Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I think it's one of those Coke/New Coke/Classic Coke type conspiracies

Does anyone else remember when you used to go into a music store, and have to decide if you were going to go all the way and spend $17 for the CD, or if you were just taking the cheap way out and get the record for $9.99?

My curiosity is killing me

I am just dying to know what make of car is being kept underneath this cover.  Aren't you?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The bullnettle


With all the flower photos I have been taking around my house, for lack of anything better to photograph, I felt compelled to shoot this fine specimen.  This plant also has small white blossoms, but they are past the flowering stage now.  I know from experience that these don't grow much in the S.A. area, but they are common and cursed out here in the sandhills.

Once I mentioned this plant to a co-worker, and he had never seen one, so I cut one off and took it to work with me the next day to show to him.  He was impressed, I guess, if that's the right word.  I put it back in my truck and he asked me why I didn't just throw it in the trash.  I told him I wasn't going to take a chance with it escaping into the wild in S.A. because I didn't want to be responsible for that.

There are lots of "regular" nettle plants that grow in the S.A. area, but the pain they can inflict if you accidentally bump into one is so minimal that I don't even consider them as real threats.  If you ever bump into one of these, you will know about it.

This plant is called a bullnettle.  By the way, I learned from my grandmother that those big clumpy-looking things on them, which she called "bullnettle nuts," are technically edible, but in my opinion getting at the "meat" is more trouble than it's worth.  Although I have done it, to satisfy my own curiosity.  I used leather work gloves and two pocket knives.

Dave, if you read this, this plant also probably grows in the area of your new home.  They are very hard to get rid of, and I learned from a very young age to simply avoid them.  When I was a kid, we had one very large specimen--it would have put this one to shame--that kept coming back after it was cut off.  So one day my dad decided to dig out the root.  The thing he eventually pulled out of the ground was about 4 feet long and probably 5 inches thick at its thickest point, and he didn't even get the whole root.  He cut it off deep in the ground and re-buried it, and that was enough to finally kill it.

Once when I was a teenager, I was helping my dad to herd our cows and as I was running around to cut them off and head them in the right direction, I was paying too much attention to the cows and not looking where I was going.  I ran right over one of these that was waist-high on me and got the full effect of it in both legs.  Man, that hurt.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


A phone shot from yesterday.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The eyes! The dead, staring eyes!

I stumbled across this inexplicable scene of papier-mâché horror today somewhere on W. Laurel.  At least they died smiling.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Old safe

I saw this on Steves near S. Presa last Friday.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Riverwalk expansion construction

I took this with my phone today.  This is a shot of some of the Riverwalk expansion construction from a spot that most people will never go--and really have no reason to go there--unless you live there or are reading the water meter.  The location is about right here.  For a long time this meter never got used, until the construction began and then the meter was replaced with a new one and now it gets used all the time.  I think it was originally for irrigation of the riverbank area but I'm not completely sure.*  It's most likely now being used for the construction work, because all of the new Riverwalk irrigation is going to be with recycled water.  If you ever go by some place where they're doing construction and you see a network of purple pipes all over the place, that's the future irrigation system.  All irrigation pipes, meters, etc., are that color of purple.  If you click to enlarge and look closely just to the right of center, you can see the Tower of the Americas peeking over the treeline.

By the way, all of the S.A. golf courses used recycled water for irrigation, too.  The Toyota plant and some of the other businesses that cover a lot of area also use recycled irrigation water--for example that big bakery out on highway 87 east.

*There are a lot of old irrigation meters scattered around that were put there long ago, before the recycling project began, and are now just sitting there, unused for years--even decades.  Many of the islands in the downtown area were originally equipped with irrigation, but then later they were bricked or paved over to reduce water usage, and the old meters are still there, doing nothing.

Lantana close-up


Lantana in my "front yard," if you can call it that.  Today's camera practice.  In the area where I live, which is known as "the sandhills" because of the extremely sandy soil, lantana does not grow wild.  Our property was briefly owned by someone else before we bought it, and although whoever it was never put a house on it, he did install a water meter and a septic tank before putting it back up for sale.  I think he must have planted this lantana bush too, because it's the only one I've seen growing anywhere around here.

We meter readers usually refer to this as !@#$%^& lantana because of the way it likes to swarm over water meters.  I've also seen a lightly bluish-purple variety growing in yards and flower beds around S.A., and I would actually like to get some of that because the color is much more agreeable to me than orange and yellow.

I adjusted the contrast on this because the intense sunlight here tends to bleach the colors out.  I also scaled it down to 1024x768 because I didn't think a big 3000+ pixel graphic was really necessary.

By the way, I was going to only buy a 4 gig card for this camera, but they had a 16 gig card on sale for only $5 more, so I got it instead.  Even at the high-res setting, that 16 gig card will hold well over 7,000 pictures.  Holy cow.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Smoke angel

My first attempt at photographing smoke.  I'll try a better setup some other time.  Not good enough to put on my Flickr photostream, but okay for the blog, I guess.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another flower

I don't know what this flower is, it's just another of those flowers that I always see.  So I'm kind of ashamed I don't know the name of it.  I found a flower on the internet called the coneflower that looks similar to it, but the coloration wasn't the same.  I'm going to have to get a good book on Texas wildflowers so I can ID all these things.

I took a walk around the place today with the camera to see what I could see, and well, there isn't much to photograph in the back of the place--just very dense brush.  I kept my eyes on the ground to see if I could find a copperhead back there in the leaves, but not today.  I ended up taking 66 photos and there were only two that I thought were fit for anyone to see, and they are both of this flower but from different angles.  You can see the other one at my photostream.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sunrise reflecting from the Alamodome

I took this about 7:00 yesterday morning from S. Cherry.  The fuzzy ghost at the bottom is either my gloved finger or part of the new case that I recently got for my phone.  It was obscuring the camera lens and I was still figuring out how to work around it.  I worked it out today with a couple of other pix.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I don't get it

Another phone photo, so it was very overexposed in the bright sun yesterday, but that's a caricature of Ben Franklin with a pipe wrench, or that's what it's supposed to be, anyway.

Is there a Franklin/plumbing connection of which I am unaware?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Another song from my childhood

Okay, I can tell you why I remembered this one. I don't remember how it started, but I saw a picture of the group of Greasers from The Outsiders and couldn't identify them all, so I looked it up on (the one I couldn't ID was Rob Lowe).  I saw in the credits that Gailard Sartain had been in it, so I looked him up to see what all of his acting credits were.  Then I hopped over to Wikipedia and looked up Hee Haw, which led me to this song.

For some reason I was always fascinated by that guy playing the snare drum.  My favorite Hee Haw girl was the one in the black dress with the long black hair.  What was her name?  I wonder who that skinny woman with the big glasses was.  I don't remember her.

Squirrel drinking from bird bath


Taken through the front door glass. High zoom (partly digital), so the quality isn't all there, but not bad I guess.  I retouched this one a little.

Two more pix


Another black-eyed susan. I know I already posted one yesterday, but they grow in wild abundance around my house and give me lots of opportunities to practice macro photography. This one was not edited at all, unlike the one I posted yesterday, which I cropped and adjusted the colors a little to make it brighter and deeper. This one is SOOC (straight out of the camera), with some tiny feeding insect on it.


Here is another of my cameras, a Pentax Spotmatic F, mid-70s era (Pentax stopped making the Spotmatic in 1976, and I think the F model was the last of the variations, or nearly the last).  Of course this one is fully manual with no zoom capability.  I also have an early-90s era Minolta but the Pentax has more character.  When I get roped into taking pictures of some family event, I usually load the Minolta with 100 or 200 ISO film and use it for outdoors, and load the Pentax with 400 ISO for use indoors without a flash.

My wife and I purchased the Minolta when we were first married so we would have a good camera for preserving memories.  The acquisition of the Pentax is more storied.  Back in the early 90s one of my cousin-in-laws was busted for possession of an illegal substance that starts with "m" and of course all his property was confiscated by the state as part of their war on drugs racket.  Everything, that is, except his boat, which was docked at Canyon Lake and was therefore overlooked since he didn't offer any information about it.  This camera was in the boat.  He gave my dad the boat and all its contents in return for bailing him out of jail.  My dad wasn't really interested in learning how to properly use the camera so he turned it over to me (my dad kept the boat).  I was able to gather from reading a book on photography that this camera had a light meter and required a battery for the meter to operate, so I took it to a camera shop that used to be on Gulfdale to find out what battery I needed.  The original battery that this camera used is no longer made because it was made with mercury, and had a kind of odd rating of 1.3 volts, but the guy there had already worked on this model and made a small conversion that allowed it to use a modern 1.5-volt battery of the same physical size, which didn't cost me very much at all.  I was able to download a pdf of the original manual recently, which was nice.

I'll have to ask my wife where all our photos are stashed.  I might be able to find a few that are fit to be scanned and shared.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New camera and some sample pix

I have been almost desperate for a decent digital camera for some time now, and have been doing a lot of research and deciding how much I could afford to spend. Today I got a Canon Powershot SX150 at Best Buy. The price had been marked down to $149. This is only a wild guess, but I think the price reduction on this one must be because it's about to be replaced by a newer model. Original price for it was $249.

I still have a lot to learn about using it--by the way it's definitely not a DSLR, but it's somewhat more sophisticated than a basic point & shoot. Anyway, you can expect there to be a lot of gratuitous amateur photography here in the future.

 I think this guy is a Texas Spotted Whiptail lizard.  I just got lucky and spooked him into some leaves as I was walking down the driveway.  I took several pix of him, and in this one I caught him with his eyes closed.  Blinking?  The way this camera works in auto mode is it uses optical zoom until the optical zoom is at its maximum, and if you keep zooming from there it switches to digital zoom.  I try to stay away from digital zoom but this one still looks pretty good even with some digital zoom involved.

 Indian Blanket.  This one and the one below I cropped for a better aspect.

Black-Eyed Susan.


This is my favorite for today.  By the way, anyone want a puppy?  We have three, all male, two black and one brown.

I'm really happy how sharp these turned out.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Okay, but

What if you have a door that you can lock without a key?  Then you'll just lock yourself out of your house.  Also, why on earth do you keep your shoes in the refrigerator?*

*Let's avoid the obvious quip:  "so he'll have some place to store his keys."  Thanks.

Monday, May 07, 2012


Click.  Design your own settings if you want.  This map is based on a ground zero of the Tower of Americas, with a bomb the power of the first U.S. h-bomb.  Try the presets and see just how piddling the Nagasaki bomb was compared to what's possible now.

A good improvised terrorist bomb would utterly destroy downtown.  And that's no exaggeration.

A great xkcd comic

Even if you don't usually read the web comic xkcd, I recommend checking out this one, because it's quite imaginative, uses very clever rhymes, and is also funny.

I'm not really familiar with the"modern major general" song, although I have heard it, so I just used that "Super***" song.  Sing it out loud to yourself and it will be even better.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Bad analogies

My Ear-Trumpet Has Been Struck By Lightning has some of the worst analogies written by high school students.

Except...I really like #6.  I think I might steal it someday.

Christopher Bowes official video: David Tennant's Hands

Christopher Bowes is the lead singer of Alestorm, the pirate metal band which I've mentioned before.  This is completely different.  Bowes goes into crooner mode while playing along with an electronic organ.  The full album is available for a free legal download; link at YouTube.  I got quite a good laugh out of this.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

A rare post about art

As great a work of art as da Vinci's The Last Supper is, it has always seemed somehow awkward to me.  Just now I have realized why.  I suppose Leonardo wanted to get everyone's faces in the picture, and that's why it is the way it is, but doesn't look a little too much staged?

It's like when on a TV show, there's always one side of the table that is vacant:  the side toward the camera.  It's easier to film that way, and let's face it, no actor on a TV show wants to sit with the back of his head toward the camera.  That's what Da Vinci's painting looks like to me.

I just realized this because I have just seen The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist by Nicolas Poussin.  Doesn't it look so much better?  A close, secluded, poorly-lighted room rather than that bright, airy space of da Vinci's.  And let's face it, if you were one of the apostles, wouldn't you move your seat somewhere nearer Jesus if you saw that one whole side of the table was empty?

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


Clearing out some work pix.

I'm familiar with the phrase "cleft of the rock," but I'm not sure what a "clift" is.


And some big flower that I thought I'd grab with my phone.

I've been looking (online) at some digital cameras, and pretty much decided what I want.  I had intended to get one on Monday, but unfortunately the repair to my car is taking longer than expected and I'm going to be grounded pretty much all week.  The good news is the warranty is paying for the fix.  I don't intend to take a camera with me when I'm working, but I am planning on combining my new hobby of geocaching with some photography (my intended other new hobby).

I also dug out the old Pentax Spotmatic that I acquired some time ago and got a new battery for the light meter.  I had also intended to have a roll of test film developed by now to see how it does, because I haven't used it in a long time, but I kind of ran out of things to photograph around the house.

I like the old Pentax because it's completely manually operated.  The digital camera I'm looking at has plenty of automatic functions but can be switched to manual, and also has a macro mode.  I'm hoping the car will be ready by Friday, so maybe I can do something Friday afternoon or Saturday.

Today's internet idiot: Jacinda Frost

Maybe the spammers are now able to strip plain text emails from web pages now, I don't know.  And I'm sure they don't care how stupid they look sometimes.  But this one definitely gave me a chuckle.

The article in question, if you recall, was about heavy metal music.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Griff the Invisible (movie, 2010)

Australian, 2010, 90 minutes, PG-13 (for violence, I guess). I watched this movie today (Netflix streaming). A strange little tale of Griff, a socially crippled young man with super strength who, with his new and unexpected girlfriend Melody, tries to develop a suit of invisibility to further aid him in his crime-fighting endeavors.  Melody, meanwhile, is convinced that with the right frame of mind, she should be able to pass through solid walls.  Griff is also tormented by a bullying co-worker and aided in trying to live a normal life by his older brother.

Eventually, Griff is able to become invisible and Melody learns to pass through solid walls.

Or do they?

I gave it 4 stars.