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Amparo Bertram

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08:12 pm: Anything that CAN go wrong...
My weekend definitely didn't go as planned.

But first, my garden report. I'm really excited about the runner bean trellis in my front yard. The flowers are pretty, they're drawing plenty of bees, and they're producing a lovely crop. The tomatoes in the back yard are nearly as tall as I am, and they're showing a good quantity of young fruit. I have ten different varieties, of all different colors. The most unusual is Indigo Rose, which was bred to turn a dark purple wherever it is touched by sunlight. I was able to harvest my first yellow raspberry and a few ground cherries.

I had intended to spend my weekend working out in the garden. However, Saturday morning started out rather gray and chilly, so I decided to begin by going out shopping instead. I started by visiting a Wolf appliance showroom to get information about their integrated electric steamer. It's expensive ($2300, including tax), but it looks really convenient.

Next I took the bus to the nearest SAS shoe store. My current shoes are nearly four years old, and I use them hard, so it's about time I bought a new pair. I tried out about five different styles and settled on one that's similar to the kind I have now, except specifically made for lots of walking. Unfortunately, that was the one type that they didn't have in my size, so I had to order it. They said it will be ready by next weekend, but I'll be out of town, so I won't be able to pick the shoes up for at least two weeks.

After I got home, I harvested my three surviving summer cabbages. I immediately cooked one of them according to a recipe in one of my library books. (Essentially, one shredded cabbage and one sliced onion simmered in 12T butter for two hours, then seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper.) It tastes quite good, and it practically melts in your mouth, but it's not exactly main dish material. I divided the remainder up into small portions and tossed it in the freezer; I should have enough to serve as the occasional side dish for weeks. Now I have to figure out how to use the other two cabbages.

One of the things I've been struggling with is that I've pretty much reached the memory capacity on my DVR, but I don't want to delete everything. Hoping to save the programs onto my computer, I bought a video capture card. However, when I opened up the case on my computer to install it, I discovered that my graphics card had a huge fan attached to it that blocked the expansion port, so there was no more room. I then went out and bought a cheap external capture device. The limitation is that it only has a certain number of capture settings. It can record a high quality uncompressed file, but a one hour program ends up being absurdly huge (17GB). If I capture a compressed format, the file size is more reasonable (235MB), but the video quality is distressingly pixelated. I downloaded VirtualDub in an attempt to obtain a better balance between file size and quality, but so far the xvid compression only gets the file down to 640MB, which is nearly twice as large as I would like (though certainly an improvement). If anyone is familiar with the program and has a better idea of what settings I should use to reduce the size further, I'd love to hear any advice you might have.

After struggling with that all morning, I decided to get some fresh air and return a bunch of books to the library in the afternoon, since their Sunday hours are 1-5pm. I filled up a totebag and lugged it on foot 35 minutes to the library, looking forward to spending some time browsing for a couple new volumes. Imagine my surprise to be greeted by a sign stating that they were closed for the day due to budget restrictions. Not only that, they closed the book return. So I couldn't check out any new books as I had expected, which was disappointing enough, but I can't really blame them for budget problems. However, I also had to carry all my old books back home again, another 35 minutes on foot. I can't even begin to say how pissed off this made me. Grrrr.

Another thing I worked on today was baking chayote bread to take with me to a potluck in Seattle next weekend. I mixed all the dry and liquid ingredients together and poured it into the loaf pans. It struck me that the volume of the batter seemed less than I remembered, but I dismissed it as my imagination. Besides, my mind was on my video capture problem. I put the pans in the oven and began planning what I should work on in the yard while they baked, when suddenly I noticed that the jar of shredded chayote was still sitting on the counter. Gah! I hurriedly pulled the pans back out of the oven, poured the batter back in the mixing bowl, and stirred in the chayote. Then I quickly washed the loaf pans and re-greased and floured them. I managed to get the batter back into the pans and then the oven, and they appeared to bake normally, so at least I caught it in time.

Still, I think I've had enough unexpected problems for a while.


[User Picture]
Date:July 16th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
They closed the BOOK RETURN? How does that make sense? I know some libraries like to keep the external book return closed while they're open... did someone forget to reopen it?

What video capture device are you using? I used a Pinnacle USB capture device when I was trying to get everything off my DirecTV DVR before switching to Tivo (mine was an older item that is no longer made, but something like this.) It worked well enough, with a few glitches here and there. The video quality looked ok to me and the file size wasn't that huge.

Actually, I could send you my old device if you want, I really have no use for it now.

I don't know how you feel about torrenting in general, but if the shows you have archived on the DVR are current shows that a lot of people watch, you might want to consider torrenting copies instead of going through the whole process of copying stuff off the DVR. You already did your bit for the industry by subscribing to cable and DVR'ing the shows in the first place. In my case, I had to go through the video transfer process because Forensic Files (the only thing I wanted to save) is not popular enough to be floating around for download, and it's not available for purchase (well, a few episodes are, and I bought them, but we're talking a selection of 36 out of 400 that were aired). Let me tell you, that archiving process is not one I want to repeat any time soon. It was SO tedious.

In all this, I'm assuming that your DVR has no way of tranferring files via usb or internet or whatever. I now have the capability with my Tivo (and some added software) to copy files to my computer directly over the wireless network, so saving Forensic Files episodes is a lot easier than it used to be.
[User Picture]
Date:July 16th, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
Your dedication to Forensic Files is awe-inspiring. I occasionally use -- something on my Mac, iTivo, maybe? -- to pull over shows that I want to make mobile on my iPod, but usually I just hang on until I can buy the DVDs. (NOT because I'm being all noble, but because the quality of a DVD rip is just better and transferring files of that size really slows down my home network.)

Or maybe I've just changed my recording habits? Because I have dozens of videotapes from 20 years ago I can't toss because they contain shows or movies that haven't been released to DVD. Someday, I will transfer those to digital. Maybe this coming Christmas.

I do have to be more diligent about clearing stuff off the TiVo, though. 6 random episodes of Game of Thrones I've never watched...why are they still there?
[User Picture]
Date:July 16th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
I know some libraries like to keep the external book return closed while they're open... did someone forget to reopen it?

I doubt they forgot. There was a big sign taped across it that said something to the effect of "Closed due to budget restrictions. If your books are due today, you won't be charged any fines for returning them tomorrow. If you really want to return them today, visit one of our other branches."

What video capture device are you using?

It's something like this, $30 at the local computer store. I suspect you get what you pay for with something like this, but it was the only external capture device they had. It does its job well enough, I just wish it had more output options.

you might want to consider torrenting copies instead of going through the whole process of copying stuff off the DVR.

Actually, the main reason I got the DVR was so that I could stop torrenting. It was getting too frustrating trying to find reliable sites, for one thing.

I'm assuming that your DVR has no way of tranferring files via usb or internet or whatever.

I don't think so...that is, it says in the user manual that you can record the shows onto a DVD with a regular DVD recorder, but no other methods were listed. If it had that kind of capability, I'd expect they'd advertise it.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2012 12:21 am (UTC)
There was a big sign taped across it that said something to the effect of "Closed due to budget restrictions. If your books are due today...

And I guess I was wrong. I would love to know the library's reasoning, but for now: we do not approve.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2012 11:34 am (UTC)

I am, however distressed that NBC moved Grimm to the Monday 10pm slot. There are now FIVE shows in that slot that I want to watch, and my DVR can only record two. (Not to mention that there is now nothing I want to see on Fridays.)
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