Showing posts from September, 2008


So, I mentioned earlier and was frankly somewhat proud of the amount of wood I had ranked on my own. I wound up over 4 days of work getting nearly 1 and 2/3 ranks done on my own, but it took a huge toll. However, I had many other tasks and then got a bit sick, so not much stacking occured this last week.

M was at a conference and took today and tomorrow off to unwind. Using some of her suggestions (getting her dad's wheelbarrow and working together), we set to at about 11 am. We broke for about 40 minutes for lunch and worked until 5pm.

We broke the task into two section: I filled the wheelbarrow and hauled it into the house and dumped it, M stacked the wood into the ranks. I occasionally also helped her with ranking the wood, but she (very importantly) also managed the projected and reminded me to break often and drink lots of water (went through 4 bottles of water).

This is the result outside:
Figure 1: The pile of wood outside

And inside:
Figure 2: Nearly 4 ranks of wood inside

So, in…

Lions Finally Make Move

In what, at this point, seems like a surprising move to end mediocrity, the Detroit Lions NFL team fired Matt Millen as the president of the organization.

Why I say this seems surprising is because the team has been the league worst during Millen's tenure, yet the Fords held onto him despite that. Millen fired coaches left and right, and the Fords held onto him. Millen made some of the worst draft choices ever (only 2 of the draft choices during his time have amounted to much of anything, and a third only did after leaving the team... some of his #1 picks are out of football altogether right now!).

Per one article, "The 0-3 start dropped Millen to 31-84 overall, giving the Lions at least 10 more losses than any other NFL team over the past seven-plus seasons."

Millen was hired with no qualifications. From that point on he proved that he lived up to his qualifications and those of us who were devout Lions fans watched a team that, albeit not great, had some talent and was do…

Mobile Desires

I am missing my work laptop. I never thought I would miss a laptop, but there it is.

Laptops sort of grow on you. I fought getting one for a long time at work and then was forced to update to one and found I liked the flexibility. Suddenly, if I wasn't feeling well, I could call in and work from home. When I started my relationship with my now wife, I could take my work with me on the "working vacations" and it allowed us to be together a lot more often than we otherwise could have.

And then, since the company had a sort of "don't ask, don't tell-- as long as it isn't porn or illegal" policy, I used it for things like taking files for either DMing or playing Dungeons and Dragons with me, I could take notes on it, I had my stories and poems on thumb drives that I could then push in and work on at a moment's notice.

Right now, I'm sitting in the office typing this and some other things, watching MNF on the small TV, and wishing my wife's lapt…

So Why?

Being in the location in which I now reside, I'm starting to see how totally screwed Canadians are in the simplest of things. Take, for example, Amazon. There is, I'm sure only Canadians know, both an "" and an "" to service either Americans or Canadians.

I was just looking for an item to purchase, one that I know is currently out and available. Since I wanted to avoid the hassle of going to Calais to get it, I looked first on ".ca". Not only is the price higher (by quite a bit more than can be explained by the slight difference in the two dollars right now) but on ".ca" it says the item normally ships in 1 to 3 weeks. Yet, if I don't mind either paying more to ship it to Canada or pay less to ship it to Calais, the exact same item from ".com" can ship within 16 hours of my placing the order right now.

What the hell?

What I am starting to realize, too, is that most of these small discrepancies between the st…

Getting Older

I'm definitely not as young as I used to be. My wife had to be to the airport by 5 am for her flight to a conference. We got up at 4 am to get ready and go. Came back from dropping her off and couldn't get back to sleep, so started my day. I reprogrammed both TiVos as well as I could, and then started working on the wood. Didn't do much on the wood before I realized how hungry I was. Came in to eat, and then decided to relax for just a moment before going back out. Next thing I know it is 3pm and I've slept for about 4.5 hours.


A Break and New Tasks

I haven't done anything with the wood today. I have one and a half ranks of wood in, and have made a big dent into the initial load of wood that was delivered by my FIL. But I needed time off from that activity and have been working on other things.

Yesterday, after working on the wood all morning, I stopped and working on wiring a new coaxial cable from the satellite dish (which can accept up to 4 discreet lines from it; we're now using 2) to the bedroom. I couldn't finish the project until after M got home, as I didn't want to punch holes in the wall without her seeing the project and having a say in where.

Late last night we got the wiring done and today I spent the early afternoon moving TiVos around and setting up the satellite receivers in each room. We now have it is installed so that the single tuner TiVo is in the front room with the HD receiver, and we will use it to record stuff on the networks primarily. The dual tuner TiVo is in the bedroom with the SD recei…

And That New Task Is...

Taking all of this...

And putting it here, in nice ranks...

I often commented that simply living here was going to make me get into better shape. Tasks like this one prove it!
BTW, just doing that half a rank, which barely put a dent in the pile of wood outside, took me a few hours and I'm sore as hell today due to it. Oh well, one log at a time and it will get done.

The Shelving Unit

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my tasks was to make a shelving unit that will store all of our DVDs and CDs. Currently, we have way too many for a conventional storage system, and we reused a bookshelf from the office to suffice while this one was built. Using this bookshelf led to the general knowledge of about how big to make the shelving unit, which was helpful.

After much debate, we settled on a general size and "design" (simpler the better, as I hadn't worked with wood in many years), and off I went to get wood and begin.

Boards purchased, laid out, and ready for sanding.

Then came the inevitable sanding. Luckily, I have a power sander my father got me a long ways back, which is a good size, works well, and for which I had a bunch of existing sanding paper in the grits that I needed.

First pass at sanding boards.

This is me during the sanding phase.

Sorry, ladies, but I'm already spoken for!

Once the initial sanding was done, I did a dry-fit of the boards an…

DirecTV, part three

So, we called and spoke with our friendly neighborhood DirecTV representative tonight, thanks again to my buddy Chris.

Previously, I had mentioned that we had three options we saw as available to resolve the outstanding DirecTV issue (either using the TiVo or manually entering the numeric code for a channel caused the HD DTV receiver to go to the HD version of that channel as the default for numeric entry for any channel number that has both feeds; i.e., USA Network is available in both a High Def (HD) and Standard Def (SD) on channel 242. The HD receiver defaults to the 242 HD version, which we don't get/pay for. Only by using the Guide or the Channel Up/Down buttons and manually editing the guide and preferred channels lists can we go to the 242 SD.

So, the three options as we saw/researched them appeared to be:
Receiving a new channel lineup from DTV that only includes the SD channel list; no HD channels would be set to our receiver allow it to default to the SD channels.Re-enabli…

You Can't Always Get What You Want, Or What You Need, Either!

So, we got what we wanted: we have local channels via our satellite dish. Yay. Go team!


It broke the TiVo setup. You see, DirecTV doesn't want you using a TiVo for their satellite service (or any other non-DTV DVR), so they make it as hard as possible to begin with (this came about when they decided to break from having TiVo as their default DVR software provider a few years ago and they went with their "own" software, which was such a knockoff of TiVo's that TiVo sued them and won. And I'm ignoring that they are in bed together again as of September 3).

Beyond making it so difficult, however, is the fact that the TiVo must send channel commands to the new HD receiver via entering the number of the channel it wants to record, and the new HD DTV receiver defaults to HD channels, even if you, like we did, choose not to get HD programming. So, for example, USA Network is on channel 242. 242 is also USA HD, which we don't get. So, if the TiVo sends "2…

DirecTV Retake

Alex picked up a new DirecTV receiver for us when he went through Bangor. This one is an HD receiver, as we had learned that you do, in fact, need an HD receiver in order to receive local channels via DTV.

Yesterday, we were in Calais, so we spoke with Becky and got everything all set up... or so we thought. When we were able to view the picture, there wasn't any. Matter of fact, and very strangely, the error message yesterday said "account not activate (711)". Today it read "channel not purchased (721)".

I had a lovely chat with my sister about having her help us by performing a three-way call so we could contact DirecTV while in our living room so we could see if/when things were fixed. However, she didn't have the necessary function and we didn't want her to pay extra for it. We contacted Chris and he had that function on his cell phone, so we had him do the three-way so we could talk with DirecTV.

Josie (may not be her actual name; is the closest to wh…

Getting It

A friend let me re-borrow her Serenity/Firefly DVDs and I'm re-watching the series. Joss Whedon gets what George Lucas has forgotten-- it's all about the small details.

The TV show Firefly didn't have a great budget, but they worked well within it. The small details, like the constant wash of the engines when in atmosphere, the grunge and gunk of the ships and the worlds, and the attention to the clothing, weaponry, and the accents/languages used all make the world seem more believable. But, even if not believable per se, it makes the audience more forgiving of the larger details that maybe don't work as well; when a computer graphic doesn't quite look right, or something else doesn't seem to fit.

That was the primary problem with Lucas' Star Wars prequels. Lucas was never a great storyteller, but in the original series he made a better attempt at making the world believable and we were willing to buy into his vision because of the believability. The prequels…

"The Hero from Elsewhere"

As a young adult, I read a novel/story called "The Hero from Elsewhere." While in many regards it was a 'typical' fantasy novel about a boy who goes to this mysterious other land and becomes its hero, it was atypical in that he was a math-geek and wrote a poem about math, which I remember to this day.
One and one is always two, Each alone, here's me, there's you The mathematics of the heart, Add together, what's apart? The sum of being friends is done, And proves that one and one makes one.
And, with that poem, the white stone and black stone that the two protagonists have merge, and merge the boy and the other person into one super-human hero who is able to fight the antagonist (Fenris the wolf?) who is trying to destroy.... something. The world maybe.
Today I spent more time than you would expect trying to find the title of the story. It took me a somewhat fortuitous set of search criteria to find a Yahoo! Answers entry that happened to have the poem in…

IRS Blues

I am, frankly, incredulous that the advice I got from the IRS representative I spoke with today is to refile my taxes and then try to get an abatement on any penalties they take out of my taxes when (not if) there is a "late fee."
I turned in my taxes in March to give the IRS extra time to deal with what I knew was going to be a difficult return. And then, when I got my wife's ITIN in early June, the letter said they were forwarding it to the IRS proper (the ITIN's are handled through a different area of the IRS than the main branch that audits and reviews) and to wait 6-8 weeks for my refund. Then I called back promptly at 6 weeks and the representative I spoke with that day said she had no record of my return. None. She showed my wife's ITIN process, but did not have and could not find my return. She recommended I call back in about 2 weeks to give them time to receive and process it.
So, I gave them a month. Four full weeks plus. I called them back today. She st…