Cerebral Gibberish

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

Milling Around: Yates Mill Park

Posted by heymoe on July 21st, 2008

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I picked up a new lens on Thursday (Hopefully the last one for a while. This hobby is getting expensive 🙂 hehe), so I decided to take it out for a spin this weekend. My first stop was Historic Yates Mill County Park.

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Yates Mill was 1 of 70 Wake county gristmills dating back over 200 years. Out of the 70 mills, Yates Mill is the only one left standing today. In 1963 North Carolina State University took ownership of the land the mill is located and in 1989 The Yates Mill Associates began restorations of the mill. In 1996 NCSU and the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture decided to allow Wake Country to convert the 558 acres of land into a park. The park planning hit its first speed bump when Hurricane Fran came through the area and breached the dam draining the millpond and damaged the shed portion of the mill building. Restoration of the mill and the dam was completed in 2005 and the park opened to the public on May 20, 2006. There is a lot more history about the mill available HERE.

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Getting to the park was easy and there was plenty of parking. There is a really nice and air conditioned welcome center which has displays telling the history of Yates Mill as well as information about how mills work and the wild life in the area. There is a nice patio area behind the welcome center that has a view looking over the pond with the mill in the background. The path to the mill is well maintained with benches to rest at and some old parts from the mill along the side of path to explore.

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Reaching the mill itself I was surprised to see people dressed era clothing from mill’s hey day. I have to applaud their dedication to their job since it was very hot and humid that day and they were wearing long pants or full era style dresses. I mean I was wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt and sweat was pouring down my face as it was. Any ways, it looks like they were giving tours of the inside of the mill as well as demonstrating how it operated. I opted to skip the tour this time and headed down the path to the left of the mill down to the water wheel and dam.

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It was very peaceful in this area with the sound of water flowing and the beauty of the water flowing over the dam like little water falls. The water wheel of the mill was not turning when I first got down there since it seems they only turn it on when there is a tour group going through which seemed to be about every 20-30 minutes. It was really neat to watch them unleash the water with a big gush to get the wheel turning. Once it got turning they lessened the flow to keep it moving. I did run into another snake behind the dam but I saw it well in advance unlike last time. To the parks credit, they did have signs saying that there are snakes in this area as well.

From there the path takes you up a hill to a picnic area and a deck / pier that over looks the pond and gives you good view of the mill. I’m pretty sure the path would take you all the way around the pond but it was just too hot and humid that I decided to head back to the welcome center to cool down and then on to my next stop (so I thought.. stay tuned).

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Travel | No Comments »

Skydiving: I’m Alive!

Posted by heymoe on July 14th, 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 »

Happy Soggy 4th of July

Posted by heymoe on July 5th, 2008


Well so far the only fireworks I’ve seen this 4th of July weekend are from Mother Nature. I headed down to the Raleigh fairgrounds in hopes of setting up the camera and make attempts at capturing the fireworks action but that pretty much failed more or less from the beginning.

I knew going down to the fairgrounds was going to be a mess with traffic and cars everywhere so figured I would take the motorcycle out so I can easily find a parking space up close. I check the weather about an hour before heading out and everything looked good then but I should have checked it before I left. A little over halfway to the fairgrounds it started to sprinkle and I could see lighting in the distance. When I was almost to the fairgrounds, maybe two exits away, I hit traffic and the rain was really coming down. At this point I figured the fireworks were canceled so I worked my way out of the traffic and stopped by a bar for a drink near the apartment I used to live in during college. I figured I would hold up in the bar until the rain stopped.

As luck would have it, shortly after getting my drink I got a call from the security company for my work informing me that the alarm was triggered. We being the good employee I am I figured I should head to the office, which was on the way home any ways, and make sure everything was OK. So I finished my drink which by that time the rain looked like it died down to a sprinkle again and head out. Once on the road again Mother Nature figured I was not wet enough and sent a tropical down pour my way. Of course when the down pour hit everyone on the road turned stupid and started to flash their emergency lights but instead of moving into the right lanes so other people who know how to drive in the rain could get by, they just formed a line across all lanes pacing each other blocking in everyone behind them. GRRrrrr.. I hate stupid drivers.

By time I got to the office I was soaked to the bone. My shoes were full of water and my leather motorcycle jacket must have weighted another 10 pounds. Luckily my camera and lens were still nice and dry in my backpack.

After spending about 30 minutes at the office verifying everything was secure (It looked like it was a false alarm), I got on the motorcycle and headed home. At this points I was looking forward to getting out of my wet cloths and relax to a movie or something. Well that plan pretty much we out the door as I turned into my neighborhood. The storm that I’ve been fighting my way through pretty much since I left the house knocked out power to my whole neighborhood. So after everything I’ve gone though just to see some fireworks, my 4th of July ended in the dark.

Any ways, the fairgrounds fireworks were rescheduled to the 5th and this time I’m just staying home. As of right now it looks like it was a good decision since it has been raining pretty much all evening. Actually, checking the local news site it looks like the fireworks at the fairground did go off tonight but they started an hour early so I would have missed them any ways. Oh well. Maybe next year I’ll get to try and photography fireworks. Yeah!

Posted in Events, Photography, Transportation, Work | No Comments »

DIY: Spiderlite

Posted by heymoe on June 15th, 2008

Last Updated: 6/26/2008 (See the Updates section towards the bottom)

I recently started to experiment with off camera lighting and in order to try and save money I thought I would try and build my own version of a Spiderlite TD5 which are made by Westcott for $364.00. The speaker at a recent seminar I attended seemed to think highly of the these fixtures, granted I’m pretty sure this was due to Westcott sponsoring the event. None the less, they seemed to be flexible from a lighting point of view and the design seemed to be pretty basic.

The goal of my design was to build a Spiderlite all from off-the-shelf parts while needing only basic tools (IE: screw drivers, needle nose pliers, etc..) to assemble it and to provide light controls similar to the Westcott Spiderlite TD5.

After exploring my local home improvement stores for about an hour I was able to find all the parts to build my Spiderlite and this is what it looks likes.

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The total cost before taxes and not including the bulbs was $56. Throw in 5x 27w daylight (5500K) compact fluorescent bulbs (which I don’t think are bright enough) and the total comes to $91 before taxes which is a savings of ~$368 over the Westcott Spiderlite TD5 + Westcott TD5 bulbs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Photography, Projects | 25 Comments »

Gas: Pain at the Pump

Posted by heymoe on June 2nd, 2008

Gas Pump

The other day I, for the first time ever, paid over $4/gal to fill-up my car. The total cost of that fill-up was $71.15. It does not seem like it was that long ago that a fill-up was costing me under $50. Ahhh yes.. those were the days.. hehe.. I guess when I have kids I’ll be able to tell stories about how when I was their age gas cost around $1/gal and they will look at me and disbelief and call BS.

By the way, based on the owners manual, my car requires premium gas. I know a lot of people will say just use regular but I’m under the mindset that the maker of my car, who designed the engine, knows what octane the engine needs to run efficiently. I personally see the ~$3 extra I pay to fill-up with premium worth the peace of mind and that most people probably don’t really spend the time to calculate how much extra they would actually pay by using premium if their car needs it. Yeah, I know $3 adds up over time but frankly, like I said above, it’s a peace of mind thing for me and most people would just waste the $3 by buying a bottle of water or something else wasteful.

Any ways, I can’t say that I’m mad about the price of gas. Don’t get me wrong, it does suck but at the same time other places in the world, like in the UK, have been paying > $8/gal for a long time (It should be noted that ~70% of that is tax). I can only imagine what goes through their minds when they here about the bitching and moaning that us Americans are doing about the price of gas.

So far, I haven’t had too make to many changes to my driving habits. It’s not like I really drove around a lot in the first place. My round trip commute to work is only about 20 miles and if I have to go to a store I typically hit one of the many choices between home and work that does not add much to my trip. On the weekends I do try to plan trips so that I hit all the stores in a logical order to limit any back tracking. I’m also trying to ride my motorcycles to work more often since they tend to get gas mileage in the upper 30s to 40s. But with the recent 95+ (F) temperatures, the lack of AC on the motorcycle can make being stopped at light uncomfortable.

I guess the only thing to make things worse is that the prices don’t seem to be leveling off or going down. I believe the price of regular has gone up another .10 cents since I filled up making the price of regular $4/gal or very close to it. It will be a sad day when I have to pay three digits for gas which would mean gas would cost about $5.70/gal.. YEAH!

There has been one good thing to come out of the rising cost of gas so far. It has caused the demand for SUVs and Trucks to go way down to the point that the major vehicle manufacturers have stated they will scale back their SUV and Truck production. This is not to say that their production will stop completely. There is still a need for these types of vehicles when it comes to things like construction but a majority of their sales were to people that have no real reason to own one in the first place. Most people bought one as a status symbol or to compensate for something else. Some people will even say they are safer to drive but I think it really made the roads more dangers for everyone else. So score one for the higher gas prices!

Posted in Cerebral, Transportation | No Comments »

Animazement 2008 – Update

Posted by heymoe on May 29th, 2008

Animazement 2008

I think I have finally fully recovered from this past weekend and what a weekend it was. Animazement pulled in a new attendance record of 5,374 this year which I believe is a 19% increase from the previous year. I would like to congradulate all the staff and guests that made this year such a success.

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The weather this year was just about as perfect as one could hope for. With the exception of some early morning rain on one day, it was sunny and cool which allowed for the attendees mingle outside in the lawn and take part in large games of duck-duck-goose and red-rover. I think this year was the first time in the eight years that Animazement has been held at the Sheraton Imperial that the lawn was utilized to such an extent. Previous year it was either to hot and muggy or wet / rainy to stay outside. Reading the forums, it sounds like a lot of the attendees really enjoyed using the lawn this year and are hoping for something similar next year.

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Speaking of next year, Animazement will be moving to the Raleigh Convention Center (RCC) due to outgrowing the available space at the Sheraton Imperial. The RCC is several times larger then the Sheraton Imperial so it should take Animazement awhile to grow out of it. None the less, next year is going to be a very interesting and exciting time.

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This year one of my jobs was being one of the convention’s photographers which was really great. I did not have my camera last year and it really sucked not being able to photograph all the cosplayers in their elaborate costumes. I did a lot of indoor flash photography, which I think I still need more practice at. I got to experiment with using the manual settings of the camera for long exposure during the dances including the use of rear curtain flash sync to stop the motion of the dancers before the long exposure ended. I was also a video camera operator during some of the panels which was something new for me to do as well.

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I missed watching the Cosplay contest this year since I was taking photos of the groups before then went on stage so that the judges could use them to help them decided on the winners. It did sound like there were some really good ones this year so I hope to be able to see them at some point. Animazement also appeared in the local Herald-Sun newspaper on Monday. You can also read the article online (Registration required to read the whole thing: See my previous post about Mailinator).

Even though I only got around 3 hours of sleep each night, seeing how much fun all the attendees were having and even having some of them come up to members of the staff and thanking them for all their hard work to make it such an enjoyable event seem to make it all worth while. I look forward to helping out next year. See you all there!

Links to more photos in my gallery:
General (PicLens PicLens Button)
Cosplay Contest (PicLens PicLens Button)
Craftsmanship Contest (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Events, Photography | No Comments »

Mailinator to the Rescue

Posted by heymoe on May 28th, 2008

Don’t you just hate how many web site require that you provide them with an email address in order to access the site or even having to provide an email address when filling out a form in the real world. I know I do and I really don’t like using my real email address just to have it added to a mailing list in the future without my permission. Since I control my own mail server I tend to create an email alias per web site / form so I don’t have to supply my normal email address. This also allows me to know which web site decided to sell my email address to a mailing list and allows me to disable the alias without worrying that I will have to change my normal email address. This method works well except for having to manage all the email aliases and creating them before I use them.

The other day I learned of a service called Mailinator which basically accepts email for any email address @mailinator.com (or any of their alternative domains) and stores it for a period of time before removing the emails. To access any emails sent to these address you just go to their web site and type in the email address off you go. You can even subscribe to an RSS feed for that email address to keep up with emails that arrive to it. This service solve the two problems with my current email alias method in that I don’t have to manage or maintain the aliases on my server and I don’t have to make the email aliases before I can use them. I can use an address once just to validate an account on a web site and never have to check it again or I can just use RSS to keep up with accounts that I might want to keep around for awhile. Check it out!

Posted in Internet / Tech | No Comments »

Animazement 2008

Posted by heymoe on May 22nd, 2008

Animazement 2008

Just a reminder that Animazement 2008 starts tomorrow. So if you like Anime or interested in Japanese culture, check it out this weekend. For more information on the schedule, pricing, etc.. check out their web site. I’ll be there pretty much all weekend helping out and taking pictures so stay tuned for my post-convention update. C’yas.

Posted in Events | No Comments »

Artsplosure 2008

Posted by heymoe on May 21st, 2008

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Last Saturday I made a trip downtown for Artsplosure 2008 which is an annual arts festival that features a wide variety of arts, crafts, music, food and activities for grownups and kids alike. The weather on Saturday was absolutely brilliant with clear skies and temperatures that did not make me wish I wore shorts.

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This year marked the festival’s 29th year and to me the festival was very organized and planned out. There were two stages for the live music so while one band was playing on one stage the other was being prepared for the next band so that there was very little dead air between the bands. The different arts and crafts were more or less grouped together so if you wanted to see stuff related to pottery, you did not have to wonder around the whole venue.

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There were a lot of activities for the kids to take part in including face / hair painting, bubbles, butterflies, large chessboard, etc. There was a large caterpillar structure that the kids could crawl under and every so often when there were enough kids inside the caterpillar they would all lift it up and move it around the park with their legs representing the many legs of a caterpillar. It was very creative and neat to watch.

The typical fair style food vendors were there to feed and hydrate the masses. I could not pass up buying some honey coated cinnamon almonds and walnuts. Those things are just ohhhhh so good. As a bonus I also got a “free” bottle of water with the nuts which was nice.

Over all I had a really great time and will plan on going again next year.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Events, Photography | No Comments »

CG Turns One

Posted by heymoe on May 10th, 2008

Birthday Cake

Cerebral Gibberish (CG) turns 1 today and where has the time gone. It does not seem like it has been a year since my first post about the start of my Sunflower Project for 2007. Hummm, this reminds me, I need to start planting the sunflowers for this year since I harvested a crap load of seeds last year. Any ways, this will make the 149th post to CG with more to come. I’m not sure where the next year will take me but you’ll find out when I post about it. C’yas.

Posted in Cerebral, Gibberish | No Comments »

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