03 May 2014

Whole Lotta Water Movin' On!

The James River is raging! Over flood stage (but not by much). Still the river is "closed" unless you have a permit, and a WHOLE LOT OF WATER IS MOVING DOWN IT!!!
I've been wanting to take a picture like this for a while. But this isn't how I wanted to get it. The view you see is the Bosher Dam. The dam is upstream of the falls of the James. Normally, you can see a drop of about 12 feet, and "it is what paddlers ruefully call a 'drowning machine.'" Now, about 3 feet of drop is visible.

Here is what the National Weather Service's graphs show:
That's a lot of water, folks! And if you want to see how much, click here, and look for the "##.#kcfs" part, that's HOW MANY THOUSANDS OF CUBIC FEET OF WATER ARE MOVING ALONG numbers!

I took this picture from the Willey (pronounced "willie") Bridge. This a mile-long, four lane, divided bridge (Rt. 150) over the James River, connecting south Richmond to western Henrico County.
I drove out onto the bridge with the intent of stopping in the emergency lane, hopping out (wearing hi-viz, see below), take a few pictures, and depart, hopefully before a cop showed up, or someone ran into me. I chickened out. It was rush hour, so I pulled over, and with a preset camera, shot the picture through the passenger side window, and beat feet outta there!

Then I went down closer to Pony Pasture and saw this, so I stopped to take more pics!

The dog didn't fair much better, but at least he had a leash to pull him in!
Then I went on down to Pony Pasture so you could have a SELFIE! HAHAHA

01 May 2014

It Was the Best of Times...

...it was the worst of times.

12:30PM, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. PAYDAY!!! I decide to use my lunch hour to explore upgrading my poor old mobile phone to a newer model. Believe me, it had reached its TERRIBLE TWOS! I've already done a bunch of research online, and have narrowed the choices to a Samsung Galaxy S5 or an HTC One. Off to the closest Verizon store (only 7.6 miles away according to their website). I arrive and am greeted by a gentleman carrying what looks like a fortified iPad. He asks my phone number, pulls up my info, and informs me I will be helped by the next available representative. There's a lot of aimlessly wandering people in this store. I wonder how long this will take. It takes almost 20 minutes. Sheesh. But a nice sales person asks my phone number, then insists on seeing identification. I guess you can't talk to a Verizon sales clerk unless you are positively ID'ed. We discuss the features of the phones, and finally get down to the nitty-gritty. How much to walk out the door with a new phone? $200 for the phone. I get that. But somehow we wind up at $360, including a $30 "Upgrade Fee". Excuse me? You want me to pay $30 for the privilege of paying you more money?! I think not. The sales clerk says she'll ask the manager if they can waive it, especially if I buy a case/charger/screen protector bundle for $69.95. I was going to buy a case anyway. But no, sorry, it's the end of the month, our budget won't let us waive the fee. OK, bye. Amazing that they let me walk out the door over $30, which to them is fricking PEANUTS! I left on principle.

5:08PM, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Verizon store near my house. Same greeting and I'm told it will be a 25 minute wait! EXCUSE ME?!?!?! You have so few sales people that I have to wait TWENTY FIVE MINUTES? Where's the manager? Right here! But she can't do anything sales-wise, she just manages. What a useless position. As well as the doorman. How about cutting the wait times and make the doorman with the armor-plated iPad earn his living?

5:28PM, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. A sales person ID's me, and we get down to business. I decide on the Samsung, it just feels better than the HTC. Now the brass tacks: How much to walk out the door? By the time we're done, it's $48. I'll pay for the phone over 2 years, and while that negates the $50 rebate, for some odd reason, Verizon knocks $10/month off the payment for the phone so it's only a bit more than buying it outright, and I can upgrade again in a year (instead of two) if I so desire. We have to wrangle the data and access plan, but my bill, phone included, will only go up about $4/month. The $48 is for a case, and a special "tempered glass" screen protector. I generally don't like those things, they typically screw up the touchability of the screen, but he insisted that this new "tempered glass" works exceptionally well. OK. It's only $18. We futz around for a while getting the phone activated and start the downloads of the apps I already own. After an hour and fifteen minutes, I head home, happy with the purchase. Of course, now I'm on a limited data plan (1GB/month, my average over the last 2 years is about 500MB/month, give or take a bit), and I get a message that over 50% of it has already been used! In the 15 minutes it took the salesman to get the phone activated and connected to the store's Wi-Fi, it has automatically downloaded over 270MB of apps and data from the cloud backup! (The plan is pro-rated and we're almost halfway through a billing cycle.)

6:45PM, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Nothing like an evening spent setting up apps, logging into accounts, and getting everything arranged on a new phone. I like the feel of it. When I'm convinced I have everything off the old phone, I move its SD card to the new phone for extra storage. Now it's time to put some security on this thing. The Samsung has a fingerprint reader. The reviews said "meh", but I thought I'd try it. You swipe the spot on the screen a few times, it tells you "OK", and you enter an alternative password, so I pick a doozey. I won't need it, right? The fingerprint scanner lets me in after no more than 2 or 3 swipes - it takes some getting used to, I guess. Then it's time to bundle this thing up in its brand new Otterbox case, with special Tempered Glass screen protector. Now to play some more. Except...the fingerprint reader will simply not accept my fingerprint. It doesn't see me swiping at all! I should have known better than to buy the damn thing, but the salesman assured me that this Tempered Glass worked! I use the alternative password. Takes about 4 tries to get it in, even though I see the proper characters being typed into the box. Finally I am in, and decide to hell with the fingerprint scanner, so I turn it off, and choose "Password" as my screen security. I don't put in a tough one, c'mon, it's a phone, not Fort Knox, right? But it takes about 6 tries to get the passwords to type in twice the same way (we're talking 6 characters here, it's not rocket science). But this Tempered Glass protector is just screwing me up. I get the password in twice the same, and I'm good to go.

10:45PM, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. The damned thing will NOT unlock. The password simply will not work. I take the Tempered Glass screen protector off it, but no dice. Whatever I saw and thought I typed in as a password (6 characters, remember?) is not being accepted. And to make it worse, it's counting down to "Factory Reset of phone"!!! WTF?!?!?! "4 more tries before..."..."3 more tries before...", yeah, you get the picture. I had no choice. Wiped the damn thing clean. EVERYTHING. All apps, all data, the SD card.

11:00PM, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Bed time. I can't sleep. Too pissed off. Too keyed up.

8:00AM, Thursday, May 1, 2014. At work. Sitting in the data center with the AC repair tech. Time to play with the phone. Again. I reactivate it, and before I can get the damn thing attached to work Wi-Fi, it's downloaded a bunch of stuff again! By the time I get an email program configured, I've now used 75% of the monthly allotment and it resets on May 17!!! Now I'm really unhappy, and decide to do something about it.

5:00PM, 1 May 2014. Back at the Verizon store, and unfortunately more than a little worked up because the manager is assuring me that they can't do anything about the lost data. Refund me for the Tempered Glass? Sure. Add data or give me credit since I'm sure as hell not leaving until you do. She hands me off to a guy who within 5 minutes has refunded my money, added a $15 credit to my account to cover any data overages between now and the 17th. I also got $11 for trading in the old phone.

6:00PM, 1 May 2014. Home. Stopped by the Food Lion and got my contribution to tomorrow's cookout at a friend's house - bell peppers and an onion. Came home and sliced it all up, added 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, some adobo spice and olive oil. We'll grill them tomorrow with the steaks and potatoes. With the Maker's Mark!

Oh, I turned off the "Wipe the phone" feature!!!