February 2011

Fake miniature diorama. This was taken from the castle in Salzburg.

Salzburg Farmhouse

Ups and Downs of the Week

Verizon Home Phone Connect – Well the Bluetooth connection on the Vtech turned out to be inconsistent. If we used the phone frequently, it worked ok. But if the phone sat idle for a few days, which is often the case, the Bluetooth would lose the ability to transmit and receive voice signals. The phone would ring and could be answered, but no one could hear anything. So I went with Verizon’s Home Phone Connect device. This router-looking thing is always on Verizon’s network and has a regular phone cable to attach it to a phone system, like our Vtech base. The Vtech base doesn’t know the difference from a regular landline. It works quite well (so far). It even allows us to use the built-in voicemail system on the Vtech instead of Verizon’ voicemail. Time will tell if it continues to work as designed.

Verizon Home Phone Connect


Feeling Better – Still coughing a bit, but I feel human again.

Formula One – Bahrain canceled (well, postponed, but…) the opening round of this season’s Formula One series. Understandable considering what’s going on there, but very disappointing nonetheless. Now it will be another two weeks until the Australian race. There is another Middle East race later in the season in Abu Dhabi.  I hope it remains on the schedule.

Ups and Downs of the Week

Being sick – I went to my doctor’s office for a quick check of BP on Monday and started feeling awful on Wednesday. Coincidence? Maybe. Nonetheless I’m battling the worst cold I’ve had in years. I hate being sick. We’ve had awesome weather the last few days, too. And I’ve been stuck inside feeling miserable. Thank God for Nyquil.

Nick Heidfeld/Robert Kubica – Renault confirmed this week that veteran F1 driver Nick Heidfeld will be replacing the injured Robert Kubica as their primary driver for a good part if not all of the 2011 season. It’s great to see a talented driver like Heidfeld back in the field, but it still sucks that Kubica is not because of his injuries. I wish Kubica a speedy recovery and Heidfeld an outstanding season.



Miss Cal

Miss Cal

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.

A new season begins. Spring training is not far away. The truck hauling the team’s gear leaves Fenway today. Can’t wait for this season to really get going.


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.

The view from our living room this morning and iced trees around Eastern Illinois University.

Icy Sunrise


Well, to be honest, round two was a dud. We got another inch or two of a sleet/snow mix, but that was it. The ice really took its toll, though. The interstate was closed in a few places and the trees caught some grief. Our neighborhood thankfully has power, but everything immediately outside our neighborhood has been without power since last night. That power loss took out the local cable feed, so we have no TV, land-line phone, or cable internet. Luckily I have a Verizon Mifi hotspot, so we can still get online. Champaign got away with much less snow than expected as well. Still, it was a good choice for the university to cancel classes today as bad as the ice was.

This was the scene in my backyard just before dusk. The cat in the bird feeder is staring at the cardinal, the deer is staring at the cat, and the poor cardinal just wants some peanuts.

Busy Backyard

This is the result of the small ice storm that blew through last night. The second storm is bearing down on us and promises to dump nearly a foot of snow on top of this ice. Talk about nasty driving. So far, no tree loss, although one of my neighbor’s trees is looking distressed.

Ice Storm Ice Storm Ice Storm Ice Storm Ice Storm