Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Paint Macro Project

This week the Macro Mondays group theme was paint. A pretty wide open topic that was interpreted many different ways. Carla very kindly provided several bottles of nail polish to use as one subject. I like the sparkles in the first photo below of the nail polish brush. In the second shot, my expert finger model Dianne helped me get a shot of her brushing on some nail polish. I used a slow shutter speed and a rear sync for the flash to capture the idea of movement. The flash fires just before the shutter closes so the brush is most clear at the end of the stroke. From the background light you can see a more faint image of the brush initially and as it moves. The final photo is some acrylic paint on a white piece of paper. Surprisingly, this made Flickr's Explore.

Ready to Paint


Blue Goo

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring Trees

Spring is in full swing here. I haven't captured many of the Spring flowers this year. After work today, I took a few minutes to take some photos of the flowering trees around our place. Some of them are below, but there are more in my Flickr set that you can see here.

Tree Flower 6

Tree Flower 3

Tree Flower 2

Little Sneeze Balls

Monday, April 21, 2008


Lotto PenThis week the theme of the Macro Mondays group on Flickr was "numbers." I was kind of stumped about what to take a picture of. When I started taken photos, all kinds of ideas popped up including Dianne's thought of the lotto pen, shown at the right, that she gave me many years ago. Point the writing end up and the beads move to an open area on the end of the pen. Shake it, point the writing end down, and the beads fill the slots along the number scale and indicate your lottery picks. As Erika guessed, it hasn't worked yet but it is fun trying. It was a hard photo to take to avoid a reflection on the plastic number scale. Pointing the flash through a white cloth diffuser did the trick.

See my other photos below. The first couple are luggage locks -- and I use the term "lock" loosely. It wouldn't take much to pick one of these.

The next is the radio dial on a hand crank emergency weather radio. The light from a homemade softbox gave a nice reflection on the black grill of the radio speaker.

The last photo is a trigonometry table from one of my high school math books.

Spin to Open

False Sense of Security

In Case of Emergency

Before the Calculator

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Great Urban Race -- Cincinnati

Today Dianne and I participated in the Great Urban Race in Cincinnati. It's a race/scavenger hunt with teams of two getting around the city to various checkpoints found with clues. Along the way there are tasks to do, puzzles to solve, and trivia questions to answer. You can only use public transportation which, in Cincinnati, means the bus. Otherwise, everything is on foot. It was a lot of fun!

At the start of the race we (along with everyone else) received our clue packet. There were about a dozen things to do. A few were mandatory. Of the others on the list, you were allowed to skip one. You could do the items in any order you liked, so people are scattered a bit but you do see other teams along the way. For many of the tasks you had to take a photo, or get someone to take a photo of the team, at a certain place. At the finish line, the staff checked your photos to verify you were there and at the correct spot. We took a few minutes to plan our route and get some help from Michelle who was our main home base Google helper. Having a person to search the Internet for answers to clues is really key to finding your way around. She did a great job.

Us at Great AmericanOne of our tasks required us to find a saying on a brick and get our picture there. The sayings were baseball related and Dianne remembered all the sponsored bricks in front of the Great American Ballpark that are engraved with various things. The photo here is us in front of a break that reads, "roses are red, the Dodgers are blue, the Reds are a winner, and so are you." We were fortunate to have spotted another team at the brick when we were approaching, so we had a rough idea where to look instead of searching through hundreds and hundreds of bricks.

The funny thing is that we were there just before the start of a Reds game. There were thousands of people (~32,000) going in and a photographer was taking fan photos. He saw us doing something unusual and so he came over to get our picture for his Reds fan photo exercise. I like the Reds, and while I'm not a rabid fan I follow what they are doing. He asked if we were fans and I said yeah. Here is the result. Too funny!

We hit several spots in the downtown area and also ended up going across the Ohio river into Northern Kentucky to visit a couple spots there. We then came back across the river, caught the bus, and went to a couple spots in Eden park. Below is a photo of us in front of the floral clock across from the Krohn Conservatory. I have a few more photos from the day in my Flickr set here. It was a lot of fun and we went participated just for the fun of it. However, I think we ended up 26th and the top 25 teams got medals and are eligible to compete in the national event in Las Vegas in November. Sooooooo close! Maybe next year.

Us at the Floral Clock

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Big Fish, Little Ponds

In the early 80s I was an intern for Procter & Gamble one summer. While here, I heard about a juggling contest being held at the Union Terminal building. I had only been juggling a couple years then, but I thought I'd go and maybe learn something from the other jugglers. The building was a mess back then -- not the beautiful art deco building it is today. The organizers divided the jugglers into groups by decade. I ended up winning first prize in my age group. That sounds pretty good until you know there were only three people competing in that group.

In the late 80s I was in graduate school, on a pretty tight budget, always looking for something free to help out. At that time, the intramural athletics folks must have had a pretty good budget because they ran competitions and gave nice prizes for the top three places in many, many sports. After talking about it one day, we decided to look at the previous year's results to see which sports had the lowest participation. If we could find something that was do-able, we might be able to pull off a win. It didn't take long to stumble on co-ed horseshoes as our sport. I partnered with a gal in our research group, got registered, and practiced once before the competition. Another pair from our department registered too. When the big day came, there were only three teams registered and the one team we didn't know never showed up. We played one match against our friends and won. I think we each received a nice gift certificate at a local restaurant.

Di ConductingFast forward to a couple months ago when the Cincinnati Fine Arts Fund started their fund drive. Many employers, including mine, help with the drive and ask employees to contribute. This year, to create some buzz, there was a photo contest associated with the fund drive. I thought it would be fun to participate and maybe win something. See this post about our arts adventure.

There was a pitiful amount of participation in the photo contest. At my site that probably has a couple thousand people, there were only two of us that submitted photos. There were more folks participating that worked downtown. The contest ended several weeks ago and I hadn't heard a peep. Today I found out I won a $50 prize and a limited edition print. I'm not sure for which photo or category, but Dianne and I think it is the one below of the lobby at the Contemporary Arts Center. However, because it was more challenging technically to balance the light in the photo at the upper right, I'm kinda hoping it was that one. We'll see in a few days when they post the winners. Nevertheless, score another victory for at least participating.

Checking In

Sunday, April 13, 2008

CRG Rain of Pain

Mama SacOn Saturday night Dianne and I went to the Cincinnati Rollergirls Rain of Pain event at the Cincinnati Gardens. It was their home opener, a double header, against the Fort Wayne Derby Girls. We were part of the 1800+ crowd -- no doubt due in part to the local newspaper, radio, and TV blitz this past week to drum up excitement for the match. Not only are they practicing and organizing events, the skaters also do a lot of promo work. There seemed to be quite a few derby virgins in the crowd, so hopefully they got hooked. We talked with one first time spectator who thought it was a blast to watch. Also part of the crowd was Mama Sac (at the right), the proud mom of CRG skater Sista Sacralicious and probably the most easily identified fan with her cow bell. I went over to say hi and see how she was doing since we missed her in Louisville.

Helping HandIn the first bout of the evening, the CRG Silent Lambs skated against the Fort Wayne Flying Squirrels. It was the first bout of the season for several rookie skaters and some of the returning CRG crew. The Lambs took the lead and held it over the first part of the match, but the Fort Wayne skaters came back, took over the lead, and held the Lambs off at the end. I missed the final score. It was quite the nail biting battle -- especially in the middle of the match. There were times where the Silent Lambs' defense was well organized and slowed Fort Wayne, but it wasn't consistent enough to minimize Fort Wayne scoring. On top of that, the Fort Wayne blockers were pretty tough and gave some hard hits to the CRG jammers. Oreo SlamHER was particularly tough, but many of the Flying Squirrels were dealing out hard blocks. Check out the size difference here. Miss Print seemed faster than last year in the open, but was bottled up a couple times and took some hard falls. Of note for the Lambs was jammer CandyKICKass, shown above about to get a whip from Ima Payne. Candy must have put in a lot of work during the off season because her skating ability is much improved from last year! She was a good contributor on the jamming front.

Slowing the JammerIn the second bout, the Cincinnati Rollergirls' Black Sheep took on the Fort Wayne Bomb Squad and defeated them 100 to 35. This bout was another fantastic effort by the Black Sheep. What more can I say about the CRG blockers? They were great at controlling the pack and shutting down the Fort Wayne jammers. For much of the first 30 minute period, the Fort Wayne score stayed at 3 -- they had multiple jams with zero points. Their jammers were just stuck behind the CRG folks as in the photo here where Ruby Killer (red jammer) tries to deal with Blu Bayou (in front) and Panterrorize on the inside. It's not just one or two folks, but the whole blocking team that deserves kukos for their effort.

Sadie ScoringAs in the first two away matches, Sadistic Sadie, Hannah Barbaric, and Roseanne Scarr did the bulk of the work as jammers. The photo to the right shows Sadie scoring as she passes the Fort Wayne pack in red. But it was no picnic for the CRG jammers. The Fort Wayne blockers were tough and there were quite a few hard hits like this one and this one. Fort Wayne blockers Mayhem and Bang Bang LaDesh (who went down hard at one point and was limping after the match) seemed especially tough.

Ruff'n The Passer and MeAfter the match I was able to talk with a few skaters and Dianne took some photos. Thanks to all for taking time to say hi and chat. The first shot is of me with Ruff'n the Passer. She was doing a lot of blocking, but did wear the jammer star on a couple of the jams. First saw her skating with Gem City about a year and a half ago -- sat next to her mom. A very good skater all around.

The second photo is of me with Arche Enemy. She is another one of the amazing blocking crew on the Black Sheep team.
Arche Enemy and Me
The third photo is of me with CandyKICKass.

Dianne and I were honored with seats on the VIP couch for the match. Thanks much to the CRG group for that. Also, you may notice in these photos with the skaters I'm wearing a new CRG T-shirt. A special thank you to Juwana Hurt for giving me a special Juwana shirt. A very pleasant surprise!

CandyKICKass and MeI have a bunch of photos you can see in my Rain of Pain Flickr set here. I posted a few favorites below. I have to say the lighting in the Gardens kinda stinks, so I can't wait to see the always wonderful photos from Jason and Jeff who were both at the match. I'm sure they'll post photos soon. Also, ESPN was there filming last night for a SportsCenter segment on flat track roller derby. Keep an eye out for that!

The next CRG home match is May 17th in the Gardens. In that bout the Black Sheep will be going up against the Philly Roller Girls, a higher ranked team. It should be an exciting match to see. Perhaps by then it will be a little warmer to make tailgating a little more do-able. Don't miss it!

Below, Sk8 Crime (with the jammer star) and Ima Payne look to take on Oreo SlamHER.
Sk8 Crime and Ima Payne

Below, The Librarian and Cherry Choke (in black) have a good position to slow down the Fort Wayne jammer Sugar Guns.
The Librarian and Cherry Choke

Below, Hannah Barbaric leaves a Fort Wayne skater falling behind her.
Hannah's Wake of Destruction

This is another shot illustrating the CRG team work. CRG skaters Blu Bayou, Panterrorize, and Ruff'n the Passer have the Fort Wayne jammer Ruby Killer (red star) boxed in while Hannah Barbaric has a clear path around the outside as Mayhem falls behind her. Perfect positioning for the CRG group. That is fun to watch!
Perfect Position

Friday, April 11, 2008


I was playing with some more physiograms the other night. I have an assortment pack of lighting filters and cut some pieces to go in front of the lens. By moving them on and off the lens while taking the picture you get stripes of color in the photo. I like the green one best.

I was also experimenting a bit with multiple exposures in the camera. That's going to take some more work. Maybe in a future post.

Stripes 3

Stripes 1

Stripes 2

Bad Veins

Last summer, on what had to be one of the hottest days of the year, Dianne and I went to Fountain Square for one of the Friday concert series where the CRG skaters were promoting an upcoming bout. The post about it is here. One of the bands that we heard playing was Bad Veins. A couple guys playing with some recorded tracks and doing things like singing through a megaphone to give a unique sound. I thought they were pretty good -- but I didn't realize how good.

I read on the Spill It blog that Bad Veins just received the first Target Music Maker Award associated with the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. Pretty cool for them.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Recent Macro Projects

I haven't been posting photos from my macro projects the last couple of weeks. Here are a few.

A couple weeks ago the Macro Mondays theme was "labels." I like the colors on the label of one of Dianne's favorite beers.


I'm a big ZZ Top fan, so I thought a shot of one of their CD labels would be good. Dianne suggested having a few in the shot. That was a good idea -- as usual. I didn't intend to get the Mescalero reflection in the Antenna disc, but I think it looks nice.

Little Ol' Band From Texas

Finally, I thought the label of a chemical reagent bottle would be interesting. I took photos of several, but I saw this cannister on the corrosive items shelf and had to take a shot. The container is as interesting as the label. I took the photo using one flash, from the left, that is bounced out of an umbrella to soften the light a bit. To illuminate the right side so the shadow wasn't strong, I used a silver reflector that was just outside of the frame on the right.


Then last week the macro theme was birthday bling. It was the one year anniversary of the group -- hence the theme. I don't know about bling, but candles come to mind for a birthday.

Ready to Burn

This photo actually made it into Explore on Flickr. The cake turned out pretty sharp.

Make a Wish, Then Eat

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Blogshares Top Pick? Go Figure!

I noticed today I was getting a lot of hits coming from the Top 100 Hot Stock Section of the Blog Shares site. That site is a fantasy blog stock market where you buy and sell shares in blogs to make imaginary money.

God knows why, but the fantasy value of Earl World has shot up since January. At the start of the year my value was B$2,818 (note the BS in front of the value). Today I'm at B$109,000! Go figure. Apparently that rise put me on the Hot Pick list temporarily -- I'm not there anymore. Must be there are a lot of roller derby fans interesting in fantasy blog stock picks.

It's funny that the only Blog Share investor I have is the Kman. He got in on the ground floor with 200 shares in May of 2006. Glad I could help the value of your fantasy portfolio, Kyle!

Random Items

I've been posting a lot of photos in the past few months, but not much text content. I'm collecting some tidbits into this entry.

I thought I'd get a pizza for dinner tonight. One of my usual spots when Dianne is out of town is Spooner's Pizza in Deer Park. I drove past there after the CRG pre-season party about 2 weeks ago and they were open. I stopped there tonight on my way home and they were closed. The guy inside said they shut down and there is a little 8 1/2 x 11 inch sign on the window that says business for sale. That's a shame. I really liked their pizza and it was fairly close by. *sigh*

And where was I coming from? The Cord camera store. I was in there last week and overheard a guy wanting to sell some used equipment. Interesting... I never saw used stuff in our local store so I never thought to ask. Dianne's been after me to sell my old camera since I got the new one in Hawaii. I've been watching eBay to see what the D50s have been selling for. They weren't going for much so I had kinda decided to hang on to it. But after hearing that Cord Camera conversation and thinking about it, I thought what do I have to lose asking for an offer. I stopped in tonight with my stuff and they offered $125 more than what I was expecting! That made my day! But shsssssh...don't tell Dianne that the old camera actually turned into a new Manfrotto tripod with a head. Very cool. I plan to use the old tripod as a light support, so I'm actually saving money not having to buy another light support. :^)

That's what happens when Dianne is out of town. She's been gone for almost 2 weeks. It's weird because unlike our pre- and early marriage long distance relationship days, I haven't been able to talk to her. I have received a couple emails which was nice. So it's just me around the place...well, and the birds. But every time I use the bathroom, I still close the door. Why is that? Nobody is going to walk in on me. I keep asking myself why bother, but I still do it without thinking.

I got new reading glasses yesterday. It's only my second time to the eye doctor. The first time, about 4 1/2 years ago, was when I got my first pair of glasses -- reading only. I went for that first appointment because, especially for my right eye, I noticed I had to hold things farther away to be in focus. My left eye wasn't too bad. The doctor felt glasses were optional -- get 'em if I thought I needed them. I do a lot of reading at work, so I got them. It made a difference, but I could get by without them if the light was good. My first flight physical after getting the glasses, I passed my near vision test without them. My second flight physical I needed them to pass. Recently I've noticed a further decline and thought my left eye was catching up to my right. Last week, after getting chastised for not following the 2 year check-up plan, the eye doctor confirmed my suspicion. I got about a half step worse and my left eye is now pretty close to my right. These new glasses really make a big difference. Text suddenly got sharp again. Guess the 2 year eye plan is a good idea after all!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

CRG and DCRG Spring Fling

Last night I went to Louisville to see the Spring Fling roller derby bout between the Derby City Roller Girls and the Cincinnati Rollergirls at the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center. It was a blow out (in fact the last name of CRG skater #32 Flavors comes to mind) with the CRG team scoring 181 compared to DCRG's 41.

Blocking EnvyThis was a very different bout than the last CRG match in Indy a couple weeks ago where the pack was skating extremely fast. The DCRG pack had a slower tempo. Although CRG was pushing the speed, they were attentive to the 20 foot rule and slowed as appropriate to keep the pack tight and organized. Even when slowed down, the CRG blockers still controlled the inside and in many jams completely stalled the DCRG jammers. The photo at the right shows Blu Bayou and Sista Sacralicious blocking the DCRG jammer Envy Myoni. All that with what seemed to be not too many folks in the penalty box. An amazing job from all the blockers as usual!

Sir Wheel About to Go DownIt was fun for me to watch, but not much fun for the DCRG folks. I thought their fans were really great and supportive. The place erupted when, I think in the second period, a DCRG skater got lead jammer status for the first time. The DCRG was simply up against a far superior team. The DCRG group was persistent and tried hard the entire match. I thought their jammers Envy Myoni and Sir Wheel were pretty good and put out a great effort. At the conclusion of one jam I saw Sir Wheel take off her helmet and she had a disgusted look on her face. Despite her effort, things just weren't coming together for them. This photo shows Ruff'n the Passer blocking Sir Wheel.

Jersey WhipAs with the Indy bout, Sadistic Sadie, Hannah Barbaric, and Roseanne Scarr were doing most of the jamming duty. However, Sk8r-Kinney, Ruff'n the Passer, and Killian Destroy also got to wear the jammer star. It was nice to see them all zipping around the track. I lost track of how many grand slams they all had. The photo here shows Hannah Barbaric pulling on the jersey of Sk8r-Kinney to give her a little boost to get out of the pack and start her sprint.

Me, Hannah Barbaric, and Lamb ChopThe Cincinnati part of the crowd was pretty small. Where was the cow bell? Thanks to Juwana, I had a trackside seat with the CRG spectators and friends and got to meet and chat with a few folks including Jewel B. Hurt and Professor Murder. After the match I was able to meet Hannah Barbaric and, since Dianne is half way across the planet, Miss Print was kind enough to take a photo of us with Lamb Chop. I haven't seen a Lamb Chop puppet for years!

I put a few photos below. There are more to see in my Flickr set that you can see here. Click on any thumbnail to see a larger view and the captions.

If you haven't been able to catch the first two away matches, take advantage of the first CRG home bout coming up this Saturday at the Cincinnati Gardens. We're fortunate to have a very good WFTDA team in our backyard. It should be a fun time! Also, it's a double header so it'll be the first time seeing the Silent Lambs skate in 2008. Be there to cheer on all the ewes!

Killian Destroy, Sk8r-Kinney, and Roseanne Scarr.
Spring Fling 11

Sk8r-Kinney about to pass the jammer star to Sadistic Sadie.
Ready to Pass the Star

Envy Myoni and Hannah Barbaric sprinting.
Envy and Hannah

Roseanne Scarr racing ahead of Sir Wheel.
Roseanne Outpacing Sir Wheel

I like this photo of June with the Cleaver going for a hit on Envy Myoni. It is the first of a series of three. See the others here and here.
June Going For Envy

My favorite series is this triptych showing one of the DCRG pivots trying to stop Sadistic Sadie (like that's going to happen). It's a nice series showing how she goes low and scoots around the blocker. In the background you can see Hannah Barbaric and Arche Enemy controlling the inside to stop the DCRG jammer. A great example of the CRG teamwork. It's a little hard to see this small, but you can see a larger version on black by clicking here or view the original here.
Spring Fling Triptych

Friday, April 04, 2008

Derby Musings

So what do you do on a Friday night when your wife is out of town? Look for information on the web about the team that will be battling the Cincinnati Rollergirls tomorrow night in the Spring Fling bout in Louisville. Good luck to the Cincinnati skaters!

I didn't find too much on the Derby City Roller Girls -- Derby as in Kentucky Derby and not roller derby. Of course the DCRG have their own web site. And there are a few general articles, but not many specifics. I did notice that there is a DCRG fan group called The Thunder that has a blog called the Thunderbolt. That blog acknowledged that the Cincinnati Black Sheep will be the DCRG's toughest opponents yet.

Incidentally, in Indy there was a Naptown fan group as well. The CRG folks need something too for all those that watch sheep -- maybe the shepherds, or the sheep dogs?

I also noticed that the CRG web site now has photos posted that you can see via the Meet the Rollergirls link. Each photo has some skater info and tidbits of information. There were several good tag lines, but I thought the funniest was Jewel B. Hurt's line: "Don’t hurt me….You know who my SISTER is?" I don't think anyone will be bumping her -- her sister didn't get those CRG awards for nothing! Check 'em out.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Thanks to a Flickr friend and a fellow ham radio operator, John, I was introduced to and inspired to try making a physiogram. It's just a fancy term for a photographic pattern created by moving a point of light over a photo-sensitive surface or with a camera. The basic idea with a camera is to put your camera on the floor looking up in a dark room with the camera focused on a flashlight on a piece of string hanging directly over the camera. By putting a cover with a pinhole over the flashlight lens, you have a point of light. By swinging the flashlight and using a long exposure time, you paint a line of light as the pendulum swings. The patterns remind me of results I got with a Spirograph as a kid.

It actually sounds easier than it is. I got things set up in the basement a few days ago and once the sun went down I started experimenting. It took a bit to get the right exposure settings / film speed to capture the light properly. Here are my first attempts. They aren't great. In the first photo, the spacing between lines from successive cycles varies a lot and there are some 'hot spots' with the exposure. The second photo has those problems and also you'll notice the lines aren't smooth curves -- there is some wobble. Also I couldn't get good travel through a large arc.

Physiogram 1

Physiogram 3

So after consulting with John and doing some thinking about the causes, I was able to improve my results. First, I wasn't getting a smooth release of the light so there was some wobbling. Holding the flashlight at its center of mass when you release it helps a lot to prevent wobble of the light. Second, the irregular path in the second photo was caused by an off center pinhole in the cardboard covering the flashlight and the fact that the light wasn't hanging straight. When you release the light, it inevitably spins a bit on the string. If the pinhole is off center, the result is a wobble in the light when swinging. Third, the irregular spacing and lack of turning was caused by a d-ring thru a screw eye in the ceiling that was supporting the pendulum. I ran the string through the d-ring because I was too lazy to take a minute, grab the step stool, and put the string the screw eye directly. The d-ring swings a bit, but preferentially in certain directions. It also doesn't have the same travel as the string. That caused the irregular spacing and lack of movement.

On my next set, I used aluminum foil to cover the flashlight and used a pin to make a hole right in the center. I rigged a wire loop symmetrically around the flashlight so it would hang straight. Finally, I ran the string directly through the screw eye. The photos below are the results after those tweeks and some practice on smooth starts of the pendulum. Comparing these to the above pair you can see the improvement. The first photo is taken with the reflector still in the flashlight. That makes some light come out at large angles from the pinhole that gives the arcs a metallic reflection appearance. The second photo has the reflector removed so the light is a single beam coming out. They have different characters, but I like them both. Any preferences? I have some other ideas for future trials.

Physiogram 5

Physiogram 4