Homemakers

March 28th, 2015

Last weekend, we went up to Steamboat Springs to visit with Marion’s cousin Hal. It was a good weekend – the last hurrah for the ski season – and we had a good time. The highlight of the trip, though, was what we saw on the trip. We usually drive from Denver to Silverthorne, take state highway 9 north to Kremmling, then turn west to go through Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat.

We often see pronghorn antelope near Kremmling, and this trip was no exception. We also saw a few bighorn sheep grazing beside the highway, but the highlight was just on the northern edge of Silverthorne. Click for larger.

NestingEagles

Beautiful. This was the best photo I got of them. I did get this nice one of the male (I think) flying off.

FlyingEagle

Then yesterday evening, we went for a walk. I’d noticed on my commute to and from work that there seemed to be something nesting in a field by Standley Lake. The route we normally take doesn’t go too close to that field, but we detoured to see if I was correct about there being an active nest there.

I was.

NestingOwl

I took a large number of photos, but this is the best one that shows both the nesting parent and the fledgling. On the far side of the field, there was a couple sitting in their backyard. The woman got my attention and directed me to where I could see the male.

SingleOwl

I got a number of good photos of him, but I like this one the best, because of the way his horns are being blown by the wind. The lady also told me that the nest had been shared for several years between the owls and a pair of red-tailed hawks.

I presume the hawks nest later in the season. I’ll keep my eyes open for that.

Best laid plans, and all that

March 15th, 2015

I posted yesterday’s thing on Pi Day a few minutes early. Part of that was a simple mistake, but part was because I needed to get out of the house to get to a meeting in the northern part of Boulder.

Unfortunately, when I got to the front door, it wouldn’t open for me. The handle would twist, but the latch wouldn’t withdraw. Eventually, I went out the back door and got a screwdriver from the garage so I could disassemble the doorknob in order to get on with my day – my back door lock can’t be accessed from the outside, so I need my front door working. I ended up putting the doorknob back in place without the latch mechanism, and relying on my deadbolt while I went to the meeting and stopped at a hardware store later for a replacement.

I need to rely on my deadbolt, anyway. The last time I had problems with my front door, I was locked out, and the locksmith who came ended up breaking the jamb by shouldering the door, because he couldn’t drill out the lock properly.

In any case, I have a new doorknob and key, so I’ll need to get some duplicates made. I’ll also have to see if I have the rekeying tool for the deadbolt, which would let me cut down by one the number of keys I have to carry.

Happy Pi Day!

March 14th, 2015

I’m posting this as closely as I can to 9:26:53 (you know, I hope my ISP’s server notes the proper time zone for me) – here’s a few photos to explain:

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And, if you still can’t figure out the relevance of this post:

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The Few, the Proud, the …

March 12th, 2015

Deaf?
Distracted?
Drugged?

I ordered a pizza for lunch today – I had some errands to run, and thought it would be a good thing to take back to the office. It didn’t go as smoothly as I expected.

Me: Hi, I’d like to place a to-go order.
Him: Is that for pickup?
Me: Yes.
Him: Your first name?
Me: Steve.
Him: (something unintelligible, but certainly not “Steve”)?
Me: No, Steve. S-T-E-V-E.
Him: Okay, what do you want?
Me: A ten-inch Super Goomba.
Him: Super Goomba, okay. What size?
Me: Ten-inch.

Then he told me it would be ready in 15-20 minutes, and how much it would cost. I finished my errands and entered their door to the sound of their extremely loud bell.

Him: Are you here to order or pick up?
Me: Pick up.
Him: Pete?
Me: No, Steve.
Him: Super Goomba?
Me: That’s it.

We then completed the transaction. If I didn’t like their food so much, I’d be tempted to go elsewhere. Then again, there is entertainment value.

That turned out nicely

March 8th, 2015

I made dinner last night – a paprika-heavy pork stew served over pasta, accompanied by sweet-and-sour red cabbage, with apple strudel for dessert. I don’t know if there’s a particular name that people would expect for the stew. The cookbook, which I found in Budapest last year, just calls it pork stew (The Hungarian name is “sertés pörkölt,” which Google Translate tells me means “pork stew”).

Very nice meal, and we’re having the leftovers tonight. Marion has told me I can make this dinner anytime I’d like. The last meal she said that about was a sweet potato, pine nut, and goat cheese strudel. I’m planning on making that again tomorrow night, actually – now that I’ve opened the package of phyllo dough, I need to use it.

I’ll admit that I’m surprised at the price of the cookbook. The back cover lists pricing in several currencies, and the price in dollars is just about $15. I paid in Hungarian francs, and I probably still have the receipt, but that sounds about right. When I wrote this post, Amazon had one copy available for over $60. I didn’t expect that.

Throwaway tech

March 2nd, 2015

I took my iMac in to the local Genius Bar on Saturday. It no longer boots, and I was having display problems before the “won’t boot” condition occurred. I’d looked into the display problems, and they were apparently caused by overheating damaging the RAM chips on the logic board. Presumably, leaving my system on for long periods (among other things, I used it as the main server on my home network) was what led to the problems.

The RAM can’t be replaced, of course, so I presumed repair would require a new logic board, and I wanted to find out just how much that would cost.

Well, the tech at the Genius Bar did get it to boot a couple of times, and the sensor diagnostics indicated no overheating problems. Trying to run some of his other tests didn’t work, though, and he couldn’t boot/run the more in-depth tests that may have isolated the problems. Therefore, replacing the main logic board is the minimum that seems necessary to get the system running again. Unfortunately, my iMac is a “late 2006″ model, and Apple no longer manufactures replacement parts for it. If I want it fixed, I have to go to an aftermarket repair facility. Looking on line, used logic boards run about $500, and labor charges can only add to that.

The tech at the Genius Bar suggested that my best course of action with the old iMac would be to sell it to one of the local aftermarket repair facilities for parts, because there’s still a demand for iMacs like mine. I imagine I’ll end up doing that. Although my company did send me for training in surface-mount soldering last year, I have no way of determining what to replace to solve the problems, and scattershot replacing of parts is likely to be expensive, with no guarantee of success.

For a system with 1GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive, that’s not worth it to me. A new iMac runs about $1100 for the low-end model, which would give me a system with better display, 8GB of RAM, and 1TB of hard disk. I’m not sure I’ll do that, though. I have a “late 2011″ MacBook Pro I’ve upgraded to its maximum RAM capacity and a large flash drive that serves most of my needs quite well, so I can get by for the foreseeable future without buying anything new. For file server purposes, I may see how well my Beaglebone Black works.

On Shaving

February 22nd, 2015

I recorded the rebroadcast of the first Saturday Night Live show, and got around to watching it last night. SNL has a history of fake commercials, and the first episode had several. One of them was for the first triple-bladed razor. It went into the recent history of shaving tools, from straight razors through doubled-edged safety razors, to injectors, to double-bladed disposables. The tag line was, more-or-less, “The three-bladed razor: because you’ll believe anything.”

I found that amusing because I’d forgotten that three-bladed disposable razors were newer than that. When I started shaving, I used a double-edged safety razor, which is almost certainly what I was using in 1975, when SNL went on the air. I’ve been using triple-bladed disposables for years, though, and I’m aware of one five-bladed razor.

This past Christmas, I decided to go retro and learn to shave with a straight razor. I have more than one, because I read that you’ll damage the edge if you shave with the same razor daily. Two of them are antiques, which seem to have better edges than the new one I picked up. I understand that it takes a month or so to get to where you can get really good shaves with straight razors; I think it’s taking me a bit longer than that. I still get my best shaves with the disposables.

One thing I have learned is that lathering up with shaving soap and a badger bristle brush works much better than anything else I’ve tried. Even if I eventually decide to give up straight razor shaving, I’ll keep on using the brush and soap – it’s just so much better.

My weekend could have been better

February 9th, 2015

Not that it was bad, but it could have been better. Yesterday, I made meatballs. Good meatballs. Made a spaghetti sauce and pasta to go with them. It was all good, then I decided to open a bottle of red wine to go with dinner. I pulled out a bottle that had belonged to my father, which didn’t have much of a label. I could read parts of a few words, and could tell that it was French wine, but that was it. Unfortunately, the wine was well past its prime – it was a weak, brownish red, and had a distinct vinegary flavor. So, I discarded it and opened a different bottle, which was still good.

Later, I did a search on the partial words I found on the label, and found that currently, recent vintages are going for $90/bottle. In 2003, the wine was $400/bottle. I’m not sure, but this may have been the bottle I bought for Dad’s 50th birthday. The wine was a couple years shy of 50 years old at the time, and I remember telling him, “Don’t wait for it to catch up.” If it is that bottle of wine, it was a vintage that was over 80 years old, and I’m not surprised that it had turned to vinegar.

Then today, Marion and I went to Barr Lake State Park and walked around the lake (a 9-mile walk). Barr Lake is a fairly reliable bald eagle nesting area, so we were hoping to see at least one. We saw a lot of seagulls, a lot of geese, a few hawks, a kestrel, at least one eagle which was either a golden eagle or a juvenile bald eagle, and I took a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, when I got home, it was brought to my attention that I had neglected to reset the resolution at which my camera took pictures.

Earlier this week, I’d been taking some product photos for work, to be uploaded to the web. However, resizing 18MB photos down to 130×150 pixels for thumbnails caused problems. Selecting 720×480 for photos in the camera solved the problem. However, I hadn’t realized that I was still taking photos at that resolution today.

I have several photos of an eagle’s nest that appear to show an eagle on the nest, but it’s not quite good enough to tell, and there’s no zoom available on the photos.

In other words, a good weekend with a good meal and good photos, but it could have been better.

UPDATE: I wrote and posted this late Sunday night, but it got noted as published just past midnight. Apparently, my ISP is on MST already, or is located in the Central Time Zone.

Not that there’s a good time to get sick …

February 1st, 2015

… but this weekend was not the best time for it. Friday, I thought it was something I’d eaten, because it was apparently just an upset stomach. When I started coughing on Saturday, I realized that wasn’t it. Unfortunately, as I said, this was not the weekend to be inconvenienced in that manner.

Marion’s cousin was visiting, and I missed a nice Italian dinner Friday, had to pass on using my ticket to the Cartier exhibit, and missed Saturday dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange.

I was feeling better this morning, so Marion and I went up to Breckenridge for the 25th Annual International Snow Sculpture Championships. We got about 6″ or so of snow last night here in Arvada, and with fog and snow on the highway, travel was pretty slow until we got close to Idaho Springs, at which point the highway dried up and the sun came out. It’s not often that we have more snow in the metro area than in the mountains.

The weather in Breckenridge was cold, but the weather was glorious. We looked at all the snow sculptures, and decided that the judges must have different criteria that they’re operating from. Lithuania was awarded 1st place in the competition, and Germany took 2nd. Based on the early voting for public favorite, I’d say the Alaska and Breckenridge teams are the top contenders (the public votes for their favorite by stuffing money into jars – $1/vote, running through this week). I also liked the Chinese entry and one of the two Mongolian entries, but they didn’t seem that popular, and won no judges awards.

It was the first full day of public viewing, which runs until next weekend. We like to get there the first weekend for viewing, because snow sculptures are ephemeral, and sometimes they’re too delicate to last the week. I took photos of all of them, and may post some later.

Got a new toy

January 14th, 2015

It’s a calculator app for my iPhone/iPad. It looks to be about half-way between a regular calculator and a spreadsheet, and ought to be fun to play with.