Sep. 24th, 2017 01:14 pm
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The tomatoes were do delicious today! I left them on the vine longer -- out of laziness -- and they were very red and sweet! I covered them in a blue cheese dressing and some torn up basil leaves.

The tomatoes from out back were nicely red today!

There was a Painted Lady on the Asters yesterday...Still hoping for some larger butterflies!
Painted Lady (?) Butterfly
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I go weeks between Portuguese lessons...This morning at breakfast, I went back online, and the lessons started me back at a quiz that I failed the first time....I have a vague memory from a few weeks ago of it being late at night and me getting exasperated and not re-trying the quiz again.

(You can retake the quizzes over and over until you pass -- the questions change a little each time. And you have to pass the quiz to continue to the next lesson.)

Problem with this course is that sometimes they ask me things in a quiz that I have NEVER heard! So, what happens is that I might miss that question and then see the correct answer. But this particular quiz had A LOT of things I had never heard. I tried the quiz about 4 times before I finally made it through!

Anyways, I've been doing the 'Portuguese' thing this morning, including listening to some Bossa Nova --
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I will miss warm weather! I did get a lot done this Summer, but I also feel like I have't been to the river as much as I normally would..and I never biked again after my Bisti trip!

I also realized it's September, so I need to get down to the river and look for some Pawpaws! UPDATE: I went to the river today -- sadly the Pawpaw season is past! I usually get down mid August....and nearly October is too late. No more pawpaws :(

Had ice cream and walked around with Nh tonight -- I have decided to stop calling him the '21 year old' because 1) he will get older and 2) It's not important. I enjoy our conversations (both in person and via text), and I enjoyed hanging out with him tonight :)

A former couch surfer had another stay here with me this past week. I enjoyed hosting him. One thing I realized - I like living alone, and I'm used to it. But I also like having someone to talk to, so after the guest left, I realized the house was empty again.

My car has been in the shop for 2 weeks getting body work done, after the I hit that fence post...the rental was getting expensive, so I'm glad they finished it! And it's nice to have my own car back!

Not much photography in the last few days -- I did post a pic of Deege at the wine festival last weekend. Actually, it's a picture of a humongous pile of freshly fried chips that we shared, with him in the background!
Pile of chips with a friend


Sep. 18th, 2017 08:02 pm
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Nice weekend...Wine with 1 at a friend's with a visit to a wine tasting festival....found a thrift store clown to take (hopefully) creepy pics of...what more could I ask?

And I have a previous couch surfer staying again for a few days.




Sep. 16th, 2017 11:07 am
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My Flickr feed is turning into the bug and hummingbird show...I need to get out and take some different stuff!

I believe this is a hickory tussock moth (Lophocampa caryae) -- it is outside eating my geraniums :) I think the hair is intended to irritate your skin if you handle it, but otherwise harmless. As long as he doesn't completely strip my geraniums, I don't care if he eats!
White Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar

In other news, couch surfer #2 is coming back this week for another visit, as he makes his way around the US -- an extended move that will end up on the west coast. I don't know where he's planning to land, but I know he visited Portland a while back, and I can totally see him living in Portland -- he already has that vibe to him.

Book Club

Sep. 14th, 2017 05:49 pm
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Book club was so amazingly coincidental last night!

Remember -- I am new. And the other guys have been doing this for umpteen years. But another new guy came last night. He's older, like the other guys.

The book we were reading last night was a set of vignette true stories from the city's 1890s. Think -- crimes and famous people and scandals from the 1890s. The book also mentioned my home county twice -- once for lynching a black man, and once for anti-women's rights.

So as we are discussing the book, I mentioned how depressing that my home county showed up twice for those kinds of activities. One thing led to another, and I found out that the other new guy USED TO BE MY TEACHER IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL...omfg. Really? I knew he had looked familiar...and he remembered me.  It was pretty crazy!

Turns out he was 22 when he taught me, and I would have been about he's only 10 years or so older.  

It was just a crazy fracking coincidence!
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I enjoyed my Brazilian friends' 1 year old's birthday party least at the end.

I am an American. We are generally pontual. Brazilians? Nope...not so much -- not pontual -- nope, not at all! The invite said it started at I got there when? At 4 of course, lol!

But that is NOT when it actually started!

As a side note -- my Portuguese is probably only level A2 in the European Common Language Level. Meaning, I cannot understand full speed Portuguese!

When I got there -- early by Brazilian standards -- my friend had to LEAVE and he didn't come back for like an hour, lol! So, I sat there, by myself, texting friends on my phone -- I didn't know anyone and didn't speak the language! People were all around me...talking...laughing...and then there is poor me, by myself, lol!

Anyways after he returned, I enjoyed myself...but it was pretty darned uncomfortable for an hour or so!

Needless to say, I am tired...but I'm glad that I can put myself in uncomfortable situations!

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When I took pics before of a Hummingbird Moth before, it was a Hemaris diffinis. Diffinis is smaller and looks like a bumblebee. So unless you are watching how it flies around the flowers, you might never notice that it is not a bumblebee.

Today I saw one that was bigger and green... I submitted the picture to the online database, and it was identified as what I thought it was -- a Hemaris thysbe.

I really am fascinated by these moths that come out during the day, and which hover and suck nectar like hummingbirds...but have the proboscis of a butterfly!

Hemaris thysbe

Hemaris thysbe
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A couple weeks ago, my grandmother's lemon tree turned over in a strong gust of wind. The pot broke, and I noticed how root bound it had become! I believe it has been in this same clay pot since the year 2003, when a hurricane knocked it over and broke the clay pot it was in then.

I had trouble handling the tree because it is so big! I had to break the rest of the pot to get it out.

And I needed to cut the root bound roots to make them grow outwards, but I was afraid the whole rootball would break down, so I put it in the new pot before I cut the roots -- but I couldn't do as good a job of breaking up the root bound roots as I would like to have because I could not get my hand and exacto knife down into the crack.

I bought a new bigger plastic pot, which unfortunately has made the tree pretty hard to handle! I think this is the last pot she will be in -- I have rooted several new plants, and will continue to root.

And by the way, I think that it's pretty cool to have a lemon tree that my grandmother grew from a seed, and here it is 18 years after she died, and I still have her tree and I'm rooting new plants!


Sep. 9th, 2017 01:53 pm
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I haven't posted much because I have been busy!

Very nice dinner 2 nights ago with friends, fun birthday dinner with friends last night, dinner tonight with friends from undergraduate...a cupcake birthday party for my Brazilian friends' 1 year old tomorrow...

Discussing Lycanthropy with the 21 year old....doing some gardening....all in all a pretty nice time, but busy.

One of the previous couch surfers is supposed to stay here in a week, so that gives me an excuse to have to clean the house!
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A couple of friends bought a beach house as a 2nd house during this past year. I went up to visit them and see the house yesterday.

Fun day -- eating, visiting a winery, etc. I love how close their house is to the beach -- like just across the street!

At the end of the day as we were sitting on the beach, I took a few shots of the river --
Visiting friends at the river!

Visiting friends at the river!

Visiting friends at the river!

Visiting friends at the river!

Here's a selfie with Deege --

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I downloaded and watched a Sci Fi movie tonight called Interstellar. I often have pretty low expectations for Sci-Fi -- a lot of them are just intended to be action packed movies to sell tickets (I'm looking at you, Independence Day)...

But Interstellar had some meat to it! It was pretty emotional -- I'm not one to get emotional at movies too much, but I have to admit I teared up in a few places!

The title of this post is a line from a parent -- saying that after children are born, parents' roles are to be memories for their kids. That line resonated with me! But it's not just parents -- after a certain age, I think all older peoples' roles become to be memories for the next generations!

Besides being emotional, the movie also explored sufficiently nerdy ideas (like time as a dimension and space travel) to definitely warrant the Sci-Fi category, and the movie is definitely worth a watch!

Rainy Day

Aug. 29th, 2017 08:01 pm
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Feeling a little under the weather today, so I worked from home again. It's been raining all day -- and we need the rain for sure -- I was taking some shots of raindrops as they hit the water on the deck --

Today, I've been missing that friend that I used to hang out with -- where it just seemed we stopped hanging out with each other. By the way, his birthday present is still sitting in the house! I can't quite bring myself to take it out of the bag and use it myself yet...I don't let go of emotional attachments very quickly!

I can't remember if I ever posted this's starts with the Biblical plagues in Exodus but then explores ancient Egyptian afterlife themes...I love the music (who doesn't like Death singing a jazzy song?)...and I think the flat graphic imagery totally matches flat Egyptian hieroglyphics.

And a little queer, Brazilian music --

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I had a nice weekend -- hung out with the 21 year old friend Friday night, when we walked around the river and then had Ethiopian food for dinner. And another night, dinner with a couple of friends from undergrad - pizza and ice cream!

One thing that happened lately surprised me...I think some of my friends had "assumed" that the 21 year old and I were aiming towards something's still at university! And the difference in our ages is more than his age, lol!

I try not to judge someone else who might be in that sort of relationship, but for me there's WAY too much age difference in our ages for me to date him! Basically, when he and I get around each other, I go into "uncle mode", and we jabber about our lives for hours, and we text a lot. But romance? Not in the plan...

I was actually thinking about why - and I think it's because he is not on his own yet - he's still a student, and he has to decide what his life will be, so I would be interfering with that. I think he's planning to stay in town...and I do hope he and I keep in touch, but I don't think a physical relationship would qualify as "right action" (read "right action" as "ethical conduct"), in the Buddhist sense, lol

But I like hanging out with him....and I'm gonna keep doing it, as long as he wants to! Young gay men need older role models -- the AIDS epidemic took a whole generation of folks my age and older, so I think some younger gay men have never interacted with a stable older gay man. Not suggesting I'm hanging out with the 21 year old because of altruism -- I really do like him...but I also like being "Uncle Bart"...or "Pops" as he called me the other day, lol!

....Another thought about when something similar happened -- I remember when I tried my hand at nude photography back during my last Sabbatical, where the model was like 27 or something. It was a totally professional, legit thing.

But at least one guy I knew totally assumed that the model and I had had sex -- even when I explained that it was just a modeling session, I could tell he didn't believe me. And I don't know why -- because if the model and I had played around, I would have said so!

Fast forward to the other end of the age spectrum, and my book club (the one I attended a few weeks ago for the 1st time) is coming up again, and I still have to read the book! In this club, I am the young one, where everyone else is about 10+ years older than me!

I haven't been out too much with the camera -- mostly sticking close to home. Here's a photo of a dragonfly in the garden. I took it with a 70-200mm lens with a 1.4x extender. And I cropped the result

Basically, I did a macro shot with a zoom lens -- it's not like dragonflies want you getting up in their face with a macro lens!

Blue Dasher in the garden.

I like how the yellow Coreopsis flowers show up in the bokeh blur in the background. I like how blue his eyes are (he's a "Blue Dasher"). I like that I can see detail in his wings, and also patterns in his eyes! And I like seeing the hairs on his legs, lol!

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I spent a lot of time with the camera this weekend! It was good and I enjoyed myself, but I have given myself a rest period today...I noticed the bikers returning from the races in the park tonight...I'd like to get over there and practice my panning on them before they stop for the Fall!

I had not been completely satisfied with the hummingbird least until yesterday when I got a couple pics that I liked!
Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Hummingbird sitting in a tree

This one was when I put the camera on its back under the feeder, taking pictures at intervals --
From underneath the hummingbird feeder

Originally, I was hand-holding the camera, but when I walked too close to the feeder, the birds flew away.

Then, I put the camera on the tripod taking intervals. But I wasn't happy with the shutter motion or depth of field focus.

The final solution was to stand in place near the porch but in the garden...and they returned. Often it was about 10 minutes before they stopped by my feeder. As long as I was slow in motion while photo taking, they seemed to be okay with me being there.
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It was a lot of fun ... and HOT ... standing in the sun waiting for the eclipse. I finally had to put hat and shirt on to protect my lily white, Irish skin! I had my glasses on to watch the sky, and I remember texting friends and family when I first noticed the 'flat edge' to the the moon was just starting to come between us and the sun.

The clouds came in right after max eclipse, so I only got photos up to and including the maximum. And that was fine. Here's the requisite selfie in the hot sun --

I really enjoyed doing this -- I remember being amazed that I could see the 'weak light' -- like a cloud had gone over the sun, except there was no cloud over the sun. I can only imagine the reports from a friend's relatives of seeing stars in the middle of the afternoon!

Camera taking intervals (you can see I was able to re-use the home-made filter that I described making in a previous post) --

This was a few minutes before max --
About 10 minutes before the max exclipse here

This is a collage of pics at different times --
Solar Eclipse 2017 Collage

I had read that the light/shadows under trees would show the eclipse...I kept walking around looking but not seeing anything. And then at a certain stage, I totally saw are the crescents on the porch --
Crescents on the porch from the eclipse

And crescents on the calçada--

It was a good time...I'm glad I got to see it...Maybe I'll go see a full eclipse sometime!

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About a week ago, I decided I wanted to try my hand at photographing the eclipse in a couple days. I went online to see what materials I would need.

Of course, you need solar glasses to look directly at the sun. And I also needed a way to protect the camera. I did not want to spend a couple hundred bucks on a solar filter that would fit my lens, so I bought a sheet of solar film and constructed my own filter.

Solar Glasses

Here are a couple pair of solar glasses --

They work well -- the sun turns into a dull yellow ball. You cannot see ANYTHING ELSE -- everything is all black (except for the sun) because the glasses block so much light.

Home-made Solar Filter for the Camera

The sheet of solar film arrived sandwiched between 2 pieces of cardboard.

I could have just used the sheet by attaching it to the end of the lens with a rubber band. But there was only 1 sheet, and I needed to do a practice run. So, I decided to cut it and some cardboard and make my own filter.

My first thought was to cut a piece of cardboard to the right size, then tape the film onto it. Here's the cardboard with the hole in it.

It didn't really work well -- it was too flimsy, and could fall off easily.

So I got a piece of paper -- one that was less stiff than cardboard, but still a bit stiff. And I cut a strip, which I wrapped around and taped 1 end of the strip to the other to make a kind of tube.

Then I taped the solar film over the end of the tube. I used a rubber-band to hold the tube to the lens.

That seemed to work well enough. It felt stable on the lens, and it made it through my practice session.

Camera Settings

First off, I decided on my camera settings:
 ISO:  100
 f/stop:  f/8.0
 Shutter:  1/500 (Later edit -- this was NOT long enough -- too fast! Thankfully, I bracketed. The ones that worked the best were around 1/250
-- so if I did it again, I might try something around that, and bracket.)
 Focus:  Manual and set to infinity
 Bracketing: I bracketed up and down 2 stops, but having looked at the results, I think I will only go 1.5 stops during the eclipse.
White Balance:  I set this to what the camera calls "Sunlight", which is 5200K I believe.
 Intervals: I used the intervalometer to open the shutter every 10 seconds.  Because I was bracketing and using continuous mode, the camera took 3 shots every 10 seconds (1 normal, 1 under-exposed and 1 over-exposed).

To get that to happen, I set the LONG to 1, the INTVL to 10, and the N to 0.

Lens and Zoom 200mm lens with a 1.4 extender on a crop sensor what does that give me....200mm * 1.4 (extender) * 1.6 (crop factor), or about 448 effectively?

I'm not sure if that is's my guess at how it works.
Other Settings: I turned image stabilization off on the lens -- why have it on and lose f/stops when the camera is going to sit on the tripod?

I may have to change my settings on Monday as the eclipse gets near the 86% mark (which will be our max eclipse here).

Practice Session

One of the goals of the session was to determine how much time the sun would be in view of my lens -- with the lens zoomed in, how long would the sun stay in front of the camera?

Turns out..not long! These 2 images were about 5 minutes apart, which looks like the sun has moved about a 1/4 way across the screen (and down)...meaning, I'll only get 20 minutes of shots before I have to move the lens.

Which begs the question -- what exactly do I want to photograph? I really don't want to spend all my time fooling around with the camera during the eclipse -- I would prefer to watch it with my eyes through my glasses.

But I do want some photos, so I suspect I will aim the camera near the beginning of the eclipse...then move it to take some photos in the middle...and that may be all I take.

Here's the camera set up outside. Note how sharply angled it is! This was a time when I SORELY missed the articulating screen that my Rebel has! With this camera, I had to kneel and look upwards to see the screen!

After the Practice Thoughts

One of the nice things for me about photography is that there is always something else to learn to do.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast looks like we may have clouds on Monday so I may or may not get any eclipse photos. But just doing this practice session, and learning about solar film and camera settings for an eclipse has been fun!

Practicing for the eclipse on Monday....

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I liked this silhouette of a hummingbird sitting in the Crepe Myrtle out front.
Hummingbird Silhouette

The hummingbird is still a bit shy of me, so I can't get too close. The pic below is heavily cropped. It surprises me because in most situations, I have found that hummingbirds don't mind humans. Maybe this bird has just not had very much human exposure.
Hummingbird Sittin' in a Tree...
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I originally thought we should put the Confederate monuments into a museum setting of some sort -- as teaching lessons about history.

After Charlottesville, I say tear them down.

Most of them were raised in the early 1900s as part of Jim Crow. They have no place in America now.


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."