Welcome All!

Columbia Gorge. Hi Everyone! Welcome to my site and blog! Here I’ll be talking about all kinds of things, many based on my own experiences.

Things such as, how I moved from one state to another and what I did to make it more successful, what I’ve gotten from the different jobs I’ve tried, what I’ve learned about selling items at flea markets, and tips about using some of the features on computers, such as Windows Live Photo Gallery, and other things as well.

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Thanks for reading!🙂

More to Google than just Gmail and Googling

With my use of Google Chrome and now my having a smart phone, I’ve learned that there’s more to Google than just Gmail and Googling people and things.

Google has a lot of different applications, or “apps”, as you often hear.

In addition to Gmail, these include Google maps, play music, play movies, play books, play games, play newsstand, Google plus, hangouts, docs, YouTube, Google drive, and calendar.

These often come as a package on Android phones as does the Google Play Store, where these and a great many other apps can be found, many of which are completely free to download and use!

And, you don’t need an Android smart phone to access the Google apps or the play store.

The Chrome Web browser can be installed for free onto any computer. And of course, you can access all the Google apps from here, though you can set the Google search bar page as a home page or bookmark or favorite using any browser.

I haven’t explored all the apps but I am exploring more all the time.

For instance, I’m using Google Docs to write this post. It’s the first time I’m using Google Docs to write a post. In addition, I’m writing this on my phone!

Google Drive saves documents and other things to the “cloud”, that is, on the web in your own section,so you can access them from any computer using your Google account.

Google plus and Google Hangouts let you connect with other Google users.

Google Play music gets you access to music from your favorite artists and music genres, and you can create your own playlists, though I still need to figure out some things about that. I do find that it won’t play music stored on my phone’s SD card, only music on the phone’s internal memory. If any of you know how to get Google Play music to recognize the music on my SD card, please let me know.

Google maps is great, especially when your Garmin or tom-tom fails, as I’ve mentioned in my earlier post, Garmin or Google-Which is Best? , comparing Google maps to Garmin.

Google maps also will guide you using real-time traffic, can show your movement, and the street view ability combined with the ability to virtually “walk around” a location, really helps you to recognize the physical location when you get close to it!

Then you have You Tube. It is part of the Google family, and you can see all kinds of things on it, from old movies to people’s travel videos, to car and house tours and reviews, to videos that show you how to do all kinds of things from how to tie knots to driving a stick shift car to basket weaving!

Finally, there’s the Google Play store, which not only gets you access to Google apps, but many others as well, and many are free to download and use! So far, I’ve never had the need for an app that wasn’t free! And I have lots of them. As they say, “There’s an app for that.”

Now, where your phone is concerned, you do need a data plan and you need to see how much data an app draws, as some, like You Tube, will use more data. Most apps don’t use a lot, but it’s good to know. To give you an idea, I get 3 gigabytes of data monthly with my plan and use between 1.5 and 2 GB per month.

I’ve seen how useful both the Google apps and other apps can be, and it seems Google is the best place to start checking them out.

So, get Googling and have some fun!

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And thanks for reading!😀

A Kindness out of the Blue

Sometimes, if you pay attention, you may see an act of kindness, just out of the blue. I was witness to such an act and, while I couldn’t help, I was able to compliment the one who did.

Yesterday, I was running an errand and found myself stuck in traffic on a busy street. As I was waiting for the cars to move, I spotted a homeless man across the street. He had a red shopping cart with his items inside. As I slowly crept along with the other cars, I noticed the man was attempting to cross a smaller street. He had started down one of those ramps built into the sidewalk corner to assist the handicapped. There was some kind of grill at the bottom and the wheels of the man’s shopping cart got caught in them and the cart tipped over.

He tried to right the cart but was having a lot of trouble and, seeing this, I wanted to help him but couldn’t.

That was when I saw a young woman walking towards him. She may not even have noticed him at first as I could see she just happened to be walking in his direction. Well, instead of just walking by him, she stopped and took off the pack she was wearing, and helped him right the cart and put his things back into it. She never hesitated once, not even to handle his cart to right it and not even to grab his items and put them back into the cart. It was spontaneous and there was no “gingerly” motions on her part. There was none of that, “Ewww, I don’t really want to handle this homeless man’s cart because of …” showing on her face or in her actions to help, the way there would have been in so many of us. She just grabbed the handle of the cart and helped to right it without hesitation. Once she was done, I saw the man thank her heartily and they both went on their ways.

Well, I was touched by this and really wanted to compliment her on what she did. I saw that she was walking in the same direction as the traffic I was in, and, due to a change in the configuration of the street to a one way section, I was now on the same side of the street as she was with the sidewalk on my driver’s side. As traffic was slowing, I lowered my window and told her it was nice of her to do what she’d done. She smiled when I said this so I know she knew what I was talking about.

It was an unhesitating act of kindness and it impressed me, as it should all of us.

Be kind!

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Remake after Remake after Remake after…How Far Will They Go?

Just this month, the movie, “Ben Hur”, came out. I’m sure it’s a great movie, but, I have to ask, why do they keep making remakes of movies whose original or last version was great in it’s own right? It seems more and more remakes are coming out. There was even a plan for a remake of “Gone With the Wind”, often touted as the greatest picture ever made.

Is it because they want to make a greater version? Well, in my opinion, I think it depends.

With Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, the original, made in 1938, was OK for the time but was soon found to be lacking, and, if you see both the 1938 and 1951 versions, you’ll see the difference. So, in that case, I do agree a remake was in order, and the 1951 remake, with Alistair Sims playing Scrooge, it certainly filled the bill. But, they should have stopped right there. But no, a remake was made again over 30 years later and, while it was seen as being good in it’s own right, the 1951 version, in my opinion, has a certain essence to it that I believe can never be matched. Same with “Gone With the Wind”. So while a movie might need a do over, I do think that there’s a point where it’s done exactly right and literally takes on a character that cannot be duplicated with further remakes. It’s reached it’s peak, in a way.

I imagine, when plans for a remake are floated, some producers and directors do bring this up. So, why do a remake? Well, oftentimes technological advances allow for scenes to be shot in ways that look more realistic or believable, or, depending on the mood of audiences at the time, they may want to add things, such as more grittiness, graphic scenes, historical accuracy, or aspects of a character’s life that weren’t shown in a previous version. And I do find this understandable to an extent, particularly where an expansion of a character’s life experiences are concerned, or technological advances in filming are made. Technical advances certainly helped the 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” stand head and shoulders over the 1938 version.

Then sometimes, it’s probably that a new generation of movie makers really likes a particular movie and story, but they want to tweak it in their own way, and since they can’t go back in time to tweak the original as it was being made, they have to make a new version.

As for myself, there have been some remakes I’ve seen, such as “True Grit”, which I found to be about as good as the original. But for the most part, I tend to not really go for remakes without a compelling reason. I tend to want to see new stories, and it just seems at times that they are few and far between. But then there will be a number of movies with new stories that come out within a short time frame and I’ll resume going to the movies. To each his own, I guess.

Happy movie watching!

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And thanks for reading!

Portland and L.A. – What’s Different: Summer

Well, it’s summer now, and so I thought it would be interesting to look at how summer is different between L.A. and Portland. While there may be the fewer differences between summer in L.A. and in Portland than in other seasons in each city, there still are differences.

For those of you who live outside the West Coast, there is a general dry season on the West Coast during summer and residents can count on less rain at this time than in other seasons, but the similarity ends there. The main differences is in the duration and amount of rain in each given month of the dry season and it’s effects.

In L.A., the rain generally shuts off for June through mid October, and sometimes shuts off as early as March and sometimes doesn’t start again till late December! In those rare instances when rain falls here in July, August, or September, it is usually from a straying of part of a monsoonal system coming from further east or a broken up hurricane from Mexico.

Also, the grass can turn golden brown as early as late March and last through the start of November, hence the term, “The Golden State”.

Hollywood Sign at 20x zoom. 6/24/2012

Hollywood Sign at 20x zoom. 6/24/2012

In Portland, the rain doesn’t really shut off but does lessen significantly from mid June through mid September, and you can see a decent rainstorm even in July, the driest month. And the grass usually doesn’t start turning gold until July, and, if it’s a rainy summer or one where the lesser amount of rain is fairly evenly distributed, the grass won’t turn as brown or gold. However, if there’s what would be considered a drought for the area, the grass will turn gold for the summer, though it still won’t be as prominent as in California due to the extensive tree cover, which keeps the area looking far more green than L.A., even in drier years.

But, in exposed areas, the golden grass will show if you look for it. This was the case in the summer of 2015.

Views from Marina Drive at west end of PDX Airport. 9/3/2012

Views from Marina Drive at west end of PDX Airport. 9/3/2012

In terms of temperature, L.A. is definitely warmer than Portland, and, the topography can mean large differences in temperature between locations just a few miles apart. West Hollywood and Encino, in the San Fernando Valley, are just separated by about 4 or 5 miles. Yet, in the summer, it can be 80 degrees in West Hollywood and 95 degrees in Encino on the same day! And Santa Monica on the ocean about 8 miles away, may be at 70 degrees at the same time! Then, there are the area’s infamous Santa Ana winds, which can come at almost any time of year, but when they come in September, they often bring the area’s hottest temperatures, well over 100 degrees, and can last over a week!

In Portland, temperatures tend to be cooler overall and, while one can see triple digit temps here, there are fewer instances and heat waves are of shorter duration than those in L.A. Oftentimes, the major heat waves in the Portland area are caused by the area’s East Wind, which can also occur at any time of year, but only in summer does it act like a Santa Ana and bring excessive heat.

Also, there is less difference in temperatures around the Portland area and it’s suburbs. Hillsboro, in the western part of the Portland area, tends to be the warmest, but it is not much hotter in summer than the downtown area or the other suburbs and it is usually rare for a difference or more than 8 degrees.

Finally, there’s the length of daylight, especially in June. There’s not a real large difference in the time of sunrise, but, in the evening, there’s a large difference in the time of sunset. In L.A., it gets dark by about 8:30pm, while in Portland, there’s still plenty of light at 9:30pm and you can still see a little light in the sky at 10pm!

So, here you have summer in L.A. and Portland. Wherever you are, in Portland, L.A., or anywhere else, do enjoy your summer!

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And thanks for reading!  :)

Garmin or Google – Which is Best?

One feature I really like on my smart phone is the Google navigation feature. Is it better than my Garmin gps?

Well, having a job where I deliver items all over town, often at places I’ve never been before or rarely go to, a gps or navigation system is a real help to me. And, most of the time, my Garmin fills the bill.

But, and I don’t know why Garmin would not have corrected this years ago, the garmin gps sometimes won’t recognize some streets. Now, I’m not talking about remote back roads or streets that have been laid down only a week or two before hand. I’m talking sections of major streets that have been there since probably the late 1800’s! In Portland, one street my Garmin won’t recognize is a section of McLaughlin Blvd. This would be the equivalent of not recognizing a section of Olympic Blvd or Wilshire in Los Angeles or a section of Broadway or 42nd Street in New York City. It could be that it requires me to enter the street or address differently because the section may be in county territory rather than in any city proper, but this is pure speculation on my part. It would be nice in that case if the Garmin asked me if I meant a different name or designation for that section of street or road. This is my biggest pet peeve with my Garmin unit.

Also, unless you get a unit with live traffic updates, the Garmin unit gives you the arrival time assuming there is no traffic or other obstacles, such as construction going on. So, if you get stuck in traffic, the arrival time extends per the time spent going slower than normal.

Google, on the other hand, so far has recognized every street I’ve entered, along with the address, with rare exception. In addition, I can even say the name of the place or company I’m going to and it will pick up the directions and location and get me there.

And that’s another Google advantage. I can say where I want to go, whereas, with Garmin, I can only enter the address I want to go to.

Google also gives more precise directions, even telling me which left turn lane to use when there are two of them, to make things easier. And, because it looks at live conditions, it will give me a more accurate time of arrival and will route me along the fastest route under current, real time traffic conditions! It will even reroute me if needed!

Is Google perfect? Well, no. First of all, it uses my phone’s battery and data, but I usually have enough to use Google as my backup when my Garmin can’t tell me how to get somewhere. But, because it’s not good to use a car charger for a phone, unless it’s an emergency, I do have to watch the usage.

Also, the phone has no holder like the Garmin does, so it is more difficult finding a place where I can put the phone where I can see the map display.

Also, there are a few times when Google will insist you are entering a different address or street direction. A few days ago, I gave an address on “Southeast 82nd” and it kept changing the address to “Northeast 82nd”. Fortunately, Google rarely does this, but it’s every bit as annoying as when Garmin won’t recognize a major street.

I’d love to ask the experts from both companies why their navigation systems fail this way at times.

Nevertheless, they both come in very handy and, I think if Google made a stand alone gps like Garmin, it would compete very well.

So, which is better? Well, I think Google is better at navigating, but the Garmin, being a stand alone gps, is easier to physically use and see as a navigation tool..

And I do get my use out of both of them!

Happy travels!

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Portland and L.A – What’s Different: The Rain

I was wondering about selling items this Saturday at a nearby outside flea market, but there is a chance of rain forecast and that means you cannot really tell if it will rain or not, at least here in the Portland, Oregon area.

About 12 years ago, as of this writing, I made the move from the Los Angeles are to the Portland area, mostly for the cooler weather, as well as for other reasons. I knew Portland was different from L.A., but, during these last 12 years here, I’ve come to actually experience the differences, and similarities, in detail.

Climate here is certainly different, though there are similarities here, too, the main one being that, like L.A., Portland is wetter during the winter than during the summer. And rain is different up here for sure. Portland, and the Pacific Northwest, is known for rain. I like it when it rains, and occasionally snows, so this is the ideal place for me.

Does it always rain every single day all day as many people think?

No, it doesn’t. And it doesn’t necessarily rain a lot, just often.

The rainy season, while peaking in the winter months as it does in L.A., lasts much longer up here, sometimes running from September through June whereas in L.A., it usually doesn’t start in earnest until at least the second half of October, and often falls off by the end of March.

Another difference is that during the drier part of the year in Portland, you will have a lot of sunny warm days and you will see rain at times, even during July and August, though not nearly as often as during the other months of the year. In L.A., July and August (as well as May, June, September, oftentimes October, and sometimes even November!) are bone dry, with the occasional monsoonal sprinkles in some years.

But, it’s not only the length of the rainy season that’s different, it’s the rain itself.

Rain up here can range from drizzle to downpours to passing showers of varying intensity to days long steady rain. And it can vary even by the hour! I’ve seen clear mornings give way to rainy afternoons.

Now, in L.A., most often, once the sun comes out, the rain is over and you can put your rain hat away for the day. Not so up here in Portland or the Pacific Northwest. The sun may come out and it may look as if the storm will clear, then the clouds will either build up again and drop more rain or a new group of clouds will blow in and the rain begins again. I’ve experienced this many times when distributing fliers door to door, which is why I pay close attention to the weather forecasts, and, if there’s a chance of rain for that day, I make sure to bring my rain hat!

Then, the rain can “fall” in different ways! And it literally has different “personalities”!

I’ve seen stretches of steady moderate rain, but also drizzle. One drizzle was like a fine misty spray, strong, but the drops still very small and light at the same time.

Then, most often in fall and spring, there will be bands of clouds with sun breaks in between. The bands of clouds are sometimes really well-defined and will come over you with drenching downpours! And, if you are on a hill with a view in the right direction, you can literally see the rain and the bands of clouds dropping the rain, “marching” in procession! I’ve seen this, too.

Then, though still rare compared to the Midwest, the Portland area does see more thunderstorms than the L.A. area and thunderstorms can come at any time of year, though they’re more prevalent in late spring and summer, and often are accompanied by small hail.

And, if you like big spectacular clouds, you’ll see them more up here, too.

In the winter months, if it is nearly cold enough to snow, but not quite, the rain can come with a snow or hail mix and, when the rain hits your windshield, you may see ice in it, what some up here call “chunky rain”. Then, though rare, we also see what is called “sleet”, or freezing rain, which of course coats everything in ice. One winter, we had sleet that coated all the plants and when the wind blew, the leaves and longer grasses would bump each other and make a clinking sound, like wind chimes, something never seen or heard in the L.A. area.

So, to sum it up, it rains a lot up here, but not every day or always all day long, and the rain does have it’s different “personalities” up here. And I enjoy them all!

Enjoy the rain and keep dry, too!

And thanks for reading!  :)

Take That Vacation!

You may have noticed no posts in May until now. Reason? I was preparing for and taking my vacation. I had a great time and I’m glad I took the time off.

And I advise you to do the same. So many of us put it off and in fact, most people don’t take all of their vacation days each year. That’s time that can never be gotten back. Time that could have been used to recharge, get in touch with family or friends that you haven’t seen in a while, to see something or somewhere new, or to rediscover your own world you live in every day but don’t really see.

Why is this? Many people think they don’t have time or there’s too much work to do, others couldn’t get along without them, etc.

But, in reality, there is always too much work to do, and there will be after you leave, others can get along without you for a short time, and, if you really want to, you can make time.

Really. Put aside your biases and worries and think about it and you’ll see this is doable.

I’ve written other posts regarding some aspects of this, including the example of the man who kept putting off visiting a relative he really liked, because of his job and the idea that there was too much work to do. That favorite relative died and the man regrets not making the time.

And no one on their deathbed has ever said that they regretted not putting in more time at the office.

Also, vacations, even small ones, have a recharging effect, which can make you more effective as a worker and as a person as it helps avoid burnout.

So, go ahead and take that vacation!

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And thanks for reading!  :)