Sunday, February 27, 2011

Warm work...

...chasing these tennis balls!


Crispy on the bottom of the pool.


At the Hommocks Pool for Crispy's weekly SCUBA class (he's got the yellow mask band and snorkel). Any second now they'll disappear under water and I'll get to stare at an empty pool for 35 minutes or so, good thing I've got my Nook to keep me amused ;)

Friday, February 25, 2011

So, what is a Nook Color?

As promised, more about my new Nook Color...

As you know, I have an Amazon Kindle (2nd gen), and in fact so does Jackie, and so does Crispy (his is the newest 3rd gen one), and we all love them!

The Nook is the Barnes and Noble (big US bookstore, both brick and mortar and online) version of the Kindle which also has the e-ink screen. The Nook Color is their newest version with a full colour 7" 1024x600 capacitive touchscreen and wifi access.

What Barnes and Noble don't tell you is that the Nook Color (NC) is in fact a full Android tablet that they have locked down to be just an e-reader with a basic web browser and some very basic games. BUT...with a little work you can root the NC (gain full access to the file system) to unlock it to be a fully functional tablet with full access to the Android Market and all the fabulous goodies that that allows you to install.

So, being as I really wanted an iPad but couldn't afford one, along with the fact that I love a challenge and the idea of making a piece of technology do more than the people who sold it to you want it to, I got myself one last Friday- and I love it! For much less than half the price of the most basic iPad I have a tablet that will let me read books, watch movies, play games, browse the web, email, and more!

That's my desktop to the right (sunset over Tobago- it does lovely screenshots) with the basic apps I use most- and yes, that's the Android Kindle app so I can read my Kindle books on my Nook :)

There are some fabulous user communities online where I got most of the info and files etc. to unlock the NC, most notably androidcentral, xda developers and nookdevs. With a little reading of their excellent sites I have rooted my NC and made it do pretty much everything I want it to. The only thing it's really missing is the ability to play flash, but that's because it's running Android 2.1. There is a way to make it run 2.2, but that's not quite as stable and you lose the dedicated Barnes and Noble e-reader software (which is actually very good). There are hints that B&N are going to be putting out an update to 2.2 in the very near future, so I will wait for that (and for someone cleverer than me to then jailbreak it).

It also only has wifi access and so needs an access point to get online, but as I just found out that if you are an Optimum internet subscriber (which I am for our home internet), you can use all of their hotspots for free- and they pretty much cover all the local towns. And if I go further afield I can turn my phone into a hotspot and get online through that :)

So I have to say that I would heartily recommend this over a lot of the other tablets I've seen out there- it's cheaper, has a better screen than most, needs no subscription, and plays Angry Birds beautifully! In fact, if given the choice, I'd think I'd even choose this over an iPad :)

In full spate!

What with all the rain today, along with all the snow that's melting, Holly's stream (where she cools off in the summer) is an angry, brown torrent!

Crispy's new CafePress store

Crispy just came up with this joke about fishermen, so I had him draw a Halibut to go with it and he's opened a store on CafePress to sell bags and T-shirts etc. with it on.

So if you know a fisherman who'd like a gift with Crispy's Halibut on it, go to

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An appreciataion for the classics...

On the way home from walking the dog this afternoon I stopped briefly in at Barnes and Noble to grab a screen protector fro my new Nook Color (more about that later). While I was in there I grabbed a copy of Bill Cosby "Wonderfulness" on CD for Crispy as we had just been listening to a Bill Cosby sketch on the comedy channel on XM in the car. We listened to the classic "tonsils" on the way home, and Crispy is now in his room listening to the rest of the CD. I can just hear Bill doing his classic "go carts", occasionally drowned out by Crispy's laughter :)

Monday, February 21, 2011


My son has just completely destroyed me in two games of chess in a row. I knew teaching him to play was a bad idea ;)

Snowy woods

Holly and I decided to follow the cross-country ski tracks and do the long, 4+ mile loop. It's gorgeous!

Good news and bad news...

4" of snow means-

Bad news- I had to spend the morning shovelling out the church :(

Good news- then I get to break out the snowshoes and go tramping through the woods with my dog :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sleepover time

Crispy and a couple of his buddies are having a sleepover in the undercroft again, here they are playing Star Wars on the XBox.

We just sat and watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with them- they seemed to enjoy it, but I think I laughed more than they did. Oh well, it's 36 years old, so I think it did pretty well to hold their attention and get the laughs it did. It'll be interesting to see if I hear any of the usual quotes from the movie from them in the next week or so...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Report Card

Crispy's Q2 report card came in the mail today: he's on the High Honour Roll again with nothing lower than a 90% (and a 99% in Science!) and a GPA of 93.25%!

I saw Race to Nowhere, and I know it's not all about grades- but Middle School seems to agree with him. He's doing the work (and seems to be enjoying most of it), and he's found himself a pretty awesome bunch of friends. I am SO proud of him!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beware the Ides of March!

Crispy is playing Caesar's ghost in his Social Studies class tomorrow, so we made him a nice shirt to wear as a costume :)

Come on people!

The snow outside has reached that nasty grey stage where it either needs to melt or be covered with a nice, fresh layer of white. And I noticed this morning, while doing my usual early walk around the block with Holly, that there are an amazing amount of frozen dog turds sitting proudly atop the snow.

This led me to wonder what it was about snow that makes people think it is OK to leave their dog's shit for other people to deal with? Do they think there will be more to cover it up, or are they in too much of a hurry to get in out of the cold?

I will admit that I am one of those fanatical dog owners who feels it is very important to clean up after our dogs so that they still be allowed in parks etc.- to the extent that I will occasionally even pick up after someone else's dog. But there are turds every 20 feet or so out there, and it's disgusting!

So come on people- clean up after your dogs- in the snow the shit stands out even more against the white background!

(file this in the hey-you-kids-get-off-my-lawn department)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Noble Beastie

And here are a few pictures of my noble dog!

She loves her tennis ball!

She really is a noble beast...

...or is she just a doofenshmirtz?!?

Pretty Pictures

I had my Canon DSLR with me today when I went to walk the dog, here are some pretty pictures-

Sun on the trail

Tree stumps in the snow

Winter trees against a winter sky

Leaves that don't know any better

Top Gear in Lego!

Found this while browsing the interwebs with my morning cup of coffee- those of you who watch the British motoring show Top Gear will find it funny, those of you who don't won't.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


Our version of a tailgate party :)

I don't really care who wins- I just hope the commercials are good ;)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Boytalk :)

Walking the dog in the woods with my son (lucky I've got a spare pair of icecleats to wear so I can give him my YakTrax).

Life is good!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Holly is a sled-dog

Just wanted to add another winter product endorsement :)

I keep going on about how much I love my Tubbs snowshoes and my YakTrax ice cleats when I'm posting about being out in the woods with Holly, but I haven't forgotten about Holly's feet in the snow.

I make sure to apply a good layer of Musher's Secret wax to all her paws three times a week without fail at this time of year. It's a protective wax I discovered halfway through last winter that was supposedly developed  for sled-dogs, and it certainly seems to work for Holly! She seems to love the taste of it (she licks it off if I put it on at home), so I keep it in the back of the car and apply it in the parking lot at Saxon Woods, right before we head off on our walks. If I don't use it her paws get pretty cracked and rough and beaten up in the snow, what with the cold and the all the salt in the parking lot and on the sidewalks, but with it her paws stay soft and healthy- and no bootees required :)

Eerie landscape

After another happy morning chopping and shovelling ice I am finally back in the woods with my dog :)

It's a weird, icy landscape; much too icy for snowshoes, but thanks to my faithful YakTrax I am able to walk safely on the layer of ice that's covering the snow.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I'm done!

At least for the day!

I waited 'til 10 (when the temperature just broke freezing) and then went out. The sidewalks needed a four stage approach:
1. pound down on the ice every 6 inches with the ice chopper to break the surface
2. then run the ice chopper along the sidewalk to lift the ice from the concrete/stone
3. run the snowblower along to break up the chunks of ice and blow it away
4. sprinkle a very light coat of ice melter to take care of anything left and prevent refreeze tonight.

This meant that I did the sidewalks in 50 yard sections, slow and steady wins the race :)

So, finally all the street sidewalks are done, along with the fire exits for the nursery school and the parish hall kitchen. Tomorrow I have to tackle the columbarium pathways and all the various doorways of the church (including the stupid ramp, which is usually almost as bad as the nursery school lower exit- see this previous post for my feelings on that!).

I feel kind of bad that I didn't get to take the dog out for a proper walk- she had to make do with 10 minutes of chasing a tennis-ball around the parking lot- we should get back out to the woods tomorrow. But for now I'm shot. I see a hot bath and an early night in my future!

I was right (unfortunately!)

The good news is: Jackie's school is indeed closed.

And the bad news is: I was right- it's ice-choppers and sharp shovels. I've been out for 2 hours and I've just got the 3 entrances to the buildings cleared (about 200 yards of pathway total) and it's already icing over again. This is not going to be a fun day!

The ice storm cometh!

Just got the word that school is closed- thank goodness! Everything is covered in about an inch of ice and it's extremely treacherous!

I've just come in from spending about 40 minutes chipping my way into the boiler room (and cursing the decision to do away with the inner door into it from the AA room about 14 years ago!) because one of the boiler alarms went off at 4:55am.

Jackie's school is apparently opening at 11:30, but I hope that changes because her car is encased in ice and it's a skating rink underfoot!

Right, quick cup of coffee and back out- not sure how to tackle this one- I think the snowblower is just gonna skate over the top of this ice, so I fear it's going to be a case of hand chipping and shovelling and using up my rapidly dwindling supply of ice-melter :(

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England

As a service to all my American friends, here it is, explained at high speed :)

More health benefits of dog ownership :)

Interesting story on the BBC website (and elsewhere): Moderate exercise such as walking 'boosts memory power'

They found that "Moderate exercise increased the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that makes memories, in 120 volunteers."

So not only is walking the dog every day keeping me from getting (too) fat, it's stopping me from getting stupid too :)


We seem to be in the lull between two sections of the current lousy weather. We've had snow, sleet and frreezing rain this morning into the early afternoon, and we're due more of the same- but with an emphasis on the ice- this evening and tonight.

Holly is having to make do with some intense tennis-ball work at the park before I head out to clear the sidewalks in time for the evening rush-hour.