The preceeding announcement was brought to you by my strict Roman Catholic upbringing. We now return you to your regular journal.
Halloween was a big hit. Maggie was a bit intimidated about visiting houses, but she'd ring the doorbell as long as we stayed about six feet behind her. We couldn't wait at the curb because that was too far away. We did our trick-or-treating over at the sister-in-law's house, because our neighborhood is a hodgepodge of long gravel driveways pretty far apart, and you could spend a half-hour just hitting up six houses. Those densely packed subdivisions that my wife designs were just MADE for trick-or-treating.
Anyway, we eventually fell in with a group of about twelve other kids. Maggie preferred trick-or-treating with a group because it eases the intimidation. She ended up with a bigass bowl of candy that she'll undoubtedly be snacking on until early next year.
She dressed as Minnie Mouse, which was almost a problem in itself. We bought the costume last year during the financial double-whammy of the post-Halloween costume discounts AND Disney closing up most of those "Disney Store" mall outlets. Suffice it to say, we got an adorable red polka dot Minnie dress for about $3. Shelly and I thought we were the smartest folks around until mid-October when all the kiddos at Kinder-Care started announcing what they'd be for Halloween. And, of course, for girls it's all about PRINCESSES! Every girl at Kinder-Care stated that she was gonna be Cinderella or Jasmine or somesuch other princess from a Disney movie. Suddenly Minnie Mouse wasn't such a good thing to be, and Maggie announced that Minnie was out and she wanted to be a PRINCESS TOO!
We did eventually defuse the situation. She was in love with the Minnie dress, and we told her that she could wear a tiara with it if she wanted to be "Princess Minnie". By the 31st, though, she was once again cool with Minnie Mouse.
Such is the Wonderful World of girl ownership.
I found a really comprehensive review of the Windows Media Center 2005 that I was considering installing on the slack PC. Reading the review, it sounds like a terrific product with lots of great features. Also reading the review, I decided just to stick with XP on the machine. While it does look like a very nice piece of software, it looks like at least half of the features center around it being used as a set-top box with a remote and a TV tuner. Since I didn't plan for either, I'm left with DVD playback (with third-party codec), downloadable movies/music, and onscreen slide-shows. All of which I've already got.
Since I've already got a DISH PVR to do recording and TIVO-like functionality, having a second one in the pipeline would only serve to make things less convenient. I could, however, certainly see a media-center PC taking over its job someday if the DISH folks could come up with something like a PCI card or a "baby receiver" that's designed to be controlled and streamed through a media-center PC.
Unfortunately, apparently the DISH folks are now making PVR-rentals into a handy profit-center. If you buy one of their new second-generation PVR-units, they're tacking on a surcharge on the bill for its use. So they probably won't be in a hurry to pal up with anyone who's willing to eliminate the PVR duties (and surcharge) for 'em.
Other features, though, like the "buy movies and play 'em off the hard drive" feature, look very cool.