Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunset Over Glaciers in Alaska

I'm still digging through a lot of the pictures from our Alaska trip. These two recently came across our digital picture frame and I had to go back and see them again. Now I can share them with you as well. I dont know the names of these glaciers if they even have names. We were fortunate to have such beautiful sunsets and they dont get much better than this. Well worth the money spent on the cruise!!!

This one I may have to have blown up into a mural or something. So many good things here when you zoom in. Note the HUGE waterfall below the melting glacier. The trees at the bottom are in the foreground!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Fox Face Lo and Friends

Cleaned the salt water tank today and cut up some corals for a coworker. Here is my Fox Face Lo. It is poisonous. However its purely defensive! :). Also shown are three of my clown fish and a bubble coral. The grey colored coral covering the rocks has been growing out of control.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Processed Color Image of Jupiter

Here is a true color image of Jupiter enhanced by overlaying 30 images and smoothing a bit. Learning as I go, I know now how to manipulate multiple AVI files and combine images from multiple files.

More images when I have time. I have some excellent prime focus images which look pretty good at first glance. Don't know how well they will hold up to enlargement.

Another night of Image Processing

Here is a black and white image processed a bit by using about 27 images overlayed and a little smoothing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pictures of Jupiter Tonight

Here are two pictures I grabbed quickly tonight. The first is a black and white and the second is in color. They were taken with my 8" F/8 Newtonian Telescope at prime focus using a 2X barlow lens.

The images have not been processed much and you should click on the images to see them in full resolution.

I had some technical issues with the telescope tracking but was able to make it work.

On the upper left hand side of the planet near the edge you can just barely see the great red spot.

I will look through more of the images for clearer ones and maybe sharpen them up a bit with some processing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Fish Added Recently

I attended the ZNA Koi Show this past weekend at the Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, VA. I got there early and landed a deal on 3 baby Sanke from Eastern Koi. The show was fantastic. Many LARGE fish were entered...30" plus in length. Taro Kodama was there from the Kodama Koi farm and I bought his fathers new book. Here is a picture of the sanke and few from the show that I found exciting:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Walt Hamler 8" F8 Telescope

Beautiful dark skies made me get out my telescope last night.  Jupiter rises in the east and the milky way is directly overhead.  Tonight I tackle Cygnus. Lots of nebulae and galaxies to keep us busy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

4 new Koi for my Pond

I bought 4 new koi from a coworker who shows koi and wins medals. He has MANY babies and offered these for a good price. 3 are about 14" long and one is about 6" long.

Today I got some late season water lillies from a local nursery as well as a japanese maple for the pond.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, July 26, 2010

Alaska 2010 Return to Seattle, Woodland Park Zoo and Alki Beach

After leaving Skagway, AK our cruise ship headed back to Seattle, WA. We arrived at the port at 7:30am. Since our flight didn't leave until 11pm, we decided to rent a car and go to the Woodland Park Zoo. This is the best zoo that I have been to. I haven't been to many but they really made an effort to make you feel like you are walking in a rain forest or African safari. The containment's are barely noticeable except where they want you to see them. The kids had a great time. We had dinner and killed more time at Alki Beach on the west side of Seattle. Alki Beach is about as close to LA as you can get. We made the red eye back to Dulles Airport and arrived early the next morning. It was a fantastic trip and I encourage everyone to take one of the Alaska cruises if they have the time and money. For those who are not cruise people, the scenery will take your breath away and may change your opinion about cruises. However, I may never enjoy another cruise again. The bar has been set.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Alaska 2010 Victoria, BC, Canada and Butchart Gardens

After visiting Skagway, AK, the ship cruised through the inside passage on it's way to Victoria, BC in Canada. Along the way there were countless whale spotting's which the captain made note of as we passed by them. Once in Victoria, our excursion took us on a tour of the old town and then off to Butchart Gardens. Butchart gardens began as a limestone quarry. When the owners had stripped the property of all of the useful limestone, they began to plant a garden in the space that was left. Eventually they sold it to a private company that developed it into a park. now they charge admission, have a restaurant, and gift shops to pay for the continual maintenance of the park. It's hard to believe looking at these pictures that it was once a limestone quarry.

Once back on the ship, we spent two days at sea arriving at Seattle, WA again on July 3.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alaska 2010 Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier

Our 5th day on the cruise took us to the Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier. The ship arrived at the mouth of the fjord about 5:30am. Since we had that stern cabin with the excellent view, we stayed on our balcony for the entire journey of about 2 1/2 hours. Winding between the mountains they navigated this huge cruise ship through the narrow passage dodging chunks of ice which after closer inspection revealed they were really glacier ice bergs and only the tips were showing! Along the way were breathtaking views of waterfalls, ice capped mountains, otters, sea lions, eagles, and the signs that prove the glaciers are really melting away. As the ship approached Sawyer Glacier it became evident that the glacier has receded a great deal. Clearly visible is the vegetation line and below it nothing but barren ice scraped rock. Two chunks of ice broke off the glacier while we were there.

We were glad we gave the girls the opportunity to see these glaciers. When they are older there will be nothing left to show their kids. However, they will be able to share the memories of seeing them as a child.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Alaska 2010 Skagway and the White Pass Steam Train

Our second excursion day took us to Skagway, Alaska. The town is known for their history during the gold rush era. The White Pass railroad was constructed to transport all of the "wealthy" gold miners in and out of the Yukon. Now the White Pass Railroad is the main attraction. Fortunately for us, our excursion day fell on a Monday and that meant we could ride the steam train instead of the diesel locomotive. The pictures show our 4 hour train ride through the white pass summit and into Canada. The scenery was breathtaking. They also served champagne at the summit and we had a toast to the gold miners that traveled through there so long ago.

After visiting the town of Skagway we headed back to the ship and watched a beautiful sunset. The following morning we arrived at Tracy Arm Fjord and the Sawyer Glacier!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Alaska 2010 Juneau and the Whales

Our first excursion was to Juneau. First stop was to take a catamaran to Orca Point Lodge where we ate a fantastic salmon lunch and walked along the shore watching bald eagles soar overhead and wondering what was coming next.

Back on the Cat, we headed out to locate whales. Our first encounter was with several Hump Back whales. We then encountered two pods of Orca otherwise known as Killer Whales. Each pod had about 9 or 10 in each. The Orca were circling around a school of fish in order to pack them into a tight ball which makes feeding much easier. Some of them came quite close to the boat. Next we saw a group of Sea Lions playing king of the mountain on a buoy which was pretty entertaining to watch. Our last encounter was with another group of Hump Back whales. This time one came right up along side the cat and sprayed my daughter Carina. She was pretty excited about getting sneezed on by a whale!

Next on our tour was a stop at Mendenhall Glacier Park where we got to see glacier ice up close, beautiful scenery, and bald eagles. Amazing to see how fast the glaciers are melting. Back on the ship we had a fantastic meal and crashed for our next excursion the following day in Skagway.

Alaska 2010 Two Days at Sea

Here are pictures from our first two days at sea on our way to Juneau, AK. We had an exceptional view from our balcony off the stern of the ship. If you ever take one of the Alaska cruises, try to get the stern balcony room. It costs more but it's worth it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Revisiting Seattle 2010

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we spent the first three days in Seattle, WA. Our journey took us to the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Ride A Duck (No tango with any barges), Tesla Motor Showroom to test their new all electric sport convertable, Pike's Place Market, Argosy Tour of the harbor, Seattle Aquarium, and the Science Fiction Museum where I got to see Capt Kirk's command chair.

Here are some pictures of our visit those 3 days.

If you can't view them here or would like to see more pictures of our trip you can visit this link:

Stay tuned for more trip details and YouTube videos once I can get them converted.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Buddy Spies a Turkey

My neighbor Buddy caught this visitor in his front yard. Ben Franklin wanted this guy to be the national bird, the American Wild Turkey. I think I'm glad it became the Bald Eagle.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back From Our Alaska Cruise

We are finally back from our trip to Seattle and Alaska cruise. The weather was perfect, mid 60s most of the trip with one day in AK in the 70s! Who would have thought? We spent three days in Seattle visiting the center of town including the space needle, Pikes Place Market, and other attractions before boarding our cruise on Royal Caribbean. Our ports of call were Juneau, Skagway, through the Tracy Arm Fjord to Sawyer Glacier, Victoria BC, and then back to Seattle.

In Juneau we went on a Whale excursion and visited Mendenhall Glacier Park. We saw many humpback whales and Orca. Carina even got sprayed by a humpback whale! The glaciers were beautiful but its sad to see the rate at which they are melting. The loss is clearly visible as chunks were just breaking away at the water.

We then went to Skagway where we boarded a steam train and took a 4 hour ride through the White Pass summit and into Canada where we had a champagne toast and then anotherand anotherand anotherby the time we got back to the station we were feeling pretty good.

They took the ship next through Tracy Arm Fjord navigating around icebergs where we spent about 45 minutes overlooking Sawyer Glacier and watching otters and sea lions trying to figure out what our ship was doing there.

The next port was Victoria BC which just happened to fall on Canada Day (Canadas Independence Day). We took a tour of the city and visited Butchart Gardens just outside Victoria. The site was once a limestone quarry and was converted to a garden and sold to a private company that turned it into a park.

We then headed back to Seattle. Before we caught our red eye back to Dulles, we rented a car and visited the Woodland Park Zoo and Alki Beach west of Seattle. I took over 1200 pictures and about 30 videos on the trip which I am still sorting through. I hope to get them up on the site soon. Its difficult to take a bad picture when the scenery is so beautiful. From minute to minute it changes and other things come into view. Now I have to deal with it all. Here are a couple of pictures I pulled from the disk.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Arrivals for the Pond

Here are three new Japanese Sushui Koi I purchased for my pond. In a couple of weeks I will be purchasing more from a co-worker.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Ladies Catching Fireflies

I wonderful evening spent with the Rupperts and the Chengs. My wife and daughters along with all of our guests were out catching fireflies in a pj's too!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Moved the Fish Today

Got the water treated for fish and moved them to their new digs.  Next phase is to get the plants transplanted to the right spots and order more rocks.  I may get some new fish too to replace the ones I lost during the snow storm.  The biggest issue are the rocks.  Not enough to get things the way I want them.  More sweat and sore backs!

Almost full

The new pond is almost full.  Today I will get the waterfalls going.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The liner is in!

And the water is flowing.  2075 gallons!  Ill get the water in about 75% then ill trim up the liner.  Best not to do that until the water gets in and pushes the liner to the sides.

If the weather holds up tomorrow I may get more done.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pond Expansion Day ???

Who's counting anymore.  I'm getting there.  Maybe one more day on the left side making it deeper.  Another day with buddy's help digging out three more feet to the left.  Another day to repair the retaining wall.  One more day to frame out with the timbers.  Then I can install the liner and get some water into this thing.  Stones and plants will take another day.

Its going to rain for the next 3 days so I should be rested up to tackle this next week.

Lord have mercy....what have I got myself into?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pond Expansion Day 3

Two more days of digging.  I had some bee issues so I decided to work on the other side of the pond.  Still have a lot of dirt to move before I can get the liner installed.  Maybe 4 more days of work to do until them.  Hope the weather holds out.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pond expansion project day 1

Today buddy and I began the pond expansion project.  He dug with the Kabota while I ferried dirt everywhere that needed it.  More to come.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fresh Bamboo!

It's that time of year again.  My wife picked bamboo shoots near fairfax and they are already on the stove cooking.  She has all of the bamboo fields scoped out along her drive to work and today was the day for picking.  You have to pick them when they are young and tender.  They grow as much as three inches a day so there is just a small window in the spring to get them before they are hard enough to build a house!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Growing Coral Bed

Here is my reef aquarium.  Most of the fish are camera shy but the corals don't seem to mind.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back Yard Needs Work

Nothing like a horrible winter to mess up the landscape.  I've been contemplating a pond expansion.  Maybe my first step is to expand the lower pond to the left about 8 to 10 feet and reinforce the edges with 6x6s.  The pond has been sinking over the years and now the liner is a bit short.  There were also various design issues that allowed water and mud to wash into it during a heavy rain.  Time to measure and figure out how much materials will cost.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Police: Man stole front loader, plowed driveways

Why dont I have friends like this?

The Day After

Today the sun came out to help melt some of the ice. Unfortunately the roads have about 6 inches of ice on them and DOT has not put any sand down. This is a video taken this afternoon while my wife and I were out for a walk. During the video a car gets stuck getting into his driveway. The Govt is still closed today but we are hopeful things will be greatly improved by tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2nd Blizzard of 2010 Hits

Here is a video of what it was like this morning after I shoveled the driveway. Winds were blowing to 40mph and gusts higher. Finally the snow has stopped and the sun is coming out. Time to go out and get the asphalt clear so the sun can melt it off!

If you can't play the video above try this URL

A Squirrel Finds an Acorn

I guess this squirrel got hungry. He was in the back yard digging down in feet of snow to retrieve his acorns. How do they do that?

The 2nd snow storm hit last night and this morning with blizzard conditions. We recevied another 10 - 12 inches of snow on top of what we had already. In addition the snow is drifting pretty heavily. It's all supposed to stop by 1pm then we can finish up on cleaning this stuff up. I've lost track of the accumulation so far but it's well over 36 inches. I'll post a video later.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What? More Snow?

Stocked up and ready to go.  Another snow storm is about to come tonight dumping an additional 10 to 20 inches of snow. We wait anxiously getting a day of rest before we do this ALL OVER AGAIN!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where's the mail man?

I got the other half of the driveway cleared out today....just in time for another 8 to 12 inches starting tomorrow night. I did see the mail truck in the neighborhood. Since my mailbox is now buried under tons of snow I put a box out for him. Maybe someone will send me some money. HA!

We are going to try to make it to whole foods for more supplies.