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The great folks over at LowePro have granted my wish and sent me two bags to compare for my next review.  I am really excited about this review because they are not only two totally different bags, but the are not backpacks.  I have always tried out the backpacks until now, and this will give me a chance to expand my horizons and share another option with you.  Here’s what they sent me;

LowePro Classified 160AW – This bag is a shoulder bag that will handle a DSLR with a 70-200mm lens, 1-2 extra lenses and a flash.

LowePro Outback 300AW – This bag is dubbed a ‘beltpack’.  It will hold the same camera and lens as the Classified, but also has room for 3-4 lenses and a flash.

I am off to try them both out and will have a report for you in a few weeks!  See ya soon!

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The first pepper to start growing in the garden!

Over the past few weeks, I have posted information about my garden.  I decided that instead of posting heights and counts, I would write about what I have learned about gardening in my first attempt.

I was a little nervous starting this venture, as I had never so much as grown a single food-producing plant in my life.  Sure, I’ve kept the Christmas cactus and a few other household plants alive, but they were bought at a store and all the hard work was already done.  All I had to do was water them.  No big deal, right?  Here’s what I learned…

-Zucchini plants take over a garden.  We got this tiny plant from Hewitts and it couldn’t have been more than 6 inches long with one leaf.  Now, it is a massive, 3 foot round, 3 foot tall monster covering a strawberry plant and a banana pepper plant.  Next time, I will give it a very large area to grow in and make sure none of the smaller plants get shaded out.

-Tomato plants get HUGE!  I gave them about a foot and a half in between, but they still have grown so big that I can barely walk between them.  They are also almost up to my chest in height.  Next year, I will plant them about three feet apart so I can walk between them to pick the tomatoes when they are ripe.

-I also need to put some type of weed control down.  Not a chemical, but maybe weed cloth.  I have kept up with the weeds for the most part, but some have grown a little more than I would like.

-I need to work on a compost pile.  I was told that the pile will help to enrich the soil and make it much more fertile.

-Putting something down (grass clippings, leaves) around the base of the plants will help keep the moisture in the ground for the plants.

The first zucchini from the garden

So far, the garden has been a success.  I have harvested two large zucchini, a grape tomato and a cherry tomato.  There are two small sweet peppers starting to grow as well.  A lot of the other tomatoes have started to grow, but aren’t quite ripe yet.  One thing is for sure – I am going to have tomatoes out the wazoo pretty soon!  Guess I better learn a little bit about canning!

Here is the text of the first post I have made on the Times Union Biker Blog.  This entry can be found here.  Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Rose Winters

Over the last few months, I have been talking with Mike Huber about blogging for the Times Union. I first met him in March at the Media 2010: How Blogs Shape The New Conversation conference at St. Rose. I have since been to a few other Times Union sponsored events we would always end up talking about creating a biker blog.

I wanted to write this blog for two main reasons. 1) To help raise awareness of motorcycles on the roads. 2) To share my love for the open road with other bikers. I have recently had a few friends involved in serious motorcycle accidents, one unavoidable and one because of someone’s carelessness behind the wheel.

I would also like to shed a little light on the stereotype that bikers are “bad people.” Sure, there are bad apples here and there, but for the most part, bikers are the most kind, charitable people you will ever meet.

Some of the regular readers may already know me from my interactions on many of the current Times Union blogs. For those that may not know me, I am (obviously) an avid motorcycle rider. I have been riding for ten years and really enjoy being out “in the wind” on the bike any chance I can get.

I am also a photographer. My love for photography is just as strong as my passion for motorcycles. That’s why I created the Capital Region Photography Meetup Group. The initials of this group (TCRPMG) make up the username I have been using on the blogs and on Twitter.

Now that you know a little about me, let’s find out a little about you. What do you know about motorcycles? Do you ride them? Do you have family that rides?

Hi all!  I wanted to share some very exciting news with you.  I have been asked to write a blog for the local newspaper.  The Times Union has recruited me to write a Biker blog and share the biker lifestyle with you.

Please head over and check it out at the Times Union site and tell me what you think.   Let me first preface your trip with this:  The banner has the default text in it and I don’t have the controls to change it from my end.  So, I will be working to get that changed ASAP.

Thanks for stopping by!

Last night, a few members of the TCRPMG went to Washington Park to apply what they had learned in the Camera Basics 101 course led by John Iannelli.  I think it was a huge success.  While we were there, I couldn’t help but grab this shot of the statue in the fountain and the amazing sky he was facing.

From where I was standing, it looked like he was yelling to the heavens, perhaps asking for rain.  The texture of the sky made it even more appealing.  I was really happy that I had been there at that exact time.

At the meetup, we discussed how light affects how your image comes out.  We also discussed shutter speed and aperture.  The main components when used together can make some really amazing shots.

We found a nice flower and took pictures of it, with the goal of having a sharply focused main subject with a blurred background (bokeh effect).  It was a great exercise and I think the members really enjoyed learning how this effect was accomplished.

Yard Sale Find

Rose and I went out to a yard sale today and I found a book that I thought was kind of funny.  It is called “How to Speak Southern” and is a dictionary of Southern speak.

The book is old and yellowing, but still in fairly decent shape.  I checked the inside and realized it was from 1976.  Wow, this thing is almost as old as I am.  It was written by Steve Mitchell and the Cartoons were done by Sam C. Rawls (“Scrawls”).  It was published by Bantam Books.

In the book, the first definition is “Ah: The things you see with, and the personal pronoun denoting individuality. “Ah think Ah’ve got somethin’ in my ah.”

There are many definitions, and most are quite comical.  Growing up in the South my first 18 years, I have heard a lot of these in person.  I can’t tell you if that is a good or bad thing.

One of my personal favorites is “fixin'”.  Like, I am fixin’ to go to the store.  That one always gets me when I am in the South.  Except most people that say it, say “fittin” to go to the store, which makes it even more odd.

So, my question to you is this;

What Northern Speak can you share with me?  What are some words that are definitely from the North?

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Picture of the Day – 7/11

The difference Topaz can make in a photo

Yesterday began just as any other day usually does.  I got up, checked my email, my guest blog on Kristi Gustafson’s Times UnionOn The Edge‘ Blog  and then went out to check the garden and turn on the pool pump.  It was already getting hot, so I decided to mow the lawn.  I knew that we had plans later that night, so I wouldn’t be able to do it after it cooled down.  Today wasn’t looking more promising either.

So, I hop on the mower and cut the grass.  We have an acre, so it takes about an hour to cut it.  After I was done with the riding mower, I grabbed the push mower and did the areas I couldn’t get to with the rider.  When I was done with that, I was pretty hot and was sweating like crazy.  I came in the house and changed into my bathing suit, then headed out to the pool.

I dove off the diving board, and instantly felt much cooler.  As I swam to the shallow end of the pool, something caught my eye.  I looked again and saw a small animal in the skimmer.  At first I thought it was a chipmunk.  I got out of the pool and ripped the cover off the skimmer.  Then, I realized what it was.  It was a little baby bunny.  He was fighting for all he had against the suction of the skimmer.

I ran over to the pump and switched off the power so the suction would stop.  I didn’t know what he would do, so I didn’t just reach in and grab him.  I grabbed the wide mouth net and when he tried to hop up, I grabbed him in the net.  What happened next surprised me quite a bit.

Fresh out of the skimmer

I set the net down on the concrete in the shade, laid out so he could just hop out and be on his way.  He was obviously a little traumatized and out of it, so he stayed put.  I let him sit there for a few minutes while I ran inside and got Rose and some paper towels.  I picked him up and wrapped him in some paper towels.  He didn’t seem phased at all.  He just laid there.  Every now and then, I would check his sides to see if they were moving and he was still breathing.

We used what we had to give him water

As we sat there with him for an hour or two, he dried out and was still very mellow.  Rose would hold him in the paper towel, and if she moved it, he would re-position himself, so we knew he was getting a little better.  We kept him on the paper towel because he has some seriously sharp nails.  He started climbing up my chest at one point and it was a little painful.

After a few calls from friends in the veterinarian field and tons of people on Twitter giving us feedback, we put the bunny on the ground to see if he would hop away.  Eventually he did, but he started going towards the road.  I had to chase him down and catch him, which wasn’t an easy task, but refreshing, as he was moving quickly.

When I grabbed him, he made this crazy squealing noise that we hadn’t heard before.  I guess he was feeling better and that is a noise they make when they are scared.  I picked him up and took him to the other side of the yard where I released him into an overgrown area where we see lots of bunnies.  I hope he has a great life and stays away from the pool.

All dried out