Being present

Last Friday night my wife and I had a rare occasion where she was off at night and the next morning. Typically as a theater manager her weekends are shot. Having a night off meant one thing: date night. We don’t get too many of those these days. Must be reaching that age.

We dropped the kids with grandma and grandpa and assumed they were going to be spoiled with candy and toys. We’d be back the next day to pick them up. Having zero plans we decided dinner was best. It was early on a Friday, perhaps around 6:30 pm but being December it was already dark and cold as hell.

Rolling towards downtown Cincy we chose the Moerline Lager House for dinner. I can’t recall the last time we ate there but it has been quite a while. We were seated immediately and the place was maybe half full. To my annoyance there was a table right next to us with a super loud kid.

I have kids, I understand that you can’t truly control them when they are little and in high chairs. However, having said that, this kid was screaming and throwing things since no one was paying attention to him. His mother (I am assuming) was with her friend and they were comparing instagram photos or some thing on their phones. The whole time this kid just threw a loud tantrum and at one point even nearly hit me with a flying toy. My wife asked me “aren’t you going to give him his toy back?” to which I replied NO since he obviously didn’t want the toy that struck my foot 5 feet from him.

So we settle in and order our food. I made a super conscious choice to leave my phone in my pocket so I could spend time with my wife. She chose to check Facebook and keep showing me updates on something happening at her work. It made me a little sad but I chose not to pester her about it. It gave me time to crowd watch, beyond the little brat to my right.

All around me were people sitting at tables within sight, and if they were not eating, everyone had their faces in their phones. It was quite a realization the extent of the problem. I totally admit that I have a problem not goofing on my phone too. But it was sobering to see it in that moment. All this potential for humans to talk and catch up, and instead a see of cell phone screens.

I quietly munched on the appetizer of a trio of dips like hummus and artichoke. It was wonderful. After that I had a “totally not good for you” burger. I swear three animals went into making this burger. I don’t care. Every now and then you just gotta eat an unhealthy meal ha ha.

Afterwards we didn’t know what to do with our earned freedom and ended up just going home for some tv time on the couch with a blanket. Pretty low key night all and all.

I am at least happy I didn’t give in to the temptation of my phone at dinner. Yay me.

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The hardest part of a new project is just starting

I noticed at work the other day that the hardest part of a new project was just getting started. I am not talking about assigned work, or daily general tasks, but real long term complicated projects. In reflection I can see parallels to my personal life too. Every time I sit and think of a new project that delay at the beginning is the hardest thing to overcome.

Surely some planning is always a decent idea, but sometimes in life, very much like a cold swimming pool the best method is feet first and sudden. Just get it over with and put some progress on the board.

Food for thought on a Tuesday morning.

VCR borrowed and returned!

This is a continuation to the previous blog post where I was trying to find a VCR.   Enjoy:

In an amazing plot twist, my father in law found out I was looking for a VCR through my wife and he showed up at my door with one. Not only did he bring a VCR over, but he also had a good old fashion VHS Tape Cleaner kit too!  I can’t make this up.

I dug out all my VHS tapes this weekend and waded into the project. At first I thought I was going to spend 10+ hours capturing video off tapes but after some gentle scrubbing though the footage it only ended up being about 1.5 hours of actual stuff I wanted to save.

I relived some of my high school days, watching some old marching band performances, English class projects where we recreated an entire episode of Cops, and even found footage of my garage band. Man did we suck, but we had fun and that’s all that counts.

I captured everything easily enough into my pc using this $8 device I bought off Amazon.  I am glad I read the reviews and saw that someone commented “When you get this device, first thing: throw the CD away that has software on it, then use any free screen capture software. I loaded up OBS, which is free software. After adding the device as a video capture card (literally no driver or configuration needed) it loaded perfectly and I was recording VHS inputs in less than a minute of effort. It honestly took me longer to plug the VCR in than it did to setup the software.

I only had about 8 tapes to copy.  I made it through the pile easily and even chopped the video into short segments. Now I need to archive them and make a backup before I get rid of the VHS tapes.   Part of me thought of keeping them just because they were on a Blockbuster tape, but nostalgia aside it is now a useless item.

Moving on in this project I also found a Mini DV tape which my brother brought over his old camera. Ironically after all the effort to find a Mini DV player, the entire tape was useless stuff so it was a bust. Oh well, can’t save them all Hasselhoff.

I am returning the VCR this week.  I will have to buy him a 6 pack of his favorite beer for bringing it over.  Pay it forward peeps.