Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
What a wonderful surprise! Lissaloo, over at One Step at a Time, awarded me with this honor for being a beautiful blog in the category of "informative". She put me right up there with Luis Bueno over at The Muddy Runner. Now THAT'S quite an honor.
In accepting this award I have been asked to nominate 5 other blogs in the following categories:
B for Beautiful
I for Informative
N for Neighborly
G for Gorgeous
O for Outstanding
Boy, this is a toughie. I so enjoy all of the blogs I regularly subscribe to. If I could give this award out to each and every one of you I would. Instead, I have decided to nominate those blogs and/or websites that you may not be aware of but that are intriguing and meaningful to me.
BeautifulHands down, Jimmy over at The Catholic Daily Reading Reflections deserves this nomination. Jimmy is a convert to Catholicism, just like me. I love his take on the daily liturgical readings of the Roman Catholic Mass. It never seems to fail that the Bible is speaking directly to me, telling me what I need to hear or to learn at that particular moment. Reading Jimmy's blog is an intregal part of my morning ritual and I strive to incorporate these reflections into my own personal prayer life. I can't think of a more beautiful start to the day!
Barack Obama's Teleprompter deserves this nod! A very clever, tongue in cheek, look at the behind the scenes shenanigans of the current White House administration. Always worth a peek! Always a chuckle.
Monda, over at No Telling, makes for a good read. I adore the way she writes and her artistic way in which she expresses her view of the world in which we live, or rather, her view of the world in which she lives. I can picture inviting her over for a steamy cup of coffee out on the back deck. Her stories are quite entertaining and I would not mind, in the least, having her as my neighbor.
My dear cyber friend Michelle, of The Domestic Mama, very much deserves this nomination. Her photography skills are top notch and her food photos leave me drooling every single time I visit her website. I do believe she has the makings of a top notch blogger and I look forward to the time when fame and fortune catch up to her. Then I could gloat and say, "I knew her when....", living vicariously off the glory of her coattails.
Michael O'Brien at StudiObrien wins this nomination, hands down. This is technically a website rather than a blog but I'm nominating him anyway. His paintings and his writings (books and essays) are all for the greater glory of our dear Lord. Because he speaks Truth, he has been viciously attacked and his site has been the target of cyber-terrorism. Despite all of this, he has the courage of his convictions and the perserverence to continue on with his life mission. I pray and ask God to continue to bless him and to keep his and his family safe in the face of these trying times in which we live.Again, thank you Lissaloo!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Photo from our celebratory birthday dinner: Never mess with a boy and his "Shirley Temple".
Monday, September 21, 2009
Wii game remotes? Check
DVR and VCR remotes? Check
TV remotes? Check
"Sage" remotes (Mr. Sister's media center)? Check
Roku remote (downloadable TV and movies)? Check
Ceiling fan remotes? Check
Anything missing? Yes...wireless speaker remotes, stereo remotes, camcorder remote, lantern remote, etc... This was just a sample of what I could gather (without digging into drawers or cabinets) to give you all an idea of how remote control crazy we are at the Sister house. Fortunately, we've gone down in the number of remotes in use due to our recent switch from satellite to cable TV.
Out of Control(s)? Never! Not us!
Friday, September 18, 2009
They were able to go ahead with the surgery. The lymph nodes were benign. The surgeon had to remove both the right upper and right middle lung because the tumor was so large (6 cm). They say that the tumor had been growing for about 4 years. Thank God he came down with pneumonia last month, otherwise who knows how long he would have been undiagnosed. Other good news is that there were no signs that the cancer has spread. He will, however, have to undergo 3 rounds of chemotherapy because of the large size of the tumor, just to be on the safe side. The doctors say that he should be able to get back to playing golf and tennis in about 2 months. This truly is the best case scenario and an amazing tribute to the power of prayer. Thanks be to God!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I possess an old, antique printer's drawer. It hangs in my kitchen. It contains many treasures that I have collected through the years.
For example, my assortment of pins:
Such as the button commemorating the 1st college I attended (which is no longer in existence) and the buttons my children made for me at a festival they attended when they were very, very young.
Thank you Mama Keith! It goes very well in the printer's drawer.
Monday, September 14, 2009
In this photo...the infamous belt!
The little tyke on the right was born extremely premature and is a living miracle.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Conversations with my father.
Dad: "What the heck did you do to your hair?"
Me: "It's 'chocolate cherry'. Do you like?"
Dad: "It's pretty dark, don't you think?"
Me: "I thought you were color blind?"
Dad: "I'm not THAT color blind!"
Dad: "What's that thing?"
Me: "It's my belt."
Dad: "Well, a belt is suppose to serve a purpose...like hold up your pants!"
Me: "The purpose of this belt is as a decorative accessory."
Dad: "That makes no sense."
Me: "Enough Dad. I'm 48, not 8!"
I'm the youngest and maybe it's hard for my father to realize that I'm "grown up" now. Maybe I , too easily, revert to my role as the "baby daughter". Maybe he's envisioning his own immortality. After all, he is in his upper 80's and, besides, I was home to attend my 3oth high school reunion. That would make any parent feel old. I guess I'll cut him some slack!
Some People Never Grow Up
Friday night was an informal gathering at a local pub, a sort of "meet and greet" if you will. I was pretty nervous about attending. Would anyone remember me? Would I recognize anyone? I invited 4th Sister to come along for moral support.
When we arrived I was relieved to see so many familiar faces from the past! The women hadn't changed a bit. Yes, we were all a bit heavier, maybe had a few wrinkles here and there, but for the most part they all looked the same. The men, on the other hand were a bit more difficult to recognize. I guess receding hairlines and facial hair will do that to a guy. Thank goodness for name tags.
All in all everyone was having a great time. But, of course, something had to happen that harkened back to the days of old. Our class bombshell made her grand entrance into the bar. When she saw me she immediately shouted: "Hey there, Rolly P****!" You see, in high school I had the unfortunate circumstance that when my initials were switched my last name changed into what the part of the male anatomy that makes a man a man is called. Once the initial shock wore off, I looked at her, tilted my head to the side and simply stated, "You know, I haven't had that last name in almost 2o years. I think I've earned the right to move beyond." Oh well. I guess there's always one in the crowd.
By the way, 4th Sister had a wonderful time. She's an artist and made connections with another artist, from my graduating class, to hold an exhibit in his studio. Life is good.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Unfortunately, everything was "ala carte"...no free breakfast, no free wi-fi, no free parking. The room, however, was very beautiful and quite comfortable.
Wednesday brought us all the way into Salina where we stayed at the country home of 1st Sister and her husband. What gracious hosts they were! 1st Sister made sure food was plentiful and Uncle Sister took Munchie Boy fishing (twice) and to a rodeo during our stay. He even purchased a genuine cowboy hat for Munch and let the Munchmeister buy a regulation hunting knife. Wow! What 10 year old wouldn't love that! My son idolizes Uncle Sister and wants to move to Kansas to be closer to him. He's already talking about our next trip out. I was very grateful for the opportunity to visit with 1st Sister (who has always been like a 2nd mother to me) and with 4th Sister, who drove up from Tulsa to join us for the weekend.
Thursday afternoon I met up with a couple of old friends: Leslie, who I happened to meet in the 3rd grade. She was always funny, smart and never wanted for friends. I transferred to her grammar school the year they tore down my old school. She made me feel welcome and I will always be forever grateful for that. I met my other pal, Dena, in Jr. high. We participated in "work study" programs: I worked in the library and she in the office. We ate lunch together everyday. Oh, how we had a crush on the cute boy who worked the cafeteria. In an effort to get his attention, we would spill our milk so he would have to come over and clean it up. Dena and this boy eventually started dating and have been married for almost 30 years! They have 2 handsome sons. Isn't that a neat story? Here we are having lunch at the "Stuga", a wonderful deli/bar in Lindsborg, KS, where we were able to catch up on old times and new adventures:
Coming tomorrow: Why Do Some Never Grow Up? or Stereotypes are Hard to Break!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Please be patient with me. Upon my return home I will need to attack that ever growing laundry monster and get my son back on schedule with his schooling. However, blog posts will be forthcoming.
I hope you all had a great time with Mr. Sister's musings on his experiences with establishing the Sister House media center. I know my eyes glazed over a time or two but I have never professed to be technologically inclined.
Gosh...I've missed you all!
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Well, as you recall from yesterday’s blog, our hero (Mr. Sister) has just become the self-proclaimed greatest Husband and Father ever! Things were looking up and I haven’t even set up the program (and remember, I’ve not confirmed that the Ebay capture card works). What could go wrong?? I’ve bested the video capture problem, I slayed the dreaded hard drive problem! I’m on cloud 9!
So, triumphantly, I download the documentation (a 287 page guide on how to set up and configure SageTV) and start setting up the program. Change the firewall settings on my server and my router, check. Establish SageTV as a service, check. Now, the steps start to get more complex. On the service setup screen, it asked for the user name and password for the account with Administrative privileges. Well, my default signon HAS administrative privileges – use that! Enter password – I did not set up a password for my default signon! Password NOT ENTERED! Please re-enter your password! WHAT? I don’t HAVE a password… Password NOT ENTERED! Please re-enter your password! Oh, now, this is GREAT! I have to set up an Administrative account with a Password, just to install this service?!?! Some programmer is probably snickering in the background (more likely, this was a test script error!). The setup continues, “Do you want to set up Placeshifter?” What? Ok, Use UPnP? Ok, I know what UPnP is, but some of the Weekend Warrior hacks may not (stands for Universal Plug and Play – on the router, not through Windows which also has UPnP)! Where is your decoder? WHAT??? Now, even I don’t know what is a decoder (The manual describes it as follows:
MPEG2 Video Decoder Filter
A pop-up menu lists all the available video decoders, which are used to decode the MPEG2-
formatted video data. The list of decoders depends on the MPEG-2 decoders that are installed on
your PC related to your video card, DVD player and TV tuner/Capture card. Select the video
decoder that you would like SageTV to use for MPEG-2 video playback.
Note: If you are using the Sigma Designs Xcard as your video decoder, select it from the list and
set the Video Renderer to default. Also confirm that the Audio Renderer and MPEG2 Audio
Decoder Filter are set to default as well.
) Ok, I have multiple decoders installed! Which one is the best? I’ll pass on this, maybe it will default correctly. I ended up passing on a lot of selections because they just didn’t make sense.
Next was configuring the source. Each TV receiver had to be configured separately. Matching the source up with the cable channels from the provider, but guess what? They didn’t have a configuration for our area! So, I filled out a support request which went unanswered. I posted the question to the forum, which also went unanswered. So, I configured them manually.
Okay, remember that board I purchased from Ebay? Out of two standard input, I could only get 1 configured (down to two TV cable inputs).
Now comes the moment of truth! My end-game is now within reach! It is time to start the program for the first time! And… Stay tuned for tomorrow’s episode entitled:
Do you find “Java Heaps” in Star Bucks?
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Ok, so I have everything and ready to set this puppy up! Install capture card. Uh, it doesn’t fit!!! Looking again at the directions in the box, in small mouse print, it says this is a PCI-e card, not compatible with PCI slots. This is BAD! I’ve made this commitment but I can’t even capture the TV input! Well, not being too discouraged, I signed on to the very active SageTV forum. Posted the question and got a suggestion to get an Avery card from Ebay (it uses the PCI slot and records 2 shows at a time – but doesn’t do HD). Oh well, I picked up the only 1 available on Ebay for a few bucks (with massive shipping charges!). And, I bought another PCI card that captures only 1 TV program at a time (bringing me down to 3 shows at a time). Well, I am pretty much at parity with what I have today, but ALL TVs can access the same stored shows so that was a plus! So, my Ebay purchase arrived in the mail and I see this big note on the capture card that states, this was taken from a working machine. There are no guarantees that it will work. What??? I paid that money to have a shot at something not working? I could have kept the other cards and be GUARANTEED they would not work! Oh well, let’s install to see if everything functions. I download the latest drivers and install the card, but without a program to use the card, I don’t know if it actually works.
Not happy with my downgrade, but trudging ahead, I run into my next obstacle (boy this steeple chase is getting rough). My hard drive was only 30 gigs. I need at least 500 gigs to be able to store SOME of the many shows the son, formerly known as Munchie Boy (from now on he wants to be called Awesome Dude! No ego problem there!) will be recording. So, I get on to my favorite online store and order a 1 TB hard drive (that is 1 terabyte! 1,000 gigabytes!). After installing the drive (I won’t even get into the changes in hard drive standards from IDE to SATA! Luckily, my server accepted both drives – but at the old speed of 1.5 gps as opposed to 3.0 gps) and everything is running, I’m feeling much better!
So, days are progressing. I’m telling my family what this thing can do (according to the manual and some forum postings). It can watch Youtube videos, It can watch and navigate Netflix on demand, during CES, SageTV announced that they were going to access Hulu (Score!!!). At this time, I’m getting more excited about the prospects. The HTM (Happy Tech Meter) was blazing! There’s more! I can watch ripped DVDs, we can access and listen to radio. We can even access the programs and live TV on the internet! Heck the only thing it didn’t claim to do was cure cancer (which was in Beta!)! Even more, it can automatically skip commercials on regular TV! My family was happy and I’m thinking that I’m the greatest Husband and Father EVER!
Stay tuned for tomorrows episode … entitled “Cloud 9” or “I’m falling and I can’t get up!”
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Hi ho 5thsister readers! This is Mr. Sister again. While 5th is out of town partying and carousing, I have agreed to push forward to keep you entertained with a new multi-day blog post. So here goes…
I come to you today, not with joyous technological conquest, but with angst and woes that have shaken my hi-tech foundation. Yes, I admit it! Not all of my technology coups end up successful. But, I get ahead of myself.
About 6 months ago, I developed a plan on how to use technology to reduce my monthly expenses while keeping the same or better quality of life. First getting a Roku player, then a faster internet pipe into the house, and installing Ooma as our home phone (see earlier posts). I felt like I could do no wrong. Everything was working
according to plan! Only one more thing to do and my plan would be complete. I wanted to build a Personal Video Recorder (PVR), something similar to a Tivo or a DVR. This would allow me to stop throwing money at the Satellite Company and just get regular basic cable. With this PVR, we could record, playback, live TV, plus with internet connection combine some of the entertainment aspects on the net with basic extended TV. Sounds simple enough! Right? Well, if your definition of simple is one obstacle after another, then – Right!
To give you an idea of where I’m heading, I’ll use this analogy… 5th sis has said that some of you are runners, so Imagine, you have shown up for a 5k that you wanted to run and now, you are lining up at the starting line. You look over to your fellow runners to trade light-hearted banters when the person to your right asks you “how long have you been doing steeplechases?” (by the way, a steeplechase is a race with obstacle that the runner must traverse). You immediately retort “I don’t do steeplechases!” Then he replies “what are you doing here?”. Slowly, you look up to see that you are not in a 5k road race, you have signed up for a 5k steeple chase and then the horn sounds and everyone lurches ahead. You think to yourself, “what did I get myself into?”. Well, that’s how I feel.
So, back to the story of my PVR… doing my due-diligence, I found that there are a number of possible PVR solutions (MythTV, BeyondTV, SageTV, and the list goes on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Video_Recorder). Well, after reading many blogs and signing on to a lot of forums, I found that most people were moving over to SageTV. It had a very high WAF! (WAF is a term I learned in the blogs, it stands for Wife Acceptance Factor). So, I investigated exactly what I need to get one of these PVRs up and running. So, my checklist was:
· Windows XP Server – (easy, I can build/salvage/buy one for under $100 – they mention that you don’t need too much power 1.5 Ghz processor, 128M of RAM memory – 256M recommended )
· TV capture card (I saw that I could purchase a card that can record and watch two shows at a time! I’ll get 2 of them)
· SageTV Software ($79, pricey, but it had a high WAF!)
· Extender box for each TV, (that was the real expense - $179 per set. Now it is starting to seem like a hobby instead of an easy cheap set up).
· Some way to hook up the extenders to our LAN (I was able to use SageTV’s beta software and connect it via a couple of USB 11N dongles (see my MagicJack blog entry to find out how many laughs were generated by using the term dongle!)
Stay tuned for tomorrows episode (think of Rocky and Bullwinkle) …
“Singing in the Rain” or “When it rains, it pours!”