Apr. 13th, 2017 10:56 am
kv0925: (Default)
Big decisions are the pits, aren't they?

Talked with my old boss yesterday, about the manager position he has open which I was interested in. I'm sure the job would be a good fit for me, I know and like my old boss, he knows and likes me, and all in all it would be a known quantity, which certainly has a strong appeal. He told me that if he knew I was good to go with the position, he wouldn't bother to interview anyone else, because he knows I'd do well and he knows I am in need of a position. So that all sounds good, right?

But the bad news is that, while he says he's still not 100% certain, it seems that the location of the job will be in Tampa. From where I live now, that office is 97 miles away--about a 90-minute drive each way. And that would be a big No. I asked it it would be possible for me to still work from here, and maybe go out there once or twice a week. He said if it were up to him, absolutely--but the higher-ups want the team to all be based out of that office, no ifs, ands, or buts. So to take that position, we'd pretty much have to move to Tampa, sooner or later. I could maybe do the commute for a few weeks, or work something out for a month or two. But long-term, no way.

And the wife has pretty much said no way to the idea of moving. But it seems like a knee-jerk response to me. She's thinking of the fact that we like our life here, which is true enough, and she's thinking of her impressions from the small amount of time we've spent in Tampa. And yes, selling our house might be tough, and buying a new house could be stressful, and of course moving is a hassle. And we'd be giving some things we all like up by moving over there, for sure. But there are some significant positives, too. Like:

-Her sister lives over there, and being close to her would be nice. (Though this is tempered by being further away from my Mom and Dad, not that we see them all that often as it is.)
-We love exploring new parks and museums and stuff, and there are loads of both in the Tampa area that we've never been to.
-She doesn't like the busy-ness of downtown areas, but the new gig would actually be in the suburbs, like we are now. We could surely find a house that offers the space and quiet that we like.
-We like our current house, but it's.. quirky. The design is custom and a bit strange in places, with smallish bedrooms and space wasted elsewhere, and it's starting to show its age. And we could use a bit more space too. So getting a newer, larger, nicer house appeals to me.
-We also bought the current house near the peak of the 2007 bubble, so we've been underwater almost since day 1. That could make selling it difficult--we're not AS underwater now, but a short-sale might still be necessary. But if we could sell, whatever new place we find would almost certainly be a lower monthly payment, plus it would actually earn equity, which is still a distant dream for us now. So overall, we could end up in a far better financial position if we can sell and move. Plus the company would offer relocation assistance, so moving (and maybe selling/buying homes) could cost us nothing.
-I might also be able to angle for a raise with the new position, if I say it's another condition of relocation. And hey, more fun money every month (and more travel money!) is always a Good Thing.

So while the severance package would be good, and could offer us a similar (if temporary) financial boost, assuming I can find a new job quickly, I dunno. I waver back and forth, but the idea of taking this known and stable position definitely appeals to me, since it would remove the unknowns of job hunting. And I'm already starting to feel the stress of knowing I HAVE to find a good new job to support the family, since that's my responsibility. And hey, with the right attitude, moving could well be an adventure that turns out great for us in the long run, though it certainly has its own unknowns.

But it's all moot if the wife is dead-set against pulling up stakes. I'd ask the kids too, though I'm sure they'll say no because they don't like change and don't appreciate the magnitude of the decision at hand anyway. :)

So.. yeah. Any thoughts?
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Sheesh, here it is more than halfway through January, and I see my last post was just after Christmas. I will hope this is not a sign of things to come, but.. I dunno. The week after Christmas is normally the most quiet and tranquil workweek of the year, but this time around it blew up. Some VP somewhere blew a gasket about something, and it's been pretty much nonstop work ever since. Today is quiet for a change, and my calendar is unusually clear, so I thought I'd better take advantage to say I'm not dead. Yet.

Anyway, there's too much to try to actually catch up on, so let's just recap a few things, shall we?

As you can see in the photo up top, Hallie's started horse-riding lessons. Heather found a little farm less than 10 minutes from home, a lady who's really just getting started up, so her prices for lessons were quite reasonable. Only 2 lessons in so far, but I think Hallie's enjoying it! I was able to go yesterday, since I had the day off for the MLK holiday.

Past couple weekends, I've put in a lot of work replacing stretches of our privacy fence around the house. It's all pretty old, and stretches have been threatening to disintegrate totally, so we decided to finally do something about it. I'd planned to get a fencing company to do the job, but I got a quote and it was a lot more than we expected, so I went back to the idea of DIY. So far so good, really, and a lot cheaper. Now my main concern is how to get rid of the old fence! I need to see if the county can come and haul it off, or if I need to make alternate arrangements somehow.

This past weekend I took a break from fencing so we could go visit my Dad, though. We didn't get to see him around Xmas, and then he took a cruise for New Year's and his birthday. Plus 3-day weekends are always preferable if we have a day trip in mind (and he lives about 2 hours away, so that counts). Anyway, it was a nice visit, mostly I did tech support like a good son. :) Perhaps the main thing of note was that he'd gotten an Amazon Echo for Christmas, which we all found pretty impressive. The voice recognition is cool, and we all had fun asking it random questions and asking for it to play songs. I thought it was just very cool! So of course we had to order one. :)

I went with the Tap, though--it's a little smaller then the Echo, and it's not always listening for its name, like the Echo does. But it has a battery which makes it portable, and it also works as a Bluetooth speaker. And we weren't necessarily keen on the idea of a device that's listening to us all.the.time. anyway. :) So far we really dig it. It's fun to mess with, though music is its main function. The girls will put it on the table where they play LEGOs, and take it in their room when they have playtime before bed. And it makes for nice background music for dinner, too. The main drawback is that the default music service is Amazon Prime, which is rather limited. It can do Spotify Premium, or Amazon's new Music Unlimited service, but of course those are both subscription services. I've been paying for the ad-free level of Spotify for some time, since I use it here at work a lot, and at home too when I'm working on the PC. So I'm considering whether to upgrade to Spotify Premium, or stop paying for that and go to Amazon Unlimited. Or neither, I suppose! Maybe I can get it to stream from my home media server instead, and I can add music to that as we find things we want. I'm doing the free 30-day trial of Amazon's Unlimited, so we can mess with that while I try other options.

Speaking of options, it seems like a very hackable device. Out of the box it can do home automation with things like Nest thermostats and Hue lights, and it can control media devices with the right hubs and whatnot. I'm going to try to get it to work with Kodi and/or Plex on my HTPC, and if that works it might be worth it to add a Dot in the TV room for the always-listening functionality (and Bluetooth audio streaming to my nifty new A/V receiver). I found the functionality for general-knowledge questions was a bit lacking since it defaults to Bing, so I found a step-by-step guide on the interwebs to add an Ask Google command instead, which works well. I look forward to playing with it more!

Okay, that can be enough for now. Hopefully the rest of this week will be as calm as today and I can post a bit more regularly! I hope you're all doing well so far this year. :)
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)
Some updates on stuff going on!

The A/V receiver seems to be on its way--matter of fact, FedEx reported it arrived in Orlando this morning, though it's not scheduled to be delivered until tomorrow. That was a little bit of an ordeal. I ordered it last Tuesday, and had heard nothing, so I e-mailed the retailer on Monday asking for an update. It's shipped, came the response, and I'll get an e-mail once the carrier scans it in. A bit light on details, frankly, so I kinda looked at it as a delaying tactic. But I still wanted the thing, and wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, so I waited. Wednesday rolled around with no shipping notification, though. So I wrote again and said look, I need a valid tracking number by the end of the day or I'm canceling the order and reversing the charge. That seemed to do the trick--they passed me on to a guy who both e-mailed and left a voicemail, promising a tracking number, and sure enough I got a FedEx notification not too long after that. It could be a box with 22 pounds of rocks in it, I suppose, but at least SOMETHING is on the way. I'll believe it when I see it, of course.

I'd also ordered a new basketball post and hoop/backboard from Amazon, and they'd been dragging their feet on shipping too, until today. It did say the thing was out of stock with more on the way, and it's Amazon so I wasn't worried. But that finally shipped today, which is nice. Not set to arrive until Tuesday, for some reason. I'm hoping it gets here over the weekend, I could knock out that installation.

I finally almost finished the book I've been reading forever! Sheesh. I say almost because there are some appendices and footnotes I want to look through. Weird, though--usually if I have trouble getting through a book I just ditch it and move on to something else. Life's too short to slog through a book, you know? But this one.. it wasn't that I didn't find it interesting, or even that the writing style wasn't good. It's just.. the author liked to take 4 pages to say what he could have done in 1, which made 800+ pages out of what should have been 300 or so. Fascinating book nonetheless, though--it's They All Love Jack by Bruce Robinson, about Jack the Ripper. The guy took like 12 years to research and write the book, so it's definitely thorough. His premise is that there was never really any mystery about the identity of the Ripper, or at least there shouldn't have been. But because the Ripper was a Freemason like much of the establishment of Victorian England, the police effectively looked the other way and buried evidence to keep him from being caught. He also identifies--convincingly, I would add--his candidate for Jack the Ripper, which (spoiler?) was a man named Michael Maybrick, who was a musical star of his day. He can't prove it conclusively at this far remove, especially since much of the evidence has been lost or--oddly--remains under official seal even 125+ years later. But he certainly makes a good case for it. Interesting stuff if you're of a mind--just be prepared for a long read, with lots of rage against the Ripper himself as well as the men who conspired to see him go uncaught and unpunished.

Man, I am just incapable of making a short post, even when that was my intention. But oh well, most of you have been around long enough to expect that, right? Anyway, have a great weekend. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
A bit odd: I had a 4-day weekend since I took last Thursday and Friday off, and yet I still had to work those days, plus the weekend. Just a little time in the morning to crank out some daily reporting the bigwigs wanted, so not too bad. And a bit unusual, really--it's pretty rare that I have to produce anything over the weekend. Anyway.

Thursday I took the older two girls to Disney's Hollywood Studios. They got enough interest in Star Wars to watch the movies (so far we've seen all but Episode III and Rogue One), and they've enjoyed them, so Star Wars is a Thing for us now. As such, they'd never really cared to check out the Star Wars area and Star Tours ride, so we did that and they approved. Disney is about to undertake a project to turn a good chunk of that park into a Star Wars land, so I guess we'll see if they still dig it whenever that finally opens.

Thursday evening, Hermione's band had a little Christmas concert, which was nice. After that we took a stroll in old Winter Garden, which is beautifully decorated and lit this time of year. And it was a cool night for a change, so that was nice.

Friday the girls had the last day of their homeschool enrichment program, and they put on a little show for the parents for the last hour or so of the day. That was fun. We had decided to not return to the program when it starts back up next month, partly because they raised the (already high, imho) price and the classes they expected to have weren't as good (sewing, for example--Hermione doesn't really care about that, and Hallie's already quite good at it since her mother is such a good seamstress herself). But I guess they got feedback about both, so they not only lowered the price (and added a sibling discount!), they ensured us that the class schedule would be flexible, and there would be an alternate option if a student didn't care for what was on the agenda. So now we're wavering, especially because the people who run the program are really nice, and working hard to get it off the ground--this past semester was the first, and it was done very well. So I guess ultimately it will be up to the kids, but I certainly lean towards having them stay in. It gives Heather a much-needed weekly break.

Saturday we didn't do much, really--went out for a walk in the woods and lunch, but mostly stayed close to home after that.

Sunday I went out in the morning to do some shopping and errands. Got myself a little sledgehammer, so I could bust up some concrete to remove our old basketball hoop post, which rusted through and broke a year or two ago. Hermione's shown some interest in learning basketball, for some reason, so the time is right to get a new post and fix that so she can practice. Plus it's fun to go out and shoot some hoops now and then!

Sunday afternoon Heather's band had its usual Christmas concert at the downtown mall, so we dropped her off for that and I took the girls to a park we like before we headed back to catch some of the show. Beautiful day out, so that was nice.

And today I'm back to work, but it's actually been pretty quiet around here today. I have some irons in the fire, but my presumptive-new-boss hasn't really needed much today. Which probably means he'll blow up my phone when I'm trying to head home later. Tomorrow I'm on the road to St. Pete, assuming nothing comes up to derail that trip, and then I'm taking Wednesday off this week for no particular reason aside from burning up some time. I might take Amy to Disney, I guess we'll see how we feel that morning. I need to go shopping sometime, to get a present for our little Christmas lunch and gift exchange here at work, which is Thursday. Hard to believe December is already almost half over!

Speaking of Xmas, I think we're just about set present-wise. Amy's getting the most since she's obviously still at a toy-centric age. Hallie didn't really ask for anything in particular, so we're just getting her some things we know she's kinda-sorta wanted. And I picked up a nice 3/4-scale electric guitar for her, since she showed an interest in learning. But that was a couple months ago, and really she hasn't seemed interested (though Hermione has!). So I guess we'll see if having a guitar of her own rekindles that interest. I'd give it to Hermione instead since she's actually making an effort to learn, but she's tall enough for a full-sized instrument, so.. yeah. If she sticks with it, I'll be happy to find her one, or give her one of mine. I need to make room for that PRS I've been drooling over anyway. :) Hermione didn't ask for much either, though she did mention wanting a little point-and-shoot camera of her own, so I found a great deal on a refurb camera from Canon. She's also shown an interest in making her own jewelry, so we're getting her a bunch of beads and a tool set, and some books on the subject. I think she'll like that.

Heather and I aren't getting each other much, since we generally tend to get ourselves what we want anyway. :) I sort of impulsively decided I'd like to upgrade our A/V receiver as my Xmas present to myself, even though the old one is really still fine. But it's a few years old and doesn't even have HDMI, and I've wanted to get one that does, and that has room for expansion if I ever decide to get a PS4 or something. So anyway, I found a really good price on the one I want, which made it a little bit of a splurge but not too bad, and pulled the trigger. But it's an independent dealer, and I fear it's a scam. The place says 3 to 5 business days on shipping, which is a bit ridiculous these days but I was willing to wait since the price was so good. But I ordered last Tuesday, and the order status still said 'Processing' today, so I looked a bit closer and saw some bait-and-switch reports from people about the place--like they hold off on shipping so long that the customer reaches out, and then they hit the customer with upsells for shipping charges and extended warranties. Ugh. So anyway, I e-mailed the place today, expecting to get a response of 'Call us to discuss your order' or something, at which point I'd say thanks but no thanks and initiate a chargeback on the credit card. But they actually responded to say the order HAS shipped, and I'll get an e-mail update once it gets scanned into the carrier's system. So I guess I am cautiously optimistic, but still pretty wary. If I haven't got a ship notification and tracking number in hand by tomorrow, I am calling the whole thing off.

Oh yeah, the reason I was able to splurge on the receiver (or try to, anyway) was because we got the pension money last week, a little earlier than expected! So that was nice. It felt good to walk into the bank with a check of that size, even though it's actually a bit of a Bad Thing that they killed the pension in the first place. But anyway, it let us pay off the cars and some other small debts we've been nursing along, so that will still provide a bit more breathing room each month, plus a cushion in savings. I don't want to spend much more of it until we know how our taxes end up looking for the year. But if we come out of taxes with some left, we're thinking of maybe new windows for the house (ours are thermally inefficient, to say the least) and replacing some fencing, which is looking pretty bad in spots.

Jeez, this was a much longer entry than I had in mind, sorry. Good thing it's a quiet day here! Hope you're all well and having a good Monday. :)


Mar. 16th, 2016 10:40 am
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Yesterday was not a great day. I'm not even going to talk about yesterday's round of Presidential primaries and what all that means. I'm not even going to talk about waking up with pinkeye. Again. As always seems to happen this time of year when the oak pollen hits and my allergies flare. Nah, let's talk about the pool.

So it's that time of year when I work on the pool, clean things up, make sure everything is in working order. The girls have already been going in the water, despite the water temperature only being 68F or so. They're crazy. But anyway. Yesterday evening I was working on it, cleared out some leaves, cleaned the salt cell, and replaced the filter. For reference, the filter housing looks like this:

The big nut on top attaches to a steel tie-rod which goes down through the middle and screws into the bottom of the housing to hold everything together. As has been the case the past few times I've opened the thing, the rod came unscrewed at the bottom, when it's just supposed to come unscrewed at the top. Whatever, after taking the top off I just unscrewed the rod there and screwed it back into the base instead, swapped out the filter, and screwed the top back on. Cranked up the pump and all seemed well.

Until a few minutes later, when we suddenly heard a loud pop, and I ran over to find the top had shot off and water was gushing everywhere. Good thing that happened while I was still out there working on the pool and could get it shut off in short order! Anyway, turned out the threads in the base where the tie-rod goes in finally failed, and there's really nothing to do about that except replace the whole thing. So that's ordered. So yay. I guess I'll try to get the old one removed this evening, and then hopefully installing the new one will be easy when it arrives tomorrow. It's the same make and model, so it should be a pretty easy swap. As long as I can do it without messing up the pipes that go in and out of it. I hate plumbing.

The joys of home ownership, especially with a pool. We weren't planning on the extra expense, of course, so we've decided to cancel our road trip for next week. Luckily we weren't committed--I booked hotels that were easy to cancel, and nothing else really obligated us to go. I'll still take the days off work, though--I need to burn a little time anyway, the year going by as quickly as it is. But we'll stay close to home, tackle some projects around the house, maybe take a few day trips to places we've been meaning to check out. Should be fun enough, if not quite the same adventure we were planning. Next time!

Okay, off to lunch. Hope everyone is having a better week than I.
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)
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?

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)
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. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Well, I should probably say Pool $250 or so.. But anyway, I got the replacement pump housing to finally fix that leak. I was a bit apprehensive because I feared some re-plumbing might be involved. But I was very pleased to find it was an easy job. The outlet pipe on top was secured with a screw-on collar, so that was a cinch. And once that was off and rotated out of the way a bit, I had juuuuust enough room to rotate the whole housing around to unscrew it from the (also threaded) horizontal inlet pipe. Reverse process to install the new housing, and voila! There was a teensy leak from the outlet pipe connection, so I unscrewed that again, dabbed on some teflon sealant and put it back on nice and tight, and that took care of that.

Now I'm just concerned about the filter housing. It has a long metal rod that screws into the base, and which the top part then screws onto. It's supposed to stay screwed into the base, but the past few times I've needed to get in there to clean or replace the filter (which happens fairly often), it's come unscrewed from the base, which makes it difficult to remove--and then it's an ordeal to get it back in, and getting a little tougher every time. Not sure what I can do about that, some threadlock compound, maybe? I hope so, that's an important part of the system, and rather pricey to replace!

So that was the productive part of the weekend. Didn't do a whole lot otherwise, we went out shopping a time or two, spent plenty of time in the pool because it was HOT this weekend, played some video games, the usual.

I should mention Friday--I made a trip out to Celebration to meet up with my wedding photography clients for next month. They're having a very small ceremony at a hotel down there, and then we'll roam around for photos before they head to dinner. So we met at the hotel and took a walk around the area to chat. I was a bit miffed, since it's a long drive down there and I really don't charge enough to justify client meetings and all that rigamarole. But it turned out to be fun, they're nice folks and it was a fun to walk around and talk. And thankfully the weather wasn't uncomfortably hot. I hope the same can be said next month, but we'll see. Outdoor weddings in Florida in July? Craziness! Hopefully it will be a fun day, though.

Ooh, nice! I'm still planning the NYC trip with the girls in October, of course, so now and then I look to see if the hotel prices have come down any. And today they did! I know which hotel we're staying at, but the price was a bit more than I liked. But it dropped by around $30 a night, which is not nothing, so I cancelled and rebooked. Hopefully it will come down even more between now and then!

Okay, better get back to work. Hope everyone is having a good Monday so far!


Jun. 4th, 2015 03:52 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Today's dragging, for some reason. There's work I could and probably should be doing, but.. just not feeling like it. There's nothing pressing, anyway. Kinda nice to have a slow day, but I'm ready for it to be over!

Home stuff.. this past weekend we noticed the A/C was on but not cold. June in Florida, that's Bad News. Usually it's just a clogged condensation drain pipe, easy enough to fix, but that didn't seem to be the problem. So I futzed around with it for a bit, and I don't think I actually did anything, but it started working again after a bit. I think something electrical got confused, so just turning the breaker off and back on (which I did while troubleshooting) must have reset it. Easy enough!

The pool pump, though.. I mentioned the leak in my last post, as well as my attempt to fix it with a new insert in the pump housing. Somehow I botched that, so now there's a bigger hole but the insert is still loose and the leak is even worse. Go me! Replacing the pump housing would cost a couple hundred bucks (more if I get someone out to do the work), so I have one more thing to try before I take that step. I ordered some binary acrylic plastic stuff--it's a powder that mixes with an activating liquid, and the mixture then progresses from liquid to paste to putty to hard plastic in the course of 15 minutes or so, and it even sets underwater. So I'm hoping I can use that to get the insert to get a good grip, and/or just entirely plug the hole and re-drill for the insert. I'm not entirely hopeful it will work, frankly, but it's worth a try. I'd really rather not have to re-plumb the whole pump, I'm not great with that sort of work.

I can't get used to how quiet my office is now. For the past 8 years or so, I've had this huge PC next to me--I needed it to run a bunch of automated data jobs and whatnot, plus it functioned as a file server for all my documents and whatnot since it has a RAID setup. But it's old, and was getting pretty clunky, and our IT people have been on me to decommission it since it's too old to upgrade the OS and they're phasing out any machines with XP that can't be upgraded to Win7. So finally this week I found a home for the few automated jobs I still needed to have run, and shut it down. I didn't realize how used to its rather-loud fan I'd gotten! It's eerily quiet in here now. I guess that's good, though.

Seemed like there was something else I've been meaning to post about, but now I can't think of it. So have a song instead!

The Damnwells are a band out of Brooklyn that I came across several years ago--I found their stuff a little hit-and-miss, but the tracks I liked I liked a lot, and the rest grew on me. Unfortunately I discovered them right as they were breaking up! But they got back together to record a new album recently, and it's pretty solid. This is the first song I heard from it, which remains one of my favorites.

Hope everyone is having a good day! Finally almost time to go home!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
My back is sore. I took the day off yesterday, and spent a decent chunk of it pressure-washing the pool deck. Which involves stooping over slightly most of the time, and I am feeling it today. Hell, I was feeling it while I was doing it! I really need to work out more. I'd started running around the block a couple times a week, but I've fallen off that wagon. Need to get back to it, it really did make me feel like it was tightening up my core and back muscles.

Anyway, I decided to take the day because I really haven't used much time yet this year (thanks to cancelled NYC trips and such), and we're already rounding the corner into June. Sheesh, the year is flying!

I also got the WiiU hacked so it can play Wii games from an external hard drive, so that's nice. Seems to work fine so far, though there's another step or two to get there, and an annoying prompt to format the hard drive every time I power up the system. I think there's a way to fix that, though, gonna try it tonight, maybe.

We also went to a cool book sale. I guess for a week or two every year, the Scholastic Books warehouse around here opens up for a public sale. Most of the books are a simple 50% off the cover price, but they also have books down to 50 cents or so, and one area where you can fill a box with books for $25. We had no trouble finding plenty of books, mostly for the girls but a couple things I'd wanted as well. The only downside was that it's in their warehouse, which is not air-conditioned, so it was toasty in there. They did have big fans, at least! As my wife said, it was probably good because we might have spent more time and money there if it hadn't been uncomfortable!

Back to work today, seems like a pretty relaxed day. I have a meeting in a few minutes, but then my afternoon is mostly clear. Might run out and shop for some screen to fix our pool enclosure. And maybe do some ore of this silly series of online training modules I have to do for work. Security of credit card and personal information, none of which I actually deal with in my job. But oh well.

I hope everyone is having a good week!

Well then.

Apr. 2nd, 2015 12:45 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Remember a week or two ago, I mentioned that there was a rumor that the cable company I work for was going to be sold, and the CEO tried to put the kibosh on it and say it was all just unfounded speculation? Yeah, well, earlier this week we got the official word that there is indeed such an agreement. It's tentative, and again depends on whether the merger of Comcast and Time Warner gets FCC approval. Clearly the folks who own my company think that will happen. So I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it. My boss and our leadership have been in full spin mode since that news came out, trying to assure everyone that it will all be for the best and there's no need to worry, at least until the deal is finalized. I guess the good news is that it's more of a partnership than an outright sale/takeover--the people who own our company now will essentially become the largest single shareholders in the new, merged company. Whether we keep our name remains to be seen, as does much else, of course. I'm not too concerned yet, largely because everything is still up in the air, and even in a best-case scenario we aren't liable to see any changes until next year. I suppose I almost hope this deal DOES go through, because if the FCC rejects the Comcast/TWC deal and our deal falls through as a result, it's quite possible that Comcast or TWC would try to gobble us up instead, on far less cooperative terms. Anyway, not really worth worrying about presently. But I'd better polish my resume at some point this year, just in case.

In other news, as of yesterday evening the squatters across the street are gone. I guess the bank which owns the property finally got their ducks in a row, and sent a crew to secure the property. When I got home from work, some guys were literally hauling everything out of the house and into the driveway, including the appliances. And the residents were scrambling to load everything into their trailer to haul away. I feel bad for them if they were telling the truth, and truly thought they were renting the place on the up-and-up. I find that a little hard to believe, because I'm sure the rent was too good to be true and the "landlord" had to be shady as hell. But either way, they're gone, and we'll have to keep an eye on the place to make sure it stays empty. Hopefully it will go on the market soon, though I'm sure it will sell cheap and drag down the rest of our property values even more.

Okay, back to work. Hope everyone is having a stellar Thursday!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Well, weekend was kind of a bust. The weather was pretty gloomy, so outdoor plans weren't really happening Saturday we headed over to visit my Mom, since it had been a while and Amy had been asking to go there. Can't complain when the kids WANT to go to Grandma's house, right? So we hung out there for a while, went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch, and had ice cream cake as a belated celebration of Amy's birthday.

Speaking of, did I mention that? Amy turned 4 last week, which seems hard to believe. I neglect proper kid updates here, but they're all doing pretty well. Amy is the one who currently makes us want to pull our hair out, though. She's quite different from her sisters, that's for sure. They were always shy and quiet, for the most part. We had our struggles with Hallie as she went through these ages, but even that seems tame compared to Amy. She's just so tenacious, stubborn and determined. She knows what she wants and she wants it RIGHT NOW, as she is wont to tell us at high volume. Will not take no for an answer, everything is a negotiation, and if all else fails she resorts to name-calling and threats that are actually pretty hilarious. Last week there was an incident where she threatened to poop on our heads, which still makes me chuckle even as I type this. It's hard to maintain the requisite parental authority when your kid makes a threat that cracks you up.

Anyway, I keep telling Heather that it will pass, and eventually these characteristics will serve her very well indeed. Imagine if she always retains this level of stick-to-it-iveness and tenacity! Her focus sometimes is really quite amazing, especially when you consider her age. If she's on a roll, she'll sit for literally hours focused on one activity. I have trouble with that at MY age, and she's barely 4! She started violin lessons about a month ago, and she's amazingly good at those from what I hear. She'll occasionally disengage from the lesson and go over to Heather (who hangs out in the room) and ask when she can be done with the lesson. But then she goes right back to it, does what she's told, and apparently impresses the teacher with how well she does. At home, sometimes she'll head straight for her violin when she gets up in the morning, and she's been equally eager to work through the 100-lesson reading book with Heather. She gets excited to learn the next letter or sound, and it's pretty awesome to see her try to read things around the house or when we're out and about. Again, for someone who just turned 4, it's pretty amazing. But those bits definitely come at a price. :)

So anyway. Sunday there was a good chance of rain again, so we just ran around some stores and planned to spend the afternoon relaxing around the house. But then Heather mentioned that she'd noticed some water in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, which I determined was coming from the garbage disposal (garburator, for any Canucks in the audience). The old one came with the house, so it was probably due for replacement anyway, so I bought a new one and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to swap out. Of course, today Heather tells me that the dishwasher isn't draining, and I immediately realized there must naturally be a plug in the dishwasher inlet of the new unit since not everyone has a dishwasher, and I didn't knock it out. Oops, there's always something. So I know what I'm doing when I get home from work!

Oh, a quick update on my post about gaming and the girls. Tomb Raider: Anniversary has remained a hit with Hallie. We even started watching the first TR movie, and she likes that too. Some parts are tough for her, but she's doing fine for a 7-year-old, I think. I thought Portal would be good too, since it's all about navigating the environment and problem solving (plus the portal mechanics are cool), and she likes that one too, though I think some of the later levels are beyond her until she really gets the hang of WASD+mouse. I played through it myself, and can't help but wonder what took me so long. The humor baked into that game via GLaDOS is just my cup of tea, and I was utterly tickled by the "Still Alive" song at the end. :) So Portal 2 is probably next on my agenda. I also introduced the girls (including Amy!) to Terraria, and they've been having a blast with that one. They love the building and crafting part of it, and mainly play it for that rather than to advance through the game. But hey, whatever! We've been having a little emulation fun on the new HTPC, too. I'll have to see what they think of some Commodore 64 classics next!

Speaking of old video games and computers, have any of you read Ready Player One? I'd heard of it, and it sounded good. A friend gave it high praise on FB so I bumped it up to the top of my list, and wow, awesome read. Just a lot of fun, and irresistible to me. While I enjoy a lot of books, I can only recall a few that really grabbed me and made me impatient to get back to it so I could see what happened next. This one goes on that list!

Okay, better wrap up and get home to fix that dishwasher! I hope everyone's week is off to a good start!

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