Saturday, May 31

Circles and Clusters

This is only partially about work. First off, though...

Hey, Idaho! Would it be too much trouble to put numbers on your street signs? Heaven forbid that someone from out of state would need to determine whether you were going up or down in numeric order. Hmm?

Another thing - how's about putting airport signs up on other signs rather than on just the interstates? There's cute little airplane signs on I-84 and I-184, but nowhere else.

And what's the deal with State Street going east-west? Sure, here in Utah, Center Street in every podunk town can be either east-west or north-south, but State is always north-south! How are you supposed to find the seedy...

Naw, that's only a Utah thing.

Got home from Idaho tonight after two-and-a-half poopy days with nothing to do but babysit a server in Boise. And circle- and cluster- variations galore. Nice to know every one thought of every thing that could possibly go worng.

Maybe things will turn around, though. I have ten separate lottery tickets with four different games to play - the Idaho Lottery calls it The Works - along with the one Powerball ticket from the Idaho service call from a couple weeks ago when Marilee and I went up there.

Wouldn't mind calling in rich...

Thursday, May 29


Yeah, I'm in Idaho. Not much to do just now, but at least there's free internet.

I had expected this trip to be a quick one; hell, I expected to sleep in my own bed tonight.

So here I am, without a change of clothes, no toiletries, just what I have on, and the complimentary "Little Bars of Soap". Someone could write a story about little bars of soap.

Oh wait...

Wednesday, May 28

Road Trip

Actually, no.

Off to Boise (again, different location) in the morning, this time they're flying me. Marilee doesn't get to go, sad to say. We really, really, want to take in the Lucky Peak park; I even saved four bucks this time.

My stress level is skyrocketing lately, can't imagine why. Partly it has to do with all the traveling - this month alone in excess of four-thousand driven miles for work.

And the other part? Don't make me go there. I'd made a doctor's appointment for today, and secretly hoped that my frame-of-mind (and blood pressure) would be high enough that he'd see there really was a problem. The Boise call came in just an hour before my appointment; turned out that I didn't have to worry about that.

Just a bit of pharmacological influence was necessary. he said.

But I can't help but think about that line in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier that has Kirk saying to McCoy: "Damn it, Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!"

OK, so I don't need pain, but yes, take that pain away and I'll become a lifeless automaton like the rest of these people I work for.

We'll see...

Monday, May 26

Passionate Editing

There's a quotation by HG Wells that I've come to enjoy that goes "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." That assumes quite a bit - that whatever you're editing qualifies as a draft.

I've noticed something about other folks' blogs - many of them are written with at least a bit of flair, and there's evidence of editing. Lots of editing.

That's pretty much the way that I write, blog or otherwise. Since I never learned how to type - it's a fast hunt-and-peck - I tend to type at a feverish pace, and go back after I've completed a section or paragraph to see what I've mistyped. Or turned into mush with my random thoughts. Like just then; I'll likely go back and fix that crap.

Or not.


Today's our 2-year wedding anniversary. Marilee and I. The Pastor said at the time that if he should happen to stop for a moment, it wouldn't be because he was pausing for effect, but because a tour bus was passing by and there would be too much noise.

We got married on the Strip in Las Vegas. At the Little White Wedding Chapel. And, yes, he did pause for effect wait for a tour bus to pass near the end of the ceremony.

The last two years have been a collaborative effort. Any time two people get together for a project - in this case a life project - one hopes things go along smoothly, without too much friction. Always ask for the other's opinion. Accept each others' faults. Suggest options.

And change the color of your blog's logo.

We're still working on that last part. But we've got a lifetime to work that out.

Sunday, May 25


Stealth Princess.

Yeah, riiiight.

(Note: this is the first "official" photo with the refurbished Olympus!)

Saturday, May 24

Land of Misfit Toys

The standard Princess bark has a tonal quality of something akin to a growl coming to a crescendo of a standard run-of-the-mill dog bark. r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-RARK. Apparently, in her history of being a family member, to being an abandoned dog at a doggy day care, to being a foster, and finally becoming "ours", some folks were turned off by those sounds. We just think it's one of her endearing qualities.

Bambi, on the other hand, well, don't look at her crooked. Don't stare. She has a yappy, little dog bark similar to every other yappy little dog bark. You know the type. Also an endearing quality. And she's ours.

Marilee and I were talking about those qualities this morning; we both agreed that no-one would ever want either of them, that they are a perfect match for us. Hell, we both looked at each other and realized we found each other when no-one wanted us, either.

Marilee, myself, Bambi, and Princess could be in a poster for a all-expense-paid trip to the Land of Misfit Toys.

Boarding on track nine...

Friday, May 23

Why I Blog

Credit Sherb. She was my 10th-through-12th Grade High School Journalism teacher at Tustin High. Back when Journalism was an actual course in the English Department, not an elective as it is nowadays.

Wait, no, it goes back farther than that - it was Mrs. Hurte at SCMA. That was my real first start in Journalism. 9th grade. I was a proofreader. That was the first ste...

No, wait. Farther than that. Way farther. Like the mid-sixties. I don't recall how extensive the reporting was, or even if we had a circulation of more than two or three. But it was a start. A couple of kids writing about the goings-on on Guinea Drive in what was then La Puente, later to become North Whittier, then finally just Whittier. We were writing about the new school under construction "around the corner". Said "...a new school is being billt..." Proofreader indeed.

I've always enjoyed writing about stuff, mostly about factual things; I suck at fanciful, fictional stuff. I coulda been a [fill in the blank] writer, but I have no imagination for [again, fill in the blank]. Yeah, let your mind wander on that for a bit... I'll wait.

Interestingly enough, I'm not the only one from those days of writing about Tustin High goings-on to have a knack for Journalistic endeavors - at least a couple of old friends have gone into Journalism, one quite successfully I might add. I do think about those old editors and reporters on the Broadcaster from time to time, without being icky. One works for the LA Times; another is/was a teacher of Journalism herself, as well as a reporter for some paper in Ohjo.

Me? I'm just a hack writing about animals and pets for CAWS, and of course this here blog. My little slice of Journalistic heaven.

Sherb would be proud.

Tuesday, May 20

No Charge

It's baaaaaack!

And no charge. No hits, runs, or errors. And no bill.

They did fix the Olympus under the extended warranty I was supposed to have gotten about a year ago, when all the other users out there were having the same problem. Primarily purple pictures.

OK, so I have it back; I've put the old strap back on and re-attached the tethered lens cap. Even found my old two-gigabyte Microdrive and even it still works.

Do I have pictures yet? Not quite. Between getting it back and just now - 10pm - I've only been taking pix of the light over the family room and pix of Bambi and Princess. Not award-winning, mind you... Stay tuned for those.

In the meantime, I need to do some studying.

I have to re-learn my Olympus C5050Z, back from the dead!

Sunday, May 18

The Olympus Cometh

Got an email on my return from Idaho - my Olympus C5050 is already on the way back. No email other than to say it's coming. No phone call either. And no charge on my credit card. There's several reasons, I'm guessing - either not repairable - which would be counterintuitive since I said to repair it for the $185 flat fee, or it was repaired/replaced for free due to the drippy purple photos.


UPS Quantum Ship says it should be here by Tuesday.

We'll see - one more update perhaps?

Unexpected Trips

Had an unexpected trip to Idaho Friday night - specifically to Caldwell that night then Boise Saturday morning. Yes, I know Boise's first as the freeway drives, but that's the was it was planned. For me.

Yeah, it was for work. So I won't write about that part. What this is about isn't work related. So don't ask.

Suffice to say we rolled into Caldwell later than I had expected - about 11pm. It woulda been sooner but for freeway construction in Ogden and the out-of-the-way location of the job in Caldwell. Made for a great example of why I need a GPS device. The next day in Boise cemented that fact as we drove past the FedEx pickup location at Boise's airport not once or twice, but thrice.

Friday night (rather, early Saturday morning) we opted not to shop for a motel, but to find one that looked decent enough from the outside, and was a national chain. Marilee pointed out one called the Holiday Motel somewhere near Caldwell, but I said "No no-tell motel for us". The red-neon sign lit for all to see (from space, too, I'd bet) made it all the more unlikely, not to mention we'd already passed the exit and the next one was a mile away.

A Sleep-Inn was our choice; we'd made it to Nampa by then. That late (early), the only room available was a smoking room with only a full bed, but it was somewhere to sleep. And sleep I did.

Morning brought a raging headache a la hangover but I'd had nothing to drink. Nothing including coffee! I'd had a caffeine headache!

Oh gawd that last bit was boring. But so was the drive. Very thankful I had Marilee with me - we travel well together. We went to an Idaho state park, called Lucky Peak. Really nice family-oriented beach for sunning or floating for hours. We'd thought that maybe hanging out on the cool grass would be appealing, amongst the geese and goslings, but since we didn't have the cash for the $4 entrance fee, we turned around and decided on heading home.

Uneventful was the return trip, though as a side note, Idaho tourism would do well to add some travel rest stops before or near their state parks. Two attempts to stop for pit stops were met with screaming kids playing in the bathrooms at a couple gas stations in those areas. I can't emphasize how annoying that is when you're out on the road like that. We were happy to get home in one piece.

Hopefully next trip will include a bit more planning and not having anything whatever to do with work!

Monday, May 12

My camera search - the saga continues

I was really heartsick when my Olympus died. Dollar signs began dancing in my head, since the thing was out of warranty. But months later, when I found out that there was an inherent flaw in the camera, that most if not all of your photos would come out with a drippy, purple tinge, I hoped that it would be fixed for free.

Alas, that didn't happen, since mine was not in the proper serial number range for the free fix.

So my trusty Olympus sat, unused, in a drawer. I'd come across it on occasion, looking back fondly on all those photos I'd taken. I'd think "Not yet. It's not time."

Unused for a couple months, I really needed to get another camera, and settled for a Kodak of all things. But it just wasn't the same, even with a couple extra megapixels.

A few months became a year, and still it sat. It's now been 17 months, and it was time. I'd already conceded defeat at getting a dSLR, and though I could have gotten the Canon G9, I'd still really be settling for something I really didn't want. Or need. I wanted my Olympus back!

So I finally called Olympus today to find out how much it was going to cost for the repair. I braced myself for the inevitable...

"Flat rate, $185"

Hmmmm? "Did you say only a hundred-eighty-five dollars?"

"Yes, sir, flat rate"

And so it goes. Shipping it off today. In the meantime, I'll find something else to occupy that space in that drawer.

Sunday, May 11

I love Cheerios... with MILK

The truth is out - I love Cheerios. There's just something about the texture that really gets me going. Not that crunchy texture right after the milk has gone in, no, it's that texture just before soggy. There's a grittiness to it. Mixed in with the cold milk, oh, I need my Cheerios RIGHT NOW.

We went to Costco yesterday; Marilee was going to a jewelry party last night and was the designated snack-bringer. We got those Brownie-Bites that are so decadent you can't eat just one (or seven) and fresh strawberries. Yum. And I got Cheerios.

And no milk.

I commented after we got home that we should have gotten milk, since there was less than a gallon left in the refrigerator. Oh well, I'd just get some tomorrow.

This morning, I got that familiar craving for a mega-bowl of those wonderful toroids of reconstituted oats, filled my bowl to overflowing, and reached for the...

Who the hell leaves a tablespoon-sized quantity of milk in a gallon milk jug!?

Crunchy isn't the texture I'm looking for!

Crunchy was the texture of the contents of the leftover Brownie-Bites - someone had left the lid off the container and had consumed a few more than he should have taken. What's more, he arranged the remaining Bites so as to make it look like a full layer.

I resolved myself to having several Bites with my morning coffee, but would have been much happier with milk.

Anyone want a 15-year-old?

Saturday, May 10

Princess' Follow-Up

"For a grouchy ol' girl, she's doing great!"

Her blood tests came back earlier this week, and other than a bit of elevated liver activity due to her ear infection, everything came out looking normal.

She's been on thyroid meds for some time, and that part of the blood test shows she'll likely be on those forever. But that's a good thing - at least the meds are doing their job.

In other news about Princess, she sheds like crazy twice a year; we've only had her a short time, but realized that we were going to need something to take care of all that hair for Spring. After seeing a recommendation for a product called the Furminator, I picked one up today at Petsmart. A bit spendy at about $60, it honestly looks like any other shedding blade. A quick swipe this afternoon suggests this isn't your run-of-the-mill shedding tool.

Once I get done de-shedding Princess, we'll try it on Sundance. That'll be the big test!

Tuesday, May 6

Oh God, no!! NOOO!!!

Didn't do my homework.
Didn't ask the right questions.
Even downloaded the manual beforehand to read up on the damn thing.
Missed one very important non-feature.

"Photographs can not be framed using the monitor."

Wait, all you dSLR devotees - "Didn't you know that?"

No, I did not. Never mind that the box shows a vibrant image on the display sans image data like you see in the manual. Never mind that I've been using digital cameras since 1997, and all those digital cameras allowed that. Jeez! What's the whole damn point of having a huge display on the back of the camera, if not to compose the picture before you take it? Only for review (which, by the way, Nikon refers to as preview) of the image after you take the photo?

I'm pissed. Not because they don't mention it much on the box or in the manual, or anywhere else for that matter - if it doesn't support a feature, do they really need to spell it out anywhere? Does a car manufacturer need to mention that the car doesn't fly?

OK, yes, I know what the mechanics are in the body of a traditional SLR camera. There's a reason why there's a momentary blackout in that traditional viewfinder, when the mirror swings out of the focal plane. But fer chrissakes, this is a digital camera!

It's getting returned tonight. That Canon Powershot G9 is looking better. But not before I read the whole damn manual.

Monday, May 5

The search ended before it even began

Normally, when there's a Part One of a search for something, there's likely to be a Part Two. Not this time.

I went to Costco today. I was hungry, but not so much for a couple slabs of pepperoni pizza, but for the stuff in the electronics section. Wandered around glancing at the HD TV's and laptops. Walked past the MP3 players and stereo systems. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted it - the object of my desire...

Since I began looking for the ideal camera, I had several criteria in mind, not the least of which was price. At least ten megapixels. Comfortable in the hand. Easy to maneuver. Not many bells and whistles, just something that has a decent auto mode, but still has manual capability, including focus.

My old Olympus C5050 had those criteria, but is no longer produced. It had manual abilities, but focus was from a menu, as was aperture and shutter speed. I do miss that camera, especially the articulating LCD display. If I could just find a camera that had enough stuff, I could look past the cool LCD display...

I'd been looking at the Canon Powershot G9, but after really shopping, I started considering a digital SLR. I considered Canon's Rebel XTi and Xsi. A few of Olympus' models. I'd always wanted a Nikon, but the price just was never there, until I sated my hunger tonight...

The pangs of hunger began to ebb at lunch. I'd stopped in front of the Nikon D60; no sooner had I picked it up and began to cradle it in my hands, I remembered that feeling. There's just something about an SLR. It just feels right. It's not so much the weight, but the shape. Every other camera I'd considered could be handled in one hand. But the feel of an SLR is such that you just have to grab it with one hand and cradle the lens in the other. Sure, you can hold an SLR and shoot with one hand, but...

I suddenly realized someone had stopped next to me - it was a Costco employee. Now, honestly, I don't take kindly to employees of warehouse stores intruding into something that was affecting me in this way. I felt, well, it was the whole "experience" of holding an SLR again. Then it happened - the guy said "Feels great, doesn't it?" I heard myself say "Oh God, yes!"

Marilee and I returned to Costco after work; my new Nikon is sitting here peacefully next to me. I'll put it to bed and play with it tomorrow, after recharging our batteries.

Sunday, May 4

Digital Camera Search Part One

Lately I've been given the opportunity to buy a new digital camera. I've had several, which were honestly all impulse purchases, but this time I get to shop for one.

Circa 1998 was a Logitech B&W camera, held 32 pictures, and you lost the pix if the batteries wore down completely. Until I got new batteries, I was taking 32, rushing home, downloading, and rushing back. Ugly as sin were those B&W "photos", measuring a massive 376x284 - in today's parlance, that's a tenth of a megapixel.

Shortly thereafter, a helluva deal came my way in the form of a Casio QV10A color camera. A whopping 320x240, this one was even less at .07 megapixel (is that 70 millipixels?), but at least it was color.

Around 2000 I knew someone who had a bit more disposable income than I who had bought an Olympus D460L - a whole megapixel, and able to suck in so much light that I just had to have one, but alas, not just yet. For it was about that time that NMHP came along and issued cameras to all the groups. That camera was another Olympus model, the D360L, and was my companion for the next couple of years.

Around 2002, I had acquired some extra cash and found my next camera - on sale somewhere - an Olympus D490Z. Two megapixels, and just as much light-gathering capability as the other two I'd played with. I still have this one.

More disposable income later, I threw caution to the wind and plunked down several hundred greenbacks for my first serious digital camera, the Olympus C5050Z. Oh my God. What a camera. These babies were in a class all by their lonesome. We'd reached the big time with five megapixels! I still have this one too, but it threw a fit about a year and a half ago - look for a later post on digital camera repair.

As a stop-gap, I got a Kodak consumer camera. At seven megapixels you'd think it would be better than the old five megapixel, but don't go there. Suffice to say it gets me by.

So... Marilee and I just re-financed the house, and I get to buy a new camera. dSLR or ProSumer (love that word)? Expensive or really expensive? So I've been shopping - online, of course. And since I can no longer run down to CompUSA to actually hold one, it'll be even harder to choose. Oh, I could go down to Pictureline and handle the gamut (then buy elsewhere of course) or take my chances weight un-hefted. Don't think so.

All I want is something that fits nicely in my hand, not too heavy, has a hot-shoe, takes SD cards, easy to carry, and passes muster from Marilee, since she won't let me buy a cheap camera. Gotta love her.

Saturday, May 3

Princess' Vet Visit

Princess had her first official vet visit today, at least since she's been our dog. She did well - so much so that the only snarl she made toward the vet was when he was perusing her canines. Not even when he took her temperature - imagine how you'd feel.

OK, so I had never taken that large a dog to the vet before, and was a bit concerned just how to hoist her onto the examination table. So while I had seen a hydraulic lift in an auto shop, I had never seen one in a veterinarian's office. Very impressed.

He cleaned her ears; they had a bit of infection therein - got drops for her ears for the next week or so until our next visit.

Blood tests, overdue vaccinations, and an overall geriatric exam (she is 12 after all) and we were out of there. $222 lighter in the wallet. Spring in my step.

She was quite exhausted afterwards, and has been sleeping most of the evening already. Pictured with her brand-new chewie, she's quite the picture of contentment.

The Mind of a Rat Terrier

Bambi was getting major lovins from Marilee this morning. While most dogs would have been happy with that, we're talking Bambi here. She's a Rat Terrier, with emphasis on the Rat.

Rat Terriers were bred to dispatch rats - one Rat Terrier is reported to have killed over 2,501 rats in a span of only seven hours in a rat infested barn. Having a propensity to kill such vermin also gives this breed the ability to sniff out other vermin, like food wrappers from Taco Bell

(OK, so that's a stretch of the imagination - bear with me.)

So anyway, Bambi continued to get her lovins. And occasionally stretched and re-arranged herself, and did this a few more times so that she ultimately was within reach. Nose ever twitching, she almost attained her goal, totally engrossed, even with the camera near, she didn't even flinch when the flash went off. Needless to say, she never got to the wrapper, but she sure tried.

Friday, May 2

The Vernal Trip

Did the Vernal trip yesterday; there was still snow, but at least I could see where I was going. Left around 8:30am, got up there around noon. My schedule was changed for me upon completion; had a call in Provo to do before heading home.

So, of course, the ideal way to go to Provo from Vernal is to head down Provo Canyon from Heber City. OK, so it has been forever since I've been down Provo Canyon - in fact, I've never been down the canyon, only up it. Last time even in the canyon was, oh, jeez, fifteen years ago.

All I remember from those days was a windy, unkempt, one-ish or two-ish lane highway. All I've ever seen about the construction was that it has always been under construction. Only saw one construction crew; otherwise, OMG... what a joy to drive it!

I generally avoid going to Provo because it is, well, Provo. Why else to go to Provo but for lousy 7-11 coffee. But now...

Oh yeah - yes, I did take pix of the snow, but the very consumer camera I got last year to replace my defective purple-enhanced Olympus C5050 chose to focus on the cracks in the windshield and not the cloudy snow scenes I wanted to shoot. Really miss my Olympus...

Thursday, May 1

Snow - again

Didn't post last night, but not for lack of something to write about.

From about 8:30pm onward, I was pretty much terrified. A service call had come in for Vernal about 6:30pm. After dinner and parts gathering, I didn't get actually ON the freeway until 8:30pm.

Got to the mouth of Parley's around 8:45, then the fun (and the snow) began. Didn't even get to East Canyon before I realized this was a really bad idea. Couldn't see the lines on the road. Confusing the issue, the snow was coming in at an angle that was slightly off-kilter from the direction I was traveling. Made up my mind at the summit that Kimball Junction was as far as I was going.

Pulled off at McDonald's, did all the necessary phone calls, then headed back down. The trip downhill wasn't much better, though I did make it home OK, I wasn't the only one all over the road coming down the canyon. Was in bed by 10:30pm.

Checking Commuterlink this morning confirmed my suspicions; at 6:30am, the PLOWS hadn't yet been up that way, let alone what would have been further on, on Highway 40.

Leaving this morning instead. I'll take the camera - will take some "safe" photos from the road.
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