Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pony Puller

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Here is our Pony Puller! A 2002 Toyota Sequoia. Cindy and I have been saving since June to purchase a vehicle that could pull a trailer and a pony.

It is sort of neat to finally get to the end of that goal and have all of this taken care of before the end of the year. This is the first car that I have ever bought where I actually came home with the title.

The previous owners were a young couple and were as nice as could be. Made the whole transaction one of the most pleasant car buying experience.

Even though Cindy has said that she will still use the Civic as the run-a-bout, I would not be surprised if we see our Gas Budget increase.

My New Year's Resolution

Silverlight ECard - Windows Internet Explorer 12312008 65009 AM.bmp This year, I resolve to "look out for stealing ideas during conference calls". It is a bad habit, I know.

At least, that is what the Resolution Randomizer has picked for me. What will it say for you?

I think I always have several Resolutions each year, but, like most of us, I tend to put them somewhere on the shelf shortly after eating my second helping of Black Eye Peas. I have been looking hard for something that is worth doing.

1. Continuous Learning - I learned since my October Posting that I stopped learning about my trade. It started in August of 2004, and had been on a gradual downward slope until June of 2006, in which it flat lined. During the last two months, I have been reading, coding and reading some more. I have become fans of several of the Alt.Net community. I am becoming passionate about coding again.

2. Get Involved in Music - I still like to play my trombone. I have played in my church's orchestra since 1996. It has remained challenging because the Music Pastor has kept it challenging. I have become adept at playing that style, but I do miss "band literature." I have found several community bands in the area that I would like to at try to see if I can still keep up.

3. Do something Adventurous - I admire George for his passion for mountain biking. My friend Nick is a maniacal marathon runner (I think you qualify for this when you can express how many miles you ran in one year using a comma). I would like to try Scuba. Since 1992, I have lived in close proximity to the ocean, yet I rarely visit it. I chalk it up to a phobia of sharks (thank you Mr. Spielberg), but I enjoy spending time there. A friend of ours runs a Scuba shop, and I think it would be fun to at least learn how, even if I never make it out of the pool.

4. Not Be Afraid of Relationships - After reading The Shack, I am left with the feeling that I talk a might big talk about having a relationship with God. I bet if we were in a counseling session, God would have a look of disbelief on His face and say "but you never really want to be with me. You never listen to me. You do all the talking." This spills over into my relationships with others. I am afraid to fully commit to relationships because of my own personal shack. I want to get past that. I want to experience a purer experience with my God, and my friends.

So, there it is. All of them fully achievable to some degree, but yet, a bit of a stretch. I have new items, I have items that I want to improved. Even with the economy, the election and work, 2008 was a great year. Here's looking to a happy 2009.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Anticipating Oscar

It's nearly that time of year: The Oscars. James and I used to have an annual contest to see who could get the most correct. I believe that we only watched the Academy Awards once (1991 - The year that Jack Palance did the one armed push-ups).

About the time that ribbons started showing up on nominees' lapels was about the time that I started to tune out. A night that was supposed to celebrate the best that Cinema has to offer was turning into a platform for various causes.

The first Academy Award presentation that I watched was the 2003 Oscars to see if Peter Jackson was going to be recognized for filming what had been commonly thought of as unfilmable. I wasn't disappointed.

The past two years, I have had the opportunity to go to a local AMC theater and watch all of the nominations for Best Picture. I was fortunate to have not seen any of the films prior. I am anticipating that AMC will run this program again. Also, I am worried about watching any of the big films in theaters now. It would be great to have a third marathon with all new films.

Sunday Breakfast (or, Sunday's Break Fast)

Alan wrote about his new plan for a new kind of Sunday morning. The funny part behind his message is that we have all been there. Some of the best fights that I have had with Cindy has been at the stop light in front of our church.

I decided to write to tell you what I think has been the secret to our most successful Sundays. I can sum it up in one word.

Breakfast.

The problem with Sunday mornings is that we don't allow enough time to make it out the door. We end up treating getting out of the door as the goal. Get up, get dressed, get the kids dressed ("No, you can't wear that, it's dirty. Go and change"). There is very little difference between Sunday morning out the door and Monday. Except, you not only have yourself, but the whole crew in tow.

Cooking a big breakfast (Grits, eggs, toast, bacon, biscuits...you know anything that's not cereal) encourages you to get up a little earlier. I get time to have a private cup of coffee before everyone comes down. Also, I get to set the time: we eat at 7:45 am. Every Sunday. No guess work. Everyone knows what time breakfast is served and everyone is expected to be there. Since we leave for church at 8:30 am, everyone is expected to be ready (or near enough ready) by 7:45.

Over the years, I have this down to an art form. And on days (like today) where we don't have breakfast together, you really do miss it.

And, it proves that Daddy can cook a mean batch of Grits! Salt, Butter and Cheese included, gratis.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I apologize, I was Facebooking

Lately, I have fallen to the allure of Facebook. Unfortunately, there is not much to post in that particular medium. Actually, I have really felt burnt since my October posting regarding my feelings about my current Job position.

I can't say that anything has really changed on that front.

I really enjoyed having breakfast with Rick and George. Mike R. Shull filled in (again) for the absent Todd. I missed seeing Todd, but, what are the odds that Mike R. Shull would be there again? Truly, a classic moment.

Even though the food was good, the conversation was better. And, I was given a really good book recommendation: The Shack. I was warned that the first 80 pages was rough, but it was really good. It messes with you a bit.

The Shack is a metaphor for that place in your life that you just can't get past.

I have several of those in my life. I bet you do too.

But the neatest part of the book was a conviction that the kind of relationship that I am seeking with God, might not be the kind that He (?...read the book) wants with me. There is a lot about judgement and forgiveness that hit me square between the eyes. Definitely gives you a different way of thinking about love.

So, I hope all of you (well, both of you) had a wonderful Christmas. And, best of wishes for a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Great Bird of the Galaxy Reunited with his Wife

Just found out that Majel Barrett-Roddenbery passed away this morning after a battle with lukemia. She was a part of the Star Trek world as Number One, Nurse Chapel, Lwaxana Troi and the voice of the NCC-1701-D's computer.

Hailing Frequency closed.

Funny Label

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I picked up a cake tonight for our final FPU class for the year. To celebrate, we ordered a cake from Sams. Cindy had me pick it up, and as I was standing in line, I read the label. I am not sure of I want to eat it now.

What's on your Christmas List

It seems that as we get older, we have less "wants" on our Christmas lives. The cynic in me wants to believe that it is because we can go out and buy whatever it might be that we want. But, the believer in me thinks that I have come to the point where I would rather give than receive.

Which is true? Or, is it really somewhere in the middle.

Can you remember when you were a child seeing that one item that you poured all of your hopes and dreams into, hoping that it would arrive on Christmas morn?

This song takes me way back, and remember wanting the same thing. Enjoy, and, uh, what's on your Christmas list?

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Walrus

I miss your music John.

Lennon rehearsing

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Google Notebook

I found a new feature that I really like on the Google Toolbar: The Notebook button.

When I am learning something new, I like to have a note pad with me, especially if I am surfing the net for information. Most of the times, that note pad just serves as a method to try a cement some of what I have read into my noodle. Other times, it is just a reference to articles or part of an article.

The problem is that the paper version gets lost. And, if I am clever and use a word processor then I often leave that document on the computer.

Enter Google Notebook.

The Google Toolbar is the only 3rd party toolbar that I have liked. I found a new button called Notebook. This opens a small dialog that allows you to create containers called Notebooks. As you surf, you can highlight anything on a web page and add it to the notebook by right clicking and select the add to notebook option. Then, the web page has a nice yellow highlight to show you that this has been placed in a notebook.

Finally, you can add comments and notes to the item in the notebook. Very useful. Oh, and sense it is on Google, your notebooks are stored in their cloud and can be retrieved anywhere you can connect to Google.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Height Differential

When your wife is five foot one, and you are six foot two, it makes taking photos difficult: I always appear to be towering over her.

DSCF1520I have picked up some "tricks" of the trade to help offset the difference. For example, I call this technique "The Prop and Lean."  I have used a tree to lean against, appearing relaxed and natural.

Techniques that did not work:

DSCF1515I call this the "stalker" technique. What I was hoping would happen is that if I positioned myself a little bit behind her, I would appear to be similar in height. I thought if it worked for Peter Jackson and his hobbits, maybe it would work for us.

DSCF1510

This is the "lean to" or the "leaning tower" method. This is very simple in that all you do is give yourself a bit of a lean. It usually looks like you just ran into the frame (which, I think I had)

DSCF1514 This is an example of the "Hug" technique where I stand behind Cindy and give her an embrace. Unfortunately, this one also demonstrates the problem our height differential poses. This would have worked if I had the tripod raised a bit more.

DSCF1519

So, the tree leaning technique worked remarkably well for us this go round. We took a quite a few pictures and did get some winners.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday FlashBack

It's always amazing to go back and look at photos of the kids. Here is Katie, not quite two years old yet. Hard to believe how quick the first eleven years have flown by.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Might as Well Face It

Back in the 80's, Robert Palmer had a song, Addicted to Love. Some of from the movie theater, during those heady days of Tetris, altered the refrain of the song to make "Might as well face it, you're addicted to Tetris." Good Times.

Today, I am addicted to Smallville. Last night, I had the last disc from Netflix of Season 7. I am not sure how the writers strike affected the season other than it was two less episodes than usual.

Season 7 had many of what I call "mythos points" that we know have to occur prior to Clark Kent taking the mantel of Superman. My absolute favorite was an episode where Lex killed his father. Not only did he kill his father, but he killed the last vestige of any goodness that he had inside him. What was clever was that his goodness was represented by him as a boy, before the meteor storm and him losing his hair. Lex grabs the boy, drags him through his mansion to a fire place and pushes him in.

In the same episode, Clark and Lex have the "all I wanted was to be your friend but you pushed me away" talk. It solidified that their friendship was completely irreconcilable.

Seven ends with Lex gaining control of a Kryptonian artifact that will give him control over Clark, and a well placed cliff hanger.

Wanting to see how it ended, I was hoping that the CW web site would still have all of Season 8's episodes up. Unfortunately, they appear to only carry a few at a time. I turned to another source: bit torrent.

I have been downloading several episodes from Season 8 trying to get caught up. The season opener was pretty good, but the next one turned into the Meteor Freak of the Week (MFOW). Call it Superman 90210 or just a simple guilty pleasure, I am pretty much addicted to the show.

Happy Thanksgiving

I have woken up this morning in my room at my parent's house. What a neat feeling this is. For my friends who still live in SC, especially Columbia, it probably would not make sense to go and spend the night at your parent's house when you live so close by. It is truly a treat.

This year, we deviate from the typical trip itinerary. Usually, we go to my Grandmother Morton's house near Conway. It is a house built by her father and brother and sits right off of Highway 90. Dad drove to her house yesterday and brought her to Columbia. In some ways, it will be better, but I will miss going to her place. The kids love playing there, and call it "GG's Cottage."

Here are some of the things that I am truly thankful for:

  • My Wife - What a wonderful woman! She wears so many hats during the day - mom, teacher, violinist, horse wrangler, first aid technician. She has a spirit that loves God, and loves other people. She is gentle, but watch out when she gets fired up. She is my bestest friend.
  • The Kiddos - Kit Kat and Megster are reflections of different sides of my personality. Yes, they have a lot of their mom in them, but I often see myself in their personalities. Perhaps that is just me projecting. Katie is the dreamer, the artist. Megan is the comedian, the show man.
  • The Beards - I don't talk too much the Beards, but I am so thankful that God has crossed our paths. As a couple, we have just clicked. We had a blast in Charleston this year and looking forward to many more adventures.
  • Dave Ramsey - It has been two years since Cindy and sat down, did our first budget and decided to live debt free. We have gotten our financial lives in order, achieved some savings goals and are ready to move on to Baby Step 4+.
  • My Net Buddies - I can't believe that we have reconnected in a cyber kinda way. Your enduring friendship has transcended space and time. Along the way, they have introduced me to some of their friends, and this weird melding of extended buddies has begun.
  • Health - God has truly blessed me with some good health. I have, unfortunately, uncovered extra weight this year, but that will be taken care of soon.

Since today is Thanksgiving, take a moment to write out what you are thankful for. Silly, serious, it is all good. But, just take time to be thankful. And, uh, pass the turkey.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

About that Star Trek Trailer

Head out to AICN and download the trailer. There is a little Goodness at the end that was not there before. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Five Days Off

I am so excited about having this week off. Five days in a row! And, one of those day is a sanctioned eating day! Nirvana, pure joy. There are other things that I am getting excited about, but, I will save those for later: you know, once the grits have thickened in the pot a bit more.

Here is my fear about this week: that I blow it. I have all this time to do something, and that I ultimately do nothing. Sure, we need a vacation from our place of employment. But do I need to be idle? Cindy just said no.

I am going to post this to the blog, and then go exercise. If I don't do it first thing today, it most likely will not get done.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Ol' Ball Coach

This is an open weekend for the Gamecocks. For me, that means that my blood pressure should remain normal. After last weekend's "game," I think the whole Gamecock nation needs a weekend off. I hope this means big trouble for the Tigers next weekend.

If I cannot watch Gamecock football, then I play them on EA Sport's NCAA 09. Currently, I am playing the Dynasty mode. Let me tell you, in my personal Gamecock Nation, Chris Smelley is a quarterback stud come his senior year. And Stephen Garcia through over 500+ yards in his final bowl appearance.

I am in the 2012 season. 2011 was a winning season, but nothing to brag about. In 2010, we were ranked as high as #8. Currently, we are 2 - 0, having just beat Georgia between the hedges.

My wife, Cindy, made a quip: maybe they should make you the coach. Well, I have learned that Guitar Hero does not make you a real guitar played (believe me, I tried...Strings are so lame...give me buttons any day). So I know that playing NCAA does not make someone a real coach.

But, that was not what she meant. She meant I was looking like a coach. I was wearing my Gamecock hat, had my Large Headphones with a mike. She was waiting for me to throw both of them. All I was missing, she said, was a smirk that doesn't go away and a terrible shirt with horizontal lines.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Google Reader and Shared Items

Ever since I switched to Google Reader, I rarely directly visit blogs. It makes it convenient to go through a large cross section of post in one convenient location.

I have used other readers, but have found myself always drawn back to the Google Reader. Where ever I have Internet access, I can get to my reader.

Another feature that I like is the Friend's Shared Items Feature. Rick is a good "Google Reader" Citizen, because he shares many articles that he has caught his interest. So much so, I count it an Honor when he "shares" on of my posts.

Came across something interesting in his shares:

If that doesn't pique your interest, head over to Greg Boyd's site.

many Christians have tragically allowed their patriotism to co-opt their faith. They have allowed their American citizenship to take priority over their Kingdom citizenship -- despite the New Testament's instruction for disciples to consider themselves "foreigners" and "exiles" wherever they happen to live (Heb. 11:13; I Pet 1:17, 2:11) and to consider their real citizenship "in heaven" (Phil 3:20). Many American Christians seem to want a Jesus who will defend their country and hate their national enemies as much as they do.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Video Games Rule!

Something is not quite right here (I really wanted to say Quiet Riot).

This story at the NY Times show that, in spite of the miserable sales last October, sales of Video Games remained vibrant.

That's right. While we are witnessing our Government taking over various industries, I can rest assured that Gaming will not become socialized (federalized). Whatever.

Yeah America!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

John Williams is the Man

Really, this thing had me in stitches once they (he) got to Jaws!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Day after the Election

n669328712_926983_947 I posted several photographs on my Facebook account that I took while standing in the line yesterday. Cindy and I got up a little after five, and were in line about ten minutes till six. It was dark. It was raining.

As day grew lighter, I could see how far the line stretched ahead of me. How it wrapped around in the parking lot in a serpentine fashion. Strangely, it reminded me of the queues and Bush Gardens (45 minutes from this spot). But this is not a ride, it was one of the core actions where we, the people, participate.

My candidate did not win yesterday, and my adopted state turned from red to blue. I am not going to carry sour grapes over this, and I hope to see in Obama what so many of my friends and neighbors have seen in him.

But, what I was reminded of when I woke this morning to hear the news was that picture in my mind of all those people in line yesterday. There was not a coup, there was not a guerilla leader coming from the mountains taking over a government by force of arms.

There was a line.

A line of cold Americans standing under umbrellas in the rain and the dark. Waiting for their turn to vote.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear October 2008

Dear October 2008,

You sucked. I am glad you are done. Go away. Now.

Sincerely,

Me.

Runts

So, here is my Halloween story. I hope you enjoy it.

You know what runts are, right? They are hard candies that are shaped like various fruits - strawberries, bananas, oranges. Actually, beneath the tough exterior, they are just little bits of sugar goodness. But to get to them, you have to position the Runt between your teeth to crack it just right, and hopefully, not damage your teeth. I am addicted to these. It doesn't help that one of my coworkers keeps a never ending jar of these on his desk.

I often find myself making excuses to go over to his desk and grab a handful. Sometimes, I put them in a cup, sometimes I keep them loose and sometimes, I'll put in my pocket for later (don't judge me). Now, this last location is important, and it sets up what happened last night, before our FPU class.

Sometimes, after FPU, I come home so full of adrenaline that I find it difficult to go to sleep. For years, I have taken various sleep aids, and often refer to them as my "Little Blue Friends," or LBF for short. Last night, I thought that I would be smart and take a couple of these along and take them around 8:30.

Everything was going well. I was asking questions to the class from last week's lessons. Everyone was participating. For some reason, I absent mindedly put my hands in my pockets. I felt something round and small down there. My mind got excited: I had found a forgotten Runt. I cradled it between my index finger, and my thumb and decided that I would just, casually, eat it. I popped it in my mouth, positioned it between my teeth to crack the candy shell and...

Squirt.

Followed by the absolute worst taste. My face clinched up, and everyone figured out that something had happened. I confessed, but, I only said it was some "medicine"

This happened at 7, and the class was finished at 9. I was working against the clock as the 50 mg of Diphenhydramine was working its way into my system. I felt like Dennis Quaid in DOA, knowing that I was working against the clock.

Cindy did not buy the medicine line. She figured out what I had done. She laughed about it later, as around 8:15, she said I really sounded sleepy.

So, there you go. That's my Halloween story. There was candy, and it happened the day before Halloween. That counts? Doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sometimes, the Song just Fits

As I was leaving work today, I plugged in my MP3 player. Scrolling through, I saw that I had put downloaded the Big Fish Soundtrack. "Five O'Clock World" by the Vogues is one of the tracks. It's one of those songs that when you hear the opening riff, you recognize it. Perfect song for the drive home (and, in keeping with the Creative Loafing, I ripped one of the lyrics off for my header).

Up every mornin just to keep a job
I gotta fight my way through the hustling mob
Sounds of the city poundin in my brain
While another day goes down the drain

But its a five oclock world when the whistle blows
No one owns a piece of my time
And theres a five oclock me inside my clothes
Thinkin that the world looks fine, yeah

Friday, October 24, 2008

Starbucks Tie Figher

Some creative individual (not me) has recreated a Tie-Fighter completely from stuff you can get at Starbucks. Click on the image to embiggafy and take a look at the detail.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Kate!

Just wanted to give a shout out to my 11 Year old! Happy Birthday!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Toy

On Saturday, I bought a new toy: a Laptop Computer.

It was defintely a want. And, as Dave would say, I am debt free, I have an emergency fund fully funded and I can pay for in cash. Still, I was a little bit sad when they took Uncle Benjamin away.

I came upstairs to finish off the last episode of Spaced (I think Simon Peg is just the kind of guy I would like to hang out with and have a pint of cider with), and do a little web surfing at the same time. You know what? Laptops are incredibly hot on the bottom side. Uncomfortably so.

I am thinking that I can conserver electricity this winter by using my laptop as a bed warmer. Right before it's time to retire, I will fire it up and stick it down at the foot of the bed to keep the tootsies warm.

Hopefully I don't stay up all night Facebooking (crap, another verb).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I have decided to remove a couple of post from my blog.

Typically, I do not do this, however, I realized that it may have been short sighted on my part. Out of respect to my employeer and to not cause any undue worry from family members, I thought it to be the best choice.

I wrote the post out of frustration right after a difficult time for our company. Luckily, I have a great boss who was much more concerned about me than what I wrote.

And that means a lot.

A Funny Thought

Have you seen the commercials for that drug that helps out, with, well, you know...It comes in a little blue pill, and I think you can get samples from your doctor, but you have to ask with a straight face. As if somehow, this is a love pill. I don't think it is.

However, you have heard the disclaimers at the end of their "Viva" Las Vegas commericals, right? Where they tell you if the "effects" last for more than four hours you need to go the emergency room.

Have you ever wondered what the conversation would be like at the three hour and thirty minute mark? Is it a go or no go. You have to think about this.

And then, what kind of pants do you wear in? Obviously, jeans are out of the question. Do you go with sweat pants and a long shirt?

And once you get in, and go through all the check in procedures, where you have to detail the nature of your emergency, you get to sit in the waiting room with all of the other patiences with "actual" emergencies. All of them looking at you, wondering why you are there. Maybe they can figure it out.

I wonder if that procedure was just thrown in there to cover the company's interest. "Sooo, theoretically, how long could the effects last? We'd better tell them to go to the emergency room at around, what five hours? No, Four?" Ok. Four it is. Seriously, who would follow through with that?

Not speaking from personal experience, of course.

Just wondering.

To Boldy Go

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lighter Fare










With all the hub-bub surrounding me right now, I thought I would resume regular programming. Here is a picture from the upcoming Star Trek Reboot. Is it me, or does this look like a SNL skit?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A New Hope




















I was just going to post this picture and leave, but, once I saw it out there, I wanted to make a comment.

In this political season, both sides are talking about hope and change. But I don't want to go there. What came to my mind was how the Bible often uses this word.

"For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (Rom 8:24).

Daniel Webster gave several defintions for hope. One of them is "an opinion or belief not amounting to certainty, but grounded on substantial evidence". It differs from a wish in that it implies an expectation that what is hoped for will be gained. Hope teaches us patience.

Peter ties hope and faith together: "so that your faith and your hope are in God." In both cases, the gaurantor is God. Who you are hoping in is as important as what you are hoping for. Do they posses the ability to provide what you are hoping for?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Forbes Votes Against Revised Bailout Bill

Washington, D.C., Oct 3 - Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) released the following statement today after voting against the revised bailout bill, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008:


"When I voted against the first Wall Street bailout bill on Monday, I did so because I was not willing to risk $700 billion of taxpayer dollars on a plan that I, after talking with senior Treasury officials and the former chairman of the FDIC, was not confident would work. The second bailout bill we voted on today contained a number of positive provisions, including increasing FDIC insurance coverage for American families and businesses. Even with these improvements, the core of the bill remained the same - the federal government will purchase $700 billion in bad assets from private corporations who have made poor financial decisions, and there is still no assurance as to whether the expenditure of $700 billion will solve the problem at hand. It became a bit like adding ornaments to a Christmas tree that no one wants; no matter how many ornaments were added, the problem was still the tree. I could not support a bill that leaves us with no backstop if it fails."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Senate Passes HR 1424 Last Night! Excise Tax Exempted For Wooden Arrows...Children Rejoice

There are other alternatives to fixing this. Last night, our Senate passed their version of the Bill, HR 1424. It whopped out at 400+ pages.


In addition to our economy, it also has sections that has provisions related to film and television productions (sec 502) and a section for income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon Valdez Litigation. My favorite is sec 503 - Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by Children.


A vote of Nay is a vote against the children!


This bill has been around for sometime, when it bore the name of Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Instead of proposing a fix for the economy, they have rolled it all up with a bunch of other issues (like hiding peas in the mash potatoes to make the peas taste better).


We need some common sense up there in Washington, instead of the Politics as usual.

Pray

There is a book called QBQ by John Miller. It is short, and can be read during a lunch break. But what is packed within the pages is very powerful concept about practicing personal accountability and addressing blaming, complaining and procrastination. So, what can you do for this current economic situation? Have you prayed for your leaders in Congress? I don't care if they are Republican or Democrat: the reason they have any authority to govern is because it was granted to them by God - pray that they embrace wisdom. There is a spirit of fear that has been exacerbated by our media - we need to be praying for them as well. Fear is not a fruit of the Spirit - how is it affecting you?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Going Donald Trump

Last night I had to exercise one of my duties and give someone the opportunity to find a new career path. It had been coming, it was properly documented, the employee had several reprimands on file. But still, when it came right down to it, it was not as easy as Trump makes it look. My boss gave me one piece of advice: remove any sharp objects from reach. Not sure if he was actually serious. What really hit me, was later on as I was hanging out with my girls, was that the former employee was now at home with his family.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

700 Billion or Bust?

This is probably on everyone's mind: but, I am not so sure that going into debt 700 billion or more is the right answer. Seems like my financial guy doesn't either. And, in the two years that I have been following Dave Ramsey, seems like he is truly pissed.

Check it Out.

Could this work instead of going deeper into debt?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No loafing today!

Just looking at my title for the blog. I have absolutely no idea how I landed on that. Perhaps it hints at my creative side. Perhaps it shines a bit of light on my bad habits. But, however I cam across it, today was neither creative or loafing. I started at eight this morning with the aerator. My neighbor and I rented one of those beast that, well, it can work you over if you are not careful. Luckily I was ready for it this year and had my yard done in about an hour. Still having most of the morning to kill, I decided today was the day that I drain the pool of some of its water and place the cover on it. And, now that I know how to use the fulcrum bar, I do not endanger any part of my anatomy.


What's left for the day? Oceana Naval Air Station is having its annual air show. Its a bit overcast, so I am not sure if we will be able to see the Blue Angels, but, I would like to go out to see the static displays. Hopefully, an F-15 will be on board. I would love to show it off to the girls.


And, if you really want to loaf in front of the computer, check out IMDB: they now have full-length movies and TV shows to stream to your desktop.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You know it has been a bad day with homeschool when...

George's comment spurred me to write this. Maybe it will turn into something more or less regular.


You know it has been a bad day with homeschool when you come home late, and the books are still on the table.

Character Building

This past Saturday, Katie wanted to earn some extra cash to purchase a webkin. Apparently, she spied one of the plush toys at a local vendor, and, it was one that was a rare item. The rocks that lined our pool's patio needed weeding, so Cindy placed out equally spaced X in chalk. Each X represented a dollar.


Did I say it as hot on Saturday? It was.


I also had my chores. I finished our small group lesson and went out to cut the grass extra short because we are getting ready to overseed the lawn and aerate it next weekend. In less than two hours, I had four 32 gallon bags filled and both yards done. Katie had moaned about doing one X. She asked if I had any other chores, she called Cindy to see if she could do something else. The truth of the matter was, between the heat and the spiders, it was a tough job. After the last complaint, I stood before her, tired already from my job, and I laid into her. Perhaps a bit rougher than I had meant, but, I wanted the point to be clear: sometimes we have to do things that aren't fun and we need to see the job through.


I have seen grown ups on the job over the years who never learned this lesson.


She cried, and I left her there. When she did finish, and we paid her the dollar, she gave it back to us and went upstairs. I took it back to her, put my arm around her and told her that she really earned this dollar. I did not like the attitude that she had through out the process, but, she worked hard for this one. After I had cleaned up, I took her out to 7-11 for a Slurpee. I started to watch some football. At some point, I looked out back, and she was right where she left off, pulling more weeds. This time no complaining and just concentrating on finishing the job in no time at all.


She learned the lesson.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Zoundary - Raven

If you are looking for a new editor for you blogging needs, I have been using Zoundary Raven. I have used Zoundary before, and went to look for an update to install and instead downloaded and installed the Raven beta. Recently, I have been simply using the blog template in Word 2007, but, Raven allows you to configure your Picassa account so that it makes uploading photographs to your blog easy. Also, it supports multiple blog sites in case you are hosting a blog for your friends, and another for your movie reviews.

Another New Pony


Last week, I visited our new leased horse. A nice family is leasing us a pony, but the sweetness of the deal is that it is $15.00 per ride with a max cap of $125. So, it is not really a lease in the sense of the word, but the arrangement is very fair. Mom and Dad were with us, so they took a bunch of photos and they snapped this casual picture of Cindy and me outside of Mooney's paddock.


Mooney is not the pony that we are leasing. That would be Cocoa, seen below. Katie has been riding since she was six. For much of the time, she was riding Hunter Seat style and was learning some very good skills. However, the type of horses and ponies that she was riding were very, very expensive. Also, Katie was developing some very good fundamentals in both riding and jumping, but, she was not getting much in the way of horseman ship. The route that we have taken has helped her to become independant in tacking the horse and proper care. Last April, she was awarded her D2 rating in the US Pony Club. Hopefully, but the end of the year, we will have saved enough to buy a used truck that we can take our pony to various events.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Unbelievable Strength

I do not write much about my sister or my brother. Both committed suicide during their teen years, and twenty six years later it is still difficult to even talk about. Recently, while in Charleston, I had connected via Facebook with my sister's best friend. Her note hit me like a bolt, and I stood next to the Market Place, holding my friend's, Ron, Ipod Touch, with a stunned look on my face, and tears in my eyes.

It was an opportunity to tell Ron.

For the people that I do tell, I know it is difficult for them to know what to say. And it is here that I usually try to steer the topic to something else. However, this time, it was different. I had been doing calculations in my head to determine how old my mom and dad were. They were thirty-nine when my sister died.

I am now older than my parents when their first child died. With two daughters of my own, I can not even comprehend how they survived one, let alone two. My brother died six years later.

It was a hard lot that they were dealt. Mom and Dad are the strongest people that I know.

I love you both.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Katie's Blog

Just wanted to welcome my daughter Katie to the wacky world of blogging. She set this up with some help from mom to talk about her love for horses and other fun things.


So, where did the Cyndi Lauper reference come from??

Monday, September 01, 2008

Summer’s Done

If Memorial Day marks the start of summer (unofficially), then Labor Day heralds the end of it. Tomorrow, the kids start school and sleeping in will be reserved for Saturdays. That goes for mom and dad, too. We have our alarms already primed for "o dark early." Routines will need to be adjusted, and early to bed habits formed.

Labor Day is such a bitter sweet holiday.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Total Money Makeover Live Event: Charleston

We've just pulled in from our trip down to Charleston, South Carolina. We attended the TMM Live Event, and Dave was just awesome in person. I would say that about 80 – 95% of what was said was right from the FPU course, but to be in an auditorium with 5,000 plus people was just fantastic. There is one slide in which he demonstrates compound interest using an example of Ben and Arthur. The point of the slide is that you need to start early. Ben, you invests $2,000 each year from age 19 – 26 and it grows to $2, 288, 996 by age 65. Ben, who starts at age 27, invests $2,000 from 27 until he is 65 and his investment never grows past $1,532,166. Dave asks those who are under 20 to raise their hands. He told them that if they understand and apply just this one principal, he just made them a millionaire, maybe twice over. He asked those who were 40 and over to raise their hands. He then addressed the 20 year olds and said, I think these people want to tell you something, something along the lines of "Do It!" And everyone just shouted "Do it" with one voice and it just shook the place.

Now, that come right from the FPU videos, but, to be in the arena and being able to shout it out was great.

I had forgotten how much I like Charleston: from the great seafood at Hymans till that perpetual urine smell near Market Street. But we had fun walking around till 11:00. Unfortunately, the trip is over, but, I am so fired up to start FPU again on September 11th.



Friday, August 22, 2008

In Charleston

This one is for Rick. I am staying at the Garden Inn Hotel in Charleston. I spy the business office, and all I can think about is firing off a quick post.

We are here for the Dave Ramsey Live event. We drove down with our buds, Ron and Sheila. You would be surprised how quickly eight hours flies by when you don't have the kiddos in tow. Ok, so, a little parental freedom for the weekend. You understand, right?

We ate at Hyman's Seafood. Cindy and I split a flounder. Typically, you get a little fillet, but this was the whole thing (minus the head and the gooey parts). It was awesome, but, we could not finish the monster. I also had a grit cake: similar to a crab cake, but you replace the crab with grits.

We walked around the market area a bit and the girls shopped a bit. I was supposed to come down to get some change for the soda machine, but I had to fire off a post.

Cheers!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Batching It Tonight

This is a big weekend. And, I think I deserve it. Cindy and I are going to Charleston SC this weekend with our good buds Ron and Sheila to the Dave Ramsey Live Event. The girls are spending the weekend with their cousins (something, I admit, we need to do more of) up in Olney Maryland (birthplace of Frank Miller). And, that leads me to my title, as I am batching it tonight.

I left work this evening and went to my local Supercuts to trim this hedge of hair that has consumed my scalp over the past month. It seems like yesterday that I was getting it cut up in Buffalo. With a few bucks left over (Supercuts is very affordable) I swung by the local Taco Bell (hey, haven't been here for some time) and order a beef grilled stuft burrito.

Yes, Stuffed is spelled stuft.

This thing is a monster. I probably will be up all night trying to digest this. I am a fortunate man to be married to a wonderful woman who is an excellent cook. I will make sure that she knows how much I appreciate the little things that I take for granite.

With nobody home, I went to my pile of Netflix DVDs to find "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation." Honestly, I liked the first movie, and only rented this one because a third film was recently released. What interested me most about this film is that it was directed by the late Phil Tippet. Even if the name does not ring a bell, you have seen his work if you have seen any of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Robocop, Willow, Dragonslayer…oh shoot…just go look him up on IMDB and you will realize that this man made most of the movies you love come to life.

You got to know what you are getting into when you watch ST2:HOTF. It was shot in high def, and released straight to DVD. What does that mean? It looks like one of those films you can see on any given Saturday night on the Sci-Fi channel. And…well, it went down like that burrito.

However…

I almost always watch the making of videos if they have one on the Special Features. Because, even if the movie wasn't that great, the story behind the film always intrigues me. And after watching the vignette, it made the film a bit better. Mainly because it was the story of making a film that would be direct to video, and directed by Phil Tippet. So, if you find yourself watching this little "gem", watch the special feature…it's a bit better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Search of...Bigfoot

Alan has reported th death of Bigfoot...and made reference to In Search Of.

Now, I can't get the song out of my head.

Maddox would be proud...

I actually got to use the word deleterious in an email today.

Day at the Beach




One of the nice things about living in Chesapeake, Va is the proximity to beach. We went out to Strawbridge this Sunday and I taught the girls how to ride the waves on their boogie-boards.


9 Days and Counting


Like Martha, I am counting down the days to USC's kickoff. I just finished the season in NCAA and brought USC through undefeated, winners of the SEC and BCS Championship.
Now, that's dreaming!

Friday, August 15, 2008

This is a video that my friend Ron made to promote our fall FPU classes. This video highlights how a class about finances impacts your relationships.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer Day

Today was my penultimate summer day from work. This is an annual program in which the company gives you four hours off on alternating Mondays, or Fridays. I chose Mondays as most people take Fridays off, making it a naturally light day. In addition, if you work at least four additional hours, you can take the entire day off. What, only four hours? Anyways, last time, I had my surgery and spent the rest of the day and the next day in bed. Today, I had the stitches removed, and painted two more walls in the never ending paint project. On a roll, I pulled out the steam vacuum and went to town downstairs. Next time, I need to do something a little low key. Maybe go to Busch Gardens.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bad Week Behind Me.

I can honestly say that I am glad last week is over. But, I don't want to bore you with those details, so I will highlight the other stuff.

  • I was really saddened to hear that Bernie Mac died today. He became the voice of parenting that I wish I could use. Bernie was a really funny guy and always made me laugh.
  • I am reading Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South. In this Science Fiction alternate reality, a group of South African Whites steal a time machine and travel back to the Civil War to arm the confederacy with AK-47s. The book is a real page turner, but, how will it end?
  • Today I finally cleaned my car. Really, I was starting to apologize to my fellow coffee runners every time they got in. It did not reach the legendary funkiness of George's mini-van (a classic post), but it had its own double dutch bus aroma all of its own.
  • This morning, I took Megan out for a breakfast date. We went to the Broken Egg Bistro. She had a pancake and a slice of bacon. I had two biscuits covered in sausage gravy, two eggs and hash browns. We had great conversation.
  • For lunch, I took Katie out on a luncheon date. We went to TGI Fridays. Katie had chicken fingers and fries. I had a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a coke. We talked all about the boating expedition that she went on yesterday with our local Marine Science Museum.
  • I learned that, while these touch points with my girls are important, I need to schedule them on separate days. I am still stuffed.
  • I've discovered that I really, really like country music.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Clarity

Last week did not go quite the way I had expected it to go. In fact, if a week could ever go completely the opposite of how it should have been, last week would be that week.

One of my Developer Managers lost his father this past week. He went back to England to be with his family. An event like this reminds me that we only have so much time on this earth left with our parents. In the hustle and bustle of a visit, do I really take time to sit down and just be with them? Or am I being self centered in creating my own agendas?

There has to be a sense of clarity about what is important in our lives during such times. Deadlines, meetings, Friday crunches, pressure, politics and long hours suddenly do not seem to matter.

There are things at work that would have been much easier to handle if my manager was in town this week. And, if anything, it will drive me to change some aspects of the team (including cross training in areas of core functionality). I predict that this week I will be dealing with unhappy clients, so I am trying to visualize next Saturday.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Crashed

Maybe it is because I stopped taking the pain pills last night, but I have had one killer of a head ache and waves of nausea. Around 4:00 today, I gave up at work and said I needed to leave. Bummer of a day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Black Coffee is a Clear Liquid

Yesterday, I had a lipoma removed from my back at the Virginia Beach Ambulatory Surgical Center. The process was fairly quick, and I did not require General Anesthesia, but they did give me something that schnocked me out. I when I say schnocked, I mean that was the official term that the Anesthesiologist Doctor gave me. One side effect has been that my wife, who has been accusing me of snoring, was finally justified: the doctor and nurses all confirmed that I was sawing some major logs.

How embarrassing!

But, more importantly, I learned that when they tell you "only clear liquids" in the morning, they should be more specific and say no opaque liquids. In preparation, the nurse listed off a number of clear liquids: water, sprite or apple juice, but not orange juice. So, I am thinking that, besides the apple juice, these other items have no color so therefore, those must be clear liquids. And since black coffee has a distinctly black color (hence the name) and is not a juice, it must not be a clear liquid.

There you go folks, a quick look at the rats that run around the wheel that powers my brain.

I had a quick call with my mom after the time of "no liquids at all" and she informed me that black coffee is just fine, just no creamers. This was confirmed with my check in nurse at the VBASC – turns out.

Argh!!


Friday, July 25, 2008

My 02 Grand Am

I have to confess. Right now, I am listening to the Prince Batman album. Sure, last night I was asking how I missed U2's Joshua Tree. It is obvious: I was listening to stuff like this.

Listening to Prince, and paying bills. More fun than a forty year old should be allowed to have. Tonight's Pizza Movie Night, Danny Devito's Matilda (1996), was sponsored by Little Caesar (Pizza Pizza). It was cute, but, after awhile, I found myself wondering how much was left. I believe the Late Night movie will be Will Farrell's Anchorman (as long as I finish this post).

I like salesmen. They are very honest. Especially if you realize that there is only one reason for your relationship with them: they honestly want to sell to you. This generates within me a healthy dose of cynicism, as I naturally distrust them, looking for "the hook." It has served me well, and has kept me out of trouble (mostly).

So, today I dropped off my Grand Am with my Dealer for a Va State Inspection (and oil change). I told my sales associate that I look forward to "the call, but please, break it to me gently."

The only reason my car failed was because of the driver's side window would not roll down. All of the other windows could be kaput, but, the driver's side has to work. And, oh yea, the manifold intake gaskets are leaking pretty bad. And, the mechanic recommends a brake fluid flush, fuel injector flush, radiator flush and a new air filter.

It then hit me: the reason that car dealerships are willing to give away a $20 dollar state inspection and a $15 dollar oil change is because they know they can plant the $2300 doubt in your mind (the price of my repairs).

Call it intervention, but my wife had just been speaking with a friend the day before and had recommended a mechanic, whom I called. Turns out, he used to work for the same place I had worked for and had named one of the sales peeps that I knew. I told him that I am only concerned about the window and the gaskets. He said he could beat $2300 by a country mile.

Peeps at work told me that, at this point, they would begin thinking about a "new" car. That stunned me. Payments on a new car would be, what, $450? So, even if I paid the dealer's price the break even would be something like five months? So, after five months I would still be paying for the next four and a half years.

The beauty is (and if you know me, you knew this was coming), because of my budget, I was able to cash flow the repairs that I needed without hitting the emergency fund. It just delays the next baby step, but, I have learned patience.

Ok, Batdance is on, and I gotta roll.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where was I?

Some things you miss the first time around.

U2's The Joshua Tree is one of those things.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Road Home

I am tired. Really, really tired. The kind of tired that occurs when you drive from Buffalo, New York back to Chesapeake, Virginia. The ride back is always more difficult than the ride up.

This year's trip was extra fun: I wish I lived closer. I got to go to Darien Lake (Mike and Ginger, thanks that was really great!), saw three movies (I think I liked Hellboy the best), got to introduce the "Mysterious Ticking Noise" to my two favorite nieces (my only two favorite nieces), along with their fabulous mom (love ya Michelle, I don't say it enough), got to play D&D with my pal Lorne (thanks for introducing the game to Katie) and had some great ziti at Tina's and even better conversation with Lorne and his wife Jill (I will call you after Cindy and I read chapter six).

Already, I am looking forward to the trip up next year.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Anakin Skywalker, Marlboro Man


I saw the trailer for Clone Wars in front of Hellboy. The thing that struck me was the reason for the PG Rating.
Sci-Fi action violence throughout: Check. This should go without saying. I mean, after all, this is Star Wars, right?
Brief Language: Check. Even Han Solo threw out a few curse words when evading the Empire.
Momentary Smoking: Check. Woe, wait a second. Momentary Smoking? Does Anakin light up after some Sci-Fi violoence, spewing forth some brief language? But, when did momentary smoking become an influencer to the PG rating? I wonder what full on smoking would have garnered?
Could you imagine Casablance getting a PG-13?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rolling D20 with my Girl

Yesterday, I returned to my adventure. My party was attacked by a goblin hexer, a couple of goblin warriors and a host of goblin minions.

For whatever reason, none of my Elf's spells connected. None. But, luckily Logan, our rogue with a Cockney accent, was hitting them hard with his crossbow and our Paladin and Dwarf were holding the bridge. But the problem was that the Goblin Hexer had casted a cloud that hung over the encounter and really made it harder to hit.

Last night, I had another opportunity to return to the world, but this time time, Katie went along with me. She took up the Paladin character, changing him to a her and renaming her Bella. It was actually easy to explain the idea of the game to a child because kids roleplay naturally with their friends.

We came upon the area where the merchant train had been attacked. Right on the eaves of the Cloakwood. Some of the bodies of the men at arms had been dragged over and Logan went to "investigate" the pockets of the deceased. Bella found what look liked a path leading in to the woods, which we followed. That was when a giant spider leaped onto me and then bounded back into the trees, scaring me, but leaving me unharmed. Once again, Logan was on the mark with his crossbow, but the spider gave him a poisonous bite. Neverminding Logan's dubious occupation, Bella made her way over to the wounded man and placed a hand upon him - energy flowed between the two and Logan's wounds closed. However, the effects of the bite still slowed him down. One spider on the ground between several heroes was no match. Soon, Bella delivered the killing blow.

Continuing, we came upon the ruins of a manor house. Logan scouted and killed a guard standing in front of a stair case going down. This was the most likely destination of the raiders that had been harrying the trade route, and it looked like this is where we were going. In the first room was a bit of glowing ooze. Striking a sun rod to produce more light, an arrow flew past Bella - the goblins were once more upon us...

Ok. Let's roll for initiative. Ready yourselves!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Funny Picture


Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition

One small bonus of coming to Buffalo each year is that I get to hang out with my buddy Lorne. Lorne is a master story teller, all around good guy, and loves all kinds of games. Last year he introduced me to Carcassonne which I was given as a birthday gift this year. Cindy and I have really enjoyed that game.

This year, Wizards of the Coast, who now owns the Dungeons and Dragons games, released version four of the rule system. I can remember running games during lunch break in Mr. Sandifer's (aka Roscoe) back at Airport High School. And that was probably the last time I played the game. What I do recall from that first version of the Advanced Rules is that it was very, very complicated. You had tables for just about every mechanic of the game - from attacks, to savings throws and health regeneration.

For me, the best part of the game was rolling up a character and coming up with a back story for the guy. Who was he? Where did he come from? Why was he here? Since each character started off at first level, I would almost always pick a fighter character because he seemed more likely to survive. He could wear armor, use bladed weapons and had 1d8 of hit points. However, a wizard started of with a measly 1d4, could wear no armor, not use a bladed weapon other than a dagger - but he had magic. Well, he had one spell. That he could use once a day. Not much fun.

The fourth edition changed alot of that. The emphasis is more on creating characters that have a chance to survive and level up at a steady rate. In the v1 of AD&D, once you got to a certain level (say level six), you might have to gain double the amount of experience points before as levels one through six just to get to seven.

So Lorne is running me through a small game this week. He has created a neat first level game where my elven magic user is seeking out a band of goblin raiders attacking merchants along a trade route. Yesterday, I sought out to find my party and am about to leave the protection of the city. Also, I am sure that I am about to experience the new mechanics of the combat system that no longer rely on tables.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Day at Darien Lake

This year, instead of fishing in Tonnawanda, we went to the Darien Lake Theme Park. We had a blast, and the temperature was just right. We capped the evening off with dinner at Jacobi's, were, unfortunately, the waitress dropped one of the pizza's that we had ordered. It is sooo hard not to laugh at that.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shuffling off to Buffalo

As I had gotten home late the night before, my wife really out did herself by packing my suitcase. Honestly, she's more than a woman to me. What a friend! She will not know how much that helped out.

There were other things that I wanted to do but did not get a chance to complete. I programmed the Sansa player with Dave and Car Talk, alternating between the two. Podcasts always make the time go by quicker.

I did have to make one big decision - I did not get enough time to prepare to go to the Monroeville Mall outside of Pittsburgh. When I woke up, I plugged in the movie Dawn of the Dead and fast forwarded to several scenes of areas that I wanted to see. But, I came to the realization that, if I am not prepared, then I will simply walk around the mall and then go. No, I wanted this trek to be something more. Besides, how often do you get to visit a movie set of one of your favorite horror flicks?

When I passed exit 57, Cindy asked if I was sure. I said that I could prepare this week for the visit and maybe on the way back.

We made it to her parents house 11 1/2 hours after we left. I promptly turned my cell phone off and refuse to check work email this year. It's my vacation after all.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Delayed

Unfortunately, due to a client issue, my feet did not hit the pavement until 7:30.

Yabba Dabba Poo.

Una dia mas

Today is going to be one of those mixed bag of nuts kind of day.

On one hand, I start my vacation at 5:00. I will be just like Fred Flintstone when Mr. Slate pulls that bird's tail (even now, I can hear Ty Pennington saying "Mr Slate…Pull that bird's tail"): sliding down the tail and out to my car. Yabba Dabba Doo.

The downside is that today is also the last day at work for a very good friend and mentor of mine. Roy is leaving the company after four years, and I felt like we made some great software together when we worked really close on the Keystone and Solar projects. I fondly call those the fun years. He is going back to work for himself and I wish him the best of luck.

So, if you are in the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake around 5:00 today, watch out for two very fast movie feet powered cars!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Se Habla

Ok.

First, I have to admit. I am almost neutral on the whole election thing. If life has taught me anything, I might not always be right. And, that's ok. Really.

But. I have to consider the contender for the Democratic Nomination. Because, really, McCain could announce a cure for cancer and nobody (honestly) would care. Would they?

Obama campainged that all Americans should speak Spanish, and that rubs some people wrong.

And, I would agree with them. After all, should we not be encouraging Spanish speaking people to learn english?

But, in a knee jerk reaction, did I miss a subtle point? Did I miss something that, honestly, is a reality? When a local fast food establishment is announcing open jobs in Spanish, am I fooling myself that we don't need to be able to communicate in another language?

Fundamentally, I agree with him, but, I just don't think this needs to be a political issue.

This guy really intrigues me. I don't think that I can vote for him, but, if he gets elected, is that the worst thing that could happen?

Perhaps not.

So. Here is my joke. I made it up myself, and I am very proud of it. Tonight I was sitting in Patient's First with my Daughter watch Lou on CNN.

According to a poll, 83% of the polled said that English should be declared the official language of the United States.

The remaining 17% said "Que?"

Thank you. I am here all week. Tip your staff.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

"The Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of
America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations,
as the great anniversary Festival."

John Adams

I have just recently learned something new: the Continental Congress declared independence on July 2, 1776. The document was adopted two days later.

You can find this, and a few more "myths" about the fourth over at the History News Network.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Raising Hulu!

In case you have not found Hulu yet, I present to you, with limited commercial interruptions, Raising Arizona.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quick Trip to SC

I am not sure if I had mentioned this, but, Chesapeake, Va is covered in smoke from fires in NC and the Great Dismal Swamp. Whenever the wind blows from the South or South East, we get covered in thick smoke.

This morning was pretty bad.

Cindy reported that she could see smoke inside out local Sams Club. And, visibility was about a block when she was driving home. Needless to say, our clothes have that "fireplace" smell to them.

So it was awesome getting into the car and driving down 95. Without the kids, it was a rather uneventful ride. We talked, listened to Dave's podcast, and enjoyed the peace that comes with not having two kids carrying on in the back seat.

The girls have been down in SC with Grandma and Grandpa. Mom must have told them how to call us, because we would get calls starting at 7:00 in the morning. I had to tell them to not call until 7:30, as we were sleeping in just a bit longer than normal. Of course, Megan calls at 6:50 and asks if we could call her back at 7:30. Thanks.

We got into Lexington around 6:00 pm and had dinner and watched the home movies that were shot over the week. It looks like they had a really fun time at Frankie's Fun Park and Saluda Shoals Splash Playground.

Tommorrow, we will turn around and drive back up 95. It might not be as peaceful, but, I am glad we are all back together again.

Little Man Syndrome, Revisited

Last month I posted about LMS in regards to the face of current rising gas prices. Here in Virginia, 3 public utilities have announced that they are raising their price of service as much as 18% - Including Gas, Electricity and Garbage collection. Of the three, Garbage Collection would seem to be reasonable and expected.

Again, my cynical side does not believe that this is a matter that can be solved politically, but the free market will drive a solution (people will reduce their demand).

But, more importantly, what are you doing to insulate you and your family from these changes? Budget is an ugly word in most households. Some of us do a budget in our heads. But, a budget could be the single best communication instrument with your spouse that you have. It is a means of putting down on paper, on purpose, what we value. It is a contract with your spouse that you will not spend what is not on the budget. And don't forget to budget your "blow" account – this is money that you know is just going to get spent. And if you have a Starbucks vice, figure out how much you spend and work some of that into the budget.

Again, I point you to Dave Ramsey's site: The Quickie Budget will help get you going, and the Monthly Cash Flow Plan is really detailed (seriously, only Bill Gates has enough for this one). Follow the instructions and stick with it for about three months. And don't be afraid to fine tune the budget as you go through the month – just make sure you and your spouse agree on the changes.

Blessings!

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Ballerina



This past Saturday was Academie de Ballet's dance recital. Megan's group did a "cowboy" rendition of a well known hymn. I was impressed, but, I have to admit that I was a bit biased. I have known several of the girls that have gone to this particular studio, and I feel blessed that it is just down the street from us.





Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Few Years Ago

It just seems like it was yesterday that this picture was made.

Monday, June 09, 2008

If You Only Knew

I am enjoying a few minutes of quiet in the house. I have been bucking the budget around as we are gearing up for the next baby steps, retirement and college savings. I have my Rhapsody player going and I threw on the CCM (Contemporary Christian Channel). I lucked out because they threw in the Randy Travis song, If You Only Knew. All of a sudden, I hear this really beautiful voice that I am not familiar with and is definitely not the fluff that you get with mainstream CCM (either hyper-poppy or gangsta-rap wanna be).

By my grandfather's bed, my mother is reading,
Psalm 62, God is our refuge,
My grandfather stirs, could it be,
He is waking, one final time,
He has something to say,

If you only knew what lies awaiting
If you could only see what I can see
If you could only hear the music playing
The angels singing sweet victory
Oh, if you only knew, if you only knew,
How much he loves you

The next song up was the Newsboys. Oh well.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

IAMNOWHERE

Depending on how you read it, you're either lost, or you have just arrived.

Dialated


The wonderful trip to the eye doctor, where, afterwards for two hours, I get to look like a Japanese Anime Character with big, round, dialated pupils.
During the evening, I like to then go out and watch car lights pass by while listening to Pink Flloyd's Dark Side of the Moon album. Very Tripy.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Weighing In

Last night was my second weigh-in, and I am back on the Weight Watchers plan. A few years back, I topped the scales at around 260. I wanted to blame the weight on being a stress eater, but, truth time here: I just like to eat. Even after getting down to 195, I still like to eat. Weight Watchers helped me to know how much I can eat and still maintain that weight. Of course, I fall into the trap of figuring out a meal that meets my points requirements and then I have that combination: every day!

Now that I've added 20 pounds to the frame it's time to deal with 20 (instead of forty, or sixty). The hardest part was going in last week – being a lifetime member who is a repeat offender. That was my pride getting in the "weigh" (sorry). Last night's saw 2 pounds off – so I am heading in the right direction. And, 2 pounds per week is "safe," but I will not count on that number for each week.

Todd, I am right there with you!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Your All Clear Kid!


My Ebay glasses arrived today: three remained in mint condition, but alas, Darth Vader did not survive the transit. Apparently, the Rebellion attacked the glass using snub fighters. Navigating along the surface of the glass,they fired a proton torpedo into a drinking port approximately two centimeters wide. Prior to the sortie, one pilot proclaimed the task to be impossible. But new comer Luke Skywalker pointed out that it wasn't impossible, bragging that he used to bullseye "Shot Glasses" back home.

Flux Capacitor


Larry, from Mobile Appliance Repair, came back to the house today to repair our AC. I like Larry. We had him over this past week to fix our Ice Maker, and before that, our stove and one other time our Clothes washer. He is a real standup guy and I enjoyed swapping stories with him from our military days: we both worked on aircraft.


The problem with the AC was that capacitor went Tango Uniform, or, in civilian terms, "Tore Up" (yes, I know there is more colorful translation, but, my wife reads this). The top of the cylinder is supposed to be flat, and not convex. Personally, I blame the shoddy construction facility in Mexico were this was assembled. But, I can not prove that.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hot!

We came home last night to the Air Conditioning being out! It was a long hot night that turned into a long hot day. I can honestly say I am looking forward to the cool that will be afforded by my workspace.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Phantom Gift Giver

You know who you are. I would like to say thank you for the very nice notebook. I will keep it handy to write down those random ideas of "this would make a great blog post." I especially like the texture of the cover, and the band that holds the cover closed.

Again, thank you!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

EBayed


I have to confess: I am something of a Glass Junkie. I love those glasses that McDonald's and Burger King use to sell back in the seventies and eighties. I remember having these four from Burger King back when Star Wars came out. I can tell you, also, that I got these from the BK across the street from Mickey D's on Charleston Highway. My Dad used to call it Hamburger Hill. At the time, I did not get the Vietnam references, and that is what I called t for many years. Some time ago, BK had a falling out in Columbia, and they all but disappeared. Apparently, that McDonalds is still doing well. There use to be an Arthur Treachers's Cedric's Fish and Chips up there as well.


On Monday, I was browsing Ebay and came across these glasses. Something nostalgic kicked in me, and I did something I don't typically do: impulse. I bided on the glasses and got them for what the seller was asking. I was all very happy, until I saw the shipping charges. That sorta took the fun out of it, but, I will place these next to my Lord of the Rings glasses.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy 16 Years, Babe

Sixteen years ago today, Cindy and I got married. Thought it was so much fun, we did it again two months later in the Church. I was fresh in the Air Force, and stationed at Tyndall AFB outside of Panama City Beach, Florida. I was completing what was called "Follow on Training." This was training that was given on operational aircraft for three months prior to going to my permanent duty, Kadena AFB, in Okinawa, Japan. Cindy and I were engaged at to be married, and had plans for a late July wedding. The only hiccup was that, for Cindy to be on my orders, she had to be my wife, and not my fiancée. We then altered our plans to get married by Panama City Beach's Justice of the Peace. Two of my AF buddies came along as witnesses.

Down at the court house, the fairy tale wedding took a dose of reality. We were in line with others getting married. The two kids in front of us looked as if they both had turned 18 that morning, and the couple behind us, while much older, smelled of booze. And there we were: I was dressed in my AF Blues uniform, Cindy was in a white, knee length dress. Once we were called in, we were married. It seemed very quick. However, what was said by the JOP seemed to have more meat to it than I expected. After we each said "I do", we were pronounced husband and wife by the state of Florida.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

When compliments go Bad

Yesterday, I took the family out to Bush Gardens Williamsburg. Each year, we get season passes, and they offer a Virginia Resident pass that makes this very affordable. In addition, this year, Megan is tall enough to ride Apollo's Chariot – a hyper coaster that is one of the best in the park. Arriving at the park early, we were able to ride the coaster several times in succession. I finally had to say enough, but the kids rode two more times by themselves. Cindy sat near the exit, and I walked around trying to clear the motion sickness that I was experiencing. Coming back over to her, I was just amazed at how pretty she is, even more so than when we first met. I tried to come up with a unique compliment on the fly.

"I was over there checking you out. And then, I noticed it was you."

Cindy looked up at me, and said "So, you were checking other girls out? Gee Thanks."

"No, no, no…that's not what I meant!"

So, lesson out there guys – don't try out new compliments out off the cuff.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Way to go LJ

I just wanted to give out a shout out to one of my long time Virginia Buds who runs SimpleProductivityBlog. One of its articles was mentioned on LifeHacker and the hits to SimpleProductivity went through the roof. Anytime you have a mention on someone else's blog makes you feel fantastic, but to have your article read by thousands of new readers is fantastic.

Congrats!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Indiana Jones

Something struck me about the three theatrical adventures of Indiana Jones: the films never take themselves very seriously. As a twelve year old kid, I really thought Raiders of the Lost Ark was a serious film. But watching them over again yesterday, I noted a bit of whimsy, especially within the fight sequences. They are so overtly choreographed that they appear, well, overtly choreographed.

The Market Place fight from the first movie is the perfect example.

The German intelligence operative stands in an alleyway flanked by his Arab henchmen ready to attack our heroes. Indy and Marion continue to talk about their past, when she drops an article to the ground. Stooping to retrieve it, she inadvertently causes the first attacker to jump over her only to meet Indy's fist. Later, Indy dodges a sword thrust which impales an attacker behind him. A beat later, we see a reverse angle of the impaled victim which reveals the tip of the sword has fruit from the nearby stand on its end. Marion uses a frying pan to bean an assailant on the head when he follows her into a darkened doorway. And of course, the famous Sword Man who flourishes his weapon with great aplomb, only to be shot by Indy.

How do you take that seriously?

In Temple of Doom, the opening sequence is so un-Indiana, that you wonder if you put the right disc into the player. Even when the dancers do a split, and then the editors run the film backwards so that it appears the dancers are magically "un-splitting." Last Crusade has its jousting motorcycles and a close encounter with Adolf Hitler.

In a weird way it works by evoking the movie serials that are a bygone product of our parent's youth. And, I think that is what Lucas and Spielberg were going for. The question is, will Kingdom of the Crystal Skull continue to honor the movie serial? Perhaps this is what Lucas has been alluding to when he fears that fans might be disappointed with the film (he certainly took a bashing from the new Star Wars films). Maybe he fears that after a nineteen year hiatus, the twelve year old kids who saw Raiders in 1981 will have grown up too much and be too sophisticated for the cheesy traditions of the movie serials and the elements that made the first three movies so much fun to watch.

Birthday Movies

Starting in 2000, I have taken my birthday off from work. It started with just going out to the movie theater and catching three or four movies. I can remember that the first year, I saw Small Time Crooks, Dinosaur and Frequency. This continued until it stopped being fun: taking the whole day off and not seeing the kids. Not only was it not fun, but it felt a bit selfish. So, I started programming the movies so that I could watch them with the girls. Because this leads to astronomical prices at the theater, this has transitioned into movie marathons at home. The biggest one that we did was with all six Star Wars films a few years ago.

With the opening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this week, we revisited Indy's earlier adventures.

On Friday, we watched his very first adventures from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. I found it a bit droll, my wife was disappointed, but the kids loved it. An interesting tid-bit was that Indy was born in 1899. Monday, we delved into the first two films Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom. The unanimous decision was that Marion Ravenwood was a much better adventure companion than Willy Scott. After lunch, we went to Prince Caspian. I did not like this film as much as the first one, but it was absolutely gorgeous in terms of production. The acting was fine, but somewhere in the middle (I think it was during the fight of the two kings), I just wondered if I really cared about the characters or not. We returned home, played a round of Carcasonne, grabbed some dinner and then embarked on the last adventure of the day, The Last Crusade.

All in all, a fun way to spend the birthday.

Monday, May 19, 2008

40 Years Ago

My mom called to remind me that 40 years ago yesterday, she had Maurices' BBQ for dinner. At 5:47AM the next morning I was born. Hopefully, the two incidents are somehow not related. Anyways the plan for today is an Indiana Jones Movie Marathon with an outing to catch Prince Caspian.

My wife compiled some 1968 factoids to put up on my blog.

In 1968...

The median household income was $7,743, a postage stamp would cost you $0.05, a gallon of gas would set you back $.027 and a gallon of milk went for $1.07.

Snickers and Kit Kat were the most popular candy bars, and race fans really loved Richard Petty. The Jonas Brothers was the most popular band. Everyone was listening to Up, Up and Away.

The biggest change to hit the movie industry was the introduction of the MPAA rating system. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Funny Girl and Oliver were top grossing movies, but it was In the Heat of the Night that took home the Best Picture Oscar.

On Christmas Eve, the Apollo 8 orbited the moon, and man saw with his own eyes the dark side of the moon. The Christmas Eve broadcast of the orbit was the most watched TV program ever and the pilot's read from the book of Genesis.

And, in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr, Helen Keller, Upton Sinclair and John Steinback passed away.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

All in good fun

Ok. I am still a conservative with Republican leaning tendancies. Something that most (if not all) of my pals are not. They have bought into the idea that their guy is promising: change. I give them about three years to wake up and realize that Barack, like Bush, is a politician and by himself can not produce what he is promising. When it is all said and done, he's human and a policitian.

While the side show that is the Democratic Primary Race is entertaining, nothing is more entertaining than what McCain will do once he has been elected Emperor of the United States.


McCain Vows To Replace Secret Service With His Own Bare Fists