Thursday, January 25, 2007

Luther on a Holsman

I've been wondering where this old photograph was. I had just about given up hope, thinking that I might have lost it. However, as you can see, I found it!

On the back is written in my father's handwriting,

So I guess that makes LUTHER my... wait a minute... my great-great uncle. The vehicle is a turn-of-the-century Holsman. While looking for the link, I learned that Mr. Holsman invented the reverse gear. Wow. High tech, indeed!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ice in the hills

This is looking northwest from our front yard towards Marble Falls, TX. Note the sleet on the ground and ice-encrusted trees and bushes. Brrr. Has been in the upper twenties for a few days, and we've been having sleet and a bit of snow. We're on a warming trend, now, though. We need the water, no matter in what form it arrives.

For virtually every photo I use, I manipulate in some way with Paint Shop Pro. Starting with the following photo, I increased the color saturation, brightness high-end, and sharpness to end up with the above photo. Took just a few minutes but made quite a difference.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

E.S. Posthumus

Great instrumental music to work by. They do lots of sound tracks for movies and television, and it shows. Basically, orchestral/choral works often with a dominant John Bohnam drum track. A lot of their stuff sounds like Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" but without the singing and guitar work.

Found it at Neatorama. Bring up E.S. Posthumus' site in a browser tab, click on the ||/> icon, and then get to work...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Buying cheap glasses online

This is what $27.85 buys.

I was recently given a practically new recliner, and boy do I appreciate it—it's the most comfortable chair in the house. However, since I wear progressive lenses (I'm near and far sighted), I can't lay back in the chair to watch TV because I'm looking down my nose through the bottom of my lenses, which have a curvature for close vision, such as reading a book, not looking ten feet away at a television. So I mentally filed away a plan to buy some single-vision glasses just for watching TV in my recliner. I then came across a blog entry for buying cheap glasses online and decide to put that plan into action.

There are several sites from which to choose. I looked around and chose Zenni Optical. Since this was an "experiment," and I didn't need anything fancy because I'd be wearing them in the house, I went with the cheapest—just $8.95 for frames and lenses! This includes a scratch-resistant coating, but I also wanted an anti-reflective coating for the light from the TV, which costs an additional $4.95. Upon entering my prescription, the form on their site automatically added $9.00 because my prescription is apparently "extra strength." I don't know why the extra charge. Maybe I need extra-thick lenses to start with. Anyway, add an additional $4.95 for shipping, for a total of $27.85. Here's the breakdown.

$8.95 base price
+4.95 anti-reflective coating
+9.00 extra strength
+4.95 shipping
$27.85 total

I needed help measuring my glasses, but Zenni wasn't particularly helpful. You should Google for other stores that describe exactly what the measurements mean, such as frame width and temple-bar length. Some sites let you upload a head shot and "try on" some of their glasses. Some are better than others. I liked SpecsOnTheNet and may buy from them in the future if I attempt to buy designer frames again.

The receipt they emailed me says, "Although your glass [sic] may take a few weeks to arrive, they are made within 48 hours after you place your order"; however, I received them in just ten days. That's a nice surprise. Zenni shipped them in a bubble-wrap mailer, which is kind of flimsy, but the glasses arrived in great shape. I guess since they don't weigh very much, they don't need much protection.

All of their glasses come with a case and a lens-cleaning cloth. The case is different than ones I've had before because it has a magnetic clasp. It opens and closes easily but makes a slightly loud snapping noise when closing—be careful in church and the library. The hinges on the case are just bendable plastic, so I'm not sure if they'll take a lot of opening and closing.

Here's everything laid out. The frames are "4119 Metal Alloy Half-rim Frame" and come in five colors. I chose blue just for fun.

There were no smudges or scratches on the lenses, although they were just a tad dusty. Easy to fix that.

Bottom line: I like them. A lot. They fit perfectly, and the prescription is spot on. My head is a bit on the wide side, so, when ordering, I made sure that the frames would be wide enough. That's one thing I should mention—if you're going to try this out, spend plenty of time measuring your current glasses so that you get a frame that fits. Since you can't just walk around the eye-glass store and try on a bunch of glasses, you have to know ahead of time whether you are buying frames that fit you. I don't know what Zenni's return policy is, but I doubt whether it is real good. Even if it is, I wouldn't want to go to the trouble of returning the glasses. At this price, I'd probably just donate them to charity and buy another pair.

By contrast, I bought a pair of glasses at LensCrafters last summer with progressive, coated lenses for $660.00, including a $100 discount that eye-glass stores always seem to offer. Admittedly, they were designer frames and had a nice "Scotchgard Protector" coating on the lenses that I had to special order, but contrast and compare—$27.85 versus $660.00. Moreover, LensCrafters messed up my prescription several times causing me to drive quite a distance into town each time (I live out in the country). After the third trip, I asked for my money back. The fellow helping me said that the person who originally helped me pick out the frames made a mistake because those frames were too narrow to hold a progressive prescription. Geez. From now on, I'm going to be buying my glasses online.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bluebonnets in winter

This is what Texas bluebonnets look like in winter. We have lots of them. They're beautiful come spring, but the blooms only last a couple of weeks.

While I was out taking photos of the bluebonnets, I came across several of these strange plants. I'm thinking that it may be some kind of mushroom/fungus thingy. Weird. The seed/flower structure eventually pops off, leaving no discernible plant in the ground. I dunno, though, maybe this is the entire plant. (The black stuff is sealcoat overspray from the driveway.)