Jul 25, 2013

Picture of the day

I took this photo last weekend while camping in Hartsville, NY. I cannot remember what this piece of machinery is called, though I really liked it's texture and menacingly prominent appearance in the foreground, while an empty and innocent swing set stands in the background.  The theme song from Jaws ran through my mind while I framed this shot.

Jul 17, 2013

Video of the day

When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed a baby rabbit in the side yard. Our yard is completely overrun with rabbits; which is awesome because rabbits are great. If we had a garden, I may not be so happy about it. Regardless, they're neat to watch and stalk with the camera. Here's a quick video I took with the D800, of a baby rabbit, about the size of a softball.

Jul 15, 2013

Callinectes sapidus

Better known as the Chesapeake Blue Crab.  Man, I love em'.  I've never blogged about my addiction to crabs until today.  I have no idea how I lived in downtown Baltimore for 6 years and never got into them.  (Unless you count the one time, I choked on a piece of shell and road my bike to the ER for throat x-rays.  I thought I was going to die.  True story.  I'll save it for another time.  Though perhaps that's why I never got into them.)  I think we've eaten crabs 6 times so far this summer.  One weekend we even ate them on a Saturday, only to turn around and eat them again on a Sunday.  And they're not cheap!  We pay about $60/dozen large.  We're lucky to live only 10 minutes away from a great crab house too; the Blue Point Crab House.  We've had some really great crabs from this place.  No duds, no wimpy ones.  Always perfectly seasoned with Old Bay. 

I can't think of anything better on nice summer day, than sitting at the table in the yard, munching down crabs and sucking down some ice cold Natty Boh.  Such a tasty combo.  We put a way a dozen large crabs yesterday, though we ate inside due to the insane heat we're experiencing lately.  We nearly went back and bought another dozen!  We prefer getting them already steamed, and munching down at home, but we do eat them when we're out and about.  Here's our experience in the Baltimore area:
  • Blue Point Crab House - Westminster (take out only)              ★★★★★
  • Ocean Pride - Cockeysville, MD (we ate in)                            ★★★
  • Gary & Dell's - Westminster, MD (we ate in)                           ★★★★
  • Parks Landing -Westminster, MD (we ate in)                           ★★★ 

Jul 14, 2013

New Rifle: Winchester Model 70 Featherweight

I mentioned before that while I was home, visiting my folks, last weekend, my father gave me a brand new deer rifle and a few encouraging words: "You won't miss a buck with this one Michael". Well, his words absolutely ring true. I just got back from the rifle range. My shoulder is pretty sore, but I know it's nothing compared to whatever finds itself on the receiving end of this rifle this season. He gave me a really pretty Winchester Model 70 Featherweight. It's a bolt action rifle in .30-06. It's light and extremely accurate. I zeroed it for 100 yards, which is just about as far of a shot that I'd ever have, where I hunt at the Frederick Watershed. With it zeroed for 100 yards I had no problem switching between my targets at 50 & 100 yards. I was firing some milsurp ammo; M2 Ball (FMJ) and some hunting ammo; Winchester 180 grain hunting rounds. 

Winchester came out with the Model 70 in 1936. Though mine was made in the past couple of years. It's a 5 round, bolt action rifle. The action of which, is derived from that of a Mauser, in that it has a three position safety at the rear of the bolt. All the way aft is safe. All the way forward is fire. And the middle position blocks the sear, for extracting jammed rounds, which pretty much never happens because the Model 70 uses a "controlled round" action. This means that, rather than the bolt simply pushing the round into the chamber, it actually grabs the end of the round and controls it when feeding and extracting the round.  The trigger on this rifle is really great.  Winchester claims that there patented MOA trigger system has no take-up, no creep and almost no over-travel.  From my experience at the range today, I can definitely back these claims.  The trigger was really crisp.  The pull is adjustable, but I won't mess with mine; it felt just fine.

Aesthetically speaking, its a sharp looking rifle.  The checking in the wood is cut crisp at the pistol grip and on the schnable fore-end, and is not stamped in.  It feels great in the hands.  Also, sling swivel studs come standard. The barrel is free floating and just for kicks, I slipped a dollar bill between the barrel and the walnut stock (which has a satin finish) and slid it all the way back to the action with no resistance; nice.  To hold this gun in your hands, feels wonderful.  I'm in love with it.  It is a truly beautiful bolt gun in a caliber that can drop big game.  No wonder it's been called The rifleman's rifle for decades.  My father, a rifleman and seasoned hunter himself, has this very same gun albeit much older and with much more character.  Thanks for the great rifle dad; hope to bring some venison home this winter!

Zeroing for 100 yards:
It was awfully hot at the range today. By 10:30 this morning temperatures were already in the high 80's. Sweat dripped from my eyebrows and fogged my shooting glasses while I tried to focus through the scope. Because it was so hot, I wore a T-shirt to the range. I sent 60 rounds down range before my shoulder had had enough. Even with the soft rubber butt pad, my right arm was taking a wallop each time I pulled the trigger. So much so, that I found myself flinching just before completing my squeeze. I caught myself doing this a few times and made a conscious effort to let the gun go off on its own. Just line up, breathe, exhale and *CRACK!* (Ouch!).   Some of my results are below.  At left is a group I shot at 50 yards and at right; 100 yards. Good enough to bag a deer, but I attribute the larger group at 100 yards to my shaking right arm.  Even with my elbow on the table, my arm was shaking after shooting so many rounds.  I better eat my Wheaties.  Winchester claims that this rifle holds a 1" group at 100 yards.  I believe it.  But I think I'll need a bipod to accomplish that.

Jul 13, 2013

Micro four thirds & tigerlilies

Tigerlilies have to be my favorite type of flower. I'm fortunate to have a bunch of them growing in the side yard. Today, I stood watching and snapping as a bee made its way from one flower to the next, crawling deep down inside of each one. Neat to see and a pleasure to shoot with my 45mm lens on my micro four thirds camera. Love that little cam!

Jul 12, 2013

Photo of the day

Beechnut Clover:  Taken with my Nikon D800 & 24mm prime lens.  0.6sec @ f/20, ISO 1250.
I took this photo in the basement of the Mansion House in Oneida, NY, while visiting my folks last weekend.  Both my sister and a dear friend of mine rent apartments in this historic building.  Home to self proclaimed perfectionists of the 18th century.  ... Also home to creepy basement photo opportunities.  I love the the spider scaling the window pane.  This photo was taken from the inside of the basement, though the growth and beechnuts are typically exterior elements.


Geez.  I am just barely blogging these days.  Blogging just isn’t at the top of my priority list these days.  It’s sad actually.  I can remember when I blogged almost daily and really enjoyed doing it.  Now, it seems that I do things and think to myself "I should blog this", but then I don't.  I don’t like the thought of retiring from the blogger community, so I’m just going to have to keep kicking myself in the ass.  Let’s bring this blog up to date:

Domestic front:
This summer’s been one of many home improvement projects.  Debbie and I did a lot of work on the house, to include replacing the entire carport wall and front facial board behind the gutters.  We also cleared out the huge debris pile in the back yard, adjacent to our neighbor’s fence, which took two full weekends of driving waste to the dump (The entire pile was covered in thick, pain-in-the-ass  vines from our neighbor’s yard, which hid an entire rotten log pile and worse; a brick pile).  We also hired contractors to replace our rotten and rickety old deck with a brand new and larger one.  It’s great to sit out on a nice 12’ X 15’ deck and watch the rabbits & squirrels do their thing in the yard.   Next on the list is having the carpet replaced on the upstairs floor.  That will do it for this year.  Next spring we’ll have the driveway re-paved and sealed.

Last weekend we visited my folks in upstate NY.  It was great to see them and walk around my home town one more time.  We even got up in to the Adirondacks for some hiking and swimming which included being trapped in a dive bar during a torrential downpour.  (Good times; some guy was rolling dice at the bar and won $500 bucks; bought the whole house a round  - Thanks stranger!)  Also, my father surprised me with a birthday gift:  A new Winchester,Model 70 featherweight in 30-06.  It’s a fantastic rifle.  He even scoped it for me.  His words:  You won’t miss a buck with this one.”  (You may recall my failure to nail a dear last season).  At any rate; it’s such a wonderful gun. I’ll be taking it to the range to zero it this weekend.  Yeeha! 

Oh, this is terrible.  Sadly, I have almost no news to report on this front.  I have not ridden in ages.  And it shows.  Too many Twinkies.    Although Debbie did buy a really nice bike for herself!  A nice 29er with hydraulic disc brakes, rock shox any everything; it’s sweet!   She and I take tiny rides around the neighborhood in the evenings, but I don’t consider this riding.

Upcoming Events:
My good friend Dave is getting married in a couple of weeks, in NJ and I’ll be  a groomsman.   After that, my other friend Greg is tying the knot in Philly a few weeks later.  Weddings are a blast and I love attending.  We’re also going camping next weekend up in Elmira, NY.  Plans are to camp for the weekend and visit Debbie’s old stomping grounds as well as pay our respects at her father’s grave.

That’s about all she (he/me) wrote. 

Jul 3, 2013

Bear with me

Another year older; my birthday was a couple of days ago.  I'm now 35.  To celebrate, Debbie and I met a good friend, Hoopsie, at a cabin deep in the woods, just north of Lock Haven, PA.  The weekend was spent relaxing in the woods, watching the wild life, shooting the air rifles and catching up.  The highlight of the trip, was a scrawny black bear that stumbled out of the woods and meandered through the back yard looking for food.  The bear looked to be a little skinny but otherwise healthy.  Quite a thrill to see him at a distance of less than 10 yards.