Hello, fine readers! I know of DIY Insanity readers all over the SF Bay Area (hi Pete, Jim, Melissa, John, et al), Michigan (hi Paula, Dave, Jimmy, Tim), Florida (hi Mom and Dad), Indiana (hi Liz and Paul) and Germany (hi Kirsten, when you finally make it onto the computer). Drop a line if you're reading this from someplace I didn't list. Or even someplace I did.
Sorry for the lack of updates. This past week has been a blur. Largely a rain-soaked, exhausted blur. I've done some work on the house, but given the rain, it's all been electrical work indoors. I know with some creativity I could take some interesting pictures of the work, but for the most part, electrical doesn't make for very intriguing photos.
I can't complain too much about the weather. Despite the frequent rains here, so far there's been pretty minimal damage. Which can't be said for the areas in Europe that are flooded, the areas in Arkansas that got flattened by tornadoes, or the people in Mississippi, Louisiana and elsewhere that got flooded and flattened by hurricanes and still haven't been able to rebuild.
Oh, right...technology. Thursday I got a panicked email from my friend that runs Oakland Firefighters Random Acts, a local non-profit I do tech support and graphics for. Saturday was their big fund-raiser, a dinner/dance/auction/awards ceremony. Not only was the firefighter (now arson investigator) who normally creates the slide shows to go with the awards part not able to create them this year, she wasn't going to be able to run the video projector during the ceremony, either. I'd already volunteered to take pictures again so I planned to be there, but this was more important. They'd find someone else to take pictures.
It was also a lot more work and not much time to do it in. Cindy and I worked much of the day and into the night Thursday selecting photos and creating slides. After a brief break on Friday for lunch and a tour at the Scharffen Berger Chocolate factory in Berkeley with Katarina to celebrate my birthday, I was back at it. It was pretty draining -- not just the staying up late part, but part of what I was doing was creating slide shows to go along with talks by members of the Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR4) that went to Mississipi and the OFD Swift Water Rescue team that went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit. I lost track of how many pictures of the devastation and misery I looked at -- ugh. I can only imagine what it was like to experience first-hand (USAR4 also worked at Ground Zero for the WTC).
But Random Acts is about helping people and creating positive memories for firefighters. Since we didn't want the slide shows to be total downers, much of what we showed was of the team members, or the team members rescuing people. But there were an awful lot of other pictures to sort through.
Certainly other parts of the show were more positive: a group of firefighters that rented a truck and filled it with water, food, a generator and other needed items and drove it day and night to get to the devastated town in Mississippi where a cousin of one the firefighters lived. All the people and companies who worked together to restore the Van Pelt open-air fire engine to be used for Random Acts like bringing Santa to see children who are in the hospital. The Citizen Hero of the year, a woman who's been working with Special Olympics for 30 years. New Random Acts programs starting up in Oregon and Florida. All the different Random Acts that Oakland Firefighters have made happen in the last year.
But it almost happened that all of that happened without pictures. Friday I got a borrowed laptop to use for the show, and Saturday morning pictures of from past Special Olympics to create a show for the Citizen Hero award. But the laptop seemed kind of sluggish, and got more so as I worked on things backstage while setup for the rest of the program was going on. It eventually reached the point where I wasn't sure if it would run for the show, so I got another laptop loaned by a firefighter. It ran a lot more quickly, and I was able to get it to configure itself and recognize the projector as a second video screen. That makes running Powerpoint a lot easier, as you can do more than go forward and backward in a show. But then the laptop started crashing (ah, the joys of Windows 98). I tried a 3rd laptop loaned by yet another firefighter. I went home and got a blank CD-R and a blank floppy (amazingly, both the 2nd and 3rd laptops have floppy drives), but the CD writer on the 2nd one wouldn't work, nor would the floppy drive on the 3rd one. In any event, I couldn't get the 3rd laptop to recognize the video projector. I switched back to the second laptop, but it took me the better part of an hour to get it recognize the video projector at all, never mind as a second screen. I almost switched to a 4th laptop (thanks, Brian), but I realized I had no way of getting my changes from the second laptop to it. And more significantly, I was out of time -- the show was about to start.
The show did go on, minus the Special Olympics pictures. Everything else made it as far as I know, though I ended up having to switch laptops mid-stream to be able to show pictures of past Citizen Heros. Fortunately there was a DVD playing right before it, so the change over was pretty seamless. But by the end of the night, I was ready to fling all the laptops off a building somewhere. Sometimes I hate technology.