After 20 years at the University of Oregon, I have retired. So, I will begin posting about my new experiences here and hope you find them interesting.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Holiday Tribute to my Dad

About a month ago, I was asked by an editor to see if I could find a slide from 1978 that I took of helicopter logging in the Cascade Mountains. While I was looking for that slide I stumbled across a slide of my late father calling a square dance in the living room of their home.

Dad always enjoyed calling square dances and over the holidays we would push all the furniture back after dinner and he would give us a dance lesson. Dad loved music and even after he had to give up square dancing he would play his keyboard for hours. We lost him three years ago after a long battle with Parkinson's disease and miss him a lot especially this time of year. So, I decided to try to give my family the gift of seeing him call one more time.

All I had was a still image but I knew I could animate his face and synchronize his mouth to an audio file of a square dance call using a product called CrazyTalk. I didn't have an audio file of his voice either so I used a product called MorphVOXPro to morph my own voice into something more male sounding. I must have recorded that audio track 20 times but I still couldn't make it sound right. It's hard to carry a tune when your voice is being morphed in real time! (I hope you'll forgive me for that Dad.)

I found a music loop of Jingle Bells on the web up at Soundsnap.com and was allowed to use up to five music loops per month as a member with a free account. So I joined this free spirited group and got the music I needed. Then I downloaded a free sound editing tool from Audacity.com to add a prelude to the song since it started right at the point Dad would need to start calling and I thought that was a little too abrupt. I tied everything together and sprinkled in a few transitions using Microsoft MovieMaker. If you want to read all about the trials and tribulations of putting the presentation together, check out my Technology Times and Trials blog!

This was my attempt to give my other family members a gift that couldn't be purchased in any store. I hope they enjoyed the memories.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cirque du Soleil - KA - Special 10 Min Teaser

I had the privilege of seeing "KA" when I was in Las Vegas attending Photoshop World in September. It is by far the most spectacular stage show I have ever seen. I loved the combination of marital arts, dance, acrobatics, and heroic legend. The Kabuki-style costumes were beautifully designed. The cavernous theater was mindboggling and reminded me of a set for a sci-fi film.

Of course the rotating stage that was often perpendicular to the audience was a technological marvel. My son told me that it was featured in a CSI episode where some victim was crushed by it. I'll have to look for it in CSI reruns.

If you are traveling to Las Vegas, I would strongly suggest you include KA in your adventures. It was the absolute pinnacle of my visit.

It definitely offset my disappointment in the closure of Star Trek The Experience at the Hilton and the Tut Museum at the Luxor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Impossible Coconut Cream Pie

My niece in Alaska is working on a new family cookbook for everyone for the holidays and asked me to send her one of my favorite recipes. I sent her this one that was handed down from my mother. I love Coconut Cream Pie and the nice thing about this version is that you don't have to roll out any crust. The crust ingredients are mixed into the filling. Then, during the baking process, they sink to the bottom and brown.
Easy but elegant and saves on the mess of preparing and rolling out pastry!

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
2 c. milk
½ c. flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 stick of margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ c. coconut

Beat eggs and sugar together. Add flour, baking powder, salt, softened margarine, vanilla and coconut. Pour into a 9” pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Just don't forget the flour like I did the last time I made it just before Thanksgiving. My husband called it "soup pie" because it wouldn't set up but it still tasted good so he "slurped up" every bit!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Creche exhibit brings warm holiday remembrances

Seven years ago I attended an exhibit of nativity sets held at a local church and photographed the beautiful and diverse examples of craftsmanship from around the world. I used an early digital camera, and, ever since then, have tried to watch the paper and see if the church was going to hold the exhibit again. This year I finally saw a small notice that the event was being held once more so I made plans to attend.

Like the first exhibit, the event I attended Sunday was very well organized and I was told included over 900 creches. I spent two fascinating hours trying to capture the most interesting entries, shooting almost five hundred images.

The event included performances by a very talented singer and two other musicians who played holiday music, much to the enjoyment of all. I don't think I've been to any finer concert!

I was told the event has been held every year for the past seven years so I must have just overlooked any notices about it before.

I've started uploading my images to Flickr, so if you are interested in seeing these wonderful examples of folk art, take a look. I have been titling the images "The Many Faces of Christmas". I emailed the local newspaper and offered to provide high resolution versions for printing so the event could be shared with the rest of the community, although I don't yet know if they are planning to run any of them at this time.

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