Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Analog To Digital TV

I've only owned two televisions in the past 15 years. One is a portable 9 inch TV, and the other is a 21 inch TV set. A friend felt so sorry for my 9 inch "big screen" TV that he gave us his old 21 inch. So now we have two TVs at home, but unfortunately both are analog TVs...

On midnight February 17, 2009, all the analog TV broadcasts will cease; and it will be 100 percent digital. We don't watch much television at home, but I thought we might as well use our $40 TV converter box coupon, purchase a converter box, and make the transition to digital.

During the past weekend, we finally set up our TV converter box and installed a new antenna (replacing the "rabbit ears"). Now we have over sixty TV channels, and we even pick up HDTV stations in Riverside, Orange County, and San Diego. I was happy with the quality of the reception.

Which converter box and antenna did we get? I purchased a Tivax STB-T9 Digital-to-Analog TV Converter (only $7 with the $40 coupon), and the RCA ANT2000 Smart Flat Antenna ($44). The "smart" antenna incorporates phased array technology. When used with the converter box, it automatically adjusts electronically to the strongest signal.

I first tried setting up this antenna on the wall right next to the TV. Reception was OK, but not good with the more distant stations, like the ones over 30 miles away. So I moved the antenna up into the attic near the highest point in the house and connected it to the converter box with a 75 ohm video coaxial cable.

The coaxial cable runs down inside the wall from the attic, and terminates at a wall plate. So with the antenna hidden upstairs, it sort of looks like we have "cable". This set-up greatly improved both the number of TV stations received and their signal strength. Now with 60 HDTV channels, who really needs cable? We can catch all the PBS stations in our area -- KVCR in Riverside, KCET in Los Angeles, and KOCE in Orange County...

By the way, this website called AntennaWeb is helpful to figure out where the TV broadcast stations are located (direction and distance). You can determine what kind of antenna might work best with your TV converter box.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hiking Into 2009

Well, the year 2008 is closing down, and the new year 2009 is approaching! The rainy weather finally cleared, and the weather was beautiful today. We went for a hike nearby in Pasadena. The following is a short video documenting our walk. Please click on the image below to view it...

The hardest part of the hike were several stream crossings, and it wasn't so easy hopping over the rocks with 30 pounds of Hikaru on my back. But we had lots of fun, and it was nice to get some fresh air. As you can tell from the video, Hikaru especially enjoys eating a "snack" on the trail.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rain and Snow

Last week, we had a storm system pass through Southern California. It dropped around 3 additional inches of rain in the valley, and much snow in the mountains. It caused a few weather-related headaches...

But boy, after the sun comes back out, the white snow gleaming on the San Gabriel Mountains is quite beautiful. I had a camera in my car, so I took these photos below on my commute to work.

Clicking on the images will give you a larger view. Yes, there's some other photos like this one in this blog, but just taking time again to appreciate where we live.

Orange is the Season

It's difficult to teach kids these days about food and responsibility. They grow up thinking that if you want an orange, you just go outside and pick it. "Geez, do you think oranges grow on trees or something?"

When we think of wintertime in California, we think of oranges. This year, we counted over a hundred oranges on our two dwarf Satsuma Mandarin (Mikan) trees.

In the summer time (while the oranges were still green), Hikaru helped Daddy water the trees, and now the oranges have finally turned orange! This year's crop is the best and sweetest we've had so far from our trees -- and oranges are still Hikaru's favorite food!

Paper Airplane

The other week, we watched a B-2 Stealth Bomber make several passes over Pasadena/Los Angeles. Hikaru said that it was a "paper airplane".

Doesn't it look like an origami plane?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chicken Dance!

Today Hikaru performed "on stage" with his classmates at preschool. It was his first time. We went to the end-of-the-year "Oseibo" program thanking the staff for their service during the year. The kids danced to tunes like "Insey Winsey Spider" and the "Chicken Dance".

To view the video, please click on the image below...

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