Keeping with a semi-tradition of my own, I like to go outside just after midnight to check and see if the world is still there. Generally speaking, it usually is, but it’s always best to check, I think.
And then go ahead and take that first breath of cold New Year air and be totally amazed that I’ve been through another year and what in God’s name is going to happen THIS year!!?!!
Happy New Year EVERYONE!!! What are you going to do tonight??
What’s this? Pictures posted in a semi-timely manner? Something other than planes and reptiles? No need to worry, I’m still OK
I’d have posted this earlier, but I was out until 2100 tonight with Kyleigh and Shady getting new cellphones Kyleigh put up the cash for the transaction and I made sure to thank her profusely for making sure we didn’t really cut it all that close to the wire Work, well, it was work but not too bad except for the fact that there weren’t as many people as normal on the phones so I took a few more calls than normal. Definitely not nearly as bad as it could have been
Anyway, this is a post about the pictures, right? Well then, on with the pics Please do note that we have genuine wildlife, astronomy, and not one, not two, but three panoramas of tonight’s sunset for your viewing pleasure, all of which can be clicked for full size
While I was outside on my last break of the day, I noticed movement in the trees above me and was finally able (after several substandard attempts) to capture this small bird who was enjoying himself in the branches of a shade tree. Cute little thing, huh ?
A storm front came through today and though I had hoped for rain (rain = overtime = $$$ = fun stuff!), we didn’t get any in the valley. The mountains looked to have received a dusting of snow, but not much. What we did get out of that front going through was a really nice sunset courtesy of the lingering clouds
The final picture tonight took a bit of doing. It had to have a light background for the camera to get the exposure in the range of something appropriate and I had do dial the exposure up two stops (more light darkens the pic), but I finally got a decent picture of the moon Yes, I’m still thinking of a telescope, but there’s still a few priorities to deal with before I go get that. I think I’ll just pull out a pair of binoculars for the time being Until I have a nice astro-photography setup (that’s still a long ways off), I hope this will do
Well, that’s all there is for 30 December 2009. I’ve got work the next two days, but I’ll try to post something worthwhile for a final post of the year. Maybe a decent picture, some reflections on what has been and goals for the year to come – that sort of thing.
Until then, take care and have fun
This is the kind of story you don’t hear very often. AT&T Wireless sent me a letter recently which told me that they really weren’t that happy having me as a customer after almost nine years. Confused? So was I at first.
What happened was that I was on one of their nationwide plans and more than 50% of the minutes used were on another network than theirs. Apparently having Cindy, Kyleigh, and Cindy’s mom on the plan in Utah was the source of this trouble. I came to find in that letter that this is a situation which happens with less than 1% of AT&T’s customers, but which violates some of the terms of the plan.
In such cases, the letter continued, AT&T offers three different options to their customers. Why is it that I find myself thinking of another Jimmy Buffett reference in which Monty Hall leads a room full of costumed contestants?
Let’s continue in the theme of that great game show from years ago and see what lies behind the three doors ahead of us.
Behind door number one is the option of staying with AT&T but without the ability to use any other wireless carrier’s network. With no discounts. I think I’ll pass on this one. Cindy and her mother are not going anywhere anytime soon. Kyleigh’s in Vegas for now, but she’s going back to Utah eventually. I’m supporting their cellphones as they’re each only $10 per month or so and Kyleigh actually pays for her service. After all they’ve done for me over the years, it’s the least I can do. If I were to go with this option, Cindy and her mom may as well toss their phones in the trash – they’d never have service.
Behind door number lies the option of canceling my service with AT&T and saying goodbye without any early termination fees. This one won’t work for many of the same reasons as the previous option, but also would result in the loss of my current cellphone number. I don’t like this one, either.
Finally, we reach door number three we find the golden option. I can port my numbers out from AT&T to anyone I want to. This option also carries the waiver of any early termination fees as well. I’ve examined my options and found that my family and Cindy’s family are all now on Verizon. This means that all those calls we make all the time would be free. No minutes used.
But door number three gets even better! I went down to Best Buy to investigate my options for plans and phones and found some good stuff. All the phones we’d be interested in are free (we’ll get back to that in a moment) and if I can pull off this switch between now and the close of business on 31 December, I’ll be able to have the activation fees waived!!!
Before I get to the actual phones, I must address the financial aspects to be considered. The early termination fees which are being waived would amount to somewhere near $900 if I remember correctly which is twice what I spent for my AK-47. I’ve had a couple of minor grievances with AT&T in the past and was thinking a change would be good. This helps out greatly. Each of the phones will be free of charge, but I’ll have to pay sales tax on the full retail price of the phone which is about $25 each. I’ll also have to ship a couple of phones to Utah. If you’re thinking I’d rather spend the $120 or so on another firearm, ammunition, or gas for a road trip, you’d be right. Still, there are other priorities which must be addressed from time to time. At least I’ll be able to get by without paying the activation fees which would be $35 for the first phone and $25 for each of the other three phones which will help greatly in the quest for a Kel-Tec PF-9 and the concealed carry permit which would complete a nice self defense package.
One other thing before the phones we’ll be using on the new network which must be addressed is the topic of service plans. Thankfully, it’s pretty simple in that it’s going to cost about the same as it would otherwise. AT&T has rollover minutes which Verizon does not, but this isn’t too much of a concern. As previously noted, most everyone I’m going to call already has Verizon, but there’s something nice on the Verizon plan that’s not included with AT&T which is a choice of 10 numbers on any network or even landlines which you can change via a web based portal on a daily basis and which are also free. I could get to like this new plan.
With the financial and service plan aspects considered, we must now choose some hardware with which to navigate the wireless communication routes which span multiple states. There are only three models which are under serious consideration – the LG enV3 (yes, that’s how they print the name of the phone) the Motorola Rival, and the Samsung Intensity.
I know I’m going with the LG enV3 and I think Kyleigh will as well. It’s optimized for texting which Kyleigh does somewhere close to 2,000 times per month and which I also do on occasion. But that’s not all it does. It also comes equipped with a three megapixel camera (with an LED “flash” that’s better than nothing), a headphone jack, and a slot for a micro SD card. Mine will be free as it’s to be the primary phone on the account, but if Kyleigh wants one, it’ll cost $35 on top of the sales tax and she’ll pay me back.
I’m giving LG a third strike here. My last two phones were LG products and both of them developed problems in a few months. I’m going to keep insurance on this one so I’ll be covered if something happens. Strangely, Cindy’s also had the same phones and hers haven’t had the same problems.
Both Cindy and her mom want nothing more out of their cellphones than to be able to talk on the phone. I really did look for a decent bare bones phone for them, but there was a catch – the bare bones phones cost more than the Motorola Rival. No, I don’t get it either, but Verizon wants $30 for a basic phone while they’ll give you one of these for free.
The Rival will do everything they want a cellphone to do and the price is right. But the review on Cnet wasn’t so good which is why there’s one more phone under consideration.
The camera on the Samsung Intensity may not be the greatest ever installed in a cellphone and it can’t download music over the air, but the users this phone would be going to wouldn’t care about those things. No, they’d be thrilled that it has a normal keypad on the front of the phone instead of a manually activated touchscreen. The review on Cnet was much better than the Motorola Rival’s as well. The dummy phone on display didn’t inspire me, but I didn’t know what I was really looking at features wise. This may be just the ticket for two or three users I know.
So that’s what I’ve been up to for the last few days and especially the last few hours. I’m sorry I missed out on today’s picture, but getting this settled, at least in my mind, was rather important as I needed the peace of mind to know that we’d be OK even with the curve ball that AT&T’s thrown our way.
My mom and brother found out at the beginning of the month that I was in desperate need of a new digital camera. My Canon still works for lots of things, but the auto focus is having trouble at a distance, it keeps forgetting the date, and there’s a few particles of dirt that somehow made their way in between the lens elements and can be seen when the zoom is used. Thankfully, they took pity on me and got me a new digital camera for Christmas
My new bit of kit is the Nikon Coolpix S220 and while it’s got both strengths and weaknesses, overall the good outweighs the bad
First, the weaknesses. I’ve grown accustomed to the Canon’s high ISO of 3200 which allows for good shots in seriously dim light, but the Nikon only has ISO 2000 capability. The Canon has had a 4x optical zoom lens, runs on AA batteries, and has the ability to do long exposures of up to 15 seconds whereas the Nikon has a 3x zoom lens, runs on a proprietary rechargeable battery, and can only go to 2 seconds on the low end of the shutter speed. Oh yeah, it doesn’t have an optical view finder, either.
Now for the Nikon’s strong points This camera is very slim – only .7″ thick. It’s light at only 4.12 oz with battery, memory card, and wrist strap. The start up time is quicker than the Canon’s as is the zoom, and it’s got some neat tricks under the hood as well. There are four different methods for reducing blur in pictures, 16 different scene presets for different lighting conditions, and loads of other features I’m still working on figuring out that I know will come in handy.
Oh yeah, it shoots TV quality video with sound, too
I’m still learning all the ins and outs of this new piece of gear, so bear with me for a while as I get the hang of it I think I’m going to like this new camera very well indeed
Have fun and happy photography
So what did I do with the money I got for Christmas, you ask? I’ll tell you that it certainly wasn’t an easy decision as I stood in J&G Sales in Prescott the morning after Christmas. My choices were ammo or another Mosin Nagant 91/30 to add to the collection for $79.95 or ammo to feed the beasts I already own. And if I got the ammo, should I go for the sealed “spam can” of 7.62x54R with 440 rounds for $85 to feed my rifles or would a couple of 60 round battle packs of ammo for the K-31 at $36 each? Decisions, decisions…
In the end I finally settled on the ammo I figure I need to get some real practice with my Mosins and I already have a 91/30 I settled on one spam can of 7.62x54R and 20 rounds of 7.5×55 Swiss for the K-31 after much deliberation. I swear it just followed me home
Above you can see the spam can after I cut the top off of it. The can is about 14″ long by 7.25″ wide to give you some idea of its size and the size of the big can opener they give you as a means of obtaining the goodies inside. Don’t be fooled, this ain’t the easiest thing on the planet to open, especially with that tool they give you. The darn thing really doesn’t want to work on the corners and take it from me – your hand will cramp up during the procedure. The can full of ammo is rather heavy as you’d imagine, but what’s worse is that there’s no handles on the thing. This particular can is from Bulgaria as denoted by the 10 in the circles, was produced in 1980, and contains 440 rounds of lead core light ball ammo (lead core bullets that weigh 147 grains) with sniper bullets. You can also tell that the cases are copper washed steel by some of the other codes. For more info on this ammunition and the case markings, check out the page devoted to them at 7.62x54R.net
After opening this one spam can, I’m of the opinion that if the soldiers had to do this in their fox holes and on the front lines, the enemy would probably win Assuming the user of this ammo is smart and resourceful enough to open it back in the rear area and get it onto stripper clips at the same time, it’s great ammo These tins each hold 22 boxes of 20 rounds and keep them safe and well preserved as they’re pretty much hermetically sealed I’m looking forward to shooting up quite a bit of it in the near future
Something that still strikes me as funny is that I have two rifles which were made in Russia – the 91/30 in 1928 and the M-44 in 1946 – and ammo that was made in Bulgaria in 1980. All of this would have been war materiel to be used against NATO if things had gone differently a few decades ago. And yet, it’s now in private hands in Las Vegas for recreational use.
Yeah, I’m a fan of the fall of the Iron Curtain for more reasons than just the guns – I love freedom after all – but the guns are a pretty nice side benefit Now if I could just afford a MiG and the gas and maintenance it would take to operate it
OK, so not too much today compared to the last couple of days, but I actually had to work today
Well, it’s still dark when I get out of work, but at least the sun’s still setting Once free of my obligations as an employee, I headed on over to Exotic Pets for some dinner for Ziva Yep, it was time to feed her again and I’m ever so thankful that it costs a mere 96¢ per week to keep her happy
Once again I tried to get some “Cute N’ Cuddly” in there for Kath and the rest of the non-reptile loving people
Have fun, everyone
Before you think I might have forgotten to take any pictures on my way home from Prescott, I figured I’d post the best of those from that trip
The trip took just over five hours including stops, averaged 64 miles per hour, and showed an average fuel consumption of 34.7 miles per gallon. All in all, it took right around eight gallons of gas each way which comes out to somewhere around $50 for the round trip
Anyway, enough of the facts and figures – let’s get to the pictures
Yep, wagon wheels, cow skulls, and snow in the front yard – I like Mom & Dad’s taste and style in yard decor
Something I always think about these days, now that I’m old enough to understand it, is that this was where the “Wild West” really was the Wild West. Take a good look at these pictures because not much has changed since Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil Earp rode this area with Doc Holliday. Those first two pictures are pretty close to Prescott and I know for a fact that they used to frequent the casinos on Whiskey Row including The Palace Saloon back in the days before they went to Tombstone. This is where cowboys rode the range for the ranchers and where the railroads came through blazing a path across a much younger nation. Yeah, I like the Old West just a bit
Another thing I like about this part of the country is the incredible, wide open spaces. Just look at that long stretch of blacktop and the wide plane between here and the far side
Laughlin is an interesting place. It’s kind of like Las Vegas on a diet and a budget, but it’s still a cool place. The only problem is the weather. It’s hotter than Vegas in the summer, colder in the winter, and nearly always windy. I kind of like visiting, but I don’t want to live there
The final picture comes from what’s basically the home stretch of the journey. Sunset over desert mountains is a beautiful thing, especially when there’s a few clouds in the sky to give it some color
That’s all for that set of pictures. Here’s hoping you enjoyed ‘em
Have a great day, everyone
Yes, it’s true – I’m still here The trip went well and I had a safe and uneventful drive home.
Mom and I went down to Jerome, AZ for lunch the day after Christmas. The drive was gorgeous as you’ll see, but the town was more crowded than either one of us can remember. We were going to go to The Haunted Hamburger, but it looked busier than a D.C. lawyer We ended up at The Mile High Grill and Inn where the burgers were darn good
Temperatures were in the high 30s and low 40s, so Mom was freezing and I was a bit chilly, but OK in a T-shirt without a sweater. We went into a few shops and I think I nearly choked at some of the prices. I’m used to tourist prices – I live in Las Vegas for crying out loud. This was a bit ridiculous. Still, I may have to go back for the T-shirt you’ll see in one of the pictures
There are just way too many pictures to write a bit on each one, so please feel free to ask questions in the comments
Those last three pics are panoramas and are pretty huge when you click on ‘em, so make sure to check ‘em out that way
Have a great day everyone
Sorry for missing out posting tonight, but I just needed a bit of downtime after the trip. I’ve got LOTS of pictures to post and while they’re uploaded, it’s too late to do the rest of the post right tonight – I do have to work tomorrow morning
Suffice it to say that I had a great trip and a safe drive both ways
Have fun and I’ll see y’all back here tomorrow
Well, it’s been pretty nice down here in Prescott, but I have to be back at work tomorrow. I’ll be leaving out for the five hour trip in about an hour or two, so don’t expect any posts during that time. I’ll try to have lots of pics up tonight, but I can’t guarantee anything right now.
Here’s hoping the trip is safe and free of any interaction with law enforcement types
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