Radio Silence Ending

Life! It happens! 

There’s been a lot of it going on. Also a lot of bike riding, getting together with family, working, and getting on with things.
Instead of a long post with words, here’s some pictures.

Going back in time, these are some things I was thinking or doing.

You’ll see lots of memes, bikes, people on bikes, and our cat, Pearl. She’s the cutest!

Moving On From Picasa? WTH, Google?

Goddamit, Google, not again. You’re retiring yet another essential productivity tool!!

Since the launch of Google Photos, we’ve had a lot of questions around what this means for the future of Picasa. After much thought and consideration, we’ve decided to retire Picasa over the coming months in order to focus entirely on a single photo service in Google Photos. We believe we can create a much better experience by focusing on one service that provides more functionality and works across mobile and desktop, rather than divide our efforts across two different products.

Via Googleblog:
Moving On From Picasa”

I grumble at the way Picasa indexes things, but have based my entire blogging and online creative workflow around how Picasa organizes my images. I use plugins to make batch uploading to Flickr and Facebook easy.

Goddamit, goddamit. Whatever happened to “Don’t Be Evil?”

Murphyola’s and Veda’s Rum Balls

This is one of several recipe cards Mom wrote up to pass along the secret of her famous Rum Balls, which she developed with her best friend, Veda West. .The story of how this recipe was created involved a big church fundraiser, endless taste-testing, taking doors off hinges, and getting plastered. Also the way I heard it, Mom and Veda had to explain to the church pastor why they were so shickered making Christmas cookies in the church kitchen.

My niece Raeanne has the Christmas card they sent back and forth multiple times in later years, with a story about a cheerful bunny making a batch of liquored-up fruit cake, with disastrous (and hilarious) results. This made them laugh like stink each year; Christmas had well and truly begun when the card had been sent back and forth.

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Recipe: Rum Balls Serves : Many
Favorite recipe of: Murphyola and Veda

Use 1/2 recipe for less than a mob!

2-1 pound box Vanilla Wafers, crushed evenly
4 cups powdered sugar
5 cups chopped pecans
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
1 1/4 cup rum

Be sure wafers are crushed well, no lumps, and nuts are finely chopped.
Sift powdered sugar and cocoa together. Blend rum and Karo. Add sugar and cocoa to (vanilla wafer) crumbs, then add in the rum and Karo, thorough blending of all.

Can be packed into Tupperware airtight (containers) – to ‘mellow’ – til ready to make into balls 1″ (press and roll firmly). Rolls in powdered sugar – must be kept air tight or they dry out — make out only what is needed – makes a mess. Would use 1/2 recipe.

That’s pretty much the verbatim transcription. Mom seemed to use a dash or emdash for any kind of punctuation. The card is in a little plastic envelope and is a bit messy, with guck on it from being handled with gooey hands. The older versions of this recipe are with my sister Timmy – she says she has several cards, but still had to adjust the recipe a bit for a reasonably-sized batch. My niece Holly Martin, who’s one of the family foodies, commented on Facebook that this didn’t seem to have enough rum! Well, well see, but I seem to recall these things being pretty powerful, so don’t give them to anyone that should not have alcohol, as they are not cooked in any way.

I remember being delegated to crush vanilla wafers in a paper bag with a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer, as Mom never did get around to buying a full-size food processor, although she had a tiny one that was good for chopping maybe a half-cup of nuts at a time. I also remember chopping pecans and repeatedly being told “no, they’re not fine enough, keep chopping!”

David remembers helping Mom to roll out a batch on his first visit to Salt Lake to meet the family, which was in about 1996? Before we were married.

I’ll be attempting to make rum balls this year – I have a smallish food processor so I’ll be making either a quarter batch or a half batch. I bought Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, I have Captain Morgans’s Spiced Rum, and a 12 oz. box of Vanilla wafers, so will probably add in some crushed butter cookies to make up the difference.

Will have to run out to the store for the additional cookies though, cause I ated the first box this week for teatime snacks.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station: Chris Hadfield: 9780316379649: Amazon.com: Books

This looks amazing:

Chris Hadfield's book of photography from space,

Divided by continent, YOU ARE HERE represents one (idealized) orbit of the ISS. This planetary photo tour — surprising, playful, thought-provoking, and visually delightful — is also punctuated with fun, fascinating commentary on life in zero gravity.

Via Amazon:You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station

Deblogging: It’s Like Debugging, But With Words

Riley Lubs Hiz Toyz

It’s been such a long time since I’ve written anything about the goings-on here at Chez Gique.

Why? I’ve been putting stuff off, and avoiding my desktop computer, and not using the laptop because it seems really slow and pokey now, and a whole host of reasons. The backlog of Stuff I Need To Do and the backlog of Stuff I Should Blog About is just… enormous, and the tools at my disposal (newish iPhone, newish iPad mini) are usually being used for important stuff like reading about someone doing something worng on the Internets, or playing Minion Rush.

So anyway, a list, in emotional bombshell order, of stuff that’s on my mind or on my chest that I need to put into words and deal with.

Riley died on August 31. I have a lot of photos on my phone of him, and even more on my desktop, but not many of him from the last couple of months, because his lymphoma just made him so, so skinny. I tried, in a last ditch effort, to get him on a more beefed up drug regimen and it seemed to be helping at first, but he couldn’t hang on to any nutrition no matter what we did.

Finally, the last week it looked pretty dire, as I had time off that week and spent a lot of time holding him and trying to get him to eat. On the Sunday, he stood over his water dish with this befuddled “what do I do now?” attitude and was unable to lap up any water. He was unsteady on his feet and as David and I looked at him, aghast, I thought “Oh, he’s done…. he’s just so tired.” It seemed like the last-ditch, full-bore heroics route would just prolong the inevitable, since he was dehydrated anyway and I could only get him to take a few squirts of water by mouth with a syringe.

I held him as he rested from the effort to try to get him to drink and eat (he pretty much turned away from offered food, and the oral syringe was clearly causing him to stress out). And David and I decided, well, we’d fought hard and Riley had fought hard, and our vet’s office, though closed, had an outgoing message that recommended a nearby 24/7 emergency pet hospital for out-of-hours problems (it was a Sunday, after all). So we packed Riley into his favorite basket (not the usual carrier), and we went over there while I held him on my lap and petted him. He looked around a little, like.. “whu…. whut’s goin’ on?” but he didn’t cry and wasn’t too fussed. And so on and so forth; the vet evaluated him, talked to us about options, and agreed with us that it was time. We stayed with him, petting him and talking to him, through the very end. The vet left us alone with him for as long as we needed.

We left without out our dear friend and companion, but before leaving him alone on the cold steel examining table, I made sure… I just had to make him a cozy kitty one last time, it was this thing I would always do. We were leaving a towel behind, and I wrapped him up in a little nest the way he had liked. It was a very final farewell, because as I handled him it was made crystal clear to me that he was gone. We left, quickly, and went home to clear things away and clean up the area where his bowls and food had been stored. Later that day, we went to a family barbecue and wondered what the hell had happened to us – felt like we’d been blindsided. Little did we know… but the house has been awfully quiet since then.

We miss him and will continue to mourn him for a long time.

As it happens, he had a stash of meds and food that could be donated back to our regular vet to help someone else’s cat, so yesterday I finally made time to head over there with a bagful of high-nutrition kitten food, drugs, supplies, and some other canned stuff that was refundable. Actually, I was in the neighborhood because of the next development in order of emotional bombshellness.

So I walked in to Arlington Cat Clinic and dropped off all the goodies and chatted with Adelle at the front desk, and looked at the current cat-in-residence who’s available for adoption – her name is Gabby and she looked like a sweet girl tabby. Then one of the techs walked to the back with a small cat carrier that was emitting a series of tiny little squeaks.

What was it? a Meezer kitten – a Siamese that had been found in someone’s window well. It required hand feeding because it was so tiny. It was just a week or two old.

When I was growing up, my childhood cat Beebee had several litters of kittens, until my mom finally decided to get her spayed (or as I thought it was pronounced, “spaded”). So it had been many years since I’d held a wee Meezer kitty, and it was just big enough to fill one hand. Its eyes were open but its ears were still placed far down on the side of its skull – as the kitty grows, the ears sort of migrate from the sides to the top because the space between them doesn’t increase that much.

So it cried and went “eee! EEE!!” while I held it under my chin while I cried and went “aw… AWWWWW”, and the tears started to come. Adelle came up and asked me something about Riley’s stuff that I’d dropped off. So I cuddled it a bit and handed it back for more feeding, knowing that we couldn’t possibly handle another cat for a long while yet. We need to take some time.

But boy, it sure is going to be cute, and there are some siblings and the mom that someone else brought in, so if you want to get your name in, check with Arlington Cat Clinic, they have a lot of other kittens and cats available for adoption that are currrently fostered out. Although they don’t take cats in, they do have their… network of minions that make sure that cats have someplace to stay while waiting to be placed.

Here’s a video that they made, featuring hospital cat and Head of Security, Dr Leon. I didn’t see him on our recent visits, so I hope he’s okay, he was a big help when I had to re-learn how to pill Riley a couple of years ago.

So that brings me to the next thing on my mind.

It’s a wonderful thing that David’s dad Sheldon and his lovely lady Linda live near us, as we can get together with them so easily now, with no hour-long drive to their home. We attended a family barbecue (the day we lost Riley) and then a week later, there was another family barbecue – so easy now to gather the family, we couldn’t be happier for Dad and Linda.

At that second barbecue, we met some new extended family (close family to Linda). It was a very nice time, but there was a lot of hubbub and people milling about, so it was kind of hard to visit with everyone. Some of Linda’s family members were traveling on to the next part of a long-planned vacation, and they were very excited about that. I wish I had spent more time talking with them. REALLY wish.

A few days after the second barbecue, Sheldon texted me to call him, and got shocking news; one of Linda’s family, that we met for the first time that Sunday, had passed away suddenly, and Linda was already on her way to an Eastern city to be with other family members who were left waiting for everyone to get home from the west coast vacation. There’s a lot to leave unsaid, but it was completely unexpected, although the family member did have a chronic illness that ultimately wasn’t the direct cause of death.

It was just. awful and so very sudden. You just can never tell what comes next (or not) in life.

So to make things easier for Shel, I went over several times this week to help him with Linda’s cats, and then he went East for the services. I was happy to do something to help Linda so she wouldn’t have to worry, and I was happy to spend time with cats that I could feed, pet, and say “bye-bye” and head home. Shel and Linda got home earlier today, and her family are gathering themselves together after dealing with the services and all the people wanting to help them – there was an outpouring of love, and it was very inspiring, according to Linda. But still, in the end, the family is left to pick themselves up and go on, so they will.

Aside from the crappy end to the summer, it’s been great… um and now it’s going to be fall soon, as the weather seems to have gone colder and wetter awfully early.

That’s about it for the catch-up, now to see if this draft makes it to the server.

Crossposted from the backup site on WordPress.com, http://blogularasa.wordpress.com/.

David has updated the servers, and moved stuff around, so for now at least, I’m blogging again.

Am I The Last Person To Discover Google+’s Enhanced Photos Feature? Now with MOAR LOLPeacocks

I was cleaning out mail from some of my Gmail.com accounts and realized that even deleting almost all of the unwanted mail still left 11G of stuff stored in there. At some point, I must have enabled the photo backup feature and WHOA. It had EVERYTHING on my iPhone, everything in Picasa.

If you take a lot of pictures of a Christmas tree from the same angle, you get an animated, twinkly Tannenbaum (with people dancing around it if they’re decorating). It’s actually kind of a pretty effect – Christmas Eve 2013, singing Silent Night with guitar accompaniment, you get the lit candles sparkling, too.

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There’s some settings to figure out to stop the jittering, it’s much smoother “as is” if this were uploaded to a public album on Google Photos. This way, the angels on the Angel Tree look sorta fidgety.

If you take a lot of pictures of something, like the multiple head shots we took for the infamous 3D Head birthday gift prank, you get animated… heads.

And no, I’m not going there. But the Inadvertent LOLwhale albums from many years’ worth of whale-watching cruises were entertaining (I have a lot to work with there).

If you take a lot of pictures of an animal, like a peacock at a nature reserve on Oahu’s North Shore, you get this:

BEAUTIFULPEACOCK

I made it more bettah with lots of diva attitude.

So while playing around with that and laughing at the LOLwhales and whatnot, I figured out that the funny captions on animated GIFs have to be on each layer, not just on a transparency over the top, or you get this manic blinktag effect.

That’s all for now! I’m now the last person on the Internets who learned a stupidly easy way to make animated GIFs.

Carrot Cake Recipe : Alton Brown : Srsly Good Eats

Carrot Cake : Alton Brown

So this was the recipe that I started with to take to Mitch and Gloria’s on New Year’s Day. I originally thought I’d bake it as a bundt cake, but didn’t have a pan. However, I did have a springform pan, and I jazzed it up with some chopped pecans and a little orange juice/butter/rum sauce that I reduced down by half. I didn’t really have a recipe for the sauce, just started with about half and half rum and orange juice, with a couple of tablespoons (or more) of butter, with just a little orange zest. I reduced the sauce as long as I could stand it (it tasted really, really good but I didn’t want it to go too long and get bitter).

The cake was a dream to put together, because it all got done in the big food processor. First the carrots got grated in it and set aside, then the wet and dry stuff got mixed and then combined in a big bowl. It called for a 9 inch cake pan and the springform was a little more than 10 inches across, so it was shorter in the pan when it was baked, but it came out of the pan like a dream. I loaded it up with about a quarter of the sauce and wrapped it up in plastic for transport the next day (I put it together New Year’s Eve).

It has yogurt in it instead of sour cream, so it had a nice tartness and a rich mouthfeel. I had dressed it up with the chopped pecans around the top edge and down the sides, and then when we were ready for it, served it with a dab of the sauce down the side. Mmmm, yummy.

The End And The Beginning of My Virtual Life

My iPhone died today. I’m not sure why, but it couldn’t have been good when the speaker dock I’d been using started making more squawky noises than usual – sometimes with shocklingly loud humming and buzzing that came through the speakers. It somehow managed to charge the phone where my older docks did not, but it was never a happy marriage, and David had remarked that it was unshielded, so there’d always be interference. So he’d already found a little wireless speaker called “Mini Jambox” that would be my Hannumas present, and he’s getting a GoPro.

But the iPhone? It’s my life, or a big part of my virtual life. It’s constantly at hand, and being without it isn’t really an option, because all my calendar listings, notes, emails, and a ton of other stuff is on it.

iphone5c-selection-green-2013

Welp, since my iPhone gave up the ghost, refusing to power up via battery and unable to connect to wifi to be reset, off we went to the local AT&T store to get a replacement, as we figured it had finally gotten the shock of its life and gone poof. Alas, the bright guy at the AT&T store didn’t have any of the Chosen One (an iPhone 5C) in stock. We liked Glenn, he pounced on us very politely when we walked purposefully into the AT&T store, and if only things had gone otherwise, we wouldn’t have had an hour’s worth of woe and gnashing of teeth at Best Buy.

But off we went to the Best Buy, where at first things were off to an auspicious start: not only did they have the 32G 5c in stock, they had it in white AND blue AND green. Faced with an actual color choice other than the Model T (black) and the Model A (white), I froze all deerlike in the headlights and blurted out “Green!” Well, in retrospect, maybe the blue would have been the less neon-y choice, but the color is kind of minty and it’s growing on me, and it goes with my deep blue/purplish Hannemas present (but I’m getting ahead of myself).

Anyway, we started the process of de-commissioning the old phone off of our account and enabling the new, but Houston, we had a problem: the Best Buy tech person said that she’d typed my phone number in correctly (…) but they had de-commissioned David’s phone (and he had a conference call to take in less than an hour back home). The tech rushed to get this corrected, IMing the AT&T people frantically, and finally calling (on her own iPhone) to have them fix it.

Unfortunately, the fix meant somehow that both SIM cards (on David’s current phone, and on my erstwhile new phone) had been disabled. So she had to get two new SIM cards out, enable each and install each in the proper phone, and insure that the phones had the right phone number. While that was playing out and we were politely trying not to freak out too much, the tech had a floor runner fetch a green iPhone case and comped it to me for the trouble. Well, heck, I still could have had a blue case, it’s got holes in the back that would be like fun polka dots in the contrasting green. Anyway, eventually she got the SIM cards installed, David called my new phone, it worked, and we were good to go.

Back home again, I started rebuilding all my email passwords, swearing at Yahoo for making the “forgot my password” process such a nightmare (for various reasons, I have several Yahoo email accounts, to go with various social IDs). David had to step in and straighten that out.

I was relieved that my apps had made it through the ordeal, even though I hadn’t synched the old phone to iTunes since September. And now I see that a bunch of my songs didn’t stay in iTunes… there’s a lot more of them on my laptop, which I *thought* I had gotten to synch up to the desktop. I can see that the end is not in sight, but will try to get the old library to synch to the new one. I also still have the Gateway computer handy, which may have the synched library. It needs to be decommissioned, if not.

MiniJambox

David decided to give me my prezzie early, so I powered up the MiniJambox, installed the app that makes it easy to configure and paired it up via Bluetooth with the new iPhone. As an added bonus feature, it also acts as a speakerphone, and a full charge lasts 10 hours… AND it can get Siri talking, too. I started fooling with some of the other features, as it can connect to Spotify, Rdio, and something called Deezer through the app. It sounds terrific, it’s compact and nicely designed, and comes with a mini-USB charge/synch cable and an audio line in/line out double-ended cable (for those times when using Bluetooth to connect isn’t… what, necessary? It paired like a dream).

I signed up for the Spotify free trial and the Rdio free trial. Apparently some services on either will remain free, but playlists and albums are a subscription deal after the trials; I will pass on paying. After all, I still have bad vibes from when Last.fm, the original source of much scrobbling, took their free service to a subscription model, and I went in search of free internet radio apps that scrobbled to my blogs. While I’ve got the free trials, I’ll listen to as much stuff as I can.

HolidayMinionRush

My last big worry: did my Minion Rush game app survive and make the leap across the chasm, with more than 400,000 delicious bananas and quite a cache of game tokens, not to mention my level 26 ranking? Yes, thank goodness, it did – such a funny game – if I’d been reset to 0 loot, 0 tokens, 0 levels I’d have been pretty sad. And right after downloading the delightful Holiday Lab update, too! It’s so Christmassy (say that like “it’s so fluffy!” and you’ll have it right).

So the resurrection continues (it’s not blasphemy unless it’s capitalized, right? Right.). My work life will be full of music (and no more buzzing and crackling). And my play life will be renewed too, because we’re thinking this Jambox thing will be great to bring on future trips… more on “future trips” later.