Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To Wait?

Or, Not To Wait?

Regarding H.R. 1.
This is a moral issue; the budget is a moral document. We can take care of the deficit and rebuild our infrastructure and strengthen our safety net by reducing military spending and eliminating corporate subsidies and tax loopholes for the rich. Or we can sink further into debt and amoral individualism by demonizing and starving the poor.
Mark Bitman - New York Times

Today was astonishingly beautiful to my eye, my heart, and to the camera.

All this, and my license renewal adventure continues like I have fallen down the rabbit hole. I gave the phone the DMV for an appointment routine another try this morning and got caught in a loop that kept sending me back to the start just as I was nearly to the point of appointment making.

Having been stuck in computer menu limbo long enough, I drove down to the DMV, found a parking spot right in front, got in the “start here” line behind 3 people, reached into my computer bag to get the paperwork, and realized I had left it on the counter at home.

I got a few things at the 99¢ store, and at Trader Joe’s, took some pictures along the way, got home and decided to try the DMV on the phone again.

After a couple of tries, I got as far as the computer voice saying that it could make an appointment on April 4th at 2:30PM. Alright! I did it. Hooray! Wait, what’s that? The voice is telling me that the appointment function is not working and I need to try again tomorrow.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

It Is What It Is

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


It’s Faster

Yesterday at the dam, listening to the water flow.

Today I thought I would get the jump on some upcoming bills and tasks. One of these things to do is renewing my drivers license.

Mount Shasta from the Hilltop Drive-I-5 overpass. 3/28/11

They want to take a picture, get a thumbprint, give me a vision exam, and collect $31.00.

Mount Lassen with the roof of Chuckie Cheese in foreground. 3/28/11

In italicized, all caps, Arial font, it is written that I should call my local DMV for an appointment. Sounds easy enough, right?

A bee visits Dorothy’s tulips on a partly sunshine day. 3/29/11

I began my ‘phone the DMV adventure’ at 10:00AM. It is now 4:42PM and I have yet to secure an appointment, nor have I spoken to a human. While I type this I am listening to some sort of garbled easy listening guitar loop from my cell phone speaker while I am on hold. If this is designed to discourage me from ever calling them again, they have succeeded. (Hangs up, diabolical torture sounds cease.)

These tulips have just about run out of time. 3/29/11

When I called this morning the computer voice stated that there would be a 22 minute wait and if I left a phone number they would call me without my losing my place in line.

That sounded better than being on hold for 22 minutes, so I gave the thing my number and went about my business, confident that the wheels were turning and my cog was coming up.

I like the smear of red inside this tulip. 3/29/11

The minutes turned to hours and I thought of driving to the DMV to wait there with a paperback book, or working on my laptop, but I really wanted to try this time saving appointment thing. I called back around 4PM and went through the talking to a computer process again. I was told the wait would be 15 know how that turned out.

Tomorrow I will do this task the old fashioned way. I will let you know how much time that takes.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Your Call Will Be Answered Shortly

Sunday, March 27, 2011

If I Go Back To College

What Shall I Major In?

Google is paying computer science majors just out of college $90,000 to $105,000, as much as $20,000 more than it was paying a few months ago. That is so far above the industry average of $80,000 that start-ups cannot match Google salaries.

Of course I will be an ‘older’ employee, not likely to stay with the company for the next 30 years. But the younger fresh out of school employee’s aren’t likely to stay very long either. If they are the entrepreneurial type, they will be off in a year or 2, to start their own company.

The river a couple of weeks ago, and the river yesterday.
It looks like they lowered the bridge.
A picture of ‘A’ building, and me standing where I took it from.
Yesterdays rainbow hung on for about 45 minutes.
Today’s rainbow followed me home from Trader Joe’s.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;


Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Am Glad I Can Have A

Change Of Heart

A day, or two ago I had written the draft of a new post for this blog while I was in a bad mood. I took offense at something I read, and proceeded to tear it to shreds with logic, facts, and reason in a carefully constructed tirade, punctuated with graphics, graphic images, and links to actual research.

Ooh, I was jamming that silly right wing tripe right back into the orifice it came from. At least that’s what I thought while I was compiling the real facts and figures so that no one would be fooled by the likes of Fox commentators or the Koch brothers propaganda blitz ever again.

Luckily, somewhere down in my conscious well of thoughts and feeling there was a tiny light of good sense that suggested I wait and see if publishing that post was really the best thing to do. After all, who am I to take away the cable news and crazy email generated fear that grips many of the people I know?

I feel better, now that the grumpiness has passed and I didn’t sully this little piece of cyberspace by posting frustration driven illustrations of how some factions are succeeding in misleading the marginally informed.

I hope you enjoyed the beautiful tulips from Dorothy’s garden.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Dam

Dam Power Point Presentation
Sheri Harral clarifies a question from Rose.

The Treehouse Senior Apartments were the place to be at 2 PM this Tuesday if you wanted up to date information and an in depth presentation about Shasta Dam.

Sheri and Antoinette, from the Bureau of Reclamation.

The current release of 50,000 cubic feet of water per second in response to rapidly rising Lake Shasta levels has combined with already flood stage streams and tributaries on the Sacramento river to bring the water levels up to their highest since 2006.

The timing was perfect for this previously scheduled presentation about Shasta Dam at the Treehouse Senior Apartments. Sheri Harral answered questions and concerns from the residents who came to be entertained, informed and enlightened.

Sheri spoke with animation and enthusiasm while Antoinette put life into the logistics, facts, and the people who worked to build the dam. I was sold, motivated, energized, and headed up to the dam to take a few pictures of the big release.

There were more people coming and going to the dam than I usually encounter, and they were interested in sharing their past experiences with Shasta Dam. I took a few pictures of one couple, with their cell phone, and the lady took some pictures of me with my Lumix TZ1. Next stop, for me, was the visitor center, (inside and out), where there are some nice photo locations.

Outside (the visitor center)

Inside (the visitor center)

It was quite a sight and the sound was impressive. And to think that I almost missed the power point presentation except that someone, (Erma?), was thoughtful enough to stick a reminder in my apartment door frame. What a good day.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Unexpected Interesting Input

Monday, March 21, 2011

Staying Even


Earlier today, (Sunday), while I was still in Richmond, Marian and I played a few favorite tunes, just for fun. The most appropriate song, I thought, was Night And Day, by Cole Porter; “Night and day, they feel the same - length of minutes left between the sunlight and moonlight game.”  

Not exactly the words to the song, but I guess it’s better than rhyming socks with equinox.

Pretty silly stuff, especially since the song I played around with for 2 hours on the drive up to Redding was; That Old Black Magic. Oh well, I guess spring has got me in it’s spell.

Marians’ house was cozy and solid while the storm raged outside. Double pane glass really kept out the sound of the city, and except for a couple of lightning strikes that were real close, even the thunder was muted and didn’t show up on the tracks we recorded.

Spring breakfast in Richmond.

Spring In Redding, Too
Wow, here it is a day later, and it’s still spring.

Techno Time Day
I am using the iMac that was a whiz bang technology wonder 10 years ago, to write this portion of the blog, and it is very cumbersome after experiencing the Macbook for a couple of years.

A  regular keyboard and mouse is awkward and inefficient compared to the touchpad /keyboard configuration of a Macbook, but I am using that computer to move  242.92 gigabytes of backups from a passport USB drive, to the 1 terabyte hard drive where I keep the more recent time machine backups.

This will free up the passport drive so I can use it to ‘clone’ both computers so, in the event that I replace the hard drive on the iMac or Macbook, I will have boot-able copies of both computers that I can load onto new hard drives.

This saves me the cost of buying an additional back up hard drive just for this purpose. One must cut expenses wherever possible. Another USB passport drive would cost about $60, and there is no money in the March/April budget for that item. So, I give the old iMac a little workout for about 6 or 7 hours while the Macbook moves large amounts of data through the USB ports. Technology is amazing and evolving rapidly.

If I had been using ‘Firewire’ instead of USB to transfer the data, it would have only taken an hour or so, but that’s nothing compared to the new ‘Thunderbolt’ data transfer technology that is included as part of the new Macbook pro notebooks. Using that type of wire, this 7 hour data transfer would have only taken a couple of minutes!

The other thing I didn’t consider before starting the data transfer was not being able to use the Macbook to mix the songs we recorded at Marians’ while I am waiting for  the data to be copied. I didn’t know it would take this long, or I would have done the transfer while I was sleeping.

How fortunate I am to have 2 computers, so that I can at least type this blog on one, while the other is saving me $60. I think I will enjoy a dinner of chicken marbella while I wait for the machines to finish toting those bales of bytes, (or does one lift those bales of bytes?). (UPDATE: It’s 10:06 PM and I am still waiting for some of the tasks to be completed. Specifically emptying the trash from the USB passport drive. This appears to take nearly as long as copying the data did.)

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Time To Reflect

Friday, March 18, 2011

In The Driving Rain

Goin’ Down To Richmond
One of many colorful flowers along Marian’s driveway.

It was entertaining to drive down I-5 to Richmond today. Traffic was moderate, and for the most part I could use the cruise control. That is always a plus because it means fewer foot cramps which means more sensory appreciation of the scenery and all the relative velocities, dimensions, and perspectives in motion as I sailed through scattered rain showers of various intensities.

Leona and Marian check out the hail on the patio.

It is good to be here where I can spend some time with Marian and Leona. They prepared a delicious dinner, after which we played sax, piano and guitar in the living room while surrounded by a dark and stormy night. Lightning, thunder, and even when the lights went dim, we kept on playing until we reached the end of the songs.

Hail out front, too.

Later we had pie and ice cream. Then, to add to our evenings entertainment, we were treated to a hail storm, (a rare event in Richmond).

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Joyful Noise Indeed

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Now Appearing

Beautiful Colors

Yesterday, we had intermittent rays of sunlight. I was drawn to the brilliant colors of the flowers in Dorothy’s garden behind ‘A’ building, (AKA; ‘Alder’).

There were bugs and bees - birds in the trees - and all sorts of colorful flowers, guaranteed to please, (to get real close, I had to get down on my knees).

Before I knew it, I had snapped over 200 pictures in my exuberant determination to capture the essence of the joy I felt from these attractive displays of color, (even within the limited spectrum of light that we humans are able to perceive).

I nearly missed these mushrooms, although I may have stepped on a few before I saw these tiny fungi and took their picture from ground level. I wonder what they look like to insects and birds? You can see ultraviolet light pictures of flowers by Bjorn Rorslett on his web page.

It sounded to me like the garden owls were having trouble accepting that a tulip just happened to grow next to one of them. “You expect me to believe that it just popped up out of the ground?” Who knows?

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Nature Nurtures

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Answer?

Blowing In The Wind

Chasma Boreale, a long, flat-floored valley, cuts deep into Mars' north polar icecap. Its walls rise about 4,600 feet, or 1,400 meters, above the floor. Where the edge of the ice cap has retreated, sheets of sand are emerging that accumulated during earlier ice-free climatic cycles. Winds blowing off the ice have pushed loose sand into dunes and driven them down-canyon in a westward direction. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Blues Society Party Pictures

Jeff’s sister took more than 100 pictures of the band during our performance at the Shasta Blues Society Saint Patrick’s Party, last Thursday. I have been sifting through them since Jeff stopped by Monday night and transferred them from his Macbook to a USB drive, so that I could copy them from the USB flash drive to my Macbook, (a process that took a couple of minutes).

Each time I look through the file, I find more images that I like. I uploaded about 16 to the band website by way of the band Facebook page. There are some very good pictures, many thanks to Jeff’s sister.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Who knew someone would sell a product as reckless as an economy model nuclear power plant?  G.E. salesman to Tokyo Electric company in 1070; “Sure, we left out a few safety features to prevent a disaster if there were a big earthquake, but what are the chances of that happening in Japan?”

From Popular Science article;
The primary issue in Japan is not specifically that the reactors are BWR units, but that the emergency cooling systems and the reactor are mounted on separate concrete pads which in the case of a bad earthquake can move relative to each other and break the emergency cooling piping. At this point, it makes no difference if the pumps work or not.

All this is happening in the same country that brought us the 1950’s movie warning us to stop nuclear testing before we accidentally create the atomic radiation mutant monster; Godzilla.

What happens next? Cats with thumbs?

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Betcha Didn’t See That Coming