Cerebral Gibberish

What's on my mind, might just blow yours.

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Phew! Strawberry Picking

Posted by heymoe on 2nd May 2009

Just got back from strawberry picking at farm up the street from my house. The owners of the farm are really nice and they have been running the strawberry patch for at least 5 years now. I must have been out in the patch for almost 2 hours picking. I ended up with about 20 pounds of fresh strawberries that I’m going to make into a strawberry wine.

My Blueberry + Mango wine is in the aging stage now but won’t be ready for consumption for at least another 4 months. I figured I better get another wine queued up since the aging process takes so long.

My Blueberry Hefeweizen (wheat) beer is almost done. I got it in the keg a little over a week ago and under co2 pressure to get it up to the proper carbonation level. It should be ready in another week or two.

My Keezer / Kegerator build is stalled while I wait for the drip tray to arrive. Once I get the drip tray in hand I can finish laying out / designing the table top. Right now I leaning toward having the table top done in tile, which I’ve never done before but this is as good of a time as any to learn. I finished the base last weekend, I just need to sand and stain it along with the table top when it’s done. I’m looking forward to having 3 taps in house with my home brew ready to be served.

Posted in Home, Homebrewing, Projects | No Comments »

First New Year Photos: 2009

Posted by heymoe on 4th January 2009

It has been awhile since I’ve posted some new photos and that’s not because I haven’t taken any. I’ve just been too lazy to post process them and get them uploaded but they will come sooner or later.

Any ways, to start out the new year I decided to by myself a New Year gift. I’ve been using a Nikkor 17-55mm for almost a year now and it’s a wonderful lens but I found myself wishing it was a little wider. I thought about getting the Nikkor 14-24mm thinking that I would start collecting some full frame glass but in the end I decided to hold off since I would only gain 3mm on the wide end and it costs around $1500. I also looked at the Sigma 10-20mm and in general it sounded like most owner liked it but seemed to have some sharpness issues especially around the edges. After looking at a few others I happened upon the Tokina 11-16mm. Released in mid-2008, this lens has collected a lot of glowing reviews in the short amount of time. It has a constant f/2.8 aperture, very good sharpness numbers, good build quality and very well priced at around $570. Another good sign that I ran into was that this lens was out-of-stock at most of the reputable on-line dealers so I thought I was out-of-luck for the time being.. or was I. I stopped by Peace Camera to see if they had a filter I was looking for so while I was there I checked to see if they also had the lens in stock and they did. Well, my need for some instant gratification kicked in so I bought it even though it cost a little more then buying it on-line.

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So last Saturday I joined the Triangle East Photography group and went to their State Capitol Tour. I arrived downtown a little early so I took a quick detour to the N.C. State bell tower to test out the new lens. Now I’ve used my Nikkor 17-55mm to take pictures of the bell tower before and it worked fine since I had space to back up to get it in the frame but the new Tokina 11-16mm pretty much allowed me to get right up next to the bell tower and still fit the whole thing in the frame. This allowed for some really neat perspective shots.

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Well after about 20 mins at the bell tower it was time to head back downtown to meet up with the group next to the capitol building. We spent some time outside to mingle some and to take some shots of the building before we headed inside for the tour. This is the first time I’ve actually been right up next to the capitol building and it was neat to see the architecture up close. I also didn’t realize that there is a church at each corner of the capital building so I thought that was interesting.

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Heading into the capitol building our tour started on the 1st floor in the rotunda where a statue of George Washington sits in the middle. The tour guide explained how the capitol building came to be and a fascinating story behind the statue. From there we headed up to the 2nd floor and got to view the inside of the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. Outside the chambers was the 2nd floor rotunda. We then moved up to the 3rd floor where you can view down into the two chambers on the 2nd floor from the balcony. The 3rd floor also housed the Library and the Geologist’s Office.

After the tour of the capitol, the group took a short walk down Fayetteville Street to take some photos. I got a few shots of the Wachovia …. er.. I mean.. Wellsfargo tower and the RBC tower and other random stuff.

All in all it was a fun first photo outing of the New Year with hopefully more to come.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Home, Photography, Travel | No Comments »

It’s a Boy!

Posted by heymoe on 10th November 2008

The McAleer Family

Awwww, Isn’t he cute!

Congratulations go out to Justin and Kelly McAleer on the arrival of Liam David McAleer who was born on Friday November 7th at 8:23pm Eastern or as Justin put it: when Liam’s reign of terror began. Justin shouldn’t have any problem remembering this birthday since Liam and Kelly now share it. Funny how that worked out or was it just part of Justin’s master plan 🙂 hehe..

It looks like Justin is actually going to have to start making use of their website. I’m sure there are a lot of family and friends wanting to see how Liam’s reign of terror over Justin and Kelly is going.

Any ways, rest up Justin and Kelly, you’re both going to need it.

Posted in Events, Home | No Comments »

2008 N.C. State Fair

Posted by heymoe on 27th October 2008

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This past Saturday I made a trip to the 2008 N.C. State Fair to take in the sights and sounds (more sights really). Saturday started out kind of soggy but by the afternoon things were dry and by time I got to the fair ground around 8pm it was jeans and long-sleeves weather.

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Normally I avoid the fair grounds and surrounding area like the plague due to traffic but driving into the heart of the beast last Saturday wasn’t all that bad. I pulled into the first parking lot I came across which as I expected was a pay-lot charging $10 to park. I felt the price was a little steep but didn’t really want to drive around to see if I could find something cheaper which I’m sure is what the people who own the lots are betting most people will do. Looking at the number of cars they packed into the lot (really just a really large field), they made a killing. I later found out that if I drove a little further down the street I could have parked for free at the RBC Center. Oh well.

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I guess one perk of where I parked was it was a short walk to one of the main gates to get into the fair. Luckily I was able to buy my ticket using a credit card since I didn’t make a stop by an ATM on the way there which left me enough cash to buy some snacks and drinks. I really didn’t want to use one of the fair provided ATMs since I would most likely get bent over with fees.

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I brought along my camera and tripod to take some photos, especially to play around with some long exposures to capture the sense of speed and motion. The first ride I took some photos of was called the “Dream Catcher” which basically was a side-to-side swing that had a seating area at the end that spun around at the same time. Next up was the spinning swing ride where I experimented with using a long exposure + a rear curtain flash so I could not only get the blur effect of motion but to also stop the motion right at the end. I used this same process on the free-fall ride which I think turned out really well.

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On my way to the next ride to take photos of the fireworks show started so I quickly setup and started to shot away using different exposure times and settings and I must say I’m very happy with the results I ended up with and it made up for my failed attempt at fireworks photography last 4th of July. So after the fireworks stopped I moved to the next ride which I must say was the best ride to take long exposure photos of. With the ride’s multi-colored lights going on and off seemingly at random at normal speed resulted in photos with color, shapes and patterns that were amazing (at least to me they were). Each time I clicked the shutter I couldn’t wait to see what I ended up with.

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After taking some picture of some other rides I more or less packed up my gear and did more fair type activities like eat food. I started with an Italian Sausage dog all the way and water and for desert I had my first deep-fried candy bar (Snickers) which as good as it tasted I’m pretty sure it took a few years off of my life (hehe).

Before I knew it mid-night rolled around and the fair started to close. It really didn’t feel like I was there for 4 hours so I guess as they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Entertainment, Events, Home, Photography | No Comments »

I Voted!

Posted by heymoe on 27th October 2008

I Voted

Well over the weekend I received a letter from the Board of Elections which I was assuming was my voter card but as it turned out it was them telling me that I did not complete the application and directions on what I needed to do so I could still vote in this election.

The Board of Elections was kind enough to highlight the one YES or NO question that I did not answer and placed a sticker on the application that stated that if I answered NO to any of the YES or NO questions that I would not be able to vote.

Now I most likely wouldn’t have spent the time to write about this except the question that I left blank couldn’t be answered with a YES or NO. If I answered NO then I can’t vote in the election and if I answered YES, I would be agreeing to something on an official government document that does not apply to me.

So what was the question? The questions was: “If I have been convicted of a felony, my rights of citizenship have been restored.” . Well, I’ve never been convicted of a felony so answering YES isn’t the right answer and answering NO would mean I can’t vote, so I left it blank.

In any case, one of the other pieces of paper I received said I could go to one of the early voting locations to resolve my “issue” quickly instead of relying on the US Postal System which may delay the processing of my application until after Election Day.

So today I headed down to one of the early voting locations where I had to fill out another application, which didn’t have the YES and NO question I left blank on my previous application, then got in line to vote. Pretty much a painless process from start to finish.

Posted in Home | No Comments »

Vacation Time

Posted by heymoe on 21st September 2008

Vacation Time

I’ve worked for that same company for almost 10 years and over the years I’ve accumulated a lot of vacation time that has rolled over each year. So earlier this year the company implemented a new rollover policy which will allow an employee to rollover 30 days of vacation time into 2009 and then 2 weeks each year after. Well by the end of the year I will have accumulated 72 days of vacation so that means I need to use 42 of those days before the end of the year. Yeah, I know.. Poor me.. I’m sure a lot of people would like to has this problem.

Any ways, I really hate to have to be out of the office for over half of the work days left in the year but the company is currently leaving me no other option. They are basically telling me I can use them or loose. I’m not saying I’m without fault on this either. I knew I could only carry over 30 days into next year but never got around to taking any time. Oh well. Now I need to figure out what I’m going to do with all this free time for the rest of the year. Yeah, Yeah, poor me again.. hehe

Posted in Home, Random, Work | 1 Comment »

Me in Manga

Posted by heymoe on 15th September 2008

So if I was a Japanese Manga character, this is what I think I would look like. Click HERE if you want to make your own Manga portrait.

Me in Manga
Don’t I look cute? 🙂 hehe

Posted in Gibberish, Home, Random | No Comments »

EEK! Spiders!

Posted by heymoe on 14th September 2008

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The little lady on the left (Neoscona Crucifera aka. Hentz’s Orbweaver Spider) has been camping out on my back deck for the last few weeks. I actually ran into another one of these while doing some yard work today. She was very cooperative allowing me to setup two strobes and my camera on tripod with its lens a couple of inches from her. I ran into the little lady on the right (Argiope Aurantia (Black-and-Yellow Argiope) aka. Garden / Writing Spider) while visiting Pullen Park again last Saturday.

Posted in Home, Photography | No Comments »

Skydiving: I’m Alive!

Posted by heymoe on 14th July 2008

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Almost 3 months after our first attempt, Casey and I successfully jumped from a perfectly good airplane and landed safely.

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This time around the weather was great other then it being hot (in the 90s). We also had a larger cheering section in the form of Casey and Lindsay’s parents, Casey’s sister, aunt and uncle. My attempts to talk our other friends, who shall be unnamed (you know who you are 🙂 hehe), to come out and watch failed.

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Our jump was scheduled for 12pm (noon) but we did not actually get into the air until about 1:10pm. As a refresher, both Casey and I went through the level 1 tandem jump class again and about 10 minutes later we were called into the prep room to get geared up. 20 minutes after that it was time to board the plane, a CASA 212 Aviocar.

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Casey and I along with our tandem jump masters (Dave was mine, I’m not sure who Casey’s was) were the first to board the plane since we are going to be the last to leave the plane. The plane was packed with other jumper and everyone was in good spirits and excited. At around 6000 feet, our jump masters started to double check our harnesses and connecting us to their harness / parachute. Casey actually had to get up and sit in his jump master’s lap due to the tight quarters. As we climbed in altitude, the temperature was going down and made me wish it felt that good on the ground.

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Once we were at altitude and over the drop zone the pilot turned on the green light and the other jumpers started to exit the plane. When it was our turn we made our way to the rear of the plane which was awkward due to Dave being shorter then me. I kept reaching out with my right hand to help keep my balance but Dave kept making me put my arm down for some reason. I was able to hold onto the static line cable with my left hand which I guess was OK. Casey, his jump master and his videographer were the first to leave the plane and then Dave and I moved into position. Once in position I once again reached up for a handle on the ceiling to balance myself but had my hand swatted again but I think I know why that time. Looking down at the ground below seemed unrear and before I knew it my arms were crossed and my head was back as we exited the plane doing a back-flip, or at least I think it was a back flip.

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During the free-fall I don’t really remember to much visually, most likely due to the adrenaline rush and concentrating what we were told to do in class. The lack of any visual reference that we are used to on the ground (IE: driving by stationary objects in a car) seemed to cancel out the fact that we were falling at 120MPH. The only real sign of speed was the sound of the wind going by which was quite loud. I remember making sure I had my body arched and arms crossed as instructed until Dave tapped me on my shoulder letting me know it was time to un-cross my arms and hold them in front of me. We performed some left and right turns but I don’t know how many degrees we turned. After that I got tapped on the shoulders again letting me know it was time to re-cross my arms and prepare for the parachute deployment.

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Once the parachute deployed everything went silent and things started to slow down to a more relaxed pace. Dave did the post deployment checks and loosened up the straps on my harness some to try and make things a little more comfortable. He then handed me the parachute controls and we did a practice landing flare and then did some left and right turns. We also did a double turn to demonstrate how the turns get faster the longer you hold it. Dave pointed out where the landing site was and we even saw Casey in the distance below us and the jump plane coming in for a landing. At this point my arms started to get numb so Dave said to put my arms down. I think there was a strap or two still too tight and and was cutting off circulation, oh well.. it happens. Any ways, as we got closer to the ground I could see the cheering squad waving and taking pictures. Our butt first landing was uneventful and it was nice get disconnected and having the blood flowing again.

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After that Casey and I posed for some pictures with our jump masters and then walked back to the cheering squad and posed for even more pictures. We got out of our jump gear and got our logbooks filled out and signed as well as our first jump certificate. We all then headed out to grab some late lunch.

Now the question is should I go for the certification or is one jump enough for me? The experience was great but I kind of wish I remember I remember more of the free fall portion and for that I think more jumps will be required. In theory I could do the level 2 jump and not have to worry about maintaining currency from a training point of view. After level 2 you’ll have to schedule you jumps so that you don’t exceed 30 days or more between. If you do you’ll end of spending more money in the long term since you will most likely have to repeat previous levels before you’re allowed to move on to the next. Hopefully Casey will be interest in getting certified so we and do it together, if not I’ll most likely do it any ways. I highly recommend everyone jump at least once.

Note: Casey is under the white, yellow and blue parachute and I’m under the black and blue one. I also want to thank Casey’s uncle Dayle for taking the pictures of Casey and I making our way back down to Terra Firma.

: ::Update:: :
Lindsay has posted some pictures of Casey’s jump and posted an entry on their blog.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Cerebral, Events, Home, Transportation, Travel | No Comments »

Wine, Skydiving and Barbers: Oh My!

Posted by heymoe on 20th April 2008

Phew! The weekend is over.. Finally.. Saturday was the annual Uncork the Fun wine festival in Cary and since I forgot to buy tickets advance, I got up early so I could get there when the gates open to beat the lines. Getting their early also had the benefit of not having to deal with the lines at each of the wineries’ tents which allowed me to take my time while sampling their selections without feeling rushed by the line of people behind you. This year several wineries put out wines made wholly from strawberries or as a blend with traditional wine grapes. The strawberry concoctions typically ranged from semi-sweet to OMG sweet. I bought one of these concoctions that had a semi-sweet to sweet start and finished with an interesting “kick” that caught my attention vs. the others I sampled. Any ways, sometime between getting there and around 1pm, when I took a break for lunch, I started to feel really “happy” after all the tasting and Casey has the voice mail to prove it 🙂 hehe..

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At around 2:30pm I decided I tasted all that I could and it was getting crowded so I hit the road and headed to Carolina Sky Sports in Franklinton NC. to check out their facilities and to get more information on jumping out of an airplane. Getting there was pretty easy and the drive down Highway 56 was scenic. Being that this is the first drop zone I’ve been to, I have no reference on how good or bad it is compared to others but I liked what I saw and everyone I talked to were really nice and were more then happy to answer any questions I had.

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There was a large observation deck out back and I was able to take some photos of some skydivers making their way back to Terra Firma. Well, after talking and watching for a bit, I decided I really wanted to jump from an airplane so I went and asked about scheduling a jump. They told me that due to the 4 straight weekends of rain they had a back log of people already scheduled but they did have spots for one or two people tomorrow (Sunday). At this point I gave Casey a call again, this time not so “happy”, to see if he was up for a jump and he was, so I scheduled us for the 2pm class and headed home.

To end my Saturday I watched Sweeney Todd on DVD. I was not sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. I thought Johnny Depp and Helena Carter did a great job playing Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett as was their singing.

On Sunday, Casey, Lindsay and I met up at Carolina Sky Sports for our 2pm class and the first line of business was to watch a short video explaining the dangers of skydiving. It was hosted by a guy who looked like he was a member of ZZ Top which was amusing. Next we had to sign away our ability to sue pretty much anyone that we, our family, our next of kin, etc could sue in the case we are injured or die from skydiving. Then we paid for the jump and moved to the training room were an instructor ran through the gear used and the process of the first Tandem jump. During this time we could hear a down pour of rain going on which caused a weather delay for the three groups ahead of us which means our jump also got pushed back. The weather delay was lifted not long after we got out of training and the weather was looking good… so we thought. When the third group was on their way up, Casey and I were called into to staging room where we were given a jump suite to squeeze into. Lindsay came in and took pictures of Casey and I in our jump suites and we all chatted with the other two guys and their family who were in our group. Our jump masters came in about 20 mins later after completing their jump with the previous group and attached the tandem harness to Casey and I. So at this point we were ready to go but another storm front moved in and we were grounded. We waited for a while hopping for it to clear but when it got to be around 6pm it was decided to call it a day so Casey, Lindsay and I spent 4 hours at Carolina Sky Sports and all we had to show for it was a rain check to try again later.

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We all agreed that the next time we make our attempt that we would try to talk two other friends to jump with us or at least have them come out and be our cheering squad as we fall from the sky (hopefully cheering for our safe decent 🙂 hehe). Lindsay has update their blog with her account of our skydiving adventure including the pictures she took so check them out.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Events, Home, Transportation, Travel | No Comments »

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