Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Year: 2012 (Page 2 of 4)

Family Reunion

I have a large extended family mostly in and around Chicago. It’s where my great grandparents made their home after leaving the part of Romania that formerly belonged to Hungary. My grandfather and his brothers were born in the same house but two different countries. It’s been 15 years or more since I’d seen any of them, though on my father mother’s side, I’d seen some cousins more recently than that.

We had a reunion in a Chicago suburb park and about 125 people showed up. I talked to less than a quarter of them. I did get to catch up with a few cousins my age that I hadn’t seen in a long time. As families grow larger and older and spread out it becomes harder and harder for them to stay in contact. I made very little effort to stay in contact and they made little effort in return. It’s not like we don’t like each other. I think it’s just an out-of-sight out-of-mind thing. One of my sisters does a better job at the contact thing than I do.

If I attend another family reunion, I know there will be fewer of the elders left, the familial glue that keeps us together. There were five brothers and four sisters. Only the sisters remain. Of the first generation they too are getting up there and although we are known for our longevity, we’ll lose a few of the older ones too. Of the third generation of which I am the oldest, I got my picture taken with the youngest. His dad is my age. Although I have no children, my paternal family line is well represented.

One of my cousins about 9 years younger than me and someone I hadn’t seen since the last reunion I attended had a stroke last year that has left her blind and with limited mobility. Her speech was not affected or had recovered because we had a good conversation. She can walk with some difficulty. She’s still remarkably lucid and better shape than a friend’s younger sister who also had a stroke. There was much I didn’t know or remember. She had diabetes but had a pancreas and liver transplant a few years ago. I suspect this made her more at risk. I was also told later she had a blood clot on her optic nerve and due to the meds (blood thinners) she has to take for the transplants, the surgeons are reluctant to operate. I know enough about strokes and neurological conditions to be realistic about her prospects, so I didn’t try to pretend things were going to get better any time soon (if at all). She was an only child I could see the toll it has taken on her aging widowed father (though she has many cousins). The one bright spot is her boyfriend is an excellent caretaker.


Good thing there are no cats on Mars. Curiosity is a nuclear powered rover armed with a laser.

Tonight I watched NASA TV’s broadcast from JPL mission control as they covered the Entry Descent and Landing (EDL) of Mars Curiosity. It landed at 10:17pm MST. We did not know until 14 minutes later whether it landed successfully. Not only did it do so. It sent back a few pictures.

This has been a banner year with all sorts of science events. A partial lunar eclipse, a transit of Venus, and the first private cargo capsule to and from ISS.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

Sony Handycam DCR-HC36

I have a Sony Handycam DCR-HC36 digital video camera that uses tape. I got it when we had our last desktop computer than ran Windows XP. I imported video using their driver software and a USB cable. Fast forward to today I could not install the software on Windows 7, Vista or Mac OS X Lion. Turns out I had to get a FireWire 800 to Sony DV i.link cable (9-pin to 4-pin). I got one for $5 at a local computer/electronics shop. I hooked up the cable between my MacBook Pro and my DCR-HC36, fired up iMovie and voila it worked. I was able to import my videos with iMovie. That’s the short version.

And now for the trials and tribulations of figuring the thing out. I suppose I might have saved myself some trouble had I read the manual (I still haven’t).

I first tried to install the drivers on the Windows 7 laptop. Got an error message saying software was too old. I thought I’d be clever and install it in compatibility mode. It installed but the laptop still wouldn’t recognize the camera via USB. So I did some digging on Sony’s website. The didn’t have newer drivers, but it said it would work with their i.link cable (IEEE 1394). Well, the laptop didn’t have a FireWire port. So, then I tried to install the Mac software on my Macbook Pro. Got an error message that PowerPC software was no longer supported. There weren’t any newer drivers online either.

I did some searching and I found a lot of different answers for Windows and Macs. So I tried to install the drivers on my Vista laptop, but first I had to remove the hard drive that had Linux installed on it and put the old drive with Vista on it back into the laptop. I ran into the same issues that I had with Windows 7. I tried compatibility mode and installed the drivers but still no such luck. I found the same thing I could use a FireWire cable but not a USB cable. And then more web research said I could just hook up a FireWire cable and it would work.

The thing is if you use FireWire you do not need to install any drivers, but there was nothing on Sony’s website on for support. There should be a paragraph stating that since this camera first came out, they no longer have updated drivers for anything later than Vista or Mac OS X Leopard, but you can use a FireWire/i.link cable and don’t need any drivers.

If the cable hadn’t worked, the I was stuck with an obsolete camera, and they only way I could watch videos would be to hook it up directly to the TV or record it on a VCR.




We got back from our second trip to Montana. My wife taught for a week at UM in Missoula. For the weekend we drove up to Glacier National Park and stayed in a cabin at Lake McDonald Lodge. Alas, the Going-to-the-Sun road wasn’t open yet so we only saw a fraction of the park. Of that fraction we saw was immense and gorgeous. The only wildlife we saw were prairie dogs and some birds. We plan to go back.

Missoula, at least downtown Missoula still has it’s old small town charm. Very walkable. Almost, a Something Wicked This Way Comes feel to it (sans Jason Robards). Replete with carousel down by the Clark Fork River. If we were rich, I could see spending parts of summer up there and escape the ever warming Tucson.

I did do one short hike at Avalanche in GNP. Didn’t go all the way to the lake because I’m still recovering from a minor knee injury, but I took some great photos including this one.

Was hoping to say hi to a friend while we were there. Email probably got caught in their spam filter, and didn’t want to pester them in case they were busy.

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