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ARCHIVES: May 9-16, 2003


May 16, 2003 - Friday

Looking Like an Idiot in Front of the Neighbors

They are mostly nice neighbors with an affectionate German shepherd and malamute that we love. Tonight they are standing around their open garage, working with their cars or whatever else they do in front of an open garage and drinking. I left my sunglasses in the other car and started to go outside to get them before I forgot again. I also wanted to check the moon to see if it was obscured by clouds so I could try another photo.


When I opened the door, the neighbors and their friends all looked up at me. They used to never pay any attention to me normally - I've never really tried to make friends with them so I did not know them well enough to laugh it off. I got an attack of self-consciousness and pretended to look at the sky to check for rain, then darted back into the house. We were too far apart to shout hello and I was wearing my nightgown - it was all so awkward. 


I'll get the glasses and maybe photos in the morning. Mornings in this neighborhood are mine! Nobody is standing around then. I take morning walks here and only the dogs notice.


She Graduated!

Last night in a hot and stuffy gymnasium at the Calhoun College Campus, my daughter graduated! I feel like we parents were graduating from parenthood. Now she has the skills and a job so she can make it in the world herself. I was so proud. I've been feeling great all day. Instead of e-mailing photos to everyone, I threw them up on a temporary website along with an mpg movie clip as she walked up to get the diploma. If you want to see the photos, drop me a note.


I need to get an mpg editor. The clip could have been cropped better. I got the full Quicktime version before finding out that it doesn't handle mpg files very well. Blast! (Quicktime can play the files, but when it converts them to another format, it drops the sound.)


Lunar Eclipse Photo

Afterwards, she took off with friends and we were too excited to sleep. It was just as well since we got to see the lunar eclipse. I ran outside in my nightgown and took many photos. My older digital camera did a better job of this than the new one, probably because I have not figured out everything about the new one, yet.


I did not have a tripod, so I sat down on the driveway, then balanced the camera on all kinds of body parts and took pictures at many different angles. I never got a real perfect photo (just could not hold it still enough), but I like this one okay. It was taken with a Sony Mavica FD-88 with the digital zoom set to 16x. It does only 1.3 megapixels and the zoom was only digital, so I am proud of what little detail it did get. This was was one of the best quality cameras at the time it came out in stores, though.


(Click to enlarge.)



I am planning to photograph the nearly full moon tonight, armed with a decent tripod -- if it will stop raining and clear up. Argh! The last thing we need right now is rain.


May 15, 2003 - Thursday

Send a Free Text Message to a Cell Phone

Want to drive someone crazy? Here's a website where you can send free text messages to someone with a cell phone. It's useful, too. I've sent half a dozen to my daughter already, not to mention two of my sisters. Ha ha!




Bloggers - So Many, So Little Time

Looking at MedicMom's list of other bloggers, and being new to blogging, I was impressed with the bloggers out here -- laughing, griping, sharing news, tips, dreams, etc. These folks are genuinely interesting. I feel inferior and I am pretty conceited as it is (so don't feel sorry for me - I don't often feel inferior to anything). Oh well, be forewarned that mine is a G-rated blog and I have to strain to say something witty. The strongest word I will use is probably "heck," but that's how I am in real life. You can recommend my site to your children. (Being in charge of the children's group at church, this might be for the best.) Anyway, if you want a good list of other blogging sites, check her page.


H-m-m-m, what makes people blog? Conceit? Lots of spare time? The urge to write? To show off photos? The compulsion to make a website and not having any better content to throw on it? The desire to keep in touch with a kazillion friends and relatives? (I have 6 brothers and sisters and my mother has 6 brothers and sisters. Add in my dad's and husband's side of the family with their children and grandchildren, distant cousins found through my genealogy traces and half the state of Utah due to my polygamous Mormon ancestors and the number of relatives out there is staggering.)


One site about blogging said that blogging was once unique and a blog drew many visitors, but now you are mostly speaking to empty space. I disagree. You are speaking to friends and relatives, at least, and sometimes to other bloggers. If nothing else, I find it a good way to remember things for myself.


Yesterday, a friend I hadn't talked to in a while asked how I was doing. I gave her my business card, wrote my blog address on the back and said that my site would tell her all about how I was doing (probably more than she wanted to know - ha ha).


Free Business Cards

Here's a link to some pretty nice business cards made up for almost free. I have already gotten 2 sets and plan to get a 3rd set -- all for different reasons to hand out. Some have more information than others like a home address and others just have web and e-mail addresses - I handed one out to a Greyhound bus driver once after a nice chat on a road trip about my genealogy job. These are good and best of all, free. You pay a small amount, something like $5, for shipping and there are more choices and options for another fee. They look better than my home-printed ones. Here's the link:


VistaPrint.com - Free Personal Contact Cards


Lunar Eclipse Tonight

From our local newsgroup:


Penumbral eclipse begins:  8:05pm CDT
Partial eclipse begins:  9:03pm CDT
Total eclipse begins:  10:14pm CDT
Mideclipse:  10:40pm CDT
Total eclipse ends:  11:06pm CDT
Partial eclipse ends:  12:17am CDT
Penumbral eclipse ends:  1:15am CDT


According to the UA News, the moon could appear in a deep orange or reddish color. Just how dark and what color the moon appears will depend on where clouds and volcanic ash happen to be in our atmosphere at the time.


Has anyone out there photographed the moon with an ordinary digital camera? I have a good zoom where I can almost fill the picture, but I can't get surface details very well.


Photo Resizer Utility

The cat photos below were changed to make them load faster on websites. Often, a photo can be reduced in memory with no visible change in quality ("visible" as in visible on a website, not as in printed). Sometimes, though, the viewing quality is affected. (Default settings can be changed to any quality and photo size). Thanks to C.M. for letting me know about this free web utility. It gets much use.


PhotoResizer at ShowYourPhotos.com


College Graduation

My daughter is graduating from college. She will get her degree in nursing and become an RN. She already has a job lined up. My gratitude goes first to her for working so hard, then to her teachers, friends, family and everyone who encouraged her.


I was telling my friends this means I have graduated from motherhood - I am finished. I gave birth and together with her father, we raised a child successfully and can now sit back, knowing that we are done with parenting.


The room was silent for a moment -- then everyone broke up laughing at the same time. Ha! I was speaking to several grandparents - I knew that would strike them as ridiculous. Of course, parenthood is never over (not to mention grandparenthood someday), but there's a darn good feeling of satisfaction in seeing your child work hard and achieve an education and career - darn good!


May 14, 2003 - Wednesday

MedicMom's Flood Photos

This site was recommend in the comments --> MedicMom.com - Photos of the Dams & More. It's a view of the dam during the floods. Things got ugly out there.


Cats on the Bed

Photos taken in natural light versus flash  (Sony Cybershot DSC F717 - picture shrunk and quality reduced for faster viewing). The one below was taken in natural light.


Evil, Satanic Cats on the Bed

Using the flash ... a real difference in the  shadows, colors and tone.


May 13, 2003 - Tuesday

Which X-Men character are you most like?

This is funny. I stole the link to this quiz from another Alabama blogger, Tourettes for Beginners. Thanks!


Which X-Men character are you most like? (From Quizilla.com)


My Results:

You are Beast! You are brilliant and extremely clever. You can handle almost any problem swiftly and efficiently. You are devoted to philosophy and are always up for a good discussion. Sometimes, though, your anger gets the best of you and you upset those whom you care about.

(Darn! I was hoping to resemble Storm. My daughter took the test and SHE got to be Storm!)


Flood Photo Links Posted

Several people have been coming here to look at the flood photos, so I posted some links at the top of the home page and will keep them there for a while. For the sake of the archives, here are the same links repeated:

Open the Flood Gates

The creek dropped about 2 feet in the last 24 hours (under the Bailey Cove/Green Cove Bridge). TVA opened the flood gates for about 6 hours, G. told me, and it caused the large drop in a short time. It still stinks out there. This is a public city park. Someone needs to come and remove the sewage which washed up across the trail.


I've seen several newts crossing the Aldridge Creek Greenway -- never saw them before the flood. G. had to kill a water moccasin out there. Yesterday, I spotted a beaver -- their home was well-covered by the flood, but it looks like they've adapted.


My sister, D., tried the Oreo X-Mint and said it did not live up the her expectations. She likes stronger mint flavors -- to each their own, I guess.


Google News

Google is considering a separate blog search engine. That makes sense. Someone who does a search on a certain topic may get frustrated with the number of hits that go to a blog when they want something more "official." On the other hand, sometimes you JUST want a blog so you can get "everyday opinions" on the topic.


May 12, 2003 - Monday

Creek is Down

At last, the trail under the Hobbs Bridge is no longer flooded. Yesterday when the water was higher, I saw children swimming in the creek ... might as well take advantage of it. The water under Bailey Cove/Green Cove is still very high. Much debris and trash washed up there. It stinks. I would not recommend swimming at that spot.


Mother's Day - 2003

"Each one of us has a unique melody that springs from the soul." In church, they gave us bookmarks with different sayings and cookies (which, rumor has it, the bishop's wife made herself - thanks, Marie!). I love the saying on my bookmark.

Our children sang a couple of songs in church. They were so sweet. Here's a 3- second sound clip from one song about mothers:


Primary Children Sing


At our family gathering, we had a great time. Everyone brought a dish. I never had apple slaw or tuna cream cheese deviled eggs before yesterday - but we had good old favorite dishes, too: corn on the cob, green bean casserole, honey-baked ham, Alabama Bread Company bread, tossed salad, cake and extra creamy vanilla ice cream - yum! It was a real family get-together. We saw the younger children practice their dance routines, the baby sing a song, admired my sister's flower garden, picked strawberries, petted her dog and sat out on the back porch enjoying the cool breeze, shady lawn and conversation. Does life get any better than this?


Lady Bug on Snow Pea Blossom

Took this photo yesterday. (Click on image to see larger picture.)



May 11, 2003 - Sunday

The Straight Dope

...Answers to all questions. My husband loves this site. He says the message boards are hilarious. I like it, too. It's where I found out about earthworms and why they crawl out of the ground.



Aldridge Creek is Full (Again)

An inch of rain fell this morning and the creek is almost full again. Unlike the raging floods on Tuesday, the water in the creek is hardly moving right now. With the Tennessee River backed up, the water has nowhere to drain. According to the radar maps, maybe the rain will be stopping, thank goodness. Our creek does not need to become a lake. Anyone who has been through the previous flood in 1999 (as we were) gets an itch to take everyone off the floor when it rains.


Wal-Mart and Digital Photos

Maybe all of you know this, but I am still in the throes of a fresh discovery. Wal-Mart has a website where anyone's digital photos can be uploaded. They will print a 4 x 6 for 26 cents and ship them to your home or, for free, send them to the closest Wal-Mart for pickup. The genealogist in me is thrilled to learn that they use Fuji Crystal Archive paper. I did a little research on this paper. It will hold a color print for 70 to 80 years before the print fades compared to regularly developed color pictures that only last 25 to 50 years before seriously fading. I know a lot depends on the printer and ink, as well, but it looks like printed digital photos are going to outlast regular ones.


It's important to print photos. Keeping them on a CD is good, too, but CD formats will change, CD owners die or computers break down and a print will always be there for anyone to see - no equipment required. If you really value a picture and want future generations to see it, print it in on quality paper with quality ink as well as keep it on CD.


Since they use a 4 x6 or 5 x 7 perspective, it's useful to crop and edit pictures to that ratio before uploading or they will crop them. They do a decent job of cropping so its no big deal if this sounds too complicated.


When I first bought a digital camera years ago, it was an oddity and drew attention. The last time I walked into Wal-Mart to pick up my pictures they asked, "Did you have regular prints or 1-hour processing?" ...Turns out that digital prints are the "regular" ones these days.


Same with the Internet. I was online in the early 80's. Most folks never knew what the Internet or a chat room was. My husband joined and later I joined a computer club to use their BBS (only one person could log on at a time and leave messages - ha ha). I played Advent (aka Zork) on the college mainframe. We owned a Sinclair ZX81 computer even before it evolved into the Timex/Sinclair. I feel old.


Rain and Mother's Day

It's thundering and raining outside. Since the creek is backed up, there's no place for the water to go. We hope the rain stops soon. My husband almost lost the snow peas due to excessive rain last week (the corn loved it, though). Planting crops here in the spring is tricky. Certain plants need the cool weather. If it is too cool, they freeze and if it gets too hot too soon, they don't produce - always a gamble. This spring, we have snow peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes and potatoes. Most of our garden is potatoes. They store longer than anything else and, well, I married a man from Idaho. Potatoes are an entire food group alone.


We have big plans for Mother's Day. Everyone is meeting for dinner. We are serving a baked ham and the best bread on earth (Alabama Bread Company aka Great Harvest). My sisters and brothers are bringing food, too. Mom is bringing dessert. (We did not intend for her to cook, but she WANTED to cook something. Nobody is complaining.)



May 10, 2003 - Saturday

Oreo X-Mint at Baskin-Robbins & China Wok

Good. VERY good. Dark chocolate ice cream with Oreo cookies and ribbons of blue mint.


China Wok's buffet has a small selection, although it serves the freshest, best-tasting oriental buffet in town. The best egg drop soup is here. I hope the rest of you Moms have a great day. (I was gifted with my Mother's Day in advance since we are serving a meal to my own mom tomorrow.)


Listen to the Tennessee River

Just in case you wonder what the Tennessee River sounds like at the Chicamauga Lock and Dam:


Listen to the Tennessee River (Not a sound you want to hear in your backyard, Richard says.)


The site includes other information and links. Being the great geography experts that we are, my husband and I could not agree which direction the river flowed past Huntsville. I grew up here and I was suddenly unsure.  I am ashamed. We discovered that it flows from Chattanooga to Guntersville to Huntsville to Decatur and empties into the Ohio River. So, when they say Guntersville is opening the dams, can we expect a surge?


Earthworms can Swim

Aldridge Creek is still swollen. The waters are receding slowly. I hope they go down before we get any more heavy rains. The Bailey Cove/Green Cove bridge drew all kinds of visitors yesterday -- I saw mothers with strollers and other folks out taking photos. You have to make an effort to walk here since there's no easy place to park.


Current Tennessee River information quoted from the Weather Channel this morning:





Down along the trail, earthworms were swimming across one section of the greenway -- where the water was just an inch or two deep. They were good swimmers -- scrunching up and straightening out to move in the water fairly quickly (for an earthworm, that is). They appeared to have no trouble breathing under the water and were not trying to get out. So, why do earthworms come out of the ground in the first place? Here's the best answer I could find:


Why do worms crawl on the sidewalk after it rains? (The Straight Dope)


While watching the worms, I realized the water had been standing around here for 3 days, perfect mosquito breeding grounds. I got itchier the more I thought about it - time to  stock up on insect repellent.


May 9, 2003 - Friday

Funny Hard Drive Sound - We know what it is

The sound got so much louder that we had to take the computer apart. It was the fan over the logic chip. We gave it a good dusting, it helped but the fan is still a bit noisy... guess some fans just get loud after time. Whew!


Funny Hard Drive Sound - The Debate Continues

We are going crazy. One minute we think its the fan. Another minute, it could be the hard drive. The debate is over whether this is a problem or not. The sound keeps changing in volume like it could crash at any moment - but it does not change in time with the hard drive writing light. I tried having the hard drive turnoff after 3 minutes to see if the sound stops, but some background utility keeps the hard drive going. (Is there a command in Windows 2000 that will turn off a hard drive instantly?) A fan might simply get louder over time. If this is the fan over the CPU, damage would result if the fan goes out.


We have almost decided to take apart the computer and see for ourselves, not an easy decision to make because this is not a simple, clean process and we want to be sure there's a problem before we start. It could be one of those problems that disappears the minute you try to examine it more closely, "But, Mr. Car Mechanic, the noise was there yesterday!"


I have a kazillion tangled cords in the back, in a small enough space that we can't take the cover off while it sits. (Air flows around it, but you can't just take it apart in place.) Oh heck, maybe its only a fan getting older and there's no need to do all of this (unless I can get an additional hard drive from the whole experience. H-m-m-m, maybe I can wheedle a new one out of my husband).


Almost Touching the Bailey Cove/Green Cove Bridge

I drove by the bridge. A city guy was parked in the middle lane, taking pictures. The water looked like it was just a foot or two under the bridge itself. A friend called and asked how we were doing. He'd heard that the creek was flooding again. So far, the creek is handling the backup just fine. It was engineered to handle backflow. No homes look threatened -- just the walking trail was gone in places. C.K. told me the river had crested already and I trust that he was right. I could not find anything on the Internet that reported this -- if anyone knows, please drop me a note.


After that, I ran errands on the other end of town. I stopped by Best Buy. I did not buy anything but I lusted after a lot of stuff including that large flat screen HD Plasma TV going for $6,000, video cameras, camera equipment, software -- you name it. <sigh>


Rising Even More

The Tennessee River crested this morning, according to C.K. Aldridge Creek was more flooded than I had ever seen it. I brought my trusty pencam along on the walk this morning. The first two pictures were taken under Hobbs Road. The last two pictures were taken about 1/3 mile north of the Bailey Cove/Green Cove bridge. Runners had to turn around or take up swimming. (Thanks T.M., for letting me snap your photo.)


The pencam is not nearly as good as my other camera, but it does the job.


Click on any image to enlarge.


My husband drove by the bridge this afternoon and was shocked to see how deep it was. He wonders where the water will go when it rains this Sunday.


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