Archive for November, 2006


Thursday, November 30th, 2006

I’m not sure whether this guy is a Disneyland cast member or just a weird guest. Either way, he kind of creeps me out.

It’ll have to be a short post tonight, since it’s getting close to 11:00 PM. We got back a little bit ago from the Drifters/Coasters/Platters concert at the Sahara hotel. It was a lot of fun! As I may have mentioned, our quasi-relative Barry Singer is part of the show’s management and he offered us complimentary tickets. We sat right by the stage and had a nice time. I don’t know whether any of the performers were actually in the Drifters/Coasters/Platters back in the day, but they were entertaining and we enjoyed hearing a lot of the oldies. Loyal Reader Number Two was the youngest person at the show, so they gave him a free autographed CD, which was really nice. We shook a few hands and generally enjoyed ourselves. Oh, and it wasn’t too loud either. I guess they knew they were playing to a slightly Older Crowd and they kept it mellow.

We didn’t get to the Pinball Hall of Fame today – or anywhere else other than the concert. The boys spent the day working on school, so nobody was free. I guess we might make it tomorrow, but things are going to start getting busy then, so I don’t know. Maybe Loyal Readers Numbers One and Two and I will sneak over there sometime.

I spent a good part of the afternoon working on my brother-in-law’s computers. His laptop had a partially-installed copy of an anti-virus program, which was causing all kinds of havoc. I struggled for quite a while to figure out how to remove it. Its installer would neither remove it nor install a new copy of itself over it. Its second-chance installer did the same thing – can’t remove, can’t install. Its last-chance remover program wouldn’t work because it complained of a missing file. I tried removing files and registry entries by hand, but it still wouldn’t go away. Finally, it occurred to me to just stick another copy of the missing last-chance file into the program’s main folder. I did it, and it worked! Suddenly, MSN Messenger, the anti-spyware program, and a few other things started working again. I’m in the middle of installing and updating an earlier version of the anti-virus program, which ought to actually work. Recommendation to my Loyal Readers: stay away from PC-Cillin 2007 for the time being.

Now I have to get the desktop machine to clean up its file directory table, which keeps getting corrupted, possibly because of a bad sector in an inopportune location. It keeps making me run CHKDSK on it, which seems to clear it up, but it comes right back the next time I boot the machine. We may have to put in a new disk, since a couple of other people have already tried reinstalling the system and the corruption just keeps coming back. I’ll try reinstalling again, of course, but I don’t have much hope for that. The trouble, of course, is that computer manufacturers don’t include a system disk – this machine just has a few Ghost images on its hard disk. When the disk goes belly-up, you’re pretty much out of luck. Maybe I can use one of those programs that makes an exact copy of the original disk onto the new one. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I have such a program at home and can probably download it from the internet if necessary. A plan! That’s just crazy enough that it might . . . get us all killed!

Well, I’m off to bed. See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Here are a few Loyal Readers getting ready to spin their guts out on the giant teacup ride at Disneyland. Barf-o-rama. Strangely, they all seemed to have a good time.

No post yesterday – it was quite impossible. We left the nice hotel in Anaheim, went to visit the Getty museum (quite an impressive place, including the garden designed by my famous-artist-who-nobody’s-heard-of first cousin once removed), and then pushed on further east to the Primm Valley Resort in Primm, Nevada. It wasn’t quite as nice a hotel as the previous night, and it didn’t include any internet service. I think they don’t want anything to get in the way of their customers gambling. Unfortunately for them we didn’t gamble anyway. In fact, we pretty much just ate at one of their buffets (great custom-made chicken dish and pretty good roast beef, but no better than average everything else) and went to bed. The room was decent but kind of funny – the entryway light was burned out, the toilet wasn’t a particularly good flusher, the TV remote control was apparently intended for a different TV and gave random results, the hair dryer wouldn’t turn off, the heater alternated between scalding heat and freezing cold, and the blankets were too small for the bed. Otherwise, we enjoyed it. One good thing was that we got to see the Bonny and Clyde Death Car, along with a quite long and detailed video on the life and death of that infamous pair. Also Clyde’s death shirt. Also, this morning’s breakfast was reasonably priced and very good.

It was only about another hour down the road to the Flecks’ house here in Henderson. We got here before noon and spent the day doing very little. The boys also worked on school. I’m hoping to have a look at the Pinball Hall of Fame tomorrow if we get a chance. Also need to look around for other interesting things to check out.

We went to the store to get some ice cream for dessert tonight. When we got there, I noticed a Game Stop in the same strip mall, so we stopped in to see what’s new in the gaming world. They had some (outrageously overpriced) PS3s, which I found very uninteresting. They also had some Wiis, though, and they are highly interesting. Loyal Reader Number One and I took turns playing Excite Truck. Even though I’m not a Gamer by any stretch of the imagination, I think the Wii is really cool (although its name doesn’t exactly thrill). The controller looks very much like a TV remote and you work it by basically waving it around. It’s unique, inventive, and original. Definitely worth checking out. I don’t think I’d pay the money, though. Still, it’s hundreds of dollars less than the competition. I think it’ll sell like hotcakes.

Exactly how do hotcakes sell anyway? Presumably pretty fast.

I just ordered a neat microcontroller board called the Arduino. It’s an open-source hardware project, which is a pretty cool concept. I’m sure my Loyal Readers have heard of open-source software, where the software is free for anybody to use and they distribute the source code so anybody can also modify the software if they want to. Open-source hardware is pretty much the same – you can just buy the hardware if you want to, but they also give away the specifications and design so you can make it yourself and even make and sell them if you like. I’m just buying the hardware and using it as a basis for making other things. I’m excited to get it soon.

Okay, it’s time to go. See you tomorrow, with a full report on the pinball place.

Happiest place

Monday, November 27th, 2006

See if you can guess where this picture was taken earlier today. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

— Dum de dum —

Okay, I’m back. If you guessed Disneyland (link warning – Happiest Place music) – the Happiest Place on Earth – you’re right! We spent the day there today, and we’re in a nice Marriott Fairfield Inn across the street from the park tonight. Fortunately, they have free high-speed internet service, so the daily Morrowlife post can happen.

We had a lot of fun, as you would expect from the Happiest Place on Earth. Several things were exactly as we remember them – Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan (the longest line in the park, incidentally), Pinocchio, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Star Tours, the Tiki Room, and probably a few others I can’t remember right now. They were all great.

Then there were the rides that are new since we last went there (in approximately 1993!) – Indiana Jones and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, chiefly. They were both entertaining. Worth trying out, especially the Astro Blasters ride, which takes you through several Buzz Lightyear-themed rooms and lets you shoot an “Astro Blaster” at targets for points that add up on a screen in your car. There’s also a control to swivel the car back and forth, allowing you to line up on your targets more easily. Loyal Readers Numbers One and Two both beat me at that game.

There was a special Holiday-themed editiion of the Small World ride, which was a great improvement over the original. In the new one, they sing the Small World song followed by a bunch of Christmas carols. That’s way better than hearing that stupid Small World song over and over and over again for the ten minutes it takes you to get through the ride. Even the way it was today, we heard kids singing the song throughout the park all day.

And then there were the disappointments. First and foremost was the Haunted Mansion. They had a Very Special Holiday version of that one too, featuring characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas. They’ve put the new characters in front of the traditional Haunted Mansion Ghosts, and it’s a vast non-improvement. The ride went from cool and spooky to neon-colored and stupid. Don’t bother.

Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t as good as before either. They’ve added Captain Jack Sparrow in several places, made it more politically correct in a few places, and darkened it up. The storyline is much less coherent and it’s generally less entertaining. The upside of it was that we literally walked onto the ride. Of course, we pretty much walked right onto just about everything. The later it got in the day, the longer the lines became, but nothing was more than about 20 minutes, which is outrageously short by Disneyland standards.

We tried another one we’d never heard of: Innoventions. What a crappy “attraction.” It’s nothing more than a big room “showcasing” sponsored products. Totally annoying waste of time. Don’t go there. Its one redeeming feature is that it features a robot named Tom Morrow.

All in all, we had a pretty good day at Disneyland today, thoroughly enjoyed the old rides we loved in the past, and had a great time trying some new rides out. A few changes were annoying, but it’s still the Happiest Place on Earth.

We had snow on the ground when we woke up this morning in Big Bear, and it was still coming down when we left at about 7:30. It rained on us most of the way to Disneyland, but stopped just about the time we were getting there. Good fortune for us today!

And now to bed. I’m exhausted. See you tomorrow.

Loyal Reader Number Fifteen

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Here’s the official picture of Loyal Reader Number Fifteen relaxing with Loyal Reader Number Twelve! That’s right, we finally have our fifteenth Loyal Reader, as my more astute Loyal Readers may have noticed way over there on the right. Welcome, Melissa. It’s your special Morrowlife day!

LRN15 has actually been a Loyal Reader since Halloween, although I had no idea. She mentioned a couple of days ago that she had made a comment on the 20 October post and she wondered why I hadn’t acknowledged her Loyal Readership yet. My only excuse is that the comment wasn’t actually made until Halloween, and I didn’t notice. Maybe I’ll have to get Blogger to send me an email when someone comments. I think that’s an option.

Yikes, am I in trouble with the Loyal Readers. Very sparse posting this week. That’s why I’m using the wonders of Blogger to add a Friday post, even though it’s technically Saturday evening right now. Sorry about that, LRs. It’ll never happen again.

It was indeed a Happy Thanksgiving. We went to Loyal Reader Number Six’s Aunt Misty‘s house in the evening and had a great dinner with fine company. Before that, we went Down the Hill, as they say here in Big Bear, and visited with my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Morrell Snowball. They were at my cousin Chris’s house in Redlands, with whom we also visited, along with her husband Dick. My cousin Cindy and her family were also there. It was great to see them all. We hope to do more things with the Southern California family now that we’re back in California. We especially hope to have a lot more visits with Loyal Readers Numbers Three, Five, Six, Twelve, and Fifteen.

We haven’t done a whole lot besides the Thanksgiving visits. I got my truck washed (it looks great, although a bird has already managed to mar the effect with a well-placed shot to the hood) and LRN3 and I got his car washed (also looks great) and got a new dome light bulb installed. It had been burned out for about a year, he reports. It was cheap and easy, but that’s one of those things that just seem hard to get around to – you only think about it at night when the auto parts stores are all closed. Besides, life’s busy.

Otherwise, I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping and playing with LRN12. What a doll! I’ll be sad when she’s not around every day anymore. Fortunately, she’s coming to spend the month of December with us! I also walked down to LRN5’s and LRN6’s under-construction house. It’s still just concrete and wood, but it’s coming along nicely. They hope to move in by February or March. We hope so too, since their current place is just too darned small. And a little bit funny. But at least it’s convenient.

How did my Loyal Readers spend the holiday weekend? Comment!

See you on Monday.

Organ loft

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Here’s Loyal Reader Number Two checking out the organ pipes at a big old church in Modesto a few weeks back. We were there for the annual “Pipes and Pizza” event. I guess this isn’t the best picture of LRN2 I’ve ever seen, but it is a unique perspective, I think we’ll all agree.

Greetings from beautiful Big Bear, California! Actually, we’re staying in Sugarloaf, but that’s essentially the same thing. We drove down yesterday – a very pretty drive through orchards and empty spaces. If it hadn’t been for the heavy fog most of the way, it would have been even more scenic, I expect. The fog went away after we got over Grapevine Hill and went down into Palmdale, which was 80 degrees and sunny. We ate lunch and got gas there. It’s quite a bit cooler up here in Big Bear – maybe in the fifties, but it’s still sunny and beautiful. We’re at about 8,000 feet up here. The Suburban is way down on power at this altitude and so am I.

This is the first post of the week! Sorry about that, Loyal Readers. I have no excuse for Monday. We traveled yesterday and visited until pretty late. I tried to use our hosts’ WiFi this morning, but their modern, up-to-date system won’t do WEP encryption and my antiquated old WiFi card won’t do WPA. Since I need to use my laptop for work a little bit this weekend, I decided I needed a new card. Went to Radio Shack and found an older-model card on super sale. It was plenty recent for me, so I bought it, plugged it in, and it works great! Now my laptop has 802.11G speed and we can set up better encryption when we get home. Cool.

Loyal Reader Number Twelve turns out to be just as cute as they all say. I’m holding her right now, in fact, while Loyal Readers Numbers Four and Five make some dinner and dessert. It’s a little bit hard to type one-handed, but I don’t mind.

– Later –

LRN12 and I just woke up from a nap. We both really needed it. And now it’s time to quit. See you tomorrow.