Fri. Dec. 6, 2019 – so much to do…

Cool and damp.

Well, yesterday got to be shirtsleeves weather, despite the cooler start.

I was misled about my volunteer commitment, so I had more time for errands than I thought I would. Still, two of my pickups were on the complete other side of Houston, in Bay City. That’s far.

I picked up a 22 rifle and some science-y gear. Now I’ve got to go through the pile of gear and pull out the stuff I can use for demos with the kids.

Wife and kids are at girl scout camp this weekend, so I’ll have some uninterrupted time to do stuff. Maybe. I’m sure something will come up to change that.

Lots of crazy in the world.

Bought a honda inverter gennie that I’ll pick up next week. I’m torn between keeping it and selling it. Maybe I should sell my old portable and keep this one. 5800w vs the 3000w honda, but the honda is inverter based and should be much quieter. I guess I’ll have to see how noisy it is. Even though it was half of used ebay cost, I still can’t really afford it, so it will probably be sold.

Other than listing stuff on ebay, I haven’t gotten much prepping done this week. Unless you count the gennie, which I really can’t yet.

Hopefully all y’all are doing a better job….

n

45 thoughts on “Fri. Dec. 6, 2019 – so much to do…”

  1. For another time sink…..

    I went to Dollywood, about a 75 minute drive from my house. I get season passes each year. I enjoy the rides and the shows.

    Anyway, I wanted to see the Christmas lights which get installed every year and see the Christmas shows. I really enjoy the shows even though I have seen them before and can almost quote the lines and sing the songs. Makes no sense to me but each year Dollywood takes down the lights in January and starts installing again in August. Seems like a lot of work to be repeated each year.

    I decided this year to take the pictures using my iPhone 11 Pro. I was really surprised at the quality of the images in less than ideal conditions. The images are not modified in anyway, straight out of the phone.

    Here is a link to the images.

    As I said, a time sink, just thought y’all might like to see the results.

  2. @ray, those pictures look great. There are some really nice ideas for decorating too. The trees wrapped to the very end of their branches take a crazy amount of work.

    There’s nothing wrong with liking the shows, or the familiar. They are designed for you to like them after all…

    Does Dollywood still have a sort of craft area with artisans making stuff for sale? Or was that SilverDollarCity? It’s been a LONG time since I was there.

    n

  3. Nice Photos !!
    So how come cell phones with tiny little sensors and tiny little lenses produce such great low light photos? I have a Nikon with a 3/4 inch sensor and large f2 lens that can’t produce such great low light images hand held.


  4. Does Dollywood still have a sort of craft area with artisans making stuff for sale?

    Yes, they do. It gets expanded during part of the season with several small booths added around the park, mostly in Craftsman Alley. Regular seasons is the same craft booths that exist all year long. Some of the stuff is a little pricey. I have a gold season pass that gets me free parking ($12.00 a shot) and 20% off everything in the park. That makes food reasonable. One restaurant, “Ma’s Back Porch” is a buffet that is really quite good. Not much more than the fast foot place in the park when priced with the drink and the food is certainly better and more variety.

    So how come cell phones with tiny little sensors and tiny little lenses produce such great low light photos?

    The answer is above my pay grade (certainly above my intellect). Yes, it is a wonder. Anyone with a recent vintage phone has a camera that is better than most point and shoot cameras. Not only the quality but the number of megapixels is staggering considering the size of the sensor. iPhone 11 Pro actually has three cameras optimized for different zoom levels. The transition is seamless.

    For the pictures linked I let the phone do thinking for exposure and white balance. In my mind it is really very good. One advantage I have is I know how to frame and hold the phone still. I also do not do vertically held shots for images of buildings.

    I have taken pictures of the same setting with my DSLR and I needed a tripod and had to manually figure out the exposure setting. Zooming in there is more detail on the DSLR images and the light points are much better defined. If I needed to do something for a magazine I would choose the DSLR. But for travel photos, “snapshots” as it were, the iPhone (or any newer cellphone) is certainly good enough. And you generally always have it with you.

    Next year at the first football game I am going to attempt to photograph the game using my cell phone. It will be sunny for the first half of the game for which I will use the cell phone. Last half I will use my camera.

  5. Makes no sense to me but each year Dollywood takes down the lights in January and starts installing again in August. Seems like a lot of work to be repeated each year.

    Protecting the wiring from temperature cycles and UV?

    People in my parents generation and various other demographics also seem to have a hangup about Christmas lights being in place year-round. In most HOAs in FL, if your lights are up after Jan. 1, you’d better have a really good reason.

    In my neighborhood a couple of years before we moved, during the peak of the real estate stpidity in FL, one family had a medical issue during the holidays, preventing time allocation for removal of their lights, and the retirees on the HOA board along with the Col. Bat Guano types went around and knocked on the door to see documentation of the problem.

    Gynecological. Hysterectomy for suspicion of cervical cancer, apparently. The board never tried that again.

  6. Nice pictures, Ray. I always like night scenes. Back in the 1960s I used to take outdoor street scenes using Ektachrome Type B, the slow stuff. It had better Dmax than the higher speed films of the day, and produced stunningly beautiful slides with rich blacks, even when projected in a darkened room. For scenes with very large expanses of black, I even used Kodachrome II, which had even better black and a surprising beauty. Even fellow photogs were impressed. Conventional wisdom was that faster films were more appropriate, but the results proved otherwise.

    And, of course I used a tripod. It made for strikingly sharp pictures. When there was time, we used to shoot up roll ends of a card with pinholes in front of a light. Most of us thought we could hand hold down to, say, 1/30 sec, but found small amounts of motion, sometimes as fast as 1/250 sec. While the motion did not show as such in a normal photo, the apparent sharpness was degraded. Now, image stabilization makes this moot.

    All this points out: try things. Film was cheap. Now, of course, pushing the button is practically free, and the knowledge gained is valuable.

    Framing: critically important. Can make a dull picture special. I learned that more from studying art than from photography, although it is taught in both those worlds.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Some delays but not too long. Several 500 errors however.

    Many Halloween lights in the neighborhood this year that transformed to Christmas right after. I used to have a metal archway over the front walk. Right after Christmas I would change to Valentine’s Day red and white lights. St Pats, Easter, Memorial day and Fourth of July then just white untill October. I would have driven them all crazy.


  8. And, of course I used a tripod.

    When I did film a tripod was mandatory for any exposure beyond 1/60 of a second. I even went a step further and used mirror lock so that the small vibrations from the mirror movement would not affect the film. At some speeds with really long exposures atmospheric ripples from minor heat sources become a problem. Exposures such as lasting more than a minute. Then there was reciprocity failure on film which I never really saw because I probably never fully understood.

    It is just amazing that a device that can be carried in a shirt pocket can take pictures that 30 years ago would have required expensive equipment, experimentation, and a whole lot of patience.


  9. Conventional wisdom was that faster films were more appropriate, but the results proved otherwise.

    Film grain. The slower the film, the finer the grain. Kodachrome II, ISO 25, had almost no grain with stunning colors. Loved that film for brightly lit scenes.

    Now digital suffers from noise at really high ISOs. Some cameras are better than others. Really visible in the dark areas. Even the iPhone suffers from noise at the higher speeds. Still remarkably good for what is basically a couple levels below a point and shoot. The iPhone chose everything except where I pointed the phone.


  10. So how come cell phones with tiny little sensors and tiny little lenses produce such great low light photos?

    It does long exposures with optical stabilization, compositing the image over time.

  11. From @Ray yesterday:

    I’m going to use my passport card

    I use my passport all the time to travel in the US. I have to use the real passport when traveling overseas.

    I am shocked

    I have also been known to use the passport card when voting, another item the clueless poll workers don’t seem to recognize as a valid ID. I think the next voting I will use my actual passport and see what happens.

    I would do it too if I could. I need to get my passport renewed, I let it lapse a couple of years ago. And our local election judges know me already.

  12. I may buy some Peloton stock today.

    I believe that Peloton is a privately held unicorn.

    UPDATE: Nope. PTON on the NASDAQ. Still, invest your “beer” money, not your “food” money.

  13. “Scared residents in Woodlands plead for help with feral hog invasion”
    https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/woodlands/news/article/Scared-residents-in-Woodlands-plead-for-help-with-14885278.php

    Picture number six is what areas of my 14 acre office property look like right now. I’ve been driving my 4×4 F-150 back and forth over the worst spots. I need to get a five ton water filled roller that I can tow behind my truck because the wife says that I cannot buy a tractor.

    I do not know what we are going to do about the four ? six ? million feral pigs in Texas. They are getting ready to pass the eight million deer that we have.

  14. Went to Victoria, Texas on Wednesday with my son and Dad to see the movie remake of “Midway”. Pretty good movie. Did have one uh-oh with a B-17 landing at Midway island which I doubt happened. B-24s were used in the Pacific since they had a belly gas tank also in addition to the wing tanks.
    https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/midway_2019

    WWII carrier duty was tough. No catapult assisted takeoff. And the carriers were smaller with water coming over the bow as the planes took off. And I did not realize that the battle of Midway was just six months after Pearl Harbor.

  15. I may buy some Peloton stock today.

    I believe that Peloton is a privately held unicorn.

    UPDATE: Nope. PTON on the NASDAQ. Still, invest your “beer” money, not your “food” money.

    Yup. I’ve got quite a bit of money invested in the stock market. But most of my retirement investing is in commercial properties.

    And Peloton is losing money on $9 billion of market cap. Serious money, 86 cents per share. Not good. I only like to buy stocks that are profitable.
    https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/PTON?p=PTON&.tsrc=fin-srch

  16. I watched Ad Astra last night. I’m glad I didn’t see it in the theater or spend a dime on it. What a boring, plotless movie. I guess Pitt thinks it is *cinema*. Tommy Lee Jones was wasted in this movie. He probably called it in as a favor to Pitt. Anti-climatic ending.

    DON’T WATCH

  17. Went to Victoria, Texas on Wednesday with my son and Dad to see the movie remake of “Midway”.

    We saw “Kinves Out” last weekend. A little too SJW, complete with Wise Latina, but all of the actors brought their ‘A’ game.

    I have “Hustlers” waiting at home for tonight.

    The series finale of “Silicon Valley” airs Sunday.

  18. “Supreme Court confronts homeless crisis and whether there’s a right to sleep on the sidewalk”
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/supreme-court-confronts-homeless-crisis-and-whether-theres-a-right-to-sleep-on-the-sidewalk/ar-BBXPhbi

    “The justices are weighing an appeal of a much-disputed ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that held last year that it was cruel and unusual punishment to enforce criminal laws against homeless people who are living on the street if a city doesn’t offer enough shelters as an alternative.”

    Uh oh. I see a “Housing For All ™” right coming …

    Hat tip to:
    https://drudgereport.com/

  19. 200 shots. At a vehicle known to contain a hostage. WTF? Apparently some cops are too dumb to tie their shoes.

    Having downsized our house, we have some extra capital. Looking to invest it long-term. At current (negative) interest rates in Switzerland we would literally have to pay money to keep it in the bank. We’re considering either stocks (but we have stocks already in other investments) or maybe a real-estate fund.

    The interest rate situation here seems unsustainable to me. If banks pay negative interest, it seems designed to force deflation, which is never a good thing. Also, this means that loan rates are crazy-cheap (our new mortgage is less than 1%), which is going to encourage irresponsible purchases and irresponsible debt.


  20. Apparently some cops are too dumb to tie their shoes.

    Not saying you’re wrong, but the real problem is that they’re immune to the consequences of bad decisions, as well as consequences of acting from malice and consequences of not knowing the law.

  21. Having downsized our house, we have some extra capital. Looking to invest it long-term. At current (negative) interest rates in Switzerland we would literally have to pay money to keep it in the bank. We’re considering either stocks (but we have stocks already in other investments) or maybe a real-estate fund.

    You may need the cash to fight off your crazy neighbor.


  22. I watched Ad Astra last night

    I agree with your assertion. Unfortunately I paid to watch at a theater. Not, $13.00 total for both wife and I. One of the worst movies I have seen in a long time. Felt like I wasted $26.00. Needed to get a double my money back guarantee.


  23. they’re immune to the consequences of bad decisions

    And they don’t pay for ammunition. Might as well use what they have with them.

  24. @Lynn, my Dad was a B-17 pilot in Europe. When the war ended over there he went to the Pacific and flew to a number of places that were thought to be beyond B-17 range. There were a lot of little islands that were just big enough for an airstrip and Yankee ingenuity provided what was needed. All support personnel and equipment/supplies were ships anchored around the island with some other ships providing protection. There were a lot of resources sent to the Pacific after the war ended in Europe as we planned the invasion of Japan. There are a lot of untold stories about the final war efforts in the Pacific.

  25. Nope, they are losing money on $9 billion of market cap. Serious money, 86 cents per share.

    Most of the unicorns are the “greater fool” theory in action.

    Sooner or later, a WeWork was going to bring the whole thing down

  26. Did have one uh-oh with a B-17 landing at Midway island which I doubt happened.

    The Swoose:

    The Swoose is a B-17D-BO Flying Fortress, USAAF Ser. No. 40-3097, that saw extensive use in the Southwest Pacific theatre of World War II and survived to become the oldest B-17 still intact. It is the only early “shark fin” B-17 known to exist, and the only surviving B-17 to have seen action in the 1941–42 Philippines Campaign, operating on the first day of the United States entry into the war.[1]

    And IIRC, there was a flight of B-17s that arrived at Pearl Harbor just after the December 7th attack.

    ADDED: Battle of Midway:

    Nine B-17s took off from Midway at 12:30 for the first air attack. Three hours later, they found Tanaka’s transport group 570 nautical miles (660 miles; 1,060 kilometers) to the west.[60]

    Under heavy anti-aircraft fire, they dropped their bombs. Although their crews reported hitting four ships,[60] none of the bombs actually hit anything and no significant damage was inflicted.

  27. “Greta Thunberg Enraged After Climate Strikes “Achieved Nothing”, Has Yet To Visit China”
    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/greta-thunberg-enraged-after-climate-strikes-achieved-nothing-still-hasnt-been-china

    “Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is angrier than ever. The 16-year-old climate crusader, whose childhood was stolen by everyone except China, says that the wave of climate change school strikes over the past year has “achieved nothing” since greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.”

    So China, who produces 25% of the CO2 emissions on the planet, is exempt from her hate.

  28. The Swoose:

    The Swoose is a B-17D-BO Flying Fortress, USAAF Ser. No. 40-3097, that saw extensive use in the Southwest Pacific theatre of World War II and survived to become the oldest B-17 still intact. It is the only early “shark fin” B-17 known to exist, and the only surviving B-17 to have seen action in the 1941–42 Philippines Campaign, operating on the first day of the United States entry into the war.[1]

    And IIRC, there was a flight of B-17s that arrived at Pearl Harbor just after the December 7th attack.

    I guess that they did build models with belly tanks then.

    At my first job in 1982, an engineer with the central office in Fort Worth helped me out with thermodynamic calculations. In fact, he gave me all of his notes and files when he retired in 1986. Anyway, in 1942, he was 20 and a multi-engine aircraft pilot with six weeks of training. He had already had basic training and OCS and knew how to fly a small plane (cropduster iirc). He was the pilot and aircraft commander since he was two weeks older than the copilot.

    He and the copilot picked up a B-17 in Fort Worth and flew it to Maine, no guns, no crew, no bombs. The plane had wing tanks and a 100 ??? five gallon jerry cans. They had to pour the jerry cans into the wing tanks from the bomb bay to make it to Maine. Refuel and on to Newfoundland. Refuel and on to Greenland. Refuel and on to Iceland. Refuel and on to Scotland. Refuel and on to south of London at the allied airfields there. He and his crew were shot down on their second trip over Germany. He spent 18 months in a Stalag (POW) camp before being liberated by USA troops. He was 6’4″ and weighed 108 ? 118 ? lbs coming out of the Stalag.

    Anyway, that particular B-17 did not have very long legs. They were continuously pouring the jerry cans into the wing tanks in the bomb bay. Wikipedia claims 2,000 mile range but my friend said way shorter than that.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_B-17_Flying_Fortress

  29. ADDED: Battle of Midway:

    Nine B-17s took off from Midway at 12:30 for the first air attack. Three hours later, they found Tanaka’s transport group 570 nautical miles (660 miles; 1,060 kilometers) to the west.[60]

    Under heavy anti-aircraft fire, they dropped their bombs. Although their crews reported hitting four ships,[60] none of the bombs actually hit anything and no significant damage was inflicted.

    I am glad to know that I was wrong then about the movie. And the B-17 wikipedia page says that the Army retrofitted internal fuel tanks for the Pacific duty beyond the wing tanks.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_B-17_Flying_Fortress

  30. Did have one uh-oh with a B-17 landing at Midway island which I doubt happened.

    The Museum of Science and Industry has a 727 on permanent display. One of the videos shown as part of the exhibit is the plane landing on the *short* runway at the former Meigs Field before being floated over to its permanent home on a barge.

    Maybe @Nick can help with this question — Is Meigs reopening next year? For real?

    The island looked pretty torn up from what I saw looking at it out the window of McCormick Place in March.

  31. Wikipedia claims 2,000 mile range but my friend said way shorter than that.

    Your friend was probably flying an early model B-17 which didn’t have the legs of the B-17G, which was the most-produced and definitive version of the Flying Fortress.

    Robert Scott’s “God is my Co-pilot” has a description of a 1942 multi-hop ferry flight of an early model B-17 from the US mainland to India via South America and Africa.

  32. Wikipedia claims 2,000 mile range but my friend said way shorter than that.

    Your friend was probably flying an early model B-17 which didn’t have the legs of the B-17G, which was the most-produced and definitive version of the Flying Fortress.

    Tom was flying the B-17 that he was issued. He was told to get to the south of London airfields ASAP as the war effort needed him yesterday. His crew, guns, and bombs were already there waiting for him.

    BTW, I forgot to mention that when I knew Tom, he weighed around 350 lbs. At 6’4″, he wore 48 inch waist pants. I asked him why he weighed so much one day (I used to be total idiot instead of the partial idiot that I am now) and he dragged me back to my office. He spent the next two hours describing his Aggie (TAMU) and WWII experience. The Stalag was the worst part of that as he did not hold anything back about the beatings and the deprivations. He vowed to never be hungry again in his life when he came out of the Stalag weighing either 108 or 118 lbs, I cannot remember.

  33. I knew a guy around my mom’s age. Vietnam vet. POW for a good while. Six-foot-something and probably 300-something pounds. He, too, said he would never be hungry again.

  34. … (I used to be total idiot instead of the partial idiot that I am now) …

    Heh. I know the feeling! 🙂 I keep hoping I’m getting smarter as I get older, but there are days …

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