Monday, March 30, 2009

Cancel all Services!!!

Want to save money? Call every service provider you use. Tell them you want to cancel your service. It almost guarantees they will offer you a lower rate to keep you from canceling. I just cancelled Dish Network and was offered a 20% discount (which I didn't accept). This seems to happen every time I cancel a service. If you make the call and they start to cancel without offering a lower rate, you can always say "nevermind". It's worth a try!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

White Dog

We're baby sitting a white dog and a black dog this weekend. The white dog is very cooperative with posing. The black dog just wants to put her nose print on the lens. We'll have to keep trying and catch her unaware.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Snow

It's Spring! We are currently getting the heaviest snow of the year. The flakes are huge and coming down fast. At least I won't have to mow the grass this weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TV Stuff

Today I put a bunch of stuff from the basement in our attic. While up there, I found an old set top antenna. On a whim, I decided to bring it down and see what kind of HD reception I could get with it. I hooked it up to our Sony 1080p TV and a quick scan found about 15 channels, many that I didn't even know existed.

I am now watching the local news in HD that is far superior to what I ever got with cable or satellite. This is with an old set top antenna! With our Apple TV and Roku, we rarely watch satellite TV anymore. When we do, it's usually a show or sporting event on a local station. Why are we spending so much money for satellite TV when we don't watch it?

I just ordered a small outdoor antenna that will replace the dish on our house. I'll be able to use the same cabling to sent the signal to our TVs at ZERO cost and better quality!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Company Has Left

We had a great visit with daughter PJ and grandkids Makensi and Cade. Makensi cooked some great meals for us and is well underway to winning the World Championship of Sudoku. Cade taught me how to play Super Smash Mario Brothers and he beat Bob and me at a game of cutthroat. Last night daughter Lisa came over with husband Bob. She brought Bob's favorite movie, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua", which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Oh, in case you're wondering, the gorgeous woman between Cade and Makensi in the photo is none other than Jamie Lee Curtis aka PJ.

Monday, March 23, 2009


It's great having the grandchildren visit, but is the rifle really


Don't you just love warranties? You spend a lot of extra money to buy a quality product with a lifetime warranty. Peace of mind, right? That's one reason we had Casablanca fans installed when we had our house built. Our living room fan stopped working. I mean completely stopped. The lights and fan did not come on even after switching out the controller. No problem, it's under warranty.

The repair guy just left. The problem was a fried circuit board caused by lightning or electrical surge. Wow, now we have a chance to test out some other "peace of mind" that we pay for monthly! We pay our utility company a voluntary monthly charge for surge protection. It will be interesting to see if they say that there is no proof that an electrical surge caused the damage, vs a direct hit by lightning. How would you ever prove that?

I can't wait until the next person asks me if I want to buy an extended warranty!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Squaw Creek

We had a beautiful day today. Since the weather is turning wet, we took advantage of the nice day and took a drive up to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is about 30 miles north of St Joseph, MO. Although not the best time of year for photo opportunities, we wanted to get some practice before our New Mexico trip. More photos are in our web gallery.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's Here!

Yes, we're camera junkies. Can't resist a new model. The new Canon 5D Mark II has been so hard to find that we knew we had to get it when Crutchfield sent us an email saying they had it in stock. We called immediately and got the last one. The battery is charging so we haven't used it yet. Now we can't wait for our New Mexico trip!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

All's Well that Ends Well

The final result:

And the reward:


We got tired of seeing our over-crowded disorganized mess of a pantry. We couldn't find anything and whenever we took something out, several things crashed to the floor. My latest bright idea was to pull everything out of the pantry and get it organized in a logical manner. We filled a trash bag and part of a recycle bin with unidentifiable or old products (did you ever see white corn syrup turn into a solid, white, puffy mass?).

Now that we have it organized, we have a table full of things that don't fit! What do we do with this stuff? Why doesn't it fit after we got rid of so many things? Do we need to pull everything out again and start over? We were thinking about doing the same thing to our closet. Now I'm afraid to!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ruidoso, NM

We successfully redeemed our second lodging certificate (see Feb 20th post) for 7 nights in a 3 BR unit in Ruidoso, New Mexico (not Ruidoso Chile, Lisa). My brother and sister will join us for the weekend. We're really looking forward to it along with side trips to Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, and White Sands. Finally, an opportunity to try some remote blog posts!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Playing with HDR

I've become intrigued with HDR photography. I won't attempt to go into a long explanation of HDR, Google the term and you'll find more than you ever wanted to know. Basically, HDR (High Dynamic Range) allows you to capture a wide range of highlights and shadows in a scene. No matter how good your photographic skills and how expensive your camera, you won't be able to capture all the details in a scene with bright light and deep shadows. You can expose for the highlights, but you'll lose detail in the shadows. You can expose for the shadows and the highlights will be blown out. With HDR, you take multiple images of a scene at different exposure levels and then combine the images with software.

The photo below was exposed with a "normal" exposure reading in the camera.

Notice the lack of detail in the dark areas of the scene. The following is the same shot, but overexposed by 2 stops.

The bridge looks better, but the ice on the stream is blown out.

The next shot is intentionally underexposed by 2 stops.

Now the sky has nice exposure and the brightest parts of the stream have more detail. I know it's hard to see with these small web images, but you get the idea.

The three images were combined using Photomatix producing the image below. Now there is detail in all areas of the image.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

8 Week Followup Results

Just got the results for my blood test. It's been a little over 8 weeks since my heart attack. My Triglycerides were still a little high, but my total cholesterol is down to 145!!!!! That's at least 100 points less than it was 8 weeks ago. My HDL is still a little low (gotta drink more olive oil and fish juice....) but my LDL was nice and low. Overall, pretty good news!

Furniture Shopping - Yuck!