Got a new one a week ago and have been busy getting it going the way I want since. In one way I am totally amazed at the incredible power of these things. This computer, running Windows/7 Pro, allows the user to run a “virtual machine”. That virtual machine can emulate the Windows/ XP operating system so that you can bring some of those old programs that are not compatible with Windows/7 forward and still use them. This takes a lot of computing cycles.
In another way, it seems like I now need even more skill than before to work through issues. When I first set the computer up I needed 79 Windows updates so I just downloaded all and set up to install them. Problem was they wouldn’t install. I spent several hours digging around in user forums to finally figure out the problem. It was not one I created but one that Microsoft created. One particular download would not install with any other. It had to be done by itself. Geezz, I shouldn’t have had to figure that out. There were many other users having the same problem.
Nevertheless, I like my new computer (on the left) very much. It looks almost exactly like my old one here on the right. (How Boring!)
They are both Lenovo ThinkPads. My old one is 4 years old and runs great but Ronnie is using the computer more and more so we really needed another one. I have been very happy with my old ThinkPad and love the Lenovo keyboards. That’s why I decided to get another one. Am still running XP on the old one but I was running out of HardDrive capacity.. Around Thanksgiving I started looking at getting something new and went to the local Best Buy to see what the newly released Windows/8 was all about. It did not take long to see that I did not want Windows/8. Since I really did not want a touch screen it had no advantage that I could see and the new “tile startup screen” is totally confounding. I started shopping on line for a Win/7 Lenovo but couldn’t get myself to pull the trigger so I finally decided to upgrade the disk drive on my old one instead. That took a while to figure out then came Christmas. I gave a little thought to a tablet for a while but finally decide to get another laptop…too many restrictions on the tablet for me.
One day I started shopping again and there was a real good bargain on a nice ThinkPad from Newegg. So, I bought it. And today, I saw this program called Windows Live Writer so opened it to see what it does. I was pleased to see that it would post blogs to my WordPress blog so this is my trial run with it….we shall see.
Last Sunday, February 12th, was the coldest day of thewinter. I went out before 8 AM to get a newspaper and when I got to the Fripp Island Marina the temperature had bottomed out at 28 degrees. Some water in the parking lot there had turned crunchy. The wind was howling off the marsh.
I love to watch the weather and have a favorite internet site that overlays all the Weather Underground stations on a Google Map. It happens that there is a station on Tarpon Blvd. When I get up in the morning I can check outside temperature here on Fripp. Handy for figuring out how many layers you need if playing golf or tennis. Various local records are kept there too. I saw that the previous coldest day on Fripp Island this year was about 30 degrees on the morning of January 3.
Ronnie and I decided we should brave it and go for a walk on the beach. I took my little pocket camera to record the event
I got this little camera about 3 years ago so I could have a small digital camera to take with me in the glider. At the time I was thinking mostly about still photos but it does a really good job with HD video too. So, I have taken a lot of video with it including the video in the YouTube video here:
If you watched the video you will see that the camera has good optical zoom ability (12X), another feature that I liked about the camera. The quality on YouTube is only 360p. I could have created the clip at a much higher quality but it increases the upload time dramatically. I save that for better videos.
Just checked the station on Tarpon Blvd and I see that the current temperature is 62 degrees. It’s now 11 AM, Friday, February 17th. A nice sunny day here on Fripp Island.
We had three straight days of good soaring at Seminole-Lake Gliderport January 24 through 26. I logged a bit over 10 hours in the DG-800 in three flights.Temperatures were in the low 80′s, cumulus clouds were abundant, thermals were strong and we were able to get high every day. During the first flight I had the privilege of soaring with a lone Wood Stork and the second day I was in a thermal with two Bald Eagles. Circling in a thermal with these wonderfull birds is one of the great things about flying gliders. The birds don’t seem to mind as long as you don’t get too close.
Wood Stork Soaring
These are both majestic species who love to soar and the Wood Stork in flight is a magnificent sight with legs outstretched and wings spanning up to 6 feet.
On the last day I shot some video clips with my Go Pro Hero . The little Go Pro is an incredible camera. I’ve had mine for a couple years and I continue to be amazed by the quality packed into this little box.
Go Pro Hero
I got mine with the head strap accessory so that you can wear it like a hat. The idea is that the video will be of whatever you are looking at. However, I found that the camera is so small you can get great results just holding it. That’s how I took the clips in the YouTube video that follows. The field of view is an incredible 170 degrees. So, you can hold the camera out at arms length and take video of yourself for example. Because of the very wide field of view it appears that the camera is several feet away. Of course, this also causes the horizon to look extremely curved. The bottom line is this camera is a lot of fun.
When I returned home from my soaring trip I was out on the Ocean Creek golf course and saw about a dozen Wood Storks. I mentioned this to a member of the local Audubon club and he said indeed they used to be a rare site here on Fripp Island but he thought maybe the gradual climate change in recent years might account for it. I took this photo along the 13th fairway at Ocean Creek
This morning, driving to the Marina to get a newspaper, I noticed a lot of pine pollen by the puddles . It had rained during the night and the green stuff was everywhere. Could spring be just around the corner? Seems a bit early and we’ve hardly had any winter weather yet.
Driving back I noticed two large birds in the marsh along the road going over to Sawgrass Bluffs. Could they be Wood Storks (also called Wood Ibis)? I turned onto Marsh Dunes Road to get a better look.They were; a pair, feeding in the tidal marsh. Ronnie and I saw a pair along the 13th fairway at Ocean Creek last week. I was quite surprised at the time because I don’t remember ever seeing one on Fripp Island. They are very large and unusual in appearance. They looked strangely out of place with the white marsh waders that live on the lagoon there along the fairway. I looked at the Fripp Audubon Club website and found this reference:
In lower left see comment about "Infrequent Visitors"
Since, these birds are “infrequent” if not rare visitors to Fripp Island, I must think the pair this morning were the same ones we saw last week. Wood Storks are very large, standing 3 feet or more tall, with a wing span of 4 to almost 6 feet. I have been joined in thermals with them while soaring at Seminole-Lake in Florida. On the ground they are not very attractive but spectacular when soaring.
Wood Stork Soaring
Wood Stork Feeding
Speaking of bird behavior, we have seen sea gulls flying in very large flocks behind our house several times in the past two or three weeks.
I can’t remember seeing this before. As far as I know these shore birds normally stick very close to the shore so flying around in a huge flock away from the shore must have some purpose. But what? I’m aware that birds form flocks to migrate like this flock of Black Skimmers. I shot these on the beach here in late fall a couple years ago.
Black Skimmers flocking on Fripp Island seashore in late fall
So, is spring on the way…. I really don’t know…… so I’m going to Florida next week and fly gliders.
Ronnie said I should do some blogs about our soaring adventures. We’ve had so many great soaring experiences that I didn’t know where to start. I decided, finally, to begin with the very best one. Getting there took years of trying and it is my ultimate achievement in soaring. The Barron Hilton Cup is no longer awarded but for over 25 years, it was a once in a lifetime dream for glider pilots the world over.
This is a real treasure for hikers. In 1851, Robert S. Duncanson created an oil landscape there which he titled “Blue Hole, Little Miami River”. This classic painting now resides in the Cincinnati Art Museum. When Ronnie and I lived in Loveland, Ohio wesometimes went there to hike in the winter. For us, part of the fun was ”getting there” from Loveland to Clifton. It was only about an hour’s drive and we had the option of going through the small town of Yellow Springs which is the home of Antioch College. This small village with its tiny college is worth a visit. It was founded as a utopia and that seems to be present in the culture even today.
But, back to hiking. All of the various trails here are contained within John Bryan State Park and the adjacent Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. The Little Miami River flows south through the tiny village of Clifton. Here there is a historic grist mill just before the river starts through a very narrow gorge. The old Clifton Mill, built in 1869 is open to the public. Here the river channel narrows to a deep gorge carved out of stone and for the next two miles the scenery is spectacular. The hiking options are many within these two natural areas. They are all beautiful but I think the eastern end where the gorge is narrow is the most impressive. Walking from the parking area in the village of Clifton you follow along on top of the gorge with occasional overlooks. Then, after a bit you have an option to stay on top of the rim or go down steps to the river below. These beautiful spots, for me, are most inviting in winter. The trees perch like skeletons on the tops of ridges, all the craggy overhangs are visible, very few other hikers are there with you and if you are lucky enough to have fresh snow it is really special.
We also came into the area on more than one occasion from the western end in the John Bryan State Park. One of the trails following the north side of the river is on the old stagecoach road between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The vistas here are more tranquil and the views are broader. Here are some photos of us in John Bryan State Park
You can click on the Google Map below and check out the area:
Last evening I was seated at our monthly community dinner between Ronnie and another woman who had grown up in Hillsboro, Ohio. She was surprised that I had even heard of HIllsboro. That got us talking about how beautiful southeastern Ohio is. From there we got to our favorite hiking places. One we both know and love is Ft. Hill.
Ft. Hill is officially called Fort Hill State Memorial. It is one of several pre-historic earthworks in Ohio, thus the “State Memorial” part. Ft. Ancient (much better known) is another of these massive earthworks. It seems well established that both were constructed by the Hopewell people who lived in Ohio between 100 BC and 500 AD. These “forts” are both massive hilltop enclosures (believed used for ceremonial purposes not military) constructed by carrying baskets of dirt to the top. The Ft. Ancient enclosure is much larger but the climb to the top at Ft Hill takes some effort. It makes you appreciate how difficult and long lasting the building process must have been.
The setting there is hilly, rugged and exceptionally beautiful. I don’t remember ever seeing anyone on the trails there, although occasionally there might be one or two cars in the parking area. Once out there walking, you are alone with nature. Here is a slideshow from a five mile hike around the Gorge Trail on April 14, 2011
Ronnie and I walked there together a couple times in winter and here are some winter scenes from January, 2001
I will be posting more of my favorite hikes around Ohio (and other places). Ft. Hill is here on Google Maps: