Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Off Season - Installment 01

We're officially into the scooter "off season" here with consistent temperatures at which it's just too uncomfortable to ride for any reason.  Since I still enjoy writing here, though, I'll be posting a series of "The Off Season" posts just with regular old stuff for the few of you who enjoy reading about what I've been up to doing.  As usual I'll probably use recent pictures that I've taken as inspiration.  After all, if it's worth taking a picture of, it's worth writing about - right?  Okay, admittedly, after some (about a half a second's worth) of deliberation I realize that you wouldn't want to hear about even 1% of what I photograph.  Nonetheless, I find SOME pictures worth a bit of story.

 I continue to enjoy the results of having lost 40 pounds since September.  The belt in this picture shows the setting on which I needed to cinch it when I went into the hospital on Sept. 16th.  Though I've not updated my wardrobe and my old clothes kind of hang off me, I want to keep going with the weight loss and buy some new duds when I'm where I'd like to be.

The dirty people who used to live next door and who supported themselves with a brisk trading in drugs were evicted some weeks ago.  The landlord filled two of these dumpsters with the crap they left behind before fixing the place up and getting new tenants.  Our new next door neighbors appear to be a normal young couple with a few kids and we hope they're going to continue to be as friendly and "normal" as they've been so far.

It was during the first summer after I bought the Piaggio BV that we decided to replace the small back porch on the back of the house with a deck which would serve as a carport for the scooter as well as a nice place to enjoy the outdoors during the warmer months.  How I longed to take the laptop or netbook or tablet out to the table on the deck to do various things online, but I didn't dare to do so because the last thing I wanted was for the lowlifes who lived next door to know that I have these things lest they break in to take them.  The back door was kicked in once, a few years ago, but nothing was taken because I suspect that the scum who did it noticed the camera aimed at the door only after having given it a swift kick hard enough to break the lock and open the door.  Hopefully now, with the druggies gone, I'll be able to enjoy outdoor activities with my gadgets.

Noticing that there were issues with my power steering, I took the Impala to our mechanic to find not only that it needed a new power steering pump but, this advice: "You need FOUR new tires NOW! These are all bald!"  Now I'm not surprised that a few weeks ago I couldn't make it up a bit of a rise that was covered with a few inches of packed down snow.  I admit that I look at things on the scooter a lot more often than I do with the car to try to stay safe.

Looking to use up some of the booze out in the pantry I came up with an interesting concoction that everybody thinks is disgusting sounding until they give it a sip and ask for their own glass of it.  It's Goldschlager, melon liqueur, and vodka in more or less equal proportions.  If I had to name it, it would be something like an "I Won't Care about Much in an Hour or So."

On these cold winter nights it's a perfect sipping drink while watching TV and enjoying the company of one or more cats that decide to sit atop me.  I'm told that when I'm away, Cricket, who is the usual cat that jumps onto me when I settle in to watch Jeopardy each evening waits by the foot of the couch looking and waiting for me all evening.

I bought two new gadgets in recent weeks, the first of which I'm wearing above.  It's not the sporty hat, but rather the blue thing hanging around my neck and clipped to the front of my jacket.  It's an "ION SnapCam Lite™" which is a still and a video camera with no viewfinder or display.  It can take single still pics, decent video clips, and best of all it has a time lapse mode that will snap a still picture every 30 seconds.

I was doing my daily walk, around the perimeter and up and down the aisles of our local Target store a few days ago and came upon a clearance rack when I found the ION marked down to $23 and some cents.  A quick check online with my phone showed it with a suggested retail price of $99 so I jumped on it.  The pic of me driving above was taken with it on my way back to the house after I purchased it.  It's shrunk to a quarter of the original size.  I'm really looking forward to using this camera on the scooter when the weather warms up!

Here's night falling from the back window in the form of a short video made from 30 second still shots.  The brightness in the upper right hand corner of the clip as it gets darker is a reflection from the window pane of the inside of the kitchen.

Similarly, I was walking around the local Walmart last week "visiting the electronics" as I call my leisurely tour of the gadget aisles to see if there's anything new under the sun since my last visit when I found a beat up box that contained a "Pogoplug" device of which I'd never heard.  It was a small black box with an ethernet port, a USB port, and an SD port that's supposed to make any thumb drive or hard drive that's plugged into it into a personal cloud that's accessible from any smart device or computer anywhere.  Because I have close to 90,000 digital photos that I'd taken since 1997 or so and many of them of family functions I thought this little device would provide me with a quick, easy way to share all those pictures with family members.  It was marked at $39.99, but at 10% off because the box was beaten to hell.  It seemed a bit steep, but I really wanted it so I parted with the cash only to have to return it because I couldn't get my network to recognize it.

I was hugely disappointed, but some plinking around online revealed that if it had been activated by someone and returned to the store, I'd never get it to work.  Each device, once activated, "belongs" to the person who activated it unless it's deactivated before being passed on to somebody else.  The good news was that a quick Google session got me to an offer for a bigger and better Pogoplug for $15.99 that allows one to plug in up to FOUR USB drives.  Nearly a week later and I have almost all of those nearly 90,000 photos on the device and ready for my daughters, sister, et al, to browse away and grab all of the photos they'd like from the past almost 20 years.

If you landed here looking for a review of the Pogoplug, let me assure you that it is a good piece of hardware.  Be advised, however, that if you're planning to upload tens of thousands of pictures it's going to take quite a while.  The device creates a thumbnail of each photo saved to it so that when a picture folder is being accessed the remote user has some idea of what's in each photo.  It can take over an hour to save a large directory of pictures with thumbnail creation turned on, but it's well worth the investment of time in order to have the thumbnails.  It should be noted that the thumbnail creation function can be turned off which will make uploading the files much quicker.

And that's about it for this inaugural installment of what I might be writing about during the scooter's dry dock time.  Stay warm!  Stay happy!  If you're the kind of person who enjoys winter activities, I hope you have a blast.  Meanwhile I'll be hunkered down with a few cats and a little booze to keep me warm.


kz1000st said...

No one can accuse you of being a Technophobe Joe. My daughter keeps trying to drop new and exciting devices on me and I just utter, "Uh huh."

David Masse said...

I enjoyed that. Keep'em coming Joe!