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The Internet Ramblings of Matt & Lori Knowles

January 2008

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Tue, Jan. 1, 2008 - Road Runner Country

Road Runner Country

Today we just slept in and then lazed around Carol and John's so we're showing a photo from yesterday's trip to the Pinnacles. On the drive out there we saw a road runner, and true to form, he was running across the road. Didn't go "Beep, Beep" for us though.

Wed, Jan. 2, 2008 - Not a Road Runner

Not a Road Runner

While we were resting at the reservoir at the Pinnacles, this bird joined us for awhile.

While we were planning to stay in the Bay Area to have our anniversary dinner at the Shadowbrook Restaurant, we got homesick for Ferndale and so we left a couple of days early. It felt very nice getting back to Ferndale late that evening.

Fri, Jan. 4, 2008 - New Year's Tradition

New Year's Tradition

Even with all the work we did this fall trying to prevent this from happening again, we were greeted this morning with a totally flooded yard. Power was off when we awoke, and when it finally got light enough to look out into the yard, I couldn't believe my eyes as the side yard was a muddy river. The boards we put up were holding a lot of water back but the water was making it's way in from some spots in the backyard. Looks like we're going to have to do even more work since Williams Creek just isn't flowing like it used to and is continually getting worse.

Sat, Jan. 5, 2008 - It's Over

It's Over

My efforts to strengthen the green house for our violent winter storms came to naught also. It is passed the point of repairing, and sadly, we're going to have to give up on it. We'll look into better built alternatives for the future, but right now the future home of Lori's Taboo rose is going to be the kitchen window. Just for the record, this was a Harbor Freight greenhouse, and if you live in an area with moderate to high winds, I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Good value for the money if you live in an area without wind, but it is made out of very light weight aluminum and just isn't very strong.

I'm not sure how strong the winds were last night, but they were strong enough to blow our trailer off of the driveway. fortunately it didn't get blown into the garage, and where it ended up didn't do any damage to the yard or the trailer.

Sun, Jan. 6, 2008 - It's hard to be an optimist.

It's hard to be an optimist.

The morning that our yard flooded I told Lori that I was going to be optimistic about it and hope that the flood took care of our mole problem. When the water receeded yesterday, sure enough we found a dead mole in our yard. So I took a picture of it and the title was going to be "Always look on the bright side of life."

This morning though I noticed that there are new mole piles still showing up in our yard, so my guess is that this mole didn't belong to our yard, but rather some other yard upstream, and we were just lucky enough to have it deposited in our yard. Gee thanks. At least Artie appreciated it.

Mon, Jan. 7, 2008 - Rippin' LP's

Rippin' LP's

I'm finally getting around to ripping our old LP records. Shortly after we bought our first CD player in 1985 our record player started acting up. When it would get to the end of the record the arm would lift and then as it made its way back to the resting position it would drop back onto the record surface while continueing moving sideways. The sound was pretty ugly, and it sure wasn't doing the records any favors so it was retired. Over the years many of those records have been replaced with CDs, but some I just hadn't gotten around to replacing and some just aren't available on CD. Since the record player still works as long as it is monitored when the record ends, I've been using it to digitally record the albums and import them into iTunes. It's been great hearing some of these old albums again, and since most of them date from the first years that Lori and I dated and were married, they all bring back good memories.

Tue, Jan. 8, 2008 - Happy Birthday Lori, Mom and Elvis

Happy Birthday Lori, Mom and Elvis

It's very convenient having your wife's birthday the same as your mother's. Make's it easy to remember. Of course if you forget, you're doubly screwed. Mom's card finally got in the mail today after making a trip to San Simeon and back stuck in the luggage somewhere. Lori's card is shown in today's photo. The unlikely person on the front is explained by the inside caption, "What's a birthday party without a clown?".

Wed, Jan. 9, 2008 - Internet Explorer Sucks

Internet Explorer Sucks

If you're one of the stupid people who still willingly uses Internet Explorer, or if your boss won't let you install a more intelligent browser, you've noticed a change on this site lately. I made a change to the menu so that it is positioned as a fixed element. This bit of CSS was implemented years ago, but Microsoft's browser never recognized it, until their latest release, version 7. I like using fixed positioning for the menu because then it stays put as you scroll down the screen. There is also a workaround that I could implement that would fix the layout problem that Internet Explorer has. In fact I've already done that for the Vintage Fashion section. But since this is a personal site, I decided to make a statement with this one.

See, me and every other web designer is tired of spending hours debugging sites that have code that validates to the published web standards, only to find out that it doesn't work in Internet Explorer. There are also lots of good features that would be available if they worked correctly in IE. Unfortunately, IE still owns the highest percentage of browser market share, with about 90% of the people still using it. So we're pretty much stuck having to design around Microsoft's buggy software. It's so bad that I finally bought one of the new Apple MacBooks so I could run Windows easier. The photo shows the same page being displayed on my iMac in Safari and the MacBook running IE under Windows. In my opinion, loading Windows on a Mac computer ranks right up there with waterboarding. I swear I could the laptop screaming during the lengthy Windows installation process.

In case you're wondering what the alternatives are, there are two excellent and free browsers that are available on both the Mac and Windows platforms. Mozilla's Firefox and Apple's Safari. It is now my personal mission to get people to convert from IE, so check them out.

Sat, Jan. 12, 2008 - So That's Why

So That's Why

We pulled up the old carpet in the office room today and found a layer of particle board under that. As we pulled up the particle board, we found that the original flooring was in pretty good shape, which was really great news. Curiously though, in the middle of the room there was one sheet of plywood instead of the particle board. Saving that one for last, we found out why when it was pulled up revealing that the floor was pretty busted up there. During the 1992 earthquake our house fell off the foundation and lots of the flooring was damaged. Some rooms don't have any original flooring left, and some like the hallway show signs of being repaired. Since the hallway has some original flooring left but still needs to be repaired, we plan to tear it up and use it to repair the busted flooring in the office.

My original plan was to recarpet the office with a more Victorian carpet, but after seeing how much better the room looks with the original flooring our plans have changed.

Sun, Jan. 13, 2008 - Kneeland Fog

Kneeland Fog

Went on a ride up to Kneeland on the KLR and since I hadn't been out on the bikes for several weeks I just wanted to ride. On those occasions, I tend to leave the SLR at home and just take the little Pentax point and shoot. Which invariable means I'll see spectacular scenery and wish I had brought the SLR and a tripod. Such it was on this trip. Since it had rained quite a bit the previous week, the creeks were running full, and I came across one waterfall that I had never seen before. Looking at it on Google Earth I could see there wasn't much drainage above the waterfall so it only runs for a short time after a rainstorm.

Just before I turned around to head home I stopped for this scene, which gave me an indication that the ride home was going to be a lot colder than the ride up. As I descended, the fog continued rolling in and at some points visibilty got so poor I was having to ride about 10mph in order to see where I was going. Once again I was happy to have those heated handgrips on the KLR.

Mon, Jan. 14, 2008 - One Less Leak in the House

One Less Leak in the House

Tom of Celtic Construction installed this casement window for us which replaced one more source of leaks in our house. Now we just have the front door, the back door, and a mysterious leak in the office. On those rare warm Ferndale days it will be nice to be able to open the window in the back room. I was supposed to be home when Tom came over but forgot about the last minute appointment. Fortunately, when you're removing a window it's pretty easy to break into the house.

Thu, Jan. 17, 2008 - LED


I think LED must stand for Little Electronic Device. This LED die has now become the tiniest thing I've photographed for a client. For scale, that is a dime shown next to it. The die is so small it was hard to tell which side I was supposed to photograph. Only after I took the picture could I tell if it was the right side and getting it turned over was just as difficult. It took a few trial and error shots before I finally got it right side up.

Fri, Jan. 18, 2008 - Grandma Key

Grandma Key

As a kid, your Grandma is someone special because it's a Grandma's ordained duty to spoil her grandchildren. If you're lucky as I was, your Grandma remains someone special throughout your life, and lives until she's 90 so you get to enjoy her for a long time. I always enjoyed talking to her about gardening, her pinochle skills were legendary, and probably one of my favorite memories was when she was in her 80s, watching her take a spin around our yard on my ATV. The lady had spunk.

If I had one complaint about Grandma, it was that she really didn't like having her picture taken which is why I don't have that many pictures of her, I gave up trying after awhile. But this one, taken at her 90th birthday party last year is one of my favorites even though she's partially obscured by the balloon. I grabbed this shot as she was grabbing some candy, and noticed the smile on her face. Of course as I repositioned myself to get the balloon out of the way, she saw me and her expression changed as if she was being hunted by paparazzi.

I'm glad we got to spend as much time with her at Christmas as we did. I'll forever remember our little strolls around the neighborhood of the nursing home enjoying the gardens of others with her. Spoiling me till the end, she even finally let me win a game of pinochle.

Mon, Jan. 21, 2008 - Rescue Effort

Rescue Effort

Artie came in the house today with his normal successful hunt meow. When I turned around to see what he had caught this time I saw that it was a hummingbird and it was still alive. I got it out of Artie's mouth and tried to hold onto it without crushing it while still protecting it from Artie who wasn't appreciating my humanitarian efforts. (Is is still humanitarian if you're dealing with a bird?)

I took the bird outside and tried releasing it but it couldn't fly very far, and Artie quickly tried reclaiming his trophy. So once again I separated him from his prey and took the bird back inside and put it in a bowl in the kitchen, and then locked Artie outside.

I made up some sugar water and put it in a plate and rested the bird on the edge hoping it would get some of its energy back. His wings seemed sort of messed up so I wasn't sure if it was going to be ok but I figured I'd try. After about a half hour I thought I'd try to release him in the front yard. He was able to only fly a short distance again, but he could at least fly so I gathered him up again and stuck him under a bush while I went back to get the sugar water. I poured the water into the red cap of a spice jar and then I realized that I better get Artie inside now that the bird was outside. With that done I returned to the bird to see how it was doing.

It still couldn't fly so I figured I go back to work and check on it a bit later. As soon as I opened the front door, Artie came dashing out and went after the bird again. I chased him off and then I saw that the bird was really trying to get away but it was kind of stuck in the bush. So I picked it up and it took off out of my hand and I watched it fly over Silvia's barn across the street and it seemed like it made a beeline for Russ Park.

It was remarkable holding the hummingbird and feel it's fast heartbeat. I'm so glad that this one had a happy escape.

Thu, Jan. 24, 2008 - The Bucket List

The Bucket List

We've tried to tell Artie that instead of attacking the pretty birds in the neighborhood he should be ridding our yard of the moles. He mostly is successful with voles, I guess he's not hearing us correctly. So after several people told me that Pete Bansen was the resident expert in trapping moles, we enlisted his help. Currently our yard is enhanced with several colorful buckets, each hiding a nice surprise for the moles that have been destroying our yard. I learned some good tips from Pete, let's hope I have good news in a few days.

Sat, Jan. 26, 2008 - What's Different In This Picture?

What's Different In This Picture?

I finished recording all my albums and as I was importing them into iTunes, I was grabbing album artwork off the Internet. I noticed that the CD artwork for one album, Kraftwerk's Autobahn, was slightly different from the album artwork. The photo shown is of my album, and the CD is pretty much the same except that it doesn't have the car dashboard at the bottom. Kind of odd because the whole concept of the song is that you're on the autobahn so I was curious why it would have been changed. Knowing that the Internet can truly answer any question, I Googled away. Wikipedia provided the answer I was looking for. Absolutely amazing what you can instantly research these days. Even obscure trivia about a 1974 album is all there at your fingertips.

Sun, Jan. 27, 2008 - Taboo Rose

Taboo Rose

The day after Christmas I cut up the cuttings from the Taboo rose and rooted 6 tips and then saved the rest of the canes to root at home. We then spent some time with Carol and John and on our way back we picked up the roses from Mom's. With all that had been going on with Grandma, Mom had more things on her mind than tending the rose cuttings and by the time we picked them up a week later, 5 out of the six looked like they were toast. So our hopes were pinned on the last one to make it with the canes still in the fridge as a backup plan. It seemed to be doing well but then after about another week it started dropping the leaves one by one, eventually becoming a remarkable impersonation of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Still thinking that, hey, roses are supposed to do this in the winter, I left it there on the kitchen counter, soaking up from the heat from the heating pad we received from Linda. Another week of watering it and we can finally see that it is starting to bud out. Not sure where it's going to go now that our green house is gone with the wind, but tomorrow's another day and we''ll deal with that issue when we get there.

Mon, Jan. 28, 2008 - There's Snow In Them There Hills

There's Snow In Them There Hills

As I was typing yesterday's entry, Lori mentioned that it was snowing outside. I had seen it hailing earlier so I was figuring that was what she was seeing. However when I went to the window I could see that it was snowing. By far the most snow we've seen since we've lived here. Still not enough to stick on the ground here, but the trees just a few feet up the hills were dusted.