Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday videos - Hide your wife

Kevin recently posted a link to this crime story. When I first saw it I thought it was a joke, that guy just seemed a little to strange to be real, but I guess he was (is)

This video seemed to be rather popular, and someone with the time took advantage of Auto Tune to create a music video

Pretty good, I’m not sure which one is more entertaining, the original news story or the remix.

Friday, August 27, 2010

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to E Friday, where I post photos of my darling granddaughter E, because VG really likes to look at these pics.

E’s back in Vegas! I picked them up at the airport and almost didn’t recognize that taller kid. She likes to come down in August because it is a change from Portland, and the water in our pool is warm so that she can swim as much as she wants. However it seems she is now Portland adapted, and can’t play outside without getting all red and hot. Come on, it was only 39 (103f) yesterday when she went across the street to play with the trips plus one. B says that she didn’t even last an hour over there before melting and coming back. But they were in the pool this morning at 7 enjoying it – water temp is around 31 (93f) so you can float for a while without getting chilled.

When we got home from the airport the first thing she did was take off her shoes and run out to the swing (well, after stopping to hug Grammie)

Then we went to her favorite Mexican restaurant, Viva Mercados, a few blocks from our house. She likes Mexican food but mom can’t find a good place in Portland. She walked in with Grammie

And only wanted to eat the colored chips. VM mixes in some green and red and black with the plain ones

Yea, Granddad (oh, no, I’m not that old, am I?) got her some Barbies which she quickly found in her room. I guess mom doesn’t get her those, just a million stuffed animals. I did notice that this one ended up going commando in the Brazilian style, but didn’t point that out to her. (what?)

Second thing was coloring the placemat; she now keeps colors in the lines. And playing tic-tac-toe with Grammie. She wins sometimes but Grammie doesn’t throw any games like she used to. Then on to Granddad’s iPhone and all the fun new game apps. The cheese quesadilla and beans were filling.

Monday, August 23, 2010


For some unknown reason I was thinking about Rochester, New York today; don’t know why. I attended college back there a long time ago before moving out to California. I first attended Rochester Institute of Technology when it was on the old campus, located right in downtown Rochester, with buildings scattered around town. The dormitory I stayed in was the old twelve story Manger Hotel with only the first ten floor used. The top two floors were just used for storage; the elevators did not go up to there, and only one stairwell provided access to the top. The buildings used for classrooms were a combination of older buildings purchased by the school and a few new ones built for that purpose. I stayed for a while and was not enjoying myself, so I dropped out, joined the Navy (to see the world) then for some strange reason returned.

When I got back to RIT the second time they had moved to a brand new campus outside of the city, in a suburb named Henrietta. But the name was not changed to Henrietta Institute of Technology; I guess RIT sounded better than HIT. The new campus was out by itself in the middle of farm fields, all new buildings built of the same red brick surrounded by empty fields and trees, with big parking lots out front. RIT had a lot of full time students, most living in the dorms, but there were about three times as many part time students living around the area that would drive out for night classes. My major was Photographic Illustration, but that eventually changed to Computer Science when I realized that I was better with hard technical subjects rather than artistic stuff.

There were several large companies that had headquarters in Rochester. The most well known was Eastman Kodak, but DuPont and Xerox also had large facilities. RIT was one of the first schools to offer internships as a standard part of their curriculum. Classes were on the quarter system, your first two years were spent doing three quarters of classes, with summer off. The next three years you alternated quarters between classes and working at a related industry. So it took five years to get a BS degree, where other schools offered four year terms, but you left with work experience, and usually a job offer from the place you interned. Back then RIT was the only college on the east coast that had a school of photography; my alternative would have been a tech school in Los Angeles. Growing up in New Jersey made Rochester a stretch, much less convincing the parents that I needed to go to LA for school.

RIT also housed the NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf), with about a thousand deaf students living in the dorms and attending classes. The school of photography was part of the art department, which also had a school of craftsmanship where you could specialize in glass blowing or wood working or metal craft in addition to the ‘standards’ of painting and drawing. Most of my classes were based on how to take pictures, composition and color and framing, in addition to darkroom time learning techniques to print pictures. Now that probably has changed to digital stuff with classes in Photoshop techniques rather than darkroom techniques. The Photo Illustration program was more art oriented, with lots of basic art classes included. Other photography majors were more technical, with investigations into high speed photography, the chemical composition of film, and that type of stuff.

While in the Navy I purchased a lot of 35mm camera equipment, several camera bodies and lots of lenses. When overseas we could order things on ship that were about a quarter of the price in the states so I took advantage of the shipboard stores. I had classes on studio photography, learning how to use 4x5 view cameras and large film, which required a lot of setup time and precise lighting and angles. I learned how difficult it was to create some of those print advertisements, and how many hours it took setting up even simple studio shots. But I liked the candid stuff more, carrying around my 35mm camera and shooting things on the fly. In high school I took sports photographs for the area newspaper, shooting football games was my favorite, and I might have kept on in that direction if computers didn’t catch my interest. Sometimes I think of getting a 4x5 or 8x10 view camera and doing some outdoor photography, but it’s easier with a digital camera, the good ones providing images of very good quality without all the work.

But back to Rochester: the things I remember most about living there were the grey skies and the cold. It seemed like the cloud cover moved over the city sometime in October, and we didn’t see the sun again until April. Buffalo, 100km to the west, got lots of snow because of its location in relation to the Great Lakes, but Rochester received considerably less of the white stuff. If Buffalo had a three foot snowfall we would only get six inches, but it never got warm enough to melt so by springtime we ended up with significant piles of snow around the parking lots and walkways. There were also periods of cold; I remember one week where the temperature never got above -28 (-20f). You would walk outside and almost immediately lose all feeling in your face, with your toes going not long afterwards. The dorms were located a bit away from the classroom buildings, with one long exposed pathway between the complexes. It was a very cold walk in the morning, with the low temps and strong winds blowing, by the time you got to class you were frozen, and took a while to thaw out before you could work the equipment.

I was out cleaning our pool in the 42c (108f) sunshine Saturday when cold Rochester came to mind. A lot of people ask how we can live with such temperatures, but if 22c (72f) is the ideal comfortable temperature, then we are only 20c (35f) away from that, while Rochester has a swing of 50c (90f) away from comfortable. I would much rather be here, sweating a little in the sunshine than spend a winter there, wondering if I would ever feel my nose or toes again. It was a beautiful weekend, with the same weather forecast for every day this week. Daughter and E are coming in on Wednesday for a week’s stay, so I have to be sure the pool is clean and toys all set up. We redid her room; I built a bed (finger photos from that posted a while back, medical bill summary to come) and B painted and fixed things, so it is a lot different. All pink: for some reason that has become her color. On Saturday we will be having the annual E end of summer pool party, which should be lots of fun with a pool full of kids and relatives we only see once a year. Those trips plus one from across the street will be over, they are quite noisy just hearing them from far away, should be quite a bundle all piled in the pool together.
Missed posting Friday: here she is with an Ikea heart Grammy got her

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cheap Trick & Sgt. Pepper

I listen to NPR radio a lot while driving. It’s usually the station I have on in the car, and only switch when they have their ‘pledge drive’ or B is in the car and wants to hear music. The local station’s summer pledge drive was over last week, but they are still trying to raise more money. One of the ways to get some funds is by offering tickets to shows; the station usually gets a local show or touring company to just give them all the tickets for one performance, or a big block of tickets. They then sell the tickets for around face value, people get to see a show and the station gets some money. In the past there have been tickets for most of the Cirque shows and other long term events.

This month they are pushing tickets for Cheap Trick, in town with a full orchestra performing the entire Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, in addition to their own music. I almost have every word of their pitch down, as I get to hear it about every ten minutes. So here’s to Cheap Trick and their big hit from the late 70’s:

They are here for several shows, the benefit one is for the 18th, looks like somebody already caught them and posted a (not very good) video of part of the performance

They never performed I live, but the album and Yellow Submarine cartoon came out my first year in college. It’s still pretty good, and probably quite a few people know the words to all the songs on the album

OK, the trippiest one:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Back to normal

The weather has finally resorted back to summer normal – nighttime lows of 25 or so (77f) and daytime highs of 43 (110f), the usual 18 (30f) degree swing that provides variety, and chills the all night club goers when they finally get outside for breakfast after drinking and dancing all night. Mornings at sunrise are just beautiful – we can open the kitchen door again without our air conditioner complaining and watch the hummingbirds chase each other away from the feeders, and listen to the two roosters next door welcoming the dawn. Our neighbor across the street, with the trips plus one, ordered some chickens so that she could have fresh eggs (a big thing here in Vegas, raising chickens) and talked our next door neighbor into keeping them in his yard. Well, not all of the little chicks were girls, and it is very obvious now. The noise doesn’t bother us – we have good insulation and can’t hear them at all with the windows closed, which they usually are in the summertime.

But the pool is clear blue and warm and waiting for E to come down from Portland for her summer visit. Last time they were here it was too cold, and she really likes swimming. She still did some magic tricks with the gravel

And did some dance steps around our back yard (yes we do have some grass back there too)

But mostly we appreciated her smile.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Way back when I was in college my major was photography. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of taking pictures, developing film and then spending time in the darkroom creating prints. Once in a while I used a big view camera which was an additional experience, definitely not the point and shoot stuff I do now. Taking the time to set up a big camera, preparing everything and actually taking a photograph was a big effort. We used to use large format Polaroid film for test shots, to be sure that everything was correct before committing to a big negative, because with film you couldn’t tell if everything was right until development and printing, by which time the whole camera/setup would have been taken down.

Recently two of the tools that I worked with have gone away. Kodak has stopped making Kodachrome film, and Polaroid stopped making all instant film. A company in Europe purchased the rights to Polaroid film and produce it in small quantities, but it’s not the same.

I attended school in Rochester, New York, the home of Kodak and DuPont and cold dark winters. This song came out afterI was there, and seemed to fit the school but never was really adopted as the school anthem as I felt it should have been. Paul didn't do a music video of it, but this one seems to select images that fit the song.

I remember driving with our daughter a while back and a Simon and Garfunkel song came on the radio, and she asked why we were listening to old fogy music. Ah well, I still like it now (and she listens to it also, guess she became an old fogy too). After Garfunkel Paul still recorded some good music, his Graceland album is very listenable. Whenever this one comes on the radio images of this video flash through my head.

I like Chevy, and the size difference between the two of them is rather amusing. His year on Saturday Night Live was very amusing, he did a marvelous Gerald Ford impression.

Ladysmith Black Mombassa members sure look like they are having fun dancing to this one.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Cooking with Joe - spices

Las Vegas just finished up it’s hottest July ever. That’s not because of record high temperatures but because of the high average temperature. The average temp for July was 35.6 (96.2f) with only two days hitting 45 (113f). The records are kept from the measuring station down at the airport; temperatures can vary around the valley. We also had the longest hot stretch: five days straight with the nighttime temps not going below 32 (90f), we haven’t been under 27 (80f) since July 8. Usually we have a 16c (30f) change between daytime highs and nighttime lows, so that we get a chance to cool off just a little, but with the hot nights that hasn’t been happening. And no thunderstorms ran through the airport, so no recorded rainfall for the month either. Ah well, we knew it was a desert when we moved here. (numbers taken from a Review Journal article)

On to a brief cooking segment: the importance of good ingredients.

We signed up for cable TV service down in Temecula when we found a rooftop antenna would not pick up signals from stations on the other side of the mountains that surrounded us. Since then there has been a proliferation of cable only channels, resulting in the current dilemma of having 300 channels available buy yet there is nothing on you want to watch. Don’t say it has never happened to you: at some point everyone sits with the remote control just pushing the next channel button until eventually you realize that you’ve been around the entire selection list three times and there is still nothing you want to stop at. But I usually end up at one of the home improvement channels (we get three) watching somebody destroy their kitchen, or one of the cooking channels (three again) that are usually showing some type of competition. But I sometimes catch one of the cooks that makes things that I can make. No, not the Iron Chef, that is a little beyond me. The two I go print the recipes for are Alton Brown and Sandra Lee who always adds a cocktail at the end (and seems a bit tipsy from sampling them at times).
One of the things that Alton recommended was purchasing spices from a place that supplies good stuff rather than settling for those jars at the supermarket that might have been on that shelf for a few years. I took his advice and started ordering things from the Spice House on line and have been very pleased. I like to use a lot of cinnamon and vanilla in things, and they have several varieties of each, all very good. In one order I got three types of cinnamon and some ground cloves, and when the box showed up and was opened it seemed like heaven. The scents from that sealed box were magical, and made the whole place smell marvelous for quite a while. So go to their web site and get some good cinnamon and vanilla and whatever else you cook with; it’s all good. Here is a sampling of things I’ve gotten from them:

Let’s see, that’s one bag of cinnamon, two jars of vanilla, dried orange peel, a marvelous ‘French’ blend (great in omelets and soups), cloves and some smoked paprika. You have the option of getting these nice jars with shaker lids or bags of refill spices. I use so much cinnamon that I get the big bags (this is a smaller one of one kind). Their cocoa is also really good, nice cakes and all.

So there is my cooking tip for today – buy good spices.