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Focusing

Earlier this week meteorologists were calling for a huge ice storm to sweep the area. Tuesday morning I woke up to find a few teeny tiny icicles on the trees but that was about it. The worst of the storm passed north of us. While I am grateful that we were spared the sweeping power outages I was a little upset that I didn’t get a chance to photograph any.

When I came home from work later that day I noticed that the trees had quite a bit of raindrops still holding on. Of course, the trees with the most accessible raindrops were in my neighbor’s yard. I hope they don’t mind my taking the liberty of stepping a few feet into their yard to snap a few shots.

Blurred droplets

Sadly, my first few shots turned out to be disappointing. My current camera has no manual focus option so I had to rely on its auto focus. For some reason it couldn’t tell that I was trying to focus on the tiny branch with the even tinier water drop. Then I remembered a trick my husband had told me that his sisters told him about.

Simple focusing trick

Simple focusing trick

  1. The problem. You want to take a close up shot of something tiny. Maybe it’s a flower or a little twig, like this example. Try as you might you just can’t get your camera to focus on the object you are trying to photograph.
  2. The solution. This would probably work with anything that is somewhat larger than your subject but since you will always have your hands with you, I’ll say hand. Place a hand directly beside or immediately behind your subject. Allow your camera to focus while your hand is in the frame. It might take a bit to play with the placement to get it right but you should be able to bring your subject into focus. (Obviously you would want to take your hand out of the picture before you take it.)
  3. The result. Once the camera is focused as desired, remove your hand and snap away.

Because of that trick, I was able to get the shot below and several others that can be found at my flickr account. I hope to write more how-to and tip articles such as this in the future so keep an eye out!

Droplets 3

Library learning

Since I’ve started making frequent trips to the library I’ve learned something. Actually, I noticed this the very first day I went. Normally, I would expect to find non-fiction ordered according to the Dewey Decimal System and for non-fiction books to be listed by author. Paperbacks might be off in their own section but they would still be sorted by author. I haven’t checked the non-fiction section yet for myself but I suppose that’s how they are indeed ordered by the Dewey Decimal System. The fiction section is another matter.

During my first trip to the library I walked into the first floor and found myself in the children’s section. Since I was looking for The Hero of Ages a librarian directed me upstairs. She looked the book up for me and told me that it would be in the science fiction section upstairs. I was a little confused but continued upstairs. Once there I saw that all of the fiction books were not sorted by author, but rather into categories such as Large Print, Romance, Mystery, Western, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. I started my search in the Science Fiction section but couldn’t find the book. Since I think that the book is more fantasy than sci-fi I moved to the Fantasy section and noticed that there was a lot of similarity between the two. On later visits I think I’ve even found a copy of the same book in each section. Either way, I wasn’t able to find the book; it was actually located on the New Books shelf.

Before my last trip to the library I looked up a few books in their online catalog. I was intrigued when I saw that one of the books was listed in the “Oprah” section. I thought to myself surely that’s not right. Do they really have an Oprah section? The answer: yes, they do.

The Library's Oprah Section

That’s not the whole section, of course, but it isn’t a large section. I’m supposing books that were chosen as part of Oprah’s Book Club are placed here. To me it doesn’t make any sense, mostly because it’s not always easy to define what category a book should be in. The confusion between sci-fi and fantasy should be enough reason to not sort books in this manner. I would think that being able to go straight to an author’s name would be a much faster way of finding a book rather than trying to figure out if the library decided if it was fantasy or sci-fi. To make matters worse, they have a section of books that is simply labeled Fiction.

This whole mess won’t stop me from visiting the library. I mean, who can argue about getting to read books for free? However, I’m sure I’ll have plenty more experiences of trying to deduce where they might have put a book when I only know the author’s name, like when I tried to find The Other Boleyn Girl. It’s in the general Fiction section.

Inauguration

Today is an historic day. At noon EST Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. Ever since Obama won the Democratic nomination (and maybe even before) I have heard so many varied opinions of him that it is hard to believe that people are talking about the same man.

Some people say that he will be the savior of the country. He will single-handedly turn the economy around, end the war in Iraq, fix health care. You name it and he’ll do it. He can do no wrong. America is finally back on the right track.

Some people say that he’s a socialist, a communist, a terrorist. He is someone who shouldn’t even be president because he isn’t truly a US citizen. Before the election I was covered by a storm of people saying “We must pray for America! Our country needs prayer now more than ever!” This was said not because they have always had a true concern for our country but came from their beliefs that having Obama as president would be the beginning of the end of the world. Some have even said “Maybe he’s the antichrist.” America is doomed to fail.

Today, many people have said that they are proud to be Americans for the first time in their life. Others say that they are praying for Obama to fail as our president.

I say to you all: Shame on you.

Shame on you who say you were never proud to be an American before now. Yes, you voted. Big deal. What else have you done, other than bash President Bush? Can you honestly tell yourself that you could have done a better job? If so, run for president yourself next time and see how easy it is. How dare you disrespect the leader of our country. Besides, this is Obama’s first day in office. Time will show us whether or not he is the miracle some expect or whether or not he will hold to his promises.

Shame on you who wish for President Obama to fail. Tell me, what would be accomplished if your plan succeeds? Do you truly want our country to fall further than it has? If you pray for this because you think that it is God’s will you’ve got some learning to do. How dare you claim that it is God’s will for a leader fail. The Bible instructs us to pray for and respect those in authority. If you pray for anything, pray that President Obama will seek God’s guidance to become a better leader for our country and to follow His will. For those who thought it would be the end of the world for Obama to be elected: election day was a little late to start praying. Our country needs prayers continually, not just when there is a “threat.”

I know that not everyone falls into one of these extreme categories. Some people are indifferent. Some didn’t even bother to vote. Wherever you fall I have one word for you: hope. Whether you want him to succeed of fail, have hope that he will do his best to lead our country. If his best isn’t enough, hope and pray that he will receive the strength he needs to be our leader.

Server woes

It would appear that I am having server trouble again. Yesterday I found out that my host had scheduled a maintenance that would last from 9:00 PM CST Friday until 7:00 AM CST on Saturday. The notification said that they only foresaw about 90 minutes of actual downtime in this 10 hour window.

However, shortly after this window began I found myself unable to access the site. I went to bed thinking surely it would be back up in the morning. It was not. As instructed I sent an inquiry to their support email account. An email account what was on a server affected by the maintenance. I thought that a little odd at first and it has turned out to cause a bit of a problem with emails being delayed for several hours.

I was finally able to get in contact with a member of their support staff through Twitter of all things. It turns out that HTTPD was off when the servers (at least, the one I’m on) were brought up from maintenance and had not been turned back on. Around 2:00 PM EST I received notification that it had been turned on and access to my sites was restored. This resolution came about more than six hours after I first attempted to contact support and over 15 hours since connection was first interrupted.

The notification I received did mention that downtime might last for more than 90 minutes. However, 90 minutes isn’t even close to 15 hours. Finally, everything appears to be functioning properly.

Winter blues

I don’t think I have ever been more ready for winter to be over. I don’t know why it has hit me this year but every day seems so dreary and gray. When the weather is bad it looks the same when I come in to work the next morning as it did when I left the evening before: cold, overcast, windy, and dark.

I think the short days may be a big part of the problem. Of course, now each day is longer than the one before but the sun still sets less than an hour after I get home from work. It always makes it feel as if it should be much later in the evening than it really is.

Winter in general just makes me feel like bundling up inside with a blanket and reading, which is a good thing considering that I really do love to read. I’ve recently started The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I’ve had a couple of people suggest this series to me and so far I’m enjoying it, though I’m only on book two out of the eleven or so that are in the series. There’s a bit of a funny story about how I started reading the series.

Continue reading…


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