It was a lovely day today, considering it’s mid-January. The sky was mostly-clear and sunny and, though very windy all day, the temperature hovered around 50 degrees (F). It really did look and feel like a fine day in March. We are expecting a rather dramatic change in the weather around here. The temperature is expected to gradually slide from today’s high to single-digit lows over the next few days. We may also get another dose of snow midweek. This evening’s sunset was lovely, even as it portended the coming changes with a lovely burst of sun, a patch of blue sky, and encroaching quilted clouds. Tonight’s sunset was the end of a lovely day and marked the beginning of hard winter weather.
Still ticking is the Toshiba Satellite A215 I bought new in September 2010, its life extended now using a Samsung 830 solid-state drive (SSD) and Windows 8.
Now, there was nothing wrong with the original mechanical hard drive except for the typical long boot time. And there was nothing wrong with Windows 7, except that I didn’t have installation disks (darned “instant upgrade”). The combination of things, however, called out for a change of course: I would install the SSD “bare” and make a fresh operating system (OS) install. Since I’d have to pay for Windows 7 — again — I decided to reinstall the computer’s original Vista Home Premium and install Windows 8 for the low, low introductory upgrade price of $39.99.
It took all day. First the lousy Toshiba restore process included all of the original bloatware — stuff I didn’t want originally and certainly not now! That took more than an hour. The good part of that restore is that it restored use of the Toshiba’s built-in LAN port, apparently broken by some previous driver update.
My “immediate gratification” download of Windows 8 took, oh, probably about six hours! Fortunately I could walk away and let the file dribble down, stopping by once in a while to look at the estimated time remaining and heave a sigh.
Once downloaded, Windows 8 installed quickly and without error. I installed the few Windows updates waiting, and was good to go!
The SSD transformed the laptop’s user experience with power-on to logged on in less than a minute; I love the thing. The machine makes less heat now, its internal fan runs mostly at low speed, and I suspect battery life is proportionately improved but I haven’t tested that.
Windows 8 is truly made for tablets, no doubt about it. But I like the freshness of its design, even like the lock screen (shown above), and beneath it all I see Windows 7’s DNA; I feel very comfortable once back at the desktop, behind the tiled interface.
Best of all, for less than the price of a Kindle Fire, I have a speedy, fully-functional notebook computer with a full-size keyboard ready to work with me for some time to come: Vista > Windows 7 > Windows 8 – the third OS for my old laptop PC.
We crossed the state of Ohio twice today, visiting family. It was today that a cold weather front collided with the northeastern-most edge of Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane is a large storm which, during the day, has taken the form of an open pinwheel. Clouds over the region were oriented north and south and took on strange, drawn-out shapes and dark colors as they rapidly evolved overhead. I felt compelled to step outside, at one point, to capture some images of the sky-show! As we headed westbound on the Ohio Turnpike this morning, across the median we saw scores of electrical utility and tree service trucks eastbound; they were, no doubt, headed to the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. to assist with power outages and downed trees.
The winds grew stronger as the day wore on: cold and dry in Northwestern Ohio, cold and wet in the Northeastern parts of the state. Heading back this evening, most of our journey was inside the storm — not a hurricane for us, but a tense and unpleasant trip nonetheless. The next few days promise to be cold, dark, and wet around here as we deal with the outskirts of a big storm heralded by today’s dramatic October sky.
We traveled to Garrettsville, Ohio just to get out and decompress a bit. Whereas yesterday was overcast and gray (though beautiful in its own way), today sun-spotted autumn landscape views were all around. The breeze was brisk and colored leaves rained from the trees. Autumn was well-along. It was that kind of a day.
Today was a nearly perfect mid-September day to be outdoors; I had to spend the day in the office. During my drive, however, I stopped briefly to take in the brilliant sunrise over Baldwin Lake in Berea, Ohio. Baldwin Lake is really a wide section of the East Branch Rocky River. A little farther downstream the waterway narrows and flows over a stony dam near the center of town. This morning, in the open shadows, the waters actually looked more like ice as they flowed over flat rock near the edge. Streams falling and splashing on rocks below were reminiscent, perhaps of icicles. But we’re getting ahead here… it will be winter soon enough. My respite was all-too-brief; I forced myself to look away from the sun, the blue sky, the dark and reflecting waters. I packed up my camera and headed out for my day indoors: it was a great day to be outdoors; I was in my office.
A Beach of Her Own: One way to secure your place on the beach is to go there when nobody else wants to. This woman was sunning herself today at Huntington Beach in Bay Village, Ohio. The wind was brisk, out of the north (across Lake Erie), with air temperature of about 65F degrees. Personally, when I used to sun myself, I preferred cool and quiet to basting in my own sweat with people cluttering up the place!
During Sunday’s visit to Vermilion, Ohio we explored the old downtown area of the city. The district is a wonderful assortment of frame and brick commercial structures ranging from the grand to the humble, occupied and well-kept to neglected; there is a lot of character to those buildings and I enjoyed viewing and photographing them. I’ll post at least one more image after this pair but it is a challenging picture to get just right, and I may or may not succeed.
It was Labor Day today! We slept in this morning, got ourselves together at a leisurely pace, and decided to pay a visit to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio) through the Ira Road Trailhead. The access point is very near the heron rookery we visited several times this spring. Some of the offspring of this year’s matings have taken up residence — temporarily, at least — in the large wetland area just north of Ira. The young birds are not very experienced and are not very shy around humans so it is easy for noisy park visitors to get a good look at them. The big, though immature, birds also go about their business within easy reach of any photographer’s lenses. We shot scores of images, watching the herons as they perched on logs, preened, panted (it was a very hot and humid day), hunted, and flew; it was as if they were posing for a big photo shoot and not unlike Sunday’s cooperative dragonflies! Once we got our fill of heron studies for the day, we strolled along the expansive boardwalk. There were turtles, fish, dragonflies, and flowers to shoot along the way. Sweaty and ready for lunch, we finally headed out and after a fine sandwich at Bruegger’s Bagels, Hudson, Ohio, decided to take a stroll around Peninsula, Ohio.
The (now) tourist town was full of Labor Day visitors and is a hub for walking and, especially, bicycling on the CVNP’s Towpath Trail. There is also an excursion railway run by the Park Service that passes directly through town. We hiked up the rail line a way, chasing an image I had in mind (it looked better inside my head), then headed back toward town and the rail depot. Looking back over my shoulder, I noticed what appeared to be thick fog covering the rails behind us. But that didn’t make sense. Looking back again I could see that it wasn’t fog coming our way… it was rain; heavy rain! Luckily we only needed to pick up our pace a bit to reach shelter under the covered open-air waiting area for train passengers. Under shelter, we watched as the drenching rain arrived. It had been so hot and humid that most folks caught in the rain did not seem to be in a hurry to get out of it.
Those under shelter sat back and enjoyed the cooled air and watched as hikers and cyclists passed by. Not a bad way to spend a time on a hot afternoon. When we arrived home I began editing my photos from the day. Several of what you see here I also shared on Google+ as part of a special Labor Day event staged by the Canon User’s Circle — folks from around the globe all submitting photos on this day made using Canon gear — a very cool project! That, in a nutshell, was our Labor Day; one of the best I have enjoyed. The happy feeling might even make it through tomorrow when we go back to work!
We had a wonderful nature photo walk at the Alderfer-Oenslager Wildlife Sanctuary of Medina Park System this afternoon and had the park nearly to ourselves! The sky was cloudy and the air was warm and heavy with humidity — it rained quite a lot last night! Unfortunately we saw no wading birds, in fact no aquatic birds at all! Still, the late-summer flowers and waterlilies made up for much. Oh yes, and then there were dragonflies! Not many, mind you, but just enough to keep this fan happily clicking away as the beautiful few went about their business. Today’s feature was the gorgeous Yellow-legged Meadowhawk. I had the good fortune to come across a dragonfly who seemed to like having his picture taken for not only did he pose prettily on some plant leaves, he hovered in flight! It appears summer is winding down at the pond.