dr_phil_physics: (hal-9000)
The Allendale Telephone Company -- renamed several times due to mergers -- sounds like a podunk, small time operation. But it isn't. Because of GVSU in Allendale, there's always been money to keep the system high tech with excellent uptime. When DSL became available out where we were, we joined up. Kept it at the lowest guaranteed rate, but most days we get excellent throughput. Good enough to download 200MB printer drivers and do Netflix streaming, and play music and podcasts online. Oh sure, some Friday nights we can't watch a movie due to what we figure is all the kids on our subnet playing some massive online game plus a movie. (grin) But considering the quality (snort) and lack of concern about security, there is no way I'd ever hook up to a cable modem around here.

Next year we are supposed to be upgraded to fiber optics cable and we'll upgrade the phone, Internet and quite possible tell the cable TV company to take a hike.

Last night we had no DSL. We flipped off the powerstrip that has the DSL modem and the WiFi boxes a couple of times. WiFi came up. DSL modem came up and with the appropriate number of steady and blinking lights. Just no DSL Internet access.

We could've called Aventec -- the current company name -- but of course the system has been reliable so I'd have to look it up on the webpage. Oh, darn. Fortunately Mrs. Dr. Phil had the latest bill and we still get an Allendale phonebook from Aventec, so we did in fact have the numbers.

But last night we really didn't have a pressing need. We read books. Watched the Cubs beat up on the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLDS. Had some Food Network.

In the morning, still no go. So Mrs. Dr. Phil called the local office when they opened at 8 and they reset the DSL. Everything is fine.

This is the second time in the years we've had DSL that they office had to reset the connection. Other minor DSL outages resolve themselves in a few hours. And, we could've called the service numbers last night if we'd wanted to. Basically, we've been pretty pleased with our DSL service.

Before we had the DSL, we used a jack splitter and ran a 25-foot RJ-11 phone line around the corner and across the living room to either our laptops or the Micron mid-tower PC at the desk. 28.8K modem from 1996 to when we got DSL/WiFi...

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal


Sunday, 16 August 2015 17:48
dr_phil_physics: (red-haven-peaches)
31 days of August.

That makes August 15½th, a few hours ago, the halfway point.

In just a little over three weeks we will have Labor Day. And the next day classes begin again at Western Michigan University. The grind begins anew.

It is a beautiful August day here in West Michigan. The sky is blue. The temperature is 89°F, once again Not Ninety. At least so far.

Under other circumstances I would be out with my cameras and long lenses, maybe over at the crowded lakeshore. Or chasing trains, except it's Sunday.

At home, though, it is August bug noise season. The last few nights when I have gone to bed after 4am, the bugs have still be going -- and loud enough that I think the bedroom window needs to be closed. But it is closed.

Every morning I check my temperature. But the new Walgreen's thermometer I got a few weeks ago beeps so quietly, I had to do a repeat to try to hear its DONE tone, because the bugs outside were so loud.

Right now I have headphones on and Mrs. Dr. Phil has Bluetoothed her Kindle Fire HDX to Echo and is playing podcasts while she cooks. And I can still hear the bugs.


There are reasons why we haven't mowed the yard in over ten years...

And we have peaches. Flaming Furies and Red Havens. And big local tomatoes.


It's lovely.

It's August.

It's summer.

Limited availability, your mileage will vary, check your newspaper for current listings, offer not valid in all fifty states...

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

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
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
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
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

< 3

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 13:35
dr_phil_physics: (good-gulf)
Gas was $3.63.9/gallon today in Allendale. Except that's not what I paid.

Family Fare ran Yet Another Gas Coupon deal over the weekend, but instead of 50¢ off per gallon for buying $75 or more of groceries, they had a coupon for $2.99.9/gal Regular if you spent over $100.

There was a time when $100 for groceries was hard to do. And you would have an army of bags to bring in the house. Now, not so much, even for just a pair of people with no kids and no pets at the present time.

Still, it wasn't easy, since it excludes some items and this week was a light grocery week. I think Mrs. Dr. Phil said we made it by $5. (grin)

Also, as good as 64¢ off was, it wasn't quite as good a deal as one could get, because it was only for Regular 87 octane. I usually put 89 octane Midgrade in the Blazer. Still, a tank o' the cheap stuff won't hurt it. Although saying one is paying under three bucks a gallon at $2.99.9 is pushing it a bit.

Still, I'm not complaining about Family Failure's marketing efforts. By and large their captive gas station's prices are the same as Mobil, Admiral and Speedway in town -- and Allendale is usually cheaper than Wayland and Grand Rapids -- and the quality is good, we're going to buy most of our groceries there, so why not take advantage of their coupons? You can always get some sort of discount coupon when you buy enough groceries, with tiers to get you 5¢, 10¢, 15¢, etc. off per gallon. And about every two-three weeks recently they've had one of the 50¢ off per gallon coupons, which are good across all three grades.

I wouldn't mind the current gas prices so much if the gas tax for roadway construction and maintenance had kept up with inflation. We're actually driving about the same, I heard recently, but as gas mileage goes up -- those pesky CAFE standards that the frothies claim can never possibly work *** -- we're actually not burning as much gas.

But no, we couldn't possibly bump up the gas tax to reflect the new realities of driving plus the overdue bill from decades of deferred maintenance. ESPECIALLY in an election year.

To his credit, Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) has been trying to find $1-1.5 billion to really make a dent in Michigan's road repair backlog. Alas, the legislature is working on $300-500 million, which they will tout as a final solution, even though it still ends up putting us at a net loss in maintenance. Sigh.

And so the gas prices jump up and down at whim, and the oil companies rake in massive profits -- totally outside their control they say -- in a mockery of reasonableness.

Oh, and a holiday driving weekend approacheth...

Dr. Phil

*** It is true that to get higher gas mileage, either you have to go to a smaller car or pay more for more technology. However, increased demand for and practical technologies for automobile safety have also driven up prices, so it's hard to tell by how much they've gone up to save some gas. For small hybrids, the increased functional gas mileage over the same car without the hybrid tech won't result in any savings -- you'd have to own for a long time and drive a whole lot of miles to recoup the investment. But... if the goal is to use less fuels, then we can talk. After all, wasteful technology is usually cheaper in the initial cost outlay, but the damage is long term.
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
It Ain't Over Yet

But the flooding through the floor is reduced. ServPro came at 9am this morning and proceeded to remove some thirty years of my life -- or at least vast chunks of it -- from the office and storage room. And then they removed the sodden carpets from the kitty room and the office. Frankly, the bill at this stage isn't bad. I think from the lead guy's comments that most people balk at the charges, especially at the weekend emergency rates. But with Finals Week here, doing this on a Sunday when I could glance at the materials coming out and pull the few things and treasures before the rest was discarded, $650 for 3½ hours of work by crew of two -- cheap. Because we couldn't have physically done it, nor had the capacity to dispose of it. Really.

On the other hand...

What was once a couple of nice cozy rooms downstairs is now a mixture of barren yuck. We don't know yet what can be done to minimize a repeat of this disaster -- we both know that it can never be totally eliminated. Not with this house on this ground.

Tons of soggy trash pulled out, in piles, bags and boxes, included years of clip files -- newspaper and magazine articles that I was always going to go back to. Of course, in 2013, if I get a notion about any of these ideas I can use Der Google and often find what I was looking for without any kind of massive search.

And I found right off the bat a couple of things that I was looking for, so good for that.

But, I've lost:

-- Much of my Collection of archaic and ancient software boxes.

-- Years and years of beautiful National Geographics. Also some Byte and PC Magazines that would have interest only for comparative LookAtThat! value.

-- An old box that had my original boxes for much of my 1980s era Nikon cameras -- The Nikon F3 (times two), lenses, Speedlights, etc.

-- My college era collection of inappropriate magazines. Ah, misspent youth and research.

-- Bunches of waterlogged electronic parts for old projects, like putting a IBM PS/2 motherboard in an original IBM PC case, big external 5.25" floppy drives (both IBM and Zenith), a couple of spare monitors, tubes of 64KB and 2556KB memory chips.

-- Boxes of 5.25" and 3.5" floppy disks, and bunches of microcasettes from conferences and classes in the 80s and early 90s. Most of the data is available on other media. Hopefully.

-- Lecture notes from Hope College, GVSU and my early years at WMU. Some class notes from college and grad school. Presentations given on overhead transparencies, both LaserJet and colored markers on the old infrared sheets. A number of books.

We are living in half a house. Permeated with the odd scent of a hospital grade disinfectant to discourage bacterial growth from all that groundwater. There's stuff on the floors upstairs that never should be up here, stuffing the place to the gills. Several bookcases left downstairs whose contents are still on their shelves -- we may lose many more books to come, but there's no place to store them, even in boxes. So many boxes disposed of in haste by necessity.

Yes, We're Grateful, Dammit!

Just in West Michigan, let alone the Midwest, there are people who are REALLY flooded. Wiped out. Cars left floating in the middle of the street. We know this is minor, that things can be replaced -- or forgotten about again because we were never really going to go back to them. That we can make the downstairs nice enough again.

We're glad that we hadn't succumbed to getting a new fleet of kittens already, because all this chaos downstairs and overcrowding upstairs would be SO difficult with little brainless stupid silly ACTIVE kittens. (sad sly grin)

But the upstairs is nice and dry, and should the flood waters reach inside our first floor, then West Michigan will all be underwater.

We will survive.

Round Two begins once the place stops flooding and we can begin the process of drying it up. Later this week?

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Flood Report

We've been in a steadily losing battle for some days now. For a basement that's never had a serious leak before, water has come in from all over. Some water came in under the back door. And the water table had to have come up to the level of the house because the little cracks in foundation were leaking.

The office carpet was saturated early on -- it connects to a low point with the furnace room floor, so as that flooded, under the wall the water went. Or maybe there was a source there. Many, many boxes and bags of stored papers and things are now awaiting disposal.

The "kitty room" has never had water. A little leaked in from the wall with the furnace room. But then a big wet spot appeared in the middle of the floor -- another under floor leak? And now both carpeted rooms are supersaturated.

Thursday I went out and got a second wet vac. TruValue of Allendale said they had just one, an 18 gallon ShopVac, but then called me right back and said they had one 5 gallon unit as well. I told them to hold the latter for me, but when I got there I looked at the big unit. So much better construction -- with wheels set with a "wide stance" so it can't fall over like the old 5 gallon unit can. AND it has a front drain so it squat over the sump pump and pee into it. No brainer to get it, an outdoor extension cord if we needed it, and a second pair of ear muffs for Mrs. Dr. Phil to use -- My shooting muffs have always been good for lawn mowers and using shopvacs indoors.

The deepest part of the water anywhere was maybe an inch. No more than ¼" anywhere else. And several places never got wet. But something was filling the sump pump and Thursday and Friday it was going off every 15-20 minutes. Our estimate is that it triggers at 10 gallons. So we're still talking about a prodigious amount of water in a place where we silly humans don't think we'll ever see it.

But we weren't winning. Not even holding our own. Worried about the big accordion fold paper air filter on the furnace, which is on the bottom.

Still... one source of smell in the basement was an old cardboard set of drawers that my parents must have bought in the 50s. It got soaked and once it was put outside, things got a lot better.

Friday didn't add too much to the rain totals, but never have I had a day with 6 or 7 rounds of heavy graupel -- my favorite kind of snow. (grin) Graupel is fun -- it bounces -- and just doesn't add much water. Called into ServPro -- finally -- and left a message.

Left a 2nd message 22 hours later here on Saturday morning and got an almost immediate callback. AND they have a crew freed up for tomorrow morning at 9. To be able to clean out the junk and to get a decision to dry or pull the carpet by tomorrow is a huge relief.

More anon.

Dr. Phil

Basement Flooding

Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:13
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Never Been This Bad

Basement flooding is worst ever by orders of magnitude. The office carpet is saturated. Used shop vac to vacuum standing water -- 50-55 gallons so far. We'll have to hire professionals when the rains finally abate.

Didn't Go To Work Today

We didn't even know about the basement yet. But US-131 southbound was closed at Dorr early on due to a wreck and water over the highway. All my possible detours are on roads more prone to flood.

And compared to many parts of the region, let alone the country, this isn't even "bad" here.


Have I mentioned that tomorrow is the last day of class and finals are next week?

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
Flowing Onward

On Saturday, when I took some of the pictures in the previous post (DW), I'd been told by Mrs. Dr. Phil to vacate the house for an hour, or better an hour-and-a-half, while the decks were swabbed. That's why I had the Nikon D1, and with some time to wander and adequate, but not great light, decided to check on the flooding Grand River.

This is from LaMont on the Bluff, looking down on Grand River (distant) and its flood plain (foreground). (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Closer to the water, this is where the Old M-45 river crossing used to be, before the new bridges and the Allendale boulevard construction. These properties always flooded in the past. There's a house and driveway in there somewhere. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Another view -- you can see the other end of Old M-45 on the other bank. It now has a parking area which I believe is used by the GVSU crew team. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

When I got home, I was surprised to realize that the daffodils were seriously emerging. Not sure if any of the crocuses by the forsythia across the front yard are still there. Or whether we'll see any sign of the stunted tulip plants in this same patch. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Also, as of Tuesday, it's officially Spring as the peepers are making merry in the high waters of their swampy drain ditches and swamps.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
All Last Week

Heavy rains. I feel like I may squish through the carpeting and have mushrooms pop up between my toes -- though today (Tuesday) it was dry and mostly sunny during the day. By Friday, it was reported that Lake Michigan rose two inches. The whole lake.

Showing area of 5"+ of rain -- centered on Allendale. Okay, so it wasn't our imagination.

We were surprised to see not just dampness along the edge of the basement, but actually puddles. Worst "flooding" in fifteen years. Towels and a fan blowing for several days now. Despite the nice day today, the soaking rains last night plus the saturation levels have kept up the damp. Dammit, it was almost dry this morning! (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Thursday, the lake is forming in the neighbor's front yard. While we have some water standing amongst our pines, they pulled their trees and tried to make a lawn without raising the ground. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The lake on Saturday. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Another view. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

While driving around on Saturday, I missed photographing the dad and his two boys further down the road -- the boys were young, but had knee high rubber boots and were stomping and wading through their lake. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

More to come.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Pretty Much A Miss

If it seems that all I am blogging about is the weather, it is because my long commute dominates my weekday life. Friday afternoon and all day Saturday we were in a Winter Weather Advisory and in the middle of the lake effect snow patterns -- up to a foot. By the time I got home on Friday, the snow falling outside the garage looked to be in layers -- each layer at a different distance was falling slowly at a different angle. Neat. While there were times we were in heavy horizontal snow on Saturday, the sun came out and the snows stopped. The persistent lake effect snow bands were just south of us. The region got anywhere from 0.4" to 16" of snow -- we only got a couple of inches of light very dry snow.

But... even though every time I mention the weather someone else is really getting clobbered, the real problem around here has been the ice. And here my classes are getting a real lesson in coefficients of friction.

Saturday the temps were in the upper 20s, but dropped overnight. By midnight is was down to 9°F. 1°F at 2am. 0°F by 3am until at least 7am. Then the warm up. 16°F at 10am and 26°F Sunday afternoon. The winds and the sun dried the roads in Allendale. Pale blue skies and pale clouds that looks airbrushed with no hard edges up until about 4pm.

This shed is in the middle of the asparagus fields near 68th Avenue. When I saw it at 3:50pm, there was blue sky and you could really see the two snowmobile tracks splitting around the shed. Alas, I should ALWAYS listen to my inner artistic demon and turned around right then and there. After I did my errands at Walgreens, I came out to gray skies which ruined the look. The lack of sun cut the edges of the tracks and the darkening skies dropped the shutter speeds. Though I did shut off the engine to shoot this shot, at 300mm (450mm effective focal length in DX), the shutter speed wasn't high enough to kill the motion shake as I wanted. Still... a nice composition. But it could've been much cooler. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Even with the above kvetching, I am consistently amazed at what I can pull out of that first generation pro sensor in the Nikon D1.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-driving)
No, Prudent

While the rest of the nation is watching the northeast as two storms merge to form Snurricane Nemo and New York to Boston is supposed to "get it", the northern part of Nemo came through Michigan last night.

The irony is that yesterday, Thursday, was the first morning commute in some three weeks that I was able to drive at full posted speeds the entire way. Roads clear. It was sunny in Kalamazoo. In Grand Rapids, though, the afternoon was already picking up half a foot or more of wet heavy snow. This wasn't the dry lake effect snows we've been getting. It was near freezing and there was a lot of water content, making for slushy, slidey road conditions, plus bands of freezing rain.

K-zoo was in the 3-5" snowfall range. Our house was just south of the one-foot plus range. Our neighbor plowed our driveway twice by 10pm -- probably a good move on his part since the heavy wet snow would be tough for his little plow to work on in large scale.

But even while the sun was shining in my office yesterday afternoon, I advised my department chair that it was possible I wouldn't be driving in today. I was expecting a very long commute and on Fridays we just do a quiz in class. So I arranged to have people cover the quizzes and emailed PDFs of the quizzes to the office last night.

I was right, of course. Traffic cameras showed slow driving. I've already pushed past 2½ hours on the drive in just this week due to icy conditions. Why drive in, risking life-limb-vehicle, just to be late to a quiz and give another?

Of course the sun came out this morning and it looked all white and pretty. But I know I made the right choice.

Pictures Or It Didn't Happen

The back deck was completely clear before Thursday afternoon. And because it was warm enough, I was able to open the sliding screen door and shoot. It may not look so bad now, but the roads early this morning were coated with a thick slurry of shit. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

This morning, the snow cap on top of the heat pump was at least a foot high. With the temps in the upper 20s and bright sunshine, it had been whittled down to 6-9" by 1pm. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Rather impressed myself with getting the Nikon D1 to deal with the overblown snow highlights, even while shooting through a window screen. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Icicles forming quickly from the roof melt. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (kate-winter-coat)
Saturday Afternoon

Snow day on Thursday for WMU, then lake effect snow bands all the way through Saturday afternoon in places. The sudden cool off and then frigid freeze after Wednesday night plus snow put down a nice layer of ice on the roads. Friday's commute in the morning was slow and cold at 11°F in Allendale. At times speeds on the highways was down to 25-30mph and 40mph on the freeways. This wasn't helped by the fact that there was bright sun south of Grand Rapids and many people thought they should be able to drive faster.

Coming home on Friday, my gauge is to check the reflection of headlights off the road surface in my rearview mirror -- quite glazed, actually. So I probably annoyed some people with my caution. (grin) By Lake Michigan Drive, the lake effect was creating vast clouds of airborne snow with every passing cars. Maintaining sight of the edges of the roads was not easy.

By 3:30pm Saturday, though, there was brilliant blue sky to the north, so I threw my cheap old 12mm f8 Sigma Fisheye on the D1, set it to f11 and took a quick shot through the sliding glass door. Followed by a couple of pictures with the 35-70mm lens at 35mm. I can tell that I am getting comfortable working with the Nikon digital SLRs, because I've regained my form of holding a camera and getting interesting shots without benefit of looking through the finder (double-grin) -- the part of the sliding door without the screen is behind a table and with the snows and cold, there's a good chance the sliding screen door wouldn't open if I tried it.

Boosted the contrast and darkened the shot to show the deep blue of the sky. The old fisheye isn't very sharp, so brightening it for detail didn't seem worth the trouble. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

View north out the deck showing the thick frosting on the trees. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Second shot looking northeast. I liked the look of the fluffy ridge of snow that hadn't yet blown off the railing. And even without using the finder, that ridge fits perfectly in the curve of the trees. Sometimes I amaze myself. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Meanwhile The Inevitable Rises

Beginning of last week gas was $3.38.9/gal for regular. I had a 50¢ and a 10¢/gal coupon for the Family Fare grocery gas station, so even with buying midgrade I was able to get gas under three bucks for once. Too often when I've had big coupons the price jumped so I end up paying what I would've before the increase. By afternoon the price had jumped 20¢/gal. And by Friday, it was up another dime to $3.68.9/gal, then $3.75.9/gal by the time I got home.

With the higher prices and the biting cold wind, I really resent standing there waiting for gas pumps to ask questions and think about the reply. Enter your ZIP code. Do you want a Car Wash? Do you want a receipt? Come on, it's not like you've never asked those questions before, you silly computers, and have to decide what to do with the NO and YES inputs.

The Neighbor

The guy across the road from us got a new toy -- a four-wheel ATV with a blade. He saw Mrs. Dr. Phil working the snow scoop during the first snow storm last week and he knows I'm walking with a cane these days. So when he runs up and down his longer driveway, he's been zipping up and down our 250 foot driveway and clearing off the daily accumulation. It's really nice of him. We got a $25 gas station gift car for him last weekend, since he didn't want anything for it. Right now I think he's really enjoying his new toy.

On Wednesday when I was hooking up the recycling bin with the garbage can inside to tow it back from the road, I noticed that there was several pieces of slag from the driveway in the square opening of the Blazer's Class III receiver hitch. That was odd until I realized that when I backed out in the morning I'd crunched up against the snow bank from the plowing -- presumably there were driveway stones picked up in the plowing. (four-wheel-drive-grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (kate-robot-chicken)
Back In The Mid-80s

When we moved to Laurium MI in the Upper Peninsula and Mrs. Dr. Phil started her job at the Michigan Tech library, we started off without a lot of money. The old mining house we rented was an odd duck, "renovated" by the landlord would be one way of putting it. But it was warm and comfortable enough.

At some point, possibly after our October 1984 formal wedding, we decided to buy a chest freezer for the basement, so we could take advantage of storing some of the leftovers, baked goods, meats and things on sale. We looked at several at the local Hancock hardware store, and settled on a 6 cu.ft. Whirlpool chest freezer -- a sort of beige colored cube. The salesman wanted us to get the larger rectangular 9 cu.ft. unit, but we liked the look of the little 6 cu.ft., plus without kids how much freezer storage did we really need? The kicker was there was a scratch on the front kickplate of the floor model, so we got it for about fifty bucks off the price.

A trip to Ace Hardware in Calumet got me some wiring, a box, outlet and a new circuit breaker and we had the unit resting on two very heavy boards I'd acquired somewhere from a shipping crate.

The freezer was moved twice -- once to Henry Street in Allendale, where it survived about a year-and-a-half in the garage, subject to heat and cold, and then in the basement in the current house for the last twenty-some years.

Which Brings Us To Sunday Morning

Mrs. Dr. Phil went downstairs to get the second dozen bagels we bought before Christmas. And found they were not frozen. Also a little fuzzy in the bag. Also that the freezer smelled BAD when opened. Yup, it died -- death date unknown.

Now some people would be really upset at losing tons of food in a dead freezer, but really, though the freezer was stuffed, we just lost the bagels. Everything else in there was old. We used to buy frozen pizzas on sale to have a cheap quick meal from time to time, but I can't remember the last time we did that -- so the couple of pizzas in there were at least five years old. And the other things were of even more depressing vintages. There was a plastic tub of chicken stock on the bottom that had a paper tape label of June 1993 or something like that on it! Enough frost had accumulated that there was a couple of inches of water in the bottom once the contents was removed.

So really, the lost food was pretty much amortized over the last twenty years, so a dozen bagels from the bagel store in Holland is pretty much small potatoes, to mix our food metaphors here.

Six cubic feet ended up as three garbage bags, too much to fit in our old Rubbermaid trash bin. But the overnight temps have been about 19°F, so leaving one of the bags outside the garage before the midweek trash hasn't been a problem.

The Ironic Wrinkle

Saturday was our 29th anniversary (judicial version). Rather than going out, Mrs. Dr. Phil made a really wonderful batch of spaghetti with eggplant and turkey Italian sausage, flavored with a very nice Spanish red wine. And capers. Since she'd shopped at the D&W in Holland, we also had a loaf of a garlic sage sourdough bread. Oh, seriously YUM.

Which meant that we had nice big slices of garlic sage sourdough bread instead of moldy bagels for our late Sunday breakfast downstairs with the Sunday paper. (grin)

When Mrs. Dr. Phil posted on Facebook that we'd lost the freezer, many of our friends immediately decided that she deserved a new freezer as an anniversary present. "so what IS the proper gift for 29 years -- white-goods, by any chance?" Turns out, according to one website, 29 years is furniture. Didn't say what kind. Well, we did use the lid of the freezer for some tasks...

Seriously, though, we don't really need a chest freezer. My folks had bought a big double door freezer back in Medina one winter when we bought a big chunk of a cow -- half or a quarter, I don't remember. And in Greensboro, we ended up with a 2nd refrigerator in the shop to handle the overflow of produce from the garden, etc. But with just Mother at home, we unplugged that last year. We don't need the reserve.

Still, the big upstairs refrigerator is as old as our house -- about twenty years -- so maybe we'll budget a new fridge this summer. Be proactive and replace it before we have a product emergency. That and the dishwasher sometime.

Ah, entropy.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (seasons-best-kate)
It's My Fault

This Christmas several people have emailed us -- including FB messages, etc. -- to say that things sent to our street address have been returned. We haven't moved. Rather getting a new and larger Post Office in Allendale meant that they could unify the like seven different jurisdictions for the township under one address. The big conversion date was Saturday 19 June 2010. (DW)

The bottom line is that it was our Post Office that has changed and after two years, they're no longer acting like they know how to forward. (grin)

We should have updated in Christmas letters in 2010, but with complications, including the deaths of my father in September 2010 and my sister in November 2011, we just haven't done any letters. (sigh)

The street address hasn't changed, but the town and ZIP:
West Olive MI 49460

Is now:
Allendale MI 49401

If you have my P.O. Box address, it was always Allendale and didn't change.

Sorry for the confusion. We're still here! We will write someday! Hell-oooo! Is anybody out there?

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
I Was Going To Write A Different Post

But just before I started, the power came back on.

Winter Storm Draco deposited almost no snow here in Allendale, but we had gusty high winds up to 50 mph all night and most of the day. So not a total surprise when the lights went out at 11:15 this morning. ... wait six seconds and the Kohler 12kW automatic backup generator came on.

The laptop had a battery, so it didn't go out, of course. For once I decided to see what Consumers Energy did online for outages. The header said that 25,000, no make that 27,000 customers were affected. They had a nice map, which had an angled shape north and west of Allendale, colored in orange-tan -- the legend said 201-1,000 affected. We were in it. As the hours ran on, I recalled that they pull the repair crews from wire work above like 45-50mph winds for safety.
“High winds throughout the day have challenged our crews, with additional power outages occurring while we worked to restore earlier interruptions. These men and women are focused on working safely in adverse conditions while restoring service to customers as quickly as possible and I thank them for their efforts,” said Garrick Rochow, the utility’s vice president of energy delivery. “We are cautiously optimistic that as the weather improves late tonight and into Saturday, we’ll get the upper hand on the damage caused by this strong storm. We thank our customers for their patience.”

67,000 were still dark when our power came on and the generator started its seven minute cooldown cycle. Some 144,000 total customers since 4am.

Sorry, Charter

Charter Communications, our cable company, keeps suggesting that it's dumb to depend on the phone company's DSL for Internet. By 8:45pm, though, our cable kept getting interrupted. If we used a cable modem, we wouldn't be watching reruns of Sherlock on Netflix streaming.

We have a much more reliable local Allendale telephone company than any cable company I've ever dealt with. Pthhhhhbt!

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
The Sacred and Honorable Act of the Citizenry

It only took twenty minutes -- 0900 to 0920 EST -- to park, walk in, vote, return today. That's longer than usual, because of the length of the ballot, not the lines for Precinct 3. Forgot to look at the ballot number on the tear-off tab, but the machine which tallied my vote recorded me as number 154. Precinct 5, which is mainly GVSU students, was the only one with a line.

Many more people there for today's election than any of the primaries or other elections, probably since 4 November 2008. I'm sure this church sees a lot of the Once In A Great While people in their pews, too. (grin)

The two women ahead of me to get their tear-off tabs pulled prior to scanning their completed ballots didn't know how to vote, as in feeding the machine. That tells me that probably they don't vote much, since we've had the same system for a long time. Sigh.

The little old ladies checking the paperwork -- well, they really ARE little old ladies -- are always cheerful and were happy to see so many people turnout.

Over at the side of the big room that we vote in, there was a masking tape box on the floor and the two poll watcher chairs were occupied. One young woman appeared to be a GVSU student, the other was a 40-ish man in casual business attire. When I came in, both were intently texting on their phones, not watching. The young woman, however, did look up and smile as I passed and I told her that I hope she was having a good time. This is the first time in years that I've seen any poll watchers in Allendale.

The church lot where we vote was packed.

Steady stream of cars coming up and down the long winding drive from M-45 and any empty parking spots were only empty for seconds. There was enough coming and going that I didn't have to wait to get a reasonably close parking space.

The Ballot

This was probably the fullest two-sided ballot I've seen in the twenty-odd years we've been in West Michigan. Besides the major and minor races, there was a lively non-partisan race for state supreme court justices -- including the West Wing reunion ad for Bridget Mary McCormack and PSA for the non-partisan part of the ballot -- plus a half-dozen Proposals.

What does Michigan think it is, California?

The Proposals, five of them Constitutional amendments, were a real mixed bag. And the campaigns wildly insane -- one ad just said hands off our Constitution and vote NO on everything on principle. Proposal 6, a sweetheart deal by the private owners of the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor to keep their monopoly, was particularly cynical. Proposal 3 was about increasing wind and alternative power. This should be in the Constitution? Well, given the current political climate, I can see why they'd want to force the legislature and governor to comply. The only non-constitutional ballot issue, Proposal 1, was about the state's Emergency Manager law, in which the governor can appoint managers to take over local governments, and in some cases fire, the locally elected officials. Proposals 2 and 4 were about labor issues, one for government employees including police, firefighters and teachers, the other about home health care workers. Proposal 5 was about tying the hands of the legislature to make it even more difficult to raise taxes, if needed.

It's All Over Except For The Screaming

We were a purple country going into the election and I don't expect that to change coming out of it. And that purple? It's from the red and blue bruises.

Since I can't see either Presidential candidate coming away with 60-70% of the popular vote, we will still be a divided nation. The scenarios have varied wildly from a 269-269 electoral vote tie, to a 305 vote win. If we don't know the results tonight or by early morning, I won't be surprised. If a more decisive, but certainly not "a mandate", win occurs on either side, I won't be surprised either.

In any event, I've voted and I hope that if you are eligible and able to, that you have, too.

And for the record, I utterly oppose any attempts of either voter suppression or voter fraud by any side, for any reason. Anyone arguing that they can do it because the other side is doing it, is an even bigger idiot.

I figure that the last of the campaign ads will get off the airwaves by Thursday or Friday... (evil grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
Slim Pickings

Last Saturday had some nice weather and I knew we were losing all the good leaves. Despite the risk of not getting any more leaves, I didn't take the time to go out. With the heavy rains and winds, most of the bright colors were gone this week. But it's been a funny fall color season, with a number of trees still green. By the end of the week, there were some new trees featuring the strong bright yellows that I've seen a lot of this year.

One Last Run

So I took the Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n out for one last run around town.

I haven't been through the Allendale Community Park in the long time -- this tree was just off the access road to the water tower. I opened up the lens to keep the background soft, but the depth of field was thinner than I wanted. (Click on photo for larger.)

This backlit tree was shot from the Blazer in the turnaround by the recycling area. (Click on photo for larger.)

I'm a sucker for backlit leaves and backlit/windblown flags -- by the Allendale Post Office I was able to get both around 4:45pm. (Click on photo for larger.)

There are some other photographs of fall colors shot in the last two weeks, but we'll have to wait to see them -- for the first time in years I've been shooting some film. Will get the rolls developed and scanned. Now that I'm running the Kodak at its full FX 14MP resolution, I figure comparing it against 35mm film would be useful.

Dr. Phil

Morning Drives

Saturday, 6 October 2012 17:22
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-driving)

I don't drag along the Nikon D1 commuter bag with me every day, but my equipment bag does have the little Sony digital with a Carl Zeiss zoom lens. It's autofocus is much too happy locking onto the front windshield, so I lose some pictures, but at least I have a camera. (grin)

A week ago Thursday the sun was hiding behind a bank of clouds and the gaps created these lovely glory rays shooting over half the horizon. It persisted for the first forty five minutes of the drive, but in the beginning it looked like Allendale was blessed. This pattern continued in the evening, too, but those pictures weren't very good.

Sun rays basking glory over Allendale -- from 84th Avenue fields. (Click on photo for larger.)

The Flock Struts

Last weekend I wrote about the elusive wild turkeys (DW) and the large flock which has taken to crossing some of the roads about a mile, mile and a half, from us.

This Thursday morning I had to stop on Warner to let the big birds calmly strut across the road. It had rained overnight and between the dark clouds, the sun rising and the wet, it looked pretty amazing. While waiting, given that there's about 20 birds in this flock, I got out the Sony to try one shot. Of course, I had to look up at the rear view mirror because of the tire screeching noise behind me. Seems that this Toyota was all hell bent on closing the gap to the Blazer, which meant it was going in excess of 55mph, decided that they were going to pass me -- and then saw all the birds and was trying to brake and shimmy on the wet road, as they were not practicing driving under safe conditions. I wasn't too worried, they were screeching to a halt quite a distance away. But what-ta-id-iot.

I didn't correct the exposure, because you can see more of the turkeys this way. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)

Two driveways up a second grouping of turkeys had just crossed and were standing around. Yesterday, I slowed in that area and saw about two dozen waiting at a driveway about to cross. There's a K-O-A campground nearby, and Mrs. Dr. Phil said that the other day someone reported early morning turkeys walking around that place.

It's like Hitchcock, but more stately and in slow motion.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983)
The Autumnal Equinox Has Come And Gone

The average temperature this time of year is supposed to be around 72°F. Saturday the high was around 57°F -- and it's been in the 60s and low 70s all week, with the same for next week. And we've had a lot of rain, even hail. Hell, there've been a couple of water spouts on Lake Michigan recently, including one by South Haven today.

So I debated taking a camera with me on my errands late in the afternoon. Dark clouds. But also bright white ones and a good blue sky. I grabbed the Nikon D1 commuter bag and headed out.

Once again I didn't even get out of the driveway -- or out of the Blazer for that matter -- before I had my first shot. Bit of a risk with the D1, because its CCD sensor can overblow highlights, but not totally bad. (Click on photo for larger.)

Grab shot out of the Blazer's front windshield of this rainbow against a bright white cloud in blue sky and sunshine. I saw black clouds and rain in different areas, but never got rained on myself. (Click on photo for larger.)

Lots and lots of great clouds -- little black ones against white ones, etc. -- but mostly not in places where I could frame a good shot. Still it was a nice drive and I mailed some bills and did some errands.

The Elusive West Michigan Wild Turkeys

We've seen a lot of wild turkeys around here lately. Damned things are hard to photograph, despite the fact that we've seen flocks of a dozen or more at a time. Whatever they're eating, the hot weather this summer seems to have suited them.

Last Saturday when I went out on a picture taking expedition, I spotted a flock of turkeys crossing 78th Avenue north of M-45 -- they were silhouetted against the road by being in the shadow of trees on either side of the road. Despite (a) having the Kodak Pro SLR/n with me, (b) with the 70-300mm mounted and (c) sitting on the seat next to me, I couldn't come to a stop, get out and grab the camera before the whole ten or twelve crossed. And it wasn't like they were strutting all that fast.

Hunters talk of being made fools of by wild turkeys -- and I can attest to photographers having the same troubles. (grin)

On Tuesday I took the back way from M-45 to Wilson Avenue and spotted what I thought was a flock of Canadian geese in a field. But as I got closer I realized they were turkeys. Turned around and rolled the window down. I only had the little Sony, but I did record them. (Click on photo for larger.)

But this Saturday on the way back from Allendale, I slowed down because two vehicles ahead of me had stopped. Closer, I saw a couple of turkeys cross the road. Figured I'd missed them, but moving slowly I, too, had to come to a stop for another crossing.

Grab shot of wild turkeys lurking by the side of the road. (Click on photo for larger.)

Why did the turkey cross the road? To challenge drivers and photographers, of course. (Click on photo for larger.)

Still, one of the better wild turkey shots I've gotten, despite all the backlighting.

Dr. Phil


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