Friday, January 30, 2009

314/365 Work in progress

I love art that incorporates language. As a writer, that really doesn't surprise me, but I've just become conscious of it in the past year or so.

Mom is working on a new quilt for me, and with that in mind, she chose some cream-colored fabric that has words printed on it.

She began cutting out pieces last weekend, and she's been getting a little done each night this week.

Cutting with a rotary cutter has always made me nervous, even though her rulers are thick enough to create a decent barrier between the blade and my fingers. She's a pro, though, as comes with practice, and I always enjoy watching.

Now I can't wait to see the quilt come together.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 250.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

313/365 Now THAT'S what I call snow

I'm finally satisfied. On Tuesday night, we had a real snow storm, leaving us with a total of about a foot of snow.

Now that we've had a true snow storm, spring can hurry up and get here. (I doubt it will, but a girl can hope.)

Schools all around central Indiana closed for the day on Wednesday. Even with my fantastic four-wheel drive, I couldn't get out of the driveway until a neighboring farmer graciously plowed it. So that meant a snow day from work!

It also meant several mandatory trips outside with my camera, and four photos to share with you.

We were all curious to see how the horses would react to their first steps out of the barn. Destiny was the first to take a big roll in the snow, and Shep soon followed her lead.

Buster doesn't mind the snow, though when it gets deeper than a couple of inches, he can't move very easily in it. Yesterday's snow downright swallowed him. So Dad brought the snowblower into the backyard and cleared paths from the deck to each of Buster's favorite trees. Then we had a happy dog!

The sun came out in the afternoon, creating a perfect end to a beautiful day.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s and 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100, at about 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

312/365 Serious bags of coffee

Chase brought home some cool coffee sacks from his summer in Colorado, and they've been stacked in the garage ever since.

They're burlap sacks that hold 150 pounds of coffee. Now that's a lot of coffee!

I'm not a fan of anything coffee-flavored. If I treat myself to Starbucks and order a hot chocolate that ends up mocha, I can't drink it. I also pick out coffee and cappuccino jelly beans before digging in.

I like the smell, but I've never enjoyed the taste. I guess in the long run it's a good thing that I have a natural aversion to one of America's greatest addictions.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 400.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

311/365 Mouth-watering dessert

The best ice cream in the entire world is Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip. It's simply heaven in a bowl.

In my opinion, anyways.

What exactly makes it so good? To start, it's real ice cream made from 2% milk. Second, it's so good that Breyer's doesn't have to distract you with green food coloring. And when it melts, it smooths into a foamy cream, not watery liquid.

Man, that makes my mouth water just to think about it.

Mom and I started a tradition that involved Breyer's MCC ice cream when I was in junior high. Each time my dad and brother would leave town, usually in the summer time, we would choose a room in the house, repaint it, and treat ourselves to a bowl of this delicious dessert on the porch. Then we'd wait to see how long it took for Dad and Chase to notice that something was different in the house.

After a while, they started asking on their calls home, "So, what room are you working on this time?"

All the rooms have been painted now, so we just get a quart of ice cream every once in a while as a treat. Last night was the first time in many months. Heaven!

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 400.

Monday, January 26, 2009

310/365 Great insulation

To look out and see fresh snow lying on the backs of the horses tells me that their winter coats are truly effective.

It's amazing that the snow lies in its powdery form and doesn't melt. This photo is exactly the reason why in many instances, nature must be left to nature.

Think about a barn. Most aren't heated, though some people go to the extra expense to do so. You might think that it would be a luxury for a horse to live in a heated barn, but it's actually the opposite.

If a horse stays in a heated barn, it eliminates its natural ability to adapt to season changes. Meaning its coat doesn't thicken for the winter.

So our horses may live in a cold barn, but their coats are thick enough for them to withstand the day outside. And that's a beautiful sight.

Camera: Canon 40D at 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 11:15 a.m.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

309/365 Bop to the Top

My award for best stair-climbing outfit goes to this adorable little girl, who couldn't have been older than five. She had her pink sneakers laced up, her blond hair tied back, her race number pinned to her shirt... and her pink tutu secured around her waist!

Why didn't I think of that?

Since I'm writing this post-climb, you can tell that I survived my second Bop to the Top. More than 1300 people climbed to the top of the OneAmerica tower on Saturday morning between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

I climbed slower than I did last year (not intentionally). I wanted to improve on last year's time, but this year was more difficult since I haven't been running for exercise. I'm in as good, if not better, shape than I was one year ago, but I've been training my heart at an aerobic rate. Since I got a heart rate monitor, I've been careful to keep out of an anaerobic zone, which I didn't realize was a negative thing before this race.

Next year I know to train harder!

Nevertheless, I'm pleased with the accomplishment -- and the fact that I easily survived.

It seemed that the EMTs were busier this year than last. I saw at least two people being monitored, one of whom had to be hooked up to oxygen while an EMT listened to his heart.

805 steps to the 37th floor. That would be a workout for anyone.

Luckily we got to take the elevator back to the bottom!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000.

308/365 Preparing for the ascent

For the second year in a row, I signed up with two friends for Bop to the Top.

What does that entail? Climbing the stairs to the top of the OneAmerica tower in downtown Indianapolis.

805 steps. 37 floors. 505 feet.

Friday night I collected my running shoes, knee brace, throat lozenges, and heart rate monitor for the vertical trek. After that, my MO was positive thinking.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400.

307/365 Sunset over melting snow

Thursday and Friday (through the afternoon) were two of the most beautiful days we've had in recent memory.

The temperature surpassed 40 degrees, and with the brilliant sunshine, I was able to run around on Friday afternoon without a coat.


We only have about two months until the return of spring, and boy oh boy am I ready.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:45 p.m.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

306/365 The beginning of a sock

I'm totally impressed by the fact that Mom taught herself to knit a couple years ago.

(It's great for me, too, because she's always looking for new things to make -- and I often benefit!)

She's made dozens of felted slippers, some purses, a few scarves, several hats... and now part of a sock.

Not to worry, it will be a full sock, with a mate, at the end, but it's just part of a sock for now. We've heard from various knitters that once you start wearing hand-knit socks, you'll never wear store-bought pairs again.

We'll see! Until then, it's fun to see her progress on this venture.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/60s, f/5.6 at ISO 250.

305/365 Heading home

I can honestly (and excitedly) say that I'm noticing longer daylight hours in the month since the winter solstice (though you can't tell from this photo).

I'm craving sunlight and warm weather right now. January is always a rough month, and February isn't much better.

Two of the most tiring aspects of winter for me are 1. wearing a coat every day and 2. scraping my windshield.

Bundling up gets old because it's hard to move, making it uncomfortable to drive, and if you're running errands, you start roasting when you get into the store.

Is it spring yet?

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 8:45 p.m.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

304/365 Changing of the guard

On the eve of an historic inauguration, Barack Obama's face is on the cover of TIME magazine for at least the third time (that I can recall) in the last three or four months.

One of my favorite blogs, The Big Picture, has a post this week showing photos of inauguration preparations. And judging by photo #23, TIME isn't the only magazine featuring this face on its cover.

I'll be listening to coverage leading up to the event on the radio in my office, and then at lunch time, everyone will be watching the inauguration in the conference room at work.

The last time I remember seeing a TV on at work was in March of 2007 during March Madness.

What does that say?

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

303/365 Footprints in the snow

Our little bit of snow has been melting in the glorious sunshine this weekend, but there's still enough for Buster to leave footprints.

I love seeing his narrow trails winding from one tree to another in the fresh snow. He follows the same paths day after day, so the vast majority of the snow remains untouched.

We know that people are creatures of habit, but all the dogs I've known have sure ranked among the routine as well.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 4:30 p.m.

302/365 Gaze into the Magic 8-Ball

My Magic 8-Ball seems to be losing its magic blue fluid. That's a bummer, but it was admittedly interesting to see the true shape of the magic answer die inside.

According to Wikipedia, the Magic 8-Ball was invented over 60 years ago, in 1946. It never ceases to amaze me when I look up the history of toys that I've known for years and years, only to find that they've been around for generations.

What toys being invented now will have such lasting impact?

I know you're curious about the question I asked the Ball to get this negative answer. Unfortunately, it was "Will spring come early this year?"

I guess we'll have to wait until February to see what the groundhog says and hope the Magic 8-Ball is wrong.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 400. Blue cast created with extreme white balance shift in-camera, 2500K.

301/365 Bundled up

Each night before dinner, Dad takes Buster for a big walk outside.

On Thursday night, when the actual temperature was around ten degrees below zero, Buster got outside and his feet stuck to the ground, much like sticking your tongue to a pole.

Dad picked him up and brought him back inside, and he and Mom devised a way to protect Buster's feet: they rubber-banded scraps of fleece fabric onto his feet like booties.

We use the same method to protect the kitchen floor from the metal feet of our card-table chairs.

I can't look at this photo without laughing out loud.

The best news? It worked! Buster adapted within seconds and was able to run around outside like usual.

Now Mom knows that one of her next sewing projects needs to be boots for Buster.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 640.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

300/365 Jack Frost

With a low overnight of three degrees below zero, Jack Frost visited my office window today. And today happens to be the 300th day of SightSalad!

Per my now-established tradition, here are my favorite posts from the past 100 days:

209: Please don't litter

215: Classic cars and rain clouds

254: First real snow

261: Toys from Christmases past

269: Curling ribbon

279: Waking up from a cozy nap

287: First in line for dinner

In the final 65 days of this project, we'll have Valentine's Day and the beginning of Spring!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

299/365 Snowscape

We got a couple inches of snow today, which meant that accidents piled up on the commute to work.

Any time we go for an extended period of time without much snow, whether it's at the beginning of the season or during a dry spell, everyone seems to forget how to drive in it.

It sure makes me love my four-wheel drive!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

298/365 Keeping warm

We're bracing for the coldest weather we've had in two years. The low temperature on Friday is -7 degrees.


I really feel for the people who have to work outside on days like that. I do everything I can to keep warm -- wear long underwear and wool socks to work -- but I work in a heated office all day. I don't know how they do it.

It takes a certain kind of strength to face that.

I'll just keep drinking hot tea.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 200.

Monday, January 12, 2009

297/365 Qwerty

Imagine being the guy who decided to rearrange the letters on a keyboard from an alphabetical arrangement to the current QWERTY layout.

I bet he got teased endlessly by people who thought he was off his rocker.

I checked out the history of the modern QWERTY keyboard on Wikipedia, and its invention dates back all the way to 1874 with the creation of the first typewriter. I didn't realize it had been around for so long.

Its layout is ingrained in our brains now, so much so that I find it hard to text message on a phone that has its keys arranged in alphabetical order.

Part of this could very well be due to the fact that I have a rather old phone and it takes forever to text message on it, but I insist it's partially the un-Qwerty-ness!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 400.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

296/365 Dedecorating

Mom and I dragged the boxes out of the basement and finally re-stashed all of the Christmas decorations.

It's nice to have the house back to normal. My favorite reading chair has returned to its rightful place near a south window, so I plan to take full advantage of that next weekend.

My favorite chair has earned its status for many reasons:
1. The light on the south side of the house is most consistent throughout the day.
2. Its high back means I can rest my head, leading to hours of comfortable reading.
3. The chair is wide enough that Buster can hop up and squeeze in beside me.

What could be better?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 200.

295/365 Just another dusting

Chicago got ten inches of snow over the last couple of days.

And we got this: a dusting.


Shortchanged on the snow total yet again.

The last crippling snowfall we had was on New Year's Day 1999. Why do I remember this so clearly? Because Mom and I had the misfortune of trying to fly into Indianapolis the following day, and the airport was closed for the first time since the blizzard of '78.

We were in Orlando, Florida that week in 1998 while I performed in the Citrus Bowl halftime show. I distinctly remember watching the Weather Channel as the storm began forming over the northwest United States and slowly moved toward Indiana.

The storm hit on New Year's Day, the day of the Citrus Bowl, and when we arrived at the airport to fly home on January 2, we immediately had to begin securing an alternate flight home.

The three other people who were with us were able to fly stand-by on a flight the next day. Unfortunately, Mom and I had flown on frequent-flier tickets, so in the eyes of the airline, we were the lowest priority on the rebooking list.

It took us three days of attempting to get on four flights per day to get home. We learned a lot from that experience, not least of which is: we will never fly on Delta Airlines as a frequent flier ever again.

When I wish for snow, I don't necessarily want those crippling inches. But would a good six inches be so bad?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/50s, f/4 at ISO 1600, lit by an incandescent flood light at about 5:30 p.m.

294/365 Orange you glad?

I'm convinced that one of the reasons that our moods take a nosedives in the winter is due to a decrease in access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Well, at least it's true in my case.

I don't feel like I am a person who is significantly affected by the change in seasons, but I do know that when my access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables decreases, it does affect me.

Luckily, right now we're able to get good clementines, oranges, and grapefruits. But after a month or so with only these citruses for fresh fruit, I'll be tired of them as well.

And that will make me start dreaming about strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, watermelon, tomatoes...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

293/365 Light bulb moment

On the outside, light pollution seems like the most harmless of "pollutions."

But an article in the November 2008 issue of National Geographic brought to light (ahem) the very real consequences of our addiction, many of which I'd never really thought about.

The biggest negative impact of artificial light that struck a chord with me is its effect on nocturnal wildlife. Many species have evolved to structure their lifestyles around changing sunlight. But when an area has an overabundance of nighttime light, it throws off these creatures' abilities to sense when it's time to eat, sleep, migrate...

I took astronomy in college for my science credit. We spent a small amount of time talking about light pollution and its influence on earth-bound stargazing. One point my professor made has stuck with me ever since then: What do you think are some of the worst lights for causing light pollution?

Billboards. Think about it -- their lights point nearly straight up into the sky, meaning the majority of their luminescence spills out, and only a small portion actually illuminates the advertisement.

Light pollution may not seem as noteworthy as air pollution or the need for energy efficiency, but it's something to consider the next time you go to replace lights on the outside of your house.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 1600.

292/365 Lightly snowing

Our snowfall totals this season have been downright pathetic.

If you couldn't tell from that statement alone, I love snow. I don't really have the desire to live in a locale that spends six months of the year buried under it, but I do love the occasional 8-10 inches.

And this year has been, as I said, downright pathetic.

On the other hand, we've had at least three measurable ice storms, and one in particular was especially bad before Christmas, but who likes ice?

So, the picture above has become a familiar sight: light, small snowflakes. But not enough to accumulate.

How anti-climactic is that?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 640.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

291/365 Another favorite TV show returns

One of my favorite TV shows, The Biggest Loser, started its new season Tuesday night.

I find the show to be incredibly motivating and inspiring. I've become more and more addicted as seasons progress.

I'm very blessed: integrating exercise into my regular routine has been ingrained in me since I was a little kid. We have a picture of me as a toddler raising little pink weights over my head, one of my Christmas gifts that year.

So I've grown up with that mentality. But so many people haven't, and this show makes that point more strongly than anything I've seen. It's sad. It's unbelievable. But the idea behind the show and the way it's carried out is incredibly inspiring.

I'm glad they only waited a few weeks between seasons!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1 second, f/8 at ISO 100.

Monday, January 5, 2009

290/365 Gently boiling

I had my first day at my new job today (it was great), so I didn't get a chance to get a photo until dinner time.

As a result, this is a photo of gently boiling water, better known as dinner cooking. I like the fact that this angle makes it a little abstract.

Then all I wanted to do after dinner was having something sweet, kick my feet up, and relax!

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/30s, f/4.5 at ISO 200.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

289/365 Hard boiled

Hard-boiled eggs, along with yogurt and hummus, are life savers for me.

Why? I constantly struggle to get enough protein for one big reason: I'm not much of a meat-eater. Steak, lamb chops, tenderloins, hamburgers... none of these make my mouth water even the slightest. No thanks.

The most difficult meal of the day is breakfast. When I get up at 5:30, and don't eat lunch until noon, protein is an absolute must if I'm not going to pass out from starvation by 10:00.

So I'm always trying to find a breakfast that has enough protein to get me through the morning, while being healthy enough to not worry about the downsides.

Solution? Hard-boiled eggs. Whites only.


Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 500.

288/365 Bulbs burning bright

With the rising surge in availability of LED and fluorescent bulbs, I'm betting that in just a decade or two, kids will have to look in a history book to see what an incandescent bulb looked like.

That's a funny thought, isn't it? What else will become extinct in the same way?

For the time being, the majority of our Christmas decorations are lit with incandescent bulbs. The bulbs in this photo are our outdoor decorations, which will probably be stashed away this weekend.

But until then, they still burn bright outside the front door.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 500.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

287/365 First in line for dinner

Before dinner last night (for both humans and four-legged friends), I walked out to the field to the horses to get my daily photo.

Dad was a couple minutes behind me to get outside, so I was able to get halfway into the field before he reached the barn. The horses were lazily grazing as usual, but when Oprah and Destiny saw Dad, they immediately perked up.

Oprah was the first to head in. She saw me, gave me a parting glance, then gradually sped from a walk to a trot to a fast lope all the way to the barn, anxious to get to her evening grain.

As she sped by me, I held my finger on the trigger of my camera and panned with her movement, which gives the great sense of speed in the blurred background. I love how her mane is flying behind her.

Destiny took her approach more slowly, actually stopping to greet me before she made her way to the barn, and Shep always waits until the last possible second to amble in.

Leave it to Oprah to be the first in line for dinner.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 250 at about 5:00 p.m.

Friday, January 2, 2009

286/365 First sunset in the new year

Remember, just nine short years ago, the fear that came with crossing from the 20th to the 21st century?


It seems silly now, but it was so real then. I don't think we realized until 1999 how much we rely on technology. That's probably not surprising, since it's common knowledge that you don't appreciate things until you're faced with losing them.

What would have really happened if all the preparations in getting ready for Y2K hadn't been done? If people didn't go to the effort of making sure computers were ready for the change to '00?

Would everything have crashed and burned? Or would it have passed without a second thought?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 250 at about 5:00 p.m.

285/365 Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Perhaps it was a sign of the times, or else just a coincidence in choice of locale, but the restaurant where I had dinner with my friends on New Year's Eve was practically deserted.

Well, okay, "practically deserted" is a little exaggerated, but it was surprisingly empty for a restaurant in downtown Indianapolis on New Year's Eve.

We got reservations for 7:00, were told that 7:30 was completely booked, and that they would only hold our table for 10 minutes. In all actuality, several tables remained empty over the entire course of the nearly 3-hour dinner we had. No line formed at the door, no one had to wait who walked in... I found it a little odd.

So, as I said, I don't know if it was a sign of the times -- were people staying in for the night and saving money? -- or just a coincidence, but it seemed odd.

It did mean that we got to take our time with dinner, and that was completely welcome!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000.