Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a new video

Still haven't really gotten the hang of editing video in that new program, so for now I'm sticking to the one that I'm slightly more familiar with. Here's another "sped-up" video.

Road Trip from Michael Johansson on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"I feel dizzy..."

Complicated 'puter stuff!
It makes me feel quite dizzy!
Learning this new program's
Thrown my brain into a tizzy!

Slowly but surely, I'm picking up a few tricks in this new-to-me video editing program.

I mean, sure, there's no real video in this "video"-- it's just a little text spinning in a circle-- but let's not be nit-picky, shall we? ;o)

I guess we might as well go on learning new programs while we can, even if every computery device in the world will possibly be rendered useless, one of these days. (See previous entry.) Just kidding. (Kind of...)

What was I thinking?

You think you're just tuning in to the news, but really, you're setting yourself up for an ulcer.

If it's not North Korea moving a missile onto a launch pad-- oh, and by the way, it is, today-- then it's a more impersonal, distant threat of doom: Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months.

This is suddenly "news" because a report was released this week, but scientists have known for a while that a large surge of magnetic energy from the sun could disable technologically advanced (and dependent) societies. (Funny how the news does that. Something emerges as a "big story" for a week or two, and then it disappears from discussion as abruptly as it came.)

And then there's the scenario played out in this recently published novel. (It's about an EMP that disintegrates the modern world-- yet another potentially apocalyptic event that we hear about from time to time. It's the Y2K scare all over again-- only worse.)

Sometimes, you wonder why you bother getting out of bed in the morning!

P.S. If you're interested, this article, which was published last year, has more information about the 1859 solar storm that put telegraphs out of commission (and the possible implications of future storms). Auroras were visible as far south as the Caribbean. (Wow!) "
People could read the newspaper by their crimson and green light. Gold miners in the Rocky Mountains woke up and ate breakfast at 1 a.m., thinking the sun had risen on a cloudy day."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This is only a test.

I'm testing out Blogger's built-in video thing-a-ma-jig, to see what level of quality it offers, how fast it loads, and so on. . .

So far, it doesn't seem to be taking too long to upload, but it would be nice if they let you know what percentage was done, in the processing phase. . . Seems like Flickr might be a better option for these short video clips.

. . . Hm. This is taking a while. . . Ah, there it is! From the thumbnail, it looks to be pretty poor quality, though. Well, now I know.

(For comparison purposes, here's the same video uploaded to Flickr:)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SkyMall Shopping Spree, Part One

When Donald returned from his trip, he brought back one of those SkyMall catalogues they have on airplanes. I guess I'd never really looked at them very closely before. It never occurred to me that they might be entertaining. (Besides, I suspect they have germs from a hundred other passengers' hands on them. Probably nowhere near as infested as your average dollar bill, but still. . . *squirm*)

Donald thought I might find some of the items in the catalogue amusing, and he was right. Here's the first batch of highlights:

No-Blind-Spot Rear View Mirror:

Almost as cool as the ones they have on school buses.

Remote Control Plane:

With a "detachable digital camera that takes still photos from hundreds of feet above the ground, allowing you to document your surroundings in a way previously impossible".

Very useful. Well, for spies and the military, maybe. For the rest of us, it's an expensive (and probably very difficult to safely maneuver and land without crashing and destroying) toy for grown-ups. (Of course, if they were giving them away...)

Finger Drum Mousepad:"This mousepad has an integrated electronic drumpad that allows you to play eight real percussion sounds, including bass, snare, two rack toms, a floor tom, hi-hat, crash, and ride cymbals using only your fingers. The MP3 player input enables you to play drum solos over any song from your digital music library."

And you thought regular finger-drumming was annoying...!

Sleep-Regulating Sun Lamp:
"Emits the wavelength of morning sunlight and helps restore a more natural, restful sleep pattern." In other words, you pay $250 for something most of us can have for free. But this way you get your daily quota of sunlight in the comfort of your home, without having to venture into the icky outside world... or... sit by a sunny window... ... Hm. Yeah, this is pretty useless, unless you live in the darkest place on earth or are being kept in a dungeon. But it looks so neat and high-tech!

Voice-Activated R2-D2:Just what every StarWars fanatic has always wanted-- his (or her) own R2-D2! My favorite bit of the product description is as follows: "R2's lights, swiveling dome top, and distinctive happy and sad sounds faithfully mimic the real thing, right down to his occasional "bad mood." (A simple command of, "R2, behave yourself!" snaps him out of it.)" (g) See? He has moods-- just like the real R2-D2. He even "dances" to the (in)famous cantina music. (Well, now I gotta get one...)

Dog Sofa:

Hee hee. This is pretty cute. I do question whether a dog would actually use it, but that probably depends on the dog.

Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker:

Dieters, prepare to meet your worst enemy...

"Just add fresh ingredients, turn the dial, and you can have 1-1/2 quarts of frozen dessert in as few as 20 minutes." It doesn't require salt or ice, which is unusual (in my experience) for "homemade ice cream" makers, but I guess this isn't really the same type of ice cream.

Jumpin' Jammerz (aka Footed Pajamas-- for adults):

"For the 'big kid' in all of us, now the same footed pajamas you loved when you were a child are available in adult sizes!"
What in the world...? Maybe I'm missing out on something great, but I think these things look absolutely ridiculous.

"Whether you're lounging around the house, sipping hot chocolate in Aspen [*gag*], or hosting a pajama party, Jumpin' Jammerz are super-fabulous in any situation. Until now Footed Pajamas have been almost impossible to find in adult sizes. Well, your search is over!!!"

What-- difficult to find in adult sizes? I wonder why...

"A unique gift idea--perfect for pre-teens, teens, and adults!"

Well, "unique" is about right, but I'm officially stating for the record that I do not want a pair of Jumpin' Jammerz. Thanks for the thought, but instead, please make a donation in my name to a charitable foundation dedicated to helping people see how goofy these things make them look. ;o)

Myvu Crystal:

"Sit back, relax and enjoy your favorite movie--privately. connected to your iPod, Myvu Crystal provides hands-free viewing."

I feel like using this would give me a headache. (And it probably would, since I couldn't wear my glasses and this gadget at the same time, and without my glasses, I do tend to get a headache.)

This might actually be a nice toy for some people (expensive, though), but I still think they look a little silly. You know people who own these things are thinking, "Everyone must be so envious of me in my faux virtual reality eyewear! Yeah, I be stylin' in my cool iPod movie glasses!"-- and yet, all the while-- silly.

Bug Vacuum:

Oh, Bug Vacuum! Where have you been all my life?! (g)

"This cordless insect vacuum quickly captures bugs from up to 2' away. Flies, bees, spiders, and other insects are suctioned by a 22,400-rpm motor, sending the insect through a one-way valve in the extension tube to an electric grid in the handle that instantly kills the pest. The extension tube removes to place dead bugs in the garbage, shutting off the electric grid in the process to protect curious fingers from electrical shocks or burns. Without the use of toxic chemicals or vacuum bags that can serve as breeding grounds, this handheld device has an extendable nozzle to reach insects in high ceilings while the flexible rubber suction cup compresses to fit in tight corners, and the lightweight plastic design allows complete control while chasing flying insects."

Just imagine never having to touch a yucky bug again! Picture, if you will, a world in which you never again need run screaming from wasps, monster bees, jumping spiders, and the occasional centipede or roach! *starry-eyed bliss*

Unfortunately, judging by the reviews, it seems like it may not deliver on all of its promises. Oh well. I knew it was too good to be true. ;o) (Plus, there was no way I'd pay $50 for a bug vacuum. Sorry, bug vacuum inventor.) I'll just have to continue to rely on my human bug-remover, Donald. (Ok, ok, and sometimes I manage to "take care" of bugs, myself. But mostly I just try to avoid them.)

- - - - - - -

So, which item are you saving your pennies for?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs-- the movie!

Donald found this and showed it to me, knowing how much I like the classic picture book, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Apparently, there's going to be a movie based on the book:

I'm not sure yet what to think. Clearly, they've added to the original storyline-- they'd have to, really, to make a movie out of it-- but several of the scenes in the preview are based directly on illustrations in the book, which is a good sign. I'll definitely have to give it a watch, sooner or later. Though I doubt it will completely capture the pure whimsy of the original, it's still probably worth seeing once for anyone who enjoys the book.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Not to Be Stopped by Lack of Topic!

I feel like it's time to post here, again, but I'm not really sure what to post about, today.

I've been listening to talk radio and watching some political news (after something of a break from both), but what can I say about that? Maybe "I told you so" (though that doesn't make a lot of sense, here, because most of the people I think read this blog are probably more or less of a similar mind, politically speaking). "Oh, crap" might sum things up, with a dash of "I really want to strangle someone right now"-- or, ok, more than just a dash, and more than just one someone. . . So the least written on that subject, the better.

I could write about our weather-- how it's been so warm lately (mid-to-upper 70s)-- but many of you experience the same weather I do, and those who live in colder climates might not appreciate the rubbing in of the early Alabama springtime. (Don't worry, though; while you're basking in perfect weather this summer, we'll be breathless and miserable with high 90s and unbelievable humidity.) Besides, we're all supposed to find weather horribly dull. That's what They keep implying, anyway, but honestly, often I'd much rather hear about weather than the other news of the world and the complicated messes of life. And weather is interesting, doggonit! Or maybe it's just me, and Donald's right that I should've been a meteorologist. ;o) Anyway, I've always heard it takes a lot of advanced math to be a "real" meteorologist-- so I'll just have to settle for boring people with my weather-related chit-chat.

Maybe I could tell you what Trixie's been up to, lately-- only there's not much to tell, and you're probably sick of hearing about her, anyway. One note about her, though: Evidently our efforts to socialize her as a puppy have paid off. That, or her personality is just different from Molly's and Daisy's. You see, Trixie is fine around our house guest. A little rambunctious, maybe, and a little nervous (at first), but she's pretty much ready to be best friends forever. Daisy was never this comfortable around our guests (beyond maybe a few that she met when she was a puppy, and fairly regularly after that), and Molly-- well, Molly just really doesn't trust "strangers" at all. I'm confident that eventually, she'd come around and make friends, but it would take a long time (longer than our guests are usually here for) and plenty of patience. (Poor Molly. I'm sorry we didn't socialize you properly, little girl. I just didn't know better, back then!)

Well, at least I can write that I've finally finished sewing that second rag quilt. I mentioned before how I was almost finished with it, only to discover at the last minute that I'd have to rip and re-sew some seams. It was annoying to have to backtrack like that, but I think it was worth it. Now the pattern (on the back) is as originally intended, and I'm well into the snipping phase. It's always exciting when you get to this point! I'm looking forward to getting it fully snipped, washed, and "ragged" so I can see what the final effect is.

When I was sketching out my idea for the quilt, I knew it reminded me of something, but I wasn't sure what. I finally realized that I was thinking of a set in the 2006 version of Jane Eyre. In the scene where Jane goes to meet Mr. Rochester for the first time (formally), there are these mullioned windows in the background, and the little diamond-shaped panes look like a random selection of blues and greys. (Can you tell I've seen this series more than a few times? (g)) The quilt (on paper) reminded me of those windows. I think the actual quilt looks less like the windows than my sketch did, but still... I've "had a thing" for unusual windows for many years, so I kind of like thinking of this as my "Jane Eyre Window Quilt".

At this point, the skillful blogger wraps the post up and ties it off with a nice little bow, but I can't seem to locate any ribbon nearby... Will this scrap of thread I just found in my hair do? (Snipping rag quilts is messy! All those loose bits of thread!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Past Few Days" List

(Now with bullet points!)

Over the past few days:
  • Rain.
  • More rain. (Supposed to dry out for a while, by tomorrow.)
  • Planted three blueberry bushes. (Premier, Sharpblue, and Climax)
  • Discussed where to plant satsuma trees. (Brown's Select and Owari)
  • Donald has killed ten (or more?) carpenter bees by our kitchen door. There are still more of them!
  • No more "cass-uh-roe", but this time it was "tater tart casserole" (instead of "tater tot casserole").
  • Someone else in the household may have referred to "megapickles" (megapixels), but it was clearly just a slip of the tongue. There's no way she thought that was the actual word. ;o) (But seriously. I may not be a techno-know-it-all, but I do know it's not "megapickles".)
  • Rearranging some computer stuff. Still a few issues to work out, but the computer situation is mostly much better than it was this time last week.
  • Trixie's been enjoying a new food cube toy.
  • Speed-cleaning videos on Vimeo. Two of 'em. One for each of us. (Go watch them now. You know you want to. (g))
And coming up this week, we're expecting a house guest sometime early this week (maybe today).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tilt-Shift Video

I thought this was pretty neat!

The North Wind Blew South from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Those are actual people and (life-size) places; they only look tiny because of a trick of the eye created with a special lens (and stop-motion photography). (Or something like that. I'm not sure I completely understand how it works, but I can still appreciate the videos. (g))

For more of this type of thing, search Vimeo (and other video-hosting sites, too, I'm sure) for "tilt-shift".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

patio, photography/videography, etc.

Time for another snippety post, I think.

- - - - - - -

Patio Update

(In the distance, faintly: "What? You mean to say that thing's still not finished?!")

Well, at least we're working on it again. This weekend we finished painting all the lumber we need to complete the top part. Now it's just a matter of putting them up there and attaching the shade cloth. Most of the rest of the project is for appearance's sake rather than functionality-- and after the shade cloth's up, we'll have a shadier spot to work on them. ;o)

- - - - - - -

Stop-Motion Photography

You may have noticed from my Vimeo sidebar widget that I've taken an interest in stop-motion photography. In a moment of serendipity, last night I came across a link on a (seemingly unrelated) web page-- a suggestion that readers go watch the stop-motion videos at the "Home of the Twisted Films of PES". Apparently, one of his shorts won Honorable Mention at the Sundance Film Festival, and TIME Magazine voted it the #2 Viral Film of the Year-- but I'd never heard of him, so maybe some of you haven't, either.

A word of warning: I haven't watched all the films, but of those I have, a couple have been slightly "twisted", or at least maybe not quite the thing you want to watch with your children. So far, it seems that you can mostly tell which ones might be questionable by the titles-- "Pee-Nut" and the next one on the list of shorts-- but still, if you're concerned, you might want to preview them before sharing. Also the second "making of" film ends with a charming image of some guy using marijuana. I imagine Mr. PES thought it was very clever, but personally, I wasn't impressed. Yeah, I'm such a prude. (shrug)

Those things aside, some of these videos are very impressive, with their creative use of commonplace items for unexpected purposes. I definitely recommend watching the first three "shorts", if nothing else.

- - - - - - -

Spy Lens

Hee hee. This "spy lens" thing looks like fun. It's a "lens" that attaches to the end of your regular lens. There's a cut-out in the side and a mirror so that you can point your camera at something harmless (a tree in the distance, for example) when you're actually taking a photo of someone to your left or right (or above or below you). Pretty neat! The only problem is that if people look at you (and your camera) very closely, I think they might begin to wonder why there's a hole in the lens. ;o) Still, at a distance that wouldn't be as much of an issue-- nor for kids or other people who aren't that familiar with lenses.

- - - - - - -

Rag Quilting

I've been working on my second denim/flannel rag quilt for a while, now. I've worked on it for an hour here or there, then left it alone for a week at a time, which tends to make the process drag on forever. (I've read about people who whip up simple rag quilts in a day. Personally, I think that'd take all the enjoyment out of it, but it needn't take this long.) I thought I was finally getting close to finishing it, yesterday afternoon. Then I decided to give the back one more look before sewing the two halves together.

Hmph! Somehow I'd managed to mess things up, back there. I thought I'd finally gotten it all laid out perfectly, but no. I'd turned some things "wrong way 'round", and now I've had to rip out several seams. (The ripping of a seam is such an insulting sound...)

It's not the end of the world, of course. I could've even left it as it was-- the blanket would've worked just as well, and it probably wouldn't have been noticeable to most people-- but I decided it was worth a little more effort to get it just the way I'd originally intended.

I think this will be the only "on point" rag quilt I'll make, though, or at least the only one where I try to make the back patterned instead of random. For whatever reason, I've had a lot of trouble with this one.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mean Bee, Cass-uh-row, and "What's on Tivvy?"

With the return of the warmer weather, we've also noted the return of those horrible wood-boring bees. I really hate those things. They're destructive and menacing. They're also territorial, and they stand their ground-- er, hover their air(?).

Anyway, I'm a little frightened of them, to tell the truth. For some reason, they seem to love the area around our kitchen door. (It makes sense, now, because of all the new wood in the area, thanks to our patio project-- but they've always seemed to concentrate in that spot.) Today, as I made several trips carrying groceries inside from the car, I was under close and disapproving surveillance by one or two of the irritating things. I tried spraying one with wasp spray, but I don't think I got enough on it to do any real damage. Apparently the only way to kill them is the hit them with a board, then immediately find where they fell and finish them off before they have a chance to recover. (shudder) Donald, get your 2x4 ready for this weekend, ok?

- - - - -

I was making up my shopping list for the aforesaid groceries, when someone who shall remain nameless wondered why I hadn't made a particular "cass-uh-row" in such a long time.

(Pause for internal laughter) "Cass-uh-row? Did you just say 'cass-uh-row'?"

Yes, he had. "What. . .? Isn't that how you say it?" (Though by his expression it was clear that he now knew otherwise. (g))

Not quite-- but I guess it might sound a little like that. . .

Well, now we have the ingredients for that casserole that we haven't eaten in a year or two, even though the bee tried to prevent me from bringing them inside.

- - - - -

I'm watching my way through "The House of Eliott" again, as "lunchtime entertainment". It's pretty soap opera-y in spots, and as always seems to be the case in these programs, the characters sometimes-- no, frequently deserve a good spanking (Ugh, don't get me started on Evie!)-- but somehow it's still addictive and watchable.

(I'm fairly sure I mentioned this after an earlier viewing, but) I find it very funny when an episode ends on a tragic/dramatic note, complete with suitably emotional music, only to be immediately followed by the jaunty theme song. It's like this: Oh no! Someone's just been killed in a car accident! Horror! Drama! Sadness! Woe! --Well, ok. Enough of that, now. Back to the party! La-di-da da-da-da daaa daaa! La-di-da da-da daa-daaaa! La-la di da da dun-dun-dun, La-di-da di-da di-daa-aa-aa! (Yes, that's exactly how the theme song goes. :oP)

It's a little thing, but it makes me laugh.

P.S. If you've seen the program, you might be amused by this French & Saunders spoof: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Random Bullet Points

Things, lately:
  • As you'll know if you read my "tweets" on Twitter, our water pump stopped working last week. Thursday morning, I think it was. The repairman couldn't make it here until Friday morning, so we just had to make do until then. Fortunately, we had a little water stored, and my maternal grandparents live near enough that it was easy to go fill a few more containers. The repairman came early Friday, so we weren't without for long, but it was long enough to remind us of how much we take it for granted. I never realize how often I wash my hands until the water's off. It's so much more trouble when you can only use one hand at a time (because the other's busy pouring water).
  • Trixie may have solved the horse chestnut dilemma for us. I knew that she'd broken a couple of the saplings, the day I got them. I'd put them in the wheelbarrow with some water, not thinking she could reach them in there-- but she did, and she'd messed with two or three before I realized it. It turns out that those just happened to be the Chinese horse chestnuts. One of them may still be ok, but otherwise, we'll just have to look into buying one.
  • We're also thinking about getting a blueberry bush or two, and maybe another satsuma. We'll have to figure out where's the best place around here to shop for fruit trees/shrubs. . .
  • We had some very windy weather, recently. Evidently it was windy enough to blow a scrubber (the "plastic steel wool" kind) off our grill, because yesterday afternoon I spied Trixie chewing on it. I got it from her easily enough, but I couldn't tell for certain if she'd eaten any of it. Crazy dog! If there is anything that she can possibly get into, she'll find a way. I really, really hope she calms down a little more with age.
  • Over the weekend, we watched the Rifftrax version of "The Star Wars Holiday Special". I knew it would be odd, but the reality of it was far more bizarre than I'd ever imagined. Absolutely awful! I can't see how anyone could have thought it was a good idea. I'd try to explain how weird it is, but once I got started I wouldn't be able to stop, and it'd take too long. If you're really that interested, you'll just have to go find it to watch for yourself. (g)
Of course, one or two other things have happened, too, but I don't think any of it was much more interesting than what's listed above. At least there's something non-political at the top of my blog, now. ;o)

Political Ranting (Lite) & Suchlike

The big local news yesterday: Mardi Gras throws insult Pres. Obama. If you don't care to read or watch the story, here's the gist. A woman says that one Mardi Gras organization threw bumper stickers during a parade. The stickers are solid black, with a large "O" and a single profane word. (It's the "s-word", I think-- based on a similar sticker I found online-- but for some reason the news people decided to replace it with a cartoony "faux swear"-- $%?&-- instead of just blurring the offensive word.) The sticker's design resembles that "W" tag people were using a few years ago (in reference to George W. Bush), so it's obviously a political commentary aimed at Obama.

Apparently this goes against the policies of that particular parade-- and I have to agree that it wasn't the best time or place to distribute them. Also, I can understand people not wanting their kids to pick one of these up. I can hear it now. . . "S**t. . . S**t. . . Mommy, what's 's**t' mean?" (However, you know that many of those kids probably hear worse than that on TV or when Daddy gets cut off in traffic.) But still. I'm sorry, but I have to roll my eyes over this one! (Poor eyeballs. They're going to be completely worn out over the next few years.)

In related news. . .
I was minding my own business on some website or other, when I noticed this ad:

The "clever" tee-shirt asks: "Do you smell what Barack is cookin?"

Answer: Why, yes, in fact I do, and it smells to high heaven.

Ha ha. Ok, so this computer is presently infected with some annoying little bug (that I'm sure Donald can fix, but I'm not going to risk making the computer explode before he gets a chance to look at it) that, when you click a link, takes you one step past that website, to some type of advertisy/buy-this-now website-- usually with content related to whatever you were searching for in the first place. (It can be pretty irritating-- especially when the page refuses to let you use the "back" button.) Well, this time, when I clicked a link related to "Do you smell what Barack is cookin'?" it took me to an coupon for Glade air fresheners. LOL! (Well, it made me laugh. . .) The country may be going to Hades in a handbasket, but by golly, we're gonna smell good in the meantime!