End of 2017

2017 has been something of a whirlwind. I suppose my lack of postings reflects that general truth.
This past 10 days we, as a family, have had some good relaxing together time playing games and enjoying our winter holidays without much commitment.

I welcome 2018; look forward to making ourselves better, keepin’-on with the typicals, and discovering some atypicals and unawares.

We made some gingerbread houses.
Gingerbread Family

Gingerbread Houses

Enjoyed our cozy christmas room.
Cozy, comfy, Christmas

The girls powered through a christmas tradition – making cookies.
Christmas Traditionals

And it started to snow…on Christmas Eve! We expected a dusting and awoke to about 5 inches (or half a small dog)!!
Christmas Morning 5" of snow

After we unwrapped presents (before first light) a nice mid-morning nap then we took to the snow. It was perhaps the most perfect packing snow…and I found two square buckets for making bricks.
Behold – 30 years later – another monolith!
Resurrecting the Monolith

The next day – we borrowed a 13foot ladder…
Bring out the gimp.

“forced” some serf’s up to the top…
Old Age and Treachery

and capped our beast off for an official record – it lasted about 15 minutes at this height.
Taller than the house

As I write this, 5 days of rain later, we still have a wee pile in the front yard.

It was a good end to the year.

Action Jackson

Our house was the site of some…er…beautification techniques yesterday.
These techniques were, from the sound of it, rather painful for a 14 year old mermaid.

The younger and, in this case, wiser mermaid heard the caterwauling and jumped up from her deep-seat and motored down the hall proclaiming,

I hear the suffering but I gotta see the action!!

Eclipse 2017

Much has happened – I’ll proceed in reverse chronological order.

Last weekend My Mermaids, me, my Brother, and my Dad all traveled to eastern Oregon, just south of Long Creek in the Malheur National Forest, to bear witness to a fantastic total solar eclipse.

I didn’t set aside much time to plan for *how* I would experience this, my third, total solar eclipse but I knew I had to do it. I continue to be happy that I was able to see it with so much family present.
The rest of the camping trip was extremely enjoyable too.

The younger mermaids got to take nature walks with my brother the botanist, saw some interesting wildlife, and had plenty of food and amenities typically not available to the unprepared – thanks to the elder mermaid.

We all had a good chat right up until the start of the eclipse.

The Mermaids enjoyed some early views of the partial shadow in their pinhole cameras / shadow boxes.
Mermaid in a box

An early attempt at taking quality pics with a peek-a-boo view through my solar glasses. Like I said, I didn’t prepare much but I made up for that to some extent with “photo hacking” and an amazing setting on my camera called Handheld Night Mode. This mode takes several images in rapid succession and, on camera, stacks them together for a crisp, decently exposed shot. It’s not perfect but it tends to work.
Partial eclipse

We were all dumbfounded by the sudden appearance and then rapidly retreating bands in the thin clouds that appeared. Thermal cause? I might submit this image to some experts for some advice.
Strange banding in the clouds at about 50%

Another through-the-glasses shot.
A decent shot at about 70% eclipse

And another – near totality – good crispness on the sun but a massive flare of the glasses. Looks good anyway.
an artifact of my technique (camera through solar glasses)

These artifacts – not through the glasses – were moments before totality and again using the handheld night scene. I like this shot because the green arc shows a reverse image (bounced around in the lense?) of the amount of sun visible in that super bright flare you see bottom right. Other bounced images in the lense is the green blur further up and the red hazy areas around the image.
Also notice the few red pixels top right – that edge of the sun coincides with flares I’ve seen in other images made with higher-quality equipment. Handheld! for the win.
More artifacts seconds before totality

And then totality – my second of two tries – very happy with the results.
Total Solar Eclipse 2017 - LZ

So far, the images I’ve got here have not eclipsed the sense of grandeur I can still recall in my minds-eye when viewing this eclipse with my own eyes. The memory is strong.

We drove down in the wee hours of Saturday morning in ~8 hours and home again on Monday in ~12 hours. Our theme song for the ride home was “Life is a Highway” singing and ‘dancing’ in our cars with a select few of our highway neighbors at an average of 4mph.