Monday, September 28, 2009

It's magic, Jack

We bought a MagicJack from RadioShack on Sunday for $40. You plug it into a USB port on your computer and then you plug a phone line into the phone jack on the device and presto! You're making calls over the Interwebs. Works really well from what I can tell over the past 24 hours of usage.

We also purchased a new Panasonic cordless phone system so that I could connect the base into the MagicJack (which resides in the basement) and then plug in all four "satellite" telephones in four other rooms of the house. MagicJack now offers 911 Emergency service, so we mainly bought this thing to have a "land line" for the kids to use in an emergency. Up till now, we've just had my cell phone and Angie's cell phone.

I know that if the power goes out, it will take the computer, MagicJack and cordless phones with it, so somewhere down the line I'll pick up a UPS battery and connect all that stuff (including the Comcast cable modem and Belkin router) to it. That might buy us 15-30 minutes of phone time if needed.

You can add an additional 5 years of Magicjack service for $59.95, which I'll probably do after we check it out for a few weeks. If we end up doing that, it means we'll have spent about $100 on this thing for 6 years of phone service. With Verizon regular landline service in Maple Shade, we were spending 100 bucks every 2 1/2 months! And that didn't include long distance!


So far so good.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Huge flag at Eagles game today

E-A-G-L-E-S

View from the West Club Suites, around the 20 Yard Line... Eagles home opener vs. Saints.

Fogo De Chao, Philadelphia

The other night, we went out for a late dinner at Fogo De Chao in Philadelphia, PA. It's located just off of Broad Street on Chestnut Street, before you get to 13th Street. Branded as a Brazilian Steakhouse, it's a meat lovers' paradise. If you've ever had food served to you "family style", you'll be a little familiar with how this works, but in a slightly different way. Typically, at a family style restaurant, each course is served in large portions to the table and if you need more, you notify your server who eventually brings out another serving. But at Fogo de Chao, you're provided with a small cardboard coaster marked "No, Thanks" on the red side, and "More, please" on the green side. A team of "carvers" walks the restaurant floor armed with skewers of beef, chicken, pork, and lamb; and when they see your coaster showing the green side, they will stop right next to you and either plop a skewer of meat onto your plate, or they will begin carving a nice-sized piece of meat onto your plate (at which point you need to grab your tongs and assist the carver).

This was by far the most amount of meat I've ever had in one sitting before. I had a little of everything (except I didn't make it to the pork), and it was all great. Of course, I had a few favorites. The boneless chicken wrapped in bacon was incredible, and the filet mignon was also to-die-for (and also wrapped in bacon). It was the meat version of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup: two great tastes that taste great together! But the house specialty was a seasoned beef with garlic, and it was mouth-wateringly awesome.

There's an unlimited salad bar, too, but a friend of mine had warned me to avoid it and "go for the meat." Good advice. Fogo also serves three hot side dishes that are endless, so this night we had cornmeal, garlic mashed potatoes, and some kind of grilled banana. At one point, my plate was overloaded with meat, and yet the carvers were still stopping at my place to cut more meat. I realized I had forgotten to flip over my coaster, so I quickly made the change to "Red" so I could catch up. You can always flip back over to "Green" when you want to resume your Meat-aholics' meat onslaught.

All in all, a great experience and we will definitely be visiting Fogo de Chao again! Check it out if you're a meat lover.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spline of the Times

Do you know what spline is? Well, you're about to learn...

In the past, when I've needed to have a screen door "re-screened" I've taken the door off and brought it to a local hardware store for repair. It's usually cheap ($20/$25 or so) and only takes a few days before it's ready for pick up. But over the weekend, we had a mishap with our sliding screen door (someone walked into it) and it ripped the bottom and part of the side away from the edge. Given where our house is (edge of the woods), we like any barrier we can put up to keep out the insects.

So this time I decided I'd try to tackle the job myself. I measured the door (44" x 72") and went to Home Depot in search of a rescreening kit. That's where I learned that you not only need to buy the screen, but you also need "spline" and a spline applicator tool (a "spline roller"). Basically, spline is just a soft plastic line (get it?) that you smoosh into the groove of the door to hold the screen in place. What I didn't know was that it comes in about 4 different sizes/thicknesses. So I grabbed the smallest one and a middle-of-the-road one (about $8 total), a spline roller ($4), and a roll of screen that was just big enough to do my door ($7). This, of course, left no room for error. One small screw-up and I'd be back at Home Depot buying another roll.

Installation wasn't too bad, actually. I think it took me about 90 minutes, but that's because I was figuring it out as I went along and damn near came close to ripping it in a place that would leave no room to shift it over. But I was pretty confident in how to do it after finishing, so I decided to replace the screen on the sliding screen door at our Maple Shade house. That one almost needed it more than the other one did, and we've been showing the house to prospective buyers with a rip near the handle and tape covering it up! :-( It took me about 45 minutes to do that one (is was a bit narrower, but I think I just knew what to expect, which helped). Total cost = $10 (not including the tool since I'd already purchased that before).

I haven't told Don that I replaced it today, so I'm curious if he'll notice it or if he'll read this first. Or maybe he'll never even notice it...

Spline - your new word for the day.