This weekend I was pleased to have been invited with a few other people to go spend a night at the Manastash Ridge Observatory in eastern Washington. It’s about a 120 mile drive away from my house, and we headed out from the Seattle area around 11am on Saturday.
After arriving, we were treated to a great view of the surrounding hills, excellent brats on the grill, cookies at 1am for stargazing, and a great game of cards. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t completely cooperate: high winds (I guess there’s a reason the Wild Horse Wind Farm (pics) is just about 15 miles away) and about 30-40% upper level cloud coverage made viewing conditions less than optimal.
I did finally get a chance to play with some wide angle sky photography. I’m so-so about the results, definitely need to do some more practicing with this stuff:
So while I was visiting the family in Norway this past Christmas, I was shown something outstanding… My uncle had acquired my grandparent’s old Super 8mm video camera. This is the camera they had brought when they came to visit us in the States for the first time, when I was probably 8 or 9 years old. Sure enough – there were tapes. And they got converted to DVD, so I ripped that to a digital format and am starting to convert selected ones to be posted online. Here’s the first:
There’s more to come. It’s interesting to think how these bits have been brought from an old 1970’s format to a current format in a matter of weeks; it’s also fascinating to see the character that these old videos have – there’s just something cool about video cracks and pops that a new HD camcorder just can’t compete with.
The week started off in a downhill slide. As many of you know, Microsoft laid off around 3,000 of my coworkers this week. Fortunately, I wasn’t one of them, but I have a great deal of good friends who were affected by this second round of layoffs. I won’t say too much about it here, but Tuesday really sucked.
On the brighter side, I got some new toys this week. I took advantage of an REI sale on Shimano shoes and bought some clipless pedals for the bike. Today, it’s beautiful out and Diann’s out volunteering, so I hit the road with the bike. Definitely one of my best bike rides to date: went 20.6 miles, from home to the Red Hook brewery (no beer stop this time) and back home, in just over 1.5 hours. That gives me a 12mph average, which is great considering the route home was mostly uphill. Here’s an elevation graph of the ride from home to work, and you’ll see what I mean (click to embiggen):
Now it’s off to get cleaned up, go get a haircut, and then drinks with a friend who’s in town for the first time in months.
Then, later on, the night looks promising for some stargazing. That brings me to the other set of toys I got this week: a new mount for the telescope. 90 pounds of new mount. It’s crazy. Tonight’s not ideal for stargazing (pesky full moon), but I’m going anyway just so I can get familiar with the new gear.
Today the Seattle area was greeted with good weather. Of course, the local Flickr meetup group had pre-planned a photostroll that, of course, was inside. 🙂 We wandered about the downtown Seattle library for approximately 2 hours, taking pictures of the awesome architecture and colors of the building. My photos are here.
Also, got the first bike ride of the season under the belt today. One week until Tour de Lopez!
I won a Call of Duty: World at War tournament yesterday at work that was sponsored by the Microsoft Hardware folks. Yes, we had a CoD tournament at work. They were demoing all their new Sidewinder products and how they actually played, and I took home a large black box. Here’s the unboxing video:
Pretty sweet stuff. I setup the keyboard and mouse today and liked them quite a bit. Even for a productivity setup, the stuff was pretty slick. I need to see about upgrading to the new Sidewinder X8 mouse, though.. I could use the wireless. :) The winning feature is the backlighting on the keyboard – a bunch of my coworkers want to buy them now. I’ll post a video of that tomorrow!
I also hear rumors that there’s a post-victory interview video of me… hopefully my coworkers don’t get their hands on that; I’ll never hear the end of it if so.
Had to run to San Francisco for a one-day work trip this week. Luckily, my work wrapped up a bit early and I was able to go act like a tourist for a bit. Took a drive up to the Golden Gate Bridge, drove and hiked around the Marin Headlands, and had dinner with some friends. SF is a really beautiful and photogenic city. Pics are online at my Flickr gallery here.
Some friends invited Diann & I for a bit of sailing out on the Puget Sound today. The weather cooperated: our first day of the year in the upper 60’s, and beautiful blue skies. Pictures are available in my Flickr gallery and I took the following video using Qik: