Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas 2019

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2

  1. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David
  2. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
  3. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
  4. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
  5. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
  6. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
  7. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
  8. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
  9. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
  10. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
  11. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Press 1 If You'd Like To Speak To A Representative...

You know those calls you get where the warranty on your car is out, or you can lower your credit card interest rate, or whatever? They say "Press '1' if you'd like to speak to a representative" or some such, right? Well, I used to press the number and then when the person came on, play Van McCoy's "The Hustle" into the phone. A family member came up with that idea. Or maybe I did. I don't recall. But, whoever came up with it, I would do that. But no longer.

It's a hassle to pull up a music player to play into the phone. Sometimes, it's easy, but other times, not so much.

Now, I press 1. Or whatever number they say.

I press it. Then I press it again. Then again. Then again. And so on and so on until they hang up.

It's really easy to do. All you have to do is press a number on the phone. Simple.

I may expand on that and play actual tunes. Funkytown, for instance.

5 5 7 5 4 4 5 0 8 5

Maybe Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

1 1 9 9 # # 9 6 6 3 3 2 2 1

I'm sure there's a lot more to play. I'm gonna keep with the single note over and over for now. But I do see Funkytown on my possible playlist.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


One of my favorite things to listen to during this time is Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." Not just The Nutcracker Suite, with which most are familiar, but the entire music from the ballet. I even have a couple of versions of The Nutcracker on video.

One is a movie starring The Pacific Northwest Ballet, narrated by Julie Christie. The other is George Balanchine's version, starring Macaulay Culkin and narrated by Keven Kline.

The Pacific Northwest Ballet version is a creepier version, partly to the performance of Hugh Duncan Bigney Mitchell (known then simply as Hugh Bigney) and his dedication to the role of Drosselmeyer. They used the name "Clara" for the main girl's character, performed as an adult by Patricia Barker. The Balanchine used the name "Marie" for the girl, and included Drosselmeyer's nephew (played by Culkin), a character missing from the PNB version.

Some in the family prefer the Balanchine version, some the PNB version, and some prefer neither. I just love the music.

Here's a little something to get you into the mood. The Vermont Youth Philharmonia performs two movements "The Nutcracker."


By the way, Tchaikovsky premiered "The Nutcracker" on 18 December 1892 in Saint Petersburg, the one in Russia, not the one by Tampa.

Monday, December 9, 2019

College Football Playoff (As It Should Be) 2019

Every year for the last -- oh, I don't know how long, for a while -- I've posted about the college football playoffs. Actually, about how the college football playoffs should be.

Not everybody agrees with with my plan, but it has a few things going for it. First, here's the plan:
  • All conference champions qualify for the tournament. Those are the top ten seeds.
  • The six best teams that didn't win a conference title qualify. That rounds out the field of 16.
  • Higher seeds host the first-round games. Four bowls host the second-round games.
  • First round losers still qualify for bowls.
This deals with the issue that has arisen about non-conference champions. Some feel you must win a conference championship to be in the playoffs. That's a valid concern, and this plan covers it.

Some say that there are teams that didn't win their conference that are better than many conference champs. That's a valid concern, and this plan covers it.

Some say this calls for teams to play too many games. It doesn't seem to be a problem for Division 1-AA/FCS teams, which has a 24-team field. It doesn't seem to be a problem for Division II, which has a 28-team field. It doesn't seem to be a problem for Division III, which has a 32-team field. If those schools can handle extra playoff games, then the bigger schools can.

Here's how the playoffs would line up this year:

1 Louisiana State (Southeastern Conference) #1 (CFP)
2 Ohio State (Big Ten Conference) #2 (CFP)
3 Clemson (Atlantic Coast Conference) #3 (CFP)
4 Oklahoma (Big 12 Conference) #4 (CFP)
5 Oregon (Pac-12 Conference) #6 (CFP)
6 Memphis (American Athletic Conference) #17 (CFP)
7 Boise State (Mountain West Conference) #19 (CFP)
8 Appalachian State (Sun Belt Conference) #20 (CFP)
9 Florida Atlantic (Conference USA) #32 (Coaches)
10 Miami (Ohio) (Mid-American Conference) Unranked
11 Georgia (At-large) #5 (CFP)
12 Baylor (At-large) #7 (CFP)
13 Wisconsin (At-large) #8 (CFP)
14 Florida (At-large) #9 (CFP)
15 Penn State (At-large) #10 (CFP)
16 Utah (At-large) #11 (CFP)

This would make some pretty good match-ups, equal to or better than some of the bowl games involving the teams in the field of 16.

Utah (11-2) at Louisiana State (13-0)
Penn State (10-2) at Ohio State (13-0)
Florida (10-2) at Clemson (13-0)
Wisconsin (10-3) at Oklahoma (12-1)
Baylor (11-2) at Oregon (11-2)
Georgia (11-2) at Memphis (12-1)
Miami (Ohio) (8-5) at Boise State (12-1)
Florida Atlantic (10-3) at Appalachian State (12-1)

The weakest matchup is the Miami (Ohio) vs. Boise State. However, it's no weaker than Boise State's bowl game (vs 7-5 Washington) or Miami (Ohio) bowl (vs 10-3 Louisiana-Lafayette).

You might not be on board with this, but that's okay. You have the right to be wrong.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


I was in junior high -- they call it middle school now -- when I first read about King Tut. It may have even be elementary school. I mean, it was a long time ago, so I'm not quite sure exactly when it was, but I was truly fascinated by the whole thing.

Use to be, when I'd run across some program or documentary about King Tut, I'd take the time to watch it. Of course, over the years, Tutankhamun became the subject of all kinds of theories about how he died and was he a space alien or -- okay, I don't know for sure that there was one about him being a space alien, but you get the idea. Lots of videos about Tutankhamun that ranged from good historical information, to a bunch of myths, to just plain crazy.

None of them capture or bring back what I felt when I read that book so many years ago about King Tutankhamun.

This came to mind because I found out that November 26 is the anniversary of the day in 1922 when Howard Carter first peered into the tomb of Tutankhamun, and when asked if he could see anything, replied "Yes, wonderful things."

[The YouTube]

Yes, I did think about the whole Steve Martin thing, but I decided to skip that.


As you may know, I have a fairly large movie library. Well, it's larger than most people I know. Over 1,500 movies and growing.

One thing I like to do is have my movies available to me, both at home and when I'm away from home. I don't know why I'd want my movies when I'm away from home, but I do. It seems like something I'd like to do.

Since most of my movies -- over 1,200 -- were purchased from iTunes (or through other services that are part of Movies Anywhere), I have them available on my iPad. They aren't available on my Android phone though. Well, a little over 700 are (the Movies Anywhere movies), but the rest aren't.

At home, I'm running iTunes and have downloaded all of my iTunes movies to the computer. I've also ripped out my DVDs and loaded the files into iTunes. That's over 6 TB in video content (that's movies and TV shows). I'm able to watch all of that through my Apple TV. However, I have to be at home to watch it all -- specifically, the content ripped from DVD. I can't watch my ripped DVDs away from home.

Well, a while back, I tinkered with Plex. It was okay, but iTunes was really easy. Besides, at the time, it worked on Roku, but not on Apple TV. It also won't play copy-protected content. I didn't have a single source for all my content other than iTunes, and that was only on Apple TV.

I've decided to take a second look at Plex, now. There are apps for Plex on iOS and Android devices, on Roku, on Apple TV, and most other platforms. So, I can play all of my non-DRM content through Plex.

Well, as good as all that is, I still want a single source for everything. I purchase my content -- I've even purchased the streaming version of content I already had on DVD in order to watch it anywhere -- and I don't pirate content. I just want to be able to watch my content that I bought. I'm not gonna give it to anyone else. I'm not gonna sell it to anyone else. I want it for my own personal viewing.

Since I don't mind ripping DVDs, I don't mind removing copy-protection from my personal local copy of purchased digital content. I'm not advocating that others do that, because I know some people that will turn around and attempt to profit from the work of others. Not me. All of my purchases are for my use only.

Anyway, I set up Plex on my Windows desktop computer and copied over all of my DVD movies from iTunes. All of the content I had ripped out from DVD. I did some file renaming to fit the Plex suggested naming conventions. Then a little bit of housekeeping to ensure everything looked good.

Whaddaya know? I had a good working Plex server and movie library of over 200 films. I was almost impressed with myself. Then I saw the names of all the movies. Most of them are not available streaming for a reason. Lots of really bad films -- I not only have all of the MST3K episodes, I have as many of the actual movies they riffed as I can find. That's a lot of really bad movies. Some I got from a "50 Classic Science Fiction Movies" collection. It was cheap for a reason. And I not only ripped out the MST3K-inspiring films, I ripped out all I could (some discs didn't rip at all but I'm not gonna pursue that; I'm happy with the 45 movies I got from it). So, I got around 300 movies from DVD, and the vast majority are movies I wouldn't really want to watch anyway.

Still, I'm committed to this. All of my DVDs are now in Plex, and I've begun ripping the digital purchases. That includes the first ten seasons of Doctor Who (classic seasons), or at least, the digital releases. Each night, I'll set up some digital TV episodes to rip, and the next night I'll set up some digital movies to rip. I'll probably switch over to Christmas movies and specials this week.

It's gonna take me a while to finish this. But, I have been able to do a little bit each day. By the time I'm 96, I should just about be done. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

In Which We All Lost Our Innocence

November 17, 1978. A day which will live in infamy.

That's the day the Star Wars Holiday Special aired on CBS.

Those of us that went to see the original Star Wars movie many times in the theaters just a year earlier were eagerly anticipating this special. What we got was a grand awakening of things to come.

The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 was great. Return of the Jedi in 1983 was good. Yes, despite the Ewoks. Those of us who saw the Holiday Special were not shocked by the Ewoks. Nor were we shocked by the Prequels that came years later. We all realize just how bad Star Wars could be.

And, in case you were (or still are) a Star Wars fan, and in case you missed the Holiday Special, well, here you go.

[The YouTube]

Remember, this was followed up by The Empire Strikes Back. No matter how bad things seem during the moment, things will can get better.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

About IMAO

Some of you may know I also work behind the scenes at IMAO. And you may have noticed that IMAO is down at the moment. And has been down for several hours.

Frank J. is working with the hosting company to resolve things, but I don't have much more information than that. Hopefully, it'll be back up soon.

Moon ain't gonna nuke itself.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

My Last Disney World Trip

Love the ride until they start shooting back!
Well, I went on my last Walt Disney World trip recently. It was fun, but was kinda tiring, too.

Normally, I like to go to Magic Kingdom, and I like to ride Haunted Mansion. That is my favorite all-time ride at Disney World. It holds up after all these years. Sure, they've made some updates to it, but the best parts are the parts that were there in the '70s. It's a classic.

But, as I said, that was my last trip to Walt Disney World.

Tickets are expensive. Food is expensive. Rooms are expensive. Everything is expensive. But it's fun.

I spent a lot more time at EPCOT than I had in previous trips. The Food and Wine Festival is underway, and that's fun. Well, it's filling at least. They got lots of food. Lots and lots of food. Expensive expensive food. But good food.

I used to go to Hollywood Studios more, but only made one short visit this time. The lines are long and they've changed how the Fast Pass works in that park. Now, it's a lot more waiting.

Didn't make it to Animal Kingdom this trip. It never even crossed my mind. Mostly because I was always at EPCOT eating, it seemed.

So, now I've completed my last trip to Walt Disney World. Yes, it was fun. But it was my last trip.

My next one is the weekend of November 9 & 10. And I'll figure out the next after that one. But I sure enjoyed my last trip. I can't wait for the next one.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Silly Old Bear

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at Walt Disney World
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
at Walt Disney World
One of my grandsons -- the 4-year old -- really loves Winnie the Pooh. Well, the Walt Disney version of the character anyway.

I've taken him to Walt Disney World a couple of times and one of the rides he always wants to ride -- usually the first one he mentions -- is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. And, when he's over at the house, he loves the Google Home device that is linked to a Chromecast. He doesn't know or understand all that, but he knows that if he says, "Hey Google, play The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," that it will say "Okay" and that Walt Disney movie will start playing.

The boy loves Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh.

What brought this up? Well, the first Winnie the Pooh book (titled Winnie-the-Pooh) was first published on October 14, 1926. My grandson has never read the book. I've read the book to him, anyway. But the fact the book was published this date 93 years ago was the first in a series of events that eventually led to my grandson and me having some fun times together.

Will you or I do something that impacts others some 90-something years from now? Maybe not. Probably not. But we might.

Is that too deep for a Monday?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Worst Director?

Edward D. Wood, Jr., born 95 years ago today.

Some people say that Edward D. Wood, Jr. was the worst movie director ever. I'm not sure about that.

Yes, he made some really bad movies, but if I learned anything from watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 is that a lot of people made bad movies. Ed Wood wasn't the only one.

I mentioned on IMAO the other day about Manos: The Hands of Fate, which is a move we love to ... well, hate isn't the word, because we don't hate it. Far from it, we love it, both despite of and because of how bad it is. But, from my understanding, Manos was never intended to be a great film. It was intended to be a film that came in under budget, and it was. Didn't make any money, but still, it came in under budget. Mission accomplished. Sort of.

Plan 9 From Outer Space was intended to be a money-maker. It wasn't. In fact, all of Ed Wood's movies were suppose to be successful films. Mr. Wood fell short of that goal a lot.

But, is he really the worst director of all time? A lot of critics say he was, but I think a lot say that because they're expected to say that.

How bad can someone be who directs Bela Lugosi's compellingly awful lines from Bride of the Monster?

[The YouTube]

I'm not sure Ed Wood is the worst. Not by a long shot. But, if you want to think he is, go right ahead. He won't complain. He's been dead since 1978, dying two months after his 54th birthday. And that birthday? October 10, 1924. 95 years ago today.

Happy birthday, Edward D. Wood, Jr. You may or may not have ben the worst, but you were certainly the best of the worst.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

1919 Chicago White Sox

It was 100 years ago today that the Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago White Sox in the 8th game of the World Series, winning the series five games to three. That was the one where eight players on the White Sox ended up being banned from baseball for conspiring to throw the series.

A lot of people have come out over the years claiming that "Shoeless" Joe Jackson wasn't actually in on it, but at the time, there was little doubt. Same with Buck Weaver. Though there is doubt about those two actually participating in the fix, they knew about it and didn't report it. So, they were banned by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

<a href="">I like baseball</a>. I don't like things that harm baseball. And much of the game today isn't what I like. That's why minor league baseball is a better game, though the players are lesser players. They're playing hard, all the time. They want to make it to the majors. It's just a shame that so many that make it to the majors then turn into what's wrong with baseball.

It's kinda like politics, except that when baseball players take money, nobody forces you to pay for it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Kneel Before Zog

King Zog I

Did you know Albania had a king?

I mean, they don’t. But they did. They had a king. A king. One king. And that wasn’t really all that long ago.

Actually, it was, 1930s. Well, actually, 1928-1939. But that was less than 100 years ago, so not all that long.

Yes, Albania had a king. Zog I.

Really, his name was Zog I. There was never a Zog II, or an anything else, either. He was elected king — did you know you could get elected king? Well, Zog was, so it was possible it seems — and he served until Mussolini invaded Albania in 1939.

Why am I bringing him up? Well, today’s his birthday. How old is he? That’s easy. 65.

How is that possible? Well, he quit having birthdays in 1961 when he up and died, so he’s been stuck at 65 for a while. But he was born in 1895, if you care. Albania cared, apparently.

I’m just wondering why I never hears of Zog I before now. Maybe you’ve heard of him. If so, share your knowledge. That way I don’t have to look a bunch of stuff up.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

1,500 movies

I passed the 1,500 mark in my movie library this week. I didn't even realize it at the time.

I've got a decent size library of films -- it's up to 1,502 right now, or maybe even more -- so when I passed that number, I didn't realize it. I just happened to sit down tonight after supper and call up my video server and that's when I saw I had 1,502 movies. I was impressed.

My movies

No, this isn't the largest personal video collection there is, but it's the largest of anyone that I know personally, or that knows me. Well, as far as I know.

So, what movie was number 1,500? From the image above, you'd figure it was "Sleeping Beauty" right? Well, no. It's actually "The Fox and the Hound." You see, that version of "Sleeping Beauty" is an HD version. I already an older standard definition version, but when Disney released it from the vault again this week, I upgraded it. So, it replaced the SD version. It's the same movie.

Now, if one was a Director's Cut or something like that, then yes, I'd call it a separate version. But then, it would show 1,503 movies, and counting back, you'd still get "The Fox and the Hound." But it's the same version, just in higher definition, so I have 1,502 movies and the 1,500th was still "The Fox and the Hound."

And here's the thing: I've never seen "The Fox and the Hound." I just wanted to get it, in case I ever wanted to watch it. Or in case the grandchildren wanted to watch it.

Of course, while I have 1,502 movies in my local streaming library, I actually have access to 1,512 films that I own. Those other ten movies are online only, although I do own them. Five are alternate versions of other movies I have, but that's just because the streaming service is a member of Movies Anywhere -- I talked about that before -- and they didn't have the version I bought, so the filled the Movies Anywhere requirement with a slightly different version.

Two are Director's Cuts: "Lethal Weapon" and "Lethal Weapon 3" which VUDU used to meet its Movies Anywhere obligation.

One is an extended edition of "There's Something About Mary," again from VUDU.

One is an alternate release of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" from Amazon, which includes "Horton Hears A Who." Only, I already have "Horton Hears A Who" so that's an odd one to try to count.

There's that awful 2011 remake of "Arthur" that Fandango Now added instead of the correct "Arthur" film with Dudley Moore. I don't like to count it, but I do have it in my online streaming library.

And, I bought the theatrical release of "Stripes" through Movies Anywhere, but iTunes gave me the extended version instead, and that's the one I have locally.

The actual intended purchases I have that are online only are the original "Gone in 60 Seconds" and three "Ice Age" shorts.

So, do I count those? I generally don't because I don't have a local copy in my streaming library. But, since I do own them, and since they are part of my streaming library, what is my 1,500th film? Well, what if I throw out those mistakes or replacement that the streaming services forced on me, but still count my four intentional online purchases from Amazon, my 1,500th movie is "Knute Rockne, All American" starring Ronald Reagan and Pat O'Brien.

Yeah, all that "well I bought one version but this one company gave me another" is not really something I care for. So, I'm sticking with "The Fox and the Hound." A good family film makes me feel better.

I need to sit down and watch that. Maybe this weekend.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Smoke Alarm

It was late Sunday night -- a little after 10 PM -- when I heard the "BEEP!"

I sat there for a moment, not sure if I actually heard something. After several seconds, I decided I hadn't heard anything. Then I heard it again.


"Okay, that's the smoke alarm telling me the battery is low," I said to myself. Why did I say that to myself? I was the only one listening, that's why.

So, I walked to the hallway and looked over the guest bedroom door, where the smoke detector was.


It didn't really sound like it was coming from ahead and above me. Must be odd acoustics, huh? Oh, well. I need to take it down and change the battery. So, I walked over to it, twisted it slightly, and it came off. I then turned it over to locate the battery cover, expecting something about the size of a 9-volt battery. Nothing looked that size. There was something that looked like a battery cover, but it didn't look the right shape.


That sure didn't seem like it came from my hand. But, yes, I had the smoke alarm in my hand. Walking into the kitchen, where I keep the batteries in the drawer full of everything, I removed the cover and saw a couple of strange-shaped batteries. CR123A. Well, that's unexpected. I'll need to run to the store and get a couple. For now, I'll just remove them. So I did, setting the smoke alarm, batteries, and battery cover on the kitchen table.


Okay, that's unexpected. I had not expected the smoke alarm to continue to beep at me after the batteries were removed. Had I removed the wrong smoke detector? Did I have another I forgot about? So, I looked into the guest bedroom to see what I could find.


Okay, that was behind me. I looked up along the hallway, wondering if there was another. So, I stepped into my bedroom, looking up around the bedroom.


That was behind me. So, in the hallway? Or was it something else? The motion sensor perhaps? I walked to the middle of the hallway and stood staring at the motion sensor, waiting for ...


Okay, that was to my left. What's to my left? The thermostat. The bedroom. The hall closet. And, in the dining room, just off the hallway, the alarm system. Well then, I'll just stand in the opening between the hall and the dining room and see if the sound is from the alarm system to the right or the hallway to the left.


Definitely hallway. So... the hall closest? Is there a smoke alarm in there? I opened the hall closet to see. There, on the shelf, was the old smoke alarm that I had replaced many many months ago with a smoke alarm that tied into my security system. I picked it up off the shelf and turned it over. There was a 9-volt battery attached.


I unplugged the battery, and set it down on the kitchen table. I put he CR123A batteries back in the system smoke alarm and put it back on the wall. Or started to. I must have hit something because my alarm system went off. I walked over and punched in the code and it stopped.

Back to the hallway, and I successfully put the smoke alarm back up. I walked back to the home alarm system and set the alarm for the night. Rather than head to bed, I decided I was thirsty and got some cold water from the fridge. Sitting down in the recliner, I decided to finish the water before heading to bed.

A few minutes later, I heard a large vehicle pull up out front. Did I care enough to go see what it was? No. In a little bit, something caught the corner of my eye. There was a blue light I could just about see through the space between the window and the blinds. Now I cared enough.

Heading to the door, I peered between the blinds. Was that a fire truck? And a police car? And four persons standing across the street in the neighbor's yard?

No evidence of a fire. Perhaps someone had called 911 for a medical emergency? I grabbed my pistol -- you never know what might be going on at 10:30 at night -- and disabled the alarm. I walked to the front door, opened it, and there was a man walking up the steps. I flipped the porch light on, and I could see he was a firefighter.

"We got a report of a fire alarm at this address."

I paused. "Nope. No fire here."

He was joined by two other firefighters and a police officer.

"Your alarm company said they couldn't reach you so they called us."

"I'm sorry about that. My phone hasn't rung," I said. And it hadn't. "Everything's okay here. I am sorry for the trouble though."

"It's not a problem." He turned to leave, then stopped. "You might want to your alarm company and correct your address." He explained that they gave him an address 1 number off, which would be on the other side of the street. That house, though, faces a different road, meaning the address they were given doesn't exist.

"I'll contact them right now. Sorry for the trouble."

"You have a good night, sir."

"You too."

Well, the alarm company does have my address correct in the Web interface, so I'm not sure why they'd give the wrong address. And while my phone didn't ring, I did have a voice mail from them.

It's good to know that my alarm system works, even if it doesn't work just right.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Disney+ streaming deals? Maybe.

In case you haven't heard, there's a thing called Disney+. It's a streaming service that will launch in November. It will contain a lot of Disney content, naturally. And, that's a lot of stuff. Disney owns a whole bunch of stuff.

In the meantime, Disney has been removing their content -- not all of it, but bit by bit at least some of it -- from other streaming services. Netflix is slowly losing content, but whether or not all Disney content will eventually leave isn't known. But, with Disney's new streaming service, there will be a streaming home for the massive Disney catalog.

What brought this up is a couple of things. I grew up watching Disney, so Disney movies and Disney parks hold a special place for me. Sure, a lot of things Disney does I do not like, but if I stopped watching everything from companies that did something I didn't like, I would watch nothing. So, I enjoy their movies and parks, by myself and with the grandchildren.

The other thing is that Disney+ offers an introductory offer for the service. But, of course, there's a catch. You gotta sign up for three years in order to take advantage of the special price. And the deadline for the offer is a full two months (maybe more) before the service launches.

I figure I'll subscribe, at least for a while, to see if I like the service. And, I suspect I'll like it, at least enough to keep paying the $5.99 a month (that's the regular price, not the discount I mentioned. That works out to $3.92/month.

What complicates things is that Disney has other offers going on. They'll be offering three services -- Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ -- for $12.99/month. Since ESPN+ is $4.99/month and Hulu is $5.99/month, that would mean I could get Disney+ for essentially $2.01/month. But, I don't want or need ESPN+ every month. I only care during football season, since some games I want to watch will be on that service.

The other thing is that I also upgrade my Hulu from the $5.99 service to the $44.99 Hulu Live service -- adding $39/month to the cost -- during football season. That's so I can get ESPN, which is where many of the games I want to watch will be shown. I don't need Hulu Live the rest of the time. Of course, there are other options for adding ESPN to my streaming capabilities, the cheapest of which is Sling TV, which, with the Sports Extra (ESPNU, ESPNews, SEC Network, others) runs $35/month. To me, spending the extra $4 for Hulu Live vs Sling TV makes more sense because of the recent issues with content being pulled from Sling during Dish contract negotiations. Dish owns Sling TV. To avoid that, I upgraded my Hulu to the Live service instead.

So, the complications to the Disney+ special offer are related to the bundle of Disney+ with ESPN+ and Hulu, the fact that I only use ESPN+ part of the year, and the fact that I upgrade from Hulu to Hulu Live during part of the year. That made running the numbers challenging. But, hey, I like a good challenge. Here's what I found.

One assumption I made was that I would subscribe to Disney+ for three years, whether the 3-year deal, the one-year price, the month-to-month price, or the bundle price. Regardless of how I did it, I would do it for three years. That made it easy to compare.

The next is that I would keep Hulu the whole time. I expect that to be the case, as I've had Hulu since 2010, when it was called Hulu Plus.

The next assumption is that prices would remain the same for three years. That's a false assumption, but I only have current prices available, so I went with what I have.

Finally, I had to run the numbers two ways in order to fully compare. One way was with adding a live streaming service (for ESPN channels) during part of the year, and subscribing to ESPN+ only during that same time. The other was keeping all services all year. I don't expect that to happen, but I ran the numbers to see what would happen if I did. The idea is that if I found it cheaper to keep the year-round rather than drop them during off months, I would. Spoilers: It's not cheaper to keep them, but I didn't confirm that until I ran the numbers.

Here's what I found for having Hulu year-round, Disney+ year-round, ESPN+ during football season, live streaming with sports channels during football season.

Paying full price for all services ($5.99 Hulu, $4.99 ESPN+, $5.99 Disney+, $39 Hulu Live add-on), it's $55.97/month during football season, and $11.98 the rest of the year. That totals $363.71/year, or $1,091.13/3-years.

Same, but pre-paying for a year of Disney+ instead of month to month works out to $361.83/year or $1,085.46/3-years. That's less than a $2/year savings.

Same, but getting the Disney bundle year-round, and adding Hulu Live during season is $350.88/year or $1,052.64/3-years. That's a little more savings.

Same, but getting the Disney bundle in season, and paying full price off-season, works to $301.88/year or $905.64/3-years. That's more of a savings.

Same, but using Sling TV with Sports Extra instead of Hulu Live is $281.88/year or $845.64/3-years.

I also ran the numbers keeping everything year round, and that increased each total by 74% to 107%. Yep, nearly double in many cases and more than double in some. So, I'm not going with the year-round option.

What does all this bunch of numbers mean? Well, it means I'm going to pass on the three-year price for Disney+ and use the three-service bundle. I'll upgrade to live sports during football season and cut back during off-season. Which live service depends on price and special offers. Sling TV will sometimes offer specials if you pre-pay for several months. I've done that in the past. That may be something to consider if you are looking at something similar.

For now, I'm not going the cheapest route, but it's not much more than the cheapest. If you're looking at streaming, run the numbers before you buy into a long-term contract. It may save you some cash in the long run.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Doing Disney

If it seems like I've been slacking a lot lately, it's only because it's true. I've been in vacation mode for a bit. And will be in vacation mode for a bit longer. Until about Labor Day, I think.

Why? Well, I've been focusing on vacations. I do Disney World a lot. Not just me and Wife, but taking grandchildren too. I live less than four hours away from the parks, so I could do a day trip. I don't, because I'm not as young as I used to be, but I could.

My trips have been mostly one or two-day affairs. I have made a couple of trips longer in the past year, but only a couple. Most have been single day or two-day trips to Disney World.

Being an annual pass holder means I don't have to pay as much per visit to the parks, and I can do multiple parks in a day if I so choose. I've even done all four parks in a single day, but only once.

Since some family members are well aware of how often we make the trips to Disney World, they do wonder if it's actually more affordable than they imagine. It's not, as this video blogger will tell you.

[The YouTube]

Now, I don't spend that much money when I go to Disney World. As I said, I have an annual pass. I also shop around for hotels and don't mind staying at cheap hotels, as long as they're clean and comfortable. And I'll pack a lunch in a heartbeat. And, I'll drink that awful-tasting water from the water fountain. Because I'm cheap.

I recently renewed my annual pass. Sort of. Long story for another time. But I'll be going to Disney World more in the next year.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Gone Google? Google gone!

I lost Google yesterday.

Actually, I didn't lose it. It was taken from me.

An afternoon storm caused a power outage. The outage corresponded to a very loud pop from the next room, the room where all the Internet hardware is located. When the power came back on, the Internet didn't.

Now, losing Internet for a bit isn't really that big of a deal. It's even softened a good bit when the phone still can connect, so I wasn't completely cut off. But, home Internet is more of a big deal now that I've added some smart devices around the house.

"Hey Google, turn on the air conditioner."

"OK Google, turn off the kitchen light."

"Hey Google, what's the weather?"

That doesn't sound like much, but when you get used to it, it's kinda jarring when it's gone. And Google was gone.

Rebooting the system a couple of times didn't help. I own my own router. But swapping out the router -- twice -- didn't fix it. It was the modem maybe? I own my own modem. But swapping it out didn't really make any difference. So, I contacted Comcast. Actually drove to the local office -- not a full company store, but still a Comcast location -- and spoke to them.

The nice lady said they'd be able to get someone by on Thursday. Not this Thursday, but next Thursday. 10 days later.

Time to try another tactic. I added a Comcast modem to my account, and walked out with it under my arm. Here's my thinking: An issue with my service takes 10 days to get a tech to come by. But a new hardware setup, a Comcast-provided device, gets priority.

Got home and though it took an awfully long time to navigate the menu system and wait on hold and then wait for Michael (that was his name) to finish the setup the store didn't finish, I finally got back up and running. Took a couple of hours overall, but that included my own troubleshooting, a trip to Comcast, then the whole new hardware setup. But, as I said, I was back up and running.

Google was back! I no longer had to reach over and turn on a light switch if I wanted light.

I actually said, "Hey Google, I missed you."

It actually replied, "I missed you, too."

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

The Tomb of the Unknowns

Proclamation on Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2019

Issued on: May 24, 2019

Whether on the battlefields of Bunker Hill, on the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Vietnam, or in the mountains and deserts of the Middle East, brave Americans of every generation have given their last full measure of devotion in defense of our country, our liberty, and our founding ideals. On Memorial Day, we humbly honor these incredible patriots and firmly renew our abiding commitment to uphold the principles for which they laid down their lives.

As a free people, we have a sacred duty to remember the courageous warriors who have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that our great country would endure. It is our responsibility to strive to ensure that their noble acts of dedication to our country and the cause of freedom were not in vain and to comfort the families they have left behind, who bear the heartbreak of their loss. We must ensure that the light of our Republic, and all for which these most honorable Americans willingly died, continues to shine forth brightly into the world. As President Lincoln said in 1863 during the dedication of the Gettysburg National Military Cemetery: “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”

As we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we proudly commemorate those heroic and honorable patriots who gave their all for the cause of freedom during some of history’s darkest hours. Thousands of selfless members of our Armed Forces perished on the beaches of Normandy. They bravely gave their lives to pave the way for the Allied liberation of Europe and ultimately victory over the forces of evil. Their historic sacrifices and achievements secured the future of humanity and proved America’s strength in defending freedom and defeating the enemies of civilization.

Those who rest in the hallowed grounds of our country’s national cemeteries laid their lives upon the altar of freedom. Today, as we unite in eternal gratitude for the sacrifices of these extraordinary Americans, let us also offer a prayer for lasting peace. Let us renew our steadfast resolve to work toward a peaceful future, in which the horrors of war are a distant memory and our families, our communities, and our Nation need no longer confront the sorrow and pain of losing our beloved sons and daughters.

In honor and recognition of all of our fallen heroes, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer.

I further ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.

I also request the Governors of the United States and its Territories, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand thistwenty-fourth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Pluto TV

I think I have a new favorite cord cutting app. Pluto TV is one I've had for a bit. It always had something interesting on it, but now they've got a lot more.

If you aren't familiar with Pluto TV, it's a live linear streaming service. What that means is that it's kinda like cable TV in that there is stuff playing on different channels at different times. It's just like traditional TV in that way, except it's streaming.

Now, it's not the same channels that you'll find with Comcast, Spectrum, or any cable service. But it does have a lot of content that's similar. They have added content from Viacom recently to their list of Pluto TV channels.

Content from MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Nick, CMT, Spike -- yes, Spike is back -- and others join the lineup that has included more and more movie, including some pretty good films. There's also news streams from CNN, CBS, NBC, Newsmax, Sky News, and others. I love the MST3K stream, the Rifftrax stream, and so much more.

Rather than try to list everything they have, and considering that what interests me might not interest you, I'm gonna suggest you check it out. Go to their Website or go ahead and download the apps to your phone, tablet, or streaming device -- including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, and others -- and give it a watch.

If you're a cord cutter, or looking to cut the cord, give Pluto TV a shot. You might like it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Brothers O'Toole

Harvey from Bad Example and IMAO asked me a question the other day.
Just wondering if you're familiar with this movie?

The Brothers O'Toole (1973)

I'm only marginally familiar with 70's western comedies anyway, but I've never heard of this one. You?

I'd never heard of the movie, so I looked it up. I was intrigued by the cast:

And more.

Now, I'm perfectly aware that a good cast doesn't always mean a good movie. But, hey, it might be a gem. So, I started looking for it.

Nuthin'. Nuthin' at all.

Oh, there were pages about the movie, but no way to watch it. At first. Finally, Amazon had it available for streaming and on DVD. And, the DVD was on sale, for cheaper than a streaming rental at the time, so I bought the DVD. It came in last week, I ripped it out for iTunes and watched it.

Eh. It was okay. It was no Blazing Saddles. It wasn't even Support Your Local Sheriff, but nice enough with moderate humor.

The first hour a case of mistaken identity of a con man for a wanted felon, and easy mistake as John Astin played both characters. The last half-hour was the con men brothers trying to run a scam.

Not a great film, but nice enough. It's a heckuva lot better than some movies that I paid more for. So I'm happy to add it to my library.

Am I recommending you get it? No. But I'm not recommending you avoid it either. If you like 70s western comedies, you'll like it. Don't expect Blazing Saddles. But expect a smile or two.

Oh, and why did Harvey ask me about it? Well, he knows I like movies and that I might just have known about that one. I didn't know about it, but now I do.

Will I watch it again? Maybe one day. But I've got over 100 movies in my library that I haven't watched. I need to play catch-up first.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The smoke-filled room

Sir, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to settle a dispute. The year 2020 is upon us. We are to choose the servants that shall be the standard bearers for the top offices.

And what say you?

Sir, I want to go on record as saying that Elizabeth Warren is our best chance to defeat Trump.

No, no. Corey Booker. That's who we need to run.

You're both crazy. Kamala Harris is those two put together.

What about Bernie?

Beto O'Rourke! He's unstoppable!

You mean unless he runs against Ted Cruz?

I've had it up to here with you! I'll...

Still your tongues or I shall remove them!

If I might, sir. How did we ever find ourselves in this situation? Surely the ... um, shall I say Forces of Light ... did not intervene. The current officeholder is not one that would be chosen by ... Him. Is he?

Of course not. But, as you recall, our standard bearer in 2016 reached an agreement with me personally. Her soul for the presidency.

You've agreed to that type of bargain before. What happened?

She was unable to fulfill her end of the bargain. One cannot offer what one does not possess.

That, sir, is why I suggested Bernie Sanders last time. He didn't offer anything. He has been a willing puppet for years, and would have been a wonderful addition to our lineup of former officeholders.

And do not forget, we must also select the vice presidential candidate.

I suggest Kermit Gosnell. He has proven himself.

Isn't he still in jail? Killing babies wasn't as cool then as it is now.

I suggest Hat McCullough.

He's a South Park character. He's not even real.

Neither is Elizabeth Warren's resume. He'd be perfect for her.

I have considered and I have decided. We shall not intervene.

But sir! We must select candidates who represent what we stand for.

Those in leadership of the party have proven their methods of selecting the presidential candidate meet the standards upon which we insist. They have not let us down in the past. I trust them to select candidate that will do our bidding.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wrapping it up with FreedomPop

A while back, I was researching cell phone service for a lady from the church. When I last mentioned it, she still hadn't made up her mind. I figured she'd go with Xfinity Mobile, but she instead upgraded her AT&T flip phone to an inexpensive Samsung smartphone.

During that research, I became much more aware of what options there were for Android devices. I even decided to get an Android device, which I mentioned some time back.

I still have my iPhone with stuff for my day job on it. But I have my Android phone for stuff like ... well, whatever it is I do when I'm not doing my day job. I have been using FreedomPop service with it. That was one of the services I checked into for the church lady. Commenter Slapout was also using FreedomPop, and I need to see how things are going with him. For me? Well, I'm ready to wrap it up with them.

Their free service has minimal data. If you don't use much data, that's not a problem. But, I'm one that uses data. So, I went with one of their special deals, and tried a 2 GB data plan. That was more than I would use, so some rolled over every month. I've got lots available. Well, relatively speaking. Several months. I don't often pull out the phone and use data when I'm away from a reliable WiFi source, so I don't really use all that much. Just more than the free plan.

Anyway, the price is going up. For the next six months, it works out to a little over $20/month. That's not bad, to be sure. But, the price is more in line with traditional cell phone services. And with traditional cell service you don't have to use a special phone or text app like you do with FreedomPop.

I could drop to a 1 GB plan for less than half that, so I might go that route. But if not, I'll be writing about Google Fi in a future post. But, I'm planning on dropping my paid FreedomPop service. Funny enough, I still have a free FreedomPop service. I ended up ordering two FreedomPop SIMs a while back, so I put one in my Moto e4 -- the one that's now a paid service -- and another -- the still free service -- in an old Samsung Galaxy S-something.

The downside of the free service is that if you don't use your phone every so often, they'll suspend service. No charge to restart it, but it is a pain. And you lose your number. So, there's that. I'm not faulting them for it. I mean, it's free, right? And if I kept the number and never used it, they'd be carrying it on the books and I'd just be tying up an otherwise useful number. So, that's not a complaint on my part, just a recognition of the facts.

So, after a year of FreedomPop, my thoughts? It's ... okay.

It runs on AT&T if you bring your own unlocked GSM phone (I did). If you use one of theirs, it's a Sprint CDMA phone. And Sprint doesn't have good service where I live. Neither does T-Mobile, for that matter. But I get good Verizon and AT&T service. So, the BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) option works for me. Oh, and they are all refurbished CDMA Sprint phones. There are some Samsung Galaxy S7 phones, and some Motorola Moto X phones, so there are some good phones, just no new phones.

If you have a good quality phone, there's never any reason to call customer service. I've never had to deal with customer service, but I've read some stories. But, from my experience, I have no experience. I chalk that up to having a good phone. Which is why I chose the BYOP option. I knew the quality of the phone going in. It was a good phone and everything worked. So, no customer service calls were necessary.

Let's see. What else? Oh, yeah. The apps. Using their VOIP service, you go through their own phone and text apps. You can't use the default apps on your Android (or iPhone; I tried that, too). Which is a pain to get used to. But, the stuff works most of the time. Yeah, I had a couple of times where I couldn't place a call or get a text. But, I've run into that with Verizon on an iPhone X. So, this is no worse than that. Not a deal-breaker.

So, bottom line. Would I recommend one? Maybe. If you want a cheap service and can put up with ads (the free one is ad-supported), and don't use much data, this is actually not a bad way to go. If you want all the bells and whistles, this ain't for you.

Whether or not I'll keep the paid service, I don't really know. I'm keeping the free just to have a backup. I've set an alert on my phone to remind me to place a call every so often, so I don't lose the number (again) with the free service.

But, if I do go drop the paid service and go elsewhere, it'll be something around the same price, and that works more like a standard cell phone service, with the default phone and text apps and everything.

I know you can hardly wait to find out what I'm gonna do.

And we'll close on that cliffhanger.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Washington's Birthday 2019

George Washington

Every year, I do this. Or something like this. I'm doing it again this year, because it matter. You know what today is, right?

If you said "Presidents Day," you need to be beat with a stick. With knots in it so it hurts really bad. And, if the stick breaks, another stick needs to be used. Until we're all out of sticks. Because you should know by now that it's not "Presidents Day."

Today is Washington's Birthday.

Now, I know, you know, we all know that George Washington's birthday is actually February 22nd. That's this coming Friday. But, there is a federal holiday called Washington's Birthday, and it's to honor George Washington. And the name of that holiday is ... Washington's Birthday.

So, why does everybody call it Presidents Day? Well, not everybody does. I don't. And, I hope, you don't either. But there are a lot of folks running around loose that call it Presidents Day. But that doesn't make it Presidents Day. It's still Washington's Birthday. And they're idiots.

This day is set aside to honor the first President of the United States, George Washington. He was instrumental in the founding of this nation, and if anyone deserves a holiday, it's him.

Washington's Birthday was the fifth national holiday established, after New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. It was one of the holidays picked for a Monday observance in 1971 when they started screwing around with federal holidays, and making some fall on a Monday. Along with Washington's Birthday, the holidays Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day were also moved to Mondays. The first four holidays and Veterans Day kept their regular days. And, the newest holiday, Birthday of Martin Luther King (that's the real name of that holiday by the way) is one of those Monday holidays.

If you want to be one of "those people" that are always correcting others for things ... you know, like I'm doing right now ... and you want a link to throw at people, use this link to United States Code 5 U.S.C. 6103.

Why am I like this about Washington's Birthday? That's the wrong question. The right question is: why aren't you?

George Washington has his own day. He shouldn't have to share it with Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, Millard Fillmore, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, or any of the others. And Americans need to recognize that. It's not often the government gets stuff right. This is one of those rare times. Don't let regular folks screw that up.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Artificially inflating my movie library

I've added 34 movies to my movie library without spending a dime. Only, I'm not sure if I should count those movies or not.

You see, I've been slowly but steadily building my movie library over time. When iTunes puts movies on sale, I'll buy them. iTunes is my main movie library. But, since I also have iTunes linked to MoviesAnywhere, that means movies from participating studios that I buy from Amazon, Fandango Now, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft Movies & TV, or VUDU will get added to all of those libraries. I have 566 movies (as of today) that are in my MoviesAnywhere library.

I have movies in the various services that are not shared via MoviesAnywhere, but I have purchases in multiple libraries. That's because I used to buy standard definition movies, but when HD versions of those movies are put on sale, I'll upgrade in iTunes, and have better versions at a cheap cost.

I have 18 Amazon movies that aren't in iTunes, along with four VUDU-only movies. But, when it comes to Google Play movies, it gets really complicated.

With Google Play, you can have family members share your library. Those shared movies are only available via Google Play or YouTube -- not via MoviesAnywhere -- for the other family members. Oh, and they can share back. And that's where it gets complicated.

Family members have together shared 34 movies via Google Play. Actually more, but I own copies of some of what they've shared. But there are 34 total movies shared that I don't otherwise have. But, they are available to me via Google Play, and I'm going to count them in my movie library. For now.

I'll watch them. Some I've already seen, such as Big Business, Straight Talk, and The Apple Dumpling Gang (don't judge me), but most I haven't. If I like them, I'll buy them, and officially own them. But, for now, I'm counting them in my library, since I can turn on the TV, launch my Roku (for Google Play or YouTube) or Apple TV (for YouTube) and watch those movies.

On the other hand, if a movie is on Hulu or HBO, should I count them? No. So, why am I counting these movies I don't own? Because I can. So, that's now 1,291 movies in my library, counting those 34.

Maybe I shouldn't count them. I need to think about that. But not right now. I think I'll just watch a movie instead. If I can find anything to watch.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What a stupid driver

I don't like stupid drivers. You don't either. You're there in traffic and somebody is doing something stupid -- or not doing anything when they should be doing something -- and you're thinking "What a stupid driver." Well, I ran into that the other day. And, it wasn't quite like anything I had ever encountered before.

I was in traffic. Not heavy traffic, but traffic nonetheless. There was a line of cars, and we were stopped at a red light. To my left was a lane of traffic going the same way.

I looked over to my left and noticed the driver was looking down towards her steering wheel. No, not to the steering wheel, but a little below the steering wheel. Not to her lap though. Bottom of the steering wheel. I couldn't see the phone in her hand, but you could tell. You could tell.

About that time, the brake lights on the car ahead of her went off, and the car ahead of her started to move. I watched her and she was still looking down. After a second or two, enough time for the car ahead of her to have moved a couple of car lengths, she glanced up and realized she was just sitting still in traffic with no one ahead of her. Only then did she move her car forward.

"What a stupid driver," I thought. I watched her for a second and just shook my head. I turned my head toward my passenger and was about to share my thoughts, when I saw I was receiving the most curious look. That's when I noticed traffic ahead out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head to look forward to confirm what I was seeing.

That's when I discovered that the car in front of my had moved several car lengths by now and I was now the one sitting still, holding up traffic.

That look from my passenger? It was quietly saying "What a stupid driver."