10.12.10

Hacked and snubbed

First I'd like to apologize for not posting much these days. There really doesn't seem to be anything to write about at this time. Let's see how that goes in the future, shall we?
I'm sure we've all heard about those Chinese hackers. Would you believe they hacked into my gmail account? I couldn't imagine why they'd want to read my oh-so-exciting emails but they apparently did. Google keeps warning me that my account has been hacked with a bright red pop-up. I've already done everything recommended and there was just the one incident and I think it's probably related to my eBay shopping history. I've been buying quite a few things from China in the last couple of months. Hmmmmm ...........
The snubbing is something that occurred at the end of the last school year and I won't go into details in public (I'd be happy to explain in an email, though). The result of it is that we have decided not to hand out our scholarship at Henry's high school any longer. We're moving it to the public high schools in Napa from now on. I feel good about this decision but it took a lot of discussion and doubt and second guessing to finally arrive at this point.

8.11.10

Dear Henry

Dear Henry,

It's been three and a half years today, and it was almost exactly at this time that you died. I still remember it all much too well, that waiting room at San Francisco General, the young doctors and all the other details. The worst day of our lives without doubt.

You're still in my thoughts every day, thankfully not as the first thought of the day, but throughout the day. Good memories and not so good ones. I have your picture right in front of me at the computer, the serious one.

You've missed so much, it's been such a busy year. Good things: Kate got married and it was absolutely beautiful. Wish you could have been there. Not sure you would have enjoyed it, might have had to wear a tux yourself. Dad looked absolutely amazing in his. And Kate was so beautiful, wish you could have seen her. Maybe you did? I don't know.

Not so good things: Grandma died unexpectedly in March and we had a little health scare with Dad. All's well now, but, man that was a bit of a shock.

I'm learning computer things - all by myself, no net, no safety harness, no Henry to help when I get stuck :-) I can make slide shows now, and I have ideas for a few more. Dad and I went to that bridge last week to take a few more pictures for the next one. I know you wouldn't like that, it'll feature you - the Henry I remember didn't like being the center of attention.

We're doing pizza tonight, in your memory. It's a nice way to remember you. We've actually tried out lots of places just with you in mind this summer. I think you'd approve of most of them, maybe not the borderline scuzzy one in Berkeley, but maybe so. The pizza's great.

Miss you lots, as always and wish you'd seen a way out of that situation, something much less drastic.

Much love,

♥Mum♥

P.S. That may well have been a typo, but it's stuck.

P.P.S. We're almost ready to cancel your phone plan and are thinking of what to do with your car. Moving on ......

27.10.10

Bridge Rail Foundation Conference and Workshop


The Bridge Rail Foundation will hold a conference and workshop in San Francisco on November 6, 2010.
More information to be found here:

http://www.bridgerail.org/

20.10.10

Today is/was purple day

Quite a few of my Facebook friends (and plenty of others) are/were wearing purple today in support of the gay teenagers who were harassed so badly they saw no other way out than to take their lives.
There isn't a whole lot I can say about this, I'm not good with words and it's all been said I would think.
I am quite familiar with bullying; always having been on the small and timid side I made an easy target. I am quite certain that bullying also contributed to what happened with Henry. Not necessarily bullying towards the end but along the way. He was a rather sensitive child.
One of my friends said it perfectly in her blog post today: It does get easier. And I can attest to that. One grows up, learns to deal with things, gains a certain distance, realizes that the problem is the other person's (the bully's) and, with any luck, is the stronger for it.
Sometime today I remembered a quote by Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame) I heard recently: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours. So true!

13.10.10

A slide show

video

It worked. Wow. My second "real" slide show. The other one has somewhat cheesy music, this one does not. And I did it all by myself - nobody holding my hand, standing over me, giving advice. Just me and the computer (we aren't such great friends). Maybe there's hope for me yet?

12.10.10

This is October?


I realize this is a pretty crummy picture, BUT .......... it's the middle of October, it's after 3 p.m. and it's 95 degrees outside. What's going on? Yes, I know we had a nice, cool summer and saved tons of money by not having to use the A/C, but this a a bit much. The second or third (I've lost count) heatwave since September. I'm ready for cooler weather, I want to wear jeans again, not little dresses.
Okay, enough whining. I realize I've slipped in my little challenge. Even though I've taken quite a few pictures (my memory card proves it), I haven't uploaded any here (there are a few on FB). But I've learned a new skill in Digicam class: I can make slide shows now and set them to music (if the computer cooperates). There's one on FB and if I could only learn to upload it here, I just might (even though the music is kind of cheesy). I have ideas for many, many more, just need to find the time, take a few more pix and find the motivation. Spending the day in front of the computer is NOT my idea of a good time anymore.

6.10.10

From the archives


I'm cheating here - just a little. I did take this picture myself, just not today. And I won't be taking a lot of pictures until I get all my old ones sorted, organized and stored and possibly off the computer. I still haven't completely wrapped my head around the way I'm supposed to do it. Thankfully, we're not running out of memory yet.
We're taught in class to upload to the computer, Photoshop Elements (whichever version; we're using 7 in class and that's what I have at home but I've only just installed it; version 9 is just out) and to organize into folders there. Then the folders are supposed to be burned to CD's (two copies, one to take the place of negatives, one just to be on the safe side) and, after checking that everything worked, everything is to be deleted from the computer. I'm not quite ready to do that. I'm organizing and deleting bad or unnecessary ones, but I'm not at the point where I can do the rest of what I'm supposed to do.
Who would have thought that photography could get so complicated?

4.10.10

The rock that didn't last


Ever since somebody told me about this beach on the Marin Headlands where you can find rocks with holes that are suitable for wearing on a necklace, we've been looking for those rocks. The beach is Rodeo Beach and the rocks are not easy to find.
But, a couple of weeks ago, I did find one with a perfect hole. Unfortunately, it's much too big to wear as jewelry, but I liked the looks of it, so it came home with me.
This morning I picked it up - it's been sitting on the rail of the deck out back - and it literally fell to bits. Obviously, a case of failure to thrive outside its natural habitat.

3.10.10

Playing with close-ups again

Publish Post
I was going to go "into the archives" for a picture today because, quite honestly, all this editing is very time consuming. Love to take pictures in the first place, but uploading, cropping, signing etc. takes a long, long time. And that's really not my favorite thing to do to start with.
But then I decided to try playing with the aperture (mixed success) and eventually add a macro/magnifying filter and this is what happened. There were a few more, but this is the one I kept coming back to.
I obviously like close-ups best of all and I especially love the fuzzy background effect. Sooner or later, though, I'm sure I'll run out of things to photograph up close :-) My little challenge will continue until the end of the month only. As I said before, it all takes quite a bit of time.

Preventing teen suicide

This was on CBS this morning:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6923266n&tag=channelMore%3BlatestRight

I don't know how to put up this clickable video thingy, so, it's just a simple link.

It's not just about the GGB. It mentions Tyler Clementi and a few programs meant to help young people at risk. Well worth watching.

2.10.10

Today's picture

Today's picture was hard to decide on - there were three in the running. This one was one of my choices (I had two) , my husband had yet another favorite.
I'll let you decide which you like best, the others are here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=232476&id=708398128&l=18fb3b95de
My other choice was the stagecoach, my husband liked the sign that advised not to put kids in "wheelbarrels."

1.10.10

Somebody deserves hazard pay for this one

The picture quality leaves something to be desired, BUT ..... this was shot through the windshield in a moving car on the back of the truck in front of us. Obviously, I was NOT driving, but I still do NOT recommend doing this. There was a lot of complaining about he bumpy road, the inability to focus the camera and various other problems. But this was the one and only shot I took and I think it's acceptable.

30.9.10

Weed of the day

No, there won't be a new challenge: weed of the day. I'm just running out of ways to say "picture of the day."
Obviously, it's a dandelion gone to seed (and the neighbors will all be happy to be gifted - NOT!).
I took Jerry for a walk this morning and left the camera at home. Mistake! Saw lots of things that I thought would make for good pictures. So, after we got back home, I grabbed the camera, jumped in the car and went back to where there were photo opportunities.
I took quite a few and figured it would be difficult to decide on just one. But, once they were cropped a bit, it became quite obvious which is the best. Too much background made the shot a bit disappointing, but this way, I quite like it. And I didn't do anything else, no editing other than cropping out the background and reducing the size of the image.

29.9.10

Picture of the day

Not a great picture - I apologize. The light was wrong (mid-day is bad), I was too far away. But all the other pictures I took today are of similar quality and this one is more interesting, so it'll have to do.
I drove by Planned Parenthood on my way to the library and the Pro Lifers were out - not in force, it's too hot, and there never are more than a few, a dozen at most.
Oh, and by the way, I am NOT expressing an opinion with any of the pictures I take. If I do, I'll say so. Otherwise, it's just a picture.

An evening with Joan Baez

Last night we saw Joan Baez perform at the Napa Valley Opera House. I was a huge fan way back when - in my teens and twenties (and that really was a long time ago).
The voice has changed a bit, gotten older, not so high (as she said herself), but the songs are still as enjoyable as ever, the message is still there and she does not at all look almost 70. She's tiny, I had no idea. And I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one whose jeans are always too long.
She brought along her mother (who's 97) and who has apparently managed her and probably still does; her son, who did percussion; an assistant, who changed guitars between songs and a guy named Dirk Powell who accompanied her on just about everything with strings and the keyboard (there was a joke about him leaving his trumpet at home).
There was enjoyable banter with the audience, little anecdotes (the Grey Panthers in Berkeley attacked her over one of her songs), little stories, and an excellent impersonation of Bob Dylan (old 2-note Bob) (quite appropriate considering their history).
All in all, a very enjoyable evening with Joan Baez.

28.9.10

Today's picture

Water (from the sprinklers) caught in cobwebs between the leaves. Saw this while taking out the trash and went back inside to get the camera.
I'm having far too much fun taking pictures (this wasn't the only one I took today, just one of the better ones). My digicam class II starts today, we're learning to use Photoshop Elements 7. I may or may not have any hair left afterwards :-)

27.9.10

A sort of challenge - the picture of the day

I've set myself a sort of challenge: try to find something interesting to photograph every day. It may or may not work, we'll see.
I saw this picture last week and that's what made me think of this. Today, I've started carrying the smallest camera in my purse. Makes for a heavy purse/bag, but I won't have to kick myself for missing interesting shots any longer.

26.9.10

The street where I live

Not sure if this works on here (it does on FB and, just in case, here's the link to this and two other shots: : http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=231040&id=708398128&l=f1c2b9cde5): I was playing with a new feature on my new little Sony: the panorama setting.
This, literally, is the street where I live. I've had a little two much fun playing with this camera this morning. But that's the nice thing about digital cameras: don't like what you did? Just delete it.

22.9.10

Digicam class


After my favorite little point and shoot camera gave up its ghost a month ago (and it's still usuable, I'd just have to dig out the duct tape), I decided it was time to grow up. In terms of camera, that is. I had seen classes offered in digital camera use through the Adult School and called to sign up and got the last place. There was a bit of a problem about that later in the day, but we straightened it out and I'm almost done with the first set of classes: how to use your camera. I'm still very much a beginner, haven't figured out F-stop, shutter speed etc. just yet. But I've learned to do close-ups (which I absolutely love) and changing the white balance and a few other less challenging things.
Next week, we're starting on Photoshop Elements 7 and I got brave and uploaded that one to the computer. We're still trying to make friends with each other. It won't let me save my watermark the way I want to, maybe down the line.
Here are a few of my early efforts, no doubt there'll be more.

16.9.10

Drug use on the increase

And just when you thought it was over .................

An article from AP about drug use being on the increase:

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news%2Fnational_world&id=7671122

I know there are a lot of people who have no problem with any of this and it never was of much importance to me, either.
But, having seen what can happen (and I know very well it doesn't happen to everybody), I'm very much in favor of stricter penalties for drug dealers, stricter enforcement and definitely much more education and awareness.
Of course, not everybody who tries drugs goes on to hard drugs as fast as Henry did and not everybody becomes suicidal in a matter of weeks. But it's not unheard of, it does happen and kids have that mistaken notion that they are invincible. Just because somebody can handle dope, doesn't mean he/she can handle Ecstacy or meth as well.
And that campaign to legalize marijuana seems to me as yet another way to make a quick buck. "Money for nothing."

The past rears its ugly head

Doesn't it seem like I'm going for some kind of record with the number of posts recently? :-)

So, Henry died on 8 May 2007. The hospital there knew enough to contact me by phone shortly after he was admitted. I don’t know if they looked into his wallet or they got contact info from the police but I do know they had his wallet with his insurance card and his driver’s license in their possession because they handed it to me as my friends and I were leaving. Oh, and nobody asked me for insurance info the whole time I was there, either.

When we still hadn’t gotten invoices from anybody involved (hospital, doctors’ group, ambulance, paramedics) after 3 months or so, Larry started calling around. The hospital had no record of him (what?). Call to the Medical Examiner explained that people admitted to the ER get a crisis (?) name (I think Henry’s was Zulu something). Back to the hospital: oh, yeah, Zulu ….. So, Larry gave the nice man in accounting our names and address. ……………. Nothing for weeks. Another phone call, yes, they have our info.

Eventually, the Doctors’ Group tracked out down (after we had called them, too) and served us with a delinquent notice and threatened us with a collection agency. The insurance got involved and so did Human Resources at Larry’s employer and this was all taken care off. Not without hurt feelings and harsh words being exchanged, the woman who answered the phones at the Doctors’ Group was an evil bitch (and that’s putting it nicely).

After months of all this, SF General finally sent the insurance a bill, they paid, but we never heard from them. Until this morning, when a letter marked personal and confidential and addressed to Henry arrived. Delinquent notice, pay within 10 days or else.

Are these people thinking? Is there a connection between doctors, nurses and accounting?

I certainly wonder.

I am not disputing the amount outstanding, far from it. We have been wanting to pay for years now. What I’m upset about is the way all this has been handled/worded, trying to make us look like deadbeats. We’re not, we’ve tried to get an invoice for years and now we’re the bad guys? I don’t think so.

But I feel a whole lot better now. I just called the guy whose name is on the invoice and complained. I was nice, no bad words, no yelling, just explaining and asking what had been going on. I should do that more often :-)

15.9.10

Flea market, September 2010











Another flea market and another load of pictures. I'm trying to get used to a new camera - two cameras, actually. The point and shoot is strictly for the flea market and while I can do just that - point and shoot - it comes with a menu of options that I haven't explored yet.
The other camera, SLR type, has been around for a couple of years but I've hardly ever used it. All those buttons and dials intimidated me. So, I'm taking a class. I can do close-ups that I'm very happy with and will upload a few pictures soon. Next we will learn things like shutter speed settings and I'm not looking forward to that. Too many new things in too short a time.
Back to the flea market: the tool and button vendors are two of our favorites (along with the vintage fabric seller). Larry obviously goes for the tools (and the sewing machine and typewriter were at the same table), I'm into buttons (and far too many other things). And, yes, I actually use the buttons - more on that later.
The last trip was very successful, maybe too successful?

Busted

On my way to photography class this afternoon (I'm finally learning to use my SLR digital camera), I noticed three cars parked on the side of the road, 2 huge SUVs and 1 small non-descript sedan. The SUVs were from the Sheriff’s Department and one was a canine unit.

The light at the intersection changed to yellow, I stopped and while I was sitting there, the little caravan just behind me started to move. The passed me in the bike lane to my right and turned left just in front of me. Had I insisted on my right-of-way when the light turned green, I would have been rammed.

Then, as if in slow motion (because I was still kind of shocked about being cut off like this), the SUVs and the sedan surrounded a small car with 4 people inside stopped at the red left just off to my left, waiting in the left turn lane. The dog was let out – big, black and mean-looking. Two plain clothes officers jumped out of the small sedan and pulled guns.

The people in the car all stuck one hand out of the window next to them ……………

............ and that’s all I saw. The light had turned green for me, there were cars behind me, I had to get to class and I didn’t think the officers would appreciate it if I yanked out my camera and clicked away. Wish I had, could have gotten some interesting pictures.

I keep wanting to talk about “shots” instead of pictures and “shooting” instead of clicking or taking pictures, but considering the subject, I’m going with the alternative.

9.9.10

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day

And the editor published my letter here:

http://napavalleyregister.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_98ea6408-bcfe-11df-8dbf-001cc4c002e0.html

I only write about once a year. Henry didn't have a very high opinion of people who wrote to newspaper editors. He wouldn't appreciate it. And I wouldn't do this if things were different.

I mostly recycled last year's (blog and FB) info and added a bit: warning signs and risk factors.

26.8.10

More bags and changes





I apologize for the worse than usual quality of the pictures. My favorite little camera is busted. It still takes pictures, but the lid for the compartment that holds the batteries doesn't close anymore and so the batteries don't make good contact. I had to hold my thumb on there for dear life to make it work.
I'll miss my little camera, it's been perfect (all the wedding pictures were shot with it), small and, therefore, portable. Even though it only has 5.1 megapixels I have gotten some very good shots with it. We're going to look for a replacement tomorrow. Yes, I have (2) better cameras, but none of them are this convenient.
But, that's not all just yet. My cell phone gave up its ghost on the trip to Denver, too. So, more changes there. Not just a new and much more sophisticated phone (an iPhone, no less) and with it a huge learning curve (and I'm suffering from a serious case of technophobia) and, as if that wasn't enough, a new server which means giving up the plan that included Henry's phone. Yup, I can still call him and listen to his voice, but not for much more than the next couple of days.
I said, there'd be changes, didn't I?
About the bags: some newly made - the last two (same pattern as the ones in the last bag post) - some made a while ago and not shown yet. The first three are from the same pattern (The Practical Bag by Grand Revival Designs). I reduced the size (the pattern makes a really large bag), the red bag is 80% of the original size (possibly a little small for my taste), the other two are 90% and just right. The French bag has been to Denver and back, the other's haven't been used (yet).

24.8.10

The wedding in pictures








The wedding was held 21 August 2010 at the Evergreen Lake House, Evergreen, Colorado (CO) - Party Location, Wedding Venue at 6 pm. The setting was beautiful, everything went very well. There were a few raindrops while we were still inside waiting for everybody to be seated outside. A friend of Kate and Mark's officiated (Universal Life Church, ya know?) and he did a lovely job, his speech was personal, meaningful and had a few people sniffling.
Afterwards, there were pictures (the photographer is in the second to last photo, wearing two-tone sneakers, which came in handy when he took pictures during the ceremony from the water-side of the fence) and somebody took over with my camera (so, while I didn't take all the pictures shown, they all were on my memory stick). We're still waiting for the official pictures.
Next came cocktails and lots of socializing and, I am sure, candid photos.
Dinner was delicious, the speeches were fun and appropriate. Bridesmaids and groomsmen were introduced (there's a you tube video of an entrance that didn't go quite as planned) and then the fun started.
All in all, a very enjoyable evening. And, of course, the bride looked gorgeous (and I'm not just saying that because I'm her mother - really!).