Saturday, December 30, 2006

An Evening amongst the Curio Collection

With Denver snowed in and our holiday visiting prospects dashed, Stacy and I decided to take the girls to see Night at the Museum on Christmas day. It did not disappoint. Besides the PR campaign’s complete lack of showcasing Carla Gugino’s involvement in the film, a fact that Jon says is a big reason not to go see the movie, it looked decent in the previews. It did not disappoint. Even at his most unbelievably awkward, Ben Stiller can still get a laugh from me. There were a few awkward moments, but Stiller got to showcase some of his comedic talents beyond being that guy we all like to cringe at. Robin Williams was remarkably reserved as Teddy Roosevelt. Limiting him to a single character with no zany voices really worked out. Owen Wilson (uncredited!?) was remarkably tolerable as the miniature cowboy hell bent on overtaking the neighboring Roman diorama. Perhaps the biggest surprise was seeing how spry Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs were. This was also the first time I have had the pleasure to see The Office executive producer Ricky Gervais onscreen. Or at least I thought it was. Reading his IMDB entry I found that I had already seen him as a guest star on Alias.

Stiller’s Larry Daley copes rather well with the shock of the museum displays coming to life. More interesting is his progression from get-rich-quick schemer to dependable leader and responsible dad with romantic prospects in the shapely form of Ms. Gugino’s Rebecca. Even William’s Roosevelt finds romance in the movie. We see Larry risk losing his first steady job in years, discover his inner strength, and defeat the treacherous villains with the aid of the entire museum before the end. Besides a couple of scenes that kept Vicki’s feet nervously kicking, such as the T-Rex skeleton bearing down on Larry before he realizes Rexy just wants to play fetch, the movie is an adventure anyone can enjoy.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Wireless Woes

Since we didn’t make it out to Utah before Christmas last week, our days were wide open. Stacy wanted to use the time to clear out the office and move Scarlett’s crib in there. Our hope is that we can let her cry in the crib without fear of waking the girls. Maybe then she’ll learn to self-soothe and we can get a decent night’s sleep again. Part of the office move involved dismantling the computer desk and moving it into the living room downstairs.

It only cost me $230 to do it, too.

Why 230 clams? Because my HP Media Center PC decided to spontaneously fry its power supply in the short trip between the office and the living room. I didn’t want to accept that it was the problem, but the rapidly blinking power indicator on the back of the supply was hard to ignore. We were also leaving the cable modem and wireless router in the room upstairs, so I had to get a wireless card for the HP, too.

230 smackers and a trip to CompUSA later and I have a working computer thrumming along with a powerful 500 watt supply and a brand spanking new Wireless-N network card. Who knew moving a computer one level down in my house could be so expensive?

Speaking of Wireless-N, I couldn’t be more frustrated with Linksys. It’s not really their fault that the industry can’t settle on the next high speed wireless protocol, but damn it, I can’t seem to get the same components in my network at the same time.

When I started building our wireless network, I used D-Link equipment. After many frustrating attempts to keep my computers on the network, I gave up and went for my tried-and-true brand, Linksys. At the time, they had come out with a new Wireless-G overlay called SRX. This used multiple-in, multiple-out channels to increase range and compression to increase speeds. I was ecstatic with the 108mbps connections I was making with my Dell desktop and work laptop.

Then I got my personal laptop. This is when Linksys first let me down. My new laptop has a PCMCIA express port, but Linksys doesn’t make anything but PCMCIA cards. Alas, I was stuck with nothing but the built-in wireless-G connection, back to 54mpbs for me.

Later, Linksys came out with new SRX protocols, including 2.0, 200, and 400. You’d think all I needed to do was upgrade the firmware on my router to use them, right? Wrong. SRX 1.0 is not upgradable. Thanks a lot, Linksys.

The latest wrinkle in my wireless network woes is Wireless-N. CompUSA no longer carries any SRX components. So my new wireless card in the HP is not compatible with my SRX network. If this draft of the wireless protocol happens to be the one that is picked for the industry, then I’ll have one component ready for the new system. In the meantime, I have one more component that is locked down to 54mbps.

How much will it cost to upgrade my entire network to Wireless-N? Around 230 bones.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Brain Hates Me

While going to bed with the wife away sucks, it does usually mean that I get more sleep. Whether it's the getting the baby for midnight nursings, comforting one of the older girls after a nightmare, or being awoken by a flailing arm, my nights (and Stacy's) are regularly interrupted. Add to that the fact that I can never seem to get to bed before 11:00 PM on work nights and you get an idea of how tired I am when I come in to work. Since none of those distractions exist when the family is away, I usually get a full night's rest any given night.

Just to make sure, I took some Excedrin PM last night. I got to sleep around 9:30, which wouldn't give me a full 8 hours, but it'd be more than usual.

That's why I was surprised when I woke up at 11:30. Muddled with sleep, I stared at the clock for a few moments trying to puzzle out how I could sleep all the way to 11:30 without waking up and why it was still dark outside. Ohhhh, 11:30 PM, well that's okay, I still had 5 hours to sleep.

Then I woke up at 1:30. WTF? Whatever, I still had more sleep time.

Then again at 3:00. Ok, now I'm kinda pissed off at myself.

By the time my alarm started going off at 4:25, I was only lightly sleeping. Angry at the entire situation, I hit my snooze out of defiance. I was going to get some more damn sleep even if it was only 9 minute increments!

I finally gave up a little before 5:00 and got out of bed. There's something about not even reaching REM sleep that really bugs me. It may be a wholly psychological thing or an actual physiological effect, but I always feel off when I don't get at least 4 hours of continuous sleep. I have come to the conclusion that my brain is angry at me for some reason. Maybe it was all the paint fumes I inhaled after finally painting that empty spot on the basement wall?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Excuse Me as I Wax Melancholy

There are few card rides that are more depressing than the one immediately following dropping your family off for a week-long trip. I know I'm being maudlin about it, but I'm in a funk right now and I'm hoping this will be somewhat cathartic.

I love my family. There are times when they drive me crazy, individually and collectively, but all the other times make the occasional annoyances well worth it. Nothing compares to the sound of three little girls shouting, "Daddy!" when I walk in the door after work. Snuggling a sleeping child is a close second. I have such a hard time sleeping in an empty bed that I will usually stay up into the wee hours of the morning to avoid it when my wife is gone.

I'm sure that by tomorrow I will feel my usual self. I'll most likely fill my time alone by watching a ton of movies in the theater, playing video games, and watching TV. Im working two days of OT this week, so my usual three day work week will be five. Hopefully the fact that I have to get up for work will help me get to bed at a decent hour. Then again, working OT on the swing shift kinda defeats that idea. However, the OT is uding the holiday, so double time and a half is coming my way. What better way to pay for two Christmases than some holiday OT?