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19 November 2003

My friend Char (who lives and works in San Francisco) and I have been talking about getting together for months. I had hoped to spend more time with her at Tom & Laurel's wedding, but you know how weddings are. We finally decided to get together for lunch today and I was all set to drive down and meet her.

It was going to be good to take a day off from The Reorganization around here.

I charged up my pay-as-you-go cell phone, which I never use, so I could check in with Char as I got closer to her office.

I got all dressed up in my "goin' to the city" clothes.

I stopped at the ATM to get cash for lunch and for the BART ride in from Walnut Creek (parking in downtown SF is difficult at best, ridiculously expensive if you can find it and BART stops 2 blocks from her office). I checked to make sure I had enough gas, and I got on the freeway.

It's a beautiful time to be out driving around. All the trees are about at peak and leaves are starting to fall. All the freeway offramps are ablaze with color and the drive is glorious.

I smiled as I passed The Milk Farm. This was an old hamburger place that I remember from my childhood and from my children's childhood, its sign with the cow jumping over the moon visible from the freeway, inviting people to come and try the food.

The problem is that the restaurant closed years ago, but the good citizens of Dixon voted to keep the sign up as an historic landmark.

I wonder what people who don't know the story wonder when they come off the freeway and see this:

About the time I passed the Milk Farm (or what was left of it), I began to realize that the car was feeling "funny." It was one of those subtle things that you first think about when the familiar car doesn't feel familiar any more. The motor was beginning to "pull" a bit when I was going the speed limit (65 mph).

I hoped it was just the rough road, but no, this was definitely "pulling." And it wasn't getting any better. I probably could have continued on down the road, but I was becoming more uneasy about it, so I pulled off at The Nut Tree.

Well, I pulled off at what used to be The Nut Tree. Like The Milk Farm, the Nut Tree, once a very famous restaurant, with its own airport so that people could fly in from Santa Barbara for lunch and be home in time for dinner, a restaurant famous for its baked goods and its gifts from around the world, also closed several years ago and has been sitting there, an empty memory of better days.

Only now they've torn the building down, so there is no longer even a sign enticing people to get off the freeway to investigate.

I called Char and told her that I didn't really feel comfortable driving the car the rest of the way. She agreed with me and once again we decided to do it "another day."

So instead of going to lunch with a friend, I went to the outlet stores across the highway. Found myself a Christmas shirt that I can cook in without dying because it's so hot, finally got myself a luggage strap for my new suitcase (which looks like everybody else's suitcase, so is more difficult to identify on the conveyor belt now, and...uh...bought a new camera.

Walt wants to know if I'm going to start buying a camera every 4 months (which is how often he perceives that Peggy buys cameras...but it's a slightly longer interval than that. Not much, but slightly longer.

The problem is that my Olympus started having some problems before I left for Australia. I wasn't sure if it was ME or the camera. Sometimes I would take a photo and half the photo would not display.

Through the time in Australia, it sorta kinda behaved all right, though I did lose photos that ended up being cut so that I only got a fraction of the photo.

Peggy and I finally figured out that it was tied to the view screen and if I didn't use the preview screen, I usually did not have a problem. But when I got home and took photos at Tom & Laurel's wedding, I started having the problems without using the preview screen.

I also started having a new problem--it wouldn't read memory cards. I had six memory cards and it first rejected one, then two, and ultimately it wouldn't read any of them, so the camera has essentially become dead for me.

I could be argued that I have the little casio that I bought in Australia, and yes, I do. But that's a nice little point and shoot camera that does good for quick shots, and for taking pictures of my food for My Food Log.

But for serious photography, I really need something more sophisticated.

I've been looking at forums on Digital Photography Review and talking with Peggy and narrowed the choices down to two: The Olympus C750 and the Kodak DX640. Each had its good points and bad points. A third alternative was to wait for the Panasonic FX10, due to be released next month (with a 12X zoom, vs. a 10X on the other two).

I checked several places and had about decided on the Kodak, though I wasn't sure how I felt about the way you have to recharge the batteries.

I went to Costco and talked with someone who seemed somewhat knowledgeable (vs. people I met at some of the places I shopped!). He recommended the Minolta DZ1, which he raved and raved about. It had everything I liked about the other two (except 3 megapixels instead of 4) and didn't have any of the features I disliked on either of them...and what's more it was $100 less...and Costco has a return policy that can't be beat--I can return this camera at any time (even several years from now) and get my money back.

It was essentially a no-risk deal and so I bought it. I haven't had a chance to give it a good shake-down cruise yet, but I took some pictures in an orchard at UC Davis this afternoon and even used the digital zoom (which usually makes photos look close, but horrible). I'm very pleased with the result: the "photo of the day" was taken with my standing at one end of the orchard and the rabbits at the other end. This photo was not cropped (just reduced in size to fit this page).

I am sorry I missed my lunch with Char, but we'll have another chance, and I didn't have to spend the day worrying about whether the car would break down (Char and I have a history of "things" like this happening!)

But I have to admit that I'm rather jazzed about my new camera!

(and I got home in time to scrub walls. Stop me before I clean again!!!)

Today's Photo


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For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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Created 11/18/03