Monday, February 28, 2005

WhiteFlowers1email2


WhiteFlowers1email2, originally uploaded by carolAustin.

This is a test of the photo blogger.

Gosh, I hope this works.

Oooh, Ahhh, a Net-Gasm



Ok, so call me a geek. Over the weekend, I went out and purchased an Apple Airport Extreme base station. I was having so many problems with the old 802.11B Netgear router, getting it to talk to the iMac and hand out nice DHCP information all pretty and encrypted, the way I like it. So, tonight, I hunkered down, thinking that it would be a long night, and I would spend the better half of it fighting with the Gods of wireless routing (and, it goes without saying, losing. Or, at least, having to sacrifice small animals and many network packets in the ensuing battle royale.)

So, I unpack this thing and I'm thinking, "great. I bought a shrink-wrapped Frisbee. There's no way this'll ever work." I start to plug it in when the phone rings. It was an old friend and we chatted for a while. Then the doorbell rang. It was Steve coming to save me from my Ethernet Hell. Next the dog had to go out. Then we noticed that my neighbors net was named DeathASaurus something or other, which made me laugh. (Once I start laughing, all hope is, in fact, lost.)

In the middle of it all, the router ORB (as I now call it) just started working. It's like this cute little ORB that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Even Steve had to comment on it ("Damn, it's fast." It didn't even warrant a "crap" from Steve, he went right for the "big guns" as it were.)

The little ORB is fast. And it works. It's fast, it works, it's cute, and, like a little mini Buddha sitting in the middle of my desk, I get this strange comfortable feeling when I pat it's belly. And I'm not even done playing with it yet. Tomorrow we move onto wireless print serving.

Oh, and, did I mention it's WHITE?

Until next time...

Another Fine Day

Another Fine Day

Saturday was raining and horrible in River City but I guess I shouldn't really complain. Rumor has it that, back east, they've gotten a horrible blizzard and are stuck, sometimes literally up to their elbows, in snow. When compared to snow, rain is good. (I guess Mac folks would like snow because, well, it's WHITE.)

Yesterday was nice outside. It was go outside and take some pictures nice, so I did. I shot with the digital rebel and the lensbaby a bit, of course, playing behind some Plexiglas. I can't ever leave things alone, no, I always have to throw one more item into the mix. It's not enough to use a lensbaby, a digital camera, some Plexiglas, no I have to mix everything up into one big bundle and see what falls out.

I got this funny email from Kathy that basically said, "the sun's out and I'm running around like a maniac. I want to photograph the Texas coast at sunset tonight." The only thing I can say is, "Run, Kathy Run! Go! Fly like the wind!" I hope she has enough wind in her sails, enough gas in her tank, and enough blank CompacFlash for the maximum amount of fun one person could possibly have.

I managed to complete the digital workflow for email this weekend and spread 2 images around the web like a bad computer virus. I also managed to get a new router that will, hopefully, work with the Mac (it *should* crap it was made by Apple.) I also caved and got myself a stand for the printer. Hopefully, the printer will actually fit onto it.

In other, funny news, I tried sticking one of the "gold" CD's into the Mac and it didn't like it. It didn't spit out the CD and now the CD's just in there. I can't predict many things but, somehow, I can predict that I'm going to have more than my fair share of fun trying to get that gold CD back out again.

I guess maybe I should know better. It wasn't, afterall, a WHITE "gold" CD.

Lastly, in the "don't say I didn't warn you" category, it may not be too long before I'm able to post images here. Don't be surprised if, one day soon, you stop back here and wind up looking at some pretty flowers or something.

Until next time...

Friday, February 25, 2005

I'd Say "Crap!" but it's Friday

I'd Say "Crap!" but it's Friday

In "crap that's really, really scary and I just don't want to think about it" news, the actress with the husky voice, who played the Cannasta-playing murderer on last week's CSI is returning to television to star next week in an episode of Law and Order. Great, so now they are getting alien life forms to play DA's because, well, they just keep killing off the old ones. (Remember Alex?) Or, horror of horrors, even worse, maybe she's going to play a murderer on Law and Order too. Run! Run from your TiVo's!

It's true that Jerry Orbach played, on the first episode of Law and Order, a defense attorney. Yes, it's true, before he brought to life and single handedly defined the snarky NYC Detective, Lenny Briscoe, he was a lawyer.

And, speaking of "crap," (I did say "lawyer") my friend Steve says "Crap!" a lot. He told me one time he used to work in a Catholic hospital of some kind and wasn't allowed to curse, so he trained himself to say "crap" instead. You can tell how hard it's hitting the fan when he uses more than one "crap" in a row-stringing them together in some sort of sick "crappy" daisy chain of spew. For example, "Crap! Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!" is probably a situation that's a lot worse than, say, "Crap! I forgot..." There's also the time between "Crap!"-s that's somewhat indicative of how bad things really are.

And, speaking of "friends," (I did say "Steve") I'm slated to see my old friend Rainey this weekend. She's "still playing music, still living off the grid, and still very Hippie-esque, in a Baroque sort of way" (whatever this means, I'm sure she'll explain more this weekend.) I'm looking forward to this weekend, except that I have a lot of "crap" to do and, well, it's only two days long.

Crap, it's Friday. Were you expecting some kind of mind blowing, hysterically funny tome explaining the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? So sorry, all you got was a bunch of "crap."

Until next time...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Go Sail Away

Go Sail Away

Today, I had lunch with some X-Tivoli folks, whom I hadn't seen in a while, at Z-Tejas. It's quite the loud place, although the food is pretty good. I had some smothered burrito thing that was very big (too much for me to eat actually) but rather tasty.

One of the ladies, Kathy (not the same Kathy as my photographer friend Kathy although, in a subtle but oh so effective plot to confuse us all, they know each other and are friends) is about to resign her position at IBM and go sailing. She's not just going sailing, she's going from Hawaii to various points along the west coast of the Americas, for like 28 days. (Now that's what I call SAILING. Most people, if they are lucky, get to row a dingy once in a while.)

I have been sailing a bit before (although nothing quite like what she's doing.) The world on the ocean is very different from points ashore. For one thing, the things you consider to be of relative importance become almost meaningless at sea. Got money? That's great, the nearest bank is like 3 continents away. Maybe, if you survive the sharks, whales, beating sun, pouring down rain, and storms, you'll make it back to dry land long enough to spend some of it. Like to watch TV? Ha! Don't go sailing. Even TiVo couldn't help your sorry butt out on the ocean. Cell phone ringing? Not at sea it won't. Even your contact list can't help you now. Cities could rise up and fall away while you literally spend weeks (months!) with nothing but blue sky and ocean on your horizon (whichever way you look.) What's over the horizon isn't even a distant memory anymore. It's so unimportant, it's not even a blip on your radar.

When you're at sea, the only things that matter are wind, waves, clouds, water, sun, moon, stars, rations, radios, and sails. Everything else is born of another world and probably best left there. Needless to say, it reminds you of what's really important in life. It's very much like getting back to basics. An ocean sailing vessel is it's very own self-contained universe (much like my little world!) and it doesn't play well in mixed company.

On dry land, we tend to think of stars as "pretty" but useless. At sea, they're important (and, sometimes, invisible.) On dry land, we pay little mind to the direction of the wind, the time of day the sun rises or sets, and the formations of the clouds in the sky (other than, an occasional glance to verify that there's still, in fact, a recognizable "bunny" up there.) Most folks rarely, if ever in their lifetimes, get to enjoy the glisten of the moon on the ocean late at night. Some nights, it's so bright out there, you could read by it.

They say the planet earth is covered by 75% water and 25% land, yet we seldom, if ever, see how the other half lives. From what little I've seen, I can vouch for the fact that, it's a whole different universe out there just waiting to be explored.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Pod Envy

Pod Envy

I watched part of Squawk Box this morning and happened across talk of Apple introducing a new line in the iPod series so, I logged on to check.

The iPod photo complete with color display (the one I like to call the maxi-pod,) has been reduced to $350. The iPod mini (also called, I'm told, podling, minipod, or podette) now has a price entry point of $199. It also offers a battery lifetime of 15 hours, as opposed to the (older) 8 hour variety. The maxi-pod gives up 12 hours of life without a recharge.
This has induced a state of what I like to call frantic pod envy. I've wanted a pod (podling, maxi-pod, whatever) for a while now, I just can't decide upon which one. I keep looking at the different models, wondering which would be better, or which would just work for me.

The podling sounds like the best choice if you want to just travel and listen to music. The maxi-pod has the pretty color display, would match my computer, and can be jerry-rigged to work with a CompactFlash card reader (a feature which might actually come in handy to me, since I'm a photographer.) The maxi-pod, until today, rivaled the price of a laptop so I wasn't seriously considering it as a valid option (although, I'm just as guilty as the next guy in saying, "it's oh-so-cute." Just keep saying it over and over again, when you find yourself looking at Apple gear, it's easier than trying to buck the trend and you know, deep down inside, it is all really "cute." Well, about as "cute" as an MP3 player can get although, admittedly, that's pretty darn cute in the case of the podlings.)

I have this DiscSteno device which, on one side "eats" a CompactFlash card and, on the other, "spits out" a CD containing the results (the "burn.") It's a handy-dandy little device if, say, you were traveling to points afar, taking a lot of pictures, and wanted to re-use your CompactFlash memory. You could start shooting, burn a CD, and then whack the CompactFlash (re-use it) all without having to use a laptop. Only trouble is, there's no way I've found of actually verifying that the CD you burnt is valid. If, say, the CD didn't burn right, you're out of luck, since you've already whacked the memory and you don't have a laptop to use in checking out the CD (can you say international "internet cafe" anyone? I thought you could.)

This is where the maxi-pod might come in handy. If you could connect, via USB, the DiscSteno to the maxi-pod, and flip, with your thumb, through the thumbnail images on the CD, you'd have a way of checking, rather quickly, that the CD were all nice and toasty. Only trouble is the maxi-pod, until today, was like $599 and you could have bought a laptop for that. Leave it to Apple to complicate my life in an honest attempt at simplifying and improving things. ("Let's one up society, introduce an entire new realm of technology, and screw Carol yet again in the process!" It could be the new Apple motto, if that weren't actually, "We are THAT Cute! And oh-so color coordinated" instead.)

I know I want a hot poddy but still can't decide. Anybody have a coin I can flip?

Until next pod...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Your Guilty Now I'm Off to Hollywood

Your Guilty Now I'm Off to Hollywood

In the "your guilty now out of my way, I've got a screenplay to shop!" department, my friend, Steve, got called for jury duty. He didn't just get called, he was asked, as part of the summons, to complete a DETAILED QUESTIONNAIRE including (but not limited to!) specifying his hobbies, interests, and his views on the death penalty. This is all before he even has to show up in court, presumably to answer some even more detailed questions.

He's going down. He's going down hard. He's in for murder. It's got to be murder, rape, or some serious bad ass mojo mayhem. If it were traffic court, they wouldn't give a damn about your hobbies, interests, or viewpoint on the death penalty. They wouldn't stop to ask you the time of day. They'd just plunk your sorry butt down and force you to listen to five hours of some schmuck babbling on about how his tire pressure was low, his wife was pregnant (about to have the baby in the back of the car any second!) and the cops all have it in for him, after which point they'd give you your $12, thank you for serving, and send you on your merry way (and, the poor helpless speeding sap will pay a fine and be done with it.)

Picture poor Steve, sequestered in a cheap flea-bag Motel 6 surrounded by horrible pimento cheese sandwiches (they can't afford meat, what with the State's budget and all) for like 6 months, while jurors argue over State's evidence and take small straw ballots again and again ad infinitum, only to remain helpless deadlocked and sans internet connections of any kind. (Could Steve even LIVE without, like, access to the net and email for that long?)

I told him, "If you see a guy named Michael wearing one glove, hold out for more $$$$ otherwise, tell them your hobbies are skeet shooting with large caliber bullets and strangling cats in the park. Oh, and, this would be a very good time to take out that old T-shirt that reads, 'We Hang 'Em High in Texas,' you know, the one featuring a pretty picture of a noose on the front..."

Steve's friend Matthew who, as it turns out, is a co-worker of mine, tells me I should look at this as a big opportunity and write a screenplay about it. I guess he's right, I mean, it could be a big opportunity. And, I suppose, I *could* write a screenplay about it all, provided Steve can survive the allotted six months without any internet connection or email to speak of, while eating only pimento cheese sandwiches and the remainder of straw poles long since cast aside, and remember enough of it to feed me some "gory" details.

It could be like some kind of twisted, demented Survivor where the castaways enjoy life but team up to take it all out on poor hapless unsuspecting Jeff Probst (because, it goes without saying, the jury will, no doubt, find the wandering drifter guilty of all counts and the child-beating, wife stabbing, gunman will, no doubt, either cop some kind of a lame ass plea or win freedom on appeal thanks to some slick slime bag of a defense attorney who will, in turn, become the real "winner" in the case, by walking away with the most money. Isn't justice grand?)

I guess it would be a big opportunity. Unless, of course, you're the guy sitting at the defense table.

Until next time...

Monday, February 21, 2005

An Honest Alibi

An Honest Alibi

Driving to work this morning, I found myself saying aloud, "No! No, no, no, no, no..." as Mr. Brightside played over the radio. I can't take hearing that song. Like Cartman in South Park, when he hears that old song Come Sail Away from Styx, he finds himself having to sing the entire song, verse, chorus and all, just to get it out of his head and, even then, it doesn't really work and he finds himself stuck in a fog, with that song swirling around his cranium.

"He's having a smoke and she's taking a drag...Choking on your alibis...but it's just the price we pay...destiny is calling me..." Ugh. Sometimes, I just HATE catchy songs. They'll be the death of me yet, I swear (that is, if I don't suffer from "Death by Ikea," die from my addiction to all things photo-related, or get killed from a falling honkingly large, black, Rhode Island printer first.)

In other news, since it involved murder and mayhem, I watched part of CSI this week. (Hey, I've got a built-in excuse, "TiVo made me do it!" What's yours?) This week's episode featured some actress with a husky voice (who I'd actually seen before in, I think, some sitcom) married to this casino boss who was killed after being thrown from a balcony in their super lux mansion on the hill home. Her alibi was, I swear I'm not making this up, "I was at the club playing Canasta with my friends."

Yes, Canasta. Not Keno, not Blackjack, Craps was right out. She was living in Las Vegas, in a super lux mansion on the hill, and she offed her husband only to later try and convince the police she was too busy playing Canasta and didn't really have motive anyway. Perhaps her friends were of the little green variety but, alas, I fell asleep on the couch before I saw the end of it all (murders do that to me now because, well, I've seen so many, what with the TiVo being setup the way it is and all.)

She's an alien! That explains it all! The bad sitcom, the husky voice, all that murder, the TiVo, Las Vegas itself. Gosh, I feel like oh so clued in now, don't you?

Now if only I could explain my addiction to Mr. Brightside and all things Bam Margera, I would feel so much better. (Didn't Bam actually go to Las Vegas once and, I wonder, while he was there, did he maybe like hum Mr. Brightside or something? Hmmm.)

Until next time...

Friday, February 18, 2005

By Popular Demand: "The Cream Cheese Incident"

By Popular Demand: "The Cream Cheese Incident"

Some folks have taken to asking me, "so, when are you going to write about the cream cheese incident?" So, by popular demand, here goes...(Please remember, you asked for this.)

When I worked for Sun Microsystems (my former employer) I used to frequently bring a bagel into work to eat for lunch. They had a little "kitchen" area, quite near the geographical center of the facility, that also served as a main corridor, lobby "spill over" area, and game room. In the kitchen (actually, in the main corridor, if you can picture it) there was a toaster. Every day, about the same time, I would plunk my bagel in the toaster and play a little pool at the pool table, while waiting for the smoke to come out of the top, signaling the end of my bagel. A lot of folks saw me at the toaster because, well, it also served as the main corridor to the building (not to mention that fact that, it's usually rather difficult to walk past thick, black smoke bellowing out of an overly charred bagel.) Some folks took to making fun of my routine.

"Don't you ever get sick of bagels?" David would ask.

"She's having a bagel again today!" Gregg would say, while nuking his green box lunch (which he too enjoyed burning every day in the "I swear it sometimes works!" microwave.) It was just routine and we all can be such creatures of habit.

So, now I'm working at Motive (the place with great coffee) and I decide that, well, it's been way too long since I've had a bagel. In an honest attempt at fixing what was probably not very broken, I brought in a tub of cream cheese, left it in the 'fridge (it's a community 'fridge, just like the one at Sun) and started bringing in bagels.

The first day or two of this plan was executed flawlessly. Nobody suspected a thing. I found that the toaster at Motive, in quite the same way as the coffee machine, was actually quite better than the one at Sun and, in fact, my bagels were toasted to perfection (no smoke!) Nobody seemed to bother about my cream cheese which was, for a few blissful days anyway, left unruffled in the 'fridge.

Fast forward to Friday of last week. I bring my bagel into the kitchen area, carve it up nicely, plunk it into the toaster, and wait. After toasting to perfection and earning my very own "pop" from the gleaming, shining, non-smoking, toasting machine, I set off into the (community) 'fridge in search of my accompanying cream cheese. Well, as you could probably guess, there was no cream cheese in sight. Tub and all had vaporized. It had been a rather large tub and so, I suspected that somebody might have "borrowed" some cheese out of it but, I would have also suspected that, the same person who "borrowed" some would have, in fact, returned the tub to the 'fridge. But, no, this didn't happen. Tub, cream cheese, and all were long done gone, which left me standing there with a toasted to perfection but oh so cream cheese-less naked bagel.

I had to toss the bagel and became a bit hungry later in the afternoon. I decided that I would purchase a mini 'fridge for my desk in an attempt at stashing away what was, apparently, quite the hot commodity. (It must be valuable, right? I mean, somebody swiped it tub and all and, I suppose, they didn't leave a trail of smoke behind.) Somehow, I just didn't suspect that there was such a black market for bagel condiments but, I guess, now I know. (I'm getting a mental image of some guy up on the third floor of my building, in a trench coat, saying, "Pssst. I got the good stuff...got yer Philly Whipped right here, boy!")

At the Foo Bar (Happy Hour) in the evening, I complained about my lack of lunch, because, well, I didn't want to drink on an empty stomach, and the bartender, after making me a rather nice large margarita, apologized for it not being made of cream cheese. I didn't think the entire incident very "blog worth" but, alas, I've found it's better to just force myself to write about these things, rather then trying to fend off the ugly mobs (well, all two of you. *Wave*)

And, besides, for all I know, there could be a blog out in the big, bad universe that starts out,

"Dude, all I had to eat at work today was some stale English Muffin. I was all fretting and stuff about what to put on it until I lucked out when I dove into the 'fridge at work and found this great tasting cream cheese that was still fresh and all, and then this guy, that I used to know..."

So much for not writing about the "The Cream Cheese Incident." I guess, now anyway, I just did.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Network Not Work

Network Not Work

So, the other day, my router at home saw fit to, not only stop recognizing the pretty new iMac but completely stop any and all bits from traveling through my little world. Halt! No more 1's and 0's for you! (It's like some kind of data natzi from Hell.) The TiVo stopped working, the trusted old "that's not a laptop, it's actually a paperweight running Win2k" was off the net, even my ethernet had vaporized.

Frustrated, I came to work. Boy, was that a mistake.

At work, you see, I'm testing out a database tool, trying to get it to, among other things, generate data in Japanese, or some language other than English. Sure it sounds easy enough. So, I twiddle knobs, bells, and whistles in an attempt at generating, what looks like (to me anyway,) some legitimately pretty Japanese. (Well, I guess it's about as pretty as Japanese can be, despite the fact that I've no idea what it says and I really don't know what Japanese looks like, so I couldn't tell, for example, if it actually were Korean, Mandarin or any other Asian double byte character set staring back at me. For all I know, I could have had an actual Chinese menu in my hand, with something on it other than "General Tso's Chicken.") Everything started working and I was thinking, "Woot! I got me some pretty Japanese SQL to try out."

Oracle, in their, ahem, infinite wisdom, has these nice little instructions that spell out how to convert an existing database to UTF8 (without hacking the registry which, in hindsight, would have been a lot easier.) They say things like, "chop off your head and, when you notice your ear is no longer attached, you won't feel that bad. Oh, and follow these 99 thousand links detailing how to get some of your data back. You may need it one day. Except for those pesky apostrophes. We got rid of 'em for ya. You can thank us later."

So, I diligently follow the 99 bizillion steps and read the apropos 642 Metalink articles describing, in great detail, how to convert my existing database over to UTF8. Having to google a mere 9 million times, I'm feeling quite triumphant when I discover that, much to my dismay, I don't have a network connection at work anymore now either. Something about yada yada, a domain controller, an account password that isn't valid, yada yada, you know, all that networking "goo" that usually just works and, typically, I don't pay any mind to whatsoever because, well, crap, I'm a database programmer, and I normally just don't deal with that kind of stuff on a day to day basis. I live in the world of select statements and, frankly, if it involves a series of interconnected and oh-so jumbled wiring, a closet, and a flashlight, you may just want to send in reinforcements because, let's just say, it's going to hit the fan by the time I'm done in there. (Sure, I can plug and unplug random wires just as good as the next guy but, sometimes you have to ask yourself, "is that what I really want out of life at this given moment in time and, oh crap, what, exactly, was connected to the other end of this cable again?")

So now, having borrowed a network cable from the lab, I'm sitting at my desk wondering if, in fact, I could fashion it into a noose. Either that or, perhaps, stretch it out really straight and tight on the carpeting and just hope that the little 1's and 0's can "hop" across the rug to the other side, like some demented fleas in a flea circus. I can't bring my network cable home, because, well, it's green and it would SO clash with the pretty white not working, ain't been on the net in months, iMac and, besides, I'm convinced, at this point anyway, there's just about enough of it to make a nice noose and hang myself from the ceiling with it.

Being so bad, with so many things just breaking all around me, I was almost hoping the Evil Baked Goods People would fire off an email detailing some freashly baked cookies on their cart.

I find myself looking at that dead router saying things like, "Oh for the love of God, would you just please start shoveling bits again and stop making me ask so nicely. Next I'll try kicking you in your loopback or get really ugly and send in my trusted friend, Mr. Network Administrator, who will fix your sorry switch for good. What, was your mother a freakin' nibble eating brain dead Unisys mainframe or something? Why can't you just work?!?!?"

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Can I Get a "Woof Woof" for Just an Ordinary Be-Atch

Can I Get a "Woof Woof" for Just an Ordinary Be-Atch

When I spoke of HP, I had no idea that a bitch named Carlee would become center of the universe all week long. Yes, it's true, I watched a bit of the Westminster Kennel Club's Dog Show yesterday. I saw part of the Hound group and the final "Best in Show" award. Some kind of a pointer named Carlee took the golden cup and top ribbon this year. (Not to be confused with Ms. Fiorina, the former, ahem, "esteemed" leader of HP, who is a be-atch in her own right, but didn't complete in any dog shows, or win any ribbons, as far as we know, yesterday.)

Funny thing about dog shows. They parade these perfect animals around on stage, making everybody want to run out and get some odd breed that nobody has heard of, like a Portuguese Water Dog, or they see the most perfect German Shepard or Golden Retriever, run out to the pet store, only to find "the ordinary." Most dogs don't look anything like the ones you see on TV. Most dogs, instead of parading around in a ring in Madison Square Garden, fight you for the best seat on the couch, take up more than half the bed, and kind of smell funny, even on a good day. Sometimes, they like to drool or pass wind in mixed company and they always seem to have exceptionally dirty feet and like to chew on things most humans wouldn't put in their mouths. Given all of that, it can still be said that Dogs Rule. There's something so special about a dog. They really are man's best friend, in little fur coats, with wagging tails, and bright eyes that are always so happy to see you.

David Ducovney, of former X Files fame, is now doing voice overs for commercials like Pedigree. He does that commercial that starts out, "We're for dogs..." Listen to it, I bet you'll recognize his voice. Funny thing about dogs and people, even the most uncivilized brute of a man, the most evil dictator in the world, the most hardcore criminal, turns into mush when playing with a puppy. I bet Hitler had a cute little puppy, he loved dearly, took for regular walks, and played with all the time. All Hiele the little woofers, I guess.

And, in keeping with the X Files theme, if Cannasta playing aliens ever were to land on my front lawn, I bet they'd take a liking to Charlie as soon as they stepped their little green feet off of their mother ship.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Golden Circus Tent

A Golden Circus Tent

Yesterday, it was unseasonably nice and sunny in Austin; it was about 80 degrees, with the sun shining and the birds chirping. So, I get to work, after a pleasant drive in-the morning coffee coming out incredibly nice-smooth, with a touch of sugar, enough milk to make it creamy, and a hint of hazelnut for flavoring.

Then I'm thinking, "wouldn't it be nice if I could go somewhere and sit outside for lunch?" Steve IM's me, I "lunch?" him, and we decide to go to Manuel's to sit outside on the patio. What a great choice for a lunchtime get together. We got a nice, quiet spot in the corner, under the arbor, and enjoyed the afternoon and the enchiladas.

He asked if I had heard about Carla and the problems at HP. I said yeah (who hasn't?) and we started talking about high tech a bit.

"She got like 21 million after she was canned," I said.

Steve suggested, "I think it was more; they were speculating that with her stock options, well, I think her golden umbrella was like 35 million. Oh wait, did I say umbrella? I meant parachute?"

To which I responded, "Crap, for 35 million, that's more than an umbrella or a parachute. That's like an entire freakin'"

"Circus tent?" says Steve.

"Yeah. Circus tent. Complete with midgets and some guy flying out of a canon, instead of a canon ball. Crap, come to think of it, 35 million could get you a lot of canon balls and a lot of midgets to fly along with them."

"And a lot of clown shoes," says Steve.

Indeed, 35 million could buy yourself one Hell of a circus. Imagine the big shoes, red noses, and white elephants you could get with that. You could have all kinds of ladies spinning around on high wires, some of them even without beards. 35 million is, in fact, one Hell of a golden parachute and you could use it to buy yourself one heck of a big top. For 35 million, I'd run a freakin' high tech company into the ground, like she did, and retire my sorry fired off arse to Bimini (or wherever the canned CEO's currently go to retire these days.) For 35 million, I could have even spun off a lucrative printer business. But, I suppose, that's just me.

At least the enchiladas were good. I suppose I should feel sorry for poor Carlie. I mean, she got fired and she didn't have any fine tasting enchiladas to enjoy for lunch, under an arbor in the sunshine, like I did.

Until next time...

Monday, February 14, 2005

It's So DARK in Here

It's So DARK in Here

In the, "gosh, I hope Steve's sitting down" category, I've actually lifted my new, big printer up off the floor and put it on a desk in my office at home. (Steve once said, "I have this vision of you sitting there a year from now with that printer on the floor churning out big pretty pictures.")

The other day, while shopping in Fry's for, it goes without saying, items we really didn't need and couldn't find anyway, Steve accused me of becoming a Mac User. "You have to get everything WHITE," he tells me as we headed towards the aisle with the WHITE USB cables, "because Mac Users, well, that's what they do."

(Meanwhile, I was busy formulating the theory that, the "good" folks at Fry's like to move everything around to confuse us all so that we intentionally can't find what we came in for but end up walking around aimlessly saying things like, "wow! I can't find...but, hey, look, this is cool!" only to end up spending way more than we wanted to and having to return again to Fry's at a later date, only to find scrambled items in different-yet still random-aisles, in what has now become a vicious cycle.)

I've no problem with WHITE computers. My new Mac is, in fact, WHITE. It doesn't bother me. I'd be just as happy with a cool, screaming, new BLACK Mac. (Ah, not so, say the Mac Users, everything must be color coordinated. Guess I'm not really one of them. YET.)

So, I bought the Epson 2200 printer, to use to produce my fine art prints. It's a nice printer, or so I've been told, since it's a "wide body" and allows me to print my own 11x14 prints. No more running to the lab, no more paying ten million (well, ok, 40) dollars for prints that are muddy or under-exposed or just not right. No, now you can take matters into your own hands, roll up your sleeves, and do it all yourself.

Trouble is, it's heavy as a boat anchor and it's friggin' 26 inches wide! It's actually physically larger than my first TV set. It's so amazingly, honkingly, big, I think you could print out the state of Rhode Island in actual size and scale. (Well, maybe if you cropped off the Atlantic Ocean in Photoshop first.) It's mega printer and it's BLACK. Didn't somebody tell the good folks at Epson that, if they want to attract the Mac clientele, they need to make some honkingly large, heavy Rhode Island-printing machines in WHITE not BLACK? Crap, they could even charge an extra $50 or so and the Mac Users (whoever they are) would probably pay for it because, well, they just have to have everything WHITE. Not SILVER, not BLACK, GREY is right out of the question. WHITE WHITE WHITE WHITE WHITE. (To paraphrase Yogi Berra, "you can get your computer gear in any color you want, so long as it's WHITE.")

So now, I've setup this beautiful office, with all white computers, USB wires, hubs, and the like, and polluted it with this HONKING big BLACK printer that doesn't fit anywhere, isn't easy to use, and weighs only slightly less than a boat anchor, not to mention it's spitting friggin' pictures of Rhode Island out the back of it. (Maybe Steve's right and I should have left it on the floor?)

I miss the photo labs already.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Killer Nesting Instinct

Killer Nesting Instinct

Today, one of the cable new channels that beams itself into my humble abode, in an uber-annoying News Flash (which didn't really flash and isn't, come to think of it, truly legitimate news) is reporting that 4000 people were trampled and one person stabbed (!) in what was supposed to be the grand opening of a new Ikea superstore in North London.

This has (almost) rendered me speechless. I just don't know where to begin. For starters, I'd have to guess that it must have been a slow day on the news creep because, well, all the news that's fit to crawl across my TV, in that oh so annoying news creep, appears to be from London and what, pray tell, can I do about a 4000 Londoner strong mob of Ikea shoppers from one continent and six time zones away? It's not like I can quell their nerves by inviting them all in for a spot of tea now, can I?

So I sit and home, imagining throbs of Londoners dashing, mad rushing, and body checking their way through aisle upon aisle of cheap melamine furniture, pseudo-Skandi coffee tables on wheels spinning about, shelving thrashing to the ground, shoppers throttling each other to floors covered in kitschy-colored cheap wool rugs, all in a store where they provide free baby sitting and serve Swedish meatballs. Bouillabaisse anyone?

"That's MY side table"

"Bullocks! I saw it first!"

"Krimie! Get off my rug!"

I'm guessing that, in the ensuing melee, the meatballs were really flying this time.

White-washed maple laminate trees and naugahs, once hunted to near extinction for their hydes, are now breathing a sigh of relief, however, as the Brits saw fit to close the store on opening day because of the incident. Just in the nick of time too, although one has to wonder where will Londoners now go for uber-cheap, oh-so tacky, knock off Skandi furniture when the mood hits them.

I always used to joke about Death by Ikea but never thought it might actually one day come to pass. And, somehow, I'd imagined my lifeless body crushed under ten million mail order catalogs, a sea of environmentally friendly flat furniture boxes, and directions written in pseudo-Swedish with pretty pictures, surrounded by bag after bag of unopened Allen wrenches and wood screws of varying size, while all the meatballs in the general vicinity had been long since eaten up or rolled away by the power of their own free will. But, hey, that's just me.

In related news (or not) the most annoyingly ugly British scion to ever walk the planet, Prince Charles, is set to marry his one true love, Camilla Parker Bowles, sometime in April. (Please don't confuse her with his other, true love, Princess Diana, whom, rumor has it, he had killed, although not, as far as we know, by any ugly furniture-shopping mobs.) Gosh, I hope they didn't have their hearts set on redecorating any of their palaces in cheap, white-washed Swedish knock-off furniture because, well, they'd just be out of luck now.

Somehow, I think the free world as we know it is still safe but, it goes without saying, look out for low-flying meatballs.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

It's Like So Super Duper

It's Like So Super Duper

Yesterday, I found out that some folks have actually started taking to writing to their Congressmen (and women, I suppose) regarding how bad the TV commercials were during the Super Bowl. Now, I'm not an expert (on all things TV, or on Congressmen, for that matter) but, and I'm guessing here-I think that our Congressmen (and women) have better things to do with their time then to fret about the TV commercials that air during the Super Bowl. (Don't they have like $900 haircuts to get and checks to bounce? Come on, people!)

So, in honor of this momentous occasion (and because I have nothing better to do) I'm going to give you my esteemed recollection of all things Super Bowl-y.

I got home late, after the kickoff to the game, which was unfortunate because, well, I missed the national anthem which, for me, is a part of the game I actually enjoy (sometimes, it's the only part but, hey, you have to take enjoyment where you find it, right?) They usually get some singer to sing the national anthem who can actually sing as opposed to the, ahem, "esteemed" half time show where, well, they sort of hire people who look like strippers to take off their clothing, bump, and grind, to some lip synched musical track, which, in an honest attempt at offending me, was recorded slightly off any recognizable musical key signature (I get SO offended when people lip synch off key. It's just WRONG. Maybe, I should write to Congress about this.)

But, enough about the music, this is about football (actually, TV commercials.) So, I'm home, when I'm supposed to be at a neighbor's house watching the game, when I conk out on the couch, because I'm too tired, and break open a bag of half eaten and now totally stale Baked Lays. The commercials start playing.

Most of them were lame. I hate to sit through some stupid football like game to watch them. This bored me rather quickly. I was actually bored to the point where I fell asleep. I feel asleep on a half eaten, totally stale, and now squashed bag of Baked Lays and half a pillow (the half, it goes without say, that Charlie DIDN'T eat.)

So, I wake up, part of the game is over, and I see some kind of Honda pickup truck looming on the horizon. It looks nice, except for the fact that it's coming over a mountain and I'm thinking, "I just don't have a mountain like that in my driveway. What would I do with a truck like that?" I nod back into dreamland, only to be woken up again by some kids, peddling a bag of Lays potato chips by throwing them over a fence. MC Hammer comes back over the fence and I fall asleep pondering the biggest question of the day, "does he, in fact, have a career again and, if he does, does this mean that those ugly-ass big pants are going to come back in style?" The horror of this induced nightmares, which were only quelled by Gladys Knight singing in the middle of some kind of Visa commercial and a rugby game. I must have slept through the beginning of that commercial, because, well, it didn't make any sense at all. I start drooling onto the chips and the half pillow which were, by now, attached to my chin.

I vaguely remember some guy in a conference room with a lot of chimps, some guy holding a spaghetti-sauce colored cat in one hand and a knife in the other, and a really cool salute to our troops, brought to us curtesty of Anhauser-Bush, makes of cheap, pissy tasting beer, sold to hostages and insurgents the world over. Actually, I started to wish I had some pissy tasting beer, to wash down the drool-covered, smelly, stale, crushed Baked Lays with, but, no luck.

My TiVo was too busy plotting the perfect murder to record any of it all and I'm almost happy about that. I can't wait for next years game. Maybe I'll get a fresh bag of chips in honor of football season's glorious end.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Nice Beads

Nice Beads

Happy Fat Tuesday, y'all!

Here in Austin, we get to vicariously celebrate Mardi Gras. They play a lot of the feigh do do music on the radio and pretend we're close enough to New Orleans to count when, in actuality, it's about a 10 hour drive or something. Still, we're in the south, they're in the south, we were both on the same side of the big war and all so, I guess, that makes up neighbors or close enough for government work. (Louisiana is like just that way, over that there prairie, y'all.)

Something you can file under the "I didn't know that, I don't really care, and I will probably forget ten minutes from now" category is that I used to speak a little Swahili. It's true. Not as well (or as much, I should say) as I speak Pali, but a little. At least, I once learned how to say "Hello," "Goodbye," and a few of the other 12 odd words or so you're supposed to learn to make yourself polite company. My main goal in life was to learn and comprehend the words and meaning of the song Iko Iko. I never did. I think I get the gist of it, but never mastered enough Swahili to fully translate it, word for word. So much for good intentions (what's that they say about the Road to Hell? Oh yeah, it's a song by Chris Rhea.)

I think there's still hope that, one day anyway, I'll actually be able to speak a little Pali, and that I may actually make it to New Orleans for more than like 10 minutes when it's not nine hundred degrees in the shade with "swampy moist" humidity or when it's not actually Mardi Gras, at which point I will avoid the place like the plague (or the bucket of debauchery that it turns into.) That and, probably Chris Rhea is not the optimist you once thought he was.

Until next time...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Motley Krewe

Motley Krewe

Today, a lady I work with brought in a King Cake. This has served to remind me that tomorrow is, in fact, fat Tuesday.

I don't know much about New Orleans. I've never actually been there, although I had to do some research once. Once upon a time, a few years ago actually, I was asked to photograph at the Krewe Zulu kickoff party and parade (they were trying to hire me to take candids at the party.)

For those who don't know, the Krewe's are the people who put together the parades. The parades are the place at Mardis Gras where you go, stand in line, and get beads tossed at you. The Krewes get dressed up in costume, fitting a theme, and toss out the beads.

The Krewes sometimes have giant (usually private) shindigs the night before, where the mayor of the City, sometimes the Governor, usually lots of celebrities, and whoever happens to be the latest and greatest on the "It" list show up in their finest and party down, in a private ballroom. Usually these are white tie affairs (think top hats and canes here, folks.) Had I known now what I didn't know then, I would never have passed up the opportunity to photograph the private Zulu Krewe party. It was probably stacked with Cristal to the gills, and I'm willing to bet the food would have been more than passable. I think I found out later on that Brad Pitt was there. But, hey, they weren't going to spring for a hotel room and I couldn't really afford the trip at the time so, I guess, it wasn't to be.

Someday, I'd like to go to Martis Gras. I'd like to see all the excess and debauchery, centrally located in one convenient place for my viewing pleasure. For now though, I'd be content making it to the city limits before it gets too hot. New Orleans is many things but, it's safe to say, it's a city you don't want to visit in the boils of summer.

Party on Fat Tuesday-ers. For tomorrow, the suns of lent shall rise yet again and you'll be out on your ear in a city that smells like urine and doesn't have any vacant hotel rooms to speak of. At least not any that you'd actually want to SLEEP in.

Until next time...

Friday, February 04, 2005

That Model's a Dog, that Dog's a Model

That Model's a Dog, that Dog's a Model

A bunch of folks from work decided it would be fun to go out and take some pictures at lunchtime. We have a bit of a photography group going and, being a nice day and all, we thought it a good idea. So, we went out to Bull Creek, which is this nice environmentally protected area, with pretty trees, waterfalls, and now, I guess, some very weird locals thrown in for good measure.

Picture this: about ten folks meandering around, tripods in tow, taking close up shots of waterfalls, pretty trees and the like. Our silence only disturbed by one man dragging along three mangy looking mutts. The dogs come up to us, since they weren't properly lassoed, sniffing along their merry way. Some of us were afraid that they were going to knock over our equipment or bite us but, luckily, they were intent on chasing Frisbee. The dogs play in the water, maximizing the dirty-scruffy look and, needless to say, run in between the photographers and the pretty waterfalls. That's when things got strange.

The guy turns to one of the photographers in the group and says, "that dog's a model. You can't take his picture unless you sign a model release and pay me for it."

Now, I'm no expert but, some grimy dog, running loose around some local swamp is not model material. Somehow, I doubt Cindy Crawford got her start this way, ok. Doesn't this guy realize they call it a CAT walk?

If that weren't enough, the guy starts getting really belligerent and says, "if that's digital camera, you need to delete that photograph NOW!" Like he can instruct us on what pictures we can take in a public place. He's clearly an expert, and an angry one at that.

I can't believe he actually started to get angry over this. We started laughing. Actually, I was laughing so hard, I had a hard time containing myself. Except for the fact that I am getting a complex, thinking I'm some sort of supreme "magnet for all things weird" and all, I found the entire situation so very amusing.

At least it was good for a lunchtime chuckle. Even if he did have a couple of ugly ass dogs that kept getting in the way of things.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

All Your Devices Are Belong to Us

All Your Devices are Belong to Us

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, when she said something along the lines of, "he's jealous of me because all of my devices are working."

Eons ago, in the land before time perhaps, people were considered sexy if they had a full set of teeth. (This is true, really it is.) Once heavy people were considered sexy because, well, people foolishly thought that being overweight was an indication that you could actually afford to eat. Food was a luxury item back then. Remember all those classical paintings? The "fair maiden" was actually a heavyset "fair maiden," that's just how we viewed sexy back then.

Then, it became sexy if you bathed regularly. After that, it was exercise and fitness. Have a tight body? Doesn't matter what your face looks like, welcome to the land of the sexpot.

Now we're in the digital age. Everything is electronic. Somebody is considered sexy if they have 900 electronic devices-including uber cool laptops, G5 towers, new Dell servers, digital mini Camcorders, digital cameras, Tivos, iPods, GPS locators, and various other assorted crap-and they can get them all to work. If you can get all of your devices to work, at the same time, without running out of electricity, blowing up your router, having to reboot anything shy of four thousand times, or having to spend every waking minute pouring over technical manuals (which, it goes without saying, were written by the Evil Baked Goods People) then, my friend, damn, you're sexy. By today's standards, you're a walking Viagra tablet with feet, you're cooler than Kelvin, you're qualified to call up Brad Pitt and ask him what "ugly" feels like, you're...well, you get the idea.

It's the new way to be so "it" right now. Get more devices, make them work, and force yourself to fend off all the drooling geeks with a stick. A really, really big stick but, perhaps, one that's electronic. (Got Taser?)

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It's a Mystery to Me

It's a Mystery to Me

Out in west Texas, there's a town called Marfa. Out in Marfa, Texas, there's a phenomenon known as the "Marfa Lights." Some people say the Marfa lights are navigational beacons, sent from UFO's in the skies above. Others speculate that they are some kind of radioactive bursts of light. I've even heard a rumor that they are, in fact, jackrabbits that have small horns, which glow by the light of dusk, the moon, or some other jackrabbity glow-inducing agent. Frankly, I'm surprised Elvis has yet to be associated with the Marfa lights because, well, everything else has been already, why not him too?

Whatever your believe, the Marfa lights are the main tourist attraction in Marfa, Texas (a town where, it goes without saying, there aren't many tourist attractions to begin with.) The lights are said to appear at night, bounce around in the sky, dotting the horizon for a brief spell, before they vanish, and sometimes, if you are lucky, reappear for you to enjoy.

The other day, I was talking on the telephone with somebody in New York, who asked me about the Marfa lights. What really amazes me about the Marfa lights is not the lights themselves, not the fact that the lights have become such a big money-making tourist attraction (I would almost expect that actually) and not even the fact that Elvis has yet to be spotted out in Marfa, Texas. No, what really amazes me is that, while talking on the telephone, to a native New Yorker, about the mystery lights in Marfa, Texas, I gave this explanation:

"Oh, sure it's a big deal. Imagine some yahoo sitting out at night, in a beach chair-one of those old beach chairs with broken cloth straps-in the middle of the desert (actually Marfa, Texas-no visible water within a 1000 mile radius) sitting there, next to the satellite dish, on his front porch, paddle cactus
dotting the horizon, with his very own big haired women by his side, making comments like, 'look Ma. Them lights is up again. Yee haa!' Meanwhile, the women, secretly yearning for the satellite dish to pick up Dr. Phil re-runs and a for a fresh set of hair rollers to magically show up at the local pharmacy, rocks quietly next to him on a porch swing, as the rust literally ages their 20 year old pickup truck, with three brand new shotguns gleaming in the back rack, while their six children, none fathered by the same man, peacefully sleep inside, under the 102 degree cloudless Texas big sky, in their little house,
next to a six lane, traffic-less highway, in the middle of nowhere, Texas. Meanwhile, the jackrabbits, UFO's, radioactive gaseous cloud formations, Elvis sightings, or whatever the Hell else causes them damn lights, quietly glows in the moonlight. "


Texas, it's like a whole 'nother country. At least I don't wonder why they don't like to play Canasta in Marfa, Texas.

Until next time...