Friday, September 25, 2009

Goodbye Comcast Cable

Hello Dish Network!

After getting our last Comcast bill, well, it was way too much. Marci and I started talking about satellite TV and seeing that it was quite a bit cheaper than Comcast. Basically, it came down to DirecTV and Dish Network.

The past few days, I've been on the phone with both companies, as well as researching on the internet. Both have their positives (cheaper than cable, better picture, more channels) as well as their negatives (dish on house, possible interruptions in service by weather, have to install new equipment).

The channel packages are pretty much the same. The package I ended up getting with Dish Network, the Silver 200, does have AMC so I can continue my Mad Men addiction, however, it's in standard def. Also, no more National Geographic channel, so goodbye to my pal, Cesar Millan. The pricing for HD channels ($10.00/month) and equipment pricing ($7 to $10/month) was about the same. So, after researching, to me it came down to one main difference:

Equipment.

With DirecTV, if I have 3 TVs in the house (which we do), I'd need to have 3 receivers installed. One HD receiver downstairs, one upstairs, and one SD receiver in the bedroom. Sure, they're "free", but I didn't want all that hardware.

Dish Network has these dual tuner DVRs that are pretty slick. For our 3 TVs, we are able to get by with 2 receivers. One HD downstairs, and one HD-DVR upstairs. What's cool about these is with the dual tuner capabilities, we can have the upstairs TV on HD while our little SD TV in the bedroom runs off the other tuner. It sends the SD signal through the existing cable to do this. The technician put a little antenna on the back of the box in the front room and we're using a remote in the bedroom to control it.

Pretty slick!

Anyway, it's working fabulously upstairs. The picture is great, even on the SD side. I'm able to record a show from the bedroom and watch it in HD in the front room. Or vice versa. Or record 2 separate shows and watch 2 previously recorded shows, if we desire. Slick!

So, downstairs, I was going to go with the HD receiver only, with no DVR. As I started realizing that I'd have to watch football on the SDTV or hog the other TV, I started to hyperventilate. I eyed our trusty Series 2 TiVo from way back when and brought that sucker downstairs.

With the dual tuner capabilities of the Dish Network's receiver, I'm able to send the SD signal to the TiVo, have the TiVo control the satellite receiver, and record shows that way! Yes, it's another box down here, but I'm not paying $12/month for the service, and sure, the shows will be recorded in SD (but transmitted via S-Video, at least!), but I'll get to watch them on my time, without bogarting the TV from Marci and the kids.

Right now, the TiVo is chugging away downloading and organizing show content from the Dish Network servers. That should be done shortly and then it'll be go time.

I love it when a plan comes together! Plus, saving about $50/month on TV bills is pretty nice too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Well, that was close

The past few days, I thought my hard drive was failing. I'd be downstairs and I'd hear a click from over here. My lights would dim for a second when I heard the click too, so I thought maybe I had a bad light bulb too.

Anyway, I turned off my computer and the sound was still there, so I knew it wasn't the CPU. Tonight, I finally sat at my computer and listened. Strangely enough, though my computer is to my right, the sound was to my left.

I heard it once more and looked that way and saw... the iron I plugged in sometime this weekend. I was going to iron a shirt and forgot all about it.

Yikes.

The good news is, the computer is fine! ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cakes n Cukes

This just in! Marci has a blog. The clever, clever title was gifted to her by Yours Truly. The content? All her, except for some pictures here and there.

If you couldn't already tell, Cakes n Cukes is a blog about cakes and vegetables, two of Marci's favorite hobbies. You can go there and check out what she's done the past few years. Hopefully she'll keep updating as time permits.

Sweet!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Went to see Dad today

It was good. Good to see Dad, so to speak.

We weren't sure how Haley would take it as she's still sensitive about Dad being gone and all. But she said she wanted to go and she was great when we were there. I put the kids on my shoulders (separately!) and let them see Dad in his, er, cabinet (he's cremated, in an urn, high on a glass shelf). I told them how happy he was to see them, how proud he was of them, how excited he was to see how big they've grown and that he missed them so much.

I told the kids some stories about Dad and they had a good laugh. I told them about a friend of mine that used to work at C&A. He was new to the country in '99 and my dad gave this guy his first job. The job at C&A allowed him to get to where he is at today. This guy happened to learn yesterday (power of Facebook) of Dad's passing and was really moved by it. He sent me a super nice note about his thoughts of Dad and I was happy to receive it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

One year later

Last year, I wrote this: link

This year, we're better, or as better as we can be. A year ago, I was pretty sure Dad was going to die. I just wasn't sure it was going to be so dang soon.

As some of you know, this has been a rough 364 days. I'll spare you the pity party, but suffice it to say, it's been the most difficult of my life. Having said all that, though, it's weird. I don't feel all that bad.

Sure, it'd be nice to be employed and out of debt. It'd be nice to have Dad around and stuff like that, but, truth be told, with all the drama in the past year, life isn't too bad. Let's be thankful for the following, in no particular order:
  • A loving, caring, compassionate, patient, wise, sweet wife. I do wonder sometimes how I roped her in and kept her here. I still have a LOT of work to do to be the man I want to be for her, but I'm trying every day.
  • Kids that try my patience every day, but also show me every day why I love being their dad.
  • A roof over our heads.
  • Supportive family and friends.
  • A dog that loves the heck out of us.
  • Good health.
I could go on and on, but those are the important things. I do hear about other people's problems and issues, and I realize things could be so much worse.

Anyway, that's enough of that. We're going to go see Dad tomorrow and see what's up.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

DIY R-Strap

Do a Google search on R-Strap and you'll find a ton of links indicating DIY (do it yourself) straps. Basically the R-Strap is a camera strap that allows you to wear your camera over your head and one shoulder, like a messenger bag. A company named Black Rapid in Seattle makes the strap and, apparently it's quite cool.

I found that the "free" Canon neck strap that came with my camera was too short to wear over one shoulder and too sweaty to wear over my bare neck. Most times, I'd just hold the camera in my hand and bunch the strap underneath.

When I saw the R-Strap and the DIY R-Straps, well, I just had to try making one myself. Most people used 1/4" screws of some sort to mount into the tripod socket. I had a few free minutes yesterday so I headed to Home Depot and spent $2.95 on some hardware. I picked up a .98 cent bag of 1/4" screws and eyes and a $1.97 locking ring. I had a guitar strap in the closet somewhere that looked to be perfect, so I put it all together today. Check it out.

Flickr link!!


Finished product
Originally uploaded by gwonchang

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Just a quickie

Quick update before the in-laws come downstairs to turn in and I have to give up my computer...

I heard today that I passed Phase 1 of the parking enforcement officer test! Now I get to go charm them with the interview portion of the application. That will happen in a few weeks or so, and is scheduled to go until the first week of October for all applicants. It's a long process, I guess!

The kids started school this week and so far it's been hit and miss. They seem to love it, and it's nice to have some no kid time, but man, when they get back? Whoo. It's crazy time. Riley is nuts and climbing on everyone/thing/dog. Haley has been ok, but today she had about an hour of COMPLETE INSANITY! I keep telling myself it's a transition thing and that they'll be better soon, but my patience is wearing thin. Maybe I need a bubble bath.

We (Lund Bros.) got offered a show at the Skylark by Jessie (the owner) for 9/19, but I had to turn it down as it's the one weekend that Chris is busy. So I ran it by the Scheme and we were all go, but then Gregg remembered that he had company in that week and had made plans. Ugh. I had to turn it down and now we're showless once again. I miss rocking out. Or rockin' out, if you prefer.

Been taking a lot of pictures and posting them to flickr.com. You can see a lot of them over there --->. Hope you're enjoying them.

I went to my neighbor's house today because they had a friend in town who was using a huge zoom lens to take pictures of birds. 400mm, I think. Now, I know next to nothing about lenses other than the lens he had was one big mofo. I took a peek through it and it was super cool. I don't need a lens that big, but a telephoto or zoom (or are they one and the same? I told you I knew next to nothing) would be cool, way down the road.

Bella is great, btw. She's a hoot every day and we all love her. She "graduated" from her discipline class, but she's far from disciplined. But, in reality, she's awesome and we are so lucky to have found her.

I guess this wasn't a quickie update after all. But I'll wrap it up now. See you later.