Monday, October 31, 2005

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Now that the World Series is over it seems an odd time to be posting a baseball video.

This is very, very short, taken at the first Giants game I went to after they moved into the new stadium. The stadium was on the way to becoming the "old stadium" before I made it to a game, but I was pleased to see how much fun it was to attend a baseball game again, and what an incredibly beautiful venue SBC Park is.

It also tickled me to see the post-game tradition, the music that was piped in over the loudspeaker. Not exactly what one would think of for a ball game. This is a very short clip, but you get the idea.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dancing Pigs

This entry isn't really about dancing pigs, though I do talk a bit about the dancing pig statue in our local strip mall.

I hadn't done any live videotaping in a couple of days, so I took the camera with me when I went out on the morning errands on Saturday morning and that included going to the dancing pigs, which are outside Peet's Coffee, which is where I buy coffee beans.

I also include such fascinating tidbits as the price of roast beef (shocking) and sticker shock at our grocery tab. Unfortunately, I somehow didn't record, though I thought I was, the embarrassing moment when I spilled coffee on the floor of the supermarket and, like a little kid, acted nonchalant and pretended it had been someone else.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pumpkin Carving

I was asked to be the photographer for my boss's pumpkin carving party, which turned out to be quite a fun event to photograph. One thing I really love is photographing little kids.

This was actually taken 2 years ago, but I really loved some of these photos....and it's timely.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Never the twain shall meet

Watch the video

We were at a beach in Santa Barbara and a young pelican decided to pay us a visit. He was very calm and cool and relaxed while one of the dogs in our group (not our dogs) was bound and determined he was going to get to that pelican.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pete's Pond

It was 6 years ago when I was still learning my way around the Internet when I shared with Peggy the ultimate Internet experience. I would sit at my home in California on a morning and chat with someone I had never met who was sitting at her home in Australia in the evening and we would both be watching the activities in various parts of Africa during the afternoon there. We would use Instant Messaging to comment on what we were seeing, or to direct the other person to a different camera if something was happening there.

Africam, unfortunately, suffered from growing pains and financial problems and eventually it shut down, but now there is a great Africam through the National Geographic. Instead of the multi camera set up of the old Africam, now there is one camera which focuses on Pete's Pond, a watering hole frequented by all sorts of wildlife. Instead of broadcasting one photo every 30 seconds, this is now not only a movie, but with sound as well. Peggy, because of where she lives now and the constraints on her ability to download material, is no longer able to watch Africam, so I attempted to take some screen shots for her.

I got the idea the day I turned into Africam and instead of seeing a few birds or a gazelle or something, I saw a herd of elephants. This was the most exciting thing I'd seen in all the years that I'd been watching Africam, except for the one day that Peggy and I happened to find a lion eating a kill. I took some screen shots of the elephant herd to send to Peggy.

Then I decided to try taking some screen shots of the movies that I was seeing, knowing full well how awful the resolution would be. I sat here one afternoon and hit the jackpot--birds, ostrich, crocodile and zebra. It was the most I'd seen on Africam, so I put together a brief video, mostly to send to Peggy, but I decided to post it as well.

The quality is what you'd expect from a digital camera aimed at a computer screen, and yeah, you can find professionally made good quality videos on television every day, but there is something really exciting about feeling like you are there, seeing it live and...heck...I like it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Change of Pace

It's not that I was that enamored with Arthur's 85th birthday party, but it gave me a good opportunity to try out a new piece of software, PhotoStory, which I downloaded today. It is quite easy to learn (at least for this brief slide show).

But the reason you should watch this show is not for the show itself, but for the music. When I was a kid, some 50+ years ago, my father purchased an old 78 rpm record (well, at the time it was a new 78 rpm record) of The Sportsmen, a quartet that did the opening number and commercials for The Jack Benny Show. This record had four songs on it, one of which was their version of Happy Birthday. It kept us in stitches for years and Ned eventually converted it to an mp3 file so I am now able to share it with the rest of the world. Give it a listen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The problem with going to birthday parties for people who have passed a certain age (whatever that age is), is that you're never sure if there will be one next year.

Last year we attended our friend Arthur's 84th birthday. He had recently had a fall and was looking frail, for the first time since I'd known him. I wondered if he would live to see his 85th. But there he was, looking like the old Arthur, holding court at his 85th birthday on Sunday.

He's always reminded me of a leprechaun, this Irish man from Boston, whom I have known for at least a couple of decades. We worked together at The Lamplighters (Gilbert & Sullivan theatre company in San Francisco). Walt worked with him on the tech crew for a long time.

Arthur and Jim found each other awhile back and have been together ever since. Jim is a retired physician who owns a house in town and a cattle ranch in the hills. We had never been to the ranch before, so it was fun to see it at the party. And fun to connect with old Lamplighters we rarely see any more.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sing a song

We were away all day today and I was making a video, but don't have time to put it together, so I've gone to the vaults to pull this one out.

This is from about 3 years ago, when we were going to the wedding of one of the guys in our kids' band. The kids were all providing the music for the wedding.

In the photo at the right, Ned and his wife Marta rehearse their duet. Later on Jeri on sax and flute rehearses, both with Ned and Marta, but also with other people from the band.

This video was taken with a camera that only let me take brief clips before it stopped to write to the disk, so this is pretty choppy from clip to clip.

(this one is a QuickTime video. If you are unable to see it, you can probably watch it on YouTube)

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Ashley and I have been working together to produce the 2006 SPCA Calendar, which is the year's fund-raising item. There has been a lot of frustration in how the whole thing was handled, but now that it's actually out, I'm very proud of how it all works. We done good.

I was asked yesterday to put together a slide show about the calendar to be used in web advertising, so I did. This shows all of the cover pages for the calendar, leaving off the actual pages themselves. Of course, since we aren't selling them outside of this area, this is not an advertising ploy for the web audience at large, but merely to post the video somewhere where it can be linked. But I'm happy with how all the page designs turned out. I think November is my favorite.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

What Disability?

Haley came for a visit yesterday. Haley is the blind puppy (10 weeks old) that Ashley was going to have us take so that Sheila could "teacher her how to be a dog."

Instead, there is a ranch for disabled dogs which is going to take her, but before she flew to Montana, Ashley brought her over so I could see her.

What a cutie! Except that she walks with her front paws held at an unusual angle (to check for things in front of her), it's hard to believe that she's really blind.

She got along so well with the big dogs and once again, I was impressed with how Sheila seems to know intuitively who she can roughhouse with and who she can't. She was very gentle with this little puppy and I loved watching the two of them together.

This video is probably a bit longer than it should be, but I had already cut out about half of the material I'd taken, and I just really liked watching the puppy moving around. The very best parts of the video come toward the end where she hits "grass" and starts running across the grass with this great loping gambolng gait. So cute!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Special Places

This is my third video about the area in which I live. It's a good example of why people use scripts. When I ran it after I got home, I was amazed at how many times I used the word "town" in the space of a minute.

Still, this is a unique place worthy of a video. It shows the kind of weird things that go on around here.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Slingshot came to us on Saturday, the 22nd. He's part Lab and probably part Great Dane. He's not exactly the most exciting dog we've had (as this video shows), but he's a sweetheart, except that he apparently hates Walt, even now that he's been here nearly a week.

Still, in keeping with my desire to keep a video record of each of the dogs that we foster, this is my tribute to Slingshot.

May he find a home on Saturday. (He'd be the perfect dog for a lesbian couple, if there is one out there looking for a nice big dog!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Up, Up and Away!

There's just something about hot air balloons.

This being a flat area dotted by cities, but with a lot of bare space inbetween (alas, now being filled up), it's a great place for hot air balloons and frequently on a calm day you'll look up in the sky and see one or more floating overhead. I don't know what it is--the mystique or something. But I've always loved watching hot air balloons.

Today I was driving home from downtown when I saw a hot air balloon in the sky. I happened to have the camcorder with me and went chasing after it, just to see what would happen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


There is no law that says I need to post a video daily--but I get compulsive about stuff like that. I haven't been out in a couple of days, so I had to go to the vault to see what I could find.

I took this brief clip when I was in San Francisco, at Pier 39, where there are always groups playing music and selling CDs. The faux cable car in the back is a nice touch (it's one of the motorized ones that does tours around town...the real cable cars run on a cable underground!)

I spent last night watching a West Wing marathon, seeing all those episodes in Season Five that I slept through when they were first run. I've almost gotten to the one where Jed convinces C.J. to become Chief of Staff.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Customer "Support"

Never have a non iPod related question when a new product has just come out because the phone lines are flooded with iPod calls.

Suddenly my QuickTime (for which I have paid to upgrade to Pro) gives me a message that says "Your copy of QuickTime Player 7.0.2b20 will expire in 14 days. Please visit [web site] to download and install a new version of QuickTime."

Huh? Haven't I paid for this version?

So I call customer support and, like a good girl, wander aimlessly through voice mail hell until, miracle of miracles, I actually find a real live person trained to help me with my problem. Only she's never heard of this message before, nor has anybody she can find to ask. So she gives me a "special number" that will get me the help I need.

Once again I am offered options: If you know the number of the person you want, if you have an existing order, or if you want to purchase a Mac. Well, none of these options work, so I press "O" and am told that is an improper number. So I decide to go with having an existing order. Then I wade through THOSE options and finally come to "if you are calling about QuickTime." Bingo! I've found it. I'm home, Baby. I press the number and get the recording:

"We are pleased to offer help for QuickTime on our web site [URL]. Click."

I have made the complete circle from checking the web site for help to calling for support to being sent back from where I started.

And my version of QuickTime will still expire in 14 days.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Deaths in the Family

I thought the saddest news I would receive today was hearing that my sister-in-law's 14 year old cat had to be put down. I wasn't really close to Chew (I'm not really a cat person), but I know how much she loved him and I know that she is hurting.

But I wasn't prepared to hear that Peggy had to put Keno down as well. We all knew that Keno was on borrowed time, but each time Peggy felt that it was time for "the green needle," as she called it, the doctors found a way to make life more comfortable for her.

But today she reached the end of her life. She was a beautiful dog, as I've said in my journal entry, and you don't expect animals, however beloved they are, to go on forever, but my heart is heavy tonight, being so far away, especially because I know how much pain Peggy is in.

Something for the Birds

Continuing my "how long will this phase last" project, I have made my second walk and this one is to a small bird sanctuary. I used to ride past this place in my bike riding days, when I could still ride a bike and always loved watching the Canada geese in the lake and the various wild birds that would come by the sanctuary itself.

Of course, with my usual great timing, I chose to visit the sanctuary in the fall, when all the birds have flown south for the winter--or whatever else birds in this temperate climate do. I also went at mid day on a fairly warm day, when all the birds were likely to be asleep.

So the end result isn't as exciting as I'd hoped, but I did get to catch a few interesting moments, plus this egret in flight and that made the whole trip worth it for me.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dog Movie

I am so tickled about this video. It started out being just another boring movie about somebody's dogs, but I made it because I don't know if Katey will be adopted today and I wanted a record of how well she and Sheila play together. As a video it's ok, if you like watching dogs chasing themselves around the back yard.

But then I decided it needed a soundtrack and I started looking through the music that Jeri has recorded and I came up with a piece that was the right length. When I added it, it just changed the whole video. What was very weird is that when the music is fast, the dogs are fast; when the music slows, the dogs slow. I couldn't have planned it better. There are places where it's not quite exact, but it's so close that I'm thrilled.

The problem is that I find that Jeri can get the music, but not the picture; Ned can't get it at all. So now I'm wondering how many people can actually SEE these videos that I make and how many aren't able to view them at all.

A neat gadget

I've obviously been watching entirely too much Food Channel.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Video Blogging Is Healthy

Who says video blogging is not good for you.

I got this great idea today as I was sitting at a coffee shop called Ciocolat eating a lemon bar and meeting with the head of the Theatre and Drama Department at UC Davis.

It occurred to me that the camcorder could actually get me out of the house and moving a bit. So I decided to take a couple of days a week to just take a walk somewhere around town and see what there is to videotape. This is the first walk and we'll see how long I'll keep up this idea!

A word of explanation--this starts with a couple of printed titles that I made with me doing a voiceover (which kind of tickled me that I figured out how to do that). The reason is that I originally filmed myself and when I played back the video, I had chosen the absolute worst possible angle and it was abominable--but, of course, too late to reshoot. So I just took the audio track from those two clips and used them with a graphic. I have to get this "videotaping myself" down a bit better!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Big Night Out

We don't go out all that much. Well, we do, but I think about nights we go to the theatre as being "work," since we don't make an evening of it, with dinner and that sort of thing, and I have to come home and write a review. Just "going out for fun" is something we rarely do.

Ahhh...but how can you resist Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit? We have been waiting for the movie to open, and it did this week. Walt suggested we go to see it Monday night. We went early, expecting there to be crowds, and were surprised to discover only a handful of people in the theatre (perhaps because it was a holiday, even tho Columbus Day isn't one of your major holidays).

Anyway, we really enjoyed the movie and then went looking for somewhere to eat afterwards, discovering that a lot of the restaurants in the neighborhood were closed. But we did find a Chinese place that was open, so we had dinner at the Silver Dragon.

A nice night--and best of all -- I didn't have to come home and write a review, and we had enough leftovers that I didn't have to cook dinner the next night.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cut a rug...

When we had the new Pergo floor installed downstairs, we first had to take up the existing rug.

The problem becomes: what do you do with a rug? They charge to go to the dump--and we don't have a truck anyway, so for the time being, we put it on the patio and covered it with a tarp.

Time got away from us. Walt took 2 months to go to Washington, D.C. and it wasn't until this week that he finally started dealing with the rug. Unfortunately, in the meantime it has become Sheila's favorite perch, where she likes to survey the back yard. She also uses it as a trampoline, a springboard to toss her from the patio to the lawn.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Big Families

My mother is the 3rd to the last of 11 children. Only 10 made it to adulthood, young Nonie drowning at age 4. She was twin to #3, so she died long before my mother came along.

When we were visiting my aunt yesterday, she explained how her parents happened to have so many children. At the start of this video, she is talking about another family, but then switches to her mother.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A face of Alzheimers

I love my aunt Barb. She was once the brightest, wittiest, sweetest person you'd ever want to meet. I aspire to be the writer that she was. She is now in an Alzheimers facility, and still witty and sweet, but the ravages of this awful disease become more and more apparent. She is having trouble with word-finding now and sometimes doesn't remember that she's in her own room, or how to get to the lunch room (just a few doors down). She sometimes confuses her daughter with my mother (unless my mother is there). It's sad to see this happen to her.

We went to visit her yesterday--my mother, myself, my cousin Denise and my other cousin (Barb's daughter), Kathy. Denise, who is a hair stylist, gave Barb a much needed haircut, though she is a bit protective of her hair and doesn't like having it too short.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Caw of the Wild

This isn't the world's greatest video. I'm learning that this camcorder doesn't do well at low light. I also tried to take it first with the digital camera, and just got a blank screen -- that camera really doesn't do well in low light.

But it's pretty spectacular in the mornings around here. The crows have discovered our block and hundreds--probably thousands--of them sleep in the trees in this neighborhood. When they wake up in the morning, the noise can be deafening. I've likened it to all of them getting ready to go off to work, since that's really what they're doing. Waking up, doing whatever ablutions birds do in the morning and then flying off to the fields for the day, returning at dusk to settle into the trees again for the night.

Unfortunately, I missed the height of "rush hour" in the skies overhead, but did get a taste of the sight (and especially the sound of it!). The end is the best part.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Couple of Confessions

I finally decided to go public about one of my addictions, and this video is that confession.

I also have a story that I can't tell in my journal, so for those who read this blog, you're ahead of those who don't! It's the story of Sheila the life-saver. It happened this afternoon, when I decided to take a nap (since I'd only had 3 hours of sleep the night before). I needed to get something and went to get up, whereupon I discovered that I could not move the footrest into the "down" position.

There I was. Stretched fully out in the recliner, the back tilted all the way back, and the foot rest stuck in the up position. Try as I might, I couldn't budge it and when I attempted to push myself up out of the deep recesses of the chair, the back tilted farther to the back and threw me backwards so I couldn't get enough forward momentum to launch myself out of the chair.

Sheila was sleeping upstairs and heard me strugging and came downstairs. What a sight I must have been. Fat lady trying to get out of a chair. Sheila was very concerned and finally, the only way I could get myself up out of the chair was to hang on to her collar and pull myself up that way. Of course, since there is nothing on the Pergo, we all--dog, chair, and me, when I fell out of it--slid around on the floor, but eventually I did get out of the damn chair. It is now in the fully reclined and locked position. Walt has fixed this for me several times, and I hope that it's fixable again.

This is a funny story that it would be fun to put in my journal, but since my preference is for my old chair and not the fancy new one that my mother bought me, I don't dare write about it where she can read it!

Friday, October 07, 2005

This one is just weird

This is very short. In Milwaukee we stayed at a hotel with an "upscale lounge" ("Aqua") on the first floor--it's where we had our buffet breakfast in the morning.

The decor was kind of an underwater theme, with acryllic panels filled with bubbling colored liquid lining the base of the bar, so I took this brief clip. When I added a short musical piece by Jeri to it, it reminded me of a digital lava lamp.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Jolly Trolly

Blogger appeared to be out last night, so I wasn't able to post this entry until now. One of the fun things we did in/around Milwaukee was to drive to East Troy and ride this 11-mile (round trip) electric railroad. I didn't take a lot of video, but did take a bit to get the feel of the ride, the condition of the cars, a bit of explanation from the guy who was taking the tickets, etc.

We rode out to a farmers market where we bought a fresh apple pie and watched kids climbing all over pumpkins, before we reboarded the train (a different one this time) for the ride back to the Electric Railroad museum.

Learning more stuff

Now this video was kind of fun to put together. I'd already learned how to combine two videos into one in QuickTime and with the "Milwaukee Dogs" video I learned how to add a voice to a photo and add that to the video. On this one, I used all of those techniques, but also after I got that done, there was too great a contrast from just my voice on the photo to the sound of the windchimes, so I was able to extract the chiming sound from one of the soundtracks and add that to my voice-over too. I was pleased with how good that came out.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Home Again

It's amazing how time consuming it is coming home, now that I take digital photos and movies and edit them with PhotoShop and make slide shows and post to Flickr, etc., etc., etc.

It seemed that yesterday was a VERY busy day, and yet all I did was sit here and go over all the "media" from the weekend and try to get it all in order and/or posted somewhere. There is still a lot to do, but I did make a couple of movies. I made a total of 4 movies while there, but probably won't post one of them because it didn't turn out very well. I kind of liked this one, though, because I am learning not only how to combine still photos with live action, but also how to add a sound track on the still photos. I know that I do everything in a back-assed manner, but what the heck. I'm learning with every movie that I make.