Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's Table Tennis, Not Ping Pong

I broke down and bought a new table tennis table from Costco (big sale) - our old one was 30 years old! It was tired and beat and the edges were pretty much gone. And forget about folding it and rolling it. Costco had one on sale that Lucie liked and I found a friend who is willing to take the old girl (yes it is a good home!). So Elliott and I went and bought it and got a Costco guy to help put it on the Pathfinder roof racks. I brought a lot of rope and tied it down every which way. It wasn't pretty but it held the whole way home. My neighbor was outside so I snagged him and he helped me get it off the roof. Then Elliott and I could take it piece by piece to the basement. And then spent 2 hours putting it together! It had stupid safety things so it wouldn't tip over or fold up (unplanned) which took a long time to install and the directions were pictures. But it is nice. So we get it set up and Elliott is all ready to take on the old man. And danged if he doesn't beat me FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE 22-20! First game on the table too! So he is in hog heaven. It was a good game. And I was really trying.

And in other news... We picked up Ashleigh today from 4 days at field hockey camp in the southern part of the state. She did well and her team won a division championship. Lots of drills and skills and playing but she had fun. The pool hit 86ยบ the other day but of course it rained when Lucie was going to have a church pool party so that got rained out. I had a second interview this week which I think went very well. Great company. The interviewers were thorough and probing but fair and sincere. I am excited. I have been working on some background info that they need and just waiting by the phone for a call...!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hot Pictures

Lucie and Ashleigh got home fine and were tired but not exhausted like they have been in the past. The campground had set up a wifi network and Lucie was able to post pictures and videos to Facebook so all the family and friends left behind could check in and see how things were going. Very good!

Elliott and I survived on pizza and scary movies. Tough week for us...

Today Lucie was copying camp pictures to the laptop using a Digital Concepts CD-45 XD Card Reader/Writer when she noticed it was warped and melted and wicked hot! So she yanked it out of the USB slot and saved the XD card. As you can see from my picture, the reader is toast. I went online and found this is not the first time this reader model has melted. I sent an email to the company and will call them on Monday.

We laid low yesterday and today. Tomorrow we take Ashleigh down to the middle part of the state for a 4 day field hockey camp. This is her first time going but she knows some of the other girls that will be there and is looking forward to it.

I had a blog entry titled, "Bugs, Birds and Branches" but didn't have enough other info to post until now. The other day I saw a huge (2 inch?) bug on the bottom of the pool. I fished it out and it looked like something out of the movie The Mummy. While doing that, I heard a big crashing sound from out in the woods. I turned to see a pretty good sized branch falling through the trees and hit the ground. I went back to the bug and set it on a fence post for Elliott to see. He took a look and as we headed back into the house, we saw a dead bird laying in the grass. Both of us swear it wasn't there 5 minutes earlier. I scooped that up and heaved it into the woods. Two minutes later, we noticed the bug was gone! Crazy stuff going on around here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Games And Things

This morning Elliott and I headed over to the Y to play some racquetball. You have to be 14 to play there so he was finally able to legitimately play. Only took me about 3 minutes to nail him in the back. All part of the game, son, all part of the game...

We came home from there and had some tuna fish sandwiches for lunch and showered and headed out again. We saw a sign for a Domino's pizza sale (large plain for $4.99) so we got two of those and a couple of scary movies. We also returned a couple of things to Home Depot and Radio Shack and Elliott traded in some old PSP movies and games for Game Stop store credit towards the new Halo game coming out this Fall. Last night we watched one of my favorite movies, Pearl Harbor, and I saw an old Xbox game at Game Stop where you flew missions from that era. $3. So I was getting all psyched up to relive the movie with me as a fighter pilot. But I crashed and burned before I ever got out of the store - all they had was the empty case with no game!

It was a pretty gray day for the most of the day but I took the dogs for a walk around the 'hood. The sun came out towards the end of that. As soon as we get back, the golden heads straight into the pool and the beagle goes into the house and literally falls over onto the kitchen linoleum floor.

We made it through one of the movies (The Haunting in Connecticut). It was fair but relied on the lame scares of sudden loud music and things jumping out on the screen. We will watch the other one tomorrow.

Lucie is doing well at camp with Ashleigh and is posting pictures and updates on Facebook. That is great for the parents to be able to log in and see the updates and know everything is going OK.

The best news of the day (year?) came this morning when the company I am interviewing with called me for a follow-up interview/meeting next week. That is a real positive sign and I am very excited about it! I wish I could do the interview tomorrow!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Radio Shack Attacked

Today Lucie and Ashleigh headed off to camp with about 40 other kids plus chaperones. They will be gone till Friday. Elliott and I have a list of fun stuff to do for the week (racquetball, cashing in free mini-golf coupons, ping pong, etc.) and one project which we tackled today. Well, mostly I tackled it because Elliott was at the church for a game day. Anyway, I wanted to run an Internet ethernet cable to the attic and drop it down into Elliott's room so he can be hard wired online for his Xbox. So I went up to the 1,000 degree attic and found that my drop hole was already too full of other cable and phone lines. So I drilled it out (carefully so as to not nick the existing wires) and dropped down two cables to connect to the router in the computer room - one for his room and one to leave coiled up there in case I want to drop it down into another room later. Of course the jack hole in the computer room is behind the two ton desk so I had to stretch and try to reach the cables. And couldn't. So back up to the attic I go to feed more cable. Finally I got them and got them plugged into the router. So far so good. Coiled up one line and pounded in a nail in the attic and hung the coil. Then I stretched the other one across the attic and had to get down on my stomach in the middle of the fiberglass and drop that line down into Elliott's closet ceiling. That worked fine. Went down to his room and had to connect that line to another ethernet line. Plugged it into his Xbox and there was no signal. Sure enough, the Radio Shack connector was no good. We tested the cables and they were fine but the connector wasn't working. So I had to dry off and change clothes and go to another Radio Shack for another connector. Got one and lo and behold if it doesn't look different than the first one! Same package, different item (looked similar). Plugged the new one in and all was good! Looked a little closer at the packaging on the first one and saw it had been previously opened! So someone returned something in the package I bought but it wasn't what I wanted! It's all good now and Elliott is playing faster than ever.

Now to shower off the fiberglass and settle in to watch Pearl Harbor. Elliott always falls asleep when we try and watch it but this time he swears he can make it through.

Yesterday we had a good day at a couple of church fundraisers (pizza and water ice). Even managed to sneak in a pool side nap...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Tribute... Billy Mays: I took my favorite Royal Caribbean tee shirt out of the laundry today and there were three rust circles on it. Argh! So I tried to get them out with the Clorox pen thing, straight bleach, Spray & Wash - you name it. Nothing worked. Then I read online about putting lemon juice on the stains, rubbing some salt on them, and then setting the shirt out in the sun. Faster than you can say, "Oxi Clean," the rust spots were gone! Pretty amazing!

I heard back from Sony (they actually called me) and said there were able to track down the GPS file problem and hoped to have it fixed by the end of the week. Well, it is the end of the week and they haven't fixed it but at least they are on it.

Lucie got a new work computer at church so I spent one day last week setting that up. It is pretty fast and came with Vista installed. That took a little getting used to but she and other users are all set to go now. She loves it. She can actually double click an icon and have a program open up in less than 10 minutes...!

The replacement router came in last week and set up nicely in no time. So the house is back to being wireless and all is good again.

No real job news this week but I expect some movement next week.

Speaking of next week, Lucie and Ashleigh leave for Kids Camp on Monday. Heading out to Carlisle, PA (about 2 hours away). They should have a good time chaperoning over 30 kids (with other adults of course). Elliott and I have a week of racquetball and movies and miniature golf planned.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sony Can Thank Me

Sony released new mapping software for my GPS unit so I downloaded it and installed it but darned if it wasn't the same version as the old one. So I uninstalled and re-installed and downloaded and re-downloaded. Same thing. I then compared the downloaded file with the old version and they were identical. Clearly the download link on the Sony site pointed to the wrong (old) file version. Now to try and convince someone of that... After a few emails, chats and a telephone call, I finally got a Sony tech support person to admit that he too was seeing what I was and he promised to escalate it to the proper people for correction. So anyone having the same problem as me can go ahead and email me their thanks. Which is probably exactly zero people.

And speaking of Sony, we stopped at the Sony outlet on the way home from the beach yesterday to get a new (refurbished) Sony DVD player. Elliott moved his xBox up to his room which took away the DVD player from the family room (we used the xBox as the DVD player). So I got a great 'new' DVD player for the living room and synched it up to the Sony TV there. Today I will move the old JVC DVD player to the family room and synch it with that JVC TV.

I should get the replacement router today from eBay. We have been limping along without wifi in the house but I finally cracked my problem of not getting online wired - it is complicated but I had allowed wireless access to the laptops but not wired access. Corrected that and all is good. I even ran an ethernet wire to Elliott's room so his xBox is wired into the Internet now (instead of via wifi). He is loving it.

Lucie re-did his room which really opened things up in there. He is happy with that.

Yesterday we went to the beach with a lot of church people. Amazing to see the dolphins swimming just off shore! So big and close. It was beautiful most of the day but then got cloudy and chilly towards the late afternoon. One boy was body surfing and managed to smack his face into the hard sand and broke his nose. That earned him a trip to the ER via ambulance to be sure his neck was OK. It was. The good news for me was that it wasn't Elliott this time...

VBS ended very successfully. There was a fundraising goal which was tied into "buying" strips of duct tape to tape Lucie to the wall and see if she would be suspended. But not enough was raised (almost $3000 was though!) so it didn't hold her but the kids loved watching them pull the chair out from under her feet! No injuries to report there.

This week I MIGHT hear a job update. There were some vacations last week but everyone is back and things should get moving again. I hope...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Time To Dance

Above is the M5J airsoft gun my friend sent me for my birthday. But don't let the word "airsoft" fool you: it shoots hard plastic balls at about 400 feet per second (a .22 bullet travels at about 1200 fps) and is fully automatic. Battery charged with a clip that holds 68 rounds. It is heavy metal. So who will be doing the dancing? The squirrels. I haven't mentioned them much of late because they had the upper hand on me for a while. They managed to defeat my squirrel proof bird feeder AND got into my metal bird food can. That can is the step type where you step on the pedal to open the lid. The squirrels managed to chew through the plastic hinge and take the lid off. So I bungied a heavy chunk of concrete to the lid and they still managed to get it open. I had been shooting at the squirrels with my paintball gun (about 300 fps) but by the time I got the air tank screwed on , Jasmine would be jumping around and would scare the squirrels off (the paintballs are egg based and she likes to eat them). This new gun will fire instantly. Woohoo!

Been a busy week at Vacation Bible School. I went in with Lucie on Monday to help that morning with the audio visual stuff in the sound booth and it turned into a week long engagement. Over 150 kids per day plus an additional 50 or so workers. At some points we have video from the laptop running, DVDs, streaming music from the Internet, wireless and handheld mics, two song displaying software programs and two iPods. Throw in a couple of flash drives and cable swapping and I and my helper are like a couple of octopodes back there! (And yes, "octopodes" is the correct plural word for octopus - not octopuses or octopi!). It is quite a production but it is running very smoothly thanks to a LOT of helpers.

The weather has been so dry and beautiful lately. The pool is doing very well. Ashleigh is going to a free defensive driving class on Saturday which will help to bank some points and lower her insurance premiums.

I replaced the router power cord and am able to get back on the Internet but not wirelessly. The wifi component burned out. So I bought a replacement router on eBay for $40 (the power cable alone from Radio Shack was $40 so I am returning that). Elliott is struggling without his xBox online but he is getting by.

Still waiting for more employment news which of course I will share upon receipt. Still optimistic.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fireworks At The Fireworks

Some friends from church went to the park early yesterday morning in Maryland where we watch the fireworks every year and graciously laid out blankets to "mark the territory" for a bunch of us. They do this every year and about 30-40 people from church come later in the evening to a guaranteed spot. So this year a group of us traipse in and set up our chairs and settle in a couple of hours before the fireworks start. A woman comes up behind me and asks me if we could all move our chairs because we set up in front of a space where there were small children. Mind you, the place gets packed (thus the early morning claim staking). So I politely asked the woman why I should move - there is no ground show and I and the rest of us were not blocking their view of the sky - where the fireworks would be seen of course. She kept going on about the little children (who weren't there). So finally I said that if my sitting in my chair posed a problem during the show, I would move. She went back and told some friends so another woman starts calling me "rude." I turned around and asked her what the problem was - many people were in chairs and I was not blocking any view. And I asked her if we moved our chairs, would they ask the people in front of us to move theirs? When would it end? I then turned back around and ignored them (they were about 25 feet behind us). A few minutes later they grabbed some Parks and Recreation workers to complain about me. It took about 2 seconds for the P&R people to again point out the obvious - it was a public park, hundreds of people were in chairs, and the fireworks would be seen in the air. So the people slid their blankets back from behind us. Sure enough, it wasn't long before another family came along and set up their chairs behind us and then another guy set up his chair behind them! ha ha I never could see their point. Anyway, the fireworks were great as usual and we had a great time.

Before that we had about 20 people over for a cookout and pool party. That was a lot of fun and I set up my new Ladderball game. Great afternoon and we really enjoy watching the pool get used.

The night before, the power cord to my router went bad. I sent an email off and went to bed and 2 minutes later Elliott was up telling me the wifi was down. The modem was fine but the router was dead. I quickly found that for some reason, the power cable died. Turns out it is a common problem for this brand of router. Anyway, we scoured the house to find a power supply that put out the right power and had the right connector end. We finally found something that would power the router but the wifi signal is not strong enough to go more than about 5 feet. So Elliott had to experience an Independence Day from Xbox... I went online to order a new power supply ($20!) and wound up just buying a whole new router and antenna from eBay for $40. My desktop can get online because I am direct wired to the internet but the rest of the house is offline.

Looks like another great day today. Staying after church to help Lucie set up for VBS week next week and then eating cookout leftovers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Things Are Rockin

On July 1, around 9:45 AM, a small (2.7) earthquake hit the area. I didn't feel or hear a thing. We actually feel a lot of ground vibrations from detonations at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds (we are 20 miles away) so another little house shaking didn't concern me.

Meanwhile, my interview this week went very well. Thanks to all who prayed for me and gave encouraging feedback. There is still a lengthy process and I am not guaranteed anything but I am hopeful and I feel like it is a great opportunity. Absolutely no drawbacks that I can see and the culture looks great.

I spent the rest of the week running errands for Lucie as she gets ready for Vacation Bible School next week. Did some computer work for her too which should make things easier. I had a great night at hoops this week - I was in the right place for rebounds, hit some shots (finally!) and we won more games than we lost. The weather has been pretty good too so I have gotten in some good pool time.

Having some friends over tomorrow for a low budget cook out, then going to the fireworks over the line in Maryland. I swear that town spends half of its annual budget on fireworks! It is always a good time.