Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The End of the Season (Christmas Edition)

(GPS: N37° 50.145 W119° 9.345)

Merry Christmas!

I have a lot to say here so I put this blog into three parts for easier reading.

I thought I would share a few things I did a few weeks ago as the Sierra quickly went from fall to winter conditions. The following is from my very last days there for the year. The heavy snow did not come until a week later, but during the time I was there the weather was really nice. One of the areas that was still easy to access was Parker Lake.

Part 1: The Parker Lake Hike

After a short dirt road drive off the June Lake Loop one goes to the trailhead parking for Parker Lake. There is some uphill on this hike, but nothing too dramatic. You can see some snow along the trail:

Then things flattened out for the rest of the hike. I encountered the stream that runs out of the lake, and then the trail goes through a forest of trees. Lots of leafless trees as fall colors were long gone by now:
I would say it takes about 45 minutes to get to the lake. You don’t actually get to see the full lake until you have cleared the forest right at the lake. I was somewhat surprised to see this:

It was completely iced over. The elevation is only in the 8,300 ft. range, but I didn’t think this lake would get this way at this time of the year. One thing I noticed is the sun does not hit the lake very long during this period. The sun barely goes over the mountain side and was already down during the early afternoon I took these pictures. While I would not consider the area I was at very cold, it definitely had a winter cool with it. It was rather pleasant, but quiet at the same time.

I went around the lake some more. One can continue around the lake to Parker Pass which gets you to the Mono Pass trail in Yosemite I have covered before. At about this time I heard a strange sound that sounded like a Star Wars gun laser sound. It kept happening. I then realized a man and woman had reached the lake and were throwing rocks on it. The rocks were bouncing off the lake ice and making that sound by bouncing along. I tried to do it a few times myself. I then realized why there were so many rocks on the lake.
Part 2: The Bobcat

One morning this creature came walking along the road by our place. Normally, we get lots of deer, squirrels, birds, and some bears, but to see a bobcat is rare in my experience there. Neighbors have told us of bobcats, but I never had seen one here. I ran down to the road and as soon I got there he turned around. I took a few pictures from the distance, but as soon as I took a step he took off. I lost him.
The next morning I decided to head into the forest a few miles away. I thought my chances of seeing the bobcat again were extremely low, but I was going to scout the area very carefully. After around an hour I finally saw something walking quickly away that was bigger than squirrels, but not as big as a deer so I knew I had what I was looking for.
I followed it to a stream and thought I would get a good video at this point. However, to my surprise, I saw it jump really high over the stream. I then thought I lost it for good because I had to backtrack to a bridge over the stream. I just didn’t want to get wet that morning or I would have been more daring about that.
I kept scanning the forest in the direction I saw it go. About seven minutes later I saw it running. I had finally caught up with it while it was resting, and I started to walk very slowly. I wanted to use the camcorder because I knew I could zoom in closer than my regular camera. Over the next few minutes I got as close as I could. On the final step I was going to make before I changed over to my camera it ran off.
I started to follow it and the bobcat went over a bunch of rocks that put it on higher ground. When I reached the rocks and looked around I started laughing. I remember a prayer I had the night before asking for one more chance to see this animal before I left the following day. Realizing that had come to pass, not wanted to give the cat any more grief by continuing to follow it around, and needing to get back to start packing up I took off.
All in all, it was really fun and slightly creepy trying to hunt this creature down. It was a quiet morning, and, apart from the animals, I was all alone out in the forest.
I put up a couple of videos tonight. The first one shows the Parker Lake hike and some of the bobcat. At the beginning I put in some old footage my dad took on his hike to this lake in 1989. I was not on that trip, but I thought it would be a good experiment and sentimental for some of the relatives I have that will see it.
Last summer I finally went and did a video of the place Django Unchained has a scene at. Since the movie comes out today…
Finally, two mountain lions were found in Oregon about a year and half ago. Apparently, their mother was killed. They were sent to a special zoo in Rosamond, CA that takes care of wild cats. A few months after that the brother and sister were sent to a local zoo in Orange County near me. So, this is Santiago and Modjeska in a short training session and then they were given Christmas presents to open:
Part 3: Violence and the Christmas Holiday Season
This will be the last blog of the year for me, and there are a couple of other things I wanted to mention. Things have been really scary in the real world out there. As you know there have been a bunch of fatal shootings that have made the news in the U.S. with the shooting in the Connecticut getting the most coverage. We just had one over the summer I had commented on at the time, but the sad truth is no matter what we do there will always be more evil out there so these things will continue to happen.
A few days before the Connecticut shooting there were helicopters flying over the local university. I went out to see what I could see only to come back inside to watch the event on television. Some thieves escaped into the university to avoid the police. The students there were locked down in the classrooms until late that night. It started at around 3pm and I think the last helicopter left sometime after 1am. One or two were captured, but a few of them got away. No one was hurt though.
Then, a few days after the Connecticut shooting I was sitting at the computer editing some of the videos and listening to the news about all that. I was thinking to myself about what I would do if that were to happen around here. Well, little did I know that a few hours later there would be a sniper with an assault rifle in the very room I was in. I don’t want to go into all the details because it is very sad, but a neighbor of mine decided that this was his final day of life. So, the police and SWAT teams were called in. One of them was in my backyard, but the other was up stairs in this room by the window with a good view of the neighbor’s backyard. My neighbor killed himself before law enforcement had entered his place. I should say that he had no intention of killing anyone other than himself, but it was still a scary situation. I had just seen him the night before in his kitchen which I can see from my kitchen. Everything seemed like any other night. He was a good neighbor, and I never had any issues with him. God bless his soul.
It seems like you hear more about these tragic events during the holiday season when things just get really depressing for some people. The state of the world, the recent election in the U.S., and economy in general has produced a lot of negative emotions. There is a lot to be down about.
On the one hand we are told that Christmas and the rest of the holidays are for being with family. Yet, there are many people that are not going to have family members with them this year. I can’t imagine how any of these living family members that have just lost their parents or kids could sing the song “Joy to the World” this time of year.
Yet, on the other hand, if the meaning to the words in that Christmas song have any purpose at all then they need to be sung no matter what the state we are in. They point to something beyond our current state of emotional well being. If there is any song for those broken hearted people then it is that one.
Enough from me this year. I kept the blog down to an all time low of 12 blog entries which is actually a good thing. I intend to keep it like this in the future, but will probably have a slightly bigger count next year. I will say more about this sometime in January.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"On Earth All Along"

 (GPS: N34° 00.075 W118° 48.490)

Happy Halloween!

For the full effect of what I was trying to do in this video I suggest you watch it first before scrolling down:

The following three paragraphs are “spoiler space”. To get to the main event of this blog (and the video), skip the next three paragraphs…

There are a few things I was trying to do in this video before I got to the main part of it. If you have been reading this blog for the past few months then the first part of the video is just a quick overview of some things I have said on the blog. That wasn’t really for you blog readers, but just to catch people up on the Youtube channel that don’t read the blog about some of my side-interests.

This video marks the 100th video for that channel. I have certainly done a lot more videos than that if I were to count everything I have uploaded since 2006. My previous channel was really close to that amount before I shut it down. However, this is the first channel I have had on Youtube that hit the 100 video mark. I have taken some videos down in the past, some videos are private, and some videos I could take down in the future, but I am letting this one represent the 100th public video. It was somewhat of a goal early on to hit the triple digits with videos, but not as important for me anymore. These days I just want to focus on quality, but you will have to forgive me if I throw-up some screwball videos once in a while. ;)

This is the first time that channel’s viewers are able to see a video from the newest camcorder. Depending on your computer hardware and connection you might be able to max out the settings on Youtube and see what it is like. Although for most people I would just recommend keeping the smaller screen. Do whatever works for you. I still will be uploading older videos from my old camcorder, but in the future you will see more from the new one.

Alright, enough spoiler space, hopefully you watched the video above so let’s get to the Twilight Zone moment here. The ending location of the original Planet of the Apes movie is rather well known. There are lots of things in print and online about it. One thing that has always bothered me about this spot is if you go to Point Dume (actually, Pirates Cove in Malibu) it doesn’t really look like the same spot as where the movie took place. While there is no doubt that the ending took place here, I haven’t found anything that is a little more specific as to what was going on here. So, if all goes well I hope that you will be able to see exactly what they did here, and I hope this is my little contribution to this well known location. Let’s backtrack a few minutes earlier in the movie:
As Charlton Heston and Nova (Linda Harrison) ride off on the beach, you see Cornelius (Roddy McDowell), Zira (Kim Hunter), the other chimpanzee, and Dr. Zaius debating about why Zaius wants to destroy the mine in the background with human artifacts in it. Now this shot was very clearly done at Pirates Cove. Just look to the right side of the cliff and you see that silver/white tainted rock. While there are other features to match up, that one is the easiest. You should be able to match this up with the one below:

Now if you look at the movie picture of the Statue of Liberty and compare it to my picture above things do not match up as easily. When I first saw pictures of Pirates Cove many years ago I was really bothered by this. Was this really the location? I did not doubt the people that said this was the spot, but I wanted to find a way to verify it independently.

Let’s go with the easy identification first, which I think is kind of amazing. If you look out into the ocean side to the right and look at those rocks they are all the same! My angle is off because that single rock is not lined up with the two close together in the background. So, it is matter of moving more to the left (and probably forward too) to get them to line up in my picture. You can see this in the video too if you look for it.

Of course, this is not the Alabama Hills, and I took into consideration that the salt water ocean and erosion could easily change the look of the cliffside rock formation over the years, especially something filmed over 40 years ago. While things have changed, it is just a matter of looking a little closer at the cliff side.

The first well known clue is that the Statue of Liberty was painted into the movie by an artist. I will link to a video below that discusses this. That helps, but didn’t really solve the problem for me. One might think that the Statue of Liberty was just to the right of where that cliff base touches the water. In fact, most of what I have seen in online tributes to the movie’s location do just this, but that is not right.

In the original movie picture, I circled some of the key features. Interesting enough, the three boulder rocks you see on the left side appear to be covering something up. I think those were added in so you would not be able to tell that this was a place seen just a few minutes earlier. If they weren’t there it would make it a little easier to see this.
I zoomed in on my picture and circled the same spots in it. The angle is slightly different in my picture, as I pointed out earlier I would have to move a little more to the left, but this is it. This one is more difficult in comparing so if you have an interest in this I would encourage you to click the pictures and save them so you can zoom in on the original size to compare. Use something like Photoshop so you can open up the photos in order to zoom and compare at the same time. Hopefully, you can see some of the small crevices and notches in the rocks.

So, the Statue of Liberty was actually inserted in between those circles into the cliffside itself. Hopefully, this animated GIF will work to show you the idea:

Here is the video on Youtube called “Behind the Planet of the Apes: ‘Creating the Statue of Liberty Ending’"  that talks about how they did it. One thing that I should add is it appears they also shot part of it on the beach right before you enter Pirates Cove. At 1:23 in the video they show what they were building as a set for the shot looking down on Charleton Heston from behind the Statue of Liberty. So, that part doesn’t appear to have been shot inside Pirates Cove. That would be the Westward Beach (which borders Zuma Beach) side you have to cross to get to Pirates Cove.

Sometime in the future I intend to show another well known Planet of the Apes location.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Why I Hate Yosemite and What is Killing the Internet

Actually, I don’t really hate Yosemite, nor do I believe that the internet is going to be dying. I’ve been reflecting over the past year on why I have burned out on a lot of things I used to like about being online. I think I have a better understanding now than I did a few years ago. Some of you that I have corresponded with by e-mail already know where this is going.

About a month ago I was at the summer home and my brother wanted to do some hikes in Yosemite. The last time I went inside the park, not just crossing over a mountain side or pass, I was not very happy about how that turned out which I blogged about at the time. Some years have passed since then, but the memories remain, and I did not like how we were treated there. Some of the hikes we did will come out at some point on here, but we did take a day to go into the valley. You get seven days when you acquire a pass at one of the gates so we wanted to take advantage of that on one of those days.

When we first got into the valley it was rather dry, warm, and mostly brown looking. The main waterfalls were practically all, if not completely, dry. We ended up taking a bus tour to Glacier Point. Looking back it might have been a better idea to drive ourselves, but I wanted to give my brother a break and not drive another hour.

Well, right away after we ordered our tickets there was some confusion as to what bus we were supposed to be on. We knew where to go, but the ticket agency and the bus drivers were not in sync on this. They kept telling us different things. As I went into this crowded bus we were forced to sit separately, I started to develop a bad mood, and realized this was probably not a good idea. The bus driver started talking to all of us on the bus, but I quickly realized this crowd was not lively at all. I kind of felt bad for the bus driver because it felt like no one wanted to be in that bus. In any case, off we went.

He told us some history, the origins of Yosemite, and other stories. I followed what he was saying, but I could understand if someone was bored with what was said. I got to see a little, but not as much as I would have liked from that seat in the back. Blah, blah, blah, etc. We finally got to Glacier Point.
We got there early that morning so the sun was not completely overhead. There had been some smoke due to lightning strikes so there was some haze in the air. In fact, there was smoke from a strike near the Mist Trail just outside the lower right side of my picture when we were there. Had we been there a few hours later my pictures would look different. I wasn’t trying to duplicate Ansel Adams here with the black and white look. Although I knew based on his pictures in Yosemite, what I had would look a lot better this way than with color. So, this is why I did a few tweaks in photoshop.

Now I have to admit the internet does not need more pictures like the ones I am posting on here. It is a great view, and I will give you that, but pictures like this have become what I call “token” shots. It is such a tourist spot that millions of people have come by here to take pictures of this. The uniqueness is not there that I like to strive for on this blog.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past year or two I have been standing next to a stranger as they say how they are going to post this on facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. People are flooding the internet with a lot of the same stuff over and over. It started to hit me more and more in the past two years that the online-world has become a little too cookie-cutter for me. The creativity is not out there like it used to be. I’ve just gotten to the point where nothing really surprises me anymore. Everything is a little too predictable with people stating the obvious 50,000 times. Like any genre, be it the movie western or types of music, the more it oversaturates the market it eventually gets to the point where people have to move on to something else.

It was always bothering me why sites like Youtube kept changing (and still do) their features every six months to a year against the wishes of the users. I think part of the problem is the concern the public is going to get bored and look for the next fad. Vimeo did something like this recently too which I will get back to at the end of this.

All of this is reminder of why I have enjoyed hiking in the quiet areas of the back country. When I was in Yosemite Valley I felt like I was walking through Wal-Mart. Too many people! I feel bad for the people that come from other countries and think this is where they have to go. I don’t think they are getting a true Sierra wilderness experience.

So, when we came out of Yosemite Valley (and Glacier Point) I did not have that feeling of satisfaction I do hiking out somewhere in the Eastern Sierra. On that tour bus you can go up to Glacier Point and walk down back to the valley. We thought about it, but just decided to come back on the bus so we could spend more time in the valley before we left. There was a young lady with friends who said that was boring and that she was going to “hike” back down to the valley. She did not say that to us directly, but if she did I would have ripped her a new one for that. Down-hiking a few thousand feet back to the valley is not what I would call a hike. The real hike would have been coming up from below. Then again, most of the hikes inside of Yosemite I do not really think are that impressive, but I did get one in that I liked. Of course, I love the stuff that just borders Yosemite on the east side which is totally different than what I am referring to.

So, those are my main thoughts on the current state of things. Take it for whatever it is worth.

Let me give an update on a few things:
1)I really meant to have a few more videos up this summer. I started editing before the summer began, but never uploaded any. They are done, and are ready to go. Most are just old footage from the old camcorder; mostly remakes of things I have done before. Be sure to check the Youtube channel in the next few weeks for this since I will not update them on this blog. I will announce them on Twitter though.

2)Vimeo shot themselves in the foot with me. My paid subscription ends tomorrow. I don’t like how they have changed the video viewing to a full screen. The only way I could use it like I used to would be to embed it on here for each video, and I am not doing that. If they make the necessary changes then I will purchase another year from them, but at this point my money goes elsewhere. So, as much as I hate to say this, you are probably better off going to my Youtube channels right now.

3)I have started going to a few new and old movie and hike locations with the new camcorder. At some point I will start mixing in the new camcorder videos, but at the same time still upload some of the older footage at times.

4)Again, don’t expect me to come up with blogs every week like I have done in the past. Blogs will come, but at a slower pace which will keep me refreshed. At some point I will open up the comments on new blogs again, but I am not in a hurry on that. One thing I am not sure everyone realizes is that I get tons of e-mails. Not just from the blog, but the more I blog the more I get. Sometimes I think people see something I did 1-2 years ago on here and e-mail me as if I just put it up last week. It gets worse the older in the archives people go. Other times I feel like I created a second job for myself that I do for free.

That should cover it. I feel much, much better than I did a couple of months ago. Whatever I had took about five to six months of my life from me. This summer was just about getting back into reasonable shape. So, I was not as hardcore in what I did, but it was fun.

When you have time be sure to check these out:

Blue Whale Breaching Competition

The Day of the Fin Whale

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Devil's Doorway (The Iverson Ranch Series)

(GPS: N34 16.525 W118 36.600)

Like I lot of places I have covered on this blog in the past, this is another one that I had hoped to have up a long time ago, but never did. My trips to Iverson Ranch go much further back than this blog, but back in those days I was not as "hardcore" about hunting these places down as I have become over the years. This is one of those spots that I was always trying to get good pictures and footage of, but never did.

How come? The lighting I had was never really that good during the time of the year I would go. I would get there early so there would be too much shade or the sun would not be overhead. One time I shot okay video there, but then a month or two later I got a new camcorder so I would just tell myself I would go back for better footage. Then the next time I would go and the wind would be really bad with garbage cans falling over on the streets. I was tempted to post that footage just to show the crazyness of it. Even with this "latest footage" from a year or two back I just sat on it thinking I might go back to Iverson again. Well, enough is enough, lets just do it now.

So, walking down one of the side streets with all the condos around one can see this big rock ahead. It has been seen in old b-movies, but you have to look for it. I've got a story about the condo on the left, but I'll get to that in a moment. The key here is to walk to the end of the street you see and turn right.This is known as the Devil's Doorway. It is an arch hat still exists today, and both sides have been used in lots of old b-westerns and serials. This next photo is from Buster Keaton's Three Ages silent movie. Here Buster Keaton's character runs over the top of the big rock avoiding the other caveman.Here is how it looks these days. If you look carefully through the archway you will notice a condo on the other side. In the Days of Jesse James, Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes, and others went through the arch to avoid being chased.Gene Autry used it to slip away in Oh! Susanna.Looking directly through it. Lots of other examples could be listed of movies and serials that used it. I show a few others in the video.

Before I post the video links I thought I would tell the story about what happened as I was doing the video of this area the last time I was there. I made the trip, and the first thing I did was walk right to this spot. With no hesitation I started making the video. I knew what needed to be done and what needed to be said as I am usually well prepared when making videos of places I have been to before. Within about 30 seconds of me doing the first take a dog started barking, and the garage door about 15 feet behind me went up! The guy who lived there pulled out with his car, and offered to sell me the rocks if I could find a way to transport them. We both agreed that might be a little tough. He was a friendly guy, but it kind of spooked me. That's one of those things that I have always explained about why I don't enjoy going to Iverson Ranch as much as other places: everything is a little cramped and you quite literally have your back against people's property. I added some of that footage with the dog barking and the garage door going up at the end of the video for fun. You wouldn't know it from watching it as I completely shut up at that time, but that is what happened.

The Devil's Doorway (Youtube Version)

The Devil's Doorway (Vimeo Version)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Water Rises!

In my last blog I mentioned that it is highly unlikely earthlings will ever encounter intelligent life from space due to what is known as the “rare earth” hypothesis. Even if there is life, the problem of traversing the amount of light years to reach any other life permitting planet makes it practically impossible. But, what if we have “alien life” right hear on earth?

I think the closest thing we have to this type of experience is the ocean itself. Many of the creatures that live there are intelligent, but have that mysterious otherworldly appearance to them. That watery environment is one we don’t live in so it is almost like being in space. So, it is like visiting alien beings from another world. Many people have had similar thoughts about this. The most famous example is Douglas Adams The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series where he refers to dolphins really being aliens from another world. My views of astronomy have made me connect with the ocean world in much the same way.

Since I am fortunate to live relatively close to the ocean for most of the year, I have spent a lot more time whale watching and visiting aquariums during the past two years. When I was kid I used to go to the Marineland of the Pacific to see Orky and Corky the killer whales and other dolphins. Corky is still around and lives at Seaworld San Diego. The aquarium aspect isn’t new to me. On the other hand, my only experience whale watching when I was younger was a complete flop where we saw no whales at all. So, it was relatively recently I started doing this again.

A blue whale model from the Aquarium of the Pacific:

The blue whale is the one that we see the most of during the summer months. It is the biggest creature that has ever lived on the planet including the dinosaurs. It is the one I emphasize, but we do get fin whales, minke whales, gray whales, humpback whales, and sperm whales. The last two are more rare around where I live, and I have yet to see them in person. We also gets lots of common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, pacific-white sided dolphin, risso’s dolphin, and orcas (killer whales). The last three are much more rare to see around here.

Here’s the deal. I originally was not sure I would ever upload any pictures or video about these animals for a bunch of reasons. One, there is already so much out there you can watch on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, not to mention tons of stuff online already. Two, in the past when I uploaded anything on animals I always did it in a slightly humorous way, and I would always attract people that took it way more serious than I intended. Third, some of the “animal rights” crowd I don’t want anything to do with. Notice I say some and not all because, like within any group, you will find different types of people that are not all the same. But, I have encountered some really nutty people that I consider crackpots that don’t know how to make basic moral/ethical distinctions or basic reasoning itself for that matter. In fact, some I would consider “morally sick” if they really believe what they say they believe. For these reasons I really have hesitated whether I wanted to post anything at all on this.

I did start another blog just for this sort of thing to keep it separate from what I do on here, but I have not followed up on it. I’m still not sure what I will do with that. If I do start doing more of that then I will link it on the side with the rest.

I would highly recommend you check out these three videos which I did last week with the new camcorder:

Let me throw in these two that were done in August, 2012:

Blue Whale Breaching Competition

The Day of the Fin Whale

This is the Youtube channel that I will put up various whale watching videos:

The Water Rises (Youtube Channel)

It’s a lot more of a challenge to do these types of videos because of the conditions I encounter with the boat rocking along with the waves, the way the captain moves the boat, the weather conditions, whether the animals cooperate in the right place at the right time, and whether the animals are there at all. I have a lot of junk I will never ever post.

I don’t intend to use this blog for this because I don’t want my ocean adventures to dominate the content I produce for the blog. Maybe once in a great while if I get extraordinary footage, but that is it. I’m fine with keeping this blog the way it is right now.

As an important current event issue relating to all of this…during last year I had this idea that yesterday (July 20th) would be the day I announce “The Water Rises” project. Part of the name of the title is laugh and nod at the recent The Dark Knight Rises movie and the main villain of the story saying “The Fire Rises” at the beginning. “The Fire Rises” was also used as a promotional tool last year. Well, yesterday came and due to the tragedy in Colorado I did not feel it was right putting this up yesterday. I am truly in grief about what happened. Evil exists and there are powerful forces that are way beyond any of us that I am not sure we have the ability to stop with our own abilities. We are shocked with mass killings, but you know it will happen again in the future. All I can say is be aware of your surroundings out there and how you plan to get out of areas in a hurry if something does go down.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Venus Transit (June 5, 2012)

So after the partial eclipse I encountered I was eagerly awaiting June 5, 2012 that would be the final Venus transit of the sun in our lifetime. So, here is how the sun was that day:I took tons of pictures that day and I was constantly heading to the computer to transfer my pictures and see what was being said online. I had a few video feeds open, and there was a satallite taking pictures of the sun that I collected the jpgs from all that evening. I think the whole thing ended just after 9pm pst. Here is Venus making the transit:Through the perspective I have it in these pictures, venus continued going straight up and crossed the sun that way. I think when I ended my telescope viewing the sun was just past half-way of its traversing of the sun. It was a unique event so it was worth checking out.

BTW, back in December I woke up early one morning to catch the Lunar Eclipse. Unfortunately, it happened almost before the sun was about to come up. So, it was not as impressive as it could have been. I was robbed the year before during a lunar eclipse because it rained that night. So, this one I finally saw with my telescope. This is a short video of the event just with my camcorder. No telescope involved with it:

Glimpses of the Moon

Now I wish I could show views of galaxies, nebula, stars, etc. on here, but unfortunately I would need to spend a lot money for astrophotography equipment. Not now, but I leave that open for the future. I have other things that are more important to me right now. So, this will probably the last I do of showing pictures of astronomical objects for the time being.

What is interesting to me is looking at all of these pictures that the Hubble Telescope has taken of all these galaxies and places so far away. There are so many light years between us and them that we will never reach them. When I was younger there was talk that since our sun is just a star then all those other stars must have planets. Therefore, there probably is life out there somewhere. However, that has changed in that we have found out that the earth and its conditions for life are much more rare that previously thought. So, we probably are the only intelligent ones around in this huge universe.

So, we will probably never meet "aliens" out there. Disappointing? Maybe. However, maybe there is an alien world out there with intelligent life...but it happens to be on our own planet. ;) I'll explain tomorrow in my next blog.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Partial Eclipse (May 20, 2012)

I thought I would continue my little mini-series here on astronomical objects with a few photos I have taken in the past two months on some of the solar events that took place. I meant to have all this up right after the events happened, but I had so much going on that it was just not possible. Not to mention that on the days both events happened I had some personal issues that made me not enjoy doing this as much as I would have liked, BUT I DID IT ANYWAYS! You can't stop science! :)

On May 20, 2012 we had an annular eclipse where I live. However, I only got to see a partial version of it. Had it happened a week later I might have been able to see it in Reno, NV completely, but that's how things work out.

I am not going to try to fool anyone. I am a total amateur when it comes to telescopes and taking pictures with them. I have an eight-inch Dobsonian reflector telescope. I purchased a specific filter to be able to do this...stating the obvious: never look at the sun through a telescope without the proper protection.

To get better pictures of this event I would have had to thrown more money at some other items, but this was good enough. The astronomical hobby is one where you have to be ready to spend big money the more you want better features. That is something I am trying to avoid doing too much of right now.

What you see in the next picture is the sun with the black sun spots on it. Nothing was happening at this point that afternoon.
Then the moon started to intercep the sun.As more time went on the sun started to look like Pac-man.This was one of the final shots I got. At this point a bunch of the neighbor's trees were going to get in the way and I decided I got what I wanted. I could have taken the scope somewhere else and continued, but this was good enough.Tomorrow I will show what I did regarding the Venus transit of the sun that happened a few weeks after this.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Return to Mt. Wilson

This blog is a follow up to my series I did about Mt. Wilson Observatory about a year ago. At the end of November I went back to Mt. Wilson Observatory, but this time it was by car making it an easier trip on the legs this time around. It was done on the final weekend of the season where the public can still access it. The purpose of this visit was to take the tour of the place with a docent.

We visited the 150-ft solar telescope by going inside the small room they have there for it. This is where they take readings of the sun through the scope. The machine they have moves it back and forth capturing the whole sun.That circle you see goes back and forth. It gets readings of the solar happenings, like black spots.The tour lasts about two hours and the docent covers everything, but the main event is the trip to see the 100-inch Hooker telescope. This is the bottom of the telescope up close. If you look in from one of those bottom holes you can see that green glass that is the base of the big mirror.These are the controls to the finder scope.Looking at the top from below.It was really fun seeing this stuff from the inside rather than behind the window I had to view it from last time. You have to take the tour to access the inside.

There were a couple of things that came up the docent answered that made more sense to me after this tour. The first thing was that the "Hubble Chair" that is on what is called the "Diving Board" was essentially a "prop" that really was never used to view the telescope. The user of the scope would be on that platform sitting down rather than being in a chair. If you go back to the historical picture I showed in that series of blogs you will see Hubble and James Jeans sitting like they would have rather than using a chair.

The second thing mentioned was someone asked where the eyepiece would have been to allow the viewer to see whatever was being viewed. This was something that puzzled me as well. The docent said that early on that might have been the case when the telescope was first being used, but the whole point of it was to take pictures of the night sky. So, it was a case of lining it up with whatever needed to be viewed and then let the picture be taken of the night sky. Most amateur astronomers use various eye pieces for their telescopes, but this was not the case here.

The Return to Mt. Wilson (Youtube Version)

The Return to Mt. Wilson (Vimeo Version)

This blog and the previous blogs on Mt. Wilson Obsevatory can be found by clicking this link.

Finally, to visit the observatory grounds by car you need an Adventurer's Pass to park on the grounds. Also, the Cosmic Cafe is open on weekends during the season the public can access the place. You can buy food here, merchandise, and tour tickets.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

High Sierra Fireworks

Nothing too impressive here. I just wanted to do a short test to see how Youtube is working these days and what features have changed. This was near a lake looking at the fireworks done at a local town. After the car drives by you can kind of a hear the night sounds of what lives at the lake as the fireworks are going off.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spring Thaw (Summer is a Here!)

I am going to mention a few things about how I will be operating this summer on here, but before I do that…

A few weeks ago I was finally on a trip out of town that I have not had since last fall. This was not a fun trip because it was mostly about doing yard work. I did get a few hours of playtime on one morning though.

The full report on what I was doing there will have to wait. It was a hike back to Fantail Lake and the area around there just over Tioga Pass. Most of the time when I visit this lake there are more people around and it is a lot more green.
We did not take the normal trails I would usually take to get back here. We were actually up higher and then descended down to it. After looking at the lake we decided to go up higher still since we had the time and it was still early. I was curious to see if we could find Spuller Lake.

As we scrambled higher and higher I decided we did not need to go any further. I was kind of disappointed I did not find the lake because it looked like we would have to go even higher. So we stopped and rested. Then I looked a little more to the west. Oh, that is where Spuller Lake is. I have not looked at my coordinates online yet, but I think we found an iced over lake that would have to be it.
What you see above is from where we stopped looking back down to Fantail Lake. You can see Mt. Dana as the high point to the right in the background. Down below Mt. Dana is where the east entrance to Yosemite would be. I like the picture because it is a little different than what I normally experience out here in July/August, but not quite as powerfully scenic as I know the area to be.
It was a strange year for snow in that the Tioga Pass did not close until January which is very late. There was snow this year, but not an overwhelming amount. Normally, I would not be back here this early because Tioga Pass usually opens a little later. Even then, I would not come back here due to the amount of snow that takes a month or two to melt away. In any case, it was good for a few hours of fun and the Great Silence was definitely there.

As far as the blog goes, here is how I intend to do things over the summer:

1)I will be posting a few items over the summer. I decided I am going to go ahead and edit some older video footage together from the old camcorder. Any footage from the new camcorder will have to wait until I get a new computer.

2)Even though I have been sick and am starting to feel a lot better than I did two months ago, I think some people were under the impression I would start right back up with weekly blogs, etc. I really don’t intend to do that anymore as I have said more than few times. In the past I thought it was important to keep the blog going with regular articles on things I wanted to post about. I don’t feel that way anymore. I would rather post a few items once in a while and see how it goes. If I feel differently in the future then so be it, but that is the way it will be for the foreseeable future.

3)Same with comments. It’s just not something that I care too much about right now. Let’s just say that I have social media burnout, and I think the internet is really being dumbed down because of the oversaturation of it.

Remember, this is The Great Silence Blog, and not The Great Noise Blog. ;)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Chained! (The Alabama Hills Series)

This is from the trailer of Django Unchained a movie coming out later this year. Props to Quentin Tarantino for filming here.

Anyone have a clue where this was filmed at?

Hint: yeah, I've covered it before.

Edit (June 20, 2012): Okay, time to show where the above picture was filmed at. It's an easy one. I probably have a picture like the above somewhere on cd/dvd, but can't find it. In fact, I did have video footage from last summer looking in this direction, but decided to cut it out of the video I did. Then I deleted it. Let me give you something that should work, and then maybe I will add something more by the time the movie comes out.
Here is another angle of Gene Autry Rock. There are about four rocks on the left side in the background.

Now compare those rocks to the ones you see on the right in the background of the trailer picture. The big rock that is pointing straight up in the trailer picture is Gene Autry Rock. So, the trailer picture is looking more to the south where you do not get to see Gene Autry Rock in all its glory.

Edit (December 23, 2012): Okay, taken last summer, something like this:


"Chained!" (Youtube Version)

"Chained! (Vimeo Version)

Gene Autry Rock Blog (and links to videos)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Rising From the Dead!

The way I have felt like it sure does feel like it!

Happy Easter!

Normally, when I get sick it lasts about a few days to a week where I feel bad and then I need another week to fully recover. That's been my experience for most of my life because I have been blessed with pretty good health. As you might guess I keep myself in pretty good shape in order to go on the hikes I enjoy doing. Although in the past few years I have slacked off a little due to not have the same motivation. I hope to get that back starting today.

What happened to me was during the last few days of January I was out of town, and when I came back I started having strange things happen to me. I went out jogging and was really light-headed in such a way that I felt if I was not careful I might fall over. Then over the next few days my digestive system was not right. Long story short, this was something I have never encountered before and would plague me over the next two months. I usually avoid going to the doctor because of the way I usually recover from sickness, but this thing I had kept coming back like it would not go away. So, I went to the doctor. All I got out of it was a bill, a few tests, and told to get some over the counter stuff. I got to the point where I wondered if I would ever get over what I had.

It took me about a month and a half before I finally felt good again. I still had some symptoms, but at least I felt better. Another two weeks and I felt like it was finally coming to and end. I never truly understood what happened to me. One problem I had was the weather was very cool during this time. The days that it did warm up where I am out I felt better and was not coughing as much.

It's times like this that are a reminder that all it takes is one deadly sickness or a doctor telling him or her they have a life threatening disease that one realises they are not the invincible person he or she thinks they are. As far as I am, things are almost back to normal for me. The only difference is I have made some dietary changes which I think will help me getting back to the hiking shape I want to be in.

As far as the blog goes, I meant to have something up in March, but as I have just written about it was the last thing on my mind. As the last blog entry in December noted I am not going to be posting as much from now on, but will have something up once in a while. I am postponing what I said I would do in that last blog for a while. I do intend to have something else up by next month.

One of the issues I have is that with my new camcorder the video files edit and convert at a lot slower pace on my main computer. I can't just do what I have been doing in the past because as it was it converted slow, but this is much worse. So, sometime this year I hope to get a faster computer. This is one of the big issues that I had that led to me wanting to get away from the computer and blogging because I was spending too much time behind a computer screen.

With that said, I do have some projects in the works. Although I have not done too much in the past few months, but as we get to the summer that might change. Good grief! Have you seen the gas prices?! ;)

Earlier today I was back at the Ramona Bowl. Each year on Easter the local Calvary Chapel in Hemet puts on an Easter pageant. They called this one More Than a Man. I had never been to it before so I decided to show up and watch it. A lot of singing was involved. The way they did it the main characters of the story were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea in that they had the most speaking parts in their coming to terms as to what Jesus was/is.

Jesus and some of his followers:
They use the hillside for the Crucifixion. Most of the people you see are singing. The small group in the background are grieving:
Finally, after what appears to be an earthquake, an angel appears who scares the Roman guards away. The angel tells the women who come to the tomb that Jesus has risen:
So, just thought you all deserved an update on what has been going on. As I once heard said in a Monty Python movie, "I'm not dead yet! I'm getting better!" ;)