… has the street in front of CatBeard Manor had so much water.
Granted at the height of the heaviest rain during Harvey the entire street was curb-to- curb water and moving up into my front yard. Today it is only curb-to-curb to the west of me.
When Topical Storm Imelda was coming ashore earlier this week, I thought “good we’ll finally get some rain”. I even put down fertilizer and garden lime on my yard to be watered-in by the rain. Then … nothing … light intermittent drizzle Monday and Tuesday followed by a few short showers yesterday. Be careful what you wish for.
I’m off work this week on a “staycation”. I was making a Starbucks run about 11 AM when it began. By the time I got back to my driveway the deluge had begun. Heavy downpour for over an hour before a temporary respite, and we are at the trailing edge of what is now Tropical Depression Imelda. Houston proper and points east are getting the brunt of it.
We have always been an “island in the stream” during flooding events. In the thirty years we have been here even the worst flooding events has left us high and dry.
All of the usual places that flood in Houston are flooding now. Watching LIVE YouTube coverage of Houston weather and flooding. It’s pretty bad.
Summer is coming to an end. Slowly but surely the days of sub-100 degF and 90+ humidity are numbered. The Mrs has spent most of the summer renovating our back porch after years of hiding inside. Take a look …
I am taking this week off on a “staycation” to get some much needed work done around the house. My new job gives me 6 weeks vacation so I might as well use it.
We are sitting on the back porch having a Starbucks treat. The Mrs is crocheting while I read THE HARLAN ELLISON COLLECTION – I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM first published in 1967. SciFi guy that I am and in my teens when it first came out, I strangely never read it although I knew of it and have frequently used the phrase when dealing with the frustrations of life.
Also enjoying an unlikely breakfast of Romaine lettuce as I endeavor to loose the 30 lbs I gained after going back to work over a year ago. I tend to be a social animal and find it all too easy to go to lunch.
We are in the shade on the south side of the house with a very nice breeze that come and goes. Small scattered clouds are drifting by over head.
In the short time I have been writing this, the temperature on my Apple Watch has risen to 87 with a predicted high of 93. But for now it is very pleasant.
But … as impressive as the sound of the video above is with headphones on … you still miss the full body sensation of your innards vibrating from the low frequency rumble. Perhaps listening with headphones AND a really powerful sub-woofer?
Everyday Astronaut (Tim Dodd) has posted his 360 degree video of his experience three miles away from the Falcon Heavy launch. He is standing exactly where I was at the final Saturn V launch of Skylab. This is very nostalgic for me and I understand the emotions he must have been feeling.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you now know that yesterday SpaceX accomplished something spectacular. That being the launch and partially successful landing of the Falcon Heavy boosters and the delivery of “Starman” in Elon Musk’s vintage cherry red Tesla Roadster. Both side boosters landed successfully back at the Cape as shown below. Unfortunately the core section failed to initiate the final landing burn and crashed next to the recovery drone ship. YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter are replete with coverage and discussion.
I have selected a few choice (short) videos below for your enjoyments.
Note that even though the bottom videos from the returning side boosters shown above are supposed to be from each individual booster, someone goofed and we see the same video stream displayed on the left and right. SpaceX corrected this with a later video, but that is not currently available on YouTube.
Below is one of the better spectator videos of the landings. (There are many)
YOKS (Ye Olde Kid Sister) posted the photo above of our Dad to Facebook today.
I took that photo during my “Black & White” photography period. My camera bag is prominently visible in the foreground. This is a classic Bob photo – beer in hand. Note the old school disposable “pop top” beer can and Bob’s signature white cowboy hat.
Below is another picture I took on a different fishing trip. This is actually a cropped digital image of a framed picture I have hanging on my staircase. It is my favorite photo of Dad.
Bob loved to fish and I frequently went along with him always getting on the road before sunrise. I was heavily into photography in the 70s and would go “fishing” with him just to get out and away from everything and to spend time alone with him. I am not sure exactly when these pictures were taken – I could probably find the negatives and give you the exact dates, but that would be irrelevant – mid 1970s is close enough.
I put “fishing” in quotes because I mostly went for the solitude, sandwiches, beer, and photography. Fishing was very “zen” for Bob. Peace, quiet, solitude … and beer. Bob loved beer. Fishing wasn’t so much about catching fish as it was the entire experience. Sure he loved actually catching fish, but not catching fish was OK too. How does that old saying go … “the worst day fishing is better than the best day of work.”
Our “worst day of fishing” was the time we were out in Florida Keys in a rented boat and sheared the propeller shear pin on a sand shoal – with no extra shear pins. After several hours of trying to row back to shore with the single oar we had – including realizing we had snagged the line of a lobster/crab pot on the outboard motor, thus going nowhere – Bob decided to fashion a shear pin out of a heavy gauge fish hook. That did the trick and we limped back to the marina. Speaking of “lobsters” I was wearing shorts, no shirt, and no hat. Although by some miracle I did not blister, I was “cooked lobster red” for many days afterwards. Still better than “the best day of work.”
Bob would have loved this song …
Bob is no longer with us. Time may heal all wounds, but we still miss him.
In a previous post (Left? … or Right?) I asked your opinion regarding which on my new professional portraits you preferred. Sadly only maggie0019 formally responded with a comment. I would have preferred more data points before reaching a decision, but it is what it is. It is not too late to voice your opinion. I will update the results if I get more feedback.
As you can guess from the title of the post and the “FEATURED IMAGE” at the top, the Left portrait appears to be the “right” one.
The break down was interesting. My wife, oldest son, and his wife all preferred the portrait on the right. My sister, the photographer, and everyone* else chose the portrait on the left.
The Mrs thought that the Right image made me look slimmer. She also thought that my cheek in the Left image looked “bulbous”, to which I must agree.
Those who preferred the Left image thought I looked friendlier and more approachable. Maggie’s humans both preferred the Left image. Her young human Jamie cracked me up with “He looks like Teddy Roosevelt. We can call him The Square Deal now! Actually, he looks like a military person. I’m kind of intimidated right now. He doesn’t look like the guy who’d tell you to do 20 pushups…he looks like the guy who tells the guy who tells you to do 20 pushups!” Teddy Roosevelt? Hmm. I did think that some of the images I rejected in the screening session looked more like Wilford Brimley.
I have decided to use the Left image for now as my LinkedIn portrait and for other business related content, but I can mix and match as the spirit moves me.
We’ve all been to the optometrist (or ophthalmologist) and had to look through the phoropter. Bet you didn’t know what it was called until now. Just another extra that you get but never pay for at Contrafactual.com. Wikipedia has an article on it HERE.
Anyway, back to phoropter … you look at one image of letters and numbers, then another whilst being asked “Which looks better … this? or this?” Eventually you reach a point where, try as you may, you can’t tell the difference.
Getting a professional portrait made is a lot like that. The photographer has you sitting or standing (or both, just not at the same time) and tells to move your head a little to the left or the right. Maybe he says something to make you smile. “Move your chin down just a bit … there!” Snap! Over and over and over. OK this part isn’t like looking through the phoropter, but the next part is.
Once the photographer is satisfied that he has enough shots (maybe a few dozen), you look at a display with an image on the left and one on the right. Left? … or Right? Left? … or Right? Left … or Right? Over and over and over until you can’t make up your mind.
Yesterday I had my first ever professional portrait session. My LinkedIn photo was years out of date and every selfie I have ever taken looks horrible. I had just completed a job interview and since I had a new suit on anyway I decided to stop by the portrait studio to schedule a sitting. He was available then and there and the price was fair, so I did it. Normally you get three sizes of the same image: high resolution for printing, medium resolution for webpages, and a square-cropped image for LinkedIn (or Gravatar, etc.) all for a flat fee. In my case I got down to the final two and could not decide. The photographer was nice enough to give me the three sizes of the two images for the price of one. If you live in the Houston Texas area be sure to check out Country Park Portraits.
So which one do you like best … Left? … or Right? *
I’ll let you know which one the Mrs likes best in the next post …
* note – should they display one above the other, the one on “the Left” will be above the one on “the Right”
The video below does an excellent job of explaining exactly how the Falcon 9 survives re-entry
The heat of re-entry is due to the compression of the atmosphere ahead of the re-entering vehicle, NOT air friction. Think of a diesel engine that works by highly compressing the air in the cylinder above the ignition temperature of the diesel fuel which is then injected at maximum compression and temperature.
Kids graduating from high school today have never known a world without cell phones … or the instant gratification of digital photography. I remember once reading an article a long time ago that said that cameras were becoming so small and cheap that there was no reason not to put them in everything. Cell phones were the logical beneficiary. Now everyone has a camera on them at all times. If Big Foot were real, someone would have gotten an HD video of her by now.
Photographers … professional and amateur … had to wait for film to be chemically developed in order to see the results. It could takes days before you saw the results. Film often had had to be sent out for processing. The arrival of onsite same-day processing was a big deal.
No cell phone cameras, no digital cameras, no webcams, no camcorders; both still and movie cameras used film that needed to be developed before you could see the results
My favorite was a slide film call Kodachrome made by Eastman Kodak. So popular and high quality was this film that Paul Simon (formerly of Simon & Garfunkle) released a song about it. Kodachrome processing involved a variety of toxic chemicals and was discontinued in 2009, but its color saturation and time stability are legendary. I still have Kodachrome slides that are gorgeous even as other slides and prints have faded to red (and the lubricants in my slide projector have turned to glue rendering it useless). I keep planning to get these digitally scanned, but it’s not cheap for high quality scans and something always comes up that diverts the funds. I would like to get them scanned and begin posting then here someday.
When not shooting Kodachrome slides I (like most everyone else) shot print film. This involved a roll of film with a “negative” image that was developed and then used to create enlarged color prints. One dropped off the film for processing and the came back to pick up the prints and negatives.
Never knowing if any of my photos had turned out, I would take my roll of film down to the local photomat or camera store to have it developed. Invariably on the way out I would begin humming the first few bars of …
One of the first apps I got for my iPad (and iPhone) was ArtStudio by Lucky Clan (http://www.luckyclan.com/) from the Apple App Store. Not being familiar with Photo Shop, I can’t make a feature by feature comparison, but I can state that ArtStudio does everything I have ever needed it to do. The price is right at $4.99. Below are screen shots from the App Store. As you can see it is rated quite highly.
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Anyway the Mrs wanted to put pictures of son number two on the wall of “the office”. We had many pictures of him as a child, but none as an adult. Then I realized that I had pictures of him I had taken at the wedding of son number one a few years ago. One of them is the picture below. Unfortunately it appears that a dwarf in a hat is growing out of his shoulder.
So using Layers, surgically trimming of the edges (digitally), and applying Gaussian blur to the background I was able to clean up the image. I include a screen shot below of the layers.
The final image is below. I used the native iOS photo app to tweak the rotation and cropping of the edited image.
When I told him I was looking for a CHEMEX coffee carafe, my friend in Florida told me I could probably find a used one much cheaper than a new one. He also told me one can frequently find a used one at significantly cheaper cost (than on Amazon) by visiting thrift shops, eBay, etc. He sent me several links.
Days (weeks?) later he told me that while rummaging around in his house he found one. Knowing my friend this is entirely believable. You would have to see his place …
The outer box
The inner box
Digging out the packing peanuts – like digging out rice cakes
The Questar 3.5 telescope and I go back a long way … 62 years in fact.
The first Questar debuted in 1954, just months after I was born. I discovered it as a teenager interested in astronomy and all things aerospatial in the giddy years of the 1960s moon race. It has been an unrequited love affair ever since. I followed the Questar with great interest during the 60s, 70s, and 80s – sending in handwritten letters requesting their latest catalogs. In college, while other engineering students were thumbing through their Playboy and Penthouse magazines, I read and reread my Questar catalogs. My lust was every bit as real and unsatisfiable as theirs. (Not that I never read their magazines, but I read them solely for the interviews and journalistic content.)
Married in 76 with profession, mortgage, and children arriving on schedule like most other couples, my attention shifted elsewhere. With the arrival of the Internet I had instant access to better astrophotos than the best telescopes on earth much less any amateur telescope. In the late 90s my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I tell people that I feel more comfortable in hospitals than any non-medical person has a right to feel. So with mortgage company, kids, doctors, hospitals, and big pharma all dependent on my salary – any telescope was out of my price range. Life went on …
Every so often I would google “Questar” just to see if they were even still in business. To my surprise they were. Even more interesting Company Seven had arrived on the scene. But as before, life went on …
Things have stabilized. My wife’s MS and other complications are manageable. I’m not rich, but I’m not broke (yet). In the past few weeks I have reacquainted myself with Company Seven and have been having a very enjoyable and elightening email dialog with Martin Cohen one of the cofounders of Company Seven. I can imagine how busy he must be so I feel honored that he has taken the time to answer my questions personally. Then again he may give all of his customers this personal touch, just one of the many reasons that makes Company Seven special. Company Seven provides a full range of products and services supporting the amateur astronomy community as well as government, security, and corporate customers. They are a fully authorized distributor for Questar (in fact the only one, I believe) and provide a full range of associated products and services. Their online library of current and historical literature is truly amazing.
Company Seven played a key role in the development of the “spectacles” used to correct design deficiencies in the focus of the Hubble Space Telescope primary mirror. They even used a variant of the Questar to quality check the calibration of the optics.
Trust me – if the general topic of telescopes, optics, accessories … and the history of the above interests you – then the Company Seven website will give you hours if not days of reading enjoyment.
Even more impressive (at least to me) is the level of Quality Assurance and Testing they give to each and every product they sell. Their webpage below on testing is both enlightening and entertaining. After reading it I am going to be purchasing ALL of my optical gear through Company Seven – especially my Questar.
Lest there be any doubt, please realize that the Questar is as much an objet d’art as it is a mere telescope. It is a handmade sculpture of engineering excellence. A future heirloom. A “bucket list” item. Proudly made entirely in the USA throughout its 62 year history.
As a teenager growing up in the 60s … at the height of the space race … I could never have comprehended that we would develop the level of technology that would allow the Tiny1 to exist. Now 50 years later, I am no longer surprised by anything.
If you are a child of the Space Age, love to look at the night sky, or just want to be amazed at how far technology has come, check out Tiny1 on Indiegogo.