Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I remember wowing my friends with my home theater design in my home in Wisconsin. In my master bedroom on the 2nd floor, I could turn on my 42" plasma hanging on the wall with full surround wall-mounted speakers, and using the Pronto remote control I'd programmed myself, turn on the DVD jukebox in the media room down in the basement, and pipe the audio and video signals via RG6 cable on a piggy-backed signal using an RF modulator, a coax amp and splitter, back up to the A/V receiver in the master bedroom where I could scroll through the movies loaded in the jukebox, remotely load a DVD and play it all without leaving the comfort of my bed.
Of course, things have changed since then. I want to figure out how to set up a movie server where I can rip my DVD collection to terabyte hard drives and stream A/V via my wireless network to any TV in the house. Not sure exactly the best way to do it but when I have time, I'll be doing this.
I also have a bit of a dilemma with that huge entertainment center that I did a while back in the new house. It covers the thermostat on the wall controlling the central AC and heating for the first floor of the house. I'm getting a bit tired moving those huge units around to get at the thermostat (and am afraid to put my wine glasses on the wracks because the movement will surely break them). I want to figure out the best (and most affordable) way to get a IP accessible thermostat installed that I can then access via the wireless network and ultimately access via my iPhone. Yes, I want to use my iPhone has a home automation remote control. Doesn't that sound cool? It does to me. The options I've found so far for a thermostat solution are over $400 so I'm going to keep looking. But rest assured...this will happen (I want to put my wine glasses in that entertainment center!!).
Monday, December 29, 2008
"Like I Am"
Like the settling of an old house
My soul creaks under the weight of its burden
Like the life of a river stone
I have weathered into beauty
Like the tree that drops its leaves for winter
I need no buffer from the cold
Like the delicate tulip bulb survives frozen earth
I am stronger than I might appear
Like the brook babbles anew in the spring thaw
My heart gives way to new beginnings
Like the eagle afloat on thermal winds
My spirit soars in the warmth of love
Like the yin and yang
I am the saved and the sinner
Like the parched branch thirsts for the monsoon
I crave that which delivers relief and pain
Like the orchid dependent on fragile conditions
My sustenance is not guaranteed
Like the heart can break and yet still beat…still love
written by Tracy Talbot, 2003
I am saddened that it cannot be
Holding yourself back
Such an empty success in that control
If love could be yours for the taking
If you allowed yourself
Eruption of satisfaction without reigns
Scary thought for one like you
Never one to lose control
Or look to fill your own cup
I would pour myself on to you
Filling that cup a lifetime over
Without effort or want
If only you accept it freely
Alas, freedom is not ours
To be who we would be
To love as we would love
To experience such an embrace
So instead we stand,
My searching look lands on your avoiding glance
And sees the beauty that will not be, but is.
written by Tracy Talbot, 2002
So different than it's ever been
Strength replaced with softness
Certainty with searching
Bravado with sensitivity
What it is you thought you knew
No longer answers questions on your mind
Crisp lines are now shadows
As the fog sets in, you strain for vision
To see it clearly as a whole
Your conclusions are foreign
The emphasis a new hue
But for the first time you feel you've got it right
The simplicity appears deceptive
But you trust it more than life itself
It cannot lie to you like others have
And so you slowly loose your grip
Slipping comfortably without regret
Knowing now what was elusive a lifetime
Will carry you lovingly through eternity
written by Tracy Talbot, 2004
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I see it here before me
And I wonder why it's not enough
What have I become to think
That I deserve any more?
I've lost a part of me you see
Once found but now abandoned
It's stranded out there without
A way back home.
I sit and meditate in written word
Trying to find it and bring it
Safe harbor from the storms
Yet it chooses to stand out in the rain
To weather the storm and feel
its harsh reality so as to
fully grasp that which it
is no longer a part of
Find your way back home sweet child
And take your place among friends.
Friday, December 26, 2008
So I popped the lasagna in the already hot oven, and we did pay-per-view and watched Kung Fu Panda. With Jason being a professional CG (computer graphics) artist, I am happy that we see most of the animated movies targeted for kids because I just love them. I am pretty sure that I've watched some animated movies more than most because of my son, Nick. He wanted a video playing at all times, so I can recite the words to plenty of animated movies including: The Incredibles, Monsters Inc., Ice Age, Cars, Lilo and Stitch, Shrek, Toy Story, Treasure Planet, and Finding Nemo to name just a few. Pixar and Dreamworks do simply amazing work and I look forward to each new movie either release.
Kung Fu Panda was simply adorable. I absolutely loved this film. The story was cute. The art style was appealing. The characters were beautifully well done. The humor was clever and spot on. Jason fell asleep partway through but when I told him this movie was one I could watch again and again, Jason decided to start where he left off and watch the rest of it and he wasn't disappointed. I immediately recognized Commander Vachir as the voice of Michael Clarke Duncan but I had no idea until afterward what a star-studded cast this film featured. Wow! Dustin Hoffman, Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and a few actors that had to be looked up on IMDB. I hope you have a chance to see this film.
I learned a piece of trivia too when Jason told me that Oogway's voice was Randall Duk Kim (the keymaker in the movie The Matrix Reloaded) and that Randall was one of the founders of my favorite theatre, APT (American Players Theatre), in Spring Green, WI. Every time I visit Wisconsin I will be sure to visit this amazing outdoor theatre at least once. If you are ever find yourself in southern Wisconsin during summer/early fall, I highly recommend that you take the scenic albeit long drive out to Spring Green, with a picnic dinner, a good bottle of wine and some friends to catch one of their outdoor plays. You won't be disappointed!
I like to think of myself as being in better shape than most 40 year old female non-athletes. Perhaps it's the non-athlete part that played a factor here, but after entering my age and height, doing the weigh-in and the simple balance assessment, I was informed that my BMI (Body Mass Index) was too high (I'm overweight), and my fitness age was 49!!! Talk about a blow to the old ego! Now I wasn't too surprised by my BMI as it's always been off. Even when I was running 3 miles daily, weight training, and doing 100 sit-ups a day, my BMI said I was overweight (my fitness coach at the time seemed a bit embarrassed by this..."You carry your weight well" is all she said). I've always won a prize at the carnival stands where they guess your weight. Of course part of this may have to do with my extremely heavy head...Jason once speculated that if a man ever tried to attack me from behind that I need only swing my head back in a full headbutt and the man would surely be rendered unconscious. I believe he likened my extremely heavy (and large) head to that of a "wrecking ball"...no, I'm not making this up!!
As for as the fitness age, it appears to be related to your balance. Since I have always had poor balance because I place my center of balance too far forward into my quads and knees instead of my gluts and hips, I don't shift my weight correctly or as quickly as I should. This is probably why I cannot ice skate or do anything else on ice for that matter...except give myself a concussion...thank goodness for that thick skull of mine as it's come in handy a time or two on the ice! Plus there was a learning curve for me with this balance board and it was my very first "game" so I pretty much sucked just because of that.
So, on to the game. The Yoga was great, except that I can't touch my toes (not the most flexible person anyone has ever met), but I did okay (meaning I didn't make Jason laugh too many times while I performed the different exercises). Yes, he was sitting on the couch watching me. Great entertainment I was, apparently. The game assesses your center of balance on the board and forces you to try to maintain your balance within a small area much farther back than I'm used to. The strength training was a mixed bag, some of which I could barely perform, and others which I hit 4 stars right out of the gate (you are ranked with 1 to 4 stars...1 being labeled Couch Potato and 4 being Body Builder). The aerobics were fun, with hula hoop and step and running exercises that I found very entertaining. Then there were the balance games. These are the most like traditional games. There doesn't appear to be any "real" multi-player game option though which would be really fun with the balance games. Jason laughed quite a bit as I tried to hit the virtual soccer balls being thrown at my head and miss the soccer shoes being thrown my way...I lost points for each shoe that hit my head. Nice. Would have been cool to say well YOU get up here and try it Mr. funny man!
The longer you play, the more games/exercises you unlock. It looks like it will take about 5 hours of play to unlock everything at the current rate. It reminds you to take a break after you've been exercising for a period of time, and I took that break to sync the Wii console with my Wi-Fi. You can buy and download some of the games using this link, but the marketing for them is pretty disappointing. I did have fun creating my Mii though (a Wii representation of me!)
The game tracks your progress and keeps a calendar of your workout time and any assessments you've done. I did another assessment after my 2nd workout (on the 3rd day as I skipped a day due to soreness after playing on the darned thing for over 2 hours that first day). I am happy to report that I not only lost 2 pounds (had to be water), but I also lowered my fitness age to 36. Boohya!
After two work outs, my gluts are KILLING ME! This forcing me to use my hips and gluts is tough work, but I can already feel the benefits. The only big complaint I have about the game is that you can't string the exercises but instead have to back out and select each exercise you want to do as you go so there's always a pause between sets/reps. A smooth workout routine this is not. With the advanced step game, I wish I could speed up the tempo, change the music, make the balance board (makeshift step) taller, and lengthen/vary the step routines. I guess what I really would like to see a dedicated step game from Wii and balance board extensions to add height to the step.
I checked out the other Wii fitness games offered, and there is a highly rated fitness game that doesn't use the balance board, but nothing using the board that is worth my money. How disappointing. There is a highly rate dance game that comes with its own dance pad. Not sure what kind of work out that provides though. I'll have to stay with the Wii Fit game exclusively for now. I still have games to unlock, since I've only play it for about 3 hours. It's too bad Nintendo didn't see the full potential for this game. I could see a game like this being customizable, where you can string any number of yoga, strength and aerobic exercises together in any number of sets to different selections of music, being fully integrated with the Internet interface where you might purchase new workout add-ons, for say kick boxing, or pilates, or Tai Chi, or dance step, and where you could purchase new music options, or new additional exercises, or other new releases that could be periodically offered that are fully integrated with the Wii Fit interface so tracking of progress is done in a single spot and not different games with different game discs. Having new add-ons offered periodically with keep the game fresh and new so fitness gamers keep coming back instead of losing interest with the same old, same old.
In any event, I love this game even with its shortcomings. And I'm feeling more fit already. Who knows, maybe in a bit I'll be up on the treadmill, or better yet, out running with Abby!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It's looking like this may finally change however. We're still playing Age of Conan. Not only are we still playing, but we're still playing our original characters and tonight we hit the all time highest levels we've both ever achieved in game...47 (see Tazriel on her steed at level 47 at left). It's amazing really. In spite of the fact that AOC has some serious issues with having enough quest content to keep a single pair of players busy in the relevant zones without scratching their heads wondering where in the heck they're supposed to go NOW or if it's intended that you must group in larger groups or grind your way to the next level...yes, in spite of these tedious facts, we are loving are characters, feeling very compatible, love the art and game design, with enough balance between our classes that neither of us feels like the other is carrying us along, and we're effective while still having plenty of opportunities for challenge (aka we still die a lot). I am so excited to think that I may actually get to see end-game content and with Jason no less!!! wOOt!!.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
In each moment there is a beauty
A unique and gifted essence
So quickly it passes by
So easily missed or forgotten
If we could only slow it down
And appreciate them all
They alone could sustain us
And bring us closure for
Things left wanting
To capture that divinity
Beauty, understanding, and peace
To need no reward for the moment
But to simply take it in deeply
A satisfied thirst is born
And searching eyes rest upon
The presence of a faith in spirit
That leads us away and
Then back home
Friday, December 19, 2008
Empty hollow within me
Speak to me in your haunting tongue
Tell me of those things I lack
That would make me whole, if only
Tender heart within me
Be still and ache no more
The music's stopped yet you dance on
Without a partner or a cause
Wounded spirit, heal thyself
Make no demands on others
Find a place to stand alone
And sing to sing a sweet sweet song
Happiness don't run away
Don't hide among memories long gone
Come and join the present
Hold my hand and warm me
Silly life so frivolous
The lessons so basic they're often lost
Be my friend and lead the way
And in that, in the end, regretless
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Predominant Principle: Logos
Predominant Principle: Eros .
- Novel beliefs about God(s), the Bible, Jesus, and the world that differ from other sects
- Tolerance of different Gnostic and non-Gnostic religious beliefs
- Lack of discrimination against women (Jesus and Paul did too, but other Christian belief systems started to oppress women in later generations)
- A belief that salvation is achieved through relational and experiential knowledge. 
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
That all changed a while ago, but I didn't really think about how important that change was to my psyche until I was hanging out at WineStyles after work with friends last week. We were talking about the stress caused by our never ending To-Do lists, and came upon the idea that sometimes just capturing those To Do's when you remember them is therapeutic. By capturing the To Do, writing it down, you give your conscious mind permission to let it go, to stop dwelling on it, so that you can move on to other things and not get wrapped in anxiety trying to remember that important tidbit. But while you're driving, you ask?
My first PDA with a voice recorder did the trick. Every time I'd think of something I needed to do or remember, I'd hit the record button and capture it. "Buy bathroom vanity light bulbs!" "Make vet appointment for vaccinations." "Send birthday card to Mary." Over time, it changed from my PDA to my cellphone. And now it's Jott on my iPhone which automatically converts my verbal recordings into text (how cool is that?!?) AND ties into Toodledo (for a fee) to put the item into the correct category within my web-based To Do list which is then accessible by phone or computer anywhere with phone network reception or Internet access.
It's amazing that once I've captured those important things, my mind feels satisfied, and I can mentally move on to other things. I don't feel the stress or anxiety that used to plague my commutes because of this great little technique. Of course, you also have to DO the things you've captured (procrastination will be another blog entry, if I don't procrastinate too long) or the stress will still rear it's ugly little head. But you get the idea. One more step toward happiness! Cool, now I check off my Toodledo item: Pay some attention to your Blog! CHECK!!!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
This weekend was very productive! I made 7 more chains. Here are the patterns I've learned:
- Queen's Link
- Flat Queen's Link
- Jazzi-Chain (has beads in it!)
- Double Lace
Take a look at these individual IKEA pieces. None solve my problem since I'm looking for a big screen entertainment center with a built-in feel. But wait! Stack them on their sides on top of one another and voila! It still wasn't exactly what I hoped because I wanted to surround that big new TV with a pier shelf extending across the top of the TV as depicted by the red box.
After about a week of mulling over possibilities, my friend Tom came up with the solution (Thanks, Tom!) using single plank shelves to frame the TV and hold up the pier shelf without drilling into any of the finished exteriors of the shelves (and the shelves are finished on all sides except for the single planks). The single planks were joined together using flat L brackets and just sits on the top of the base shelves holding the TV. Since none of the other pieces are attached to one another, I cut up a piece of silicone cookie sheet and placed the non-slip sections in between the different shelves. As you can see the before/after pics are pretty dramatic. But I'm not done yet!
Since we're trying to furnish our new home, we wanted a liquor/wine cabinet and the entertainment center had more than enough room to accommodate this. First, I added a couple of under counter mount chrome stemware racks from Target. Then I made wine bottle rack inserts. I'd seen X shaped racks and they were very pricey so I made it myself. I used 3 pieces of 1/4" 2x4 Hardyboard from Home Depot. I cut them to fit the cubes on the diagonal, then cut halfway through them with a 1/4" cut (the thickness of the piece) so they'd slide together to create an X. I painted them and inserted them in the bottom shelves. They slide around a bit, but Tom suggested that I use some removable silicone adhesive and a caulk gun to adhere the inserts without ruining the shelving finish. I'll pick that up on my next trip to Lowe's or Home Depot. Turned out nice, didn't it?
I didn't like the backless look (seeing the wall behind each shelf) so I made removable backs. Using painted 1/8" 4x8 hardboard cut down to fit the various shelving units, affixed to the backs of each shelf with self-adhesive Velcro strips. The great thing here is dealing with electrical cords. I don't have to drill any holes but instead simply pull away the backing for that particular shelf, pull the cord through and Velcro the backing in place again. I omitted a few interior shelves to fit the big components like the receiver.
I installed IKEA under-cabinet lighting but it had a very Euro bluish cast that didn't fit with the warm Pottery Barn feel of the room. Worried the halogen lights would burn any sort of filter added to the lenses, I tried a Minwax wood stain pen and put a coat of stain on the lens of each light. It didn't burn off, and it gives the lighting a pleasing amber cast. They're self-adhesive and I used black electrical tape to hide the silver power cords. I'm still trying to find the remote that I'll use to control these lights.
I found some leather organizers that fit perfecting in these cubes to hold all the console game CDs, owners manuals the home theatre and gaming equipment, and gaming accessories. These are not inexpensive, so I'll pick up a few more when I can.
Here is the finished project. I am very happy with the results. Considering what this 16 ft unit looks like it cost, I'm thrilled how the itemized cost schedule posts. No one would ever guess it was less than 3 times this price.
|Item||Unit Cost||Qty||Total Cost|
|Expedit 4 by 4||$159.00||2||$318.00|
|Expedit 2 by 4||$89.00||2||$178.00|
|Lack 1 by 4||$79.00||3||$237.00|
|Lack Long Plank||$30.00||1||$30.00|
|Lack Short Plank||$20.00||2||$40.00|