Saturday, December 30, 2006

Technology is a wonderful thing

As I watch TV these days, it is getting harder and harder to distinguish the commercials from the TV shows, specially the sci-fi shows.

One of the wireless providers has a new goodie called the EnV. It is part camera, part phone, and part handheld PC. The unit is about the size of an eyeglass case. It sounds like it can do everything but eat. This thing looks like it could rival the Star Trek Tricorder. The cell phones really do rival those comm badges the actors wore, but they just don't have the same range

Then there are the robotics manufacturers, the Roomba (a device that vacuums rooms, a Scoomba(?) a device that mops floors, and a an older model which mows the lawn. Now they are working on one that will wash dishes, dust and wash windows. Shades of Isaac Asimov!

So who is going to be the first to ask me who Isaac Asimov is and what does he have to do with Robots?

Three weeks ago I ordered three different kinds of shipping boxes from eBay (they're free). Shipping time 5-7 days. They arrived today.

Meanwhile I already went to the post office and picked up a selection of boxes from them (also free). I now have a very large selection of shipping boxes, all flat rate service. I suppose eventually I will use them, or give them to Hillary or Jessie for their eBay sales activities.

Today I spent some time listing stuff on eBay. Hopefully I will be finished by tomorrow. Then I will get to finishing polishing my Brass bed.

Fifteen years ago or more, when I lived in southern Virginia, near Hampton Roads, I saw an ad for this company in VA Beach that made Brass beds. The could make any design you wanted, or you could buy one of their pre-built models. I opted for a plain design. It is made of brass tubing that sheaths a cast iron core. The cross pieces for the slats are also cast iron. The thing looks very light, but it weighs a ton, well, probably closer to 500 pounds. Once in place it is impossible to move unless you disassemble it.

Being brass it also tarnishes. I cleaned it once about seven years ago, and tried to coat it with a tarnish preventive coating. That didn't work and it slowly turned black again. I bought many different tarnish removal concoctions, but all seemed to work about the same and their effectiveness seems to depend on how much elbow grease I added to the mixture.

I hit upon a solution which makes tarnish removal almost easy, certainly easier that before. Rather than using rags with the liquids, I used a piece of very fine steel wool. This stuff is not hard enough, or coarse enough to damage the brass, but when it has the cleaning liquid on it the tarnish comes off unbelievably fast and easy. All I need is a rag to wipe away the excess cleaning solution and tarnish residue. Neat, No mess, No fuss, No bother.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Happiness is...

Is what I am not sure, but the ubiquitous "they" assure me that "it is" Personally I think that happiness is being satisfied with what you have. I look around me, on this the last working day of the year 2006 and I am content, not wealthy, not particularly healthy but content.

My children are pursuing their own lives, with their own families, they don't want to come live with me, so life is good.

I was married for either 21 or 29 years depending on whether you count to the day the ex and I separated or the day we actually got divorced. Either way I have lived alone now for almost twenty years, ever since I moved out.

In that time I have lived in Waltham, MA, Yorktown, VA, Alexandria, VA, Tysons Corner, VA, Huntsville, AL, Chicago, IL, Grand Rapids, MI, Little Rock, AR, Baltimore, MD, Miami Beach, FL, and now Bristow, VA.

Most of the time, I lived in hotels. I almost never became friendly with my neighbors. Most time I never even met them. During that time, I worked for a large number of companies, and yet with all the people I met and worked with, I barely remember any of them, and have kept in touch with none of them. In fact I barely remember any of the people I worked with over the course of my working life (some 45 years).

I have lived at my present location for ten years, and and I know about fifteen people by name, and recognize the faces of maybe twenty more. I am not sure what that says about me other than I have a poor memory for names and faces.

Now that I live in Bristow and have put down roots of a sort I realize that some people, myself included, were never meant to live with other people. People like myself hate to share their toys and love to do what they want, when they want. We are loners, not hermits, but loners.

My home is Spartan, my diet is what some would call monotonous, and I am happy. I watch people around me acquire things, and I remember when I did the same thing. I have lost most of that acquisitiveness, and frankly don't miss it.

All of which means that I think that, other than for food, I have finished my shopping for a while.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

And the beat goes on!!!

When last we checked in I had just finished purchasing my new HDTV, or so I thought. One of the last things they told me was that in order to get the HD service I needed a new box from Comcast. Now fortunately Comcast in it's infinite corporate wisdom gives these things away, sort of like Gillette giving away the fancy blade holders. They make money selling blades. Well Comcast makes money selling the HD service so the more of these boxes they give away the more money they make.

Was that the end of it, not by a long shot. Seems there are two different HD boxes, and which one you choose depends on how the TV is installed (not quite true but close) One box/service is about $12.00 a month, and the other is about $20, including the service. The $20 dollar variety is actually a DVR box (much like TiVO), and comes with a larger selection of channels, even on basic service. For reasons that escape me the other one doesn't. It gives you HD service for those shows that broadcast in HD, but no additional channels.

Oh, and did I forget to tell you that to hook the DVR up to the TV, a distance of three or four feet normally, you need to purchase an HDMI cable. Now that little sucker is almost $100, and that is the low end of the scale.

The folks at Best Buy hook everything up for free, and Comcast gives me the box, so my only real outlat is for the HDMI cable, HD TV, Stand, and speakers.

So now my purchase cost me an additional $100 for the cable, plus about $25.00/month (with taxes, etc) for the service over and above the $100 I was already paying. Ah well, what can you do, if you want to play, you have to pay, and pay, and pay, and pay...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Splurging on a new TV and a security check

After weeks and months of agonizing research and deliberation, and just as much time trying to evaluate all the options available to me, I finally bit the bullet and went out and bought a new TV

I selected, a Samsung, 42 inch Plasma HDTV, a set of Bose speakers, and a Black wood and glass TV stand. It is hard to make decisions between one and another of the TVs, but looking at LCD and Plasma side by side, and then looking at 37 inch side by side with a 42 inch helped finalize my decision.

They will deliver all the stuff next Thursday and set it all up (connect the wires). Actually the set up was an additional $400, but they reduced the price of the TV by the same amount so delivery and set up was essentially free.

I can't wait to see it all in action.

I also purchased a valance for the window in my bedroom, not so much for looks but in the morning the sun shines over the roof of the building right behind me, right into my eyes, and I hate waking up that early.

I called my eye doctor because I lost the appointment card and it turns out my appointment is actually this Thursday, so I won't have to reschedule.

When I got home, and as I was reading the mail I got a phone call from some young lady identifying herself as being with Discover Card. Seems they were checking because there was some unusual activity on my card, a purchase at the post office, a purchase at Bed Bath and Beyond (neither one very unusual for me) and n almost $2400 charge at Best Buy (which is very unusual)

It was nice to know that they watch things that carefully and were able to call to verify the charge within two hours of my making the purchase - gives me a warm feeling inside.

Monday, December 25, 2006

One step forward

I had two chores for this weekend, clean the house and list stuff on eBay.

The first I am thankful to say is done, or at least as well as it is going to get done for now.

The second, well that is another story. I have a pile of stuff to try to sell. Some of it will, some of it won't, but I will try to sell it all.

One item wasn't on my list, but is now. I had a set of six hand painted, limited edition, decorative plates. Each is painted with a wild life scene, ducks, bear, dear, pheasant, etc. I offered them to my daughter Jessie, but she doesn't want them, so they get added to the eBay pile.

Tomorrow I will definitely get to it, if I don't find something else to do. I know I have to go out on some errands, but I will hopefully find time to eBay as well. I have a very long list of errands so I expect that the eBaying will be very short.

By now my daughter Hillary and her family will be in Florida, where her in-laws will spend the next week thoroughly spoiling my granddaughters while Hillary and Bruce relax in Key West. I hope the all have fun.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Decisions, decisions

I have reviewed all the materials, read all the reviews, listened to all my friends and relatives and finally decided that I know enough to buy a new large screen TV, all by myself.

If any of you have been TV shopping you have an idea what it entails these days. As previously related there are just so many variables, price, size, type, features, service, reliability, etc. Sometimes it is just a matter of closing one's eyes and diving in, feet first. Of course this doesn't mean I know what I am gong to actually but, but it does mean that I will go out next week, after Christmas, armed with my Consumer Reports article and actually but a TV.

Today is cleaning day. I have made up my mind, I am tired of stepping over the vacuum, and the other cleaning tools. Today is the day I actually do it. The reconstruction folks sent a cleaning crew, but they really only moved the dirt and dust around, didn't do a thorough cleaning. That is my job today, at least vacuuming and wiping down the hardwood floors.

Tomorrow, Christmas day is the day I take pictures of the stuff I am going to eBay and actually post the stuff.

These are my plans. I will let you know how reality matches up with the plans tomorrow night

Friday, December 22, 2006


I am not sure what happened but it appears that the host for this blog changed from one version to another, and possibly in the process lost everything before today. Not sure but the system is sure acting strangely.

I had planned on a quiet weekend, doing not much of anything, but I was called at 11:00 AM today by an agent asking me to cover her 12:00 to 3:00PM shift. Since I am only ten minutes away I said sure, especially since I had to run to the bank and return some stuff, both near the office.

Before I left the house another agent called and asked if I could cover her 9:00 to 12:00 shift tomorrow morning. With nothing better planned, and with the prospect of continuing to clean the house facing me, desk duty seemed preferable