Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More kittens...

Man, I can't believe February is almost here. Where does the time go? This Saturday, my parents are leaving for a vacation in Chile...

Not much time for posting tonight, but I just wanted to add another movie starring our favourite kittens :)


Monday, January 29, 2007

Kittens... soooo cute!

As promised, I'm posting a video of kitten sillyness. Nothing cuter than tiny little kittens discovering their world.

Hope you like it!

The saga continues...

Well, we fought some more with the video camera and the laptop on the weekend. We actually ended up using USB2 instead of firewire to transfer the video (with Windows Movie Maker), and that seemed to work fine. Of course most other video editing software requires firewire upload, so we may still have to configure that at some point.

So I spent a whole bunch of time downloading video from the 3 90-minute tapes that we have. All the downloading has to be done real-time, with the tape in playback mode, so as you can imagine it takes a bit of time. And of course after I'd done most of the transferring, I was surprised at the small footprint of all the files (I was expecting Gigs, but only got a few hundred Megs). Turns out I was downloading the video at a lower resolution/quality. Even though the option I selected was "Best quality for my computer". Sigh! So then I downloaded a few pieces of video at full resolution. That does take a lot of space! So I think I will download bits at a time, edit them, write them to DVD (gotta go buy a DVD burner first). I don't have enough space on my hard drive for more than one tape at a time.

Oh, the joys of video editing! Maybe tonight I'll be able to post a quick video of the kittens that I filmed last summer (too cute!!!).

Aside from all the playing around with the video camera, I had a pretty good weekend. Lots of stuff got done, I got caught up on laundry, did a bunch of cooking (first case of badly burned food in my brand new pot, seems to have survived ok), some sewing (I fixed up a set of sheets - that was a big job!), more basement work (we had to re-glue the post covers), some cleanup and tidying. But it wasn't all work no play, I also went to the NAC to see the Royal Winnipeg Ballet perform "A Cinderella Story". A new twist on the timeless classic ;) It was very cute, I liked the choreography and the costumes. Unfortunately they had a couple of issues with their props (a piece of cable tangled up in the main character's skirt, a curtain that stayed stuck in one of the four anchor points), which was a little distracting. But overall it was a nice evening. Though I spent all of my intermission in the bathroom lineup - with only 3 stalls in the ladies room, it was very hard to get in... I was impressed at the number of young people (not just small kids, but teenagers), and especially young men attending the performance. And most of them really dressed up! It was very neat! After the performance we went out for our traditional tea at the the Chateau Laurier. As usual, very nice!

I think that sums up the weekend pretty well. Oh, yeah, Sunday night DH and I watched a movie from 10 years ago called Thousand Acres. I really liked the movie, for some reason it spawned a whole bunch of thought processes in my head. I must have just been in the right mood, because I can see how it could also be considered slow, boring and a little melodramatic. Though DH said that it wasn't bad as far as chick flicks go ;)


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Video camera saga

You just gotta love technology. With it's promises to deliver faster, cheaper, more exciting things all the time, you can't help but buy in to the hype. After all, they must know what they're doing!

Well, let me tell you the long and convoluted story about our China movies. We bought a digital video camera before going to China, because we really wanted to capture parts of our trip on video. We're really glad we did, because some of the footage is pretty awesome. However, when we bought the camera, we didn't buy anything to transfer the video to our computer, where we could edit the more than 3 hours of video we filmed. We figured we'd just buy all the hardware later.

You would think it would be pretty simple to buy what we need: a firewire card that can plug into our laptop, and a firewire cable to connect the camera to this card. Over the Christmas break, I ventured into Future Shop to get the combination of card and cable, and came home with both, pretty happy with myself. Well, it turns out the card works for some laptops, but not ours. Not that our laptop is anything special. It's not brand spanking new (around a year old, which in computer terms is pretty old), it's not very fancy or anything. It just uses a PCMCIA interface that apparently no store in Canada (or at least Ottawa) carries. I spent a few good hours on the internet that night trying to figure out what the specific interface is that we need. On our slow 56K connection, it took me 3 hours to download the user's guide for the laptop just to confirm that I had the right name for the interface... I ended up returning the card to Future Shop, thank goodness for their forgiving return policy!

Sigh! So you would think once I had the name of the interface (ExpressCard, for those technically inclined), it would be a snap to get the right parts... Well, as I mentioned, I could not find a local store carrying any ExpressCard cards. Not even the Dell store (we have a Dell laptop). So in the end we resorted to buying the card online. Straight from the manufacturer, to simplify things. We figured it would take a week or two, and we would have our card. Lo and behold, we get a card in our mailbox yesterday (more than 3 weeks after placing the order), telling us that there is a package at the UPS depot, and it will be held there until the 22nd (and we got the card on the 24th!). We raced to the UPS depot, where luckily they still had the package. I guess they were dragging their feet because it was an international parcel. Lucky for us! Though I still don't know why it took the little notice almost 10 days to get into our mailbox...

So we were hoping this would be the end of the story. After all, we now have a card, and a cable, the one I had bought at Future Shop around a month ago... We were so wrong! It turns out that there are 3 types of interfaces for those darn firewire cables: 4 pin, 6 pin and 9 pin. As luck would have it, the cable I bought was a 4-to-6 pin (the camera has a 4 pin output, so that end has to be 4), but the new card requires a 9 pin. So we really need a 4-to-9 pin cable. A quick look at the websites for the various stores so far shows no availability of such a cable locally. There are 4-to-6 cables, 6-to-6, 9-to-9 and other variants, but no 4-to-9. We did find a 4-to-9 cable in an online store, but we'd rather not wait another 3 weeks to get this last part. We'll go take a look at a few local stores to see if there is maybe a way to get this locally.

Needless to say, this is a very frustrating process. All we wanted was two pieces of hardware to connect our camera to the laptop. We thought we knew the specs of what we needed. Turns out, there's more than one (or 2) types of PCMCIA cards, and more than 1 (or 2) types of firewire cables. The proliferation of standards is just such a pain in the behind for the average consumer, and there's nowhere you can find any resources to guide you with your purchase. Even most of the computer stores we went to had no idea what we were talking about when we asked for the parts by name. I can't imagine someone who's not working in high tech trying to get this stuff. Very frustrating!

Hopefully our last step in this unnecessarily long process doesn't take too long. Once I can get the video from the camcorder to the laptop, I will probably post a few short clips, to show you it was all worthwhile. Of course I will first have to find, install, configure and learn some kind of video editing software...

I think that's probably long enough of a rant for one day :)

Take care!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Still no news...

about FIL. Waiting for a meeting with the neurosurgeon, crossing our fingers! And sending positive vibes... We may have to go to London (ON) to visit sometime soon.

In the meantime, we're making a bit more progress on the basement front. We put brand new covers on the old ugly posts in the basement. Unfortunately the first glue we tried didn't work very well, so we'll have to re-glue... But in a few days, we should really be done with the whole basement renovation. And then I promise to post those pictures (the camera battery is needs recharging).

In the meantime, I thought I would post another barn picture, as promised in my profile, from a different season. Here's one from September 2003:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The good, the bad and the ugly...

Here's some good news: tonight I managed to touch up the paint on the baseboards and the quarter rounds in the basement. So as of today the basement flooring project can be considered done. Yay!!! Pictures to come very soon (once we move the furniture back to where it belongs).

Now from the adventure archive... Last week the driver's side headlight fried in the Audi. Which is doubly annoying, because the car has some kind of detection mechanism to diagnose it, and beeps loudly whenever you start it. It's not easy to access the headlight, so it wasn't something we were going to change ourselves. Luckily our mechanics are great and told us to drop by anytime to get it fixed. But I had been too busy to actually go there during the week. Then last Thursday, I was driving back home from my volleyball game downtown, at around 10pm, just so eager to get home, minding my own business. Some guy in an old beat up car with a makeshift back seat window made out of duck tape pulls out across the street, driving slightly erratically. As I am thinking "where are the cops when you need them?", I notice a police car on the side of the road. The cop pulls out, and starts to drive behind me. He follows me for a few blocks, and then puts on his lights... So I pull over trying to get out of his way, and he proceeds to pull over behind me. I could not believe it! I've never, ever been pulled over by the police, so I was very shocked. The cop comes over to let me know that I have a headlight out. I told him that the car lets me know about it :) He says he has to give me a "72 hour", which is basically a ticket that you can get cancelled if you show up at the police station showing that whatever problem has been fixed. And then he asks me for the papers. I found my driver's license, but couldn't find anything else (except for some expired papers). So I got another "72 hour", which was really lucky. Of course by the time I got home, DH showed me all the appropriate papers in the car (where I had looked, though I guess I was a little too nervous). Anyway, I got both tickets cancelled the next day (after a quick trip to the mechanics'), but it was still quite an adventure...

And in the not so fun news, one of my good friends at work decided to quit last week, to pursue a graduate degree. It's really good for her, and I am happy she's pursuing her dreams, but it will be kind of sad without her around. We've been having lunch together every day at work for years now, so it will be a big difference...

And just hot off the presses (DH just talked to his sister), FIL had a few other MRIs, and went through an epilepsy clinic, and they're now pretty much convinced it's a tumor. I guess in a way it's good news, because there's a diagnosis, but it's also very scary... We'll keep you posted!

Good night!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Basement weekend (again)

I am sure you're getting bored with hearing me talk about the basement renovations... The good news is that it only needs another weekend or so to be completely finished. This weekend we managed to cut, paint and install all the quarter rounds, so all that's left is touching up the freshly installed baseboards and quarter rounds, and installing column covers over the ugly columns in the center of the room.

This weekend, IKEA had some wardrobes for sale for $100 (it's called Alleby wardrobe, but there's no good links for it on their site). For such a low price, how can you go wrong? So we bought 3 of them, and even assembled one. They will provide storage in the newly finished basement room. They're not too hard to assemble, though they're not the most sturdy thing out there (but for the price, I didn't expect much). I don't think they would survive being disassembled and re-assembled very well. But they should fit our need just fine. So that's another thing that still needs to be done: assemble the two remaining wardrobes. And then I can start migrating some of the mess from upstairs into an organized mess in the basement :)

In other news, this morning we woke up to a beautiful carpet of snow all over the yard. Yes, winter has finally decided to arrive. It's very pretty, all pristine white everywhere. And lots of fun to be had in the all-wheel-drive, winter-tire claden and equipped with stability control vehicle. I had a blast driving in to work this morning :) DH had to drive the trusty old probe, but even his drive in wasn't too bad (not too much traffic so early in the day, and in town the snow was just starting). Maybe there's some hope for winter yet ;)

Time to get back to work!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Long time no write

Yes, I've been slacking... Well, at least when it comes to blogging :) We had a pretty busy weekend, and even weekdays have been pretty filled the last week or so. We've finally resumed working on finishing the basement. It's only been going on for 2 years now :O But the end is in sight! For over a year the only thing that was left to do was baseboards and quarter rounds. Well, as of Sunday, the baseboards have been installed! They just need a bit of touch-up paint, and they're ready to go. We need another free weekend to do the same with the quarter rounds, and the basement floor will be officially done. It will be a great accomplishment, although we do feel quite guilty for procrastinating so long on something that only takes 2 weekends to do...

I'll post some photos of the stages of our basement "upgrades" next time I post from home. With the fake fireplace, and some furniture strewn around the room it's starting to look like an inhabitable space, and not the ginormous cavern it used to be :)

To get the baseboards installed, we needed a nail gun, and so we proceeded to a Canadian Tire store to get it. Usually, I avoid shopping for at least a whole month after Christmas (being all "shopped out"), so this was the first time I got to see the Canadian Tire parking lot in early January. I could not believe the number of cut Christmas trees still in the lot, that never got sold. It's so sad that all those trees have been cut, and are now pretty much useless (well, except maybe for mulch or something). Christmas trees always present me with a dilemma. We always had fresh cut Christmas trees at home, as big as we could possibly fit into the house! So I always associate the smell of the sap and the evergreen with the Christmas season, and find it hard to imagine celebrating the season without a fresh tree standing in the corner. On the other hand, I have some concerns about buying live Christmas tree, mostly because of the environmental impact (big waste, and poor forestry practices associated with the business).

One year we went to a "cut-your-own" lot (where at least few trees get wasted, and some are left to grow to full size), but we ended up with an infected tree with bugs that were quickly eating up the needles. We had to throw out the tree a few days after Christmas, because we were afraid the bugs would attack our furniture or something. It was pretty gross, and I even had nightmares of the bugs eating through our floor for a few months after that...

Then another year we bought a tree in a pot. We figured we would use it as a Christmas tree, and in the spring we would plant it in the back yard. Sort of a slow re-forestation process for our back forty. Unfortunately, I was pretty clueless about this. We had been storing the tree out on our deck, and brought it in for the Christmas season. When all was said and done, I brought it back onto the deck. Going from the temperate climate of inside the house to the dead of winter killed the tree pretty much on the spot... This is probably an experiment worth repeating, keeping the tree indoors until the spring. But it requires andvance planning, because it's hard to find potted evergreens in November, when all the nurseries have closed...

This year we cut a tree that was on its way out anyway, so that made the decision easy. We definitely have a bunch of adequate Christmas-like trees in the back yard, but I'd rather see them grow and multiply rather than cut them down. I would love to have more trees growing back there, though so far all our efforts to plant new ones have been thwarted (mostly by the animal population deciding to munch on the tasty new greens...).

So that's my rant about Christmas and evergreens and trees in general :)

Take care!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Guilty pleasures...

We just finished watching season 2 of the TV series Lost, that a coworker lended me over the holidays. It's not my all-time favourite TV show - that honour belongs to Buffy the Vampire Slayer - but it's pretty darn close. The writing of this show is really good, and trying to keep track of all the connections on the show, as well as guess what the heck is going on, is good mental gymnastics. We watched the whole 22 episodes in less than a week, which has to be a testament to the enjoyment factor of the show.

I'm really trying to reduce the number of hours I spend in front of the TV, so I generally try not to get hooked on new shows, but sometimes something falls through the cracks. Like when a coworker hands me a whole season of a show, telling me I have to watch it, cause it's just that good. How can I resist that? Of course that's also how the whole Buffy obsession started, when a friend loaned us season 1 on DVD. And now we own all 7 seasons ourselves, plus a few seasons of Angel. Speaking of which, we still have Angel season 5 to watch :)

There's no better way to watch a TV show with an arc than on DVD. It's faster (no commercials), more enjoyable, and you can really binge when you feel like it. I am speaking from experience here ;)

That's my guilty admission for the day!

Have a good one!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007!

And so it is the new year! Happy New Year everyone, hope your wishes for 2007 all come true!

I have no idea what 2007 has in store for us, but I dare hope at least some of it will be good.

Last night we celebrated the arrival of the new year at our friends' place. We ate tons of homemade authentic chinese food (yummy!), and met a few new people, had interesting conversations about travel (one couple had just come back from a trip to Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong and a few other places - 10 different planes!). Then we watched the movie Talladega Nights, a very light fare! We came back home in the freezing rain, so the driving was a little dicey, but we made it back no problem, just took a little longer than usual. And today we just plan to relax, watch a few episodes of the second season of Lost, eat leftovers and not think too much about going into work tomorrow ;)

I'm leaving you with the latest picture of Tiger, the neighbour's cat. Isn't she cute?