Daze of Our Lives

Am I Living in a Seinfeld Episode?

There Will Be Light

Two days last week, I worked at Alki Surf Shop while my husband, David, zipped over to Randle, WA, to do some work on our AirBNB house.

Shortly after I opened the store, a woman I didn’t know walked in and said, “I’m not stalking you, but you left your BMW lights on.” It turned out I’d parked in front of her house. She is also an aficionado of vintage BMWs, and didn’t want me to return to find my car with a dead battery. The woman’s name was Megan, and I discovered we both own businesses on Alki Beach.

I locked up the store and walked with Megan back to my car, opened the door and started the engine without a problem. She waved goodbye, I locked up my car and headed back to the shop.

Fast forward to the end of the day…

I walk back to my car and see the lights were still ON! OMG. Earlier, when I checked and saw my battery was in good shape, I forgot to turn off the lights!

But, to my delight, the engine started right up!

Sheesh. Old people. 

© terri-nakamura-BMW-2002

My classic 1976 BMW 2002 is now 40 years old!

Chewing the Digital Fat at Alki Surf Shop

Our visitors are both local and from around the world. Later that day, Jim and Suzanne Skerjanc from Bellingham dropped in, and somehow, we started talking about cell phone service.

Jim and Suzanne told me about their spotty AT&T service, and how they recently switched to Verizon. And yes, this was a spontaneous conversation!

Suzanne said, “We were with AT&T, and just didn’t get a signal anywhere. I mean, at my work there was like zero signal. I had to go outside and it was still sketchy. Jim’s a realtor, so he’s all over the place—and, I mean, he HAS to have a signal.”

© terri-nakamura-Jim-Suzanne-Skerjanc-bellingham

Jim and Suzanne Skerjanc, happy Verizon customers

Jim told me he would be driving down a main road, and bam—his calls would drop. He noticed the bars would go to zero, then a half mile down the road, they would come back. And it happened all over the county.

When they switched to Verizon, it was completely different. They now have cell phone service everywhere they go.

“We have full service now. It’s like being in the middle of Seattle,” Jim told me. “Since we switched to Verizon, we have great, reliable coverage all the time.”

Hearing about their experiences made me proud of my connection to Verizon as a brand influencer. Maybe #BetterMatters, but in their case, #BetterWins! 

AirBNB AirHEADS

By a huge percentage, the guests at our home on AirBNB are nice and responsible people. It’s interesting to see how different age groups behave almost stereotypically. “Grownups” treat our house as their own, and leave things in great shape. Millennials, on the other hand, generally seem to have a different idea of what it means to leave a place neat and tidy, or to treat our home with care.

When we first listed our house, my friend, Reg Saddler said, “Well, you know what people do with AirBNB houses, don’t you?” (And being a newbie, I said, “No!?”) He went on, “Terri, people make pornos in them!”—which kind of freaked me out!

Last year we hosted a boudoir photographer, whom we found to be a respected commercial photographer, and totally legit. Nothing too crazy has happened so far.

Generally, when we hand over the keys, we meet our guests face-to-face, and I believe the personal connection helps ensure a positive experience on both sides. That is, most of the time.

Recently we had a group of guys make a reservation for a bachelor’s weekend. The person who booked the house specifically said to me, “We will be clean and respectful.”

© terri-nakamura-airbnb-bachelor-party

Beside filling huge garbage bags with empty booze and beer bottles, and then ruining and tossing five of our plush, hotel-grade towels into the trash without a word, this group burned through all of our firewood. And they also burned a batch of stripped maple saplings that David was seasoning to make into furniture.

Long pieces of beautiful wood leaning against the wall opposite the wall of split firewood would appear different to sensible people, but they were clueless. I could only think: “Morons.”

doll-1265891_1920

Not the actual doll. The real one wasn’t this nice.

And to top it off, they also deposited a blow-up sex doll in with the rest of their trash. I mean, WHO DOES THAT? EWWWWW!

If we’d known the fiancee, I would’ve been tempted to tell her, “RUN, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!” 

MISSION: Litter-ally Accomplished

Some of you might remember my last new year’s eve and day were crazy. A small part of it had to do with a postcard offering a trial box of OKO cat litter from the Mud Bay Pet Store.

We regularly receive OKO postcards and I usually recycle them. But recently, one arrived, and I decided to give it another shot. So I tossed it into my briefcase in the event I was near Mud Bay in the Capitol Hill neighborhood

© terri-nakamura-rianbow-crosswalk-Capitol-Hill-Seattle

A typical cross walk on Capitol Hill, Seattle

Last Sunday I was near Mud Bay AND I had the postcard with me! So in a deja vu moment, I pulled into the gas station next door to the pet store, walked in, and bought something, then asked if I could leave my car in their lot while I shopped at Mud Bay.

And once again, Mud Bay didn’t have the trial size of OKO cat litter available.

I asked, “Do you guys EVER have the trial size of this product?”

They said, “No.”

Apparently the manufacturer makes no effort to ensure their retail outlets carry the items they’re promoting.

To put an end to my quest, I bought a large size of litter because we were running low. And to my surprise, Mud Bay offered to subtract the value of the trial size. So the box ended up costing only a few dollars

© terri-nakamura-ice-hamster-canary-home-security-1284

Ice, the teddy-bear hamster, captured on a Canary home security camera.

I felt guilty spending only three dollars on a large box of litter, so I also bought an interactive cat toy and some hamster treats for our son’s and daughter-in-law’s pet teddy bear hamster.

OKO cat litter is odd. It’s made from paper and sort of tubular in shape. I liked the concept, but it’s difficult to sift. Our Maine Coon, Hunter, is going along with it, but our silver tabby, Grey, is avoiding it. It was good to be able to try it. Now I know. 

Grownup Kids are FUN!

Last week, our oldest son Andrew, and daughter-in-law Diana drove to Seattle from Monterey, CA. Since they were supposed to arrive Sunday night, our family decided to delay celebrating Father’s Day until Monday, so everyone could be here.

But on Sunday afternoon I received a phone call from Andrew saying he and Diana would arrive in Seattle in time for Father’s Day dinner!

I love our oldest son, Andrew. He’s such an amazing kid! He also has a knack for creating minor chaos 🙂

© terri-nakamura-Andrew-and-Diana-June-2016

Andrew and Diana — weary travelers

Hearing his updated ETA, I needed to make sure our youngest son, Charley and his girlfriend, Sheela, were going to be available in a few hours, then cleared it all with David. When it looked like we were all on the same page, I switched into high gear, trying to figure out how we could get a dinner reservation on such short notice. So I called Marée Bistro, a neighboring business on Alki Beach.

Remember Megan, the woman who told me I left my lights on? Well, Marée belongs to Megan and her husband, Andy. They said they’d be happy to save us a table, which was great!

After we closed Alki Surf Shop, our group walked a few blocks to Marée and enjoyed some amazing dinners.

© frisee-salad-maree-bistro-alki-seattle

Frisée salad with house-cured lardon, garlic croutons and soft-cooked egg

We ordered lots of different entrees, including a Galantine de poulet (like a free range chicken roulade), wild boar (tender and delicious!), hangar steak, a savory tart, steak frites; plus some yummy sides including a frisée salad and a tasty assortment of charcuterie.

It was a fun and festive meal and wonderful on every level. After dinner, we walked out, and were greeted by an incredible crimson sunset. It was the perfect end to a great weekend.

All of which started with Megan telling me I’d left my lights on. 

© terri-nakamura-alki-sunset-fathers-day-2016

The sunset as we exited Marée Bistro, Father’s Day 2016

The hamster photo was captured by Diana Horsfall, using the Canary home security system, courtesy of Verizon. The doll photo was sourced on Pixabay. Other photos in this post were shot by me, using the fabulous camera on the Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

More about Terri:

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Shooting a How-to Video

ADDING RAM TO A MACBOOK PRO

This is my first attempt to shoot a video and edit it, and also my first exploration inside of a laptop!

A month ago I installed 32 GB of RAM in my 27” iMac. It was super easy! My buddy Reg Saddler was with me, virtually, providing guidance and support.

It got me thinking about my mid-2012 Macbook Pro, and how it had just 4 GB of RAM. I decided to upgrade to its maximum — 8 GB, but wasn’t sure where to start.

I’d never opened up a laptop, and installing RAM in a laptop looked more complicated than the installation on my iMac. So I asked my friend, Greg, to help me. But instead of helping me, he actually did the installation!

It worked out well, because it gave me a chance to record the process using my new Samsung Galaxy 7 (S7), which has a pretty powerful video editor built in.

I’ve never edited a video before, and had no idea what I was doing, so imagine how surprised I was to discover it’s simple to do all of the editing and post-production on the S7.

During the RAM installation, I recorded about 14 minutes of video in four different segments . Most of it was a major snoozefest, or just chitchat that needed to go away.

So I omitted the audio by turning off the volume on all of the clips, prior to assembling everything.

At the time I was editing, I actually didn’t have the presence of mind to take screen shots, so a bunch of the following images are after the fact!

Part One — EDITING THE VIDEO

On the S7, I navigated to my camera’s roll and opened the first of four segments I’d filmed.

A - Open-Edit © terrinakamura

Once opened, at the bottom of the screen there was an option to “Edit”

B Video Editor © terrinakamura

From there I found the “Video Editor” option.

C First View © terrinakamura

Once “Video Editor” is clicked, a screen comes up, showing the video represented by linear thumbnails. The yellow line is the beginning of the playback.

2-Trim or split video © terrinakamura

Hit the play button (small round arrow button in lower left quadrant) to review. To get rid of irrelevant content, you can split or trim parts of the clip. To do that, select  “Trim” from the menu. A sub-menu pops up where you can select trim to the left, right, or split into pieces.

3-Transition button © terrinakamura

I decided to “Split” the section in two. A box then appears between the two sections. By resting the vertical playback line on top of it, a “Transition” menu will come up.

4-Choose a transition between edits

There are quite a few options for transitions between clips. I just chose a simple black dissolve (top middle on this image). To add a segment, I clicked the “+” symbol in the lower left corner.

5-Add another clip © terrinakamura

I navigated back to my camera’s files and selected the next clip, which then appears in the timeline as anew thumbnail. (Note an additional “transition box” appeared.)

6-Add title screen © terrinakamura

When I had all of my clips trimmed and assembled, just for the heck of it, I decided to add a couple of titles. To do that, I selected “Title.” A bunch of choices pop up. I chose black.

7-Enter text © terrinakamura

A box opens to type in some copy. Just try to make sure you check your spelling. Typos in videos happen here.

8-Text entered © terrinakamura

For the purposes of this sequence, I typed in “Sample Title,” but in my final video I inserted three title pages. When I was finished, I looked at the video and jotted down what I wanted to say. (NOTE: There is probably a better work flow, but since I didn’t know what I was doing, this is what happened with me!)

9-Record audio © terrinakamura

I figured out I could add narration by selecting “AUDIO.” There are several choices, and I selected “Record narration.” So while the video was playing back, I recorded my voice to go with the video. The primary reason I did this is because I decided to speed everything up 2X, which meant my voice sounded like I was talking through helium. It had to be removed!

10-Export © terrinakamura

When I was done, I played it back to see how it sounded and looked. It wasn’t perfect, but hey, you have to start somewhere! I was satisfied — quite proud of myself, in fact! So I selected “EXPORT.”

The processing took a few minutes. When it was complete, I watched it again, then shared it on to YouTube.

The S7 is a great device — much smaller than my Nexus 6P or Samsung Edge 6+ — so it fit easily into my little phone mount and desktop tripod, but more importantly, it recorded really beautiful video. So beautiful, in fact, that when I did the screen grabs, the resolutions looked very nice.

Here is the final video: [ insert anti-climactic drumroll here ]

You can click the video, above, or go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULsavG49e2U

The completed video, which was sped up 2X, cut it down to about 3 minutes.

Part 2: THE RAM INSTALLATION

Greg is a former graphic designer and art director, retired from Microsoft. He and I have a long history of geeking out, talking about computers, gadgets and related topics that make both of our spouses’ eyes glaze over. This was the perfect project for us!

It’s all covered in the video, above, but here are a few highlights:

1 S7 ©terrinakamura-10 inch width

First, we unscrewed the back. Three of the screws are longer, so we put them aside and marked the holes before removing the rest of the screws, which were much shorter.

2 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Next, we disconnected the battery using a nylon pry tool

3 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

After discharging static electricity, ease open clips holding in the RAM, and removed the two sticks.

4 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Next, the new RAM was inserted into the slots. They were firmly snapped into place

5 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

We closed the back of the laptop, first treating screws with an anti-vibration goop.

6 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Moment of truth: Booted it up…

7 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Happy to hear the Mac start up sound and see the Apple logo appear!

8 S7 ©terrinakamura-tn-10 inch width.

VOILA!

So, this entire process involved learning on a couple of levels. It was amazing and fun to shoot, then edit a video entirely on my S7. Second, I’m no longer afraid of opening up my laptop. SSD, here I come!


PS: A cool way to take screen shots on the S7:

Hold your hand perpendicular to the phone screen (like you’re going to give it a karate chop).

Swipe your hand quickly to the left or right. You’ll hear a “click.” BINGO! Screen shot taken!


Video and images shot by Terri Nakamura, using a Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media outreach team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

Thanks to my friend, Greg, for his help.

More about Terri:

Streams of Consciousness

This image was found, unattributed, on an Instagram feed. The original photographer is  Magdalena Wasiczek. http://www.popphoto.com/photos/2013/09/behind-photos-magda-wasiczeks-surreal-floralscapes

This image was found, unattributed, on an Instagram feed. It had 223 likes at the moment I took this screen shot. The original photographer is Magdalena Wasiczek. http://www.popphoto.com/photos/2013/09/behind-photos-magda-wasiczeks-surreal-floralscapes

Or, How Instagram morphed into a Tumblr blog

When I first started using Instagram four years ago, it was a cool photo-sharing site where anyone with an iPhone could apply filters to make an average photo look awesome.

As with most social media channels and applications, people discover inventive uses and loopholes to exploit sites and apps in ways that might not have been originally anticipated.

Such is the case on Instagram.

Instead of viewing original photography, I’m seeing a large volume of plagiarized photos or reposted images designed to increase the popularity (likes) of a given user’s stream. Inspirational quotes, as well as cartoons and memes also take up a lot of space. In my view, non-original photographic content has proliferated like milfoil, much like random sharing on Tumblr.

I wondered if my observations were unique, so as a reality check, I asked several of my favorite friends on Instagram what they thought.

The vast majority of those I asked felt it was wrong to share photos without at least acknowledging the original photographer. People with streams full of this type of content are open plagiarists, and continue the practice because Instagram doesn’t care.

An exception would be feeds that are dedicated to “featuring” a photograph and attributing the user who created that content.  Some of these feeds are well moderated and only share and attribute original content from users who tag their work with the feed’s dedicated tag (granting permission to repost the work).

On the other hand, is there any point in being overly concerned by the sharing of non-image or appropriated content? After all, Instagram as a place for people to share things they feel will be of interest to others, and as long as the content is allowed by Instagram, is it really a problem?

It’s a problem when you have a friend on Twitter and follow their IG feed, only to find things you don’t want to see. As far as I know, there is not a lot of choice except to unfollow.

Currently, there is no way to “mute” users or content you don’t wish to view. So the only thing one can do is to unfollow accounts where the content doesn’t interest you. It can be awkward because some people become upset when they are unfollowed. Some even feel they must unfollow you as “payback.”

To that I say, “Oh, well!”

To my knowledge, searching via hashtag is one way to see a topic, but there isn’t a way to list people whose images you really want to see. If there is an app out there to do that, please tell me!

How do you use Instagram?

Would you like to see a a list feature to help filter what you see?

I’d love to to have you share your thoughts.


The friends who provided information to help me write this post include: Jack Higgins (JackandPele), Reg Saddler (zaibatsu), Cheryl Senter (CherylSenter) and Darren Sproat (DarrenGSproat). My thanks to them for their friendship and support.

Jack Higgins marches to the beat of a different drummer. Former advertising creative director and writer, Jack has found a new way to use Instagram. For a while, I didn’t understand his cryptic images, until I looked at his page and saw the puzzles, solved. They form mosaics! I should note, everything Jack does is thru the thought control of an evil dog named @tipytomita!

Jack Higgins composite

Reg Saddler is an amateur photographer and social media guru, listed on the Forbes list of top people on social media and too many other lists to name. He understands the hows and whys.

Reg Saddler composite

Cheryl Senter is a professional photographer working in New England. I had the pleasure of meeting her here when she visited Seattle two years ago. Her Instagram feed focuses on her amazing dog.

Cheryl Senter composite

Darren Sproat is a Canadian photographer known for his landscapes. He has been featured on the Nokia blog and cultivated a fan base (including me!)—all in awe of his images.

Darren Sproat composite

Thanks to Verizon for the Galaxy Note 4 used for many of the images posted on my own instagram feed: https://instagram.com/terrinakamura/