Thursday, January 28

Euphoria Lite

If you listened to anyone but Apple, the new world-shaking product they introduced Wednesday was going to revolutionize existence itself. Apple, with its usual silence about the details of new products, had nothing to say. When the much-anticipated moment finally arrived and CEO Steve Jobs appeared onstage with the iPad, we finally got to see what his miracle creation could do.

On the very first day came the criticism: It isn’t a cell phone. It isn’t a Macintosh with the OS X operating system. It has NO camera! It can’t multitask (run more than one program at a time). In short, it is not the miracle life-defining savior of humanity that was predicted by a salivating press.

In spite of all that, the iPad does at least one thing that I think makes it worth the price—it runs the same applications as the iPhone/iPod touch. All gazillion of them. Recently two covers of The New Yorker magazine were drawn on iPhones with a little program called Brushes. If a full-blown magazine cover can be drawn on the tiny screen of a cell phone, imagine how much more can be done on the much larger screen of the iPad. I know at least one person who has had a hankering for the Wacom Cintiq computer which allows you to draw on a full-color screen directly, rather than using a graphics pad with a stylus and watching what you’re doing on a detached monitor. But the Cintiq costs at least $1,000 for its poor quality cheapo version and about $2,000 for its larger better version. Compare that to $499 for a basic iPad and $4.99 for Brushes. New Yorker, here we come!

You just wait, the iPad will soon become the raison d'être for humanity itself. I’ll bet my Apple stock on it!

Wednesday, January 27


Every once in awhile I check in with Google Analytics, which shows the statistics regarding my Blogger site. There is a whole bunch of interesting information available there: How many visitors in the last month, where they’re from, how long they spent on the site, their browser type, even the resolution of the monitor they’re using.

So much data, so little need!

For example, do I really care if your monitor has 8, 16, or 32-bit color depth? Or if your connection to the Internet is with Verizon Internet Services Inc., or Deutsche Telekom AG, or Pppox Pool - Rback6.scrm01, or Bank of Scotland (honest!). Connection speeds! Now there’s some useful data! Most of my readers last month connected with Unknown (254) and DSL (215) and the fewest use Dialup (3). For the dialup-ers I’ll try to use shorter words. For you Unknowns, try this one: Floccinaucinihilipilification (a real word meaning having little value). Hey, I just noticed that the word didn’t get a red underline as I typed it. That means I actually spelled it right the first time! Wow, I’m impressed. Must be a holdover from when daughter Hilary and I helped prepare for the spelling bee.

Welcome new readers from Japan, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, and Sri Lanka. Hope you like silliness and triviality. I’m full of it.

Tuesday, January 26


Does anyone out there remember the origin of the Blog? I do, but can’t remember the exact date. When I first heard about the Blog, it was called a Web Log, soon to be shortened (as everything these days becomes) to “Blog.” The story I read was about a woman who simply wrote about everything she did during her day: What she had for breakfast; What she decided to wear to the office; Who she talked to at the bus stop; What she said to the co-worker about the upcoming office party. It reminds me of the premise of a more recent phenomenon of communication, Twitter. Twitter’s premise is “What are you doing now?” in 140 characters or less.

Do we really need this? Are we so alienated from real contact with other people that we have to write about everything we’re doing in order to justify our very existence? Frankly I couldn’t care less whether your dog pooped on the carpet last night or your goldfish died. I mean, there are more important things happening like the dollar has lost 95% of its value over the past 100 years due to the Federal Reserve; Wednesday morning Apple is going to introduce a product that will completely remake our lives; Kettle Korn and Super Cinnamon Rolls are the most popular foods at county fairs and other outdoor events; Cutting your own firewood warms you twice; Idle minds are the devil’s playground; A penny saved is a penny earned.

Those are worth blogging about!

Friday, January 22

Despair not!

This is one of those time-wasters that usually you’ll find only in an office setting, and usually in a government office setting. Click here to go to the “Circle the cat” game. The cat starts in the middle of the light-colored circles. You click on the circles and the cat jumps, trying to escape before it is encircled by the dark circles. The picture above is proof that it is winnable (no Photoshop was used to encircle the cat, honest).

Once I had the cat encircled, I continued clicking on the remaining green circles to see if I could crush the cat. But when I got to the last open circle and clicked it, the game faded out before I could get a picture of the desperation on the cat’s face. I could sense the cat’s fright and frustration however, and that was enough for me.

Thanks to neighbor Bill for the lead.

Tuesday, January 19

Trees on Mars?

This morning I checked in at APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) and saw this bizarre photo taken by one of Mars’ orbiting reconnaissance satellites. What a strange sight. Click on the image to see an enlargement, then click on the enlargement to see an even larger enlargement (this only seems to work if you go to the original APOD site). Further clicking is your responsibility. I am innocent, and had nothing to do with this weirdness.

Monday, January 18

Snow measured in feet—

—rain measured in hands.

At least that’s the promise. Central California is going to be spending a week getting used to what it was like when I was a kid, with storms that really dump some precipitation. I remember one time while I was in high school when the school bus drove over a bridge on the Friant Kern Canal and we were amazed to see whole sections of the concrete walls simply gone, washed away! And that was in the environment of a valve-controlled canal! I rode with my dad down Highway 41 from our place on Deadwood Mountain above Oakhurst, and the roadway was obscured by runoff from the mountain, at least an inch deep and very brown with mud.

When Karla and I moved here in 1981, we had a season-total rainfall of 60", 152 cm. The following year it rained 54", 137 cm. So naturally we built a ten-foot-diameter (three meter) overshot waterwheel to capture all that potential energy. Stupid us. It hasn’t rained like that since.

As I write, I hear a drip-drip-drip. The house has a very complex roof, which is prone to leaking when the winds get really crazy. Yesterday’s rain revealed a new leak, one that contains water that has filtered through the local pack rat’s house on the roof under one of the eaves. Unfortunately, it ran through the rat’s bathroom and dripped into one of our bathrooms, leaving a lot of brownish-reddish-tinged splashes on our shelves of toiletries.

Gives a whole new meaning to “toiletries.”

Sunday, January 17

You know things are bad—

—when the county road department starts patching the holes with cow pies.

Thursday, January 14

Dimbulb educators

When I was about 25 years old or so, I was part of a company that made films about art processes. The intended market was schools. The thing uppermost in my mind was keeping the message in each film as simple and visually uncomplicated as possible; don’t confront the viewer with unnecessary distraction. The films we made won prestigious awards for excellence.

Unfortunately the Adobe corporation doesn’t seem too interested in following that path. The course I am currently studying, which I described in my last blog, was tossed together with careless disregard. One unnecessary distraction is illustrated below. This course is intended for an English speaking audience, so why are the visual examples a mix of ENGLISH and GERMAN?

Didn’t anyone at Adobe notice that they’re using the wrong version of the program in their examples? Is anyone awake up there in Mountain View, or is everyone too amped up on caffeine to notice? Good grief! Bad dog! Sit! Stay! Boo! Hiss!

Wednesday, January 13

I’m still here…

…but I’m distracted. For the past several days I have been trying to make sense of a new program. Many years ago I bought a Web design program called GoLive CyberStudio. It was the first program that used a true WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface to design a Web site. Later on, the Adobe people bought the program and made it their own, thinking that since most Adobe customers were using Photoshop and Illustrator, which are programs aimed at visual thinking types, GoLive would fit in perfectly. The problem with GoLive was that it created some pretty sloppy code; it was heavy and dense and made Web pages that were very large and slow to download. So Adobe bought the geek’s delight, Macromedia Dreamweaver which was used by more designers than GoLive. After a couple of upgrades, Adobe decided to abandon GoLive. Soon it fell behind the current standards for Web site creation. I was left with an orphan.

Dreamweaver is for geeks. Adobe tried to soften it for creative artist types, but so far the softening hasn’t worked, at least not for me. This is not a program that you can launch then figure out how to use without some heavy indoctrination. In order to keep the user interface simple and clean, Adobe removed all clues as to how to use it. At least that’s my assessment. Perhaps there is the factor of me being a geezer that can be a problem, but so far this thing is as opaque as all get out.

Suspecting that I could be flummoxed by the program, I bought a video that Adobe produced which explains everything step by step. Supposedly after mastering the contents I can become an Adobe Certified Associate, an expert in Adobe’s eyes on the use of Dreamweaver. There is a problem, though. The two women narrating the video who drone on about how to use the program can drive you up a wall with their speech mannerisms, like one who ends each sentence as if it were a question? And their assumption that you already know the meaning of many of the HTML terms like alt and div and td?

Adobe lost my respect when they introduced a filter in Photoshop that allowed you to stretch and distort an image. They labeled it Liquify. I immediately wrote to them and said the correct spelling was Liquefy. They never responded. Almost a decade later, it’s still Liquify. Even though the dictionary that accompanies many of their programs tags the word Liquify as incorrect.

Oh well. Carry on.

Saturday, January 9

A whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Something told me to check in to my trusted Web site that tells me how the state of California is doing seismically. This quake took place off shore from Ferndale California just a few minutes ago, and measured 6.5 magnitude. Some of my family used to live in Ferndale [Washington] in the last century. It’s good they got out of there when they did.

Friday, January 8


Coming home from a trip to Oakhurst where we picked up the mail, bought some horse feed and ate a terrific pizza at the Pizza Factory, the skies decided to put on one heckuva show. A thin band of rain clouds drifted over central California, accompanied by blustery wind.

As we drove by what we call Solar Hill at our future house site a mile south of our present house, a small flock of deer warily watched us.

Up the road a bit, the drama of a dark background with low golden sunlight made an unremarkable bull pine snag seem dramatically important.

As we approached the corral to unload the bags of horse feed, a couple of equines approached us against a background of golden light and a huge rainbow. Who could ask for more to mark the end of an otherwise ordinary day?

Thursday, January 7

Lovely little lemons lost

One hundred and seventy lemons fell off the little dwarf lemon tree that grows by the house. I guess while we were in Death Valley it must have gotten very cold for at least one night here, and there was nobody at home to cover the tree with a big tarp. Unfortunately, they’re dried up, and what little juice we can squeeze out of their little bodies tastes awful.

The nearby Seville orange tree got the same kind of hit, but the oranges died on the tree. At least the lemons had the decency to fall to the ground. The oranges are still clinging to the branches and will have to be picked off, risking massive injury to the picker since that tree has huge thorns that just can’t wait to lacerate any invader.

The loss of lemons means we will have to actually purchase lemons at a grocery store. The last time I looked, they cost 68¢ at the cheapest store, and 89¢ at our closest supermarket. Wow, we lost at least $115.60, as much as $151.30. But the loss is even greater because the lemons we pick off the tree are so fresh compared to the ones we have to purchase.

The one good thing about this? At least we’re not farmers!

Tuesday, January 5

Me want!

There is little need for explanation after you see this short video.

Monday, January 4

An eating horse…

…is a happy horse. And the keepers of a horse who won’t eat because of colic are unhappy people. Our good friend Geronimo went through a few days of being an unhappy horse. Some devoted veterinary care and a whole lot of pesky interference on the part of Karla and me has seemed to help Geronimo on his way back to robust health. The vet’s prognosis was “guarded.” But now Ger, who is 27 years old, looks at least as good as any other 27-year-old.

Who knows what caused the turnaround? Was it our taking Geronimo on forced marches in order to get his innards churning? Was it our making him wear a great big blanket-like cover to keep him warm? Was it all the love poured out by Hilary’s Facebook friends that we read to him (he understands everything by the way). The twice-daily doses of Banamine (a pain reliever and muscle relaxer)? The homeopathic arnica? The brushing and rubbing? The repeated lifting of his stomach with a horse blanket pulled up by both of us standing on either side of him to get things moving?

Or did Geronimo really decide on his own to stay alive and healthy in order to be the first horse that Hilary and Luke’s child sits on?

Thank you all so much for your outpouring of love for The World’s Greatest Horse!

Saturday, January 2

Won’t take it lying down

Geronimo (left) enjoys some nutritious feed with his 36-year-old friend, Miss T

Karla went over to the corral this morning to feed a couple of old horses that get special food every day. She saw that Geronimo, a 27-year-old gelding who has lost a lot of teeth and is one of the recipients of Equine Senior feed, was lying on his side a long way from the corral, unable to get up, and being watched over by Miss T. That is a very bad sign, and often means the horse can’t be saved. She came back to the house and called the vet, thinking he would have to sedate the animal and then give him a shot to euthanize him.

But Ger is not the kind of horse who takes not being able to get up lying down. We went to the corral and found that Geronimo had managed to walk over then lie down again. Our neighbors, Bill and Megan arrived and we all consoled the horse and waited for the vet to arrive. Geronimo got up and looked like he was really straining to urinate then he laid down again. When the doctor arrived, we said we really wished we could help this old horse because he was one of Hilary’s best teachers as she grew up, and she wanted her own child, who should be born in May, to sit on Geronimo’s back—Ger would be his or her first horse. He donned a very long glove that went clear to his elbow and checked the rear exit to the horse, finding a whole lot of impacted feces and a lot of gas, which was pressing on the bladder. After giving Ger a shot of pain killer/muscle relaxer, the vet “tubed” him, putting a hose through a nostril and down through the esophagus into the stomach. He pumped water in then added a soapy solution of laxative. So far, Ger hasn’t passed his blockage, but when he does, we’ll surely know it; it’ll be a very large pile in the corral.

Right now he seems fine, with normal pulse and respiration and the usual appetite. We couldn’t be more pleased.

Today is a palindrome

An article in the Los Angeles Times presents today’s date as a palindrome. One of my favorite palindromes is 1881. It can be looked at forward, backward, upside-down, mirror-image—it’s magical. The only way to mess it up is to toss it into a blender on high speed for several minutes. When I did, it came out colicoi.

Illustration: Los Angeles Times