Sunday, September 30, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday September 30, 2007

(Y'all will have to enlarge these photos to get a good view so that you can see what I talk about in the text below.)

Straight photo of afternoon sun and clouds over the Indian River Lagoon, from the Melbourne Causeway, Melbourne, Florida.

Same exact photo as just above, after using the Orton process on it.

Straight photo of the Indian River Lagoon as seen from Rykman Park in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Same exact photo as just above, after using the Orton process on it.

Orton process done on a photo of one of Lovely Wife's ixora plants.

The Orton process is a photography technique created by photographer Michael Orton.

He would use 35mm slide film, camera set on a tripod to allow several identical scenes to be photographed, and take, say, two photos of the same scene, both overexposed (too bright), one in sharp focus, and one way out of focus as to be pretty blurry.

After processing, he would take the two slide images, sandwich them on top of one another and make a print.

The sharp one, juxtaposed with the blurry one, ends up creating a gorgeous, glowing, soft quality in the resulting photo.

With the magic of digital editing via Photoshop Elements, I've finally, after much trial and (mostly) error over the past year to try to replicate this look in digital photos, come pretty darn close.

Here are two photos of the Indian River Lagoon, here in this area, with the Orton process look worked on them.

I have put the straight photo and the Orton process version of each on here.

The final photo, of some of Lovely Wife's ixora, has the Orton process worked on it as well.

This seems to have a much more pleasing and dramatic effect on photos with lots of sunlight in them. The ixora photo looks really nice, but it doesn't knock my socks off like the first two.

Which do you like best?

I'm totally loving the second one in the post, with the orangey sky and the Orton process' dreamy addition to it.

I posted a new panorama today over at John's Daily Digital Images if you want to go over there and take a gander at it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

All Sodas Are Coke

It was a dark week for me at work this week. (Yeah, it rained some, but I'm really speaking of a "something bad happened" kind of darkness here.)

The building that I work in is very large, two stories, but Lord only knows how many square feet.

The closest Coke machine to my office is completely at the other end of the building. And the layout of the building is such that it's easily a 250-300yard/meter distance.

Now before you start in the comments on the evils of Coke, let me state that I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I free have admitted that I overeat too many of my meals, but I want a Coke now and then too, by golly!

And it's not that I mind the walk, I like getting away from my desk as much as the next person, but my gimpy left leg was giving me the damaged nerve equivalent of an electric shock with ever step on it.

I usually bring a couple of Sam's Choice cola's (diet and caffeine free so there!) but I usually throw whatever change I have in my pocket in one of my desk drawers at work so that on the days that I didn't bring any drinks, I can trek down to the Coke machine to get me some carbonated liquid goodness.

Wednesday was just such a day. I happened to have a one dollar bill in my wallet and decided that I was going to go buy myself a Coke Zero (love them thangs!) to have with my lunch. Notice I'm not telling you what I brought for lunch, let me just say that I believe that diet Coke cancels out the calories in, say, lasanga, if I were to have something like that for lunch;)

Anyhoo, I walk all the way over to THAT corner of this massive building and put my dollar in the Coke machine. It accepts my nice, crisp one dollar bill.

I then push the button for Coke Zero.

Nothing happens.

I push the other button for Coke Zero.


Then the engineer side of me kicks in an starts running through the possible reasons why this stupid machine won't give me my Coke Zero.

It didn't flash the little "Sorry, Empty, please make another choice" light.

That could really only leave one other possibility.

Oh No!

The price of the Cokes have gone from $1.00 for a 20oz Coke, to $1.25! Oh the humanity!

So I sadly, painfully walk back to my desk on the other side of the building.

Have I mentioned how stinkin' big this building is?

I get $0.25 from my stash of change and walk all the way back over there and get my Coke Zero, and come back so I can eat my lunch.

I work in an area with about 8 others in a small "Dilbertville" cubicle cluster. As a public service to my fellow engineers who also succumb to the temtation to walk a mile for a Camel Coke, I announced, "I have sad news everyone. The Cokes have gone up to a dollar twenty five."

There was some weeping and knashing of teeth, and a few I don't believe it's and so forth.

Then the whole conversation took a weird, North and South kind of turn, because one guy asked if the Pepsi machine's prices had gone up too.

And I said, "I'm sorry, you misunderstand me, though it's all my fault. I'm from the South, and in the South ALL SODAS/POP/SOFT DRINKS/CARBONATED DRINKS are Coke unless otherwise stated."

The price having been raised conversation was totally forgotten at this pronouncement.

He asked, "What do you mean?"

I said, "In the Southern United States, ALL soft drinks, regardless of brand and flavor are referred to as Coke."

I said, "Let me give you an example. In the South, I might, since I'm going to the Coke machine, ask if you want a Coke. You might reply, "why yes, John. I would love one." at which point I would ask, "what kind" and you may reply, "Dr. Pepper, or Fanta Orange, or whatever" and I would say, "OK, I'll be back in a few minutes."

He said, "That makes no sense!"

I replied, "Well, I'm not saying it's right, I'm not saying it makes sense, I'm just saying that's the way it is in much of the South. That all soft drinks are Coke, until a particular soft drink is mentioned by name."

He just looked dumbfounded, and I just stood there looking like an idiot, because, really, it doesn't make sense, it just IS.

Then my friend from the next cubicle, a Clemson graduate and South Carolinian by birth and raising, came around to where Mike and I were and said, "Yep. That's the way it was where I'm from too, everything's Coke until you specify otherwise." And he laughed at the look on Mike's face.

Me alone, he might have thought I was just pulling his leg. But with a level 4 engineer who is smarter than Mike and I put together agreeing with me that it was thus in the South; that somehow convinced him I wasn't trying to get a joke over on him.

From now on, when I go to the Coke machine, I'm going to specifically ask Mike if he wants a Coke.

If he ever says yes, I'm going to take great pleasure in asking him "What kind?"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Jena Six

At the risk of losing some readers, I'm going to tackle this subject, from my own point of view of course. You may disagree, but that's cool. This is America.

What few people that come here and read my blog probably understand by now that I was born and raised in Louisiana. I was born in Bastrop, Louisiana, near the border with Arkansas, and I consider Monroe, about a 45 minute drive south of the Arkansas border in northeast Louisiana to be my home town. Photo Credit:(matthew hinton/afp/getty images)

Sainted Mother, Big Sis and her family, and Younger Brother all live in Monroe to this day.

But both of my parents, as well as all four of my grandparents were born and raised in LaSalle Parish in central Louisiana.

The parish seat of LaSalle Parish is Jena.

Yes, THAT Jena.

Both of my parents graduated from Jena High School in the early 1950s.

Yes, the same exact building that was marched upon last week; it was opened in 1948.

I spent a couple of weeks in Jena every summer as a kid at my maternal grandparent's home. They both lived there until their deaths in the 1980s.

While this by no means makes me an expert on all things about Jena, Louisiana. I have at least been there unpteen squillion times in my life as a kid and as an adult.

I'm going to talk about it now that I'm cooled off enough to do so.

I haven't said anything on here before now about the "Jena Six" simply because I think they are criminals who got caught at it, and then played the race card to try to avoid jail time for their crimes.

Had it been six white kids catching a black kid off-guard, knocked him out and kicked him repeatedly as he lay on the ground, I would have been just as outraged.

I think that had six white kids done that to a black kid, that they should have been arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

I hate destructive criminals who can ruin a person's life, regardless of their race, color, or creed.

The truth is, the victim in all of this, Justin Barker, had nothing to do with the hanging of nooses in a tree on the school's campus.

The noose incident had happened months before Justin Barker was beaten and kicked senseless.

The truth is that the beating these six teens gave another teen HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH NOOSES HANGING IN A SCHOOL TREE. NOTHING.

The truth of the matter is that six kids, who happened to be black, waited for a white kid to come along alone, and Justin was unfortunately that person.

If there is racism in this whole situation with regards to the Jena Six, it's black on white racism.

What?! Did you say what I thought you just said?

Yep. And I'll retype that, if there is racism in this whole situation with regards to the Jena Six, it's black on white racism.

Not the other way around like the Poverty Pimps, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have made it out to be.

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are liars. Liars. They represent no one else beside themselves.

Yesterday, September 26, there was the most awesome editorial in the New York Times, by Reed Walters, the District Attorney of LaSalle Parish, Lousiana; the man most unjustly vilified and wrongfully hated for bringing these six CRIMINALS to trial.

I will print his editorial here in it's entirety. (The New York Times can sue me if they want to. I don't really care.)
The New York Times,

September 26, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

Justice in Jena


Jena, La.

THE case of the so-called Jena Six has fired the imaginations of thousands, notably young African-Americans who, according to many of their comments, believe they will be in the vanguard of a new civil rights movement. Whether America needs a new civil rights movement I leave to social activists, politicians and the people who must give life to such a cause.

I am a small-town lawyer and prosecutor. For 16 years, it has been my job as the district attorney to review each criminal case brought to me by the police department or the sheriff, match the facts to any applicable laws and seek justice for those who have been harmed. The work is often rewarding, but not always.

I do not question the sincerity or motivation of the 10,000 or more protesters who descended on Jena last week, after riding hundreds of miles on buses. But long before reaching our town of 3,000 people, they had decided that a miscarriage of justice was taking place here. Their anger at me was summed up by a woman who said, “If you can figure out how to make a schoolyard fight into an attempted murder charge, I’m sure you can figure out how to make stringing nooses into a hate crime.”

That could be a compelling statement to someone trying to motivate listeners on a radio show, but as I am a lawyer obligated to enforce the laws of my state, it does not work for me.

I cannot overemphasize how abhorrent and stupid I find the placing of the nooses on the schoolyard tree in late August 2006. If those who committed that act considered it a prank, their sense of humor is seriously distorted. It was mean-spirited and deserves the condemnation of all decent people.

But it broke no law. I searched the Louisiana criminal code for a crime that I could prosecute. There is none.

Similarly, the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, who is African-American, found no federal law against what was done.

A district attorney cannot take people to trial for acts not covered in the statutes. Imagine the trampling of individual rights that would occur if prosecutors were allowed to pursue every person whose behavior they disapproved of.

The “hate crime” the protesters wish me to prosecute does not exist as a stand-alone offense in Louisiana law. It’s not that our Legislature has turned a blind eye to crimes motivated by race or other personal characteristics, but it has addressed the problem in a way that does not cover what happened in Jena. The hate crime statute is used to enhance the sentences of defendants found guilty of specific crimes, like murder or rape, who chose their victims based on race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors.

Last week, a reporter asked me whether, if I had it to do over, I would do anything differently. I didn’t think of it at the time, but the answer is yes. I would have done a better job of explaining that the offenses of Dec. 4, 2006, did not stem from a “schoolyard fight” as it has been commonly described in the news media and by critics.

Conjure the image of schoolboys fighting: they exchange words, clench fists, throw punches, wrestle in the dirt until classmates or teachers pull them apart. Of course that would not be aggravated second-degree battery, which is what the attackers are now charged with. (Five of the defendants were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder.)

But that’s not what happened at Jena High School.

The victim in this crime, who has been all but forgotten amid the focus on the defendants, was a young man named Justin Barker, who was not involved in the nooses incident three months earlier. According to all the credible evidence I am aware of, after lunch, he walked to his next class. As he passed through the gymnasium door to the outside, he was blindsided and knocked unconscious by a vicious blow to the head thrown by Mychal Bell. While lying on the ground unaware of what was happening to him, he was brutally kicked by at least six people.

Imagine you were walking down a city street, and someone leapt from behind a tree and hit you so hard that you fell to the sidewalk unconscious. Would you later describe that as a fight?

Only the intervention of an uninvolved student protected Mr. Barker from severe injury or death. There was serious bodily harm inflicted with a dangerous weapon — the definition of aggravated second-degree battery. Mr. Bell’s conviction on that charge as an adult has been overturned, but I considered adult status appropriate because of his role as the instigator of the attack, the seriousness of the charge and his prior criminal record.

I can understand the emotions generated by the juxtaposition of the noose incident with the attack on Mr. Barker and the outcomes for the perpetrators of each. In the final analysis, though, I am bound to enforce the laws of Louisiana as they exist today, not as they might in someone’s vision of a perfect world.

That is what I have done. And that is what I must continue to do.

Reed Walters is the district attorney of LaSalle Parish.

My Younger Brother was beaten badly by two drunk men about two months ago, just like Justing Barker, FOR NO REASON AT ALL.

I feel such contempt for the protesters of these criminal young men in Jena that it is absolutely impossible for me to put it into words.

I'll just say this, I feel about the contemptible protesters in Jena last week, as if 10,000 people showed up to protest FOR the drunkards that beat up my brother. These drunkards were evil and wrong to beat up my brother who had been asleep two minutes prior to his beating, just as these scumbag JENA SIX were evil and wrong to beat up a single unaware student as he walked out of his school gym's doors.

He never saw it coming, and the only reason they beat him was because they were black, and wanted to beat a white kid.

If that isn't racism, I have no concept of that word.

America is going to hell in a hand basket, and 10,000 morons traveling from all over the country to participated in protesting in favor of black on white racism proves this much better than this blogger can hope to by typing some words.

There truly is still racism in America. No doubt about it.

No doubt at all.

And it ain't all white on black racism either.

My incredulous thanks to The New York Times for having the courage to print Mr. Walters' editorial in full. Maybe some of the liberals who were in favor of the protest march in favor of the criminal Jena Six will read, understand what really happened, and Wake The Hell up!

I can only reason that there are so many people in America that lament the fact that they were too young to protest in the sixties, are hippies at heart, and too stupid to find out the facts of the case, and came on down to Jena to feel like they did something to help their fellow man.

These misguided souls only succeeded in showing themselves to be ignorant fools who may have helped the Jena Six criminals escape the justice they deserve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Digital Theory Professor

When I was in college working toward my engineering degree, I had to take a couple of digital electronics classes.

The professor was 70 at the time, and had no interest in retiring.

At least once per week he would say, "I'm one of those lucky people who happens to be able to work at something I LOVE to do."

He was a difficult professor though, because he was one of those guys who taught certain things in class and assigned homework to cover that, but when test time came, it was as if he chose test questions from something we hadn't studied yet.

So to survive, you had to not only do the assigned homework, you had to read ALL of the sections of each chapter he covered and work the book's problems on those other sections as well to study for his tests. In other words, his tests covered everything in the intervening text chapters, whether he had actually talked about them in class or not.

Lots of people dropped his class because they couldn't pass his tests. When told that you had to learn some extra material on your own even if he hadn't taught it specifically in class, these students would whine and moan and they made up the lion's share of the people dropping the class.

Initiative was the dividing factor between those who dropped out of engineering school and those who would graduate and get jobs doing the work they were trained for.

Their laziness problem wasn't the worst of it either. He was the only instructor in the electrical engineering department that taught digital theory and digital laboratory. So if they were EE majors, they were going to have to suck it up somehow, and study the whole chapters to pass his tests.

As a non-traditional student (ie "older than most other students") I had no problem visiting my professors during their required office hours to ask questions so that my homework could be completed correctly. Visiting this professor allowed me to get help with the parts of the chapters he hadn't covered in class, and I was ready for Freddie when test time came around.

Another bonus for visiting him was that he took this as a sign that a student was truly interested and when final grade time came and you were half a point overall from the next higher grade, he tended to give the half point and assign the higher grade to those who visited him during his office hours.

So instead of complaining and dropping the class, I was able to figure out how to learn the material he taught; the material that he didn't teach but that we were still responsible for, and do well on the tests.

After all that, and the years between then and now, when I think back on this professor, what I remember the most is his glasses.

Yes, his glasses.

He was a tall man with a bit of a pot belly, and unbelievably thick glasses.

He could carry more things in his shirt pocket than I can, which is saying a lot, because people make fun of me and all of my pens, markers, moleskine notebook, ipod, etc, that I keep in my one shirt pocket. His pocket stayed so full that it pulled forward and showed you what all was in there.

I don't think his glasses had ever been cleaned. I think the day he bought them they probably came from the optometrist cleaned, but I'm fairly certain that he had never cleaned them himself since.

I sat in the front in all of my classes, and I would often find myself hypnotized by this man's glasses. I'd lose track of what he was lecturing on and would be so fascinated by his dirty glasses, wondering how he could possibly see well enough to even walk down the hall, that on many occasions I would have to teach myself that day's lesson from the book because I couldn't remember what he had said. I had been watching his glasses and marveling at their incredibly dirty state.

My work these days is in digital engineering, and I often think of this professor and the foundation that was laid for my career in those classes.

But I honestly remember his glasses more than his classes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Folder Clone

(This is not a paid endorsement.)

I want to tell you about a neat little program that I found, and I LOVE it.

It's called Folder Clone.

Right now, I have about 200GB of scanned slides, digital photos, scanned negatives, and music files.

I had no backup of most of this for over a year.

I got a second hard drive for the old computer a little over a year ago, and saved a copy of the most important stuff over there. But on that computer, that second hard drive operated so slow it was almost useless.

A few months ago I bought a 500GB external hard drive and bought an enclosure and turned that 160GB hard drive from an internal one to an external USB drive.

Then I also bought a newer, faster desktop to allow me to work on my photos and things better (and faster).

So, new computer with a 250GB internal hard drive, a 500GB external, and 160GB external hard drives.

But how was I to come up with a process for backing up all of my stuff?

I had one simple rule I wanted to follow: I wanted every image and every song file on at least two different hard drives at all times.

It would be quite a freak accident to lose all of the hard drives simultaneously.

Instead of trying to keep up with it all file by file, I searched the internet for a reasonably priced software program that would do the work for me.

After downloading and using the free trial period of a few clone programs, I finally bought a copy of Folder Clone for $29.95.

I'm good with computers, and have used them for years, and do not require the slickest looking programs. I just want them to work, be easy to use, and fast.

With Folder Clone, it took me literally five minutes to set up one scenario to backup my 35mm slide and negative scans, one scenario to back up all of my digital photos (digital originals and photoshop enhanced copies and stuff), and one scenario to back up all of my music files from all of my music CDs.

One example on how it works should let you see how easy and helpful it is.

This past Friday and Saturday I photographed a wedding rehearsal, the wedding, and the reception.

A total of almost 400 new photographs.

Saturday night when I got home from the wedding/reception I immediately downloaded the 329 photos to my computer. That took almost half an hour, because each photograph was saved as one RAW file as well as a matching JPEG file. 329 unique photographs, but 658 separate files totalling 2GB.

Once they were on the appropriate hard drive, I opened Folder Clone. I highlighted the one scenario (of the three I described above) that would back up all of my digital photos.

Folder Clone takes about one minute to compare the "original" folder to the "target" folder on another hard drive.

It produces a list of each and every difference between the two and asks if I want to make the two folders exactly the same.

In this case, when I clicked on yes (make the two folders exactly alike) it starts churning and you see the lights on the two separate hard drives flickering on and off as the program does this work.

It then shows that all tasks are complete and I then had these precious wedding photos copied onto two separate hard drives.

It took 30 minutes to download the 2GB of wedding photos from the camera to the hard drive, but it only took Folder Clone 3 minutes total to make complete copies of all 658 files onto a second hard drive.

I then went into each separate folder and confirmed visually that I did indeed have two separate copies of each file in two different places.

Then I erased the disk in my camera so that it was ready in case the dogs did something cute that I wanted to photograph, or whatever.

So Folder Clone can scan through tens of thousands of files on two hard drives in about one minute, comparing each and every file in the folders you have told it to compare. It will then, at your command, make the target folders exactly like your original folders.

It is so fast and easy to use, that when I'm through each night with doing whatever I've done on my computer, it only takes 2-3 minutes to make those exact changes on the second or target location.

Right now, all of the stuff that I care about and want to have backups for on my computer, are in two separate locations, exactly like one another.

As far as I'm concerned, this simple little program is worth more than $29.95 worth of effort to do it all myself.

If you have need of something similar to back up all of your photos or whatever files are important to you, Folder Clone is relatively cheap and does a tedious job very quickly and accurately.

When I'm through each night, I watch it go and I say "I love this program."

For the first time I have all of my photos and file backed up, and I sleep easier because of it.

(By the way, this isn't a Pay Per Post thingy. I don't care to do that. I'm just trying to hook y'all up with a simple, fast program if you need this kind of backing up for your files.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Do You Do This Too?

Years ago, in the late seventies, my parents bought our first color (console) TV.

Then in 1978 or 1979, they subscribed to HBO. Back during those days, they only started movies on the hour or half hour. So if a movie finished at 7:47pm, they would show commercials for upcoming movies and also really neat little film shorts to fill the time until the next movie was to start.

Younger Brother and I loved these things. One favorite was a homemade looking movie short called Hardware Wars, a spoof of Star Wars with kitchen appliances as the space ships.

Thanks to the internet, you can sometimes find these old films on places like youtube and get to watch them again for the first time in 25 years or so.

Not too long ago I saw Hardware Wars, but it had been since forever that I had seen one called Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind, a short that spoofs Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

A week or so ago, when I had been out photographing things to make the panoramas I've shown here recently, I came across this:

and this:

and wondered why I felt compelled to make those photos in the first place.

But every time I have seen a row of mailboxes like that for the past 25 years I sing the song from Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind.

In the classic movie Close Encounters, the character played by Richard Dreyfuss stops his work truck and a space ship comes over him. He looks out the truck window and the force of the space ship going over makes a row of mailboxes rattle and shake. It's a creepy part of the movie.

But in the spoof Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind, the mailboxes sing a song in the style of an old spiritual song.
Gonna build a mountain!
Gonna build a mountain (gonna build a mountain)
In your livin' room (your livin' room)
Gonna build a mountain
And it's gonna be keen!

It's funny how stuff like that sticks with you all of your life, and you can't help but think of it whenever you see a row of mailboxes.

You can see Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind on youtube. It's in two parts there on youtube, and the mailbox scene is in part 1 here. The mailbox scene is about 5:30 into part one.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday September 23, 2007

Has there ever been a wedding in man's recorded history that started on time?

I knew it was going to be a long day yesterday when I saw the bride of the wedding that I was photographing in the halls of the church in blue jeans and the very time the wedding was supposed to start.

It eventually began and was a truly beautiful wedding. I had lots of fun and shot 329 pictures.

They should have enough good ones from that many to keep them happy.

I loaded them onto the computer and immediately copied them to an external hard drive too, as soon as I got home.

It will probably take me a couple of weeks in the evenings to get them all prepared, some have red eyed people and some just need brightness adjusted, but that many is going to take a good bit of time to work on.

I had fun, and was glad to do it. Plus, they had lasagna catered from Olive Garden and I had a couple of hunks when everyone else was eating.

I'll try to put up a couple of the pics here as I get some prepared, and I'd like to ask their permission, though it shouldn't matter. It's not like any of you know this couple, but I'd like to be sure anyway.

So today I'm giving you a couple of other photos that I've worked on recently since I'm not going to put up any wedding photos for a few days at least.

Both photos were taken at different locations on the Indian River Lagoon, our section of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The black and white one looked like a moonlight on the water photo, even in color, so I adjusted it in Elements to kinda make it look like either one, the sun or moon.

I really like how that one turned out.

The second photo, I just loved the rays of sun on the left, but also that big mass of dark cloud separating the two lit sections.

Have a great Sunday folks.

I have a really nice photo of a flower growing wild in a vacant lot across the street from our home, and I posted it today on my John's Daily Digital Images blog if y'all care to go over and see it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wedding Rehersal Sky

I'm shooting a wedding at our church this afternoon.

The rehearsal was yesterday evening.

I went to the church straight from work, and the sky was amazing. It had been storming earlier, and as the sky started to clear, it really began to look great in both the east (photos 2 and 3) and the west (photo 1).

And, that's about all I have to say. I'm tired and going to bed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Good Old Days

It has been a long time since I have walked into any kind of business that had video games in there.

The pizza chain I used to manage restaurants for always had a few in there.

You know, the old-school, 2 meter tall video games like Pac Man or Ms. Pac Man or Donkey Kong or whatever.

To entice people to play, the video game would be all lit up, lights a-flashing, simulating the actual game that you could play.

Know what I mean?

When my daughters were little and if we were in a place with video games, they would ask if they could go over an play the video game.

We would say yes, that's OK.

Off they would scoot, grab the knob, press buttons or whatever that particular game had for controls, and start playing.

All the while, intently watching the screen.

They would have a blast until the food was ready and we would call them back over to eat.


...they got old enough and smart enough to want quarters to put into the machines.

That was a sad day for me and Lovely Wife.

It's been downhill ever since.

And don't get me started on Christmas.

I miss how cheap and gullible little kids are to keep entertained.

Or were cheap and gullible.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

This Is SO Stupid

The University of Central Florida is in Orlando.

You may have never heard of it, but it's one of the ten largest universities in the United States.

It's a fine school academically. Almost 50,000 students. Growing and becoming more of a force in college sports every year.

Up until this season, their football team played it's games in the Citrus Bowl, a stadium in Orlando.

Their own campus football stadium was finished this year in time for the football season.

This past Saturday was their first home game ever on the campus, and they were rightly proud of their new 45,000 seat stadium.


They were able to get the stadium built under the OLD building codes.

So what, you say?

The newer building codes mandate that there must be at least one public water fountain for every 1,000 seats in the stadium.

But they built this brand new stadium WITHOUT EVEN ONE PUBLIC WATER FOUNTAIN.

They hosted the University of Texas football team this past Saturday afternoon and almost won the game. If nothing else, the University of Texas will never, ever take UCF for granted in any future games.


Paramedics had to treat folks in the stands for heat exhaustion because of the greed of the University of Central Florida's powers that be.

See, a bottle of water at the stadium costs a whopping $3. That's highway robbery.

UCF's football team showed themselves proud in a very close loss to Texas, but that water situation is an out and out disgrace.

Stupid greedy people.

Update: News Flash!
On the Orlando news last night they said that officials were now going to install 50 water fountains in the new stadium, after last Saturday's fiasco.

Of course, nobody knows when the new water fountains will be installed, but the politicians said they would, so you know it will be done quickly and under budget.


And In Other, More Positive News...

I posted another spiffy panorama photo on my John's Daily Digital Images blog today.

Y'all go on over and check it out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wordy Wednesday

I don't do Wordless Wednesday. I feel compelled to have words with my photos. They mean so much more when there's even just a little bit of context.

These were taken when I was on a photo excursion this past Saturday. They are both photos of the Indian River Lagoon.

One of the most beautiful things on earth to me is sunlight glinting on the little ripples in water. This was a magical, timeless looking scene of a public pier out into the Indian River Lagoon.

This second one was taken from beside the Melbourne Causeway, our closest bridge to the barrier island and the Atlantic Ocean. This is looking back toward the mainland. I loved the rays of the sun in this one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Sis Turns 50 Years Old Today!

Happy Birthday! We love you girl. Have a great day!

Here she is as a mere sprout, with Big Brother. Hoping to grow into those shoes and boots one day, no doubt.

Here's the birthday girl with a fantastic Christmas present; a Bobby Sherman album! That's pure, joyous rapture on her face there.

Here she is with the puppy she found, kept, and named Sara. That's Big Brother and Younger Brother there too. I have no idea where I was.

Enjoy your day, and I hope you get some good vittles tonight.

Also, a happy birthday to our cousin Alesa, who shares the same birthday as Big Sis. Though Alesa is a bit younger than Big Sis.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's Monday, I'm Hurting, Yer Gettin' Another Picture

But not just any picture.

I took photos with the hopes of creating panoramas afterward, on the computer.

They came out better than I had any right to hope for.

Here's one. You'll have to enlarge and, depending on your browser settings, maybe scroll left and right to see it all.

I posted a different panorama, taken from the bottom of the stairs that are in this photo, on John's Daily Digital Images on yesterday. You'll have to scroll down a little to see it on yesterday's post.

(Shame on you if you read this blog and don't go over there for a minute to see the photos I post almost every day.)

Let me know what y'all think.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday September 16, 2007

On Sunday August 26, I posted a few photos from a tour of Delta Airlines's facilities in Atlanta in 1989. I thought I would post a few more this Sunday.

I mentioned that week that Delta had the capability to create any part on any plane or engine that they needed, on-site in the Atlanta hangar complex.

This first photo coming up is related to that. For example, each of the many fan blades within a jet engine are individually made for that particular spot within that particular set of blades. Sounded crazy to me, but true; we saw men meticulously shaping and numbering jet engine fan blades.

Once fan blades, or any metal part is fashioned the way they want it to be, the items need to be cooked in ovens to temper. The working of metal causes weaknesses in the areas bent and hammered, and the cooking in the ovens allows the metal's molecules to realign into their strongest positions in relation to one another.

All of that is a lead-up to this first photo. Guess what it is? Wow! Y'all are SO SMART! Yes, it's an oven. (Pause for look at gratuitous oven photo.) On our tour, they filed the 8 or so of us into this big room where the temperature of the room was about 125 degrees F. Then the oven in the photo below started to open and all of us instinctively took a step back. I myself took two steps back. (I used to be TERRIFIED of ovens, and wouldn't even reach into our home oven to get something out until I was 18 or so.) When this door slid up and I saw those heating elements glowing orange like that I almost bolted from the room. I finally squashed the urge to flee in a screaming fit and remembered the camera around my neck and stepped in front of the rest of the group to take this photo. I took a total of two photos in this room, and this was the better of the two.They pulled that big kettle out onto the metal rails you see coming into the photo from the left. They said they had to let it cool a couple of days before they could even open the kettle, but they had another one from a few days before that they had just opened, and they had put stuff inside on the bottom, put a metal shelf above that, put in more items needing to be cooked, and then another shelf until the whole kettle was full.

They had four of these ovens in that room, and one other one was in operation that day. They said in busy times when they had to run all four ovens simultaneously, that sometimes Georgia Power would cal them and ask them to turn off one or more of them. They sucked so much current from the power system that on high demand days for the power company, they couldn't handle Delta running these ovens. They would operate them up to 2000 degrees F.

Anyway, it was scary and fascinating at the same time.

This next photo is of a jet engine being overhauled. Those two things on metal arms above and below the engine are part of the reverse thrust system that jet engines have. You know how loud the plane gets when you are on one that first touches down on landing? It's like the engines get really loud for several seconds? These big "flaps" open away from the engine as you see in this photo, and they actually come all the way around and behind the engine until their ends touch one another. Then the engines are revved really high like for takeoff, except that these flaps are now directing the engine's thrust up and down and slightly forward, which slows the plane down really quickly. That's what all the noise is when you first touch down, and why you're slung forward into your seat. It isn't that the engine actually can reverse it's thrust, it's just redirected forward against the momentum of the plane to help slow it down. Cool, huh?

This next photo is one of the pilot testing stations in one of the buildings across the street from Delta's main headquarters. It's away from the hangars but near the Atlanta airport. The lower part of the building houses all of the flight simulators for the various aircraft that Delta operates, while the upper floors has training and testing areas.In a mock up of a cockpit like in the photo is where pilots sit and are tested by FAA personnel. They simulate problems, normal flights, and whatnot to allow them to be observed and tested by the FAA to keep up their certifications.

This final photo is of the front end of the same old crop duster that I showed before. I put this photo here because you can see a bit of the room and the flight attendant's uniforms used throughout the years, models of all the different aircraft that Delta has used over the years, and on the walls you can see various incarnations of the Delta logo as it has been used over the years as well. Neat stuff to see. Looking at this photo is kind of like looking at old family Christmas photos; looking at all the other stuff in the room in the photos is just as fun as seeing our families at earlier times.As I said, I took this tour in the late 1980s and I still remember being in this room and thinking of how far powered flight had come in the then 85 years or so since Orville and Wilbur Wright had made their famous first successful flights.

If you like planes and jets, you should go see this old post of mine where I posted some photos of British Airways's Concorde on one of it's visits to DFW Airport in the late 1980s as well.

Today on my other blog, I posted my first ever panoramic photo. I stitched together a series of nine or so photographs that I took of the beach yesterday. So the photo is super fresh.

Be sure and click on it to enlarge it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Something for Saturday

Sorry about the math thing yesterday, folks.

Sometimes I get full of myself, and maybe I'm a teacher at heart, so stuff like that just comes out.

Only problem is that I don't get along with kids too great. Especially other people's kids, so I would last about two weeks as a teacher and by then I'd have to kill somebody.

Engineering's the next best thing I guess. I get to do and know neat stuff, but don't have to deal with kids.

I love my daughters and their friends, but they're mostly good, earnest young adults.

But trying to teach the whole baggy pants, sideways baseball cap, and stoner crowds would lead me to murder as sure as anything.

I'm really good at untangling necklaces and knots in ropes and strings, but you can't make a living doing that.

I love photography, but there are about 100million people in America that love it too and I don't have the drive to try to make a living in photography.

Weird but true. I have the drive to learn math, physics, and electrical stuff, and to do engineering work, and although I like it, I'm not passionate about it.

So I guess I'll keep on with the engineering as a day job. Do my photography and writing on the side.

And dream a lot, like most people do, that I wish I had the courage to make a go at writing or photography for a living.

Pictures tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Imaginary Numbers Really Exist (I'm Really, Really Serious!)

Warning: Geek stuff ahead.

As children we learn to do some basic counting and learn to recognize basic colors.

We consider this counting to be as "real" and "true" as we do the colors. (Remember the big, fat Crayolas in the box of 8 we all had in first grade?)

Some of us eventually learn the difficult task of using fractions while some never get the hang of it but learn to make do; my daughters still have trouble choosing the right measuring cup,

We have even learned to accept that negative numbers are real.

We have a number line, with 0 in the middle, positive numbers heading off into infinity on the right, while negative numbers do the same on the left of the zero. Now them negative numbers are a bit disconcerting to some folks, but after years of being charged huge fees by their banks because their checking accounts dipped into negative territory, even these disconcerted folks understand that a negative number can exist and also have an impact on their lives to boot.

If I'm Silas Marner, sitting alone in my humble abode counting my coins, I might be able to make do with just the number line approach to numbers and might consider fractions to be useless and even maybe that they don't exist at all.

But time and the advancing world have shown that, yes, even fractional numbers exist and in some cases are quite useful.

If Silas Marner became the person that had to compare the sizes of the piles of coins in each home in his community, fractions would be very useful. Bob's pile of coins might only be 1/2 the size of Mr. Marner's. You get the picture.

Heck, even the Greeks (the ancient ones) had number issues. For a long time they believed that all numbers were "rational," or that all numbers could be expressed as a ratio of two integers. But they finally bowed to proof that some numbers when expressed as a ratio of two integers and the division is carried out, result in an answer that goes on forever. These numbers were grudgingly accepted and called "irrational" numbers.

Pi is an irrational number; it goes on forever even if we mostly abbreviate it to be simply 3.14.

One problem is that, ALL numbers are abstracts. At the very least we all learned to count and process numbers in very basic ways. But I can show you a rock, say five rocks, but I can't show you 5. 5 is an abstraction. It's something we mentally assign to some things.

Throughout history we have slowly gained acceptance of the usefulness of numbers and the mathematics to handle those numbers, but they are still abstract concepts that we've agreed on.

In the 16th century a man named Rafael Bombelli wrote about algebra and laid the foundations for what would unfortunately become known as "imaginary numbers" and "complex numbers."

Here's the deal: we all learn that when multiplying a number with itself, that is referred to as "squaring" that number. 2*2=4 can be said as "two squared equals four." We also learned that the square of a negative number results in a positive number. -2*-2=4 is true as well.

Mr. Bombelli's work in algebra showed that it would be useful to have a number that represents the square root of -1. In other words, he proved mathematically that there are times that the square root of -1 is useful and that he believed this number to exist.

He was swimming against the tide of accepted math. EVERYBODY knew that squaring a number, whether positive or negative, resulted in a positive number, always. Period.

Years later, none other than Rene Descartes referred to these numbers as "imaginary numbers" and that name stuck. Mr. Descartes was using this in the frame of mind that we use with a child's "imagnary" friend. That friend doesn't really exist. Mr. Descartes was using the word imaginary as a derogatory term in his desire for this to just go away.

Sadly the word "imaginary" was forever attached to these numbers, though their existence has long since been proven to be every bit as "real" as irrational numbers and fractions.

Despite their still being called imaginary numbers, imaginary numbers exist and are as useful in some circles as are fractions to a bookie, or as useful as Pi is when computing the area of a circle.

Right there along with imaginary numbers are what are referred to as "complex numbers." Complex numbers are the same old numbers we've used all of our lives, that live and breathe along the number line, along with an imaginary component. It is usually written in one of two ways: 4 + 7i, or 4 + 7j, where the 7i or 7j part is the imaginary part of the complex number.

The number 4 can also be written as 4 + 0i, or 4 + 0j. Zero times any number is zero, and 4 + 0 = 4.

Still with me?

All numbers along the aforementioned number line we learn about in grade school can be expressed as complex numbers. And if you look at my spiffy hand drawn picture at the top of the post, you'll see an old-school number line with a vertical one crossing it at the number 0. The old number line part still represents the real numbers that we've all used all of our lives, but the added vertical number line represents the imaginary part of a complex number. The whole thing is called the Complex Plane.

By convention, most people dealing with complex or imaginary numbers use the lower case letter "i" to represent the square root of -1. But, in electical engineering, we use that lower case "i" to represent current in an electrical circuit.

So, while your experience with complex or imaginary numbers would normally use "i"; we use "j" in electrical engineering to avoid confusion with current.

Still with me?

In electrical engineering, when dealing with Alternating Current circuits like your favorite table lamp uses, the trigonometry functions sine and cosine come into play. The mathematical representation for the value of, say, power, at any given time is what is referred to as a "phasor." Power company engineers live and breathe this "complex power" and it accurately represents their power distribution systems.

Still with me?

I'll back off now. After this things get really hard to explain, but just understand that power utilities and the whole science and engineering involved in Alternating Current electrical systems that are used all over the world, DEPEND on the mathematics of complex and imaginary numbers to be able to deliver power to your home and to businesses.

I was dealing with it a bit at work yesterday and thought I would see if anyone out there might be interested to know that imaginary numbers truly exist.

Besides, my calculator will even compute with complex numbers, so it must be true, right?

Imaginary numbers just have an unfortunate name; kinda like being a movie or rock star's child, ya know? (I personally would rather be named Imaginary Number than to be named Dweezil or Moon Unit.)

You probably don't care a lick, but I took the time to type all of this out, and I'm posting it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

That's The Kind of Guy I Am

I long ago came to terms with the fact that as my back pain increases, my IQ drops. On days when my back really hurts, work isn't very much fun because, unlike some jobs, engineering requires the brain to be fully functional.

Back when I worked for Delta Airlines and lifted heavy things for a living, pain and sickness from lifting things outside in cold or extremely hot or wet weather wasn't such a big issue. I'd suffer through my shift and go home. Come back the next day and hopefully feel a little better and wade through another shift.

Yesterday at work, my back was hurting AND I had a bad headache. This means trouble for me. Converting from hexadecimal numbers to binary, normal everyday stuff in my job, is like being the first guy to see and try to translate the Rosetta Stone.

It wasn't pretty, let me tell you.

So, as small animals run and hide when predators are about, my mind just wanted to wander onto any subject that didn't require actual thought. Really thinking made my head hurt worse.

See, there's thinking that you have to work at, like the above mentioned converting from hex to binary and back, and then there's simple daydreaming and remembering old times, which is effortless.

Daydreaming and remembering old times is what my back pain weakened and headache stomped brain kept wandering off to do.

I couldn't sleep, I was at work, so the next best thing is daydreaming.

For some reason I got to thinking about getting older. Maybe because Big Sis's 50th birthday is coming up in a few days. Maybe because my own 45th birthday is coming up next month.

I don't know, I just know my back and head hurt and my brain was trying to burrow into a hole and hide from those predators, ya know?

And I got a laugh about getting older by recalling an incident that happened about 12 years or so ago.

First a bit of background.

When I was a kid, there were several things in my family that came to represent Christmas to me.

Every family has their own traditions, and every kid brings with himself, out of his youth, memories and things that for whatever reason represent Christmas.

For me it's the Rankin/Bass Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It's A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's being in a store and seeing that the J.C. Penney or Sears Christmas Catalog has been put out for sale. It's Percy Faith's Christmas albums that my parents played.

But THE most Christmas-ey thing to me is the album that my parents had by Jim Reeves called, The Twelve Songs of Christmas. Velvety smooth baritone voice and a whole slew of Christmas classics plus a couple of lesser know songs thrown in. His voice is so nice, yet so dominated the background that hearing any songs off that album just make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Jim Reeve's Twelve Songs of Christmas IS Christmas to me.

So, years ago, way after CDs took over the music market, I set about to try to find a copy of Jim Reeve's Twelve Songs of Christmas on CD.

Lovely Wife and I looked high and low. Every store that we entered that sold any CDs at all were scoured looking for this CD.

All to no avail.

I couldn't even find it in the big books of music that music stores used to have that had their supplier's complete catalog in them, so I couldn't even order it.

One day in desperation while in the mall in Monroe, Louisiana, we had just checked a music store there and had of course come up empty.

One young man working in there asked it he could help me find something. I told him what I was looking for and was rewarded with a totally blank look.

I have bad luck in music stores, the workers are invariably snotty because I don't happen to like the same flavor of the month music that the workers seem to like and think is cool. Therefore they are cool, and I am not. Know what I mean?

Noticing the blank look on the guys face, I tried to start explaining who Jim Reeve's was.

He just gave me this look and waved me off and said really sarcastically, "I KNOW who Jim Reeves was, I have a grandmother."

I cracked up laughing, because at the time I thought it was really funny. He went on to tell me that he'd never seen any Jim Reeve's Christmas Cds and we left the store.

And I've always thought his response was funny because, yes, Jim Reeves was from a previous generation. My parent's generation. And I had this problem because they had played that album every Christmas time and I wanted a copy of it for myself.

That year, I actually found a Jim Reeve's Christmas CD, although it wasn't The Twelve Songs of Christmas. The CD did however sate my desire for hearing Jim Reeve's velvet toned voice singing Christmas songs around Christmas time.

And yesterday? Yesterday because of my back and head hurting, I wanted to go back in time and grab that guy by the throat and shake him real good. Do you ever get like that?

After all of these years, a passing thought on a bad day makes me want to throttle the guy.

That's pretty pitiful to have laughed at the guy's smarmy remark to me all these years because I thought it was funny, and yet yesterday, 12 or so years after the fact, I wanted the punch the guy.

I'm weird like that sometimes.

Don't push me when I both have a back ache and a head ache.

I just might get angry at you 12 or 13 years later.

I wrote a post and posted some pictures about Jim Reeves last year on here if you care to go and read and have a look.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yer Gettin' Pictures Today

Sorry folks, I guess I used up all of my hot air on yesterday's post.

The pictures are of the beach here on the Atlantic. I took these one day a while back on my lunch break.

Thought I would throw a little more beauty at you like I did on Monday's post, only without the fancy framing. I just put a thin black border on these; I like the way it looks.

It's still really hot and humid here. There was no magical temperature break after Labor Day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Quotes of the Day (well, yesterday actually)

I'd love to shake this man's hand

For the past month, and especially in the past two weeks, the leaders of the Democratic party have been slamming General Petraeus, our leader of the coalition forces in Iraq, for the report he was scheduled to give to Congress this month.

First of all, I have to say it's a dumb move for the Democratic leadership to criticize the man and his message before he even says a word.

The problem that the Democrats have right now is that, as a party, they are totally invested in the defeat of the U.S. Military in Iraq.

They've painted themselves into a corner, and they have to say stupid things which sound even more stupid in the light of the successes of the surge of troops in Iraq thus far. Many areas have turned around dramatically, yet the Democrats in power are so bound by their own words of defeatism that they can only sit and point fingers. Their words ring hollow.

Lately the fingers were pointed at General Petraeus, a man that was confirmed to his position by 98% of the U.S. House of Representatives and 100% of the Senate, by these same members of the House and Senate that now impugn his honesty.

What a bunch of knuckleheads. For two weeks they've basically been calling General Petraeus a liar and his report that he had yet to give as lies written by the Bush Administration.

In other words, panicking in the face of the surge's successes and loading their guns and firing them at the messenger before he even delivers the message.

Well, I'd love to shake General Petraeus's hand, because with his opening statements, cut these Democrats off at the knees beautifully:
Mr. Chairmen, Ranking Members, Members of the Committees, thank you for the opportunity to provide my assessment of the security situation in Iraq and to discuss the recommendations I recently provided to my chain of command for the way forward.

At the outset, I would like to note that this is my testimony. Although I have briefed my assessment and recommendations to my chain of command, I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by, nor shared with, anyone in the Pentagon, the White House, or Congress.

As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met. In recent months, in the face of tough enemies and the brutal summer heat of Iraq, Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces have achieved progress in the security arena. Though the improvements have been uneven across Iraq, the overall number of security incidents in Iraq has declined in 8 of the past 12 weeks, with the numbers of incidents in the last two weeks at the lowest levels seen since June 2006.

One reason for the decline in incidents is that Coalition and Iraqi forces have dealt significant blows to Al Qaeda-Iraq. Though Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq remain dangerous, we have taken away a number of their sanctuaries and gained the initiative in many areas.

... (emphasis mine)
You can read the entire text of his appearance before our duly elected representatives here.

Touche, General Petraeus. Good job.

The other quotes are from Rush Limbaugh, and related to what I brought out above.

See, General Petraeus had to basically tell the world that he wrote his own report without the Pentagon's help or the Bush Administration's help, because the real liars were lying about General Petraeus and General Petraeus's report.

Don't believe me?

Chris Matthews of MSNBC: "Washington awaits the Bush Report on Iraq."

Keith Olbermann: "President Bush via his surrogate, General David Petraeus, delivers his report." (I hate Keith Olbermann more than anyone else in the media today.)

Rep. John Murtha: It's not Petraeus' policy, it's Bush's policy.

Rep. Jim McDermott: The report the White House is writing for General Petraeus.

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin: "The Bush report?"

See what I mean?

That's the kind of thing that's been happening for several weeks now, and General Petraeus gets up there on the microphone in front of all these blowhards and calmly pokes them with a sharp stick. Gotta love it.

Anyway, the quote from Rush Limbaugh was priceless: "I admit that I got some very perplexed glances from staff members on the scene here high atop the EIB building in midtown Manhattan when I mentioned that the Democrats had opened the door into their face, once again, on their pre-spin of the Petraeus report, questioning my interpretation of this. I could see the looks on their faces: "What do you mean, the Petraeus report?" The Democrats are calling it the Bush report. Even the Drive-Bys are calling it the Bush report. Who organized this? Dingy Harry and Nancy Pelosi are calling it the Bush report. Then last night the Drive-Bys are calling it the Bush report. Of course, when Bin Laden says something, we don't question it. When Ahmadinejad says something, we don't question it. When Petraeus or Bush say something, those stinking liars!"

I want to shake his hand too.

Seriously, did you read a transcript of Bin Laden's speech on tape? Holy cow, he said the same tripe that the Democrats did before the election last fall. No wonder they consider Bush and Petraeus liars and Bin Laden someone to be believed!

I haven't made any pretenses on this blog regarding my political views. I'm a conservative.

I'm hoping the Republicans will grow a new set pretty soon and start being conservatives again. The Republicans certainly have their problems, but at least they aren't determined to lose this war.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Because I Haven't Written Anything...

I'm posting a photograph I worked on last night.

I've been playing around with learning to digitally matte and frame a photograph. I thought this photo of one of Lovely Wife's flowers might be a worthy subject, and really liked the way it turned out.

I think it might be even better in B&W, but it was bedtime for Bonzo last night, so the B&W version will be a project for another day.

Anyway, I thought y'all might like some beauty for your Monday since I haven't written anything.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday September 9, 2007

The Gene Pool, paternal side.

I've been scanning and trying to clean up and repair a bunch of old family photos in the past few weeks.

It's slow going on the ones that need a lot of work. I'm a pretty patient man, and make a good drone and can sit for hours doing tedious work, but some of these try even my sanity.

When working on photos of people, I try to remove dust specks and blemishes to the photos on people's faces and clothes. After that, if I have any patience left I will try to clean up the other parts of the photos as best I can.

In the end, I'm just trying to make them as presentable as my sanity allows and to archive them for the future.

This first one is one of my Dad that I scanned and just really liked a lot. It was in really good shape and I like his expression.

This next one is of my Aunt Gayle when she was a little girl sitting with Sainted Mother on the edge of a natural spring. The water below them is perfectly clear and drinkable, I would suspect even today.

The place is just called Camp Swan by everyone in the area because it was a site for a camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the great depression. I'm sure this natural spring was the deciding factor in the location of the camp, and the concrete walls Mama and Aunt Gayle are sitting on date from the depression era and was constructed by the men who lived here.

This next one is of my Dad's mother, Eunice Williamson, on the right in the photo. The back of the photo simply had 'Dixie and Eunice' written there. We have no idea now who Dixie was, but this is the only photo I've seen of my paternal grandmother in her early teens. I estimate her age to be about 13-15 years old here, and that puts the photo having been taken sometime in the late 1920s. This photo was a mess, lots of stuff to try to clean up and repair, plus it's a little blurry which I can do nothing to fix.

This next photo is my Dad's father, my Papaw Masters. His full name is Malone Roswell Masters. He married the girl on the right in the above photo, though he was 61 years old when this photo was taken. This is pretty much how I remember him; sitting in the shade in a chair and smiling. All of our family pretty much got along with one another really well, but WE ALL loved Papaw Masters like crazy. He was a good, good man and someone we all looked up to. The only time I every personally saw my father cry was a couple of days after Papaw Masters, his dad, died.

This next photo is one that pleased me to no end to find. It's of my Papaw Masters's mother, Lee Anna Masters. She died in 1961, almost exactly a year before I was born. She and my grandfather above lived very hard lives. She conceived and bore my Dad's dad out of wedlock, and raised him on her own in a time and place where things were hard enough without being a bastard and being called that at every turn by the people in the area. It's amazing to me that people can withstand the poverty of the depression and being looked down upon by many of the locals and become fine people who were salt of the earth, dependable people their whole lives. They never had a spare dollar in their lives but they were good, humble people who always lent a hand to those in need. They always called her Miss Lee Anna. Miss Lee Anna is on my short list of people I wish I could have met and gotten to know.

I worked on this last photo, cleaning up scratches and tears until I just got sick of working on it. You can still see big scratches in it, but they're out of the way of the people. This is another of Lee Anna Masters, my paternal great grandmother. That's my Dad's younger brother, Alden, sitting in the background with his feet propped up. In the original photo, Miss Lee Anna was in the shade and you could barely see her. I brightened up the photo quite a bit so that you can at least see her pretty decent here. That's the beauty of digital scans; you can improve some photos over having the original in your hand.

I am a blessed man to have come from such good people. I sure miss them.

Someone a while back mentioned to me that they had a lot of old family photos that have no names or anything on them. It finally hit me last night, after a year and a half of doing this type of scanning, to simply put the names and places (if known) and dates on the front of the photos as I work on them. I have no idea why it took me so long to think of that. At least someone in the future will have at least a little info, if only a name, on the photos I save. Now I have a ton of photos I've worked on in the past to go back and add names and stuff.

I'll try to work on some of my mother's side next and put a few on here.

I've started putting photos up on my photography blog, John's Daily Digital Images, more regularly now if you care to go over and see some new photos of the real Florida.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Dream Come True (A drama in real life!)

I lay on my back in the hospital bed.

The doctor and a nurse were on my right, the nurse having just placed an IV into my arm.

"We're putting several anti-poison chemicals in your IV. They should protect you from any normal poison that the men trying to kill you might use," said the doctor.

Just as he finished speaking, I looked to the foot of the bed and there stood four men, each holding up liquid filled syringes. When I noticed them they each reached to stick their needles in my feet to poison me.

I started kicking at them, and realizing that I was seconds from perhaps several lethal doses of poison, I twisted over quickly to my left and off the hospital bed onto the floor.

I was simply a man in dire straights, operating on pure instinct, thinking that having contorted myself out of bed and onto the floor, I might buy precious seconds with which to find some way of defending myself.

I twisted so fast and so hard that although I had been laying on my back in the hospital bed, I completely turned and landed on my butt on the floor.


I woke up.

I was half sitting up on the floor beside our Select Comfort Sleep Number Bed.

I had acted in my real bed just as I had in the hospital bed of my dream and woke when my right buttock made violent contact with the carpeting on the bedroom floor.

I had really spun completely around in my attempt to avoid my dream murderers and had flung off the mask from my CPAP unit as well.

I had grunted when I hit the floor, and Lovely Wife jumped out of her side of the bed, turned on the light and came around to see about me.

I was so stunned that I had to sit/lay there and not move until I had taken stock of myself and that I hadn't popped something else loose in my back in my violent maneuver.

I carefully moved to where I could get up and get back into bed, lay there until I was sure that nothing was broken or ruined in my back, put my mask back on and went back to sleep.

This morning, Lovely Wife noticed I had a bruise on my RIGHT upper arm from where I hit the bedside table in my ninja move to get away from the bad guys.

I had been laying there sleeping on my left side, facing the edge of the bed, and twisted that far around and onto the floor in my sleep, hitting my arm on the wooden corner in the process.

The strangest thing about this happening now, is that I have just made a list of things that I can write about on this blog.

On the short list of subjects is one where I was going to write about how, when I was a boy, I slept on the top bed of a bunk bed with Big Brother on the bunk below.

The house we lived in at the time had hardwood floors and I would occasionally roll out of the top bunk onto the hardwood floor.

I would be so thoroughly asleep that Big Brother, awakened by my body plunking onto the floor next to him, would reach over, wake me up, and have me climb back up into my bed.

I had planned to make a big joke of it, as if I had finally realized what could have made me the weird person that I am today, and that it might have possibly been my repeated falls from the top bunk onto the hardwood flooring as a kid.

But, Wednesday night, I think I topped even my falls from the top bunk.

It has been over 25 years since I fell out of bed.

But when I decided to do it again after all this time, I did it with panache.

I guess I have more of a natural dramatic flair than I would have ever thought before.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Party Pooper's Guide® #2

[I found where I had written this almost a year ago without having posted it on here, and since I've been having great trouble finding time to write posts, I decided to post it today in it's entirety.]

Warning: A rated PG-13 Post!

I have a dark side to my humor, that gets little airplay here.

So, in the vein of my Thursday Thirteen #12 last week, I'll post an occasional The Party Pooper's Guide®.

The Party Pooper looks at life sideways.

For example: I saw this small news item recently...

Urination Will Go To Committee

A local decision that schoolboys must sit on toilet seats when urinating has provoked political debate.

The head of The Democrats Party, a splinter group of former Progress Party hardliners, Vidar Kleppe, is outraged that boys at Dvergsnes School in Kristiansand have to sit and pee.

Kleppe accuses the school of fiddling with God's work, and wants the matter discussed at the executive committee level of the local council, newspaper Dagbladet reports.

"When boys are not allowed to pee in the natural way, the way boys have done for generations, it is meddling with God's work," Kleppe told the newspaper.

"It is a human right not to have to sit down like a girl," Kleppe said.

Principal Anne Lise Gjul at Dvergsnes School would not comment on Kleppe's plans to make political waves and regretted if anyone was offended by the ban on standing and passing water.

Gjul told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) that the young boys are simply not good enough at aiming, and the point was to have a pleasant toilet that could be used by both boys and girls.

(Aftenposten English Web Desk/NTB)
That is from a newspaper in Norway.

And to The Party Pooper, that's just plain funny.

It reminded me of a guy with the company that I work for. Jim L. is a really big, intimidating looking guy, but also happens to be a cracker jack engineer.

Jim L. would walk up to Satan himself and tell him EXACTLY what Jim L. thought of him. Fear is not in Jim's vocabulary.

I worked for three years with him on a program, and in the men's bathroom, like the Norwegian boys referred to above, there was a problem, shall we say, with men's accuracy when it came to using a urinal.

Jim L. would get so disgusted with this, that he would go to the janitor's closet, and run a bucket of mop water, and mop the men's bathroom.

Jim L. also let it be known, loudly and repeatedly, that he was displeased with the men's performance in this area of personal hygiene.

Finally, Jim L. put a sign in the men's room, right at eye level, exactly equidistant to the two urinals (right between 'em).

Jim L.'s professional looking sign, printed in color on a color laser printer and carefully placed into one of those clear plastic 3-ring binder paper protectors, stated:
Stand Closer: It's not as long as you think it is.
Jim L. started a long feud with this program's secretary (and self appointed guardian of wholesomeness and virtue, our very own Emily Post) by doing this.

You see, the day Jim L. chose to place his sign was a day on which the customer for whom we were building device X for, was in town to meet with us for a couple of days.

It was over in the afternoon before some rat went and told Secretary Lady about it. She immediately, at great risk of blindness, walked into the men's room and took down Jim's sign.

But the damage was done. The male representatives of that customer had seen the sign anyway.

They all thought it was a hoot.

From that day on, Secretary Lady kept a wary eye out for any unseemly shenanigans foisted on an otherwise unsuspecting engineering team.

All 6'3", 290 pounds of Jim L., well, actually he wasn't scared a bit.

But, the sign actually worked, and the floor in front of the urinals stayed clean.

For about 2 or 3 days.

Stay tuned for more The Party Pooper's Guide® posts, right here on Least Significant Bits.

That is all. Carry on.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

There IS Justice In The World!

(Thanks to Emily for writing about this or I'd never have known about it.)

Remember when President Bush wrecked a Segway thingamajig? He stepped onto one that wasn't on or something and it just tipped right over and they fell.

A newsman named Piers Morgan made repeated remarks about how dumb you have to be to wreck one of the things.
His paper, the Daily Mirror, ran the headline in 2003: "You'd have to be an idiot to fall off, wouldn't you Mr President." It added: "If anyone can make a pig's ear of riding a sophisticated, self-balancing machine like this, Dubya can." So, it seems, can Mr Morgan.
That same man, in a prime example of cosmic justice, was photographed wrecking a Segway himself and breaking three ribs.

I hate to laugh at another man's pain, but that's FUNNY.

Here's and article with pictures.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fun Facts (Well, not really, but that was the best title I could think of)

The company I work for is an engineer heavy company. That is, we tend to design, build, test, and produce custom electronics, so we have thousands of engineers working for us. Mostly related to satellite communications systems.

This company gives millions of dollars every year to Florida college's engineering programs at University of Central Florida, University of Florida, Florida Institute of Technology (here in Melbourne) and so forth.

They recruit from all over the country, frankly because engineers have generally been hard to come by for years. Consequently I've worked with guys with degrees from Purdue, Notre Dame, MIT, Ohio State, LSU, Louisiana Tech (me), Georgia Tech, New Mexico Tech, North Carolina State, Brigham Young, Tennessee, etc.

Today they sent out a company wide email to solicit help from any engineers interested in a program we have to go to local schools and encourage the high school age yunguns to consider engineering as a career.

The email had some facts in it that I didn't know. (I have taken the liberty of changing the "business speak" into plain English.)

- Decreased enrollment in Engineering and Computer Science
Freshman enrollment in Engineering has dropped for years now, and the trend seems that it will continue.

Computer Science and Engineering is one of the fastest growing occupations although it’s showing a 29% enrollment decline from ’02 to ’05.

The percentage of women enrolling in Engineering has been dropping for years, and the trend seems that it will continue.

Women are less interested in the largest engineering fields (Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science Engineering) and they gravitate towards industrial, biomedical, environmental, chemical engineering disciplines. (This is bad for our company because we don't use industrial, biomedical, environmental, or chemical engineers.)

Numbers of African-American and Hispanic college enrollment is low.

Minorities represent 25% of US population, yet they earn only 11% of all Bachelor of Science degrees.

- There are not enough people to replace the retiring current work force
78.2 million Baby Boomers start to retire in 2008 with 45 million genXer’s to replace and back fill

The thing that freaks me out about all of this is that I'm living proof that you don't have to be Albert Einstein to earn an engineering degree. I'm truly one of those people that people should look at and say, "Hey, if HE can do it, I can do it too. "

Yeah, it's a difficult curriculum, but the starting salary for a shiny, newly-minted engineering graduate is about $50k a year, and usually get a signing bonus too! There are young, single engineers that park in the parking lot in BMWs, Mercedes, etc. They ain't doing too bad.

I wish I had been making that kind of money when Lovely Wife and I first started out.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I Remember This Day

I was born in 1962, making me seven years old when Younger Brother was born in January of 1970.

I remember watching our parents with him, and even my Big Sis and Big Brother holding him.

For some reason, I thought it was so awesome when he would fall asleep while someone sat there in the living room and held him. So that became a bid deal for me; to be allowed to hold him AND for him to fall asleep while I was holding him.

Normally they would let me hold him and after a bit he would fidget and begin to cry and I sure as heck didn't know what to do with him then and they would take him from me.

But finally he actually fell asleep while I held him and Sainted Mother took a photo of us while he was asleep. He was a month old here and I was seven.

I was so proud. So last week when I came across this photo in a big envelope of photos that I've been scanning into digital form, I was taken back to that moment.

It's amazing how completely you can remember something from so long ago, and how seeing a picture brings it all rushing back.

I guess because I had such hopes that he would fall asleep while I held him and when it happended I was so excited. I think the emotion of it helped seal it in my memory, even if I haven't thought of it all that much over the years.

Pictures are amazing things to have from times past; especially of grandparents and other loved ones who have passed away.

The age difference between Younger Brother and me probably helped me have this strong protective feeling toward him, and added to my being so upset with him being hurt so badly recently.

I've been more in the mood to do this kind of work lately than to go out with my camera and take new stuff; to scan, clean up, and archive some of the old family photos.