Graivier Karaoke Party Pictures

DSC_0897 (1024x685)Michelle’s office party is usually a Halloween themed affair. This year they opted to make it a little different and instead set up shop at the Red Door Playhouse in Roswell for a Karaoke theme.

There were a bunch of good performances, Michelle’s was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. She used “Thrill the World” as the source of her dance moves and had the “Thriller” video playing behind her and 4 co-workers as they danced their horrific way through the song…

Demolition Montage

VERY nice! While there is some slow motion in here (which I, of course, love), these edifices are so big that they often only appear as if they’re collapsing in slow motion. This is a glorious testament to the explosives experts out there who are competent in their trade. Well executed, a demolition can be almost a thing of beauty.

Many of these I haven’t seen before. All that planning and only seconds to implement. Then, of course, weeks to clean up afterward.

Blaupunkt Melbourne SD27 Installed at Fry’s Electronics

I’ve owned my venerable Honda Odyssey for just under 12 years now. It’s exactly what I wanted in a vehicle size-wise and performance-wise. The original stereo that came with it sports a cassette player that’s worked very well all these years.

I’ve been using a headset-jack-to-cassette adapter to listen to my podcasts for the past three or four years. A couple of weeks ago the adapter started acting up, causing the tape player to simply turn off. Also, the lights on the radio had failed and I was growing tired of the half-a$$ed adapter solution anyway since nearly 100% of my listening is of the iPod.

So I did some research looking for a replacement radio that catered to my iPod needs. There are some pretty slick devices out there, even some where the faceplate folds forward and allows you to slide the iPod into it.
But such a design definitely limits you to certain iPod models and I’d hate to have to change out my car stereo every time I update my iPod. Also, I really like the well thought-out menu system on my iPod and take advantage of how it functions to listen to my podcasts in a way that works well for me already. Many of the car stereo systems offered their own menu system and controlled the iPod directly and, according to reviews on Amazon and other places, poorly.

So I settled on the Blaupunkt Melbourne SD27. It’s VERY basic, it has AM/FM (I conceded that I may someday actually need to listen to the radio), no CD player, no tape player. It *does* have an SD/MMC slot that I’ll fill with a chip containing pleasant driving music someday when I can woot a huge capacity SD chip cheaply. I also opted for the optional iPod cable so I could listen to / charge the iPod while still using its menu system. I actually have a holster already mounted on my between-seat console that allows me to safely park the iPod when I’m not handling it.

I headed over to Fry’s Electronics on Highway 9 at Webb Road. I *love* Fry’s, I could wander around inside there all day browsing the cool electronics that they offer. And that’s saying something because I’m not really known as a retail shopper…

The interior staff were very helpful, when they didn’t know something they got someone who did. Shortly I was outfitted with my new radio, mounting bracket, cables and my optional iPod cable. I elected to have them do the installation as well recalling from my youth the joys of hanging out under the dashboard fiddling with wires and connections while maintaining some yogic “Z” pose between the seat, the doorjamb and the fusebox. The radio itself cost only $50. By the time I was finished the tab was $150. $40 of that was for installation.

So I had a guy working on my car, let’s call him “Nick”, I hand him all the pieces and walk away. About 40 minutes later I catch him walking rapidly away from the install bays (he has a lunch date with a comely lass from inside the store) and he lets me know all is ready to go.

I head back to the install bays, stopping at my car before going in and checking out the new stereo. The iPod side works great, but I can’t get any radio stations. So I head inside and meet the other guy who works there, let’s call him “Johnny” and he comes out and pulls out the radio to find that the antenna is not connected. “Problem solved” I think. I check and all the stations that I normally would care about are coming in loud and clear.

So we head inside where he realizes that the post-install checklist hasn’t been done. He asks if I’ve checked the power outlet (old / retarded people will call this the cigarette lighter – what a bizzarre concept..). I’m kind of in a hurry now, but I figure this is a good idea and go back out and… no… it’s not working. Johnny’s not real happy that Nick’s libido has left him with this extra work. So he comes out and dismantles the lower part of my dashboard again and hooks up the power outlet.

We head back in and he say’s, “Oh yeah, is the air conditioner working?”, again I’m tempted to say “I’m sure it is, let’s just call it a day.” but I head back out and the air conditioner is working fine. However, the hot-to-cold lever is stuck. Looks like the cable is binding. So Johnny, looking even less happy now comes back out, dismantles the lower dash again and corrects this little ‘nit.

When he’s done he goes back inside and I decide to check out the radio again. As before, the iPod still works great but my radio stations are gone. I head back in to let Johnny know and he, obviously tired of the whole affair, tells me that the radio reception in this area is really poor. I tell him that it was fine the last time he hooked up the antenna but he is insistent. About this time Nick comes back, looking rather happy so I suppose his lunch went well, and he joins in with Johnny about how terrible radio reception is in Alpharetta generally and that the building is probably blocking the reception. So they move my car in the parking lot to a spot where the reception should be better and play with the radio settings. Sometime during this Johnny has disappeared, apparently it’s his turn to head out to lunch.

So, after further discussion Nick again removes the radio and, sure enough the anenna is no longer attached. Apparently there is a weakness in the adapter between North American antenna connectors and those used by the Germans. So he adjust things and plugs everything back together.

I check ALL my systems and finally everything appears to be working. So, nearly 3 hours later (and being the only install being performed during that time), I finally get to return to work from my “Lunch”.

So far things are working, although in all honesty I haven’t used my radio since then (about a week and a half ago). But, worryingly, I went through Wendy’s drive-thru and when I went to my little coin holder in the dash I found, along with correct change for a hamburger, a lone screw that presumably came from my dashboard. Spare part I suppose?

I also note that the radio doesn’t dim when I turn on my lights even though I know it’s supposed to. Fortunately, since I’m one of those oddballs who actually turn on my lights during the day, this works out for me as I find the lights inside my car too dim during the day anyway and the display is not an issue for me at night so I’m leaving well enough alone. The car is old enough that I want folks monkeying around with it as little as possible.

Overall, I’m very happy to have a direct iPod connection with no more worries about the iPod battery becoming exhausted. The radio looks very attractive, to their credit the Fry’s installers managed to not damage the dash or the radio mounts in any obvious ways so I’m very pleased with that. But I post this as a warning. Make sure you check EVERYTHING you can think of in your dash before you leave…

Odd that nobody pays attention to those that are supposedly losing out

In this article about a mailman in North Carolina who simply stopped delivering junk mail, I find it both amusing and odd that the fact that nobody complained or was even remotely bothered that their junk mail did not make its way to them was noted by either the direct marketing association spokesperson or by the mail service that enables them.

Admittedly, there is money being made and that’s the driver. But any drug pusher or criminal has that motivation too.

We receive *thousands* of pieces of this crap every year. I do what I can to minimize it. I’ve even contacted some of the more egregious catalog senders to have them limit their mailings to a few times per year (Victoria’s Secret graciously responded and now I get something maybe quarterly rather than weekly. Can you imagine how many catalogs I had to receive before even *I* didn’t want to look at them anymore???).

This year again, the AOPA Air Safety foundation sent me a half dozen thick envelopes filled with sample cards in spite of my contacting them to ask them to reduce such. I received no response at all from a recent email to them. I declined to purchase this year as a result.

There are a lot of necessary excesses that we learn to tolerate as a price for our way of life. We see things like driving 1-2 tons of metal a mile to get a $2 quart of milk as reasonable and (somehow) proper. But some things simply have no value-add in my life, and I believe in most other folks’ lives. In my opinion, anything that is unsolicited and provides no benefit, even as a side-effect (TV ads, for instance, at least provide the entertainment value of the accompanying programming), can be stamped out without hesitation.

Porn buddies

There are not a lot of sitcoms that I rave about, but “Coupling” is definitely on the short list. The writing, the characters and the situations are all brilliant.

Here Jeff describes to Susan the concept of the “porn buddy”. It’s brilliant. And probably practical advice… you know who you are. 🙂

The world’s ugliest buildings

I checked out this article on the CNN website and have to disagree completely with the premise that the buildings are all “ugly”. The only one that jarred my sensibilities was the Scottish Parliament – it just looks like a tenement with laundry hanging off the balconies.

Admittedly the word “ugly” is a subjective one so it’s all about opinion, but for the most part those buildings seem to me to simply stand out. The term “landmark” could just as easily be used in most cases…

Kill A Watt EZ P4460 – Hitachi Rear Projection TV 50FX19K – Standby Mode

Another surprise here. Ishwar suggested putting the Kill A Watt on my TV to see what the power consumption is like when it’s just sitting there waiting for me to turn it on. From what we’ve both heard I had rather expected the TV to consume a fair bit of power in this mode. At least that’s why we’re supposed to unplug such appliances when not in use (yeah, like that’s going to happen).

As it was the TV consumes so little power that it doesn’t even register on my power meter. In fact, after nearly a day (21 hrs) it still had not consumed enough to register any value at all.

Either my 12 year old rear projection TV set is extraordinarily energy efficient or those energy saver guides are using “common sense” rather than actual empirical evidence when they offer this advice…

Anyway, I’ve hooked up my entire entertainment system to check out what a week or so of consumption is like. Coming up soon.

Kill A Watt EZ P4460 – Whirlpool ED25DQ Refrigerator

DSC_0585 (325x640)I ended up leaving the Kill A Watt on my fridge for a *lot* longer than I intended. But at least I got a pretty good representation of its consumption.

These results were a big surprise to me. I’ve always considered that the fridge should be one of the chief energy consumers in the house and was expecting these numbers to be much greater than this.


Elapsed time: 623 hrs (about 26 days)
Measured Consumption (Watts): 173 <– This is what I spotted when the compressor was running
Measured Consumption (Amps): 2.43
Cost –
     Actual (for duration of test): $6.04
     Daily: $0.23
     Weekly: $1.62
     Monthly: $6.94
     Annual: $84.49