It’s time for another book review. This one has been a long time coming and one I almost didn’t get through. To this day, the only book I have started but not finished is Tommyknockers by Stephen King which managed to bore the crap out of me by about 50 pages in. As another worthless tidbit, the only book I ever Cliffed in my academic career was Moby Dick because I had little interest in wasting my time reading about revenge on a sperm whale. Summary, it takes a lot for me to actually give up on a book but halfway through this particular effort and I was beginning to regret picking it up at night. This actually reads a little harsher that it really is meant to be, but it is somewhat amplified by the fact I have read many of Malcolm Gladwell’s book and for the most part, they have been good reads. The last one fell below expectations (see Outliers), so I was hoping for a rebound of such with this latest offering. What the Dog Saw is really a collection of articles written for the New Yorker over the last 10 years or so. Collections like this are generally ideal for my nighttime reading since I can consume the topic and not have to carry thoughts or plots over to the next time I get a chance to pick it up. There is one key point to that concept.. the topic needs to provide some return on time investment be it something that expands my knowledge, provides an interesting perspective on a known topic or at least keeps me entertained – take for example the similarly crafted book from AJ Jacobs (see Experiment). Unfortunately, many of these articles fell outside this scope. On the positive side, the discussion on investing significant money to improve the life of the homeless to reduce their drain on society was interesting as well as the discussion on interviewing concepts (a topic that has always interested me), the wolf cries that led up to tragic events and for some strange reason the story on ketchup dominance held my interest until the end. These highlights were overshadowed, however, by the discussion of Cesar Milan and the completely worthless entry on plagiarism. I’ve given Malcolm a good deal of my valuable time invested in reading his books. I think I’ve come to a point where I’ll concentrate on other authors for awhile.
It’s good to get the first book of the year out of the way, but it was a sobering experience to head out to Walgreens on my birthday to purchase some reading glasses. I am just thankful I went with LASIK to eliminate the need to invest in bifocals (shudder). Here’s to a new year of reading!
Hit the jump to read my takeaways
Continue reading Book Recollection: What The Dog Saw
I got a surprise this morning when I checked the blog. I thought I was actually ahead of the game but it turns out my post output is lagging a bit. For some reason I thought I was already at 5 which put me right where I wanted to be – knowing the topic for the final post was already determined. Not a huge problem, just means I had to dive back into the Yellowstone trip pictures, do a little post processing, upload to our Smugmug site and I’m all set. Well, except for the hard part of actually writing something.
Having uttered the word “rats” when I tallied the posts this morning, I thought it would be fitting to go with the proverbial “rat” of the prairie lands. Fortunate not to live in an area infested with these rodents, I can still relate to the feeling having to constantly battle moles. There are two major differences when it comes to Prairie Dogs, one negative and one positive. On the negative side their destructive capabilities far exceed our local moles. Now, on the positive side, they can be so darn cute! Contrast that with moles which have to be the most hideous creature ever to crawl this earth.
Case in point, look at this scared little creature. Out there all alone in the wild wondering where it’s next meal will come from. Living in a state of constant worry if some human is going to pick them off with a high powered rifle just for fun or some taloned demon was going to descend from the sky and whisk away their brothers or sisters.
It is obvious they are clever creatures (as, of course, all dogs are!). Just look at this example of how they’ve adapted to their dangerous surroundings.
The distant and vacant gaze paired with the stiff joint walk – what predator in their right mind would even come close to touching a ZOMBIE!?! Umm, that would be NONE. (It might want to roll in the remains of a wolf kill to take that disguise to the next level (although recommend, waiting until the wolves move on). I should probably mention that these shots were actually taken at Custer State Park. We took a drive through there on our way back from the Yellowstone National Park trip.
Hit the jump to read more about these playful creatures.
Continue reading Rats, I’m Down a Post
Against my best wishes, January continues to fly by. It is already the middle of the month and I am behind on a number of tasks I set out for myself for 2012. Part of that is due to finally initiating Project Aunnauld – this one is going to take awhile so don’t look for posts on that for a few months (at least). In my spare cycles I’m still trying to make it through the Yellowstone shots so guess what? Yep, another post. Unlike some of the previous ones, this set is what I consider sub-par. There are times when it is fulfilling to just be able to slap the mirror and say you captured the moment whether it is tack sharp or not… which is usually photography speak for “I blew it”. This set is more of the former based on being closer to a miracle than a failure. If you have spent time on this blog at all you should be aware we invested in a rather large glass we affectionately call The Beast thanks to it’s beefy structure. It is hard to actually demonstrate the reach this zoom glass has without first experiencing it through the viewfinder. This set might just help out in this area… let’s begin shall we?
So here is a shot of the mountainside at 80mm which is the low end of the zoom on our workhorse glass.
Are you seeing anything of interest in that shot.. maybe some large animal(s) out for a stroll? Hint #1 – remember on the previous post where I mentioned that we spent the week scanning for butts in the horizon (link here)? well, that pretty much came into play here.
Still not seeing anything of interest? Hint #2, I chose not to go with the Rule of Thirds to make it a little easier on you.
If you give up, hit the jump for a huge clue.
Continue reading A Walking Frigidaire or ???
I’ve been hoofin it lately to get the pictures of Yellowstone’s big boys post processed and uploaded to the Smugmug galleries (link here). This particular set posed a bit of a problem due to the noise that came from the high ISO they were shot at. If I remember correctly, all but the last shot here was taken the first day we were in Yellowstone and has the distinction of being the second animal we encountered out there (and reason why it was selected as the second post of the large mammal series). Giselle and David were with us that morning and they actually alerted us to the spot where we found this specimen.
They had a similar encounter on a previous outing out there. As predicted, we found this particular one taking a stroll along the rocky slopes. I was eager to try out the Beast but to be honest was still trying to get comfortable with it. As a result I overcompensated with the ISO on a few of the shots to address a dreary (and cold) morning. This left some extra post processing to get rid of the additional noise and draw out some extra clarity/sharpness. Most importantly, it gave me a chance to get some practice shots off before we entered the heart of Yellowstone. These first two are definitely my favorites of the set since you can quickly distinguish the animal from the background.
Hit the Jump to view the rest of the shots
Continue reading (Not So) Bighorn Sheep
As you are aware, there was a big push to get through the “Birds of Yellowstone” before the end of the year. The reason for that is I wanted to get to the larger mammals inhabiting that incredible national park. Rest assured, my camera wasn’t just pointed at our feathered friends (well, at least not ALLL the time). Nope, we were constantly on the lookout for those animals we do not get to see much back here in Illinois. Let’s start with those fleet of foot Pronghorns. This is somewhat in tribute to being the first animal to greet us as we passed through the Yellowstone Arch. Immediately off to the right, grazing in the fields, was a couple of Pronghorns pretty much oblivious to our presence.
The above shot is actually on of my favorites from the Yellowstone collection. It was taken in full on Beast mode (400mm) letting us reach out and virtually touch them. This is one of those poses that I affectionately call “The Predator’s View”. For those people locked in the concrete world or worse, PETA members, the eye position gives away the disposition of the animal. Forward eyes generally signify the predator (find a mirror) where the prey have eyes positioned on the sides to increase their field of vision. It may be pointing towards a companion, but it definitely knows where we were. Note, I was also pleased to get some glint in those big black eyes.
A close second in the favorites category is the shot below. Once again you get a feel for it’s field of vision yet it was content enough to continue breakfast while we were busy snapping shots. This lack of interest is probably due to being acclimated to the two legged creatures, although the fact that it can out run my ass without breaking a sweat probably gives it more confidence than your average turtle. For the record, they can run at 30mph for 15 miles with a burst of up to 70mph. According to Wikipedia, this makes it the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere.
At first I thought the antler nubs above the eyes in the previous picture indicated it was a young male. Not being an expert when it comes to non-feathered animals I did a little research. Turns out that females actually have horns as well (up to 3″) where males tend to have larger ones (up to 6″ and then another 9″ during summer fall which it sheds in the winter). The other distinguishing feature of males is a small black mane. Based on that I will have to go with this being a male.
Hit the Jump to see the rest of the Pronghorn pictures
Continue reading It’s Not a Bird … Nor a Bear
It is hard to believe that I have completed my fourth year of blogging here at Lifeintrigued. I will admit this has taken a little more effort this year due to the greater emphasis on our photography hobby. I like to post process our photo images so my readers get to view the best images possible – if you make the effort to come here I want to make sure it is worth your time. As a result I can’t just sit down and crank out a post as in the past, there is Lightroom work and the upload process to our Smugmug account to get through first before pulling all the resultant image links into the post editor. Fortunately, I still enjoy the process immensely and being able to give some background on the various photographs gives some insights into our art as well as provides a historical account to review whenever we want – priceless! But this little project is pointless without you who take the time to not only provide an audience for my ramblings but also adding your perspectives and insights through your comments. So a big thanks to all my readers and hopefully you will stick with me through 2012. As is now tradition, I am posting this summary of the year’s output.
Hit the jump to see the 2011 stats!
Continue reading Another Year of Blogging in the Books