Friday, June 24, 2011

67. Get rid of Cable TV

I just got back from the Comcast service store and have officially gotten rid of our cable boxes and cable service!

As I wrote a little while back, I tried to make an antenna.  It failed.  I am sure that there are many reasons for the failure but I had hope just based on the comments that were given after the video.

One thing that we did in preparation for not having cable was to record as many kids shows as we could on our Tivo.  We filled it up with Mickey Mouse Club, Imagination Movers, Word World and other shows that they love to watch before bedtime.  Hopefully we will find some other shows on regular TV or through another online service.

I decided to try to get the amplified antenna again and to put it up in the attic to see how reception would be.  Guess what, success!  We get about 40 channels through the antenna to both televisions. Most of them are useless (foreign language/shopping), but it is still fun to say we get that many channels for free. I have one antenna in the attic with a splitter attached to it.  From there I ran a cable to the television in the basement and to the television in the living room.  We get CBS, FOX, NBC, ABC, WGN, PBS and a bunch of other channels, all in HD.

The next thing we did is we ordered a Roku XD. It finally came in the mail today. The Roku is sort of like having another computer.  It connects Hulu, Netflix and Pandora to our TV.  There are a bunch of other "channels" in Roku, but that is as far as I have explored so far.  Through those services we get access to tons of movies and tv shows.  We have a free month subscription to both (after it is about $8 a month) so we intend to see what features we like in both services then we will probably see if we want to keep both or just go down to done of them.

I will post again my progress in a month to share how things are going.

6 goals down!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

50. Read a book about another culture

I just finished reading the book CultureShock! India.

I chose to read about this culture because over the past few years the Indian population in my school has grown so much.  I think in each of the last 3 or 4 years I have had nearly 10 students of Middle East or Indian decent.  Because of the growth we have had I figured I should learn more about their culture.  This book is designed more for the tourist traveling to India, but I was able to learn quite a few things that helped to explain some of the manerisms and ways that the people of the Indian culture carry themselves.  I am happy  I read this one, but I think I am done reading "tourist" books for awhile.  I think that they are only fun to read if you plan on going to that place.

Goal #5 done!

Monday, June 20, 2011

31. Kick a 25 yard field goal

Tonight I took the kids out on a bike ride over to West Aurora's practice field to try to kick a 25 yard field goal.  It was not too pretty.  I played soccer back when I was 8.  I am not much of a kicker.

Maddie got a pretty good action shot

I probably kicked about 30 times and made 4.  I made field goals from 18, 21, 25 and 30 yards.  The thing I didn't think about was that every time I missed I would have to run 25+ yards to go get it.  Hannah and Maddie were helpful at the end, but they would only go get it if I raced them to get it.

I am really happy I put this on the list.  As I said, I am not much of a kicker.  I still am not.  Now I have more of an understanding and feel of what it is like to kick a field goal. Hopefully I will be able to watch some NFL games this fall to appreciate it more.  I even have an appreciation of people running at me to block it as I was trying to kick quickly before the kids got in the way.

Goal #4 Down!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

41. Play Tennis

Tennis is not my favorite sport.  It isn't second, third or fourth favorite.  I like to play tennis because it gives me a chance to spend time with friends and have a good time while getting some exercise in.  I am not very good.  We play just good enough to not look silly to people walking by the courts.

Tonight we had a chance for a few of us to get out to play.  The weather didn't look like it would cooperate, but we were lucky enough to sneak in some time between the rainy time.

Hopefully we can get a few more nights in like tonight. Hopefully we can get together consistently throughout the summer. I look forward to progressing toward finishing this goal.

Monday, June 13, 2011

102. Give Sammy a Haircut

This is not a goal that I had written down, but it was definitely goal worthy!  It was a challenge, it was positive, and it was an experience.

Sammy is our 6 going on 7 year old pup.  She was our first child and we love her dearly!  She was sick last month to the point of thinking we might lose her.  She has gotten sick three separate times with the same illness and we are lucky that we have found a blend of medications that have healed her each time. I thought about putting this on the list originally, but at the time of completion I still didn't know how healthy she is.  I am happy to say that it does look as though she is in the clear.

I have tried a couple of times to cut Sammy's hair but have been unsuccessful each time.  The first time I just went at it with scissors which was a complete failure.  I cut her a couple of times and nothing was even.  My mom used to cut our dog Friskie's hair with scissors, but it didn't work for me at all.  The second time I tried was with the clippers I use for my hair.  It didn't work at all because her hair is far too thick to cut with regular clippers.

For years I have thought about cutting her hair in order to save some money, but I had never had the courage to go any farther.  I decided to take the step to order dog grooming clippers to have a go at cutting her hair.  When I had searched before I had seen that good clippers could go up to the hundreds of dollars. I wasn't up for quite that level of commitment.  I did a number of google searches and found a few that were just over a hundred dollars.  I was close to buying one pair but the cost still seemed a bit steep for what I was willing to spend.  Finally I stumbled on a post about this pair.  I went over to Amazon and found the comments/reviews to be overwhelmingly positive. Out of 66 reviews only one person gave it 1 out of 5 stars.  On the opposite side, 61 of them were either 4 or 5 stars. Because of that response and the fact that they were the cheapest ones I had seen I figured this was the set I was going to try.

I got them in the mail yesterday but didn't cut her hair until today. It came with a training video that I watched with the girls when they got up from their naps.  They were interested for the first 8 minutes but after that the were ready for me to put something more interesting on.  I learned quite a bit. The clippers are cordless which is a feature I didn't know I would appreciate so much until grooming.  It is difficult enough getting around legs and in all the different areas without adding a cord in for extra difficulty.

Now for the haircut.  I have never quite realized how much hair Sammy has on her when she needs a haircut.  I know it is long and that she has a thick coat, but holy cow! Sadly I didn't have the foresight to have taken a before picture to show what this looked like when it was on her.  She was definitely in need of a cut.

Her face an paws still need some attention, but at the point she is at now, I am comfortable.  She was tired of me cutting her hair and had had enough.  I was proud that she made it as far as she did.

If I am being honest, I know that this is no professional grooming job, but it is much better than spending the usual amount that we do every 2 or 3 months.  Now I can cut it any time Sammy needs it.  This is going to be so great for summers!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

43. Hang out with friends from college

Scott and I have been friends for a long long time.  We went to school together from first grade all the way through being roommates for four years in college.  Needless to say, he's a good friend.
He and his wife Sarah came over last night.  It is always fun when they come over because it is obvious that they care about our kids and think that they are the funniest people on earth.  The interactions between them are quite funny.
I hope I just blew out the some candles.  I am with the cake and Scott is on the far right.
Scott is so happy to graduate!
 I'm sure we will get together plenty of more times before the 1001 days is over.


Me (top left) Scott (fourth row down far right)

Two more Judson friends to hang out with.

Friday, June 10, 2011

71. Put lighting up in the garage

This goal wasn't particularly difficult.  It just required some time and creativity.  Also, I had to spend about $4 for a few parts that I didn't already have just sitting around.  I had the lights (I removed them from a room that we took out in the basement). I also had the switch, plug and wires to do the job.  All I needed was two electrical boxes and a few connectors to fasten the wires to the boxes.  That was it.

This task is one that should have happened a long time ago.  That is why I added it to my list of goals.  If it wasn't on the list it still wouldn't be done. We do not have electricity wired to the garage.  Instead we have a heavy duty extension cord running to the garage to supply all of the electricity.  I would like to have it hard wired, but time, money and a convenient way to do it are all not on our side.  So we just have the extension cord right now.  At least we aren't set up like this guy!

Worst Automatic Garage Door Opener Installation Ever - Watch more Funny Videos

I thought about this video during most major decisions that I made during this project.  I don't want to be that guy!

Just being in there during the day with the light on makes a huge difference.  This will make working on projects out there be so much better.  I can work out there deep into the night with no need to worry about having a head lamp on or to figure out where to place the one spotlight that I have.

Goal #3 Done!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

61. Harry Potter!

Two years ago I read the first of the Harry Potter books.  During this past school year I decided that I wanted to read the rest of the series.  4,107 pages later, I can tell you that I have finished the whole series.  I completed the last book in April.

I am now doing a Harry Potter movie marathon.  Just in the past week I have watched the first 4 that I got from the library.  The next three are also there, and I will have the pleasure of watching the last one on the big screen. I have just over a month to get through the next three movies before heading to the theater.  That sounds easy, but I start up classes on Monday morning and I am pretty sure my "free" time will be going to reading and writing rather than sitting watching the battle of Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  I'm sure I will find the time though. It sounds like a perfect procrastination tool.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

67. I made a TV antenna

I planned on working on the deck outside Charlie's room today, but the rain from last night, the threat of rain today, and nap schedules made it not as possible.  Instead, I spent time going between the attic and the basement running wires through the house in order to try my antenna out up in the basement.  Guess what...We got 30 channels!  That's way better than the 1 we got from the other antenna and the 0 we got from having the antenna I made in the living room.  After Charlie gets up I might try messing with it a little more to see of the angle can be adjusted and if it can get any better.  It is still a little grainy which makes watching not as fluid.  After that is fixed, bye, bye cable bill!  At least for awhile. 

Today I started to make my attempt for getting rid of cable.  Anyone who has knowledge of our house knows that we have a 25-30 ft. television antenna outside of our house. It is old, but it has the same basic setup as the roof antennas sold today. Sadly, when I hooked the TV up to it we only got 6 channels.  ABC was the only one of those six that we would watch with regularity.  None of the other big ones came in through that antenna. Upon some research, I found that when looking at the antenna we currently have, there are things missing or have fallen off of our current one. Because of this I am now on a quest to find an antenna that works.

This was my attempt.

Here is what I used to make it.

I used the plans from this video and substituted in copper wire instead of wire coat hangers.

And to answer the video's question at the beginning, yes, I did buy one of the amplified ones.  It didn't get one channel. I picked this one because it has a ton of views and most of the comments are positive with the responders saying that they had success with their projects.

Sadly, I only got two analog channels that came in so fuzzy I had no idea what the channels actually were.  I am going to experiment with running cables into the attic and seeing if that would do the trick.  My friend Jay has his antenna in his attic and says that it comes in really clear from there with not too much trouble.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.  I really hope I can find a way to make this work. It would be so great to eliminate the cable bill from our monthly expenses.

4. Take Hannah out on 5 dates

The temperature got very close to 100 degrees today.  There was no excuse to not go to the pool.  Except if you are Maddie and have a temp around 103 degrees(she went to bed with it normal.  We will see how it looks in the morning).  Because of that Melissa suggested that I take Hannah to the pool.  She needed it.  She had a ton of energy and needed to get out and do something, so that is what we did.  I put together some video clips from our trip.  There are no actual pool shots with Hannah or me in them.  It was tough enough keeping track of her with how ever many hundreds of people were there today.  She enjoyed playing in the lazy river, playing in the sprinkler park, and jumping into the pool which is one of her new favorite things to do.
Here is the video clip:

The first clip is in the driveway, the second part is walking into the pool and the last one is leaving to go home.  I love Hannah's line at the end, "I went swimming, but I didn't go with my sister, just Daddy/Hannah, and nobody else."  She had a great time!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fun day paddling down the river

Today Casey and I had a chance to canoe down the Fox River in the Mid-American Canoe Race.  This the second year that we have done it and I hope there are many years to come.  During the day Casey mentioned to me that a few years down the line we will be racing with Josh and Charlie.  That sounds like one of the coolest things in the world to me!

We started our day at my house to load the canoe up on the van and drive up to the starting line in St. Charles.  After dropping the boat off we drove back home and walked to the finish line which is conveniently located about 3 blocks from our house.  From there a shuttle took us back up to St. Charles.  I don't know if Casey and I had our math wrong on travel time or if we are just more efficient in getting around but we got to the starting line about an hour before our start time. 

We watched some of the other teams go off and picked up some things to do and things not to do.  There was a team of two guys who both looked to be about twenty years old and most likely were entering the water for their first time ever.  They crashed into the shore twice, switched seats once and almost tipped multiple times all in just the first 50 yards.  It was hilarious painful to watch.

The best part of the race is a tough call between two times.  The first would be when we came upon the Red Oak Observatory Deck and had our wives and kids cheering for us.  It was so awesome to hear their little voices carrying so far over the water.  They were so happy.  The second place was the finish line where we were cheered on to the finish line by our number one fans once again.
We are the guys in the white boat not strategically blocking the middle of the river

Overall we did pretty well.  We beat our time from last year by a minute or two.  All in all it was a good day. We came in 10th in the field of the Men's Competitive division (out of 27). I am very proud of that.  We narrowly edged the guys that took 11th place by three-tenths of a second.  I'm glad our fans were cheering so much for us at the finish line!

Trying to look good and finish strong in front of our fans!

Walking up this hill a lady asked me, "You guys been doing some canoeing?"  I had about twelve possible smart-aleck comments that I wanted to say back to her.  Two guys just walking down the street carrying a canoe. 

After the race we had to walk the canoe back home.  It always makes for an interesting time carrying a canoe through city areas that aren't used to seeing a canoe!

What a great day!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

15. Get another seat added to my bike

When I wrote this post two weeks ago I didn't realize that an anonymous person would send a seat to our house for us.  I anticipated this one taking a little longer to get done, but I guess someone wanted us to have it in time for the summer to begin.  We are very grateful for that.

We have gone on three rides with it already.  Charlie and I rode down to the bank last week, I took all three kids for a ride on the trail by the river to throw rocks and look for ducks and geese, and tonight Melissa joined the four of us for a ride around the neighborhood.  We had fun!  It wasn't too much of a strenuous ride (I got up to 34 mph on the way home from work on Wed!) but it was very enjoyable.  Melissa did point out how much of a slacker she looked like with me riding three kids and her leisurely peddling by herself down the street.  I'm hoping that we can do more of these types of rides over the summer.

Charlie has found that he can rest his head on the rest in front of him. It would be really cute except that he wants to rest his head on the side with part of it on my arm.  It makes riding a bit difficult, but I don't mind it to give him a chance to rest.

I am so excited for this summer to get into swing so I can take the three kids on rides around town.

Two goals down!

Friday, June 3, 2011

56. Get a perfect score in Place the State

 During my break today I had a few minutes to spare so I snuck into the computer lab to have my hand at Place the State.  For those that don't know, or haven't figured out already, Place the State is a geography game where you are given the outline of the state and you need to click and drag it into place on the United States map.  In my six years of playing this game the best I have ever done is a score of being 1 mile off.  I have never gotten a perfect score. I don't know how many times I have sat and played the game for 20 to 30 minutes and not gotten a perfect score.  There is a little wiggle room in getting it right, but if you are off by too much on one of them it will penalize you and perfection is lost.

For my game I played (and won) today I started with Pennsylvania, then was given Nebraska and West Virginia.  It was right after I had gotten those two right that I knew I would be in good shape.  The middle states are by far the hardest (obviously) because you have no borders to match them up with.  After having those two in place I had a frame of reference and it was fairly smooth sailing from there.  I was actually pretty nervous that something would go wrong.  It seemed almost too easy.

After trying and failing so many times I expected this one to be a little bit harder.  Oh well.  I will take it!

One goal down!

Eric's 101 Goal List - Second Time Around

I am doing this again. After having a lot of fun and success in my first time around, I decided that I wanted to do this all over again.  I have learned from my first time of success and failures and have put together a pretty good list of things that I want to do over the course of the next 1001 days.  The end date for finishing these goals is February 28, 2014.  Thanks to everyone for your support and for keeping me accountable!

Family Goals (10/18)
1. Plant a tree
2. Host a gingerbread party for the kids Done 12/1/12
3. Take kids in bathing suits to Millennium Park Done 7/16/11
4. Take Hannah out on 5 dates
     - Go Swimming 6/7/11 
     - McDonalds 7/6/11
     - Go Swimming 6/26/12 
     - Luigi's 7/10/12
5. Take Maddie out on 5 dates
     - Oberweis 9/22/11
     - Luigi's
     - McDonalds 3/26/13
     - Dunkin Donuts 6/24/13
6. Take Charlie out 5 times
     - Bounce Town 7/5/12
     - Dunkin Donuts 1/3/13
     - Harners 3/25/13
7. Go out in the country to look at stars
8. Get bikes for the girls  Done 12/31/11
9. Go ice skating
10. Write Charlie a song Done 12/5/11
11. Take the kids out on the canoe Done 9/3/12
12. Make wood toys with the kids Done 8/17/12
13. Go to Navy Pier Children’s Museum Done 1/13/12
14. Catch fireflies Done 7/2/13
15. Get another seat added to my bike Done 6/4/11
16. Make annual family videos
17. Go bowling as a family Done 1/8/12
18. Go to a Cubs game as a family Done 9/16/12

Health/Physical Goals (5/18)
19. Go Mountain Biking
20. Go curling Done 1/8/12
21. Go on a 50 mile bike ride
22. Triathlon Done 7/21/13
23. Canoe the rest of the Fox River
24. ½ marathon under 2 hours
25. Swim 1 mile Done 12/3/12
26. Beat my best 5K time (22:20)
27. Run a mile in under 6:07
28. Go snowshoeing
29. Finish P90X program
30. Race up the Hancock
31. Kick a 25 yard field goal Done 6/20/11
32. Run a race with friends
33. Do the Crane pose for 20 seconds
34. Ride 1500 miles on my bike (1500+/1500) Done 5/27/13
35. Ride from work to home in under 15 minutes 10 times (10/10) Done 5/30/12
36. Do 20 pull-ups Best (5/20)

Health Goals (4/4)
37. Donate blood using the Apheresis machine Done 12/31/11
38. Find a new doctor and get a physical Done 9/15/11
39. Drink no pop for 3 straight months Done 3/27/12
40. Go without high sugar foods for a month Done 2/8/13

Goals with friends (4/7)
41. Play tennis 10 times (10/10) Done 7/28/13
42. Do a camping trip with friends Done 6/7/13
43. Hang out with 3 friends from college
   - Scott
44. Do a music video with Matt
45. Host a movie night outside Done 9/10/11
46. Host a guys movie night
47. Take someone to give their first blood donation Done 7/25/11

Educational Goals (7/9)
48. Read the Bible (66/66) Done 12/30/12
49. Read 10 books for fun (46/10)
50. Read a book about another culture Done 6/22/11
51. Learn a scale on the clarinet
52. Read 10 of the top 100 novels (9/10) Done 1/7/13
53. Read Plato’s republic Done 12/23/12
54. Learn CPR Done 4/16/13
55. Finish my dissertation
56. Get a perfect score in Place the State Done 6/3/11

Food Goals (2/3)
57. Make pasta from scratch
58. Make a meal with all main ingredients from a Farmer’s Market Done 8/4/12
59. Make canned applesauce for the winter Done 10/23/11

Entertainment Goals (8/9)
60. Get and solve a 6X6 Rubik’s cube Done 1/19/12
61. Watch all of the Harry Potter movies Done 11/11/11
62. Watch a movie at a Drive-in
63. Watch all 6 Star Wars movies Done 12/24/12
64. Watch 10 of the top 100 movies (10/10) Done 2/3/12
65. Go to Hollywood Palms Done 8/14/12
66. Watch 10 classic (loosely interpreted) movies (10/10) Done 2/23/13
67. Get rid of Cable TV (at least try it out) Done 6/24/11
68. Watch 5 movies that I watched growing up (5/5) Done 3/3/12

Things to make goals (6/7)
69. Make behind the garage usable space Done 10/30/11
70. Tuck point the front of the house where needed Done 1/5/11
71. Put lighting up in the garage  Done 6/10/11
72. Make a planter for the front of the house Done 6/10/12
73. Make a baseball bat Done 6/17/12
74. Sew something
75. Build deck on upstairs porch Done 7/2/11

Places or Adventure Goals (8/26)
76. Go to a High School Play
77. Volunteer with an organization in Aurora Done 7/21/11
78. Go to a Fair Done 9/8/12
79. Visit 10 stores/buildings in downtown Aurora (5/10)
80. Go up in the Leland Tower to overlook Aurora Done 8/8/12
81. Milk a cow
82. Go to a State/National Park for a day
83 Go go-carting
84. Visit Conference Point
85. Go to Bears Training Camp
86. Go for a ride-along with the police
87. Take the bus somewhere in town
88. Tour Wrigley Field Done 8/20/11
89. Shoot a gun
90. Start a fire using magnesium and flint
91. Go to 2 new baseball parks (2/2)
     Petco Park 8/6/13
92. Volunteer for a race
93. Visit an ocean Done 8/6/11
94. Go to an ESPN radio show Done 6/28/13
95. Go to a new disc golfing course
96. Go fishing Done 8/10/11
97. Bike to Wrigley for a game
98. Drive a motorized boat
99. Pull a fire alarm
100. Learn how to whistle using my fingers
101. Play golf at Edgebrook Done 7/18/11