Photography Places

Looking for Fall Along Route 66

I had the nicest note today from Mike Rodriquez saying, “…partially thanks to you (your wonderful writings about the river and the countryside surrounding SL) we’re moving back to our childhood home in Lindsborg, KS.”

My first reaction on reading this was, “Wow!” followed by a particularly warm and fuzzy feeling followed not too long after with another “Wow” and then a more thoughtful, “Boy, I sure hope they don’t get hit by a tornado”.

Tornadoes, heat, astonishing political dichotomy, and the ever present bugs that see me as a walking buffet aside, on days like today I renew my love of this land, even though the humidity was enough to drench me within a half mile starting my hike. I can only nod when Mike talks about moving back to Kansas because I remember walking steep rocky trails overlooking one river one day; an old country road surrounded by flowers against the backdrop of yet another river the next–all within 25 minutes of my home– and think how can anyone not want to live here?

How many places can you walk the same trail, over and over, and still feel as if it’s bright and shiny new: one time small pink flowers grow out of short dark green depths; another, tall golden brown weeds form a mosaic of gleaming color against rich yellow and light green.

This week when I walked Powder, new small white flowers carpeted the forest floor and I felt like calling out, “Don’t you ever get tired of growing?” But that would only startle the fawns that have now become so used to me (or people really, but I like to think it’s me, personally) that they quietly graze by the side of the trail only a few feet away.

I hadn’t been to the Route 66 State Park since Spring because normally it can be quite warm in the summer, and since horses are allowed on the paths, it can also be a little odorous at times. But it’s also a good place to check for the beginnings of fall color in this part of the state (though a more accurate check requires a trip further north).

I had the park almost to myself, and when I started across the old Route 66 bridge, I decided just to stop, right there on the bridge, and take some photos. I’ve been wanting to try out my fisheye lens of the river and surrounding hills; normally a fisheye distorts an image too much, but this time, I think it worked nicely, capturing what I see every time I cross this old, rusted bridge.

There’s a specific path I walk when I go to Route 66, but I thought since I had the place more or less to myself (though stopping on a bridge to take photos isn’t the best of ideas in these times) I thought I would explore the back roads from the car, and then stop and hike wherever the mood hit. I’m glad I did or I wouldn’t have found this marshy pond not to far from the river. In the pond was a marsh bird, fishing for frogs and small fish.

When I parked the car to put on my telephoto lens, the bird hid behind the weeds, peeking out at me, coyly, as if it were playing a game of hide and seek. I just sat there in the car, camera pointed out the window, and soon enough the bird cautiously stepped out behind the weeds and resumed it’s hunting–giving me a chance to get a better picture than I normally can.

Are you ready to move here, yet?

Loren wrote about his trevails with technology today and I felt for him–good technology done badly is the craft of the devil. But when he wrote about walking to St. Louis to deliver something to me and it being probably faster than dealing with a rigidly uncompromising system, I thought there could be worse places to walk to, or around.

I ended up taking my usual walk, a circular route that goes from parking lot to river and back, past open meadow and closed forest. There was a group of deer along the way, but they’re shy unlike the ones at Powder and ran as soon as I got close. There’s one spot where I can climb down the hill to the water along a loose limestone and rock trail. The path was badly overgrown and I couldn’t safely make it all the way down the hill, even with my hiking stick. But it was nice to be clambering around a hillside on loose rock, feeling the challenge on muscles and balance.

You can lose yourself when hiking hills, though as Kierkegaard found, no one may notice:

The greatest hazard of all, losing the self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss–an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc.–is sure to be noticed.


While you were cowering in fear: part 1

Warning: this political message contains no reference to Vietnam, lies, lies about lies, boats, planes, or typeface. It has not been screened by webloggers for accuracy, nor has it been endorsed by any political pundit currently appearing on the Technorati Top 100. View at your own risk.

Because agricultural inspection has been folded, along with most other domestic inspection services, into Homeland Security, there is now a shortage of inspectors, leading to the very real threat of the spread of disease that can destroy crops, contaminate livestock, and kill people:

The government has reduced the number of soldiers in the nation’s long-running battle against dangerous pests and food-borne diseases, as it focuses on stopping terrorists.

Recent discoveries demonstrate the unremitting threats: European cherries infested with insect eggs; fertilizer from Canada with ground-up cattle parts; grapevines hidden in a false-bottom suitcase; raw chicken parts arriving from a country inflicted with avian influenza; plants bagged with dirt containing unknown organisms; and even whole legs of cattle stuffed into a huge suitcase.

The problem in the Department of Homeland Security is both numbers and attitude, inspectors say. With fewer trained eyes, more pests and diseases are bound to enter via passengers and cargo.

Customs and immigration officers taking up the slack in screening are law enforcement officers, not biologists. They’re trained to intercept suspicious people and drugs, not suspicious bugs, and many of them view the agriculture specialists and their mission with disdain.

The number of people killed by terrorists annually is estimated to be about 600 people. The World Health Organization states that two million children die because of food and water contamination yearly. It also states that one out of three people suffer some form of foodborne disease annually.

Recently, uninspected seeds were released into the United States that could have contained disease that may have wiped out our corn crops. We lucked out and the recovered seed has not been so contaminated.

However, one container of the seed was never inspected.

Well, I feel safer thanks to the Department of Homeland Security. Don’t you?


Domains for free

Tripping over to Loren Webster’s In a Dark Time weblog, I was surprised to see “Domain expired”. However, it’s been renewed so more poetry should be forthcoming. If you’re thirsting for the words now, then you can use his “tilde” URL – Now might also be a good time to go to his front page, because I can see he’s added new material. You won’t be able to comment, though, or access a permalink unti his DNS renewal has propagated throughout the threaded void. The registrars say up to 72 hours, and an expiration can take longer than a new domain. Still, less than a day, I estimate.

This is a good time to mention that several .info registrars, such as my own, Dotster are giving away free .info domains. One site started it – DomainSite, but they’ve since gone to a fee of 0.99. Which is still very cheap.

So far, I’ve snapped up the following domains:

Some of these really beg for a site, don’t they?

There is a limit of 25 domains per registering entity, in this case myself. This may only be for each registrar, but I think 24 domains is enough, don’t you?

Why is this happening? Most likely to begin to fill up namespace for this new TLD (Top Level Domain), and start generating interest in the .info domain. This domain is an unrestricted domain, which means anyone can register a domain name–here’s your chance to have a free domain for one year. Next year, of course, it will cost you.

Going back a moment to Loren’s site, the use of the tilde (’~’) has been around since Apache was a pup, I believe. My first site was a ’tilde site’, before buying my first domain (not easy to obtain in the early days; free at first, and then horribly expensive until Internic decided to allow competition).

A tilde site is one in which multiple accounts are hosted in one shared environment, and each account has a specific name attached to it, such as my own, ’shelley’. These are hosted in a specific directory, usually labeled the ‘home’ directory. A person can then access the site using the IP address or general name for the server, followed by a /~(name), and the web server, at least Apache, will serve up the pages until whatever domain name they use propagates through the system.

So if I, in my gluttony and greed for domains, happen to forget to renew my domain registration (horrors!), you could still access my site using, or this weblog using

Of course, using the tilde site to access the page could cause some interesting challenges if you’re using the top level relative URL, as I am using for some my of my stylesheet effort. The reason why is that the top level domain in this case is no longer, but And there is no /look, /photos, or /mm subdirectory at this location.