Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Joys of Music

Most of today I have listened to music. Right now I have Simon & Garfunkel's greatest hits in, a disc I inherated from my mom. The upside to this is I have gotten a ton of stuff done today. The downside is that I have a stack of movies to watch this week. Fortunately most of them are either free or part of Netflix so even if I don't get to them no big deal.

One of the reason I have so many movies is because of my Entertainment Book. For those who have not seen these, they are books of coupons from the area you live in. The bulk of the coupons, at least in the Akron, OH version, are for various restaurants in the area. However Giant Eagle has 1 coupon a month to rent one get one free video rentals. At $2.50 a pop that alone almost pays for the $28 book. There are also some coupons in there for reduced price oil changes, car washes, movie coupons (typically matinee prices in the evening), etc.

The downside of these books is most of the coupons are buy one, get one free. Not bad if you have someone to share with, but if not you are pretty well stuck. I have been working my book alone for the last 2+ years and have made the following observations:

1) By and large burgers keep pretty well for lunch. Skip the mayo (which most us probably should anyways) and they keep well. If you reheat lettuce goes limp. Fries & pop (or soda for some of you) do not keep, so plan on eating them right away. I try to get the smallest fry/drink that I can if I need to.

2) Fried chicken keeps the best. Taco Bell chalupas keep about as well as burgers, but don't reheat as well. I find they taste fine cold though. Burittos are a mixed bag depending upon which one you get. It goes without saying the Chinese food keeps the best.

3) Pizza - this is a tough one since many of the coupons are buy a LARGE, get one free. I have some local places that just do 50% off, so they naturally get my business first. I easily get 4 meals out of a 12" large that they have. Usually works out to about $1 per meal, sometimes less. It keeps pretty well, although you may burn out on pizza if you are eating 4 meals straight. One lady at works told me her grandfather would freeze the pizza and eat it later. I have yet to try it, but I do have a couple for buy one get one free any size pizza and may try it.

4) Other local stuff - Some of the movie passes are a mail in offer, which means you have to make sure to use them. Since I usually see movies in the afternoon or at my favorite second run theater (1 big screen, and popcorn that tastes SOOO good but is SOOO bad for you) I don't take advantage of those. There are many golf coupons if you have a buddy as well.

5) Non-local stuff - You can get up to half at many hotel chains nation wide. I have yet to compare the prices to say Travelocity. United Airlines also has $50 or $100 off flights, plus every car rental company has a variety of coupons in.

I am a little anal and I want to make sure I always get my money's worth, and over the last 2 years I have gotten at least $84 in total savings, which is pure savings of twice what I paid for the book. So far this year (which startes Nov. 1st) I have $19.26, and that is not being good about making use of the coupons.

Walking miles to date: 39

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Been awhile

The first part of my weeks just suck anymore, leaving me little time to blog. I have been trying to ween myself off of TV to leave me more time to read and other things like work here on my blog. I am still cleaning up some stuff that has fallen off the cliff. I have to dig out a credit card from the stack of "junk" mail sitting next to my chair.

One nice thing about podcasts is that you can load up the MP3 player and do stuff around the house. Right now I am listening to Mondays, which includes a bunch of the people from .Net Rocks.
.Net Rocks is obviously aimed at Windows .Net developers, but Mondays is all the humor and other stuff that is not programming specific. It is definately geeky though, and DEFINATELY not work friendly. If you are offended easily, skip it. The humor can definately get "guyish" (meaning lowbrow), but so far I have listened to 3 shows and it is a nice diversion.

The only down side to this is both podcasts are going to Bit Torrent. Now it is not necessarily a bad thing, since these are pretty popular and using Bit Torrent really speads up the download. However Bit Torrent is not a good thing security wise, and I cannot use it at work since the IT guys would have a cow, even though .Net Rocks is work related.

I am still trying to get a project up and running under .Net. I need to find myself an interesting project so that I learn the .Net framework. I have an idea for some kind of content management for my podcasts so I don't have to manually delete them as I do now.

Medicine Card Draw: Armadillo, keyword Boundaries
Total miles walked: 36

Monday, January 24, 2005

Quick Check In

The last few days has been a bit slow because of the weather. We did not get as much snow as New England, but it was enough to make driving a pain. It was a whopping 1 degree out this morning, but tomorrow they say mid 30s. Plus my feet our killing me. Yesterday I walked 5 miles and my feet are not quite ready for it yet. I did another 3 today. I need to get my feet conditioned to doing 6 miles a day for the summer. The AVA is having their convention this summer, which means I will need to be able to do at least 6 miles a day for 10 days straight, and 12.5 on some days. Two years ago when I went to their convention my feet were not ready and I paid the price for it. This year I have plenty of time to get ready.

Medicine Cards:
I was asked what the Medicine Card draw I listed was. This is a form of divination that I work with. This is something that is akin to the the tarot, although based on, primarily, North American Indian folklore around animals.

Miles walked: 30 miles.
Medicine Card Draw: Alligator, key word integration.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Freezing my hands off

A file server I am working on at work is having a hickup and I have several questions out to others so I am taking some time to update my blog. I really need to do this more often.

It is not that cold outside, however today my hands are freezing. Every now and then at work we get a really cold day in the office and until I get some kind of hand coverings I have to live with it.

Went to go and see What The Bleep Do We Know? again last night. This is definately a movie you need to see several times, and I have already ordered the DVD which is coming out in mid March. Someday I will get around to reading some of the books referenced in the movie and the website. For me it was great to see scientists and medical doctors coming to some of the same conclusions that mystics have known for years (centuries really). I picked up a few more things about time. Why are we so obsessed with being able to change future events and not past events? Science is showing that past & future is more similar than previously believed. Interesting concept.

Theresa over at CupieSpew turned me on to the 50 Book Challenge. The idea is to try and read 50 books in 2005 (or whatever year we are in). I may not formally join the challenge, but I am going to keep track anyways just to see how close I come. I got a late start and have only read 1 book so far this year: No Phule Like An Old Phule. So I have 1 so far, and I am in a rather heavy book (topic-wise) right now. I'll pick up some of my lighter reading afterwards to make up some ground.

Friday Meme

From 24 Knits:
*3 Items you couldn't possibly live without:
- My Palm Tungsten T3, or similar device. It is such an extension of me at this point I'm not sure I could survive without one.
- CD/MP3 player. I have got to have my music and I am getting increasing pissed at radio.
- Chai, sweet caffinated nector of the gods. Ok, I do live without it on a daily basis, but my world would definately be bad if I did not have the opportunity to have it daily.

*The first 3 people you kissed (these are outside of family members, last names omitted to protect the semi-innocent):
- Debbie
- Mary
- Melinda

*3 things you swear you'll never do (this is hard because I am willing to try most things once):
- Drugs. I've seen too many people completely screw up their lives.
- Sing solo in public. This could change if I ever actually LEARNED how to sing.
- Mmmmmm.....Own an SUV. I have no need for one.

Well, I hope to do some things the blog over the weekend. I have been wanting to post some pictures and I am going on some long weekends and I was thinking of setting up to do some audio blogging while on the road, plus I want to do some research on some things here at Blogger.

Daily Medicine Card draw: Porcupine
Miles walked in 2005: 22, way behind where I should be.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Catching up on a cold day, loving WiFi again

This bipolar weather we have been having is playing with my system. Typically it gets cold and stays cold, my body adjusts, life is good. We have not even had a super cold day. Typically we would have had a day or two of 10 degree weather (or lower) by now, and it has not happened. Hopefully things will stay cold now and I can stay acclimated to the colder weather.

Loving WiFi, tenatively

Yesterday I wrote how I had picked up some high gain antenna for my wireless router. So far things have worked out. I have had my computer out in the living room for a couple of hours and no lost connection. Way cool, so far. Over the summer things worked out well at first. We will see a week from now.

Making FireFox a speed demon

Ok, maybe not a speed demon, but at least a lot perkier than it was. I switched from Mozilla over to FireFox after the 1.0 version came up, as well as Thunderbird. So far I love both of them. Thunderbird in particular since the hotkeys I have come to know and love are mostly used. Ok, I'm an old DOS dude who remembers hotkeys for just about everything. Plus I spent two years in high school in vocation learning all the ins and outs of typing like a maniac.

Anyways, many probably seen this, but here is something that can really speed up FireFox. I know there have been some concern over hammering servers unnecessarily, but so far I have not seen any problems (well, if I can stop the damn dial up screen from popping up and stopping the loading dead that is). I have noticed that some servers do not take advantage of this, some do. For example User Friendly pops right up, but My Yahoo is not much faster. Try the following:

How To Speed Up Firefox (Helpful Vanity)

Posted on 12/12/2004 12:45:50 PM PST by KoRn

Here's something for broadband people that will really speed Firefox up:

1.Type "about:config" into the address bar and hit return. Scroll down and look for the following entries:

network.http.pipelining network.http.proxy.pipelining network.http.pipelining.maxrequests

Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.

2. Alter the entries as follows:

Set "network.http.pipelining" to "true"

Set "network.http.proxy.pipelining" to "true"

Set "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to some number like 30. This means it will make 30 requests at once.

3. Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set its value to "0". This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it recieves.

If you're using a broadband connection you'll load pages MUCH faster now!

How do women afford it

As I have mentioned the only reality show I watch is Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. As a result, and my recent turning 40, I have been trying to take a little bit better of the oustide of myself. Nothing serious mind you, just some lotion, conditioner for what is left of my hair, something a little gentlier to wash my face, and some stuff to help the dark circles under my eyes. Man is this stuff expensive! Like I said, I only got a few things. I can't see how women can afford all of this AND make up. I have yet to even start on a wardrobe changes.

This and that

Got up way too late today, which really put a crimp in my schedule. This was the first meeting of the local genealogy society for the year. As the newsletter editor I felt the need to be there, plus we were touring the new genealogy room at the new library. Very nice. I look forward to doing reserach there, assuming I ever find the time to get back to my genealogy.

I picked up a high gain antenna for my wireless router today. Took me awhile to get the one off, but both are now in place. I look forward to taking my laptop out of the bedroom and into the living room tomorrow to see how they are going to work out. At some point I am going to have to get my office nice and cleaned out so that I can work back there most of the time.

The TV/VCR combo in my bedroom has partially died. No, the TV and VCR work fine, however the remote control has completely given up the ghost. I have a universal remote, however it is not looking like it is something with the remote receiver on the TV. I am going to try the last resort way of getting it programmed tomorrow, but things are not looking good. I have an extra TV back in my office (yea, I have 3 TVs for 1 person), but that will require me to pickup some more electronics so that I can hook up my DVD player.

From 24 Knits, a meme to finish up with:

* 3 CD's you last listened to (or for those iPod freaks, first 3 songs if you shuffle)
Soundtrack to Wayne's World
Blue Man Group "The Complex"
Bangles "Greatest Hits"

*The 3 books you read most recently (assuming ya'll are edumacated folk)
(copied from All Consuming)

No Phule Like an Old Phule
by Robert Asprin, Peter J. Heck

Edgar Cayce on the Indigo Children
by Peggy Day, Susan Gale

Something M.Y.T.H. Inc.
by Robert Lynn Asprin

*3 blogs you read religiously (and spare me the whole "I only read 24Knits" crap. We all know it's true even if you don't say it)
The Neurotic Fishbowl
Let Me Make My Point(e)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Weather, tech problems & other stuff

We are running some bipolar weather here in Ohio. Yesterday we were in the upper 60s, it then dropped to the 30s today, and is going even further down over the weekend. God I hate this weather.

Curse you WiFi

Ok, when I first hooked up my WiFi I loved it. My router was in the office, I could wander around the house and plop down wherever and hookup to the internet. Well the honeymoon is over. Now, and I don't know why, I keep dropping the connection if I am in the living room. I tried some of the recommended solutions for Windows XP users, although none of them have worked. Since I can get a consistent connection in my bedroom my guess is there is some problem with the walls, or maybe some kind of interference from the furnance since everything worked over the winter. Best Buy has different atenae you can buy, and I am going to pick one up over the weekend if it will work with my router.

Apple confusion

I am not a Mac user, however I have always respected them. They seem to have their finger on the pulse of the home market and can make a fairly powerful machine that is user friendly AND has visual appeal.

At MacWorld I guess there were some environmental protestors about the poor design of the iPod, environmentally speaking. I am upset about this personally. Apple had there "think differently" campaign yet this is an example thinking like everyone else. I was seriously considering an iPod, but I may have to consider one of their competitors, even though they cost more and do less. It really sucks because the integration with iTunes and the iTunes SDK (and I would guess there is an iPod SDK as well).

Now the bit of interesting info out of Mac World, at least to me. It is also I think the least understood. Apple announced the new iPod Shuffle. Just about everyone I have read or heard talking about this seems to think this is a bone head move on Apple's part, saying that for the same price (or pretty close) you can pick up a comparable iRiver that does more. When I was looking at iRiver's page (which, BTW, I own an older iRiver and love their products) if you compared strictly on memory capacity iRiver was $100 more.

Granted the iRiver's do more, however having had an iRiver that has a voice recorder, inline MP3 recorder and FM tuner I can say I have yet to use any of these features. I have to ask how many people actually use these features anyways? Really. I know few people who use voice recorders, and much like other things I have seen these in cell phones. Given that the purpose of an mp3 player is to play music, the FM tuner is probably not going to see much use. With podcasting I would guess that the use of the recorder is more likely, but I would guess that anyone with an interest in podcasting will probably have an iPod.

However, I think everyone misses the point of the Shuffle. This is a small device that does 1 thing well (hopefully well) - play MP3 files. It strips out all the crap functions that most people will either not use or already have setup in other devices and just plays files. Frankly the Shuffle sounds a lot like how I use my current player. Volume control, skip to the next/previous song. I rarely check the display for what is playing. I do play my songs in order, which is an option on the Shuffle, however I can see where the random shuffle (which is an option on mine as well) is a good thing to keep things fresh.

With this kind of device, at least in my experience, you just load up with music and listen to it until you are tired of the current mix and then you load it up again. Having used a similar device and loaded some podcasts and the little display window on them is not any more conducive to podcasts than having no window. And frankly when I load podcasts I load them in the order I want to listen to them in.

I think it was 6 months to a year ago that I read an article where the author felt that the market for music player would break into 2 categories - cheap low end memory based devices and the juke box devices a la the iPod. The key word for memory based devices is cheap. I think $149 for a 1 gig device is probably about right, although it would be cool to get it down to about $100. A swappable battery would also be good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Thoughts on podcasting

Having listened and worked with podcasting for a couple of weeks now I have to echo Adam Curry's call for content management. I don't have an iPod, rather a vintage iRiver 256 meg device that requires special software to load files. I have worked with iTunes on the PC and iPodder. I think to get this to work well there still needs to be a few changes in the whole process.

1) First off all players, whether HD or memory based, needs to be able to work like a drive OR the software needs to allow adding files from other programs. Podcasting may have gotten its name from iPods, but I'm sure a few of us will not be using Apple products for this, therefore no iTunes.

2) iTunes has a lot of the stuff we need to do content mangement. It would be nice if iTunes would work with ANY player, but realisticly that will never happen. Not having an iPod to work with, but my guess is that the play count and last played date in iTunes is updated from the iPod. That would be the key to content management.

3) The aggregator, or the playlist builder, needs a way of allowing for building the playlist in whatever order. Right now things get added to the iTunes library from iPodder in the order they files are acquired unless some other sorting is applied. Right now things end up in the order in which you added the feeds to iPodder, however I typically like to listen to the shorter podcasts and then the longer ones. I would imagine I could edit some of the files that iPodder use to shift the order, but that would be better done in iPodder itself.

4) Adam Curry already mentioned the need for a vacation button.

5) A REALLY cool idea would be some way to sync up different computers. I have iPodder running at work & home, and it would be nice to coordinate them. Frankly I don't necessarily load everything onto a player to listen to, especially at work.

6) iPoder also needs a skip button while it is downloading. Sometimes I might want to skip a feed, particularly since I cannot coordinate my iPodders from work & home. There are some feeds that are weekly feeds that I can easily skip if I know I have listened to it at home.

7) It would be cool if the show notes could be easily aggregated along with the MP3s, but not as big deal as the need for tighter integration between the player and the computer.

Granted doing the content management thing is not too big for me given I only follow a dozen or so podcasts, but for those who listen to more I can see where this is a pain.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Manic Monday

I am really beginning to hate Mondays, but at least now I have a show that I am hoping is worth watching - Medium.

Given what I do I know several mediums and have seen them work, and frankly it is rather dull looking. Don't get me wrong, it is fascinating to listen to, but visually it is about as interesting as watching paint dry. They have addressed some of the issues where people come and visit at bad times, but they have yet to get into some of the dark side of this type of work. By and large mediumship is safer than some activities, such as channelling, but it is still a little more dangerous than more run of the mill psychic stuff. I do like Patricia Arquette, and I think she is an interesting choice given she was in Stigmata.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Another day in a gray paradise

I have to stop staying up t0 2 or so on Saturday. I got up way too late and have been playing catchup every since.

I have been catching a few podcasts of late, and I am looking forward to the Drum Cadence Of The Day getting its own feed. I wish my MP3 player worked as a drive instead of using special software to move over files. It is a pain in the butt.

The thing that took the most time today was cooking. I have been doing Weight Watchers since last summer through their website. I let it go for a few months at the end of the year and I am trying to get back into it. My main complaint with it is the cost of food if you follow their menu suggestions. Since I live alone and cook for 1 person all the time I only make a couple of receipes up a week. For lunch & dinner I need to make 14 meals, and since I eat with my brother one day, usually do a Slim Fast 1 day a week because I so busy that I do not have a chance to eat real food and I go out to eat 2 days a week with my Entertainment Book coupons. That leave 10 meals, which typically means 2 or 3 receipes a week. Today was bad because I had 5 different things I was cooking for the week since I had 3 side dishes as well. Next week will be fun because I am looking to clean out my freezer of some of the old stuff that I have frozen over the last few months, plus I need to clean out some crap from my fridge as well. I am still looking to get my Weight Watchers pantry built up, so I will be spending a lot more money than usual on food. I am also still trying to figure out what would be BEST in the pantry. I have a few things - apricots, peanuts, whole wheat bread (which I ate anyways), and carrots. I also picked up some salsa that was on sale this week. Still a ton of food that I need to get rid of.

Daily Medicine Card draw - Turtle
Total miles walked this year - 12.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Running late

I'm running late today, as I seem to be on every Monday. I got back on the track today after too long off because of illness, schedule & weather. My feet hurt but I am feeling good otherwise.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Going through stuff

I spent most of the day going through all the semi-junk mail that has accumulated around. I found a couple of bank statements for an account that I can only remove money from. Otherwise it was just doing laundry and cleaning. The high point was helping my brother bury a dead cat that turned up under his shed. Truly sad.

I did make a few changes in the blog. I am now using All Consuming to track my currently reading list. I am going to slowly add some of my recent reads as well as time goes by. I also found a site that keeps some of the lists like best movies of all times. It allows you to keep track of what you have watched. I added a link to what I have seen. It is sad that of over 280 total items just over 260 were movies. I have to admit my interest in books are a bit outside of the norm so it is not really surprising that I have not hit many on the lists. Most of the music lists seems to be classic rock or at least harder rock than I usually listen to.

The truly sad news I go today is Dave Berry is taking at least 1 year off from his weekly column, and may never come back. Mostly it sounds like he wants to work on some other projects and recharge the batteries. My mom got me started reading his column, some of his books (most of which is just a collection of his columns), and of course the TV show Dave's World. I will definately miss his weirdness on Sunday.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Almost quiet on the northern front

Well the antibiotics for my sinus infection caught up to me today. Not only does it kill all the nasty bacteria that made my snot run yellow but it also killed all the useful bacteria in my intestines that kept me from running to the bathroom every hour or so. Aren't you happy I shared?

Yesterday I was out semi enjoying the warm weather (upper 50s) and I ran over to Borders for my monthly magazine run and took a gander at the metaphysical section and came across Edgar Cayce on the Indigo Children. Now I am not a big follower of Cayce, but I do respect that he had some talents as a psychic.

I can't say I disliked the book. I found it interesting, but by the title I thought I would read more about Cayce than about what other people were doing in the world. Less than half the book was focused on Cayce's work, and that was at the back end of the book. I would have thought this info should have been first and then some of the other material so we could see how it tied in. Also much of the advice from Cayce seemed more generic than specific for dealing with psychic children, or Indigos (Fifth root race as they are called in the book). Even the dietary info was generic info I have heard before from people who follow Cayce closer than I do.

Overall if you are already a follower of Cayce's works you probably have most of the info in here. Borrow the book from the library if you want to read about some of the other projects. If you are looking for some in depth, specific info on Indigos you may want to look somewhere else first. There are other books that address this better I feel. This is a nice book to supplement your studies, but I would recommened starting elsewhere.

Also tonight I watched Christmas at Maxwells. I got this as a part of my December Spirit Cinema Circle DVD, volume 8 to be exact. Aside from the fact it was shot in Cleveland and Ottawa County (relatively close to Cleveland along Lake Erie) I thought it was a great film. It is scheduled for release next year and we got a sneak peak. I still need to send in my comments about the alternate ending they provided. I think it provides a nice telling of getting a Christmas miracle without getting overly mushy. Plus the mother I have watched on The Block (which is really just some commercial length fillers for the local UPN syndicated stuff before the UPN stuff comes on) and find her cute but goofy. She seems like a nice lady and I hope this helps her to get some more meaty roles, assuming that is what she wants. BTW if you are tired of some of the crap that seems to be coming out of Hollywood these days and want something that is spiritual, but not necessarily religious, check out Spirit Cinema Circle. Maybe a little pricey, but by and large the films are as good as anything you will find at Blockbuster and they have some soul.

Meme of the day

I picked this up from Skyte, although I saw some variations on this at other blogs. Just flip your media player on random and record the first 10 songs. Here they are:

1) Love has 9 lives - Music for the Goddess (Man I miss the old's New Age channels)
2) Good Bye Blue Skys - Pink Floyd
3) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Main theme from the soundtrack
4) Send me on my way - Rusted Root
5) Prologue - Soundtrack to "Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone"
6) Will You Be There - Michael Jackson
7) 1967 Beetles fan club record - The Beetles
8) Orinoco Flow - Neoera
9) Manic Monday - The Bangels
10) Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

Man is this a weird mix.