Happy New Year’s Eve . . . Be Safe Out There!

I saw Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon together just before sunset tonight, in the dusk overhead (actually, over the farmers’ market where we were picking up some last-minute provisions). There’s a celestial show going on tonight. See details at http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20081230/sc_space/celestialshowsetfornewyearseve.

We’re all holed up at home watching the “That’s Entertainment” movies and flipping over to “South Park” now and then. No on-the-town for us. We’ll be watching whoever’s doing the Dick Clark show later on and then turning in after midnight. Man, what a bunch of party poopers.

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Photo Software Answer–and Invitation

I settled on Picasa 3, the free solution linked to Google/Gmail, for my photo album answer. It is working fairly well, although I think I have pushed it to its limits. *grin* I can recommend it to those of you who’d like a photo organizing/sharing solution. And it’s a free download!

Turned out that I had over 700 photos in the “New York Trip” stream, even after I deleted all the blurry shots and all the silly bits that I didn’t think would be of any interest to the people I wanted to show the pics to. (!!! 700 ! ! !) Google’s Picasa Web Albums (which is also where photos for Blogger are stored, as I discovered when it brought up my graphics I’d used in Blogger posts for the various sketchbook exchanges I’m in) requires that people log in to see the pics, but I thought that was a fair trade. I invited (allowed; the albums are invitation-only) all my fellow contestants in the 2008 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper contest to view the first album (the first half–500 photos!) because the contest is in the middle of the photostream. Then I sent invitations to my family members and Close Personal Friends (TM) who might like to see the pictures, including members of the ex-FidoNet WRITING2 and BARDROOM mailing lists. Thus, you may have already gotten an invite. But!

If you would like to be able to view the photostreams/albums (bearing in mind that they’re LARGE and might be BORING to you), leave me a comment with the e-mail address you’d like to log in with. I’ll send you an invitation with the next batch of invites.

The reason there are so MANY pix is that I decided to make it a photostory. I’ve included our trip in, our restaurant visits, all the shots we took just walking around, and our trip back out up to getting on the train. You may be interested only in photos of the buildings, and they’re in there, but you’ll have to wade a bit. As usual, all images of me have been replaced by images of my paternal grandmother, who was a Bavarian iconette; she looked just like the drawings in old children’s storybooks of the German hausfrau coming out of the cuckoo clock wearing her apron and with hands still flour-covered, and that’s what you’ll get. There’s something wrong with these newfangled cameras *grumble*. Hubby looks pretty much like himself. If you persist in looking at lots of these photos, you’ll probably figure out which one he is. . . .

(What is he saying in all those pictures? “Hurry up.” *grin*)

Photo Software Question

I need to choose a program, free or off-the-shelf to buy, that will:

* Let me pick out just ONE folder of around 1500 photos to work on and make into a “storybook” or whatever to be viewed on this computer–not default to My Pictures or want to work on everything I have

* Let me drag photos around to make a “story”–in other words, not make me leave them in strict order of any kind (because some of the photos were taken with the camera’s clock and/or date set wrong, and I want them in the proper order, which I know)–and let me have them show up as thumbnails in that order. I also need to be able to drag in photos from another folder to interweave (as we used two cameras, and neither one was always set for the correct date/time, sigh, so we can’t just sort by date/time)

* Allow me to make comments on each photo such that when you click on that photo, it goes from the thumbnails page to a full-screen rendering of that picture, and lets you edit it or put in comments in a text field (sort of like a Flickr page)

* Allow me to “save” that sequence of photos/text notes as an album that later on I can lock against changes, and perhaps even put out on a CD to share with other family members

* Maybe the software could even let me drag a “box” to select a subsequence of photos/annotations to be made into a rudimentary uploadable webpage (which you could then edit with a web page editor). I would like to make a page for all the contestants in the Scotch contest this year to share, and a good start would be to put my subset of photos up and let them come to that page (which I would put up on my site) and add their photos and thoughts and memories. This would be cool. But maybe photo software won’t let me do that, which is OK.

I’d prefer not to spend a LOT on this, but if I have to buy rather than download, that’s OK. Just whatever you think works best. Oh, and something that doesn’t crash!
I’d rather do it locally on the hard disk here than upload to some website and do all of that on someone else’s server.

Christmas Eve will find you–last-minute gifts

LAST-MINUTE COOL GIFTS

How about this portable Polaroid PoGo mini-photo printer? You can print sticker-photos (2×3) from any Bluetooth-equipped cell phone. I *finally* sneaked off to get one this afternoon and tested it. It amazed me! I know you can Google that up; most Target locations have at least ONE left. It’s $99, but hey, you have someone you really LIKE, don’t you? *wink*


You could spend a lot less–a tenth of that–and get a “Bob” wobble clock. It also has an alarm and date/timer functions. Mostly, though, it’s just cute.


I discussed these Betsey Johnson leg warmers with Santa, and I believe we came to an understanding. Look at those heart-shaped buttons!


I’ll post a more detailed discussion of this Lynda Barry book, WHAT IT IS, whenever I can get time to collect my thoughts and set them down in some coherent fashion. But it’s a GREAT inspirational book for writers, artists, journalers, and people who’d like to get more in touch with their creative sides.

I discovered this book when I was browsing in the fabulous New York store FORBIDDEN PLANET and saw a door plastered with colorful pages, like a collage. Turned out it was the entrance to the “Employees Only” area and that the pages were out of this book, which Ms. Barry, a cartoonist and artist, had signed and promoted there at the store earlier in the year. I tell you what, if you get only one book about writing/creativity/journaling and/or personal growth this year, get this one.

Other ideas:
* Check the dollar stores for ceramic clown figurines
* Make a potholder (don’t you have those loops and one of the looms somewhere?)–do a rainbow one or use the colors of the recipient’s kitchen
* Tie-dye an old T-shirt and pretend you got it at a craft fair
* Print out a great photo and put it in a dollar store frame
* Bake something!
# # #
We didn’t get Mama’s scans done today after all. She fasted all night and fretted and ranted until her appointment around 2 PM. Got to the scan place and she was having a terrible coughing spell (asthma, COPD, emphysema–whichever). She’d been congested all day, and had had* to drink about a half-cup of water to get un-choked about five hours earlier. *(Yes, a double-had is proper here!) They brought out this Route 44-sized glass of contrast dye solution, but when they heard her coughing, they asked a few questions and looked at the sheets I’d filled out. “You had a reaction to contrast dye before?”

“Yes, a minor one. Her throat felt as if it were closing up and all this mucus rushed to her nose . . . I’ve had that reaction, too.”

The tech looked solemn. “Then you should’ve been premedicated for this. Last week we had someone have a really bad reaction.” His expression said just how bad. “And because this is not a hospital or near one, it can be dangerous.” He got on the phone to the doctor, and Mama hissed, “I told you I had an intuition not to do this today. Let’s go!”

She’d been fighting me since early morning on that. Tomorrow she has her scope and surgical procedure, and she didn’t want to be debilitated and miss that, as it’s actually the cutting out of the rest of the “spots” he took out of her stomach . . . eeeuw, long story. But anyhow, that takes priority.

The guy finally said he’d reschedule us after Christmas, and we left. I got an earful about how awful the place was and how unprepared everyone is, etc., but she’s just nervous and frightened. I think we can wait until after the scope thing and after the holiday to have the scans. Still, it would have been cool to “get it over with.” One of her friends had a really severe reaction to gadolinium contrast last year, as well, so we want to be safe. I took her to the cafeteria and she ate up the wallpaper, so her stomach must feel BETTER.

ANYWAY!! So I haven’t had a chance to shoppe at all, hardly, and tomorrow (today! Christmas Eve!) we go in at 5 AM for this scope/surgery thing where they’ll go back to the spots they found those polyps and cut “the rest of them” out “plus anything else we see that we don’t like,” and then they’ll discuss the capsule camera. I originally thought she’d get the capsule camera tomorrow, but now I’m being told that has to be ordered, so perhaps next week or after the first of the new year.

I do feel better about her health in general after seeing her gastroenterologist, but we’ve got to get through this procedure (which is what they call surgery/operations these days so people don’t feel so panicky, but it doesn’t work) tomorrow and get her home and calmed down so we can have SOME semblance of a holiday. We have the Christmas dinner fixings, but we can’t see any family members on the Big Day this year . . . everyone’s got issues and problems. In fact, my sister-in-law is having her gallbladder taken out on Friday, and she said she told me this the other day, but I don’t REMEMBER AT ALL . . . when she talked to hubby (her brother), she was hurt/surprised that I hadn’t mentioned it to him, but I REALLY DON’T REMEMBER AT ALL . . . my mind was like scrambled eggs that day, I guess, but still!! Anyway, so she’ll be out of commission for a day or so after that, even though it’s outpatient surgery. And my niece has been having fainting spells. I don’t think we can make the drive north to see my aunt/uncle, either, as Mama is bound to be too tired to travel for a few days. *Sigh* But! We’re all still here, and we’ll have a good holiday NO MATTER WHAT. That is an order.
# # #
On the TiVo:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
It’s a Wonderful Life
A Christmas Story
The Bishop’s Wife
Miracle on 34th Street (the original)
Christmas in Connecticut (ditto)
Mallrats (okay, out of character and not holiday-specific, but I can watch that one over again even when I tune in somewhere in the middle by accident)

I also got a couple of DVD movies that I think hubby’ll like . . . BURN AFTER READING, for one. We’ll see if my guess is correct. I don’t have much luck choosing things that he’ll watch. He said the other day, “I hate the movies that you buy.” He doesn’t watch anything that he calls “that old black-and-white garbage,” which includes CASABLANCA, SOME LIKE IT HOT, THE APARTMENT, and every other classic from that era. He won’t even watch BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, even though it’s in Technicolor. He’s a Philistine, truly. We don’t have similar tastes in film at all, except for REAL GENIUS (which we both love) and selected Kevin Smith flicks. This didn’t used to be the case. Or maybe I was floating down Denial. It would have made more sense for me to marry someone who loves old movies, or at least doesn’t feel the need to complain about them so much. . . .

Happy Birthday, Laurie/Solstice Night

Today’s my sister-in-law’s birthday. The Garfield icon is for her. Do not call her “old,” for she is younger than I am. . . .

Also, solstice. Means the days will start getting longer again. Thank goodness! When we were in NYC and Chicago, it got dark around 4:30 PM. Everyone on the train just went to bed around 9:30 PM. That was COMPLETELY AWFUL (even the pinochle players in the lounge rolled up the carpets and retired when it got pitch-black outside the windows). It has been getting dark around 6 PM around here, which is bad enough. Is that a function of the time zone difference, or that they’re farther north, or what? Whatever it is, AAACK. I like cloudy weather, but it can’t turn to NIGHT in the AFTERNOON. Hideous!

Here’s your assignment. Go to iTunes and click on the iTunes Store. Search for “Audra Mae.” When the two tracks come up on the mini-album “Sons of Anarchy” (Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”), give ’em a listen. This is Dennis’s granddaughter, who has a voice to match her impressive musical lineage.

She’s the granddaughter of Dennis Havens, composer/arranger/longtime Las Vegas show band musician and later guest conductor of various community bands, author of original marches and other works. BUT!! There’s more! She’s the great-niece of Judy Garland, whose sister Jimmie was her maternal great-grandmother. Her maternal great-grandfather was Bobby Sherwood, well-known 1940s/’50s big band leader (“Sherwood’s Forest”), composer/arranger, trumpet, piano and guitar player. She’s the grand-niece of Michael Sherwood, Hollywood film and TV music writer, and Billy Sherwood, of the rock group “Yes.” So! ! ! Now you see where this talent got its start.

Anyway. It’s free to listen to samples! If you end up buying the tracks, don’t blame me. . . .

You can also get two free Christmas songs (can’t remember what they were) from the splash page of iTunes. Scroll down to “free stuff this week.”

Make Us Happy, Pop Culture!

Okay, I’ve had a good cry.

Didn’t let Mama or hubby see me, of course. It was helpful, though it didn’t remove the worry completely.

I turned, as I always do, to pop culture for some distractionary relief.


Look! They did a costume show based on the look of the old Marlo Thomas series, “That Girl”! If you click, you’ll see MY PEOPLE. My mother and my aunts and all my baby-sitters who were old enough dressed JUST LIKE THIS. As I said in an earlier entry, this was my fashion template on which I imprinted at an early age. My grandmother sewed minidresses and maxidresses out of polyester and cotton for my mother and aunts, and often made me a smaller version. By the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, this was the accepted look for girls and I had tons of dresses similar to these–and fishnets! We wore fishnets. The ones I remember were soft (not tough on the soles of the feet) and lime green to match my dress. Fishnets weren’t considered a super-sexy item then, just sold in the supermarkets. THIS is what I default to when I think of “fashionable females.” Good thing it’s kind of back in style! Along with those WONDERFUL cropped jackets like the ones on Doris Day’s 1940s-1950s Day Suits.

Style Icons of the mid-1960s

And who doesn’t love old boarding-school novels? This blog has a great discussion of boarding school novels and their appeal to girls who would be appalled to find out just how it really IS at boarding school. Part of the appeal of Harry Potter, I am convinced, is that it’s the old English boarding school stuff, like the stuff in Roald Dahl. (Though Dahl’s work is far more charming, to me.)

Davy Jones just released a Christmas single! It’s on iTunes, for those of you who want to spend $1.99.

Have some LOLcats.

There. Feel better?