Ups and Downs of the Week

Vtech Bluetooth Phone – So we finally got our new Vtech phone system. It can hook up to a traditional landline if you have one, but it can also connect to a cell phone via Bluetooth, which is what we’re doing. My trusty old RAZR, which has an excellent Bluetooth system, sits attached to its charger full time and is connected to the Vtech base by Bluetooth. There are two other Vtech phones besides the base; one down in my office and one in our bedroom. When someone calls our “home phone” which is now an additional Verizon wireless line, it rings all three Vtech phones. We can also dial out using the Vtech phones and see missed calls and caller ID. Not bad for $80. Since we’re saving $20/mo on the line now, the system will pay for itself in 4 months. Best of all, it was a snap to set up. Took me all of 5 minutes to set up the base phone and the extensions just needed to have their bases plugged into an electrical socket.


Egypt – Glad to see the revolution was largely peaceful. Mubarak is stepping down but there is no clear replacement. Nature abhors a vacuum, so this is a very dangerous time. I just hope the Egyptians are as happy 6 months hence as they are now. This could go either way.

Spring Training – Pitchers and catchers have pretty much arrived, although the official reporting day is Monday. There’s new grass on the field. Anticipation builds.

Robert Kubica – One of the more promising Formula One drivers was badly injured in a rally car crash this week and will likely miss the whole 2011 F1 season. What a shame. He’s worked so hard to get his team’s (Renault) car into shape and it was really looking like they might be top contenders this year. I hope he recovers quickly and completely and can at least be back trackside soon.

Kindle for PC – While I’m not a fan of the Kindle device itself, the Kindle for PC software is pretty cool. I downloaded a book about my new camera that is now easy to read while I follow along with my camera in hand. Plus the book is searchable via Kindle. I don’t think I’d want to read a novel this way, but for How-To stuff, this is a great way to read a book. And in the case of the book I bought, it was several bucks cheaper via Kindle.

Ups and Downs of the Week

Verizon – Just dumped our landline connection through our cable company and ported the number over to Verizon. So now we pay $10/mo for a house phone instead of $30. We would have had  it working through our new Bluetooth base and extension phones if it weren’t for…

UPS – Ok, I’ll spot them two days for the weather. But things that were due to be delivered on Tuesday should have been delivered today. Now we have to wait until Monday due to “Emergency conditions beyond UPS’ control.” What a crock of shit. How about Piss Poor Prior Planning. Seems to me UPS should have been able to adjust for a few bad weather days. I used to drive for UPS in Germany. We never seemed to have a problem covering bad weather days. And Fedex delivered today. No excuses for not delivering packages that have been at the local UPS center for three days.

Verizon Mifi – Due to icing and downed power lines, we lost our normal internet connection for three days this week. The Mifi kept us in touch with the outside world.

Ups and Downs of the Week

Barn Fire – While it’s sad that these folks lost their pole barn, an RV, a ’73 Mustang, and some other equipment, it’s very good that it wasn’t their house and no one was hurt. The temps here today were hovering around zero, so props to the firefighters for dealing with this in such nasty conditions. Hell, in *any* conditions. Firefighters are my heroes, mostly because fires are my greatest fear. Anyone who braves a fire for a living is a better person than I.

Barn Fire Barn Fire

Red Sox – Paps and Ells are signed. All the pieces are in place. I cannot wait for this season to start. I may switch to DIRECTV and get the MLB Extra Innings package this season so I don’t have to deal with MLB.TV’s lousy service.

New England Patriots – One and done again. What is it about this team that makes them forget how to dominate when it *really* counts? They used to be able to win the big game. But since the Super Bowl debacle with the Giants, they seem more concerned about not losing than they do about winning (to paraphrase Patton).

Gabby Giffords – Moved to a rehab hospital already. Simply amazing. While the element of luck can’t be overlooked here, there is no doubt a good deal of courage and determination are also evident. The entire country is hoping for a full recovery for her, I’m sure. Politics be damned.

Motorola Citrus – I picked up a new phone this week. It’s a Motorola Citrus. I wanted something that would cost me nothing (got it as an upgrade), would do email push from Exchange (had to buy a $20 app called Touchdown), and work with the BMW Bluetooth hands-free setup in my cars. This phone pretty much fits the bill. There have been few snafus, though, so the jury is still out. I may still need to move up to a Droid2 or DroidX, which I was trying to avoid. The one thing this phone has over those other two is size. It’s no bigger than my old RAZR. Easy to slip into a pocket.


Veterinarians – We’ve been battling cancer with a cat of ours for months now. She’s really gone downhill the past week and we thought she was near death, so Sarah brought her to the vet with the idea that we may put her down and end her suffering. But the vet said we could try some steroids and some hydration by injection. Lo-and-behold, the cat is doing better and actually ate something tonight, which she hasn’t done in days. She’s still not long for this world, but she’s going to be with us a bit longer thanks to the knowledge and dedication of people who choose to practice medicine for animals.

Ups and Downs of the Week

Yo, Adrian! – Adrian Beltre signed a 6-year, $96 million deal with the Texas Rangers this week. While I think the Rangers are auf dem Holzweg, I don’t begrudge Adrian his windfall. He should kiss his agent, though. In other good baseball news, Sox-killer Matt Garza has signed with the Cubbies, which means the Sox won’t be seeing much of him this coming year.

Time – Another year gone by. Tomorrow I hit 52. Time is sliding by faster and faster every year. Scary sometimes. On the other hand, I still feel young mentally, like I really haven’t hit my stride yet. Sometimes the physical aches and pains remind me that the freight train of antiquity is pulling into the station, but my general outlook is that I have a long way to go. My psyche is feeling like my body is committing treason. Strange.

iPhone/Verizon – Supposedly the iPhone is coming to Verizon in February. *If* it’s not too pricey and *if* the data plan is reasonable, it may be time to upgrade my trusty old RAZR. I really like my iPod touch, and having the phone and iPod combined in the iPhone would be a nice move. But I’m leery of Verizon’s penchant for gouging customers for their data plans with high demand equipment.

Chuck and Lauren – My nephew got married to a (by all accounts) very special girl. ‘Bout time! I look forward to meeting her. Welcome to the family, Lauren.

Ups and Downs of 2010

Family – Although we’ve been through some illnesses and injuries, we’re all still healthy and doing ok. There’s a lot to be said for that. Our own family here has grown with the addition of some new cats and kittens. They’re a lot of work, but they’re worth it.

Economy – Despite some positive (and I use that term lightly) indicators, the economy is still in the dumpster and shows few signs of recovering soon. I’m halfway through the third year of a pay freeze, although I am very glad I still have a job. The oil companies and speculators are in the act of committing wholesale robbery again, but the rest of us won’t be seeing an increase in income in the near future.

Red Sox – Another roller coaster season. They did very well considering injuries and such, but they faded badly at the end, mostly due to really poor pitching performances. On the bright side, they’ve picked up Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Bobby Jenks, so 2011 is looking pretty sweet right now. Can’t wait for April.

Patriots – Talk about a surprising season. Most folks had predicted they’d be lucky to have a winning season. Instead they’re leading the NFL. Amazing coaching by Belichick and another banner year for Brady have lifted them to home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Amazing.

Miracles – Or maybe just really good planning. Either way, it was the year’s bright spot to see the Chilean miners make it out of that hell hole alive.

Airline Travel – It gets worse and worse. Between the nightmare of getting through TSA’s gauntlet and the continued mismanagement of the airlines themselves, there is no shortage of really pissed off fliers out there.

Technology – Some really cool stuff appeared on the scene this year. Apple and Android led the way with a quantum leap in mobile computing. My personal tech inventory got a boost this year from a very nice 42″ HDTV and new Canon T1i DSLR. Plus I saw most Red Sox games on the new HDTV thanks to my Roku box (although a mini-thumbs down to MLB.TV’s poor service, which almost made the whole deal worthless).

Education – Mine is done. At least the formal part of it. I completed my degree program and was awarded my Master of Science degree on Dec. 20th. So glad that’s behind me.

I finally moved up to a full DSLR camera. This is my new Canon T1i. This is the 18-55mm lens. I also have a 55-250mm lens. So far I’m liking it a lot, but the weather hasn’t been cooperative. I took a shot of a very cold prairie on the way home as well as the methane burn off near a landfill I pass. Both were taken hand held. Can’t wait to try out some really long exposures using a tripod.

Canon T1i

Cold Prairie

Methane Burn Off

Ups and Downs of the week.

New Toys Week – Finally moved into the 21st century and got an HDTV. I’m amazed at the picture quality. Movies are very cool on the new TV. I’ve been watching Netflix through the Roku box. Still haven’t been able to watch a Sox game, though. Maybe tomorrow night.

DVPRemote – My Roku box remote has been acting up. It seems to freeze or go to sleep and is useless, so I downloaded an iPod Touch app called DVPRemote which mimics the Roku remote. It works very well indeed. I love good programming. Well done to the developer.

New (to me) X5 – My trusty ’03 X5 has hit 150k miles. I sense a disastrous mechanical failure in the near future, so I’ve traded it in on an ’05 X5. It has 100k fewer miles and few new bells and whistles. I pick it up tomorrow. Can’t wait.

'05 X5

Red Sox – I was hoping they’d go out with a bang with a 20th win for Lester and winning 90 games. Well Lester blew his chance and unless the Sox sweep the Yankmees this weekend, the 90 game season won’t happen either. Still, they’ve done well and I’ve enjoyed watching them this year.

Ups and Downs of the week.

Roku HD Player – This thing is great. It streams Netflix movies and MLB.TV, so now I can watch the Sox on the big screen. Bit of a Thumbs Down to, though. A day or two after I ordered mine, they dropped the price $20. They had to know the price was going to drop.

Red Sox – Papelbon blew yet another game Thursday afternoon, this time a 5-3 lead against the Blue Jays. Tonight they blew an 8-2 lead and ended up losing against the Rangers. Second walk-off loss in two days. Plus they burned through the entire bullpen tonight, although Wakefield only threw one pitch. That one went into the stands for the game winner.

Writer’s Block – All I need to do to finish my degree program is to write this final paper. Yet I’m having the hardest time devoting energy to it. I’m sick of school.

Here we go again –  Another batch of kittens have found their way into our home. We need to find other homes for these guys.



Ups and Downs of the week.

Red Sox – Faltering on this West Coast trip, mostly due to poor bullpen pitching. That said, they left the bases loaded three times last night without bringing in a run. And worst of all, Pedroia is hurt and may be out for a while. Still, they’re in 2nd place, so it’s not all bad.

Blame Game – Enough with the useless finger pointing. The disaster in the gulf is now a physics problem and will be solved as such. Finger pointing won’t make it happen any sooner.

Apple iOS4 – Nice update. Couple of big improvements to an already cool system.

Windows 7 64-Bit – A little equal time here. MS has a winner in Windows 7 64-bit. Very fast and still with some way cool features. Just bring plenty of horsepower if you want to play.

Critters – Been busy in the backyard lately.


Little Guy

After dinner swim

Ups and Downs of the week.

Red Sox – Playing their best baseball of the season lately. They’ve closed the gap to 1st place in the AL East to one game.

  State of Illinois economy – There’s no money to maintain backroads. The backroads here are tar and gravel and without new gravel, the tar is coming up in pools everywhere.This is just one symptom of a state that is circling the drain. And the idiots in the legislature still won’t vote for an income tax hike. Unbelievable.

Celtics – Nothing to be ashamed of in their loss to LA. They fought down to the wire. Kudos to them.

  New PC – Got a new PC for the office. Quad Core processor, 8GB RAM, and 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate. After nearly 6 years with my old machine, this one seems impossibly fast.

  New Toy – Picked up an iPod Touch the other day. Simply amazing what this thing can do. I’ve been having a ball with it all week.

iPod Touch

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