Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's Christmas time in the city...

Photo of my home with all of the outside lights illuminated. I took advantage of the Wal-Mart "Black Friday" frenzy and bought myself a new digital camera -- a Kodak Easy Share Z760. It has a night setting so the temperature was still warm enough to take it outside with my tripod. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2005

Pulled the plug

As mentioned in Wednesday's post, I pulled the plug and purchased a new digital camera at Wal-Mart today. Even if it doesn't turn out to be a great camera, I still can't beat the price.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

To bite (or not to bite)

We were watching Lost this evening and saw a Wal-Mart TV ad about their after-Thanksgiving sale. What caught my eye was a Kodak 6 megapixel digital camera that will be on sale for $199. A little online research found out that the camera is a Kodak Easyshare Z760.


Thanksgiving snow?

Eerily similar to last year, overnight the Chicago area received its first measurable snowfall of the season. This photo of my backyard was taken Wednesday morning around 8:00 AM. I don't know if the snow will still be on the ground Thanksgiving morning.

Last year we had a White Thanksgiving. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005

Turning 80!

November 20 was my mother's 80th birthday. We had a party for her at a local restaurant and a total of 48 friends and family attended. I checked Wikipedia to see how November 20 fared in world history. Besides the usual group of celebrities who were born or who died on November 20, it turns out that Sen. Robert Kennedy and Mom were born on the same exact day!

I can't imagine turning 80 years old!

Friday, November 18, 2005

ING Direct now pays 3.5% APY

To update this posting from September, ING Direct has increased the interest rate on their Orange Savings Account to 3.50% APY. If you are interested in receiving a $25 credit just for opening your account, just e-mail me. I'll send you an e-mail containing a special link. If you use the link to set up and fund your account (minimum $250 initial deposit required), I get $10 for the referral. You get $25; I get $10...not a bad deal for either of us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

First snow

The Chicago area had its first snow of the season today (Wednesday). It was cold and windy with drizzle part of the day. The drizzle finally turned into light flakes mid-afternoon that provided an ever-so-light dusting of snow.

I heard yesterday that the average first day of visible snow in the Chicago area is October 30th. Seems like the first snow comes too early, but it was really about three weeks later than average.

New book!

Several months ago my mother was contacted by an author who was writing a book about the servicemen from the Ravenna, Nebraska area who served in the nation's wars. The author, Valerie Vierk, knew of my grandfather, Edward Kostal, who was wounded in France in World War I and my uncle, James Kostal, a pilot who was lost in a non-combat training accident off the Sea of Japan in 1953.

My mother spoke to Valerie and offered her memories of both her father and brother. I have also been in contact with Valerie to supply family photographs, including some from this humble family weblog. She has also been kind enough to provide me with some photos and newspaper clippings that she has accumulated.

I just received word that Valerie's book, Gold Stars and Purple Hearts: The War Dead of the Ravenna, Nebraska Area, is now available for order online. Here is the link in case someone from the Ravenna area would like to order a copy. When you get to the site, click on "Book Store," then the down arrow to see "ISBN" and then enter the ISBN number which is 1420876074.

We've already ordered our copy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

King Kong theatrical trailer

I'm looking forward to seeing this one in the theaters!

King Kong - Theatrical Trailer
King Kong for the new millenium, a group of explorers and documentary filmmakers travel to the mysterious Skull Island to investigate legends of a giant gorilla named Kong.

Courtesy of IFILM

Monday, November 14, 2005

Netflix Local Favorites

In an earlier post, I offered some tips to maximize the value of your Netflix subscription. Since then, I learned of a neat little feature called "Local Favorites." By clicking on this link, you can see the 25 most popular Netflix rentals in your area. I lived in Hoffman Estates, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) and the most popular DVD rental is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

By clicking this link, you can also see all of the DVDs you have rented and returned.

E-mail subscriptions

I have several friends, colleagues and family members who read my humble blog. I either tell them about blog additions or they subscribe to the blog feed through Bloglines, My Yahoo! or some other RSS-enabled newsreader. (There are buttons on the right sidebar that let you easily subscribe to this blog.)

I have now added the ability to subscribe to this blog via e-mail. Look again on the right sidebar. Just enter your e-mail address and, once you confirm the subscription, you will receive blog updates by e-mail.

New blog publishing site

I'm testing a new blog publishing site to compose this blog entry. The site is called Writely and if you are reading this, then the post worked.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Time overtaking World War I vets

Hard to believe there are some World War I vets still with us. My grandfather, who fought and was wounded in France just weeks before the Armistice, would be 112! God bless them! - Time overtaking World War I vets

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Veterans Day 2005

It's hard to believe a year has gone by! It seems like I just posted this Veterans Day message the other day.

Owens's clash with the Eagles grips U.S.

Why? We have war in Iraq, tension elsewhere in the Middle East, energy prices at an all-time high and a possible bird flu pandemic. Why does anyone, besides ESPN, really care about Terrell Owens?

Owens's clash with the Eagles grips US - Yahoo! News

Always a Husker

Interesting comments from former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost. He was quarterback on the most recent national championship team in 1997.

Sometimes I think that I care too much. I was in Lawrence on Saturday and I saw our guys go down in defeat at the hands of a team that we had beaten every year for almost four decades. I can’t tell you how hard it was to watch. Seeing Jayhawk fans yelling and jeering and storming the field made my stomach turn.

Always A Husker


Several months ago I signed up for Netflix. I was tired of buying DVDs of movies I had little interest in owning and was also tired of going to the local Blockbuster to rent a movie. There were a lot of movies I wanted to see and thought that Netflix provided the solution. They had a special introduction offer and I decided to go for it.

I've been happy with my decision. I've seen many movies and TV shows that I had not seen before or would not have otherwise rented. Netflix offers a number of pricing plans and I chose the plan that allows me to rent two DVDs at a time for $17.99 a month.

As a customer of several months, I've discovered a couple of ways to speed up the return and delivery of DVDs. I was returning my movies using work mail and was experiencing odd delays in having Netflix receive the movies and then sending me new ones. I suspected that Netflix was "throttling" or otherwise delaying my send/receive cycle. I was not sure if the delay was with the mailroom at work or at Netflix. I experimented by sending the DVD back from home rather than from work. I did notice that Netflix was receiving the DVD sooner than before. I also discovered another trick. The Netflix return envelope contains a small slit in the back. When you place your DVD sleeve into the envelope, position the sleeve so the bar codes show through the slit. This makes the return process even faster as the bar codes are scanned at the Netflix distribution center and you get credit for returning your movie right away. Otherwise, the envelope has to be manually opened, the DVD removed and then scanned for you to get credit. The manual process adds time to the cycle.

I also found out that you can add movies currently in theaters to your Netflix queue. For example, today I added Derailed and Pride and Prejudice to my queue even though they are several months away from being available on DVD. Whenever they do become available on DVD, my queue will show the release date and I can move them to the top of my queue to receive them. As I see movie previews that seem interesting, I can add the movie to my queue. A number of times I'll see a preview...and then forget the name of the movie when it does come out on DVD.

Hacking Netflix and Netflix Fan are also great resources for Netflix users.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

It's official!

Hell has, indeed, frozen over. My beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers lost a football game to the Kansas Jayhawks for the first time in 36 years (1968). Posted by Picasa

Blogging void

I've found myself in a blogging void recently. With the exception of the local excitement over the World Series, there hasn't really been anything I've felt compelled to write about.

I also find myself in that hollowness between seasons. The calendar says it's fall, but the high in Chicago will be near 70 today! Halloween has just ended and Thanksgiving is fast approaching meaning Christmas and New Year's Day will soon be here. I love this holiday season, but it seems to come (and go) so quickly. As a child I remember how slow it all seemed.

There have been several movie releases on DVD that we will be watching over the next night or two. Star Wars III was released on Tuesday. I never did see it in the theater, so I'm looking forward to watching it tonight. We also bought the "collector's edition" of The Wizard of Oz. It's a great movie, but, as a child, the flying monkeys always scared me. Lisa bought the new release of Titanic which contains an alternate ending. I'll probably pass on that one.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The final word

Lest people think this is a sports blog, this is the final post regarding the White Sox until spring training begins. This photo of the Wrigley Field marquee was sent to me at work by a Cubs fan. They've got to hate that! Posted by Picasa