Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Achievement Unlocked: Geovan Of Destiny reaches 100K

Hard to believe we've put 100,000 miles on the GeoVan of Destiny.  Its been to 38 states, 6 provinces, and way too many awesome adventures to mention (most of 'em are recorded in this blog: Google it.)

We have many more adventures planned, so hopefully she will last for a few more years to come.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Avian Landlords 0x07: Graduation Day

All good things must come to an end.  Luckily for the cardinal chicks nesting in the bush outside my living room window, it is a happy ending.

While I was at work on Friday, my wife chatted with me that the chicks had started to leave the nest while we were both out of the house.  She only got a shot of the second chick following the parents across the road and into the wooded area on the far side.

She did see both chicks cross the road, just didn't get pics of the first one, so we know they at least left the nest on goo terms.

So now, for the first time in our lives, my wife and I are empty nesters.

I am going to miss this pair of chicks, but it was great to share the first few days of their young lives.

If you want to check out all the posts in this series, click here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Avian Landlords 0x06

I only had time this evening to grab a few shots of the cardinal chicks that have been growing in a nest outside my living room window.

I didn't see mama, but father was doing a great job bringing food.
The chicks feathers are growing in nicely.  They are also moving around more.  This one is stretching his wing (and, I suspect, showing off for the camera).
Papa doesn't stick around long after feeding, so most of the shots are the chicks getting their snack on.
 See what I mean?
You can check out all of the bird pics by clicking here->  Avian Landlords

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Avian Landlords 0x05

Since the last post I managed to improve my ability to get decent shots of the chicks that have inhabited a nest just outside my living room window.

I did some research and apparently cardinal chicks stay in the nest for 8-12 days, so we are right around half way done with this little experiment. Their feathers are coming in nicely.
The chicks appear to be about twice the size they were when I first started this little adventure.  Its no wonder, as they are fed a lot by their dutiful father.
Two mouths to feed keeps daddy busy.
Actually, the time between feedings can be 15-20 minutes long.  Baby birds are a lot like baby humans, in that when they are not feeding, they are sleeping.  

I have learned that they rouse and wake up just before the parents return to the nest, so the secret of this sort of photography seems to be keep a lazy eye on the camera screen as you go about your day, and when the chicks open their mouths, you have 20-30 seconds to get ready to shoot shots of the parents.
Sure enough, mama appears with a grub (caterpillar?) in her beak...
... which is fed to one of the chicks. 
Neither of the parents stick around for long, but based on the actions of these chicks, it won't be long before they return with some more food.
That will have to wait until tomorrow.  Come back soon to see more pics of the chicks and watch them grow from egg to fledgling.  You can see all the posts of the birds by clicking this link: Avian Landlords.

Fun With Quizes

According to Googles new totally scientific and 1,000% accurate personality quiz, I am a wooly mammoth.

Which is odd, cause I always identified myself with the noble Panda.

You can take your own quiz here: Which animal are you? Take the Google Doodle Earth Day Quiz

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Avian Landlords 0x04

The bush is starting to fill in, so I had to adjust the camera.  I didn't get a chance to perfect my technique from the new position, but I have a few semi-decent photos to share of the chicks.
A picture of papa feeding a chick.
The chicks eyes are really starting to open.
Another feeding shot.  You can see how much the chicks have grown in this shot.

You can see the rest of the series by clicking this link:  Avian Landlords.

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Claim To Fame

My one small footnote in the history books of Lenoir North Carolina:

I am likely the only person in history to drive a Google Bike thru the hallways of the Broyhill Civic Center.  I have proof:
Picture taken by Brendyl Smith
I hope someone is writing this down...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Avian Landlords 0x03

In the bushes right outside my living room window, a pair of cardinals have made a nest.  I have started capturing their progress, and posted the photos here.  You can see the rest of the series by clicking this link:  Avian Landlords.

Today proved to be more interesting.  Yesterday, being the first day, the parents did not return to the nest the entire time the camera was set up.  Today they seem to be getting used to the camera as I saw both the mother and (briefly) the father.

The first shots were of the chicks sleeping in the nest.

This was the brief shot I got of the father (you can see some of his red feathers at the very top of the nest).  He likes to stay on the sides, and out of the nest.  He also doesn't stick around very long, so he is rather camera shy.

When the chicks are not sleeping, they have their beaks open, waiting for food (I presume - I am not an ornithologist)
This may be a shot of a feeding,  but I am not sure.  You can see mama's beak hovering over one of the chicks.
This is mama, sitting on the nest.   I assume its for warmth, but it is raining today, so I also think she is spending some of her time sheltering the chicks from the cold rain.
One last shot of mama hanging out on the nest.
Finally, thanks to #AutoAwesome, you can get a time-lapse-esque feel og the activity on the nest today.
I hope to have more photos of the chicks up in the next day or two, so stay tuned!

Avian Landlords 0x02: The Setup

In the bushes right outside my living room window, a pair of cardinals have made a nest.  A couple days ago their eggs hatched and two chicks now inhabit the nest.

I have started taking photos of the nest, in an attempt to capture the growth of the chicks.

Since I have a lot of photographer friends, I figure a post on my setup would be interesting.

I am using a Sony A6000 camera with a 55-210mm lens, on a tripod.  I set the focus to manual to ensure the focus is on the nest, and not the plethora of leaves and the flowers between the nest and the lens, and have it on Aperture Priority Mode, and am letting the camera decide the rest of the settings.

I have the camera sticking out the window, on a tripod, pointing down into the bushes.

The A6000 has a really cool remote control feature, which allows me to take photos from an app on my phone.  This allows me to be other places in the house and still monitor the nest so I can take photos at the right times.  So far I have set the camera up for over an hour at a time and this allows me to do other things at the same time - for example, todays crop of shots was taken while playing Skip-Bo with the kids at the kitchen table.
Not having to watch the nest directly also means that I am not causing as much stress to the birds, even tho I have a camera pointed at them for hours at a time.  I think this is going to allow for more natural shots.  Already the mother is getting used to the setup and is coming back to the nest when the camera is present, but I am not.

This setup is allowing me to get shots like this one.

Post processing is simply the Auto Adjust feature in Picasa, then uploading.

You can keep track of the progress of the chicks by following this blog, using the label Avian Landlords (<-- i.e. click that link).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Avian Landlords 0x01

In the bushes right outside my living room window, a pair of cardinals have made a nest.  A couple days ago their eggs hatched and two chicks now inhabit the nest.

Watching them grow should prove interesting.  Here are some pics of the siblings (Check the #AutoAwesome'd animation at the end):

I hope to take more pics over the coming days so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Am A (Trivia) Champion!

On Saturday night I became a champion.

No foolin'!  I have proof:

What am I champion of?  Geocaching Trivia, of course. (My sister always accused me of being a smart ass - its finally paid off!)

The event was the first anniversary of the fantastic series of events called "It's All Just Trivia", the brain child and labour of love for a pair of Carolina geocachers hoosiersunshine and Failed Apparatus.

As a special treat, frequent winners of past events, Team La Villa, hosted the event, and let hoosier and failed-app enjoy playing the trivia game they spend so much time planning and hosting.

After much begging and bribery, they finally let me join their team, along with Rock Kat, Maingray, and Ninja Chipmunk.

Our team name was the obvious and accurate "I Got 99 Problems But Hosting Trivia Ain't One."  We also won "Best Team Name" for that one.

We started off poorly, as the first two categories of trivia were on South Carolina caches, which none of us were experts on (most of us being from North Carolina, and the one sole South Carolina resident is actually a hoosier - I'll leave which one that is as an exercise for the reader).  However by the third round we found our stride, and lead the charge to a strong but close finish (we beat the next closest team by only a few points.)

They already have many more trivia events planned for the next year (bookmark list, Facebook), and likely even more to come, so if you find yourself in the South, you should keep an eye out for what is always an awesomely fun time at an It's All Just Trivial event.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Han Shot First: Lego Edition

One of the biggest controversies to ever reach geekdom is the changing of the Mos Eisley scene in Star Wars Episode IV.  George Lucas changed the scene where Han Solo faced off against the bounty hunter known as Greedo in the 1997 Special Edition re-release.  Ever since there has been a mystery about the events of that epic encounter.

This is my response: