Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Computer Age

Like many folks thses days, my computer is an integral part of my work day.  Perhaps more-so, as an engineer.  So I was particularly hamstrung recently when my computer died.  For the second time in a month (and the 3rd time in 2010).
I didn't even make it to the blue-screen-of-death.  After many hours of conversation with our "PC Help" department, the bad news:  Send it back to the main office to be rebuilt.  That's 1800 miles and 2 time zones.  Even with onvernight shipping it's a 3 day glitch.  GRRRR!

Fortunately, we have a spare laptop in the office, so I wasn't completely dead in the water.  The good news is that I now have a new computer approved for the 2011 budget, and the old one (with a new hard disk) will become a "new" backup. 

Or as Neil young put it:

Sit Yourself Down

As a follow-up to Monday's post, I decided to add a few more images of empty chairs...  These are all from the archives.  There's more, but I think this is enough.

First off, one of my all-time favs, even 30+ years after the fact.  Taken with my trusty Canon TX, during the summer of '79.  Taken at the Duke Homestead in Durham, NC.  I had been sent there to cover a tobacco-spitting contest for the Duke Chronicle.  Which is the kind of assignment that kept me from considering a career as a photojournalist.  But I actually managed a few nice images after the "action"....  Sadly, the original negative is long gone, and all I have is a 5x7 print. 
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Deserted beach at Indiana Dunes State Park . Taken 4-5 years ago while on a business trip to Burns Harbor, IN.  I swung by this park before hitting the road to drive home after completing my business.  It had rained all the previous night, and up until shortly before I arrived.  I think the "river" is simply run-noff.

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Nothin' fancy, just some benches at Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis.  But I kinda like it.

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Title is from the Stephen Stills song, whiched reached #37 in 1971.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Resistance Is Useless!

I've been reading some of the news reports on enhanced TSA screening proceedures and the propoer image finally popped into my head.  Yep, the Vogon guards from Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.
If you're familiar with the book(s) (or the radio show, the TV show, the infocom game or the movie) you'll know what I mean.  If not, look here.

"Try and understand his problem," insisted Ford. "Here he is poor lad, his entire life's work is stamping around, throwing people off spaceships ..."   "And shouting," added the guard.   "And shouting, sure," said Ford patting the blubbery arm clamped round his neck in friendly condescension, "... and he doesn't even know why he's doing it!"

Now, I'm all for keeping us safe, and preventing terrorist attacks and all, but does anybody really think what they're doing at airports these days accomplishes the stated goal?  Last time I flew (~5 weeks ago), I got to experience the naked body scan and a remarkably thorough groping of my ankles.  Only my ankles, though.  But a really, really careful groping.  Apparently I hadn't pulled my socks up sufficiently.....  The whole experience was disconcerting...  Not quite as maddening as the time a few years ago when a TSA guy tried to steal my laptop*.  But disconcerting.  my circle of drive vs fly continues to expand.

OK, that's enough rant, back to the pleasant fluff I normally post...

* Full disclosure:  I cannot prove that the TSA agent was actually trying to steal my laptop.  But he did remove it from the gray bin, and conceal it until challenged.  And there is no acceptable explanation for his actions.


We had a rather dramatic flock of starlings outside our office window today.  We were all distracted for a bit as they settled in, then scrambled, then settled in... etc.  I finally grabbed the office camera and snapped a few images. A few minutes later and they're all gone......  without (much of) a trace.
shrunk to fit on screen
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100% croped to fit

Make's ya think of that Hitchcock movie....

Or the Beatles song:

Monday, November 22, 2010

We Can’t Even Think Of A Word That Rhymes!

One of my favorite lyrics, from Alice Cooper’s School’s Out. It works in the song, and doesn’t rhyme. I thought of this today, as I was listening to a song with a painfully forced rhyme. Neil Diamond’s #4 hit from 1971: “I Am… I Said”.

I am, I said, To no one there
And no one heard at all, Not even the chair

Huh? The Chair? Really? Um, the chair didn’t hear? Ah, I’m struggling a bit with this one. Yeah it rhymes, but it also is (at best) stupid. Geeze, it’s not like anybody’s going to confuse Neil Diamond with Bob Dylan, but he did manage to pen a few songs in his career. .

I'm sure there's lots of others, and probably worse.  Any nominees?  Meanwhile, how about a chair photo??

Saturday, November 13, 2010


So, we've had a pretty blah autumn, as far as fall-colors go.  But today, the maple in the back yard was blazing yellow.  I had to snap some shots.  Most of the rest of the yard (and neighborbood) is brown and/or bare. But this tree makes up for it! 

Scouting For Food

Spent a chunk of the morning putting out door tags for the scouts' food drive.  We've done this as long as Matt's been in scouts. (5 years).  This year was a little different, instead on putting out plastic bags, we put out door tags.  I suppose it is more efficient, and eco-friendly...  It was cool and blustery today, but not too bad. Add a layer and all is good!

That's Matt on the left, his friend Dane on the right.
Next weekend we'll retrace our steps and collect the donated food.  Then deliver to the local food pantry.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Taxed Enough Already?

So, I was looking at my phone bill today.  Not the cell phones, the old-fashioned land line.  And I was noticing at just how many adders there are.  Taxes??  Yep, Federal, state and municipal, a whopping 16.4% addition. 

But that's just the start.  How about "Surcharges and Other Fees"?  For example:
  • IL Universal Service Fee - ... to provide support to rural telecommunications carriers operating in high cost areas of the state in order to maintain affordable rates to end users.
  • Federal Universal Service Fee - ...assures the availability of universal service at rates that are just, reasonable and affordable, and to provide for reasonably comparable service and rates between rural and urban areas...  This charge is not a tax.
So we have "...programs funded by manditory contributions", but these fees aren't taxes...  Even though "carriers can and often do pass these costs to their customers".  Not to mention why the state and the federal government are both levying taxes fees for the same "benefit"....
Ah, but it goes on an on:  9 individual taxes, surcharges or fees.  If you add up all of the various fees, surcharges and taxes, it comes up to over 25% addition to the actual services.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Bucks & Does

So, yesterday, during my son's guitar lesson, I decided to pop over to Watershed Nature Center.  I haven't been to WNC is quite a while, but mainly it was because I can olny drool over Mojos' selection of bass gitars so many Saturdays....   I figured I could grab a few quick shots and get back.  Stuff like this:

Or like this:

Wait... there's a deer!!!!

Pretty cool, huh!  Below is another photo, zoomed in....  and cropped closer.  I stood as still as possible for a couple of minutes, waitng to see if it would move, but I lost that staring contest....

So I decided to continue along the path, try and circle to a better angle.  This involved going past a dense thicket.  When I got to the other side, I found the buck:

WAY cool!  I was probably only 30-35 yards away, could've easily hit him between the eyes w/ a football toss.  Not that I'd throw a football at a deer, but that is what popped into my mind.  That buck isn't skinny, or small.  I think it was 8 points?

Anyway, it was pretty cool, even though neither would strink a great pose in the short time I had....

Monday, November 01, 2010

Microstock - Shutterstock

Well, it's been forever since I submitted anything to the microstock sites, but I still get sales all along.  In fact I'm just a few pennies from another payout at ShutterStock.  Folks from the Glen Carbon-Edwardsville area can probably recognize this one.... 
I should start submitting again.