Sunday, January 28, 2007


Changes are in the air this month.
Maria and I signed up with our doctor for his weight loss program. At the end of three weeks last Wednesday, I'd lost about 15 pounds and Maria was down about 8 or 9. And we're feeling better already. Taking Phentermine, chromium and vitamin B12 every morning, paying closer attention to what and how much we eat and aiming for 10,000 steps/day with pedometers we wear on our belts.
We've also had our initial meeting with the contractor for our new garage/studio. The plan calls for the razing of our two ramshackle garages. They'll be replaced by a heated two-car, two-motorcycle garage with an upstairs photo studio/office. Plumbing would add $10k to the cost, so we're skipping that amenity, but it should be a great addition to the property. We're also planning to pave the area between the garage and house and put up a privacy fence for entertaining and hot tubbing. The hot tub desperately needs something to block the wind. As it is now, any wind over about 10 mph makes getting in, and especially out, of the tub a bone-chilling experience.
I need to remember to call Galen Perry, who runs a BMW motorcycle parts operation up near Delphi, and have him pick up what's left of my old '91 K100RS. I've parted out most of it on Ebay and am down to the frame, forks, front wheel, engine and drive train. We have a lot of stuff to dispose of or, at least move before the garage goes into the dumpster.
Anybody want a Franklin stove that runs on gas? I'll probably offer it on Ebay with local pickup only. No way I'm going to ship that beast.
And I went under the knife last Tuesday to have a cyst removed from my back. No big deal, but the incision is starting to itch as it heals and I can't use the hot tub until the stitches come out in another week.
Maria fired her night copy editor, so she and I have been working together at her paper evenings since last Monday. It's fun to be back in the newspaper harness and paycheck is nice too. Sure beats flipping channels all evening.
We're shooting a wedding next weekend for the son of a couple of Maria's longtime friends. The kids are extremely short on money, so Maria offered to do it for $300. I was willing to come down to $500 as a charity case, but $300 is downright painful, considering the post-shoot production work I have to do to edit the images and burn them onto CDs. This is essentially the same package for which we just raised our rates to $1,000. I told her this is the only semi-freebie she can give away this year. And we need to get these kids to swear they will never tell anyone how cheaply we worked on their wedding.
As I write this, the mercury is down to 15 degrees (F), heading for an overnight low of 10 or 11. It's the closest snap of the winter so far, so I guess I shouldn't complaing. But I've been cold all day and it's got me thinking of a tropical escape.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Shins album

Amazing. Simply amazing.
The new Shins album, that is. I bought a copy this evening, mainly just to see my son's name in the liner notes, but it turns out to be the sweetest piece of ear candy I've found in a long long time.
I'm sitting at a computer at my wife's newspaper office, writing obits and editing copy while listening through earphones.
The second thing I do when I get home tonight, after letting the dogs out, will be to rip this CD to my iPod.
Good work, Sean!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Another low mileage year

I turned in my 2006 mileage for the Indianapolis BMW Club's mileage awards this afternoon. It was an embarrassingly low total - 6,093 miles.
I suppose some casual riders would consider that pretty good, but for a BMW rider it's pathetic.
For more than a decade, I was a regular recipient of the club's 10,000-mile award at the annual awards dinner, but this will be the second consecutive year when I've failed to make 10k.
And it looks like 2007 won't be a high mileage year either, because our wedding photography business is picking up. I like the money, but I miss riding.

Right on, Sean!

I got this e-mail the other day from my son Sean Flora, who is a recording engineer/producer in Portland, Ore.:

The new record by the Shins, Wincing the Night Away, comes out next Tuesday. They will be appearing on the David Letterman Show (whatever it’s called) that night. They were on SNL this past weekend. This is my first engineering credit on a major release of this magnitude.

Needless to say, I'm enormously impressed and proud. I've watched him work with musicians in the studio and am impressed with his ability to tweak things and to guide in a friendly way, so as not to bruise egos. He has excellent people skills and is damned good at what he does.
Check out his MySpace page.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

No thanks, Mr. Jobs

Okay, maybe I don't want an iPhone after all.
After listening to various podcasts in the wake of Steve Jobs' introduction of Apple's new cell phone, I'm a bit less awed.
Yes, it is a spectacular design. No moving parts or keys, just a big gorgeous touch-screen. That means Apple can update your iPhone with tweaks and new features - maybe even completely change the user interface when you synch your iPhone with your internet-linked computer. That's freaking revolutionary.
But when I start thinking about how I use a cell phone and what the iPhone supposedly will do and won't do, I find myself having to give up too much.
The word is that the touch-screen keyboard makes typing e-mails really difficult, compared with the thumb typing and accessory fold-out keyboard for my Treo 700p.
At present there is no provision for third-party software additions, so I'd have to give up Pocket Quicken that synchs with my PC Quicken, my various Palm weather programs, my Palm document reader, and on and on.
And, like the iPod, the iPhone does not have a user-replacable battery. Plus, the presumed battery life is only about 5 hours.
And that gorgeous big screen looks like it can be easily scrathed and marred in normal day-to-day use.
And the mp3 player capacity is pretty piddly, compared with my 60GB iPod.
The idea of rolling an iPod and cell phone into one package is alluring. I find myself carrying both whenever I leave home. But somehow the iPhone doesn't quite get me there. It's kind of a cell phone and kind of an iPod and kind of an internet device, but it doesn't compare with the power and versatility of a regular iPod and a Treo.
Plus, I'm locked into contracts with Sprint for the rest of my natural life and have no desire to switch to Cingular.
So I think I'll pass on the iPhone and stick with my Treo.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


The new iPhone unveiled yesterday is excruciatingly cool.
But they forgot to build a camera into it.

Added later: I was watching Steve Jobs' keynote address at Mac World online today and discovered I'd missed the reference to a 2 megapixel camera. So the iPhone is perfect, after all.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sad duty

I covered another soldier's funeral today - this one a hometown boy. I can see the cemetery from my bedroom window. Here's his mother with the flag from the casket.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Life without the Internet

I lost my internet connection a week ago this morning. I was looking at movie previews on the Netflix site when the connection failed. I tried all of the usual tricks - power cycling DSL modem, wireless router and computer, poking the reset buttons on the modem and router and snugging up the cable connections on modem and router. None of it worked.
So I called the tech service people at my ISP - Frontiernet. The friendly techie ran me through his diagnostic flow chart and concluded that my DSL modem was hosed. Well, he avoided that term, preferring to say it needed "a rest." So he transferred me to customer service where the friendly lady tried to talk me into a DSL modem/wireless router combo, which would add $4 and change a month to my phone/DSL bill for equipment rental. I declined and asked for a simple DSL modem, since I have no complaints with my D-Link wireless router.
"How soon can you get it to me?" I asked.
"Jan. 2," she replied.
This was on Dec. 27, mind you.
"Is there any way to expedite that?"
So I sat and stewed for a day.
On Friday, I decided to go to my local Frontier office on the off chance that they would have a DSL modem I could borrow until my new one came from afar.
But the door was locked and bore a sign announcing that the office was closed for the New Year holiday.
Seriously Jonesing for an internet fix, I took my laptop to the local public library and used their Wi-Fi to check my e-mail and surf a bit.
The one glimmer of hope in my disconnected despair was the realization that, although the U.S. Postal Service wouldn't resume deliveries until today (Wednesday) because of President Ford's funeral services, UPS might be working on Tuesday and my modem was coming via UPS.
Nevertheless, I went back to the local Frontier office yesterday (Tuesday) to let them know I was without service.
(The last time I lost my DSL connection, the Frontiernet techies said my router was at fault, but it turned out that the problem was at the local switch where one of the guys had snipped some wires and a tiny piece of wire fell into contact with the wires associated with my connection. Consequently, I have learned that the distant techies are pretty much always wrong.)
So the woman at the local office took down my information and said she'd ask their only tech guy - who was handling problems in a nearby town - to get on it when he got back.
In the meantime, the UPS guy delivered a brand new Speed Stream DSL modem/wireless router combo to my house. Remember that I said I declined the combo? Well, here it was.
So I hooked it up and, sure enough, I still had no internet connection.
The DSL indicator light shone a happy bright green, but no data was coming through the connection.
Once, again, the Frontiernet techies misdiagnosed the problem, pointing the finger at my equipment when the fault was on their side of the connection.
Naturally, the local tech guy didn't get back in town in time to fix my problem last night and I'm still waiting at 9:15 a.m. today.
So how am I connecting to post this?
I'm piggybacking onto my next-door neighbor's unsecured Wi-Fi signal.