The Blob

Friday, September 27, 2002

My wife. I think I'll keep her.

I'm very lucky. My wife is so good to me. Over time, I will share some anecdotes. But here's today's example: my wife is a true optimist. Below is a snippet of what I mean:

Me: God, I'm getting a lot of grey hairs.
Her: At least you have hair.

Am I lucky or what?

Thursday, September 26, 2002

It ain't easy bein' green

I think today is National Bring An Avocado To Work Day. At least it was for me. I simply wanted to dress up a sandwich, but ended up sharing most of it with other people. You can make friends that way. It made think of how some people call the Avocado the food of the Gods. That sounds great, until you consider that most of the Gods are fat slobs. A comforting thought.

But still, I love 'em. Perhaps that's because I'm originally from Minnesota, where foods like Avocados were once so rare that they were classified as a controlled substance. So I try to be careful. And while I eat a slice or two, I justify to myself all the health benefits of eating them. After all, life is better in practiced in moderation.

Please remind me of that, okay?

The rat race is over. The rats have won.

Bad news: we have mice. Or, to be grammatically correct, we have meeces. And to put it succinctly, I hate those meeces to pieces. Where we live borders on open land, and as such, the area behind our house is something only Marlin Perkins or The Crocodile Hunter could appreciate. But things have gotten ugly in our household. We are under attack by four-footed terrorists.

This is war.

Don't ask me how they have done it, but mice (and I hope it's just mice) have gotten into the walls behind our bedroom, an upstairs bathroom and our kitchen. We heard them tapping and scratching at the walls all night. But it gets worse. Yesterday, my beautiful, wonderful wife did something unusual for her: she came home at lunch. Thank God she did: if not for her, our house might have caught fire. The cause: rodents. Apparently, they chewed on the electrical cables running from the air conditioning compressor outside our house, which is connected to the furnace upstairs. The result: the rodents' chewing caused a short in the cable, which in turn caused the furnace transformer to burn up, and we're lucky that it did not take the whole house with it.


We've called the exterminators. But I've considered calling da mob to take care of it. ("Hey Jelly - whack 'em.") Better yet, I'm thinking of calling the Department of Homeland Security. Now, if I can somehow link these little critters with Iraq, perhaps I can get Federal funding. It's just a concept.

So now we face the hassle of clearing out a closet to give the exterminators access to our attic, and clearing out a garden storage area as well. We won't be able to feed the birds any more, because that might be attracting these little vermin. But that's kind of a moot point anyway: we have a family of hawks (including a new baby) living behind our home. I'll tell you about the air wars behind our house in another installment.

It's sad really. Mice are almost cute. I don't mind them in our garden. But we have to draw the line when they come inside. Maybe now our cat can get some sleep.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Adieu, Kodachrome

Over the weekend, I started work on a fun project: publishing a book of photos of Java, our kitten, as a gift to my mother-in-law. Okay, that sounds pretty trite and too G-rated for its own good. But stay with me. What may sound trivial on the surface is really quite revolutionary inside.

The reason I mention this is because it's being done all electronically. No film, just pure digital. And I have the brilliant minds at Apple Computer and Canon to thank for this. For the past couple of months, I've been using my new little Canon Digital Elph camera to photograph our four-footed supermodel. The photos are then uploaded to our iMac into an amazing Apple program by the name of iPhoto. It's like having a digital light table allowing me to edit my selections, arrange them into coherent stories, and do some basic image adjustments and cropping. (For the serious stuff, such as color correction, and other heavyweight touch ups, I launch Adobe Photoshop, and photographer's best friend.) I should finish the work tonight. Then comes the fun part.

iPhoto has a share function that allows me to automatically publish my images to the Web (I'll post a link here in a future blog). But it gets cooler still. iPhoto also has an album feature containing a built-in page layout program with several very elegant templates. All I have to do is select the appropriate template and my photos are automatically laid out in a book. Add some text, arrange the photos the way you want and press the Order Album button. Ten days later, a hard-bound album of your photos arrives in the mail, looking for all the world like you've published an expensive coffee table book.

My mother-in-law will go bonkers.

You can do the same thing with photos of your kids. Or a portfolio of photos. A yearbook. A catalogue. Or anything else your imagination can conceive. Suddenly, anybody can be a publisher of note. That may sound trivial, but it's not. Thanks to tools like iPhoto, a digital camera and the Internet, we have options that were unimaginable a few years ago. And to think that a child can do this opens amazing new possibilities for learning. For sharing. For growing. What blows me away is how good it looks. The tools we have today are orders of magnitude more powerful than the pedestrian photo and graphics tools of years past. With a little commitment, anyone can publish at a professional level. In my days of using Kodachrome, it was a big dream for me. Today, reality is well within reach.

Give it a try. You'll see what I mean.

Are you listening, Saddam?

If you want to know the mood of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, just go to San Diego. Yes, that's a long way from Washington. But as I discovered by going there twice last week, San Diego is a perfect barometer for the mood of the President and his Secretary of Defense. That's because of its concentration of military bases. I have to go to San Diego from time to time, and when things get ugly, or are about to, you know it. F-18 fighter-bombers scream overhead at low altitude. The skies go dark under the protective cover of large troop transport helocopters. And at Camp Pendleton to the north, you can see troops running in full battle dress.

You get the idea.

I had to spend a few days in San Diego a year ago. September 2001 was a particularly tense time. The skies above San Diego reflected the mood of the nation, with formations of fighters thundering right over our heads. It made conference calls fun, as you had to take breaks as the jets roared above us on full afterburners. At least you know where your tax dollars are going.

Cut to one year later. The thunder is starting again. Perhaps not with the resonance of a year ago. But still, it's unmistakable. Something may soon happen. Just look up above San Diego.

Are you listening, Saddam?