Motion Vs iPhone 13

This effect is much easier on a more stupid camera.

With any old DSLR, set it on a 1 second to 30 second exposure, open the shutter, and swing the camara around a bit in front of some bright Christmas lights.

But the iPhone 13 is a very clever beastie, with a built in assumption that anything looking like this is an accident, AND IT’S GOING TO *FIX* IT FOR YOU!

But when I want to get this effect, then I have to trick the iPhone into doing what *I* want, not what some software designer in Palo Alto assumed (incorrectly) that I would want.

It’s a challenge. Practice, practice, practice!

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Filed under Christmas Lights, Photography

Don’t Look Down

At the peak of the roof on the side of the house. Fifteen feet up? Eighteen?

Heavy duty ladder, solid footing, moving carefully and staying close to the ladder, moving the ladder instead of reaching.

If anything starts to go south, try to go west, to the left, where that big, soft (ish) bush is, not onto the A/C unit or that fence or those hard, metal, pokey things are. A good plan, never tested.

Pity it’s been so dry, from up here you can see over all of the neighboring houses and since we’re on top of a hill to begin with, the mountains can be seen clearly. If it were colder and wetter once in a while there would be snow. Not now.

The worst part was having to do it twice – not much holds the big lights on and if anything hangs up and pulls the wrong way… Ziiiiiiiiiiip, down they all come. The second time a few more solid anchors got added. Fool me once, shame on you, and all of that.

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Critter Tracks

While working on the Christmas lights this holiday weekend, it was immediately obvious Friday morning that some critter had been using my car as a perch of some sort. It’s been really, really dry and dusty and there were muddy tracks all over it.

Onto the hood…

…up onto the windshield…

…and then meandering all across the roof.

The critter had obviously just crossed through some mud, probably from the dirt around the roses next to the driveway. Given the tracks I’m guessing it was a raccoon, which are known to be around, although I guess it could also be a cat or an opossum. But my money’s on raccoon. I’ve seen one in the yard that was probably in the 30-40 pound range. I’m not sure what this dude was doing on the car, but no harm, no foul. Maybe he got spooked by the sprinklers turning on and was just trying to find a dry spot.

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Slightly More First Light 2021

As predicted, I feel a lot like I’ve been beaten by folks with baseball bats after spending yesterday schlepping, lifting, carrying, hauling, climbing ladders, balancing precariously on ladders, and generally doing things for one day that use extreme physical exertion and agility and which I haven’t done in a year. (Funny coincidence, that.) Let’s see, I can either get in shape and stay in shape so that next year this isn’t a sudden and painful event or I can just do nothing and then bitch and whine about it next year on the weekend after Thanksgiving…

Oh, who are we kidding. Plan B!!

Today I did get out and get up another six or seven sets of lights.

These along the driveway, threaded among the rose bushes (currently sans roses), are very nice.

Above the garage door the “spider’s nest” of colored lights got hung. It is so tempting to take that big Halloween spider ornament and hang it in the middle of this!

Speaking of critters, remember a couple weeks ago I mentioned seeing a large (18″ to 24″) alligator lizard out on the porch? No pictures, but I did see it again and get a very good look at it yesterday. It’s moved into the garage and was not happy with me sweeping up and cleaning at the end of the day. It scurried out, flipped me off, then scurried off to shelter under the piles of boxes and crap stored in the garage. It’s every bit of eighteen inches long, a lovely critter, and definitely an alligator lizard and not just a bigger fence lizard.

The (photographic) hunt goes on!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Critters, Photography

First Light – 2021

I’m going to be sooooooooo sore tomorrow. A lot of time on ladders today.

So worth it! The Younger Daughter came over and helped a ton, so we got a lot of lights up on the first day of Christmas lights season.

More to come, of course! Never enough until I’m blowing the fuse with any additional lights, and even then I’m looking for another circuit that might have some capacity. But for today, that’s a DAMN FINE start!

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Thanksgiving 2021

The feast. It was wonderful.

Last year we didn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner other than for those in the household. This year there were family over. Smaller than previous years, much smaller than back in the day when the whole clan and spouses and kids and grandkids met up at my parents’ house. But still – little steps to recover from a brush with Armageddon.

I hope your dinner was everything you hoped for and you got to spend time with those you love.

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Moments Of Zen

It was windy. A pretty steady 20+ knots with gusts to 30+. The wind chimes were working overtime.

And dry. The hummingbird feeders were empty and Little Bastard was pissed. Every time I went out into the back yard he was buzzing me, reminding me that the feeders were empty. I finally took them down, cleaned them, and put more nectar in them.

After dark the clouds and fog of the past several evenings were gone (of course!) and our three current planetary visitors were still lined up nicely.

For those of you needing an assist to ID them:

Keep breathing, folks.


Filed under Astronomy, Birds, Critters, Photography, Space, Video, Weather

DART Launch From Vandenberg

It’s launch night out of Vandenberg again, but we had a fair amount of clouds and fog forming to our west. We’re about 130 miles from Vandenberg, and if the weather cooperates, we can see the launches very clearly. Tonight wasn’t going to be that night. But I took the setup on a tripod out to the front yard anyway, just in case.

Good move.

It wasn’t as great as when the weather’s “clear and a million,” but it was more than I expected to see!

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Thirteen Minutes Of Flaming Sunset

From 16:46 to 16:59, we went from an orangish glow with potential to a pink and orange extravaganza to a fade to gray with orange hints.

Not bad for a Monday!

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Filed under Photography, Sunsets

The Proverbial Room Where It Happens – Part Two

A couple years ago we saw “Hamilton” in Los Angeles at the legendary Pantages Theater. Then we had tickets to see it again last year, but there was that whole pandemic, quarantine thing

Now we’re all vaxxed and masked (to their credit, they seem to be very aggressive about enforcing that at the Pantages) and the touring cast is back, so it’s our turn to see it again.

The first time we saw it I knew of the hype and the awards and the hubbub – but I had not yet ever listened to the music or gotten caught up in the mania. I had doubts…

Then I saw it.

Oh!! My!! God!! (As they say.)

Now, having seen the Disney production of the live version a dozen or so times, not to mention having listened to the album AT LEAST 100-200 times (no BS, at least once a week for a couple of years), I’m anxious to see how different the viewing experience is this time.

Damn, forgot tissues! We’ll see how absorbent this sweater is, I guess.


Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles, Music