Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pic of the day

My mom came over for dinner last night and showed me this photo that a friend of the family had given her of her parents. Not sure of the exact age of the photo, but my guess would be late fifties or early sixties.

I scanned the original faded photo and cleaned it up a bit, and cropped it so I can get it printed tomorrow for her:


Considering that I am no photoshop magician for old photos, I think it turned out pretty good compared to the original:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pic of the Day

A busted up Toyota truck. The thing that caught my eye when I took it was that the bumper is in good shape. So they owner got into an accident, and instead of fixing the damage they just bought a new bumper for it and slapped it on the front.




A Dell rant.

Dell has some issues. I have never said that they are a perfect company, but for businesses they do offer some things that are nice.


Like Gold technical support. When I have a problem, I talk to somebody in America, who has no accent. I talk to people who know a lot about computers, instead of just reading the script from a diagnostic program. And when I tell them what is wrong with a machine, the just say 'Okay, I will get a new part on the way.' No beating around the bush, not quadruple checking to make sure that this is indeed the problem, and no un-necessary time spent on the phone. I would say my average service call takes 10 minutes for most basic problems.


These are all good things! I also have to choice of whether I want a Dell technician to install new parts, or just have the part itself shipped to install myself. This is also nice, since most Dell technicians in my area are one small evolutionary step above baboons, and aren't qualified to work a microwave, let alone replace computer components.


But possibly the best part of Gold tech support, is the shipping. I get my parts the next day. No matter what. They do whatever they can to make me happy. One time, they shipped me the wrong part for a server that had gone down. When I informed them of this they had a courier in go to Phoenix, wait for the correct part at the Dell warehouse, and then DRIVE it up to Prescott for me. At 10:00PM! Yes, way.


One thing I do not like about Dell though, is their parts. We use Optiplex systems almost exclusively for our workstations here, and Dell ended up putting faulty capacitors in many Optiplex systems. What this means is that every time a machine won't boot up, I have to strip it down to the motherboard, look for leaking capacitors, and then call dell to get a replacement motherboard.


Now this isn't such a big deal. Matter of fact, I'm getting really good at replacing these things (I'm up to about 40 now).  I can take one of these (bare motherboard):


and, in just a tick over 5 minutes, turn it into one of these (a functioning machine):


What IS a big deal is that many of the motherboards that they ship me have issues when they arrive. The one picture above had a bent back-plane, so the side lid wouldn't stay in place, because all the tabs that hold it there were bent out of whack. 20 minutes of bending metal later and I finally got it to stay.


They sent me one motherboard that had bent processor socket pins. So not only did the machine not work, but it fried a perfectly good processor when I did try to turn it on. Thanks Dell!


I've had them arrive with thermal grease smeared all over the board.


But my all-time favorite thing wrong with a motherboard shipped? Gore. Yep, Dell shipped me a nicely-packaged motherboard that was smeared with blood. Not just on some capacitors or on the mounting plate. No, there was blood INSIDE the CPU socket, memory sockets, fan connector, and spattered throughout the rest of the entire thing. No, I am not even kidding.


Seriously? What technician cuts himself, shakes the resulting carnage all over an electronic device, then packages it up and calls it good-to-go for a customer? I opened that puppy up, took one look at it, and sent it right back to dell with a note that said "Abortion should be the customer's choice."  Okay, I didn't send the note, but I totally should have.


I would say that out of the 40 or so motherboards I have replaced, 10 have had a problem of some sort. 25% problem rate? Come on Dell, look at the freakin things before you ship them to me!! Otherwise you are wasting your postage money, and more importantly, MY TIME!

Sinkhole Closes Aubrey Street


A sinkhole has formed on Aubrey St. near Montezuma St. closing down a that section of Aubrey Street.

The hole appeared about 1 p.m. Monday, say city officials, and apparently opens into the remains of an old mineshaft. City Director of Public Affairs Kim Kapin reported that the city brought in its sewer camera van to photograph the mineshaft


Dang, now I feel the need to leave work immediately and go take a look at this thing. :)


Located here

Interesting Graffiti

I love when somebody creates a piece of art that makes you think. Like this ISBN number that somebody stenciled on to the Humber Bay Arch Bridge.


So what book does the ISBN refer to? Henry Thoreau's Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.   (via)


Being the sucker that I am, I totally ordered the book after seeing the image. I figure if it is important enough for somebody to spray paint on a bridge, it is important enough for me to read, right? I think maybe my logic is a little off on this one... :)


And since I can combine shipping through amazon I also ordered:

Leaves of Grass, The Road Not Taken, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays, and pre-ordered Confessor.


The best part? Since most of those are the thrift editions, the total for 5 books before shipping is only $23! Gotta love that!


In other Graffiti news, I found what is possibly the coolest bit of street art I've ever seen under the Gurley Street overpass of Granite Creek yesterday:


Yep, totally an awesome cloud-covered earth with the Southwest of the USA and Mexico popping through the white. Totally awesome, and very hand-painted. So beautimus that it deserves another image:


Those and others from under that overpass added to my Graffiti Flickr Set.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Review

Ahh, the hectic workday is done and blogging can continue.


Friday consisted of cooking up dinner at Chris' house (ribeyes, asparagus, mushrooms, etc) followed by a trip into Starbucks to meet a new friend Ralph for a few games of chess. Man, do I wish there was another coffee shop open late! I hate paying the starbucks devil! Anywho, fun was had, everybody won at least one game (Chris was totally psyched to win his first bout against a live human!)


Saturday was supposed to be oil-change day, but the oil dump at Autozone was full, so that totally didn't happen. So we ended up running into town, running some errands, and stopping by Barns and Nobles to pick up a Moleskine. Saturday night we went out to dinner at Poor Red's Roost (thanks Catalyst for the recommendatioon!) out in PV. I had the tortelini portico (tortellini, shrimp, scallops, and spinach in a white sauce) which was absolutely stellar! DaNece had prime rib, but didn't really care for it. More of a texture problem than anything. All in all, it was definitely a good time!


Dinner was followed by a trip to the local watering hole, Pinon Pines where a co-worker's band was playing. The band was good, but the sound setup sucked and left my ears ringing all day Sunday. We left after about two hours and headed home, it was WAY past our bed-time (I am totally turning into an old man. I get cranky if I'm out past 9:00).


Sunday the plan was to go hiking the Lava River Cave up near Flagstaff. Everything was going well until we started to descend into the cave. Then Mr. Scrappy Doo dog decided to wig out like we were delivering him straight to the pit of hell. The claw marks that he left in the stone was enough to persuade us to pursue other endeavors for the day. So we ended up hiking around the King Mtn. area for about an hour where I started showing DaNece how to work some of the features on her DSLR, then headed home to grill some burgers and enjoy them in the early-evening sunshine. Arizona is a great place to be right now!


So there you have it, all the news that's fit to print, and plenty that isnt fit for anything but a blog post.

Pic of the day

Super busy day at work today.

The pic is from friday night, playing chess with Chris, and a new friend Ralph:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Picture of the day

The fountain at the courthouse is finally operational:


Playing with the Neutral Density setting on the camera to allow me to leave the shutter open longer so the water has that soft feel to it. Of course mid-day sunlight killed the highlights. :(

Focal Length: 7.4mm

Shutter Speed: 1/13 sec

Aperture: f/8

ISO: 80


"Never underestimate the joy people derive from hearing something they already know."

Enrico Fermi



And also - a bit of random. I just want to say thanks to anybody who hangs wind chimes outside of their house. Whenever I walk around town, hearing those little chimes playing in the wind always puts a smile on my face. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pic of the day

Bricks showing through on an alley wall.

Fun with light.

Last night I wanted to play with the flash on my camera in conjunction with long exposures.  So out came the tripod and headlamp, into my office I went, and off went the lights. I'm sure the neighbors thought it was Watergate all over again with the lights flashing on wall and window alike.


Now just about every point and shoot camera comes with a 'Slow Synchro' flash option these days, which is the same thing as first curtain flash. On most high-end cameras you also have the option for second curtain, which can be advantageous for getting different effects. Basically, first curtain fires the flash, and then leaves the shutter open for however long you tell it to. Second curtain leaves the shutter open (for however long) THEN fires the flash at the end, freezing the action at the end of the exposure.


Now if you mix this concept with a long shutter speed, and an external light source you can get some interesting effects, like movement and still-life in the same image.


I ended up having the most success with the second-curtain option. Example (forgive the office crap. It was a very impromptu experiment):



Second curtain also allows you to do some still light writing, as long as you can get out of the shot before the flash fires. Example:


And by utilizing the leaked light from the headlamp you can even include the artist-at-work in a shot:


Not too shabby for 30 minutes of messing around. :) Of course DaNece thought I was a crazy mofo until she saw the results.

Very Interesting Polygamy Remix

I totally dig this. Somebody took the ABC News interview of the polygamist women, and remixed it into this great video:



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A food post. I do those, right?

Well, believe it or not, I do still cook every now and then. For some reason though, lately it hasn't been happening often. Last night I did decide to go ahead and make a stand in the kitchen though, and deliciousness ensued.


I've made these before, but they are one of DaNece's favorites, so here they go again:


It is based off of Elise's recipe, though of course many changes were made.

Apple Quesadillas with Roasted Onion


- tortillas

- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

- 1 package fajita steak (already cut into strips for you. Touche!)

- 2 Gala apples - sliced (add a little lime juice to keep from browning)

- 1/2 of a bell pepper (any color, I used red) - cut into small pieces

- 1 Jalapeno pepper also cut into small pieces

- 2 mexican green onions

- 1-2 cups of chedder or monty-jack cheese

- cilantro - chopped

- cumin

- salt

- pepper

- cayenne

- paprika

- smoked paprika

- sugar

- olive oil


How to make it:

- Preatheat the oven to 375 (for roasting the onions), and get 3 pans preheating


- Cut the onions in half and lay on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil + salt and pepper, and a little cumin:


- Season the meats. Add enough to get a light coating over all the pieces. On the beef I use all the spices listed except smoked paprika. A sprinkling of sugar helps to caramelize, and mellows out spice if you don't like it as hot. On the chicken I use everything.


- Put your green unions into the oven. Flip a few times throughout the cooking.


- Now throw the chicken, beef, and peppers each into a pan and cook until done. Set aside.


- Toss your chopped cilantro in with the peppers once they are done


- Get a griddle pre-heating, or a large pan (big enough for a tortilla)


- Slap a tortilla down on the hot pan and let it cook for a minute or two until starts to go golden on ya


- flip the tortilla, put some cheese on half, lay on whatever meats you want on yours (DaNece: Chicken only - Me: Beef and Chicken), put the sauteed peppers on top if you should so choose, and then top it all off with some apple slices:


- Now fold the other half of the tortilla over, and allow it to cook for a few more seconds. We are looking for a crispy-ish tortilla


- Pull your onions out of the oven. MMMMMmmmmmm:


- Plate it up, add sour cream if you so choose, and chow down!


I got the roasted onion idea from eating at Garcias (on goodwin, not the chain). They served it on the side, and I almost didn't eat it (admit it; they don't look appetizing). But man are they tasty! Sweet and slimy, just what the doctor ordered. Even DaNece said that they were okay, which is huge!

Nikki got published!

My sister Nikki, who is away in Madison Wisconsin, got published in the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute newsletter. Her article relates her experience of attending the National Seeds and Breeds Summit in march.

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute | News & events | April 2008 newsletter via kwout

A Hump Day Laugh

It will either make you laugh, or make your ears bleed:



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pic of the day

Almost forgot the pic of the day!

On my SUPER sweet studio setup on my desk at work: a piece of copy paper. Aint technology sweet?

Prescott's Secret Weapon

for submarine sandwiches anyway:



I've been debating on whether or not to tell the masses about this place, and decided it was finally time. Nita's is nestled up in the Frontier Village shopping center (by Blockbuster). It is, in my humble opinion, the best sub sandwich shop that Prescott has right now. I've been going there for about a year now, and they are not only consistent with the quality of their food, but also with the friendliness of their staff.


Prices are decent, and $8 will get you a footlong sub with a bag of chips, a good sized beverage, and a mini yogurt (who else includes desert?). The sandwiches themselves are simply amazing. Definitely the best french dip I have had in town (and I have just about tried them all), and great meatball sandwhich (thin sauce which is the way I like it. Keep the marinara for the spaghetti).


But the real winner is the Godfather. If I'm being honest I can't even list all the stuff that goes on this mound of deliciousness. I do know that nestled in its beautiful bosom is ham, roast beef, pastrami, meatballs, lettuce, tomato, onions and peporcini (if you want them), but I'm sure that I'm missing a few things. Don't expect to eat this without making a mess; it is impossible and it is fun.


And don't forget the yogurt..... they may not have a million flavors, but the flavors that they do have are always delicious, and they can give you lots of info about the yogurts if you should so desire.


It is operated by the owners (and occasionally their son), all of whom are very friendly. Just don't get them talking football unless you have a few minutes to spend chatting..... they like football. :)

Hello Jessica! How you doin?

Okay, I have a weird admission to make. It might be something that other men reading this can understand, maybe not.


I have a crush on a woman other than DaNece. Yes..... it's true. But the problem goes deeper than that. The really depraved part, is that this mistress of desire....... is a cartoon. There. I said it.


Indeed, I have a crush on Jessica Rabbit. It happened the first time I watched 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit', and has been plaguing me ever since. I thought I had it under control. I kept telling myself that she was so two dimensional that it could never work out between us. She just didn't have any depth.


That has all changed now, thanks to this harbinger of destroyed relationships.


(click to see full size 'un-tooned' version)



This development has turned me into a complete animal:

Now if I could just find an address for the Ink and Paint Club I would totally be in business.


For an interesting look on how it was done, here is the first hour of the artist's work (which covers just the face and hair area):


Monday, April 21, 2008

Pic of the day

The 'La Victoria Studio' sign in Jerome:

A winning combination?

image+image +image  =image ??

So, does Mozilla Thunderbird + Mozilla Lightning + Provider Add-on + Google Calendar = A winning combination?

I sure think so!!


Why? Well I think this simple math lesson should demonstrate it pretty inaccurately:

1. Thunderbird + nothing = still better than Outlook (resource wise, and you don't have to pay for it).


2.  Thunderbird + Lightning = all the functionality of outlook. Or at least all the functions of outlook that I ever used (Seriously, who journals in outlook?). Oh yeah, and it is still free.


3. Thunderbird + Lightning + Provider = The same as #2. So this bullet is completely useless


4. Thunderbird + Lightning + Provider + gCal = Freakin sweetness!

Seriously, do you need any more proof?

Okay, well for the people who don't want to blindly believe the truth of what I speak, ask yourself this: What is the worst thing about google calendar?


Answer: You can't view or edit it when you are w/out internet connectivity (because it's all online only and stuff).  But with this winning combination you CAN view and edit offline, because it is stored in your Thunderbird client!


Plus, if your computer takes a flying nose-dive into microsoft stupidity, your calendar info won't be lost because it is totally still available ONLINE!


Oh yes, pure sweetness!

Some Monday fun

Just some randomness on a Monday morning:


- YoungNow - a great site where people re-create photos from their childhood and submit the side-by-side images.

image image


- The Latte Foam Printer!



- Funny car ad war between BMW, Audi, Suburu, and Bently (not sure if it's real, but it IS real funny):




- What happens when you mix an F-111 jet and a Pelican? Nothing good.



Back at it

Well I'm back at work today and feeling partially human again. Hooray!


Thanks everybody for wishing me well. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up on everything today. 300+ blog posts to go through, comments here, comments at flickr, plus all the work stuff that piled up on my desk on Friday.

Have a great monday everybody!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Feeling ill.

Stayed home from work today with a bad case of the stomach flu. Might be a few days before I get back to it.

Happy Birthday Dad!!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pic of the day

The Downtown Trailer Park sign:


The photography favor.

*This is a rant. I have no professional photography background, so I know nothing about anything. I don't know whether the bride and groom were happy with the photos taken, so everything below is just my opinion if I was in their shoes. I'm sure everything was done with the best of intentions, but sometimes intentions aren't enough (for me anyway)*


In early January me and DaNece attended my cousin John's wedding.

Just like any other wedding you attend, there was a a photographer (with assistant) running all over the place snapping pictures with a DSLR, downloading pictures to a laptop, then running around some more.


I noticed a few things that struck me as odd about the whole setup (confused stares at the camera screen, odd choices of position, no flash diffuser or reflector, etc) so asked around a little bit and found out that they were friends of the family who were doing the wedding shoot as a gift to the bride and groom (and were not professional photographers). And I thought to myself - "Wow, what a great gift. That is a lot of work."


Now, here is the problem with owning a digital slr camera. At some point, one of your friends will see you hulking around that big ol' lens and camera, and they will think "OOoooh, I didn't know they were a photographer." Then it will happen. They will ask you to take the photographs for some event that they are having. And because you are a good friend you will feel obligated to say yes. And if they are a close friend, you will probably do it for close to free.


This in and of itself isn't a bad thing. Especially if it is their kid's 7th birthday, or maybe their band playing a gig at the local bar. If you have never done pro photography you can work your way up the food chain, and if your shots don't turn out very good at these kinds of events, they will be disappointed, but life will go on.


But if it is their wedding? Put the brakes on saying yes for a moment, and seriously consider whether you are up for it. Is your equipment up to snuff to photograph what may be the most important day in this couple's relationship? Are you confident that you can not only take quality pictures, but also dedicate the time that it will take to process and present them to the bridal party? And be honest. It is better to tell your friend that you don't think you are really qualified for it than it is to give them pictures that don't make them happy.


If you doubt your abilities at all, talk to them earnestly about it. Then determine if you can realistically meet THEIR expectations. Do they want classic wedding pictures, or are they looking for more artistic photos?


Do they want to approve proofs, and have you print them? Do they want an online web gallery for their family members to look at? If so, do you have the knowledge and the ability to handle all the details of getting these things done?


After the wedding I relayed a request to see the photographer's pictures of the wedding, and if they didn't mind, I would put them up on my Flickr page to show family members that weren't in attendance. Finally (three months later) my mom hands me two CDs with pictures. I copy them all to my computer and give them a look through.


When I opened up lightroom and imported all the photos I was shocked. "Surely, these are not the final pictures. No photographer (whether professional or otherwise) would give this quality of images to their friends" I thought. I sincerely hope that I am right, and that the bride and groom were given a slideshow of the 'keeper' images to pick from for printing. I hope that they got to "ooh and aah" over the classic black and white images with the splashes of color in them. I hope that they got to see some great macro shots of their rings, or the detail in the bride's dress. I hope these things, because if I had received these two Wal-Mart branded discs from the friend/photographer after MY wedding, I would be very disappointed.


The photographer, armed with a Nikon D-50 camera, and (I believe) an SB-600 flash turned out a few decent shots. But of the 260 photos that I downloaded I could only call 83 keepers (and some of those I normally wouldn't keep at all, except for the fact that there were no better shots with THOSE people in them). Of those 83 exposures, there wasn't one shot that didn't need to be fixed or corrected in some way. There were a couple of problems that stood out, even to my novice photography mind.


Firing the flash directly at people (bad boo-boo). Seriously? You can make a bounce card / diffuser with a piece of copy paper or milk jug!



How about using ISO1600, and still getting DARK photos (Thanks, now when I try to fix it, there is unbelievable noise in the image)? He had a monopod, but no tripod that I saw.... a tripod would have totally fixed this by allowing him to use a slower shutter speed.



What about framing your shots to include that pretty trash bin and the water pitcher in the image? You don't even have to buy anything additional to fix this. Just zoom in (or stand closer). At the very least crop this out before putting it on disc.



So after about six or seven hours of sorting, cropping, correcting, reviewing, and additional tweaking, I finally got some images that I feel good about hosting for the family. I even converted some of the really dark images to B&W so that I could brighten them without getting funky colors.


See all the photos.


After all this work, I can say that I have found yet another reason to be glad about picking the G9 over a DSLR; I don't think anybody will be asking me to shoot their wedding anytime in the near future.


If you do get stuck photographing a special event though, check out tips like these. They might just save your tushie, and make everybody happier in the end.


I love this idea!



A cup for tea (or coffee, or hot chocolate, or any other drink that you have to stir), that you don't need a spoon for. A ceramic ball placed in the bottom of the glass allows you to just swirl the vessel to stir your beverage!


And the best design part? That weird looking base provides a place for the ceramic ball to go when drinking, so you don't get splashed (or have a ridiculously hot ceramic ball hit you in the face).


I love innovative products like this!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pic of the day

A day filled with sorting and correcting pictures that I didn't take.

So here is one I DID take, a century plant:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pic of the day


The Statehood Tree sign at the courthouse.

Prescott Walking Photoset.

Found another one.


This makes four of these posters that I have found in the area now.


Sometimes, I think that I must surely be loosing my mind.


It doesn't happen often, but sometimes my brain just goes into a loop for no good reason. Take this morning for instance. I show up to work, set up my desk, and decide to take a stroll down to the basement to check on all my servers. A normal every day ritual.


After checking on my precious babies, I go back to my desk. Half way there I turn around, realizing that I could stand to utilize the restroom after my morning coffee. 5 steps later  and I decide don't really have to go and turn around to head back to my desk. 5 steps back towards my desk and I realize that I could stand to utilize the restroom after my morning coffee so I turn around to go to the bathroom...... and over, and over, and over again.


This went on for a solid 45 seconds before I realized that I was effectively just pacing down the office hallway. Had any other employees been at their desks at the time, I am sure that they would have thought the IT was on some illegal substance, or was readying himself for the Yavapai Title Massacre of 2008.


No, I swear. I just can't decide if I need to pee or not.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pic of the day

Chris, figuring out his next move at Cuppers on Sunday: