Monthly Archives: March 2006

The Carbon Monoxide Elves

Becky and I arrived home today to find that the Carbon Monoxide Elves had visited us while we were away:

ppp|CO Detector

CO Detector

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As part of a new Massachusetts law:

For buildings with fossil-fuel burning equipment or enclosed parking areas, the new regulations require carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home and within ten feet of each sleeping area and in habitable portions of basements and attics.

At least we didn’t have to pay for it!

myBlog

I’ve been thinking alot lately about all the services that are out there that cater to the personal interests of their subscribers. Services like Bloglines, Google, the iPod, Yahoo and Tivo.

All of these systems allow the user to select specific content and custom design how they’d like to view (or listen to) that content. For instance, you can set up a google homepage that shows you your weather, news headlines, sports scores, etc. It will be completely custom and therefore different from the guy’s in the next cube over. Bloglines is a great product that pulls together all your favorite news sources, blogs and web goodness into one tight little package; you, of course, get to choose the ‘feeds’ that bloglines compiles for you.

On the surface these services are fantastic. I like not having to blog crawl daily to find out who’s updated and who hasn’t. I like getting the news headlines from places that are important to me (Beverly, Townsend, MV, Mount Vernon), and I love having all my favorite music on the iPod to listen to at a moment’s notice. These programs save time and frustration and have simplified ‘surfing the net’ for many people.

I worry, however, that having so many customizable options will turn us (or me specifically) into close minded, locally focused society unwilling to try new things. Our iPod is great at playing our favorite tunes, but lacks the ability to force us to listen to new artists or different types of music. Tivo is a little better, as it can ‘guess’ the kinds of things you’ll like based on what you’ve recorded before; but it still limits the bredth of programming you’ll see. Bloglines may show me my local news headlines, but if I haven’t selected an ‘internationally’ focused newsfeed then I won’t see foreign stories show up.

Channel surfing on tv or spinning the dial on the radio can give us the opportunity to discover new and interesting things. In the long run we may miss out because we never discovered how much we love jazz, since we never bought an jazz album from iTunes, and never heard it on the radio. We may never have heard the theory that the Sahara was once a lush, fertile region, since we never stumbled on that documentary on the Discovery Channel.

I hope that most folks out there are well balanced in the news they read and the music/shows/cultural interests they participate in. I hope that people are still growing and adjusting their tastes in music and literature and are recustomizing their tivo/ipod/feedreaders to reflect the change.

Our New Baby

No, not that baby. This one:

ppp|New Baby|ppp

(You can see all of the photos here.)

We purchased a Mac mini Core Duo on Saturday at the Rockingham Park Apple Store in Salem, NH (no sales tax!). We were originally thinking of getting the new iMac, but we opted to get the mini for several reasons:

  • We don’t need or want the built-in iSight that comes with the iMac.
  • We already have a good keyboard, mouse, and monitor.
  • I don’t like the mouse that comes with the iMac, anyway.
  • The mini is almost as fast as the lower end iMac we were considering, and way, way, way faster than the 450 MHz PowerMac G4 that was our main machine. For proof, check out the XBench comparison of these two specific machines.
  • We were able to get more RAM and hard drive space for the mini than we would have been able to afford with the iMac, due to the cost savings of not having the iSight, keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

We bought just the base model (512 megs RAM, 80 gb hard disk) at the Apple Store, so that we could buy less-expensive add-ons elsewhere. You can definitely feel the pinch with only 512 megs of RAM. When running several applications at the same time, for example iPhoto, Safari, Adium, and Mail, there is a bit of lag when switching back and forth, because the system has to take one application out of RAM and write it to disk, while reading another application off of disk and into RAM (also known as swapping). That should be solved, however, when the 2 GB RAM upgrade arrives from OWC later this week. More RAM means less swapping and less waiting when switching applications.

Beyond the lag when switching applications, performance is quite impressive. Most of the typical tasks like email, instant messaging, and web browsing aren’t dramatically faster than they were on the G4/450. It’s in the multimedia applications that the mini really shines. I haven’t had much chance to use iMovie, but iPhoto is extremely impressive… the speed is just amazing. I’m really looking forward to playing around with iLife ’06.

We’re also getting a miniStack v2 with a 320 gb, 7200 RPM hard drive, which will give us plenty of storage space, not to mention a faster disk than the mini’s included 5400 RPM model. It also provides some extra USB ports and extra FireWire ports (handy, since the mini only has a single FireWire port).

I’m pretty excited about this purchase, because it’s the fastest Mac we’ve ever owned. I started with a Mac clone in 1997, running with a 180 MHz PowerPC 604e processor. Then I bought a PowerBook G3 400 MHz in 2001, just after the first PowerBook G4’s were introduced. Most recently, we purchased a PowerMac G4 450 MHz to replace the Mac clone. Jumping up to a Dual Core 1.66 GHz is a huge step.

Yellow and Blue

My most recent read falls into the catagories “Books I probably should have had to read in high school but never did” and “I think my brother had to read it and hated it.”

Three women’s lives are interwoven in Michael Dorris’ novel A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. Ida, Christine and Rayona, three generations in one family, share the storytelling duties as they recount their lives in first person.

I got the distinct impression that this is one of “those” books that are required reading in high school to fulfill the “we need a book about women to counter-balance all the books about men” quota. Even so, it was a very good read offering insight into the lives of these three Native American Women.

Hometown 6 Edition 3

fff|ppp|First Baptist Churc

First Baptist Church

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Thanks to the fantastic weather yesterday (65 degrees and sunny) we had a perfect opportunity to get out and take some pictures for Michelle’s March Hometown Six.

This month’s challenge theme was “places of worship” and it just so happens that we have exactly 6 churches in walking distance from our house. What luck!

The six chosen photos are found here.

All the rest of the pics from our walk are here.

BabyWood Update

All the baby news you’ve been waiting for; and some you could probably live without!

As of this week I’ve been officially upgraded from the “once a month” Doctor’s appointment club to the “every two weeks” club. That’s exciting. Luckily my appointments take all of 15 minutes. I usually spend more time checking in and making my next appointment than I spend with the doctor.

And I’m okay with that. Everything is going along just swimmingly. I love hearing the heartbeat every time I’m there. I love hearing the nurses and the doctor proclaim “perfect” whenever they ‘do something’… like take my weight, measure my belly, hear the heartbeat, etc. It is comforting to know that things are going well, with little effort on my part.

The baby has been dancing up a storm in its own little uterine night club. It’s great that Peter can feel it from the outside, but most of the time I’ll say “oh! feel this!” and at that very instant the baby will freeze. My mom always says that kids will make a liar out of you every time. I guess this baby’s just getting a head start. “No, Peter. I promise there was dancing just a second ago! Really!”

We started our childbirth classes at the hospital this week as well. It is a six week course, once a week. There are 7 other moms and their partners in the class with us. The first night was, I think, a little awkward for everyone involved, but I suspect as time goes on it will get better. Most are in our age bracket, so I think once we get to know each other it will be much more comfortable.

Over all I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve gone headlong into the third trimester, and although I’m pretty tired most of the time, I still have plenty of energy when I need it. The walk to the train and to work (and back again) seems to take longer every week but I’m glad for the exercize.

Phew! That’s probably more than you wanted to know. If not, there’s the Baby FAQs off to the left there and you can always leave a comment!

Pseudo St. Pat’s

Last night, Jenny hosted a ‘Pseudo St. Patrick’s Day Party’ at her apartment. It was the first time we had been up there since she got some real furniture, and I must say it was quite a cozy place! Jeremy and Angela and Chris, Naomi and Carl were also there. We had plenty of good food, including Irish soda bread and some type of cheesy vegetable soup brought in by Mrs. Rainville. We also watched Darby O’Gill and the Little People, a funny little Walt Disney film from 1959 featuring none other than Sean Connery!

I had decided to just bring the camcorder, so I shot a bit of video and took a few photos. You can find the photos here. Alas, the camcorder’s built-in camera is just not that great at taking photos indoors in low light. Next time I’ll bring the real camera!

Mmm, meatballs

I wish that our blog had smell-o-vision. It is awfully hard to describe the wonderful smell coming from our kitchen right now. Becky is making meatballs and sauce. Yum!

ppp|Meatballs!

Mmmm

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As is our practice, this batch will be separated into plastic containers and then frozen. The resulting frozen packets can be used at any time to help make a delicious dinner!