Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reason Number 22 for a Colonoscopy: Sex

I mean, sox.

There are certain rites of passage in life, that I personally would prefer to skip, but with the wonders of modern medicine, it's very hard to justify skipping.

But things don't always go as planned. Life sometimes gives you lemonade. Or, perhaps, Crystal Light lemon flavoring to add to your GoLytely.

But sometimes it doesn't work exactly the way it should, so, lucky you (me), you get to repeat the whole process again! More "lemonade".

But where do the socks come in, you might ask at this point. Well! It turns out that the very kind nurses noticed that I didn't realize I should bring socks to keep my feet warm, and they gave me these soft, cushy, wonderful socks! I love them! They have these little rubberized + + + +s all over them to keep you from skidding when you keep racing to the bathroom, before and after the procedure.

So here's my thought: for my "do-over", I'm not bringing socks again, because I want them to give me another pair!

Brilliant, huh? So, like they say, if life gives you lemonade, get more socks!

PS: Did you know that "sox" is actually now listed in dictionaries as an acceptable spelling of "socks." Take that, spell-checker!

Monday, January 30, 2012


This bunch of floral fakery is a leftover from Christmas. But a few years ago, I decided that I liked the gold leaves and jeweltones. . . . and want to see them all year round, so I keep them out

Someone once asked me, when I said I was remodeling my kitchen, what the "theme" was. Ha! With me, it's rare that any room would have a theme, other than "I like it."

Except our bathroom. In 2004, my family got to go to France. So there are several nods to France in my bathroom. (That sounds weird, doesn't it. It will have to be a set of shots another day.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Depth of Field

I thought it was time to revisit "The Wizard" for a little Depth of Field wisdom:

There are four major factors that affect depth of field: 1) Lens aperture (f stops); 2) focal length of the lens; 3) the distance from the subject to the camera; and 4) the distance from the subject to the background.

You'll see only the effect of three of the factors affecting depth of field, because I never changed the distance of the subjects to the background.

So! Here's my trusty 50mm 1.4 lens, Dorothy (no, Glinda! First, I wrote "Dorothy", but someone corrected me and of course, this is Glinda!), The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and the Lion. Glinda is the focal point. The background is a DVD case and the ugly base of a poinsetta (a pretty poinsetta, but not the foil around the pot), and some random yellow flowers.

f/2.8 50mm
In the photo above, you can see that a large aperture produces less depth of field. Remember, f values like 1.4, 2.8, etc., mean large aperatures relative to f values like 11, 16, 22, etc., which produce more depth of field. The greater the depth of field, the more of the background that is in focus. Including ugly, cluttered backgrounds.

f/5.6 50mm

f/11 50mm
The photo above has a smaller aperture, or opening, with an f value of 11, than the first photo with the f value of 2.8. And now Glinda has to share the spotlight more with her buddies, the Scarecrow, The Lion and the Tin Man. How annoying is that? Let's dump them with a large aperture again, and a lens with a longer focal length.  Larger aperture = shallower depth of field.

This next set of photos shown were taken using the 85 mm 1.8 lens. Obviously, 85 mm is a longer focal length than the 50 mm lens. Wide angle lenses have more depth of field than longer lenses. Compare this next photo, at f/2.8, with the first 50 mm photo above, also at f/2.8. Longer focal length = shallower depth of field.

Oh, that Glinda! She's just about completely ditched the Lion and Tin Man, and all that you can see of the Scarecrow now is a blur of his elbow. (The Scarecrow is missing primarily because of the much more narrow angle of the 85mm lens than that of the 50mm, but it's the shallow depth of field that booted his buddies.

f/2.8 85mm

f/5.6 85mm

And by f/11, the Tin Man and Lion are making more of an appearance again.
f/11 85mm

Now look at this next set of photos, using my 70-300mm lens, set at 200mm. I had to move the tripod further away from the subjects for these photos, in part because there was no way I could get the camera to focus on this subjects while staying as close to the figures as I was with the 50mm or 85mm lens.

And the 3rd factor affecting depth of field is distance from the subject to the camera, so these next two photos are introducing two variables: the long focal length of the lens (less depth of field), and greater distance from the subject (more depth of field).  The closer you are to the subject = shallower depth of field.

If I had been able to keep the distance the same as the f/5.6 50mm, and the f/5.6 85 mm above, you would have seen even more pronounced blurring of the background in this 200mm photo:
f/5.3 200mm

Even at f/11, with the 200mm lens, look how creamy the background continues to be. Now imagine the possibilities of shooting outside using a longer focal length, keeping your subject at least 10 feet from a background, and you being as close as you can to your subject.  The further the subject is from the background = greater blurring of background (which can be quite useful in isolating your subject as the focus of a photo).

(Personally, I'm not going outside until it's significantly warmer!)

f/11 200mm
And because we all know that the Wizard used smoke and mirrors, if you have any additional bits of information about depth of field that you'd like to add in the comments, please do so!
And here's a helpful DOF link:
PS (I wish I had Dorothy!)

And a link for a  DOF calculator

And a video tutorial

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Eerie 6 am

It's not suppose to look like this, nearly two hours before sunrise, at 6 am, in Grand Forks. The lighting has been really weird lately. A few nights ago, it was surpisingly bright at 10:30 pm, with just a crescent moon. I kept walking outside, looking at the sky, wondering what the heck was going on. And there's a pinkish tinge to the sky.

Last night, it was usual night; you know, kinda black.

Then this am, it's like this, with the pink again. I know there's a solar hurricane going on, but I'm not really sure if this is part of the Northern Lights, or just Grand Forks Weirdness.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cold or Brutal?

From Drop Box
Cold or Brutal? You be the judge!

(Just doing what we do best in North Dakota: complaining about the weather.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thank God For Cheerleaders!

Thank God for colorful, cheery cheerleaders. . . .

. . . . to get us through days like this!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cold Nights, Dreaming of Longer Days!

Sometimes ND is chilly. And a little dark. Like today, where sunrise was at 8:15 am, and sunset was at 4:58 pm. I'm actually excited about this, because there's more light now than there was a few weeks ago. And right now the windchill is 17 below zero.

Here's how I prepare to go outside with Ruby for a walk:
Northface Triseason jacket (excellent!); Northface gloves (not very good; fingers still hurt fairly rapidly); hat that I can pulled down further over my face; neck scarf with zipper that I pull up to just below my glasses; cuddle duds under my jeans (you can't see them, but they're purple); boots; dog leash, poop bag, and string cheese (partially split into little strings for easy puppy luring to walk on my side rather than dragging me at 10mph across ice). And out I go, lasting about 15 minutes max.

I've been thinking about future retirement and drooling over Austin, TX, weather, pulling it up on all my weather apps. Today, at 7pm, it's 44 degrees. Spring weather! But even better, I've realized that they actually have longer days! I don't quite get the whole planet rotation thing, but I do get that their sunrise is 7:30 am, and sunset today is 5:50 pm! Look at that! That's a whole 95 minutes more of sunlight! Of daytime! Like, an hour and a half's worth!

As in you could leave for work in the light, and come home in the light! Oh, the bliss that would be!

Someday. . . . someday. . . . .

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All Gone!

Gone, but missed, are these pretty Christmas ornaments:

Gone, but not missed is my "trial" of Sirius! I made myself listen to this until the trial ran out, and I'm very happy to see it gone now. I could see if you were frequently driving across the country, or trapped in the no-where-lands of SD out of range of all radio signals, relying on Sirius for entertainment. But for my day-to-day life, no thank you! I'm really surprised by how many commercials and sales pitches for Sirius Radio took up their air waves! I felt I had to listen to it while it was "free" but am delighted to have Minnesota Radio back where it belongs--my number one spot on my radio!

See you next year, little Santas and Angels!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Present(s) and the Texan

My sweet sister-in-law, Barb, sent me this Texan ornament. It's part of her diabolical though brilliant plan to recruit Doug and I to Texas. We're thinking about Austin TX when we retire. (Oh, I don't know why. Something about it being 72 degrees right now when we're at 29, with a "real feel" of 15.) This Texas ornament really is the size of the local high school, too, because everything really is bigger in Texas!

Ruby got this crazy squeaky toy for Christmas. She loves it! She can drive us humanoids insane with its squeaking in just under 72 seconds! The way it's constructed, the squeaker is in the middle of the toy, with extra layers of plastic/rubber webbed around the outside. She hasn't shredded it yet! All stuffed animal squeaky toys have a very short life-span with Ruby, but this one looks like it's going to be around for awhile. She loves carrying it around in her mouth!
It won a Best in Show award at the 2010 Global Pet Expo. Here's a link.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Beautiful Face of January 1, 2012

Today's prompt is wide aperture, and although I took this photo January 1st, I decided to use it. f/1.8; 1/100; ISO 400. Used external flash, -1/3 flash compensation, TTL/BBL. 85 mm lens, shot RAW, tweaked with Radical Lab to add some contrast.

I'm a little biased, but I think Ruby is gorgeous! And she's a great little poser; she'll "Stay" forever for one lousy Cheerio. How long would you stay still for a Cheerio? Actually, I'm lucky I caught the shot before she started drooling.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good Bye Christmas Ribbons

Good Bye, Christmas Ribbons, your days are numbered. This weekend, you'll come down, along with all the other Christmas decor. The others will be packed away. But you. . . well. . . most likely the trash.

But you did your job well, after Elizabeth carefully hung you from the chandelier. You saved lots of tall people from bonking their heads, as they reached for the meatballs or phyllo and goat cheese pockets, during our Christmas party.

Such a sad ending for festive little ringlets . . .

I could let Ruby play with you for awhile, but it would just be all drool and slobber, and then wrestling you from her before she swallowed it. . . so I guess it's just the trash for you. sorry.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Open House Party

Don't you just hate it when you have a large gathering, and don't take very many photos? I had SO intended to do so!

I invited 40 to 60 people to our house the Friday before Christmas, as a Christmas Open House party, and to celebrate Scott and Elizabeth's wedding (in October.) So for months, I've been baking and cooking and baking, and stuffing my freezer to the brim! My wonderful sister-in-law, Maria, has been consulting with me on recipes, and she sagely recommended the Silver Palate Chocolate mousse (pretty red ramekins, from Maria, in the photo above). I substituted Kahlua for the Grand Marnier. I'll never again make the Chocolate Fantasy, in the little flared dishes, to the left of the chocolate mousse. Pretty, but nasty tasting. I don't get it; I did a trial run and liked them well enough. Most of the 24 little cups went into the garbage disposal after the party.

The punch with peppermint ice cream (foreground, right) was a definite hit! See the little white cups behind the punch bowl? I managed to buy them from a dollar store, 48 for $6. At that price, I would never give the "Northwest Airlines" stamped on the bottom a second thought!

Bottom left: the 3 tiered plate was inspired by Rachel Ray, and episode in which plates and tall glasses or vases are arranged together to make extra 3 tiered servers. I used a tall candy dish at the base.

Biscotti and raspberry linzer cookies are two of my favorite Christmas cookies.

Above: before the party, but before I put most of the items out.

And these two beautiful faces belong to Saxon and Scott. Bet you can figure out which is which!

A few of you marveled at the extraordinary ability of Saxon and Ruby (yesterday's video) to avoid knocking things off the coffee table while they wrestled and raced around the living room. They really were quite agile, and we were able to successfully tell them to leave the Christmas tree alone. But the first night, before the party, we were not as successful. Ruby's tail managed to down two glasses of red wine onto the carpeting, before we adult humans caught on and watched our glasses carefully.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Mean, Mean, Ruby Machine Teasing Poor Little Saxon

Poor little Saxon (Scott and Elizabeth's four month old Cockapoo), valiantly tried to hold his own with the older woman, (Ruby, 11 months). But Ruby is in training, and must perfect her skills of using Saxon to clean up spills in the kitchen. After all, every dog should have a job to do.

But now Saxon has gone back home to DC, leaving Ruby to pine away for him, and him for her.

And we are left to our own devices, celebrating the New Year in our usual fashion: watching Reno 911 episodes and a touch of the bubbly at midnight. Hello, 2012!