Homer's Travels: February 2018

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Olympic Withdrawal

For the past two weeks I have had the Olympic games on the TV nearly every day.  Now, I have always been a fan of the Olympics and I have always watched some of the games, but this year for some reason I watched a whole lot more than usual.

I really enjoyed the snowboarding, skeleton, luge, and just about any sports that involved whipping out.  I also enjoyed the heck out of the curling - it helps when you actually saw the team qualify for the Olympics.

To be honest, I did not devote 100% of my attention to the games at all times.  I often surfed Twitter while the games were on.  Even while they were often just in the background, they provided a comforting, mostly non-political, backdrop to my life these past two weeks.  The games officially end tonight and I will miss them. 

It's time now to catch up on some of my streaming that I put off while I watched the competitions.  Time for some "Altered Carbon", "The Expanse", "The Tick", among others.  Netflix and Amazon Prime Video ... here I come.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Photograph: "Orange Hibiscus Bud"

Another flower picture.  This bud is from an orange colored hibiscus plant the Wife gave her father for the lake house on Lake Cornelia.

"Orange Hibiscus Bud"
by Bruce H.
At the end of the summer lake season the hibiscus returns to Omaha where it winters in front of a sliding glass door in our basement.  This hibiscus, along with our own red hibiscus blooms through the winter until they can be moved outside.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Photograph: "Rose [HDR]"

Another picture from my new camera. This is a close up of a rose in the Wife's valentine flowers.  The camera is set to an HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode that boosts the colors creating an interesting effect.

"Rose [HDR]"
by Bruce H.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Number Seven

I've owned one film camera and six digital cameras over my lifetime.  My first digital camera recorded pictures on floppy disks (One picture from my current camera would need seven floppy disks to record!).  I killed my second digital camera by dunking it in Malibu Creek.  My third, the one I took on my first Camino, is still around and still works.  My fourth was my Canon T1i DSLR I won in a photo contestMy fifth - bought for it's compact, rugged, waterproofness - died while snorkeling off the Galapagos Islands.  This camera was replaced by another compact, rugged, and waterproof camera of a different brand.  Last week I bought my seventh digital camera, a replacement for the T1i which started to die of old age last year (the exposure sensor is going flaky and randomly overexposes pictures).  I upgraded to a Canon Rebel T7i.

Here are a couple of my first pictures with the new camera: 

Old Man Iago.
Iago is looking grey these days.

A picture of an hibiscus from the rear.

"Behind the Petals"
by Bruce H.
The new camera is similar to the one it's replacing.  I bought just the body since all my old lenses work on the new camera which saved me some money.  It has a better sensor and several new functions that I will have to learn.

It has a flip out touch screen which is handy for some awkward over the fence/crowd pictures. The screen can also be folded in towards the body protecting it from scratches.

One of the things I was excited about is the Bluetooth and WiFi support.  Unfortunately the app doesn't run well on my Chromebook so WiFi connection is flaky and Bluetooth doesn't work at all.  I blame this on Chromebook/Android hybrid idiosyncrasies.  Nevertheless I have managed to upload pictures to the cloud and to my Chromebook over WiFi though it would be easier to just pull out the memory card and plug it into the Chromebook.

The camera has all the bells and whistles. It's missing only one thing - GPS.  Strangely enough GPS is mentioned in the setup but it is not implemented in the camera.

Now I just need to get out and find things worth photographing.

P.S.  This camera was partially funded with Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary money from the Mother-in-Law.  Thank you!

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Movie Shorts Trifecta

Every two or three years I go to see the Oscar nominated short films at the local art house theater (Film Streams' Ruth Sokolof Theater).  This year I saw them at the newly refurbished Dundee theater which is now owned by Film Streams.

There are three categories of short films with five nominees per category.  The categories are Live Action, Documentary, and Animation.

I watched the Live Action shorts last Thursday.  In the past there were a good mix of serious and funny movies.  This year four of five were serious and a bit depressing.  To give you an idea, the first one was about a shooter breaking into a school.  I was watching this the day after the Parkland school shooting.  It made me cringe even though it had a happy ending.  My choice for the best live action shorts is "Watu Wote" a story based on an actual event in Kenya.  A group of Islamic bus riders defend a christian woman from Al-Shabaab terrorists.  Both heartwarming and sad at once.

The Wife joined me on Friday to watch the Documentary shorts.  A couple years ago we left depressed after seeing the gloomy documentary nominees.  This year they were a bit more uplifting and positive.   Our favorite was "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405", a documentary about Mindy Alper, an artist living a rough, troubled life but still finds joy in her art.  This one made us smile.

Today I watch the Animated shorts.  As I entered the theater I was surprised to see some elementary aged girls from Girls, Inc.  The reason I was surprised is just because a film is animated does not mean the topics are appropriate for children.  This year three films included death, murder, and stealing.  One included a photorealistic picture of a bloated dead body floating in a hot tub.  Another had Little Red Riding Hood killing two anthropomorphic wolves and an anthropomorphic pig with a handgun (and stealing money from the dead pig).  Not good for small children.  My favorite was the photorealistic "Garden Party".  It was done so well it didn't look animated.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Not Even An Ember

Last November I signed up for Trek up the Tower.  I mention it in a post called "Light That Fire".  I hoped that preparing for Trek up the Tower would motivate me.

It didn't.

Today was Trek up the Tower and I stayed home.  My hiking and biking plan faded to nothingness.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Escaping To Trivia

It's been a while since I've posted.  Just haven't been interested in writing much.  Things have also been fairly quiet here.  This weekend turned out to be busier and full of blog-worthy activities.

It started Thursday evening when the Matron of Honor (MoH) and the Best Man (BM) came down to visit.  We celebrated their arrival with a delicious burger dinner at Stella's and a visit to a tap room (Kros Strain Brewing).

On Friday The Wife and MoH went to a spa for facials in the late morning.  In the afternoon we had a leisurely lunch at Blatt Beer & Table across from the College World Series stadium in the north downtown area of Omaha.  The restaurant is named after Rosenblatt the former College World Series stadium.  The Beer Nuts enjoyed the beer and I enjoyed the chicken and waffles.

After our lazy lunch we went to the House of Conundrum (HoC).  HoC is an escape room.  You can enter one of seven rooms and you have an hour to solve puzzles to get out.  We ended up doing the 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea room.  This was our first escape room but the MoH and I have both played online room escape games so we had some idea of what needs to be done (my favorite online escape rooms games are those by Rusty Lake and Forgotten Hill).  We ended up needing only one clue from the HoC employee and we ended up solving everything with a short minute to spare.  We all left the House of Conundrum thoroughly entertained.

Friday ended with some Winter Olympic open ceremonies, snacks, and lots of good conversation.

On Saturday, after clearing away the two to three inches of snow we had overnight, we tried to go the the Early Bird for a late brunch but the wait was too long so we ended up at the 11-Worth cafe instead.  After a hearty brunch we spent some time at another tap room in the Blackstone district called the Scriptown Brewery.  The MoH and BM had three tap rooms/bars on their list to visit and we successfully hit all three.

The main event for Saturday, and the whole weekend frankly, was the charity trivia contest at the Wife's school.  The Wife and I were joined by the MoH, BM, the Brother-in-Law, his wife, their three daughters and two boyfriends.  They had changed the rules of the trivia game since we participated a couple years ago.  The changes (No buying of answers. No jail) were all improvements.  The questions were challenging.  After winning the first trivia in 2014, coming in second in 2015, and not doing well at all in 2016, we ended up in sixth (out of twenty) which we consider an improvement.  If we'd just gone with our guts more we would have ended in the top three at least.  We all had a good time and I'm sure we will be participating again next year.

As an added bonus, the Wife won the fifty-fifty game which paid out some good cash - More than the second place trivia team won and more than enough to pay for the today's breakfast.

Today we went to mass at a nice chapel at the Poor Clare Monastery before heading to Le Peep for breakfast.  Unfortunately there are more than one Le Peep and some went to the one off Dodge while the Wife and I went to the one off of West Center.  We realized the error and we joined the others for a good breakfast.

After breakfast we all scattered heading home in a several directions.  The Wife and I promptly took naps as we don't have the stamina we used to have.  The last four days wore me out but the trivia contest, escape room, and all the good food (and way too much caffeine) made for a great time with family.

Time to recuperate and catch up on some Winter Olympic sport.