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Time-lapse sunset at Lake Chautauqua, though it loses something with the youtube compression. The lake is not slanted — that was user error in setting up on a bit of a hill and not noticing that the camera wasn’t level. 12 second pause between shots, and the twilight is extended because the camera was on autoexposure, so it compensated for low light by taking longer exposures. Also used a polarizing filter to cut some of the glare, since we know that light reflected off of the lake will have a component that is linearly polarized, parallel to the water.

Tom's Back

As promised, Tom’s back. (Wearing a NYC subway tee given to me by my brother)

I won’t get into whether it was a well-deserved vacation — I’m a federal employee and I am entitled to it. And now, of course, I’m exhausted. Vacations are restful in one sense, but tiring in another; add to that the drive back, through Pennsylvania’s road construction “paradise” and entering the Washington traffic at rush “hour” on a Friday, with its stress and fatigue. Add to that the toll that eating vacation cuisine puts on you. I’m glad I have the weekend to recover.

I did all the things I promised I would. The reunion had ~150 attendees, and I got to see all of my aunts and uncles and all but one first cousin on both sides of the family (the outlier being a Florida resident, on my dad’s side, i.e. not drawn in by the reunion of my mom’s side of the family), and loads of more distant relatives. Of course you can’t get that many people together without some melodrama, because not everybody gets along (owing to some slight, real or imagined) but I try to stay away from all that. I plead ignorance and apathy, and not necessarily in that order. It’s just so high school.

Even without the reality non-TV, we had an eventful week. Rain early on, peaking with a storm on Saturday that spawned several tornadoes, with damage being done just a mile or two up the road (including destruction at a condo where we had stayed a few years ago). The weather after Sunday ~noon was fabulous, so the lack of air conditioning wasn’t a problem at all. Got out geocaching Monday – Thursday, with the only issue being that I didn’t have time to download the clues, note the size or read the backstories of the caches, which undoubtedly cost me a find or two; micro-caches in the woods are tough without a clue, with a potential search area of up to a thousand square feet (or even more, on occasion). It also helps to know if you’re looking for a pill bottle vs an ammo container.

I also put my cameras to work, and will be processing the results and posting them soon. I’m way behind on internet reading, but did manage to finish two books I was working on (Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre, which had popped up on my radar recently, and Collapse by Jared Diamond, that I’d been working on for seemingly forever)

The Butler Didn't Do It

Recently a colleague and I were noticing a potentially dangerous sharp edge in the lab, and the phrase “blood on the optics” was uttered. Which would be a really good title for a murder mystery taking place in a physics lab. Perhaps using the detective character I invented for the story line of a “puzzle” geocache: Daft Madly. I love you Madly, though you treat me badly … (His mother’s name is Truly and has remarried, making her Truly Madly-Deeply)

Blood on the Optics
A Daft Madly Novel

Public Service Announcement

Taking Photos In Public Places Is Not A Crime: Analysis

Here’s how bad it has gotten: Not long ago, an Amtrak representative did an interview with local TV station Fox 5 in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station to explain that you don’t need a permit to take pictures there–only to be approached by a security guard who ordered them to stop filming without a permit.

Legally, it’s pretty much always okay to take photos in a public place as long as you’re not physically interfering with traffic or police operations. As Bert Krages, an attorney who specializes in photography-related legal problems and wrote Legal Handbook for Photographers, says, “The general rule is that if something is in a public place, you’re entitled to photograph it.” What’s more, though national-security laws are often invoked when quashing photographers, Krages explains that “the Patriot Act does not restrict photography; neither does the Homeland Security Act.” But this doesn’t stop people from interfering with photographers, even in settings that don’t seem much like national-security zones.

Where's Homer? He Loves These Things!

43 of the World’s Most Stunning Lighthouses

I’ll add one:

This is the lighthouse at Barcelona, NY (on Lake Erie), and was taken by my then-pre-teenage niece in 2006. We were out geocaching and I handed her my compact camera and put her in charge of taking pictures. Good enough camera so that the original is 100 dpi at about 12″ x 18″ or so. I printed it up on poster paper and sent it to her (Remembering to add a copyright notice; I think she got a kick out of seeing that on the poster.) I’m invoking fair use — it’s only fair since she used my camera. And besides, I’m non-profit.

Anyway, I’m headed back to that general area for the 95th Jones family reunion, and I may not have internet access while I’m there. If that’s the case, you’ll have to make do with the couple of posts I have in the queue, and I’ll have to make do with visiting with relatives, photography, geocaching, reading and card games.