Friday, April 30, 2010

Post Office Failure

I checked the mail two days ago and found a letter that should have been delivered to another address.  That isn't incredibly unusual--sometimes you find something for a previous tenant or for someone down the street.  This wasn't the case this time.  I live on Highland Avenue...the address was for Highland Street (same building number) in a city in Connecticut!

I mapped the distance from the correct address (after checking to make sure that the address did indeed exist).!

But do you want to know the best part?  The letter wasn't mailed from nearby Kentucky, from Ohio, or even someplace out west like California.  It was mailed from Connecticut!  So the Post Office sent this letter (with the correct zip code and a valid address) 750 miles out of its way.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Towne Centre

Why the "e" on Town?

I'm here to visit the LEGO and Apple stores.


-- Posted from my iPhone
(c) 2010 iWolff Ltd.

Location:E Galbraith Rd,Cincinnati,United States

Twenty Ten

I was just looking at the description of myself in the sidebar of my blog when I had an idea.
A twenty *mumble* *mumble* something year old unrepentant biblioholic...
I'm not going to turn thirty in a couple years.  Instead I'll go from twenty-nine to twenty-ten.  This year is called twenty ten, so there is precedent for the title.  Additionally, Bilbo Baggins celebrated an eleventy first birthday, so I think I'd be in good company to use the word for a birthday celebration.

~Matt ;-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Roaming Birds

The Creation Museum petting zoo has many different animals, including peacocks.  Right now they roam around the property--but thankfully they don't cause as many problems as they used to.  One day when we had to park in the back lot I caught this shot while walking towards the building.



Yesterday the Creation Museum welcomed its one millionth guest through the doors.  I was at GSIC (the front desk) when it happened.  There were video cameras running, flashes going off, and quite a few people watching.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home, safely

I just returned a few minutes ago after a trip to Berea. My nephew Josh and two friends had come up for the weekend and needed to go back today. Earlier I recruited them to help move tables and chairs at the museum, so we went out to eat at La Rosa's before the drive. Knowing I'd be driving back on my own I asked Josh to drive south. He did well.


-- Posted from my iPhone
(c) 2010 iWolff Ltd.

Location:Highland Ave,Fort Mitchell,United States


I learned to type on a typewriter, and my typing used to be relatively free of errors.  You cannot correct errors on a typewriter as you can with a computer and word processing program.  As I have migrated to the computer, instant messaging, e-mail, multiple word processing programs, and other forms of input the number of typos I produce has increased.  I set Microsoft Word to auto-correct some of the most frequent, so often I don't even know I've made the mistake until I'm typing in a program that doesn't auto-correct.  Other times I've trained my fingers to quickly backspace and correct the error (as I just did when typing the word "correct").

One of the most frequent errors that I made is mistyping the word the.  I frequently (often multiple times in the same paragraph or even sentence) type it as "teh."  I'm not sure why my fingers have become trained in this pattern.  I wish that I knew an easy way to fix the problem.


Saturday, April 24, 2010


 The focus on this picture is rather interesting.  I like how the non-focused region nicely frames the trees in the center.


PS More swamp posts will be coming soon.  I've been quite busy at work.


I just upgraded my Google account with more storage.  I know this may surprise some of you, but I tend to save things.  I especially like to save e-mails, and I have frequently searched through old e-mails.  This is one reason I love Gmail and Google--search is so easy.  Well I've been getting close to the limit on my Gmail account for a while.  It has happened before, but Google used to increase the amount of free storage they offered at a faster rate.  I knew that eventually I would max out my account and I'd have to buy storage--additionally the more pictures I upload to my blog and Picasa the less room I have there.  Some time ago I looked into the cost of additional space and was surprised by its affordability.  Google is great anyway for how much they offer for free, but the paid plans aren't bad either.  I just added 20 GB of storage across all of my Google services for only $5.00 a year.  Since I've had my Gmail account since 2004 I think that this is a very affordable plan, especially since the free storage (my purchased storage is added to the free amount) continues to incrementally increase.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Swampy History

I had to buy some souvenirs while I was down in Georgia.  I searched through the visitor's center bookstore and found some interesting items (I had two birthdays to shop for also).  I was going to buy a T-shirt, but I could only find very environmental designs.  I found out later that there was another gift shop that I didn't know about.  One of the best things that I found was a volume entitled "History of Okefenokee Swamp."  I discovered a site where you can find the book in your local library.

The book was originally published in 1926.  After I started reading and discovered how fun it is I'm quite tempted to find an original copy on-line.  Several years ago I did go through a period of buying old books and they are very enjoyable.  However, the copy that I have was reprinted in the 90s by the Charlton County Historical Society.  The perspective is definitely different from what you'd encounter today.  At the time the book was written the swamp was privately owned and people were logging and had had tried to drain the area.  I'll retype the opening paragraphs below to just give you a taste of this book.  I haven't finished it yet--but I'm in no rush as I don't want the experience to end too quickly.

In southeastern Georgia, extending along the Florida border, there lies, until recently unheralded and unsung to the outside world, one of the wonder-spots of this great country.  The subject of this sketch is what is known on all the maps of the State of Georgia s the "Okefenokee Swamp."  This Swamp, if it can rightfully be described as a swamp, covers from 600 to 700 square miles of territory, is 60 miles long and varies in width from 18 to 30 miles, comprising a total area of from 500,000 to 700,000 acres, and lies principally in the counties of Charlton, Ware and Clinch.

This magnificent Swamp, one of the very largest, if not the largest, in the entire United States, is truly a nature-lover's paradise.  The scenic beauty and grandeur, with its changing vistas of island, dense bays overgrown with moss-covered trees, open prairies covered with lily-pads of incomparable beauty, lakes--from the miniature pools to the great ponds--infested with alligators, reptiles and fish, giant trees reaching far into the skies, and over all the flitting to and fro of the hundreds of water birds of every species, delights and thrills the heart of any one who has a spark of the artistic in his nature.

The artist can find in this Swamp scenes for masterpieces--from the beautiful to the sombre--for while there are scenes of unsurpassed beauty, there are others dark, dangerous and foreboding.  The ornithologist is thrown into an ecstasy of delight, for birds ranging from the majestic whooping crane to the lowly wren, inhabit this swamp, and, too, there are many rare species almost extinct in other sections of the country to be found here.  The ivory-bill woodpecker, thought to be wholly extinct, is still to be seen in the heart of this great swamp, and many species of heron, egret, and other plumed birds can be found in numbers.  To the hunter of game--those who hunt for the primitive passion of killing--and th those who like to observe and study the wild in its native haunts, it is an enchanting spot, for all the animals native to this section can be found, from the scurrying water-rat to the vicious panther, the amiable bear and the harmless, beautiful deer.  The trapper for the fur-bearing animal finds it a most lucrative place to ply his trade, for in the Swamp can be caught otter, raccoon, o'possum, bob-cat, mink, etc., and the lakes and prairies are infested by the alligator.
If you are interested in the history of the Okefenokee, and if you like period pieces (this reminds me of historical travelogue videos I've downloaded) then check out this fascinating book.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chipotle Wisdom

I don't like guacamole, but I can enjoy the line.


-- Posted from my iPhone
(c) 2010 iWolff Ltd.

Location:Sanctuary Pl Dr,Hebron,United States

Day the Second, Part the Third in the Okefenokee Adventure

I have to find some fun in these titles.  Telling the story of the trip through the swamp is fun, but the titles were getting boring.

This tree has some growing to do, but I think it is quite interesting as it is right now.  The branches stick out at such odd angles it makes for an intriguing photograph.

This was an anhinga (I had to search for the bird to make sure I had the name correct).  Rob and I saw it fly across a lake, so we stopped paddling and let the canoe drift closer to the bird so that I could take more pictures.

This picture really shows the bird's long neck as it stretches it out.

It is times like this I wish I could zoom in just a bit closer, ;-).  But I really can't complain as a 12x zoom is normally sufficient. Only infrequently do I find myself wishing for a telephoto lens.  I think that I took at least 8-10 pictures of this bird before we finally continued paddling.

No, this wasn't the shelter for the night, just a day use shelter.

Here is the shelter in question.  We didn't stop to explore this shelter, partly because there was no outhouse.  I'm pretty sure that it was the Dinner Pond shelter that was burned out (yet still marked on maps that were handed out) whereas this was the Big Water Shelter.  By this point we were within the area where motorboats were permitted for day use, so I can see how a shelter like this would be nice for day use people.  Check out my Okefenokee geography post to see the location of these shelters on the map.

I'm not sure why the warning is necessary, I certainly wouldn't want to stay on a platform in the middle of the swamp without restroom facilities...

As I mentioned above we were within the area where motorboats were allowed.  I don't really begrudge them their use of the swamp, but in someways it was annoying to have them putter by.  The polite boaters slowed down until they were well past us while the rude ones just kept going, regardless of the wake that they generated.  It was fun to hit the wake like an ocean wave--but that is beside the point.

We started to see "Home" signs during this day.  I suspect that they were placed for the benefit of motorboat users and day trip canoe paddlers so that they wouldn't accidentally head deeper into the swamp.

Though we had certainly been enjoying the day this sign was a welcome sign.  We knew that our shelter for the night was Big Water Shelter, so we knew it couldn't be too far away once we'd reached Big Water Lake.

This sign marked the turnoff to our platform, but rather poorly we all thought.  I'm not sure if there is text on the portion of the sign which is underwater...  It doesn't clearly say that the Big Water Shelter is to the left.  I had seen on the map earlier that the shelter was partway along the trail to Floyd's Island, so I assumed this was our turnoff without seeing an actual sign.

This was the sign you saw when you faced the sign in the last picture and faced left.  We turned off the lake and into a narrower path between the trees that I wish I had photographed.  I think that you'll see some pictures when I post photographs from the next morning.

We reached the shelter to find that Buddy and Kay and Josh had been there for nearly and hour and a half.  the others came in a ways behind us--but I'm not sure exactly how long.  We hadn't pushed hard at all, and Buddy and Kay hadn't exerted themselves, they just hadn't felt the need to rest and had kept going most of the day.  It was nice to spend some of the afternoon on the platform.  I got to photograph several small creatures.

I especially like the contrast of the dark burned bark and the bright green of the needles.  There were several burned trees surrounding the platform.  I believe that it had burned during the big 2007 fire and had to be reconstructed, much like the Maul Hammock platform where we stayed our first night in the swamp.  Unlike Maul Hammock this platform was closely surrounded by trees.  It was beautiful and did help block the late afternoon sun, but made for narrow views of the clear night sky.

This is the first of several Anole that I was able to photograph.  I think there were at least a half-dozen of them surrounding the platform that afternoon.

After photographing the anole, Josh called me over when he spotted this bug.  His camera had stopped working very early in the trip, so he was anxious for others to take good pictures.  I'm in the middle of a project of combining everyone's pictures together and burning them to DVD.

Another anole.  I have pictures of this guy with his head pointed up and then this one of him looking towards the right.  Cycling back and forth between the two pictures is amusing.

Anole the third.  I like the layout of this picture with the green grasses in the unclear background and the yellow flowers.

Unfortunately this was the only frog that I saw on the trip.  We did hear many different frogs, though I forget the names of some of them I can't forget the pig frog.  Their call was easy to audibly identify once Perry had pointed them out.

I don't know why I took this picture, but it feels like I'm looking out of a window (the out of focus foreground tree) into the swamp.  I don't know if I intended this, but I enjoy the result.

This is my favourite anole picture.

I don't know why, but I didn't get very many pictures of this evening.  We did plenty, cooking dinner, playing cards, talking.  I just forgot to photographically document the evening.  It isn't until you forget to do something that you realize that you've forgotten it.  Of course since I didn't bring a spare memory card and I ended up filling up what I had with pictures and videos it isn't as though I had space to spare in retrospect...  I'm sure once I look through the other's pictures I'll find more of this evening so that I won't have to simply rely on memories to recall what happened.

I think Mark simply posed with a goofy expression once he saw me about to take a picture.  Once he had done that I asked Denise and Josh if they would pose, resulting in the next shot.

I think for Mark the progression of his "swamp head" qualifies as a goofy expression, ;-).

Sadly this was the last picture of the evening.  My next post will start out with the next morning, the day we knew would be our last day in the swamp...


Okefenokee Geography

I just realized that I haven't talked about the location of Okefenokee very much amidst all of the pictures.  Therefore I went looking for maps of the area and found a couple of good ones on Wikipedia.  First is the location guide at left so you can see exactly where the swamp is located.  I've known about it for years (if nothing else a geography program we used to have on the computer taught me the location), but many people said "Okefenokee where?" or "Okefenokee what?" when I told them where I was going for several days.  The swamp is located in southern Georgia, extending somewhat south of the state line into Florida.

Notice the two rivers--St. Marys and Suwanee that flow from the swamp.  Apparently there was much talk in the past of making a canal between the rivers to ease transportation between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic without going around Florida.  I can tell you that the current going towards the Suwanee River is great when you get to the western side of the swamp.  Speaking of the western side of the swamp the next map concerns the canoe routes through the swamp.  The route that I've been showing y'all is the red trail which you can trace on the map starting from Kingfisher Landing.  I wish that I could have geotagged my pictures with the location--but when I upload some of them into Picasa Web Albums I'll do my best to tag some (like those in Maul Hammock) with their locations.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Okefenokee Day Two, Part 2

I like technology (just look at how many posts I've made to this blog from my iPhone), but it was nice to be out in the middle of nowhere for several days.  The first night we did see the lights of a few planes and I saw a couple contrails like the one above, but by and large we were removed from reminders of modern society apart from the people around us.

This second day featured many more trees than the first day, with welcome shade to be found next to many.  The day was also partly overcast, which was a welcome relief.  A couple times we got to go between trees like the ones pictured above.

No, this wasn't the platform we were to sleep on the second night.  I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I assume it was some sort of testing apparatus.

As I said before the miles went by quite quickly on this second day.  I tried to take pictures of all the signs we saw, but not all of them turned out.

This day the canoes didn't stay as close together as we did the first day.  There were some that went ahead and others that lagged behind on day one, but it was much more pronounced on day two.  Buddy and Kay took the lead early on and never let up.  I don't recall seeing them after the morning until we got to the platform that afternoon.

I don't recall the name of this plant--not the lily pads, the green and yellow thing sticking up between them.  This is its natural look, like an unopened flower, if I remember what Perry said.

This was fascinating to see the trees and swampy conditions intermingled.  When I think of trees and forests I think of out West, like the Colorado mountains, so this was a completely new experience.

When we were ready for lunch we found a mostly shady spot (for those in the front of the canoes anyway) and tied up to some overhanging branches.  The canoes did drift back and forth, but they were fairly steady and allowed us to enjoy some relaxation.

Deb rested for a few minutes and I caught this dragonfly perching on her arm.  She was remaining fairly still and I think that he stayed there for several minutes.

After lunch we entered some really narrow areas.  There was a current flowing which wasn't as fast as a river, but it was nice regardless.  At times like this there wasn't room or need to really paddle, so we mainly steered to stay with the current.  I found it somewhat hard to gauge speed and distance and sometimes we gently bumped to boat ahead of us.

You can really see the moss hanging off the trees in this picture.  I don't recall seeing any of that the first day.  Later I found out that formerly the cypress trees in the swamp had been hundreds of years old, but most if not all of those were logged in the twenties and thirties.  The current trees are mainly 70-80 years old, or younger--yet some of them are still impressive.  I can only imagine what the swamp used to look like.

If you didn't look closely this scummy area almost looked solid.  I'm not sure what it was, but we saw several patches of it.

Beware the highly venomous ribbon snake!  Everything I've read says that the pink ones are very dangerous--they like to wrap around branches and then drop on unsuspecting passersby.  In the middle of the swamp you are simply too far from medical help.  Even more dangerous than the pink ribbon snakes is the albino ribbon snake.  There is simply no treatment for their bite, even if you are next door to a hospital.  I only saw one albino in the swamp.  I did see several of the harmless yellow ribbon snakes--they were quite friendly.

I don't know what happened to my camera, but for some reason after I took this picture it stopped recording photos for a while.  I didn't realize it until I went to take the picture below and noticed that the camera wasn't recording the shot.  I turned the camera off, popped out my memory card, and all was fixed.  Unfortunately all of the pictures after this one until I noticed the problem had never been recorded... :(  Perhaps fortunately I don't remember what they were so I don't remember what I'm missing.

I don't know when this shelter/building collapsed, but it appears to have been degrading for some time.  I think this shelter was still marked on the map--or another one was earlier (when my camera wasn't working). Thankfully the next day rest shelter on the map was there--I was getting quite upset with the people that would give us incorrect maps!

Reflections can make for amazing pictures.  By this point in the day I think we'd separated from others in the group, so I was able to get good shots like this without having to worry about another canoe being in the shot.

If I didn't have one of my alligator shots as my desktop background I think I would use this picture.

I saw many interesting cypress trees.  Some had huge knobby "knees" that rose above the water.  They weren't quite as remarkable as pictures I've seen of mangrove swamps, but they were cool.  Others had formed tiny islands by virtue of collecting soil and debris in their roots.

This branch looked cool as it formed a square with its reflection.

I was fascinated by this tableau.  A burned tree (with no other charred wood in sight) was propped against an unburnt tree.  I think it would be interesting to find out how this happened--obviously the burned tree fell against the other and caught against a branch--but why is the other tree not burned?  Below is a closeup of the intersection.

Thus ends part two of day two.  The next post will cover the remainder of the day (including some wildlife larger than dragonflies).  I'll be sad to see this series of blog posts end--much as I was sad to see the actual trip come to a conclusion.