Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life Without Cable

When we dumped DirectTV last year and signed up for Netflix I wasn't really sure how this would turn out. 
 That was more than six months ago and I'm here to tell you that it is working out better than expected. 
We picked up a digital antenna to pick up local channels but we can only get two stations reliably at our house.  We also picked up a Chromecast for $20.  Chromecast allows us to play YouTube or Netflix from an iPad directly onto the TV.  You can also push any web browser screen on your computer over to the TV which is good for other video sources.

I don't tend to watch a lot of television so I didn't anticipate problems.   The ones that watch the most television are the ones I was concerned about. It turns out the kids actually like Netflix better than cable and in sixth months nobody in the house has ever asked for cable.

As we move forward in this new world Netflix has started to produce their own content and it is excellent.  House of Cards is a terrific series and cable companies should be nervous.  There is no reason to pay them $100 a month for what they give you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Key in the Wall

Sticking out of the plain block wall the familiar shape of a key caught my eye.  

Who put a key in the wall?  What does it do? Why would they leave the key in it?  I walked over to investigate this key and I was tempted to turn it.  There were no other markings along the wall and no labels to indicate what would happen when I turned it.  

I've played many adventure games over the years and this key stirred my imagination.  As the key clicked a small portion of the wall slid back and opened to reveal a hallway lit with a single bulb.  The walls glittered gold in the tunnel.  

This seemed like the kind of key that someone would wear around their neck.  It's too high up, and too special of a spot, for the key to be bulked onto one of those key rings that you see in the movies.  

After I took my photo I moved across the room and watched.  I wanted to see if someone would come over and collect the key.  Would the owner look like a janitor or wearing a tie?  That person never came and nobody else seemed to notice this mysterious wall feature.  

The next time I visit this location I may bring a flash light and be prepared to enter the golden tunnel that will be revealed when I turn the key. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Another video! (with snow)

Here's a short video from the hike we took this weekend while there was still snow on the ground.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hiking - in the snow

Saturday morning I got up and decided I wanted to try and get a hike in before all the snow melted.  This was a rare opportunity and it was worth giving up a lazy day in front of the TV.

On my way out of the house I grabbed my son off the couch and took him with me.
We drove up to Jones Gap State Park and saw almost no snow on our entire drive.   The winding road that lead to the park entrance was the first place we really started to see snow.  Down in this valley, there was plenty of white to hike in.

We headed up one of the newer trails that took us to Rainbow Falls.  When I say "headed up", I mean it.  This trail was a climb the entire 2 miles.

We didn't see anyone on the trail but we saw footprints in the snow.  We discussed how many people we thought we would see based on the footprints.  We decided that there were two or three people and a dog.
As we approached the top we saw our first people headed down.   Sure enough there was a dog.  We scored a point on that one.  But there was a problem with our guess.  There were not two or three people in this group, there were five.   My son looked at me after we passed them and asked if maybe some of them rode on the dog on the way up.

After many breaks, we finally made it to our goal of seeing Rainbow Falls.

We made quick time on the way out.  I contribute part of that speed to the promise of food that I gave my son.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


The blizzard has come and gone but it sure was exciting.
Here's a photo run down of how the storm came and went. . .

On Tuesday I went to work and it snowed for a few hours but didn't seem to bother travel very much.

Wednesday was the day the real storm hit.  I headed into work early but left after a few hours when the snow started coming down good.  We were getting reports at work that travel was getting more difficult.

By Wednesday afternoon we were ready to go sledding.  Driving didn't really seem possible so an army of us grabbed some sleds and headed to the park on foot.

Thursday morning I got up early and worked from home for a few hours.  Then I headed I took a walk into town to see what was happening.  It turned out nothing was happening.  It was really quiet out there.

Sometime after lunch on Thursday the sun appeared and the piles of snow started to melt away quickly.  By 3pm only the shady areas held any snow and the roads were looking clear.

Here's a few more photos from our winter storm:

We might get snow once a year, but getting this much comes pretty rarely.  That means when it happens you have to make the most of it.  I think we did.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thinking Like a Teen

I want to tell you two things about this photo of my son climbing a fence.

1. The end of that fence is just out of the frame on the left.  He could have walked around to enter the yard.
2. There is a gate in the fence just beyond those two trees.  It wasn't locked.

When I asked what he was doing he explained that it was more fun to jump the fence rather than walk around.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Sometime over the past few months this thing was erected.  Well, I feel like it was over the past few months but honestly I don't know.  What I do know is that the blinking light at the top of the tower can be seen from my bedroom.  More specifically, from the bed.  Try sleeping with a red or white (it seems to change depending on the day of the week) light blinking in your face all night.  It might be time to re-arrange the bedroom furniture.
Blink. Blink. Blink. All. Night. Long. Every. Night.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Ice Racing!

We finally got some snow!  Last week on Tuesday afternoon this white stuff started coming out of the sky and people FREAKED OUT!

I stayed at work and mentally prepared myself for the drive home.   More treacherous than the slippery roads was the other drivers.   On one extreme you have the majority of drivers that under estimate their ability and max their speed at 10mph.  On the other extreme you have guys in 4-wheel drive trucks that over estimate their ability and try hitting the 45mph regular speed limit.   More often, it was the guys in that 2nd group that I saw sitting in a ditch.

I made my way through traffic, passing cars left and right at the blazing speed of 30mph.   As I made my way into town I saw a car slipping back on a hill with a line of cars behind.  I was in the fast lane not slipping at 30mph.  Maybe I was just lucky.

I got home at sunset and there were about fifteen kids in my yard and the yard across the street sledding.
We stayed out until after dark sledding with the neighbors to enjoy the rare snow.

The next morning I got up like usual and made my way to work.  Thankfully most people were scared to leave their homes and there was very little traffic for me to deal with.  I saw some limited areas of ice on the road but honestly, the conditions were not that bad if you remained alert.

A coworker texted me that I should be careful on the road that he saw ten cars wrecked that morning.  I replied that I had only seen one but I may have missed some because I was driving so fast.

By Thursday the roads were back to normal with people back to not paying attention.  I'm going to miss the days I had of ice racing my way to work.  Maybe we'll get another chance before Spring hits.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Repair the Repair

Friday was a planned vacation day and it started out sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee with my bride.   We were talking about the great day ahead of us when we looked out into the yard and I asked her why she thought there would be so much water forming a small lake near the road.

We haven't had any rain and the there wasn't enough snow to make this much water.  A little further up the yard Cari felt like she saw something shining in the light.  We walked out to find that a small spring had formed in our yard.  A few shovels of dirt later I uncovered the broken pipe spewing water into the yard.

It was pretty clear that the tree roots running over and under the pipe had finally caused enough pressure to snap a fitting in half.

We made a trip to Lowe's and picked up the supplies we would need.  We even picked up some extra fittings!

The bottle of PVC glue suggests a minimum of 2 hours of set time before adding pressure to the pipes.   This was the longest 2 hours ever as we waited to see if the repairs would hold.   We were dealing with some odd angles and I wasn't confident in the last fitting.   If you have ever worked with PVC pipe you might know how hard it can be to get that final fitting in.  To get a tight fit you have to have some flexibility somewhere in your line and I didn't have much.  You also only get about 30 seconds of time before the pieces start to set.

Just before our dinner guests were to arrive we turned the water back on and waited.  It looked great!  I rubbed my hand around the fittings trying to detect water.  On the last one I felt a small bead of water under the fitting.

After I finished kicking my feet on the ground and crying I went back to look at the pipes and saw what was equivalent to a slow dripping faucet.  We left it on for the night and then on Saturday morning I headed back to the store for some pieces to repair the repair.

With the second repairs completed I felt a little more confident in my work but had to wait another 3 hours (due to lower temperatures) before I would know the results.

And the results after having the water on all Saturday night. . .with a paper towel down to detect drips.

No leaks!  I'm officially plumber!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Birthday Girl!

I'm still not allowed to disclose her age, but she is beautiful!

Happy Birthday to Cari!