Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year Prairie House With Modern Facilities

This simple house has no known connection to leap year except that I am posting it on February 29th. A small house by modern standards, this structure is now part of a barn museum complex located in South Amana, Iowa. Imagine living in this one or two room structure on the just ploughed prairie back in the day. Maybe that's why a modern outhouse can be seen in the background. Know that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Long Before Valentine's Day eCards and Facebook Greetings

Valentine's Day in grade school, back in the distant 1960s, meant constructing a special box to receive cards from all your classmates. Usually the collection of store bought cards contained an assortment of designs and sayings so you could pick the best ones for people who you really liked and generic designs and sayings for the rest. The teacher got the one large card.

Following card disbursement there was time to see what you personally received from others. How many hours did you spend decoding the design, dopey sayings, and personal handwritten messages from someone you really liked? Was there something there that wasn't there before? Could this be the start of something bigger? Generally not to all of the above, as I recall. But it was grade school back in the late Sixties (man) where everyone was digging the groove.

Mass Valentine's Day card giving still lives on for grade schoolers, but I suppose the practice is eroding with the advent of mass communication technology. Older kids and adults make use of email, eCards, texting, and Facebook greetings for their targeted display of Valentine-mania. Still there is something about receiving a paper card, opening the envelope and dissecting the message for clues about possible relationships real or imagined. Know that.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

First Star That I See Tonight

Burning in the western sky just after sunset is the planet Venus. You can't miss this bright, earth sized object if you have clear skies and an unobstructed view of the west. Yes, you may need hot coffee to warm you during the observation but the sight is worth the effort. Good binoculars or a small telescope will be able to resolve the planet's disk for you. Venus will be placed in the west for a few more weeks so you should have a chance to see it.

Also, just 30 degrees east of Venus (currently) is the solar system's largest planet, Jupiter. This massive planet can also be resolved in good binoculars or a small telescope. In fact Jupiter's four Galilean moons can often be seen. Jupiter and Venus will appear to move closer to each other from our vantage point until mid-March. Now is a good time to check celestial mechanics at their best. Good viewing. Know that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Special World of a HDR Winter

Snowfall has been sparse around most of the 42N latitude this winter. To make the surrounding area look more wintry here is a photo from this afternoon's visit to the Wapsipinicon State Park near Anamosa, Iowa. HDR or High Dynamic Range is a image processing filter that can bring out more fuller ranges between light and dark. I used HDR to improve the normal photo to a quasi-psychedelic image. I will miss Picnik when it leaves the net on April 19th. I liked the curve of the road with the contrast of snow and open areas framed by the bare trees. This spot is on my list to re-shoot when I can properly compose the exposure. Know that.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Buddy Holly Lives On With Good Rockin' Tonight

At this time of year there are many celebrations of Buddy Holly's life and music. Last year I wrote a piece on his 1959 Winter Dance Party's bus repair in Tipton, Iowa. The blog post received many views, generated some comments and even a few emails. One email received was from a film maker who is producing a documentary about that winter bus trip that Holly, Valens, the Big Bopper and others experienced. I don't know the status of the production nor have seen any mention of it.

Buddy Holly's spirit goes on with celebrations like this Dubuque dance event scheduled for the weekend. At Clear Lake's famous Surf Ballroom, the site of Buddy's last performance, is an annual celebration - this year featuring Pat Boone, the Big Bopper's son and more bands. Its a good way to remember the person, the musicians and to celebrate some very endearing music. Know that.