19. January 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I called it. On Saturday I enrolled in CrashPlan for the 30-day free trial and so far I’m not that impressed. Their website claims “Free, Easy, Automatic Backup”. So far, no.

Paul kindly offered to sign up also — we can always backup to each others’ machines with the CrashPlan GUI without charge — and we’ve spent the past 48 hours attempting to connect to each others’ computers without success. Too many firewalls, port settings and over-my-head troubleshooting going on here. Paul and I exchanged no less than 30 e-mails last night bouncing different ideas to make this work. Most of the ideas were his…since he’s the one who does IT stuff for a living and understands it more than I do.

I guess using iChat or IM might have been easier to discuss this, but for some reason we didn’t.

Until we get the point-to-point backup working, I have a batch of files uploading to “CrashPlan Central” which is their offsite server system. This is what I’d have to pay a monthly fee for if I choose to go beyond the 30-day trial.

Unfortunately, the backup to “the cloud” has been taking FOREVER. I have a 77 GB package I’m trying to upload (pictures, music, videos) and after 4 1/2 days, 7.9 GB has been uploaded.

Go ahead, do the math. About 10.5% uploaded in 4.5 days = 47.25 days to upload this batch of data. And this is only from the MacBook! This doesn’t include the PC’s data (another 125 GB).

One of the things I did to try to speed things up was direct-connect the Mac to the DSL modem, taking the computer off the WiFi altogether. I also closed everything this Mac was using that involved the Internet. Things like the webcam, weather station and my iPhone on the Wireless were still taking down the bandwidth periodically.

CrashPlan offers to send you an external hard drive to directly upload to, which caught my attention at first, but for $125 for that service, I figured the time would be cheaper.

I understand that once this initial upload completes, the worst of it will be over and we’ll have our data in place. I’ll see how this does through the weekend. If I see better progress, this might be worth keeping…but so far, I’m not quite impressed.

15. January 2011 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

As promised, Part II of my devious plan to conquer the world. I mean, my paperwork! I need to look into storage options for my photos, videos and these soon-to-be-scanned-in papers.

If you thought my paperwork filing plan was sloppy, our computer’s file plan is an incredible mess. I try to keep up with it, putting everything in it’s appropriate folder on our shared hard drive, but sometimes I get sloppy and will go weeks at a time just dumping EVERYTHING into my MacBook’s “Documents” folder.

I try really hard to file the pictures into folders that have both the date and a brief description of the event. My more loyal followers see me doing this all the time when I point you to pictures on this blog. Each album is just my uploading the contents of the photo folder, which is named such that I can go to the My Pictures folder, alphabetize the folder list of photos, and they’re in date order automatically.  I like it that way, I know not everyone does things the same way…

Anyway…let’s assume I’m organized in that department. Which I’m not.  And that I’ve scanned in all the paperwork I needed.  Which I haven’t.

My next challenge is storage of all of this digital personal paperwork. And photos (I have nearly 20,000). And videos. And maybe even some of the kids’ schoolwork?

Starting two PCs ago, I’ve avoided putting our personal files on our internal hard drives. I have an external hard drive USB-attached to our PC and I ensure all of our PCs and Macs can connect to it to read/write our personal files. The external hard drive is starting to fill out (it’s “only” 200 GB) and it’s time to look into something new…and bigger.

Many of you have weighed in with me on “off site” storage options, and I’ve also have discussions about “on site” server and wireless external hard drive options. All of this will cost us money, and LOTS of time ensuring the files are transferred properly. And the I want to have a periodic backup plan.

Okay, I know I’m starting to sound like Veruca Salt here. I want this, and I want that…

In a perfect, limitless bank account world, I would love one of these Apple Time Capsule external hard drives!

The 2 TB version, please. But I think in reality, I need to (a) consider a 1 TB instead, since we don’t NEED a 2 TB drive and (b) do a little more research. There are lots of allegations of an 18 month shelf life on these things and I would like to see how well the newer ones are doing.

I’m not looking forward to how much money this is going to cost, either. But the computers we have aren’t getting any younger, and the external hard drive everything is on right now is nearing 3 years of age…I’m nervous it’s going to croak really really soon. I’m copying my entire 2010 photo gallery from my Mac to it right now, in fact. But the copying isn’t doing so well — 16 GB of files via WiFi? I used to have a nifty auto-backup feature on our old PC, perhaps I should bring it back on the new one?

Back to the office…

14. January 2011 · Comments Off on Going Paperless! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

…at least that’s the plan here….

Now that I have a handsome new office, I was hoping to work on bettering the family’s reliance on stacks of paperwork everywhere.  I want to scan in our old bills, bank statements, and receipts, and clear our office of some of the stacks of papers everywhere.  I’m even debating going digital on some of our medical paperwork, such as our Tricare payout (or lack thereof) statements.

This was taken right after I’d put the books in the bookcase in early December.  After 6 weeks, it doesn’t look this nice now.

I’ve been weighing in with my friend Paul about this issue.  He’s probably the only person with whom I could have a conversation about filing paperwork who wouldn’t run screaming in the other direction.  He’s also considering converting his existing files to digital, and then make a habit of scanning in bills every month.

He and I have exchanged some ideas about “smart scanning”, which is easier than ever these days.  You can now scan directly into PDFs that allow you to search for keywords.  For example, if you scanned in some medical paperwork related to having a baby, you could do a Microsoft or Mac search on “maternity” and if the word “maternity” is in the PDF, it’s possible to find that document.

It also came up in our conversations how much better scanners are than 10 years ago.  Now you can get multiple-sheet-feeder scanners, double sided scanners, and inexpensive all-in-one systems, which include printing and copying.

My current file plan isn’t very graceful.  I have two plastic tubs that hold hanging file folders (metal filing cabinets never move well).  I have a pretty basket in the office where I dump all bills, statements and receipts.  Every 2, 4, 25 weeks (depending on how busy I am), I’ll sit down with the pretty basket and file the paperwork into the two plastic tubs.  Every New Year’s Day (give or take a week), I shred the oldest paperwork using Consumer Reports’ guidance on how long to keep records.  Shredded paper goes into the worm bin (which I still have, by the way).

I guess I can argue that at least I HAVE a plan, right?  But to go paperless would be AWESOME!  Especially for the major purchase receipts that I’ve been carrying around for years and years and years.  Just in case we need it.  I’ve had my Kirby vacuum cleaner for 11 years and it’d be nice to not have to worry about that little slip of paper getting lost.

This will be a lifestyle change for me, but I think I can do it.  When it’s PCS (i.e. military move) time in a couple years, just having an external hard drive to protect instead of 2 tubs and 4 banker’s boxes full of paperwork would allow more room in the car for the boys to stretch their legs too.

Which leads me to my next challenge, keeping up with data backups.  That’s for another post…

18. August 2010 · Comments Off on Now is Time We Talk About Our Feelings…. · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Before I get going with my Colorado blog posts, I’m going to take a moment to discuss my feelings.

“Really? You RARELY talk about your feelings….you fill this blog with things you’ve seen, things you’ve done, things you would like to do….”

Yeah, I guess you’re right, my dear imaginary blogosphere friend. I think the only emotions you ever see out of me are:

“I’m so excited we got to do ^insert activity here^!!!!!!”


“Would you believe folks eat ^insert high fructose corn syrup, trans fat-laden food here^?”

So now I’d like to discuss the Inner Mom Peace emotions I’m feeling.

“Aww….how sweet! Whatever do you mean?”

I mean this:

Feeling the peace….

I don’t think I realized it until yesterday, the first day of school for my boys.

Yes. Boys — in the plural! My little Timmy started Kindergarten yesterday!!! Jacob’s old hat at this now, and he had no problem making his way to school almost on his own.

From 2010 08 16 First Day of School & Timmy’s 1st Day of Kindergarten

From 2010 08 16 First Day of School & Timmy’s 1st Day of Kindergarten

Yes, it was emotional for me as Mrs. Brockhaus read the Kindergarteners “The Kissing Hand“.

So…after the 30 minute parents’ time in Timmy’s class, Dave went on to work and I was left with a house to myself.



Okay, so it wasn’t really all day — but it was 6 1/2 hours! And today, it was 7 hours!

And for the first time in a long time, I was finishing things around the house without one of the kids interrupting me in some way. Whether it’s the two of them arguing, one of them asking me a question, or my having to stop everything because it’s mealtime or snacktime. Part of being a Mom, I know.

All of our traveling contributed to the disorder in my mental being, I’m sure. It was a fun-filled, action-packed summer, but the return to routine is very welcome!

It isn’t really the physical tasks of doing things around the house that’s bringing me the peace, it’s the mental part of it — that my brain isn’t getting flooding with other things. I’m not thinking “Oh my gosh! I have to get this done NOW!”. I know that these things will get done eventually while the kids are at school.

Yesterday I caught up on yard work, laundry and cleaning floors. Today I caught up on filing paperwork — I had a stack of bill statements, medical insurance statements, military paperwork, even stuff from taxes last winter…a single stack that was growing and growing since New Year’s!!! I used to file this stuff MONTHLY! I also put the boys’ completed schoolwork in a pile in our office area…I later decide what stuff to keep, what stuff NOT to keep (remember, we’re a military family, we can’t keep everything!).

This feels great! And it couldn’t come at a better time as I have to start preparing for our move this fall. We’re planning a yard sale for much of our unneeded stuff, but I’ve also discovered that some of our items will sell well on Craigslist or eBay. I feel like I have time to do all this now.

It’s a nice feeling.

01. September 2009 · Comments Off on Being Sick Sucks… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I’m just wrapping up a pretty nasty cold, upper respiratory infection, whatever you call it.

Whatever it’s called, it sucks.

I don’t get sick often. I last got quite sick the last week of February 2008. Yes, you read right: 2008. It was a horrible case of the flu, actually. Once I came home from the desert I felt like a time bomb, I figured if you go too long without getting sick, it’s bound to happen at any time.

And for me it was two Saturdays ago, the family had eaten dinner at Upstream Brewery and then took the kids to the Heartland of America Park in downtown Omaha to run around. My throat was getting that telltale soreness that heralds a cold.

Oh crap.

I was right — Dave let me sleep till 9am on Sunday and I didn’t want to move when it was time to get up for church. In fact, I ended up not going at all…

On Sunday and Monday I was in pretty bad shape. Dave took most of Monday off so he could help with Timmy, and he took me to the urgent care clinic so we could rule out strep or H1N1 (a.k.a. swine) flu. It was none of that.

Tuesday was the beginning of improvement, but as is typical with my kinds of colds, I end up with a lingering post-nasal drip that results in a lot of coughing at night. Since I turned 30, I’ve had a hard time shaking such a cough without a follow up trip to the doctor for some sort of antibiotic.

This one seems better — instead of the lingering cough, I have this river of snot — I think I’ve plowed through 3 boxes of tissues over the past 10 days. My nose is a nightmare…

I need to get better about the blog posts, folks — really. I used to be so on top of things, until Facebook and that friggin’ Bejeweled Blitz that sucks up so much of my time…

I’m getting busier, though — I’m now involved in my local AMS chapter, PTA and Dave’s unit’s spouse’s group. Jacob’s signed up for Cub Scouts and starts piano lessons this week. Timmy and Jacob both start soccer in a couple weeks, too. It’s going to be nuts!

27. August 2009 · Comments Off on My Worms Are Trying to Escape! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I didn’t get any pictures because I had to work quickly. This morning I lifted the lid to the worm bin and dozens of the worms had dripped off the underside of the lid all over the floor!

Not all of them, but plenty. Timmy got a kick out this!

Anyway, I figured I’d try to improve their habitat a little and added some sweets to the top of the bin. Just a little bit: a couple banana peels and a couple slices of tomato that weren’t used for burgers a couple nights ago.

I put back the strays, added the sweets, and replaced the lid. I’ll check again later this afternoon and see if they’re happier.

According to this website, some escape shenanigans are normal and should subside in a week or so unless there’s a bigger problem that I’ll need to further investigate.

26. August 2009 · 10 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

First, thanks for answering the poll — I guess changing/washing linens once-per-week is the standard and I need to be better at it 🙂

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

I’m at it again.

Now that the school year and academic year is in full swing, it’s time to get involved in stuff again.

“What stuff? What else could you possibly pile on?”

Lots. Jacob’s on his way to being the Spawn of the Overachiever with soccer, piano lessons and Cub Scouts all starting up in September. Thankfully soccer is only 8 weeks. I know how much Jacob loves it…he’d give up everything else to fit in those 8 weeks of soccer!

The piano lessons and Cub Scouts will be new for Jacob and I wonder how he’ll do with each of them. I’m certain the scouts will be fun, he loves camping and learning about nature. The piano lessons? Well…as much as Jacob loves music, I predict a struggle when I ask him to practice for 15-20 minutes every day. He’s already gotten a head start on his books (Faber and Faber “Piano Adventures”) but it’s on his own and I think once a schedule is attached to it we’ll see resistance.

Then again, I could be wrong about all this and he’ll embrace it like a champ!

Timmy’s going to be involved in soccer after Labor Day weekend, and I’m debating piano lessons for him, too. He might be on the young side in some respects, but he really enjoys playing with our piano (we have a digital piano) and his teacher still has a couple spaces available.

As for me, I start my new AF Reserves job next month, plus I’ve taken on secretary duties for our local AMS Chapter. Last week I also offered to become webmaster for the Spouse’s Group where Dave works. I’m looking forward to serving all of these functions as well as I can.

Right now I have an evil cold. Nothing super-debilitating, but enough that I can’t fill my days with activity the way I usually want to. This week I wanted to get some items repaired (our cuckoo clock, a necklace), plus sharpen our knives, plus clean out our basement storage. None of that is getting done this week, I’m afraid.

I can keep up with the bare minimum this week (laundry, cooking, keeping the house straight), hopefully next week will be better. Planning for Jacob’s birthday party is forthcoming, along with Timmy’s back-to-preschool activities just before Labor Day.

14. August 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

After almost a year of having all my questions in life answered, I’ve a new one.

This one is coming up because I’m getting really sick of maneuvering all over Jacob’s top bunk changing sheets…unfortunately, Jacob sweats so much in his sleep, that’s what drives our changing his sheets more than anything. Nonetheless, it got me wondering, is there a standard for changing sheets that’s regarded as “normal”?


01. July 2009 · Comments Off on Howie Likes the Clean Carpets · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Had to shampoo carpets today. They were quite gross.

28. April 2009 · Comments Off on What Have I Been Up To? · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Good question.

Right now, I’m enjoying Dancing With the Stars, although my enthusiasm is somewhat limited because I was away for the first 3-4 weeks. I couldn’t believe that Steve-O wasn’t eliminated the first week…I guess he was a better dancer than I gave him credit for…

I’m also back to a CD-burning spree. Not making new CDs, but rather going through my old college-era CDs and burning them to iTunes. With a few exceptions, the quality is doing well enough. This was something I started back in North Carolina about a year ago, but then got distracted for obvious reasons. I’m finally back and it’s like lightning on my new computer! I also managed to get my backup hard drive that’s still connected to my PC to backup the music 2x weekly.

Anyhow, I’m still getting the hang of things around here, starting with keeping up with all the activities the kids have: soccer, school field trips, dentist/doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, etc. Dave had a train show last week that I assisted with, and this coming weekend Dave is headed to Pennsylvania to enjoy a weekend of railfanning with some friends.

From 2009 04 20 JacobTimmySoccerUniforms

Here are the boys hamming it up in their soccer uniforms last week.

From 2009 04 23 Timmy_ChildCare_GiffordFarm

Timmy’s child care class went to a petting zoo and Timmy had a wonderful time!  I tagged along as a chaperone.

From 2009 04 25 DaveLayout_BurkeHS_TrainShow

Dave is on the far right in the maroon t-shirt. The “crowd” you see around his layout was typical during most of the show…he had at least 1 party there observing. Dave allowed some children to operate if it wasn’t too crowded (and if the child was well-behaved). Timmy spent quite a while operating on Saturday morning while I went with Jacob to the Apple Store up the street for a Mac User’s workshop.

I’m now being beckoned to help wash dishes, so I’ll close here. I wish I had a little more to talk about, maybe I’ll speak more about the spring cleaning I’m enduring right now, we’ll see.  I had these artificial nails put on last weekend for an Air Force formal event — I wore a DRESS! for the first time in 15 years…no formal AF uniform!  (Pictures are forthcoming).  Anyway, the nails made it pretty difficult to type.

*Update: I just trimmed down those artificial nails.  They’re acrylics, so I was nervous about taking nail clippers to them, for fear their might simply shatter, but it did well enough and now my nice nails are at a reasonable length.