My First Voltzy

Voltzy's Hamburger StandRick Volz, a.k.a. Voltzy, has been serving hot dogs and hamburgers in Moraine, Ohio, for twenty years. I know that because several newspaper articles mention it and because, when he found out that Saturday was my first time at his restaurant, Voltzy informed me that he had “been waiting twenty years for you to get your a$$ in here.” Even before that, a couple he had been talking with let me know that I needed to get a slaw dog. They’re only available on Friday and Saturday and I’d be foolish to pass up the opportunity. At some places you’re a stranger only once. At Voltzy’s it’s less.

Voltzy's Hamburger StandI didn’t want to look foolish but I had set out for a hamburger so, instead of the ‘burger and fries I’d been thinking of, my order became a ‘burger and slaw dog and a mug of Frostop draft root beer. The dog was good but the mustard was a little too hot for my admittedly wimpy taste. The ‘burger I ordered was actually called the “Voltzy” (cheese, ham, & onions) and it was great. So was the root beer. The guy who followed me also ordered a slaw dog plus a patty melt with an egg. Voltzy’s menu is an interesting one.

Voltzy'a Hamburger StandVoltzy'a Hamburger StandFor its first eighteen years Voltzy’s Hamburger & Root Beer Stand operated out of a trailer. I know I drove right by it many times during those years but had never noticed it. Only after a permanent building (dedicated to Rick’s mother, Betty Ann) was constructed in 2009 did it even catch my eye. It was only a year or so ago that I figured out it was a hamburger joint that I ought to try. But I don’t pass the spot all that often and, even in a real building, Voltzy’s, sitting back from the street, isn’t a real attention grabber. Earlier this summer, I saw a poster like the one Voltzy is pointing to while standing in line at the Hamburger Wagon and gave the place a little more priority.

I finally made it and I’m sure I’ll be back. That it beat out the Hamburger Wagon in a head-to-head contest is understandable. I personally really like the Wagon’s little fried ‘burgers but acknowledge that part of the attraction is watching them prepared then walking around town or down by the river while munching. Compared to the Wagon’s one item menu, Voltzy’s menu is huge and, as I said, interesting. The Voltzy isn’t the only sandwich with a name. There’s the HollyGirl triple cheeseburger, the Murph double cheeseburger, and the Grossman grilled bologna just to name a few. Many of the hamburgers are also offered in a “hog” version using a patty three or four times the size of the regular,

When it was still operating in the trailer, Voltzy called his establishment “Montgomery County Ohio’s only 7 Star Mobile Dining Facility”. I failed to ask what he calls it now.

My Gear – Chapter 13
Nikon D40

Nikon D40The two Panasonics were very capable cameras. They and cameras like them were sometimes referred to as “super zooms” and sometimes as “bridge” cameras. That second name comes from the view that they “bridge the gap” between simple point-and-shoot cameras and more versatile SLRs with interchangeable lenses and such.  I guess that’s a pretty good view because that’s exactly what the FZ8 did for me. It led me straight down the road and right across the bridge to SLR land.

I had been in SLR land before. Back in the ’70s and ’80s I owned a couple of Olympus OM-1s. The second one had sat idle for awhile when it, like the first one, was stolen. I didn’t replace it. I remained camera-less for several years then decided that I needed to take some pictures while traveling in Florida. That’s when I bought the little Nikon zoom film camera that I mentioned using for “real” pictures along side my first digital.

Previous My Gear installments have told the tale of my climb (or descent) from the barely usable 0.35MP Agfa to the very usable 5.0 then 7.2MP Panasonics. Using the Panasonics reminded me a little of those OM-1 days and I started thinking about digital SLRs. One friend had recently bought a Nikon D50, another a Nikon D40x, and both had brought out a little camera envy in me. The D40 was Nikon’s entry level SLR. It came out near the beginning of 2007 and something called the D40x arrived just a few months later. I believe I even considered these cameras when I bought the FZ8 Panasonic in July of of that year but the price difference was still a bit much for me.

The D40x was a premium 10MP version of the 6MP D40 whose introduction pushed down on the price of the D40 and my visions of detachable lenses were further fueled by some of the deals being offered. Although I figured it was still a year or two in the future, I decided that my next camera would likely be an SLR. That’s about when I dropped the FZ8.

It’s for certain that I didn’t drop it on purpose but there could be some doubt about the purity of the thoughts that followed. It didn’t immediately occur to me that the damage might be covered  by warranty. Then, once it did, I had to get authorization and send the camera off to possibly be repaired. I am, of course, scanning camera ads the whole time. I had a road trip approaching and I convinced myself that I absolutely had to have a good camera for it and that the Panasonic would probably not be returned in time. I was wrong about the Panasonic. It arrived in good working order the day before I left on the trip. But I was right on the other thing. I am totally convinced that I needed the Nikon D40 that I purchased.

For $791.40, I got the D40 body, 18-55mm & 55-200mm zoom lenses, and a small flash. The Nikon was bigger and heavier than the Panasonic but not horribly so. Though I was at the very bottom of Nikon’s tall line of SLRs, I was once again in SLR land.

The little flash, a Nikon Speedlight SB-400, was also at the bottom of the Nikon line. It wasn’t as powerful as its pricier siblings but it was a bit more powerful than the D40’s popup flash (GN 21 vs. 17), sat a little further above the lens, and offered bounce capabilities. It was also small enough to fit in a pocket or into a belt bag along with an extra lens.

Today’s Digital SLR land is quite a bit different from the film SLR land I remember. In the 1980s, automatic exposure was kind of costly and not always satisfactory. Auto focus was an exotic blip on the leading edge of photography. Today these features and a lot more automatic wizardry are present in virtually every camera and cell phone made. The vast majority of situations are handled quite well by a modern camera running on full auto pilot and that includes SLRs. The manual controls are nice when you need them. You don’t need them much.

My Gear – Chapter 12 — Lumix DMC-FZ8


I Surrender

When I started this blog I committed to a post every Sunday. I’m currently on a road trip and when I left home I knew that maintaining the trip journal would take most of my time but that I would have to fill at least three Sundays before the trip ended. I had two posts ready and a couple more that were maybe 75% done. I hoped to find time to complete one of those before week three came around. What was I thinking? Not only didn’t I finish another blog post, I’ve been as many as three days behind in maintaining the journal. I’m currently about two days behind. So this is all I got. It is, technically, a blog post so I have, in a weasely sort of way, kept my commitment. But it is entirely content free and represents not success but surrender.

I give up on making a meaningful Sunday post this week. I hope to do better next week.

My Apps – Chapter 3
Garmin MapSource

MapSourceI started using Garmin’s MapSource when I got that first GPS back in 1999. That Garmin GPS III did not support routing in any meaningful sense so I don’t know if contemporary versions of MapSource did or not. For me and the GPS III, MapSource served only to load the unit with maps and points-of-interest covering my immediate needs. The limited capacity of the GPS III meant I had to do this every day or so. Occasionally less, Occasionally more. With the acquisition of the Garmin Quest in 2006, I started using MapSource to download routes.

I also used it — briefly — to create routes. As I admitted in My Apps Chapter 2, exactly when and why DeLorme’s Street Atlas became my router of choice is lost to history. It seems I first used it sometime in 2001 but I can’t say whether or not it was an instant hit.  Whatever the history, by 2006 I was a pretty solid fan of Street Atlas’ user interface. But I needed to use MapSource to get data to and from the Quest and, since it apparently contained some very capable route management features, I tried dumping DeLorme and switching completely to Garmin. It didn’t work.

I’ve gone through enough software updates in my life to understand that there is always some resistance to change and that learning something new requires some effort. I tried telling myself that I disliked the MapSource interface only because it was different. This was certainly true to a certain extent. Some things only seemed more difficult with MapSource because I was unfamiliar with it. But some things, such as moving a route’s endpoints, I believe really were more difficult. And there were a few things that simply couldn’t be done with MapSource. An example of this is the simultaneous display of multiple routes which I’d grown used to with Street Atlas and which just wasn’t possible with MapSource. So I went back to plotting routes with Street Atlas then exporting them to a GPX file which was easily imported to MapSource for transfer to the Quest. The exporting and importing was very simple and quick. It was also hazardous.

The map data used by the two products was not identical. A plotted point that was right in the center of a DeLorme road might miss the Garmin version of that road by several feet. That wasn’t a big deal most of the time but sometimes it was a real disaster. The clearest example is a point in the west bound lane of a divided highway for DeLorme that shows up in the east bound lane for Garmin. When Garmin GPS receivers announce the next action, they usually provide a hint of the following one as well. Taking a route directly from DeLorme to Garmin once caused the Quest to tell me “In 500 feet make a U-turn then make a U-turn.” Around cloverleaves and other complex interchanges, a route could really get mangled.

The “solution” was to  tweak the route in MapSource to match Garmin’s maps before transferring it to the GPS unit. Yes, it’s a pain but it’s a small pain and one I’ve decided I’m willing to endure in order to use Street Atlas for route creation. I know that not everyone would agree.

Regarding the maps themselves, I’ve discovered plenty of errors in both DeLorme and Garmin. Same with Google Maps which are starting to find their way into my life. I am not an authority and have no opinion on which has the most or worst errors. The bottom line is that I’ll be dealing with Garmin Maps and their support software as long as I’m dealing with Garmin GPS hardware and I’ll be doing that until something better for solo road-tripping comes along.

My Apps – Chapter 2 — First Routing Programs