Christmas 2014 Events

I’ve been putting off my post about Christmas for awhile. I was busy spending time with my family during Christmas break and didn’t set aside time to write then, but I am now!

My wife and I went home to visit our families. Her parents and mine live in the same town, so its easy to see both families when we have a break. We stayed with my family this time and brought our cats, Lucky and Carmelita, along.

We got to spend some quality time with both families, chatting, going on walks, playing minigolf, and playing card games.

The big news of the break was that my wife’s uncle (my uncle-in-law? Is that a thing?) is moving to Taiwan. He’s a doctor right now. He’s in his late 50’s, but he doesn’t have any kids. It’s likely that he’s saved enough for retirement at this point, although he isn’t calling this retirement. He plans to work on something else in the future, but it isn’t clear what that is.

His wife is from Taiwan and they’ve gone there plenty of times to visit her family, so it makes sense for them to move there. She works over the internet which she can do just as easily in Taiwan as she can in the USA until she chooses to retire.

The crazy part of this whole plan was that they plan to keep some sort of residence in Nevada even though they currently live in California. It was a little confusing to us, but it seemed to be for tax reasons.

And of course the most important part of any Christmas break, WHAT PRESENTS DID I GET?!??

First, we got two huge bags to carry all the loot in, one for my wife’s stuff and one for my things. We got a decorative glass apple which we’d like to display once we move to a place with more room. Our space for decorative items is filled up in our current apartment.

We got an ice tray specifically made to produce long and thin pieces of ice to put into travel bottles. A lot of candy, some candied popcorn, and my favorite, a chocolate orange.

I got two movies, one is a favorite of mine, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The other is Pirate Radio, something my dad claims I said I wanted a while back, but I have no memory of. It has a lot of my favorite actors in it though so I will most likely enjoy watching it.

I got a new iPad keyboard which I am using to write this post. It’s amazing and I love it. I got the Villainy board game that I played at Fake Chinese New Year’s Eve. I got an Imagine Dragons CD. I got a cool book, On Killing, that was recommended in the Harcore History podcasts. It’s about the costs and methods of training people to kill in modern society (soldiers mostly, but it touches on the media influence of other forms of violence as well).

I got an electric razor to give myself the 5 o’clock shadow shave that I’ve been wanting. I got a pair of bacon and egg magnets for my fridge. I got a Snow Wars t-shirt. It shows Han Solo and Chewbacca having a snowball fight, only they are illustrated in Calvin and Hobbes art style as if Han Solo is Calvin and Chewie is Hobbes.

I got a puzzle and a new pair of scissors (I did want these things). I got a new lab coat to wear at work. I got a hand blender due to a mixup on my Amazon wish list (might still use it!). I got all of the Hardcore History podcasts that are no longer available for free on iTunes (Awesome!). I got a cookbook solely for making stuff in the microwave. I’ve looked up recipes like that in the past and I’m very happy that there is a whole cookbook devoted to microwave recipes.

My wife got us a pair of shirts to wear. She got me a bread knife. I also got her a bread knife. There was a miscommunication. She got me Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods which I’d been wanting for a long time. She got me a ton of funny hats as well. I now have a pizza hat, a viking helmet, and a Poro hat (Poros are cute and fuzzy League of Legends animals).

Soooo many presents. Fortunately, most of them are small and I was able to find places for all of them. Let me know what presents you got! Or just your favorite one!

-Mister Ed

The Death Knell of my iPod

Here lies a dying breed, the iPod classic.
Here lies a dying breed, the iPod classic.

Alack and alas oh readers of my blog! For my iPod is slowly dying!

I got this iPod about six years ago back and it has served me well in its lifetime.

But now… Now it refuses to connect to my computer!

I can still charge it using the cable, but iTunes no longer registers that the iPod is connected.

I looked the issue up and found a post on Apple’s support pages from 2012 which listed a number of solutions to my problem, none of which worked.

I probably reinstalled iTunes a dozen different ways in an attempt to fix this issue, but it still refuses to interface with my iPod.

And I’m sure its not the iPod. My computer still sees the device. I could remove and add things to the iPod manually, but the music is coded and difficult to rearrange. Plus, that process is a whole lot harder to deal with than using iTunes like I have in the past.

My reading on the issue makes me think something got messed up in my computer’s registry when I updated iTunes from version 11 to version 12. The registry of my computer is some internal programming section that I can’t normally access to fix and if I did go through the steps to access it I might irreparably damage my computer for ever and eternity.

I could go to the Apple Store for help, but since the problem is with a Windows PC I don’t think they’d be able to help.

Likewise, because the problem is with my computer, getting a new iPod might not necessarily work either. Plus, they don’t even make the iPod classic that I have anymore! It’s all iTouch, iNano, and iShuffle now. None of them have the same storage capacity as my six year old iPod which is frankly a little shocking. My collection is sitting at 45GB right now and the largest iTouch is 64GB, so I wouldn’t have to make any hard choices. I’d still be missing the assurance that a new device would even work with my computer though.

The most frustrating part of this whole experience has been how long Apple has known about this error in iTunes code. The support page I found indicates they’ve been aware of this issue or a similar issue for the last two years and haven’t fixed it. Peter Jackson’s finished two movies faster than that!

The core of it is that Apple won’t fix an error when the error only occurs on their competitors machines. Its turned me off so much to their company that I’m now looking into getting a different MP3 player.

So… Any suggestions?

-Mister Ed

Hardcore History

A couple weekends ago I went home for a birthday party for my wife’s maid of honor.

Most of our friends still live in an area around our hometown, so when we visit them my wife and I visit them we inevitably end up visiting our families as well.

While there her dad told me about a podcast series called Hardcore History.

For awhile I’d been looking for something to listen to on my car rides to Sac State. Music gets old pretty quick for me, talk radio is too political, and NPR is way too varied in their topics to be consistently interesting to me.

In the past when I’m driving, cleaning, or some other long boring chore I’ve listened to a lecture series put out by the Teaching Company.

My dad gets the lecture series and shares them with me. My favorites are lectures on Greek and Roman classics, but eventually I listened to nearly everything the Teaching Company offered on those topics.

I got a few things from the library, but its difficult to find the perfect audio book to listen to.

My father-in-law’s suggestion turned out to be spot on. Each podcast of Hardcore History is immense. I’m listening to a four hour one now on the fall of the Roman Empire.

The podcasts are also extremely varied. Before the Fall of Rome there was an episode on the events leading up to the Red Scare in the USA.

Plus, the podcasts are free! At least the most recent ones are. The older ones are $2 each and all the older ones can be purchased at a discount.

Hardcore History podcasts don’t come out very often. On average there is a new episode every three months. Eventually I’ll catch up and be without free episodes. I’ll decide to buy the older episodes at that point. No need to rush myself yet.

Either way, the episodes are pretty cool. Dan Carlin is a great storyteller who goes to great lengths to draw parallels between the historical period he’s talking about to the modern world. Quotes from source material are used in the lecture to back up Carlin’s interpretation of events.

The podcasts are quite long, which isn’t for everyone. Plus, Carlin doesn’t know how to keep his voice at a constant level. Every few minutes I need to adjust the volume on my speakers because he’s shouting or whispering.

I’ve had a lot of fun listening to the podcasts. If you’re into history you should try them out! My father-in-law said so!

-Mister Ed