Cold Weather, Packers and Bears…oh my!

Well, we’re in the deep-freeze part of Winter here in Wisconsin, when we’re lucky if we see no temperature at all outside—a.k.a. “0 degrees”, and everyone debates the differences between “Wind chill” and “Feels Like” calculations.  The Kenosha Unified School District has a strict policy of closing schools when “Either -20 degrees Fahrenheit sustained temperature or -34 degrees below zero or lower Fahrenheit sustained wind-chill,” so there’s something to look forward to.

Socks got stuck in the backyard the other day.  He ran out to the back fence to argue with the neighbor’s dog, and when I checked on him he was walking back to the house and halfway across the yard he started slowing down, slower and slower, then he stopped, looked up at me sadly and just whimpered.  I called him a few times and he couldn’t move.  I put on my shoes and went out there and carefully pulled his frozen feet from the icy snow, then carried him inside.  It only took him a few moments to recover though, and he was back to normal again.

Our forever-crumbling sidewalk around our house constantly fills with melted snow water when the temperature gets a little warmer in the daytime, then freezes to a solid, smooth surface at night, causing us a lot of problems with trying to walk across it, and worrying that someone (either us or a stranger walking by) will slip and fall, causing an injury.  We salt it daily too, but the salt washes away when it melts in the daytime.  We’ve sure spent our share of money on 10-lb. bags of salt, and have even had to use table salt as a last resort once in awhile.

At least both cars have started every time so far this season.  The colder it gets though, the more we long to make our move to Arizona.  It’s going to happen, we just haven’t set a date yet.  It’s like getting married.  There are so many things that have to be done first, so many plans to make, and it’s a real commitment.  Every winter and cold day brings us closer to it though.  It will not only be a lot warmer, but it will greatly improve our health and well-being.  It will also be a completely new chapter in our lives, so I’m already excited about it.Sackboy and the Packers-Bears Cookie

For now though, bring it on winter! Let’s see what you got! And Go Pack/Bears.  I’m on the fence.  I have family members on both sides of the fence for the Championship, but I’m not a football fan, so I’m neutral.  We’ll be watching the game Sunday, but what I’m looking forward to the most is Sandy’s snack menu–Mini Pigs in a Blanket, cocktail meatballs in barbeque sauce, cheese & sausage & crackers, ham-cream cheese-pickle rollups, a giant Packers-Bears cookie, and chicken wings!

Launcher Pro Plus

My Launcher Pro Plus Home Screen
My Launcher Pro Plus Home Screen

Here’s an app review for the Android.  It’s actually an interface aka “Launcher” for Android, so it’s not really an app I guess.  It’s LauncherPro Plus, by Federico Carnales.  The version I’m currently using for this review is 0.8.2.  LauncherPro is based on the standard Android Launcher interface, which is included with all Android phones, though most of them also include an alternate interface designed by the phone manufacturer or cellular carrier you have.  My phone is the HTC Desire from US Cellular, so it came with the HTC Sense launcher preinstalled and set as the default launcher.  The original Launcher app is always in there, but rarely is it set as the default when you get a new phone.

Anyway,  Launcher Pro is based on the original interface, and Launcher Pro Plus goes even further by adding a lot of nice features on top of that, basically creating a third level of enhancements.  Many of these enhancements are “HTC Sense-like” too, so if you like some elements of HTC Sense, but long for something better, this might just be the interface for you.  Basically, LauncherPro is like Launcher on steroids.  There are a ton of options behind the interface, including the ability to increase the number of home screens to 7, rearrange your screens easily, “pin” any screen as the default “home” screen, change scrolling speeds, customize your doc icons, etc. etc., most of which are available in the free LauncherPro version.  What “Plus” adds, however, are several features I really like, and am really addicted to now.

The vertical-scrolling app tray
The vertical-scrolling app tray

These include all of the fancy HTC-only widgets that were previously only available on phones with the HTC Sense interface.  Federico has basically copied the interface

and functionality of Sense’s widgets, enhanced them even more, and put them in “Plus”!  In addition to these, you also get many custom doc icons–several with the ability to display “counts” on them–which are round red balls with numbers in them.  These numbers alert you to the number of new G-mails you have, text messages, and/or missed calls you’ve received.  So at a glance you instantly know what’s waiting to be checked.

As do most other launchers, it also offers full support for themes–of which there are plenty to choose from in the Market–and the ability to backup all of your screens and settings at any time.  In addition, there are also some experimental and memory-intensive options which can further enhance (or degrade) your experience, depending on the model, memory and processor speed of your particular phone.  It’s great that these are all optional too, so you can choose exactly how you want your own phone to work.

Widget options
Widget options

Overall I’d have to say that I haven’t had any real issues with Launcher Pro Plus since installing it, and it hasn’t crashed for me at all.  Its speed is great, it’s very vast, and never lags unexpectedly.  It can slow down a bit when I’m doing a lot of multitasking ofmultiple apps, but that’s to be expected.  It certainly performs tons better than ADW Launcher, which I previously purchased and used before I found Launch Pro Plus.  ADW had some nice features as well, but it crashed frequently and was pretty sluggish most of the time, so I eventually gave up on it.  I really like Launcher Pro Plus, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to HTC Sense.

Kenosha House Explosion

12:00am – We were just getting into bed tonight, turned out the lights, then saw a bright flash in the window and the house shook with a BOOM! Turned on the scanner right away and at first they thought it was a transformer that exploded. A few minutes later they began getting calls of a house that exploded at 2115 55th Street. That was corrected shortly after to 2113 55th Street. And as the information kept coming in, it sounds like approximately 10 houses were heavily damaged as well as 2 commercial buildings, according to police. I heard one of the officers first on the scene say on the radio that “chance of anyone inside the house surviving, ZERO.” I’ll keep updating this post as I hear more.

12:04am – Mt. Carmel is open as a shelter right now for those forced from their homes. In the scanner chat, “User342767” says “Heard they left the stove on. If anyone was inside there’s no way they made it”.

12:09am – We Energies is on the scene now. People are also reporting heaving smell of gas at Johnny Midnight’s.

The very first early 911 calls that came in stated a house had exploded, half of it had collapsed, and a woman was trapped in a bedroom. No further information was given about that, and it quickly changed when they arrived on-scene stating the house was fully engulfed and totally destroyed, with no chance of anyone inside surviving. My guess is, the half-house that collapsed probably WAS the initial address–2115–because I doubt any calls ever came from the actual house that exploded.

12:29am – They’re reviewing the original calls now – first call was from 2113 55th Street, and said “a MOTHER was trapped in a bedroom.”

5510 23rd Ave – Large piece of plywood about 40 feet up in a tree – they’re concerned it may fall and injure someone.

12:41am – They’re reporting the media is now on-scene. They’re looking for a PIO.

Kenosha resident Michelle Pulera said she was sitting in her chair watching TV when she heard what she thought might have been an explosion. When she went outside to investigate the noise, other neighbors were also outside looking for signs of smoke. “A neighbor and I were walking to 60 Street, Pulera who lives on 37th Avenue, said. “We thought it might have been a gas station.”

1:11am – Engine 3 is leaving the scene, fire is out. I’m heading off to bed, thanks for visiting. There’s supposed to be live Chopper 4 video here, but I’ll be darned if I can find it. G’night. Oh yeah, I posted a Google Streetview shot of the house here, if you want to see what the neighborhood looked like before the explosion.

5:15am – Live News report on TMJ4 – There was no one in the house at the time of the explosion, it was being renovated. There were also no injuries as a result of the explosion, which is amazing after listening to all the chaos on the scanner last night! The investigation continues today as they try to determine the cause of the explosion and assess all of the surrounding damaged buildings.

Dylan’s 2nd Birthday

Dylan's 2nd Birthday SignWe attended Dylan’s 2nd Birthday Party at Monkey Joe’s today. This was our first time there. Compared to Chuck E. Cheese’s, I would say Kevin had more fun here. There are fewer arcade games and more inflatable bouncy things in this place, and he seemed to get a good workout out of it. Darn it though, they wouldn’t allow adults on any of them though. Of course that probably would have meant certain disaster for them after MY visit, if the did… Kevin had a great time though, and it looked like all the other kids did too. We took a bunch of photos using only our phones this time–this was the first family event we’ve ever attended without bringing a regular camera–sort of a first for us. It worked out fine I think. We’re very happy with our Androids. Click here to view the photos.