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Tiny Dicks and Journalism Combat Training

Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Dave!President Elect Trump's first press conference since being elected was everything I dreamed it would be.

And everything I feared.

This, my fellow US citizens, is how the end begins.

You may not like the media. You may not agree with how they cover events of the day. You may even consider any journalistic endeavor that doesn't fully support our elected leaders as treasonous. But it doesn't really matter what you think, because the guarantee of a free press is a fundamental building block of this country. Our founders designed it that way.

And while those who have lead this country may not like all aspects of the media, they have tolerated it... even supported it against all rational thought... because they know that's part of the job. They know it's important.

Well, at least they did.

Until now.

Don't think for a second that President Obama wouldn't have liked to tell the asshole brigade at FOX "News" to go fuck themselves ten times a day... any sane person would. But he was a bigger man (and better president) than that, and so he rose above. I may not have always agreed with his politics, but I respect how he put up with the non-stop parade of shit reigned down upon him by the media... yet continued to play the game in the name of Freedom of the Press.

But our President Elect? Not so much.

What a tiny, tiny penis Donald Trump must have to resort to this. At least I'm assuming that's the case. He's got a minuscule little dick, and this is how he wields power to compensate for it. The free press of the United States of America can piss off because our new president has a cocktail wiener for a cock.

CNN reported on the story of an unverified piece claiming the Russians have footage of Trump involved with some fancy piss-play with two hookers. They did not publish the actual unverified document, nor did they publish any details from it which talked about Donald Trump liking golden showers. They merely did their job as journalists and presented current events as they were happening. I may loathe CNN (in general) and Wolf Blitzer (specifically), but they did not publish "fake news" (though I will agree that their organization is terrible).

But President Pussy-Grabber doesn't care about any of that. He apparently feels that the only thing that CNN should ever do in such circumstances is condemn any criticism of Donald Trump. Anything less means that you don't get to ask questions. This is essentially "If you don't kiss my ass, condemn my critics, and support everything I do... I'm dismissing you, restricting your ability to question me, and discrediting your voice."

Which is ironic considering that Trump just compared intelligence agencies releasing "fake news" to Nazi Germany.

Apparently he is unaware of the fact that a big part of how the Nazi's got into power was to control and censor the media. By squeezing out those voices who did not support the Nazi Party and allowing only positive reporting of their actions, it was easier to convince citizens that they were righteous in their acts. Or at least those acts they allowed to be reported on.

And with the Trump presidency, we're half-way there!

Which is kind of embarrassing for a country that won't shut up about their superiority THANKS TO AMERICAN FREEDOM, BABY!

But only half as embarrassing as the fact that we have a president who feels the need to constantly lash out at the press... even when they did nothing wrong... as compensation for his tiny, tiny dick.

Which is nothing to be ashamed of, sir! Plenty of big men have wielded power wisely and respectfully despite their tiny member! No need to go starting World War III over it!

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's nearing midnight and me and my massive penis* need to get some sleep.

   
*I'll provide proof when Donald Trump releases his taxes.

   

It’s a Holiday…

Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2017

Dave!...or something. The reason I know this is that there was nobody at work when I showed up.

Oh well. Seems as good as time as any to say don't forget to wipe.


Toilet Paper Roll

   

   

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Sony a9

Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Dave!Photography is a hobby I absolutely love... but rarely have time to pursue.

Indeed, it seems the only time I get to delve into serious photography is when I'm on vacation. The rest of the time I'm shooting stuff with my iPhone because it's always on me and oh so handy. The iPhone also produces fairly good images, which makes it infinitely more appealing for snapshots than having to drag the Sony a7S Mark II out of my camera bag.

I mean, seriously... this was shot years ago with my iPhone 4...

Wenatchee River Fall Colors

Yes, you read that right... an iPhone 4. Which can't even touch what images you can get out of the iPhone 7s that's out right now.

And, yet... I'm not going to get shots like this from an iPhone...

Hwange Giraffe

Which is why I continue to invest in camera gear. Sure it sits in my closet most of the year, but those times I actually get to shoot with it? Magic.

Because I mostly only shoot on vacation, it's my travels that drive my photography purchases. I know I'm going to be shooting scenery in Vietnam, so I buy a new lens for that. I know I'm going to be going on safari night-drives in Zimbabwe, so I buy a new camera body for that. And so on. And so on.

Photography is an expensive hobby to have.

And today Sony announced the next evolution in their professional mirrorless camera line... the a9...

Needless to say, I'm in love.

Not only does the a9 have some astounding new features that I'll actually use... it also addresses some of the shortcomings of the a7 models that were so frustrating. Like dual media slots. And touch-screen operation. And a LAN port with FTP. And a battery that's worth a shit.

And while I rarely shoot video, the 4K footage (down sampled from 6K!) is pretty amazing...

It's pretty much a dream camera... though I'm sure they'll be coming out with an a9S sometime down the line that will add even more honey to the pot.

There are two problems, however.

First of all, Sony's lack of longer lenses makes the sport and wildlife features kind of moot. Yes, they're going to release a G-series 100-400mm for $2,500 in July... and that will definitely help... but that's all there is. That's the most reach you'll get out of Sony. Sure you can add a $550 extender to double that, but it's a less than ideal scenario for serious sport and wildlife shooters. Not a deal-breaker from my shooting perspective, but until the big glass arrives, the market for the true potential of the a9's capabilities is waiting.

A far bigger problem for me, however is the price.

All $4,500 of it.

Now, don't get me wrong, the specs on this beast of a camera are better than what you can get out of cameras from Canon and Nikon that are far more expensive. I absolutely acknowledge that. But $4,500 for something I'm not going to use very often is a tough thing to justify.

And yet...

I think back to many of the trips I've taken, and I would have killed for this camera. I think forward to the Antarctica trip I'm going to be taking in December, and I know the a9 coupled with the 100-400mm lens would be put to very good use. Heck, in many ways, it's the best possible camera I could take. And given all the money I've had to scrimp and save to even get to Antarctica, isn't that worth the investment?

I dunno.

Maybe I rent one. Or buy the camera and rent the lens. And then sell the camera when I get back if I find I'm not using it as much as I'd like. There are options. All of them expensive.

But maybe.

I guess we'll see how broke I am by the time I've finished paying for my upcoming vacation.

   

RANDOM COW WEDNESDAY!

Posted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Dave!This will all make sense tomorrow.

Maybe.


Random Cow on Wednesday

   
Okay... probably not. But still... it's a random cow. That's pretty cool, right?

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Money, and What I Did With It

Posted on Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Dave!Thanks to some unexpected cash that came into my life last couple months, I was able to pay off a bill, buy new socks, up my monthly donation to Doctors Without Borders, make some donations for animal rescue efforts in hurricane-ravaged Houston... and pay for another batch of old photos to be scanned. The last time I could afford to do this was five years ago, so it was a nice to be able to treat myself to something senselessly expensive and cool like this.

All of the photos I have left for scanning are photo negatives, so I don't really review anything. I just send them in and hope for the best.

This batch ended up being pretty special.

There were photos of my parent's wedding I hadn't seen before. Amazing photos of my mom when she was very young. Fascinating photos of my grandparent's life from a bygone era. And, of course, lots of photos of me and my brother growing up.

Also interesting? A trip to San Francisco by my mom's parents to visit my parents, assumably just before I was born in 1965(?)...

San Francisco circa 1965: Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco circa 1965: Lombard Street

San Francisco circa 1965: Cable Car

San Francisco circa 1965: Chinatown

   
One trend I noticed was oodles and oodles of plaid. My brother and I were drenched in it for half a decade...

Death by Plaid

   
Another photo trend was me on vehicles.

How many people can say that their first car WAS A FIRE TRUCK?!? ME! I CAN TOTALLY SAY THAT! Just look at me! All chill as fuck while cruising down the sidewalk in my sweet ride! Acting like I don't care and all the world is my bitch. SO BAD-ASS!

Lil' Dave in his fire truck

Holy shit! My second car was a Corvette... WITH WORKING HORN!

Lil' Dave in his Corvette

Here's where things started going downhill. Apparently my third car was a wagon...

Lil' Dave in his wagon

   

There are hundreds more photos waiting for me to look through them, so I'm sure "Throwback Thursday" will be a trend for a while here. Or not. Guess it depends how boring my life is next week.

   

Awash in Everything Yellow

Posted on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Dave!On Saturday I went in to work and was amazed at how beautiful the leaves were as I made my way down the street. I was so enchanted that I pulled over to take a photo... only to find out that my phone was dead. The next day I forgot my phone. Then yesterday I didn't go into the office.

Today I finally remembered... even though it's not nearly as pretty now that half the leaves have fallen off...

XXX

Now I am bummed that I didn't charge my phone a bit then immediately go back for a photo on Saturday. A beautiful moment that now only exists in my memories.

Speaking of memories... soon enough, THIS is what the same street will look like...

XXX

   
=shudder=

   

   

Old Photos Week Day One: The Burial Ground

Posted on Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

My current home is four doors down from the home I grew up in as a kid. That home was built in 1972 and we moved in immediately after it had been completed. As I mentioned last week, it was the first time I had my own bedroom, so it was my Shangri-La for the dozen years I lived there.

Since the home was brand new, we were starting from scratch on everything. Including the yard. This photo is of my brother "helping" to plant grass in the front of the house...

Old Homestead Hauntings

Interesting to note that the garage walls are unfinished. It's interesting because I don't think we ever bothered to finish them! They looked exactly like this the whole time we were living there.

This, however, is far from the most interesting thing about my old homestead.

That would be the fact that it was built on a Native American burial ground.

This photo of the back yard was taken after at least a year living at our new home. The grass is filling in and (though you can't see it very well) my brother and I are standing next to a tree that has just been planted...

Old Homestead Hauntings

Eventually, my parents decided to add an addition to the back of the house so we'd have a larger living room. In order to build it, they had to dig up the back yard to pour a new foundation. As they were digging they ran across some bones. Then some more bones. Then still more bones.

They were human skeletons and our home turned out to be built on a Native American burial ground.

This was confirmed when archeologists excavated our back yard. We made the local papers and people were flying in to study the graves because they were intact and so well preserved.

Local tribes were consulted to find out what to do, and they requested that we relocate the remains to another part of the property. Which we did. My dad terraced the hillside behind us and we re-buried them there.

Somewhere, I know there are photos of the excavation. Hopefully I will run across them one of these days.

   

Old Photos Week Day Two: Cats of the Wild

Posted on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

My mom's mother (my grandmother) did not like cats. Not even a little bit. I heard her mention it several times over the years. I don't know why, really... I always thought that maybe she didn't like all pets, but apparently she was okay with dogs. So no clue. Unless she was tired of running into their covered poop when weeding the vegetable garden perhaps? One of the many, many things I wished I had asked her about while she was alive.

And yet...

There are quite a few photos of cats hanging around in old photos of my mom when she was little. My first guess was that they were wild cats that lived in the area, but then I see photos of my mom holding them. That doesn't seem likely if they were truly wild, so I'm not quite sure what the story is there. Maybe they were pets, but they had to live outside. I'm guessing my grandparents had a barn, so maybe they were barn cats who kept the mice in check?

One of my favorite pictures is this one of toddler mom with a furry friend. I am assuming that this was taken at her home, because the series has no other people except mom, grandma, grandpa, and mom's brother...

Toddler mom has a cat!

This photo brings up another mystery... what's with the playing card in the dirt there?

Cat invades photo!

Because my grandmother didn't like cats and would undoubtedly have shooed them away if she was trying to take a photo, I'm guessing this one was taken by my grandfather. Looks like a cat walked in-frame and plopped down to lick its butt while grandpa was taking a picture of mom and her brother...

Cat invades photo!

My mom seems to like cats (she was a huge fan of Spanky), so I guess hating cats is not genetic.

When my final scans arrive, I'll probably print my favorite photos of toddler mom with cats to add to the collage in my stairway. It's nice to have two of my favorite things in a single photo.

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Old Photos Week Day Three: Boating Memories

Posted on Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

It's weird what our brains choose to latch onto.

I don't have a lot of vivid memories of my childhood, but there are some memories that have left an impression. For example... I remember being in our garage when I was very young and we had just moved somewhere in California. The neighbor kids were over and we were looking for the boxes that had my toys in them. I couldn't yet read, but one of the girls that lived nearby could, and kept reading off the boxes... "Summer"... "Summer"... "Summer"... "These all say Summer!" It wasn't until years later (high school maybe?) that I was able to revisit that memory and figure out that the boxes didn't all say "Summer"... they said "Simmer." No idea why such a mundane memory is stuck in my head, but I can "see" all of it. There were four kids total in the garage. The boxes were stacked up against a wall. I can picture it in pretty good detail.

Another memory that's stuck in my brain is a trip to Lake Chelan when I was a kid. There were many, many trips to "The Lake" when I was young, all of which have faded from memory... except this one particular trip hasn't. What I remember vividly is a tiny dead fish that washed up on shore. I can see it as clearly as if I saw it yesterday. My brother and I had been building "boats" out of inner-tubes and water mattresses when BLAM! dead fish.

So you can imagine my surprise when I ran across these two photos in the last batch of negatives I had scanned. Everything is exactly as I remember it...

InnertubeRafting!

InnertubeRafting!

That "boat" obviously wasn't a very good one if my brother had to bail water out of it, but oh well.

I can't be positive that these images are from the dead fish trip... perhaps we built mattress boats on other trips... but something in my gut tells me this is the one. In that second photo, just out of frame, there is a dead fish lapping on the shore.

How it died we can only speculate...

   

Old Photos Week Day Four: Skeleton Crew

Posted on Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

When I was a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday by a long shot. My family went all out, and the mountain of presents under the Christmas tree was always one of the highlights of my year.

As an adult, my favorite holiday is Halloween.

Not so much for the dressing up, but because I love the whole atmosphere that goes with it. It's good, wholesome, spooky fun! And sometimes it's fun to dress up too.

In looking through the last batch of photos, I ran across some images of me wearing one of those cheap-ass Collegeville costumes that came in a window box you could pick up for $1.50 back in the day. You'd get a jumper with some kind of print on it that was sewn so poorly it would barely last the night, plus a matching mask made out of plastic so thin that it would crack and split just by breathing in it...

Davy at Halloween
Photo found on Etsy

   
Saf-T-C eye holes and flame retarded! Doesn't get much better than that!

Still, a lot of those old cheap costumes are a heck of a lot scarier than the ones you can buy today! Take, for example, the skeleton costume I am wearing in these creepy-ass photos...

Davy at Halloween

Davy at Halloween

Though what's truly scary is the bruise I've got on my face underneath the mask!

Davy at Halloween

I'm guessing I got it fighting a bear or something.

Hope you Halloween is extra-ghoulish this year!

   

Old Photos Week Day Five: Mom

Posted on Friday, October 27th, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

Of all the old film I've had scanned over the years, the photos that fascinate me most are those of my mom when she was little. It was a very different time back then, and seeing how her and my grandparents lived is one of those things that I can't get enough of...

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

Each generation grows up in very different times than the generation before it. My mind boggles when thinking of the world that future generations will be raised in.

Although if global tension keeps escalating, it could be that future generations will live through times more similar to my mother's than mine.

   

Bass Harbor Head Light

Posted on Friday, November 17th, 2017

Dave!My work, which was supposed to start on Saturday was moved to Tuesday. So much for trying to catch an early flight home. Which is actually not such a terrible thing, because it gave me a chance to check another U.S. National Park off my list... Acadia*.

I wasn't able to leave Portland until 11:00am so I didn't make it to Bar Harbor until 2:00pm... three hours later. It's a boring but easy drive that goes by in a 70mph blur. Once I got to the park and checked into my super-cheap lodging (it is off-off season here now, so everything is either closed or cheap) I only had two hours of daylight left so I made a run for the Bass Harbor Head Light (or "lighthouse" to non-natives).

So far as lighthouses go, it's not a very impressive one. But it's at a killer location.

I decided to bypass the lighthouse keeper's quarters and head down to the shore before the sun set. A very rocky beach is not something you want to be navigating in the dark...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

I passed this poor tree which has seen better days. He fell over and cracked in two over another equally unlucky tree...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

The area is kind of like a real-life game of Myst, with cool wooden stairs leading down the cliffside...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

Good thing I wore my hiking boots. The rocks would be a lot tougher to climb over in tennis shoes. That being said, they sure are some beautiful rocks with the fading sun kissing them...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

On the right-hand side there you can spot a buoy bobbing in the water. It has a bell on it that dings softly as the wind blows. This adds a kind of nice atmosphere to the whole scene.

And then there she is... the Bass Harbor Head Light...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

After goofing around the rocks for a while, I made my way back up and around the keeper's quarters to get up close and personal with the actual lighthouse. As I said, it's not particularly impressive, so far as Maine lighthouses go...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

And yet... such a pretty location...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

Unless you need to use the bathroom...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

Pretty high on my bucket list is to come back to Acadia when the leaves are changing. If the trees are this pretty without them, they must be amazing in the Fall...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

The drive back to my hotel was replete with quaint photo opportunities of coastal Maine living. I could only nab one of them before the sun was gone...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

Not bad for my first two hours in the park!

Hopefully the weather tomorrow is as accommodating (and rain-free) as it was for me today.

   

*Acadia which, to my horror, I keep hearing pronounced outside of Maine as "Arrrcadia" for some reason. "Arcadia" was the Duran Duran splinter group. If you want to talk about one of the most beautiful parts of Maine, you have to drop the "R" when you say it.

   

Squirrels, Beaches, Baubles, and Bubbles

Posted on Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Dave!"Hey, you're half-way there!" I said.
"Ugh. Is it worth it?" he replied.
"You get to see a giant rock hanging over the edge of a cliff and a glorious view of Jordan Pond, so I'd say it's worth it." I said, trying to sound enthusiastic.
"Hmph. Okay..." he huffed, as he walked past.

Yesterday I shot everything on "Full Auto" because I was tired. Today I thought I'd get creative and use my own camera settings. It's a decision that would come back to bite me in the ass* but dems da breaks. Still. I did play around with HDR** a bit, so that was fun.

But before we get to all that... first a word about squirrels.

I love the little guys. They're industrious, clever, cute, and move like magic. And they're everywhere in Acadia. I took tons of photos of them all day long, which is easier said than done given how skittish they are and how quickly they move...

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

Needless to say, photographing squirrels through the underbrush is a manual-focus affair.

My first stop this morning was Sand Beach. You know that sand beaches are rare in Maine when they are inevitably called "Sand Beach." Sure enough, as advertised, there's sand...

Sand Beach!

From shortly after Sand Beach there's a trail that wanders along the coast for two miles. I did a walk-drive kind of thing. Sure the rocky coast is pretty, but it looks much the same as the rest of Maine's coast, which I've seen a lot of. Occasionally there's a a small difference. Like a seagull wandering into the shot...

Acadia Coast Trail!

Another thing that was different? Something... I don't know what to call it. I was wandering along the rocks when I spotted what I thought was a tiara or some kind of jewelry bauble glinting in the sun...

Pearl Ice!

Turns out it was ice. Weird ice that had somehow formed to look like pearls! Crazy stuff I've never seen before...

Pearl Ice!

Another animal (other than squirrels) there's a lot of in Acadia right now? Deer. I know this because they kept bolting in front of my rental car. Not just once, but three times. I was driving 35mph (the speed limit) which is probably too fast given that these creatures would have had to have been scraped off my grill if my reflexes were any slower...

Deer!

My next stop was Jordan Pond. It's home of the Jordan Pond Restaurant, which is famous for popovers that are apparently more addictive than cocaine. I wouldn't know, because the restaurant was closed for the season (like most things in Acadia just now). The pond, however, was open...

Jordan Pond!

Jordan Pond is so pure and clear that it's used as a drinking water source. Which means you can't swim in it or have pets near it. The sun was not at an optimal angle for me to photograph the clarity, but I gave it my best shot...

Jordan Pond Clear Water!

Jordan Pond Clear Water!

An interesting feature of Jordan Pond is the sea-foam (pond-foam?) that had frozen at the water's edge...

Jordan Pond Frozen Foam!

Jordan Pond Frozen Foam!

After goofing around at the pond photographing a lot of squirrels, I headed to the Big Event of the day... a hike up the Bubble Mountains.

If you scroll back up to the first photo of Jordan Pond I posted, you'll see two twin "mountains" in the background. Those are the "Bubble Mountains" and are easily hike-able. The trail is tricky in parts and has a bit of a rise, but pretty simple overall. The trees along the way had lost all their leaves but were still pretty to look at. I can't fathom how beautiful they must be in the Fall...

Bubble Trail!

The trail itself was interesting for two reasons. First, water forms around the rocks embedded in the trail, which then freezes, expands, pushes the dirt away, then melts. Leaving all the rocks in little holes...

Bubble Rocks!

Second of all, water also freezes in crystalline shapes all along the trail. You see it everywhere, and it's really cool to look at...

Bubble Trail Ice Crystals!

I decided to hike the "South Bubble Mountain" because it has a feature that's entirely too cool. "Bubble Rock" (also known as "Balanced Rock"). When you cross the crest of the trail, the rock isn't that impressive. Looks kind of like a massive baked potato...

Bubble Rock!

But then you climb around to look at it from a different angle, and it's a different story...

Bubble Rock!

Uh. Wow. Definitely worth setting up an HDR photo so I could shoot into the sun and still see it...

Bubble Rock!

If you keep going past Bubble Rock, there's a great view back down to Jordan Pond. That's where I met the ladies from the blog Love Maine Adventures who were soaking up the view and taking photos. They asked me to take a photo of them with their camera, which I did. Then I decided since I was shooting HDR that I would ask to experiment with them and shoot some "people HDR" photos, which are tricky because everybody has to stand perfectly still. They were nice enough to grant my crazy request and did a great job...

Love Maine Adventures Ladies!

Love Maine Adventures Ladies!

I was going to call it a day because the trail down to the Jordan Pond overlook had CAUTION signs on it. But Love Maine Adventures encouraged me to risk my life and give it a try because they said it really wasn't that dangerous. Turns out they were right, it wasn't. And the view was great...

Jordan Pond Overlook Trail!

Jordan Pond Overlook Trail!

Jordan Pond Overlook!

As I headed back down the mountain, I took once last look at Bubble Rock as I passed... and saw something strange. Right beneath the rock was my rental car all the way down in the parking lot! If you scroll back up to the second Bubble Rock photo I posted, you can actually see it there... I just hadn't noticed! Here's that same photo, but zoomed in...

My car from Bubble Rock!

When I got back down to my car, I looked back up and took a reverse-angle shot. You can just make out Bubble Rock through the trees. It's smack-dab in the middle of this shot...

Bubble Rock from my car!

Curious to see if I could see Bubble Rock around the trees, I hopped in my car to backtrack so I could take a look. Sure enough, when I zoom in on maximum...

Bubble Rock from the bottom!

And, hey... if you zoom in even further, there's people there!

Bubble Rock People!

And thus ended my second day in Acadia. Time for a nap!

   

*The last time I used my camera, it was so I could photograph the eclipse back in August. In order to do that, I had to cover the lens with a piece of plastic that blocks out much of the light, then shoot at an ISO of 64,000. In a rookie mistake, I never reset my camera, and I didn't notice until I was half-way through my adventures today. Luckily, I shot some of the photos on "Full Auto," because a nice chunk of the photos from today where I tried to get creative were ruined because they were shot at grainy 64,000 ISO. Keep that in mind as you pour through all the photos in this entry. There could have been a lot more of them!

**High Dynamic Range... a photo technique where you blend photos together so that bits that are too dark and bits that are too light are evened out. I talked about it here.

   

Up the Down to East the West

Posted on Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Dave!Since this was a work trip and my work is indoors, I didn't really equip myself for outdoor adventures. So when I woke up to pouring rain and realized neither my jacket nor my hoodie were waterproof, hiking in Acadia had to be scrapped and I needed new plans for my Sunday.

I didn't want to stay in my room all day so I decided to drive somewhere interesting. But where? Someplace far away so most of my time would be in a dry car instead of the wet outdoors. At first I thought I'd head inland in hopes of better weather. But the weather service said it was raining there as well. Bar Harbor is the furthest north I've been in Maine... so maybe up the coast? I decided to Google the area, which is known collectively as "Down-East" (or "Downeast") to see what's there.

And that's when I saw it.

Two hours and twenty-one minutes north of here is the USA's easternmost point... West Quoddy Head Light (lighthouse). I've already been to the southernmost point of the Continental USA in Key West, Florida, so why not?

I decided to head UP* the DOWNeast to go to the EASTern most point in WEST Quoddy.

That's more than a little confusing, but okay. Off I went. The drive isn't that bad, but the gusting wind and driving rain meant it was slow-going. And when I finally got to West Quoddy Head Light? I don't know what "gale force winds" means**, but this is probably what they are talking about. There were times I was almost blown over while trying to walk it was so bad. The rain was relentless, which meant I had to seek cover to wipe off my camera lens ever 60 seconds. Plus? The sun was blotted out, so it was dark.

All in all? Probably not the greatest idea I've ever had, but I made it. Achievement unlocked. Apologies for the blurry photos but... rain and all that...

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse

In case there was any doubt as to your standing in the easternmost point in the USA, they have a gravestone(?!) to make it official...

West Quoddy Head Light Easternmost Point

Interesting to note that the door to the lighthouse was open. I thought that maybe somebody was working there so I was going to shout "Hello?" but decided it'd be best not to scare anybody if they were up there. Which seemed doubtful because mine was the only car around. One thing was for sure... I was not going to go climbing up for a look when the lighthouse tower is not open to the public. Something tells me that's an invitation to getting shot...

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse

I tried to photograph the ocean, which was not looking friendly at all, but the wind kept knocking me off balance. Only one photo really turned out (rain splotches and all). Alas it's not that interesting to look at...

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse Ocean

With nothing else to do, I got back in my car and headed back down (up?) to Acadia. Guess my day was over.

My room back in Bar Harbor overlooks a brook. A brook where ducks like to hang out at all hours. For the most part they're quiet, but every once in a while a fight will erupt and much quacking will ensue. When I got back, there were far more ducks than usual with far more quacking going on...

Ducks!

Ducks!

Ducks!

Annnnnd... the end.

I suppose now I should plan a trip to Northwest Angle, Minnesota so I can check off the Contintental US northernmost point. Then I need to take a hike to Cape Alava in my home state of Washington so I can check off the Continental US westernmost point. It seems the completist thing to do, doesn't it?

   

*People in Maine would never say they were going "up the coast" like this. To them, up is down because Downeast is up. I found this out when people at my work kept saying things like "You came down from Boston today or yesterday?" and "When are you headed back up to Boston?"

**Turns out these were probably not "gale force winds" after all because Wikipedia says that a "gale" is 39 to 54 mile-per-hour winds. Well, whatever. They were very strong winds, that's for sure.

   

Cadillac Thunder Boulder Bridge

Posted on Monday, November 20th, 2017

Dave!Today I was going to sleep in and get some work done before heading South to my job-site. But when the heavy rains blew my schedule apart yesterday, I had to move all the things I had planned for then to today. Everything worked out pretty great though, because the weather was beautiful.

My day started with a 5:30 wakeup and a drive up Cadillac Mountain. Six months out of the year (including this month) this is the place which sees the first rays of run in the whole USA. And so, if you're in the USA... there's a pretty good chance I saw the sunrise before you did!

The park has been surprisingly vacant since I got here. I rarely see other people. But there was quite a crowd for the sunrise show... 25... maybe 30 people. And here's the bizarre part. Many of them... at least half... left the minute the clouds started to glow like this...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

Now, granted, it was bitter, freezing, awful cold up there. I was numb from my head to my toes despite wearing two shirts, a hoodie, and a winter jacket. It was so bad that I couldn't even feel my fingers after ten minutes.

And yet... what's the point in getting up early and driving up a mountain to see the sunrise if you don't wait for the sun to actually... uhhh... rise? That's when the good stuff starts to happen. We had cool clouds that obscured the sun nicely, so the sky was changing from minute to minute as the sun made its journey. Here we are as the clouds start to catch on fire...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

And here we are when the sun had finally hit the sky. Amazing. But most people missed it, because there were only about four people around me by this point...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

SOLAR-FUN-TIME-SUPER-SUN-ZOOM-CAM IMAGE...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

As if that wasn't enough awesomeness, the islands off-shore looked fantastic as they all lit up with the rising sun...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

And yet... by this point, there was only me and one other person to see it. What a shame.

After driving back down Cadillac Mountain, I headed to Schooner Head Overlook. There is a cool feature called "Anemone Cave" down below, but it's a sea cave and can only be accessed at low tide. Since that was at 5:30am this morning, and it was already 8:00 by the time I arrived, that experience was not meant to be. But I did get to see some cool (and, assumably, very expensive) houses. The one of the right is almost invisible because it looks like rocks...

Schooner Head Overlook Acadia

A quick drive later and I was at "Thunder Hole." This is a really cool coastal feature that is more impressive the less close you get to it.

Let me explain...

There's a narrow inlet in the rocks where waves crash in, causing a huge plume of water and a crashing noise that sounds like thunder. Apparently, the plume can go up to 40-feet high. But, at that volume of water, the park closes off access so you have to watch (and listen) from afar. They close off access in four stages depending on how much water is heading in. When I visited, stage one was closed off, so I had to watch from up at stage two...

Thunder Hole Acadia

Alas, stage two doesn't sound a lot like thunder... but it's still fun to look at...

Thunder Hole Acadia

Thunder Hole Acadia

My last stop within Acadia National Park was "Boulder Beach."

I actually tried to find it when I was here on Saturday, but couldn't. Last night I read up on it and found that I just hadn't gone far enough down the path (the lovely, lovely pine-tree path that smells incredible!). You have to keep walking until you spot it from the trail like this...

Boulder Beach Acadia

Now, admittedly, I was a bit disappointed when I saw this. "It's just a bunch of rocks!" I said.

Turns out that to truly appreciate this for the marvel of nature it is, you have to climb down and make your way across the large rocky stones at see it up close and personal.

All the stones have been worn smooth over the eons by the pounding surf, then deposited on the shore...

Boulder Beach Acadia

It's looks like something out of the movie Alien. Smooth egg-shaped stones on both directions...

Boulder Beach Acadia

Boulder Beach Acadia

Many of them are bizarrely smooth and egg-shaped... or even round. Amazing, amazing stuff. And impossible to wrap your head around how many thousands of years it took for them to turn out like this...

Boulder Beach Acadia

Almost as cool as how it looks? How it sounds. Every time the waves recede, the rocks are sucked out with it... then rolled back onto shore. If you turn the volume way up when you watch the movie I recorded below, you can kind of get an idea how awesome it sounds in person. It's very deep... kind of like the thunder I was expecting to hear at Thunder Hole...

And... the end.

The bad news? My time at Acadia National Park had come to a close. The good news is that I get to check off another park from my Big List of National Parks I've Visited! Sixteen down... 43 to go!

After packing up my stuff and checking out of my hotel, I stopped by Somesville on my way off Mount Desert Island. It's home to a pretty wooden bridge that's a popular tourist spot...

The Somesville Bridge in Acadia

The Somesville Bridge in Acadia

The Somesville Bridge in Acadia

   
Now that's really the end because I've got work waiting for me.

   

Bullet Sunday 533

Posted on Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Dave!This may be the last Bullet Sunday you're going to see for a while (depending what my internet is like in Argentina), so indulge yourself in an all new Bullet Sunday, which starts... now...

   
• Save It! I have spoken out a lot on this blog about net neutrality and how crucial it is to the free and open internet we all enjoy. Most Americans agree. Every time killing it is brought up, there's a huge backlash and the FCC backs down. But our current government doesn't give a flying fuck about honoring the wishes of its citizens, nor does it care about selling out the internet and fucking us over. All Trump & Co give a shit about is stripping power and liberty from the people and giving that power to big business so the rich get richer and have more control over our lives. And so... prepare yourself for the end of the internet as we know it. I don't wish harm upon any living thing... but I sincerely hope that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is repaid in spades for the evil he does.

   
• Dogs! Back before I was headed to Africa, I Googled for photography tips and was introduced to Will Burrard-Lucas. He is a nature photographer unlike any other, and the shots he gets are mind-blowing. Getting to actually meet him on my upcoming photographic expedition will be a real honor. One of his most recent posts was of African wild dogs photographed in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. It's incredible...

African Wild Dogs by Will Burrard-Lucas

I was beyond lucky that I got to see these dogs in the wild when I was in Zimbabwe. My driver told me that his previous charges were a documentary film crew that searched for these beautiful pups for two weeks and didn't get to see a single one of them.

   
• Save It! Hey FOX "News"... stuff gets distorted on a curved reflective surface... YOU UNBELIEVABLE FUCKING PIECES OF IGNORANT SHIT!!! Fuck you sideways forever for propagating this bullshit...

FOX News says you be the judge as to whether or not the moon landing was faked... fucking asshole dipshits.

There are people saying that this is "conclusive proof" that we never went to the moon because it's not just an astronaut's reflection in the curved surface of a helmet... it's a stagehand on the "set" from when it was being faked here on earth. Just when I think that FOX "News" couldn't possibly be a bigger pile of shit, here it is. No wonder people who trust FOX "News" and use it as their only source are as stupid as a box of fucking rocks.

   
• 73! Vogue's 73 Questions videos are some of my favorite things on YouTube. Yes, it's staged and rehearsed, but you do get to know some nifty facts about interesting famous people. My hands-down favorite is Lupita Nyong'o...

And today I found out that Aziz Ansari has one!

And, of course, you can't watch the Vogue 73 Question videos unless you bask in the glory that is Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour...

   
• Vera! I wouldn't watch Touched by an Angel... but Della Reese will always be "Vera" from Harlem Nights to me. I love that character as much as I could possibly love any movie character, and it was ALL thanks to Della...



Rest in Peace, Miss Reese... you will be missed.

   
• Crisis! Holy crap...

I'm more excited for this than I am to see Justice League. For the hundredth time... put the people in charge of the TV DC Universe in charge of the Cinematic DC Universe! The mind boggles at the possibility of what they could do with a big-screen budget given the amazing stuff they come up with for television every week.

   
• Family Values! It's like fucking clockwork. Some asshole is always getting caught with his dick in a place he tells OTHER PEOPLE they can't put their dick into. Any time I see some rabid homophobe ranting against homosexuality, I just assume it's because they're overcompensating. 90% of the time, it's true. Case in point... "State legislator Wes Goodman (Republican, obviously) has resigned after admitting he was busted having sex with a man in his office. The married conservative Ohio state lawmaker was known for his anti-LGBTQ stances." Because of course he was. Aren't they always? Hypocritical bullshit like this is getting so very tired.

   
• Quo! And, lastly, I leave you with the hellish buttfuckery that's become our status quo...

   
Time to start packing...

   

Day Two: Buenos Aires

Posted on Friday, December 1st, 2017

Dave!So here I am for a single day in Buenos Aires... what to do, what to do, what to do?

After surviving an insane taxi ride into the city, my soon-to-be-cabinmate and I decided to walk around the neighborhood while we waited for our hotel room to be ready.

Coincidentally enough... La Recoleta Cemetery, which happens to be one of the biggest attractions in the city, is directly across from the hotel.

The reason it's famous is not only because it's eclectic and beautiful... but a lot of famous Argentinian people are buried there. Like Evita herself, Eva Perón (the real version, not the Madonna version). And, sure enough, there she was...

Eva Peron Gravesite

Eva Peron Gravesite

The cemetery itself is quite large (spanning several city blocks) and, as I said, is eclectic. A variety of architectural styles fill the place and something gothic and ornate can sit right next door to something stark and modern. You could spend a day wandering around the place. We breezed through in about an hour...

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Found a pretty cemetery cat...

Recoleta Cemetery Cat

Then it was time for a walk around the corner to Hard Rock Cafe No. 167 for me...

Hard Rock Cafe Buenos Aires

Hard Rock Cafe Buenos Aires

Before we knew it, 2:00 had rolled around and the hotel was ready to receive us. And I wasn't kidding about the cemetery being right across the street... as this view from our balcony will attest...

La Recoleta Cemetery View
To see a more detailed view, click on the image to embiggen.

Recoleta Cemetery View

When the dinner hour arrived, we opted to take the hotel desk advice and eat Argentinian empanadas at a local restaurant. I opted for cheese and onion and corn and onion, both of which were delicious...

Empanadas Buenos Aires

Wish I could say the same for our dinner companion, which was right above my head...

Empanadas Companion Buenos Aires

And that's pretty much the extent of my day in Buenos Aires. Which isn't a lot, but probably to be expected after traveling for the better part of 20 hours on no sleep.

   

Day Three: Ushuaia

Posted on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Dave!It's pronounced "OOO-SHY-YA"... but not really. There's a subtle accent thing going on somewhere in there which the locals make sound prettier than that.

As to what it is? At 54°56′ South longitude, it's the Southmost city I'll probably ever visit, that's for sure. Further south than Johannesburg in South Africa... even quite a bit further south than Sydney, Australia...

World Map Ushuaia

Flying in amongst the jagged mountain peaks as you land, you can't help but think "Oh, man... I hope that the pilot brakes in time so we don't accidentally go scooting off the end of the world...

World Map Ushuaia

The city itself is small, as you'd expect... but, at the same time, it's also much larger than the tiny village I was picturing in my head. I mean, it's big enough to have a Hard Rock Cafe (bringing my total Hard Rocks visited to 169)...

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

It's a fairly recent property, so it's one of the newer "hipster lounge style" cafes (which I hate) but at least they tried to work in more memorabilia than some of the latest Hard Rocks...

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

The surrounding mountains make the city a pretty one, and there's two jagged peaks in particular that keep popping up when you look eastward from anywhere in town...

Ushuaia Peaks

Ushuaia Peaks

The skies, as you see, are a deep blue. The local church in town decided to paint their building to play off the color beautifully...

Ushuaia Peaks

Since the expedition boat to Antarctica leaves on Monday whether you are here or not... whether your luggage is here or not... I decided to play it very safe and arrive two days early (hey, when you're spending this much money to get here and equip yourself, better early than the alternative). This means we have an entire day to fill up tomorrow. And since we've pretty much seen all there is to see in Ushuaia, I guess that means we're heading out into the Tierra del Fuego region of Patagonia. Maybe. It's going to be Sunday, and I have no idea what that means in this part of the world.

   

Day Four: The End of the World

Posted on Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Dave!Because killing an entire day in our hotel room was not an option, last night was spent Googling for things to do in Ushuaia. Four-wheeling around Patagonia seemed like a fun thing to do, but there were no available spots. Then we discovered "Tren del Fin del Mundo" (Train of the End of The World). Originally used to transport prison labor to the countryside to collect timber, it eventually became a tourist attraction that runs into Tierra del Fuego National Park. Not everybody can say they've ridden "the southernmost functioning railway in the world," so plans were made.

We didn't know how many tickets would be available for the limited number of runs that the train makes, so we hired a taxi and got there plenty early. We were, as it turns out, the first ones to arrive at 8:30. You can ride the train one-way or round-trip for 800 pesos "tourist class" or 1400 pesos "First Class." We opted for the latter because the extra $30 US gets you a private compartment with drinks, a croissant sandwich, and souvenirs. Money well-spent...

Train of the End of the World

And when it comes to the Train of the End of the World... you're not just First Class... you're First Class As Fuck. It's engraved right there on your seat...

Train of the End of the World

The train itself is of the narrow-gauge variety, and looks like something you'd ride at Disneyland...

Train of the End of the World

While charming, in its own way, the train ride itself is not overly-spectacular. Other than bragging rights of having ridden the southmost train on the planet, it's kinda slow and boring... despite the narration that tells you about the history of the train as a prison labor transport. On the trip into the park, you do get to stop at La Macarena Station, where you can climb steps up to a small waterfall though...

Train of the End of the World

Train of the End of the World

The main attraction along the way, if you can call it that, is the wild horses that live on the plains of the park. Apparently some of them escaped from local gauchos and started breeding, so now they're everywhere...

Train of the End of the World

Train of the End of the World

Train of the End of the World

The nice thing about us having hired a taxi instead of going on a bus tour is that our driver warned us about the train being a bit boring. So instead of riding it back to the station, we hired him to wait for us at the end and take us further into Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Our first stop was "The Post Office at the End of the World" which sits on Lake Roca. Alas, it was Sunday so the office was closed... no passport stamps or postcards from the southernmost post office... but it was still nifty to look at...

Post Office at the End of The World

Post Office at the End of The World

Post Office at the End of The World

Post Office at the End of The World

Post Office at the End of The World

Our next stop was Lake Acigami, which is so cold, windswept, and choppy that you can't swim in it. All you can really do is look at it...

Lago Acigami

Lago Acigami

The waves off the lake are so strong that they've carved out the area where they reach...

Lago Acigami

Lago Acigami

From there we continued on Route 3 to the literal End of the Road at the End of the World...

End of the Road at the End of the World

If you look at Google Maps, you'll see exactly where the road ends and The End of The World Begins. If you had the time, you could start at the end and drive all the way to the beginning in Alaska, which is 17,848 kilometers (11,090 miles) north...

End of the Road at the End of the World

End of the Road at the End of the World

End of the Road at the End of the World

End of the Road at the End of the World

As you can kinda see in this satellite image, there's a wood-plank pathway that leads out to The End of the World...

End of the Road at the End of the World

There is a large viewing platform where most people walked to, then turned around and walked back to the road. But if you look at the Google Maps satellite image above, you'll see that the large viewing platform is NOT the "End of the Earth"... for that you have to keep walking until you reach a smaller platform...

End of the Road at the End of the World

I won't lie. The view is pretty great, even though our beautiful blue skies were starting to cloud over...

End of the Road at the End of the World

I took a panorama shot of "The End of The World" with my crappy pocket camera... it's cool, but really doesn't do it justice...

End of the Road at the End of the World
Click to embiggen the photo in a new window.

Before heading back into town, our driver wanted us to see two things.

First was a beaver dam. No beavers... just a dam that the parks service keeps around for tourists to look at. The walk to the site is quite nice...

A Beaver Dam!

But the dam area is pretty much gutted...

A Beaver Dam!

A Beaver Dam!

The last thing he wanted us to see was the tiny wild orchids that grow in the area. I'd never seen orchids grow in the wild, so that was actually interesting to me. Turns out they are almost impossible to photograph because the wind is always blowing. I gave it my best shot though, and this is as good as I was able to get...

A Wild Orchid!

And... that was that. Back to Ushuaia we went, where we wait to be whisked away to our expedition orientation dinner.

For tomorrow we set sail...

   

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