Thursday, April 30, 2009

Look What I Found!

(with apologies to Julie.)

I've been promising since Christmas or so that I would dig up the title for my mom's 1984 Chrysler New Yorker, so that I could have it hauled away as a donation to some charity or other, and get it the heck out of the driveway. I'm not fond of hunting through boxes, though, so I kept putting it off until tonight. I knew it was in either a file box or an accordion file, so a little while ago I grabbed one of the file boxes on my shelves, opened it and took a look.

It wasn't the right box. Not remotely. But I'm very glad I opened that green file box.

Hidden inside were my AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) books and lead figures from circa 1979, which I hadn't seen for years. I think I looked for them when D&D co-creator Gary Gygax died, to no avail. Tonight I felt a rush of nostalgia at the sight of them, these books that figured in on many happy all night sessions with friends back in college, and during a short period in Columbus Ohio in the early 1980s. But the joy of this rediscovery was nothing compared to the delight that came over me when I spotted a brightly-colored piece of paper, sitting loose inside a sheet protector. Here it is:

This was not the very first map of Mâvarin, but it's very early, probably from 1975. It was my master map for years. I think this is the one I paid my next door neighbor, artist Sue Keeter, to draw. The handwriting, however, is mine. I've been looking for this particular sheet of paper for about a decade.

It's totally out of date, of course, and completely unusable. Unable to find any of my Mâvarin maps when I wrote the bulk of Mages of Mâvarin from 1999 to 2002, I made up new place names and arranged geography from memory and for the convenience of the story. That has to be the official version of where things are now, and the way I envisioned it at age 17 must give way. But I've still glad to have the map back.

The second box I opened was full of my mom's papers. The fact that one folder was labeled "Rent" was a dead giveaway. She signed over the car to us a few years before she died, so the title wasn't in this particular box.

The third file box contained our personal financial records from a time when I still worked at Worldwide Travel. Nothing wrong with that, but it's probably close to the seven year retention date.

The fourth file box and the black accordion file were both empty, except for unused folders in the former. I bought them to organized papers from 2008-9, but haven;t yet done so.

The fifth file box wasn't financials at all, bit old writing, or possibly old fanzine stuff. I'm not 100% sure what it is, because it's the heavy, full metal box with the missing hangle that I recognize as being at least 20 years old. Also, it was in a corner of my office where the night doesn't reach, and it's filled to bursting with old, heavy manila folders full of 8 1/2x11" papers.

There should be at least one more file box, and at least two more accordion files, but they're hiding from me. But in looking for them, I've just found something else that's been missing for years. It's a slim, white three-ring binder, with a somewhat ratty sheet of blue paper slipped in the clear front pocket, on which is handwritten a single word: AUTOGRAPHS.

Harry Chapin and Jose Ferrer

I'm not a huge collector of celebrity signatures, but inside this little binder are quite a few of them, some of which I don't remember having found to put safely in the binder. There's a Polaroid photo of Harry Chapin from 1976 or 1977, with his autograph on the back. There are a handful of signed programs from the Famous Artists Playhouse from the summers of 1972 and 1973, when my brother Steve and I served as ushers. There are letters from Harlan Ellison, Damon Knight, Madeleine L'Engle, Dick Giordano and Ellis Weiner, the latter in response to my fan letter about his excellent novelization of the Howard the Duck film. There's a signed program from the play I Love My Wife, from a time when the Smothers Brothers gave up their comedy act and yet still couldn't seem to get along without each other professionally. There are signed photos of various actors from Quantum Leap and Doctor Who and even Buffy.

Perhaps the most exciting bit of paper in there, at least for me, is a signed contract for a jazz band to play a gig at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on "the 26th day of July, 1960." Although I do have at least one CD of this band, the Firehouse Five Plus Two, I don't care for their music much. But that's not the point. The contract is signed by the bandleader, Ward Kimball, and that's the reason I bought it on eBay from Archives of History nearly a decade ago. Who was Ward Kimball, or as John and I jokingly call him sometimes, Lord Kimboat? He was one of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, the legendary animators behind all the classic Disney animated features from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through The Jungle Book. Ward Kimball was also the main person behind the three Man in Space episodes of the Disney anthology tv series. He shared Walt's fascination with trains, and was generally a rather interesting guy.

Beneath Kimball's signature as bandleader is a signature from the band's booking agent. Archives of History made no claim about this second autograph, but I've had a theory about it ever since I first saw it on eBay. Tonight I finally compared it with a known autograph online. I was right. The Firehouse Five Plus Two's "booking agent" for the purposes of this contract was in fact another of the band members, another of the Nine Old Men as well: none other than one of the most important animators of all time, Frank Thomas.

But I still haven't found that automobile title!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

EMPS: More Municipal Madness

Tuesday afternoon for Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #35: Government Buildings, I showed you an interesting modern building in which the City of Tucson houses (part of) Tucson Water and a police substation. It's at the end of Randolph Park, which is adjacent to Reid Park. Together with an historic Tucson neighborhood I've love to live in, the two parks form a mostly-green oasis in the middle of the city. And as you know if you read this blog regularly, Reid Park is also the site of two urban lakes, a few rather wonderful art installations, a rose garden, my dogs' beloved Miko's Corner Playground dog park, and other attractions, including the buildings I'm about to show you.

One of the buildings of Reid Park Zoo. Wonder what it's like inside? So do I.
From the Picasa album Tucson Modern

I'm not 100% sure this first one even qualifies as a building. Certainly the ciderblock(?) walls are buildingesque, and there may be a real roof over a few storage rooms or somesuch. But the most prominent feature is this huge, white, tent-like ramada. (A ramada is a roof without walls, commonly used in sunny climes to provide shade but leave the structure otherwise open to fresh outside air.) I'm thinking this may be an aviary, but I don't really know. Someday when money is less of an issue, I'll pay my admission and find out!

Another mysterious zoo buiding.

This building is next to the "Big Top" one. It definitely has a modern, um, slant!

Ths "Big Top" as seen from one of the duck ponds at dusk.

I took these photos and the Hardesty building ones on Monday, sometime after 6 PM. I left the car parked at the zoo and walked the dogs past the duck pond and the rose garden (the gate to which was closing, for it was sunset) to the dog park. Afterward we walked back the way we'd come, more or less, back to the car at the other end of the park.

The zoo buildings at dusk have a different quality to them as the lights come on, sort of pretty and peaceful instead of just odd and deserted.

I wasn't quite ready to leave Reid Park, even then. I headed north from the zoo buildings, passing this practice field, where some sort of actual baseball was actually talking place. Taking pictures at dusk on the automatic setting, with no flash and no tripod, gave the images a slightly dark and grainy quality that for once I really liked.

Hi Corbett Field at dusk, post-Rockies and pre-Toros.

And here we are at my favorite government-owned building in all of Tucson: Hi Corbett Field, spring training home of the Colorado Rockies and once and future home of the Tucson Toros.

By late May, this place won't be deserted at dusk!

The reconstituted, no-longer-AAA Toros begin play on May 21st, two days after John and I celebrate 30 years of marriage. And we'll be there!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

EMPS: Tucson Modern

For Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #35: Government Buildings, Carly is asking to see both government buildings found locally and and any interesting surrounding features. In the past I've showed you mostly older government buildings downtown, ranging from the historic rail depot to the beautifully tiled old Pima County Courthouse.

From Tucson Modern

But for this shoot, I thought immediately of this rather bizarre modern building, built in 2003. This is the Patrick K. Hardesty Midtown Multi-Service Center, a partially solar-powered building at 22nd and Alvernon in Tucson, AZ. The building is named for a fallen police officer, and houses a police substation as well as Tucson Water.

I passed this building every day as if was being built, on my way to work at Worldwide Travel. It replaced a mostly-empty lot, which had been a recycling drop-off and had also been the site of rallies, parades, and small gatherings of homeless people. These days I still pass it every day, because it's just over a mile from the dog park.

It's a very odd-looking building, and pretty much impossible to photograph all at once. Bits of it remind me of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, but I suppose it's really industrial modern.

There was a kid riding a scooter around the property as I photographed it, and I did not completely avoid photographing him; he's in two of my shots, in the distance (and I smudged his tiny image for further privacy). After that he came up to me and asked what I was photographing.

"The building, basically," I said.


"It's a really interesting-looking building, and I've been driving past it for years," I told him. "I thought it would be fun to photograph."

"But you can't photograph the whole building," he said.

"No, but I got a bunch of nice pictures of bits of it from different angles," I said.

"Do you like the building?"

That's a question I've been asking myself for years. "I can't decide if I like it or not," I told him. "I like the shape of it. I just don't like the colors, all that reddish brown."

"It doesn't go with the park, does it?" he said.

"No, it doesn't," I agreed.

The building is adjacent to Randolph Park, and the Reid Park / Randolph Park jogging track goes past the north end of it.

There is a minimal but rather nice bit of desert landscaping next to the street (Alvernon). Across the street is a rather colorful gas station.

The dogs were only minimally interested in the property, but they're pretty much always patient with my explorations. From here we went on to another, very different government-owned building - but I'll save that for my next entry.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part three

This is the final entry in my photo essay series about a recent trip up Catalina Highway into the Santa Catalina Mountains, originally intended for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot: Earth Day. We've already covered highlights from my photos of the portion of the trip from Babad Do'ag Vista to Windy Point. Here are some shots from the few stops I made after that.

From the Picasa album Mount Lemmon Highway

Here is San Pedro Vista, which looks down on the San Pedro River valley and east toward New Mexico. I've photographed it a number of times over the years. I'm not sure when the tree on the left burned, but it's been at least since the Aspen Fire of June 2003, probably longer.

San Pedro Vista again. The mountain crag on the right is a popular launching point for falcons, common blackhawks and other raptors. At least, it was in the 1980s. I haven't seen a hawk, a falcon or an eagle there in years. That could be the result of my not visiting at the right time of day, however. Hope so, anyway!

Pepper decided at one point to put her front paws on the wall at San Pedro Vista for a better look at whatever it was I what photographing. I encouraged her to repeat the action for my camera.

When I tried to get Cayenne to do the same thing, she was a little unclear on the concept! Don't worry - she never got far enough out on the wall to be in any danger. I had hold of her leash the whole time and quickly got her down again. In any case, there is a short distance of relatively flat ground beyond the wall before you get to the edge of the cliff.

This is Geology Vista. In theory you can see a copper smelter off in the distance, but the sky wasn't really clear enough for that on this particular late afternoon.

I'm not quite sure where this rock formation is, but it reminds me of a Norman castle.

This is a picnic ground at Bear Wallow or Bear Canyon or Bear Something. The sign just said "Middle Bear," but it was the middle of three parking areas, and I remember it being labeled differently in years past. On the way up, I read the words "Closed To All Use" and thought the whole area was closed because of recent bear encounters. (Yes, they happen from time to time.) But it turns out that it's just closed at night, when the bears are probably more active, or at least harder to see. There are at least three camping sites in the Catalinas, but this isn't one of them. It was at one time, apparently, but isn't now.

That's it for this particular trip up Mount Lemmon. I hope you enjoyed taking the virtual tour with me!


See also

EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part one,

EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part two

EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part two

In EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part one, I showed you the first several stops on my drive up Mount Lemmon on Catalina Highway (aka the Sky Island Scenic Byway) on Monday afternoon. I made the trip partly to gather photos for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot: Earth Day, and partly just to get away from the computer for a while. For tonight's entry I was going to cover Windy Point and San Pedro Vistas and maybe Geology Vista, after which I turned around well short of my goal, the formerly fire-ravaged village of Summerhaven. But looking at the pictures I just uploaded to Picasa, I think I'll stretch this out for one more entry, and mostly stick to Windy Point for now.

This rock formation is a frequently-photographed feature at Windy Point.
From the Picasa album Mount Lemmon Highway

This is what Tucsonans probably remember first when they think of Windy Point Vista. I don't know whether it has a name, but it rises behind the parking lot at Windy Point, on the side of the road that's away from the view of the mountains and valley below. When we first came to town, I had a secondhand Canon AE-1 and several decent lenses for it. I used to drive up the mountain and try to photograph hummingbirds and juncos and other birds, and sometimes landscapes. My photo of the Windy Point rock tower was one of my submissions to the monthly photo contests at the local Kit's Camera. I don't think it won more than an honorable mention, but a couple other submissions took first and third places.

A vista from Windy Point

That rocky tower isn't the only point of interest, though. Check out the view! The elevation here is 6,600 feet.

Across from the parking lot is a sidewalk with a recently-constructed wall on both sides. Beyond one wall is the road, on which cars and motorcycles sometimes go by at 35 mph or more despite the twists and turns and the sign warning about Windy Point being a congested area. Beyond the other wall, equally dangerous, is a steep terrain of rocks and trees. It's not an immediate drop-off, however.

From Windy Point you can also see a bit of the road you were just on, far, far below.

Didn't I just say the rocky terrain was dangerous? If you climb the steps to a lookout point of flat boulders, you can just make out this memorial cross, about fifty feet out and thirty feet down. Sometimes rock climbers can be seen going up and down near Windy Point, but it's not something I'd ever attempt!

Here's another view of the road from above. I think this may be a little past Windy Point, but I don't recall for sure.

One more part this this series will be posted on Sunday - I promise! Then again, it's technically Sunday already. I know my posting has been a bit erratic this week, but I just finished reading the Harry Potter novels, and may possibly be getting back in the swing of things now. On the other hand, I'm just starting my next CPA review section, and don't know how daunting or time-consuming that will be. It may be that my never-miss-a-day blogging will continue to falter occasionally. But don't worry; I'll be here, and eventually I'll even catch up on my delinquent blog-jogging - I hope!


Friday, April 24, 2009

F&FFF: The Naked Beast

For Feline and Furballs with Feathers Friday:

From Trouble Dogs

John and I always say that without one or both of the bandannas around her neck, Cayenne looks like a different dog. Early this week - Tuesday night, I think - I threw the two bandannas in the washer. They came out of the dryer looking much cleaner and brighter, having previously been coated with lots of mud and dust from the dog park. I didn't put them back on Cayenne right away, partly out of laziness, but mostly out of curiosity. I wanted to see whether people at the dog park would react to her scarf-free appearance, and whether you folks, upon seeing photos of her looking naked without the bits of colored cloth, would agree with us that she looks like a different dog. Take a look:

Align Center

Nobody said a word about Cayenne's lack of a bandanna, but this may be because they were hardly any park regulars present that evening to notice.

Cayenne herself, of course, doesn't mind going without. She sometimes ditches one or both bandannas, shaking them off or backing out of them when they get loose. But we put them on again. Unlike Pepper, who is definitely not a bandanna dog, Cayenne looks much better with a bandanna than without, and even better with two than with one. (We haven't added a third one; that would be silly.) Without that bit of color around her neck, Cayenne is much less distinctive-looking, and frankly much less cute. Don't ya think?

That other entry I should have posted on Thursday will follow later today.


Weekend Assignment #264: Environmental Awareness

Hi, folks! Part Two of my trip up the Sky Island Byway, aka Catalina Highway, aka Mount Lemmon, will be posted later today. First, let's get on with the Weekend Assignment:

Weekend Assignment #264:A lot has changed since 1970, when the first Earth Day took place and had an unexpectedly large impact. In the current, uh, climate of global warming, eco-friendly marketing and recent attempts to gut environmental protections, how much of an effort do you make in your daily routine to help protect the environment?

Extra Credit:Do you observe Earth Day in any way? If so, how?

We just had another Earth Day, obviously. I remember its very first observance in 1970, when I was young and impressionable, and the new holiday was a big deal. I was 13 years old and in seventh grade. We had an environmental science fair at school, and my contribution was two fish tanks. One had a pearl gourami in it named Pearl, chosen because it frequently chased other fish and I wanted to punish it for being so "mean." The other had water mixed with laundry detergent, all that stuff with phosphates and enzymes that was supposed to be so bad for the environment. On Earth Day itself I went to the woods by the frog pond and the disused railroad tracks, and collected a large bag full of empty cans. I took these home and used them to spell out the work "JOIN" on the front lawn. Then I cleaned them up again.

By the time I was in high school, my dad and I were recycling. I've tried to continue ever since, with varying degrees of success depending on the resources available at the time. I used to collect boxes of white paper and boxes of colored paper at Worldwide Travel, and every few months haul them to a photocopy store that took paper for recycling. Then they stopped doing that, but the city had a recycling center by then, with a bin for paper. Then they started mixing all their recycled goods in the same bin, and I was never quite sure after that what they really recycled and what they threw away. These days we have a small recycle bin under the kitchen counter, and a big blue one outside that gets emptied on Fridays. Lots and lots of stuff goes in there, including a few things I'm not sure they take. Still, we follow the city's directions on the subject as best we can, and I even carry stuff home from work (when I work!) or elsewhere to go in the big blue bin.

But you know what? I'm not so good on other stuff. My car isn't an SUV, but I do use a fair amount of gas, just going to the dog park each day. I just guiltily turned off an extra light in the kitchen, and it's not unusual for our tv to show a paused DVD all night long. We try not to overdo the A/C, but I have far less tolerance for heat than John, not to mention the allergens that come in through the windows he likes to open. So yes, I try, but not perhaps hard enough.

As for Earth Day this year, I sort of celebrated it early, going partway up the mountain on Monday afternoon for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot. When Earth Day actually came, I posted Part One of my EMPS entry, and then went to St. Michael's to prepare the weekly deposit as usual. Shortly after I started, Father Smith made a brief appearance, and told me he was about to go take part in an Earth Day observance.

"Cool," I said, and kept working.

A few minutes after that, the phone in the workroom, which I had not noticed before, was activated as part of an internal PA system. A voice I didn't recognize invited the entire St. Michael's community (i.e., anyone from the church or school who happened to be around and not too busy) to attend an Earth Day ceremony at 3:30 in the Sunken Garden. I was tempted, but there I was with a stack of the church's cash, and limited time to get the deposit done if I wanted to finished before the parish secretary left for the day. I kept working.

How about you? Are environmental concerns something you pay attention to on a daily basis, or is it something you think about for five minutes each April, or something in between? Tell us about it in your blog. Be sure to leave a link to this blog in your entry, and a link to your entry in the comments below. I'll be back in a week with the results. Meanwhile...

For Weekend Assignment #263: Predict the Future!, I asked you to make from one to three predictions about the rest of 2009. Three of you responded:

Julie said...

So, I'm going to shuffle up the cards (The Fool is on top right now, which suggests something), deal out a few, and give you my interpretation of each. And just to make things interesting, the text on the cards is in French, so I can't guarantee I'll get it all right....

Florinda said...

I'll crawl out onto that limb...but I'm a bit afraid of heights, so I'm picking one that's only a few feet off the ground, and hoping that it won't hurt as badly if I fall off. But I'm hedging my bets - no tree-related pun intended - by not predicting anything that's likely to have a dramatic impact on my own day-to-day life. Prediction #1, still staying close to the trunk of the tree: The Dodgers will finish the season somewhere between first and fifth place in the NL West.

Mike said...

First, in sports the Blackhawks will win the Stanley Cup, The Bulls will win the NBA Championship, the Cubs and White Sox will be in the World Series together and the Cubs will win. Hey, the White Sox won just a few years ago. Then, after all the fires have been put out around the city, the IOC will determine that Chicago can't handle a major sporting event, so they decide to have the 2016 Summer Games in Des Moines, Iowa.

I'm still dangerously low on "guest professor" suggestions for these Weekend Assignments, so I ask again: please, please, please, PLEASE email me some new ones. I warn you, I will continue adding another please to the previous sentence each week until someone suggests something. Save us from the invasion of the pleases!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part one

As promised, I drove up Mount Lemmon Highway on Monday afternoon to gather photos for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot: Earth Day, and also just to get away from the computer for a while. I'm going to show you the results in two parts. This morning's entry covers the drive from the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains up to Babad Do'ag Vista, Molina Canyon Overlook and Seven Cataracts Vista. Next time we'll cover Windy Point and San Pedro Vistas, and perhaps a few surprises.

The view from Babad Do'ag

The 27-mile road (or something like that; depends on what you choose as the end points) up Mount Lemmon has another, fancier designation these days, the Sky Island Scenic Byway. The concept is this: each elevation has its own habitat, isolated from surrounding ones and rising as high as almost 9000 feet above sea level, more than a mile above the desert floor where Tucson is located.

Sagauros at Babad Do'ag Vista mark a typical Sonoran Desert habitat.
From Mount Lemmon Highway

First stop is Babad Do'ag, which is Tohono O'odham for Frog Mountain. I've photographed this place before, breaking in my first Canon digital in 2005 with some sunset shots, and later for at least two Round Robin topics. It's only 2.6 miles miles up from the beginning of the byway, which makes it rather handy. It features a good stand of giant saguaros, the huge, iconic cactus native to the Sonoran Desert. Here, too, you can look down at the valley below, toward a part of the city that looks remarkably green.

Next stop, just before the fee station, which was closed, is the Molina Canyon Overlook. This is almost a trailhead, with a more extensive network of improved paths, some of them paved, than last time I was here. Here we start to leave the saguaros behind and move into the grassland that comes in at this elevation.

My intrepid canine explorers.

Oh, did I mention that I brought the dogs along?

A little farther on is Seven Cataracts Vista. This is the wrong time of year to see much flowing water, but I think there's a little bit in the distance there.

I also managed to photograph this mildly cheeky rock wren.

John was positively jealous when I told him I'd made a 2-hour drive partway up the mountains; he reckons I should be more productive around the house while I'm unemployed, not larking about. But sometimes I need to get away from the house and the daily routine. For a truly restorative rut-breaker, nothing beats a drive into the Catalina Mountains, where there is more natural beauty than can be captured in a thousand photo shoots.


See also:

EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part two

EMPS: Islands in the Sky, part three

and from April 2005:

Diary of a Day Trip, Part One

Diary of a Day Trip: Mount Lemmon, Part Two

Diary of a Day Trip: Mount Lemmon, Part Three

Diary of a Day Trip: Mount Lemmon, Part Four

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Personal Plagiarist

I've already mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter, and I don't really want to do a full-length rant. But I'm angry, and a Tweet and a status message are insufficient to relieve my frustration.

Remember last fall, when someone alerted me that a guy pseudonymed Wilfred John had mangled and reposted a poem of mine in mutiple places? I wrote about it here:

Laughing, Spinning Changing Lies

Well, guess what. After considerable effort, I managed to get a DMCA takedown of the offending posts on a couple of websites, and a less formal takedown elsewhere. Now it turns out that his version of my poem is still elsewhere on, on a Yahoo 360 page, and even on Blogger!


The person who alerted me of these latter-day offenses is battling to stop them. Myself, I'm feeling a little battle-weary. Apparently Blogger isn't terribly concerned about this sort of thing, and even if we get these particular postings removed, odds are he'll just find more venues. What I need is a way to stop the behavior, not each individual posting after the fact. Any ideas?


More about this guy from Dean J. Baker (thanks, Julie!):


Watch This Space!

I'm going out now. I may be gone for some time.

Oh, it's not as ominous as all that. But recently I've found it way too easy the spend all day and all night starting at my laptop and whatever book or magazine I'm reading at the time. If it weren't for church, the dog park, photo shoots and the need to buy food, I wouldn't be leaving the house at all. and that's no good.

It's a photo shoot that drives me from my computer now. Carly wants fresh photos of nature for an Earth Day topic on the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot, and I'm glad to oblige. By this evening there should be at least one photo from that on this entry, with the EMPS entry following shortly thereafter.

That's assuming I can wrench - myself - away - from - this - computer!


Later: I was busy all night with other things, including computer problems, and haven't had time to do my EMPS entry. But yes, I did get to Mount Lemmon, and even took the dogs along. I have a seminar at church later this morning on Web 2.0 and religion, but I should be able to get to it after that. See you then!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Leftovers, Again?

I foolishly stayed up to finish rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tonight, having finished my Auditing and Attestation course section a little after midnight. I'd planned to make the rounds of the Robins and do some maintenance on the Round Robin blog, but there it is: my mania for finishing a book, even if I've read it before, has won again.

So now I must sleep, but rather than leave you with no blog entry I'm cobbling this one together, part explanation, part a leftover photo from two weeks ago. This was the only item at the toy show on Pam Sunday that I bothered to photograph. I wonder how many of you know exactly what it is on sight. Do you recognize that figure from your own childhood, or even teens or young adulthood? Or do you merely deduce who he must be, or read it on the hang tag, having grown up long after the assassination of the man this doll depicts?

And where can I get an Obama doll?


Saturday, April 18, 2009

RRPC: Hard to Catch 'Em in Flight!

Hi, folks! This week's Round Robin Photo Challenge: In Flight comes to us from Carly, and is self-explanatory. That doesn't mean it's easy, though! I've been looking for photographic opportunities on this for two weeks, which is unusual for me. Until this evening I thought I was going to have to go with archive photos, probably of a past air show. But around sunset tonight at Reid Park, I finally managed to get something, if not actually good, at least in-frame and on-topic. Let's start with two attempts from before today, and then we'll move on to the most recent Reid Park shoot.

I took three photos in fairly rapid succession on the late afternoon of April 5th, hoping to catch this hummingbird before it flew away. In two of these shots I didn't manage to capture the bird at all, and after the third attempt it flew away. No surprise: I was operating under my usual disadvantage, trying to photograph birds and hang onto Cayenne and Pepper's leashes at the same time!

I know you can't tell, but this is a FedEx plane. I've seen them on the ground lots of times, but don't remember seeing one in flight before. I was at a traffic light at the time, at 22nd and Craycroft I think. By the time I grabbed the camera and turned it on, the plane was no longer in front of me but obscured by a tree off the passenger side window. And oh, yeah - the light had changed.

This shot is a bit off topic and technically less than wonderful, but it's too cool not to show you. Remember the Black-crowned Night Heron I photographed during the Desperado Duck adventure? This may or may not be the same bird, in a tree not far from the dock where I photographed it before. The surprising part is that it had a large fish in its mouth. Sure, we know herons eat fish, but it's not often I get to see the actual fish!

By the time I moved to photograph the bird at a different angle so it was no longer backlit, it had swallowed the fish whole. It was one fat and happy bird!

At the other end of the "urban lake" (duck pond), two more Black-crowned Night Herons and a Great Egret were hanging out near one another. I led the dogs near them but not too close, hoping to catch them flying without actually provoking them to do so. Here are the best of the in-flight results:

Critiquing myself, I think I made three mistakes in this shoot. One, I was late in the day, and so there wasn't enough daylight left to adequately handle this kind of action shot. Two, I didn't charge the batteries before going out, and the camera started complaining about this. Three, I should probably exercise more patience and do less multitasking on this sort of thing, taking my time to get the right shot, and not trying to entertain the dogs at the same time. I don't know, though; it seems silly to go all the way out to Reid Park twice, once to take photos and once to do the dog park thing. And the dogs are my companions on these shoots, even if they do get in the way and don't understand what I'm trying to do!

From Round Robin Photo Challenges

Here's the most interesting of the Great Egret shots. The camera had no time to determine the proper exposure for the shot; I had to darken the resulting image considerably just to find the bird in it! But I like the way the egret's wings are almost abstract in appearance as they mark the boundary between light and darkness.

Now let's see what the other Robins caught "In Flight!"

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