28 October 2008

Stillrich Wedding

Robyn and I, as "PhotoNorth" (we have a logo, business cards, and talent) shot the wedding of a former co-worker of mine this past weekend, in Boonsboro.
The weather was rainy which disappointed me because I had hopes of getting some posed shots out doors, since South Mountain is RIGHT THERE, and what with it being the end of October and all the leaves are turning. No dice. Just as well. The interior of Trinity Lutheran is a joy to shoot in; the white walls and roof of the Sanctuary bounce the light wonderfully, making for a much easier time with the posed shots than I'd had shooting my sister's wedding back in July. Christ's Reformed in Hagerstown has a Sanctuary that eats photons like they're marmalade.
Marmalade.
The reception was at the American Legion in ... you guessed it, Boonsboro. Another building I hadn't yet been in, but another great location for shooting, with the light colored walls and drop-ceiling doing a lot of the reflecting work for me. Rooms like that always give a nice glow to the subject. They almost feel hyper-real to me when I'm looking at the photos later.
The bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, and the parents were proud. It was a good wedding and a good reception. I'll share a few pictures here after I've finished my processing.
Robyn and I were both wiped when 830pm finally rolled around, but I know I'm ready for another gig already.
Now then, to drum up some business.

20 October 2008

Musing on the Electric Auto

I'm no hippie, and at the same time, I'm no car guy. I like cars. I like things that go "vroom" or "zoom" or "mwaaaaaaa-mwaaaaaah-mwaaaaahhhhhh", and even more so when they go fast. Or more accurately, when I am going fast in them. Ask the MVA, they have records.
There's been a lot of discussion regarding an Electric Vehicle (EV) as of late, especially as oil began its electric slide up to $147/barrel (boogie-woogie-what the *&^%?). There have been nerd writings on the Internet related to EVs (mostly solar, in my experience) for years, but the crude climb up the futures chart (with a bullet) brought EVs (back? I was busy not having been born / in diapers during the last energy crisis) to the fore of the collective consumer conscience.
The nerd and the miser in me both like the idea of the EV. It appeals to my aesthetic sense for some reason, tugs at the part of my soul that just knew he'd be going to space when he grew up. The nerd likes the convergence of technologies, the paradigm shift that represents a break with the past into some brave new world of plug-in filling stations rather than gas stations. A world where people have their newspapers downloaded onto re-usable flexible plastic screens and power is beamed to earth from satellites that bask in the sun's rays continuously. The miser likes that city electric is subsidized, and therefore would result in a net savings over stopping off at Bob's to fill up twice a week. Even people who don't use cars use electricity (save most of the Amish, I gather), so I can never see electric more expensive per unit that gas.
Plus, from what I've been reading, EVs go fast.
One day, 2 years ago or so, I was cruising these Internets and found my first EV crush, if you will. an EV Mini Cooper Concept:


I've thought Minis were pretty cool for some time, and I've never seen The Italian Job (is it worth it?). I imagine the regular gas powered Mini corners like a beast, and this EV concept has a motor in each wheel. It reads like a recipe for another trip to Traffic School for Rob. This little guy, though, was just a concept by an interested enthusiast, not Cooper (BMW). Ah well. Maybe, given the popularity of the Tesla, and the swirling storm of consumer desire for an EV, Cooper would take notice and deliver an EV? They have.



The Engadget tech-blog has been posting spy shots of the Mini test-EV for a few weeks now, and Cooper have finally officially announced the Mini E. For 500 test drivers in Jersey, New York, and CA. 3 places that the Mrs. and I have pondered residing at some point in recent years. Where we likely won't be living when the people who get to test this car will be chosen.
$#!^.
I'm living on the edge of one of the country's worst (busiest) traffic systems, the Baltimore-Washington Corridor. I commute 20+ miles one way daily in a combination of highway and city driving, and make regular trips into either of the aforementioned cities, usually by car (well, DC usually by Metro, but I still drive to the Metro station!). I've been dying to test drive a Mini and test drive an EV. I think that I should be given the honor of testing the Mini E outside the closed environs of NJ, NY, or CA. I even drive my co-workers to lunch on a regular basis.

"This is a nice car," they'll say.
"It's the Mini E by Cooper/BMW," I'll respond. "I am saving money and helping the environment in style!"
Let me be your man in MD, Cooper. I mean, if you want me to be more in touch with Bavaria, I'll gladly visit the Stube more often. I can always do with a litre of lager and a plate of wiener schnitzel! But no lager if I'm driving my Mini E. That would be irresponsible.

18 October 2008

Joe's Homage

I'm sitting here working on school work, with NPR streaming (Weekend America), and they're ending a story about this guy's garage, and what do they end the piece with?
Joe's Garage!
It's rare I catch Frank's work out in the wild, but a moment worth sharing when I do.
No clue what I'm talking about? Google the tune, and thank me later.

17 October 2008

Caffeine Base Here: The Coffee Has Landed

We all know I love coffee, if this is something new to you, click the linky bit back there that says 'I love coffee'. It's rich and dark and warm and fills you with energy AND it's been shown to fight disease (google for the Italian research on it). I love it so much that I don't even milk-up my espresso anymore in mornings, it's a 4-shot americano for me.
My title is about more than the elevatory effects of God's Beverage (it's beans and water, it's natural!). Anyone who's known me for more than 2 hours knows that a dream of mine is to be an astronaut. When it comes down to it, there have been 2 things really keeping me from going after this dream:
  1. I hate cramped spaces
  2. the coffee in space is crap
One down, my friends! From the Universe Today post:

"Franklin Chang-Diaz, a veteran NASA astronaut who spent a lot of time on the International Space Station (ISS), knows all too well the taste of really bad microwaved space coffee. So, in an effort to make life a little better for the current astronauts in orbit, Chang has asked two engineering students to design a machine that can percolate fresh-ground coffee in space…"

They've done just that. The process is apparently secret, but I can think of a few ways that might work, like sealing the coffee and the hot water in a bladder and swishing them around by manipulating the bladder (like a balloon - and then something bad happens!), then you squeeze/suction the now delicious coffee out of the bladder (BLADDER) , through a filter, and into your Astro-CapriSun Coffee cup.
Given my track record for developing apparati and solutions to problems that are more complex than need be, there's likely a much simpler solution, but I think that would work.
Time to run, I have coffee to drink.

14 October 2008

A - lust - inum

Lust.
I'm joining likely millions of others out there in the noo-blog-o-web-o-tubesphere-net in expressing my lust for the new Macbook just announced by Apple. They've also announced a really cool 24" Apple cinema display that I'd love to have, but we must think realistically, my friends.
Oh how I long to use one. Might be time for a pilgrammage.

09 October 2008

You got your Batman in my Lego(s)!


It might not be readily apparent to my readers, but Batman is my favorite superhero; not much of a stretch when you think about my BA and how he's the most psychologically, uhm, "freaking nuts" of superheros. Deadpool aside, I suppose, but that's another argument.
You will be familiar, however, with the Lego love (Hello weblegos). So when I saw that there was a Lego Batman game coming out (in the same vein as the Lego Star Wars games that have been so popular), I began to seriously consider breaking down and buying a game console. Because we're just not that big into video games (GASP). Though I am salivating over the hopefully pending release of Starcraft II (yet another weblog post).
My dreams were all answered for me when a certain wonderful pal who is my prime motivator when it comes to giving in to my dark side (Ray) presented me with his used PS2 and a fresh copy of Lego Batman for my birthday. The Mrs. and I were leaving for NYC that evening, so Batman had to wait.
A few days went by, and I found myself at home, alone with the dogs, on a Saturday morning where I should have been doing school work. The siren song of the PS2 called to me; I hooked it up to the TV, and put in Lego Batman.
Cursed for the lack of a memory card, I've had to replay the first level twice, and what will be for a third time when I get the memory card. This is ok. This is good, because it's helping me to get my reflexes back in order, and by the time I complete that inaugural for the third time, I should be able to just about clean it out.
I'm excited about this game, it's a lot of fun. Sure, it's fairly juvenile, too, but it's exactly what I need. There aren't any lengthy inventories to keep track of, no fiendishly over-wrought plot, and the music isn't a series of 30 second loops that get in the way of enjoying the game, like some other games I've sat through other people playing (Dragon Quest, Any Final Fantasy game, those other games like that; you know, those).
It's music is the Elfman soundtrack, it's visuals are reminiscent of the animated series, the back stories are from the comics (hey Tim Drake Robin, what's up), but the characters are definitely lego-shaped and the whole thing has an elementary school approach to the violence, which I like. It's uncomplicated.
If you take yourself and everything you do super-seriously, then don't worry about Lego Batman. If you like fun, Legos, or Batman, and own a PS2/Wii/PC/XBox/(but not on Mac - grr), then pick it up. Maybe I'll even let you be Robin - but you have to bring your own controller over.

04 October 2008

Wall St, Main St, F#$% YOU ST!

I'm as concerned as the next moderately well-read, intelligent, paying attention guy about the state of the economy, and my informed opinion is that the recently passed law authorizing the Feds to purchase up to $700 billion in stinky mortgages (which hopefully like fine cheese will age well), but sweet Lord in Heaven, I was about to tear my radio out of its mount and heave it onto the shoulder of Route 40 on my way home from work yesterday if I had to listen to one more politician mention Wall St. vs Main St.
I get it. We all get it. Booger-eating 2 year olds with a penchant for pants-wetting and Elmo get it at this point. WS v MS is a amazingly good short hand that allows a politician to say he's a man of the people (BS, I want to get elected to office for one term as a personal economic investment as much as a chance to get my opportunity to participate in the wheels of the Republic, and there are no poor policitians). But ENOUGH already. Move on. Find a new catch phrase. This one is already destined to be the bolded header in the text books for when they are discussing this era. Third subsection in the 21st century chapter, after "9-11-2001: Never Forget", and "2004-2006: Iraq and Roll" will come "Wall Street versus Main Street: America's 21st Century Economic Crisis".
My point is that after hearing it repatedly for weeks now, I was done with it. I could eat the same thing for lunch and dinner for a month if someone gave it to me without blicking an eye, but my ears don't work the same way. I need some auditory diversity.
So just as I'm about to exact violence against my car, does NPR magically feel my rage and move on? Oh no. They do the exact opposite; they rub salt in the wound, pour alcohol in my eye, they do this:

Where Wall St. And Main St. Collide — Literally



I laughed. Now I'm going to find the closest intersection of Main & Wall and take a picture of it, right after I widdle* on it.




*Yes, "widdle" means "pee", and no, I'm not really going to urinate in public. That might hinder my chances to get elected to Congress.

02 October 2008

Garden Ramble: Fall Edition

We've officially landed in Autumn, the traditional harvest time. Of course, if you've been slogging through these web-log words about plants that I've been sharing with you over the past few months, you'll know that I've been harvesting for a few months now.
On herbs, my chocolate mint deserves a special mention because I was certain that it wasn't going to survive because I think it's a really cool herb, but it's thriving.
My flowers have continued to impress late into the year, and I likely have enough marigold (and hopefully soon zinnia) seeds, as well as sunflower seeds to more than fill out next year's garden. There are some orphaned petunias that never found their way into the ground, but are still in flats. This Winter's experiment will be to see if they can survive. Speaking of winter, I'm soon going to be pulling the potted plants back indoors from their summer perches. Poinsettia, Rubber Tree, and the canine salad bar - sorry, snake plant - will return to their inviernal perches indoors. As will the other Winter experiment, the herbs I've planted in pots. Our Northern exposure doesn't give us much in the way of Winter sunlight, but the plants love the CFLs that I've installed in the house. I have a cabbage in a pot. I might bring it in to see if it continues to grow. Why not.
Vegetables. I finally pulled the beans out to make room for what will hopefully be fall cabbages and broccoli, I planted the remaining squash from the thinning, and I harvested some broccoli from the plants that have been growing all summer. I think I botched something there, because instead of wonderful, lush heads of broccoli I got small florets with leaves all through. I think I planted them too densely. My planned expansion and less heavy hand will likely make for more, better broccoli next Summer. Fall radishes and carrots are growing, I see what are hopefully signs from the lettuce/spinach (now that the beans are gone), and of the dozen peas I planted one sprouted. We might get some more peas before frost, but I'll not hold my breath. Peppers continue to come in. I am drying out most of the hot peppers in preparation for making more of my infamous "Satan's Coke Habit" hot pepper powder, and enjoying the green/red bell peppers fresh off the plant! We've even had a cucumber or two come in, though those poor vines never took off like I'd hoped - the squash choked them out for too long.
I'm hoping and praying for there to be enough warmth left for at least a few more weeks without frost, and then the cold work of adding the compost and setting up next year's expansion begins. Once the last flower is gone and the vegetable garden put to bed, aha, for the winter, I'll likely put this little feature on hiatus until February or so, when I plant my first round of seeds, unless you're that interested in hearing my thoughts on my houseplants and how my Winter Experiments are proceeding. You'll have to let me know, though.

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