Tag Archives: iTunes

Late to the Netflix Party

We love seeing this red envelope in the mail!

It’s entirely possible that we’re the last family on earth (or at least in the United States) to join the Netflix phenomenon. Why was I clinging to our now-defunct Hollywood Video and soon-to-be-defunct Blockbuster memberships?

I guess I’m just old-fashioned. After all, I still remember all the mom and pop video stores that dotted Chicago where I bought my first VCR back in 1980. The world was filled with VHS tapes, and all was easy to figure out.

But times have changed. I’ve watched our local Blockbuster make the transition from VHS to DVD. Now with Blu-ray threatening to knock DVDs off the video throne, I knew it was time to get with the program.

So I decided to go with the flow and sign up for Netflix. It has so much great content! But I didn’t want Netflix just for the DVDs. Video now is being streamed to smartphones, iPads, computers, and TVs; it’s just a matter of time before physical media like DVDs and Blu-ray discs are given the boot. Which meant we needed a device that would allow us to stream Netflix on our HDTV.

Apple TV: Small but mighty

Enter Apple TV! For a mere $99, this little hockey-puck substitute is a streaming giant (though it weighs less than a pound). It sets up easily and allows you to select video content from iTunes and Netflix. There are so many “free” movies on Netflix! My #2 son and I immediately watched “The Sandlot,” which is one of his faves. Since we’ve added the Apple TV and Netflix to our household, we’ve been watching season six of “The Office,” which we missed last season, as a family. It’s been fun exploring all the video possibilities that are at our Apple TV fingertips.

Of course, we still like watching DVDs every now and then. We’re on the one DVD out-at-a-time plan, and so far we’ve watched . . . one movie. What was our first Netflix choice? Did we go topical and edgy? Total laughs? Drama and Kleenex? Gosh, did we even opt for a flick we’d never seen?

Surely you jest!

We’re fans of Woody, Buzz, and the “Toy Story” gang!

After we saw “Toy Story 3” last summer in the theater, my younger son said he wanted to watch all the “Toy Story” movies back to back to back. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

The next DVD waiting for us to pop into the player: “Toy Story 2!”

Giving Thanks

The Beatles have come “home!”

When you’re at the grocery store this morning, and there’s a two-person traffic jam by the shopping carts, it gives you time to think about Thanksgiving. There’s so much to be thankful for!

• I’m so grateful that the Beatles, my favorite rock group, finally are on iTunes! I’ve been waiting seven years for it to happen, ever since I got my first iPod for my 50th birthday. I do own several Beatles CDs, but most of my albums were of the archaic vinyl persuasion. Not being into file sharing, I’ve waited not-so patiently for this historic digital download day, and I’ve finally been rewarded.

How often will I listen to the Beatles on my iPod now? Probably eight days a week!

My #2 son smirks.

• I suppose I should be thankful that I have a son who loves to challenge me photographically. Last night while we were watching “The Biggest Loser,” he was mimicking some of the contestants’ workouts by lifting weights. Of course, the minute I swung my Nikon in his direction, he stopped and just lifted his arm. Then he pulled a blanket over himself and used the weights underneath it where I couldn’t see them.

All while smirking. Good thing he’s so darned cute!

A couple of my #1 son’s favorites.

• Of course, the reason I was at Kroger in the first place waiting for the traffic jam to dissipate was because I needed to buy food that I haven’t stocked since the Labor Day weekend. Yep, my older son will be home from college tonight! We’re looking so forward to seeing him again and having our house back to normal . . . until Sunday when he has to go back.

He’ll return home for the long winter break on December 14th . . . when I could be facing that shopping cart traffic jam once again.

Tasty Tuesday (I Hope!)

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See that lone, naked spaghetti squash up there? I hope that at this time tomorrow I can regale you with tales of how tasty it was after it’s been cooked tonight!

80x80px-ls-365_organicI’m going to use a recipe that I found on Helloveggie.org for marinara squash. While it does have slightly more than three ingredients, one is the squash, another is marinara sauce (I just happen to have a jar of Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Pasta Sauce), and the others are olive oil, salt, pepper, and chives—I have everything! I’ve never eaten spaghetti squash before thought I’ve always wanted to, but I must admit that I was intimidated by the hard-shelled beast. But Helloveggie.org’s Jenn has me believing that I can successfully master the squash, so I’ll be tackling it tonight and, hopefully, enjoying it while I watch “The Biggest Loser.”

Oh, and yes, I photographed the squash on a very old Thomas the Tank Engine plate. And worse? We still use that plate (love that Thomas!).

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 Ten-Minute Tasks

There are so many needy contenders in the house! I’ve decided to pick the NuShield, which came a couple days ago. It’s pictured above in the plastic bag it came in and on top of the MacBook (the white border is the adhesive). It looks like it might take a good 10 minutes to carefully adhere it to my MacBook screen (I’m usually terrible at tasks like this), after which I will test it to see if it really helps with the glare. I like the idea of a screen protector, of course, but I’d love to cut down on the MacBook’s glossy screen’s glare.

I’ll also be spending at least 10 minutes when I bring the boys’ iMac back home and set it up again. The Apple store geniuses think there was a problem with the operating system, so they wiped the internal hard drive and reinstalled Leopard as well as iLife ’09. We have everything backed up on an external hard drive via Time Machine, but the geniuses want us to move everything back manually in case the problem also was backed up. Naturally, #1 son is worried he’ll lose some of his iTunes songs, but I think all will be right with his world.

Those TMTs are today’s get ’er dones!

Time-Traveling Thursday

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I just had to add that “Time” to Traveling Thursday in honor of “Lost.” I just hope I don’t get a nosebleed while I’m typing (cue the haunting music!).

I’ve traveled to our local library to type this blog post. This is the first time I’ve been back to the main branch in months; it’s been closed since mid-September when Hurricane Ike snatched away parts of its roof and flooded the building. Many books gave their lives that day, unfortunately. But now all the books are back, and there are plenty of tables or cubicles for laptop use, and it’s relatively quiet. And it was easy to tap into the free wifi. Yay!

the-little-princeLast night’s “Lost” episode was called “The Little Prince.” It was in reference both to Aaron, Claire’s son who is being raised off the island by Kate, and the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book that I and so many other French students read in high school (in the native French, bien sûr!). There are many parallels between the book and the episode; the best places to explore those are on ew.com (“Entertainment Weekly’s” website) and Nik at Nite. They deal with the minutiae of “Lost” much better than I do.

My next-door neighbor JJ e-mailed me when the episode started and said to stick a fork in her, she was done with “Lost.” And her son was the one who got us hooked on the show just in time for season 3! The time-travel part of the show (or “time-travel crap,” as she so eloquently put it) bothers her so much that she’s throwing in the time-traveling towel (yep, I did that just for the alliterative effect). 

Science fiction just ain’t for everyone. I’m not the biggest sci-fi fan, but I do get hooked on character development. “Lost” has presented us with some very fascinating characters! Our family still feels we have an investment in the show, especially given that it has a concrete end next year, so we plan to soldier on and continue to be captivated every Wednesday evening.

A few “Lost” thoughts

• I’m thinking that Miles definitely is Dr. Chang’s son. He had to have been on the island before in order to have gotten the dreaded (cue haunting music) time-travel nosebleed. He doesn’t remember having been on the island, so he must have left when he was fairly young.

• Sayid is one bad dude . . . loved the move he made when the “doctor” shot the tranquilizer darts at him!

• This would’ve been my reaction if I had opened the box that Sun received: Oooh, are any of those chocolates vegan?? Sun didn’t even pause to think that life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get (she probably never watched “Forrest Gump” while in Korea). And what she was going to get was some heat! Who sent the gun to Sun? Was it Widmore, who is anxious to be rid of Ben?

• When Locke turned over the canister on the beach and said, “Anybody know French?,” I figured it just had to be Rousseau and the other French scientists! And, no, my long-ago, rusty high school French did not enable me to translate what they were saying.

• How exciting was it to see Jin alive (I never really thought he had died) and to see the young Rousseau pregnant with Alex!

• Loved it when Sawyer said, “Thank you, Lord!” after the flash got the people who were shooting at the Left Behinders out of the picture, quickly followed by “I take that back!” when they time -traveled into a monsoon.

• Kate obviously really loves Aaron and considers herself to be his mother. Remember when Kate marveled at Claire’s natural ability to mother Aaron, saying that she could never do that? Yes, Kate, you can!

MacBook review

I had read many reviews about the MacBook’s glossy screen, more of them con than pro. I didn’t think it would bother me, because I’m used to the iMac’s glossy screen. And it’s not a problem at home most of the time. However, now that I’m typing in an environment with overhead fluorescent lighting, the glare is almost too much to take. I could never Photoshop photos here, that’s for sure. When I’m done here and have published this post, I’m hightailing it over to the Apple store a few minutes away and buying antiglare film. Apple really should reconsider its decision to not produce its MacBook screens with a matte finish; it’s much better in all kinds of light (our Powerbook has a matte screen).

iPod Touch update

fingerprint_definitionStill connected to the iMac with nary a fingerprint from the #1 son upon it. He reports that he’s up to the “J’s” in iTunes, as he methodically makes sure that every one of the several thousand songs he owns has accurate information as far as date, artist, and genre. He thinks he’ll be able to put the Touch into operation tomorrow. Stay tuned (pun intended)!

Gotta love the kitchen chair!

Kitchen Wednesday was successful! The chair looks like . . . an empty chair (albeit dusty . . . good thing the cleaning crew is coming!). Can we keep it clutterfree? Anyone taking odds?

Get ’er dones

Not much on the menu today. I easily got ready for the cleaning crew, thanks to Kitchen Wednesday. I’m going to take my final middle school boys’ basketball photos today (mostly of the eighth-grade A team). I’ll see if I can be good and actually cull and upload the photos to my external hard drive tonight. I need to do a DVD backup of my photos once these are Photoshopped, so I can delete pics from my memory cards.

Time to travel on to the Apple store!

“Lost” on Kitchen Wednesday

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Wednesdays are starting to join Fridays as favorite days of the week. I’m appreciating the added structure of the day due to it being labeled “Kitchen Wednesday.” Sometimes all I need is to give something a “catchy” name for me to buy into the activity!

The kitchen is looking like it usually does before the cleaning crew comes, even with the advent of Kitchen Wednesday (it might help to institute other kitchen days, I suppose, but that would, unfortunately, take the sparkle and shine off hump day). One thing that has virtually looked the same, though, well before this blog came into being, is the venerable kitchen chair (pictured above). This is an extra chair for our kitchen table, so, of course, it has become a depository for all kinds of clutter. The tower has continued to grow and will soon topple if I don’t excavate and eliminate. So that’s definitely on Kitchen Wednesday’s get ’er done menu. As is clearing off the kitchen table, going through the mail, and shredding. I also have the screen protector and protective case for #1 son’s new iPod Touch in the kitchen, waiting to be put on the Touch. That’s also on the menu, as is putting our new cordless phone system (pictured) into operation. 

apple-ipod-shuffleSpeaking of the iPod Touch, need you ask if #1 son has been playing it nonstop since it finished charging? Nope, it’s been tethered to his iMac the entire time while he clings to his trusty iPod video. His old iPod syncs to the Powerbook. That iTunes library has been moved over to the iMac so the Touch can sync there. But, alas, there are some mistakes in the library, like typos from iTunes and missing genres and artists. God forbid he syncs a song to the Touch that’s missing its artist or has an erroneous genre! Sometimes I wonder who his real parents are! His room is fairly neat, and he actually can find things in it. And he’s fussy about his iPods! The Mister and I are content with his-and-her Shuffles, which don’t have a screen. So we can’t see if the genre is even listed.

actual-ocarina

The #1 son did have a wonderful birthday. One of the gifts he asked for was an ocarina. I bought two, so his best friend (who is in the high school band) can harmonize with him. I also got the Mel Bay instruction book for the ocarina, mostly because I thought it was pretty funny that good, old Mel Bay has books for obscure instruments as well as for the guitar. I learned to play guitar when I about 12 years old using a Mel Bay guide! Knowing me, I probably still have it somewhere. Maybe I’ll find it in the kitchen today!

Great Super Bowl, Lousy Commercials

 

holmes-td-catchsuper-bowl-xliii-logo 

Super Bowl XLIII was great, the Boss was boss, but the commercials? Meh! Most of them were stupid, and a few even were offensive. The goal no longer seems to sell products, just to shock. The worst of the worst? Probably the AshleyMadison.com ad. I was surfing the ’net on my MacBook during the game (#1 son was doing the same and working on his iTunes collection on the Powerbook); when the AshleyMadison.com commercial aired, I just had to check out the website. Wish I hadn’t! Its tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Yes, it’s a website for people who want to have affairs! And it has a 100% guarantee! No thanks!

When the Steelers’ Santonio Holmes caught the winning touchdown pass, my first thought was: I hope one of the hundreds of photographers on the sidelines got a great picture! As you can see above, this photo was from the back, but it was nice how it showed that Holmes had both feet inbounds. 

Speaking of Photography

A note about Friday’s blog: If you’ve decided to buy a Nikon dSLR and intend to use it to take indoor action photos, be aware that the D40 and D60 can’t autofocus the 50mm and 85mm lenses. It’s fairly easy to manually focus the lenses (and sometimes it’s preferred so the sensor doesn’t get confused about what you’re focusing on), but if you think manual focus all the time would be a drag, look at the D80, D90, D200, or D300.

Hallelujah! It’s Finally Gone!

Yes, this will be the final time that I write about the entertainment center. The little beast is out of our house for good. The Freecycle gal came by to pick it up around noon Friday; fortunately, my neighbors Shari and T-bird were close by, and the four of us managed to hoist it into her pickup truck.

Even after we had bid the little beast a fond farewell, the Mister for some reason was still lobbying to keep it! I’m not sure what the problem is with the Mister and his reluctance to part with material possessions. I can understand how he felt towards the dresser he had had for 50 years, because it reminded him of his childhood (I Freecycled it to help a gal who had left an abusive situation). But the entertainment center?!? He was still pleading its case, saying we could’ve put it in the extra bedroom we call the playroom. That room is tiny; that’s why we never put a bed in it.

lemmingsized

If the Mister was a lemming, he’d be poised at the cliff for about a year, hemming and hawing, not sure whether to stay or go, hoping and praying that someone will make the decision for him. Eventually, another lemming would have to push him, just like I had to do with the armoire, the old TV, his dresser, and the entertainment center. I finally got a new TV by giving away the old one; I finally got a new car by making sure that #1 got his driver’s license and needed to use my car to drive to school. On the way down to the sea below, the Mister lemming would be saying, “Do you really think this is a good idea? Maybe we needed to stay on top of the cliff a little longer. Do you mind if I bring the entertainment center with me?”

Get ’er dones

I’ve figured out the digital frame, and I don’t like it. Unfortunately, it’s way too late to return it, so I’ll probably have to learn to live with it.

Tomorrow is #1’s 17th birthday. Seventeen years that seem to have flown by in the blink of an eye. I’m just glad that he’s aging, not me! Today really should be his birthday, because it’s when I went into labor (his due date actually was January 24). I remember thinking how 2/2/92 would be a great birthdate to remember; I should’ve realized that him waiting until the next day to be born was a harbinger of how hardheaded he would be!

wipeout-logo

ipod_touch

One of his birthday gifts, an iPod Touch (his third iPod; he seems to outgrow them every couple years), is on my list to buy today. I also need to grocery shop and, of course, work in the master bedroom (which really only needs to be done on days ending in the letter “y”). Hopefully, #1 son will remember to bring home his Verification of Enrollment (VOE), so we can renew his driver’s license after school. Relaxation this evening? “The Big Bang Theory,” of course, and watching the DVRs of “Wipeout,” a game show that was on ABC during the Super Bowl. #1 son and I especially enjoyed watching “Wipeout” last summer, so we’re stoked to see some new episodes.

Packet pickup

houston-marathon-logoThe Friday before the Chevron Houston Marathon/Half-Marathon has always been exciting for me . . . it’s when I get to pick up my packet, walk through the expo (which is pretty extensive), and possibly see runners I haven’t seen for a year. My “normal” world is as a stay-at-home mom in a small city about a marathon southwest of Houston. Most of my friends in this world aren’t runners or aren’t runners who enter races, let alone THE biggest race in Houston. Marathon Weekend is a world that my bestest friends aren’t privvy to. They know nothing about the excitement of the expo, the warmth of the Saturday night pasta dinner with long-time running friends, the nervousness of the George R. Brown Convention Center where we gather before (and after) the race, and the nervous energy of the starting line. They don’t obsess about the weather and keep checking justweather.com every day for 10 days before the event. It’s a different world . . . my special world that started before kids and hopefully will endure long after the kids have flown the coop. It’s a world that I always look forward to, no matter how abysmally I’ve trained and how worried I might be about my right knee.

This is the fifth-straight year that I’m driving to the expo with my friend Janet. Her daughter and my #2 son were in third and fourth grade together, and she’s one of the few serious local runners I know. She started out running the half-marathon and now runs the marathon. She’s waaaaay faster than me (but, then again, who isn’t these days?). She’s also had some leg pain, but, hopefully, she’ll be 100% when the cannon booms (and it is REALLY loud!) at 7:10 a.m. Sunday in downtown Houston. She told me that going with me to the expo has been her good luck charm; I’m glad to oblige!

Speaking of the right knee, I went for my second Airrosti treatment yesterday, and Dr. Satan . . . er, Dr. Kelly really put the hurt into it. I even had a little bruise! But the pain went away quickly, and my knee feels really good. When I ran yesterday, there was no pain, and my knee felt stiff from lack of use. I’m going to jog a little this afternoon to see if the stiffness is going away. I haven’t really run in 11 days . . . not the best kind of taper to do before running 13.1 miles!!

How did I do on yesterday’s get ’er dones? Made it to the treatment, shopped for a few too many groceries (it’s never a good idea to buy more than the number of reusable bags that you’ve brought), finally shred the junk mail, and hooked up the external My Book drive to my iMac and SO FAR Time Machine works. I couldn’t excavate in the master bedroom, because the Mister stayed home due to feeling poorly, and he was in the bedroom most of the day sleeping it off. I also quizzed both boys for their finals (hope they do better on their actual exams than they did last night!).

Both boys enjoyed early dismissal. #1 son had his best friend Chase over; they did stuff on the computer and (Super Mario) brawled on the Wii. #2 son had his National History Day partners over before going out to play football with more friends; the project is looking pretty woeful right now. Good thing that #1 son and I are pretty good in PowerPoint and can help them if/when they get their act together. I’ve told #2 son that I expect the PowerPoint to be done by Monday night (it’s due Wednesday). I don’t want any stress when we’re watching “The Biggest Loser” Tuesday!

As for today’s get ’er dones, I’m going to keep things light and easy in anticipation of Sunday.

• Go to the marathon expo with confirmation card in hand. I don’t buy very much there, but I will look for a vented running jacket with two pockets (the one I’ve used for years only has one pocket, and that drives me crazy at times).

• Shop at Walmart for a few incidentals (take in enough reusable bags; I hate getting all those plastic bags!).

• Check to see if I’ve done backups of old family photos to my Smugmug account; if I haven’t done them previously, then do them now!

• Try to hook up the Powerbook external hard drive to the boys’ iMac and copy their iTunes music to the iMac hard drive. That way Time Machine can back up their music, and I’ll have the redundancy I’m looking for without making 100 CDs!

• Short jog