Monday, October 29, 2007

I should have known...

... that, when given a choice, John would choose the most difficult pumpkin to carve. Truthfully, I actually enjoyed the challenge and was glad about his selection. Knowing his love for pirates of late, I offered three pumpkin options - two pirates and one "smiling Jack". He quickly decided on the more difficult of the two pirates and I began carving. Fortunately, I helped steer us towards a whopper of a pumpkin earlier in the evening that served as the canvas for this adventure - a 35 pounder to be exact;)

Anyway, bad pictures, but here's a look at our final result. First with flash to appreciate the overgrown squash.

Now, without flash, to appreciate its spooky goodness.

and again... just for fun...

John will be a great (albeit incredibly expensive) pirate for Halloween this year - I'll try to get some pictures of our human and squash varieties together.

Time confusion...

In case your clocks were as confused as ours, here's what happened.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Well... I did it

After months of John and I drooling over the big flat panel TV's when we walk into Costco, I finally took the High Definition (HD) plunge. After surprisingly little research (because of being overwhelmed by confusion), I decided to just look for something that accepted HDMI and supported all popular formats (1080p/i, 720p/i). I was originally looking at a Philips but after reading this article I decided to go with a Vizio. This 47"er was exactly what I was hoping for.

I got the beast home and was immediately dissappointed. It's huge. It's beautiful. No doubt. But it turns out that my Cox Digital Cable box actually converts an incoming analog signal into digital only so that it can infuse the guide/info/feature s and send an analog signal out to the TV. The TV, in this case, is too good in that it highlights all the defects of the inferior picture and looks like surprisingly poor quality. Fortunately, a dood at work led me on to over-the-air HD. I promptly went to Radio Shack and purchased a cheap antenna fully expecting it to pick up nothing in my basement rec room. I, and Becca, was pleasantly suprised to see all the major stations displayed in High Definition - a beautiful thing. Over-the-air HD is looking so good, I find myself watching junk I don't even like;)

Now, I find myself in a bind. The over the air HD is sweet, but I'm paying for a bunch of channels that look like junk on my TV. I've got to figure out whether to make a convincing argument to pay Cox yet another $5 a month to get the true digital/HD signal or make a convincing argument to drop it all together. Already, we've had some weather come in that has shown the weakness of the air broadcast, but its cheapness is appealing. When we do move to our final destination, we won't be fortunate enough to have a rec room at all (and we'll be <5miles from the broadcasts) so I don't expect the air broadcast to have the same weaknesses. Still, for now, I'm leaning toward paying Cox for the upgrade.

All and all, the move to HD is incredible. Most people I've talked to say that once you routinely watch shows in HD you'll never go back. So far, I'm inclined to agree.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Which direction?

Clock-wise or Counter? We've just had a heated debate at work with no real conclusion. Let me know how you see it...

Which way?

Friday, October 12, 2007

More Sweet Music...

As Gwen eluded to in her comments, John received another harmonica yesterday in the mail. We told him that we could look at exchanging it for something else if he wanted. He was having none of it though - "take it out". We took it out of the package and he bounced around the room blowing and sucking into his new harmonica as if it were his first one. We played harmonica's most of the evening yesterday. I was flipping through a book and trying to read how to play Jingle Bells and John just looked at me, shook his head, and began to play - sounded much closer to Jingle Bells than my version that had benefited from the reading. He has enjoyed both of his new instruments and seems to give them equal playing time;)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sweet Music...

John got a harmonica from his last doctor's visit - after hitting his head in Little Ninja's;) He's had a blast playing it, but the sounds it produced were, ehem, rough. Worse than that, he gets absolutely worn out playing it. He'll play for a few seconds and be out of breath - because of the force of air required to make a sound from it.

Fortunately for him [and Becca and I], he's just received a really nice harmonica in for his birthday. He's so used to the effort required by the other one that he can play this one for extended periods. The music it produces is sweet. It just came yesterday, but I love watching him play the "real" one - his head bounces around and his fingers flutter likes he's playing a horn. Becca and I just sit back and enjoy his sweet music...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sunday C&O Canal Ride

Pablo and I took the bicycles for a trip down the tow path. We rode it from Georgetown, D.C. to Great Falls, Md - a total of around 28 miles round trip. It was a gorgeous day, a little cool in the morning but warming to a perfect low-70s by afternoon.

We picked up the tow path off of Wisconsin Ave in Georgetown.

The majority of this section of the canal is well maintained clay and crushed stone. This was one of the rare opportunities to get a little dirty - on the way out, I took the bridge - Pablo took the water; coming back, we both got wet.

I don't remember exactly where this was so I couldn't geotag it, but this was the first lock that we encountered. We'd both seen locks before up on the Virginia side of Great Falls, but they have fallen into disrepair so it requires some imagination to appreciate what a feat they truly are. All along the tow path, you get to see great examples of the locks in pretty good condition.

Locktenders were responsible for efficiently getting the boat traffic through the lock at all hours of the night. For their efforts, they received a small house and an acre of land...

... and a sweet commute.

I'd love to see how the gears actually worked to open and close each of the upstream lock doors. I suspect the park service would frown on a can of WD-40 and some genuine curiosity though.

This was a more sophisticated "double-lock" that flows into a basin. We didn't stop to read what it was all about though.

And finally... Great Falls... Either the falls look much more dramatic from the Virginia side or the water is really low.

A trout? No. A salmon? No. Just some dood thinking he's gonna be the one to beat the odds;) In our 15 minutes of observing, I calculated the score to be:
- man-in-little-boat = 0
- thousands-of-gallons-of-water-per-second = 8

more pictures here.

and map view too!