Friday, April 30, 2010

Dave! Talking Movies . . . (Making Copies!!!)

I warned you, didn't I? Behold the return of the video blog -- now with more ramble.

If you want to check out the first released still pic of Chris Hemsworth as Thor, click here.

To see the trailer for Jonah Hex, click here.

What do you think? Is Jonah Hex going to suffer the same fate as Will Smith's Wild Wild West? In other words, are you getting a severe campy vibe from the little footage being shown? I'm having some misgiving about this now, but I think in the end Josh Brolin will save the day. He's the only awesome thing about this so far.

So, About That Netbook Dilemma . . .

I spoke about it earlier this month, my decision to buy a portable computer but not knowing whether to go the Netbook or rather small laptop route? Click here if you need a refresher.

So, like I was pretty much already leaning toward in that entry . . . I ended up getting the Dell Inspiron 11z "mini" book. It just came via FedEx yesterday!

So far so good. It does everything your typical netbook does: plays movies on a widescreen display, surf the net, etc. Since it's a netbook, it can't play DVDs or load up CDs because -- hey, there's no optical drive! But there are ways and then there are WAYS around that, which I won't go into here.

It's smaller than your typical laptop, but has a bigger screen than your typical netbook: 11.6 inches, to be exact. Nice middle ground there, no? It weighs next to nothing, too! I don't have a postal scale so I can't tell for sure, but it feels just slightly above 3 pounds with the huge 6-cell power brick inserted into the back.

What else do I like about it? Hmm . . . well, for one, Windows 7 totally kicks ass! I wasn't so sure how I would weather the crossover from Windows XP, but I couldn't be happier. I'm so glad I didn't buy this back in the Vista days, though. Phew!

I actually purchased a MS Office license with the netbook, so I spent a few minutes registering that and then testing out the various programs like Word and Excel. Most netbooks come only with MS Works installed, if at all. But--and I shouldn't need to say this--Works sucks balls! I thought I would be able to handle it, but after giving it a test run in stores I have to say I was severely disappointed. I'll stick with Office for now, thank you.

The built-in webcam was a nice bonus feature I completely forgot about. Once again, Windows 7 made the whole process of recording and compiling videos a breeze. As evidenced by the rather bizarre and late-night vids I posted earlier. Again, sorry for that. I know the quality is horrible. I'll be looking in to fixing that over the weekend.

Funny thing about the vids. For some reason the audio synch was way off when I uploaded them on to my Youtube account. The audio's fine when I review the files on my desktop. But something screwy seems to happen when I upload the same files to Youtube. I'm not the first person to complain about this issue, though. Seems a lot of people who record their videos through integrated laptop or netbook cams experience the same synching problems. What's up with that?

I'm sure if I'd done some more research I would've figured it out. But screw that! I'm an impatient man when it comes to my gadgets. I needed answers NOW!!! I remember a video blogger I follow mentioning switching his account over to Vimeo. So this is what I did. And, voilĂ ! The videos work, and the audio is in synch! So from now on until I learn better, Vimeo will be the repository of all my future inane video babblings.

Scared yet? Well, you should be.

During lunch today I went out and purchased a bluetooth mouse since the netbook has built-in bluetooth technology. I'm currently trying to decide between a bluetooth headphone set for watching movies on the plane vs. a traditional wired one. Either way, this time I'm going to go with actual foam cans instead of earbuds. I'm tired of the feeling of having hard plastic shoved inside my ear canals each time I want to just listen to music or watch a tv show. And, plus, they do a piss-poor job of canceling out the ambient engine noise on airplanes for some inexplicable reason. You would think with the speaker portion jammed so close to my eardrums, I wouldn't hear anything *but* the media I'm playing. But guess again.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'll update this blog if any exciting developments occur with my new toy. It's good to live in the age of technology, ain't it?

Ack! What Have They Done?

Somebody up and gave this fool a webcam! Be afraid, be very very afraid.

I'm still trying to work the kinks out. I'm not a big fan of the video quality, despite trying to tweak the settings. Anyway, if you ever wanted to know what I looked and sounded like en media res, here you go!

Well, that was weird. Hey, look, it's like 1:00 in the morning, I'm tired, and I didn't really look in a mirror before recording this. Here, I discuss it some more in this next video. Whoopeee! Here I go with a new toy again.

Seriously, that's all for tonight folks. I'll leave your bleeding eyes alone to recover now. Nighty nite!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

David Anthony Durham Interview

Just read a cool mini interview of relatively new writer David Anthony Durham in this month's edition of Locus magazine. As you can see, it's the one featuring an interview with James Blaylock front and center on the cover. Another good interview, that. But not why I'm writing in today.

As some of you may know, Durham is the winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and author of the epic fantasy Acacia: The War with the Mein (2007), and its followup The Other Lands (2009). I'm currently reading Acacia, and all I can say is: Durham is a boundlessly talented writer! I recently attended a reading of his here in NYC, and Tarrell even ran up to him with *my* HC edition of The Other Lands to have it personally autographed to me. How cool!

In the interview this month, I particularly liked what he had to say about his early "starving writer" years living abroad in France with his wife and not finding the conditions of being dirt poor all too appealing:

"I had no Internet, and I didn't really speak French. So it was writing all day, and cooking food for my wife when she got home. She was supporting us -- we were really, really poor. I guess it sounds romantic, but over the winter I would turn off the heat when she went to work. At the time I didn't love being in my sleeping bag with my fingerless gloves on, typing away."

I just get a kick out of this! That's so how I feel when people say they're "envious" of the hardships I've endured to get to where I am today. They tell me it builds character. I say: I'd rather have had a normal life, thank you very much.

But that's neither here or now.

Anyway, check out the rest of the interview by clicking . . .

Oh wait, you can only read this by purchasing the issue or subscribing to it. Oopsie! Guess you'll just have to take my word for it. But suffice to say: the interview is GOOD!

Or, you know, you can stop being a cheapskate and sign up to receive this wonderful SF semi-pro zine at your doorstep every month. It's what I do.

Click on this link and subscribe today!

No, seriously, the Locus staff are good peeps and work so very hard to ensure a quality issue hits the street every month. If not the subscriber type, you can find single issues to purchase at the magazine section of your local big chain bookstore, too.

So there, you've got no excuse! I personally read Locus to stay up to date on all the latest and forthcoming books in the SF world, as well as to keep an eye out on all the future big names in the making. But the magazine offers so much more than that. I can't sing its praises high enough.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Coming . . .

Just got an e-mail update from Dell today. Looks like my Netbook has been constructed and shipped off -- hooray! I had placed the order a little over a week ago, and was told I would most likely get it on May 5th. Which, needless to say, felt like a very LONG time away.

But seems I'll be getting it a week earlier than estimated. This Thursday to be precise. Yippeee! Looks like I have a new toy to break in over the weekend. I'll post impressions and maybe a pic or two when I have the thing up and running.

In the meantime, if you have absolutely no idea what I'm blabbering on about, check out the original entry I wrote on the whole affair a while back by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Bon Voyage Is Official!

Well, as of this morning I've paid the final amount on what will be our next big trip celebrating our 5-year anniversary. Yup, this time we'll be going on our 2nd cruise together . . . touring the Eastern Mediterranean. The 11-night voyage will be aboard the brand new (since July 2009) luxury liner, the "Equinox," part of Celebrity Cruises' fleet.

For those who may recall, our first cruise was a 7-night, 4 port Caribbean affair back in 2007. This time, we're going to be visiting more exotic locales at 7 ports-of-call across 3 countries -- and I for one CAN'T WAIT!!!

The ship departs from Rome, which means we'll have to endure yet another 9-hour trans Atlantic flight before we even begin the cruise. But I mean, come on -- it's to ROME! Somehow I don't foresee this being a problem.

Once aboard our ship, the itinerary will include stops along the Mediterranean at the following ports:

Athens, Greece
Santorini, Greece
Mykonos, Greece
Istanbul, Turkey
Ephesus, Turkey
Naples/Capri, Italy

And, finally, a return to Rome. We set sail on a Monday evening in July, but will actually arrive in Rome a couple of days earlier so as to take in the city and relax before we board. Two days in Rome before a whirlwind 11-night cruise is not so bad, eh? In fact, it sounds pretty damn awesome to me right about now.

I'm most looking forward to spending almost a day and a half in Istanbul, according to our itinerary. I've always wanted to go, and would in fact prefer to spend an entire week there to explore all the wonderful richness of the city's history and culture. But alas this trip will have to just whet my appetite until I can return for a longer, more detailed, stay.

Of course, the history buff in me is also thrilled at getting to visit Rome and Athens, too. However, because of the very short stay in Athens (only 7 hours), I predict we will only have time to visit the most touristy of areas like the Parthenon. Oh well, guess I'll have to make a return trip there someday, too.

I haven't yet figured out our land excursions. I'm a bit worried about booking them through the cruise ship since those trips will likely be crowded and overly expensive. I'm looking into arranging private tours with only a handful of other fellow cruisers, independent of Celebrity, but I fear I won't have the time to stay on top of the details before we leave. Might be that we'll end up booking everything through the ship's concierge by default. Bummer.

Still, even that won't be a deal breaker against all the fun I plan on having visiting all these wonderful locations. Just like last year, looks like 2010 is shaping up to be quite the year in travel for us. Niiice!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hey, A Blog On Virgos!

I just stumbled across this site, which I believe is run by someone named "Joe Pennant." It seems to be all about Virgos and how simply awesome we are! Although, I wish this person would learn the difference between the possessive and the plural noun. Arggh!

"One of the consequences of this is that Virgo's strive to keep their minds clear and their emotions compartmentalized. Adjectives of them being like "Vulcans" are thrown around, Virgo's are characterized as being unfeeling. Not at all, Virgo's are human too - but they do place a premium on logic, that is true. It's just that being emotional interferes with the thinking. That is why they prefer being calm."

LOL! Even though I don't typically buy into astrological signs and what have you, it's scary how much I embody the usual (some would say stereotypical) traits of those born under the sign of Virgo. I would like to say that they're mostly wrong, but they're mostly not. Mostly.

Those who know me well, how close does this come to describing me? I feel only Lisa would appreciate this most since, while she hasn't known me the longest, she certainly knows me the most intimately. But alas, she is a Virgo too, so it'll be like preaching to the choir were I to show this to her.

Click on this link, btw, if you want to read the full entry. And when you're done, check out the rest of the blog why don't you? Pretty interesting--and amazingly accurate--stuff!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Laptops vs Netbooks

I've been looking into this conundrum for the past two weeks now. Which portable computing system to purchase, that is. And bearing in mind that I don't want to spend more than $800 for whichever choice I do go with.

Do I get a Netbook: generally smaller, slower, and weighing a lot less than a traditional laptop, but lacking a lot of the features that are standard on the latter?

Or do I get a Notebook PC: generally bulkier, but possessing greater functionality over a Netbook?

In the end, I had to decide what exactly I intended to use this machine for. In my mind, I rarely need portable computing power in my everyday life. I'm always either at work or at home, both locations already providing anchored desktop options more than adequate for my needs. And when I go out on the town, the last thing I want to do is lug a computer around with me. Nor do I write in coffee shops, or am by any means a mobile professional always on the go.

In fact, the only time I would need a laptop is when I go away on trips. But since I only do this once or twice a year, it hardly seems worth it, don't you think?

However, I just booked a 2-week voyage on a cruise ship. This after having just come back from a week's stay in Paris where I was sorely missing easy, instant access to the Internet and suffering from withdrawal. Added to this is that said cruise liner has wifi available all throughout the ship and in cabins. So it became clear to me that what I really needed most out of my potential mobile PC was the ability to connect online. And to watch movies on the plane, or to upload trip pics at the end of each day rather than in one huge dump at the end of the trip.

I need to be able to do all these things on one nifty, easy-to-use device that won't break my back carrying it through the airport.

What I don't need is a mobile unit that plays CDs or balances my money accounts. But I *do* need one that lets me draft the occasional short story or novel excerpt on the rare occasion I'm bored on my trip and just NEED to write! Hey, it does happen.

In the end, as should come to no surprise, I settled on the Netbook option. They typically only weigh 3 lbs, and, with the right amount of memory, are perfect for when all you need to do is hop online and check e-mails or watch Hulu.

Moreover, most new Netbooks today come with Windows 7 and some version of MS Works already pre-loaded. And for a good chunk of change, if it so pleases one, one can get the MS Office suite added on, too. If you're into that sort of thing.

Me? A simple word processor, built-in wifi, and a big enough screen to watch videos comfortably on is all I need. For real computing power, I can just wait until I get home. Plus, with a Netbook lying handily around the house, Lisa can hop on real quick to check her mail at any time. Which means no more nagging me to stop hogging up the desktop PC when I'm brainstorming my latest prose session. Bonus!

So, after searching high and low for just the right Netbook, I finally settled on my old tried and true source for most of my computing needs: Dell. Yeah, it's not a choice that's popular with most technorati these days. Or, worse, the pseudo technorati known as Mac users. But Dell is a pretty decent middle-of-the-road option. One that has never failed me yet.

Plus, after looking into virtually every other offering on the market now, I fail to see how any of them tops the Dell model I eventually settled on.

Behold, the Dell Inspiron 11z "mini" book:

The standard model comes in obsidian black, but I've found that the plastics used to make these minis are too shiny and prone to fingerprint smudging. I normally love all my electronics to be as black as the inside of a coffin on a moonless night . . . but this time I decided to fall back to my favorite general color: Blue. The standard "sky blue" option Dell offers for their Inspiron line, however, is a bit too lite of a blue. I prefer sapphire or "midnight" blues.

So I decided to splurge a little extra and use Dell's online "Design Studio" division to customize the top lid of this netbook. The color scheme I settled on--called "Suzi Says Feng Shui" from OPI--is a sort of brushed cobalt blue with some swirlies thrown in. I could've done without the swirlies, but cobalt blue is my FAVORITE! I just hope it looks more cobalt and less aquamarine in person than in that pic above. We shall see.

At the very least, I won't have to deal with fingerprint smudging. I mean, they'll still be there I'm sure. I just won't be able to see them as well as I would against a black background. And, as they say: seeing IS believing!

Anyway, for those who are into such things, here are the specs. Take note of the slightly larger than normal (for Netbooks) screen, as well as the extra memory, which I had to upgrade and which I think is typically abysmal on most Netbooks offered in brick-and-mortar stores. With the amount I've chosen, however, I think my videos and website loading should be quite a bit faster than normal:

11.6" display.
Pentium SU4100 processor (1.3Ghz/800MHz FSB/2MB cache)
Windows 7 premium edition
250GB hard drive
4GB RAM (DDR2, 800MHz on 1 DIMM)
Wireless G mini network card
Built-in Bluetooth
Built-in 1.3 megapixel webcam
3-in-1 flash card reader
HDMI out
56WHr Lithium-ion battery (6-cell)
Dimensions: Height 0.92" x Width 11.5" x Depth 8.43"
Weight: 3.3 lbs

Not bad, if I do say so myself. Laptops can do all this and more, of course -- at the penalty of weight, poorer power management, and general bulkiness. But for a Netbook, this is pretty impressive. And while I haven't made the concrete decision yet, I'm almost certain this is what I'll be getting.

Unless someone out there can point me to a better option . . .

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Still Plotting . . .

For those of you wondering about my progress on the "practice novel" as first mentioned here -- don't worry, I'm still chugging along.

I know I said I would start writing the darn thing on the first of the month, but actually I'm still outlining/plotting. I'm not stuck or anything, just taking things very carefully. The whole point of preparing my notes before I write is so that I minimize as many inevitable errors as I can right now, when the plotting is more fluid. But things are slowly falling in to place and I can begin to see the overall picture and tone of the story I want to tell.

In other words, I've not given up yet. If anything, I'm getting more and more psyched for this novel as I plan it. I'm discovering that I'm really liking the scope of freedom writing a novel affords over a short story. So many fun and interesting story threads I get to weave together! With multiple POVs and thematic arcs aplenty.

Now if I can just pull it all off . . .

In any event, I will keep updating on my progress, including when I eventually start the actual writing of the novel. After that, I'll probably keep mums on the affair as I doubt I'll be updating this blog much during that time period.

I won't completely disappear, to be sure. You'll still get a musing or observation on every day life here and there. Maybe even the occasional movie review or two. But, yeah, once I get truly cracking on this thing, I think even my own wife won't be seeing much of me.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Survey Says!

A co-worker of mine has created a survey for her grad school class concerning a sci-fi based parody-review website. Click on the link below and take 2 minutes to check off a variety of responses to some pretty neat questions re: your interests and online habits:

If sci-fi gaming/comics/movies/books is not your thang, well then . . . what are you doing here on this blog again?

Seriously, though, click on the link and make me happy! :)

That is all.

10 Questions

My good friend, Rodney, over on his blog last night, mentioned "Inside The Actor's Studio" on the Bravo network. And, more specifically, the 10-question mini interview devised by Bernard Pivot and given to guests of the show.

I figured I'd provide my own answers just for shits and giggles today:

01. What is your favorite word?
Prognosticate. (Sounds fairly disgusting, but yet nerdy at the same time)

02. What is your least favorite word?
The N word.

03. What turns you on?
A woman smarter than me.

04. What turns you off?
High maintenance women.

05. What sound or noise do you love?
Shakuhachi flute.

06. What sound or noise do you hate?
People singing/rapping to themselves in public.

07. What is your favorite curse word?

08. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Comedian. (Yeah, no shit)

09. What profession would you not like to do?
Livestock masturbator. (Look it up, it ain't pretty)

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
I'm sending you back on a mission. Here's your sword!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Eye Inside

Went for an eye exam. Didn't really want one, but they force me to get one each time I go in to renew my contact lens supply for the year. But this time, instead of a simple chart to read, the doctor wanted to give me the "Full Monty" of comprehensive exams.

Geez, I felt like a lab rat. What gives with all these different machines now? There was a row of them, like a gauntlet of increasingly complex torture devices lined up against the wall. It reminded me of circuit training at the gym.

The first machine tested my distance vision, whatever the hell that means. I wasn't aware there was any other type of vision for a 33 year old.

Next came one to measure the pressure inside my eyeballs. That turned out fine. After this, a fun little device that tests your peripheral vision. I had to stare into a small opening at a pattern of three red laser dots grouped together at the center of a wide circle -- not unlike the Predator targeting scope from the movies. I had to keep my eyes focused on the red dots while a white dot blinked on and off at random spots and frequency off-center of the circle. Each time I spotted a small, white pinprick flash in my periphery, I had to click a button on this device in my hand. It was strangely akin to whack-a-mole, complete with the software trying to fake you out with lengthy pauses to catch trigger-happy nimrods. Little did they know I have superior video-gaming skills, and that this was actually right down my alley!

I aced it, of course. The woman giving the test was surprised by how fast I clicked to each flash of light. She said my response time was way quicker than average.

Thanks Asteroids, Galaga, and Missile Command! 50 billion quarters and most of my 80s childhood wasted at the arcades has finally paid off!

After all this, I still had one more machine to submit my precious eyeballs to: a high-tech retina mapping imager. I don't know what's the official word for it, but this is a big round machine that needs its own separate room. Yet in operation it's quite simple. You stare into yet another small round hole while a big, bright green rotating laser flashes you from right to left and takes a digital image of the back of your eye. This is to make sure your retinas are healthy and not in danger of becoming detached. Because, if you lose a retina . . . that's it. You're blind, bucko!

Anyway, no bad news to report. Everything checked out fine. After all this, I then had to see the actual doctor. This is where I did the standard eye chart and stare into the impossibly bright light while being told not to blink routine. You would think a place concerned with the health of your eyes would try to not blind its patients with so many bright lights at once, right? You would think, but you'd be wrong.

The doc, a short young Asian dude (who mumbled and was a bit rude) then informed me that he would dilate my eyes.

Why ever would you want to do that? I asked.

To check the inside of your eyes, he said.

But isn't this what that Death Star optical blaster machine did? The one I *just* came from and which left me blinking green for 5 minutes?

Apparently, that machine really is just for retinas. But the doc needed to peer behind my pupils to check for cornea health and all that jazz. I still didn't understand why they couldn't have the machine see this, but went along with it anyway.

So, for 30 minutes I had to sit and wait for the special yellow-acid eye drops from hell to numb my eyes to the point my pupils simply gave up and spread wide. 30 minutes of me wondering why the fuck the lights all around me are suddenly HURTING like stabbing needles inside my brain. Seriously, I had a major headache by minute 15 and eventually had to pull out my own shades to protect myself.

Wait, wasn't he supposed to warn me about this? Not just tell me to wander around the streets outside and come back a half hour later? Also, I thought you're supposed to get special shades to protect your eyes when you go in for these tests? Why was I relying on my own resources in this moment?

Like I said, this doc was clueless. It made me pretty pissed. When I came back in, he saw me with my shades on and said: Oh, good idea. Everyone should wear shades more often.

Oh, no shit doc? Like how about when their pupils are the size of fucking SAUCER PLATES? I would think especially then, right?

Anyway, he then proceeded to shine more bright lights into my eyes. And this time I was seeing bright splotches for what felt like forever. Ow! But he said everything looked good, and that my pupils would return to normal after a couple of hours.

That's it? I was subjected to this much pain and assholery just for a 1-minute evaluation? And they wonder why I always turned this procedure down in the past. I knew it would be a big pain in my ass -- and I was right!

Anyway, I got my contact lenses renewed and am done with this place for at least another year.

How was your day?

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Ties That Bind . . .

One of my Facebook friends recently posited the following observation:

Why is it that the ones we love hurt us the most?

The interpretation, here, is not love between boyfriend and girlfriend (although, that does apply), but rather more like familial love. As I'm sure most of us can relate to, nothing hurts more than the betrayal from a close family member. If a friend or an acquaintance betrays our trust, we shrug our shoulders, ban them from our lives, and move on. But with family, the situation's not so simple. After all, we can't "un-friend" relatives. We still have to eat Thanksgiving dinner with these folks.

So dealing with betrayal from a brother, or aunt, or cousin usually produces a whole list of attendant complications along with it. Well maybe "betrayal" is too strong of a word here. More like disappointment, I guess.

Either way, you know what I mean. Or, at least, what my friend meant. The responses some of his other friends gave back were the typical knee-jerk phrases we're all conditioned to give. Maxims like: "it only hurts because you love them so much"; and: "because those you love know you best, and how to say or do the things that will pain you the most."

And, yeah, I guess this is all true. But honestly, as with most things in life, I think some of the cause of all this pain lies at the feet of the receiver. In other words, a lot of the disappointment that comes from the misguided actions of those we love the most is really only a reflection of the high standards we apply to our family members.

But family members are human beings, too. We all have our faults and weaknesses, right? Yet somehow we tend to hold our relatives to a higher plane of excellence than we would our own selves. Is this fair?

Of course the degree to which this hurt can manifest depends on the type of familial relationship; the closer the connection, obviously, the greater the potential pain. Naturally there exists a higher level of expectation between a mother and daughter than, say, between cousins twice removed.

I just saw on the news last night a story about a couple who left their 18 yr old son alone back home while they went on vacation to Paris. The couple obviously felt their son was well at the age to be treated like an adult, and gave him the trust and benefit befitting this maturity.

Bad decision.

This fool went and advertised to all his friends that his folks' home was available, and a HUGE party to end all parties thus ensued on the premises. Unfortunately for him, a group of punks crashed the party and completely and utterly DESTROYED the house. I'm talking big, gaping holes in the walls . . . rugs ruined from countless spilled drinks . . . furniture smashed to shambles . . . and even someone urinating into every drawer in the master bedroom. So much damage that the estimate to get it all repaired totals in the $45,000 range!!!

Looking at the mother talk about the ordeal to the reporter, she had this glazed look on her face that can best be described as true "shell shock." And I can only imagine how the father must feel. He probably wasn't on camera because he was too busy looking for something soft and squishy--like his son's fool head!--to smash into the concrete.

What do you do with betrayal this massive? I mean, how does the son ever repair his relationship with his parents? Moreover, were the parents at fault here? Obviously their level of expected maturity from their son far exceeded reality.

So what hurts more: the fact that their house is totaled, and should really be condemned by the city? Or the fact that this 18 yr old high school senior took a big fat shat on his parent's trust in him? As much as the hurt of the first is truly going to take a long time to go away, I'd likely wager that it is the last which leaves these parents crying at night.

But, you know what? I suppose the reverse is also true. That while those who we hold closest to our hearts have the potential to cause us the most heartache, so too are we more likely to forgive out of our deep familial love for them. In the case of this couple, had this been a friend of the family they put in charge of watching their house while away, that friend would now be looking at a lawsuit. Or even criminal charges. And forget about their friendship. That would be irreparably ruined for life.

But because this was their son, I'm willing to bet that all will eventually be forgiven. This idiot probably learned a valuable lesson here, and I doubt he'll ever do something so stupid ever again. And years down the line, when the parents are old and doddering and the son has his own family and bowl-headed children of his own . . . will they all sit around the table on Turkey day and laugh about this incident?

Maybe so. After all, they're family.

Trip Photos Are Up!

Well, I finally whittled down my 600 or so photos taken during our recent trip to Paris to around 160, and put them in a reasonably sensible order complete with captions. So if you want to see just what we were up to for the entire week we were away, there you go. You can check the photos out by clicking on the link below to take you to my Facebook photo album. You don't need to be registered with FB to see these. Simply click on the first thumbnail, and then click on each picture whenever you want to advance to the next image on the list:

Paris Trip: Year 2 (March, 2010).

Incidentally, these were all taken with my brand-spanking new Sony DSC-H20 10.1 megapixel camera, which I mentioned before here. I put this cam through its paces, taking both stills and high-def videos all around Paris. And as you'll see . . . it passed with flying colors!

Panama Trip - Day 1: Here There Be Balboas!

In late May, 2017 I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. A trip to Panama's steamy tropical province, Bocas del Toro. Now, before 2017 ...