howeird: (Default)
This morning started with a wee bit of WFH, just enough to download ffmpeg from the company-blocked site, try it out, read enough of the html docs to know I wasn't going to master it in my lifetime. Took it and my photos from SBA to work on a thumb drive, was unsuccessful making it work with our box.

Lunch at Carl's because it's the closest eatery, and it was 95° outside. At work the aircon is cranking well, and I have a desk fan to help it out. Many of the places I usually go for lunch are not cooled.

Back at work, the guy who foisted ffmpeg on us came by to show me how to use his scripts, which did not work for me when I tried them on the command line (ffmpeg is a command line app). Turns out it works well with drag & drop.

Got it to convert one of my jpegs into a movie which our box could play.

To do this right, now I need to make movies from 50 different photos, in three different sizes. Which means batch converting them to those sizes. Easy to do in Photoshop (I ran a quick test on 720x480 which worked). Then those 150 files plus the 50 originals go onto a thumb drive, and get uploaded to the box, but not all at once. First test will be 30 at the smallest size. Final test will be 50 at the largest size, if none of the tests break the box first.

I may get it done tomorrow, but maybe not.

Because it was so hot, I decided it was shopping day, because I was running low on things I usually get at Costco and on Breyers ice cream, which I had a coupon for at Safeway. Electronic coupon, added to my card by their app.

Home, decided not to water the plants. Still too hot. I don't think the strawberries are going to make it, and one of the mint plants is shriveling up. The iceplant seems to be thriving. some of them are even flowering.

Lots of junk in the mailbox today, including stuff for the former owner who obviously did not submit a change of address to the USPS. Also a couple of pieces for people who have never lived here.

Put away the grocs, opened some windows and turned on the fans, but it's still in the 80s in here.

Watched the last two episodes of Shark Tank, and had a very expensive dinner. Meant to only eat half the 3-flavors lox package, but killed off all but a few pieces. And about a dozen olives. Three glasses of lime juice in Sodastream soda water with lots of ice. Finished off the two Breyers containers, which was about 4 scoops. Had to make room for the two new ones.

Updated Windows and Evernote.

Plans for tomorrow:
To work after lunch
YOTB rehearsal will be very warm
howeird: (Default)
Usually just the exercise of being in a show is enough to make me hurt in the usual places, but that wasn't enough today.

Had a very long sleep this morning, after staying up too late last night after the show. Went looked online for cordless hedge trimmers, and the corded one won;t do for the hedges on the side of the house where there;'s no outlet within 50 feet. Home Depot's web site had what I wanted, so I headed there, but while they had the trimmer, they did not have any extra batteries. They had plenty for some Korean brand they were pushing, but no Black & Decker. I was also looking for a garden hoe, and strange but true there were none of the type I wanted. And the "help" was no help at all. So I put the trimmer back on the shelf and went to Lowe's.

They wanted $10 more for the trimmer, but they had batteries and a hoe. The batteries come with three free spools of weed whacker cord which I have zero use for unless I need to garrote someone for fun & profit or maybe set up a Rube Goldberg door opener. But the price was the same as without, and they had no without.

Home, had just enough time to unpack the trimmer and set the battery on the charger before heading for the theater.

Sundays are always late, because the crew doesn't have to build the set (Thurs-Fri they have to take down the set after the show because there's children's theater performing in the following afternoon). So being 15 minutes late nobody noticed.

My microphone pack went south during the mike check, it took them a while to get the replacement up and running, but after that delay we were good.

For a sunny Sunday (80°) it was a big house. For Easter it was downright miraculous. About 100 people. This means word is getting out. The show went very well, lots of audience reaction, but after the show the big WTF is only half a dozen people stayed to meet the cast.

Stopped off at Denny's and tried the new bacon bourbon BBQ burger. It was pretty good. Would have been better without the burned bacon. The waiter kept speaking to me in Spanish. I guess the mustache makes me look Mexican.  He also kept calling me "patrón". Kind of amusing because literally it means "boss" but implies I Am Old. It reminds me of a song by Shel Silverstein called Time, in which a man is bemoaning his getting older, and says "Today in the park, a grown man called me 'Sir'".

Home, slapped the now-charged battery into the trimmer and attacked the two way overgrown hedge plants on the side of the house. They are on the border with the neighbor's carport, neighbor has a narrow strip which is part decorative stone, part dirt garden with a pile of rust-colored large-stone gravel in between. I had to trim back the plant so it wasn't taking over their property. Previous owner had let it go way too long.

Raking up all the trimmings both from today and yesterday was a lot of work too. It all went into the garbage, the trimmer went into the shed and the battery into the laundry room to re-charge.

All that needed recovery and rehydration. My recliner and the standing fan helped. So did a couple of glasses of seltzer with lime and one of coconut water. Watched some mindless TV too.

Caught up on FB and Quicken. And here I am. Debating whether to have dinner, or if the burger at 5-ish was dinner, or maybe I just need a couple of scoops of ice cream.

Plans for tomorrow:
Maybe BASFA, mostly to hype the last weekend of the show.
howeird: (Default)
Well, that's what I was expecting, but work was easy and for once the choreographer didn't mess with my Big Number, we just fine tuned what was already there, and practiced. She doesn't Get It™ that dancing in a musical is not about counting beats. it's about matching the steps to the music and the words. But at least she is a nice person, and doesn't turn rehearsals into 20-minute aerobics warmups. I showed up 15 minutes late, which turned out to only be 2 minutes late in actual rehearsal time.

And I continue to be amazed at how good the music director/accompanist is, and how he plays LOUDEST all the time. That won't even be okay when we have mikes on. Which I hate - this theater is designed for musicals, but we're not using the orchestra pit, and the whole band is amped. Grrr. I've done two shows there without mikes, with a real orchestra in the pit and nobody had trouble hearing me.

Stopped off for gas at Shell during lunch hour, but it wouldn't accept my Safeway discount card, so I got gas at World Oil on my way home instead. $4.16 vs. $3.89.

I am pretty sure Domino has gone mostly deaf. She doesn't hear me come in, and yesterday I had to tap on her head to wake her up after I got home.

Shirts are in the dryer, done, but they will probably stay there till tomorrow because they need to be fluffed some and I don't have time.

Medical stuff is good. Blood sugar levels are back to being reasonable, making my targets most of the time. Blood pressure is a little low, but that's what they want over at Kaiser. The down side of that is when I stand up after being at my desk for a couple of hours, I have to not walk anywhere because I'll be dizzy in about 10 seconds, and if I just stay in place it will pass in half a minute.

Plans for tomorrow:
Costco shopping (My annual Amex refund arrived a couple of weeks ago)
Maybe I'll have time to take the old V and hose off the front of the house and attach the hose I bought two months ago.
howeird: (Hawaiin Shirt)
Was up WAY too late last night, tried to sleep as long as possible, made it to work just in time to get a diet Coke and be at the 10 am team meeting. I was out of things to do, so I volunteered to test a new tool which was developed to help customers monitor a bunch of our boxes.

That didn't take long. It actually took longer to write up the results.

But it did make me late for lunch, which was Plan Aed for a trip to a new nails place I found on Yelp as close as Sassy Nails, but in the opposite direction on El Camino. Orchid Nail Lounge, found on Yelp. I didn't find it, probably because (looking at Yelp again) it isn't on El Camino but on one of its cross streets. But while I didn't find it on the right side where I expected,  on the left I saw Barbie's Nail Spa, so I took the first available U-turn to get there, but before I reached it I saw a much less provocative name, Nails by Kathy, next to  Thaibodia, which was also due for a visit. Kathy was not in, but her sister Ann was, but she was in the middle of a manicure and asked if I could come back at 2:30. No problemo, went to Thaibodia for lunch because their service is notoriously slow and I needed to kill an hour.

Ordered the drunken noodles, and yes, it took 20 minutes to arrive despite me being the only one ordering at the time. And it was dry and anything but drunken, with the wrong kind of noodles, and the chicken and onions cut too large. As I was digging in, she brought a salad-like object. And in another trip the soup. Yup, service still sucks there. I asked for "medium" spicy but it was more like 5 stars. So it took a long time to eat. The Thai Iced Tea was excellent, and helped detoxify the noodles, a sip for each forkful.

It didn't take as long to get my check as usual, and my change arrived in less than 5 minutes, so I was 15 minutes early back at Kathy's. The person being manicured was a very attractive woman somewhere near my age, with platinum hair streaked with black (a Quality hair dresser job) and she struck up a conversation. We had a nice chat, I gave her my card, she Ann said her name was Joy. Joy was wearing a light button-down sweater over a corset-like chemise. Nice figure.

Ann was lovely too, and single - very odd for a nails person. Kathy was out because her son had something serious enough for the ER.

So, two attractive single women who will talk to me, in one day. Yay!

Last night the director had announced we were doing publicity photos, half an hour early,  and asked me to bring two pairs of pants - khaki and black, a white dress shirt, suspenders and the costumer was bringing a bow tie. I remembered to grab the clothes and put them in the trunk of the car before going to work. But I forgot my script.

So I left work half an hour early to go home and get my script, and while I was there I got the mail, which included a lovely surprise from [ profile] lemmozine - a set of his Indegogo project CDs. I'm listening to one now. He sounds different than in person. Mostly in a good way. When I Grow Up I Want To Be Snidely Whiplash is currently entertaining me. The singing is adequate but the finger picking is nothing short of amazing. And this isn't even one of his more challenging numbers. Thanks, Lem!

The lamb stew was done, and had started to cool, so I acheologicked a place in the fridge for the crock, and in doing so discovered a 3/4 full bottle of rosé I had completely forgotten about. It was from an experiment to see if a small dose of wine before be would help me sleep. It didn't.

Got to the theater about 5 minutes late, to find the director and most of the cast sitting outside. I asked if it was a case of the best planned lays, but director said no, it was just really nice outside. And it was, mid-70s. A Jekyll-Hyde day, started off with rain.

We went inside, I got changed into black pants, black suspenders and white long-sleeved shirt and bow tie. The photo session was a total clusterfuck, the music director and the stage manager both took pictures with real camera, and The Voice of The Plant used his cell phone. Here are a couple from the music director which came out okay:

Changed back into civvies and the plan was to block Act II, but as usual, the director got so caught up in minutiae that we didn't make it to the end. Had I known that would happen, I could have gone home an hour early, because I get eaten early in the act, and don't appear again until the finale.

I'm called for tomorrow, but he gave us Wednesday off, mainly because for some unknown reason neither the theater nor the usual rehearsal backup place was available. I may also be called for Sunday, but I need to send a message to the choreographer because she probably doesn't need me. I'm called for Thursday, at the backup location, but that looks like it may also be a waste.

Meanwhile, while punching holes in the revised script I'd printed Sunday, I found the black nozzle had clogged toward the end, so had to re-print the last 12 pages. Punched them and loaded it all into the folder behind the original. I need to print index tabs and transfer my blocking notes, but maybe that will be Wednesday.

Home, made a frozen dinner.
Plans for tomorrow:
howeird: (Default)
Rehearsals are great for getting a good night's sleep. Slept till the alarm went off, only woke once during the night.

Work on time, barely. Some work on the specs and tests. 68° at lunchtime, which was also dentist time. They did X-rays and a cleaning, no cavities, and the dentist didn't mention the insurance company slam dunking her request to re-do two of my crowns the right way.

Went next door to see if the little nail place could repair a broken nail, but the person who does acrylic left early. SO I went to the other next door for a light dim sum lunch. Light, because they were out of half the things I wanted (it was late).

Drove straight to the rehearsal hall, which tonight was a park clubhouse which I've been in many times before, for auditions and rehearsals, and because a LONG time ago I lived in the apartments across the street. King George apartments was a run-down, poorly built and even more poorly maintained place - my first night there the sewer backed up into the livingroom, they had to wet vac it and replace the carpet - owned by a Chinese family named King. I lived there from 1995-97, when they gave us all 8 months' notice, paid us about 3 months rent and the promise of first dibs on the new apartments they were going to build there. They bulldozed it right down to below the sewer pipes, and in about 3 years opened the Renaissance apartments, a 3-story affair (King George was 2 stories), high end. When we left, a 1-BR cost $300/month, when they re-opened it was $1600. Looking at the apartments from the park, they have about 1/3 vacant.

Rehearsal added some cast members who had conflicts, but the leading man was not there (he's in the show now onstage). Director filled in for him, sort of. About an hour of my time was wasted. This director doesn't have the concept of only calling people whose scenes he is blocking, he want to do it in chronological order, which in this case is very inconsiderate. The scenes are modular and it would have been easy to schedule nights off. I have no nights off during the entire Sunday-Thursday schedule, even though I'm not in half the scenes.

Home, by way of two 7-11s, I needed $300 cash from the ATMs, but those give $100 bills for anything over $200. I don't like to carry hundreds.

Had a light dinner. Caught up on FB. Downloaded all my financials on Quicken and both my state and fed refunds had come in, so I paid off a couple of credit cards.

And now to sleep.

Plans for tomorrow:
Consonance. I will probably miss Kathleen's concert, but really want to hear Mark's Toastmaster concert.
howeird: (Default)
Potlatch-SF this year is in SJ. I missed the opening ceremonies, first panel and parties because when I got home from work I was beat, and felt like I was coming down with a cold, and the prospect of battling 101 traffic to get to San Jose was daunting. So I went to bed.

And woke up at 11, made dinner, watched 5 episodes of TMZ (which is more than 1/2 commercials), went to sleep again.

So this morning I delayed the hunt for Girl Scout cookies and went to Potlatch, and enjoyed the conversations and readings but had to mail at 4:30 to get to the homeowners assn Chinese New Year dinner. They had snotlickers, egg rolettes, and soda/wine to start, the main course was fried rice, chow mein and something like chicken nuggets. There was also hot and sour soup which I declined. Dessert was an unidentifiable but tasty scoop of ice cream and almond cookies. I was stuffed. Made a couple of friends, two of them on my street and one not. Got some good advice on gardening and construction protocol (check everything with the manager first, the only thing you can't plant are trees).

I joked that I would not be setting up the meth lab or marijuana farm, and the guy who has lived here for 40 years said if I did it wouldn't be the first.

Home by 7:30, did some extra insulin.

Janice's remote arrived, lightning fast delivery by an eBay vendor. I hooked it up and created an account on Logitech for it, but that's all I can do till she gets me the makes/models of her gear.

Flag poles & anti-wrap-around clips arrived yesterday, after dinner I unwrapped them and now have two wrap-resistant poles, one with the Stars and Stripes and one with just the Stripes (Thailand). The holder is designed to display one flag at full and the other below at 3/4. They are not long enough to add my C&GS flag. :-(

Also waiting to be done were the index tabs for the Little Shop script. Downloaded Avery's template, printed out 14 inserts and slid them into the tab holders, and now they are on the script, very unevenly but mostly functional. The most useful thing is now I can easily flip to the music. I'm only in 4 numbers. I only tabbed 3. Oops.

Watched some of the NFL combine on Tivo. 6'7" 325lb offensive linemen running the dash is not my idea of a good time.

Plans for tomorrow:
Find Girl Scout cookies. Buy some.
Potlatch by 11. Bring some of Nancie's cookbooks for the "books about food" session.
Maybe study some lines
howeird: (How_photog_longlens)
Watched some of the woman's skeleton finals. The Aussie motormouth color bozo was way annoying so I muted the sound. The checkpoints were chosen for the convenience of the programmer and did not make much sense. Show me speed at every checkpoint, not just one. Show me the curve numbers in real time. Most important, show me the neat artwork on the helmets. One of the Canadians' was awesome, one was awful and the neon-haired American had a great idea but it was poorly executed. A bald eagle can look so much more real and 3D-ish.

Watched some women's speed skating short course, but those gals are huge, or at least they look like Amazons, even the Japanese. When I left it the tiny Chinese gal was still the fastest.

Boss was not at work, so the time I crashed the database will have to wait till Monday. Silly Cold Fusion setting, methinks. Very tedious data entry now that the one-liners are mostly done. Entering all the steps to test, including EVERYTHING so that people who speak Indglish as a 12th language can automate them. Gah!

Lunch with the gang, we went to Lillie Mae's chicken & waffles, which she just took over now that the soul food house next door is overflowing. Very beautiful waitress but they needed two of her and six more chefs. Our food came an hour after we ordered it.

The joke de jour was we should stop at Costco on the way back so the married guys (everyone in the car except me) could pick up flowers for V-Day.

Left early for a nail appointment. Manager does my nails, she says she can find me a woman, especially if I like Koreans. Which I do. She said she will call me and take me to one of the Coffee Shops Of Ill Repute in south San Jose and hook me up. She said the girls all are born in the US and speak English, but I doubt it. She can guide me with her Viet skills.

Home, stopped at the community center to drop off my $$ for the community Chinese New Year dinner a week from Saturday. They have some sort of dinner every month, I think. I skipped Xmas, because the community is very Christian.

Glad I took that moon photo last night, it's all clouded over tonight and probably will continue that way for a few days. Got a ton of compliments on FB. Also lots of views on Flickr. Boss sent a message asking how it was taken.  Just adjusted it to fit in 11x14 frame and ordered a posterboard print from Costco.

Anyhow, the overcast and threatening rain meant deleting from my calendar tomorrow morning's Capitola photo walk. Too early in the morning for me, and Hwy 17 in the rain is a white knuckle death trap.

Sat down with all the telescope pieces I have, and sort of figured out a way to insert a lens into the extension tube, but not how to attach the tube to the scope. After I finish this I'll look at Orion's web site and figure it out. It will probably be a while before there are clear skies.

Plans for tomorrow:
Michael's and/or Aaron's for poster hangers, slide archive boxes and shoebox-sized boxes for my old B&W negative collection.
3 pm Little Shop first rehearsal
6:30 annual meeting of San Jose Astronomicals.
howeird: (Default)
Slept better than usual, wanted to just stay in bed all day. But Domino was yowling at me in her scratchy "where are you?" "Feed me NOW" voice. She is perfectly capable of a kitty meow, but rarely uses it. Annoying.

Was out the door by 9, I think. Rain, blustery wind, dark skies. Like we had changed planets from last week. We don't need the rain. The mountains need snow, and all this wet stuff falling in the Bay and in the industrialized strip between SF and SJ is wasted. It would be more valuable bypassing us and falling on the Sierras where the reservoirs and river heads are. </rant>

Work started with boss pointing out that the 50+ test cases I entered in the database were all tagged the same way, and needed to be tagged with their sub-features. I had not sen the sub features because I expected them to start with the name of the feature, but they weren't. So that took a while.

After I finished that there was nothing much to do, so I emailed the team that I was running some errands and then having a later lunch. First errand was in the parking lot, updating the firmware for the in-dash unit. As advertised it took 11 minutes. I was hoping the update would allow the unit to read an SD card so I could upload the map info to it, but it didn't. However it did solve a problem I've had since May where the very fancy rear view camera acted like a dumb as a rock $15 model. Now it acts like the $150 model I bought - in addition to looking straight back, it now can show me approaching traffic in a split screen left and right, another view paints guides for parking in reverse and it can also look straight down for children's toys, children or terrorists. But I repeat myself.

Next errand was Costco where I paid $150 to have them scan the 500 slides I'd boxed last night. Boxes 1 and 10 are a mixture of slides I missed from the 1970s, the other boxes are from a trip made in 1989, which I hope has some significant views of intercropping in the south.
more than you ever want to know about my role in that )

When I left Thailand I had not idea if the farmers had bought into the plan. I was only there for a year. That was 1977. When I returned in 1989, I was jazzed to see most of the south's young rubber fields looked like my slide show.

Next stop was UPS, dropping off the Linksys router. They never got back to me with an RMA, but it didn't cost much to ship back, and it also didn;t cost that much for the router, so if they don't give me a refund I'm not out that much. And I can challenge the charge on the credit card.

UPS HQ is right near my favorite Chinese soup place, Chef Lee's, and it was an ugly day made for a big bowl of soup. House Special Wor Won Ton. Chicken broth with bits of pork, beef, shrimp, bok choi, slices of other veggies. They make the best in the area. When I worked nearby I went there for lunch a lot, and they were always almost empty, but today it was packed at 2 pm. Good to see. Nice folks, good food. I've had other dishes there, but that soup is my fave.

Back to work, had a chat with a couple of support engineers about 4K video, and also chatted with Automation Guy who had some Americana questions.

My weekly report did not take long. I spent a lot of hours on projects, but they could be summarized in very few lines.

Thought about going to Mathilda Starbucks and getting gasoline after, but it was an awful rainy windy day and I felt like home would be a better choice.

Dinner while watching 2 week old Elementary which keeps getting better. Reheated the chicken satay and peanut sauce (mixed some extra yellow curry paste in & chunky PNB) but I forgot what a microwave does to that stuff and ended up with brown spicy pasty powdery stuff. Also threw 4 of the beef wellingtons into the nuke, and they were delicious.

Sliced up a banana and topped it with chocolate ice cream and sprinkles.

Domino got another 1/3 can of kitty crack, we have now changed to Ocean Whitefish & Tuna which she seems to like better than the salmon.

Online, looked up the problem I was having with the SD card, and found it had to be formatted FAT32. Did that, took it out to the car and it uploaded info about the map. Ran Garmin's update app against it, and was told the map is up to date. Bummer because even though it claims to be 2013, it was published in 2012 and the info on it is from 2010. I am constantly running into exits which aren't there, and it can't find half the places I am looking for. To make life more frustrating, the firmware update erased all my saved locations. There apparently was no way to back those up or restore them. Grrr. All the portable Garmins can do this, which is why I got this unit in the first place - only Kenwood uses Garmin.

My favorite photo meetup send email about a model I really wanted to shoot, but it's on the same day as a book convention I have a ticket for. Another shoot I was attracted to is Sunday, but I have tickets to a show. The morel they are shooting tomorrow is pug ugly, they bring her in because she does Goth things I am not interested in photographing.

Plans for tomorrow:
Maybe 10 am library talk on electric vehicles.
howeird: (Default)
One of my FB theater friends posted a photo of a field of young pineapples, from the "Unbelievable sights" page with the caption "That awkward moment when you thought Pineapples grew on trees." He thought they did.

And this set me to looking for photos I'd taken in Thailand, where one of my jobs was to help rubber plantation farmers learn how to grow cash crops like pineapple in between the rows of rubber tree saplings. Malaysia and the FAO had developed a strain of rubber tree which yielded 10x what the Thai trees did, and were more insect and disease resistant. But it takes a rubber tree 7 years from seedling to producing, so the farmers needed to do two things: not pull up all their trees at once (we recommended 1/8 of the plantation each year) and find crops which could make them some money during those first 6 years.

I found photos on my randomly shuffled slide collection on Flicker, but they showed the pineapple bushes before the fruit had started growing. Looked like lemongrass. And that got me to remembering that I had three binders of slides which are on my "when I get around to it" list to have scanned and put on discs. So I turned the 3rd bedroom where they reside into a workshop and have filled 5 50-slide Costco boxes so far. Took a break for dinner, after I post this I'll do another 50 and call it a batch. There are more than 500 slides, but it's better to just do 500 at a time.

Dinner was Marie Calendar's amazing roast chicken frozen thing, with F&E ice cream for dessert.

Work today was all keyboard work. I started by taking some steps which had been sloppily cut and pasted into email messages, dumped them into Word and re-formatted everything into the same font and style and tweaked it for the next software release.

Next was a major cut and paste job, writing test case 1-liner summaries from the specs into Excel until boss cleared the database, and then pasted those into the database. Finished all I could with what I have on hand for specs (which are still under construction).

Lunch was going to be at impossible parking Starbucks. I wasn't hungry because I had somehow managed to go low blood sugar at 11, and ate glucose until I was back to normal. There was no parking, so I went to the next one on El Camino, which happened to be by Santa Clara Caltrain and I used to hang out there when I worked at Roxio at the other end of that lot. Set up my laptop because it needed some updates, and enjoyed the parade of co-ed eye candy. Today everyone was dressed to show of their fine little butts. Quite enjoyable.

Straight home from work, put the whites in the dryer and the shirts in the washer. The whites are now in the laundry basket waiting to be topped by shirts.

Now, back to putting slides in boxes.

Plans for tomorrow:
howeird: (Applause)

Taken through my windshield in the Costco parking lot.

After the driest January in history, tonight's rain was a bit of a surprise (the weather reports were for a 40% chance) but it was light enough to not be a problem driving home.

Today work was spent following up on yesterday's test. Boss had wanted step by step instructions for the customers by noon yesterday, but the steps I was given were so far from accurate that it wasn't until end of day I was able to show the program probably had something wrong with it.

The routine went like this:
1. Upload all the files for an update to the test machine
2. Run a program on the test machine to use those files to update the machine
Sounds easy, no? Well, the way our network is set up, it took 2 hours to do step 1, and it turns out that the files needed to be uploaded to a particular directory, and the program had to be run from not-that-directory-or-anything-close. And the update takes about half an hour.

I needed to run 4 tests to validate the customers' process.

The good news is all the Seattle TV stations were live streaming the Superbowl celebration parade on their web sites, and Channel 13 (Fox) was the only one with rights to broadcast the ceremony inside the football stadium, which also bled over into the next door baseball stadium. I found that out just in time to watch.

Initial estimates, which the idiot media kept reporting was 700,000 people. But that was at about noon, and by the time the parade made it to the stadium there were probably a million. It was incredible. Seattle only has 600,000 in the city limits, maybe two million in Greater. Channel 13 is actually in the next city south, Tacoma. Wait a minute, I just checked and they have moved to downtown Seattle. Probably eons ago. Nobody pays much attention to them except when Fox lands some coup like the superbowl. And I think they used to do Creature Features on Friday nights.

Anyhow, I'm guessing [ profile] susandennis got quite a show from her condo overlooking the stadium parking lot.

Speaking of football, I finally got around to checking for actual video showing Navarro Bowman being pelted with food by Seattle fans as he was carted off the field after being injured during the final playoff game. What I saw was after his cart was well into the tunnel, a few pieces of popcorn fell from above onto the end of the cart. none of it hit him, and it didn't look intentional. In short, no food was thrown. What reminded me was this:

Marshawn Lynch started a thing where it's a compliment to throw Skittles at players. Here he returns the favor. He is now an official spokesman for Skittles. When I was lookng for a Seahawks venue to watch the Superbowl, the place I found posted a plea to leave the Skittles home - they are impossible to clean up, especially in the nooks and crannies. Notice it is not raining. Seattle got a break from that, but it was freezing. Snow flurries likely tomorrow.

Lunch was at "New Tandoori Cafe", a hole in the wall created from two holes in the wall. It is next to Thaibodia, which was my original destination until I remembered how bad they suck after 1 pm. Tandoori was just plain bozarre. Layed out like two separate spaces, one a diner and the other more like a coffee shop, you order at what would normally be a hostess desk, seat yourself, and wait. I had the lamb tikka marsala, which had an odd taste but not awful, and it cleared out my sinuses over the course of the meal. The naan was huge and excellent. There was sliced lettuce with onion slice which they called a salad (no dressing). Biryani rice was the usual Indian crap. Some day India will learn how to grow rice. Maybe. Maybe not because the population is used to eating pig food. There was no water served or available. They had coffee and a refrigerated case full of mango lhasi and soft drinks.

After work I was starting to set Mathilda Ave Starbucks in my autopilot, when I remembered I had a long Costco shopping list. So Costco it was. I managed to spend > $200 and not get ice cream (they don't have any I like) or snack sized ziplock bags (they have none at all). So on my way home I gritted my teeth and picked those up at Fresh & Easy. F&E is not easy at all, every checkout line is self checkout. :-(

Home, lugged all that stuff to the car in 4 trips. Nothing in the mailbox. On the stoop was the pair of walking shoes I'd ordered. I went a half size larger because the identical pair I have been using is doing rude things to my toenails.

Pulled up the Little Shop performance schedule and poked those days and tech week into my Google calendar.  I hope I survive. 4 shows a week, 4 weeks. I bet they would get just as many audience members if they only did 3 weeks. And/or cut out the Thursday shows.

The director added me to their "secret" Facebook page, and several cast members sent friend requests. The guy playing the voice of Audry II has as warped a sense of humor as I do. It looks like a fun cast. I've already (last night) fallen in love with the ASM. She's hot, and laughs at my jokes.

After dinner I watched Channel 13's stream of the parade, but it stopped as they got to the stadium. They were going to live stream the inside ceremonies at 11, but I forgot. It'll be online tomorrow I'm sure. I saw most of it live, but there are spot I wanted to rewind and turn on closed captions.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work. No idea what I'll be doing. I ought to re-format those instructions which are in 3 different fonts.
Starbucks after
howeird: (The Gov - Nightshirt)
Starting at the middle and working my way outward.

Tonight's adventure was going to the home of a Sunnyvale Community Players board member to audition for Little Shop of Horrors. Apparently the person they cast as Mushnik either said no, dropped out, or they didn't find a match through the audition process. The director found me on Facebook, messaged me an invitation to audition, and tonight was it.

I had brought music, but the music director was already in callbacks mode, meaning teaching me one of Mushnik's songs from the score. He did a good job of breaking it down into bite-sized pieces, and I did a good job of breaking it and leaving pieces scattered on the floor by the piano. It's a patter song, which is bad enough, but on top of that the words and they lyrics don't quite jive, and even when they do the syntax is not natural to me. Funny thing is when he switched from playing the melody to just the accompaniment, I got it a lot better. It's a really cute tango. The fellow playing Seymour showed up in time for me to yell at him. Nice guy, cute as a button with a Velcro top.

After many many run-throughs of the 32 bars or so we rehearsed, the director and production staff were called in to hear me totally not nail it, and then Seymour and I read a couple of pages from the script. That I nailed. But it's going to be a challenge learning lines because the script puts both stage directions and yelled lines in the same font & size italics.

Director kept a poker face, thanked me for coming all the way out for just a few minutes of audition (it was actually almost half an hour), and said he would message me on Facebook tonight.

Thai Pepper is a cleverly hidden restaurant on the way home, also happens to be across the street from Michelle's Nails. I'd been meaning to try it, and as it was only 8 and they are open till 9, I did. The place is huge and the decor is nice, with some gorgeous pieces of Thai temples which are probably illegal to export from there. The location sucks and the prices are high, even for a Thai place, and even though there were about a dozen customers, the place looked empty. The waitress spoke un-accented English, I asked in English if she spoke Thai, and she said "what?" So I asked in Thai, and from then on it was all in Bangkok Thai. I ordered chicken satay, basil seafood and white rice and Thai Iced tea. The satay was very American, thick pieces of chicken, cut enough halfway down the stickto fork off easily. The peanut sauce was bland, soupy and without actual peanut bits. Cuke and onion bits in vinegar were just right, though. The irony here is those are to cut the spiciness of the peanut sauce, of which there was none. The main dish came out while I was still working on the second satay stick (out of 5? 6?). I had asked for not spicy and that's what I got, but I had not asked for not tasty. The calamari rings were way too chewy, but the scallops and fish bits were good, and so was the shrimp once I pulled off the tails. WTF is it with tail-on shrimp in Thai sauté? The iced tea was very good, authentic. $28 was a bit too much, but I took home half of each dish, so maybe not.

It took a while to flag down my waitress because I was way at one end of the place and the kitchen was way at the other end. I should have sat closer so I could hear the kitchen conversation, which is usually amusing and at my vocabulary level.

Work was a summer festival. Boss figured out what was wrong with the database, but he needed to reset it, which didn't happen today. Instead he assigned me a test of an undocumented feature which I could not get to work because it didn't. The directions were screwy. And somewhere in there our network went down, which set me back to square 1 transferring a boatload of files.

Attended a meeting on another feature I own and the good news is they are adopting an industry standard way to implement it, the bad news is this means we have to re-write all the test cases and automation scripts, which were written for our home-made implementation.

The file transfer thing kept me in the office till after 6, but there wasn't enough time to go home and get to the auditions by 7:30, so Plan A was to stop in the Starbucks on the way, but I got trapped by rush hour traffic in the wrong lane and ended up parking in the Thai Pepper lot, walking around that little strip mall and then listening to the car radio for 15 minutes.

Home after dinner, Domino got her usual half can of Fancy Feast, and yelled at me to feed her. Looked in her bowl and for the first time in ages she had completely finished it. So I gave her the other half. While she was munching I changed the litterbox and plopped the old one into the bif new! improved! garbage container. Much better than the old small one.

Box on the porch was a new Pocket Wizard, which I installed batteries in, put it on Channel 1 which is what everyone in the studio uses, and plugged in the USB to download updated firmware, but there was none. Put a new battery in the mini PW which had crapped out on me last weekend, but it wouldn't fire up. I'll have to check if it's under warranty.

Nothing on Facebook when I got home. But the director sent email inviting me to the show. And he had found my photo album of programs/cast lists from shows I've been in and emailed that we had been in one together - Annie in Palo Alto, 1984. That's the 80s show I have the most FB friends from. He's using a different last name, which is part of the reason I didn't click on the connection earlier, but also his name is the same as the student body president when I was a Junior in college, and the author of the novel on my Kindle right now. James Gunn is a pretty common name in my life. So is Tom and Thom Gunn. Anyhow, I accepted the part, and am now in "What have I done?" mode. It's a bigger part and the music is more difficult than I usually attempt. But I guess if I can sing similar roles in Gilbert & Sullivan, I can handle this too. First read-through is on the 15th,  then  the grind begins Sunday through Thursday on the 23rd. The show opens April 4, runs Thurs-Sun till the 27th. Very long run, IMHO too many performances for the small audiences they get. 

Plans for tomorrow:
Maybe do some laundry


E Before I

Feb. 1st, 2014 01:24 am
howeird: (Inigo Montoya)
Doing my part to alleviate the California drought, I skipped taking a shower this morning. I did not skip the deodorant.

Just as I was totally out of anything to do at work, boss assigned me a bug to look into. It's one QA really should not be working on because it's a tech support/field engineering issue. Neither of them was able to replicate a customer's issue in our lab, and after many months they asked the customer to send a pair of machines, or more, so we can test in our lab using the equipment which is experiencing he problem. We have a feature in our device which lets you set up a backup unit identical to up to 10 production units. If a production unit has a serious problem, the backup will take over. Apparently the customer's backup has been taking over at the wrong times.

Boss say see one of the support guys for the customer's units, so I do. But (a) he only has one unit, (b) it is from a different customer site and (c) it's for a different issue and (d) there's only one and both issues need at least two to run the test.

So I continued to have almost nothing to do until it was time to write my weekly report.

Lunch was at Amarin Thai's hole in the wall place near Mission College, where the challenge is to arrive late enough to find parking but not late enough to be turned away because they close at 2 pm. I had the garlic rice with garlic spinach and duck. There did not appear to be any garlic in what they served, but it was still pretty good.

Back at the work parking lot I phoned Sassy Nails and made an appointment for 5:30. I didn't make it out the door till 5:25, which should have only made me 3 minutes late, but traffic was slow and more than the usual inconsiderate slobs were wedging their cars across two lanes, blocking intersections, not letting people through the commuter lane to make right turns. Whoever decided that commuter lanes in the bay area expressways should be the right-hand lane needs to meet a violent end at the hands of a sober driver.

Ms. Sassy (not her real name) waited for me, because she had made me an hour late last time, and I was her last client of the day since they were closing an hour early for Chinese/Vietnamese New Year, which technically was last night. It still took too long because she was interrupted every 3 minutes to answer the phone or greet a customer (to say they were closed). She needs to hire a receptionist.

Went from there next door to the massage place, only went in for a 1/2-hour session. Good masseuse, in her 40s, ended with a face massage which felt better than I thought it would.

Home, there was a package by the side door - a pack of 3 Jockey briefs.  And two in the mailbox - a peephole wide angle lens for the front door and  2014 America The Beautiful quarters proof sets, one for me and one for my little sister.

I was going to install the peephole, I knew it needed a 5/8-inch drill bit which I thought I had, but all I found was a super-long and a normal 1/2" and a 1". And a 2: hole saw.

During the day I did some research online on the latest wireless standards, which claim to be able to equal (or come close enough to not matter) 1Gb streaming. And ended up buying an ASUS router and a PCIE card for the big PC. Did not get a USB adapter for the laptop because USB can't keep up past 800Mbps at best, more like half that IRL.

Allstate sent me a note asking me to fill out a customer satisfaction survey. I was not satisfied at all with how they handled the insurance on the new home, but they did okay on auto. After about 5 pages, it was clear the survey was not set up to cope with anything so complicated. I gave up after 10, having become completely dissatisfied with the survey itself.

Dinner was a Safeway Select mac-n-cheese-n-bacon, followed by most of a wedge of soft French cheese spread on slices of steamed sourdough baguette. Took two Lactaid pills just in case.

Looked at the SJ Astronomical Society's web site for events where I might get some pointers on how to take photos through my telescope, and they seem to meet twice a week for informal stargazing and helping the unwashed. Membership was a mere $20 so I joined, and put the next two sessions on my calendar.

Finally got the invite to audition, but in a roundabout way. I did not renew my domain, it is due to expire in April. It;s sole purpose is to send an auto-reply to tell people to spell "weird" correctly and try again. The email was sent to So he should get the auto-reply, and if he's paying attention will re-send the message to right address. Since it took him three days to get back to me I'll give him a day before replying.

Plans for tomorrow:
Buy a 5/8" drill bit
Install the peep hole lens
Photo shoot at 2 pm
Janice coffee klatch at 5:30
howeird: (Default)
Got up a little before 6 for no apparent reason, took my blood sugar and it was an all time low of 53. Dr. howeird prescribed ice cream with sprinkles. Followed by an egg cream.

Usually those hit me at 3 or 4 am, so going back to bed I slept through the alarm at 9:30, woke at about 10, and it was a chore to get out of the house by 12:30 to be in time for the library 1 pm presentation.

At 12:30 the room wasn't open yet, I had my laptop so I went online and ordered two pairs of briefs, which was on my list. Later I realized I had ordered a pair on Amazon while under the influence of sprinkles. It's okay, I can wear them all.

Also later remembered there were shirts in the washer to switch to the dryer.

The library presentation was on the care and feeding of fruit trees in this neck of the woods, by a master gardener who loved the subject and was a very engaging speaker. At the start of the show she ditched the lavalier mike for the hand-held one, under the mistaken impression that the latter was louder. It bit her constantly because she did a lot of gesturing and used her body to show what parts of a tree to prune. Can't hold the mike your mouth and do that at the same time. There was a lot of good info, and even though I didn't get a chance to ask about my lime tree, she gave all the hints I needed.

As I usually do when in the library, I looked at the books on CD section. Decided it was time, and checked out the Basic Vietnamese set. I ripped it to the PC and it's now on the iPod for car listening.

Inspired by the talk, I went to OSH and bought some stuff. It took a lot of walking around and weighing pros and cons, but finally settled on a 14" heavy tecate pot, not one of the tapered one, but one which is 14" diameter from top to bottom. Also got a stand-off to keep it above the clay dish I also bought, and also got the 14" wooden platform on rollers which was on the original list. And generic potting soil.

The hints I got were this:
- I had gotten the roots too wet
- The plastic bucket which the tree is in needs to be replaced by a clay one which breathes, evaporates water and drains better
- No fertilizer is needed, but soil which drains well should replace the moisture-holding stuff now in the pot
- Lime trees are drought-resistant and can stand temps as low as 30°. They survive frost
A huge part of the talk was about the fruit itself, but in the case of my lime tree, those lime are horrible, it is the leaves which are aromatic and yummy in Thai food.

And from the stuff on the ultimate Kaffir Lime web site:
- Find a way to make the air around the tree more humid
- Don't put it in a bigger pot

I was sort of also looking for a bigger tree, but they just had one smaller than mine.
And from another list, looked for a bird feeder, but their prices were ridiculous. $40 for the one I liked best. Did Amazon's scan thing, and found it online for half that. Almost bought bird seed, but will wait till I have the feeder.

Next stop, Northwinds nursery. They had a 3-year-old Kaffir which was rife with diseased and/or insect-chewed leaves, and they wanted $100 for it. Not a big selection of feeders, nothing to buy here.

Final stop, Home Depot. They had 3 trees, all the same as mine. I picked up some better potting soil marked as "quick drainage" and "for citrus". And also bought a plastic deep dish big enough to put under the pot and hold water to create a humidity field.

Home, unloaded everything, found a spot on the end of the driveway which I think gets enough sun, and staged the new stuff there. It was getting chilly and dark so I made a note to do the re-potting tomorrow before football.

And I wasted the rest of the day online, in front of the tube, and making dinner. Twice. Ravioli from frozen in Alfredo from a jar mixed with string cheese. And 2 hours later a grilled cheese sandwich on Health Nut bread with American Singles and very sharp cheddar. Made in an omelet pan with lots of margarine. Nailed it. Crispy golden brown bread, melty cheese.

Rescued the shirts from the dryer and hung them up. Decided to be OCD this time and arrange them from darkest to lightest, all the ones of the same color together, with the Hawaiian styled ones between the solids and the stripeds. I usually just hang them up in whatever random order they came out of the basket.

Thanks to some FB postings from [ profile] scendan, went online to see if the Tech Museum is open Monday, it is, so I think I will hobble the three blocks to the light rail station and take the train there to celebrate MLK's massive contributions to the world of technology, especially his influence on Star Wars. They allow non-flash photography, so I'll bring my 50mm f 1.1 and/or my 35mm f 1.8.

Plans for tomorrow:
Take the lime tree outside, shake the dirt off and re-pot it
Watch the Patriots play the Broncos
Maybe tweet rude remarks about it
Watch the Seahawks play the 49ers. Either way I win, but I have to say that I lean toward Seattle because they have the most beautiful logo in the NFL, and I love their colors. SF has, hands-down, the ugliest logo in the league, and the only place Red and Gold belong is in Chinese New Year parades.

Third Day

Jan. 7th, 2014 11:19 pm
howeird: (Default)
is what they call Tuesday in Hebrew. Their week starts on Sunday.

Work was work. I spent the day playing with some new SNMP scripts from automation. They all worked, except they didn't. If I plugged in the right parameters, it would give me the right answers. But the final step was missing - it doesn't harvest the answers from the mass of extraneous data, which means human eyes need to watch the process, which means it's not automated. I'll work with the programmer to get that fixed.

Lunchtime was going to be Togo's but I forgot to "do it first" before leaving work, and Carl's Jr was the nearest rest room.

Straight home after work, answered some email, printed a return label for yet another too-small set of jeans.

Also put my Sharks' jacket, white walking shoes and a kitchen towel into the washer. They washed fine but the shoes pummeling the dryer kept making it stop, so those will have to air dry. The jacket is making a lot of noise. Strange.

Later that same day: It wasn't the jacket. Previous owner had installed a bracket holding a solid cake of softener, and the shoes had jarred that cake loose. Sounds much quieter now.

Watched two more episodes of Breaking Bad season 1. I think I've had enough. Maybe one more episode but I may hit the "stop" button before it's over. It drags a lot, and I really don't like any of the characters. At all.

TV dinner again. Swedish meatballs.

Mancini's called, the bed will be delivered between 3-7 pm. I'll leave work at lunchtime, drop off the return at UPS on my way home and work from home. Have to lock Domino in the bathroom when they arrive. It shouldn't take more than half an hour. I thought about having them put the old bed in the 3rd BR, but it's too small a space for a queen sized bed. Some day maybe a futon.

So those are plans for tomorrow. :-)
howeird: (Default)
In early to work, most of my team was there early except for the two who were out sick. Short team meeting, because we're in a major lull right now. I woulkd have nothing to do except Automation Guy asked me to test some new SNMP scripts, since I'm the expert on that. Took a lot of setup because the engineer who wrote the scripts designed them to only work on the automation server. When I finally got a test run, the results were unreadable because engineer didn't specify the machine which we were collecting SNMP data from, so it made a file merging all data from all machines. I'll have to read up on the command line commands to see if I can fix that.

Bottom line, this should keep me busy all week.

Yesterday's having a guest over for the game meant moving my recliner to the side and the sofa into the center of the livingroom. And the sofa is too low for me. One of the ads during the game was for a Lay-z-Boy clearance sale, and since that's where I bought my recliner about 3 years ago, not on sale, for too much $$, lunchtime I went there in search of a second, similar recliner, but at sale prices.

Every item in the place had a clearance sale tag on it, but prices were $800-$1200. I told the salescreature I expected a sale price on a good-looking push-button recliner to be $400 or so. He had nothing. He showed me two totally gruesome things for $450 (tags said $650). Bailed quickly, went to China China buffet next door for lunch.

Straight home from work, wheeled the garbage and recycle cans back to the end of the driveway and moved the car up a bit. In the mail was a flyer from Allstate encouraging me to get insurance from them. Already have it, thanks. Also in the mail was an envelope inside an envelope. One of my Peace Corps buddies and his wife had tried to mail me a Christmas card on 12/12, and it was returned to sender "unable to forward". I'll be bringing that to the PO to find out why my 12/4 change of address was not honored. I've gotten some stuff forwarded, like from Allstate, sent to the old address. Anyhow, the bounce allowed them to add a thank you note for the calendar. This is the volunteer who was my "next door" neighbor during my second year. We had trained together, ad he had been sent south to a teacher's college which was on the other side of the wall way at the end of the research rubber plantation I worked at. He married his boss, the ceremony was at the local US consulate, and I was there taking photos. We totally lost track of each other until last year, when he did a web search and found my photos.

Came straight home to watch the BCS championship. It was an exciting game, but the redheads gave it away to the redskins in the second half. They had it won, and just stopped tackling.

A Seminoles joke my youngest sister showed me en route to her house.

Dinner was a Marie Callendar country chicken TV dinner. Also been making a dent in the gallon of egg nog left over from NYE. Maybe I'll cook up another batch of pigs in blankets. My Israeli sister calls them cocktail franks. Pigs are not kosher.

She's slowly recovering from her husband's death. It was very sudden, cancer which was caught after it was way too late. Israel has free national health, but it's no good if you don't use it. Anyhow, she is answering all our individual email in one reply-all, which I suppose saves time, but there are only four of us. After her 5 children and 27 grandchildren (it might only be 23, I lost count) went their separate ways after the funeral,  neighbors' teenage daughters have slept over (one a night) so the house wouldn't feel empty. I really don't think she needs that, but she's the psychologist, so...

Anyhow she's about done with that, and is back at work which she supposedly semi-retired from a year ago, but it's good work for her, she translates Hebrew into English for a non-profit educational group. There was a time when she was also fluent in French, German, Yiddish and had a working knowledge of Arabic, I think.

Guilt by association dept: A theater friend posted a birthday note and youtube clip of famous country picker Earl Scruggs. I thought he was on the last Steve Goodman appearance of Austin City Limits which is on Goodman's DVD. So I plugged their names into Youtube, but discovered it was Jethro Burns, of Homer and Jethro who was on that DVD. But it also found a memorial montage of clips of John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, Kris Kristopherson, Goodman's widow, his agent and someone who knew him through Johnny Cash's band. Half an hour, low production values, but very touching and interesting. I've heard many times Arlo's bit about how Goodman's City of New Orleans found its way to him, but Prine says it was originally pitched to Johnny Cash, who said no because he didn't want to be stereotyped as a train singer (Folsom Prison Blues had already established him as one).

I have the DVD, but am not up to meganostalgia right now.

Plans for tomorrow:
Mancini's is supposed to call with an ETA for the new bed Wednesday
Maybe watch another episode of Breaking Bad - Just to see what chemistry lessons they have in store.
howeird: (Default)
Decided to take the Nikon 18-200 instead of the Tamron 24-270 after using the Tamron this afternoon to shoot pix of RC planes. Even the in-focus pix were not as sharp as I thought they should be. In the camera case the Nikon 55-300 was on there, which I used last time for whale watching, but it's so heavy it gave me tennis elbow.

This morning was a slow start, Domino had abandoned me overnight, could not find her on the webcams, finally looked and she was curled up in the office between the cat tree and the spare chair, in front of the heating grate. It's one of her favorite spots when I'm on the PC, and is on the other side of the tree from the webcam. If I look real close I can see her, usually. Almost out of Whiska's treats for her, 10-pack on order. She yells at me and leads me to the kitchen each morning until I shell some out.

Lazy day, mostly. Watched the Notre Dame-Rutgers game (Pinstripe Bowl - oy veh - at Yankee Stadium on the worst kept grounds evah) until the Tivo got equal to real time. Nibbled on soft goat cheese and sourdough slices, then finished off the "extra sharp" Vermont cheddar, which is about as sharp as Kraft medium. Domino loved licking the soft cheese off my fingertips, but wasn't too keen on the cheddar.

At about noon-thirty it was warm enough to go to Baylands Park, which is free from November to March, took my camera, a camp chair, the Nexus in case there was no action, and watched Radio Controlled model airplanes and choppers being flown. There was one guy about my age with a medium sized model of a Cessna 2-seater, I think, a late-model barnstormer. He flew it out past the park, out of the way of the others, and did some very smooth Himmelmans, barrel rolls, but mostly take-offs and landings. No touch-and-go, he said that was for his partner the retired Marine pilot. Lots of action, first time I have used the Nikon since tennis elbow, except for pix of the new house a month ago. I need to keep wearing the arm strap.

Made reservations for the Morro Bay Best Western for tomorrow night, and for the 1 pm whale watching tour. Little by little I have been gathering cold weather gear for that. My Seahawks stadium jacket and UW Huskies sweatshirt.

I had watched on Tivo a recent Actor's Studio with Laura Dern and her dad, and thought for dinnertime I would pull up Amazon Prime on the blue ray and see Silent Running, but they wanted $$ for that, so I browsed and found the 1929 not so classic Fritz Lang film Woman in the Moon. It gets of to a slow start and continues slow and steady from there. Excellent B&W camera work. This is one of the first serious rocket to the moon movies, and it was amusing how much tech stuff they got right, and how much they got totally wrong. Stuff which was well known back then.

Dinner was some re-heated Penang curry sauce on beef ravioli and mixed veggies. Much better than last night, after doubling the amount of curry paste. I'm usually a curry wimp, but Penang is relatively mild. Domino perched on my leg, expecting to be fed, and unusual for her, she didn't hop off when I offered her a piece which didn't smell like food to her. Had to push her off finally.

One nice thing about post-Kaan, is she is now doing a much more thorough job of grooming herself. She had let that go when Pumpkin died, and got dirty and matted. She's now the soft-furred thing of 15 years ago.

Plans for tomorrow:
Up at 7
On the road 8:30 or 9 at the latest
Morro Bay around noon - the tour is at 1, but will probably be late by 10-15 minutes.
Check into the hotel, they have evening cheese tastings, but I may be too late for that
Check out at noon, hang out at the coffee shop along the waterfront
Drive home late afternoon, shoot for 2-ish.
Plan B is to stay all day Monday and drive back Tuesday morning.
At the moment I don't have plans for NYE.
howeird: (Hawaiin Shirt)

Very quiet day today, I had just enough time to start a battle of wits with an unarmed person on Facebook when the alarm reminded me I was seeing the Hobbit 2 matinée  3D showing. Got there 10 minutes before the alleged start time, looked into the room and there were only about 12 seats occupied, so I got a hot dog and a pack of peanut M&Ms to stave off insulin shock, made a pit stop, and now right at start time magically the place was 1/3 full. Found a seat in the 2nd row for the back, but the view was partially blocked by the top of the seats in the last row before the aisle, so I went to that row and it was much better.

It's a long movie. Short review: Mostly boring, interrupted by too-long fight and flight sequences, no LOL moments, and too many plot lines taking too long to not quite converge. Just when it got good the lights came on and they rolled the credits.

Longer review behind the cut )

 Bottom line: if you must see it, do it in 2D. Better to wait for the three to come out on DVD.

Starbucks, because it was not the warm sunny day which had been predicted, but heavily overcast and chilly. And for the eye candy. And to glom onto their wifi on my laptop and install Office 2013, aka 365, and update Norton virus definitions and Firefox. But the wifi was at a crawl, so I reluctantly closed up the machine and finished all that at home where I have 5GHz wireless.

Late lunch of something I can't remember. FFed through the Military Bowl because my nephew is a Terp. They lost - kind of packed up and went home with 5 minutes left to play. Sad, it was still winnable.

Dinner was Penang beef meatballs, from an old family recipe I made up as I went along. Excellent use of my new kafir lime tree's leaves. Basically it was just a dollop of Penang curry in a can's worth of coconut milk (the creamy kind) with the lime leaves chopped very fine. Simmer until the curry is mixed in, and add lean ground beef meatballs (made by hand). Simmer for 15 minutes, turn the heat way down for another 15. Probably could have stopped at 15.

Watched the start of the Kill Hunger Bowl which was in San Francisco, my alma mater crushed BYU on the scoreboard, but lost on every other stat except special teams. Wish I had known ab out it sooner, I might have gone. Alumni band is supposed to alert me, they failed. Maybe they were told no alumni band. like the Rose Bowl does. :-(

Paused at halftime because in the mail tonight was a notice from the home insurance company that they want $200 more by January 4 because I am not entitled to the Allstate preferred partner rate because there is no security system. That makes the insurance $150 more a year than what the lender offered, instead of $50 less. Also the lender's coverage is for the full price, which Allstate's partner's is not. So I fired up the scanner, made a PDF of the letter, emailed a "please help me" message to the loan arranger with copies to Allstate, the mfg rep, her assistant and the escrow officer.

What I want to have happen is for the lender to use their insurance, which will raise my monthly payment by about $5-10, give me full coverage and get rid of the bait-and-switch. This is more than a month after everything was supposed to be done, and I am pissed. Comcast's home security is $40 a month, $480 a year, not worth the Allstate insurance rate hike, which is no doubt part of the scam.

In other insurance news, yesterday Allstate gave me an estimate on earthquake insurance. Their lowest cost one is $1700/year and has a $15,000 deductible. That's a non-starter. I doubt that a quake would cause $17k in damage to this place.

What else?

Oh, the whale tour group I went with in the summer is showing amazing pics this week of dolphin pods and grey whales, so I'm going down there Sunday to bring them one of my calendars which has this as the cover:

and one month is a montage of 5 photos from my 3 outings. May, I think.

I finally got around to ordering a case of treats for Domino, changed the litterbox so need to order refills. One cat = 1 litterbox = 1/2 the order.

Plans for tomorrow:
Make a reservation for the Sunday afternoon whale watch
Get petrol
Maybe watch some football
If the sun comes out as they predict, go to the park and watch RC planes and drones.

howeird: (Inigo Montoya)
Today was a company day off. They give us two days for Turkey, Jesus and Janus. My plan for a while was The Big Shed Project.

It was amended a little because mornings have been cold, but afternoons have been warm. So this morning I hit the matinée showing of Frozen in 3D, which has been getting rave reviews.

It started out charming, with some enjoyable music, but soon degenerated into a very violent plot with forgettable songs and a frenetic score to match the heart-stopping action.

Idina Menzel, who was the green witch in Broadway's Wicked played the ice princess. This is an actress with a gorgeous singing voice, but they kept her to mostly dialog and much of it shouting. OTOH,  Kristen Bell plays the younger princess and sings quite a bit, including a duet with Prince Hans, voiced by Santino Fontana. I can find no evidence of either of them singing professionally before. They did well, but the songs didn't require much range.

Olaf the snowman is ridiculous, and a great attraction for the kiddies, but I would not have brought a child to this very violent movie.

As is my habit, I stayed through the 10 minutes of credits for the Easter egg. It was there, but it was a throw-away. However, there is a disclaimer cleverly hidden in the credits toward the end which was worth the wait.

Speaking of movies, my biggest disappointments this week are that two movies which I otherwise would have loved to see are starring men who both do not fit the part, and can't act. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a childhood favorite book, and the movie starring Danny Kaye was pretty good. It would be spectacular re-made with modern technology and a Mitty who was of Kaye's calibre. But Ben Stiller? Gag me. And Saving Mr. Banks would have been fun if someone with enough acting chops to make us believe he is Walt Disney was playing opposite the extraordinary Emma Thompson. But Tom Hanks? Save me.
By the time the film was done, it was in the 60s outside so instead of catching The Hobbit 2: Spare The Air Day, I went to The Milk Pail and spent about $65 on cheeses. And that's even though they didn't have my favorite French sheep cheese. Some cheeses for snacking, some for fondue.

Then home, to do The Shed Project™.

This has been on the drawing board since I moved in. The house has a storage shed out at the end of the driveway. The previous owner had shelves installed left, right and back wall. The shelves on the right were too deep to get the door open wide enough - you had to shove stuff inside, close the door and then move the stuff where you wanted it. The shelves at the back made the space too short for my bike. And they were too close together vertically to hold any of my stuff.

So the Project was:
- Completely empty the shed
- Remove all the shelves on the left and back and one from the left and stack them off to the side
- Knock off all the shelf holders from those (this needed my heavy plumber's wrench. Well, a hammer really but I was too lazy to get it out of the closet)
- Put the bike in facing the door
- Stack all the tubs of stuff against the back wall
- Put all the camping gear on the left-hand shelves
- Add musical instruments, music stands, the big cooler and the microwave

It took about 2 hours. But now it's done, yay!

Parked myself in front of the TV and played the currently recording Tivo of the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State got clobbered early by the Beavers, but managed to raise their score to something less embarrassing at the end. I think Oregon State's coach gave them some help at the end to try to make a game of it.

Also watched some of The Long Island Medium marathon. One of the best cold readers on the planet, but she's strident and I can only take so much of her.

Dinner was duck soup. Yes, I know it is Marxist. But I had in the freezer taking up too much space the ribcage and other assorted bones from the duck I roasted the weekend I moved in. Threw those into a pot, covered with water, added a little salt, a tablespoon of crushed garlic, a couple of twists from the pepper mill, some bay leaves and a few leaves from my Kaffir lime tree. Then a tablespoon each of split peas and barley, and two of dried lima beans. Simmered for 90 minutes. The whole house smelled ducky. And it was yummy. Could have used more salt and barley. After two bowls of it, there is enough left for another meal.

After I write this I am running a bath in the lovely deep "garden style" tub because I am sore all over from the shed project.

Plans for tomorrow:
RMA a couple of Amazon purchases
See another movie
howeird: (Default)
This morning's adventures started with gassing up the car, expecting price gouging on this travel-fest of a weekend, but it was the same price as last fill-up. Onward to the new place, with an automotive dolly (the 4-wheeled thing which mechanics lie on to slide under a car). I used my super-human strength to lift the 6-foot-tall pressboard cabinet onto it, and started to wheel it through the archway into the kitchen, which is when I discovered it is taller than the archway. Even without being on a dolly. So I walked it down to the floor, pushed it through and then walked it up against the kitchen wall, shoving it into place, making sure it cleared the archway on the right and the kitchen light switch was still accessible on the left.

The space which it occupied was originally the place to hang clothing as it came out of the dryer. It will soon be the place where the litter box goes.

Then I measured the width of the spring-loaded window shade which I thought I needed two of. 45".  Took a look at the blue patch which I painted on top of the Affirmation, in full light I could no longer see the lettering. I guess those extra two coats did the trick. No need to buy thicker paint. Tossed the roller and pan and put the small paint can in one of the laundry room cabinets. 

Jotted down the model number of the TV Which Must Go Away. Looked it up online and it's a 43-inch rear-projection HD-ready TV with the matching "stand not included". 

End of Round 1 for today

Next, the hunt for window shades and other stuff.

Lowe's, returned 2 of the 3 keypad locks, and the two dummy door knobs. They had brought in a series of those lane-marker ribbon stands which made one line perpendicular to the registers, but there were not nearly enough customers or cashiers to justify it. All it did was obstruct.

Next stop, Home Despot. They had the door knobs I wanted, and a re-keying kit which was supposed to work with the brand of locks in the house. Also got four Scripto BBQ lighters on sale, they did not have the kind of window shades I wanted. On impulse I walked the cart through the outdoor plants section, and found a little Kiffir lime tree, just the right size. The leaves are a very strong and delicious spice. The fruit not so much.

Then Target. They didn't have any window shades either. Nor did OSH.

Somewhere in there the movers called to confirm the date & time, and let me know I had 3 days to cancel or change without a penalty.

Back to the apartment for some relax time with Domino.

And then to the house, armed with a page from the furnace service guide which has a better picture of the pilot light location than is on the furnace. The Scripto lighter got it first try, and the heater kicked in about 3 minutes after I tweaked the thermostat. The fan is NOISY.  While I was having a gas, I tested the oven, and it works. Pilot light was on, or electric spark-lit. The burners have the sparker.

Set the temps on the fridge and its freezer, they were a bit low. Discovered the unit has an ice maker section, but it doesn't have the mechanism, just the plastic piece. Two ice cube trays can fit into the pull-out tray, I think.

Next chore was re-mounting the window shade. Turns out it just needed to be wound up. Put the left side into the holder and rolled up the shade with the right side loose, then inserted the right side into the holder. Tedious, but it worked.

The livingroom door was the next victim. Turns out the re-key device only works on a certain model of Kwikset locks, which these were not.

Removed the knobs with the keyhole/lock and replaced it with a pair of keyless knobs. Easy, because they made it so the screws stay attached. The kitchen door was more of a challenge because the deadbolt was set too high for the hole in the door frame, so first I had to remove the keyed knob/lock and move the deadbolt to its place. Lining up the screw holes was a summer festival. Took about an hour. But putting in the dummy knobs was easy, having done it once, and not caring that it doesn't latch all the way as long as the deadbolt works.


Looked for a place to put the lime tree. We're not allowed to plant anything in the ground, and the most obvious place was on the wide cement strip on the left side of the house, but the two water hoses are at the opposite corners. So it's next to the driveway, on the right, where there is a narrow strip which used to have shrubbery but now just has square spaces filled with bark. One of these days I will get a large wooden tub or some such and some mulch and transplant the tree, but for now it's fine the way it is.

Done for the nonce, time for a Starbucks visit. The place was almost deserted. Everyone must be out shopping. Or just out. Checked online and found Ender's Game was playing at the local AMC in an hour. I figured there would be crowds for Hunger Games and a blockbuster Bollywood film, and Frozen and I would have the theater to myself. Almost. Movie start is listed for 5:55, at 10 minutes before it was about 10% full, I got a good seat in the back row center. But by the time the trailers were done half an hour later, we were up to about 80%.

Title Mash-ups:
Ender's Hunger Game of Thrones
Frozen Thor
Philomena The Book Thief

Mini-review with possible spoilers under the cut:

Technically it is one of the best films I have seen in a long time. Superior camera work all around. The most amazing thing about most of the special effects is they did not look special. They looked real. Makeup followed the first rule of makeup - make it look like no one is wearing any. Ben Kingsley's Maori face tattoo looked real. Same comment about audio. And about the acting. In the whole movie I missed maybe 2 words. The only gripe I have about the audio is they pushed the bass a bit too much when the rockets blasted off, but it wasn't distorted, just loud. Costumes are mostly jumpsuits, no challenge there but well done. The battle suits were also understated but made sense.

This was not the Ender's Game I read in college. They changed the name of the enemy. I don't remember as much happening on Earth in the book as there is in the movie. I don't remember as much bullying of Ender. And they left out his real name, and how he really came to be called Ender. One thing they did get right was they didn't telegraph that the final simulation was the for real war.

And I don't remember the final scenes being on a former Bad Guys planet. And I'm pretty sure the final scene in the movie is actually the the start of the sequel, Speaker For The Dead. Which I hope to Hugo is not made into a movie, because the rest of the series is a self-deprecation suckfest.  

But despite any changes, it worked as well as or better than the original.

Home, dinner was a pair of sausages, a can of corn with lotsa spices plus margarine, sauerkraut and grey poop-on. While watching Restaurant Stakeout. 

Plans for tomorrow:
Try on my suit jackets, and the ones which don't fit go to Goodwill. Also cull my costumes. I'll keep the train engineer and one set of scrubs, but Elvis is leaving the building. That one will be dumpstered because I made the mistake of gluing on some very fine gold glitter, and it gets everywhere.
Pull out all my suitcases, keep my favorite one and the rest go to Goodwill
If I am feeling energetic, box up my camping equipment and my dishes and coffee cup collection.
It's about time to start boxing up my files. Need to hit an office supply store for boxes. U-Haul's are horrible. Also need some packing paper.
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

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