Archive for November, 2006

Winter Storm Warning!

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Four hours ago it was 80F here, and now, and 10 PM, it’s 39 and dropping fast.

Here in Texas, we don’t get much snow, just one or two killer ice storms per winter, and most of us are too stupid to know how to drive on the stuff. Even worse, some companies are not smart enough to let their employees stay safe at home.

Which means I’ll probably be expected to go in.

I’m fortunate that I have a great supervisor that’s as big a coward about driving on ice as I am, so she’s understanding, but she’s still helpless against the corporate web of mindless rules.

Still, we somehow muddle through every year, so wish us luck.

More pictures, of course …

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

A couple of years ago I had to help our boss-at-the-time transfer some vacation pictures off of his digital camera. His vacation spot? New Zealand. Number of pictures: 32.

My feeling of superiority? PRICELESS.

Seriously, people, this guy went to NEW FREAKING ZEALAND — the place, you’ll remember, where every bit of the external footage in the 12 hours of the Lord of the Rings movies was filmed — and came back with THIRTY-TWO FREAKING PICTURES.

In his defense, he’s still not the biggest idiot I’ve ever worked for.

But anyway: I said all that as a preface to the statement that I’ve just uploaded even more photos from my 2-day trip halfway across the state, and I’m still not finished — plus, there are a lot that I’m not going to upload, mostly for quality or duplication reasons.

Because if you’re not using your digital camera, you might as well give it to me

Anyway: Go over to Flickr (via the link at the top of the right-hand column, duh) and check ‘em out.

And if you still haven’t wasted enough time, go over to the home page of the famed humongous waterpark The Schlitterbahn, of which I also took a picture or two …

The Explanation

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

Okay, sorry to have left many of you perplexed (Pam!) with my last post, so here’s the quick scoop.

I had to go out of town — to New Braunfels, to be specific — on a more or less unplanned trip, for a more or less family emergency.

My mom was staying with my cousin and her family while she had some tests done and stints put in her legs.

And on Thursday, another cousin (this time on my father’s side) who also lives in the area, manipulated me into flying down for the weekend with only one day’s notice, even though my doctor has advised me against travel because my ribs and shoulder blades still haven’t completely recovered from my surgery, and even though this is a bad time for me to miss work. I had told him all this the week before, in a detailed email that it took me almost two hours to type, when he invited us both to fly down before the tests, but apparently it didn’t make a dent.

It was just like being at work.

Seriously, though: I found out later that he had called everybody in the family with an exaggeratedly dire report of my mom’s test results, having everyone worried sick, all unnecessarily.

I’ll spare you any further details, but the incident will not be forgotten.

Other than that, the trip itself wasn’t so bad. This was my first out of town trip since 1997 that wasn’t to Lubbock or my hometown thereabouts, so this is the closest thing to a vacation that I’ve had in a long time, and it was a nice change of scenery. I had only been in the San Antonio airport once before, and that was in 1985. It looked entirely different, and might in fact have been a different building entirely. It has a really nice look, with arched translucent ceilings and dark gray accents that had a surprisingly warm effect.

On the flight there, a large family came in late and couldn’t all sit together, so two of the children were seated next to me — and I’m thrilled to report that they were perfectly behaved, plus I had more elbow room (Southwest Airlines planes are notoriously cramped) than if my rowmates had been adults.

I even snapped off a couple of pictures (see one on my previous post), something I hadn’t dared to do since we got our digital camera, for fear that some Homeland “Security” goons would seize the opportunity to wrestle me to the floor of the plane and lock me up without a trial. This time, however, other people had their cameras out, so I took advantage of this lapse in our Police State to take some quick pics.

I didn’t get to listen to local radio stations, since my cousins are older (their idea of driving music is Alan Jackson versions of Christmas songs — but hey, it could have been a LOT worse) and my MP3 player only picked up three stations, none of them to my liking.

This worked out well, though, because some nice tunes I’ve never heard before came up in the shuffle mode of my player (that happens when you’ve got 4400 songs loaded), and one of them, “Hoodie” by Lady Sovereign was so good that I’ve been listening to the entire album ever since. (I’ve been hearing her single on a cellphone/music player commercial, and I recently caught the tail end of her performance on one of the late night talk shows).

I also got to see my cousin’s daughters that I haven’t seen in six years, and got to catch up with their four kids, two of whom didn’t exist back then. Surprisingly, the children took well to me, especially Lilly, the three-year-old attention-hog, which makes since since I always had my camera with me.

Speaking of which, I sent up my cousin’s husband Richard with a Flickr Pro account, and showed him some of the possibilities of that site, including sets and groups. I also got a few hundred photos (some of which I have already posted on Flickr), which was quite an accomplishment since I realized that I had left all but one of my Memory Sticks at home.

Fortunately I was able to use Richard’s computer (another rare aspect of this trip, since my mom doesn’t have a computer) to clear off the stick (3 times!) and load most of the pics onto my flash drive.

Keep checking Flickr for more photos in the next few days.

Which brings me to two of my favorite photo subjects, Annie and Albert — my cousins’ dogs, a shorthaired English pointer and a Boston terrier, respectively. I esepcially loved Albert, who is epileptic, but otherwise is the happiest, friendliest dog you’d ever want to meet. You can see more of their pictures on Flickr.

On another subject: It was cold in Dallas the day I left, so I packed a sweater, sweat pants, and a flannel hoodie — none of which I needed on my trip, and which took up two-thirds of my small suitcase. I also grabbed my heavy leather jacket on my way out the door, instead of the light one I had planned to take, so I had to lug that stupid thing all the way down there. Fortunately, my cousin suggested that I let her mail it back to me, so I wouldn’t have to carry it all the way back on such a warm day.

Okay, that’s all I have time for right now, but there are a few more things I need to mention … and if you can’t wait, just check my Flickr page, and I may have posted photos by then …

Brykmantra’s Not-So-Big Adventure

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Okay, I haven’t posted since … Thursday? … and I haven’t corrected that day’s graphic yet.

The hint as to why is at right, but suffice it to say that it was fairly unplanned and largely resisted, as is all travel in my life, but which resulted in some mildly interesting experiences and lots and lots of pictures (I know you’re shocked), so just stick around until I can catch my breath and I’ll have details …

Birthday Girl

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Today was not only my wife’s birthday — it was a BIG birthday, a big ROUND birthday.

Still, we didn’t do much, since we both had to work all day, although she did pick up her new second pair of glasses (Versace!) and got some mall shopping in. We’re both happiest at home, so I had gotten her a Black Forest cake (pictured above, and notice they messed up the icing color for her name), and some bubbly beverage, and some friends came over, and I went out and got some Mexican food, so a good birthday was had by all.

But mostly by her, since it’s her birthday.

(UPDATE: Cake picture problem is fixed, finally …)

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

This is the anniversary card my wife gave to me on Friday, which I show here for 3 reasons:

1. Friday was our anniversary — our TENTH to be exact! Just think, I’ve gone ten years without screwing up bad enough for her to kick me out!

One of the youngers girls at work, who’s only been married a couple of years, said she hoped she made it to ten, and I said, “Hey, it took me two tries to get this fair …”

2. The card, in case you didn’t notice, is in the shape of underwear, and makes some underwear jokes — which is appropriate, since after we ate (at the Cheesecake Factory, which by the way makes a terribly ordinary pasta bolognese, which tastes about like Hamburger Helper), we went to Penney’s and got me a whole new set of underwear, and, for her, a new rug for the kitchen.

Yes, kids, that’s how middle-aged people celebrate special occasions.

3. The third reason I’m showing this picture is because of the method used to take the picture: I just got this new light tent, plus a couple of small studio lights, since the lighting in our house is not conducive to photography. I’ve been experimenting with various camera settings, and have gotten some pretty good pictures which I’ll show off eventually, but for now, here’s the card.

In review: We made it ten years! Woo-hoo!

I Voted …

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

… for all the good it did. It looks like Kinky‘s out, and Governor Goodhair Landgrab is back in.

Change of Season, Change of Banner

Monday, November 6th, 2006

If you’re reading this fresh, you’re seeing the second of my Flash banners, this time adapted to the fall season. I’m trying to get both my skills and my portfolio built up, so I’ll update the banner about once a month: I’ll make it Christmasy at the end of this month, then, after Christmas, I’ll do something to commemorate my fourth “blogiversary”. By that time I’ll probably have some more ideas in order to make a major design change to the banner itself.

For now, though, it suffices to stay with the same basic layout and just make seasonal updates.

(And if you’re NOT reading this “fresh”, I plan to soon add the banner to the text of this post, so it’ll show up in the archives, long after I’ve replaced it on the main page.)

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UPDATE: Okay, for those of you checking this out later, here’s the autumn banner in question:

Wheel of Fortune (Cookies)

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

I was going to do a post on the correlation between fortune cookies and an unexpected boost in self-esteem and joie de vivre, but it’s much too complicated to get into here, so we’ll just use this fortune cookie bullet icon while I catch up on posting other stuff:

I didn’t get around to mentioning this: Yesterday was t he birthday of RennyBA, our blogging friend in Norway. Stop by and wish him a belated HBD!

I also meant to mention this on Thursday: I got back the results of my followup CT scan, the first one since my surgery in March:

Welcome to No-Tumorville — Population: ME! Woo-hoo!

That was what the doctor had expected, given the nature of neuroendocrine tumors, but it was nice to confirm that I’m still cancer-free. He said we’ll test about twice a year until about 2 years after the surgery, and after that I can be considered to be in the clear.

A few weeks ago, I did the first of what I’ve been meaning to do a lot of: Take pictures of one of my Patrick O’Brian books and post them on Flickr. I started with “The Wine-Dark Sea” (#16 out of 20), and posted it to a couple of book groups.

Since then, other people who are fans of the author and the series posted comments on my picture, as well as pictures of their own. Now, one of those people has started a Patrick O’Brian Flickr group, and it’s grown to become a wonderful gathering place for us O’Brian fans. There are not just pictures of books, some also some screen-captures of a TV interview with O’Brian, and dozens of photos of the ship used as the HMS Surprise in the Master and Commander movie.

This is just another example of communities are still forming on the Internet, even of non-computer-related subjects, and how Flickr can be used for things other than just pictures.

Go figure.

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Okay, that’s it for this weekend; the magical properties of Chinese desert novelties, or rather of the anticipation of said novelties, will wait for another day.

Or not.

Birthday Boy

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I almost forgot to mention: Today is the birthday of my co-worker (and regular reader/commenter of this blog) Todn8r, who happens to be exactly one day older than both Matthew McConaughey and Sean “Whatever Stupid Nickname He’s Going By These Days” Combs, and one day younger than one of the guys in Korn.

I know what he’s getting for his birthday, but I won’t say what it is just in case he doesn’t know, but he probably does, since it’s not even available yet, and his wife probably had to tell him why he doesn’t have a present yet …

Anyway: Happy Birthday Todn8r, and just think: You’re still just a sprout, and you’ve got a ways to go before you get as ancient and decrepit as me.