Halloween Decorations

Friday, September 28, 2007 at 3:52 PM | Filed under ,

The Halloween decorations are up! Some of you may argue that it's too early to be putting up decorations for a holiday that is still at least a full month away, but I have my reasons. First, the autumnal equinox was on Sunday. From now until spring, we have more nighttime than daytime. This seems like a logical time to put up decorations for the spookiest, creepiest holiday. Secondly, since it's darker and crummier outside, it's very critical to get decorations up inside to compensate. It has to be fun inside; it sucks outside.

Here are four pictures of Halloween decorations. The first is a rubbery cat, and it looks pretty convincing. It doesn't look totally fake. We got it at a Halloween store a few years ago. It's one of the few decorations that doesn't go back in the garage after Halloween--it's usually kept downstairs. The second picture is a pair of squeaky rats, displayed ominously on top of the shelves. We have five of these rats (two are missing) and a baby rat. I have been able to find these rats at Value Village, in case you want some. The third picture depicts a bunch of gourds we got earlier this week. It looks like they don't like the cold weather or something. You should be able to click any of the photos for a closer look--maybe you can diagnose what's wrong with these gourds. We've only had them outside a few nights. I think we may need to keep future ones inside.

The fourth is a picture of my favorite Halloween decoration: Spooky Cat. I found Spooky Cat last year at Safeway, and had no option but to buy it after hearing it meow. It starts with a few innocent mews, then a threatening growl, then garbled, haphazard noises that sound like nothing I've ever heard from a cat. View the video to hear it yourself:

If you really like Halloween stuff, I strongly suggest you check out the Halloween Countdown at X-Entertainment. It can best be viewed through his blog pages. He started it on September 17, and tries to make an update every day, but he usually gets tired after a few weeks. He also has a link to his awesome Halloween jukebox available in the first Halloween post.

By the way, a few people told me they didn't know how to leave comments here. It's easy. At the end of every blog article is a line that starts with "Posted by Brandon Dilbeck". At the end of that line is a link to the comments. You can choose to log in with your Google or Blogger account if you have one. If you don't have one, don't worry. You don't have to sign up for anything. Click Other, and just type in your name. If you'd prefer to remain anonymous, you can choose that too, I guess.

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Outage Outrage

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 at 1:52 PM | Filed under

Since May, construction workers have been working across the street from our cul-de-sac. For those of you unfamiliar with my cul-de-sac, it opens up into the side of a steep road. Across the street from the cul-de-sac used to be a small forest, but that's gone now. They cleared the forest and will put up some townhouses or something.

They've been a general nuisance since day one. First, they get rid of our lovely trees, and with that, our lovely sense of privacy. (Not that I promote deforestation or anything, but at the very least, we get a little more sun without the trees, so perhaps we'll have less snow lingering during the winter.) They also messed up the street, too! It was recently repaved and very nice, but they tore it up to put in plumbing and stuff! When they were repaving (sloppily, I might add--it doesn't look smooth anymore), they blocked off both the top and the bottom of the hill, making it impossible to get a car in or out of the cul-de-sac. Yesterday, for the better part of an hour, they blocked off the mouth of our cul-de-sac (see picture). But today, they've taken it a step too far. They've cut off our power!

I returned from my first day of school not too long ago, and Mom was here for her lunch break at the same time. We noticed that the power was out when Mom opened the fridge to pull out some leftovers. No fridge light! I also noticed that the Jellybell wasn't turning on. (Oh, Jellybell's my desktop computer's name.) I found this annoying, because I had some school stuff I wanted to do. On her way back to work, Mom stopped to ask the construction people if they were responsible for the power outage. She called me on my cell phone to inform me that they would have the power off for several hours! She also reported that they weren't really very polite about it, either.

Aren't they supposed to give notice before cutting off the power? Seeing how nobody was home at the time, I guess there was no one to give notice to. But still... I hope they finish soon. They've been working there since May, and they still don't have any buildings up! They have a few foundations, I guess, but come on! They spent what seemed like months just pushing the dirt around.

I'm typing this on Scooter (that's my laptop), leeching the Internet from some neighbor not too far away. I have only forty minutes of battery power left. After that, I will be unable to recharge it. Aaack!

Oh! The power just came on. And I was just about to click Publish, too! Oh, what a coincidence...

My Summer Discovery

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 3:47 PM | Filed under ,

A computer program I came across this summer has completely changed the way I use the Internet. It's Microsoft's Windows Live Mail, and it's currently in the beta phase. Even so, it seems to work remarkably well. Windows Live Mail is an e-mail client, and it's very clean looking; there are no ugly ads or anything. There is one specific feature, however, that has revolutionized how I view content on the Internet: web feed aggregation.

I'm a fan of many websites on the Internet, but it was always tedious to have to click on each of the items in my Links folder to check if the authors of those sites had updated with any new content. Web feeds fix this problem. Basically, they deliver new content to you whenever it's available, as long as you have an aggregator--a program that gathers web feeds together. Windows Live Mail is an aggregator, and a good one at that. Internet Explorer 7 also has a built-in aggregator, but I think it's rather limited.

The thing I like best about Windows Live Mail's is that it has an option to show you only your unread feeds, and it lists them kinda like e-mails. You can open a feed, read it, and then read through the rest of your unread feeds. It's nice to not have to dig through a big mixture of read and unread articles. Another thing I really really like is that you can choose to have Windows Live Mail display the article directly as a webpage (instead of a summary and a link to the article), and it does this right within the program. Right now, it won't display JavaScript or Flash; that's something I hope Microsoft makes available for the release version.

Be sure to check out this blog's feed if you're interested in web feeds.