Minotaur I Night Launch

I just happened to find a news article talking about tonight’s Minotaur I launch. We had barely enough time to snag a tripod, grab an appropriate lens, get most of the family bundled up, and head out the door… but we saw it.  Here is the first picture as it came into view heading over the trees


Next up is a picture as the rocket glided after stage 2 burnout and lit up stage 3


We originally thought this might be stage 1 to stage 2, but it was the only staging of the rocket we saw, so it must have been from stage 2 to stage 3.  This following exposure was a 5 seconds, giving you some sense of how far it traveled during that time:


and here is a shot of the final burnout:


EDIT: As I read over the mission log, this may have been the end of stage 3.  It appears there was a stage 4 as well, but perhaps it was too dim for us to see?  We stood out for a short while after this and saw nothing more, which is why I thought it was final burnout.

Here is a crop of the burnout:


For Those Who Struggle with Changing a Bicycle Tire…

Here is a little motivation for anyone who says “I don’t know how to change a bicycle tire”.  Imagine having no hands and only one stump.  Now imagine changing a bicycle tire.  Amazing what people can do when they need to!

It’s Hard to Beat L. L. Bean

3 person domeL. L. Bean products may not be the cheapest, but they sure do stand by them.  We’ve now owned three of their tents.

The first of our L. L. Bean tents started loosing the waterproof seam tape on the fly after six years of reasonable use.  We stopped in at their Freeport store to inquire as to whether it was possible to have them reapply the tape, happy to pay to get the work done since it had been well used.  To our surprise, the clerk said that they couldn’t repair the fly, but since we were clearly dissatisfied with the performance of their product, that they would replace it for free.  Fast forward another 19 years and we started experiencing some zipper closure issues.  We could “solve” the problem with the pinch the zipper with pliers trick, but knew the writing was on the wall and relegated this tent to be used by the kids for their less supervised adventures.  I’m sure we could have returned this 19 year old tent to L. L. Bean and they would have replaced it with something, for free, but we decided that it had given us a reasonable value.

We replaced the veteran with an L. L. Bean 3 Person Backcountry Dome tent.  After three years of use, only 10 camping trips under it’s belt, it started to develop zipper issues.  We actually felt this product prematurely failed, so contacted L. L. Bean to send it back.  They covered the return shipping and told us to send back only the tent; no poles, fly, or stakes.  The tent would then be repaired or replace.  Within a week, we had a box sitting on our front door.  When we opened it, what did we find… an entirely new, complete tent, including: poles, stakes, fly, etc.!

They do stand behind their products.  Neither time, did I get any sort of push back from them.  No questions asked, they took care of us.  The first time around I actually asked the clerk, “why do you do this?”  Her answer was simple, you’ll purchase more of our products… and she was right.  Over the years we have purchased more of their products, but I wouldn’t hesitate to send something back if I feel it hasn’t performed and I can be confident in the fact that they will take care of me.

I wonder if L. L. Bean ever has product tester positions open 🙂

Baby Lamb Snacking

We stopped by Coggeshall Farm last week to check out some of their new baby animals.  So far this year, they’ve had three baby lambs and a baby cow.  The lambs will stick around for a while, but if you want a chance to check out Nemo (the baby cow) don’t delay.  He’s going back to the farm of the breeder in early May.

I shot a quick video while we were there of one of the lambs getting a snack, it was just too cute.  Apparently it’s quite common for a lamb to waggle it’s tail when it nurses, but I’ve never seen it before.

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Newest Member of the Cycling “Family”

For many years now, we’ve been coaxing a second hand, child trailer into service as a cargo trailer.  It served us well, but was a beast to haul around and was pretty much constructed with fabric, which became increasingly patched.  Ultimately, we were going to have to put some significant money into keeping this trailer running and decided it just wasn’t worth it.

One of the features we really liked about the trailer was that it had two connection points with the bike.  Perhaps we are paranoid, but it made us uncomfortable as we looked at the majority of cargo trailers and they only had a single connection point.

I’d heard and read about many people who have raved about BOB trailers.  The guys at Legend Bicycle let us borrow a 19 year old BOB for a weekend to do a test grocery run and some general riding.  My first impression of the BOB, on the ride home from the bike shop, is that it was a pleasure to ride with.  The trailer was empty and I barely even knew it was there.  The really nice part of a single wheel trailer is that it tracks the bike nearly perfectly; if my shoulders and handlebars make it through a gap, then the trailer likely will as well.

During our weekend test, we discovered that the BOB wasn’t quite big enough to handle our weekly grocery run for the family.  Aside from this fact, we loved the trailer and weren’t excited about going back to the drawing board.  Either we would need to switch to making more grocery runs during the week or come up with some other option.  While researching other options, I discovered that Greenspeed makes a rack for the BOB.  With the addition of this rack and a couple of panniers, we figured it would give us just the space we needed to keep our grocery run down to once a week.

Obviously, we ultimately went this route.  We’ve had the trailer for just over a week now and the rack and panniers for less than a week.  Karen made the first grocery run earlier this week without the panniers and made it, but is looking forward to the little bit of extra space. We also splurged and added a kickstand to the setup.  Yes, you can kick the trailer over at about a 90 degree angle and have it hold up the bike/trailer combination.  However, when we played around with this technique with the borrowed trailer and found that, when fully loaded, it could be a bear to pull it out of this setup.  You can’t just grab the bike and yank, because it puts a ton of strain on the bike trailer connection and will likely fatigue over time.  Adding a kickstand allows us to load the trailer pretty inline with the bike and easily get rolling.

We will try and post an update after we have a few (hundred?) miles under our belt with the setup.

Field Day 2012

It’s been a number of years since I’ve really participated in an Amateur (Ham) Radio Field Day event.  Thanks to my family, I had an opportunity to join Team HamCow this year for setup.  Most of the guys there have been involved with many setups for events, so I was drafted into service taking pictures… right up my alley.

I got to play around with a Canon 5D, could be considered a big brother to my T2i.  It was similar enough I could find my way around, but different enough that there were a few things I just couldn’t figure out how to do and I was nowhere near as fast at changing settings.  Most of these shots were taken pretty much full auto, so I could focus on the shot rather than trying to confirm the settings were spot on.

New Lid

20120622-164952.jpgPicked up a new lid today. A nice high viz helmet, with reflective strips, two built in lights and a mount for a third light. Every little thin I can do to make sure cars can see me will only help!

4th Annual – Get Off Your Can 5K

Did a photo shoot for the 4th Annual – Get Off Your Can 5K today.  The event is one of the signature fundraisers for the East Bay Food Pantry.

Bird Photo Shoots

These are the outcome from a couple different evening photo shoots. I’m still hunting for the perfect, amazingly sharp osprey pictures… but think I’ll need to invest in a tripod to really get one. These are all hand held and it’s just too hard to focus at these focal lengths.  For now, I just need to settle with these and hope I get lucky some day.  I’m also waiting for the baby to take flight.  This is the most active I’ve seen it yet.

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM

I ordered a Sigma 70-200mm f2/8 EX DG HSM lens for my camera, which arrived yesterday.  It was a really windy day today and I had a chance to grab some pictures of the seagulls enjoying an afternoon meal.  This is my first real test of the lens, but so far, I have to say I’m happy with it.  I need to get MUCH faster at adjusting settings on the camera before the pictures will get much better than this.

Take a look for yourself and see what you think:

I’ll post some more when I get more comfortable with the lens (and camera 😉 In the mean time, I think this lens will be great for a couple of upcoming events I have in the next month.