Water + Blackberry = Brokeberry
Apr 10th, 2009 by Jessica

Long story short, I woke up on Wednesday and found my Blackberry sitting in a tiny amount of water near the sink. It was just enough so that it suctioned the unit to the counter, but not enough so that I could physically see it was sitting in water. This was a very small amount of water.

It wouldn’t turn on at all. I tried drying it in the sunlight, charging it, taking the battery out a few times and putting it back in… No go.

On my lunch break, I went to the Verizon store and the person “helping” me said that the chip was dead and the battery was dead. There was nothing I could do. He said they couldn’t pull any data off of it, and that I was supposed to have been backing it up to my home computer (huh?). He gave me three options:

1. Buy a new Blackberry World for regular retail price ($500)
2. Wait 3 weeks until my 1-year anniversary and buy one for $170
3. Buy a refurbished unit for $50 but it doesn’t come with a battery, and they don’t sell batteries

After he pulled out the battery and put it back in again, I noticed the unit came on very briefly and then shut itself off again. He continued to try to convince me that it was completely dead and wouldn’t work any more. I told him what to do with his three choices, and went back to work.

Andrew listened to the story and thought maybe a new battery was all it needed. I found out that Fry’s Electronics carries batteries for Blackberry units. I went down and purchased one for $24.99 and low and behold – my Blackberry is no longer a Brokeberry.

So there, Verizon. Screw you and your quest for another $500 from this customer!

Mental note: Don’t place Blackberry in puddles of water…

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Transformers in 3D
Mar 22nd, 2009 by Jessica

Andrew decided to finally catalog and photograph his entire Transformers collection. He’s had some of them since childhood, but back in 2007 when the first movie came out he started collecting again.  He has amassed a few hundred I think, but I’m still waiting for the final count.

I swear, I know where every single Wal-Mart and Target in the state of Arizona are at now.  And exactly where the Toys & Games section is located in every single one.  We’re even going to BotCon this year in Pasadena, May 26-28.  Andrew actually blogged about it *GASP!*…

While displayed in robot mode, I took some 3D cross-view shots. You can see all of them on Flickr, but here is my favorite:

3D Transformers Collection

Transformers in 3D

To view the image, relax and cross your eyes. Or, if you have a cross-view 3D viewer, it can be used to also view this image in three dimensions. Notice Swerve in the upper left, the red Chevrolet Aveo. Isn’t he cute? 🙂  I got him for Andrew this past Christmas.  He’s one of a select few that I can actually name in this bunch.  Andrew can rattle them off like the alphabet, but I can only point out Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, Sunstreaker and Barricade.  The rest are a mystery to me.

You might also take a look at my other 3D images on Flickr.

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Bathroom Remodeling
Mar 17th, 2009 by Jessica

Andrew and I decided to combine Uncle Sam’s refund with our savings and remodel the bathrooms this year.  We’ve lived in our “new” house since September 2001, and the bathrooms still had all the original fixtures and surfaces.  They were getting pretty disgusting – especially the shower basin.  We just could not get it clean, no matter what we tried.

We found a local contractor and picked out new field tile, floor tile and glass accent tile.  We then picked out new shower heads, handles, tub fillers and faucets, all in brushed nickel. We went fairly inexpensive with the fixtures, knowing how the Arizona hard water chews through them so fast.  We would rather replace them frequently then buy really expensive ones that are going to look terrible in just a few years.

We also had to order a new shower door.  We chose a completely frameless style which was a big chunk of our budget, but I think it will look great when it’s all in place.  It’s the same kind of doors I’ve seen in the fanciest Vegas hotels and spas, and I’ve always liked the look of the frameless showers.

For the guest bath, we did all of the changes ourselves.  We replaced the main square mirror with a 30″ round.  We replaced the gold ball accent light with a pretty mushroom shaped white flush mount.  We replaced all of the fixtures to match the ones going into the master bath. We also changed out all of the artwork and went towards a tropical Hawaiian theme with deep oranges, yellows and golds.  The accent colors are blue/green beach hues.

The biggest change is probably the new shower curtain rod, which is bowed outward and provides a lot more space in the shower/tub combo.  Since we’re going to be using it for the next 2 weeks until our shower door comes in, I really needed more space.  We might have used that shower 3-4 times since we have moved into the house, so I never gave it a second thought.

In the master bedroom, the biggest change will be an increase in the size of our shower.  We have a separate tub and shower.  The existing shower is 30×30, which is incredibly tiny.  We are increasing the depth to 42″, and the width to about 35″ above the pony wall.  The bottom will remain at 30″ wide, but the upper half should be a bit bigger.  Hopefully it will be just big enough to make the shower comfortable to move around in.

The master bathtub will remain as it is a deep soaking tub, and we couldn’t find a better tub to put in its place.  The main problem is that it is only 5 ‘ in length, and we can’t make it any longer.  We didn’t want to remove it, or the house would technically become “3 bedroom 1 3/4 bath” instead of “3 bedroom 2 bath”.  For resale, we didn’t want to take that hit.  Besides, the tub would be great for kids or for a smaller adult to enjoy.  It just doesn’t do much for me or Andrew.

I’ll be sure to post pictures before and after when it’s all said and done.  Until then, I’ll be plugging my ears due to all of the banging, drilling, soldering and wet saw action.

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So much to blog about…
Feb 7th, 2009 by Jessica

I did not realize that it’s been since December that I’ve put anything new up.  Sorry about that!  Let’s see what’s been happening…

I finished Portrait Photography in the middle of December and am pretty glad to be done with it.  The class was frustrating, and I just wasn’t feeling very creative.  I always felt like my equipment was holding me back – I really needed a lens that could shoot at f1.4 or f2.8 in the lighting conditions we practiced with.  My two lenses only got me as low as f4.0 in certain setups, and that was entirely too frustrating.  I had to sit out of many sessions because my shots were just too fuzzy.  For Christmas, Andrew got me a macro lens which is a set f2.8 at 100mm.  I LOVE the lens – I just really wish I had it sooner to use during the class.  At least I have it now, and I know exactly how to use it.

Christmas was somewhat uneventful this year.  We had dinner at Amy and Mason’s for Christmas eve, and stayed home on Christmas day.  The 2 1/2 week break from work that Andrew and I experienced together for the first time was not what we expected.  Since we both work for the colleges now, we had December 24 through January 5 off paid holiday.  We discovered that having that much time cooped up together in the house with no travel plans and nothing to do was NOT a good thing.  Not good at all.  Let’s just say that we will plan a trip next time, for sure.

January was much more eventful.  Watching the inaguration of President Obama was very exciting for me.  I am so glad nothing happened and that we seem to be moving forward as a country.  I do hope he has it in him to help our economy come out of this slump.

Andrew and I went to Flagstaff for our seventh anniversary.  We had dinner at Brix, which we both felt was awfully high priced for the food we got.  If you like fine wine and cheese, it definitely should be at the top of your list.  The cheese selection was fantastic.  Then we went to Lowell Observatory for the first time.  Lucky for us there was practically nobody there.  They had three telescopes viewing that night.  The smallest one was looking at the moon at 85x.  The middle one was looking at Venus and the Orion Nebula at about 140x.

The Clark telescope was showing the moon at 180x and 460x.  Talk about spectacular!  Seeing the moon at 460x was uneblievable.  We were studying approximately 2 miles of the moon’s surface in one view.  I really enjoyed it.  Since there was nobody there, we just kept moving from one telescope to another and talking with the guides.  It was really cool!  We finished off the trip by driving down through Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona during sunrise, which was quite pretty indeed.

And of course, then there were the Arizona Cardinals.  Superbowl bound – the state went nuts!  We are so proud of them for getting all the way to the Superbowl.  I watched the whole game live on February 1 after we arrived home from Sedona, and was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  I can’t believe we ALMOST won it!  We were SO close!  Ahh well – maybe next year eh?  We can dream, anyway.

Work is very hectic these days.  We have severe budget cuts due to the state cutbacks, and it’s making everyone a little edgy.  I’ve been trying to steer my department in the right direction and save costs wherever possible.  We’re slashing through some of the politics and moving forward on projects that have been waiting in the wings for years (such as moving pieces of old applications off the VAX systems).  It’s been very challenging, and I’m thankful to have such a wonderful team of people to work with.  They are the reason I get up in the morning and drive to work every day.

I served on a jury for the first time ever last week.  It was a DUI case, and we found the defendent guilty of driving under the influence, as well as driving above a .08 blood alcohol level.  His level was .13 and he was convinced that he was not drunk or impaired in any way.  Sorry man – no matter how well you hold your alcohol, the state still considers you impaired.  Don’t drink and drive.

I’ve been reading the Twilight series from Stephanie Meyer.  I’m really not into vampires at all, and I truly didn’t believe that I could like the book.  Now that I’ve finished the first one, I find that the writing is quite good.  Although I don’t necessarily like the vampire talk or the suspense of the main character being hunted… the humor in the book is excellent.  The details of how the characters react to each other are spot on.  It really brings me back to senior year of high school the way the writer talks about friends and innocent romance.  Gaaahh – what am I saying?  Well, whatever, I liked it.  So there.  I even started reading the second book, New Moon.  Hopefully it’s as good as the first one.

Let’s see, what else has been going on…?  Andrew and I decided to spruce up the back yard this morning.  We planted petunias, pansies, another hibiscus and a lilac vine.  All the weeds are gone and the leaves have been collected.  It almost looks like a nice yard now!  Maybe it will start to smell nice once the petunias bloom.  We have some calla lillies, daffodils and tulips coming up in the planter beds too.  It’s early February in Arizona – time for all the flowers to bloom!  That’s still a strange concept to me.  Where I grew up, flowers bloomed in May and June!

My sister is in Mexico right now with her husband on a trip for work.  They are flying back tomorrow and have a layover in Phoenix for about 4 hours, so we’re going to pick them up for lunch.  It will be nice to see them, even if it’s just for a little tiny bit.  I miss my sister a lot, and my neices and nephew.  I wish I could see them more often.  It feels like the kids are growing up without us.  I wonder if they will ever know how much I think about them?

Well, I think that just about sums it up.  I’ll try to post a little more often than I have been.  I know – empty promises.  I still have emails in my inbox from friends and family from Christmas 2007 that I haven’t responded to yet.  Guilty as charged.

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Is it worth it?
Aug 26th, 2008 by Jessica

That’s a hard question to answer.  Especially when it comes to a human being.

Andrew and I have started looking further into the beginnings of a family.  We went to a foster-to-adopt session last night, and discovered that it’s not the route we want to take.  For many reasons, straight adoption is the way we want to go.

So, I started investigating adoption paths more seriously.  China’s rules are awfully strict; Guatemala is having legal troubles.  South Korea’s children are generally not adopted before age 3.  I was leaning toward Russia all along, and it seemed feasible when all the websites explained the average cost of adoption was $25-$30k.

Well, someone needs to update those websites.  I jumped on a forum of people currently adopting from Russia.  I read post after post, topic after topic of women whose journey to adoption from that country have averaged over $45k, some upwards of $60k, for a single child.

How can we justify spending that kind of money for a child?  That is about half of what we owe on our house…  That’s way more than I spent on my entire college education (including my Master’s degree).

If I bring a child into this household, I don’t want to be paying off the debt forever instead of saving for her college education.  That just doesn’t seem fair to the child.

Is it really worth it?

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Hydrogen Road Show 2008
Aug 23rd, 2008 by Jessica

I went to see the Hydrogen Road Show with Mom yesterday out at Gateway Community College. It was incredibly hot outside, and of course they held the show in the parking lot so we only stayed for about 20 minutes.  It was easy to tell that the automotive representatives were nearing the end of their roadshow because they really didn’t want to talk to us.  In fact, most of them were just downright rude.  Maybe they just weren’t used to the Arizona heat.

We saw the Toyota Full Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV), BMW Hydrogen-7, Volkswagon Touran HY-MOTION, Nissan X-TRAIL Fuel Cell Vehicle and the Mercedes F-CELL.

Nissan X-TRAIL Fuel Cell VehicleThe cars were generally neat to see.  I got to sit inside the driver seat on all of them and push some buttons.  🙂  In a lot of ways they are exactly like the cars of today, with some minor adjustments.  Most of them had less trunk space due to invasion of extra tanks.  Some of them have warning stickers on the steering wheel that say “OUTDOOR PARKING ONLY.”  The Nissan rep was telling us it’s because they are essentially bombs on wheels!

I was most impressed with the Nissan X-TRAIL SUV.  It had a lot of room, was incredibly quiet when it was turned on, and had a nice clean look.  The Mercedes F-CELL was pretty neat too, although I was certainly crunched in the driver seat.  It was really tiny inside.  My knees were smashed into the steering wheel and it wasn’t really evident how to adjust the seat or the wheel.  I guess that’s why they call them “concept cars!”

I’ve posted the rest of the pictures on Flickr.

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Aug 1st, 2008 by Jessica

That’s how many photos are in my Photos directory on my hard drive.  Yup.  I’ve taken a lot of photos in my day.  I downloaded the latest version of ACDSee Pro 2 and it catalogued the directory.  When that number popped up several hours later, I knew that I must be a snap-a-holic.

My new computer arrived on Tuesday and I’ve almost got all of my files copied onto it.  I picked up a copy of Scrapbook Factory Deluxe 4.0 from Fry’s and I’m going to give that a shot this weekend.  With all those photos to choose from, I think I’ll be busy for a while!

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Data Woes
Jul 20th, 2008 by Jessica

A few weeks ago, I pulled out an old 120GB external Maxtor hard drive from the safe to pull some backup photos off it and copy them to a newer 500GB hard drive.  I ran out of space on my own computer with all the video editing and DVD creation that I do, so I had to offload some of the files onto external drives. 

Well, the 120GB was showing signs of failure.  I couldn’t get my computer to read from it, so I had to take it to *gasp* Data Doctors for help.  Can you believe it?  Me, at Data Doctors.  Yup, I’ll admit it, I needed help.  My new best friend Jon was able to recover my digital photographs from 2001-2005 which apparently I didn’t have a backup of anywhere else in my house.  Shame on me!

So with my $199 slap-on-the-wrist complete, I came home to start reorganizing all of my files and structure it in a way that it could be backed up in a more efficient manner.  My home-build computer is running on approximately 5 years seniority in the house, which unbelievably is younger than Andrew’s dinosaur.  Our 2004 laptop is currently the most recent computer in the house!  That will not be the case for long, however.

As I was moving files around in a desperate attempt to clean up my five independent hard drives and organize them into areas like Photos, Music, Genealogy, Video Images, Documents and the like, My 250GB G:\ decided to fail as well.  Luckily I had everything from it backed up on the external 500GB drive as of yesterday!  Okay, fine, I can take a hint.  I desperately need a new computer!

Dell XPS 630This morning, I broke down and ordered a Dell XPS 630.   It has an Intel® Core2 Q9450 (12MB, 2.66GHz, 1333FSB) with 4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz.  The video card is an nVidia GeForce 9800 GT 512MB, and it has 1.75 TB of hard drive space (the main drive is 750GB – 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache and the second drive is 1TB – 7200RPM, SATA 2 3.0Gb/s, 32MB Cache).  It has two optical drives: 48x Combo + 16x DVD+/-RW. 

We already have Vista Ultimate and Office Professional to install on it when it gets here, so I didn’t get any software loaded on it.  I also have a nice Samsung SyncMaster 204B flatscreen monitor so there was no need to get a new one.

Dell has some pretty good discounts available.  I got free shipping and about $430 off the list price, so the system cost $1,834 delivered.  It’s a bit pricey, but if I spread that out over the next five years I suppose it’s not that bad.

I can’t wait to get it!  It should be here sometime around August 1st.  It will be nice to continue working on my video editing and my archive scanning without worrying as much about the hard drives failing.

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Unidentified Stamp
Jul 4th, 2008 by Jessica

When I was a little girl I used to collect stamps.  I would go to the stamp shows at the mall and buy hundreds of stamps in a bulk envelope, most of them postmarked.  Then I would go through my huge stamp album and see which ones I still needed from dozens of different countries.  I would carefully cut hinges to size and adhere them to the pages.

After about five years or so, I got tired of stamp collecting.  I sold my huge stamp binder and all of my accessories to my dad’s girlfriend, Noreen.  I regretted it almost immediately, but didn’t bother to ask her if I could buy it back.  I’m guessing she gave it away at some point over the years.

One stamp survived the sale.  A single holdout – my favorite stamp.  It’s not quite a stamp, or at least, it’s not sticky on the back.  It’s very thin and translucent. 

It was not in my stamp book, and I could never identify the country or language on it.  It clearly says 1949 and 3.00 although I don’t know the currency.  If anyone out there can help me to identify any of the markings, such as the language or countries pictured, please let me know!


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Applied Project: DONE!
Mar 29th, 2008 by Jessica

Our applied project group presentation was completed this morning at 9:15. We were the very first group of the day to do our presentation. Wow, we did great! I am so proud of the work we did. Our presentation was excellent and our Q&A was very concise.

I felt that our handout materials were professional, and we all wore nice suits and business professional clothing. It really came together at the end! I’m almost sad that it’s a Pass/Fail course, because I think we really went the extra mile to make it stand above and beyond. I’m sure we would have received an A!

Thanks to my teammates for all their hard work and dedication to the project. It was a huge success!

Six more weeks of classes and we’ll finally be done!

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