kv0925: (Default)
So my gaming life lately has been rather focused on The Last of Us. I mentioned I picked up a PS4 back around Christmas, right? I played through Uncharted 4, which was amazing, and then went back and played the first two games in that series (having also picked up the Nathan Drake Collection). Hallie was playing through them at more or less the same time, so I thought I'd play something else while she catches up and finishes Uncharted 2. So I popped in The Last of Us, which was actually a big reason I wanted the PS4 in the first place, having heard what a great game it was.

And it is. It really, really is. The gameplay is fun, a very well-crafted mix of FPS, stealth, exploration and survival, with some RPG elements tossed in too. But the story, and writing, and performances.. man. It's all linear, of course, which puts the whole game on rails and removes the choice factor. There were a few times when I felt forced to do things I would have chosen not to do, because they were required to progress the story as written. But still, on the whole? Just an amazing experience, and one that will stick with me. Once I got through it, I played through the Left Behind DLC, and then almost immediately started back through the main game to try to find all the collectibles and see other things I might have missed or not fully appreciated the first time. And it's just as good the second time, and actually even better since I knew what I was doing in the early parts of the game. So yeah, if you get a chance to play this one, I do recommend it. And I will be very much looking forward to the sequel next year. I almost never pre-order a game, but that one I absolutely expect to. After this one and the Uncharted series, Naughty Dog have earned my trust for sure.

Otherwise, on the PC I've been playing Mafia III. I enjoyed the first game in that series, and loved the second one, so I had high hopes when 3 was announced. Reviews were not exactly glowing when it came out, but I saw a good price and figured it was worth a try. And it's not a bad game, not at all. As an open-world shooter, it's very adequate. But that's the thing. There was something special about Mafia 2, some bit of magic and serendipity, which took it up a level in my mind and made it more than just the sum of its parts. It had its weak points, but it was just plain FUN. Mafia III seems to have missed that magic, somehow. I still want to get back to it and go through it, but.. yeah, the second one is a lot better.

I've also been playing some Alien: Isolation, which is very good, but somehow hasn't sucked me in like I expected it would. I actually started it quite some time ago, and dropped it, so this time I started over again. Hopefully I'll stick with it this time.

Also spent some time with a game called The Flame in the Flood, which is pretty fun. It's a wilderness survival game reminiscent of Don't Starve, though not quite as cartoonish. Your character is traveling downriver on a wooden raft through a flooded area, stopping at dry land here and there to forage for supplies, craft, hunt, cook, etc. It's nicely done and I dig the art style and music. It's a fun diversion if you find it cheap.

Speaking of finding things cheap, a while back Amazon had the SteamLink on sale for $20, which was a price I couldn't resist. I could already stream from my main PC via the Steam client on my HTPC (which is itself rather underpowered for gaming, of course), but I figured having the dedicated device might make it even easier, and maybe more robust. And it's a pretty nifty little device, for sure. I use it with a pair of wireless XBox 360 controllers, and it works very well. My only issue is that it doesn't seem to wake up when I fire up the first controller--I have to connect the second controller too. Not that big a deal, but it seems like unexpected behavior, which I should get around to researching. ETA: I researched and it seems I might just not be giving it enough time. People say it takes the SteamLink 15-20 seconds to wake up, so I probably fire up the first controller, wonder why it isn't waking up right away, then fire up controller 2, at which point the 15-20 seconds has passed and it wakes up. I'll have to test that to see.

In other news: TGIF!
kv0925: (Default)
(So I can see how DW does with photo posts, and how well they crosspost to LJ as well.)

Amy turned 6 in February, and almost immediately she FINALLY learned how to swing herself. We'd been trying to show her for ages, and then her friend next door told her the same tips we'd been telling her, and that did the trick. And then a week or two ago, the same thing happened with the bike! We'd been trying for ages to get her to ditch the training wheels, telling her how much better it would be, how much faster she could go, how awesome she'd feel. And she was ALMOST getting it--she got to the point where she could stay upright once she got going, but then she and her stubborn streak decided to refuse any assistance, even though she didn't quite have the hang of getting going from a stop yet. And then her friend next door told her the same things we'd been telling her, and suddenly she got it. So since then it's been tough to get her off her bike, which is cool. I'm glad she finally learned!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

I am not even going to look up the date of my last post, because I know it's been forever and confirming that would probably depress me. So I'll just pretend that I haven't been a stranger here, okay?

So yeah, we got a puppy! She's actually a foster-puppy. My wife came across a place near us that trains service dogs to assist disabled people to be more independent, and the girls loved the idea, so she applied to foster and I guess we impressed them because the whole thing moved along pretty quickly. We got the puppy last Wednesday, so today is one week. Her name is January, I guess because she was born early on January 1st, and her Mom's name is April so I think there's a theme there. So that makes her about 3 months old. Ignore the green tinge to her ear--they get an inside-ear ID tattoo, and the ink stained her fur a bit and it's taken a while to fade. So far she's a very good pup. The first few nights she whined and yipped a lot at night, but for the past few nights she's been nice and quiet, and has even been going the whole night without needing to go out. So that's nice! She hasn't interacted much with our dog or the cats, but that's probably good. Our dog is pretty shy and skittish, so we're hoping her getting used to being around another dog will be good for her too.

Otherwise things have been going along pretty normally. Work has been a bit of a madhouse since right after Christmas, seems like, so that explains my LJ-hiatus. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though it may be a train: I've been told my current position is temporary and will end by the end of June, most likely. My current boss is in Connecticut and wants his managers to be located there too, which I guess makes sense. I'm not really able or willing to make the move, so he'll have to find someone else. I'm going to look around for another opportunity within the company, of course--I happen to know my old boss is opening a few manager positions, one of which I actually already put in for, so we'll see how that goes. I wouldn't necessarily be averse to leaving this company on general principle, but it is nonetheless a scary thought, for a variety of reasons. But there's still some time on all that, so we shall see.

Better keep this short for now and get my nose back to the grindstone. I hope you've all been well!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Yeah, so this post will be about my new A/V receiver, and maybe some more about the Playstation 4. If neither of those things interests you, feel free to skip and you will miss nothing. :)

So yeah, the receiver. The retailer came through, despite the delay and my doubts, and it's a genuine and factory-fresh Yamaha RX-V681, no concerns there. And it's awesome! Now and then a piece of equipment comes into my grubby hands which makes me say, "This is how this SHOULD work, how did I never know that before?!" And this thing is one of them. Coming from a non-HDMI, audio-only, dumb receiver, I really had no idea how thoroughly devices could communicate over an HDMI connection these days. The Yamaha can identify the devices I connect, turn them on and off, tell the TV when it should mute its internal speakers, and even pass along remote-control commands. I was amazed that I could use the receiver remote OR the TV remote to control the PS4 menus. And when the receiver is on, any remote that can send volume control to the TV gets seamlessly passed along to the receiver. I power up a device like the PS4, and the TV turns on automagically. And the on-screen display to configure things is lovely. It's like a whole new world and it's just awesome how it serves as the nerve center to make all these devices behave like one organic whole. Color me impressed, for sure. Oh yeah, and it sounds pretty decent, too. I still need to finish running a couple more speaker wires for the surround back channels, and make sure the subwoofer connection is clean, and then run the speaker calibration routine and find the processing modes that I like best. I also haven't even tried the network functionality yet, I'm looking forward to that. Generally though, yes. Very cool.

The girls and I decided to head over to GameStop last night to look around. Kind of a mistake, because the closest GameStop to us is pretty small, and it was packed (not that it takes a lot of people to achieve that). So we ended up not getting anything, but got to spend some time looking at the PS4 games to get an idea of what we might want to get. I have my list, of course, and it's already too long. Hallie was very interested in the horror games, because that's kinda her thing. On one hand I dig it because hey, that's one of my things too! But on the other hand, she's a bit young for a lot of the games along those lines (pretty much all of which, of course, are rated M), and of course I don't want to warp her little mind too much! The wife's main complaint would be the language, though of course she's not a big fan of the violent blood-and-guts stuff either. She's indulged it thus far, and I think we've slipped a little under her radar when she plays on her PC, like the Telltale Walking Dead games, since Hallie usually plays games with the sound turned way down. But since the PS4 is right out in the TV room, Heather will definitely notice what we're playing on there. :) So I'll have to stick with T-rated stuff, at least for now. Aside from maybe Diablo III, which is rated M but I think mainly because of the imagery (which is smaller in scale to begin with). Or am I just a terrible parent for encouraging an interest in this type of thing? I'm not sure what age I was when I started reading Stephen King, but it couldn't have been much older than Hallie is now. And I'm.. well, not exactly okay, but not THAT bad. :)

Okay, enough for now. Gotta get some more work done before I can call it a day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
The new A/V receiver was supposed to be delivered Saturday. It was coming via FedEx, who typically come around in the late afternoon, and the delivery notice said "by end of day," so I figured that would be the case. Heather's band had a concert that morning, so the girls and I decided to go to EPCOT for a walk around the world. Heather figured she'd be home by 11:30am or so, and I figured no way FedEx would come before then. But of course they did, apparently about 5 minutes before she got home. The package is signature-required, so since no one was home they couldn't leave it. And for some kooky reason they only do home deliveries Tuesday through Saturday, and their website isn't giving me a pickup option, so the soonest they can redeliver is tomorrow. So that gave me a sad.

Heh, I just checked the FedEx site again to see if pickup was an option, and it's not--it says the package is still on a truck and out for delivery, even though the scheduled delivery date is tomorrow. So maybe that means it's just getting a joyride around town today? I guess we'll see. The wife is home, so if they do swing by someone should be there. We shall see.

So anyway, since I was temporarily denied the receiver, my mind turned to getting something else instead. The new receiver gives me an extra HDMI port, which my brain figured might be handy if I ever decide to get another gaming console. The girls are all gamers like their Dad, I'm proud to say, but we mostly play solo on our PCs since PC options for couch co-op games are a bit limited. Our only current video game console is the WiiU, which we like, but since it's Nintendo it's mainly for cutesy family games since I/we generally prefer to use the PC for other stuff.

But I was in Costco the other day and saw that the prices on the current-gen systems had dropped to a reasonable range: in particular, I saw they had the PS4 with Uncharted 4 and a second controller for $250. I've vaguely had my eye on the PS4 because The Last Of Us looks really good, and then I looked at Uncharted 4 and it looked like something we'd also enjoy (especially since a couch co-op survival mode was recently added, or is about to be). So when the receiver didn't come Saturday, I got to thinking, why not get the PS4 as an early Xmas present and enjoy that? I could even basically pay for it with the money I got selling some old audio gear last weekend, and selling that Tool cd/dvd set. So I ran it by the wife and she said fine, whatever. :) So now we have a shiny new PS4 slim, and Hallie (who is turning out to be our most serious gamer) and I have been enjoying Uncharted 4.

So now, of course, I'm looking at what other games I'd like to get for the PS4. If any of you have the system and have suggestions, please chime in! As a general rule, if a game is available for both PS4 and PC, I'd get the PC version since I have a preference for the PC controls. But anything that's a PS4 exclusive, or which offers an especially good local co-op experience (since we aren't really into online multiplayer) is fair game. My list so far:

-The Last of Us (PS4 Remaster)
-Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4 Remaster)
-Destiny: The Taken King
-Little Big Planet 3
-Until Dawn
-inFamous: Second Son

Now I want to go home and play, but alas, I'm stuck at the office. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
...has not been wandering, it seems!

I realized I neglected to update on the Amy sleepwalking thing in my last post, and the good news there is that there hasn't been anything about which to update! I installed the latch on the door to the garage after my initial post on the subject, and that seems to have been the end of it. Whether she was actually sleepwalking or doing it consciously and intentionally, she seems to know she can't do it anymore, and that's that. I don't think she's even tried it again in the middle of the night, unless she's going a route that doesn't trip the motion sensor in the living room. Either way, no alarms since then, so that seems solved. She's come upstairs to our bedroom a few times, but that's not unusual (and doesn't set off alarms), so that's okay. :)

Thanks to everyone for your advice and insight on that post!


Nov. 30th, 2016 03:28 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Mentioning Hermione's new snake the other day made me realize I hadn't mentioned it before, which makes me think I've never covered our current menagerie, or future critter plans. So let me do that.

At present we have: 1 dog, 2 birds, 4 cats, a handful of fish, a guinea pig, and now a snake. I think that's it. In more detail:

The dog: Scout, she's an almost-8-year-old (already!) black lab mix. We got her at the animal shelter. Scout's not an odd dog name, but it is odd for a female dog, I think--we named her after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird, probably just because we'd recently watched the movie. She has her issues, but overall she's a pretty good dog. She doesn't bark unless there's actually something to bark at, she's not destructive, she's on the shy/fearful side but reasonably friendly, definitely not at all aggressive.

The cats: The eldest is Ood (nonsensically named by Hermione when she was a toddler, so she's about 10 now), who is your typical lazy lapcat. She's a good egg for sure, very affectionate and social with people. The other cats are Marion, Fiona, and Alice, who are varying degrees of antisocial. Most of them are friendly with the girls, but steer clear of me. I'm okay with that, really.

The birds: Hallie decided on a parakeet when she got old enough for a pet of her own, so we got one, and after a while we decided it was probably a bit lonely so we got it a cagemate. Hallie named the first (blue) one Cauliflower, since that was her favorite vegetable at the time. So when we got the second and it was green, it only made sense to name it Broccoli.

The fish: We started with a standard 10-gallon aquarium and moved up to a 20-gallon at some point, which contains a handful of freshwater tropical fish. Mostly zebra danios at this point, I think.

The guinea pig: Hermione's pet choice when she got old enough. This is actually our second one. The first, Gingerbread, got sick and basically died before we even realized how sick it was--apparently guinea pigs go downhill quickly when they get sick. After a bit she decided she missed having one, so we got this one, Cookie.

The snake: Since she's always done well with the guinea pigs, we told Hermione if she wanted to get a snake she could, since she's considered it for a while. So she decided on a Kenyan sand boa, since they stay relatively small (hence can always live in something like a 10-gallon aquarium) and are quite docile. We just got it a few weeks ago, hence the recent adventure with trying to get it to eat! I think we'll get the hang of it, though.

Future plans: Well, Amy always says she wants a kitten, but I'm not so sure about that since we already have 4 cats. When she turns 7 or so we'll probably let her pick something if we think she's responsible enough (which at this point I kinda doubt). In the meantime, though, Hallie was considering asking for a puppy until she read something about how most service dogs live in foster homes while they're in training. So we looked into that and found that there's a place quite close to us that does exactly that, and we applied to be a foster family. No idea how long it takes to go through the approval process and actually get a dog, but that should be interesting if and when it happens. And I could see us getting another reptile sometime--I kinda dig bearded dragons, or chameleons are pretty awesome. :) Or how about a tarantula?

So yeah, I guess we're a pretty animal-friendly household. All that is in addition to our porchlight frogs (there's usually at least one tree frog hanging out around our front door, since the light attracts bugs at night), the billion anole lizards in the yard, the butterfly garden, birdfeeder, squirrels, geckos, and other assorted creepy-crawlies. I kinda like that about us.

Okay, that's enough time wasting. I'm just running out the clock on today, since I'm off tomorrow!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So Thanksgiving is behind us. Already! This year, for all its nonsense and loss and horror, has at least flown by for me. Seems like we were just celebrating the New Year and looking ahead to an interesting election year. Who knew then that 'interesting' would so quickly and drastically take on the Chinese-curse parameters?

Anyway, the long weekend was good. The quick rundown:
-Thanksgiving Day: We started out with a quick trip to a park for some play and a short walk, but otherwise I stayed home with the family, since the wife had already bought a turkey to cook and Hermione was still getting over the cold she had (and which unfortunately put a bit of a damper on her birthday last Tuesday, poor kid). So it was a nice, quiet day, really.
-Black Friday: We tend not to plan on much BF shopping, but I did run out on a little adventure to procure a new (artificial) Christmas tree. Our old one was handed down to us by my Dad at least 8 years ago, and for the past few years we've wanted to retire it and get a new one since it was starting to disintegrate. The room our tree goes in has vaulted ceilings, so I wanted a taller tree, and I also wanted to go with a pre-lit (LED) tree. So I found a nice nine footer on sale at Home Depot. I went first to our closest location, only to find that the inventory of 1 indicated on the HD website was the display model, which was already spoken for. Our next-closest HD also showed 1 in stock, so I presumed that might be the same situation, and instead headed to the east Orlando store which showed 4 in stock. Sure enough, there it was, so I grabbed that and also a new pair of lighted deer for the front of the house, since our old ones were on their last legs too.

We'd also seen that our favorite big comics/collectibles shop was having a storewide Black Friday sale, so we headed out for lunch and to stop by there. We found some good stuff there for Xmas, so that was nice. On the way home we stopped at the exotic pet store to buy a pinkie mouse. Did I mention Hermione got a pet snake for her birthday? She'd wanted one for a while, so we went ahead and got that when we got back from our trip. Anyway, it wasn't taking the frozen pinkies we'd tried feeding it, so we picked up a live one to try on our way home, and that did the trick. Though Hallie had already named it and everything by the time we got home. She didn't take it too hard, though. :) Then we put up the new Xmas tree and decorated it.

Saturday: I had a photoshoot scheduled in the afternoon, so we stayed close to home. I spent the morning putting up the outside Christmas lights, which went fairly well and looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. We might go a little further and do our driveway/island too, we'll see how ambitions I feel about that!

The photoshoot was at Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney). The client was looking for Christmas decor, and could only do it Saturday, so I suggested Disney since I knew their decor would be up and lit. But of course it's a madhouse at WDW this time of year, and she wanted afternoon, so the place was packed and that made it tough to work. It was the lady, her husband, and their 18-month-old son, and they were all nice enough, but the kid (while cute and generally well-behaved) was very easily distracted and tough to get to look at the camera. So I haven't even looked at the photos yet, but I'm a little worried I might not have gotten a great set. Ah well, it is what it is. I'm sure there are some decent shots in there, at least.

Sunday: We headed over to the coast to visit my Mom, and also meet up with some friends at a park. That was a pretty good time, really. The lowlight was when we stopped by mi sister's house. Ugh. She's so totally different than me. They had a Trump sign (still) in the yard, a Trump sign (still) in their front window, and a big yellow sign saying "Trespassers Will Be Shot On Sight" and something about the 2nd Amendment. Just.. ugh. They just got the house a few months ago (a HUD home, because they both live on Social Security Disability, so their agitation for the candidate and party who loathe government handouts is supremely ironic), and it already reeks of cigarette smoke, so badly that Hermione could only stand to be inside for a couple minutes. Just ugh. I hate to say it, and I don't really want to tell Mom this, but if we can just pretend she doesn't exist next time I come for a visit, that would be swell.

Anyway. While we were there we stopped at a thrift store we like to go to when we're in the area, and found they were having a weekend-long BF sale, 50% off of everything. So we found a few things, including a jigsaw puzzle of the little town in Georgia we just visited! But the real gem was a little cd/dvd box set of the band Tool's 2000 album, Salival. It was 50 cents after the sale discount, so I snagged it because I like Tool well enough, but also because it looked like it might be a collector's item. And sure enough, I looked it up when I got home and found that not only is it rare and out-of-print, the first printing was even more rare because it contained several typos in the booklet. I checked, and sure enough, this one has the typos. Looked like the misprint version sells on eBay in the $75-100 range, so I think I will resell that for a tidy profit. I love finding things like that!

Today I'm back to work, but so far it's been a pretty quiet day--I think a lot of the muckety-mucks are still on vacation. So in another consumer coup, I looked around for a compact point-and-shoot camera for Hermione (who just recently mentioned wishing she had one of her own, which was good timing because we were a little stumped on Xmas presents for her this year) and found a steal--a refurbished ELPH camera direct from Canon (which means the full 1-year warranty) with a free memory card, $60 and free shipping. Not bad at all! It's last year's model so it doesn't have WiFi, but that's not a dealbreaker by any means. 12x optical zoom with IS, so that should be pretty versatile.

Okay, enough of this nonsense, time to get a little work done. I hope everyone's week is off to a good start!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Well, pretty soon, anyway. I'm working today, off tomorrow to do some stuff around the house and pack the van full of stuff, and then Saturday morning we head out on our road trip up to northern Georgia. Seems like whenever we plan a trip, often as not it falls through for some reason, so I hadn't spared too much thought for this one until the past couple weeks, but I'm fairly excited now.

As is my wont, I drafted a tentative itinerary for each day, which I know sounds a bit anal. But hey, I like to have a plan, even if the day comes and we toss the plan out the window. Putting that together gives me an idea of what options we have in each general area, which things cluster together, which things are higher on my wanna-do list, and forces me to think about the timing of getting from one to the next. So it usually ends up working out pretty well. We're at the cabin for 3 full days, so those days we can sort of wing depending on what we feel like doing each day--or just pick a direction and run with it. But for the drive up I definitely wanted to sketch out an agenda, since we're stopping for a night to do a thing or two around Atlanta, and want to otherwise break up the drive a bit. On the way home, we plan to push through in one day, I expect with a stop or two along the way.

Anyway, I've been looking at which hikes and waterfalls I'd like to do. I'm trying to keep everything to 2 miles or less, round trip. As much as I'd love to hike all day, the girls do have their limits. :) And most days I'm trying to include some non-hiking stuff, like Babyland General Hospital (the home of Cabbage Patch dolls). The girls have never had or cared about those per se, but I think they'll enjoy seeing the place, and I'd be surprised if we don't walk out of there with at least one doll for someone. Maybe my wife!

I think the top thing on my must-do list is the Hurricane Falls trail at Tallulah Gorge State Park. It looks pretty awesome, especially with the suspension bridge and many hundreds of stair steps. Hopefully everyone can keep up! The views look awesome. I've got a number of other waterfall hikes on the list, though I'm sure we won't get to all of those. And speaking of views, I think we'll drive up to the top of Brasstown Bald. Looks like we might have just missed the peak of fall color up there, but there should still be some around. That will be a treat for us all, since Florida isn't too big for fall color!

And the weather looks fantastic, so hopefully everything will be awesome. I just hope the girls will go along with everything with minimal complaint. The younger two especially, they can be quite stubborn when they don't want to do something, so I kinda imagine some episodes of having to drag them along kicking and screaming, literally in Amy's case. We shall see.

So yeah, I'll probably not being paying much attention to LJ until we get back, so keep the major news to a minimum while I'm gone, yeah? For sure don't go electing a megalomaniacal narcissist tangerine-tinted dumpster fire as President while I'm gone. Okay? Promise?
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
In other news, you may recall some time back I lamented the fact that the girls weren't as much into listening to music as I'd like them to be, since I think there's so much to learn and gain from a love of music. Well, I'm happy to report that time seems to have remedied that. Hermione especially--she started paying more attention to the music on the radio when we're driving around, and then I got her an alarm clock for her room that included an FM radio, which she and Hallie would turn on while they played in her room before bedtime at night. After a while I got her a cheap little mp3 player I could load up with music, and a pair of computer speakers to plug that into. Since then I replaced that with a little shelf cd system, so they can also trawl through our cd collection in addition to the radio and mp3 player options. Since Hallie and Hermione are typically inseparable, Hallie's picked up on it as well. We're planning a road trip next month, for which the girls are already excitedly packing, and Hallie wants to take an mp3 player and headphones for her own entertainment (luckily I picked up another little player somewhere along the way). So that's a good thing in my mind!

So far their tastes tend to be on the mellow side. When we're all driving in the van we tend to listen to either country (from the aughts or earlier, none of this modern bro-country nonsense) or classic pop/rock stuff. When I take them somewhere in my car without the wife, I tend to go for slightly heavier classic rock and my beloved 80s hair metal. So they dig stuff like Journey, Heart, REO Speedwagon, a little Queen and Def Leppard, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Kansas, Bon Jovi, stuff like that. I'm pretty good with the variety they like! Hermione's been interested in learning to play some things on the piano like Journey's "Faithfully" and Heart's "Alone," both of which she's picked up very well. Hallie plays violin, so she's interested in learning the violin solo part of "Dust in the Wind," which would be very cool since I could accompany her on the guitar. Fun stuff!

One thing that meant a lot to me... "Lost in the World" by Green River Ordinance is a song I love that makes me think of my girls, so I'd put it on their mp3 player. I figured out the gist of how to play it on the piano, and was showing Hermione so she could pick it up too. I sang a little of it as I was playing to show how the piano part fit with the verse (usually I only sing alone in the car, since I'm a bit self-conscious about my singing voice) and Hermione said it was one of the most beautiful things she'd ever heard. So yeah, that was nice. :)

kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I took Hermione and Amy to Magic Kingdom this past Monday. Hallie didn't come because she's not a roller coaster fan (yet, anyway) and we were planning to ride a couple. Space Mountain (Amy's first time on that one), and I finally scored Fast Passes for the (relatively) new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It was all of our first time on that one, because I never see available FPs for it, and the standby lines are almost always 60-120 minutes when we go. And we live here, so we're damned if we'll wait that long for anything! Anyway, I was worried how Amy would do on Space Mountain since it's dark and all, but she'd done Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom with me a few weeks ago and loved it, even though it had more dark parts than I remembered. So no worries, her first words when we pulled into the unload station at SM were, "Can we do it again?" Heh. And then we all loved the Mine Train--that may be the smoothest coaster I've ever experienced, very nice indeed. Other than that we did Peter Pan, the Haunted Mansion, and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party to kill time between FPs. I must say, it's kinda nice to be able to pre-book rides with the FP+ system these days. Even so, I suspect when our passes expire next year we may be done with the Disney parks, at least for a while. I tend to get a pass because I occasionally book photo sessions at the parks and it pays for the pass, but as a family I think the girls are starting to grow out of it, and/or just generally be Disney'd out. Yes, it's possible. :) So maybe we'll go for Universal passes next year, unless I hear we're still doing our company event out there. I rather expect not in the post-merger world, but who knows?

What else.. the wife's parents are coming for a visit. They get in Saturday evening, and leave on Wednesday. I'm taking Tuesday and Wednesday off, though I don't think we really have much planned. They're both Trump supporters, so let's just say it should be interesting. I think politics will be off the table as a topic of discussion.

Thinking about my day in NYC coming up in a few weeks! I haven't really planned too much out since it's just one day--I may end up just seeing where my feet take me. Central Park is the one place I know I really want to spend some time, that's really an incredible place in my mind. I hope to find some of the nooks and crannies and historic bits that most people don't see. Other than that, I think maybe the Empire State Building since the girls and I didn't make it there. Perhaps a little time in one or two of the museums around Central Park. I could do the Intrepid Air & Space Museum, I think I get in there free which is nice. We'll see what happens, I guess!

And then we've more or less decided to take a trip in early November, a drive up to northern Georgia to spend a few days in a cabin and do lots of hiking. I've found some really nice cabins in the area where we plan to stay, now I have to pick one! A number of them have pool tables, which is a big attraction for me. When I was a kid our neighbor had a nice pool table, and I'd go over there to play all the time. And then eventually he gave it to me, so we moved it over to our house. But once I moved out it was all apartments for a while, and I wasn't going to haul around a huge slate pool table even if I had room for it, so that was that. Anyway, I never get to play anymore and I'd love to see how the girls take to it so I like the idea of getting a cabin with one! Just need to talk the wife into splurging a few more bucks for that, but I think that will be easy enough, especially if and when the pension payout info comes. Which I hope will be soon!

Okay, enough babbling for now. Almost time to call it a day. I hope you're all doing well out there in LJ-Land!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I dunno, LJ. I check in on my flist every day or two, but I never seem to find that much worth contributing lately, either by way of comment or entries of my own. I wonder if I'm not sort of winding down my time here, as many others before me have done. That sounds more melodramatic than I mean it to. But I do still like the idea of having my LJ history as a window into the past, so I suppose I should make at least the occasional post here so future me has more of past me to revisit. So long as LJ itself sticks around, anyway!

So let's see, what's happening lately? I guess I'll start with the work situation, since that's where I sit presently. As I may have already mentioned, the merger that was potentially looming in the future for the past year or two is now in the rearview mirror as a done deal, and change is afoot. Some folks are already gone, some already find themselves reporting to new bosses, even if they don't have new duties. I'm neither of those, or at least not yet. But it seems like I'm going to fall out somewhere closer to my old gig than my most recent one, which is frankly a relief and a Good Thing. The role my boss tried to slot me into for the past year wasn't an ideal fit for me, and didn't actually consist of much. So while having an extremely light year in terms of workload has been nice, it also never made me feel like much of a contributor, and therefore made me feel a bit insecure. We pay that guy how much, and to do what?! So it will be nice if I land in a new role which is more in my comfort zone, and where I feel like I can be more valuable. Whether I also get a new boss or not, I dunno. But that's okay, I certainly don't mind my present boss. If I do get a new boss, it might be nice if they're based at the company HQ in Connecticut, and I have to go visit them there now and then. I wouldn't mind that at all! Still waiting to hear about other changes like benefits, and what our options will be for the old company's pension plan. Some people have been kicking around calculators and it could be a nice chunk of money.

At home, things are mostly business-as-usual. We homeschool, as you probably know, so summer vacation isn't necessarily a thing for us. But Heather usually does take a break from most of their schoolwork over the summer, and we let the girls each pick a summer-camp type thing to go to.

Hallie's was last week--she went to a camp at a horse-riding school in the area, since she's the one who seems to have gotten the horse bug. :) She loved it, of course. We'll probably let her go back there for a lesson now and then. Hermione's camp is this week, she's doing a YMCA one, which is basically what you think of when you hear 'summer camp', though she's not spending the nights there. She's been having a blast too, though yesterday she skipped it because she wasn't feeling so good--maybe 3 days out in the heat (and it has been HOT this week) wore her down, or she caught a summer cold or something. She's there today for the last day, hopefully she's feeling okay and having fun. Later in the summer is Amy's turn, she's doing the camp her gymnastics class offers, so she should have fun at that one.

Speaking of Amy, did I mention that she and I started taking karate classes? I think I did say I'd started taking her, but I joined in myself after watching for a few weeks. :) It's been a lot of fun, and a great weekly workout for me. Plus I'm really enjoying learning it, of course. I was always drawn to aikido personally, but that just never worked out in terms of finding a class at a time and place (and price!) that we liked. So this is far better than nothing, and the teachers we've worked with are good folks. I can't say Amy's really picking it up, mainly because I need to get her to practice with me more at home. But she does try to follow along in class, and she has fun and burns off energy, which is the important thing at her age.

I guess I should mention the Pulse shooting. Just awful. Unspeakable. The evil of some people, and our insistence as a nation on making it so easy for everyone who wants the machinery of mass murder to acquire it, and with less scrutiny than you need to buy a damn package of Sudafed. It infuriated me. And still does. I went to bed Saturday night in the Happiest Place on Earth, and woke up in the city now associated with the worst gun massacre in American history. So far, anyway. But talking about all that is what my Facebook is for, and I sure did, probably until most people following me there were beyond sick of it. But that's the whole problem, isn't it? A massacre happens, we get outraged and talk about it for a few days until we're all sick of it, and then we stop. Until the next massacre, anyway. And there always is the next massacre. Anyway.

It certainly was a rough weekend for Orlando. Before the massacre we had the shooting of Christina Grimmie, who I can't say I'd ever heard of. But still, she died and didn't deserve to die, just another instance of someone off their rocker--in this case an obsessed and demented fan--who shouldn't have owned a gun but did, and decided it would be swell to use it. And then after the massacre there was the toddler killed by an alligator at Disney World, which is just horrible. That it should happen to anyone is awful, but a family here to enjoy a joyful vacation? At freaking Walt Disney World, of all places? Somehow that all makes it that much worse. I'm at least glad to see that unlike the Cincinnati Zoo incident, people don't seem to be blaming the parents. Yes, there were No Swimming signs, but wading isn't swimming in my book, especially if the area in question is a sandy beach, next to a hotel, which extends out into the water. They had no reason to suspect that sort of danger--I'd wager most Floridians wouldn't, and we're aware gators are around, so why should a family from freaking Nebraska?--and I'm sure for many thousands of people in that exact same spot over the last however-many years it wasn't a dangerous place or activity. This time it turned out to be dangerous, and tragically so. Sad, to say the least.

Now it's Friday, and I'm just running out the clock until I can go home. Or actually, before I can go pick Hermione up from camp before heading home. And not much going on today. So here, have some photos, too. Or maybe a whole bunch of photos, now that I take a look!

Hermione's band had a little performance at a homeschooling convention at the Gaylord Palms, so we all went to that. It was probably more trouble than it was worth, but it was nice to walk around there.

Clicky for more! )
And whew, I guess that's all for this episode. Thanks for reading!
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!


Apr. 13th, 2016 04:15 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Yeah, I really suck at LJ lately, sorry. But hey, have some photos from the last few weeks as a sort of recap of all the stuff I haven't been posting about. Lots of photos here, and maybe a couple snakes. :)

We went to an open-mic night at Hallie's music school. Turned out she was the only instrumentalist at the thing--everyone else was there to sing, either to piano accompaniment or backing tracks. I'd say she was probably the youngest person performing, too. And she just got up and played all by herself, in front of probably 30 people, no problems at all. She amazes me sometimes.

Clicky! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Hey cp, what's in the cabinet?
Well let's open 'er up, shall we?
Open Sez-a Me )


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)
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)

We've talked forever about going camping--my wife used to go with her parents when she was a kid, and even occasionally camped herself in her college years, on road trips and whatnot. Me, I can't recall ever truly camping when I was a kid, but much of my childhood was extremely rural, so being out in the woods was the name of the game. We thought it was an experience the kids should have, at any rate, and they were interested, so we recently bought a tent and some other gear we lacked, and decided to go for it this past weekend.

For our first time we didn't want to go far in case anyone freaked out or we found we were missing something critical, so we went to Kelly Park in our home county, only 20 minutes or so from home. It's a park we've been to plenty of times before, but the main draw there is Rock Springs and its run, which is huge for swimming and tubing in the summer. We'd never checked out the campground or the hiking trails, so it seemed like a good opportunity. And it's fairly cheap for county residents, which was a plus in case we needed to abort as well. :)

So after waffling a bit due to rain chances, we spent Saturday morning shopping for food and other last-minute necessities, and packing the van full of stuff. Camping means hauling around a LOT of stuff, I discovered! And mid-afternoon we headed to the park. The campground was indeed nice, as online reviews had led me to expect. The sites were relatively well spaced, with some trees between each, which was nice. Water faucets at each site, along with an electrical hookup, picnic table and fire ring. We set up the tent, and took a hike on the trails before we headed back to get the fire going and cook dinner. We kept it simple, just hot dogs with some snacky stuff on the side like cheese and crackers. And then it started raining, naturally.

So we retreated to the tent for an hour or two, while the rain moved past. It wasn't a heavy rain, and I guess it was a nice test to make sure the tent was waterproof enough! Once the rain finally let up, I got the fire going again so we could toast marshmallows for Smores. And then we turned in, and discovered that we really need to invest in sleeping pads to go under the sleeping bags before we try camping again. :)

We also discovered that other campers are assholes. Well, maybe not. But we're generally quiet people and thought we might find some quiet in camping, but no such luck. There were a couple of larger groups who were extremely loud--talking, shouting, screaming, loud music, fireworks (including a few that sounded like freaking bombs), you name it. Eventually they settled down, but it made crystal-clear the trade-offs involved in the endeavor. You can have facilities like running water and actual bathrooms nearby, or you can escape the hell of other people, but apparently not both. Something to keep in mind. Maybe earplugs would be another good investment for next time!

Not much wildlife to report, really. On our hikes we saw a raccoon, a pair of deer, some woodpeckers and hawks, scads of squirrels, and.. that was it, really. At night we did hear some owls after everyone finally shut the hell up, which was nice. After we woke up Sunday morning we took a short early-morning hike back to the springhead, and were pleased to have it all to ourselves, which would probably be unheard-of at any other time of day. And it's a gorgeous spot indeed--I don't think I'd hiked to the springhead since I was a kid myself!

So all in all, pretty good experience. Learned some stuff, for sure. Could have done without the rain, and the loud fellow campers. The important thing it that the kids all seemed to enjoy the experience, so I think we'll do more of it in the future. But not in the summer!

Some more photos below the cut. :)

Clicky! )
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!

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