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Adventure in Florals

Posted on June 9th, 2018

Dave!The lady who owned my home before me loved flowers. She had them planted everywhere. Particularly impressive is the flower bed in the back yard, which is filled with roses and other beautiful stuff. She also had a bunch of flower pots in the front yard, but I removed them one-by-one as they died off because I'm not home to water them when I have to travel.

The flowers in the back yard continue to flourish because there's a water line that's connected to the sprinkler system. My front yard flower bed is just a bunch of river rock. I've always felt bad about this, because everybody else in the neighborhood has flowers out.

Last Fall as I was cleaning up leaves, I noticed that there was a water line poking up from under the river rocks. Turns out that there was automated watering there all along but it wasn't used for some reason. So I decided that this year I would plant some stuff so my home fits in with everybody else.

And yesterday was the day...

Flower Bed Construction

I didn't want to completely fill the front flower bed because that would cost a fortune... and I really didn't want stuff growing up next to the house where bugs could breed, so I decided to clear out a space in the river rock for my new flower bed. I found some nice grey brick to keep the rock from intruding. I finished building just as the sun was setting and it started raining...

Flower Bed Construction

This morning I woke up early to start planting stuff. After setting things up I realized that I didn't have the parts I needed to tap off of the water line, so I had to run to the hardware store... where I picked up another couple plants. I didn't notice that one of the of the purple things I bought was badly damaged, but decided to plant it anyway...

Flower Bed Construction

Everything turned out quite nice. I threw away the tags with the names of all the plants, but here is what I got...

Flower Bed Construction

Because I'm old, all that crawling around in the dirt left me pretty sore and I decided to call it a day and watch television.

So there I was... lounging around watching Ask This Old House when it occurs to me THAT I DIDN'T TEST MY NEW SPRINKLERS BEFORE I BURIED THEM! It would be just my luck that I screwed up the install and kinked a line or something, so I managed to get up off the couch (I am SO old), tell Alexa to turn on the water, then waddle out to see if they work. I am soooooo lucky...

Flower Bed Construction

And that's that. Now my house will be pretty just like everybody else's. And since all the flowers I bought are perennials, they'll be back year after year.

Assuming I don't end up killing them.

   

Bullet Sunday 464

Posted on June 3rd, 2018

Dave!Welp, my air conditioner has finally kicked in, so I guess that means summer is here... so I'm keeping it cool because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Villains! It's no secret that I love the entire catalog of LEGO video games. They're not particularly challenging, but that's the appeal for me. I can shut my brain off and just enjoy things without stressing over it all. And now? DC Super-Villains...

So great. What's not so great? I don't have a system to play it on. Looks like a Nintendo Switch might be in my future. Once they drop to a price I can afford, that is.

   
• Goodbye to Film! Nikon stopped making film cameras back in 2006. Now Canon is Officially Done Selling Film Cameras After 80 Years. I honestly don't know how to feel about the death of film. My first "serious" camera was a Canon film camera that my parents gave me as a graduation present. I loved the thing, and was still shooting with it as early as five years ago. What I love about film is the mystery of it all. You don't know what you're going to get. Even if you THINK you know what you're going to get, there's a chemical reaction taking place that can make surprising things happen. Not that I am sad that the world went digital. On the contrary, it has made photography so much more enjoyable for me specifically because the mystery is gone. I know whether or not I got the shot immediately after taking it. And I don't have the expense of film and developing it keeping me from experimenting with new things. I can shoot hundreds of photos, delete all but the ones I want, then shoot hundreds more at no additional expense. And yet... the end of film is an end to an era which was some of the best entertainment I had for nearly two decades of my life.

   
• Flop! My television is on HGTV (Home and Garden Television) 90% of the time, and I watch all the home renovation shows. One of those that became almost too annoying for its own good was Flip or Flop. A show which imploded when its stars had an epic tabloid-worthy breakup that resulted in divorce. Now, a year later, they're back...

Flip Or Flop

This past week the first new episode since their split finally aired. It was cringe-inducing awkward... but more entertaining than the show has been in years. And so... I guess I'm going to keep watching. But I fully plan on hating myself while doing so.

   
• Older! As I tear apart my garage to make room for my wood shop, I'm running across all kinds of interesting items from my past. Like my old Walkman!

Walkman Sport

And also? Rubylith masking film. Something I used by the car-load during the early days of graphic design layout. The mask was sticky and attached to a clear acetate layer, so you could create masks that can be stacked up...

Walkman Sport

Ah memories. But I wouldn't change music on my iPhone or computer layout for all the Walkmans and Rubylith in the world.

   
• Villains! As I started cleaning out my refrigerator, I found six... SIX... containers of mayonnaise open...

Refrigerator Full of Mayo

WHY?!?? HOW?!?? There are times that I think I might be bat-shit crazy. This is one of those times.

   
• Faith! Reelz, who has been churning out a steady stream of really good TV shows about tragic music stars, recently came out with new shows on George Michael, including their George Michael’s Lonely Life which was quite good. And reminded me about when George appeared with James Cordon for the first Carpool Karaoke, and James' reaction to his death...

Still sad that George is gone. His music at the end was every bit as interesting as when it began, and I was looking forward to more of it.

   

   

Kilauea Attacks!

Posted on May 8th, 2018

Dave!So there we are, waiting for our ghost hunt to begin when Coal Miner's Granddaughter turns to me and says "Hey, did you see that Kilauea erupted in Hawaii?"

I hadn't.

In March of 2008 a new fissure opened on Kilauea, causing a "vog" (volcanic smog) alert to be issued. Not just for The Big Island, but for neighboring islands as well. I ended up traveling to Hawaii later that year, excited at the prospect of finally seeing a lava flow. But, alas, Pele (Hawaiian goddess of fire) had other plans and there was no lava to be found. There was still vog happening though...

Kilauea Venting Vog

Kilauea Venting Vog

   
Now Pele has unleashed the Real Deal on The Big Island, and unfortunately there are people in the path of her wrath...

Kilauea Eruption by Bruce Omori from Paradise Helicopters
Bruce Omori from Paradise Helicopters via Shutterstock and Time Magazine

Kilauea Eruption by Bruce Omori from Paradise Helicopters
Bruce Omori from Paradise Helicopters via Shutterstock and Time Magazine

   
The footage is pretty dramatic...


   
Though this is the story that's probably most disturbing!

   
Holy Watchmen, Batman!

Kilauea Venting Vog

   
Such beautiful destruction.

I'm in Hawaii later this year. If the lava thing is still happening, perhaps this will finally be my chance to see it.

Assuming the world hasn't ended by then, of course.

   

Day Three: Jefferson City

Posted on May 5th, 2018

Dave!And so here I am in Jefferson City with Coal Miner's Granddaughter!

Our event doesn't start until tonight, so we decided to head downtown to soak in all the big fun that Jeff-City has to offer.

Our first stop was the Missouri State Capitol Building. From the outside it looks pretty typical for a capitol building...

Jefferson City State Capitol

But on the inside? Absolutely stunning. Gorgeous art nouveau paintings depicting the life and history of Missouri cover the inside dome...

Jefferson City State Capitol

Jefferson City State Capitol

Jefferson City State Capitol

Jefferson City State Capitol

   
Inside this gorgeous building are busts of "famous Missourians" scattered around. Or, as in the case of Rush "Total Piece of Shit" Limbaugh, infamous...

Jefferson City State Capitol

There are also awesome people like Betty Grable (whose bust is creepy as hell) and Josephine Baker as well...

Jefferson City State Capitol

Jefferson City State Capitol

   
To the South of the Capitol Building is a monument for the Lewis and Clark trailhead. Since I've seen the end of the trail (about a half hour south of Astoria, Oregon), I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the start...

Jefferson City State Capitol Lewis and Clark

   
Unbeknownst to us, downtown Jefferson City had been closed off for Shelbyfest... the celebration of all things related to the Shelby Mustang...

Jefferson City Shelbyfest

Jefferson City Shelbyfest

   
The "Ghost Hunt Weekend" event is at the old Missouri State Penitentiary. We decided to go early so we could take a tour and know the history behind everything...

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

The grounds are massive. The buildings are massive. Everything is massive. This is just one of the buildings...

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

What's not massive? The cells. They're tiny. And, depending on the era, there were times that they held more inmates than you'd think were possible... four... even six per cell...

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

There are several buildings. We saw just two of them. The newer one seemed much more like what you'd think a prison looks like...

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

The last stop on the tour was the gas chamber. A place where 40 convicted criminals met their end...

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

Our tour was a particularly good one because our guide was a former prison guard. Even better? One of the first women guards was taking the tour with us. Even better? Two former inmates were also on our tour... one of whom was wrongfully convicted of a life sentence and served 23 years before he was released.

   
There are some happy residents of the prison complex... groundhogs! They're everywhere!

Jefferson City State Penitentiary

   
And that was the end of our day. The real adventure happens tonight...

   

Day Two: Saint Louis to Jefferson City

Posted on May 4th, 2018

Dave!The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a stunning piece of architecture. Not just because of what you see on the outside (though the stainless steel exterior is beautiful) but also because of the incredible structural design on the inside. And underneath it (the foundation extends 60 feet beneath the ground). It's massive and impressive on many levels, and if you're ever in the area I highly recommend paying a visit.

It would be hard to me to top the beautiful blue skies from my previous visit, but I decided to go anyway because I just can't help myself. I could just look at the thing all day long...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

   
My favorite part of visiting The Arch is the tram/elevator system that takes people to the top...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

   
The cars are pretty tiny, which means you get to get real close to the people riding up with you...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

   
But it's all worth it once you get to the top...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

   
By the time I made it back down again the weather started clearing up (of course)...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

   
The Old Courthouse across the street is too pretty to pass up, so I dropped in for a quick visit...

Old Courthouse St. Louis

Old Courthouse St. Louis

   
While they are remodeling the Gateway Arch Visitor Center, the Old Courthouse is the temporary ticket office. While you're there, you can get a close look at how the tram cars are constructed...

Old Courthouse St. Louis

The system that transports the cars is pretty ingenious. The track starts out above the cars at the bottom... then transition to below the cars as you head up the legs. Eight cars are all chained together so that they can increase the number of people transported each go. The actual cars are suspended in an outer shell that allows the cars to rotate around as it travels, keeping the passengers upright.

And, just like that, my trip to St. Louis had come to an end. Time to head back to the airport to meet up with long-time blogging friend Coal Miner's Granddaughter for a road-trip to Jefferson City. But before we go? Time for T-Rav (which is "Toasted Ravioli," a St. Louis specialty, for those not in the know)...

Old Courthouse St. Louis

See you in Jef-City...

An interesting aside here... did you know that China built their own "Gateway Arch," but made it into a full loop? They call it the "Ring of Life" and it is pretty obvious where the original inspiration came from...

Ring of Life China
Photo by В ЭТОЙ ЖИЗНИ

Pretty. But I'll take the original any day!

   

Day One: SEA -> STL

Posted on May 3rd, 2018

Dave!Planning for a trip over the mountains to the airport is pretty simple. Pull out the Waze app so I can calculate travel time... add a half hour because Waze is always wrong by at least that... then add two hours to that, which should cover any delays and get me to the terminal with at least 90 minutes to spare.

It's a good plan, and one that's served me well for years.

Except...

Sometimes things get out of control before you even step out the door. This morning I decided to empty the trash can before I left, only to have Fake Jake come running in while I was navigating the door.

Needless to say, bedlam ensued. Much running around and hissing were to be had. Real Jake was enraged. Jenny, bless her heart, did not run and hide as I expected, but instead stood her ground. From a distance, of course.

Ten minutes later, I managed to corral Fake Jake with the promise of treats...

FAKE JAKE!!!

I then spent 20 minutes trying to calm my cats down so that I wouldn't be leaving them in a traumatized state. By the time I left... for the second time... they were back to normal as if nothing happened.

Lucky for me Seattle traffic was only horrendous instead of overwhelmingly fucking heinous, so I still managed to arrive with plenty of time to spare.

Annnnnnd...

Now I'm in St. Louis. A city I haven't visited in quite a while. Nearly ten years, in fact (boy, having a blog is handy for figuring out things like this!).

First order of business? Falafel...

Falafel Pita for Dinner

Before turning in for the night, I decided to walk across the street and marvel at The Gateway Arch...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Gateway Arch St. Louis

Across the street from that is the Old St. Louis Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case was first presented 172 years ago... which is not so long ago, when you really think about it...

Old St. Louis Courthouse

I didn't think that any rooms in my hotel had a view of The Arch. Turns out the rooms on the very corner do. And I'm in the penthouse suite, which means I've got the best view possible...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

And that's all she wrote for my exciting day of travel. Good night y'all.

   

Day Six: Budapest, Part Four

Posted on April 15th, 2018

Dave!And here we are at the end of my busy day in Budapest. Since I have to be at the train station by 7:30 in the morning, there ain't no more after this.

Odds are if you've ever been looking at photos of Budapest, you'll undoubtedly run across that classic shot of the Hungarian Parliament Building all lit up at night. The city is kinda famous for it, and I wanted a shot of my very own.

After sprinting across the Danube... or, to be more precise, under the Danube on the subway... I sat on the bank across from the building waiting for night to fall and the magic to happen.

The lights start off small at first. Just little glowing dots appearing across the exterior...

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

But before too long, the whole building is flooded in golden light. It is most certainly a pretty sight...

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

   
Continuing down the West bank of the river, I make my way back towards the Chain Bridge...

Chain Bridge at night in Budapest

   
I had purchased an extra funicular ticket on my first ride up Castle Hill because I wanted to look down on the city with all the lights on...

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

On my previous funicular rides, I didn't have very good angle to film the experience. This time I did, and here's what that looks like...

   
And that's all she wrote, folks. Time to head back across the river so I can get some sleep before heading out in the morning...

Budapest at Night

Until next time, Budapest...

   

Day Six: Budapest, Part Two

Posted on April 15th, 2018

Dave!From Buda Castle I walked to the area known as "Halászbástya"... or "Fisherman's Bastion" in English. The reason that this end of castle hill has that name is because the local fishermen's guild was responsible for defending it. The bastion itself is pretty nifty, with great views across the Danube River to the Pest side of the city...

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

   
Fisherman's Bastion is home to the incredible Matthias Church. If I were to make a "must-see list" for Budapest, this church would unquestionably be at the top of it. It's a painted church (though not the Painted Church) which is my favorite kind of church (probably because I've seen so many gothic cathedrals in my time that I welcome the opportunity to see something different). The outside is kinda familiar if you've seen a lot of European churches, but the pretty tile roof and awesome moon and star weather vane give you a hint what you'll find inside...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

   
And speaking of inside...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

I took a lot of photos of those painted walls... fascinated that so many disparate patterns ended up looking so amazingly awesome together...

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

   
Meanwhile, back to my tour...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

   
I could have spent a couple hours here easy, but hadn't eaten all day and needed to grab a bite before more exploring. So I headed back to the Pest side of the Danube, which you can read all about in Part Three!

   

Day Four: Keukenhof, Part Two

Posted on April 13th, 2018

Dave!Usually when I take hundreds of vacation photos, I go back to my hotel and immediately purge 50-60% of them. Then I take a good hard look at what's left and delete another bunch of them if I can. Since digital photography makes it so easy (and cheap!) to shoot loads of photos, I always shoot way more than I need just in case I missed something that my be covered in other shots. But to save all those photos would be absurd, as I'd never want to look at crappy images, nor do I want to pour through a bunch of duplicates.

My day at the Keukenhof resulted in two-hundred-and-sixty-eight photos.

I only deleted twenty-two of them.

Everything was just too great to dump.

I did, however, manage to whittle down the ones I was going to post here to fifty, which I divided into two parts because it seemed the easier way to fly.

Every year there's a theme to the Keukenhof's grand display. Last time I was here I think it was orchids. This time it was roses and romance, which was a cool exhibit to see. Roses are just so beautiful when you look at the delicate folds that make them what they are. I couldn't stop photographing them...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

   
I think my favorite flower I saw was this one, which looked more like fake paper cut-out flowers rather than actual vegetation. I wish I had thought to look up the name...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

   
In my past three visits, I never once saw a bee. This time I saw two of them, including this industrious fellow...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

   
A friend came down from Amsterdam to walk around the gardens with me. We were discussing something to do with photography when I young boy heard us speaking in English. He poked at my leg, and I looked down at him only to have this conversation...

"I know the name of all the flowers!"
"That's nice."
"I know the name of all the flowers!"
"Oh. Okay... what's this one?"
"I don't know that one."
"I see. What's this one?"
"I don't know that one."
"Ah. What flower do you know?"
"That is a tulip."
"Alrighty then."

Later we were walking by a pond where there were a couple ducks. The same little boy was yelling "QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!" This was a new level of annoying, and I wondered if I should ask him for more fascinating tulip facts, but thought it better to leave well enough alone...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

   
And that's it for this edition of NAME! THAT! FLOWER!

   

Day Four: Keukenhof, Part One

Posted on April 13th, 2018

Dave!One of the nicest places to visit in the Netherlands is the Keukenhof, which is all tulips all the time. Well, at least for the time that they are open, which is about mid-to-late-March to mid-May. I've visited a couple times before (here and here), and always have a good time walking around photographing the flowers and taking in the smells that only a billion flowers can provide.

For this trip, I took my Sony 90mm Macro FE lens, which was purchased specifically for situations like this. Even though I didn't really do much "deep macro" with it, I was able to get some beautiful shots that only a lens of this quality can provide. Perhaps next time I will take a tripod and do some "real" macro, which would be an interesting way to make the journey feel new again...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

To be continued...

   

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