Everything Else

Whew! I haven’t really been that busy, but it feels like it has been a crazy week anyway. I think I have almost everything installed on the new computer now, which is great because it is one less thing stuck in an unsettled state. It turned out that the first motherboard was faulty (e-SATA port was not working), so I had to exchange it at Amazon for another one, which meant pulling out the first motherboard and installing the replacement. Kind of a hassle, but at least Amazon is great about returns so that part wasn’t a problem. And now everything seems to be working properly, so we should be all set.

Since I had to go to Amazon anyway to set up the exchange, I also took the opportunity to order the soundtrack for a movie that I rented from Netflix recently. The movie is “Once”, and it’s pretty much a story about a man and a woman and their journey when they are both away from home, but it’s told with a lot of music (the two main characters are musicians) and the movie is almost even a musical itself in some ways. I really liked the movie a lot, save for a bit of coarse language, and the music was just fabulous, so I wanted to get the soundtrack. In fact, I am listening to it right now as I write this post. If you listen to a few clips from the soundtrack on Amazon or iTunes and you are even remotely interested in the music then I would highly recommend the movie.


I started off the year well as far as blog posting goes, but you may have noticed that I have missed posting for a few days now. That’s because I’ve been working on the next step in our changes around here. As I mentioned in a previous post, those changes include replacing my previous desktop computer with slower one in the stereo rack down in the family room. Last Thursday I took apart my old desktop and gathered all of the parts that I intended to transfer to the new machine. Friday the new case and parts arrived, so I put the new machine together that evening, and other than a small problem with my wireless keyboard, everything went together pretty well. With slower components in place, the new machine runs very quietly and it also manages to stay pretty cool, which is great.

Saturday I tackled the big task of getting all of my stuff out of the closet in what will become Charis’s room. I had my remaining DVDs, a bunch of board games, my camera equipment, and various other odds and ends in the closet. I moved most of the stuff to a linen closet we have in the hallway upstairs, but some of the stuff went out to the garage and to a few other places around the house, and some of it migrated to our growing “give away” pile. I also moved the dsl modem and wireless router that had been in that same room elsewhere in the house. While I was working on that, Joy put away all of our Christmas decorations.

Saturday evening I started installing all of my various software programs on the new machine to get it to a usable state. It just takes a while to get everything installed and configured, but at this point I’m probably about 85% finished with all of that. Once the new machine was fairly stable I started running a DOD 7-pass wipe on all of my old hard drives to get them safely cleaned up and ready to go. Those wipes take a long time to run, but I eventually finished all of the old drives.

So here I am now on Monday night. It was a busy weekend, to be sure, but I feel like we made some real progress moving more stuff out of Charis’s future room. And I’m also writing this post from the new computer downstairs, which is another sign of progress. Once we move the rest of Joy’s craft stuff out of Charis’s future room, we should be ready to start painting.

In keeping a bit with the theme from my post yesterday, for one of my New Year’s resolutions I dropped all of the technology related blogs from my feed reader. For maybe the last fifteen years or so I’ve always been up to date about the latest new technology and gadgets. I could possibly make the argument that it’s been nice to be able to help people when they have questions about stuff, but I also know for a fact that keeping up to date on all of the latest gadgets and doodads has made me want to buy them. It’s made it easy to be unsatisfied with what I have and always wanting the newest thing instead. So I decided to try to just drop all of that information off my radar screen. We’re only a couple days into the new year and I already feel a little lost considering I “missed” Mac World earlier this week and I’ll “miss” CES at the end of this week. I know that sounds silly, but that’s how my mind thinks about it. I guess it’s kind of like an addiction of sorts. I’ve been addicted to too much information about too much stuff that in reality doesn’t really mean anything to me and that I don’t even remotely need. I’m hoping that not reading about all of the new things coming out will help me learn to be more content.

We live in a three bedroom house and have two kids. We have our bedroom and Charis has her own room, but up until now, Cai has been kind of a nomad without a place of his own because Joy and I have been using the third bedroom for Joy’s sewing and crafts and my desk, books, and other stuff. But Cai is coming up on two years old in a few months and eventually he will need a room of his own, so we decided to go ahead and make that happen now. It’s kind of been looming over our heads since Cai was born since we knew it was coming eventually, and I think it will be good when it’s finished, but the process of getting there has been a bit of a challenge.

We could just get a bigger house, but God provided this house for us, and we don’t feel like he’s telling us to move, so we’re operating on faith in that and attempting to be content in the place we are, even if it means some challenging changes for us. Staying in this house allows us to continue to give away money each month as we do now to various ministries and causes that are important to us, and though we could afford to get a bigger house, it would certainly change our financial situation and it would mean we’d have less money to give away. So we’re staying put and letting God teach us and stretch us through the experience.

The changes that challenge me the most are letting go of various things that just won’t work when we give up the craft room / office. As part of this process of condensing down to stay where we are, I’ve become acutely aware of how much “stuff” I have that I don’t really need. I feel like this is an opportunity for me to learn to let go and live more simply. As many of you may know, I’m a big collector of things that I am interested in, and one of the collections that I have is a fairly substantial pile of DVDs. But now I’m selling off most of my DVDs to save space and to get a little extra money to put towards the furniture we need for Joy’s craft storage and for Cai’s room. I’m still keeping some of the classic films that are out of print and unavailable through Netflix, and I’m keeping the Pixar and Jane Austen films that I love, but most of the rest are on the way out.

For many years now I’ve used a home theater projector in the family room so we could watch movies on a really big screen. But I sold that on eBay and we switched to a much smaller flat panel tv on the wall. It doesn’t provide the same big screen experience for watching movies, of course, but it’s still very nice. I guess I’m learning to be content without having to have the “biggest” or the “best”.

I’m also getting rid of my desktop computer. For quite a few years now, I’ve had a desktop computer that I kept up to date so that it was always pretty darn fast compared to current technology. But with a very fast computer comes a large case and lots of loud fans to keep things cool. Since I have a laptop, the only thing I really need in a desktop is a bunch of hard drive space for pictures, video, and other media. So I’m selling the fast desktop and getting a small media center case with average components and a good bit of hard drive space. I plan to stick it on the stereo rack in the family (it should run very quietly since it’s not made up of bleeding edge components, so it shouldn’t a big distraction in there) without a monitor, keyboard, or mouse, and I’ll just RDP into it when I need to work with various media files. I’m also going to lose my desk, and I won’t have a replacement for it in our new arrangement, but I can’t really do anything about that.

As pitiful as it may sound, I’m finding it a little hard to let go of my “stuff”, but I’m also finding a strange freedom in letting go. There is something kind of (not quite sure what the right word is) “unencumbered” about having less stuff around. It’s less stuff to worry about maintaining and storing. Getting rid of most of my DVDs makes it much easier to keep from buying more because there’s not a big collection that I want to add to. Switching to a much more average computer makes it easier to just leave it as it is instead of wanting to keep it up to date with the latest stuff. So now I’m renting DVDs from Netflix, buying books on my Kindle instead of on paper, and in general there is a lot less of the “stuff” that I own around me.

As we continue the process of clearing the way for Cai to have his own room, I’m sure that I still have quite a bit to learn, and hopefully I will continue to pay attention to the lessons in all of this. And when all of this is done, I hope we will end up with two parents who are a little wiser about “stuff” (and less attached to it) and two children excited to have their own individual spaces in our home.

Joy has been sick the past couple of days, so I was doing the ironing earlier tonight. I always iron in the family room because that’s where the stereo is and I like to listen to music while ironing so that I don’t go crazy (ironing is not exactly my favorite activity). I started out listening to A Fine Frenzy, but by the time I got a little more than half way through the album (there was a lot of ironing) I decided it was just too melodramatic, and I needing something livelier. So I started scrolling through the music collection and Abba was at the top of the list. Perfect. Nothing says “ironing fun” like a little bit of Dancing Queen, right? And for some reason I also really like Take A Chance On Me, The Winner Takes It All, and Does Your Mother Know (one of their rare songs with male lead vocals).


On most days (when she is well behaved), Charis gets to watch one 30 minute dvd or tv show. She usually watches it while Joy is preparing a meal or putting away groceries or something like that, so that Charis stays occupied while mom is busy. We have a couple of VeggieTales dvds and a pair of dvds of Christian children’s songs that Charis likes, but her very favorite is Sid The Science Kid on PBS. And I have to say, as far as children’s shows go, Sid is better than most. It’s educational as well as entertaining, and it has a lot of positive messages. Sid has positive role models in his mom and dad, grandmother, and teacher. My favorite part of the show is when Sid’s mom is driving him to school and he sings “I love my mom! (uh huh) My mom is cool! (uh huh)”. Charis sings that to Joy a couple of times a day and she also sings a dad version to me. It’s pretty cute. The only catch with Sid is that they have only produced 20 episodes so far, and we’ve seen them all a million times. We really need some new ones!


You know what’s crazy? I’ve now had over half a million spam comments left on my blog. Kind of insane, if you ask me.

Please do not adjust your monitor. Yes, it’s true, after more than a month away, I’m going to try to start posting again. Gasps all around. I can hear them from here.

One change you might notice is that I am going start posting monthly lists of del.icio.us links instead of weekly lists. I wasn’t crazy about how the weekly link posts kind of took over when I wasn’t writing many other posts. I hope the monthly link posts will reduce the clutter between posts of greater substance.

I’ve been holding out on buying an HD disc player until the whole Blu-ray vs HD-DVD thing gets sorted out. The players have come down in price to the point that they are getting to be pretty reasonable, but I don’t want to start buying media in a format that is destined to be the next betamax.

For a while it looked like the two formats might be reaching some kind of stalemate, but there was a bombshell announcement in the days leading up to CES at the beginning of the month: Warner was switching from HD-DVD to Blu-ray, giving Blu-ray a commanding lead in movie studio support. But would that make a real difference in market share? This morning The Digital Bits posted an amazing graph. On the left is the ratio of Blu-ray to HD-DVD player sales for the week ending 1/5, and on the right is the same thing for the week ending 1/12 (that’s the week before and the week after the Warner announcement). Wow! If this trend continues, the format battle is going to over sooner rather than later.

Blu-ray vs HD-DVD: Before and after the Warner announcement

This is not the kind of information you like to see when you track your package to find out why UPS didn’t deliver it today as expected:

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