Antenna Secured

The snow is finally off the back yard and Steph and I were able to secure our HD antenna. We’ve been off the TV grid for a while, which means we rely on this antenna for local free HD content. Along with streaming Netflix and ROKU we have all the media we need, and love saving that ever increasing $60 satellite bill.

Problem was, the wind blew the thing around. It was just stuck in the ground, after all. So we went to ACE this morning and bought some tent stakes and some cord. Did a three point tie-down, and now it’s tight. Totally unattractive and crooked, but tight!

Why I decided to put the antenna near the air vent for our underground bunker, I don’t know, must have been drunk. B.T.W. that house in the trees straight back is our closest neighbor, and we’ve never met them. Or seen them…

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First Photo

My new DMC-FX78 arrived this afternoon. I ran around shooting things at random, back to the computer to check the PDF, tweaking the settings, setting it to 1024×768 * 2, auto stuff on, auto stuff off and finally: one shot emerged after about 50. Introducing my first photo with the new camera:

I’ve been looking at the large, which is really half of the resolution I shot it at, (2048×1536), and I’m really impressed. Great detail and it seems to jump out of the frame. It’s Friday and I’m going to go soak in the hot-tub under a gorgeous Teton night.

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Categorized as Cameras

New Flickr Account

I’m totally ready for that new camera. I just signed up for a premium Flickr account with unlimited upload capacity for one year at $24.99.

I’ve redone the Vegas posts to process Flickr sets, as opposed to storing them on my server. See: Notes from the Strip ( 7 ) and ( 4 ).

WordPress and the plugin community are blowing my mind. I’ve been able to put together an amazingly slick website in a very short amount of time.

Of course, my tech chops are high and my knowledge base is deep. I read PHP, MySQL, JavaScript and jQuery like other people read children’s books…

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Tetons Header Photo

I took that picture of the Grand Tetons in the header above, it’s not a stock photo. The original is actually quite a large photo with much more detail, taken off Stateline Road between Idaho and Wyoming. The blog required a 940×198 image so I just cropped out a section, thus no resizing needed. Here’s a reduced view of the original:

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Panasonic DMC-FX78

I’ve been holding off buying a new camera since my Olympus Evolt bit the dust last summer. It was a digital SLR with interchangeable lens and I just plum wore the shutter out. This new one (which hasn’t even arrived yet) is a point and shoot, with style.

I bought Riley a Panasonic Lumix DHC-FH20 for his birthday last December. At the time it was very highly rated, with multiple awards. I watched Riley use it last week, in fact the Vegas shots were from his camera, and I was impressed. So I went looking for a Panasonic.

The DMC-FX78 is their current top of the line in this category. It’s a 12.1 MP Digital Camera with a 5x f/2.5 ultra wide angle optical image stabilized zoom lens and a 3.5-inch touch LCD on the back. The thing has no buttons on the back, just a touch screen.

Technical Details:

3.5-inch High Resolution LCD – Large 3.0-inch LCD features high 230K-dot resolution Intelligent LCD with Touch Screen

Venus Engine VI – The high-speed, high-performance Venus Engine VI is incorporated in the camera to enable the recording of beautiful images with higher quality signal processing including the Intelligent Resolution technology

iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode – When you don’t know which mode will give you the best shooting results, or when a sudden photo opportunity pops up and you don’t have time to change any settings, simply choose the iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode and let the camera do it all for you.

The MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) – Compensates for the blurring caused by hand-shake. Even slight hand-shake movement is accurately detected by a sampling frequency of 4,000 times per second, and compensated to produce sharp, clear images.

Front and back images:

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Vegas Notes 7

Back home and processing photos…

SlideShow (Vegas 2011)

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Vegas Notes 6

Last night in Vegas and it was clear and warm. The scheme was to take the Duece down to the south strip and meet the kids for dinner at Hooters at 6pm. The Duece was jammed so I ended up hoofing the 3+ miles through a throbbing mob filled with illegal Mexicans trying to thrust hooker cards into my hand every ten feet. Seriously! They have pictures of the hooker with her going rate and her phone number on them. You don’t even bother to deny them with a hand gesture, you just try to not knock them over.

Got to Hooters 20 min late which is totally not like me. The place was a zoo and we got stuck in the back behind a table full of ex Serbian soccer players with loud voices, large stomachs and way too much testosterone. Really loud there and the food was crappy. Oh well, the company was great.

After dinner we went back to the kids room at the Excaliber (much nicer then mine), made drinks to go and hit the Strip. One thing I found out about Riley is that once he starts drinking he has to pee a lot, so we were getting a good look inside the resorts as we headed North.

Another very fun thing Riley and I decided to do was accept every hooker card shoved at us. What a pair we were, grabbing cards left and right while escorting the lovely Jessica wearing a hot little black dress.

There was a guy on one corner blaring Jesus stuff through a megaphone as I was telling the kids about the Congressman in trouble for twittering his crotch to a young Seattle girl. We were right next to the guy and I waited until he stopped his rant for a second and I screamed out “His last name was Weiner” which cracked up the crowd and even made megaphone guy grin.

Riley snapped a picture of me posing with a couple of hotties in shorts, which is sitting on his camera. When he gets home and sends it to me, I’ll include it here.

After watching the water and light show at the Mirage (or was it the Belagio), which was truly spectacular by the way, we got a great spot in front of the pirate show at Treasure Island. Riley said he had to pee and that he’d be right back. So, Jess and I watched the show while the crowds pressed in. After a while we started wondering were Riley was. He finally showed up after pretty much missing the show and sheepishly told us that he had gotten lost. Took a wrong turn out of the bathroom and ended up on the other side of the hotel. Glad he found us, it could have been bad since Jess’s cell phone had died and I don’t carry one.

We finally called it a night, hugged and said our goodbyes and headed back to our rooms. I’m writing this as the Greyhound rolls north towards Salt Lake City. I’ll email it when I can snag some internet, and this concludes my Notes from the Strip. Thanks for reading!

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Vegas Notes 5

Things I’ve learned in Vegas:

Always put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door when you’re in the room, otherwise, you hear a lot of foreign language apologies as the maid backs out the door, like you’re really doing something other than sitting in front of your netbook fully clothed.

My maid is going blind. She can’t distinguish between Shampoo and Lotion. I now have three lotions and no shampoo.

Best place to stash your cash in the room is under the anti-fungal can.

Coin slot machines are gone. The Circus had the last ones on the strip, last time I was here, so I brought my bag of quarters. I’ll be cashing them in for cash…

I’m not sure, but I think Keno has gone the way of the coin. I keep lookin but I ain’t seein.

There are more timeshare salespeople on the Strip than hookers. The reason I’m sitting here writing this, as opposed to “Being On The Strip”, is because I’m waiting for Riley and Jess to finish the timeshare presentation they got sucked into for a “Free Show” their first night in.

Coffee is expensive. I went for a $6.99 breakfast special here at the Circus this morning and the deal was kind of soured when they charged me $2.99 for coffee.

My legs still work. In fact, they’re getting stronger each day. Think I’ll hit the Strip!

Hope you’re all doing well.

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Categorized as Strip Notes

Vegas Notes 4

Met up with Riley and Jessica at the Excalibur for breakfast buffet. They were looking good and tan having come out of Phoenix. We hit the Strip, heading North.

Fun time, Riley’s first Vegas. Lots of pics. At one point I was playing camera guy to a bunch of couples but I managed to grab a couple of Riley and Jess. They are engaged. Happened last Monday. I’m going to include some pics of the kids here. I shot these with the cam I got Riley for Xmas, a Lumix.

Today we had drinks and went to the Fremont Experience in downtown. Riley talked us into this thing that strapped us up to a wire five stories above the street and we flew on this zip-line over about four blocks of people and events.

Much fun! I have to get this up quick to meet the kids for the Belagio water show at 9pm.

SlideShow (Riley and Jess in Vegas)

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Vegas Notes 3

I feel like Chevy Chase without the wife and kids. How the hell did I end up here? It started out as a one day layover on the way to a Grand Canyon train ride with Sis and Steph. We bailed on that after figuring gas would be at $5 now.

Meanwhile, Riley and Jessica decided to meet us here for a day while going to Phoenix. So I decided a week in Vegas without the girlfriend, who has no paid vacation and would lose a lot of needed payroll content, was a good idea.

Hey, it’s still cool! Riley and Jess are coming in this afternoon for three nights. I love my boy and can’t wait to see his reaction to this crazy city. No idea what we’re going to do…

Yesterday I walked from the Circus to the Excalibur, where the kids are staying. My GPS told me that at 2.4 mph walking speed it took me 1 hour to go the 3 miles. That didn’t count all the damn bridges you have to go over because the underlying intersections are pedestrian killers. Hmmm, I live in a county that has only one stop light…

The Deuce bus brought me back. ($7 for a 24 hour pass).

Today I walked the opposite direction, towards the old downtown. It was the land of infinite Bail Bond places and Wedding Chapels. It was about the same distance, but this time I was wondering about my legs giving out and the prospect of flagging down a cab, having him lift me into his ride and take me back to the Circus. At which point I would need to rent crutches to get me to my room. Fortunately, I’m still walking, only because I spent another $7 and took the Duece back.

These legs of mine better hold up because we’ve got 3 NIGHTS of Vegas fun to look forward to.

Update, just got an email from Riley:

Leaving a bit late dad. . . Be there later then thought, call if you get a chance. . . Might have service.

Sigh…

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Vegas Notes 2

This morning I was in search of a more “upscale” breakfast so I hobbled (my legs are tired) over to the decadent opulence of the Wynn Resort. This is quite the joint! Four story ceilings and marbled floors with Madonna purring out soft porn hip hop with a strong back beat over a sound system that follows you everywhere.

I strolled across a casino floor as big as a football field in search of the Terrace Point Cafe. I was out of breath when I arrived but they seated me quickly at the counter. The cute waitress offered me a Bloody Mary before she set the menu down. I declined.

Ok, pretty upscale place. I was torn between the $16 Corned Beef Hash and the $23 Maine Lobster Benedict. I ordered the hash, not because I’m cheap, I just like hash. It was then that I asked my first of many stupid questions today, “You guys make your own hash?”. I always ask this. She said “Of course, it is the Wynn after all”. I knew then that I was in a special place…

The food arrived in a hot black skillet. Two eggs over easy lying gracefully over potatoes and strings of red tasty hash. The bread was served in a basket wrapped up in a napkin to keep it warm. The water had a straw.

It was pretty good, and filling. The waitress asked me if I was coming back for lunch. I said “No, maybe dinner…” and she said “The only way you would see me for dinner is if we had dinner together, the Cafe closes at 3”.

My jaw must have dropped an inch and all I could do was smile at her. Us old guys do rule, but we don’t get openings like that very often. If I was looking I would have called her hand in a heartbeat. I’m still smiling as I sit in my little room writing this and Madonna is still purring inside my head.

Love you Steph!

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Vegas Notes 1

I always thought that Memorial Day was all about eating, right? I had breakfast yesterday and barely remember it. So today, eat!

Started out with the breakfast buffet here at the Circus. Good, didn’t eat a ton, just a standard breakfast with fruit for dessert.

Then about noon I got a craving for a hamburger and potato salad so I headed down the Strip. I’m thinking that maybe I’ll get a private invite to a high-roller barbeque on the roof of the Mirage just because I’m wearing my “Old Guys Rule” shirt and I’m ruggedly handsome.

A while later, still hungry, I happened upon an authentic Mexican taco joint. Close, right? The place was full of Spanish speaking tourists who were treating the main server guy like some sort of God. I said I wanted a pork taco and everyone applauded. I guess I made the right choice. He said, “Try this” and he scraped some meat off a big barbeque pig mounted on a big stick, and put it in a small taco with other good stuff. As it’s going in my mouth and my thumb goes up, the place burst into applause again. I paid for the $2.00 taco and took it outside to eat in the sun. If I hadn’t gotten sauce on my shirt I would have gone back for more.

Back in my room now, wondering what’s next, and moving on to the next shirt.

Happy Memorial Day my friends!

And kudos to the Vets.

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