The Ramblings of Jeff & Gilly...

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Holidays are approaching...

I think my mom might have bit off more than she can chew.

While everyone loves to get together for the Holidays, especially Thanksgiving, it usually means travelling to another city to spend the night with a family member or a friend. In our case, it looks like my younger bro and his family are coming over from Phoenix, my aunt and uncle are coming from soutern CA, and my cousin and his family are also coming over from CA. My grandparents are also planning on being there, along with Giliane & myself. All at my mom's house.

Needless to say, her To Do list is growing by leaps and bounds, with the big day less than two weeks away. Where everyone is going to be sleeping is unknown at this time.

On top of all that, Giliane & her friend, Jamie, are preparing for her companies Xmas party that we are going to be hosting at our house. This time, she & Jamie are doing an espionage-themed party. So I'm looking around the house writing my own To Do list that includes things like painting, scrubbing, cleaning, trimming, vacuuming, etc. Both inside and out. Gotta pick up dog poo outside, trim the oleanders (damn things are taller than our tree), and so on. Oh, mustn't forget: Xmas lights. We have to have our house completely decorated for Christmas by the time this party is gonna happen, which happens in the first week of December.

So, if you, or your significant other, are affiliated with Giliane's work, and will be taking part in this espionage party that is coming up, once again I'll be selling clues to the tune of $5 per clue. Larger bribes can result in more significant clues, so please bear this in mind. :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Long Time, No Gab!

Been a while since I put anything in here. Sheesh. Time sure does fly, doesn't it?

The summer if finally winding down for us here. It's been hotter-n-hell for a couple of weeks. Today, for example, it's supposed to be 111° F, with a chance of rain. Perfect. Hot weather, with a side of humidty. Ain't it grand??

Giliane & I are eagerly looking forward to the new Xbox 360 game, Rock Band - Beatles edition. Not that I'm a big Beatles fan, but we've played all the other Rock Band games to death. It's time for something new. I think I'm gonna have to be John Lennon. This keeps getting better & better.

Haven't seen many new movies in the theatre lately. We have watched quite a few at home that's worth checking out: Race To Witch Mountain (totally worth it - check out all the references to other Disney flicks!), Duplicity (ok, we've rented from Netflix, but haven't seen it yet), Leverage - Season 1 (awesome series on TNT - we're catching up!), and we're starting to have Murder, She Wrote, marathons. Just got disc 5 from season 1 in the mail.

The Labor Day weekend is rapidly approaching. Just found out my older bro and his family are coming down for a couple of days over the weekend. My brother loves the warm weather about as much as I do, so I hope he camps out by a pool! Giliane & I will be in Phx when they show up, but will be back late Friday. I think I heard they are leaving on Tuesday.

Our 10th anniversary is approaching. 10 years already! Giliane & I have been through a lot together, and I wouldn't have it any other way. In October, we'll have been together 12 years, starting out at that tiny little apartment in Tacoma, WA. I have a lot of fond memories of that apartment.

What else? Oh. It seems my snowbird clients are starting to come back into town. You won't find me complaining! I always wonder if I'm going to slow down during the summer, like I did the very first year I started J & G Consulting, but each year is busier than the previous one. I guess I'm doing something right! :)

Time to wrap this up! Football season has finally started. Go Redskins!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

What a week!!

What was it with the last couple of weeks? Let's recap, shall we?

First, Ed McMahon dies, longtime co-host of the Tonight Show w/ Johnny Carson. Not a super famous celeb, but most people know who he is.

Then last Thursday, in the morning, I read that one of the original Charlie's Angels passed away, from cancer. Farrah Fawcett. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.

Next up, later in the day, the self-proclaimed "King of Pop", Michael Jackson, collapses from a cardiac arrest. Looks like he was addicted to pain meds. No real surprise there.

Finally, yesterday morning, that annoying-as-hell TV pitchman, Billy Mays, was found dead in his home. Apparently he suffered some type of head trauma on a rough flight.

Obviously the big name here is Michael Jackson. But, of all of these people, that's the one I care the least about. I liked MJ a lot better in the 80s, and up through the early 90s. Then he started having freaky plastic surgery done. And, one can't forget the career-killing child molestation trials he went through. That, and it looks like he died in debt by more than 400 million. That's a "4" with 8 zeros behind it. Ouch!

At any rate, makes me wonder what is next?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Horror movie being filmed here...

I was never much of a fan of horror movies, but now, darn it, I'm gonna have to rent one when it comes out: Piranha 3-D. Why? Because it's being filmed here in Havasu. The first day of shooting is actually today. Part of McCulloch Blvd has been shut down, and the films leading actress, Elisabeth Shue, is in town for filming. Picked a mighty hot day, if you ask me. Oh, well.

A lot of news on the family tree front. Turns out I have at least two more uncles (my dad's half-brothers). Dad has already talked to one, who's living in CA. The other is still unknown, but steps have been taken in order to facilitate contact between everyone. We all look forward to getting to know our new relatives better! And boy, do I have some information about the family tree! :)

Ok, I have several clients I have to see this afternoon, so here's to an early start!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just say no to "MagicJack"!

You've probably seen the ads. Phone service with unlimited calls all across the US and other countries for only $20 per year. The only requirement is that you have a high-speed Internet connection.

What you get is a small device resembling a USB flash drive, with accompanying software. The premise is sound. This device uses your high-speed Internet to connect to the MagicJack computers, thus giving you dial tone for your telephone.

Now, the cons. And there are MAJOR cons.
1. The only tech support you get is a useless chat window with a MagicJack "tech", who can't do anything except read from a script.
2. There are no phone numbers to call, no humans to talk to.
3. The service isn't available everywhere. Oh, you could get it, if you want to, but the whole point is that you should get a number that is local to the city you live in. Here in AZ, you have very limited choices.
4. After performing research on the Internet, I finally tracked down the telephone number for the parent company of MagicJack, which advises me to wait on hold for the next representative. All that happens is that the on hold message is looped repetitively. No human ever answers the line.
5. Oh yeah, can't forget this part. Your computer must be on at ALL TIMES in order for this device to work. If the computer goes off, then there goes your dial tone.

I think these people had a sound idea for new technology, but lack the ability to support the demand for technology such as this. Everyone is eager to save as much money as possible these days, and if this device would have worked the way they claimed, then I would have been waiting in line to sign up. But I think they were seriously overwhelmed by the reponse they received, and are therefore unable to support everyone. Either that, or the people behind MagicJack are serious morons who are only out to steal your money.

Unless you're in a large, metropolitan area, and are willing to sign up for a service with no technical support should you encounter problems, then steer clear of this scam.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Front yard transformation!

It's taken about 4 weekends of work, but we finally have cleaned up our front yard. We've removed some plants, modified irrigation systems, and even changed our "grave" to an authentic landscaped mound, complete with tree and flowers.

The top picture is a shot of our front rose bed. It used to have just bare dirt, and no real definition to it. As you can see, we've added some colored landscape rock to it. Brown saddleback, if memory serves.

Next up we have a picture of our former grave. More landscape rock, as well as a little reshaping, with a bottlebrush tree and two purple lantanas. One lantana made for a midnight snack for some rabbit, so that was replaced. The other is growing, but had been snacked on before, too. Will have to wait and see if we need to replace it. You'll also notice that the oleanders have been significantly trimmed, bringing them back down to a normal height. I don't think oleanders are supposed to be taller than bamboo!

Finally, we have a front shot of the house from the street. From this picture, you can the big, green blob of a plant that used to be on the right side of our driveway has been removed. That thing was so disgusting that there was mold underneath it. Giliane was very glad to see that thing removed.
The next thing we're going to be doing is having some smaller river rock delivered and put a narrow border along the driveway. We've seen some examples of that and think it would look very nice!

The final step for the front yard would be to trim the oleanders on the other side of the yard. They aren't nearly as bad as the behemoths that were recently scaled back. But there's more of 'em. **sigh**

No rest for the weary!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Damn comet...

Snuck out of the room at 10:30pm last night, while Giliane was sleeping. I really wanted to try and take a picture of this green comet that I had heard so much about. Apparently, what I neglected to take into consideration is that this comet isn't that spectacular. Sure, it was visible to the naked eye. Sure, it was green. However, it was small. If you could find Saturn, which I could, then it was only about 2° from it.

So, trying to be as quiet as possible, I set up my telescope in the backyard, all the while the damn motion sensor light kept lighting up the neighborhood as I went in and out of our AZ room. Finally got the telescope aligned, using Sirius, Saturn, and Arcturus, I believe, as the three points of reference for the telescope's SkyAlign process. Beautiful. Time to get out the laptop and my CCD camera. Got it all plugged in, and went looking for this elusive comet. I found it, only the damn thing looked just like any other star. It had a magnitude of about 5, maybe 6.

By now I'm scowling at the sky. This wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to take a picture of something easily recognizable. So I pointed the telescope back at Saturn and tried my luck with taking its picture, adjusting saturation levels, gamma levels, and the like. It's a little fuzzy, but at least you can see the rings! This was using my 3x Barlow lens, too. I'm still learning all about the different options, so I hope to put a better picture up here sometime soon. Giliane is learning more about her new camera, so I'm hoping she'll be able to give me a few pointers.
I have a 30% moon filter that I can use with my CCD camera. I'm looing forward to trying the moon again. Last time wasn't too bad, but could have been better. Gonna have to get the A/C adapter for my telescope, though. That sucker eats batteries like I can eat Krispy Kremes. :)