Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thomas Hawk's nightmare on discount street

In this post [Link] Thomas Hawk details an experience he had with a seemingly dishonest New York camera vendor. What a nightmare! I have never had such an experience, but I almost bought my Nikon D2H [Link] from a vendor I had never heard of that offered a fantastic price. Then, at the last minute I decided I would research them and I found horror stories similar to Hawk's. I ended up buying from a local vendor, Keeble and Schucat [Link] for not much more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Brian and Lynn Have Baby Boy

Baby Alexander Blake Johnson

Brian and Lynn Johnson [Blog Link] have had their baby. He is a handsome baby boy. When I met Lynn she was almost a kid herself. Then she was named Lynn Benson and was a photojournalism student at SJSU. She was not yet 21 I was in my mid 30's. We became great friends. She and I took a country western dance class together at the Campbell Community Center. Some of the older women (my age) assumed we were more than friends and really looked down their middle aged noses at me, especially when the dance teacher Dave Coffman announced that the graduation dance was going to be at the Saddle Rack to which Lynn said out loud that she couldn't go because she was not yet 21. The glares we both got crack us up to this day. Lynn's husband Brian is a really great guy. Susie and I got to spend some great time with them a little over a year and a half ago when we visited them in Chico. We are very happy for them and their growing family. Here is the email we got from Lynn last weekend:

Hello all,

Brian and Lynn Johnson (nee Benson) are pleased to announce the birth of their son, Alexander Blake. He arrived two weeks late at 3:04 a.m. on Saturday, November 19th, tipping the scales at 9 pounds, 4.5 ounces, and measuring 22 inches long.

Lex is a very sweet baby, and the cutest infant that the good people of Massachusetts have ever seen. Baby and mommy are fine, and daddy is over the moon. It will surprise none of you to know that he has already said his first words: "hi" upon his arrival, and "me" the other day. We'll start the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing exercises next week.

I have attached a picture for your desktop viewing enjoyment. :)

Happy belated Thanksgiving, Lynn

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Okay, I promise

Okay, I promise

Here is another cat from the cat show. This is done using fd's Flickr toys [Link].

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Faith Cat

The cat in this picture [Link to bigger picture] is named Ralph Loren. He is reportedly one of the top Tonkinese Cats in the nation. We saw him at the CFA International Cat Show earlier this month. He is in his owner's arms here and you can see the absolute faith this sweet cat has in him. His owner is justly very proud. This wonderful cat was lovely and had a fantastic personality. I found this web application [Link] that allows you to make "inspiration poster" like images and thought this would be a good match.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Help Desk Thanksgiving Eve

Help desk thanksgiving

Sorry about the lousy quality of the picture from last night. This morning it is just me and the kitties. I am going to start working on the turkey soon. Sue took her mom to the hospital at about 4:00 am. and they are still there. Sue's mom got ill in the middle of the night. Other than that things are good. I threw my back out the other day but it is much better.

We had a great experience last night. It was wonderful actually, we took my 8 Indian (as in India) student assistants out to dinner. Picture this: Sue and I telling a group of foreign students the story of the Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving and the other Indians.

It was too cute!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sweet trip, sweet truck

This road calls to me
This is the Dempster Highway [link] . It is the road to the Arctic Circle. Just look at this picture [pic link]. In the land of the midnight sun, as you drive the Dempster Highway, when you reach the Arctic circle, this is what you see [Pic Link]. I remember my dad saying, "when I retire I want to (fill in the blank.) This is the first time I have said that. My dad died before he could realize any of his dreams of retirement. He was 58 when he died. Now I am 50. When I retire I want to drive as close as I can to the top of the world. That is one reason I want a four wheel drive truck with a camper.

GMC Canyon

I am impressed by this American Truck
My friend Jonathan Chauncy has been suggesting I try driving a Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon. I didn't think much of American trucks, I have been focusing on getting a Toyota Tacoma. But, I tried this truck. I am impressed! This is one sweet truck. With the red tag sale they are having and the end of the year deals, you can knock about twenty percent off the sticker. That is sweet indeed.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The day Kennedy was killed

Kennedy dead newspaper

I remember the day
I was in third grade when President Kennedy was killed on this day in 1963. I remember they came over the public address system in my school, Monte Gardens Elementary School in Concord, CA. Everybody was in shock and many in tears. Like the events of 9/11 this was off everybody's radar and nobody seemed to even comprehend that this could happen. It was one of my earliest memories of that unforgettable day so long ago. As I remember everybody was called into the school cafeteria and the principal talked about it to all of us. I guess it was where I learned about death, assasination and murder, that day in 1963.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Everyday is a good day to play

Shadow getting tease

Our refrigerator sticks out from its surrounding cabinet about one door's width. It is a small protrusion. We put the cat tease on top of the fridge, thinking that is a place the cats could not get to it. We were wrong. Shadow, our little blue Burmese, has figured out a way to jump up onto that ledge and get to the tease. He is quite bold and when he wants to play he will jump up there, grab the tease with his teeth and toss it down onto the floor. Shadow likes to play a lot.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Big cat show day

Scottish Fold

Today Sue, Ken and I went to the big cat show in San Mateo. We saw lots of great cats and met Ray and Margaret Stevens, the breeders who brought our great Burmese into our lives. The cat pictured here is a Scottish Fold. We also saw some other fantastic cats. It was a nice show and we had a good time together.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Great bike ride today

Sarah Nielsen fixes a flat

It has been wonderfully warm riding weather. Today I led a bicycle club ride to Croy Park. It felt good to ride and I was riding strong.  It was a 43 mile ride. It was great, 16 people came. We had warm weather, with the fall change, the red leaves and we even saw a coyote. Only one rider had a flat. Lotsa folks stopped to help Sarah fix it. Tomorrow Susie, Kenneth and I are planning to go to a cat show.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Jack Quinton Died

Jack QuintonJack Quinton died
I may work in Academic Technology now but my heart is, and will always be, in Journalism at SJSU. I worked there for the better part of 17 years, I graduated from that department. It is the reason I came back to SJSU twenty years ago to get a job.

I just learned that Jack died when I subscribed to Cynthia McCune's JMC Journal RSS feed [Link]. Oh man, this was one of the happiest guys I have ever known. He was so young, only 62. In this picture he has a smile. He almost always had a smile. I can't remember him not smiling. It is so hard to believe he is gone. You know, you work so long with somebody and share so many happy memories of them, it is hard to imagine them as being gone. Jack's death is like that.

Pictures of Robert's visit

Just a couple of pictures from Robert Scoble's recent SJSU visit:

Bob and I

Scoble and SJSU Faculty

Robert Scoble comes to SJSU

Scoble talks to facultyScoble talks to SJSU J-school faculty about future of Mass Communications Today Robert Scoble [Link], a former student of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University, returned to our school. Faculty member Steve Greene, who Scoble described in a recent email as, "my favorite professor at SJSU (was always pushing the edge)" introduced Scoble to the assembled faculty.

The school is considering a reorganization to better prepare students for a the changes emerging technology is bringing to the field of journalism and mass communications. As he spoke to the faculty he showed the faculty examples on the Internet of what he was talking about using his Tablet PC. In his candid talk he told the faculty about how Mass Communications has changed since the years he was a student in our school and about how this new technology evolved and is continuing to evolve. He answered the faculty's questions. Professor Cynthia McCune recorded his presentation and the audio of that is here: Link, 66 min, 15.4 MB MP-3 File. Student Ryan Sholin was also at the meeting and he offers a student's perspective and on his blog Sholin has links to a lot a lot of the pages that Scoble showed.

This was a great moment and the audio is well worth listening to, a couple of times I think. It is like getting a private lesson from Robert Scoble.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Waiting for Lynn to pop

Grape vines

Waiting for Lynn to pop
Last week Lynn Benson Johnson (aka LBJ) posted to this blog that she and husband Brian Johnson is past due for the birth of their child. According to her blog they were going to induce on Sunday [Link].  No new news on that!

We watched the CMAs
Last night Susie and I watched the Country Music Awards. It was neat to see old favorites like Lee Ann Womack, Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks. What was especially exciting was seeing newer (for us) artists like Sugarland [Link], Sarah Evans [Link],  Brad Paisley [Link],  Gretchen Wilson [Link] and Alison Kraus [Link]. Back when she was a pup Lynn and I took a country western dance class together. Not long after Susie and I met at another country western dance class. It is nice to know country music is still alive and kicking up its heels.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Another weekend update

Frances and Sue

Another manic weekend
After all the traveling I have been doing I spent a weekend close to home. Saturday morning I worked on the bike club newsletter. Then, Sue, her mom Fran and I went for a drive in the country. We stopped first at Burrell School Winery [Link] where we tasted wine, looked at the awesome view and, in the end, bought 15 bottles. Then we drove down Soquel-San Jose Road, had lunch in Soquel, then we went to Corralitos. The Corralitos Market & Sausage Company [Link] has some of the best sausage I have ever had. (Years ago, I was turned on to this place by our friend Jeanette Glicksman [Pic link].)

After Corralitos we went for a fun and lovely drive up into the hills and redwoods. We ended up at Gizdich Ranch [Link] where we got apples and pie. We are not going to make it to Apple Hill this year, so this was our fall outing. After that we went home and dropped off Fran.

That night I started working on our bike club newsletter [Link]. I got a enough of it done that the next morning I could go on a bike ride. I went on Joanne Grimaldi's ride to Morgan Hill. That was a lot of fun despite the wicked head wind coming back. After I got back from the ride I worked on the newsletter more, then Sue and I went to Mountain View and Danish Concepts [Link]. We bought more furniture. Then I went home, we made dinner and I went to back to work on the newsletter and Sue got a migrane.

The final version of the December newsletter is posted [ download here, 1 MB PDF ].  By the time I got done it was late, I was wiped. Man, it was hard to get up early Monday morning.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New furniture for family room

New furniture

The new furniture is here
After waiting so long we just took delivery of the new Ekornes furniture. This is what it looked like before [Link].We are still getting used to it. I think it is great. The cats love to curl up on the blanket on it. It is great. It is very comfortable and opens up the space very nicely.

40 Shads license plate

40 Shads?
Our wild and crazy cat shadow is quite a character. This is the cat that we were told by one vet was going to die. Sue wrote recently about him and the other cats:

"I'm happy to say that Shadow is doing great!! I think you knew that we finally found out he has IBD. He is now on this IVD (innovative vet diet) food exclusively and has been very healthy since we got him started on that diet. Poor little guy always wants to eat everything else in sight but we are good about not letting him eat what he shouldn't. Pixel is doing great. They are still the best of friends. Our older calico cat is coexisting with them but they gang up on her a little more often than we'd like. All things considered, the blend of cats is working pretty well."

When shadow is in a feisty mood he leaps all over the place. Last night we had company over, one of whom was afraid of cats. Of course Shadow decided it would be great fun to leap all around her. Forty Shads? That is what the license plate of an SUV in our parking lot at SJSU says. That is just too cray to imagine!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sunday in the south land

We worked on our sunshine proposal
The rest of the weekend went great. For most of Saturday and Sunday we worked on the contract proposal for the new contract coming up next year. This is called the sunshine process where both sides say what they would like to see in the next contract. Negotiations then start from there where both sides work toward a meet in the middle. Saturday evening we had a dinner and a party. Working on the sunshines is very intense work. It takes a lot of input. Not only do we try to improve wages, hours and working conditions for employees, the union strives to improve contract laguage to provide better protections for workers rights. At the dinner CSUEU union president Pat Gantt presented awards to good folks in the union who have made special contributions to our cause. Many of my friends were recipients. I think we have an excellent statewide team!

Pat Gantt and award recipients

On the way home I visited Elaine
I left Sunday at about mid-day and headed north. Elaine Whitebook is an old friend of Sue and I who has moved south several years ago. She has a very nice condo in the high desert of Santa Clarita. It is right near Grapevine. We had lunch together at a brew pub and visited. That was very relaxing. She is a good friend.

Elaine Whitebook

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Russell Kilday-Hicks

Russell Kilday-Hicks

I cannot say enough great things about Russell. He is from San Francisco State University and the chair of our union's communications committee and is editor of the newsletter, the University Employee. What great words can I associate with Russell. Integrity, commitment, intelligence, passion for a cause, honesty, humility, devotion, drive, ethics, all these are traits I readily associate with him. In short he is my hero. Nobody could find a better role model than him. He is the consummate labor activist. And, I have known a lot of labor activists. I am proud to be associated with him and anything he does.

CSUEU Division Council in Manhattan Beach

Shannon Staley at DC

SJSU Chapter 307 Highlights
Our great unit seven rep. and statewide vice-chair of unit 7, Vera Acevedo, introduced chapter Vice-President Shannon Staley to the delegates and guests at CSUEU’s division council the weekend of November 5 thru 6 at Manhattan Beach. This is Shannon’s first Division Council. Staley received a warm round of applause! Vera also introduced me.

Gus sings, we sing to Gus!
CSUEU President Pat Gantt introduced Gus Lease and noted his years of service to CSEA. He also told the delegation it was Gus’s birthday. Gus is a music professor at SJSU and a very talented singer. He often sings the Star Spangled Banner at CSEA events. This time the tables were turned for Gus and the university delegates sang happy birthday to Gus. He also received a warm applause and many well wishes.

Gus Lease

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Furniture: Out with the old in with the new!

The old couch

Our new furniture will be here next week and we are selling these, our old couch. We have been doing a lot of furniture changes, so this a big change for us.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wednesday prattles

I Found, one more roll of Kodachrome

BNSF7740 at Bealville

I was going through my closet and I found one more roll of Kodachrome 25 slide film today. So, I did not shoot my last roll last month chasing trains on Tehachippi. It took almost two weeks to get my last roll back. So, should I shoot this roll or save it? The slides were great, when I finally got them. I bought 3 rolls of Fuji Provia, thinking I was switching.

I was in the Spartan Daily Today
Today the Spartan Daily ran a story [Link] about my blog post [Link] on the SJSU wireless network. (This blog post is also being ran as a story that will be sent to 15,000 university employees in the CSUEU union publication The University Employee [Link].) The crux of my blog post is that the direction of wireless networking is to provide open access in metropolitan areas, like downtown San Jose.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tuesday update

Me at 50
Me at 50

Here I am at 50. It is a regular day doing regular things. This evening was our bike club meeting and I took a lot of pictures of folks running for office. So I took my digital camera and strobes. It has been years since I used the strobes and this is the first time I have used it with my digital nikon. It actually worked pretty well. Franz Kelsh took this photo of me.

Steve Jr. lands job at Boeing
Luci sent this in an Email today:

I would like to congratulate Stephen on the acceptance of his dream job. I am happy to announce on 10-28-05 Stephen accepted a Unix Systems Administrator job with Boeing. He was in negotiations until last night and made himself a very good deal with his current company and Boeing.

That is really great news for them!

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