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   This picture is from the other night at Denny's.  Tazz let me use his 24-105mm f/4L lens to take a couple shots.  The lens is rather impressive (as one would expect a Cannon L-series lens to be).  Zoom is smooth, focus very quick and the clarity spectacular.  The single aperture throughout the zoom range is nice.
   With this picture of Tami, I wanted to see what kind of bokeh (blur) I would get with the F/4 being fairly close.  I was shooting without flash and the light wasn't great.  Despite shutter speeds as low as 1/4th a second (250 milliseconds), I was able to brace the camera and lens to get a clear shot.  I think two factors contributed to the success of these low-speed shots: one, the image stabilizer and two, the weight of the lens, since I was using my arm like a tripod.  The picture has just a little blur on Tami, while the milkshake is completely in focus.  I think having an F-stop of 2.8 would have been great for this picture, but I'm happy with it none the less.  And playing with high-end lenses is always fun :)
   Today I set a new record for a single bike ride: 43.84 miles.  The route took us to Hanover, Foottville and Orfordville.  Travel time was 3 hours, 45 minutes, which doesn't include our stop for dinner and two rests.  There were 10-15 MPH winds from the south-east which made the return trip much slower then I would have liked.  Due in part to this, my average speed through out the trip was 11.69 MPH.  Heading out, I probably averaged around 14 MPH (my usual).  On the return, however, I had a hard time just keeping above 10 MPH. 
   Despite the wind, the trip went well.  My new bike seat really helped my backside from hurting, but it didn't help my back and shoulders.  This trip gets me closer to my desired 50 miles a day.
   Pictured is a farm house somewhere south-east of Orfordville, WI.
Active Skies

Active Skies

   The image today is was taken from Eagle Heights on the far east side of Beloit.  The clouds in this picture are not illuminated by sunlight—that is, in fact lightning.  I observed the storm clouds shortly after sunset and Tazz and I went out to find a place to shoot it.  The weather lately has been sweltering hot, and this storm front was extremely active with lighting.  Flashes were almost continuous in the sky, although most of the lightning stay inside the clouds.
   Winds started fairly calm, then at some point quickly increased to a very strong breeze to the point I had trouble keeping my tripod standing.  The storm clouds were moving very quickly, so I used a high ISO and under-exposed shots to keep from getting blur.  Unfortunately, ISO 800 and above are extremely noisy when under-exposed.  None the less, I ended up with some good shots.
   It was really a cool experience, to watch the sky so active with lightning—almost makes the horrible heat worth it!

1 comment has been made.

From Ed

Beloit, Wi

August 26, 2006 at 7:35 PM

Awesome photo.

July 16, 2006

Heavy heat

Tazz

Tazz

   The repair person from our ISP didn't fix anything.  I got a call saying the arrived and no one was home.  Chances are, no one was awake.  None the less, the problem was between the line and the house.  They can check signal levels remotely, so I don't see what they needed me for.
   Today was an other gross day of filthy heat.  I decided to take a trip to our storage shed and measure air-conditioners to see if we had any that would fit the windows here.  The "portable" unit I purchased isn't worth the box it came, and I'm sorry I ever looked at the thing.  But I can't bring it back, since I had to destroy the box just to get the thing out of it.  So if you ever considered buying an air-conditioner, don't consider a Soleus—it's a noisy pile of non-working junk. 
   To my delight, two of the air-conditioners at the storage shed were under 20 inches, therefor able to fit the windows of the Garage.  Silly I didn't check this before, but they all looked too big.  One of the units was the 11,000 BTU unit I bought last year for my room at Park Place.  He packs a punch and turns out to be just what I needed.  In 20 minutes it had the room feeling better then the other air conditioner had all day.  We'll see how it preforms tomorrow under full sunlight.
   Pictured is Tazz at coffee.
   Our Internet connection was painfully slow today.  I called our ISP and they said our signal levels had so much noise that they were surprised we had an Internet connection at all.  Someone is suppose to come out tomorrow to fix it.  I have to suspect this problem has something to do with the extrema heat.  The house is disgustingly hot and I'm having to turn off the Red Dragon.  CPU temperatures climb as high as 156° F (68° C) and motherboard temperatures were up to 107° F (41° C).
   Cows on a farm along South Lathers road, Beloit.
   Spent the day working on the gallery comment system.  I wanted to have the gallery comments use the same login system as the news system of DrQue.net.  Both use a set of common function libraries, but they had branched from one an other.  The biggest issue was the gallery and news systems use different databases.  Somehow, I needed to bring the two systems together.
   I started by breaking the news systems comment script into several modules, specifically, breaking out the login system.  Once the scripts were separated and could operate independently, I began to merge the common code of the gallery with the news system.  That wasn't too difficult.  Then, there was the separate databases.  For this, I modified the SQL interface to work with multiple databases.  In cases where more then one database was open, the database has to be specified.  This took minimal changes, however, wasn't working right away.  In the end, I discovered in order to have PHP open a connect to two databases, you have to force it to open a new connection and not recycle an existing connection.  That caused some trouble and the gallery and news pages were up and down until I had that cleared up.
   The comment system for the galleries is pretty much finished.  They only appear when looking at the 600x600 sizes.  Logins on either the gallery pages or the news pages carry over to the other.  So go ahead, leave some comments on pictures :)
   Pictured is a dark cloud that hung above my house right as I walked outside in the early morning hours.
   Last day of my trip to Indiana.  After getting everything sorted out, I departed around 1:30pm EST.  I finished my audio book 1776 shortly after crossing into Illinois.  I found myself rather tired as despite being physically exhausted, I didn't sleep well during my trip.  This is normal for me as I don't really sleep well anywhere but home.  However, I would have thought the exercise would have helped more.  Due to the drowsiness, I pulled into a rest area and took an hour nap, and that was just what the doctor ordered.  I returned home around 6:45pm and went to bed.  It's always a great feeling to sleep in ones own bed after a trip :)
   Pictured are some wind turbines by Paw Paw, Illinois.  These are part of the Mendota Hills Wind Farm.  Each turbine creates 800 kilowatts of zero emission energy.  This isn't a great picture—certainly not fitting for this grand wind farm, but none of my pictures from this day were good.
   Day two of my work trip, and I had already found a second skating rink with a Wednesday night session.  Typically when I skate at other rinks, I find myself almost the elite skaters, but not this time.  Some of the group that skates at this rink are absolutely amazing.  One of the skaters, Curly Smith, was heading to national finials.  I chatted with him some and he gave me the address of a skating group called Breaksk8 (caution: all flash site) he preforms with.  These guys humble even the best skaters I normally skate with.  It turns out that the owner of this rink knows the owner of the rink I typically skate at in Watertown.  Curly had skated at the Watertown rink and knows one of the DJ there.  Crazy small world.
   The rink itself was pretty small, about the size of the Beloit rink.  The floor was in good shape though, although writing on the floor startled me more then once when I was skating backward.  When you get use to skating defensive, you're quick to react to subtle changes in environment to avoid collisions.  When I caught the writing on the floor out of my peripheral vision, I turned around quickly to avoid an obstacle that wasn't there. 
   Despite not feeling worthy to skate amongst such pros, it was a good time.  I again left drenched in sweet, headed to the grocery store for a fine microwave dinner and a long soak in the jet tub.
   Pictured is a stop sign on I-65 north bound exit 101.  Perhaps I was a bit surprised to see such a political statement in such a conservative area like Greenwood, Indiana.

1 comment has been made.

From Ed

Beloit, Wi

August 26, 2006 at 7:39 PM

Well you can only agree with the "artist". :P
   Today I traveled to Indiana for work.  I left at 1:00am so that I could arrive on the site around 7:00am.  Due to construction, I was a little late, but not too bad.  After concluding the days work, I checked into my favorite Holiday Inn in Greenwood, Indiana.  This place is gorgeous for a Holiday Inn.  They only had suites available, meaning I'd have a microwave, refrigerator, king size bed and a whirlpool bathtub. 
   I had wanted to find a place to skate, so I did a little google work.  None of the places had anything listed for a Tuesday night, but lucky for me, the webpages were out-of-date.  I found a place called United Skates of America had a 10:00pm to 2:00am adult skate session.  This was about perfect.  I passed out on my mammoth bed for a few hours, got up at 9:00pm and got ready to skate. 
   I've visited this rink once before.  It's fairly large with a decent wood floor.  This night was "soul night", where they would be playing soul music.  Must normally be a ruff crowd, because when I came in, I was IDed and patted down for weapons.  However, no one seemed uncivil at all—I've run into more trouble at the Beloit rink.  I skated for 2 hours and despite having been in a band that use to practice at a sustained 122 decibels, the volume at the rink was so high it hurt.  There was a lot of talented skaters on the floor, which I don't see outside my Watertown rink. 
   After two hours, my close soaked in sweet and my body exhausted from a long day, I headed back to the motel.  I stopped by a grocery store and bought the finniest microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner they stocked.  Once in my room, I fired up the nuker to cook dinner and started filling the massive bathtub.  After stuffing myself with mac-n-cheese, I soaked in a turbulent waters of a bathtub the size of a swimming pool.  It was the perfect end to a long day.
   I visited Tazz today and copied all my picture from the 8th.  He seemed pleased with how the pictures were turning out.  This would also be the first time I have been paid for anything involving photography.