ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Oct. 6th, 2017 09:31 am)

I posted a photo on Instagram in August that was pretty popular, even though I thought it was a little dark. I've noticed that I tend to prefer a lightened version of my photos, but now I'm wondering if they're better, or if's just me preferring brighter. So ... I'm asking you. This photo was taken at dusk along Sand Lake, at Chain O' Lakes Park near Albion. Which version do you prefer?

The original:


The slightly brightened:



That's the family out on the dock, of course.

I studied photography for quite a while, but that was back in the film days; I'm still getting used to the idea that I can make substantial changes to a picture after taking it.

I took a few photos when we were in Missouri to see the total eclipse, and I thought I'd pass some on. Not of the eclipse itself--the video I posted a few days ago is about the best I could do with that.


We were at the Meramec State Park near Sullivan, Missouri. You can learn more about it here:



I've been describing it as central Missouri, but it's only about 60 miles from St. Louis, so it's really more east central Missouri. It has rugged hiking trails, caves, zero cell phone reception (which is both a good and bad thing), and it edges the Meramec River, so there's the swimming and boating thing. A really nice place that we're hoping to visit again something, a couple of hours from Emily's parents' house.


More about the park later--I have lots of pictures. But I didn't have the best camera there:



There was a good crowd, and we were thankful to have headed there in the wee hours of the morning, even though the roads there and the park itself were both pretty out of the way.


The park had a big awning up with activities and information, and even a board where visitors could show they were there:


As cool as the partial eclipse was, the wait for totality seemed to take forever, especially with the temperature hovering at around a million degrees while we stood in the sun and stared upward. Did I complain? I did not, having been convinced for weeks that it would be cloudy that day, wherever we were. The good thing about being a pessimist is that you're never disappointed.



Some of us were more relaxed than others:

Considering how much my neck hurt the next day, he has a point. But considering how little he moved throughout the lead-up to totality, I wonder how sunburned he got--we kept ducking back under the trees--and whether his eyes were sore later. At least he brought enough cigarettes.


As the eclipse advanced, we began to see a curious effect that's common with partial eclipses. The vanishing sun continued to shine through the trees, which produced a pinhole effect that allowed us to see the eclipse on the ground below:


As it grew darker, a dog that belonged to people nearby dragged his blanket out, pulled it into a circle, and got ready for bed. He was very confused when nap time ended so quickly.


And then: totality.

Yeah, that's totality. It's just that my camera couldn't handle it. Here's Venus coming out, beside a jet contrail:

Seeing some of the other cameras set up there, I'll bet there are a whole bunch of much better pictures. I took a few and then put the camera down. Emily and I just stood there with our arms around each other, taking it in. I've said it before: Even the best photographs, with the best cameras, don't begin to do a total eclipse justice. There's nothing like seeing it with your own eyes. And, although we certainly had ups and downs on that trip--it was totality worth it.


ozma914: (Courthouse)
( Apr. 15th, 2017 03:55 pm)

I posted this photo on Instagram the other day, but didn't get a chance to put it up elsewhere until now:

That's the Albion Fire Department off in the distance, and the Sheriff's Department communications tower to the left. I'd just gotten off work and was really lucky to snap this--the orange dimmed out just minutes later.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Feb. 2nd, 2017 03:12 pm)

I gave the grand-twins a glow-in-the-dark model of the solar system for Christmas, but my daughter tells me the planets won't glow. Now I'm beginning to worry that Bae may have licked the glow material from their surfaces.


But at least he's snuggly.

Emily and I hitched a ride with my oldest daughter's family for trick or treating around Albion.


My son-in-law was nice enough to drive, but he didn't talk much: Vince had a splitting headache.


My daughter Charis has always loved Halloween. Me, not so much since the doctor made me cut down on candy ... please don't tell him I collected a treat tax from the grand-twins.


That's Brayden on the left--what, you don't recognize him? and Hunter on the right. I asked Brayden why his character has an eye patch but doesn't use it, and he replied, "He does, sometimes". Maybe that's how he picks up girls.


I wonder if the grand-twins were nervous to have a zombie and vampire sitting behind them? That's not my costume, by the way: On my days off I always look like that.


Stone’s Trace photo slam part 1

As promised, here are some photos we took during our daylong book signing last week at the Stone's Trace Pioneer Festival south of Ligonier. They're only up on my blog because ... man, what a pain posting turned out to be.
ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Jul. 31st, 2015 02:09 pm)

I’ve been away from the computer lately, for vacationy stuff. It was refreshing and usually fun, and we even managed to get out of the area for a week—not exactly a relaxing kind of a trip, as I’ll detail later.


Sometimes fun is sitting on a beach with a good book; sometimes fun is clamboring into caves and hiking to waterfalls while researching a good book. Don’t worry, there’ll be photos.


I’ve been neglecting my blog terribly, which isn’t a good thing for a working writer. Recently I read writers should put a “selling” post on their blog and social media only once every six posts or so. That makes sense: Why read someone when all they ever talk about is how often you should read them? By the way, you should read me often.


Sometimes it’s hard to control that: Such as earlier this month, when I had a book signing, and later next month, when I have a new book release as well as some appearances. But ordinarily I think it’s a good idea, if you want people to think your writing is entertaining, to write entertaining stuff.


I’d look just like Captain Obvious if I was just a bit slimmer.


Some blogging experts (can you get a degree in that?) believe your blog should be narrowly focused. If you’re a tree frog expert and keep your posts all about tree frogs, you’ll soon be followed by hundreds, if not thousands, of tree-frog entheusiasts, right? And whether you submit your book about tree frogs to a publisher or go independent, having a following of tree-frog lovers ready to buy your book is a huge advantage.


Makes sense.


But I’m a person of eclectic, if low-brow, tastes. I don’t have one obsession alone unless it’s writing, and if I write only about writing doesn’t that bring me back to the original problem? The only thing my interests really have in common is humor, and sometimes not that.


So here’s an idea: rotating through various subjects, in addition to talking about the writer’s life. Not necessarily on a specific day, but mixing it up so there’s something for everyone, and when appropriate loading some humor into it. Some possible topics include entertainment (Hey, I still watch some TV) and the possibly related book/movie reviews; emergency services (‘cause I’ve got that firefighter/911 dispatcher thing going on); photography (pictures make everything better); history (we’re releasing a humorous history book next year, which will make my third history related project); local/Indiana stuff; politics (if I can stomach it); and … I don’t know. What else?


So what do you think? As always I have to think about what will sell the most books, but above all I have to be funny, or entertaining … or maybe the word is interesting. It turns out a proper blog is a lot of work.

We left Pokagon State Park at about 12:30 this afternoon, figuring to get ahead of a vicious looking black cloud. We failed. On I-69 it got nighttime dark, with an edge of light on the horizon that made things look a little surreal; that was when I looked to my left and said something that I won’t repeat here, but won’t win me any awards for great sayings.


I wouldn’t recommend pulling over along an interstate, but I also wouldn’t recommend calling 911 while driving 70 mph in wind gusts and a downburst. While we were stopped we saw at least three or four funnel clouds, or possibly one or two that would come down, spin around for awhile, then lift back up only to emerge again. We had a scare when it looked like a touchdown directly ahead of us along an overpass, during which I cussed in the 911 dispatcher’s ear, but I think it was a front gust that blew dust and rain over the top of the bridge. On the way home we caught a little hail, but by the time we got to Kendallville it was just heavy rain.

 Emily said she’d never go storm chasing with me … but she said nothing about already being in the car when the storm chased us.


In all the fuss of other things going on, writing related and not, Emily and I got behind on photo scanning for our book project. Several people have already loaned us historical pictures for Images Of America: Albion and Noble County, and we spent some time working on them this morning … so we can get more later!

One of the photos we have is of a female daredevil who met with a tragic accident a hundred years ago on Albion’s courthouse square. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she died. That hospital later became a dentist office downstairs, and an apartment upstairs … and I lived in that apartment for a time. Connections like that make local history even more interesting for me. (And a little spooky.)

Just wanted to show some photos I took right after a storm that came through Albion earlier in the month. It can be hard to get good sunset pictures, but I thought these came out fairly well.

Just wanted to show some photos I took right after a storm that came through Albion earlier in the month. It can be hard to get good sunset pictures, but I thought these came out fairly well. )
ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( Jul. 16th, 2012 03:56 am)

I took this picture at a field fire we fought back on July 6th. Thought I'd throw this in because starting later this week I'm doing a two part feature article called "Anatomy of a Field Fire", giving an insider look at what goes on when we get a Big One like this. (Well, it's big for us!) I'll repost that feature here after it's run in the newspaper, but meanwhile here's a teaser photo and the original news article on the fire.




     Five firefighters were hospitalized after spending Friday afternoon in triple digit heat, fighting a blaze that burned over a wheat field and damaged two buildings along CR 600 N, near Sacryder Lake.

     Numerous firefighters were treated for heat exposure at the scene of the fire, which blackened about ten acres near 3388 E 600 N. The incident began at about 3:53 p.m., and although its cause remains under investigation, a combine being used in the field at the time could have caused a spark that started the fire.

     Albion and Orange Township fire trucks were initially dispatched to the call, but when heavy smoke was seen as far away as Albion, firefighters quickly called for mutual aid. Six fire departments sent trucks to the scene. Extra manpower had to be called in because temperatures at the time hovered in the low 100's, quickly sapping the strength of responders wearing protective gear.

     Flames leaped several feet in the air in the standing wheat, while the fire also burned through a drought-dried lawn to surround a home, pole barn, and an old bus parked on the property. Radiant heat curled up the home's siding and spread fire into the walls, forcing firefighters to work fast to keep the two story wood frame home from erupting into flames.

     Minor damage resulted to the house and outbuilding and to several acres of wheat, in a field reportedly owned by Richard Bauman. The flames burned around a propane tank and the bus, but neither seemed to sustain serious damage.

     Noble County EMS personnel treated several firefighters at the scene for heat exposure. Five were reportedly taken to Parkview-Noble Hospital for further treatment: Four for heat exhaustion, and one for a hand injury. Firefighters set up a folding dump tank, usually used to hold water for fighting rural structure fires, and personnel used it as a pool to cool off in.

     The extreme weather heated up the pavement on 600 N so much that turning water tanker trucks damaged the roadway. Noble County Highway personnel were called in to make repairs, and to spread sand over the road's hot tar to prevent further damage and injuries. Noble County Sheriff's Department deputies also came to the scene, as the road had to be shut down between 400 E and 500 E because of the large number of emergency vehicles crowding the area.

     It took over an hour to bring the blaze under control, and emergency units stayed on the scene until about 6:30 p.m. Fire units of the Albion, Orange Township, Avilla, Kendallville, LaOtto, and Ligonier fire departments responded to the scene, while Noble Township fire trucks provided standby coverage at the Albion fire station. Twenty-three Albion firefighters were among those who responded, manning seven units.

     Albion and Orange Township fire units against responded to 600 N Sunday afternoon, when a grass fire was reported about two miles west of the first blaze, but the second was brought quickly under control.



ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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