Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Wrap Up

It’s now the last day of 2007. What a year it’s been! It’s been filled to overflowing with stress and constantly running myself ragged.

Jolene’s mom has had an inordinate number of “little emergencies” this year – everything from leaky faucets to mice - all of which have sent her into a panic. And all of which result in Rod's phone ringing. I cringe every time the bloody thing goes off. Although there are plenty of other family members, it’s generally us that end up dropping everything and running to south KC to take care of the problem(s). I suppose it’s because we’re closest. We’re about 14 miles away; everyone else is at least twice that distance. I wonder, sometimes, if that is by coincidence, or design.

My dad has had his share of computer issues this year as well. It seems like I’ve had to reformat both of his computers at least twice in the last year, if not more. I may be off on that, though – everything has pretty much merged into one continuous gray blur over the last few months.

Between all this going on, plus the occasional medical emergency, I’ve been kept hopping most of the year playing taxi driver, plumber, mouse hunter, computer technician, boy Friday, and etc. Then, of course, I had my own medical problems with my eye in November. Happily, the eye situation seems to be improving, albeit very slowly. I just hope things will calm down a little bit in 2008.

We did have a nice vacation in October, although it rained through about half of it, and we had to come home a little early when my eye started having problems.

For the New Year, I’ve got quite a few things planned - assuming I'm not running my butt off constantly. I’m looking at putting together another computer, which will be the most powerful one I’ve built yet. It will be used mainly for graphics, and things that need a lot of processing power. This AMD 3ghz machine will be used as a secondary graphics machine, and a recording studio. I’m looking into a preamp from DAK that will allow me to start digitizing my collection of 33-1/3 vinyl LPs (anyone else remember those?). I’ll also want to use it to digitize video, and convert some of my old camcorder stuff to DVD – and maybe even shoot some new stuff! Once the new machine comes on line, I may well retire the old Gateway 700 piece of crap. Or maybe I’ll find another use for it.

I’m also taking a good long look at my website. It’s all paid up for another two and a half years, so I’ll definitely keep updating it. But, I want it to be/do more than what it is now. My original concept was to have a site that would provide an additional income stream or two. I’m not planning to retire on it, but having another source of income is always a good thing. Thus far, it’s been mostly a hobby site with a few examples of my art and photography. Assuming I have a little time to work on it, I’ll be implementing a few new areas soon, changing a few others, and probably retiring a few other sections.

I will remove the Playboy Back Issues section soon. It’s been well over a year since anyone has ordered any of them, so I’ll be finding a better use for the server space. I’ll leave it up until the end of January, so if you want to order any back issues, do it soon. I’ll be removing the darkroom equipment section as well. It seems with the rapid progress of digital photography, no one is interested in traditional darkroom work anymore. I know I’m not. I’ll probably have a big garage sale in the spring; hopefully I can get rid of some of it then – with a small return on my investment. I paid $1000.00 for the big Beseler color enlarger back in 1990 or so. Now, I can’t give the damn thing away – not that I want to. But if I can’t sell it, I may see if a school or charitable organization may be interested in it.

For now, I’ll spend most of the last evening of 2007 archiving some stuff to CD/DVDs, doing a little artwork, listening to some music, and just relaxing. Boring, huh? I probably won’t even blow anything up at midnight. Probably. There’s always that tiny chance, though!

Here’s hoping you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!!
….And me, too…..

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Storm 2007!


We had quite an ice storm last night. Unfortunately, it wasn't severe enough to get a day off work, though! At least we haven't lost power yet. The roads today were mostly just wet, and not slick, so getting around wasn't a big problem.


I managed to get some photos, which I've posted in my monthly update at http://www.rodslair.com/news/12-07.html. We did have a small branch fall from the tree in the front yard last night. It hit the porch, but didn't do much damage other than taking out a small windchime - which I can fix! The rain has tapered off for now, but we'll see what the rest of the week brings.


Later!

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Winter, All Right....

It's that time of year - cold, snow/sleet ("sneet?"), freezing rain, and all that crap-uh, I mean stuff. It's starting to rain as I type this, and of course it will soon turn into freezing rain. I'm hoping it will be bad enough to call off work tomorrow - but not bad enough to break tree branches, and consequently, power lines.

I had another check-up with Dr. Dyer today, and everything looks good. My eye still has a way to go, though. Dr. Dyer said it could take a year to completely heal from a severe retinal detachment; and mine was about as severe as they come.

I've added the December 2007 link to my monthly update menu to the left. If you're not on my website, you can click http://www.rodslair.com/news to see my news page and this blog at the same time. You can also click the title above.

I've been playing with RSS a little over the past few days. I have a feed file on my server, now, so you can click on the little RSS icons, and see what's been updated. You can also subscribe with your RSS news aggregator, and get the updates when they happen - or at least shortly after they happen!

I'm finding I can draw with very little difficulty, and it gets easier all the time. So I'm hoping to get some new art up soon. I'm also starting to get back to work on some of the projects in my shop that have been sitting idle while recovering from this issue with my eye.

For now, I'm going to fire up a little hot chocolate, and watch it rain for a while!

Namárië

Thursday, December 06, 2007

First Snow and Other Stuff


We had our first real snowstorm of the winter today. Bleh! I shot this photo after parking in Perkin's lot at lunchtime. I was hoping to maybe get off a little early today if it continued to snow. And we did - a little early. They closed our branch office a whole half-hour early! Oh, well, a half-hour is a half-hour. At least the traffic wasn't too snarled on the way home.

I did manage to get an RSS feed set up on my website, so those of you with RSS readers or IE 7 will be able to see the updates more quickly. This blog is already set up with RSS, but now the rest of the site is as well.

My eye is continuing to improve (I think), but it's a very slow process. It will probably remain somewhat blurry and distorted for a few months, but it seems to be getting a little less so as time passes. I'm finding I can start doing some of the things I did before, such as drawing, and working with small parts. My depth perception is improving - it isn't nearly as difficult to work with small screws as it was a few weeks ago. I can actually get them into the holes on the first or second attempt instead of poking at them a half-dozen times!

We lost another family member this week. Mary Geiss was my brother-in-law's wife's mom. She was a sweet lady - may she be at peace. I hope it's a good long time before I have to write about another one.

I'll be doing a little work on my website in the next few days. I've added a couple new works to my Sexy Faeries Gallery, and hope to have more soon. I'm also going to get back into my shop. I have several unfinished projects waiting, and a number of new ideas I want to explore. But for now.....

Namárië

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Working on RSS Feed

Hey! It's December already! This year has flown by - tempus fugit, indeed.

My eye is getting better - at least I think it is. Things are fairly blurry at a moderate distance, and there is still some distortion. I think I'll end up being pretty near-sighted in that eye, but that can be corrected with glasses. I can see fairly clearly at about a foot to 18 inches, although with a little distortion - straight lines are a little wavy.

I've been playing around a little bit with getting an RSS feed set up on my website. I've uploaded an XML file with the information and links, but I'm not entirely sure it's working yet. I tried validating it on a couple validation sites. One site didn't like my code, the next site said it was fine, so who knows? At any rate the little RSS icon doesn't light up in my Internet Explorer 7. I don't have a separate RSS reader, so I don't have another source to try. I may have to download a reader just for the heck of it. I'll keep playing with it, just to keep myself out of mischief (like that's really a problem...).

Well, it's getting late, and I'm getting sleepy, so I'll mess with it later!

Namárië

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Vitrectomy Webcast

Not too squeamish? Check out a webcast of a vitrectomy similar to the procedure I had done 3 weeks ago. It's pretty amazing, and you'll see it performed by the excellent doctor that did mine! Just click the title above!

Later!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All’s Well That Ends Well…

…And my 3-week “vacation” is drawing to a close with some good news on the medical front. And, of course, some bad news as well.

First, my dad is doing great, and was discharged from the hospital today. He still has a little of the pneumonia, but they prescribed some antibiotics for him to take. We drove him home early this afternoon, and he’s glad to be home.

On the bad news front, it looks like there will be another family member leaving us soon. My sister-in-law’s (on Jo’s side) mother is losing her battle with leukemia. It won’t be long, most likely. It seems like this is happening far too often lately.

Tomorrow, I start work again. In a lot of ways, it will be good to get back in the mix again. Of course, I’ll miss sleeping late, staying up late, and just goofing off. I really must see if I can find a way to retire or work from home. Soon. Life is precious, and it’s passing by much too quickly anymore.

At any rate, I’ll be slowly getting back to some of my projects that I started before this eye problem cropped up. I’ve done a bit of redecorating on the website, as you may have noticed by now. I hope to post a small synopsis of the month in my November section in the next week. But for now, I’m going to take it easy for the rest of the evening, and get ready to start the early-morning routine again.

Namárië

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Getting Back To “Normal”

Of course, “normal” depends on one’s point of view. For me, normal apparently means unrelenting chaos and stress 24/7.

My eye seems to be slowly improving. The gas bubble that was inserted in my eye as part of the procedure has completely gone away, replaced by the vitreous fluid that normally fills the eye. At least now, I don’t have to sleep sitting up. My vision is still somewhat distorted and blurry at a distance, and things still don’t line up quite right. My doctor said the eye should continue to improve over time – which could mean a few months. At any rate, it has improved enough for me to go back to work Monday.

I’m finding I am able to start drawing again, albeit with a little more difficulty than before this eye episode. I hope to get started with some new art, and to finish up some other projects I started months ago.

Of course, it seems to be impossible to completely get through one medical crisis before getting hammered by the next one.

This morning the phone at awakened us a little after 8:00. I had to jump out of bed, and rush my dad to the hospital. He was having pains in his chest. I got him to the emergency room, and they checked him out pretty thoroughly. It looks like he may have a slight case of pneumonia in one lung. They started him on antibiotics, and are keeping him overnight at least. He was doing pretty good when I called him earlier this evening.

At the rate things are going, I don’t know what kind of shape I’ll be in by Monday morning. Right now, I feel like I’ve been dragged under a train. It seems like I can’t get through more than a few days without another episode involving doctors and/or hospitals.

This is beginning to suck.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Latest Eye Surgery Update

It’s been nearly two weeks since my surgery on my left eye, and today was my latest checkup with Dr. Dyer. My eye is continuing to improve, and Dr. Dyer was very pleased with how well it’s doing in such a short time since the surgery.

I can start driving again, as long as I don’t overdo it, and he wants me to continue to take it easy this week. I’m to take this week off work, but I’ll be able to go back next Monday, the 26th. With the Thanksgiving holiday, there are only a couple workdays left this week, anyway. He wants to make sure my eye continues to heal as well as it has so far. I have another appointment on December 10th, and hopefully, my eye will be even better by then.

I asked about working with my computer, and he said as long as it didn’t cause any eyestrain, it would be OK. I’ll be doing a little work on my website, but updates will probably be a little slow for a while.

This whole thing has been quite the adventure. I’ll tell you, when you’re used to just getting in the car and taking care of business anytime you want or need to then suddenly, that ability is taken away for a couple weeks, it’s hell! I’ve been just about to bounce off the walls not being able to do anything. I hate having to ask to be driven to the bank, drugstore, or wherever. I’m usually the guy who is busy helping everyone else!

At any rate, it will feel good to get back into a normal routine again – whatever “normal” is around here anymore. I’m anxious to get back into my shop and get to work on some of my projects, and yes, I’m even looking forward to going back to work! But for tonight, I’m going to sign off, and vege out watching James Bond movies on cable. Till next time…..

Namárië

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Eye Surgery Update # 2

I'm doing better today. My eye doesn't feel as scratchy, and isn't as sore. Vision is still extremely blurry, but this is normal. As part of the procedure, a gas bubble is inserted in my eye, and it will affect the focusing ability of my eye. As the gas bubble slowly evaporates, better vision will, hopefully, follow. I've placed a link below that goes into detail about retinal detachment, and treatment:

Retinal Detachment

My eye doctor - specifically the retinal specailist who did my surgery said I cannot drive or return to work until he sees me again on the 19th. I can't do a whole lot other than take it easy, and watch a little TV, or DVDs on my laptop. I probably shouldn't be typing this, so I'll keep it short.

Until Next Time......


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Eye Surgery Update

This will be short. The eye surgery went well, but the recovery period is going to be quite lengthy. I cannot drive for at least 2 weeks, and of course will be unable to work. All I can do is watch a little TV or movies on my laptop. I can't evn read - my doctor probably wouldn't want me typing this.

Updates will be infrequent for a while.

Best,

Rod


Monday, October 29, 2007

And The 'Good' News Continues….

Well, I went to the eye doctor today about my left eye. The bad news: It’s not a cataract. The good news: Not much. The doctor said I have a completely detached retina. A tear developed in the retinal wall, and some of the fluid in my eye leaked out and behind the retina, pushing it away from the back of the eye. Think of a camera with the film plane moved out of the focal area. That’s what I’m dealing with, now. The eye doctor sent me over to a retinal specialist, who thoroughly examined both eyes, and explained the options.

If there is any good news in all this, it’s that they think they can fix it to where the eye will be useable again. My vision will probably never be what it once was, but through a surgical procedure, they can drain out some of the fluid, put the retina back where it should be, and laser the tear shut. The operation has a success rate of 90% or better. The Surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday, the 6th of November.

The doctor said I had a spot on my right eye that could lead to the same condition. After the left eye gets fixed, I’ll have a minor laser procedure on the right eye to prevent this from happening to it as well.

As you can imagine, this hit like a ton of bricks. As if we haven’t been through enough with all the cancer and other medical problems in the family, now we have this to deal with.

Updates to the website will probably be somewhat patchy for a while, but I’ll try to keep you up to date.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday Update

I have an appointment for Monday the 29th to see what the problem is with my eye. I’m pretty sure it’s a cataract, but we’ll just have to see. If it is, it will mean cataract surgery. As I understand it, that’s no big deal, but the idea of pointy things in my eye just makes my skin crawl. Ehhhh.

My AMD machine is now back up and running again after it’s third format/reload in the last 6 months. I’m sure getting tired of this. Anyway, I dumped that CA piece of crap, and now have Norton through my Yahoo/ATT DSL service. It works perfectly.

My dad’s upstairs computer is now on my workbench in the shop to be formatted/reloaded again. I’ll probably start on it this weekend, but my main concern right now is getting my eye situation resolved. My dad agrees – he’s not in a hurry to get it back, so I’ll take my time and do it right once I can see again!

Speaking of my dad, he just called. Seems he ran into a guy from the old NPA camera club today. The guy told my dad that he’d been wanting to get in touch with me for months, and could he have my phone number. Wisely, my dad said “Rod’s kind of hard to catch, so I’ll have him call you…” So now I have this guy’s phone number, and that old familiar feeling in my gut. If one of these people wanted to get in touch with me just to say “Hi, How ya doin’ let’s catch up on old times and stuff..” it would be wonderful. But usually it’s something more along the line of: “Hi, Rod, how ya doin’? Hey I’ve had a lot of computer problems / I need a new logo for a business I’m starting / My second cousin thrice removed is getting married and can’t afford a wedding photographer…..” In other words, I need your services, and I don’t want to pay anything. I’m sorry, but I just have way too much on my plate at the moment to deal with that nonsense.

I could be wrong, of course, and frankly it would be a wonderful change if it was just that he wanted to say hello. I guess we’ll see.

Update - 9:35PM

I am delighted! And I feel a liitle bad for my rant a couple paragraphs ago. What a wonderful change! I called the fellow mentioned above, and it was - refreshingly - just to say hello and talk about old times. His dad was a good freind of mine, and for years, we both ran the camera club together. It was good to hear from him, and we're going to keep in touch. I'm just undone. And happy!

Namárië

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Vacation Over – And Not Ending Too Well

It’s Sunday, and my vacation is winding to a close. It’s not ending very well. My left eye is pretty much blind at the moment. I’m having a little difficulty typing this, so it’ll be short. I’ll be calling Monday to try and get an appointment to see what’s up with my eye.

In addition, my main computer is pretty well useless, as well (I’m using the old Gateway 700 to post this). I thought it had a virus or spyware, so I bought a copy of CA’s Internet Security Suite 2007 and installed it. It seems CA is worse than any virus. Now, it takes the computer an hour to do even the simplest tasks such as opening up My Documents, or any folder. I get all kinds of undecipherable error messages, and blue screens of death. And it doesn’t seem capable of eliminating any viruses or spyware it finds. And the CA website is even more useless – unless, of course, you want to spend an additional 20 bucks to speak with one of their "representatives" on the phone. Pathetic.

Looks like I’ll have to reformat-reload the damn thing for the fourth time in the last 6 months. It’s almost to the point where I don’t even want a computer anymore. I’m sick and tired of having to constantly fight with the stupid things. It wasn’t 6 months ago that I reloaded both of my dad’s computers. Now, both of them are screwed up again.

At any rate, it may be a while before there are any updates on my website or blog. I’m hoping this situation with my eye can be resolved. Everything I do is visual, from my job to my website, photography, art, to the stuff I make in my shop. The cruelest thing God (if He even exists) could do to me would be to take away my sight.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to post something more cheerful soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vacation Wrap-Up

Well, I turned 59 today. I’m beginning to feel all of those years.

We got home Friday afternoon, after a nice, sunny trip home from Eureka Springs. It was a great vacation, and I’m already wishing it was last Saturday. You look forward to these things for months, then they’re here and gone before you know it. We’ve already decided to set up a special saving fund for vacations. Three or four years between them is just too long.

The posts and updates may be a little patchy for a while. I’m starting to have some problems with my vision; especially my left eye. I started noticing it a couple weeks ago, but it seemed to be pretty stable. But, over the last 3 days, my left eye has rapidly gotten worse. So I’m going to have to go see what’s going on. I suspect cataracts, but I’ll have to see what the optometrist says. I’m going to try to get an appointment this week.

And of course, my dad is having computer problems out the ying-yang again, so I’ve got that situation to fight again.

I feel like I’ve never even had a vacation.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vacation - Thursday

Well, today we got a nice break in the weather! It was a beautiful clear cool day, perfect for getting out and about. Last night we had a heck of a storm roll through - it knocked the power out for a couple hours. But this morning was magnificent.

We started out at a place that used to be called "Eureka Gardens." Now, it's called Blue Spring Heritage Center. The lady there told me that it was more focused on history of the area rather than on the garden aspect. In my opinion, that was a big mistake. History is fine, and I'm all for it, but they had something extremely beautiful, and now, it's really pretty sad. I was very dissappointed in it. Unless they return to caring for the gardens at least a little, we probably won't. I did manage to get a few decent photos anyway.

After a bit of a rest break, we headed over to War Eagle, and went on a tour of the cavern there. As usual, my timing was impeccable, and we arrived just after the tour left. the tours last about an hour, so we decided to go ahead and wait. At the gift shop they have bags of tailing dirt that you can buy for $7.95 each, and take them outside to a little sluice they have set up there. You sluice the dirt, and get gemstones. She felt so bad that we had to wait, she gave me a bag to play with at the sluice. we got some pretty nice stones - no diamonds or Rings of Power, but some nice little colorful bits. Couldn't complain about the price! Afterwards, we took the last tour of the day in the cavern, and I got a few decent photos. We even saw a few hibernating bats - and yes, I got photos of them. Cute little bats. Awwww.........

By the time the cave tour ended, we were both pretty beat, and hungry, so we stopped at La Familia Tex-Mex Restaurant, and filled up on enchiladas. Yum!

Tomorrow begins the trip back home (long sigh), and back to the status quo. It's been a nice break from all the insanity of the last few years. But we've both decided it will NOT be another 3 or 4 years until our next real vacation. Time is much too precious not to live fully while we are able!

I've posted a few more photos on the Vacation 2007 Album. Sadly, that's probaby going to be all of them for this vacation. I'll leave this album up until at least the end of the year, and there may be a few more posted after we get home. For now, this will be my final post until we're back home tomorrow night.

Namárië

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Vacation - Wednesday Update

We had a pretty nice day here in Eureka Springs, today. Mostly we did a lot of "antiqueing" and checking out some of the kitch-y tourist attractions. The weather has been so damn uncooperative that we haven't really had much of a problem filling up flash cards with our cameras the last day or so. We did manage a few photos during the few rare breaks in the clouds today. I've uploaded a few photos to the Vacation 2007 Album, so be sure to check them out!

We stopped and checked out the world's largest tuned windchime - the thing is huge, and weighs in at around 800 pounds! I had a nice chat with the chap that built it. He has a shop where he sell windchimes and lots of other goodies. I was admiring his handiwork, and we got to talking about making various types of chimes.

We also stopped at Lake Leatherwood, and managed a few nice shots - some actually have blue sky in them! We dropped by a place that sells colorful slag glass by the pound, and I picked up a few pounds' worth for a project I have in mind. We finished the day at Mertie May's Restaurant for some country fried steak, and fried catfish.

the lady at our motel said the weather for tomorrow was supposed to be nice and sunny - that would be a refreshing break! We hope to see Eureka Gardens, and hopefully one of the many caves in the area. Then, we'll head home on Friday.

Until next time...

Namárië

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vacation - Tuesday

We're now in Eureka Springs - we got here about an hour ago, and unlike yesterday, the weather couldn't be more perfect! It's an absolutely gorgeous day.

We're staying at the Bavarian Inn - a MUCH nicer place than we had in Hot Springs! I paid a little more for the room, but as they say (whoever 'they' are), one gets what one pays for. The only problem is that the wireless signals are patchy at best. I'm out on the balcony as I type this; it's the only place I can get a halfway decent signal.

With this in mind, the updates may not be as frequent. I'll try to update at least each evening (we'll be heading back Friday). Probably the first place to check will be the Vacation 2007 Album for the latest photos. Then check here for any updates.

For now we're going to enjoy the peace and quiet, and walk over to the restaurant in a little while and partake of some culinary delights!

Later!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vacation - Monday

Well, I really thought today was going to suck when we got up. It started raining in the wee hours of the morning, and continued steadily through most of the day. It didn't stop until just after sunset. Figures.

We got out anyhow, and explored the Hot Springs National Park on the "East Mountain" side. We went up in the observation tower, and both of us got some pretty spectacular photos in spite of the rotten weather. We came back to the room for a while, then got out for a nice supper - found a great place to eat called the Dixie Cafe. We also took a short tour of the downtown area after dark, and got some nice night photos.

You can check the Vacation 2007 album, and also the October link for some photos.

Tomorrow, we'll head out again, probably for Eureka Springs. Hopefully the weather will be a little more cooperative.

I'll check in again tomorrow, in the meantime, check the above albums for the latest photos.

Later!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On The Road Again....

Well, we're in Hot Springs tonight, after a 7 hour drive from Independence. I used the travel itinerary from Google, and it was pretty darn accurate. It said 418 miles, and 7 hours' travel time. I really didn't think it would take that long, but it did. We only stopped once for gas and restrooms, and I only got lost once, so we didn't do too bad.

I've uploaded a few photos from the road on my Vacation 2007 Album. There's nothing spectacular, yet. There was a nice sunset this evening, but unfortunately, it was behind us, and we were driving through a heavily forested area, so there was not a good place to stop with any kind of view. You can see the photos at:

http://picasaweb.google.com/rodshell/Vacation2007

Or just click the links as noted in my previous post.
For now, I'm going to sign off, relax, and I'll have more photos for you tomorrow evening.

Later!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

You Can Tell it's a Rod Shelley Vacation....

video

It's the first day of my vacation, and it's been pouring steadily since about 4:00 AM when I was awakened by a loud thunderclap. This is a short video clip from my backyard security cam.

Well, I don't care - we're still heading out tomorrow, rain or shine! For now, I'm going to put on a pot of coffee, relax, and get some things ready for the trip.

Update: 11:00 PM:

I've got everything set up so my visitors can follow our journey. First, if you are not on my website viewing this, you can get to Rodslair.com by clicking the link to your right, just below the Stealth Fighter photo. It will open in a new window, then you can click on the Latest News & Miscellany link. My blog will open in its own frame. You'll see links on your left for the Vacation 2007 Album, as well as the monthly sections. You can also click the Picasa Web Album there, or again, below the Stealth Fighter.

I've got my security cameras tricked up to upload to my web server periodically (sorry, only I have access to this area), and my neighbors will watch the house while we're gone - I've also stopped the mail. I'll still be able to get my e-mail, so if you want to send a message, just click the Contact Me link to the right (yes, below the Stealth Fighter).

We're looking forward to a great trip! I'm sure it will be over way too soon!

Namárië

Friday, October 12, 2007

Vacation Is Here!!

It’s Friday, and vacation time is here at last! We’ll spend Saturday relaxing at home, and getting things ready, then we’ll head out on Sunday.

I’ll be updating my Blog in the latest news section each evening, so be sure to drop by often. I’ve also set up a special album in my Picasa Photo Album that I’ll upload photos to each evening. You'll find a link to it in my links area in the sidebar at right. Also be sure to check the October link on your left (if you're viewing this from my website - otherwise click the Rod's Lair link in the sidebar).

I’m looking forward to a great vacation, and lots of new photos. And maybe a few new additions to my collection of insulators and coffee mugs!

Today started out pretty busy, but things calmed down during the afternoon. I had several calls, but some of the other guys were a little slow, so they grabbed the calls I was backed up on. Thanks Guys! I have to say that I work with a great bunch of guys at KMBS. You guys really believe in teamwork, and it's a pleasure working with all of you. That's one reason I won't dread coming back after next week. I might be a little depressed that my vacation is over, but I won't dread it - much ;-)

But now, I'm going to take a break for a week, relax, refresh, renew, and maybe reboot the half-dozen or so brain cells I still have left!

For now, my stomach tells me it's suppertime, so like any good hobbit, I must retire to the table!

Namárië

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

All Fixed Up.....

I am sitting here at Sonic, inhaling a cheeseburger, onion rings and a Coke while I attempt to juggle my lunch, my laptop and this infernal Nextel that continuously beeps, chirps, whistles, tweedles, and chortles. I'd be more than tempted to throw the damn thing out the window at 65mph, but - in addition to having to pay my company for a new one - with my luck the stupid thing would hit a cop car or something.

Calls are coming in left and right, and it looks like I'm going to be working all afternoon on a call one of the other guys had some problems with.

In the seat next to me is a service receipt for getting my car fixed up from last evening's escapade. For a new rim, two new tires, labor, taxes, and all the other crap fees, it came to a total of $332.69. Jeeze. And people can't seem to understand why I don't want to fix their buddy's copier on a Saturday for free? I run an errand for a relative, and it ends up costing me over 300 bucks. No one gives me a break, so please, don't ask me to work on your copier, computer, website, or whatever unless you are willing to write a good sized check.

Now that I've got that off my chest (and my car fixed), I'm ready for next week's vacation. And if anyone within my earshot even mentions the word "multitasking" I'm going to beat them senseless with a wet fish!

Later,

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tired - And Bunged Up


Well, today sucked. I should have gone to work yesterday, and called in sick today.
In addition to getting only 3 calls done - all of which were very involved and time-consuming, I managed to bung up my right front tire and rim.


Once again, right after getting home from work, we were running an errand for a relative - something we find ourselves spending more and more time doing of late. After leaving CVS, we were stopped at the light at westbound 39th St. and Noland Rd. As I made a left turn, the sun momentarily blinded me, and I made the turn too wide. I hit the curb pretty hard while trying to make the turn. It pretty well jacked up the rim, and took a few chunks out of the tire as well. Dammit!


I'm sure this will lighten the load in my wallet pretty well. What did I do to deserve this? Try to help someone?


Sigh.....


Well, I guess all I can do is bite the bullet, and get a new rim, and probably front tires, too. The left front tire seems to have a slow leak anyway, so I might as well replace them. Then, maybe, if no other little disasters present themselves, we can get away next week for a few days. No phones, no copiers and NO MULTITASKING for a whole week. Maybe I'll get part of my mind back....


Namárië

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sick day...

Just a short note today...

Didn't really feel very good today, so I called in sick. I don't do that very often; this is only the second time in nearly two years. But I just didn't have it in me to deal with it today.

I'm feeling better tonight, so I anticipate being back at it again, tomorrow.

Next week is vacation!! We'll start out on Sunday, and head for Hot Springs. I've already got our room reserved. We'll spend Sunday travelling, and get a good nights' sleep so we can explore on Monday. From there, who knows? I'll be posting our adventures and some photos from the road. It's going to feel sooo good to get away from all the chaos for a while. I just hope I don't start getting depressed about Thursday, knowing we'll soon be coming back to it. But a few relaxing days away will, I hope, refresh us enough to make it through the winter.

Later!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Happy October..

Well, it's October already! It seems like not that long ago that we were welcoming 2007; now it's rapidly drawing to a close.

It's just two short weeks until vacation time! And I'm sure it will go by like a shot - but for now, it's something to look forward to.

Well, the search for a new stereo is over! I found a nice Sony receiver at Circuit City today. It has all the inputs and outputs I need to record my music, and even start converting some of my LPs to CD. The only issue is that there is no "phono" input on this receiver. I can connect my turntable to the CD or VCR inputs, and it works after a fashion, but I have to turn the volume all the way up - and that still isn't quite enough. I just ordered a preamp from Radio Shack that should take care of that problem, though. It connects between the turntable and receiver, and should boost the output to the proper level. And even with having to order a preamp, it's still a lot less than that $550 Yamaha I was looking at.

Now, I'm in the middle of re-arranging the computer room so all the audio equipment is close to the computers. I plan on spending quite a bit of time this winter recording lots of music, and converting my 33-1/3 LPs to CD. As if I didn't have enough irons in the fire....

Namárië

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Last September Entry

Well, my old Pioneer receiver/amplifier finally gave up the ghost last week. I’ve had it for years, and it’s been teetering on the edge for some time, but it finally expired. So now, it’s time to begin a search for a replacement.

I had several other components attached to the Pioneer. I had two cassette decks (and no, I don’t plan on recording to cassettes any longer), a turntable, and I also had the audio output from my main computer connected to it. It had two speaker outputs so I could have music in the computer room and my shop as well. Plus, I had it set up so I could record music on one of my old computers, in order to create my own music mix CDs. I could also record music from my Yahoo “radio station” that is part of my DSL service.

So far, my search for a replacement system capable of doing everything the old one would has been discouraging, to say the least. It appears that all the major manufacturers have discontinued the 2-channel component stereo systems in favor of what’s referred to as “home theatre” systems. I purchased one of these from Walmart yesterday after being assured by the salesperson that it had everything I needed. It didn’t. When I got it home, I discovered it had an overwhelming total of three inputs – my old Pioneer had seven. It had absolutely no “record out” jacks to record to cassette, tape, CD, or whatever. It had 5 speakers that came with the system, but the connections for these was set up for “surround sound” – which is great for your “home theatre,” but not for what I need. I ended up taking it back this morning.

I e-mailed a local audio-video store last night, and they said that Yamaha still makes a really good component system that would do everything I needed and more. (See it here) It looks like a great system, but at $550, it’s a little more than what I was hoping I’d have to pay. Oh, well…

I guess I’ll just have to keep searching for a while, or just save up the money and get the Yamaha. You know, sometimes I have to wonder just how great all this so-called “progress” really is. Home Theatre would be great if you want to set up a room with a big, wide-screen plasma TV ( and yes, I’d love to have a setup like that), but it falls seriously short if all you want is something to listen to music in more than one room, or convert all your old 33-1/3 LPs to digital to put on CDs.

Other than the abortive attempt to revitalize my old stereo system, not much out of the ordinary is happening around here. Tomorrow starts a new month, and with it a badly needed vacation in a few weeks. I’ll have a special photo album set up in my Picasa Albums for vacation photos, and I’ll post a link to it so you can follow our adventures.

Last week, I was tossing some old stuff into a recycle bin, and noticed a catalog in the bin with a beautiful Tiffany style lamp on the cover. Being me, I just had to recover it, and take a look. It was a catalog from Kichler Lighting, and it had some of the most spectacular Tiffany fixtures I’ve ever seen! I must try my hand at creating some Tiffany style items.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’ll have more later.

Elen sila lumenn omentilmo. (A star shall shine on the hour of our meeting)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New T-Shirt Design


I've been doing some experimentation with T-shirt graphics lately. I've posted a photo of my first attempt (copyrighted image, 2007 by Rod Shelley). I should have made this years ago!

Cooling Down…

What a great weekend it was! And way too short, of course.

The temperatures last weekend were wonderful – low 70s at the highest. Mostly they were in the high 60s, which was perfect for working on my patio a little more. I put in the window frames, in preparation for the screens and plexiglass windows. I hope to get the screens and windows finished up soon, then I’ll need to get – or more likely build – a door. I’ll add a porch light over the door, then I’ll need to trim and paint. I hope I can get all this done before the cold weather sets in. I’ve posted a few photos in the September page (in the left frame if you’re on my website – if not, just click the title above).

It’s been pretty busy at work the last few days. I guess that’s good – job security, and the days go faster when you’re busy. Seems like they’re going way too fast anymore.

We’re looking forward to vacation in October – there’s less than a month to plan, and we’re still not entirely sure where we are going. I was looking at some stuff in Hot Springs, Arkansas last night. Looks like it might be interesting; lots of nice scenery to photograph. Then again, maybe we’ll just spin a bottle in the driveway, and head off in whatever direction it’s pointing when it stops. We shall see. It’s just wonderful to be able to actually have the chance to get out of town for a few days.

Namárië

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering Another Tuesday Morning in September

It's an absolutely beautiful morning, clear and cool. Very similar to another Tuesday morning six years ago. I hope we all take a few moments to remember those we lost, and those who are still making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Never forget that there are powers of darkness that will not rest until they have covered the entire world in shadow. They must not prevail. They will not prevail.

Namárië

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another Weekend Streaks By..

It's Monday already, but it was a good weekend. Jo spent Saturday with her mom, and my dad and I had a nice little photo expedition. I've posted some photos in the September section. If you're on my website, you'll see the links to the left. If you're not, just click on the title above.

I was saddened to learn of the passing of one of the truly great vocalists of our time, Luciano Pavarotti. Another magnificent voice stilled by that curse called cancer.

Well, gotta move on. I have yet another call in that horrid mess called "downtown."

Later...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Amazing Butterfly


I was out in the backyard earlier today, when I saw my neighbor ladies trying to photograph something flying around their flowers. At first, I thought it was a hummingbird, but as I watched, I saw that it was a rather large, black butterfly. I got to talking with them, and they invited me to come over and get some photos.


I grabbed my 100-300mm lens, and joined them in their garden. The butterfly was huge - I estimate at least 5 inches wingtip to wingtip. And he/she/it seemed oblivious to us and our cameras. I got several decent shots, one of which I've placed here. I'll add a few more photos in a day or so.


My dad just bought a new Kodak digital camera; got a pretty good deal on it at Walmart. He and I are going on a little photo safari on Saturday, so I hope to have some new photos to add to the site.


Namárië

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Peaceful (Gasp) Weekend.....

.....Draws to a close. It's unbelieveable how fast 3 days can go by.

Tomorrow it's into the breech, once again, but it has been a refreshingly peaceful 3 days. I almost feel guilty for actually having 3 days to relax, and do some of the things I've been unable to for some time. I'm hoping my insane schedule is in a calm-down stage for a while. A long while.

I am bracing myself for the insanity that is sure to erupt as soon as the clock hits 8:00 AM tomorrow. It will be a short week, but I imagine it will be a busy one. I could be wrong - it's happened once or twice before, but we'll see.

My vacation in October has been approved, so I'm getting pretty excited about that. I think we'll actually get a chance to get away, and have a real vacation this year! Woo-hoo! I may be participating in a 5K run/walk later this month to benefit endangered species' habitats. We'll see how things work out the next few weeks.

I've got a few more things to change on the website over the next few days. I've added a function that changes the home page every month, so it will be at least somewhat fresh each month!

Hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend!

Namárië

Friday, August 31, 2007

Peace & Quiet, PLEASE....

Well, I just got home from my 10th session with my dad's computers this month. I think (hope) we made some progress. And I think (hope) maybe I'll be able to make it through the 3-day weekend with a little peace and quiet. I think I've earned it.

Of course, I no sooner got home than it was time for telephone tech support with Jo's mom. Little Josh, her great-grandson is spending the night with her (which she is delighted about). Josh is 4, and a neat little guy. Josh also brought his DVD of Ice Age to watch with great grandma. Grandma has a DVD player, but hasn't a clue how to use it. I think you probably have a picture of the situation I encountered as I walked in the door.

After 20 minutes of having her describe 2 remotes as I drew pictures of them on a scrap of paper, I was finally able to walk her through getting everything working. By now, Josh & grandma are, hopfully, enjoying the adventures of Manny, Sid, and Diego. And hopefully Rod can get through the night in peace.

Namárië

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My One Night Off

Time for a quick post from what will be my only "night off" this week.

I had planned on having a bit of a break from my increasingly crushing schedule on Thursday and Friday nights, but it looks like Thursday will be my only night off. Friday I'll spend yet another evening with my dad's computer issues. It never ends. I am exhausted, discouraged, and about ready to just give up on having a life of my own. Between a very busy last several weeks at work, and constant demands for my time in the evenings, I'm about ready to collapse. Last night while wandering through the grocery store with Jo's mom, I nearly passed out just from exhaustion - my legs started feeling like rubber. And yet, if I don't just drop everything I'm doing and run to southtown or my dad's every time something comes up, I feel like I'm letting someone down. This is really beginning to suck.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know I am taking the Labor Day weekend off. If I don't I'm going to end up on my back in the hospital. Or worse.

Sorry for all the whining - I'm just very discouraged at the moment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Long Night

Just a quick update.

It was another loooooong night with my dad's computers tonight. I finished up installing all the stuff on his XP computer that I reloaded a week or so ago. Of course, it wanted to install about three million updates, and reboot after each one, so that took forever. Then getting his Epson CX6400 all-in-one to install was another battle. Finally got that installed, then it was his new version of Family Tree Maker He's heavily involved in geaneology research, and has amassed an amazing amount of information. Found out tonight that one of our direct decendents was Admiral George Dewey of "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley" fame.

Anyway, it took almost another hour to install FTM, then of course, it wanted to download and install updates. Finally got that all finished, and got home just in time to complete all my work stuff, then off to bed.

For tomorrow, I'm already fully booked with service calls, then when I get home, it's off to southtown to take Jo's mom to the grocery store.

I wouldn't know how to act if I had more than a few minutes to myself. Oh well......

"You may fire when you are ready, Gridley."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It Just Never Ends....

It's a little after 12 noon, and I'm sitting in Perkins in Liberty, Mo. I am preparing to inhale a quick lunch before heading out to my next call. It has been unusually busy today. I had two calls come in right at 5:00 yesterday, and another couple came in right at 8:00 this morning. By 8:05 I was already fully booked for the day. And, of course every customer seems to think they are my only customer.

Fortunately, a couple of them were quick & easy calls, for instance my second call of the day. It was called in as 'no power, machine completely down. Please come between 9:00 - 11:00.' I arrived a little after 9:00, and left about 5 minutes later. Strange, but I have found over all the years I've been doing field service that most modern office equipment seems to work a lot better when the main power switch is set to the 'on' position. Amazing how that works.

Tonight's schedule: First, we'll head out to southtown to take Jo's mom to Walmart to get some furnace filters. Then I'll install the filters. These don't just drop in like most filters. The design of this furnace/AC unit requires you to posses skills as a contortionist, or have rubber arms like that guy in Fantastic Four. Once we finally get home, I'll install a DVD/CD burner in my dad's computer that I just resurrected from its latest hissy-fit.

Tomorrow night, after a hurried supper, I'll be taking the computer back over to my dad's to get it all hooked up and configured with his DSL and home network, and install the remaining software he needs. If past experience is anything to go by, that should take at least a couple hours. Hopefully, I'll have enough time when I get home to check my e-mail, take a dump, and go to bed.

Looks like the soonest I can hope to have some time for myself might possibly be Friday. I'm hoping for a quiet weekend, but that's still a few days away - too far to plan for with the way things are going.

If anyone finds a few extra minutes running around without a home to call their own, please send them my way, willya?

Later.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Quiet Sunday (So Far…)


We had a nice breakfast at Bob Evans today, and it was actually semi-cool enough to do a little work in the backyard for a while. I cut up some branches that fell a couple weeks ago during a blustery night. This house is surrounded by trees, which I love, but it does result in always having a lot of “lumber” in the yard to clean up.

Once it started to warm up, I went back into the air conditioning, and cleaned up my workbench so I could start work on my dad’s ailing computer. I pulled the hard drive, and ran a virus scan and checked it for errors. The drive seems to be ok, I think Windows just got a corncob up its backside. It happens, even with XP. I wonder how Vista is…



Anyway, I’ll start recovering all his photos, Family Tree Maker files, and so on, then format and reload it. Thankfully, he was able to find his recovery CDs.

I’ve converted pretty much all the image galleries to the new Lightbox viewer. I hope you enjoy it. It will sure make adding images, and doing updates to the site a whole lot easier and less time consuming. And with all the demands on my time lately, that’s a biggie!

Hopefully, I’ll make it through the rest of the evening with no “little emergencies.”

Namárië

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yet Another Relaxing Saturday

It’s good to get a day off to relax. One day I might.

Most of the morning and early afternoon was spent out in Olathe at a family function – our youngest great-nephew’s birthday party. It was fun, but of course there were plenty of excited squeals from the little ones. My head, my poor head.

We got home around 2:30 or so, and I decided to reorganize my parts stock for work, and update my inventory. So much fun. I was barely an hour into that when my nemesis – the phone – went off (they don’t ring so much anymore as ‘go off’). Yep. More computer problems at my dad’s. I finished up my inventory around 7:45, and headed over to my dad’s. After fighting with his E-Machine for over an hour, I decided to bring the damn thing home with me and see how much of his data I could rescue, then do a format / reload on it.

It’s now about 9:00 as I type this. Maybe I’ll have a couple hours to work on my website or whatever. God knows what exciting surprises Sunday has in store.

I would pay real money for a quiet weekend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Still Hot and Busy.....

Well, time to type a few quick lines, now that I have my ration of an hour or two to actually work on MY stuff.

We had our bi-monthly service meeting at work this morning. I have to get up a half-hour early in order to make the 40-mile drive to Lenexa and make it on time. After the meeting, I had to run back to North KC (another 35 miles) to a high-priority customer. After that, it was back to Lenexa (another 35 miles) for the Powerhouse Lunch with Sales that I thought was yesterday. At least they picked up the lunch tab. Then it was back to downtown Kansas City ( I hate pretty much every aspect of taking calls downtown), for another high-priority customer. It took a couple hours, but I got the machine running again, and the customer is happy. Yay. With all the extra-curricular activity today, I managed to get a whole two calls done today! Yay again.

After getting home, we had a few errands to run, then supper. After supper, I had about a half hour to work on my website before the phone rang. More computer problems at my dad's. Finally got back home a little after 9:00. I'll doink around with my computer, maybe get on-line for a few minutes, post this update, then head for bed so I can start all over again tomorrow. Maybe I'll have a few minutes to do something with my website tomorrow evening. Saturday is pretty well a write-off, as I'm booked with family stuff out in Olathe, then running more errands for Jo's mom.

This is pretty much typical of what passes as my life lately.

And people wonder why I don't want to spend the few spare moments I have to go look at their buddy's copier on Saturday??

The day wasn't without its share of high points, though. For instance, this afternoon when I got out of the van in the parking garage downtown, I noticed that there was a naked girl standing on the median in the middle of the street. I grabbed my camera (although she didn't look like she intended to leave anytime soon), and grabbed a shot. You can see it HERE.

Awwww, c'mon. Where's your sense of humor?

Later

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday Update

It's mid-summer in the Midwest. That means it's HOT!!! It was 100 on Tuesday, 102 today, and it will be pretty much the same tomorrow. Man, I'm glad I'm not driving that Kia with no A/C like last summer!

Yesterday was Jolene's birthday so she celebrated with a visit to her mom's, and a new range for our kitchen. My dad took us out to V's Italian Restaurant tonight, which was great. I'm still full, and probably will be until sometime next week.

I am, once again, making some changes on the website. I'm going to implement a new viewer feature called Lightbox on all the gallery pages. I like it a lot for several reasons. First, instead of each image having its own separate page, the images will simply open in the viewer. The viewer simply pulls the image and opens it in a "layer" on top of the gallery page. This means you don't have to go back to the gallery page, or scroll to the thumbnail you clicked on last. You can either close the image, and click the next thumbnail, or simply click a "next" tab that is activated on the image by mouse movement. It will make the galleries a lot easier for me to update, since I don't have to create a new page for each image. I've already implemented it on the Blue Ridge Mall gallery as a test, and you can get a preview of it there. I'll be implementing it on all the galleries soon.

I've got a couple other neat features I'll be adding to the website soon. Stay tuned!

Namárië

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tonight's Forcast: Calm!

Things have calmed down a bit since my last entry, and I’ve actually had (gasp) some time to relax a bit and catch my breath! Jo’s mom is doing fine, and my dad’s computers are behaving themselves for now. I took that funky anti-spam software back to Microcenter, and they didn’t give me any static at all; they were happy to refund my money. They have earned my continued patronage!

I stumbled onto a website the other day that I found quite refreshing. I posted a link to one article already – the article about it not paying to be the “computer guy.” I’ve read some of the other things this young man has written, and I have to say I’m quite impressed. I highly recommend taking a look at Life Reboot.

In addition to lots of other interesting articles, he has some good tips on writing for one’s blog. One of his tips addressed something lots of bloggers – including myself – are guilty of: drawing attention to the infrequency of posts. I shan’t do this again! If it’s two weeks until I post again, so be it.

Well, they rearranged our territories at work again. The tech that worked the downtown area has been moved into another area, and a couple new techs have been assigned areas. My territory is pretty much the same, but there have been a couple changes. I won’t have St. Joseph (about 50 miles north of Kansas City), but I’ll be servicing Liberty and Excelsior Springs. I’ll also have a couple zip codes in the downtown area. I’m not real happy about the downtown part, but the lion’s share of downtown will go to Nate, one of our newer techs, and a hellova good guy. Nate likes downtown almost as much as I do. And I’d sooner have a root canal than take calls in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

For those not from the Midwest, let me tell you a little bit about downtown Kansas City. Like any large city, it’s full of one-way streets, overpriced parking lots and meters, tons of traffic – both vehicular and pedestrian - slow, lumbering buses, drunks panhandling for money (and getting an attitude when you don’t hand out), and…..

Construction. Massive construction. And the configuration of the already confusing traffic patterns changes on an almost hourly basis. In addition to all this, the numbers on most buildings downtown is either all of two inches tall, painted the same color as the building its on, or embossed into the edifice of the building. Trying to read addresses while dodging the aforementioned traffic and hordes of pedestrians all paying more attention to their cell phones than where they're walking will drive you absolutely mad!

I can’t even imagine doing field service in a city like New York, Chicago, or L.A. Oh, well, at least my company pays me back for expenses incurred during the day, such as parking.

It’s been hotter than hell the last week, and it doesn’t look like much relief is in the near future. It will be a good weekend to stay inside where the air conditioning lives. I’ve got a couple projects I want to start in my shop, and several I need to finish. And soon enough it will be fall once again, and cooler temperatures will prevail. We’re planning an actual vacation in October, although I’m not sure quite yet where we’ll end up going. We may just end up spinning a bottle in the driveway, and head off whichever direction it’s pointing when it stops!

For now, it’s about time to shut down, and head for bed.

Good night…

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Another "Relaxing" Evening...

Well, another “relaxing” night passes.

After arriving home from work, I ate a hurried supper, then it was back over to my dad’s to deal with his continuing computer problems. He’s getting a lot of SPAM, so I wanted to install a SPAM-blocker. He doesn’t need a package with the anti-virus, anti-spyware, pop-up blocker, etc, etc, for 50 bucks. He already has the virus, spyware and pop-up stuff from his DSL provider. CA used to put out a good spam blocker, but now it’s not available as a stand-alone application, only as part of a full package as mentioned above. I stopped by Microcenter last week, and spoke to one of the sales “professionals” about my needs. I got the impression that I’d left her in the dust after the first sentence. She finally came up with a box labeled “Defender Pro” for 13 bucks. It has all the aforementioned stuff, but the spam blocker could be installed separately. OK, I’ll try it.

Tonight, I tried to install it on my dad’s computer. It installed ok, then the fight began. First it wanted a registration key. Fine, it’s on the back of the CD jewel case. I typed it in, and got an error message: “This key has expired. Click HERE to get an updated key.” I clicked the link, and was directed to a webpage where I was informed that an updated key would cost an additional $13.99. My dad gave me his Discover card, and said go ahead. After the purchase, the new key was granted, and also sent via e-mail. I typed in the new key – the one we’d just spent an additional 14 bucks on. The same error message appeared. We’re now almost 30 bucks into this stupid thing, and it still wants more.

People, I haven’t got time for this nonsense.

What does this product look like? Glad you asked. Click HERE for a picture of this worthless piece of crap. Don’t buy it. It sucks.

I sent an e-mail to the company and told them the key they sent was worthless, to cancel the order, and credit the 13.99 back to my dad’s account.

By this time it was after 8:00, and I headed back home. I have a couple hours to relax before bed – I thought. Silly little me.

A half hour after getting home, the phone rang. I always cringe when the phone rings these days. It was Jo’s mom. She was having problems. She couldn’t stand or walk after getting out of bed. Time for another run to southtown. Oddly enough, by the time we drove 15 miles across town to her house, she was up on her feet, and doing allright. Amazing.

So now, Jo is staying in at her mom’s for the night.

This is beginning to suck.

Like I said in an earlier post – I don’t get a chance to do much photography anymore (or anything else besides work and handling incessant crises).

Sorry for the tone of this rant – I’m just a bit frustrated at the moment.

I Rest My Case.....

Again, I've been kept extremely busy the last couple of weeks, so I haven't posted much in the last few days. I'm posting a short entry now, as I'm about to head over to my Dad's to help him with his computers.

I was noodling around the internet, and found this article: "10 Reasons It Doesn't Pay To Be The Computer Guy."

I rest my case. Reading this article brings back a lot of memories - mostly bad ones.

I'll post more later.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More Progress....


I woke up in an industrious mood today, and decided to go get some plywood and do a little more work on the back patio.

It was miserably humid today, but I managed to get the plywood cut and installed for the lower (enclosed) part of the patio. Now all I need to do is get the upper part screened in, and build a door. Some months ago, I bought a neat light fixture at Lowe's for 5 bucks from a clearance table. I'll install it over the door - or where there will eventually be a door! As usual, I took a few photos of my latest progress. Click the title link above, or just click July 2007 to the left (if you are on my website).

I've been very busy at work the last few days, for some reason. It's odd. Sometimes you'll go for several days with hardly any calls at all. All the techs will be beeping each other on the Nextel, "Hey, Rod, got any calls I can take for you?" Then all of a sudden, things will just explode, and everyone will be beeping each other asking for help. I've tried for years to figure out what influences these ups and downs, but I haven't come up with any answers as yet. Maybe I should pay more attention to the phase of the moon. Perhaps all the craziness happens under a full moon. The police and paramedics seem so agree things get a little nuttier under a full moon.

I almost forgot to mention - the Mail Owl paid us a visit Friday with a nice little package from Border's. Hmmm. What could it possibly be? Looks like a book - one people are camping out overnight for. Yep. It's Harry! Yeah, that Harry! We are now the proud owners of a first edition of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. We just have to restrain our muggle selves from reading any of it until we get the rest of the books.

Well, I'm going to take it easy the rest of the evening, and maybe create some art. Or something.

Later!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back in Business

Well, I've got everything pretty well back in shape again. I guess that's not too bad - from complete disaster to bck in business in two days. I've got a couple things still to install (my FTP client is one I just remembered), but otherwise all is well at the Rod's Lair Computer Room again. You can rest assured I'll never try that experiment again (see yesterday's post for what I tried).

I did leave a couple of posts on the Microsoft TechNet user's forum. I got a few replies on one of them, but very little useful information. Mainly I got questions like :"Why screw with it if it's working?" and "were the drives jumpered properly?" Both questions were answered in the original post if they would have actually read it... Oh, well....

I think what I'm going to do is get one of those EZ-Swap cartridges for the D drive in the old GW700 with Win98. I can swap out drives in that machine (with it off, I know, I know), and not have a problem.

I connected the 250Gig USB drive today (to the XP machine, that is), and it works great! I have everything on the D drive, everything from a second USB external drive, and all the useful leftovers from the previous load on the C drive backed up on it, and it's not even a quarter full. This will be great for backing up stuff like our digital photos.

One thing that pretty much saved my life this time was the "Recovery Kit" I put together after the last crash in May. Having all the documentation, driver CDs, and application CDs in one place made it a lot smoother and faster. That's why it took only 2 days instead of a week!

Now, I can pick up where I left off!

Later!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Computers Suck.... Sometimes

It’s been an "interesting" few days. Note that I am attempting to be polite.

This is going to be a long post, so consider yourselves warned.

Over the last weekend, I did manage to get the website updated with the new graphics and color scheme. I’ve used a lot of saturated colors in the past; I decided to tone it down a little bit this time. I think it will be a little easier to read, and I hope you like it.

The weekend was – amazingly – fairly peaceful. No little emergencies at all. It was nice. It was also too short.

Then Monday hit, and it is that tale that I’m about to expound on.

I am now in the process of recovering from my second major computer crash in three months. This is getting old….

Monday evening, I had no sooner arrived home when the phone rang. It was my Dad. He’s been having a lot of computer problems lately, so I figured it was one of his computers misbehaving. It turned out that he had bought a new HP C4280 printer/scanner for the upstairs computer, and was having some difficulty installing it. I ate my supper, and headed over to help. "It should take about 30 minutes," I thought. There I go thinking again.

I sat down at his computer, and – following HP’s clear, concise instructions, began the installation process. After 20 minutes or so, the installation progress bar made it to the 6/8 (six out of eight modules) position, and just sat there. And sat. And sat. For another 15 minutes, it hung at the same place. I finally gave the keyboard the three-finger salute (ctrl-alt-delete) and stopped the process. I unplugged the USB cable as instructed by HP, and the "Installation Error Troubleshooter" began its highly effective work. It started Internet Explorer, logged onto HP’s site, and promptly informed us that "There is no solution for this problem at this time…" Why, thank you, HP, for that helpful little bit of useless information!

For the next two hours I tried every trick I could think of, but the HP installation software thwarted my best efforts. Upon my enthusiastic recommendations, my dad decided to take the HP back to Best Buy, and get a Canon. I headed back home vowing never to buy another HP printer.

My evening went downhill from this point.

Last week, I finally decided to decommission my old 550mhz Gateway piece of crap. As part of the "Gateway For All" program, this was my "gift" for working for that miserable company for 8 years. I recently reformatted and reloaded this machine with Win-98SE just as a standby. It worked great for about a month, then started throwing all kinds of errors and blue screens when it booted up. It would sometimes take 4 or 5 restarts before the idiot thing settled down. I finally got tired of fighting with it, and disassembled it. It had two hard drives, and I wanted to try to recover some of the data from the D drive.

My AMD 3ghz Win-XP machine is equipped with EZ-Swap hard drive enclosures for both the C and D drives. In my naïve ignorance, I decided it would be an easy task to pull the D drive cassette, and put the other D drive in it, and bring it up on the XP machine so I could just pull the data off of it. Simple. Silly little me.

When I booted up the computer, it just threw a candy-coated pissy-fit! It threw up an error screen about this file and that file being damaged, and to use the "repair" feature on the XP CD. Then it threw up another screen offering several choices: safe mode, safe mode with network, command prompt, revert to last known working configuration, start normally, kick me in the butt, throw me off a cliff or tall building, eat my shorts, etc, etc, etc.

Oh, crap!

I shut down, took that drive out, and put the original D drive back in. Booted up; same crap. After choosing "last known working configuration," it booted up, and seemed like it was going to work, until I decided to open Outlook to check my e-mail. It immediately threw another hissy-fit, and opened a blue-screen-of-death full of the usual highly useful information: "Module 0010010038576.jpd.fhr.pdq encountered an error in location 5ytrb45y57575y7.xyz. The program cannot continue. There has been an error. Insert your Widows XP installation disk, press "r" and sacrifice a small mammal to the computer gods while invoking the name of Bill Gates…"

Thank you, Windows, for that very useful insight.

After trying to regain control until nearly midnight – without success – I finally shut down and went to bed. I dreamed about flinging computers off the edge of the Grand Canyon. I got arrested by Rangers for polluting the canyon.

Tonight – Tuesday – I tried again to bring the XP machine back to life. It wouldn’t even complete the boot process. It just stopped at the choices screen, and no matter which choice I made, it simply shut down, rebooted, and stopped at the same place. I tried what Microsoft laughingly calls the "repair" feature on the XP CD. Using this feature was almost as effective as bailing water out of the Titanic with a coffee cup. Useless. Pathetic.

I finally gave up, and just ran the installation procedure for a fresh load. After about an hour’s nail-biting, the computer seems to be OK again. All my vital data is intact, but of course, now I’m in for a week of reinstalling all the drivers, updates, printers, scanners, and software. Just when I had everything working the way I wanted it – after the last crash in May – I’ve got to start all over again. So be it. But all this leaves me with one question:

Is Windows XP so freaking lame you can’t even swap out the D drive without a major disaster? This is incredibly stupid. I could swap D drives all day with Windows 98, Windows 95, Windows 2000, hell, I could even do it with Windows 3.1. Is XP really that LAME?? WTF?? Is Vista this lame, too? What gives? Have I missed something about XP (likely)? I know some folks (like my dad) consider me a "computer expert"). I consider myself a fairly experienced user with enough knowledge to be dangerous. If anyone out there can shed any light on this issue, I’m all ears – or eyes, actually. Please – enlighten me.

In the meantime, I just blew 80 bucks on a 250GB external USB drive, which will soon become the caretaker of a whole bunch of stuff I don’t want to lose (like my photos) next time this piece of junk decides to freak out.

You know, somewhere in the dim recesses of what’s left of my mind, I can recall someone spouting forth a bunch of hyperbole about how computers were going to improve our lives, and be a lot of fun. Right. That’s why I feel like I’ve been dragged under a train for the last few days.

By the way, today my dad took the HP back, and bought a Canon Pixma 600. It took a little over a half hour to install it with no issues at all. HP makes good little printers, but they need to do something with the software end of things. I’ll sure never buy another HP printer.

Later

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Some Good Stuff....

Hey!

It's been a long, busy day, but a good day. This morning before the service meeting, Stan called me into his office. He asked how I was doing, and I said "I'm surviving pretty well." He said, "Well, this should help you survive a little better.." and handed me a document detailing...... a RAISE! Yes! My second raise of the year! That definitely got the day off to a good start.

Then in the meeting, the regional manager had some very good things to say about our branch's performance. Things are looking very good indeed as far as work is concerned. Sometimes it's a little hard to deal with whiny, demanding customers, but this certainly makes the job a little easier.

It was a bit of a long day today. In addition to starting out early to be on time for the meeting, I ended up going out to Overland Park to help another tech, and we ran a bit late getting away. It was nearly 6:00 PM by the time I got home.

I called Tiger about the defective power supply tonight. The representative I spoke with didn't give me any nonsense, and gave me an RMA number to send it back. He gave me a choice of a refund or exchange. I decided on a refund, and will just pick up a power supply locally over the weekend. I will continue to do business with Tiger, though. They definitely treat you right in my book.

I've completed combining the Latest News and Rod's Rants sections into one section this evening, and implemented a new color scheme. It's looking good if I do say so myself. It hasn't been uploaded, yet, and probably won't be until I get the rest of the work done on the website that I want to do. The color scheme will be toned down somewhat, and I think it will be easier to read. Now, I just need to get my new splash graphic Faery Girl (you'll like her) finished. Hopefully I'll have time this weekend in between all the other stuff that keeps me hopping.

And now it's - once again - time to "hop" into bed.

Namárië

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Time and Computer Frustrations

Well, it was a pretty frustrating few hours this evening. I ordered a 500W power supply from Tiger for my dad’s ailing computer, and went over to install it. What should have been a half-hour job turned into a three-hour marathon of frustration – just what I need after a full day of battling copiers.

I’ve had real good luck with most of the things I’ve ordered from Tiger, and this power supply was rated very highly. However, in addition to just plain not working, one of the drive connectors fell off the wires, and the 12-volt 4-pin connector was keyed completely wrong! Needless to say this piece of crap is going back to Tiger. With the limited time I have anymore, I don’t appreciate it being wasted by products that don’t work right out of the box. I’m waiting until tomorrow night to call Tiger. I’m just too pissed off to call tonight.

Moving right along, I’m going to be making a few more changes in the website soon, in the few moments a week I get to actually work on it. One major change that will happen in the next few days will be the combination of the Latest News and Rod’s Rag into one section. I’ll probably do a little work on that tonight. I probably won’t get too far, though. I have to get my goofy butt to bed a little early since we are having a service meeting tomorrow morning. I can’t imagine how much “the numbers” have changed since last Thursday, but I suppose I’ll find out. Then it’s another busy day tomorrow. I’ve already got three calls lined up for after the meeting.

For now, it’s time for a Frappuccino (I really should buy stock in Starbucks), a little relaxation, then off to bed.

Namárië

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday's Update

This is mostly an experimental post using the e-mail posting feature.

I'm going to be posting a special offer on the Playboy back issues on the
website; hopefully tonight. As soon as I finish up my paperwork from work
today, I'll do a little more work on that part of the site.

It was a hot one today! That's pretty normal for July in Kansas City,
though.

Later!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mid July Update


Here it is, another Monday. I haven’t posted anything lately; mainly because there’s just not a lot to post. Between my job and all the “little emergencies” that seem to crop up every two or three days, I just don’t have a lot of time to do interesting things much anymore.

Most of my life these days is, frankly, pretty boring. Get up, go to work, come home, mess with the computer for a couple hours, go to bed. Get up, go to work, come home, handle tonight’s “little emergency,” go to bed. And on, and on. It’s beginning to suck.

Well, enough of my whining. I’m working on a new splash graphic for the website, and I’ll be redecorating, again. I’m looking at a few more changes, as well. I’m not quite sure yet what I’ll end up doing with the Playboy Back Issues section. It’s been months since anyone has ordered anything. I’ve had a few e-mails asking questions that are already answered on the Back Issues page, but nothing beyond that. I’d like to get rid of all the remaining issues, so if you want to make an offer, drop me a line. Just keep in mind, I’m not going to just give them away.

I’ve posted a photo above of my garden out back by my telephone pole. The caladiums are sure looking good! Once the marigolds and 4 o’ clocks start blooming, there should be lots of color out there.

We’re starting to move into the dog-days of summer, now. Mid-July in the Midwest – lots of humidity, and temps in the high 90s. I’m thankful that at least I have air conditioning in the van this year. Driving all summer in that Kia with no AC last year damn near did me in!

Well, that’s about it for tonight. I’m hoping we can go see the new Harry Potter flick in the next few days. From what I’ve seen on TV, it looks like it ought to be pretty good.
Stay Cool!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Another Month Arrives...

Well, here it is, another month, already! June sure went by in a hurry! I guess when you’re busy as hell all the time, tempus really fugits.

I had a nice break from work in the middle of the week for Independence Day. We had thought about maybe finding someplace to enjoy photographing one of the many fireworks displays around the KC area, but it didn’t happen. Maybe next year. We had a semi-relaxing 4th; it was nice having that little break in the middle of the week. I think I’ll petition Congress to make that a national law – a mid-week day off, with pay of course. I’m sure Corporate America will go for that!

I did get the Caravan taken care of Monday. The squealing was – as I expected – the wear indicator on the brake pads. I waved goodbye to another $174 for that little issue. Actually, I was expecting a lot more. I always try to overestimate car repairs; that way when they announce the price, and it’s less, it’s somehow a little less painful.

Speaking of painful….. Somehow, in my clumsiness, I managed to ram my right foot into one of my filing cabinets yesterday. The three smallest toes are now a lovely combination of purples and blues right now. I’m currently hobbling around like Chester on the old “Gunsmoke” TV western. The pain is starting to subside, now, so a couple more days ought to do. Guess I should stop trying to kick these old Gateway junkers!

I’m once again working on some new graphics for the website, and will be making a few more changes soon.

Thanks for dropping by!
Later!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Last Friday in June Update....

Well, here it is, Friday again. This last week was interesting, to say the least, but not as busy as I thought it was going to be. I figured that with half our techs in training like I was last week, it would be insane. Happily it was fairly calm.

I did pretty well on the final test last week, and am now fully qualified on the new Bizhub 360/420/500 series multifunction machines. I’ve worked on a couple of them this week, and I think I’m going to do fine with them.

I think I’m going to have to take the Caravan in to have the brakes looked at. The left front brake is starting to make a rubbing/squealing noise, and as much driving as I do, I don’t want to put this off very long. More money out the window…. Always something.

I was kind of hoping Jo and I could go out and give our cameras a little exercise this weekend, but it looks like it’s going to keep on raining all weekend. I’m about sick of rain – that’s all it’s done for the past three months, it seems. It does make my garden happy, though.

Well, not much else to report on, so I’ll sign out for now. Maybe I’ll do a little drawing or work in my shop over the weekend.

Later!

Friday, June 22, 2007

After This Week, I'll Have No Class....

TRAINING CLASS. Get you minds out of the gutter - it's getting crowded down here.

I've been in training class all week for some new equipment, and I don't mind telling you it's been a long week. One of the guys suggested getting started at 7:30 AM, so I've had to get up at 5:30AM! Me getting up at 5:30. Try to picture that.

Anyway, we've just finished the final exam, and had a bit of pizza thanks to Stan. I feel pretty good about the exam (and the pizza), and will find out how well I did in a few minutes. after we're done here, we'll have another short class on another machine, then - hopefully - the weekend will get off to an early start. I think I'll sleep through most of it.

The instructor just announced that everyone passed the final. Good enough for me! Now, let's get the weekend rolling!

We're about to start again, so I'll sign off for now.

Later!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Update


BE STILL, MY BEATING HEART!

I encountered this gorgeous 1957 Chevy Bel-Air outside North Kansas City Hospital today, and just had to get a photo! What a sweet ride! I'd be scared to death to drive it much, though, with all the arrogant boneheads on the roads these days.

Next week, I'll be in class all week, so I don't know how many chances I'll have to post, but I'll try to update a couple of times at least. It's a pretty sure bet there will be homework most nights, so a good chunk of my very limited time will be devoted to that.
Then the next week should be even more interesting. The first training class will be for all the segment 1,2, and 3 techs, so the segment 5 and 6 techs will have to do all the 1,2,3 calls as well as their own calls. The second week, all the segment 5 and 6 guys will be in class, so all the 1,2,3 guys will have to do both segment 1,2,3 calls and the 5 and 6 calls. In case you're wondering, the "segment" numbers refer to the capacity/copy-per-minute rating of the copiers. Segment 1,2,3 machines are smaller and lower CPM machines, typically 45 copies per minute and below. These are the machines you'll find in most offices, doctor's offices, churches, warehouses, factories, home offices, and so on. The segment 5 and 6 machines are higher speed, larger capacity machines such as you'd see in the copy center of a large office. To put it in a few words, the next couple of weeks are going to be chaos.
But for now, a new weekend beckons. It's time to relax for a while. A very short while. Gah.
I posted a few (very few - not much time for photography lately) photos in the June 07 section. Click the link to the left, or just click on the title above.
Later!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Still Busy....

And it never ends....

I'll tell you - one of these days, I'll wake up without 10,000 things to do, and I won't know how to act. Really.

Last Saturday, we had a great family cook-out here at the Lair. I didn't know we could actually fit so many people in this house! We had a pretty massive amount of food - I had two, count 'em, two charcoal grills going with marinated chicken breasts, my special "cheese inside" burgers, hot dogs, and brats. I've never cooked so much food at one time in my life! But I guess it worked out OK - it was the talk of the family for 3 days afterwards. It was a lot of fun, but it'll be a while before the next one. I need time to rest up! We'll probably have another hullabaloo sometime in the fall.

Things at work have been a little busy the last week, as we've had guys in training off and on all week. I'll be in class all next week on some new equipment, so I'll get a little break from the field. Stan (my boss) said the class will be just like classes at our training center in Chicago; 8 to 4:30, and we are to turn off our Nextels, or leave them in our cars. Wow. A whole week without the !#%*$& thing pestering me all day? Sweet. The bummer is we'll have homework, and tests. Yeah, just like school! And I'll have to get up earlier, too. It takes a lot longer to make the 40 mile drive to the office than it does to get to my territory. Oh, well.

Not much else exciting going on at the moment. I still have way too many busy things happening, and way too little time to relax. I'm hoping for a break soon.

Later!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Another Week Goes By

Well, here it is Friday, again. It's been a short week since I took a couple vacation days Monday & Tuesday. Out of the 4-day weekend, I had one day to relax and just do nothing. This is pretty much normal lately - I have way too many demands on my time these days!

This weekend is going to be pretty well filled up as well. Saturday, we're having a bash at the Lair to celebrate our anniversary, my dad & step-mom's anniversary, and our youngest niece's birthday. Normally when there's a family get-together it's at someone else's house; rarely at ours. This will be a fun change. I'll be playing the part of Iron Chef (actually more like Tin-Horn Chef), so it will be interesting. I should be pretty much worn out by Saturday evening, so hopefully I'll have Sunday to relax.

I spent yesterday at the office for network training. One of our IT guys gave the class, and cleared up a whole lot of things for me about networking. Now, I can be even more dangerous.

I'm hoping to have a free weekend sometime soon so we can just load the cameras and laptop in the minivan, and just take a day trip to get away from all the chaos here for a few hours. I'm planning a week-long vacation trip in October, but if I have to wait that long, I'm afraid I'll go completely buggy - I mean more than I am already!

Well, I guess it's time to wrap up my lunch break, and go back to the salt mines.

Namarie