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Decidufir - A new species of tree

Decidufir Tree

We thought we had discovered a new species of tree when we came upon our first decidufir tree.

Do you see that the tree is roughly …

half conifer (a tree with needles rather than leaves)

and deciduous (a trees that loses its leaves each year)?

Can you imagine the possibilities presented by a tree that can do well in all seasons?

Considering how difficult it can be to survive in an area where the average snowfall is well over 200 inches. It could be very important.

This one is located near Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula on the north side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Initially, we couldn’t find people who could tell us about the tree.  Either the people we asked about the decidufir knew nothing about it or they were unwilling to share what they knew.

Later, though, we picked up hints that locals have known about the tree for a long time.  It may have even been important to Native Americans for both medicinal and mystical reasons.  Some people feel it is a harbinger of climate change … telling us that winters may become more cold & snowy, while summers turn more hot and dry.

Who knows?  Do you?

We hope to explore this further, when we return to the area this summer.

Do you know about the Decidufir Tree?

Please share with us.

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Metal sculpture of bug mounted on rooftop.

Village Accountant Responsible for Monster Bug Attack

What does your accountant do to relax?

Mine creates large-scale metal structures.

More details coming soon in another blog.

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This photographic image of a monster bug metal sculpture was captured using a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone. The fireworks effect was added using Instagram (recently acquired by Facebook), while the text was added using the Evernote application Skitch.

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Double Eagle on the Fox

Two Bald Eagles

For the past year or more residents of the Dundee, Illinois, area along the Fox River have been watching the antics of a mated pair of Bald Eagles and their 2011 offspring. In early 2011 it was easy to distinguish the adults from the juvenile. The younger bird had not developed the white head and tail feathers and its efforts to catch food were clumsy.

I’m not certain of this, but I think the eagle on the right in the pictures above and below is the juvenile. That judgement is based on the rather submissive way it acted after landing on the perch next to the eagle on the left.

After watching and photographing this pair of Bald Eagles, I commented to my wife that we were having a Double Eagle” morning. She asked me what the double eagle phrase referenced. I told her it was a gold coin. She snickered and said, “Oh sure, a coin put out by one of those phoney commercial mints.”

Nope … a Double Eagle is a $20 gold coin that was first issued by the United States in the mid-1800s.

The “eagle” names given to gold U.S. coins are not nicknames; the “eagle,” “half-eagle” and “quarter-eagle” were specifically given these names in the Act of Congress that originally authorized them. Likewise, the Double Eagle was specifically created with that name. Since the $20 gold piece had twice the value of the eagle, these coins were designated “double eagles”.

Bald Eagles with Ruffled Feathers

The first double eagle was minted in 1849, at the height of the California Gold Rush. In that year, the mint produced the initial proofs.  Regular production began in 1850 and continued until 1933. Prior to 1850, eagles with a denomination of $10 were the largest denomination of US coin. $10 eagles were produced beginning in 1795, just two years after the first U.S. mint opened.  In 1850, the double eagle had the purchasing power of about $530 in 2011 dollars.

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Cloud Line

image

This is the only cloud in the sky, It appears ready to underline something.

Also, I wanted to test “sharing a photo from my cell phone”.

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The Sky is Fabulous

One of the greatest treats for us … when visiting Copper Harbor … is the sky.

Copper Harbor Sunrise

Copper Harbor Sunrise

Sunrise is often spectacular.

On a calm morning sunrise over Copper Harbor often looks like the scene above.

Copper Harbor at Dusk

Copper Harbor at Dusk

Dusk seems to use a very different filter.

Stragglers participating in a Keweenaw Adventure kayak tour are shown returning to shore in the photo above.

Copper Harbor Sunset

Copper Harbor Sunset

Sunset fires up more colors.

Only 20 minutes later, Mother Nature uses another set of color filters when the sun drops below the horizon.

Some very special visual magic begins once the sky grows dark.

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) Over Lake Superior Observed from Copper Harbor, Michigan

Northern Lights Over Copper Harbor & Lake Superior

Northern Lights are a Very Special Treat

Mid-week, during a very special time between dusk & moonrise, we enjoyed more than an hour watching the darkening sky become populated with planets and stars.  Constellations were clearly identifiable. Meteorites flared and disappeared. When I pointed out the first meteorite, my wife admonished me that they should be called falling stars … otherwise your wishes couldn’t come true.

We watched nearly a dozen satellites trace their way across the sky. Many seemed to be following a path through the Milky Way.

The greatest visual treat for us that night was watching the Aurora Borealis. It wasn’t a spectacular show. To us, it initially looked mostly like city lights casting a pale light in the sky. As we watched, the lights created shapes that seemed to reach toward the zenith above us … resolving into a gauze curtain waving in the breeze. Then … it disappeared.

We looked more to the east to watch the Copper Harbor Lighthouse flash white-and-green a few times.  Next time we looked northwest, the Northern Lights were back.

In the twenty years we have been visiting the Keweenaw Peninsula we have had the pleasure of watching the Northern Lights three times. The summer of the most brilliant light show in Copper Harbor, we were amazed by a preview as we were leaving the Chicago area. We had prepared so well the night before that we were able to begin our 500-mile drive well before sunup.

The picture above offers a color display that is enhanced by the 60-second exposure setting. The orange along the horizon is the residual light from the sun which was well below the horizon. What we saw as a white gauze shows up more as the green that is typical of the Aurora one might see in winter.

Again …

To see pictures of Copper Harbor area you can visit my Walking Keweenaw photo web gallery.

You will find information about Copper Harbor, Michigan, using these links:

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Shots of Snowzilla

Chicago Blizzard 2011  -

Weather events offer some of the greatest opportunities for interesting Photography.

A snow storm began on Monday afternoon January 31, 2011 that over the next 48 hours became the 3rd strongest blizzard on record for the Chicago area.

By 7:00PM the storm had begun to get serious.  Ultimately,  the storm system covered 30 states populated by over 100 million people and its impact was felt around the country.

I created the “Shots of Snowzilla” photo web gallery to share images from my corner of the world.

Be sure to click the Portfolio link to see the full set of photos.

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Ideas With Legs
WIX.com
 
Web Photo Galleries and Visually Interesting Websites
 
DIY … It’s Easy to Do It Yourself
My initial objective was to share photos of a special community event.
Heroes On Horseback Salute

Heroes On Horseback Salute

I evaluated … even attempted to use several alternatives including:
  • PhotoShop
  • HTML
  • Dreamweaver
  • 3rd Party Dreamweaver Templates
  • flickr
  • Facebook
My HTML designs were too bland.  PhotoShop referred me to Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver referred me to Adobe?? to build a web gallery for Dreamweaver.  I tried, but was frustrated by the process and disappointed by the outcome.
By searching the web I identified some Dreamweaver templates that looked interesting and attempted using them.  No luck.
Responding to an interesting Tweet, I “won” a template from another designer.  I attempted to follow its instructions.  No luck.
flickr and Facebook offer only simple “album” type formats.
In addition I downloaded and tried several free trials and shareware packages. None of them inspired me to do more than create a few draft web pages.
I discovered Wix.com through a Tweet that arrived during my review of the software I downloaded.  After a few days wrestling with that software. I went back to that Tweet and followed the link to www.wix.com.
To get started I …
  • Watched an online video
  • Made some test pages
  • Selected a Template
  • Tweaked Template Organization & Navigation
  • Saved with Custom Name/URL
  • Added Content
  • Tweaked Layout & Feature Settings
Then I asked small number of people to review what I had created and give me some feedback.  I collected their responses and modified the site as needed.  Between Friday evening and Noon Sunday I completed my first Wix web photo gallery.
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Since then I have created 6 additional Web Photo Galleries and Photo-Intensive Websites
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Why?
  • The introductory information helped me visualize what I could accomplish with their tool
  • The GUI is intuitive.
  • I experienced few technical glitches while building my site.  Considering I was uploading photo files over a wireless connection to my home network … things went well.
  • When I sought templates for different topics or themes, I usually found 2 or 3 that interested me.  So, I feel the array of templates is good and  Wix appears to add new templates  regularly.
If you would like to see what I did with Wix,  follow these links:

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