Archives » November, 2005

November 30, 2005

Ormsby Wiki

My first Wikipedia page: the Ormsby House.

I’m so proud. [sniff]

November 26, 2005

Held Back

We’re in Las Vegas, but we’re stuck using AOL dial-up. Why does a hotel like the Luxor not have wireless Internet access? And why do they have wired internet, but it’s $10.99 per day?

I guess the future comes a little slower in some places.

November 22, 2005


I finally got one of those hawks on his perch this morning.

Like A Hawk

Like A Hawk

November 20, 2005

The Backseat Babysitter

Prices sure are dropping. Today we bought a portable DVD player, with a built-in 7″ screen and a carrying case that lets you drape it over the headrest and watch from the backseat. In years past, if you wanted one of the portable players, it would set you back $400, $500, or even $700 dollars. For a low-end one. This one we got at Toys R Us (yeah, that’s where I go to buy all my gadgets) for $170. That’s a price so low that even we couldn’t turn it down.

Of course, the price is so low that you start to worry. Why is it so cheap? What corners did they cut to shave off a few extra pennies? Is this thing going to spontaneously catch fire one night? One thing that put our minds at ease is that we have a TV with the same brand name on it, and it’s lasted ten years now and shows no signs of stopping. So as long as quality standards haven’t been slipping over there at Craig Electronics, we’ll be in good shape.

And we got the player just in time. This week we’re stuffing our two-year-old boy and his six-year-old cousin into the backseat and driving down to Las Vegas. That’s a 7-hour drive, and we had been dreading the tantrums and crankiness that would be building up inside that car. But now, we can just load movie after movie into the player to keep them occupied, and have a nice leisurely trip. I can see why these things are coming standard in minivans now.

We popped a movie in for Sammy tonight, just to see how the player worked and how much he enjoyed it. And he wasn’t just interested in it, he was transfixed. He would not tear his eyes away from the screen for anything. We called him, we whistled, we clapped, but it was no use. Everything was blocked out. Santa Claus himself could have landed on the hood of the car, gripping the severed head of the Easter Bunny, and his attention would not have have wavered one bit. Which is a little concerning in some ways. Are we raising the next generation of couch potatoes here, we thought to ourselves? But then we snapped out of it. It’s a carseat, after all. It’s not like he could be outside getting some exercise while we’re driving. He’s stuck there anyway, so why not give him something that’s going to keep him occupied, and save our sanity in the process? Works for us.

So we’re going to make sure to load up the car with DVDs when we’re packing for the trip. With any luck, we might actually enjoy taking a car trip for once.

November 17, 2005

Our New Old House

Well, we finally did it. After years of talking about it, and months of working on getting a mortgage, we finally bought a house. And not just any house, but the same house I’ve lived in for the last 20 years.

I was nine years old when I moved here with my parents. And, except for eight months away at college, I’ve been here ever since. Of course it’s gone through some changes. My parents moved out several years ago, and I and some roommates started renting it from them. Then Viola and I got married, and she moved in. Then we had a baby, so there’s a family in the house once again. And, like any house this age, it needs some work. We’ve already redone both the bathrooms and most of the floors. And now that we own it, we need to put on a new roof, install windows that will actually keep the cold out, get new doors, and have our Carter-era furnace replaced.

Then we’ve got to tackle the landscaping. You can see in the picture that we haven’t got the best yard around. I’ve been trying to tell myself that we’ve been leaving it in its natural state in order to minimize the impact of man on nature, but that explanation doesn’t fly too well. And I’m sure a professional xeriscaper can do really creative stuff with sagebrush and rabbitbrush, but when you let them grow wild, they just become weeds. So we’ve got to rip it all out, go right down to the dirt, and start fresh. Grass would be nice, and an automatic sprinkler system so we’re not left with the responsibility of killing it.

This house is really just an investment, though, a stepping stone in our plan to move up to the Seattle area. Northern Nevada is siphoning the fumes off the California housing boom, because someone who just sold a house in the Bay Area for over a million wouldn’t even blink at buying a place like this for $300,000. And this is where they’re all coming. Everyone buying houses in Nevada these days is doing it with California money. So after a few more years of living here and fixing up the house, we’re going to cash in, grab some of that California money for ourselves, and take it up North. Up where the weeds are green, not brown.


Here’s a picture I never could have gotten with my old camera, a hawk in flight.

The state built perches all along Hwy 395 through the Carson Valley so the hawks can watch for mice in the fields. The last few days I’ve been trying to get a picture of one of these guys sitting on the perch, but there haven’t been any. Then today I finally see one, and as I’m getting the camera ready, it flies away. Little bugger. So I grasp the camera, swiveling to follow him, zoom in and snap a picture, not thinking it would turn out. What a shock to see that it actually did!

And not only did the picture turn out, but down in the corner of the same frame I found his little friend.

November 15, 2005

Stop Taking Snapshots, Start Taking Photographs

I’m starting to notice a pattern here. See if you can spot it:

November, 2002: We buy our first real digital camera, a Fuji 2650.

November, 2003: I drop the Fuji 2650 on the pavement, so we have to buy a replacement, a Fuji A210.

November, 2004: Wanting to enter the brave world of digital video, we buy a digital camcorder, a JVC GR-D230.

So, looking at the historical data going back three years, it looks like every November we buy ourselves a little early Christmas present of the electronic variety. So, being November 2005, and since traditions have a way of repeating themselves, whether you want them to or not, it was time for us to buy something else for ourselves.

Fuji S9000 camera

This time we left behind the world of mediocre digital photography and inched closer to the world of kick-ass digital photography with the purchase of a Fuji S9000 camera, as close as you can get to an SLR without actually buying one. This camera is so different and so much better than any we’ve had before. It has an actual telephoto zoom, up to 10x. It has real focus and exposure controls. It can actually shoot in low light without creating a dark, blurry mess. You turn it on, and it’s ready for its first picture in under a second. You take one picture, and it’s ready for another one in under a second. And it’s got a real piece of glass on the front of it, unlike those tiny little lenses that are so common on the pocket cams. And it takes pictures at 9 megapixels, which gives it one of the highest megapixel ratings in the consumer market. Higher even than bad-boy SLRs like the Nikon D50 and the Canon Digital Rebel XT.

Now of course megapixels aren’t everything, and if you’re mostly taking photos just for viewing on the screen, it’s ludicrous to shoot at such a high resolution. But this S9000 has a 5MP mode that I’ve been getting a lot of use out of, and the photos I’ve been taking with it are worlds better than anything I got from either of my previous cameras. Have a lookee…

Fuji A210, 2MP

Fuji S9000, 9MP

Okay, that’s a little unfair. The first picture was taken in the spring, with the sun behind the house. The second was taken at sunrise with fall colors everywhere. But beyond those obvious differences, there is just a crispness and a clarity in the second image that’s missing from the first. It’s the difference between taking a snapshot and taking a photograph. With this camera, I’ll be able to get a lot more photographs.

Keep an eye on the Around Carson photo gallery. That’s where I’m putting pictures these days, more than anywhere else. And of course Sammy’s photoblog will immediately benefit from the new camera.

November 10, 2005

October Ormsby House

It’s the 10th of November, so you know what that means. Yes, boys and girls, it’s time for another Ormsby House update!

There’s always exciting stuff in these little monthly outings, and the October update is no different. A street reopens! Painting is drawing to a close! There’s a mysterious hole for us to peek into! Plus, more little details are showing up on the outside. Just one page this time, so your poor brains won’t be overloaded from too much excitement. Go check it out.

November 6, 2005

Halloween 2005 in Carson City

It only took me a week to sort through the Halloween pictures I took and put together an article. I’m impressed!

Halloween 2005

For two years now we’ve gone to the west side of Carson for Halloween to do trick-or-treating around the Governor’s Mansion. Everything is so lively there, and most of the houses are decorated, and there’s such an atmosphere of fun that I don’t think we’ll ever spend Halloween anywhere else. So I’ve posted, at Around Carson, three pages of pictures and stories about Halloween on the west side.

Halloween 2004 – a reprint of my report from last year on trick-or-treating with the governor.

Halloween 2005 – Two pages (1, 2) focusing less on the governor and more on the rest of the neighborhood.

November 2, 2005

Ghost Walk 2005 – Pictures and Audio

Okay, it seems like I’ve been working on this forever. But in reality I just don’t have a lot of free time on the computer these days. So when I go after something this ambitious, it can take a while.

I’ve put together an entire page on the 2005 Carson City Ghost Walk. I have a bunch of pictures up there, of all the houses the tour stopped at, as well as audio clips of our tour guide describing each house. Maybe one day soon I’ll also add some video, but I’m launching the page without it. If I wait for the video to be ready, the page will end up getting published in March.

I took my iRiver audio recorder along on the Ghost Walk, and recorded the whole thing. It’s over two hours long. But most of that is sounds of me walking and talking with my wife, and I think if I forced you to listen to that, my audience would suddenly drop by half. And I wouldn’t want to see what half of three people looks like. So I edited out the walking sections and only included the parts where the tour guide is actually talking, or there’s a performance going on. I split up the audio into multiple files, so there are 12 files for a total of 28 minutes. I might get around to stitching them all into one big file that you can drop on your iPod. (Or iRiver, or whatever. Don’t write me.) But, again, we don’t want to wait for that to happen. So I’m publishing the page as is.

So, go check it out!