Red Box

P1030734One of my favorite discoveries during Spring Break was Red Box video rentals. There are none of these in SE Alaska. Juneau has none, Sitka has none, and Ketchikan has none. I was amazed by the them. I believe that Anchorage has 33 of them and Fairbanks has something like 8.

Basically, they are vending machines that require a credit card to rent a video and all rentals are $0.99 per day. If you turn the video in by 9 PM the next day, you are only charged $0.99 for the rental, if you fail to return the video by 9 PM, your card is charged an additional $0.99 until a maximum of 25 days, at which time, the fees stop, and you have in essence purchased the video. 

You typically see these Red Box machines at the entryways to Wal-Mart stores or QFCs, or other retailers that have a large volume of foot traffic. You can rent a maximum of five videos at a time. When you rent or return a video, a confirmation is automatically sent to your email address so you can make sure that their records agree with yours.\

As seen below, the disc comes in a little plastic protective case. What makes all of this possible, is that the case has gaps in it that allow a reader inside the machine to identify the DVDs individually.

P1030739In the Seattle area, there are hundreds of these vending machines, and you can rent a video from any one of them, and you can return the video to any one of them as well. To simplify things, you can search them online to find out which machines have which videos plus you can reserve a video and rest assured that it will be available when you show up to the machine.

P1040442At one store, a machine was broken down and I got to peak inside at the inner workings. There is a large carousel inside that spins as well as an arm that disperses and retrieves the videos.

The coolest thing about the Red Boxes is that they have all the latest releases available for a $1.00. Every week, the new releases come out and, if you live near one, you can get them in a heart-beat.

If you’ve used Netflix, you’re familiar with searching an online video data base to pick your favorite movies. Red Box has a similar website that doesn’t use ratings, favorites, or queues, but is nevertheless easy to use and fun to peruse.

On the website, there are vague instructions on how to purchase a Red Box franchise, but I don’t think I have time for that, nor does Haines have the population base to properly support one.

On the one hand, it’s sad to see all the Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video shops with lights out and For Lease signs all over them, but on the other hand, how do you compete with $1 rentals? I think some places continue to rent videos: Safeway has its own rentals, and other convenience shops will probably always have their own rentals.

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Fun time at the Zoo

We went to the  zoo with Holly’s cousins Myra and Molly and most of their four kids. Luke Trautman had a birthday party to go to so he stayed with dad. We made PBJ sandwiches and made a day out of it. Myra took us to the adjacent free parking which saved us money too. We had a double and a single-wide stroller to haul our stuff and keep the kids happy when they got time. All-in-all, Myra and Molly had a bunch of tricks and tips that made the day at the zoo very enjoyable (pack a lunch, bring a stroller, bring extra treats, park on the cheap, bring sunglasses, bring a bunch of long stout walking sticks, and juice the kids with sugar when they start to get tired and sit back and enjoy the fighting.) The last two tips were of course not part of the day, but are my attempt at humor.

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We took a bunch of pictures like this one on the hippopotamus. Each of varying degrees of success.

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The Lion was in top form. Posing, growling, and otherwise strutting his stuff.

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The PBJ was supplemented by Juice boxes, nuts, cookies, and cheddar bunnies.

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The bears were a favorite too, Although I missed the one swimming in the water by just a few moments.

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The Jaguar was in top form, pacing around all over the pace, it took me ten tries to get this shot due to the shutter-lag and relatively low fosuing speed on my pany point-n-shoot. I shot a bunch of video but we can’t get it to upload on the road.

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At the dead-end on the end of Myra’s Street, there is an adjustable height basketball goal that the boys like to play at. We closed off the day by going there.

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Next we’re off to visit the Scotts in Sequim.

Trip to Seattle

We had a nice Ferry ride, probably the most beautiful trip to Juneau since the time the Wings pilot flew over the Mendenhall Glacier on a sight-seeing tour. The Ferry was full of Haines folks leaving for spring break and/or the Gold Medal Basketball Trounament;  and the Holly played with the kids in the cafeteria.

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Mark and Luke have been having fun playing Battleship, and they’ve convinced J.C. to carry the game in his backpack. He’s happy to do it. So that he can be one of the big-boys.

There was a beautiful moonrise too, with the full moon huge on the horizon over the mountains, which show up ever so lightly, at perigee. The photo did not turn out too bad, considering it was from a point-n-shoot: Lumix DMC-ZS7, with a 12X Optical zoom and a 16x intelligent zoom—whatever that is.

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We stayed at the Extended Stay Hotel, got to sleep at 10:30 and back up again at 5 AM.

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Today, Mark and I sat over the wing and I got to explain the fundamentals of flight too him as we watched the wing: thrust drag, stabilizers, lift, gravity, rudder, jets, etc. It was really fun showing him what we could see from our first row seat above the wing.

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We had lunch at the food court in Seattle. We all shared a mondo Burrito from Quedebas, or some such.

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The we heard from Jack that Jessica was swimming in Time Trials at the all NW

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Here’s the same picture zoomed out wide and flipped vertical. You can just make out the three adjacent 25m pools in this huge aqua center.

 

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We go to the zoo tomorrow. And whereas it’s odd not to have my big  DSLR & lenses, it sure is nice not having to lug so much gear around.

I guess the most memorable part of the trip, so far,  was going through the security check point in Juneau.

Holly had given all the boys a pep talk about what we were going to have to do: stick together, empty pockets of metal, take off all our coats and take off our shoes and put them in the big plastic bins along with the bags, go one-by-one through the metal detector. And she even explained how they might get the magic wand if they made the machine go beep. The boys were nervous..

And the boys were serious.

Holly was leading the troop, I was taking up the rear.

We were taking off our coats, as we walked along the long table, and emptying our pockets. I took my eyes of Luke for just a second to see how the other line was progressing and felt my foot accidentally hit Luke’s heel. Down he went like a swirling baton, all his stuff went a clattering. His shoe came off under my foot. Bam, he hit the ground, just catching himself with his hands before he did a face-plant.

But the kid did not miss a beat.

He quickly reached down and pulled off his other shoe, grabbed his coat and backpack with his other hand and bounced back up with a smile holding both shoes in his two little shaky hands.

I wanted to give him a big hug.

But there wasn’t time. And my arms were full.

“Good job Snook (that’s his nick-name now). You bounced right back up.” I said, as I put my laptop bag under my arm so I could hold out the hand to take his shoes. I put his shoes in a tote and gave him ‘five-on-the-side’ and he turned and strode in his little boy-going-to-be-a-man-someday stride right to his spot in the queue for the metal detector.

Wow.

If I’d fallen down like that in the security line, I’d have been embarrassed and mortified. And I shudder to thing what some of the other people in line would have gone through, some were not so stable or nimble on their feet, and might have even been injured in a fall like that.

I can’t quite but it into words. But something but his actions show a level of sincerity and desire to do the right thing that really made me thankful for him and for people like him. People that do their best even when it doesn’t go right all the time.

He’s a hard working little guy.

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Water Pressure is dropping in Haines

P1030288Last night there was a large volume break in the water system of some sort. At this time, it looks localized to me and is near the Post Office.

Currently,  we still have a trickle of water and we’ve filled all the large containers in the house. I also went down to the boat and got a blue five-gallon container for drinking water—the type that is often used for roadside or canoe camping. Incidentally, the type that I think would really be nice for folks to have over in Japan during their displacement time right now.

To me, and I’ll admit I know almost nothing about the water system it looks like the flow of an 8-12 inch water line dumping into the ditch just southeast of the PO, and pouring into the block that holds the PO, the Eagle Foundation and Dusty Trials.

Our City water people and other employees are down there digging down into the frozen ground to investigate and repair the break situation.  These are well trained hard working folks that have a can-do attitude. So I would not be surprised if they figure out a way to stem the flow soon. One of my favorite things to photograph is people working hard to succeed in harsh conditions. I haven’t done much of that lately, thankfully, due to good planning and what seems like good infrastructure here in Haines.

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Above ground, there is not much to see unless one looks in the ditch.

I just checked the water flow and it seems to have increased almost back to the normal level. Cool.

Mark was not feeling on-top-of-the-weather this morning, so Holly stayed with him during church and we swapped off for Sunday school.

Museum: Movement and Art in the Classroom

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On Friday, we went to the Sheldon Museum for the opening to their latest show by Kerry Cohen and Irene Hofling.

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It was really fun. A combination of art and photos that involved the grades k-2 at the Haines Elementary and also students at Mosquito Lake.

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My favorites of the show were the colorful paintings.

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I really liked the shapes.

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Also, I really liked that Mark had been involved with some of the creations and that he’d had a fun time them. Regrettably, I cut his hair recently and lopped of a bunch of the fun curls accidentally with the Flow-Bee but he still has a great smile.

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We went on a little drive out to Letnikof Cove today after church. It was a glorious sunny day and everyone was getting along in the car.

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Whereas it was quite windy, it was nothing like the last week’s wind, and the boys were all smiles as they played on the dock-floats that have been pulled for the winter.

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With the boys getting along in the back seat, and everyone happy, Holly and I were in smiling at each other. She said, “I’m thinking we’re going to have to buy that minivan we’ve been dreaming about sooner rather than later”—if the we want the drives to be filled with harmony, was the unspoken text.

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The ice build-up on the waterfalls is getting pretty amazing. Here’s a picture of Mark Daniel to give the ice some scale.

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The boys went down to the water’s edge and played on the tiny surf a bit and actually spotted a lot of dead fry of some species on the rocks and then scores of them drifting along with the tide.

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It was pretty cool. We need to go out there more—and I need to learn more about the local fish.

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Here’s Mark with some of  the dead fish—never mind about the bad exposure—I was using my Lumix DMC-ZS7 Point-n-Shoot. Which is the perfect camera for this type of outing with its 16x optical zoom and HD video.

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JC had a good time too.

Davis Family singing at Grace Harbor

On Christmas Eve we sang a special during the service and I asked a random dude in the chair across the isle from us to film us using my Point-n-shoot camera in HD.

Singing: John & Peggy; Betty & Cliff Richter; Jack, Jennifer, John, Joy, Joanna, & Jessica; Andy, Rhoda, Buddy, Carter, & Christiane; Matt, Holly Mark, Luke & John.

After the initial shaking of the video camera, it settles down to a steady picture—I did not have a tripod or even a monopod, so I think the video guy actually did amazingly well from the back of the sanctuary.

Here’s the Video:

 

The Davis Family sings at Grace Harbor Baptist Church

I’ve often thought it’d be fun to sings songs with my three sons, and seeing how fun it has always been to sing with my immediate family, and now with the extended family, I look forward to singing with Mark, Luke, and John, when they can sing harmony parts.

I do wish that Bob, Margaret & John had been there to sing with us.