Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday



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Friday, January 25, 2008

Origami, Questions, and a cute little guy...

My Wordless Wednesday entry elicited a couple of questions in the comments section asking what kind of bird it was. Ugly is my first answer, but I didn't figure that would satisfy the curiosity expressed! It is a Shoebill, also known in some circles as a Whalehead. If you want to read a little more about them and see a few more pictures, check out the wikipedia entry here, the ARKive entry here has pictures and video, and a kid friendly entry is located here.

Since this is going to be one of those scattered entries, I thought I would take it as an opportunity to point people towards a blog entry that I came across that shows some amazing origami and features links to even more. Origami just fascinates me. I've bought a couple of books about it over the years, but  I have never really sat down and given it the focus and attention it needs and deserves if you want to do it yourself. The Blog is called Blue Tea, and the actual entry is located here.

Lastly I leave you with this picture. Isn't he a cute little guy?


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Something to Distract John from work....

John Scalzi, our departed blog father, is trying to get some work done and not be distracted by the bad old internets..... we can't have that! This picture is actually from John and features their newest acquisition Zeus (the cat formerly known as TempCat©) as a LOLCat and can be found here without the caption and with permission to do with it as we will.... scary, huh? So, I give you my interpretation of LOLCat Zeus!



Go here and check the comments to see what others are doing to distract John. ;p

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday



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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

JLand Photo Shoot #126

Krissy offers up the following subject for this week's JLand Photo Shoot #126:

Black and White. You may interpret this subject any way you like. 

Krissy suggested that people might want to submit pictures in Black and White, or change a picture they already have into Black and White, but I decided to interpret the subject in my own unique way! Maybe I'll also put up a more traditional Black and White picture later this week, but for now......



I almost used this picture on my last entry for the Weekend Assignment that I made concerning sleep. I'm glad I went with the Rhino for that one now because this made a perfect 'Black and White' entry.

Want to play along? Go out, take a picture, make it Black and White, put it up on your Blog and then pop over to Krissy's and leave your link!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend Assignment #199



Let's see what Karen is offering up for this weekend's deep thoughts:

Weekend Assignment #199: What is your usual sleep schedule on weeknights? Are you an "early to bed, early to rise" sort of person, or do you stay awake far into the night (voluntarily or otherwise), and get up as late as your work schedule permits? Do you give priority to getting adequate sleep? If so, how is that working out for you?
Extra Credit: If you had no work or family scheduling obligations, would your sleeping pattern change substantially?

How's that picture for appropriate? Now for my answer...

Since I've been lucky enough to work at several little part time gigs over the last year and a half,  my sleeping habits can be a little erratic. I seem to be at my most alert from about 11pm to 3am, but I rarely stay up quite that late. I usually set my goal to be in bed by 1am, and usually make it by about 2am... except for those occasional nights when I just can't seem to quiet my mind to sleep. You will find me up either on the computer, or watching a movie till around 4am or 5 on those nights.

Now for the scary part.... Since I take care of horses on a regular basis, this means being at the barn by 8am... even if I did just go to bed at 3am. G gets up for work at 7am, so I'm up anyway. I hear the little calculators in your heads working now. No, I don't survive on 4 to 6 hours of sleep, I have a solution that works for me. I do my morning work with assorted animals from about 8am to 10am, then it is home to check my e-mail and Bloglines account, do the housework/laundry that is needed and try to finish up by 12:30pm. A quick trip across the street to do the Noon check on the horses and I'm done for the morning! Geoff comes in for lunch at 1. After eating, I curl up on the couch and usually catch a quick nap from about 2 till 4pm. If I am feeding the horses the evening meal, I get up at 4pm and trot over there to do that. Geoff gets done around 5pm. So, I do manage to get around 8 hours of sleep most days, just not in a row!

Extra Credit: If you had no work or family scheduling obligations, would your sleeping pattern change substantially?

Oh Yeah! I would sleep when I was tired and wake up when I wasn't. To me that would be the best. I've never really been good at doing the going to bed and sleeping 8 or 9 hours and then staying up the rest of the time. I actually seem to do better on a couple of broken up periods of sleep... eh, go figure, I'm not normal!

Want to play along?? Write up your answer to the Weekend Question, click on the link above and leave your link over at Karen's so we can all see it!

Can I have an Awwwww?!?



How can you look at that picture and not go "Awwwwwwwww"? I was there just a couple of hours after this guy was born and remember when he was still having trouble finding his balance and figuring out how to nurse. He obviously figured it all out! Isn't he a cutey? This picture was taken last July. I need to get down and see him again soon, but it is a little over a 2 hour trip each way now and requires more planning than it used to.

The HP laptop is home and I can't believe how much nicer it is to work with my wonderful 17" screen and all of my settings just the way I like! I edited several pictures today, which I will dole out to you all 1 at a time. Even if I don't have anything to say, at least you'll get a picture! 

I'm look forward to getting back into things like Wordless Wednesday, Monday Photo Shoots, Weekend Assignments... So, in that spirit, I decided to go back and pick up the first Weekend assignment that Karen did after John left us. I'll also be doing the actual assignment for this week later.

Weekend Assignment #197: Now that the WGA strike has had lots of time to affect the prime time television schedules, how is it affecting you as a viewer? What show do you miss most, aside from reruns? Do you miss your weekly appointment with that ill-behaved doctor, or your visits to Wisteria Lane? Does it bother you not to laugh at fresh jokes on your favorite sitcom? Or are you just as happy watching reality shows, or new episodes of shows that have been held back until now? We want to know!
Extra Credit: how are you spending the time instead?


Frankly the WGA strike has had little effect on me. I don't watch a whole lot of network TV other than my guilty pleasure of 1 hour of All My Children each day... and I don't even necessarily watch that on the network either. I am much more likely to catch it on SoapNet at 8pm than I am to watch it in the middle of the afternoon. Other than that, most of my favorite shows are on other channels, and so far haven't shown much effect. Torchwood, Eureka, The Dresden Files and other shows of the type seem to be unaffected so far. Part of the reason I don't watch network TV can also be laid at the door of DirecTV. For some reason we are unable to get local channels thru them other than NBC, and the only channels we can pick up off a regular antenna are ABC, and fuzzily FOX. So even if I wanted to watch something.... I couldn't!

Besides, I have found that for most programs, we like buying the whole season and watching at our own pace. I am currently in the middle of watching Season 2 of Supernatural, Season 1 of Criminal Minds (I have Season 2 waiting in the wings) and Season 2 of How I met Your Mother. If you watch and catch them on sale, the seasons aren't that expensive and you don't have to watch commercials, you watch when you want, not when the show is 'on', and you never miss an episode and wonder what happened last week!

Extra Credit:

Well, so far I haven't spent my time any differently because I haven't been affected at all. I guess when the shows I watch start to be affected I will go and pick up some seasons of other shows I've been meaning to watch. Besides, I only spend a couple of hours a day watching the TV (although it is usually on for noise). Now if the Internet goes on strike.... then I would really have a problem! LOL!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Yes, I am still a Geek...

I know that I have established over the last few years that I tend to lean towards being a geek. Today was a prime example...

I mentioned a couple of entries back that once again the Christmas Jinx had struck my laptop. It seems that during the Dec/Jan time of the year something happens to send my poor laptop off to visit the nice technicians.

Last years visit, although waaaaay to long ended up netting me a brand new laptop. Can't beat that! This year's visit however was not technical, but mechanical. The hinge on my Precious cracked. Since I had gotten this computer just last year in January, I wanted to get it in right away before the 1 year anniversary of purchase so it would still be under manufacturer's warranty. This wasn't vital as I have an extended warranty, but it wouldn't  hurt. The hinge had cracked the last week in December and I backed up all my picture/audio files and took it in on Sunday the 6th. The nice tech looked at it, nodded and said the dreaded, "O.K.... We'll send it off in the morning and it should be back in 2 to 6 weeks". Knowing from experience (3rd year in a row that I've sent off a laptop during the Dec/Jan time frame) that this is a slack time for people sending things in for repair because of the holiday season, I figured I would have it back closer to 2 weeks than 6.

Sniffling, I went home, drug out my old Sony, and proceeded to make it usable for the hopefully short period my Precious would be away. Since I didn't think I would need it for more than 2 weeks I just updated Windows, got a firewall/antivirus and a couple of spy/adware programs up to date, downloaded the newer version of Firefox and called it useble.

On the Saturday marking the 2 week anniversary of dropping the machine off, I gave a quick call to my local tech guys to see how things were going. They checked the computers and said, "Oh, because it was a hinge and not something swappable like a system component they had to order the piece. Look for it back around the 26th" After hyperventilating, I accepted this. I was surprised. Wouldn't you think that if you sent an HP laptop to an HP service center they would have things like.... Oh, I don't know... HINGES available?? But, I accepted it and settled down to make do with my little... 15 inch screen... 1/2G of Ram... no photo editing software loaded... OLD laptop.

Today, out of the blue the phone rings and it's the local tech, your laptop is here. Joy ensues! I would have rushed out right then to retrieve my Precious, but it is an hour or so round trip to the 'city', and I had to feed horses in an hour. Rats! I would go as soon as chores were finished!

I arrive. I spend the required several minutes looking around just to 'see if they have anything I need since I am there anyway' , then I go to the service desk to retrieve the long gone very missed HP. While talking to the tech as he's finishing up the paperwork, I mention that the only thing missing when I got this laptop last January was that it came with 1G of Ram and I had really wanted 2. I had looked a couple of times at upgrading, but because of the configuration it came with I would have to replace both memory modules.

Side Rant: Why do manufacturers put 2 modules in to add up to 1G instead of putting one 1G module in and leave the second slot to fill later??? I think they have stock in the Ram manufacturers! End of mini rant.

Anyway, since upgrading meant I needed to buy 2 of the 1G modules and then I usually pay to have them installed because... well if anything goes wrong I'm not responsible (See story last year at this time of how having memory installed in the old 3 year old laptop netted me a brand new laptop) this meant a cost of around $250 to $300 according to what kind of memory I chose.

He looks at me and says, "I think we are running a deal right now that I can get you 2G of memory AND have it installed for around $100." No way, I say. What brand of memory I want to know, figuring it would be some cheap or off brand. He answers Kingston, which is a good brand, not some knock-off.

Still not convinced, I casually say, "How long would it take to get it installed?"

"Hmmmm... let me check and make sure I have the right kind for your machine in stock, first..." He wanders off to return bearing 2 packages of RAM. "Yep, got 'em... and" He looks around, "Oh heck, leave it with me and you can pick it up tomorrow."

I couldn't resist. Price was right. Timing was good. I return home with a charge on the debit card and no computer. G looks at me.

"Where is your laptop?" His tone a little worried as I am not happy separated from my precious. And, he remembers last year when I would go to pick up my laptop from repairs to find that it hadn't been repaired and needed to be sent off again on three separate occasions before they finally replaced it. "Everything O.K.?" He questions cautiously.

I explain the way too good to pass up sale, the reason 2G of Ram would help with Photo editing, and the good timing. His eyes glaze over. He asks if it was a good price/good quality  and something I needed/wanted. Upon my Yes reply he just says, "O.K."  And wanders off happily content that I wouldn't be throwing things.

Anyway, with any luck I'll have my baby back tomorrow with all my settings the way I like them and all the programs I like best. I've been missing some good photo memes that I like to participate in, including the 2 new ones based on John Scalzi's Monday Morning Photo Shoot, and of course my favorite Wordless Wednesday that I enjoy.

Yes, I am a geek and it is the Geeky things in life that seem to make me happy. Jewelry, bleh... More Ram? Oh Yeah!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bridge to Terabithia



Bridge to Terabithia was the 'New Movie of the Week' on the Starz movie channel this week. Since I hadn't seen it, and it seemed to be the type of movie that I would like, I tuned in expecting a happy, pleasant movie experience. I mean, this was a movie based on a kid's book with a couple of children with such wonderful imaginations that they create a whole world... it was bound to be a happy, captivating, warm-hearted adventure... Right? Let's see... the tagline for this movie was:

Discover a place that will never leave you, and a friendship that will change you forever.

The official blurb:

From Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media comes Bridge To Terabithia, the exhilarating and heartwarming fantasy-adventure about the power of imagination and the magic of friendship. Tired of being bullied at school and neglected at home, Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke escape into the woods, where Leslie opens Jess's mind to the amazing kingdom of Terabithia. It's a secret land where they reign supreme among the giants, ogres and other fantastical creatures they create. As their imaginations soar and their friendship deepens, they discover how to rule their own kingdom, fight the forces of darkness and change their lives forever.

I was ready to be entertained by a cute little fantasy... little did I know that the story I was about to see was not what I was expecting!

Wow! Now I'm not the type to get all teary-eyed at a movie... but... WOW! G walked in and found me a sniffling, sniveling mess. Tears just running down my face. I hadn't looked at this book in the book store so I had no idea what it was about other than the quick little blurb they gave in the guide about the movie, but I am going to assume (at least hope) that it is a YA meant for the 13 to 18 year old crowd because.. Wow (did I say that already? LOL!). After watching the movie I went online to find a site with the cliff notes, and it would appear that the book is even sadder than the movie. It is now on my to be bought/read list.

If you haven't seen this movie... watch it! Especially if you weren't one of the popular kids at school. This movie will definitely strike a cord.

In case you are interested, here are links to the official movie site, the Internet Movie Database site, and the Sparknotes page. This movie wasn't what I expected, in fact, it wasn't anything like I expected it to be, but if you get a chance to catch it... do so. And if you don't know anything about the movie or book, don't read anything about it before you see the movie... I think it affected me as much as it did because what happened came as a surprise.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Celebration of Kim



Today is the day that they are holding the Memorial Service for Kim. I know that most of us are unable to be there 'in real life', but I am also sure that we are all there in spirit. Kim was such an amazing person and touched so many lives both in the 'real world' and here in cyberspace.

Just in case any of you haven't seen these two things, I thought I would leave links for you here today on Kim's day. Here online obituary is here, and a guest book that you can sign, leave a personal message, and read the messages that others have left is here.

My thoughts are with her family and friends today... and with Kim.

One more link, and I'm finished. Kim's sister has started a journal. She is posting about her sadness, how she is coping, and how the family is doing. Stop by, I'm sure she would appreciate it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Your Substitute Monday Photo Shoot #1: What's New?

It is 2008 and John Scalzi, the blogfather, has moved on leaving a large hole in our little community. One of the memes that John used to do each week was the Monday Photo Shoot. Although I didn't always participate, I still enjoyed checking it out each week, and I was feeling a little sense of loss. Apparently so was Karen over at Outpost Mavarin. She has decided to take up the discarded meme (with John's blessing) and run with it. This is the first week she is hosting it.

So, let's get on with it! This week's Monday Photo Shoot is:

Your Substitute Monday Photo Shoot #1: What's New? In honor of the new year, show us something new. It can be a gift you got over the holidays, something you gave yourself, or even something that symbolizes the New Year to you. If it's new, it'll do!

Since I am currently without my trusty laptop {{{waaaaaahhhhh}}}}, I decided to cheat a little bit and go online and find a photo of my What's New. Yeah, I know it is cheating, but ya do what you can do LOL!

My What's New was a sort of Christmas present. We were shopping in the local B&N Bookstore on the Sunday after Christmas because I wanted to see if the calendars were on sale yet. They were, along with some nice Christmas cards at 50%. I ended up picking up a beautiful box of cards for next year, but no calendar. I decided to check the Mall on our next day off for a calendar, as they have the huge kiosk of calendars every year. I had technically done what I was supposed to do, but come on..... it's a bookstore! So I decided to browse for a little bit.

One of my favorite animal photographers is Robert Vavra. He does wonderful pictures, and I have a few of his books. People often think he only does horses, but I have not only Eqqus, but Eqquus Reined, The Unicorn of Kilomanjora, and.... Vavra's cats! Anyway, on the sales rack I spotted a Vavra book that I had never seen. It was huge. Not only was it thick and heavy, but it was in a large format to further emphasize these beautiful photos. I glanced at the price thinking I might beg for it later. It was only $29.99. My mouth dropped and I quickly pointed it out to G. He said, "Merry Christmas, get it!" I flipped thru the copies and picked out the one with the best dust cover and paid for it. I was happy to leave the bookstore now because I couldn't wait to get out in the car and look at this gorgeous book more closely.



After getting home I took the time to look and see when the book was published because I was surprised that I had never seen it before.... The publication date? Wait for it.... 2007! Hmmmm..... So I went online to Vavra's website and discovered the book being advertised as coming out in November of 2007. Now I was really curious. Quickly googling the book I discovered it for sale on a couple of sites, including Borders and Amazon... for $60. Why this book was on the discounted shelves and for half the price only 2 months after it's publication? I don't know... but I'm glad I grabbed it before anyone discovered the mistake.

The Book is huge and gorgeous. Admittedly there are no new pictures, it is a retrospective of the photos he has taken over the last 60 years, but many of the pictures are from books I haven't purchased, so they are new to me.

There you have it... my first (albeit cheating) entry in the New Monday Photo Shoot. Want to play along? Just snap a picture, post it in your blog, and pop over to Karen's and leave your link. She is extending this week's entries till Sunday night, so you still have plenty of time!

Not Wordless Wednesday

Hmmmph! Because I started this year the same way as I did last year... i.e. without my trusty laptop, I guess there won't be a Wordless Wednesday post this week, and probably not next week either. At least this time the laptop went in for a physical repair. The hinge broke and needed to be sent in for repair. I dropped it off Sunday evening. I had at first planned to use G's laptop to check e-mail, read blogs, etc, but I decided to pull out the Sony that used to be his and see if I could resurrect it and make it useable... at least for the short period of 2 to 4 weeks they said my 'baby' will be gone.

Issues that needed to be addressed to make the 7 year old laptop useable included (but not restricted to):

1. The power cord. The reason that we retired the laptop this summer and got G a used Dell was because of an issue with the power cord. Since this laptop is so old the battery doesn't even try to hold a charge, it must be plugged in to work. Somewhere along the line G did something to the cord (or the spot it plugs into) that causes it to disconnect if it is moved wrong. Basically wear and tear from sitting on his lap. If this happens too many times and the computer shuts down without exiting programs correctly, then eventually you get corrupt files and have to do a clean install and start over. It was when I was doing this for like the 3rd time in as many months that I had decided that G needed a new (used) laptop for his birthday LOL!

I overcame this problem by simply placing the laptop on the table and then I just don't move it! I wasn't sure if this would work, but so far so good

2. Missing stuff. It had a fairly recent reinstall and it had already shut itself down a couple of times while I had been trying to get everything it needed downloaded before the decision to trash it.... I borrowed G's wireless Internet card and set about downloading a free virus program, a free firewall, and a couple of adware/spyware programs. Once these (and the windows updates) were installed, I also popped online and picked up FireFox. I now had a good browser and a fairly safe computer.... which hadn't yet shut itself down. It was now Monday and I was starting to feel a little more confident I could make this work!

3. A Wi-fir card.... I couldn't keep stealing G's wireless card (my laptop has built in wi-fi, so I don't have a card). O.K... I could keep stealing it, but he was going to get grumpy LOL! My solution: When we bought G's Dell the girl gave him the wireless card that she had been using since her new laptop came with it installed. We had never used the card because it was a 'b' card and G's was the faster G protocol, as is our wireless network.

4. Missing Driver. After finally finding and then plugging the card into my laptop, I found that I needed a driver that I didn't have. An hour looking about on the manufacturer website (Microsoft) and not coming up with anything, I finally googled the name and part # and finally found a driver. After installing it and a restart I had Internet access all on my own. Woo Hoo!

So, with just a few hiccups I have revived this poor thing and I'm kind of glad I did. This means that we now have a 'backup' in case either of our computers are out of service AND a laptop we can let someone use if they are visiting instead of having to let them on one of ours. Pretty much a win-win.

5. Final problem/hurdle is that all of my programs for photo editing and keeping track of photos is on my 'normal' laptop.... I contemplated downloading something like Gimp, but decided that it wasn't enough of an issue to bother.... G suggested loading my Photoshop Elements on here and I cracked up. That program gives my brand new, fairly robust machine a run for the money... It would choke this poor thing right down! Bottom line? Expect a couple of 'wordy' posts, maybe with an old picture I already have online, and a return of posts with new pictures in the near future.

Last note: G just mentioned to me that I had been playing with the idea of experimenting with Linux on his machine since he really only uses it to access the Internet and nothing else. He thinks I should turn this machine into the 'experimental' Linux box to see how I like it.... That actually sounds like a pretty good idea, and I think I may actually try that after my laptop returns. Hmmmm.... sometimes there is  silver lining! Besides, worst case scenario is I can't get it up and running and on the network using Linux... I'll just reload WinXP back on here and reset it up like it is now. No harm, no foul!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008!

Happy New Year

May it bring you all you wish for...

Thank you to Donna for the lovely graphic.