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So I found an app that lets you take stereo photos…

July 16, 2014, 10:24 PM

Last night, I found an app called 3D Camera for my Android phone.  The idea behind the app is that you take two photos a few inches apart from each other, you line them up, and then the app makes a stereo image for you to look at.  Depending on how you shoot them, they can come out as either crossview or parallel.  I tested it out late last night on a Wheelock 7002T, and came up with this:

Wheelock 7002T, taken on top of my computer
(By the way, I strongly recommend clicking each of the images on this entry to view them at full size in the lightbox)

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Acceptance testing on a waterproof camera enclosure…

July 5, 2014, 9:33 PM

First of all, I had fun at the Outer Banks.  I’m going to leave it at that for now, though, because the whole trip is going to become a photo set for Life and Times, and so it’s going to come out, but the “extended Journal entry” treatment in Life and Times is what will do it the most justice.

That said, in preparation for the trip, I bought a waterproof camera enclosure, with the intention of taking photos in the water.  The idea behind the waterproof camera enclosure was to get Duckie, my Vivitar ViviCam 6200W, out of the picture.  Duckie, to put it nicely, has a very limited operating envelope.  It’s because the ISO is too low, as 200 is as high as it goes.  That means that when you take that camera underwater, you have to hold the camera very still to get clear pictures, unless you want to use the flash (which I don’t always want to do).  It became quite frustrating, and led to a lot of bad photos.  Basically, submerged handheld photos were a no-go under the vast majority of conditions.  It worked well enough outdoors and in daylight on land, but the pictures taken under those conditions have a slight red tinge to them, which is a pain to try to correct.  Plus it has no optical zoom, and the buttons were a bit stiff, with the latter’s making the camera’s use somewhat cumbersome.

Thus I got this to replace Duckie:

The new waterproof camera enclosure with my point-and-shoot camera inside.

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Categories: Cameras, Friends, Swimming

Going back for the first time in 17 years…

June 26, 2014, 10:21 PM

This coming weekend is going to be so much fun.  I’m getting together with my friend Pete, and we’re heading down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, specifically Buxton, for a weekend trip.  For me, this will also be a bit of a throwback to the nineties, as the last time I was down this way was in 1997.  My family went to the Outer Banks five times in the nineties, for a week each time, from 1993-1997.  Back then, we rented Park Place, a house in the Askins Creek neighborhood in Avon.  This time, since this will just be a weekend trip, Pete and I are staying in a hotel for two nights, though I’m going to see about getting a few photos of Park Place on the way down (Avon is the town right before Buxton going south).  I do want to stay in Park Place again one day, though, but that’s not going to happen on this trip.

When we used to go down that way as a family, it worked out to where Dad would generally just sun himself on the beach, and Mom, Sis, and I would find ways to entertain ourselves.  The first year, in 1993, all the whole family did was get up, eat, and go down and sit on the beach all day.  That got old quickly by the third day, and Mom realized it.  So on subsequent vacations, while Dad was perfectly content to lay on the beach every day for a week, the rest of us found entertainment elsewhere on the island, as well as spent a couple of days on the beach.  On these outings, we went up the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse a few times, we rode the ferry across Hatteras Inlet, and we did a few other things while Dad chilled out on the beach.

The last time my family went, in 1997, I was a freshly licensed driver, and did the driving that year myself, taking the Previa down to the Outer Banks with my mother and sister.  My father, due to a work schedule conflict that year, had to travel down separately.  That was fun, as it was my first time driving through a tunnel (the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel), among other things.  Still being a relatively inexperienced driver, I remember my being a little nervous while doing the drive down, but I managed.

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Categories: Family, Vacations

I completely nerded out on Sunday, and it was awesome…

June 24, 2014, 10:21 PM

I went out on a miniature road trip on Sunday, and I had a blast, taking photos of anything that vaguely interested me.  It was more or less spur of the moment, when you consider that for what ended up being a photography trip, I only had my cell phone, and then, I didn’t bring my spare battery along.  Thus it was a bit of a continual battle to keep a sufficient charge on the phone with only the car charger, but somehow, I managed, and the results came out pretty well despite my leaving my real camera at home.  The way this trip came about is that I wanted to go up to and explore Westminster, Maryland.  I’ve been wanting to explore Westminster for a while, ever since my father took an overnight business trip to Westminster a few years ago and I didn’t find out about it until it was too late in the day to go up and visit, because Dad didn’t realize that Westminster was as close to me as it was.  That sucked, because I would have totally gone up if I had known.  I’ll gladly travel an hour or so on relatively short notice to hang out with family.

So early Sunday morning, I just decided to go up and see what there was.  I like doing these sorts of trips, because it’s basically a scouting trip, seeing if there’s anything that I want to explore and photograph in more detail in the future.  Getting to Westminster is pretty easy: turn onto Georgia Avenue (MD 97) and take it all the way to Westminster.  Seriously, it’s that easy.  I got to Westminster just as the sun was coming up.  After a quick drive through the main commercial area along Route 140, I located the downtown area.

The downtown area in Westminster has what I consider an unusual feature: a single-track rail line for the Maryland Midland Railway running diagonally through the main intersection in downtown.  Main Street goes one way, and Liberty Street and Railroad Avenue (both MD 27) go the other way, and the rail line runs diagonally across the intersection.  I would have loved to have seen a train come through here while I was in the area, but unfortunately, I did not get to see that this time.

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Took the bicycle out for some trials, and…

June 17, 2014, 3:52 PM

Took the bicycle out for the first time today:

The bicycle in the parking lot for the Matthew Henson Trail

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Categories: Bicycle

Sometimes you have those weekends where you just have to get out of the house…

June 11, 2014, 6:06 PM

Ever get that feeling of “I just have to get out of the house”?  I recently had that feeling, where I just needed a change of scenery for a little bit, and so I planned a weekend trip down to Stuarts Draft to visit the parents, going down Friday, and coming back Sunday.  They were, as always, delighted to see me, and on the whole, we had a good time.  I also made some extra space in my house, as, on Mom’s request, I brought my sister’s old bicycle back to my parents’ house.  Gave me some practice in “beheading” a bicycle by removing the front wheel, and then reattaching it at my destination.  But it travels much more easily without the front wheel:

The bicycle has been beheaded!
The freshly-liberated front wheel.

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“A room that big and not a single fire alarm notification appliance?”

June 10, 2014, 1:43 PM

Today on Facebook, a friend of mine posted this picture:

"This is a room full of people that care about your game requests."

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Exactly 22 years later, I got another baby elephant…

May 30, 2014, 10:36 PM

So today was my birthday, meaning that I am now 33 years old.  And for my birthday, I got a baby elephant.  Check it out:

The "baby elephant", as it is

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Categories: Bicycle, Birthdays

And it goes from an Edwards to a Fire-Lite…

May 12, 2014, 11:12 PM

And there you have it.  I figured that, when Herb, three firefighters, and I had trouble resetting the pull station during that accidental fire alarm at the pool last Thursday, the Edwards 270A-SPO that had recently been installed at the pool and was the center of the action in this alarm would not be long for this world.  And I was right.  This is what greeted me when I arrived for today’s workout:

Fire-Lite BG-12

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Categories: Fire alarms, Olney, Swimming

It was a six-mile hike, mostly uphill, but the view was definitely worth it…

May 12, 2014, 12:19 PM

On May 4, I got together with Melissa, Pete, and Pete’s dog Bruno, and we went on a trip out to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to do some hiking.  The inspiration for this trip was twofold.  First of all, Pete and Melissa had recently become friends on Facebook, though they had never met in person.  This seemed like a good opportunity for them to actually meet.  And then the venue came about after I saw someone else post pictures of the Maryland Heights overlook at Harpers Ferry onto Facebook, and I decided that I wanted to see it for myself.

Heading in, I first picked Melissa up at her house in Hyattsville, along with, to my surprise, Jason.  He was going to check out the Smithsonian, and so we brought him down to a Metro station.  After dropping Jason off at Eastern Market station, Melissa and I met up with Pete for breakfast at Sizzling Express.  After breakfast, we headed back over to Pete’s house to get Bruno, and then we all walked down to the car, which was parked on 6th Street SE.  I ended up taking Bruno’s leash, which was an experience all of its own.  Realize that when I was growing up, my family had a dachshund, which is a small dog.  Bruno is a basset hound, which is a much bigger breed.  Walking a basset hound is a different experience entirely from walking a dachshund, in that I was mostly walking Bruno, but there were definitely times when Bruno was walking me.  Bruno is pretty strong, and was able to pull me around at times as he checked out various items along our path.  Greta could never have pulled me around like that on account of her being too small.  But it was fun, so all was well, and Pete was there to remind Bruno to be on his best behavior if necessary.

When we got to the car, Bruno got in his carrier, and we were off.  To get there, we took the Southwest Freeway to GW Parkway to the Beltway to I-270 to US 340.  And for the record, 340′s east-west signing in Maryland always throws me off, because I am very much accustomed to 340′s being signed as a north-south route, as it is in Virginia and West Virginia, though that’s by far not the only US highway that changes directional designations like that.

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Well, tonight’s workout was fun…

May 8, 2014, 10:19 PM

I think this describes my workout at the pool tonight:

SO YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SWIM WORKOUT?  LET ME SING YOU THE SONG OF MY PEOPLE.

Yes, I got interrupted by a fire alarm.  I was simultaneously annoyed and delighted about the situation.  On the one hand, Olney Indoor Swim Center has a Notifier voice evacuation system, and I had never heard it go off in the three years that I have been swimming at Olney.  So I was delighted that I finally got to see and hear it in action.  On the other hand, though, I take my swimming quite seriously.  I find interruptions to my workout to be quite a bother, like the time that a storm-related power outage ended my workout early back in August 2012.  So a fire alarm during my workout annoyed me, because it knocked me out of my groove.

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Categories: Fire alarms, Olney, Swimming

Fun at the Inner Harbor!

April 29, 2014, 9:42 PM

Sometimes you’ve got to love what kinds of amusing things you can get into with friends.  Last Wednesday, Melissa, Jason (whom I know through Melissa) and I got together and went up to Baltimore.  The primary purpose was to visit the observation deck at the Baltimore World Trade Center.  And that we did.  We got to see Baltimore from above, and I got all sorts of photos from 27 stories up, but then we also got all sorts of crazy pictures of each other, mostly of Melissa and me.

But first of all, for those not familiar, this is the Baltimore World Trade Center:

The Baltimore World Trade Center, the world's tallest regular pentagonal building

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Categories: Baltimore, Melissa

Listen to the 7000-Series accelerate…

April 28, 2014, 2:18 PM

This past Saturday, I went out to Lake Artemesia to photograph out there.  For those not familiar, Lake Artemesia is a manmade lake in PG County that may be best known as the big lake that you go past while riding up to Greenbelt on the Green Line.  I’m going to put the lake photos up on my Flickr page at a later date, because the highlight of this outing was, by far, in watching the 7000-Series railcars undergo some of their acceptance testing prior to entering revenue service.  This particular weekend, the Green Line was single-tracking between College Park and Greenbelt on track E2 (normally for service to Branch Avenue) for the acceptance testing, and the testing was occurring right next to the lake on track E1 (normally for service to Greenbelt).  Thus, this was a common sight near the lake on Saturday:

7000-Series train on track E1

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Categories: WMATA

“It should be legal to push tourists into the Tidal Basin when they don’t watch where they’re going.”

April 28, 2014, 1:22 PM

One tweet just says it all sometimes, doesn’t it?  Such describes my experience on the 13th seeing the cherry blossoms on the Mall.  It was my first time doing that, and, as long as I don’t forget about this experience, it will also be the last time that I do that.  I was reminded once again that large crowds of tourists tend to get on my nerves very quickly.  I was also reminded that I have springtime allergies, as I discovered that putting myself in close proximity to cherry blossoms activates my seasonal allergies.

That said, all of this made my cherry blossom experience something that I was very interested in getting over with not long after I got there.  I took Red Line in, and walked over from Metro Center.  I believe that this sight, near the Holocaust Museum, should have been my warning that this would not necessarily be a pleasant experience:

A trash can overflowing with trash

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Car show!

April 20, 2014, 8:34 PM

On Saturday, April 12, I got together with my friend Matthew, and we went to a car show in the Sterling area.  I’ve always enjoyed a good car show.  I used to go with my father when he would bring his Mustang to car shows in the 1990s.  I met Oliver North at a car show at Wright’s Dairy Rite in Staunton back when he was running for the Senate in 1994, in fact.

Thus I was quite pleased to go to this show with Matthew.  I had been to this show once before, in 2012, and had a lot of fun, but for whatever reason (possibly related to the ongoing site conversion at that time) never really featured all of the neat cars that I saw, save for one.  I’m not about to miss this time, because I saw some really neat cars.  I also remembered what I like when photographing cars.  I like seeing show cars as they might appear while being driven.  Thus I like it when the hood is kept down.  For whatever reason, I’m not that interested in looking at the engine.  And then if it’s a convertible, I love seeing the top down.

That said, this is not the way I like to see a car when it’s on display:

Ford Mustang with the hood way up

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Categories: Events, Matthew, Photography