Monday, December 15, 2008

New Stuff....

Well, another week has begun - and on a cold, cold note! It's been absolutely brutal out there today! I think today's high temperature was about 12 degrees F! Brrrrr!!

Did you guess what those wood things are in my last post? The second photo makes it pretty obvious. Yes, they will be blades for a small wind turbine I'll be experimenting with. I know there are commercial blades out there, and I know it's a bit of a job to make your own out of wood, but I want to try just to see if I can do it. Besides, I want to start out small, and I don't think anyone makes blades that small. I do have a lot of shaping/sanding to do, and a good deal of research to do, but I think it will be fun. I'll be posting updates as I progress (or not) with this project.

I also just signed up on Auctiva as I'm planning to open some Ebay auctions soon. I've changed the links for the "My Ebay Auctions" on my main pages. The link will take you to my Auctiva Store where you will see any auctions I have active as well as - just what I needed - another Blog!

I'll be bringing you more news soon!


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Another Experimental Project

I started a new experimental project tonight. In the photo below, you'll see four pieces of wood - all cut and shaped alike, all 2 feet long. Got any idea what they are going to be?

I'll give you a hint with the photo below:

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'll be talking (or typing) more about it later in the week. Why are there four in the previous photo? I only need three, but I cut 4 so I'll have a spare in case of breakage (or in the highly likely event that I bung one of them up...).

This will be something I'll be experimenting with over the next few winter months. I have quite a bit more research to do, and some other bits and pieces to scrounge up. I think it will be fun, and I might just learn something - amazing as that thought may be.

More coming soon...


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Another Weekend Ends...

This was one of those rare weekends where I was actually able to relax, and recharge my batteries a little bit. It was truly refreshing. I'll hit the sack shortly, and that will be followed all too soon by the alarm going off in the morning. That's OK, though. In the current chaotic economic environment, I'm among the lucky to actually have a good job. I hope it lasts. Hopefully Mr. Obama and his administration can find a way to turn things around. We shall see.

In the meantime, I think things at work will be fairly slow until after the holidays are over. Next Friday, my employer will be catering lunch for us at 1:30, and afterwards we'll all be free to go home. So I'll get a couple hours' head start on the weekend. Then the following Friday, I hope to take the afternoon off - I still have 4 hours of "floating" holiday time. I just faxed a request this evening, so hopefully I'll get to start that weekend early, too.

Well, I'm kind of excited this evening. I haven't had a good stereo receiver since my old one shot craps last year. The old component stereo receivers with inputs for phono, tape, and auxiliary seem to have gone the way of the dinosaurs. It's all "home theater" now. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but if you just want a good receiver/amplifier for your turntable and tape deck, you are pretty much limited to very pricey units in the $700 and up range. But I digress....

Earlier today I was checking Ebay for receivers, and found a really nice JVC R-S5. I bid, I won, and for well under 100 bucks, it will soon be taking its place in the bare spot on my stereo shelf. It will be good to have a stereo again!

Of course, I've certainly not been without music all this time. Several months ago I ordered a nice little preamp/mixer/fader from DAK, which has been wonderful for digitizing music from all kinds of sources. I have my Pioneer turntable connected to it so I can convert all my LPs to WAV and/or MP3 files. I can also connect my cassette deck to it, as well as the output from my other computer. This works great for digitizing music from Internet sources such as my Yahoo station.

I just downloaded a PDF book last night that will hopefully get me caught up with 'modern times' as far as my website is concerned. It's all about using CSS and some of the other updated features that I just haven't had the time to learn over the past few years. Hopefully I can set aside a little time to stuff some of that into my poor, tired brain - along with all the online courses I'm working on for my job. Busy, busy, busy.

Well, enough for tonight. It's past my bedtime (again).


Thursday, December 04, 2008

It's December, and I'm Back....

Well, folks, the prodigal poster is, after a lengthy absence, back!

November has come and gone, it's now December, and another year is on its way out. At last, I think things are calming down enough that I can get back into some creative projects. I'm planning on a number of updates to the website, and a new section to be added after the first of the year.

We picked up a couple of neat old lamps on our recent trip to Arkansas. One was a real bargain, since it needed some work. I've rebuilt and rewired it, and - aside from a pair of glass shades - it's good as new. I'll be seeking shades for it this winter, so you may well encounter me in any of the antique shops in the area. Don't be surprised!

I have (as usual) a number of projects I'll be working on this winter. I'm going to be doing some experimenting with a small wind turbine, with the intent of building a larger one next summer. I have several other interesting things I'll be playing with, but that's all I'm going to say for now.

I've recently set up a webcam as one of my experimental projects. I'm using my dad's old Emachine computer as the webcam server. He's moved into an apartment, and doesn't have a lot of room, so I've been keeping both of his computers until he's ready to get back into his genealogy research. He'll probably just use one of the computers, and he likes the one I built for him better than the Emachine, so it will probably continue to serve as my webcam/security machine for now. I'll have it set up as a "Shop Cam" on weekends soon, so you can watch me working on weird stuff or rebuilding lamps in my shop. I'm also planning to add video updates from time to time as well, so be sure to drop by often.

I'm hoping I'll be able to pay more attention to this blog and website now that things are calming down a little. It's been far too static for far too long!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween.....

Well, it's the end of October already. Our vacation is over, and I'm another year older. Oh, well...

I only posted one update while on vacation, but I uploaded a video update each evening, and a bunch of photos, which are available in my Picasa album, 'Vacation 2008.' The link is on my website, and if you are not reading this on my website, you can click the link to your right that says 'this blog is integrated into my website...'

Today is All Hallows Eve, and I'll be using my webcam to keep an eye on all the little Halloweenies this evening. I normally have it set to update at 5 minute intervals, but I'll probably change that to 1 minute intervals for tonight. you can watch, too: Rod's Lair Webcam.

Hope you have a happy, haunted Halloween. Be careful with those tricks.....


Monday, October 20, 2008

New Photos in Vacation 2008 Album

Just a quick update from Bull Shoals Dam. I just uploaded a few photos to the vacation 2008 album from a hot-spot here at the visitor's center. Amazing, this technology!

I'll add captions to them tonight. Now' it's onward to more adventures!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Getting Ready.....

..For our journey tomorrow, that is. I think we've got everything packed that we need - we're just taking a few days' trip, so no need to overload. The less stuff we have to load and unload at each destination, the better!

I've added a new feature - video updates! Since this laptop has a built-in camera, I thought I'd try putting video updates on the website. I just uploaded the first one this evening. If you're on my website reading this, just click the Video Update link on the left. If you're not on my website, just click the link to the right - the one that says "This blog is integrated into my website..." All will become clear!

Now, I'm going to sign off, and get this laptop packed up and ready to go.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mid-October Update

Well, we're halfway through October, already - where does the time go? Tempus fugits, indeed.

We'll be heading out on our fall vacation this weekend, and I'll be posting photos and updates as often as possible. We're both looking forward to getting away from all the craziness for a few days.

My dad has moved out of his house, and into a 'retirement' apartment community here in Independence. It's nice, but not very roomy - two rooms, a bathroom, and a small kitchen. He probably won't use the kitchen much - he's not much into cooking, and they provide two meals a day as part of the rental fee. He's doing fine so far, but it's quite a change for him.

I've done a little more work in the shop this last couple weeks. I'm hoping to have a little more time to work on some ideas I've had for quite some time. We'll just have to see how it goes. I've moved the backyard security camera to the front of the house, and added a neat IP camera to the back. I can access both cameras from wherever I can connect to the internet so I can keep tabs on things. It's pretty neat!

I'm going to keep this short tonight - it's been a long week (and it's only Wednesday), and I am rather exhausted tonight. So for now, good night!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I Think I'll Cancel My Policy......


I don't usually put a lot of political / current event commentary on here. Partly, it's because most of it is a bunch of absolute stupidity, and I could rant endlessly about many aspects of the current state of moronic activities. But every now and then, such depths of excess are reached that I just can't help myself. This is one of those times.

At present, I have an auto insurance policy with AIG. That may change soon. Not because I've had any problem with AIG's service. It's more to do with a statement of protest at the slap in the face that AIG has inflicted on the American People. Click this link:

A few days after our so-called "leaders" have so generously provided an 85 BILLION dollar bailout (at the expense of the American Taxpayer) to the idiots who for some unknown reason control a major portion of our economy, these sleazebags thank us all by taking a 400,000 dollar week-long vacation. WTF??????

The rooms I've booked for our upcoming 5-day vacation will cost a little over 400 bucks. And they are not dumps, but I'm afraid they don't come with manicures, and steak & lobster, either. I wonder if Uncle Sam will bail me out if I spend way over my budget, defraud my employer, max out my credit cards, and steal from my customers. I think not. I think I'd end up with an all expense paid lodging in Leavenworth. That doesn't come with manicures, either.

These worthless pieces of crap need to be slowly boiled in hot oil. For about three weeks.

AIG executives, I hope you all enjoyed your manicures and 1200 dollar hotel rooms. I also hope you burn in hell. As soon as possible.

I think I may change my policy to Geico. At least they amuse me with thier lizard and cavemen ads. AIG makes me want to throw up. Then find an AIG executive, and provide a few lessons in economics. With a baseball bat.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

October Approaching…

It’s been a while since I’ve updated anything here. I know the “experts” caution not to draw attention to lack of updates, but perhaps the “experts” have a more serene lifestyle than I seem to the last couple of years. I won’t bore you with the details, but just suffice it to say between my job and being run ragged attending to the needs of elderly relatives, I have little time or energy for much else. It has been that way for the last two and a half years, and I don’t see it getting much better anytime soon.

I did get some good news last month when I went to see my eye surgeon, Dr. Dyer. Last time I saw him, he was a little concerned about a ‘wrinkle’ that had formed on my retina, where it had been repaired last year after the complete separation. He used a gadget to measure the swelling, and said if it continued to swell, I might have to have another vitrectomy.

At the last appointment, another measurement was taken, and it seems to be gradually improving. Dr. Dyer said that for now, at least, another surgery was not needed. I have another appointment with him in January to see how it’s progressing.

I finally got my eyeglass prescriptions filled – the ones I’ve had since May! I opted to do away from the bifocals, and got two pair of glasses – one for normal use such as driving, and a pair for reading, working on the computer, drawing, and other close-up work. I have Eyemed, so I got a pretty decent deal on two pair! Sears has a special where you get the second pair for 30% off when you buy the first pair. Eyemed picks up 80% of the first pair, so like I said – a pretty good deal!

I August, I shot a small wedding for 400 bucks, which I added to what I’d been saving up for a new laptop. I finally picked one up at Sam’s Club a few weeks ago. It’s an HP Pavilion with a 17-inch display, WiFi, a DVD/CD Rom burner, 500 gigs of HD space, 4 gigs of memory, and Vista Home Premium. It even has a built-in camera so I can make nonsensical video entries. I’ll post one when I don’t look/feel like I’ve been run over by a train.

I do have a nice laptop from my job, but of course, it still belongs to them, and they don’t want me installing a lot of non-work-related software on it – like Photoshop. It has a Sprint PCS card, but not WiFi. With my new laptop, I can install what I want, and connect from any of a myriad of hotspots. When we go on vacation, it will be great as most well-known hotel/motel chains now offer WiFi as part of the room package.

I’ve also purchased a new Wacom Intuos3 table for the main computer, and have installed the old Intuos2 on the new laptop.

The weekends lately have been a bit chaotic – nothing new there. My dad is going to be moving to The Fountains, a retirement community here in Independence. He is auctioning off the house and most of the contents therein. He’s just not able to handle the house any longer. It’s kind of sad, but he’s just been lost since his wife Margaret passed away in March. He has several friends from church that live there, and I understand they also have a genealogy group there. I’m hoping he can get interested in his research again. They also provide two healthy, well-balanced meals a day, so hopefully he’ll start eating a little better. And he can come and go as he pleases. He can still drive, so he’s free to go about his business whenever he wants. They’ve just opened a fantastic new genealogy research library not far from the Fountains; and it’s not far from the Lair, either. I’m hoping this winter he and I can get together there and do a little research.

This weekend was pretty typical. Saturday we drove in to Jo’s mom’s place and spent most of the day helping her clean out her shed. We pulled out all the lawn equipment – a riding lawn mower, a walk-behind mower, gas cans, bags of lawn chemicals, hoses, garden tools, boxes of stuff, lawn waste receptacles, and so on. She swept out every nook and cranny of the shed, then I sprayed bug spray into every corner, which upset quite a few spiders and crickets. Then we started hauling all the previously mentioned items back in. Now, I love my mother-in-law; she’s a great lady, and an awesome cook. But she’s also one of the most fastidious people I’ve ever met. She had to sweep out the shed once more after every item was hauled back in. You could eat off the floor!

Then Sunday, I was supposed to go over to my dad’s place, and help get his computers ready for the move Wednesday. But we got another one of those medical crisis phone calls Saturday night. Jo’s brother Bill had been having some problems with numbness in his arm. Then when it started affecting his lips, he thought maybe a stroke was coming on, so they went to a clinic. The doctor there told him he had a tumor on his brain, and he needed to go to the hospital. Well, that would scare the crap out of anyone, so he and his wife headed to the Olathe hospital. And of course when we got that phone call Saturday night, it was rather upsetting.

I called my dad and told him what was happening. I figured on spending a great deal of Sunday stuck in a waiting room at the hospital. Of course, he understood completely.

Happily, by the time Sunday rolled around, there was better news. Bill’s doctor looked at all the MRIs, CAT scans, and other tests and said the ‘tumor’ did not look malignant, but he wanted the neurologist to look things over. The neurologist looked over the tests, and agreed. It appeared to be a calcification, and not a tumor. It had probably been there most of his life, and just now was having some effects. They will be doing more tests, just to make sure, but for now, he’s out of the hospital, and feeling just fine.

At any rate, this is pretty much what our life has been like lately. Hopefully this will provide somewhat of an explanation as to why my web presence has been a bit stagnant of late. I’m hoping things will calm down a bit soon. Of course, every time I say (type) that, all hell breaks loose.

We will be taking a bit of a break in October again this year. Hopefully it won’t end with a detached retina like last year! We’re planning a visit to Mountain Home, Arkansas, and our old favorite standby, Eureka Springs! I’ll be removing the ‘Vacation, 2007’ Album, and replacing it with ‘Vacation 2008’ soon. I’ll be posting photos of our adventures. With all the rain we’ve had this year, I’m hoping there will be some nice fall colors. The Arkansas websites are predicting the colors will peak right about October 20th this year. Perfect! I just hope the rain doesn’t follow us all week like last year!

For the near future, I’m looking at some rather drastic changes for Rod’s Lair this fall and winter. I’ve been using a little shareware application called WebEdit for all my HTML since the late 90s. It’s a nice little bit of software, and has a lot of neat features. When I tried to install it on the Vista laptop, it choked, and said it was incompatible with Vista – which didn’t surprise me much. I’ve found another HTML editor called HTML-Kit, and I’m quite impressed with it. It’s an ‘open source’ application, which means there are thousands of people all working on continuously improving it. It has lots of features, and plug-ins, and more are added on a continuing basis. I will probably be using it more and more as I update and upgrade Rod’s Lair. I’ve not used CSS, but I plan on using it quite a bit in the future.

There will be some other new features added to Rod’s Lair, but it’s too soon to go into much detail yet. I have a few things to learn about, and of course, it all depends on how much time I have to devote to it in between all the crises and upheavals. Hopefully there will be less of the latter, and more of the former!


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Time For A Change

It's September, already, and it's time for a change.

For the past several months; years, really, I have been pretty well kept busy and exhausted between work and attending to elderly parents that have lost thier mates within the last two years or so. It has been pretty much a full-time job, and I have had little time for things like updating my website or this blog.

It's time for a change.

The elderly relatives are settling down a bit. I know it's been sad and lonely for them both, but time seems to be healing a little bit, although I know the pain and feeling of loss will never fully heal. But I think in both cases, they are getting better, and I am beginning to have a little more time to myself. You can click the title above for the full article, or click "September 2008" on your left (if you are on my website).

This blog is integrated into my website. You can click on the "Rod's Lair Latest News Section" link on the right if you are not on my website, and view it in that context.

Jo and I are looking forward to our October vacation next month. Hopefully, it will be a little less rainy than last year, although with all the moisture we've had this year, it remains to be seen. With all the rain, maybe we'll have some nice fall color this year.

Look for new content on the website soon!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better....

The last couple of weeks have been….. interesting, for lack of a better word. Actually, I can think of lots of other words, but I'm trying to keep this site more or less 'PG' rated! (More..)

Click the "More" link for the whole story....


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quick Update

This will be short tonight...

I have been extremely busy the last couple weeks. Between my job, and the changes there (more later), and tending to the needs of my ailing and lonely dad, I've had little time to mess with this blog or my website.

Things may be stabilizing a little bit, soon, but of course everytime I say that all h**l breaks loose.

I'll be typing up a more complete update in the next day or two with all the latest news, so check back soon.

Just wanted to type a quick update to let everyone know I'm still alive. More or less....

I'll be back soon.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

It's August!

And it's HOT! We spent most of the early afternoon in Olathe at our great-niece's birthday party. When we got home from that, I went over to visit my dad for a while. He's had some health problems, lately, and I wanted to make sure he was OK. We visited for a while, made a short foray to the grocery store, then I came back home.

I've just uploaded a new update on the Monthly Updates section, rather than type it all here. You can read it by clicking the August 2008 link to the left. If you are not on my website, click the 'Rod's Lair Latest News Section' link on the right.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Changes to the Changes....

Here's what I've decided to do as far as this Blog is concerned. I will keep it as is, but my blog posts will be short, one-paragraph updates and perhaps a picture or two. For anything more detailed, it will be posted on my Monthly Updates to the left. This blog is integrated into my website, so if you are reading this blog on its own, you can click the “Rod's Lair Latest News Section” link on your right, and you'll be taken to the news section of my website, where you will see this blog in the main window. Maybe someday, the folks at Blogger will get all the bugs worked out – I know it takes time. But for now, this is the easiest way to manage it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Changes in Latest News Blog

As of the end of July, I will not be using this Blog as my main news site. I just spent the last 3 hours fighting with it to get today's post formatted correctly. For some reason, Blogger does not want to separate paragraphs in a post of more than a few sentences. I've encountered this problem on several occasions, and I'm tired of fighting with it. I have enough challenges to deal with in my life at the moment; I don't have the time or patience to fight with something that's supposed to be fun. I will continue to keep my Blogger account, and will occasionally post a quick, one paragraph update here. But for anything more than a paragraph, I'll be posting it on the appropriate monthly update section on my website. If you are not currently reading this on my website, just click the title above, and you'll be taken to my Latest News site. If they ever get this issue permanently resolved, I'll return to using Blogger as my primary news page. But for now, its use will be limited to a quick monthly update.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Little Day Trippin'

What a day!

We finally had a chance to take a break from all the chaos and turmoil that has been so much a part of our lives the last several months – years, really – and went on a little day trip. Or, I should say combination of day trip, insulator scouting mission, and photo safari. Even though we burned up 50 bucks’ worth of idiotically overpriced gas, it was worth it just to get away, see the countryside, smell the fresh air, and meet some friends for a little insulator hunting, antiquing, and photography. It was glorious!

We met our friends Pat Barkwell, and Bill Snow in Marceline, Mo, after some insulator-related exploring from Richmond and Henrietta north and eastward. I’d nearly forgotten how beautiful the countryside is, and how relaxing and refreshing it can be. There are still plenty of places one can drive and enjoy the sights without some brainless moron riding your back bumper, or flipping you off because he wants to do 90mph and you’re in his way poking along at 70mph.

We didn’t manage to grab any ‘wild’ glass on this trip, but we had a lot of fun, took a few photos, and didn’t come home empty-handed, either. Even if we did have to sell out and actually buy a couple insulators!

I’ve posted several photos in the July 2008 section (in the panel to your left) for you to check out, along with a few more paragraphs about our ‘adventure.’ If you are not reading this on my website, and consequently don’t have a clue what I’m babbling on about, just click on the title above, and all will become clear.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We've Finally Hit The Bottom of The Barrel...

OK - we all know I'm not a huge fan of the current collective displays of stupidity known as "reality" shows. You know the ones I mean. "Survivor" and "American Idol" are almost tolerable (at least to me), but now, we're truly scraping the bottom of the barrel.

The latest offering in highly intellectual viewing is called "Hurl!" And, no, it's not about building trebuchets. I'd actually watch that. But, no. It's about contestants gorging themselves with food, then being placed in nausea-inducing situations until they puke. Wow. Just what I want to watch while having dinner. Who dreams up this crap? Larry Flynt? And what's next? How about a show called "Crapper?" The contestant that leaves the biggest pile of poo gets 1000 bucks.

It truly warms the heart to see how far we've come since neanderthal times.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

If This Guy Runs for President, He's Got My Vote....

Now I feel bad about using those neat little curly lights.....


Monday, June 09, 2008

Boy, Is It Monday!

Well, today sucked. That's really the only way I can put it.

Outside of a couple installs I did this morning, I spent the entire day working on one machine in Edwardsville, Kansas. I even had one of our specialists assisting me today for about three hours. I still don't know what the heck is eating on this goofy copier. It's had a buttload of parts - including the main and control boards - changed, but it still kicks up error messages. I finally ended up escalating the issue to SSD, and opening a ticket on it. Hope the engineers can come up with something.

Then, when I got home, Jo showed me a bill from Comcast that arrived today. The low down, dirty bas###ds are charging me for replacing the outdoor cable - which didn't resolve the problems I've been having. I'll be taking that bill to the Comcast office tomorrow and telling them what they can do with it.

I got a call from a "supervisor" at Comcast today regarding my latest diatribe in the continuing saga. He sent another tech out today, and as usual, the tech had no information regarding this continuing story. They never do. Comcast's lack of communication seems to permeate all levels of their sorry organization - even down to their own employees. This tech repeated what an earlier tech had said: The main distribution line needs to be replaced. He also repeated another thing the previous tech had told me: They had to get "funding" to replace the main distribution line, as it was very expensive, and there has been a lot of damage from the recent storms. Of course, Comcast seems to have plenty of "funding" for the current intensive advertising campaign which blathers on endlessly about how great their service is. Right. Great service. And I'm Indiana Jones.

Well, I'm pretty well exhausted from today's Monday Adventures, so I think I'll head for bed early tonight. The saga will continue to ebb and flow tomorrow, I'm sure.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Update - 06-08-08

Well, here it is June already. Jo and I just celebrated our 37th anniversary. Gas prices continue their upward spiral, and who knows where it will stop. We’re definitely feeling the pinch.

Around here things are just as busy as ever, with all the hats I’m currently wearing: Taxi Driver, Family I.T. Department, Lawn Care Specialist, Etc. And of course, things at work have been extremely busy of late with my new territory.

My old faithful lawn mower decided to give up the ghost last week. I tinkered with it a bit to try to bring it back to life, but I didn’t have much luck. It ran just long enough to get about half of the backyard mowed. Jo ended up finishing the rest with the little electric mower while I was at work. My dad says he has a couple mowers he’s not going to use since he has someone to do his lawn, so I guess I’ll pick one or both of them up this week. Maybe they’ll get me through the summer without having to buy a new one.

One thing I definitely need to get rolling this week is to get a new TV provider. I’m to the point where I’m utterly and completely fed up with Comcast. Comcast has got to be one of the sorriest excuses for a cable provider in the country. I have been having the same problems since December of 2007, and they have yet to get it resolved. Beyond giving me a couple months’ credit, they have done little other than a few half-assed attempts to get my cable working properly. Their so-called “customer service” is abysmally poor – rarely do I even get a response to phone calls, letters, or faxes. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing to do is FIRE COMCAST and get Direct TV. I can get everything I get with Crapcast (except the problems, hopefully) for a whole lot less. Comcast has pissed me off enough that I’m going to devote a section of my website to telling the entire story. Stay tuned…

I just got a letter from the IRS telling me I can expect my “Economic Stimulus” check soon. We’re hoping to save it for a vacation this fall – assuming, of course, that we can actually afford to put gas in the van by fall. I appreciate George W’s generosity in returning some of my hard-earned wages, but if he (or John or – God Forbid – Obama) really want to “stimulate” the economy, I think there’s a better, faster way: Run these $!%#$%*$^ Oil Bullies out of the country, and preferably off the planet. Let the Klingons deal with them! And let's use our technology to work on alternatives. There's a finite amount of fossil fuels, folks. We've just about sucked this planet dry, and we've not put back a whole lot. We've got to come up with something else. If some guys can run their diesels on used grease from TacoBell, we can certainly do better than depend on increasingly expensive petroleum from the OPEC pirates.

I am desperately trying to get back into doing some creative things in between all the family duties, medical crises, and fighting with idiots like Comcast. Hopefully, I can continue to make headway, and get some new content on this website, and some new stuff in my online store as well. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Late May Update

Well, I had my 1-month post-op checkup on my eye today. Wow! The day after surgery, I was seeing 20:50. A week after, I was seeing 20:30. Today, it was 20:25! Perfect vision is 20:20, and after a complete retinal detachment last fall, I’m seeing 20:25! I guess I must be in good standing with the Man upstairs – that and I found very good doctors! Very good indeed!

I told my doctor today that I was getting a little concerned about my eyes not seeing things quite right. I told him that every time I passed a gas station, it seemed like the numbers would get bigger. He said ‘nope, your eyes are just fine.’ I guess I got 'optic' confused with OPEC.

The doctor wrote out a prescription for new glasses. Or more accurately, he wrote two. I think this time, I want to have separate glasses for distance and reading. I know it’s twice as expensive, and I’ll have two glasses to keep track of, but I think I’ll like it a whole lot better than the bifocals I have now. I hate having to tilt my head back in order to read, or work on the computer. I don’t normally use my glasses when I’m doinking around on the computer, and that’s why. All I have to do now is shop around for the best deal on glasses – maybe find a “buy one pair, get the second free..” deal. I can always hope!

I’ve not been able to spend as much time as I’d like on the website lately. I’m hoping that will change in the near future. I was able to make a few small changes in the last couple of days. There’s a new background, and I changed the index page just a bit. It used to reference a monthly page – such as May.html, but I decided to just disable that feature for now. I just haven’t had the time to create a new monthly page for each new month – other than simply copying the previous month’s content. Once my train wreck of a schedule loosens up a bit (hopefully soon), I have about a million things I’d like to do with the site.

I’m saving my pennies as diligently as possible in order to do a couple things this fall. First, I’d like to get a nice laptop of my own sometime in September. My work laptop is great, and the PCS card makes it easy to stay in touch or get on the internet. But, my company owns it, and they don’t like a lot of non-job related software being loaded onto it. With my own laptop, I could put all the stuff on it I want to – like Photoshop – and use it when we go on our next vacation – which is the second thing I want to do this fall. All of this depends very much, of course, upon having any money left over after filling my gas tank three times a week as gas prices go from ridiculous to utterly ludicrous. Hopefully, we’ll be able to save most of our ‘economic stimulus’ check for vacation.

For now, I’ll say good-night!

Friday, May 09, 2008

New Eyes

Well, I stopped by Moyes Eye Center Thursday for my second post-op checkup. Dr. Verachtert looked me over and told me I get better each time I come in. At my last appointment on April 30th (the day after my cataract surgery) my vision was 20-50. This time, it was 20-40. He said that’s fantastic considering the completely detached retina I had last fall. So, things are progressing nicely. There’s still a tiny bit of distortion, but I’ve recovered at least 90% of my vision in that eye. It’s like I have a new eye!

I just acquired another new eye of sorts. Last week, Microcenter had a sale on refurbished Fuji digital cameras. I picked up a little FinePix A610 camera for 60 bucks. I think this will make an excellent companion to my Canon Digital Rebel. The Fuji is a 6.3 megapixel – same as the Canon – and it’s a tiny thing! I call it my “spy” camera. I can slip it into my pocket and take it pretty much anywhere – places I can’t take the Canon. I’ve posted a few photos in my May page. This camera also has a macro setting that allows me to get closer to objects than I can with the Canon. Of course, the Canon has a lot more control features available along with interchangeable lenses.

I’m hoping I can get to a point where I can do a lot more photography. My inspiration has kind of taken a nose dive over the last few years with all the family health issues. And the series of eye problems that developed last fall didn’t help either.

I’ve posted a few photos in my May section – just click the “May” link on your left. If you are not reading my blog on my website, just click and you’ll see the links as well as this blog.

Looks like another super-busy weekend coming up. Comcast is sending someone out again Saturday to try to fix the continuing issues with my cable. I think I’ll ask them if they can recommend a good dish provider. I’m just about done with Comcast – they’ve been jacking around with this problem since December of 2007, and haven’t managed to get it right yet. Last time I made a comment about Comcast in my blog, someone from Comcast read it and left a comment about “Please contact me; I want to get this taken care of for you…” Well, I did contact him, but never received any kind of response. SOP for Comcast. So if anyone from Comcast reads this, don’t bother leaving any comments unless you intend to follow through.

After Comcast gets through jacking around and offering lame excuses, Jo and I will probably go run some errands, then I’ll probably spend some time with my dad. Sunday is Mother’s Day, so we’ll go in to Jo’s mom’s place, run her to the grocery store and Sam’s Club, then mow the lawn. Like I said – a busy weekend.

Hopefully, I’ll get a little time for my own projects again. Sometime.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Why We're Paying $4.00 a Gallon For Gas

Next time you're blowing a nice, cisp $50.00 bill filling your gas tank, think about this:

Anybody have a spare cruise missile handy?


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog……

So what’s a TDN song got to do with cataract surgery? Well, let me tell ya……

First of all, my left eye is doing great – I can see better than I have in several months! Everything is sharp, with no more rainbow halos around light sources. But, let’s get back to the story.

We got to the hospital a little early Tuesday, and I checked in with admitting. After a short wait, the nurse came and led me to the prep room. The nurse put some drops in my eye to get it started dilating. Then she tried to get the IV started in my right hand.

Poke. Ow. Poke. Ow. Hmmm. Vein not cooperating. Instead of IV going in, blood is coming out. She then switched to the left hand. Poke. Ow. Got it! After the IV was installed, they stuck little monitor stickers all over my chest for the heart monitors and such. This is pretty much standard operating procedure for any kind of surgery; even minor.

After all the stickers were placed, and the blood pressure cuff was on, another nurse came in to start getting my eye even more dilated, and they wrote something on my head over my eye with a marker. She told me to close my eyes and just relax for a little while. They turned out the lights in my room, and let Jo and my dad join me.

After a while, the anesthesiologist came in, and told me they would be standing by, but unless it was too intense for me they wouldn’t give me any sedation other than the local anesthetic for my eye. This made me a little nervous, but I said I’d try to tough it out. He said they like to keep you as alert as possible so you can follow the doctor’s directions during the procedure, and so you don’t go to sleep and move your eye while he’s working. I can see where that might be a problem.

Presently they came in with a gurney, and after making myself (relatively) comfortable, they wheeled me into the operating room. The nurse put more drops in my eye to numb it a bit, then put a gel into my eye that was the main anesthetic. She swabbed it around my eye pretty thoroughly, and it worked quickly. Within moments, my eye was totally numb, and everything was just a blur. They put a kind of paper veil over my face with a small opening for my left eye, and taped my eyelid to keep it open. She told me Dr. Moyes would be in in a few minutes, and we’d get started.

The intercom system in the OR was on, and was playing some of the good ol’ stuff from the 60s and 70s. I remember when they were prepping me, I heard “My Eyes Adore You” playing, and I was kidding the nurses about the music being somewhat appropriate for the occasion. The next song got the party started, though. It was Three Dog Night’s “Joy To The World,” also known as the “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog” song. Suddenly, the volume went up a bit, and I heard Dr. Moyes come in, singing along: “Jeremiah was a bullfrog; he was a good friend of mine….” I had to laugh. I said “Looks like the party’s starting..” And so it was. After Dr. Moyes and I traded a few jokes about drinking Jeremiah’s wine, and not understanding a dang thing he said, we got down to business. Most of what I remember was after he swung the microscope into position over my eye was a really bright light, a 60s style psychadelic light show in my eye, a little bit of pressure, and it was done in just a few minutes.

I was wheeled into a recovery room for about 20 minutes just to make sure I was OK. Jo and my dad rejoined me, and shortly, the nurse came in to take all the stickers and stuff off me. Indeed, the most painful part of the entire ordeal was when she pulled off the tape they used to keep the IV in place.

I went back today to see another doctor at Moyes Eye Center for my post-op checkup. They checked my vision, and it proved to be much improved; 20:50 in the left eye. The doctor I saw today looked it over, and gave me the big thumbs up. He cleared me to drive, and I can go back to work tomorrow as long as I don’t do any heavy lifting.

After looking at my chart, he told me that normally after a complete retinal detachment like mine, the chances of having 20:50 vision in that eye were extremely thin. “You have Someone on your side,” he told me. Yep, that and some mighty good doctors. Dr. Moyes, and all the folks at Moyes Eye Center, and Dr. Dyer and the folks at Retina Associates are completely, absolutely, undeniably, and utterly AWESOME!

And now, I’m going to sign off, and go pay a visit to my old friend Jeremiah. I can’t understand a single thing he says, but I’ll help him drink his wine.

He always has some mighty fine wine.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Stupid Computer Tricks - the Final Chapter

Looks like the "Stupid Computer Tricks" photos will have a final shot at everlasting glory - or something like that.

A few days ago, I was contacted my Bill Detwiler from TechRepublic, a well-known web resource for IT professionals, and a division of the Ziff-Davis and CNET publishing network. He had stumbled across my SCT photos on one of the "pirated" sites, and was interested in posting them on TechRepublic. Since he was courteous enough to ask (unlike several other entities), and was part of CNET, I agreed to provide him with the photos - and the updated captions without the typos. He did a great job, and now the photos have a new lease on life. You can view them at:

SCT Photos at TechRepublic

When I zipped the site and sent it to him, he also enjoyed the infamous Exploding Roach photos, so they got their own gallery at:

The Infamous Exploding Roach Photos at TechRepublic

I hope you enjoy the "new" SCT experience. I would ask that if you want to refer your friends and associates to the SCT photos, you send them to the galleries on TechRepublic rather than the old version on the pirated sites.

I've placed a short history of the SCT website at A Little Stupid History.

Well, I'm counting down the days until my next adventure in the realm of eye surgery. I'll be out of commission Tuesday, and most of Wednesday as well. I don't know how long I'll be off work this time, but it shouldn't be as long as last November when I was out for 3 weeks. It will most likely be just a few days. They want to be extra careful since I had surgery on that eye relatively recently.

They tell me the procedure only takes about 10 minutes, but the prep takes about 45 minutes. They have to put a gel-patch on the eye, which numbs everything up, and they will connect me to IVs and all that other good stuff. The nurse told me they'll fill me up with "happy juice" pretty well, so I'll be chillin' out like back in the 60s by the time Dr. Moyes is ready to take out the cataract. I've got the best eye specialist in the region doing the procedure, but I'll still be glad when this is all over.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to some of my projects soon.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Under the Knife Again

Well, it looks like surgery time again.

I saw Dr. Moyes, my eye doctor, again today. The cataract in my left eye has been steadily getting worse over the last couple of months. Of course, it hasn’t come as a big surprise – both Dr. Dyer and Dr, Moyes told me back in November that the vitrectomy surgery I had that month tends to accelerate any cataract that is already there. It also tends to initiate a cataract if there isn’t one already present.

Anyway, they checked my eyes out pretty thoroughly today, and took some ultrasound measurements in preparation for the surgery. I’ll be having the cataract surgery on Tuesday the 29th at St. Luke’s North. It’s done on an outpatient basis, and I’ll go home for the recovery. I don’t think I’ll be off work as long as I was in November, but I’ll probably be off the rest of the week.

Between all this drama with my eye, and all the family health crises, and work, I’m pretty well worn out most of the time anymore. The last few years haven’t been much fun.

In between all the chaos/crises, I’ve managed to get a few things done around the house. I put up a new motion-detector light over the garage last weekend, and I’m still working on several projects off and on. The weather is beginning to look more like Spring (in other words, rain..), so I’m looking forward to doing some grilling soon.

If all this crap ever settles down someday, maybe I’ll have more time for things like my website, my art, and a few vacation days that don’t involve doctors’ offices, hospitals, surgery, or funerals.

The “Stupid Computer Tricks” site may be coming back, but in a different format, and in a different place. And it will not be yet another “pirated” site, either. This one will have my full permission and cooperation.

I was contacted by email a few days ago by a writer from CNET, the major computer/technology website published by Ziff-Davis. He stumbled on my photos on one of the pirated sites, and would like to do an on-line article about my experiences along with the non-pirated photos. I’ll be typing up a little information that he requested, and looking up the photos to send him. I’ll place a link, of course, to the article once it is complete. Once again, it looks like Warhol was right about the 15 minutes of fame thing!

I’m going to sign off for now – my eyes are still somewhat dilated from earlier today, and this computer screen is becoming a big blur.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Update - April 2, 2008

Just a quick entry tonight…

Things have been pretty stressful in March, with the recent loss in the family, and all the things that go along with these sad events. But things seem to be settling down a bit, I think.

The new computer is doing well, and the AMD machine has been behaving itself pretty well. It now has a new job – as a recording studio. I purchased a preamp-mixer from DAK a couple weeks ago, and it works beautifully! I am now starting to digitize some of my old vinyl LPs, and I’m burning them on CDs.

I have a ton of other projects in the works, it’s just a matter of getting the time to work on them. That’s been a problem for the last few years – and it doesn’t seem to improve a lot as time goes on.

I’ve been fighting with Comcast the last few months. Since last December, my digital cable has been intermittent at best, and completely useless at worst. I’ve had technicians out at least a half-dozen times since the first of the year, and still the issues continue. I finally got in contact with a customer service manager Monday night, and pretty much told him I wanted the issue fixed, or they can take their cable and shove it. They’ve been working on the distribution lines, and they are coming out Saturday again. We’ll see what happens.

I just picked up my yearly TurboTax this evening, and preliminary figures indicate a refund of a little over 300 bucks. Yea! I don’t know what the state figures are yet, but hopefully I’ll get a refund as well. Then we’ll see what we get with the “economic stimulus” rebate, if anything. Hopefully, we can “stimulate” enough for a nice vacation this fall. Without the rain this year, please and thank you.

I’ll be trying to update a little more frequently, and will be adding some new stuff to the website soon.


Monday, March 24, 2008

News Update - Monday

Today, so far at least, is a welcome fresh breeze of calm and tranquility. Of course, now that I've said that, it's likely that all hell will break loose shortly. I hope not.

The weekend was - as usual anymore - busy, busy, busy. We had a rather hectic day Saturday with Comcast out for the nine millionth time to try to get our cable working right. I have to laugh every time I see one of their ads with that girl blathering on about how great it is to have Comcast's cable, phone, and broadband all in one package. Yeah, great. We couldn't watch TV, get on the Internet, or call anyone to come fix it. Just great, Comcast. Thanks, but I think I'll stick with AT&T and my DSL.

I finally got a little time to update the News section, and add the News Page for March. Click the link on the left to read the synopsis for March. If you are not on my website reading this, and consequently wondering what the heck I'm talking about, just click the title link above, and it will become clear.

The new computer is up and running nicely. I had a few problems during assembly, but that was due mostly to my frame of mind not being the best due to all the recent crises in the family. I probably should have picked a different time to try to assemble a computer, but no matter - it's done and working fine.

I'm hoping to eke enough time out of the chaos that I refer to as my life to get a lot of things done this spring and summer. I'm hoping to have a garage sale in the not-too-distant future - April or May. It will most likely be May, because I'll probably have to have cataract surgery on my left eye pretty soon.

Well, enough of my rambling for now. I'll have more soon - hopefully more fun and less chaos and tragedy.


Monday, March 10, 2008

March - In Like a Lion

This has been the most chaotic, gut wrenching, stressful month. And it’s only 10 days old.

Saturday, we laid my step-mom to rest, and that’s always a heartbreaking thing to do. My dad is doing OK, although he’s finding the loneliness hard to deal with, just like Jo’s mom did, and still does. I’m hoping I can get him re-started with his genealogy research again. It will help keep his mind busy, and it’s something we can work on together if things ever calm down.

As time has allowed, I’ve been assembling the new computer, but it’s been more difficult than I had anticipated. I got everything assembled, then it dawned on me that this system needed a video card, since there was no integrated video on the motherboard. I picked up a decent NVIDIA card at Microcenter Sunday, and put it in the new computer. With everything ready, I powered it on. NOTHING!! The lights and fans came on, but there was no video, and no indication that anything was happening. No beeps, no disk activity, nothing. I was not pleased.

After calming down a bit, I took everything out of the case, and re-assembled it carefully. This time, it worked. I don’t know what the heck I did, but it worked. I must have not grounded something properly, or not tightened a certain set of screws tight enough; I don’t know. All I know is it’s working now.

Then I tried to set up the hard drives using Western Digital’s CD they include with the drives. It booted to the CD, tried to recognize the drives, then stopped, and did nothing further. Damn. Now what? After perusing WD’s website, I found some documentation that indicated WD doesn’t recommend using the CD to install the drives if you are going to use Windows XP. They say to just use Windows XP install to set up the boot drive. It took about 2 hours for Windows to format the drive, but it worked. I was able to install the second hard drive in Window’s disk management. Again, it took a couple hours, but these are 320-gig drives. Hopefully, throughout the week, I’ll be able to get everything else installed – drivers, updates and so on. Then on to the software. Sheesh.

Then today, I got an email from PayPal indicating a debit card purchase for $29.99 from some outfit called Digital River. I hadn’t purchased anything with my PayPal card recently, so naturally, I panicked. I thought some low-life, green-toothed hacker had somehow hacked into my PayPal and was fixing to furnish his yacht at my expense. I immediately deactivated my card, and transferred all remaining balance from my PayPal account to my bank account. I then shot a rather indignant email to Digital River. They responded and said they did not handle customer issues with Computer Associates. So THAT’S who it was! About that time, an email came in from CA informing me that they had automatically billed my card for renewal. I did buy CA’s Anti-Spam package last year, but I do not recall authorizing them to automatically renew.

I got on CA’s website, and found a toll-free number. After waiting about 15 minutes on hold, I ended up speaking to some hoser with a heavy middle-eastern accent. Why do all these companies outsource to the Middle East?? Why do we support those people? 99% of them would just as soon see us all dead. Anyway, I told him I had not authorized the automatic renewal, which he debated, of course. I then rather emphatically told him to cancel the order and refund the money, which he did. At least he says he did. It will take 7 to 10 days to “process” the refund, and have it show up in my account. If it doesn’t I guess I’ll just have to get the cruise missiles ready.

Now, I’ve got to apply for a new PayPal debit card, and transfer the money back. Sometimes I wonder if all this Internet / Computer “convenience” is worth it.

I’ll have some photos of the new system soon.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

New Computer Coming Soon

Well, the new barebone system arrived today. This thing is going to be an industrial strength smokin' beast! I've begun construction this evening, but I'm not going to rush this one. I'm checking everything twice (at least), and taking it slow and easy. I want everything to be perfect.

I have the motherboard and power supply mounted, and the DVD/RW drive is mounted in the case. I'm using an old floppy drive I pulled from another system; the only "off the shelf" bit of hardware in this machine. I've taken the bezel off the front of the drive, cleaned and lightly sanded it, and applied several coats of black paint to match the rest of the case. I'll put the drive back together tomorrow night. I don't have a lot of uses for a 3.5 inch floppy anymore, but I'm putting one in just in case. I still have a few floppy disks laying around.

This case has two places for 120mm fans, so I'll pick up a couple fans at Microcenter tomorrow, or over the weekend. The front fan will draw air directly over the hard drive cage which will be home for two 320-gig drives. This case has a clear side, so I think I'll put an illuminated fan in the rear fan mount. It's gotta look cool, ya know.

I'll be adding some photos to the March News (which I hope to create this weekend after the funeral), and a step-by-step description of the construction.

I got an email today from a lady that did some modeling for me about 12 years ago. She's getting married in August, and wants me to do the wedding photos. She's buying my Budget Package. I may post a link to my wedding prices shortly, in case anyone else would like to have me shoot their wedding. My prices are quite reasonable. Stay tuned.

Saturday is the funeral for my step-mom. I hope it's the last one for many, many, many years. I'm tired of funerals. I'm tired of saying good-bye to loved ones. But I guess it's part of life - albeit a painful part. But I'm ready to take a break from it for a while.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another Quick Late-Night Update

Just a few quick notes tonight....

The funeral is set for Saturday. I'll be one of the pall-bearers, as I have for the last several funerals I've attended. Over the last few years, I've had to help carry far too many friends and family members on thier final journey. I hope I can take a break from it for a few years.

Things have been really stressful the last couple of weeks. In addition to the family crises, it's been nuts at work. The tech that works downtown is gone for a week of training, so I'm getting all his calls - downtown - as well as my own.

The new computer kit should be here Thursday. UPS tried to deliver it today, but with Jo in helping her mom, there was no one to sign for it. She's back home tonight, so they will deliver it tomorrow. I picked up a USB keyboard for 15 bucks yesterday to see if it would work on this goofy AMD machine. It works fine, but as always when I think of a way around a problem, fate has a way of defeating my work-arounds. Now, the wireless mouse doesn't work. The mouse that came with my Wacom tablet does work, but I don't like it as well. You have to keep it within the 4 X 5 inch tablet area. I'm used to using as much table top as I need. But it will suffice until I get the new machine up and running.

The new computer will run at 2.8 ghz, will have 2 gigs of RAM, two 320-gig drives, XP-Pro, and of course a double-layer CD/DVD burner. And that's just the start. I'll be adding more goodies as we go along. My overall goal is to have two good systems and get rid of all this halfway-working junk. I'll probably get a Powerspec system from Microcenter a little later on. It will run Vista and will have 2-gigs of RAM, and a 320-gig HD.

Now, it's time for me to get my fool butt to bed.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

What am I Doing Wrong??

Now, in addition to everything else going on in my life (or what’s left of it), my stereo that I bought less than a year ago just shot craps, and now this idiot computer is starting to act stupid again. It drops the keyboard after a while, and the only way to get it back is to shut down and reboot. What the hell am I doing wrong??

I have ordered my new computer (barebone kit) from Tiger, so hopefully I'll have a fully functional computer again soon.

Another Farewell...

This will be a short, sad post.

This morning my step-mom Margaret passed away. She had stopped breathing, and the nursing home had called the paramedics. They were doing CPR as they left the nursing home, but to no avail. She passed away on the way to the hospital. My dad is doing ok for the moment, but it’s going to be a tough week. For all of us.

Jo’s mom is doing better. She was released from the hospital Friday, and was even able to go to a birthday party in Olathe for her and little Josh, her great-grandson.

Someday, maybe I can post something happy here. I’m sure getting tired of this never-ending tragedy in the family.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

February Wrap-Up

It’s been one hell of a month. I sure hope March is a little better. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

The situation with my step-mom is pretty much the same. She’s in a nursing home, now, and the chances of her getting any better are slim to none. My dad is coping as best he can, and is getting all the paperwork taken care of. It’s tough on everyone concerned, but especially on him.

Jo’s mom is doing much better, and will most likely be released from the hospital on Friday. Her cardiologist told her he doesn’t want her driving for a while, so she’ll need to be taken to the store, and wherever else she needs to go. Jo’s brother can’t drive, and he and his wife have their hands pretty full with his father-in-law who is staying with them until he can move into an assisted living apartment. So it’s pretty evident who will be doing most, if not all, of the driving.

Free time is going to be at more of a premium than ever before. What did I say about hoping things would calm down a bit in ’08? So much for that.

I still hope to get a few things accomplished this year, but I guess I’ll just have to take it day by day.

One day, I hope to post an entry that doesn’t include about 90% chaos.

Tomorrow is the last day for the Playboy Back Issues page. In a way, I'll be glad to not have to mess with it any more. A big part of the reason I say that is reflected in an e-mail I received today:

I'm interested in purchasing a copy of July 1997 Playboy. What would the price be?

Name Withheld

I don't mind answering questions from prospective customers, but is it really that difficult to actually look at the page with the magazines listed?? If N.W. would have given the page even a cursory glance, he'd have seen that the only issue in stock from 1997 is the May (05-97) issue. And the price is clearly stated below each thumbnail. I don't mean to sound grumpy or anything, but I do sometimes get tired of answering questions that are already answered on the site. Then half the time, when I do send a reply, they never respond, or send an order.

I'll also be closing the darkroom section at the end of March. With the advances in digital photography, it seems no one wants to spend time in a dark room with funny-smelling chemicals anymore. And that includes me. At any rate if anyone is interested in darkroom gear, take a look. And the prices are clearly marked - so don't send me an e-mail asking "what would the price be?" ;-)

I'll be uploading the rest of the website updates tomorrow night, but in the meantime, the latest news section has a "sneak peek" of the new look!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And The Beat Goes On.........

Getting "beat" into the ground, that is.

it is Wednesday morning, and I have, shockingly, a bit of a break between service calls. The last few days, it has been extremely busy. I have been running about two days' backlog, on average. I've had a little relief this morning; Nate took two of my calls - thanks, Nate.

I am, at this particular moment wishing I could find somewhere to hide and sleep for about three days. I am beyond exhaustion. Last night, we had to rush in to Jo's mom's for another medical emergency. She had passed out the day before, and was still feeling poorly, nearly passing out twice the next day. We ended up calling an ambulance to take her to the hospital to be checked out. The folks at the hospital were great, but it took nearly three hours to get results from all the blood tests and x-rays. Everything looked all right, but they decided to keep her overnight for observation. We didn't get away from the hospital until after midnight. Most of this evening after work will, I'm sure, be devoted to this latest medical issue.

I have the latest updates to the website all done, and hopefully I'll have time to upload everything Friday night in time for the new look for March. I have a lot of other things I'd like to accomplish, but with all the neverending medical issues in the family, I don't know if I'll get any of them done - or even started.

I have one day of vacation time left, and about 12 hours of "floating" holiday time. The vacation recycles in May, I think, and unused time does not carry over. So I'm going to take a Monday and Tuesday off in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I can get through those four days without seeing the inside of a hospital. or doctor's office.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What a February...

Well, here it is, over halfway through February already. It's been a heck of a month. Once again, the Medical Crisis Troll has dropped by, and left a wake of chaos and stress. My step-mom had a stroke, and has been incapacitated to the point that she has had to go into a nursing home. It's been hard on my dad, and on us. He's now alone in their house, and not knowing quite what to do with himself. We've been having him over for dinner every so often since he lives close. Of course it's complicated things for us even more than they already were. We now have two older parents to look after. It never ends.

It's also been a crappy moth where the weather is concerned. This whole winter has been rather severe - lots of bitter cold, snow and ice. So much for global warming. I'm so sick of this cold, gloomy, icy, snowy stuff I'm ready to scream - or move to Hawaii.

I've completed the updates to the website for March. There will be a new look, and a couple other small improvements. The Playboy Back Issues section will be removed, and I'll probably do away with the Darkroom Stuff section as well. With digital photography, there seems to be little interest in doing your own developing and printing, or other home darkroom processing. I'm hoping to get some other areas of the website going pretty soon. It's just working in the time to work on it in between all the other chaos that seems to pervade every aspect of my life anymore. Oh, well....

With any luck, spring will get here in a couple months. I can't wait to break out the grill!


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Good News – for a Change

Well, today, Jo, her Mom, and Yours Truly had our medical checkups that we didn’t get last month because our doctor was sick! At that time, we had blood drawn for all the lab tests. Today, we all got the results: A clean bill of health for all of us! Thank you, Jesus!

I was really sweating out the PSA because it’s been well over 10 years since I had that screening done. It was below 1 which is excellent. The doctor also did the other part of the prostrate screening, the DRE. Now, if you don’t know what “DRE” means, ask a doctor or Google it! Sorry, I’m not gonna ‘splain it here. Suffice it to say it’s a tad embarrassing. At any rate the doctor said everything was fine, and I’m in good shape. Well, my triglycerides are a little high, so it’s lay off the fatty stuff (i.e. the good stuff) for a while. Bummer.

Anyhow, I guess I’m just too damn ornery to have anything wrong with me. And I can live with that!

Now that THAT is out of the way, I’m going to be ordering my new barebone kit sometime very soon. I’ve got a lot of things I want to accomplish this spring and summer, with the computer center, the website, and the house. I’m looking forward to a busy and fun spring – if all this crappy cold weather and snow ever goes away!


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Same Old Same-O

I had hoped that the new year would bring some peace and tranquility along with it, but things have been anything but peaceful and tranquil. It’s been absolute chaos at work. I’ve been getting slammed pretty much ever since coming back to work from my eye surgery last November. And it’s getting busier and busier instead of calming down. It seems like every time I close out a call, two more come in to replace it. I just can’t get caught up. Add to that the one or two customers that call in almost every day, and it becomes very frustrating, very fast.

And, of course there are the constant medical crises that just won’t ease up. My step-mom is now in the hospital with a stroke, and it doesn’t look very good for her recovery. It’s just one damn thing after another. Last week I had an appointment with our family doctor – along with Jolene and her mom – for a general check-up. We had to reschedule for this week because our doctor was sick. He had us go ahead and get blood tests done, and we’ll get the results Thursday. I had blood drawn for a number of checks, including PSA. Frankly, the way things have been going, I’m scared to death to find out the results Thursday. I can only hope for the best. I’d pray about it, but I’m not really sure anybody is listening.

Enough with the bad stuff.

I’m hoping to do a little re-design on the website, although I’m not sure when I’ll find the time. I’m trying to learn a little bit about CSS stylesheets as that would make things a lot easier to update. I’m still using pretty much basic old HTML. It’s been a challenge to try to learn anything new lately. Maybe someday.

I’m working on some new art for the site, and am hoping to add a section where I can (hopefully) start doing some portrait work, and bring in a little income with this website. I sold a few Playboy back issues a couple weeks ago to a gentleman in Australia, but that section is pretty inactive overall. I had intended to take it down at the end of January, but the sale I mentioned encouraged me to leave it up until the end of February. Last week, someone e-mailed me asking for the price on 4 issues (never mind the prices are clearly stated on the site). I replied with the information he wanted, but I guess he decided since I wasn’t going to just give them to him, then ship them for free, he really wasn’t interested. I never got a reply from him. That’s pretty much all the interest they get anymore, so I’m not going to waste my time or server space on them after this month. If you want any of them, get them now – but I’m not going to just give them away.

Hopefully, I can post a more positive entry sometime soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another "Quickie" Update

I just thought I’d stick a quick update here tonight.

It’s been too bloody cold here to do a whole lot, so I’ve been fiddling around with some ideas for the website for the coming months.

Inspired by the moronic topics of most news these days, I’ve added a “Random Headline Generator” in the menu to the left (if you’re on my website). If you’re reading this blog and wonder what the dickens I’m talking about just go to and it will all become clear. At any rate, you can waste some time generating your own headlines featuring some of the most popular personalities of our time.

I have decided to remove the wallpaper section permanently. I now have a section on Webshots which you can visit at: I have a few 1024 X 768 wallpapers posted there, and will add more as time goes on. If anyone is interested in larger sizes, they may be made available for a small charge.

I will soon be offering portraits drawn from your photos. These portraits will be available in pencil as well as a number of other mediums. I hope to have more information on the new feature soon.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Early Wake-Up

Well this morning things were a little exciting in the neighborhhod. A little after 8:00, we were awakend by sirens getting uncomfortably close. The house three houses to the east of us had caught fire. Not a good way to start a Sunday. I did manage to get a few photos from the back yard; you can see them by clicking the title above, or the January link on the left (if you're on my site). I heard that they had to take a lady to the hospital - hope she's OK.

In other news....

I did finally get a useful response form someone at Canon regarding my transparent sheet issue. They gave me a phone number (non-toll-free of course) for the parts department, and said I could order the sheets. I might, but in the meantime, I've found a plastic sheet that works just as well. It's the plastic liners you use in 3-ring binders to put documents in. New ones (with no wear) can be easily cut to match the original sheet, and work just fine.

I had a couple appointments with my eye doctors last week, and everything is looking good. My eye surgeon, Dr. Dyer, took me off the eyedrops I've been using since November, and said the eye is doing very well. I have another appointment Monday with Dr. Moyes. And I have an overall checkup scheduled for the 25th with our family doctor. Jeeze - I'm about ready to take a break from all the medical stuff for a while. I'm not at all used to being the subject of all the medical attention. I'm usually the guy that taxis everyone else to doctors' appointments.


Monday, January 07, 2008

First Entry of 2008

Last weekend was a pretty decent one. The cold temperatures moderated enough to melt most of the snow and ice from the last several storms. Saturday was relaxing, and Sunday was a great day as well. We enjoyed a BBQ lunch with a couple of our insulator collecting buddies, Pat Scott from St. Louis, and Pat Barkwell, who lives a bit closer – about 5 minutes, actually. We gotta get together more often! Pat & Pat are not only great guys, but they actually read my nonsensical missives!

I had another appointment with Dr. Dyer today, to check on how my eye is progressing. He was very pleased with how it’s healing. I don’t go back until April for my next checkup. I have an appointment tomorrow with Dr. Moyes, and we’ll probably look into a prescription for new glasses. I know one thing – I’m going to get two pairs. One for distance (i.e. driving), and one for close-up stuff like reading, working with the computer, and other closeup work. I tried bifocals last time, and I don’t really like them all that much. They’re OK for things like driving, but for reading or computer work, I have to look through the bottom of the lenses. I don’t like having to tilt my head back to see my computer screen. I know it will be more expensive, but my neck will feel a lot better!

I’m going to be looking into building a new computer soon. I want to put together a system with a lot of power and storage for my graphics. The AMD machine is going on a couple years old, and is starting to be a little persnickety. I’m starting to get more and more indecipherable error flags, and it’s beginning to look like time for another format and reload – for about the 5th time. The old Gateway 700 W98 machine is pretty much useless for anything more than typing a Word document.

Anyway, it’s time for me to get my butt to bed and rest up for another fun day fixing copiers tomorrow.