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Monday, November 20, 2006

November 20, 2006

A Busy Week Indeed

It tuns out that I was correct in my guess that I would get little accomplished in the past week. The week started out fairly benign, with regular work schedule and an evening meeting on Tuesday.

All bets were off as of Wednesday, though. Long story short, both Beth and I were sick with one of those 24-hour stomach flu things. It was an absolute nightmare. I haven't been that sick in I can't remember how long. For me, it started around 9:30 Wednesday morning; by noon I had left work, and by 4:30, I felt like I was dying (that was when we were at the clinic -- see below). However, by the time 11:30 rolled around that night, I was tired but not feeling sick anymore. The next day (Thursday) I was really tired, but not sick like I was on Wednesday.

Beth, however, was a different story. She started feeling ill around 6pm on Tuesday, got progressively worse throughout Wednesday, ended up somewhat dehydrated, got taken to the clinic by myself (who was not really in much better shape at that time -- 4pm), and ended up getting 'refilled' at the hospital where we both rested (her on a bed, myself in a chair one of the nurses brought in upon my request) until about 9:45 that evening. As like I, she was feeling much better (but tired) on Thursday. So we both took it easy on Thursday and Friday morning.

That's the abridged version of the story. My fever truly broke (the worst) when we were at the clinic side of the facility in the exam room. This was around 4:30 when the doctor walked in. He initially thought I was the one he was there to see. :P

Anyway, things are good to go again, but I hope it's just as long until the next time I have to go through that again.

Open House & Birthday Party

Saturday was the Free Source Energies open house; an event we definitely had to attend. It was cool, and I got to take some pictures of the model exchanger unit which they had in operation that day. I don't have the pictures anywhere yet, but they're just fresh off my camera, too.

It also happened to be the day of Dad's surprise 50th birthday party. Much to his dismay (he was adamant about not going to be surprised at a party), he was 'gotten.' That was a good event too, one at which I was able to see several people I'd not seen for some time. Good times to catch up.

Upcoming Times

This week has been pretty quiet so far, leading up to Thanksgiving. I know I'm not going to have any time to get any more things accomplished around here, but once Sunday afternoon rolls around, I should be in good shape to finally get some projects worked on. We'll see what happens.

Until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Monday, November 13, 2006

November 13, 2006

Weekend Project Update

Well, I ended up having a fairly productive weekend, although it wasn't quite as productive in the way I'd originally anticipated.

I did manage to terminate the satellite receiver feeds for our bedroom and living room. This means they both hook up now through the wall plates rather than using the long cables running around the rooms and whatnot. This is the start of the real structured wiring project, because now I've started hooking things up. smile

I also managed to start cleaning up the basement. This is one part in a series of steps, because I had to start cleaning up in order to make headway to installing the distribution panel for the structured wiring project. As a result of actually doing that project, I will have to remove most things from the shelving unit (thus cluttering up the basement again). The purpose of doing this is more or less to force me to go through all the clutter and clean house.

There's still some work to do in that regard (cleaning up the basement), but it's not nearly as daunting a task as it was 36 hours ago.

I wanted to fix the side garage door, but I didn't want to haul my table saw outside (it was cold). Once I get things cleaned up a little more, I'll bring the plywood inside and work on it there, then just install it in the cold. That'll work just as well. It's going to be at least a week before I get to that project, though.

Painting!

While I didn't get as many things accomplished as I'd hoped, we did manage to get the little bedroom painted. Not completely painted, but the ceiling and wall basecoat is complete. There's some faux finish which now needs to be done, but that's easier to do in small doses.

I also managed to install the new vent register after painting, so we have much more fine-grained control over the heating and cooling in that little room. The old one was almost impossible to control (aside from closed and open).

So, now that the basecoat has been done, all that's left is to do the faux finish and paint the trim. The trim and doors will take some time, but it'll be straightforward and won't have to all be done in the same day. So, hopefully that can be done before too long. Then we can move on to other projects.

As a result of this painting project, I was forced to finally take out all of the cleaned-out garbage. The stuff we'd packed away during moving (two years ago) and finally went through to keep or toss. I had quite a fire of the stuff that was burnable. For the remainder, I filled a garbage can. smile

I've got a bit of a busy week coming up, so I don't know what I'll get accomplished this week, but we'll see. Until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Friday, November 10, 2006

November 10, 2006

Post-Election Debriefing

I am always glad when the election season is finally over. The constant battle (in more ways than one) gets really old after a while (a few days), and it always seems that the last week of campaigning makes up for the remainder of the year in regards to the coverage and advertising.

Anyway, enough of that. I, of course, took my opportunity to be active in the process by voting. I don't consider myself extremely well-versed in all the candidates' positions or whatnot, but I'd have to believe that I know more about them than the 'average joe' -- as in, when I do research I don't solely rely on campaign materials. The worst part of it is really cutting through (or ignoring, rather) the crap and focusing on the actual issue(s) at hand.

I'm also not a big fan of selecting candidates based upon one or two 'core value issues.' Good examples that are typically used by people (at least lately) are abortion and stem cell research. While I won't argue that these aren't important issues, when it really comes down to it, they really have nothing to do with a candidate's qualifications to take office or how a particular candidate will perform in office. I tend to select candidates based upon qualifications.

That said, overall this election season, I was pleased with the results (local, state, and federal). While there wasn't any highly-contended local stuff (for me to vote on -- I live in the wrong area of the county for that smile ), there were some important state offices to fill. I have to admit that I was a little bothered at first by the state results, but after stepping back and looking at the overall picture, I have a better feeling about it all. I was of the opinion (and still am) that most of those folks needed to be ousted. There were some I enjoyed seeing get the boot, but then there were also a few (one in particular) which I was quite disappointed didn't get the boot. I have to admit, though, that the challenging candidate put up a much better effort overall (at least what I think) than those who have previously attempted.

So, we'll see what happens now. I remain optimistic -- at least for now. smile

Weekend Projects

Well, I'm not exactly sure what I'll be able to accomplish this weekend, but I have some ideas for projects I'd like to at least begin to accomplish:

  • Fix side garage door
  • Insulate attic doors
  • Terminate some coax for television feeds
  • Clean up/Organize basement
  • Install Structured Wiring Enclosure
  • Install two low-voltage boxes in office
  • Install permanent piece of sheetrock in office to replace temporary sheet which is covering up the old closet door hole.

It all depends upon my ambition -- I intend to sleep some during the weekend as well. smile

Until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Monday, November 6, 2006

November 6, 2006

Sound Update

Since the last post about miscellaneous musings, we were able to install and test a microphone preamp device to assist with the church sound system. I am very happy to report that it seems to have solved the last of the problems. We're now to the point of simply needing to tweak settings to maximize the effects throughout the building.

Shed Cleaning

A while back (but since the October 25 post), I was able to take some time and thoroughly clean out the little tool shed. This was a necessary project, and actually when it came right down to it wasn't terribly difficult to accomplish. I really didn't get rid of anything, but the reorganization has created much more room for the 'off-season' time (as in, I have room for everything -- including the grill).

While I was at it (since I had to take all of the items out of the shed, I also did some winterizing as necessary and put everything back for the winter. It was a most excellent project to complete.

Garage Cleaning

It was actually jsut yesterday afternoon (Sunday) when I got around to cleaning out the garage. It hadn't been done for a long time and also really didn't take that long to complete. When it was done, though, I was thoroughly impressed with how much better it looked. I was also able to (finally) hang up the extension ladder and whatnot.

While the lower area is good and clean (or at least as good as it gets in an old garage), the upper shelf area still needs to be completely cleaned. This is going to be (at best) a springtime project, because there's a lot of stuff up there which came with the house and needs to be thrown. Since I also need to not keep things outside right now (or at least, keep things enclosed), coupled with the daylight saving lack, it'll be easier to handle this during the spring cleaning phase. This will also allow me more time to go through things (because I'll have more other storage areas available when things aren't all put away).

So, I have a clean garage stall now. Hooray!

Attic Insulation, part deux

This weekend I was able (with the assistance of my brother) to quickly complete the attic insulation project (at least for the walls). It didn't take very long to complete, and should help considerably with heat loss during the wintertime.

As was the case with the other attic spaces, I took the time to install low-voltage boxes on the southern walls of the bedrooms. More about that below, though.

The only additional insulation which I'll likely do (but I haven't a clue when this will be tackled -- perhaps not until next spring or summer, depending upon temperature conditions and how ambitious I feel) will be under the attic floors (specifically the attic floor on the south side of the house). This won't be a terribly difficult project (since those floor boards are easily removed), but we'll see what happens. Regardless, the insulation which has currently been added should help considerably for the winter.

Wiring!

Well, once the insulation in the southern attic was completed, I took advantage of the additional labor and decided to pull wire for our bedroom. When I did the bathroom project, I made four runs of 1" conduit from the basement up to the southern attic, so getting wire from basement to south attic was easy; it's the run for a few wires to the northeastern attic (in our bedroom) that was going to be the tricky one.

We basically ended up running the fishtape under the floor across the bedroom. This went fairly smoothly, especially with two people working on it. Parts of this joist space will eventually be insulated (see above floor project reference), but the remainder is wide open between sides, so it's a perfect option for running wire. No obstructions aside from wall caps (which only stick up a little bit into the space).

So, as of right now, our entire bedroom has been wired. It's not yet terminated (I need to get some more supplies from Home Depot upon my next trip (I'm not sure when that will be)), but the wire is all ready to go. The nicest part of this is that once wires are terminated, there'll be no more need for a coax wire running around half of our bedroom nor will there need to be a phone wire running along the stairs just to bring a phone jack to our bedroom.

Fantastic!

With the completion of our bedroom's wiring, I have two rooms ready to terminate in the basement (our bedroom and living room). With a minimal amount of effort, I'll have a third ready to terminate as well (our office), and then with some additional work (again, another under-floor in the joist space run from south attic to northwest attic in the little bedroom) to the attic space, the little bedroom will be ready to go.

It actually looks like I'll be installing the structured wiring enclosure this fall/winter. Go figure. It only took a year to get that far. smile

Active Baby!

Last night, while I was taking in some TV viewing on the couch prior to bedtime, Beth informed me that I needed to feel for the baby's movement again. Unlike times before, this time movement was more prominent. It's quite an active creature. Still a little bit like Alien to me, but very neat and cool nonetheless.

Anyway, until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Thursday, October 26, 2006

October 26, 2006

The Baby -- It Kicks!

Okay, so I don't really have much to note here today aside from the fact that I was actually able to feel the baby moving around. Not a whole lot, but there's definitely something in there (just in case I didn't believe the ultrasound pictures).

In an odd way, it's a bit like that movie Alien (since something's living in there), but it was really neat to experience that kicking (or punching, or elbowing, etc.) feeling.

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

October 25, 2006

So It's Been A Week-And-A-Half...

...since my last post here. That's not too bad, all things considered. It always seems to stay busy, no matter how many projects you've completed. Ah well... I've been meaning to write one of these for a few days, but by the time I get home from work and tackle some projects, it's time to eat and sleep it seems.

Baby Update

Well, Monday (November 23) was the day of the 20-week ultrasound. It also roughly marks the halfway point in pregnancy. smile I must say that this ultrasound was much more detailed than the previous one (which had been done at around 7 weeks), mostly because you can actually see recognizeable baby features.

So, I am happy to report that everything looks good; all 10 fingers and 11 toes . o O ( joke ) are in place. It was really neat to see fingers and toes, as well as everything else which was visible (bones and the like). For the record, even if we had decided to find out what this critter's gender was, the baby was not cooperating on Monday morning. It was in a sideways position with its legs crossed at the time.

Although, I have to mention that (even though Beth has told me) it's an active little creature. During the live ultrasound feed, it literally looked like that boxing nun.

So, on Tuesday (November 24) we had the regular doctor visit. According to the radiologist's report (he had studied the ultrasound pictures from Monday), everything looks just fine. We did end up scheduling another ultrasound for next month, mostly because [the radiologist] wanted to see some better chest pictures (to check the diaphragm and lungs, etc.).

In the meantime, I took some time last night to scan the couple of ultrasound pictures from this latest scan. It's nice to have a different desktop background.

Recent Projects

I'm using the larger heading to 'group' the recent projects that I'm outlining below...

Window Plastic

I spent some time on Sunday working on the installation of outdoor window plastic for the upstairs windows. The entire project (installing tape, plastic, and securing with tack strips) only took about three hours for the three sets of windows. That wasn't too bad, I didn't think -- especially since there was a lot of moving around that had to be done during the project.

I'm hoping that the additional tack strips (on top of the double-sided tape) which are stapled down will prevent the problems that I had with the outdoor plastic I used on the kitchen window last year (which now has its proper storm window in place).

On Monday after work I did the last window plastic installation for the bathroom window. That was the only downstairs window I needed to cover for this year. In a perfect world (where's Walgreens?), I'll replace those old aluminum storm windows next year and won't have to use window plastic, so I'll just have to do the removal in the spring and then touch-up some paint and whatnot.

Apple Picking

Last night (Tuesday), when I got home I picked the apples in good condition on the tree with apples that withstand freezing temperatures. I ended up with three very full paper bags of apples; hopefully they keep for a while. I tried as best I could (reasonably) to obtain as much fruit as possible without introducing badly damaged fruit. This will hopefully prevent the problem we had two years ago with the apple maggots eating away the entire collection.

So as long as those apples last, I won't have to buy apples from the store. smile

Low-Voltage Boxes & Attic Work

On Saturday, I decided to tackle one of the indoor projects which was the primary holdup for not painting (at least for the little bedroom which will be the baby's room). We recently bought enough paint to do the entire upstairs (both bedrooms and the hallway/stairwell) because it was on sale (and had a hell of a rebate), but there are a few things which need to be tackled before we paint. One of those was window plastic (which had to be on the outside since we're going to paint trim), another project is gentle sanding of all trim and doors (which hasn't yet been done) to prepare them for painting, and the last project was the insulation and preparation of the attic spaces (which are accessible through doors in the kneewalls upstairs).

So, since I knew it would be a good project to have out of the way (at least for the little bedroom), I cleaned out the small attic space in the room, then installed a low-voltage box (for future use) and insulated the inside walls to help prevent the space from being too warm. The exterior wall spaces and roofline was previously insulated, but to help with ice dam potential issues, I added additional insulation to the interior walls to help keep them cool. So, I ended up doing a lot of stapling work (to keep the existing insulation in place and tidy and to install the new stuff), but I am very happy to report that after the fact (and vacuum job), that attic space is now more usable than it had been previously.

I also did the same thing to the small attic space in our bedroom. There is now only one attic space (the large one on the south side of the house, which is accessible from our bedroom) left to insulate on the inside. While the space is larger, the job will actually be easier than the smaller spaces since there's less work to do in tidying up the existing insulation.

Anyway, now that I've got LV boxes installed in two of three attic spaces, when the time comes I can run wire to those locations (likely a winter or spring project, although I said the same thing last fall) and everything will be ready to go. Furthermore, we only need to do some very light sanding on the woodwork upstairs and we'll be ready to paint (at least the little bedroom).

Bushwhacking

I forgot to mention this earlier, but a week and a half ago we worked outside in cleaning up some of the brush along our treeline to the east of the house and also cleaning up the six bushes in the front of the house. I spent a lot of time with the chainsaw and clipper, but things look much better than they did before and should be less unwieldy during the upcoming season.

My only concern is that I may have been a little over-zealous in cutting back the stumps on the tall bushes in the front. I like those bushes (I don't know what they're called), but the stumps were getting to be over 18 inches in height. Since those two particular bushes grow up and not really out, they were starting to look pretty nasty at their bases. So I took the chainsaw and cut them back to more like 6-10 inches. The way I look at it right now is that they were already well into their dormant states, and if they don't come back next spring, it was probably time to remove and replace them anyway.

So we'll see what happens...at least the other four bushes look good regardless.

Still To Do Projects

I'm still intending to do a few more outdoor projects. In a perfect world, this would take place before daylight savings time ends (which is Sunday morning), but at least the more time-consuming projects are done for now.

  • Organize shed and put things away
  • Clean up tools and organize (outside)
  • Clean up garage

The most pressing thing at the moment (and the project I'll likely focus the most effort on immediately) is the organization of the storage shed, since I still have to find room for the grill in there.

God, Is That You?

Well, maybe not quite like that, but sorta.

One of my recent side projects (unrelated to work or home) has been in working on the church's sound system. Without going into great detail, there's a system currently in place which is on the order of 20 years in age. The system still works quite well, but we recently have noticed some trouble with various aspects of the system. One item of concern is that a wireless microphone periodically cuts out. Another is a volume issue with one section of the building. Another (probably instigating the action the most) is an issue with our personal listening devices (for the hearing impaired and also for our video recording) and a lot of static noise.

So, actually one week ago today, another guy and I took the entire system apart (at the business end) and did some Frankenstein kind of work. In particular, we cut out all of the unused or unnecessary bits. This was mostly to help keep with the KISS principle.

That seemed to have taken care of part of the problem (ambient static noise over the overall system), so following up on Thursday and Friday, I worked more on bringing everything back on-line. For the most part, I think several of the problems have been resolved, mostly by tightening-up the connections and removing all the excess stuff which is no longer used.

The only two problems still remaining are the static noise on the personal listening devices and a volume issue for two speakers in the rear of the building. After all the above work was done, I'm fairly positive I know now what is causing the static. We've got a very nice wireless microphone setup, but it's not outputting enough power for the system. What this means is the wireless microphone has to be cranked up in order to be audible. This isn't a problem for the overall system (because there's enough ambient noise to not notice small amounts of static), but since the personal devices have their own volume controls (and they broadcast through an earbud or headset), it's much more noticeable.

When other audio sources (aside from the wireless mic) are used, the personal devices work fantastic. So, I've recommended a preamp device to be hooked in-line with the wireless microphone (but before it reaches our large amplifier) to boost the signal. This should mean we can turn down the input for the wireless on the main amplifier, which in turn should cause much less static on the system.

It doesn't solve the volume problem, but once this problem is solved, we'll know if it's necessary to do more work on the rear speakers. If that's the case, we're likely only looking at running a dedicated wire for those two speakers and installing an in-line volume control (which would allow us to manually adjust the volume for just those two speakers to compensate for their location).

DVD : Dynamite

Okay, so it's not an AC/DC song, but it's been on my list. I created my first DVD last week. One of my previous posts makes note of an interesting documentary which I captured. It is a fascinating program, and along with some other video I've captured, I've created a few DVDs to have in my own collection for future viewing pleasure.

It's a neat process, and I'm not overly good at it yet, but I now have the knowledge necessary to actually be able to take some of the stuff we've got on VHS and convert it to a player-compatible DVD. So, this will be good wintertime fun.

The End Of Daylight Savings Time

Saturday night/Sunday morning marks the end of another daylight savings time. It will be difficult to drive home some afternoons when it's getting dark out. I'd personally rather have it lighter longer in the evening and darker in the morning, but that's just how I work. Fortunately, as I noted above, my major projects requiring outdoor time will be complete so it's just me bitching about it more than anything.

Forthcoming Elections!

As long as I've been able, I've voted in every election that's come around (except for some primaries, depending upon how I feel about the races). It's a neat process, but I really hate the campaign side of it. Specifically, I hate the negative advertisements. There gets to be a point during most campaigns (federal, state, or local) at which point in time the campaign tends to be less about what good you're (as a candidate) about and more about how bad the other guy is.

Personally, I think it's a bullshit deal. Obviously, the goal is to win. I understand that. But my real problem is in how the attack ads obviously affect enough people to make it worthwhile. This really makes a statement about the ability of the general public to not only think for themselves, but really cut through all the crap and figure out what different candidates are all about.

I'm not claiming to study candidates for long periods of time in order to determine who gets my vote; that's an unrealistic goal for any voter. However, I do make at least an attempt to know enough about the situation and candidates to have a comfortable feeling about who I feel would do the best in a particular position. It's a fairly sad day in the world when (apparently) the general public (at least those who seem to be affected by the negative ads) base their vote upon these sometimes blatantly negative political advertisements. Read between the lines, people! By in large, the 'educated' are capable enough of figuring out what's true and what's not, at least if you ask me. Of course, I also went to a liberal arts college where you were basically taught to think outside the box.

Why can't we teach sarcasm and bullshit course in school? I'd have loved a course like that. You'd never know what to expect, and you certainly wouldn't have a clue as to what to believe.

Image Linking

I've made comments about this before in this venue, but it sometimes drives me up a wall (and pisses me off) when random people link to images I've used in various places around here...and then those places get a load of hits (thus causing a load of hits to me). This recently happened with a stupid picture, too. Of course, someone posted it as a comment on someone else's MySpace page.

Now, I don't use MySpace or pretend to understand how it works. I'm guessing that you probably can't upload images there (at least for that purpose), so people are likely forced to link to pictures when inline in writings. That's fine -- but host the shit yourself!

Okay, I'm done with that. But, it does lead me into a related mini-rant. Net Speak.

While I was perusing the MySpace page of the aforementioned image link, I ran into a lot of that 'younger generation' (the problem is that these people are about my age) language. Lack of capitalization, punctuation, concrete thought. And a lot of acronyms.

The whole thing about 'typing how you talk' really bugs me, because it doesn't make for even reasonable writing. Call me old-fashioned, but if you're going to write something, at least make it look like you know how to properly write what you're talking about. I might ramble around here, but at least I use proper punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. At least for the most part. I make an effort -- that's probably a better way to put it.

While substitute teaching recently, Beth actually heard a girl yell out 'OMG!' Keep in mind I am not abbreviating what this girl said. She didn't say Oh My God or the like. She actually called out 'O-M-G,' which I just find to be appalling. Apparently we've become a lazy enough society (at least young society) to not only abbreviate pretty much anything we can, now we can't even afford to speak the words.

If this is to continue, I know that our child will have a hand-up in society. This is mostly because I can assure you that, while (s)he will certainly know and understand these acronyms and whatnot, (s)he will also know what's appropriate in the spoken and written word, and when (s)he sounds like an idiot, both in spoken and written word.

So...Now That I've Solved The World's Problems...

...I'm going to stop writing after an hour and a half. Until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Saturday, October 14, 2006

October 14, 2006

Snow!

Well, it snowed this week for the first time since the spring. It started on Wednesday evening, and when it was all said and done left us with about 3/4" of snow by Thursday midday. It didn't last long -- I left work early on Thursday afternoon. When I got home, most of the snow was still around, but by the time Beth got home most of it was gone. There's still some trace of snow where it accumulated a bit more (ditches, etc.), but that's about it. The only other really notable thing related to weather is the fact that it's been quite cold here the last few days. Highs in the upper 30's, and lows around 21 degrees. That's a C-M-F if you ask me. smile

Weekend List

I've got a few projects on my list for this weekend, but include (but not limited to):
  • Window Plastic,
  • Organize Shed,
  • Clean out Garage,
  • Clean out Basement,
  • Install Low-Voltage boxes in the upstairs,
  • Wash and Winterize outdoor stuff,
  • Pick apples

We'll see exactly how much of this stuff gets done, but any progress is better than no progress, right? smile

Interesting Documentary

I was killing some time last night since I didn't feel like doing anything else, so I watched some TV. I'm not a big fan of Friday night TV, because while there's stuff on of reasonable quality, most of the Friday evening lineups don't really hold my interest (and I usually find other things to do). So, as I was browsing through the guide lineup, I ran across an interesting title which required a brief viewing. It was on a channel I've never watched before, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.

Long story short, it was a documentary about the mainstream media and politics. It only took a few minutes for me to really become intrigued by this program. In particular, the documentary proposed the principle that the current republican powers (of the last 10 years or so) are in ways controlling the flow of information to the public. That's not a very good description of the program, so I'll quote a bit about it from the network website:

From the very size of the media monopolies and how they got that way to who decides what gets on the air and what doesn’t, Orwell Rolls in his Grave moves through a troubling list of questions and news stories that go unanswered and unreported in the mainstream media. Are Americans being given the information a democracy needs to survive or have they been electronically lobotomized? Has the frenzy for media consolidation led to a dangerous irony where in an era of more news sources the majority of the population has actually become less informed?

While I don't necessarily agree with portions of the program I saw last night (like I said, I started watching in the middle of it), it was a very interesting presentation of material that has justified a re-viewing for me. I'm going to try capturing the video this afternoon (either digitally or VHS) so I can watch the full thing at some time. I really enjoy documentaries as such where they really get you thinking...

Until Next Time...

...as it's warming up now I should go get the paper and prepare for the remainder of my day.

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

October 10, 2006

A Little More Than A Week...

Well, this time I wasn't as good about getting a 'weekly' update in, but things have been quite busy in the last two weeks...

$1.99 Gasoline

Over this past weekend, we went to Mitchell, SD, to visit some friends for a few days. We had a grand time (it was nice to be away and not really be scheduled to death with stuff to do) and it was really good to see some people we haven't seen for a few months. I won't really linger on the trip to South Dakota, but while in Mitchell we encountered regular and super unleaded gasoline for $1.99/gallon. The next cheapest option was $2.08, but most prices hovered around $2.15. Of course, I took advantage of that deal (might as well). It's really sad to me when I think $1.99 is a deal, but it's certainly been some time since I last saw gas prices at that range...

More Painting!

Well, nearly two weeks ago now I replaced the fascia board which I'd mentioned in the September 27 post. The job itself is quite trivial, but the board needed to be painted. So, I broke out the paint and started in. Of course, when I got up there to paint it, I started really looking at the soffit (which also needed scraping & painting) and decided to do that project as well while the paint dried. Well, long story short, when I got one soffit done, the rest of them all looked like hell. So, it was time to tackle all of those. Fortunately, the scraping was pretty straightforward (not much necessary), so the project went pretty fast (except for the upstairs soffit which I did a different day since I ran out of daylight and since it required a lot more up and down the ladder action).

I am very happy to report now that all of the major painting projects I'd been neglecting for a few years now are complete -- and things look fantastic compared to their previous conditions.

Storm Window

I finally dug out the mysterious missing storm window for the kitchen window which doesn't open. After some basic cleaning and re-glazing, I primed and painted the window white (its previous color had been red) to match the remainder of the windows. I let it cure for a few days in the garage and recently installed it. Of course, I also sealed up the window like the others (with caulk, leaving a few weep holes at the bottom).

I need to do some maintenance on said window on the inside in the kitchen. It's currently covered by curtains (so it's easy to ignore, although that's not the reason for the curtain), but when I was examining it there was a bit of water damage since there had been no storm window on it for some time.

So, once that's done, my major projects outside (related to the house) will be complete.

Window Plastic

Well, it's getting to be that time of year again. But, unlike last year (when I put the shrinkwrap-type plastic on the inside of the upstairs windows), I believe I'm going to use the outdoor variety. I tried it on the aforementioned kitchen window last year with very mixed results. By the middle of January, the tape had released and I ended up just removing the plastic.

This year (in addition to the tape), I'm going to use some staple strips as a bit of a backup to the tape. That should help to reduce the stress on the tape, hopefully preventing the same problem. It will also be a lot nicer since we're likely to do some painting projects upstairs this fall yet, which will include trim paint. So, perhaps as early as this weekend I'll break out the ladder again and tackle those projects. I'm not looking forward to dealing with the window plastic, but it will help keep heat in (and being outside should be easier to deal with than the indoor stuff, aside from the fact one has to be on the ladder to install it.

Office Move

In addition to all the other stuff I've been tinkering with lately, we also moved our office over the last two weeks. We're still in the same building, but occupying our own smaller space which aptly costs much less than our previous office space. We had previously been paying for 'window' space on main street (which we don't use or need) and also sharing common office space with another company. While that itself wasn't a bad deal, it's a good move to a new location. Things are much quieter, and we're not paying near as much!

Of course, with that move means our work network and whatnot also had to move. I managed to reuse most of our existing office infrastructure (down to the keystones of the wall plates). So, I've spent a few days up in the ceiling of our new office space running wire and terminating wire. Fortunately, as of today, I've basically completed the project. But it was fun to wire a 110 block again. smile

That's all for Now!

So until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

September 27, 2006

Weekly Update

I have got some time to burn right now, so I figured I'd spend it wisely and perhaps write something up. There have been some things on my mind lately, so I'll share...

Painting!

Well, the weather finally straightened out a bit (it was warmer and non-rainy), so I took the time to finally do the last of the very important outdoor painting -- the upstairs windows. It wasn't a terribly difficult project (there are three sets of two double-hung windows), but it's a lot of ladder time. Yes, time to be comfortable on the order of 20 feet above the ground.

On Sunday, I broke out all the tools and did the scraping, which is arguably the worst part of any painting job. Since the upstairs windows hadn't seen any real attention since we've lived there (and probably didn't see much for a while before we bought the place), scraping was absolutely necessary. It took about two hours to somewhat thoroughly scrape the two sets of windows which really needed it (the third set has newer trim which had only been painted once or twice). Since it was nice out (and still light out), I decided to do a first-coat of paint on the freshly scraped window trim.

Then, Monday, I went and did a second coat of those two sets, also doing two coats of white as necessary and two coats on the one set of windows which didn't need scraping. This had to be done on Monday because Tuesday was set to possibly be a bit wet, and I wanted to get as much dry/cure time as possible before the fresh paint got exposed to much moisture.

I was fortunate in completing the project without much trouble or time involved. All-in-all, it was about 8 hours, including time to set up and clean up. I also did some other miscellaneous maintenance while I had the chance (namely sealing up some cracks and whatnot). This turned out to be especially important due to the fact that on Monday they came and harvested all of the soybeans around the yard. While I was a little upset with the timing (they were right near the house while I was painting and it gets a bit dusty), this means that we'll have a bit of an influx of Asian beetles... Hopefully the aforementioned sealing up will help with that somewhat.

More Fall Projects

It's supposed to be warm(er) this weekend again, so I believe I'm going to do the last of my miscellaneous outdoor projects if possible. I haven't yet painted the storm window I found for the sealed-up kitchen window, so that will likely happen (and in a perfect world also get installed) this weekend. I also need to replace the fascia board and re-install the gutter on one side of the front of the house...

You see, last week Friday (almost a week ago now) we had some rain. I knew the fascia board onto which this particular gutter was attached was in bad need of replacement (it was quite rotten). Oddly enough, I was going to go purchase replacement boards for this project when I came outside to discover that I no longer had a choice in the matter. When I came outside and looked at the house (in the rain to do some measuring for an unrelated project), most of the gutter was hanging down as the rain influx that morning had finally done in the fascia board. The nails simply ripped out of the board...

When I got home from my little shopping trip, I removed the gutter and marked down a 'must do' project for the next weekend (the painting one took priority due to temperature and weather issues). So, one more project I hopefully will get to work on is the replacement of this fascia board. That shouldn't be terribly difficult aside from removing as much of the old board as I need to. It's so badly rotten in places that it could take a while to get it all down. Once that's complete, though, priming/painting and repositioning the gutter shouldn't be a terribly difficult job.

Of course, once the house-related outdoor stuff is done, I'll need to eventually do some more yard work. Namely wash everything up and pack up the little shed for the winter. I need to do some organizing in there so I can fit everything in there properly. But I've got until hard, consistent freeze time to get that stuff done...

Insultation Project!

On my aformentioned trip to get replacement fascia board, I was also going to buy some insulation which I will use to help insulate the attic crawlspaces of the upstairs. The rooflines are insulated (fairly well), but the kneewalls of the upstairs (bless the story-and-a-half house...) are uninsulated. Depending upon snow cover, we do get some ice dams, which are definitely not a Good Thing. So, insulation will hopefully help with the problem to some degree (it certainly can't hurt and will also help keep the upstairs a little more comfortable during the extremes of summer and winter.

Anyway, when I was doing a brief check to see how much kneewall insulation I'd need, I noticed that part of the old vent stack had moved. Well, it turns out that what I thought was attached higher up in the wall and at the roof line wasn't at all attached. It had fallen at some point in time. This left basically a four-inch hole right outside. When you can see daylight where you're not supposed to see daylight, it's a Bad Thing. Some spray expanding foam took care of the problem in the short-term (until we put new shingles on the roof and remove the vent cap which will likely be in the next few years) and will keep out the elements to a degree. At least more than having nothing.

So, just when you think it's all set to go...of course Murphy comes to visit with his damn law. smile

I purchased the correct amount of insulation (plus some extra) for the kneewall project. It was a pickup load full. smile I still intend to take a few floor boards out of the southern crawlspace and insulate the attic floor as well (which should also help with ice dams on the southern-facing roofline (which is where they are particularly bad), but I need different insulation for that project, so it's not over yet. But, I've got the stuff and intend to get to that at some point in time, hopefully before it gets too cold out.

More Prenatal Visits...

Beth had another prenatal visit on Tuesday. Things are going well, and the little critter is definitely active. During the brief visit (at the time when we all gather 'round the microphone (Lester "Roadhog" Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys) and listen to the heartbeat), the baby moved around several times and was difficult to monitor (due to the near continual movement).

So, once the visit was complete we scheduled the next and also scheduled the 20-week ultrasound. So, in roughly a month we'll get to see revised pictures which should be vastly different than the 7-week pictures we got before. Exciting times. smile

And now, A Rant

Be warned -- I get a little jumpy (it might be hard to follow) and I'm broadly generalizing the following. This obviously doesn't apply to all people.

Recently, a fairly large (F2) tornado left a path through a fairly densely-populated area of the seven-county Metro Area. I have the great fortune of living 150 miles from there. I say 'great fortune' not because of the distance from the tornado, but the distance from a type of lifestyle and attitude which I believe poisons oneself.

You see, 'the sirens never went off' in this case.

What's more, there have been many questions as to why the sirens weren't sounded in time for action and there will even be an official government investigation into the National Weather Service as to this matter.

The part about this whole situation which really pisses me off is the lack of responsibility that people seem to take when it comes to the weather and their own personal safety. Yes, it was very unfortunate that a 10-year-old girl died in the storm -- I certainly don't deny that. However, why is it all the sudden the sole responsibility of the NWS to alert these people to imminent danger?

Perhaps I'm the odd ball out here, but I've always lived in a rural setting (and by rural, I mean your nearest neighbor can be on the order of miles away rural)...and there are no such things as sirens. When it comes to bad weather, you simply have to take responsibility for yourself. Sure, the towns and more densely populated areas (e.g. around some lakes) will have siren systems, but regardless of your location, these systems were never designed to be a sole warning device. They're merely a piece of a much larger puzzle of how to keep yourself safe.

In particular, sirens provide a warning for people outdoors and within reasonable earshot to take cover. When I heard reports of 'we never heard the sirens...' and that sort of hogwash, it just made my blood boil. In the ever-perpetual quest to 'blame someone else for our own stupidity and/or laziness,' some of these people must conveniently forget that at some point in time you just have to take responsibility for yourself. You can't always rely on other people. I mean, you'd be retarded to go jump out in front of a car just because it didn't honk at you to tell you of its presence. Ignorance doesn't solve this problem, and that's my point.

I know that based upon my lifelong environment (rural areas), I cannot rely on any sort of siren warning. Instead, I turn to weather radio, radio reports, television reports, the Internet, and in most cases (most importantly), my own two eyes. During this last weather incident, I got the distinct impression from some reports that 'the weather came in and abruptly interrupted our lives.' Hello, people! Shit happens, and so does the unexpected. Blaming the lack of warning from authority figures when the timeline simply didn't seem to be there isn't the answer to the problem. It still boils down to personal responsibility for one's own safety.

Honestly, when it comes down to it, I believe most people adhere to the 'I have to keep an eye out for myself' philosophy. If not, this recent tornado would've caused a lot more human damage than it did. But this bullshit need to point the blame finger at someone or some thing is just simply retarded. Acts of nature happen, and that's the fact.

I'll probably have to come back and re-read this in a few days, possibly to edit it a bit for clarity. Anyway, in the meantime, that's all I've got for now...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

September 19, 2006

Miscellaneous Stuff

Well, it's only been a bit more than a week since the last post, which isn't too bad if you ask me. There wasn't much happening last week...aside from the fact that the 'non-summer routine' is starting up. I was kept fairly busy throughout the week, so I left work early on Friday afternoon to enjoy the remainder of the warmer temperatures for a while...

An Upgrade...

I was doing some work on various websites over the last week or so (see below), and thought it time to update the TWiki here at MZ Online. I had a few notices sitting in my inbox for a while, so I figured it an appropriate time to do some upgrading. It didn't really take all that long (it wasn't a major upgrade, just a few patches), which was nice, but it still burned up some time. I've also trimmed back the number of TWiki installations I manage. There's the one on my local intranet at home, and the one on the intranet at the office, but this is now the only 'publicly-viewable' installation.

I've been into the PHP thing lately, and the overhead of keeping everything running properly (and patched) when I'm the only one who ever really utilizes the software is a bit of a stretch. Call it simplification. smile

Websites!

I've been in a mode lately where I've been going back to the standards. The W3C standards, that is. For some time (at least two years), I've focused on keeping all HTML I write in a compliant form of XHTML (specifically XHTML Transitional), which doesn't really mean a lot (aside from being a standard, it should render correctly and as consistently as possible across browsers and devices) when it comes right down to it. It was time to do some checking up on my various projects, specifically because there are two fairly recent web updates I'm working on.

I was overall very happy with the results. The part I like about the validator tools is that they often times catch strange things and help to make sure things appear properly. I had very few problems overall (I probably checked 50 pages and really only had troubles with a line here or there, most of which was fixed by changing one or two templates)...so I was happy about that.

I haven't yet run most of the MZ Online stuff through the wringer. It gets a bit more complicated with the TWiki rendering, because in my experience, sometimes the markup 'code' one uses in TWiki doesn't render out to 'proper' XHTML (although it's supposed to). But, all of the other sites I actively manage are both XHTML Transitional compliant and CSS compliant. Go me. smile

Cold Weather

I finally received the extension ladder I had been told I was getting. Of course, it came on the weekend when the cold came. It's been too cold (and sometimes rainy) to paint outside, so I'm having to wait until it gets a bit warmer out (it's supposed to get back to more normal temperatures starting this next weekend) to do that work. But, I should be prepared to do the upstairs window trim and whatnot as soon as it's possible. We're actually in a frost advisory for tonight, so that gives an idea how cool it really is here...

I did manage, however, to do the downstairs trim before it got cold. I may do another coat of paint on the newly painted stuff (door trim) and I'll double-check the window trim again (which was painted last year) to see if there are trouble spots which need to be addressed.

I also finally found the correct size storm window for the window which doesn't open in the kitchen. I'd always had the screen on it (which at least kept out some of the snow and stuff, but it wasn't any good from an insulation perspective)...and I was looking for the storm window. Long story short, I found it (it was hidden with a bunch of screen windows we no longer need), and it only needs to be repainted (upon first inspection). That's a Good Thing.

A Laptop?

I'm not really a large fan of laptops, specifically since I don't really have much use for one. But, I was recently 'given' a laptop to see if I could fix it. It wasn't mine to keep, but just to see if I could get it operating again. Basically, the plug for the power cord was broken, so once the battery died, there was no way to power up the laptop.

When I was given the unit, it was missing several chassis screws I noticed. This appeared to be the sign that someone else started working on it but gave up. Anyway, I was feeling up to the challenge so I took it apart, clear down to the removing the motherboard. Before I got that far, however, I noticed how 'dire' the situation really was going to be. Not only did the power plug break, the nipple part was rolling around loose inside the laptop. Upon removing the motherboard and doing some close-up looking, I figured that I could possibly epoxy the plug housing back together (it at least broke cleanly), but the bigger question mark was whether or not I would have a reliable electric connection when it was glued back together. You see, when it broke, it actually pulled one of the electrical contacts clear out of the motherboard.

It was at this point in time I wondered how damage like this could be done...

Anyway, I broke out the epoxy and mixed it, then applying it to the plug housing generously (on the exterior). In addition to having epoxy in the cracks, I figured the additional 'shell' which was created couldn't hurt. Of course, neither could taking it apart -- after all, it couldn't get any worse than it was -- it already wasn't working. After the epoxy set up, I broke out the old soldering iron (which I hadn't used for at least five years) to see if I could make a solid electrical connection again.

After putting up with the stink of the soldering iron, I finally got what I believed to be a fairly solid electrical connection established. After doing a bit of cleanup, it was time to reassemble the laptop. That didn't go too terribly bad, aside from having to remove a few screws which I'd put in the wrong places...

So, once the machine was back together, it was time to try starting it up. Much to my surprise (I really didn't expect it to work), it powered up and after sitting for an hour or so had fully charged the battery. I made sure it seemed stable (it's not a bad little laptop, even though it's on the order of 4 years old), then shut it down. It's still sitting here on my desk now waiting to be picked up, but the fellow whose laptop it is should be able to resell it. I would just personally be a little gentle with the power cord. I might be good, but I don't know how good I'd call that soldering job.

And That's About It...

...at least for right now. We'll see how the next week or so goes. Until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 10, 2006

Only a few days this time...

I'm in one of those modes today, where I've got some time to kill and feel a little verbose.

Lots of stuff has transpired in the last few days, but the important part is that the end result is better as a result. Namely, the fact that dad had a heart attack on Tuesday (the 5th). Long story short, all things are good and the timing of everything happened to be for the better. He did end up staying in the hospital for a few days after a short ride by helicopter to the cities. Ma and I went to get him on Friday, and he's finally convinced to make some changes. So, although the bad part happened, the long-term end result will be better because of it.

Mowing, Mowing, Mowing...

Well, after the recent rain we've had in the last few weeks, the lawn (which wasn't being mowed very often throughout July and August) is now requiring more attention. After the major beating that the old push mower took in the days before we got the riding lawnmower, it was not running very well at all. So, after dealing with the running problems for a long time (most of this year), I finally took some time this afternoon (after doing the riding mower parts) to take apart the push mower and fix the problem. Basically the mower was not running well (it kept trying to flood itself).

At first (this spring), I figured the problem was in the air filter. It was in very nasty condition and was replaced to increase air flow (I didn't think much if any air could get through it anymore). That didn't help much, so I replaced the spark plug. That helped initially (the problem didn't really start until the engine got warmed up), but the problem was still there. So, I figured I'd need to take apart the carbeurator and do some tinkering.

That's what I ended up doing today. After cleaning it up a bit and replacing it, the problem still existed (but was better). After some more inspection, I discovered the true cause of the problem. There's a spring which controls the governor (which is very difficult to see when things are fully assembled) which has become just a little bit too loose. The result is that it doesn't properly keep the governor steady, causing the engine to flood and run erratically.

So, after much tinkering, I was able to more or less successfully correct the problem, and the mower runs quite smooth now. There's a little trick to it (keeping it running well), but now that I know I've solved the problem, I will either deal with that or work on a fix for it some other time (by the time I was convinced it was running properly, the engine was far too warm to work on anymore). This is a Good Thing, because I was getting quite sick of dealing with the poor performance of the mower.

But, that wasn't the only mower-related problem I ran into. A few weeks ago I noticed that the riding mower needed to get a replacement fuel filter. I put it off, and after changing the oil last week, it was working just fine (so I figured it might have been a fluke)...so I just left it be. It wasn't long before it started acting up again. So, the temporary fix (I'll do a bunch of maintenance before I put everything away for the year) was to remove the fuel filter and clean it out with compressed air. That certainly took care of the problem, and things are running smoothly again.

Painting Projects...

One of my projects for this upcoming week is to do some trim painting and work. This is namely outdoor trim on the lower floor of the house. In particular, around the doors. It won't take long and needs to get done when there's no rain in the forecast. So, hopefully Monday or Tuesday I will get that taken care of.

We'll see what happens, but in the meantime...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

September 6, 2006

This time...OVER a Month...

Well, things have been busy during the month of August it seems. But, now that the labor day weekend has passed, things should return to a more 'normal' schedule. This will be a welcome Good Thing.

A Ghost Town!

It's been some time...and I've been meaning to post this for some time, but I always kept forgetting to do so. The 'local' favorite television station here (at least for me) is WCCO in Minneapolis. Starting either late last year or early this year, they started this 'Finding Minnesota' weekly segment where [visitors] would submit ideas for places to go scope out.

Well, unbeknownst to me, Beth filled out the form one time for a little cemetery which is near my folks' place. One night, we were watching the 10pm news and I noticed the teaser for the segment that week looked a lot like a place I've been to before -- Vicksburg cemetery. Well, long story short -- they used her idea (and she got her ten seconds of fame). It was one of those random moments. Anyway, they have the text and video of the story online in their archives.

Website Work!

I've been kept pretty busy in my off-hours of work it seems, particularly in the last three weeks or so with some web work. There are two sites I'm working on right at the moment. One is the Free Source Energies website which has been on the plate for most of the summer. This is a new site which, as of the end of August, went live with content (but is currently undergoing a second revision to add visual content (pictures and etc.)). The other is a site which is currently undergoing renovation of look, in particular since it's been almost three years since the last makeover. That hasn't gone live yet, (again, working on some imagery, even though the content is now more or less updated) but should be within the next two weeks (certainly by the end of September).

I am considering doing a bit of renovation around here at MZ Online, but I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do. I've been very much into the PHP/MySQL thing lately (it's very nice to work with), and I'm considering renovating the main MZ Online site to be a little more dynamic (although I still very much like the look of it...so redesign work probably isn't in the works right now) and load faster. TWiki works fantastic for content and I very much like it, but it's not really working the way I'd like it to (in regards to speed) for the main MZ Online site. I will remain using TWiki for this (Matt's Home on the Web) site and the Python repository (because of the content management aspects)...so I'm not giving up on it (and I still heavily rely on TWiki for my intranet at home and at work)...but it's time for something different I think. We'll see -- this is not a very high priority at this time -- perhaps this winter...

Home Improvement

Well, it was pretty much true to the 'your part will arrive in 10-15 business days' that they told me, but my pressure-balancing valve finally showed up (on around the 15th day) via USPS. I was particularly 'tickled' by the fact that the address label specified first-class and 'time sensitive material' -- whatever that means. smile

Anyway, the valve went in without any issue and the shower has been working great since! This is a Good Thing.

I (just yesterday) also finally fixed the kitchen casement windows. You see, when we bought the house, the one casement window operator (crank) wasn't working very well and it shortly thereafter quit working. I had meant to get a replacement for nearly two years, when last week the other operator (it's a dual window) broke. As I really like having the kitchen window open, this needed to be resolved, so I called Andersen windows after looking up the parts I needed online. I spoke with a fantastic customer service rep and in short order placed an order for two operators for my kitchen casement window which is just over 23 years old. Again, I got the runaround of '10 to 15 days' for delivery, but much to my pleasure the parts arrived yesterday via FedEx. Considering that it's a Minnesota company, I shouldn't be surprised, but it definitely made my afternoon.

So, I replaced the operators and thoroughly cleaned the windows yesterday -- they work fantastic now...and I am Very Happy.

I also recently ordered some cordless cellular blinds (which I got on sale for 25% off) and installed them upstairs where they'll do the most benefit (those are the worst windows, so their insulating value will help). That was an afternoon project, but they work so much better than the old corded vinyl mini-blinds that they replaced.

Flickr! What?

Over the holiday weekend (when we stayed home -- finally -- see below), I was doing some looking around and really discovered how out-of-date my picture archive is here. Upon further inspection, I'm not sure exactly how much work I want to put into enhancing it any more (it's time-consuming work to do it the way I was), so I did a little research into other options to make this easier and still be available online. I eventually signed up for a free Flickr! account. I haven't worked on it yet, but perhaps I will do some tinkering this weekend to determine if it will suffice in handling my online pictures. If it does, it'll mean I can have a little power in how I present the pictures on the web in the future (and be easier to manage than my old way -- which I'll keep in place since the work has already been done and nothing really needs to change). We shall see...

Rain

Well, to make a long story short, we finally got some more significant rain over the weekend. In all, from Friday morning (9/1/06) through Sunday afternoon (9/3/06), we received here at home approximately 4.8" of rain...which was nice (but means the grass will really grow now for a while... smile

Weekend Busy-ness...

Well, it seemed that throughout August we were always doing something or another. First off, there was the Stevens County Fair in Morris. That's always a fun (and cheap -- since it's free to get in) event. I originally expected to go out there one or maybe two days, but ended up out there every day of the fair (except for the entry day when no exhibits are open). Amongst other stuff, I took in the lawnmower races and the demolition derby. Those were both a good time, even though the lawnmower races got cancelled at intermission due to a thunderstorm warning. Oddly enough, I attended the lawnmower races with the grounds superintendent of the local golf course -- much fun was had at that event. smile I can't wait until next year when they hope to be back. It's quite an event to take in.

So that was one weekend...

Another weekend in August we went with Beth's folks down to the Amana Colonies in Iowa. While it's a bit of a long drive there (on the order of 8 hours), we had a really good weekend and got to see some neat stuff. There was much good food to be had, and Beth's dad and I did our fair share of wine tasting (there are like six wineries in the colonies). It was a Good Time. We also stayed at a place where the restaurant and bar were in the basement...and there was one of those giant windows into the pool (below water level) behind the bartender (like you see in movies). That was kinda cool (but we were there during the PG hours when it was all kids in the pool -- I can imagine they've probably seen strange things in the bar...).

That was another weekend...

I believe we had one weekend free in August (although I can't recall which one right off hand). That was nice to get caught up on some other projects around the house...

Then there was Threshing Bee weekend in Donnelly. We'd never had a chance to go before, and were asked to judge the parade. So, we got in for free all weekend (always a plus)...and got to see a lot of stuff (antique tractor pull, which is really cool, horse pull, threshing, plowing, old machinery, etc.). It was a good time, but here again it ended up chewing up another summer weekend.

So that was pretty much August for festivities...

General Busy-ness

It seems that things at work have been pretty busy (although a bit relaxed). We're in the midst of a very large deal with a group in Canada, so we recently made a day trip to the Winnipeg area to do some demonstration presentations. Since that time we've been working on that, so it means busy time for Matt... smile

Road Work

Well, after much personal griping and hoping, the county finally did some significant work on our road. It's still gravel (which is okay), but in the worst spots they ended up raising the road several feet and just built it up in general. It's a much more pleasurable drive now, and isn't nearly as loose in the low spots. That, and they finally fixed the railroad crossing by the highway (which had gotten so bad it was almost adviseable to take a different route).

My own hypothesis is that this got done because the county commissioner for this district is up for reelection this fall...but that's purely speculative. It's funny how some projects get done in election years...

Last but certainly not Least...

I saved this part to (purposely) be the end of the post...because you deserve to read it only if you finished the rest of the post... smile

Beth and I are expecting the arrival of our first real 'Curtain Climber' in Mid-March of 2007. So, the months of July and August have been busy with doctor visits in addition to the other stuff. So relaxation time is kinda nice to come by when it's available. smile I won't linger on this portion of the post (because I'm sure I will later on at some time), but it's an exciting change and will be an interesting change for everyone involved (cats, too). So far things are on track and just fine, and we even have a picture of the 'guppie' from very early on.

So, I'll leave it at that. Until next time (presumably not a month, but you never know)...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 28, 2006

EESH! Another Month!

Well, as the 'title' implies, it's been over a month since the last post. I know, my bad.

Things have been busy but quiet around here. It's been a relatively nice summer, all things considered. I've had busier summers (and I'm not complaining), but it's been pretty much relaxing. Amongst the everyday things that happened in the last month...there are (as I can remember):

Garden Progress

While the garden admittedly has many more weeds and grass in it than I care to admit, it's much better than it was last year. In that, we're actually able to harvest things out of the garden! So far it's pretty much been limited to cherry tomatoes, beans, and peas, but there are regular tomatoes nearly ready, and the cucumbers will be soon. Pumpkins and squash come later. smile So, short of keeping it watered (see below), it's been a pretty good gardening year.

Speaking of Water...

...we're in a drought. We've had very little rain for some time. Go figure -- this spring I was complaining about the water leaking into the basement through the floor (which didn't stop for a long time). Well, the fact is that we're in a fairly serious water deficit...so it's been somewhat necessary to water things like the garden. I also noticed that some of the apple trees (specifically the smaller ones) were starting to show signs of stress, so I've had to water those as well off and on (although not nearly as much as the garden, because the trees (unlike the garden) can tap into subsoil moisture which is still available)).

So, that's always fun. It will be a watering weekend (at least a little bit) for the trees again. Speaking of which, gotta move the sprinkler quick.

Alright. Back now.

Tree Trimming

Well, I finally went and had the chainsaw chain sharpened, so I was just 'itching' to cut something once that was done. Well, that and the fact that I did a little tune-up and maintenance on the chainsaw during the time when I had the chain off. But anyway, it was getting to the point around here for some of the trees in the yard...where, well, it was very difficult to mow without being beaten by branches. It was near-hazardous. smile OSHA wouldn't have liked the situation, I'm sure.

Anyway, I took a Saturday morning (it was a hot one, I might add -- see below) and cut away. It was great -- the chainsaw operated like new. It was truly a beautiful thing. I trimmed up the several trees which were in the way when mowing, and it makes a world of difference. It also looks much nicer -- kept up.

It's became obvious that I need to do some trimming on the apple trees as well, but that's a project for much later, because it requires a different methodology. Well, that and the apples are still on the tree...

A few weeks later (after the initial trimming), I discovered that the walnut tree which overhangs the driveway was getting so loaded with walnuts that it was nearly impossible for a medium-sized vehicle to enter the yard without being bombarded on the roof with walnuts. I took care of that situation on Tuesday evening. It required use of a ladder to trim properly, because unlike the other trees, these were hanging down (and not reachable by me fro the ground). So, that also looks much better now that it's been completed.

Speaking of Heat...

...is it hot enough for you? We've had quite a summer of temperatures, I tell you. I can recall it feeling hot in summers past, but it's been a long time since it was actually this hot. We're talking on the order of 100-degree temperatures, which for this area is unusual. We had a really hot weekend in May, but it was just a weekend. June was pretty good overall, but July brought on some higher temperatures (once we arrived to mid-month).

This obviously doesn't help the drought situation...

As I noted, mid-July brought a streak of 90-degree days, which isn't so bad by itself, but it's always with a high dewpoint, which makes for a fun heat index number (which has more frequently been in the 100-degree-plus range). It cooled off for a week or so, but is now back in action. This weekend is slated to be another hot one. The heat index around here this afternoon was around 107-110.

Thank God for Central Air Conditioning

I mentioned it in a previous post (see the news post) -- we had a central A/C unit to be installed. Well, it sat around for a while (long story), but I knew it was going to get hot in July. We had been getting by with a permanently-mounted wall unit as necessary (we didn't use it very often), which works just fine -- but not as efficiently as I'd like and it was very loud in the house when running. But, when you're pretty much given the unit for free -- it's a no-brainer.

Well, I finally found someone to do the installation (which was basically limited to simply reconnecting the lineset, installing the evaporator coil (which I had), and checking the charge on the unit (because prior to uninstallation at its previous location, the refrigerant was pumped back into the compressor). They were very nice guys and came out quickly to do the work. I did the last of the electrical (outdoor) work while they were installing, but I'd done all the interior/control work (including hooking to the power company's control unit for their load management program) the weekend before.

Long story short, the unit works perfectly and cools the house much more quickly and evenly. It's not even that bad upstairs where our air flow is poor. So, that came just in time. Combined with the programmable thermostat which I installed last fall, it's been a very welcome addition to the house. I don't care to run it all the time (and during the cooler weeks between these hot flashes, it's been shut down), but now that it's in place, I'm not going to live uncomfortably either. We'll see how much damage it does to the electric bill. I'm not expecting it to be too much worse (it draws about 8 amps more (with the furnace fan included)) than the existing unit (which drew about 18 amps) in the wall. Furthermore, it actually cycles when it's running rather than being on all the time (which the old one had to do). It'll be neat to see the result. Depending upon my shock, I may or may not report the result here. smile

Speaking of shock, I got the bill for the installation last week. It's roughly double what I was expecting, and I was quite disappointed. The silver lining was that the service was prompt and the installers did a fantastic professional job. But, I'll leave it in the words of my uncle: "Did you get a kiss afterward? All good screws end with a kiss."

I wouldn't necessarily say that I got 'screwed' on this installation, but...well, use your imagination.

Miscellaneous Maintenance

I powerwashed the house quickly this afternoon. It was a good way to basically be cool outside (because of the misting), and with the dry climate lately, the house was a bit dirty. That, and the bug residue needed to be washed off on the east side of the house.

Speaking of water...I took a shower about a week and a half ago, and discovered that I was not getting any cold water. It was probably the most uncomfortable shower I've ever had. I'm glad the water heater is only at 120 degrees. That was bad enough.

As it turns out, the pressure-balancing valve (which is intended to prevent exactly such a thing from happening) had failed and was stuck. It just happened to be stuck in 'all hot' mode. I was perplexed, because the shower has only been in service around a year. So, after a few attempts, I managed to wedge the valve into a reasonable area. It's still a bit hot, but at least it's not 120. In the meantime, I called for warranty service on the valve and was promptly given a confirmation number for the warranty. That was nice. However, their delivery isn't -- I was told 7-10 BUSINESS days for delivery.

Good thing I'm mechanically inclined. It still hasn't arrived, and I don't know what I'd do if it hadn't been fixed. I don't know what other people would do either. You'd think that warranty shipping on an item as important as a valve would be a little more expedient...

Beth's Birthday

I forgot to mention that above. We celebrated another birthday of Beth's, by going to the new Italian place in Morris (a favorite destination).

Website Work

I'm currently working on a new website project. The initial design is more or less complete; it's now to the content-gathering phase. Ahh yes, side income. A Beautiful Thing.

As it looks right now, it will hopefully go live within the next two weeks or so. We'll see, but once the content and some other miscellaneous things are handled, it'll be ready for the world.

Computer Builds

The same company I'm doing the website work for is also buying computers and hardware from me. So far, I've assembled and delivered two of five machines for them. They're all quite impressive, and I was surprised how much some hardware prices have changed in the last nine months or so. The total bill really surprised me from my distributor. The other three machines have parts still arriving, and I'm guessing they'll be ready for delivery by the end of the next week.

Server Problems...

I've been meaning to downsize the network here at home for a while. Go from two servers to one. After shuffling around some hard drives last weekend, I decided to finally install Fedora Core 5 on the (newer) replacement server. So, I took an evening this last week and did just that. Got things ready to the point where it was just configuration stuff left.

Go figure, the timing was perfect for this project. Not two days after installing FC5 on the replacement server (which I hadn't yet put on the network), my existing router/DNS box had a network card failure. To be exact, the card slowed way down in response time for about 8 minutes prior to giving out completely (at least according to my monitoring software). So, I was left with one working NIC in a router box which needs two. Not exactly a Good Thing.

Once I pinpointed the problem, I decided to simply swap it out (because I was intending to do that this upcoming weekend since I installed the replacement server's software). It meant I had to do it in a little different way than I wanted to, but after a few hours of tinkering, the network was back to its original state. I've since isolated the old router box (I intend to replace the NIC and use it on a different network for someone else, because the router box itself is still in excellent working order) for some decommissioning and maintenance work, but things are back to normal.

I took some time this afternoon after coming in from powerwashing the house and more or less completed the transition for services on the file server. There are only two services which haven't been fully integrated on the replacement server, and that's all related to file sharing across platforms on the network. That will take some time to reconfigure, mostly because of the data which needs to physically move between machines.

So, a failing NIC caused problems, but forced me to do work I was intending to do anyway...

I've Rambled Enough

I've got more stuff to talk about, but not right now. I'm going to leave it at that, and call it good for the night. Until next time (hopefully not a month from now).

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

June 21, 2006

A Month, AGAIN!

Yeah, I guess time flies, right? Okay, thanks.

Things have finally started to slow down; the only bad thing about that is when I'm home, I tend to be working on various random projects (and/or lawnmowing on the weekends), so my time to sit and write stuff here isn't any more readily available.

Anyway, no excuses. smile

It's been pretty quiet around lately. A birthday came and went...Minda came out to visit one weekend...and I've enjoyed time just at home.

Work Stuff

One of the nice aspects of work right now is that it's our really quiet time since everyone we deal with is in their busy season. We get occasional calls or emails about stuff, but by-in-large it's the quiet time. This is really nice since it's time to get caught up on various not high priority projects that've been put off for some time.

One such project was the building of what I named the Update Portal. It allows our users to log in to our website and view any and all pertinent updates to the products they've purchased. One step further -- I've also implemented an auto-login feature which can be used through the software itself to bypass the manual login.

So, that took a few weeks to go from design to implementation -- along with some other administrative changes -- but it's been a significant improvement over the previous system (queue up a bunch of emails and type away), and so far received good reports from the users we've been testing with.

Happy Anniversary!

Well, tomorrow marks our 4-year anniversary. Doesn't seem like that long, but we'll go out and enjoy some nice supper tomorrow night. Will be good times.

That's about all...

...for right now. I'm not in an overly chatty type of mode right now -- very much to the fact and move on...

I guess it goes with the whole 'longest "day" of the year' thing (summer solstice), right?

Until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

May 23, 2006

A Month and Some!

Well, as it turns out, things have continued in their busy grandeur. While that generally keeps one out of 'trouble,' it doesn't do much for keeping one active in posting random musings about life and activities. As it's currently storming outside right now (and I'm offline via my satellite link), I'm writing this in WordPad and intend to copy/paste it in place. Remember, save often! smile I have the great fortune of an Uninterruptable Power Supply, but it still doesn't save from catastrophic failure.

One-Act Wrapup

In the last few weeks, I completed the One-Act scrapbooks for 2006 and did the general last-minute stuff. It was pretty late this year, but it's done. The printing of the scrapbooks actually went much faster (it seems) than in years previous. I was able to go from blank paper to bound books in just a few hours' time.

So anyway, One-Act for 2006 is now officially done. Until next year...

Painting!

Well, we took a weekend about a month ago and painted the dining room and entry. The entire project took longer than just a weekend (because it took several days of after-hours trim painting to complete), but the bulk of the work was done over a weekend. All-in-all, I really like the look that came out of the painting job -- it's given me the 'painting bug' to get some other rooms in the house into a non-white state. We basically chose two contrasting but complementing colors and did an interesting mix of color, leaving the trim white (but fresh white).

It looks rockin' now, and we got several compliments on the color scheme when we had a gathering a few weeks ago (more about that below).

Structured Wiring Update

Well, I finally got around to more seriously getting a structured wiring project started around here. The intention was to work some on this during the winter, but that didn't really happen. But, I got sick of seeing the incomplete box in the wall just open...so it was time to do something about it. When it was all done, I'd cut a second hole in the wall and run (in total) nine lengths of Category 5e and RG6 Quad (Coax) cable. What I ended up doing is only connecting the telephone jack (since I don't have the structured wiring box in place yet) by manually patching it through to the new service feed temporarily. But, what this allows to happen is the main TV in the living room to finally display our caller ID information when calls come in. So, we don't have to get off the couch if we don't want to. Of course, we ended up getting a new phone set (with a remote handset)...so we don't actually need the caller ID on the TV now, but I've got it...

As far as the rest of the structured wiring project goes, I've actually got quite a start on it now (although my original spool of 1000' Category 5e is now gone), but I need to do some reorganization and shelf-building in the basement before I can get the panel mounted and powered.

Crazy Matt Plays With Electricity!

We've got a central A/C unit which needs to be installed (that's a different story), which in a way acts as the catalyst for my most recent electrical project. I've meant to do this for some time, but finally just sat down and did it the other day. Mapping out our electrical service. You see, when you have a 60 year old house, it's not always clear what's what in the electric panel. So, I was curious as to how our electrical load is actually distributed (exactly), and how that pertains to our current service, etc. But really, I need to replace our existing dedicated A/C breaker (which is a 20-amp 240 volt dedicated circuit for a monster wall unit from the 70's) with a 30-amp 240 volt breaker for the central A/C unit.

This leads to the mapping priority. I wanted to make sure that we realistically aren't overloading our service by making this change. And since it wasn't clear at all what was what in our panel, it was necessary to do some mapping. So, I did some drawings, coloring, and then broke out the circuit tracer. It took a few hours when it was all said and done, but I now have a detailed circuit index on the panel, so when I need to disconnect service to a particular place in the house, I don't have to use the tracer to figure out which breaker controls the circuit -- I just look at the panel and know.

Oh, and it also appears that the upgrade will work out just fine -- we just happen to have an abundance of 20-amp breakers in places where most would have 15-amp breakers. The loads aren't anything special, and the wire gauge is suitable (so it's not a fire hazard); it's just that several rooms are set up on 20-amp breakers.

Ripping, Ripping, Ripping

As I made mention in a previous post, I had started working on ripping CD's. I took a several week hiatus while working specifically on the painting project and other whatnot in preparation for our recent gathering (yes, I've not yet gotten to that discussion yet), but recently got back to ripping. I have gone through several dozen CD's and am now in the home stretch of ripping CD's. It's amazing that I'd forgotten about some of this music! As I listen to it now (since it's in a convenient format for me), I am constantly reminded of why I bought the CD's in the first place.

So, I've added several thousand tracks to the MP3 collection through this process.

Graduation

We recently celebrated Beth's, Mark's, and Abby's collective graduations here at our house about two weeks ago. It was quite a gathering, but also quite a bit of work in preparation. This was the reason we wanted to get the dining room painted, although I did some additional finishing work in the bathroom. The celebration was fun; many people were able to come out and spend some time with us. We also burned up the old wishing well which had been in the front yard and fallen into disrepair over the last two years. That was fun -- fire is cool. I took several pictures of it, so perhaps when I get some time I'll add those and several other pictures to the archive which has become badly undermaintained.

Of course, the biggest benefit to having a party like this is that the house really gets cleaned up, which is nice. smile

There's a new restaurant in town!

In the very first few days of May, a new restaurant opened up in Morris -- Bella Cucina.

Obviously, it's an Italian place, which is absolutely fantastic! Several of us at the office went there for lunch a few weeks ago, and the food was fantastic, although a little on the pricey side. But, the quality of the food really makes up for the price, and the price really isn't that bad in comparison to some of the other items on other menus in town.

Needless to say, I really hope that they are able to make the restaurant a success, because it's a fantastic non-fast-food outlet. We'll be going there for my birthday on Thursday, because Beth hasn't been there yet.

Speaking of Birthdays...

...mine is coming up on Thursday. Shameless plug. Please donate to the cause. smile

Last but not Least...

Last weekend we finally swapped stoves with my folks. When they moved into their new house, they took their old stove (which is on the order of 8-10 years old now) and moved it into their garage to use as an auxilliary and for sausage-making. Well, it's better than our approximately 20 year old stove which is in perfect working order (and perfect as a garage stove for sausage-making), so we swapped them. It's been a little weird getting used to it (our old stove was a traditional electric element stove, and this one is the flat-top variety which has the large burners in the opposite positions in comparison to our old stove), but it's an incredibly nice upgrade which works well in our kitchen.

So until next time...

...I will leave it at that. The aforementioned news post is really nothing more than randomly connected thoughts on a boring evening when it's raining hard enough to not have satellite service (TV or Internet) available and was likely difficult to read. Ah well. Disclaimer is done. smile

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

Monday, April 10, 2006

April 10, 2006

Two posts in as many days!?!

Yeah, I made it around to another post tonight, just as promised. smile

I'm not feeling completely verbose tonight, so it'll likely not be as elaborate as it might have been. I don't imagine I'll hear any complaints, though.

A Trip To Canada

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Canada on a work-related issue. It's a very long story, and the timing wasn't the greatest, but after 6.75 years, I made it back to the land to our North. Oddly enough, pretty much to the same general vicinity as the original trip in 1999.

Basically, I needed to make a 'day trip' to a client of ours in a city West of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Trusty Mapquest referred to the drive as about 6.5 hours one way. It was likely to be a very long day.

So, after finally getting to bed around 12:30-1am the night before, I arose at 5:30 and got ready to leave for Canada. I packed a lunch and got some other things ready (including an overnight bag, just in case), and left the house at exactly 7am. It had lightly snowed (about a half inch or so) the night before, but I was driving out of the snow area, so the first half-hour of the trip was kinda slow. But, I've certainly driven in worse, and the ice wasn't too bad.

Anyway, my first stop was in Grand Forks, ND, after about 200 miles or so of driving. I stopped to fill up with gas (just because I wanted to avoid buying gas in Canada due to the increased price) and stretched. I continued North and reached the border crossing at Pembina, ND at 11:06. After a brief stint at the border, they finally thought I had enough information to let me into Canada. Before I left the border, I stopped to eat a sandwich and whatnot...and then continued towards Winnipeg.

Once I reached Winnipeg, I headed West and reached my destination about 1:15pm -- not too bad time.

The guys I dealt with there were quite nice and the whole thing went well (which was good, due to the problem I had to fix). Without going to great detail about the day's activities, I left their office around 9:30pm and was determined to get as far as I could before I stopped for the night or took a nap. I reached the border crossing (again at Pembina) at 11:26pm. I ate another sandwich, then proceeded to a gas station to get enough gas to make it to Grand Forks (which is where I found the cheapest gas on the entire trip).

By the time I got to Grand Forks, it was about 12:30am, and the fresh (cold) air really helped to keep me awake. By this time, I'd started to crank up the CD's and kept the vehicle temperature pretty cool (I drove without my jacket on and had it somewhat cool). I stopped again outside of Moorhead, MN around 1:45am or so to do another 'Chinese Fire Drill.' It's amazing how well that works when the outside temperature is only like 19F. smile

My last drill was just outside of Fergus Falls, MN, around 2:45 or so. I was doing surprisingly well for as little sleep as I'd had the night before. I was expecting that I'd need to stop and take a short nap just to keep going, but I was doing well, so I kept on going.

Once I got south of Elbow Lake, I was followed by a cop for a stretch of road about 15 miles in length. I can't say that I blame the officer -- I mean, who else (aside from shady people and truck drivers) is out at 3am on a Thursday night/Friday morning? I couldn't have been driving that poorly, though, since after a while he turned around and headed back.

So anyway, I arrived back home at about 3:35am, Friday morning. I had at this point in time been up for over 22 hours on about 4.5 hours of sleep -- definitely outside my normal pattern.

By the time I got things unloaded and settled, it was about 4am by the time I got to bed. I slept in for a while, but I was still up by 10am and made it back to work by about 11:30 that (Friday) morning.

Why would I do this? Because I had an impending deadline to meet and the trip to Canada kinda bit into that. Not exactly my idea of a great time, but since the destination in Canada was to fix a problem for some really good guys, it made it worthwhile. smile

So, here again, I was only in Canada for about 12 hours (just like the last time). One of these days I'm planning on staying and maybe actually doing something in Canada, rather than just driving to and fro.

Some neat things I saw on this trip:

  • A BEER Vending Machine -- just like a Pepsi/Coke Machine, except for beer (in Canada)
  • A huge area (on the order of 80 acres) filled with nothing but rows of large square bales of straw (in Canada)
  • An interesting billboard suggesting to 'Visit Wonderful Flin Flon' on the road south of Winnipeg (Flin Flon is on the other side of Manitoba) -- reminds me of all those 'Wall Drug' billboards you see.
  • The de-construction of the 19th Avenue North bridge in Fargo, ND, at 1:30am. It was quite cool to see them cutting the beams out in the middle of the night -- you could see the sparks for over a mile.

Springtime!

I spent part of this last weekend doing some outside stuff. Namely cleaning up the yard a bit. Beth and I raked up parts of the yard and also did various other outdoor activities (I broke out the lawnmower so I could pull around the trailer and haul some things around).

It was nice to be able to take some time and get things straightened up outside. It won't be long before we'll have to be outside a lot for lawnmowing and all the other fun stuff. smile

Music Collection

I also took some time (while I was upgrading the TWiki installations I mentioned in yesterday's post) to look into my long-ignored CD collection.

I started the project sometime in December, but didn't do anything further until last weekend. I've got quite a collection of music, and many things on CD that I've not listened to for a long time (namely due to the fact that it's not in a very functional format for me). So, I started ripping the CD's into my digital collection. I was amazed to listen to some of the stuff again, because I had in some cases completely forgotten about some of the stuff I've got. It was cool, and I've been working on a few CD's per night since. At this rate, within a few weeks I should have the remainder of the stuff done, and then I can just have it shuffle a playlist and never really forget about any of the music that I've had in my collection for many, many years.

Brief disclaimer, though -- none of this music is illegal. I have just only listened to most of it in the car (when/if I remember to bring any of it along) for the last eight years or so. smile

Books!

Yes, I do read on occasion. It's not very often that I read a book proper that's not reference-related, but I bought a new (picture/coffee table) book in February that caught my eye. It's called Strange Days, Dangerous Nights and is basically a collection of several hundred photographs which were taken in and around St. Paul, MN, between about 1945 and 1968, during the 'Speed Graphic' camera era.

The book has many quite graphic images of death, destruction, and other oddities that may make some people shudder. In particular, the brief section about the strange deaths of children is probably the hardest to look at. But, the book isn't focused on that kind of shock content...

After going through it, I've come to the conclusion that it's really almost an anthropologic collection of what made news 'back in the day' when news photographers had incredible access to crime scenes (in particular). These are the type of pictures which would make the front page of a paper, but you'd never see released today until all investigations were complete.

The core of the book is really geared toward the amazing quality images of the particular camera. There are many sections about normal happenings, too (it's not all gruesome). Overall, I was really pleased with the purchase. It's not the kind of thing you look at very often, but it's really neat to be able to look at some of the actual images that were literally front-page news of 40-60 years ago. In an odd way, you can almost link some of the more gruesome stuff of the 1950's to what you'd see on some (non-news-related) cable TV channels of today. Not much has really changed in regards to the images depicted (if you take out the news factor -- you don't generally see that graphic stuff on the news anymore -- and replace it with general TV series, etc.), merely the medium on which they're depicted.

Anyway...

...it's been another long day, and I'm getting tired now. I won't proofread this post much, so I don't guarantee the quality for tonight. smile

With the forthcoming Easter holiday weekend, I'm not sure when my next post will be. But until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

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