April 2004 Archives

Digi-Reb Arrives


My new Canon EOS Digital Rebel arrived today. The "official" name is 300D and (unfortunately) it is also called the "Kiss" outside the U.S.

It's nice to have a real SLR again. Even the Nikon was really just a fancy point and shoot. The Digi-Reb focuses SO much faster and has the real clip/clop of the mirror. Now I have to spend a lot of time learning how to make it do what I want it to do. That means figuring out out to speak in Canon after a few years of speaking in Nikon. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate over the next few days and I can get outside and shoot a lot.

Meanwhile, here's a self portrait.

Vermont Leaf Migrations

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Fall-Farm_001.jpg Its a little known fact that leaves dont actually all grow from buds in the spring and fall off the trees in autumn. Actually, it is so little known that I think Im the only one who knows this - but it is true.

Ive seen it first-hand over the past year. What is really going on is that leaves are rather disgruntled bio-creatures who annually migrate in a vain attempt to find the perfect location in which to hang out (literally). Lets start in the summer and work our way through the year and Ill show you what youve been missing.


The leaves are happily hanging out (literally) on their respective trees, soaking up the sun and cranking out chlorophyll. An occasional breeze rustles them from complacency and exposes the underside to the sun. Some succumb to insects and some weather the indignity of bird droppings, but for the most part they are all comfortable and happy.


The sunlight begins to shorten its duration and temperatures drop. The leaves become unhappy. Wheres all that warm sun that we had last week?, they ask. Down south. the elders reply, in Florida and Puerto Rico. This makes them angry. They bluster and huff and puff. They turn red and yellow and pale green. So why are we hanging out (literally) here? is the logical retort.

This is most obvious near the tops of the mountains and hills where it gets cold earliest in the season. Soon you see the angry leaf reactions all over those elevations. The discontent spreads down the mountainsides week by week. Soon the tops have turned all sorts of colors and are then empty of leaves that have packed up and headed to places like San Juan and Fort Meyers. An exodus of the remaining leaves ensues. As the bottom elevation leaves see the upper elevation leaves streaming past on their way to warmer climes, they too join the flow. It becomes a panic. The color streams down the mountains, into the valleys, and is soon gone.


All the leaves are gone. Many remain dead on the ground, trampled by the hordes fleeing the cold weather. Humans mistake these victims as the natural result of biology. They are just the poor fools who tried to carry too much stuff on the migration and were slowed by exhaustion. Look carefully under a dead leaf and youll probably find it was trying to haul a little leaf piano all the way to Orlando.

Those leaves that made it out are now hanging out (literally) on different trees in warm climates. Wearing native dress, they blend into the local flora with loud shirts, take advantage of early bird specials, and drive 20 mph under the speed limit.


The temperature begins to rise to uncomfortable levels. The 70s and 80s nudge into the 90s. The leaves become unhappy again. I thought that this was supposed to be warm sun, not sweltering! Where is all that nice weather we were having a few weeks ago? they grouse. Back home in Vermont. the elders roll their eyes and reply. This makes them frustrated. They didnt migrate two to three thousand miles just to turn around and go back again in a few months. They bluster and huff and puff. They turn red and yellow and pale green. I guess were through hanging out (literally) down here! they declare.

Soon you can see the migrants arriving back in the Vermont valleys. The reds climb back into their favorite trees. The yellows ascend theirs. The pale greens rise into whatever is left. Once the early migrants have assembled and gotten comfortable there is no room for new arrivals. Youll have to find a tree up on the mountain. they tell the newbies. But its colder up there! is the complaint. Dont worry, they answer, by the time you get there it will be warmer.

So the red, yellows and pale greens in the valley settle in, start producing chlorophyll, and turn dark green. The newbies trudge ever higher up the mountainside, painting it with various hues until established and green themselves. By the beginning of June the Green Mountains are once again living up to their name.


Soon it is summer and the leaves are happily hanging out (literally) on their respective trees. The chlorophyll is pumping and all is right with the world - for now


5700_2.jpgYesterday was a great day to take photographs here in Vermont. Just a few passing clouds scudded by allowing bright, clear light to bounce off all the pale yellows, greens and reds that are announcing buds on all the trees and shrubs.

I took a drive down River Road and caught a nice shot of an elderly couple sitting together under a tree next to the Battenkill River. Framed by the wispy yellows of the willow, they sat reading books as the stream rolled by. The belted cows were out too� they get a snap or two every time I have the camera with me.

I stopped to pick up some milk at the Price Chopper on the way home. When I returned to the car and put the container down on the passenger seat, I immediately realized that the Nikon was gone.

I've gotten used to not locking the car around town when I go into a store or to a doctor's appointment. The exception is when I have packages or something of value in the car with me. In my travels yesterday I stopped and locked the car in four other locations and I thought I had locked it at the Price Chopper. In retrospect, I probably clicked the �unlock� rather than the �lock� button.

So the passenger door was slightly open and the Nikon was gone. It could have been anyone � the skater kids who should have been in school, the guy in the pickup who had been parked next to me, or housewife passing the car on her way into the market. It doesn't matter, I want to strangle whoever it was. Not so much for the loss of my camera, but for the loss of my innocence.

People who know me well would describe me as a tad cynical. Okay, maybe more than a tad. So you'd think that there wasn't much innocence left to lose at my age. But in all the years that I've been visiting and now living in Vermont I had come to know a real difference in the general attitude and behavior of the people here. Sure, I know that crime exists and crap happens here just like in other places, but it seemed more distant and rare.

People here tend to know each other more if for no other reason than there are many fewer people to know � if not personally, then by sight. There are a whole cadre of people who I think of as my supermarket acquaintances. We see each other all the time, say hello, talk about purchases and the weather. Must of us don't know each other's names, but that doesn't diminish the smiles of hello when we see each other again near the dairy aisle. So there is a real downside to stealing something � there is a decent chance you know the person from whom you are stealing. They may be the person who stopped their car to let you cross the street, who moved aside at the bookstore to let you get to a shelf, or who bought a raffle ticket for your high school team fund-raiser.

So here's a message to the bastard who stole my camera. I hope you realize that each time you lift it to your eye to snap a photo it will suck a bit of the soul out of your body. Each picture you print will be stained with an ugliness that Photoshop can't edit out. Every click of the shutter will snip a little more of your humanity away.

I'll buy another camera and will be out shooting in a week or so. But now, each time I compose a shot, I'll be paying a little less attention to the light and a bit more to the shadow and that makes me sad - and a bit more cynical.

Southern Cailfornia Trip

Nancy and I just got back from a week in and around San Diego. I only took pictures on the day that we (after years of avoiding it) went to Sea World.

Sea World tries to mix theme park and science/environmental center with mixed results. It is much more theme park than the other - it's really a stretch to have a huanted house that is tied to marine life and a roller coaster has about as much to do with the sea as a hounted house - but there are many exhibits and displays that are worthwhile.

Here are a few pictures.

It appears that they feed human arms to the young dolphins
each day around 11 a.m.

I'd do the same if thousands of people just stared at me all day long.

In the ten minutes I spent watching this guy all he did was swim
in the same pattern in the 30 foot tank - very sad...

No these aren't freshly butchered baby seals.
They are gift shop stuffed baby ploar bears.

Peguins have to be the closest
living relatives to Muppets.

There were MANY people walking around Sea World who would have
made bigger splashes if they had been able to hoist
them over the water.

We got home to find the cats had (mostly) behaved themselves and
been fine without us. The girls are now sisters.

The Bigfoot Defense


Mark T. Zielinski, 34, of Mount Tabor, VT, is accused of driving his van across into oncoming traffic and collding with another van in which six people were killed. At a pre-trial hearing yesterday his lawyer questioned a Vermont State Policeman about obstacles in the road that might have caused his client to veer off.

From the Bennington Banner:

At one point, with investigating officer Sgt. Michael Marvin of the Vermont State Police on the stand, Harnett asked, "Isn't there a moose crossing at that location?"

Marvin answered indirectly. "Moose cross there," he said.

Harnett asked, "Haven't there been bigfoot sightings in that area, or allegations of sightings," but Judge David Suntag ended that line of questioning. The reference to bigfoot refers to reports that people have spotted a bigfoot, a bear or someone dressed in a costume near the location of the crash.

Time to get a new defense attorney, Mark, pedestrians have right-of-way in Vermont.

Bubba the Geek

The latest Cabela's catalog arrived today and just a few minutes of thumbing through its pages has convinced me that we have a new species of man in America. Let's call him Bubba the Geek. The catalog makes it clear that technology is going to allow Bubba to overcome some of those nasty practical jokes that genetics has thrown his way and that these modern marvels will, most certainly, help him defy natural selection. Here are just a few:


Though sonar fishing systems have been around for a long time, nothing can take the place of actually looking down to where the fish are supposed to be. In past years, Bubba had to wrap Clem's head in a plastic bag and hold him by the ankles upside-down over the side of the boat. Luckily, there wasn't much brain left to damage, but Clem sometimes had a hard time remembering what he had just seen, requiring a second dipping.

There is good news for Clem. He can now buy an underwater camera viewing system for the cost of just 80 - 100 six-packs ($349.99 - 649.99). Complete with video out jacks (so you can show home movies of the fish you were trying to catch) and 60 feet of cable for the camera, all you need is a few sticks of dynamite pilfered from the construction site and you are ready for some down home fishin'.


Bubba and Clem used to have to go out into the woods and actually look for deer. A knowledge of deer habits, the lay of the land, and hunting skills were imperative. After days of crashing through the woods, getting lost, shooting at anything that moved, and smelling even stronger than when they began, they'd give up and take the pickup down to KFC. Now all they need is some "Bio-Logic Maximum" ($49.99) and a Digital Scouting Camera ($399.99).


Here's how it works. Sow an area with 9 lbs. of "Bio-Logic Maximum" seed - a mix designed to grow 10 tons of deer forage per acre. Soon you'll have deer showing up every day to feed. Next, place the Digital Scouting Camera on a tree nearby. The 1.3 megapixel camera is motion activated, snapping a picture and recording the time and date each time some wildlife crosses its path. Bubba simply takes the compact flash card back to the trailer and downloads the data. Now he and Clem know where the deer will be and when they normally come to feed. All they have to do is sit back and wait for deer season to start, climb into their Cabela's Leafy-wear System camouflage suit ($99.99 - see above), plant themselves in their Ameristep Penthouse TSP (Total Scent Control) hunting blind ($199.99) and wait for the suckers to come to dinner. No more KFC for these boys! Nope, they'll be piggin' out on their own, home-made jerky - perfectly formed with the handy, double barrelled Jerky Blaster.




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