Saturday, July 24, 2010

o dark 30 - early morning 4-wheeler ride

My oldest son had to go to work today.  Early.  Really early.  He got up around 4:30AM.  He had to be to his bosses house at 4:45AM.  Normally I would have let him take my 4-wheeler, but I wanted it.  I wanted to go for a ride and take some photos of the sunrise.  And I had to be back home by 8AM so my daughter could go and mow a lawn.  So I had to hustle.

As soon as he left, I loaded the 4-wheeler on the ATV trailer and took off.  I got to my destination in about 15 minutes and I unloaded my rig and proceeded up the mountain.  And I was flying up the mountain.  I startled some animals (rabbits).  I even came across a doe and her fawn.  Twice.  The first time one of the animals was on my left and the other was on my right.  I went around a corner and they were both there - again.  Funny thing is that they started running down the road and I was riding behind them.  I was trying to catch up to them (I was doing about 15 or 20+ MPH) but each time I started to gain ground, I had to slow down because the road started getting rough.  So they would always gain some more ground.  They finally exited the road and I continued on my trek up to the top of the mountain.

I got up top (actually, near the top - the place I wanted to be) with about 10 or so minutes to spare.  So I got off the 4-wheeler and setup the camera and started taking some photos.  None of them are award winners, but sometimes you've just got to try.  The photo below, I had to underexpose it by two or three stops, maybe more.  I don't remember.  I had to underexpose it so I could get some color out of the sun without it being totally washed out.

Here is another favorite I took this morning:

You might be thinking, "Tom, your shadow is in the photo.  That was stupid!"  Ah, my friends, that was on purpose.  I have other photos where it is just my machine.  But I wanted to capture the rider of the machine in the photo itself.  I thought it was kind of cool.

Here is another one that I liked from this morning's shoot.  I just noticed that I have a big dust bunny on my sensor.  Hmmmmm...   How did that get there?  See if you can spot it...

I really hate it when the sensor gets dirty.  The camera is supposed to shake that off, but I may have to carefully clean this one off some how.  (NOTE:  I just took some test photos and the dust bunny is gone.)  I was also wondering why the sun has all that crappy stuff around it.  All my lenses have filters on them, but I rarely clean the glass.  I looked at the glass and it was hideous, like someone spit on it and it had a bunch of little dots on it.  So I sprayed some cleaner on the filter and now it is crystal clear.  I may try another sunrise shot later this week.  If I get something a little better, I'll post the results.

I looked at my photos again and I found anouther one that I liked...

It is cool to see the shadows in the valley because of the mountains.

So, did I get home by 8?  You bet.  I got home with a few minutes to spare.  That ride totally made my day today.  Working from home really takes a toll on you.  I find that I often need to get out and away from the house.  So I end up going for a ride somewhere.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Family reunion

Last week we had a cousins reunion from my Mom's side of the family.  Here is a photo from the outing:

See if you can find Waldo (or in this case Tom).  And yes, I took this picture.  Thank goodness for tripods and remotes.

The death of a toilet

When you buy a cookie cutter home, you usually end up with low end everything in your house, unless you take the allowance and spend it on something decent.  About four or five years ago the garbage disposal died.  I ended up yanking out the sink, garbage disposal, and the faucet and putting in something nice.

Well, this year I had a few extra bucks.  And the toilets in my house have really been getting on my nerves.  When you're clogging the toilet practically every time you have a movement, it is time to replace.  So replace we did.  We only did two of the three toilets in the house, but that is sufficient for now.

So, what do you do with a poor flushing toilet?  You can throw it in the garbage can.  Or you can take it to the dump.  Or you can destroy it.  The 14 year old boy in me likes the last idea.  Toilet meets bullet.  Toilet shatters spectacularly.  Toilet pieces are collected and then disposed of in the garbage can.  Nice.

So here is a photo of the weapon (not the actual weapon, but a representation of what was used in the mercy killing destruction of the toilets).

So here is the line up:

Here is what happens when a .223 meets a toilet:

This isn't the final photo from the outing, but it is a good representation of what does happen when bullet meets lousy flushing toilet.  As you can see, the gun and the bullets win!  I collected the bigger pieces, the toilet seats and internal components and took them home and threw them in the garbage.  Maybe I ought to get Kels Goodman, the guy that does the viral videos for Blendtec, and see if he can blend a toilet in a Will It Blend segment.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tom - The Good Samaritan

In my last post, I let the cat out of the bag.  What I find funny is that no one must read my blog because none of my neighbors knew I bought a new four wheeler.  I've enjoyed my four wheeler so much that I put about 100 miles on the thing in about 10 days.  Because of that I had to take it in for service.  (The first service is done at 20 engine hours or 100 miles, which ever comes first.)  That was Wednesday morning.  I got it back Friday.  Yeah, the dealer was busy and I wanted my four wheeler home for the weekend.  I wanted to go on a ride today, but I got side tracked.

You see, yesterday as I was driving home from the dealer with four wheeler in tow, the passenger side tire on the trailer blew out, and I got stranded on the side of the road with a blown out tire (and no spare) and my brand new, shiney four wheeler in the back of the rig.  Oh, and I have 8 minutes of time left on my Tracfone.  Sweet!  Long story short, we ended up retrieving the four wheeler and my Suburban, but we left the trailer, sans blown out tire, on the side of the road.  Today I went and got a replacement tire for the trailer and saved the trailer.  Took all of about 10 minutes to replace the tire and attach it on to the Suburban.

So, I take off.  I'm going home and I'm about half way home and out of the corner of my eye to the left of me I catch a light green station wagon with a bunch of people out of the car standing and sitting around.  "News alert!  Stranded/broken down car."  I look over at my oldest son and say to him, "Son, we won't be home in a while.  We've got to go check on those people."  We go up the road a couple more miles, turn around and head back.  We get up to the people, slow down, pull over and stop.

We get out.  This is the McLaren family and they live in Belgium (Americans living abroad, something I'm somewhat familiar with) and they are visting family for the summer.  The father is on a plane flying back to Belgium.  The wife with her five children in tow are on their way to California.  As I pull up, the daughter's cell phone dies.  I talk to the mother and I offer my cell phone.  She thinks she has a AAA membership, and about 15 minutes later, we realize that they don't have one.  So I call my wife and get the phone number of a towing company.  We call them.  They'll be there in 20 minutes.  The mother asks, "So, why did you stop?"  And I said, "Because when the tire blew on my trailer, no one stopped to help me.  So I didn't want that to happen to you."

We sat there and waited.  She called her local son (she has seven kids; five with her, one in Cali and one local) and he was on his way to rescue her and her family.  One of her daughters that is about a year younger than my son talked to him the whole time.  :-)  I waited for her son to show up and I waited for the tow truck to come.  Once they did and they were taken care of, I left the scene.

So what happened to their car?  Quite simply, the car blew a hose and all the coolant leaked out.  The car overheated and essentially died.  The tow truck operator tried to start the car, but it was dead.  The head probably got warped because of the heat, so the engine is toast.  New car or new motor or new something.  It wasn't going to be cheap.

Honestly, this experience was the highlight of my day.  Why?  Because I got to help someone out.  I know what it is like to be stranded on the side of the highway and have trucks and cars pass by going really fast.  That happened to me just yesterday.  And all I can say is that it sucked.  Hard.  And I didn't want that lady and her family to be up a creek without a paddle.

Funny thing is....  I doubt this lady will remember my name or anything.  Crap, I don't remember her first name.  But she'll always remember that time someone stopped to help her and her kids.  I'd like to know how the story ends, but that will probably never happen.  Unless they happen to stumble across my blog.  In which case, if the McLarens that live in Belgium ever read this, please kindly post what happened.  I'm curious to find out.

So the next time someone is sitting on the side of the road broken down, take a moment to go and help out.  Even if they don't accept your offer, at least you tried to help.  And in this case, I was an example to my son that we need to be our brother's keeper.