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Mobile Music

I have never been willing to spend a large sum of money to purchase a mobile MP3 player such as the IPOD or similar.  But this past week I found a great deal on TigerDirect for a Sandisk Sansa 8GB player.  My gracious wife made no objections to me getting it, so I happily placed the order.  It arrived on my doorstep on Saturday afternoon in the mail, and I began goign through the options and setup.  I can play video, music, photo slideshows, FM radio and even use it as a voice recorder.  It works with Rhapsody which has recently become my favorite online music source.  I like ITunes too, but I find I use it more for podcast subscriptions than music, only because I don’t have an IPOD so its not as useful for me.  I spent a few hours this weekend searching for and adding new music to my new player.  I know I am years behind and people have been doing this for quite a while, but having a mobile music player and being able to sync playlists and media and take them with me anywhere, is really cool! 

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Nice fall afternoon

It is a beautiful fall day in Tampa, with temperatures in the upper 70s and a nice breeze blowing gently through the back yard with the sound of neighborhood kids laughing and playing. The kids are playing with fallen leaves and actually getting along very nicely at the moment. The girls got to go to the park today and we plan to spend the remainder of the visible day outside enjoying the beautiful day. We live next a preservation area, so that means its time to get some insect repellant…

Catching up

Its been a busy two weeks and I have not posted much to my blog lately. So here is an update starting with the weekend we went to Orlando…

On Saturday October 6th we drove up to Orlando and stayed at the Hilton resort at Disney. My aunt and uncle put us up at the hotel to spend some time with them while they were in town for a conference. We got to the hotel sometime around 4:30 or so. We grabbed some dominos pizza for dinner and Liz’s sister Christina came over to visit for a while. My aunt and uncle arrived later that night and we visited for a while until after midnight.

Sunday we got up and went out to breakfast at a waffle house. Once we were done eating we headed back to the hotel to get ready to go to Downtown Disney. On the way back to the hotel, we saw an IHOP which we would have all preferred, but didn’t know was right there. We got back to the room and got ourselves ready to go and walked over to the Downtown Disney marketplace. We walked around a little and let the kids play at the lego store and checked out some neat things they had setup on the street.

The kids rode a train around a little, and we got some cute pictures of that. They also rode a merry-go-round which they always love. Then we headed over ot the Rain Forrest cafe for lunch. That place is really neat, and has a unique atmosphere and awesome decorations and effects. Every 30 minutes there is a thunderstorm and the animals go wild and they flash lights, etc. Its a lot of fun, the staff are friendly and the food was good.

We walked around a little more and ultimately headed back to the hotel to go swimming. The kids and uncle David beat us all down to the pool, and when I got there, they were already in the water. I tested the water with my toe and found it a little cold for my liking, so I took advantage of the cool breeze and occasional sun to get a little rest on a lounge chair. I had just started to doze while the kids were playing in the pool, when I was awaken by the sensation of rain drop on my face. We got our stuff together and herded the kids under an umbrella and got ourselves ready to go back into the hotel. We got back to the room and changes and visited a little more, and by this time it was after 5pm, so we decided to get ready to go soon. I think we left close to 6 or so, and the rain actually stopped which was good, because traffic would have been slow if it had kept raining. We were home before 7 and got to crash for a bit before getting all the kids off to bed.

Then this past weekend, the 13th and 14th, we actually had a nice productive time at home. Liz and I got a good amount of yard work done and trimmed bushes and cleaned up, which was good. Sunday we spent the bulk of the afternoon at Bonnie Brae park in Temple Terrace, hanging out with friends and letting our kids play. It was a very nice evening and the weather was perfect! The kids played on the playground, and the adults visited and played with their kids. It was very relaxing.

Sunday morning I had a problem with my new phone (the tilt). I set my phone to vibrate in the morning and later it went off so I pulled it out of the holster to check and the screen was all washed out and practically un-usable. I tried to call AT&T about it, but the office I needed to talk to was closed until Monday. So Monday I called and they are sending me a replacement, which I should have by tomorrow (Wednesday). I hope this is not a bad batch of phones and just a strange fluke with the individual unit I received.

The long weekend

This is going to be a long post, so be prepared for some reading…

Firday I took a personal day from work to stay home and watch the kids while Liz went to a conference in Orlando. She actually left on Thursday afternoon, but her parents came earlier on Thursday to help with the kids. So I got home on Thursday evening and she was gone 😦 After some settling in, we decided to have soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches for dinner. This is a simple meal, but very tasty (I make a great grilled-cheese sandwich). I had a bit of a crazy time trying to time everything just right, making soup and sandwiches for so many people at once. It turned out good, which I was a little doubtful about since we were one package of soup short of what I thought we’d have. There was plenty for everyone and it was good.

We got the kids in bed on Thursday night and had some fun beforehand playing the wii. Once the kids were in bed, Liz’s parents played the wii and after a while we shut the wii off and watched a movie. We put on Eragon and stayed up late.

Friday morning, after the kids and I had breakfast, we had a wii tournament. I played a few games with the girls, and then Liz’s parents started a bowling competition. They both achieved pro status and had some very good games. They were beating me and I lost some of my pro points.

Then we decided to run out to a store to try to buy a computer for my brother-in-law’s fiance’ We went to Circuit City in New Tampa and looked around (this was while Sarah was in school). We were there for about 2 hours with Michael and Abby actually being pretty good. We found a computer we all agreed was a good one, for about $400 but it didn’t come with a monitor. They had a package deal with it, but the monitor it came with was a bulky CRT.

Kind of kidding, I said they could buy me one of the nice HP flat panel monitors and I would give them my 19″ dell FP at home and give them some money for the upgrade. They agreed and the rep checked inventory, but found they didn’t have any of the computer we picked out in stock. So my mother-in-law asked if they would sell them the display model. The rep agreed and came back with a price around $330 something. We went to check out and they were going to keep the computer for a few hours and re-image it and then have us come back to pick it up. We were about to leave when Liz’s dad found a problem with the receipt. After probably an hour of waiting and adjusting, they just couldn’t get it right. They ended up getting the computer for about $185 and they got an additional $30 discount on the monitor. All in all, they paid around $460 or so for the computer and monitor, which is an awesome deal!

We went to Wendy’s after that since we are all starving and it was around lunch time anyway. I was in a hurry because I wanted to hook up the new monitor. We got to Wendy’s and got in the drive through line, but the line was moving slow. Liz’s mom suggested it would faster if she just went in and ordered. So I pulled out of line into a parking spot. We waited in the car for what felt like 30 minutes, when finally Liz’s dad went in to check out what was taking so long. Turned out they were out of chicken right at noon (go figure) and had to cook more on the spot. We finally got out of there after 12:35pm and made it home to sit down and eat. I fed Michael and got him down for a nap and started setting up the new monitor on the computer desk. At first, it worked, but was blurry, and didn’t have the software installed for the proper resolution or settings. After installing the right software, the DVI output stopped working. When set to the right resolution, the monitor would go into standby, and the display would just stop. I tried everything, uninstalling, safe mode, new drivers, new ATI software, etc. Nothing worked and I ended up taking the video card out of my multimedia computer and reloading my home computer’s OS. Once reloaded with the other video card, there were no problems and things were fine.

So now my multimedia computer is stripped of its video card and is non functional. I ordered a new video card from TigerDirect online, and it should be here sometime mid-week. I got an HIS Radeon 512MB GDDR3 Pro card, with nice specs and enhanced HD support. This should be a major improvement! I was sad to find out later that my power supply in my multimedia machine is only 250W, meaning that the new video card won’t have enough power in that computer. I may end up for now putting the new card in my main computer and taking the original video card that was in the playback computer and put it back in since I know that works. But ultimately, I want to get new power supplies for both computers, a 500W for the main PC, and a 450 for the multimedia computer.

After spending most of the afternoon working on the computers and getting things setup, I began working on setting up the new computer that my in-laws bought. I managed to re-image the computer to factory, and do all the updates and install needed software. Then I moved all their files and settings off the old computer to the new one. Then I cleaned up the old computer and removed all the clutter and made it like new. (Liz’s mom ran home once we got back from CC and got their existing computer). The arrangement ended up being that they got the new computer, and my monitor. Then my brother-in-law’s fiance’ got their computer and exsting 17″ flat panel monitor. So the arrangement worked out well for everyone.

We had Pizza Hut dippin’ strips pizza for dinner, and I also ordered a large half cheese, half pepperoni pan pizza. It was sooooo good, we love the dippin strips, which is only a seasonal thing from what we can tell. I ordered online and had it delivered.

Friday night, we started watching Spiderman 3 and didn’t finish because it was late and the movie was long. So I went to bed around 12:30 something or close to 1am.

Saturday morning we played more wii, and I finished final touches on the computers. Then we started cleaning up the house in preparation for Liz to get home that evening. We had lunch after Liz’s parents left that morning. We got to play more wii and relax a bit before Liz got home. We had the left over pizza for lunch which was still good, we had just enough left to have enough for lunch.

I was just putting the kids to bed when Liz walked in the door. Must have been after 7:30pm and I had just put Michael to bed. So I went and got him back out of bed to say hi to her. I put him down on the floor in his room, and I think he already knew she was home. He ran out of his door and into her arms and just held her for a while. He is such a sweet little boy!

Got all the kids to bed Saturday night, and Liz and I sat on the couch and chatted about our weekends and relaxed a little. It was nice to catch up and fill each other in on all the goings-on of the weekend. She had a great time at her convention and told me all about it. I told her the long story of the computer work for the weekend.

Sunday we had Amanda and her kids over for lunch and the kids got to play for a while and Lizzie and Lina got to play bowling on the wii. Amanda finished a turn for Lizzie, and said it could definately get addictive.

All weekend I had meant to cut the grass, but never found time, I was busy all weekend and never got around to it. Then I took a sick day on Monday because I was getting over some stomach problems that I seemed to pick up over the weekend. I had thought I could try to at least mow the front yard on Monday, but it kept raining on and off all day. It was a weird weather day, it would be sunny outside, but a rain cloud would be over our house, and it would be raining. Sometimes hard rain would come down and it would get grey outside, but then it would stop and the sun would come back out. All day it was like this, so I didn’t get a chance to cut the grass.

WABC project meeting

I met yesterday afternoon around 2pm with Michael Odell about the WABC website. We went over the details of the site, and how its setup, where to go for what, and gave them all the info I had. I sent Michael the e-mail I composed for him with all the links and information needed to manage the site.

His mom came with him and seemed very nice. Michael seemed a little timid but he got on the computer and I had him go through adding a calendar entry and looking things over. They both sounded like this should be pretty easy and then they left just after 2:30. So it wasn’t a long meeting, but hopefully was informative.

Once we get more information from Gary and Lynn regarding actual content for the site, we can get it up and running and finish our part for now.

Labor Day Weekend Summary

What a fast weekend! Friday afternoon Liz and I spent most of the time on our computers working on stuff. So we didn’t do much of anything exciting then. One exciting thing that did happen Friday night and Saturday morning is that I sold a bunch of stuff on ebay and got the go ahead from Liz to get a wii. So Saturday afternoon I called around to try to find some store that had any in stock. I called Toys R Us on Fowler, and they said they had one. When I got the store not 15 minutes later, the red shirt told me they were sold out. I am kicking myself now, because I bet if I had asked him to double-check he would have found the one the person on the phone said they had in stock. So of course when I get home and call more places and repeated the process on Sunday, no one I called had any!

I’m not going to get off into a huff about the whole eBay thing with all the wii price gouging going on, but sadly, if I can’t find one at a store by this weekend, I may have to buy one online. I hope it doesn’t come to that, as I really don’t want to support the price gouging, but I’d really like to have ours by next Friday, as we are having guests over and it would be great to have for company.

I don’t think we really did much of anything great on Saturday again, just kind of hung around the house and spent time together. I think Liz and the girls watched a movie.

Sunday, we were supposed to get together with some friends, but one of their kids got sick, so we didn’t get together afterall. I did however, go help build a set for MOPS and spent about 5 or so hours over there doing actual work! 🙂

Monday, we had a last minute get together with some other friends, but I needed to cut the grass. So I ended up cutting the grass in the late morning, while the kids went with Liz to go swimming. I got done cutting the grass and had to get a shower, and get something to eat. Once I got there to meet up with my family, they were all getting out of the pool and about to eat lunch. Then it started to rain. So I took Abby home with me in the Miata. The kids love it when they get to ride in the Miata. And its nice to get that one-on-one time with them. Liz put on more of the movie they watched the previous day and then we got them to bed after dinner.

Liz and I had been trying to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy again, so for the past 2 nights we had watched as much of the movies as we could possibly stay awake to watch. We got half way through the third and final movie last night, so we have to watch another 2 hours or so tonight to finish off the trilogy.

I put together a list of store phone numbers within a mile of my work that I plan to call daily to check wii inventory. If I can find a store nearby that gets a wii, I can hopefully run over there and get one before they sell out so I can pay retial price for it. I plan to call every day around noon or just before to check and see what they have. I only want one, hopefully I will be able to find one around somewhere amidst all this mad rush and inventory shortage.

Cleaning weekend

Saturday we decided we would try to tackle the garage again, and see if we could clean it out. We made good progress and got mostly done before getting distracted by things like eating and getting kids to bed that night. I haven’t parked my car in the garage for several days now. Its almost done and hopefully I’ll be able to park in there tonight.

Sunday, we took the kids swimming after some naps in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day, nice and sunny, and cool in the shade. I watched the kids play and swim and relaxed. I didn’t feel like swimming because I still had work to do at home when we got back. We got some pizza for dinner and had the kids cleanup the messes of the day, then it was off to bed for them. Liz and I crashed on the couch and watched Night at the Museum and then got ready for bed.

We also realized how sweet and cute our little Abby was. She said a few things this weekend that were so cute and the way she talks and how she says things is just heart melting.

Productive weekend

We had a busy but productive weekend! On Friday I had some work to do which took me until about 9:30pm; on and off a little after that or so. We watched a little TV before going to bed. Then on Saturday Liz went to a yard sale while I got the kids breakfast. We got done and loaded into the van and tried to go meet her there, to visit some friends and also for me to give Liz her cell phone which she left at home. We passed her in the Miata on her way home, but I waved her to follow me. We drove to a gas station and got some gas which both of our vehicles needed. Then once we got home we started doing some work, Liz got started on the playroom roof, scraping up the existing cauking and putting down a new layer of roof sealer. We talked to our neighbors a little while working on that project and then headed inside. We got some lunch and then headed off to Wal-Mart to buy Liz’s long overdue birthday present. We went to the New Tampa Wal-Mart and got her a nice new bike. It was pouring down rain while we were in the store, but fortunately, by the time we left it had stopped. We got home and I dropped her off at the curb by our house and she got to ride her new bike back to the house. Later that evening, I decided to start cleaning out the garage, partly beacuse it needed it and partly because we need a place to park her bike! Liz helped me and we got one side almost completely cleaned out. I’m putting out a bunch of trash tonight and we can continue working on the other half of the garage another day. Sunday we got to rest some in the afternoon and just spend time together. Liz is painting the girls room today so last night she broke down the kids bunk beds and hopefully when I get home, I’ll see a nice finished room.

Summer Weather

Well summer is definately here in Tampa! For the last couple weeks its been warm, rainy and humid! Its been around 90 or so during the day, with high humidity, and lots of sun during the day. In the evenings most days, we get afternoon/evening thunderstorms. These are conveniently scheduled for anytime I decided I need to cut the grass. Surprisingly I haven’t use the air conditioning in my car much this summer, just like last summer, its not too bad riding around with the top down (mostly in the morning, or if I’m lucky enough to beat the afternoon storms). The A/C At home is acting a little funny, I may need to call someone to come take a look. Hopefully its nothing major, but the pump has been running and running lately, so I don’t want my electric bill to skyrocket either. Its bad enough that I pay more for the fuel charges for my electricity than for the actual exlectricity I use.

Ratatouille

I took Sarah to see Ratatouille last Tuesday afternoon. We caught the last afternoon show together. We were almost late getting to the theatre in New Tampa, but made it just in time. We both liked the movie, it was funny, had a good story, and the characters were great. The animation was really good and it was nice to sneak out and do something with Sarah just the two of us.