Saturday, May 31, 2008

Home Again

We are home again from our vacation to New Hampshire. We had a great time. The weather was beautiful, as was the scenery - thank you God. I'll post more details later; I'm a bit tired now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Icarus Would Be Jealous

This looks like a lot of fun to me. Anyone else like to try it besides me?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Brain Dump - 05/18/08

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted, so this is just going to be a brain dump of things, in no logical order.

  • To answer Scott's question in a comment on my last post, I had the Chocolate Fudge Brownie at Ben & Jerry's. I normally get the Phish Food, but they were out. What's up with that? Free Cone Day did not start until noon and we went through the practically non-existent line at 12:20, and they were out?! I think my wife was right in her opinion - they didn't have any at the start of the day.
  • Last Saturday, I got the pile of leaves carted off to the compost facility. Yeah! Now what to do with that big patch of dirt where the grass died of sun light deprivation while waiting for me to remove the leaves?
  • This morning, the boys were up before we were. Usually they are pretty good. Not this morning. Stephanie was doing the Sunday School at church this morning. For snack time she had a bag (opened) of miniature Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. When I got up, I discovered Ben putting the bag of Peanut Butter Cups back in the Sunday School bag. He had a ring of chocolate around his mouth. At the same time Will was in the bathroom washing off his face. Caught red handed or chocolate mouthed in Ben's case. The trash can in the kitchen had a large number of wrappers in it. Stephanie looked at the bag and estimates that they ate about half of it. Will was very pleased with how sneaky he and Ben had been. They both got a lecture and as a consequence of their indulgence, they did not get to have any Peanut Butter Cups during snack time at church. Added to the chocolate decadence, I found sugar on the counter around the sugar bowl and on the floor below it. There was sugar stuck to the sugar spoon. Will confirmed my suspicion, they had been eating sugar with the spoon. What puts these ideas in these boys heads?
  • We went to a party of one of the boys' friends. It was at a bowling alley. We had not taken the kids bowling before. Only the kids played, except for those of us adults who were assisting our kids - we got to bowl, sort of. Will did ok. We've got to work on get a little more force behind the roll. Ben got upset after his first time up and so did not play for about half the game. Ellie bowled in his place. She had a great time. I did most of the work for her. She was able to lift the six pound balls off of the rack, though her toes had a few close calls. Ben finally decided he wanted to bowl some more and did almost as good as Will. In fact, he knocked all ten pins down once, for a spare.
  • I've gotten the front yard and half the back yard mowed between rain showers. Even weeds look better mowed.
  • The pollen is driving my sinuses crazy. Over the counter allergy medicine makes life tolerable but not great. When I walk out of work in the evenings, I can feel my nasal passages filling with mucus, my throat starting to swell and my eyes start watering and itching. My nose feels like a stuck a dandelion under it and inhaled the spoors deeply. Not fun. Isn't it amazing the mucus producing capabilities which God built into our bodies? You can blow your nose clear and less than a minute later, they are stopped up again. Ok, enough of that, running on to the next item.
  • One day I was taking my lunch time walk at work. My normal route takes me on a road behind the library that is adjacent to my office building. On this day, there were two middle aged lady librarians taking their lunch break playing catch. I thought that was great - it did not fit with the stereotype image I had of lady librarians, a la movies like "The Music Man".
  • We decided to introduce the kids to musicals. So the past two weekends, the family has gathered around the laptop to watch "Singin' in the Rain" the first weekend and "The Sound of Music" this weekend. These were mainly for Will since he's the artsy one but Ellie enjoyed them too. Ben, not as much. Neither could hold his attention for the whole time, though he did not get up and leave, just got fidgety. "Singin' in the Rain" was preferred over "The Sound of Music" by Will, mainly because the story moved along a faster clip, it was shorter and the signing and dancing were more energetic. He and been have sporadically been singing the title song and the "Good Morn'n" song.
  • For my birthday, I choose to get money and purchased myself an MP3 player along with accessories (case, car FM transmitter and charger, etc.). Yes, I finally decided to take that step into this century. After research, I choose the SanDisk Sansa e280. It's an 8 GB flash based MP3 player. I ordered it on line, so it had to be shipped. While it was on it's way, I began to rip my CD collect to our laptop. For ripping CDs, I decided to use a free ware application called MediaMonkey instead of Windows Media Player. The main reason for this is MediaMonkey allows me to rips CDs to MP3 files using a variable bit rate. Basically this makes the best use of space while still allowing the music to sound decent. I also found a music site, SpiralFrog, which allows you to down load WMA music files for free. It's advertisement supported. You have to renew your subscription, and licenses, every 30 days, but that seems to be a reasonable price to pay for free music. There's practically no Christian music, which is a bummer. However, I have found plenty to download, such as Chuck Berry, George Stait, and Glenn Miller. Does anyone have other good music download sites that are 1) legal and 2) cheap or free (preferably the latter). At present, I have over 1200 songs on the Sansa, with about half the space used.
  • The last bullet point was getting long, so I decided to go to a new bullet for this next point even though it is related to the Sansa. Once I received the Sansa, the first thing I did was to update the firmware. What a pain, initially! I downloaded the officially firmware updater utility and ran it, multiple times. Every time it would download the firmware (the progress bar attesting that it was doing such) only to display an error at the end stating the files could not be downloaded. I ended up reading some of the user forums and found out you could do the firmware update manually. I downloaded the zip file from the link provided, extracted the firmware files, moved them over to the the root directory of the Sansa, disconnected the Sansa and viola, the player updated the firmware. Easy as pie, once you got there. I still think it's terrible that the company's updater does not work enough times that the support forums have the update procedure as a sticky post.
  • This past Saturday morning, I took Ben with me to have the oil changed and the tires rotated on the mini-van, at a 7:30 a.m. appointment. I had planned to take Ben, assuming he was up by then. He was. He's usually an early bird. Surprisingly, Will got up too before we left. An even a bigger surprise is that Will did not mind in the least that I was only taking Ben with me. In the past this would have cause temper tantrum. I was very pleasantly surprise and told Will that I appreciated that and was proud of him. Ben enjoying watching the mechanics put the mini-van on the lift and the rotating of the tires.
  • I only have one more week of work before vacation. The last week of May we are going up to New Hampshire for four days, where we rented a cabin. I'm very excited. We have not been on a vacation that did not involve visiting with family (as much as I love them) since before our eldest was born. This will be just us. We are planning on doing mostly nature things such as hiking and exploring caves, though we are also planning on riding on a train pulled by a steam locomotive. Giving work my full attention this next week will be hard.
  • On this coming Tuesday, we are going as a family for "THE" ultrasound. You know, the one where you find out if the baby's wardrobe should be blue or pink.
  • Now that the weather is warmer, we've been able to start grilling. Yum. Not much beats a fresh hamburger off of the grill.
  • We've also been able to go for some walks after supper. Well, Stephanie, Ellie and I have walked. The boys ride their bikes. We had saved some of Ben's birthday money so that we could upgrade his tricycle to a bicycle (with helmet). Both boys are doing good and look soo big riding on their bikes (albeit with training wheels) with their helmets.
  • Last Sunday I was able to participate in the ordination ceremony of our pastor and friend Andy. It was a privilege. The ceremony was low key - it was a ratification of what we all knew and operated according to - that Andy is gifted and called by God to be in ministry. He and his wife have been in collegiate ministry for about 10 years in Rhode Island, with the addition of pastoring in the past couple of years or so.
  • The boys and I got hair cuts yesterday.
  • One day in the past couple of weeks, Stephanie called me up at work, sounding as if she were about to cry. Ben had cut Ellie's hair. It was a good thing for him that she could not find the exact spot but could only see the loose hair evidence. Then his luck turned bad when she discovered, while on the phone with me, that he had also cut Ellie's new shirt. He is still alive, in case your wondering.
Ok, that's it for me, for now. My brain is now empty.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Update - 05/03/08

Yes, I'm still alive. Just been busy.

Last Friday one of my best friends, Mike, flew into town for his grandmother's 90th birthday. He stayed Friday and Saturday night with us. It was good to visit with him. For Friday lunch, we met our friend Andy at Pizza Hut for the lunch buffet and that evening the three of us went to a second run theater and watched National Treasure: Book of Secrets. It was an entertaining movie and prompted me to do some research into some of the "facts" stated in the movie to find out how much of it was truly fact and how much was fiction.

It has rained several days this week, including most of this morning. I was hoping to get the pile of leaves in the back yard taken to the recycle center today, but because of the rain, that did not happen. It was also rainy on Tuesday, which was free cone day at Ben & Jerry's. I met my family and some friends at the local Ben & Jerry's store at lunch to take advantage of this event. Due to the rain, there was practically no line and it did not extend out of the door, which was great.

That's pretty much all that stands out in my mind for the past two weeks.