Traveling Light with Photography

I am finding myself in a bit of a dilemma.

My laptop took a bit of a dump, and I really don’t feel like messing around with it.  However, it is a very important piece of equipment when traveling and taking digital photos – I need to store my images somewhere.  Basically, it is a system running Windows 8.1, and when I fired it up a couple of weeks ago, it wouldn’t start properly.  Eventually I managed to roll back the system to Windows 8.0.  Upgrades to 8.1 failed multiple times, so now I have a laptop that I really don’t feel I can rely on to deliver.

So, the dilemma.  Do I invest in a new laptop?  Should I take a chance on the Windows 8.0 system?  Do I take an old and very slow one for the trip, and hope for the best?  Or, is there some way, using my Chrome Book and the Cloud, or an external HD, to back up my SD cards?

I need to back up my SD cards – I take too many pictures.  Buying oodles of SD cards seems rather dumb, and potentially expensive.

I have small external HD I used on my questionable laptop . . . . so this afternoon, when I get home from work, I plan to take a camera, take some pictures – maybe a lot of them – and connect it to the Chrome Book.   The external HD will be in the other USB port.  And then let’s see how the transfer works out.  I might be able to use a USB flash drive instead – and it will be smaller in size than the external HD.

I expect it may be horribly slow.  And, I will not be too happy.

Another option is to use a cloud-based storage system, but I need to find out about that one.

And I also need to look at one of our old laptops from 1732.  Considering we are leaving in 10 days, I better get my ass in gear.

It’s in the News, and Now It’s Time to Walk

Okay, a bit of a rant, but a timely one as well.

In the news, women are losing rights in all directions, especially in health care choices.  Now, women in power who are being told to shut up, or sneered at by men, or talked over by men, or being “mansplained” to, are making the news.  We have Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren being interrupted or censured by members of the Congress for talking too much.  Harris was labeled “hysterical” while a male counterpart was not, even though both were asking serious questions by someone on the news.  Veronicka Hubeny was mansplaned by Jim Holt until he was finally interrupted by a woman, Marilee Talkington, spoke up out of the audience, “Let her speak!”

Women are to be seen and not heard, as we are not very important.

I guess.

Two months ago, one of our dogs was having issues with an ear and a hotspot.  We went to our normal vet.  While we have gotten good treatment there, I have honestly never liked any of the male vets there.  The one woman vet left shortly after she got there, ostensibly for a move, but I wonder now if she left because of the testosterone.  She was great.  Why?  She explained, she talked, and she took time.  However, when with all the male vets, I am loomed over and interrupted.  This last one made it obvious he really couldn’t give a rat’s ass about any of my concerns.  Finally, he failed to address the initial reason I brought our dog in after the ear was cleared up.  He was some tall, thin guy, standing over me, and, talking through me, interrupting my questions and explaining.

Gosh, I am so stupid!  I am lucky I can put one foot in front of the other without toppling over!

I sat there, pretty pissed, but keeping my nasty mouth shut.  My thoughts, as I listened to the expert, were he just was going to ignore the problem until it got so bad we came back, and he could make more money.

And things did get worse.  And worse.  And then better for a bit.  And finally bad enough we made the choice of finding a new vet.  Just by chance, we chose a practice closer to our home, and where all the vets are women.

We went, we were listened to, we had things explained to us about current treatment, and what may be necessary in the future if our dog has serious allergy problems.

Our questions were answered.

We were treated with respect.

We were assumed to be intelligent.

Our dog was not just a cash machine to pay for the Maserati.

What men, and many doctors and other professionals fail to realize is that anyone I go to is MY EMPLOYEE.  I am hiring them for their expertise.  Got it?  You can be fired.  My money will go elsewhere, and while I doubt you will miss me, trust me, I won’t miss you and your attitude.


10 Years of Photography

Taken in 2003 at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium with an Olympus C3000Z

I have been digging through my archives of photography and am surprised to see I have been doing it for 10 years.  I didn’t even think about this until I saw I had been on Flickr since 2007.  That time has gone by so fast!

I picked up the photography habit with a friend, who later loaned me his Nikon D70 for nearly a year.  Until then, I had simple point-and-shoot digital cameras, and complete fiascos with film cameras (back before digital) as I had no idea how to take pictures.  I figured a good camera was all I needed.  Not true!  I have a lot of pictures of the backsides of deer which are evidence of my lack of knowledge on how to get a good picture.  I like to think I have improved since then!

The only formal education I ever had – in a classroom, for a grade – was in 2003 when I was laid off from a job.  I took a film photography class that summer, and it was an eye-opener.  I used a film camera my husband had from high school, a 50mm lens, and access to a darkroom at the local community college to develop and print black and white film.  I loved it – and hated it.  Most important, it taught me a lot about photography, though I really didn’t grasp the relationship between iso-f/stop-exposure until I had the ability to do endless experiments with a good digital camera (the D70) which allowed for exploration into those factors.  By exploring those, I have learned I prefer f/stops for my main image control, as DOF is, to me, an extremely important photography element.  Only when the light shifts do I change time and iso as priorities.

Photography is an art, but it is still not my go-to preference.  But, when I look back, I can see what I do enjoy about it.  Memories of times past, seeing how people change over the years (like my husband!), and just how lucky I was to get some pictures, and how much I’ve learned.  Because I am such a gotta-be-doing-something-with-my-hands person, the darkroom – the film darkroom – was a great place.  The digital darkroom is not my favorite place because you sit and play at the computer.  Still, I appreciate it – there is a lot which can be done easily in the digital darkroom (digital dungeon?) which is not so easily done in the physical darkroom.

Cool Stuff on Hot Days: Gelato

If there is something dear to the heart of most of us, it is ice cream, or some form of ice cream, especially on a hot summer’s day.  Making ice cream from scratch is a bit intense at times – like when the hand-crank freezer leaks salt into the batch you have been waiting for.  Another disappointment is when it gets chunks of ice when you freeze it in the freezer without having churned it because you don’t have a churn.  You can also put a bowl in a bucket of ice and chill the mixture by hand, stirring, stirring, stirring, but that is a bit primitive.

Enter the electrified, freeze-the-bowl-overnight variety of churn.  We got one for our wedding over 20 years ago, and we still use it.  It looks something like this one, except we have to make the ice cream!  And it works wonderfully well for gelato.

I’ve outgrown my taste for heavy, thick ice cream. Frozen yogurt is okay, but never a favorite. Sorbet is better than ice cream or frozen yogurt, but not quite what hits home.  The other night, we went out shopping and ended up buying gelatos just because. And then the thought hit: why not make it at home?  We just love gelato!

Research began, and at first I was sure I was not finding anything that was gelato as it sounded way too much like ice cream.  The difference, it seems, is that gelato is not all cream, but a bit of cream or half-and-half combined with milk.  Some gelato recipes have egg yolks, and others do not.  Those egg yolks are necessary to absorb water and prevent those nasty chunks of ice from forming, so some recipes that are eggless use a starch of some sort to absorb the water molecules.  Interesting, eh?  You can use cornstarch or potato starch or arrowroot.  Not liking that idea, I used egg yolks in mine, but it is good information to have on hand.  Ya gotta love the internet!

Basic Gelato Recipe
3 c. whole milk / half-and-half / cream combination (largest portion should be milk)
3/4 – 1 c. sugar
4 egg yolks

Heat milk combination over low heat with half the sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Watch the heat does not get too high. Beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until thick, heavy, and filled with air. Add a bit of vanilla if you want. Once the milk is warmish, and the yolks are beaten and thick, take about a cup of warm (not scalding hot) milk and beat it into the yolks. This is to equalize the temperatures of both mixtures. If the milk is too hot, you will cook the yolks, which is not what you want to do. Then, beat in the rest of the milk. Once this is done, take a fine strainer or sieve and pour the mixture through it to remove any chunks of cooked egg or whatever. Store in the fridge until cold.  Then freeze, using whatever ice cream maker you have on hand, being sure to read the directions!!!

Customizing your gelato is easy.  Some hints I read about making good gelato, one with a deep rich flavor, is to use over-ripe (but not spoiled) fruits, freeze it until custardy in texture, not hard, and so on.  Too little flavor is not good!  I read about the following types of gelatos:

  • mascarpone lemon gelato
  • chocolate-cardamom-stewed fig gelato
  • toasted coconut gelato
  • raspberry gelato
  • blueberry lemon gelato

You get the idea – you can do anything you want!  What did I choose?

Mint & Chocolate Chunk Gelato
2 c. whole milk
1 c. combination of cream & half-and-half
1 c. sugar
4 egg yolks
fresh mint leaves
vanilla extract
chopped Valhrona 70% or more dark chocolate (1 bar)

Follow the directions above. In the milk mixture, add the mint leaves and leave to soak a bit. Beat the egg yolks and vanilla. When ready to combine the two, I strained out the mint leaves and set them aside. Once the yolks and milk were combined, I took the mint leaves, now soft from being in the warm milk, and chopped them up as fine as I could. Then I put them into the yolk-milk mixture, and put the whole mess in the fridge to cool. Once ready to churn, I set up the ice cream maker and churned – about 20-25 minutes by my watch – and then, before removing the gelato from the churn, added the chopped chocolate.

Freeze, eat, devour.

Altogether, I was very happy with the recipe. I think the chocolate could also be melted and then slowly poured into the gelato as the ice cream machine runs. That could be pretty darn delicious. I know we will be revisiting gelato a lotto this summer.

One of the Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipes Ever!

These came to dinner one night . . . and then the recipe moved in!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix together until creamy:
2 1/2 cubes of butter, softened (1 1/4 c)
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar

Add and beat in:
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Add to the mixture, beating in:
1 1/2 c. white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg

Stir in:
3 c. old-fashioned oats, or a mixture of 2 c. oats and 1 c. Trader Joe’s mixed grains
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. raisins

Use a tablespoon to drop onto cookie sheets; bake for 10-11 minutes.