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The Band

-My youngest son is set to leave on a rock/punk band tour today. 

After extensive planning, multiple band meetings and talk for months they are ready to go.

If you do not detect a note of sarcasm in the above I will make it easy for you and say that there was very little in the way of planning the last 6 months. Come Hell or high water they are leaving tonight though. Seven musicians packed into a vintage model Ford Explorer and towing a U-Haul 5x5’ trailer (provided by me) camp stove, tent, and food consisting of Ramen and soup ready to tour Washington, Oregon and LA.

Am I nervous?

Hell yes I’m nervous!

I am also a little bit envious too. I and Lisa met in a band over 33 years ago, fell in love, got married and had four of the greatest children one could ask for. All boys, all different and all a bit like their mom and dad. 

I will be worried sick the entire time they are gone…….. and wishing I could be there enjoying every incredible mis-adventurous minute of it....... re-living that part of my youth.

Peace Out.
-Curt

Another Airline Story

With the recent crash of Air France flight 447, and the speculation of what may have bought the plane out of the sky, I thought I would relate my experience 2 weeks ago on my flight.

After our recent cruise, we boarded a non-stop flight for home to Utah. The flight was pretty much un-eventful except for the obligatory screaming children which seem to always be placed right behind me (man, I wish parents would learn basic distraction techniques).

As our plane neared the airport for the final approach, I could see some very nice storms to the north (my area of the state) above the Great Salt Lake and farther going into Idaho. The storms were beautiful as you could see the streaming  vertical clouds and the lighting flashing on an almost predictable pulse. As we made the sharp turn over the lake and headed steeply down towards the airport, there was  a point where all on board felt something was definitely wrong. Our plane suddenly shuddered and then began a sudden radical climb away from the approaching airport (we were still quite high in the air at this point). The captain assured us the the wind direction had changed on the ground and that we were to make another pass and come in on another run-way. In the meantime, other traffic had been also been redirected and we were going to now be put in que to land (I have had this happen before and found no reason for concern).  We circled 3 or so more times before again starting our approach, which to me seemed to be the exact one we had originally made over the lake. I and Lisa both noticed many of the passengers seemed a bit stressed, but we had our own problems trying to calm Lisa's little brother,  who was in pain and deep anxiety from the screaming kids, and was about ready to open the hatch and jump from the plane.

Once on the ground we were instructed to stay belted till the plane came to a complete stop. Very few did and were already in the isles as we approached the ramp. As the door opened one lady pushed to the front and said loudly "I have to get off this damn plane, NOW!". Half of our group was at the rear of the plane so we waited till everyone had disembarked before getting our luggage and exiting the plane. We were the last ones off and one of the pilots and stewardess were talking by the exit ramp.  The pilot was a bit shaken and was explaining something to the stewardess which I could not quite catch, but it was of some concern judging from his facial demeanor.

Lisa's little brother had to immediately hit the restroom, due to the long flight and his condition, so we made our way there and I and his oldest helped him in from the wheelchair.  As we continued toward baggage I noticed our pilot again, he was on his cell phone talking and gesturing quickly. As we passed Lisa caught that the plane had most likely been hit by lightning and he was quite happy to be on the ground.

I was a week later as the news crossed my television that flight 447 Air France had gone down with over 228 on board, all passengers suspected killed. The main speculation was that the plane had encountered lighting and had been hit causing some kind of failure before going down. They are now recovering parts of the plane an many of the bodies.  After some research I found the lightning strikes on planes are not uncommon, and usually cause no severe problems.  In fact each commercial jet gets struck an average of one time per year.

Dissclaimer: Lightning strikes are no cause for alarm during flight and this blog is in no way intended to frighten or concern you.  It is just  a thing that happened in my life and coincided timing wise with an major event in the news with a similarity as reported at the time.

 

Peace out.

"Fly the Friendly Skies!"....

Is it just me or have you also noticed a say ..... drop in the Air lines service quality?

Recently a friend of mine (a photographer) returning from a trip experienced a weird little incidence involving baggage and I thought it might be of interest. He travels extensively including monthly trips to China.  Because of this he has become a very efficient traveler and marks his bags and makes sure to purchase bags that are of correct size for all airlines. Recently he was kicked of an airline for baggage problems.

Here is an excerpt from his letter to the airline. Tell me what you think.

The incident occurred on May --th, 2009 upon boarding flight #--- bound for -----, --. from ___________, __. The issue centered upon my "carry-on" bag and culminated with my being forced off of the plane by one of your flight attendants. Aside from being insulted and embarrassed by the way in which my situation was handled, his actions put me to considerable hardship and inconvenience.

Although I was unable to obtain his last name, the first name of the individual that I am referring to is "Dave". This man's manner was rude, aggressive and overly confrontational. His eyes were "glassy", and red as if he might have been drinking or under the influence of something. Given his attitude and overall demeanor, he is not someone that should be representing an airline that goes to great lengths to promote the level of service and accommodation offered to its customers.

The specifics of the situation were as follows;

My seat assignment was --. I had boarded the plane and was about to lift my bag into the overhead storage when I was addressed by Dave and told that my bag was too large and would need to be "gate checked". My bag is a brand new Briggs & Riley 22" Baseline "carry-on"- model # U422LX-4 (the model name actually includes the term - "carry-on"). There was plenty of room in the overhead storage and the majority of the bags stored were all considerably larger than mine. I explained to Dave that I was unwilling to "check" my bag as it contained delicate prototype electronics and I simply could not afford to accept the risk of them being lost, stolen or damaged. I pointed out the fact that other bags were much larger than mine and inquired as to why the restriction that he cited was not being applied uniformly. At this he became belligerent and after several snide remarks began threatening to have me removed from the flight. By now the line of passengers was backing up and because I needed to return to Denver that evening, I reluctantly agreed to permit my bag to be checked. I removed a valuable camera and returned to my seat. Upon watching numerous other passengers board the plane with much larger luggage than mine, I again approached Dave regarding my bag. Again, I was rebuffed in a course manner. I returned to my seat. A passenger struggling to stuff an extremely large bag into the overhead caused one of the other flight attendants to open five of the overhead doors across the aisle from me in order to find a suitable location. Knowing that I would be pursuing this matter and having my camera on the seat next to me, I attempted to seize the opportunity to photograph the open overhead storage containing all of the other disproportionately large luggage. Dave, realizing what I was up to, grabbed at my camera and told me that I was to be removed from the flight. Up to that point while I had remained firm I had not been loud or abusive in either my manner or in my use of language. I saw no upside to continuing the exchange and therefore gathered my belongings and quietly left the airplane.

*Note from me : I have removed reference to flight and date on purpose as well as carrier.

-The last several times I have flown I have been approached to check my camera equipment as well. I carry the larger Tamrac case which is also well within spec for overhead.

-For those of you who do not know this, no checked bags are covered by the airlines for any type of insured value other than a for damage to the bags themselves.

"Fly the Friendly Skies!".... no longer.

Peace Out.

Project Natal Sci-Fi?

Wow, are you ready be scared?

The other day my son came in and was excited to show me some YouTube links to the Microsoft Natal project. Ru, my son, does this quite often. He comes into my room while I'm editing and demands I look at some weird link on YouTube that holds utterly no interest to me what so ever.

This time was different.

As I watched the very boring start of the clip I was trying to ignore the drool on the screen when suddenly a fellow with a pony tail came out.  The Xbox recognized his face and then the guy began to hop around and jump and dance. Strangely the Xbox recognized what he was doing and perfectly captured the motion in all three planes.  No controllers and no sensors were attached to the dude with the pony tail.

I was flabbergasted.

I have programmed and studied Ai , never would I have suspected a game console could do stuff like that. Then I got a real shocker. My son loaded up another YouTube clip and I was watching a lady interact with a computer program. She was talking and writing on paper and the lifelike human avatar understood her. In fact, the avatar was emotionally reacting.  She even passes a paper into the simulation....

Shades of Skynet.

-Tell me what you think of Microsoft's Xbox Project Natal......

-Be afraid..... be very afraid.....

 

1st Clip with the motion capture and recognition....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HluWsMlfj68

 

2nd Clip with the interactive avatar....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWnZOseA3Lw

 

No controllers needed, just you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oACt9R9z37U&feature=related

If you find this interesting just YouTube "Project Natal" for some more of the Project Natal technologies.

 

Peace Out.

Thank you JQuest.

Touched by JQuest's Blog today, I began to formulate a comment which became so long I decided to make an entry instead.

I too have found that a camera to be a magnet for people and conversation.

Five or so years ago, leading up to Mardi Gras, Lisa had a wonderful idea.

-Why not share the fun pics on Fat Tuesday with the people on the street that were in them. We were set to go as Police Officers and to compliment the theme we had some tickets printed up with gag offenses. At the bottom of the ticket we made a place holder for photo #. As we took the images we wrote the tickets out, handed the person the ticket with the photo # on it and our email.

-I can't tell you how many life friends we made this 1st year including many of the police officers of New Orleans. This has a yearly tradition for us that allows me communication with tons of folks from around the globe I would have otherwise never met.

-Aborigines were needlessly fearful of photography, but none the less astute.....

-Photos capture a bit of the life spirit.

 

Mardi Gras Cops

Photo Taken by Phtographer Curt McClain of New Orleans
http://www.modelmayhem.com/374424
(Another friend I would have never met)

Out of the Mouth of Babes -or- My Brother's Keeper

  I have 2 very creative and ingenious grandsons.

 -Noah, age 5, is a "type A" personality to the extreme.  Nothing escapes this kid. Everything he does must be perfect.  He is the pride of his mom and dad (also both" type A"s who border on obsessive-compulsives).

-Hyrum, age 3, is well...... different.  Easy going would not be descriptive enough, more like reckless.  He is the kind of person that will be the perennial clown. Your best friend that never grew up, I think you know the type.  He is the kid you pray your kid gets so he can have a taste of what you went through in parenthood.  - (Thank you God!)

 

It all began with the phone call.

My son works long hours trying to scale the corporate ladder. He arrived home too late to eat dinner with the family and was warming up the left overs, when he heard a small voice yell from the bathroom, "HYRUM PEED IN IT!" ..... "HYRUM PEED IN IT! ".

Jer, my son is the disciplinarian in the family and quickly moved to the situation.  Hyrum was in the bathroom over the toilet trying to empty out the contents of his Super Soaker squirt gun quickly, trying to destroy "evidence" before he was caught. Everybody has seen these Super Soakers guns..... You know the ones with the large bottle you fill up and then pump to get some real pressure for the blast of water.

Noah began the tattling immediately "Hyrum peed in the bottle"....

Disgusted Jer washed to bottle repeatedly, all the time chastising Hyrum for doing such a vile, rank act.

"Hyrum did you really do that, pee in the bottle? ", Jer harshly asked.

"Yes Dad...., can't lie... did it.... " (3 year old Hyrum)

After washing his hands Jer returned to the task of warming his food again.  After not a small amount of consideration, Jer decided that he better tell Kristy his wife ( She really wears the pants). Good things were not said, as she was totally sickened by Hyrum's attempt at humor.

Another yell came from the bathroom..... "DAD, I WASHED MY MOUTH OUT!"

Curious Jer returned to find Noah gargling and spitting in the sink. 

"What the heck are you doing Noah?", Jer asked angrily. (heck is a common phrase used here in Utah)

Apparently Noah had decided to get a drink from the squirt gun bottle, which incidentally looks nothing like a glass.

Jer began fatherly scolding, "If you smelled it before you drank it you would have been able to tell it was urine". (good advice, crazy logic but valid I guess)

"Yeah dad.... Next time I should probably listen to Hyrum too...... " , Noah quietly whispered.
"Because as I picked it up to drink..... "
"Hyrum yelled ITS PEE! .... ITS PEE! .....DON'T DRINK IT! "

After careful reflection, Jer decided it best not to relate this part of the story to his wife.

 

Man, I love  kids!

It was the Best of Times.... It was the Worst of Times..... (Synopsis)

-The goal is met, the mission accomplished.

Some days were simply magical....

Traveling with 9 people is at best, an exercise in herding cats (not my favorite thing in the world).  Airport navigation and Taxi arrangements borders on the realm of nightmare. The drugs that Hospice had arranged for my brother in law, presented another set of interesting situations as hallucinations and reality mix drama and comedy for everyone involved.

Special Thanks and Recognition To:

- Marriot Hotel Orlando!
Lisa had requested some information by email on transportation to Port Canaveral. She had given a little background on her brother and that we had 9 people in our party.  Mr. T (yup, that's what he goes by) arranged our shuttles to and from the ship.  Upon check in, we were told we had been upgraded us to a Presidential suite at no extra charge to accommodate our large group (thank you).  We were also invited to spend the time waiting for the return flight in their pool.  Many other comps were also given to us. The Marriott in Orlando Rocks!

- Royal Caribbean staff and Crew of the Freedom at Sea!
The room stewards went way beyond their typical duties, checking on Lisa's brother when he we were absent and getting him little inconveniences all with a smile. Our waiters made sure he got just what he wanted in the way of food no matter how absurd some of the requests. The nights he did not feel well enough to eat in the dining room, extra effort was made to get him something he would enjoy, all with no prompting.  On the nights when food did not taste good at all to Deloy, they brought multiple choices until something pleased him. These people sincerely did things out of wishing this cruise to be a success regardless of personal inconvenience.  Michael and Avil, each from different sides of the planet, are two of the best people created.

- The People of Jamaica!
Of all the places I have visited, Jamaica is truly great. They treat strangers like family.  One of the taxi drivers went way beyond his tourist route to insure we saw things very few see. The drugs had taken Deloy on a severe rollercoaster ride of emotion.  Lenny, our driver recognized the problem and drove us to landmark sites repeatedly only to be asked to leave because of Deloy's mood swings.  Lenny took us to a humble market far off the beaten track to meet some folks.  The market people shook his hand and ours upon arrival and I could tell that Lenny had personally taken it upon himself to insure that whoever got inside his taxi made it to his friends' market.  Although we were the only tourists at the small market we were not pressured to purchase but treated like family. There was one particular old Rasta that spent the time with Deloy talking to him about God and life while his family visited and shopped the small booths.

 

- Reflections

The cruise was bitter sweet. Some days were good and some were not. All in all, it was a very good thing for Lisa's brother and his family. At the start of the trip Deloy was walking and occasionally in the wheel chair. As the week progressed he gained pain and eventually his oldest son and I had to carry him to the restroom. He made it to Haiti and Jamaica but did not leave the ship for Caymans or Mexico. Tragically the one excursion he did not make was the ruins at Telume which was his goal.
 
He gained pain in his back which he thought was a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve. It looks today to be the tumors. The Hospice nurse has ordered a hospital bed and maid to help his wife as she will no longer be able to manage Deloy on her own. The nurse made sure that Deloys wife knew that he will probably not get out of bed again. His oldest son graduates from High School today.  I'm sure he will not attend. I had a spiritual moment a few weeks back, whispering he would not last beyond Wed or Thurs of this week. This is not a bad thing. No one should have to endure pain in these measures, both physically and mentally. It is time to pass.
 
On the brighter side he was able to share in the fun of the kids and I took thousands of pictures, funny and meaningful to all of us. He was able to smile, laugh and participate almost every day. We created some memories that will last forever in all of us. He enjoyed the sun and the kindness and compassion of complete strangers. What more are we meant to do than this?
 
-Reading over the above it sounds depressing, but the contrary is true. A celebration of his life while there was still time and a chance most miss to say farewell.
 
God be praised for this one incredible gift!
 
 Love and the Joy of Life to us all!

 

Cool little camera …Canon PowerShot D10

-I haven't owned a point and shoot camera for quite a few years now, but I found myself on the trip last week with no way to shoot underwater.  I have several types of underwater enclosures but had forgotten to pack them.

The ship I was on had more of a mall than a shopping area and I was pleased to find they had a pretty nice camera store on board. I noticed Canon had a little water proof point and shoot model # PowerShot D10. After a quick look over  and noticing the price (sub $300) I purchased it.

Wow, what a cool little camera Canon has created! Check it out...

12MP - 3x Optical Zoom  - Shock proof  - freeze proof -  Waterproof to 33 feet - image stabilization - shoots some cool movies -great little LCD -  ISO selectable up to 3200 - Manual and auto modes for just about everything.

I took this into the ocean several times with great results. Shot some Stingrays , fish and coral. Performed like a champ and the images were fantastic.

I dropped it at the pool on to the cement with the power on. The camera bounced a few times and fell into the water. I was surprised it still worked, but it did with no problems a just a light scuffing.

Not a lot of downsides to this little camera - no raw, only 2 modes of compression and it seems to only come in green and silver.

Well built little camera.... Check it out.

http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=2590&modelid=18332#ModelDetailAct

-If you're interested in the images PM me.

The Last Dance

 

Tomorrow begins the last dance for my brother in Law.

How difficult for the family this has been. 

Could have, should have, might have are all familiar phrases to us all now. What a journey it has been to get us to this point. Last week was simply mind blowingly difficult.  As Lisa and I were finishing up our trip from Maui we got word that our 18 year old nephew (lisa's little Bro's son) had just been admitted to the hospital for an appendicitis attack. With a little more than 7 days till we were to leave, Lisa's bro began a panic attack that caused a severe reaction and put him back in bed. More testing was performed on his son which ruled out the appendix, perhaps sycle cell anemia or something else. After even more tests it was determined that he had a huge clot in one of his kidneys and most probably it was dead. More anxiety for Lisa's Bro and more pain and discharge.  After a catheter scope (not sure what it is called) and several scans they found that vessels had formed around the clot and the kidney for the most part was still good. He may lose a bit of it but not too bad. They will give him Coumadin for  at least a year and physical activity will be minimal.  The basket ball scholarship will have to wait for him. The nephew finally made it out of the hospital on Thursday.

Thursday began another anxiety attack. Lisa's bro began to freak about dying on the plane or on the ship. A call to Hospice triggered a staff meeting about how best to make sure Lisa's Bro made it on the plane and ship.  Unanimously they agreed he needed to get out of the house and spend some time with family and forget about his troubles for a bit.  The house has been his refuge and he has almost become a bit of an Agroaphobic.  Hospice sent over a Chaplin and some of the staff to settle the jitters he had and calm him and let him know how the trip and the last part of his book will be written. Lisa's Bro pulled it together and is ready to go.

I thank God for Hospice every day. What an incredible organization!

Man, passports were a  whole other issue. Everybody's came but the youngest nephew. Super worried we had to try for a duplicate birth certificate.  The passport  showed up about an hour ago.

We leave tomorrow at 7am. 4 adults and 5 kids all trying to make the plane.  Lisa's Bro is a bit worried about the plane ride but should be fine.

I picture something like me herding 10 cats.
But I will treasure this time like gold!

So it begins....

The last dance....

Peace and Life.

Toga Party ....

Last week on Maui Lisa and I were searching for something to do. My pal Willy noticed some signs around town for a toga party. It sounded like a blast so we ripped the sheets from the beds and created some awesome togas. It took an hour of laughing and teasing to get ready for the party. None of us had done one of these and we were all giddy with excitement to see the other costumes and enjoy some dancing and music.

We set out on for the bar choosing to walk rather than take the hippie bus (see my port if you're interested in the bus). Kidding each other about how stupid we looked and having the kind of fun you have with those magic friends that when you get together it's just a continuation of the last party. You know, like it never ended, I love these guy s.

We passed at least a dozen posters for the party on the way over. That just added to the anticipation....

-We got in free because of the Togas, but guess what?

-Out of 150 or so people at the party we were the only ones in Togas....
-Almost like that nightmare where you are standing naked at the front of the class...

Joke on the new guys (us)....

Sign at the door...

Getting ready...

 

Party with us guys.... Please...

Had it.... In the parking lot...

Good Friends and Good Times are Priceless, Regardless...