Monday, February 27, 2006

It's only Monday...

Well it is hard to believe that it is only Monday, it feels like it should be the middle of the week! The testing with Denise's camera and new memory card is going well and the camera hasn't failed yet. So right now it looks like it was probably the memory cards. I was even able to take some video without any problems.

Denise and Devin started growing some plants, I think we may try to get some snaps of that over the next couple of days. Everything is already starting to sprout so that's pretty cool.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

RV accessories

Well, I have been wanting to head back down to Lancaster to visit the Young's RV parts store so Desirae and I headed down there shortly after Nana and Max left. They have a pretty good store and I wanted to get some of those lego levelers, chalks, and the cable for my non-working generator. Well, they sold out of the chalks that I wanted to get and they are way back ordered on the cable so I just got the levelers. Oh well. Desirae was nice enough to point out the RV power cables to me.

I also decided to run down to Circuit City to buy a replacement memory card for Denise's camera. It has been dying lately stating memory card problems. Since the cards she was using were really el-cheapo cards I thought that MAYBE one of those SanDisk 1GB Ultra II cards would work better. So far it hasn't failed so maybe it was just the cards. If it isn't then I will have to send the camera back to Nikon for service. I would hate to do that, but either way we need to get it working again.

Well we are ready for our upcoming camping trip next weekend. Right now we are still planing on going to Boulder Creek up near Lone Pine, but we are still up for changing the plans around a bit. The weather is going to be a bit cold, though I think no matter where we go we are going to have that as a problem. We also found a really good online community of "Outbackers", it is a site dedicated to Outback owners and the folks there seem pretty friendly and helpful.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Desirae's 5th Birthday Party...

Desirae came back last night and today was her 5 year old birthday party. Her birthday was actually on Tuesday 21 Feb, but she was still at Nana and Max's house. So today Becky, Analece, and Adreana came over for her birthday party. We didn't have as much planned as last year, but the kids did spend some time in the front playing with the bubble machines that Denise bought a while ago. It is always fun watching kids running around screaming trying to pop bubbles. As usual I took a bunch of photographs and you can find the gallery here!

Well one thing I should mention is it is really nice to have Desirae back home! She had a wonderful time, and if you were following her on my mom's blog then you have read all about it. This was the longest she has ever been away from home and it was really strange not having her around the house. It is neat to hear her singing around the house!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Week is over!

Well this week came to an end rather quickly. Today was also a return deployment party for the folks coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. The unit had a gathering in the afternoon to honor all the folks that have spend the last few months away from their families and in harms way. Fortunately everyone came back safe and sound and we haven't lost anyone. I suppose since this whole thing was to honor those folks coming back I should have posted so pictures of them, but I ended up only posting pictures of the guys from the telephone switch and Capt Barrera. Actually I was really surprised that Dave came because you generally have to drag him to functions like this!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Whirlwind weekend

Well, luckily it was a long weekend! Some of you might have known, or read (not sure), that our plan this weekend was to perform a tow test on the travel trailer we were thinking about buying to make sure the Bronco would be able to drag the thing up to Tehachapi. I was VERY concerned about how the Bronco would actually do and Stier's RV was going to let us tow the trailer before we bought the thing. When we got back from the test tow our sales dude informed us that they had already performed the pre-delivery inspection and that other than detailing and financing we were ready to go. So we gave them a green light to get started, and we went to have lunch... It was a long morning...

I will write more later when I have more time - and I will try to post more pictures this evening. I am running a bit behind right now and need to get ready to get out the door!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Deanna sitting up...

Well it was only a matter of time, but Deanna is now starting to sit up (or stay seated up) on her own. That it's pretty cool!

Desirae is doing fine at Nana and Max's house and seems to be having a lot of fun. I spoke to her last night and she sounded really happy and excited about everything. If you want to follow the Desirae adventures just click over to Canterbury Tales to see what is going on!

I am a little behind on the blog thing. I started back my normal job so I have been getting in the swing of things there. So more to come on that later!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Devin's Birthday Party

Today was Devin's Birthday party, his actual birthday was yesterday. So he invited Gabby and her sister Andrea and Richie over. This was a bit smaller than last year but it was still a lot of fun. Nana and Max came down on Friday night so they were here too. Denise also took an idea she got from Jennifer about getting a long sandwich and stuff from Albertson's so we did that and picked that up today. I think we were worried that we wouldn't have enough food, but we have a lot of stuff left over so it worked out very well!

Devin made out like a champ on the presents and got a bunch of stuff. I can even remember everything he got. Though he and Nana did stay up quite late playing his new Scooby-Doo XBox game. I even played it for a bit until I made myself sick (which didn't take long) so it seems like a pretty good game.

So tomorrow Nana and Max are leaving and they are taking Desirae with them. So Desirae is going to have her own little vacation and then they will bring her back for her birthday party. Desirae has been looking forward, and talking about, this trip for weeks (maybe months) now. I think she is going to have a lot of fun there. Plus next year Desirae will start school so this is the year to do this while Devin is in school.

We are still talking about buying a travel trailer and we might go back into Bakersfield to take another look at the one Denise liked. We have not completely decided to do it yet, but we are seriously leaning that way. Like I said (I think I said) Denise has wanted to start doing this for a long while now (actually she has wanted to camp since we got married) so I think this just might be the way to make it happen.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Mini camping trip - Devin's 7th birthday

Today was Devin's birthday and he is now 7 years old! I offered for Devin and I to sleep in the tent in the backyard. He was REALLY excited about that so we set everything up and went for it. It worked out pretty good and he was really happy about it. Denise took the photograph above as we were getting everything setup and ready to close of the tent for the night.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What kind of bonehead...

...goes on a 400 mile round trip, where most of it has no cell phone coverage, and there are no callboxes anywhere to be found? Ah, that would be me! So I was kind of surprised that I made it all the way home without a blowout or any other problems. So this morning I did some internet searching for new tires for the Bronco and found a set of BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A 31 10.5 15 tires at discount tires. I called them up, they had them in stock, and took $10 off each tire to sweeten the deal. Considering I think the old tires were dangerous I went ahead and drove down there and had them replace them. The top picture shows the new tires on the truck.

Just to prove that I am a goober I took this picture of the tire when they showed one to me to make sure I was getting what I thought I was buying. I am also happy that the noise isn't too much different and the handling is the same. The tires are also bigger than what is stock and what was on it before. They said that size was about as large as I could go without having to replace the wheels.

Since I had some time to waste waiting for them to finish the Bronco I walked over to Young's RV to look at their travel trailers. I wanted to see what they had that I could pull with the Bronco. Denise and I have been talking about getting an RV and we were thinking about maybe switching our target from a motorhome to a travel trailer. That way we would pitch camp and then have the vehicle to drive around (instead of towing a vehicle). Anyway I was really surprised at how nice the travel trailers are and how much space you can get in them. The one I liked, that is Bronco towable, was a Thor Summit 28 foot trailer that can sleep 7 people. It seemed pretty roomy in the trailer and has everything that I think we are looking for. The only thing it doesn't have is a generator, but I guess that is normal for travel trailers. Plus the price is WAY cheaper than an RV. We have to head back into town tomorrow so I think we might stop by there so Denise can take a look at it. We are SERIOUSLY considering getting one.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Death Valley

Well I made it there and back! So this little experiment worked out pretty good. The trip there was quicker than I expected and I am glad I stayed at the Furnace Creek camp ground. The others were VERY primitive and the one I stayed at was the nicer of all the ones I passed on the way. I would like to say I took a ton of pictures but I captured a few things I thought turned out okay. You can find all the images here!

The weather was really nice for the night I was there so the entire camping thing worked out very well. The one thing that really impressed me with Death Valley is how clean it was. Out here (home) there is trash all over the place and there are trails running in every direction. Out there everything was clean and there were no trails anywhere (except for designated areas) and for the most part you had to walk to the different areas to see anything. I have never seen such a clean desert before.

I made the HUGE mistake of taking the Trona way back from Death Valley. I figured a cut over to Ridgecrest would cut down on the trip and save me some time. However, the smell through Trona was HORRIBLE!!! I mean I the entire 15 to 20 miles through it smelled like an open sewer. I don't know why anyone would want to go through that town and I pitty the folks that live there. It was the worst part of the entire trip!

All in all it was a GREAT trip and I am really looking forward to dragging the family out for a camping trip.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Let the boondoggle begin...

Okay, so I have everything loaded up and ready to go... So there won't be a blog entry for a few days... Hopefully I will have some nice photographs when I come back!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ikea Boondoggle

Well, our beach plans fell through because Denise REALLY wanted to go to Ikea. I am not sure if I mentioned this before Deanna was born, but she was really looking forward to a mom-n-me trip there that she wasn't able to attend because Deanna decided to come a bit early. The logistics of the beach trip just wasn't working out either. Besides Denise was happier with this trip so in all everything worked out well. I will say that we were both disappointed with the store and our expectations were much different than from what we saw. Don't take this the wrong way, I mean they had a ton of stuff, but the store just wasn't laid out like we thought it would have been and it was very cramped.

On the way down to Los Angeles we did stop in Palmdale for lunch at Red Lobster. It took a while, but the food was good and it had everyone topped off so it wasn't a problem when we got down to Burbank.

Start of the morning

Well I drug my behind out of bed early to try and capture what I saw yesterday. I got the right view but the conditions were not the same as they were yesterday morning. So it just goes to show that when you see something that you think would make a nice photo STOP AND TAKE THE SHOT! I did get to play around with the new ball head and polarizing filter I bought yesterday.

I am still not sure what the plan is for today. The kids (Devin and Desirae) are up watching cartoons and Denise and Deanna are still sleeping.

Friday, February 03, 2006

For Denise's Mom...

Denise has been bugging me to photograph Deanna with the blanket her mom made for Deanna and I FINALLLY did it. Denise also really liked the fact that Deanna was trying to eat it! So to Pat, thank you very much, and as you can see Deanna is getting great use out of it!

Okay, this is just a stupid shot but I was playing around with my flash unit and new flash meter and had to take a shot of something and Denise didn't want me flashing Deanna while she was trying to get her asleep. I took off part of today (and all of next week) and drove down to Canoga Camera again. As it turned out we were able to work out a deal where they took 2 of my older lenses in trade and I was able to upgrade my light meter to the new Sekonic L358 flash meter. It has a lot more features as compared to my older Minolta Autometer IIIF and I have read really good things about the meter. I also changed the head on my tripod so that should work out nicely too. The only problem today was that they let me see a Nikon D200 that had in the back getting ready to go out. OMG that is a nice camera. The ergonomics is perfect and it feels like a really solid camera.

One thing I can say about that little picture is I really love the lighting from that new umbrella. It is really soft and you can really tell the difference between the picture of Deanna which was taken with a Nikon SB800 with the diffuser dome and the tripod head taken with the AB800.

We are still trying to decide what we are going to do this weekend. At one point we were thinking about taking a trip to the coast, but I think we are going to stick with the original idea Denise had for this weekend which was an Ikea trip. She has always wanted to go there so I think that is what we are going to do. So my plan is to get up early and try to see if I can capture something interesting in the morning, then come back and load everyone up for a LA trip. Should be interesting...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I know...

...lets reload the Mac OS from scratch! I mean it isn't like there is ANYTHING else to do around the house! Boy, what in the world was I thinking. I thought that maybe Mac might benefit from a fresh reload of the OS so I decided to give it a go. The only good thing is I put back in the old drive into the iMac and went from there - so if this entire process BOMBS I still have the last long on the other drive. So far it is going OKAY but it has been a bit stressful. The last time I did this, when I updated to Tiger, everything went really smooth and the Apple backup program was WONDERFUL with the restoration. Well, this time I didn't use the Apple backup program and used SilverKeeper instead. It is working, but it is no where near as elegant as the Apple software (duh). So now I am downloading all the patches and installing all the software. I still haven't done Office but I have Photoshop on the system and I am downloading the updates for iPhoto now so I should be completely back up and operational soon. I just hope that everything on Denise's side works and nothing is clobbered there!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Random shots

I haven't pulled out the strobe for a while and I never did test the new umbrella out so I pulled the equipment out today. The shot I was hoping to get I wasn't able to pull together.

The other interesting thing is the battery on my light meter died just as I was setting up the shot so I had to guess at the exposure. Luckily I am shooting digital so I was able to see the preview and look at the histogram to check the exposure. The funny thing is that I am seriously considering trading some old lenses in for a new Sekonic light meter but I haven't committed to the idea - though I think now I might just do that this weekend.

This shot is kind of the reason that I set up the gear. Denise was holding Deanna and it looked really sweet and I wanted to capture it without an annoying background. But because of where the strobe was I wasn't able to really get the angle I wanted. It is still a cute shot though.