Sunday, August 31, 2008

Taking advantage of the long weekend

Since I won't be able to use any vacation time (yet) at my job, the Geofamily decided to hit the road this long weekend and check out a new destination.

Kansas City.

Besides adding another state to the 2008 tally this sojourn also gives us a chance to see another part of Kansas and visit a truly interesting urban area. (But as an aside, I'll be glad to return to my small-town home. I'm just not into the city stuff anymore.)

I can't say I took much surprise in the landscape. I already knew KC was somewhat hilly, despite a lot of Americans thinking this place is flat as a pancake. (Must be that MGM-set-designed-to-look-like-putative-Kansas-I'm-talking-about-"The-Wizard-Of-Oz" that fosters that myth.) Numerous big green trees gives plenty of aesthetic appeal as well.

And then there is the food

I've blogged several times before about BBQ so I don't need to explain myself.

And guess what this place has in abundance?

You will enjoy this: We arrived in the city yesterday midday and decided to do lunch at Arthur Bryant's. This one was not the downtown location but rather the one near the Kansas Speedway. It's an area populated by the latest in suburban power retailers and chain restaurants. That last point is important in this retelling. We knew the Arthur Bryant's was in the area (gotta love the Net) and were trying to pick out its location from among the numerous red-bricked eateries. A couple of minutes before spotting our target, Geogal (sarcastically) said: "Look! There's a Famous Dave's."

And my response? "I didn't drive all the way to barbecue capital, USA, to eat at a Famous Dave's."

(In all fairness, Famous Dave's is OK. But they're a national chain. It's like going to the most Italian-American area of New York City and then dining at an Olive Garden.)

The verdict on Bryant's? Deee-lish! The pulled pork beats all. We can thank the Travel Channel for cluing us in to that place.

And lunch today? Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue. As Bryant's was dry barbecue, Jack Stack is wet. And both have their merits.

And no, I don't have my cardiologist on speed dial. In fact, I don't even have a cardiologist. Supper for both evenings was salad, heavy on the green stuff. Plus I exercised this morning and plan to do so tomorrow as well.

One thing we are not able to do this trip: see a Royals game. They are in Detroit at the present time. So, Geosister the elder we will not e-mail you a picture of Geogal eating a pretzel while sitting in Kauffman Stadium.

Maybe next time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Warning: Esoteric babbling ahead

You're choosing to read anyway?

I'm following an earlier post. One that dealt with the chore of pulling in over-the-air TV. But for me it's not a chore, rather it is a delight.

This afternoon found me at the Macbook keyboard, learning which outdoor antenna might suit me best. Then I circumnavigated the house to determine the best placement. Just for fun I attached some rabbit ears to the bedroom TV. Nothing but snow.

I am becoming familiar with names such as Winegard, Terk, and Channel Master. Along with all of this is the realization that there are many Net forums out there and just as many differing opinions about which product does "x" job the best.

Again you may ask "why?"

Not only do I like the challenge, but local TV reception is important during harsh weather (something we have plenty of in these parts). Since we have DirecTV, I don't need to be connected to the local cable company, even though most of their channels from 2-13 are devoted to area channels (in fact, each of the Big Three networks plus PBS has dual representation).

However I don't care for the remainder of the fare offered on the local CATV service. And since I have all of those channels plus several dozen more, why bother paying another bill? (Geodad must be so proud.)


In most populated areas, the digital TV channels are almost always on the UHF band. This means most folks who want the free over-the-air DTV just need either rabbit ears or a relatively small UHF-only roof (or attic) antenna.

Not me. Not here.

First there is the issue of distance. The TV offerings come from over 70 miles away as the crow flies, save for two--KSNK and KLNE. Add into this the digital TV fact of life that you either get it all or you don't get any (no snowy picture, you see) and antenna size plus originating signal strength become big issues.

So big, in fact, that I'm willing to spend extra for a rugged outdoor antenna. A large one. Add in other accessories such as an antenna rotor and a preamp, and this becomes an interesting do-it-yourself project. Fortunately it's not brain surgery so if I don't get it right the first time I can tweak and adjust as necessary.


Part of the homework involves looking at the coverage maps on TV Fool and seeing what is possible for my location. Then I check out other sources to determine what the final channel assignments will be following the full-power analog shutoff this coming February.

Some interesting finds. First I read that most of the UHF digital signals will eventually be one million watts. Good! Might reach me just fine. Then I start to see the final channel assignments for my area. KHGI (one of the best for local severe weather coverage) will be on channel 36. KLNE will go to 26. Yes!

But KSNK, KGIN, and KBSH will ultimately stay on VHF (12, 11, and 7, respectively). Whaaat??

Then it dawns on me. Maybe the FCC wanted to keep these channels VHF because the signal still travels farther than a UHF frequency would. Considering many of the viewers of these stations are quite a distance from the transmitter site, this could make sense.

It's interesting to think about what I might pick up with a decent antenna on top of the Geohouse. It'll be more intriguing to learn what actually happens once everything is set up.

Of course I'll keep you informed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Still here, just other stuff getting in the way

I'm glad I don't write for anything that has a deadline attached to it.

I've spent the last many evenings either getting the house in order or engaging in some home-study continuing education activities. (Yes, I do work full-time in a career that has nothing to do with mass media.) And in the slight leisure time I had I chose to watch all of the "Torchwood" episodes that had accumulated on the DVR. (My temporary quarters had cable, but didn't offer BBC America.) Plus catching up on the pleasures of being around my loved ones.

Don't ever take that for granted.


I've also learned to enjoy small pleasures. Such as seeing the lightning bugs after dusk. Or enjoying the mild days and cool nights.

I haven't even talked about the back yard yet. It's small, but lively. Green as all get-out. Noisy with the crickets and cicadas at night. And being on the edge of town has certain advantages: Wildlife.

Since moving in, we've noticed numerous squirrels and rabbits. And just behind our property we occasionally are visited by a doe and two fawns. We've already had a few stare-out contests with mama deer. (The humans are always indoors, by the way.) One of our friends tells us come fall we can expect wild turkeys out there as well.

You can't put a price tag on tranquility.


The re-doing of the house in our own image has already begun. Courtesy of a trip to Home Depot in Hays a couple of weeks ago we now have new locksets on the doors, a more organized garage, and a really cool stainless steel range hood that awaits installation. Yes, the kitchen is getting a fair amount of attention. The dishwasher we now have is new, and the refrigerator should be coming any day now.

Piece by piece, it's coming together. Of course, Geogal wants to engage in the knocking out of walls, but as we're moving slowly and with cash, she will just have to wait.

Not too long, we hope.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

New to the region

Geogal and I are still trying to get our hands around it being early August and us having the windows in the house open. Air conditioner off.

Take that, you readers in sweltering Texas and Arizona!

Thunderstorm blew through early this morning. Early. 3:30-ish early. But none of us cared since it was just a few hours into the weekend. Sometimes losing a little sleep isn't the end of the world.

We're not going anywhere out of town today. That's fine for all involved. I have several chores on my to-do list, including changing out the locksets on the front and back doors of the house. Not that I'm concerned about previous owners having keys to MY house, but the knobs are just getting old and little Geoana has trouble getting the front door open. And yes, I know. Most folks in this burg don't even lock their doors. But for me, I can't break certain city habits just yet.

And I do know that I shouldn't rub in our nice weather to certain readers of this blog. My comeuppance will arrive sometime in January. Geogal said by that time we will be so desperate to see the sun that who knows what we will do?

Let's see--what's the high in Phoenix supposed to be today? Somewhere in the low 100's.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tripe that I owe the readers

Really, it's not my fault. Our Internet connection at the new Geohouse was knocked off for a few days. I think it's one of those Sir Isaac Newton laws: for every technological advance there is an equal and opposite step backward.

Just temporarily, of course. The 'Net connection is back up and running today and life is again pretty good. We had the DirecTV guy come and install the dish properly (I couldn't get it aimed right) but in the process he cut the coaxial line bringing The World to our cable modem. I tried splicing it to another live line in the house, but to no avail. (You would not believe how much RG-6 cable is in, over, around, and through this hacienda. One might swear the prior owner owned stock in Dish Network.) Another visit by a different communications professional corrected the problem.

Other than that, not much to report. We went to Grand Island, NE last Saturday for the Geofamily to load up on Sam's Club and a Real Grocery Store Not These Little Small-Town Establishments That Think Lamb and Fresh Fish Are Exotic Items. (Geogal's standpoint, not necessarily mine.) I have to get my mind around the fact that every time we leave town and hit a big-box retailer (even though the big boxes here aren't quite as large square-footage as we are used to) we will walk out with the bill totaling in the three figures. Gone are the days when I could drive 5 minutes to Lowe's and walk out 10 minutes later with two small items.

But come to think of it, that's not a bad thing. Just another part of the adjustment.

And to the Geofamily, I will post some pics of the house on our Kodak Gallery account in the coming days. Geodad, I need you to e-mail me as I cannot get through on the address I have.

More fun ahead...