Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sailing Home

It has been a while since I posted any of my photos so I dug up this one. It probably lacks any redeeming qualities that a real photographer looks for, but I kinda like it. You might recognize the location -- the same place on my pier where I took my Stalking the Night shot. It is so peaceful sitting down there for only a few minutes that I can just feel my blood pressure going down. I hope you like it. -- (c)2005, Dalton Hammond

Sailboats coming home

More of My Photos

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Computer Swallowed Grandma

I've no idea who the author is...wish I'd written it. -- Dalton Hammond

The computer swallowed grandma
Yes honestly it's true
She pressed "Control" and "Enter"
And disappeared from view.

It devoured her completely
The thought just makes me squirm
She must have caught a virus
Or been eaten by a worm.

I've searched through the recycle bin
And files of every kind
I've even used the Internet
But nothing did I find.

In desperation I asked Jeeves
My search to refine
The reply from him was negative
Not a thing was found on-line.

So if inside your inbox
My grandma you should see
Please "Copy", "Scan" and "Paste" her
And send her back to me.

More Jokes
More Poems

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Great Federal Reorganization Plan

After much deliberation I hereby offer my original 10-point program for restructuring the federal government. -- D.H.

Great Seal of The United States

1. The Senate and Congress of the United States will close down their expensive offices and chambers in the U.S. Capitol and immediately begin holding all their business in the Pennsylvania Avenue Hooters.

2. Cash payments for Arab oil shall be replaced by equivalent value in Washington State beef products.

3. The head of the World Bank shall be replaced by Martha Stewart.

4. To protect the world's whales, all U.S. Navy sonar testing shall be replaced by Beach Music.

5. Thomas Mesereau Jr. shall be named Secretary of Defense.

6. Full congressional pardon shall be given to Pete Rose.

7. Minimum wage shall be offered only to employees who can prove having performed at least minimum work.

8. The national Income Tax shall be repealed, and all Radio, Television and Motion Picture products shall be taxed at the rate of ten cents per cuss word.

9. All remaining Survivor TV episodes shall be produced on location in the Guantanamo prison.

10. The $20 bill as a unit of currency shall be replaced by the 50 mg Viagra.

Your Humble Savant,
Dalton Hammond (c) 2005
More Jokes

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

How To Copy Your Windows Monitor Screen

So you think the Windows Print Screen keyboard key doesn't do anything any more? Because it copies the contents of your monitor screen to the Windows clipboard which runs invisibly in the background, you can't see it working until you Paste its contents somewhere.

Let's look at this handy feature.

Go ahead, press the Print Screen key once. Now open your favorite graphics editor, or if you don't have one go to Start > Programs > Accessories and click on Paint. Either way, when the program comes up press Ctrl and V which is the shortcut key combination for the Windows Paste function. VOILA'! Now you can edit your picture and Save As a BMP, TIFF, or preferably a GIF or JPEG file, to the folder of your choice.

When I practiced these instructions a minute ago I came up with a GIF file that was 148 kb in size. The BMP version was a whopping 2.84 MEGabytes, way too big for useful email sharing. The JPG, which is a compressed graphic file, was 112 kb, which isn't too bad.

The images will display as the same size of your monitor screen setup so for email or use on your web page you'll want to resize the image to something more manageable, around 200 to 600 pixels wide. While still in Paint you can use Image > Attributes to resize. Just be sure to adjust width and height proportionately or you'll squash your image. Or hit the Default tab in Attributes for a reasonably-sized image, about 36 kb on my system.

Another tip: If you're going to work with photos much and don't want to spend several hundred bucks for the ultimate graphics program, Adobe Photoshop, check out VuePrint at http://www.hamrick.com/

As much as I use Photoshop for professional image processing, VuePrint is my standard image viewer/processor, and has been for fifteen years. I'd be lost without it. You can be up to speed in VuePrint in no time, as opposed to the five-year learning curve in Photoshop. Ed Hamrick doesn't know me, and I'm not getting a penny for this endorsement. Try it.

A final note: You can't use the Print Screen function to copy Windows Media Player screens and similar applications, sorry. Use SnagIt instead.

-- Dalton Hammond
Other Windows Tips

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bill Clinton Jokes

Well folks, I've tried hard to stay non-controversial on my blog, but I couldn't pass these up. -- Dalton Hammond

Manufacturers announced today that they will be stocking America's shelves this week with "Clinton Soup," in honor of one of the nations' most distinguished men. It consists primarily of a weenie in hot water.

Chrysler Corporation is adding a new car to its line to honor Bill Clinton. The Dodge Drafter will be in production in Canada this year.

When asked what he thought about foreign affairs, Clinton replied, "I don't know, I never had one."

Clinton lacked only three things to become one of America's finest leaders: integrity, vision, wisdom.

Clinton was doing the work of three men: Larry, Curly and Moe.

The Clinton revised judicial oath: "I solemnly swear to tell the truth as I know it, the whole truth as I believe it to be, and nothing but what I think you need to know" (and redefine "it" as needed).

Clinton will be recorded in history as the only President to do Hanky Panky between the Bushes.

More Jokes

Friday, March 18, 2005

How To Be Happy

You will thank me for this. -- D.H.

In our Western success-driven culture we are driven from birth, by our parents, teachers, friends, and by our society, that to be successful is the most important thing we can hope to achieve. Unfortunately, "success" in our world is often defined as having expensive clothing and cars, impressive friends, and someone who loves us according to our own personal definitions of love. Sometimes in the real world we fail to acquire all those material things, and -- let's face it -- no one could ever live up to the "love" we desire, as we have defined it. No one could. Don't you agree?

In her wonderful pocket-sized masterpiece, "The Portable Therapist", Susanna McMahon, Ph.D. shows us ways we can transcend our Western "Doing" Model, and learn to accept the events in our lives and the people over whom we have no control, and adopt the more realistic "Being" Model of the Eastern cultures. She writes "Despite the implicit assumption...that you can control your destiny -- success...is not in your control. Luck,fate, and chance all play a big part in determining external success...there is nothing we can do to control them."

The book is easy reading, and each chapter is only a few pages long, making for perfect bedtime study. You'll fall asleep each night feeling better about yourself.

That's what I call real success: Learning to accept and be happy with yourself.

When I began writing this post it was not my intention to sell anything, but as I thumbed through the dogeared pages of her book for more quotes to share with you I realized that Amazon.com could do a far better job than I. Click the link below to read reviews and sample pages from this book that could change your life and show you how to realize the healthy self-esteem you deserve.

Good luck to you! -- Dalton Hammond

the Portable Therapist

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Eagles Live...Finally

The first time The Eagles came to this part of the country in 1980, everybody else at the radio station went to the concert but me, while -- as The New Kid In Town -- I stayed on the air and played Eagles music and cried. After that concert they swore they'd get back together again When Hell Freezes Over. Sorry, I Can't Tell You Why.

EagleHell stayed frozen until 1994 and I got tickets this time, but they caught the flu and cancelled the show. When they came back to town the next year the makeup show tickets were Already Gone before I heard about it. I decided that In The Long Run God didn't want me to see The Eagles or something and I elected to just Take It Easy.

That was until a few months ago when I learned that they were once again going to perform here In The City. With charge card in hand, your humble reporter was ready to Take It To The Limit and I bought two tickets online for only $123...each...plus lots of additional fees, about two minutes after they went on sale, which gave me a Peaceful, Easy Feeling. My New Kid In Town was disappointed we weren't going to see Ludacris but the Eagles would have been her choice of favorite white bands if she could have remembered their name. As it turned out she was Wasted Time since she got tied up and couldn't go, so as a Desperado I invited a music afficionado friend instead.

The concert was last night and I enjoyed it more than any I've ever attended, and I hope to do it again One Of These Nights.

Life's Been Good To Me. -- Dalton Hammond

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Definitions That Make Sense

You'll like some of these better than others, but I'll bet you'll end up telling a few to your friends in the next day or so. -- D.H.

  • ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.
  • BEAUTY PARLOR: A place where women curl up and dye.
  • CANNIBAL: Someone who is fed up with people.
  • CHICKENS: The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.
  • COMMITTEE: A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.
  • DUST: Mud with the juice squeezed out.
  • EGOTIST: Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
  • HANDKERCHIEF: Cold Storage.
  • INFLATION: Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.
  • MOSQUITO: An insect that makes you like flies better.
  • RAISIN: Grape with a sunburn.
  • SECRET: Something you tell to one person at a time.
  • SKELETON: A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.
  • TOOTHACHE: The pain that drives you to extraction.
  • TOMORROW: One of the greatest labor saving devices of today.
  • YAWN: An honest opinion openly expressed.
  • WRINKLES: Something other people have. You have character lines.
-- Dalton Hammond, with help from Wendy

More of My Jokes

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Lost in Manhattan

A few years ago I worked in a used car sales office with a guy who used to be a truck driver, who told me this story:

Big truckOne day he was making a delivery in downtown Manhattan and got lost after turning onto one of those narrow one-way streets where he couldn't turn around or even see to back up to a nice wide avenue. About that time one of New York's finest came riding up on a horse, looked into the truck cab and yelled at him with an Irish accent, "Hey, where'd you learn to drive?"

My friend looked back at the mounted policeman and replied in a semi-controlled snarl, "I learned to drive in a lot bigger place than this!"

The cop looked up at all the skyscrapers towering over their heads and asked, "Huh? What could be bigger than this place?"

The truck driver relied, "The COUNTRY!"

-- Dalton Hammond

Thursday, March 10, 2005

She Was the Star of the Show

A couple of Christmases ago, my promise of a couple of drinks and a nice seafood meal enticed my roommate to accompany me to the annual dinner meeting of an astronomy club I belong to. I knew she would be younger than most of the attendees but I figured with her bubbly personality she'd fit in just fine.

Everybody there was a dignitary as far as I was concerned, but to her they were just strangers, yet she was careful to maintain her little-girl poise and sense of wonder, asking non-technical questions about stars, planets, astronomy, and the universe of the couples sitting around us. They included the president of the club, the director of a leading planetarium, and a fellow who is considered to be one of the foremost amateur astronomers in the state, and their wives.

While I was mentally applauding her for her grace and composure she became thoughtful for a moment and it was clear to me she was wondering what else she might offer in conversation. Suddenly her eyes twinkled and she looked straight at the nearby dignitaries, sticking out her tongue at them as she said "I've got a star -- on my tongue ring!"

Sure enough, SHE DID! -- Dalton Hammond

Tongue ring

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Birth of the Earth

"In the beginning...the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Six thousand years or more after those words were written by our Biblical forebears, that's still what our learned scientists believe about the origin of our Earth and solar system.

You may have already seen the image of mine of M42 - The Orion Nebula - on this blog a few weeks ago, but don't leave yet; here's what it should look like with a bigger telescope and the professional expertise of my amateur astronomer friend Paul Gardner. When the new picture comes up click on it for an even larger view. Totally awesome!

Orion NebulaThis area is a cosmic star factory and one of the most beautiful wonders within reach of the amateur telescope. The Hubble Space Telescope and other new telescopes now in service can see much farther inside these and other clouds of luminous gases to actually see new stars - protostars - and presumably other planetary systems being born before our superenhanced eyes. -- Dalton Hammond

More of my Backyard Astronomy

The Golf Bifocals

I thought I'd heard all the golf jokes in the world but this one was new to me. Stop me if you've heard it. -- Dalton Hammond

Golfer silhouetteA foursome of golf hackers always teed off every Saturday at 10 AM and were all usually there well before tee time. One Saturday Mark rushed to the tee just in time, as the other three were teeing off. Mark apologized and explained that he had stopped at the optometrist office on the way to the course to pick up his new bifocals.

Mark put on his new glasses, teed up his ball and after turning his head this way and that proceeded to hit the best drive of his life. His approach shot to the green was even better than his drive - leaving him a birdie putt which he drilled into the middle of the hole. Mark continued to play the best golf of his life, breaking 80 for the first time and winning every bet.

The golfers retired to the clubhouse after the round to celebrate and allow Mark to buy the drinks. After the first round his friends began to press him to explain his new golf skills.

Mark said "Guys, its these new bifocals - when I put them on and looked over the top I saw a little ball and a little club - when I looked through the bottom I saw a big ball and a big club - but when I looked just right I could see a little ball and a big club. So I hit the little ball with the big club all day. When I putted it was even better, I hit the little ball into the big hole with the big putter."

Everyone thought this was exceptional and decided to have several more drinks. After a while Mark excused himself to visit the Men's room. Several minutes later, when he failed to return one friend went to check on him.

He found Mark at the urinal with the front of his trousers soaking wet. "What happened?", his friend inquired.

An obviously tipsy Mark replied "I don't know. I was standing here at the urinal and I looked down and saw two - one big one and one little one. Well, I didn't recognize the big one so I put it back in my pants!" -- D.H.

More of my Golf Stories

Friday, March 04, 2005

Cucumbers and Leeches

As the rusty pickup truck rattled along the unpaved path that ran between the tobacco field and the edge of the woods my uncle cursed the suckers that he could see beginning to emerge between the tobacco stalks and the base of each thick, sticky green leaf. They would have to be removed, by hand in the next few days, he decided. There was always something you had to do to tobacco. 'Transplanting', 'suckering', 'topping', 'priming', 'grading', 'tying', 'barning', and 'curing' were farming terms I learned on my summer visits to my cousin’s home, and even as a city-reared boy I knew what my uncle was thinking.

Children weren’t allowed to work in tobacco, so my job during the summer visits was to help pick cucumbers, which were coming in daily during late June and early July. It was back-breaking work, crawling along the rows looking for the elusive vegetable which hid under the thick leaves. Even at that young age I had an undiagnosed heart problem that kept me from producing my fair share of cucumbers, and I developed a reputation for being lazy. When the field was picked we’d take our harvest to a nearby temporary grading station that paid my uncle according to the sizes we brought. In turn, my uncle paid us each fifteen cents for our day’s work and we ran off to the country store where big cookies in a glass jar were two for a penny and a Sundrop cola was a nickel. To this day nothing quenches a summer thirst like a Sundrop, I think.

The truck swung around a corner of the woods, bringing Mr. Bill’s house into view at the top of a hill two fields away. It was a big two-story farmhouse with a circular, unpaved driveway and huge windows that ran all the way across each story. Mr. Bill owned all the farmland in the area, even my uncle’s house, and my uncle worked for him. We were told that Mr. Bill was away in Europe on vacation for several weeks as he always was this time of year and I thought about that for a moment. I wasn’t sure what Europe was, but my aunt had told me it was on the other side of the ocean. Although my cousin had never seen an ocean, I had, several times. Europe sure seemed far away. Mr. Bill must be an okay guy, I thought, since we had his permission to go swimming in his pond while he was away.

A rough path in the woods caught my eye. I knew from previous visits that it led down to a clear spring. When the Corps of Engineers built the big reservoir not far away a few years earlier, many of the local farmers’ wells ran dry, forcing them to set up barrels to catch rain water that ran off their corrugated steel farmhouse roofs for use in laundry and Saturday bathing. Once a week my uncle would hitch up a mule, wagon, and some barrels, travel to these woods and go down the path to collect fresh water for drinking.

We were soon at the pond and I immediately noticed that it had changed very little. Some of the weeds were higher, the area looked generally snakier, and the diving board looked more in need of paint, but in the heat and humidity of the rural summer it looked like an oasis to my ten-year-old eyes. Big spotted turtles the size of dishpans lolled just under the surface of the brown, murky water and seemed to be watching as the boys first, then the girls hid behind the truck to change into bathing suits.

All of us splashed and played for a large part of the afternoon, stopping every ten or fifteen minutes to come out of the water, in pairs, to pick off the blood-sucking leeches which had attached themselves all over our bodies. We were always covered with them. The idea was to pick off what you could, then turn to your partner and pick them off his back, hair, and anywhere else he couldn’t reach or see, and he'd return the favor. Then we’d jump back into the water for another round.

We burned off a huge amount of young energy that afternoon, and as we toweled dry and dressed I thought about how nice it was going to be later that night, lying on the blanket out by the vegetable garden, looking up at the sea of stars overhead. Out in the country the Milky Way was always so bright it seemed a person could read by it. There was nothing else to do since nobody had television in the early 1950s, and I’m certain that as I lay there contemplating the wonders of the universe, I developed my love for astronomy that continues to this day.

As the pickup took us home I glanced back at Mr. Bill’s house on top of the hill and stared. The late-day sun behind us bathed the house in a ruddy glow, and shining at us, as if saying goodbye, was a round red reflected sun in every window of the big house. I thought about Mr. Bill and Europe, then more urgently, began to think about my uncle's primitive outdoor Johnny House I would need to visit when we got back.

I was asleep, dreaming of cucumbers, by the time the pickup reached the main road.

(c) 2005, Dalton Hammond

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Change Your Life With Yoga

You will thank me for what you are about to read. I would like for you to consider trying a few hours per week of enjoyable, relaxing yoga which can take years off your life and inches off your waistline in your own home without any special equipment besides your own floor.

I'm not going to try to sell you any yoga product, and I have not posted any ad links relating to yoga unless my ad block in the right-hand column automatically suggests some without my knowing it, which it is likely to do per my affiliate agreement. Also, I'm not going to post any yoga links except for the wonderfully illustrative Sun Salutation graphic I borrowed which you can click to help you get started. I have no commercial tie to the web site; I'm just trying to help you enjoy your life and your body more.

Some personal background: When I was in Junior High School back in the 1950s I hurt my back somehow and I thought I would never get over it...and almost never did. Over the years I tried exercises, chiropractors, medicine, the whole gamut, but nothing really solved my problem. At times I'd walk around in a semi-crouch for weeks, in constant pain. "If I'm suffering like this in my youth, what will my life be like when I get old?", I wondered.

Then, after decades of pain, I discovered yoga.

Yoga Sun SalutationNow, I AM getting old but I get around like a teenager, actually better than some teens. When young people come to my house I sometimes ask them if they are able to touch their toes without bending their knees. Many of them who have never stretched except to pick up a TV remote cannot, and I tell them that I couldn't either when I was their age. Then I stand up, place my palms on the floor, and show them a nice Sun Salutation, which is pictured here.

There's nothing about yoga that is mysterious, and it doesn't have to be taken as a religion or some sort of occult philosophy. Yoga is like a buffet...you take out what you want.

Back when I was smoking, just one one-hour yoga class would help me bring up huge gobs of cigarette crud from my lungs. I could taste air for the first time in years and could feel air in parts of my lungs that I thought had failed to function forever. My blood pressure would go down. I felt relaxed and refreshed, a new man. Little aches disappeared. Now that I think of it I suppose yoga helped me stop smoking.

And I left every class hooked up to a tighter notch in my belt than when I went in.

I discovered that many of the exercises I had been doing at home (read: stomach crunches) were actually causing my back problems and building mass where I didn't want it (stomach). My instructor showed me how some of the same exercises, done properly, work on entirely different muscles to give proper results and relief. I also learned that many of the stretches I had been doing over the years were harming me because I hadn't gone through certain easy warmups first.

There are many types of yoga and many different postures and some may not be right for you. Check with your doctor to be sure. For example, because of a heart problem I can't do aerobic-type yoga. Also, there are still some yoga postures I can't get into, and I guess I just don't want to work that hard. I have found what works for me.

Before you give yoga a try it is very important to find an instructor who will listen to your health history a bit and explain to you the programs which are suitable for you. Done properly, there should never be the slightest pain or discomfort when you are in a yoga posture, but without some instruction before you get started it is possible to hurt yourself. A one-hour class should cost around five dollars and you'll be given a list of poses and postures to do every other night or so for homework.

What I have seen of pilates reminds me a lot of yoga and I suppose its benefits would be similar, but I don't know for sure from personal experience.

What I DO know from personal experience is that yoga can make you feel MUCH younger, breathe better, sleep better, and will help you enjoy your life a lot more. You can't ask for much more than that. Check it out.

-- Dalton Hammond (feeling 16)

Also check out my post: Do You Sweat A Lot?