Monday, May 31

The Remote Was All Mine

Over the last two weeks, I was in complete control. OF THE REMOTE.

Total, complete bliss.

No TiVo in sight. At least the selections were better; I even had free HBO. Movies from dusk to dawn. If only I could stay up late, that is.

Anyway.

Late one night, just before turning in, I was only half listening to the TV when a commercial came on for the new 2011 Ford Fiesta. I only caught the last twenty seconds of the 30-second commercial - it was kind of funny, with some neat graphics, and, during those fleeting moments, wondered why the commercial had caught my attention in the first place.

"Had I just heard what I thought I heard?" and "...did I just hear the name 'Jill'?"

Nah. Surely not...

The more I thought about it in the ensuing minutes, hours, and days, I know I just HAD to find that commercial.

Well, dear readers, Jill IS in that commercial, though not as I had hoped. Then again, maybe it was made the way it was just for that reason:



Makes me wonder - does anyone else call their GPS Jill?

Midnight Conundrum

One topic that came up during my stay in California had not to do with California, but with Texas. One of my classmates was from Austin.

While some conversations had to do with Easter and the elaborate parties this one classmate threw for friends and family, one topic that kept coming up was how on earth it was going to take seven hours to fly from California to the Lone Star State. Surely not!

Her flight was to leave at 5pm. And arrive at midnight.

With a stopover in Las Vegas for an hour. We compared notes. Then, when she had already left for the airport with the three others who were flying, it suddeny dawned on me; having not gotten her phone number, I was at a loss. But I figured that since she was going to be sitting in Oakland's airport terminal for several hours anyway, it stands to reason she'd have plenty of time to figure it out:

Leave Oakland at 5pm.
Figure an hour flight to Las Vegas, arrive at 6pm.
Layover for an hour.
Depart Las Vagas at 7pm.
Three hour flight to Austin, arrive at 10pm.

That's where we were stumped. And went over and over in our minds and in conversation. If anything, it kept up the dialog on our smoke breaks.

Then, when I was daydreaming on the way to Pier 39 for my last shopping trip, it hit me.

The two-hour time difference.

The midnight conundrum was solved.

Friday, May 28

Claustrophobia

Generally speaking, I don't have any claustrophobic problems, but if I lived in San Francisco, I surely would. I wasn't prepared for some of the streets I was navigating, as there was hardly any room between opposite-facing building in most of downtown. Cannot EVEN imagine navigating those streets on a regular basis.

After class today, having time to kill, I decided to drive yet again onto the peninsula for one more photo session at the Golden Gate Bridge. But for naught. Just couldn't get the reddish tone quite right. But that's OK.

Did get down to Pier 39, though, for a mad dash shopping frenzy, to get just one more thing for Marilee. I think she'll like what I got.

So after leaving the touristy area, I was off to...

We pause here for what has become a ritualistic endeavour of mine - traveling ANYWHERE on a busy holiday weekend, and this weekend is no different. Imagine leaving a major metropolitan area on the first day of Memorial Day weekend, and your first departure point is THE beginning of THE most major East-West route in the ENTIRE United States.

Yes, Dear reader, Interstate 80 Eastbound BEGINS in San Francisco, and EVERYONE was headed east at the EXACT same time as me.

The gridlock had already started long before I was close to the onramp. Jill led me rather well, though she got confused a few times since there wasn't a clear view to her GPS satellites.

Can't imagine why:



(That's the rear-view mirror in the cab of the truck if you're wondering)

The Sea Princess



Last Saturday, this ship (the Sea Princess) was in port at Pier 35 in San Francisco, thus adding to the mayhem down by Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39.

Had the ship only been letting people off would have been enough of a hassle, but in addition, there were people waiting to get ON. So the added traffic in the area made for something less than a pleasant experience. At least in that part of the peninsula.

By the time my classmate and I made it to Pier 39, however, the crowd had thinned, and it was far more pleasant, at least from a touristy point of view, which was the mode we were in. Tempted though we were to don Bermuda shorts, black socks and shoes, a camera around the neck and maps hanging out of our pockets, the illusion of the quintessential tourist was marred by the weather.

It was COLD!

OK, so not cold by Utah standards, but this time of year in San Francisco the weather is supposed to be warmer, and everyone in class did not pack appropriately.

And, thank you very much, the mere mention of a few classmates saying they'd brought tank tops and shorts added to my misery, if only for trying to get those visuals out of my mind. Virtual eye bleach, anyone?

Last day of class was today, and was sad to see all of them go. As with my two stints last year in Southern California, I may never see these good folks again, either.

Farewell, good friends.

Virtual Green Screen

This four-minute video will change your perception of background activity on every TV show or movie you will ever see: past, present, and future.

This will blow your mind.

Thursday, May 27

Hidden Cove

OK, so it's not really hidden. It's in plain sight. But probably goes un-noticed by those taking in the grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge:

About Perspective and Scale

My days in California are coming to a close soon - I'm leaving Saturday morning. In the time I've been here, I've come to appreciate size and quantity. The quantity of miles traveled a la "It didn't look that far on a map" and size in regards to just how damn big the Golden Gate Bridge is.

Perspective works well in that analogy:



The photo above was taken from "Vista Point" on the northern side of the bridge. Since the center span is 4,200 feet in length, that means from where the utility truck is in the northbound lane to the center - basically where vehicles disappear over to the other end - is about 2,100 feet. Perspective at work. And the towers tower above the roadway at five-hundred feet.

Scale? You really can't get a handle on the size of this area until you see Vista Point from another vantage point:



The above photo was taken from the same hill overlooking the bridge from last Monday and Tuesday.

I'm hoping for a few more photos of the bridge Friday afternoon after class lets out, this time without the towers in shadow!

Bust A Nut

From the "What were they thinking file", this classic from Corn Nuts:



BTW, folks who read my blog on a regular basis have found that they need to watch what they say around me. Because what they say may end up here.

You have been warned.

Gin The Dancing Dog

With a lead-in of "Bond... James Bond", I wasn't sure what to expect.

From Britain's Got Talent:

Wednesday, May 26

Where Are The People?

I'm not that artsy-fartsy when it comes to my photography, but I do know a few things about composition and how to make an otherwise dull photo stand on its own. Is it art, though? Hardly. Unless taking a photo that actually tells a story is art.

But one thing's for sure: I don't take snapshots.

From an early age, I recall one of my elder relatives saying, on returning from a vacation to the Grand Tetons, "Where are the people?" I'd taken photos from the road of a herd of moose, of a chair lift in Jackson Hole, trees, scenery, that sort of thing. And every one of those photos that were devoid of humanity elicited a tsk tsk or a groan.

The nerve of someone using a camera to record anything but pictures of people.

I'm reminded of the myriad photo albums my Aunt Mary Lou showed me on my travels to her house before she died. Volume after volume, page after page, there were photos of the family, of friends, but rarely of my my Uncle Gene - he was the one taking all those photos. And all were snapshots, otherwise known as pictures of people.

On the off chance I take photos of people, they're of family and friends. And, alas, very few of ME. So when the opportunity presents itself, I tend to hang on to those moments when there's such a photo.

A snapshot in time:

The Fourth Meal

This is NOT an ad for Taco Bell.

As you'll recall, last weekend, a classmate and I went to Pier 39, a tourist trap entertainment area in San Francisco. I got in some serious people watching, though the shopping was ├╝ber neat.

Since we left the hotel before lunch, by the time we'd found a place to park and having to walk as far as we did, we were getting rather hungry, so we had lunch at one of the seafood-rich eateries there, at the Pier Market Seafood Restaurant.

Though there were other places to eat on the pier, this particular restaurant had the most decadent aromas coming from an open mesquite grill. Yum yum yummy.

And the clam chowder? Not being a connoisseur by any stretch, I do like my Pismo Beach clam chowder, and since this place was just up the road apiece from Pismo, I figured why not.

Don't miss it.

After gorging ourselves on the treats at Pier Market, and having bought the farm and then some while shopping, it was time to depart.

OK, so I haven't lived in California for some twenty-five years, and I realize some customs have likely changed in my absence. But for some reason, California has an additional daily meal I was not aware of; we only have breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Utah. Why, then, is California so special that the fourth meal is called...

I Call Shenanigans

There is no way on Earth that this is real. Unless there's some serious video editing going on:

Tuesday, May 25

What Part Of...

Fill in the blank.

So I've mentioned that utterance before, in the form of "What part of merge don't you understand?" I shan't go into the vagaries of driving in California, since that isn't the issue here. It's the "fill in the blank" part.

This time it's "What part of 'I don't have a card' don't you understand?"

Says the helpful checker: "Do you have your 'Club Card'"?

Says I: "I don't have a card."

Long-winded conversations with checkers, particularly ones I'll never see again, are things I avoid like the plague. Just got back from a little trip to the nearby Safeway market to get some munchies, since when you're otherwise cooped up in a hotel room with nothing else better to do - there is free HBO, however - one starts dreaming of all the bad food you otherwise would not be eating at home, or can't get away with, not to mention having to share.

Wandering down the aisles, I begin to realize that most of the products on the shelves do in fact have a reduced price if you have the aforementioned "Club Card".

I assume this means like Sam's Club or Costco. Membership cards, in other words. Except that Costco and Sam's sells product in mega-packs of everything, and all I'm getting are some granola bars. Yeah, that's gonna save a bundle.

Last year on my trip to Chicago, there was a Mom 'n' Pop market near the hotel; I ended up getting a card for there because the sweet, sweet, checker just would not shut up about the damn card, and could not believe I "still" hadn't gotten a Dominick's card.

"What, don't you want to save some moneeee?"

So you can imagine my consternation when asked for a "Club Card".

After telling me I could just type in my phone number, and not wanting to get into the whole "I am not from California and there are no Safeway's in Utah" two-step, I said simply:

"I DO NOT HAVE A CARD!"

With that, thankfully, she did not pursue the issue.

Oh, and I still have that damn Dominick's card.

Monday, May 24

Sea Lions at San Francisco's Pier 39



Yeah, so the audio is terrible - the wind was blowing. And the screaming kids didn't help. But the barking? THOSE were the sea lions on Saturday.

Pictures Worth The Wait

Told you they were worth the wait:

Really, They're Mine

I really, truly, am in San Francisco. Well, about thirty miles inland, but still.

OK, I know what you're thinking: he blows out his back a week previosly, then he goes on a HIKE six days later? Why would you believe these are HIS photos and not someone else's?

Really? With the prospect of not seeing the following, wouldn't YOU take the chance of severe back spasms?

This one's just a teaser - I did walk up to where those people are, up on top:

Saturday, May 22

The Gulf of Mexico BP Oil Spill Video

Since there's no sign of anything really being done to stem the flow, I bet they could save some bandwidth by just playing a ten-second clip over and over...

Where's The Damn Photos?

Say, there, Bob: you say you're in San Francisco? So where the hell are the pictures of the tall red bridge?

Yeah. About that.

I'm not actually in the city by the bay. I'm actually in the city by the city by the city by the City By The Bay. There's even a hill or three between me and San Francisco proper. But don't worry, folks - you'll be seeing photos soon enough.

A classmate and I are going sight-seeing today, going to Fisherman's Wharf and The Embarcadero. From those vantage points there's bound to be some decent shots to be had.

Should stay sunny most of the day; stay tuned!

Pretty Much Sums It Up

Yeah, I know. I'll probably lose a reader or... OK, A reader for posting this one.

Found it in a list of classic de-motivational posters, but think maybe it's more motivational:

Friday, May 21

RJ-45 vs. RJ-11

OK, folks, you know I'm a geek. Nerd. Whatever. Yes, I know the difference between the two connectors listed in the title of this post.

Anyway.

Here in the hotel room, there's an RJ-45 cable coming out of the wall. Real, live, 10-Base-T ethernet, though I'm beginning to wonder.

With it being so... damn... slow... I'm beginning to think the speed is somewhere closer to an RJ-11 cable.

Yes, like a friggin' dial-up line.

OK, Let's Take A Break

That's what the instructor said, earlier this afternoon.

Upon returning from the break, we had five minutes left. A few minutes beyond that, he said the immortal words:

"Two minute warning."

And just as we were expecting to start again, he said "OK, get out of Facebook and Twitter..."

<crickets>

"...and no one reads your blog anyway."

Sigh.

Tuesday, May 18

Surprise Kitten Pen Attack

The stuff I find:

Monday, May 17

Sickenly Sweet

WARNING: This will likely make you puke, it's so sweet.

Meet the Sloths:

School Daze

Had I mentioned I drove to California? Don't think so, but I did.

750 Miles, give or take, and other than a couple pit stops at rest areas along the way, I drove straight through.

Eleven hours.

That's a long drive. And a long time to sit in one position. And while the Silverado is rather comfy compared to the Rodeo, it isn't ideal, considering my spine is actually straight. Not the classic curve as most folks', but straight as an arrow. That presents a problem. So although my back wasn't hurting yesterday, it is now.

Oh my gawd my back hurts.

No, I did NOT try to pick up a [expletive deleted] all by myself (I know that's what you were thinking). We've been told that we need two people to pick up and transport one of those, considering it weighs ninety-seven pounds. No, I was only transporting the [expletive deleted], roughly a ten pound module. Not heavy by any stretch, but it was likely the angle I picked it up at.

KEERANGGGGGG. That's the only thought I had at that moment. Because that was the feeling that shot from my lower back to my brain.

Thankfully it was later in the afternoon and my teammate and I had already re-assembled our module. And it worked.

So after a trip to the overstocked first-aid kit nearby, I gobbled up some ibuprofen and was good to go, if only for a couple hours.

I just got back from an oh-so-painful shopping trip to pick up a few things, including some thermal heat wraps. I probably looked like an elderly 53-year-old with a bad back. Which, in my current state of mind (and body) isn't too hard.

By the way...

While we're on that subject, it's time for a much-anticipated bob's bs pet peeve:

EVERY TIME I have had a back issue, upon going to a drug store or mega-supermarket, I have noticed a really bad joke perpetuated by the drug community. Over-the-counter or otherwise.

And it is this:

WHY ARE ALL THE BACK-PAIN MEDICATIONS ALWAYS ON THE BOTTOM SHELF?

Hammermill Bond

I really do wish I'd thought of this one looong before I posted it. I likely would have garnered more than 21 votes.

Photoshop theme: Rejected Bond Films

My entry:

Sunday, May 16

On The Road...

...again?

Yes, dear readers, it is time for another trip to sunny California. But not Orange County this time. This time it's to San Francisco. Two more weeks of training. On [expletive deleted] equipment.

It'll be my first-every visit to the City by the Bay, but not for lack of trying.

Ah, the memories of the fateful trip up the coast in about 1965 or so. Bad memories, actually. It was about the time of the annual pilgrimage to Pismo Beach that, after traveling up the coast, that we were then off to San Francisco.

Thinking back to those days before full-on Interstates chills me to the bone. Then again, my Dad didn't take the inland route, no, he decided to take us up the coast. ON the coast. Or, rather, it was ABOVE the coast.

I was a kid then. Eight or so. And scared sh!tless. Even now, I cannot imagine looking off the precipice that was Coast Highway. I do not plan on heading down that way.

Anyway.

I'm here for two weeks, and I'm sure I'll have much to share. One thing is for certain: I'll have much to share on my return to Utah. On Memorial Day weekend.

No, I haven't learned that lesson yet.

Friday, May 14

Cristofori's Dream

OK, folks, here's a chance for you all to keep Marilee and I from going stir crazy. Quite an accomplishment if you can do this for us.

There is an instrumental song called Cristofori's Dream that we know - and you will likely concur - is from a movie. It was either the theme song, or in a dream sequence, or something. But it WAS in a movie, we're certain. But we cannot find any reference at all.

And we're sorry if, when you hear the music, it gets stuck in your head, too. And you won't sleep until you find out the answer. Just be sure to share.

At least it's not It's A Small World.

Wednesday, May 12

Tennis Match

A "tennis match" is when one Farker posts an image - typically with voting enabled - and the next image makes the original "improved upon". With voting disabled.

Each "volley" adds to the original.

This image from Photoshop this bear battle, by Tillman:



Was "improved upon" by odenen with:



And my input was:



Marilee says that some of my Photoshop entries are too "deep". I'm not sure of that statement. All I know is that it's funner 'n' hell.

It's sure as hell not Kansas.

Monday, May 10

Darth Vader Being A Jerk

THE Dashtronic Review

"That watch is much too nice to wear while working on this stuff."

So said a good friend and co-worker a couple weeks ago. I'd just received my very own Stauer Dashtronic watch, a present to myself after buying multitudes of stuff for Marilee; I wanted to get in on the action.

I'd just gotten her something from HSN or QVC - cannot remember which - and the total came to $100. Said I: "I guess it's time for me to get myself something for a hundred dollars."

Said she: "What?"

"THAT watch."

Reluctantly, she said OK. "Let's put it this way - do you want me to continue getting you stuff from HSN and QVC?"

Bob had made his point.

The Stauer Dashtronic is simplicity in action. Styled after the minimalistic dashboards of 1930's-era automobile dashboards, thus the name, it's not really fancy. It uses not a battery, but a mainspring. Yes, youngsters, it needs to be wound. And of not, it stops. It's not a drawback, mind you, but a traditional extra, in my humble opinion.

It is an analog watch, in the grandest style. And does just one thing: it tells time. There's no chronograph, there's no alarm. It doesn't know what day of the week it is. And while it has no battery, it also has no backlight. Similar to the workings of a Weather Rock, if it's too late to tell what time it is, it's probably after dark.

And it's also a wonderful conversation-starter.

I'd imagine some folks have noticed it on my wrist but didn't know what to say, or even ask. Where everyone's watch tends to look the same any more, this one stands out. Shiny in its stainless-steel top, the crystal is even rather minimal. Just large enough to see the hours and minutes; there's also no second hand.

But it really doesn't matter. I'd wanted an analog watch for some time, but could never settle on one I liked, and Marilee said she couldn't understand why I'd want one. After all, she said, I work on computers, so why wouldn't I want a digital watch?

It's the principle. Besides, consider the last time you asked someone what the time of day was. In the latter part of the hour. Did they say "three forty-five" or "a quarter-to-four"? I like the latter. With the Dashtronic, I can say the latter, too.

So I'm old. And remember a day when analog was all there was.

The Dashtronic gives you the best of both worlds - the minimal of a digital, and the time-honored stylishness of an analog.

So is it time you got one? Of course. Father's Day is just around the corner.

Sunday, May 9

Comfort... Sounds?

Comfort foods are those that bring back memories of times past when life was much easier, much simpler.

Even smells, or rather, aromas of Mom making yummy things in the kitchen.

But one sense I wish there were more, well, recordings of are those that conjure memories of those simpler times - and I think I found one:

Space Hair

When I showed the following Fark Photoshop to Marilee - after asking her whether she remembered the scene, that is - she asked me "Just how many people do you think are going to get it?"

Oh, I think a few will know...

Photoshop this space hair:



And...



Do YOU get it?

Friday, May 7

Why English Is So Hard To Learn

Found the following little ditty on a website recently. It brings to mind a conversation I had with a colleague today: What do the multitudes of French salutations mean?

Mademoiselle: courtesy title for an unmarried woman in France or a French-speaking country
Madame: a title or form of address for a woman
Monsieur: mister, sir (a title or form of address for a man)
...and that which presented a peculiar sense of consternation, "messieur" is normally in the plural form, a la "messieurs"

Anyway, here's the main part of this post, or:

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France (Surprise!). Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?

One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? Is it an odd, or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Not to mention that we drive on parkways and park in driveways.

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

P.S. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"?

Saturday, May 1

There's a Walmart in Ephraim?

Ephraim? Really?

I know this because I was there yesterday. Well, sort of. I was in town working on an [expletive deleted]. Or would have been, had the power been on in the building. Seems that a power line had gone out somewhere near Santaquin. No, it really did happen, though there's no report of it anywhere.

Really!

OK, so I can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it happened.

Anyway.

Ephraim is one of those towns so far out of the way that in the almost twenty-five years of my existence in Utah that I'd never been there. And since my visit was less than a half-hour, and didn't even make it into town (the Walmart is on the outskirts), I'm pretty much certain I saw enough.

By the way, I think I may have solved one of the great mysteries of modern times:

The "E" in "BFE" stands for Ephraim.
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