New Toy

I got a new toy this weekend, a Canon PowerShot SD800 IS camera, replacing my venerable Nikon, which was nice enough but pretty low-tech by comparison. So far, I like it a lot, although I think the cost of memory cards is quite a racket!

Here’s one of the first pictures I’ve taken with it:

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Aren’t they adorable?

The new camera takes surprisingly good pictures of Blackjack, who usually just looks like a black blob with yellow eyes.

Kaffeeklatsch

Somehow three of my friends with whom I have a lot in common – Subrata, Bill and Cliff – have all ended up working at Apple in the same department.

And, perversely, they’re not in my department.

Recently we’ve started gathering for coffee every 2 or 3 weeks on Friday afternoon. It gets me out of the office – it’s about a 7-minute walk to their building – and I think gets them out of their offices as well. 🙂 We natter about programming and science fiction and gaming, all that good stuff. We got together today and it was fun as always.

Although I’m friendly with many of my immediate cow-orkers, I don’t gab with them about stuff as near and dear to my heart (or at least my pocketbook) as I do with these three.

The Vision Thing

One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I badly nearsighted, and wear contact lenses. The reason a lot of people don’t know this is that I wear lenses nearly every day, and so they almost never see me in glasses.

My right eye takes a -5.25 lens, and my left eye is worse, at -8.50. One time I asked my eye doctor whether I was in danger of no longer being able to wear contacts and she said, “Oh, no, they go up to 20.” Ye gods! Fortunately, my prescription has remained stable for about 15 years, so I’m not in danger of getting anywhere near that.

The downside to having two eyes that are so different is that I can barely do anything without lenses, since even if I’m just reading it means I have to close one eye, since the eyes are so different that one of them will be blurry unless I hold the book so close that I can’t actually focus on the same spot. The upside is that I can pretty easily tell if I put a lens in the wrong eye, because it feels different. Of course, if my eyes were the same, then I wouldn’t need that sensation in the first place.

I get new glasses about once every five years, basically when the old ones wear out. My most recent glasses came from Costco, and they’re also the first glasses to not be brown horn-rims since I got my first pair, way back around 1982. And boy do brown horn-rims look so 1980s these days.

I originally got contacts after I broke several pairs of frames playing basketball (back in the halcyon days of youth when I could almost play basketball). These days I have one pair of soft lenses which I wear every day and clean every night (and replace once a year), and I also buy soft dailies (from 1-800-CONTACTS) which I take when I travel, so I don’t need to carry the cleaning stuff. This is a pretty good balance between cost and convenience, I think.

I have thought of getting laser eye surgery, but I’m such a wuss when it comes to my eyes that I don’t really want someone zapping them with a laser. If my eyes were damaged, I’d truly be up shit creek, since almost everything I do and enjoy involves vision. (I’d rather go deaf than blind. I might even rather lose my hands than go blind.) A cow-orker recently said that she thinks a lot of people go into software engineering just so they can afford laser eye surgery. Heh.

The next stop on my ongoing vision odyssey will be farsightedness, I guess. But my eye doctor says there’s no sign of it kicking in yet. I figure if I make it to 45 without my ability to focus going, then I’ll be doing pretty good.

Kitties in the Window

A friend of mine tells me from time to time that my journal is seriously deficient in cat pictures. To help fix that problem (for the time being), here’s a shot of three of the cats from yesterday:

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(L-R): Blackjack, Jefferson, and Roulette

Jefferson and Blackjack both like to lie in the same places – the basket, the papasan, under the dining table, at our feet in bed, etc. Although Roulette was the one with a big crush on Jeff when they were kittens, I think Blackjack is the one who ended up adopting many of Jefferson’s mannerisms.

Alas, Poor Tree

One of the things that I really liked about my house when I moved in was the trio of trees out front which flowered every January. These trees are ubiquitous in Silicon Valley (there are a whole bunch of them at work), and their flowers are very fragrant. Sometimes I’d read the paper in my front room with the windows open – even though it was 50 degrees out – to get a whiff of the tree in the morning. (Most of these trees in the area flower in March, ours always flowered early for some reason.) And at Christmas time Debbi and I would decorate the tree, wrapping cords of lights around the leafless branches, and attracting many kind comments from the neighbors.

The trees were put in when the complex was built, in the late 70s, and I guess they have a well-known lifespan. The tree in front of our house died last winter, and one of its two companions probably has only one more season left. (The third tree, which is much smaller, living as it does in the shadow of a large pine tree, seems to be in better shape.)

This morning the tree trimmers came and cut down the tree in front, pulling out the large ball of the root, and they started trimming the dead branches off the second tree.

So, I’m sad. I really liked that tree. We’re going to try to put in a new tree of the same type, but it will probably be years before it grows to full size.