Laugh like a child – a taste of pure joy!

photo108I don’t laugh – laugh like a child – very often these days, but yesterday my early Christmas present to myself arrived – a 24-inch IMac – and a few hours later our grandchildren were here helping us decorate the tree. That was great family fun, as usual, but what happened next had no scripting, no planning – just spontaneous reaction, and oh my – I really enjoyed it.

Maybe you will too. A brief explanation before the slide show. The kids discovered the Imac, I turned on the “Photo Booth” software ona whim – unused until that point – and they just started going wild. I started snapping photos and videos and it was non-stop fun for nearly an hour, with the dogs and an occasional adult getting involved as well – all taking advantage of the built-in – and weirdly cool – filters. It was like tumbling into one of those old-time, carnival fun houses!

Hmmm. . . right now WordPress isn’t letting me embed the Flickr slide show. So for the complete show, go here I am able to make avideo of it, though, so . . .

Hey, maybe no one cares – maybe this was only fun if you were there – maybe you’ll be bored to death after yu see the first picture nelow. That’s OK – just turn it off – I just hope everyone manages to have such fun once in a while and, of course, you don’t need a new toy to do so – but for me it was just such an unexpected Christmas bonus! See for yourself.

I should add here that I’m hard of hearing – I was wearing headphones with a little amplifier so I could follow the conversation – and this hearing problem has frequently made it difficult for me to relate well to children – I simply seldom can understand what they say, even when wearing sphisticated, very expensive, hearing aids. (See my earlier rant here.) So the experience was priceless – and I feel like I’ve done my part to help the slumping economy as well 😉

Interested in details of how this is done? OK. I don’t have a clue how unique this is or isn’t to the Mac. And it may all be old stuff to other folks. But I didn’t even know the capability was there in this Mac – I bought it because in my retirement I still design some Web sites and stuff and it has been more than six years since I had a new machine.

I knew “Photo Booth,” which came with it, allowed you to see yourself on the screen. I didn’t know anything about how it worked and I didn’t have to – it was all so typically Mac intuitive. The kids just hammed it up and I just kept clicking on things. I took six videos, each of which went a minute or two. Picture quality and sound was great. Where’s the camera? Not at all obvious – hidden near the top of the screen, I think, where there’s a tiny green light that comes on during these sessions.

Remember those old photo booth at the amusement park? Put in 50 cents – was was it 25 cents? – and you got four pictures of yourself – or maybe of yourself and a friend hamming it up! Well . . .

I think the main goal here is for use with video chat – I got to give that a try – and to do things such as create iconic photos for social networking sites. The fact that when you stand in front of the computer your image appears on the screen made it instant fun for the kids. When I then started clicking on various backgrounds that could be added to it – clouds, Paris, the Moon – they started gobbling up the clouds and trying to eat the Eiffel Tower! I found I could throw in photos of my own from Iphoto, so I put in one of the puppies playingin the snow. That lead to the real puppies joining us and in the mean time we had discovered all the “fun house” mirror filters that were included and that just lead to more craziness. “Try mirror image!’ Try “squeeze – no try swirl!”

To take a picture you just click and it gives a 4-second countdown and makes a sound like a camera. The photos you take can be ported right over to Iphoto library and from there to email or whatever. I picked out some of the better, exported them to a folder and sent them all up to Flickr where it was simple to create this slideshow. You can then email a link to it – or grab the code (copy) and paste it into a blog like this one.

Honest folks – people put down technology sometimes – especially people of my generation – but there is some genuine usefulness showing up here – usefulness for grandparents especially and well beyond what I discovered in this one instance. Take a look at this NYT article, for instance. Makes a whole lot of sense to me. And yes, all of this is genuinely simple. You don’t need to be a techy. I’m a writer with not a spec of formal computer training. People say we spend too much time in front of the computer. I say we don’t spend enough time – time like this, anyways 😉

And happy holidays to all!



This is too good! Robin Williams on politicians ;-)

Don F. sent this to me with the brief notation:

Robin Williams, always good

Wow! You got that right, Don. (Interesting though. I found the beginning Obama material so-so. Is it just me? Or are even the best comedians going to struggle for the next four – let’s hope 8 – years? They must really be hoping Sarah Palin stays in the spotlight!)

Blog this, grandma!

OK – first for all you “old folks” who think blogging is for some younger generation – please, please read this blog and note that it is written by one Helen Philpot who is 82 years old and lives in Texas – yeah a red state and yes, she’s older than me and yes her grandson taught her how to blog.

She is, quite simply, one of the brightest, funniest, political bloggers I have ever read. No kidding. I say that, only having read this one piece, but it had me laughing out loud. So here we go again on Sarah Palin, plus all the idiots out there who are still displaying their ignorance and hate.

Check it out here.

Oh – and when you’re finished, read some of the comments – and read her “about” which is linked in the photo at the top and some of her other posts. And what a great photo. Anyway – treat yourself, ASAP – this grandma knows how to tell it as it is 😉

Gin – one very talented dog and owner

Dom sent me a link to this saying it helped take his mind off the news – I agree.

There are other videos of the same dog doing some other routines. Amazing. But what I love about this is that they took the dance routine and made it into a show inthe same way the magician takes a bag f tricks and adds a plot to give the tricks context. Here the “Little Tramp” character is nicely done.

Fone frustration – shades of Kramer . . .

I love this. The guy who wrote it writes for TV. Wonder if he wrote that old Seinfeld routine where Kramer gets all tangled up with a phone menu system.

PLEASE listen carefully as this menu has changed.

For English press or say “One.” Para español oprima o diga “Dos.” For all other languages press or say “Three.”

I hasten to add that such systems generally drive me crazy, but the one at my local drug store for refilling prescriptions is actually very useful.

The rest is here – and great fun for the fone frustrated.

Whoops, there goes Christmas!

There’s a part of me – the old, dried up Yankee part – that wants to snarl a little and say, yeah, so what? I know that’s cruel. But when I see the size of new houses today and I see the multitude of yard sales that spring up in good weather like so many manic mushrooms, well I just get the feeling we got too much stuff and a little belt-tightening can cause the kind of hurt that’s good. So it was in that spirit I received and reacted to this email from Dom who lives in Sydney:

Today’s news:

THE big end of town has cancelled Christmas.
Financial firms plagued by falling share prices and global uncertainty have been ordered by their American and British headquarters to pare back or scrap their annual Christmas parties.

And it’s not just about cutting costs. Companies whose shareholders are reeling about their losses don’t want to be seen to be splurging, especially when major job cuts are also looming.

Financial services firm Morgan Stanley has cancelled its Sydney bash but will donate the party’s budget to charity instead. “It was a global policy, a global approach,” a spokesman

Yep -we’re global all right – with Christmas and with crisis.

Oh I like this ;-)

From my friend Dom in Australia:


Computer technicians often write code in their call reports. Here’s one:

PEBCAK means “problems exists between chair and keyboard.”