Friday, January 16, 2009

The Cousins invade Orlando!

There are going to be many first, second, and even third cousins in this story, so get out your scorecards and try to keep up...

My FIRST cousin (my Mom's brother's daughter) Amy lives in Illinois with her husband Corey, and their kids Jacob, Dylan, and Riley. Which would make Jacob, Dylan, and Riley my SECOND cousins, and would make Hanna Amy's SECOND cousin. Which would of course make Hanna and Amy's kids THIRD cousins. Got that?

Amy, Corey, and their kids have been in Orlando all week and staying at Port Orleans Riverside at the Walt Disney World Resort. Amy's kids are the perfect age for a Disney trip. Jacob is 9, Dylan is 7, and Riley is 5. This past Wednesday I had the day off and was given Terri's blessing to travel to Disney World without her. It would just be a Daddy and Hanna trip. I must admit I was a bit concerned at first. Hanna is a handful when both of us take her to Disney. What would it be like with just me? Fortunately it turned out to be a great trip. Hanna and her cousins played around all day long, and Hanna slept all the way back to Clearwater. Here is a short video of our day for your amusement.

(I sometimes do voiceovers in what I call my "1940's Announcer Guy Voice" which Terri hates but for some reason I can't stop myself from doing once the camera is rolling. Enjoy!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

DIY Home Theater, part 1

When we bought our house in 2003, there was one thing that pushed it over the top for me. Terri liked the tile floors, the open floor plan, the kitchen, and the bedrooms. All of that is fine. But what sold me was the extra room that sits just off the dining room. It was called a "Florida Room" in the listing, although some would call it a "sunroom". People not living in Florida would simply call it an extra room. It was formerly a garage, converted into living space by the previous occupants. It was long and narrow and perfect for my ultimate evil plans! A Home Theater!

This was something I had been thinking about ever since my family lived in West Virginia way back in 1990. A room totally devoted to watching television and movies. I believe such a room used to be called a "den". But during the 1990's people were taking the traditional den to new levels with big screen TVs, surround sound systems, and even theater seats installed in their homes!

Sometimes these strange rooms are called "Man Caves", but mine has been dubbed "The Batcave" or "The Hatch" by my friends. I am also very aware that a fascination with home theater is limited to males only (as Terri is so fond of reminding me). Apparently digital surround sound and a high definition picture means very little to members of the opposite sex. That being said, Terri has been very supportive of my new project (which means she says "I don't care what you do in there, I just don't want it spilling out into the rest of the house.")
This room previously held a 65-inch big screen television. I sold it a few weeks ago on Craig's List and used the funds to purchase a 120-inch screen. I will be getting a video projector in a few weeks, which will truly be like having a movie theater in our house.
I'm using this as an online journal of my progress. It will probably be less than 3 or 4 entries as converting this room into a darkened theater requires surprisingly little effort. Here are some pics.
This is very early in the process. Note the tools and junk still scattered about. The screen is already hung up, as you can see above the long window. My buddy Matt and I had quite a time hanging that sucker. We are about the least handy handymen the world has ever seen. Anyway, when the screen is pulled down it will cover the window and effectively darken the room.

Of course, movie-themed art is essential for any home theater. As you can see, all six Star Wars posters hang proudly in the room above the DVD and Blu-ray collection.
The ceiling fan may soon be removed, as it might cast an ugly shadow on the screen once the projector is installed.

My new component rack at the rear of the room, on which sits my reciever, cable box, and Playstation 3 (which will double as my DVD and Blu-ray player).

And finally, the screen in it's lowered position. Note Hanna in the foreground for a size comparison. Now I just have to wait for the tax return so I can get a projector to put an image on it!

More to come...