An Old Truck

This old truck was abandoned next to the Carson River many years ago. Now it serves as a point of interest to walkers along the river.

Between taking care of my body and taking care of my projects, there has been little time to write or make photographs. The lack of good light during recent days has not been encouraging me to make photographs. When the light is flat or gray, possible subjects that might interest me just do not appeal. Therefore, although I carry a camera, I find myself not motivated to make captures.

However, one day over the last week we were walking out at Riverview Park along the Carson River. I stop at this old abandoned truck often. The place is an interesting overlook of the river. There are often waterfowl nearby and I like to watch and listen to them.

The truck proves an interesting subject sometimes. I wonder how, why, and when it was left here. Most of the assemblies are long gone; only a shell remains. I wonder what interesting life that vehicle might have had.

Hanging On

We had a hard frost a few day ago. However, it did not kill all the roses… yet.

A couple of days ago we got out early enough in the evening that there was still a little light. On our way around the old state orphanage, I came across a few “hangers-on” — a few roses that the frost has not killed. They’re distressed, but hanging on. I thought the combination of light and color was interesting, so I made the shot with the Switar 25mm f/1.4 I picked up a couple of weeks ago.

I’ll have to post a photograph of this lens. It’s really rough on the exterior and has a funky slip at a certain portion of the focus helicoid, but the glass is good and the aperture works fine. It’s a classic 16mm movie camera lens that produces interesting images. If I’m ever at a loss for things to do, I’ll disassemble it and clean the helicoid. I think that will fix the focusing weirdness.

Nonetheless, the image is worth sharing. The roses have not yet given up.

LaTeX and XML

And now for something completely different…

It is no secret (at least to those who know me) that I use Leslie Lamport’s LaTeX as my principal tool for producing written output. LaTeX is based on (one of my heroes) Donald Knuth’s TeX typesetting system. TeX was developed to support Knuth’s writing of computer science texts. Because of TeX’s beautiful output (especially of maths), others soon took up the tool.

(I despise Microsoft Word… and in general any word-processing software.)

Some time later Lamport wrote a set of macros that make TeX typesetting easier for those of us unfamiliar with the intricacies of TeX, which is decidedly low-level (but provides extreme control over output). I took up LaTeX in the 1990s while working with/on hydraulic models for U.S. Geological Survey. I loved the ease of producing very nice looking text, textbook quality maths, and working in a non-WYSIWIG environment. (Windows was just coming along at the time and I hated it.)

During that time, I actively supported something called Literate Programming, which was another Knuth creation in which both source code and documentation derive from the same file. I used the literate paradigm to produce several programs and maintained the Literate Programming FAQ list for the mailing list associated with users and interested parties of literate programming. Because there was a need to publish the FAQ in a variety of formats, I ultimately cast the source in an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) variant called Docbook. I had tools that converted the source to HTML and LaTeX (and plain text as well).

There are times when I’d like to publish maths here on my site. Yes, topics that involve mathematics still interest me and will continue to do so while I draw breath. But publishing maths in HTML is problematic. There is no standard approach that can produce beautiful mathematics rendering.

I just learned about a project, PreTeXt (http://mathbook.pugetsound.edu/index.html), that is based on XML and can produce EPUB, PDF, and HTML from a single XML source. TeX is used to set mathematics. I have not yet experimented with the work, but the prospect of producing e-reader formatted output, as well as HTML, that contains TeX maths is very interesting to me.

Therefore, once I finish working through my backlog of paying work, I think some experimentation with PreTeXt is needed. It might change the way I approach writing work. It will be interesting.

Red

On our walk along the Carson River Friday, we came upon these red berries or buds. I’m not sure what they are, but they provided an interesting contrast to the white rocks in the background.

We walked later than usual on Friday. I decided to do the strength workout before walking, so after taking care of some work and feeding us, we left the house about 1100h and headed for Silver Saddle Ranch. I really enjoy walking the Mexican Ditch Trail.

We parked at the usual staging area and humped down the hill through the ranch complex. I noticed an North American Kestrel that I first saw a few days ago, sitting in a tree. He flew off down the lane a hundred yards and perched on a fence post. As we continued walking the lane, he spooked and flew off across the hayfield. That made me smile and I spoke to him as he flew away.

I so enjoy seeing birds along the walk. I carry binoculars in my kit so I can watch them. I have an application on my iPhone that helps me identify them. My logging of my sightings is used by the Cornell Ornithology Unit to track populations, I’m certain.

I also identified a Northern Flicker as we walked the trail. I often hear woodpeckers working as we walk, but they are furtive and do not want to be seen. But Friday I spotted one and was able to observe him long enough to get an identification. His call confirmed my identification. He didn’t stay on his perch long, however. But I also spotted a female at the same location, and she was very spooky. She used her camouflage to hide against the bark of a cottonwood tree she occupied. I was amused and thankful for seeing both birds.

There was a lot of flow in the Carson River that afternoon. I supposed we had enough rain and snow in the mountains to raise the flowrate substantially. We paused at the dam to watch and listen to the water flowing over the weir. I noticed some red buds or berries on some scraggly brush along the Mexican Ditch, so we paused a few minutes for me to make an image.

There we met Linda and Austin. Linda is a tall, slender woman about my age. She’s clearly taken care of herself. Austin is her rambunctious black dog. Austin teased and irritated The Girl until she chased him. They were a hoot to watch. We all shared the path back to the ranch buildings and then parted ways, each on their path.

It was a good day. The walk did me good. The birds provided some intellectual stimulation and joy. The exercise is always good. A tired dog is a happy dog. So is a tired old man.

Washoe Valley Panorama

It’s not my best panoramic shot, but it captures the moment the Girl and I were on the Deadman’s Creek Trail.

The weather turned wet and gray yesterday evening. On our last walkies of the day, we drove over to the old orphanage doggie park and walked a circuit. It was spitting rain and the wind blew. While not cold, it wasn’t the best weather.

But The Girl is good so long as she’s moving. She’s hates being wet (but loves the snow), so I heard her shake now and again as she sniffed around. It’s a good sound and I enjoy.

The windproof hoodie I wore was enough to keep me warm. It was dark when we got out, but not bad with a light. So I enjoyed the outing and the time with The Girl.

I had to make a grocery run, so we drove to store, did the necessary reprovisioning to keep us fed, and returned home. It began raining not long after. I was glad to be home and have provisions for the next few days.

This morning is gray and rainy. I need to get out for a walk, so I’ll probably grab the M65 field jacket, put on my base layer bottoms, and get The Girl out for a walk. I really want to go walk the Carson River again today, so I think we will. Maybe there will be a photo-op out there. It will be a very different look from the recent walks.

But I was reminded of the wonderful hike we made up Deadman’s Creek Trail Sunday afternoon. While at the gazebo that overlooks Washoe Valley, I paused to make a panoramic image of the view. The fall colors are so warm and contrast so well with the cool colors of lake and sky. There is more water in Washoe Lake than I recall since we moved here in 2007. It is good to see.

It is a good. It was a good weekend. Now I’m off to go walk before the rains get started again. Life is good.

Willow Leaf

While walking the Riverview Park trail a couple of weeks ago, I spent a little time experimenting with a Wollensak lens.

Well, here is the last of my images from the fall Riverview Park hikes. The leaves are almost gone now and the trees are all dressed in their winter clothes. While there will be many days of hard blue skies and warm sunshine, the warm colors of summer and fall are gone.

But it is good. The change of seasons reminds me of changes of life. There is no constant; it is always dynamic. Sometimes the changes come so fast they take breath away, leaving one aswirl in thoughts and emotions as the changes are absorbed, if not understood or accepted.

At other times there is a slower ebb and flow to life, during which we ride those waves. The seasons remind me of those times as I walk daily the trails and watch the change in the position of the Sun and the change in the living things around me.

The slower times provide opportunity to reflect and process the times of faster change. It is good. Life is good.

On The Trail

Western Nevada gives me so many wonderful views. I love this time of year.

We are having some absolutely gorgeous weather this fall. Yes, we had a few cloudy, windy, cold days. But the sun came out late in the week, so the Girl and I went on a long easy hike from the staging area on Silver Saddle Ranch down to the Carson River and Mexican Dam. As I worked my way to the breakover where the trail heads down toward the river, I paused for a few minutes to take in the sun and the view. It was well worth the few minutes spent in field.

I will never tire of this view, no matter how many times I see it. Now I’m feeling the need to hike the Dead Truck Canyon trail again so I can get an overlook of Carson City. It would make a great image at the right time of day. It will be fun to push myself up the hill, too, with a full load out of my gear. I’ll bet my legs will complain. That is a good thing.

Soon They’ll Be Gone

These will all be gone too soon.

A few days ago, the Girl and I walked (again) the Carson River out at Riverview Park. Although they are currently rebuilding the trails, we cheat and bushwhack when we get close to working heavy equipment and then move back to the trail when we’re clear of the construction activity. I doubt they would bother me anyway and we stay out of the way of work crews.

In any event, most of the leaves are now gone. There are a few hangers-on, some cottonwoods and a few willows. They will shed their summer clothing soon and take on their winter grays.

In any event, I wanted to capture something of the sense of the day. I had the Lumix G3 with me, and the Wollensak 25mm f/1.9 affixed to the adapter. This lens doesn’t cover the sensor of the G3, but it’s close enough. The vignette doesn’t really bother me; it adds something of the vintage look to the capture, as do the optics of this old movie camera lens. I like the look.

Spiney

I’m glad the Girl didn’t get into these!

There’s an old Wife story about “spiney.” I think we were visiting with my dad one afternoon, probably a Sunday afternoon because I recall there being ham and beans in the large pot simmering on the range. That means the weather was cool and there was probably football to watch, back in the days when I watched professional sports. (I loved watching football games with dad.)

Wife remarked something about my few-day-old stubble and couldn’t think of an appropriate descriptor. Somehow or another, she managed to say something about me being “spiney,” and it came out unintentionally.

Of course, dad picked it up and ran with it, much to the embarrassment of Wife. That was another great laugh and a great Wife story.

We were hiking on the Riverview Park trails a week or so ago and came across a patch of cockleburs. When I saw them, several thoughts ran through my mind in quick succession.

“Boy, I’m glad that the Girl didn’t get into those! Even with her short fur, she’d be an unhappy Girl when I had to pull them from fur, ears, and feet.”

“Boy, I’m sure glad I didn’t get into those. They’d be a bitch to get out of my socks!”

“I sure got into a lot of those back in Missouri, particularly when squirrel hunting in the fall. They were a bitch to get out of my clothes and are spiney as hell!”

“Those might make an interesting photograph. I’d better make one.”

At that, I pulled up the Panasonic Lumix G3 and got to work. I happened to have the Wollensak 25mm f/1.9 cine lens on the camera. It has an interesting, if a bit busy, bokeh.

Happy Birthday, Wife

Although I was very distracted by project work today, I had time to think about Wife and remember her birthday. She would have been 65-years old today and we would have had a grand time celebrating the day. I would have given her quite a hard time about “robbing the cradle” as well.

I miss you, old girl. I wish you hadn’t died.