Dr. Seuss ABC book reading by Holly

Holly likes to read to the boys like this as she puts them to sleep.  My favorite method is to grab a pile of books and get them all under the covers in the big bed and read nice and slow until they all drop off, then take a nap myself. My method isn’t as video worthy as hers, in my opinion, but you be the judge as to which is more soporific.

I shot this with my new Lumix Point & Shoot camera, DMC-ZS7, in 720p HD video and uploaded to YouTube.  I should probably be out fishing at Boat Harbor, but I wanted to come home and do stuff like this for a couple days.

I strongly recommend the Lumix ZS series cameras—the only thing I don’t like about them is that you must still switch back and forth between playback and shooting mode by moving a slider, rather than half-way depressing the shutter release button.

I think Holly does a GREAT job reading to the boys, and to the kids at the library. This video can be played in full 720p HD resolution on Youtube, so if you want to really watch it in its best form, Go to Youtube hit the high resolution button and let it download the whole thing before playing.

Shock & Awe

Last night, I was in the big black chair reading in my new book, Guitar All-In-One for Dummies, when Holly said with a little bit of alarm, “Matt, I think I just saw a mouse. Is that possible?” Hmmm.

Knowing Holly like I do, I figured if she’d really just seen a mouse, that question would have been come out differently, so I said, “It’s probably not a mouse,” and kept on reading.

The Dummies series of books has a number of guitar tittles in it: Guitar (an introduction to guitar), Rock Guitar, Blues Guitar, Classical Guitar, Guitar Exercises, Songwriting, Music Composition, and Music Theory.  Individually these books cost about $16 a piece and are about 300-400 pages each, but this book I got cost $23.80 and includes the non repetitive stuff from the others weighing in at a regrettable 666 pages (I am NOT kidding!)

A few minutes later I hear a high pitched very loud squeal from the kitchen.  Not really a scream, not blood curdling actually, just a very energetic yet disbelieving squeal. I close my book.

“It just ran behind the fridge. It’s back there.” Running into the kitchen, I’m looking all around at the floor.  Holly is perched on one of the dining room chairs pointing.

Another squeal. “It ran over to the cabinets.”

I’ve seen it too.  It’s fat and pretty fast. It’s definitely not a vole.  It’s a genuine mouse.

Judging the size of it, it’s been here a while and had plenty to eat.

I walked quickly to my coat to get my gloves.  I figured I’d catch it, but I didn’t want to get some weird infection from a bite.

That’s a bad sign. It probably went in the door where the trash can is.

After getting my gloves, I’m in the kitchen scoping out the floor and the kickboard.  Sure enough the under-the-sink door to the trashcan is ajar.

I open the door. It’s dark under there. I close the door and run to get a flashlight. My favorite flashlight these days is the little red plastic LED Weather Ready by Energizer which uses four AA batteries. I can’t find it so I grab my 18V Ryobi light. I turn it on, it’s charged and bright.

I open the door. Take out the trashcan. It’s almost empty. nothing. I move the box of trashbags from costco. Mouse poop. I take out the Draino. No mouse. Luke is there by my side eagerly looking on.

After removing everything, the mouse has definitely gone under the cabinets, perhaps into the crawl space.

More Mouse poop though. Actually, now that I’m seeing it, there is mouse poop all around, now that I’m looking for it. I get a brush and dust pan, and start to clean up the mouse poop.  Then I think again.

Then I stop cleaning.

This mouse just made a big mistake.

I put away the dustpan and whisk broom.

This mouse should not have come out during the daylight hours.

It’s days are numbered.


Davis 023After mentally debating the various approaches: poison, borrowing some cats, traps, a late-night vigil, I decide on a multi pronged approach. The Lumber stores were closed, as it was 5:45 PM, but a quick call to Olerud’s confirms that they have mouse traps. Holly confirms that we have some non-drippy Skippy Peanut Butter in the cupboards, so all we need is poison and traps.

Mark is tired and sound asleep on the couch, so Luke and I head out to get the main tool, pictured at left. Turns out they didn’t have any poison, just traps. Looking at the traps at the store, they’re the smaller type for mice and voles.  Not the big monster kills anything traps, so I buy six of them.

My first thought was to put a bunch of traps in the crawl space and put poison all around the perimeter, but then after thinking about all that poop centralized under the sink and how I don’t want a dead mouse under the cabinets stinking up the house, I decide with to concentrate on the under-the-sink cabinet.

After testing each one and fine tuning the sensitivity so they’re just hair trigger ready to fire off, and explaining the whole process to Luke who’s mentally taking notes and asking a ton of questions I go with the following setup.

Davis 024

Back where the insulation is crammed in the corner there is a hole that leads under the cabinets, so I centered my response there.This mouse is definitely in the wrong house.  Don’t you think? Also, where there is one mouse, there is often another, or more of them anyway, so I thought it best to make it tough on the guy.

Then I put everything back in as it was.

This is the first time I’ve gone with the “Shock & Awe” approach, using overwhelming firepower to virtually guarantee success and focus all resources at a single point.

I’ll keep you informed on the progress.

This is a great video.

Check this out!

HD trials, tribulations, and triumphs!

At first when I loaded the image of the new 500GB drive onto my computer I was crestfallen, as the 500gb drive only showed as a 91GB HD, see below.  This was the state of my computer for the last three weeks.

Disk Management

But today, after three hours of monkeying around, I was greeted by the following, it was time to celebrate:

HD restored

Finally, today, I graduated up to a 500GB Seagate Momentus Drive on my Dell Inspiron 6400, and let me tell you it was a pain.  First off Acronis True Image did me wrong when I burned an image of my old 100GB Seagate Momentus HD onto the new one, as it duplicated the size of my smaller HD onto the newer one.  It turns out that this is a pretty common problem on the Dell Inspiron line of laptops.  There’s a lot written about it here.


Posts #21 and #48 were really good, but the one that did the trick for me was post #77.

A couple of the posts are really good and worth printing out.

In essence, here’s what had to be done:

  1. Use Acronis True Image (15-days for free, fully operational)
  2. Swap out the drives: 4 screws–no problem
  3. Zero LBA-3 with Roadkil’s Sector Editor
  4. Use MHDD and run the NHPA command
  5. Use HDAT2 to solve the 48-bit, 28 bit problem
  6. Use Easus Partition Manager to enlarge my main partition to fill out the remainder of the drive (Free CLICK HERE!! and get the home version.
  7. Celebrate.  As soon as the drive size was recovered, Holly ran to the bathroom and got some dental floss so we could celebrate with clean teeth (life is good).

I was supposed to use the back-up and restore  mode of Acronis True image, but used the disk image tool instead, and that was where I went wrong.

All that aside, take a look at the following screen shot and look closely at the numbers.

Some important numbers to consider:

  1. 465.7 GB HD
  2. 384.0 GB free (83%)
  3. The original HD was badly fragmented, primarily due to two 8 GB thumbnail files used by ACDSee
  4. 23.5 GB of fragmented files.

HD graduation


Here’s another interesting graphic: look at those numbers.  I wonder how those numbers will seem in 5-10 years.  By then a 465 GB flash drive may be commonplace, whereas in 2009, it was a pretty LARGE laptop (2.5″) HD.

HD pie chart

I suppose I’ll defragment the new space tonight and read my book, while I’m at it.

Perhaps tomorrow, I’ll replace the hinges on the LCD and put in the new keyboard, after I download Turbotax 2008 Home & Business and calculate my optimum depreciation schedule on the new engine and rebuilt transmission on the gillnetter.

It was a tough day here.

Holly was down for the count all day. Being a single parent must be tough.  I’m sticking with Holly.

Today was supposed to be one of Holly’s big days, she had all sorts of activities planned, shopping, going to the bazaar, cleaning the house, putting on the pageant a the Lighting of the fort and none of it came to pass though not through any fault of her own, as it’s important to rest when one is sick and we both firmly believe that rest is often the best medicine especially with a flu-type of bug which is not treatable, most of the time with antibiotics.  Whew.  That was a long sentence followed by a very short one.

IMG_0857Margaret took pity on us and came and got Mark for his piano/voice lesson where she’s teaching him how to sing, read music, and enjoy the musical realm.  He’s learning “Good King Winceslas” right now, playing both hands in octaves while singing (I think he sings). 

IMG_0879Then she dropped him off at his swim lesson, which is entitled fun-club and is run by various people in the swim team, from all I can tell.  I peaked in on it and Blake Hamilton was herding them around in the shallow end.  The Boron twins were there too, as were a bunch of Mark’s friends, so I think he had a wonderful time.

While Margaret was doing that with Mark, Luke, John Caleb and I went to the Bazaar. I was tempted to get some supplements for my diet being sold by Mrs. Boron’s Dad Lenny: Osolean, by Manatech: CLICK HERE!! if you want to check it out.  Only thing is I think it’s kind of expensive for Whey powder.  Whey sounds really inexpensive to me.  Maybe I should create a brand called Wheyleanforever, or some such.  John Caleb was asleep, so I left him with the crowd at the table with Hunter, Devin, and others.

IMG_0940After the bazaar, John Caleb woke up and I brought Luke home to be with Holly, who was still couch-ridden in the sleeping bag.  Then we joined up with Mark and went to the book fair with number three in a back-pack. I ALMOST bought a few of the “Bone” books by Jeff Smith.  i used to read those back when they first came out in B&W, and hadn’t seen them in the colorized version before.  The art makes the books look like they ought to be for kids, but when you read them you see that the humor is more for adults than kids-which is kind of strange.  I don’t know if Mark is old enough to understand the humor or not.  Perhaps I’ll check out a book or two before I buy any.

IMG_0983The shot below is actually a photo-merge of two photos.  I shot the fire once and the  people once, then combined the photos to make the flames of the fire visible, using 3-4 layers in PS. 

If you’ve ever shot a fire, and people at the same time, you perhaps have dealt with the issue of having two such disparate exposures in the same frame.  Taking two photos and merging them along with some opacity changes, plus a bit of doging and burning really helps make the scene look the way the eye sees it.

IMG_0954 copy

Anyway, after the morning fun, I took the boys back home for a brief nap and then it was off to Tresham Greg’s cabin in the middle of the fort to attend the Nativity pageant.  IMG_0990Dwight and Nancy Nash came and did the Emcee work, with Dwight reading the text and Nancy leading the songs.  Russ Simpson and his church, along with another church brought the kids and costumes for the nativity scene, and the fort residents put up all the lights and supplied the food for the cook-out.  They really have it down to an art, as a local community event and it really gives me a sense of community to be there with the rest of the town that turns out for it.

IMG_0980 They always serve hot-dots, chilli& cheese, chips, and marsh mellos with to go with the bon-fire.  Perhaps I didn’t notice it last year, but this year it seemed to be new that there were a big pile of sticks to roast hot-dogs with, all sharp and ready to go.  I suppose if there is anything lacking, it’d be some carol singing around the fire–but in all honesty, I’ve never been to a winter bon-fire where there was carol singing, as usually the temperature kind of ruins the fun of sitting around singing unless the fire is just right.

IMG_0988I suppose this tree picture is my favorite shot of the night.  I like the reflection in the water (from the melting snow, as it rained), right in front of Tresham’s shop.  the puddle was actually very small, so I had to have the camera about six inches off the ground to take the shot, so I used the live-view feature of the camera to help me make sure the star was in the reflection.  You can see that I messed up on the framing and have the photo at an odd angle, nonetheless.  The idea of shooting the reflection wasn’t actually mine, but I shot a few of them anyhow, as it was a good idea that another photographer showed me he was trying to do.

Another nice feature of this year’s “Lighting of the Fort ceremony was the women’s singing group lead and directed by Nancy Nash.  It’s interesting that they rehearse once a week on Thursday’s at six PM, just like the men of note, and also are a single gender group.  It may be that we will combine our efforts for the first time this IMG_0915Christmas in singing a piece from Handel’s Messiah, with, shall we say, mixed results.  I was impressed with their organization, as they all had matching headlamps and Nancy had all the music in plastic sleeves so that it would not get damaged in the weather.  And they sounded quite nice too.

Luke was not feeling well at all and wanted to sit down and eat his food…


So I found them a place to eat at a small table at the base  of the stairs and under the sharp pointed sticks.  I thought they were cute over there nibbling away on their chips and hot-dogs.

Hopefully, we’ll have our mommy back to full health again and I won’t get sick like the rest of the family.  I may just sleep in the guest room tonight, as the main bed is rather crowded and full of sick people.

Canon G9 (or G10)

canon G9 I bought Holly a used Canon G9 to shoot pictures and video of the boys.  It’s a small size, like she’s always said she’d like to have, and it’s easy to use.  And yet it still has lots of manual controls and plenty of speed to react to changing situations. 

In bright light it’s a great camera, and in the terrible lighting we have in Alaska in the winter, I can put a flash on it just like I do with my DSLR.  I strongly recommend this camera for those who don’t want to pack around a big bag everywhere they go.  It’s a nice little responsive camera and can be purchased on Ebay for under $330, buy-it-now, which is not bad considering that it’s just last year’s model and it original sold for near $500.

IMG_0025cAfter setting the camera to what I would normally set my DSLR to for indoor lousy lighting (ISO 1600, Aperture priority wide open, single frame advance, flash with -1 stop flash exp comp), I gave Holly the camera and she shot this adorable picture of John Caleb that really captures his essence in the way only a mother can.  While I can find fault with the photo technically, it’s more fun not..  It’s better to enjoy his little smile, with his four front teeth.  For web photos, the image quality is fine.  What really makes this type of shot possible is that the camera reacts fast enough to take the shot.  If you’ve ever photographed little kids, you know how easy it is for the camera to cause this type of shot to be missed.

Probably the thing I like best about the camera is that it can shoot video easily.  In this video below, Mark has been given the task of putting the water on the table.  Luke, after trying to grate the cheese, and  finding that quite a difficult task, has decided he wants to help with the water as well.  This is quite typical. 

I shot the video at 640×480 resolution and then uploaded it straight to google video with no modifications at 111MB, which YouTube will not allow, as that is over the 100MB limit.  Go Google. 


I suppose this is a typical snapshot of what happens near dinner time.

In summary, if you want a little camera that should last for years and years that is really sharp, stylish, small,  reacts quickly to changes, and shoots stills or video, I recommend the Canon G9 if you’re on a budget, and the G10 if you can afford to pony up the extra $100.


And don’t forget to add in a couple of fast 16GB SDHC Class 6 cards with along with an SDHC reader (note the SD readers in many computers will not read the SD High Capacity cards used in the latest generation of cameras, but check your computer’s specifications first).  Video really eats up the gigs.

Also, be sure to tell me if you want more videos or less.

John Caleb’s first oil painting

This morning while the older two were outside playing in the snow, John Caleb did his first oil painting on my LE1600 Motion Computing Tablet PC using Art Rage 2.5.


It helped that the stylus was tethered to the Tablet, as he kept trying to walk off with it and write on something else. John Caleb is one year old.  I changed the colors for him, for the most part.

Have a great Saturday.           

My Class notes are online again! Yipee!

I guess Ken fixed my web-site a few weeks back, because the web-site he gave me a few years ago is working again!  the web page, in Internet explorer 7 anyway, looks almost exactly like the pages in OneNote that I write in class.  I host my notes and my old wedding album samples there.

CLICK HERE!! to see my notes page.  Drop me a line if you have any problems loading the page and tell me what browser you’re using, what type of connection you have, and any other pertinent information you can think of.

Notes online

The pages don’t load SUPER fast, but reasonably fast for DSL, which I have at home, and there are no click-able links plus the backgrounds with the graph paper is not visible, but hey, at least the assignment sheets are there and the problems are there worked out. Notes close-up: see below.

notes closeup

I’m just excited that the web page is good again. Students can click on their class along the top, then select either the assignment sheet or the appropriate lesson  on the right. PLUS, since the web-site was working, I was able to get a gig shooting a wedding down in Sitka in April, as Mother-of-the-Bride was able to view my album on the web-site.

50D Resolution

Having just bought a used 40D from Ron Horn, I was very interested in www.dpreview.com ‘s take on the 50D which just came out a few days ago.  They basically said to save $400 and just buy a 40D, as the 50D is not too much better than the 40D.  I am not convinced.  What I really like about the 50D is the better LCD on the the back and the advanced Liveview mode.

CLICK HERE!!  They say it’s not as impressive as it’s megapixel count would indicate.  It’s supposed to be 15MP, here’s the chart.

50D resolution

Here’s the data from the Canon 1Ds Mk II, which is 16.7 MP.

20D Resolution

I find these charts interesting, especially since I still own two 20Ds, and a 40D.  The 16.7 MP IDs Mark II, has better resolution and only slightly more pixel count, so it seems that it’s probable that the tighter pixel concentration of the 50D does reduce the overall level of resolution that makes it into the files.  It probably needs better glass than most people own to get optimum resolution.

I’m not much of a megapixel counter anyhow.  What I really want is a small camera that I can pack around a bit easier, like a canon G10 with an equivalent zoom range of 28-105mm.

What specs does your next dream camera have?  Why?

Time articles to read…

Top gadget inventions…  CLICK HERE!


#1: PEEK

To me, the “Peek” looks cool, it’s used to do email to PEEK at it.  I like the concept but don’t have a need for it over the winter–but hey, over the summer I could use it on the boat, if it’s cellular.  All it does is email, it’s not a phone or an organizer.


flip mino I also like the

#2 FLIP Mino

, the easiest, cheapest, simplest video camera, but am afraid it would not fare well in the Alaskan Darkness.




Stevens and Young embattled in Alaska: CLICK HERE!!

I think this may be the end for Stevens–but I’m not convinced any of his opponents would be more effective than he.  Actually, I’d rather like it if Congress did clean house a bit and get rid of the pork barrel politicians.  I’m not sure how I’ll vote on Tuesday.

How about you?