Tonight was originally going to be some quality hang with Dan, Sherry, and Nathan. Per usual, my younger cousin changed his plans and will be severely beat at the next family gathering by his loving older cousin - me.

Still, the night was great and I got some good time in with my cousins. We decided on another book to read (Huck Fin). As for Karenina - Sherry finished it, Dan tossed it aside and declared it too depressing, and I'm resolved to listening to it as I can never seem to settle down and read it.

When I first got there, Nat was taking a nap, and she just looked so cute. I had to take a pic. So its here and a few others I uploaded so I would have actual people in flickr...

This morning I was determined to be productive. Ignore the fact that I got up later than expected and had to cut out some things. The main tasks were completed. They were using up the strawberries that were going bad (purchased primarily as subjects for photos for my moms kitchen but tasty treats as well), make some breakfast sandwiches, and do another batch of jello shots for Georgia's birthday shindig Saturday. Never mind that I made a mess on the jello shots and um..well..they're mostly tequila now. I hope someone likes that crap cause I'm not fan of that stuff...

So here's a shot of the sandwiches (sausage, egg, cheese, english muffin - sound familiar?) and strawberry smoothy I made in my chopper. Yes, you read that right. I dont own a blender but that chopper does a pretty good job.

As a side note I was slightly more social than normal today - I had a date. And you know, it was good.

Today the head for my tripod arrived, making the set usable. Its the first tripod I've owned and I wanted to make sure I got something light enough I could hike with. So I opted for a carbon fiber manfrotto tripod and a manfrotto head. When you scour ebay enough you can find these things new cheaper. You just have to be patient.

Anyway, here is a shot of the tripod and my camera as well as another one I took using the tripod out at Siedman Park. Originally I went back there in the hopes of getting some better shots of those massive ant hills...but when I got there even though I had the tripod set up and ready to go anytime I tried to stand in one place long enough to adjust anything they started climbing up getting ready to bite.

I need to come super prepared. Like layers tucked in layers or something.

Well, Georgia's birthday party is fast approaching and since its her 21st (and because I messed up her 19th b-day plans...) I offered to make jello shots when I found out she wanted them.

So here is the first batch of jello in 2oz containers (they didn't have lids for the 1oz ones....). I ran out of room in my fridge so I'll have to make more tomorrow... So far we have jelly belly watermelon with vodka and orange with triple sec.

Anyway, happy b-day little sis!

If you cant tell, there is a tradition of visiting my cousins every Monday. They live close, and its good bonding for all involved. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before. Anyway, today I brought over some brownies I made from scratch and vanilla ice cream (my cousins are always so hospitable to me, its only fair to reciprocate).

We hung out and even had time for a little stroll in a nearby park. Then it was over to several bookstores, as both of them are avid readers. So here is a shot of my cousins and their little girl. Mom is doing the mom thing - spraying down the family to ward off mosquitoes.

After class, and in spite of the threat of rain, I went hiking at Siedman Park. I had intended to go through all the loops, but spent too much time messing around with my camera taking photos and realized I had been there for 3+ hours and needed to get back. So you will probably be seeing more shots from there later down the road.

Here's a shot of some fungus growing on a tree. If you're interested in more shots, you can find them here: Siedman Park

Today was the funeral. Those types of things are always hard, no matter your relationship to the deceased. A room full of depressed people breaking into bouts of crying can cause even the most stoic of people to choke up.

Here's a snapshot from my car of the funeral procession as we were driving through the cemetery.

Today after work I scrambled home, fed the cat, and loaded up the car for a trip to the other side of the state. My friend's mother died earlier this week and tonight was the visitation, and tomorrow the funeral.

After the visitation a large group of us (who are basically all family to me though not by blood) headed to Red Robins to dine and relax and prepare for the next day.

Here's a shot of my hand, my friend's daughter, and her bro.

Recently I started using Flickr more and joined a bunch of groups - one of which was a Grand Rapids photography group.

Well, one of the moderators proposed an instructional photowalk to go over some of the basics of camera settings, some composition techniques, etc. And, being noobish in my camera and especially composition (as was pointed out by a friend of mine - and he's right) I thought I should attend.

The walk was pretty helpful. Although I knew the basics on my camera for settings etc, its always helpful to have someone give you their perspective, or explain something in a way that maybe clicks better than what you'd read or been told elsewhere.

All in all the walk was a lot of fun. I didnt really manage to remember names - which is pretty bad. But listening to people talk and seeing how they shoot is helpful when you're learning yourself.

So here's a shot of one of Michigan's season. If you're interested in more shots from the event: 23rd July Photo Walk

Today was a rainy day. My intent to hike at a local park was put off for another day as I've no desire (or really any waterproof boots) to hike in the rain.

So I thought about all the things I should be doing - that I've been putting off. Working on my moms website, fixing some clothes, etc. And well, I left them be.

Instead I did some baking. Brownies from scratch with frosting from scratch (hence the strange covering on those brownies) as well as some home made rolls from the bread machine.

This, coupled with homework made for a relatively productive evening.


About an hour or so after these shots were taken my curious cat was scoping out one of the shelves in the kitchen. I suspect he was trying to get on top of it, but I'm not sure as I didnt see it. Still, the result was as if he had tried to.... Anyway, here's a link to a shot of what happened next to the shelf and everything on it...

Today I finally got to investigate Kent Trails. With the limited amount of time I have in the evening I only rode about 5 miles (from 84th street to 44th street) but it was still decent exercise. The terrain is pretty flat, so its not real hard to bike.

Anyway, as I was first riding north I thought that the curve of the road and the field looked familiar. That happens to me a lot and usually I'm wrong because I have a horrible sense of direction. This time however, I was right.

When I looped back down I realized why it looked like I had driven the area before. I had. Somehow I didn't notice on the first pass that I was right next to Sleepy Hollow Pet Cemetery ( Like literally. I could have just turned into their driveway. Thats the place where I had most of the ferrets cremeated (sans Atrix who died in Detroit and Bell who died before I ever moved to GR). Kinda cool, kinda weird.

You know those little posters apartment complexes put up or hand out? Yeah, I should read those. I would have realized that today was their "resident appreciation" day.

So this morning when I was leaving to go to work I was greeted by the three people who pretty much run the complex (its a small complex). They had a table all set out with drinks, food, napkins. So I stopped, had a chat, and got to choose a drink and a pastry (complete with napkin) to take to work for breakfast.

I <3 these people. Its awesome they even know my name.

I'm not going to lie. Today was a lazy day. I haven't had an uneventful Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon for that matter) in weeks. So I was determined to do hardly anything. Which is precisely what I did and it was great.

Toward the latter half of the afternoon I decided I would try my hand at home made hamburger buns. I found a recipe online and threw the stuff into the bread machine. Almost two hours later, what you see is what I got. I must have done something wrong or the recipe isn't very good.

I will have to find another one and try again...

Today I headed out to Pickerel Lake after class. It's been a few months since I've been there and its always interesting to see how the area changes as the season progresses. It was overcast today, and supposed to rain, but I was willing to risk it and hike the various trails throughout the area.

Of course, everything that was swampy and watery seemed to be bursting at the seams with life and plants. The grass had gotten taller and I could no longer see the lake in certain parts (so much for snagging photos of the swans)

While walking along the path I came across this tree pretty well reflected in the water below. I don't know if the picture really does the scene justice but it was pretty nice. For some reason, it reminds me of something I'd seen in a movie once. Of course, I have no idea what movie...

Photography is an expensive hobby. I shudder to think what more serious hobbyist (never mind professionals) pay after all is said and done with their equipment.

I was lucky enough to receive my lenses as a gift from my parents years ago, but the digital body I bought to replace the 35mm one was still a few hundred dollars and its not the best by far. Still, in the scheme of things filters are relatively cheap. So that's what I decided to invest in next.

The ease of filters is that they're cheap and replaceable. They cover the glass of your lens and protect it from damage as well as have the ability to do more depending on what you get. So pictured here are two types (one for each size out of the lenses I own) - UV and polarized. The UV is basically just to protect from damage (although it can reduce glare on surfaces as well) and the polarized well...have you ever worn polarized sunglasses? There ya go. Thats what those do.

Today I was determined to ride Kent Trails. I checked out the map online - verified it was open. I got home and packed a dinner and drove out to John Ball Zoo for one of the access points. Thats when I stumbled across "closed" signs and an updated map (that had not made its way to the interwebs) indicating that the northern portion of the trail was closed.

So I revised and decided to hit up Millennium Park, ride around there and if I had time (and it didnt rain) I would ride Kent Trails as well.

Well I never did get on Kent Trails. I spent waaay too much time taking pictures and goofing around at the park. Still, here's a shot of me putting my headphones back in after taking pics of an odd structure off the path.

Friends are a good thing to have. They lift you up when you're down, they are another perspective on an issue, a refreshing face, they are therapy.

Its always great to get together with Wendy and Shelly. They're spunky, funny, and tolerate my odd perspective on things. Unlike the usual Tres Amigos, however, we tried something different. A restaurant over in Caledonia closer to Wendy call Monteray Grill. It was pretty good and this time we managed to cement a recurring monthly "girls night."

All in all I'd say it was a good night.

Today's been one of those days. From waking up to a crafty cat stealing ferret food again, to watching him rip off a piece of my printer and go chomp on it hours later in anger and hunger, there have been some annoyances and I needed to get out of the apartment.

The problem is, I don't have a lot of time in the evening and I've been to nearly all the trails/parks in the area to ride for exercise NUMEROUS times. Or so I thought. There is apparently just about a mile away, a little park called Stanaback Park which has Breton Woods Trail in it.

So there I was able to take a few decent shots in the setting sunlight and here is one of them. Alan is right though - I need a macro lens to take good pics of stuff like this. Still, here is what I guess is a moth, eating from one of the flowers.

Per my usual weekly visit I was over at Dan and Sherry's today. Today was a little more laid back and slow - they were both recovering from food poisoning. Dan did perk up for a brief moment to replace some strings on one of his guitars, so I quickly snapped a shot before he collapsed and passed out.

So today my friend Alan came out to visit from the east side of the state. It's been years and years (14 maybe?) since I've seen him so it was good to catch up. He's got family in the area (that actually live within 5 miles of me) so he also got to hang with them as well. And I know how good it is to get to visit with friends and family when you make a long day trip. Its a win-win situation.

Anyway, apparently he has a street bike, which I always called crotch rockets and was corrected today that the proper term is street bike. It's been ages since I've ridden on one of those - since '05 I think. I've always liked the bikes and the gear, and he has a pretty nice bike and collection of gear including a snazzy backpack that a spare helmet fits into.

Now I know I don't look it in the picture, but I had a good time. It was a little cold and when I snapped the shot I was actually staring at something on the pavement.

Today I headed back out to Ken-O-Sha Park to search for wild strawberries. Don't ask; long story. Anyway, I had hoped to stumble across some off the paved trail. So after riding for a few miles on my bike (on the paved path as I don't have a mountain bike) I headed down a few of the spiraling network of paths throughout the park.

Now you have to remember, all throughout the park is water. In fact the park trail follows Plaster Creek. Because of this there a plethora of mosquitoes abound, buzzing about waiting to attack unsuspecting passersby. Today after spending a few hours there I walked away with about 20 bites on just my legs from wandering. Still, that is not as bad as it could have been.

Alas! I had hoped to have a pretty awesome shot of a mosquito sucking up blood off my leg, but the shot was in dim light and is out of focus so instead you get this. Here's a shot of one of the main unpaved paths in the setting sunlight.

Anyway, I should go buy some bug spray tomorrow.... It seems like I have a never ending cycle of mosquito bites from being out every night.

please forgive the picture....I will have to fix it with the borders but I'm too sleepy to do it now. Anyway, onto the main content of this post.

Today Amanda came over and finally had me watch a movie she's made reference to before online and off called Repo! The Genetic Opera ( Now anyone who knows me knows I cannot stand musicals. They drive me bonkers. The only one I could come close to tolerating was Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was amusing and the music wasn't terrible. Stuff like the Wizard of Oz - no.

Anyway, Repo is what she calls a "rock opera," and you know, it wasn't that bad. It had a crazy plot and delivery that could only really work well in a musical as opposed to attempting to take itself seriously. All in all I was amused and impressed with some of the singing.

So here's a shot of Amanda chilling on my couch while we watch the movie.

Well, this week has been very busy it seems. I've been running around from dealerships to look at cars to searching in vain for wild strawberries to photograph for my mom (so far no luck. Why are all the upicks over for these things?!) Combine that with school that I've been rather negligent about its hard to find time to go find replacement clothes.

Enough was enough today. I combined the daily exercise I force myself to take (and am slowly enjoying since I combine it with other things) to picking out some replacement clothes for items I've stained or no longer fit. Who knew loosing just a few lbs would drastically alter the way some of my clothes work. Thats what I get for buying baggy to begin with.

Anyway, I'll post a shot of the bike and bag chilling outside of goodwill. My phone is being angry at the moment so...yeah...

I've heard of deviantART before. Several times in fact. Most of the time I've just brushed it off and told myself I would look into it later.

Well, its finally later. I poked around a bit yesterday and opened an account finally. Today I uploaded several photos and looked at a lot of amazing art. DeviantART is a site where artists of different medium and skill levels can come together. Its an online community of artists, and its pretty amazing. And, when you register (even for the free basic membership) you get your own little address (mine -, akin to what you get through blogger as well as the ability to save favorites, buy prints, sell your prints, etc, etc.

So here's a shot I'm going to throw up there that I took today while riding.

Today was my first attempt at cooking Swedish meatballs. They were ok.... I didn't make them with onions, which to me makes them better. But because I'm used to eating them with onions they tasted a little differently.

Also, I mistakenly assumed that the cream sauce was drippings from frying the meatballs, so I'm missing cream sauce (I used a gravy packet to see how that turned out and it was ok but not the same!).

My next attempt will be sure to include actual, proper cream sauce.

I've been lazy these last few years. I used to have a safety deposit box years ago to put all sorts of important documents in and when I closed it I never opened another one.....

So yesterday I finally gathered up all of the paperwork I'd hate to loose should there be a fire or anything like that, and opened up another box.

Here's Leki scoping out the keys on my desk.

Well, this weekend was a good weekend for the most part, with one minor unforeseen issue. Well, I guess I shouldn't say unforeseen - my car is inherently unreliable and I'm always getting disapproving glaces from my dad when I say I've pushed out looking to replace it. Anyway, the issue was the further cracking of my coolant tank, causing it to spring a pretty sizable leak in the end and dump everything in about 30 minutes of driving.

Originally I had had this tank replaced last year in Grand Rapids. Several months later I stared having issues so I took the unit back and had it swapped, for free mind you (since I had paid for the work the first time), for another tank. Apparently the one they had installed had cracked. Well great, so did the replacement one....

However, since I was NOT in Grand Rapids where the work had been done, and it was a holiday (since this technically occurred on the 4th), Kati's dad was awesome enough to come out today and swap the tank the next day.

So here is a shot of him taking out the old tank and replacing it with the free one he got from Kati's older brother, who works in a scrap yard.

The car made it all the way home with no problems. Ty ty ty Gary & Paul.

So today was the 4th of July. And although my 4th's are usually pretty active (driving back and forth from Grand Rapids to Flint), this one was especially. Since I had stayed at my parents I was in town for the Huntington Woods parade, so I rode over there on my bike and hung out with the Hamilton's and Rays. That parade is like Halloween - you get a TON of candy.

So after that in the usual tradition I headed out Rob & Nikki's to celebrate. They usually have a big party with lots of stuff - volleyball, football, tons of food, tasty jello shots, a fire, and fireworks. Unfortunately I have an old and angry car, and it overheated just as I got to Rob and Nikki's. But Kati's dad is awesomesauce and will be fixing it tomorrow - he says its an easy fix. <3

So here is a shot I got while I was trying to get the kids playing with sparklers. You can see the ghost of a kid walking by to the right (which I'm sure you could photoshop but I haven't).

As a child if you knew me, you knew I loved Scooby. The dog talked, it was as big as a person, and very comical. I've wanted a Great Dane for a long time, and I have no doubt that part of it was influenced by Scooby.

Over the years I've been exposed to a few (not tons as it seems people are nervous about them due to their size or health issues). They've always been very gentle, loving, and have a need of physical contact. Honestly they seem to me in a lot of ways what I love in a dog, right down to their size.

Well my parents have a neighbor with two. One (not pictured here) is 10 and here is her 3 year old. Both of her dogs were dogs she rescued from different places. This little guy is a lot of amusement, but probably a lot of frustration as well because he's deaf. Still, the owner gets by and loves them tons. I swear every time I see those two I get a few inches closer to finally getting a Dane myself.

Ok not exactly, but you get the point. In celebration of my yearly tradition of hanging at Nicole's for the 4th, I'm baking mini-cheesecakes. And a lot. A double batch yields 96, but somehow i ended up with over 100.....

They're not topped yet, and wont be until right before her party, but you can see them there. They're not the most even, or perfect, but then neither am I. I decided to try two different bases, so some are vanilla wafers and some are oreo cookies.

I've been getting a hard drive error on my laptop for the last week. So, knowing that it meant the drive was failing I ordered a replacement.

With luck, the replacement arrived in time and the swap has been completed today. In fact, its an upgrade to a faster and larger HDD. Why replace when you can upgrade?

Here is the now dead 320GB HDD, resting on my desk. Pulling it out of the laptop finished it off.... We'll see if Dell will replace it as the unit is under warranty....