Sunday, August 28, 2005

New Camera - Posted by Chris

Well after many months of delaying we finally broke down and purchased a new digital camera. Our old camera just had too many problems and though it still took pictures, each new issue made the camera more frustrating to use.

Our new camera is a Sony Cybershot DSC-W5.

I have to admit was initially hesitate to purchase a Sony as I know of at least two individuals who have owned Sony cameras and have had problems. Despite the problem both individual loved their cameras.

I was also slightly resistant to the idea of having to use Memory Stick media rather than SD media which isn't a proprietary format (Memory Stick format is owned by Sony.)

In the end I gave in because I decided that these concerns didn't outweigh some of the really nice features of this camera.

One great feature is the 2.5 inch LCD screen. The larger screen really makes it easier to take and view pictures. I don't think the added size can be fully appreciated unless you see it side by side with a smaller screen.

Another nice feature of the DSC-W5 is 32MB of memory built in to the camera. If you've ever forgotten to put your Compact Flash, SD or Memory stick back in your camera only discover that it missing after you've already left home, you'll appreciate being able to still take pictures.

Third, many of the Cybershot cameras can take video. Now this isn't DVD quality video so it’s not going to replace a DV camera if you have one. But it’s really nice if you only have your digital camera and want to capture some video of a special moment.

Obviously this camera's not perfect and other more advanced cameras are available but so far this looks like a perfect upgrade from our old camera.

Monday, August 15, 2005

First Concerts - Posted by Lisa

One of the many rites of passage on the way to growing up is the first concert. Most of us can recall who we saw, how old we were, where it was held, and the ringing in our ears after being exposed to sounds that could be measured at decibels reserved for commercial jets.

My first concert was The Bee Gees, the summer before 6th grade, the Pontiac Silverdome, and yes, my ears rang until I fell blissfully asleep that night. I’m certain this is my first concert, although around the same time I also remember accompanying my parents and some family friends to see Willie Nelson at the Jackson (Michigan) County Fair. No matter which one was first. At both venues, the smell of marijuana in the air was strong enough to (theoretically, at least) give an 11 year old girl a contact buzz.

Chris’ “first” was Motley Crue, 16 years old, IMA Arena in Flint, and I’m sure his ears rang as well. I will defer to him on what kind of buzz, if any, was involved.

Our son Christopher, on the other hand, has now been to his first concert at the ripe old age of 20 (months, that is). The air quality in the Palace of Auburn Hills today could be most accurately described as pristine. In fact, the only buzz I am aware of was that of the sugar high and the sheer toddler euphoria that can only come from seeing live and in person a purple octopus, a 7 foot tall brown dog, a rose-munching green dinosaur with yellow spots, a friendly pirate, and 4 goofy but loveable guys dressed in red, yellow, blue and purple.

That’s right, we have now experienced The Wiggles live. If you haven’t heard of The Wiggles, they are a preschooler’s answer to the Beatles; a musical group of 4 men from Australia (3 of whom are preschool teachers) who sing about the virtues of “Fruit Salad” (Yummy! Yummy!), drive onto stage in their “toot toot, chugga, chugga, Big Red Car”, and have kids and parents alike dancing in the aisles to “Can you point your fingers and do the twist.”

For a short time, I think Chris and I both wondered if we had rushed this first concert experience a little too soon. At first, Christopher just sat on Chris’ lap as the tears started to well up in his eyes despite seeing his Disney Channel heroes on stage before him. In fact, it took several songs before he started to relax a bit. But when I picked him up to do “the Monkey Dance”, I think he finally started to realize that this was supposed to be fun! For the rest of the show, he decided to sit in his own seat (thank you very much), eat some crackers offered to him by the nice mom behind us (thank you!), and giggle, yell and point at the varied characters that crossed the stage.

After the show had ended, he went home with a souvenir (of course)…

…then we ate dinner at Stir Crazy at Great Lakes Crossing Mall and played on some cushiony, oversized assorted foodstuffs.

All in all, it was a good day to be a toddler.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Our Deck - Posted by Chris

Well after months of work our deck is nearly complete. Today my Dad and I finished up with the materials that we have. I still need to order a couple of banisters, a piece of fascia and some lattice however we are able to use our deck now.

For the curious, the decking material we used was Veranda decking which is only available at Home Depot. The material itself was great, no major problems, just as easy as working with real wood, however because is a composite material there is no maintenance (save occasionally washing.)

Here are some pictures...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"Cry Havoc... - Posted by Chris

...and let slip the dogs of war." -- William Shakespeare

Today began the first battle of our official war on stinging insects; wasps to be exact. The yellowjackets drew "first blood" when they stung Lisa while she was pulling weeds in our backyard.

After evacuating the women and children (to the house.) I began my reconnaissance mission around the yard. I noticed that several yellowjackets were flying around the area where Lisa had been working. They did not appear to be swarming, however several were flying in and out of a gap between two blocks in the retaining wall. I made a mental note and continued my mission. At the side of the house I took the following photo:

Definitely action was necessary. Before I was able to leave the area I was attacked by more yellowjackets from this nest:

Escaping unscathed, I returned to base to re-arm and launch my counter-strike. Armed with the latest in anti-wasp technology, I attacked six separate sites. Casualities on the wasp side are estimated to be heavy. By the end of the day, we had destroyed or rendered ineffective four paper wasp nests and two yellowjacket nests.

Unfortunately this is but the first salvo in a war that will likely last for several months. I have already identified at least two more yellowjacket sites and suspect more nests are yet to be discovered.

We will keep you posted as the war drags on.