Friday, January 09, 2009


Weather, Mexican Train and digital video

Huh? How do these three different things relate to me? Well, let me tell you. Our weather warmed up, a lot, and we got a lot of rainfall over the last week. Enough that along with the snow we had on the ground when all of this started, we had flooding around the whole western part of the state. One recording station down on the Pacific Coast has recorded over 20 inches of rain since the first of the year. That rainfall, plus the melting of two feet or so of snow, caused the ground to be super saturated to the point that it couldn't absorb more water. So, the small creeks and streams swelled way over their banks and we had flooding in places where it had never before flooded. Our main river (the Skagit) came close but the dams upriver were able to hold back the worst of it so that it barely reached flood stage, which put some water into some fields and over a few roads but there was not much damage in our immediate area. From it. But other areas and other rivers were not so lucky.

But the damage from smaller streams and super saturated hillsides sliding down has brought a lot of problems to many people. A twenty mile section of Interstate 5 about halfway between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, the main north/south highway on the west coast, was closed for over two days. All of the mountain passes through the Cascade Mountains were closed to both truck and rail traffic. They are now as of this afternoon finally open but the cost due to delays in moving freight was considerable. The forecast calls for more rain this weekend but at normal winter amounts, then a week or more of sunshine and dry weather. We need it.

On to Mexican Train. I wrote my last post a week ago, just before we played our weekly game of dominoes called Mexican Train. Everyone antes up a dollar. The challenge is to accumulate as few points as possible, playing from the 12 spot dominoes down to the blanks. A game takes two to two & a half hours. The winner gets all of the dollars except for one, which goes out as a booby prize to the person who gets the most points. Last week, I won one of those, Pat won the other. I won't say who was the big winner and who the big looser, but we did keep it in the family and the proceeds will finance our playing for three more weeks. One of which was last night, when neither of us won anything. Bummer.

Now digital video. I expect all of us have had some experience with video taping things. I've had a couple of camcorders, the most recent one a VHS-C unit we bought ten years ago just before a trip to Hawaii. I've always wanted to go to a digital camcorder but was never willing to spend the money on one. Well, I just did. I ordered one last night from and it should be here early next week. Boy, do I have a lot to learn as photography with these things is a LOT different from digital still photography. I've got six books on order (two are here) on digital photography and my editing software of choice, Adobe Premiere Elements 7, which I picked up today.

I did a lot of looking at various cameras and "talked" (mostly via email) with quite a few people. I wasn't going to put out the $3000 - $5000 for a professional camera system and I decided against even going for an HD system. I don't know how much I'll use it so will just start with a standard definition system that will do a good job with wide screen images. My other systems have been Panasonic brand and that is what I stayed with this time, a Panasonic SDR-H60 hybrid camera. It is hybrid in that it has a built in 60GB hard drive but it also takes SDHC memory cards that it will save your data to. Either the hard disk or the memory cards. The camera has a 50X zoom lens so it covers an extremely wide range of focal lengths and it has what is probably about the best vibration reduction system built in which is important to help keep those very long telephoto views stationary. Just the slight shaking in your hands as you hold the camera (if it isn't on a tripod) can make those long shots look odd as the camera moves around. If you are interested in it, Google that model and take a look.

Now I have a lot to learn about a different area of photography and to start thinking of "stories" I might want to make up videos on. I wonder, how I can get one of me flying my airplane?

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I've wondered about you during the flooding in your area. I saw the reports on the Weather Channel about Seattle and knew you were in that general area. Glad you're not in the worst of it.

I've never had a video camera of any type, unless you count the simple one that's built into my cheap digital still camera. I've always wanted one, but could never afford it.

Hope you enjoy your new video camera, and maybe you'll be posting videos on here soon.

Have a great weekend, Dick. :o)

Love and hugs,

Good to hear that the flooding wasn't as bad for you. The weather certainly has been ornery this winter, hasn't it? I'm trying to learn how to play Poker.
I would not call today's rain in Mt. Vernon NORMAL! It was flat coming down, and I SWEAR the Skagit rose a foot or two while we were in COSTCO We went down memorial highway both times just to see how high the water was. I have seen it higher under the bridge...
The digital camera sounds like fun. I've seen folks post short videos on their blogs, so am looking forward to seeing some!
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