Thursday, January 29, 2009

We didn't start the fire

So my wife and I were watching Jack Bauer bust some terrorists tonight when this strange high-pitched warbling sound started blaring through our apartment. I thought it was from the show and didn't think much of it, but after a little while I muted the TV and sure enough, it was coming from down the hall. It sounded like a fire alarm, so I popped my head into the hallway to check it out. While I didn't exactly see smoke, I could smell something funky, so the two of us decided to play it safe and get the heck outta there.

We put on our coats, grabbed our laptops and a couple other things like a cell phone and our wallets, and walked out to the front where a few of our neighbors were gathered on the street. Honestly I was just glad we weren't the only ones who decided to vacate--it made me feel just a little bit better knowing other people were thinking the same thing we were. I asked around and no one had called 911, so I dialed them up and told them what was going on, namely that our building could be on fire. Not so good.

A few minutes later some fire trucks pulled up and teams of firefighters rushed into the building which, though the alarm was still blaring, seemed perfectly fine. Turns out it was, actually, and 15 minutes later they gave us the all-clear to head back inside. Near as I could gather, someone on the first floor left a skillet of chow mein cooking a hair too long. So mega props to the firefighters who showed up super quick, checked things out, and even held the doors for all us shivering apartment-dwellers as we went back inside.

But hey, even if the place had burned down, at least we had that sweet off-site backup hard drive for my wife's dissertation. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Deals (with a z)

Ok, so this might seem a bit excessive, but what the hey. Back in October my wife and I bought a third external hard drive for backing up both of our computers. We partitioned the terabyte drive into two 500 gigabyte drives, giving one to each of our computers for backing them up. Well, we realized this weekend that, in the unlikely event we have a fire, robbery, or are invaded by Canada, my wife's entire dissertation could disappear if, in said event, both her computer and the backup drive were damaged, stolen, etc. So we pondered a few options for an off-site backup, finally deciding on an additional 500-gig drive that she will keep at her office on campus. We trolled the tubes for a drive that was cheap but reliable, finally settling on a Western Digital MyBook drive that Best Buy had on sale for $89. Turns out the drive wouldn't work with ourfree backup software we got with the terabyte drive. Sad.

So today we returned the MyBook to Best Buy, and lo and behold, we found a 500-gig Maxtor drive for $20 cheaper at the same store. Cha-ching! After that we went to a Circuit City down the road and snagged two movies for cheap, thanks to their Going Out of Business sale. I have a sneaking suspicion they are operating on the Kohl's philosophy of raising prices and then offering the same items at a "discount," but the bottom line is, we gots two movies for cheep. Nice.

Yesterday we went to Saint Cloud to hang out with my cousin Beth and her husband for a while. We hadn't seen their new apartment yet, and it was nice to make the (very chilly) trek an hour north to spend the evening eating quiche (delicious, Beth!), playing Clue, and watching one of the greatest episodes ever of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It had been a few years since I watched The Best of Both Worlds, but it was every bit as outstanding as I remember, despite the limited sets, costumes, and special effects. In fact, the episode is all the more impressive given the limitations of the production crew. Anyway, it was a great time, and Beth, if you're reading this, I hope you get your internet situation resolved soon. :(

Time to get a few things in order for work tomorrow. g'night everyone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

800 Feet to Freedom

Last weekend, as predicted, was a pretty good time up at the ol' cabin. Hardly any snow, though, but that didn't stop us from trying to conquer the hill with a rubber inner tube anyway. We didn't exactly make it very far. :) In lieu of good sledding, though, we spent the weekend playing video games, playing cards, watching movies, and all the usual things that make the cabin so enjoyable. We also played a good deal of ultimate frisbee, including one game in the dark (glow-sticks courtesy of Evan. Thanks, man), and walked all around the cold, muddy terrain of Moses Merrill. Saturday afternoon a half dozen of us went around looking for a geocache, which we found, and the next day my brothers put a new cache in another part of the woods. Here's hoping someone finds it before next year.

A few days ago we got our second set of tripod legs, which means we now have two sweet tripods for doing wedding videos this year. When my wife and I started filming weddings a year and a half ago we had one really oooooold, flimsy aluminum tripod I got from my uncle, and another really oooooold, but not quite so flimsy, aluminum tripod I borrowed from another uncle. And now we have, using income from these video projects, been able to purchase two nice cameras, two nice tripods, and even a new iMac to boot. Not bad, I think. This year's video income will mostly go toward a house down payment, which is far cooler than any number of tripods. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

A bit chilly

It was a cold drive to work this morning...

On the plus side, though, my good little 1998 Corolla faithfully started right up, as usual, and after a minute or so of warming up in the parking lot, I was on my way. And, as my wife often points out, we get an extra minute of daylight every day throughout the month of January. Summer's coming folks! :)

We head for Nebraska tonight for the annual Camp Moses Merrill retreat, something my friends and I have been doing for the past ten years or so. We all make the annual trek to a two-story cabin an hour north of Lincoln where we basically just spend the weekend hanging out. There might not be much snow for sledding, but it's going to be a great weekend of playing cards, board games, capture the flag, football, ultimate frisbee, and Nintendo. There's also plenty of eating, watching the campfire, watching movies, and usually a Bible study too. We actually started going there when some of us were in youth group way back in ninth grade, and it was so much fun we just kept it up over the years. So here's to a good weekend, and hopefully a safe drive. *tips can of soda*

Sunday, January 11, 2009


It dawned on me recently that Ringsmuth Video needed a bit of an overhaul graphically, so this weekend I opened up my new copy of Fireworks CS4 and set about redesigning the header, brushing up the couple images I have throughout the site, and generally tweaking things here and there. And for the most part I'm pleased with the result. The original header graphic had, in addition to the title, pictures of a giant 8MM film reel, a VHS tape, and a CD-ROM. Not exactly confidence-inspiring, to say the least. The new one does away with all that and has simply a picture of some 35MM film, designed to simply evoke the idea of "movie" or "videos" in the mind of the site visitor. I have also added a subtle texture to the "Digital Video" text to hopefully, you know, make more, computerized-ish. Anyway, I hope it works.

I also totally re-did Tom Frye's web site with iWeb. While it's far from my web site editor of choice, it does do a great job of kicking out a good-looking site in short order. It's light years ahead of the old one, which I whipped out five years ago using only a bare smattering of HTML and CSS knowledge...but hey, it worked for its time.

One of my personal mottoes is "do not put off until tomorrow what can be done today," and I have found time and time again that, no matter how much I might resist following that little mantra, things always turns out better if I do. Case in point: after church my wife told me my front passenger-side headlight was out. I figured I would change it sometime this week, or maybe in my dad's garage when we visit Lincoln this weekend. She asked me later on if I planned on changing it soon, and I kind of hemmed and hawed, for no good reason, really. I just didn't want to go out in the cold, remove a fuse box, pry off the rubber gasket, get at the bulb, and stick in a new one. But the temps later this week are going to be hovering just below zero, so really, there was no better time than today to do it. So I went and got it taken care of, and I'm just glad I did. It's a simple thing, sure, but having not put it off anymore, I don't need to think about it anymore. :)

Oh, and last Friday we got our final Christmas present of the season, courtesy of my mom:

Thanks, Mom! And thanks to my wife's mom for the post office assistance. *wink*

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It's all over?

Johnny Cash said that he's been everywhere, and while I can't quite claim that degree of omnipresence, it does feel like I have traveled quite a bit during the past few weeks. We spent the days around Christmas visiting family up in Montana, as we often do, and it was great to see people and also get a lot of nothing done. :) I also spent a ton of time with my new copy of Chrono Trigger DS, thanks in part to much encouragement from my brother Tom. I also found out, tangentially, that riding an exercise bike is much easier with a DS and a pair of headphones. We did some maintenance-type stuff around the house too, for which my in-laws were very happy, and probably took in too much chips and junk food too. But what are ya gonna do?

That's what I thought.

After Montana was a trip to Lincoln, and you can probably fill in the blanks like usual. All the staples of a great trip were in place: Family, friends, Amigo's, Valentino's, card games, and, her place on this list notwithstanding, my niece Janessa, who remains, objectively speaking, the World's Cutest Niece.

And then, just like that (or so saith Kaiser Söze), it was all over, and were back in Saint Paul in zub-sero weather once again. In fact, yesterday on the way to work, my car's back door actually froze open. I had to drive with my right hand on the wheel and my left hand stretched behind my seat, holding the door closed with all my frozen might. It's all part of the fun of winter, though, and a year from now when we're basking in 30-degree Decembers down in Oklahoma, I'll probably miss this stuff.