Saturday, November 27, 2010

Miscellaneous: Odd Facade

I walk by this row of houses on the way to my son's school on mornings we get up early enough to walk--it's more than a mile each way. They've always struck me as odd. Here, the garage has completely taken over from the front door. No attempt has been made to create a sense of welcome. Guests aren't a consideration. Even the people who live here have been subordinated to their cars. Practical perhaps, but these houses always make me uncomfortable.

Planted along the street are several tall palm trees. I've always wondered if they were part of the development or leftovers from earlier landscaping. I've heard it was fashionable here in Victorian times to plant a pair of palm trees in front of your house and that the plantings were intended as a sign of welcome. I've never been able to confirm this, but I believe it's true because old houses in the area (especially in towns like Sebastopol and St. Helena, and in the older sections of Santa Rosa and Petaluma) often do have a pair of palms in front, usually straddling the driveway, and because in open country, an old house is sometimes discernible a very long way off because of its paired palms. I've seen a pair of palm trees, or just one, at the head of empty lots in positions that make it easy to imagine where a long-gone house once stood.

And so, I wonder about the palm trees that are planted seemingly haphazardly along the street here. They don't seem to have any relationship to the garage facades that now dominate the view. Perhaps they mark the entrances of a line of older houses that once stood along this street. I don't know. But I wonder about it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Miscellaneous: Fiverr Continues to Grow

Earlier this year, I discovered Fiverr, an interesting Web site that allows people to post "gigs." These are small jobs that people offer to do for five dollars. That's the gimmick; every job has to be offered for a fiver. I've been watching the site develop. I thought it a great idea from the outset. Evidently, I'm not alone. The site has continued to grow, and there are now too many gigs to count, but at least the Fiverr administrators have added new categories that make it easier to find what you're looking for--or maybe what you didn't know you were looking for. Some of what's on offer is pointless, some is whimsical good  fun, some is more serious. What continues to astound me is that a lot of what people offer for a mere five dollars is clearly a stunningly good value.

To take just one example, Silverz (her screen name) will take any photo you send her and remove the background for you for five dollars (click here). I've been using Photoshop since version 2.0. This is something I could do myself, but it's tedious work, time-consuming, and easy to botch. If you don't know how to do it, your only option is to go to a printer or similar store where they'll charge you a hefty hourly fee to do this sort of thing. Look at the detail in the hair here (photo above). Five dollars? Next-day delivery? Really? Brilliant! I'm very glad to see the Fiverr marketplace thriving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tidbits: Clear Weather for Travel

Following storms in the past few days, the weather has cleared. Cold, but a beautiful day today. Perfect day for traveling. Perfect day for leaving, for arriving, for taking photos of pretty things along the way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Miscellaneous: More Autumn Color

Walking today, I looked down to find this pretty leaf at my feet, plastered to the pavement still wet with last night's rain. I looked around but couldn't find the tree, a tulip tree, anywhere. Where did this drop in from?

Miscellaneous: Autumn Color

Not far from my house is a winding, hilly street lined with trees that turn to brilliant red and orange every autumn. The trees have red berries much relished by bluebirds (which otherwise aren't around much). Even wild turkeys fly up into the trees to get these berries. Late in the afternoon, the setting sun can make the whole street seem like it's lined with torches. Beautiful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Miscellaneous: Rain (November 20-21, 2010)

Another storm passed through yesterday and last night. We got an additional 1.3 inches here. That brings our total for the 2010-2011 rainy season to 8.9 inches, which is well more than two inches ahead of normal for this date and a quarter of the way to the average annual rainfall for Santa Rosa, which is 31.01 inches.

[Update: On the night of the 22nd, another 0.3 inches fell and it looks like more is on the way. Our total is now 9.2 inches.]

[Update: Since then, another 0.7 inches, to bring the total to 9.9 inches.]
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