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The second episode of The Orville aired tonight. Gretchen and I watched it in almost-real-time, since it had been delayed by the football game.

It was good. It was actually good enough that Gretchen is now worried about the fate of the series, because she thinks that there is not enough audience that will be able to figure out what it is trying to be.

It's sort of like it's trying to be funnier than, say, Castle, but not as over-the-top as Quark.

And it's not any sillier in the important plot points than Star Trek: TOS.

I'm encouraged.

I'm also encouraged that FOX hasn't thrown it up against the future Big Bang Theory Thursday night time slot to die.

We'll see.
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Gretchen and I watched the pilot for The Orville last night. It was interesting. I'm not yet sure it is viable, but I could have said the same after the first episode of The Big Bang Theory.

Obviously, the series owes a major debt to Star Trek. Listening to the musical soundtrack was really interesting as I was going "Ok, there's the Enterprise theme turned inside out. Hey, here are the enemy stormtroopers and we're getting that theme from Star Wars turned inside out." ("Turned inside out" is my technical shorthand for "Let's write something that sounds like the original without actually being the original." It's a handy recipe for a pastiche.)

Of course, the whole series is a pastiche. And that may be ok. I'm familiar with many of the actors in the ensemble and overall it's a strong group. If the writers figure out how to write for them, it could be pretty good. If not, well, science fiction on Fox. What did you expect?

Gretchen observes that there's a raunchy edge to the humor that may keep parents from letting their younger kids (and quite possibly their older kids) from watching it. That won't likely be good for ratings.

And the show is playing fair with the viewers. Was there anyone watching the episode who didn't go, "Oh, look! The Captain has a pocketful of redwood trees."? It was like finding a gun and a bust of Chekhov on the mantel. Given the debt to Star Trek, I guess a bust of Mr. Chekov would have been most appropriate...

We'll see what they decide to grow up to be.
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I have folks who read my blog who are way behind on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD through no fault of their own. Thus, a lengthy preamble and a cut-tag to hide away the spoilers that follow.

Yes, really. Spoilers. If you care, don't click through.

Ok, that should be enough space. :)

Spoilers inside... )
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Before lunch, Katie and I went out in the backyard and cleaned up the ruins of the chair cushion that Ruby had shredded. The yard looks much better as a result.

The first thing to do after lunch was to pop the bad board off of the front gate, replace it with a new one from the garage, and chop it off with the fake Sawzall. Then I cut the piece of PVC pipe to the right length to make Pearl's staff for Katie's Halloween costume, as long as the Sawzall was out. Then I headed upstairs and went to work restoring Katie's computer, which had developed a distinct case of misbehavior, probably due to Katie having forcibly powered it down in the middle of Yet Another Windows 10 Update. This took hours, but the room has a TV, so I got to watch the Nats beat the Dodgers (Yay!), then a couple of archived episodes of New Girl while this was going on.

Later in the evening, Gretchen and I watched an episode of the new MacGyver (episode two, still not growing on us. Gretchen thinks the problem is with the fellow playing MacGyver who is -- in my opinion -- very good looking, but completely without chemistry with the rest of the cast or audience.). Then we watched the latest episode of The Good Place, which Gretchen initially hated until she found out it was a rather more complex series than she'd believed. (I was happy to discover that too.) And -- note for [ profile] catalana! -- it's not often you see a discussion of utilitarianism on a sitcom. :)

Finally, I flipped over and caught the final inning of the Blue Jays / Rangers series. The Blue Jays have won now with our support, so we are expecting the same from [ profile] hofdave as tomorrow night's Cubs / Giants game and Madison Bumgarner are looming on the other side of a good night's sleep.
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Gretchen and I finished off the first season of this show tonight. We rather liked it and are looking forward to next season.

Although after the final scene aired, Gretchen turned to me and said, "So you're taking me out for a beer and explaining what just happened, right?"
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As was most likely, we did not win the $500 million dollar Powerball jackpot tonight. Ah, well.

The Christmas tree was undecorated tonight and taken to the curb for recycling. It was a lovely tree.

The DLP TV that I repaired yesterday promptly booted up with only the green LED this morning. Happily, it regained its senses after being turned off and back on, but it is clearly approaching the end of the line. With luck, it will hold out long enough to justify yesterday's repair. :)

Gretchen has unpacked two "medium" boxes from the garage in the last two days. At this rate, she will get the van back in the garage much later than she would prefer, but before the End of Eternity. The problem is that the windshield is starting to frost up in the mornings, which makes getting Katie and Julie to school just a little more challenging. This pretty much underscores how warm December was. January is about to be much less cooperative.

There is a mystery bug at work that I need to test, but that requires me to be able to connect to an Oracle database. This would be easier if our Java code would actually load the oracle.jdbc.OracleDriver class from what appears to be the appropriate JAR file that I've added to the classpath for the application. But it doesn't. Nor has Google yielded any answers. However, swearing has occurred.

The last of our lovely post-Christmas dinner beef brisket was turned into barbecue and consumed tonight for dinner. We got four meals out of it, including one with company for dinner, so I'm going to count that as a success.

After a long, long layoff that started with our summer renovations, I finally got back on the exercycle this week. I've managed it two mornings out of three so far, which is not as good as I would hope, but much better than it has been. And I am back reading Time from 2006 which -- as it turns out -- reminds me of exactly how lousy everyone's forecasts for 2026 are likely to be.

And that's the news.
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I have triumphed over obsolete technology.

My Samsung DLP set was succumbing to "white dot disease" as pixels on the DLP chip became stuck. Some were permanently on, others blinked annoyingly.

Well, annoyingly to me anyway. Gretchen said they were hardly noticeable. But they'd multiplied to 17 or more bad pixels and I was pretty annoyed.

I discovered that you could get a replacement chip for a bit less than $200, which seemed worth trying, since I really wasn't anxious to replace the set, which was otherwise pretty satisfactory. (Although Gretchen told me after I ordered the new chip that there were signs of possible failure in the LED light engine, which would require still more surgery, if that's the actual problem, and which would start to make the old set look less and less viable. This was especially true after I saw a Samsung UHD set for sale over at Sam's Club for $800 for roughly the same size screen. But $200 is still less than $800.)

So, electronics surgery was in order, the replacement DLP chip having arrived.

Dear God, this TV is full of dust! (Which probably has something to do with lovely heat-related failures.) I pulled out the tray that contained the DLP processor board and the light engine and carried them off to the office to work on them. Many, many screws and connectors later, I finally extracted the failing chip and replaced it with a new one. I had bought an installation kit for the chip which included a thermal pad for the heat sink. I took one look at the inadequate appearing pad and went down to the basement and retrieved the syringe containing the last of the Arctic Silver compound that I'd bought a while ago when working on the computer.

Having reassembled (and dusted out) the DLP side of the assembly, I pulled off the cover for the light engine and proceeded to clean out the dust-clogged heat sinks on that side. And then I put it back together and carried it back to install in the TV. I plugged the TV in and--

No picture.

*grumble* *grumble*

Power the beast down, unplug the set, sit down behind it again, and find the conspicuously dangling inner cable that connects two sections of the TV together. I'm not sure what it connects, but the rules say that you have to reconnect everything that you disconnect.

So I did. And I powered up the TV again.

And I was rewarded with a fine, no stuck pixels view of the season premiere of "New Girl".

I buttoned up the back of the set, pushed it back against the wall, and am now hoping that no other components decide to fail for a while. :)

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So we're into summer and it's time for alternative viewing. Some of this has been killing off episodes of series that were recorded earlier in the year; some has been summer series of one sort or another.

Under The Dome is back. I'm still watching it. Gretchen has given up on it, declaring it too claustrophobic for her tastes. The stupidity is still thick on the ground here, but we're moving toward a resolution.

Extant has been dropped -- actually, not even started up again after last season. If anything interesting is happening there, you all can let us know. :)

Halt and Catch Fire is a series that we're watching with a sort of fascination that you have for an impending train wreck. I remember 1985. I may remember it better than the writers. I do know that we had been running chat rooms on PLATO in the late 1970s, so I am less than impressed with this innovation. Of course, PLATO was always ahead of its time...

Hot In Cleveland was stacked up waiting for us to watch it. It was a lot of fun. We're going to have to see if they continue re-running older episodes that we've never watched, as we watched really irregularly before this year.

The Good Witch is a Hallmark series starring Catherine Bell (who we met on JAG). It's good light viewing. We're digging through the old movies, many of which were just rerun this last week.

Forever was a series that we recorded but never got around to watching before it was canceled. We're enjoying it quite a bit, so we're sad that it didn't make it. I commented to Gretchen that it was a series ideally designed to appeal to viewers of Castle and Elementary. Sadly, it appears that the Venn diagram intersection of those two sets wasn't nearly big enough, but we're in it.

And that's what's on the TV around here when the little girls aren't watching it.

So what are you watching?
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I had not expected to be on TV tonight when I headed down to Wrigley Field with one of my baseball buddies. But the Black Hawks were playing a vital game 6 tonight and my buddy's cousin was at the game with some of his friends who decided to head over to one of the local bars to watch the rest of the hockey game, leaving us their tickets to use.

In the third row, directly behind home plate.

So if you take a look at the highlights of tonight's Cubs game (which were largely Nationals highlights), you may see a large fellow in a blue shirt who looks just a wee bit familiar sitting behind home plate.

Well, that was cool. :)
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I don't usually watch a whole episode of Dancing With the Stars with [ profile] daisy_knotwise. But it was Disney Night tonight, with everyone dancing to songs from Disney musicals and that's always just a little bit crazy. And it was again tonight.

Our favorite was the Paso Doble with Captain Jack Sparrow as played by Riker Lynch. :)
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So here we are in a new TV season and the question around here is what to watch. This is where we're at so far this season.

Holdover Shows We Are Essentially Caught Up On

  • Castle -- well, of course we're caught up on this show. And it's been interesting.
  • Once Upon a Time -- essentially up to date, as we'll watch the second half of the two-parter tonight. We're only behind because of Windycon last weekend.
  • Hawaii Five-O -- caught up on our good mindless entertainment. Wondering where Grace has disappeared to. Realizing that Catherine is much easier on the eyes than Jerry.
  • CSI -- one episode behind due to Windycon again. The show was massively improved when Ted Danson joined the cast a few seasons back.
  • Elementary -- will watch tonight's episode over the weekend. It just started, so being caught up is easy.
  • The Big Bang Theory -- caught up. Wondering if Howard's mother will die on the show as she (sadly) just did in real life.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- caught up. This is making Gretchen a bit crazy, because of the level of conspiracy involved, but I think that's starting to clear up lately. The comics fan in me is enjoying this a lot.

    Holdover Shows That We Are Behind On
  • Sleepy Hollow -- not started. Gretchen's quota of conspiracy theory is currently overfilled by S.H.I.E.L.D. :)
  • Mom -- barely started. The problem is that this is a half-hour sitcom that we will not watch where the girls can see it, so it tends to drift to the bottom of the list.
  • Mike & Molly -- starts December 8th, so I guess we're caught up in the sense that none have been shown.
  • New Girl -- still haven't finished last season. The problem is that Gretchen isn't that fond of the show, so I only watch it sporadically when she's busy with something else.

    New Shows That We Are More Or Less Caught Up On
  • NCIS: New Orleans -- this is the prize of the new season in dramas. It's a very relaxed show in its own way, with an engaging cast headed by old favorite, Scott Bakula. This is a procedural show that we actually feel safe about watching when the girls might walk into the room.
  • A to Z -- we like this show a lot. One of the two leads is Cristin Milioti, a refugee from How I Met Your Mother. This is a lovely romantic comedy that took a few episodes to find its way. It is also a dead show walking, because the order is for 13 episodes and the chances for renewal are essentially nil at this point. Watch it anyway.
  • Selfie -- we were dubious about this show after the opener, but decided to give it a few more episodes as we continued the hunt for a new romantic comedy. It improved a lot. Sadly, it's deader than A to Z as ABC has pulled it off the schedule and has no known plans to show the other episodes that were filmed. That's a shame.

    New Shows That We Are Way Behind On
  • Scorpion -- this show has been savaged by my tech savvy friends, for good reasons. It appears to be doing ok in the ratings, so it will probably hang around. We will probably watch it when we have run out of everything else to watch. It is, at least, marginally safe to watch if the girls might walk in.
  • The Mysteries of Laura -- Gretchen watched an episode and dragged me in, describing it as Castle if Beckett were the comedic lead. That's not a bad description and it's a reasonably funny little dramedy. I keep expecting it to be canceled, because, well, NBC.
  • Forever -- we're collecting this for later viewing. The reviews are good and it's been picked up for a full season, so I expect we'll eventually watch it.

    That's the news around here in a reasonably spoiler-free fashion.

    What are you watching?
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    We watched NCIS: New Orleans last night. I've never really been a fan of either of the other two incarnations of NCIS, but this one could grow on me. Although original NCIS creator, Donald Bellisario, isn't apparently involved with the show, it features two veterans of earlier Bellisario shows: Scott Bakula, from Quantum Leap, and Zoe McLellan, from JAG. And it feels like a comfortable old shoe.

    With luck, this one will hang around for a while.
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    And season two of Under the Dome wrapped on Monday. As you might expect, there will be spoilers under the cut tag.
    No, really, spoilers... )
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    Season 7 of Castle will start next week, so it is about time I got around to my speculations about the season opener. Of necessity, this will contain spoilers for season 6, so I'm cut-tagging this, since I know that at least one person who reads my friends list gets their new seasons of TV shows via DVD -- which, in this case, came out last week.
    Spoilers inside... )
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    According to reports, Robin Williams committed suicide.


    I hope there's a DVD release of his cancelled TV series, The Crazy Ones, because I'll want to pick it up now.
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    I headed off for Wrigley Field this afternoon for a Cubs / Cards game with an old friend from work, my baseball buddy, Bob, and his wife, Diane. The friend from work was a Sox fan, which kept the count of rooters for each team in the four seats tied. :)

    The game went well for the Cardinals who won 6-3. And the game included Trevor Rosenthal doing a Mitch Williams impression, so there was something there for long-time Cubs fans as well...

    I met [ profile] daisy_knotwise, Katie, and Julie for pizza at Perry's in Park Ridge, which is the pizzeria of her youth in nearby far northwest Chicago. The pizza was delicious.

    When we got home, Katie found that the Phineas and Ferb Star Wars special had recorded, so we had to watch that. It was a stitch.

    And for those of you who are worried, it's completely out of canon. Every canon.

    Or maybe it happens on Earth-616.5...
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    After lunch, I left Gretchen to assemble the rest of the mailbox while I ran to Sam's Club to pick up things that we needed, including a chuck roast for dinner. By the time I got back, the temperature had dropped some twenty degrees from when we'd originally left for lunch and the skies had turned threatening, so finishing up the mailbox had moved extremely high on our list of things to do.

    I removed the side rails from the mailbox, following the instructions. Then I started installing the mailbox without the rails, since it didn't look like the holes lined up, so the rails would have to cover the screws and be pinned back on with the plastic spacers it had come with. But Gretchen picked up the rail and determined that the holes did align with the two screws I'd put in, so I took the screws back out and put the rail on with the plastic screw cover / washer.

    And then I discovered that the short screws that came with the post were much too short, because the mailbox was way off center.

    OK. There were longer screws. I'd use them. So I pulled out the screws that I'd already installed and switched to the longer ones. And I got one side in.

    And then I discovered that the long screws weren't quite long enough when used with the plastic screw cover / washer combo which was just this much thicker than a metal washer.

    Mutter, mutter, mutter.

    I stuck a screw and nut in a pocket and headed back to Home Depot, making this officially a seven-tripper (or six, if you're being kind). I pulled out the screw to measure it against the provided template.

    And I dropped the screw.

    Somewhere. I looked in the bins of parts below and didn't find it. Maybe it had rolled under the display. Maybe it was buried somewhere. In any case, it was clear that I wasn't going to find it.

    Well, I still had the nut, which I used to determine that I needed a 10-24 machine screw. Now if I only knew how long a screw I needed. I was pretty sure that a two inch screw was longer than the one that I had used, but I really didn't want to turn this into an eight-tripper, so I called home and asked Gretchen to measure one of the screws that remained at home. It was 1.5 inches, so a two inch screw should work nicely.

    I bought an extra two-pack of screws and a pack of four nuts, because I was tired of dropping things and having to find them.

    Then I headed off to the garden section.

    See, when I'd put the post in, the concrete was a couple of inches below the level of the old ground, while the base of the square post was about an inch above the old ground level. I'd suggested to Gretchen that we could build things up and plant flowers later, which she thought was a fine idea -- but not today, as we're expecting another freeze this week.

    But if I picked up some edgers, I could build a border around this mess, build up the topsoil, and declare victory. So five round edgers, one longer curved edger, and two bags of topsoil later, I finally checked out and loaded up the trunk.

    With the longer screws, things went together nicely. Gretchen applied the numbers to the front of the box and then went inside to work on the dress for Katie's school play this week, while I cut out a bit more of the turf, placed the edgers, and dumped in the two bags of topsoil in the light, but persistent rain.

    The topsoil still needs to be tilled out, but that can be done when it's dry.

    Except for planting the flowers, this renovation is over.



    Mar. 31st, 2014 11:44 pm
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    How I Met Your Mother ended tonight after nine seasons.

    I am satisfied.

    (Some of the folks who read my LJ are a season behind, so be kind about spoilers, ok? :) )

    RIP: Camel

    Dec. 19th, 2013 11:49 pm
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    The Camel was the first HDTV that we owned, acquired back in December 2002 for a substantial sum of money. It was called the Camel, because I had bought a new TV stand to replace our old, ugly TV stand, having heard [ profile] daisy_knotwise say "Our TV stand is ugly." Gretchen continues to maintain that what she actually said was "These entertainment centers are nice." The truth of the matter is lost to history. :)

    But the new TV stand, made of real wood instead of black particle board and quite attractive, was quite large. Large enough that it made our 31 inch tube TV look petite. Large enough that Gretchen immediately referred to it as the Camel's Nose that had now penetrated our family room and would surely be followed by one Camel of an HDTV.

    Of course, I had no intention of buying an HDTV, because there wasn't enough HD source material yet and burn in was a problem.

    Except on the lovely DLP set that I saw at Tweeter when I was out Christmas shopping for Gretchen.

    (Stop laughing! I was out Christmas shopping for Gretchen. I merely stopped at Tweeter on the way home.)

    And then I dragged Gretchen to the store to see it and then it came home with us.

    It turned out to have been fortunate that I'd bought the extended warranty, because the light engine failed after about two years and would have cost a small fortune to replace, since it was most of the guts of the TV. But other than that, it performed admirably as it became progressively more obsolete. Although it didn't have an HDMI input, a DVI to HDMI cable was sufficient to get the signal out of our DirecTV box in HD and that alone cured most of my latter-year frustrations with it.

    Eventually, it was replaced with a larger, cheaper DLP set with an LED-based light engine and migrated up to our bedroom where it was watched nightly by us and our little girls.

    But the set has now started freezing up, showing a picture that looks like a black and white posterized image of the last moving picture on the screen as the dialog continues to pour out of the speakers. A reboot fixes it, but it is not long for this world without repairs that I'm not really up for trying to do.

    So the Camel is being passed along to a good home where it will either be resurrected by better hands than mine or stripped down for parts.

    The DLP set from the family room will move up to our bedroom, as it will shortly be replaced in the family room by a larger, cheaper plasma screen.

    Eleven years isn't too bad. :)
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    After three straight wins in the MLB All-Star game, the NL had apparently used up their allotment of hits and runs, losing tonight to the AL by the score of 3-0.

    As far as the broadcast goes, if any more stunting was going on, they would have had to have Cirque du Soleil...


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