Monthly Archives: March 2005

Random Scenes

Lately this blog seems to be all about the photography. I can live with that.

Here’s a picture of some closeup damage of a burned-out house I passed near Elgin.

Burnout With Mermaid
Burnout With Mermaid

I was trying for irony, but I don’t think it quite works. I’m not sure why.

Here’s a nice shot of the street in front of my house:

Street With Trees
Street With Trees

Pet Show

This last weekend, my wife and I stopped by the Chicagoland Family Pet Expo. I took pictures. Most of them were pretty bad because I was trying to take them in ambient light with a handheld camera and they came out blurry because of camera motion. I also took a few pictures with the flash. I usually hate my flash pictures, but some of these didn’t look too bad.

First up, a red Persian, doing what persions do best:

Lounging Persian
Lounging Persian

This next animal is not technically a cat:

Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute

That’s an Alaskan Malamute, one of several breeds suitable as a sled dog. The owners told us that normal Alaskan Malamutes have a smooth coat. This one has a common mutation for the breed that gives it a soft and fluffy coat. I figure that makes it an honary cat.

Some of the owners entertained their cats for my wife. Well, we call it entertaining. The cats might think of it as annoying.

Annoying the Cats
Annoying the Cats

Finally, here’s a cat that was obviously tired of the show:

Ornery Cat
Ornery Cat

Citizen ICAM

I’ve added a new link in the Resources section to Citizen ICAM, the Chicago Police Department’s online map of recent criminal activity. It’s nice to see that my neighborhood is still remarkably free from criminal activity.

When they first put this up, you could also use it as a shopping guide. Are you planning a visit to Chicago and want to find where to go to get street drugs? Just query a few areas until you find where all the narcotics busts are, and that’s where you’ll find the dealers.

It looks like these crimes are no longer being reported on the map. I used to work in one of the highest crime areas in the city, but when I checked on it just now, it had no narcotics busts. I checked a few other areas, same thing. No prostitution either, so you can’t find the hooker strolls.

UPDATE: I checked some data from a few weeks ago, and several narcotics and prostitution arrests do show up. Maybe the vice data is just getting into the system a little slower.

NOTE: Comments are closed because this item is now old and receives a lot of comment spam.

Road Trip

Last week I drove into Indiana to visit a couple of old friends from my days at the IIT Research Institute. I decided it would make a suitable topic for this week’s photoblogging.

The trip started—as all trips beginning in Chicago must—with mind-numbing traffic. I had to drive from my house on the northwest side of Chicago straight through the city to the Illinois-Indiana border. This leg of the trip is only about 25 miles, but it took almost two hours, and looked like this the whole way:

Mind-Numbing Chicago Traffic
Mind-Numbing Chicago Traffic

By the time I got out of the Chicago traffic mess, I needed to stop for gas. I always get a kick out of the name of this place:

Gas-A-Roo
Gas-A-Roo

The rest of the trip went much faster, even though it was a greater distance. In no time at all, I had reached George’s house in Beverly Shores, Indiana. The South Shore rail line passes through town, so I know right where I am:

Beverly Shores Platform
Beverly Shores Platform

George doesn’t photograph very well. He’s a warm, friendly, and energetic guy, but that that doesn’t show up in my pictures at all. This picture isn’t too bad:

George
George

Rich was already there. Rich doesn’t photograph very well either. (Notice how I make my lack of photographic skills seem like it’s their fault.) I was experimenting with the black-and-white mode of the camera, and I got the only good picture of Rich all evening:

Rich
Rich

We ate dinner at a place called Redamak’s. It’s a local pub/burger joint/family restaurant. (For all I know, Redamak’s is 250-location chain and this is just the only one I’ve seen.) The slogan on their sign is “Legendary Food—Good Times—Come Get Some.” They are distinguished by their fast food service. And by their use of what I’m pretty sure is Cheez Whiz on their cheeseburgers.

That picture of Rich is probably also the best picture of Redamak’s I have. All the rest are blurry or underexposed. Redamek’s is normally a roudy place, but it was so quiet that evening that I was uncomfortable using the big flash on my camera.

Actually, I did get another good picture at Redamak’s:

Beer at Redamak's
Beer at Redamak's

After dinner, we drove down the road to an ice cream stand called Oink’s. I didn’t manage to get any pictures of Oink’s worth posting, but I got a nice long exposure of the mean streets of New Buffalo:

Mean Streets of New Buffalo
Mean Streets of New Buffalo

My wife didn’t come with me, so we decided to do what any three guys out on the town would do. We tried out the time exposure feature of my camera.

Here’s a photo taken in the middle of the night on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, looking west:

Southern Shore of Lake Michigan
Southern Shore of Lake Michigan

The distant lights are probably the harbor facilities of Gary, Indiana. The tall buildings in downtown Chicago are sometimes visible from here, but there was too much fog on the lake this evening.

We also took a group portrait. The flash fired to illuminate the three of us standing there, then the shutter stayed open to expose the background. It’s a neat trick.

Technogeek Night Portrait
Technogeek Night Portrait

The final night picture is of a small lagoon near George’s house. I think the structure in the middle of it is a monument to the attempt by Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas to beat Lindberg’s non-stop distance record, which ended when their plane, the Lituanica, crashed at Soldin, Germany in 1933.

Lagoon and Monument
Lagoon and Monument

Nearly all the light for these scenes comes from distant incandescent sources, either directly or scattered off the trees, water, and fog. In this photo, I remembered to set the white balance for the low color temperature. Too bad I didn’t think of that for the others, huh?

Anyway, after all this I started the 65-mile ride back home. Well, not quite. I had lost the diffuser for my flash unit, and I was pretty sure it happened in the outdoor patio at Oink’s. I drove back to Oink’s—15 miles in the wrong direction—and sure enough, there it was. The place had closed right as we were leaving, so nobody had stepped on it or anything.

Now I started the drive home. It was 80 miles of fast, relaxing driving. Except, well, if there’s congestion, you must be in Chicago:

Skyway Toll Platform
Skyway Toll Platform

Other than that, it was a peaceful trip back.

Photoblogging

I think I’ve had enough template tweaking for a while, so how about some content? My wife gave me a digital camera for Christmas, so I’ve decided to try to learn photography. I’m just taking pictures of things, trying to teach myself how the camera works, and something about composition. Now that I’ve upgraded my server, I can do some photoblogging. It’s fun, and it’s less work than writing stuff. Onward…

First, a sample of the weather in the windy city:

A Stormy Day in the Windy City
A Stormy Day in the Windy City

Now here’s a picture inside the Commons building at the IIT campus:

IIT Commons
IIT Commons

They say that a good picture tells a story. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I think I’m starting to understand just a little. This next picture doesn’t actually tell a story, but it does seem to at least convey the idea of a student studying:

Studying
Studying

And We’re Back!

Well…I’m back.

By now, the new nameserver entries should have propagated out to everyone who reads this. (I think there are a few of you.)

Windypundit used to be served by a low-budget Windows-based business hosting service called LFC Hosting. For a pretty low monthly fee, they hosted both my business site and this blog. They have a great many features turned on for this price, including MYSQL and Microsoft SQL databases. If you know how to build web sites, have a small budget, and don’t need to support high-volume web traffic (i.e. the web site does not constitute your primary business activity) then LFC is a good place to start.

The downside is that their servers are a bit slow, probably because they squeeze a lot of sites on them to save money. Readers of Windypundit might not have noticed it, because once the page pops up they just scroll down the page. I, on the other hand, am always clicking around the MovableType user interface, usually updating and rebuilding either postings or site templates. The 2-5 second pauses each and every time were getting quite painful.

Now, for only a few dollars per month, I’m hosted with these guys:

Hosted by 2MHost.com

They’re a MovableType Hosting Partner. The servers are linux-based, and I guess that means they run Perl a lot faster. MovableType, let me tell you, screams on the 2MHost server.

I’m enjoying this.

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