howeird: (Default)

Once again I worked from home till afternoon, once again the apartment inspector never showed up.

My big sister's husband turned 76 on November 10. Four days later he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which had already spread to other organs. Ben was the kind of guy who didn't let a little debilitating pain get in his way, so I'm not surprised he didn't see a doctor as soon as he had symptoms. When Ben was growing up, everyone who had cancer died, and as soon as he was diagnosed he gave up.

Yesterday my sister emailed that cannabis and hospital rest had helped, but this morning she wrote that they had overdone the morphine last night and he was not doing well. Email forwarded from a niece (there are three of them) said her dad said he "was done".

This afternoon sister emailed saying he passed away, the funeral would be Friday. In Israel, it's almost 8 am Friday as I write this.

It is a shock, but not a surprise.

Ben was an American, had been a master sgt in the Air Force for 15 years before moving to Seattle. He met my sister at a Jewish religion class at Hillel while she was in college, courted her that summer when she was cook at a camp for Jewish kids, and they were married a year after she graduated. Unlike my sister, he was not very religious, but he loved her, and agreed to her dream to move to Israel and make babies until most of the population was made up of their peace-loving children. Unfortunately, they took after their mother, and are your basic religious fanatics, most of them living in the Occupied Territories.

He was an electronics genius, he built the world's first operational Doppler radar by hand, from scratch. During his career with the Israeli water service (they are Israel's NOAA) he consulted with the University of Colorado, and meteorology departments in Italy, Russia and Israel on radar tracking for cloud seeding. He taught electronics and programming at universities in Ber Sheva and Haifa. All male Israeli residents are required to serve in the army until age 55, and he was drafted to be an ambulance driver (typical army stupidity) during the war in Lebanon. Eventually they made him the Israeli navy's main radar repairman.

He leaves behind two sons, three daughters and 27 grandchildren.
After the no-show inspection, I went for lunch at Togo's, it's on the way. At work we wrapped up the laser testing, apparently they nailed down the bug, but I'm not sure if the fix was implemented. The system works better than before, which is good. But data through the air can never be as reliable as data over a wire, so I'm not sold on this scheme.

At home I used the limitations of VPN to take two required health & safety classes which Corp HR insists are required by OSHA. The second class starts by saying OSHA only requires it for people who handle chemicals as part of their job, which is hardly anyone at this company. No one at my site. I passed both classes easily, but it was a total waste of time.

Had my 1-on-1 with the boss, he moved it from yesterday because stuff is piling up for the coming release and new products. I told him about the needlessly complex path to home ownership, and he shared his. Same deal, surprises being sprung which should have been handled up front, and way too many documents. He also built a house in Thailand, there was none of this crap over there.

Home by way of Lucky's because they have a Jewish food section. I had falafel in the freezer, but needed humus and tehina and pita. It took forever to find pita, and the only types they had were whole wheat and 8-grain. Compared to several hundred types of taco and tortilla wrappers.

Watched the Saints and Falcons flail around for the final half while enjoying my Ben Memorial dinner. He was fond of a shot of schnapps now and then, maybe I'll have a sip in his memory.

Two packages picked up from UPS, one was a rotary nose & ear hair trimmer. The kind which looks like a miniature hedge trimmer is useless. And 4 6-packs of Nike crew socks. Had to throw away a 2-week supply of Dickies brand, holes in the toes after the first wear on too many of them.

Two weeks from moving. Two more packing projects before the crunch:
- Pack up the camping equipment which is on shelves in the storage room
- Box everything in the office closet which is not in drawers
- Box up the blank CDs/DVDs and ink cartridges in the office credenza
(those last to really are just one project)
This weekend I'll also do a full backup of my RAID array. It has all the big stuff, photos, videos, docs.

Plans for tomorrow:
Call the apartment office and yell at them for the no-show.
With luck, escrow will close. If it does, celebrate.
Uke class #2

howeird: (Default)
The seller accepted my offer, without changes. The mfg rep is processing the loan paperwork with her lender, but I'm also on Lending Tree because the interest rates she quoted me are pretty high compared to what I have seen out there, especially for a <$150k loan. I checked with my insurance agent, they use someone else for mfg homes, but will give me a few $$ off for also having the car insured by them. I got a quote from progressive, they want twice as much. Both will only cover $150k, not the full replacement price. esurance gave me a quote from Safeco, which fielded it at 10% less, but their form did not recognize it was a mfg home, so that may be bogus.

Taxes come to about $50 a month. Utilities are not in the equation because I pay those now, Comcast says they serve that address so I should be good for cable and internet.

Work was pretty slow, so I found some more corporate online classes to sign up for. I watched one, 2 years old, on how cable TV is moving to IP, and while it was a well done marketing presentation, we've been selling in that field for about 10 years.

Team meeting had some revelations. Minor ones, though about two of the new company's local-ish offices moving to our building this month. Parking may get tight. 

Lunch with Automation Guy, we went to the Thai place which was too full last week. The key is to wait till 12:45. We can take lunch any time, but most of the worker bees in the neighborhood strap themselves into noon lunchtimes. Barn Thai is the sign on the place, and Automation Guy laughs that he expects to see cows inside. I explain that it's really pronounced "bahn" which means "house". Thai House because reverse word order (in Thai and most Asian languages, nouns come before adjectives, verbs before adverbs).

Back at work my tennis elbow was hurting a lot so I switched my mouse to left-handed mode. Did the same when I got home. I'm just ambidextrous enough to be able to do that.

UPS, three things to pick up, then home. As usual most of the mail went into the trash or the shredder, but there were two checks from a class action settlement against AT&T Mobile. One was for about $5.00 the other for 3¢.

Online, grabbed the last two months' statements from my 3 credit cards, and the last 2 from my CU and emailed them to mgf rep.  So we should be done with that load of crap until it's time for the park approval process. And she said we have most of that covered already.

On to BASFA because MNF was not a game I was interested in. Passed around the 3¢ check and got many amused/amusing reactions. Reviewed Les Miz, pocket review. It was lightly attended, so things went quickly, done in just over an hour. I got in a couple of puns, no zingers, though.

In other news, my last remaining uncle died this afternoon. Call from my Baltimore sister, who said our aunt asked her to make the calls. Sis said he died peacefully in his sleep, I said it was probably the only thing in his life he did peacefully. I phoned my aunt, their eldest son answered, I gave him my condolences and then talked to her. She was in shock, but managed to brave it out for a few minutes. Uncle Dave was a New Yorker. A Bronx New Yorker. He did everything forcefully and with supreme confidence. When I was a kid he kind of scared me, force of nature that he was, and kind of annoyed me because he always thought he was right, loudly. But during the past 10 or so years we'd been communicating a lot**, and oddly enough, he usually was right. He had dimensions to him which he had not talked much about until lately, which is a shame because if I had known as a child, I would have admired him more and sooner.

He was a WWII veteran of the combat engineering company which helped liberate Italy. He left a job as a welder to enlist. After the war he worked for 25 years as a railroad post office employee up and down the east coast. You can read more about that career choice here. His final job, I think, was head of customs inspections at JFK Airport. I know that was his job, he met me at customs when I came back from the Peace Corps. I'm just not sure it was his last one.

**He had macular degenration since 2007, so I started recording 15-minute mp3s messages and emailing them so he could "read" my messages without my aunt having to be there. She wrote most of the replies, being a retired executive secretary, but I had also taught him how to record messages, and he used that to communicate with friends. Elder son helped get him started. We corresponded about once a week, but he would phone if something in  one of my messages raised a red flag, or if he had some medical advice which needed to be shared urgently.

Plans for tomorrow:


May. 29th, 2013 10:19 pm
howeird: (Howard The Duck)
After two weeks of trial and error and error and error, Automation  Guy finally sat down and figured out two things I needed to do to my code to make it work. As it turns out, only one of them was needed, and he did it wrong. But between that clue and the web, I managed to do what any other language would have done in 30 seconds.

TMI here )
That's the short version. I won't bore myself with the long version.

Suffice to say it worked, and Automation Guy said he couldn't think of any reason to use this IRL. He is so very wrong about that.

So this gave me time to call Rebecca at Toyota and leave her a message about a) I haven't seen the refund on my Discover card for the trunk release which did not need to be installed (about $550) and b) the backup cam sucks, I have a Quality one on order and will have it installed by a Kenwood authorized dealer. She called back in a timely fashion and said she would check on a and talk to her service manager about b. I told her the bottom line with b is she got ripped off by her supplier, who charged her something like $600 for a $20 camera.

And I also had time to look up my Dad's patents (I think he had 11 of 'em) on Except anything before 1976 needs a TIFF plug-in to9 view, and I couldn't get one to install on Chrome or FFox or IE at work, so I had to wait till I got home except for one I found on Google patents which blew me away:

Safety Device for Ballistic Missiles

He also co-authored one of the seminal papers on video data compression which is still referenced by patents which apply to the equipment I work on. Unfortunately the paper is so old that OSPTO has no links to it. Cited in patent 4,064,530 December 20, 1977 held by CBS:

Application of the principle of recursive filtering for noise reduction in television signals is described in a paper by Murray J. Stateman and Murray B. Ritterman entitled, "Theoretical Improvement In Signal To Noise Ratio of Television Signals By Equivalent Comb Filter Technique" published in 1954 in IRE National Convention Record, Volume 2, Part 4. This paper describes how redundancy and knowledge of the past signals can be used to reduce the noise reaching the television screen.

It amuses me that two Murrays co-authored.

Anyhow, it is a basic method still used to clean up streaming media signals.

Home by way of Walgreens, two items I wanted to get:
A key ring (the one holding the car key is too flexible and falls off)
Lindt chocolate for the Toyota sales rep - the one who sold me the car, not the one who messed up the camera order. (she has "liked" their page on FB).

They had no key rings as such, but I found one attached to a $3 lens cleaning kit, which I have a use for too.

Also remembered that today would have been Mom's 90th birthday, which means all three sisters have birthdays coming up next month. So I hung out in the card aisle finding appropriate paper cards. I will be visiting two of them on youngest's b'day, which is a few days before oldest's. Middle one I'll have to mail. Tomorrow.

Middle one is turning 60, so she will get a card a month till then. :-)

My favorite Mom picture:

I also love her wedding portrait:

I did the sepia toning, the original is B&W

Home, forgot to have dinner.

Bought a ticket for Avenue Q at Bus Barn. One or more friends are in it.

Plans for tomorrow:
No band practice
If sales rep is working I'll bring her the gifts (incl. one of my calendars)
howeird: (Default)
 My Baltimore sister and her husband started the afternoon in a hospital waiting room and ended it as grandparents. Nephew's wife had a boy. Tomorrow they go to the funeral of our friend. And so it goes.
Mostly wasted day for me. Called Fedex to see when the headboard was due to be delivered, they say between noon and 2, probably. It was 10:30 and I could have gone shopping and gotten back by noon, but instead I played on the PC and with the cats. Fedex did not arrive until 4:10, and the guy dropped the big box , scanned it and took off like a shot. Brought it inside and saw why - the box was torn in several places, had water damage at the top corner, a triangle about 6" on a side. Took the headboard out and the part under that damage was crushed. Tubular part, takes a lot to bend it, and a foot of it was staved in. photos behind the cut )
Phoned Fedex, they said the company from which I bought it has a special arrangement with them to not accept returns. Went online at Hayneedle and applied for an return for a refund and a package pickup - there is no way I am bringing this monster anywhere.

That pretty much nuked my whole day. I did some online stuff looking for alternatives, but my heart was not in it. Finally went for a massage, and then shopping first at Lion then at Ranch 99 to get some items in the new crab cake recipe I didn't have. Neither of them had kafir lime leaves, so I made do with the dried ones I have.

Did not follow the recipe exactly because it seemed to be too much work for what I was making, so I basically threw the garlic, cilantro, cut long beans and chopped scallion into the cuisinart and chopped it all, threw in about 10 frozen shrimp and chopped some more, then added the crab and made a lovely greenish paste, then the limes leaves, red curry paste and egg whites. It looks like St Patricks Day seafood paste.

Heated my cast iron skillet with about an inch of oil, maybe 2, and plopped a spoonfull of paste in. The oil wasn't hot enough and I got lots of crab cake particles. Next batch was better, quit after I'd made a dozen. There is plenty more to make tomorrow.

They look like hell, but taste really good. The crab comes through,even with the curry and other stuff. I have enough crab for one more try, next one I'll just blend the shrimp and crab into a paste with the egg whites, and add the chopped stuff without bending it in. Probably just stick to some cilantro and scallion greens. And they really need to be flattened, not dolloped. Don't know when I'll try that, though.

Got another note on the door, the new owners will be drastically cutting back the apartment's office hours, making it not feasible to have packages delivered there anymore. Must look for a mailbox service.

Plans for tomorrow:
none. Hopefully it will be sunny and I'll play outside.



Mar. 15th, 2013 12:50 am
howeird: (Default)
Pi day in the US.

Had a breakthrough at work with a script, something I realized when I woke up this morning. The details are hard to explain, and boring.

Lunchtime I went to Lakewood shopping center, 45 minutes early for my dental appointment because I wanted to check out the Chinese market next door. I had not been there in years, because it used to be filthy (flies all over the place) with narrow aisles, very limited stock and high prices.

It has changed.

New Wing Yuan Market is now clean, with wide aisles, and oh so much stock. They have things I have never seen before. It took me 5 minutes just to check out the noodle aisle. Live lobster, carp, catfish (but no crabs - huh?). The produce section does not have half the variety of Ranch 99, but what they do have, they have a lot of. Some surprising machines, such as a wooden coconut shredder, a 3-foot-tall rice dispenser, so many different kinds of fresh & frozen fish. All the usual - and unusual - canned fruits. A half an aisle of faux Western treats made in Hong Kong, Czech Republic, PDRC. Shrimp chips from San Diego.

Made a note to come back after the dentist appointment, and got to the dentist 15 minutes early. It took 20 minutes to fill out their paperwork. They really need to have an online solution for that, my handwriting is horrible. The regular dentist was out of the country, her stand-in is a compatriot Philippina, as are the two assistants. Excellent all around, no pain, and an appointment for next week to re-do a filling which I thought needed it 2 years ago but the dentist I went to then was more interested in throughput than care.

Back to the market, spent about $20 in impulse buys. Prepared cuttlefish (a favorite snack of mine in Thailand), chocolate milk for way too many pennies, sesame candy and a kind of Asian peanut brittle. Almond cookies from an East Bay bakery ($1 less than the world famous ones from LA), a chocolate roll cake from Goldilocks, and two faux cup of noodles in crab and seafood flavors. And shrimp chips.

Back at work, made some progress on the script until Something Went Wrong and we lost all connectivity to the test machines. Or at least I did. By then it was after 5:30 and most of the people who could fix it were gone.

At about 6 I left and went for a manicure. Half an hour wait, which is unusual - if they think it's going to be that long they'll ask me to come back later. Manicurist tried to converse, but I couldn't make out what she was saying behind that mask. Most places have little fans to blow away the grindings, not this one.

From there to Lucky, where I was in search of frozen matzo balls. The bottled ones are gross. That was the last thing I found. Also got the obligatory pie (Dutch crunch apple), ice cream (how could I resist "malted milk mint"?) and stuff which was on my list like lactose-free milk and turkey bologna.

Had wanted to park at Starbucks, but it was too warm to leave ice cream in the car, so home I went.

Dinner was the remaining 3 Costco crab cakes, which I baked this time, and they didn't fall apart till I started eating them. Pie a la mode for dessert. Celery for appetizer.

Caught up on email. More info from my Baltimore sister about funeral plans for a dear family friend killed in a car crash. It will be on my brother-in-law's birthday (St. Patrick's day - he's a redhead) which is very Twilight Zone-ish because in 2010 my mother's funeral was on his birthday, and he came out to Seattle for that too.

Also in email was a question from a potential bidder about an eBay sale. It's a used phone, and somehow he misread the auction listing to think it was "mint". Which is isn't. And which it is not advertised as. I replied, setting him straight on that point and making the reply public. The auction closes tomorrow.

Plans for tomorrow:

Work, includes boss' boss' team meeting and my weekly report
howeird: (Default)
Probably the most powerful thing my father ever told me is that, like us, he and his father did not get along, and one of his biggest regrets was he never had the chance to reconcile with his father. His father was a handyman, and fell off a roof when my dad was 19. It took decades, but by the time my father was gone, we were on good terms with each other.
Someone who had a crush on me when she was in high school (I was 23) is now one of the production staff at Seattle Opera. Over on the Book of Face, she posted the trailer for their current production of Madame Butterfly, as well as an article in a not-quite-local paper about the 6-year-old girl whom she found to play the part of Pinkerton's son. I did not want to be rude to her over there so I'll say it here.

First, there are plenty of boys in Seattle who could have played that part. Plenty of girls too. Okay, so the kid is only from Lynnwood, but that's a nasty commute from the northeast end of Lake Washington to the opera venue in downtown Seattle, at least an hour one way after school.

Seattle used to be a place where young opera talent could get a break, but they decided to cast an older performer (14 years since her debut) as the leading lady. She looks older than that. The role calls for a teenager. The woman has enough vibrato to stress test a 747. The fellow playing playful boyish Pinkerton is a stuffed shirt. Nice voice, though. The mix was horrible - the orchestra in most of the clips was too loud to hear the soloists' words. It does not look like a production I would go out of my way to see.
This morning listening to KNBR, the local all-sports station, they played a Home Despot commercial and an Orchard Supply commercial back to back. OSH was advertising patio and outdoor furniture on sale, and I've been thinking about buying a chaise for the patio, so I went there after work. I did an online search and found nothing I wanted, but often the store has more than the web page. I did find a nice one for $99 at Anyhow, OSH had nothing I wanted. Heavy iron ones for $179 which needed a pad for more $, a horrible flat plastic one in gray, and something called a Zero Gravity Chair which looked a lot like the dreaded Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. Almost went straight home, but remembered that everything I had planned for this weekend fell through, so I had time to make pickles. Detoured to the produce place and picked up 4x7 pickle cukes. And a nice big celery bunch. And some medium big limes. Celery meant needing bleu cheese dressing, so next detour was to my local supermarket, which did not have the brand I liked but they had "good enough".
Home, the 2012 map from Garmin was under my welcome mat. I'll try it out tomorrow.

Watched the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are? which followed Quincy Jones' daughter Rashida's search for her Jewish mother's ancestors. It was incredibly moving, I'm pulling it from TiVo onto my PC and will make DVDs for my sisters, and my aunt.
Work was boring. I cranked out a ton of test cases for a new feature, but I think I'm at a dead end for now. Will pursue it Monday.
Lunch was a rare case of me driving the gang, irony being we went to a hole in the wall Japanese place across the street from my apartment. I've eaten there once before and was not impressed. But it was a nice day so we sat outside. One of them has a very loud voice, and is virtually un-interruptable, so it's nice that he has interesting things to say. He does pause from time to time, but not often.
I forgot to go to the PO, mostly because I usually do that at lunchtime.

Plans for tomorrow:
PO, mail the calendar to Michi in Japan
Manicure (my nails have grown way faster this last 2 weeks than usual)
Best Buy - see about having the GPS antenna in the car placed where it gets a better signal
Make pickles. Plan A: 7 jars w/4cukes each. Plan B: same as Plan A, but spears instead of whole pickles. Plan C was pickle chips, but I've already scrapped that.

howeird: (How_photog-viewfinder)
Got to work about 10 minutes after the donuts were gone. Work was mostly research today.

No lunch break, left at 3:30 to go to the Domain Hotel and help set up for the art show at Contact. Chatted with a couple of the artists, walked to KFC for dinner, then back to the art show where there was supposed to be a reception but wasn't. I think a grand total of a dozen people walked through. There was enough room for me to hang all 15 of the photos I'd prepared. Also had a stack of 2012 calendars to give away, only one was left by the time we closed up at 9.

Office Depot called, apparently the laptop I'd dropped off at the Sunnyvale store to be picked up never was picked up. When they called the store (I was on hold - I should have been part of the call) she came back on the line to tell me the store manager says that model was out of stock. IDIOT. I straightened her out, and she said she would refer the case to a higher authority. A few hours later the higher authority called back, said the package would be picked up on Monday, and I would get my refund when it arrived.

These people are complete idiots, I will not be buying anything online from them again.
Also got a reply from the cretin at Garmin. I asked how I could use my POI data and my new map at the same time. Instead, he emailed me a cut and paste canned response to "how do I make a POI data SD card?" This time I replied in 30 pt. type, very simple words with key phrases bold and underlined.

Sis had a great time at her workshop in SCruz. I think the plan is to meet up in the morning before her 1 pm flight back to SEA. No idea why she isn't staying the weekend.

Also, the photo shoot I was signed up for tomorrow night was postponed till May. Organizer claimed it was due to photog cancellations and not enough attendees, but looking at the event listings, all but one of the three sessions was sold out, and that one only had 2 out of 10 spots open. Probably the organizer wasn't able to book a venue (it was still TBA on the listings).

Plans for tomorrow:
Meet up with sister
Attend some of Contact

Who Knew?

Mar. 30th, 2012 12:14 am
howeird: (Default)
The highlight of my day, and maybe week, was the visit from my little sister, who flew into SJC on her way to a gardening workshop tomorrow in Santa Cruz. She arrived at my work at noon, but everyone on my team had gone to lunch. I gave her a tour of my cubicle and the lab, showed her a couple of video magic tricks, then took her to my favorite little Thai place for lunch (she loved it) and then to my apartment where Domino got more than enough affection to last her.

And I gave her a small bag of goodies, which she got a kick out of. Read more... )

Back to work, where she had a chance to chat with my boss and the Israeli IT guy who sits in the next office, at the same time - open doors and we were right outside in the hallway. IT guy was thrilled when Sis said she had been to Israel a couple of times. She had some interesting answers to his questions about places there she had been. She wrapped up with a joke, which I think I may have told her:

Read more... )

She is a very people person, and the fact that she is an engineer and understands what kind of work we do, she had some good conversations when I took her around to meet the team members. I had always thought of her as shy, but she talked a blue streak, and is very much a people person, it turns out. I'd never seen her interact with strangers before - she has a gift for it.

At about 3 I sent her on her way south, with a couple of hints to add to the directions she already had. She texted at about 5 that she got there okay. And emailed a photo later taken from the pier. Overcast, but not raining.

1-on-1 with the boss, he said he heard the team liked my sister, when can she start work? She probably would enjoy working there, but not living someplace so non-rural. Got some things to do from boss, which may help fill some of the time till my next formal assignment starts in May.

Was very tired, not enough sleep the last few nights (stayed up too late). Home, tried to crash but the first nap was only half an hour. Next nap took me to 9 pm.

Put a pizza in the oven while making an SD card with both the 2011 Garmin map and my personal points of interest on it. The map takes up 2GB, so I needed a 4GB card, which is SDHC. I'm not sure if the Kenwood can read that kind of card. Will see in the morning.

Plans for tomorrow:
3:30 - head for the Domain Hotel with my photos
Hang whichever ones they have space for, and attend the 6 pm reception.
howeird: (Default)
Plan A actually worked today.

Had breakfast in the hotel cafe. Waited till 10 to hit the road, both to avoid rush hour and rain. Drove I-5 through Tacoma, Hwy 16 across the world famous Tacoma Narrows Bridge,
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Hwy 3 past Bremerton and 308 to Keyport and the Naval Undersea Museum where my sister, who works next door at the Naval Undersea Warfare Station, met me. We toured the museum, which was well stocked with retired Navy submariners and divers as docents, and with lots of artifacts and displays. There was a full submarine control room, including a periscope which looked out the roof of the building.

From there we went to a deli in Keyport and had lunch, and then up to the forests of Poulsbo, where her husband is almost done building a house on property they bought up on a ridge. It's a work in progress, five years in the making so far (estimate was 2 years, but code changes and contentious neighbors slowed things down). They have camped out in it a couple of times, but it looks like another 6 months of work is needed to make it fully livable. It's pretty amazing what he's done, it's been pretty much him with some help from his brother building the house by hand. And he also has two out buildings done - one which was supposed to be his workshop, but is mostly a tool shed because it's easier to build stuff in the garage; and a garden shed. My sister is a master gardener, and her goal is to be able to grow all her own veggies. She's about 80% there.

From there we went to their rented house on the Suquamish Indian reservation, near the casino, and just hung out. Then to downtown Poulsbo for dinner at the misnamed Himalaya Chutney restaurant. While there is nothing Himalayan about the place, the staff is friendly, the service is quick, and the food, which is 100% east Indian, was excellent.

Back to the reservation for a bit, then I drove to the Bainbridge ferry, and was the last car to board the 8:15 run to Seattle.

I never can remember how to get to I-5 from the ferry, the signs are obsolete what with lots of construction. GPS is useless, it gets all scrambled in that neighborhood. I drove up the hill, followed the signs, and somehow landed on I-90 headed for Mercer Island. Took the Rainier Ave exit and headed south, but did not manage to get back to the freeway until MLK Way dumped into it about three exits before the airport. That last 5 miles is my old neighborhood, so it wasn't so bad seeing the changes, most of them good.

Turned in the car and walked the 3 miles or so to the light rail station and across the skybridge to the side of the street the hotel is on. Back at the room, was pleasantly surprised that all my stuff was the way I'd left it, because even though the nice woman at the front desk had said I was all set to stay in the room for my whole trip, since I had two reservations (one for yesterday and one for the rest of the weekend) it could easily have been botched.

It was cold all day, but there was very little rain, and I wish I had brought my driving sunglasses.

Bringing my own GPS was a great idea, since I had both of my sister's addresses in it, and I added the museum yesterday.

The Ford Focus they rented me got lousy mileage - 1.5 hours of freeway driving, it displayed 28 mpg. My Corolla would have gotten 43. It took a lot of looking to find the headlight switch. The layout of the controls for the entertainment panel is totally whacked, I finally figured it out on the ferry ride. It wasn't hard to pair my cell phone with the bluetooth, and that worked fine when I called my sister a couple of times.

My sister gave me a pint jar of home-canned dill pickled green beans to donate to the con suite.

I took photos at the museum & the ridge house. Probably will wait till I get home to upload them.

Plans for tomorrow:
Wake up whenever
Have breakfast somewhere
Look for early-arriving filkers
Opening ceremonies at 6:30.
howeird: (Default)
Emptied a different seafood cat food can into the kitty bowls this morning, they were still half full when I got home. More later ++

Got to work a little early, needed the extra time to check the overnight test, and to set up for a series of somewhat esoteric tests concerning closed captioning. Geek TMI here )  Today's tests were to verify that my test box could pass along, translate or block certain closed captioning formats. The challenge is to find video streams which actually have data in the closed captioning signal. Most channels always send the signal, as a placeholder, whether or not there are captions. Lucky for me, one of the previous testers listed which streams he had used, and with two exceptions those were still good. The test I liked best was the one where I had to insert an ad into a program, and watch that the closed captioning in the ad, and not from the original program, was being sent out the device. I don't have an actual ad server, but I do have a tool which lets me use any stream in the lab as if it was an ad. So I was watching some Dr. Seuss show on KQED, and inserting video (and closed captions) from Dr. Phil and The Doctors. On the caption monitor they all run together, and some of the sentences were quite funny.

Lunch was at Denny's, because I needed their wifi to update my netbook's virus protection. Good chicken fried steak. 

Back at work, just as I was sitting on the john, my sister phoned. I called her back from my desk. She's a civilian who works for the Navy, and just had her 10-year security review, which should have taken about 10 seconds, but took much longer because they grilled her on her Facebook contacts. Totally bogus. They can't get FB at the station, and most of the people they were asking about were like 3rd cousins twice removed in Boston, and in England, and all the nieces and nephews in Israel, which were all there 10 years ago but there was no FB then.

I told her about our cousin's sudden demise. Not really a cousin, but the wife of a fellow who shares the same great-grandfather. Or maybe it's two greats.Read more... )Last night I found the obituary in cousin's local newspaper, and it gave no information other than her name, age,  and which funeral place was making the arrangements. It didn't list next of kin, cause of death, or anything about services. It lists the funeral home, which only has her name, no services planned. Since it's a Jewish funeral, it probably has already happened.

We chatted for a long time, and I asked why she and her husband were not taking the two weeks of shutdown and visiting her in-laws back east. She said that's a once every 5 years thing, and they don't have a shutdown this year, and she donated a week's vacation to one of her co-workers.  And she and husband are taking a week in February to go to Hawaii.

As I was plugging the phone in to charge it, it rang again, this time it was a theater friend who retired to a seniors community near Sacramento, to chat and let me know she and her boyfriend are going to Hawaii. Small world.

++Went online to see if there were any other cat foods which would be good for a diabetic cat but maybe taste better. The concensus was Fancy Feast Classic. Gluten-free, wheat-free- rice-free. After work I went to Petco, they were on sale $11 for 20 of the tiny cans. That's more than twice what the PetSmart brand is, but if I am throwing half of that down the disposal it comes out to the same price. Bought 5 each of 4 flavors.

Home, fed the cats half a can each of the new stuff, and they vacuumed it up. Domino barfed some up in one big heave. Then went right back to eating. I have a bulimic cat. :-(

Took care of some bidness. The new pocket wizard arrived, which surprised me. This is the first time in ages that something I ordered from Amazon on Prime 2-day delivery actually got to me in 2 days. This meant I was able to sign up for a photo shoot Friday night. Same group as the last, I just hope they get enough people (I was the only one signed up besides the host and his helper).  Unlike the broken transmitter, which is shaped like a mini walkie-talkie, this one is flat, and has a hot shoe on top so I can used my flash as well as the studio lights, and it will use TTL to adjust the exposure. If it works it will make for many more usable photos.

Got RMA instructions for the broken PW, boxed it in the same outer box the new one came in, printed a UPS label and will drop it off tomorrow.

After that I went to clean up Domino's mess, but someone had beat me to it. eeeeeew.

Last night I walked through some of Adobe's Lightroom tutorials, and learned everything except how to save my changes without destroying the original photos. The user interface is not at all intuitive for the basic stuff. It's pretty easy to do the hard stuff, though. Maybe I'll post some of the work-safe images tonight. Maybe. I need to de-resolution-ize one or two for Model Mayhem.

Plans for tomorrow:
2:30 sleep test results appointment. Will be thinking of fellow pulmonary patient [ profile] susandennis :-)
4:30 1-on-1 with the boss, if he doesn't cancel it.
Evening - more photo processing.
howeird: (Default)
Plan A was to get on the road before 9 so I could stop in at the Jiffy Lube on the way, but I was about 15 minutes later than that, so I punted it to tomorrow lunchtime. In a huge WTF, tomorrow they are having another holiday lunch in the break room. Last time was 2 weeks late for Thanksgiving, this one is 2 weeks early for Xmas/New Year. They probably could have had a real holiday party off-site for the price of the two on-site. I might even have gone. I have my sleep apnea testing tomorrow afternoon, so I'll basically blow off half a day.

The testing will actually be at home tomorrow night, in the afternoon I have to go to Kaiser and be shown how to wear the test gear, take it home, at the usual time sleep in it, and bring it back the next day before 9 am. Rush hour traffic is going to make that a challenge.

Lunch was at Jack in the Box. I have never eaten there. Decided that the sourdough jack needed a try. It was a FAIL - I don't know what they put in the Special Sauce, but it does not go with sourdough or burger. It was not inedible, just the wrong combination of flavors. Like tartar sauce on a meatball. Like malt vinegar on a corn dog. And they make their shakes the west coast way - it's soft ice cream which has been deposited directly into the container, and it needs half an hour to melt enough to get through a straw. They did put fake whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Nice clean place, plenty of seating. But all the customers were men. A few were on their bluetooth sets talking to the air but pointed in my direction so I could hear everything. One was in Spanish. One was in something Eastern European.

That will be my last visit. Too bad, they were not playing any music, they had a TV on with the sound up.

Work was pretty good, learned a couple of new features, re-learned one. Left at about 6:30 in the middle of a test which I need to ask the boss to re-write. It's to check that the new version will cleanly update from the last 12 versions. Trouble is, somewhere about three versions ago we stopped supporting updating from more than x numbers of versions ago, but I don't know what x is.

Home, changed out the litterboxes, fed the cats, fed myself. Watched some tivoed episodes of Storage Wars which has changed from a fun and interesting program where abandoned storage units were auctioned off and we got to see what was in them along with the winners, but is now a personality show with a handful of regular bidders who hate each other and bid up the units in pissing contests which over-inflate the prices. I don't like any of the regulars anymore. Now if they find something unusual which may be valuable, they take it to some "expert" for an appraisal. The experts have clearly paid the producers for the honor. Let's say you won't see any of these people on Antique Roadshow.

And now I'm here.

Early in the day I received a message on FB from a cousin in Boston that her aunt Cathy had passed away in her sleep last night. She was someone I had emailed a few times, because she was finishing up a book on the town my grandmother (my mother's mother) was from. She was married to the son of one of Mom's first cousins. Boston cousin did not know that side of the family too well - her mother's side  - because she grew up in Santa Cruz and until I moved here, she had no relatives from that side within 3,000 miles. It was a huge family, though, my grandmother was one of 13 children. I passed the news to one of our new york cousins, the son on my mother's sister, and asked him to contact his mother, who is with his father on a Las Vegas vacation. I phoned my Baltimore sister, since she can't log into FB from work, and she pointed out that Cathy was a year younger than me. And that I had just added her son to my FB friends list in time to wish him a happy birthday last month.

Plans for tomorrow
Oil change
sleep test fitting
sleep with hardware

Late Again

Dec. 13th, 2011 12:39 am
howeird: (Default)
9 am meeting week, so I was at work a little after 8. Spent most of the day looking at the database for tests I could run, and ended the day with one which needs to run overnight.  Lunchtime I went to Kaiser to get them to override the hold on my Lipitor prescription, then went to lunch at a hole in the wall on Stevens Creek Blvd which advertised Chinese  take-out, but all the featured foods were Thai, and while the woman in charge looked Chinese, the music playing too softly for anyone not behind the counter to hear very clearly was from rural northern Thailand. The non-featured food was all like Panda Express. If I go there again I'll ask her what part of Thailand she's from.

Home after work, watched the Seahawks finally show up for a game, while the Rams did not. Seahawks need to fire number 25 - he's a defensive player, a pass defender. He holds on almost every play, and he celebrates, taunts and is generally a jerk. You would think a Stanford grad would have more brains. He cost the team two extra first downs on the goal line (the team beat back the first 6 downs), and a touchdown. The defensive front line is gonna spank him after the game, for sure.

Halftime was an interior designer festival. The wider bedroom curtain arrived, So I got up on the ladder, took down the two narrower panels, and clipped the wide one in place, which was a bit of a chore because I only had clips for every three pleats. As I got down from the ladder and straightened out the bottom, I saw I had hung it upside-down. Back on the ladder, and fixed that. Then I took one of the narrow panels and gaffer taped it up in front of the bedroom's door to the patio, which is a big window with ineffective slat blinds. That should give me a mostly dark bedroom, especially if I close the door most of the way. I would close it all the way but the cats would yell to get in, and I like to have them around.

Dinner was lunch leftovers. And I am now out of ice cream. Must do something about that tomorrow.

I donated £50 to my UK cousin's wife's project to ride a bike with another midwife across Ethiopia in March to raise money for maternity care facilities and education there. On Facebook she thanked her uncle Howard for the donation. Her uncle doesn't look anything like me. :-(

Called my insurance agent and signed up for the earthquake add-on to my renter's insurance.

Launched iTunes and took a closer look at the album art which TuneUp had added, and ended up scanning in about a dozen covers which they had incorrectly matched. Also corrected some data on about five duplicate album tracks which consolidated them into one album. On the survey they sent to me, I said there was only a 50% chance I would recommend their product.  It is not worth the $50 fee. Considering all the work I had to do to repair what it had "fixed", it ought to be free, or close to it.

CO2 cartridges arrived, I'm good for another 4 months or so of seltzer.

Plans for tomorrow:
Ice cream restocking
howeird: (Default)
The plan was to go with my baby sister & her hubby to the Aquarium, then to Annapolis for dinner. Instead we got caught till noon in the mother of all family reunions, all my Israeli nieces and nephews brought their children (who had been banned from the wedding) and all the other relatives showed up to goo goo and gaa gaa, and talk among themselves. I was able to avoid the babies pretty much, and somewhere out there on several different cameras is a group photo. One or my grand nephews refused to be in it, and it is not surprising he looks a lot like I did at that age. I'll have to find out which one he is and encourage him. I think he belongs to my oldest nephew.

Mother of the groom had arranged for us to get free passes to the Aquarium, she works for a company which helped fund it, you see. So we got to her work but it was lunchtime and the woman with the passes was out, so we walked to the inner harbor and had lunch at Uno, which is billed as Chicago grill,  unlike the CA marketing which is a pizza place. On our way we took some photos of sis in front of the USS Constellation, it seems her commanding officer (she is a civilian engineer at a Navy base) had come to them from special duty on this tall ship.

She went back to get the passes while husband & I sat outside and took in the view.

We walked through the entire place. It is more than an aquarium, it has a massive rain forest exhibit and another big Australian flora/fauna section. The aquarium part pretty much sucks for photography, and does not hold a candle to Monterey Bay.

We returned the passes just in time, 4:45, and the nice lady came down to the lobby to claim them. She can model for me any time. Gorgeous eyes & complexion.

We had expected to be out much earlier, we were all fading and it was a longer drive to Annapolis than they thought so we went back the hotel for naps, then went to dinner at the same place I'd gone Friday. They had the crab cakes, loved them. I had something resembling cioppino on linguine. Dessert was chocolate cake, which was kind of dry but the dark chocolate icing was good.

Back at the hotel, Big sister and her husband were at the computer in the lobby, I had a chat with them, mostly with my sister, who seriously does not understand that 23 grandchildren growing up in poverty is not God's Plan. It annoys me because other than her religious beliefs she is a brilliant person.

Up to my room,  I am as packed as I can be, just have the last minute stuff left.

And I found a cable, so am backing up my photos from the camera to the netbook. I'll convert them to JPG and upload some to FB to share with family. The cable was with the external DVD player I brought but have not used.

Plans for tomorrow:
Breakfast, maybe with two of my sisters.
Complete packing.
Check out before noon
Shuttle to airport
Fly home. 
howeird: (Party)
My nephew and his One True Love™ are married. Finally. I have been looking forward to the wedding for a long time, especially when my British cousins announced they would be there. And from Israel, instead of just my sister and her husband, my #2 niece and her two brothers came too. Two other nieces were either busy with work or babies or both.

Also good to see were three of my four surviving first cousins and my only remaining aunt & uncle.

And I got to know the husband of one of my sisters' oldest childhood friends, who was packing a Nikon D2, and knew how to use it. I had the D300, which is significantly lighter artillery. There was also an official photographer, who was impressive in his politeness and ability to organize posed photos which looked almost candid. He had a super telephoto plus a standard zoom, on two separate cameras. I'll be looking forward to seeing what pix the newlyweds pick out.

The wedding was supposed to start at 5 o'clock sharp, but was maybe 15 minutes late. It was outdoors on the lawn in perfect weather.  It was a traditional Jewish wedding, except the rabbi indulged in more Hebrew prayer than is strictly required. His cantor voice is strong and confident, and annoyingly high and nasal. I was tempted to yell out "don't quit your day job" but then realized this is his day job. His speech about the couple was articulate and touching, and there were even a couple of laughs.

As the couple exited up the aisle, the little bubble makers came out and most everyone made a stream of bubbles for them. My usually staid Israeli sister had a blast with that, and one of her sons told her "enough already" in Hebrew. :-) She kept blowing bubbles though.

After the ceremony my sister wanted me to take some photos of the happy couple, but the bride got sick, so that didn't happen, and the reception was delayed a bit as she rehydrated and got back to semi-consciousness.

The attendees were seven kinds of reunions, relatives from all four sides who had not seen each other in years, friends of the bride and of the groom, ditto. So instead of everyone going to their not completely intelligently assigned tables, the center aisle became a cocktail party. That took a while to fix. Then the principles made their grand entrances, toasts were made by the matron of honor, the best man and the fathers of the couple. Well, not really toasts, because they did not include the obligatory  "raise your glasses" line at the end of each speech, so most of the champagne went untouched.

Dinner was a buffet, traffic jam style. Not too bad, except once again people wanted to stand & chat and eat their food where they got it instead of clearing the way for the next folks in line.

The music was constant during the meal, which was STOOOPID, it pretty much prevented cross-table conversation, and seriously maimed chat between people sitting next to each other. Nice choice of tunes, though.

There was dancing, and lots of places outside the dining hall to chat, so I was able to re-connect with cousins who are really quite amazing people who were very close when we were growing up, before my family moved to Seattle. My UK cousin was my big sister's pen pal through childhood, and he arranged for me to write to a little red-haired girl down the street, whom he later married. She and I have kept in touch on FB, as well as their son & daughter. The daughter was at the wedding too, overcoming MS and an ear infection to be here. She drives a mean scooter. Son and his wife volunteered to stay home and keep an eye on their grandfather, whom I think is 93. You wouldn't know it by talking to him, though.

We were among the last to leave - in fact we were the last to leave except for the groom. Mostly blame my baby sister, who claims to be non-social but put her in front of people she knows and she can chat forever.

I took a lot of photos and was surprised that I didn't need to change batteries despite using the internal flash for half the shots.

So that Big Adventure is over, and was worth full price.Maybe more.
howeird: (Colonel Sanders)

After my last entry I was falling asleep at the keyboard, so I took a lie-down, did not wake up until 1 pm. Too late to get together with the Brits, so I did Plan C, took the shuttle to light rail and took the train all the way to the end of the line. It was cloudy and there was a steady breeze and it was cold, and I was in a T-shirt, jeans and no hat. Inside the train it was comfortable enough, though not warm, so instead of getting off (I had a day pass) and being a tourist various places I stayed on to the end, which was a shopping center with a Burlington Coat Factory, where I bought a faux leather jacket, a blue dress shirt and black-on-black striped tie and silver tie clasp for the wedding. I had the nice man cut the tags on the jacket, and wore it out of the store. I was a bit hungry, but dinner was in a couple of hours so I went back to the train station, and timing was excellent - he pulled out about 3 minutes after I was on board. Back to where I started, called for the shuttle and back to the hotel.

Middle sister and baby sister were in the lobby chatting, husbands there too. I said hi, gave hugs and then went to my room to park my stuff and change for dinner. Brought the camera, and got a GPS tag which would last the evening (the GPS unit is clumsy to use when using the built-in flash). They opened up the dining room at about 6, it was nice and well lit and I was going to take lots of photos but then the mother of the bride turned down the lights and ruined that plan. Tables were circular, and there were no good angles for un-posed pix so I took the camera back to my room and came back down.

Lots of people I did not know and will never see after the wedding. Grandmother of the groom (my sister's mother-in-law) whom I have not seen since my sister's wedding, and have not wanted to because she was a shrill person with no discernible taste, has become much less shrill, and unlike 30+ years ago, not once did I have the urge to harm her in any way. There was wine and soft drinks, but I didn't notice the cans of soda because they were completely buried under the ice. Most people had wine. Wine makes my jaw hurt, and I described my various symptoms to the father of the bride who is a doctor of pharmaceutical something, and he explained part of what it might be. Not sulfite, because I have the same reaction to whiskey. He said that some people cannot fully metabolize the alcohol, and that leaves some kind of acid in the blood stream which causes a flushed face and similar symptoms to mine. He said there is a drug for that, one which is used to treat alcoholics.

Dinner was chicken parmesan made with dried pamesan cheese, partially dried out pasta, alleged vegetables, something resembling salad, plus cookies and brownies. And garlic bread. It was edible.

I sat with my baby sister, her husband, my aunt & uncle, grandmother of the groom and one of her sons & his wife. There was much to talk about. I correspond with my aunt & uncle regularly, they live in NYC. The bride & groom made an entrance after most everyone was there, and sat at a table in the back with their friends.

Lots of chatting, I took a couple of phone photos. After most folks had gone, some of the uninvited gathered in the lobby and we chatted. Some cousins of the groom on his father's side, from Texas. Uninvited to the dinner, but invited to the wedding.

I ducked upstairs, and brought down some gifts for mother of the bride, she was pleased.

Changed my return flight to Delta business class and canceled the SW reservation. One stop instead of two, reserved seat. I'll be dinged for $25 for my checked bag, I think. I'll use the SW credits to go to Disneyland or Seattle.

Will take a quick look at FB, then bed, and set the alarm this time. If the sun is out, I'll go downtown and be a tourist. We have to be at the hotel by 4 to get the shuttle to the wedding. And I need to change first.

Travel Day

Oct. 22nd, 2011 10:32 am
howeird: (Puke Massage)
Did not need to wake up at 5 am yesterday, but it gave me half an hour to get out of bed and do all those things I needed to do for the trip. At the airport in plenty of time - almost no line at Security Theater, idiots made me take off my belt for the full-body scanner, even though it is non-metallic.

Was there in plenty of time to find my gate and find breakfast. Not much to find, even though there were a dozen places to eat most have a minimal menu pre-lunch. Ate at Joe's. There was toast, and I considered raising it in honor of [ profile] johnnyeponymous' birthday, but it was sourdough, which did not seem appropriate.

I was way toward the end of the second line for the Southwest flight, but lots of airheads were not paying attention to their numbers and lined up behind me. I found an aisle seat toward the back next to a Pacific Islands couple. The first leg was to San Diego, so as expected when we landed most people got off, so I grabbed a slightly better window seat for the Baltimore leg.

Mostly uneventful. A Muslim family (two children and Mom) sat in the row in front of me, Dad sat next to me. He started off sitting across the aisle from them, but the kids wanted him closer. American-born man, he went through the motions of Islamic prayer once during the flight. His prayer pamphlet was in English with a big line of Arabic on almost every page. It was getting dark, but he did not turn on his light, and I thought it's Friday so maybe he is not allowed to, but his wife turned hers on, go figure. She did not sound like a local. The kids were bubbly but non-screaming. In fact, the obligatory screaming infant which was across the aisle and two rows up made googling noises when he should have been screaming. Nice for me, but I'm sure the union will be sending Guido out to talk to him later.

Arrived in Baltimore, longlonglong walk to the baggage claim, but at least they had moving pathways, unlike the much more modern  SJC. That's a big WTF - brand new airport built to lure folks away from SFO and OAK, and they don't put in moving walkways. SJC does have nice slick floors which are easy to roll things on, where BWI is all wheel-gripping carpet.

Saw a text message from my Poulsbo sister that they were at baggage claim,  but it turned out to have been sent earlier, I phoned and they were at dinner. Called the hotel for the shuttle, which took half an hour. Should have got the rental car after all.

Long drive out to the hotel, the room is huge (a suite, really). Unpacked, then went to the lobby and asked how to get to someplace for dinner. Turns out their shuttle will take me to several places. As I was waiting for the shuttle, Poulsbo sister & husband showed up,  so we chatted till the shuttle got there.

 I picked G&M, which is famous for their crab cakes, waited half an hour for a seat, ordered the crab cake dinner with cole slaw & mashed potatoes. The waiter was in his 50's, way more formal than he needed to be for a family restaurant.

The crab cake was not a cake at all, it was simply high quality crab meat shoved into a Jello mold and baked for a bit, and highly salted. The cole slaw was decent, the mashed potatoes were mostly inedible, they appeared to have partially fossilized, along with the gravy on top.

There was no toast, but there was a dinner roll, which I raised in honor of [ profile] johnnyeponymous' birthday, and posted a photo on FB.

Had the banana cream pie for dessert. They used heavy whipping cream, and whole sections of banana. It looked terrific, but it was bland thick and very slow going.

Called for the shuttle back to the hotel, he was there in 15 minutes.

All during the plane ride I had a nagging feeling I had forgotten something, because I always do. Unpacking I saw what it was - I had packed the wrong shirt for the wedding. I thought I was grabbing my best blue long sleeved dress shirt, but what came out of the bag was a long sleeved blue shirt with a Microsoft logo. I may wear it anyway, since nephew had also worked for Microsoft for a while (summer internship). But I will probably wear the burgundy short sleeved shirt I flew here in. They have a guest laundry here if I need to wash it.

The pillows here are the ones I thought I was  buying online a month or three ago. I'll have to look into that again.

Slept till 7:30, went down to breakfast at 8, sister & bro-in-law were still there (I expected them to be in at 7 and gone by 8). They hung around and we chatted while they finished & I had breakfast. As we were wrapping up, mother of the bride found us, and we moved over to their table (mother & father, brother & his fiancé) and chatted, and blocked traffic. Nice folks, they laughed at my jokes.

So, back in my room, wifi is very slow, and drops out from time to time.

No real plans for the day, my UK relatives are staying at the inner harbor harbour, and seem to have other plans for the day. I think they will be at the dinner tonight, if not, I'll see them at the wedding tomorrow. I may take the shuttle to the airport and light rail to the inner harbor, if it runs there. Maybe I'll rent a car. Who knows.

Turn turn

Oct. 18th, 2011 10:12 pm
howeird: (Default)
Lots of spinning of wheels at work today, but in the end learned a big chunk of technical stuff which I had no idea our product could do. Or any product for that matter. It had to do with restricting IPTV programs from going through internet firewalls.

For lunch I went with our resident Palestinian to a place he said was Halal, but instead of it being Middle Eastern it was Tandoori food. The lamb was great, the tandoori chicken a little more blackened than usual but still okay. I have no idea why they saturated the salad with pepper, though. Also with us was my Vietnamese next door neighbor, whose wife & baby will be on my 2012 calendar.

Vet called, Pumpkin is seriously diabetic. Rather than try more diet or insulin, I went for Plan C, which was to have his bad tooth taken care of, and his blocked ear fixed at the same time. They tried to do the ear last visit, and got a chunk of wax out, but he was not sitting still for flushing out the main lump. So they'll do it while he's asleep. That will be a week from tomorrow, after I get back from the wedding. The theory is his tooth and his ear are making him too miserable to eat much. Both have to be taken care of sometime, may as well be now. The vet would have preferred for Pumpkin's diabetes to be more controlled, but I doubt that will happen any time soon.

Petco after work to stock up on litter, dental treats and higher carb canned food. Also went online and put in a subscription for litter cartridges every 2 weeks. $23 each in the store, $16 each online.

Home, shifted the plastic tubs from the study to the big closet by the kitchen where they belong. Also put in all my instruments, suitcases, and boxes of photos which will eventually be unloaded onto the rack which is in there. And the Apple 3G belongs in there too, soon.

Those out of the way, shifted enough boxes and a CD rack and hauled the empty file cabinet over to where I want it, and unpacked all the files from their boxes. All but one, actually, the first one I boxed up seems to be missing. It is probably in another box somewhere. Nothing huge, except it has all my postage stamps and some other postage related items. 

During dinner, I watched two episodes of Rocket City Rednecks which alleges to be about a Huntsville, Alabama  gang which includes at least two rocket scientists, their dad, who had something to do with the space program way back when, and at least two trailer trash non-scientists friends and/or relatives. It's like a space-themed Red Green, except they have not discovered the importance of duct tape. The stupidity leaks out of every pore of this show, and I think I'm done after two episodes.

Plans for tomorrow:
Unpacking will move the book shelves and CD racks where they belong, and unpack as much of those as possible.
I don't think I will get much unpacking done Thursday, because I need to pack for my Baltimore trip, which is Friday morning. There are way too many things on in my mind for my nephew's wedding to feel real.


Jan. 31st, 2011 12:32 am
howeird: (Trumpet)
A good day with much diverse entertainment.

Skipped breakfast and made it to the two-fers. Heard one very young diva (middle school age, is my guess) who sang something which sounded like it was from an obscure modern musical, complete with props. Her voice and stage presence are better than average but she's not as good as she thinks she is. In a couple-six years maybe she will be. [ profile] lemmozine did a couple of numbers, on guitar again.

Juried one-shots included the young diva, followed by her brother. She was not as good the second time around, IMHO, her song rambled and she wandered a bit. She sang a capella, brother accompanied himself on guitar. Judges Mark & Mary gave lots of good advice to all the participants, some of which would apply to me had I taken that leap.

Song contest was next. I liked  Andy Ross's, [ profile] figmo's and Creede Lambard's entries best, but the judges went for craftsmanship and gave the award to Char McKay. The winning song was only barely technically on topic, and while I agree is was the best piece of writing, and superbly sung, I don't think it was quite in the spirit of the contest.

Lunch break. I ate downstairs in the hotel. Slow service, okay food except for the cold coffee and flat soft drink.  It was too @!#$%^& cold to go outside.

Next up was Interfilk guest Ben Newman's sci-fi musical A Walk In The Day. Mostly tuneless songs, no romance. Ben played guitar throughout, and though he played one of the characters, he mouthed every single word in the script. This was a concert version, everyone had a script. Nobody had music, except maybe Ben. Good sized cast for a community theater production (~ 10 people), good basic idea. Humans land on a planet where the intelligent species is nocturnal, and light can blind/kill them. One human is as a pacifist Quaker, one is a Marine. The plot was mostly pretty easy to follow, but when they were done with Act II, I was needing an Act III to wrap things up. There isn't one.

Band scramble next, entirely too much time between sets for audio setup. Clue: keep your mikes at the back of the stage, bring the ones you need forward as needed. Don't break down the entire set each time. The bands were mildly entertaining. I left toward the end when one of the guitar audio connections achieved ~ 1000% modulation. It hurt. The leader of that band was livid.

I had somewhere to be, anyway. Went back to my room, did the necessaries, got my coat and hat and braved the chill (42F, wind chill factor about -12) and walked the three blocks to 13 Coins, where my Poulsbo sister and her husband joined me for a delicious dinner. Very posh place, worth it for a special dinner.Both of them are acoustical engineers, so I told them all abot the Conflikt audio foo. We got all caught up, and the early start meant they were able to get home at a reasonable hour and I made it to the early stages of the Smoked Salmon filk.  Left after half an hour went it took a turn for the morose, back again after catching up on CNN's campaign to oust Mubarak.

Lots of enjoyable filk, Kathy Mar, Creede, Dr. Mary, Andy, Kanef and lots of others sang out. I had something I kinda wanted to sing, but chickened out.

Back to my room, got packed (about 90%), wrote this.

Plans for tomorrow:
Up at 7
Check out by 9
Light rail to Amtrak
Amtrak south towards CA.


Nov. 1st, 2010 12:23 am
howeird: (Default)

Janice* and I have a tradition whenever we're both in town on Halloween to go see a movie, and avoid the trick or treaters. This time we went to dinner first, a Burmese/Chinese place in Palo Alto a couple of blocks from the Mountain View border called the Green Elephant. The food was outstanding. Huge portions, and delicious. The service was iffy, but only in minor ways - I had to ask for my rice and iced tea a couple of times. The waitresses were in costume, both women obviously Chinese, one looking very strange in a colorful Mexican skirt, white blouse and little South American hat. The other was in a more Asian costume, hard to describe. A black silk coat over a red and black dress.

The movie was Convicted, and all in all it was very good. Not my kind of movie, but very well written and directed, the cinematography ranged from good to Wow!, and my only complaint is they made sure not to cast anyone who was prettier than Hilary Swank. They made an exception for Minnie Driver, but the rest of the cast was amazingly unattractive. The plot was riveting, but there was one huge hole in it, they never showed what grudge the arresting officer had against the guy she arrested. For me this was critical, for Janice not so much. YMMV.  Worth matinée.

Earlier in the day, I was back on the computer editing home movie video, but just before I was about to burn disc 6 (Reels 11-12), I realized that the home movies of the north pole, which took up all of Reel 12, were taken in 1970, Reel 11 was the summer of 1965, and I was missing the beginning of 1965. Found that on Reel 13.  Looking closer, it seems Reel 11 was Dad's "Seattle Reel", and skipped around between 1965 and 1966, arranged geographically instead of chronologically.

Very odd. I always thought of Dad as a linear thinker, but I guess sometimes he drew his lines in a parallel universe.

Took three more items to Best Buy to recycle. The Sunday crew was not as AR as Saturday's had been. Dad's monitor, my leaky Epson printer and the major FAIL HP wireless all-in-one were the victims there. Then to Goodwill with two more fans, a VCR, two DVD players, a pre-HD TiVo and a pre-HDMI home theater switch/receiver.

That's all the big stuff taken care of. I still have a pile of hard drives to get rid of, including four external drives, two sort of working and two not.

After the movie and watching the Channel 2 wrap-up of the World Series/49ers/Raiders games, I made a Home Movies: Arctic Edition DVD, and started on the reel 13-11 project, which will take a few hours yet.

Plans for tomorrow:
Import Janice's camcorder tapes (she took a friend from Fiji to Yosemite and Disneyland)

*Janice is a long-time pal; movie, coffee, bicycling and dim sum buddy. Nothing romantic.

howeird: (Default)
This was the day to get all those pieces of computer gear which had been cluttering up the landings and hallways and computer room out of the way. And a big bag of outgrown clothes.

Plan A was to bring the clothes, a couple of pedestal fans and computers to Goodwill, and the rest to Best Buy. Went online to see what the policies were at both, and discovered that BB only takes three items per household per day. Goodwill said it takes working computers, but not peripherals or monitors. It takes fans and clothes. Looking at my rack of a thousand T-shirts, I decided to jettison all the swag T-shirts, most from companies I worked for, all at least two sizes too small for me. That filled up a whole large black outdoor trash bag, and freed up two 1' square cubes of rack space.

So, two scanners which were in the upstairs hallway and dad's old printer which had been partially blocking the downstairs landing went to BB. The clothes, two pedestal fans, my previous hand-built PC, Dad's computer and Mom's laptop went to Goodwill. I totally forgot about the VHS and DVD players and Sony A/V switcher/receiver which are on shelves in various closets. Maybe tomorrow I can get those to Goodwill. Dad's monitor and my HP wireless all-in-one can go to BB tomorrow I guess.

That only leaves a couple of bags of misc. circuit boards, wires and about a dozen assorted hard drives. And two piece-o-crap ASUS SATA DVD drives.

Home, spent some quality time with the cats. Sat in my recliner watching old episodes of Chuck with Domino grooming herself on the sofa next to me, and Pumpkin sacked out on my lap, upside-down. Watched the fish, the two baby jewel cichlids have come out of hiding, Mom & Dad still protect them some, but the big bad anacharis is now in the undergrowth hiding from them. They are now each bigger than he is. The babies are growing slowly, now about an inch long, and 3/4 inch high.  Also whipped out copies of the home movie DVDs (1-4 done so far) for the NY relatives who are in them.

Starbucks, with a stop at CVS for wallet windows which they no longer carry. They stopped carrying wallets, which I can understand, but windows? That's like not carrying vacuum cleaner bags because you don't carry vacuum cleaners.  Kept track of the World Series on the iPhone - Sports Tap is a great app. SF cardiologists are back in business, though it sounded like the Giants were never really in it, got behind 0-4 early and never broke out. Maybe the Halloween game will be better, what with Orange and Black being the colors of the day.

Home again, Edited reel 10, which is a stand-alone reel of our trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in NM, summer of 1964. Just about as soon as we got back Dad was laid off, and the remaining reels (11-15) are after April '65 when we were settled in Seattle.  I'll do the DVD of reel 10 tomorrow, no time tonight.

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