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fantastic 4 – rise of the silver surfer

Last night Liz and I watched the new fantastic 4 movie. I had seen it in the theatre when it first came out. She liked it and I got to catch a few things I missed the first time around. its out on blueray also, which makes me really want to get a dual hd dvd player.

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Fun and fast weekend

We had another fun weekend, but it went really fast!!! On Friday night we had a few couples over to play games and have snacks, etc. We all sat around and snacked for a while and talked. Then we started to play catch phrase, which I’m not good at, but enjoyed watching and participating. We laughed a lot and it was fun. Then we got setup on the wii and I watched them all play boxing and we all got a kick out of watching Liz fight Mike and go nuts trying to knock him out. The night ended a little earlier than we could have handled, but the ladies had an event to go to early the next morning.

Saturday, it was just the kids and me for a while. Liz went to her event in New Tampa and I got the kids up and we started our day. We played the wii for a long time and Sarah was a natural with bowling, we scored me with 126 and her with 122 our first try. On her next try all alone, she got 148! She was also good at golf, baseball and tennis. Later around 1pm or so, Mike came back over with the kids and Sarah and Nathan played against each other for a while, and it was so much fun to watch. They played the practice rounds and tried all the different games, it was lots of fun!

Sunday Liz had Susan over to look at pictures and I worked on our storage situation a little for the computers. I ended up buying a 500GB external drive to keep our pictures and downloads on. This way it only runs when we need it, and we can take it with us. I plan to consolidate our storage onto this external drive, and delete old stuff we don’t need anymore, and maybe burn some stuff to DVD. Once done, I can sell about 3 hard drives that used to either be in a server, my PC or on a shelf. My PC has a 450W power supply which is having problems keeping up with the load. I may need a new power supply at some point as well.

I have Liz ready to buy a wii, we are going to use some money from the sale of computer parts I have and save up a little for it. In a few weeks we should have one.

Paperless home office!

I got a sheetfed scanner in the mail today, and started doing some searches for free or open source software for use in making our home office a paperless home office. I am so tired of all the clutter in all the papers we get from creditors, and not to mention all the papers from Sarah’s schooling and Liz’s activities. I found this great software called DocsVault, which has a free home edition for download. I had searched for a few hours and really hadn’t found much of anything that cought my eye. Some expensive server based systems looked great, but were overkill for my home needs. So I came across this software and downloaded it to give it a try. I was impressed right from the start, it has everything we need for organizationl; cabinets, drawers and folders. It stores everything in an internal database and can use my sheet fed scanner. It has backup and restore capabilities built in, and can burn stright to CD/DVD or to a hard drive location. It integrate with MS Office and save documents directly to the cabinet/drawer of your choice. It has search capabilities and lots of powerful features above and beyond what I thought I could get for free. I started today scanning in papers, anything from bills, tax paperwork and all the way to the girls drawlings. Its perfect and exactly what I need to take care of my digital home needs. This should decrease the clutter and allow for better archiving and make things easier to find.

Weekend summary

This was a (mostly) very nice weekend.  On Friday afternoon/evening we had some guests over for dinner and got to watch a movie, which was great.  Our kids had a great time playing together and we all had a great time.  Saturday I got a ton of downloaded shows and movies burned to DVD.  Something I’d been putting off for quite some time.  I was able to free up lots of much needed hard drive space.  Liz had a fundraiser thing for her MOPS group to go to at the St. Pete Times Forum working on the floor at a vendor’s booth.  She got home early becasue there was no business that night.  They still got paid which was good.  I seem to recall getting to rest a lot on Saturday and Sunday.  Sunday I continued to burn movies to DVD and the kids got to play outside since it was a little warmer (abotu 65). 

   Its been chilly here the last few days, and all this week the highs are only around 60ish.  Today I think the high will be mid 50’s.  I’ve completely adjusted to Florida living now, and cannot tolerate temperatures below 70 degrees anymore.  I’m still trying to find a scientific explanation for this.  When I lived in the MD/DE area, I’d never even put on a jacket till the temperatures went below 40.  But in our Florida room, I was able to sit there with the afternoon sun coming through the glass windows and warming me up nicely.  It felt great!  I sat there with Abby and watched the cloud formations and tried to find shapes in the clouds.

Light fixture change

Liz went to a parent teacher meeting at Sarah’s school last night.  She was gone until almost 10pm.  We were recently given a chandelier to replace the “ugly” one over our dining room table.  We have high ceilings in our house, perhaps in the 10′-15′ range and the light fixture I needed to change was near the highest point.  I only have a 5′ laddar so this was obviously going to be a small challenge.  I was able to stand near the top of the laddar and remove the existing light fixture, by hanging onto the cord coming from the ceiling.  Once that was removed and I had nothing to hold onto, it became far too dangerous (or uncomfortable) to continue trying to install a new fixture.  We have all tile floors, so a tumble from the laddar could have meant certain death!  I decided it would be clever to put the laddar on the dining room table and use that to get a higher stance and not have to go so far up the laddar. This was a great idea, but had the effect of causing our table to make some not so nice noises.  I looked at Liz and thought “Hey, your half my weight, why don’t you go up and see if you can finish installing the fixture”.  This actually worked out ok, it took her a little longer to finish everything, but in the end it worked out great.  Together we got the new light installed and it looks great.  Its a little higher than the previous one because it had a shorter cord, but thats good because the old one was a little low for my taste.  We didn’t start until 10pm on this project, so by the time we were done, around 10:30, we just sat down and watched the last few minutes of DVD 1 of LOTR the Two Towers. 

The Great Speaker Hunt

I recently decided that I’d like to replace the older surround sound speakers currently installed on my multimedia PC at home. Since I don’t have cable or DirecTV or any other paid TV Service, I use my multimedia PC to download/watch any shows or movies (not counting DVDs) that I want to see. This works out great for me, and the quality is amazing. My multimedia machine is a 1.8GHz AMD system, with 512MB of RAM, a 400GB hard drive, and Realtek HD Audio processor. I checked out my system specs and found that if I bought a really nice set of surround sound speakers, I’d probably need a new sound card. I like the Realtek HD audio, but the physical outputs on the motherboard are limited. I won’t have enough outputs to power a decent speaker set in 5.1 surround. So I went online and took over an hour to decide on a new sound card. I ended up getting the Creative Audigy EAX PCI. Its not an expensive card, but should deliver good quality 5.1 6 channel audio to my living room. Now the hunt is on for a good speaker set, I want to get something thats 5.1 surround, has 2 right channels, 2 front channels, a center channel/sub. I need something with a remote for volume control. I also want something if possible, on stands, so I won’t have to worry about finding temporary stands or mounting stuff on the wall.

I think I found a few sets on eBay that look pretty nice, and are fairly affordable. I don’t really need a receiver, because I won’t be using it for any radio or with any other inputs. All my multimedia comes from my multimedia PC, so as long as whatever I get connects to my multimedia PC, I’m set. I don’t want to go overboard either, since I won’t be using them to their full potential till we either move to a more secluded area, or the kids are older. We live in a close neighborhood, so I don’t want to make too much noise! I’ll try to put together some kind of diagram and spec listing for my multimedia PC and home theatre system once its complete.

DVDs in the mail?

By now, most everyone should be getting their Christmas DVDs in the mail. I know its not the best production in the world, but hey, where is the feedback? 🙂

Christmas DVD mailout

Yesterday, we finally received the picture order for our 2006 Christmas Card mailers. Its a nice casual Christmas picture of our family on a glossy 4×6 with our new address and cell phone numbers on them. I have been waiting for about 2 weeks to get these, which is why we will be mailing them out late. Better late than enver! We are mailing them out to 3 families today or tomorrow, and sending a bunch to my mom to distribute. Its not as good of a video as I was hoping, but I’m sure people will still enjoy it.

Christmas Video 2006

Much to our delight, the Christmas video for 2006 is complete!!! I was up until 11:30 last night encoding the last of the video and rendering the DVD menu. This is the second annual video we have done and its still a learning curve. I thought things would be a bit more smoothly, but we did run into a few snags. The girls weren’t the most cooperative and we waited until way too late to really do it up the way I had wanted. I did come up with a few last minute ideas that I think made it nice, but its up to the audience to decice. I have 7 separate video sections on this DVD. Aside from the main movie, I added a bloopers section, special features which include auditions with the girls beforehand, and there is a deleted scenes section as well. For a final touch I added a slideshow containing some of the best pictures of 2006. After reviewing the final product, there are many things I would change and improve, but I just don’t have time. I think it came out good and its another step in learning all the software and video techniques. I hope that year to year they will get better and better. The video is sometimes sudden in starting and stopping, which is something I plan to correct next year. The slideshow has some blurry pictures in it, but hey, we have so many pictures, you try to sort through all of them and not go crazy. I also used some new software this year to compile the video, and was able to create a nice DVD menu. I was pleased to find out that the DVD works great, the whole project turned out fairly well and we have time to mail it out to people before Christmas. If I had more time I might be more concerned about it and spend more time tweaking the scenes and correcting a few things, but I’m sure whoever watches it will like it just fine. This year, I show two new additions to our family in the video, Michael of course, but also two nice scenes of my Miata!!!

Last minute change of plans

I took vacation days for Thursday, Friday – Monday and Tuesday to close on our houses and get moved in to the new house. So on Thursday morning I was off of work, Liz and I went to New Tampa and picked up the moving truck. We had purchased several items online and needed to go pick them up, so we headed out to Brandon to pickup our new couch set. We got there and the people were really nice and we had no trouble loading the new set. We left there and tried to find a place to stop and get a money order, because I was a few hundred short of the cash I needed to pay for the next item. We found an Amscot where we were going to try to buy a money order, but we only had a check and credit cards with us. They would not let us buy a money order since they deal strictly with cash. So we went to Lakeland anyway to pickup my new TV!!! I bought a 57″ Hitachi Big Screen. I got a great deal on it, it came with a matching entertainment center too. So there were two guys there at the house we picked it up from who helped us load it onto the truck. It took a while and lots of effort, but we managed to get the TV and entertainment center out of the house and onto the truck. I skinned up a knuckle hauling that monster, since we had to pick it up to get over dips and when moving at angles. We secured the TV to the side of the truck and went on our merry way. We only made it a short distance when we heard loud bang from the back of the truck. We pulled over to find the bungie cords we used had come undone. We re-secured the TV this time with rope and more blankets to protect it from any further impacts. Eventually it settled down and we made it back to Tampa in one piece. But something else happened on our way back to Tampa…

As we were leaving and about to get back on I4 to go home, we were sitting at a traffic light on Florida about to turn onto Memorial to get back to I4. Suddenly lots of police kept zooming by us, probably 10-15 cars, we had no idea what was going on. We saw tons of cops, an ambulance, lots of unmarked cars, and just a lot of police activity. We finally made it onto Memorial and were going down the road when we saw lots of people standing on the sides of the road and more police activity. We made it by the police as they just were coming out to stop traffic. We went a little further and saw motorcycle cops driving up and down the road looking for something. We went on our way and didn’t think much more of it. When we got back to Tampa, we heard what happened. Some guy (they think a drug dealer) shot two police officers and a dog. The dog and one of the police officers died and the other office is in critical condition. Last night there was a $15,000 reward for the capture of this guy. This morning, it was up to $40,000. I just now (at the time of writing this post) heard that they found the guy (think he was hiding in the woods) and they shot and killed him. So we were right there in Lakeland when all this happened just moments after it took place.

So we made it back to Tampa and decided to stop by the new house and drop off our loot into the garage. We were told to call the sellers agent for the code to the keypad of the garage door so we could get inside and unload out things. We tried calling and got her voicemail. We called over and over and were about to give up and leave after being there for about 30 minutes. Liz’s mom had just arrived to pick us up so we could leave the truck there until we heard from the sellers agent, just then the phone rang and it was her with the garage code. So we opened the door and unloaded the TV and entertainment center with the couch we got. Then we took the truck back to our house and were going to start loading more onto the truck. Liz had to leave at 2:30 to pickup Sarah from school, so she ate something quickly and left. Liz’s mom also left around that time. That left me home alone to load the truck. I was going to get as much loaded as I could and take a load to the garage so that when help came later, all we had left to move would be last minute things and the larger items I need help with. Well, once Liz left I got ready to go outside and haul stuff into the truck. I took my keys out of my pockets, and put my cell phone on the desk. I didn’t want to have a lot of stuff on me while moving. So I went outside and closed the door behind me. I didn’t realize until a few minutes later that I had just locked myself out of the house with no keys, no phone and no way back inside until Liz got back. Now Liz had to go take Sarah straight to Amanda’s house so she could watch the kids while we moved stuff. She also had to feed michael before she came back. So Liz didn’t come rescue me from my own stupidity until around 4:20pm. We originally thought that Thursday would be our only moving day since we had to be out of there for closing the next morning. So I was in a rush to get stuff loaded and moved, and was rather distraught that I had lost almost 2 hours of my moving time by locking myself out of the house. So Liz got home, and started to pack up more last minute things and I started loading more stuff onto the truck. I had put some things that were on the back porch in the truck already. Around 4:30 we got a call from our realtor, who said there was a delay on the buyers side and they were looking at a Wednesday closing now. So we had to unload what I had loaded onto the truck already, and help Liz finish getting what she needed. I then took the truck back to New Tampa and dropped it off. Liz took some things to Amanda’s house and they got Pizza for dinner. I got back from New Tampa to Amanda’s house around 8pm. I ate and helped get the kids to bed and left around 9:30. I spent the night alone at our old house since we still had most of our things in there. I didn’t want to leave it all there alone.

I got up this morning and came to work a little early so I could eat breakfast in the break room, since they provide pastries and bagels and such every Friday morning. Liz originally left me some milk so I could have some cereal for breakfast, but forgot to leave me some cereal. So I was stuck at the house with no food. I had a bagel and creme cheese for breakfast along with a yummy cheese danish.

I then got a call this morning from our realtor again with a few updates. Apparently I was not told of two more repairs to our house the buyers wanted done. Now I have to patch one more crack in the garage floor (which is normal in FL for a new house) and replace the air filter in the return on our hallway. The buyer is going to do his walkthrough on Monday while the appraiser is there.

So now we have reserved the moving truck for Saturday and Sunday just in case. Hopefully on Saturday we can get all of our stuff moved out of the house into the garage of the new house. I am meeting my realtor to get the truck at 9am tomorrow morning. This should be a fun weekend! And its killing me, I have that nice 57″ TV sitting in the new garage and no way to play with it until Wednesday! 😦 Maybe I will take my DVD player and some cables with me tonight and hook it up just to see it play. I’m so impatient.]]>