March 31, 2013

New Glasses... for Free!

I got a new pair of glasses and they were free from Firmoo, a company trying to reach new customers on the internet.

It's rare that I review products on this blog, although I write reviews frequently on Amazon. However, these glasses were the right price and I thought some of my readers would want free glasses (or sunglasses) while the promotion is running.

This was the first time I ordered glasses online. I had a prescription from my ophthalmologist which I carefully typed into the online form. I did not have the Pupillary Distance so I measured it in the mirror and then had my husband confirm it.

Other than that the process of ordering was easy.  I picked out a pair with blue frames. I ordered them as computer glasses, which I now regret because I sit a little closer to my laptop screen than the glasses are designed for so they are only useful at Frank's PC, which I don't use that often.

I took these pictures in our back yard using a point-and-shoot camera with a 10-second timer. I don't use the timer very often but it worked well.


I played with this photo in Photoshop and added a vignette. I hope you like it.

Have a nice Easter Day!

March 30, 2013

Lunch at the Thomas House

Yesterday in Dayton, VA

 The name Thomas House sounds fancy but the restaurant is really a little down-home place where you order cafeteria style. The baked chicken is very tasty!

Dayton is a small town west of Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley.

March 29, 2013

Lake Front Royal

Lake Front Royal is a lake and a subdivision along U.S. Route 522 south of the town of Front Royal, Virginia. Across the road is the National Zoo's Conservation Biology Institute.

 Postscript: I almost forgot it's Friday, so it's Skywatch Day.

March 28, 2013

East of Edinburg

View along Palmyra Church Road
Shenandoah County, VA

March 27, 2013

Different Crops

snow scene with bench

This scene was in our yard on Monday or Tuesday when the snow was coming down. Almost all of the snow melted yesterday.

We are looking at two different versions of the same photo. I liked the tree trunks on the right so first I tried cropping the picture in a panoramic shape (twice as long as tall).

Unfortunately, you can't really see the geese in that version. So I cropped in further to bring them into view. Which picture do you like?

Snow Face

What's this?

This is a bird bath, looking straight down from above! I drew a dog's face in the snow while I was waiting for my husband to get off the computer and come outside.

March 26, 2013

A Meme to Remind Me

I made myself a meme! Okay, it's not really a meme because it isn't going viral, but I used an online "meme generator" to put text on an iconic image. Actually the Uncle Sam image was a meme before I added my text to it.
Definition of Meme: Idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.
The reason I made this graphic is to remind myself to not act like an internet cop! Sometimes I can't resist the temptation to chide people for spreading untrue internet rumors, for instance. But perhaps it's better to let that junk float by without correcting it. In any case I need to be careful not to make a friend look like a fool every time they hit the Share button without thinking!

Still, it drives me nuts when intelligent people believe every internet graphic that supports their point of view, or stories gleaned from websites that don't bother to fact-check.  Well, some commenters on a related post pointed out that (1) you can just move on or ignore them, (2) there's a book called How to Lie with Statistics, and (3) the statement "It's documented on the internet" probably isn't worth arguing over!

Funny thing about statistics: I used to code web pages for a statistical association and everyone in that field is familiar with the phrase "Lies, damn lies, and statistics." Even the most impressive data can mislead you. Retain your skepticism.

Photobombed by a Beagle

When the snow was coming down the other day, I took my old camera out with me when we walked the dogs. It's a point-and-shoot and it records a lot more image than you see in the viewfinder. When I downloaded the photos I was surprised to see Flash in what I thought was a scenic shot of snow-laden trees.

No problem! Normally I pick out pictures to post on this blog and process them in Photoshop anyway: Straighten and crop if necessary, perhaps brighten, save a 500K JPEG to print, size down even more for the web, and add copyright info. Here I've cropped two versions, both "sans chien." Which do you like more?

Neither of them have been brightened much because it was still snowing, not a bit sunny. And although they appear almost like black and white shots, they are color photographs.

March 25, 2013

Snow on the Leash

Our Dogs in the Driveway

Flash looks rather appalled at having to walk in the snow. Ben, on the other hand, did not mind at all.

March 24, 2013

Spring Snowstorm

It started snow around 3:30 this afternoon. We were driving home from Flash's obedience lesson followed by a little shopping. By the time we got in the house and put things away, big flakes were coming down. I filled a couple of bird feeders and came inside to dry off.

I took these pictures from the living room using a zoom lens. At 5:00, I spotted Sonny across the lake, feeding the geese in spite of the snow. They count on him and so do the feral cats. We've seen them all watching for him.

Fit for a Squirrel

We saw this little house on display in a museum. The squirrel is a model, slightly smaller than a real one.

This handmade structure was probably used as a squirrel feeder in a garden.

March 23, 2013

Short Mountain Viewed through Trees

A Shenandoah Valley Scene in March
An advantage of winter is that you can see through the trees! This view will be very different once the leaves come out.

The mountain is Short Mountain in the Massanutten Range. I took this picture last week near New Market.

Selling Domain Names

I've sold a few domain names over the years. Last year I sold the URL to a photography-related project. They seem so interesting I'm following them on Facebook!

It's been a couple of years since I sold the domain to a design company in Finland. I'd held the name Linja for years because it was similar to my name, and it turned out to be a word in Finnish, so that made it worth something... enough actually to pay for all my domain names for several years.

So are domain names a good investment? It depends! I'm not an expert and I wish I knew a sure-fire way to sell them. I did not buy my domains from resellers; I "made them up" and registered them, but I do pay the registrar a yearly fee. For now I've listed most of mine with Afternic, a large domain reseller which handled the sale of the name PhotoVenture for me. Recently I added to the list of names for sale because Frank doesn't need it anymore, being retired. 

Have you ever bought or sold a domain name? 

March 22, 2013

A Mountain Valley View

I took these pictures along Mountain Valley Road south of New Market, Virginia. The little creek runs into Smith Creek, which eventually joins the North Fork of the Shenandoah.

March 21, 2013

Clouds Late this Afternoon

View from Waterlick, VA

Birds on a Rail


Junco and Mourning Dove

I took these pictures on Monday. There was a succession of birds visiting the railing of the deck as they waiting for a turn at the feeders. As the day wore on, the snow wore off.

Cardinal (Female)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Female)

March 20, 2013

Another View of the Mountain

Clouds on Massanutten Mountains
I've photographed the end of the Massanutten Range many times because we can see it from our home! I duplicated the file for this image and used an "action" in Photoshop to make it brighter and add a bit of a vignette. This particular action is courtesy of The CoffeeShop Blog.

Lake and Mountain View, Snowy Day

I took this picture on Monday while watching to see whether the farmer was able to catch his run-away sheep. I was outdoors in the snow getting cold anyway so I'm glad I was able to capture this view to show you.

That's the end of the Massanutten Range in the distance. Don't the mountains look majestic in the snow? They're not as high as you might think — around 2100 feet here. Compare that to elevations of 3000 and 4000 feet in nearby Shenandoah National Park.

March 19, 2013

Ungulate Invasion

Lately I've been looking out the window from time to time to see if geese from the lake have come up to the bird feeders. I don't like the mess they leave so I'm trying to discourage them from grazing too close to the house.

Yesterday I glanced out the window and was surprised to see larger animals grazing there!

I called to my husband to come see the sheep! He thought I said geese and was puzzled that I sounded excited. I grabbed my camera and went to the window.

The little herd moved away as soon as they saw me. I took a few pictures and then called Animal Control at the sheriff's office. My theory was that the animals had escaped from a farm on Richardson Road.

By the time the Animal Control officer located the farmer and he showed up in his pickup truck, the herd had disappeared in the direction of the dam. The farm is just past there, across a little creek and a fence.

The farmer's son located the animals among the trees across the dam. He tried to get them to go through the fence but there was no opening at that point. Suddenly they reappeared and thundered along the top of the dam, followed by the farmer's little dog!

I don't usually post two views so similar but I think you should get a closer look at the herd dashing along. Click on the picture to see it full-size.

The son reported that the animals found the opening in the fence and headed home! He and his dad blocked the gap in the fence. The son followed the animals and the farmer and the dog went back to the truck and went home.

We had sleet and ice later that day so I'm glad the animals got home safely.

March 18, 2013

Goose in Snow

We had another late-winter snowfall today.
Lately the geese have been coming up to the bird feeders to pick at seed that's spilled on the ground. I don't like them coming so close to the house. They leave a mess!

One way to make them leave is to walk outside and shoo them away. But I've got another method: open the window and tap on the outside. This makes the dogs bark, and with the window open it sounds alarmingly close to the geese. They turn and waddle back to the lake.

Flash in Class

I've been taking Flash to Petco every week for an obedience class. He already knew how to sit but we needed to work on loose-leash walking and "leave it." He is making progress.

I discovered that he is shy around other dogs and does not like to leave my side to walk with the trainer.

March 17, 2013

The View from Guard Hill

Looking past the trees we see the bridge over the North Fork of the Shenandoah. I took this from the Elks Lodge parking area. In the distance are the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The name "Guard Hill" may be familiar to Civil War buffs. The hill was the site of significant action twice, the first time in 1862 as the Union Army abandoned Front Royal, attempting to burn the bridges behind them. I recently listened to an audiobook that covered this: The Battle of Front Royal, May 23, 1863 : Brother against Brother. It's available from Samuels Library or the Warren Heritage Society.

The Battle of Front Royal is also the topic of an upcoming one-day course at LFCC: "To retreat…would be certain death: The Battle of Front Royal."

In 1864 Guard Hill was the site of a cavalry battle which was I saw re-enacted in October 2007, albeit in a different location with different terrain.

Art Gallery in Sperryville

Winter is a good time to visit galleries, museums, and antique stores. The Middle Street Gallery in Sperryville turned out to be a delightful place to visit.

Sperryville is a small town between Warrenton and Skyline Drive.

March 16, 2013

Puppy Prozac

Our cocker spaniel, Benny, got exceptionally grumpy a couple of weeks ago, barking loudly with no provocation. We took him to the vet and all she found was that he had lost four pounds. He was still eating with enthusiasm so we increased the amount of kibble that we give him. He gained a little of the weight back but his disposition only got worse. One day he tried to bite my foot!

I called a trainer I know. She referred me to another trainer who sometimes works with aggressive dogs. Both of them suggested we consider getting the dog on Prozac!

I called the vet again and she was reluctant at first because antidepressants have side effects. After further discussion she agreed to a trial of the drug. That was a week ago. Within a few days the dog seemed calmer. In a week he was calmer than he has been in a month!

I'm hopeful that he'll stay that way. At least with this respite from scary behavior we can observe him to see if any health problems turn up. The vet said to watch for signs of seizures since that might explain his recent erratic behaviors.

Ben is around 10 years old and has always seemed a bit anxious. In the past he was sometimes aggressive to strangers who came in the house but that's not unusual for dogs. He also became mean on several occasions when he was in pain, and actually bit me when he was slightly hurt.  Even though he's not the friendliest dog, we are fond of him and want him to well and happy.

Bird at Lunch

It's easy to get pictures of birds at the feeder but more challenging to get clear photos of them in a tree. This pretty bird must have just left the feeder — he still has seed in his beak.

March 15, 2013

Double Contrail

I wanted to make sure you could see the twin contrails left by a plane so I cropped the picture in Photoshop. Then I experimented with a duplicate layer.

The second picture is not realistic but I liked the contrast. The dark background was created when I used "Linear Burn" on the duplicate layer.

Contrails are formed of water vapor and are also called vapor trails. They are often pretty but may contribute to global warming.