howeird: (Photog)
Last night's project was a round tuit one. Took all the 500 slides from Costco out of their boxes (50 at a time) and put them back into their albums, this time attempting to put them in order of some sort. Discovered that about 100 (which are on the floor of the 3rd BR) were from my 1970s Peace Corps time. I knew there were some, I didn't realize how many. When I transferred them from the DVD, I remember sending many of them to my 1975-77 folder.

And I went through the 10 sets of scans, re-assigning them by location (Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket, Southern Thailand). Those are here (click).

This is one reason I went to Bali:

and this is the other:

Today: Up and out in time, for a change. Domino barfed in the bedroom and pooped in the livingroom, so no treats for her for a while. Barf is from eating treats in vacuum mode. Poop is just plain unacceptable. Her litterbox is automatic, it should last two weeks with just her.

Work started well, the demo I gave worked fine, Automation Guy was pleased. And now I see I am supposed to attend the weekly automation team meetings. Grrr.

Spent the day researching and actually finding video clips for testing Teletext. There are two kinds. One, mostly used in Germany, makes the whole screen into an ugly almost ASCII display- worse, really, looks like a bad bitmapped font. It usually is a news feed or a broadcaster's list of upcoming programs. The other, mostly used by the BBC, is ugly bitmapped subtitles. Both are carried in a hidden signal line on analog (similar to closed captions) which get converted into hidden packet streams on digital. All our box is supposed to do is pass those packets untouched and unharmed.

Lunchtime started at Costco, where I dropped off (and paid for) 462 slides to be scanned. I think this is the last of the 1989 vacation.

Home after work, just enough time to open the packages. One was the camera adapter tube for the telescope, the right diameter this time. I was able to fit a telescope lens inside and attach the camera. No time to try it, and it looks like rain all the rest of the week. Also received the rent bill. Down from last time. But the experiment of using a space heater is a FAIL. $25 more for juice than last month.

Off to the library, got there 10 minutes into the 90-minute tutorial on a 3D printing program called Sketchup. The presenter is a very good teacher, he did a great job of showing how to use the basics of the program, first 2D then 3D. It's about as feature-filled as PhotoShop, but it's free and looks it. Worth missing BASFA for.

Home by way of Lucky's, where I got everything on my list. Short list, just bananas, limes, TV dinners and Klondike bars. And enteric baby aspirin. Bleach and detergent should have been on the list so I got those too.  I also picked up a catnip toy for Domino. She ignored it.

Home, made dinner. Leftover fried chicken and a box of cheesed and baconed potato skinettes from Lucky's frozen foods section. Thin mint ice cream for dessert.

Watched some of the NFL Combine, but the commentators won't shut up, and they don't say anything useful. So those have been deleted from my Tivo list. Caught up on TMZ.

Changed the litterbox. Just in case.

Printed the rent check, but won't walk it over there till the 28th. Need my paycheck to cover it (paid a chunk of my London vacation charges this month).

Did my taxes from scratch. Somehow, when I imported from last year's return, TurboTax was trying to credit me for stock loss carry-overs which I am not due. That could have gotten ugly. Finished around midnight, e-filed and will be getting about a grand back from Messrs. Obama and Brown.

Plans for tomorrow
Maybe come home and study lines.
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: (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

howeird: (How Electronics)
LJArchive, which has been downloading and storing locally all my LJ posts & your comments, has suddenly stopped downloading. The server doesn't respond. When I punch the server's IP address into the browser it gives me an LJ goat logo and what is basically a 404 message. I have since tried two other archive apps, with the same results. LJ has not posted anything about this, and comments on the archive sites are a year old, from when LJ changed the way it linked comments and the archive apps could only download main postings.

Took my time getting to work this morning because there was little work to do, or so I thought. Domino's litterbox was definitely wanting to be changed, so I did that, and was pleasantly surprised that the used cartridge fit completely into the new, larger garbage can, on top of more than twice as much garbage as was able to fit into the old one.

As I walked to my car, the caregiver for the woman next door was waiting for me. She had just bought a 2014 Corolla yesterday, and she claimed to hear the alarm going off. I could not hear a thing, so it wasn't the alarm. But I'm sure she can hear way higher frequencies than I can, and a 15kHz tone would sound like an alarm to someone who can hear it. When I unlocked the car with the key's buttons, it gave 4 beeps instead of the usual 2, so someone must have set off the alarm. I have an after-market alarm system, so I told her to bring it in to the dealer. They're open till 9. I'm sure she'll tell me what happened next time she's on duty.

The folks who are renovating the outside of our building had the usual entrance to the parking lot blocked off, so I used the driveway of the building next door which some time in Summer will be ours too. There used to be a chain across the connecting road, but it has been down for about a month. There was a bucket lift in front of the building, it looks like they are re-tiling the roof. As usual, our not having an ops manager means we get no real info on what is actually being done, just a vague email message about how long it might take.

When I told Automation Guy that I was running out of things to do, he gave me a follow-on to the project I did yesterday. This one required logging into one of his lab machines, which I don't like to do, I'd rather keep my under-destruction work on my own machine.

Lunch was Togos, followed by an educational trip to Fry's. I was looking for two things:
1. A network-attached storage device at least 8TB and capable of 100Gb/s
2. A Linksys router to replace the Netgear one which has been acting flaky. And to match the recently purchased Linksys cable modem. Dual band wireless and 4-port 10/100 Gb/s wired.

What I found was a trend in external storage to use USB 3.0 instead of Ethernet. Just Plain Stupid for anything more than 1TB. And none of the Ethernet ones could do more than 1GB/s. Seagate makes an 8 for $600, Netgear for $700. Hitachi has bet the farm on Mac users and Thunderbolt cable. A pity because they make the best high-capacity HDDs.

And there were so many different routers on the shelves with so little real information on the boxes that I relegated that search to online.

Back to work, I set up a couple of tests for Automation Guy, allowed him to volunteer me to demo them at Monday's meeting. To really show off these tests I need to play video from the lab's high speed network, but I won't have access to that in the conference room. :-(

After 6, I went online and looked for their latest protocol, called AC, and found refurbished 1/10/100, dual band ones on Linksys' site for $80 off. Bought one.

Home, forgot to stop off for bird seed, but also forgot my Lowe's discount coupon. It was 6:45 when I pulled into the little shopping/big condo center hoping to curl up with the Kindle app at Peet's, but they were closing. Very poor planning, to close at 7 when you have "expensive condo owner late-evening magnet" written all over you.

Domino was on top of the new recliner again. I had checked a few times today on the webcams, and she mostly stayed curled up in the bed in the office, but she also spent some time on the cat thing which I had relocated to the kitchen in front of a window with a view of the street.

There was a lot of Facebooking to do, and somehow I got trapped into watching a particularly ballistic episode of Millionaire Matchmaker. The matchmaker is incredibly sexist, ageist and loud. Want a second opinion? Fine. She's also ugly.

There are two former Peace Corps volunteers in the Bay Area Science Fiction Assn. The other guy served in Ukraine. Both our countries are in the early throes of a civil war. In both cases the official government is passing laws to restrict free assembly, and they are both failing, Thailand more emphatically than Ukraine. But Ukraine's protesters are showing much more skill setting things on fire.

Plans for tomorrow:
Tweak the new automation demo
Finish reading the marketing doc
Glance at the release doc Boss sent around today
Write my weekly report
Maybe go to opening night of the all-female version of 1776 being done by friends in downtown SJ. It might be better to wait till they have a few performances under their belt and need audience members. I don't think this show will be all that popular.

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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: (Hawaiin Shirt)
I guess this means I won't be retiring to Thailand after all.

Productive morning. Took some stuff to Goodwill, hit OSH for new burner shields to replace the front two burners on the stove, which were more carbon than aluminum,  and also got some small sponges to replace the ones whose original color is no longer identifiable. OSH didn't have rubber bands, so Office Despot for those and I needed to go there anyway to buy an envelope large enough to mail "The Toast" picture to my middle sister. It's from my Bar Mitzvah album:
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Home, watched the Raiders game as it was recording on Tivo, that way I could skip the commercials and halftime crapola. And the lowest FF speed is slow enough to see the action and it mutes the annoying announcers, who seem to get more inane every year. Every game.

A little before 2 pm I poured Kaan into the carrier and took him to Petco for two shots which the vet had not reminded me about. One is optional for indoor cats but since he'll be going back to the shelter where he'll be with unknown cats, I figured it was worth it. The onlookers, who mostly had dogs smaller than Kaan, were amazed when he came out (or actually was pulled out - it looked like childbirth) at his size. And how he jumped back into the carrier as soon as they were done with him. On my way there I had a mini-attack of anxiety as the whole surrendering the cat made  a memory chain to buying the house and the concept of putting down 3 years' rent so that in 5 years I'll own something on someone else's land which I may not be able to afford when I'm on Social Security.

Home again, watched the 49ers have an off day. Carolina was also having an off day, so SF only lost by a little bit. Somewhere in there I also saw the end and OT of the Ravens game, which they would have won in regulation if one of their members had not decided to do the tip drill to a Carolina player in the end zone. They still won, but by 3.

4 pm, and all the football was dine till the night game. Time for more packing. The first thing on my list was to take the box of my letters from Thailand (the folks had saved them all) and a theater poster and put them in the tubs in the storage room in which they belonged. That involved pulling out the smaller cat carrier, both baritones and one storage tub. And then putting them back, chasing both cats out of the room.

Real packing continued with boxing the computer CD albums, post cards & birthday cards, Peace Corps era Thailand maps and a couple of things which should have gone into the storage tub but wouldn't fit.

Watched some of the NOLA/Dallas game, but took time out to fill two medium-sized boxes with linens and my space-themed comforter. Those were on a rack consisting of a series of detachable units, which are now stacked with the two boxes on top of them. T-shirts will be some other day.

I had planned to go to the movers' this morning to get some supplies, but on their web site the prices are outrageous. And they don't have most of the kitchen packing things I need. So I'll hit up U-haul during the day some time this week.

Somewhere in there I made dinner, the rest of the Costco brisket, a cup of corn and some egg noodles. While slicing limes for my drink, I sliced a bit of the tip of my left ring finger. Very deep cut, lots of blood wanted to come out but I was near ice and tissues and managed to get to the bathroom where the band aids and medical tape are. The bleeding is stopped, but I know it will start up again if I take off the bandage too soon, so I think it will stay on another day.

Plans for tomorrow:
BASFA maybe. Football maybe but frankly I'm kind of footballed out after this weekend.
eBay sale should finish, may have to get the item ready to ship.
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:
howeird: (Default)
Had a painful night last night, my elbow would not stop hurting. Finally took 2 nighttime Tylenol, which didn't do much for the pain but made me stay drowsy when I finally hauled myself out of bed at 10. Part of the delay is just as I was trying to get up, Kaan, jumped on the bed and parked himself against me.

My plan was to sleep till 10, anyway, due to not enough sleep Thursday night.

After my usual Saturday routine, I hunted for and finally found the crock pot (it was at the back of the cabinet under the kitchen sink, behind the paper bag collection) decided it was too small and instead found the giant wok-like pan I'd bought for this kind of project. Its flat bottom is anodized aluminum, the right size for a large burner, and it curves out to a much wider circular bowl. Non-stick surface, very solid, great for not burning things.

Into that went three cans of coconut milk (the white kind), three cans of water. Heated on 5 (out of 10) for 15 minutes, then stirred in 1 Tbsp Thai yellow curry paste. A taste test said "what curry paste?" so I added another dose. Better, but still a bit mild. Better mild than too strong, I figured.

Added the chicken drumsticks, covered the pan, and gave it half an hour to come up to a simmering boil. Added baby corn, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, because those don't overcook. Turned the heat to 3, another half hour it was at a boil (much to my surprise), added the straw mushrooms and green peas and turned the heat down to 1.5.

Let that simmer for an hour, which was just a wee bit too long, but the drumsticks were holding together, so I caught it in time. Sort of. Could not spear them with a fork, they were too tender, so I used a slotted spoon to put them into my official potluck food containers (they fit perfectly). Next I used a wok strainer to scoop out the small stuff, and distributed it fairly evenly between the two containers.

What with the added water and chicken fat, the curry sauce was way too thin, and there was way too much of it, so I boiled it down. Added a dash of fish sauce and a little dark brown sugar suggested by Nancie McDermott's recipe book, Quick and Easy Thai. And I also added another Tbsp of curry paste, since this was going on top of and not inside the chicken.

That took about 2 hours, but after 1.5 it was time to pick up a package at UPS, so I turned off the stove and did that. Then I decided to try out a new massage place I saw in The Metro, punched it into the GPS and discovered the address was the parking lot of the Santa Clara American Legion post. :-(

Not to be discouraged, I went to the one I've been using, not too far from home, and Jessica made my right shoulder feel much better.

Heading home, passed Fry's, remembered I needed to buy some canned air, so I cut off an obnoxious SUV which had been pacing me as I tried to slow down to change lanes behind him.

Canned air was on special, 3-fer, so I got a a pack of that, and also a pack of microfiber cloths. Looked for but did not find backup software. Decided not to spend $700 on an 8TB backup drive. Or settle for the small package of inkjet internet shipping labels (they only had the large economy size in laserjet ).

Home, emptied the console storage bin of 8 CDs, which are waiting to be shelved where they belong. I had been listening to the London cast recording of Matilda which is what was in the Amazon locker yesterday. I am disappointed in the music. One tune is memorable on first play, two more might be after listening a few more times, and there is a monologue near the end which is a non-ingenue actress' wet dream. It is not listed on the track list, they have buried it after several seconds of silence after the final song, not in its own track. Read more... )

From the album, which includes a lot of dialog, it is clear this is one of those shows which will be spectacular as a production, as long as they find a super-strong set of children, because it's all about kids in an exclusive private school.

The reason for my interest is I was in a production of The Wizard of Oz in 1986, Dorothy was played by a very talented girl named Lesli Margherita, who is now starring in the Broadway production.
This is her then:
Read more... )
This is her now:Read more... )

Finished the coconut milk curry reduction in between flipping between the very wet Oregon Ducks and Stanford games (Stanford playing WSU in Seattle for some strange reason), and miffed because none of the channels I get was showing my 17th-ranked Huskies. I had to rely on my Baltimore sister's FB updates for that. Also peeked at the Mariners-A's game, which showed the April Fools broadcast, Mariners leading in the 6th by a hefty margin.

Poured the curry sauce into each of the containers on top of all the other ingredients and let it seep in. Back into the fridge, and after it was clear that Oregon and Stanford were blowing out the competition, I fired up the PC and made card stock tents naming the dish and its ingredients.

Caught up on FB, Twitter & LJ, and also took a look at mobile home park listings, and found 5 nearby which are for old farts.

Plans for tomorrow:

Put on my band uniform, glue in my teeth, grab my horn and participate in Ye Olde Town Band's last concert of the year.
Potluck dinner afterward.
howeird: (IPST)
TMI -Read more... )

Work. Got there at 10 because the Internet reached out and glued me to my computer chair for an hour. For the record, we are encouraged to get there by 10. Not that it matters. what I'm doing these days is a lot of "write code. Wait for it to run. Debug. Rinse, lather, repeat."

This morning I finished the paperwork to submit yesterday's script, and finished the next one by about 5 today, but will wait till tomorrow before doing the paperwork because they still haven't tested the one I did last week.

Lunchtime I was stood up by Automation Guy, went to Kaiser to p/u my insulin instead. Lunch at Stuft Pizza,  a small Stuft Special, very good. Best pizza I've had in a while.

By go-home time I was on YouTube between code runs, listening to more Kenny Chesney (he does a pretty good rock and roll when he wants to) but finally went for the "comfort food" of Rose Sirintip's A Tu Corazon (Thai & Spanish) and then really sinking into as-closed-to-depressed-as-I-ever-get รักเอย Rock Oei" (Love, Eh?)  which I seem to remember was the theme song for a particularly morose Thai soap opera.

It has a beautiful melody, even if you don't understand the words.
I'll embed it here )

After work, home, planning on changing the litterboxes which looked rank this morning, but this evening they looked good for another few days. Hmmm.

Vegged out on the recliner for a bit, Domino let me run the undercoat rake over her a few times. when she jumped off my lap, Kaan followed her and did his best nonchalant suitor routine, lying down on the carpet and stretching out until his forepaws were almost touching her as she scratched her face on the big semicircular scratcher thing. She whipped around and swatted at Kaan who went up on his haunches with his forepaws raised like "hands up!" and he backed away a little. This little drama has been playing all week, with Kaan getting more and more in her face and she being more physical in shooing him away. Used to be she just growled all the time. Maybe there's hope - she used to start making rude noises from 3 feet away. Now he has to actually touch her.
howeird: (Default)
Slept really well, possibly because I shut the cats out of the bedroom, punishment for pooping in the livingroom. and partly to have a door between me and the Drama. Kaan has been trying very hard lately to be friends with Domino, Domino is being a total grouch about it, growling and hissing and taking swipes. Kaan is 3x her size, but backs off instead of fighting. But 20 seconds later he's back trying to get close to Domino.

Anyway, I didn't wake up till 9:30, which meant my plan to bring the car to the installer at 10 was going to be pushed back. Got there at 11:30, they needed an hour or 2 to pull out the radio, check the camera connections, and figure out why the camera was only showing 2 views instead of 4. They pointed me at a very nice coffee shop, lots of eye candy both sides of the counter - the woman at the cash register is about 5' tall, and has a cleavage big enough to host a Westercon. She suggested an iced vanilla latte, which tasted great. I also had an apple turnover. After an hour, I ordered a refill and a banana nutella crepe. Hood crepe, but I would rather have had the mushroom/fancycheese which they were out of.

12:30, tech called, stumped about the radio controls not working, so he offered to install the aux switch, I said go ahead. Another 15 minutes and I walked back there, he was finishing up, I waited in the air conditioned 2-person waiting area. The bad news is it's a software issue with the main unit, which he did not sell me (Toyota sourced it) and he will contact them to see what they suggest. Good news is the aux switch gives all 4 views, one of them is very useful - it shows what's coming from the left and right corners behind the vehicle. It was very handy when I was trying to pull out of a very busy parking lot later. The other good news is at my request he checked the radio antenna connections, and discovered they were wrong and fixed them. Now I have a ton of AM, FM and HD stations coming in. Yay!

From there to UPS, picked up a package long-awaited from ScanCafe. I had sent 45 rolls of B&W negatives to them February 17. They received them the 19th. They said they would have the scans done and on DVD for me by April 22. More than two months is a long wait, but it was a lot of work. Finally getting them back June 8 with no real updates on their handydandy web site, not acceptable. The quality of the work was okay, but not worth the 69 cents a frame they charged. So I won't be linking to them here, and can't recommend them.

Got home, 88° outside, and OCD fool that I am, I sat in the car and programmed the radio. 6 AM and 18 FM stations. I started with the HD stations.

Went inside long enough to drop the box from ScanCafe onto a table, then grab my rental renewal form and took it to the office. Which was closed, with three people waiting. I went back home and faxed it in, including a nastygram about how I would move out at the end of the current lease except the company hasn't decided if we're moving. And probably won't for 6 months. Craigslist has many apartments in Sunnyvale for $500/mo less rent. But I don't want to move again so soon, and I don't want to move to Someplace else in Sunnyvale if the company moves to Redwood City. :-(

Programmed the new internet radio, was disappointed to find that it does not sync with the other two, or use the same android app. Probably will sell it on eBay and order another squeezebox from Or not. I mostly program them from the radio, and don't sync my bedroom one with the kitchen one anyway.

Opened the UPS box, and was attacked by Styrofoam peanuts. FAIL.  The object was supposed to be to keep the negatives flat, and away from static electricity. Pulled out the DVD, popped it into the PC drive and at least they did something right - the images are in folders which have the same labeling as the negative holders: year-month-roll# except they used underscores instead of dashes, which makes it harder to use a 10-key pad to type them.

I transferred all the folders to the hard drive, and then to the backup drive, and started to upload them to Flickr, when I saw that instead of naming the photos with my system, they had their own 40-character order code ending in the cumulative number of scans. So by the time I got to the 3rd roll we were up to  00107_bn_13ajwmyu9h0107_z.jpg. So I killed the ones on Flickr, and went through the tedious process of renaming every photo in every folder. If you ever have to do something like this, here's the process I used (Windows 7):
cut for techie boring )
This took me from 5:30-9:30 pm, with an hour break for dinner.

NOW I was ready to upload to Flickr, one folder at a time, as its own set. another 90 minutes or so. And finally, open each set, arrange alphabetically, and d&d a meaningful thumbnail to the title column.

And then post on FB.

Here are some samples
Read more... )

Plans for tomorrow:
Redwood City, see the final reading of Sexbot 2600
Maybe go across the street and see a movie. It's probably going to be another scorcher.
howeird: (Default)
Rebecca from Toyota called, they have received all the stuff to install the after-market nav/backup cam/iPod player system which I gave her the details about yesterday. Apparently others have decided the built-in system from Toyota is suckage, and the same Kenwood model I wanted is something they keep in stock. They just needed to order some cables. So I'll drop the car off in the morning, they will give me a ride to work, and Automation Guy will take me there when it is done.

Today's work was a whole day of trying to make incremental improvements to the tcl program which was working yesterday, but there is some syntax which is a piece'o'cake in every other language I know, but a piece of crap in tcl. Even the tutorials on the web were no help. Tomorrow I will ask Automation Guy to help. It should only take him a minute or three.

Lunch was Barn Thai, an unfortunate spelling of บ้านไทย which is pronounced Baan Tai - Thai house. For those of you who have joined the program in progress, Germans effed up Thai transliteration - in German and Thai, Th is a hard T, not the soft sound we have in English. Same rule for Ph (hard P, not F) and any consonant followed by an H is the hard version. Thai has had and not-so-hard versions of many letters. T is almost a d, P is almost a b, K is almost a g, and so on.

Anyhow, I ordered the drunken noodles, which were very good but a couple of stars spicier than I am used to. Handkerchief came in handy. They have a dessert roti which is to die for, though it is served differently that what you would get in Thailand. Over there, the roti is drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, and sprinkled with crystalline sugar, then rolled up into a cigar shape and served either in a wax paper or aluminum foil sheaf. Here they put the roti on a plate, cut into little pizza-like wedges, with a small (wasabi-sized) bowl of sweetened condensed milk and a tiny spoon in the center.

I like this place because they are at home speaking English or Thai with me.

Stayed at work till 6:30, finally gave up on the programming and went to Petco and bought some products which purport to calm down cats so they don't fight with each other and relax enough to groom them and trim their nails. I fed two of the pellets to Domino, and adorned her with a pheromone collar. She still was hissing at Kaan an hour later. And won't hold still for me to do her nails.

From Petco I went to OSH looking for blind spot mirrors for the Corolla, but they had none. BFD, I can pick up a pair at Toyota tomorrow. From there to Starbucks, where I read some more Sheri S. Tepper. Just when I think I am coming to the end of one of her books, there are 7 more chapters, at least. :-(

Came home to find Kaan had pooped in the bedroom. He had never done that before. While I was on the PC he made an archaeological site out of the first litterbox, scattering poop across the floor. Sigh. It was almost time to change the cartridges, so I did.

At work I ordered a pair of camo suspenders to be sent as a gift to the sales manager at Toyota who liked mine. He will laugh. I also looked for Thai restaurants near the dealership, found a great one, but they don't advertise gift certificates online. I will have to go there and see if they offer them, a gift for the sales rep. If not, Plan B, which I don't have one of yet.

And finally, after 4 months of waiting, ScanCafe finally posted that the 1800 B&W negatives I estimated I had sent them was really closer to 1400, and they were online for review. I deleted many which they should not have scanned at all - the leader into the first frame of the roll, a couple which were badly scratched and some which were too blurry. There were 42 rolls, and the ones which I did not delete will be put on a DVD for me. I expect the originals and the DVD in a week. I won't link to them, because their service was very slow, the estimate for completion was off by more than a month but they didn't keep me up to date until I asked. And they did not get the exposures right on a large number of them. Photoshop can fix most, so there's no excuse. Especially at 69 cents a frame.

These are all photos from my Peace Corps days 1975-77.

Plans for tomorrow:
Drop off car
1-on-1 with boss
P/U car
Put cargo holder from old car into new one, and also selected glove compartment items, the camp chair and the music stand.
Maybe unbox and set up the exercise bike, which will go in the livingroom where the cargo holder currently is parked. That box is in the foyer by the door.
howeird: (How Elephant)
Spent the day mostly in the sun at the Songkran festival downtown San Jose. They blocked off two blocks on First Street and three or four cross streets for a block in each direction, but only filled about half of it.

Typical Thai event, they didn't announce the program until the morning of, they started late, MCs made a few mistakes, etc. Unlike most Thai events, the main stage and the seating area in front of it was in direct sunlight, not tent, no canopy, just white folding chairs. I pity the heavily costumed performers.

One MC WTF - she kept mispronouncing the Thai names, and making excuses like "they are long and complicated". Yes, they can be, but most Thais have no problem with them.

There was a pretty solid lineup of entertainment from 11 till about 3:30, several performances by various classes from the Fremont wat, the Berkeley Thai Center and dancers from the local Lao and Cambodian temples. There was also a group of students from Bangkok who did about six different dances from different regions of Thailand. Also a Thai classical music concert from Fremont wat students and a group of chaoban folk doing long drum and Isan music from Kalasin.

The highlight, though, was three rounds of Miss Songkran competition. To me, none of them stood out, except for an older woman who was a local favorite who had the air of an aging ex-beauty queen. She won Miss Popularity by a landslide. The judges were three local Asian women and Miss Asian American.

There was some food, but not enough for the crowds. The lines were too long for me, I just grabbed a Thai iced tea a couple of times.

A block away from the pageant they has a muay Thai competition, it was all organized by local professional fight studios. I didn't get any pictures because the "ring" was just an exercise floor, and the crowd was 4 deep and rude. Maybe they will spring for a real elevated ring next year. Or bleachers. Hanging around the fringes, I was surprised to see a lot of female fighters.

My boss was there with his wife & daughter, part of the Fremont wat dance class. I have been watching her group since she was 4 (she's almost 7 now) and they have gotten very good. I think they were better than the older dancers from that temple. Come to think of it, I don't think the oldest class was there. Hmmm.

Something funny happened with the chairs. In the morning, there was shade on both sidewalks, and two or three at a time the chairs found their way there. By about 1 pm all but a handful of chairs where gone from the middle of the street where they had started.

10:49 AM


And then as the afternoon wore on, two things happened. The theater which most of the shade was in front of opened for business, a 3 pm matinee of a pair of operas. And the shade started shifting onto the street.

3 pm

I told my boss we had a human sundial. We agreed if one of us didn't show up at work tomorrow, we would check the local hospitals' burn units.

Miss Songkran was crowned after a small glitch - they had added a Miss Photogenic at the last minute, and by accident gave the winner Miss Personality's sash, and maybe prizes too. I walked away when I saw that happen and saw the MC had no clue it had happened. Went down the block to Muay Thai and back again, and they had fixed it.

I was using a new lens, a Nikon 55-300 VR with fast focus, and it was pretty good at 300mm but at most of the other zoom ranges it was not very sharp, and had a severe problem with contrast. I spent a lot of time in Photoshop lightening shadows. I also shot with a 35mm fixed lens, I'll have to cull those out and see if it had the same problem. If so I need to change my metering settings.

Anyhow, it was mostly a good time, I got to speak some Thai, did not get nearly as wet as I should have, this being a water festival and all. And now to spend some quality time with a tube of aloe.

Plans for tomorrow:


Apr. 20th, 2013 10:39 pm
howeird: (Default)

Officially back to being a lazy bum couch potato on weekends. Yay!

Woke up around 9, caught up on Elementary and The Mentalist on Tivo. The former is a copycat of the latter, but shifted to NYC and using the sexy Lucy Liu as the sidekick to a totally non-sympathetic genius. There is no chemistry there. There is no chemistry anywhere in Elementary, though the writers keep trying to create sexual tension. This episode they bring in Lucy's character's mother, who gives the "It's easy to see you are in love with him" talk, which falls flat because there is no love there, at all.

The Mentalist's writers, on the other hand, have built in ginormous sexual tension between the too-cute-for-her-badge boss and the very sympathetic genius. And also between two of the other regulars. They even had some Bad Romance for a while between a badge and one of his slutty informers.

Played with both cats, did some stuff online, then at about 1 I got dressed, hit an ATM, and tried out a new massage place about a mile down the street I live on. It was pretty good. 80# Chinese waif tap danced on my back. Or at least it felt that way.

Back home, made some late lunch, then off to Palo Alto for an invitation-only party for Palo Alto Players supporters. Very little in the way of food, meager selection of drinks but they at least covered all the bases. Check-in gave away the plot - they handed me a pre-printed subscription form with my name on it. Legal size paper, when a postcard would have sufficed. I really should not be on their list - I perform there, I've never bought a season ticket.

They announced the next season in what could have been a very exciting way had they executed it well. They didn't. The format was this:
A lectern at the corner of stage right. A mike stand at the corner of stage left. a projection screen hanging in the center. 

They started by projecting a high-def clip of a Latino dance number on the standard-def projector. For those who don't live and breathe video, this means the actors were very tall and very thin and it hurt my brain. After the clip they showed a hand-written black and white slide with the name and author(s)of the show.

For the first show, a musical, the person who will direct the show goes to the lectern and says a few words about the show. Then a young woman goes to the mike stand and sings/screeches a tune from the show, battling for all she is worth to sing in every possible key. She mostly succeeds. My brain hurts more. The show is In The Heights, which won a Tony because every show on Broadway which is set in NYC wins a Tony. The only thing the director had to say is the show is hot. Here is the clip they showed:
They cut it off at 1 minute.

Next up was God of Carnage, which got some crayon drawings and stick figure drawings about children fighting, then the hand-drawn slide and the director's speech. I have heard good things about this show, and I know the director is good too. But it's a 4-person cast, sure to be boring for me.

The Heiress is hyped with some too-short clips from the 1949 movie with Olivia de Havilland, whom the director incorrectly identifies as a Palo Alto native. She was actually born in Japan, and raised in nearby Saratoga. She went to Mills College way on the other side of the Bay. Bad slide, director's pitch did not make me want to see this show.

Now comes the real WTF. We get a clip which starts with the theme from Les Miz, with some video and custom made (typed, this time) slides which sounded like teasers for LM, then all of a sudden Frau Blücher says her name, and then we get a bit of Igor and Dr. F., and then a snatch of Dr. F and the Monster in Putting on the Ritz. Ugly b&w slide again, director says how thrilled he is to be directing this masterpiece, Young Frankenstein, which is almost nothing like the movie. Executive Director Peter Bliznick steps up to the mike stand and launches into an impressive rendition of Putting on the Ritz, joined by The Monster. That was well done.

Now the screen shows a bunch of poorly edited moments from the ancient TV show I've Got a Secret and the mystery man is finally revealed as claiming he invented the TV. No ugly B&W slide this time, but a colorful one in the shape of a TV set which announces The Farnsworth Invention. No director for this yet, the Players' tech director gives the promo. Meh.

The lights come up in the audience for volunteers to pass out subscription sheets, these are green instead of the yellow pre-printed ones. Seems the pre-printed ones are good for tonight only. The green ones have the non-special prices. Lights go back down and we get three more short speeches encouraging donations and subscriptions.

When it seemed to all be over, the volunteer coordinator tells us there is one more thing, from Miss Saigon (opening on the 26th). Two young people step up to the mike stand and sing "Sun and Moon". Katherine Dela Cruz and Danny Gould. Ms. Dela Cruz totally knocked it out of the park. I am so seeing that show. She looks to be about 15, he looks about 20. He did okay, with a mike. She doesn't need one. The good news is as the piece progressed, he started to rise to her level.

All that only took till 7:10. Plenty of time, so I took the El Camino all the way home, a very long and slow trip but worth it to see all the new stuff. They have taken the covers off of San Antonio Center, and it looks very modern. Further down, my favorite Thai restaurant was on its last legs last time I went by, it is now a grand opening Chinese place. There are two new, smaller Thai places, Rice and Thai Lemongrass, down the road a piece. Lots more changes. I did a couple of U-turns to take closer looks.

Plans for tomorrow:
Drive to SJ with the new lens, have fun at the Songkran festival. I thought they were having it in one of the big parks, but it looks like it is in a not so big parkng lot not far from where I parked for Brigadoon. It is going to be interesting to see how they fit everything into that space.

howeird: (Default)
Stayed up way too late last night, totally forgot there was a memorial service I wanted to go to, stayed in bed till 10,  played fetch with Kaan after I made it clear that we don't play with tie wraps and he brought me his pretzel toy. Did some stuff online till 12:30, was falling asleep at my desk so shut down the computer and took a nap. Woke up at about 2 with my left hand on Domino and Kaan just out of reach on my right.

Forced myself to pretend it was a nice day, I should be outside at least a little. Drove to the Mercado, thinking to grab an outdoor seat at Starbucks, but hunger won and I went into Subway and got a pastrami sandwich in honor of St. Schwartz's Day. It was as close to corned beef as they had. Finished 90% of it till it started making me sick. I rarely go into Subway, much prefer Togo's.  But I did sit outside while eating, and reading another chapter on the Kindle from The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius which I am enjoying very much. Each chapter is a short story by a different author, and so far there have been no clinkers, not even the one from [ profile] seanan_mcguire. :-)

And then the Kindle gave me a low battery message, and I trundled over to Starbucks where there was a huge line and nowhere to sit inside or outside. So I relocated to the lesser-known one near Lucky's on Mathilda. My apartment is about halfway between the two. Got a good seat, stayed a couple of hours, kept forgetting to look up from the laptop to check out the eye candy.

Was searching for a convenient mailbox service, but the only one I found had a negative rating on Yelp from about 20 people. I have a bit of a dilemma, and that's that I don't know if the sale of Moto will mean a move for us. Boss' boss says he doesn't think it will, and has been lobbying against it, but OTOH he as put plans to upgrade the labs on hold until after the sale, when he can ask the new owners what they have in mind. Most of what I order online is UPS or Fedex, so just a PO box won't do. I may get one anyway....

Some of the stuff I did online today included ordering a GoPro camcorder, which will be for cats at first, and this summer I may take it on bike rides. There will be no theater projects this summer, I want to enjoy the sunshine.

Also ordered a half dozen bottles of dried kafir lime leaves. I'm tempted to get a small lime tree for the patio, but not yet. Anyway, the leaves are amazing for Thai cooking. Any cooking, actually. Soups, stews, curries, etc.

Emailed the headboard people and told them their canned "pack it up, put a return label on it and bring it to UPS" solution is not feasible. I need the piece of junk picked up and repacked. And I need a 1-hour pickup window.

Did my taxes in TurboTax, and e-filed both federal and state. I may need to amend the cost bases of a couple of stocks, one which split 1 for 7 and then lowered the price by 90%, which makes the math convoluted.

But that's the last time for that - I've sold all my stocks and am now invested only in a small sampling of tax free bonds and cash reserves. If I retired today, that would buy me lunch for weeks.

Today's cooking project was one last go at Tod Mun Pu, Thai style crab cakes. I mostly followed a recipe I found online, with some minor changes. One thing I learned is these need to be fried in oil on high heat, not medium as my recipe book author friend recommends.
Recipe hidden here )

Ate about a dozen for dinner, while watching Channel 4's I'm Witless News.

Plans for tomorrow:
Patelco CU - close account
Rehearsals - two more scenes where I am just a warm body.
P/U a delivery at the 7-11 locker
howeird: (Default)
Today's adventure was a trip to the store to buy a storage tub and a storage box and store things in them.

There have been four moving boxes of misc. electronics and office stuff piled behind the file drawers since October. None of them had much in them. Tonight I sorted everything in there, kept out some things, threw out others. Took that out to the storage room on the patio, and while I was there put all of last summer's Ye Olde Towne Band programs into the bin where they belonged. Pulled out my Thai tub, extricated what I thought was a shoebox of letters I had sent home from Thailand, brought those inside and slid them into the storage box. On closer inspection, the box is an envelope box, and the letters are not just ones I sent home, but also ones I received in Thailand and Israel from friends and flames.

They don't seem to be in strict order. The plan is to pull all the letters I sent, put them in order, transcribe them and maybe publish them. And while I'm at it, put the ones to me in order and read them. Some are from other volunteers talking about the newsletter I edited, or the advisory group meetings. I found a letter from a former girlfriend who had broken up with me while I was still in college, to go for a doctorate in chemistry in Texas. It was a long philosophical letter talking a lot about religion. It was addressed to me in Israel. Anyhow, lots of interesting stuff. I found the first letter I had written home, and it said on the plane we saw "Young Frankenstein". I don't remember that. It also said we arrived in BKK at 2 am, I thought we landed in daylight. Hmmm.

Stayed up too late again, which happens after rehearsals. Slept till I had to get up. Kaan wanted to play fetch again, so we did, but he stopped after a few rounds. The microfiber sheets have been very comfortable, and they don't get wet from the night sweats. Or rather, they wick the wet away quickly. My hair was wet, the pillowcases were not.

Not much work to do at work, I only found one bug to check. I watched a lot of TV, adjusting the settings on my test machine until ESPN didn't stutter anymore on our network. There was a townhall meeting by the head of the division which is in charge of our department, with numbers from 2012 which were disappointing and targets for 2013 which faked out the ones from 2012. Chances are slim that we will still be a cohesive entity by the end of the year, the sale of the company is going to shuffle things a lot, I think.

Lunch was at Round Table, read more of the Octavia Butler book. I'm not thrilled with it, but I'll give it a chance. The characters are skin deep. The story line jumps around a bit. I am thinking it is YA science fiction. Except there's no science.

Home by way of shopping, and you know the rest.

Plans for tomorrow:
Brigadoon music rehearsal
howeird: (Default)
Thing One: Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15. The Federal holiday, one would think, ought to have been on the Monday nearest the actual date, but somehow it shifted to the Monday after. Today.
Thing Two: The Constitution says the President is inaugurated on January 20. Somehow this got shifted to today, also.
This last item is called playing the race card. 
You can skip this rant )
I didn't pay any attention to the inauguration because I don't see it as significant. I think the wrong person was nominated in 2008, and the right person made a deal not to run in 2012 in return for the most glamorous job in the cabinet.
And when someone who is inept but on my side is running against someone who is ruthlessly capable but against me, and nothing I can do will change that, I'll settle for Obama and hope for the best.

I listened to the snippets of his speech they showed on the news, and have this to say:
- Gay marriage: It's about time you changed your opinion. Now let's see you introduce a Constitutional amendment, and an act to repeal DOMA.
- The War: In 2004 you promised to bring our troops home in 18 months. Today you said the war is coming to an end, but named no dates. Your last official pronouncement on this would put it at 18 months from now. This is why I could not vote for you.
- The economy: Yes, it's better. But it still sucks.

Today was the day to do the things I didn't do because Friday night I had a special show to attend, Saturday there was serious sleep deprivation and a crab feed, Sunday two important football games, cookie baking and a potluck/rehearsal.

I was feeling slothful all day. Got a lot done, anyhow:
- Took the latest 506 slides from the scanning service and put them back into two binders
- Plucked the last 300 slides from the final binder and put them into boxes of 50 for the scanning service.
- Moved the recliner and vacuumed and steam cleaned the area by my feet. This confused the heck out of the cats
- Spent a couple of hours online trying not to make too much fun of so many of my friends who worship the air Obama breathes.
- Ran a load of laundry
- Dishwashered the second set of cookie baking gear and cleaned powdered sugar off too many surfaces, including my blood sugar monitor.
- Plugged in the rehearsal dates for Brigadoon into my Google calendar. The calendar they provided was not in a PDF, and not arranged in anything approaching readable.

When I opened the door to go to BASFA, there was a Fedex package there. WTF? I was home all day, they couldn't ring the bell?

Anyhow, BASFA was sparsely attended, but I like it that way. Too many people = too many cross-conversations. My rumor of the week was voted in. It really shouldn't have been because it was the last one on the list, but otherness prevailed.

I mentioned at the meeting that I thought Michelle Obama had told her overcoat maker to "make me something Kardashian" but they thought she said "Cardassian". Here are the photos, you be the judge:

Plans for tomorrow:


Jan. 20th, 2013 02:34 am
howeird: (Default)
I was up way late, slept till 11:30 this morning. Kaan tried to head butt me awake a couple of times. He can be so sweet.

Most of the afternoon I worked on processing the latest scanned slides. These were mostly ones I had developed in Thailand, 1975-77, when air conditioning was working if it got the room down to 90F. When the developer is too warm, the photos are more grainy and the colors are dull. When the fixer is too warm, it doesn't fix the colors and they go purple. I'm talking about Ektachrome, which has a bit of blue sensitivity. On Agfa and Kodachrome they tend to go more red/brown.

I went with the cheap service which doesn't do any corrections, and mostly doesn't bother to clean the slides. And there were about a dozen where they didn't bother to check that the slide was falling out of its holder.

Photoshop does a decent job of color correction with a single keystroke, and sometimes that also corrects the brightness and contrast. Sometimes I need to apply the "lighten shadows" or "midtones brighter" widgets. Some needed saturation boosted, but I didn't figure that out till I was almost done.

At about box 8 I saw the time and wondered why my phone's calendar app had not alerted me. It was time to go to Saratoga for the South Bay Musical Theater annual crab feed. They had fewer ticket sales this year - usually they sell out well before, but there were still tickets available at the door. But as usual, the chairs were packed way too close together, and by about 6:45 all the seats were filled. There was enough crab, but not enough to sell leftovers, which was a big reason I went this year. Boo. Hiss. The entertainment was a gypsy band, sort of. They took American standards and played them super-fast mariachi style, but without brass or accordions. The leader stood out front with his guitar, which he played well and knows it. The rest of the band - a drummer, an electric bass and maybe a keyboard or another guitar - looked bored. It sounded great if you didn't listen to the tunes. When they played "My Way" as a fast tango I almost lost it.

At about 8, the MC got up and tried to do some jokes, and then the raffles and some of the high-price auctions, but the sound system only reached the second row.  It was sad. I went to have an other go at the chocolate fountain. This year's was smaller, and the stuff to dip was less diverse. Marshmallows, rice crispies treats, alleged brownie-ettes, and strawberries. Could have used more fruits.

I schmoozed with some friends, managed to avoid the producers from the last show of theirs I was in, and bailed after my ex-wife (who was one of the servers) told me there were not going to be leftovers for sale.

Had two items to buy at Target on the way home: wooden/bamboo chopsticks and a can opener. Found the chopsticks right away, but I was shocked - shocked, I tell you! - that The French Store not only had no electric can openers for sale, but none of the manual openers (there were 6 kinds of those) included a triangular punch for opening can tops for liquids. Two of them had bottle cap openers, so I bought one of those.

Home, back to processing the slides. Got done around 11:30.

Costco names the files with the 9-digit order number followed by -SLD and then the 3-digit box number (I sent them 10 this time) followed by the 4-digit slide number (in the order they scanned them, since I didn't have them in any real order). So I did some magic with Word and Excel and the command line to rename them.  So something like

Much easier on the eyes.

Flickr hides the "permanently delete a batch" button, which caused me some grief when I reamed the previous set and wanted to replace the old set with those. I'll mess with that tomorrow.

Meanwhile the latest set is up:
Click here

It is a hodgepodge. If something sparks a question, feel free to comment.

Plans for tomorrow:
Rename and reload the first set of slides
Make Kourabiethes
Take them to the Brigadoon potluck/read-through. My ex at the crab feed told me about a production of that musical which she was in where everyne got sick, and they nicknamed it Brig-of-Doom.
howeird: (How Elephant)
Long day at work. Lunchtime I went to Costco to pick up the 3rd set of scanned slides. There were 508, not 500. I thought I had counted everything twice. Six of the extras were in box #9, so chalk it up to starting to go blind. Many many crappy photos, a lot of them due to having been developed in 100° temps in rural Thailand. I had to tape a lot of them back into their paper holders - the adhesive had dissolved. Still, there were some good ones. I'll put a few behind a cut.

I wanted to do some shopping, but the lines were too long. All I was really after was celery hearts. And maybe chocolates.

Back at work, I was trying to write a script to test a new I/O card, based one one which was already working for an old I/O card. But with more efficient code. I couldn't get past the first step. Turns out the card which was in the test machine I'd borrowed was faulty. While one of the other testers was trying to figure it out with me, we both got a lesson on something entirely different (new piece of monitoring equipment) from the seniorest tester.

Home, the only thing in the mailbox worth the 1-block walk through the bitter cold was Boskone's progress report, which has the schedule and my name's even in it as an artist. Had the slides not arrived today, this evening would have included making labels for the photos I'll be mailing them. Tomorrow, then.
Okay, you have waited long enough. Some ancient Thailand photos from batch #3:
here )
Plans for tomorrow:
Starbucks or McDonalds
howeird: (Default)

Same project at work, keeps looking like I am getting closer until I run the whole script. :-(

Lunchtime I went to the PO and express mailed the Solmeta GPS camera attachment to them. In Shenzhen, China. I guess that's really Hong Kong. I was surprised that now they use the domestic envelopes for global express. $38.

Had lunch at IHOP. Very tasty carrot cake pancakes.

Costco called, my slides were scanned and ready to pick up. Once again I was thwarted by going there first and doing some shopping instead of picking up packages at the apartment office (there are now 2).

Home, put stuff away, gave the cats treats, dinner was Hungarian style stuffed cabbage which I'd picked up at Costco, not expecting much, but it was so good I ate all 4 of the large rolls. Tasted a lot like how my Hungarian grandmother taught me to make them.

Domino is getting a little bit braver, she set up to jump Milo when he came out from behind the entertainment center, but he is lightning fast and was past her, turned around facing her from 2 feet away before she could do anything. So she yelled at him and took a swipe, which landed 6" short. He meowed back, then skulked away.

When I check on them during the day on the webcams, usually he is on the recliner and she is curled in the tiny cat hidey hole thing by the piano. When I came home she came out for most of the evening, but she's back inside now. Probably because I chased her away from his food dish.

I had wanted to go to the strip club tonight (I'm running low on ones, and the CU ATM gave me a 100-dollar bill) but spent the time processing the new images (Photoshop's "Auto Color" and "Lighten Shadows" features are my friends). I miscounted, and sent them 502 slides, one of which was total garbage, so 501 are now on my Flickr site. A few examples: Read more... )

Plans for tomorrow:
Pick up packages before going to work (?)
Thursday night football

Boxes Day

Sep. 12th, 2012 11:18 pm
howeird: (American Flag)
Went back to the PO to pick up the second box from Thailand. This one contained a bunch of beautiful silk screened T-shirts, and stuff I had not worn my first week in Bangkok: jeans, a bathrobe, a windbreaker.

Work was more fun than usual, they delivered my new laptop (which is always docked and acts as a desktop machine) and as usual, were half-assed about it. They imaged the box with the bare minimum of required software, and left it up to me to transfer the files from my old XP laptop. The desktop support clown did not even know about Easy File Transfer. I set that up at around 4, and left early because it was going to tie up both machines for 5 hours. I still need to install a dozen tools for video testing which IT should do, but doesn't.

I'd been hoping to read a book at lunchtime, but as I was going out to the car, automation guy was returning from the team's afternoon walk, and decided to go with me. We went to Barn Thai again. Good food, fast service, and both waitresses now speak Thai to me automatically.

He was asking about green coffee extract. My answer was anything being touted by Dr Oz has to be a scam. I'd looked into it for him and the only tests which have been published were not double-blind, and had tiny sample groups (like 16 or 22 people).  I told him not to waste his money. Maybe in a year they will have actual data. Maybe.

My legs and thighs have been very sore from all the standing I've been doing at the incredibly unplanned and time-wasting rehearsals, and the lack of places to sit backstage. There's a nice green room, but it's in a trailer behind the theater and takes a while to get there and back.  So as soon as I got home, I checked to see if the hot tub was warm (it was), changed and went for a 15-minute soak and bubble massage. Then I took a 2-hour nap. I feel much better now. Domino joined me, she parked her head against the headboard and draped her tail over my arm.

At the door was a large UPS package, I did not recognize the sender's name. It didn't match anything on my expected packages list. Turns out it was my photos from Chicon7. It included a bid sheet, and I actually sold two photos, not just one. Bamboo Cat as well as Raven. Those were two retreads, I like them a lot. So with 10% commission, I made $90. It cost about $300 to participate. I'm thinking maybe I will enter Loscon after all, using some of these prints, since they are already printed, mounted and labeled.  There's also an Art Ark show I want to apply for, but probably with poster-framed prints instead of mounted ones. In both cases I'll set the sale prices low (like $25) which will pay for printing and mounting. And maybe at that price people will bid up. Maybe. We'll see. I still have a lot of other stuff to take care of.

The person who won the in-dash unit on eBay finally paid. It's a toy store in North Carolina. Odd but true, 3 out of 4 of the things I sold this week went to NC.

Got a bizarre email message from PayPal that the idiot I sold my HTC Vivid phone to wants a $60 refund (on a $200 sale) because he can't figure out how to make it vibrate when he gets a text message. I sent a message back that I didn't mention such a feature in the auction, and he needs to take it to an AT&T store - if they say it is defective he can send it back to me for a full refund. I'm not giving a partial refund for a perfectly functioning phone in the hands of a dysfunctional customer. I can sell it for the same price or higher to someone else.
After my nap I tried swapping the cable card from my working Tivo to the bedroom one. It worked. Swapped the non-working card to the working Tivo and got an error message. Basically, Comcast gave me a blank card. It's supposed to be programmed before they hand it to me, and it wasn't.

In other news, IMHO it's time to leave 9/11 in the past. It has been 11 years, and we have killed more than a million people in response. Mostly the wrong million people.

The attack on the embassy in Libya touched me personally a little bit. Chris was a Peace Corps Volunteer from the Bay Area, and returned while I was on the board of the Norcal Peace Corps alumni group. He served in Morocco, which meant he spoke Arabic, and was one of many PCVs from "hardship" countries who joined the state department to continue to use their language and cultural skills. I am hugely upset that the US Marines who are supposed to guard the embassy staff did not. I'm not too surprised that the Libyan government, which pretends to be our ally, did nothing to protect the embassy on the second day of riots.

Romney was out of line in the way he commented on the event, but he was right about the underlying issues.

Plans for tomorrow:
PO to ship eBay item
Comcast to trade in the defective cable card

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