Thursday, January 29, 2015

Victory!

When I touched it - the presidency of the family reunion organization - I made sounds like "I plan to get a lot of documents out on the web."  Understand that the "organization" consists of me.  Myself and I.

So it's Winter and that's a good time to work on computery sorts of things.  Understand that not only am I the totality of the reunion organization, but I'm also a Luddite.

First attempt - Facebook.  I have a personal Facebook site but I basically don't do anything fancy/pretty with it.  I just know how to comment. The family site needs to be more/different than a personal site.  My first few attempts at fumbling around without knowing what anything meant resulted in me curling up in a fetal position and whimpering for several days.  But now I have A Book that Explains Things.  I'm feeling better.  I also realized I hadn't really thought out what content I wanted to get up there and that's going to be controlled right now by what I actually have at hand.

In addition to a box of old photos, I have the Reunion ledger in which things like who attended, deaths, meeting minutes, etc. have been recorded since 1949.  I've been wanting to scan it for a couple years so that the record will be preserved for the future if something happens to the ledger itself.  The hitch being that my scanner can only scan up to 8 1/2 x 11 pages and the ledger pages are longer than 11 in.  And I'm not popping for a large format scanner.  Nor did I want to pay someone else to scan 212 pages.  Don't know what it would cost but I bet I wouldn't like the bill.

So a bit of research on the web and I find Microsoft Image Composite Editor.  It has the magic price tag - it's free.  Originally developed for use in editing and merging panoramic photos, it really doesn't care whether it's a panoramic photo or not.  It just runs some amazing algorithm and seamlessly merges 2 images at a time.  Yay!


Its a slow process.  I have the.slowest.scanner.on.earth.  And I have to do 2 scans per page.  Then I have to run the 2 images through Composite Editor.  I also have to stop occasionally and do research on obituaries attached to pages.   Minutes and notes were not originally entered into the ledger and so I don't have lists of those who have died between reunions.  Just old newspaper clips.  Unfortunately, those clips aren't necessarily clipped between the correct years and none of them were dated.  Thank goodness for WV vital records and Find a Grave online.  And just enough info to be gleaned from sites like Ancestry.com that I can figure some things out.


Sandra Ann Whetsell, 1942 - 1950

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oh, Jeez, Brain Bleach!

Over at Creative Minority Report there's a reflection by the blogger, a participant in this year's March for Life, on the fact that the media doesn't find a gathering of 200,000 people of all races, ages, and creeds marching peacefully to protest abortion worthy of reporting.  Well, he's been at it less time than me - it's normal.  And it won't get any better because one thing that is developing and showing up at the March that probably scares the pants off them is the steady swing of the young people of America to opposition to abortion.  They get it - they could be dead for any reason, and they have a peculiar concept that they themselves should have a say in that but would not if they were sucked into a bucket and disposed of.

But I digress.

One of the things he lists as something that the media would cover if 200,000 participants showed up would be "200,000 topless women protesters who nobody actually wants to see topless ranting about the pope or some patriarchal symbol. (Mass coverage and probably a reality show on Bravo.)"

Obviously he remembers the recent demonstration by four (count 'em, FOUR) topless women who somehow thought that their boobs hanging out as they screamed nonsense would be Significant to Catholic theology.  Kinda like the hashtag thing. And my thought was "Ew!  Most people who insist on being naked in public are the very people who shouldn't be!"  Remember David Niven at the Oscars the year a streaker ran across the stage? 


Yeah. Nudists and guys who wear those skimpy, tight European swim trunks.  Some people are entirely too comfortable with their bodies.

But he put me in mind of my first trip to San Diego years ago.  I hadn't been traveling regularly for the gummit so I didn't take the time to research the area.  Also, it may have been before TripAdvisor and such.   But, anyway, I wanted to find a park, a green space, to walk in.  I particularly wanted to walk near the Pacific.  I took my San Diego map to the nice little old lady at the information kiosk and pointed to a green blob in the La Jolla area and asked if it was a good place for a walk.  She said it was.  So off I went, braving S. California evening traffic.  I have to say, the traffic there never bothered me.  I've spent my life driving in the D.C. metro area.  As Will Rogers once said, "How can you call it traffic when it ceases to move?"  Traffic not moving on the west coast is the same as traffic not moving here.

In retrospect, I should have gotten more detail about the area.  I'm pretty sure she thought I was pointing at Torrey Pines State Park. I was not clear on where I was pointing.  But I finally found a parking lot at what appeared to be a glider plane airport.  And I could see that people were coming up from the beach there.  There was a trail down the cliffs.  Ah!  Exactly what I was looking for!  So I started working my way down.

This was before I went into total slob mode in my dress code.  I refused to wear a dress, had refused for years, both because I'm not comfortable in them and because society says I should wear them and I'm contrary.  But I had nice khakis and a nice blouse on.  And I'm a birder.  So I had my trusty Peterson guide and my little pair of binoculars with me.

The cliffs there are steep and eroded and I worked my way carefully down, not paying attention to anything but my feet.  The trail finally let out on the beach, and I, in complete oblivion, walked to the water's edge and started scanning the horizon with my binoculars, looking for new entries for my birding life list.  I worked slowly along the beach.  Volleyball players, sunbathers, and beachcombers lined it.  And something started niggling at me.  Something was...different.  I was very engrossed in looking for new birds, but finally I looked up.  It took a moment for it to click but then it came to me - "These people are all naked..."

Ah, crud.  And most of them needed to be not naked.  Really.  There can be too much jiggle.  And an extremely hairy back is no more appealing when the extremely hairy rest of the person is displayed.  I mean, Sasquach, dude, put your pants on!  Swift collapse of little binoculars and they disappeared into a pants pocket.  And off I marched down the beach, looking for an area where there was nothing more startling than a species of bird I hadn't seen before. 

Apparently, I was at Black's Beach.  Apparently, everybody knew about Black's Beach except me.  There was much laughter at my expense when I told the tale later.  I added a lot of birds to my life list those first couple trips out there, but I made sure of the way to Torrey Pines State Park after that.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm Beginning To Think...

... that maybe the solution to my dislike of Winter is simply to be out in it during the day doing fun stuff.  Like shooting.  Or walking.  Used to be that I'd have to be working during the daylight hours.

Had shelter duty last night and didn't get much sleep.  I'm not generally a napper, but I had to lay down for a bit after I got home this morning.  Woke up to a nice snow fall.  Went off for a walk in it.  It was lovely.  I was sorry when I saw the clouds breaking.


Some of the residents of this house appreciate Winter, because that's when I fire up the space heaters.  First we toast one side, then we toast another...



Monday, January 19, 2015

A Few Of My Favorite Things

At first, I was too busy to have a sense of being retired.  But now I’ve had a couple weeks without traveling or being sick, and this morning I was thinking that I definitely had a favorite thing about being retired:  I can cook a proper breakfast.  I’m not really a huge fan of cereal - pretty much everything but plain shredded wheat is too sweet to me.  I have a strong sweet tooth but there are some things that I don't like sweet.  Like iced tea and cereal.  Donuts and pastries are supposed to be sweet and are quite tasty, but are even worse than cereal for letting me be hungry an hour down the line.  Not to mention that I know what all of it them, even the stuff labeled "all natural" (a marketing flim-flam) does to the blood sugar/insulin levels.  These days my breakfast is usually the main meal of my day and it's full of vegetables and lovely things like polenta or beans, almost always an egg or two, and is finished with a piece of fruit. I love being able to give that first meal of the day it the attention it deserves.  


Then the phone rang, and Murphy’s Law asked if I’d like to go shooting today.  Heh.  And even if it hadn’t been a holiday, I could say “Sure!”

And, oh yeah, I went to the range yesterday, too.  Because my weekends are no longer sucked up with scrambling to get a ton of stuff done before work starts again on Monday. Heh.  ML had plumbing problems yesterday and couldn’t join us.  I suggested Metamucil or Imodium but apparently a new faucet was the solution.

Just before Thanksgiving, ML had a couple guns follow him home from a pawn shop.   One of them came home to live with me.  It's a nice little Savage Mark II, my first .22 rifle.  


 It's a very nice little gun to shoot, and I really like the bolt action.  Because my arms are short, I have to drop the butt of the gun a bit and reach to work the bolt.  This slows me up, which right now is a good thing.  It helps me to think about every shot, and not just ping away.   I managed to get it out just once in December, when I figured out that the sights were set way wrong for the distance I was shooting, but it went yesterday and today.  

Yesterday was a good rifle day for me, but I had it at 50 yards.   Can't see the blamed target to see how I'm shooting after that and I had forgotten my binoculars.  Today, not so good, probably because we were on the 100 yard range and it wasn't until the very end that I realized that I still had it set at 50.  The grouping... not so hot, even taking into account that I was hitting low.

The reason I forgot the binoculars was that everything from my gun bag had been dumped into several plastic grocery bags and I lost track of them.  The reason my gun bag is gone is that my SIL's cat pooped in it while I was in MI in December.  Said cat, who is so old that we call him Methuselah, is psychotic, but our relationship, which has been based on my having a strong sense of unease ever since he tore my arm up just for grins and giggles, had been improving.


Blasted cat has cost me both scars AND a gun bag now.

The M-1 carbine went out today, too.  For some reason, maybe just lack of practice, my shooting with it has gone down the toilet.  And, again, I couldn't see if I was hitting anything at 100 yards.  We went down to check our targets.  Grumble, grumble, not a single one on the target.  Then John pointed out something.


Oops!  I guess the grouping wasn't bad but I was shooting just a bit high with it.  Bet they love it there when we tear up stuff like that...  Then I wandered right with it, despite aiming left.  Fa.  But then, I'm retired.  I can go practice.  Heh.

John was good enough to let me try his DPMS G2 Recon .308.  Nice gun!  I was giving him a hard time because it was pinging pretty much every ejected shell off my head or shoulder, with a few simply arching over just right to drop between my arms as I held my own rifle.  But I learned a lesson from the Recon.  I don't have any guns with optics on them and have only used one a couple times.  Note to self:  do NOT put your eye too close to the scope when firing. Punched me right in the eye.  Darned lucky I didn't knock the lens out of my glasses.  My nose smarted.  But at least one tends to remember lessons like that and not repeat the mistake.

Pistol was better.  The Glock was, anyway.  I've been shooting like crap for a while and it worried me.  Trouble is, you get frustrated and that screws up your shooting.  Yesterday, I tossed some clays out on the berm in order to give a bit of variety.  Distance-wise the clays were further away than the targets, but I did much better with the clays than with the targets.  Except, of course, that one clay that refuses to break and just flips and flips and flips as you chase it around.  Today,  after I got the initial wandering looseness settled, I felt much better about it.

But I was, at one point, contemplating the fact that you can work so hard on it:  you make sure your stance is good, your grip on the pistol correct, your breathing right.  You feel like you've got everything perfect.  As you squeeze the trigger that sight is dead on the center of the target.  And the instant before the bang, after your body is already committed to firing, some muscle twitches and you send a flyer over in the white somewhere.  Dad-gummit!

It's a bit brisk here now, although not nearly the cold we suffered through last year.  Being out in it for several hours both days has been really nice.  I might even come to accept Winter at this rate.  I had homework I needed to finish for church tonight, and I do have things I'm obligated to here and there because church meetings and shelter schedules can't be quite as random as other things.  But I'm really liking this being able to drop what I'm doing and go do something else just because I can.

And now I'm going to go read for a bit and go to bed, with the knowledge that I can get up tomorrow morning any darned time I want.  Heh.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Heh

I shouldn't laugh, but turn that last Charlie Hebdo magazine pic upside down and look at it...