Real Life

Ohio Marching Band competition

Yesterday Kristen and I decided to go to the Ohio Music in Education Association Marching Band finals held at one of the local High Schools. We were there for a couple of hours and got to see several bands perform and march. As it was the State finals, the standard was really good. I had never been to one of these shows before but Kristen had participated in them so we both enjoyed the experience from different perspectives. At the awards presentation each of the drum majors would do a salute when their score was announced and I’ve included a quick video of one of them – it made me think of the characters in Camberwick Green

A couple of the bands had costumes, the last band we saw did a Pirates of the Caribbean theme and the flag bearers were dressed as pirates. Another theme was on insects with the band playing Incy Wincy Spider (among other tunes) – each of their tubas were decorated with a spider motif which was pretty cool. We had a great afternoon out, the weather was fantastic, really warm and lots of people were out wearing tshirts – in November!
Spider Tubas

Information Improvisation

Since anyone can download ringtones now, there is a huge range available. There are ringtones of movie soundtracks as well as funny ringtones. Plus we have now free mp3 ringtones as well as wav files to choose from.

We’re back.

We had a great time in Canada visiting Niagara Falls and Waterloo where our friends lived. Had a very relaxing week but a long drive home. When we got home, we opened the tons of mail that had arrived during the week – tonight I get to pick up my new ipod from Key Bank for opening a new account. We also got a letter from our insurance company, Hartford, that said they had mislaid 3 backup tapes and that Kristen’s data was on the tape. They are providing the usual 1 year worth of credit monitoring for free (which nowadays seems like a cheap fallback option with no care being taken of the data) but the concerning thing is we were told a month after the tapes were lost and only her data is on the tapes. I’m not convinced this is accurate as surely my SSN is also on the data for the car insurance? We’ll be calling today to get the credit monitoring service set up, setting up a credit freeze and seeing about getting my data included too.

Having a great time in Canada.

Having a great time in Niagara Falls – whose tagline should be “Tackier than Blackpool*. The street that we walk down on the way to the falls is called Clifton Hill and is super super tacky. There are about 5 or 6 haunted house/horror house type attractions and we’ve counted at least 4 waxwork museums. Fortunately the Falls area is much nicer and there is some nice gardening going on to keep it looking good. Yesterday I went geocaching and walked about 6 or more miles – my feet now ache – and visited both the Canadian and the US side of the falls. Although I took my camera I forgot to bring my sd card reader with me so you will have to wait for a week until I can upload the photos. My first shot across the Horseshoe Falls should hopefully come out really well – as I took the picture a seagull flew straight into the frame – the thumbnail in the camera looks pretty good – hopefully the full size picture will be good too. Kristen and I also took some portrait pictures in the secret garden – again the thumbnails look good…..
Today we’re leaving Niagara and are heading out to Waterloo…now where did I put the Abba collection?

* but our water is cleaner – probably.

This past week was pretty eventful

This week has been pretty busy with several rather amusing happenings. Earlier this month was Kristen’s birthday so we decided to get new licence plates. I got blogg3r (as blogger was unavailable) but I wasn’t unable to remove the old plates from the car as the screws had rusted in tight. Whilst waiting for the new plates to arrive I was driving around with the temporary tag in the back window. I borrowed an extractor tool from one of the guys at work and tried to remove the plates from the car but no joy but by drilling the screw and some brute force I was able to get the old plates off. However, I had to get some proper fasteners to hold the new plates in. After one trip to the hardware store, the fasteners didn’t fit and so I planned to get some new ones the following day but and as I was driving home from work a cop pulled up right behind me. There were two sets of lights that he followed extremely close, I could see him talking on the radio in my mirror and then eventually the lights started flashing. I pulled over and he gave me a warning for not having the temporary tags displayed properly as it was lying flat on the parcel shelf rather than sticking up for everyone to see. That night the duct tape came out and the following night I drove to the hardware store to get some more fasteners and I eventually managed to get the plates put up whilst in the car park. This was the first time EVER I had got pulled over by a policeman.
Friday night we helped load up a moving van for friends from church and then this morning I headed off to the Ohio Linuxfest. There was a long break over lunch until the next talk (and the previous Ubuntu one had been disappointing and irrelevant) so I decided to skip the final talk and go take some photos in downtown Columbus.
I wandered around the streets taking various photos that I’ve uploaded to Zooomr for my 20070929 set including the shot below.

Apparently this is a really suspicious photo....

I continued taking various photos of the Columbus skyline and buildings (the rest of the photos in the set) and spent quite a bit of time taking various photos of the green paint “accident” and then took this photo.
What happened next?

Just after I had finished taking the photo, a siren blipped right behind me and a cop in his car called me over – this was the second time in a week! Allegedly someone had called the cops as I was looking suspicious taking photos of the buildings. He asked if I had been near a particular building, but the name wasn’t familiar to me and then said I had been taking pictures of a garage door (which I hadn’t – the only thing I can think of is the hydrant shot). He also asked if I was a photography student – (does this mean anyone who claims to be a photography student could not be a terrorist??) I said that I wasn’t but tried to explain Flickr to him. He then asked how long I had been in the country, where I lived, whether I had driven there and where I had parked my car – to that answer I waved vaguely in the general direction as I had no idea the name of the street I had parked on. He also asked for ID – it was a good job I had it on me!
I pushed him for more details on the alleged call but I got the “people are suspicious since 9/11” but I’m not convinced as when I asked where I should stay away from he said “I can’t really say”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they saw me on CCTV and then came to see what I was up to.
The good news is that at no time did he say I should not take photos of any of the buildings so I was almost tempted to retrace my steps and take photos again – but I wasn’t feeling *that* brave.
I continued to take some more photos which have been uploaded to Zooomr and then came home.
It really is a sad state of affairs when you can’t take pictures of picturesque buildings in a city without being accused (indirectly) of being a terrorist.

Balloons Off Broadway

I had a really good time yesterday at Grove City when Jonathan and I went to see Balloons Off Broadway. This is an annual event where hot air balloons are launched, tethered “rides” in a balloon are available, a band plays and then a night glow is performed. 

After a couple of quick geocaches, we settled in to watch the balloons being prepared. Eventually we decided to just start taking photos instead of just waiting from our spot so we had a good 30-40 minutes taking photos as the balloons were prepared and launched. After that we jumped in the car and caught up with the balloon chase vehicles and hoped to get some pictures of the balloons landing. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get close enough but it was great fun joining in the convoy of people following the balloons and getting some photos on the way. Fortunately I had got my 2 way radio with me so we set it to scan and listened to the conversations between the balloonists and the trucks which was very funny. It was a bit disconcerting when one of them said the battery on his radio was about out and he would have to resort to hand signals – I would have been a bit concerned if I was a guest in the balloon and heard the operator say that!  There were also some pretty funny comments about the landing sites chosen and apparently someone’s basement was really awesome.

We then headed back to the launch location for the glow – it wasn’t as spectacular as I hoped but still fun to watch. I managed to get a couple of fairly decent photos – it was the first time I’d even done night shots like this so there was a lot of experimenting. In the meantime, the band The British Invasion were playing and they were pretty good. They play covers of various British bands such as the Beatles and play all over Ohio – well worth seeing them if they play near you.

Pictures of the event are at my Balloons Off Broadway gallery and a few highlights at my Flickr gallery. Finally a video of a balloon being inflated (along with the hissing of the air) and a backing track of “I get by with a little help from my friends” which I thought was quite appropriate uploaded to YouTube (below)

Happy 4th July!

Dublin 4th of July Parade Happy 4th of July to all of the american’s visiting this blog! Today is the third July 4th we’ve celebrated in the States. Last year Kristen was in Texas at a wedding and this year both her brothers, their wives and kids are in town so it is a packed house at the in-laws. Kristen drove to get her brother from Dayton airport this morning so I went to the parade to take some photo’s. This is the second July 4th I’ve been to and the second parade this year (the first being the St Patricks Day parade. I was a bit disappointed with the parade as so many of the entrants were exactly the same as the St Patricks Day and it still makes me wonder why some of the groups are allowed in the parade – surely an empty old people’s home bus should not really be an entrant?
I took several photo’s but haven’t worked out where to put them yet – Zooomr smartset functionality is still down and I’m limited with the number and size of images at Flickr but I will get around to uploading some of them later.
It was nice and sunny this morning but now it is riaing and thundering – hopefully the weather improves as the Village People and KC and the sunshine band are scheduled to play at the concert tonight before the Dublin fireworks.