Sunday, January 31, 2016

This is Why ...

... I can't have nice things.

Patty's brother Doug and his wife gave us a drone for Christmas (we had dinner with them yesterday).

A Syma X5C Explorers to be specific.

The very helpful (helpfulness not included) manual, which did have all English words, informed me that:

"This R/C flying model is a high dangerous commodity." 
"Keep it far away from the barrier or crowd."
"Keep it far away from the moisten environment."
"Keep it far away from the high-speed rotating part and heat source."
"Use this product correctly and avoid operating by your own."

Never-the-less it is a very nice piece of kit. And the info I found on the web was all positive, repeatedly stating it was a perfect choice for the first time pilot. A mid level model at an entry level price. So I charged up the battery and headed out to give it a go.

And it started well, we have liftoff (click "liftoff" to see)!

But it was all downhill form there.

Nowhere in the manual did it mention anything about snow.

Although it did help cushion the crash.

Nor were there any warnings about trees.

See it up there (look for the green lights in the center tree)?

And there it remains, it's lights blinking forlornly, battery slowly draining, its motors not strong enough to disengage it from the snare of branches. And me down here, powerless to do anything but wait for the next wind storm.

The manual states that you get seven minutes of flying time on a fully charged battery. I think I got three minutes before my Charlie Brown moment occurred.

But I can't wait until I get it back.

Cat in a Sink

Our cat Max likes the bathroom sink.

Makes no sense to us either.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Snow Day

As seen on TV, we had a blizzard!

Approximately two feet of snow over the past weekend. The storm began Friday evening and lasted into the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Snow Garden
But by the time we woke it was sunny out.

Now we have a rather long driveway ...

Piney Plow

... but by using the "Piney Plow" method, I drove back and forth in my 4-wheel drive SUV to keep it clear ...


.. and it worked!

For my car anyway ...

Patty in Action!

... Patty's Prius on the other hand ...


... needed a bit more help. Fortunately the Philadelphia School District canceled school Monday and Tuesday. And the sun helped reduce the cubic meters of snow needed to be removed before car could meet road.

But there was plenty of other shoveling to do.

As we needed paths on the deck to get to the garage and to the bird feeders.

I didn't spend all my time shoveling however, I looked around. And took pictures.

Here we have some bird tracks under a cedar tree.

Zooming out we see that this is the only area where we see tracks.

Why?  It is not clear why the birds concentrated here and not all along the edge. There are sweet pepper bush plants all along the edge to the parking area. So what was special about the cedar?

Damm Deer
Deer also visited, curiously coming through the wood and not across the open front yard.


It's now been several days since the storm and while there is still snow on the ground life is back to normal. In fact, by us, the roads were clear Sunday afternoon.

I know the roads were clear because I had to go to Philadelphia to do this:

Photo courtesy Patty Rehn
And the sad part is that I put this snow here, having thrown it from the deck three stories up. Yep, I shoveled this snow twice. Lucky me.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Snow Day

It's all fun and games until ...

(Should have stayed under the car ...)

Snow Day

Tracks under my car.

Silly birds, (most likely Juncos) there is no food there!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Snow Day

Shadows and light. And snow!

I never seem to catch the color in the sparkles. :-(

Saturday, January 23, 2016


In the previous post I mentioned that we had over two hundred birds in the yard at one point. Mostly grackles.

Common grackles to be specific.

And this is what 200+ common grackles look like in our yard.

The sharp eyed among you will see that there are also red-winged blackbirds and brown-headed cowbirds mixed in the flock (along with the twenty plus other species we had visiting our feeders today).

But the majority were grackles.

Bigafy the image below and look at all the black birds in the trees.


This is a shot I took earlier this month, two miles from our home, one morning on my way to work.

There are huge flocks in the area. I've driven passed flocks that stretch for over a quarter mile along his road.

I wonder where the rest of them were today?

Snow Birding with Max

We woke this morning to a yard filled with snow. Eighteen inches or so, and still falling.

And birds. Lots of birds (you can see then on and below the feeders in the background).

Which got Max very excited! Note the tucked back ears.

On the other hand, the birds were not all that excited by Max.

"Why won't they play with me?"

At one point we had over two hundred birds in the yard, mostly common grackles. Max was captivated. And spent almost the entire day on the window sill.

Or in his cat chair.

The birds came and went, paying no mind to poor Max.

Max Eye View
Food being much more important than a predator inches away during a blizzard.

We spent much of our day at the window as well. Watching animals inside and out.

(And eating grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup. Very yummy!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Nothing But The Best ...

... for world travelers like us.

Alas, it was closed for cleaning when we were there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Has arrived. After a lengthly delay, the cold has come. And that means crystalline dihydrogen monoxide in all it's wondrous forms!

Ice is forming on windows.

It even snowed last night.

Although as you can see, there was no need to get out the shovel.

Stay warm and enjoy the show!

Monday, January 11, 2016


In my latest OPOD there was an accompanying image illustrating birefringence.

On our trip home from Florida, while flying over the Everglades, I was, as is my custom, taking pictures out the window. This time of the cloud formations and their reflections in the water below.

And I captured this image:

Which appears to show the same phenomena. Cool.

And here is a shot of the cloud reflections in the waters of the Everglades. Note the airplane flying below us.

It was a fun but all too short trip.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Alas, my camera could not keep up, the continuous shooting mode kept filing the buffer.

It was bright, loud and fast.

Here is a link to short video.

Maybe Santa will bring me a faster camera next christmas.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

More Fireworks

After disposing properly of the obvious bad shots (the ones where I kicked the tripod and such) I was still left with 438 shots.

Here are a few I liked.

I hope you liked them too.

(And be thankful I didn't post them all!)