Flickr and Smugmug

Flickr & Smugmug

Wow!  I just discovered that Flickr was sold from Yahoo! to Smugmug.  I am not sure if this is good or bad but I am cautiously optimistic.  It was widely covered, last year, 2017 that Yahoo! was selling itself and that Verizon was the winner with $4.5 Billion.  To me, that was very sad since Yahoo! was the first search engine that made it big.  As the pioneer, I really pulled for them to succeed but due to poor management decisions, they fell by the way side and shrunk in market share.

Yahoo! acquired Flickr in March 2005 and for some reason, never really put the resources needed for them to succeed, despite having a huge member base.  I joined Flickr with a Pro account in June 2005 and have been a paid member ever since.  They’ve had free versions but I wanted the unlimited account.  When Verizon took over Yahoo!, they merged them with America Online (AOL) under a new brand name Oath.  They sold off Flickr to Smugmug, a long time competitor to Flickr.

As a paid, Pro member of Flickr for 13 years, I’ve always been a fan and though a couple times, I considered dropping them due to Yahoo!’s neglect of them.  Flickr has been a very cool sight for photographers where you can upload your non reduced, original photos and share them with the world.  Now that Flickr is under new management, I am hopeful they can revive them back to relevance again.  I am going to renew my Pro account and hopefully we’ll see some improvements soon.

Many people today think that since Facebook allows uploads and so does Instagram, there is no more need for Flickr.  That is not true because those sights are not geared toward real photographers, with full size photos.  They are not even in the same category.  One thing that Flickr does that I use extensively is post on my personal blog with embedded images that are stored on Flickr.   This is huge because it prevents me from using up all my storage on my web hosting provider with photos.  In fact, the very photo that you see at the beginning of this blog, is hosted on my Flickr account.

While Google has their Google Photos, they are not the same.  They are very nice but they don’t have a designated page where the user can make their photos public for everyone to see.  I have family and friends that do not want their pictures published publicly and with Flickr, I can make some public while others are not.  I can share them with friends only, family only, public, or only me.  Who knows if this change will make things better but I sure hope so. Keep an eye out for my page and I’ll post more on it later as things change.

 

Wildfires and Drought

Untitled

I know it seems like I am always posting about our never ending drought but this past week it has reached a critical point with ~400,000 acres of land burning in Oklahoma.  I took this picture from my front yard, this week, April 13, 2018 of the sun before it set.  You can see how thick the smoke was not only by looking at the sun but by looking at the haze between my vantage point and the neighbor’s houses. The amazing thing was these fires that were causing this smoke were 100 miles away.

This picture shows the same view without being zoomed up.  You can see that it was very thick and we had a air quality alert going on at the time.

Wildfire smoke with Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station

In the last picture, you can see the view from the backyard with our weather station in the foreground.  Forgive the mess with the tree limbs. We cut some tree limbs and were waiting for the bulk pickup from the city.

Today is a huge blessing as we are getting our first significant rainfall in months.  As of me posting this, we have .56 inch of rain for the morning so far and I can still hear the rain falling.  We desperately needed this rain and I hope it continues for many hours to come.  It is getting old waking up to the smell of wildfires every morning.  It smells like someone is burning in their fireplace but then you realize, that it is not cold outside.

This has been a cooler than normal Spring, though we’ve had virtually no moisture to speak of. Tulsa is 100 miles from us and they’ve had more than three times the moisture that we’ve had here in Oklahoma City.  Hopefully today’s rains are a sign things are changing.  I just wanted to share a few photos of the smoke this week. Thanks for stopping by.

Just Returned from Trip

Yesterday, March 16th, we returned home from a trip to Tucson, AZ for my work.  It was busy, fun and pretty tiresome and I am glad to be home. We were gone for two weeks.

Untitled

Going to Tucson is always rewarding for several reasons.  The first being that my mom loved this place and we went to visit every year when I was a kid.  The second was that when I was in the Air Force, my first base was Davis-Monthan AFB, in Tucson.  My wife and I lived there first during our Air Force career.

My mom loved going to Old Tucson Studios where many Western and cowboy movies were made.

Untitled

There were several John Wayne movies made at this location and so we really love the place.  Some of my mom’s greatest memories were from here.  We lost her in 2005 but I know she really loved it.

Untitled

In this picture above, you can see the many many saguaro cactus that are part of the Sonoran desert. These cactus are protected since this is the only place in the world they grow.  It takes 100 years for them to grow a single arm.  They are priceless and protected for good reason.

Untitled

In this picture you can see Golden Gate Mountain, in the Tucson Mountain range. It is visible in many western movies such as the High Chaparral, Rio Bravo, etc.  It is very impressive up close as it is covered by thousands of saguaro cactus.

Untitled

In this picture you can see the many species of cactus that are native to the Sonora Desert.  There are the saguaro, the cholla, and even the Palo Verde trees visible in this picture.

Untitled

In the picture above, you can see a view of the city of Tucson as seen from the top of Mount Lemmon.  This mountain is 9,157 feet in elevation and is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina mountains on the North side of Tucson. It is 27 miles from the bottom to the top but takes nearly an hour to drive because it has such winding roads.  The city of Tucson goes right up to the Catalina mountains but as you can see from this view, there is a mountain in the foreground that blocks the view of most of the city.

We really had a good time but I have to say that I am glad to be home where I can rest.  This was a work trip for both me and my wife but more so for her.  Now we have a few more memories to hold onto.  Thank you for stopping by.

Switched to Verizon

Well, today we did the unthinkable.  We left T-Mobile for Verizon Wireless even though we loved T-Mobile.  My wife and I work in a place that is really hard to get a cell phone signal though AT&T and Verizon do get a signal simply because they have towers right outside the building.  Verizon even has repeaters in our office.

We’ve been a fan of T-Mobile since 2000 but finally reached a point where we could not justify paying a monthly service for something that we couldn’t get a signal at work when we are there at least 10 hours a day.  When people call us, it may or may not ring but when we would answer it, the call would not go through. We could not get text messages either.  While it will be a more expensive bill, we will at least be able to get a signal at work.  T-Mobile, if you can ever get this problem fixed, we’ll gladly return.

So far the service has been more than adequate.  The voice over LTE (VoLTE) seems to work great with not only my wife and I but when I call my dad on his AT&T phone.  I am very satisfied so far.  I have no complaints.

Still Polishing Up Shack

Ham Shack Connections

This year we completed a two year tower project and now we are trying to finish polishing up the connections inside. The picture above shows a Microsoft PowerPoint illustration of the current setup.  The TS-2000 is old and needs to be replaced so that will be one of our future projects.  This just shows how the cabling is setup at this moment.  If you can think of a better way of doing it, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It is a rare opportunity for the family to be together since many are living in remote locations.  The weather is going to be perfect for a family get together.  One of our sons will not be able to be here as he has a prior commitment. I wish him and his family well on this Thanksgiving.

In the next couple of hours we should have a big crowd with plenty of family showing up at our place. I am so thankful to have such a great family and good health.  We have so much to be thankful for.

Just this week a coworker lost his life and left his family without him. I would like to pray in Jesus’ name that his family can experience the peace that comes with knowing him.  Their family really needs some prayers.  I should cut this short so that I can go help my wife prepare for the family’s arrival.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

First Freeze of 2017 – 2018 Season

First Freeze of 2017-2018 season

This was a screenshot of our weather station at 7:47 this morning.  It is October 28, 2017 and the last time it was this cold was last December.  I am glad to see the cooler weather. It has been so hot for so long that it is refreshing not running the air conditioner. For the record, two days ago, we were running the air conditioner.

I would like to see some snow this winter as well. The last two winters were not good for getting any snow. We are due for a good deep snowstorm this Winter.  Maybe this cooler weather will stop the need for mowing our lawn.  Maybe some of the wasp nests will be killed off. We must be the wasp capital of the world. They are everywhere you go around here.  A couple days ago, I looked up to the top of the tower and saw eight wasps flying around it near the top.  I just thought I would share the cool weather with the rest of you.

Flying Webs

Untitled

This morning, we walked out into the backyard to enjoy the coolest morning we’ve had in a long time.  I looked up to the top of the tower to see these long webs blowing in the wind from top to bottom.  This is a zoomed up picture from the ground.  Of course it was a creepy sight so I had to grab the camera and take a few shots.  To give you an idea of the length of these things, look at the beam antenna. It is 15 feet long and these webs are much longer than it.

I did some research and found this is a normal thing called ballooning, each year where spiders build webs and migrate through the winds.  Some will get caught up in the jet stream and fly for thousands of miles.  I’ve seen a lot of spider webs all over the place lately but never really paid much attention until I saw these in such great numbers and lengths on our ham radio tower.  I put myself in great danger taking this picture directly under those birds. I did it for you, the reader. No thanks necessary.

Warren Theater in Midwest City

Warren Theater in Midwest City

Today was an exciting day as the official ground breaking for the new Warren Movie Theater in Midwest City, OK.  This new theater is about three quarters of a mile from our house. I am very excited about this as we’ve been having to drive many miles for nearly a decade to go see a movie.  This is exactly what we need in this area and is long over due.  This announcement came back in February of this year and the long silence made me a little concerned that it may not happen.  This feeling was made even stronger when Warren announced this summer they had sold all of their theaters to Regal Cinemas.  I just knew that it wasn’t going to happen at that point.

Warren Theater in Midwest City

As you can see in the second photo, there was a ceremonial ground breaking with a tent set up to protect the delicate media from getting a sun burn.

More recently we’ve heard even more exciting news on developments coming in Del City.  I will save that information for another post.  I just wanted to get the word out about this development.  I am very excited about all the development in the area. It looks like my wife and I chose the right place to move back into the city.  It seems that most of the development on the East side is happening right here.  Good times if you live in this area.  Check back later for the other news.

Completed Tower

Completed Tower 9/30/2017

My wife and I started construction of this tower, two years ago, October 11, 2015. We finally got it completed today, October 5, 2017.  At the time, I was looking on Craigslist for some tower sections to put our ham shack back up in our new house.  I stumbled on a guy that was selling some Rohn 55G tower sections so I bought five of them.  Over the next two years, we had a tower mount installed into 5.5 yards of concrete.  bought hardware, antennas, antenna rotator, cables, PVC among other things.

We finally got everything installed on September 30, 2017 except for running then cables through the PVC.  I finally finished that up today at 12:30 PM.  What an expensive, tough job this has been.  It is time to stop spending money on this for a while and prepare for Christmas now that it is October.  God has really blessed me with a wonderful wife that has been very patient and giving. My neighbors are the best as well. We want to be good neighbors but since we’ve moved into this house, we’ve torn the lawn up four times.  As you can see in this picture, it has grown back nicely.  It is time to get some rest.