Mini-Vacation Visitor

Disregarding how the entry below this one probably sounds, things haven’t been that bad around here lately. The way that all of my “shit” usually finds a way to land on my schedule all around the same time, this time it’s the opposite – and I’ve found myself with a chunk of time where I’ve got no doctor appointments, no WC stuff to work on, no immediate need for attorney communications, none of my few friends needing anything from me, etc. πŸ™‚ I’m glad it worked out that way, because Genesee is gonna be in town for a few days starting tomorrow and it’ll be nice to not have to work around any other obligations while she’s here.

The weather isn’t looking ideal for it, but she’s visiting so she can attend the Freedom’s Never Free ceremony tomorrow at the fairgrounds. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ In past years I’ve gone with Toni and her family since they had a flag to place in remembrance of Uncle Rick’s service as well as one for Grandpa Shepherd. But this year, Genesee ordered a flag for her dad, and helped me get one to place for / with my dad as well. 😊 It’s a very inclusive thing… for any branch of the military, it doesn’t matter if the person is alive or has passed, and I think they even said that flags can be ordered and placed for “first responders” like firefighters, police, EMTs, etc.

Hopefully the weather will be tolerable enough that Dad will want to go, but the alternate plan is that me and Gen will still go, take some video, place the flags, and then go visit with him afterwards. And once the flags are purchased, they stay with the organization and are used again in each of the following years’ ceremonies. It’s amazing how many flags are added each year, and I think that even for the folks who don’t care to think about / talk about their service time, it still must be a nice feeling to get some recognition for what they did – even if multiple decades have passed since then.

(Especially for Vietnam vets, considering the reaction from the public that many of them got upon returning home… something that I didn’t truly understand the awful extent of until a handful of years ago.)

But she’ll be in Ohio until Sunday, and we’ve got a couple of small plans for things that we want to do, and then she’s got plans with other Ohio friends as well, but all of it will have to be played by ear due to the weather and the relatively short amount of time she’ll be around compared to her other visits. 😯⏰ But it’s nice that this visit is for something good, and not because of someone passing away, or because I’m recovering from a surgery and need babysitting or whatever. 😏

And I’m a little jealous that she’s getting to fly here and back home. I’ve been watching so many different airline / pilot themed YouTube channels lately… (Mentour Pilot, Captain Joe, VasAviation ATC, 74 Gear, CargoSpotter, etc.) giving myself the itch to take a cheap day-flight down to Florida and back or something, basically just a joyride… but between those videos and having not been on a plane since Jim and I went to Kansas years ago… hopefully she gets a window seat so she can use ReLive to record the path of her flight. πŸ€“Β (Not sure how it’ll handle the speed / altitude as it tries to plot the path on its animated map.)

So today I’m just taking it easy. Not gonna even do any light work around here, ‘cuz a lot of times it doesn’t take much for me to unintentionally screw up my neck, shoulder, or knee to various degrees. πŸ˜• It’s only a few days, so I wanna do what I can to make sure I’m good and can keep up with whatever we end up doing. In fact, she’s actually gonna help me dump the small bags of gravel out by the mailbox, as well as help me take the old mailbox off the post and get the new one installed. πŸ™‚ I could probably manage both of those things by myself eventually, but since she offered… I guess I’ll take the help. πŸ˜•πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I gotta get better at that. Accepting help. Because I’m at the point now, more than ever, where I actually do need help with a lot of things… and more often than I’m currently willing to admit to others and even myself. 😟 Stupid pride. 😏

Usually Unnoticed

No clouds this evening, and I think there’s still at least one “named” meteor shower that’s supposed to be going on, so I went ahead and sat the phone out front for a couple of hours tonight. But instead of grainy long exposure shots, this time I just used Skyflow’s time-lapse video mode, taking a photo every 1/3 of a second, with the “light trail” setting at 20 seconds. The resulting video caught one shooting star at the very beginning, and then a bunch of planes after that. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Nothing impressive, but rather kinda peaceful… 😌

(Video is 4K UHD, 30fps, and best viewed full-screen. I cut out a lot of the “dead air” so it’s mostly light trail stuff…)

Learn To Relax

I know it’s only Thursday, but I think I’m gonna mentally start my weekend now. Had all kinds of horrible nightmares last night, even though I can’t tell you a damn thing regarding what they were about. 😟 I just know that multiple times throughout the night I’d wake up in a sweat from whatever I was dreaming about… I dunno, maybe bits will come back to me throughout the day as dreams sometimes do. Just takes hearing the right word or seeing the right image on TV and stuff can start coming back into view.

So, not much sleep, headache when I finally woke up for good… although at least it’s a normal headache and doesn’t seem related to my neck, so hopefully some Aleve will be able to help with that. I think it’s just the stuff that has been occupying my thoughts for the first part of the week kinda building up… worrying about my friend’s surgery, thinking about and helping out another friend who has a custody hearing today… and then despite doing pretty good at keeping my WC stuff out of my thoughts, struggling while shopping yesterday agitated my frustration – by barely being able to handle a few relatively small bags of dirt and gravel – I think my brain just got a little full, and last night’s dreams may have been a product of that. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Regardless, I’m gonna take it easy today, stay relatively disconnected from the digital world, and probably do a little work around the house. Lawn guys were here yesterday, bills and paperwork have been handled, no appointments to worry about, no calls to make or people to see… so I can just chill here in my bubble and not worry about any of the stuff that might stress me out. 😌 I mean, I’m definitely interested in politics and all of the “goings on” when it comes to all that, but I’m even gonna try to avoid that today… and today sounds like it could be pretty “big” when it comes to potential news. (I’m sure I’ll catch Maddow later, though… I just like the long-form way that she sums up the day’s biggest stories.)

But yeah, just figured I’d go ahead and get some “me time” before the weekend gets here. It’s funny, even though I don’t have a traditional Monday-thru-Friday type schedule since I don’t work anymore, I still feel like I have to justify it to myself if I wanna take a “day off” during the week. πŸ™„πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Hell, even at that, I’m still gonna do some laundry, put away the groceries from yesterday, other light misc chores… and I’ve gotta learn to give myself credit, even for small crap like that, when I’m not feeling great. So, yeah, I’ll probably be a little slower at reading and responding to any messages today… it’s not you, it’s me. 😏

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… 😏

Predicted? Or Jinxed…

Stayed up late last night, not only trying to get some pics of the lightning, but also watching the delayed Southern 500 which didn’t finish until 2am. I had a feeling… wasn’t really sleepy even at that hour, my neck was feeling different, so I didn’t end up falling asleep for good until around 4a – and at that, it was with the idea of trying to “sleep carefully” so I didn’t wake up with my neck feeling even worse. πŸ˜’ It worked, but only because every time I would stir in my sleep, I’d wake up a little too much – making sure that I wasn’t being rough on my neck. Meh… so five hours of not-so-solid sleep… not in the greatest mood today.

And even using a “lightning capture” app to cheat a bit, I still wasn’t able to capture a single decent photo last night. If I didn’t have the ISO and exposure either too high or too low, resulting in images that were too dark or too blown out – the other problem was just the thickness and multiple layers of the clouds. πŸ˜‘ When the lightning wasn’t bright enough it was just obscured by the clouds, and when it was bright enough – it was like a strobe light going off in the middle of a huge ball of cotton. Just no definition.

So I think today I’ll do the bills, catch up on laundry, just general meh stuff around the house. Once the week actually starts tomorrow, that’s when I’ll have to start worrying about oil changes, glasses, haircuts, and all the other “out and dealing with people” stuff… so keeping to myself and just getting some minor chores done around here actually sounds like the most appealing way to spend my time today, believe it or not. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜•

I’m sure as my morning meds kick in I’ll start to feel better, along with mentally feeling better about getting some random shit done around here. πŸ™‚ I’m just never good when I first wake up, especially when I basically predicted last night that my neck would be an issue and that I’d be glad that today was still part of the 3-day weekend. πŸ™„ Just gonna tune the world out as much as possible, put on some music, and do my thing.

Little Things

Believe it or not, I actually slept pretty good last night. Fell asleep almost immediately after I vented about the garage door here in the blog, and slept a solid six hours… which is much better than the current usual. I startled myself when I woke up though, glancing at the security cameras and seeing a car sitting in my driveway – forgetting for a moment that it is my car, and not some rando that had just showed up.

Before my brain had a chance to fully wake up and start fighting me, I grabbed my phone and checked the voice mail from my thyroid doctor. My labs showed numbers that will allow the next step to proceed on schedule, so that was a big relief. Not too much longer now. I know that I’m focused more on just being able to take my thyroid meds again, but that’s because it’s the current pressing concern regarding how I feel.

So I’m looking forward to the radiation and scan, but then even though I’ll be back on my meds and on the way to feeling better, that’s when the focus will be what the test results are going to say. I am starting to get really nervous again… and that waiting time between the scan being completed and my followup appointment with my doctor to let me know what they found… time feels like it runs in slow motion.

But the lawn d00ds actually hit the yard (and the rear weed whacking, without me even having to ask) yesterday while I was out, so I’ll have to run in town sometime today to grab some cash for whenever he comes by and pick it up. And Amy, she has adopted an aging “one of those little white dogs with all the teefs” after seeing posts about it just wandering around in Sugar Grove for days, so I’m gonna drop off the extra set of “pet stairs” that I’ve got, so her new critter won’t have as much trouble getting up on the couch with her.

I’m still internally cringing at going back into the garage to look at the damage and take some pics, but I’ll probably go out and do that first. Already been talking to Gen, since they (by choice) had their garage door replaced earlier this year, to start getting ideas of where and how to look for a good place to handle the project, and how much I might be looking at by time it’s done. So, a few small things on the to-do list today, but as long as I take my time none of it should be much trouble.

I Want Smear

Every now and then I muck around with a new time-lapse app to see if I can get a really “smeary” lighting effect that I want – but for whatever reason I can’t figure the shit out. It makes sense… on a bright day, even at the lowest ISO, you can’t have a long shutter speed because everything will just get blown out. So I try to do it digitally, but you can still see too much clarity in the smears… but still, this is an interesting looking video.

(This should be available at 4k 60fps, but you can at least change to 1080p 60fps up here β†—)

Once it is actually night time you can use much longer shutter speeds and the smear looks like a true smear, so next time there’s a perfectly clear night and decently “full” moon I’m gonna maybe have to try it again – but only after dark. Another option is capturing a sunset (and clouds, and car lights, and plane lights) from Mt Pleasant… but that means, a) climbing the damn mountain, which I haven’t done for a couple of years, and b) hoping that they don’t have those damn LED flood lights lighting up the face of it while I’m trying to do my shit. I’ll have to see if there’s a schedule for when they do or don’t do that.

Oh, and obviously if you lock the shutter and ISO for the brightness of the scene when it starts, you’ll probably get some super dark and super bright parts as clouds pass. The alternative is auto exposure, which causes some off jumping around of the exposure during the video – as well as making the whole thing look considerably less dramatic since the phone is always trying to make the exposure appealing. Meh… this is me, trying to find something fun to do… something to have interest in again. Carry on.