Like the car?

So, the family and I (and by "family" I mean my Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother-In-Law, Niece, Nephew, Nephew's Girlfriend, Cora and The Daughter) all spent a week together for my parent's 50 Wedding Anniversary out in Huron, Ohio.  Their actual anniversary was in January, but Mom wanted us all to vacation together as a family for a week together.

On the second night we were out there, we were having dinner at a restaurant, and I called the waitress over to ask her a question.


SCOPE - "There's a town south of here called 'M-I-L-A-N'.  How do you pronounce it?"

WAITRESS – " 'MY-lin'."

SCOPE - "Oh, that's how we pronounce the name of the city in Illinois, too.  But I was wondering if you pronounced it 'Mi-lan'…

WAITRESS - "You mean like the car?"

SCOPE (pokerfaced) - "Yes, like the car."

Not the city in Italy, people.  The thing that spring to her mind was the discontinued Mercury Milan.  I cried a little inside.


Forgive Me, Cora, For I Have Sinned

Church of Spiders

The other night, Cora was VERY TIREDDEAD TO THE WORLD tired.  And there was a fly buzzing around the house.  A big, gnasty, loud fly.

And we had roughly this conversation:

Cora – Close the (bedroom) door.  I don't want that fly in here watching us sleep.  The pervert.

Scope - (Closing the door.)  Good thing you don't sleep with your mouth open, you might swallow him in your sleep.  I know an old lady that that happened to.

Cora - (Mumbles sleepily) Really?  What happened?

Scope - (Not believing he got away with that one) Well, then she swallowed a spider.  One thing led to another, and she swallowed a horse.  She'd dead of course.

And then I got booed and smacked in the arm.  I know she was in zombie mode, and it wasn't fair to try something like that on her, but it was T.O.T.A.L.L.Y. worth it!

Which got me thinking of the spider fact I read read a while ago:

"You're never more than 10 feet from a spider."  That's right.  Right now.  Where you're reading this, there is a spider, lurking, somewhere within 10 feet of you.

Or maybe closer!


For those of you who are not fans of the 8 legged beasties, here are some facts, swiped from the Animal Planet website. Sleep well.

  • AP - Unlike insects, spiders cannot fly--but they can balloon! Young spiderlings pull out silk until the breeze can lift them into the sky. Most don't travel high or far, but some have been seen at altitudes of 10,000 feet and on ships more than 200 miles from land. Most ballooners are very small spiderlings, but adult spiders have been captured by planes with nets. 

    Scope – Not only can they climb up walls and then repel down from the ceiling, they've joined the airborne Rangers and bring death from above!
  • AP - While most spiders live for one year, a few may have more than one generation each year. Some spiders can live 3 to 4 years, and certain tarantulas are known to live for 25 years or longer.

    Scope – So, what they're saying is the spider has time to wait you out, planning the right moment to ATTACK!

    However, any spider within 10 feet of my wife has a life expectancy that can be measured in seconds, not years.  (Unless it crawls under her bed, regrouping for battle.)
  • AP - The fisher or raft spider is able to walk across the surface of a pond or other body of water by skating like a water strider. When it detects prey (insects or tiny fish) under the surface, it can quickly dive to capture its dinner.

    Scope – So, you thought, "10 feet, I'll live on the water.  Spiders can't get me there."  Wrong!
  • AP - Some spiders live underwater all of their lives. They surface to collect a bubble of air, which acts as an underwater lung. An underwater spider fills its bell-shape web with air bubbles and derives oxygen from them.

    Scope – That's right, under water, too.  Spiders and sharks.  Probably teaming up right now.
  • AP - Bolas spiders make webs of a single line with a sticky "ball," or bola, on the end. These spiders can twirl the bolas in the air. Moths are attracted to the smell and fly toward the web until they hit it and stick. The spider then reels in its catch.

    Scope – So, even if you aren't near them, the spiders have developed long range weaponry to mess with you.

Oh, and St. Felix of Nola is real.  Not the church, I totally generated that sign, but the dude is the patron saint OF (not protection FROM) spiders.  Because spiders need a saint.

And "Felix" means "lucky" in Latin.  And you're just lucky that this guy isn't the spider that's within 10 feet of you.

Or is he??? 


Overdue Tech Update: Part 2

So where was I?  Oh yeah, trying to hook up the new home theater system.

Church of Scope-Tech-01
Honestly, it wasn't too bad.  The wires were color coded, and since I'm not running wire for true rear speakers, I just set them out wider.  So it was all hooked up and ready to go in about 15 minutes, and that's when the pain started.

See, I have a great universal remote, the Harmony 1 (old post about it).  It's great.  It's "activity based" so you press, "Watch TV" and it turns on the TV, cable box, and home theater, and knows which to use for sound, which controls the channels, etc.  Same when you watch a movie.

The problem is, now sound system is pulling triple duty.  It's the sound system, and the disk player, and the control center routing everything to the TV.  Before, TV and Blu-Ray were on different TV inputs, and switching between the two was cake. (Not the band).

Annoying point made simple:

  • I can program the remote to "Watch TV".
  • I can program the remote to "Watch Blu-Ray".
  • I cannot get the remote to GO BACK to watching TV.
  • I spent 8 hours over that weekend trying to get it to work right.

Now, I've written my share of code in the last, oh, 30 years that I've had computers in my life.  I've written financial reporting systems for multi-billion dollar companies.  So, when I can't program something to do what I want, it's like a surgeon who can't carve a Thanksgiving turkey because the electric knife is too in-elegant of a tool.  They get cranky, fast.  Top that off with the fact that there's a 10 – 15 minutes cycle every time you make a change with using the interface on the computer, syncing the command string to the main server farm, and then having it blow the instructions in the the remote.  I got very unhappy.

So no, we are at a place where in normal operation, if you hit "Watch TV" it works fine.  If you hit "Watch Blu-Ray" it works fine.  But you will need the home theater remote to get off movie and back to TV.

I'm in the process of trying to create a new macro called "Back to TV" but need about 3 hours, and no one else trying to watch TV at the time.  I'm saving that project for some other time.  When I'm feeling more ambitious.  Right now, I'm like 80% done, and that's good enough for now.

Will there be an update Part 3?  Well, probably sometime in the future.  I've go to spend some time tinkering with the "Go Back To TV" bit.

Then comes the tricky part.  For an early Father's Day, Cora got me the WiFi dongle for the home theater.  We can then use it for streaming Hulu & Netflx and stuff.  (Not that we have a Netflix account yet, just sayin…).  And that will require another macro or more programmed into the universal.  Or, I just accept the fact that I'm going to need to start using the devices remote more than I want.


Overdue Tech Update: Part 1

You all know that I don't like getting rid of tech that works just for the sake of something new and "better".  Or you would if you read the post about my clock radio or my razor

My model, but from the internet.Well, over the last year or so, my Sony MHC-991AV shelf top mini stereo system has been fading.  Purchased some time in the late 90's (I was throwing a party and decided it was time to upgrade from a boom box), it has served me well.  Recently it's only function was to take the output from my TV via two RCA plugs, and pump them through some speakers to give the TV a little better sound.  (That's what the "AV" in the name means, in case you missed that bit.)  Well, about a year ago, it developed this nervous tic where when you turned it on, the 3 CD changer carousel would eject.  We'd shove it back in.  No big deal.   Well about 2 months ago, it would only eject the tray so far, and then it would sit there, grinding with the little motor running.

Imagining our home bursting into flame one day, we decided to replace it.  So, I went out looking for another shelf top system that would take audio input.  How hard could it be, right?  I was dreaming of coming in under $200.  I'd paid about that 15 or more years ago, and electronics get cheaper as time goes on, right?

Well, since my 46" LCD doesn't have an iPod doc; no luv on the cheap stereo.  It seems that the ubiquitous RCA plug that has been around since the 1930's isn't being added to much any more.  I did find one $500 Sony system that was orange and chrome and neon lights and huge as a house.  No thanks.

Finally, I bit the bullet and decided to look at "home theater" systems.  Total overkill for me, really.  I live in a condo with hard wood floors and neighbors all around.  I don't need a THX certified rumble, I just need better sound than I'm getting out of the TV's dinky speakers.  To justify the price bump, going "home theater" would also replace my aging 2nd gen Blu Ray player that took 5 minutes of stuttering and flashing to spool up a disk.

Searching and scouring both on-line and a couple different Best Buys & Targets, I finally decided to try Abt Electronics.  On-line, it looked like they had a model that would do me just fine.  Abt is a Chicagoland electronics store.  "Store".  Singular.  And awesome.

Cora and I drove up there a few weeks ago (passing THIS on the way) to finally buy the replacement.  Abt advertises all over, and has a loyal customer base.  Walking in, you see the head shots of all the people who have written to them about how much they liked the store and the service.  Yeah, there's a lot of local sports stars, and newscasters and such.  And then you see Obama up there.  But he's not the most impressing.

The nerd-gasm is seeing an older picture on the wall.  The man was talking the praises of how they'd set up his living room system. He said that it looked like it had more knobs and switches than mission control in NASA, and they when they put in the laser disc (yes, laser disc) of "Apollo 13" it shook the house like you were there.  And Jim Lovell should know.  Astronauts are cool.

Abt is a huge, beautiful store full of wonder.  And I don't mean "beautiful" from just a merchandise POV, the place makes you feel like you are shopping in a high end boutique shoppe.  That happens to be the size of the flight deck on a aircraft carrier.  We found the right department, and after explaining what I was looking for, the clerk showed me the LG LHB336.

Tech Update - Home Theater

It had everything we were looking for, except a $399 price tag.  (Amazon lists it for $329).  Oh, but wait, it's "open stock"?  Meaning someone bought it and returned it?  It's got the warrantee?  It's just missing the box and packing I was going to throw out anyway?  And you'll cut the price in HALF?!?!

Well, sir, I think you have a deal.

And things were going so well until I tried setting it up the next weekend.

To be continued…


Yo-Yo Ma - n

Honest, I have some real stories to tell all of you.  And some of them are cool and/or interesting.  Honest.

But in an attempt to keep you around until I get a chance to write them, here's a trippy video of some yoyo tricks where the yoyo stay centered in the frame.  Warning, do not watch if you've had one too many.

And here's one for all the people who hate the new captchas and passwords and all that annoying internet security stuff.

Now, get out and enjoy the weekend!