I could make lots of excuses for my long-ish absence, but I'd rather just talk about what I've been up to (in between the time I waste gaming and the like).
This is the year of sizable renovations chez nous, including (hopefully) an attached garage in front of our home. The financing went through relatively easily and quickly, so that's not holding us up. I've had a few workable ideas, in particular, for the garage reno, although the actual diagrams have been slow to appear. A friend showed me Google's Sketchup - quite the fun little program. It works to quickly visualize (from all kinds of angles, and in 3D) what I've got vaguely rolling around in my cranium. There are some difficulties with some of the finer points, including printing the diagrams to the correct scale that the permit-givers desire. There are also aspects beyond my knowledge, and for which I'll either have to pay someone with the proper training, or bug my professional uncles to help me with (which I'm reluctant to do). Anyway, the obstacles to tangible work on the garage are slowly disappearing (the last remaining pine tree was felled, removed, and stump-grinded away over the past week and a half). Soon I'll be left with the plans, and then the real work to realize this 3 year old dream (since we moved in we've been hoping to do this). I'm trying to do as much of the work as I can, to save costs, and for the fun of it (except the detailed planning, which is causing me some grief).
My 3 sons have helped to varying degrees thus far (when I'm not strung out and giving them heck for not perfectly helping), being terrific helpers each on occasion. So far their major contributions have amounted to stints with the demolishing and reconstruction of the deck out back. I'm happy to say it's just about completed, close to what I had hoped for. With that project nearing completion, I'll soon be directing almost all my reno time to prepping the kitchen for the granite counters I told my wife we would get (owing in part to a Home Depot sale). They're taking their time with this one, and it looks like it'll be a couple months yet until everything is actually installed.
I also ordered cable a month ago, and have begun relatively massive efforts to 'tape' shows, edit out commercials, and make DVD's of them (generally older movies). We're trying not to watch too many of them now so we can enjoy them later after the cable special runs out in the Fall. I'm developing a technique that's working okay, using the already-included software. I tried researching several products, but they wouldn't guarantee that they would do everything I'd hoped for. There are bugs in the OEM software, but I've been able to work around it so far.
I've kept up on my blog-reading, but have neglected posting due to (a) laziness, and(b) a realization that there's a lot more creativity out there than I think I can muster on a regular basis (not to say I won't try more than I have been). That's the update for now - I'll see what else I can come up with.