Monday, October 26, 2009

How many will I need?

Hi all,

As most of you know, I have been making the things I give out for Christmas for a few years. Sometimes these have been “1 per family” and sometimes “1 per person”. Last year was oval boxes which were 1 per person. This year I would also like to do a 1 per person, but would like to get a count of everyone who will be present at the Christmas gathering.

Send me an email on behalf of yourself and your family members so that I can get an accurate count.

Everything I am making this year will be similar, but each will be unique. My plan is for everything to be “laid out” and each person just picks whichever appeals to them the most (like we did with the pens a few years ago). I may find myself in a situation where I don’t have enough ready, so if you happen to get an “IOU”, don’t take it personally. Sean, Ryan, and Danny got IOUs a couple of years ago and I eventually made good on them. (Did you guys like the clipboards? Were or are they useful?)

I’m making a guess that I will need 25 or more “things” for this Christmas. I’ve finished 7 of them, and am almost done with another 7. As you may know, I sometimes like to include a penny with the current year and it has been a big challenge in collecting 2009 pennies. If I had about 20 more 2009 pennies I could knock these out much quicker. If you’ve been saving corks for me, why not send them, and if you have some 2009 pennies, drop those in the package as well? 2009 pennies are easy to distinguish because they are very shiny and do NOT have the Lincoln Memorial on the back.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Poison Ivory…remember?

If you have followed my blog for a long time you may remember “poison ivory”…that’s Poison Ivy to you and me, but pronounced by my less than literate neighbor.
Click here
and here.

I had this dead tree in the backyard that was FULL of foliage...all of which was poison ivy. I went out and cut through the vine, which was about as big around at the base as an elephant’s leg. The ivy all died back and I was pleased, although I had to continue to be careful around it, as there were several tendrils hanging that could still come in contact with me. The chemical inside stays active a LONG time as I understand, so dead poison ivy is still to be avoided.

Recently that tree fell down. It’s root structure was consumed enough to allow a wind and soggy ground to topple it. It fell mostly on my backyard, but the top was a little into the neighbor’s. I wanted to get it removed because I did not want to come into contact with any of it.

So I contacted a tree service. They came and looked and pronounced that it would be $585 to remove it and dump it in the woods next door. Yikes! This job would take me about an hour if it weren’t for the ivy. I declined. Then I went to the “sand and stone” seller about 2 miles from the house and explained what was there. The guy said “I can come out tonight with my bulldozer and push it into the woods for $30. Fantastic...and SOLD !

I assumed that I would have to get home before him and cut the trunk into about 3 pieces, but by the time I got home he was done and leaving! There is a little bit of cleanup left to do, but should not be bad at all with rakes and a tarp. I gave him $50 and thumbed my nose at the professional tree service people. He did a nice enough job and stayed off the area of yard that has septic lines. The pushing made a line/trail of red dirt, but that will disappear next spring. Couldn't be more pleased, and I didn't get a rash.

Just something to keep in mind, should you ever have a similar circumstance...don’t settle for the first price.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

CDs and MP3s

When CDs were first being developed, it was a design requirement that they be able to play at least 72 minutes of music. Why? Because some big-wig knew that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was that long and he desired to hear it uninterrupted...not having to flip over a cassette or record album.

There was no MP3 compression format at the time. One could not “burn” one’s own CDs.

Today, I put a CD into my computer here at work. It contains ALL NINE Beethoven symphonies. I “ripped” them from the originals that I purchased many years ago, and “burned” them in MP3 format to the single CD.

Later I may add up the total play time of all 9, but don’t have the stats right now. But I looked at the CD using “My Computer” and “Properties”. The disc is not even HALF full. Close...335MB used, 345MB free. This CD will last for several HOURS of music at work without needing to change the CD.

The guy in the office next to me listens to an iPod every day. I know that they can store a TON of music, however, once filled up you’re stuck. What if you want to hear something that isn’t in your iPod memory? You need to make room by getting rid of something else.

I love classical music and have gotten spoiled by the CD. I rarely play them anymore because they run out too quickly (not all are 72 minutes) and I need to go change CDs. Yes, I know they make CD changers that hold many CDs, but I am somewhat of a cheapskate.

What I need to do is start making my own compilation CDs, in MP3 format, of favorite music so that I can listen for many hours without needing to change out a CD. Rip and Burn on my newly upgraded home PC will be speedy. In fact, I can use the PC to play the CDs, my office laptop PC can play them, and the car can play them. No need to buy anything! More to come.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"Hansel and Gretel" was so-so

Well, I went to see “Hansel and Gretel” last night. It was enjoyable, but I will not be in a hurry to see it again, so I rank it a “so-so”. I agree with Mr. Peter Perret, who reviewed it at this link but he says it much more eloquently.

Monday, October 05, 2009

An almost perfect weekend.

Last Friday was taken as a vacation day. The plan was to go spend the 3 day weekend in Raleigh, taking in an opera on Friday night and seeing the local sites for the remainder of the weekend. It was almost perfect. The only thing wrong was that I booked a room at a Motel 6, sight unseen, and it was in a part of town that was a little seedy. It was along a highway, so there was road noise. There were some less than desirable folks staying there. And for some reason the air conditioner went through phases of working and not working. If and when there is another opportunity, I will choose a Red Roof Inn nearby but looking to be in a slightly nicer area.

It takes about 2 hours to drive from my house to Raleigh. We got there a little after noon, checked in, and went out to tour around. We walked around the Governor’s Mansion (beautiful and wonderful gardens) and then went to an administration building for a little bit. Susan once lived and worked in Raleigh, nearly 20 years ago, and thought she may still know some people that worked there. However, she found that everyone that she knew had retired.

We then went to an area that is across from a park. It had shops and small restaurants. I forget the name of the area, but it is very close to a bus station, a Children’s museum, and an IMAX theater. We found an Irish pub that had been recommended called “Tir Na No’g”, and had sandwiches and beer. It was very good, although my beer was a little more hoppy than I like…still, it was just fine.

We drove back to the Taj Mahal, I mean Motel 6, cleaned up and changed, and went to the opera, “Rigoletto”. The performance was nice, however, we were sitting a little too far away from the stage. I was not familiar with that theater when I bought tickets…next time I will try to get closer, or even just get a couple pairs of opera glasses. I have seen Rigoletto before and enjoy it very much. Before the show the conductor came onstage and apologized ahead of time for a sinus problem with the female lead of “Gilda”. However, I couldn’t find anything wrong with her…she sounded great.

After the show we drove back to the area of the Motel and found a great place to eat called “Jack Astor’s”. Our waiter told us it was a Canadian chain and that there are only 2 in the states…Cary NC being one of them. The other in Buffalo NY ?? Anyway, it was fun. Like a sports bar with good food, and a flair for fun decorating. They had an Elvis shrine corner table. I will post pictures later.

On Saturday we toured. Lots of time spent at the Natural History museum. We saw a show about Tornados and a live demonstration on Tropical areas, given by a fabulous speaker. Lots of geological history info and displays pertaining to NC. Across the way was the NC History Museum. Both of these were free, by the way, and reminded me of the Smithsonian. We didn’t get to spend as much time in the second one but may go back some day and do that and more.

Breakfast that day was at a Bob Evans restaurant (my first time ever). Dinner was at a mall with “Crabtree” in the name, and we ate at a “Cheesecake Factory” restaurant. WOW, what great food and nice service. The place was crowded, attesting to how good it is.

On Sunday, after checking out, we had a lighter breakfast at Bob Evans, and then we drove to a food store Susan wanted to see, called “Trader Joe’s”. She had been before and said that they are more well known in California. Nice place. Good fresh food. Then we went to Chapel Hill to walk around the campus of UNC. By the way, every day was just beautiful. Sunny but nice temperatures…no rain even though it was forecast. The campus is very nice and I found out later that it was “parent’s weekend.” And yes, I did see a lot of people who would be parents, but didn’t think anything of it at the time. There was also a street fair going on with many arts and crafts tents up and down the road.

We ate dinner at the "Mellow Mushroom" in Greensboro. The MM had closed down from a different place, and reopened in their present location. Very nicely decorated inside. The pizzas were wonderful.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and Monday came just a little too quickly. However, I got a decent night’s sleep at home after 2 not so good nights at the Motel 6.

I will have JP for the next 2 weekends, and after that perhaps we may go…..CAMPING! (which would be my first time ever) Stay tuned!