Please use GoodSearch for your internet searches and select a charity (such as Dominican Sisters of Houston). Thank you.

stuff I might actually buy this year

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

D40 bd35k SOG flashlight hippo

Nikon D40 DSLR (good enough according to Ken Rockwell)
Panasonic DMP-BD35K
SOG S63 EOD eyeing it as a gift for a friend
L.L. Bean Solar Dynamo Radio Light
Fisher Price Amazing Animals Hippo (Thanks Natty!)

snackin' Christmas

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


off to midnight mass

This year, my volunteerism is not needed at any of the services at my parish. That leaves me free to attend midnight mass at the cathedral. Yay! We'll take off in a few minutes. Christmas carols precede the mass.

corn dog lunch

big photos of the shuttle

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Big Picture tells stories in B-I-G photos. Here's a set of photos of the shuttle.

NASA looking for rubber ducks

NASA offers $100 to first person to find their rubber duck.

PHOTO here.

new HDD

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brrrr. Pretty cold these days.

My friends, I have spent an inordinate, exorbitant amount of time setting up my new hard disk drive. My computer, from which I blog and do all things digital, has been a one-drive system from the day I bought it almost two years ago. I have gleefully acquired for myself another drive (hereon referred to as "HDD") and plunged into unfamiliar territory of setting it up; hence the crazy amount of time it took. In my case, I want the new drive to be my main, or "system" drive with a clean install including clean install of applications.

If you would like the full details, please e-mail me. In fact, if you ever have questions, please e-mail me. In brief, the tasks for setting up were:
(1) Decide how to partition the drive -- I opted for two partitions, a 30GB for the operating system and programs, and the remainder of the HDD for data. Both NTFS.
(2) Enable AHCI in the BIOS.
(3) Perform clean install of Vista. During installation, there is an opportunity to partition the HDD; that's when the partitioning happens. No need to pre-partition the HDD.
(4) Install Vista updates and drivers, especially for your motherboard, monitor, and graphics card. Also any drivers that will help your internet connection gain optimum speed. In my case, I had forgotten the password to the modem and had to get that reset ... it ended up being among the last things that got accomplished. Regarding Vista updates, if you have service pack 1 (SP1) alread downloaded, it probably would help speed things up. I had SP1, but couldn't find it when I needed it.
(5) Edit registry so that Vista will create user directories in the data partition, not the system partition. There may be other ways, I don't know.
(6) Create user accounts.
(7) Install applications.
(8) Copy files from the "old" user accounts to the user accounts on the new HDD. Very important that folder options be used to enable viewing of hidden files ... e-mails are under those. If you copy files into each folder under each user, then the Vista folder icons will remain intact. If you copy the whole user folder over, the folder icons will be just the plain ones.
(9) Perform any other set-ups for other applications. In my case, I set up Windows Media Center so that I can watch and record TV, where to save the recording, and also tell it where to find the recordings already in the older HDD. E-mail was already set up when I copied the e-mail folders over. However, it will require that you confirm your password on first login if you have the "remember password" option enabled.
update: (9b) If you have collected fonts over time, copy the fonts over to the new drive.
(10) Use the back up feature in Vista to back up the system partition onto DVD's so that you won't have to go through this craziness again. (I have Vista Ultimate ... other editions might not have this feature.)

After a month or so, I may delete the old files. Alternatively, I can back up the data files onto DVD and go ahead and wipe clean the old drive.

The details of hunting and searching for "how to's," of false starts, wrong paths, and "grumbling" (putting it nicely) are not included in the list.

Now that it's done, I can go back to being busy about other things. Happy computing to all!

monks chant

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I've been looking for a Gregorian chant CD by monks. Yes, I want all men's voices.

The Best Works of Gregorian Chant by the Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos Abbey turns out NOT to be what I'm looking for.

However, I kinda like the following two (and now I'm tired of searching and will stop here):
update: also here
I'm not sure what it is I'm looking for; perhaps a rich bass undertone (without tweaking the equalizer).

I'm leaning towards Chant Music for Paradise.

If y'all have a suggestion for other CD's along these lines, please drop me a note. Thanks.

random shot

Friday, December 12, 2008

I believe this is the chapel at University of the Incarnate Word

free rice

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Free Rice was a bit addicting for me. It's multiple choice on the meaning of a word. They'll give you the correct answer and eventually the ones you got wrong come back around.

I never got to level 50, though I tried until I'm falling asleep in my chair here.

The Advent Conspiracy

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

seen at Waiting for the day

The Advent Conspiracy


Monday, December 01, 2008

Consider it done. I replaced the bottom of the kitchen sink cabinet. The old bottom was fiberboard or pressboard and it crapped out after getting soaked. I removed the failed cabinet bottom and have put plywood in its place. I painted the plywood (after applying primer) with some trim paint I had lying around. The replacement is not as good a job as I would have liked, but I think it's functional enough. If we put everything in a few rectangular buckets and let the buckets sit on the cabinet bottom, I think it'll work beautifully. The link to the series of photos can be found at the earlier post.

puppy cam

(click on image to go to the live cam)
update: it doesn't seem to be working any more

I love this guy

Sunday, November 30, 2008

His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

... or it's 'Ol Dan to me, respectfully submitted

He's very accommodating with the public. He'll spend time to talk with you; and if you ask, he'll pose for your very own photo. It helps that he's quite photogenic. Those qualities are just icing on the cake. His Eminence happens to be well qualified and is befitting of his office.

I hope he doesn't mind me posting a photo of him.

"must see" movie

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Do you love a good documentary movie? After hearing an interview on NPR, I think "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" is a must-see movie. It is about women who were sick of war and decided to do something about it. It's about mothers who just wanted a better life for their children. Oh, just to hear them speak... experience it for yourself.

Info from the movie website:

Tribeca Film Festivals' Best Documentary Award-Winning Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the gripping account of a group of brave and visionary women who demanded peace for Liberia, a nation torn to shreds by a decades-old civil war. This incredible, uplifting story has also earned awards at Silverdocs (Witness Award), Jackson Hole Film Festival (Audience Choice: Documentary), Traverse City Film Festival (Special Jury Prize: Non-fiction Filmmaking), and the Heartland Film Festival (Best Documentary).

Desmond Tutu, Winner 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, says that "Pray the Devil Back to Hell"...eloquently captures the power each of us innately has within our souls to make this world a far better, safer, more peaceful place"

Find a screening near you:


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all. If we were to go and read a historical account of the pilgrims and their experiences on these shores, we would find an amazing story of hope and perserverance in the face of great difficulty. In the midst of our difficulties, as life these days is no piece of cake either, may we open our eyes to the many blessings that we DO have.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

There seems to have been a plethora of layoff announcements. Companies typically layoff near the end of the fiscal year--that's no surprise. But this year, it seems higher than normal.

And it really bites when it's a hospital that's laying off:
University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston learned Wednesday that 3,800 people there will lose their jobs.

November layoffs
HP announces 24600 layoffs
Most notable IT layoffs of 2008
Jumps in unemployment


Monday, November 10, 2008

Baby elephant dies.

a little OP time

Monday evening, if all goes well, I will be spending a little time with the Dominicans at one of their events/gatherings/ceremonies etc. I meant to get up early, get to work early, so that I can leave work in time to be at the Dominicans'. Considering that it is now 1:00 a.m. and I still have stuff I need to get done, I doubt I'll be able to carry out that plan. It probably just means that I will take the missing work hours as vacation.

replacing disposer

Saturday, November 08, 2008


The disposer died on Thursday. After performing manual rotations using a wrench, it still didn't re-start and I gave up. I tried again before going to bed and it started. I thought it was fixed. It was still running when I checked Friday morning.

Friday night, Gumby washed dishes then drained the sink after finishing, and water flowed out from the cabinet under the sink.

So here I am, on Saturday morning buying a new disposer. I spent the late morning/early afternoon installing the new disposer.

I still need to figure out what to do about the cabinet. The pressboard sagged; all the water-logged cabinet parts need to be replaced.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

This year's election is once again disappointing. In one corner, we have a Republican. The record for Republicans speaks for itself. Aside from that, are you ready for Sarah Palin to be president--it could happen. In the other corner, we have a Democrat who vehemently supports abortion and speaks of "catching and KILLING Osama Bin Laden." So Obama wants everyone to have a better life, even if it means killing off some "for the betterment of others."

It sucks. Vote for whomever you like, then pray like crazy that God will fix it.

so far so good

Friday, October 31, 2008

Doggie is completing the first half of his heartworm treatment. This weekend, he will get to be his hyperactive self since we will lay off the acepromazine sedative. Monday he will go in for the second half of his treatment.

Our dog and two cats have cost us a fortune this year. May next year be better.


I like Sherwin-Williams products. I use their products. Good paint should help you achieve good results; it is easy to apply, has flow quality that helps smooth out your brush strokes, don't dry too fast or slow, and gives good coverage (I think they call it "hiding"). Sherwin-Williams products always help me get good results. Their paint looks great. I also have one of their sash/trim brushes and I remember that not one time did I wish for a better brush while I was using it.

Painting is such a big and time consuming task that you might as well get the best you can for the job. Having to re-work a paint job is painful.

Benjamin Moore is probably another good bet. I just haven't tried their products.

a little humor

I find church bulletin bloopers absolutely hilarious:

  • Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
  • The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.
  • On a church bulletin during the minister's illness: GOD IS GOOD Dr. Hargreaves is better.

You can read the rest of it here.

in defense of marriage


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Every so often, a carnival comes and sets up in a large parking lot somewhere in town.

roof damage at school

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A school with roof damage from hurricane Ike.

pumpkin patch

A local church has a pumpkin patch each year.

the tram downtown


elephant paints pumpkin

Friday, October 24, 2008

3-yr elephant paints pumpkins (video)

another hurricane lesson

Thursday, October 23, 2008

When the power is out, a small flashlight is handy; it can be kept in a pocket, ready for action at any time. Handy, too, if it's glow-in-the dark in the event that it gets dropped and turns off when it hit the ground. Its glow makes it easy to find. If yours isn't glow-in-the-dark, I think there is glow-in-the dark tape that you can get and apply.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Our music minister decided to change the sung Our Father. The new arrangement is AWFUL. Bleccchhh! I hope everyone will continue to NOT sing this version. Our music minister is unfortunately not very qualified ... doesn't know how to direct, can't play an instrument very well, and is frequently prone to bad music choices. Hey if any of you are contemplating pursuing music ministry, please do. Apparently there is a shortage of qualified music ministers.

messed up

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I was messing around with templates for this blog. Looks like I lost a few things. Well a lot of things. Not sure I'd bother with restoring them.

e-mail me, T.O.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yo, T.O., if you're still lurking out there, send me an e-mail will ya? I finally got around to creating an e-mail account just for this blog. Thanks in advance. And happy Canadian Thanksgiving Day in advance.

Friday Five

Thursday, October 09, 2008

For variety, here is my participation in this week's Friday Five.

So for today's Friday Five, you're invited to share your experiences with the exciting, challenging world of business travel....

1. Does your job ever call for travel? Is this a joy or a burden?
There has been some occasions where my job calls for travel. Not often. Most of the time, it's more "joy" than "burden." I mostly don't mind but one time it meant that I'd miss a certain event at church and I wasn't happy about that. It's also very helpful that I have someone who will take care of the pets while I'm gone.

2. How about that of your spouse or partner?
not applicable

3. What was the best business trip you ever took?
One time most of my team went. It was nice because I liked my team; we worked well together and we also had fun after work.

4. ...and the worst, of course?
I think all of the trips went well, meaning that the objectives were met. The worst, though would be the one where it was all-day meetings for three days straight. They have to justify your pay so they stick you in a meeting, whether or not that particular meeting was relevant to you. There was nothing else to do ... if we were not in a meeting, we'd be loitering.

5. What would make your next business trip perfect?
hmm...may God surprise me


Monday, October 06, 2008

Our former pastor presided over a few masses at our parish this past Sunday. I don't think I was the only one who was totally surprised that he was there. It was kinda awesome. It just seemed so right--him there at the altar presiding like he's done for so many years for us. I imagine this is what it feels like for parents whose kid went off to college. Then come the holidays and the kid is back and things just seem right, and home feels like it used to.

I didn't get to talk to him since I was working my volunteer gig. Then just like that he's gone again. I'm sure he was concerned about us--how things fared with Hurricane Ike coming through. He probably stopped by just to kinda check on us.

hurricane lesson: garbage disposer

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The in-sink garbage disposer didn't want to re-start after the power had been out for a week. I guess it rusted a bit while sitting up. Fortunately, it has a motor overload switch that pops out to protect the motor. If you turn it on and nothing happens, then check the reset switch. Open the cabinet door and get access to the outside bottom of the disposer. If something is jutting out from what is otherwise a flat bottom, it's reset the switch. Push it back in. If it hums but doesn't turn, then it needs a little help. Turn it off. In the center of the disposer bottom (on the outside, accessed from under the sink) is probably a hex indentation. We used to have a "key" that fits that socket, stored in a vinyl pocket stuck to the side of the disposer. It's not there any more. Just get a hex wrench that fits that socket and allows you to turn whatever thingamajig that's in the disposer. Turn it a few times, remove the wrench, then try to turn the disposer on. If it doesn't turn on, turn it off and repeat the manual turning. After a few tries, the disposer should start.

** absolutely never put yourself in danger of being caught in the rotating parts of the garbage disposer, or in danger of having foreign objects flung by the rotation of the garbage disposer **

I had replaced the in-sink garbage disposer when we first bought the house. On hindsight, it probably merely needed the manual turning ritual to get started again.

choices people shouldn't have to make

Friday, October 03, 2008

from the Catholic Relief Services website
"CRS staff around the world has heard stories of families who are stretched to the limits of life itself by the high price of food," Callahan, told a subcommittee hearing of the House Agriculture Committee.

In some regions of Niger, he said, families have started eating only one meal a day. In dire circumstances, people have resorted to eating anza, a wild plant with bitter leaves, to supplement their diet. In northern Ghana, students have been taking CRS-provided lunches home to share with hungry family members, sharing their only meal of the day.

"Some families must make do with eating less at each meal. They are already skipping meals, or even not eating on a particular day," he said. "Tragically, they may even have to decide which child or children may have the best chance of survival and which, already so ill and weak, will be allowed to die. These are the agonizing choices the global food crisis is forcing the poor to make."

using batteries

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It so happens that when the power went out, it was during premier week. I'm not a TV fan, but someone around here is. The TV nut was quite upset but didn't really make life miserable. Shown here is a portable TV. The little TV ate batteries like crazy. One set of rechargeables (500mAh) was only good for maybe one hour.

It normally takes 4 AAA batteries. We eventually went through all of our AAA's. The AAA is 1.2 Volts each according to the labeling. Four in series (typically the case when you have to flip flop the orientation from one slot to another) is 4 x 1.2 V = 4.8 Volts.

Here I've rigged up three double-A batteries. Double-A batteries are 1.5V (on the label), so 3 x 1.5 V = 4.5 Volts and it apparently was good enough. Stacking them as shown is the easiest way to make them connect to one another. The butt (the flat end) of the stack is pushed up against the last spring in the battery compartment. The top (with the nipple) is connected by a wire the contact tab (the non-spring) in the battery compartment. The triple-A battery is used to jam the wire up against that tab for a good contact; there is tape between the jamming battery and the wire to avoid making electrical contact to the jamming battery. Then I used tape all over to kinda hold things together with the right tension and such. (Oh, the hair band around the TV is for some other situation and is irrelevant here.)


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Doggie is almost 80 pounds now. He was diagnosed with heartworm some weeks back. He was supposed to start treatment but then the hurricane came and it got re-scheduled. We took him in to the vet yesterday morning only to find that we had the date wrong and was a week earlier than scheduled. But we have great vet and she went ahead and started treatment. He's back home today. He has to be very still. Keeping him still is probably like trying to hog-tie an octopus. So we use drugs. He's sleeping right now. Unfortunately he's going to have to be still for at least a month. This is just the first half of the treatment. Poor dog. Poor pocketbook too.


Monday, September 29, 2008
"KickStart's mission is to help millions of people out of poverty. We promote sustainable economic growth and employment creation in Kenya and other countries. We develop and promote technologies that can be used by dynamic entrepreneurs to establish and run profitable small scale enterprises." What makes them great? Their products are designed for the targeted environment and economy. Check them out!

Ike damage in Texas

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I know Ike came through and damaged many states, not just Texas coast. I'd like to acknowledge that fact, and that so many resources were sent to Texas that it left the other states short. My heart goes out to all ... Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri ... all you guys. So the following is not meant to ignore others: Here is a link to some photos of SOME of the damage left behind by Hurricane Ike on the Texas coast.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Use GoodSearch to donate to your charity. Select the charity, then use GoodSearch for your internet searches.

Houston Dominican Sisters is a great choice to donate to. ;)

update: Anonymous commenter also suggested as another good search engine that benefits charity. However, you know I'm biased for the Dominicans. But it's all good.

Thanks commenter! Apparently once in a while someone does skim through this blog.

back online

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Just got electricity back after a week of no power. We seem to have only minor damage from hurricane Ike. Still, we'll have months of cleaning up to do.

Our poor tree seem to have lost almost all of its leaves.

We have some of the decorative solar-powered yard lights. Gumby had said to bring them in so that they don't get blown away by the hurricane. So while we were without power, we used them in the house at night as night lights; during the day I put them out and they would get re-charged.

Some of the neighbors had portable generators. They were quite loud and the constant hum bugged the heck out of Gumby. I heard that the oil in them should be changed every 25 hours of operation - that's every day! I would prefer solar panels, but they'd have to be able to survive hurricanes.

Anyhow, I can probably go on and on about the ordeal, but I'm tired and you probably don't want all the gory details. Feel free to ask any questions you might have.

boarded up

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ike is making a lot of news. Coverage seems to be around the clock. We're not in an evacuation area, but my job is. So we left work early. Fortunately, we have plywood already cut for the windows--done back when I was unemployed. Today I got some Thompson's water seal and applied it to the wood before putting the wood up on the windows. I was able to treat all but one board. I wish I had purchased a sprayer for applying the water seal; the stuff is thin and would have covered more if I had had a sprayer. Else, having had two previous hurricane threats, we're pretty prepared.

Sisters of Charity retreat

Thursday, September 04, 2008

in Houston, TX
Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word
8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
pdf here

Dominican Retreat

Dominican retreat in Houston, TX:
A Retreat for Discerners
Women ages 20 – 40)
September 5 & 6, 2008

random picture

This is a Cherry Limeade. It was accidentally left to freeze in the freezer. When it was taken out to thaw, the cup was clean. But as it thawed, the red stuff oozed out of the cup.

Wind turbines bad for bats

Monday, September 01, 2008

Wind turbines are bursting bats' lungs. The motion attracts bats. Then when they get into the low pressure area of the wind turbines, their lungs burst. Clean energy. But still has environmental impacts.

product endorsement

I've tried Stink Free and Nature's Miracle for removing pet urine odor (sick cat = accidents). I prefer Stink Free.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

I've been insanely busy. One of the cats is sick and I have to give him pills twice per day. Plus he wasn't eating so I also had to syringe-feed him twice per day as well. He's much better now. The pills will probably continue for the rest of his life. He's starting to eat on his own so I'll quit the syringe feeding.

I don't know if I ever mentioned that I did sign up for the doggie training class. After six weeks he basically did not graduate. We're supposed to take him over to the trainer twice a week and they work on him. I don't know if we'll do that. They said I should run/walk him daily to get that energy out. So for a week now I've been walking him daily. We're working on loose leash walking where he doesn't forge ahead of me. So the walks have been like a daily session of tug-of-war. Yesterday he was better towards the end, when he's all overheated and thirsty and less able to fight. With all that I have to do with him and the cat, I've been getting into work ridiculously late. We have rather long days at work so it's dark by the time I get home in the evenings.

I'm still working on the house (removing the bad caulk job on the fascia, prep for paint then paint), but progress is extremely slow. I don't get much done from week to week.

I'm sure I have other things to share. But apparently not when I'm sitting down and ready to blog.

the weekend

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We attended a friend's ceremony of final vows (religious life stuff for those not familiar).
We attended a musical production at a small college.
We went to the cemetery and visited graves of loved ones.

in the not too distant past:
We saw the movies Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hancock, & Batman the Dark Knight IMAX

piano fun

wow. I am very surprised to find videos of Andre Watts on YouTube. Here is a lovely find: Listz's La Campanella. And here is another wonderful piece Beethoven's Op. 31 no. 2 in D minor first movement there; check out the third movement too.

Surely everyone is familiar with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The first movement is most familiar, but all are good. The third movement is spectactular.
first movement Wilhelm Kempff on a Steinway & Sons
second movement
third movement

And any Chopin you pick would be nice. Here's one just at random:
Piano Sonata No. 2 and here with Andre Watts.

Invention #14
Ravel's beautiful
Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte
Schubert's Op. 90 No. 11
one of many variations of
Pachelbel's Canon in D
my favorite Richard Clayderman piece:
A Comme Amour
a popular Paul de Senneville/Richard Clayderman piece:
Ballade pour Adeline
MacArthur Park seems like a really fun piece
Michel Legrand
Windmills of Your Mind
Henry Mancini
Somewhere in Time

Not piano, but one to leave you energized:
Yolanda Adams Victory

Friday Five

Friday, August 08, 2008

I ran across today's Friday Five at An Unseen Hope

Friday Five: What You Absolutely, Positively, Can't Leave Home Without

From Singing Owl:

We will be at a chaplain's convention when you all are answering the Friday Five Questions. I'll look forward to reading your answers next week when I get home. At the moment we are trying to get the car loaded so we can hit the road, so this will be a simple F.F. This running around madly in order to leave has me wondering: what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?

Aside from clothes and toiletry:
1. Money or some way to pay
2. watch
3. cell phone
4. info to get me to my destination (name and address, telephone number, reservation info if applicable, sometimes a map)
5. Big Ben I pocket knife (a b-day gift from long ago from my bro; it's probably only 2 inches when closed)

no mat

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

me: When I leave for work tomorrow, I will take the mat out of the crate.
Tonto: No, he's been good. I think it will be fine. Just leave it in there.
me: ok

end of next day: dog, crate, small pieces of blue foam, bye-bye mat

It is so VERY difficult to like this dog. He's been nothing but trouble, hassle, and very costly.

bed saga

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Over 65 pounds of puppiness is very destructive, so doggie is crated most of the time. So much time on a plastic floor results in bald spots (calluses) at the pressure points. We've been trying to find a solution. The K-9 Ballistics bed didn't work; he tore apart the plastic zipper in minutes. Then we tried fleece mats--no zipper, no stuffing, no stitches. That's lasting; he's not eating up the entire two fleeces we gave him, though a little bit does disappear each week. Unfortunately, the fleeces just get pushed off to the corner of the crate.

We tried another stuffed bed that was on sale for $20. Yup, it tore in minutes. I've since sewn back up the hole in the bed and now he gets it when he's out in the house (under supervision). In the photo, the cat is enjoying that bed while doggie is crated.

We tried a foam play mat (found through Amazon); it comes as a pack of four 2ft square mats. I estimated a 2ft x 3ft mat, so I used 1 1/2 squares. It survived one night but was torn to pieces by the end of the following day. I still had 2 1/2 mats left. So I've put the mats together with all the interlocking fingers on the inside and the outsides are cut edges something like diagrammed below. I made the mat 24 1/2 x 39 inches so that it would fit the crate more snugly, making it difficult for him to get to the edges. We've decided that we'll remove the mat from the crate when we're gone. Let's hope it works.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

"This neighborhood is so white, even the ducks are white."


Thursday, July 24, 2008

At Catholic Online: some guy desecrated a host. Regardless of whether it was a consecrated host, the intent is what it is.

The grumpy side of me desires that God strikes this fella in his tracks. See, I need some training.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Yay! I finally finished the fence. It's not the whole fence, just that one side. I estimated it to be 43 feet long. Now I need to turn my attention to the house.

Catholic wear

Check out Little Way Design. I'm so proud of them. They're friends of ours.

Remote Area Medical

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I just heard about Remote Area Medical (RAM). Free medical services provided by volunteers. Very awesome. It's founded by former co-star of "Wild Kingdom." Remember that show? I loved that show. I also saw the bleak reality that a huge number of Americans simply cannot afford health care. Been there. Check out the link and read more about them.

good stuff

Friday, July 11, 2008

No, I haven't seen it, but it's gotta be good stuff.

The Pact

"A gritty, provocative true-life story of three
friends from the 'hood,
Rameck Hunt, Sampson Davis, and George Jenkins, who made a pact in high school to find a way to go to college and then medical school. They not only accomplished this, but they're now spreading the word to inspire other inner-city kids to stay off of drugs, out of gangs and to take the educational route to a betterlife."

changing of the guards

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We have new pastors at my parish. Not sure how I feel as I drive by each day to and from work and remind myself that our former pastors are not there. I know I'm excited for them: a new adventure, new horizons. I suppose I do miss them. I'm also excited to have our new pastors. New horizons for us as well. I also remind myself that I should also remember who IS there: Jesus, same as always, never changing, ever constant.

4th of July

Friday, July 04, 2008


the solution

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Duh. How come these things are not more readily available? website and here

spoke too soon

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I came back from a meeting with my Dominican liaison this morning to find that our dog has been busy in his crate. All that is left of his martingale collar is a strip less than 1 ft and the metal parts to it. Not only did he chew it up, he ate it. We just got that collar on Tuesday night, so it lasted 3 days.

I would guess that he discovered that part of the collar with the D ring, which when pulled pinches the collar tighter and which can be seen as a handy "short leash." Yeah, the part can extended and be long enough to put in mouth and chewed. Lovely. How often do do see a dog chew a collar off of his own neck?

Back on the choke chain collar he goes. Maybe the Martingale was only supposed to be used in training and not to be left on?

look, ma, no buckles

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I was at a dog training orientation the other day. This is the session normally offered by trainers both so that you can decide whether you want to train with them and also to prepare you for the real thing. The trainer recommended the Martingale type collar. I think it's great. I could've use this on one of my other Shepherds, who breaks the quick snap plastic buckle on his collar and who will chew through aircraft cable at less than 1 year of age. This collar has no buckles, slips right on and off the dog's head but will remain secure if you're pulling on the D ring. Plus it can't be put on wrong (it can be adjusted wrong, but it can't be put on wrong). So our dog now has this collar and I'd recommend it to all.
Oh, I do like the training method offered. Now it's just a matter of whether we have the moolah at the moment.

random photo

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This was on top of a building. The car I was riding in was going at least 60 miles per hour. I can't remember how much zoom I was using; else the camera was on auto.

bad owner

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Man, my Labrador Retriever is the stupidest dog I have EVER owned. Not in the sense that he has no intelligence, but in the sense that he doesn't give flip about anybody or anything. He has zero discipline (though he is most EXCELLENT at refraining from using the bathroom in his crate). I'm giving him until two years old before I make any real demands. In the meantime, the primary rule is that he use the bathroom in the designated area. He's been very good at pooping there. But since I gave him more freedom the past few days (the fence being almost halfway up and the vinyl mesh sufficient barrier), he's taken to urinating where ever. So back on the leash he goes.

I am reminded of the English trainer's motto: There are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Sorry, I forgot her name. OK so I may be a bad owner, but in comparison to all the German Shepherds I've had and the Golden Retriever, he IS the stupidest (most disobedient) of them all. And no, there isn't enough time and space to list all the stupid things he does.

knock down furniture

Need furniture that you can knock down flat for transport? Check out Playatech. It's fun for folks like myself for whom "some assembly required" = fun.


Oops. I have just now noticed that I have comments on my blog. Apparently I forgot to update blogger where to send comments. Sorry folks, that I have not responded. I'm so used to my blog having no response that it was just business as usual for me. I wonder how far back I have to go?

Can you believe I am still working on that one section of the fence? I had stopped working on the house to concentrate on the fence. And yet it is still not done.

A while back, I had finished the post extensions. It was done with hand tools. You can see it installed. Definitely not as good as I had hoped, but it's the best I can do with what I have. Oh, and I did have to buy a bunch of tools for working this project, but I tried not to spend too much money, hence the hand tools.

Also, I had to replace one of the poles. Both my fence and the neighbor's was fastened to that pole. Anyhow, it took a day but I got it done.

I have most of the rails up and have started installing the pickets. I have discovered that the pickets are not "square," resulting in gaps between them. It's been like a puzzle figuring which two boards adjacent to each other would result in the smallest gap. With about 1/3 of the pickets up, I am now trying another route. I will shave off (hence shape the picket) the pickets where needed to give me less gap. So basically, the pickets will be shaped to fit the one next to it. I have also discovered that the pickets I have put up have shrunken. I know I had put them up right next to each other, but the ones I've put up weeks ago now have no points in which they touch. So undoubtedly, they have shrunken. The wood filler which I had put in the holes and sanded down are now bulging out, since the wood around it has shrunken. If imperfections are "character," this fence has plenty of character.

"no" to the death penalty

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One person stood up the other night, admitted to probably being a bad Catholic, and expressed that they support capital punishment. This person has had a loved one murdered.

First off I must say that I cannot begin to imagine this person's pain and suffering.

The Church says that everyone has the right to act per their conscience. Corollary to that is every person who is able has the responsibility to search for truth, to research the matter and to pray on it.

I don't think there can be greater injustice than what happened to Jesus. Yet he didn't seek capital punishment.

"Well, I'm not Jesus."
Right. But he's our model.

On a different occasion, I heard from Kerry Max Cook who was wrongly convicted and was on death row. His was a brutal experience. Our justice system is imperfect. In fact, I bet every human institution is imperfect. Anyhow, it means that every now and then, we throw somebody on death row who is innocent. Kerry said he'd like the perps to fry too, but having his mom or sister fry alongside the perp is a price he isn't willing to pay. Having the death penalty means that you or any of your innocent loved ones may be on death row and wrongly executed. It's like having a bear trap that every now and then traps a toddler, but you take that risk because you want the bear.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sparky. Hit the link to see Sparky in action. Aw...

Makes me want to start collecting push puppets.

big crucifix

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

No, you're not Catholic

person A: I thought you said you were a member of St. xx (Catholic church).
person B: Oh, yes, I'm a member of both St. xx (Catholic church) and (names a protestant church).


no baker

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day to all.

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday.

It's official: I'm no baker. I attempted a cake this morning, and it's a total disaster all around. The cake should be moist, but I don't think it was supposed to be gooey. I make the icing from scratch and it's running. The icing I put on the side of the cake is slowly puddling at the bottom. We're off to the movies and we'll need to pick up desert on the way back.

I will attempt beer can chicken when we come back. Hopefully it won't be a disaster. But we have a back up: hot dogs.

kids in church

Friday, May 23, 2008

received in an e-mail...

3-year-old Reese :
'Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name. Amen.'
A little boy was overheard praying:
'Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am.'
After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong.
Finally, the boy replied, 'That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys...'
One particular four-year-old prayed, 'And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.'
A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to church service, 'And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?' One bright little girl replied, 'Because people are sleeping.'
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake.
Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson.
'If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.'
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, 'Ryan , you be Jesus !'
A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. 'Daddy, what happened to him?' the son asked.
'He died and went to Heaven,' the Dad replied.
The boy thought a moment and then said, 'Did God throw him back down?'
A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, 'Would you like to say the blessing?'
'I wouldn't know what to say,' the girl replied.
'Just say what you hear Mommy say,' the wife answered.
The daughter bowed her head and said, 'Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?'

best for burns

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Last week's exterior house repairs earned me sunburns on the back of my legs. Which reminds me that I should do a product endorsement. Folks, I don't think there is anything better on the market than Campho-Phenique for healing burns. I burnt my finger once on a hot pan, and this medicine cleared it up in no time flat (less than week, pain gone in one day). That was the incident that by which I discovered this remarkable product.

It does say not to put it on large areas of your body. I slathered it on my calves and thighs anyways. The sunburns healed right away.

I don't think it's much good for anything else. Just burns.
For healing skin (such as cuts), Neosporin is the best.

From now on, I am not working outdoors in shorts. Pants it will be. Until my memory fails me again.

just running errands

So what do you do while waiting to enter the convent? Live. It's not like there is a choice to do anything else.

Yesterday my car got new shocks and struts. It deserves it. The car odometer rolled over 100,000 miles recently though I can't remember whether it was this week or last week. This would be the first time ever that the shocks and struts were replaced. Today I took it to get its new tires installed. I had purchase those tires back in October last year, receiving them in November. That took at least two hours at the tire shop. My car is all nice and stiff now. It's not a cushy ride; it never was--it wasn't ever designed for that. But it's wonderful peace of mind knowing that my tires and shocks/struts are in decent condition.

After taking the car, it was time to take the dog to the vet. He has a hot spot, ear infection, bacteria in his stool, and the doc wants me to up his food quantity. So now I have to give him Benadryl, antibiotic, and ear ointment. Upping his food is easy. The pills are easy. His bath would be inconvenient; actually getting to scrub his hot spot (on his tail) would be difficult. Putting ointment in his ear is TOUGH.

After those two errands, I decided not to work on the house. I'm just so tired. I played on the computer a bit then I washed the dishes; it's approximately a week's worth of dishes.

love tools?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Do you love tools like I do? Check out the Toolmonger blog.

The only reason I don't have more tools is because I don't have that kind of moolah. Since I have to work on the house I've had to get some more tools. I now have two different kinds of pry bars and have added a hand saw to my collection. I do not own any power tools except a drill.

Here's a list of basic tools that everyone should probably have (aside from the office scissors, flashlight, and pencil). Even if you don't know how to use it, it'd make the job easier for someone to come help you.

hammer (c'mon, tell me you have one) - one for small jobs and one for big jobs
tape measure
set of screw drivers (flat and phillips)
set of tiny screw drivers
set of pliers (plain, needlenose, and channel)
hack saw + blade
hand saw
box wrenches
ratchet wrench and socket set, metric and english
power drill and basic bits (buy specialty bits as you need them)

tool-grade extension cord (14 or 12 gauge cord)
a variety-pack of sand paper
some sort of block (such as scrap wood) you can use as a sanding block
electrical tape

variety-pack of electrical connecting nuts
small nails for hanging small things on the wall
medium nails for quick fixes
variety of plastic wall anchors and associated screws

circular saw and general purpose blade
locking pliers
wood glue
hand-file (wood file)
hex wrenches
pry bar
stud finder
luxury item: torque wrench

if you're going to be painting:
paint roller (choose right nap for your wall) and roller frame
trim roller and frame
paint roller pan
HIGH QUALITY sash brush
paint can opener
caulk gun
sanding sponge
wood filler
fiberglass wall repair tape
putty knife - 4"

someone else has a list here

I might update this list from time to time

OLLU fire

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I was very sad to see on the news last night the image of huge flames bursting from a building at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) in San Antonio, Texas.

See their website if you wish to make a donation towards rebuilding.
The main building is what burnt.

I thought for sure all was lost of the old buildings there. Minutes later when I learned that the fire was prevented from spreading to the convent side, I was soooo relieved. I am glad the Sisters of Divine Providence (and everyone) are ok, and glad indeed that their Sacred Heart Conventual Chapel is not affected. It is the most beautiful chapel ever. If you come to San Antonio, this chapel is a must-see.

Still, it is sad. Though the Sisters don't own the University anymore, OLLU is their heritage, they still freely access OLLU and several of the Sisters teach and work at the university. There is so much history in the building that burned. It was such a tribute to the goodness and providence of God working through the Sisters through the ages.

Yes, I would agree that it needs to be rebuilt. But not a replica. Those who knew what it was would tire of telling people that it's not the original. Those who didn't know the original would feel cheated -- it looks like the original but isn't the real thing. Aside from the architecture and workmanship, what made that building spectacular was that it was the original and that it had stood since 1895.

So to rebuild is not to replicate the building, but to re-born the same spirit that produced that building: to build the best that architecture, engineering, and materials could offer at the time and make a building that would be a marvel to behold and which would last for ages. The facade of the original building is still standing. I would preserve that facade and incorporate it into the new building. I would need a great architect to elegantly meld the past (the facade) to the best of modern architecture. In that way, a great piece of the past could be preserved. And of course, the new building would need to be energy-efficient and eco-friendly.

That's my two cents.

too busy

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sorry. This has been a no blogging blog.

house = repairs = less time, less money

The contractors who screwed up the fence also screwed up somewhat on the house fascia, specifically the caulking. So I'm alternating between trying to work on the fence and trying to work on the fascia. The caulking they put up is already cracking and leaving gaps. Removing the caulk is taking me a very long time. After removing the caulk would be applying primer paint. Then new caulk. Painting eaves is no fun at all. Caulking will be a challenge since I cannot do a continuous strip, having to stop, get down, move the ladder, and restart. I haven't attempted the caulking yet (I have one section where it's ready for new caulk). After the caulk dries, I can then apply the paint.

Work is still as stressful as ever. Just deadlines. And lots of work. And truthfully, I'm only doing it for the money. As seen on a bumper sticker: I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.

video success

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yesterday I was able to make my first video DVD. This was a huge accomplishment for me.

I have a PC: 2GB RAM, Core 2 Duo processor, the cheapest NVidia video card for Vista, and Windows Vista Ultimate. Last year I had purchased and installed a TV tuner card, the Hauppauge HVR1600. We don't have cable. The card allows me to grab digital TV signals over the air (OTA).

Anyhow, the antenna signal comes through a cable which I connect to the tuner card. In Vista, I go to Media Center then I think I had to go to "Tasks" then "Settings" and somehow get it going on recognizing the TV tuner card. Once that's done, I as able to recive TV signals in Media Center and program the computer to record certain shows for me. The programming is like "record this show" -- I don't know if I can program it to record at xx time, xx channel. Anyhow, the programing by show worked ok for me.

Media Center records in dvr-ms format. The tricky part for me was finding where the recording went. It's in c:\Users\Public\Recorded TV. Once I knew that, I can open Windows Movie Maker (it came with Vista Ultimate), select to import video then go find the recording and import it. With Windows Movie Maker I can cut out segments of video if I wanted to. In this case I did because what I wanted on DVD totaled 4 hr 5 min. I wanted it less than 4hrs so that I can be sure I didn't have any problems fitting it on 2 DVD's. Windows Movie Maker also allowed me to combine the 1hr video with the 3hr video, and then split it at the "2hr" (or wherever you want to split it) mark. So I ended up with two projects - the first half for the first disk and the second half for the second disk. Once I finish messing with the video - and save it, I select the "publish to DVD" option.

Up comes a message that says it will close the project and open Windows DVD Maker. Select OK and Windows DVD Maker comes up. It had options for creating menus but I didn't mess with any of that. I went with the default and went on to the option to burn DVD. Some several hours later (go away, do something else), the first DVD is finished. I repeat in Windows Movie Maker for the second half - "publish to DVD." It will prompt to close Windows DVD Maker, after which it will re-open with the new project. Go through the same process and several hours later, the second half DVD is produced.

Voila. Digital OTA TV to video DVD.

I did save the project each time, hoping that it won't go through the several-hours long conversion the next time I want to burn a copy. I haven't test this.

I did have an audio sync problem with one of the clips, but it sync'd back up at the next clip. There is a way to shift the audio clip relative to the video, but I didn't mess with that this time around.

Media Center interface is cryptic to me. It's weird and takes some getting used to. But video quality was excellent, and the recording seemed reliable (no stopping at random, it recorded at the designated time, and no time was lost in resetting between recordings). Overall, it went smooth except for having to find where the recording went. Next I will have to figure out which files I need to keep: I now have the original recordings of the two shows, three Win Movie Maker files (the whole shebang and then the split 1st and 2nd projects), and two Win DVD Maker projects.

slow progress on fence

The LAMLand blog seems to have disappeared. I've waited for some time now to see if it comes back and it looks like it is not coming back.

Last week I finished taking down the fence. However, Guppy wants one of the corner posts replaced - namely the one by the gate. This post is supporting both our section and our neighbor's section and the last folks that worked on those sections did not replace the post. The folks that I've mentioned this to has told me it's going to be a real adventure (to put it nicely) to remove that post. Since I don't have the time this weekend to deal with that, I haven't started. However, I did purchase its 10-ft replacement. Getting that 10-ft pole into my car was an adventure, but I made it.

We do have some pickets that have not been installed. In other words, they've not had holes in them. I've started staining them in the few hours I can find here and there yesterday. The ones that I've had to rip off the fence will need some repair before I stain them.

party Sunday

Friday, April 11, 2008

Big weekend for the Dominican Sisters of Houston, as part of their 125th anniversary year-long celebration

It happens to coincide with the Grand Opening of a new park down town, an event which also looks like much fun.

Old news, but last week there was much ado around the new cathedral. And for good reason. Cathedrals don't sprout up every day, or even every generation; it's a very rare event. This one is located on the corner of St. Joseph and San Jacinto (St. Hyacinth). Cool, eh?

Me, I gotta fit in some time to work on taking down the fence (still). We have to go check out some boarding kennels (two in mind). It's for doggie when we take a brief trip out of town a little later.

Doggie is better. He knows the bathroom routine. He's not demanding. I try to give him playtime (on leash) every evening. I'm not demanding either; we've not worked on any commands for a long time. He's still crated much of the time. We look forward to a time when he can calmly join us, and crate will be by his own option.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Credo Christian E-cards worth checking out

link courtesy of

fence nightmare

Saturday, April 05, 2008

This is NOT how I want my fence built.

Here, you see that the fence posts are too short. Fence posts should be as tall as the fence (for this kind of fence). At least a third of the post should be in the ground to support the stresses above ground. I bet they buried at most 2ft.

Also the top rail should be 6 to 7 inches from the top of the picket. You see here that there is waaaay more than that in this construction.

Here are front and back pictures of a splice in the top rail. Looks kinda ok from the front, but from the back you can clearly see that it's sagging already.

Now we have a case of too long: the nails are too long for the 2x4 when nailing to the shorter side. But they didn't care and used the nails anyway and proceed to "knock them down." That is unacceptable.

The pickets are spaced too far. The objective is to have a privacy fence. Furthermore, with age, the pickets will shrink and the gaps will then be even larger. You see some warping already and this has been up only 1 week, though it rained practically all week.

Here's a piece of creativity. A 2x4 is ROUGHLY ripped along its length to approximate 2x2's and loosely nailed to the bottom of the rails. It's a piece of crap and really does nothing other than waste 2x4's.

I will splice 4x4's to the poles using a lap joint to bring them to proper height, though I will not correct how much of the pole is buried. I will then place a top rail at the proper height. I will move the middle rail to approximately middle. I will add proper 2x4's approx 6-7 inches from the bottom of the pickets. I will stain my wood before installation where possible. Right now I have to take the fence apart. I've spent all afternoon taking down one span of pickets. I'm having to gouge into the middle 2x4's to get at the knocked down nails. The nails to the top rail are just tearing through my pickets when I pry the pickets off. There is no other way for me to remove the pickets. I will do my best to save my pickets; I am considering wood filler of some sort. Once taken down, I will flip the 2x4's so that the gouged side will be covered by the pickets. Since the rails will all be in positioned differently from what they have here, all the mounting holes will be "new." I will use screws as that would not require a partner on the other side to counter the hammering. The neighbors will appreciate that since I'm making lots of noise in taking this fence apart. This has been a nightmare and it's going to take alot of effort to fix.