Great Falls with Mom

Parent came to visit us in NoVA after Florida, so I took Mom out for a hike around the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls (Maryland side). With the river swollen from the previous week’s heavy rain, the falls raged higher than I had ever seen them before, and Sec. A of the trail was closed due to flooding. Sec. B was still open, though, and proved just as fun and challenging.

Great Falls (MD)
Potomac River below Great Falls (MD)
Billy Goat Trail Sec. B

We also spotted this rough green snake on the trail during the walk back.

Rough Green Snake

It was great having my parents over for a weekend. Mom’s fitter than I am.

Playalinda and Atlantis


I was in Orlando to meet up with my parents before a convention, but I had a day to myself before they arrived. The first thing I noticed after checking in to an old, threadbare room at the Best Western was that the tap water smelled funny, like sulfurous mud, and I thought as I lay down to sleep: I should get out of Orlando.

Continue reading Playalinda and Atlantis


Dulles Airport (Fisheye)

I was at Dulles for a while that Friday. I had come over early from work to enroll for TSA Precheck, and tried driving in via a back route called “Ariane Way” that skipped the Dulles Access Road and was frequented by airport workers and cargo delivery trucks. A wrong turn somehow trapped me in the taxi lot, where I managed to U-turn into a one way lane right into the headlights of a rental shuttle before finding my way out to the terminal ramp, much to the amusement of the entire Dulles taxi fleet.

Continue reading IAD-MCO


Our Elantra was sadly totaled last month in an accident on Fairfax County Parkway, but fortunately the insurance settlement was enough to pay for most of a new car: a 2014 Ford Fiesta SE sedan.

Ford Fiesta SE (2014) in red

Continue reading Fiesta

Easter of the Lamb Cake

We drove up to New Jersey for Easter, where Amy’s mom had bought and cleaned out an 80 year old cast-iron cake mold in the shape of a lamb to make an Easter Lamb Cake.

Cast iron lamb cake mold Easter Lamb Cake
Lamb Cake Eating the lamb cake

We watched a video of Fr. Ray Kelly, the now-famous Singing Irish Priest:

My brother-in-law Bob introduced us to “Viking Blod”:

Viking Blod

I also played a lot of Goat Simulator:

And on the way back I was moved by the Walt Whitman Center to write some short romantic poetry about the New Jersey Turnpike.

DC Cherry Blossoms 2014

I might have gone a bit overboard using this fisheye lens with the cherry blossoms over the weekend. The blooms were lovely and it was a nice, warm day — though the DC crowds were thicker than I’ve ever seen them, both at the Tidal Basin and at the Washington Monument grove.

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

Also notable was this sighting of a bit of cherry tree sap leaking from one of the boughs:

Cherry Tree Sap

…and a black ant crawling over buds sprouting from a cherry tree’s roots:

Ant on Root Cherry Buds

More photos from this year’s cherry blossoms in the full Flickr photoset: DC Cherry Blossoms 2014 — part of an unbroken series of DC cherry blossom photosets I’ve had going for a decade now.


I recently purchased a used SEL16f28 wide angle lens and VCLECF1 fisheye converter for the Sony NEX3 from Eric Cheng, and gave the combo a try around church and DC last Sunday.

First Baptist DC Fisheye
First Baptist DC Fisheye
White House in Fisheye 3:2

I’ve found the lens combo is also good for macro shots, as evidenced by these pictures of cherry blossoms and cats. (The cats were, of course, the first test subjects for the lenses.) The fisheye isn’t perfect; I’m noticing some blurry distortion and light contrast flare around the vignetted edges — but for my amateur-level needs it’s not too much of a problem.

Martha Cat through Fisheye Lens Amelia Cat through Fisheye Lens
Fisheye Cherry Blossoms

I also discovered that the camera has a 3:2 aspect ratio setting (all this time I’ve had it at 16:9, unaware the widescreen-like format was missing a lot of vertical visual detail). This, plus the panoramic lens angle, makes the combo much better for non-telescopic astrophotography, and should also be nice for cherry blossom season this week. (Although I’ll still want to keep the standard 18-55mm kit lens on hand at all times for when I need optical zoom, and when the novelty of fisheye fades.)

Some Notable Video Art

Tokyo Reverse, a backwards video of a man walking backwards through Tokyo so he appears to be walking forward while the world around him moves in reverse. This preview shows just five minutes of excerpts; the whole piece is 9 hours long. By Simon Bouisson.

“Box,” by Bot and Dolly, explores human interactions with technology through a skillfully choreographed interplay of computer-generated videos projection-mapped onto screens mounted on articulated robot arms.

In Kiyoshi Awazu’s “Burning Piano” (2008), pianist Yosuke Yamashita plays a piano set on fire until he can play no more.

Popularized in part by viral spread and a few days pinned to the top of a 4chan image board, WendyVainity’s “meow! sad toy cats.wmv” is an unsettling surrealist video consisting of computer-generated cats moving to a melodic synthesized voice.

WendyVainity has produced a substantial portfolio of computer-generated video art very much worth viewing in full over several days.