a late birthday update

Where has the time gone? It's almost the last day in November, and I am trying to remember this blur that has been the past week. The birthday was a lot of fun. This was the first time in my professional work history that I actually went into work on my birthday. I normally reserve a vacation day for that, but it was so close to thanksgiving, which I had already taken a few days of vacation for, that I opted to go in. Jen baked a double batch of her famous chocolate-espresso cookies for me to share at the office, although there might have been a few missing when I finally made into work. Jen met up with me at my office after work ended so we could grab a bite at the Claddagh with Dave and Jens father and brother, then a viewing of the latest Harry Potter flick. In addition to the practice chanter, Jen also got me the latest Star Trek ornament and the Queen: A Night at the Opera CD (I listed to that to and from work on Tuesday and found myself singling along to all the songs without missing a beat). It was a grand day indeed.

november 22 comes early this year

Jen was bursting with excitement to give me my birthday present when it came in the mail today. After baking me a cake and getting ice cream, we had a pre-birthday celebration. My present: a practice chanter for learning bagpipes with the first three levels of coursework (workbooks and CDs). The chanter itself is very well crafted, a good weight, and has a nice smooth finish. I read a bit of introduction and assembled the reed and lower and upper portions. As the introduction stated, my first sound emitted from it sounded like that of a sick duck. I got slight sense of apprehension from Jen, almost as if to say "was this a good idea?".

Saturday Productivity Report

Busy day so far:

1. made breakfast burritos for Jen and I
2. put trim work back up around front door (any excuse to get out the nail gun)
3. put trunk in KIA back together after a flat tire on Wednesday had me frantically tearing it apart to get to the spare (I was late for a business schmoozing dinner)
4. put the garden hose away for the winter (that is not a euphemism)
5. ran to the hardware store in town for paint and putty (fix the nails holes in the doorway trim, see 2)
6. ran to the grocery store for brats for lunch
7. helped Jen plant some bulbs for the spring
8. ran back to grocery store for eggs (was promptly hassled by the cashiers for being there twice in the same day)

Saturday Fun

What a grand day Saturday was, we had Dave over for food, fun, and games. After a little light cleaning in the morning, Dave stopped by and we wasted no time. While Jen was making the pumpkin pie for dessert later that night, Dave and I trucked on down to the nearest greenhouse to pick a few pumpkins for carving. We returned with the sacrifices for that evening and jumped right into some playstation 2 with Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. Jen had the foresight to get a wide variety of cheeses, grapes and veggies for an afternoon snack. After a bold campaign in Gauntlet, we paused for a few movies. We first watched Stigmata, which Dave had not seen before, while we carved out pumpkins (pics to follow soon, either in my journal or Jens).

Deception Point - Dan Brown

I finished reading Dan Brown's Deception Point last night. I was quickly taken into this story, more so then the Digital Fortress. The story is told in the usual fast paced 24 hour style Dan Brown is known for. I think this one is at the same level as Angels & Demons regarding suspense and misdirection. I do enjoy his presentation of technology and how he wraps up many of the latest scientific ideas into his stories. This book is no exception, I would strongly recommend it. Now I need a new book to start...

it came from the garage

I started a 2:1 gear ratio skein winder for Jen today. I recently made her an umbrella swift, a device designed to take yarn from a skein and aid in converting it into a ball or some other form easier to knit from. It only makes sense that she needs a device to take yarn from her drop spindle and convert it into a skein. In the grand scheme of things, a simple crank on a stick to drive a cross beam on the other side should be enough, but I came across a skein winder project same chap up in Canada had done. It was a cage gear mechanism (or lantern gear) which looked really slick. The downside is that he posted no measurements to his site. I suppose I could have e-mailed him to ask for his dimensions, but since I do hold an Engineering degree, and I like a challenge...out come the physics books...and I vaguely recollect me asking Jen "How do you do calculus again?"...

long weekend

I decided to take a day off last friday after putting in a significant chunk of my time to prep the new office for the move. Friday was an early morning, we wanted to get an early start so we could catch a matinee of Serenity. First stop was Panera for breakfast, their souffles are splendid. Leaving satisfied, we stopped over to The Andersons general store to order a new front entry door for our house. The one we have leaks air like a sieve and needs to be replaced before a winter settles in. We had a contractor out to the house the day before to give us a quote on installing and the price was right. I normally like to work on the house, but given the age and lack of 90 degree angle's, I think I'll leave that to someone better qualified.

Lookee here, Craig built something usefull...

So the conversation started the other day with Jen saying "it would be cool to have a swift...". To which I responded "What's a swift?". She showed me the concept and I did a little research...purchased some online plans...found some scrap wood in the garage and built an umbrella swift in a couple of saturdays.

The slats are from a plank of poplar that I ripped down on the table saw to 1/4 in x 16 in. The bearings are from a plank of oak that I used an oversized hole saw to get the circular shape. The base is from a 2x4 and some MDF. Thanks to Jen for some helpful suggestions while I was cutting down all of the stock and assembling the swift.

Move Update

The impending office relocation project has been pretty well consuming almost every ounce of free time I posses. The office building we purchased is a very posh facility which is relatively new, about ten years old, and in a very nice wooded industrial park with other upscale companies. While being a relatively new structure the problem is the existing premise wiring. It's all category 3. While being perfectly suitable for 10BaseT and phones, driving a 100Mb signal proves to be very difficult without substantial signal loss at long distances throughout the office. Solution: re-wire the office. A job of this magnitude (about 150 drops) would run in the upward range of $10K to $14K to have a contractor perform this task. Since we already spending a wad on the move, a few of us agreed that we could tackle this project in a reasonable amount of time using our in-house skill sets and equipment. By reasonable amount of time we budgeted two weeks working after hours. We are at the end of week two with about 80% of the project complete.

things to be happy about...my own personal friday five...

1. Meijer's had sushi in stock for my lunch today
** still wonderful even though I just got soy sauce on my polo

2. It's Sci-Fi Friday with FireFly and BSG
** yay! Adama's back

3. I get to spend the weekend with my wifey all to myself
** while I don't mind having company...alone time is good also (wink wink, nudge nudge)

4. Actually slept solid through the night
** no meteor showers last night..too cloudy, but I slept like a rock

5. It's a quiet day at work, almost every one is out today
** I can finally get caught up and maybe even duck out early

Digital Camera

On the advice of a friend, I check ed out www.dpreview.com, a great site for digital camera feature comparison. I am in the market for a new digital camera to replace our aging Kodak, which has provided years of reliable usage, but it's showing it age. I think I am in love with the Canon Powershot S1 IS. It's in my price range and has many features you might find in a more costly SLR.

I just have to convince myself and Jen that it's a good idea...

Weekend Thoughts


Long overdue lawn care: on the plus side, the lawn is no longer brown...
Firefly: even better the second time around, the extended trailer for the upcoming movie was fun as well...
Battlestar Galactica: I wished they would have followed up on the Caprica story line, but dang, that show is amazing...


Breakfast: ham, egg, chives, and cheese omelettes...
Silver Leaf Ren Faire: always a fun time, nice to surprise Dave, met some interesting LJ people (can't remember who)...
Elizabeths Party: fun to sit and chat with some really nice people, although after almost 5 hours of driving I was a bit tired and slightly slow on the ball...

I'm such a BSG fanboy...

While watching BSG friday night (another stellar episode), there was a commercial for the U.K. release of Season One on DVD at Best Buy this Tuesday. I was very excited about this, but after a bit if research I found out the U.S. version of Season One will be available September 20th. The U.S. version has added commentary tracks, deleted scenes and other extras, plus the Mini Series on an additional disk. I preordered mine from Amazon for $42 with free shipping. BSG goodness, I'm such a little fanboy...

Also of note, the Sci-Fi channel started airing Firefly at 7:00pm on Fridays, and in proper order (something Fox never got the hang of).

His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass

I don't think I ever formally reviewed The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, the second in the trilogy. That is probably because I was so eager to start The Amber Spyglass after a cliffhanger ending. This book was the most powerful of the trilogy, bringing closure to the mysteries constructed in the first two. I found the pace of the story incredible at times, even denying myself PlayStation time to finish chapters (and that's saying something). I would have to rank Philip Pullmans vision and imagination to that of Frank Herbert. The depth and complexity of the characters made it difficult to pigeon-hole individuals with a good or evil label. This is now one of my favorite series...simply brilliant...

Return to BSG Fridays

I decided to bite the bullet and switch from Adelphia cable service to Dish Network. The high rates for basic cable service from Adelphia and the offerings from Dish made it an easy decision. I took half a day on Friday to meet the installer at home which had to be one of the most miserably humid days so far this year. Installation went smooth, although our setup is a bit unconventional, it works. And just in time too, last night was the long awaited return of season 2 of Battlestar Galactica to the Sci-Fi channel. Last nights episode opened up with both barrels and ended with me on the edge of my seat.