Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Believe me; that occurred to the two of us as well.
I did the math. We were just 4-tenths of a mile from the impact scene. That’s less than half a minute at 70 mph. But it had clearly happened long enough before for at least one emergency vehicle to arrive. We saw the flashing red and blue lights when we topped a rise about a half-mile from where we stopped. So it had occurred about 10-15 minutes earlier.
If not for the slow round of golf (and Mr. Talker, who made it even slower) WE might have been in the middle of it all.
Kinda gets your attention, doesn’t it? But you want pictures, right?
Okay, click HERE for the first installment. Birds!
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Now that I’ve made that distinction (have I?), I’m not sure which I am in. I’m in one or the other. I don’t feel bad, or un-cool, so it must be a groove.
Okay, now that THAT’s behind us, let me make my excuses for yesterday’s lack of post.
We actually planned our day so as to be home by about 6 p.m. PLENTY of time to unpack everything, clean up, relax, and type out a witty, entertaining post for you to read. So what happened?
Golf was slow. Well, it was a holiday, so what did I expect? Making it seem slower was the fact that we were “paired” by the starter with two very nice gentlemen and a non-stop talker.
By the third hole all the rest of us were wishing that the talker would SHUT UP already! It seemed he had a story to tell about every hole on the golf course. Plus he had funny (?) jokes and tales to tell about OTHER golf courses, both near and far.
At one point a flight of four old military prop trainer aircraft roared low overhead on their way to a fly-by at a Memorial Day service not far away. We all stopped play and watched them respectfully until they were out of sight. But then Mr. Talker had to tell us tales about how he learned to fly in an aircraft just like those before he went off to fly bombers in the Air Force. That topic kept him going for about 30 minutes.
I was tempted to let him know that I, too, had been a military aviator and had over 250 carrier landings and cat shots. But I’ve learned never to try to “one-up” a talker like that, so I held my peace.
Carol and I had planned to play 27 holes yesterday, but at the end of 18 we were tired and thought it would be nice to get home a little early, so we put our clubs in the car and drove off. We were making good time until we reached a spot on U.S. 290 about 10 miles east of Elgin, TX. Traffic came to a halt, and we could see flashing lights about a half mile ahead. We waited.
It was cloudy, so we (and everyone around us) rolled down the windows and killed the engine. We sat. No traffic moved, and the opposite lanes were empty as well. Emergency vehicles arrived from behind us, traveling on the unused westbound lanes. Then more emergency vehicles. State police. Several ambulances. A “Fire & Rescue” truck. Then a helicopter circled once and landed.
By now we had been there 30 minutes; parked. (I would have turned around, as some others did, and sought an alternate route. But with that 27-foot camper attached to my van, my turn radius wouldn’t allow it.) One or two MORE emergency vehicles came by, heading toward the scene ahead, but we couldn’t really see what had happened. After an hour, a SECOND helicopter circled and landed. Finally, one of the helicopters took off and headed southwest. Ten minutes later the second one did the same. Then, slowly, some of the emergency vehicles left heading back westbound, but without their lights and sirens.
After nearly two hours traffic began to move. It turns out we were just 4 tenths of a mile from a multi-vehicle chain reaction wreck that looked like it included a high-speed head-on collision before other cars were scattered. The worst two vehicles were almost crushed (70 mph speed limit there). There were cars and pickups upside down and in the bushes. It must have been spectacular, but deadly. We haven’t heard anything on the news about it, but I imagine it made the Austin paper.
Anyway, we made it home by dark and I had no wits left to use up on a blog post.
Sorry about the long tale. I hope you all had a great holiday weekend! You’ll get some good “Carol” pictures soon!
Sunday, May 28, 2006
I WILL say this: The golf WAS better today (so Nyah, Nyah, Nyah to YOU, Karyn), and yes, Carol took a lot of pictures while I was hacking my way out of the rough. We'll share some of those in a few days.
Tomorrow we plan more golf, and then a long drive home, so there MAY not be much of a post tomorrow either. But I'm sure you'll all survive.
Hope all of you are having a GREAT weekend.
(As you were).
Saturday, May 27, 2006
I, in contrast, typically play in the shade of trees. Typically trees are NOT in the fairway. But there IS an upside. I have developed through MUCH practice a very good "escape" shot that I use to punch out from under trees, or to aim at a narrow gap between LOTS of tree trunks. I used that shot often today.
We played two 18-hole rounds. No, I do NOT wish to talk about scores, thank you. As I think I have reported before, a score is nothing more than a number, and not necessarily ANY measure of whether or not a golfer had fun, hit some quality shots, or considered the outing a success. So please quit asking about scores.
Yes, I did struggle to keep the ball in play and get any distance off the tee. I kept trying different techniques with little success. Until, that it, the VERY LAST tee shot. On hole number 36, I hit a really good drive. I was so shocked that I put another ball down and hit it for practice. ANOTHER good drive! HA!! I've figured it out!
(Real meaning: There's SOME hope for tommorow's golf!)
Okay then. Moving right along to a different topic...
Carol took a lot of pictures today. Most of them were shots of birds. Some of them may have turned out to be pretty good, but I have to finish this post so she can download the pics from the camera to this laptop and check them on the big screen.
So, I shall now end this post and pass the computer to her. You will likely see some of her work in a few days, after we get home and she has some time to manipulate the shots with Photoshop.
That's all for today. More tomorrow!
(As you were.)
Friday, May 26, 2006
Yep, we headed out for our out-of-town weekend on schedule, stopped along the way outside of Austin at a Macaroni Grill (one of our favorite Italian Restaurants) for some carry-out, and set up our camper in time to enjoy some cannelloni, chicken parmesan, and lasagna (called “Mama’s Trio”) and a glass of red vino. Oh, and don’t forget the salads and warm Italian bread dipped in olive oil.
And this is just our first night! Hey, who ever said that camping had to be rustic? You never heard of “roughing it, smoothly?”
Tomorrow we golf in Temple, TX. The weather should be hot but breezy. I’m sure we’ll survive. And I’m sure you’re concerned, so I wanted to reassure you.
Ah, well, enough of blogging for now.
There’s another half-glass apiece of red wine in the bottle, and we’re going to slip in the DVD in a few minutes and watch a Netflix movie.
So, as the South African Goddess Michelle often says (paraphrased):
The Duke has left his blog. As you were.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Anyway, many of these people have a unique perspective on writing and publishing. And occasionally they succumb to the temptation to rant about some aspect of that industry that irks them.
Agents (and the Evil Editor) rant about authors who can’t spell (or use spell check), have no idea of plot development or characterization, or don’t know how to write a simple query letter. They also rant about scam artists who give the literary agent business a bad name. (Miss Snark was almost beside him/herself in a couple of recent posts about one. Fun to read!)
Writers, on the other hand, rant about agents and publishers. Agents demand a professional, letter-perfect query, but then many of them have differing instructions for, and examples of, what they want in that query. Many agents take 3-4 months to answer a query, and then simply send a pre-printed postcard saying, “Not right for my current list.” Worse, some never respond at all, even thought the author enclosed a stamped self-addressed envelope.
Some writers rant about agents who will accept (or even require) an email query, but refuse to open an attachment. They claim they’re afraid of viruses.
Hello? Ever hear of Norton, or McAfee? Everybody ELSE on the internet is using them, or an equivalent. PLUS, anybody who is smart enough (or dumb enough) to insert a virus in an attachment is also smart/dumb enough to insert it into the body of the email. An agent is JUST AS MUCH AT RISK if they open the email itself as they are if they open the attachment! Don’t believe me? Ask the nearest I.T. pro, or network administrator. Remember the “I LoveYou” virus? All you had to do was open the email, and you were toast.
If an agent doesn’t want attachments, fine. Tell us. But don’t use the phony excuse of fear of viruses.
Yes, many of the blogs I read contain rants about all of those things. But of course, I NEVER stoop to the level of ranting or complaining like that myself. I simply sit here in my ivory tower, secure in my knowledge that in every case I am right, and often they are wrong. Ah, the satisfaction of knowing that!
Oh, and in case you’re interested I have finished sending out queries for new representation for my first novel, while I work hard on my third. (The second, a sequel to the first, has been set aside for the present as I’m more excited about the third right now).
My present tally of queries is as follows:
Agents queried via email: 80
Agents queried via snail mail: 62
Realistic number from whom a response is still possible: 20
Number from whom a response is now unlikely: 40
(Based on the length of time since my query was sent.)
So, what could I possibly have to rant about?
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Anyway, part of the exam requires that my eyes be dilated, so right now it's hard focus on the keys and monitor. So rather than type out one of my extremely entertaining and humorous posts, I will ask you to CLICK HERE to view a little more of Carol’s backyard photography.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to focus again.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Many in the world seem to view us as an overly warlike, militaristic culture. And from some perspectives, that may be true.
I was raised and educated in the era not too long after World War II, and at that point in the 20th century our culture of a strong military was driven from our experiences in the two biggest conflicts of the past 50 years or so, plus our involvement in Korea.
Then came Vietnam. In about one decade popular sentiment shifted from honoring our war dead to disdaining most things military. But since that war, no single conflict has cost America as many slain as did the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. No, not even Iraq. Today’s attitude (in this country at least) towards our military has returned to one of respect and, generally, admiration.
As a former U.S. Navy carrier pilot, I knew men who died in the military service of their country. So Memorial Day has real meaning for me. But I do not usually participate in any special memorials or other events, and this year will be no different. For me and Carol, it will mean a long weekend and an opportunity to take our camper, get out of town, and play some golf.
We plan to drive to the Central Texas town of Belton between Austin and Waco, set up “camp,” and use that as a base from which to play golf at three different courses on three days.
The golf is not as important as just getting away for a few days. So if it rains, we’ll go anyway. You folks in New England don’t want to hear this, but if it rains we’ll probably celebrate since it has been so dry here.
Oh, and for those of you keeping track, our home telephones and air conditioner are both working fine. For now.
Based on RobotJam’s comment on yesterday’s post, I think Karyn may have been right. Now if we can just keep him from dreaming...
Monday, May 22, 2006
At 2 a.m. I awoke feeling warm. But the inside blower was blowing, and I figured it would cool off soon.
Wrong! The blower ran all night, but the outside compressor was not running so there was no cooling.
We got up early Sunday morning, cursing the “C” and planning to set up our camper in the driveway to sleep in on Sunday night, because IT has air conditioning!
I called the owner of the business who had sold and installed the A/C seven years ago. (Yes, it was a Sunday morning. Yes I know the guy's home phone number. We live in a small town, remember? Hey, the unit had a 10-year full parts and labor warranty, and it's only seven years old—why not?) My intent was just to let him know of our problem and hopefully get a serviceman out as early Monday as possible.
To my amazement he (the company owner!) said he would come over in an hour or so and take a look. He did, and it turned out to be simply an electrical connection that had vibrated loose over the years. Some corrosion had occurred as well, so he replaced the contacts and we were back in business with cool air blowing!
I intended to let all of you know about this episode on Sunday, but I thought the pictures of the fawn were more important.
(Plus I didn’t want to admit to any distress or frustration, and thus encourage the “C” to attack other electrical equipment.) But...
That turned out to be a false hope! Today, when I arrived at home after work, I found that telephone service throughout my neighborhood is non-functional. Kaput. Nada. Zilch. As I type this, we have no land-line phone service.
Now some of our neighbors (two of them, who knocked on our door to ask it WE had service) assume that an underground line may have been cut, since we do have road construction going on a few blocks away. But you and I know different, don’t we?
Hopefully the rest of you will be spared. These attacks MAY have been in retaliation for my careless “naming of names” last week. But we’ve learned from that, haven’t we? I’ll be more discrete in the future.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
First we have the ubiquitous squirrel. (Ubiquitous is a good word to add to your vocabulary. Look it up if you're not sure.)
Then we found... But wait! What kind of creature is this? Can you tell?
Well, Let's see the whole thing!
Awwwww! It's a fawn!
I know you can't tell from these photos just how small this guy is, but believe me when I say he is TINY! He's probably just one or two days old! He let us get unbelievably close and didn't look the least bit nervous or frightened. I was tempted to go over and put my hand in the picture so you'd get some size perspective, but I didn't want to spook the little guy. He probably would have let us pet him, but we worried that his mom might not like that smell on him.
Here's another shot of him:
Then Carol changed angles and managed to catch him (her?) looking at the camera.
Is that cute? Yes, you KNOW that's cute!
Saturday, May 20, 2006
I'm only going to give you a few samples. I don't have time this afternoon do do a web page layout like I sometimes do.
First, a pink hibiscus:
And here's a close up of the pistil.
Then she moved over to a white hibiscus:
Don't you love the center?
And finally, here's a shot of a flower found in MOST back yards:
Most people try to get rid of the dandelions, but that bug sure seems to like this one.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Yesterday, when I wrote my “C” post, I started out to use as many words beginning with “C” as possible. I was having a lot of fun with different combinations, including using misspellings (words that really started with “K,” and “CH” words that, though spelled correctly, didn’t sound like “C.”)
Then I began to think of some of my regular readers and commenters (especially YOU, Pointmeister—and sure enough you came through for me!) who would undoubtedly do a better job at it than I would. Plus I thought it would be fun for you to do it. And you might try to out-do each other!
So I thought, “OK, I’ll just sprinkle in a few “C” words here and there, then emphasize them so it’s not TOO subtle, and I’ll bet I get comments back that are completely “C” words, or nearly so.
AND YOU DID IT! YOU’RE THE BEST!
A lot of blogs I’ve browsed through are kinda “blah.” You’ve all seen them too. But when a blogger is consistently pretty creative and clever I keep coming back to his/her site. I guess that’s why my regular blogroll is full of writers and artists and other smart people.
So if you’re reading this, you’re obviously smart. So feel good about yourself. (That’s an order.)
In fact, my readers are SO creative that TWO (not one, but TWO) of them have dogs who write their own blogs. If you don’t know who they are, you’ll just have to go down my list and check out what you find.
Oh, as for RobotJam’s concern that I might be part of the “C,” and that my blogroll (many of YOU) are also part of it... Well, as most of you know I’ve only been blogging about this “C” phenomenon for a little over a year, but the activity I describe has been going on for decades. Maybe centuries!
(Besides, I think RobotJam may be just a little unbalanced at the moment. If you disagree, check out his post of today concerning left handed burglars and polar bears. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, that’s why I wonder about him.)
Thursday, May 18, 2006
(Just ignore the bold-letters in the above sentence. It doesn’t mean anything. Making those particular letters bold was just an accident.)
The phenomenon to which I refer has been named by RobotJam as something called RenaissanceRevivalRenewal- RemissionResistentialismRegurgitationReprimandRecidivism (again ignore the bold letters, please). It describes events that seem to be coincidental until viewed with the broader perspective of someone who has recognized them for what they are.
Those events are invariably frustrating, annoying, and often quite expensive to make right again. They seem to occur in series, connected (if you can only see the link) through wires and pipes and even the airwaves (infrared and radio, among other frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum).
If you are STILL in doubt as to my subject, please re-read yesterday’s post and the comments. If you like you can also browse back through the months since I started this blog and read the lengthy chronicles including lists, details, and methods of communication. The extend of this activity in our lives, our homes, our cars, plumbing and appliances will astound you; and you too will become convinced that this “C” is happening all around you.
Ah, but my alert readers have ALSO determined (through extensive experimentation, no doubt) that if the “C” remains unacknowledged and unmentioned, it often will lie quite dormant for extended periods of time. It has been suggested, out of sincere concern, that I leave the subject quite alone!
Others have found that just naming this scourge, or (worse) expressing the frustration and annoyance it brings, actually FEEDS it! I have been cautioned to desist. I have even been threatened!
Now M.E Ellis seems actually frightened at the thought of our lives being controlled by this vague force. Michelle of South Africa understands, having been affected by this thing for years, and thinks that code or secret language might help.
Thus my refusal today to name the “C” outright. I will try to continue in that vein for as long as possible. So all of you regulars will know when I make reference to the “C” just what I’m talking/writing about. Right?
OK then. We’ll just call it “C” and give it NO satisfaction.
Comprende? Of course you do.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
No email. No Internet. Best of all, no annoying phone calls from vendors, bankers, and parasites. Worst of all, no calls from customers!
It was a great chance to get caught up on paperwork and things that had been pushed aside while dealing with the immediacy of electronic communications. I did miss the opportunity to make a few outgoing calls and check occasionally for emailed blog comments, but I knew that when I got home all would be there waiting for me.
This cut line evidently carried long distance telephone traffic that originated from cell phones also, since we couldn’t call out on our cell phones either.
Of interest to me was the degree of dependence we have apparently developed to electronic communications. There were a significant number of office people who wandered around as if lost, unable to perform their normal routines.
By 2:00 p.m. all was back to normal and the break repaired. But if it were not... If for some reason it had required a week or more to get things back to “normal”... I wonder what changes we would make in the way we go about our daily jobs.
The old adage is true: you never really appreciate something until you’re forced to do without it.
Monday, May 15, 2006
In the process I frightened RobotJam, created a jealous outburst from Pointmeister, got a request for more sex pictures from my daughter Christina (really, Chrissy!!), had a mouthwatering mention of a picnic and Burgers from Kirsten, received a mention of a mystery gift from Cali to someone NOT her mother (although with Cali, the gift isn’t too much of a mystery,) a blog promo from Miss Cellania's new site, and a rave about my wonderful wife from Michelle! Don’t I have the best bunch of blog commenters you ever saw? Anyway, Carol has been back at it with the camera and the birds. Here’s a sample of her latest:
He's trying hard to get away from the camera. You know, some birds are like people -- they don't like having their picture taken. Then the thought struck him: "If she thinks I'm an ostrich, maybe she'll go away. I'll hide!"
But Carol took his picture anyway. And after a bit he decided it was getting difficult to breathe so the struggled to regain his dignity and stalked off under a cypress tree.
Kinda hard to camouflage a snow-white bird.
Later we came home to find the backyard birdbath all a-twitter with stories about a female grackle who had found some dry dogfood that was laced with wine! And the more she ate, the more tipsy she got. Carol waited, camera at the ready, and caught this shot of her bringing in her umpteeneth helping.
Well, I've tried to uplaod the shots, but Blogger suddenly stopped uploading pictures. Click HERE to see the sequence.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I'm very fortunate that my own mother is still alive (and yes, though she lives half a continent away, I called her and reminded her how much I appreciate her), and that I live with the mother of my two children (one of whom is a mother herself!)
And I'm ESPECIALLY blessed that I'm married to a woman whose idea of a Mothers Day treat is to be taken out to the local golf course to play 18 holes!
Ha! Eat your hearts out, guys!
Saturday, May 13, 2006
We had temps in the mid 80s with a little breeze to keep things tolerable. We figured it would be a slow round, so we took the camera in case any fawns or other critters showed up.
Last year at this time, you may remember, we saw lots of fawns at our golf course. We took pictures. But that was back before we went DIGITAL, so by the time we developed the film and scanned in the images to display, a few weeks had gone by. This year we're primed and ready with our nice two-lens digital outfit, and there's not a fawn to be seen.
Here's what we DID see. It's in keeping with Carol's current craze about birds. This guy is called a "Great Egret."
He stands well over three feet tall, and is usually wading around in the shallow water hazards seeking small minnows or frogs for dinner.
He's actually fairly tame and allows you to approach to within about 15-20 feet unless you're making sudden moves, or appear threatening.
If that happens he seems to move in slow motion, spreading his wings (which can span out to nearly five feet!), bending his knees, and gently taking to the air.
Oh, that's right. A picture is worth a LOT of words, right. So here's what he looks like taking flight.
And yes, that scraggly looking trail in the background is one of our course's cart paths. Yes, they really look that bad.
Oh, if you would like to read a more entertaining post, check out Valkyrie's blog post for today called "Post on Toast" (I don't know why).
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Blogger might just shut me down if enough people complain. And as Valkyrie pointed out, there were probably a lot of teens who were disappointed after Googling “sex” and “XXX” and browsing my post yesterday.
But you see, I’m REALLY trying to distract the unwanted attention I’ve drawn to myself lately by posting about the, um... well... the “C” word.
I mean, did you notice the comment left by RobotJam? If you missed it, he said, “Duke, I'm not making this up but both our HP printers at work stopped working the day after you posted this.” (He was referring, of course, to my post of last Monday.
Then there was Christina, who alertly pointed out, “I think you're right about HP. Remember my story about the daily breakdown of equipment at my work? Every one of the devices that stopped working at a crucial moment was hooked up to a HP printer. Hmmmmmmm...”
Oh, and speaking of Christina, she called me yesterday from the side of the road in Tampa. Her minivan ran out of gas. She had called her husband Johnny to come bring her enough gas to get to a station. He packed up their baby (my grandson Trevor!) and drove (miles!) to her stalled car. Then he learned that the plastic milk jug in which he was carrying gas had a crack in it and had leaked gas on his car’s carpet.
By the time she got going again over an hour had elapsed. She drove one block, and there, just around the corner and out of sight, was a gas station. She could have walked, bought a gas can and fuel, walked back and been going again in 5 minutes.
Somehow, I’m sure, ALL THAT can also be ascribed to the resistential forces at work causing us misery and extra expense.
Ah, but there I go again! In my zeal to keep all of you informed of the conspiracy’s progress I have AGAIN drawn attention to my blog, and thus to my home, computer equipment, plumbing, appliances and vehicles.
I’ll stop now. Have you heard the Rodney Akins song, “If You’re Going Through Hell?”
If you're going through hell,
Keep on going, Don't slow down,
If you're scared, don't show it.
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there.
My point? Maybe if I quit talking about "it" now, it won’t notice that I’ve been doing so and I can come away unscathed.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Well, THIS time you'll see. I've even got pictures! I've got dialogue; before, during and after!
This is NOT for those who are easily offended by graphic displays of love-making.
So, if you think you're adult enough, and ready for some real XXX-rated material, just click the link below.
WARNING: NO ONE UNDER 18 ADMITTED!!
Okay, if you're ready. And if you really want to chance it...
ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
But I have been! Thinking, that is. About yesterday’s post and the comments all my alert and sensitive readers have provided. You’ll notice THEY believe I’m capable of thought, for the first two ask if I have “considered.” (So THERE, Carol!)
Anyway, I’ve begun to wonder if Hewlett-Packard isn’t somehow behind, or at least involved it, this conspiracy. From their web site I attempted to initiate SIX different “chats” with their technicians about my problem. My frustration level grew in exponential bounds as time after time the chat software failed soon after the greeting and introductory phase.
Then HP would rub my face in the fact by sending me an email pointing out that “due to technical problems” the chat had failed. Like I didn’t know! Oh, sure, they apologized. But then they invited me to try again. And being a sucker, I did.
After the third iteration of this cycle I began to suspect that they were laughing at me.
“Let’s see how many times we can entice this sucker to try to chat with us and then cut him off in mid-sentence.” (Snicker, snicker.) “Yeah, then when he’s getting really hot we can keep chatting with him, but lead him on a wild-goose chase involving massive software downloads and registry edits which won’t do any good!” (Heh, heh!) “Oh, yeah! Good one!!”
Well, they’ve got to get SOME entertainment on a Saturday afternoon shift, right? I mean, it’s probably 3:30 a.m. in Sri Lanka where they’re sitting in front of their monitors earning 15 cents per hour playing games with Americans too dumb to Google their problem first.
Maybe THEY are the ones who, as another joke on us hapless Westerners, wrote the program that controls all the electronics and plumbing and cars and appliances and hand tools and houses and so on.
On that basis I think I’ll start sending out millions of “forward to all your friends” emails calling for a boycott on Hewlett Packard. I’ll tell everyone to stop buying HP inkjet cartridges until the price of gasoline gets down to $1.50 a gallon.
THAT’LL teach ’em!
Now, to my readers who commented:
r.e.wolfe — I’m afraid a U.P.S. would just be one MORE piece of equipment for the conspiracy to screw up. Besides, most of our power outages don’t cause problems like this. (And, they cost a lot and I’m cheap!)
Miss Cellania — Yeah, an exorcism seemed like a good idea. I contacted the local Catholic Church and described the conspiracy and what it affected and how it worked. Their priests told me to go away and never contact them again, lest THEY get infected.
Karyn — Yes, Google is great. How did we ever get along without it? (Btw; nice pool!)
RobotJam — Actually that’s a myth about Microsoft’s bug of the month. I have it on GOOD AUTHORITY that they award the “most annoying” prize weekly, not monthly.
M.E Ellis — Even though you’re a certified lunatic... Okay, I’ll use “nutter” if you prefer. And we all adore your lunacy! Anyway, you’re right: the forces behind the conspiracy LOVE to get us frustrated. So I try (as you indicate) not to let it show if possible. But sometimes I feel like that sketched character on your blog who’s suffering keyboard rage.
Monday, May 08, 2006
But this time, when Windows was repainting my desktop icons, a “Found New Hardware” window popped up.
“Stupid Windows,” I thought. “There’s no new hardware, and you’re acting so proud of yourself for finding it—like you sought diligently. Ha!”
I expected the notice to go away as the operating system realized its “Oops!” But no. The window informed me that it had found a “HP OfficeJet Reflash” and wondered if I had the appropriate software and drivers to make it operate.
I turned on my printer—an HP inkjet machine, connected via USB—and all the lights on its control panel flashed rapidly in alarming fashion. I turned it off and unplugged the USB cable from the computer, waited a minute, and plugged it back in. My computer went through a paroxysm of beeps and boops... and then froze. As in — locked UP. No keyboard or mouse input had any effect. I had to power down, and then back up.
Then commenced hours of frustration. If I booted my computer with the printer USB cable plugged in, Widows proudly announced its new hardware find. If I plugged it in AFTER the machine was all booted up, the operating system froze completely.
By the way, my desktop machine takes about 5 minutes each and every time to boot up completely... But that’s another story.
I checked the HP web site. Nothing. But then a live chat with a tech support rep led me through a complete download of new drivers, new printer software, and a help file telling me how to manually change my Windows registry settings. I did all of that. I manually UN-installed all the old HP software, files, registry settings, and so on. Do you think ANY of that did any good?
Of course not. (And each separate install and change required a system re-start.) Grrrr.
All of that activity occupied much of Saturday afternoon and evening. I went to bed very frustrated; sure I would need a new printer.
Then, on Sunday morning, I got smart. I Googled “OfficeJet Reflash” and found a Q&A discussion thread on some forum web site. Someone else had experienced the exact same problem and asked what to do about it. Guess what the answer was. Go on; guess.
Unplug the prnter power cord, wait a minute, and plug it back in.
Okay, I tried that. When I plugged the power cord back in, even with the power button off, several of the control panel lights flashed a time or two, then went dark. I turned ON the power button, and all the lights and controls looked normal. I plugged the USB cable back into the computer, and Windows proudly announced to me that it had just found “New Hardware” which it identified as an HP InkJet Printer!
For some reason, even though I had downloaded and installed 389 MB of updated software and drivers from HP’s web site, Windows was unable to find the correct software to operate this “new” printer it had found. I had to use the CD that came with the printer, and then go back to HP’s site and download the new software AGAIN! (Thank goodness for broadband!)
By Sunday evening, all was back to normal. No out-of-pocket expense, just most of the weekend wasted.
In the background I could hear the CONSP*RACY laughing at me. I’m sure of it.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
And several of you did. About the camera that Carol is using to get those really neat shots of birds in our back yard, that is.
We researched features and price for weeks before deciding on the Olympus E-500 SLR digital camera. It's available as just the camera body (worthless unless you have lenses that will work with it) or as a kit with one or several lens and accessory combinations.
Above is the camera itself. The picture is from the Olympus web site. The lens they're showing on it is the 14-45 mm zoom.
Here are the two lenese that came with the kit we opted for:
This one (left) is the 14-45 mm zoom. The one over on the right is the 40-150 mm zoom.
We really wanted to get a lens that would go up to 300 mm, based on our trip to Afriac 5 years ago and our attempts to take wildlife pictures from farther away, but unfortunately money IS an issue.
Let me tell you, those camera manufacturers are really proud of their longer telephoto lenses! Example: The camera kit we bought was under $1,000. Olympus' LIST PRICE for a 300 mm lens (not zoom!) for this camera is $6,999. Oh, sure, you can get it online from retailers and discounters for $5,999. And I imagine e-Bay has them for even less. But...
Anyway, since you asked... Yes! We are very happy so far with our camera purchase.
By the way: We';re getting more rain today, so don't look for a report on golf course fairway cracks. We're wimping out and staying inside!
Friday, May 05, 2006
That has happened several times over the last few months, but the line always seemed to “part” (like the Red Sea) with the actual rain passing by on either side of our town.
Communities as close as 20-30 miles away would get inches, while we got nada. Remember me telling you about the size of the cracks in the fairways at our local golf course? Well, last weekend some of them WERE wide enough to swallow a golf ball. I’m not kidding.
We could hear the faint beginnings of rumbling thunder shortly after midnight, but it wasn’t until 90 minutes later that the first drops fell. This time the clouds didn’t part—they dumped!
I’d estimate that we got between two and three inches at my house. I’ve not heard what the official rainfall total was at the airport, but it doesn’t matter because you know how thunderstorms can be. One area of town can get 6 inches, and a house just a few blocks away can get a trace.
All I know for sure is that at 6 a.m. when I left for work our front ditches were full, and there was still standing water in the yard. And I’m SURE that the first inch or two just soaked right in, since everything has been SO dry for SO long.
Tomorrow we’ll go to the golf course and I’ll report on the size of the cracks there. But if they had rainfall similar to that of my neighborhood, I’m betting that those cracks are much smaller.
(See? Sometimes it’s true that SIZE MATTERS!)
Oh, and Carol was pleased that so many of you enjoyed her pictures of the birds (both the docile ones of a few days a go and the pugnacious ones of yesterday). She spent part of today trying to capture birds in flight. Here are a few samples:
Departing the birdbath. See the water drops?
This gal is gathering nest-building material.
A sparrow in full-power, take off mode.
This guy was also gathering nest construction supplies.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
It's "Animal Planet" in my own back yard. It's got action! It's got suspense! It's got sex! (Well, not actually any sex, but a female was the cause of all of this, you can bet on that!)
I just wish we had this on video, but you'll have to put up with a series of still shots. But the commentary is good!
Carol took these pictures and described the action to me later. They are presented here in (I swear!) the same order they were taken.
I put the action on a separate web page because the pictures are just too small on Blogger.
Click HERE to see, then hit your browser's "Back" button to return. Enjoy!!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
There’s nothing sinister about that, is there? Of course not.
Unless you know something about the incidents that MAY BE related, or a common cause. YOU KNOW what I mean.
Take our good friend and golfing buddy Ruth, for example. She’s the lady who makes the fantastic wedding cakes.
Well, a few weeks ago her riding golf cart began acting up. Oh, it wasn’t a consistent problem. No, this was much more subtle. Sometimes it would work normally, but sometimes it wouldn’t accelerate properly. Sometimes it would hesitate or stutter. Sometimes it wouldn’t move at all.
The repair man diagnosed a bad accelerator and replaced it. That didn’t help. They checked all the battery and electrical connections to no avail. The final step was to replace all the batteries. That is EXPENSIVE. But it did SEEM to solve the problem... for NOW.
Then her clothes washer and dryer quit. Almost simultaneously. Yes, they were getting old, but don’t you think it’s a bit unusual for them to BOTH “go for a Burton” (that’s a British term I learned from RobotJam—pretty expressive, I thought) at the same time? She’s having to replace them.
And THEN she lost her internet connection. She, like me, is on cable and has broadband internet through a cable modem. She contacted the cable company. After trying several obvious things (“Is your cable modem plugged in and turned on? Are your network cables connected?”) they determined that she had a bad “splitter” in her cable system at her house, and told her to buy a new one. (A new splitter; not a new house.)
Or could it be another “C” word? One that starts with “con” and ends with “piracy?” And has an “s” in between?
(So be warned. “It” may be starting again.)
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Thus out of sight and thus not a threat to the birds, she has managed to capture some really excellent avian cavorting.
Click HERE to see her artistic camera work.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Okay, so I never write about hot, naked sex. I still got a lot of comments about the garbage cans.
RobotJam said I was writing a “right load of garbage this month.” Funny, that’s what the literary agents seem to think about my book as well. “Hey, Rob, you’ve got the makings of a good literary agent!”
(I wrote him back that I might TALK a lot of trash, but I don’t usually write garbage! I wonder what he meant by “a right load.” Is that the opposite of a “left load?”)
Theresa seemed to think I should take the garbage can to the metal recycler who pays me for aluminum cans. The trouble with that is there’s no profit for a recycler in galvanized steel, so they’re not interested.
Christina, however, specifically asked for an outcome. She wanted to know if the trash men did or did not pick up the flattened can.
By the way, did you notice in the close-up picture of that can that it seemed to be smiling at the camera? I think it was laughing at me. Really!
Well, Christina will be happy to know that I got the last laugh. By now that flattened piece of crumpled rusty worthless metal is buried in our local landfill. HA!! Yes, the trash men hauled it away.
I had an idea this morning about the other two cans. I think I might lay them down on their side and try to run over them with our van. THAT ought to crush them flat! And I’ll get no blisters, bruises or sore butt in the process.
But yanno, with MY luck a corner of rusty steel will puncture one of my tires and I’ll have to buy a new one. So I think I’ll be better off just hauling them to a nearby dumpster and tossing them in when nobody’s looking.
But again, with MY luck somebody will see and report me, and the police will cite me for improper disposal. Or they might arrest me on the spot, confiscate my car and haul me to jail. Then, by the time Carol bails me out I’ll have lost my job for poor attendance. We’ll be cast out of our house and have to live in the streets, searching for old metal garbage cans to sleep in to keep the rain off.
That crushed, flattened can may get the last laugh after all.
Well, in the future I think I’ll just post something about hot, naked sex.
(That’s three times I’ve used that phrase. I ought to get a whole BUNCH of weird Google hits on my blog tonight and probably some wild comments. We’ll see.)