Freezing rain

I left the house in time for a slow walk to the bus, got to my neighbor's driveway and turned around and came back home. Freezing rain is much more frequent here than in Chicago where it was always too cold in winter for rain. I bought new boots at L. L. Bean, which were supposed to be good on ice; they weren't any different than my usual shoes. Can't blame L. L.; it was the sales person who made up the story.

I'll miss the Chinese landscape painting class but hope to arrive in time for a lunch date and the Japanese scroll painting class. Last week the professor said something that contradicted what I had written in my paper: that is, scroll paintings usually didn't have backgrounds. I plan to spend time in the library looking for my reference. Unfortunately, I did not footnote it.

I've started planning my Japan trip, at least to the extent of making a two-week reservation at the Palace Side Hotel in Kyoto. To my amazement I found out one of my Israeli friends will be in Kyoto at the same time. I'm really delighted. Without the blog and the internet we would have been ships passing in the night.

Sooo tired

Last night, about 8:30, I gave up and got ready for bed. I never do this. I slept until 7 this morning, more than 10 hours in bed. I had a busy day, yesterday, but it wasn't that bad. This is one reason I'm willing to have the cath, as they call it. I want my energy back. The doctor wouldn't promise me anything, he's very cautious about what he says, but I keep hoping.

I'm still having issues with my Adobe software, but nothing that keeps me from working. I sent them an email–hope to get an answer soon. I really don't want to call again. I probably spent 3 hours on the phone with them on two calls. I'm sure they have a support document that would help me. I found one, but it's not entirely clear. In the meantime I can live without Acrobat 8 Pro. I'm still working on the Japanese Garden book.

Cardiologist again

For many years I largely ignored the state of my health. Yes, I went for checkups. No, there was never any concern. Them days are gone forever. I was supposed to go to the cardiologist at the beginning of May for another pacemaker check, a stress echo test and whatever. They were supposed to call me with an appointment for the test. This week, since I hadn't heard from them for a couple of months, I called and suddenly found myself with an appointment for all of it this morning.

My pacemaker is doing fine. My afib is much decreased (I knew that). The stress test was abnormal, for the second time with this doctor and another time with the previous doctor. So he recommended I go in for a catheterization and possibly the insertion of a stent. I'm not too unhappy about this, although I think I'm really allergic to doctors and hospitals. But I've been very unusually tired lately. I hope, if they find I need a stent, it will help. I'm scheduled for a week and a half from now. In the meantime, I have to take more blood tests, stop the coumadin, start taking Plavix and get mentally prepared. I'll keep you posted.

BTW, my Adobe fix didn't work. I called last night and spoke to someone in India who gave me a similar but slightly different fix. It didn't work either. I'll try again tonight. This is really annoying.

Classes and programs

Except for one next Monday, most of my Osher classes have finished, leaving me with an empty calendar. After my haircut this morning I went to Club One to the tai chi class that I haven't appeared for at least a year. Most of the faces were new; I don't know what happened to the old guard. Class was very slow, everything done slowly in one place not moving feet and not my idea of a good thing. After the hour class I spent some time on a bike then off to Trader Joe's, in the next building, for calories to make up for the calories I expended. Actually, I wish it worked that way. I'm sure I bought many more calories than I worked off.

After I finished my taxes Sunday I tried to go back to work on my garden book. My layout program, Adobe Indesign insisted I needed a serial number. It hasn't asked for that since I first installed it. Also found that Illustrator wouldn't open (same number), but Photoshop seemed OK. After a tedious online chat that would have gone a lot faster if the guy on the other end had bothered to read my first chat message, I was told to call for help.

The phone call didn't go a lot better. The recorded voice said there would be a long wait and if I wanted, they would call me back within 19 to 28 minutes. I thought that was nice and waited, meanwhile doing some online research. I found an Adobe document about uninstalling the programs and went to work. About an hour and a half later they called back, only to put me on hold. By this time I had finished the uninstall. I waited until they cut me off, I suppose accidentally, and then reinstalled the programs. They are all working fine today; so much for customer service. I just wish I knew why this happened.

Sunshine and deep blue skies

Finally! Maybe spring will come again. It's hard to believe surrounded by all the great piles of dirty snow.

With any luck today should be my last day of Gigapan work. I've color corrected, then stretched and shrunk in order to stitch the four separate images together. Today we go back to the super computer and put the whole thing together, I hope. It was fun for awhile, but got tedious at the end. The files kept getting larger than the computer wanted to handle. I would do two or three keystrokes then wait for the computer to compute. I did a lot of Sudoku in between.

Beautiful, sunny morning

I got in a good walk. It's supposed to snow again later, and maybe tomorrow. I've been spending a lot of time working on that Gigapan. Sometimes it's extremely frustrating, but then equally satisfying when something works out. Learned lots more about Photoshop. I don't own the latest and greatest, which is what I'm using at the university, but help files for several versions are online. Very satisfying to learn all the new stuff.

Back at home I'm working on the Japanese Garden Book. Decided on format and layout design. For the most part content will be my photos and info from the Internet; layout is very important to me. I've decided to make it 8.5 x 14, with the width being 14". I've completely the pages for the gardens I visited in Tokyo, about 50 pages. I'm very nostalgic about it all and contemplating another trip. Stay tuned!

Many of the photos I took never got published, in the blog or in the book. So this is my opportunity to published most more of them. On many occasions I took what I hoped were multiple, overlapping pics. I've been sorting them out and putting them together in Photoshop. 





Snow day 13

Still snowing. I admit to being obsessed with the snow, but I do have other things in my life, I think. Yesterday I wasn't so sure. My neighbor, David, is obsessed with Gigapans. You remember those photos you can zoom in on and see amazing detail. Last October, he and some friends went to the top of Pittsburgh's tallest building and shot four Gigapans, 360 degrees, 1000 photos in each. Now he's been trying to get those four huge photos stitched together. I helped him stitch together a quarter size version which you can see here. He insists the full size version will be better; he's nothing if not persistent. So he found someone with a computer with 64 GB of RAM. I didn't know such a thing existed. Unfortunately, it doesn't have Photoshop on it. I started the day with a meeting and lunch with David and friend. I think we have figured out a new procedure that we may, or may not, try later this week.

Back to the snow in my life. After lunch I walked, using my walking stick but still somewhat perilously, over to the Frick art building at Pitt to go to the preColumbian art class I've been auditing. Although the pavement was clear around the building there was no clear entry from the street, only those single file/foot paths where you have to put one foot in front of the other. I don't do those. I went to the library across the street, where I was supposed to meet one of my students. My phone was running out of juice so I had it turned off (it was a really bad day). When I turned it on I found a message from him begging off. Again, navigating the really awful unclean pavement, I made my way to the bus stop where I finally had to climb over one of those snow hills to get on the bus.

After a cup of tea at home I took the car out of the garage, almost didn't make it up the driveway (remember I'm from Chicago; I'm supposed to understand this stuff), and went to Whole Foods and got pears, tomatoes, spinach, a papaya and a lot of other stuff.

This morning I had to go downtown. The bus was half an hour late. I now flag it down standing in the street. There is no way I'm going to stand on the mountain at the bus stop. My neighbor at the corner of Penn and Murtland ought to be ashamed. His pavement won't be clean until May at this rate.

Do you wonder that I've become a little crazy?

Snapshots and stitches

Before I fell asleep last night I thought of something I wanted to post. This morning it's gone. It's a lot easier to write when I have done something out of the ordinary. Somehow, telling you about the snow, or keeping my humidifiers filled (I like a little moisture in the air), or going to the fitness center doesn't do it for me.

I am also trying to do alterations on some of my favorite larger jackets. One, I bought on sale at Nordstrom's, I wore constantly. It's still in good condition, but now much too large–it was always a little large. I've taken out the sleeves and the shoulder pads. Next comes figuring out how and where to remove extra fabric. The jacket is lined, making it all more complicated.

One of my neighbors is involved with the Gigapan project. He wants to do a massive Gigapan from the top of the former U.S. Steel building, the tallest building in downtown Pittsburgh. We spent much of yesterday matching up the four Gigapans he (and his group from CMU) shot. This is just practice. The sun was low and there are long shadows that obscure some of the detail. He wants to go back and do it again. It took a lot of Photoshop(ping) and I became reacquainted with some of the tools I hadn't used lately. Another volunteer gig where I learned as much as I gave. Now I have to go back and apply some of this to my still not satisfactory photo collage.

Podcamp 4: a great weekend event

This weekend was Pittsburgh Podcamp 4. The first
was a down home kind of thing concerned mostly with do-it-yourself
instructions for podcasting, blogging and using video. I had already been
blogging for 2 years and I wasn’t really interested in podcasting, but it was
fun. People were nice and I learned some new stuff. I never got to 2 or 3; I
was in Japan or somewhere. Podcamp has grown up and evolved. Five hundred people were signed up for this
one. The people are still nice, although much more businesslike than those
original geeky types. It all ran very smoothly and was much more sophisticated.
Technical discussions were limited or non-existent. Do-it-yourself concerned
using social media and focused on content, with lots of concerns about marketing. One of my goals in attending was to learn more
about Twitter. I did, not because there was a class about it, but whole thing
seemed to run on Twitter.

The most impressive presentation was given by Priya Narasimhan, a
professor at Carnegie Mellon. She just blew me away. I don’t know whether it
was who she is, what she is doing, or the fact that she became a sports fan
when she got to Pittsburgh, probably all three. This fandom has driven the product she created, Yinzcam, an enhancement, using your mobile device, to your ice hockey game experience. Here is a brief version of the speech she gave us, which I found on YouTube. She made this presentation in August. If they get her presentation up on the Podcamp website, it's worth watching. There's a lot more about edemocrary and iburgh.

The idea for iburgh, the second device she speaks about, evidently came from City Councilor Bill Peduto, who gave the keynote address on Saturday morning. He talked about using the information on the web to make government more transparent, something sorely lacking in the 'burgh. Peduto's presentation is also worth watching.

I met Amie, who sometimes comments on my blog. That was really fun. She's the second of my blogging friends I've met in person. Also took a class called "Refinding Your Blog Voice." Maybe it will help me post more often. All told a good weekend.

All in a day’s work

I was so tired yesterday I was in bed by nine–most unusual for me. It was a long, but interesting day. First was my pacemaker phone check. It's a simple procedure, every eight weeks, requiring the use of an old telephone, the kind with the separate handset and round ear and mouth pieces that get placed on receptacles in a box to which both of my hands are tethered by bracelets that look like expansion watchbands and I'm supposed to move things around and sit and relax. I have yet to find a good place to plug in the phone and put both phone and box at a comfortable height where I can sit and relax. The whole thing becomes an exercise in clumsiness with lots of tension on my part, but it all seems to work.

After I finished this and completed my usual morning activities, breakfast and blogs, I got on the bus and went to tai chi. While there is no aerobic exercise in this class, my legs get a big workout and ache afterward. Then back on the bus for a ride downtown. I've been offering to work in so many places someone finally wanted me. I went to Oasis, another group providing educational activities for older people, which meets at Macy's, which used to be Kaufmann's.

I must confess I had never been inside the store, which was originally one of the largest department stores in the country. I've been reading about it in Franklin Toker's book, Fallingwater Rising, a wonderful book about how Fallingwater was built and about the Kaufmanns who built it, so this was an opportunity to look at the store, although I am sure it no longer resembles the place Edgar Kaufmann built. Oasis, being on the tenth floor, gave me the opportunity to ride the escalators and get some idea of what was for sale. After meeting some of the people at Oasis and getting a tour of the facility I went to lunch.

My volunteer stint, helping out in a computer class, began at 1 pm. There were six people in the class including one who is about to celebrate her hundredth birthday, or maybe it was her hundred and first. She was a writer and wanted to continue writing. She had published her autobiography, a formidable book, and had a lot more to say. The word processor she had been using no longer worked so now she needed a computer. I was to be her tutor. I tried to keep her following the class work, but it was very difficult; she never really mastered the basics, like moving the mouse and using the buttons.

Truthfully, there is a lot of things about a computer you don't need to know if you just want to write. She really only needs to know how to turn it on, get to Word or whatever, open a document, save, turn it all off, with cut, copy and paste thrown in for good measure. But that lady is so smart she wanted to know about back ups. Bravo to her. She doesn't have a computer, yet. I promised to give her my phone number when I come back next week and help her get started when she got a computer.

By the end of the class I was pretty tired. I guess I have to figure out a way to sit while I'm teaching. I took the bus home, had a cup of tea and went out again. I have tiny black ants infesting my kitchen. I went to buy borax, which is supposed to kill them, then went over to Whole Foods for a few other things. By the time I finished dinner there wasn't enough of me left to finish the day and I have to go spread the borax now.