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Week of 22 December 2008

Latest Update: Sunday, 28 December 2008 09:02 -0500

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Monday, 22 December 2008
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08:43 - Costco run and dinner with Paul and Mary yesterday.  We gave Mary a gift we found for her that is multi-dimensionally perfect: Mary is a chemist and a vegetarian.

We spent part of the morning and afternoon hanging kitchen cabinet doors. The old hinges were external on the frame side and the door side. The new hinges are recessed on the door side. That is, they mount to the rear of the door rather than the front. One thing I didn't think about when we bought the hinges is clearance between the rear overhang of the doors and the cabinet opening.  These cabinets were built in-place, so there's some minor variation from door to door. A typical opening is 16", with the face of the door about 16.5". But a typical rear side of a door is maybe 15-5/8", and the hinge itself occupies about 1/4" on the inside of the door. That leaves me maybe 1/8" (~ 3mm) of clearance, so I had to fit the hinges very carefully to avoid binding. We got all of the lower cabinet doors installed. Installing the pulls and magnetic catches will be a project for another weekend, as will installing the upper cabinet doors. But we're making progress.

I didn't manage to get any of the images shot for chapter 6 (hair and fiber analysis). The text part of that chapter is complete, and the images will just have to wait. I'll start today on the rewrite of chapter 7 (glass and plastic analysis). And my lab is still trashed. I'm in my usual state when a book is starting to come together in final form. I have so many balls in the air that I'm bound to drop some of them.


Tuesday, 23 December 2008
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07:59 - I got most of the rewrite on chapter 7 done yesterday. I should finish it today. At some point, I need to spend a couple of hours getting my lab cleaned up and then shoot the images for chapters 6 and 7.

We've been experiencing a cold snap the last couple days, with highs around freezing and overnight lows around 19 F (-7 C). Sunday night, the wind chill got down to 6 F (-14 C). The low temperatures are pretty hard on our older Border Collie, Duncan, who turns 14 on 1 January. He sleeps on the floor on my side of the bed, on a long futon with a couple of regular dog beds on top of it. Even so, I was concerned last night that he'd get chilled, since he's against an exterior wall. So I covered him with a light throw blanket, which he didn't seem to mind.


Wednesday, 24 December 2008
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08:55 - I finished the rewrite of chapter 7 (glass and plastic analysis) yesterday, and got part way through chapter 8 (revealing latent fingerprints). I'll finish the rewrite on chapter 8 this morning and get started on chapter 9 (blood detection). If I finish that today, I'll get started on chapter 10 (impression analysis). For now, I'm just doing some minor rewrite and inserting image placeholders in the chapters and building an annotated consolidated image list, from which I'll actually shoot the images when Barbara's available to help me. I'm on a roll now, and the book is actually starting to look like a book.

Barbara took a vacation day today. She's running errands, helping her dad with some chores, and going for a mammogram this afternoon. She'll be over at her sister's house all day tomorrow for Christmas. (I'll take care of the dogs and work most of a normal day and then head over around dinner time.) She's going to work at least a partial day next Monday, but plans to take most of that week off, so we'll have plenty of time to shoot images and get most or all of the remaining work done in the kitchen.


Thursday, 25 December 2008
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11:04 - Hah! Got him! After years of trying and failing to capture Santa, I finally started wondering if he was reading my journal and knew my plans ahead of time. So this year I didn't say a word about what I planned to do. And my cunning plan worked! Oh, the reindeer and sleigh are gone, with no sign that they were ever here, but I did get something.

I used the old flypaper-in-the-chimney trick. This morning, I looked up the chimney and found it blocked, either by Santa himself or his bag of loot. It's hard to tell. I shined a flashlight up the chimney and all I could see was red cloth. Whatever it is isn't talking, even after I started laying a fire in the fireplace.

Barbara took off about 9:00 to head over to her sister's house, where they'll have festivities all day. I'll take care of the dogs today and head over late this afternoon for dinner. Otherwise, it's a normal workday for me.

11:15 - Curses! Foiled Again! I just climbed up on the roof with a long hook to extract whatever was wedged in the chimney. Turns out it wasn't Santa or the loot. It was a red sack full of ... coal.

Oh, and I forgot my Note to Burglars:

Yes, it's true I'll be gone for a couple hours this afternoon, although I'm not saying exactly when. I'll even tell you that I'm going to crate both of the dogs. But I'll also warn you that I'm giving George and Martha free run of the house. George and Martha are diamondback rattlesnakes, and they both still have their fangs. George is actually pretty laid-back. He seldom strikes unless someone annoys him. Martha, on the other hand, has a nasty snakish temper, even for a rattlesnake. You probably think I'm making this up, but my friends know I'm serious. Deadly serious.

That's the reason, incidentally, why I have that long hook handy.


Friday, 26 December 2008
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10:27 - Boxing Day, and Barbara and I were just moving boxes around. We're getting the downstairs guest suite, which we hadn't touched since the Bilbreys visited over Thanksgiving, straightened out and cleaned up. Later today, we'll continue work in the kitchen, which is starting to look like an actual kitchen again. There are still some cabinet doors to install and some hardware to mount, but that's it other than installing replacement electric receptacles and some other minor stuff. And I may get some work in on my lab, which looks like a disaster area.

Over the weekend, we'll shoot a lot of images for the forensics book, particularly those that require Barbara's assistance. I'm also going to re-re-reshoot some images that I've already re-reshot. For example, for the impression analysis chapter, I took one shot looking down the barrel of a .44 revolver to show the lands and grooves of the rifling. I must have shot 50 images to end up with one semi-usable one. I used the on-camera flash and a slave flash, and I never was completely happy with the lighting or depth of focus. This time, I'll clamp the pistol, and use a couple of incandescent lamps, which I can adjust to get the lighting the way I want it. Shooting aperture priority at f/32 or so should get me sufficient depth of field to show a fair amount of the bore in focus.


Saturday, 27 December 2008
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08:52 - Reading the paper this morning, it again struck me that 2009 is likely to be the last year for many newspapers. Our local paper has already cut back the Monday and Tuesday editions to two sections, and it can't be long before they go to a partial-week publishing schedule. Thursday through Sunday seems to be the most common choice for papers that have already done so, but Barbara thinks our paper will go with Wednesday through Sunday to keep the Wednesday supermarket ads. Whichever they choose, I expect it to happen early in 2009, and it won't surprise me if the paper ceases publication entirely later in 2009 or in 2010 at the latest.

Radio gave up any serious local news-gathering efforts years ago, so that leaves us with only the television stations as local news sources, and they're not in much better shape than the newspapers. Local TV stations get most of their revenue from local car dealers, who won't be spending much on advertising in 2009 and the coming years, along with local retailers, who will also cut way back on ad spending. If it hasn't already begun, I expect a race to the bottom to begin soon, with local TV stations cutting ad rates desperately in search of additional revenue sources. There are simply too many local TV stations chasing too few ad dollars.

And that brings up the second source of revenue for local TV stations, which is the payments that the networks make to local stations to run their programs. But the networks are hurting, too, and for the same reasons that the local stations are hurting. National advertisers are cutting back on ad spending, and a larger portion of that smaller pie is going to the Internet every year. Some time soon, possibly in 2009, I expect to see the first domino fall, with one of the big-four TV networks dropping all of its local affiliates and going to 100% cable/satellite distribution. If that happens, the other three will soon follow. They'll have no alternative. And when that happens, the local TV affiliates disappear.

And that leaves us with no local news at all. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, arises from the ashes.


Sunday, 28 December 2008
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09:02 - Dinner out with friends last night.

We got quite a few images shot for the forensics book yesterday, and will probably shoot more today. We may also get a few more kitchen cabinet doors re-installed. The kitchen is starting to look like a kitchen again.


Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.