Old Kat - New Tricks

For years it never failed; every outing where photography or videography was executed by yours truly, shots included numerous frames of feet and excellent renderings of whatever ground was being traversed. I've often thought of creating a video of all these odd shots that I've managed to capture over the years, but while it's funny to me, it probably wouldn't win the Ebert "thumbs up" vote. I have no idea how this happens. Surely it is not because I leave the camera on. I am much too aware of myself and surroundings to have acquired that particular habit!

I would like to believe that most of these errors have been perpetrated by James; primarily due to a known fact that he has a penchant for hiney and close-up chest shots. But one could argue that the long stretches of cement and feet in videos don't tend to follow his aforementioned predilection for my other body parts. Either way, it has been somewhat embarassing to sit down with friends and family for a viewing of our vacations and finding them subjected to our photographic lapses and failures.

Well feet and pathways aside, I've actually thoroughly enjoyed this last decade of digital photography. I've traded up cameras every few years and have gotten better with my "real" shots, even garnering some more objective positive comments from non-friends and family (people I don't feed first before a viewing). Well, I recently traded up again and purchased a digital SLR: Canon Rebel XSi 12.2 megapixel camera. I now have two lenses too! I immediately made a date day with James for a hike and took the opportunity to test out my camera. Wow! The difference between my point-and-shoot 4 megapixel Olympus and this new one is pretty amazing. The shots are so clear and crisp. Take a peek.

Now, where is my new Grandson?????


Anyone Want a Million Dollars?

OK, so I can't guarantee anyone a million dollars, but I figured I'd get your attention. Did it work? Good! Now down to business.

As most of you may know from previous posts, we're moving from our house here in Kent. Well, in addition to the Wally mystery, we have another: an old locked safe embedded in the floor of the house.

What is in this safe? How long has it been there? Should we spend the money to get a locksmith to crack it open? The odds are there is probably nothing in the safe. But, what if there were? The curiosity is burning bright and I think we'll have to cave and find out.

James suggested we put a proposition out there for anyone who wants some of whatever is in the safe. Anyone who contributes to the cost of cracking the safe can have a percentage of the findings; kinda like a salvage operation, an investment if you will.

So, for example if the cost is $300 and one donates $30 to the cause, they would get 10% of the contents, or the value of the contents.

Any takers?

Mystery on 94th Street

Well our time here on 94th street in Kent is drawing to a close. Our original plan was to live here only 2 years (to pick up on the tax break) but it ended up being just a tad over 3 years. I am not sad to be going. While I've really liked being close to shopping and a ton of restaurants, it is too noisy for me and I am excited to be heading further south to the quietude of Sumner.

However, there is a mystery that we have to uncover before we leave.

As I sit in my home office, day after day, I've been beyond puzzled about the behaviors of the old guy who lives across the street; I'll call him Wally. Wally owns an old orange pick-up truck with an battered camper perched on the back, complete with a padlock dangling off the back door. Now Wally is very quiet. He doesn't peel out and race off down the road. He isn't creepy and peering out of his always-closed-curtains nor does he simply sit on his porch and stare at everyone as they go by. No, Wally simply comes and goes. That's it: just comes and goes.

Wally takes off in his truck, sometimes as often as a dozen times a day. And, get this, he's only gone for a few minutes each time! Where is he going? What is he doing?

Wally has been the source of much speculation at our house. Where does he go? Why is he gone such a short time? Does he run a business on Ebay and go to the post office 10 times a day? If so, why wouldn't he just save up his stuff and go once? Maybe his toilet doesn't work and he has prostate trouble. One idea was that he is a drug dealer meeting shady characters away from his house (and his sick sister who is bed ridden - that part is true). Maybe he has a drinking problem and he grabs a quick glass at the Golden Steer.

So our family has decided that before we move, we're going to do some surveillance on dear Wally. We have to solve this mystery on 94th street.

I can just see it now. Several of us in our cars posted at various intersections with walkie talkies at the ready.

Kat: PSHSHSHTT [insert strange white noise] ...James, what's your position?

James: PSHSHSHTT...I'm on 100th and James - ready!

Mandy (Daniel driving): PSHSHSHTT...Dad, you're supposed to say "roger", not ready!

Ricky (Rosie riding shotgun & Judah sleeping peacefully in the carseat): PSHSHSHTT...No! You only say "roger" when you're agreeing to something.

Kat: PSHSHSHTT...whatever guys! What's your positions?

James: PSHSHSHTT...100th and James. Roger, 10/4, or whatever I'm supposed to say!

Mandy: PSHSHSHTT... We're at the Fred Meyer. Over and Out!

Ricky & Rosie Team: PSHSHSHTT...(Rosie's voice this time) I feel so dumb. We're at 104th and James by the Taco Bell [Ricky heard in background "I'll take two double taco's with extra hot sauce, a Dr. Pepper, and a..."]

Kat: I'm here on the cross street. I can clearly see his driveway and will give the go when he leaves. Everybody be ready to follow for your section of the route. Don't forget to fall back when the next team takes over. Everybody ready??

James: PSHSHSHTT... Roger!
Mandy/Daniel: PSHSHSHTT...10/4! [giggle giggle] Daniel! Stop! Not now! I mean Ready!

Ricky/Rosie: PSHSHSHTT...[sluuurrp, crunch, crunch] S'good.

Kat: PSHSHSHTT...Here he comes!

We'll let you know what we find out!


Ditz in the Dessert

Well, I'm not in the dessert really, just closer to one here in Southern California than my typical day in Kent, Washington. After several days in a very rainy Richmond, VA for a NASCAR race over the weekend, I had to buzz off to Long Beach, CA for a couple of meetings with my boss. Everything seemed like a typical So-Cal trip, the 90 minutes in the airport, the 45 minutes on the tarmac before take-off, the 120 minutes in the air, another 20 minutes landing and getting "de-planed"; you know the drill. Well I finally make it and head off to the glorious Emerald Aisle where I can select the car of my choosing.

I decided to wander into the tiny booth to ask specifically which cars boast satellite radio (I love satellite radio) and get the info about looking for strange antennae mounted to rooftops. I shlepp my gear along the heralded aisle and decide to tap into this idea of being a little green this trip and head for a Toyota Prius with the tell-tale antennae shooting up from the pale blue rooftop. Now, I've driven one of these before and found the experience interesting so I figured I'd examine the vehicle a little more closely this time and pay attention to things like: pick-up speed, braking, radio speaker quality, seat comfort, and the like. (Who knows, maybe I'll actually buy a "green" car someday?) I hop in and do the mirror adjustments, seat belt adjustments, find where the lights are, and plug in my GPS so-I-don't-get-lost-for-the-thousandth-time electronic lifesaver, and we're off!

I get to the checkout stand w/ the railroad crossing contraption and wait to be checked out. While there I try to find my favorite oldie comedian station on the satellite radio. Being a very busy morning, the cars immediately start lining up behind me, so when the guy finally takes my credentials, I breathe a sigh of relief. I hate holding people up. Guess what? I can't figure out the satellite radio! I ask the guy when he returns and he shrugs and hollers at another worker who says "that one don't got it!" The man asks if I want to switch cars. After a quick glance in my rear view mirror, I decide I'll have to live with out Bill Cosby for my 72 hour trip. Ah well; I head off into the LA freeway system.

I arranged to meet a co-worker after work for dinner at my favorite Long Beach restaurant, Open Sesame (a Mediterranean eatery of note), and head out of the office at 5 o'clock to meet her there. It's only about a 20 minute drive, and the restaurant is well worth the effort. Well, my cute little Toyota Prius had a totall different idea!

I insert the rectangular "key" into the slot, put my seat belt on, and then hit the power button. Now, you can't hear this car start. Your only indication that the car is running is this dashboard computer that shows the power. I hit the tiny park button to get it out of park and maneuver the tiny little lever into the reverse notch (it doesn't stay there, like a normal gear shift knob would) and try to back up. It goes about 3 feet and neatly stops at an awkward angle successfully blocking the car next to me. Great. I try again and again to get the car to backup to no avail. I anxiously hope that whoever owns the car I'm blocking is working late tonight! I hate holding people up. So, I shut the car down, take off my seat belt, open and close all the doors thinking maybe it won't go if a door is ajar; nothing. I fasten the seat belt on the passenger side. I go through the whole routine again and again: nothing. What is with this car? It worked fine earlier in the day!

Sure enough the owner of the blocked car comes out and wants to leave. I jump out of the car to explain my dilemma. She nicely explains she knows some friends who have the car and they haven't had any problems. Do I want her to call one of them for me? Nice.

After another 10 minutes of repeating the starting process, I decide to peek in the glove compartment to see if there's some sort of "Prius for Dummies" manual or something. Sure 'nuff! Intersting that the manual fell open easily to the correct location (anyone else have this problem???) and I found out you have to have YOUR FOOT ON THE BRAKE PEDAL in order to start the car! How stupid is that? I dutifully go through the steps to start the car, only putting my foot on the brake pedal BEFORE I pushed the power button. Guess what? It started. I moved the car. The lady got her car out. I headed off to Open Sesame.

Boy did I feel dumb.

Needless to say, I was late to dinner. My friend had a table already and was enjoying my story about the time I accidently flung my fork off the table and onto the sidewalk (we were eating outside). After dinner I made the mistake of almost trying to get into 2 other Prius's parked on the same street. Apparently they are a popular model here in So-Cal; so is the color blue.

My GPS so-I-don't-get-lost-for-the-thousandth-time contraption kept shutting off, even while plugged into the cigarette lighter. Apparently my fuse is blown. I got lost for the 1001st time here in So-Cal. I just can't seem to get it right down here.

Ahhhh travel. Don't you just love it?