Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Dust In The Wind(ows)

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

IMAG0891-w1400-h1400If you want to see how the East Coast and West Coast differ, just look down. In Connecticut the ground was covered in green. Here in the OC it’s mostly brown.

Little grows without irrigation. Sprinkler heads outnumber people.

Every construction site has large, state mandated signs about dust abatement. It’s a big problem. Precautions are taken, but they’re only partially effective.

Ten months after moving in our windows are dirty. Our screens are worse.  I don’t want to think about what my lungs are filtering.

With out-of-town guests this weekend it seemed like the right time to get the windows cleaned.

As I discovered today we have 27 windows. That’s a lot for a 1,900 square foot home, but it makes the place light and airy.  They’re all double glazed, energy efficient.

A crew of three with ladders and squeegees went to work around noon. They’re gone now. What a difference.

There’s still construction in the area. More dust to come. For now we’re spotless.

My Achy Breaky Everything

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014


It’s 8:39 and I’m in bed.  Bad sign.  My throat has that “here comes a cold” feeling.  I’m achy.   I’ve got a headache. I’m weak.

Every cold is different,  but this one is arriving with both barrels blazing.

We have friends arriving from the east,  Friday.  I need my strength in a hurry.

How is it possible the common cold has not been cured?  I know so little I forget whether it’s a cold or fever you starve!

Dinner With Jessie’s Family

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

How did this happen? My mother and father come from New York City. My sister and brother-in-law come from New York City. Not any more. Milwaukee!

Helaine, Stef and I flew in for Melissa’s shower and also to spend time with the family. These are my niece Jessie and her husband Evan’s kids, Judah and Gabby.

Melissa’s Baby Shower

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

I like photography. My niece, Melissa, asked me to photograph her baby shower. I was thrilled. It’s no small honor.

I’m not a lighting guy. I own very little lighting gear. All I brought was a strobe. On top was a piece of Ikea plastic shelf liner. It scatters light everywhere and removes shadows. Cheap trick.

Using a single light has its limits. You can’t have deep backgrounds. They’ll just fade to nothingness. That’s a concern.

I brought three lenses, used two. This is packing light.

On its own, a camera/strobe combo like this won’t give you good shots without a little tinkering. I’m constantly spinning dials and resetting parameters. Lots of different looks without moving!

I shoot for emotion–a memorable moment. Not every shot succeeds. I’d like to think the people in my photos enjoy them.

Bad Weather In The East

Monday, April 14th, 2014


Bad weather in the east is often felt nationwide when you’re flying.  We’re at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.  The monitors are showing lots of delays.  Stef’s flight to LAX and ours to SNA are included.

John Wayne Airport is a special case.  At 11:00 PM the runway turns into a pumpkin (10:00 PM for departures). It is a hard and fast rule for noise abatement.  The well-to-do folks under the glide slope have no sense of humor.

We should be OK, unless our departure time slips again.

Hopefully we’ve seen the last of winter for this year.  Hopefully.

The Long Trip Home

Monday, April 14th, 2014


I just checked the GPS in my tablet.  Our 737 is climbing through 23,000 feet at 430 mph ground speed.  We’ve just poked through the clouds into the late afternoon sky. 

Our heading is 273 degrees.  That won’t last long.  We’re headed to Phoenix.

It was a late departure.  We left the gate, pulled a few dozen feet onto the tarmac and stopped.  “Deicing,” was the word from the cockpit.  But the iceman never cameth!

Did the pilot get tired of waiting?  I watched a Delta RJ get doused, then all of a sudden we were on the move and steaming down the runway.

Still climbing.  We’ve gone through 37,000 feet, ground speed 440 mph.  The heading is 245 degrees, a little south  of west.

Throttle back.  Level at 37,265 feet.  That’s GPS altitude.  The altimeter in the cockpit has us at an even number, I’m sure¹.

The are a few breaks in the undercast.  Wherever we are, there’s been recent snow.  The ground has a powdered sugar look to it.

This was a whirlwind trip.  We were on the ground around 48 hours.

Melissa’ shower was a blast.  This will be one stylish baby!  My photos will wait until SoCal to get posted.

We stayed in Melissa and Mark’s house, downstairs in a spare bedroom in the basement. Perfect. No windows. Quiet. Sensory deprivation!

Anyway, the bedroom we used last time is now a nursery!

We got to spend some time with my niece Jessie, her husband Evan and their two kids. One is two, the other four.

How do Jessie and Evan have any strength at all? The kids are constantly in motion.

We also saw my sister and brother-in-law. Is it too late make up for the putz I was growing up? The more time we spend together, the closer we get.

My sister is still hobbling after knee surgery, but she says she’s feeling a little better and has started cutting back on pain medication.

My parents are in the neighborhood too. This was a tough winter. They left Florida and arrived in Wisconsin just in time for brutal cold. It was relentless this year.

They were shut-ins in Florida too, but I’m sure looking out their window now is a little more depressing up here. Hopefully they’ll take advantage when spring arrives.

It will arrive, right?

Getting old is not for pussies… or so says my dad.

We rented a car for the trip. Enterprise gave us a Prius. That’s probably a bad choice for a rental fleet. I never quite knew what the in-dash display was telling me. The Prius is the only car I’ve ever driven where you needed a lesson first.

Before we left the airport Jasmine briefed me. Going from neutral to drive or reverse is unusual, as is parking.

“Press the button with P on it,” she said. We both giggled like fifth graders hearing a dirty joke.

We’re back in Milwaukee in June. My nephew, Matt, is getting married. Big celebration.

Whirlwind again. Seeing the family makes the trip a lot easier to take.

¹- Sully says 38,000 feet.  His altitude is based on less accurate barometric pressure.  All planes use it, so we’re good.

Waiting At MKE

Saturday, April 12th, 2014


Helaine and I flew to Milwaukee this morning.  We’re still at the airport waiting for Stef. 

Too much time.   My mind wanders.

It’s a cheese based economy!  That’s the takeaway from the newsstands.  You can buy ornamental faux cheese!  They’ve got footballs,  ties and even a top hat.

They also sell a lot of Aaron Rogers jerseys.  A lot!

I’m not good at waiting.


The Foxes Are Heading Back Into Winter

Friday, April 11th, 2014

melissaMy niece Melissa is expecting. This weekend is her baby shower. We’re heading to Milwaukee where it’s still winterish.

I’ll let the Weather Service forecasters try to polish this turd of a forecast.



We will see no sunshine in Wisconsin. Most of the weekend will be rainy. There’s a chance for snow late Sunday into Monday, though not much. That’s when we fly home.

It makes no difference. My parents are there, plus my sister and her family. Four generations together. It’s totally worthwhile. We’re very excited.

Of course I’m saying that in the abstract. A little winter might change my attitude.

Departure is VERY early tomorrow morning.

The NSA’s On The Wrong Side Of Heartbleed

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Since this entry was published the NSA had denied any part in knowing the Heartbleed flaw existed. Their adherence to the truth has been less than exemplary in the past. Let’s let this play out. – Geoff

heartbleedYou’ve probably heard about the Heartbleed bug by now. It’s a flaw introduced to to SSL (Secure Sockets Layer); a mistake as code was updated.

Simply put, Internet data transmissions we thought were secure were not. Things like passwords, financial information, anything private was easily cracked.

The bug languished mostly unknown for years. That’s called security by obscurity. Never a good idea. We’re seeing that now.

As far as I can tell Heartbleed’s never been exploited for nefarious commercial purposes. It has that potential. However, it has been exploited by our government’s spies!

The NSA knew Heartbleed existed. They had a choice, tell the maintainers of the code to fix it or exploit it themselves and leave us vulnerable. They chose the latter.

Now, because the NSA felt their ability to soak up data trumped our collective security, Heartbleed is a big deal! Leaving this security hole open for years is reprehensible.

More and more it seems America’s intelligence agencies, beginning with the NSA, are out-of-control. They have lost sight of their actually mission–protecting us. Instead we are more vulnerable and our international partners know we can’t be trusted with their precious secrets.

This story was broken by Michael Riley at Bloomberg News.

“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”

It’s time we have a come to Jesus meeting with our spies. Is everyone in Washington that scared of them?

Where I Learned To Not Be Good At Sports

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

electchester playground

The photo (above) shows the playground where the Electchester Athletic Association had its games when I was a kid. I played softball there… poorly

I caught in a softball league that had no stealing! The Witness Protection Program couldn’t have found a better place to hide me.

It’s tough to see the field’s surface from Google Streetview, but there’s no grass. The surface is probably forgiving today, but when I played there on busy 164th Street the field was paved!

Yeah, we played on concrete.

No sliding in our league either!

Not that it would have presented a problem for me. I don’t think I ever hit the ball out of the infield.

Most folks are surprised to learn baseball can be played on the same surface used to land airplanes or park trucks. Oh yes it can. And, if I’m any indication, it can be played poorly.

electchester sledding hill

As long as I was looking, I slid Google Earth a little farther down 164th to the hill where we went sledding. After a snowstorm this little topographical bump would be crawling with kids.

No!!! Who did this? I am incensed. There are now fences and hedges to prevent sledding.

Sure, we used to slide out into traffic from time-to-time, but this was our place. For a kid in an apartment this was the great outdoors.

Is nothing sacred?