Month: January 2009

The Cooper’s Hawk Incident….

I am quite sure many of you have heard the unfortunate sound at least once of a thud against your home’s picture window if you have one. That thud usually signifies that a bird has crashed into the window. Unfortunately many of us fail to take that step of protection on behalf of our feathered friends and put a screen covering over those picture windows. One afternoon this past summer I heard that ominous thud….but a thud times one-hundred. I immediately had a sinking feeling because I was pretty certain it could only mean one thing. I went to the window expecting to see lying under the window a Robin or even a Blue Jay, given the loudness of the sound. But no……there on my front porch right under the window was a mature Cooper’s hawk looking up at the window with a look of complete puzzlement. He seemed to be okay but there was obviously no way I could really know at that moment.

I immediately went scurrying off to the next room to get a camera in the hopes I could get a photo or two documenting this incident, as hopeless as accomplishing that task might sound. I decided it best to try and get photos from the inside of the house through the window rather than trying to go outside where I would surely startle and perhaps cause him to further injure himself since I had no idea as to what injuries the hawk may have sustained.

I returned immediately with the camera and found the hawk still just sitting there right below the window continuing to stare up at the window with bewilderment. I then snapped my first photo which seemed to clearly capture the moment.

686 - Coopers Hawk 01

He then began slowly pacing back and forth under the window while continuing to look up at the window with that puzzled look. The hawk seemed to be completely transfixed on the window and what had just occurred. You could almost see the wheels turning as he tried to figure out the situation. It also seemed from my vantage point that he had not sustained any type physical injury. He then hopped up on the bottom wrought iron porch railing an continued to peer upward toward the window at what had to appear from his perspective as a very large black whole since my windows are very dark in appearance.

686 - Coopers Hawk 02

The hawk then leaps from the railing down to one of the landscape timbers serving as a flower bed border located below the porch as if to get a better view. He continued to scan the window for some explanation of his situation.

686 - Coopers Hawk 03

Then comes the real surprise. You would think at this point, barring injury of course, that the hawk’s curiosity had run its course and off he would go. But no! The hawk then flies back to the top of the wrought iron railing where he sits face to face with the window and for another two minutes or so continues to gyrate and glare into the window with intense curiosity.

686 - Coopers Hawk 04

686 - Coopers Hawk 05

Finally the hawk flies up into the nearest oak tree. But for a bit appears to contemplate the events of the last ten minutes or so glancing back down at the window before finally taking wing.

686 - Coopers Hawk 06

It was so interesting to watch the hawk and it was almost as if you could visualize his thought processes. It was perhaps so intriguing because I guess you would expect most birds to immediately fly off, if able of course, but the hawk actually seemed to be working on his own ‘crash analysis’ with regard to the incident.

Another “Top Ten” Senior Moment….

Alright now, let me see if I can set this up for you properly so that you can appreciate the event. As everyone knows these days, especially my elder compatriots, seniors are oft times getting a bad rap for being technically challenged when it comes to remote controls, cell phones or even those cordless telephone wonders.

Having said that, I have been having problems with my Comcast cable, right? You know about that kind of stuff. So this past Saturday as I was sitting in my little computer room, I decide it is time to call and duly complain about my problem.

Now I get a really pleasant and cordial Comcast representative with whom to discuss my problem with. At the close of my gory dissertation with regard to my problem, the representative tells me that she needs to send a signal to my Comcast DVR from her location to see if it is responding to incoming information as it should.

I say fine and am fixing to put my phone down and walk into the living room where the television is located when I realize that my phone is cordless and I can take it with me and have this discussion while sitting in front of the television. Right?

Now…. let me interrupt this story briefly with a brief detail about me and my telephone relationships. My new Panasonic Cordless Telephone is relatively new as I have just recently converted from the old standard plug-in-the-wall push-button style telephone to the more modern technology. So I still haven’t gotten quite use to the fact that I can carry it around the house with me and it still function properly. My poor little brain still thinks it has a cord. I spend little time on the phone since most of my communication requirements take place via email these days. So my ‘learning by repetition’ is still a work in progress. Okay now, having gotten that straight, I’ll continue with the story….

So….there I am sitting in the living room watching to see if my television is reacting to the signal being sent by the Comcast representative on the other end of the phone. “Nada!”, I tell her….”It still is not working properly!”

At this point, she says that what she needed me to do was to unplug my Comcast DVR from the wall, wait approximately thirty seconds, and then plug it back in and to let her know what I am, or am not, seeing on the television after complying with her instructions.

Okay, that is all simple enough right? I lay my relative new Panasonic Cordless Telephone down on the table and proceed with the given task. After plugging the DVR back in and turning the television back on, I walk back over to the table, pick up the telephone and began describing what I was seeing on the television. After about a 15-20 second dissertation on the observed results, there was absolutely no response whatsoever from the person on the other end of the phone. As is normal in these situations, I said, “Hello…..Hello!” But still no response!

At that exact moment, after uttering an explicative or two, I was seriously considering the act of throwing the telephone across the room for being put on “Hold”, or even worse….being hung up on! I looked briefly at the telephone in my hand as if to give it last rites and let her fly when the epiphany occurred. It was the stark realization that I had been talking into the DVR remote control rather than my new look-alike high-tech, cordless, can go anywhere, telephone. Well…..after all, you have to admit there is an eerie similarity between the two and they definitely feel the same when you’re holding one up to your ear!

So….I have now created an identification placard to attach to the refrigerator which will insure that until I get intimately familiar with my new cordless Panasonic Portable Telephone, I will never have to endure another embarrassing senior tech moment. I’m still wondering if the Comcast representative heard me jabbering away into my remote control.

Senior Telephone - Remote ID 05

PS:…..I suppose for clarification purposes I need to say to my elder friends, who sometimes get upset at unfounded accusations hurled their way with regard to being technically challenged, that I had one of two choices available to me in formulating the cause of this incident. It was to either define the event as a “senior moment” or….. leave the public to draw their own conclusions, perhaps even making it personal. I rest my case!

Photographing With A Scanner….

A little over a year ago while jettisoning myself through Cyberspace I happened upon some artistic work by Marsha Tudor. It was quite striking and unusual in origin. I thought initially that I was looking at photographs that surely must have been taken with quite an expensive camera and accessories. But to my ultimate amazement I found that these photographic creations were made with the use of a scanner similar somewhat to those you and I might use with our computers. I should also mention that this technique is also referred to as ‘”Scanography“.

Unlike any of Marsha’s artistic work, I actually tried the technique on a few personal things for myself, just out of curiosity. Featured below is a scan of the inside of my grandfather’s old pocket watch. The detail is quite striking. I really liked it because using the scanner you could get a very large image which allowed me to read some of the engraved printing that I would have had difficulty with otherwise. Be sure and click on the image to see it in a much enlarged version.

Grandfathers Watch - 01aInside of Grandfather’s Pocket Watch (click to enlarge image)

I also tried scanning a couple of other smaller items to include a small lapel ’service pin’ from a former employer.

Simplex Longtivity Pen - 2 YearSimplex 2-Year Longtivity Pin

My scanned items are, of course, nothing in comparison to the artistic works created by Marsha to say the least. But it helped educate me to a very small degree as to how this technique might work. And if you have some items that you would like good “photos” of you might try this technique yourself. But a WARNING! Be careful “not to scratch the glass on your scanner” or the scratch will then appear in anything you scan in the future. I just make sure I don’t let the top of my scanner touch what I am scanning if it is of a material such as metal that could scratch the glass.

A link to Marsha’s gallery has been located on my sidebar of this blog and you really need to drop by and spend some time looking at her creations. You won’t be disappointed. And while you are there be sure to read her featured biography to learn more about her creations.

PS….I would like to thank Mary Miller for dropping by and leaving her comment in the comment’s section of this post. I visited her site, Scanner Magic , and found it extremely informative on the subject of scanography so I wanted to make note of that in this post in case this technique strikes a fancy with anyone. She certainly provides an abundance of information and tutorials for anyone possibly interested in trying their hand at some scanography.

An “Out-of-Border” Experience….

I had my first ever “out-of-border” experience several months ago. And what is that you might ask? Well, it’s a technique that revolves around the manipulation of a graphic image, usually a photograph, using a software program such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel’s Paint Shop Pro. Via the process you create an image where a portion of the image appears to be outside a frame or border which you also add to the original image. It gives the illusion of being a 3-D photograph if you will. Since, as always, a picture is worth a thousand words below you will note an original photograph and then directly below the same image where the technique has been applied. I secured permission to use the original photo shown below from photographer Igor Siwanowicz because I thought it would lend itself so well for the application of the technique.

My_brother__s_1st_blade_by_Blepharopsis(Before….) (click on image to enlarge)

My_brother__s_1st_blade_by_Blepharopsis - OOB(….After) (click on image to enlarge)

But let me address an issue of some concern to me personally. As it turns out, most folks use an acronym when referring to the technique which is “OOB”. To further complicate my original search on information about the technique, I found that some folks refer to the acronym as standing for “out-of-bounds” while others refer to it as meaning “out-of-border”. Go to one of the more popular photo-hosting sites such as Flickr or PBase and do a search on ‘OOB’, ‘out-of-bounds’, or ‘out-of-border’ and in all three cases you will come up with photos that have had the subject technique applied. I fail to understand why there can not be one name – one technique! I love to invent words as much as the next person, but at least I check and see if one already exists. Yea, I know….”Bitch, bitch, bitch!” But that is one of my pet peeves.

I can only imagine the ensuing debate and/or discussion should one decide to take it upon themselves to try and resolve this “double definition” of the same technique. But for me it is quite simple I’m afraid. In all my experience with graphics and photography, I have never, ever heard the term “bounds” used to describe some part of a photograph. I have, on the other hand, heard thousands of times the term “border” used with regard to the same.

And while I am up here on my soap box just one more brief word about techniques in general….any technique. Most have appropriate applications but then they also have their inappropriate applications. I have from time to time heard an artist or craftsman say that such-and-such a technique is really nice….but it is “over used” in the particular application. I think “misused” rather than “over used” is the more definitive word. In photography especially with the advent of digital cameras and associated software, numerous manipulative techniques have come into being but the large majority are used on subjects just for the sake of using the technique. Certainly such is the case with the out-of-border technique. With most of the “OOB” photos I have encountered the majority have had the technique applied for the sake of the technique and not because of the artistic enhancement it adds to the original.

In closing let me share yet one more image if I may. I also took one of my favorite “Petography” photos and applied to technique also and was relative pleased with the results.

German Shepard 02(click on image to enlarge)

Remembering that Science Fair project….

There are at least a few instances in each of our lives needless to say that will always bring a smile to our faces as our minds wander back to those perceived better times. And sometimes they may warrant a special acknowledgement by us for the pleasure they bring.

Such is the case with me and my first encounter with the dreaded science fair project. If your school day memories bring back familiar occurences that seem to plague you with moments of horror, then I can honestly say that for me this was indeed one of those occurences.

I have added the story related above in “The Dawdler’s Writings” section of my blog in “pdf” format.

“The Dreaded Science Fair Project”By Alan Ginocchio

I am reasonably sure there are a large number of folks who can recall from their school days the dreaded ‘science fair project’ and all its grandeur. It’s your first year in high school and you have already heard the nasty rumors. Much of the talk is about a certain science teacher who, with regard to science fair projects, may have actually buried non-participating students somewhere on the school grounds or of students who were failed for their science project results or in some cases….even for the lack of a project.

Now in my own defense, academically speaking, I was not an ‘A’ student, nor a ‘B’ student for that matter. Having, however, said that to emphasize that the thought of having to deal with some school project outside of the classroom was extremely distasteful. When it came to academics, I was, let’s say, lackadaisically irreverent.

Then the day comes when I’m sitting there in my science class irrevocably consumed by one daydream after another when the silence is broken as if someone has shattered every window enclosing the classroom with that deafening explicative – “science fair project”!

And then the teacher breaks into that speech that he must have been giving for the past century or two…

“Class, it’s time to choose a science project for this year’s school science fair and you have until such-and-such a date to complete it. Since this will be your first year for participating in the event, I am handing out a list of science projects that may be of interest to you or hopefully you will be innovative and come up with one of your own. Remember that your science project will count toward 60% of your grade for the grading period in which it is due. Individuals who do not turn in a project will get an “F” for the grading period.”

Your first thoughts, of course, after the shock of it all are followed immediately by a welcome sigh of relief when you realize that the deadline is a whole three months off. I mean, what is that in teenager’s time? Two….maybe three years! No sweat!

And so as in previously referenced teenager time – time passes. One year….then two years….then three years….then panic! It is one week until science fair weekend and the teacher informs the class that they will be expected to set up their individual projects during the morning hours this coming Saturday in the school auditorium and the judging will begin on Monday evening. The jigs up!

Now during the passing of all this time you have heard almost on a daily basis what this classmate is doing and or that classmate is doing. Some are using words you have never heard before in your brief lifetime. Others will be bringing science projects to school in the back of a pickup truck. And me? I have just realized that I am in deep ‘report card’ pooh-pooh!

It was either on the Tuesday or Wednesday preceding the Saturday deadline that the epiphany struck. This was science we’re talking about here and there were lots of various household chemicals stored in the house under our kitchen cabinet as well as under the bathroom sink. As the search desperately unfolded all of a sudden “they” appeared from behind the rolls of neatly stacked toilet paper and sanitary napkins. Several bottles of liquid shoe polish varying in a sundry of colors. There was black, brown, white, red and even some green. Some were even of the same color but a different brand name. These definitely had potential but what could I do with these? It was time to think and be resourceful. Then it hit me!

I had a huge fishbowl of tadpoles in my bedroom I had recently caught in a local drainage ditch. What could be more scientific than delivering to the scientific community a definitive study on the relationship of tadpoles and liquid shoe polish? My God, I was a genius!

I gathered some glass canning jars and labeled each jar with a shoe polish brand and its associated color. Filled it near the top with water, then added exactly a teaspoon of liquid shoe polish (this is science) and then I dropped four tadpoles into each jar. To top it off, I created the most wonderful poster (we had to have posters as you know) and put the largest title I could manage on the top which proudly read:

“The Effects of Liquid Shoe Polish on Tadpoles”

So…..I know you must be on the edge of your chair in anticipation of how I fared (no pun intended) so let me no longer hold you in suspense. First and foremost, I learned that tadpoles and liquid shoe polish have nothing scientifically or otherwise in common. Secondly, I received an “F” for that grading period. But I only got an “F”, according to my teacher, because there was nothing lower. And he also informed me that he had never been so embarrassed over a science project in all his years of teaching, which I have to admit made me feel pretty low. Nevertheless, it was the recognition that I was looking for because of all my hard work.

But to end this reflection of life on a brighter note, I would like to add that in my junior year of high school I was the proud recipient of a 2nd place ribbon for my science fair project. Probably in part because there was no liquid shoe polish or dead tadpoles involved. 🙁

The Legacy….

This past June I was honored to be a participant in a school reunion gathering, not unlike those that are normally attended and/or talked about so often. And when I say normally, I am referring to your typical high school reunions and their multiple anniversaries. I, as a matter of fact, have never attended any of my high school reunion(s) but that is a very long story in itself and likely not one I will go into anytime soon.

This reunion was centered on my 6th grade graduating class from Rightsell Elementary in Little Rock, Arkansas. These were the folks who were not only my classmates for six years but also my playmates in the neighborhoods where we lived. These were the days when you had neighborhood schools that you attended. The large majority of us also attended an additional three more years of junior high school together, although due to the increased size in school population, the closeness that was shared in elementary school began to slowly fade as the years passed.

Having said that, I can now get to the point of this post. During the reunion we obviously talked and reminisced about all the things we use to do during those days. And one of those things discussed had to do with televison. For our generation, we were the first beneficiaries of new medium of television. In the beginning the television stations did not transmit but a few hours every day. But they did transmit a ‘television test pattern’ intended of course to be used so you could adjust the picture of your new television set for the best quality. And also understand, if you aren’t aware, that those first television stations only transmitted in black and white.

Most of us who were kids during those times were so entranced by the television and what it brought to our lives that we could not wait each day until the television station would come on the air and begin transmitting its programming. So until the station began transmitting, a majority of us would sit in front of our new television sets and watch the test pattern. We would watch anything just to be watching television.

Obviously as we from that generation think back over those days, it certainly brings a smile to our face. And it was that experience in our lives that inspired me to create the video clip posted below….

If you know anyone in their sixties, feel free to direct them to this post in the hopes that they might just get a little chuckle from a moment almost assuredly they experienced.