Long Overdue Update

Lots has happened in the past couple years. Left Florida and moved north to New Jersey. I recently spent some time fixing a bunch of issues with this blog and figured I would post some photos.

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Reached some goals…

IMG_0597I‘ve been trying to lose some weight since I moved to Florida in April and I finally hit my first goal. I started at a whopping 277 and set a target on 230, which I reached today!  47 pounds shed!

The trick for me was to exercise regularly. I began tracking activity with Runkeeper, first walking and then running/walking intervals. I ran my first 5K on June 14, and have done 2 more since.

In addition to losing the weight, I also ran a personal best pace time yesterday!

I’ve now established a second weight loss goal of getting down to 199 lbs. If I’m dedicated it should happen between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I feel good!

I’m also tracking calories using the iPhone and web app LoseIt. I tried myfitnesspal which is now owned by Under Armour, but found it more cumbersome and slow to enter nutrition informationmfp.

Even though the graphic above shows my progress using myfitnesspal, I don’t ever actually log in or use it to track anything. It receives automatic weight updates from my Fitbit Aria scale which tracks my weight daily, and automatically generates the cool progress graphics.

Another great benefit of all this activity is that my Withings Blood Pressure monitor has confirmed that my BP has been dropping steadily.

The Great American Bacon Race!

Fun event, but a little bit pricey. I guess they need to cover the cost of giving away bacon at two water/bacon stations during the run, and at the bacon party afterwards. Oh, and also pay for the big honkin’ heavy bacon finisher medallions.

The Orlando Eye

The Wheel at Icon Park opened on May 4, 2015 and I finally went to check it out!

My flight time was scheduled for 4:45 (tickets online in advance), but I received an email about an hour ahead saying it was ‘not in operation’ and that I could make use of my ticket anytime in the next 30 days. A quick call to them didn’t get me any more details or an estimate time of repair, but they did give me a direct number to call to check on status. So, I went for drinks at Bahama Breeze!

After several calls they finally said it was ready to fly again, and rescheduled me for 8:15.

It really is a neat ride.


Took a trip to Disney Epcot, haven’t been there in 20 [click for full size image]years or so. Had a great day just walking all around Bay Lake visiting all the countries.

Lunch at Tutto Italia Ristorante in Italy and dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse in the Yacht Club Resort. Beautiful water ponds in China and the Victoria Gardens in Canada.

Closed the evening with fireworks at the Disney Hollywood Studios.

The Frozen Fireworks! ↓

Having a beer with my little friend

He was under my table. He talked me into saving up to 15% on some great discount auto insurance.

A Day at Lake Eola and Fireworks!

[f/4, 1/50, ISO 400, 26 mm, with a NIKON D5500 and a 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.]

[f/4, 1/50, ISO 400, 26 mm, with a NIKON D5500 and a 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.]

[f/5.6, 1/500, ISO 200, 200 mm, with a NIKON D5500 and a 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6]

[f/5.6, 1/500, ISO 200, 200 mm, with a NIKON D5500 and a 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6]

A few weeks ago I was re-reading Tony Northrup’s great DSLR guide, How to Create Stunning Digital Photography. In the section on night photography he discusses his technique for getting pictures of fireworks and I decided to try it this year. His method is simple; Manual program, set ISO to 200, aperture to 5.6, shutter to 5 seconds, and focus to infinity. Lock a cable release open (after a few test shots) to take continuous 5 second exposures throughout the show. Depending on the venue, the aperture/ISO may need to be adjusted to allow in less light, especially as the finale approaches.

The location I chose was Lake Eola Park, the 23 acre home to the Centennial Fountain that hosts the City’s annual fireworks show. Also located in the park is the Walt Disney Amphitheater, which hosts many community events and various performances year round. Today there were several bands playing and the orchestra in the evening. The Red Bull Break Dancers also took the stage.

[f/11, 5.00, ISO 125, 70 mm, with a NIKON D5500 and a 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6]

[f/11, 5.00, ISO 125, 70 mm, with a NIKON D5500 and a 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6]

[f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO 200, 200 mm, with a NIKON D5500 and a 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6]

[f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO 200, 200 mm, with a NIKON D5500 and a 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6]

On the east side of the park is a Chinese pagoda, a Confederate States of America monument, and a playground. Each year some 130,000 people come to the area around the lake view the fireworks, so I arrived early at 3:30pm. I found a great spot right on the water and spent the afternoon with a nice young couple visiting from Germany.

The lake is home to various birds, turtles and other wildlife including the famous Eola Lake Swans. The population is limited to about 60 and is comprised of five species: Royal Mute (30-35), Australian Black (15), Whooper (8) and one each of Black Neck and Trumpeter. According to the published information, they generally get along, although there’s an interesting romantic/social dynamic at play—and even the occasional rubout. Two of the Whoopers brought in as intentional mates 15 years ago have never spoken to each other and stay on opposite ends of the lake. A mate was brought in for the Black Neck, but she rejected him, and then he started chasing baby swans. Bad idea. The Whoopers took him for a little ride, and now he sleeps with the fishes. I also saw turtles and birds fishing in the lake as evidenced by the photos. I have no idea what that thing is that is sticking its neck out of the water with the fish in its beak. When I took the picture I thought it was a snake but it clearly has a long beak.

The fireworks show was excellent and lasted about 30 minutes. Unfortunately I’ll need a wider angle lens next time to capture the action when I’m so close to the launch point.


Watermelon 5K – Independence Day

Got up early and drove north of downtown to the City of Winter Park for the Hunter Vision Watermelon 5K. There were over 3,300 runners and we all got free watermelon! I increased my run/walk interval to 3min/1min and it felt great. Beat my previous 5K time by 3:57.

After the run there was watermelon and bananas. I resisted the urge to join the watermelon eating contest or to dance at the stage.



Prep for 5K tomorrow


Had some weather during my carb loading…  Clouds are real, lightning and temp overlay via InstaWeather app.

I’m eating well…