Friday, December 09, 2011

December 2011 Update

As usual, it's been a while since I updated my blog. Last time I tried, I had nothing but problems until I tried with Firefox. Google has since done some updating to the Blogger application, so we'll see if it now works with IE9.

In my humble opinion, Internet Explorer 9 is the biggest piece of crap Microsoft has come up with - even surpassing Windows 98SE and ME..

Things have been exceedingly busy and stressful with the combination of my job, and continuing issues with my dad and Jo's mom as they both approach the end of life.

I will keep this one short, as I am using this Friday day off to try and get caught up on things - a nearly impossible task, lately.

If I ever get the time, I have a lot of new things in the pipeline for my website, this blog, and my long-neglected CafePress Store.

By the way, the data recovery on the hard drive I mentioned in my last post was not successful. I lost a LOT of artwork on that drive. That will not happen again - CDRs and DVDRs are cheap insurance...

More later...... I hope.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just a Test...

This is just a test....

I have IE 9 (beta) on my newly-rebuilt Win7 system, and Blogger doesn't like IE9 - which makes it tough to post anything. So I'm trying Firefox tonight....

I am anxiously awaiting news on the recovery procedure on my dysfunctional hard drive.... Hoping for the best....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Catching Up....

You know, every time I make a commitment to stay up-to-date on this blog, I end up getting buried when the poop hits the fan. One of these days, I'll learn to sit on the upwind side of the fan. It's a bit warmer, but it smells better...

To say the last couple of months have been stressful would be a little like saying water is wet. In addition to the situation with the very elderly and ill parents (her mom; my dad) steadily turning the last pages of their lives, there have been several things that have kept me occupied to say the least.

The first evening of July, we heard a loud crack – crack – THUD about midnight. When we checked out front, there were two giant branches that had fallen from our big old oak tree in the front yard, landing in the street. When I investigated, I found the whole inside of the tree was rotten. Though it broke my heart to have to lose the tree, I decided to have it removed, rather than risk falling on the house during the next storm.

Someone from a tree service had left a card on my mailbox a couple weeks before – after another branch had fallen from the tree – and I called him. He came out and looked at the tree, confirmed my fears about it being dangerous, and gave me a quote of $1300.00 to take down the tree and haul away all the wood. That was less than I expected so I said to go ahead with it. That was on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, he called back and told me that he and another guy from their company had looked at the tree again, and now the price was going to be $1600.00. He said was going to be a big job, and they would need to rent a Bobcat, which would coast $200.00. It was still less than I expected to pay originally, so I said OK.

The following Saturday a crew showed up and began the process. During the cutting, they managed to drop one of the branches on the fence on the east side of the driveway. “I'll make it right – I've got a really good fence guy,” I was assured. They cut down as much as they could, and took a couple days off for Independence Day. A few days later a different crew showed up to cut the rest of the tree, and clean up the yard. With about 30 feet of three trunk still standing, I was informed that they could go no further because the tree was rotted inside and full of “mud” which would damage their equipment.

I asked the fellow in charge what the next step would be. I reminded him that I was paying 1600 dollars to have the WHOLE tree removed and hauled away. He graciously knocked 100 dollars off the price, and told me he would call another man who had special equipment to take down the rest of the tree at an additional cost of $250.00. I wanted the damn thing gone, and to be done with it so I told him to go ahead.

A few days later the first guy I called showed up to collect the now 1500.00. I asked about getting the rest of the tree taken out, and he said he would call and find out what was going on. The next Sunday, he showed up with a couple other guys with a stump grinder to take out the rest of the tree. It should be noted here that the only “special” equipment aside form the stump grinder was a bigger chain saw. They cut out the tree, then halfway through the job, I was informed that “This is a 350-dollar stump, but I'll take it out for an additional $150.00 – the 250 dollars now became 400 dollars.

Well, they cut up what was left of the tree, piled the wood in the yard, and told me that someone was coming by to pick up as much wood as they could (in other words a couple people looking for free firewood). One of the guys in this last crew said he'd drop by on Tuesday, and if any of it was left, he'd take it away. As I write this, it is still there. And the fence is still damaged. My phone calls to this company calls are routinely ignored.

So, what highly professional and ethical company did I hire for the tree removal? Glad you asked. Mid-State Inc. Got that? Mid-State, Inc. If you need a tree taken out, here's my recommendation: Hire ANYBODY but these guys. Next time I need a tree taken down, I'll rent a chainsaw and do it myself before I hire these losers again.

BTW, the BBB and the state attorney general's office will be getting copies of this little story as well.

Then, shortly after all this, somehow or another a trojan managed to slip past my anti-virus and trashed my main computer. I was able to connect the C: drive to another computer with a USB adapter. I scanned the drive, and was able to recover everything of importance from it. My second hard drive – the one with about 5 years' worth of artwork and other files was a different story. I could get nothing from this drive. Yeah, I know – I should have backed everything up. I always recommend that to other, but didn't follow my own advice. It's far too easy to say “I don't have time, now, I'll get around to it later.”

I have sent that drive off to a data recovery service – which will cost me about 750.00. You can bet your bippy I'll be doing a lot of backups from here on. $750.00 will buy a bunch of USB external drives – or blank DVDs.

As far as my job goes – It's been a year since I got back from my training in Florida. I'm still in the same position as part of a crew maintaining 20 big Kodak digital high-volume printers at a site that services the financial industry. It's still a pain in the butt, I'm still on rotating shifts, but at least I have a job. And I did get a pretty decent raise. So pain or not, I'll probably be there for a while – they insist on contiuing to give my Powerball money to other people, so I guess it'll be a while until I can retire. Bummer.

I've just rebuilt my main computer (which I was planning on doing – just not right away). I put in a better video card – a Gforce 9800GT – and a new SATA 1TB hard drive. I have the old 320gig IDE drive set up as the secondary drive right now, but I'll probably replace it with another SATA 1TB drive soon. I also upgraded the machine to Windows 7 Professional. The motherboard is capable of addressing up ot 32G of RAM, and I’ll be upgrading that as well. With the graphics apps I'm working with – and plan on adding later – I'll need as much power as I can get.

I just downloaded Vue 9 Pioneer, which is a free, introductory version of Vue. Once I figure out how to use it, I'll probably start upgrading it as well. If you've seen movies like Avatar, Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 2012, or any of the recent blockbusters filled with amazing special effects, you've seen some of the things Vue is capable of. The jungle scenes in Indiana Jones, and Avatar were done with Vue.

I am also, slowly, as time, family, and my insane schedule allows, updating my website with new content, new art, and hopefully soon, an on-line store. More later...

For now, this has been a long-winded entry to try and get somewhat caught up. I will once again attempt to keep up with this blog (just in case anyone actually reads it), but there may be times when I'm absent for a while.

For now, Rod is signing out!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm (We're) Still Here.....

As I type this, it is a little after six O' Clock on May 21st, 2011. I am most pleased to announce that, at least as far as I'm able to determine, the world did not end. I'm really happy about that. For one thing I would have missed having my blueberry crepes at Bob Evans tomorrow morning. That would have sucked.

It was supposed to start in New Zealand, approximately 17 hours ago. My friend Barry in NZ reports that NZ is still there, as well.

I'm sure all the folks betting money on 12-21-2012 are happy it didn't happen, too.

I have to ask........ WTF is with all the fascination with these doomsday predictions?? Am I the only one who wants to live for more than another year or so?

No one has ever accused me of being a "Bible Thumper," but I am a Christian, and pretty much go with what the Bible passes along. Christ himself said "Ye do not know the time or day..." You don't know it, I don't know it, Nostradamus didn't know it, the Mayans didn't know it, and Harold Camping obviously didn't know it.

Quite frankly, I plan on being around and enjoying LIFE for many years - and that includes celebrating the New Year on January 1, 2013. I suggest we all take a deep breath, and concentrate on making things better for the living, instead of wasting so much time and energy on scientifically and spiritually unfounded myths.

Just my $0.02 worth.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday 05-11-11

Why does it seem like every time I get motivated to update this blog on a regular basis, "Real Life" comes along and kicks me right in the 'nads???

Between my job - which is both physically demanding and mentally challenging - and my family obligations - which seem to increase on a daily basis, I'm going in 5th gear and 17 different directions at once. All the time.

With the mother-in-law now living with my brother-in-law and his wife, the family focus is on getting her house cleaned out, and ready to be put on the market. And of course much of that work is now reserved for Saturdays - formerly my one day to attempt to relax and work on some of my projects. Last Saturday the comment was made that "It's going to take all summer" to accomplish this.... *sigh* just what I needed to hear.....

Don't get me wrong - I'm more than willing and happy to help. I've been doing so for relatives on both sides for the last 11 years or so, and mostly with little help. I certainly don't begrudge the help. But there comes a time when I need my own life back.....

I'm sitting in bed typing this on my laptop at a little after 11:00PM. I'll probably be up a little while, but I really need to get my fool butt to sleep since I have to get up at 05:00 for work. Then when I get home, I'll head over to my dad's apartment for a visit, and to provide some computer lessons. I'll probably have supper with him and some of his friends at the Fountains where he lives.

We took the Caravan back to Landmark Dodge so they could finish the work from last week. they had to order a new driver's side mirror, and get their computer fixed so they can program all the automatic locks that haven't been working. They are providing me a rental car since they couldn't finish the job last time. We got a nice Ford Escape this time. I'm not really a big fan of Fords (Mustangs excepted), but this is a cool little SUV.

Well, I've got a bunch more stuff to write about, but not tonight. I'm tired, and 05:00 comes waaaay too early!

Later!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday, 04-30-11

What a beautiful day today was!

I've had a few issues to deal with the last few days, so I waited until today to post again.

I took the minivan in to Landmark to see about getting a few things taken care of that it's needed for a while. The automatic door locks don't work, the rear wiper self-destructed, and the driver's side mirror got knocked off a couple months ago when I got a little too close to one of those ^%%%^&#$$%% construction cones - it was sitting a little farther into the road than its companions, and I clipped it with the mirror. I glued a small mirror into the old ones place, but it's just too small.

Anyway, I ended up having to take the van in to the shop on Thursday after work. They arranged for me to get a rental at the dealer's rate while they worked on mine Friday. We got a really cool Chrysler Town & Country minivan with the stow-away seats, fancy automatic side doors, and so on.



Today was a spectacular spring day, so we decided to go on a little photo safari. We went out to the White Alloe Creek Conservation Area in Parkville. What a beautiful area this is! I had no idea it even existed until I saw a photo in the Missouri Conservationist Magazine. We hiked one of the trails, and got some wonderful photos! I'll share a few below....

This is a really cool plant Jolene spotted - I love the way the sun shines through its leaves.



I used my little camera clamp on a park bench to get this shot. I wanted to close the f-stop down as much as possible, and use a slow shutter speed to capture the motion of the water.



Another angle of part of the falls.




Here's Jo with the upper portion of the falls.



And finally, a nice big flat rock in the upper falls. It looks great, but I think it needs a pretty girl sitting on it. I can fix that..... Poser to the rescue! Stay tuned...

On the way home, I stopped at Price Chopper, and picked up a pound of hamburger, and a package of hot dogs and Johnsonville brats. The charcoal grill got its first outing of the season as well. I'm still full!

Now, I'm going to work on some other projects I've got cooking in the render-oven (that's 3D art-geek talk for having a project in process).

Have an awesome weekend, and I'll C U later!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

04-26-11

Just a quick one tonight - it's late and I've got to get up at 0500AM for work.

Had another rough day at work today, but that's pretty much the rule rather than the exception. I guess that's why it called 'work.' LOL!

Had a nice dinner at Olive Garden tonight - I'm still full! Then home to relax and work on my TNA series.

C U later!

Monday, April 25, 2011

04-25-11

Well, it's another Monday... Not too bad a day at work, although I spent most of the day on one machine. I think it's fixed, though...

After I got home, we went over to Sam's Club - haven't been there in a year! We've re-stocked on some goodies, and now, it's time to relax.

I have a series running on Renderosity called "The Girls From TNA" - kind of a spy-adventure-sci-fi strip about two hot ladies working for a top secret agency known only as TNA. Yes - TNA is a play on words.

I also have the series on my website for those that are not on Renderosity. I'll post a link soon. While I'm on the subject, if you enjoy art (traditional or digital) or photography (traditional or digital) you owe it to yourself to stop by http://www.renderosity.com/ and join. It's free, and you'll not find a finer community of creative folks anywhere on the net.

In addition to my TNA series, I'm collaborating with a couple other wild & crazy guys on a improptu mini-series called "Busted." I'll explain how it got started over the next few days. But for now, I'll post a "teaser" movie poster I uploaded a couple days ago.


Now, I'm going to work on my latest installment of the TNA series. Later!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I'm Back.....

I'm back, hopefully to stay this time...

A very demanding new position at work, and incessant family issues have kept me pretty busy, as well as fairly stressed out the last several months.

Things have improved somewhat recently, and I hope to have a little more free time. For the past several years, attending to the needs of two elderly parents with health problems has taken a large chunk of my time and energy. But as I said above, things are improving somewhat.

I will try my best to keep this blog updated regularly, as a kind of running diary of the various goings-on in my life.

I am hoping to do a little more updating on my website as well.

In the little spare time I've had, I have been working with Poser 8, improving my skills, and creating art far beyond anything I've done before. I've joined an art community on Renderosity (www.renderosity.com) and have made friends with many other artists from all over the world.

If you enjoy art and/or photography, I would highly recommend joining Renderosity. It's free, and you won't find a more excellent community of artists anywhere - I guarantee it!

I have a continuing series running there called "The Girls From TNA" which is also on my website. It has become quite popular, and I'm building a good fan base.

My work with Konica-Minolta has changed quite a lot. I'm no longer in the field running calls on Segment 1-2-3-4 copiers. I am now in Production Print, as part of a crew of technicians maintaining 20 Kodak Digital High-Volume printers for a major printing client that services the financial industry. It's a very demanding position, but I'm beginning to adjust, and it seems I'm doing well at it. My annual performance review was last week, and i got an A+ review.

Well, that's all for now - I'll be back with more, and will be uploading some art and photos as well.

Happy Easter, everyone!