Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's a Mother to do?

Clip art courtesy of http://kentmemoriallibrary.org

It's been one month since Bethany started her freshman year at the charter school. There are daily tears, stories of boys behaving badly and immodest girls.

Last night, however, was particularly difficult: it appears that her project partner neglected to email Bethany her portion of a major project that is due today. My daughter, then, spent all day yesterday trying to finish said project on her own, unable to fully enjoy and take advantage of a rare "teacher work day". Then the printer decides to act up and thus began the waterworks.

I keep telling her it will get better, but now I'm beginning to wonder and to second guess myself.

What's a mother to do?
(for those with teenage daughters, who have "been there/done that",
any and all advice would be greatly appreciated)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Beautiful Blog?

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.


Hands 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

Grandma Exline's Peanut Butter Pie

I received this recipe from a childhood friend a few weeks back. I don't fancy myself a baker and this is a "no bake" pie recipe that turned out really tasty. It was a hit with Mr. Sister and the little sisters so it is definitely a keeper. With her permission, I would like to share this recipe with you.


2/3 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter (I added chopped peanuts to my natural peanut butter)

9 in graham crust (I used a 10 inch deep dish crust)

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

3 egg yolks, beaten

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whipped cream

1 tablespoon sugar (omit if using ready made whipped cream)

1/2 - 1 cup chopped peanuts


Combine powdered sugar and peanut butter. Mix until "mealy". (I added a tbsp. granulated sugar to this mix). Sprinkle mixture into bottom of pie crust.

Mix 1/3 cup sugar with the flour and add a dash of salt (about 1/8 tsp). Next pour milk into a pot and stir in the sugar/flour mixture. Stirring constantly, heat over medium to medium high heat until thick.

Stir in a small amount of hot liquid into your beaten eggs to temper them, then add the eggs to your milk mixture. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes longer.

Remove milk mix from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla. Allow to cool.

When this custard mix has cooled, pour into your pie crust on top of the peanut butter/sugar layer.

Whip cream and add 1 tablespoon of sugar (I used ready made) and spread over custard layer.

Top with chopped peanuts and serve to your family's delight!

Next time I think I might try a chocolate cookie crust and drizzle a chocolate ganache over the top.
(Many thanks to Grandma Exline for passing along this recipe to her grandchildren)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spice Girl

How do you store your spices?

Kelly, over at The Scotdog's, posed this question the other day. She's trying to organize her spices to make them easy and convenient to use. Currently, she is trying out the "spice drawer" method. I hope this works out for her. I, however, cannot utilize the drawer method myself. I do not have a drawer big enough to hold all of the spices I use in my cooking.

So how do I store my spices? Well, it's quite simple, really.

I have a Lazy Susan on my kitchen counter, next to the stove. Here is where I keep my salt and pepper grinders, olive oil, kosher salt, signature spice blend, sugar, and a cookie jar filled with Splenda for Mr. Sister's morning coffee. These are the items we use every single day with or in almost every single meal.

In the cabinet above, I have a shelf dedicated to my bulk spices and to my other spices not used several times daily. The bulk spices are those that I use to make my signature spice blend and those that I use on a consistant basis. At last count, I had 12 of these "big boys". Next to those I store the smaller containers of herbs and spices on another Lazy Susan for easy access.

(please ignore the crumbs under and the stains on the Lazy Susan)

Is this the best system? Maybe, maybe not, but it works for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

11 Years Ago

11 years + 1 week ago
We had just finished closing on our new home and was in the process of moving. I was about 34-35 weeks pregnant and had a 3 year old at the time. The movers were real pieces of work. I remember the lead guy trying to convince me that he should leave all the boxes downstairs. His reasoning was that it was too stressful to wake up to unpacked boxes in the bedroom. Say what? I think his reasoning was to simply get out of doing his work. I calmly pointed to my large belly and coolly stated, "The boxes go upstairs."
11 years + 1 day ago
I'm in a major panic! That nursery has to be done! The crib must be put together! The kitchen has to be unpacked. And I just had to have my suitcase packed and ready to go to the hospital even though the baby wasn't due for another month. I called my cousin Gail, in tears! I couldn't see how I was going to be able to do this by myself. She so sweetly volunteered her husband and herself to come over that evening to help Mr. Sister and me. What a relief! Everything on my to-do list was getting done! I could breathe a little easier.
11 years ago
This was the 1st morning, since the move, that I had allowed myself to sleep in and it felt great! I got up and made breakfast. My daughter and I were having the best conversation at the kitchen table. I got up to clear the dishes and felt a sudden warm gush of fluid spreading down my legs! No! It can't be! It's too early! My water had just broke.
I matter of factly told Bethany that the baby was coming today. A look of sheer joy spread across her face as she danced around the kitchen table singing, "The baby's coming today-ay, the baby's coming today-ay!". Meanwhile I called the doctor, called my husband who had to come home to drive me to the hospital, and called my cousin who so kindly volunteered to take Bethany for the day.
What was I forgetting? At that point, the doorbell rang. It was the workman from the builder's who came to work on our "punch list". I had forgotten he was stopping by. I started to explain to him that I had just gone into labor and... I never got to finish my sentence. I was now staring at his backside as he made a mad dash towards his truck to get away.
We arrived at the hospital at 9:00 a.m. Labor was intensifying. Oh the pain! I didn't have this much pain with Bethany. But then again, I had a wonderful epidural that made all the pain go away. I asked Nurse Knucklehead for my epidural. She gave me narcotics instead saying that my labor hasn't progressed enough for the epidural.
I was now in a painful fog. Where's my epidural? I want my epidural and I want it now! It was getting close to 4:00 in the afternoon. I demanded the epidural as I was beginning to get hysterical due to the pain! Nurse Ratchet then informed me that my doctor didn't believe in epidurals and besides, my cervix had to be ephased to at least 5 cm before an epidural can be placed. If looks could kill she'd be dead on the spot. I gathered my senses the best I could and stated very seriously, "When I interviewed OB/Gyns I made sure they were aware and agreed to my request for an epidural." And then, in an even more stern, severe and measured voice, "Besides, you... have... yet... to... check... my... cervix... since... my... admission... this... morning." That got her attention.
Nurse Clueless finally checked and, sure enough, found my cervix to be ephased to 5 cm. She told me to go ahead and empty my bladder and she'd call anesthesia. I got up, with help from Mr. Sister, since I was still so woozy from the narcotics, and went to pee. Uh oh! I immediately transitioned from 5 cm to 10 and the sudden urge to push was overwhelming. "Help!" I weakly called out to my husband. I was scared. My hero, Mr. Sister, God bless him, ran into the hall shouting for Nurse Moron, the doctor, anyone! The baby was trying to be born on the toilet! Nurse Know-it-All came in and helped get me back into bed to prep for the pending delivery. She smugly stated that it was too late for the epidural now! At that minute Dr. Saving Grace, the anesthesiologist (who I knew very well as I worked with him at the hospital) got the epidural in in record time! Moments later, Munchie Boy was born.
Because of the narcotics I had received and due to his prematurity and small size poor Munch spent his 1st week of life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with the 1st 24 hours on a ventilator.
But all that is in the past and we can laugh about it now, for fortunately the Munch Miester is doing quite well. And guess what! Today is Munchie Boy's 11th birthday! Happy birthday to my little blessing.

Photo from our celebratory birthday dinner: Never mess with a boy and his "Shirley Temple".

Monday, September 21, 2009

Out of Control!

Let's see,

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

Power of Prayer


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!

Prayers Requested

This is Larry. I've known him almost all of my life.
He is married to 2nd sister and they have 2 adult sons.
Larry is having surgery today for lung cancer.
They found a large tumor in his right lung.
Any and all prayers for a successful surgery
and a full, complete recovery would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you and may God bless you all abundantly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Printer's Drawer

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:

A gift from 2nd sister, the pin earned upon my graduation with a Bachelor's of Science from the University of Kansas, and an old scarf pin belonging to my Nana,
crafted in Italy back in the 1940's.

How about the pin I was wearing when I met the future Mr. Sister,
and the ski pin he "pinned" me with the night we became engaged?
Oh, the memories!

The drawer also hold miscellaneous items such as the leftover Euros from Bethany's trip to Italy, a piece of driftwood my son found on a beach trip to Charleston when he was 2 and a bit of a sand dollar that my daughter was pleased to find on a trip to Bald Head Island when she was 3.

I also possess several buttons that have found their way into my little treasure trove.

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.
My mementos also include several clay creations from my children

and even a cute penguin from 4th Sister.
I am pleased to announce another new treasure to add
to my simple but eclectic collection.

See this cute little pendant?
It is a chocolate chip cookie on a Scrabble tile (the letter is "L").
Notice the sweet scroll work on the background? You have no idea how much I cherish this new addition. You see, this pendant is a gift that was made by and sent to me as a thank you gift
from a very dear bloggy friend, Mama Keith over at The Domestic Mama.
What a wonderful surprise!

Thank you Mama Keith! It goes very well in the printer's drawer.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Highlights of My Trip Part 3: The Finale

A heavy dose of fatigue has hit me today. Instead of a wordy blog about the final days of my trip I will leave you with a photo diary instead.

Salina High School Central
Mascot: Mustang
School Colors: Maroon and White

I was, indeed, a mighty "Marching Mustang"
Instrument: Clarinet
Position: 1st Chair

This mustang sculpture is much bigger
in my memory than in actuality

Remember this girl?
She's the one next to me in my yearbook photo

In this photo...the infamous belt!
With one of my very best friends from childhood!

A group photo
I have some really cute great grand nieces and nephews!
The little tyke on the right was born extremely premature and is a living miracle.

My sisters and I with Mom

and with Dad.
Hmmm, in the sunlight, maybe my hair IS a tad too red?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Working for a Living

Unfortunately, you all will have to wait a day or two for the next installment of "Highlights of My Trip." My weekend to work approached fast and caught me offguard. That, in addition to trying to catch up with laundry and son's schooling, has necessitated this delay. Bare with me!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Highlights of My Trip: Part 2

Some Things Never Change

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

Highlights of My Trip: Part 1

Last Tuesday my son and I headed to Kansas. My 30th high school reunion was to take place in Salina in addition to 3rd Sister hosting a wedding celebration for her daughter (who married in Poland this past summer) in Leawood (suburb of KC). My son and I were able to make it as far as St. Louis the 1st day of our road trip. Mr. Sister wielded his Priceline negotiation skills and secured, for us, an amazing room at they Hyatt Regency, Riverside. These were actual views from our room:

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

Do You Miss Me?

After a week without access to the internet I am finally able to log on at the Holiday Inn Express in Nashville! There is so much catching up to do! I need to tell you all about my 30th high school reunion, my visit with my very artistic sisters, the wedding celebration of my dear, sweet niece and the crisis currently facing our family.

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

When it rains, it pours!

Thanks for coming back! This is Mr. Sister again continuing on with my Media Center journey. Below is a diagram of what our media center will look like:

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

Media Center? We don't need no stinking media center!

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!”


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