Welcome

It’s all about relationships. First with God. Then with self. Then family, both natural and extended through work, school, church, neighborhood and world. My old approach to the web was editing httpd.conf and I was always missing out on spending time playing with my kids.

 

Zero to Boston

I haven't done updates here for a while but I've been busy... running. On May 29, 2016 I qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon by running the Mountains to Beach marathon in Ventura, Ca. in 3 hours 50 minutes and 17 seconds.  As I thought about making Boston less than a year after deciding to run my first marathon, I realized I had an interesting story to tell so I gathered journal entries I'd made and wrote a book "Zero to Boston" in just under two months. 

Revisions and proofreading started in early August and as soon as I got my email confirming I was in, I went on Amazon and clicked the link to allow my book to go live.  Check it out as a paperback on Amazon or in Kindle and Nook ebook formats.  The book is also available at Hansons running stores in the Detroit metro area.

A Tasty Combination

I love peanut butter. Usually I buy Jif Natural with the brown lid and I often snack on it on whole wheat Ritz crackers.  I sometimes wonder "What could be better?"  Now I know...

The other day a friend gave me some of Trader Joes' Peanut Butter with flax and chia seeds before we went for a run. Yum! I bought some right away. I already had some Vaccaville Farms dried apples (from Costco) and I wondered how these two would go together.  It's too good to be true! 

In Loving Memory of Michele Kendall

It's been four months now since my beloved wife of 25 years, Michele passed and perhaps it's time I got around to posting something. 

For those who didn't make the viewing or funeral, here is the text of the obituary along with a photo from May 2014...

Jeff's Cable Cutting Guide: Part 5 - Tivo Roamio OTA

Well I just went out and bought a Tivo Roamio a few weeks back for well over $150 and today I read that Tivo now offers an OTA-only box for only $49 plus their $15 a month subscription.  To me this is a no-brainer for any cable cutter and blows those ChannelMaster DVR+ and other so-called "no subscription" boxes out of the water.  I'm sure that as always if you are willing to pay for 30 months of Tivo in advance, they give you a lifetime subscription.

I'm not going to take mine back. I'm happy with it and while I can't ever see myself dealing with Comcast ever again, I don't want to ship the thing back and ask for a refund to get the OTA version even though there would be over $100 in it for me.  Perhaps I'll give Tivo a call and see what my options are. I'm sure they don't want me sending mine back during my 30 day no questions asked period any more than I want to do it.

From my previous article, I mentioned that Tivo boxes have a superior tuner compared to normal TVs and those ChannelMaster boxes.  I would assume the same is true for the Tivo Roamio OTA box.  

Jeff's Guide To Cable Cutting - Going to Tivo - Dumping ChannelMaster and iView

Well I've had it with Channelmaster. What a hunk of junk. Several software updates and STILL this thing fails to record unless I do a full factory reset. Do you know how long that takes?  So I'll be shelling out $15 a month for the rest of my life but at least I'll have a device that works.  I also tried an iview DVR which only cost $30 on Amazon.  Another hunk of junk.  I plugged in an external terabyte drive and sure enough it records but if I try to program the remote to recognize my LG TV it fails.  Epic fail.  So I'm not only buying a Tivo, I'm picking up a Tivo mini to provide DVR function in a second room.  

Left: Tivo Roamio, Middle: ChannelMaster DVR+, Right: iView Converter Box (with PVR)

I suppose I should stick with the tutorial theme here and share what I have learned.  First, I'll talk about the current flavors of Tivo.  There are 3. The Roamio is the only unit for cable cutters.  The Roamio Plus and Roamio Pro won't even work for OTA TV.  They are really aimed at cable card users.  Then there's the decision whether to pay $15 a month or $499 up front for "lifetime" service.  Lifetime means as long as the Roamio lasts and I'm not willing to bet the thing lasts longer than 2.5 years without failing so I opted for the base model that requires monthly payment to keep it running.

Get A Mac!

I spent some time yesterday suffering through Windows XP and Seven for a friend of mine.  You can't easily share files from Win 7 to Win XP and vice versa so we were left copying files over using a USB stick.  You can't easily copy a bunch of files using Windows Explorer which is looking for an excuse to fail in the middle with 1.6 gig out of 8 gig of files copied so I had to download third party copy software from a Chinese Language site.  THIRD PARTY COPY SOFTWARE?!?  Then there was the whole "Windows Live Mail" cannot retrieve and display mail in less than 20 minutes.  Outlook 2010 on her old XP machine was getting test messages instantly but Windows Live Mail, a free download with Windows Essentials seemed to be too busy doing nothing to be bothered with something as mundane as retrieving email.  After wasting close to 3 hours on these and other issues, I'm not in a Microsoft-loving frame of mind today and today I came across an image that just sums it up quite nicely:

 

Church

Palm Sunday isn't really the best time to tell a congregation their newly merged church is in danger of closing and doing it in a town hall after an already long Gospel reading from Mathew makes it even more annoying.   I guess finance might not be the only missing course on the curriculum at a Catholic seminary. Every now and then a priest says or does something to make me wonder if a course on Tact is missing as well. 

In the several days since then several email threads have been flying back and forth but one person chimed in to say there is a difference between having religion as a PART of your life versus a situation where religion IS your life.  This short statement from my friend Ward helped me to decide how to best respond and that response involves growing roots someplace new. For posterity, here is the banner from our former church's (pre merger) web site. The domain will expire in a few weeks and the site will go dark.

How to Get Rid of a Telemarketer... Nicely

I found a nice article on Lifehacker today that explains how telemarketing works and provides the best way to get rid of them.  I really dislike getting phone calls trying to sell me something I do not need or want.  They waste my time and deprive me of much needed down time after a long day at work.  I agree with virtually everything in the article except the part about not showing them any human kindness.  These people are getting yelled at, hung up on and otherwise ignored all day long.  

This situation reminds me of a quote I heard saying that basically I might be the only Bible somebody gets to read.  If I'm ignoring or hanging up on one of these people, I'm not exactly being true to my own values.  What I recommend is politely ending the call.  You treat the telemarketer with the utmost respect, even asking them something like how is their day going and then firmly state your need to hang up and make sure they understand you do not need them to call back later.  The risk is that they put notes in your file that might lead to more calls but if you have the energy to spare, spending a few extra seconds being hospitable before you terminate the call might make all the difference to somebody suffering in one of those telemarketing "boiler rooms" where they make hundreds of calls a day.

More Snow

Well we've gotten within 3 inches of the most snow in (recorded) history for Detroit.  I'm sick of it. I'm sick of looking at it. I'm slick of falling on ice when I try to walk the dogs. I'm tired of not being able to open my car door in my driveway next to the 2 foot snow drift that was once my lawn.  

My neice doesn't even call and ask me to take her to the snow hill any more.  Even she's sick of it.  

A couple of guys at the office are saying they think we should go for it!  We should get one or two more little snowfalls so we can at least get credit for all we've endured this winter.  I say that after all this it really doesn't matter.  Two days before thanksgiving I picked up a bag of bulbs to plant for spring.  I knew that it was cold but I expected a thaw in early December that would allow me to plant them anyway.  Then January.  Then February.  It's time for the freakin' thaw already!

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