Travels and Images

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Picture of the Week

Sunday 28 April 2002
Saturday's drive up to my Dads' was OK. The traffic was fairly light, and for most of the way we went by way of the 99, rather than the I-5. The 99 is an older freeway, with more winds and turns since it was built over an old 2-lane highway, but more interesting than the I-5. An interesting link to live freeway conditions in California is here .

We watched "Tin Cup" with Kevin Costner last night, on the FX channel. It's a good movie, that they stretched into a three hour time block, so the commercials were as long as the movie. And in the middle of the ultimate scenes, where Costner "blows up" at the 18th hole, they cut to five minutes of commercial, completely ruining the suspense of the scene.

Now, as I tell people, TV is about money. 'News shows' are not about real  news, they are ways to sell deodorant. Sitcoms are to sell cars. Movies are to sell...whatever. Trojan condoms and adult diapers come to mind from last night. It's ludicrous sometimes, but not something to get upset over...

There is an old IOWA class battleship in the mothball fleet just up the Sacramento river. My brother Bob has purchased some tickets to go on a sightseeing tour with a local fisherman later today, so that should be interesting. I'll post some pic's later if they turn out OK.

Because I haven't posted any good pictures of myself, I am apparently "mysterious". I like that. But in the interests of clarification here is a picture of myself and all my siblings in an only slightly dated picture. I'm the one in the transporter beam. Man, I loved that belt buckle - it had a gold horse on it as I recall...

Monday 29 April 2002

Monday Mike and I traveled back to Lancaster, via the I-5 and assorted state highways. It's always tough heading back, but the job calls... It was a fairly routine trip - moderate traffic. We did see one car upside down in a drainage ditch, surrounded by emergency personnel. Remember what that police sergeant on Hill Street Blues used to say? Be careful out there. Good advice, even from a fictional character.

Sundays battleship viewing was fun. It was the U.S.S. IOWA herself, BB-61 , built in World War II, and serving up to Desert Storm. She is laid up in the "mothball fleet" in the Sacramento river, just north of Martinez. They apparently fill the interior with de-humidified air to prevent rust on the inside, and do various things with sacrificial cathodes and currents to the outside of the hull, to prevent corrosion there. Eventually she will be a tourist attraction in San Francisco, near Fisherman's Wharf!

U.S.S. IOWA, BB-61

On a smaller note, one of the passion fruit cuttings in the back yard has a little tiny bud on it. So, there is hope for the butterfly's in Martinez!

Tuesday 30 April 2002

Tuesday was a long day. Left the house in the morning at six thirty-ish, returned eleven-ish at night. Some friends are going to Hawaii for a week, so I am watching their dogs starting Wednesday. Also helped set up their digital cameras, saving the current pics onto the hard drive and CD, and loaning my 128MB cards.

While buying some ethernet cable at Circuit City last week I also picked up an APC 500VA UPS for $39 - hey, the price was right. But, looking at the receipt, a friend has pointed out that they charged me $59. I've had a lot of trouble with CC lately - bad drives, etc. Unfortunately there isn't a FRY's in town, the nearest is at least an hours drive. So, when I get a chance, I need to swing by and get my $20.

Talked with a friend about his imminent computer purchase. I'm no expert, but it looks like Gateway and Dell have pretty nice systems. I priced an equivalent system to what he was looking at, using good but not exceptional prices on-line, and came out to the same $1300 or so. Since they get bulk discounts they are still making money, but it must be a fairly thin margin these days. A few years ago I could have trimmed 30% off their prices by buying components online.

Wednesday 1 May 2002

Well, another long day, but not as bad as Tuesday. Work is proceeding apace, that is, slower than we would like, but we're trying,  we're trying...

The dogs were here when I got home. Taffy and Bonnie, bounding about the back yard. They were very happy to see me - as were the cats (indoors). Riley leaped into my arms, purred, then bit me. Which means: "Staff person - make the loud big creatures go away!"  Phoebe is as concerned, but less violent. They'll just have to get used to it. You remember the joke, right?

"Dogs have masters.
Cats have staff."

Phoebe is a little under the weather,  upchucking food once in a while. He's such a pig that it's not really a surprise. I asked a knowledgeable friend, whose opinion is that it's probably a hair ball or such, and to add some vegetable oil to his food to loosen things up. Well, OK. We'll see.

Portrait of the writer, shortly after policing cat vomit...solemnly considering a new career as a tennis racquet maker.

Thursday 2 May 2002

The cat, Phoebe, seems better today. Maybe the vegetable oil helped. He and Riley are still rather upset about their canine visitors, but are doing better. Now they sit at the far end of the family room and gaze out at the dogs - yesterday they barely came downstairs. I took the dogs themselves for a walk this evening, and it went well. Taffy is a bit excitable still, but Bonnie is deaf, and doesn't bark or notice other dogs as much. We always had dogs when I was a kid, and after one day I find myself saying "good dog" to the cats again....

My friend Tim is trying to fix his ' Maglight ' flashlight. The batteries leaked inside of it, and after much work he has gotten them out - but the acid has eaten away at it. A bit of Arm & Hammer baking soda should negate the acid. Interestingly, even though the batteries had burst, and made a huge mess, the light would still go on, and the little tester on the side of the batteries said they were good.

Friday 3 May 2002

Friday night. Not much going on here. Took off early - well, left at the normal time for most people, came home, mowed the rear lawn, checked the mail (nothing), checked the phone mail (nothing), and checked the email (nothing ). Hmmm. It feels odd to be not rushed to do something. Of course, I'm not alone here - there are two cats, two dogs, some crickets and whoever it is out there that wants into my PC this evening and keeps running into ZoneAlarm ....

The next couple of evenings the planetary alignments should be fairly spectacular. I should be out there now, with camera in hand - or better yet, on tripod - but am feeling lazy. I've never managed to see the planet Mercury and it's nearly at maximum elongation from the sun right now.  It's rather hazy anyway. Maybe tomorrow.

I heard a ball hit the house earlier. The neighbor kids again. Not a bad bunch, but not the greatest of fielders. If they are unlucky it went into the back yard. Taffy is a chewer - there was an old nerf ball that I found shredded this evening, as well as various bone fragments. If she finds it, it's a goner.

The back lawn has some sort of disease, spots of dead grass that seem to be growing in number - fungus? I'll have to take a picture and show it to someone knowledgeable. The list of household chores increases.  ( Married friends occasionally mutter enviously about the 'freedom' of bachelorhood. Hah! Their bachelor memories come from being twenty years old, where the check comes from Daddy, and getting up was done about 10 a.m. for one or two classes, and the 'house' was a rented apartment that they and their friends partied in.... Now I'm ticked off at the unfairness of life. Maybe I  won't do anything! )
A Partial List

  • powerwash the eave
    •     rent washer
    •     figure way out to get to certain eaves
    •     pickup ladder from friend I loaned it to
  • power wash the house
  • paint eaves
    •     buy paint
    •     buy brushes
  • paint front siding (but not the stucco)
  •     match paint
  •     buy paint
  • fix broken tiles on roof
  • move sprinkler heads near flowerbeds
  • replace bad sprinklerheads
  • finish brick around flowerbeds
  • finish flowerbed hoeing
  • apply grass block
  • buy flowers for flowerbed
  • fill in useless flowerbed on house east side
  • photograph rear lawn for an expert
  • a dump run
  • call library and extend book loans
  • check friends house
  • clean carpet
  • car oil change
  • car radiator change
  • car timing belt/plugs change
  • car smog check
  • line for weed whacker
  • whack weeds
  • clean out front flower beds
  • fix old edger or buy a new lawn edger
Note the library thing. Usually I read a book in an evening, but I've been too busy. I have Richard Pressmans'   "Tides of War" and Wm. F. Buckley's "Windfall" that I am trying to get started on, but it's hard going right now. Pressman's  book isn't as good as his earlier "Gates of Fire" in my opinion. Books about the sea usually get my attention, but I'm not really up on all the conservative dogma, history, politics and name-dropping he does. Early on Buckley mentions "Yucca Flats" and "Fernando Llamas" as being euphonious - and you know, I always thought that his own name sort of rolls off the tongue. The boat itself is the "Sealestial". Hmmm.


euphonious \yoo-FOE-nee-us\, adjective:
Pleasing or sweet in sound; smooth-sounding.

Well, enough chatter for one evening. No one loves me but the dogs tonight, so I think I'll go take them for a walk. Stalk the stars, peer at the planets,  and so on.

Saturday 4 May 2002

Some days are better than others.  Today was not one of those. It actually hurts to type so it'll be short tonight.  Some science advances:

Robot rats: rats controlled by implanted stuff. Bad idea, a bad a slippery road to start down.

Penguin Cam
: a web cam at the nort pole. Neato.

Picture of the Week

Photo notes: My father served in the Coast Guard during the second world war. In times of war it becomes an adjunct to the United States Navy, and he served on both Corvettes in the Atlantic, and on Amphibious Assault Vessels and landing barges in the Pacific Islands campaign. This is one of his ships, the U.S.S. Bayfield, APA 33, "Pride of the Amphibious Fleet". Note the radar - in official photographs this was covered up! My father says there is a little poem to go with the ship:
"I sail the big and mighty B,
known to all as Terror-33"
Upon seeing the blood running from my ears he desisted from reciting the rest, but I may never hear again. Seriously, Tom Brokaw referred to he and his countrymen as "The Greatest Generation" .  I think that's true.

Addendum: I'm told it's TARE-33 , not TERROR-33 and that if I didn't moan so loud I'd have heard better....

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