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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).


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 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

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