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Sunday, June 18, 2006

HDR Photography Soon Will be Consumer Ready

Before I have told you about HDR Photography. HDR means High Dynamic Range, and it is a method of combining the information from more that one photograph of the same scene in one photograph.

Soon digital cameras are going to come out with that function built in. Sony Alpha is an example.

I have been piddling in HDR which in reality is in its infancy.

The photo shown is an example, I took from Thunder Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It is now listed in the top 100 of the most competitive pool on Flickr. This is somewhat of an accomplishment since there are over a half million photos uploaded to flicker daily. If you care to see some of my other HDR attempts go here. Some of the photos in this group have also been highly rated.

The Batteau Adventure

For those of you that are interested the Batteau adventure to Richmond. I have a set of pictures taken at Joshua Falls. You can find this set here and I will add more photos to the set later.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Rest in Peace, Nanny

On June 8, 2006 at 4:52 A.M., EST, Frances Brown broke the chains of this life and went to be with her Lord. She lived a long and fruitful life, having lived to be 94 years old. Nanny followed her husband and one of her sons in death. She is survived by a daughter and a son, 9 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Nanny was an example of strength and love. She cared for so many in her life time, not just her own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but the children of others. She had a softness in her heart for children and couldn't bear to see any of them suffering or going without. Nanny also took care of her friends and kept tabs on them through letters, phone calls, visits and she always shared her baking talents with everyone. Nanny was a selfless woman, always thinking of others instead of herself.

Several of Nanny's great-grandchildren were lucky enough to have a close relationship with her. They spent weekends with her and learned by her example to care for and love others. Nanny is the glue that binds this family together and her absence will leave a big hole in the fabric of our lives.

Since I have known my husband, I have spent every Christmas Eve for 16 years at her home and most every Thanksgiving. If you ever left Nanny's house hungry, it was your fault, because even if you just stopped by to say hello, Nanny would have fed you something before you left.

Nanny was like a rock thrown into a pond, the ripples of her kind acts continue to spread across the surface of life. Her greatest gift to us was her love of others and our greatest tribute to her is to follow her example.

We are grieving for our loss today, but I have no doubt that at 4:52 A.M., Nanny was greeted by St. Peter and led to a doozy of a party where all those loved ones who had gone before were waiting for her.

Nanny, your life blessed all you touched. There is no greater epitaph than that. We will miss you.

P.S. My husband shares lessons he learned from this remarkable lady.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Sometimes I read articles and I shake my head and say 'huh?' because I don't quite understand. If I am reading this right the pollutants created by aerosol use blocked the sun's rays and kept our part of the world from feeling the effects of the greenhouse gases (which are warming up the temperatures at the surface).

However, aersol pollutants are short-lived and are only in the atmosphere for a short time. So as we have cleaned up our act, the air has become clearer and now more sun is coming through. So the planet is getting warmer in our neck of the woods and viola! We have more hurricanes!

Last year I saw signs that accused George Bush of being responsible for Hurricane Katrina. Since I am pretty sure George doesn't control the weather, I found this to be a bit ludicrous. Now, however, I may have to change my position. Not that I would lay the blame at the President's feet, but who was it that came up with the idea to ban aersols? Obviously their long term plan was to increase the severity and number of hurricanes! And to make it so warm, that snowfalls decreased! I want their name and number because they have some 'splainin' to do!

Emergency Plans for Pet Rescue

Last year's Hurricane Katrina gave animal welfare groups ammunition to fight for better pet rescue plans during natural disasters. I am all for better preparation in advance of a disaster. Just like people living in hurricane prone areas need to know evacuation routes and have necessary supplies on hand in case it is ever needed, they should have a plan on what to do about their beloved pets. If possible and available, governments should be encouraged to set aside spaces for pets to be cared for, especially for people who are elderly whom cannot take care of their pets in an event of a disaster.

Phew, this is a hard post to write, because as I write it, I am already anticipating animal activists sharpening their claws...

I love our pets. But I don't view them in the same way as I view my children. If a boat were to come by (not going to happen where we are in the mountains, but we are talking if....) and the rescuers said "look...we can take you, we can take your children, but we don't have the facilities for your dogs or cats," then I would provide for them as best as I could and we would leave. Would my daughter and son scream and fight? Absolutely. Would we miss our pets and grieve over them if they died because we couldn't get back to them in time? No doubt. Are they as important as my children or other human beings? Absolutely not (in my humble and honest opinion.)

Let's think about New Orleans. They had tens of thousands of people to evacuate (after the fact) and there were thousands of pets. Let's take the group that was in the Superdome...can you imagine the added chaos if that place had been full of pets? Dogs wanting to chase cats? Dogs and cats wanting to eat on the trash? The added germs brought about by their elimination habits? And where would they have been? Would they have taken up a space for people? And what about more exotic pets (snakes, hamsters, rabbits, birds, goats, miniature pigs)? Where do we draw the line as to which pets are rescued?

If I found out that the rescuers didn't get around to picking up Great Aunt Matilda because Ralph's dogs got her spot on the boat and that by the time the rescuers came back, Great Aunt Matilda had been washed away, then I would be pretty pissed off. And if I found out that rescuers couldn't get Great Aunt Matilda into the boat because she didn't want to leave her pet, I would have to have a stern conversation with her, should I ever see her again.

I definitely want to see action on this issue. I hated seeing the animals left, chained and without food or drinkable water. Animals that drowned and starved and were eaten. Animals that had no clue as how to fend for themselves. And if we can get a situation going where people prepare ahead of time and a plan for animal shelters, then I am all for that. But I also don't think that the tax payers in general should pay for this. I think it should be an insurance type of fee you pay to your government for living in disaster prone areas. You have the right to pay or not pay the fee, but if you don't pay the fee (which would be used to pay for shelters, stockpiled food, etc), then you don't have a 'public' place for your pet to go.

Our heartstrings all get pulled when we see abandoned animals, but when disaster strikes we need to think with more than our emotions. We need to get our plans in place and solidified for taking care of people first. Hurricane Katrina was a huge disaster followed by the horrible flooding when the levies broke. It was the largest disaster on American soil ever! Even bigger in scope than 9/11. There were a lot of mistakes made, there were some good things done. Let's hope that when this sort of thing happens again (and it will) that our response is better and few mistakes are repeated. And let's make sure we keep our priorities straight.

Welcome to Devil Day

For those of you who missed it, today is 06-06-06.

In some flavors of Christianity, the number 666 is considered the mark of the anti-christ. Or you could just call it a devil number. (I'm not getting into the actual meaning of the number, but some also feel that it refers to Herod. Suffice it to say there is not agreement among all christians on this issue.)

Today is also the release date of the new remake of The Omen, a good movie about the anti-christ. The remake is supposed to be good according to Ebert and Roeper, so if you're a film buff like me this might be a good one to see.

I'm not sure what other devil-related activity is occuring today. I think I heard that thousands of evangelicals are praying on this day. I'm not sure what they are praying for -- perhaps for good reviews for The Omen. If so, their prayers are needed! Rotten Tomatoes has it at only 26%.

There has been a lot of end-of-the-world-type news lately. Al Gore says civilization as we know it is threatened, and Al is not one to exaggerate. Not the guy who invented the internet and who's life was the inspiration for "Love Story". There was supposed to be a comet crashing into the ocean just a couple of weeks ago. That was kind of dissapointing when it didn't happen. We were at the beach that week. I remember the scene from "Deep Impact" with all of the water rising up. That would have been neat to see.

Growing up in a fundamentalist christian household, I have been hearing about the end of the world all of my life. Reading back through history, I can see that this is not unusual at all, but it does seem to go through spells. If the world does end, and we have no choice about it, I just hope it is something unusual like Godzilla. Maybe giant intelligent insects. Or a comet crash. Anything but something mundane like the flu.

Did I mention bird flu?

Monday, June 05, 2006

9/11 Project: Volunteers Needed!

This September, it will have been 5 years since life in America was changed forever. Over at Rough Draft, there is a project starting up that is a great way for bloggers to participate in honoring those who left us that morning. Please go check it out and if you feel so inclined, volunteer. It's going to take a lot of us to pull this off.

God bless!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Things Have Been Quiet

Hi all, just wanted to pop in and let you know that as far as I know we are all alive and well. Life has just been very full lately.

Daniel and I went on vacation with the kids to Myrtle Beach the week before Memorial Day. We had an awesome time. And found a place we will return to in the future (Kingston Plantation) and a great seafood restaurant (Crabby Mike's). This was our family Christmas present and we have been looking forward to it for months! And we will remember it for years to come!

I have been busy with life and homeschooling. We are on a year around schedule starting this year, so we are still spending some time every day hitting the books. I am not a summer person in a lot of ways so I prefer to have days off in the spring and fall and sit in the air conditioned house during the hot and humid days! Plus, summer breaks are a throwback to our agricultural roots and I am pretty sure that my 4 tomato plants and 3 pepper plants don't require my kids to be at home working the farm:)

Daniel has been busy working up a business plan to enter in a contest looking for financial backers for batBack. He has worked so hard on this project and it would be great to see him get some recognition for it. If you don't know what batBack is, check out the website!

We had not heard from Bob in a couple of weeks and since he is the Main Guy around here, we were concerned. Finally over the weekend, we caught up with him. He has been ill, but thinks he is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with that. We hope he will be back writing soon.

I hope all of our readers are doing well and that you have some terrific plans for the summer months that include reading a good book, sticking your feet into a cool stream and just slowing down a bit!

Public Toilet Seat Germs

I read about a study this morning that actually echoes results I have heard before...toilet seats get a bad rap! Most germs do not live long outside of the body first of all. Second of all if the toilet seats aren't wet then there won't be much in the way of germs on them. Third of all, the most germs are found on countertops and sink faucets.

So let's see what we can do to help decrease our problems in public toilets.

1. I know there are people who simply do not use public! I am amazed. We live 30-45 minutes from town depending where we are, and then there are the road trips we take. I am not sure how they manage, but kudos to them!

2. I know there are ladies who out of fear of sitting on toilet seats, actually pee standing up over the toilet seat. Now I hate to point fingers, but when I walk into a stall and there is pee on the seat, there is pretty much only one way it could have gotten there! By some standing up lass! If everyone would just sit down, that would take care of the fluid that leaves behind the germs. And come on ladies...isn't sitting down much easier? If you do sit down, many restrooms have the paper seats, that gives you added protection as long as the seat isn't wet. But if the seat is wet, the germs seep through! So let's concentrate on doing what we can to keep the seat dry. And as long as you don't have open cuts on your body parts that sit on the toilet seat, there is no way for the germs to enter your body (unless you are sitting with your private parts on the toilet seat itself and I can't imagine why anyone would to that!

3. Where are most of those germs? Why in the places where we go to wash our hands. So there are ways to get around that. You can get out your paper towel, turn on the faucet, not touch the counter, wash your hands, dry your hands on the paper towel, then use that paper towel to turn off the water. And hope that the handle to the door is clear of germs (but then you have to ignore the fact that most people turn off the faucet with their hands or that a good 25 percent or more don't wash their hands. And then there is the fact that a lot of bathrooms don't provide paper towels anymore (which is a good thing as it saves trees and mess in the restroom). But instead they have the heat dryer that in some cases is strong enough to cause ripples in the skin as it dries your hands.

If you are lucky and go to a more 'modern' public restroom, they are putting in sensor water faucets...when your hands are near the water comes on and sensor dryers or paper towels. These are very handy! You don't have to touch anything and there is less waste because the water and dryer are only running when your hands are in front of them. However, these modern and probably initially more expensive restroom fixtures, are not as likely to be what to do?

4. A solution. Get Purell. Purell is an alcohol based solution that kills 99.99% of the germs. Carry the bottle in your purse. Use the restroom (remember sitting down spreads less germs if everyone is a sweetie and doesn't pee on the seatie!). Then leave the restroom. Once outside the door and away from the germy surfaces of sinks and door handles, slap on some Purell. You have saved water, saved trees, saved electricity and saved yourself from germ contact! What could be better????

I know this solution requires some money out of your pocket. But who do you think is paying for the fancy bathroom fixtures, the wasted water, the wasted paper towels? So let's start a movement, friends! It all begins with one...