Saturday, October 25, 2008


There's a little nuthatch that keeps visiting the pine tree in my front yard for some of the many bird and squirrel goodies mother sets out for them. I managed to shoot a few pictures when it would stay still long enough, so here they are for your enjoyment.

Fig. 1: Closeup at 300mm, f5.6 @ 1/125.

Fig. 2: Closeup at 300mm, f5.6 @ 1/320.

Fig. 3: Closeup at 300mm, f5.6 @ 1/125.

I was able to get rather close to this beautiful little creature, but what you see is actually an illusion. It helps to have a decent high-megapixel camera and a long lens. The pictures, above, were taken with a Sony alpha 200, 10.2 megapixels in JPEG mode, with a Minolta Maxxum autofocus 75-300mm lens at 300mm. I then cropped them from there and did some color and contrast adjustments using Google's Picasa 3 software.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Power Outage

September is usually uneventful here in is pretty much every month. However, September of 2008 will go down in infamy as being the windiest on record. On Sunday, September 14, the remains of Hurricane Ike blew through our area and knocked out power to about 330,000 people in the Dayton area. In other words, everybody.

I have never, ever heard the wind howl like this. Ever. And it wasn't just one strong gust every now and then. I'm talking a constant wind of nearly 50 miles per hour, even gusting as high as 75. This went on for hours. The wind started about 10am that day, we lost power at 1pm and it finally stopped howling at about 6pm.

Thankfully, my house was spared any wind damage, save for my big satellite dish which was blown out of alignment. Mother and father's house was similarly undamaged.

Fig. 1: Misaligned Satellite Dish.

It is not that big of a deal because it wouldn't align properly where it was anyhow so I moved it back to the bird feeder post nearer the ground.

Lots of trees suffered in the storm, which was the major cause of the power outages.

Fig. 2: Tree limbs in my neighbor's yard.

The trees belonging to my backyard neighbor were the hardest hit. The wind stripped the tree nearly bare and tore off a number of limbs.

Fig. 3: A limb in my parent's backyard.

We were without power for nearly seven (7!) days. Most of the line crews from around here had been dispatched to the ravaged areas of Texas after the hurricane proper took out electric down there. No one expected such a savage windstorm to come through our area.

Fig. 4: The view between my parent's
house (left) and mine (right).

We didn't expect the power to be out for so long. Thankfully, we had some rather cool days after the storm blew through, so I left the windows open. Sleeping with the windows open all night was actually pretty terrific!

At the second day I had to clean out my fridge and freezer.

Fig. 5: My empty fridge.

All I had left was some mustard, pickles, microwave popcorn, bottled water, film, batteries and my stash of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I threw out some mayonnaise, frozen chicken pot pies, mini pizzas and hot pockets. Hey, I'm a expect me to have actual food? I used this time to actually do a good clean on the fridge, too, which was convenient.

Mother and father were hit harder in this regard. They ended up throwing out two new gallons of milk, lots of new frozen stuff, lunchmeat and bacon and more. They had just gone to the store that Saturday! Needless to say, we ate out nearly every night. Well, at the restaurants that had power. Most of the nearby joints were without power for the duration, too.

The phone company had set up a number of generators and power trucks at their central offices and tandems to keep the phone lines powered. There were so many traffic signals without power that the city did not have enough portable stop signs to go around. Luckily, people were doing right and treating them as four-way stops like they should.

I think I dealt with the situation pretty well. I didn't have internet, which was driving me crazy, but I took it in stride. I would take my iPod, laptop and cell phone to work to charge them and when I got home I would play solitaire or pinball until my battery died, then I would listen to music or watch videos on my iPod until time for bed. I had to use my cell phone as an alarm clock so I could get up on time. Taking showers by flashlight really isn't much different. At least I had hot water...behold the power and glory of natural gas!

Fig. 6: My house, before and after the power outage.

Fig. 7: My house, during the power outage.

Mother, however, was a different story. I thought that she was going to have a breakdown. I'm serious, she was getting worse every day; getting closer to that edge that once you cross you can never come back. She was getting mad at me because I was dealing with the situation in a calm, cool manner as if it was no big deal. She was unusually salty at work and would severely admonish people who called in because they had no power.

I saw no reason to get all worked up. Sure it was annoying and I would rather it not happen, but it did, so there. She did not see it that way. By day three, she was ready to do violence to anyone from the power company. By day five, she was ready to kill for a generator. More than once she was near tears. I can't say as I blame her, she is sensitive and when out of her comfortable element she doesn't know how to react. Afterward she said that she was not good in a personal crisis. She's right.