Saturday, September 30, 2006

First, the bright ones

800 X 600 Wallpaper
1024 X 768 Wallpaper
1280 X 960 Wallpaper

There is a grove of quaking aspen at the rear of the cottage by the driveway. I shot this picture pretty much straight up, and used a polarizing filter to enrich the hue of the sky.

800 X 600 Wallpaper
1024 X 768 Wallpaper
1280 X 960 Wallpaper

Winterberries are a hardy species of holly. They thrive in soggy acidic soil -- something that we have plenty of around the lake. This picture was taken using a close-up diopter on a 135mm lens. I'm pretty sure I used 100 ASA Fuji film. I had my tush comfortably seated upon my canoe seat at the time. I'm not really into slogging through swamps, though I'll do it for a good image.

800 X 600 Wallpaper
1024 X 768 Wallpaper
1280 X 960 Wallpaper

I took a few pictures of the winterberries, but not all were worth reproducing. That's just the way it goes with photography, and a very good reason to get a high-quality digital camera. More images means more keepers.

I like this one because of the strong compositional elements of the diagonal lines, and the juxtaposition of the bright red berries in front of the texture of the log.

Because of focus issues, this one would have come out much better if I could have used a tripod. A tripod would have allowed me to use a long exposure, which would allow me to close the aperture (f-stop) for more depth of field.

800 X 600 Wallpaper
1024 X 768 Wallpaper
1280 X 960 Wallpaper

This is another one where I pointed the camera up and used a polarizing filter to darken the sky a bit. I really like the contrasting colors.

And no, I didn't use a photo editing program to enrich the colors.

One of the minor challenges with using 35mm equipment is that it has a different aspect ratio than the standard TV/computer screen's 4:3 aspect ratio. That means that you always need to crop the picture. Generally, that isn't a problem. There are times, however, when I would really like to use the full frame. This is no problem for something that will be displayed on a web site, but is a big problem when you want to make wallpaper.

I wanted to keep the above image uncropped because I like the subtly different shade of red at the extreme right, and the brown at the left. They add to the picture and enrich it.

But the wallpaper version is cropped. It still works well, so I didn't try the trick that I ended up using in an image that I'll be sending later. (In other words, more to come)

To download the wallpaper versions of the images, right-click on the link, select [download link as] or [download link target as] (depending on your browser), and send it to the directory of your choice. I put my wallpaper right in the Windows directory to avoid active desktop issues, but you can put it anywhere you want.

Or, you can click on the link, wait for the image to load, then right-click on the image and select [save image as].

Friday, September 29, 2006

Back Again

Back Again

You see... it started with me just getting lazy. I was also doing some research for a story I was writing, but that shouldn't stop me. Some of the stuff I am reading is good, but some is horrid. It gives me a whole new appreciation for the pain that editors have to deal with when sorting through the 'slush pile'.

Anyhow, after doing some research, I sorted through my email and found an interesting message from ebay. Someone is asking where the heck his merchandise is.

Now, I had gone through that before. Back when we first moved up here, and were living in the cottage, someone called and was upset about some Macintosh merchandise that he had paid for but not received. I had actually never heard of the stuff. I gave them what information I could, offered to help them if possible, and kind of just hoped that they found the perpetrator. I got weird emails somewhat (more than a year) later, and tried to get all the injured parties in touch with each other. Nothing ever came back.

As near as I can figure, someone had hijacked an old ebay account I had set up but never used. I look at ebay on occasion, but never order anything. I really don't trust the thing.

So here we go again.

But this time, the email was sent from ebay itself through some kind of a feedback mechanism. Also, it came to an email account that I never use for commercial stuff. In fact, it's my lists account -- the account I use to receive all of my yahoo groups and other email list stuff. Hmmm... I had noticed that some of my lists traffic had stopped recently (I lagged on checking that, too), and figured that my email account had simply started bouncing emails. This prompts yahoo groups to cut everything off.

There was an icon on the ebay email for sending feedback, so I clicked it. The we site asked me for a user name and password. I clicked on the find user name and find password buttons, and the site dutifully sent them to my lists email address -- supposedly. Somehow, they never made it.

Curiouser and curiouser.

So, a quick check to my yahoo groups account showed me that my lists email address is now listed "ricochet" or "forward" or something like that, and I couldn't change it.

I went to the lists home and *ever stinking one* of my lists was gone. Clicking on the [find my lists] link didn't help. Some scumbag had hijacked my yahoo groups account and was used it to set up an ebay account.

The first thing I did was to disable the account as much as possible. I want to delete it, but haven't seen any [delete] button anywhere. Next, I deleted my lists email account and made another. Unfortunately, that new account won't send any email that isn't sent to another quixnet (or maybe covad) account. I still have to talk to technical support about that.

I still haven't signed up to all the lists. I'll get around to it, but it hasn't happened yet.

As I was goofing with all of that, my computer froze up. It has been doing that more and more lately. When it happens, I let it cool down and reboot. Then, it happens again. If I pull the heat sink off the processor, use a little oil to soften the six year old white silicone thermally conductive goop, and push it back up on to the chip, the computer behaves itself for a week or two.

Except now, it only behaves itself for a few hours.

Rather than fry my handy-dandy AMD Athlon 1000 MHz (true, not 'PR'), I decided to lay off the machine for a while.

I wanted to get some of the afore-mentioned goop at ratty-ol-shack over in Cadillac, but we got there too late. If it weren't for my trusty $50.00 (vintage) IBM Thinkpad P233 laptop loaded with some research material, I would have been going into some DTs by then.

Then I got sick. I didn't have the runny nose (much), bad stomach (much), or any of the other nasties associated with getting the flu (no, not the H5N1 bird flu), but it did totally kick my tail feathers and leave me with insufficient energy to do more than drag my tired carcass out of the bed to use the (thankfully close-by) facilities. During that time, Mary kindly purchased the afore-mentioned silicone base heat sink compound.

I managed to get enough energy in the middle of the day yesterday to apply the stuff liberally (and I hardly do anything liberally) to the little silicone wafer and reattach the heat sink. I had already oiled that noisy fan, so this thing is purring like a kitten. It looks like it's falling apart because I don't have the cover on it, and most of the CD/DVD drives are out of the bay, but it works.

After that, I goofed with my email and yahoo groups stuff more, checked out a backlog of web comics, and downloaded way too much email.

Of course, in the mean time, that horse of ours, I mean Mary's, managed to wrap her lead rope around her hoof. The girl really wanted to panic, but I firmly grabbed her halter and lead her toward the tree so that the rope could be loosened. Calm and firm does the trick in those situations -- hopefully. If it doesn't do the trick, nothing will. If you, as the human in charge, panic, the horse is sure to panic.

So back to the computer...

I pulled a bunch of fall pictures out of my archives and started resizing them for wallpaper and for the blog. I'll be teasing you all with them over the next few days. I wouldn't dream of just dumping them on you all at once.

OK, I might load the actual wallpaper over to photobucket, but I'm only going to post two or three a day on to the blog.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More Horse Play

I'm going to be lazy today and just send more pictures. I'm still doing some research type reading -- digging through the slush pile, as it were. This gives me a whole new appreciation for what editors go through.

I'm still only half-way through the entry that I mentioned a couple days ago. It's kind of difficult to write. It should be worth it, though.

The last roll of film I took contained some nice horse pictures (hence the title).

By the way, the vet told us that Sarah is not pregnant. Mary thinks that she may have been in heat, though. Maybe that's what got into her... [ahem], I mean, maybe that's what motivated her to run off like that. Maybe she smelled stallion in the air, and went searching for a boyfriend. I guess we'll know within a few months if she managed to find one.

I'm thinking of sizing some of my photos for use as desktop wallpaper. I have a few in mind that will work, but I'm open to requests. I'm not sure when I'll get it done, but I'll let everyone know when I get it set up.

As usual, you can use my photos for personal non-commercial use. Please copy them rather than linking, though. I don't want to have to start paying for bandwidth for someone else's site.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Today, we commemorate the fifth anniversary of a vile attack on America. Like most people, I remember what I was doing that day. Like most people, I remember hearing that a plane had crashed into a building, and considered the possibility that it was a deliberate attack. When the second plane crashed, all doubt was gone. We were at war.

I have seen the pictures, but I have never gone to ground zero. I remember hearing about the army of counselors that descended upon the city to help all the people who would never again see their husbands, wives, mothers, or fathers.

It was a particularly vile attack. It wasn't collateral damage from an attack on a military target. They purposely attacked unarmed civilians. They calculated the attack to cause maximum terror and outrage. 'Terrorist' is an apt name for our attackers.

Even if your cause is just, you lose a lot of your humanity and become just like those you despise when you resort to such tactics. They, of course, didn't even have the pretense of a just cause. They say that Allah wants them to do it, but if Allah is anything like the God of the universe that I know and love, they are sadly mistaken. When the suicide bombers head for their final reward expecting their flock of virgins, they are going to bitterly disappointed.

But what has happened during this past five years?

First of all, we started to pull together. I was never prouder of American and what she stands for than right after the 9/11 attacks. We became one in heart and soul and determination.

Alas, as I expected, it didn't last.

Or did it?

Yes, there are many nay-sayers. The liberal news media broadcasts its slant and loudly reports every mistake and mis-move that anyone involved makes -- that is, anyone who is on our side. The atrocities perpetrated by the enemy are reported, but most of them are glossed over.

If you talk to most Americans, they will tell you that they support our troops, pray for them, and thank them for doing their jobs. Some of the loud voices don't agree, but the vast majority of us are solidly behind our country and our fighting men.

Paul tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)

And so, the "don't resist" doctrine is dead. Hijackers are now aggressively attacked and subdued -- as the shoe bomber found out. The patriotism and love of country is still here -- not the fresh roaring flame that came right after the attack, but the hot and simmering coals that just won't die away with age. Big and small, this attack has brought out the best in some of us, and the worst in others.

To some extent, it has divided us. Or, it seems to have divided us. Actually, what it really did was to highlight the devision that was already there. Those who would placate the attackers, or who hate their own country have always been there. Now, they're easier to see.

The rest of us are pulling together. It's really hard to explain, but it's easy to see. It's a kind of spirit that is here -- a spirit of America that won't be quenched.

Bad has come of this, too. Some liberties have been taken in the name of security. That, however, is minor compared to the fear that is in the hearts of some people.

Is there fear in my heart? No way! Yes, I know that they are likely to strike again. Yes, I know that this is a new danger that didn't much exist back when I was a soldier during the cold war. The fear that existed back then was that someone would push the button, unleashing a nuclear barrage that would wipe out civilization.

Did you ever look up the mortality statistics of 2001? I did. Even if you lived in New York, you were more likely to die in a car wreck than in the attack.

We must never forget that it was an atrocity that needs to be answered, but we must also remember that they didn't do us damage that deserves fear. They tried their best to hurt us, but the attack is well down in the list. If you want to extend your life expectancy, you are better off putting on your seatbelt than staying away from terrorism targets.

So we can despise what they did, but fear is way out of line. We are Americans, not little mice that should tremble in the corner. They gave it their best shot, and we all but wiped out their organization. Those that remain are the ones trembling in fear and hiding like mice.

It is good to remember that as we pray for the families of the fallen, pray for our troops, and pray that the wisdom of God will come upon our people and our leaders.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Gratuitous Pictures

It has been an eventful week.

Since I am about half way through a particularly difficult entry, I'll just put up some gratuitous pictures tonight.

I already have several photos prepared, so I decided that the best ones to use for now are the ones that I took at the state park that is in Manistee, Michigan. It's a nice sandy beach right on Lake Michigan.