Pumpkin Totem 2009

We carved our Halloween pumpkins this weekend–between my installs of Windows 7. We did one for each of us–small, medium and large–but we’re still fighting over who’s is who’s. Sandy had to work, so Kevin and I worked together to do the gutting and carving. I carved the main details, then Kevin took over and cleaned up the finer details. When they were done we stacked them in a totem and added the mini pumpkin on top that Kevin got at the Vista Fall Fest (after we drew a face on it). Since the mini pumpkin wasn’t carved, Kevin held a flashlight to it as I snapped the photos in the dark. Check out the photos! (Please excuse the highly overexposed one… I was just playing). Make sure you compare them to our 2003 and our 2004 totems… Which one do you think is the best?

A Windows 7 Family

I spent the weekend installing Windows 7 on all 3 of our PCs at home. I went with the “Family Pack” of Windows 7 Home Premium for $149. That’s an awesome price for 3 copies of Windows! It took me a while to find one in Kenosha, because everyone else was sold out, but OfficeMax had a few left Friday evening. A single license for Home costs about $109-$119. Each install took less than an hour. You can do a clean install using the upgrade version with no prompting for any type of proof that you own a previous version. I had been running Windows 7 RC on two our PCs for a few months, and there was no pre-purchased version of Windows installed on these PCs. For the clean install, it automatically takes your entire previous Windows installation and moves it into a folder called “Windows.old”, and Microsoft wisely recommends a fresh install and not an actual upgrade from your current installation. This results in a much cleaner, faster-running, and fully functional installation without carrying over any existing problems from your previous installation of an older operating system or having any compatibility issues. There are several differences between Home and Professional, but none of them were worth the extra price for me. The main piece not in Home Premium is the “Windows XP Mode” (which is a virtual XP machine that runs inside Windows 7) This would probably be the only feature in Pro that I would ever use, but I’d still probably very rarely use it, so I’ll go without. Windows 7 is much faster and much less buggy than Vista, requires fewer system resources and can even give you back 30-35% extra battery time on laptops! So far it’s running great, though it’s only been a few days since I installed it. I did use the Windows 7 Release Candidate version for 3 months prior to this though, and even that has run great for me. If it hadn’t, I would have hesitated a while longer before taking the plunge””maybe until the first service pack is released, like a lot of other people (and businesses) do. I am seeing a lot of little changes (and fixes) in the final version that I was concerned with in the Release Candidate, so it’s looking really well polished. Oh, and I also dumped AVG Free and went with using Microsoft Security Essentials, which is Microsoft’s new free Antivirus and Antispyware package, so we’ll see how that goes as well. It’s so nice to be able to spend just $50 per PC to bring it up to date and not have any monthly or annual additional fees to worry about!

Troha’s Yard…Scary as HELL! … Literally!

On Wayne’s advice, we stopped by the Troha house tonight with Kevin and took a gander. As I said in the shoutbox earliier, “Holy Crap!” It’s at 1709 32nd Avenue, and if you’re into the whole Halloween thing, this is really a treasure! I just didn’t want to leave. There’s just so much to see, such vivid detail, gore, blood & guts… Kevin was pretty nervouse about the whole thing, and never got too close to anything, afraid of what might happen. There was a guy in a cage, strapped into an electric chair with his head slumped down–obviously his sentence had already been carried out–and I’m sorry I missed it. I have a feeling this particular display has more life to it at other times. I’m going to stop by on Halloween during trick-or-treat hours just to see it all again, and hopefully see a bit more activity this time. I would so love to volunteer to be a zombie for an evening at this place! There are a lot of ways to really scare people with a setup this elaborate… I could blend in great with a good costume and makeup and “play dead” until just the right times. I fancy myself a pretty good “Boomer” from Left 4 Dead, if you’re familiar with that awesome game. Wayne took some great pictures the other day, check them out. I also took a bunch more, along with some great closeups, so take a look at those too, you’ll see what I mean.

Vista Fall Fest and Jade’s 8th Birthday

We went to Vista’s Fall Fest today at Vista Surgery Center and had a lot of fun. Kevin wore his Freddy Krueger costume for the first time, and he was pretty excited about it. The photos are part of our growing “Halloween 2009” collection. Jade (Debbie’s granddaughter) also had her 8th birthday party today, so Debbie sent us the photos and I posted those as well. Click on the thumbnails or any of the links to view the images.

Halloween Season Begins

The Halloween festivities have begun. Last weekend we shopped for Kevin’s costume. We found a great store too–a giant pumpkin in the Regency Mall parking lot. Tons of great Halloween decorations, costumes, and goodies! It was a blast. We stayed for quite awhile just to check everything out. Kevin was set on a Halo 3 Master Chief costume that we had ordered from Amazon earlier in the month, which said “IN STOCK” when we ordered, but our order was cancelled a couple days later saying that they were out of stock. But at the giant pumpkin store we found the exact same costume–and it was the exact same size as the one we ordered–Adult Extra Small. Good thing we DIDN’T get it mail order though–the giant pumpkin store has a “no refunds” policy, but they let you try on the costumes first. So Kevin tried on the Master Chief costume… The crotch plate alone rested on the floor! It sure was HUGE for being an “extra small”. That was the only size they had, so we gave up on it. He soon found his second choice though–the same costume he wanted to wear last year, if we had been unable to get a decent soldier costume in his size–Freddy Krueger. We have everything we need except the hat at the moment, and everything fits him nicely. Looks pretty scary. As a preview, click on the Freddy thumbnail and take a look at a collection of the best and worst Freddies we found on Flickr. It’s an interesting gallery I put together. You can’t add your own photos to a gallery you create on Flickr though–since “galleries” are for showcasing your favorite photos from other people–so you won’t find Kevin in that collection, but he’ll be added to the “Kevin’s Costumes” and “Halloween 2009” sets soon though. We also visited Jerry Smith’s Pumpkin Farm last weekend. We picked out a trio of pumpkins to carve this year, and maybe I’ll even try to assemble a new pumpkin totem this year. We’ll see what happens.

Kevin’s Halloween Costumes

At just over 18,000 photos, I’m finally done moving to Flickr. What a relief! One of the nice things about Flickr is how you can use any of your photos in multiple sets easily, allowing you to create custom groups of photos with things in common. So here’s my first set. This is “Kevin’s Costumes” – A photo of every Halloween costume Kevin has worn, from when he first went trick-or-treating at 2 years old (in 2000) right up to last year. Click on the thumbnail and take a look.