Wednesday, May 24, 2023

My Artistic Side

Those of you that know me know that I am a very analytical person. As a software developer I have to have a good knowledge of the technology I use and be able to make logical decisions on how best to solve any problem or create any type of software. There are rules and patterns that I have to understand and apply so I have to stay within certain guidelines. This doesn't mean there isn't some creativity to what I do for a living as there are multiple ways to solve a particular problem or manage the team to get the required results.

Even in what I do in my photography is more technical than art as it is more about capturing some astronomical event than creating something artistic.  However as part of the last lunar eclipse that I took photographs of I managed a few good sunrise pictures. They were good but did not represent what I really saw or even felt. That lead me to join the photography club in our community to help me become better. Most of the people in the club are really good photographers and a few are even good enough to be professionals. I have learned a lot from them and picked up a few techniques I can use to take a better pictures.

However the main thing I learned about photography from the people in the club it that photography is more than taking at good picture. It is about telling a story, exposing some interesting feature of nature or life. The composition of the shot and making sure it has a clear subject that inspires some reaction is more important than any technical aspect of a photo. There is a lot more creativity and art require to take a good photograph so that is something I have to work on.

In March I decided to upgrade my camera to a DSLR. It's a entry level mirrorless camera from Canon. It's the EOS R10. The main different from my old Canon Powershot 740 is a real sensor and an interchangeable lens. Even though my Powershot 740 had a couple of different manual modes it still had some limitations especially for depth of field and focus. With the R10 I have a lot more control and flexibility on how to frame and capture what I see. For example I can finally do some macro photography and capture the details of a flower and blur the background.

Here is another example. 

I still have a lot to learn both technically and artistically but the more pictures I take and the more I talk with the people in the photo club the more confidence that I get that I can get a lot better and produce some spectacular photos like they do.

Once a year in the community I live in there is a photography and art show. There are some really good artists here. I mean painters, sculptors, and photographers. 

There is even a guy who does some amazing carvings. Theses are shoes carved and painted from a single block of wood. Only the shoe laces are real.

It definitely takes a lot of patiences. 

There were over 60 photos submitted by people in the photography club. There was a good range of landscape, portrait and macro shots.


I originally wasn't going to add any of my photos to the show as I didn't think any of my were good enough but the president of the club had seen some of my photos and encouraged me to submit a couple.

The first one was a picture of a Flamingo that I took on my phone and through some photo shop work it turned in a pretty good picture.

The other was a sunrise picture I took in Manasquan in November. 

When these were printed out and framed they actually looked better than expected. I got a lot of good comments at the show even from some of the other photographers. These are good photos but I know I can do a lot better. It was good talking to the other photographers and artists at the show and I now how some ideas of how I can improve my photography. I don't know how good I can get but I am enjoying it and gives me an excuse to explore something more artistic.


Sunday, May 7, 2023


One of the most important questions I need to answer every week is where am I going to ride and do I want to lead. I usually have a couple of ideas of where I wanted to go. This week I wanted to do a hilly ride but wasn't sure where. Laura emailed me to say she wanted to go to the Fuel Factory in Flemington. I had route from Rocky Hill that would have worked but Laura also wanted to visit Lower Creek Rd which had been fixed an repaved after the flood took out the road a couple of years ago. I didn't want to go over the Sourlands to Flemington then down to Lower Creek and back over a couple of hills to get back to Rocky Hill. It would have been too many miles and too much climbing for this early in the season. So the solution is to start from Prallsville Mill. 

 I told Laura that I would work on a route but was busy at work and had to spend a day at my fathers so by the time I started to come up with a route Laura already had sent me one. It would go straight up to the top of Federal Twist. If it was later in the season maybe but I don't have the legs to do that so I said a definite NO!

Here next try had us going up Warsaw which is one of the easier ways up the hill from the Delaware so I took that route and made a few changes to my preferred roads and listed the ride. 

On the day of the ride Jim got to Prallsville Mill first because he is always a lot early. He found that the parking lot was closed for a private event. He called me and I decided to move the start to Bulls Island which is just up the road. He stayed at Prallsville Mill until I got there and directed people to Bulls Island. When I got there a few minutes later Jim and I made a few phone calls to let people know of the new starting point. With out much trouble we were able to get all of the people on my ride to Bulls Island and only started the ride a few minutes late. 

We did this route which was hilly but about as easy as I could make it in the area we were riding. Even though I haven't done a lot of hills I didn't have a problem going up the hills. I was just a little slower than the rest of the people. The weather was almost perfect with bright sun and 60 degrees and for once there was not a lot of wind. 

Fuel Factory was busy and made a good stop. I used to the roads Laura suggested to get into and out of Flemington and it was we didn't run into the normal traffic we usually do so I will use these road again if we go back that way. 

On the way out of Flemington we went through a couple of neighborhood roads that were a little steep but quiet. For once on one of my rides there were no road closed or bridge out adventures. When we got to Lower Creek the road was nicely paved. I think they moved part of it farther away from the creek so that the next flood won't take it out. 

So although I led this ride I had some help from Laura and Jim to make sure we had a good ride.

Saturday, April 29, 2023


Riding a bike is best done in the company of others. Half the time I ride it is usually with a group, mostly the Insane Bike Posse. Riding is safer and more fun with others. Yes the people I ride with may be a little odd but that is probably true of most serious bikers. 

I am amazed at all the connections that I have made through biking. Besides the Princeton Freewheelers I'm also a member of the Jersey Shore Touring Society(JSTS) and Philadelphia Bike Club(PBC). I joined JSTS when I moved so I had a club closer to where I live. I probably ride with them once a month during the warmer seasons. It's been a year since I joined the club and am starting to get to know some of them. 

Last Saturday I went on a club with JSTS. It was a 40 mile ride at a B pace. There were 8 people on the ride and I recognized a couple of them. At the rest stop, which was at Roy's, I ran into Statler and Waldorf who were on their own ride since they didn't think they could do Laura's longer 60 mile ride. So I was on a JSTS ride talking to people from PFW who know most of the Posse. It was a meeting of my many connections.

Saturday night we went to a party at a friends house in our community. There were about 20 people there most of them I knew but I also met a few new people. The community I live in is a true community in the sense that most people here respects each other and work to make the community a good place to live. There are a lot of active clubs and events and a lot of chances for social interactions. 

We don't attend a most of the parties or events but are a member of some of the clubs. This past Wednesday the veterans club ran a trip to the Battleship NJ. I had always wanted to take a tour of the ship so I went along. It was a well organized trip. The club rented a bus that drove us to and from Camden and arranged for a complete tour of the ship. We got to see everything from the main bridge all the way down to the boilers in the lower decks of the engine room. The engineer in me really loved seeing the mechanical workings of this complicated ship. It was also fun taking the tour with some veterans who shared some interesting stories from their time in the service. You can see some pictures of the ship here.

Although I only knew a couple people in the veterans club they ended up being a very fun an welcoming bunch of people so I now have a couple new connections to people in the community.

For a person who shy's away from social interactions I'm amazed by all the connections that I have made and continue to make. I'm glad I have made these connections as I know they help my mental well being and hope my interaction with people help them as well.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Is It Wednesday or Saturday


I am still adjusting to having Wednesday's off. One of the good things about having an extra day off a week is that I can take advantage of good weather. This past Wednesday was a perfect spring day so I organized a ride with the posse down to Pemberton. This was a longer ride than the usual Wednesday ride to take advantage of the weather. It felt like a Saturday ride as we almost had the full crew since Laura took a day off and joined us. 

It was a perfect day for a flat ride and even though we had a strong head wind on the way back we ended up with a good average. I was actually hot at the end of the ride and which has me looking forward to the warmer weather. 

This Saturday threaten rain that never came so I ended up doing a short solo ride. If I knew it wasn't going to rain I might of done a longer ride but since I did a long ride on Wednesday it didn't really matter. 

So this week was flipped flopped when I did my long ride and short ride so Wednesday felt like Saturday and Saturday felt like Wednesday. It doesn't really matter but I can now see how people that are retired lose track of what day it is because their routine has changed and what day of the week it is no longer matters.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

When is a Porta John an ATM and other Musings from our Wednesday Rides


So I'm not a retired person but I play one when I'm off on Wednesdays since I only work 4 days a week now. On Wednesday I usually try to get a ride in if the weather is good enough. As the weather has gotten a little warmer some of the retired members of the posse are leading rides on Wednesday so I join then when I can. Last week I led a ride out of Allentown and had all the the retired members plus Laura who had the day off. 

This week Ricky decided to lead which I think is the first time he led. It was a good route from Thompson Park

The Wednesday rides tend to be in the 35 mile range but may get longer in the summer. About 5 miles into the ride somebody needed a bathroom so we pulled into a park with a porta john. As we rode up the driveway somebody working under the covered picnic area was yelling at us. We didn't understand him but it sounded like he was saying ATM. As we pulled up to the Porta John with the door open we saw that it was empty. Apparently someone took the porta john house and removed the JOHN part so it could serve as a cover for an ATM. Never saw that before but no problem we found a usable one down the road. 

It was cloudy 50 degree day with some mist so it wasn't the best weather for a ride but I felt strong and we moved along at a good pace even into an unusual east head wind. 

These ride may not be as adventurest as our weekend rides but it is a nice way to break up the week. I may not post about many of them but since our most prolific blogger is on hiatus I figured I'd try to post more often.


Sunday, March 26, 2023

Windy Day

With the forecast with rain for Saturday and a warm but windy day for Sunday I put together an off the books ride for Sunday. I originally had 4 people but ended up with only 2 others beside myself. 

Since it was going to be blowing at 15-20 mile from the west I planned to go into the wind from MCP towards Princeton so we would have a tail wind on the way back. We did this route which had a couple of my unusual features. We started out on the Trolley line path for a little while before heading through Plainsboro and through College park to get to Kingston. The goal was to get to the Blawenburg Bistro since Jim likes that place and wants it to stay open I figured I would give them some business. I thought about trying some how to hook up with Jim's ride but it would have been hard to time since we started an hour earlier than his ride and our routes were a lot different. 

We stopped at the Bistro which does have a good selection of baked goods. Jim asked me to make sure I left his group some. I can assure you that there was plenty left when we departed so I hope he had a good stop. 

It is spring which means I need to start getting in shape for the season ahead. Although I tried to keep the route relatively easy I did add a couple of hills to try and get my hill legs working. 

The wind grew stronger as we were riding so when we turned back towards home we had a good tail wind to push us home. At the end I felt better than last week so I hope the trend continues.

On a completely different subject because of the rain on Saturday I was able to finish my latest project. As I reported in this post I got some live edge walnut a couple of months ago. I finally used some of it for a plant stand. When we moved we didn't need my wife's old desk as the office in the new house had a built in one.

So I repurposed it as a plant stand by an empty spot we had by a window. 

I built a frame and then pieced the walnut into the frame. The wood I got was really rough so it took a lot of sanding to get it looking good enough to use. 

To bring out the beauty of the wood and protect it from the water that will drip off the plants and be spilled on them I put some deep coat epoxy on it. 

I filled to spaces between the different pieces of walnut with blue sand and glass beads. This was to reduce the amount of epoxy I needed to fill the gaps and coat the wood because epoxy is expensive. The sand and beads actually look pretty good with the wood in the epoxy. This it the first time I tried to create a piece like this. I'm happy with the way it came out but it was a lot of work. There is a lot more to creating an epoxy table then mixing the epoxy and pouring it in. I learned a lot from this project that I will apply to the next one I do. I have 3 more piece of walnut so now I just have to decide what I will do for my next project.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Spring is Here!

After spending a couple weeks in Florida where is was in the 80s it was a little tough to come back to NJ where is has been in the 40s. Luckily last Saturday it warmed up into the upper 50s. I managed to convince most of the Insane Posse to follow me out of Etra Park for a 42 mile ride. Here is the route

Although it was warm it was a little windy but it felt good to be out riding again after being off the bike for almost 3 weeks. It was also good to catch up with everybody and talk about my vacation. By the end of the ride I was feeling the effect of not being on the bike and was a little worn out. 

Spring officially arrived on Monday so that means the weather is getting warmer and there shouldn't be much chance of snow so I should be able to get out more and start build some miles. This past Wednesday I decided to do a solo ride on the Henry Hudson trail. I started from Freehold and headed out the Keyport and back on this route

The Henry Hudson trail is paved so I used my road bike. It was an overcast day but warm. The trail was mostly empty so it was a relaxing easy ride. The trail does cross a number of streets where you have to slow down and check for traffic. I know some people find this annoying but I was in no hurry so I didn't mind it. The trail is not completely finished so there is one part that you have to take to the streets. There are a couple of streets you can take to get back to the trail. I didn't like the way I took last time so tried a different route which was much better. This also brought me by a garden center which was obviously ready for Easter.

The trail goes all the way to Sandy Hook but I stopped at Keyport and headed down to the bay  for a look at Sandy Hook and the Verrazano Bridge before heading back. 

I'm sure there will still be a few cold days of riding ahead but I'm glad spring has arrived and I can look forward to some warmer and longer rides.