Monday, June 25, 2007

Murphy Proof

I hope one day to be financially murphy proof. By that, I mean that one day I hope to have a "fully funded" emergency fund so that when Murphy stops by to visit, it doesn't throw me for a tailspin.

Well, this isn't the day, but, it could have been worse. Coming home from my daughter's ballet recital, I ran over a nail. I felt confident that the road damage insurance that I purchased would cover me. Unfortunately, it only covers you if less than 25% of the tire is worn. Anything else is prorated. I like my new tire with 25 bucks knocked off.

Next came the Xbox with the busted USB connector. Thankfully, I did have a full product replacement plan and I swapped it out with no inconvenience. But, I did purchase another PRP just to cover this one.

Finally, the pool pump motor had a short, and unfortunately it is past warranty. The part is coming in, but, my pool water has not been filtered in over a week. It is getting that nice shade of green. I saved myself some bucks by pulling the motor out and taking it to the Pool store. Hopefully by the weeks end we will be up and running.

Not swimming, unless you like algae.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

R2, Where are you?

Although I have not seen any of the US Post Office mailboxes "wrapped" with the R2D2 decor, it was only a matter of time before one went missing.

I would start talking to the local Jawa community.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Of Mice and Squirrels (and Peguins and Helicopters).

Last year, Jay posted a bit about squirrels becoming the new "in animal" at the movies, replacing the mouse. Since that post, I believe that the penguin has surpassed the squirrel in Hollywood. Too bad, I was really rooting for the squirrel, but, to be honest, he got type casted as a caffeine injected rodent. Funny, I will grant you, but ultimately a one trick pony.

Penguins, on the other hand, can march, surf and dance (and, according to Big Idea, drive space ships). Really, the resume is very impressive. But, I have to be honest with you, the penguins are wearing a little bit thin. I was not one of the masses that thought "Happy Feet" was the best film of all time. In fact, I did not like the sexual undertones in a children's movie (at one point, a penguin breaks in with a rendition of "Let's Talk About Sex" replacing Sex with X). It is the same subject of "March of the Penguins," but there you have a documentary and not some anthropomorphic fantasy. My only thought during "March" was, I paid how much for this film!? I will wait for "Surf's Up" to hit Redbox, thank you.

After watching "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" I have noticed another trend: Helicopter Blades. In "Grindhouse," Helicopter blades are used to chew through a mass of zombies, obliterating them into chunks a liquid. Like the entire film, the scene was overplayed and such an obvious model that it could not be taken seriously. However, "28 Weeks Later" used the same tactic to plow through a rushing horde of Infected. This was meant to be taken very seriously, as was the scene in "FF." A helicopter "crashes" Sue and Reed Richard's wedding, blades dicing through guest chairs.

What's the point? There is none. Just one guy sitting 4rC noticing another trend. BTW, I recommend all of the Helicopter films, but, "Grindhouse" and "28 Weeks Later" are questionable in taste (the former more so than the later). But, I really enjoyed "FF" and would recommend it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Maxed Out

If you get a chance, take a look at the film "Maxed Out." It is an eye opening view into the world of the Credit Industry in America and the potential decline into a two class system (debt and debtors).

The movie has an obvious political slant, but (for once) I was agreeing with him. Also, had my man Dave Ramsey, but I could not be sure if the film maker was painting him correctly. If you did not know him, and his stance on personal responsibility, you might think that he's a little stuck on himself, especially the story of getting his jaguar repo'd. He often uses sarcasm and is sometimes self effacing.

Anyways, right up there with "Super Size Me" and "Kilowatt Hours" as another favorite documentary.

Monday, June 11, 2007

All Good Things...

Scenic View
Originally uploaded by Creative Loafer
As it has been said many times before, all good things must come to an end. This past week has been pure relaxation, and I feel charged. I expect this to end somewhere around 10:22 am. I stepped up on the scale this morning, and proceeded to yell at it, calling it a liar. So, I guess I am also back to Weight Watchers. But, I enjoyed every moment of this vacation. Thankfully, I have a half day on Friday.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Jericho Survives Fallout

Well, Well, Well. Seems like Jericho will be coming back from the ashes after all!! Thanks to the fans (more dedicated than me) who deluged CBS with nuts.

Vacation Recap

Tuesday morning came quickly, and Cindy and I were on the road by eight. We had Tom Tom programmed to take us to the cabin rentals and had about nine hours to enjoy a kid-free ride. It was erie: no fights, no messes, just quiet. If you do not already own a GPS device, these gadgets are worth the entry price.

Our cabin was called "A Garden Blessing," and it was just that. We booked the rental back in March, and got a really good deal. It was the first time that we rented anything that was not a motel. Combine being kid-free with all the amenities of home and that led to more sleep than I have had in a long time. In the spirit of Galinburg, we took a trip down the Parkway.

In case you have never been to Gatlinburg, let me tell you that there is no store front parking. Your best bet is to park at the city garage across from Hard Rock Cafe. They have an hourly rate and a six dollar maximum. There is a private lot next door that charges a flat $5.00 per day. Once you get into the Parkway, you will get charged $8 - $10. How to best describe the Parkway? It's the Myrtle Beach of the mountains: lots of t-shirts shops, candy shops and indoor minature golf.

The highlight of the trip was white water rafting down the Pigeon river. We used the Smokey Mountain Outdoors. After meeting our guide, we went through the safety lesson. Afterwards, I was starting to doubt the sanity of this venture, but, our guide told us that most river guides were full of crap. Seeing that she was a river guide, I was not sure how much stock to put into her statement. We took the "upper tour" and had a lot of fun. One member of our party fell overboard, popped up next to the raft and we got to pull her back in. I was proud that I was able to grab her paddle before it went down stream. If you ever go to the area, I highly recommend this activity. It takes a couple of hours, and there is more flat water than rapids, but it is very fun.

The second highlight was horseback riding. Again, there are several to choose from, but we used the Smokey Mountain Riding Stables. We saddled up on Porter Cole and Christy for an hour long trail ride through the Smokey Mountains. Although this was fun, about fifteen minutes into the ride, I had serious doubts that I could make this. First off, the saddle. I am not sure how it is with the ladies, but fellas, I got to say, it was rough. Next, my horse, Christy, was a lazy horse. The stable hand told me that I can use the reins to "whip her like you want to whip your wife." I told him politely that it was my wife who usually used the whip (just kidding, or course). But, Christy just kept getting behind and every now and then I could get her to trot to catch up. Attending Katie's riding lessons must have helped a little. If you think walking was hard, fellas, trotting takes up the pain a notch. I am sure that there was plenty that I could have done to make this easier, but, I am a dude (a person who does not know how to ride a horse). I have a new found respect for what Katie can do on her horse.

Horseback riding took more out of us than we thought, so we cancelled our hike and instead went minature golfing. You have many choices, but we went to Hillbilly Golf. You take a ride up the side of a mountain, and the course takes you down the mountain. I had a respectable lead on Cindy until she dropped two strokes on a par 3 and sunk the final put to win. It did not help that I completely flubbed one of the holes. Oh well, all is fair in love, war and Hillbilly Golf.

As far as eating out goes, we pretty much went on the cheap. We did eat at a local TGI Fridays on the Parkway the first night we were there. The experience was not good, and I would not recommend going there. We also ate at the Alamo Steak House after Hillbilly Golf. We were put in a back room that felt very tight. We split a surf and turf special, and the steak was exceptional. Cooked over oakwood, it gave the meat a distinctive smokey taste. However, most of the prices start around fifteen dollars. Before rafting, we did have a spot of lunch at a nearby Food City grocery store, and this would be a great location if you were looking for eats to take on to a picnic. Our favorite dining out experience was at the Gondolier Italian Restaurant and Pizza. We stopped here after rafting and had a large "Gondolier Special" Pizza. The feta cheese added something new, but the crust was fantastic: flakey like Unos, but not as doughy. We had enough left over to have a nice lunch the next day.

Coming home we went a different route to get to Williamsburg to ride the Griffon at Bush Gardens. The lines were short and we were in and out of the park in under two hours. After stopping off at Firehouse subs, we came home to a grand reception by our kids waiting for us on the corner. All though I enjoyed our peace and quiet, I was glad to see them again.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Well, I'm Home.

I will post more tomorrow about my Gatlinburg getaway. I've uploaded some pictures to my flickr badge if you are interested. The last 560 miles of the journey started this morning when I got up at a quarter to seven. I had just completed a restless night sleep, where, near twelve AM, I resorted to watching "I Love Lucy" to try and fall asleep. Luckily, we got on the road at 7:45. The first destination today was Bush Gardens in Williamsburg. Our goal was to ride the new roller coaster, "The Griffon." Finishing that ride (and a couple others) we hopped back in the car and made it back to Chesapeake and a warm reception from the girls.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Loving My Birthday Gift

I have never understood the appeal of an MP3 Player/Ipod. In the past, I have owned a CD player that plays mp3 and a smaller capacity (128mb) player, but, it never took off for me.

The Sansa E280R is an 8GB MP3 Player that uses the Rhapsody Music service in much the same way that IPods use ITunes. One big difference is that if I wanted to use Urge, I could.

However, I have found myself really liking Rhapsody because of Rhapsody channels. I imagined that my first weekend of ownership would involve burning my CD collection to a hard-drive and then loading up the player. With Rhapsody, I did not have to do that. I could go and find an album that I own and add it to my library. By default, Rhapsody saves nothing to your hard drive, but, I found an option that will tell Rhapsody to download the track in WMA format. Once downloaded, I can use my media-player extender and send the music to my Xbox, which is conveniently hooked up to my sound system.

Another feature of Rhapsody that I really like is "Rhapsody Channels." This feature allows you to pick a style of music (Soundtracks, 80's, 70's etc) and it will load your Sansa with songs. The other day at Starbucks, I secured a big comfy chair, listened to a Classic Rock Channel enjoyed my Starbucks, Blue Berry Coffee Cake and my copy of "Prank the Monkey." It was at that moment that I realized, I really love my birthday gift.

15 Year Get-A-Way

I posted last week about our fifteen years of wedded bliss, today we take off for Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for several days of rafting, horseback riding and something called Hillbilly Golf. Cindy's parents got into town yesterday afternoon, so they will be watching the kids. We are also hoping to snag a hotel Friday night somewhere near Williamsburg, Virginia, so that we can go to Bush Gardens Solo on Saturday. They have this new ride called the Griffon that we want to ride.