Tuesday, January 31, 2006

First Picture with new Digital Camera - Low Resolution

   I deliberately set my new Polaroid digital camera on lowest resolution so I could compare Hi Res and Lo Res pictures and had a friend snap me in the hall. It has a sort of haunting quality about it.  The high resolution photos are clear and crisp and take forever to transmit over dial up connections.


Movie Review -- The Girl with the Pearl Earring

   The Girl with the Pearl Earring with Scarlett Johannson (2003) is a fictionalized history of the Johannes Vermeer painting of the same name.  The novel was written by Tracy Chevalier and told what "might have happened" considering the times and lifestyle of Dutch citizens in the 1660's.  It gives insights into family life and especially the techniques that painters used.

   An artist did not get on the internet and order his paints from Michael's Art Supply and specify Cambrian Red or Vermillion or whatever.  He had to use chemicals and oil and mix them.  It makes you wonder how on earth they created such wonderful masterpieces.

   Chevalier weaves history and imagination and romance into fascinating adventure.  And, to understand the film, you pretty much have to have read the novel.  The film sticks to the mood and drama of the book, but without knowing the story, you could easily get lost in the film narrative.

   The most remarkable thing is how closely Scarlett Johannson resembles the girl in the Vermeer painting. The likeness is uncanny, and contributes to the charm of the filmed story. Scarlett was nineteen when the film was made and she makes the role of Griet wonderfully believeable.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Out of It

I am so "out of it" that I didn't know who Matt Hasselbeck and Ben Roethlisberger were until a few minutes ago,and I still dont know which one belongs to which team. 

I had to copy down the word Pittsburgh letter by letter or I would have spelled it Pittsburg.  So the Superbowl XL will be between Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks and how come it isn't Superbowl #40?

And when is it?  I presume  it will be Sunday...that is when pro games are, isn't it? But I am not sure.

Monochromatic photo shoot -- one week late

John Scalzi's By The Way asks us to post a favorite black and white photo, so I robbed the family album for this one of my mother, right, my grandmother, and my great grandmother.  It was taken about 1910 as near as I can judge.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Best of Dribble

Still my favorite entry.  Tells how I feel about J-land.

Most amusing.

Most informative.

Most personal.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

New camera

Just for the heck of it, bought a new digital camera.  Haven't even opened the darn old plastic package yet.  At least it has a viewer, which my old one does not. Old one an antique 2002 model.  New one a Polaroid PDC 2080 3.2 mega pixel, made in China of course, on sale for $68 bucks. Holds a fabulous five, count em, five pictures on internal card.  Thought I try it out before getting a card to hold more pictures. 

Actually I usually take fewer than five pictures before I download to computer.  Thought I'd load this program in new lap top. 

One curious comment in tiny print on camera package:  autoflash...gives just the right amount of light in numerous situations.  ...what does that mean... at five point three feet in low ceilinged room with white acoustic tile? How numerous are the situations in which the flash does NOT give just the right amount of light?

It may be a while before you see any results in this journal, but I will give you a review of my learning curve. The first task, get it out of the plastic package.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cookie Cutter Cars II

   Have auto designers trained the public to buy only cars that look alike, or have buyers trained the auto designers by buying only cars that look like this.


   Here are a Ford, Chrysler, Honda, and Dodge parked side by side in our parking lot.

   I know Chrysler and Dodge are cousins, but why do Ford and Honda look so much like them?

Early Birds

   Outside my window, the first ones I have seen this year, birds.  Four.  Two blue ones and two small brown ones. I am not a birder, so I cannot tell you what they were, I wish I could.  Blue ones were blue on top and gray underneath, but lacked the crests of Jays, and the small ones were mottled brown and were on the ground pecking for food.  The blue ones were on the trunk of a tree.

   I was surprised to see them, for I hadn't missed them.  But I am glad they are back.  It is two months before the swallows return if they follow their time honored schedule, so these are the early birds of 2006. 



   Woke at 7:38 am, and without rising reached over and lifted phone into bed with me.  I pushed the "Bertha" button and it dialed my cousin for me.  I could tell by the tone of her voice that someone was there with her, and I said "Oh your sister is there."  And I was right. We chatted until after 8:00 am and I rose and got ready for breakfast

   I was offered waffles, potatoes, scrambled eggs, syrup, bacon, and sausage, but said, "No thanks," and took toast and cold ceral instead, which with orange juice and coffee was plenty.  If I ate the breakfast they offer every morning I would weigh even more than I do now.

  Rolled home and opened my pill cabinet.  I recited my pill litany:

One, aspirin, thins my blood to prevent strokes and ease the aches and pains or Arthritis

Two, lowers blood pressure

Three, regulates heart beat

Four strengthens heart beat

Five "dewaters" me so I pee away water so it does not make my legs swell quite as much.

Six, regulates the sugar in my system so I do not have to take insulin.

   Whew, what a routine.  At night I repeat a couple and add an anti-chloresterol nightcap. My pill cabinet has a few "in case" medicines. I  have on standby: anti-diarrheal, strong pain killers for phantom pain, cough suppressant, cold remedy, sleep inducer, and plain old aspirn and tylenol, and by my bed, an inhaler. 

   And how was your morning? 


Friday, January 20, 2006

Best Money I Ever Spent -- Weekend assignment 95

I don't remember exactly how much it was, nor if it is the very best I ever spent, but I sure remember 1979 and buying a TRS-80 at Radio Shack. 

I hung around Radio-Shack like a teen age haunts the mall. I could always find something electronic to captivate me, from build it yourself kits, to parts, or just plain wire and solder.  And there sat TRS-80, a computer. A what?  A computer.

I tried to use it like a calculator without results.  I asked the clerk why it couldn't add.  He said, "You didn't tell it to print."

"That's dumb," I  said, "What did it think I wanted to do?"

"Adding is too easy," said the clerk. "Look at this."  He typed for a second and it printed out multiplication tables from one to twenty-five instantly.  My mouth dropped open. I was impressed and hooked.  After a few more demonstations I took it home.  I don't remember what it cost, but it was around $495 I think.

I got it home and set it up about four in the afternoon.  I didn't get up to eat or even go to the bathroom until ten pm. 

Within a couple of days I wrote a program that presented a little multiple choice quiz, checked your answers and gave you a score. I used the entire four K of memory.  I saved the program to tape, and proudly took my program to show the clerk at Radio Shack.  He gladly gave me a replacement tape for it, and kept it to demonstrate the computer.  He later told me my demo tape had sold a computer.

Before long I upgraded to a 16 K memory. And that was how it started.  I joined a TRS-80 club.  We swapped programs, and tips, and even built a modem for the 80. Imagine building your own modem that worked an amazing 128 bps.  Not 128K... just 128.

That was the start of hobby that is now the center of my life.  I involved that TRS-80 in my teaching.  Then another and another, and then ATARI and TI-99 and APPLE. I have had dozens of computers since, but none more fun than the first TRS-80, which I programmed myself in BASIC.


Movie Review -- Cheaper by the Dozen 2

Ho Hum. 

Two families compete at summer resort. Steve Martin plays John Candy who played Chevy Chase who played Jerry Lewis. In other words, you've seen this movie a jillion times already. Full of gags like a guy in a wheel chair falling in lake, twice. Steve Martin was good in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but bad in Father of the Bride.  This one does not come up to Father of the Bride, even.

Most amusing part of afternoon, permanent sign in rest room: "Please notify management if this rest room does not meet up to your expectations."

Google, My Aunt Fanny

You can find ANYTHING on the internet -- if you know how. 

However, I was born in the early part of the twentieth century, when you dialled "O" for operator, asked for "information", and got it, free.  Now, in the twenty first century, supposedly more enlightened and so-called "the information age", you gotta know your way around to get the help you need. 

The magic word is not "open sesame", but GOOGLE.  I dutifully opened a "google account", and typed in "residential directory" and got a page full of links to Lord-knows-what. I  chose a likely one and typed in the name of a lady in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Instantly I got the information that they had two addresses for ladies of that name, and I could have either one for $9.75.

This search was for a friend and he did not authorize the expense, so I looked for a free database.  One called "Free Person search" sounded likely, so I tried that and got a page called: THIS PAGE IS NOT AVAILABLE.

Well, thought I, I will simply google the name.  I entered the first name, last name, and city, and then Google sent me.... 164,948 links.  I got links to eveybody with that first name, and everybody with that last name, and every reference to Minneapolis. 

The address I needed is certainly hidden there among those thousands of links, but where?  What I need is help in searching, so I wrote "How to Search the internet" in the box at the top of the screen.  This time I got an offer of a laminated instruction sheet on how to search to put on my computer screen.  Cost $29.75. 

Ratz. I gave up and wrote this.

What I need is a simple tutorial on how to search.  I know it can be done, because school kids are doing it all the time, and turning in their results as term papers.  But they are kids of this century. I was born too soon. I was born in the "ask the operator" era. In fact, in those days you didn't look up numbers at all.  You picked up the phone and said, "I want to talk to Minnie Smith in Minneapolis," and you were connected.  It took a little time, and it cost a little more than dialing direct, but it saved a lot of searching, and you didn't have to know ANYTHING.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh, Come Now

The Mayor of New Orleans says that hurricanes are God's punishment for America.

How can anyone in the twenty-first century make such a naive statement?

I'd better keep an eye on our own mayor and see if she is making any seventeenth century pronouncements.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


   I was reading Time Magazine's articles about brain function, and how to improve it. It was fascinating and thought provoking, and I moved nearer and nearer the window for better light. I was improving my own brain power, but I was interrupted by a spasm of uncontrollable coughing.

   I had moved right into the flow of forced air from the airconditioner.  I had a flash of intuition: move away from the airstream.

   Coughing stopped.  See how reading improves your mind?

Fisher Slope Completed

In a comment to the entry below, I was asked to add a slobbering St. Bernard to the ski slope. I have maligned poor Barrie, the famous rescue dog, by having him drink the brandy he was carrying to revive lost skiers, so he is not only slobbering, but hiccuping as well.

Here is a detail from the tryptich, Fisher Slope, as completed.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Fisher Slope -- work in progress nearing completion

Here's the latest version my tryptich, now called Fisher Slope. Named it that because Valerie participated in the revision.

She saw the  skier stuck in the snow and wrote, "Help him."  But when I added rescuers, she changed her mind and said, "Oh, I thought it was cute, his being caught in the snow."  But it was too late, for the rescue squad, once created, could not be called off.

So here it stands, nearly done.  It is nearly done because I am ready to move on to a new project.  It is not too late to email me any figures you would like added.  Join in the winter fun.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Life in the Old Folks Home

   Some thunder and lightning would be a treat here.  Been low lying fog for days now.  Ten cars plowed into each other near here because there was a fender bender in the fog and other cars smashed into them. One serious injury with victim removed by helicopter.  An ambulance would probably get lost or run into someone else.  I miss the booming storms of Missouri.

    The breakfast at IHOP was nice.  Ted, Milt, and I went and Alicia, the activity director, came along.  She was charming and fun and nothing went wrong.  She used to be a waitress at IHOP for years, and at Dennys.  Days like today make me glad she is activity director and make up for all the December screw ups. Two evenings a week she reads to us out of The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

      So I am fed, medicated, and content.  Had biscuits and gravy.  Milt had some coupons and Ted took my check and a coupon and paid only 19 cents for my breakfast.  I told him I would give him a quarter and he should keep the change.  I left the tip for everyone so whole morning cost me a mere $8.00. We all got by for very little.

    Our next outing is to Barnes and Noble book store for browsing and then for lunch and Round Table Pizza.  That will be nice.  The ladies have a breakfast out next week... maybe they will invite the gents.  We invited the ladies, but none signed up.

     Dorothy the hug lady whom I wrote about in my journal has moved out to live with daughter in Oregon.

    Louis and Peggy have been sweethearts here for years. They met here when she moved in years ago.  After years of close companionship Peggy had to move out of the old folks home and in with her family in a nearby community.  Many tears on both their parts, and Peggy finally accepted Louis proposal.  They would be married here in the parlor much like Milt and Eva had.

   Louis moved to a larger apartment to be ready. Then Louis' and Peggy's families intervened. Somehow, with an attorney, they convinced the couple to cancel the wedding plans.   Now tears flowed anew.  Louis wanted to move back to the apartment he has had for more than eight years, but was told that it had been rented to someone new already. Now he has lost his apartment, has to pay more for larger apartment he does not want, lost his lady friend, and is farther away from the dining room and the center of activity.

     It is tough to get old.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Young Mayor follow Up

This comments  I received on the last entry was worth a whole new entry.  Thanks, Silk.and Elleme

My eyebrows shot up when you mentioned the mayor.  The village is Tivoli, New York, and it's right up the road from me.  It wasn't apathy that got him elected - the kid is pretty incredible, and ran a darn good campaign (it didn't hurt that the village is full of students from Bard College).  Tivoli is maybe two blocks long and four wide, and before the kid got elected it was loud college bars and not much else.  Now there are noise ordinances, and the bars have been replaced by little bistros, coffee houses, and several terrific restaurants.  The village has turned a defunct horse farm into a world-class center for dance, and has been attracting tourists with things like sidewalk painting festivals.  Even the houses look happier.  I'm not sure, I don't much follow local politics, but I think he's still mayor, probably in his mid-20s now.  If anyone remembers Woodstock, NY, in the late 60s, before it got all gentrified, that's what Tivoli is like now.  And the kid shook up the place and made it happen.

That is a fantastic record for any mayor, regardless of age.  But he is not the one I thought of when you mentioned it earlier.  An 18-year-old high school senior, Michael Sessions, was just elected mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan (also a college town) last November.  The record of his administration is yet to be written so it will be interesting to check up on it in a couple of years.  

They say you know you're getting old when all your doctors are younger than you are, but you're really ancient when the mayor is younger than your grandson!


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Two Days

For two whole days I have not touched my new laptop.  And I don't care.  The old Hewlett-Packard feels very comfortable right now.

And the residents' council lapsed because no one would serve as officers in it.  The administator of the old folks home says she has to schedule the meetings monthly, and keep a record that show that she has, but if no one comes, well, that is that.

It reminds me of a town that became so apethetic that a high school student ran for mayor, and was elected, because no one else would run.  He was just old enough to be eligible.  I don't know what kind of mayor he became, but at least he got on David Letterman as the  "youngest mayor".

Monday, January 9, 2006

You Can Lead a Horse to Water...

...but you cannot make him drink.

   The administration of this old folks home told us it is "state law" that there must be a residents' council.  So dutifully we made one.

   And we appointed officers who hate the job.  They hate confrontation, and hate to be the go-betweens between landlord and tenant.  Finally the officers said "no more".  We have scheduled elections for tomorrow... but nobody wants to run.

   Who can blame them.   We are retired, tired, feeble, and aged. No one wants to take the job of toreador to the administrations bull. Getting gored is not part of a happy retirement.

   So tomorrow, no doubt, the association will lie fallow, be leaderless, dormant, and defunct. 

   How can the state law tell us we "have to have one", when there is no one to do it. I think the state law must actually say that the landlords "cannot prohibit" one.  Anyhow, I think that is what we will presume.

   "...You cannot make him drink."  Old adages sometimes make more sense than state law.

Quirky Things About Me -- Continued

Karen "tagged" me, and dared me to tell five quirky things about myself. In an earlier entry I thought about one and deferred the list for later. Here's another.

My mouse buttons are reversed.  It happens that my mouse fits my hand just fine when my index finger rests on the right click button.  So, since I was right clicking by mistake for most normal left click functions, I went to control panel and reversed them.  Nothing quirky about that....

Except when my daughter or grandson come to help me tame the feral actions of this electronic beast.  They confidently start to show me this or that funtion they know so well, and nothing happens... They have clicked normally and have drawn a blank, or worse, an unexpected menu. 

They sigh, and adapt, and then I know I have another quirky thing about me to report.

Comfortable Old Loafers

Yes, I know this is going to take time.  I accept that..... and yet.

After an hour, four a.m. to five a.m., I turn off the new Dell Laptop and come over to my familiar H-P desk top. The mouse feels so comfortable in my hand. 

Firing up my old friend is like pulling off a pair of new shoes and slipping into a pair of old loafers.  Ahhh, they fit your feet so nicely. There, that's nice. I can type and scroll and drag and select with ease.

After the shell-shock of working with new computer, my antique (1999) computer feels so nice.

What shell-shock this time?  New computer comes with fantastic array of programs as shown in display of icons. Right? 

Wrong.  I delightedly started Scrabble.... only to find it is limited to 60 minutes of play.  Then buy it or bye bye.  Ooooh, Corel Photo Album, I start to explore that program and then I note.... it is good for sixty days.

Well, it is nice to have free samples on the computer, but I thought, looking at all the icons on my desktop that they were included.  Wake up, Charlie, there's no free lunch. 

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Dell Laptop Madness

How's this for logic: The Dell Laptop Instruction Manual is in the computer. 

You want to know how to operate the computer, you have to operate the computer to read the manual.

I have never worked with a touch plate before.  Instructions for the touch plate are on page thirty.  I muddle along to page thirty. I read the first paragraph and need to scoll down to the next, but I don't know how to scroll.  I tap the touch plate and I am on page sixty four.  I stuggle back to page thrity.... and then jump again, this time to one hundred two.

This is madness. 

Santa Arrived Last Night

   When I awoke at five a.m. and rose to make my usual trip to the bathroom, I discovered a shipping carton in the middle of the living room floor.  It was like Christmas morning.  While I slept, Santa, or UPS, or the night watchman, crept into my apartment and left a carton in the middle of the floor, where I would be sure to discover it.  Then he crept out, without so much a sleigh bell. I slept on.

   It didn't take long to discover it was my new Laptop from Dell. I hadn't specified Overnight Shipping, but here it was.  Kid that I am, I could not go back to bed and open it in the morning.  I opened it then and there, in the middle of the room on the floor. 

   First out of box were two large manuals. Oh, my, I have to learn a whole new computer.  At least, it is Windows XP, I know that. A picture card shows how to plug it in.

   I thought as I lifted it out of the carton, "The last person to see this, was a Balinese worker in Malasia."  I have no indication whether it came from Kuala Lumpur, or Penang, or Singapore, or places in-between.

   It is a heavy little bugger, with no handle. Tablemate Wilma once asked me why they are called Laptops. "Do you use them on your lap?"

   "Well, no."  It would surely fall off your lap. I will put it on my desk, beside my Desktop Computer. Hmm.

   And then, but not until then, I had buyers remorse.  What have I done? So much to learn... so much to UN-learn. Where will I use it? Dining room? Card room? Starbucks?

   My next entry in this journal will probably NOT be made on the new laptop.  Sometime next month -- maybe.

New Dell Laptop, on the floor, right where I found it.


Saturday, January 7, 2006

Eva and Milton

Remember Eva and Milt the two residents who met here at the old folks home, fell in love and were married in our parlor?  Their love story appears in Martha Stewart's Wedding Magazine, Winter 2006, Page 420. Their portraits are included.


                                  Eva and Milt

What Keeps YOU up nights?

With your comments, you tell me that a lot of you are up nights, as I am, at your computer, writing, reading.  And I am too.  And for me, add drawing.

I love the Paint program that comes with Windows.  I can spend hours doodling, making designs, cartooning, and even a bit of serious art work.

Here is my latest: a tryptch.  It is a three panel design with cartoon characters added.  It started with a simple design, and I added one tiny skier, then another. So, here it is a work in progress. 

Feel free to add to it, or email me any characters you'd like me to add.  It is all in fun.