Misc blog postings

Misc Postings

Earliest: July 28, 2003Latest: May 13, 2018Total: 109

February 6, 2016

VHS care information

I found this "VHS care information" file while looking through some old CDs from the late 1990's.

Here are some tips, from Kodak, on how to best take care of your video tapes. I have a large VHS tape collection and I haven?t followed any of these instructions. The tapes seem to be fine after 20+ years...


  • Always put your cassette back in its protective sleeve when not in use. Dust and dirt will damage your tape and contaminate your VCR or camcorder.
  • Don't store your tapes near strong magnetic fields (near your power panel or high current users like electric dryers or stoves, air conditioners, or stereo speakers, etc.) The recorded information could be erased over time if you do.
  • Don't store your tapes in areas of high humidity (basements). This environment provides the condition that allow mold and mildew to grow and will damage tapes and sleeves. Storing tapes at 70 degrees F (40-percent RH or lower) can keep them healthy for 30 years or more.
  • Don't leave cassettes in direct sunlight. The sun can heat a black shell to well above the temperature necessary to permanently warp the shell.
  • tapeCareSubBanner.gif
  • Take proper care of your VCR and camcorder. See that it gets cleaned and lubricated to keep it in top condition. Video heads only need to be cleaned if there is a degradation in video signal, but the tape path and capstan pinch roller need cleaning more frequently especially in dusty environments or in situations where tapes have been left out without their protective sleeves. A dirty tape path can cause physical damage to the tape especially the rubber pinch roller. When it gets dirty and/or dried out, it will not drive the tape correctly. Instead it will cause the tape to wander up or down, damaging the edges of the tape against the guides. If you open the door of the cassette and see wrinkled upper or lower edges on the tape, it is almost certain to have been caused by a capstan pinch roller that needs to be either cleaned or replaced.
  • Rewind the tape before storing it. This keeps the beginning of the tape from being creased by the end of the leader or the clamp. The best position for storage is to stand the cassette on its end with the heavy end down. Don't lay them flat (especially upside down).
  • Don't use rewind equipment to rewind tapes after playing. Your VCR will do a much better and safer job rewinding that precious tape. VCR rewind mechanisms almost never fail because of over use; they fail because of time and elevated temperatures whether used or not.
  • Don't buy bargain, no-name tape. It has a bargain price for a reason. There is substantial risk that it will cause head clogs due to oxide shedding or contaminants. Stick with high-quality brand names.

January 30, 2016

Financial Decisions in the New Year

Shopping around is one of the most important aspects of being a budget conscious individual. In fact, without a budget, it's almost impossible to manage finances and maintain a positive backbone of cash in case of an emergency.

With the state of the economy as it is, planning for the future and saving funds today is one of the most important things that families strive to do. In fact, budgets in the past few years have been even more important than in past days.

There are plenty of ways that you can stick to your budget, and even help yourself to save a few dollars down the road.

Shop for different auto loans- Don't just assume your current auto loan is providing you with the best possible interest rate for your situation. Perhaps your credit score has jumped since you entered into the loan, qualifying yourself for a better rate on your monthly payment. Additionally, the same can be said for car insurance. One should never assume they have the best rate on car insurance prices.

Consider refinancing your mortgage- Interest rates on home loans have made several changes over the last few years. With the projection in 2016, it might be a good idea to consider contacting your lender, and refinancing your current mortgage. Interest rates are on the lower-end, which might help save you a few bucks each month from your old rate a few years ago.

Save money in other aspects- There are many other areas where we can save money- like reducing the number of times we eat dinner out per week or cutting back on our cable subscription. Do you use that ongoing satellite radio subscription as much as you anticipated? Think of areas of your life where you are paying for things that you can do away with, or eliminate. There are always a few that can be improved on.

As a general rule, it's important that we are educated and fully informed before we are faced with financial decisions that could impact the rest of our life. There are many financial decisions that mostly all of us must make each year, These decisions vary depending on our age and activities in which we engage in. Some may face decisions this year that include college enrollment, deciding on loan repayment plans, buying a first car or home, or planning for retirement. Regardless of your stage in life, you should always seek the correct resources that can help you make healthy decisions this year, with consideration of future implications that our decisions could affect.

January 24, 2016

Planet Gymnastics


This past weekend we hosted a kids 5th birthday party at Planet Gymnastics in Natick, Massachusetts.

The party organizers told us not to arrive until 15 minutes before the event to setup. This doesn't leave much time to get the room organized and greet people as they arrived.

Gym Time

First half hour was open Gym in the area by the entrance. This gave the kids a chance to run around and try various stations. It was also an opportunity for those that came late to join in the fun.

Then they split the birthday group into two groups and played "Messy Backyard." This group game is where you had to throw soft bricks over a short wall on the other teams. You have 2 minutes to clean your area. Whichever team had the fewest blocks won. It was fun seeing different kids playing together.

After the group game the kids sat around the foam block pit to watch Juliana zip line into a foam block pit. The kids had fun yelling her name as she rode down to the foam pit.

After the zip line game, they open up the second half of the gym for more fun exercises. This part of the gym had a tumble track area, uneven bars, balance beams at various heights and a wall climb area.

After about 15 minutes of play, it was time to leave the gym and go into the party room for snacks and cupcakes. They left the gym singing a Happy Birthday song and clapping.

The Party Room

This is where Planet Gymnastics didn't meet expectations. We told them that we were having at least 33 kids. The table setup was very cramped. We ended up having 38 kids show up, many more people show up than expected.

The staff at Planet Gymnastics had to bring in some extra chairs, however, some of the kids had to sit on the floor.

The Planet Gymnastics in Natick has two party rooms, and despite knowing that we had a large party, they stuck us in the smaller party room.

We actually brought hoodsie-cups ice cream, but it was never served. In fact, we didn't even think about it until we got home. Next time we should put together a "At the Party" checklist, so that we won't forget this.

We were happy that the staff at Planet Gymnastics helped out with the setup and tear down of the party. They were able to get everything done before the first guest arrived.

We were supposed to get a call a week before the event to confirm everything, that call never happened. We called a couple of days before to let them know how many people we expected to show up.

Overall Assessment

Planet Gymnastics was a fun place to have a party, all the kids enjoyed running around and trying the new equipment. We wished we had a better party room experience but it didn't ruin the day for anyone as there was plenty of snacks and cupcakes to go around.

Tip for Parents Attending Parties

Parents should always RSVP to a party invite. You should ask if siblings can attend. You can use the opportunity to ask for gift ideas.

When you do bring your gift to the party, make sure to secure the card to the gift. This way people will know who brought what. You don't need to be fancy with a card, you can simply cut a piece of wrapping paper and attach it to the gift. Many gift bags have little labels on the handles where you can write your name. We ended up with several gifts that we have no idea who they were from.

If you have a gift receipt, make sure to tape it on the back of the card, so it doesn't get lost when the children open up the present.

January 23, 2016

Bath Games

Bath Games

"What's your game tonight?" that's what my then 4-year-old daughter ask me every night when she does tubby.

She asks me this because we usually play some sort of water game before it's time to do her hair and get out of the tubby. It's a fun time for her to play and for me to get splash at.

We usually play with the 'Disney Princess' and the 'Sophia the First' bath collection. They are the perfect bath toys since they allow her to line them up along the side of the tub and interact with each one.

We also have a large Arial bath toy that she commonly used as the swimming teacher or any time that a grownup is needed.

Here are some of the common games that we end up playing:

Swimming Class

Arial will be the swimming teacher and someone will be new to swimming. The other toys will try to help the new student swim. We usually do this so that she can show me what she learned in swimming class this week.


Someone will pretend to be the hospital lady, usually Cinderella, and will rush to help anyone that gets hurt. Usually, it involves a hospital stay and the friends will come and visit her. The hospital lady will tell them to be quiet since the patient is sleeping, however, they usually make a lot of noise that makes the hospital lady angry.


This game we see who can jump the highest. I throw each bath toy super high and she has to guess the highest one. Then we see who can make the biggest splash, she usually does a good job of getting the floor wet.

Birthday Party

I'll pick out a character and it's their birthday. We'll start with hiding all the toys, usually in the bubbles and yell surprise to the lucky birthday guest. After that, it's a pool birthday party and we have a brief swimming session and then we make a cake with bath bubbles.

Music Class

We'll get some of the water toys and try to make some music with them. We have some water whistles where we fill with some water and then blow in them to make some notes, the more water you put in the higher the note.


We have used a lot of other bath toys over the years, but I find that she had more fun playing with her Disney bath collections. Other toys may last a couple of weeks, but the princesses seem to be a winner for the long haul. So, if you are looking for bath gift for a three-year-old that will last a while, get the Princess Bath collection.

July 1, 2015

Daycare Drop Offs

Earlier this week I had the experience of watching 2 different parents drop off their children at a local preschool daycare. Both of these parents did the same thing, they said good bye to their child gave them a kiss and left. The whole drop off time was less than a minute. What surprised me was the teacher was watching and both families didn't even say hello to the teacher.

Come on!

Remember, this is the person that you are going to trust your child for the next eight hours and you can't even take a few seconds to say hello or good morning? That really surprised me.

I guess some people are caught up with their morning routines and in the work zone that they basically ignore what's going on around them. Perhaps this is just part of their morning task and they see no value to engaging with the teacher.

I try to engage with some conversation with the teachers when they are available to talk, and I have a very limited window during drop off. I actually get into daycare early just for that purpose, so that I don't feel the need to rush through. I need to rush because I literally have a train to catch.

My advice to the other parents is to engage in a quick conversation with the teacher and let them know that their work is very much appreciated. You could even mention that you really like the creative art work they been working on.

June 4, 2015

Jingle the Dog

A couple of years ago we got the "Jingle the Dog" book with the husky puppy toy. The husky would make noise based on some of the saying as you read the book. This is a list of all the known phrases the husky pup is awaiting for you to say:

  • And Jingle was a good dog.
  • That made Jingle very, very happy.
  • Jingle, you're a good dog!
  • Jingle even loved to sing.
  • Sorry, Jingle! I've gotta go home!
  • Silly dog! Jingle, you've gotta go home!
  • The very thought of finding his friends made Jingle want to sing
  • but suddenly Jingle felt very, very happy.
  • Jingle, you're such a good dog!
  • Jingle, Stay! And Jingle did.

I haven't found any other list of additional phrases that the Hallmark Jingle dog says. If you know of any hacks let me know!

September 9, 2014

Fish Trophy

Fish Trophy

If your using the Review Board for code reviews, you may notice that every once in a while someone will get a Fish Trophy, here's the explanation from the Review Board Blog:

It?s always nice to have a little reward for milestones. Developers sometimes compete over cool bug numbers, revisions, etc. Initially, we were going to use quips to add some fun to the site, but we ended up settling on our current trophy system.
One of our first Review Board instances started to approach review request #1000, which was a huge milestone for us. I decided to commemorate the event by staying up and quickly hacking in a hidden feature for showing a trophy for review request #1000. The way we implemented it, you?d see the first ever trophy at 1,000, and from there you?d see it at every milestone number (1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 10,000, etc.). I didn?t want to stop there, though, so I added support for a second type of trophy, one that has confused people with its appearance to this day. Mission complete.

October 31, 2013

On Halloween

Doc McStuffin 'On Halloween' song:

What'cha gonna be, 'on Halloween?
To go trick or treat, on Halloween...
Stuffy: You could be a fireman, a doctor, or a Ballerina.
Lambie: A robot or a bumblebee. Or a monster named Edwinna!
Doc: There's nothing really scary, its all just make-believe..
The ghost that just said Boo is still your best friend underneath-
So what'cha gonna be, on Halloween?
To go trick or treat, on Halloween.
What'cha gonna be, on Halloween?
To go trick or treat, on Halloween.

November 16, 2012

Stars Stars

From Doc McStuffins' Arcade Escapade (Season One, Episode 6), this is the first part of the catchy song...

Hey that a rocket
Hey there goes a comet
Ooo.. Looks like a party on the moon

Stars Stars Planet and Stars
I can see Jupiter, I can see Mars
Up there every where you see
Planet Stars and Galaxies

All those dots light in space are there places far away
Let go searching past the sun...

July 5, 2012

Send in the Cavalry

Send in the Cavalry

Couldn't believe that I wasn't able to find a graphic for 'Send in the Cavalry.' I quickly put this one together.