New Venture

I’ve decided to quit waiting on a company to accept me for a position with them.  I’ve never been a popular person, or a person with inside connections.  It seems that in today’s rough job hunting climate that is exactly what you need in order to succeed or even get a foot in the door with a company.

I’ve decided to start a business, named Magitech.  Magitech will provide in home technology support services to people in the Monroe county, Indiana area.

I have always enjoyed giving support to people with technology, and hope to for the foreseeable future.


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1 Down

Tonight I finished the renovation of our master bathroom that I wrote about previously.  There’s still a little bit of touch up painting to do, but the real work is over.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  Here’s the highlights.

This bathroom is mainly used by my wife.  She picked basically everything, I’ve got to give it to her on her choices.  The finished room really looks nice!

The floor I installed was one of those “easy tongue and groove” systems.  It was not easy by any means.  I had to literally install it one way and then remove everything and install it another way.

I reused the toilet, but converted it to dual-flush.  It’s amazingly green.

Now it’s on to planning and preparing for “the big one.”  A complete demo and remodel of our main bathroom.  The pressure will really be on for this one as I don’t see my wife being happy with using our shower, which is located downstairs.


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Hidradenitis Supperativa

Such a strange term.  Almost impossible to pronounce.  This is the name for the condition that has dictated what is physically possible for me to do for the last 16 years of my life.

Never heard of it?  Neither had I until a random encounter with a good friend who has it as well.  I call her my ‘pain friend’ now.

Until a few years ago this painful condition was limited to my pelvic / upper thigh area.  I had my VNS device replaced in 2009 and the HS spread to my under arm area in a bad way.

The only way I have been able to control flare ups (which are horrible and debilitating) has been by shaving all areas of the body affected, using women’s anti-antiperspirant and doing as little physical labor as possible.  Now that routine is no longer effective.

My internist Dr. Bannec has helped me as far as his practice allows.  After a horrible experience with 1 of the 2 dermatologists in town (he just confirmed what I have and offered no real treatment plan), I’m looking for an expert.  No matter the distance or cost.

So far it appears that my closest options for experts in care are Detroit, MI and Cincinnati, OH.  Although it appears the guy in Ohio mainly deals with burn patients.

Once I graduate from Indiana University in December.  This will be my #1 life goal, to get this painful condition that has ruled my life for almost half of it, under control.


Posted in Health | 2 Comments

testing

Just testing the functionality of something I’m trying to use.  Just keep calm and carry on.


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A Dream Come True

Ever since I was a kid I have had a huge fascination with motorcycles.  Some of it was the fact that I never had one.  My best friend had one for a while, and I rode it like it was mine.  When I was 14, my dad bought the scooter my friend had at the time.  He in turn got a brand new one.  After a few months, someone sabotaged it.  I couldn’t get it started again.  I ended up selling it for $400 and bought a Sony Discman with it.  That’s right kids, CD players (especially portable ones) used to be really expensive.

It was a worthy investment.  I had that Discman for around 10 years.  I left it doing what it did best, spinning CD’s to play for customers at Big Red Liquors.

Back to the point.  That seed that was planted in me as a child never went away.  I don’t know if it was my mind yearning for times gone by, or if I just enjoyed motorcycles that much.

Due to my epilepsy, nobody felt comfortable with the idea of me even owning one, let alone riding one.  I understood, but wasn’t happy about it.  Since I’ve had my VNS implanted, I’ve only had 1 seizure due to me not taking my medicine.

A friend of mine was selling his motorcycle, and what blew me away is that it was my wife who suggested I look at it.  Any previous attempts to bring that subject up would be presented with “the look.”  I decided to pass on his, but since I had her “on the line” I thought I would keep looking, and I ended up falling in love.

I found an 1982 Honda CB750SC, commonly known as a Nighthawk on Craigslist.  It wasn’t perfect, and it’s almost as old as me.  The owner had done some customizing to it, which really makes it stand out.  After some back and forth about hearing it run, which I finally did, I bought it.

There’s just something about newer motorcycles that I just don’t like.  I think a large part of it is the lack of chrome and character I see in affordable models.  Harley’s look nice, but I’ve already got 1 mortgage.

As of right now the motorcycle is in pieces.  I’ve had to do a complete cleaning of the carburetors, the front brakes are not working and I’m having some work done to the plastic panels on it.

I can’t wait to get out on the road with her.  I just need a good name.  I’m hoping to have it road worthy by mid summer.  Just enough time to get some riding in.


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Preparing for the Big One

Through the years I’ve wrote a lot about my on-going home renovation projects.  I’ve done so many that I’m now down to doing large projects instead of small “easy” ones.  Our bathrooms have been easily the most neglected spaces of our home.  We’ve decided to finally remodel them, they deserve it.

Our master bathroom, which is a half-bathroom needs the least work and will be done first.  It is by far the smallest room in the house.  Measuring in at 4′ x 6′, there isn’t much room for anything.


We’re adding texture to the walls as a quick fix.  Originally wallpaper was put up, but we took it down.  What remains is dried glue and many places where repair is needed.  With a little joint compound and some creativity – It’ll look beautiful.  Surprisingly there is a standard size double hung window in the room.  To give privacy the original owners installed plantation shutters.  Both of us hate them (especially in this room), so I’ll be applying some window tinting to give some privacy and save space.

The flooring is carpeted.  I would like to know what drugs people were on in the 60’s and 70’s that made them think that a type of flooring that likes to hold water was a good idea in a room with nothing but plumbing!  We haven’t decided what we are going to put in just yet, but it will probably be vinyl flooring of some type.

The only remaining items in that bathroom are the lavatory, medicine cabinet and lighting fixture.  One weekend Rachel and I went to our local home improvement stores and without an argument, agreed on almost everything we need.  We have some pieces that will be the same in both bathrooms, but each will have their own style.

The main bathroom is a completely different story than the master.  This bathroom was not built right to begin with.  When we moved into the house, the drain lines for the toilet and tub had to be replaced.  The tub surround is merely tile that has been glued onto the drywall.  Mold is in no short supply in this room.  I’ve decided that I’m going to gut this room except for the ceiling.  I expect some repair work will be needed on wall studs or joists.

 What we have decided, mainly based on our experiences is that we need to have a better tub surround system.  After searching high and low I found one.  It goes from the top of the tub to the ceiling.  There is also an optional cap component that acts as a ceiling for the shower, encapsulating that area from water infiltration.

We’re also going to install a whirlpool tub, score.


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Everything Old is New Again

It’s been way too long since my last post.  It seems as if I forget about my little corner of the world here and forget to drop in and reflect on my life, which is the main reason for this blog.

At the beginning of last summer, I accepted a position with VICOPS (Collaboration Technologies) at Indiana University.  This small department handles all of the videoconferencing/collaboration resources for the entire Indiana University system and outside affiliates.  I work for the help desk, where we take telephone and video calls for assistance with issues regarding technologies such as desktop videoconferencing, Adobe Connect, Telepresence, etc.

At the beginning of the fall I was offered and accepted a full time hourly position with them. I no longer have to worry about finding multiple jobs to fill hours.  It has been a great relief to my family as well.  I never realized how much I actually treasure steady working hours.

I’m only 10 credit hours away from graduating.  This semester I’m taking nothing but Informatics and Computer Science courses.  Most of these are just introductory courses, which are a cakewalk for someone with my knowledge in the subject.

My business has received a much needed injection of attention.  After changing the name from LML Video Services to Magic Media Services, things just died out.  I then put a request on reddit for someone to help redesign the logo for my business.  I was more than surprised at the results when someone obliged my request.  I am now working on redesigning my website, which will be located somewhere on the rox.com domain temporarily.

Rachel and I finally got “grown up” furniture for our bedroom.  With the assistance of my neighbor Bill we got a new dresser, chest of drawers, headboard, armoire and night stand.  We also purchased a new mattress and box spring, which was needed greatly.  Our old, borrowed furniture went back to my grandma who lent it to us over 10 years ago.  I can’t thank her enough for the kindness in her heart.

Over the weekend I replaced the first of three sinks in our home.  The one in our utility room (they are all exactly the same) started leaking about a gallon of water a day.  The drain was rusted out, but I couldn’t replace it as it was seized together.
The shut off valves for the water lines were seized as well.  With all of the water problems this area had previously, we knew this was going to be ugly.  Since we needed a place to give Amelia a bath while remodeling our main bathroom (which will be happening soon) we decided to purchase a utility sink for the space.  8 hours and 3 trips to Menards later, I was both finished with the project and worn our physically and mentally.

On the ROX side of life, I’m currently downloading the latest finished episode for distribution to CATS.  #96 will be on the air soon in Monroe county.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with more organized and focused posts.

 


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Flying Through Time

I wanted to do something big for my 30th birthday.  The original plan was skydiving, but I weigh too much.  My fabulous wife found something almost as good, a guy in Madison Indiana flys people in his open cockpit bi-plane.  With him you can just fly, do some aerobatics, and even take “the stick” and fly the plane.

Unfortunately with our hectic schedule, making this a reality became too much for us to handle and that idea was eventually scrapped.

Fortunately our airport often hosts airplanes that travel the country and offer flights.  These are not just cessna’s, but historical airplanes.  Last fall we checked out the WWII B17 bomber.  While I would have loved to, we could not afford the flight as the $450 price was just too much.

It’s an amazing piece of avionic history.  We actually climbed through the plane, which has very tight quarters.  It was made even more difficult by to us carrying a 1 year old through it.

Last month a Ford Tri-Motor came, and this time the price was very reasonable.

This plane was one of the planes that started commercial aviation, just to have the opportunity blew me away.  This was also the first time I had ever flown from my local airport.

Our flight path was simple and took less time than I had expected.  We flew to the south side of Bloomington, near where old 37 and new 37 meet.  We then turned north and headed to 2nd street where we flew between 2nd and 3rd street back to the airport.

Due to the proximity of my home to the airport, I got a picture of my neighborhood(if you look at the hi-res version you can see fires & tree damage from the tornado)!  We see planes take off and come in for landings all the time, but I had never got to see the plane’s perspective before.

Planes today hold hundreds of passengers, this one only held 9.  The cabin was tight, but I felt more comfortable in this plane than in our modern counterparts.  I was sitting in the very back, a seat that was reserved for the “steward” was the only thing behind me.

I was busy while we were in the air.  I had my camera and an iPhone; I was utilizing all of their capabilities.  I even tweeted mid-flight!

I say this often, and I can’t reiterate it enough.  Without the past, we have no future.  I have to give thanks to the EAA AirVenture Museum for giving me this opportunity.  I greatly appreciated it.

I’ll leave you with our landing.  If you notice when we touch down, the wheel on my side doesn’t touch for a while!


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The Tale of Two Cities

We had planned a getaway for Memorial day that was a little quirky and not like us.  Little did we know that a tornado would get in the way.  Due to said tornado, I had closed myself emotionally.  While you could say I had a “good time.”  I don’t have any emotions to go along with the trip, something I typically have.  My wife wrote a blog post from her point of view, I highly recommend reading to see the contrast in our points of view.

We left as soon as we could on the Friday after the tornado and drove about halfway to our destination, St. Joseph / Benton Harbor Michigan.  We stayed the night in Lafayette, leaving early so we could arrive at our destination early.

As soon as we arrived, we learned about these two cities the hard way.  There seems to be a strong sense of division.  While St. Joseph is a nice, quaint resort community, Benton Harbor shows all of the “what used to be” looks.  There are many homes that used to be mansions, but are now dilapidated; some even boarded up.  It’s downtown area almost looks like a ghost town from the 1950’s.  There is some new growth, but it still feels like a ghetto.

The first thing we did was check into our hotel.  It was a pretty funky Courtyard by Marriott.  We decided to find something to eat, explore, and just relax that evening.  The views from St. Joseph are absolutely amazing.  It’s a great little resort community.  The whole time I was contemplating about what was happening back home and trying to calm my nerves by smoking copious amounts of tobacco.

Sunday was a mixed bag of not great weather conditions, so the beach was not an option.  After having the best breakfast I’ve ever had at any hotel, we headed for St. Joseph.  Our first stop was downtown.  They have a charming area filled with high fashion shops, and typical small town businesses.  They have animal statues on just about every corner, decorated in many different ways.  Taylor loved the “Cash Cow,” a cow covered with REAL money.  It was of course in front of a bank.  My fave was “Vincent Van Goat,” which had a depiction of “Starry Night” on one side and “Irises” on the other.

We then went to the most interesting pizza place I’ve ever been to.  Silver Beach Pizza is a pizza place located within an Amtrak train station.  I had an ice cold beer and a very good barbecue chicken pizza.  It was most excellent!

We then went to the Curious Kids museum.  It was fun for both the girls.  Taylor enjoyed encapsulating herself in a bubble.  Amelia enjoyed the water table, and acting OCD with random items.  They’ve ran out of space in the converted brick house they are located in, so with the price of admission you can also access their addition, which is located next to the indoor carousel.  We then went there.  They have stuff even the adults can appreciate.  They have a climbing wall, water tables galore, space items.  It was quite fascinating and good stuff.  We then went and had fun with the carousel.
We were a bit nervous, as Amelia had never been on one before.  She was a trooper, and had a blast.  It was good family fun for all!

Amelia’s nap time was approaching, so we headed back to the hotel.  Which was perfect timing, as a severe storm approached.  After going through the tornado, this was the first time a storm actually scared me.

That night, we played in the pool – all of us.  This hotel has a very interesting pool, it has an indoor and outdoor section; you can swim to either section through an opening in a glass wall.  We then found an arcade was in a mall not too far away and decided to check it out.  What we discovered was a mall that was essentially dead.  There were no anchor stores at all.  While there were interior stores, there weren’t that many.  We played for an hour or so and then went back to the hotel.

The next morning, we stopped at beautiful Silver Beach.  The difference between an ocean’s beach and a large lake’s beach is pure calm.  It’s an amazing place, with an amazing view.  The girls had fun, I put Amelia’s feet in the cold water and she didn’t want to leave!  The sand was so fine and plush that we decided to bring home a bucket full.  We all have glass jars of it to help remember the experience.

As fun end to our short trip, we stopped at Fair Oak’s Farm in northern Indiana.  It’s a large dairy farm that gives tours and offers many learning opportunities for children about where our dairy products come from.  We took a bus tour, which takes you through some of their barns to see how the cows live and what they eat.  Amelia sat with me, and I told her that these are cows, they go “moo.”  She started repeating me, it was adorable.  We then saw their carousel milker.  It’s an amazing machine that lets them produce vast quantities of moo juice.

We then went to the birthing barn, and witnessed the births of two calves.  While I had seen this many times as a child, Rachel and Taylor had not.  I think it was a good experience for both of them.

Next we stopped by the kids area, where Taylor got to do something she hadn’t done in a while, jumping on trampolines while attached to bungee cords.

We then visited the store, where I sampled some cheese.  We bought some souvenirs for the girls and they had some ice cream.

I had just started to heal from this life changing event, and our vacation was over.  Coming home was almost like a nightmare coming true.  While it was nice to get away, the mental extremes that it forced me to go through were almost too much to handle.


Posted in Family, Links, Pix, Rachel, The Amelia Files, The Taylor Chronicles, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Little Girl Isn’t Dead

This is a continuation of my last post, The Little Girl is Dead.

While on our short vacation, my mind refused me the opportunity to forget about what was going on at home.  Instead it kept thinking about that phrase that was etched into my mind that night.  I kept running scenarios in my head about my girls; I didn’t like to, but I had to.

I felt bad for everyone who had been affected by this storm, especially the less fortunate ones who lived in that trailer court, right next door to me.  They had lost everything, and probably didn’t have insurance.  There were many children living there, so many that the schools had 2 buses come for pickup and drop off.  We would see them all waiting for the bus in the mornings on our way to work.  I still see their faces, and imagine what they must have went through on that eventful night.

I received two phone calls that Saturday while we were in Michigan, our power had been restored!  It had been out for around 3 and 1/2 days.  We don’t know how many utility poles had to be replaced in total, but it was a large number.

Since I had Internet access, I was always keeping up on the news.  Our township trustee had organized a volunteer day, to help with tree & debris cleanup.  This made all of us happy, and was the first step in putting my heart and soul to ease.  In the end there were a total of 3 volunteer days, but the news that an IU student had disappeared shifted the focus, and the volunteers.

We returned from Michigan on Memorial day, and reality set in.  While I had no damage to my home, we had lost about 10 trees; including our beloved apple tree.  Many of these trees formed a ‘natural’ fence along my property line.  They provided large amounts of shade and oxygen, they were also wrapped in vines.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a “jack of all trades.”  I have had experience in cutting trees since I was about 12, when I helped my then step-dad do just that for a living.

We had already lost our weeping willow tree and a maple tree due to wind and ice storms that occurred earlier in the year, we purchased a chain saw so I could clean them up; I was prepared.  Little did I know how difficult the task would be when vines were involved.  This was a task I couldn’t handle, this task needed a quantity of experience people.

We decided to get estimates from tree-trimming businesses.  I called around 5 companies, only one showed up and gave me an estimate.  It was more expensive than we wanted to pay, and under our homeowners insurance deductible.  I wasn’t going to feel at ease until this was taken care of; I was literally stuck between a bunch of trees and a hard place.

I turned to our township trustee’s office.  I called them and asked for assistance, but let them know that I should be placed on the bottom of their list.  I let them know that it was simply downed trees that needed to be cleaned up, there was no damage to my home and that it shouldn’t be a priority.  While we could have paid for the cleanup; it would have presented a financial burden that we might have not recovered from.

A few days go by and as I arrived home from class an Mennonite looking fellow was at my house.  He said he was surveying what needed to be done; he was assembling a crew.  The next day when I arrived home, the trees were almost cleaned up!  It was a group of boys and a man.  At the time I presumed they were Mennonite, since they used technology.  It turns out I was wrong; it was the Worthington Amish Youth Group.  I thanked each one of them personally, and asked if they needed anything at all.  They requested some water, which I promptly fetched and then they went about their business.

With all the property damage and the trailer court in ruins, I was blown away that they decided to help ME.  My whole family is in their debt and are working on a way to pay it forward and show them how much we appreciate what they’ve done for us.

After they finished cleaning up the trees, a larger group, including women went over to the trailer court and assisted cleanup.

The effects of this tornado will be felt and seen for many years to come.  Not just from the people (like me) who live where it happened, but by the thousands of travellers that take that section of Highway 45.  I went through many years of emotional issues as a child, which I thought had toughened me mentally.  I learned the hard way that I was wrong.

While we are mainly healed from this event, our souls will never forget it.  That storm took something from me.  Even though I don’t exactly know what “it” is, I feel incomplete inside.  I don’t know how to move on from this experience.  Writing this has certainly helped.

 


Posted in B-Town, Deep Thoughts, Holidaze, Life, Links, Neighbors, Pix, Rachel, The Amelia Files, The Taylor Chronicles, Travel, Weather & Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Little Girl is Dead

Those are the words my mind tricked me into believing were true.  I heard a fireman say something that sounded like that on the night of May 25th, the night a EF1 tornado touched down very close to my home.

My wife, a person who is always concerned with the weather told me that the night was going to be a rough one.  I hear this on a fairly common basis, but something told me that I should stay on alert that night.  She had radar from WRTV 6 up on her computer, and we had a combination of the local weather and The Weather Channel on our TV the entire night.

I remember the exact moment when I knew we were going to be in for something.  While watching the TV, they were showing all of the tornado warning/watches in Illinois.  The state was covered in red; meaning the state was covered in tornado warnings.

Around 10:19pm our power went out, and almost instantly after that our weather radio went off; it was a tornado warning for us and we knew that this was serious.  My wife headed for our basement and told me to grab Amelia from her crib if I thought it was appropriate.  While I knew this was a serious situation, I had to see it for my own eyes.  That’s when I picked up my flashlight and looked at the large maple tree in my backyard.  It’s large canopy was swirling in a clockwise motion, something I had never seen before in that large of a tree.

I immediately ran to grab Amelia from her room and rushed to our utility room where Rachel was waiting.  Even though I had experienced a similar event when I was 12, I had never felt the urgency or threat that I felt at that moment.  It was the first time we had ‘ran for shelter’ from a storm.  While in our utility room, we could hear the intensity of the storm.  There was no sound like a train, rather the sound of a large volume of air moving at a high rate of speed.  It went away after a minute or so, but we decided to stay in our safe place for a few minutes, just to be sure.

Immediately, I went outside to inspect for damage.  The first thing I noticed was that a large limb from one of my trees had broken and fallen on my neighbor’s fence.  I called him to let him know, and that was when my mental state took a dive that it hadn’t had in a very long time.


He told me that his daughter had called him and by listening to the scanner, she had heard that the trailer court right next to our neighborhood was completely wiped out.  I felt a tremendous urge to go see what I could do to help.  I got in the Kia and discovered that a war zone now existed less than 1/4 mile away from my home; I was also trapped in our neighborhood.

I discovered another one of my neighbors outside, I asked him what he knew.  He said that there were several children trapped in one of the trailers.  He told me that he offered his assistance, but they didn’t want anyone who wasn’t trained in search & rescue to help out of the fear that they might also be hurt.

I then heard those words that I couldn’t get out of my head, “the little girl is dead.”  I had to run back home, I couldn’t help and I could barely hold my tears back.

Out of what seemed to be pure survival instinct, I started tweeting.  Besides our land line, it was my only way of communicating with the outside world at that point.  Here they are:

  • I’m a prisoner in my own neighborhood and there are people dead less than 1/4 miles away from me
  • Trailers stacked on top of trailers, it’s a sickening sight! If I only had a line to the outside world besides this
  • I can’t sleep knowing that my poor neighbor children lost everything, almost their lives tonight. I also confirmed with the fd, no death …
  • I now wish it would stay dark so I cannot see the remains of what was #didthisreallyhappen
  • I’ve only lost a few trees, which I loved -I feel bad for mentioning it, but I think it should be noted.
  • Please put the children who just lost everything in your thoughts and/or prayers. They really didn’t deserve this
  • You never realize how much you appreciate freedom until that freedom is taken – quote me

I then went back and found a larger group of my neighbors.  One of which had a friend over who is a policeman.  We went back and actually did some searching with the fire department.  I snapped some photos on my phone, but due to the atmospheric conditions, they didn’t turn out too well.

I went back home and told Rachel that I couldn’t go to sleep, and that I was going to leave as soon as I could.  I felt disconnected from what was happening, I needed information.  Around 3am, I started seeing headlights from cars driving around our neighborhood – the road must have been finally cleared.  I packed up my laptop, phone and associated cables to charge everything and headed into the unknown.  My destination was the IU Wells Library, but I wasn’t sure if I would make it.  I had to try.

The journey is only about 6 miles, but it seemed like 50.  The entire west side of Bloomington was pitch black.  No stop lights or street lights.  When I finally made it to campus it was even worse.  Trees were down everywhere, what is normally a somewhat linear route ended up to be a criss cross puzzle.

I finally felt okay.  I sat with some of my TCC co-workers and briefed them of the situation.  I logged onto a computer and started my hunt for information.  I printed every article I could find, from the Herald-Times, to the Indy Star to even MSNBC.

Once everything was charged, and my search for information was complete I headed back home.  Little did I know that the drive home would be even more treacherous than the drive in.

Still no lights or businesses open.  It was daylight now, I what I had feared was true; it had to have been a tornado that came through.  While there were spots here and there in town and on campus that had tree damage, there was a defined path of destruction starting just west of Curry Pike/Leonard Springs Road on Highway 45.  This defined path followed me on my journey home, and that’s when I encountered the sheriff’s deputy blocking the road to my home. “And where do you think you’re going?” he asked me.  “Home” I passionately stated.  He let me through.

The next day we left on a planned vacation to Michigan.  We felt it would be better to leave the sadness and destruction, than to stay and be constantly reminded of it.

I’ll continue this tale in my next post.

 

 


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Catching Up

It has been too long since my last posting.  I’m going to sum up what’s happened since my last post, and then write individual posts for the more important things later on.

A EF1 tornado hit my area.  It started a few hundred feet away from my home and travelled a couple of miles east.  Nobody was killed thankfully, but some were injured.  It wreaked havoc on my family’s emotional state for a period of time.

Our beloved family member Oreo lost a battle he could not win.  Over the past several months, he lost a lot of weight.  So much so that we decided to take him to the vetinarian.  After doing some blood work, it was discovered that he was in renal failure.  To make it worse, there wasn’t anything we could do to cure him, we could only try to make him comfortable.  We still miss him greatly.

We’re now into Summer Session II at Indiana University.  Session I went very well for me.  I took a computer science course which was an introduction to Python.  I am now taking a Survey of Hip Hop & Rap cultural studies course.  While I’ve never been a large fan of the genre before, I’m beginning to enjoy all aspects of it!

 


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Technology My Way

Two years ago, my wife and I signed a contract for cellular phones.  It was a basic contract with the only extra being a small texting plan for each of us that added $10 a month to our bill.  It soon became overwhelmingly apparent how much we (the US) doesn’t realize how much it is overcharged for cellular telephone service.  We were paying $75 a month for 2 phones that we didn’t use tremendously.  We didn’t feel like we were getting a good value.

We decided a few months into the contract that once it was over we would re-evaluate the situation, and decide to make a change.

My phone was a smart phone (Samsung Blackjack II), and I soon came to love all the bells and whistles having that phone provided me. I didn’t want to lose the “non phone” functionality I had with this device to save money.

Because of my chosen line of work, I have been privileged to  just about every kind of mobile device you can think of.  I’ve seen all Apple “i” devices, Google Android devices of all shapes and sizes, Amazon Kindles, Barnes & Noble Nook’s, and even some devices from overseas that aren’t sold in the states.

While I enjoy what technology has to bring us, I don’t enjoy the trend of being “connected” all the time.  What really boggles my mind about this trend are the costs.  Instead of just paying for cellular phone service, now for smart devices there are required data plans, and sometimes required texting plans.  The costs of these plans can be equal to or even more than just the basic calling service.

What I have done that has differentiated myself from the masses is by combining the capabilities of a smart phone, with the affordable qualities of a pre-paid cell phone, utilizing an Apple iPhone 3g.

There are many guides online, explaining how to do such a feat with the iPhone.  I found many to be informative and factual.  They all have at least 1 step incorrect however.  Many will tell you to purchase a SIM card and then activate it via AT&T’s website, which is impossible.  I found this out the hard way, but a SIM card is only a couple of bucks, so it wasn’t a huge deal.  Others tell you to purchase a “Go-Phone” and move the SIM card.  This isn’t a good idea either, as this option actually locks the SIM card to that Go-Phone for a period of 6 months.

I ended up going to an AT&T store with my old phone after our contract had expired, and requested to switch to pre-paid.  It was that simple.  I then just moved the SIM card to the iPhone and voila!

While I can’t access data services when most iPhone users can, that doesn’t bother me.  What makes me happy is knowing that I’m paying 8 times less for basically the same service as they are!

It’s been a little bit over a month since I went pre-paid, and I’ve only spent $11.30!  With VOIP options such as Skype and TextFree, I only need to  use my “paid” minutes when I don’t have a wireless connection.

And that, my friends, is how you have  your cake and eat it too!


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Out of Sync

My first semester as a student at Indiana University was very hard on me.  So hard that I became “out of sync” with the world around me, and the normal activities I participated in (including this blog).

Too many events occurred to even begin to try to catch up with one blog post, so I won’t try.  Instead I’m going to mention current events.

This week was the first semester of the spring semester, for which I’ve decided to take some 100 level courses in an attempt to give my mind a break.

I’m also adjusting to some changes in my work schedule, as I now have some very long days.  I work from 7:30a until 10p two nights a week.  While this may sound horrible, it allows me some freedoms.  I don’t work on Wednesdays, and I only work 5 hours on Fridays.  It’s a trade off that I’m willing to pay for.

During the winter break, I was able to catch up on ROX.  I have edited 11 of 24 episodes for the season one DVD set.  I hope to finish editing by the end of the semester, and begin DVD authoring.

The plan is that I will be able to re-connect with my family, and more importantly, my life during this period.


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Goodbye Old Friend

Many important events happened to me in 1999.  I officially moved out of my mothers apartment (if only for 6 months).  My first child was born.  I also built my first computer, with the help of the awesome guys at Edgewood Computers, based out of Ellettsville, IN; where I lived at the time.

It has some amazing specifications for the time.  A 450mhz AMD K6/2 processor, 96mb of PC133 ram, a 10gb hard drive, an ATI All-In-Wonder video card, which allowed you to record video directly from cable.  It has a 48x cd-rom drive, that’s right not even a burner.  I also installed the hard drive from my first computer, to be used as a secondary place to store my stuff, at 200mb it wasn’t large, but it was something.  In total I paid just under a cool grand for this computer, which wasn’t bad at the time.

This computer only had 2 problems.  First it had to be thoroughly cleaned with alcohol, as I used to smoke inside my home, which led to a residue buildup on the machine.  Then a few years ago, the power supply went out.  That’s it!

In 2005 I built a new computer, one that grossly outdated this one.  We ended up giving this one to my in-laws.  With 2 of their daughters a minimum of 2 hours away, we wanted to get them connected via email and able to get on the internet.

My in-laws had been complaining about it running slow, they thought it was their dial-up internet access, but in reality it was the aging computer.  Last night I booted it up to see what was going on and discovered the IDE (Hard drive) controller had went bad.  I knew then that it was time to find my in-laws a new machine.

We got them a Dell Optiplex 745 from Dell’s auction website.  I plan on acquiring them a flat panel monitor sometime soon as well.

Goodbye old friend, you’ve been the most reliable machine I’ve ever known of and you’ll be missed.


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Sick and Tired

I just thought I’d leave a quick note, as I haven’t written in quite a long time:

I didn’t realize how much work my classes this semester would actually be.  It’s taken up much of my time as of recently.  I also had a bout of pneumonia to which I recovered and now am dealing with some serious sinus issues.

Most of the time working with computers is fun, when you’re sick it’s quite the opposite.

I’ll write again when I can.


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Day Two

My “second” day of being a student wasn’t nearly as crazy as I thought it would be.  You see, I have 15 minutes between the time I leave my job to when my class starts on the opposite side of campus at Swain Hall East.

The trip wasn’t as stressful and energy sucking as I thought it would be.  As a matter of fact I made it to class with 5 minutes to spare!

The class on the other hand seems like it’s going to be one I have to pay close attention to, and keep up on.  It’s the first statistics course I’ve ever taken!  A few of my co-workers recommended the course and said it was “easy.”  With those kind of recommendations I couldn’t pass this one up.  A fellow co-worker is taking it this semester as well, so I’ll have him for any help I might need.

As soon as I’m done with class, I have a quick bike ride back to the IMU, where Rachel and Amelia should be on their way or waiting on me.  Not so bad.

Essentially I will be doing this “day one” and “day two” routine twice each week, with my Friday’s being split amongst Kelley and some study time at the library.

The one thing I have to change is the seat on my bicycle.  It’s never been comfortable in the 15 years I’ve owned it.  Now that I’m using it 4 times a week, it’s downright painful.  I ordered an awesome seat last night from amazon, and hope to have it installed this weekend.


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Day One

My first day as a student at IU was exciting, exhausting and fulfilling.

I first worked my job at Technology Services at KSoB.  I then rushed over to McNutt for my other job with UITS/TCC.  When I arrived and started to settle in, I received a call asking me to go to Read due to some staffing issues.  So I rushed over to the other end of campus as quick as I could to fulfill this request.

When I arrived I was in shock.  Whomever had worked there last had left the supply cabinet unlocked, and all of it’s contents inside unlocked.  We keep a radio, laptop, hubs and other supplies in it.  Someone could have simply walked in and taken them without worry.

The consultant that should have been there arrived about 30 minutes late, he’s obviously a underclassmen, he didn’t show any sense of responsibility.  We had many tickets and a few appointments to go on as there are many people around campus having problems connecting to IU’s network.  We called many people and were able to resolve the issue on the phone, or close the ticket because the issue had been fixed.

Printing was also basically down across the whole campus.  The printing system was migrated to a new system without any time for testing that is normally done.  Basically what was once many was migrated to a few and all hell broke loose.  As I write this printing is down again.  I hope this issue gets resolved soon, as I genuinely feel bad for these students who rely on university printers.

It was a good, hard and hot shift, but we were productive.

I then rode my bike over to Ballantine Hall, where my American Studies class is.  I arrived almost an hour early, so I had time to relax from the fast paced day I had.

I was amazed to find that my class is very small, only about 10 students!  The topic of this class is how the computer changed history and culture.  I think it’s going to be a fun and interesting class.  Since I’m the geek that I am with regards to computers and history I think it’s the perfect fit for me.

After class I caught the Bloomington Transit, the city’s public bus system.  I get to ride it free since I’m a student at IU.  My bike and I rode over to Wal-Mart where Rachel and Amelia were waiting on me.  This is a better alternative than Rachel packing her up and driving back to campus to pick me up.  I haven’t rode the bus since I was in middle school!  The one thing I can say is bus design has changed significantly since then.

Once we got home, I basically crashed from the days’ activities.  I hope I can keep up the pace.

Today is going to be a whole new adventure that I will update you on tomorrow.


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Capturing Complete

I honestly can’t count how many times I have captured all of the season 1 ROX episodes, but it’s been too many times.  Between all the issues I’ve had, there isn’t really an exact source to point the blame to.  I’ve had a hard drive crash, which put me to tears.  I have some tapes that CATS made for me which have been in bad shape since the day I got them.

The hard drive crash made me seriously look for backup solutions and I found one.  I created a backup server, which backs up my files to a mirrored raid.  Should 1 drive fail, I can simply replace it and lose no data.  The system has expandability for more hard drives in the future should I need them.  The only item I haven’t done is off site or cloud backup, mainly due to the file size of video files.

For a while I was transferring video using a USB device, which worked well for a while but now leaves a video frame in places where they shouldn’t be.  I think it’s a bandwidth issue.  Now I’m transferring with a capture card, and haven’t seen any of the issues I had with the USB device.

As of right now I have over 600 gigabytes of files solely dedicated to ROX.  Most of those are simply draft episodes which have been captured, but aren’t suitable for release.  They are either missing one piece here or there, or just need fade effects added to the beginning and end.

That’s what I do.  I’m not interpreting the original work, merely trying to make 1 good episode from a sea of bad ones.  It’s not easy work.  I go over each episode frame by frame and look for things such as heat damage (which has been the biggest issue thus far) y-axis video track issues and a plethora of audio issues.

Now the real work begins.  I’m hoping to edit and render 1 episode a night.  If I’m able to keep on this schedule I might be able to start DVD authoring within a month.


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