Posted by pete on 31st January 2007
Archive for January, 2007
Posted by pete on 26th January 2007
After Saturday’s good results, we brought the bedroom things in Monday night. We let the bed warm up a couple days and Wednesday night, I slept in it. No bites in the morning, but my brain likes to play tricks on me. Last night, I slept in the bed again, but this time, Lisa joined me. This was a big test and, while I have been kind of used to sleeping in our bedroom since it got infested and used to being a “test meat,” she’s not used to it. It was a very tough night for her. I kept telling her that, if she wanted to, she could go back into the guest bedroom for me to test a bit more, but she chose not to. This was probably the right thing to do for the long run, but it’s gonna make for a few miserable days until she comfortable with the idea that she’s not going to be snacked upon during the night.
One thing the exterminators told us after the first fumigation was that we might get “hysterical bites”. Maybe the adjective is correct, but the word carries too many negative, insulting connotations. The day after we slept in our bed after the initial fumigation, we were bitten numerous times. The exterminators were initially telling us they were hysterical bites. It wasn’t until I had captured numerous bugs for them to see that these were not “hysterical,” they were just “ineffectual.”
It’s been over these past two nights that I’ve gotten a better understanding of what they mean by hysterical bites. I’ve woken a few times when I could swear I felt a bite. Never mind that I’ve never actually felt any of the real bites — this time, I know there’s a bug there! Quick, flip on the light, examine the bed, examine the area of the “bite” — nothing. The brain’s a funny thing. I think Lis experienced more than a few of these moments last night, suppressing many of them. I really want to help her, but I think I’ve done as much as I can. All I can do now is assure her that I understand how she’s feeling and, really, I don’t mind waking up for these spastic bed checks.
Overall, though, I think it’s looking good for signaling the all clear. We’ve allowed our hopes to get raised and subsequently dashed too many times for us to be truly excited about this, but with every bite-less night we spend there, I think the excitement is growing. Still, I think we’re both looking at each other, silently wondering when the other shoe will drop. When the bug hordes will be unleashed upon us, ambushing us in bed some night, long after we’ve declared victory?
Posted by pete on 22nd January 2007
Lately, Lis and I have been on a movie watching kick. We even re-signed up for Netflix. We used to be members, but the movies just sat around forever until we finally sent them back, unwatched. Between the monthly Netflix fee and the amount of time each movie sat, it probably would have been cheaper for us to just purchase the DVD. This time, we’re trying to not let the movies sit as much and I’m trying to be more open minded about what I watch. I think Lis is too, which is cool for both of us.
Our recent movie kick has covered three different sources: “MirrorMask” from Netflix, “Almost Famous” from our DVD collection, and “Deliverance” from the TiVo. (Sweet, sweet TiVo….)
“MirrorMask” was interesting. I’m pretty sure my interest in this wouldn’t have been enough to get me to the theater, but I’m glad we saw it. It was quite interesting visually. The story was about an artistic, adolescent girl, her mom, and how she deals with her mom’s sudden illness. Oh, and they’re a circus family. Very interesting visuals. Decent story. Maybe a 6.5 on a 1 – 10 scale.
“Almost Famous” is a DVD I got for some birthday or Christmas in the past, but get lost somewhere along the way. I liked it so much, I asked for it again for this past Christmas. Lis finally acquiesced to watching it and enjoyed it too. The music is good and does all kinds of nice nostalgia things for me, although I was too young for the time period of the movie. 8/10.
“Deliverance.” When I was in grad school, I lived for a year with some kayaking folks. The really seemed to love this movie. They were sick, twisted people and fun to have around. It’s a hard movie to deal with. I think this is mostly because some of the characters are pretty easy to relate to. There are lots of, “What would I do in that situation?” moments. Overall, a pretty gripping story. Also an 8/10.
Posted by pete on 21st January 2007
Finally? Maybe. Most of our bedroom stuff is still outside, but we wanted to test whether the bugs were out or not before bringing the bed back in or buying a new one. No sense in worrying about the bed if that’s not where the bugs are.
So, with that in mind, Lis and I came up with an agreement. She would do her best to make something in the place where our bed used to be that is more comfortable than “floor and a pillow” and I’d sleep in it / sacrifice my body. A few extra comforters, some clean sheets, and a quilt, along with a spare pillow later, she had completed her part of the deal. I know from my previous experience, that when I do the “donate my body to the bugs”-thing, I have a hard time sleeping (for some reason or the other). I also know that I should check for bugs about two hours after I go to bed. This time, I figured I’d go to bed later so that I actually had a chance of falling asleep. No such luck. I got to bed a little after 1am, but could not sleep very well. Around 3am, Lisa came in (today’s her morning to sleep in, so she went out with friends) and we checked for bugs. (A fun couples activity if I ever heard one!)
Now, normally, this is where we find the bugs and I move back to the guest bedroom bed. Nothing. We found no bugs. I went back to (trying to) sleep on the pseudo-bed and Lis went to bed in the guest room. A few times during the night, I was sure I felt them on me, but when I turned on the flashlight and looked around, nothing.
I would seem that the bugs are gone. I feel itchy in a few places, but most of that can be explained by dry skin and the fact that my brain hates me. I don’t want to say for sure that they’re gone — the bites can take some time to appear — but it’s looking good.
The next step will be for us to bring back in the bed, night stands, and lamps and see if the problem comes back. We’ll probably bring them in a bit at a time to eliminate variables. Let’s see if the recent cold-snap has done it’s job and finished them off. I’d be sooo happy if the bug saga is over, especially if we can get out of this without buying more bedroom furniture or paying the exterminators any more.
Posted by pete on 18th January 2007
The Cox guy, Joe, arrived last Wednesday with three cable cards. The first worked right out of the box. The second didn’t and neither did the third. He said that that’s about typical. There are two types of cards they carry: the “old” cards and “2006″ cards. The old card have about a 1 in 3 failure rate, whereas the 2006 cards a 1 in 20. A 5% failure rate is definitely better than a 33% failure rate, but still, 5% is higher than it should be.
With three cards down and one slot still waiting to be filled, Joe did something I really appreciated. I’m not sure it was because of a strong commitment to customer service or he just didn’t want to come by again. He called around to other Cox installers in the area to see if any of them have a spare 2006 cable card. He found one out in Centreville and went out to get it. He returned about 40 minutes later with the card, popped it in, and a couple minutes later, we had a happy second tuner. I’m very happy with him doing this. He did a good bit to pull my opinion of Cox techs out of the sewer.
So now we’ve had TiVo series three loving for the past week. How have we liked it? It’s been pretty nice. Compared to the Cox DVR, it’s a wild frenzy of lovin’. My only complaint about the TiVo right now is that the front display won’t stay at the “bright” or “regular” brightness setting after you set it. It’s normal setting (“dim”?) is too low for us to really see from the couch. After calling TiVo tech support, I found out that it’s a software problem that’ll be fixed in the next software release, which should be “in a few weeks.” Annoying, but if this is the worst thing we have to say about the TiVo, we’re golden.
A lot of the bedroom stuff (bed, night stands, lamps, etc.) is still out on the back deck, shrouded in blue tarps. I’d like to give the bedroom a test run before bringing the stuff back in, though. I figure, while uncomfortable, it’ll help reduce some variables. If I get bit more, we’ll know that the problem runs deeper than the stuff on the deck and that buying a new bed will just infest that too. I really hope that it’s an uneventful night (or at least few hours) and that this extended stay in the cold outside will be enough to finally rid us of these damn bugs.
Posted by pete on 10th January 2007
Part the first: TiVo
Our series 3 TiVo arrived yesterday. It shipped much quicker than we thought it would. After Lis sent to bed, I set it up: no need for her to see this sausage made. <beep> <boop> <bong!> Oh joy! We got our TiVo back and it’s looking sweet. I can’t wait to play with it when the cable cards are installed, which should be this evening. After we’re sure the cable cards are working, the hated Cox DVR will be banished from our house!
Part the second: Apple TV
*sigh* We’re such gadget and Apple freaks these days. While the iPhone sure looks nice, our Cingular contract isn’t up until November and it’s freaking expensive: $599 with a 2 year commitment to Cingular for the 8GB version. I’m sure we’ll get iPhones at some time, but most likely not any time soon after they’re released in June. I’ll wait for Grumpy (who, apparently, seems to have stopped blogging…) and Dave to be the first movers on this.
On the other hand, I’m very interested in Apple TV. So much so, we’ve already ordered one. I’ve hooked my Macbook Pro into our home theater system before, but it’s been awkward and not a great experience. Most of that’s because of our setup, but it’s still our setup and something we have to deal with every time we want to display something from the computer on the TV. The Apple TV device should work nicely with our media and should make things very simple. It should ship in February. I’m sure I’ll be writing something about it once we get it.
Part the third: Receivers
The Apple TV (ATV) does seem to be complicating one thing though. It’s got two video output methods: HDMI (digital video and audio) and component (analog video) with either optical (digital) or RCA (analog) audio. The max resolution pushed by the ATV is 720p, which is easily reached by our TV.
The problem is, we got our home theater system in mid-2000, before any of these digital connections where anywhere near popular (and quite possibly not even commercially available). Our TV has only analog inputs, including only one component input. Our receiver has only two component inputs and two optical inputs. (Well, it’s got other, lesser-quality analog inputs too.) We currently connect the receiver’s component output to the TV’s component input. This leaves us two component video inputs and two optical audio inputs on the receiver. One component and one optical input is used by the DVR player. The other component and optical inputs are used by the Cox DVR (boo! hiss!) and, soon, the TiVo (the crowd goes wild!).
Where’s the Apple TV to go? I could downgrade one of the other devices to an S-video connection with analog audio: probably the DVR. Honestly, I doubt the video or audio quality will be noticeable, but, unfortunately, I’ll know and I know my OCD-light brain will be bothered to no end by it.
I’ve been casually looking at new receivers. The problem with this is that, in order to take full advantage of all the digital inputs, I’ll need to use a digital output and that means also replacing the TV. (Many devices won’t output signal received via a digital input to the analog output. If they do, it’s usually intentionally degraded. Just another wonderful aspect of media and electronics companies treating their honest customers like thieves.) There’s a TV I’ve been eyeing for a while, but there’s been too much spending lately and this cascade of upgrades needs to be arrested some. I think the best move right now is to deal with our current receiver and TV for a while; I’ll do my best to ignore that nagging voice.
Posted by pete on 8th January 2007
Operation Deep Freeze or, at least, Slight Chill, has begun. Lis and I took the mattress, box spring, bed frame, night stands, lamps, and other assorted master bedroom stuff out onto our deck for at least 72 hours of 50Â° or less weather. We got a couple big tarps at Lowes yesterday and used them for completely covering the furniture. Here’s one of the few times in life where I’m hoping for cold, cold weather.
Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to just be cold enough to meet our requirements over the next three days. I don’t feel very good about it being so close to 50Â°, so we might just leave the stuff out until the next predicted cold snap: Jan 16th through the 22nd, where it’s supposed to be solidly in the low 40Â°s and high 30Â°s.
This is our last best chance to get rid of the bugs. That is, it’s our last chance to get rid of them if they are in our bed. Our big fear is that they weren’t coming from the bed but from somewhere else. We’ll try killing the bugs with cold, bring the bed back in, sleep in it and get bitten more. We’ll go out and get a new bed, only to have the problem continue. If that happens, then we just wasted big bucks getting a new bed and are now in the same place we were in before. Of course, we have no other real option.
They haven’t migrated, which is good. They’re supposed to be able to detect CO from about 100′ away, which should include all of the bedrooms, yet — knock on wood — we haven’t been bitten in the guest room and G hasn’t been bitten in her room (although they’d have a heck of a climb to get up where she is). This kind of leads me to believe that they are in the bed somewhere. For the last couple months, the legs of the master bed have been sitting in plastic dishes that were loaded with bug poison. They don’t jump or fly, so their only egress would be the legs. Over time, the liquid’s dried up, but I bet that there’s enough poison residue to still keep them away (if they can sense it).
Let’s hope that it all ends here or at least on the 22nd, which gives us one week to test things out before Lisa’s surgery.
Posted by pete on 6th January 2007
Lord help me if a large catalog of legal, DRM-free music ever becomes available on-line; an iTunes (Music) Store without the terrible DRM. I’m an eMusic subscriber now and it’s pretty good, but I’d love to have more non-indy content. Well, I’d love it, bit our bank account probably wouldn’t, unless it’s available under terms similar to those of eMusic: 90 (or 75, if you’re a newbie) downloads a month for $20.
Posted by pete on 6th January 2007
Guess we’ve only got a couple more weeks to keep bitching about the Cox DVR. Now, let’s see if we can get the Cox cable cards to get here shortly after the TiVo.
Excuse me now while Lis and I go dance a little Happy TiVo jig…..
Posted by pete on 3rd January 2007
With the new year started and the (my) typical left-side of the calendar optimism, here’s something to really fill you with joy.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
And while we’re at it, why not look at some favorite toys from years past. Jarts rocked!