Month: December 2018

New Year’s Eve 2018

Gay decided on the eve of New Year’s Eve that she wanted to host a party. So she invited friends with the idea that we’d watch the East Coast celebrations (at 9pm our time) and end it.

Megan & Jon + Emmarie, Kevin & Rachel + Ava, Julian and Oscar, Matt, Deirdre & Patrick + Walter (dog), Marissa + Henry, another Megan & and her relatives and kids and some friends of friends showed up. 🥳

People stayed until 1am, the kids went to bed and the rest of us stayed up until 3am. Ouch, hangover Tuesday required more champagne for breakfast. 🥴 And then the Huskies lost in the Rose Bowl to the pompous Ohio State. 😒

Christmas 2018

Steve & Renuka hosted Christmas Eve dinner this year. Delicious prime rib, as usual, mashed potatoes, etc. Plus beer, wine and champagne, of course.

The kids politely waited until 7am to wake us up for presents. I got a 3D mouse, an acoustic guitar, cycling clothes. We all got pajamas and Yeti mugs and a Cornilleau ping pong table.

No white Christmas, much to Havana’s dismay – she must remember last year’s snow and assumed it always snowed for Christmas.

We had a rib roast for dinner, still in our pajamas and then watched Christmas Vacation – one of my favorite Christmas movies – before bed.

The next day, the Carders had us over for lefse and drinks – Kristin is Norwegian, like half of me. Eva and Iris made most of the lefse!

Eva spent the night there and Bowie spent the night at our house.

Then Eric & Sandi and Steve & Renuka and kids came over for dinner. Instead of cooking we got Chinese take-out.

Steelers

The Steelers lost to the Saints in another close game, 31-28. The season started 1-1-1, including a tie with the lowly Browns, then they looked great during a 6-game winning streak followed by 3 straight losses to teams they should’ve beat. They beat the Patriots at least last week. Now they have to beat the Bengals and the Browns have to beat the Ravens for the Steelers to get into the playoffs. They’re so good but so flawed.

Surprisingly, the Seahawks are doing better and beat the super-powered Chiefs today, guaranteeing a playoff spot.

Tree Sale + Pancake Breakfast

Last night was the start of the annual Stevens Tree Sale, this year run by Gay. This morning, we went to day 2 of the Tree Sale and Pancake Breakfast where Hudson and Eva performed.

Our tree and egg nog was delivered last night via “white glove” delivery by the elves who stayed and had cocktails with others from the The Tree Sale volunteers.

Lutron RadioRA 2 certified

I just became a Lutron-certified something-or-other! We had Lutron RadioRA2 dimmers installed in our house when it was renovated in 2010-2011 and we did some minimal programming but we were unable to make any changes to it without hiring someone who was certified to do it. So we lived with it as-is.

But these days, with Google Assistant and Google Home devices all over our house controlling and automating things, I want to control our lights too. Lutron recently, as in last year, came out with Connect Bridge that lets you use your phone as well as Google Assistant (or Alexa) to control a Lutron system. I bought one, opened it, read the instructions and realized that it also requires one of those Lutron installers to add it to the system. D’oh!

I am still not paying someone to click a few buttons on a computer so I decided to check into what it takes to be certified and get the software myself. I called Lutron. It turns out anyone can get the software by taking their online course and then passing a test. So I started the course thinking it’d just be a couple hours of my time.

Unfortunately, Lutron is deep into Windows. Not only is their software Windows-only, taking the online course requires Windows because it uses Windows Media. Double D’oh!

So I installed the 14-day free trial of Parallels Desktop on my Mac to run Windows 10 on my Mac. Then I watched 6+ hours of interactive videos and then took the online exam, which took me another 2 hours. (Windows is still painful to use and is awfully ugly too!)

I passed, downloaded the RadioRA2 software, configured all our Lutron equipment and can now control it all with my iPhone and my Apple Watch from everywhere I go! I haven’t been able to get Google Assistant to fully work with it yet, though.

Lutron is frustratingly closed (and requires Windows), their software feels like it’s from 1997 and is kinda quirky and prone to throwing up error messages, and a Lutron RadioRA2 (smart) dimmer is expensive. However, I came away from the certification process impressed by Lutron. They clearly value customer service highly, I didn’t know that they invented the light dimmer, about the dimming and radio technology that exists in their dimmers or how innovative and design-focused they’ve been over 50 years.