Friday, March 20, 2009

The Pieces Come Together

I have plans to hop up in the attic (only when Jen is here, lest I fall and can't get up -- she made me promise!) at some point and wire a few rooms for networking.  Brandon did this a good while back, and had plenty of advice on what to do and not do.  I think my job would be somewhat easier, as my house is just 1 storey, whereas his is two.  I ordered a ton (1000') of Cat6 cable from Monoprice (cheap!), along with a bunch of 4-up plates and jacks from Firefold.  They arrived yesterday:

There is also a 100' spool of 12 gauge speaker cable that came with part of the order.  That is another project that would happen somewhat in parallel: I am going to add a pair of outdoor speakers on the patio, driven by my Sonos ZonePlayer 100 (it has an integrated 55 watt amp).  Crawling around in the attic is going to be unpleasant enough that I'll probably try to get all of this (wiring the network cable, wiring the speakers) in one major effort.

Sonos, by the way, is awesome.  Jen got me the first generation (ZP 80, ZP 100, CR 100) bundle for Christmas.  It works like a charm, and when it didn't -- the ZP 80 hooked up to my stereo amp kept disappearing off of the network after 1-3 days -- I filed a trouble ticket on the Sonos support site.  They said online tickets would be responded to within 24 hours.  They responded to mine in probably closer to 30 minutes.  They provided detailed instructions on how to run a particular diagnostic procedure, asking for the results (a simple blinking or non-blinking of the ZP 80's light after a sequence of button presses).  They said that if the result went a particular way (non-blinking, in this case), I should call the support number to continue.  I called, and was speaking to a human after a wait time of literally 5 seconds (maybe less!).  He asked me to run another test, and upon hearing the result, asked for the serial off of the bottom of the unit.  He said the test confirmed that it was a hardware issue, and they would send me a prepaid shipping label via email.  Once my unit was received, a new unit would be shipped to me.  The trouble ticketing system sent me an update when my unit was received at their returns site, and a replacement was shipped that day or the next.  I was without the ZP 80 for probably just a week, and the unit they sent is working fine (no issues at all).

Now, I just need to get an iTouch to use as an additional controller.  The Sonos controller application for the iPhone/iTouch: slicker than the CR 100 unit itself!

AeroGarden First Use

A few posts ago, I put up a picture of the AeroGarden and all of the herbs growing like crazy in it.  As of now, it looks like this -- note the center back row:

The herb that has been radically trimmed down is the basil.  Jen harvested 2 cups of leaves off of it to make a recipe for 'sweet basil noodles'.  Here is Jen, kneading the dough.  Note the use of a step stool just to work at the kitchen island!

They are laid out to dry and harden before being used.  We let them dry last night like this:

To see if they worked at all, we boiled a few of them last night after about an hour of drying.  Not bad!  They are all sealed away in a plastic bin at the moment, waiting to be used...

Getting Dumber By The Day..

I had no idea I was already a decade past my mental peak! :(  From Open Education :

According to the research of Professor Timothy Salthouse of Virginia University, the slide towards old age intellectually begins as we reach our late 20s. Salthouse found that our mental powers actually peaked at age 22 and that both speed of thought and spatial visualization skills begin declining at age 27.

At least Jen is just barely on the down slope!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Elvis' Vicar

I had the pleasure of having dinner on Monday night with my old college roommate, 'the' Mike Cavino.  He is well.

Mike has also been indulging his love for another artist (Bruce Springsteen) via membership in a Springsteen tribute band: Lost In The Flood

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chocolate Doggies

Jen picked up chocolate version of Lucy & Ethel at a new chocolatier on 2nd Street, Teuscher .

I haven't been in there yet myself, but looking over their website, I am curious to finally try somewhere with the Clover .  I read a while back about Starbucks experimenting with the machine, but it seems they only have it in a handful of shops in 4 cities (Austin not among them).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Green Thumb (Hopefully)

I haven't ever grown anything edible at home until quite recently.  I almost bought Laura an AeroGarden as part of Christmas: I had seen it at Costco for $170, but including some extras (an extra seed pod pack and an extra set of bulbs) that were not included with the same model when I saw it at Bed Bath & Beyond for basically the same price.  I didn't end up buying it then.  Shortly after the holidays, though, I saw it at Costco again...for $99!  This is the AeroGarden 6 Elite .  It has been in my kitchen, stocked with the 'Gourmet Herb Seed Kit ' since probably the middle of January.  Here is it as of now:

A few days ago, Jen and I saw a TV commercial for the Topsy Turvy .  It's basically an flexible cylinder in which you can grow tomatoes (or several other things) upside down, hanging from a normal hanging flower basket hook.  It was being offered for the standard '2 for $19.99', but the As Seen On TV section of my local Walgreens had it as well (a single for $11).  I now have two tomato seedlings (a Big Boy and a Bonnie Select Hybrid) growing (hopefully) on my back porch:

I was on an infomercial rampage: I even picked up Aqua Globes !

Spring is Nearly Here...

My Bradford Pear tree is starting to flower...

During this past Saturday's Pedal Thru The Pines ride, Jen and I spotted our first bluebonnets of the season as well..

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Austin Grand Prix

I'm trying to volunteer to time in the Friday AM session of the Austin Grand Prix.  This meet is part of a series put on by USA Swimming to:

The USA Swimming Grand Prix Series serves as an opportunity for athletes to race against top-notch competition as they continue their preparation for the 2009 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis and the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome. The last two stops of the Grand Prix series are in Charlotte, N.C., and Santa Clara, Calif.

The prelims are SCY, with finals LCM.  Even though it would be nice to see 'who wins' each event in the finals, the prelims would be a lot more interesting for me to watch, given that I have so little LCM experience.  Short course yards (SCY) is the format (25 yard lengths) that is used in high school and college; long course meters (LCM, 50 meter lengths) is used for international competition and part of the year for USS club competition.  Watching people this fast swim long course is really cool, and it's crazy how fast they are going...but it's nice to be able to directly compare how crazy fast they are when they are doing SCY.  

A bunch of big names (no Phelps, though) will be there.  Several are mentioned in the press release: Torres, Piersol to Compete at Austin Grand Prix

Knowing I wasn't going to be able to make evening practice today, I went to the noon session instead.  We were in the diving well, and swimmers in town for the Grand Prix were getting some warm up in over in half of the main pool.  Towards the end of workout, I spotted Bob Bowman giving direction to Katie Hoff...

The Middle Ages Return!

From the 'it would be funny if it was an Onion story', I meant to refer to this a few weeks ago when I first saw this.  I kept procrastinating, and now find myself in sitting in Pacha with a few minutes to kill before a 6:30 happy hour.  Apparently, indulgences are making a comeback: For Catholics, A Door to Absolution is Reopened

Check out this awesome circular rationale:

“Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.”

I hadn't realized that it was actually John Paul II that brought them back (in 2000), but it is Benedict who is really opening the gate further.  I suppose this is no surprise, given Cardinal Ratzinger's rep as a conservative traditionalist, and his pre-papacy role being something akin to a 'doctrine whip '.