Friday, January 29, 2016

Flashback Friday

It is mid winter up North as I write this.  15th of January is the halfway point almost everywhere.  This is the week, historically, that is the coldest for Florida, too.  Overall its been a good one so far, and since I am paying a heating bill up North, it is no longer a giggling, "Ha, ha, your freezing your ass off and I'm down here in warm Florida" thing.  I now have a dog in the hunt.

So, to give us all some hope for an early Spring and a cessation of cold (and heating bills), I present past moments in time when Springtime began.   

Our old fraternity house had flat roof which allowed us to head out after morning classes to soak up some early springtime sun.  

Here I am back in the day standing on the roof, casting my shadow onto the lawn, where I am being saluted by my frat brothers.  Yes, I was loved.  They seem to have a single finger jutting out from their otherwise closed fists which, I presume, means they are saying I am "Number 1!". 

While up there I took a picture of the campus.  The building in the middle is the Student Union building and I would surmise the tent to the right is where that year's graduation ceremony will take place.  

We lost the house after my sophomore year because the school decided to require all Greeks to reside on campus.  The home is  still there, a private residence, and they open the place during Homecoming so those wanting to revel in nostalgia can walk through it.  

And since this was taken, the student union was added onto all along where the big top was erected.  

If the graduation tent was erected then this had to have been around mid-May when these pictures were taken.  The mattresses from our beds were brought up to party/sun/hide.  That fellow is Tom Ross-Barnett, mentioned often here, who was from England, via Liberia and sponsored by the Stanley's from Muscatine for his studies. He presently lives in Colwin Bay, UK and was the recipient of one of the funniest pranks I ever pulled.

So, fellow Northlandia heat-bill-payers and not so cold other places in the world, take heart, it won't be long till we can measure the winter torment in days instead of months.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Northlandia Leftovers - Part 5

Here I offer a glimpse of Holly Days, a pre-Christmas parade and fun shopping in Emerald City.  I had planned to stay in the Cabin in the Woods but the Wombie and Holly (no relation to Holly Days, or maybe there is!)  twisted my arm to join them in a cocktail at Beer Bellies then watch the parade.  And so I did.  

I have to confess a cardinal error in these camera shots above and below.  Confirming my willingness to confess to stupid photographer mistakes, I thus explain why these are not properly focused.  The last shots I had taken were down at the Bay taking barge shots.  I was in Manual mode.  In these pictures I failed to put it on Auto, which I usually do for these types of pictures.  Because of my ignorance, these are blurry.  No excuse.  And yes, I did have a couple beers before I went to the parade.

Outside Emerald City about 10 miles or so near Joy is a large ranch home, pasture and Butler building, everything looks new, that is home to these draft horses.  It is called Willow Creek Belgian Farm.  These guys were pulling wagon loads of parade spectators.  Big old draft horses, burley and gnarly and full of horsepower.  Back in my G-Burg days, little Michael and I went to Farm King one cold winter day and saw a team of Percherons and I thought they were the neatest things.  The Belgian are smaller but still pretty great hulking beasts.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Largo Christmas Lights

Longtime readers might recall a trip to the Largo Botanical Gardens a couple years ago.  They light their place for Christmas that creates an other-worldliness that is irresistible.  We made it again, this year, with my favorite Princess, Norah.  It is tough to get into the whole Christmas thing down here, but this place helps.

I've got a few more pics of our trip and I'll post them soon.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

So that's where it is.


This is my day job till I return to Northlandia.  When I get up there, after this, I'm gonna need some cold beer, good manly conversations, long bike rides and maybe a little monkey butt to feel like a guy again.   


Overheard at Target last weekend: a fellow telling a couple of other people with him that he downloads movies on his phone and then watches movies as he is driving by placing the phone up by the speedometer.  Yikes!


Funny how this last weekend's snowfall was "epic".  Much like last winter's three "epic" blizzards.


Went to the beach last weekend.  It was a raw day, windy and the surf was perky.  You can see the water was frothy as the churned foam was pretty heavy. Still, any time is a good time for a beach walk.


The Martian was fun.  I read the book a couple years ago and enjoyed it but thought the film better.  How often do you hear that? The book was bogged down by the technical jargon Watney explains to us throughout his long solitary existence on Mars.  Sometimes a visual is better than ones imagination.  First rate special effects, plenty of humor, and sympathetic hero in Matt Damon. 


Welcome to Florida, Mr. Stage and so long Mr. Blythe.  


Religion and politics are sure to win you enemies.  So if you are sensitive to the latter stop reading.  Here are my thoughts on a couple things.  Having just had a brush with the medical side of life I can tell you that I am not a fan of the Affordable Care Act.  The out of pocket expenses for my polyp surgery was not the least bit  affordable.  I could have bought a pretty decent used car with what came out of my bank account.  It shouldn't surprise you then that I am intrigued by a single payer system.   Maybe all Americans should be on Medicare from cradle to grave.  The system we have now is more expensive and will drive more people to bankruptcy as time goes on. More out of our paychecks, yes.  But universal care may be the best way to go.  It is not a communist notion, any more than Social Security, income taxes, or Medicare are.  It is a  program, that would save more money administratively, cost less  for us and do more good than anything else being mentioned on the campaign trail this year. Hillary wants more Obamacare, the Republicans don't want anything, and Bernie wants universal healthcare.  I'm still a free agent, unlike Yoenis Cespedis, but on this one issue, I'm feeling the Bern.  Opinion over, we can now move on.


Saw in Target these fashion statements:

Some guy who looked like he'd been in a battle with a bear.  

A woman who liked the double-split back that, I assume, was supposed to be sexy.  Then puts on a bra and, well, I just don't get it. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

What Happens When You Don't Pay Your Water Bill

My ride-alongs with the Wombie over to Seaton on a daily basis to do the readings was fairly benign stuff.  Jot down the numbers, look at the meters, drop some water softener into the vat and generally make sure all was well isn't the kind of stuff  that makes your heart race.  

Along with taking care of the water the AquaMaster must also stop the spigot for those who do not pay their bills.  It is safe to assume that Seaton's water-stoppage policy is far more liberal than, say, Galesburg, who I suspect do not get the time to pay the bills that Seaton allows.  

But on this day, Mark must turn the water off at two homes.  It is also safe to assume that turning water off a family's home has changed from the Rockwellian days of our childhood to shoot first and answer questions after of today's world.  

So it was with more than just a little apprehension that we set out to do exactly that.    

This is the process of ruining a family's day.  Turning off water is a BIG deal wherever you are, but the stuff isn't free and a bill is a bill, after all.  So while Mark found the turnoff, removed the plate and then the special tool which turns a recessed valve bolt, I stood guard.  But today, at this house, nobody was home.  It began to look a lot like the former inhabitants had already left the place and was abandoned.  

At the other house, the old Douglas place, we already knew to be empty.  Someone had said access could be had from the back deck area but it was all locked.  We called the Galesburg realtor who listed the place and they provided the door code for entry.  Inside the old Victorian we saw that a lot of money had been put into it and was pretty darn nice, but a separation/divorce has left the place empty and for sale.  But if you go check it out don't turn on any of the faucets, the Blythe Boys have struck again. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Flashback Friday

The long buildup comes to fruition on Christmas morning.  Those who have theirs on Christmas Eve are either from Lapland or vampires.  Never did get that.  But anyway, the paper has been bagged, the boxes moved to the corners, the batteries inserted and the plugs plugged in.  Now its time to investigate the haul, the boundless booty, as it were.   In short - playtime.

Today we turn our sights back to sometime in the late 70's. or early 80's.  The place, Blythe homestead in Seaton, the time, early evening after Christmas day.  The screwdriver is next to the old Pepsi can having served its purpose.  The ribbons saved for next year.     

Mark on the left and Phil on the right settle into a game of air hockey.   like Phil on the right is doing a little trash talking. Is Phil really trash talking?  Look at that, he is!  I've seen this scene many times - he'd get lippy and end up with a couple feisty twins flailing away.  

Later, I'd give the game a try and, sadly, looks like I have no one to play with except the dog.  I forget which one of us won, but my guess is the dog got excited by other things going on, probably in the kitchen, and left leaving me holding the puck.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

River Shots November 25th

5:13 AM

First shot of the night.  Whoa?  What are those things?  Bugs?   Maybe that's what they mean to "get the bugs out" at the start of a project.  I have no idea what is going on, but this would be the only shot that had these streaks.  

5:39 AM

I overexposed this a bit to bring out some of the night sky.  You can also see the orange light pollution of cities in the lower center and clear over to the right.  

5:45 AM

5:50 AM

5:51 AM

5:54 AM

5:55 AM

5:59 AM

As barges go this was a little one.  Just a four unit jobbie, so this guy must have been moving some empties down river to a nearby port.  Because of his small size he was able to scoot along at a very fast clip.  

You know?  I'm not ready to leave.  So I hop in the warm truck and head to Keithsburg in the hopes of being able to see this guy again and continue my experimentation.  If I could grab another one down there coming from the south that would be a bonus.  Let's go.  As luck would have it, that's exactly what happened.  More river posts coming up.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Northlandia Leftovers - Part 4

I have never yet been able to bypass showing you folks the best pizza in the world.  I finally made it over to Mt. P and jerry's and had my usual, and even ordered one, half-baked, to take home with me. 
I'm gpoing to do my best and find Davis Bros in Peoria this summer so I can compare it with Jerry's again.  

While out with the Wombie on a roadtrip he showed me a small cemetery in the middle of nowhere that he saw while fall farming.  One of the still-legible stones had a death year of 1847 - an old plot around here.  Many of the stones were broken, mostly-buried or hard to read.  Souls, forgotten, for eternity.  I applaud the 
farmers through the generations who could have easily claimed this land for crop production, but chose, instead to allow these people to lie undisturbed.   

I never missed a chance to accompany the Wombie to his job overseeing the water pump station in Seaton.  After a few days he even gave me an assignment to read one of the meters and to give him the reading when asked.  It was voluntary.  Kind of like an intern, or more appropriately, a minion. It still gave me purpose in life, and I am proud of my contribution.

This is the last picture of my trip to Northlandia:  somewhere in the air flying back to Norah and the others.  Too bad there is no way to track where you are when flying. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

First off I need to tell you I did not take this picture.  Secondly, I didn't take any of the pictures in today's Tidbits.  Thirdly, if I did take the above picture I'm sure I would have wet my pants and any other number of human physiological things.  This is one of the reasons I take pictures at night.  To try to find neat stuff like this.  John Ashley took this picture near Columbia Falls, Montana and what this is are light pillars from an aurora near Glacier National Park.  Lordy, ain't that sweet?


These were taken by my favorite Tybee Island resident, Jeff, who while walking with Lily came across this guy washing his Model T.  He was going to trade this beauty the next day for a Corvette.  I don't know the year of the Vette but both offer a kind of Alpha and Omega of automobilia.  If I had this would I trade for a Vette?  I don't know, but looking at the Model T I'd do it with some reservation.  The early cars were basic transportation, slow, hard to drive (no power anything) and like Henry Ford said, "You can get one in any color as long as it is black."  They all looked alike and didn't have what we Boomers knew growing up as individual make personality. The Vettes, as we all know are America's sports car, sleek, exuding sexiness and certainly having that personality.  Would I trade, hmmm.  Tough to say.  Probably not.  By the way, the trade fell through and the owner decided to keep his antique.  


Kenzie and Alfred, aka, Ayla.


I hate having to open 10 of those little ketchup wrappers to dip my fries.


People lying in hammocks at Vinoy Park.  This was taken by the current Mrs. Blythe. as well as the picture of a wild parrot below.  I have explained about these parrots before, but it all started when a shipment of exotic parrots were being delivered and the box opened, releasing them.  Now after several decades we have parrotts flying around - pretty to look at but their screech is not very pretty.


It was like life and death on the Serengeti at the corner of East Bay and Ulmerton Avenue last weekend.  While parked at a red light I witnessed a seagull swoop down to grab some food on the road.  It was clipped by a car and amid the feathers flying the wounded bird sat in the lane facing the oncoming traffic.  To the right was a parking lot for a CVS, and someone ran out to the bird, grabbed him and ran back to their car, which then sped away.  

I'd like to think that they raced to a vet who fixed it up and is now recuperating awaiting a great fly-away ceremony soon.  Of course, this is Florida, where it could have easily ended up in a soup that night.


This picture was taken by some guy in Georgia.  It is the Tybee Island lighthouse.  Yeah, I've been there and been on top of that lighthouse, too.  This is another reason I try to take my camera wherever I go - to get something as nice as that.  


Oh, and one more thing.  I had my iPhone when that bird was hit on the roadway, but it was too difficult to chronicle the struggle - I had my hands over my eyes. 


Why is it we have named every moon of every planet except our own?


Instant karma:  Last week as I was heading to the gate leaving Bedlam, I slowed down for a speed hump.  A crotch rocket zoomed past me in between the two humps, scared the bejesus out of me.  He raced up a little bit to where his apartment was and must have thought the kickstand was down as he got off the bike.  The kickstand was not down (karma) and he dropped it. Instant payback.  I snickered as I drove by.  

(This is where I also insert into the story that I, too, have inadvertently dropped a bike for the same reason, but I try to keep it a secret.) 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Shivering On The Dock Of The Bay

My strange obsession with nighttime river and barge pictures continued unabated on my most recent stay in Northlandia.  The reason for this is, most likely, my inability to get what I am looking for in a picture:  the freezing of a moving object in low light.  Not to get too technical, there is a sweet spot somewhere between ISO, aperture and shutter speed that will allow me to capture a barge at night.  Sounds simple, right? It's not.

Whip up the ISO to allow more light saturation and you end up with a grainy picture. 

Turn down the ISO and aperture in order to make the picture less grainy and you end up with too little light.  

In order to get enough light into the camera to illuminate your surroundings you have to have a timed exposure.  Okay, when you set it for a 1 second exposure, the lights of the barge will move within the frame for once second.  You haven't frozen the barge.  If you make it 1/100 second in order to freeze the barge, then you haven't allowed enough light in.  See?  It is a technical question that even with voracious reading on the net hasn't solved for me. So I continue trying different settings in order to find that perfect conjunction of those three settings.  

This night featured an almost full moon and partly cloudy conditions. 

This was a 2.5 second exposure with an ISO set for 1250.  I was just trying to get the controls somewhere that would capture the night with a reasonable view of the sky and the clouds.  It is not a perfect picture, of course, few are.  When you set up at any location you always take a few to get your settings.  Tonight was chilly so I kept my truck on to warm up and then jump out and take some more.  

In a rare post on Facebook, I slapped this up and received some nice comments.  For those who haven't seen it, this is from the boat ramp in new Boston looking almost due west.  This is where the river curves west and to the right straightens out again toward the south.  I like this picture because it not only has a little splash of red (I like a little red in pictures or paintings), but it also captures a little faint light of a barge about to turn toward me.

I have some more pictures that will be posted soon from this vantage point and others from night shots.  Thanks for clicking on this site again.