Saturday, March 31, 2007

Crunch time

The demolition crew and dumpster will be here Monday morning to begin the destruction of our two garages.
So we have to get everything important out of them this weekend.
And, of course, it's raining.
And we're expected to attend a birthday party tomorrow for one of Maria's nephews. And we have to buy her daughter a new cell phone today to replace the one she let get stolen last Saturday.
And we have 50 minutes left to get to the postoffice to mail the newspaper's entry package for the National Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest and Better Newspaper Advertising Contest. Winning means we get to fly to the awards presentation in October in Norfuck, Va.
I must be off.

Thursday night out

Lauri and Maria enjoying some after-work bar time. We stayed til past Last Call and got home about 3 a.m.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Step one of the fitness journey

I had my introductory workout and tour of the fitness center this morning and it went pretty much as expected: an interview to assess my general level of fitness and to ferret out any potentially dangerous medical problems, then an introduction to the machines.
They're pretty much the same as the ones I've used at other fitness joints over the years, so there were no surprises and no daunting challenges. The pool and adjoining jacuzzi look inviting. The other clients look like ordinary folks off of the street. No buffed-up bodybuilders or gym princesses in $500 Spandex workout suits. Just a bunch of lumpy midwesterners in t-shirts and sweats trying to work off the triple curse of years of sloth and bad diet choices and their inherited DNA.
Yeah. I think I can do this.

Maria and Lauri: The newspaper's Dream Team


Making some last-minute tweaks to a special section on drug abuse, to be published Friday.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

No pain, no gain

It's been so long since I've been what I would consider physically fit, I've almost forgotten what it felt like.
Almost.
Which is not to say that I'm a physical wreck. I'm just suffering the ravages of a couple of decades of too much food and not enough acitivity. I can still walk a couple of miles without getting winded and haul my BMW motorcycle up onto its centerstand with relative ease, but I'm nowhere near as fit as I need/want to be.
There was a time, back around 1980 - Jeez, that's 27 years ago! - that I was in the best shape of my life. I was working in downtown Indianapolis and had a membership in a fitness center a few blocks from the office. I developed a habit of working out five days a week - strength training on Nautilus equipment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and aerobics on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I got good results and felt great. After a few months, I was doing the full weight stack on several of the machines.
Then the owners of the place sold out and transferred my membership to a club on the far side of town, making my lunchtime workouts a thing of the past. I tried to keep up a routine, but it was just too much of a hassle and I finally gave up and went back to beer, pizza and TV.
Over the years, I've made a couple of feints in the direction of getting back into my fitness zone. I joined a couple of fitness centers, but never made it stick. An apartment complex where I lived in the early to mid-1990s had a workout room, but I couldn't get into the habit of using it.
But now that I'm just weeks from becoming eligible for Social Security benefits (I turn 62 on July 14), I realize it's now or never. That's what drove me to drag Maria along on a doctor-supervised weight loss program at the first of the year. I've lost more than 30 pounds since Jan. 1 and Maria is about 25 pounds lighter.
We've been shedding pounds, but it's largely because of the drugs and diet. We've pretty much ignored the exercise part of the equation.
Well, no more.
Maria's newspaper publisher is picking up the enrollment fee for any employee or family member who wants to join a local fitness center and I signed both of us up today. Maria is resisting fiercely, for reasons I can't fathom.
But I'm charging ahead. My first session and orientation with a trainer is at 10 a.m. tomorrow and I am acutely aware that the quality of what's left of my life is at stake.
I'll let you know how it goes.

California dreamin'


Here I am on the Pacific Coast Highway south of Big Sur. I'm ready to go back.

Cruzin'


I was cruising the aisles at the local Staples office supply store last week when I noticed they were blowing out the SanDisk Cruzer® Micro 2GB (Black) for $24.96 - about one-third of its advertised $75 price. I'd been thinking about picking up a thumb drive for some time, but just couldn't get leverage on myself to pay the price most stores were asking.
This puppy comes with a bunch of extra software, like Skype and security stuff, along with a handy lanyard for carrying the Cruzer around your neck.
I've already used it a couple of times to transfer photos from my home computer to the system in Maria's office. The files were too big to e-mail conveniently and it seemed a waste to burn a CD-ROM just for a few photos.

16 summers ago

Me and my '81 BMW R100RS at Devil's Tower in July, 1990. The white bike is Linda Balough's R100CS. We were on a day ride from the 1990 BMW MOA International Rally at Rapid City, S.D.
This is the first photo I've been able to post from my Treo 700p since I bought it last fall. That's because I had been trying to post photos by themselves, rather than as e-mail attachments. I finally took the time to read the Blogger.com posting instructions in detail.
Duh!

Maria at the Bernina


A little quilting therapy before she leaves for work.

Hostage situation

Our garage project is supposed to start next Monday and I just left a voicemail with our construction guy to confirm that we're on track. I also made it clear that I understand he has other jobs ahead of us that may be slowed by the weather and we're prefectly OK with a later start. In fact, later is better for us because it's taking time to clear out the two garages that have to be demolished.
We spent Sunday afternoon ripping most of the old wood deck out behind the house and discovered an open cistern that will have to be filled and/or covered. There is some construction debris, including big jagged shards of broken glass, in the cistern which makes it doubly dangerous. I've got a big sheet of plasterboard over the opening at the moment, so the dogs don't fall in. The garage demolition will include removal of the concrete footprint, so there should be plenty of material to fill the cistern.
The project is being financed with the bulk of the proceeds from the sale of my parents' house up in Delphi last October. We put the money into a nine-month CD on the date of the sale, which means it matures on July 7. The only problem is, the construction company is going to want to be paid in installments, starting in mid-April. So I have a call in to my bank to determine whether it's smarter to take the interest hit from early withdrawal or to take a short-term loan against the CD. Or there may be a third solution that I haven't thought of.
And just to make the process more interesting, I can't find the original paperwork on the CD. The bank assures me that they don't need it because they have all of the records of the transaction, but nevertheless I'm kicking myself for letting it get misplaced.
In the meantime, I have to find a new home for the big old Franklin stove that the previous owner of our house had in her kitchen. It's plumbed to burn natural gas and, if I had my druthers, we'd put it back into the kitchen for added heat on those cold winter mornings. However, Maria has bad bad associations with such stoves from her childhood and doesn't want it.
We had three large pieces of kitchen cabinetry in the garage, left over from the kitchen remodel we did six years ago. We hauled them to the curb several days ahead of the regular Friday trash collection and passersby snarfed them up, just as we expected. I don't know that it will be that easy to dispose of the Franklin stove.
We also have a couple of refrigerators to deal with: one left by the previous owner and the other from Maria's previous home. The first, we'll try to give away. The second has to be stashed somewhere on the property for later installation in the new garage. Our two motorcycles will go down to our neighbor's barn for safekeeping.
Then, in the smaller, crappier garage, we have Maria's dad's roto-tiller which probably needs a major engine clean-out because it hasn't been run since it showed up here about three years ago. And, there's the lawn mower, my dad's big wooden extension ladder and a bundle of shingles left over from the most recent roofing job.
So, you can see why I would welcome a delayed start on the project.
In the meantime, I'm held hostage by the phone as I wait for calls back from the construction guy and the bank.
***********************************
Aha!
There was a third solution. Andrea at Chase Bank suggests a home equity line of credit, under which the interest is tax deductible. She's putting it together now.
And construction guy George says we're on track to begin old garage tear-down next Monday. The permit paperwork will be filed on Friday.
Now I'm free to get on with my day.

On the road


Here's a composite image I created yesterday afternoon with Photomatix, made up of three rapid-fire shots. I was heading home at 2:29 p.m. to let the dogs out.
The great thing about this process is that it uses multiple images in various degrees of exposure. This consists of three images: one properly exposed, one over-exposed by one f-stop and one under-exposed by one f-stop. What you get, then, is image information gathered over a much wider tonal range than would be possible with a single exposure. That makes it possible to get detail in the clouds all the way down to the dashboard. Since it's made up of three separate exposures, it shows the oncoming truck in three positions.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

While walking the dogs


The Art Center up the street.

Subaru in spring


It was my turn to get up with the dogs this morning, so I took the opportunity to shoot some photos of a pre-dawn early spring Indiana morning as seen from the deck behind our house.
I like the cloud details.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Breaking News!!!

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.



By MARYCLAIRE DALE
Associated Press Writer


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - More than a decade after Congress first tried to police the Internet for pornography, a federal judge cast doubt Thursday on whether the government can craft such a law without restricting free speech.

A federal judge in Philadelphia blocked enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act, the second attempt by lawmakers to stop online pornography at the source.

Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. called the 1998 law unconstitutionally vague and said it could have a chilling effect on Web publishers.
"Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," he wrote.

Reed said the law fails to address threats that have emerged since the law was written, including online predators on social-networking sites like News Corp.'s MySpace, because it targets only commercial Web publishers.

"Even defendant's own study shows that all but the worst performing (software) filters are far more effective than COPA would be at protecting children from sexually explicit material on the Web," said Reed, who presided over a month long trial in the fall.

The law has never been enforced. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2004 a temporary injunction blocking the law from taking effect; Reed on Thursday issued a permanent injunction.

The law would have criminalized Web sites that allow children to access material deemed "harmful to minors" by "contemporary community standards." The sites would have been expected to require a credit card number or other proof of age. Penalties include a $50,000 fine and up to six months in prison.

Sexual health sites, the online magazine Salon.com and other Web sites backed by the American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law on grounds it would have a chilling effect on speech.

Joan Walsh, Salon.com's editor in chief, said the law could have allowed any of the 93 U.S. attorneys to prosecute the site over photos of naked prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

"The burden would have been on us to prove that they weren't" harmful to minors, Walsh said.

Daniel Weiss of Focus on the Family Action, a lobbying arm of the conservative Christian group, said it would continue to press Congress for a workable law.

"The judge seems to indicate there's really no way for Congress to pass a good law to protect kids online," Weiss said. "I just think that's not a good response."

To defend the nine-year-old law, government lawyers attacked software filters as burdensome and less effective, even though they have previously defended their use in public schools and libraries. That case was over a 2000 law requiring schools and libraries to use software filters if they receive certain federal funds. The high court upheld that law in 2003.

The plaintiffs expect the Justice Department to appeal. Justice spokesman Charles Miller said the department still was reviewing the decision and has "made no determination as to what the government's next step will be."

"I would hope that Attorney General (Alberto) Gonzales would save the U.S. public's money and not try to further defend what is an unconstitutional statute," said John Morris, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology. "That money could better be used to help educate kids about Internet safety issues."

The plaintiffs argued that filters work best because they let parents set limits based on their own values and a child's age.

Reed concluded that filters have become highly effective and that the government _ if it wants to protect children _ could do more to promote or subsidize them.

The law addresses material accessed by children under 17, but only applies to sites hosted in the United States.

The Web sites that challenged the law said fear of prosecution might lead them to shut down or move their operations offshore, beyond the reach of U.S. law. They also said the Justice Department could do more to enforce obscenity laws already on the books.

Reed noted in his 83-page ruling that, since 2000, the Justice Department has initiated fewer than 20 prosecutions for obscenity that did not also involve other charges such as child pornography or attempts to have sex with minors.

Although the government argued for the use of credit cards as a screening device, Reed said he saw no evidence of any accurate way to verify the age of Internet users. And he agreed that sites that require a credit card to view certain pages would see a sharp drop-off in users.

The 1998 law followed the Communications Decency Act of 1996, Congress' first attempt to regulate online pornography. The Supreme Court in 1997 deemed key portions of that law unconstitutional because it was too vague and trampled on adults' rights.

COPA narrowed the restrictions to commercial Web sites and defined indecency more specifically.

"This is the second time Congress has tried this, and both times the courts have struck it down," said the ACLU's Chris Hansen, a lead attorney on the case. "I don't see how Congress could write a constitutional statute."



As a professional journalist and photographer, I have spent most of my life in an arena where the protection of the First Amendment is an essential element.
And while politically conservative, maybe even reactionary on some topics, I have always favored the broadest possible interpretation of the First Amendment.
I do not believe the government has the right to tell me what I can see, hear or read or, conversely, say, write or present as an image.
If Congress or state legislatures want to protect children, they should pass laws that encourage parents to exercise control over what their kids see and hear. This is a responsibility of parents, not of government.
The wonderful thing about the Internet is that it is wide open to the expression of every conceivable idea and image. And it is ironic that the U.S. Congress is willing to cross the line into the realm of Internet censorship that is already richly populated by totalitarian regimes like China and North Korea.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Not my kids

I'm working at the newspaper office this evening and dinnertime rolls around.
Chris, the assistant sports editor, and Sam, the assistant managing editor, ask Maria and me if we'd like to join them for dinner at the Creekside Inn, a restaurant/bar on the banks of sometimes-scenic Sugar Creek.
Sure, we said.
So we're seated in a booth, Chris and Sam on one side and Maria and me on the other. After dinner, the 20-something waitress strolls over and plunks the bill, in its padded plastic case, down next to me.
I look at it for a moment and then it dawns on me. Chris and Sam are in their early 20s, Maria is 43 and I'm 61. Instead of seeing us as coworkers, she figured we were a family and I, as the dad - or even worse, maybe the grandpa - would pick up the tab.
How amusing.
When she returned, we explained the situation and asked her to re-calculate the bill.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Edwin O. Park

Last night, as I asked Maria to take a sports page proof that I had just edited across the newsroom to the sports editor, I flashed on the old days at The Indianapolis News when we wrote with typewriters and had copy boys to do all the gopher work.
In that bygone era, before college degrees were considered important, being hired as a copy boy at a large newspaper was a first step toward becoming a reporter. When you finished a story, or in the case of a breaking news story, when you finished a page of a story, you yelled, "Copy!" and a copy boy would hustle over to carry your news copy (hence the name) to your editor for his scrutiny. Copy boys also made coffee, distributed newspapers throughout the city room as the various editions came off of the press, and carried stuff back and forth from the newsroom to the Statehouse bureau about four blocks west when the Legislature was in session.
We had a variety of copy boys in those days ranging from a photographer's young son whose chief interest seemed to be getting drunk as often as he could so he could brag about it the next day, to a scrawny little hillbilly with a tough guy surly attitude, to a gay black kid who dressed up in women's clothing and cruised Indiana Avenue on weekends, to Edwin.
Edwin O. Park was at The News when I started on Feb. 6, 1967, and he was there after I quit in October, 2000. At least I think he was still there. I'd been working in a suburban bureau since 1985 and lost track of the folks downtown to a large degree.
Edwin, I was told, was a graduate of Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis who came down with some horrible fever that left him brain damaged with the intellectual capacity of a 10-year-old. We loved Edwin and reveled in his quirks and habits. And we collected "Edwin stories."

His wardrobe was a kaleidoscope of stripes, plaids, polkadots and odd combinations. One day he showed up with a particularly hideous combination of bowling shoes, plaid pants and striped shirt. Copy boy Tom Healy announced Eddie's arrival, saying, "Do not adjust your set!"
Edwin wore short-sleeved shirts with a pocket protector and a half-dozen ballpoint pens,none of which worked. He used a handcart to haul stacks of newspapers around the building for distribution and kept his distribution list in that shirt pocket.
One day when Eugene C. Pulliam, the owner of the paper and an Arizona resident, was in town to visit, Edwin arrived at the elevator at the same time as Gene.
Eddie had his arms full of newspapers and had no idea who Gene was. He glanced at Gene, who was dressed in slacks and a Hawaiian shirt, and told the owner, "Hit three for me, will you buddy?" Gene, being a good sport, pushed the button for the third floor.
Sometime in the early 1980s, Eddie's dad died. On the day of the funeral, Edwin came back to the office after the services, still wearing a suit. A reporter, expecting Edwin to be overwhelmed with sadness, asked him how it went at the funeral.
"I came out pretty good on that deal," Eddie said, brightly. "I got my dad's watch."
Edwin continued to live with his mother, riding a bus downtown from their home on the far northside.
One morning he was called to the phone. Watching him take the call, we could tell it was something serious. After he hung up, someone asked what was the problem. "That was my mom. I forgot to turn her oxygen on last night."
Wendell Trogdon, who was city editor at the time, was solicited by the author of a popular Book of Lists to offer the name of a distinguished journalist to be included in the next edition of the book. When the next edition appeared, there was a paragraph about Edwin O. Park, full of bogus credits, right after the paragraph on TV newswoman Jessica Savitch.
So it was no surprise last weekend when I got an e-mail from fellow Newsie Skip Hess, who had gone to the funeral of former News television critic R.K. Shull. Shull wrote a TV column and also responded to letters from readers in a sidebar called Shull's Mailbag. In characteristic fashion, the subject line of Skip's e-mail was "Shull's Bodybag."
Skip said he and another News alumnus, Gerry LaFollette, had dropped by the nursing home where Edwin now lives to tell him of R.K.'s passing.
Here's the text:
He was playing bingo in the dining room with 10 others scattered about.
"Got five quarters," he said when we walked up.
"G 48," said the caller.
"We stopped to tell you that R.K. Shull died and we are going to his services,"Gerry said.
"We had one die here," Edwin said.
"B 10," said the caller.
"They're dropping like flies, huh, Eddie?" I said.
"Well, see ya later," Eddie said.
Visiting time: 2.20 minutes

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad


My father, who died in November, 1997, would have been 97 years old today.
Here he and I are, all dressed up for church on a Sunday morning in 1950 and standing in the back yard.
He would have been about 40 in this photo, which is to say 20 years younger than I am now.
Not a day goes by that I don't miss him.

More music from Portland


My son Sean did the programming and some of the guitar playing on this amazing EP: Lounge Sessions by Purekane.
Buy it on Amazon.com as a CD or an MP3 download. Now.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Trick of the light



The miraculous illumination of my del Sol in Wendy's parking lot.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

33.5%

Found on Amazon.com:
The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have put together a list of 200 albums that should be in every music collection. As NARM president Jim Donio puts it, they are "albums that have consistently excited record buyers over the years and those that have the potential for continued success based on enduring popularity.... The inevitable debate about the 200 must-own albums will underscore just how much the music and the art form mean to everyone." Take a look at the list below, presented in ranked order, and enjoy videos from a number of artists whose work made the cut. From Sgt. Pepper to We're an American Band: these are their 200 definitive albums of the rock era.

I scanned the list and found I have 67 of the 200 albums listed - most of them on CD, but a few on vinyl up in the attic. And, yes, a lot of the NARM choices are what I would call highly debatable, or to put it more succinctly - crap.

I discovered recently that TEAC and others make turntables that connect to a computer via USB 2.0, making it possible to digitize my old vinyl albums. It would be nice to put a lot of that music that I haven't heard in a decade or more onto my iPod. The TEAC unit is under $100. The biggest barrier to me getting this done is a lack of free time. That's what happens when you retire.

Cool special effects


When I stopped by Fred Ropkey's Armor Museum (www.ropkeyarmormuseum.com) the other day, his right-hand man Skip showed me some photos processed with a nifty program called Photomatix. I downloaded a copy and am very impressed with the creative stuff you can do with it. It's a standalone program, rather than a Photoshop plug-in and it requires at least three bracketed exposures of the same photo.
Fortunately, I can program our D200 and D100s to shoot 3,5,7 or 9 bracketed exposures at high speed automatically, which eliminates the need for a tripod in most situations.
Here's our house and a plaza in a nearby town. (Click on the photos to see them BIG.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Feels like spring

We hauled a bunch of trash out of the garage this afternoon, which necessitated taking both bikes off of the trickle chargers and moving them into the driveway.
To my great relief, both engines fired up immediately. Gotta love fuel stabilizer and trickle chargers.
It's a sunny 59 degrees and the cardinals are singing their sweet spring song.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Details


A few odd personal details:
1. I once had a summer job as a trashman, riding on the back of a packer truck.
2. I am a former member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.
3. My home was the first Transcendental Meditation center in Indianapolis.
4. I went to Washington, D.C. for JFK's funeral.
5. I've flown in an antique Ford Tri-Motor plane.
6. I have a box of more than 100 sheets of Adolf Hitler's personal stationery. (See example above.)
7. I once won a (live) rabbit at a pre-Easter theater matinee.
8. One of the original Mouseketeers is a personal friend.
9. I've ridden a motorcycle at 146 mph.
10. I've shaken hands with Paul Tibbetts, pilot of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb, effectively destroying Hiroshima and winning World War II.
11. I achieved the rank of Flight Commander in Captain Midnight's Secret Squadron.
12. I set the record for SAT scores for my high school.
13. I qualified as a Marksman (got a ribbon for it) with the M1 carbine during my 41-day Air Force career.
14. I used to smoke 3 packs of cigarettes (Viceroy) a day before I quit in 1978.
15. I have a permit to carry a handgun.
16. I was a motorcycle skills test examiner for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
17. I've been in all 48 contiguous states.
18. I have a stainless steel plate and 6 screws in my left thigh.
19. I once wrote the only weekly newspaper column on motorcycling in the United States.
20. I can read upside down and backwards.
21. I've met one of Dr. Mengele's twins.
22. I've written a ton of mostly redundant reviews on Amazon.com.
23. I am allergic to cats.
24. I once dated a woman whose aunt was married to Stan Getz.
25. My mother had a miscarriage before I was born. It was a girl and her name would have been Victoria Elizabeth.
26. My first car was a Fontana gray 1965 Volkswagen beetle. I put 100,000 miles on it back in the days when that was impressive. It rusted to death.
27. My mother kissed the Blarney Stone. Really. I have the certificate to prove it.
28. I was a motorcycle skills test examiner for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles in the mid-1980s.
19. I know how to run a Fairchild Scan-a-graver (an obsolete device that made photo engravings for pre-offset newspapers).
20. I know how to work a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera and process the sheet film.

The end of my '91 K100RS


Here I am, rolling into Red River, N.M., for the BMW Riders Association rally in July, 2002. It was my last transcontinental ride on the bike.


It's time to say goodbye to what's left of my 1991 BMW K100RS.
It's been more than a year since I last Ebayed any parts from this fabulous bike that I had to retire because of a terminally expensive engine problem.
I started disassembling it just before Thanksgiving, 2003, with 160,124 on the odometer and I ended up selling $3,504.92 worth of parts from a bike that my dealer guessed was worth less than $2,000 intact.
Three weeks from tomorrow, a work crew will rip down the main garage where the bikes live as well as another ramshackle garage-like structure. They will clear the way for a glorious heated and air conditioned two-car, two-motorcycle garage with a second-floor office/photography studio that should be completed by the end of April.
So it's time to clear out the garage and that includes the old K-bike. There's still a fair amount of parts left - the engine, frame, fork, front wheel, centerstand/sidestand assembly and driveshaft with rear brake disc.
I called friend Galen Perry, who runs Perry Beemer Exchange near Americus, Ind., the other day and offered the remnants to him for $200 on the condition that he come and get it. He jumped on the deal so fast I wondered how much more he would have paid for a perfectly good K100RS frame and a 16-valve engine. The last time we spoke, he was going to try to get down here tomorrow. Since it only has one wheel, he was thinking about bringing a spare K100 wheel with tire so we could roll it to his trailer rather than giving ourselves hernias and heart attacks by trying to carry it.
It was a great bike - the first one I ever bought new - and it changed my life in ways I'm still discovering.
I like my 2003 K1200GT, but I loved the K100RS.
My neighbor Larry, who rides a BMW R1150RT, has agreed to let me stash my bike and Maria's '94 K75S in his barn while the garage project is underway.

Two steps forward, one step back


I got a reminder today of how fast technology is evolving.
I was killing time in an Office Depot this afternoon while Maria shopped for fabric in the nearby quilt store. I'd worked my way over to the iPod accessories and my gaze fell upon a Logitech Bluetooth wireless headphone set - marked down from $50 to $35.
I've longed for wireless headphones ever since the first time Pete the Aussie jumped up and snagged his paws in my headphone wire, yanking the phones out of my ears and making me fear for the connection point on my 60GB iPod.
It seemed like a good deal to me. I've used Logitech stuff, most recently the multifunction programmable remote control that my son Steve gave me for Christmas, and know they make good stuff.
The package was clearly labeled "Made for iPod," so I assumed it would work fine with mine.
But it couldn't be that simple.
When I got home and sliced open the clear plastic packing with my new Swiss Army Knife that son Sean got me for Christmas, I discovered the Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the top of the iPod had an extra prong. And there is no opening on the top of my iPod to accept such a prong.
I poked the plug into the iPod as far as the prong would allow and found that I can, indeed, hear music through the 'phones, but it isn't a secure fit and the transmitter swivels around through 360 degrees.
WTF?
So I searched Ebay and found the same model offered in the price range I paid with the caveat that it doesn't work with the iPod video or the current version of the Nano.
No such information on the package I bought at Office Depot. Of course not. It was made before the current generation of iPod and Nano were released.
It's a damned shame, because the 'phones can be used to skip forward and back through the tracks, as well as increase and decrease volume. I found the volume control works fine, but the forward and back feature does not. So now I know that the prong was for.
Checking the Logitech website, I see that the model I really want is about $100. And, of course, I'm now hooked on the idea of wireless headphones. Nothing to do but take the obsolete 'phones back to Office Depot for a refund and step up to the correct version.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Steve's Wallpaper


This is my son Steve's Apple laptop. The wallpaper is a photo I shot of his mother around 1968. We lived in an apartment with a patio and sliding glass doors. She was cleaning the glass on a very cold day when I locked her out, then shot this photo.
It's nice to see Steve shares my sense of humor.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A new look

My son in Portland, Ore. mentioned in an e-mail today that he was having trouble reading my blog because it showed up on his screen as black type on a black background.
It didn't come as a huge surprise, since I had the same experience when I tried to view it on the OS X Macs in my wife's newspaper office. I had hoped it was just a peculiarity of the computers, but if other people are experiencing the problem, it's time to fix it.
Besides, I was getting tired of the look of the blog, having made no template changes since I started about three years ago.
Fortunately, the Blogger.com template library is easy to use and it only took a couple of minutes to make the switch to the new look.
And I know it works with OS X Macs because I'm writing this on one.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Who Are You?

I don't think I ever need to go to another concert again. Unless the Who comes to town again.
Pete Townshend is the same age as me - soon to be 62 - and he's clearly lost none of his fire. In fact, his playing is probably the best it's ever been.
Roger Daltrey was a bit hoarse from a cold. At least that's what he said between numbers, but you couldn't tell it from his singing. Zak Starkey has all of the explosiveness of Keith Moon, but without the self-destructive craziness. His father, Ringo Starr, should be very proud. Pino Palidino is a solid journeyman bass player and doesn't try to replicate John Entwhistle's brilliant playing, but Townshend's guitar work more than takes up the slack.
The concert was an auditory and visual experience without peer.
And we'll be able to re-live the experience, thanks to an inspired decision by the Who to make CD/DVD packages of each performance available for purchase. So I went online to www.themusic.com and ordered the March 6 Indianapolis concert, which is supposed to be delivered around April 10. The proceeds go to Who charities, which made me feel even better about the $50 (shipping included) cost.
I still don't understand Pete and Roger's choice of opening bands, unless the aim was to make the crowd even more eager for the Who to take the stage. I used earplugs for the Tragically Hip, because their sound was physically painful. Not so with the Who. They were loud, but without distortion and within comfort levels.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

At the Who concert

Tragically Hip, the opening act, is excruciatingly boring. I would have paid another $20 to NOT hear them.
Gotta wonder what Pete & Roger were thinking.

Vista? Not yet, thanks.

I expect my copy of Microsoft Vista to show up in my mailbox any day now, but it will be weeks, maybe months, before I install it.
I just read a Cnet piece about how the latest iTunes tweak still has problems working with Vista. And the last time I checked with NikonUSA.com, there was no Vista driver for my Nikon ED IV negative scanner. I haven't checked to see if the Palm desktop software for my Treo 700p works with Vista.
But, as far as I'm concerned, compromising my use of my iPod and my negative scanner is a deal-breaker.
I've got too much at stake in terms of productivity to risk system paralysis and serious compatibility issues.
So, take your time with the Vista software, Dell. I'm in no hurry.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I just had salad. Really.


Lauri reacts as Maria (right) glares at her ex at Pizza Hut.
I have yet another reason not to like Pizza Hut.
I've long felt theirs was the closest thing to generic pizza around. They compound the felony by serving only Pepsi products.
But I agreed to go with the flow today when Maria and our friend Lauri decided they and I and coworker Sam should go to Pizza Hut for lunch.
About 10 minutes after we were seated, Maria glanced up and noticed her ex, his wife and her feral children at the salad bar.
They pretended not to notice and we made no effort to greet them.
Unfortunately, Maria isn't at the same place with her ex that I am. I harbor no ill feelings for my ex. I don't seek her out, but I don't go out of my way to avoid her, either. She's re-married to a genuinely nice guy and I'm glad she's in a relationship that makes her happy.
Unfortunately, Maria's divorce wounds are still festering, largely because of the way her ex has turned his back on their kids. So the encounter, call it a sighting, wrecked her mood and soured her stomach.
I haven't blogged for a few weeks - not since the mid-February blizzard - because I came down with a cold and lost all of my motivation.
One area where I have remained motivated is in the weight loss program Maria and I are on. Since Jan. 1, I've lost about 24 pounds and Maria is down nearly 20 pounds. And we're feeling fine with the diet and aren't tempted to dive head-first into a 55-gallon drum of ice cream. It's a doctor-supervise deal and we check in every Wednesday morning for weigh-in, blood pressure and pulse checks. The three components are drugs (phentermine, chromium and vitamin B12), diet and exercise in the form of 10,000 steps/day as measured by a pedometer. Neither of us has done 10k steps in a day since we started the program, but now that the weather is breaking, the dogs and iPods are beckoning and it's beginning to look more convenient.