carefully!

Pretty yellow… weeds

image from farm3.static.flickr.com

A weed is but an unloved flower.  ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850 – 1919) was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion.

Remember last week's UFO picture?  Here's a closer view of the weeds that make the fields yellow this time of year.  Below, you can see some closeups of the two types of weeds that I found so far.  Haven't identified them yet.

 image from farm5.static.flickr.com image from farm5.static.flickr.com

T-ball on a sunny day

Mar20.jpg

A critic once characterized baseball as six minutes of action crammed into two-and-one-half hours.  ~Ray Fitzgerald, in Boston Glove, 1970

Mar20a It was a nice day to be out at the park watching my boy play t-ball, despite the fact that he seems to hate it. I don’t blame him.  Standing out in the field with a glove he doesn’t know how to use, waiting endlessly for some kid to actually hit the ball to break up the boredom.

You see, dog-people like to frolic and chase balls around, but us cat people?  We’d rather chase birds.

But I digress.  He probably hates it because (a) he’s still too young to understand it, and (b) he only gets to actually HIT something twice during the whole two inning game.  And the play structure where he can climb looks way more fun.

 Mar20b  Mar20c

Furrows and sky

Mar19 

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

I’ve been driving past this plowed field daily, and have noticed the shadows that look like scalloped edges at the end of the furrows.  Nice interplay of light and shadow here.

White petals gone, green lives here

Mar18 

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” – Jeremiah 1:11 (Jeremiah, the “Weeping Prophet”)

You may remember this pic, it has changed from the beautiful white petals of early spring.  Green leaves and buds that will become almonds replaced them.

Here are the previous two pics of this location:

Mar18b Mar18c

Blue skies and yellow flowers

Mar17a

“I don’t mind UFO’s and ghost stories, it’s just that I tend to give value to the storyteller rather than to the story itself.” ~ Robert Stack (1919 – 2003), American Actor who hosted Unsolved Mysteries

Spring is here, which means on top of the green winter grasses, we are now getting yellow flowers.  Soon, we will also see the wild orange poppies, the California state flower.  We should also see some purple wildflowers in the fields before the hot dry summer turns the grass “blond.”

The beautiful clouds of the winter storms are gone, and we are back to days of endless blue skies and sun until next December.  Ahh, love CA.

Anyway, the skies are now boring in my pics, so I added a visitor through photo editing magic.  Here’s an advanced version for all you Cow and Chicken fans.

Mar17b

More panorama experiments – still not good enough

Mar16a

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” ~  Ernst Haas (1921 – 1986) Austrian photographer and artist

This location is actually one that Larry suggested I photograph – it’s a strange assemblage of little hills that look a bit unnatural.  In all probability, they probably were piles of dirt excavated by the local cement company that owns the surrounding (and probably this) land.  When the grass grows back, it looks like it’s always been there – almost.

My only problem today was that by the time I got here, the light was fading.  I’ll try to get off work earlier to morrow and take these again.

Although the clouds sot of change in the middle of this photo, that’s not an artifact of the photo stitching process – that’s what the sky looked like, although the change in hue and brightness might be a little unnatural due to the differences in the shots that included the sun – my camera probably did a lot of filtering to reduce the glare of the sun, and at the same time, darkened the photos in that area.

Here’s another photo from a different location nearby a few minutes earlier:

Mar16b
As always, don’t forget to click on the images to see the larger version (you will need a monitor resolution of at least 1280 pixels wide to see these – if you don’t know what that means, just click them – if they go outside of your screen’s width, your resolution is less than 1280).

The wisdom of signs

Mar15

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal
vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the
consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” ~ John Philpot Curran

At the intersection where the Welcome to Westley sign sits is an interesting sign of aphorisms.  Not sure how they were chosen, but I’d like to comment on each.

  1. Light a candle, hold it high – a nice sentiment about living by example, being bold for what is good and just, and perhaps holding out faith, hope, and love.
  2. Westley Wildcats – might as well give a shout out to the home team
  3. Geographic center of California – hmf, didn’t know that.
  4. John_Philpot_Curran Freedom is never free – “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”  Often mis-attributed to Thomas Jefferson, was actually spoken by John Philpot Curran in a speech upon
    the Right of Election (1790)
  5. Laughter, leavening for life – sounds kinda Reader’s Digest, but leaven makes dough rise, and laughter can lighten the loads of life
  6. Cool clean water – better than gold – especially true out here in farm country.  Water is one of our most treasured commodities, and many wars are and will be fought over it.
  7. Life is short, do it todayCarpe diem!  If you haven’t seen the movie The Dead Poet’s Society, you have missed one of the top films of all time.
  8. Some have eyes but can’t see – The difference between sight and perception can be vast – do we understand and rightly perceive reality?  Do we value what is really important, or just the things the world tells us are important (power, possessions, popularity, pleasure, see 1 John 2:16)?
  9. Tortoise Sell and repent – this is by far the most interesting and cryptic of the aphorisms.  It could be a reference to the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-22), who was willing to do all kinds of good works with his life, but was unwilling to follow God’s will for his life.
  10. Remember the tortoise won – The Tortoise and the Hare is one of the all time great morality tales. Moral of the story?  Hard work and persistence outperform talent and laziness.

Mastering the art of the panorama

Panc401

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” ~  Ansel Adams

Larry took an awesome panorama a few weeks back, and I’ve been trying to master this art myself, with less than stellar success – sure the pic above looks nice, but it’s only three of the four pics I took (I was aiming for a 180 degree view). 

The problem?  My photos don’t overlap for the ‘photo stitchers’ to figure out the pics are connected.  As it turns out, there’s quite a few programs that stitch panoramas together, and some free ones.  Naturally, the built in feature of Photoshop CS4 works well, but you can also use these free apps:

I used autostitch for these, it was very easy to use.  Here’s a few more successful and non-successful panoramas for your enjoyment.

Panc101
Panc402
Panc301
Pan3f.tif

First day of T-ball

Mar13

I’m convinced that every boy, in his heart, would rather steal second base than an automobile.  ~ Tom Clark

Mar13a This past weekend was the opening day for Patterson Little League, and it was sunny but COLD, which is why my 4-year-old has his jacket over his jersey.  It was a big deal in our small town.  A firetruck led the parade from the center of town to the baseball field, and all the teams followed in a parade behind them. 

My boy is growing up so quickly, but he’s still cuddly, especially when he is tired.  One day he will be a man, but we cherish all the days of his boyhood, and hope to make them as safe and happy as we can. 

Sons are special in ways that daughters are not, and vice versa.  He loves to roughhouse – not just play at hitting and aggression, but really trying to inflict a little pain.  Heheh, keep it in check boy.  Not everybody likes horseplay.

Here’s the route the firetrucks took.


View Directions to 37.468528,-121.135846 in a larger map

Homeless Princess

Princess

“I love cats because I love my home and after a while they become its visible soul.” ~ Jean Cocteau (1889 – 1963), French Poet 

This is Princess, a stray who has been trying to adopt us for a month now.  The only problem is, I have two cats already, and they want to fight with her.  Now, we could go through the acclimation process with my cats, but two cats is all we can care for now.

This cat is a real sweetheart, very gentle, and is what us cat people call a “lover.”  She wants to lie against your side and purr, and doesn’t seem to tire of being petted.

I hope that someone can adopt her.  I just heard a stat that 7 out of 8 cats that go to the pound end up getting euthanized, which means her chances are not good.  But I can’t keep her around, because my male cats end up marking everywhere she’s been, which includes INSIDE my house because Princess keeps coming in the cat door to eat and sleep in my closet.  Help!  She’s a little dirty now, but she cleans up good.