Saturday, July 30, 2011

Is it big?

Little things can sometimes be made to look big, we see it all the time in the movies.  Here are some small things that I tried to make look big.

This is a model house I designed and built out of balsa wood back when I was in high school and planning on becoming an architect.  I took it out into the field next to my house and shot it with the city in the background.

Aerial view of the same house.

I planned to go out and try my hand at a bunch of new “make it look big” shots, but as often happens in life, I haven’t had the time.  I’m still going to see what I can pull off, but I don’t know if it will be in time for this week’s theme.  I’ll let you see how it goes.  I did try a few quick ones, this one was the only one that came out at all.  This tree is about a foot and a half tall.

If you want to see any other “big” photos, and hopefully add your own into the mix, click on the banner and check it out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A little common sense folks.


Seriously folks, I know the job market is grim out there, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If these crooks had rented a store front, placed an ad in the paper and interviewed people who came to them in an office, I could understand falling for the scam.

But when someone walks up to you in a Wal*Mart or the South Towne Mall and on nothing but sight offers you a high paying job, you gotta (or ought to) question their honesty.

Then when they hire you on the spot, between the tighty-whities and the tube socks, and ask for your bank account information so they can direct deposit your paychecks, you gotta (or ought to) pull off your best Bill Cosby imitation and respond with “Riiiight!”

Now, I truly feel sorry for the people who got scammed, you should be able to trust your fellow human beings.  And I feel especially sorry for the mentally handicapped man that these people stole from.  But at the same time, I have to ask anyone with their full mental capabilities “What the hell were you thinking?”  Did no one think to ask where this business was going to be, to insist on seeing the working conditions, want to get a feel for the place they would be spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at?

People, people, people.  Think.  Ask.  Expect good answers.  And if your gut is telling you this is too good to be true, you’ve never been this lucky before, then triple check and don’t give out ANY information unless you are sure they are a legitimate business.

Please, I’m tired of seeing these stories and asking “How could anyone fall for that?”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

King of Mussolini

I’ve been going through old video tapes and transferring them to DVD and then to mpeg so I can edit them and put pieces on here.  It takes a lot of time, but up until the editing part it’s all a “get it going and leave it alone” endeavor, so it takes up little of my own time.

I’d completely forgotten about this song those two 7th graders made up about me.  (That second verse is making fun of my Boston accent that still comes out with certain words).  It was my 4th year of teaching and I was still at, and enjoying, the first school I taught at. 

The kid who is singing the verses, not just the chorus, also happened to be the son of two people I went to high school with.

Anyhoo, here is the world debut of “Big Papa Rossi”

Monday, July 25, 2011

David and Goliath

I’m two blocks from home with Big Green’s trunk full of groceries and in the left turn lane the car goes dead.  It doesn’t sputter to a halt, no big bang followed by a cloud of smoke.  Just dead, like in that scene in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” (The original 1951 one with Michael Rennie, I never saw the Keanu Reeves remake.)

I turn the ignition key and nothing, not even a click.  When I open the door not even those little marker lights in the door, which take little to no electricity, are on.  Like someone just pulled the battery out of the car. 

I pop the hood thinking that maybe one of the battery terminals came loose.  Nope, but the battery came loose from it’s holder, which makes me think that it may have bumped up against the side of the engine compartment and shorted something out.  Crap!  Could cost anywhere from 35¢ for a new fuse to $600 for a shop to find the $2.65 part that fried out.

First step was to get it out of the middle of traffic.  Which, for a car this big, is pretty much impossible for one person.  Fortunately a really nice young man (named Steele, believe it or not) and his wife stopped to help.  After realizing that even with the two of us we couldn’t push it uphill and flip a U-turn into the car wash parking lot, decided to roll it backwards and try to push it into the Chevron parking lot.  He stood in the road and blocked traffic while I rolled the car to the entrance and when it hit the uphill part he tried to help the momentum and push it into the Chevron driveway.  Just as it got in the perfect position to block exit of the gas station, Big Green started rolling forward and I thought it best to hit the brakes before Steele became my new hood ornament.  Or worse, the grit in the tread of the tires.

We got his wife to get in the car so that the two of us could push it up the hill so that we could roll it into a parking spot.  Just as I thought the two of us were going to spring mutual hernias, a guy in a Corvette pulled over and joined in, along with two other customers from the Chevron.  It took 5 people to push the beast, and it really isn’t that bad a hill.

Once in one of the official parking stalls, I thanked them all profusely (and again here, if any of them are reading) and assured them that there really was nothing more that they could do.

I walked the two blocks to my house, grabbed the battery out of Christine (the convertible), hopped in Old Blue and headed back to the Chevron.  With Christine’s battery in, I still got nothing out of Big Green.  Damn!  My next thought was that I must have fried the main fusible link, but had absolutely no idea where that would be.  So I called The Gearheads to see if they knew.  They weren’t sure, but Mr. offered to head down and have a look-see with me.

When he got there he looked at the solenoid and we decided it looked like it could have been fried when the loose battery made contact with the car’s body.  So we headed back to my house and borrowed Christine’s solenoid, got back and started hooking it up.  While switching the wires we noticed a loose wire that wasn’t hooked to anything, one that looked like it had broken off the grommet that was still on the post of the old solenoid.  We hooked everything back up and the car started right up.

To make a long story a little less long, it was that one little wire which broke off it’s grommet that brought Big Green to his knees.   I’ve returned all of Christine’s parts to her, Big Green has his back, so the only difference between a working car and a dead car was that one wire.

Coulda saved me a lot of trouble if I had noticed it in the first place.

Now, this part may be even less interesting than the 704 words you’ve already read, unless you are a mechanical nut.

Old Blue, Christine and Big Green all use the exact same solenoid, which isn’t surprising since they are all Ford LTDs and were all produced within 4 years of each other.  What is surprising is that the ‘72 (Big Green) has the wires hooked up opposite of the ‘69 and ‘70.  I know they’re hooked up right on Big Green because whenever I switched the solenoid I did it piece by piece, leaving the rest hooked to the old solenoid.  I know Old Blue is hooked up right because I never unhooked them.  And even though I hooked up Christine’s opposite of Big Green’s, not only do they match Old Blue’s, but I started her up and she runs just fine.

(And Battlecruiser’s bizarre setup, just for fun)

Same solenoid, different hookup.  Go figure.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sick and/or Twisted

I'm sitting on my back porch and the thought "I wish school would start" comes to mind.
Yes, I know.  "What the hell are you thinking?"  Well, I probably wouldn't be thinking that if I had won the Utah State lottery*.  Idle Rich may be fun, but Idle Broke isn't.
Now I remember one of the reasons I liked working at the Chevron during the summer.  Not only did it give me extra money in my pocket, but the work itself, and the money it generated gave me something to do.
So it all boils down to the fact that I am actually excited to start school again.  I'm looking forward to working with some people I truly like working with**, and getting to meet a whole bunch of new people.  That's one of the things I like about teaching in general, every year I get to work with a different group of students.   I like learning about people and developing new relationships, even if it is at a rate of 50 minutes a day for only 9 months.
And even though I'm going to be working with a new faculty, there will be a lot of familiar faces.  I worked with the principal and one of the counselors for 7 years before, at two previous schools.  The new vice principal is coming from the same school that I am.  I've worked with 2 of the custodians at 2 different schools, with the front office secretary for couple years, and I've worked with 2 of the teachers before.  So it's going to be a mixture of meeting up with old friends and making new ones.
So yeah, chide me if you want to, but I'm ready for the new year.  And I'm willing to admit it.
*The Utah State lottery is run by, and benefits, the state of Idaho.  Officially, it is the Idaho State lottery, but since about a third of all tickets are sold in a small town right across the Utah/Idaho border, I think Utah deserves some of the credit.
**That doesn't mean I don't miss working with you readers out there that I used to work with. 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

Thematic Photographic’s theme is “Vacation”, and I immediately thought of one of the best ones I ever had.

For more good vacation pictures, or to add your own to the collection, click on the banner above.

For Thanksgiving in 2006, a big portion of my extended family spent a week in Puerto Vallarta.  We had one tenet for the week:  You do what you want.  If you’d rather sit on the beach and drink rather than swim with the dolphins, then that’s fine.  If you’d rather go shopping in town rather than try out the zip line, no problem.

Other than one outing to ride the zip line, I pretty much stayed on the beach.  It was perfect.  Temperature was wonderful, and if it did get warm, the ocean was right there.  Wonderful week.  Here are some of the pictures I took that week.

Sunset on the beach.

Mr. & Mrs. Gearhead ignoring the warning.

A bird on the beach.

Some kid riding the surf on a water board.

These two are a little bit blurry.  I had my cheaper camera for the zip ride expedition because I didn’t want to lose the good one.  Unfortunately I had it set on “closeup” and forgot to change it.

Here’s the truck that picked us up for the zip line.  The trip took at least an hour and took us through some rough looking areas and a lot of jungle type areas.  After about a half hour we started to wonder if we had been drafted into some Bolivian guerrilla unit.

My other brother, Pedro, on the zip line.  They went from a tree on one side of the gully to one on the other side.  They told us, afterwards, that we hit heights of up to 600 feet above the bottom of the valley and probably hit speeds up to 60 MPH.  And it was a blast!

Finally, one of my favorite sunset pictures ever.  I took this about the third night there, the boat was there, the abandoned chair too.  Just the sight of it still relaxes me.

Yeah, great vacation.  Do it again in a flash if I had the funds.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Math be Good.

When I go shopping I tend to keep a running tally of how much I’m spending.  I round up to account for tax, sometimes round down when I think I’ve done too much rounding up.  It gives me a good idea of how much I’m spending.

Today I got to the checkout counter, expecting it to be somewhere between $100 & $110.  It’s not a perfect system, if I got charged 30¢ extra for something I’d never know.

But today I noticed.  Harmons is having a 5 packs of meat for $20 deal this month.  Since I have a freezer in the basement I decided to take advantage of it and picked up 15 packs (about 1½ lbs each).

After he got done ringing me up the total was $132.47.  I knew something was wrong, but decided that instead of tying up the line just to find out I made a mathematical error, I decided to go over it at home.

Turns out I was right.  If you look at the receipt (click to see better)  it turns out that the first 5 packs were rung up as a group of 4 and a single one.  The computer is supposed to subtract the original amounts and add $20.  Well, it returned the single pack, but charged me the $20 plus the original $24.92 for the first 4 packs.

Fortunately I noticed this, went back to the store, was able to explain it to the Customer Service person and got a refund.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All is better than well.

Colonoscopy done.  Like my older brother warned me, the worst part of the whole thing is the 24 hours before the procedure.  I was knocked out for the actual event, and after just a couple hours I was up and feeling (relatively) normal.

I knew I picked the right doctor when, as they were prepping me, they asked me my birthday.  When I told them it was April 13th, one of the nurses told me that was her birthday too, but not the same year.  Then I said something about how I turned 13 on Friday the 13th and she started laughing.  She was born in ‘88 had her 13th birthday was on a Friday too.  Weird coincidence, and it might have been the anesthesia kicking in, but all of a sudden I felt a lot more relaxed.

And it was good news.  Not a single polyp.  Nothing. Nada.  Told me not to come back for ten years, 2021.

Whew!  Now I can watch those Doug Miller PSA commercials without feeling even a twinge of anxiety, just the sorrow for the preventable loss his family is living with.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Last night I had a light supper, 4 laxatives and an Olympic sized pool of water.  All I’ve had all day today is water, water and chicken broth.  And more laxatives.

About 5 PM my swamp cooler* sucked in all the smells of a class A barbeque.  My house, full of the smell of perfectly seared beef.  And me, with a stomach full of nothing but liquids.


Next time, I schedule my colonoscopy in the winter.

*For those of you in more humid areas, the swamp cooler is basically a huge fan on the roof of my house that sucks in outdoor air through wet pads to cool off the house.  When I moved out to Utah from Massachusetts and heard this, I thought “You put MORE water into the air?”

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I dunno, you think he’s relaxed?

Same chair, same cat, about 10 minutes apart.

Shameless Plug Alert

I’ll tell you this right up front:  For every person I get to sign up for Dropbox, I get 250MB extra storage for free (Up to 6GB).  Before you zip off the page ‘cause you think I'm selling something, this is a totally free service for 2GB or online storage, and if you sign up through my link, you get the extra 250MB too.  You can purchase more if you want to, but for 2GB it costs nothing.

I used to carry a portable hard drive from school to home and back that had all my school worksheets, spreadsheets and other papers.  I worked on them right off the portable hard drive because I got tired of forgetting which files had the updated stuff, and if I worked on something at school and then at home, I’d have new stuff on both.  This way I had only one copy.

A couple of months ago the principal at my new school told me about Dropbox.  I install a small program on any computer, it creates a Dropbox folder in “my documents” and as long as I’m connected to the internet, as soon as I put a new document in that folder, or update one that is already there, it synchronizes that folder with my online storage.

So, if I work on my seating charts at home and save them in the Dropbox folder, as soon as I get to school and connect to the internet the Dropbox folder there is updated and I have the new stuff at school.  No more carrying the hard drive.

I also have online access to the storage, so if I’m at a computer that does not have my Dropbox  programmed, I can just get online and download, work on and then upload the changes back to all my usual computers.

I’ve been using it, going back and forth to school, for the last couple months now and have had no problems at all with it.  I love it, can’t imagine doing without it.

Some of the drawbacks:

  • I don’t know what kinds of problems would arise if two people were working from the same folder, on the same file.  How would it know which one to keep?
  • If what you want to keep in it is a lot of pictures, don’t bother.  2GB isn’t going to hold too many pictures (unless they’re small).  That’s why I’m keeping the hard drive, to shuttle any pictures back and forth.
  • I also wouldn’t put any sensitive information on there.  It seems to be pretty secure, but I’m just paranoid like that.  My school stuff, although it has grades and other information, is not something anyone is going to get away with a lot of mischief with.

So, if you think you may be interested, please use the link below so that we both get credit for the extra 250MB.  If it sounds like something you’d never use, wouldn’t want to use, then no big deal.  The only stake I have in your trying this is an extra quarter GB.

If you are interested in how these companies make money off this, I learned this when I was the School Technology Specialist at the high school:
After the initial start up costs, the cost of an extra 2GB memory is so negligible that if they can get one out of every hundred people to sign up for the $10 or $20 monthly fee, they’re making a profit.  This is the same with things like gmail, Blogger and all these other online business that offer free memory space.  If one out every 100 blogs signs up for the advertising, they’re making money.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Parallel, finally.

As some of you know, I was at a Keyboarding Workshop in Springville, Utah this week.  I got these pictures at the abandoned gas station next door to the hotel I was staying at.
From this point, these poles holding up the sign don’t look very parallel, but they really are.
This is the gas pump island, no cars but a lot of parallel lines,
Finally, the two “Arby’s” on this sign were parallel too.
And frankly, having never taught Keyboarding before and considering the quality of the workshops I’ve been to lately, this one was unparalleled in the amount of good information I got out of it.

All of it.

I was at Office Depot picking up some supplies for my classroom next year and even after I had told the cashier that it would be tax exempt, because it’s for the school, she asked me “Would you like to donate any of these to a classroom?”

I told her “Yeah, they’re all going to a classroom.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What will they think of next?

Seriously, what do we do at work when our computer is down and we can’t play solitaire anymore?

I just spent the last 4 days at a Keyboarding workshop in Springville, Utah.  For those of you who don’t know, that’s in Utah County; the most conservative county in the most conservative state in the country.  The birth rate there rivals some of the third-worldyest countries on the planet, I think the median age in Orem, Utah is around 4½*.  There’s a joke we tell here in Utah;

“Welcome to Utah, please set your watches back 30 years.”
They go back 20 more when crossing into Utah county.

Anyhoo, considering I’ve never taught Keyboarding before, and will be next year, it was an incredibly informative workshop.   I actually have a pretty good idea of how I’ll be teaching the class.  It’ll probably change as I learn how things work with the kids, but before the workshop I had nothing.  Zip.

So I didn’t want to spend an hour commuting through 30 miles of road construction twice a day, so I just stayed in a hotel down there.  Which meant for pretty boring evenings.  I had to find something to do, so I went to the Wal*Mart that was conveniently right around the corner from the hotel.  And what did I find to while my time away?   A manual solitaire game.  Yup, someone was smart enough to come up with these little pieces of paper we can use to simulate the solitaire program.

Just like the real solitaire, you play it on the desktop and you can turn either 3 cards,

or only one at a time.

It’s played exactly like the real solitaire, except instead of clicking and holding, you have to actually use your hand and pick them up to move the cards. One of the drawbacks I discovered is that you can’t just pick up the top card of a set and expect the whole column to follow you along, you have to pick up all the cards to move them.

But on the other side, cheating is a whole lot easier…..

* That is an exaggeration, but not as extreme as you’d think.

If you weren’t sure of my politics before…

I apologize if anyone is offended by this political view, but he says what I’ve been saying for a couple years now, and in a lot funnier way. (Well, not the verdict part, but the rest).

And just for the record, I found this on one of the blogs I follow -

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Potty party.

Came home today, put new litter in the cats’ litter box and immediately they both decided to take it for a trial run, at the same time.

Please forgive the quality of the picture, I took it with my cell phone.  Cat’s don’t dawdle there, so I knew that I had to act fast and didn’t have time to get the good camera out.

And just because I need to counteract the “ewww” factor of a picture of them in the litter box, here’s three “awwww” pictures.

Alan in his favorite sleeping corner.

Except when they want to cuddle together on my chair.

And Denny (I think) helping me do the dishes,
although he looks a little perplexed.