Apr. 13th, 2016 04:15 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Yeah, I really suck at LJ lately, sorry. But hey, have some photos from the last few weeks as a sort of recap of all the stuff I haven't been posting about. Lots of photos here, and maybe a couple snakes. :)

We went to an open-mic night at Hallie's music school. Turned out she was the only instrumentalist at the thing--everyone else was there to sing, either to piano accompaniment or backing tracks. I'd say she was probably the youngest person performing, too. And she just got up and played all by herself, in front of probably 30 people, no problems at all. She amazes me sometimes.

Clicky! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Manatees! I'll get to that.

So let's see, stuff to catch up on!

Friday I had a couple meetings with my boss and his boss (our VP), so I got to make a second drive for the week over to St. Petersburg. This is going to be an awesome expense report, I need to get that submitted today! The meetings went well--one was about how the merger is taking shape, and it actually left me feeling pretty optimistic. The big fear, of course, has been that the new company will try to slash costs and consolidate operations as much as possible, meaning lots of layoffs. But it actually sounds like their plan is just the opposite: they intend to leave most of the local operations in place, and not only do they not plan major layoffs, they expect to increase internal headcount by bringing the calls we currently outsource back in-house. Our VP said that when the deal closes, the new company will have 80k employees, and that's expected to increase to 100k as they bring that volume back in. And the company will have a presence in 41 states, so the opportunities for both advancement and relocation will be much better. Not that I'm actively looking to go anywhere soon, but it's always good to have options. Maybe some of what we're being told is smokescreen, but that's not the feeling I have. We'll see, but I guess we aren't expecting any major changes around here until next year at the earliest.

After the meetings, I went to check out a park not too far from the office. I was a little hesitant driving in--the entrance was at the back of a fairly run-down neighborhood, and the first thing you see driving in is a little retention pond strewn with trash. But the park itself ended up being pretty awesome! A nice long boardwalk through wetlands, essentially a huge cypress swamp at the edge of a lake. It was a gorgeous day, so I had a nice walk and saw some good critters: a few juvenile alligators (and one rather huge adult) lounging in the sun, a few armadilloes, the usual birds and whatnot. Nice place. There are a few places over there I want to show the girls, we'll have to make the trek on a nice weekend. Maybe next weekend!

Then I happened to pass by my usual Goodwill over there on the way home, so I said what the heck. I didn't spend much time there, because I quickly found something I couldn't pass up--I've been meaning to get a new ceiling fan for Hallie's room, since the one in there is old and kinda noisy. Found one in the box, not new but in good shape, for $12. I figured that was worth a try. Haven't installed it yet, I'll have to do that some evening this week.

Saturday we decided to go walk around Downtown Disney--sorry, now it's called Disney Springs. Mainly we wanted to see if the LEGO store there has the awesome new Ghostbusters firehouse in stock. They did, but we didn't want to drop $350 on it just yet. Bonus time, perhaps. :) Or I should book a couple photography gigs and earmark the proceeds.

Saturday evening I was excited to go to the rare (for me, anyway) concert! I think I mentioned it before--last summer Def Leppard had a date in Tampa with Tesla and Styx, and I didn't get tickets. Turned out that was a good call, because the venue was an outdoor amphitheater and there was a big thunderstorm which kept a couple of the bands from even taking the stage. So when I found out that same lineup had added a date at Orlando's arena, I jumped on it as a Christmas present for myself. :) So anyway, I headed out, ready to rock. I was going to park in the garage attached to the arena because that's convenient, so I got in the line of cars for that--and quickly saw something was amiss. For some reason they weren't letting any cars into the garage. I rolled down my windows and heard someone say something about police activity in the garage. Hm, okay. Right on the other side of the street were a couple of private parking lots, so I hopped over there instead. But I didn't have the cash and they didn't take credit, so the attendant said no problem, just park and then you can walk down to the ATM and come back. So I did that--but on my way back to the parking lot I overheard people saying the show had been cancelled. I hung around for a few minutes until I was convinced that was the official word, and then headed home. Bummer! I'd heard Def Lep's lead singer had laryngitis, which prevented him from performing on a cruise last week. Sure enough, that was the reason for the cancel. I guess that's just as well, I'd prefer to see them in proper form anyway. They intend to reschedule, and my ticket will be good for that, of course. I just hope they're able to reschedule on a day I can go, and with the same lineup of bands! It's kinda funny, Def Leppard and I seem cursed. Way back in 1988, my step-sister and her boyfriend at the time (later her husband, now her ex-husband) very kindly tried to take me to see them on the Hysteria tour, and his car broke down on the way so we never made it. Now almost 30 years later I try again, and it's the band who's a no-show. Sheesh.

Sunday was another nice day, so we headed out to Blue Spring State Park. In the winter the park's spring run is very popular with manatees, who seek out its warmer waters (the springs around here are around 72F year-round) on cool nights. Park staff conduct a headcount of manatees in the spring run each morning and post it for visitors--a good morning is usually around 150, so we were a bit shocked to drive up and see the count posted at 277! Very cool, though. And we managed to get there early enough that the park wasn't too crowded yet--it tends to fill up quickly on winter days when the manatees are there in force, and on summer days when people come to swim instead. So that was a good time.

On the way home we stopped at a few stores, including GameStop where I indeed sold back that Wii game I found at Goodwill last week. I paid $3, and since they were running a 50%-bonus deal I ended up getting $16 in credit for it. Nice! So I turned around and bought a couple more LEGo Dimensions fun packs. The girls have been enjoying playing that, so I figured it was a good investment. I've already got that compartmentalized container I bought last week almost full!

Today I'm back to work, and a little anxious to see how tonight's caucuses in Iowa turn out. As Paul Krugman put it, the Republican side of the contest is easy enough to predict: "someone horrifying will come in first, and someone horrifying will come in second. The names are less clear." But on the Democratic side, this will be the first chance to see whether the huge crowds and numbers of donations Bernie Sanders has been able to attract can translate to turnout at the polls. It's really up to the Millennials, and whether they will turn their excitement into attendance. If they show up, I say Sanders carries the majority. If not, it's Hillary's day. From the standpoint of delegates at the nominating convention, it matters hardly at all--but the momentum Bernie would get from wining both Iowa and New Hampshire next week would be huge. Similarly, if Hillary handily wins Iowa, it could boost her momentum to make her more competitive in NH, and going forward. And no candidate going back to 1980 has won their party's nomination without winning Iowa, New Hampshire, or both. Definitely going to be interesting, whatever happens.

Okay, have some more photos from the events described above. :)
Clicky! )
That's it for now, thanks for reading and have a fantastic day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I don't feel like I have a whole lot to say today, though the hamster wheel in my head is spinning as always. :) So instead, have some recent photos!

Last weekend I took Friday off--I have some more vacation days to burn by the end of the year, and we'd been talking about going back to St. Augustine on a weekday, hoping the fort and old town wouldn't be as busy as it is on weekends. Ha! Instead of gaggles of tourists, there were gaggles of school groups instead. Note to self, in the future go there in the first weeks of the school year or something. Though it's way hot then, and at least we had lovely weather!

Clicky! )
And that's that. Thanks for looking, as always!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Autumn decor notwithstanding, fall is taking its sweet time coming to these parts to stay--we've had a few nice days, and mornings/evenings are pretty pleasant, but the highs are still hanging out in the upper 80Fs with no big dips in sight. 86F on Halloween? Sheesh. Still, we've been getting out and about a bit more, which means photos!

Our Disney World passes expired Saturday, sadly. And odd as it sounds to everyone who doesn't live in Orlando, when our passes expire we're usually a bit tired of the place and so we take some time off before renewing. We might wait even longer and do LEGOLand and/or Universal this time instead. But before our WDW passes expired we figured we should make one more visit, so Friday I took the day off work and we went to the Magic Kingdom.

Clicky! )
And now I should get some work done around here. Hope everyone's week is off to a good start!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

The weather has finally gotten nice, at least some days! It takes a while for fall to make its way down to these parts. Anyway, yesterday evening we were out doing some yardwork, and I came across this katydid so the girls and I got to know her a bit. It's the very-appropriately-named Giant katydid, I think the largest species in North America. It's fun to find such neat critters around the house!

Working today, though I must say my lack of motivation is palpable. Not much else going on, though. I saw Biden's announcement that he's not going to run for President after all. That was not what I expected to hear! But it should help clarify the Democratic race, since the polls have always included him in the mix and it's been hard to say how many of the people supporting him would go for Clinton or Bernie. So that will be interesting to see. And he seemed to have Elizabeth Warren potentially in his corner, so we'll see where she puts her weight now (though I would hope that's obvious). I just hope the so-called Bernie-mentum continues, even though the first debate seemed to shift things in her favor a bit. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Okay, enough for now, I'd better get some work done. Hope everyone is having a good day! Oh, and Happy BTTF Day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

This spring seemed a bit slow in the butterfly garden, but it looks like it's getting busier! I spotted a few things recently to snap photos of, anyway.

Have a look? )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Spring is sprung! And pretty much over already, in these parts. The high today is 90F, though (thankfully) we seem to be going down a few degrees after this. Anyway, the butterfly above was a new sighting for me--a Dainty sulphur (Nathalis iole) spotted down by our neighborhood lake. Not shy at all, either--I was shooting with my 24mm pancake lens, which means I was maybe 10 inches away from the critter for that shot. Nice of him/her to cooperate!

Have some more? )
Okay, enough for now. What will the weekend bring? We shall see!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
You want to know what's happening in my Central Florida yard the weekend before Christmas? I had no idea you cared, but I'm glad you asked!

Cassius blue butterfly (Leptotes cassius) on shepherd's needle in the butterfly garden. These guys are tiny, and FAST! This one posed for me for a minute, though.

Clicky! )
And that's it for now--slow week at work, I hope. I'm here through Wednesday, then off for Christmas and Boxing Day. Next week I'm angling for a 6-day New Year's weekend, maybe! I need to get out to do a little shopping here shortly, but maybe later I can post about our Virginia trip and other goings-on.

Have a great day and thanks for looking, as always!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

And now I'd better get to posting about our vacation, before I forget the details! I'm sure I'll need to split this up a bit, so I'll just start and see what feels like a good stopping point.

So we headed out on Saturday morning. To break up the drive to Myrtle Beach, our plan was to stop at a park in Jacksonville to stretch our legs, then get lunch somewhere and stop in Savannah to explore a bit and spend the night. Heather had found a park in Jacksonville that looked like fun with a playground and splash pad, so we headed there. And really the place was a bit more old and trashy than we expected, so we ended up not staying very long and I hardly even took any photos there. Pretty forgettable. We stopped for lunch on the north side of the city, and then it was on the road again.

Clicky! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Not a bad 3-day weekend, though (as always) it was over far too quickly. I got some good photos, though, so I wanted to put together a photo post or two to share. I should note, the one thing missing from the weekend was kayaking! So no Paddling Diaries this week. Ah well, maybe next week! :)

Saturday was a pretty chilly day in these parts, so as I mentioned last time, my initial plan to get some paddling in on the way to the birthday party we were attending in the afternoon was a no-go. Instead we hung out around the house for most of the day, cleaning and tackling a few little projects, like running a network cable through the attic for the new/old home theater PC. Not terribly exciting, but part of being homeowners! In the afternoon we headed to the party, which was a good time. Then home, dinner, and our usual evening routine.

Sunday we concocted a plan to go to Leesburg. I'd mentioned my intention to visit the WWII aircraft making their way through the area, and instead of doing that in Winter Haven Monday we decided to do it in Leesburg Sunday, and maybe hit a couple parks in the area while we're at it. So that's what we did. We went to the airport first, which was fun, and I believe I'll cover that in a separate post so people who don't care about WWII aircraft aren't bored. :)

Onward, with photos! )
And that was the weekend--but stay tuned for airplane photos! :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Ahh, you know how I love these old live oaks festooned with Spanish moss.

The weather Saturday called for another unseasonably warm day in these parts, so my daughters liked the idea of heading back to DeLeon Springs State Park, where they could take a dip in the spring pool while I took the kayak out for a spin. Our plan was to have lunch at the Old Sugar Mill restaurant in the park, but when we arrived we discovered that there was a special event going on which had the park packed to the gills, and the wait for the restaurant was 2 hours. Yikes! So we turned around and had lunch at a charming little bakery cafe run by a very nice German couple, and then headed back to the park. In addition to being very warm, it was also rather windy--and I discovered upon getting my gear together that in my brilliance I had grabbed two paddle halves that did not fit together, leaving me a bit underpowered. Oops and lesson learned. But I soldiered on and took a short trip into Spring Garden Lake with a half a paddle.

Off we go! )


Oct. 28th, 2013 03:57 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Ahh, the weather was beautiful this past weekend! I need to update about that, as well as my trip last week (which unfortunately didn't involve nearly as many photographic opportunities as the Bakersfield trip). But first, some critters, because I so enjoy finding and identifying new things.

I took the girls to Lake Lotus, a great nature park very close to home. They found this green tree frog (Hyla cinerea) on the playground.

More! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Well, it was a fairly boring and unproductive weekend--everyone but me has been fighting a cold, so we didn't really feel like roaming too far. Saturday we did head out to Clermont to check out a new park and pay a repeat visit to the Presidents' Hall of Fame (neat place--the centerpiece of the place is a HUGE scale model of the White House that is just amazingly detailed). Aside from that, we mostly stayed home.

But my butterfly garden is doing amazingly well and has just been a hotbed of activity lately, so I got a bunch of photos out there and thought I'd share. So if you like close-ups of caterpillars and butterflies and assorted other bugs, come right along. :)

That's a Gulf fritillary caterpillar on the passionvine. There are scads of them!

Butterfly Garden Fun! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

It's been a while since I updated this thing, I suppose I should do better with that. So here's a photo update from the long July 4th weekend!

Right this way, please! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Apparently Saturday was Nature Photography Day or some such thing--I had no idea, but I took part anyway by looking for fun stuff going on in my butterfly garden. It's a happening place right about now! And I still adore this 100mm macro lens. :)

This is actually from last week--I was thrilled to find that the Eastern black swallowtails FINALLY discovered my fennel! This is a pretty new caterpillar--they look rather like bird poop at first.

More this way! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
As is my custom, a few photos from the past week or so!

The weather was really nice last Monday, so I came home early and we went back out to the Magic Kingdom for a bit. There's so much great photo potential in the Haunted Mansion alone, but it's pretty dark in there. Maybe when I finally upgrade to a full-frame dSLR I'll have better luck. :)

More, of course! )
And that's it for now! Last night I had that engagement shoot at EPCOT, but we got home past our bedtime and I haven't touched the photos yet. I'll maybe share some here or over on [ profile] shutterbuggery before long.

Later on today I'll munch a quick lunch here, then go watch the girls (and take photos, of course) in gymnastics class. And then I'll go shopping for my new Android tablet! I decided on a Google/Asus Nexus 7--seems like a good value for the price, and it has GPS, which not many tablets seem to include. Can't wait!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Yeah, so.. no more tufted titmouse babies. There were some small rust holes in the post, around the level of the nest, and we could use those to check on the babies--now and then a little beak would poke out, or we'd get a glimpse of feathers. Yesterday I looked in and thought I saw yellow feathers, which was weird since the babies were brown, but I didn't really think too much about it beyond that. This morning I checked and saw the yellow again, and I also didn't see the parents anywhere around, which was also a bit unusual. So I looked more closely and realized that what I thought were yellow feathers actually had a much more scaly look. So I got out the ladder and looked down into the top of the post, and sure enough, there was a yellow rat snake down in there. He'd eaten all the babies and was hanging out to digest them, I guess.

Bummer. Yet it's hard to take sides because that's just how nature works, you know? I've considered it before--I love little songbirds, and I love raptors, and I guess I just usually push to the back of my mind the fact that one kills and eats the other. If you really love and appreciate nature, you just have to accept that survival for one species very often means death for others. But on the larger scale, the dance keeps on going. Still, it's silly but I can't help feeling like we failed those titmouse parents a bit--they chose our property for their nest, and it turned out to not be a safe spot after all. Not that we could have done anything to prevent it. Ah well, just being silly.

Weekend is going well otherwise, though--had a photo shoot this morning, which was a bit hot and muggy but fun. Now we're relaxing at home for a bit and I'm going to cull those photos. Tomorrow we'll wing it in the morning, and head out in the afternoon for another photoshoot and dinner. It's not a bad life, really, snakes and all.

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