Category Archives: Paul

Random Old Photos – December 07th

The directory said “2004/Dirty Paul.” I knew exactly what photos they were, even 17+ years later.

The old house wasn’t on a slab, there was a crawlspace under the house. Not much of one, maybe 18 to 24 inches, sometimes less, sometimes a little more. Fortunately, there were not a lot of spider webs or other critter-spoor down there. But it was dusty as hell.

I would end up down there once every couple of years for some plumbing or other problem and it was a pain. Getting in was only accessible by a teeny, tiny portal, maybe 18 by 24 inches, and that was at the bottom of a knee-high wall surrounding the portal and the screen door covering it. Getting in was a real contortionist trick, as was getting out. Immediately inside were some of the larger drain pipes from the two big bathrooms, so it was a really tight squeeze.

Moving around in there was also a royal pain, crawling on my belly, not even able to get up on my knees to crawl. As you can see, I was not in the finest of physical shape at the time (not that I’m any freakin’ Adonis now, but at least now I’m about 40 pounds lighter) so by the time I had been under there a few hours I was sore, sore, sore.

This particular day I believe that I was running coax cable for internet and cable TV. I had drilled holes in the floor in all five of the bedrooms, as well as the kitchen and living room. Then I dragged a drill underneath the house, drilled out a hole though the foundation into the family room/den at the end of the house (where the internet & cable hookup was), and started dragging cables. LOTS of trips from, each room to the portal to the family room. Hours and hours under there.

I got done what I wanted to and we did like having internet and cable in each room on a nice, high-speed, secure, wired connection. This was before wi-fi was real fast or reliable, and in a 3,300 square foot, one-story, ranch-style house, wi-fi always pretty much sucked over about half the house once you got away from that end. (That, of course, got fixed and upgraded a few years later, but at the time it was a big deal.)

Nevertheless, when I finally crawled out, exhausted, one of my kids was there with the camera. (None of those apples fell very far from that tree!)

At least my hair was still dark!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Paul, Photography

No Context For You – December 06th

A simple photo, a couple of slapdash visual effects (isn’t “slapdash” a wonderful word?), and 23:30 desperation searching for inspiration turns into…whatever.

NASA introduced the 2021 astronaut class, otherwise known as “Astronaut Candidates” or ASCANs. Ten fine, wonderful, and über overqualified individuals, some or all of whom will in the next five to ten to twenty years walk on the Moon or even Mars. I watched them with bittersweet joy as they were introduced, excited to see them and truly looking forward to following their progress as they pioneer the road forward off-planet, along with all of the other current astronaut corps which I’ve followed for decades.

Bittersweet because that was the course I had dreamed of since I was about five years old. I’m starting to think that maybe I won’t get my shot at it. I’m not giving up hope, but there comes a point when you realize that you’re down by 10,000 points and there’s only a couple minutes on the clock and it’s 4th and about four miles. The odds are thin and getting thinner. But, as Commander Peter Quincy Taggart was known to say:

OFFICE HOURS: Ask DC Universe Your Questions Every (UPDATED) TUESDAY Night!  - #2883 by DeSade-acolyte - Q&As - DC Community

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Filed under Paul, Photography, Space

Cheap Thrills, Orange Tags

tl;dr – too many cross-country road trips as a kid crammed into the back seat of a station wagon with nine (or more) other people, “license plate” games to keep sane, now have a “January baby” vehicle, so every year I have a little head game going on to see if I can be the very, very first one on the block (or in the city, county, or state) to get the new DMV registration tag for the license plate with the new color for the next year. See? It’s a sure fired sign that I’m “easily amused.”

So here’s this year’s demonstration that I still have a pissed off and bored ten-year-old trapped inside my head.

Welcome to the 2023 Pregame Show!

 

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Filed under Paul, Photography

Attack Of The Pothole From HELL

Five or six weeks ago they were scraping and repaving a half-mile stretch of one of the primary streets here. This was a good thing – that stretch of the road was horribly full of potholes and cracks.

In the process, as they scraped off the old top layers of paving, they left the Pothole From HELL. It was right at the point where the scraped section met the section that had been left alone. I was crawling, no more than 15 or 20 miles an hour, but it was enough to really rattle ye olde front end.

I checked the front end after for any missing pieces or damage, but didn’t see anything, so I kept driving the car. For a couple of weeks, including on the freeway where “traveling with the flow of traffic” or “maximum freeway speed” is a pretty good clip. If you’re from LA, you know what that means… (It’s not 65!)

No worries!

Except that about ten days ago I noticed this:

Well, there’s your problem! That’s a big dent and a big crack. Definitely not safe for “maximum freeway speed!”

So I stopped driving the vehicle, ordered a replacement wheel, and today finally got in to the shop to have it replaced. So the guy pulls the tire off and literally gasped in shock and surprise.

Well, THERE’S your problem! It seems that in terms of the threats of a tire blowing out and sending me spinning and flipping and burning across five lanes of traffic at “Maximum Freaking Freeway Speed,” the cracked and dented wheel wasn’t the top threat at all!

Good to know…

So in addition to replacing that dented rim, I also got to pay for a new set of four Pirelli high performance tires.

But I’m not dead! Some days it’s better to be lucky than good, I guess.

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Filed under Paul, Photography

Gobsmacked Today

I’m a little tired and fried tonight (been an odd weekend for lack of a better term) so I’ll share one mind-blowing factoid that I learned this weekend. I even double checked to make sure it wasn’t a silly meme thing designed to see how many folks would fall for it. Ready?

Historically and chronologically, Cleopatra lived closer to today than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Wow!

I know that in a very general sense, I figured they were sort of concurrent. At least, within a few hundred, maybe a thousand years. That’s a pretty broad range. And I’m handicapped by having an American education.

But Cleopatra lived from 69 BCE to 30 BCE, roughly 2,180 years ago (to her birth). Where the Great Pyramid of Giza was started around 2,550 BCE, and finished about 2,500 BCE.

Gobsmacked!

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Filed under Curiosities, Paul

New Camera

I got a new camera yesterday and got it set up. I’ve been taking some test pictures to start.

This camera has been talked about a lot recently as folks anticipated its availability – they weren’t kidding! I just saw these images from the full-sized files on my desktop monitors. STUNNING!

These were all taken with just the ambient light from inside the houses and a couple of street lights. The street light in our front yard that’s been the bane of my existence (when I’ve been taking pictures of ISS passes) is out. It’s dark out there.

Poking through the clouds up there is Jupiter. Mind you, I haven’t done anything yet to learn about all of the features and settings on this camera. If you think these are cool, wait until I actually learn how to use it! All I did for these was push the button and see what happens. I didn’t even use a tripod, so the fact that these aren’t blurry or jiggly is amazing to me.

Again, Jupiter’s the bright one, Saturn is the one closest to the right edge, and if you blow this up to full sized you’ll see all kinds of stars it captured. And all I did was hold it while standing in my back yard and push the button.

What’s even MORE amazing about this camera is that it’s got two more lenses. These were taken with the regular lens, but there’s also a telephoto and a wide angle lens built in. Fun times ahead playing with those!

Oh, yeah, and this camera also has a small supercomputer built in, as well as wi-fi, bluetooth, it shows me TV, movies, streaming video, has a whole slew of business apps, GPS and maps, connects to the internet, can keep a huge music library as well as hundreds if not thousands of books, health apps, and on and on and on.

Yeah, I got an iPhone Pro Max.

Cool!!

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Filed under Astronomy, Computers, Paul, Photography

Until Six Months After I’m Dead

How do I get my gut to “understand” what my head knows, that I need a break and some actual relaxing and down time?

You’ve all been harangued for a couple months about my schedule and workload and deadlines. I’m sure you’re as tired of it as I am, and I’m freakin’ exhausted.

We’ve now reached a short time when there aren’t any “FULL SPEED AHEAD, ALL HANDS ON DECK!” deadlines in the immediate future. Just the usual grind on about four different fronts, including work, the CAF hangar, home, and so on. Yet even when I have a day like today where I got rid of the “required” and “urgent” tasks for the weekend by 14:00 or so, I just had a pain in the ass time getting my gut to let me relax.

I need to be working on this, or that, or maybe I should try to get ahead on this other thing! And then there are all of those OTHER THINGS that I haven’t even considered working on for so long and they’re so far onto the back burner that you need Hubble to see them – maybe I can do some of those today!

What’s up with that? What part of my upbringing makes it so hard to let go, relax, and not feel guilty about it?

AND HOW DO I STOP USING ALL CAPS AND BOLD AND ITALICS SO MUCH?

Yeah, let’s get to the important questions!

Where’s an Ambien or Valium when you really need one?

Humor. Right. That’s not going to happen, nor are the 100% legal alternatives. I blame the Midwestern conservative upbringing in the 60’s where we saw “Reefer Madness” as a propaganda weapon of terror on a regular basis.

I hope whoever and wherever you are, you can get your brain to cut you some slack and let you just breathe a bit.

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Filed under Health, Paul

My October 2021 Wish List

And so we’re officially 3/4 of the way through 2021. I will say that, at least for me, it’s better than 2020, but that’s relative, not absolute. It hasn’t been a great year so far, or even a good one. But it’s slightly less horrible than 2020, and the four years of horror that preceded.

Sure, The Former Guy is gone. At least, gone-ish. We still have to deal with all of the monsters, fascists, and subhuman slime that are today’s GOP in the Senate, House, Supreme Court, a thousand lower courts, and so on. And TFG is still spewing BS on a regular basis. But at least he doesn’t have his finger on the nuclear missile button.

And I do have a great job now with people I really like working with, which was not always the case four or five years ago. So I’ve got that.

And while we’re still eyeballs deep in COVID and the unspeakably insane, evil, and psychotic anti-vaxx crowd, so far all of us in the family are in good shape.

But again, that’s all a case of, “Cool! We personally have only a 72% suckage rating, while last year it was 82% and for many folks even now it’s in the 98%+ sucakage range!” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

So I have a wish list for October. I’m not going to wish for the statistically ludicrous (yes, winning the Lottery is always a given, I would love a nine-figure bank account, thanks!) or any fantasy-based  ridiculousness (i.e., having that whole GOP crowd vanishing off the face of the Earth and being transported physically to the deepest depths of Hell by an Act of God) but I do have a few changes, simple and not-so-simple, that I wouldn’t mind seeing.

In no particular order:

  1. Can the Chiefs pull their collective heads out of their collective asses and start playing like a team that’s been in the last two Super Bowls and would like to be there again this year?
  2. Along another sports line, while the Angels have again broken my heart by playing so below their expectations, can the Kings, just starting the 2021-22 NHL season, return to their Stanley Cup form and bring joy to my soul?
  3. Can I never again see one of these spam ads online? I’ve lost track of how many HUNDREDS of them I’ve seen (and deleted and blocked and muted and cursed to Hell) over the past two months or so. It’s always the exact same video and always the exact same text, even though the “sponsoring” account is always different. “blumbergfamilydentalcare” is selling these kinetic art pieces instead of, you know, doing family dental care? (Sorry, might be some funky HTML formatting there)
  4. Can we get a ton of “back burner” items taken care of at work (which got pushed there after two months of “OH GOD, we’re all gonna die!” priority items) and also not have any more of the latter pushing them back onto the back burner? I’ve got a feeling the year-end is going to get hairy, and it would be nice to have a basic level of accomplishment and a clean slate going into that.
  5. Ditto for the CAF hangar work
  6. Can I please get this string of minor, non life threatening, annoying as hell medical and dental things to just stop and leave me alone? This “growing old” thing sucks and I would like to talk to a manager.
  7. Can the juncos return soon? Instead of Solo Junco I’ve now seen two this week, but I miss having a couple dozen every day, fighting the finches over the bird seed.
  8. May I please get a little bit of time every now and then (maybe even every day?) to just sit and read a bit?

I’m thinking if the Universe is in a good mood, I might get at least bits and pieces of four of the eight wishes. We’ll see. (And I’ll take that Lottery thing as a bonus – I’ve earned it.)

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Filed under Health, KC Chiefs, LA Kings, Paul, Politics

As The Grateful Dead Said…

“What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Indeed.

Part of last night’s last minute primal scream was in fact caused directly the the fact that I deliberately set aside a number of tasks that really, really needed to be done no desperately I needed a short break so that I could, in fact, take a short break. The first episode of “Foundation” was streaming on Amazon+ (I enjoyed it, wasn’t absolutely 100% gobsmacked by it as I was hoping, but I’ll be watching more), followed by catching up on the last three or four episodes of “Ted Lasso” (a show that I have grown to truly love dearly).

Friday nights are going to be certifiably odd for the next two weeks as the two continue to get watched back-to-back. I’m not sure it matters which I watch first and which second.

Given the incredible latest episode of “Ted Lasso” I find it beyond sheer coincidence that this morning I heard a discussion about this breaking story out of England.

I love the bizarre, the whimsical, the just old fashioned odd, and I also love the Smiths and Morrisey. (Probably because their songs are bizarre, whimsical, and odd, no matter how old or how fashioned.)

But seriously – Rick Astley doing a tour where he just does covers of Smiths songs?

Well done, September 25th! Well done!!

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Filed under Music, Paul

Define ‘Deadline’

As I may have blathered on and on about for the past several weeks, it’s been one of “those” times when I’ve been up to my eyebrows in 24/7/365 (or is it “25/8/366” for these?) deadlines on several fronts. Primarily at work and then at the CAF SoCal hangar and from there all of the other little daily deadlines.

Tonight I finished the fifth and (for now) final of the “super gigantic mega oh God we’re all gonna die!” deadlines. I made them all, but it got me thinking about how some folks need to be more explicit about the exact details of the deadline. You know, for people like me!

One of them at work was quite clear – we have a 17:00 meeting on this day with a number of VIPs and it would be “very bad” if we didn’t have that stack of documents ready.

No sweat! After weeks of work, I printed out the final versions for me and emailed them to others on team a full eight minutes before the meeting started. There may have been some hysterical laughter released at the absurdity of it all.

At the other end of the spectrum, the CAF project had to be done “by end of day 9/20/21.”

There’s a fair amount of wiggle room there in my universe. Business day? Or am I still good at 23:59:55? Pacific time zone or Central? That’s important, gives me a whole three more hours!

That got done tonight at 22:20 PDT, so by my definition, I made it by a full 1:40! If that doesn’t fit in their timetable and they meant 17:00 CDT, well, whose fault is that, huh?

Hopefully I’ll finally sleep well tonight. Mañana, y’all!

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul