The Old Bear's Den

my hiding place from the world...

Archive for the ‘ weather ’ Category

Another successful failure…

no comment

Knowing the Perseid meteor shower was peaking this weekend, I have been thinking about trying to use my “new” camera to try to capture some of it.  I had purchased an inexpensive intervelometer, which is a timer that allows you to set up timed exposures and can control repeated shots, it literally is a interval controller with an exposure timer built in as well as a long duration timer.  I had one that would work on the T6i and T3i, but not one that would work on the 6D and 5D III, so it was a toy I just had to have… LOL

Last night, I decided it was the best “shot” I would have, pun intended.  The clouds had cleared very nicely, it feels like we have been having intermittent and heavy clouds for weeks, so the clearing trend the last few days has been very welcome.  And the moon was not supposed to rise until around midnight, which meant after 11 would be prime time for catching some meteors.

Mama Bear had to shoot an event in the morning, so she wasn’t up to going with me since I would be out late and we had a full day planned for today, so she needed to recuperate and prep for today.

As the sun was setting I headed off, seeking a reasonably close, but still somewhat dark sky area, not an easy challenge in our part of Ohio.  I had been doing some research using the dark sky map from Dark Site Finder (http://darksitefinder.com/), and while I could have gotten into better darkness with a little more driving, I settled on going to the Caesars Creek park area.  There was a camp out planned in the park for the Perseid’s, and it is only around 35 minutes away.

I initially thought about trying to shoot from near the marina in the park, thinking if I could get out by the lake I could shoot over the lake and use two camera’s to shoot both the meteor shower, and do some playing with light and reflections from the lake.  Unfortunately the marina area was well lit, and in high use as other people apparently decided watching the meteor shower and partying on boats was a good idea.  I don’t fault their thinking, it could have been fun, but for me shooting with all the lights and distractions wasn’t going to be good for me…

After circling the marina I decided to head off to some of the overflow camping areas.  I don’t know what the total attendance in the park might have been last night, but I can tell you that the park was packed.  The area I was in had to have at least 350-400 cars, trucks and RVs, parked along the roads and among the tents and trailers set up everywhere, as well as vehicles streaming in and out.  I found a curve behind some trees that hid me from the main entrance, trying to hide in the shadows from all the cars and trucks that flowed in and out of the camping area the entire evening, but still afforded me a view of the North-North East sky.

I want to make a side comment here about astronomical events and people’s behavior.  There were a lot of people there, who like me were looking to enjoy the meteor shower, whether to take pictures or just lay on the ground and watch the streaks of light burning across the heavens.  But there were also a lot of people who apparently had no concept of “light” pollution or “light” politeness… not to mention just general politeness in some cases.  There were people who were flashing lights all round, with not care that they were highlighting other people like me who were going about their own business.  I even saw numerous people using strobes, and I can tell you that getting hit with a strobe light at 11:30 at night in a “dark” area really sucks, not to mention destroys timed exposures on a camera.  There were stereos that were blaring, people watching movies (if you can believe someone would go to an astronomical event and then sit and stare at a TV screen), I saw people in cars that actually turned their high beams on in their car as they were pointing at me (and other people), apparently to see what I was doing…

I actually had one couple pull up into the grass right in front of me pointing their minivan right at me with the high beams on, then sit for a minute or two, back out and turn to park pointing slightly away from me, but left their lights on for another 5 minutes while they got out and opened various doors getting blankets and what not out.  I actually heard someone ask them as they left their car if they didn’t forget to turn out their lights, but they ignored them and wondered off.  Fortunately their lights shut off automatically after another minute or two, but I think a couple other people had the same thought I had, it was a good thing I didn’t have a hammer handy or I might have turned them off for them after they had left.

That is definitely not to say everyone was being bad neighbors, so to speak.  I had one couple that stopped by as they were walking on the road.  They were curious about my photographing the sky and I had a great time talking to them and even teaching them a little, as they were not really sure how and when to “see” the meteor shower or how someone could photograph it.  I’m not an expert, but I do like to teach people, learning new things is always a good thing, and I have found that I enjoy being an educator.

There were people who turned their headlights off and drove slowly through using only marker lights or driving/fog lights that were less illuminating, or walked through the area using hooded flashlights, or at least kept their flashlights pointed down.  I appreciated those people thought about where they were and what everyone around them was doing.

OK, enough soapbox.

The bottom line, I did not get a single picture of a meteor…  I’m OK with that.  I saw 5 or 6, but I was learning and that meant that I was not expecting to have a wealth of front page shots.  I am a little disappointing I didn’t get one on camera, but I enjoyed the experience and I did get to see some.

That being said I did get some cool shots of the sky, and even just a half hour away from home the quality of the night sky was an amazingly better, although not as good as I used to get in Wyoming, and I learned a lot, as well as took some lessons home for the next time.

Wide open sky

Wide open sky

One thing I did capture that I had hoped to, was the galactic plane of our Milky Way galaxy.  It is faint in this picture, but definitely recognizable.

The Milky Way

The Milky Way

Around midnight the moon came over the horizon.  While it was almost 90 degrees off the source area for the meteors and was not full, it was still enough to start washing out some of them I figured, so I decided it was time to start packing up and heading for home.  The moon was quite beautiful rising, one of the lessons learned was that I need to bring more lenses with me.  I didn’t have a long lens with me because I had only been thinking about the meteors, so the moon was not very impressive when shot with a 50mm lens in the wide open sky.

Moon rise

Moon rise

But when I got home I decided it was definitely worth a few minutes to grab the 70-200mm with the 2X extender and set up out front for a quick series of shots.

The moon on the eve of the Perseid's

The moon on the eve of the Perseid’s

I was considering going again tonight, hoping the crowds would be much less given tomorrow is a work day, but the clouds returned this evening and I don’t really think it would be a good trip.  But we have a few days left of the meteor show and the moon should continue to be less of an influence, so maybe next weekend I can try for one more shoot of the Perseid’s, if not then maybe for a better shot of the Milky Way, and there are always things to see if the sky is clear. 🙂

Learning curves, and salsa…

no comment

We had a camera shuffle here in the last week.  Mama Bear got a new camera, in line with what she really wanted, a Canon 5D Mark III.  It is very nice, and she is already spending time deep in study to understand it and what she can do with it.

But, that also meant that both Baby Bear and I could “upgrade” by passing things around.  Baby Bear got my camera, which was the newest camera, a Canon T6i, for her birthday.  And I got Mama Bears old daily shooter, a Canon 6D.  Both of us are just as happy as Mama Bear is with her new camera I think, and in addition I get to use Baby Bears old camera, a Canon T3i for my budding astrophotography habit.

Yesterday the daytime weather forecasts had been calling for the clouds in our area to blow off by mid-evening, so I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to pull out the telescope, tripods and both cameras and get some nighttime photography in as a learning experience with the new camera.  Unfortunately the cloud cover wasn’t cooperating, so we decided to call it a night, thinking tomorrow night might give us a better chance.

As I was shutting up the house for the night, I stopped in the kitchen to look out the window and saw that the moon was playing peek-a-boo with some passing breaks in the clouds.  I went back out and grabbed the 6D and a couple lenses, a 70-200mm with a 2X extender and the 100mm prime and ran back to the kitchen.

So began the learning curve…

In playing around with the camera earlier this week, I figured out that Mama Bear had been using Auto ISO, which adjusts the ISO automatically when you are making other adjustments while shooting.  This is a great for shooting events, where the light conditions can change frequently with the background or location.  But when you are shooting something like the moon you need to have more control because the light sensing is attuned to overall exposure, and in this case the moon is the brightest (and normally the only) object in the frame and tends to throw things off.  In short, the moon gets “blown out” (over exposed) because the camera is trying to let you see everything in the frame.  And I forgot it was set to auto… DUH

The first shot

The first shot

Unfortunately, I didn’t even notice it the whole time I was shooting.  I was in a slightly uncomfortable position, because I decided not to go get changed out of the stretchy gym shorts into real clothing, so I was crouching in the kitchen, shooting upwards at an angle from counter height to get beneath the roof overhang… LOL  Another lesson learned there, take the 3 minutes to go put on clothes and it would have been much more comfortable shooting from a tripod out front…

I took several shots at a wider angle with the 100mm getting a lot of lighting in the cloud, which was nice, even though I knew the moon was getting over exposed.  Mama Bear made the observation this morning while I was doing some review and post processing, that this could be the cover of a science fiction story, something with a black hole or white dwarf in a nebula on the cover.

Clouds

Clouds

Then I switched to the long lens and tried to get some more detailed shots.  Even though I was still struggling with the auto ISO and didn’t realize it, I did manage to get a couple shots that were not just totally white blobs, and still showed off some passing clouds.

The moon

The moon

So, the learning curve has begun, for all of us.  That is a good thing around here, we are all always learning new things, techniques, thinking of things to try, trying to understand why things behave the way they do, photography is just one example of that.

The other goal for the weekend is going to be more canning.

Mama Bear is on her way to the local fruit and veggie stand right now to bring home a bounty of salsa fixings.  Tomatoes and onions are in full swing, and we opened one of the jars I did a couple weeks ago last night to determine the tweaks that need to be done to make it better.  I thoroughly enjoyed the testing, but we did come up with a couple things to change, just to make exactly what we are looking for.

I’ll try to convince Mama Bear to play with her new camera today and grab some shots for me of the making and canning.  I’d like to do a full case today, well I’d love to do a couple cases, but I will settle for a dozen jars put up today.

I opened one of the jars of my 50-50 Bread and Butter sandwich slice pickles other day… they were good, really good.  But I’m thinking that pint jars of those are not nearly big enough.  I’m going to finish off a pint jar every 3-4 days, and I don’t have that many jars of them.  So I think I may make up some quart jars.

After doing a bunch of reading on home canning tomato sauce, and how to do it right, how we want to do it, you have to pressure can it.  And we aren’t set up for that this year, we are just learning water bath canning.  So that will be a project for next year maybe.

Which means I have a case of quart jars that just is begging to be filled with something else, and I’m thinking Bread and Butter sandwich slices is sounding awfully good…

But for today, SALSA

Salsa!

Salsa!

Evening sights

no comment

Like so often the last few weeks and months, we have had a fair amount of cloud cover lately.  Enough so that it has been just a constant shade of grey, light grey when the sun was up, black/grey when the sun goes down.  A couple nights ago, I noticed the sun was setting and the tree tops across the way were highlighted by the sun as it set.

Illuminated tree tops

Illuminated tree tops

And we had a noticeable sunset happening with beautiful orange and reds  just visible through the trees.

Tuesday's Sunset

Tuesday’s Sunset

Then last night as I was out for my evening walk, I noticed the sunset and the evening star were making a pretty picture in the sky, so I decided to give it a shot at capturing it when I got home.  Unfortunately, by the time I found the vantage point I was happy with, the sunset was almost gone, but still a pretty picture I think.

Evening Star and sunset

Evening Star and sunset

I also noticed the moon was high in the evening sky, working its way towards the upcoming full moon on the 12th, so I grabbed a few quick shots of it also.

Waxing Gibbous Moon 03092017.1907

Waxing Gibbous Moon 03092017.1907

Several days ramblings

no comment

The sun and the moon have been hiding for days now, mostly behind a solid grey sky.  Yesterday and this morning we had some patches of blue and I had some hope maybe things were breaking, but no, the clouds rose back up and the night was just another wall of grey.

On another note, I took a break the last couple afternoons and instead of lunch I spent it in the garage cutting what I think were 4×6 Oak beams into pieces that would fit into the oven and I’ve had the oven going all day for several days, acting as a sort of kiln.

Home made kiln

Home made kiln

So, I did a bunch of reading to figure out how long and what temperature I would need to heat the wood to, and now I have stacks of what looks like some really nice wood ready to be put to good use, here is one day’s load…

Finished wood

Finished wood

Tonight, I made pickles, lots of pickles…

Pickle prep

Pickle prep

Mama Bear picked me up a couple of quart and a half jars at Ikea for my pickles.  I was discussing ( OK, complaining, or even whining might be closer to the truth) about having to use lots of different size jars.  We had one quart canning jar that I was reusing, with a couple pint size jars and a couple jelly jars, one of which I gave away full of pickles from the last batch… LOL

Pickles

Pickles

Alternate creativity

no comment

For the last few days, the moon and the sun have been hiding in the clouds around here.  We’ve had, snow, wind, now rain and more rain, and of course I’ve been busy as usual, so there have been no more shots of the moon for now.

But I was still feeling like I wanted to create something, so I played with a few things, and candles…

The light in the dark

The light in the dark

And of course something a little more traditional…

"Light"house

“Light”house

And for something totally different, the aliens are coming…

They are among us

They are among us

And as surreal as this looks, it has not been touched other than to crop it and reduce the size for displaying here, I think it is cool.

Lighted Galileo thermometer

Lighted Galileo thermometer

Snow go the days of our lives

no comment

Mama Bear recently pointed out that I haven’t updated this in a while, and that I have fallen into a habit of only posting about what’s cooking.  While I did agree she was right, I didn’t follow up on it and post anything right away either.

In the last few weeks we have had a variety of weather, but the arctic vortex that swept through every where else came through here also.  We were subzero for a couple days, and yes, I liked it…

Brisk...

Brisk…

But, back to the meat of the matter… LOL

The first smoke of the year

The first smoke of the year

We were in the mood for BBQ, so we picked up a couple of chuck roasts (and a brisket, and a picnic, and a couple pork butts for bacon, but more on that later)  at Sam’s, smoked them both and pulled one of them for sandwiches…

Just a touch of sauce

Just a touch of sauce

I have to pat my own back, they were good.

Tonight I also prepped a couple more pork butts for bacon.  We bought 2 that were bone in, I forgot how much fun de-boning a pork butt can be.  I did a couple pieces as maple bacon and another couple as molasses bacon, it will be interesting to see how that comes out.  I’ll put more up on that after they cure for the rest of the week and I can smoke them this weekend.

On other lines, I’ve decided to spend more time flying my flight simulator.  I even joined a virtual airline, which means I get to do a lot of flying, but in a more structured environment.  I also get to start at the bottom, which also means flying small planes on short routes until I work up enough hours to get promoted to bigger planes and longer routes.

And yes, I am still wishing for more snow and dreading the end of winter already, and I know it is only January.  I spend all summer suffering for these brief moments of winter wonder…

Post holiday mish-mash

no comment

We all seem to have survived the Thanksgiving madhouse.  Mama Bear was of course in her element, I think she had a good day, even weekend, since all the kids and local family were around.

The turkeys turned out pretty good, I even held a little of the smoked bird back and sliced it for sandwiches, love that smoked turkey hit…

 

Slicing the Turkey

Slicing the Turkey

Smoked Turkey sandwiches to come

Smoked Turkey sandwiches to come

In the post holiday week I also made my normal stock, but this time I did two separate pots, one from the baked turkey and one from the smoked bird.  I have to admit, while the normal stock smelled great, the smoked pot smelled wonderful.  I am soooooo looking forward to what comes from that down the road…

Smoked turkey stock

Smoked turkey stock

I on the other hand am enjoying today so much more.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Thanksgiving, but today we are under winter storm warnings, the snow is falling and I feel like winter is finally back.  I miss winter all summer long, I’m a cold weather kind of bear.

Knowing this storm was coming, I managed to put Mama Bear’s car back in the garage.  I had been working on rearranging some things to try to make it more functional during the winter when the car stays in it most of the time, didn’t quite make it, but at least the car is back in and not in the drive covered with ice and snow… 😀

One of the few downsides to working from home is that days like today, when the schools are all closed and people get told don’t come into work, my commute doesn’t get affected, I’ve still go to go down to my office to go to work, so no playing hooky for me… On the bright side, it is Friday, the weekend is upon us!!!

 

Some days you wake and realize it is snowing…

no comment

Most people who know me know how much I love the snow.  Last night Baby Bear brought it to our attention that we were under a weather warning, so this morning when I ran my every other week errand, this was the scene out the back door when I got home:

Am I a happy bear or what?

Am I a happy bear or what?

 

The work front is finally looking like things are looking up, I am hoping tomorrow might be the first day I don’t have to work since the first of the year, which would be nice because I have a full day of things I have to catch up on… hmm I think I am trading one type of work for another.

On another note, I think have created a monster, quite literally…

A couple years ago I gave Mama Bear an IOU for a certain computer game, the long awaited next in a series we have been playing as a family for many years now.  We read many reviews after the game came out and much to our dismay it sounded like it was a loser, so we didn’t get it.  Last year Baby Bear expressed a strong interest in getting the next one, so for Christmas I bought three copies, one for Baby Bear, one for Mama Bear and one for myself.

Mama Bear is the only one how has gotten to play it to this point because of time and computer issues.  The other night I had to threaten to ground her like an 11 year old if she didn’t quit playing her game and go to bed… 😀

 

Diablo III does rule!!!

 

When you hope for bad stuff…

no comment

Last night we had snow, we had sleet, we had freezing rain, all things I love for some strange reason.  But the really strange part is this little small part, in the the back of my brain that says “Bring it on” because I sort of really want the power to go out.

It’s not that I want anyone to be inconvenienced, and I certainly don’t want anyone getting hurt, but I have this magic  box sitting out back now and when the power goes out my house lights back up right away.  I take some strange pleasures in that little box. 😀

So in a way, I do hope for bad stuff…

More storms

no comment

Much like the rest of the country we are experiencing more storms that normal lately it seems, nowhere near the severity that the south has had, but that changed somewhat last night.  It started with rain, then became severe thunderstorms, then widespread tornado warnings.  We were warned, at least once, but fortunately while there were a couple sighted in the area the destruction was limited.  For us it was, there was at least one house that was severely damaged, the roof ripped off in the middle of the night, but the injuries are nowhere like what they have been experiencing in the South.

I thought about taking a picture but didn’t get around to it while making sure nothing was seriously damaged by the hail, or the minor flooding in the garage as the driveway drain couldn’t keep up.  Fortunately, my mom took a picture with her phone out their door:

Hail from the latest round of storms

The white on the ground is actually dark brown mulch, covered in hail…
We were lucky, around an inch, they had golf ball sized around here also.

 

Totally unrelated to the weather, another blow to the medical and insurance industries credibility, at least in my eyes.  I am becoming so frustrated by the cost of things under insurance.  I’ve actually changed to several local programs for generics because it’s cheaper than the mail order generic my insurance program wants me to use…

I wear a CPAP at night, have for several years.  I have obstructive sleep apnea and have had it for a while.  Fortunately I was diagnosed and treated.  It does however raise an awareness, one that many people have found I’m sure, that when you have to buy medical supplies, there are rackets, and there are rackets.  Because I was laid off for a while I delayed calling in to get my mask, tube and filters until we had insurance again.  I could have bought them outright, they are sold all over the place, but when you’ve been accustomed to you have insurance for a reason and you use it, it’s just second nature.  I called my normal DME (Durable Medical Equipment I think) supplier today, they provided the CPAP and supplies in the first place and I have reordered every year since at least once a year.  When she asked if my insurance was still the same I told her no, it had changed since last year and who my carrier was now.  She promptly told me they don’t accept that carrier, but I could still buy it but probably would be better off looking elsewhere.  So, out of curiosity I asked how much just the mask would be… drum roll please… the mask I have paid like $25 for is over $200 when bought through them without insurance.  I can buy the whole mask and headgear for around $135 online in multiple places online, and I can buy the gel insert and cover for  $33, which is really the only part that needs to be replaced regularly (assuming you don’t break the plastic shell, and it’s design has gotten better so now there aren’t too many weak points.

I haven’t gone to my insurance company yet, and at this point I will probably buy the parts using my flexible spending account, which is another new things to me, but that’s a conversation for another time I’m sure.  But the moral of the story is apparently that insurance doesn’t take as much care of you as it used to…