dr_phil_physics: (ucf-logo)
The UCF is a pretty diffuse group -- and with its origins online, meat-ups in the real world are something of a big deal. The Big Furball is a connectivity map of the UCF and by no means have all members met each other or their UCF Auxiliaries.

So it's pretty cool to add two new links.


Random Michelle, Michael and Mrs. Dr. Phil on the Big Red Porch of the Big Blue House. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Random Michelle, Michael and Dr. Phil on the Big Red Porch. Alas, the camera got hysterical about the bright background and underexposed us by 2½ stops. It took some teasing to get this to come out. LARA uses Gimp 2.8, not Ulead PhotoImpact or Corel PaintBox Pro, and I haven't used it much, which complicated the photo teasing process. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


All of us from Michelle's camera on a tripod with a remote. Stolen via Facebook. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Random Michelle (All Rights Reserved)


Eric The Lawyer (aka Evan), Kat and Dr. Phil. Like the picture above, there was a backlighting issue -- this one I caught and put the Nikon D100 on Manual and used the same exposure settings as in the next shot. Close enough. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Eric, Kat, Mrs. Dr. Phil -- they were having quite an animated discussion, and with shooting at 1/20th of a second at ISO 1600, I had to try to get in between big gestures. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Anyway, for those of you in the UCF or related auxiliaries, here's your Pictures Or It Didn't Happen.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
Friday. May the First. Temperature hit 73°F in Kalamazoo. Saturday was similar.

These days I mostly commute with a single Nikon and one lens. For the D100 I usually use the 28-80mm f3.5-5.6G AF NIKKOR. But Friday I took a camera bag and from the start of my drive, I used the 80-200mm f4.5-5.6D AF NIKKOR. Ken Rockwell lists this as "Nikon's Lightest Telephoto Zoom", yet optically it is a worthy successor to the original 80-200mm f4.5 Zoom-NIKKOR manual focus lens.


I love furry dry weeds and grasses, especially backlit. This is the edge of the cedar swamp on 84th Avenue less than a mile from our house. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Cropped shot of a tractor plowing with a dust plume behind. I thought I'd try to stay for a shot of it coming back withe plume behind the tractor, but he was driving around in big squares, not up-and-down, so I'm glad I got this shot. Was impressed that the autofocus still locked on the tractor, despite the dust. This is also on 84th Avenue, where all the fields have been plowed now. The big corn fields east of 84th on M-45 Lake Michigan Drive haven't started yet. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Every spring this line of pink flowering trees in front of Family Fare in Allendale glows as I go to work in the mid-morning and early evening on the way home. Since I had a long lens mounted, I pulled into the gas station and shot down the line of trees. A breeze was knocking petals off in big clouds, but this shot didn't have many. Tough lighting for a D100 -- you can see the overblown highlights in the sky. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Leaving the office on Friday, there were dandelions in the grass below the raised sidewalk. I tried to shoot a clump straight down, but the 80-200mm has a minimum distance of 5 feet -- too close. So angled and got this dandelion, slightly backlit by the late afternoon sun. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Saturday I found that the 80-200mm lens on the D100 still fit in the neoprene Zing camera case, so hoping I didn't need a shorter lens, didn't even bother with the camera bag. We had half an hour to kill in Grand Haven before going to see Avengers: Age of Ultron, so we went down to Grand Haven Harbor. While waiting for Mrs. Dr. Phil to return with a couple of chili dogs, I was able to take a few shots.


Cropped shot of a red bench along the boardwalk. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Kids, a dog, parents -- all happy on a warm spring day. Love the pose on the kid in the middle, and the smile on the dog. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Cropped shot of our hearty little stand of daffodils next to our driveway. Looks very happy coming up the drive. Evening light to the left backlighting here. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Pretty pleased with these. Going backlit with a Gen 1.5 DSLR is pretty tough. The only thing I might've changed would have been to take a 70-300mm instead of the 80-200mm. But that would've taken the Zing Pro camera case. Funny thing about zooms -- one tends to use the extremes a lot.

Dr. Phil
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77 / 200

Monday, 20 April 2015 15:53
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
So Channel 3 said on Friday that West Michigan hit 77°F for the first time in two hundred days. Lovely Spring weather. Mrs. Dr. Phil kept on saying it was summer, but she'd been in a meeting where the sun was broiling the room, so she's biased. Saturday was almost as warm -- lovely day for one last meat up with Momcat and Joe at what he called "The Bug Bunny" -- Grand Coney in Allendale. Then off to a game night.

Sunday still got up to 69-72°F, but by late afternoon it was all steady rain and cooling off. It's 4pm Monday and been gray and raining on and off all day. It's gotten all the way up to 46°F so far.

Definitely Spring, it's greening up. Our little bed of a couple of daffodils shows nice healthy green stands of leaves, but no hint of flowers yet. There are some daffodils about a mile from us and the peepers are still raising a ruckus at night so... Spring. The forsythia bush has one branch with bright yello flowers, hopefully the rest of it will be coming. We think that one branch gets more sun from a gap in the trees. (grin) It's gonna be a cooler week, though.

Speaking of Spring, I guess it's Finals Week at Western -- since I'm not teaching, I'm just not in touch with the calendar. But I did have an office run on Wednesday -- gorgeous day and topped out at 69-72°F.

But as I was leaving, I spotted an unusual sight -- a class being held outdoors of Everett Tower and Rood Hall. Huh. A mobile white board and a music stand as a lectern. And it was a Math class. Man, usually the outdoor classes are social sciences or literature. But no, they're dealing with polar coordinates. And mostly the students are taking notes or crap. Not even texting...


Naturally it's a young guy. Usually you can't bribe or badger the fogies to do an outdoor class. Physics is Phun enough, we don't need to go outdoors. Not unless we're pushing Suburbans around or launching water rockets. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Inset from a second frame. In the time I stooped the walker, got out the Nikon D100 and took a coupke of shots, he made a couple of jokes. Sine of zero is zero. Anything times zero is...? Come on, the zero multiplication tables are going to be on the Final...
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Took another shot from the Blazer, showing the class spread out. There's one guy leaning back on both hands. Yeah, he's taking notes. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Dr. Phil
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A Few Photos

Sunday, 12 April 2015 16:10
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
Our Spring melt was very orderly this year, especially as we didn't get a lot of rain. Or rather it held off until Wednesday and Thursday.


Thursday afternoon "lake" next door, shot from the road. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Our neighbors on either side had pulled their trees in order to have a front lawn. Brian to the west leveled it and brought in dirt -- the guy to the east didn't, so his front yard is sunken and floods as you can see. We got a little standing water amongst our pines, and a fairly full drainage ditch by the road on one side, but not much else. And certainly nothing in the basement as in April 2013.

Momcat and Joe are visiting -- I missed the business meeting at MIAAPT on Saturday (darn) to come back and we had a wonderful dinner at Pereddies in Holland.


Mrs. Dr. Phil and her mom Momcat at Sharkey's at the Hampton Inn in Holland, Friday night. Not seen, a huge wedding party pre-game dinner and meet up to the left. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I left home for MIAAPT at maybe 7:17am Saturday. I-96 to I-496 through Lansing. Exit 9 to Trowbridge to Harrison and MSU. Trowbridge parallels the Amtrak line -- I never get to see a train at the East Lansing station. Except at 8:55 on Saturday, when I spotted Amtrak 126 peeking between two buildings. I pulled in between the two buildings -- the station is on the other side of the train. I could see a lot of legs from underneath the train -- must have been a big crowd boarding.

Fired off a quick shot with the Nikon D100, not knowing how much time I had. Been experimenting with using the Matrix metering, rather than the center weighted I am more used to. Heavily backlit in the morning sun -- no lens hood. The full size photo doesn't show the moire/stairstepping of the rails crossing the frame at an angle. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Overriding the camera to get a little better exposure. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

For whatever reason, Amtrak seems to run a lot of Michigan service trains with two GE Genesis P42DC locomotives, one at each end. This means the trains don't have to be reversed at the end of the run. But they could run a cabbage -- a former locomotive with the prime mover pulled and used as a cab+baggage unit -- or a cab control ex-Metroliner car on one end. On the other hand, running two locomotives means you should have have a backup. My point is you don't need 8500 hp to drive this train.

Because I didn't have a timetable and the train was double-ended, I didn't know if it was eastbound or westbound. Had it been eastbound, I could have pulled out and gotten a nice shot at the grade crossing at Harrison -- or maybe even the overpass over Farm Road. Alas, all those happy students were heading west towards Chicago, so I just headed off to my meeting.


The rest of the train. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

As I was getting ready to leave East Lansing at 3:30, I noticed the construction crane, freewheeling like a weather vane in the stiff wind. I snapped a picture, hoping to have it swing back and show more of the crane -- alas, it wasn't going to perform for me.


Stupid crane looking boring for me. Rather tricky to make sure the AF was locked on the the crane and not the tree branches. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The construction project involves updating the NSCL National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory to FRIB -- the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. It's really cool, they expect to add thousands of new isotopes to the list of some 3000 isotopes in the Chart of the Nuclides, by simulating some of the conditions inside a supernova. The name change is because they're removing the two superconducting cyclotrons, the K500 and the K1200 -- and building a novel new linear accelerator.

But not a particularly cool photo -- thirty seconds earlier...

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
As long as I had to get out the Nikon D1H and the 24-120mm VR lens to shoot the lunar eclipse this morning (DW) (LJ), AND Saturday was destined to be the only mostly blue sky sunny day for most of the next week, I decided to go out in the Blazer and see what was up.

Driving east on Warner, I started passing fields which had just been disced. Ready for planting Real Soon Now. And so as the post title above suggests, the air was rich with the smell of newly turned earth, the dirt smelling like early spring.


There's this cool farm on a hill coming south on 68th Avenue into Allendale -- and there was a neat mix of unplowed and plowed fields. Looks like carpeting from the road. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Wandered up the back streets of the Edgewater Industrial Park in Allendale, and shot some of the fields. One had already been cleared and leveled. But I like this one with the overwintered corn stubble. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Nice backlit old fence post no longer actually holding up any fence. 84th Avenue north of M-45, Allendale. I think they plowed this field last fall, so there's already some greenish stuff. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I tried to get one more shot after this one, but alas, the battery state was zero and the D1H wouldn't fire. The D1 Series NiMH batteries are heavy and notoriously short on life. Plus most of mine are maybe ten years old. The battery in the D1H this morning was below zero, though the clock was still running on the rechargeable backup battery, and I swapped with another in that camera bag. It lasted for what, four eclipse shots and maybe ten shots in the afternoon. Of course, I don't know if that's one of the old batteries or whether it had been a rundown battery to begin with. I see a charging session coming up -- and I may break down and use the reconditioning button and shock the buggers into holding onto a little charge. I usually keep 1 or 2 spares with me with the D1/D1X/D1H, which is what the pros used to do during the first gen era, but I only took the camera this afternoon, not the camera bag. (grin)

I need to go ahead and order the Nikon D1 E Focusing Screens, with horizontal and vertical grid lines, for the D1H and the D1X. Shooting from the driver's seat (or even leaning on canes/walker/doorways) right now it's too easy to get the horizon line off. I already installed one in the D1, the N2020 and the F4s. And the D100 and Kodak SLR/n are both based on the Nikon F80 camera, which has built-in grid lines you can turn on. The Nikon F3 just got an R screen, which has both the grid and a split-image rangefinder optimized for f3.5-5.6 lenses. Yes, Virginia, we used to have to focus our cameras by hand. Even on automatic exposure cameras from the 1980s.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (a-man-in-the-moon)
For twenty plus years we've been in West Michigan, I cannot tell you how often the West Michigan weather has conspired against me seeing anything of an astronomical nature (DW) (LJ). So with a lunar eclipse coming up this morning with the setting Moon and the rising Sun -- it seemed impossible. Still, Mrs. Dr. Phil had a workshop at GVSU today, so we got up at the normal work time. And at 6:40am, I was able to peek out the bedroom window and lo and behold, there was a chunk of the Moon missing.

Even better, it turned out that the neighbors to the west didn't seem to be in the way. Now it was a race between the darkening Moon and the Sun coming up as the Moon went down.

Once I was assembled for the day, with the leg brace and all, I dragged out the heavy duty Nikon D1H. It goes up to 1600 ISO sensitivity -- and not too bad in color. More importantly, the 24-120mm f3.5-5.6G VR AF-NIKKOR. At 120mm (180mm FX equivalent) that's the longest lens I have right now with VR Vibration Reduction. I ended up shooting at 1/20th of a second and 1/25th. The heavier mass of the D1H over the D100 adds to the stability. No point in putting on the 70-300mm non-VR or the giant 200-600mm f9.5 AIs Zoom-NIKKOR (DW) (LJ), without a tripod.

The significance of VR is that the usual thumb of rule states that the slowest handheld shutter speed you can hand hold is 1/(focal length), so that should be 1/120th of a second for a 120mm lens. We're roughly 2½ f-stops slower than that here, with the lens wide open. But this lens promises 2-3 stops of extra stability with the little "jiggle" elements in the VR system, compensating for the movement of my hand. I could have set the D1H to HI-2 (6400 ISO) and gained two shutter speeds, but the cost due to noise in the image wasn't something I wanted to try. Someday I'll spring for a D3 or D4 FX fullframe or a later generation DX digital camera which work better at high ISOs -- But This Is Not That Day.

(Long ago, I was the master of "available darkness" handholding, and 1/20th of a second at 120mm would have been no real problem -- one or two out of four shots should have been usable. Alas, between my leg and less stamina, I cannot hold that steady any more. I'm always shocked when I look at the EXIF data from shots with either of my VR lenses and see "how low I can go" and get great or acceptable images.)


Picture 4. Leaning on side of garage, looking just south of west. 120mm 1/25th sec f5.6, tweaked focus manually. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Inset of full size version above at 300%. With the full moon at max totality some time later -- unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are slow and long -- you would not see this configuration of light and dark at this hour just at sunrise. As an interesting aside, TIME Magazine was running a live stream of the lunar eclipse, and the images from the Australian observatory were reversed. As they should be. (Turn your head upside down to know why. I am not talking about the normal telescope reversal, they had already corrected for that.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I did no corrections to the images -- no brightness, contrast or color adjustments. One thing I did do was switch the meter from centerweighted to spot. Probably the first time I've used any of the Nikons so equipped in spot mode (F4s, Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n, D1, D1X, D1H, D100).

These are not great pictures, but they are the first time I've tried to take a lunar eclipse picture with a modern camera ever. Lens too short, only a 2.7MP image, a lot of noise at 1600 ISO from a first generation DSLR. But I got the picture. Yay me.

Here's the rest of the set:


Picture 1. All the first three were at 1/20th of a second and 120mm, autofocus. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Picture 2. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Picture 3. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Anyway, given that most of the show happened later, below the horizon, I am pretty pleased to have been up, dressed and equipped on an early Saturday morning and had anything to show for it.

Dr. Phil
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35 50 Fight

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 17:12
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
Well, we finally had a day where the high in Allendale topped fifty -- the highest I had at home was 50.8°F. Yesterday was supposed to be partly cloudy, but instead we had foggy and overcast all day. Today started out even foggier, but by midday, was all blue skies and sunshine. Lots of melting going on.

Yesterday I did go out to shoot some black & white film in my second Nikon F3 -- the F3blue with the MD-4 motor drive I got at Christmas (DW). I decided to try the 35-135mm f3.5-4.5 AF NIKKOR that came with the Kodak Pro SLR/n, and it turned out relatively easy to use as an AI manual focus lens. The push-pull zoom is very smooth and the focusing ring turns really easily. The Nikon F3 Type R focusing screen I bought, designed for running the split-image rangefinder with f3.5 to f5.6 lenses, worked very well, and the grid lines in the R screen are just bonus for when you're twisting and turning to shoot from the driver's seat of a vehicle.

Again, this is why you buy professional equipment.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that three of my 35mm Nikons were coming up on the ends of their rolls -- the F3blue, F4s and the N2020 -- and I'd started all the rolls I'd bought in 2013-14 when I got home from the hospital the first time. So, since I don't shoot film all that often, I just got four different rolls of pro film -- two B&W and two color negative, all C-41 color process.

So I was pleased to finish up the roll of Ilford XP-2 ISO 400 black & white film in the F3 yesterday. Pleased other than I missed one good shot: after circling around, I was coming up to 48th Avenue westbound on M-45 and to my left were two cars. Both were at 45° to the intersection and there was zero gap between them. My guess is that the little car pulled a right turn on red right into a car going straight on M-45. Or else the bigger car ran the red light. Either way, I had the perfect sight angle for shooting right between the cars as I sat at the light. Grabbed the F3, zoomed to 135mm, focused, pressed the shutter release. Nothing. As I put the camera down when the light turned green, I saw the red LED on which said I was at the end of the roll.

Because I had been shooting the F3 since December in the cold, I used the countdown counter on the MD-4 motor drive. It has enough torque to rip frozen film off the spool if you're not careful. So I wasn't sure if I had really hit the end of the roll, or the end minus 1, meaning I could've had one more shot. Actually, no. When I changed rolls this afternoon the shutter was only partly cocked, so I was at the end. Well, I've missed pictures before. It happens. Especially when you're dealing with only 36 exposures (or 24) and not 2GB or more of flash drive. And realize, if I had a digital SLR with me, I might not have had it out of the case, or had a long enough lens on it to get the shot I wanted.

So I had two errands to do in Allendale this week. Being a clever person, I figured I could do the Walgreen's trip today -- and then tomorrow or Friday do the other errand and pick up the negatives and Photo CD. Alas, not to be.

I've used Walgreen's for the C-41 processing and scanning because it was convenient. Their scanner only goes to 1 megapixel, but even that's enough to reduce to around 600x400 pixels for webpages. And the color has been good, and especially the richness coming from film.

New person at the Photo desk at Walgreen's, no problem, she called in the manager. Get my phone number, start the order. Two rolls, develop, Photo CD, proof picture, no prints.

Um, they don't do that anymore.

I mean, I had been impressed that they still did enough photo business to do 1 Hour developing in-house. Alas, those days are gone. They've contracted out to some third-party lab. And these guys do not return the negatives.

Do. Not. Return. The. Negatives.

First of all, totally unacceptable for professional film. Second, I haven't even seen any of the scans these new guys can do. With the 1MP scans I'd been getting, I had the negatives, which meant if I really needed to, I could send individual strips out to get them professionally scanned at a higher rate. But without the negatives, totally at the mercy of the lab.

For those of you who grew up on digital and have never used film -- or have forgotten -- the negatives are the real photograph. Scanner has dust on it or set wrong? JPEG corrupted on the Photo CD? Scan it again. It's the backup.

And remember, too, there is nothing wrong with this 33-year-old camera. Or the 20-25 year old zoom lens.

Now some of you might be clever enough to comment that, "well, you already don't get your checks back from the bank." And that's true. But there are differences. Check verification from a scanned check doesn't require a very good image. And technically, you do lose forensic information if you were doing some big criminal probe, such as fingerprints, pen pressure, ink brands, etc. But mostly we can live with our old bank scanned checks, even if new technology comes along.

Negatives aren't like that. As I said, they can be scanned by better scanners and more skilled operators.

My camera store in Grand Rapids, on Fulton between John Ball Park and GVSU's downtown campus, is gone. They managed to survive the 90s, but somewhere around when we got our first digital camera in 2003, they went away. There is still a pro-capable camera store in West Michigan, but their G.R. store is way on the other end of town and their Kalamazoo store is way on the end of town. That's why I've never checked their photo processing. Otherwise, it's one of the real pro labs which require shipping. And, quite frankly, more expense.

After I check out to see what Meijers is doing (close) or Costco (other side of G.R.), which is who pro guru Ken Rockwell gets some of his film processing done in California.

We'll see.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
It's been a busy week and it's only half over. It started with glasses.

For a while we alternated glasses each year. And I've had some of the same titanium safety frames which I have alternated relensing, as well. Alas, my skin acids tend to eat away plating, so the gold tone on my titanium frames deteriorates -- on the other hand, cheaper glasses leave big green marks in the summer with painful galvanic reactions -- so it's still been an improvement.

Alas², neither of my titanium frames for regular or reading glasses are still made. I probably got ten years out of the old designs and the reading/computer bifocals are okay. So I found another titanium safety frame... which is also being discontinued. Had to get the frames they had in the office.

Picked them up on Monday and since I wear glasses all the time, my look is TOTALLY different. I shot two self-portraits with the D1 -- big heavy iron pro cameras don't do no "selfies".


The old glasses... and the new. Completely different look! (Click on photos for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

By Wednesday I needed to go back and get the nose and ear pieces adjusted and took some pictures.


We thought the last plowing of our driveway was done by our dueling neighbors, but from the tracks it is clear that rabbits were responsible for clearing the snow and building these snow walls. Shot at 1/25th of a second at f22 to try to show the breeze motion. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


68th Avenue at Lake Michigan Drive, finally looking like a Michigan winter in town. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Our dentists and eye doctors officers are in the same building in the Edgewater office park. There's a nearby pond. The D1 has trouble with snow highlights, but like the old 1970s Agfrachrome CT18 slide film, it does a nice job on neutral colors. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


It was this snow layered pine I saw on Monday, still there on Wednesday, that I wanted to shoot. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Am I surprised that the TruValue Hardware store has such straight sided sidewalk cuts? After a dry December and a mixed January, February started aggressively enough that West Michigan is above average for snowfall to date, though still behind last winter. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


I liked these spidery weeds in the snow out front. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Tonight we're supposed to go near- or sub-zero as we get a bit of an Arctic blast. No serious snow until maybe next week?

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2012)
This is not the first time that I've pulled into an event and saw Jim C. Hines arriving, too. And when I went downstairs to pick up my registration packet, there was Jim again -- and with a new camera. So out came the Nikon D1H and the duel was on...


Okay, new camera, let's get this set up. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Ready, aim... (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Checking to see what he got. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Let's try this again. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Checking again. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Note, when pro photographers began using digital cameras, this back and forth looking at the screen became known as "prairie dogging" by the photographers still using film. (grin)

BTW -- someone there had their camera phone and has a picture of both of us shooting the duel -- if I find a copy of it somewhere, I'll post it, too. (grin)

Then there's Al Bogdan. He'd texted that he wasn't going to be going around shooting pictures at ConFusion this year. So naturally, when I ran into Al around 11pm at the Detcon1 celebration party in Erie, he was unzipping his camera case. To be fair, he'd been the photographer for Detcon1 in July, so it was naturally that he should be recording the party -- I'd asked him how many of the pics in the slide show they were running was his and he figured all of them. But he didn't want his picture with a camera, so...


Al sans Canon. This is the second picture -- I had Al move his head slightly so it blocked the wall lamp behind him, giving him the halo effect. Nice start to a beard. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Technical note: Once again I am using the 2.7MP Nikon D1H with the 24-120mm f3.5-5.6G VR AF-NIKKOR. Upped to ISO 1600, as usual, but this time decided to leave it in color mode, not B&W. I figure I could turn the shots into black and white if needed. But really, these shots were just resized in Microsoft Windows 7 Paint -- not even Ulead PhotoImpact or GIMP. So no color or contrast adjustments.

And I have to say that for a camera this old and DSLR generation 1.5, I am pretty impressed. I figured with all the noise that color shots would be crappy, but gee whiz, this early automatic white balance isn't bad -- I made NO in-camera adjustments, either. And that VR Vibration Reduction, some of these shots are handheld at 1/10th of a second -- and I can't hold a camera as steady as I used to when I was twenty and the king of available darkness Kodachrome slides... (grin)

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
So Friday the 2nd, the day before I drove to Penguicon, I had to make a quick stop at Chevy and get my transmission fluid level checked. The stuff is a pain to measure and they had to add some at the last oil change. You know me, I was going to check it before driving across the state. And right now clambering under the hood is very awkward. Anyway, it was fine.


Afterwards I decided on a field trip. Previously I'd been on the south side of the M-231 construction project. It's funny, I've never driven on Leonard Street west from 68th Avenue in Eastmanville, which is where M-231 would be. It's pretty country, rolling hills with an occasional glimpse of the Grand River. There's one spot I'll have to return to on a nice blue sky day. Looks like the Windows XP wallpaper. (grin) Or the battle fields in Star Wars Episode I. (double-grin)


As expected, there's a new overpass at Leonard. Originally there was supposed to be an interchange here, but it's really only maybe half a mile or so from I-96 and they widened 112th Avenue where it curves up to Exit 10. So because they keep on saving money on this project that should've been built decades ago, they cut the north side of the river interchange before I-96. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Now to look for the river crossing.

And there were cows.


Yup. I'm a cow. On 120th Avenue. As in ON 120th Avenue. About half a dozen cows were on the wrong side of the fence. The rains had created a little flooding and so a couple of fenceposts were down, hence the bovine breakout. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Cow. It's a different cow trotting along the side of the row. I didn't bother calling 9-1-1 because there were a couple of guys coming up the road in some 4-wheeler ATV. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The span over the Grand River on M-231 is not up.


There are piers in the river. It's a difficult crossing. The river is wide and there's quite a soft delta. I had seen the piers through the mud flats back on the first set of shots on 22 March. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


More on the south shore of the Grand River from the north shore. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


The little dead end I had shot from has a campground beyond the yellow gate in the photo above. Behind me was this cute little harbor. Having seen much larger harbors, this is so quiet and peaceful. Nice. Yeah, I don't do boats... (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

On the way back, the cows were all fenced in. As expected.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
Back in March I was able to score a double -- one of the coal unit trains and part of the M-231 construction (DW). Amazingly almost a month later I did it again.

On Easter Eve, while traveling from seeing Transcendence to the D&W gorcery store in Holland, I saw a pair of BNSF diesels heading slowly west along Lakewood Boulevard leading a full unit coal train -- as opposed to the southbound empties I had shot in March. I knew it was going slowly as it would have to take the cutoff to go north, so I kept going, but where to shoot?

Practically speaking I am all about the head end of trains, so I needed to be over the grade crossing, so that after I got my shot we could go on grocery shopping. After all, this is a long train, maybe 50-100 hopper cars. So there's a no-name gas station just past there, big modern slab of concrete and a convenience store.

Even better, it's right by the tight curve of the cutoff -- almost model railroad like. Lined up the Bravada, brought out the D100 and the 28-80mm f3.3-5.6G AF-NIKKOR and waited.


Here comes the train, tried to get the shot head-on. 75mm (about 105mm FX equivalent). (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


And close up of BNSF GE ES44AC 5964 at 28mm (42mm equivalent). If it looks like the locomotive is leaning away from me -- it is. Railroad curves have a superelevated outside rail. This was the hero shot of the cover of my Spring 2014 PHYS-1070 Final Exam [Form-B]. The A-exam used the shot from March. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


BNSF SD70ACe 9271. Trailing units aren't nearly as photogenic as lead locomotives, but we're counting coup here. Also, those overhangs on the back of both locomotives on the left? Those are the oversized radiators to deal with the waste heat from the massive turbocharged 4400hp and 4300hp diesels engines. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


When we parked at the grocery store, we were far enough back to see the coal crowned the open hopper cars. Here at trackside you can't tell they're full unless you inspect the springs on the trucks (wheel mountings, bogeys in Europe). Old coal hoppers had triangular chutes underneath and unloaded by opening the doors. These cars have round bottoms. At one end there's a rotary mounted coupler, so the cars are turned upside-down two-at-a-time to unload. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


When driving south to the movie, I spotted this covered hopper on the siding at the pet food elevator on US-31, so I stopped to shoot it after groceries. At 55mph, couldn't tell if this was a paint job or an elaborate graffiti tag. Appears to be the latter. But Acer UNIX Erase? It could have been an ad for an Acer computer, which comes with both Windows and Linux, where you choose which one to run. This is the standard three-quarters view favored by railfans. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


I moved the Bravada to get a better angle on the artwork. If you enlarge, I think you can guess that the Jetsons characters are tags, not commercial art. It's not too different from the previous shot, but there's a cool diagonal lens flare -- even without a lens hood, it's hard to get modern multicoated Nikon lenses to flare like older lenses. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


When the M-231 bypass around the Grand Haven US-31 lift bridge and Holland was first proposed, probably forty years ago, it was supposed to go from I-196 in the south to I-96 just north of a new Grand River crossing. Currently, if the Grand Haven lift bridge jams in the UP position, the detour is to 68th Avenue in Allendale -- a forty mile detour. The new as-built M-231 crossing will cut that in half when in gets finished in 2016.


View of M-231 construction looking north from M-45. You can see the overpass over Rich Street under construction in the distance. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Half a mile east of here they are widening the intersection with 120th Avenue which gets close to the US-31 freeway in Holland by the Chicago Avenue interchange. So the M-231 bypass doesn't actually connect with either US-31 or I-196 at the southern end.


Another way they're cheapening this project after farbling around for forty years putting it off is to make the southern end of M-231 just a grade level intersection with turn lanes under construction here, presumably with a traffic light at M-45. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Still, it is exciting to see progress on this. Next up, the northern end of the construction project.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-in-person)
So after the 4pm panel, I took a seat next to the walkway to another tower. Fired up the Kindle and sent some emails. Saw a Facebook message from Al Bogdan saying he was at Penguicon. Alas, he hadn't kept up with my posts and didn't know I was coming. Too late now.

On the way out...

The Gaming Room was set up in the airy, bright lobby lounge. What a great idea. Almost made me wish I had time to find a game of Cards Against Humanity or something fun. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


One last, fond look at Penguicon -- or at least that Delorean. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


And then into the sunshine and out on the open road. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

You can only be at one session at a time. And I wasn't doing the whole weekend this year. So I missed some things. Funny to think I was at a Linux/SF con and never made it to any Linux sessions, though I did get to a VR technology session and 1½ sessions on metallurgy.

One last comment. There were a couple of transgender and LGBTQ sessions, which alas conflicted with other things I wanted to see. But I felt like there was a welcoming atmosphere at Penguicon. I know, I know, don't judge books by covers and don't assume you know what others are experiencing. But at the two Penguicons I've been to, it's been a diverse crowd. Not just hackers and Linuxheads, not just the usual SF/F suspects -- there's a strong artistic bent, too, and a really wide range of people and dress and costumes. There was an older guy in a Tron suit -- lit up blue lines and everything. Older guy, someone's father, with a mustache. And another woman, who -- forgive me -- I swear was a cross-dressing man. What got me was that everyone was having a good time and no one cared.

Whether it's progress or not, I think it says something about 2014, the SF/F/Linux community and the unique annual madness that is Penguicon. Now if the 2015 con isn't during Grading Week...

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
It's down into the 60s now. But it was still about 80°F around West Michigan at 11pm. We have a slim line Sears air conditioner in the bedroom window. Once we used it to cool the bedroom and take the edge off the whole first floor. Or the fan to move air and provide pleasant white noise for sleeping -- in winter we use the humidifier for that -- and now that we have the heat pump for central air conditioning, we just use the fan. With just one day of heat, we chose not to fire up the heat pump. So I used canned air to clean the filter and the vents and put the fan on HI.

By bedtime it was still pretty close in the bedroom, so we spun the dial to AC on the window unit. Despite being around 15 years old and the compressor not run in maybe two years, it cooled like a champ.

Today's big activity was having our septic tank sucked clean. Oh joy. Seriously, living in the country you gotta do this from time to time. The septic service would like you to do every 3-4 years. We've done it every decade, just like clockwork. (grin) The last time was a week before Memorial Day and my first WisCon and two weeks before the 2004 Clarion workshop began.

Naturally, it rained.


Digging for the septic tank in a drizzle surrounded by our cheerful yellow flowers. My guess is that the berm was added after the house was built, resulting in the tank cover being deeper than usual. If we ever have to replace the septic tank, they won't do that. They also wouldn't use the kind of tank and cover we apparently have. Things change over twenty years, especially standards. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


The whole process was made easier because I had taken reference photos of the hole ten years ago when we last had it done. Yeah, ten years and ten years is a bit long. But we have a big tank and no children, which really cuts down on the load, so to speak. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


I guess the outside water faucet is turned on. The last time, or second-to-the-last-time that faucet was used was the last time we had our septic tank done. Just add water and stir. Glug, glug, glug. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


HAULED PRODUCTS - MADE IN MICHIGAN. Ah, that septic/sewer/outhouse smell -- nothing like it, even when you just get a whiff from thirty feet. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


This was all made easier because I had taken reference photos back on Monday 24 May 2004 with the tiny Sony DCS-U30 I had bought for Clarion. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Side view of the truck. Ten years ago it was another dreary, rainy day. Some things never change. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Another reference photo. While the grass is long, I'm not seeing a lot of twiggy weed stalks, so maybe I was still mowing. Sometimes. Maybe. Or maybe not. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Whole thing took less than an hour. And now, other than a little disturbed ground -- too small to be a body and anyway who buries the evidence in the FRONT yard -- we're good for another ten years. Or maybe a bit less. (grin) All this fun, for just $267. Don't you city kids wish you could do this?

Dr. Phil

One

Thursday, 8 May 2014 16:49
dr_phil_physics: (marrakesch-kate)
One day of summer?

It's 84°F in Allendale at just before 5pm. Sunny. Hazy. A bit humid. And the last temp in the 80s for at least a week.

Shot a couple pictures on the way home from PT this afternoon. All the shots with the Nikon D100 and the 80-200mm f4.5-5.6D AF-NIKKOR. This isn't the legendary 80-200mm f4.5 Zoom-NIKKOR, but a lightweight, compact, modern auto focus cousin. Not as robust as the Iron Lady of zooms, but optically its equal. With the flyweight 28-80mm f3.3-5.6G AF-NIKKOR and the plastic bodied D100, it makes for a light camera bag. Good for carrying when you have two canes.

The best part -- the camera and short zoom were a Christmas present (eversomuch thanks, Joe!) and the long zoom cost about $18 on eBay. All are in perfect operating condition. I love eBay.


The flowering trees between the PT clinic and Burger King in Allendale are about to erupt, but for now they're just the promise of flowers. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Fence line between fields on the west side of 84th Avenue -- it always amuses me to have streets and avenues in farm country. Where I first grew up they were called Roads in the rural county. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Angled or head on view? You choose. The focus point on this shot is not the fence post, but the tumble of bramble same as the previous shot. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


This forsythia bush... it was planted the first spring we were here, almost twenty years ago. Hole. Peat moss. Stick of a bush. Water -- once or twice. It almost died a few years ago -- ten? -- then came back more lush. And the last five or so covered in brilliant yellow flowers. We keep thinking the crocuses planted around had died, but every now and then in early spring we'll see them. So much for neglect. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


The daffodils have even a harder and shorter history than the forsythia -- there used to be tulips and crocuses in this little bed, too. But the last few years only the daffodils have come up. These guys got pounded by heavy rain the other night but have perked up. I guess getting run over by the front tires of UPS trucks all winter is good for them. It's not like we do any work on them. Or even water them. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

More spring pictures from last week to come -- including cows!

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-in-person)
Worst part about maneuvering through the throngs of people was the edge between tile and carpeted floor. It was thick enough that the lead wheel on the walker mostly missed the jump up. Annoying, as the edge was curved in an arc and had to be traversed several times to get through people.

I didn't try bellowing RAMMING SPEED! to see who got out of the way.

1400 How Did We Get Cool? The SFF Explosion on Screen Windover
Ernie Cline, Sean M. Davis, Michael Cieslak, Nicole Castle, Jim Leach, John Scalzi
--In a world where some of the most watched shows deal with SFF themes or have been adapted from SFF material (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, The Avengers et. al.) where does the "mainstream" line get drawn? Why is it suddenly acceptable for the SFF genre to be viewed? Has this translated over to the written word? Side question: why has mystery always been more or less accepted but SFF is a more recent explosion?

I came back into Windover just about 2pm. Alas, the obvious parking places for a bulky Dr. Phil and his widebody 777 of walkers were taken. So I wheeled up front, hoping to adjust a chair in the second row when someone graciously insisted I take the right side first row seat, where I could put my walker in front of me, out of the way.

Previously I had found that people were generous with space to a man with a cane. A walker? Man, you could write your ticket if you were a jerk -- I was just grateful. And happy to be able to be there at all.


Scalzi is an amusing host and an effective, if a bit hyper moderator. Pretty much ran a tight ship, trying to give everyone on a large panel time and reining in the talkative Ernie Cline. (grin) For a man who in the past has been obsessed with Coke Zero, what WAS in that green bottle with the label removed? Diet Dew? Well, it IS a LINUX Open Source con in part, and Mountain Dew IS the programmer's choice. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


A shared moment of levity. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Nichole Castle is an English professor. She's about to teach a course in the fall where the reading list is The Hunger Games and The Handmaid's Tale. Oooh COOL! Which is, I suppose, the point of this panel. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Jim Leach pointed out he has a philosophy degree to counter Nichole's English degree. Here he pleads his case on a point to Scalzi, who I should point out was a philosophy major at The University of Chicago, so can hold his own, when not being amusing or charming. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Ernie Cline excitedly talking about everything. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

1500 Why Do We Love The 80s? Windover
Ernie Cline, Ferrett Steinmetz, Angie Rush
--Our GoH Ernie Cline discusses the Greatest Decade Ever, its role in his creative work, and why we still have a soft spot for it, 30 years later.


Ernie made it back in time (grin), having run out just before the panel because of some pictures with his Delorean. (double-grin) I wonder if I could even FIT in the driver seat of a Delorean. Anyway, the author of Ready Player One was talking about his growing up in the 80s, ages 7-17, and how he thought only people from the 80s would love his book. Instead, kids today read it as an ebook with a browser open to pick up all the references. Ah, living in the future. And Ernie talks with his hands. (double-handed-grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


I hadn't taken any audience shots, partly, as you could see here, I was still fighting the lighting. Partly because with my mobility issues, hard to turn around. All the panels I went to were well attended. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

1600 What About The Happily Ever After? Hamlin
Jim Leach, Ferrett Steinmetz
--There was an insane Internet reaction to the Red Wedding from those who were watching Game of Thrones but hadn't read it (to the reader's delight). Is this indicative of an expectation among television and movie audiences that established characters survive? Has Hollywood created the expectation of a happy ending, even in the harshest of fictional environments? Is it more acceptable to kill off a character in print? How do these expectations differ amongst genre fiction?

Up to the second floor for the last session of the day for me -- I figured 5-ish was a good starting time for the drive home. Keep it mostly in daylight.

So... Game of Thrones Red Wedding episode on HBO, ending Season 3 as I understand things, was the Wedding Guests From Hell. Sort of like the evil emperor in Heavy Metal, "The boy dies, the girl dies, everybody dies. Die, die, die." Or something like that.

Do we need happily ever after? (I am NOT going to say, "Do we need happy endings?" Nope. Not going there.)


Small room, Jim Leach and Ferrett Steinmetz sitting comfortably apart, kicking back and having a great late afternoon panel. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Though the panel wasn't all about Game of Thrones, the majority of the audience was familiar with books, show, both -- or in my case, much of the buzz and at that point, half of book one. (grin) Ferrett warned that there'd be spoilers abound -- we had been warned.


Ferrett making a point, while munching a cookie, looked like. He asked two questions at different times. First, how many were upset that Joffrey bought it in the Purple Wedding at the opening of Season 4? No hands raised. Uh-huh. Second, how many people think George RR Martin is going to neatly finish the series -- books or TV? Zero. Oh, interesting. (Click on photo for larger***.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And then it was time to hit the bathroom, then the road. After hours in dark rooms, the sun was pouring into the west glass wall of the front of the Westin.

Dr. Phil

*** Ferrett had posted that his pretty princess nails for Penguicon were awesome -- they were Spiderman. And they were. Enlarged grainy/noisy B&W doesn't do them justice. (grin)
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-in-person)
Other than driving to work, which isn't trivial in my case, especially with THIS winter, the day trip to Southfield MI was my first long solo drive and my first con in over a year. Thing is, I have the typical-photographer's lament -- never any pictures of me -- so one goal I had was to publish a Proof of Life photo.

My usual photographer, 2004 Clarion and 2008 WOTF friend Al Bogdan, wasn't around. Turned out later he WAS at Penguicon, but he apparently didn't bother to read my blog saying I was planning to come and I'd asked if he was. And we never spotted each other. Thwarted.

So before I left the Cory Doctorow reading, I asked the guy nearest to me if he'd mind taking my picture.


It's always tough to hand a camera off to a random stranger and hope the settings and automation can handle it. I've mentioned the harsh lighting conditions and there were ceiling spot lights over my row and I was all the way up to 1/100th of a second, so you have this wide dynamic range, an early professional DSLR ramped up two stops beyond the highest normal ISO setting. The result clearly shows Dr. Phil, but it's a little harsh. I tried to tilt up the hat so as to not mask my eyes, but I couldn't NOT have a hat on at a con! Back in the day of wet photography, I'd be masking and dodging -- I'm not trying to do that in Ulead PhotoImpact. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

One thing I didn't see in either the lovely main program or the compact session and grid schedules was any mention of hotel WiFi. I had thought of powering up haiku on Friday, our Verizon pay-as-you-go credit card sized 3G hot spot, but decided against it. And I couldn't remember if the Westin Southfield's website had said free WiFi or not. And of course, checking the webpage was out... (grin)

I'd thrown the Kindle Fire HD into my messenger bag, leaving it in airplane mode. So in between morning sessions, I'd turned on the WiFi, selected the Westin site -- and the signal indicator still had an X in it. Must be a paid WiFi. Sigh.

So after Cory's reading and wresting with the stiff spring on the door to the restroom with two handicapped stalls -- I am learning SO much about how "good" ADA compliance is -- I decided to stop by Ops and ask about the WiFi situation. Nick at Ops was super on top of things.

If I hadn't been on the WiFi settings screen, I might have realized that the hotel just had the usual sort of Terms of Use gateway page. Just hadn't been out in public with the Kindle much. (grin)


Nick went for the dramatic pose and up tight on him at 24mm (35mm FX equivalent), the wide angle made for a decent image. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I had two more questions for Nick. Do you always wear a suit? Yes. I wasn't trying to insult him, but at most cons I've been to, someone in a neat suit coat works for the hotel -- it was very chic and professional in appearance. Second, is that a Burning Man lapel pin? YES.

Turns out Nick runs the Burning Man Post Office. Come the end of August, you can send mail to Burning Man at ZIP+4 Code 89412-0149. Really. How cool is that? I promised to send him a postcard.

Anyway, armed with new information, I sought lunch. Now when I came in I passed a bar set up in the front walkway connecting the lobby with the first floor conference rooms. At 1:15pm it was getting busy. A small sheet in front of one unit said it was a Bar and Grille, then listed a few items like hot dogs. With prices in Tickets.

Now I can understand that in the chaos of uneven demand loads, not handling money is clever, especially considering how dirty money is. But folks, if you're going to charge tickets, you need to make it obvious where you're going to BUY tickets. And in the crush of people, navigating with the wide body 777 of walkers, I couldn't see said money exchange point, nor any signs directing me to same and I wasn't going to randomly wander.

Next up -- I did see a kiosk with a sign proclaiming they served Starbucks coffee and Boar's Head Meat sandwiches. Now we're talking. The sign out front said a roast beef sandwich with avocado was $4.95 or so. Great. Except on Saturday they weren't doing sandwich service. I guess they were being smart, by not competing with the grille right outside the door. But would it hurt to put up a sign saying No Sandwich Service today? Hell, for all I know, maybe the person behind the counter who said no sandwiches today sold Tickets. (evil-grin)

So, third attempt at lunch -- the hotel restaurant. Now there were signs pointing out that Gaming and Paint-and-Take, or something like that, had swapped space and the latter was now in the restaurant. Hopefully that was just PART of the restaurant. (hungry-grin) Anyway, the restaurant was open and it was pretty slammed. And here I was with a walker and wanting a table for one.

I pointed out a free table for two in the middle along an angled wall to the step-up level, with enough open space that me and my walker could be reasonably out of the way. From the posted menu outside, I already knew what I wanted -- the cheeseburger, no onions, Coke and fries with sea salt. Not cheap, but comfortable and out of the lobby chaos.

Opened up the Kindle Fire HD to send Mrs. Dr. Phil an email saying I'd arrived safely and all. Decided to send a Proof of Life photo from the Kindle:

This is where the previously posted picture of Dr. Phil and the antennaed hostess come in -- shot on my Kindle Fire HD.
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And by the time lunch was done, it was time to scurry off to the 2pm session.

The restaurant staff was slammed and cheerful, and the food was great. I left them a nice tip. Always want to encourage the con hotel. (satisfied-grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-in-person)
One complaint I would have with Penguicon, was that there were differences between the online spreadsheet schedule and the printed schedule. And the session descriptions weren't keyed to the schedule. In other words, the Linux open source and SF con didn't update their server.

But... my prelabs from home had enough in common to get me started. Having pulled in at 9:19am, got out the walker, the shorter four-point cane with the hooked handle that stays put on the roll bar better, grabbed camera bag, day bag, keys, etc. Once inside, the registration line was short and I was on my way.

0900 Adventures in Metallurgy Algonquin D
Ron Demerino
--What does the CIA have in common with dinosaur extinction? They have a great metallurgical story behind them! Come hear some great stories from Professor Ron, followed by Q&A.
1000 Harrowing Tales in Metallurgy Algonquin D
--Christmas Interruptus? Narcs on a bus? (Nope! They are engineers) Professor Ron relates more great tales from his career, followed by Q&A.


Ron Demerino holding Metallurgy class - "If you were in my class you'd know..." (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

In both sessions, there were (a) a number of Michigan Tech grads, as was Ron, and (b) a bunch of his former students. Of course, I did grad school at Tech, but many of you don't know that when I started grad school there wasn't yet a PhD in Applied Physics, so I did take courses and flunked the PhD qual exam for the PhD in Metallurgy (Physics of Solids option).


2nd session had great stories. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

One of his stories involved the overtorquing of bolts. He explained why tire irons are so short and whether anyone ever used the right tool. I, of course, raised my hand. When I bought the Suburban in 1979, the manual said tire lug nuts needed to be torqued to 100 ft-lbs, so I bought a Sears Craftsman Digitorq socket wrench. Really impressed Ron. Even more so, I told the tale of the breaker bar that I saw a mechanic use on an oil filter wrench. Torque = Force × radius. Lesson taught, lesson learned.

Ah, these are my people... (grin)

1100 Virtual Reality: Fact vs Fiction Windover
Ernie Cline, Ed Mason
--With the Oculus Rift being bought by media giant Facebook, the cautionary tales of science fiction seem closer than ever to reality. Join authors Ernie Cline and John Scalzi, and Android VR creator Gameface Labs, as they talk about where our communal virtual fantasy is headed.

One of the first books I read in the hospital after I was ready to concentrate on books, was Ready Player One by Ernie Cline. I knew he was a GoH at Penguicon and this was his first talk.


Ed and Ernie squaring off. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Lest you think the computer end of VR was neglected, Ed Mason of Gameface held up his end with (1) a charming British accent and (2) hardware to show off.

There was a lot of discussion of the history of video games and how VR setups would change how we see movies. Not sure I care about those uses, but VR is coming and it's cool tech.


They passed around the Gameface set twice -- once with a CGI scene and another with a vista over a parking lot crowd at an event. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Move your head, side to side, up and down, and the view changes. This new VR helmet/goggles is wireless, which really makes the lightweight thing work pretty good.


One big obstacle is GLASSES. It's not enough to have a diopter adjustment -- my astigmatism means that circles aren't circular without correction and I HATE THAT in graphics. You can also see the awful lighting conditions I was shooting under. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Afterwards, Ed Mason was quite a hit -- he showed that the one thing on the front wasn't a button, but a peephole cover. Someone said there should be two -- Ed said coming. They are looking at a release in September 2014 at a $500 price point. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

1200 A Special Reading By Cory Doctorow Windover
--A sneak peek at an untitled, in-progress novel for adults, that is something of a prequel to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, in the vein of Makers. You’ll be the first people apart from Cory himself to come into contact with this material!

I have not read Down and Out, but the reading from the first chapter of a new novel, a century or so before, is delightful. Such words! Such images painted. It's called Utopia, and he's been writing a thousand words/day over the last month. Never been read aloud or even reread by Cory.

Penguicon runs a bit looser on time than other cons, so Cory wanted to wait a bit before reading, so did Q&A before and after. I got the first question -- a continuation of a question I asked Cory at a kaffeklatch at another con a few years ago. What's the status of Cory's xkcd balloon? Randall has never created any fantasy bigger than the thought of Cory blogging from a balloon. He's terrified of heights, pinned against the wall on the open air observation deck of the Empire State Building -- and a wicker basket under a balloon is nothing but the ledge over a great height. (double-jeopardy-grin)


Also here.


Q&A: Are you a plotter or a panster? I'm a heuristic writer. Need the rush. Once wrote 80,000 words into /bin/usr/god (the perfect titles for a Linux/SF con) and got stuck. Tried to write more scaffolding by outlining -- couldn't get back on to it. Only project never finished. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Once video cameras were used to shoot video. Now increasingly people are shooting video with DSLR and other digital still cameras. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And then it was 1pm -- time to wander.

Dr. Phil

Penguicon 12.0

Monday, 5 May 2014 02:10
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-in-person)
And as promised... some pictures.

So, Saturday I drove across the width of Michigan to get to Penguicon 12 for a day. Just over three hours there and just under three hours back -- I gassed in the morning at "the usual" gas station, BP in Portland at Exit 77 on I-96. For some reason, i.e. I don't know Detroit as well as I'd like, I keep thinking Southfield should be on the south side, by Dearborn or Detroit Metro Airport. Instead, it's an easy drive, I-96 to I-696 to M-10 to 10 Mile Road. The last time I was on the M-10, it was all bombed out. Now it's beautiful, new concrete. Smooth and 70 mph. That's a relief since they're usuing M-10 as a detour around a major section of I-96 they're ripping apart and rebuilding this summer.

Off the highway, cross over, make a funky pair of RIGHT turns around a triangular intersection to make a LEFT turn, and we're there.

The Westin Southfield was the con hotel. I could see it nestled between some tall buildings. The handicapped spots directly by the main entrance were full, but from the Google satellite view, I knew there were more a little further on. No problem -- except there wasn't a great ramp to get the walker up the curb.

How did I know I was at the right hotel? Easy, there's a familiar stainless steel silhouette parked out front...

Ernie Cline's Ghostbusters Back to the Future Delorean. I think there's some Buckaroo Bonzai thrown in there, too. Ernie is the author of Ready Player One. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I eventually sent Mrs. Dr. Phil an email, as I sat down to lunch. So I decided to include a picture. It's easy to snap yourself with the Kindle Fire HD and upload to Gmail. Just as I was about to snap the picture, there was a flash of light purple behind me. The restaurant's hostess had fuzzy antennae -- I called her back and she happily joined my picture.


I am always amused that the screen can flash bright white for a flash in dim lighting. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And the lighting WAS dim. The Westin Southfield was the darkest, most unevenly lit con hotel I've ever been in. I normally shoot the Nikon D1H with the 24-120mm f3.5-5.6G VR AF-NIKKOR at ISO 1600 in B&W mode at cons. The results are grainy, but in a way that looks like the old 35mm 1600 ASA Kodak 2475 High Speed Recording Film. But that wasn't enough. I had to boost two more stops to the HI-2 custom setting -- reminds me of the UO Unsafe Optimization setting on the FTN FORTRAN compiler for the CDC-6600 back at Northwestern -- which makes horrible color photos. Thankfully, I'm shooting black & white, and so ISO 6400 can be made to work.


Cory Doctorow waiting for his computer to boot before his noon reading. Shot wide open at 120mm f5.6 (180mm FX equivalent) and STILL I could only get 1/25th of a second shutter speed. Thankfully the D1H is stable and heavy, and the Nikon VR Vibration Reduction is pretty amazing. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And then it was time to go home.

Backed down to ISO 200. Cline drives his Delorean all over -- note the Texas plates. I asked him if it was an original or one of the "new" ones built from leftover parts. It's an original. How does it drive? Surprisingly well. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

On the way in, the rains were pretty much gone -- 2 or 3 times I had to put the delay wipers on the lowest setting, and I had to use the washer a couple of times since the rain wasn't heavy enough to wash off the dust from newly plowed fields.

Westbound it was windy and in the 50s, but the big puffy clouds blocked the bright sun most of the time. Clear roads, little traffic.

This is about twenty minutes into the drive, so it's probably I-96 not I-696. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I had no troubles driving and it felt good. Heck, I didn't even put on the radio all day. I am so glad I made it to Penguicon this year, even if it wasn't even for a whole day.

More anon...

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
The sun came out in bursts and fits -- but not when I was taking any pictures. (grin)

This week's Worst Chefs in America featured Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay trying to teach the cooks to make Eggs Benedict. Mrs. Dr. Phil said she wished she had the Grand Coney's Eggs Benny Florentine. I said that on Saturday, we'd go out for breakfast at Grand Coney's in Allendale, then head off to the noon showing of Divergent at the Holland 7.

We don't go out for breakfast.


Curled up in a cute little booth way in the back that I can actually fit in, I had my usual, what I call a Two-Eyed Texan. Pancakes, 2 eggs over easy that will sit atop the cakes and bacon. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Staying seated, I didn't have a good angle on Mrs. Dr. Phil's Benny Florentine, especially with the plate of seasoned waffle fries in front and a lens that only goes out to 28mm (42mm FX equivqlent), so I took a second shot. The fries we snuck into the movies with us. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Around 11:22am, heading south on US-31, I spotted one of the unit coal trains running empty from the big coal power plant.

I never get to photograph trains these days.

I eventually pulled ahead, took a side road, turned around and recrossed the grade crossing. But the train was already sounding its horn, so I continued on south, worried that the tracks would head off away from US-31 before I could get into position.

Then I remembered the pet food elevator. Big gravel lot, and the tracks just start to curve away. So I pulled in, got out the Nikon D100, reset it from ISO 1600 that I'd used at the restaurant, down to ISO 200, to maximize the image despite the crappy overcast light. And then I did something I rarely do -- put the camera on Continuous instead of Single. I hadn't tested the D100 on "full auto" firing before.

The D100 shoots at 3 frames per second, but it may be closer to 2.5 fps with just one Li ion battery, and a buffer only 6 frames deep. I checked the specs when I got home. Lucky I only fired a 6 frame burst. (grin) The heavier old pro Nikon DSLRs I have are faster and have larger memory buffers (D1 -- 4.5 fps for 21 frames, D1X -- 3 fps for 27 frames, D1H -- 5fps for 40 frames) and I get spoiled by their response. Honestly, for my shooting 20-40 frames at up to 5 fps is fine for me.




First four frames, approaching the grade crossing. I like the composition of Frame 4, but for railfanning, I need more of a classic three-quarters view. (Click on photos for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Frame 5: Just a tad early but the lead locomotive is pretty visible. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


4000hp BNSF EMD SD70MAC 9764 and 4300hp BNSF EMD SD70ACe 9167. The ACe replaced the MAC, meeting the EPA Tier 2 diesel emissions, while picking up some horsepower. So the trailing locomotive is newer. In case you care. (grin)
Frame 6: This is why I don't use motor drives to just crank off frames willy-nilly. I've just clipped the front pilot and handrails of the lead locomotive. If I was panning and composing for the One True Shot, I would've fired at about Frame "5.5".
(Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


On the way home, I decided to take 120th Avenue north of M-45. There'd been signs for construction and road closed on Rich Street west of 120th and I suspected this was due to the M-231 construction project. I was right.

Continued up to North Cedar, the back road from 104th Avenue to US-31 in Grand Haven. And just west of 120th I could see a shiny new overpass for M-231.


Turned into the construction entrance to see if I could see the actual crossing for the Grand River. Looking at the maps later, I should have tried the even further back road to find the south shore of the Grand River. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


The lens I had only went out to 80mm (120mm FX equivalent). This isn't the bridge over the Grand River per se, but the elevated structure over the bayou lands, as far as I can tell. The actual bridge will look like this https://www.michigan.gov/images/mdot/MDOT_231BridgecropWeb_337278_7.jpg . (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


North Cedar Drive overpass. Without the M-231 highway yet. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The M-231 bypass will be really helpful if the US-31 lift bridge jams open in Grand Haven. Right now this is a 40 mile detour via 68th Avenue in Allendale. The M-231 crossing will cut that in half and provide one more river crossing. It's still a few years away from being finished, after decades of not being funded by the state. This iteration of the project was started twenty years ago when we first moved into our house -- we might've been in the construction zone if they'd chosen the 84th Avenue corridor crossing. (grin)

Anyway, all in all, a good day.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
First Test Images

I took a couple of minutes before going home to look at the first two pictures I took with the D100R. Actually, they're kind of interesting -- I rendered them in black & white, but there's no question this is infrared photography. (grin)


Annotated "first light" image. I popped on the built-in pop-up electronic flash to see if it contributed anything in the IR band and to even out the light, since there was strong sunlight coming in from the window at the left.
(1) This is a black neoprene camera case for the Nikon F4s.
(2) This is my black Chicon 7 WorldCon cap.
(3) This is a burgundy sweater.
(4) This is a brown sweatshirt.

©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Similar shot, but this time only with the natural light from the window. Note how overexposed the white Priority Mail box is.
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Things are clearly not what they seem when you change the wavelength! And yes, I know that the D1 series CCDs are also sensitive to UV light -- and someday I'll get a D1X converted to UV, but that's a bigger project, because most lenses are not suitable for UV use.

Dr. Phil

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