kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


A batch of photos from the concert I went to last week, and some other stuff too.

Clicky! )
Okay, that's all for now. Hope your week is going well!

Sigh.

May. 18th, 2016 01:55 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


On the plus side, I went to a neat new (to me) park on the way home from St. Petersburg yesterday. It's called Edward Medard Park, a little outside of Plant City, and the highlight is an area called the Sacred Hills: Southern live oak trees growing in sandy hills, which have eroded over time and left a lot of the trees' root structures exposed. It was pretty amazing, and I'll have to take the girls there sometime. They love climbing hills and trees, so they'd be in heaven here. But it was already super hot there, so it'll have to wait until cooler weather comes back. Hopefully I'll remember it when that time comes!

So today is the day my employer officially gets subsumed into what is now the 2nd-largest cable company in the US. So I expect the news and changes will start coming down soon. There's already been some--last week we had to register for our e-mail address and intranet account for the new company, and yesterday they told us about some payroll changes. I think I mentioned the pension thing, right? Hm, maybe I didn't. My company has always offered both a matched 401(k) retirement plan as well as a pension plan, which is pretty awesome since it's a rarity these days. So of course with the merger looming, a few weeks ago we got word that they were freezing the pension and would give us some options about what to do with the funds at some point in the future. So that part is interesting, since there could be a lump-sum payout option which might be nice. But I just love the logic: Here's something that makes us exceptional as an employer, and we can't have that so we're pulling the plug. Yay capitalism, indeed. Probably a sign of things to come. I am mostly concerned about whether our (quite generous) management bonus program will also go the way of the dodo.

And we're also waiting to hear about inevitable organizational changes. Right now my boss is in charge of several different but sorta-interconnected parts of the business, and he fully expects that will not be the case as we get more absorbed into the larger company. So I could very well end up with a new boss at some point in the not-too-distant future. And maybe a new role too, who knows. Which might be kinda nice, since right now I feel way underutilized and it makes me feel a little guilty and worried. Picture the scene in Office Space: What would you say you DO here?

In other news, this past Sunday we decided to head down to Downtown Disney--er, I mean Disney Springs--because Heather had read that the second parking garage had opened last week. And that's cool because our main reason for going there is the LEGO store, which is a lot closer to the second garage. So we got there and headed for that.. and found that the garage was closed! So we looped around to the first garage instead, and when we came out of that we discovered that it was the opening day for a whole new section of Disney Springs: the Town Center and the titular fake springs themselves. Since the second garage feeds people right into the middle of the Town Center, they were waiting to open it up until they were done with the ribbon-cutting festivities and whatnot. Anyway, we walked through there and were fairly impressed. The fake springs are quite something, for one thing:



And the selection of new stores was impressive. Though they're mainly high-end clothing and accessory stores, things like Sephora and Vera Bradley and Ugg, which we could care less about. Just another step in the direction of Disney catering mainly to the wealthy and pricing out everyone else, really. Still, neat to (accidentally) be there on opening day to see the new area.

In other news, I've been sickly AGAIN. Feels like I've been sick most of this year so far, if you count allergies (and I certainly do). This time it was another cold type bug, left me feeling puny for a day or two. I feel mostly better, but it's going on two weeks of blowing my nose and clearing my throat and coughing, which is surely as fun for everyone around me as it is for me personally. :)

Anyway. I think that's about it for now, not too much else exciting going on. This evening, if the forecasted thunderstorms don't get in the way, I'm planning to take the girls to the Magic Kingdom for a last hurrah before the summer blackout period kicks in.

Hope everyone out there is doing well!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Hm, that title sounds kind of ominous. It implies there's something going on. But really? Nah, same stuff, different day. Some highlights lately:

I had 3 photoshoots in 8 days last week! And all repeat business, which was kinda nice. I did a maternity shoot out at the Polynesian for a couple I know (we used to work together and I shot their wedding a year or two back). Then a Massachusetts family I shot out at WDW a couple years ago were back down for a cruise, and we met out at Cocoa Beach last weekend before they set sail. And then last Monday, a family I'd shot twice before hit me up for Round 3--EPCOT this time. Pretty nice weather for all, thankfully, though the beach was über-windy. We made the best of it, anyway. I have the first two sets all done, just need to plow through editing the last one and I'll be all caught up. Then I have another maternity shoot in early May, and a family down on vacation later in the month. And whenever the aforementioned couple's new baby arrives I'll be doing a newborn session with them. Keeping busy, kinda nice! The extra money is certainly helpful, and has already paid for some new toys. Observe:

Cut for those who don't care! )
In other musical news, I've been playing more--practicing more, I should say. Trying to polish up some areas of my playing that I've always neglected, while also trying to cram more musical theory knowledge into my aging brain, especially as it pertains to the guitar. Helps to know the rules before you trash them, right?

Oh, and one more recent purchase with my gig money: I'd been wanting a new tablet, since my aging first-gen Nexus 7 was getting more and more clunky. Given my musical aspirations I wanted one that could serve as a mobile music-making platform, so I decided to go to the dark side and get an Apple. I prefer the smaller form factor for tablets, so I decided on an iPad Mini, and had just about talked myself into going for a refurbed Mini 2 for $250 when I got an e-mail from Best Buy that they had new ones on sale for $200. Nice! So I grabbed one of those Friday, and spent a little time over the weekend setting it up. So far I really like it. Performance is snappy, screen is a good size and looks amazing, battery life seems quite good. My only real complaint so far is that a couple apps I have and use on my iPhone aren't available in iPad versions, for no good reason I can see. But there are workarounds and alternatives, so I guess that's not too terrible.

Now to actually indulge my creative side more often. And stay off of Facebook more, I've been getting unduly annoyed by stupid people on there lately, especially with this whole bathroom-bill fiasco. Win-win if I skip FB and go to tinkering with music instead. :)

Otherwise.. Work is work, though we got a treat Friday in the form of a fun team event, bowling at Downtown Disney. I hadn't been bowling for a few years--I should do that more often, it is fun. I should take the girls sometime too, see if they take to it.

Speaking of the girls, I started taking Amy to a karate class we found at a neighborhood rec center not too far from home. She likes it, and I think I might start doing it with her. That should be fun. I'm waiting for the instructor to send me the e-mail he promised, and I'll ask him if I could join in too. I'll look silly doing it, of course, but it's been on my wanna-do list for ages and would be good for me.

This past weekend we didn't roam too far from home. Saturday we headed out to a park or two up towards Sanford, and yesterday Heather had to take Hermione to a concert at a church for the morning. After that we went for a hike in the woods and found a geocache, something else I've been meaning to get back into. That reminds me, I need to log that find.

Okay, better get some work done today, even if it's just submitting an expense report for my work-related road trips last week. Hope everyone is having a fine day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I know, I've been scarce around here. Not much excuse, really. Can't say work has been especially busy! Though I have been spending a decent amount of time researching and planning for our upcoming road trip. We leave a week from Sunday, yikes! We had to juggle things around a little based on my step-sister's schedule, so we're going to drive up to Savannah and spend 2 nights there, then we'll go up through Columbia to Greenville, and spend the night in Spartanburg. Then on to Charlotte, where we'll stay with my sister for a couple nights. And then we're planning to make the drive home in one day with a stop somewhere (probably Columbia) to break it up, though we could decide to stop for a night somewhere along the way if we like, and get home Saturday instead of Friday. Should be a good time, I hope the weather turns out nice for us!

Otherwise, not much to report. Work is work, home is home. This weekend should be fun enough. Saturday morning is our neighborhood's annual Easter thing, a pancake breakfast and then an egg hunt for the kids. We always enjoy that. Sunday is the annual neighborhood festival in College Park where Heather's band always plays--I take the girls and we roam around the craft booths and whatnot while they play, and grab lunch after. Then that afternoon we're expecting storms, looks like, so it sounds like a good time to stay home and relax. I did have an engagement session at EPCOT last weekend which I need to finish editing, good opportunity for that.

And that's about it for now, I think. Hope you're all doing well too!

CoughCough

Feb. 22nd, 2016 02:37 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Almost 3 weeks and I am STILL fighting the Great Phlegm Wars. Constantly trying (and failing) to clear my throat, and coughing even though the coughing does nothing. It is annoying. But it shall pass. Someday.

This morning.. should I even post about this? We live in an area with city water but not city sewer, so we have a septic system. And we'd never had the thing pumped out, so we decided we should do that before we have actual problems. So that happened. All was fine, and I learned a bit. The odd thing is that there's a pump in the system somewhere, the purpose of which is to pump water to the drainfield in the back yard. And the pump has been unplugged for who knows how long. But even so, everything looked okay with the tank and all. The septic guy was a bit flabbergasted, called it a miracle. Though in my experience miracles don't tend to involve anything septic-system-related. But whatever.

Weekend was pretty okay. Saturday we went over to the coast to visit my Mom, because Amy said she wanted to do that for her upcoming birthday. She'll be 5 tomorrow, hard to believe! Anyway, that was a pretty good visit. We had lunch at a yummy Mexican place we like (and my sister met us there--she is still a moron). Afterwards we went to check out the house my sister is planning to buy, since it was just around the corner from the restaurant. It's a HUD home with some issues, but for the price it's pretty impressive. Nice big separate garage that includes a bonus room and a little bathroom. And the house itself, apparently when they built the separate garage they converted the attached garage into additional living space, so the kitchen and living room were both huge. Sis has huge dreams for the place, though how she plans to accomplish them when she and her husband both live on disability insurance is beyond me. Should I also note that she's a big Trump supporter? Like I said, she's a moron.

Sunday it was decided that I'd take the girls to EPCOT and get us new WDW passes. We'd been tossing the idea around for a bit and decided to go ahead. I'm shooting a colleague's wedding this summer, and she asked if we could do the engagement session at EPCOT. I told her that wasn't an option since we were between passes, but then I got to thinking about it, and thought why not? I like to have a pass for myself and photo sessions when they come up, and I generally make enough from photography to cover the cost. So then the question was, who else gets a pass? The wife just wasn't interested--she's not a big fan these days because she says the place is always busy, and she's not too wrong (though I think she doth protest too much). But the girls and I still like to go, and it's particularly unfair to Amy since she's at a perfect age for the place, and would be missing out since we've almost always had passes when her sisters were her age. So at first I suggested just me and Amy, but we decided that wasn't fair to the other two either, so everyone but the wife got one. It's a win for her because it gives me a place to take the girls for a good chunk of the day now and then, which will give her a nice break to sew or clean or just relax in a quiet house with no rugrats. Nice, right? So anyway, we headed out there and had a nice time for a few hours. Didn't do much to speak of, just got our passes, had lunch at The Land, and made the grand circle tour of the world. And I scouted some nice nooks and crannies for that upcoming engagement shoot.

Speaking of photography, I need to get back on the ball with that. I've been feeling like my skills have gone downhill, and that was reinforced this morning while I was waiting for the septic guy to finish. Amy wanted to see photos of herself as a baby, after Heather was telling her we moved in to the house when Hallie was a baby. So they were looking at my Flickr photos from back then, and I realized I just don't take photos that good these days, for whatever reason. I need to figure out why that is, and what to do about it. I should really fire up Shutterbuggery again, if for no other reason than to pose some exercises for myself and whomever else cares.

That said, my Creative Commons photos seem to get picked up pretty regularly. I was paging through a recent Orlando Weekly, which is the free alternative newspaper thing around these parts, and there was a photo of the old mill at DeLeon Springs State Park that looked awfully familiar. I was like, "Is that mine?" And sure enough, there was a credit to my Flickr username. And on FB, someone posted a link to an article with some photos of the Bulow Creek sugar mill ruins, and the majority of photos were mine. Always kinda fun to see that. :) I need to get those chops back up as well.

After EPCOT I took Amy to the home improvement store to get lumber for the additional LEGO cabinet shelves, and tackled that yesterday before dinner. Didn't take long at all! And I think the LEGO cabinet is pretty awesome. I'll have to get some photos to share, because while it's silly to have a huge cabinet full of LEGO, and even more silly to be proud of such a thing.. we do have it, and I am kinda proud. :)

Have a great afternoon!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)




This morning I got the rest of my stuff moved over to the new office and (mostly) put away, so I thought I'd take a couple iPhone snaps to give you the gist. I have some more posters and whatnot I can hang on the walls, but I dunno if I'll put that much effort into it. Marilyn came along and that's the important thing. :)

I feel like I forgot some updates when I posted last. Let's see.. while I was struggling through my illness one of the fence posts for our backyard gate broke (okay, okay, I broke it), so I fixed that over the weekend. Really I'd like to replace a good bit of our fence, and that thought must be in the air because yesterday when I got home our neighbor to the rear was having a stretch of theirs replaced. Might have to do it as a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses sort of thing now!

Starting to think about our next family trip. I've had an idea for a while now, fly to Birmingham (Alabama, that is) and rent a car, and spend a few days making our way up I-65 through Tennessee and Kentucky on the way to Indianapolis, whence we'd fly home. There's lots I saw in Birmingham and Indy that I know the girls would enjoy, and along the way we'd pass through our old Nashville stomping grounds, plus Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I'm thinking it would make a good fall trip, though--the October colors in southern Indiana were glorious. So for the spring I think we're considering something closer, just a shortish road trip. Atlanta, maybe. Not a bad time for that, gas prices as low as they are!

Oh yeah, I remembered the other thing! Saturday I woke up feeling sickly and planned on a relaxing day doing as little as possible. So of course instead we decided to indulge our hobby of rearranging furniture. Maybe I've mentioned it, but we have a fairly large LEGO collection. The girls like to play with LEGO, of course, so we like to keep it available. But I had it stored in a big 5-drawer metal lateral filing cabinet, which was a) rather ugly and b) fairly inconvenient, since you can only open one drawer at a time. So I'd been tossing around the idea of replacing that thing with something like an armoire instead, with shelves inside so everything can be hidden when the doors are closed, but easy to access with the doors open. And as it turned out, we had just such a thing in our upstairs bathroom. See, the previous owners of the house were big on hand-built antique stuff, so the bathroom vanities and a few pieces of furniture they left behind were just that. The armoire upstairs was fine for towels and linens, but always felt a bit out of place to us anyway. So we decided Heather could use the metal filing cabinet in her sewing room for fabric and patterns and whatnot, and we'd bring the armoire downstairs for LEGO. And that turned out to be much easier said than done, because the doorway out of our bedroom is 80" tall, and the armoire is 81" tall thanks to an arched top and trim. It was a bit of a comedy of errors for a while. We tried to get it through the door several ways and actually managed to trap ourselves in the little alcove at the top of the stairs, with the armoire completely wedged and blocking our bedroom doorway--I had to climb over the rail and down the outside of the staircase, and then climb a ladder into our bedroom window to pull the thing back through and set Heather free. :) But eventually I figured it out, and only almost got crushed into goo once getting the thing downstairs. And all's well that ends well, right? I'll have to get a photo of that too, but first I want to add a couple more shelves in the armoire for the smaller bins of LEGO. First World Problems, right?

Speaking of LEGO, have I mentioned how bad I want the Ghostbusters Firehouse? Oh man. We went to the LEGO store at Disney Springs a couple weeks ago to see if they had it, and it was every bit as awesome as I expected.

Okay, I should find some actual work to do today. Hope everyone is having a good afternoon, or whatever it is when you're reading this. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Been scarce around here lately, sorry. Mostly because I've been sickly, and it's a rough one. Not sure if it's a particularly nasty cold or some strain of flu, but it lingers and keeps morphing symptoms. At first it was general blah with a touch of fever, then the fever spiked up and I felt terrible and feverish and nauseous for a day, and since then it's been various shades of stuffy/runny nose, gooked-up throat and dry/wet cough, some GI distress, you name it. Amy had it first and she STILL has a bit of a runny nose after 15 days now. This is day 8 for me, and Hermione's been stuffy and coughing for about the same. Heather seems to have avoided it except for a day of sore throat, and we hoped Hallie might escape too--until she crashed hard yesterday, fever, vomiting, couldn't even keep water or medicine down. Today she's much improved in that respect, but still taking it easy, so I'm working from home this afternoon while Heather took Hermione to band. Hopefully we're all on the downhill side of it, whatever it is.

I was at work this morning and started moving offices. Someone was let go recently, and with my position change last year, that office makes more sense for me than where I've been sitting. So I got the key and cleaned up all the stuff the former tenant left behind, and got my computer set up for a start. Tomorrow I'll make trips to haul the rest of my stuff over and find homes for everything. It's not quite as large as my old office, and there's not as much room for stuff, but both of those are actually good things--I tend to accumulate stuff as space permits, so perhaps a smaller space means I'll control that better. We'll see.

While I'm talking work, my boss let me know yesterday what my upcoming bonus for last year is going to be, and it's going to be pretty darn good. I turned off my federal tax withholding in preparation, because it always takes such a huge chunk out of bonuses. I think a lot of it is spoken for to catch up on bills, and to pay for our recent roof work, but there should be some left over for fun. We'll have to see!

They came to replace our skylights on Friday, and that went well enough. They look good, and so far they do seem to be an improvement for noise when it rains too. And the leak seems gone so far, which was the main idea. Now we're considering replacing some windows, which are old and not at all energy-efficient. Again, we'll see what's left of the bonus, I guess.

I guess that's about it for now. I'll be back around more once I stop having to blow my nose every few minutes, I promise. :)

Oh, and how about that Bernie Sanders, eh?
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


Manatees! I'll get to that.

So let's see, stuff to catch up on!

Friday I had a couple meetings with my boss and his boss (our VP), so I got to make a second drive for the week over to St. Petersburg. This is going to be an awesome expense report, I need to get that submitted today! The meetings went well--one was about how the merger is taking shape, and it actually left me feeling pretty optimistic. The big fear, of course, has been that the new company will try to slash costs and consolidate operations as much as possible, meaning lots of layoffs. But it actually sounds like their plan is just the opposite: they intend to leave most of the local operations in place, and not only do they not plan major layoffs, they expect to increase internal headcount by bringing the calls we currently outsource back in-house. Our VP said that when the deal closes, the new company will have 80k employees, and that's expected to increase to 100k as they bring that volume back in. And the company will have a presence in 41 states, so the opportunities for both advancement and relocation will be much better. Not that I'm actively looking to go anywhere soon, but it's always good to have options. Maybe some of what we're being told is smokescreen, but that's not the feeling I have. We'll see, but I guess we aren't expecting any major changes around here until next year at the earliest.

After the meetings, I went to check out a park not too far from the office. I was a little hesitant driving in--the entrance was at the back of a fairly run-down neighborhood, and the first thing you see driving in is a little retention pond strewn with trash. But the park itself ended up being pretty awesome! A nice long boardwalk through wetlands, essentially a huge cypress swamp at the edge of a lake. It was a gorgeous day, so I had a nice walk and saw some good critters: a few juvenile alligators (and one rather huge adult) lounging in the sun, a few armadilloes, the usual birds and whatnot. Nice place. There are a few places over there I want to show the girls, we'll have to make the trek on a nice weekend. Maybe next weekend!

Then I happened to pass by my usual Goodwill over there on the way home, so I said what the heck. I didn't spend much time there, because I quickly found something I couldn't pass up--I've been meaning to get a new ceiling fan for Hallie's room, since the one in there is old and kinda noisy. Found one in the box, not new but in good shape, for $12. I figured that was worth a try. Haven't installed it yet, I'll have to do that some evening this week.

Saturday we decided to go walk around Downtown Disney--sorry, now it's called Disney Springs. Mainly we wanted to see if the LEGO store there has the awesome new Ghostbusters firehouse in stock. They did, but we didn't want to drop $350 on it just yet. Bonus time, perhaps. :) Or I should book a couple photography gigs and earmark the proceeds.

Saturday evening I was excited to go to the rare (for me, anyway) concert! I think I mentioned it before--last summer Def Leppard had a date in Tampa with Tesla and Styx, and I didn't get tickets. Turned out that was a good call, because the venue was an outdoor amphitheater and there was a big thunderstorm which kept a couple of the bands from even taking the stage. So when I found out that same lineup had added a date at Orlando's arena, I jumped on it as a Christmas present for myself. :) So anyway, I headed out, ready to rock. I was going to park in the garage attached to the arena because that's convenient, so I got in the line of cars for that--and quickly saw something was amiss. For some reason they weren't letting any cars into the garage. I rolled down my windows and heard someone say something about police activity in the garage. Hm, okay. Right on the other side of the street were a couple of private parking lots, so I hopped over there instead. But I didn't have the cash and they didn't take credit, so the attendant said no problem, just park and then you can walk down to the ATM and come back. So I did that--but on my way back to the parking lot I overheard people saying the show had been cancelled. I hung around for a few minutes until I was convinced that was the official word, and then headed home. Bummer! I'd heard Def Lep's lead singer had laryngitis, which prevented him from performing on a cruise last week. Sure enough, that was the reason for the cancel. I guess that's just as well, I'd prefer to see them in proper form anyway. They intend to reschedule, and my ticket will be good for that, of course. I just hope they're able to reschedule on a day I can go, and with the same lineup of bands! It's kinda funny, Def Leppard and I seem cursed. Way back in 1988, my step-sister and her boyfriend at the time (later her husband, now her ex-husband) very kindly tried to take me to see them on the Hysteria tour, and his car broke down on the way so we never made it. Now almost 30 years later I try again, and it's the band who's a no-show. Sheesh.

Sunday was another nice day, so we headed out to Blue Spring State Park. In the winter the park's spring run is very popular with manatees, who seek out its warmer waters (the springs around here are around 72F year-round) on cool nights. Park staff conduct a headcount of manatees in the spring run each morning and post it for visitors--a good morning is usually around 150, so we were a bit shocked to drive up and see the count posted at 277! Very cool, though. And we managed to get there early enough that the park wasn't too crowded yet--it tends to fill up quickly on winter days when the manatees are there in force, and on summer days when people come to swim instead. So that was a good time.

On the way home we stopped at a few stores, including GameStop where I indeed sold back that Wii game I found at Goodwill last week. I paid $3, and since they were running a 50%-bonus deal I ended up getting $16 in credit for it. Nice! So I turned around and bought a couple more LEGo Dimensions fun packs. The girls have been enjoying playing that, so I figured it was a good investment. I've already got that compartmentalized container I bought last week almost full!

Today I'm back to work, and a little anxious to see how tonight's caucuses in Iowa turn out. As Paul Krugman put it, the Republican side of the contest is easy enough to predict: "someone horrifying will come in first, and someone horrifying will come in second. The names are less clear." But on the Democratic side, this will be the first chance to see whether the huge crowds and numbers of donations Bernie Sanders has been able to attract can translate to turnout at the polls. It's really up to the Millennials, and whether they will turn their excitement into attendance. If they show up, I say Sanders carries the majority. If not, it's Hillary's day. From the standpoint of delegates at the nominating convention, it matters hardly at all--but the momentum Bernie would get from wining both Iowa and New Hampshire next week would be huge. Similarly, if Hillary handily wins Iowa, it could boost her momentum to make her more competitive in NH, and going forward. And no candidate going back to 1980 has won their party's nomination without winning Iowa, New Hampshire, or both. Definitely going to be interesting, whatever happens.

Okay, have some more photos from the events described above. :)
Clicky! )
That's it for now, thanks for reading and have a fantastic day!

La Dee Da

Jan. 27th, 2016 03:21 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


I'm procrastinating work, so you can have an update. Yay!

• Hallie's dental procedure was Monday, and the short version is that it was.. okay. See, way back when she was 2 (she's 8 now) she managed to knock out one of her top front baby teeth. It came out cleanly, so there wasn't much to be done about it. But of course the adult tooth underneath was nowhere near ready to come in, so the hole healed over a bit too well. Her other front tooth fell out naturally, and the adult tooth came in fine, but no sign of the other one. So the dentist finally decided to make an incision to give that tooth a little help. And that was the plan for Monday. But they ended up also doing a frenectomy, which is the removal of tissue further up the gumline, which I guess can cause a gap between the front teeth. So the whole thing ended up taking longer than expected, but she was a trooper about it. She came out of it looking a bit miserable and pathetic, with gauze stuffed all up under her lip and lots of drool from being numbed out. But they did the procedures with a laser, which apparently keeps the bleeding pretty minimal, so that's good. And she bounced back pretty quickly--after the procedure we went to Build-a-Bear so she could have a new friend as a reward for going through that, and then we went to dinner and she was even able to eat a little. Yesterday she seemed pretty normal, still a bit ginger about eating, but otherwise fine. She says it doesn't hurt, and she's been good about letting Heather apply a soothing gel that's supposed to help with the healing (it better, they charged us $70 for the damn stuff!). And Heather said she already sees the tooth starting to come through, which is pretty awesome. It's been so long since we've seen her without her gap-toothed grin! It may take some getting used to. :)

• Had some good thrift store finds lately! We usually go to Goodwill, because the organization is pretty good, the prices aren't bad, and the stores are fairly nice. We went to one this past weekend and the girls came across an actual American Girl doll in an authentic AG dress--for $3! So that's a nice addition to their collection. Its limbs are a bit loose, but I think that's fixable with some new elastic. Then yesterday on my way home from Tampa I stopped at one I hadn't visited before. It wasn't a particularly nice location. But I found the 3-disc Blu-Ray/DVD version of the last Harry Potter movie and a Wii U game (Monster Hunter 3) for $3 each, and exactly the sort of compartmentalized container I had in mind for my LEGO Dimensions bits and pieces, and a nice alarm clock for Hermione's bedroom. I dunno if I'll keep the Wii game, but GameStop will give me almost $9 for it so that's not a bad return. :)

• Had a guy out last week to look at the roof and skylights and prepare an estimate. But then I didn't hear from him again! Turned out he'd come down with a stomach flu, so he finally got me a partial estimate yesterday. I made a counteroffer, so we'll see how that goes. :) It would be nice to get that done, though spending the money for it won't be so nice.

• Speaking of money, my W-2 for 2015 finally came out and I went ahead and filed our taxes the same day. Not too bad. We owe, but not nearly as much as the past couple years since I had some taken out of my checks last year. And I was able to deduct the sales tax from when we bought the van, which shaved a bit off. I should have done that a couple years ago, when I bought the car! I don't think I realized it was an option. Oh well.

Um.. that's all I can think of at the moment. Hope your day has been swell!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


The microscope is very cool! Didn't get a lot of time to play with it over the weekend, but we looked at some of the set of prepared slides I also got, and I messed around with the camera mount, as you can see above. That's a bit of dandelion fluff, but not magnified too extremely. I need to mess with it some more, figure out some stuff. Pleased so far, though!

I started researching telescopes too, and pretty quickly realized that the ones I'd want are out of my budget right now. I'd like to get into astrophotography, and to do that well you need a good motorized tracking mount, which does not come cheap. But then I discovered a network of folks who do actual deep-sky astrophotography--and get some breathtaking results--with nothing more than a dSLR and standard lenses. It's a rather involved process, but still one I'd like to try sometime. A tracking mount would still be helpful, but there are ways around that, including building a simple equatorial mount out of a strap hinge and $5 worth of nuts and bolts. Gonna try it!

Along with the microscope came the bearings for the pool pump, and am pleased to say that little project was a complete success. I had to invest in some new tools to get it done, though. I got the motor apart and found I needed a special pair of pliers to remove the bearing retainer ring, so I ran out and got that. And then I discovered that the bearing puller I found in the workshop wasn't even remotely up to the task, so I had to order a good one, which happily made short work of that task. The front bearing was definitely the culprit--it was difficult to turn, and very grindy when it did. So I replaced that one, and left the back one because it felt fine. Got it all reassembled, threw the switch with no small amount of trepidation, and now it's nice and quiet, probably even quieter than the less-powerful motor it replaced. I also put back on the proper impeller and diffuser (they're different based on the power of the motor) so it should pump more efficiently too. The wife asked why I didn't do all that months ago! Good question. :)

Speaking of home stuff, after I posted last week, a front moved through with a heavy band of rain, and Heather reported that our living room roof leak was back in full force. So I guess that's now a top priority to get fixed with my bonus money. I strongly suspect it originates around the skylights in the roof above the leaky area, so I'm planning to go ahead and get those replaced. They're plastic and sound like drums when it rains hard, so I think a nice set of glass ones would fix that, and be a lot more thermally insulated as well. A guy stopped by yesterday while we were all out to take a quick look and provide an estimate for that job, which was about what I expected. But I suspect there are some more repairs needed due to the leak, certainly some ceiling repair in the living room. Though maybe I can handle that myself, if the sheetrock itself doesn't need to be replaced. I guess we'll see. I have another guy coming out Thursday to take a look and provide an estimate, so maybe that will give me a better picture. I'd like to get moving on that pretty quick, I guess. Luckily it's the dry season!

MIL's visit went pretty well. The only full day we had with her (and my sister-in-law, who brought her over) was Sunday. We went up to Mount Dora for lunch and to roam around the downtown shopping district there, which was fun. And the weather started out all gloomy but turned really lovely as the day went on. So in the afternoon we left MIL and the kids at home, and Heather and her sister and I went for a nice walk at Lake Lotus. Good times.

Yesterday I had the day off for the MLK holiday, so I took Hallie over to Melbourne to meet up with my Dad for lunch, and then to visit with the tour of WWII aircraft that comes through every year. Great weather for that as well, and Hallie and I had fun crawling through the B-17 and B-24, snapping pics as we went. I think she took more than I did! I just barely started going through the pics, but I'm sure I'll post some up when I get them done. :)

And that's about it. Back to work today, with our weekly staff meeting coming up in a half an hour. But the boss is dialing in because he's in a meeting all afternoon, so hopefully that means it will be a short one. I hope everyone's week is off to a good start!

Oh, and RIP Glenn Frey--I've always dug the Eagles. I can recall as a kid, using our electric typewriter to type up the lyrics to "Hotel California," which (literally, I guess!) struck a chord with me even then. Great songwriter, definitely a loss. This year has been crazy with the celebrity deaths so far--a friend online suggested that it would seem George R.R. Martin is writing the script for 2016. Hmf.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Just things going on, and floating around my brain, bullet-point style:

• Just pulled the trigger on buying a microscope. I mentioned to the wife that with my upcoming annual bonus I'd like to get some good optics: a decent microscope and telescope. We have a little beginner's reflector telescope, and a kiddie digital microscope, but neither are all that good, and frankly I've never been a fan of kiddie and dumbed-down stuff like that. The idea is to pique an interest without spending a lot of money, sure, but if the result is frustration because you immediately run into the limitations of the thing.. that can have the opposite effect, you know? So the microscope is a nice, sturdy metal one, trinocular so I can slap a camera on the top eyepiece and leave the pair of binocular eyepieces available. So I ordered the camera adapter as well, and a set of prepared slides so we'll have stuff to look at immediately, and blank slides for stuff the girls find. Should be a hit. Now to research the telescopes!
• We've been getting into spring cleaning early this year! With the new year our county (finally) rolled out automated garbage and recycling collection, and provided huuuuge 95-gallon bins for each. We've been taking advantage to fill those suckers to the brim with boxes and other big things we've had stashed in the garage and around the house. Not that we couldn't have gotten rid of the stuff before, but having the big containers really makes it easy. And now that I've cleared a few spots outside, I'm inspired to do some landscaping. I'm hoping to use some bonus money to replace some of our wooden fencing as well, it looks ragged. Maybe even get some sod replaced, that's never looked great. I guess we'll see. If nothing else, I have some notions of adding pavers to some spots, and maybe adding some new plants here and there. And I should finally sand and seal the arbor bench thing I built a few years back. And there's always the Library Project. I should make a list.
• Speaking of projects, a while back I had to replace our pool pump motor--again. The one I replaced was less than a year old, but the pump itself had been sporting a small leak--it's a salt water pool, so a few months of leaking was enough to rust out the motor housing. Grr. The new motor I got a good deal on as an open-box, and it does work--but it's way (WAY) louder than it should be. So I also ordered a new set of bearings to swap in, I'm hoping that and maybe some other lubrication will quiet the thing down a bit.
• How 'bout that Sanders campaign, huh? If you follow me on FB you already know my joy, but things are really looking good for ol' Bernie. The first polls of 2016 show him widening his lead over Hillary in NH, starting to surpass her in Iowa, bringing the national (national!) gap to within the margin of error, and--perhaps most importantly--outperforming HC in every poll of hypothetical general-election matchups. It's amazing to see, and really very encouraging. If he pulls off wins in IA and NH, no matter how small, I think the momentum will be even more on his side than it already is, the media will finally have to say okay, maybe he's not the no-hoper we've been portraying him as, and all those fence-sitters and people who haven't paid him much attention so far will start thinking maybe he's worth voting for after all. And if all that happens, it won't make a bit of difference what happens on the GOP side. The only question at that point will be whether the Dems can recapture the House along with the Senate, which is unlikely, but we can hope. :)
• I had a number of photo sessions over the past few weeks (two of which I still need to finish editing, oops). There was the family in Oviedo right after Christmas, an extended-family thing in Kissimmee after New Year's, and later that week a short family session at one of the Disney hotels. In a couple weeks I have an engagement shoot with a couple whose wedding I'm shooting in July. I had an inquiry for a June wedding that I was actually pretty excited about because the location looked great, but they ditched me. I haven't even been advertising lately, really--I should do that since now I don't have much booked. And the weather is finally nice!
• Poor Hallie. When she was 2 or so, she had an incident that knocked out one of her top front teeth, so she's had that gap ever since. When she started going to the dentist he kept an eye on it, and said when the other front tooth fell out and started growing back we'd see if the adult tooth under the knocked-out incisor would also start coming in--if not, it would need a little help to get through the gum. As you might guess, it didn't, so in a couple weeks she goes in for a quick procedure to make an incision for that tooth to start coming through. Hopefully it will be no big deal, but being a huge dentist-phobe for no good reason, I'm anxious on her behalf. :)
• Like half of America, I sped through Making a Murderer on Netflix over the past week or two. Quite a show, that. I am loath to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it but wants to, so I will restrain myself. But it's all pretty infuriating, the stuff in that show. I didn't come away from it convinced of the innocence of the two men on trial, but utterly convinced that the legal system did not perform well during the entire process. To say the least.
• As part of my goal to be more musical this year, I was learning a few new songs to play on the guitar, so I'm pleased with that. If I'm not too embarrassed I should record myself as I get good at some of these songs, maybe share them here. But I'll probably be embarrassed. :)
• This weekend my mother-in-law is down for a visit, so she and my sister-in-law will be staying at a nearby hotel and we'll likely roam around the area doing fun stuff, weather permitting. And her foot permitting too, apparently she injured it recently and has been having trouble walking. Hopefully it will be feeling a bit better in a few days! Then I get Monday off for MLK Day, and that happens to coincide with the arrival of the tour of WWII-era aircraft that swings through the area each year. The nearest stop is Melbourne, so I'm hoping to drive over there, probably just me and Hallie since she's interested in climbing around in airplanes. Weather permitting, again.
• Yesterday I was over in St. Pete for our staff meeting, and on the way back the weather was glorious so I stopped by Weedon Island Preserve for a walk. There were almost no crabs this time, though--last time I visited little fiddler crabs were all over the boardwalk and in the mangroves, it was awesome. But at least it was a great day for a little walk. On the way out I noticed a little memorial along the side of the road--apparently nearby was the site of a 2000 helicopter crash, wherein 3 crewmembers died when their Bayflite medical chopper hit a radio tower and crashed. Hadn't heard about that one.

Okay, enough for now. Better get some work done before calling it a day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Another year-end thing I sometimes do is a recap of the year in photos. And usually there are a metric crap-ton of 'em. But to keep it (more) brief, this year I'm restricting myself to just one photo for each month. So let's see what I come up with, shall we?

January:

Clicky! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I always consider the fact that New Year's is such an arbitrary thing. Who decided that January should be the first month of the year? Makes more sense to me to start and end the year on some sort of astronomical event, a solstice or equinox. And as for resolutions, again it's arbitrary. Any day--any moment--is as good as any other to decide to change, or to set out to accomplish something. Narrowing that notion down to one day a year is pretty counterproductive, if you think about it for a moment.

But oh well, it's never stopped me from pausing to reflect and reorient anyway. :) So I've been looking over a few of my New Year's entries from years gone by. And it's a little depressing, I have to say. Last year's was pretty vague and a bit melancholy. But for 2014 I'd laid out some fairly specific goals for myself, to wit:

-At least once per month, do something alone with one or more of the girls.
-Write and record at least 3 new songs.
-Learn to play and sing at least 10 cover tunes, enough to put on a short impromptu solo show with an acoustic guitar.
-Get back to learning piano. And finish restoring the damn piano while you're at it.
-Pick 5 photographic skills to learn or improve (e.g., posing subjects, macro, astro, off-camera lighting, long-exposure).
-Keep track of books read/movies watched (LJ is a fine place for this).
-Limit soda intake to one per day; that stuff will kill you.
-At least twice per week, get some good exercise: hike, jog, bike, kayak, something!
-In conjunction with the above, spend less time on your rear at the PC and more time exploring the outdoors.
-A good way to spend more time outdoors and with the kids: geocaching! Get active and find at least 50 caches this year.
-Get the photo biz going strong again: at least one paid gig per month on average, and 4 weddings at full price.

And again I'm sad to say, the past 2 years haven't seen much of that come to fruition. I've been a little better at doing stuff with the girls, especially our trips to DC and NYC. Instead of restoring the damn piano, we sold it and replaced it with a nice digital piano instead. The soda intake hasn't much improved, and I started jogging for exercise but stopped. I've talked about learning and writing songs for years and done very little of that. I keep meaning to get back into geocaching with the kids, but something always derails that one too. The photo biz has picked up a little, but hasn't really been a focus. And as anyone who follows me on FB knows, I still spend way too much time there. But that's my politickin' place, and with an election coming up next year.. it's important, dammit! :)

So anyway, I still like those goals and I intend to refresh them for the new year. And we even get an extra day to accomplish stuff in 2016, yay! So I think I'll add one more: Write some stuff for money. I think there are plenty of websites I could contribute to, and that would be a good creative outlet (plus some extra cash!).

Happy New Year to you all--I hope it's a great one for everyone. Thanks for reading, and commenting, and caring.

I was also reminded of Trampled by Turtles in an old New Year's entry, so have another. :)

kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
It's going to be a slow and quiet day here at the office, methinks, so I may as well do this year-in-review thing.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
The first things that come to mind are travel-related: I went to Canada (and Niagara Falls!) for the first time, and to New York City. And we saw a bunch of new stuff on our trip to Maine and New Hampshire, and our drive up to the Carolinas. Otherwise.. nope, pretty normal year, can't think of any other big firsts.

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I generally resolve to be more creative, and to eat better and exercise more. I would say I was a pretty big failure on all fronts, though I did at least attempt to get into a routine of jogging once or twice a week. That's fallen apart, though, so I will try to re-dedicate myself to that, and to the creativity thing as well.

Cut! )

Ho Ho Ho.

Dec. 23rd, 2015 09:35 am
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Wow, hard to believe it's already almost Christmas, already almost a new year! Let me say upfront, from this agnostic to you and yours, a very Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate. And if you celebrate nothing, then Happy Wednesday. :)

I've been a poor LJ citizen lately, I fear. I've kept up to date with my flist, but I haven't been commenting much, and posting hardly at all myself. I intend to get better. But I'm contemplating going into the new year by paring my flist down to just those of you with whom I feel I've made a real connection. It's not that I dislike reading anyone on my list, not at all. But if I find myself refraining from commenting because I feel too much like a stranger, maybe it's better to go, you know? Just thinking out loud.

So Christmas.. Like I said, I consider myself agnostic, actually leaning fairly heavily towards atheist, at least in terms of any sort of sentient, anthropomorphic deity watching us all masturbate. But I still dig Christmas. I like the trappings and sights and sounds of the season, I like the warm-hearted spirit it still occasionally brings (in between churlish bouts of the manufactured War On Christmas, anyway), and I've always liked the notion of celebrating the winter solstice--the darkest day of the year, and the beginning of our collective trek back into the light. Plus these days it's fun to play Santa for the kids, of course.

But it feels like a very low-key holiday this year, almost an afterthought. I suspect the weather has much to do with that. It's been unseasonably warm all fall, with the exception of one cool day and two cool nights last week. For Christmas Day we're expecting highs around 85F, feeling more like 91F. It's hard to feel Christmas-y whilst sweating, as I'm sure my my Aussie friends can attest! We seem to be right there with you this year.

Gift-wise this year feels a bit light, too, nothing huge to report. The girls typically ask for just one or two main things, and leave the rest up to us as surprises. Hermione asked for a rock tumbler and a particular LEGO set, Hallie really didn't come up with anything special to request, and Amy makes up for that with a veritable laundry list, though she's never satisfied anyway. :) I got Heather a few smallish things I know she wants or will like, and she bought herself something as her main present. Pretty much the same for me too--she's gotten me a couple things, but my main gift I bought for myself. Not as much fun, but at least we know we're getting things we'll like. :)

I've realized this year that grammatically speaking, my favorite Christmas carol is "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." Most people leave the comma out, but I think it's important. The gentlemen aren't necessarily merry themselves, but the narrator is wishing them to be rested merry, if that makes sense. And the lyrics have a nice wordsmithy lilt as well. "From God our Heavenly Father a blessed angel came, and unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same." I just like that wording, for some reason. Yes, I know I'm a bad atheist. :)

Family-wise, we're going over to see my Mom on Boxing Day (not that that's a thing here), and planning to meet up with my Dad for lunch and a walk somewhere the following day. And then I took next Monday off from work, mainly to relax and do nothing before coming back. Though that's usually a very quiet and stress-free week at the office anyway, which I always enjoy.

Speaking of work, I'm waiting to hear about my raise for the new year. I know my boss has the info in hand, he just hangs on to it until we can get together to discuss. Oh well. I don't expect it to be a big bump, it usually isn't. And with the merger hanging over all our heads, I wonder if they're being especially conservative this year anyway. Still a lot of uncertainty about all that, though it's looking like the merger is likely to be approved. Next year should be interesting on the work front, though whether 'interesting' will mean good changes or bad is very much up in the air.

The Steam Winter Sale is underway! That's bad. I should take a lesson from the fact that I need to look up most games on the various bundle sites to see whether I already own them or not. If I have no idea what's in my collection, that might be a clue that it's big enough. :)

Got a few photoshoots coming up, family things. And today I'm meeting a co-worker for lunch to discuss shooting her wedding next summer. I'm not especially excited about it, I must say--the guy she's marrying is also an employee here, and not someone I've ever been very fond of. But the lady is nice enough, and we can certainly use the money, so..

Okay, enough for now, I guess. I do hope everyone has a great holiday, and makes some lasting and fond memories. That's what it's all about, anyway. Thanks for being a part of my LJ experience. :)

And here, have my favorite version of the aforementioned carol. Not sure why it repeats a bit at the end, ignore that. :)

kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


Been scarce around here for a while! No excuse, really, just life churning forward and me along for the ride, I s'pose. I think a bullet-style entry is the only way to go here.

• Forgive the Upper Midwesternisms of my subject line. Been watching the second season of Fargo, which is awesome. I really dug the first season, but I must say the second is even better. And they recently announced a third, so whoo-hoo! Good stuff.
• Also been working my way through The Walking Dead. Not bad at all, but man oh man is that show an emotional wringer. They have no shame, killing off people I was quite fond of. I must admit I took to cheating on IMDb to see how many more episodes this or that character had in store, or if they continue into the present season. I'm somewhere in season 5 presently. I'm enjoying it, but.. it seems a really difficult concept to sustain for so long, you know? It keeps wanting to settle down and keep the survivors safe and getting going on a new society of a sort, and then it realizes that's contrary to the nature of the show and yanks it all away, rinse and repeat. Anyway. Zombies are cool.
• The photo up top was a chance thing. Hallie's taken an interest in photography lately--something I really need to nurture. She was getting Hermione to pose for her and I was off to the side, and it was too nice an angle to pass up. :) I feel I fall short in teaching the girls the stuff I know, which should be the purview of every good Dad, right? I need to really start doing that. Photography, computers, cars, woodworking, all that stuff should be mine to teach. And guitar, if they want to rock out.
• Speaking of music, both Hermione and Hallie had their first performances last week! Hermione started playing flute a few months back and joined a nice homeschool band, and they had a Christmas concert. Not bad at all! And Hallie's been taking violin lessons and had her first recital. I can't even say what a big deal this is, for both of them. They're both pretty shy and hate to be the center of attention, so getting up on stage in front of people seems totally out of character for them. But they seemed to really enjoy it! It was probably easy for Hermione since she was just part of a band, but even alone, she has no problem playing flute or piano for people. And Hallie was out on stage all by herself (well, her teacher accompanied her on the piano, but still) and she seemed to have no trouble at all. I was really impressed! Awesome to see. :)
• Thanksgiving was good. Heather's sister came over the weekend before, and I took a couple days off for her visit. Part of the fun was a visit to FunSpot for Hermione's birthday, which was a lot of fun. Nice weather for it, too! Turkey Day itself was fine, we headed over to the coast to meet our friends at a park to catch up and play, and then we went to Mom's for a mid-afternoon feast. Good stuff. Didn't see Dad, and haven't in way too long. I think we'll see him around Christmas, though.
• Which is less than 3 weeks away! We decorated the house the weekend after Thanksgiving, as usual. Went a little further than usual with the lights this year, too. I'll have to get a photo to share, and so I remember how I did it next year! We really need a new tree, though. We've been using a hand-me-down artificial tree for years, and though it was a nice one when it was new, it's definitely the worse for wear. Might have to invest in a new one when they go on clearance this year. Present-wise, I think we're in pretty good shape. I always want to get more stuff for the kids, but I'm trying to hold back. The wife and I mainly picked our own gifts, at least the big ones. I have a few small surprises for her, and she's mentioned a thing or two on the way for me as well. It's mainly about the kids at this point anyway, of course. I am bothered presently (no pun intended) because I can't find one of the things I ordered! I know it came, and I know I tucked it away somewhere, but damned if I can remember where! Silly.
• I've been especially political on FB lately. Ugh, don't even get me started. There's the gun debate, which flares up every time there's a massacre--so weekly, at this point. There's Trump going full-Nazi when you NEVER go full-Nazi. There's TIME's Person of the Year, wherein Bernie Sanders very handily won their poll--twice the votes of the next-highest person--and yet was left out of the shortlist (and Trump, who was 19th in the poll, somehow made the cut). The signal boost would have done him some good, I think. It's all a mess. I remain hopeful, though. The first primaries are going to be stressful for me, I can tell!
• Work is okay. I had a really good training last week, a thing about leadership styles. Apparently the methodology began as a parenting strategy that was adapted to corporate management, so it might even be useful at home. Kinda useless at work since no one reports to me anymore. But oh well, still good stuff. Later this week I'm going to a class on Myers-Briggs personality types, which I think will be interesting as well.

Okay, I guess that's enough for now. I'm sure there's been more over the past few weeks, but I can't think of much at the moment. Hope everyone is having a good week so far!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


Autumn decor notwithstanding, fall is taking its sweet time coming to these parts to stay--we've had a few nice days, and mornings/evenings are pretty pleasant, but the highs are still hanging out in the upper 80Fs with no big dips in sight. 86F on Halloween? Sheesh. Still, we've been getting out and about a bit more, which means photos!

Our Disney World passes expired Saturday, sadly. And odd as it sounds to everyone who doesn't live in Orlando, when our passes expire we're usually a bit tired of the place and so we take some time off before renewing. We might wait even longer and do LEGOLand and/or Universal this time instead. But before our WDW passes expired we figured we should make one more visit, so Friday I took the day off work and we went to the Magic Kingdom.

Clicky! )
And now I should get some work done around here. Hope everyone's week is off to a good start!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


The weather has finally gotten nice, at least some days! It takes a while for fall to make its way down to these parts. Anyway, yesterday evening we were out doing some yardwork, and I came across this katydid so the girls and I got to know her a bit. It's the very-appropriately-named Giant katydid, I think the largest species in North America. It's fun to find such neat critters around the house!

Working today, though I must say my lack of motivation is palpable. Not much else going on, though. I saw Biden's announcement that he's not going to run for President after all. That was not what I expected to hear! But it should help clarify the Democratic race, since the polls have always included him in the mix and it's been hard to say how many of the people supporting him would go for Clinton or Bernie. So that will be interesting to see. And he seemed to have Elizabeth Warren potentially in his corner, so we'll see where she puts her weight now (though I would hope that's obvious). I just hope the so-called Bernie-mentum continues, even though the first debate seemed to shift things in her favor a bit. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Okay, enough for now, I'd better get some work done. Hope everyone is having a good day! Oh, and Happy BTTF Day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
-Watched a little of the first Democratic debate last night, and have been catching some more highlights and postgame action today. I must say, I was impressed with Hillary. She clearly knows her stuff and is on top of her game, and really made no missteps. My man Bernie did well, I thought, though I don't think I heard anything that was new to anyone who's paid attention to him over the past year or two. I thought his defense of Hillary on the e-mail issue was pure class, and he did a great job turning it back to his refrain of forget the nonsense, let's talk about the issues. And speaking of issues, I was impressed at how much time was spent on issues that have gotten almost no mention in the hours of GOP debates: climate change, inequality, reining in Wall Street, gun control, etc. The 3 also-rans were just that, but everyone on that stage was civil, intelligent, focused and fact-based, and that alone was a clear difference from the GOP debates. I feel pretty confident that our next President was on stage last night, whether Hillary or Bernie. I'd prefer the latter, of course. :)
-Been dealing with an annoying malware infection on my websites. I have my photography business site, of course, and there's one for my wife's sewing business, and one I built for a friend of hers who does live music performance for weddings and whatnot. Apparently my ftp login was hacked a while back, and they injected some malicious code into the websites, plus a backdoor to let them re-infect even after I changed all the passwords and cleaned up the malware scripts. I've been working with my webhost, who have been great at identifying and removing the infected files. I think they finally found and removed the backdoor this morning, so hopefully that will be the end of it once I get everything cleaned and restored. I hope so! Hackers are among the types of people I really despise, causing mayhem for no good reason, just because they can. Grr.
-I haven't talked gaming lately! Yesterday I saw a really good deal on Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U, so I snagged that and we tried it out last night. Definitely a big hit with the girls, even though we had no idea what we were doing. I read up a bit this morning, so I understand the concept a bit better now. :) I've also been having fun playing LEGO City: Undercover--I finished the story part of the game, so now it's all about exploring the world and finding the little things to unlock and complete. Fun stuff. I haven't been doing much PC gaming lately, really. Saving it up for when Fallout 4 comes out, probably! Might have to ask for that for Christmas. :)
-Our Disney World passes expire in a week or so, which is sad. We usually let them lapse for a few months when they expire, to take a break until we miss it enough to dive in again. After the NYC trip it's definitely not in the budget to renew just yet anyway. We need to get out there a couple more times before we can't, though--we went to the Magic Kingdom Sunday night, but it was crazy busy (Columbus Day weekend, I guess?) and we didn't get to do much. So I'm planning to take next Friday off and we'll go there again, hopefully spend more time and do more things. One more trip to Animal Kingdom sometime would be nice too, we didn't go there much.
-Hm, can't think of much else right now. It's almost my lunchtime, better figure out what I feel like eating! I might just go to the grocery store and get a couple frozen dinners, those are nice to have on hand anyway.

Hope everyone is having a fine week!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So let's talk bedrooms. Our house has 4, which makes sense given that we have 3 kids, right? But the girls have only ever taken up 2 of the 3 downstairs bedrooms. Hermione and Hallie were sharing a bedroom at first, and a couple years ago we got another set of bedroom furniture with the notion that Hallie would share with Amy instead, and Hermione as the oldest would have her own room. But neither Hallie nor Hermione wanted Hallie to switch, so they've continued to share while Amy sleeps in what's supposed to be her and Hallie's room, and Heather has used the third bedroom as her sewing room. But now that Hermione is almost 11 and (rather terrifyingly to me) hitting puberty, and starting to spend a little more time with kids her own age, she's suddenly decided she would like to keep her bedroom to herself after all. She also wants her own desk for schoolwork, so she can do it in peace and quiet. Hallie doesn't want to share a bed with Amy, and frankly that probably wouldn't work out well for any of us either since those two seem to love antagonizing each other. So yesterday they all came up with a plan. Heather's going to move her sewing stuff upstairs for now, because our bedroom is pretty big and has a whole wall of space available at present. Hermione's bedroom is on the small side, so the full size bed that's in there now will become Hallie's, as will the bedroom freed up by moving the sewing stuff. Amy will stay where she is, but all of Hallie's stuff in there will move out and that will become her room. And Hermione will get a new bedroom set with a twin bed instead of a full, which will free up room for a desk. And then all the girls will have a bedroom of their own, which was the end goal at some point anyway, of course. And we get to move furniture around all weekend, which is always fun! Though I guess we can't really move the bed out of Hermione's room until her new one arrives next week. We'll see about that. I guess we'll also see if clearing out that room for Hallie turns into painting it, which I don't think anyone has considered. Hmmm.

Either way, our work is cut out for us this weekend, so it's maybe good that a potential hurricane is coming our way which will make us want to stay inside anyway. :)

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kv0925

May 2017

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