Sunday, August 29, 2010

Two steps forward, ten steps back

From BlogPhotos

It was not a productive weekend. I had planned to spend the entire time finishing out the interior of the boat to have it cleaned up and cleaned out by labor day. The hope was to invite a few friends out on the water.

I made the mistake of going shot for shot with a Scott Thursday night after finished our four days of train the trainer classes. I don't drink that much to start with. I definitely don't drink like the Scottish. What's worse is that the class decided on sushi as the celebration dinner. Little bits of fish and rice a substantial meal does not make. My choices Thursday night ruined my Friday.

My new hope was to get to the boat early Saturday before it got hot to get started. We didn't make it to Clear Lake until 11:30. By the time I'd made a run to Home Depot, West Marine and Chic-Fil-A, it was 1:30. Then before I could even start the carpentry I spent two hours trying to sort out the reports from Ben and Allison that the toilet had quit flushing the previous weekend. I found a completely clogged vent and vent hose that need to be replaced. Two more things to put on the repair list.

Once I finally gave up on trying to unclog that smelly disaster, I did manage to get the trim in the V-berth sanded, the V-berth cleaned and the cushions put back in. However, that's as far as progress went because our marina neighbor Matt invited us to go out with him on his Allied Seawind for the evening. That was a welcome change from the frustration of the day. However, I felt guilty the entire time that I playing instead of working. I resolved that I would DEFINITELY get the staining done Sunday morning.

Well, we got back to the marina about 9 p.m., then went for a pizza. When we got back at 10 p.m., the air-conditioner was dumping condensation all over the v-berth, so I went up to adjust it. It didn't want to be adjusted. The fan, which hadn't wanted to start running in the first place, started squealing incessantly. At least it was squealing until the loud pop, which put an abrupt end to the life of the air-conditiong unit as well as the starboard AC power circuit, which I was unable to revive.

At this point it was around midnight, and my option was attempt to disassemble and repair the air-conditioner in the dark, then risk the port side AC circuit or suffer the heat or heave the air-conditioner into the ocean like the Incredible Hulk and go home. I decided neither was a good idea as I'd already lost a screw from one of the light fixtures earlier, so I just moved the air-conditioner out of the hatch, opened up all the ports and the companionway and hoped the breeze would cool the sauna that the boat was quickly becoming.

We might have been able to suffer through the night -- until it started raining. At that point, I packed it up and drove home to Spring.

I spent all day laying around the house watching the last season of Entourage, trying not to think about how frustrated I am with the boat.

Instead of finishing up the interior and being able to clean all the crap out of it and finally have space for people to visit and sit and enjoy the boat, that's all permanently on hold. See, the boat is now 120-degrees inside and it smells like poo. Now I've got to either take a week to repair that air-conditioner again or spend $200 on a new unit and the time to figure out and construct a method to mount it. Ahhh, but I can't even run really run the air-conditioner, new or old, until I troubleshoot the electrical system and figure out why the breaker won't kick it back on.

Once that's done, I can finally get to the smelly poo hose and vent that is so corroded that I will literally have to chisel and file out of the fiberglass to replace.

Then, maybe I'll finally be back on track to start working on the interior again.

I'm mad at myself for not being committed to the project and spending the time I should have on it this weekend, but I'm also mad at the boat for continuing to fall to pieces around me. I want the stupid mast light and anchor light to start working again without having to climb the mast another six times.

In the meantime, I've got to do my reading for my next class.

From BlogPhotos

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Almost finished

It's been a long, intensive three days. I've been innoculated with the theories if transformational leadership, inundated with our company's HSE culture, and interrogated by panels of colleagues after giving presentations. One day left. I'm reviewing the videos of the presentations I gave yesterday for self-critique, then it's back to class.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So many cousins

From BlogPhotos

My cousin Amy had a beautiful wedding yesterday. It was very classy, and the groom seems like a great guy with a really good sense of humor. They actually conspired with the DJ to set up the groomsman. Upon entry to the reception, they had to compete in an impromptu dance off. It was quite entertaining.

The hardest part of taking a date to a function with this side of the family is trying to explain my relationship to everyone. The bride's grandmother is my grandfather's sister, so her parents and all the aunts and uncles are all my dad's cousins. So the cousins have kids. Then the cousin's kids have kids. It's just confusing as to who is a second or third or fourth or however that works, so we just end up saying everyone is a cousin.

I felt terrible because I didn't remember my cousins Clark or Jessica. The thing is, I hadn't seen Clark since he was about five, so the fact that's he's now a grown man threw me for a loop in trying to figure out who he was. However, after the slideshow at the reception showing everyone as kids I finally put it all together.

You don't see people in so long, and they just stay the same age in your head. For a split second I thought cousin Lori's elementary-age kids were cousin Tommy and cousin Scott, who are now also grown men. I just remembered them the way I saw them last and Lori's kids look a lot like they did when we were all kids.

Half the attendees at the reception told my date that they used to babysit me. Thankfully the stories weren't any more detailed than that.

Also, history repeated itself in our family. Thirty years ago, I was the ring bearer in cousin Christie's wedding. I cried and didn't make it down the aisle. Last night, Lori's son Kelby was the ring bearer at Amy's wedding. The flower girl managed to drag him almost all the way down the aisle before he collapsed into tears and escaped into a pew. I guess the men in our family just have a natural instict to be wary of that altar.

My Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary Ann, the grandparents of the bride won the anniversary dance for the longest marriage. They were at 57 years.

From BlogPhotos

It was good to see everyone. These were the people that were constantly around me during the early years of my life, yet I hadn't seen many of them in 15 or 20 years. I need to do a better job at staying in touch with family.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm so over I-45

Seriously, last week driving from Spring to Kemah took 3 hours. Why? Because there were three different accidents on a Saturday morning at 11 a.m. -- including one that was so bad it had the entire freeway shut down.

A week later, there's an accident at 9 a.m. It takes me an hour and a half to get down there. Then there's accident going north on my way home, so it took two hours to get back to Spring.

This is ridiculous. What are you people doing to have accidents on a one-way road with very long entrance and exits ramps?

I seriously can't deal with two-hour-plus drives to get to the boat. I can't deal with that much stop-and-go traffic on my weekends. It transforms me from a nice, considerate person who would do anything to help others into a person that is wishing death on an entire metropolitan population.

I'm praying this trend changes and it's just been two quirky weekends of more accidents than usual because if it doesn't, I'm rethinking the boat situation.

In lighter news, I got the old Kubota sold this morning to a really nice guy from craigslist. I showed him how I set up the motor in our boat, and then I took him for a spin past the boardwalk and back before heading back to Spring to get ready for my cousin's wedding. He's building his boat from scratch, so we ended up talking engineering and systems for a couple hours.

Now off to the wedding. This is cousin number three of the summer.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One small victory

The brake wear light on my dashboard is FINALLY off. The kicker to this story? The sensors just weren't pushing into the plugs far enough. I only had to take the wheels off the car three times to figure this out. However, these things did not want to go in. I knew the sensors themselves were all good because I'd tested them multiple times with a multimeter, but I finally had to use silicone lubricant and some serious elbow grease to get them seated all the way into their housings. However, it is done. Now aside from the fact that I need wash all the dirty handprints off the car, I can take it off my neverending list of things needing immediate maintenance.

I've been spending the rest of my evening reading about Carl Jung for my upcoming class.

From BlogPhotos

They told me it was "a little reading." It's actually a lot of reading but in a little book. Technically, it wasn't a lie.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

3200 RPMs

Hey, it finally came.

From Blogger Pictures

The long-awaited tachometer is here. I can finally put the control panel on the boat back together.

I also have a buyer lined up for the Kubota -- although he's trying to hide his entire boat project from his wife, which is never good -- but all sales are final.

I came home to find Ben watching Karate Kid on Netflix tonight. He swears that Mr. Miyagi lined up all those cars, built the fence and deck, and scuffed up the paint on his house JUST to train Daniel.

I said, that's preposterous. He would have had to build the deck and fence within a week. Ben contests that the deck and fence were freshly built and unfinished. I say, just because they were unfinished does not mean they were freshly built.

The debate raged all evening. Neither of us were able to firmly prove or disprove the other's theory based upon anything in the movie. However, we were able to agree that YOU'RE THE BEST AROUND, NOTHING'S EVER GONNA BRING YOU DOWN!

I got a book in the mail about the philosophy of Carl Jung that I have to read before my training class starts next week. Guess I'll get started on it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A wasted day

I hate being sick. I don't have time for it.

After three sleepless night, the return of the crusty eyes, and having the glands in my throat swell up to the size of pecans, I decided it just wasn't worth trying to drag myself into the office this morning. I promised myself I'd call the doctor's office when they opened, see the doc, then go in to work at noon. Nope.

Usually when I'm home, I have trouble making myself rest instead of working on all my nagging projects. Not today. I slept all day. I never even made it to the doctor's office, which is bad, because my glands are still raging. I think it's just the massive amounts of drainage that's causing the inflammation, but who knows? My only other guess would be mononucleosis, but there's nothing you can do about that. I'm probably the only person on earth who has been blessed with three separate incidences of mono. Having it a fourth time would just be ridiculous.

Last night, being overly-tired, I had become an element of destruction. I tried to straighten out a wire thing in the garage and ended up breaking it off. Then, the volume button on my phone still wasn't functioning correctly after being in my sweaty pocket all weekend, so I decided it was a good idea to spray electronic cleaner into it. The screen of my phone became a crazy multi-colored random pattern. Thankfully, electronic cleaner evaporates away pretty quickly, so a couple hours later, the phone was working again -- though still without a functioning volume button.

I'm irritated with myself for missing work, but I have to remind myself that it was always still be there tomorrow. I'm about to start some intensive training to teach our company's safety classes. It's a bit of a change from my normal routine, so I'm kind of excited about it. I was hoping to be able to teach the class to all my communications colleagues in Paris in October, but unfortunately, I won't get to do that.

One productive thing did happen today. A guy from craiglist showed up this evening and bought my old TV stand. I think it cost $99 when I bought it in college. After 12 years, I sold it for $20. That's not too bad. One more strike against the clutter. However, I'm thinking garage sale may be the next step. I need to sort through the attic, decide if I really want to keep those old albums on cassette or not, and just do it.

I'm going back to bed. I've got to get into the office early tomorrow to pick up the slack I dropped today.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The projects keep moving forward ... slowly

The one and only reason I have the chance to play with the toys I play with is because I do all the work myself. However, that doesn't mean the work goes fast. For the past two months I keep saying it will be just one more weekend to finish the woodwork on the boat. It's still not done, but I did actually make some progress this weekend.

From BlogPhotos

I got the trim stained on the inside of the companionway.

From BlogPhotos

As well as the trim along the cabinets and pantry.

From BlogPhotos

And the windows.

I still haven't done the trim for the bulkheads, but any progress is good progress.

Meanwhile, Ben has begun a new phase on the Cobra project -- in the form of a Paxton-supercharged 460-horsepower 32-valve DOHC 4.6 liter V8.

From BlogPhotos

The question is, how long until he starts it? It took him three years to get the Cobra driveable. I have a hard time believing he's going to hack it back up now. I guess we'll see.

From BlogPhotos

So projects aside, we still had time for some fun this weekend and went sailing Saturday night.

From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos

Back to work in the morning.

Secret lovers

From BlogPhotos

My dog and the squirrel do this on a regular basis. There's a lot of staring at each other while Dixie whines and the squirrel chatters.

I really don't know what would happen if the squirrel came down the tree. The odds are Dixie would grab it and shake it like a rag doll. Then again, something tells me that they might be secret lovers, their embrace forbidden by the difference of their species.

They were both being still enough to actually be photographed today, so I snapped these two shots and stitched them together for Gizmodo's Shooting Challenge. This week's theme was Diptych. That's sort of a before and after, bookends type thing. Doubt I'll win, but hopefully I'll get posted in the gallery.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Waiting for the shooting stars

I'm sitting on the boat at the marina. Yes, that's right. Thank to MyWi I now have Internet access on the boat.

No signs of the meteor shower yet, but the sky is clearing as the evening goes on, so there's hope that I may catch a glimpse of something catching ablaze as it enters our atmosphere. If I'd had someone to come with me I would have ventured out into the bay for a better view, but I was too nervous to attempt anchoring alone.

Of course, I couldn't resist taking a few shots around the marina with the Leica X1 when I got here. It does pretty damn good in the dark. I'm still struggling a little with a prime versus a zoom because I would have loved to get a close-up shot of a herring on top of a pilon, but I think the results are still pretty damn good.

From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos

Let's check out some stars!

The Perseid Meteor Shower goes down tonight. You can use this handy-dandy Fluxtimator to see when the most celestial activity will happen in your area.

Dallas is the nearest city listed on the chart, so I'm assuming that Houston will also have the most visible activity between 3 and 5 a.m.

As I don't have work tomorrow, I think I may load up the dog and go spend the night on the boat to see the show. It just depends on whether or not we have cloud cover tonight. I may attempt to catch some groovy time-lapse photos of the event as well, but as the boat is constantly moving, I'd have to find a place on land to set up for that.

If you've never experienced a meteor shower, it's something you never forget.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where's Ben Stein when you need him?

I could have probably claimed pink eye and called in sick to work today. My allergies are out of control. I don't know what could be pollinating in this 110-degree heat, but something is tearing me up. (Actually if you read that as tearing, i.e. tearing paper, or as tearing, i.e. tears from an eye, either would be correct.)

From BlogPhotos
Unhappy eyeball

Due to the brake wear light continuing to glow from my dash panel, I swapped the rear brake pads, rotors and sensors on my car last night. I probably had another six months on those pads, but once I had them out, I decided I might as well do the entire job. The rotors were due anyway. Plus, it's less clutter sitting around the garage. Unfortunately, the brake wear light continues to shine, so there must be something wrong with the one or both of the brake sensors I used in the front. I contacted the eBay seller to see if he'll do a return or exchange. It's just a huge pain in the ass because everytime I deal with them, it means jacking up the car and removing a wheel. It would be nice if the seller would just send me another one for free. We'll see how quickly he responds and what he will do to escape the wrath of my negative feedback.

I ended up with three photo shoots today between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. If it wasn't for those, I would have probably called in sick and attempted to induce some sort of allergy medication coma. I may at least go search for some Clear Eyes or something before the shoots. This is miserable.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's marriage season

It seems all of my cousins are getting marrried off this year. We had one go in July, two are slated for August and then another in October. Of course, with Ben and myself being ship captains, I was really starting to get disappointed that not a single relative had asked either of us to marry them at sea.

Of course, most of the family is scared to set foot on the boat for fear of winding up on Gilligan's Island, but I assure you, my iPhone can navigate us home (as long as the battery doesn't die). Then there's the fact that neither of us are married, but to that I say, neither are the priests (unless you count God) that marry all the Catholics in the world.

I was all set to turn the boat into a floating one-hour chapel until I did a little research. Did you know that the entire captain-can-marry-you-at-sea thing is a myth? Yes, it was disheartening to me as well, but Cecil at The Straight Dope goes into extreme detail in explaining it all.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Grant me patience.

Yesterday I listed several items on craigslist. I know there will always be haggling when it comes to anything on craigslist, but I listed a 600w surround sound stereo for $20. The thing hadn't been used in years, and it was just taking up space with speakers and wires sitting around everywhere.

I thought I had been very clear in the posting and I had put multiple pictures of the unit in the ad, but the very first guy to respond asks if it plays DVDs. I promptly and kindly reply that it does not, but that a television, DVD player or iPod can be hooked to it.

He responds back asking for more photos or a copy of the user manual. I'm a little irritated as there are very clear photos in the ad, but I go look up the model number on Onkyo's web site and send him the link to the user manual.

About 15 minutes later a flood of email began with people wanting to buy the stereo. It was sold within the hour. I removed the ad from craigslist.

Today, the guy emails around noon saying that he has reviewed the user manual and that he will offer $15 for the stereo but not a penny more.

Really?!!! It was $20 for a stereo for which I paid $350. No, it didn't have HDMI, but come on. It took quite a bit of self control to compose a reply that only said, "Sorry, the stereo has been sold," instead of going into a diatribe about how the guy needs to get a clue.

In the meantime I'm STILL patiently waiting for my tachometer to be shipped by Rex Marine. I did break down and email them today. They said that Faria gauges were now arriving daily, and that hopefully mine would show up this week. If I'd known what a fiasco it was going to be to get a black-faced diesel tachometer I would have just gone with the white-faced gauges. Anyway, nothing to do but wait.
From Starwind 27
(What the control panel would look like if we had the tachometer. This was the original one with a magnetic pick-up that had to be returned. The white fuel gauge is just a placeholder until we can afford the $250 depth sounder that will go in that spot.)

Anyway, trying to be patient and doing more interviews for this newsletter story this afternoon. All these interviews are making me feel like a reporter again.

Back to work.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Weekends are too short

I'd say it was a succesful weekend although I can't believe it's already Sunday night.

Friday evening I did more housework. I washed the dog because she was stinking up the place.

From BlogPhotos

Then I scrubbed down the shower. I probably don't scrub down the shower often enough. There was enough mold in the corners that I thought I was on the boat.

Friday night I finally saw Kick-Ass. My friends have been raving about that movie for months now. I thought the previews looked terrible. It actually was pretty good. Stupid ... but funny. It wasn't the kids movie I expected it to be. It was extremely violent. Kids should not watch Kick-Ass.

Saturday I helped Nikki move out of her apartment. I'm feeling that a bit in the lower back today. We got it all moved, though. Then it was into town to pick up my college friend Kristina who was in town for some kind of hotel conference. I hadn't seen her since 1999.

From BlogPhotos
(Kristina and Nikki)

We did a bit of catching up and people watching in Rice Village. The dance floor at Brian O'Neal's was a trip.

From BlogPhotos

Rockets jersey sunglasses guy was cracking us up. The biggest question was, how did he even get into the bar in a Rockets jersey as most places have a ban on tank tops altogether.

Then we stumbled across some lost undies on the way back to the car.

From BlogPhotos

Lost undies at the marina I can understand, but lost undies in Rice Village?!!!

I got my front brake pads replaced this afternoon. I've got to edit the video this week for the DIY Porsche forums. The guys at Firestone said the rear brakes looked ok, so despite the fact that I have pads and rotors for the rear, I thought I'd hold off on those. However, my Brake Wear light is still on, so I guess I'll inspect them to see if I need to do those as well this week.

In another strike against the clutter, I got an old stereo system sold on craiglist. That makes one less thing sitting in the living room. Unfortunately I have yet to have any response on my ads for the old TVs and VHS collection. I guess even college kids have upgraded to DVD at this point.

I finally found an iPhone app for tethering that works. I installed MyWi 4.0 tonight, and it worked great. It was much faster than when we used Ben's Droid.

From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos

I'm off to bed. Hopefully now that all the moving and car maintenance are out the way I can spend all of next weekend on the boat.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Moving on

Ok, I gargled with some dirt, and I'm done with my pity party. It was nothing three more cups of coffee couldn't fix. I've got no place whining about allergies, sinus pain and sore throats when I'm blessed with the use of all my limbs and remain VD free.

I visited my sister and her family last night. My not-quite-2-year-old nephew presented a shooting challenge for the X1. Leica digitals have never been known for the speed of their autofocus. I was trying to use the face-detect setting, but capturing a constantly moving, spastic child was difficult. I abandoned autofocus and started pre-focusing the manual focus, then grabbing the shot when he was in range. I still didn't do a very good job. As you can see here, the pillows are in focus instead of his face.

From Family Time

It was MUCH easier to catch adults in focus. Check out the sharpness of the lettering on the cake. THAT is what Leica is known for ...

From Family Time

Then to my surprise, when I got home I found the vintage Leica Vidom Viewfinder had arrived. The 36mm X1 Brightview Viewfinder is $350! Considering the viewfinder does absolutely nothing except allow you to frame the photo without turning on the LCD, I found this completely outrageous. Many companies have been making these viewfinders for decades, so while I wasn't able to find a 36mm, I did find an adjustable 35mm - 135mm finder on eBay. Going back and forth between the LCD and the viewfinder, I was able to adjust it to the exact frame of the X1. Plus, I can set it for use with teleconverters as well.
From BlogPhotos

From what I understand, the viewfinder was manufactured circa 1933. That puts it at 77 years old, and it still functions perfectly! Now THAT is quality. However, there's a downside. It mirrors the image when you look through it. No idea why, but apparently that was the standard back then. This is going to take some getting used to because first instinct when framing a shot is to pan the opposite direction of that you actually meant to go. Still, for a savings of over $300, I can deal with it.

I'm currently writing a human interest piece about a volunteer who has been teaching French classes for almost two years now, and the class has grown into sort of a high school French Club for adults. He actually has a few students that have made it to a conversational level. Anyway, I'm shooting the class for the article on Wednesday, and that will be my first attempt at using the X1 "for reals." I'm still taking my Nikon as backup, but hopefully the X1 won't let me down.

I want to go work on the boat sooooo bad. I miss it. Unfortunately, I need to help Nikki move out of her apartment on Saturday, and I need to a brake job on my car. The upside to the brake job is that it just happens to coincide with Horsepower TVs call for talent. I was going to videotape the procedure for the Porsche forums anyway, so why not throw my tape into the ring. I've always regretted that I didn't send an audition tape for the first Survivor. Maybe this is my chance to make it to cable.


It's never a good morning when you look down into your nearly-empty coffee cup, and you see two large chunks of puss that you have backwashed out of your throat.

I thought this issue was resolved when I had my tonsils removed a few years back, which is not a pleasant experience as an adult. However, I guess I should have had my adenoids removed as well because lately the headaches have been getting worse and worse despite the frequent sinus rinses -- and now this. Then again, maybe my tonsils are growing back. I've heard of that happening before. It would be just my luck to have crazy regenerative lizard tonsils. I'm just so sick of being tired and run-down all the time.

The problem stems from being allergic to every plant on the planet. I do better when I spend a lot of time at the marina because it's so hot and humid, but I think my only options for an allergy free life are the north pole, Antarctica or staying more than 100 miles offshore at all times. None of those solutions are feasible or tempting at this point in my life, so I guess I'll go buy another box of Claritin and head to the doctor for my quarterly dose of antibiotics.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I'm so sleepy

I haven't been able to sleep for over a week now. I don't know what's wrong with me. I've actually found myself avoiding going to bed at night, so I'll do extra long workouts, edit photos, type on my book or clean house until midnight. Then I'll freak out that I'm up so late when my days start at 5:30 a.m.

I was tired yesterday, but it's really hitting me today. The dog got me up at 5 a.m. to go outside, but I laid back down. Instead of kicking on NPR, the clock radio dial must have wandered because it just played a staticky hum that I slept right through. I woke up at 7:50, already 20 minutes late to the office.

There is a lot going on with my life -- trying to stay ahead of my finances while trying to launch a consulting business, trying to figure out a relationship and if I jump back in or let it go, trying to put together a ten-year roadmap for where I want to be. I find myself thinking more and more that I want to be able to quit the rat race and attempt a circumnavigation. Of course, that plan doesn't jibe with the traditional plan of getting married and having kids, etc.

However, last week I watched this documentary called Deep Water. It's available for instant play on Netflix. It's about the first solo non-stop sailing race around the world that took place in the late 1960s. The main character of interest was this engineer who left his wife and four kids sitting in England while he entered the race. Unfortunately, he was a terrible sailor and his trimaran was poorly constructed and plagued with problems.

This engineer decided to just float off the coast of Brazil while faking his log for months while the other contestants circled the globe. Then once they sailed back past him, he was going to follow up the rear and return to England as if he had also circled the globe. Unfortunately, the solitude made him batshiat crazy, as evidenced by his rambling manifestos where he starts discussing his transcendence into a celestial being. Slowly, all the other contestants except one are forced to drop out of the race. Instead of showing up last and being able to pass off his log books without much scrutiny, he would be setting the circumnavigation speed record if he returned to England. Knowing his fraud would be exposed, he ends up committing suicide just 700 miles from the finish, and a cruise ship finds his trimaran floating, empty and tattered in the middle of the ocean.

Obviously, his family was devastated. Then to add to their loss, the guy's press agent has all of his logs published, so he becomes this international figure of mockery and disdain, which was even harder on the family.

Things don't really get under my skin, but I have not been able to stop thinking about it all. I think that maybe I saw too much of myself in that poor engineer -- the driving need and ambition to achieve something great but with the overwhelming fear of failure. Would I have the mental stability to go a year without human contact or would I go crazy as well? Sometimes I worry about my mental stability WITH human contact.

And the engineer wasn't the only guy to go crazy. A Frenchman competing in the race would have won except as he finished his circumnavigation, he started questioning the whole point of life and society and decided that instead of finishing the race, he'd just keep sailing and go round the world again.

Things are different today. There's satellites to keep track of you and let you communicate with the outside world. Then again, it's your choice whether you allow communication or if you lock yourself off into a world where you are the only being -- both god and man.

I don't think I shall attempt a solo voyage of that length. I don't want to know where my mind would go.

To exercise the mind ...

I know everyone with a television in the United States has seen the commercials for neoprene belly wraps that shrink your waist by inches. Well, what if you want to break a mental sweat?

From BlogPhotos

My invention isn't guaranteed to help you lose weight, but it will shrink your ego!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

This one's for all the readers down Mexico way

More pointless photography

I'm still putting this camera through its paces. I'm getting faster with the manual focus, but it's still a bitch compared to a barrel focus. Anyway, the last thing you want to do is start relying on a camera for work when you don't know its limitations, so I keep shooting, and I keep learning. In the meantime, you're stuck with pointless shots like these.

From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos

Racing up Pikes Peak

I've climbed mountains in Colorado, but I didn't know you could actually race up them? I want to do this!

In other Porsche news, someone forwarded me Porsche North America's press release that the 918 Hybrid is indeed going into limited production. Chalk this one up to something none of us will ever be able to afford. Hopefully the development creates some technology gains for the industry before they become museum pieces.

Green Light for Series Development of the 918 Spyder

Decision Made Today by the Porsche Supervisory Board

ATLANTA – July 28, 2010 – In its session today, the Supervisory Board of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, gave the green light to series development of the Porsche 918 Spyder. Reflecting the overwhelming response from the public and customers to the Concept Study, the Supervisory Board gave Porsche’s board of Management the mission to develop a production model based on the car already presented. This concept version of an ultra-high-performance mid-engined sports car with plug-in hybrid technology made its debut at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show and at Auto China in Beijing, hitting headlines worldwide.

Michael Macht, President and Chairman of the Board of Management of Porsche AG: “Production of the 918 Spyder in a limited series proves that we are taking the right approach with Porsche Intelligent Performance featuring the combination of supreme performance and efficient drivetrain concepts. We will develop the 918 Spyder in Weissach and assemble it in Zuffenhausen. This is also a very important commitment to Germany as a manufacturing base.”

The Concept Study of the 918 Spyder allows CO2 emissions of just 70 g/km, corresponding to fuel consumption of 3.0 liter/100 km (94.1 mpg imp) in the New European Driving Cycle, on the one hand, and the performance of a super-sports car, on the other. This extremely efficient drivetrain technology forms a symbiosis in the 918 Spyder with truly outstanding design and high-tech motorsport achievements. Further product details of the 918 Spyder will be disclosed in the months to come.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A spontaneous project

The operation.

From BlogPhotos


From BlogPhotos

Total frustration.

From BlogPhotos


From BlogPhotos


From BlogPhotos

I had an old Nikon 18-70mm kit lens at the office with a messed up shutter. One day it just stopped firing and when it occasionaly did fire, it wasn't in focus. Nikon wanted $200 just to look at it. Then would then call me to give me a price for repairing it on top of the $200. I decided to take a look instead.

Ummm, haven't figured it out yet. This is the first lens I've ever taken apart. It's going to take me a bit to digest the way this all works. However, I started playing around with it a bit and found that the outer element does make a great macro teleconverter on the Leica X1.

Here's the closest macro shot I can get in focus with the X1.

From BlogPhotos

And here's one with the macro teleconverter.

From BlogPhotos

Maybe I can bump the f-stop to increase the depth of field. I don't know.

I'm going to go work out now.

Parking the car was never so exciting

It's been more than three years since I've parked my car in my own garage, but in yet another massive strike against the clutter, tonight is a night to be remembered.

From BlogPhotos

I'm really thankful Ben was so helpful with the garage cleaning. He did a lot of it. Of course, he was going to have to do it to be able to pull off his planned engine swap in the Cobra, so my ability to park in there may be shortlived, but oh well. For now, I'm satisfied.

Unfortunately, I never could get my iPhone and my Netbook to tether. However, Ben did get his Droid to tether using PDANet, and it was fast enough to play back Hulu, so if he is with me at the boat I now have Internet access. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to get the iPhone working.

I'm a little disappointed I didn't have time to get a workout in tonight because I'm way behind on that. However, I expected the garage cleaning to take multiple nights, so I guess I'm actually ahead.

Also, my brake pads and wear sensors finally showed up via UPS today. Now that the garage is clean, I need to plan my how-to video. This will be the first one I can actually shoot indoors.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Farewell cable, hello jailbreak

The cable is gone. I spent years without it. I'm sure I can do it again. Although I did watch a couple hours of Shark Week on Discovery last night, that was the first time I had really watched anything in weeks. I just couldn't justify the ever-increasing price of AT&T U-verse, which has gone up twice in the past year. The price was getting a bit ridiculous considering my subscription didn't include any HD channels and I wasn't paying for DVR. First off, at this point, why are carriers even offering the non-HD channels as standard? Secondly, with no DVR, I was relying on Hulu to watch any shows I missed. Even if Hulu does start charging $9.95 a month, that's still FAR cheaper than what I was paying for this pathetic 100-channel cable package. If the cable companies don't get a clue soon, they're going to find themselves going the way of record companies and end up completely replaced by iTunes and Amazon.

The other problem with the cable is that it's useless to me on the boat, which is where I spend most weekends anyway. However, I am very excited that jailbreaking is now available for the iPhone OS 4.0.1. Now I can tether my netbook, so that I can post and upload photos from the boat instead of being stuck waiting until I get home. However, I AM without a DOUBT going to finish sanding the interior this weekend, so I may not take the computer and new camera with me due to the amount of sawdust that I have found infilitrates the nooks and crannies of EVERYTHING.

One of my many second cousins is getting married in August, so my parents and grandparents will be visiting Houston. I really hope they have time to visit the marina because I'm so excited to be able to take them out sailing.

By the way, if you want to jailbreak your iPhone, all you have to do is open Safari and visit Yep, that's it. It will download and install automatically. Then install PDANet if you want to tether a computer.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


I actually got through my to-do list today. I feel so productive and accomplished. The living room and kitchen got completely scrubbed down and freed of clutter. The bedroom and the bathroom got scrubbed and mostly decluttered as well. There's still a couple pictures to hang and some books to put away, but for the most part it's clean.

I got all the trash cleared out of the garage and set by the curb. No, I'm still nowhere near being able to park my car in the garage, but we're taking baby steps.

I don't know what to do about clutter. I hate it, but it's a constant battle for me. I grew up in a family where we saved EVERYTHING. There was no telling when that broken piece of such-and-such could be utilized to fix something else. And yes, I've had moments where I was so thankful that I had an extra broken Roomba laying around, so I could swap out the cliff sensors or move that old DVD player into a new computer, but for the most part ... it's just a bunch of junk. My brother is worse than I am because he doesn't mind the clutter, so yes, he has a broken spare Xbox360 with all the packaging sitting behind the couch, JUST IN CASE the Xbox360 he hardly ever uses needs spare parts.

At some point I have to start paring things down to conquer the clutter. I've got to stop saving all the boxes and manuals for every piece of electronics I purchase. I've got to throw out old magazines. There's no way I could survive on a boat living this cluttered lifestyle. I need to be open a drawer and have the things I need organized and at my fingertips, not a bunch of junk crammed in there so tightly that I can never get the drawer shut again.

So yes, I need to continue de-cluttering. I've got a couple old TVs, a VCR and an entire VHS collection I need to give away on craigslist. I also need to get the boat cushions cleaned, so they're out of the house and back in the boat where they belong. But first, I shall continue with the garage. My new goal is the get the British Seagull cleaned and migrated from the floor at the front of the garage to the workbench and to get my car parked in there beside the Cobra.

Between cleaning jobs I shot a few more photos with the X1.

From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos

The Leica has landed

The surprise of the weekend was that when I arrived home from the boat Saturday evening, the Leica X1 was waiting for me on the porch. I couldn't resist unboxing it, but being so late I didn't have time to really play with it.

From BlogPhotos

Few companies really put much thought into their packaging. Jawbone and Powermat are the only two other brands where I've opened a box and found the packaging almost as intriguing as the product inside. However, Leica really outdid themselves with the X1 packaging. You pull one tab, and the silver outer box falls away from the black interior box.

From BlogPhotos

The interior box has the camera in the top tier. Then one pull out drawer holds user manuals in several different languages while the other drawer holds the battery, charger, cables, country plug adapters, etc.

From BlogPhotos

The package I won on eBay included not only the X1 but also a leather case and an extra battery. However, after playing with it all day, battery life doesn't seem to be a problem. Then again, since there's no optical viewfinder, I'm guessing that the LCD probably drains it faster than a regular DSLR, which can operate with the LCD completely off.

The camera has f-stop and shutter speed dials right on top, and ISO is quickly accesible with a button on the back. Unlike other upscale point-and-shoots I've used, you don't have to switch into manual mode and hunt through menus to choose your settings. There's no clunky manual mode. Flippng the dials off A gets you right to the setting. It's very nice.

I've been on a mission to clean house all morning, but I took a few shots while Nikki and I were washing cars. Of course, Picasa compressed these shots when I uploaded them, so the full detail isn't there, but they look pretty nice.

From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos
From BlogPhotos

More to come later. I have to clean my bedroom, do some grocery shopping and spend some time with the user manual this afternoon.