The days are definitely getting longer, which is good! I can now start evening dog duty around 5pm, and still have light when I finish. Around mid-December, I was starting at 4pm, and having to use my headlamp before I was finished.

I saw sunbeams streaming through the clouds this afternoon, so I got out the old Nikon and fired off a few exposures. That’s about as high on the horizon as the sun gets during the winter here, so going outside or driving means squinting a lot. I’ve started putting lotion with sunblock on every morning, to combat the effects of squinting, bitter cold, and wind on my face.

Sun Streaks

Sun Streaks 2

7 Random Things

I was tagged by T at Return to Rural for this little meme, where I post 7 weird/random facts about myself that most people may not know.

1. I find it hard to concentrate when there is any exterior noise. For instance, I started this post 8 hours ago, but postponed it until now because Skippy was in the other room talking on the phone. Now everyone else is asleep, so I can concentrate on writing. Exception: reading. I can read through just about anything.

2. I often feel that I could be better at whatever I’m doing, but my laziness/procrastination/etc. self-destructs my attempts to improve myself. I am working on changing this.

3. I am a wannabe science nerd. Since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by biology, space, physics, chemistry…everything. Since I can remember, I’ve also been struggling with the effects of #2 up there, so I’ve never gotten very far with science. I started my college career as biology major, but wasn’t in the mindset for more school at that point, and missed an opportunity to go farther (other paths presented themselves, and here I am, so I’m not mad). On Monday, I’m restarting my science education in earnest, as part of my 10 year plan.

4. Using Microsoft Windows causes me acute, physical pain in my brainal area. It is sort of alleviated by being paid to get it working for other people, but primary, daily use is not going to happen.

5. I bite my fingernails, but if I didn’t tell you, you’d never know just by looking at them.

6. I still occasionally entertain the idea that I could have been a pretty good professional baseball player, if I had adjusted my priorities appropriately in high school. See #2. Of course, my knees tell me a different story these days. Mostly: creak creak crunch OW!

7. Sitting in front of a computer all day has rarely given me a sense of accomplishment, yet it’s where I spend a large portion of time. Sometimes I’m working on a project, like a website or a set of photos or a video, but more often I’m just “looking at stuff” with no coherent goals, or playing video games…usually avoiding some sort of work online (like getting around to doing this list, or finishing up my photography site so people can just download my photos already and pay $ if they want signed prints!) or avoiding some sort of work in meatspace (like cleaning the cat box or doing all those dishes). Part of fixing the problem of #2 and succeeding with #3 will be getting better control over my unpaid, undirected time on the ol’ iMac. Less time slouching slack-jawed while following Wikipedia trails or shooting the Combine, more time on focused learning and/or monetarily beneficial tasks. Slack-jawed slouching has its place, but it doesn’t need to take up as much space as it has been.

Now I’m supposed to tag 7 other blogs, but Skippy already got the ones I read, so..uh…who she said!

Getting stuck

It happened. Drifting snow, a narrow road, and low ground clearance on my car all conspired to get me stuck tonight. Coming up the last leg of our road, I got sucked into a snow bank, which also happened to be the edge of the road. I fell off.

After an hour of digging under my car, I was still stuck. So we backed Skippy’s truck up, tied my car to it, and promptly got her stuck. Fortunately, her big truck has several modes of 4-wheel drive, and she got unstuck pretty quickly.

She succeeded in pulling me out, and I made it the rest of the way up the drive without incident.

This was all in the dark, with the wind gusting at 20mph or so, blowing snow everywhere. It was a lot of fun. I can’t wait until it happens again!

I’m going to have to add a length of static rope to my Alaska Survival Kit in my car, along with my shovel, flares, gravel bucket, and extra jacket.

On top of the world

I took some more star shots tonight. First, a look at the night sky. This is a 30 second exposure, at f/2.8, on ISO 800, at 17mm:

Night Sky

I used my 105mm to get a section of the sky. This one was taken over 4 minutes at f/2.8, ISO 800. I’m amazed at how much the world moves in just 4 minutes!

4 minute blur

Then, I put the wide angle lens on again, and randomly aimed at a set of stars. When the first image was done, I noticed something at the bottom of the image, and decided to try to get another shot. Looking through the viewfinder of a camera at night, and trying to find a particular place in the sky is not easy. And I almost got the shot I was wanting. 17mm, f/2.8, 20 minutes, ISO 200:

Star Central

That is the star that is sitting nearly in line with Earth’s north axis, so it doesn’t move much in the sky as the Earth rotates. Say hello to Polaris, the North Star! It’s kind of vertigo-inducing, like a galactic-scale whirlpool sucking you in, especially at full resolution.

I’d like it more centered, at least on the horizontal, but still pretty cool! I tried to get another shot, but between taking this one and then processing the long exposure noise reduction, my camera was unusable for almost an hour. Clouds had rolled in, and the stars were no longer visible.

Oh well, I have a few more dark nights before the sun is out all the time!