Archive for December, 2006


Friday, December 29th, 2006

Here’s some of Loyal Reader Number Twelve’s Christmas loot. She’s not too interested in these guys yet.

Spent another day in the garage. We got Loyal Reader Number Three’s brake discs turned, thus eliminating a shudder he was getting when he hit the brakes at high speed. We then tested Loyal Reader Number One’s radiator cap (it was bad and we replaced it) and cooling system (it’s leaking but we can’t figure out from where although we’re pretty sure it’s not going to be easy to fix).

We pulled out his turn signal flasher and went to the auto parts store for a new one. They had something pretty reasonably priced, so we took it home and installed it. It didn’t work. We took it back to the store and got another one. Installed it. It didn’t work either. We got suspicious and called our friendly Ford dealer. It turns out the flasher for a ’93 Taurus is a special-order $70 part. We took the semi-working one apart, fiddled with it for a while, and put it back in the car. It seems to be working now, so we’re waiting for it to fail again before we get too excited about ordering an expensive new one. Our fingers are crossed.

That was pretty much it for today. We jacuzzified again this evening and Loyal Reader Number Four and I started watching a free on-demand movie called Ernest Goes to Jail. It’s every bit as sophisticated and cerebral as you would imagine. I’m enjoying it anyway.

Loyal Readers Numbers Three and Fifteen are leaving tomorrow morning. We’ll be very sad to see them go. Their visit has been lots of fun. Loyal Reader Number Six is here until about the Second of January, so at least there’s one visit that isn’t ending right away.

LRN3 brought a bunch of DVDs with him that I’ve been meaning to rip but haven’t gotten around to yet. Now I’m doing it on a panic basis. As usual.

And that’s my day. Have a great weekend, a happy New Year’s Eve, and I’ll see you on New Year’s Day!

Chinese gargoyle

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Here’s an interesting gargoyle we noticed in front of a building in Chinatown the other day. Pretty cool.

It was anniversary day today! Loyal Reader Number Four and I went up to Stockton to eat dinner at the Macaroni Grill. The food was good and so was the company. All the restaurants looked quite crowded (McDonald’s was pretty empty, though!) and we had to wait about half an hour to get seated. No problem. Worth the wait, but I’m absolutely stuffed. Then we came home and jacuzzified. Loyal Readers Numbers One and Three jumped into the 52 degree pool. Twice. They’re nuts, of course.

Pretty much the rest of the day was spent with Loyal Reader Number Three, buying parts for the brake job we’re going to do on his car tomorrow. I haven’t worked on any of my own cars yet, and the vacation is swiftly coming to a close. Don’t know how I’ll find the time. And don’t even get me started on the stuff I wanted to make.

But the water softener is in! And it even works. I need to tighten up a couple of connectors to stop a little bit of water seepage, but it’s otherwise complete. Ahhh . . . that soft water feels great.

My 1GB xD card for the new camera arrived today. I can now take 128 pictures at the absolutely highest quality level or about 512 pictures at very high quality. Combined with the new rechargeable batteries I bought yesterday, the new camera is officially In Business. No more Great Art from the poor old retired Loyal Camera. Long live the new Loyal Camera.

And it’s already time for bed. See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Here’s this year’s Christmas loot, shortly before we dug into it. Too much stuff, but we enjoyed giving and receiving it. The new camera is somewhere in that pile there, so this one was taken with the old one.

Well, it was another fine day at home. I started out making my day-after-Thanksgiving-trademark turkey omelettes for the family and a few of the boys’ friends, who were here for the long-planned Firefly marathon.

As I type this, it’s just about 10:00 PM and the marathon is still going strong. It was scheduled to start at 8:00 but was about half an hour late. There were breaks for lunch and dinner, but non-stop TV otherwise. I stayed for the series pilot and another show or two, but I had Big Things that had to get done, so I did them.

You may wonder what big things I had to do. So did I. It turns out Loyal Reader Number Six and I needed to finish installing the water softener that we got a good start on yesterday. It was rough – one of the solder joints leaked and took forever to get right – but it’s done and it works! Now we can quit destroying all our faucets, the showers, and the washing machine with that nasty old hard water. Many thanks to LRN6 for his invaluable help. The major byproduct of the exercise is that I now feel confident in my pipe soldering abilities.

By the way, we had the turkey omelettes today because we were out of town for Thanksgiving and couldn’t do them then, and we had a great day-after-Christmas turkey dinner last night. Hence, turkey omelettes today.

So that was my day. A few omelettes, a couple of Firefly shows, and a water softener installation. Tomorrow’s our wedding anniversary (28 years!), so there ought to be a little less work and a little more celebration.

See you then.


Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Here’s Loyal Pet Number Two, AKA Fluffy. She’s a little bit fuzzy there – she kept moving all the time and I didn’t want to spook her by using the flash. Not a great introduction to the new camera. Great pet, though. See the milkiness in the eyes there? We think she might be getting ready to shed.

It’s wonders of Blogger time again. I spent the entire afternoon and evening with Loyal Reader Number Six, working on installing Loyal Reader Number Four’s new water softener. It’s still not actually installed yet, but we made a lot of progress. We want to have absolutely everything ready to go before we shut off the water to the house and solder the water softener in. Sometime today.

Unfortunately, Loyal Reader Number Twelve was up most of the night last night, so we’re watching her now (she’s currently sleeping peacefully) and Loyal Readers Numbers Five and Six are getting some badly-needed shuteye. The water softener will have to wait a little longer.

Today (actually tomorrow, if you believe the date of this post) is the Firefly marathon. We’re a little more than an hour into it. It’s an entertaining series so far. We have five non-Loyal-Reader friends over watching with us. Pretty much everybody in the show has double-crossed everybody else at least once. It’s an entertaining cross between a space movie and a cowboy movie. One of the most interesting things is that the main characters keep getting shot, and we’re still in the first show of the series. I have no idea how they’ll get through even a single season. It certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat.

More on Wednesday evening. See you then.

William Tell

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Here’s Loyal Reader Number One trying to emulate William Tell’s son earlier this morning. Not a good idea. Fortunately, I didn’t get a bow and arrow for Christmas.

Speaking of which, Merry Christmas! I trust all my loyal readers are having a great day with their families. I know we are.

I have good news about the blog! I received a beautiful Olympus SP-350 digital camera for Christmas. Eight – count ’em – eight megapixels. Now my Great Art will be even better than ever. Today’s picture is from the old camera (taken just before we started opening gifts), but look for the new one’s work to start showing up Real Soon Now.

Spent some time playing two-player Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator against Mark. Of course, he totally and completely smeared me. No contest. It was fun, though. He’s enjoying it because he received a new video card for his computer and it has really pumped the old machine up. His old graphics card was a part of the motherboard, and it’s amazing to find out how much computing power it was sucking up for pretty mediocre results. It seems like a brand-new machine now. And those graphics are really pretty.

I also spent a lot of time ripping music and video for Gary’s new iPod. It’s the 80GB model – the best one they make – and I really like it. The video is surprisingly watchable, just like everybody says. We ripped and downloaded several albums and barely made a visible dent.

Perhaps the best part is that I figured out how to rip DVDs and convert them to iPod video. I’m using an application called Mac the Ripper to get the files from the DVDs and then one called Handbrake to massage the files into iPod-viewable form. It took a few tries before I got the format right, but I found some helpful information in Handbrake’s online forum. The only problem now is that it takes an incredibly long time to encode the files – plan on the computer working overnight to encode a movie.

And that’s the end of a relaxing and satisfying Christmas day. Merry Christmas and I’ll see you tomorrow.