Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 4.021: Snow flakes (not falling...yet)

It started out as a quiet craft activity in the middle of the day over the weekend making snow-flakes.

Then someone said something which challenged me to make this:

Fun! Then this morning when I saw this:

I naturally thought of taking this:

Yeah well, we can't win them all. It's a macro (close-up) done by holding the lens on the camera backwards. Maybe I'll try again sometime when I'm not rushing off to work.

In any case if photographing snow is my thing I should be in luck as there is a big storm on the way. Check out All Over Albany's preview - it's a classic!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 4.020: "A little bit cheeky" is right!

Sledding in our backyard may not have the speed or excitement of big-hill sledding - but that doesn't mean it's any less fun.

Check out how E5N1 upstages his sister in the first clip and takes the opportunity to get something off his chest to camera in the last!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 4.019: Party in the U.S.A.

The say that all the best parties end up in the kitchen - well I have no idea where this party finished as we had to leave before the end with our tired (and slightly illness-compromised) children but this was a great party and it definitely started in the kitchen. In fact, it was only as we were getting near to leaving (when I took this picture) that the rest of the house was filling up and the kitchen was emptying a little. There was a load of kids doing their thing in the darkened family room beyond except when they needed food and drink and, as far as I can work out, everyone had a great time - we certainly did.

Thanks to Albaniana and family for being our hosts and to their friends for being a very interesting and friendly bunch.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 4.018: My First Pun

E5N1 is studying space at 'school' at the moment. He and Exile #2 were discussing it after he got home this afternoon.

Exile #2: There's a thing called a comet

E5N1: That has a bright tail.

Exile #2: Then there's a meteor - and when it comes down to earth it's called a meteorite.

E5N1: Unless it turns left - then it's called a meteor-left.

I'm so proud!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 4.017: Snow, snow, snow

I left work early to see the sleep doctor today who has decided I don't need to schedule to see him again - I think the combination of much less in the way of sleep problems and the fact that I met his weight-loss target even though the period included Thanksgiving, Christmas and my 40th Birthday convinced him I was on the right track. While I was waiting I was looking at a magazine with an article about the Sagrada Familia and in particular about Gaudi's efficient arch designs that follow the curve of a hanging string or rope (i.e. a parabola).

Back on Day 4.001 I took Exile #4 to the science evening at school. The next day should have been Exile #3's turn. Instead it was a snow day. It was rescheduled for the following week. Also a snow day. It was third time lucky tonight and we had a great time. Including making this catenary (or parabolic) arch.

Which, taking us back to Gaudi's basilica, gives a clue to the location of the photo I posted two days ago - yes we were on vacation near Barcelona - someone must recognise the specific location of that house in the clouds?!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 4.016: Unwelcome visitor

Exile #4 was not at all happy to have this visit from a ladybug (or ladybird if you prefer). Strange really that although in the summer the kids would be fighting over allowing this little fellow to crawl on their finger - in the winter it seems alien and undesirable.

I was amused that it seemed attracted to the rather basic flowers painted on this decorate-your-own tea-set.

I found it a new home in the garage - out of the way of both the worst of the winter cold and the kids.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 4.015: Cloud houses

Today's guest blogger is E5N1 - he didn't type it but uttered it apparently to himself at the dinner table the other day.

[unintelligible listing of items]...a house on a cloud...I don't know how houses get on clouds...maybe a bird - a big big bird carried a house and a big big cloud is hard and the house goes on that - and that is how the house is on the cloud...

The photo is one of mine - recently scanned from the negative thanks to my Christmas/birthday present from my parents.  Anyone know where we were in September (including the 11th) of 2001 when this was taken?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 4.014: COLD!

It was too cold for photography today so here's another one from Winterfest on Saturday.

According to the National Weather Service, this morning it was -13°F (-25°C) - which, as it turns out, is quite uncomfortably cold.  The daytime high was 5°F (-15°C) which is frankly silly.

There was a buzz going on around the region about various YouTube videos (e.g. this one) of people throwing hot coffee or hot water into the air and seeing it instantly turn into snow.

I tried it when I got to work - and yes, it was that cold here today.

It's going to warm up overnight tonight. And snow.

Oh yes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 4.013: The Door

Here is our second stop-motion feature. This one had a little  less involvement from the kids although E5N1 helped me make ('design' if you want to suspend the disbelief) the house, Exile #4 helped with some of the ideas for the second half and Exile #3 worked on the soundtrack with me.

We I really enjoyed making it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 4.012: Winterfest #5

Beach Closed - No Lifeguard

It was actually the 26th Annual Winter Festival at Grafton Lakes State Park today - but it was our fifth. We went after only being here a couple of weeks with two small and under-insulated girls. Despite illness, two of us managed to witness the first polar plunge a year later. E5N1 had his first Winterfest and we all had our first sleigh ride the following year and last year we were not fooled by the later-than-normal date.

This year we were better prepared than ever for the cold - and we needed to be. With temperatures managing to get up close to 20°F here - it was only 13°F (-10°C) up in the hills. Fortunately there was very little wind to add to the chill. We were also quite focussed and got in, had fun and got out fairly quickly this year.

Our visit was: polar plunge (observing only!)

Plunge 7

horse-drawn ride (back to the cart rather than sleigh this year despite the bumper amounts of snow)

Sleigh Bells

and then dog sleds and watching the air boat.

State Trooper Air Boat 1

They seemed to be really enjoying the deep snow on top of the ice on the lake.

In all we were there for about two hours and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I've just realised that, despite our loyalty to this event, I am the only one to have attended all five as Exile #3 had a party to go to this afternoon and only she and I made it to the second one.

More pictures here and the polar plunge set is here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 4.011: Shovel that!

At the beginning of the winter a fellow ex-pat and I were discussing how cool it would be to have a really big storm this winter - two feet of snow or more. We haven't had anything like that in one go although the cumulative effect over the last few weeks has been quite significant.

This morning as I struggled through shovelling the three inches or so that had fallen overnight because of the large snow banks at the side of the driveway - the piles at the end are now basically as tall as me where the snow-plowed  ridge has been cleared to each time - I recalled that discussion and thought it would be ironic if we got our wish now - with all this snow already on the ground.

Now, I doubt very much that it will happen this way (there are much less appealing options also listed), but this is from the local area forecast discussion issued by the National Weather Service this afternoon talking about a possible storm  in the middle of next week (emphasis is mine):


Meanwhile, the weekend is going to be bitterly cold. It's winter all right!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 4.010: Icy, more snow

This morning, work took me about 50 miles south of here - down there this week's messy storm was predominantly freezing rain and the trees were beautifully glazed in the late morning sunshine.

I took this picture yesterday morning - a little ice with a dusting of snow on top, but you can also see the snow banks by the side of the driveway. We've had more snow since then - a little here and there, but there is another storm just winding up now which is expected to bring us another three to six inches overnight and tomorrow morning. Winter is tightening its grip.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 4.009: A long time ago...

In a country far, far away...I saw a movie.

Now I'm starring in it!
Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Nice job kid!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 4.008: Wintry mix a.k.a. Big mess

It was time for another winter storm - this one brought a couple of inches of snow at breakfast time and then it started to get messy.

I shovelled the snow and then had breakfast - by then there were plenty of stories of accidents and problems on the road so I decided to work from home. A couple of hours later I went out and shovelled half-an-inch or so of sleet (ice pellets) - that was like shovelling sugar - heavy and awkward: spilling out of the shovel and rolling down the snow banks. By mid-afternoon the sleet was giving way to rain but the temperature was well below freezing so it was freezing on contact and turning the sugary sleet on the drive into a sheet of thick rough ice.

Exile #2 and I spent some time scraping off the top surface and then Exile #4 and I spent some time trying to get under the ice and break it up - with some success. Satisfying but muscle-straining work.

Although it was a fairly major storm, the end result will have been a reduction in snow depth as the sleet and ice weigh the snow down - it also did strange things to the snow piles on the deck.

And glazed the trees (these are the bushes by the front door:

Unlike in previous ice-storms, the grass is safe underneath the snow-pack. Tomorrow may bring more snow - and a chance to see how much damage and/or prettiness the ice has caused.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 4.007: Where's a St Bernard when you need one?

Here are the girls dragging E5N1 up the sledding hill at the town park. In the end I had to go and assist them. E5N1 was fine by the way - just finding the slope a bit much for his little legs (this was Saturday lunchtime after our Five Rivers walk).

Here are a couple of movies - one of Exile #3 taking a leaf out of Exile #4's book in terms of song-choice and one of me riding with her down the hill (with shrieking and flying snow - but no singing!)

The kids did some more sledding today - at a surprise party for one of their friends (there was no school for Martin Luther King Jr Day today). It was a nice day for it - if a little cold - there is still plenty of snow and it was a window before the next messy storm comes in tonight.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 4.006: Rivers all

Before the weather closed in yesterday, we managed a short walk at Five Rivers which was great - everyone was in a good mood, up for walking (and posing for our regular group photograph).

There wasn't much going on except snow and ice (and snow on the ice) but we had a very nice walk and only one of us ended up with snow-filled boots and wet socks (here's a clue - he's pictured above more than once!)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 4.005: Making movies

There was fresh snow this afternoon as predicted. Not much compared to what was already on the ground but enough to keep us inside this afternoon.

This is the fruit of our indoor-time.  Storyline by Exile #3, camera operation by E5N1 and Exile #4, animation and voices by Exile #3 and me. Enjoy!

I made the film using my Pentax K200D and the tethering software: PK_Tether which worked a treat.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 4.004: Soda, pop?

One of these cans is not like the other. The one on the right was found while clearing the party drinks out of the fridge this week.

I grew up calling it 'pop', now I know it as 'soda'. Of course this particular beverage is known as 'diet' - which not only avoids the accent issue over how to pronounce 'Coke' but also avoids the whole 'Is Pepsi OK?' issue!

Anyway, having given it plenty of time to calm down, opening the deformed can was a very uneventful 'pffft' - not what we had been fearing based on its appearance.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 4.003: Cardinal, snow

They may be fairly common here, but these little birds really look great in the snow!

Back to work and school today which is nowhere near as entertaining as a snow-day for us or for you. Sorry!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 4.002: Nor'easter

We woke to the first snow-closing of the winter (and to about seven inches of snow on the ground and more falling rapidly).  I shovelled the drive before breakfast, but then decided to wait the snow out at home rather than get out on the road.

The kids all spent some time outside and Exile #2 did the second (of three) stints with the snow shovel.

Exile #4 and E5N1 even decided to go out again as dusk was falling.  There was still a little snow coming down, but it was basically over by then.  Quite pretty though.

I would guess we had a little less than a foot of snow, but it was on top of three inches or so of settled and partially melted snow from the weekend so we have, as the locals would say, a good covering.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 4.001: Miss a few...SIXTY!

I mentioned that we forgot about the cake on Saturday night. We finally got it out on Sunday lunchtime. A chunk of cake went with us to church later and most of the rest was devoured in no time at work on Monday.

But of course, where there is birthday cake there is "Happy Birthday"...

And so a new year of blogging begins, not with a whimper, but with a song.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 3.365: Four years of counting!

So, another year of The Exile has come to an end. It's been an eventful one for sure.

Early on, I made real-world acquaintances of some online ones at the All Over Albany 2nd Birthday Party.  Later I wrote an article for them which, so I hear, caused a little stir (positive I think) at the place I featured.

I also had real-world interactions with local celebrities and fellow twitterers.

In July we came very close to leaving here for good.  That was slightly stressful, but once that was out of the way E5N1 started preschool and loved it and his sisters changed schools and coped just fine.

I took a lot of photos - that is a few of them and the Exilic year ended with a landmark birthday.  So, this blog and our US adventure are now four years old - hard to believe perhaps - but I have been counting!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 3.364: Apart from the party

I mentioned that we had snow yesterday. We were a bit preoccupied, but since I had to be out shovelling the drive (with some help from Exile #4), I thought I would get a few pictures too.

After we finished our task, our little snow-queen set to work on a project of her own: