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User Journal

Journal Journal: Happy Birthday, Ralph. Where ever you are 1

I'll bet most people had a close friend in college like my friend Ralph. I met him when in a sophmore EE class. A shy, nerdy guy who kept to himself. Until I wedged myself into his life.

We became close friends. He owned a Hobie Cat and I became a his regular crew. We scrappled for the same girls.

Every semester I took a fun class to get out of the engineering building. I saw a different side of Ralph when, for "fun class", I selected piano. I found out that, in high school, he was a concert pianist. He spoke about his big recital.

Knowing nothing about piano, I asked "What did you play? The Beatles" I never saw him laugh so hard. It was years later that he demonstrated for me his talent at playing Chopin, Mozart, and those other guys.

I lost track of Ralph after graduation. We both went our separate ways. Tonight I went to a Music presentation at the MUN Music School in St Johns, Newfoundland.

A University presentation entitled "Get Back: A tribute to the Beatles and other 60s Music."

I thought my Beatles comment was not so much from left field. Then I remembered, Ralph's birthday is July 3rd.

Happy birthday Ralph, where every you are.

My Photos of the Beatles Tribute are here

Oh, and I used Beatles music for a Florida Surfer grom Sam Duggan who was all "yellowed out" in this video on youtube here.

Christmas Cheer

Journal Journal: My Video Christmas Card

I had to opportunity to work with two young surfers (waver riders) Tuesday night doing a commentary voice over for a contest video that I shot last week.

They helped me make a Christmas video. I put in on YouTube and then put a link on a surfer blog called I am active on that blog these days. Kelly Slater's mom replied and said she was sending the link to Kelly. Me and the groms are stoked!

And now, my slashdot bretheren you can enjoy it too. YouTube Right Coast Christmas.

Filmed at Cape Surf in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Enjoy.

User Journal

Journal Journal: That Kat Jack 1

Yahoo and CNN had stories about a stray cat names Oscar that was adopted by employees of a Healthcare Center. I don't see it on CNN anymore but Yahoo is here. Seems that the cat has become the grim reaper and camps out in terminally ill patients rooms hours prior to their passing.

I think Dr. Jack K did the same thing (camped out in peoples room just before they died). He did hard time for it too.

It will give me pause (paws) the next time a cat jumps into my lap.

This is a new wrinkle (pun intended) to the old wives tale about of cats stealing baby's breath.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Microsoft Windows Movie Maker..It sucks. 1

I am attempting to transition my still photography into video. Using a previously unused dual boot, I have reluctantly booted WinXP to use MS Win Movie Maker. It has crashed numerous times.

Tell me: Am I expecting too much of Maker to handle 300 jpegs? I'm trying to load abot 1500 and put a score and titles. But MSWMM continues to barf on just jpegs.

I have published several samples of my vids using stills on YouTube. Here's a link UTube index.

My latest work is to put the photos of the Grom King of the Peak into a YouTube video. But MSWMM continues to die on me.

If you were making a movie from Jpegs, and didnt have a Mac and iMovie, what would you use? Is there a good OSS product?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Watch Me

Today I will be shopping for a new wrist watch. My old one, a Casio DB37H, still keeps time but lost it's most important function. Friends called it the chili watch. Finding one with the options of the DB37H is proving to be difficult. Like laptops, VCRs, and cameras the options change based on current technology. The DB37h had a database for phones numbers, a stop watch, a count down watch, one button daylight saving mode, and five alarms. (That's how it got called chili).

My watch kept me prompt despite my chronic history of tardiness. I always set it 10 minutes fast. And the alarms were set at 5 minute intervals 6:05, 6:10, 6:15, 6:20 and one for 6:45 (Too late to shower, get you ass moving!)

I was in my hotel room Thursday night, on a business trip. I awoke around 2am an noticed a light on the bed stand. I thought it was from a street light shining through the curtain. It wasn't. It the light from my watch. It was glowing and the LED display was blank. No buttons worked. I had changed the battery about 6 months ago so I didn't think it was the battery. I thought a cold boot may put make it operational, but I didn't have the a jeweler's screwdriver to open it.

I mentioned it in passing at the morning customer briefing and someone produced a set of precision screwdrivers. I opened it and removed the battery. After restarting, the light stayed off and the LED display came alive. I closed it up, then and discovered a small spring had dropped out. It was the size of a broken tip of a .07 mechanical lead pencil.

I reopened the watch and couldn't find a place for it. I decided to wrap it up in a piece of paper. It fell out and either went into a SUN keyboard or onto the computer floor. It was lost.

I didn't care I had a functional watch again. I set the time (10 minutes fast) and life continued.

That evening I set five alarms. Then I noticed something weird. The watch used to beep when any of the buttons was depressed. Now, only silence. Then it hit me. If it didn't beep for buttons it may not beep-beep for alarms. I test the count down time at 1 minute. My watch was mute.

Yesterday I was watch shopping in Walmart. Watch options now include things like a full numeric keypad, IR TV remote control, and GPS. None had as many as 3 alarms. None could be called chili. My search continues.

User Journal

Journal Journal: ...LOST Easter Weekend at the Pier

While taking photos last weekend at the Easter Surf Festival at the Cocoa Beach Pier I conversed with another photographer ( Joe) who had a brand new camera.

Joe was with the ...LOST entourage from California and was trying to get a photo of every contestant in the heats they sponsored. ...LOST sponsored two of the contests ($5000 Junior Pro and the LOST Boys Amateur competition).

Hmmm, that's what I do for my website.

To make a long story short I provided him with contest photos in exchange for LOST product and attribution for any photos used on the web.

I used my LinuxCertified laptop in my Jeep in the parking lot to download my photos at the end of each day and burn CDROMs (6GB over the 3 days).

Photos used by LOST appear here with the attribution.

Joe did a good job in Photoshop and captioned the photos. He only posted photos of the Lost Junior Pro heats. You have to go to my website for the other heats. Use one of the links under my photos. BTW note that the photo of the guy with the thong swim suit is not one of mine.

So what did you do Easter weekend?


Journal Journal: Challenger Conspiracies - Have you heard them all?

In 1986, I was working about 45 miles south of Cape Canaveral. I am not a conspiracy theorist but there are certain things that raise the eyebrow and to this day do not really have answers, nor do they appear in any conspiracy theories. Why?

1. How did the escape door get fixed so quickly from the scrubbed launch on January 27?
2. Why did NASA launch in sub freezing weather?
3. Why was film confiscated from guests viewing on NASA property?
4. Why did it take so long to recover the bodies?
5. Why do conspiracy theorists never ask these questions?

I'll have to set the scene: In January 1986, The public was bored with space travel. NASA Select was not carried by most cable companies, there was one cable news channel, and the Internet did not exist, people listed to music on vinyl albums and cassette tapes, and cameras used film. Remember these points as you read on.

On January 27, 1986, Challenger stood poised on the launch pad ready for launch. Do you school kids of '86 remember that? After the crew entered the shuttle the door was secured using the handle which resembles large wheel similar ones on a bank vault door.

Then the nightmare started. The handle, which had to be removed prior to launch could not be removed. The bolt securing the handle was corroded and was stripped in place. NASA really wanted to launch. They still had several hours left in the window. They decided to bore it out with a drill.

Since launch was imminent, nothing was close by. The closest portable drill was five miles away in the VAB. It took about 20 minutes to get a drill up to the white room. And what? It had a low battery and could not produce enough torque to drill out the bolt.

Another 20 minutes and another drill was delivered. If you watched it on NASA select you could see flying shrapnel as the drill devoured the bolt.

Normally a bolt with a counter sunk head is reinserted in the hole after the handle is removed. You cannot fly with a hole in the door. NASA was concerned that the leading edge would present a problem during reentry. So it was covered with thermal tape. By then the launch window ran out and the mission was postponed.

So did they replace the whole door? I remember thinking that it would take a couple of weeks to fix it before the launch was attempted. Silly me.

In 1986, I was an electrical engineer at a large industrial company and by night I was a silent partner at a record store. One of the part time record store employees had a friend who recorded NASA Select and showed the video of the drilling. Did anyone see this live from their classroom?

I woke up freezing the morning of January 28, 1986. It was the coldest morning of the year. A front came through overnight. I was late for work and to be honest I had forgotten completely about the launch. New door, better weather. Two weeks tops.

I flipped on the radio and hear the countdown in progress (T-2 hours or something). I was flabbergasted!

That morning a 9 am meeting was scheduled to discuss the integration of a new product. The vendor was it. The meeting wrapped up about 1130. As we walked into the hallway, someone said 'The shuttle just exploded'. I chuckled and turned to the vendor, who was not a local, and said, "He probably means it just launched. Lets go look, we should be able to see the contrail."

We braved the cold and walked outside. Sure enough there was a contrail. But it ended in a Y in mid sky. It looked stranger than other launches. It wasn't until I went back inside and saw a crowd huddled around a radio that I fully realized that it had "exploded".

I moved to Brevard County, Florida in 1980. In April 1981, I was fortunate to get a car pass to view the initial shuttle launch from the NASA Causeway on KSC property. These were initially available to contractors. The general public views it from other causeways and locations.

We piled 12 people into a van and camped out overnight. A public address system was set up and carries the voice of mission control. You can see the shuttle on the pad. It had an eerie feeling like that reminded me of Devils Hill scene in Close Encounters. I kept waiting of the announcement: "There is a negative gravity region below the ship". I had my 35mm Nikon with 85-205 Vivitar zoom lens. There were many, many others with telescopes and huge lenses.

Did you know that after Challenger exploded, the NASA causeway was shutdown and a scene from Men in Black occurred. Every camera was confiscated. Film was removed.

People did get their film back. That was several weeks later. It was processed by NASA (free of charge). People were told that NASA needed to see if someone had caught something on film that their multimillion dollar optics tracking system missed. Huh?

Do you remember President Reagan speech in Houston at the memorial a week later? There were no bodies. They had not been recovered yet.

I knew several people who had commercial diving and skipper licenses and ran fishing and diving charters out of Port Canaveral. After the disaster NASA put top priority on finding the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) which were the "smoking guns". The Navy and NASA subcontracted local mariners and divers including some that I knew.

After the bodies were recovered, one told me that on many occasion while searching the debris field his boat came close to the grid where the crew capsule was eventually found. Every time they got close, the Navy sent them to another grid to search. It was like they were saving the bodies for last.

Years later, I was at Jetty Park which was on the southside of Port Canaveral. I met a retired person who said he witnessed the crash. He said he visually tracked the crew cabin until it impacted the ocean. Using dead reckoning skills he learned in scouting and boating, he took a bearing and noted landmarks. He gave this information to someone and watched. And watched. Day after day, he would say "They are searching in the wrong place". When they finally search that grid, he told his friends on shore "That's where it is". That night, under the cover of darkness, flag draped bodies were brought in. Why did it take so long?

The employee from the record store showed me NASA Select video from January 28. There are ice all over the launch complex. The broadcast feed went off the air abruptly after the explosion.

When President Reagan delivered the State of the Union Address, which was originally scheduled for the evening of January 28, 1986, he announced a mission to develop a National Aero Spaceplane called the Orient Express. It would have been nice to have a shuttle in orbit for that. It should have been in orbit on January 27. Two postponements would have looked bad for NASA. Conspiracy? I think NASA was eager to launch. I don't think the White House ordered them to launch, but I think they knew that had to perform.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Office Space Deja Vu

Over the Christmas break I spent several days in New Orleans cleaning the family homestead that sustained water damage from two weeks of Katrina's flood waters.

I had a flashback of the movie Office Space and thought how physically rewarding demolition was as compared to writing code as a software engineer.

Applicances, beds, sofa, dresser all were inspected for anything salvagable then taken to the curb. Clothes, food, papers, TV, VCRs, tapes and CDs were hauled out as well. As I moved a dresser in a bedroom, a rusty red item on the floor caught my eye. To maintain sanity, sometimes you have to find humor in trivial things.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Winter Wahine Warmth

If your winter has been snowy and cold, here's a photo to warm you up. TV interview of Wahine at Sebastian Inlet, Florida.

Although the nights dropped into the 40's, the days were sunny and warmed up nicely for the Globe Sebastian Inlet Pro Surf Competition last weekend. The waves could have been bigger, but who's complaining.

The first two rounds of the Womens's competition (wahines) were held Sunday afternoon. My Fuji 10x optical with 1.5 zoom was a midget compared to other cameras with telescopic lenses used by the pros, but I managed to get some quality shots.

Photos from Sunday are here.

Photos from Saturday's Round of 128 are here.

The official website is The contest continues through Thursday.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Coping without an 8 Key 3

8-ball, 8 men out, crazy 8s, 8 is enough: What would you do without an 8 key?

While normal keyboards have numeric keypads, typical laptops do not. I found myself on the road at Panera's Bread in Pompano Beach attempting to update my ezine with photos via WiFi of the Florida State High School Swim/Dive Championship in Fort Lauderdale Friday night and my 8 key spazzed.

My Laptop is a LinuxCertified LC2100 with dual boot Fedora Core 4/Window XP.

Note that the 8 has a shift value of *. I was trying to merge 72 event file into a single files to post to my ezine webpage. To add to the angst, Friday was the 18th.

I succeeded with variations of [7-9], 05111?, and using a GUI file upload that let me upload files to a directory swim051118 which luckily I had created earlier. It was brutal. As I was pissing and moaning in my hotel room Saturday morning the 8 key suddenly became unstuck (after I had already burned CDROMs of Friday's events using a base directory of swim051117).

Anyway, the local high school diver, Andrew Scully, (Satellite High) won state 2A diving championship Friday, and Satellite High Boys and Girls won 2A overall championship on Saturday.

Swimming and diving are not money sports and do not get a lot of print coverage. My hope is that one of these athletes makes it to the olympics and I'll have "Before they were stars" photos to provide for a coffee table book. Friday's photos are here and Saturdays are here .


Journal Journal: MIFF Opening Night at the Bamboo Theater

The Melbourne (Fla) Independent Filmmakers Festival opened Thursday with family night at DaKine Diego's Bamboo Theater in Satellite Beach. The venue included animated shorts as well as surfing and sk8-boarder flix. All G-rated.

Once again I am a volunteer gopher and take paparazzi photos of celebrities and patrons.

Home page for the MIFF is here.
Photos from the Bamboo Theater are here.

United States

Journal Journal: My Tour of the White House .....


The randomness of the universe is amazing. I've been in the DC area on a business trip for the last week and took the Metro into the city Sunday.

There is a tourist center on the south east side of the White House. I would have walked right passed it if I didn't have to use the restroom.

As I was leaving the building the clerk asked if I would like to tour the White House Grounds. What a trip!

I'll tell more stories about the experience later, but here's a rough cut of my photos..

User Journal

Journal Journal: You Stone Heads .....

I was in Texas last week prior to Hurricane Rita and thought I heard a public official on TV say: "... and you stone heads in Baytown should evacuate."

I envisioned a Haight Ashbury region of Houston with Hippies, or Guadalupe Street in Austin.

In reality, the public official was Houston Mayor Bill White and what he actually said was: "Houstonians in Baytown should evacuate."

Far out, man!

User Journal

Journal Journal: New Orleans - After the Flood 1

I just returned from New Orleans where I recovered a few items from Katrina damaged family residences then dodged Rita's wrath.

Having never experienced flood waters, the aftermath was very interesting. Some thing tend to float, then crash when the water subsides.

Wooden dressers and chests, matresses, and wooden tables tend to float. So do refrigerators to an extent.

An interesting photo is from my sisters dining room table. There is a bottle of ketchup, upside down to drain the last drops to the neck of the bottle. The table top is well below the high water mark. The table obviously floated with flood, then settled and left the topside contents relatively undisturbed; except for some nastly mold growing.

Photos of family New Orleans residences are here.

User Journal

Journal Journal: New Orleans Flood Photo from Space 1

Here is satellite photo of New Orleans taken yesterday by Digital Globe Quickbird. Its easy to see which areas are flooded and which one are dry.

You can gauge the depth by looking at the exit ramps of I10 and I610 and overpasses. (Dialup user: its 3mb).

Unfortunately three houses that I have fond memories of (parents, sister, and brother) show nothing by roof tops.

Stories of looting bring to mind Hollywood movies like "Escape from New York" and "Robocop."

The four hurricanes that hit Florida last year seem trivial to the damage and aftermath of Katrina.

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