Category Archives: Photography

Night Sky From The New Back Yard

In the front yard I get to see cool sunsets, but there’s a big street light out there interfering with the view once it gets dark. (Gotta figure a way to turn that off when I need to…) But taking the trash out tonight I note that once you get close enough to the house to be in the shadow of that big street light, there’s a little patch of relatively dark sky there. At least, dark by “in the middle of one of the top 20 metropolises on the planet” standards.

Even with just my cellphone, Jupiter’s nice and bright and of course any camera will pick out that nice first quarter moon on the right. In between, even Spica can be seen.

Just wait until I find and have a minute to start playing with the better equipment!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space


Seen soaring above our house a couple days ago. Obviously a raptor or hawk of some sort, but doesn’t appear to be a red-tailed hawk. We get a ton of red-tails riding the thermals on the edge of the San Fernando Valley (i.e., the “hills” in “West Hills”) and they’re pretty distinctive. This guy had a different cry, different body shape, and a much different tail shape.

Poking around on the web I think it might be a Cooper’s hawk, but someone with more experience and knowledge than I will have to confirm that.

I did see that he ended up landing up near the top of one of the tall trees just down the hill from us, so with luck I’ll get more chances to see him, perhaps even getting some better pictures for ID later on.


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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Flying, Photography

Crescent Moon & Venus – June 15th

There’s a nice view to the west from the new house. Tonight we had again had a lovely, 2-day old crescent moon to float along in it.

A couple of palm trees off in the neighbors’ yards to provide a bit of foreground for perspective, but not enough to block much of the sky.

Shortly after sunset it’s still bright enough so that a fast exposure can be used and there isn’t much blurring, even with a hand-held picture.

I’m going to like this front yard in the evening.

As it got a touch darker, Venus popped into view.

The pair were lovely together, as always.

Still hand-held (I think I know where the tripod is, but it would be non-trivial to go get it right now as I unpack) but steady enough to show craters along the terminator.

I caught one of the jets coming into LAX on this one. (Middle left.) Often as they’re leaving LAX on a route up the coast or to Asia they come right over our head, but those coming back the other way swing out over Ventura County, hang a left a Malibu, turn base over Dodger Stadium, and turn final over Huntington Park. Which puts them into this view.

Looking forward to the days when I can sit for an hour and watch something like this all the way to the horizon without my brain bugging me with, “You really should be…” Yes, I know. Unpacking. Catching up on my Wing duties and reports. Catching up on my personal accounting. Cleaning up the garage. Loading up the van with stuff to go to storage.

When did sitting on your ass and breathing for an hour get a bad reputation?


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

No Context For You – June 13th

I got nothing. Four of them, pretty much identical.

Except the three of them say “Rimrock” as the location and one says “Happy Jack.”

The cell phone is possessed, I tell you!

(But to be honest, possession’s gotten a bad rap ever since Linda Blair’s projectile pea soup thing. If I could just get the possessed cell phone to give me winning Lotto numbers the day BEFORE they win, I would be more than happy to accept it as a valued member of the household. And probably put it into law school, since possession is 9/10ths of the law…)

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Filed under Photography, Travel

New House

It has been mentioned by friends in distant places that while MUCH has been written in the past few months about the efforts to actually move, I haven’t show much, if anything, of the new house itself. I can solve that.

I can’t wait to get the telescopes back out of storage – instead of having that honkin’ big hill to our west, we’re pretty much on top of that honkin’ big hill to our west.

So far we’re really loving it here.

There are still boxes stacked everywhere as I unpack (and the paper’s still down to protect the hardwood floors as I move heavy stuff around) but the kitchen’s starting to get into shape.

Out in back there’s a wonderful yard (with lizards) and a view off the back of the hill down toward the east. I put the chairs out there near the edge – it’s a fantastic place to sit and watch the world get dark and the lights turn on in the evening.

There are trees that partially block the view – but they’re also filled with squirrels and hawks and crows and hummingbirds and sparrows and god knows what else, so I’m more than happy to let them share the view.

From the chairs, looking back across the yard at the house – it’s light and airy with skylights and lots of big windows. I think we’re going to really like it here.

Especially after we get unpacked and settled!


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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

East To West

The weekend with the in-laws done, it’s back home for me.

As much as I might love watching thunderstorms, I was just as happy to detour around this one, even though we were already late.

This time I was connecting through Charlotte – it looks lovely in the ten minutes I was hustling through from Concourse E to Concourse B in a last minute run to catch my connecting flight. (I made it.)

Over North Carolina and Georgia there was more convective activity, big thunderheads building up.

All the way through Tennessee, looking south into Alabama and Mississippi, more of the same. Lovely – but dangerous, so there was some bobbing and weaving to get around it all.

We crossed the Mississippi this time at Memphis.

Oklahoma gets flat – this is Norman. I hear they play some football here.

Texas gets flat – and BORING.

New Mexico, with Albuquerque just underneath us, the Rio Grande valley is hard to miss.

Finally we cross the Colorado, here over the Colorado River between Parker Dam (the bottleneck at the top) and Lake Havasu City (beneath and behind us). California, here we are!

Tomorrow, it’s back to work. And unpacking. And catching up on my CAF duties at the hangar. And all of those other adulting things.

Adulting sucks. But it does allow one to take transcontinental plane flights and see all of the neat stuff out the windows!


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Filed under Photography, Travel

Driving Lady Lilli

It’s always nice to see family – it’s especially nice when said family has a gorgeous old Model A that they let me drive!

(Photo by Melanie Kordis)

My dad had a 1929 Model A – this is (I think) a 1931 Deluxe Model A. The long-suffering-sister-in-law was kind enough to let me take it out for a while with her and she didn’t have a nervous breakdown or raise her voice or nothing!

(Photo by Melanie Kordis)

She did at one point very calmly and politely point out that we were passing the local courthouse and that coincidentally this is where the local speed limit was 25 mph and she had managed to not yet ever get a speeding ticket there despite the fact that it was heavily enforced… It seemed an odd point at first, but then again, I’ve often been accused of being a slow learner. (I slowed down, we did not get a ticket.)

Driving the Model A requires a delicate touch, even for those who are used to driving a stick shift. After doing my best to take 20,000 miles off the life of the transmission, I was catching on much better at the end. It was fun!

Thanks, Melanie!!

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Filed under Family, Paul, Photography, Travel