2013 Is In The Books

The end of 2013 is now upon us bringing with it the chance to reflect on this year of blogging.  LifeIntrigued will turn 7 at the beginning of the year – truly hard for me to believe this has been a 6 year effort so far.  It is interesting to see how this blog has transitioned over the years.  In the beginning it was really a vehicle for my ramblings and musings on the many encounters and observations that result in everyday interactions in a society.  There are still posts scattered on this topic throughout the year, but over the last few years I have been leveraging the blog more and more as a mechanism to promote my photography interests.  Not only does it allow me look back and see how my own abilities are maturing in this field, but I enjoy putting my products out there for my viewers to enjoy and critique.  There is no better way to improve than having a third party weigh in on your efforts.. and trying to win over all of Linda’s fans out there.    This is the third year in a row I have met my goal of at least 6 posts per month.  Trust me, this isn’t getting any easier as the years go by and in truth, this year seemed like a little bit more work than the last two – considering all the near misses I had and a number of last minute posts that had to be made while out on the road. I blame project Aaaauuunooold for a lot of that and running took an extra toll on my free time thanks to the decision to fix a number of problems with the mechanics.  Some of the extra work was self imposed trying to up the overall quality of the images used throughout the year, especially the ones related to photography.  It probably doesn’t show in the optimized images used in the posts, but I spent a LOT of time in the digital darkroom this year trying to find the best shots I could and working  those to their maximum potential.  This can take days to get through which is the common cause for the tight deadlines at the end of the month – it’s a special moment when I can hit that publish button and reveal to all my viewers what I’ve been spending my time on.  The good news is the “at least one image per post” goal received another check mark this year! (admittedly the custom artwork has taken a back seat to the camera this year and likely going forward).

On the project front I took on some pretty big ones this year and yes, one is going to be moving into its third year come January.  My promise to you is Project Auuuunnooold will be closed out this year even if it kills me to do it (translated.. if it doesn’t get done this year Linda is GOING TO KILL ME).  Book recollections was an underperformer this season but some of that can be attributed to alternative sources of material that I figured would not be interesting to you.  There is a lot of reading that goes on during the course of a year, but a lot of that is technical manuals or skill augmenting for work – next year looks to be one for the latter due to new work responsibilities which will have my nose buried in a complex third party system.  I have a number of books queued up for this year to give some balance to those technical books, but time will tell how that goes.  Birding is still a huge attraction for me and a hobby that gives me plenty of challenges and equal amount of happiness.  Those around me know I like a challenge and birding gives me all I can handle – traveling to different regions of the U.S., searching for new birds for my list in all kinds of terrain, doing my best to get a decent picture of them (many times in harsh conditions) and working them in the digital darkroom to a point they are worthy for your viewing.  You will continue to see a large amount of bird posts which should make any fellow birders happy – I’ll try my best to mix in other topics so as not to boar those that lack a similar affinity to the feathered ones.

In closing I would just like to once again extend my heartfelt appreciation for everyone that takes the time to read my little blog and every time I see someone taking the extra time to write a comment I smile a little bigger.  Thanks everyone for putting up with my meanderings and <cough> political opinions </cough>.  I think there’s at least another year left in me (granted with a few more tweaks coming your way), so here’s to next year!

And now, the completion of the final blog goal for the year – the year end summary.

Hit the jump to see the 2013 stats!

Continue reading 2013 Is In The Books

Phoadtography: Where Has the Year Gone Part Deux

And were back with the second (for those that are not versed in French) and final part of the Phoadtography series from our Wisconsin/Michigan trip back in July of 2012.  We’ll likely close out the month with the Year End Summary post  since I’m trying to pull together a larger than normal effort for next month’s blogging entries although it might make it to February if some loose ends fail to come together in the next couple of days.  Meanwhile let’s stay on topic and get right to the latest set of shots of things that caught my attention while Linda was flying down the road.

The first shot is really more of nostalgia for me.  My brother Ron invited me along to one of his ski trips while I was in college – sometime between ’85-’89 with big bet on the late ’88 time frame.  That date solely based on an odd memory – on that trip I rode up with some of Ron’s friends from college who were still in grad school at the time.  I met them for the first time on that trip and then realized one of them was in my LISP programming class.  That realization came after noting one of the students was in a full suit – not uncommon for the higher level classes since a lot of the days were spent interviewing with companies that come onsite to recruit.  This was not what caught my attention – he still had all the tags on the sleeves and the temporary stitch that holds the coat tails together was still intact.  I was chuckling to myself when I realized I knew that guy – never got a chance to warn him after class so sure hope they overlooked that at during the overview.   But I digress (a lot).   We actually went skiing at Big Powderhorn where this shot was taken.

Three things I remember from that trip.  The cops pulled over the car I was traveling in and let the driver off because he found out he was an Illinois grad and that was where the cop took his training – Go Illini.  Secondly, they rented a condo at the top of the mountain – the ski lifts/tickets were at the bottom and the ONLY path down was to go down blacks – that was rough going seeing as how I was not at that level at the time.  And third Ron and I spent most of our time enjoying a run called Smoke which was a pretty challenging run down  through the lift poles – on reflection, the things I tend to remember are rather strange.  Anyway, we ended up driving past the entrance and figured I’d capture the moment – think that dude would look more cool with a Stormy Kromer?

Thought this was a pretty interesting coal/ore train model, complete with a clever set of rails which brought the cars out of the grass.  Nicely done although for the record, the caboose seems disproportionate to the rest of the train cars.

Okay, here’s a test – which one of the following is the best investment, the most capable and versatile machine for all your construction/digging needs…

Hit the jump to see the answer and see the rest of the images in this Phoadtography set

Continue reading Phoadtography: Where Has the Year Gone Part Deux

Phoadtography: Where Has the Year Gone Pt 1

All you stats aficionados out there are probably salivating at the moment thinking the time has come when Mr. Blogger is going to blow it.  Something like 4 days left in the year and looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 posts still to go.  Of course this isn’t just to close out the month, this is to close out the whole year of blogging… to come so close to putting a check mark on the 6th year and let it slip through your grasp.  Normally I would be worried, but this holiday vacation has found me in the digital darkroom just about every day trying to close out a big chunk of 2012… and maybe a little of 2011 (shame shame) – The bad news is the processing chemicals are getting to me and my memory is taking a fish slap across the face.  The results of this effort are about 650 pictures ready to make their way on to this site in the upcoming year.  I was falling too far behind and I really want to get to our more recent photo shoots because I think you’ll like how those came out – I also know our friends in Billings are patiently waiting for our Yellowstone shots taken when we were out there recently.

While going back through the images I stumbled on a set of Phoadtography shots that dropped off my queue somehow.  I need to do some verifying, but pretty sure there wasn’t a single Phoadtography post this year which is shocking based on all the trip opportunities we have had over the course of 2012-2013.  This means I have the perfect close to the month since:

a) The pictures are all processed

b)  The Phoadtography sets tend to span more than one post

c) and .. most important of all .. they don’t really require a lot of mental work to get cranked out – just look at a shot, make some snarky response about it and move on to the next.

Linda says snarky comes easy to me so this quota thingy should be doable.  With no more delay, I bring you the Phoadtography shots from our trip through Wisconsin and Michigan back in July 2012.  For the record, I’m pretty good with details up to about a year – now 1.5 years and beyond things start to get a little fuzzy on the specifics so exact locations of where these were taken on the trips is somewhere in the fog.

Honey, Enterprise Rental called, they said you can have a midsize available or if interested their new line of Quackmobiles.  If you go with the latter you’ll be able to make better time crossing all the rivers .. not to mention the awesome gas mileage – one loaf of bread  should be all that is needed to get us where we are going.

I have no idea what is up with this next statue.  As far as I can tell, they have a weird breed of eagle up there that has massively fat legs and matching claws.  They also possess some strange craving for ummm.. let’s go with an apple only because it is red and there appears t0 be worm coming out of the side of it.  Oh, did I mention that these particular apples tend to be carried around by bears.  Feel free to weigh in on this, I’m at a loss.

Then there’s this dead American Indian we spotted off the road – guessing this was at a roadside stop based solely on the little bit of sign on the right side.  Actually a pretty good sculpture, but just seems a bit strange to have a severed head sitting at a rest stop – not to mention void of all blood.

Hit the jump to see more shots from the road

Continue reading Phoadtography: Where Has the Year Gone Pt 1

Tawt I Taw A Putty Cat

Thought I would keep with the theme from last post and bring you another set of shots taken at Wildlife Prairie Park.  As with the last post, these were also taken in April 2011.  You might be glad to know that I am only one trip away from closing out all the shoots through 2012.  With the time off over the holidays I’ve been spending extra time in the digital darkroom previewing, selecting, post processing and preparing them for upload to our gallery.  This means PLENTY of fodder for the blog well into next year.  Also gives me the chance to think about a blog project for January I’ve been chewing on for awhile now – stay tuned on that.  Until then, let’s talk about a cute little kitty.

Okay, maybe not so little and for most more on the threatening side than cute, but still a member of the cat family.  As with all cats apparently, a purebred killer – all that really differs between them is the size of their prey.  These particular cats enjoy the tasty flesh of  deer, elk, moose, sheep and can probably include cattle in that category.  As opposed to those domestic cats (which these bigger cats are genetically closer to than lions according to our friends over at Wikipedia) which tend to reign terror over the local birds and mice.

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of this killing machine

Continue reading Tawt I Taw A Putty Cat

Badger Them with Badgers

Wanna see pictures of badgers?  Do you wanna see pictures of badgers.. really .. wanna see my pictures of a badgers… hehehehe – thought I would have some fun and “badger” you a bit – to keep with the theme in all.  In truth, it is December which is my designated time to go back and try to get caught up on all the stragglers  that I didn’t get to over the course of the year.  Sad to say, that time machine now takes us back to April 2011 at a Wildlife Prairie Park shoot.  If you recall, Badgers made their debut last April (2013) (link here).  Admittedly, not my best work at time due to some harsh lighting and eek missed focus points.  The RAWs from this shoot were at first glance not that stellar either, but it was worth a try in the digital darkroom.

If you saw the originals you would understand how much work it took to get to this point.  After a direct comparison, I much prefer this set to the previous.  On retrospect, could have gone a little bit more darker, but not sure if there was any more left in the RAW format.  Those claws still make me shudder every time I see them.  Haven’t seen rippers like that since battling the Snapper (link here). The reference sites declare their predators to be coyotes and eagles – seriously?  what dumbass coyote (obviously not a fan) would have the nerve to take on one of these beasts?  Oh, forgot, those wusses only take on the enemy when they have the numbers – sneaky bastards.  An eagle might be able to grab a cub but there is no way they could lift off with this specimen in their talons.

This evidence does cry foul on the previous post statement that we had never seen the Badgers out before – there was apparently one other time they were out.  My humble apologies for leading you astray – I’d say Mr. photoblogger needs to stay on top of his shoots in the future.  Of the three shots I worked up, the following is my favorite for one simple aspect – the tooth.  Just seems to add that extra element that draws your attention away from the claws.  Surprised it wasn’t more of a sharper fang.

A quick check of Google Images did produce this picture (link here) which does show it carries some nasty looking teeth.  There were no other  shots in the my set that showed any more of the teeth.  Next visit we’ll see if we can zoom in on those.  For now, all you get is a little tease.

Lastly we have the Badger dude working on that upper body strength.  Lift that branch.. feeeeel the burrrrrrn.

You can see a little of that harsh light coming in on the bottom edge.  The tree provided enough cover to cut most of that out but for some reason I ended up over-exposing during the shoot.  The darkroom took most of that out for the save, but I have to force myself to check the histogram in the future.  More diligence in the field will make for far less time in the darkroom (and maybe .. just maybe I’ll be able to post shots sooner than 21 months after the shoot!)

Oh well, photography is a journey and I can still see the starting gates.  Time to go watch the Voice finals ooops.. I mean read some Nikon manuals.

A Whole Lotta Wrong

Since this is the season of giving gifts, I figured it was an appropriate time to FINALLY pull out the long planned post on a item my brother Ron found at a local bookstore. Upon spotting it in the store’s designated bargain area, he immediately called me knowing it would add a bit of humor to the day.  In truth it both gave me a chuckle and at the same time frightened the hell out of me – so much I asked him to pick it up for me so I could use it here.  Thankfully it had already been marked down, but let’s give Ron some credit for removing at least one opportunity for someone to do something REALLY REALLY stupid.  What is this evil I talk about, that is so heinous (.. and yes a big dose of hilarity) that warranted being added to my “Worst thing Ever” list?  I shall delay no more..

I’m guessing there were two reactions to that image.  Either you are in the Information Technology field and just crapped your pants our you are prone to identity theft and thought “Hey, that would be handy!”  I decided that the Internet is so ubiquitous these days that the “What’s the Internet” response has long since sailed.  So, someone at Piccadilly publications decided that the Internet was so ripe for money making opportunities that it was worth bringing a product out in this space.  Let’s see, a book on how to use it has already been taken by the Dummy and Idiot series, a collection of cool website has pretty much been replaced by that Googelly company.  Just then some smart-ass IT guy walks by and says .. “How about a book of post-its that you can write your passwords on and stick to your computer – that way you can STOP calling our help line every month asking for a reset” .  Light bulbs go off, fireworks light up the skies and next thing you know their designers are busy planning out a cool, sexy layout to unleash on the hordes of customers just waiting for a way to keep all their passwords handy.   All you security people just relax a little.  Piccadilly didn’t make it in the publishing world by being stupid.  They made sure to leave off any markings on the cover – you don’t want any misguided soul eying your password book and getting any ideas.

Nothing to see here, just your standard run of the mill black book for sketching.. yeah, that’s it, sketching.  Now just in case you forget what it’s for, they did put a title on the first page – INTERNET PASSWORD LOGBOOK.  I like how they were considerate enough to shout it seeing as how their target audience are likely all gray haired and deaf.   But wait, isn’t this data you might want to keep protected in some manner..

No worries, they put a lock on it!  Those Piccadilly people are geniuses.  Now if I happen to leave it in the airport I can sleep assured that all my important passwords are sufficiently protected from prying eyes.  Guessing this one was simply missing the key which is why it was stuck in the Bargain Bin – otherwise the full price of $12.99 would be a steal.  Hmmm .. but what if someone is able to make a key, would there be a way to indicate who it belongs to?  The world is so trusting these days, I’m sure anyone who found it would surely return it.  At least that is what the publisher thought seeing as how they provided a convenient place to put your name, address, phone numbers and even your email – and just in case you had a heart attack when you found out every account you own has just been compromised, they included an emergency contact area.

Hit the jump to read more about this product

Continue reading A Whole Lotta Wrong