Now It’s Tropical Storm Arthur

After grazing the North Carolina coast Arthur will be picked up by a midlatitude front and ushered to sea. Friday’s New England rain will be enhanced (intensified) by Arthur’s moisture. That’s especially true in Eastern Connecticut and more so in Rhode Island and the Cape.

Atlantic TROPICAL STORM ARTHUR - Google Maps

Invest 91 became Tropical Depression 1, which is now Tropical Storm Arthur. I can’t not look!

Early season storms are usually wimps. Not always. Remember Andrew!

Intensity guidance, among the poorest prediction guesses we make, says Arthur will briefly become a hurricane on Friday. I expect no hurricane force winds onshore.

The spaghetti strands continue to be tightly clustered. A good sign, especially since the impact to Connecticut (where many of my friends still live) should be minimal, but still significant.

After grazing the North Carolina coast Arthur will be picked up by a midlatitude front and ushered to sea. Friday’s New England rain will be enhanced (intensified) by Arthur’s moisture. That’s especially true in Eastern Connecticut and more so in Rhode Island and the Cape.

By Saturday Arthur’s east of Cape Cod and steaming away. The weekend is saved in New England and elsewhere!

Remember: Though I do follow tropical systems and post when I can, you should depend on a meteorologist who works fulltime watching your weather. I am flattered people still value my opinion, but I shouldn’t be your ‘final answer.’ – Geoff

The Storm’s Over — The Numbers Are In

The dry air was the wild card. Radar showed moderate snow over all of Connecticut for hours-and-hours before anything hit the ground.

snow-shovel-on-the-steps.jpgThe snow has come and gone. There’s never a bullseye, but the forecast was reasonably close. If success is judged by number of complaints, or lack thereof, I’m doing fine. Here are the final DOT numbers. I have also added the Boston and New York NWS snow totals, which include Connecticut, for the Dec 20-21, 2009 storm at the end of this entry.

Not everyone was as lucky. A friend who forecasts in Springfield sent a text message saying he’d received nothing! “Bust of the decade,” he said. Ouch. Been there. I know exactly what he’s going through.

I was right about Southeastern Connecticut getting the most snow followed by the shoreline in general. The snow was fluffy and windblown as predicted. Accumulations were generally in line with my numbers. My call for the Northwest Hills and most of the area directly adjacent to the Massachusetts line was a few inches higher than the actual totals.

I wrote about this last night, but it bears repeating the most unusual and interesting part of this storm was the exceptionally dry air. During the summer we sometimes see 30 grams of water content per square meter. Last night it was around 1 gram per cubic meter!

The dry air was the wild card. Radar showed moderate snow over all of Connecticut for hours-and-hours before anything hit the ground. Once the atmospheric column over any location became saturated light snow turned to heavy snow. I’d never seen a situation quite like this before. It cut inches off all the accumulations.

It’s a shame this storm will impact Christmas shopping. Otherwise we’re lucky it came on a Saturday night when travel is usually light.

And now the dig out begins.

(NWS totals after the jump)

Continue reading “The Storm’s Over — The Numbers Are In”

Just Me And Roxie

Roxie was not happy. She ran to the side and did an Olympic quality swan dive to the carpet below.

roxie-chewing-curly.jpgHelaine and Stef are on the road somewhere between here and Rhode Island. There’s a Rick Springfield show tonight and… well… you know.

Roxie was plopped in the bed as Helaine and Stef left. Roxie was not happy. She ran to the side and did an Olympic quality swan dive to the carpet below.

Dogs like Roxie are prone to back problems. Jumping is not good for her. Sleep was done for me. We moved downstairs.

Roxie is young and curious. There is little she won’t put in her mouth. I’ve got to be watchful.

She’ll spend this afternoon in her crate her gated community. Tonight between newscasts I’ll come home and bring Roxie and her crate condo back to work.

She likes meeting people.

How Hurricane Tracking Has Changed Since Bob Hit

I went to get a tracking map to double check my memory and was surprised to see Bob was tracked with pencil and paper!

huricane-bob-track.gifA viewer wrote a while ago worried Hurricane Bill would be comparable to 1991’s Hurricane Bob. Nah. Little to compare.

Bob struck near the Connecticut/Rhode Island border. Bill will be well out to sea.

I went to get a tracking map to double check my memory and was surprised to see Bob was tracked with pencil and paper (click the map on the left for a full size view)! Was 1991 that far into the computing dark ages? It was at the National Hurricane Center!

This really looks old school.

Thirty Years Ago Today

Today marks a milestone for me. 30 years ago today – March 3, 1979 – I got my first

computer. It was a life changing event – more than I imagined at the time.

My friend Peter Mokover sent me an email today about his thirtieth anniversary. I thought I’d share it with you.


Today marks a milestone for me. 30 years ago today – March 3, 1979 – I got my first computer. It was a life changing event – more than I imagined at the time.

It was an Apple II Plus. It was the first Apple computer ever sold in Rhode Island (where I lived at the time).

It came with 32KB of memory. I remember the sales person at the store said I could get an additional 16KB for around $400. I didn´t think I would need that much memory so I didn´t get it. Today that amount of memory is so small it would cost a fraction of one cent.

My Apple was considered advanced because it had two floppy disc drives and a modem. Most computers then had either one floppy drive or none and no modem. Many used audio cassette tapes to store programs and data.

I´m currently building a new PC for myself. To show how much technology has changed…

The Apple had 32,000 bytes of memory. My new PC has 6 billion bytes.

The Apple had 280,000 bytes of storage. The new PC has 2.3 trillion bytes.

The processor chip in the Apple (Motorola 6502) had a single core and a speed of around 1,000,000 instructions per second. The processor in the new PC (Intel Core i7) has four cores and a speed of around 3 billion instructions per second.

The Apple displayed up to 16 colors on a low resolution screen. The new PC displays more than 16 million colors with a resolution greater than a new HD television. (Who knew there were than many colors!)

The Apple had a modem that downloaded data at up to 30 characters per second. The new PC´s modem averages around 1.5 million characters per second. I recall paying around $8.95 per HOUR (off peak) back then to connect to the Internet. I now pay a little over $50 per month.

Over the past 30 years the power of computers has increased many thousands of times yet their price has dropped significantly. There aren´t many things other than technology for which that can be said.

Thirty years ago I already had my TRS-80 Model 1 with 16 Kb of RAM!

Dan In Real Life

Helaine got to choose the movie Saturday night. This responsibility used to rotate, but she’s so much better than I am at picking – why bother!

We went to North Haven to see the ‘sneak preview’ of “Dan in Real Life,” starring Steve Carell.

Years ago, a sneak preview was really that – a sneak. You didn’t know what you were seeing until you got there. Not so now.

By and large movie studios ‘sneak’ movies they expect will produce strong word-of-mouth. That’s a good selling point for seeing a movie none of your friends have seen.

Helaine worried the theater might be sold out, so on my way back from Yale, I stopped in to purchase tickets. It was less than half full. She’s better at picking flicks than guessing the gate.

“Dan in Real Life” is an emotional movie. We were primed before it even began. The coming attractions featured a trailer for “The Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

We both cried like babies!

It was only a two and a half minute trailer. I’m bringing a box of Kleenex if I see the full film!

“Dan in Real Life” is the story of Dan Burns, (Steve Carell) a widower, raising three daughters. Family Affair, Courtship of Eddie’s Father, My Three Sons, Andy Griffith, The Rifleman, Bonanza… I’ve seen widowers and their children before.

It seemed like a plot device in those TV shows. It rang true here.

While at a family reunion in Rhode Island&#185, Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche). It’s a chance meeting at a bookstore, but there’s an immediate connection.

They part, only to run into each other again almost immediately. She is Dan’s brother’s girlfriend, also invited to the family weekend!

This is a story without a lot of surprises. The kids are cute and witty. His parents are level headed and supportive. Dan’s life, already in emotional upheaval from the death of his wife, is put on a spit over an open flame and turned.

There is little that doesn’t unfold as you expect.

A movie doesn’t have to be surprising to be good. Satisfying is enough. “Dan in Real Life” satisfies.

Carell’s Dan is a man worthy of empathy. Binoche’s Marie was worldly, attractive and cast as a love interest in a movie, without being fifteen years younger than the man the man she’s attracted to. For the record, Carell is 45, Binoche is 43!

Also in the cast, Dane Cook (annoying in this film, as I find him in real life), John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest. It’s a large supporting cast and mainly peripheral to Dan and Marie.

The concentration of sobs per minute was greater in the pre-show trailer for “The Bucket List,” but there was plenty of crying here too. There were lots of funny moments as well.

Good choice by Helaine again. I hereby forfeit my next turn as the Fox Family decider.

&#185 – Amazingly, no one spoke with a Rhode Island accent. In my opinion, it is the harshest accent in America, making Bostonians sound as if they’re from Nebraska.

Financial Talk From Geoff

It’s not just me, is it? Finances are confusing to everyone… right?

Oh please agree! I don’t want to be the Bozo on this bus&#185.

Helaine and I went through some financial papers today. Nothing dreadful, but each was more confusing than the last.

My insurance company sent me a notice saying they weren’t paying as much for recent dental work as the policy allows. My dentist is off network and out-of-state.

Uh, yeah. It’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island. I live in Connecticut. Of course it’s out-of state!

Here’s the funny part. They only said they weren’t paying me full reimbursement. In reality, they were. So, based on their paperwork, some clerk in Rhode Island and I got to spend quality time together that we’ll never get back.

Then Helaine showed me a statement from my 401-K at work. We’ve been participating over 20 years. There’s a significant amount of money in it now. It said one of the mutual funds we’re in went down over the past few months.

It was a time when the market in general was tanking. I saw that with a quick look at the Dow Jones Industrials Average (which I understand is a mainly worthless barometer).

Are we in the right funds? Not only don’t I know, no one knows!

The experts often make bad calls predicting the markets (and, hey, I know a little bit about predicting). You can get lucky, or just have time on your side. We used the latter.

Unfortunately, the difference between being right and being wrong, when stretched over 20+ years, can make a huge difference. Could I have clicked a different box two decades ago and now be set for life? I will never know if my decisions were the right ones.

We’re trying to get Stef on the right track with her finances. I’ve just applied for a credit card for her. She’ll be responsible, though Helaine and I have to guarantee that by co-signing.

I called my local bank office, spoke to the manager and was on my way… or so I thought. I had to return a call from the bank Monday. They needed to verify it was really me on the phone.

I wasn’t asked my birthdate or SSN. The bank’s operator said, “In the past you’ve owned property. I’ll give you a list, you tell me which one is right.” Then she did basically the same thing with cars I’d owned.

The answer to the car question was a 1992 Camry. “That’s 15 years old,” I said. “I’m not sure the year’s right.”

But it was Helaine who made the more cogent observation. “They know everything about us.”

Alas, they do. Neither the car nor any piece of property was financed through the bank.

Finally, Helaine showed me a mortgage statement on our house. We’ve been there 17 years and have refinanced twice. Each time, we tried to shorten the term and lower the interest rate.

We can actually see a day in the next few years when the house will really be ours.

Does anyone really think, when they buy a house, some day they’ll own it? I sure didn’t.

&#185 – Firesign Theater reference. Thanks for noticing.

The Road To Las Vegas

I’m writing now from Las Vegas and the MGM Grand Hotel. I have found, over time, my blog entries slow down when I’m in Vegas. I’m not in the room as much and there’s not much to talk about when I’m mainly playing cards (though we will be seeing some shows and visiting places I’ll want to tell you about).

I’m currently up, but a McDonalds employee makes more per hour!

It was sad leaving Palm Springs. I know I can speak for Helaine when I saw, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The hotel was great. The city was great. The experience was everything we wanted and more. I even had a great time at the Rick Springfield concert.

We left Palm Springs around 9:00 AM and headed west in the slightly circuitous route necessary to get to Las Vegas. Traffic was moderate, but mostly moving at or above the speed limit.

We weaved through San Bernardino&#185, then to Victorville and Barstow. Now we were in the middle of nowhere and the speed ramped up to 80-85 mph, as the drivers took it on their own to improvise what the speed limit should be.

Most people from the east think of desert and think of the vast trackless sand of North Africa. Most of the US Desert Southwest isn’t like that at all. There is vegetation, mostly in the form of scrawny, low to the Earth brush.

We didn’t eat before leaving Palm Springs, which opened us up for a quick lunch at “Peggy Sue’s 50 s Diner” in Yermo. Yermo is a town of around 2,000, adjacent to Ft. Irwin.

The food was fine, but Peggy Sue’s needs a little updating and freshening. Much of the diner looks like it hasn’t be refurbished since the 50s!

We continued east on I-15 (it’s really a north-south road, so we were officially going north), stopping again in Baker. Our destination was Alien Fresh Jerky!

Here’s a place that’s successful because of its catchy positioning. After all, you can get jerky anywhere, but how many places have Alien Fresh Jerky?

Baker to Las Vegas is only a hundred miles or so – next door in terms of the desert. We were at the MGM and in our room by early afternoon.

By mid afternoon we had found my Cousin Melissa, gone to Wynn (up the Strip), had dinner and deposited me a the poker table.

If that’s not a full day, what is?

&#185 – San Bernardino is the county seat for San Bernardino County, which is larger in area than the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware combined. It is the largest county in the United States.

The Return Trip

I’m typing from seat 3A aboard Southwest Flight 616. It’s a direct, as opposed to non-stop, flight from West Palm Beach to Hartford via Baltimore. All the passengers, save four, thought Baltimore was far enough.

This afternoon I couldn’t help but think of my first commercial flight. It was on a Lockheed Electra L188, a second section flight on the Eastern Shuttle&#185. I was on my way to a college interview in Boston. That was 40 years ago. A lot has changed in flying.

Back then I could have asked to see the cockpit without being arrested.

I remember looking out the window during that flight, much as I looked out the window on this one. I was fascinated by the countryside of Connecticut and Rhode Island as we flew from LaGuardia to Logan. Today I was fascinated by the clouds that floated above Florida and the adjacent Atlantic.

We headed pretty far east before heading north today. The pilot did a good job avoiding the towering thunderheads. I wonder if anyone else on board knew how bumpy it might have been?

I don’t remember the flight attendants from that first trip, though they probably would have been puzzled by the term “flight attendant.” They were stewardesses, mainly young, probably pretty. To me, a seventeen year old unaccustomed to any of their world, they were glamorous and sophisticated.

None of my flights for this trip have been full. From what I read, that’s unusual. No one sat in the middle seat between me and the strangers with whom I’ve shared the row. Nowadays, that’s a luxury.

Being an early boarder from Southwest’s Group “A”, I had my my choice of seats. On the way down it was on the aisle. Now I’m at the left window, chosen for its access to a view of sunset. I try to sit forward of the wing, where first class is on other airlines, the better to snap a few shots.

I watched a PHP tutorial video on the computer, ate an unbelievably expensive sandwich I bought in the terminal, took some photos, loosened, then removed, my sneakers and fidgeted. Helaine should be glad she wasn’t here. My fidgeting would have driven her nuts.

I just looked down to see a dense lattice of streets. I didn’t recognize it at first, but it was Brooklyn. In the distance, Manhattan was underwhelming. I made it out by its shape more than its lights.

I did catch the lights from Shea Stadium and the Tennis Center, but mostly everything under me is nondescript. Anything I recognize from here in will be because I’ve lived there.

I’ll be flying this route again Wednesday. This trip was a last minute deal because of my dad’s hospitalization. Next week it’s my mom’s birthday.

Actually, this turned out to be a pleasure trip, didn’t it?

&#185 – Back then, if the plane was filled, another would be rolled out for the remaining passengers. Though the scheduled flight was on a jet, an old prop plane served as the backup.

It’s Not The Camera

I am a photographer. That’s my hobby.

I’m a good photographer. I’ve seen the work of great photographers. Their best shots are better than my best shots. I’m OK with that.

I take a lot of care with the mechanics of my photography. I try and think through shutter speed, aperture, lens focal length and film speed (it’s still called that) before I press the shutter. I don’t always get it right, but at least I think about it.

As a photographer there is a question I’m asked all the time. In fact, I received this yesterday:

Hey Geoff,

I just saw the most recent batch of pictures you had on your site, and they’re amazing. I was just curious, what kind of camera do you use? I’m sure you have said it before on your site, but I don’t recall. I really want to get into photography and your camera seems to take really great pictures. Any info would be great. Thanks!

Let me repeat the operative part: your camera seems to take really great pictures.

I know the writer meant well. I would guess every photographer gets asked this question from time-to-time. It misses the point. It used to bother me. Oh hell, it still bothers me, but I’ve gotten used to it.

There is an excellent shot of Helaine, Steffie and me, taken a few years ago in Newport, RI. The sky had turned blood red at sunset. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I set the camera and handed it to a passerby. His shot was great, but it’s really my shot. If he would have just pointed and shot, the effect wouldn’t have been as vivid. I took the picture!

My camera is a Canon Digital Rebel. It’s the original 300D. I usually carry 4 lenses which go from 10 to 300mm.

It takes better pictures than when I first got it.

Foolish Moves I’ve Stopped Making

I am an impatient driver. I drive too fast. Right turn on red was made for me.

I also take advantage of a little known law: “left turn on red.”

Stop laughing. I’m not kidding. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

In most areas of the United States, it is also legal to make some left turns on red. In all cases, the road being turned onto must be one-way. Making a left-turn on red from a two-way street is legal in only five states: Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington. In Washington, freeway on-ramps are considered one-way streets for the purposes of the left turn on red law.

Pretty cool, huh? And, it makes sense. One way to one way left on red is no more perilous than right on red.

There’s one particular left on red I often make. It’s at the intersection of College Street and South Frontage Road (Rte 34) in New Haven. I’ve been doing it for years to the amazement of passengers, including my own skeptical family. It only saves a few seconds, but who cares? That’s not the point.

I happened to stumble upon an article about left on red tonight. It was serendipity… and being the ‘left on red’ man, I read along.

Left turns on red are prohibited in the states of South Dakota (unless permitted by local ordinance), Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and in the District of Columbia and Guam.


I am so embarrassed! And, I am so relieved to learn about this by reading, as opposed to learning about it from a cop!

She’s Back – The Child Returns

Finals ended yesterday. Steffie is back in Connecticut.

I wasn’t here for her arrival, but I’m told it was very much like clowns getting out the car at the circus. In Steffie’s case, substitute clothes for clowns.

Let the laundry begin.

It was actually nice to have her around and awake when I came home from work. We had a good conversation before I went to the family room and she went to bed.

I suppose in some ways it’s sad for her. In school all your friends, all your activities, are right at hand. Here, it’s just Helaine and me. All her contemporaries are a car drive away – at best.

Tonight, mother and daughter drive to Rhode Island (and back) in the rain. Sometime next week Stef will probably start working at the mall (where she worked last summer).

She says she wants to join Helaine and me in our running regimen. That would be very nice, though she is undoubtedly in better shape than her parents. It would be cool if the three of us were ready for the New Haven Road Race in September.

It will not be perfect. Stef will be facing ‘parental guidance’ not seen in the dorm. But, there’s a lot more we agree, than disagree on.

I’m looking forward to this summer.

Off To Vegas

We ended our big October Southwest trip in Las Vegas, where I promptly got good and sick! I’ll spare you the details, except to say I never saw the face of the doctor who came to our hotel room to administer an injection in my butt&#185!

We’ve always enjoyed Las Vegas, but this trip left Helaine a little shaken. She was reticent to go again.

Long story short, the opportunity arose, we’ve got free Southwest tickets, and we leave tomorrow. We’re going to undo the jinx of October.

We’re staying at the MGM instead of our ‘usual’ Mirage.

Of course I want to play poker, but we’re also going to a few shows: Barry Manilow (who we saw on our first date!), Gordie Brown and Roseanne Barr.

I know Manilow has supporters and detractors with no middle ground. It will be interesting to see what he does as a ‘house act’ at the Hilton.

Gordie Brown is also a house act. He’s an impressionist who plays the Venetian. In fact, I first saw him during “Impressionist Week” on Letterman and was favorably impressed. Helaine, who scours the Vegas trip report boards when a vacation approaches, has read lots of good things.

Our last choice is much more chancy. Roseanne Barr has become another house act. She’s just opened at New York New York. Both Helaine and I watched her first appearance on the Tonight Show, blown away by how funny she was. Then her career skyrocketed and crashed.

Is she still funny? Has she seen the error of her ways? I’ll let you know.

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather at Midway in Chicago. We’re on a one-stop.

&#185 – The doctor’s bill was declared ‘off network’ and originally rejected by my insurance carrier. If you’re really sick, you’re entitled to get a doctor without shopping for one who has signed the right papers. After lots of grousing, and two internal reviews, they paid it all, save the co-pay.

The insurance company, in Rhode Island, neither knew nor cared who I was.

Bottom line – If you’re in the right, don’t give up. That’s $435 in my pocket, not theirs.

The Photo Book Is Here

My photo book from the Maine vacation came in a few days ago. I am totally blown away.

It is 5×7″ with a soft black cover. The 25 pages contain 69 photos, ranging from full page to six on a page. It is a bound book.

I brought the book to work and started passing it around. The response was amazing for two reasons.

First, everyone who looked at them liked my photos, which was nice because I think I’m getting better as a photographer.

Second, nearly every one who saw the book was amazed something like this could be done by an amateur! That’s the part that blew me away. Nearly every photo site advertises this functionality, yet few people realize it can be done cheaply and easily.

I originally started on Winkflash, but found the interface clunky&#185. I moved over to Shutterfly, which was much easier to operate. That’s where I completed the book.

There is one pain in doing this. You have to upload all your photos. Uploading takes significantly more time than downloading!

I wanted to use full size files wherever possible to maintain quality. I uploaded over 120. You really can’t tell how many you’ll need until you get going.

My suggestion is to do the uploading while you eat dinner or sleep.

Once the photos were online, they were available to drag and drop into templates. I chose different templates for each page. This created the structure of the book; how many photos would be on the page and in what physical alignment.

Some templates allow for text, which is a good thing. I used a very casual font, reminiscent of a felt tipped pen, and kept my captions short.

The minimum book size is 20 pages. I got to 20, but still had plenty of photos I wanted to include.

I really had no idea how it would all turn out. It wasn’t until I had the book in my hands and began thumbing through that I realized what I’d stumbled upon.

OK – how much? Believe it or not, the book was printed and shipped to my home for less than $20. Amazing.

It took over a week to get here via the ‘standard’ ground shipping. OK, I’m cheap. So shoot me.

Helaine and I are getting set for a trip next week which is more like an adventure… a photo adventure. I can guarantee there’s another book in my future.

Blogger’s note – Before I wrote this entry, I sent a fan letter to Shutterfly. I wanted them to know how happy I was with my photos and how few people seemed to know about producing these little books. As a thank you, the person who wrote back credited my account with a coupon. I have no idea what the value of that coupon is.

Since I’m writing something nice about Shutterfly, I think it’s only fair to reveal my gift.

&#185 – I did have some 5×7’s and 8×10’s printed at Winkflash and they did a very nice job for very little money. Since they’re nearby, in Rhode Island, the photos came back in a few days.

Last Photo Entry… For Now

This will be the last I talk about my Maine photos. It’s starting to bore me, and they’re my shots!

Yesterday I complained about Winkflash’s process for designing a photo book. I was hoping their software wasn’t the same as everyone else’s… and it wasn’t! Sorry Winkflash – on this one you lose (though, as you’ll hear, I did give them some business). I went instead to Shutterfly

What is it with photo processor names? Along with the two I’ve already mentioned, there’s Snapfish. C’mon. We’re being put on, right?

These were the best names available?

Shutterfly’s web based software is similar to Winkflash’s, but works much more quickly and efficiently. There are also more choices to customize the photo book.

Actually, there were too many choices including page and cover color, layout and text. More choices means it takes more time. I also have a tendency to become more insecure, worrying I’ve done something stylishly stupid.

The biggest problem switching to Shutterfly was uploading my chosen photos again! Even with high speed Internet access it took a few hours.

I am pleased with my finished book. At least I’m pleased with how it looks online. In the past I’ve found the printed version of photos always looks better than what’s on the screen.

My 25 page book, with at least 75-80 pictures (most pages feature multiple pictures), will cost $19.26 shipped. Not bad.

Having finished the book, I looked to print a few 8×10 and 5x7s. I couldn’t believe Shutterfly’s prices. They were much more than what I had seen elsewhere.

Since the photos were already loaded at Winkflash, and their price was much more reasonable, I ordered the singles there. My 5-5x7s and 3-8x10s were $8.41 out the door (and since they’re coming from Rhode Island the wait shouldn’t be too long).

You might be wondering how I got to these two companies to begin with? The answer is Picasa.

Though I process my photos with Photoshop, let me go on record recommending Picasa if you deal with digital photos.

Picasa is one of those Swiss Army Knife programs which does a lot of different things. It will pull photos off your camera to your PC. Then it acts as a file manager to let you see what you’ve got on your hard drive.

You can easily (I mean without a manual or reading the directions) sharpen, brighten, crop and enhance any photo. If you burn your photos to a disk, Picasa will add a slide show function that plays right off the CD. It also handles the upload to a photo processor or blog.

Did I mention, it’s free and from Google?

Now comes the last step in vacation photos – waiting.