Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 4.049: Night? Night?!

I won't attempt to say too much as I am very tired.

Sunday started early with brushing the snow off a rental car to drive down to JFK to catch a flight to Seoul, South Korea. Night never really came despite us being well up over northern Canada and Russia for much of the journey. However, Monday came thanks to the International Date Line so although it feels like the end of the same very long day (28 hours so far) I am just about to go to bed just around midnight at the end of Monday.

Here are some shots from the flight.

And this is what we've seen of Seoul so far:

It is a colourful and bustling city - I should see a little more of it tomorrow.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 4.048: Lapsed time

I know I've done rather a lot of time-lapse movies of snow recently. Here is one more. This time I used the interactive maps at to generate this view of the last two months of winter snow depths.

I think it's pretty cool (the animation that is - not the snow - although that is cool too of course...!).

(This is a pre-loaded post as I am in transit)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 4.047: The long and winding road

It may not have been the most dramatic storm we've had, nor the most destructive but this morning had a a fair amount of beauty:

and evidence of some damage (the drainpipe is a more long-term winter casualty I suspect):

We also still had a little shovelling to do. The snow banks are high again, so we have been making use of a secondary pile we started during the last big storm. The route to it may be long (and winding) but it's smooth enough to push the snow - saving on some heavy lifting.

Talking of long and winding roads - I will be travelling for a while...but I'll stay in touch!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 4.046: The tree-bender

I'd planned a day-off work today to spend with the kids on the last day of their February recess. It ended up being another day of significant shovelling.

Yes really.

And not light fluffy snow either - this was the heavy sticky kind.

I also had to pull a nearly-severed branch from a tree - a casualty of the weight of the snow. You can see the effect of the snow on some other trees in this time-lapse I hastily set-up (having missed the first three inches or so) when I woke up to find the predictions of a couple of inches of snow with some sleet and rain had transformed into 8-12 inches of snow.

I love the way the trees seem to be shaking under the weight of it all at the end.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 4.045: Robot (in space)

I can't remember exactly how it started but at some point on Saturday I was rifling through boxes in the basement with E5N1 looking for junk-modelling materials. A while later I was sitting on the kitchen floor cutting holes in an oatmeal box on my own while E5N1 was watching a movie with his sisters. He did eventually rejoin me for the decorating part - and was overwhelmingly pleased with the results.

Another local boy - a student at what they would like us to learn to call 'Rensselaer' but is universally known as 'RPI' (I know which is easier to spell) has also helped to design a robot. His contribution was to R2 - a semi-humanoid* robot currently on its way to the International Space Station on-board Space Shuttle Discovey's final mission.

Our robot has legs though - so there!

* Just clarify - it's not half-like a human - it's like half-a-human.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 4.044: ...makes seventeen

Exile #4 produced these pictures at school last week during their preparation for Monday's holiday and this week off school.

Do you know who they are...

and what it has to do with the post title?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 4.043: Broad/shouldered?

This hawk was in the Corning Preserve parking lot when we returned from our bitterly cold walk on Saturday. I believe it is a broad-winged hawk, but it could possibly be red-shouldered. I understand that the even width stripes on the tail should be distinctive.

For the kids, their February Recess started with appointments today: with the dentist and the hairdresser. E5N1 apparently declared that he now looks like me - maybe it's the runny nose and the cough. Hopefully we will both be able to shake it soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 4.042: Washington's snow day

Although commonly known as "Presidents Day", the official name for today's holiday is "Washington's Birthday" as I recently discovered. Interestingly it falls on dates between February 15th and 21st - never on his actual birthday which is February 22nd (unless you mean the name of the date when he was born which was actually February 11th - thanks to Julian and Wikipedia).

We had about three inches of snow overnight and this morning. As well as showing off this cardinal at his very best it also seemed like sledding weather so we investigated the run in the yard which is quite fast now - the thin layer of fluffy snow doing little to affect the icy descent. However, it seemed time to add a twist to the experience so after mastering this with Exile #4 I introduced Exile #3 to it (sight unseen) like this:

Oh my!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 4.041: Melt (down)

On Friday, I caught the remains of our snow fort in the morning sunshine at the beginning of second consecutive day of significant thawing. It was also the first glimpse of the ground of the path to our front door in several weeks.

I set up my snow-cam for another time-lapse halfway through the week. I didn't provide lighting this time and it was only partially successful - but here it is. It starts with a cool night followed by a day, night, day when there was significant thawing and then a final night when it turned cold again and we had a dusting of snow.

At some point E5N1 exclaimed, "The grill has melted!" Fortunately that was not literally true - although we know what he meant.

The time-lapse of the last big snow storm is here if you missed it. There is a little more on its way in tonight and tomorrow, but snow-cam is resting for now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 4.040: Like wind-chill for distance

With two very warm snow-thawing days behind us today felt like winter again. Nevertheless we were determined to fight cabin fever with an outing. We decided to attempt a walk where we thought there might be space for the kids to use their new scooters to sweeten the deal.

In the end we found what we were looking for at the Corning Preserve and took the easy option by walking south towards downtown Albany.

It was cold but good.

When we reached the turning back point we realised that the wind would be in our faces on the way back so decided to seek some shelter for the first part of the return leg with a loop through the streets. It didn't really work and the bitter wind was enhanced with some snow.

We did our best to appreciate the surroundings when we found a corner with a little protection from the wind.

By the time we reached the riverfront again, the wind was up and really in our faces

and the snow was reducing visibility.

I joked, "Only three miles left to walk everyone!"

"What's that - like wind-chill for distance?" Exile #2 clarified.

Apart from the time it took, it felt like every inch but everyone kept their spirits up.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 4.039: 1500

Flickr User: Mariusz Slonina

This is my 1500th post here.  Who'd have thought I'd keep it up so long and that anyone would be reading if I did?

I thought a little retrospection might be in order, so I worked out to what extent culture-shock has worn off with the help of my blog-post tags.

Here are the results:
I guess it never really goes away!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 4.038: Remember it: snow fun!

With temperatures today and tomorrow in the 50's, the snow is melting and we're beginning to wonder if the groundhog was 'talking' sense when he predicted an early Spring. Well, not really - but it is feeling positively tropical right now.

So, it seemed like a moment to embrace the fun of the snow. This is from back at the end of January before our last fall of snow when we had fluffy snow with ice on top and more snow on top of that. E5N1 discovered that he could break through the icy layer - well, like this:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 4.037: A mountainous hunger

Exile #3 claims it was 'someone else' who bit the top off Mount Everest.  Some people will do anything for a kiss.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 4.036: Agenda

Exile #4 has been making plans for a packed evening (you may need to read aloud).

Nothing checked-off as yet - although I suspect she accomplished number 1 at least.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 4.035: Having a ball

After our trip to Newark airport on Saturday we took a wrong turn and only narrowly managed to avoid driving over the George Washington Bridge into New York City. Happily after diving off the highway at the last exit on the New Jersey side and then driving around (and around) for a while we found our way back to our secondary destination where the kids had fun...

...while we were busy.

The question is - where were we?

Any idea!?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 4.034: Another flying visit

Exile #3 ran upstairs to find me yesterday morning, "Daddy, come and look out of this window. Bring a camera!" That's my girl!

This female pileated woodpecker was the cause of the excitement, Exile #3 declared it to be "So beautiful!" They are striking for sure - 'nearly crow sized' according to Wikipedia and very noisy when they get going on a tree. We have seen them from time to time, but they are certainly not a common sight in the backyard. This one was very obliging, staying while I fetched the camera, changed the lens and opened the window and the storm-pane to get a clear shot (I mean with the camera obviously).

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 4.033: Flying visit

We spent yesterday evening and most of today with an old friend. I have known him since we were 11 and Exile #2 since college days (independently of me). We worked out that it could be about nine years since we saw each other last. Shocking.

A lot has changed in our lives in the intervening years, but we fell into easy conversations on a wide variety of topics from the weather to Egyptian politics to theology.  He has been doing a North American leg on a grand tour as he is between jobs (literally - he works for the Church of England and is on Sabbatical with a new job to go to in a few months). He was kind enough to make his plans fit in a brief visit with us which was great for us all - he was a big hit with the kids (especially E5N1).

We spent the middle part of the day driving him to the airport to get his flight back to Europe for the next leg of his adventure.  We had a bit of an adventure too - almost getting ourselves lost on the way back, but we are home safe and sound and everyone but me is asleep. Amazing how tiring sitting in a car can be!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 4.032: Snow on ice on Hudson

I took an unexpected opportunity to spend a few minutes at the 4th Street river access in Watervliet this morning. I was ill-prepared having neither a suitable vehicle for the icy and uneven access road nor suitable footwear for the deep snow around the parking lot.

I did however, enjoy the views of the river covered in deep ice and deep snow - looking really nothing much like a river at all.

The Hudson plays a big part in our life - the places we go often involve choosing a crossing place, it influences our weather and of course is the reason that the city is here in the first place. Its changing faces are one of the telling features of the changing seasons and it is at times extremely photogenic.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 4.031: Bank interest up!

You can read the story of the winter so far in our artificially curtailed snow banks. A lot of snow falls - nice thick white layer. Last it of slush plowed from the dirty road - thin layer of dark salty mess.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 4.030: Bank cuts hit home

I arrived home to find that this had happened to our front yard.  I suppose that someone is preparing for the chance of more snow and wants somewhere for it to go.

More snow - seriously?

In other 'more-snow'-related-news a vacant building was demolished because it had become structurally unsafe probably due to the 'heavy' winter we're having.   The local TV news reported, "The building was in the process of being sold and now that situation will have to be re-assessed."  I guess so.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 4.029: Are you talking to me?

This has been staring at me at work on and off for the last week or so.

"Learn how to use Skype" it says.

Well, I may or may not qualify as an expert user but I am certainly a long-term one.  I created this account (that I use at work) in 2006 - which may or may not make me an early-adopter but there were definitely not 28 million people online then.  We created a second account soon afterwards so that I could use it to call home when I was travelling.

Since then it has been our main phone line (for about 6 months) and the main way we communicate with our families back in the UK (video calling).

So, is there something I can still learn about how to use it?  Almost certainly.  Did this piece of targetted marketing miss its mark?  I'd say yes - but I am talking about it so perhaps the last laugh is on me.