Monday, December 14, 2009

Am I a photographer yet?

I usually move all of a given year's photos to my backup drive(s) and burn a copy for "permanent" storage on dvds at the end of the year. I am driven to do this not by a masochistic desire for eternal file shifting or "year in review" sentimentality, but simply to clear room.

I take nowhere near the amount of pictures many do, so keep that in mind. My 2009 stats were:

Pictures (including about 25-30% of duplicate edited versions):

Size on Disk:
75.5 GB

Might need to consider cutting back a little next year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fall-ish Color

We don't get real fall color down here on the Gulf Coast. A few tree species will reluctantly change a hue or two, but none of the blazing fall color of the Adirondacks. We do have some maples (Big-tooth, etc in places like Lost Maples State Natural Area) but they are pretty few and far between.

After 7 years of this, I decided this year THERE WOULD BE COLOR, even if I had to supersaturate pictures to bring it out. Luckily, as winter arrives, sluggish Texas trees finally give way to small burst of color.

SO here is a brief sampling of Texas fall/winter color:

Sycamore fall colors
Sycamores:Maples as non-dairy creamer:milk. But we have to take what we can get.

Sycamore fall colors
More Sycamore color against a bright blue winter sky

Fall color
Sycamore close up

Texas Christmas colors
Bald Cypress against duckweed covered lake. It's about as close as we get to red and green Christmas colors.

More Bald Cypress, with a small bit of colored bird in the middle.

Chinese Tallow fall colors
Chinese Tallow is a nasty invasive, but is one of our few colorful fallwinter trees.

Autumn Color
I'm actually unsure what tree/vine this was from.

But to be honest, the real colros here are the browns and tans and shifting colors of the prairie. A little more subtle, but nice.

Adrift in a Golden World
Prairie grasses with (?)scorpionfly

Last light in Winter Grass
Winter grasses

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's frozen over....

(photo courtesy of Flick user fancy fembot, original viewable here.

Has it been 5 years already?

We got our twice-a-decade dusting of snow today. At first I was pretentiously looking down my nose at the freezing rain, sleet, and slush accumulation that these untrained heathens were calling "snow". (being from northern NY, much like the Inuit, we have 18 words for snow. At least 13 of them are usable in polite society.)

But then as the day progressed and the globs of mush turned into honest-to-goodness snowflakes, I had to grudgingly admit we were getting "real" snow. Now it wasn't a delicate dusting of powder (word 7 for those keeping track, and it wasn't quite a deluge of lake-effect (word 2), but it was reasonably large puffy flakes coming at moderate velocity. It was just a little bit short of a flurry.

Now let me tell you what a treat a 45 minute commute on major highways in shopping season in the snow with drivers who can't handle normal driving let alone loss of traction is. My assumption is that they assumed the white flakes were some manifest wrath of their respective deities, and they were doing their best to OUTRUN them, explaining the ridiculous speeds and subsequent wrecks abounding because of LESS THAN AN INCH OR SO OF SNOW. (dear Houstonians, that last capitalized bit may not convey to you the scorn that it implies to those of us who grow up with snow. Suffice to say that less than an inch barely qualifies as a "dusting". That's April weather, not proper winter snow. So inability to drive in a pleasantly cool spring dusting does not speak well for one's ability to handle snow.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Cheer

Among the rush and bustle and blah of the over-hyped, over-sold, over-blown Christmas season, there are a few bright points...

Winter 6 pack lineup

oh, also, family, peace on earth, etc etc etc.

I is speaking goodly, or, "our friend, the noble comma".

So I have no illusions of being good at grammar, spelling, coherent communication, etc.

However, there is one formal point of grammar about which I think:

1) I'm right with a rightness that is like unto a moral absolute.
2) anyone who disagrees with me is dead wrong. And potentially a communist.

The point in question is the use of commas in a list.

I was always taught in school that when constructing a list separated by commas, that no comma was needed between the second to last item and the "and" that connects it to the last item.

For example, "Justin is awesome, strikingly handsome, erudite and humble without equal."

now there are a LOT of things wrong with that sentence, but I believe the comma use is NOT among their number.

Now before you English majors rise up in revolt, I understand that what seems to be the rest of the civilized world was taught something different. I won't speculate on ythe dastardly purposes for which your instructors felt they needed to pervert logic and have at the English language with the grammatical equivalent of a rakishly wielded cudgel. But for whatever their nefarious purposes, you were taught that the proper end of the example sentence should be as follows:

"...erudite, and humble without equal."

Note the presence of a comma after erudite. In seeming defiance of the "and" that follows it. Now I have never been one to defend any action or idea simply because it was what I was taught to think of as right. An action or idea is right or wrong (or in this case, a challenge to the fundamental liberties we hold dear..) on its own merits.

Toward that point, I offer the following rationale towards the case of omitting the final comma.

1) The commas serve as placeholders for the word "and". So instead of saying "Joe will eat carrots and lettuce and meat and cake", we place commas in the position of the first three "and"s. Therefore:

-"Joe will eat carrots, lettuce, meat and cake." translates to:
-"Joe will eat carrots (and) lettuce (and) meat and cake."
Notice that the last "and" is kept without comma.

2) using a comma before the last "and" is therefore redundant. In the example above, if we were to replace all the commas with "and", including a comma placed before the final "and", we would have redundant "and"s.

-"Joe will eat carrots, lettuce, meat, and cake" translates to
-"Joe will eat carrots (and) lettuce (and) meat (and) and cake."
(notice that the last comma duplicates the purpose of the "and" atthe end of the sentence)

Does this really matter? Well probably not. However, given the righteous indignation I get any time I broach this subject with any of you of the opposing camp, I thought I should make the case:)

As shown, the use of the final comma is redundant. I might also suggest it speaks to a wide-spread international plot against the english language, but that's somewhat harder to support.

All I can say is, "love your country, love freedom and love the proper use of commas in a list."

Anyone who disagrees is obviously on the payroll of the comma industry.