Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Songs and a Not So Happy One

YouTube Links:

Beautiful Life, by Ace of Base, band trio from Gothenburg, Sweden.
If above link is dead try Search YouTube.
This is currently my music bliss song. Very upbeat and good to jump rope to. So workout!

Beautiful Morning, by Ace of Base
If above link is dead try Search YouTube.

Another Small Adventure, by Chantal Kreviazuk, Canadian singer-songwriter.
That's a fan video, which is pretty good.
If link becomes dead, try Search YouTube.

And now a not so happy one, but wow! is it powerful!
Disarm, by Smashing Pumpkins, American alternative rock band formed in Chicago.
If link becomes dead, try Search YouTube.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Window Frost Pattern

An intricate frost pattern on one of my dirty windows. :-)
Disappeared by noon sun.
I wonder if I'll get more of these?

Playing In Paint Shop Pro 9 Again

Using Light & Shade to Bring Text to Life
This was an educational study of light and shade and how to create that in graphics software. The tut is for Photoshop, but I used Paint Shop Pro 9 (PSP9). And of course, things don't quite work out as they are supposed to. I just could not get the same golden light coloring no matter what colors I tried. So I used blue cuz it was the prettiest I could come up with. I also textured that background a little because the gradient lines were showing and adding a little noise did not fix it. The shading on the side of my letters makes the text look a little warped? Must not have got that mask just right. I'd probably use a different font if I did this tut again. This one was a little too fat.

Other Tuts at the same site. (My results pics posted here don't look like the tut examples.)

A Slick Supernatural Text Effect
What intrigued me about this tutorial was using the Wave Effect to create smoke. Well, I never did create anything I liked with the Wave Effect in Paint Shop Pro 9 (PSP9) which does not have a scale setting like Photoshop's Wave does. And I don't think the Hard Light Layer Blend has the same effect in PSP9 as in Photoshop.

Advanced Glow Effects
Could not create those glowing lines, but I did study the various ways to create glowing text.

And...Went out and shot a few photos of neon signs...Time for a brewski...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Downstream With The Geese

I was walking along the river the other day and saw a bunch of geese floating downstream moving in the direction I was walking. No pictures cuz it's too cold to take my camera out with me.

I remembered an excerpt from Shakti Gawain's book about life being like a river.

Let us imagine that life is a river. Most people are clinging to the bank, afraid to let go and risk being carried along by the current of the river. At a certain point, each of us must be willing to simply let go, and trust the river to carry us along safely. At this point, we learn to "go with the flow" —and it feels wonderful.
Once we have become accustomed to being in the flow of the river, we can begin to look ahead and guide our course onward, deciding where the course looks best, steering the way around boulders and snags, and choosing which of the many channels and branches of the river we prefer to follow, all the while still "going with the flow." (Creative Visualization, by Shakti Gawain, pg 38 c.2002 softcover edition)

NOTE: The image above is a photo I took of some pretty fall leaves. I applied to it the Almathera Puddle Filter Lake Preset within Paint Shop Pro 9.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Enrique Iglesias Music

I'm into listening to Enrique Iglesias.

Enrique pronounced en-REE-kay OR ahn-REE-kay, I think.

Let us pause for a moment to enjoy the scenery...

Mini bio and other factoids on Enrique:

Born Enrique Miguel Iglesias Preysler (b. 8 May 75 Madrid, Spain)
Father: Julio Iglesias (b. 23 Sep 43, Madrid, Spain)
Mother: Isabel Preysler (b. 18 Feb 51 Manila, Philippines)
So half Spaniard and half Filipino

1979 parents marriage annulled
8 yrs old moved to the US
grew up in Miami, Florida.
25 Sep 95 first album
Has had 16 number #1 songs.
His song "Quizas" ("Maybe") is about his dad, Julio Iglesias.

Girlfriend: Anna Kournikova, tennis player (b. 7 Jun 81, Moscow, USSR/Russia)

Here's a current 2007 pic of Enrique and Anna I found googling, can't remember where I found it. It's a more casual everyday pic of Enrique than the above glossies and I like that.

See also for more info on Enrique.

At YouTube:
Enrique Iglesias interview this morning 2002 pt 2
UK - Quizas sounds like kiss-ass LOL! - funny

Quizas song at YouTube.
With an English translation.

Picture slide with family pics
Enrique Iglesias- Historia de Quizas

Escape video
Enrique Iglesias Feat. Sexy Anna Kournikova - Escape

More Enrique Iglesias at YouTube.

NOTE: HypeMachine changed their website in Oct 07 and I quit using that site for discovering music because I don't like how it is set up now.

TV-now in Sep and now HypeMachine in Oct. Two biggies that went down hill with a website makeover. Bummer.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Naked Cottonwoods

I just love the big old cottonwoods (populus deltoides) down by the river. I wonder how old they are. I googled on it and I don't know how old these cottonwoods are, but I found out that some of the cottonwoods in what's called Smith Grove near Sanger, North Dakota (North of Mandan, ND) date back to before Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1806.

Twelve of the big cottonwoods at Smith Grove are
over 15 feet in circumference,
90 to 100 feet tall and
are estimated to be from 250 to 300 years of age.
(Cottonwoods only live about that long.)

The biggest of these monarchs was
22.8 feet in circumference,
108 feet tall with
an average crown spread of 73.5 feet.
But it blew down in Sep 86. The stump is 35 feet tall.

Info from:
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Natural Areas of North Dakota
Smith Grove Wildlife Management Area

Another reference said explorers Lewis and Clark camped near Smith Grove Wildlife Management Area on 24 Oct 1804 and 17 Aug 1806.

Look for: Giant Loss - Cottonwoods - Aug 2004 - (191Kb PDF)

In yet another reference, it talked about how the cottonwoods helped Lewis and Clark survive their journey. Of interest to me was that people can eat the inner bark of the tree for its nutritive value and sweetness. Also the inner bark contains salicin which was used as an anti-rheumatic drug, a disinfectant, and antiseptic and for eczemas.

Lewis and Clark Cottonwood (PDF 3.31MB)

That article said the biggest cottonwood in North Dakota belonged to Tim Spiekermeier of Sheldon in Ransom County (near Fargo area.)

However, the North Dakota Champion Tree Register (See 2006 pdf.) says same area, but different people, for the biggest cottonwood in ND. So must be some big trees over there near Sheldon, ND.

Gee, I'll have to go on some field trips!

Well, that's my little research project for the day.

Just never ya know what interesting factoids a person can dig up on the Net.

Joseph Campbell Quote

When I was googling for tree quotes I came across one attributed to Joseph Campbell.

God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, "Ah!"
—Joseph Campbell

Hmmm. I wonder if Campbell really said that and if he did, what the reference would be. I couldn't find anything on the Net, so...

I went digging in my Campbell books and found this:
Anyone who has had an experience of mystery knows that there is a dimension of the universe that is not that which is available to his senses. There is a pertinent saying in one of the Upanishads: "When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain you pause and exclaim, 'Ah,' you are participating in divinity." Such a moment of participation involves a realization of the wonder and sheer beauty of existence. People living in the world of nature experience such moments every day. They live in the recognition of something there that is much greater than the human dimension. Man's tendency, however, is to personify such experiences, to anthropomorphize natural forces.

Our way of thinking in the West sees God as the final source or cause of the energies and wonder of the universe. But in most Oriental thinking, and in primal thinking, also, the gods are rather manifestations and purveyors of an energy that if finally impersonal. They are not its source. The god is the vehicle of its energy.

There's a bit more to the last paragraph, but I think the above gives enough to convey the meaning. And some of the above quote is online, if you google it.

I got it from my Power of Myth paperback on page 258 beginning of chapter 8 Masks of Eternity which is towards the end of the book.

Upanishads - Hindu
I didn't dig up that reference.

I guess Campbell said something similar, but I wouldn't say he made that direct reference to a tree, as far as I could dig up anyway.

BTW, when I first started digging into Joseph Campbell stuff I found out that he went to live in a log cabin out in the boonies for 5 years and did nothing but read. I loved him for that! (Ref: A Joseph Campbell Companion, pg 62, by Osbon.)


I got my "light box" back. Hallelujah!
Sunshine, clear blue skies, crispy 40's temp—perfect for an autumn day on Wed 24 Oct 07.

Thur 25 Oct 07 it actually got hot for this time of year--in the 70's. Lots of insects buzzing around hyperactive and got a wasp in the house, but that's another story I won't get into here.

And today? It's overcast again. Sigh.

I was googling tree quotes, can't vouch for their authenticity, but I liked these:

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
speaks to me.
The faintness of the stars,
the trail of the sun,
the strength of fire,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.
And my heart soars.
—Chief Dan George
(NOTE: I've heard this one before? I think I have it written down from a library book maybe?)

Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.
—Karen Shragg, Think Like a Tree

Plant trees. They give us two of the most crucial elements for our survival: oxygen and books.
—A Whitney Brown

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rainy Gray Days

Boy, if I don't see some sunshine soon, I'll have to buy a light box. This is at least the 2nd week of gray overcast days. If the sun comes out it's usually late in the day right before sunset.

Just to shoot some pics, I took some in the car thru the windows. From the inside looking out on the rainy day. Gives me kind of a cozy feeling. I'll have to try taking some photos thru a frosty window on a winter day. That would be cozy too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Signs of Autumn11 - The Great Blue, Migrant

The Great Blue Heron is back!

Haven't seen him all summer. He likes to hang out at this one spot down by the river in the spring and autumn. I hope to get more opportunities to take his picture and hopefully get an even better sharper picture of him. He just stands there real still, never moving, never saying anything, you almost think he's a statue instead of the real thing!

NOTE: Boy, I'm glad he never says anything. His sound is pretty awful. LOL

My ND bird book says they migrate out of here in the winter? I'll see how long he sticks around this autumn.

Listen to the Great Blue at:

A migrant!

White-crowned sparrow.
Movin on thru from Canada or Alaska to Southern or Western US, I think.
Only see this bird during migration here in North Dakota.


Both pictures taken 5 Oct 07.
I've taken almost 4,000 pictures as of 7 Oct 07 with my Canon S3 IS I bought in July 2007.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Signs of Autumn10 - Road, Trail

I love photos of roads and trails, especially in the autumn season.

(The dirt trail above is near where the hornets nest was.)

Hornets Nest

From reading online, I think this is a baldfaced hornets nest?

It looked empty to me, but I sure wasn't going to get any closer to find out! Love my camera zoom.

Sounds like the nests are built in the spring and by autumn or after hard frost they are abandoned.

Has Differences between Yellowjackets and Hornets pdf file link.
PDF says: nest made out of wood pulp, because the nest was in the tree it's probably a baldfaced hornets nest

See also edu site.

wiki again
Says not a true hornet genus but a yellowjacket?
Build nest in spring and by winter is abandoned and probably won't be reused.
Chew up wood that mixes with a starch in their saliva, which they spread with their mandibles and legs to dry into paper.
Has a pic of a dissected nest so you can see what the inside looks like.

unexco site
The paper-like covering of the nest is made from chewed up wood, cardboard or paper that the workers will form into the outside nest covering. Nests can also be colorful as wasps will gather nest materials from different sources.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Signs of Autumn9

Bad news: We had a frost in the area that damaged a lot of the trees. The leaves look sickly burnt and are turning brown/black instead of the usual pretty gold/orange/red. Bummer.

So I can find isolated patches of color here and there, but nice scenery pics are pretty much impossible.

Also, I've gone on several photo shoots but have not taken the time to go thru them.
Well, I picked out some that looked pretty good and will post some that are "autumny."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Moon On Water

Three of my photos:
1. starry night sky
2. moon
3. river water

Put all 3 pics on layers in Paint Shop Pro 9.
On moon pic, eliminate black background.

Darken the water with Hue/Sat/Light adjustment layer, since it was a day pic.
Delete bottom part of night sky and selection feather the bottom edge so it blends into the water.
Merge all, crop, resize, etc. (Should have sharpened a little at this point?)
Apply Flood plugin for the moon reflection on water.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Signs of Autumn8

Let us not forget the prairie grasses.

Weeping Willow Tree

This weeping willow tree really stands out, in among all the other trees.
Looks like the long-haired hippie tree of the bunch.
I think somebody whacks it back without thought for appearance and shaping cuz it gets in the way of the sidewalk underneath it.

It's the last tree to turn and drop its leaves.
I suppose cuz its leaf system isn't as vulnerable to the colder temperatures.

So everything else will be naked except this one.
I'll see if I can get a pic of that.

Anyway, I captured its long branches flowing in the breeze one day.
It was a moment.

Full view of tree, pic taken 2 Oct 07:

Note: The trunk splits into two near the bottom.

Weeping White Paper Birch

This is a nifty tree.
I think it's a weeping white paper birch.

Check out that tree bark.

The leaves are just starting to turn.

Tree hugger, here.

David Gray, Bat For Lashes - Music

Here's a few songs I've been into lately.

David Gray (b. 13 Jun 68)
Fav = Babylon
Fav2 = This Year's Love

David Gray at YouTube
Babylon currently at YouTube.

David Gray at Internet Archive
(Some good live stuff here.)

Bat for Lashes (Natasha Khan b. 25 Oct 79)
Fav = Moon and Moon
Fav2 = Sad Eyes

Bats For Lashes at YouTube
Moon and Moon currently at YouTube.

The Station Agent - Movie

Thumbs up:
Station Agent

When his only friend dies, a man born with dwarfism moves to Newfoundland, NJ and lives in an abandoned train station to live a life of solitude, only to meet a chatty hot dog vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal loss.

I happened to catch this on the Independent Film Channel.
I didn't see the first part, but I really liked it.
Kinda oddball and funny.

Favorite movie quote:
Olivia Harris: "How about you? What made you pick Newfoundland?"
Finbar McBride: "I wanted to live near Joe!"

Good Writeup/review at Ebert.

Trailer with my favorite quote at YouTube.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sunrise - Aho!

Pulled over to the side of the road and took multiple pics of the sun rising.

I set the camera to spot metering and cranked it down dark so I could get a good exposure of the sun.
It was beautiful with those clouds and changing every second/minute.


There's a story behind that...

The Way Things Are
Conversations with Huston Smith on the Spiritual Life
By Phil Cousineau
(Page 263 in my hardcover book.)
"The Winnebago medicine man Reuben Snake was my pre-eminent teacher from the Native Americans. I recall one of the things he taught me. He told me, 'Huston, our tepees pointed east, and when we stepped out of them in the morning we would throw up our arms and shout Aho! when we saw the sun. Huston, you should do that, too.' And I do. At my first glimpse of the sun I raise my arms and shout, 'Aho!' I did it this morning, The first time I see the sun it infuses me with this inspiration, just like the sunlight brings vegetation and the beauty and all life."

Book review containing above quote here.

There's also a Cherokee morning song to sing at sunrise.

Cherokee Morning Song Lyrics

We n' de ya ho, We n' de ya ho,
We n' de ya, We n' de ya Ho ho ho ho,
He ya ho, He ya ho, Ya ya ya

A we n' de Yauh ho (I am of the Great Spirit, it is so!).

The song is at YouTube. I didn't care much for the videos.

Best one currently at YouTube.

Signs of Autumn7

Green Beans Grow On Trees

Yes, it's true...

It's a cigar tree.
Catalpa (probably Northern).
Never seen the blossoms, though. Will look for those next spring.

Google it

Always Take Your Camera With You2

Got several of this jet zooming up, over, down, until it disappeared in the clouds and all that was left was those white lines.
This pic is my fav.

Always Take Your Camera With You 1

Wiki Clouds:
"Aircraft engines emit water vapor into the atmosphere, and this vapor is then frozen into ice crystals. These are known as condensation trails (contrails) or cirrus aviaticus."

Signs of Autumn6

Canada Geese.
They are so abundant that I think some people consider them pests.

Geese are grazers, eating the soft shoots, leaves, and buds of various grasses, as well as cultivated crops and various meadow plants (Northwoods Companion), thus hanging out in that corn field.

Canada Geese.
"Canadian Geese" is incorrect, evidently.

Signs of Autumn5

Sunflowers have their heads bowed, heavy with seed.
The harvest is near.

Little bit of fog out there too.

Don't usually see pics of sunflowers after their blossoms fade, cuz I suppose they aren't that pretty.

But I like these beauties.

Signs of Autumn4

Red Vines Up The Tree

See lots of this stuff right now.
It will get prettier as the tree leaves turn more.
I found one with the tree leaves turning gold and it's fab.

What is the red vine stuff?

I think it might be Virginia Creeper?

Signs of Autumn3

Colorful Leafy Stuff

As I'm taking pics of all this wonderful colorful leafy stuff, I'm thinking...
I wonder if any of this stuff is poisonous...
like poison ivy or poisonous sumac or something...
Well, I don't think I got any on me.
Just take pictures, don't touch the stuff, man.

Signs of Autumn2

I'm not the only one thrilled with these red and green leaves.
(Same plant as Signs of Autumn1.)

That's some really big fat fly there.

The other one is a yellow jacket (wasp family).

Both just a busy wizzy.
Doing what they do in preparation for winter, I suppose.

I see the paper wasp? more often than the yellow jacket.
(Looks like a paper wasp, anyway.)

We usually get at least one wasp in our house during autumn.
And they are MAD when they get trapped in the house.
Gotta be real good at swatting them, cuz once has to do it.
Don't want to get them any madder.
Unlike the regular honey bee, wasps can sting you multiple times.