Archive for June, 2009

Surprise Savings

Monday, June 29th, 2009


I was at the Southern California Edison website working on electricity usage in our house. There was a surprise. Our average bill suddenly decreased by $40 per month sometime after Jan 13 this year. It was odd to see. Normally, there is a spike around Christmas, but after January 13, we start seeing bills lower than at any time since September. Why?

I rack my brain trying to figure it out. What are we doing differently? Then it hits me – that was when I dumped my last, old CRT monitor. The only tube-based screen in the house left now is a rarely used TV set in our bedroom. Computers are all laptops and my office computer now has the HP flat screen monitor hooked to it that you see above. Wow. That made a big difference.

If you were considering swapping your CRT for a flat screen LCD, I strongly suggest it. It made for a big savings on electricity.

ADDENDUM: I looked up usage statistics, and for ‘modern’ CRT’s, the electric usage is just slightly more than LCD’s. Either my old one sucked energy for being a dinosaur (10 years old) or it had a short in it. It certainly might have had a short – it acted mighty funny for several months before I replaced it. Or this is another explanation entirely. $40 a month is like plugging in a refrigerator, so this is not a small amount.

FURTHER UPDATE: I think I know the reason. I was playing Fallout 3 on the Xbox 360 until mid-January, and Grand Theft Auto before that. I think the $40 might be partially the monitor, but mostly the cost of running the Xbox, which is a known power hog.

500 Days of Summer

Friday, June 26th, 2009

It’s the last day of school today. The kids are facing 500 days of summer (not really, but they feel that way). This is the title of a movie not yet released, but the core concept is cool. Summer stretches out as far as they can see. It seems endless.

Freitag Reunion 1969

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


Below the fold are camera scans of the 1969 Freitag Family Reunion scrapbook, which I took in August 2008 when I was at the farm for the Steussy family reunion that year. All 97 pages are there. Click on a page to pull up the full image – you can zoom in and read virtually all of the text.


Freitag Family Reunion

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

DSC03491Next week, Dan-dan, Camilla and I will all be off to Wisconsin for the Freitag Family Reunion! We’re really looking forward to it. The three of us will be at the Chalet Laundhaus in New Glarus.

We’re only there for a short time this year. Gabi is fully eight months pregnant and looking after Aaron at home. We arrive in New Glarus approximately 8pm Thursday, July 2. We will be leaving before dawn on Sunday.

But that’s still lot’s of time to talk, meet, share conversation, coffees, beers and kids. It will be fun!

Rusz Viola

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009


Rusz Viola was born Monday 3AM – she is Gabi’s brother’s daughter in Budapest. In the photo above is 5 year old Andrea. They also have a boy, Vazul, who is one and a half. 3kg and doing fine.


Playboy is Bankrupt, Part 2

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

playboy_july_august_2009I posted awhile ago that I thought Playboy was going bankrupt due to late deliveries. This month, we have even more evidence of impending collapse. The July issue has become the July/August double issue (i.e., the August issue has been canceled). See my earlier note here.

Another Reason to Hate DirecTV

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

directv_r15Last night, Gabi and I decided to watch a movie. We’ve given up entirely on Blockbuster and Hollywood video. These days, we order a movie through NetFlix, watch over NetFlix’s live feed on the Xbox 360 or order through DirecTV. DirecTV is trying to make sure that it’s customers can watch movies in the highest quality, so they’ve been offering 25 to 30 movies in BluRay definition (1080p). I always choose these, even though I don’t notice any difference between HD (1080i) and BluRay.

Last night I go through the process to order and watch our movie (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons”). Imagine my surprise to find that once we order it, it’s instantly in our DVR. Huh?! This very, very large movie is sitting in my DVR, taking up valuable space which could belong to football games, Lost episodes or Barney the Purple Dinosaur on the off-chance we might decide to spend $6 watching it sometime in the future. And it’s there with a lot of other movies that I definitely don’t want to see.

DirecTV has a technical problem. They don’t have as much bandwidth as the cable companies, so they need to use what they have to provide similar services. BluRay movies are too big for you to watch in realtime as they come from the satellite. There are two options – pre-loading the movie to everyone’s DVR or feeding them through high speed internet connections. Apparently, DirecTV is doing both.

I’d like the option to decline pre-loaded movies. I have better use for that space than someone wanting to potentially charge me at some future time. Besides, I spend a fortune on a particulary high-speed broadband connection here. Let me use that if I want one of your movies.

Full Hard Disk

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I went to bed last night with my laptop left running (as is normal). It had 13GB of free space on the hard drive. I wake up, and it has 1.5GB of free space on the hard drive and both the running virtual machine (WinXP) and the MacOS are complaining about a lack of space. Hmmm. Wonder what happened.

ADDENDUM: So, I work for most of the day reprovisioning my Windows XP Virtual Machine. I always keep one on my laptop so I can use MS Office and my accounting software in their native forms. When freshly installed, the package is about 8GB. After a few months to a year of operation, they grow (for no discernible reason). My year-old WinXP virtual machine is now 29GB. By making a new one, I free up 21GB on my laptop. No, there are no viruses or vombies hiding in the package (according to McAfee) – and this always, always happens.

Lo and behold, when I finish, the missing hard disk space suddenly appears again. Still a mystery.

Andrew and Anikó’s Wedding

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Andrew and Anikó were married yesterday at a civil ceremony at their house in Long Beach. There were 12 guests, a Justice of the Peace (with assistant) and the bride and groom.

Photos are below the fold.


Andrew and Anikó's Wedding

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Andrew and Anikó were married yesterday at a civil ceremony at their house in Long Beach. There were 12 guests, a Justice of the Peace (with assistant) and the bride and groom.

Photos are below the fold.