12 years, 7 months and 4 days Ago

In 1998, I was working for Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) and the NASA Payload Data Management Systems group at Kennedy Space Center was one of my customers. I was able to schedule an onsite visit for December, right at the time of a scheduled shuttle launch, and they got me tickets to the turn basin bleachers – about the closest you can get to the launch complex, next to the big countdown clock. The launch was to be about 4:30am on the 3rd, and I was there. A spot of trouble delayed the launch, and had to be rescheduled for the next morning. After a day of work and a bit of sleep, I was there again.

Watching the Endeavour leave the Earth on its way to the International Space Station was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.

It saddens me that the launch scheduled for today will be the final one for America’s shuttle program — as far as the public can tell the final launch for NASA — and that future generations won’t have the chance to be as proud of our nation as I was on that night.

Snow In Alpharetta

This certainly isn’t anything close to the weather that’s been seen this winter by my friends and family in the Maryland & Washington D.C., but it’s more than we’re used to here in the Atlanta area.

snowy bridge

snow on the leaves   Cardinal in the Snow

No Riding Today


College Football

Auburn Tigers Football Stadium

The younger of our two sons is now also off to college, and my wife & I had an opportunity to visit with him on campus of Auburn University this past weekend. We also used TicketCity to get a couple of seats for the football game, and boy are we glad we did! We’ve been to many High School football games over the past years, and we’ve both attended games at other, smaller, colleges. This was, though, our first SEC Football game, and it was quite an experience.

When I first moved to the south back in 1992 I mentioned to my manager that I had seen cars with flags on them, something I’d never seen before. They’re available all across the country now, but back then this was something brand new for me. “You’ve got to understand,” she replied, “in the south everything revolves around Jesus and college football – and on Saturday, Jesus is number two.” She was joking — or at least I thought she was — but for many it really does seem to be the case.

The entire campus was filled with tailgating fans — cooking on portable grills, partying under brightly-colored tents, playing touch football in any open area they could find. I expected to see college students, but was surprised by the number of families; every age range was represented, from the youngest toddlers through oldest alumni.

Mr. Penny, Auburn Tigers fanOur seats were excellent, down near the field, and we enjoyed watching the mascot as he entertained the crowd and took time to greet every youngster he could. We also got to meet “Mr. Penny,” an Auburn super-fan who’s energy was unstoppable. Though rain fell throughout the evening, the fans were energetic and the game was great.

If you have an opportunity to get some tickets to a big-University football game, especially an SEC game, jump at it. I’m told that gameday is similar at the University of Georgia (and other schools), we’re looking forward to a game there in a couple of weeks.

On Light, Or The Lack Thereof

Photography is, when all is said and done, an art in which light is a very important element. Where there is little light, we do what we can to compensate. We use strobes, we use fill lights, we use reflectors — sometimes with good results, but often not.

There are times to just say “the heck with it” and work with what little light exists. My older son played in a benefit concert this weekend, and I have several photos for which I used flash. I’m not as happy with any of them, though, as I am with this shot (for which the strobe did not fire).

James on Guitar

Technically, it’s not a good photo – it’s “noisy,” details are lost in the shadows, and I had to push the exposure and contrast way to far. But in the end, this image best captured his smile and the enjoyment he was having on stage. For me, this is the best picture from the day.

Photo Tag-O-Rama

I participate in two online motorcycling communities, ADVrider.com and Sport-Touring.Net. Many riders on ADV have begun “Tag-O-Rama” or “Photo Tag” games, in which a rider posts a photo of their motorbike in some particular location, along with a few clues, and others try to figure out where it is. The first person to find the location, take a similar photo of their bike there, and post it to the forum gets to pick the next place. And on it goes. It’s all about getting out and riding, finding different roads to travel and new places to go.

So last week, about the same time I’m buying my new motorcycle, in an Atlanta Metro Area Tag-O-Rama, this one gets posted:

Jenna's tag– A lookout of a different kind. “Just in case of fire” was probably written somewhere on it.
– It and the surrounding area was built around 1895.
– It and the surrounding area shares the same name as the family that constructed it way back then.
This “tower” is off a road named after a very colorful bird.

With a little help from Google, I pondered the clues last night and thought I had the rough area figured out, and so I set the alarm a little earlier than I normally would for a Sunday morning. I poked around the Vinings area, staying along the river, and sure enough there it was.

Whittier Mill Park

Whittier Cotton Mill and Village

Btw, if you’re a rider in the Atlanta area, here’s what I posted as the next tag.

the tag I posted for others to find

– Annually, this city and this organization host a parade to honor those who have served in years past.
– On the grounds owned by this organization are both relics to remind and boys of summer.

If you’d like to participate, come join in the forum and have fun.

A Ride to Milledgeville

It was a beautiful day and I got out of the office a little early; we’d moved my son into his college apartment this past weekend but he’d forgotten a couple of little things — a perfect excuse for a ride. I took a camera along but of course didn’t take as many pictures as I’d like, but anyway… I took the GPS along; here’s the track (and clicking on it will get you the real map).
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Once out of Atlana’s traffic, the country road opened up nicely.

The Road Ahead

There was quite a delay near the town of Oak Hill, with traffic stopped due to road resurfacing. That was a little frustrating, but I was fortunate to be stopped in the shade of a large tree, right next to a couple of beauties set out on display:

For Sale
47 Ford for sale

Without too much delay things got moving again. I just happened to look down at the instrument panel at the right moment and had to stop for a photo.

Passing Through a Milestone

It was a beautiful afternoon passing through the countryside, crossing Lake Sinclair…

Jackson Lake, GA

…and passing through small towns. Here’s Monticello:

Monticello GA

Monticello GA Town Square

I did get to Milledgeville and had a nice dinner with my son and got on the way back home as the sun was going down. I’d passed an example of a cultural icon, the small country church, on my way and wanted to be sure I stopped on the way back. I hadn’t noticed the power lines; I need to find another one that’s without “modern” visual obstructions.

St. Mary Baptist Church

I’d started out about 3:30pm and returned home at about 10:45, it was a long day including work before the ride and dinner in the middle. Long but very satisfying.

From the Parade

“The City of Alpharetta and the American Legion Post 201 will hold the 56th Annual Old Soldiers Day Parade. The parade is just one way that our country’s war veterans are recognized for the service. The Old Soldiers Day Parade began years ago as a tribute to veterans of the war between the states, but was discontinued after a few years.Twenty–eight years later, in 1952, a small group of men in Alpharetta re-dedicated Old Soldiers Day Parade in Alpharetta and started having a parade through downtown Alpharetta. Thanks to these few men and their belief in keeping this memorable tradition alive, this parade has become an annual celebration to all veterans of all wars.” — City of Alpharetta website

An American Dog Quietly Making Her Point

American Legion Riders

Pre-Parade Do Not Smile

Color Guard

Warriors of Tomorrow Warming Up

Milton Drumline

There are more photos from the parade over on flickr.