- To hell with the pig... I'm going to Switzerland.

Home Sweet- Gah, What is All This Crap? (Thursday, October 29, 2009)

Yeah, yeah, I haven't updated in a long time. I've been a bit busy with work, and around the house. Let's see... we'll start with an update on renovations. My contractor's tile and flooring company went out of business, which means I'll have to pay retail prices for my kitchen backsplash. And my bathroom, too, since I discovered that there's some sort of leak, which is going to require the wall to be pulled down, in order to fix. Speaking of walls, the my contractor is going to be building a new framed wall on top of the Ryland catastrophe that came with the house — you know, where the front wall doesn't have a stud in the corner, and the side wall isn't framed at all, causing the corner to flex and crack, repeatedly. That will not be cheap.

On the exterior, a few weeks ago, I paid some workers to clear cut the bushes in front of the house, as they were trying to eat my windows, and they were ugly, as well as unmanageable. After several weeks of bare dirt (if you can call rock and clay "dirt"), I finally enlisted the help of my father-in-law, and we collected nearly a ton of garden soil, brick, and plants, in order to build it out in a more aesthetic manner. He helped me collect the stuff and unload it, but then it got dark, leaving me to finish it off on my own over the past week.

My yard isn't level (mostly due to half the yard washing down the cut sewer pipe, courtesy of Ryland and their duct tape), so I needed to dig out a trench on one side, and build up slightly on the other, in order to build a short retaining wall, which I then backfilled with the new garden soil. That work is mostly done, and the wall is fairly straight, nearly level, and tenuously plumb. The new garden is framed with a pair of Dwarf English Boxwoods, which are now planted, and the center is decorated by three Red Drift Rose bushes, which are still in pots, sitting in their holes in the ground — I keep running out of daylight. So my final task, the next time I have both sun and time, is to actually put the roses in the ground, and lay down the last two bags of soil. And grade everything to ensure proper drainage. That will be nice.

Back inside, I finally bit the bullet and decided to trade in my trusty DirecTV with Tivo, in order to get the new(er) DirecTV HD-DVR. The Tivo box is a hundred times better, but it simply can't do HDTV, and I just couldn't wait another basketball season for DirecTV to release their new Tivo box. After a failed installation attempt last Friday, a competent installer came on Monday, and we are all squared away. It's not nearly as usable as the Tivo, but it will do. And it is so nice to get all my shows at the proper resolution and aspect ratio. It's also nice to get television in Dolby Digital surround sound, too (a feature the Tivo was supposed to have, but that I never actually got to work).

I had been using my media center PC to watch HD programs, but I may have mentioned that I somehow fried its power supply a few weeks ago, and the system has been offline. So now that I have the new DirecTV box, I don't have to worry quite as much about the media center. Nevertheless, I did finally order new parts for the computer, some of which have arrived, and the rest are en route. I wonder if I will ever have enough free time to get it put together. I'm sure Vista is going to give me a really hard time, as the only thing that isn't being swapped out, is the hard drive!

Finally, in the realm of electronics, I finally bit the bullet and bought a smart phone. I have been really excited about Google Android, and the HTC Hero phone, for a while now, but was waiting for that phone to be released here in the United States. Well, as luck would have it, Sprint was the company to release it, so I didn't have to switch providers to get service, and I managed to negotiate a fairly good deal, for an unlimited data plan. Of course, all this is predicated on figuring out how the new phone works, and getting it activated. Which I haven't managed to get done yet. It's on my to-do list, I swear!

Anyway, I think that's all the updates for now. I should get back to work, but it is hard to work, dressed up for Halloween at the office. I'm sure pictures will find their way onto the Internet at some point.

—Brian (10/29/2009 10:17 AM)


Yes indeed, pictures please! My brother dressed in his full gorilla suit to the office for Halloween. Now that in itself is good but…he drove his motorcycle into DC wearing the full gorilla suit.

-- Ben (11/2/2009 10:37 AM)

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