Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Business meeting and a weird photo

Grumble, grumble...I have three days of business meetings in Greenville, starting this afternoon.  A three and half hour drive beginning once I post this...and I don't mind driving, actually.  In fact, I've always thought that long distance truck driving would be right up my alley.  Or maybe that should be right up my interstate. 

The challenge is sitting in plush swivel chairs around a big table and trying to stay awake.   We could probably wrap everything up in one day but, in addition to making decisions, we also all want to have a chance to prove to each other how smart we are. 

I remember once at the end of a long drawn out meeting someone saying, "Everything's already been said but not everybody has had a chance to say it yet." 

If the hotel wireless port is free, I'll check posts -- but I'm usually too cheap to pay for it.  But I've pre-posted my building shootout so it should appear around 1:00 a.m. on Friday. 

And finally, here is a very weird picture -- Surprisingly it has been only photoshopped a tiny bit...except for deepening hues in a couple of areas, this is straight from the camera.  Anybody want to guess what it is?

Back Seat Communication

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fun with photoshop - Portrait of a Woman

Just a portrait for today.  I got caught up in Photoshop yesterday.  I'm not sure I knew when to stop but it was fun to do. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dreaming or what people think about during sex

I confuse myself sometimes.

I had this long, fascinating dream Thursday night -- complete with a battle between good and evil for power over a community, battles with wands and curses, Harry Potter style -- and I wrote it all down into the database I keep for dreams.

BAGMAN: "A little obsessive compulsive, maybe?"
But Friday was the shootout so I thought maybe I'd post it over the weekend...

BAGMAN: "Borrriiing,"

...but by Saturday I figured it would be boring. Dreams have incredible interest to the dreamer, which may be why he or she dreams them. But they almost always fall flat in the telling.

BUTLER: "So why don't you talk about dreams in general? How you learned to remember them? How you approach them? Why you keep the database that Bagman makes fun of? I thought about talking about dreams in general....wait a minute, Butler just said that, didn't he?

But then last night, lying awake in bed for some reason, I was thinking


BUTLER: "Shut up, Bags! Dream theory is much more interesting."

...Dang it! Sometimes I can't get a word in edgewise! What I was thinking about was the different things that go through people's heads in the middle of having sex. For example: "Gosh, I hope my partner thinks I'm not an idiot." Or another example: "Is it going to happen soon or am I going to have to fake it." Or: "Damn, I forgot to set the DVD to tape my favorite show and it's coming on in ten minutes."

By the time I fell asleep, I had a list of 20 or so. Oddly enough, when I woke up, I didn't remember any dreams at all and only remembered about five of the 20...

BAGMAN: "I can come up with some!!!"

And besides, I try to keep this blog PG-13 although it sometimes get to R and I don't want to risk Triple-X....hmmm. What to do? What to do?

BUTLER: "Write about your approach to dreaming!"

BAGMAN: "NO!! Write about what people think about during sex!!!"

I think I'll actually go have a bowl of cereal, a second cup of coffee, and figure the dilemma out later...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Hometown Photo Shootout - My Favorite Place to ______

At least I think I finally got my dates straight.

But, oh man, was this a disappointing eye-opener for me. I think I need to retitle it:  “Mark needs to get a life.”


So, I’m driving home…in my

favorite place to break the speed limit.

…and I’m thinking of the possibilities: My favorite place to play tennis, to go to the museum, to dine out, to have romantic walks with my wife, to fish, to climb mountains, to shop, to take in a show, to garden…and it begins to sink in.

I can’t think of my favorite place to do any of these things. In fact, I can’t actually remember the last time when I’ve done them. Except gardening. And I hate gardening. Yes, it seems that Mark really does need to get a life.

Photography! I love photography! And my favorite place is…hmmm…almost any place that my eye happens to connect with the right shapes and light. Should I take a picture of the back of my camera. And just how would I go about doing that?

Okay, okay!! Don’t panic! So maybe I can’t get to the top of Everest before Friday. Think simple. Maybe I don’t have an exciting life, but I need to go with what I’ve got. So:

Below is my favorite place to scratch

Well, maybe my second favorite place...but we won't go there.

Below is my favorite place to blog and photoshop.

Below is my favorite place to do my day job

Below is my favorite place to read the newspaper before my day job

Below is my favorite place to nap after my day job

Below is my favorite place to eat supper

Below is my favorite place to write poetry

Unfortunately, this could go on forever and ever.  But I will spare you.  And on Friday I’m going to go upstairs and look at everyone’s blogs and see all your exciting favorite places. I’m sure Patty will paste her favorite place to eat crabs. And I’ll get hungry and frustrated and retire back to my favorite place to feel sorry for myself…I don’t need to show another picture do I?  By now you've all figured it out and are calling out in unison, "Hey, Mark! Get a life!"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

National Johnny Blake Day

I recently found and scanned a very old Polaroid picture – which obviously did not get “fixed” properly – of one of the important people in my early and rather unorthodox childhood. And I decided to share it with you.

John Shelley Blake

From 2nd grade through high school, he was almost like an additional parent. He lived in a house he had built on my grandparents’ land on the shore of Lake Pearl in Wrentham, Massachusetts. His existence in my life also says a lot about the kind of people my grandparents were.

Before I was born, my grandfather was working in the yard when Johnny came walking along South Street, his life’s belongings in a sack on his back, a 1940’s hobo, who had previously worked for the circus. He asked my grandfather if he could sleep in the barn for the night if he helped with the work. The deal was made but they offered him dinner as well and talked late into the night and forming a friendship. So Johnny lived in the barn for awhile, working on the land.

Eventually, my grandfather let him build a small shack down on Lake Pearl. Over the years, Johnny added beautifully crafted rooms to the lake cottage and somewhere along the line my grandparents sold him the land for $1.00.

Johnny was an inventor, a mystic, a collector of old esoteric books, and a jack-of-all trades. He never needed much money and made a meager living by selling predictions of which horses would win at a nearby harness racing track. Predictions he made by doing astrological charts of the horses.

But mostly I remember almost every day during the summertime, running down the 50 or 60 wooden steps to his brightly colored shack he had named “Polaris” and when he caught sight of me he’d call out in his unbelievably gravelly voice, “Hey, Maxxy!” I never knew why he called me “Maxxy,” but I loved it. He taught me to fish and canoe. If weather was bad, around the glowing wood-burning pot-bellied stove in his small kitchen we’d talk about ghosts, foreign lands, black magic and the circus. And he always had some complicated Rube Goldberg invention or Mr. Wizard science experiment he was working on.

When it came to adopting hoboes and giving away prime lakefront property, my grandparents had wonderful judgment. I have no memory of when his birthday was and it’s quite probable that he didn’t know himself…so I’ve decided to make an executive decision to proclaim September 22nd as National Johnny Blake Day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Hometown Photo Shootout -- Domesticated Animals?

I really thought the theme was "Exploration of a Building" which might have replaced  insects and bugs.  I should really keep up better.  At least I have my building exploration already prepared for next week (unless it was last week).  

Th...Th....Th....That's all, folks! 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I thought tomorrow was October 2

Oops.  I just found out that tomorrow's Friday Hometown Photo Shootout theme is "domestic animals."  And I had just spent more time than it will be worth doing a photoshoot with captions about a building.  But that will be for October 2.  I thought tomorrow was October 2nd. 

Domestic animals, huh?  Not actually mt faavorite thing these it will be a small shoot.  But I did remember a poem I once wrote about a cat.  Actually it was about learning that my wife didn't always want me to solve things for her, just listen to her sometimes.  

Weakness of the Hero’s Solutions

“I’m mad at the cat,” she says,
sitting beside me, on the bed, drinking coffee,
“She clawed holes in the pink chair.”
Gears turn. Solutions click.

“I’m mad at the cat,” she says again.
The fix-it machine grinds and coughs.
“I deal in solutions,” it says and I spout out
number one: cover the chair in plastic

“So you save the damn chair, so what?” she says.
“That’s only half of it.”

“What’s the other half?”
“I’m mad at the cat,” she says.

Bagman takes issue with me

So I'm working hard on Friday's hometown shootout although it is becoming more like architectural and construction history than having much to do with photographs.  Butler is actually poring over blueprints of the building where I work, measuring square footage when Bagman stomps in and slams the door!

BAGMAN: "So why did you take my name off your Blogspot ID and put yours in!  You've lost have your followers by confusing them."

ME:  "I think they recognize the red car avitar."

BUTLER:  "That rhymes, you know.  Red car, avatar; red car, avatar..OW!"  (The x-rated DVD that Bagman has thrown like a frisbee bounces off Butler's head.)

BAGMAN:  "Don't change the subject, dammit!  Why is your ID now 'Mark Cowell'?  Wasn't Bagman and Butler good enough for you?  Mark Cowell is a wussy name anyhow.  Mark kkcowell."

ME: "If you must know, I started another blog."

Expressions of surprise!  Disappointment!  Crashing as Butler falls off his chair!  "NOOOOO!"

ME:  It may not be for long but my 45th high school reunion is happening and I was trying to set up a team blog where all my old classmates can post stories and photos and such.  I thought it would be nice since the reunion is up in Massachusetts and I can't go to it."

BAGMAN:  "Go!  We have to go!  How can we not go!"

ME: "Too far.  Too expensive.  I've got stuff to do here."

BAGMAN:  "BULL&%#@!   You don't want to go.  You've never gone to any of them.  You're scared to go!"

BUTLER: "Partly true, my dear brother Bags..but that's because of you."

BAGMAN: "I'm the one who wants to go!!"

BUTLER: "Exactly.  Not to share old high school memories.  You're probably thinking of Nancy, Kathy, Mary, Donna, Janet, etc. etc."

ME: "And they are all married now.  And I am married now.  And we are all in our sixties."

BUTLER: "And, you, Baggie, would make an ass of all of us and get Mark in trouble with with his wife and with at least seven husbands that he doesn't know yet and probably doesn't need to know."

BAGMAN: "But you'd keep me on a tight rope like you always do."

BUTLER:  "Going back in time, though...I don't know...lots of old feelings might come up."

MARK:  "Actually, I might get even slapped the moment I walk in the door for something that someone has been carrying around for 45 years.  Yes, a blog is much safer."

BAGMAN:  "You are both wusses!  And I'd behave myself like I always do."

BUTLER and MARK together: "Then why do you want to go in the first place?"

BAGMAN:  "I hate you both!!!"    Bagman goes out and slams the door.

BUTLER:  "He does have a point about putting your name on your ID.  I know it helps your classmates recognize you, but you are confusing your true friends on your main blog."

ME:  "I know.  But it won't be long.  Only two people have even seen the blog and there is nothing on it of interest.  I think I'll take it down in a few weeks and go back to my Bagman and Butler name."

BUTLER:  "Yeah.  Great.  Just when eveyone has gotten use to that one.   I think Bagman's right that you are kind of losing it.  But I agree that we shouldn't go to the reunion.  But we should go to Massachsetts sometime where we have a couple of weeks to visit old places and take pictures."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Meme from Sarah Lulu

I've been trying this morning to catch up on my blogbrowsing and Sarah Lulu had an intriguing what the heck.  Here's the meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

The scary part was looking around to find the "nearest" book -- which was probably not going to be the book I would have just chosen.  My computer chair sits almost equidistant between my bookcase (which mostly just has negative files, old pictures, wires, junk and few books) and my son's bookcase which is the one thing that remains from when my studio was his bedroom.

Looking at his bookcase, my heart dropped to see "Understanding HTML" and "Intermediate Algebra." 

BAGMAN:  "Yeah!  That's make a gripping blog!" 

So I moved my chair a smidgeon to the right.  (Who invented the word "smidgeon"?).  There were only three books to choose from.  The first was the instruction manual for my Nikon D-80 in Spanish.  I keep the English version in my camera bag because I'm a slow learner.  The second was a disaster planning guide which I got for some emergency management class I took because I am part of the county's emergency management operations if something catastrophic ever happens in Charleston.

But the third might suffice.  It was "The Notebooks of Robert Frost."   I'm still leery, however, because I've browsed this book alot.  It is not something you read because it is literally the unedited notebook jottings of the poet.  Like my own journal scratchings, much of it makes no sense because it is just reminders of things that must have made sense to Frost when he wrote them.  But rules are rules, so here goes:

Page 123, sentences 6-8.

Oops!  I have a problem! 

BUTLER:  "No that's not what it says!"

No, that was me saying I have a problem with the meme challenge because Frost isn't using periods or writing in sentences, so how can I figure out what the next three sentences are after 5 or even where sentence 5 ends? 

BAGMAN:  "Just write something and go get another cup of coffee, for Pete's sake!"

Okay, okay...I'll try to decipher where there is a natural break even if there isn't a period.  Here we go again.  Page 123, pseudo-sentences 6-8:

"Trees in the village street in mid afgternoon in summertime"
"The Clear sound images Clear sight images have been attended to"
"Exponents to denote stress."

I think I should have picked another book.
Or another meme.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday Hometown Shootout -- too little, too late, and some other stuff

I missed Friday.  Missed posting and missed lookng.  Time and motivation a bit scarce these days.  But I'm not dead or totally missing yet.  So here are two old weathered shots.

And a batch of old kind of funny shots I took sometime ago...and if I had found the negatvies earlier would have used for the "Signs" theme. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zebra Pictures Thursday

Okay, so maybe it won't catch on like Shadow Shot Sunday or Friday Hometown Shootout.  But I gave it a shot.

From old negative, circa 1969

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another meme question revealed...

This is an old story that comes from the meme about five outrageous things that have happened to me – four of which were true.

It was the summer of ‘68, a time of extremes. At one end, the Vietnam War colored everything with anger, pain, and despair. At the other end, young people were exploring the boundaries of…well, anyway, they were exploring boundaries.

I was a journalism/philosophy/creative writing major at Northeastern University in Boston which was known at the time for its excellence in engineering. Why I was there was another story since I was also a high school dropout. And while I attended Northeastern, I lived near Harvard Square because it had a more diverse mix of odd people, cute girls, and drugs. It was the year that “streaking” – running naked in public became popular. Hint hint.

There were major protest marches against the war and for racial equality. This is irrelevant to the story but I recently ran across some old photographs I wanted to add so I add this fact as a digressive segue.

While I did not like the war and while I could not fathom why people treated other people differently because of skin color, I participated in lots of protest marches more, to be egotistically honest, so I could take pictures, score marijuana, and meet girls.

The meeting girls part might not quite be true because I was really involved with one girl, Betsy…but Bagman was alive and well by then so the meeting girls part might have been a bit true anyway.
But back to the story, that summer, I drove down to Florida to see my father, the Hermit of Panther Key. We spent a couple of weeks on his island and then I drove back to Miami where Betsy was going to fly down to meet me so we could drive back together. I had three days to kill.

Cruising around in my VW “Hippie” Bus (I’d pulled out the seats and had a bed and some crates that served as a writing table for my Royal portable clickity-clack typewriter), I passed a building with a sign that said “Associated Press.”

I thought it couldn’t hurt so I went inside without stopping at the reception desk and wandered around until I found the photo department and walked into some editor’s office unannounced and asked if they needed any freelance help.

Amazingly enough, the guy threw me a handful of rolls of Tri-X pan film and wrote some notes on a piece of paper and said, “Come back if you get anything.”

Looking back on that, I realize it could have been crack in a door of amazing opportunity. But I just saw it as a way to kill some time and maybe make a couple of bucks.
I had three Mission Impossible assignments. The first was to get some paparazzi shots of a recluse boxer preparing for a championship fight in a ritzy Miami Beach hotel. That assignment was quickly ended by two very large men with Italian accents, blue suits, and sunglasses.

The next mission was to shoot a feature on people who lived on boats. I think this assignment was the one the AP guy liked because I no longer have the film and he eventually paid me $125 for something. But the best part was I met a fascinating guy who designed and built full-scale models of old ships for maritime museums and lived on a ¾ scale model of a Spanish pirate ship. He was also fascinating because he had great pot. We got stoned together, sat on the pirate ship’s plank at midnight and fed slices of bread to giant manatees who had learned to visit him every night and rose out of the water like blimps with blubbery mouths. We became friends for two days and I ended up sleeping on his boat.

He even invited me to join his crew in ten days to sail an 18th century tall ship he had built to England. Even more than the AP job, I regret that I walked away from that one. Dumb ass! I remember saying the stupidest thing I’ve ever said: “I’d love to sail to England with you but I have to go back and take a final exam in English Lit.” Butler was only a fetus in my life then but I’m sure he was behind that decision.

And my third assignment was to shoot pictures of some University of Miami students who had been told by the school that they couldn’t keep their pet lion cub in their dorm room. (Aha! Now you know one of the true meme statements!) Unlike the students, the school administrators understood that lion cubs don’t remain cubs forever.

I found them easily enough. Five feet onto the campus, I only had to ask, “Anybody know where they guys with the lion are?”

They were overjoyed that the Associated Press wanted pictures and immediately gave me a beer and rolled a joint. Journalism was a great career in the 60’s if you didn’t take it seriously.

I actually found a couple of the negatives but I remember taking many many pictures so either the AP guy took some of them as well or – after the beer and pot – they were so out-of-focus or abstract they made no sense.

To bring it to a close, however, I remember thinking it would be cool to shoot the lion cub from behind the leather recliner where it would run and hide and chew on things. It really was a cute little bugger, just a golden, fat, oversized kitten.

So I lay on the floor and slithered half around the leather chair and began calculating aperture and speed – since this was a bit before auto-everything cameras. While I was pondering, the lion cub was also pondering and I looked like too much fun to be left alone. So she suddenly jumped up to the back of the couch, bounced once on the seat, and landed on my legs which were stretched out behind my couch-covered torso.

The difference between a kitten playing and a lion cub playing is the lion cub breaks skin. What hurt more was banging my head on the couch springs when she sprung. The four tiny evenly spaced holes in my left calf did not really hurt or bleed much. And the beer probably helped.

I think the AP must have taken some of the shots because these were the only negatives I could find and they were in rough shape.  Very little depth of grays. 

And I think the picture above does justice to the maxim that "He who laughs last, laughs best."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just checking in

It's been a long busy Labor Day weekend.  I think I know why they call it "Labor" Day Weekend. 
But the task lists are finished, porch restained, several things painted, lots of stuff moved...lots of sweat and showers. 
On the sad side, we finally had to find and found a good home for Roxie.  Emotional decisions and I doubt I'll blog much about it.  But she will have a place where she can run in the woods and play and a family that will love her. 
On the good side, I finally have a new computer...still learning Vista...and its fast as blazes.
I'm workng on some old photos for one of the remaining meme stories which I'll post later this week.
I'm not sure whether I'll get a weathered post up on Friday...kind of doubtful now.
But I'm still here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Photo Shoot-Out Doors and Windows

Grizzle, frump, %$#*...I don't know whether it is not having my old computer or changes in the way Blogger does things or just fate, but having uploaded my Friday Shootout stuff -- late, of course -- I can't figure out how to put the pictures in the right order!!!  So the heck with continuity.  Here it is...randomly:
The hotel window I was looking out on 9/11 -- getting ready for a conference
noticing some odd smoke to the left of the Pentagon across the street
Burning windows - Pentagon
Unfortuantely I only had an old cheap video camera
Still shot from the video

From 1998 -- Now this is kind of a door - or maybe a window...
Brian still gives me a hard time about what he calls
the dumbest tree house a father ever built for his son.
But heck, we still get great laughter from it.
I think I've posted this before but I like it
Florence, Italy
Through an inside window in St. Peters, Rome
1972, Woman in a window near Santa Marta, Colombia
1970, Apartment window in Cambridge, Massachusetts
I still have and love this artists manikin that my grandfather used
when he was studying art in Paris in the 1930's
A window somewhere in Italy -- Florence, I think.
A door nobody wanted to see--
Now a tourist attraction - Alcatraz, 1987
A 'faux' door in Columbia, SC
The train car and man are actually a mural
Doors and window on a sand sculpture
of Charleston's old market building
This wold have been at the top (or bottom) but should
have been with the Pentagon shots if I had any control
over this blasted blogspot program.
The door to Brian's first day of school, 1993
And that's it for this week...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Kissing Sophia Loren

Checking in while I wait for a new computer to arrive by mail – probably Monday. Meantime, I found, amazingly, two old scratchy negatives from one of the true meme statements from last week. But it will have to wait until I set up the scanner.

So, I’ll reveal another of the true category. Yes, I kissed Sophia Loren. But it’s not much of a story. I don’t remember the year but Sophia Loren was in Filenes Department store in Boston signing autographs on boxed gift sets of a line of perfume she had contracted to endorse.

I was in Boston, out of work, looking for a job. The woman I was…what’s the word…cohabitating with liked the perfume and kidded me about getting Miss Loren’s autograph.

Since I was having no luck on the job front, I got into a long long long line and spent half the afternoon waiting. The wait was made easier for the last hour because the front of the line, 100 people or so, were actually in the room and could see her on a raised platform. Older, of course, but ageless and beautiful in a chiffon something or other. She’d look at the person at the front of the line, listen for a moment, sign a box, smile, shift to the next person.

Finally my turn came and I stepped up to her small table. Her smile, despite the fact she had probably smiled 9,000 times already, was incredible. And she smelled delicious. Of course, she did! Duh. She was selling perfume. She also smelled like my girlfriend. She asked how she should sign it and I gave her my girlfriend’s name and said that she always used this perfume.

Then, thinking of nothing intelligent to say, I said whatever was in my head, “In fact, you smell just like my girlfriend.”

For some reason…perhaps the monotony of her day…that comment made Sophia Loren laugh. She said, “You are such a sweet boy,” and leaned over to kiss my cheek as I was turning away. Surprised, I turned back just at that moment and instead of my cheek, our lips met.

At this point, I want to describe the warm, melting, half-open-mouthed inhaling of each other’s breath and the swooning, heart-pounding…

But to be honest, our lips met considerably off-center and too hard. I was mostly aware that her lips were a bit thin and I felt her teeth through her upper lip while my cheek kind of banged her nose. But the unexpected kiss, the overly strong smell of perfume, and the fact I had turned back so suddenly I was dizzy caused one of my feet to slip off the platform so after brushing my lips, her lips swished up my cheek to my eyeball.

She found it wonderfully entertaining and laughed, waved. People behind me laughed. Someone called me lucky and patted me on the back.

Then I was back outside. I stopped at one more potential employer on the way home but got no job offer, just strange looks.

In fact, I got a lot of strange looks which I didn’t understand until I got home, looked in the mirror and then had to explain to my girlfriend why I had a bright magenta lipstick stain that ran from the corner of my mouth to my eye.

I just handed her the box of perfume and prayed she’d believe me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hooray! Hooray! The computer is fried!!!!!

So what am I posting on...well...if I use it with great moderation in terms of time and content...I feel the use of my work laptop for social networking -- as long as it doesn't interfere with worktime -- (I am now at home if any government auditors are keeping track) --

But I won't stay long...probably look at a couple of blogs I miss alot. 

But tomorrow is new computer day!  I'm taking a vacation day (in case any government auditors are keeping track) and I've narrowed it down to Best Buy's top of the line graphics Asus...although I've never heard of an "Asus"...and the computer guy who declared my old Dell legally dead does not have any that fell of a truck but he builds them.  A little leery of buying something custom-made, but I'll look at a quote and capabilities.  He did show me his own computer which had five separate graphic cards interconnected and 7 terabites of hard drive. 

If I go with Best Buy, I'll be back by the weekend.  If I go with Computer Man it will be a week or so. 

Tomorrow is computer day which means it is full of excitement and terror.  Because once I start setting it up, trying to connect it to my network, loading my software and watching to see if my software crashes it...nothing is ever eaasy with computers. 

There is a saying about how you interpret it when computer geeks estimate the time involved in a job.  You double the time and increase the qualifier.  In other words, if a geek tells you the job will take five minutes, it will take ten hours.  If a big network job is estimated to take 6 days, it will actually take 12 weeks. 

And thanks, Thunder Man...commenting to a man without a computer is not always futile. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


As my mother-in-law used to say, "Oh fut!"

Coming home yesterday, I found that some of the clocks were blinking -- which usually means the electricity went out during the day.   But oddly, some were still working fine...a mystery. 

This morning, I went to turn on my home computer -- nothing.  I think mystery solved -- a small hit or near hit by lightening.  As far as I can tell the only victim is the computer and maybe it is only a switch.  I'll take it to a guy I know this afternoon.  

However, it may be a blessing in disguise because if it is actually not reparable (I hope I hope) then I will have to get a new one and I've been planning to buy one with faster and better graphics for Photoshop in the next year or so anyway.  And with the exception of a couple of old programs, I'm totally backed up so will lose no files.  

But -- I may be off line for a few days.   I'll miss you guys and will be back with an update as soon as I can.