Friday, October 30, 2015

2015 Family Pumpkin Carving Contest

This year's family pumpkin carving contest had some pretty good entries.  I am a little embarrassed to say that yes, I won again.  The bottom pic is from my household.  The bottom right was mine, 1st place.  Next to it was my oldest son's, 4th place.  Top left was my 7 year old son's.  It was 6th or seventh, who cares.  He got the point though, that he is going to have to man up and learn how to cut a pumpkin.  My wife's was the toothy one on the top right.  It got third.  The big mouth full of teeth is a recurring theme for her, maybe it will work out better for her next year.

The top pic has all the entries. The two on the farthest right that were not very well lit were not officially entered because they were produced by non family.  I think that a couple of others could have won just as easily as mine this year.  Of note, my sister did the 2 face one, top middle.  It looks way better lit up in the dark than it did in daylight.  My step mother tried to play on the popularity of the 70's rock band KISS, but the judges were of the wrong demographic to be impressed and she was appropriately given last place.  Happy Halloween!!!!!

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 in Chicago, Time-lapse

I made my yearly trip to Chicago with my children last week for Memorial Day weekend.  One of the things I looked forward to was testing out my new Brinno TLC 200 Pro camera.  It is made specifically for make time-lapse videos.  The great thing about it is that every thing you need is contained in this small camera.  It also has weather proof housing that can be purchased separately.  This is a compilation of some of the videos we made.  The first is from our hotel room at The Wit on State Street.  The next one was from the Ferris wheel at the Navy Pier as we made one revolution.  We also spent some time kicking a soccer ball at Grant Park while the camera was strapped to light poles and trees getting footage of Buckingham Fountain and the harbor.  The last segment was from the Lakefront Trail near Shedd Aquarium.  Overall I thought they turned out okay.  I think if I had attempted to use the camera's manual focus they might have turned out a little better.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 Family Pumpkin Carving Contest

Click the pic to enlarge

Click the pic to enlarge

This year the core group of contestants was reduced by one because my sweet wife was at home sick.  My boys both did their own pumpkins by themselves from beginning to end.  Our guest judge was a neighbor who is a college professor with a PhD so he knows a thing or two.  He correctly chose my pumpkin on the top far right as the winner.  My 10 year old's was on the top left and it came in second place.  My father got 3rd with his yearly standard pumpkin on the right in the middle row.  My seven year old boy did a little too much work around the left eye of his and ended up blowing it out.  It is the one on the left in the middle row.  He got last place but I thought it was still pretty good. 

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

An Antlion Capturing and Eating an Ant

My mother collected these "doodlebugs" a few days ago to show my children.  I got interested and decided to try to video them in action.  They are called doodlebugs because of the doodly patterns they sometimes make in the sand when moving about.  They are also called antlions because ants are a staple of their diet.  We have fed them so many ants and they always seem ready for more.  Antlions are the larval form of an insect in the order Neuroptera, which also includes the green lacewing.  They are classified in the family Myrmeleontidae, genus Myrmeleon.  I do not know which species this individual belongs to.

It is really interesting to watch them build and use their sand pit traps.  They move backwards burrowing into the sand in a circular pattern while tossing the sand out of the pits with rapid jerking of their heads.  When the pit is deep enough they sit at the bottom with only their jaws exposed and wait on their prey, usually ants.  If the ant is able to gain the footing to get out, the antlion showers it with sand causing it to slide back to the bottom.

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Sunday, February 02, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII Prediction

Not much to say here but that I think Peyton will pull off a win to solidify his status as the best that ever played. Denver 35, Seattle 31.

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 Family Pumpkin Carving Contest

Click the pic to enlarge

This year I had a hard time making the effort because I was so fatigued after taking my kids camping. We had a good time though. Somehow we let my teenaged sister talk us in to letting 2 of her best friends judge the competition and believe it or not her kitty cat took the prize.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

2012 Family Pumpkin Carving Contest

Click the pic to enlarge

We had another good year for our annual family pumpkin carving contest. The smack talking was at an all time high, while the quality of work may be in question. We again did not allow the judge to know which pumpkin belonged to whom before judging in order to make it as fair as possible. In addition to the immediate family, we had 2 entries from relatives visiting from out of town. The top pic shows all entries. On the bottom are my household's entries. Mine is on the top right, it got 1st place. My wife got 3rd, it is in the top left spot. My oldest boy came in dead last. He actually made his design and cut it by himself this year for the first time, his is on the bottom. My youngest boy made the design and mom cut it for him, his is top middle and it earned the next to last spot. The judge somehow thought he was going for the R2D2 look and gave him a small break.

Click the pic to enlarge

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Baby Rabbit Decomposition in Time-Lapse

This young rabbit was found at my dad's doorstep several weeks ago. We believe it was killed and delivered by his cat. I had been thinking about doing a time-lapse of a decomposing animal for quite a while and figured that I would make the best of this fresh carcass. I built a box using a wooden frame and chicken wire to allow smaller animals and bugs in while keeping out the larger animals that might just drag it off.  Here is the "rot box".  Since the lid is removable to allow full sunlight, I may call it the "grow box" for future projects.
Here is the box after this project was completed with the lid open and the camera in place.

For the filming I used my new Pentax Optio WG-1 which is really durable and versatile. I started taking 1 picture every 12 minutes, but as the action sped up over the last two days I increased the frequency to once every 5 or six minutes. On the last day when I went out to check the progress, I was disappointed to see the whole rabbit was gone. There were no bones or anything left, so I thought a snake or something had gotten in and carried it off.  However, after watching the playback, I realized that the maggots had devoured the entire rabbit. I was expecting a skeleton to stay together for several weeks and had planted some grass seeds to grow up and eventually beautify the whole gory scene, but it went way faster than I expected.  The entire process took only 4 days.

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