Boy, that was some break!

I’m back!

At the end of last year I said I’d be back in January. Well, here it is, the end of April, and I’m finally posting again.

I won’t bore you by going into why I haven’t posted, but I’ll be posting again on a regular basis. See you soon!


Who knew WordPress provided an end-of-year report?

I said I wouldn’t post anything until January, but I wasn’t expecting WP to write a post for me!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fall Leaves – Peaking Soon

I’m trying to merge my schedule, peak fall color, and the weather report to find the best day to head up to Williamsburg and the Colonial Parkway to shoot some fall color. Tomorrow’s out, as I have two meetings and there’s a 90% chance of rain. Friday through Monday, however, with forecasted temps in the low 60’s and partly cloudy-to-sunny skies, looks promising.

The rocket blew up …

No rocket photos, but at least I got some nice sunsets I’ll post tomorrow.

Hard Drive Reliability Study

I use the Backblaze online storage service, which I find inexpensive, easy to use, and reliable. They just released an updated report on the longevity of the traditional, spinning hard drives they use in their storage pods; these results do not apply to solid state drives.

Please keep in mind that these are the drives Backblaze uses most often. If they don’t address your favorite brand, they just don’t use enough of them to have reliable data.

Considering the results of the original and updated studies are the same, I think there are some obvious conclusions:

(1) Hitachi’s are a safe bet, which is probably why there’s one in my iMac.

(2) A Seagate or Western Digital that is not 3TB is probably okay. I can vouch for that. My 1TB and 2TB Seagate drives are fine.

(3) If it’s either a 3TB Seagate or a 3TB WD, run in the other direction! (No experience with these, and I’m keeping it that way.)

To other drive makers, I’m just passing along Backblaze’s data. If you want to sue someone, sue them.

First Day of Fall!


Autumn In The ParkHappy Dance! Happy Dance!

• Finally, it will be cool enough to hit the streets with my camera — without fear of melting in to the pavement.

• Finally, the leaves will start to turn, providing a welcome burst of color to the landscape, all ready to turn into art.

• Finally, I can break out my sweaters again! (I love my sweaters.)

And if I’m really lucky, Garden Ridge (or whatever they call themselves these days) will have their garish, neon Christmas trees all lined up, just waiting for me to have a little iPhoneography fun! Do yourself a favor and go, especially if you need a laugh. They are so bad, they’re good!

I love the fall.

Rain, Rain, Stay Away!

It’s been raining all day long. Hard. Enough to cause some serious flooding all over southeastern Virginia. I’m very happy that I didn’t have to go on a shoot today.

It stopped a few hours ago, and you’d think it was over, but no. There’s a lot more of the stuff still heading for us.

It’s not all bad; it’s been awhile since it rained and we needed it.

Just not a year’s worth in one go…

Cooper Vineyards!

photo, three yellow minis

Three Not-So-Mellow-Yellow MINIs

Tomorrow is the annual Cooper Vineyards MINI Rally. (Seriously, where else would we go?)

It’s a big MINI event, if you’ll pardon the pun. Four clubs participate: Hampton Roads (mine), the two in Richmond, and one from DC. The drive is what we call “spirited” — all hills and twistees. It’s a little hard on my left leg because I drive a stick, but it’s a blast!

The rally is always fun. Good food and entertainment, and a great place to connect with friends I haven’t seen in a while. And there’s a bonus, at least for me: it’s about half way to IKEA!

All in all, a great MINI day. I wouldn’t miss it for anything!

Except I may not be able to go. If I have trouble sleeping or wake up with a migraine… no twistees for me. It’s also going to be in the 90’s, and I doubt they’ll reschedule for the heat. If I go, I’ll post photos.

Comments are below; please use them. I’d like to think that someone is reading this.

BTW, that’s my BumbleBee in the middle. They no longer let me back into spaces.

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

In case you were wondering why I haven’t been posting lately, you can blame my cat, Squeeks.

He’s 18 years old and has been on a special diet for kidney failure a few years now. I recently had to start giving him fluids a couple of times a week. Between that and all the other stuff in my life, I just haven’t had much time to post. I’m still working out the best way to get him to take his meds.

You’ve probably heard of cats who will happily eat their meds like they’re a treat. Squeeks isn’t one of them…

Photography and Iced Tea. What’s the Connection?

Color macro iPhoto of iced tea

Iced Tea

It’s that time of year – the time I start mainlining iced tea. I’m not referring to that stuff you buy in a bottle or can, complete with the exact amount of sugar and lemon some corporation decided you like. I’m also not talking about a powder or liquid concentrate you add to water. No, I’m talking about honest-to-goodness, real iced tea, made with actual tea bags.

Why make your own iced tea when you can buy it? Three reasons: you get to decide how sweet you want it or if you want lemon; it’s easy; and it’s dirt cheap. You can also get consistent results once you know how.

Before I get started, a couple of notes. First, any tea will do; I use Lipton decaf in the regular sized bags. Second, plan ahead. Make sure your pitcher can handle boiling water. Have a pot holder nearby, and if you have a laminate countertop like I do, use a trivet. Finally, know how you’re going to pull the tea bags out of the pitcher if they fall in. Think about everything that could go wrong and figure out how to handle it before you start. You don’t want to get burned, have your pitcher crack, or let the heat ruin your countertop.

What you need:

  • 1- or 1-1/2 quart/liter tea kettle
  • Boiling water
  • Timer, kitchen or cell phone 
  • 4 normal-sized tea bags
  • 2-quart/liter heat-proof glass pitcher with handle
  • Binder clip


  • Trivet
  • Small bowl
  • Lid for the pitcher
  • Ice bin from your freezer, or cold water

Okay, here we go!

  1. Rinse and fill you kettle, and set on the stove to boil.
  2. Put the trivet on the counter next to the stove with the heat-proof pitcher on it. Have the small bowl nearby.
  3. Take four regular-sized tea bags out of their paper pouches and clip them together. Hang the bags inside the pitcher, leaving the clip outside.
  4. Once the water boils, turn off the stove, hold onto the binder clip, and pour the water into the pitcher over the tea bags.
  5. Set the timer for four minutes. When the timer goes off, pull the bags. Hold them over the bowl and release the clip.
  6. Grab your ice bin and fill the pitcher to the top with ice, or top it off with cold water.

That’s it, folks. Real iced tea, made with actual tea bags. It will taste the same way every time, as long as you make it the same way every time.

  • These instructions are for two quarts/liters, or a half-gallon, of tea. If you use a smaller or larger pitcher, adjust the number of bags accordingly.
  • If the tea is too strong or too weak for your taste, adjust the amount of time you let it brew. Try either a minute up or down.
  • If you use those big iced tea bags or loose tea, use the amount of tea on the box.
  • Let the tea cool before putting it into the fridge. To enjoy immediately, pour over ice.

Now, if I haven’t bored you to death, you’re probably wondering about the connection between photography and iced tea. There is one, you know. 

How do you think I nailed down exactly how long I needed to develop film to get it to turn out the same way every time?

Timing, as they say, is everything.