Jul 30, 2015

Dirt biking in the Dax

Yesterday was pretty epic. Since childhood, I have wanted to cruise around the Adirondacks on a dirt bike. Yesterday, that happened. I've had my Honda CRF 450X for about three years now, but it was broken for half that time and I haven't got a lot of throttle time accumulated. I'm still a bit timid on the bike but am feeling more and more confident with every ride. It was just great to rip through the logging roads and snowmobile trails up here in the 'Dax'. 


Jul 27, 2015

Family Vacation - Adirondacks


Well, I spent the last week and a half in Munich for work. Now I'm off for a week to vacation with my family in the Adirondacks. Of course, I brought my camera, and have been taking advantage of the sites. I'll try to post some pictures every other day or so, but the wifi at the camp we're renting is spotty at best.

I'm fairly happy with the way this shot of the moon and starry sky turned out. I sat on the dock with a cold Utica Club while I played with the settings to get a decent exposure. I ended up shooting with my 35mm lens at f/1.4 for 2 seconds, then processing in Adobe Lightroom.



This morning I woke up at 7:30 and drove about a mile up the road to the old mill on Moose River. I've driven past this mill since I was the age of 10 and have always been curious to see what's inside. Here are a few photos from this morning.

 


Jul 12, 2015

Updates, get your updates.

Hello world wide web. I haven't not contributed to you since March 15th; let's fix that. Sounds like a general update is in order.

Work:
Work has been rough. The new position, which is not so new anymore, has certainly brought a lot of challenge and stolen more time from me that I imagined.  At least I'm down to working 11 hour days as often. It's getting easier, but there's just so much more responsibility in this role than I had imagined, and I'm not so great at delegating, so I end up working myself to death. I'm learning though. Overall, still happy I took on the challenge. I'm the Director of Quality, for a major player in the rail industry. I'll take a pat on the back for that. Oh, and the travel has been awesome. I love to travel, but I'll write more about that below.


Home life:
Home life is good. Debbie is happy. The two bunnies seem happy; I haven't heard them complain. We got new couches which are pretty awesome. The old couch was a monster that just gobbled you up and forced you to slouch down until your chin touched your chest. I do not miss it. Plus, new couch has foot rests that pop out... and drink holders. Win. Landscape wise, I've been enjoying mowing. It's just satisfying. We've had a couple fires in the backyard this summer which were fun. Not so many rabbits in the yard this summer, but I have seen a lot of coyote poop and my neighbor caught a glimpse of some coyotes early one morning. This would explain the pieces of rabbit and bird we've been finding.

Travel:
Work has taken me to some pretty awesome places: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, France and Spain. Oddly enough, I do not mind sitting on the plane for 10+ hours. It's worth it to get to experience the sights, sounds, food & culture. The Bavarian Alps are beautiful. The Czech Republic strange and has a phony/corrupt feel to it. Paris is amazing, as always and Madrid has the feel of NYC, but with an old world feel. I love how much history this European places have. Our country is so new, by comparison. Still I love living in the US; it's the by far the best! On Tuesday I'm headed back to Munich for a week and a half. Looking forward to it!

Camping/Backpacking:
Debbie and I went camping with her Brother and his family last month at Laurel Hill State Park, and it was awesome. We even cooked crawfish that we ordered from Louisiana. They were delicious. Of course we ate steaks as well. Plenty of relaxing, hammock time, kids getting dirty chasing crawfish (little ones, too small to eat) and swimming.  Debbie's two brothers and I had another super rainy backpacking trip at Ohiopyle State Park as well. Total sog fest. But a blast nonetheless. The weekend I get back from Munich, I'll be driving up to the Adirondacks to spend a week soaking in the lakes, and hiking some of the High Peaks. Gothics is at the top of my list!

Mar 15, 2015

Back to the iPhone


After using the HTC One (M8) for the last year, I missed the simplicity and design of the Apple iPhone. The HTC was actually a good phone and the camera, specifically, was amazing but now that I use a Macbook Pro, I was eager to switch back to the iPhone.  You know... all those synergies and whatnot. Although, one thing I never liked was iTunes. Syncing up my music library and contacts has been a real pain in the ass. But I think I've got it now.

My previous experience with iPhones has been positive. When I was living in NY, I used a couple different versions of iPhones and really enjoyed the straight-from-the-pocket creativity it provided. Looking through my blog there are actually 34 posts tagged "iPhone". Not only did I enjoy snapping photos and using fun applications like the Tilt Shift Generator, Shake It & Pano, but I also enjoyed taking short video clips and splicing them into videos.

Aside from the photo/video fun that iPhones provide, they just work really well. The user interface is intuitive and friendly. I'm glad I made the switch back to Apple.

Mar 8, 2015

The Alpha and the Omega?

When I was in Munich, in December, I popped into a camera store to take a closer look at a camera that really caught my eye: The Sony Alpha 7.  This is a full frame mirrorless camera. It's basically everything I've been hoping one of the major companies would create.  And I find it funny that Sony came out with it. Not Nikon.  Not Canon. It's a full frame camera packed in a small body. It's got a great shape to it; classic. After reading/watching many reviews, I think that I will make this my  next piece of equipment. Sony has a small but fantastic suit of E-mount lenses featuring Zeiss glass. Most are very fast primes. The reviews I've read and seen show stunning results.  Stay tuned!

Promotion

Wow.  I didn't blog once in the month of February.  Work has consumed my life over the past few months.  Although working 60 hours a week to stay on top of things has paid off; I just got promoted to Director of Quality Assurance last week. I'm proud of myself, and I really do like my job, but I'm afraid that work has left me little time for the things I enjoy most; biking and photography.  I'm hoping that I can find a way to balance my work and personal life this spring, because I really do miss expressing myself creatively and I sure would like to get out on the trails again.  
My office.  Home away from home lately.

Jan 24, 2015

Loading 405 Winchester

The other night, a friend from work, taught me the basics of loading my own ammunition.  I've always been interested in loading my own, and with the recent spike in ammo prices, I was pretty jazzed when my friend offered to show me the ropes.  My father had recently gifted me a beautiful Winchester Model 1895.  The rifle is a Winchester-made, reproduction of the rifle that was produced from 1895 to 1932, totalling 425,825 pieces in all.  Although this rifle was chambered in many calibers with many intended uses, including military, mine is chambered in the heaviest of them; 405 Win.  This '95 is the rifle Teddy Roosevelt used in his famous African safari in 1909, and the rifle which he referred to as "big medicine" (Read more about Roosevelt's safari here).  It was used to take down hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and lions as well.  The big advantage of this rifle, at the time it was introduced, was its ability to hold pointed bullets, stacked in its non-detachable magazine.  Up until this rifle was introduced, lever action rifles held their bullets in tubular magazines, that paralleled their barrels. Due to the fact that the bullets sat in the magazine, with the nose of one bullet resting upon the primer of the next, rifles with these tubular magazines were limited to holding only flat-nosed bullets  Like many of my rifles, I look at this one as a marvel of engineering geneous.  Coincidentally, this was the last of the lever action rifles, that John Browning designed for Winchester. Surprising to me, is the fact that a musket version of this rifle, with an extended forestock and bayonet lug, was even used by the Army of the Russian Empire, in WWI and Finland in WWII.


Along with the rifle, my father gave me shell casings, powder, primers, bullets and even the dies needed to flare, seat and crimp the rounds.  The only pieces of the puzzle missing, were the actual loading press, primer seating tool, powder measure and scale.  My friend had these pieces.  After finding the right recipe for 405 Win rounds, my friend showed me the way to go about it.  Over the next few hours, of swapping stories and drinking a few pilsners, I made 40 rounds.  I was using a single stage system, so the process was slow, and there was a learning curve, and I did make a few mistakes (like forgetting to seat the primer before charging the bullet!)  So, not only did I learn how to load, I learned how to correct my mistakes.  There's a neat tool, called a kinetic hammer, which you use to remove bullets when you do silly things, like underload them, or forget to install primers.  When I was finished I marvelled at the sheer size of the rounds I loaded. They make a 30-06 round, look small.  They just look like great big cowboy bullets!  I cannot wait to get to the range.

Details of my loading data is as follows:
Powder:    Hodgdon H4895 - 58 gr
Bullets:     405 Cal .411 300 gr InterLock® FP
Brass:       Hornady 405 unprimed cases
Primers:   CCI standard





Jan 17, 2015

Austria & Czech Republic: Fantastic quick trip

I'm back.  Finally.  What a whirlwind of a trip.  I spent about a week in Austria (In Kamaten, about an hour and a half west of Vienna) with one night in the town of Bruno in the Czech Republic.  I'm always stoked to travel, but this trip, was so full of actually traveling (flying & driving) that I hardly had any time to myself.  The only time I had to really explore, was the first day I arrived in Kamaten, but I was so tired, from being awake for 24 hours, that I had to go to sleep.  With that said, I do not have any great photos to share.  Nor any great stories, really.  The purpose of my trip was to meet my overseas contacts within my company and learn about their quality structure and operations.  So, most of my time, was spent in a conference room, reviewing org charts, processes and discussing quality strategy. 

I did stay in a really nice resort:  The Kothmuhle.  The room was excellent, with a nice balcony overlooking the rolling hills.  You could see the snowcapped mountains in the distance.  The restaurant was top notch, and I ate 5 course meals each night (*burp*).  The people I spoke with there, were very friendly, and spoke fluent English.
Driving in Austria was super fun.  I rented a nice BMW and got to open it up on the Autobahn, a few times.  The roads in the backcountry, are stunning.  They're twisty and roll through the hillside.  The fields and pastures through which I zipped, were completely free of any sort of garbage or litter.  Just absolutely beautiful.

 

Jan 12, 2015

Hello from Austria

Hello folks. Work has me in Austria and the Czech Republic this week. I'm happy to be here, but wish I had more time to enjoy myself and explore, the way I love to explore. Still, I'm making the most of it, and trying to capture what I can with my camera. The trip over here was hellacious. One debacle after another Including nearly losing my luggage and almost missing flights. But, I made ​​it. I'm extremely jetlagged so I'm just going to toss up some photos from the last days worth of travel from Baltimore to New York to Dusseldorf, Germany to Vienna Austria.
A quick photo through the glass at BWI airport Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm.

After switching planes in Dusseldorf, Germany, I arrived at Vienna via this weird airline ... www.flyniki.com.
This is just one of the cool scenes inside the Vienna Airport. Although, by the time I got here I had been awake all night and what exhausted. I do not sleep well on international flights. All I wanted to do what find my rental car agency and get to my hotel.
I walked around forever, trying to find the car rental office. I found the cars ... but could not find the office. Probably I spent 45 minutes just wandering around different levels in the parking garages looking for the Hertz office. Holy frustrating.
At last, I was on my way. I rented a BMW and hit the Autobahn (Super fun!). An hour and a half later, I arrived helped in Kematen, Austria, at my hotel.