Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays — Memories of my 16th birthday on my mom’s 84th birthday

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Thomas D . Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, UtahToday would have been my mother’s 84th birthday. She died in February 2012. She put me in a troubled youth/adoption home (Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Utah; picture at right) in 1965, which is how my wise old grandmother (my dad’s mom) came to adopt me. I was one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents, and without my mother’s action, I’m pretty sure I would be dead at the hands of a Utah police officer or spending life in prison. I was that bad. So I thank my mother for that. I also had only seen my mother twice since 1965, once in 1968 and once in 1998, but in her elderly years she did start sending me birthday and Christmas cards.

The only other thing I thank my mother for is my interest in music. At one time she was a piano and organ accompanist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She taught me piano beginning at age two, and when I enrolled in first grade, she required me to take up another instrument; I chose violin.

Piano and violinAfter my wise old grandmother adopted me and moved me from Brigham City, Utah, to Kingsville, Texas (where I had been born), I continued playing the violin but had to give up the piano. We were too poor to afford a piano; violins were much less expensive.

For Christmas in 1970, my wise old grandmother gave me a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Actually, I think Santa Claus left it for me, but Santa Claus is a fairy tale just like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, God…. all fairy tales. The tape recorder sparked my interest in collecting music. By March 1971, I had recorded from radio all the Top 40 hits. My collecting was in full swing.

I mention March 1971 because that was my sixteenth birthday. While most of my friends were getting cars or driver’s licenses for their sixteenth birthdays, I got a stereo record player and three records: “Ram” by Paul & Linda McCartney, “Black Sabbath Vol. IV” by Black Sabbath, and “The Best of The Beach Boys, Vol. I” by The Beach Boys.

Since I listen to my music collection in chronological order, I listened to those three albums (and several dozen others!) this past weekend. Here is a song from each album:

“Dear Boy” by Paul & Linda McCartney

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Changes” by Black Sabbath
(not a typical heavy metal song!)

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“Fun, Fun, Fun” by The Beach Boys

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Giant Panda at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

San Diego Zoo wildlife

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yesterday was International Rabbit Day, which reminded me that I have not taken y’all to the San Diego Zoo with me recently. So here ya go!

Giant PandaGiant Panda at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lion-tailed macaqueLion-tailed macaque at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

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Takin (baby)Baby takin at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Guenons and otterGuenons and otter at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Guenon (?) eatingGuenon at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Freshwater crocodiles sunningFreshwater crocodiles at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Turtles sunning (and two baby mallards)Turtles at the San Diego Zoo

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Giraffe eatingGiraffe at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Meerkat sentryMeerkat sentry at the San Diego Zoo

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GuanacoGuanaco at the San Diego Zoo

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Jaguar (mommy)Jaguar at the San Diego Zoo

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Koala mommy and joeyKoala mommy and joey at the San Diego Zoo

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Cuvier’s gazelleCuvier's gazelle at the San Diego Zoo

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LlamaLlama at the San Diego Zoo

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Baby takins playing

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Flamingos at the height of nesting season

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Home Depot cat

Caturday — Business cats & dreaming cats

Cats

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I am thrilled whenever I visit a business and find that the business and its employees have adopted a feral cat.

Recently I was shopping at a Home Depot that I don’t normally shop at.

It’s actually closer than the one I prefer but traffic is worse going in that direction.

However, they have adopted not one feral cat but two! I think I’ll be shopping at that location more often.

Home Depot cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Home Depot cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Home Depot cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Home Depot cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both cats trusted me enough to let me pet them, especially the orange one.

In the wee hours of the morning today, I was successful at getting a video of Zoey the Cool Cat in the throes of wild dreams about catching birds. Not the best video but so far the only one I’ve been able to get of her dreaming. When you see it, you’ll understand why I’m trying to get a good video of this little princess in her dream state.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower art

Friday Flower Fiesta (9-27-13) — Flower art using Photoshop & Topaz Adjust

Friday Flower Fiesta

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I don’t normally make you look at the same flower twice, and I won’t today, kind of.

I’m having so much fun with Topaz Adjust so I thought I’d share several art that I created using just one picture. Here’s the picture:

Cactus flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m not certain but I think that’s a flower from a Cereus cactus, or a cactus formerly in the Cereus genus. Plant geneticist are having a field day using genetic profiling to move cactus species from one genus to another. Things change so rapidly that I have trouble keeping up. Nonetheless, following are seven of my favorite artworks featuring that flower.

The first one would have been what I would have used as my final production if I just wanted to show a good picture of the flower. I think it has the right sharpness and color, with more detail (thorns) in the shadows.

Cactus flower art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower art

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Cactus flower art

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I call this one MOONGLOW.Cactus flower art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This one is my LGBTQ cactus flower.Cactus flower art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

All of these, every single one, were created with just a keyboard shortcut (Control F) to open the Topaz Adjust filter in Photoshop, and then one or two mouse clicks depending on what Topaz Adjust filter collection I wanted to use. There was no thought on my part other than, “I like this one” following by saving it.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I can recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spam works

Spam emails work. So does unsubscribe.

Opinion

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According to Wikipedia, “The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (15 U.S.C. 7701, et seq., Public Law No. 108-187, … S.877 of the 108th United States Congress) [was] signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 16, 2003, [establishing] the … first national standards for … sending … commercial e-mail and requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its provisions.”

CAN-SPAM is an acronym derived from the bill’s full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003. It sometimes is referred to as the “You-Can-Spam” Act because it does not prohibit many types of e-mail spam and, in particular, and contrary to popular opinion, it does not require e-mailers to get permission before they send marketing messages. It does prohibit individuals who receive spam from suing spammers except under laws not specific to e-mail.

Wikipedia also states, ” The Act has been largely unenforced,” although the reference cited is from 2004. Yes, in 2004, less than 1% of spam complied with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. In fact, many people in the computer industry, myself included, would tell you not to click on the unsubscribe link in emails because all that did was confirm to the spammers that they had a valid email address. Such is no longer the case in 2013.

Sticking with Wikipedia: “On December 20, 2005 the FTC reported that the volume of spam [had] begun to level off, and due to enhanced anti-spam technologies, less was reaching consumer inboxes. A significant decrease in sexually-explicit e-mail was also reported.”

Later modifications to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 included clarifying that a sender may comply with the act by including a post office box or private mailbox and clarifying that to submit a valid opt-out request, a recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her email address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply email message or visiting a single page on an Internet website.

So, does spam work? The unequivocal answer is yes! Using graphics created by Bloomberg Businessweek, here’s why:

Spam works

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spam works

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spam works

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spam works

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spam works

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I can tell you unequivocally that unsubscribe also works. Follow along here.

Back in March 2013, I was getting over 500 spam emails EACH AND EVERY DAY. It was tiresome, aggravating, and time consuming to go through them all looking for the one legitimate email and then deleting the others. I decided to start clicking on that unsubscribe link in the emails.

After just 30 days, I was getting only 5-10 spam emails EACH DAY, a decrease of somewhere around five thousand percent! After 6 months, I am getting 5-10 spam emails EVERY 14 DAYS. And they come in bunches. For example, yesterday I got six spam emails within about five minutes, the first spam emails I had received in 13 days.

After just a week of unsubscribing, I came to the conclusion that there was some sort of brokerage service going on. I would receive 5-10 spam emails within minutes of each other. When I unsubscribed, everything was similar, if not identical. The unsubscribe links in the spam emails were the same although the addresses were not.

Span unsubscribe

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When I clicked on the link, the unsubscribe box was identical:

Span unsubscribe

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After submitting my email address, the unsubscribe confirmation was identical:

Span unsubscribe

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It was not until just recently that I found those graphics by Bloomberg Businessweek. Scroll back up and look at the last graphic. Note that the researchers for Bloomberg Businessweek found 365,395,278 links in the spam emails they looked at. Those 365,395,278 links sent them to just 69,002 web sites. More importantly, though, those 69,002 web sites were run by just 45 merchants.

That bears repeating: 365,395,278 links went to 69,002 web sites run by 45 merchants.

Now if just 1% of the people getting 365,395,278 links responded and bought something, anything, that would be 3,653,927 purchases. If each purchase is a measly dollar, that’s still $3,653,927 split between 45 merchants, or $81,198 each!

Now go look at that last graphic again. Twelve percent of Americans — 12%, and only Americans, which number about 325 million — have bought goods and services advertised by spam. So instead of using numbers for 1%, let’s use 12%. Instead of a $1 purchase, though, notice in the third graphic that over half of Americans buy Viagra for $3.00 for 10 mg. So let’s use 50% of those 12% who buy stuff, and $3 for each purchase instead of $1. Here’s the result:

12% of Americans buying something
times
365,395,278 spam email links
times
$3.00 per purchase
times
50% buying Viagra
equals
$65,771,150

That’s astounding, and tells you why spam email works.

According to a Google search, though, typical Viagra prescriptions are 25, 50, and 100 mg. So multiply that $3 per 10 mg by 25, 50, or 100, and you see just exactly how much money we’re talking about here…. $30 for 100mg… or as much as $6,577,115,000 just for Viagra if everyone gets 100 mg dosages to perform better!

So, instead of sitting there complaining about spam email, do something about it! Start unsubscribing today and let me know in 30 days and 180 days what your experience is.

DISCLAIMER: This applies to the United States only. Foreign corporations and people do not have to abide by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 since it is a United States law and does not apply to foreigners.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Catwho likes to sit on books and magazines.

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Outstanding in a field

Are you outstanding in YOUR field?

Picture of the Moment

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Well, are you?

If not, get busy!

Outstanding in a field

Mallard at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For Photoshop users: Topaz Adjust is 50.01% off through September 30

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If I already have the software — Photoshop, Corel Draw, Corel PaintShop Pro, Corel VideoStudio Pro, Excel, Word, etc. — I’m willing to spend the money when a major upgrade comes along.

For all other software, I generally limit myself to $25.

It’s an arbitrary limit.

It’s just me.

Consequently, when I find software that I want, but don’t necessarily need, I put it on my Santa Claus list. Unfortunately, Santa always thinks that I’ve been bad throughout the year, so he never brings me anything. Either that, or Santa is just like God, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy…. a figment of someone’s imagination….

Topaz Adjust is one such piece of software that has been on my Santa Claus list for almost two years. It retails for $49.99. However, “until September 30” you can get it for $24.99. That’s 50.01% off! And they take PayPal, which means you really don’t pay for it……….lol……..just like a credit card!

Go to http://www.topazlabs.com/adjust/

Topaz Adjust is a huge collection of specialized filters that work from within Photoshop. They can do awesome things to your photos to make them stand out from those taken by your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse.

Following are my first two Topaz Adjust attempts. The first one, San Clemente Pier at 6:00 a.m., was so full of noise from the high ISO I used in the early morning darkness that the only thing I would be able to do with it was make something artistic out of it. Instead, Topaz Adjust did a superb job of getting that noise under control so that the picture is at least useful as a picture.

San Clemente Pier at dusk

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The following picture is the San Clemente Pier a couple of hours later. The natural sunlight made for a very soft focus picture with a lot of shadows with detail that Photoshop couldn’t pull out adequately. Topaz Adjust did the job.

San Clemente Pier

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That’s a composite of five pictures. Here is one of the five original pictures, as it came out of the camera (Canon 550D), for comparison:

San Clemente Pier

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The first daylight picture is postcard-like (and don’t fool yourself by thinking that postcard pictures weren’t photoshopped, even before Photoshop!), while the last picture is, well, a picture.

Topaz Adjust also works with Photoshop Elements and Lightroom by Adobe, Corel PaintShop Pro, Irfanview, Photo Impact, and Serif Photo Plus. However, I don’t know if the 50.01% discount applies to the other applications or just to Photoshop.

When taking pictures, especially digital pictures, always remember what my wise old grandmother said, “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.” Have fun!

My wise old grandmother

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos