184/365 - TaeKwonDo Class [high iso]

There is nothing more challenging than photographing in a dimly lit space. Add the flat florescent lighting and constant movement of the subjects and you'll see why I hardly ever take photos of Brian during a routine TaeKwonDo class.

Until now.

The new toy is supposed to handle high ISO, which means I can increase the ISO, reduce my shutter speed and get crisp shots.

Shot at 500 ISO, with Tungsten White Balance Setting (still shooting in JPG). I still had to adjust the color after I noticed a magenta cast.
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(Brian and his partner are practicing self defense moves. She's trying to bring him down, but since he is double jointed, she's having some difficulty. Can you see me taking the picture?)

Later on, I was reading the D300 manual in bed and Rascal decided she wanted some attention. This one was shot at 2000 ISO (yes, that is two-thousand!). I adjusted the color and sharpened just a tiny bit.
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So far, just loving the results I am getting out of the new camera. But still a ton to learn.

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183/365 - New Toy

I waited ALL DAY long for this to be delivered by Mr UPS man (who I saw in our neighborhood at 3pm, so why did it take him another 2 hours to get to my house?)

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[Funny how I put off this purchase for 9 months, but once I hit the BUY button, I couldn't wait for it to arrive]

But it is here, the battery is charged and I took a few quick snapshots, in JPEG format, straight out of the camera*.

I liked the reflection of the clouds in the patio table:DSC_0006

More gerbera daisies:
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(*I usually shoot in RAW, edit it a bit, then convert to JPEG, edit some more, crop)

Hopefully, I'll have some more time to play tomorrow.

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Clouds after the Storm [best shot Monday]

Time for Best Shot Monday, here are today's other posts if you want to be inspired and play along.

I took this picture late Thursday evening, after a small storm front had passed. Drier air was "trying" to infiltrate the hot, humid, stagnant air that had taken up residence ALL week long (the humid air won this round).

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I had taken some earlier pictures of the same clouds and sky, but went back for my camera because I spotted the emergence of the crescent moon, previously obscured by the clouds.

Share your Best Shot today!

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182/365 - Killa Kat

Warning - pictures of carnage reside in this post. I hope PETA doesn't launch a campaign against us.

That's her new nickname. Or maybe her gangsta code name.
All I know is we were enjoying a nice Sunday morning, with a cool, dry breeze blowing through our back door when we heard the squawking of birds. Through the corner of my eye, I saw Hannah (aka Killa Kat) sauntering by with a robin in her mouth. I jumped up, shocked at what I saw. I let the rest of the family in on the situation and then I did what any normal person does - I grabbed my camera.

The scene from the family room window, looking out around the pond landscaping:
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The view from outside:
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We had to leave for church, so we let Hannah tend to her prey. We're not sure what happened, but fairly certain the bird was a goner.

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181/365 - Baby L

Our neighbors Kellie and Ian brought their new addition into the world two weeks ago. [We all noted what great timing they had - Baby L was born the day of Bob and Jeanne's big shin-dig, so he and mommy were in the quiet hospital and not disturbed by the loud music that night]

I love babies and offered to take some pictures of the little guy. These are some of my favorites:
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Baby L joined big sissy, Maddie and doggie Lola. Maddie is 28 months old, so I can draw some parallels to Erica and Brian (they are 27 months apart in age) and show Kellie and Ian what the future might look like - because it all passes by all too quickly.

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POTD - My Shadow [play]

Just playing around with my shadow after this morning's run.

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I used the tripod and my remote shutter release.

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180/365 - New Growth

I'll admit it - I wasn't finding anything "inspiring" to photograph today. The continuation of the hot, humid, stay inside in the A/C because it feels like a sauna outside has made me a little cranky, even for a Friday.

All of the heat, copious rain and sun has resulted in the maturation of many plants, with summer flowers now coming into bloom. It's hard to remember those fragile little buds of spring, the promise of new growth - but that new growth can still be found if you look for it (or in my case, if you happen to walk by the maple tree in the backyard because you are bored).

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Still some baby leaves, waiting to grow bigger. Just the little bit of inspiration I needed today.

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179/365 - False Alarm

This morning, Brian complained about his stomach hurting whenever he moved. [Actually, he had complained about it last night, but I dismissed his grievances as excuses not to go to bed]

It was clear that he was in serious pain, especially when he sat up or laid down. I had him point to where the pain was coming from - the lower right part of his abdomen, between the belly button and the hip. Hmmmm.... I recognized that as the appendix area.....

So we ended up going to the Dr's office, where he was poked at and prodded a bit before determining he had probably strained a muscle while playing on the Slip-N-Slide Monday night. Whew - that was a relief.

But Brian took it easy the rest of the day, and we'll be more careful the next time he plays on that Slip-N-Slide.

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*******

What about today's events? Two major celebrity deaths - Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. You just never know when your time will be up, so make every day count.

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178/365 - The Cat Days of Summer

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We don't have a dog, so I changed the saying to fit.


This is Rascal and she is at least 16 years old (she was a stray, so we really don't know for sure). She pretty much spends her time sleeping, eating and drinking. And cat-fighting with Hannah, our other cat.

I really don't think Rascal minds the heat too much. Figures.

I'm ready for a cold front. How about a lukewarm front? Just SOMETHING to break the oppressive heat!

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177/365 - It's Hot, Don*

I think today marks our 6th day in a row with temperatures in the mid-90's with high humidity. Even the low temperature of 78 at 5am is still too hot.

In honor of the heat, I took a picture of the back side of our gas grill, hoping to capture some of the heat it gives off. I didn't capture that, so I added a grungy texture instead.
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* Catchy Slogan for an automotive dealer near Evansville, IN.

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POTD - Slip N Slide [play]

No better way to beat the heat than with the trusty slip-n-slide! Jill invited our kids along with 3 other families' kids over for water games, pizza and the movie Mall Cop.

Chaos, yes.

Fun? You bet.

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176/365 - Slip N Slide, Slide, Slide

How's this for summer fun - Brian goes over George's house where they are playing water games, including the slip-n-slide. Add more kids from 3 other families. Add the baby sitter. Add Erica and her BFF, Kathleen.

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Take the mothers out of the picture (that's why there is a sitter there). Add pizza and the movie, Mall Cop.

The result? The kids have a great time. The mothers go out to see "The Proposal", laugh hysterically and ogle Ryan Reynolds. They eat dinner and stay out late.

I think that qualifies as a good day - for everyone!

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POTD - Sandbox [play]

The boys played in the sandbox yesterday - they dug a big hole and then filled it with water.

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They also ran around, played on the swings, looked for bugs and finally decided it was too hot to be outside (so true at 90degF!). Ah, to be on summer break without a care in the world.

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Yet another Photography Challenge [Best Shot Monday]

I'm following my friends, Lee, Jayne and Becky in Tracy Clark's Best Shot Monday photography challenge.

I take at least one or two pictures every day - one for Project 365 on my personal blog and another one for the 2Peas Photo of the Day (based on a weekly theme). So I should have several pictures to choose from each week! (Really, I think I am crazy! And I am in the process of starting yet another photography collection of Morning and Evening photos - with the help of Lee, Jayne, Becky and others....)

So here's my Best Shot of the week. It certainly was the photo I worked on the most!
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POTD - Ghost Spider [all boy]

Our neighbor's boys found this cool ghost spider hanging out around their playset today.

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Henry tries to pick it up with a stick (so I could get a better picture of it - he's such a sweet boy!)

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175/365 - The Boys of Summer

But I can see you-
Your brown skin shinin' in the sun
You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby
And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone


One of my favorite songs from the 80s - it brings me back to the summer of 1984, the summer before my senior year in HS. Fitting for the first day of summer, 25 years later (wow, I really feel old now).

Now we have a new set of "Boys of Summer" - my boy and his friends, hanging out, playing, doing whatever young boys do these hot, lazy days of summer:
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What are your favorite summer songs and summer activities?

And Happy Father's Day!

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Of Morning and Evening

The first thing I noticed this morning, just outside the sliding door to the backyard:
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The glow of the setting sun, reflected in the patio tabletop, Wednesday evening:
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The best times of the day - morning full of promise, the evening calm.

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174/365 - The Gift of Flowers

I'm not normally a fan of giving / receiving cut flowers, but Erica enjoys them so much that she has slowly converted me. I used to think they were a waste of money until I realized how they brighten up a room and bring a smile to my face. Especially if the flower is one I truly enjoy. Some of my favorites? The Tulip, The Lilac, The Peony, The highly fragrant Oriental Lily, just to name a few.

I think I have another new favorite - the Gerbera Daisy. I have seen them popping up at the nursery and the grocery's floral department. Erica found a picture on the internet and set it up as our PC's wallpaper. Apparently, she likes them too.

So it was fitting that Erica should receive a trio of Gerbera daisies as a birthday gift from Kathleen's mom. Kathleen's sister, Melanie insisted on the daisies - she thinks they're special, too.

They delivered the flowers yesterday and I have been taking pictures. Those big blooms with the gorgeous centers. So much to love!

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Even from behind:
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POTD - Legos [all boy]

Brian is always creating new things with his legos. He has at least a gazillion of them, so I am always glad to see what new thing he has created.

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And since he has a gazillion legos, why does he always ask for more every time we go to the store?

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POTD - What was Brian Doing? [all boy]

I stumbled upon this in the living room today:
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That's our Harry Potter themed letter opener (aka a makeshift sword) stabbed into a shipping box. The white object is a packing peanut.

Was the box threatening him? Was he pretending it was the enemy and needed to be stabbed? Who knows - I only know this completely bears his trademark.

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173/365 - Living Dangerously

BTW, if you are looking for 172/365, you'll have to go to my Behind the Lens Blog as yesterday's picture fit the POTD weekly theme of [all boy].

The big news story of the day - Nestle recalls their refrigerated cookie dough due to possible salmonella! When I saw the headline, I thought "Egads! How many tubs of that stuff do we have at home?" - I just bought 2 big tubs (5 lbs each) of cookie dough from Sam's Club two weeks ago.

Lucky for us, it was 10 pounds of Pilsbury brand dough.

But, we had a smaller tub of the Nestle brand dough (almost gone). What to do? What to do?

We plopped the dough on the cookie sheet and baked up 12 yummy cookies. Living Dangerously - that's what we're all about here!
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......

I also attended our ladies book club meeting tonight, held at the local wine store / deli / bar / eatery. I enjoyed Pinot noir, cheese and fruit - smoked cheddar and white stilton with mango.

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We read and discussed "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins - highly enjoyed and recommended by our group. And if you have a 12 year old or older, they will probably enjoy it, too.

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172/365 - Peace Out [all boy]

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That's my Scott, goofing off at tonight's championship baseball game between the Mud Hens and our Cyclones. And while the 'clones' played a strong game, they fell just short and lost the game, 5-4. Still, we are so proud of our little team and how they improved over the season.

If you look carefully, you can see that Scott is reading "Eclipse" from the Twilight Series. OK, so maybe THAT doesn't fit the theme of [all boy].

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POTD - Baseball Wrap [all boy]

The picture fits this week's theme of [all boy], as there are all boys on Brian's team right now. Their sole girl, Brittney, is out the rest of the season on vacation.

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The Cyclones won their semi-final tournament game (sounds impressive, but with only 5 teams in their league, there were only 4 teams in the tournament to begin with) and will play tomorrow night in the Finals! Brian is clearly pumped about this tournament thing, spending more time practicing his fielding.

The score board. This thing hasn't worked all season long. So we feel special that they fired it up for the last week of the season.

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171/365 - At the Stable

Wednesday means horse riding.

We hoped Erica's class would ride outside today, but with the hot, humid weather, it was more comfortable in the indoor arena. I also hoped to get a shot of Erica riding, but cameras are not allowed inside the arena. This is the best I could do today, one of the horse themed wind vanes on the barn.

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170/365 - On the Fringe

Of official teenage-dom.

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It's Erica's 12th birthday today. I can't believe this time next year, she will be a teenager (and worse, I'll take on the role of Mom of a teenager).

We had a low key day - Erica's BFF, Kathleen, slept over last night and they both stayed home, sleeping in late, hanging out, relaxing and whatever 12-13 year olds "do" during the summer.

Brian had a baseball tournament game this evening (they won!) and after the game Erica chose Chinese takeout as dinner.

Of course, we finished the day with birthday cake.
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Happy Birthday Erica!

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Elegant Dining [travel flashback]

Note - I originally wrote this as part of my January 2008 trip to the UK, but after I finished it, I thought it sounded pretentious, and I never published it.

Now, 18 months later, I went back into my MSWord Blog archives in search of the restaurant's name, as one of our neighbors will be in London next week and asked for suggestions on where to eat.

After re-reading it, I decided that recounting my experience of enjoying an expensive meal does not make me pretentious. So I am publishing it today, along with a picture of the elegant dining room I found online. And if you are ever in London and want to spend a good 3 hours at a fabulous meal, be sure to check out Rhodes W1 - The Restaurant


Friday, January 28, 2008 - London, UK


Let’s face it – one of the perks of traveling on business trips is the opportunity to experience dining without the normal constraints of everyday life - ie, eating well on someone else’s dime. My general philosophy – NEVER eat dinner at a restaurant you can dine at while at home. And traveling to large, cosmopolitan destinations provides better access to fine (and pretentious) dining. Now, not everyone shares my love of being a food snob, but I am traveling with Anthony who definitely has that food snob tendencies.

For our last work related dinner on Thursday, Anthony picked out the restaurant, Rhodes W1. It was an excellent choice – I later on learned that the restaurant received a Michelin star Thursday afternoon. The only error made perhaps was the timing of our reservation – 7:30 was a wee bit early, and as we were brought into the elegant dining room, I felt somewhat under-dressed (the only other party was this very well dressed couple, obviously there for some romantic dinner) and conspicuous. Eventually, for me, that feeling evaporated as we were presented with the best fancy setting meal I have had in years. So, Rhodes W1 comes highly recommended – just bring your wallet!

It was a nice way to wrap up my travels and work with Anthony and Mark and really commenced Anthony’s role in the PCS program we have been involved with over the past five years.
Cheers!

In a week, I'll change the Post to date it properly. Yeah, I'm anal like that.

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169/365 - An Afternoon of Golf

What is the saying? Oh yeah - "A bad day of golf beats a good day at work."
But what about the saying "golf - a walk spoiled"? (I bet we can't say that today since we used carts)
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Our big global budget meeting kicked off today with a friendly golf scramble. Of course, the team with the VP of Operations won. But hey, if he's paying, I'm not complaining.

However, we did play two holes in the rain before we realized driving rain, no umbrellas, getting drenched while trying to get that little ball in to a hole was not worth catching pneumonia. We waited with several other foursomes at the 6th hole shelter. Scott's group, ever prepared with umbrellas simply pressed on in the rain. That's hardcore.

Even with the rain, we enjoyed the round - so there is some truth in that first saying.

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168/365 - Midnight

That's the name of our friend's bunny-on-loan from the 3rd grade classroom.
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Melanie's family is taking care of the cute bunny for the next three weeks, but while they are away at a soccer tournament this weekend, our family has been entrusted with the responsibility of bunny duty.

We learned several things about bunny care:
They eat a lot of food.
They love fresh vegetables and fruit.
Did I mention they eat constantly? (Probably why they pose such destruction in the garden!)

We gave Midnight several handfuls of bunny greens, a bunch of spinach, several apple wedges, a half carrot, two big romaine lettuce leafs and green grass each time we visited. We also allowed him to stretch his legs outside his cage.

But then we had to lure him back in - hence the carrot.
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He's a cutie. But a lot of work. I don't think he would like it at our house, with two cats and all. But fun to take care of over the weekend.

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POTD - Guitar Player [backlit]

Read more about last night's rocking backyard bash on my other blog.

It's uncommon for us to see a live band at night, so when the band is in your next door neighbor's backyard, we all take notice. Then we all enjoy the music and wonder why we don't go out to see live bands more often.

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167/365 - Bob and Jeanne's 50th Birthday Bash

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50 is just a number, not an age.

Our neighbors, Bob and Jeanne celebrated their joint 50th birthdays with an all out bash tonight, complete with a rocking band, dancing, lots of food and drink. The venue - their own back yard, a perfect summer night with friends.

The band, Candy Foster and Shades of Blue
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The young couple and guests of honor:
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Some of our other friends / neighbors:
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Dancing the night away:
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Libations (and there was a keg, too - when was the last time I had beer out of a keg? That would be about 20 years ago in college.....)
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The band (very loud, by the way) played until 11:00pm. We found out the police cruised through our cul-de-sac around 10:30pm, but since Bob and Jeanne had an Event Permit from the city, there was no unwanted visit. Who knew a simple permit would allow you to blare music until midnight on the weekends?
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We all had a great time, and Bob and Jeanne certainly don't seem like they are a pair of 50 year olds!

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