The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

NM/AZ 2009 Vacation: Phoenix

As usual, we stayed at La Posada in Winslow, Arizona in order to break up the long drive between Santa Fe and Phoenix, dining once again in The Turquoise Room, where I had a magnificent churro lamb sampler. Then it was over the Mogollon Rim, past the Mazatzal Mountains, into greater Phoenix.

Phoenix is sprawling and lacks the kind of urban neighborhoods I prefer. I just go there because that’s where Dave’s baseball seminar takes place, and since the seminar anchors the vacation, I go there once a year. But there were some pleasant surprises this time. First, we discovered a delightful and affordable French restaurant, Petite Maison, where we had a lovely meal  on Thursday, then went back on Sunday because we liked it so much. This is a place to rediscover escargot, dessert souffles, and basic French entrees. It’s all good, and we hope to go back next time we’re in Phoenix.

The next night, I caught some pictures of the setting sun off of the hotel outdoor walkway:

DSCN0372 DSCN0363

And on Saturday night, we  went to the all-star game of the Arizona Fall League, which is a developmental league for promising young players who are expected to make the major league. I used this as an occasion to play with the stop-action feature on my camera, which was fun. Here are a few shots, first of batters, then of a pitcher in slo-mo. It was fun! 



And these only include every other shot, so I actually had a much finer level of stop-action photography.

So that’s it for the vacation. In a few days, I’ll resume the book reviews.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zoom, Zoom!!!

A few weeks ago, Dave bought me a new camera as an early birthday present (yes, he really is that wonderful). After visiting the Penn Camera store where my friend Melanie works, I settled on a Nikon P90. I wanted a reasonably light camera with a minimum 5X zoom, and I didn’t want to think too hard about lighting. The Nikon P90 has a 24X zoom, though the last 6X is digital, which can be a bit blurry even with all the stabilization settings. Still, 18X is amazing! This camera has so many settings that I felt I had to dedicate an entire day to it. One day wasn’t enough — there will be more “camera days” in the next few weeks. However, I am awed by what this thing can do.

While I could still take the camera back to Penn Camera, I did some test shots to make sure it wasn’t defective. Here, then, is the obligatory “cat on the sofa” test picture:

Eddie on sofa

I then stepped onto the back porch, zoomed to the full 24X, aimed the thing at a neighbor’s back patio, and got an artistically blurry mess because even though I have an extremely steady hand, 24X is hard to pull off without help. A few minutes later, with 1 of the 2 stabilization features in place, I took the same shot as a much less blurry mess. Side-by-side comparison below:

DSCN0003   versus  DSCN0008

Here are some other close-ups of neighbors’ yards, all taken from my porch using the zoom feature:

next door neighbor's garden from about 30 feet

more neighborhood flowers from my porch

neighborhood tree

On to Camera Day! There are about 40,000 different settings on this camera, or so it seems, and I could possibly care about half of them, which is a lot. There are “scene settings” for museums, fireworks, dusk, dawn, indoor parties, etc., etc., etc. Two settings that particularly captured my imagination were Copy and Food. Copy does just that — as you can see from this page in the manual:


Food is just amazing. It assumes a close-up and offers you five possible tints. Here is the bowl of pistachios that lives on my coffee table, shown in neutral, maximum blue, and maximum red:

DSCN0037  DSCN0036  DSCN0035

There are various ways of doing close-ups, too, and here are some from my back porch and a park I visited:




Finally, the zoom feature on its own produces some pretty amazing shots, even without specific scene settings. Below, a caterpillar on a cattail, and a Canadian goose, both taken from a distance.



Thanks again to Dave — and there may be more posts like this one as I explore the camera further.

October 2, 2009 Posted by | random thoughts | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

(Very) Odds and Ends

It’s another link day — cats, cooking, and common sense healthcare.

First, let’s look at the cats. Specifically, let’s look at 1,000 pictures of cats. Some of these animals are absolutely gorgeous.

As for cooking, a question that comes up now and then — and especially now, in the shaky economy– is whether certain items we consider panty staples are cheaper to make at home than to buy at the grocery store. An article on slate tells us one woman’s experience making bagels, cream cheese, yogurt, jam, crackers, and granola. She evaluates not just cost, but taste. The results might not be what you expect. I know I was surprised by one item in particular.

Finally, there’s common sense in health care, a hot topic these days with our devastatingly expensive “system” and the various thoughts on how to address it. This satire starring Fred Willard gets right to the point.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | animals, cats, food, humor, pets, random thoughts, satire | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Link Day

Okay, so we’re supposed to support the economy by spending, but we’re also supposed to save more, and we’re supposed to do this when we’re all in danger of losing income. David Leonhardt of The New York Times kindly explains how. I am now the proud owner of a brand new seltzer maker.

Speaking of New York, these old photographs of the city are amazing.

And it’s flu season. So, from Flu Wiki (because there’s a Wiki for everything these days), we have an instructive and slightly amusing video on how to prevent its spread.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | history, products | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Miscellany

Oh, it’s been an eventful weekend!

First, I’d like to give a photo credit to my friend Beth, who took the picture of Priscilla in the “about” section in the upper right-hand corner of this page. You can check Beth’s other photos at her Flickr page. And speaking of cats, Eddie is doing great! Here’s the latest picture of him, hiding under the “don’t bother me” chair:

We all need a place to hide at times, right?

Next, Dave’s car died. We were driving along yesterday morning when all sorts of warning lights started going on. I was almost afraid to look, but when I did, I saw that even the speedometer wasn’t functioning. So he had it towed to the dealer, and they sent him over to the rental car place for a loaner, where they fixed him up with this:

I call it the “Darth Vader-mobile.” Look, if he were a landscaper or a painter or a carpenter, or if he lived in the country and had a farm, this might be a perfectly suitable vehicle. But Dave’s an attorney living in a close-in suburb of Washington DC. Under the circumstances, this thing is nothing short of hilarious.

Finally, as stated in a previous post, I thought this last season of Top Chef was nothing short of awesome. And yesterday evening we met some friends at the burger joint run by the family of Spike Mendelsohn (sp?) from last season: Good Stuff Eatery. Spike himself was there, as was his dad, and I have to say, the food was excellent. They’re planning to turn Good Stuff into a chain, and I hope they succeed. I had a soda, large Village Fries, and the Patty Melt, all for about $11. Spike made the Village Fries on Top Chef and got wild praise for them from the judges. They were, without question, the best fries I’ve ever had. So the question is, had I not seen the show or had Spike not gone on the show in the first place, what would I think of the food? I would still think it was awesome, and I’d still think the fries were the best I’ve ever had. The burger might be up there in the top 3 I’ve ever had, and it’s definitely the best I’ve had recently, but I don’t eat a lot of burgers. I was fully prepared to say “over-rated,” but that’s absolutely not true. So if you ever end up in Washington DC on Capitol Hill and want a good, reasonably priced meal with the best fries you’ll ever eat, try Good Stuff.

July 27, 2008 Posted by | cats, food, pets, random thoughts, Top Chef | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment