She scratches a letter into a wall made of stone

The boys have been on Spring Break since the middle of the week before last. Thomas had a tremendous amount of homework for his reading class that he needed to catch up on. Some of that was from the week he missed while out sick but most of it was not. He’s supposed to read for 20 minutes a night and then spend 10 minutes filling out a little form about what he read. He has to do those six times a week and was behind seven weeks for a total of 42 reading logs. Because of that, he was also a bit behind in math and social studies. Thus, Thomas has spent most of his spring break doing homework.

I picked up Halo 2 from for $10 a couple of weeks ago. Since then the boys and I have been enjoying it tremendously. After Graham finished it, he asked me for my Halo 1 disc for Mac which he finished a few days later. Nothing brings a family together quite like killing aliens.

As a reward for finishing all his homework, we took Thomas to Best Buy last night and bought Halo 3 for him. Tonight he’s celebrating with his friends Ziad and Gabe by playing Rock Band and Halo 3 on our Xbox. They are quite raucous but they will hopefully quiet down as the night progresses.

Netflix again

Back in 2003, we dropped cable TV in order to save money when I was unemployed. When my employment became stable again, I decided against monopolistic and customer-unfriendly Comcast and signed up with DirecTV. Part of the package included a dual-tuner Tivo with which I immediately fell in love. It didn’t take long before I had used up the 50 hours of available space and started to feel the pressure to watch my shows before they disappeared. As a result we dropped our Netflix subscription since we were watching Tivo all the time and never had time for DVDs.

2009 has brought the advent of the HD age to our household and things are changing in our content consumption. Before I purchased our new LCD TV at Costco, I promised myself that I would not spend a bunch of money after to make all our content HD. In fact, the main reason we got the TV was because of the Xbox. The impending HD switch-over was a consideration but not a big one because DirecTV provides our television content and they will continue to provide the same service for some time.

Continue reading “Netflix again”

All I Got For Christmas

All I Got For Christmas
Originally uploaded by rynosoft
  • Rock Band 2
  • Home-made tree ornament
  • Airport Extreme wireless base station
  • Craig Ferguson’s book (fiction)
  • Dead Space for XBox 360
  • Dry rub
  • Christmas Around the World (CD)
  • Cash (an old favorite)

In three words – best toys and gifts for boys!

Click the photo to see the notes.

Update 12/30/08: Today I received Richard Thompson’s Across A Crowded Room and a cool Woot t-shirt. Also, I forgot to mention two pairs of loose-cuff sweatpants I got on Christmas.

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 2523
Van odometer: 154292
Weight lost (in pounds): 0
Aches & pains: n/a
Current reading: My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk, Cross-platform GUI Programming with wxWidgets
Recent listening: RadioheadTom Waits, BeckR.E.M.Willy & The Poor Boys by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Recent viewing: The Hoax, Heroes, Fringe, How I Met Your Mother, Colts at Browns
Recent playing: Chain Factor, Guitar Hero, Lego Star Wars, Galcon
Recently accomplished: Quicken Online migration, purchased Xbox 360, Christmas shopping, mouse cleanup & execution
Imperative To Do: Get rid of office junk, freecycle, activate new Tivo, clean garage, get rid of MacRenewal Macs, trim bushes, pull blackberries

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 2510
Van odometer: 154024
Weight lost (in pounds): 2
Aches & pains: numbness in left leg at times, dry left eye in the morning
Current reading: My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk, Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
Recent listening: All Hope Is Gone by Slipknot, Quadrophenia, Pink Floyd
Recent viewing: Superbad, No Country For Old Men, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show
Recent playing: Chain Factor, Spaceward Ho!, foosball (at Yahoo!)
Recently accomplished: Prepped “new” computers for Thomas & Graham, installed Tina’s bike computer, Craigslist ad for Thomas/Graham, freecycle, Goodwill runs, booked trip to Iowa, book trip to Foster City, returned cans, office organization, returned Xbox
Imperative To Do: Cancel gym membership, get rid of office junk, freecycle, activate new Tivo, oil change for van, clean garage, office organization, get rid of MacRenewal Macs

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 2423
Van odometer: 152328
Weight lost (in pounds): 4
Aches & pains: left achilles tendon, sciatic
Current reading: The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman, My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk, CSS: The Definitive Guide (O’Reilly) by Eric A. Meyer
Recent listening: This American Life, Chrome Dreams II by Neil Young
Recent viewing: Medium, NBA Playoffs, The Colbert Report, Mary Poppins, The Simpsons, Doctor Who
Recent playing: Virus 2, Multitasking
Recently accomplished: Sent Xbox in for repairs, cleaned cat boxes, haircut, best Mother’s Day ever, mowed lawn
Imperative To Do: Sell G4, get rid of junk (couch, vacuum cleaner, mower), buy trailer for van, activate new Tivo, oil change for van, GPS rebate

I’m using up my time by feeling fine, every day

I think I failed to mention that Tina bought an Xbox 360 for me a few weeks ago from a good friend of ours who had recently upgraded to a better model. This particular unit had already suffered the Red Ring of Death but had been repaired by Microsoft for free right before we took ownership. Our main motivation to getting an Xbox is to have a console on which we can play Rock Band, a game that takes the concept of Guitar Hero one step further. Although it will be coming out for the Wii in a couple of months, it will not support downloading new songs which is one of the great Rock Band features. I’m also planning on buying Guitar Hero II for it because it has some great songs on it and we’ll need the extra guitar for Rock Band.

Unfortunately, after using it for just a couple of days, the boys turned it on and it had the Red Ring of Death again. We tried to have it serviced by Microsoft ourselves, but the serial number is already registered to our friend so he had to apply for the repair. The good news is that he has already received the box for shipping and all we have to do is pick it up sometime.

We have been trying for several years to get Graham to embrace the idea of bike riding, but every time he crashes, he swears it off forever. The last time he tried it, he swerved off the sidewalk and knocked over our mailbox. I don’t think he would hurt himself during these falls as much as he would be frustrated that he wasn’t very good at it. We’ve been trying to “sell” him on the idea for a long time but it really became a sore point with him. Finally, last night Tina convinced him to try again and he finally “got it.” He fell down numerous times, usually when he was turning, but each time he got up and went again. When it started to get dark and was near his bedtime, we practically had to drag him into the house. The first thing he asked me this morning was whether he could ride some more tonight. I think he only needs a little practice before we switch him from the little 20″ BMX he’s riding now to Thomas’ 24″ mountain bike. Thomas has taken possession of Tina’s old 26″ mountain bike and we need to find a new bike for Tina soon.

Graham’s “conversion” came none too soon because we have several bike rides planned with Thomas’ Boy Scout troop this year. Next weekend we’re taking a short 10 mile ride in the Gorge and then a few weeks later we’ll be riding 14 miles out to Oxbow Park. This summer we’re going on a 4-day, 80 mile bike ride in Idaho. We’ll really looking forward to all of them. I need to get back in bike shape!

Vital Statistics

Van odometer: 151601
Weight lost (in pounds): 10
Aches & pains: sciatic, right ankle
Current reading: The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman, My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Recent listening: Clutch, This American Life
Recent viewing: The Quiet, The Office, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Democratic Presidential Debate, America’s Funniest Home Videos
Recent playing: n/a
Recently accomplished: Joined Bally’s gym, finished 401k rollover, replaced heating element in clothes dryer, tagged old blog posts, prescription refill, coordinated Xbox repair
Imperative To Do: Sell G4, get rid of junk (couch, vacuum cleaner, mower), buy trailer for van, activate new Tivo, weed & feed, change voter registration, develop comprehensive reward/punishment plan for homework, bike to work

Vital Statistics

Van odometer: 151601
Weight lost (in pounds): 6
Aches & pains: sciatic, right ankle
Current reading: The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman
Recent listening: News from Lake Wobegon, Go Tell It On The Mountain by The Blind Boys of Alabama, Fruitcakes by Jimmy Buffett
Recent viewing: Suns at Spurs, The Simpsons, Medium, Torchwood
Recent playing: Xbox 360, Guitar Hero III
Recently accomplished: Cleaning up missing stuff, tagged existing blog entries, installed statistics plugin for WordPress, modified blog sidebar, entertained the Camps, cleaned cat box, reorganized entertainment center
Imperative To Do: Join gym, post office (Kent, Sue, Lala), phone calls, test bike commute, finish 401k rollover, sell G4, get rid of junk (couch, vacuum cleaner, mower), buy trailer for van, clean van, activate new Tivo, pay bills