Thursday, September 16, 2010

dad's birthday project...

I changed the design of my blog.  I picked one of the pre-made templates.  I like it, but I'll see if I like it enough to let it stay.  What do you think?

Jerome and I have been working on a project that was started a few years ago but has come to a point that it needs to get done - and it's a perfect time to get it done because it will be a birthday present for my dad.  He is turning 80 this year.
The project that I'm talking about is putting my parents 8mm home movies into a digital format.

It's a little complicated since we don't have the equipment to do this the way professionals would, but we hope it turns out OK anyway.

Luckily the old projector is still working so that we could set it up with the film, point it at the screen (also the original) and use our digital video camera on a tripod and record the movie on the screen.

A little off topic,...I have a question.  When did your household first have color TV?  It seems from what I can read on Wikipedia that it wasn't until the summer of 1954 that color TVs were made available to the general public.  I am too young to know that for sure, but I do recall something being said to us in Kindergarten about the first color TVs coming to households in September 1954 and I remember marking that in my mind, because that is when my oldest sister was born.  I thought "WOW, my sister is really old".  Anyway, the reason I ask is because all of the home movies that my mother and father took were on color film.  I'm guessing that they didn't own a color TV at the time, but they could record their own lives in true Technicolor.  The first home movie is Christmas 1956.  This is when they purchased the camera, projector and screen...I know this because you can see all of the boxes for these items under the tree.

We recorded the 8mm in the late winter last year - we had a trial run of this about two years prior, but  decided to just re-do it all last winter.  We set this up in the basement, so it was very dark.  The 8mm film itself is starting to deteriorate by either getting really bleached out or getting really dark.  The projector is running a bit slow (probably needs oil on some gears) and so everybody looks to be in slow motion.

However, we have a Mac and they are supposed to be great with pictures and movies.  It came with the software iMovie and iDVD, but Jerome is an avid reader of computer magazines and articles discussing new technologies and software, so he found one on the internet that he thought would work for what we would want to do in the future and downloaded it along with its very large manual.  The software is called Final Cut (Pro, I think).

So, after we sat through nearly 4 hours of home movies, recording them all with the video camera, Jerome then transferred them onto the computer.  And then it sat there for several months while spring and summer came and (nearly) went.

We've (mostly he) started pulling the movies into Final Cut, where it gets edited and pieces fall on the cutting room floor.  It's good that he is the one editing because he can provide some objectivity since these are not (in a lot of cases) people he knows and whom he is emotionally attached to.  Clip, clip, clip.
So, now we have ordered the movies by year and event, we have edited the length, we have added chapter markers and transitions, have made freeze frame images with titles to each of the movies (I think there are 44 in total) and placed them at the beginning of each movie.  We have removed the ambient sound, which consisted of the projector noise and my commentary on each of the movies, we lightened the dark films and darkened the light films and sped them up just a tad. We went online to find the old drive-in intermission clips from the 50's and 60's so that we can use them at the end of two of the three DVDs that these movies will fill.

Now we are trying to get music that they liked from that era.  Once we find what we want to use, we will add it to the program and voila!  No more silent movies!

Then we will still have to set up the DVDs with the movies and some still photos and also "Chapters" so that you can choose the movie you want to watch.  Then it will be rendering and burning time.  Can only hope all goes well.  Dad's birthday will be upon us quite quickly.  Jerome and my dad share a birth date (October 10).

We would also like to be done with these for our trip out east at the end of next week.  So that we can get approval from my older sisters.

It's quite a process and this is not the first movie/DVD that we've done on the Mac.  We had to purchase an external hard drive and a back-up.  These movies take a LOT of room/memory.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

update to the tale...

Today was my "Bad Driver Class".

I called to set up the class right after I got home on Wednesday from court.  I had up to 6 months to complete the class.  I wanted to get this over with and behind me as soon as possible. 

It was at the Class A Training Center in Armada.  This is where they teach people to be over the road truck drivers.

The class was pretty full - mostly teens and young twenties.  I was the oldest...I think I was even older than the teacher.  They made thousands today.  I had to pay $85 cash for the class, but I could see that some had to pay more.

The class was very basic.  The class commentary was much more entertaining.  We all got the chance to learn about just how many BAD drivers there are out there on the road...and in this class was just a small percentage of them.

The teacher wanted us to share with the class how we ended up there.

Without any prompting, we found out that a couple of the guys had two or more DUI's, plus accidents and speeding tickets.  One girl was driving on a suspended license and didn't update her tags, so that's how she got nailed.  Others blew through stop signs.  It was starting to get ridiculous.  These are semi new drivers.  And the bravado in the room was hard to take.  They all seemed rather proud of themselves.

But the funniest story was from an 18 year old guy.  He lives at 24 Mile Road and Dequindre.  He left for the class at 8:30am.  The class started at 9am.  It would have taken him 15-20 minutes to get to class, but he decided that he was in a hurry.  He was clocked doing 99 in a 70 zone.  The State Trooper that wrote him up, wrote him up for the whole thing; 29 over!  He was in the class for a speeding ticket and then he shared with us that he needed to clear up yet another ticket.  I think this guy will be used as an example and will end up in jail for a while.

Crazy, getting a ticket on your way to "safe driving school"...or I think I'm more appropriate to call it "Bad Driver Class".

Thursday, September 9, 2010

a tale of woe...

All I can say is NEVER get a ticket in Romeo.
Here's my story (excuse?...maybe)...

It was a Monday.  I had just finished up my Meals on Wheels route and was heading to my parents house for the afternoon.  I call it my Senior Citizen Monday.

I headed east out my driveway and down the VERY steep hill going toward downtown.  I was not paying attention to my speed, but I was not using the accelerator because I was heading down the hill.  There is a traffic light at VanDyke (Prospect) and Gates, but if you don't have to stop for that, your momentum continues and you are most likely picking up speed as you pass the cheesy motel (La Juliette a.k.a. The Romeo Inn).  Right about the area where you start to curve around to go into town; where Gates changes into Main Street, there is a small dirt driveway that has a dumpster at the end...and there he was; Officer Gorgeous (inside joke between Jbo and me).  Now, I was not going any faster than the people that were in front of me, but I was the last one around the curve.

The next thing I see are the lights.  Oh Geez!  I remember seeing him in that spot when I was finishing up my last delivery and was heading back to the Senior Center on Morton.  Damn! I wish I had remembered he was there.

Typically, when I stop my car and turn off the engine, the next thing I do is immediately take off my seatbelt.  It's an impulse.  In a case where I'm getting pulled over, I do the same thing, but then I worry that the officer didn't notice that my seatbelt was ever on in the first place...then I think, maybe I can sneak it back on, but if I do that, he'll think I never had it on and will question me about why I'm putting it on and I'll get an extra ding when he writes me a ticket.  So, instead I just sit there and wait and see.

First thing the officer says to me is "Speed limit on Gates is 25".  Smarty me says with a sort of surprised questioning tone "I live on Gates...?".  He says he clocked me doing 40MPH, why do I suppose I was moving that fast?  Smarty me says "I would think it has something to do with the hill".  He says that from where he clocked me, there is no longer a hill.  I beg to differ (I didn't say that), but if you had a marble and you placed it where he clocked me, it would be flying down the hill (that no longer exists) and probably would be clocked doing 40.  Then he asked me what my license plate means.  I told him that it has to do with our online MINI club and that it's me and my husbands screen name.  He asked me if I've received a ticket lately and I told him that yes, I have.  He goes back to his car.

When he comes back he tells me that where I live, the speed limit on Gates is 35.  So, he is going to write me up for 5 miles over the speed limit.  He asked me where I received my last ticket because it hasn't shown up yet.  I told him in Waterford (or wherever I was).  When they write you a ticket, all you do it pay it and it "goes away".  He said that it is similar here in Romeo, but that I would have to go to court.

My court date was yesterday at 2pm.  I was not going to worry too much about it because I've been through all of this before (I think this was my third time in 28 years that I've had to go to court for a ticket).

I believe the judge was related to one of the previous owners of our house.  One from the early 70's - the Romeo Attorney.  Same last name and I believe when I spoke to said Attorney last year, he mentioned that his son was a Romeo judge.

There were 3 kids (16+ years old) and maybe 4 or 5 adults to be judged.  The session started out with a little lecture from the judge stating that 30,000+ people die each year to traffic accidents and, in his words "nobody cares".  Then he went into the whole cell phone and texting distractions that cause auto accidents.  I was thinking that I'm probably the only one who actually pulls over to text and even sometimes to talk on the cell phone (like when I was headed to the hospital last week).

The first guy that was up was in his late 30's and the judge chewed him a new one.  He had something like 7 points already, so he was not going to get a break (like removing the points he was about to receive).  He was a little too mouthy for the judges approval.  He was told that he would need to take a class + the $120 for 5 miles over the speed limit.

Next guy was one of the 16+ year olds.  He was dressed in a suit.  He was very nice and accepted his judgment.  The judge told him that he would need to pay $195, which he then made a side note that if you don't receive the points, you are charged an additional $50 and that is why his judgment is more than what was written on the pamphlet.  Nice to tell us now.  It said on the pamphlet that we needed to be sure to bring the correct amount of our charge, but I'm not sure any of us knew that we would need to pay an additional $50 to have our points erased.  Don't worry, they have an ATM machine in the lobby or if you want to use your credit card, an additional charge of 5% will be added.

Next up - me.  He asked me my driving record.  I said I believe I have no points on my driving record.  He asked if I had any other violations in the past two years.  I figured from the first guy that was in front of him that he was well aware of what violations we've had, so I told him that yes, in the last two years, I have received a ticket for speeding.  He asked me what happened with that one and I told him that all they required from me is payment and the points would "disappear".  He said we don't do things like that around here; otherwise how do you know who the bad drivers are.  I'm thinking many things at this point like - I see "bad" drivers out there all the time and I'm not one of them.  I'm not darting through traffic at outrageous speeds.  I was just caught in a speed trap; down a hill, where the limit changed from 35 to 25 and within a few feet, it was back up to 30.  I was also thinking that I see a lot of police officers driving very poorly.  Doing things we would be stopped for, but for some reason, they are "allowed" to do these maneuvers - just not fair.  But alas, I said nothing and took my medicine.

The medicine was $120 for the ticket (5mph over), $50 to have the points disappear AND a driving class, which I found out at the cashiers desk that would cost me an additional $85 and 4 hours of my time.

Yes people, that's $255, + 1/2 a day off work, + 4 hours of my precious weekend time...all for 5 miles over the limit, caught in an obvious trap at the bottom of a steep hill.

At the cashiers desk I looked over at the 16+ year old boy, dressed in his suit, paying his outrageous ticket (for 10 over) and asked him where in Romeo was he pulled over?  He told me it was as he was entering the expressway.  I asked him if he felt it was a trap?  He grinned a little and nodded then said that he was a little distracted that day because he had just picked up (or dropped off) his sister at rehab.  It's too bad we don't feel confident enough to fight our fines.  He nodded.  I told him that mine was bad too (however, probably not as bad)...I got pulled over on my own street.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peyton Isabella Bruce is Born!...

Got the call from Kathy at 9:08am on Monday to let me know that Sam was admitted into the hospital and was dilated 5cm.

Took a shower, finished up the dishes and called Meals on Wheels to get a sub for me that day.  Frustrations; the MonW voicemail that tells you to call back during regular business hours kept picking up and then hanging up at the end of the message.  It WAS regular business hours!!!  I called 5 times before I got a hold of a human to let them know I would not be able to do my run that day.  As it turns out, I could have done my run.  But you just never know when things are going to happen.

Started driving to the hospital a little after 10am.  While driving, my cell was going off.  I can't immediately identify where the bugger is, so I pull over and fish it out of my purse.  It's Jerome, I'd missed the call so I call him back.  The connection is bad and then goes dead.  My cell phone is dead!  UGH!  I don't have my charger with me!

Got to the hospital and decided to park in the parking garage on the North side of the hospital.  I pull into the first space I find, which I notice once I'm all the way pulled in that this space is reserved for Large vehicles...and I'm driving my MINI.  I start backing out when I nearly get rear-ended (completely my fault) by a pick-up truck that doesn't see me backing out of this spot because I'm so small next to these huge trucks.

When I finally arrived in the Labor and Delivery Room (room 7 - good luck!), everything was nice and calm.  Really nice room; a little cold.  We all stayed there and chatted for a few hours.  There was Sam, her mother Kathy, her father Bill and her brother Derek - and me.
There was a point in time where she found it possible to Skype with Justin...after he ate dinner.  It was nice to see his very pixalized face.  Then he needed to leave again to use the restroom.  Talked for a moment and then said he needed to get off so he could go to sleep.  Nice.  Good for him, I guess.  Guys, they have it so easy...especially when they are away fighting a war.
She remained calm the entire time we were all in the room.  She was really doing good until she started feeling the pain.  Then the mood changed and it was time for us to leave.  The doctor was determining what to do to bring her along since it seemed her progression had slowed down.

We all retreated to the actual "Waiting Room".  A short while later we were joined by Jerome.  He was coming from work.  Had some dinner, watched some TV, browsed the internet...

Three and a half hours later, our little angel was born.
We found out later that she was facing the wrong way and that was the reason she was having a hard time coming out.

She was born Monday, August 30 at 9:37pm.  She was weighed in at 8lbs 1oz (first time she was weighed, the scale was wrong) and she's 20 3/4" long.