Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nature's fury, unleashed...

...aided, of course, by a long, long lens on the camera, which "compresses" the image and makes the waves look even bigger than they were....

A beach scene not far from Sandy Bay

All the best TV reporters know how to set up shots like this, as everyone who has been watching the news during the past few days will know.

As a matter of record, there was little damage around here, even though we did get some fairly brisk winds. One of our tomato plants took it on whatever passes for the chin on a tomato plant, a few local dead tree branches broke off, and there's lots of leafy debris around. The ground is pretty well saturated, too.

Tomorrow, it is said, will be sunny.

I'm secretly glad that Irene thing didn't cause more destruction, and am more than amused -- admittedly, in some cases, somewhat disgusted -- by official responses to the storm's threat, but remain a bit sad that my very first East Coast Hurricane turned out to be something of a dud.

We won't need to buy any more drinking water for a day or two, that's for sure....

Ah, well, back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. Must push to find more work, the organist who plays the pipe organ I've been messing with apparently has a short list of things she wants fixed, and this would of course be a nice week for the check owed me for my last writing job to appear.

But tomorrow will be sunny. I like that.

Surveying the carnage...

...caused by Whatevertheheckitis Irene.

There are twigs down everywhere, and some street flooding as deep as an eighth-inch. What with the wind and rain, I'm told it's kinda like experiencing a Nor'easter, but without the bad storm parts.

Ghouls that we are, D. and I went into town this morning to see what was still standing. Couldn't find the Swath of Destruction, alas, but both of us aimed our cameras at the same spot....

Still vigilant, Mango surveys storm damage today at Bearskin Neck

The TV people say the worst is yet to come for this area -- maybe, unless it doesn't happen -- but we keep on keepin' on. If Mango can take it, so can we!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Waiting for...

...Hurricane Irene?

Tropical Storm Irene?

Heavy Drizzle Irene?

According to everyone, if by "everyone" you mean  meteorological experts like the current president and the anchors and reporters on the TV networks' news teams, this could be -- apparently must be -- a four-alarm disaster of a "historic" storm, hell-bent on bringing Doom to the East Coast. We here in Sandy Bay are within a hundred or so miles (or two hundred or so miles, depending on who's talking) of the Dreaded Storm Track.


Problem is, Irene is doing what hurricanes do, changing course and weakening as it crosses either land or cold water. The projected wind speeds and rainfall totals for our area have been gradually cut back over the last couple of days.

Even so, the TV is filled with Tracking Irene!!! and Hurricane Watch!!! stories. They can't loosen their grip on the Death & Destruction story any more than can Mayor Mike "the sky is falling!" Bloomberg. Part of that is CYA, of course, presented just in case the floodwaters are tinted red with blood and entire cities are leveled, but a lot more has to do with reporters' love for the dramatic ("if it bleeds, it leads") and Bloomberg's knee-jerk nanny-ism.

We are Prepared! We've put extensions on the rain gutter drains, bought an extra two gallons of drinking water at the market and are breathlessly awaiting every Breaking News flash on TV.

Well, not the latter....

It's pretty clear that people in this area are taking the whole thing pretty calmly. Not that nothing is being done; oh, no. It's just that the preparations to welcome the remains of the Hurricane from Hell are rather low-key here. Just the way I like it.

Mango, exemplifying the pre-hurricane panic this morning down on Bearskin Neck

Just between us, I'll admit I was hoping for a little more Weather Action from this Irene thing. I've been through earthquakes, of course, and got a few chuckles out of the way Easterners were freaked out by last week's li'l shaker. But I've never seen a hurricane, and would like to have peeped out at least the edge of an active one.

That said, when there's a choice between me being bored and people being hurt, I'll take boredom every time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New toy!

Yes, I have one.

Before I write about it, let me say things have been busy here: work (completed; now awaiting a token of appreciation -- that would be a check -- from the client), payment received for the last article I wrote and first round of pipe-organ work, some running around and general Good Times.

To celebrate, I invested some of the spondulix that have flowed in -- well, dribbled in -- on a new camera.

PARENTHETICAL YA-GOTTA-TAKE-A-CHANCE-WHEN-YA-CAN THOUGHT: It's actually a "refurbished" unit direct from the manufacturer. The same thing worked out fine with my last computer purchase some years ago, which happens to be the computer I still use, and saved me a whole buncha loot. You hope they fixed what was wrong with it the first time, but if they did you get a piece of good equipment for substantially less than the "new" price. I could not have afforded this one any other way

It's far from The Ultimate, mainly because my bank account isn't up to Ultimate-type stuff. But it's an upscale example of its type. A Canon (which I prefer), with an optical viewfinder, plenty of sensible adjustments hidden among the gimmicks (I'm still getting used to which is which, which will take a while), 12.1 megapixel resolution and a 20X zoom lens. Like every other Canon lens I've ever had, this one is tack-sharp.

The camera also has "image stabilization" and can shoot at elevated ASA/ISO settings, which means it's usable in low light without a tripod. If a 'pod is handy, that's better, naturally.

Here's a photo I snapped last night....

Annisquam River, Gloucester, MA

Yes, it's "grainy" -- shooting at ISO 800 will do that -- but I happen to like the effect.

This has me kinda fired up about taking photos again. It's much the same way I felt when D. sent me a camera to replace the trusty digi (also a Canon) that died at about Age Six.

When I get some good ones, I'll be posting 'em.

Other stuff, too.

But right now, I have a hurricane to track. That evil "Irene" is said to be headed our way and, depending on whom you happen to believe, will bring Vast Devastation, A Major Catastrophe, or maybe some high wind gusts and an inch or two of rain.

No matter what, might be an opportunity to grab some interesting photos!

Or not.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Busy times around here...

...but it hasn't all been work.

PARENTHETICAL A-LOT-OF-IT-ACTUALLY-HAS-BEEN-WORK THOUGHT: D. has had lots of piano clients sending in jobs lately, some of which I've been able to help a bit with. That has eaten up a lot of time. So has chasing down an errant check for an article recently completed, and starting in on yet another piece for the same client. Another addition has been doing some pipe-organ service for a local church. It's been a while since I've done much of that, but a hasty repair -- which saw D. and me toiling down there at 11:00 one recent Saturday night to get the poor old thing ready for a Sunday service -- was followed by a request for some more ambitious renovation which was completed last week. More seems sure to come. Won't make me rich (so far, nothing has, doggone it), but it's work I enjoy and D. likes to help with it, which she does very skillfully.

What was I going to write about before I so rudely interrupted myself? Oh, yeah: it hasn't all been work, and yesterday saw us heading off -- with D's mother and daughter -- to the semi-wilds of New Hampshire for a day at an amusement park.

Canobie Lake Park has been in operation since 1902. Of course its operators have taken note of all the major competitors, so now it's a kind of junior-grade Disneyland, with dashes of Knott's Berry Farm, Universal's whatever-they-call-it, Six Flags and all the rest. But Canobie Lake comes off rather nicely by comparison, not because it has any rides that deviate from standard fare (they don't), or because much of the original has survived (the carousel is old, and a couple of repurposed buildings date back to the 1930s or 40s), but because it all somehow seems more human and, well, friendly.

The rides we went on were fun, but equally enjoyable for me was just looking which, as usual, meant snapping a few photos:

One of several roller coasters at Canobie Lake
This one's called "Da Vinci's Dream," and I'm hoping ol' Leo had a fairly strong stomach if he dreamed of riding this....

One of my favorite styles of architecture: no need for a sign to tell you what's sold here!
Ditto for this structure. Didn't seem to be doing much business, though....
Somehow, it seemed as if the people who designed the park had a good time imagining what was to go in and what it was to look like. A vast majority of the customers seemed to be enjoying the place, too. The water-park sections (and a ride called "the Boston Tea Party," which anywhere else would have been the usual kind of log-in-a-flume ride but was given a local historical theme here) were quite popular, since almost everyone loves a good soaking on a hot day.

Me? I'm ready to go back again, ready to ride more rides and take more pictures. For my taste, Canobie Lake is right up there with Castle Park (in Riverside County, California) as an amusement park I consider worth going to. Part of that was the company, of course, but these two places lack the soulless and calculated feel of the major parks. It's like choosing a particularly well-stocked, competitively priced and clean mom-and-pop store over Wal-Mart.

But enough of this "amusement" stuff. Work calls....