A Different Ramble

Yay. Made it to the weekend. 😐 This past week had been a big ol’ MEH for me personally, even though there wasn’t anything particularly horrible… just not a whole lot that was good, either. Getting to the weekend allows me to mentally switch gears, which is silly – since “weekday” or “weekend” doesn’t really have any functional difference in my position, but it just helps me to push aside the “meh” of last week and prepare to work on some different “meh” with a bit less on my mind. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Some good stuff from the past week… I had a friend come over and bail me out when my lawn had gotten overgrown and I hadn’t seen or heard from my normal mowing crew in two weeks. 🀨 Got my orders of paper masks and hand sanitizer from Amazon. It had been hard to find in stock for a while, so I went ahead and got the pack of 50 masks and a friggin’ case of a dozen 8oz bottles of gel. But having that much, that allowed me to take some up to a couple different friends in Columbus who are as cautious (paranoid?) as me, so they wouldn’t have to go searching for it in stores. 😳😷 Oh, and I did pick up a load of groceries for Dad, using Kroger’s curbside pickup, but unfortunately wasn’t able to stay and visit. 😟 Should be soon, though.

And I don’t know yet if this will turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing, but since the start of last week – all the way up through yesterday – I’ve gotten pieces of mail of various thickness and sizes from the Center for Medicare Services, my Medicare insurer, the Social Security Administration, and I think there may have been one in there from my WC attorneys as well. πŸ˜³πŸ˜‘ If it’s all just stuff to help finish up the settlement phase of my case, then great… I’ll grit my teefs and get through it. But something just tells me that there’s gonna be at least a couple things in this pile of mail that are waiting to be a pain in my ass.

I’ll hold back on my complaining about the lawn situation too much, since it was mostly a misunderstanding. I ended up having a friend mow my lawn in the evening of the 14th day since my normal guys had been here, because the prior week I had contacted them to let them know that part of the yard was getting overgrown with weeds and new bush growth from where they had missed it before. πŸ˜• Yet five days later I still hadn’t even gotten a reply, never mind anyone actually showing up to mow. He said it was because I was down for “every two weeks” even though I thought it was every ten days or so, but like I said… if he’d have replied I’d have at least known that they would be coming eventually, and when I told him five days prior that the yard was already getting out of control – you’d think they’d wanna take care of that sooner than later. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜’

And I’ve been watching the news, reading the articles, paying attention to the numbers all week… and I’ve decided that I can’t go to my cousin’s graduation party this evening. πŸ˜” There’s been a noticeable increase in COVID-19 cases which comes from people’s Memorial Day activity, and then all these protests… woo… it should be about another week before we start seeing the increases from those. 😬 That’ll be the first big “experiment” that may relax some of my fears. If things don’t really pop off after all of the people rubbing up against each other in all of the protest cities, then maybe I can let up on my concern just a bit. But yeah, I can’t go and mix it up with a bunch of folks who’ve been who-knows-where doing who-knows what… especially if I’m gonna be spending time with Dad soon. I hope nothing bad comes from the gathering, because she’d probably feel awful if any of the family members get sick (or worse) just to go to her grad party. 😟

Okay, I’ve gotta run down to the quicky mart to gas up and grab some pop, chips, bread, etc. It’s really the only “store” I’ve been in for months now, so thankfully they have all the small essentials to keep me going – even if it costs a little more than at a regular store. But they’re good at keeping customer numbers in the store low, the doors all open with the breeze blowing, and plenty of space while standing in line. Only once or twice did I see everyone there (as customers) wearing a mask, and last time I was the only one… but yeah, I’m comfortable enough with that place that I don’t have an instant panic attack as I park and prepare to exit my car. 😳

So the plans for tonight include grabbing gas station goodies, hitting BK a little further down the road for dinner, getting back here to the house to then start the laundry, finish the dishes, and face whatever fresh hell all of this mail is waiting to bestow upon me. 😠 I tried to do that last part a couple times this week but couldn’t make myself do it – but I can’t stall anymore since the stuff is probably time sensitive. πŸ˜’ Fun Fun.

Too Late, Too Early

I stayed up until around 2am last night. Mostly just because I couldn’t fall asleep, but also because I wanted to step outside and see how many meteors I could see from the Lyrids meteor shower. πŸ€“ I stood outside for a little over ten minutes, freezing, and saw a grand total of none. πŸ˜… I know that I was looking where I was supposed to, so they were either lighter than expected or I was just blinking at the wrong time. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

No big deal, since if I had seen several of them I probably would have been wishing I had figured out the needed settings for my cameras so that I could have captured them. πŸ˜’ But earlier in the evening I did mess with the phone and camcorder a bit, to see if I could quickly figure out how to get a noise-free, well exposed photo of the stars in the sky, while also being able to capture any shooting stars… and it’s not as easy as you’d think, at least not with an iPhone.

It’s funny, I’ve got it down where I can get a decent exposure of the night sky, but I know from trying to also capture a few passing planes in the frame – that the way I was exposing the image requires the stars to “stay put” for about 30 seconds, and any moving source of light just wouldn’t be captured. πŸ€”πŸ˜ Meh… I’m fairly confident with my regular star exposures, so if the sky is clear tonight I might plug up the phone to power and leave it out back to possibly get a decent time-lapse. On a full charge, using just the internal battery, I was only able to get one hundred 30 second exposures, forming this bitty 10 sec time-lapse… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚

(As usual, best viewed in HD, full screen… and this time, in a dark, dark room. I’m gettin’ there…)

So it was after 2a before I went to sleep, and then I woke up around 7a because my brain knew I had a doctor appointment at 9:30a – so it was sleeping lightly, waiting for any excuse to make sure that I’d wake up and not sleep through it. πŸ™„πŸ˜ Obviously I’ve had early doctor appointments before, but this one was different, so I’m certainly not complaining that I had to wake up early for it today.

This was my first experience with “telemedicine” as I guess it’s called. πŸ˜ƒ Staci called a little early, at 9a, to see if I was awake and able to go ahead and start… and she then sent a link via text, I clicked on it, it opened a page that started the AV connection as fast as a regular Facetime call would start, and from that point on it was like a regular doctor appointment. πŸ€“πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈ

She did her normal “pre-doc” stuff of all the typical information that they gather before the doctor actually comes in, she then put me on hold for about 30 seconds, and then my doctor clicked back in and we wrapped up my appointment in less than ten minutes. 😊 Still covered everything that we would have covered in person, and in fact – because I didn’t have to experience the anxiety of the in-person visit, I probably felt better than at a “normal” appointment. That also meant that I didn’t ramble on about any minor “this or that” which often happens when I’m actually there and able to bitch. πŸ˜…

So yeah, I could definitely get spoiled by something like that. πŸ€— I realize though that a doctor does have to be able to physically interact with a damaged person at least every couple of appointments (to confirm the level of their damage) but it would be nice if I could do two of these, then a regular appointment, two more of these, then a regular, etc. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜• Unfortunately they probably aren’t able to bill insurance at the same rate when they do “virtual” vs “real” appointments, so once they feel that the COVID risk isn’t as high anymore, everyone will be going back to the regular routine. πŸ˜’

Heh… this is probably my longest, most coherent pre-10a entry I’ve ever written. πŸ˜‹

More Moon Stuff

Making a a little more progress with the $99 digital camcorder with the stupid good zoom… 😏 with its only major drawbacks being the purple fringe around some things in certain conditions, the lack of 4k resolution, and then of course the more you zoom the softer the image looks. πŸ˜’ I thought I had the focus as sharp as I could get it, but I’m thinking that there may have been a haze that was also affecting the output video. Might try again tonight, probably just full-zoom stuff, since the time-lapse in the beginning here is pretty meh.

(Make sure this is set to play in HD, full-screen, for the best results.)

Since the moon was lighting up the clouds, I did some more fiddling with the phone to get the brightest exposure possible (while still using only a 1/3 sec shutter speed) and I was gonna get a much faster time-lapse of the clouds out back… but of course they cleared up shortly after I started recording. However, you’ll notice a couple stars bright enough to be picked up, so I’m hoping that on a clear, moonless night I might be able to capture the rotation of the earth in the movement of the stars with this new method. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ€“ Will have to wait a couple weeks to give that a shot, but even though the video’s overall speed is too slow – you should still be able to see that there’s some movement in the stars.

Just Like New

I think I can break self-isolation for this, and people (if they knew) wouldn’t scold me too much. πŸ€”

I’ve had an iPhone 7 Plus for several years now, and she’s finally starting to show her age, battery-wise. And with the new iPhone 9s or SE2s coming out soon, I don’t really want to be tempted by a brand new (albeit “budget”) iPhone when I’ve got one that works just fine for almost everything that I might need it for. 🀨 So getting a new battery for my current phone is the best way to squash all of that.

Another thing that’s getting close to needing a new battery is the car. Even though it hasn’t been cold this winter, it’s still turning over with a little more struggle than I’d like. Not struggle struggle, but basically you can tell it’s not new anymore. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ It’s about four years old now, original factory battery, so I don’t know if this is an “expected” time-frame where it would be due or not… but I’ll have the battery d00d test it first and see what he says as well. (Although common and business sense may guide his opinion in an obvious direction. 😏)

The battery store where I picked up a couple of scooter batteries a few months back… really nice guy running the shop, and he was working on a phone as I was checking out and didn’t seem nervous about it. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ So I could get the phone taken care of, the car taken care of, and believe it or not – they even offer windshield wiper blades… which is another thing that I haven’t changed since getting this car years ago. 😏

Everything looks competitively priced, and all of it has free installation… cuz lord knows I can’t even come close to chucking car batteries around on my own, and wiper blades can be a surprising pain in the ass if you don’t pay attention how you take the old ones off… heh… at least for me. πŸ€“ So anyway, I might end up stopping by that store whenever I have to go out anyway to pick up my meds, so hopefully I’ll also be able to get some of these little concerns taken care of while I’m at it. 😎 Total human contact = 1 person. 😷

Slightly Uneasy

Wasn’t really excited to go to my monthly doctor appointment for my neck and shoulder today, but despite knowing that I was going to get some funny looks – I did wear one of the extra little paper masks (that Cassi gave me several weeks ago) while I was inside the building, since it also houses several other doctors and emergency room services where people might be hacking and coughing. 😳😷

Luckily the place was the least crowded that I had ever seen it. I waited until right before my appointment time to walk in, so I didn’t have to mill around in the waiting area with the humans for long. πŸ˜’ (Plus it’s super big, and wide open… lots of room to stay away from people.) Not many clients in my own doctor’s office either, so it ended up being in-and-out without too much interaction with anyone.

And I know, people under 50 have a relatively low chance of having a severe or fatal reaction if they are infected by SARS-CoV-2, so not only was I being careful in order to hopefully avoid an annoying illness for myself – but also because I don’t wanna end up being someone who barely has a reaction to it yet unintentionally spreads it to someone else. 😟 (Mostly thinking about whenever I might go to visit Dad in the foreseeable future.)

Appointment went well, and my doctor took plenty of time talking with me about the topics that I’d bring up, just like usual. πŸ™‚ Things are still up in the air, but I gave him the basics about what’s going on with my WC claim and what changes might be coming in the next visit or two. It’s nice to be able to spitball some ideas with him and know that it’ll actually lead to something.

Meh… anyway… here’s some HD clouds from yesterday. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Alternate Tests

So… no clouds tonight, so no “clouds zipping past the moon” time-lapse test was possible. However, with the sky as clear as it was, I figured I’d try a different app for my phone that let me set the ISO to 64, the exposure to 30 seconds, and let it run for about an hour and a half – capturing images of the SW sky with the top of my house and some trees in the frame for a bit of context. It was a success in theory, since I now know how to get all my settings right to capture stars and planets – but since the moon was lighting up the sky, it left everything looking washed out. But yeah, I can see potential in this method…

Then the other thing I tried was an 80x digital zoom time-lapse of the moon as it crossed the field of view of the camera. Another thing that I should have realized, was at that zoom level – the motion of the moon would be visible enough to the eye in real-time… so doing a time-lapse with a one second interval made it cross through the frame way too fast. πŸ€”πŸ˜’ So, that’s why this looks all jerky… it’s actually a time-lapse that was slowed to 1/4 of its original speed. But again, decent test – which unfortunately reveals there’s not enough manual control available in this camcorder for exposure and brightness. You’ll see how it comes into the frame overexposed, looks good for a bit, and then gets blown out again as it exits the frame. Still, pretty good for a cheap ass digital camcorder. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚ (And another nice distraction for the evening…)

Don’t forget to click the little HD icon as well as making it full screen for the best result. πŸ€“πŸ˜Ž

Creeping Beauty

Lately I’ve just been using my phone to capture various (weather-based) time-lapse videos, long exposures, lightning, etc… πŸ˜―πŸ“·β˜οΈβ˜οΈπŸŒ©οΈβ˜οΈ basically anything that can be done a few steps from my front door, which unfortunately is about the extent of my “hobby of photography” at the moment. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜•

But last night after the lightning clouds passed through, I decided to grab my camcorder to remind myself what it’s capable of when it comes to low light and time-lapse video. πŸ“ΉπŸ€” Now, when I say camcorder, what you’re picturing is probably not what I’m actually talking about. It’s a JVC digital camcorder with 40x optical zoom, 80x “decent” digital zoom, and then some ridiculous 800x digital zoom that makes everything look like garbage. πŸ˜… But it shoots in 1080p/30 HD and saves to a standard SD memory card, so it’s good enough tech for what I’d want to use it for.

The video below… it’s theΒ firstΒ true test of that camcorder in a couple of years. I just slowed the shutter as much as possible, boosted the exposure, tried to manually focus it properly (since it will lose and regain focus over and over in the dark), and then set the time-lapse interval to 5 seconds. πŸ€“πŸ˜’ I didn’t realize, when I pressed record, how fast the clouds were already moving… so from now on I’ll shoot with an interval of one second and then just speed it up if necessary. But yeah, this is what I ended up with…

(You might need to click the little “HD” and “Full Screen” in the bottom right for highest quality)

It was a full moon last night, and will look essentially the same tonight, so I’m gonna go ahead and charge her up in case I’m awake that late – to where I can plop it out in the back yard, hit record, and let it run until the batteries are empty. πŸŒβ˜οΈπŸ“ΉπŸ€“πŸ€žπŸ» Right now, in the afternoon, there is a good mix of open sky and random clouds… so we’ll see if that stays true through the evening and into the early morning hours.

The storm came along at the right time last night to distract me from my “meh” thoughts of the day, to where I just let myself get lost in watching the ominous looking clouds and lightning as they approached from the distance. 😌 (It’s in my DNA… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I just love severe weather.) The rain did me a favor, so I didn’t even have to scramble to grab my phone (or the camcorder) before it all got soaked once the storm got here… since it never actually got here, passing just to the south instead. πŸ˜³πŸ™‚

So, wish me luck… gonna try to capture somethin’ perty tonight. 😌 And God willing, if I start feeling good enough and my motivation returns for at least a few nights, maybe I’ll actually go out somewhere to do a similar experiment. Somewhere more “scenic” than home. 🀨 The views from my house are fine… they’re just a little bit cluttered due to trees, nearby buildings, power/cable lines, etc… on top of the stray, unwanted light from cars’ headlights as they pass by. πŸ€”πŸ˜’

So yeah, even though I’ve done a ton of these over the years, I’m counting everything as “testing” still… 😏