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Showing posts from December, 2015


I didn't say much before the holiday because my first real weaving project was a gift for my mother, but I've been using the last few weeks to learn more about my new hobbies. On the weaving side of things, I'm officially on Ravelry now. Which has made The Mama insanely happy. She's been teaching me the proper way to data-enter yarns, which photo goes on a project front page, and how to find various craft groups. I'm "WarpedShepherd" if anybody is interested. For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, Ravelry is the world's largest online fiber community with something like 2 million people. Lots of knitters and spinners and crochet types from around the globe. It's social media that allows you to keep a record of your projects, yarn stash, connect with others.

My first attempt was a table runner in blue and white cotton as a Christmas present. It was fun in that I got to see it from start to finish--tying the fringe, soaking, b…

Pool thoughts...

It's not so much that I have deep, passionate thoughts about whether to spend $37 million on a new high school pool. It's that, by default, if one doesn't join the debate about the issue then the voices of negativity and opposition limit any real discussion. My "I don't care, sounds good" eventually becomes silence in the face of the shouting against.

There's two pool backers in this house if it comes down to it. We'd vote yes. Neither of us necessarily plans to use a pool--though time available to the community would be a huge benefit. Maybe our kids will one day. We just think the idea of an indoor Olympic-sized pool is a good one. A good resource to have. The high school swim team and students deserve better than what's currently there. Is it the first thing I would have chosen to add to our village infrastructure? Maybe, maybe not. But that's beside the point. Our elected school board members think it's a good investment and I voted fo…

My 1st big camera mistake

I remember the first couple batches of coffee I ever roasted myself. You learn. And last weekend, there were some ugly-looking sheep that I sent off to the pens with what I called "starter sweaters" still on them. Rather than baby-smooth fuzz balls, they looked like poodles with tufts of wool here and there. I'd been hacking through the debris-filled top layer instead of next to their hides where the wool comes off easily. (You have to keep the comb and blade directly against their skin.)

Photography is the same way.

I'd been reading guide after guide about the merits of shooting in one format vs another. And many, many of the experts where I'd been following their advice on other matters suggested using raw files for the ability to edit later. (For Nikon, it's actually a .nef) It's a bigger file which means you can shoot fewer photos on one memory card, but it gives you the flexibility to process each image yourself...if you want to. The key word being &…

Abrahamic religions

Earlier today, I posted something on Twitter along the lines of: Christians who look down on Muslims are doing what they accuse Muslims of doing to them. And I ended my tweet with, "you worship the same God, people!" Which, predictably, got a reply a few minutes later of, "but it is not the same God."

I rarely get all Let Me Take You To School, but given the national dialogue at the moment, I'd been contemplating a blog post with a little Islam 101 for awhile. After all, I spent 4 years of my undergrad getting a degree and the amount of ignorance about interfaith matters can be astounding. I feel slightly obligated to pass on some of what I learned. Even leaving aside the general racial bigotry, there are many Americans who 1) just don't know any Muslims or 2) have no clue about even the basic tenets of Islam. Neither is really excusable. I've joked in my head that there needs to be some sort of a "game" where you score points for the number o…

Nikon d3300 review

I wanted to get some first impressions down about my new purchase. As I've said, I'm a fairly heavy researcher so I was already pretty certain I was going to like what I'd chosen. If that many people on YouTube, camera blogs, tech reviews, etc. all think it's a good product I couldn't imagine what I'd find wrong.

So I'll say up front--after a few days of messing around with the functions, taking a few photos, and getting to know the device--it's living up to the hype. I suppose that comes with the caveat that I'm the target audience for this camera, probably. I'm upgrading from a point-and-shoot or phone camera to something nicer, I'm tech-geeky enough to make my way through some more advanced features, and I appreciate both quality and functionality but am willing to make sacrifices at a lower price point.

The d3300 is the right mix of a few features (though not all) that a more experienced photographer may look has good modes wher…

Sheep shearing school

Gee, what did you do this weekend? Oh, nothing, just spent 2 days with a handful of people learning to get wool off about 150 sheep weighing close to 200 lbs. Not something I ever really thought I'd say. And, yes, it's both as awesome and difficult as it sounds.

The program I attended (got the certificate to prove it!) was sponsored by Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative, UW-Madison Agriculture Extension Service, and UW-Madison Arlington Sheep Research Unit. Ronald Cole, who is a Wool Education Consultant from the American Sheep Industry Association, Inc. was also there to talk about quality. But most of the weekend was focused on shearing. (Word yesterday was that some of us interested may get invited back for a 3 day seminar on wool quality next year.) The University of Wisconsin has a sheep unit on a sprawling farm complex just north of Madison.

I had expected the beginning of the program on Saturday to mirror other sheep and goat seminars I've attended and have classr…

Parenting as a resume builder

Last night Chicago Dads had our (now) annual trip to volunteer at Feed My Starving Children. I had such a great experience there last time around that I was more than happy to sign up again. Thanks to enthusiastic college students taking up the majority of the over 100 person group, our 1.5 hour shift actually set the record for the most boxes packed at one time. It ended up being 29,952 meals--of vitamins, vegetables, soy, and rice that are weighed and sealed inside plastic--which is enough to feed 81 children for an entire year. The meals we packed last night are headed to Haiti. And their journey puts life into perspective.

Once they arrive, they're loaded onto trucks that have to be covered with blankets to prevent anyone seeing the contents--food is money and theft is prevalent. In this particular area of Haiti, the meals are taken to be distributed by a school. It's sometimes the only food these children will see is what is cooked for them during the school day. Outside,…

Photo geekery

Some of you started immediately following me on Instagram when I signed up this week. Which is quite flattering given that I've posted zero photos to a photo-based platform. It's like you all are anticipating the greatness which will obviously be forthcoming! I hope I don't disappoint.

As you may know, I recently was asking around for advice about cameras. Plenty of you had opinions and I'm a fairly research-based guy so even if I didn't go your direction I appreciate the annoys The Mama how long it takes me to buy anything. The upside is that I tend to be fairly happy with my purchases. Well, I finally narrowed it down to maybe 2-3 models and the eventual winner was a Nikon d3300 which is on its way to my door as I write. It's a 24 megapixel, 5 frame-per-second, crop sensor DSLR that I snagged in a bundle including 2 lenses with Vibration Reduction, a bag, a card, a wireless transmitter. It beat out a Sony mirrorless and a Canon as my choice for reas…