Copyright Notice

Thursday, December 26, 2013

More Italy with the Panny 20mm 1.7

Moto Morini at a flea market in Assisi
Panny 20mm 1.7 @ f/2
More scenes from Italy made with the Panny 20mm 1.7 :

Friday, December 20, 2013

Faster than a speeding bullet...

Well, maybe not quite that fast. But rocks and bugs and such coming at you on the road can catch you unawares, and the proper gear can really make your day...
I never saw it coming, and still don't know what it was. But I certainly heard it hit me. I assume it was some stone flying off a vehicle's tire. This is why full-face helmets rock, boys and girls. This was nothing more than a blip, barely caught my attention. I can assure you the experience in an open-face helmet, or none at all (yikes) would have been very different.

The force of impact took a good, deep chunk out of the helmet's finish, down to the composite layer.
Glad it wasn't my jaw lovely visage remains intact

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Italy Highlights...

I thought I'd share a few select photos from my recent trip to Italy, many made with my recently acquired Panasonic Lumic G 20mm/f1.7, and all made with the Olympus EPL-2...

Altar of the Fatherland Monument, Rome
St. Peter's Square from the cuppola of St. Peter's Basilica
Michelangelo's Pieta, in St. Peter's

Dome of St. Peter's across the Tiber from Ponte Sant'angelo

Foro Romano at night, from above the Portico Dii Consentes

Growing thunderhead above Ponte Vittorio, Rome

Santa Maria Del Fiori from Giotto's Campanile (belltower)

Benedictine Church of St. Peter in Assisi

Piazza del Campo, Siena, from atop the unfinished 14th c. extension wall of the Duomo

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Today's Photo...

A venerable R90/6 on Duke's West Campus
December 10th, 2013
Lumix G 20mm/F1.7 @ f/2.0 (that's one sharp lens)

Monday, October 21, 2013

NC State Fair with the Pana 20mm

1/6 @ f/5.6
We got a small window of freedom last Sunday, which allowed us a very, very short visit to the State Fair. I brought along my new Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens to get used to using it as my new walk-around lens.
Overall, I was pleased with the experience, even though using this lens will certainly take some getting used to. The format (fixed focal length, 40mm equiv) was ideal for walking around, just wide enough to show context in most photos, but not too wide as to cause noticeable distortions. The most problematic things were the slow auto-focus in dim light, and remembering that I now would have to resort to "zooming with my feet" to properly crop what I wanted to see.
My resulting photos weren't too interesting, as I wasn't "shooting" the fair, but simply using it as an excuse to experiment with the new lens. Still, from a technical standpoint, most turned out just fine.
A small gallery follows:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ah, the smell of leather in the morning...

"Found" image from Google Images, chosen
because my best memories of motorcycling
include having Pillion along.
For quite a few years now, my riding apparel has consisted primarily of textiles, and mesh/vented textiles at that. Living and riding in the Southeast, there are many, many more warm humid riding days than there are dry, cool ones; so mesh technology has been a great boon to my increased riding comfort. While trading off the ultimate protection of road-grade leathers, armored textile riding gear still provides very good protection, while also being much lighter, cooler and in some cases, more waterproof than leather.
But with the cooling temps approaching as we head into fall (my favorite season by far!), I pulled out my old classic Schott "Perfecto" leather jacket for the last few rides. Still fits great, and the sheer weight and thickness of it makes me feel invincible, like I'm wearing mithril from middle earth. But the best part is the smell of it as the jacket heats up in the sunlight. That classic leather smell, mixed with the aroma of burning petrol as I cut a few curves this morning, took me right back to my early riding days, learning to ride and wrench on my '78 CB750. The feel and smell of the Schott, and the memories it revives, and the very experience of remembering, are just more reasons I love riding.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Today's Photo...

Well, taken yesterday actually...
Magnolia Cone, Sept. 9th, 2013.
Duke University Campus

Monday, September 9, 2013

Milling around...

Waterwheel detail from Yates Mill
Took Pillion and the FJR out for a spin to central North Carolina to visit the historic Yates Mill. Here are some photos from that trip:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Saturday's ride to Pittsboro

Pittsboro Courthouse, restored after a fire a couple of years ago.
So, while I was good about getting some long overdue work done in the library Sunday after church (yes, I worked on the sabbath, but it was after going to church, so that's okay then, right?), I did manage to slip in a quick ride with Pillion down to the small town of Pittsboro, NC the day before.
The weather was miraculous for August in NC - mid 70's and low humidity. Here are some more photos from the short trip:

Shelving the shelves...or, Library Part 6

New oak panels to replace the old Birch ones
Wayyyy back in early March of this year, I got bogged down choosing stain colors for the trim in the library I'm building. While I had originally thought I'd have it all finished by sometime in April, here it is going on September, and I've not worked on this much at all in the 5 months or so since.
In the interim, I had decided to solve the staining issues I had been having with the pine and birch I had originally spec'd - splotching, unevenness, and mis-matched coloring - by ditching the birch and pine trim altogether and starting over with oak instead.

Stain tests on the old problematic birch plywood. Even tho' careful sanding and chemical pre-treatment
cut down on the blotchiness, once I switched the edge-face trim to oak, I'd never get this to match...
Of course, I had all the larger trim surrounds for the window, door and window seat already cut and ready to stain in Birch, so switching to oak meant additional purchases, and trimming/fitting all the pieces anew, not to mention now I have all this Birch trim I can't use.
in a fit of motivation, I was able to purchase, remeasure, cut, trim, sand and stain all of the trim surrounds in oak in a single day:
After sanding, the oak faced plywood took the final stain very well with good grain detail
The oak performed as I had hoped - it sanded easily in one step, took the stain well, and in a matter of a few hours I had all the pieces I needed to face the window and door surrounds in the Library. And since the shelf edge-facing will be of the same red oak, they should end up matching exactly.
The remaining steps on these surrounds will be to apply several coats of semi-gloss varnish, lightly sanding with 300 grit between each coat, then glueing/nailing them into place.
I'm still on the fence on whether to rebuild the window seat from scratch in oak, rather than the birch its currently in, but as that's a big expense to rebuild, I'll have to think hard and long on that one. If I leave it in birch, perhaps I'll think about staining or painting it a contrasting color to the oak, rather than trying to match it.
In the meantime, I also have a front tire for the FJR to save up for, as well as a battery for the GB500, and a trip to Italy in the fall...
Seems completing the library may have to wait on the backburner for a little while longer.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Commuting as best I can...

This RR bridge lies at the bottom of a left downhill turn, with a tight right-hander just beyond...
and adds just a bit to the commuting goodness...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Today's Photo

August 7th
(20D, 24mm f/2.8)
Every day brings a gift. Yesterday, this was part of a gift to me...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R

The small lens with the big name...
I recently ordered a new lens for my Olympus Pen rig - the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R. While its name is big, this small lens is also proving to be a big bang for the buck. Here are my first impressions of this small and cheap ($150) lens for Micro four thirds...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Beach Trip: no bike, all burn...

Daytrip to Kure Beach, NC
June 22nd, 2013
Pillion and I managed to get away for the day out to Kure Beach, NC. Its a flat slab of a drive to the beach, so absolutely no reason to take the bike. And it rained just about the whole drive there. But when we arrived, the clearing storm made for a very nice and visually interesting time on the beach.

Kure Beach Pier and sky
June 22nd, 2013
I'm not at all a beach person, much preferring the mountains. The beach feels to me like its all about the power of creation and rebirth. The mountains feel like the power of the ages, the timelessness of eons, of the power of rain, rock, reformations and metamorphosis rending their effects on the very core of the earth. Perhaps its this sense of the ages I appreciate more than the newer sense of rebirth I feel at the beach. To each his/her own, but it explains why its been ages since we've been to the beach, so it was high tide, time.
Even though I hid out under the umbrella you see in the first shot for most of the day, I got pretty lobster'd by the sun anyways in places where I missed the sunscreen. Lesson learned...again.
Sky was nice tho'...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Connie's new adventures...

Greg at the helm of Connie
If you've been following this blog for awhile, you'll remember that I broke down and sold my beloved Kawasaki Concours late last year (link). Recently, I received an update from her new owner, Greg, about his and Connie's new adventures. Above is a photo Greg sent of them both setting out on an Iron Butt attempt, 1000 miles in 24 hrs. They look heroic, don't you think? Especially because they're setting out in the rain.
I think its awesome Greg attempted this, its an inspiration to me to get out and ride more often than the mere commuting I find myself relegated too so often. And its nice to know Connie is still out there, and is still creating memories and smiles with someone who deserves her.

Today's Photo

Magnolia bloom
Duke gardens, June 12th, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Weekend Ride

Looking up, in Floyd Va.
So, after having sorted out replacing the rear tire on the FJR (See: Tyred...), we headed out Saturday for  the Parkway, and Virginia SR8. We tried to hit Fairy Stone State Park for rock hunting (that was a big BUST, boys and girls, so we plan to attempt this again), Floyd Virginia for a looksee, and Morrisette Winery to finish the day off before heading home. Its was chillier than I expected, never above the mid-sixties, and dropping to around 54 degrees around Woodwine on SR8, before climbing back to the mid-sixties as we headed home on the slab later.

Famous Tuggles Gap Restaurant, on SR8 at the Blue Ridge Parkway
Our first destination was Fairy Stone State Park to hunt for the famous "Fairy Stones". We were told the best place to hunt was at "Haynes 57" convenience store that adjoined the park, as we headed out to go find him. Trouble was, he wasn't on our map, pillion was quite cold, and since I looove stopping and asking for directions... Also, it was getting later than we wanted due to a very late start to the ride, so we resolved to suspend looking for fairy stones and head on out to Floyd for lunch, a looksee, and try to make it to the winery before they closed.
On the way to Floyd, we passed Tuggle's Gap Restaurant and motel, famous for being motorcycle friendly and for good home cooking. As it was well after 2 o'clock, we ducked in for a bite and were not disappointed.

After a nice lunch, we had to have the obligatory Apple pie, even tho' we're not riding a Goldwing
After leaving Tuggle's Gap, we headed into Floyd, a mere 8 miles up the road. I had been to Floyd Va. once before on a recent ride up SR8 with Dad, but this was a nice revisit with Pillion, as we took more time to explore, and felt less rushed for time now that we had eaten and were feeling better. Amazing what a little pie can do.
Floyd is best known for its Country Store, Friday Music nites and recording sessions of Blue Grass and Old Timey music.

Stage in the store for concerts and recordings - we just missed a 3 hr jam session...
The store has been around since 1909, and has a nice old time feel...and a cafe where we scored lemon bars and coffee

Other scenes in Floyd...
Trying to make a connection to Andy Griffith? There was also a Mayberry Funeral Home. Hmmmm...
General Hardware Store
The "Republic of Floyd" carries more beer selections than Blue Light in Durham, NC!
Floyd County Courthouse
On the BRP, near SR8 and Floyd, leaving Floyd and headed to the winery
Yeah - its a photo of a sign...
We made it to Chateau Morrisette just in time for the very last wine tasting! Since I was piloting, no wine for me...well, I did have a few teeny, tiny tastes of what Pillion was sampling from time to time:

Some other folks enjoying a wine tasting

Pillion perusing the gift shop - we were able to fit all the wine she bought in the sidecases, just.
Part of the Winery - they have a very nice restaurant too.
So, while we were both disappointed to have abandoned our search for Fairy Stones, it was a nice pleasant ride, with lots to do and see for Pillion, and lots of curvy roads for me to break the new rear tire in on. Note to self - next "big gift" for pillion has to be a heated vest.
After returning from our ride on Saturday, we buckled down for the rest of Memorial weekend to attend to neglected house and yardwork (booo). But after a long day in the garden Monday, we treated ourselves to a short ride out for Sunset and Ice Cream at Maple View Farms:

The parking lot is often full for sunset viewing from the front porch of Maple View Country store.
Except for the cars, this is a nice shot of the bike I think.
Out of Waffle Cones?! Oh well, had to settle for a styrofoam cup, as I hate those sugar cone abominations
Don't know as if its the sunset that makes the Ice Cream so memorable here, or the Ice Cream that makes the sunset seem so spectacular. Its a good thing you don't have to choose, just eat and enjoy...