Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Plans

So, what are your plans for tonight?
This year will be the first year that the girls stay up with us until midnight. We were given a bunch of games that we are going to try out, eat some tacos, courtesy of Taco Bell, pop some corn and tune in to watch the ball drop.
Hopefully, the new year will kick off to a great new start with a nice sleep-in.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chuck @ Chuck's

Currently, I have the only sane seat in ChuckECheese (located in Rockville Maryland). We are in Maryland this weekend to help my father and brother in law celebrate their birthday.

But that is not why we are at CEC. I am having a rare pleasure of seeing my nieces play about. I feel bad that I do not see themm as much as I should. Looking for an activity to do, we landed at CEC.

The pizza just showed up, so I am gonna close this up and post outta here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

[ht to Rick for his license plate post]

I believe Cindy's favorite gift that I gave was a personalized license plate. To be honest, this was not an item that I had intended to give as a gift. I had to renew her tags at the end of the month, and I decided to look at what combinations were available for the Horse Enthusiast plate.

Some of the combinations I tried (but were taken) were
What I had planned to give her was a replacement license plate holder. I wanted to find a cute horsey one. I took the girls out to let them choose. Katie picked "Happiness is owning a Horse." As I was wrapping the holder up, it hit me. Print up the image above and tape it into the holder. And then, the coupe de grace was signing the package "To Mom" "From Bandit."

I believe Cindy was floored.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

To those of you who have increased my hit rate at the bottom, I want to wish you each a very merry Christmas.

To Rick, James, Todd, Steve and George – the gift of your friendship has been a treasure throughout the years. I am blessed beyond measure to have friends like you and I am thankful that we have been able to reconnect in this virtual blogsphere. Hopefully, we can reconnect sometime in the real world.

Blessings to all!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Chuck vs. the TV Series

Have you seen the show Chuck yet? My life is exactly like that (add about 15 years, throw in a wife and two kids and nix the entire FBI/CIA/Computer in the brain angle). I have mostly relegated the show to Tivo and catching up when I can. To date, I like it but at the same time I could live without it. Why? Because each episode tells a complete story – there is very little story arc. One of the other NBC shows that I was looking forward to was the Bionic Woman. I have yet to really care about any of the characters in this show. That's a shame because this show has many of the creative team from Battlestar Galactica, which is my favorite show (except for the fact that it is an even longer hiatus, thanks to the strike).

The show that I have enjoyed the most is Journeyman. Have you caught any of this? Too bad, because it looks like it did not get picked up. Journeyman has joined the ranks of Firefly, Jericho and Space: Above and Beyond as one season hits that had so much potential (I think Jericho was revived thanks to the fan base sending tons of peanuts to CBS execs in NY and LA). Journeyman was about a man, Dan, who suddenly begins to travel back in time. The phenomenon is completely out of his control and is preceded by headaches. His wife comes to believe that her husband is not crazy when, in the past, he buries his wedding ring underneath the spot where his patio would be built twenty years later. Dan's brother, a cop, thinks that Dan's unexplained absences are due to an old gambling habit. Whenever Dan is pulled back, there is someone whom he is supposed to help. Hints are given that may indicate that there is someone coordinating the travel, but sadly, we will never know.

Catch it on DVD (or if it should repeat).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Birds, Bees and “the talk”

I really have not had anything to say lately and thus the increase in video links here and about. It's not that I haven't had ideas brewing around. They are there, percolating like a fine cup of coffee, just waiting to be poured. This post is not one of those cups. Rather, it is a reaction to the headlines about the pregnancy of 16 year old Jamie Lynn Spears. I have no idea who this young lady is, but apparently, a lot of people do. Younger sister of Britney, Ms. Spears stars as Zoey in Nickelodean's "Zoey 101."

The headlines ask the question "How will you talk to your Kids about Sex and Teen Pregnancy?"

So, here is how we handled this subject this year. Last Christmas, I bought Cindy the book "Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman's Battle: Creative Conversations about Sexual and Emotional Integrity." Both of us read the book, and then we read it with Katie and Megan. As it turns out, Megan was too young and most of the concepts went over her head. But Katie, nine, understood and picked up on things fairly quickly. However, I could tell that my presence was a hindrance to the conversation. Cindy and Katie continued to work through the book almost all year.

Cindy has told me about questions that Katie will ask her, out of the blue. Even though the book is done, the conversation is still continuing.

Merry Christmas All!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hide Chuck

LJ showed me the Ultimate Disappearing act provided by Google!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tis The Season

A little bit of me playing at the Senior's Christmas Banquet. A little nerves, some intonation issues, more air, but, overall, I was pleased with how it turned out.

Another Unoriginal Christmas Idea

Thanks Jorge!

That is harder than it looks!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Get yours at

Saturday, December 08, 2007

All I wanted for Christmas

back in 1975

Around the house.

It's Saturday, and some in the family are running around with snotty noses and sore throats. Personally, I just feel tired. I can't seem to "sleep in" anymore. Perhaps it's the coffee. Coincidentally, I don't feel that I stay up as late as I use to. Signs of age?

I survived hanging the Christmas lights on the house. Thankfully, I put my foot down and said "no" to those blasted "icicle" style lights. Bloody pain to hang up if you ask me. Instead, Cindy purchased four boxes of colored lights (single strand style) to edge the front eaves. Unfortunately, the shrubs have grown to a size that makes getting the step ladder wedged in more difficult. It has become easier to go out a second story window and clip them on.

Amazingly, I was able to sneak some shopping in to the mix following my monthly haircut. I have noticed that the corners of my temples seem longer (or maybe the hair is retreating there). I am trying to pace myself so that I am not waking up and finding that I need to do all of my shopping on the final weekend.

And now, to find my book.

Beer Bottle Symphony

And now for something completely different:
ht Mike.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Viva Knievel

There are a few things that I can remember with crystal clarity from my childhood. September 8, 1974 was one of those days. We had just come home from North Augusta, and I had learned that Evel Knievel did not make the Snake River Canyon Jump. Oh how I cried. The man was larger than life and he was, at the time, a hero of mine. Over the years, he had dropped of my radar until I read this morning that he had died.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Five for Five

Ok, here we go...
1. What are your five favorite Christmas Songs
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas
  • O Holy Night
  • Carol of the Bells
  • It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas

2. Five Foods you look forward to at Christmastime

  • Spiced Apple Cider
  • Banana Pudding
  • Cindy's mashed potatoes (non-weight watcher recipe)
  • Turkey
  • Various Christmas Confections

3. Five Favorite Presents of All Time

  • Captain Kirk Action Figure (3rd Grade)
  • Trampoline (family gift)
  • First DVD Player (still using it)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark Soundtrack (LP and still have it)
  • Hand Held Space Invaders Game (sixth grade)

4. What are your five favorite holiday-themed TV Specials

  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Burger Meister Meister Burger Rules)
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (Who knew that Bumbles Float?)
  • Frosty the Snow Man (Happy Birthday)
  • Charlie Brown's Christmas Special (Remember the CBS Logo that preceeded these shows?)
  • And of course, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

5. Top 5 holiday-themed Films

  • Scrooge (Thank you very much, that's the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me).
  • Miracle on 34th Street (The Cane in the corner chokes me up everytime)
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Christmas Story (This was my first date movie in 10th grade)
  • Die Hard (Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.) an added bonus, I give you the Star Wars Holiday Special. Aired only once.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Sometime around midday yesterday, I came to the conclusion that I had the krud that has been passed around the house. No aches, just major congestion. Of course, this could not have happened last week. No, it has to wait until the week when I have two sites that are launching.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

1,189.8 Miles, and I am home

I am now back at the keyboard, so, my post will probably return to their normal, long winded self. But, we made it in one piece without the usual "off route" track through North Carolina.

The total mileage for this years run: 1, 189.8 Miles.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hitting the Road

The great SC roadtrip 07 is coming to a close as we are preparing for breakfast and the ride home to VA.

Yesterday's breakfast with Rick and George was a blast. Todd, you were missed. I hope that we can start a new tradition for the saturday after thanksgiving.

Pictured here is Selma (as in Hayek) with the Legendary Jeeves.

The trip to Evans GA was brief, and I had a great visit with my Grandmother Bryan. She is doing remarkably well. In the commons area, I did spy a WII, so I am thinking that late at night the residents get together for some WII sports slam downs.

I really had to feel bad for the Gamecocks. Not only did they loose their fifth game in a row, they lost to their in state rival. The hard part was that the defence looked so much better and the offense was being productive. Hopes of one more game is slim to none.

Overall, a great trip. I hate to see it come to an end. Normally, we are back in Cola around July. Hopefully, next year, I can take a few more extended weekends.

Stuck in Yankee Candle

After one minute in Yankee Candle, my nose is drunk with a number of conflicting smells. Please honey, just pick something.

Back in Cola Town

Ahhh. It's great to be back in Columbia. Especially on the Carolina Clemson game weekend. Now, if I can score some Bojangles, this could turn into a perfect weekend.

Tommorrow is going to be great when I meet some of my longtime friends and fellow bloggers for breakfast. Should be a good time. And for those of you who can't make it due to distance, we will drink a coffee for you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


This is a first post from my treo as I am sitting outside of a cracker barrel in myrtle beach, South Carolina. The queue time is about twenty minutes, so I decided to try and crank out a post. The tiny keyboard is proving to be quite the challenge for my overly large thumbs. The trip to CB was rather spontaneous: the desire was to reduce the cooking duties on my grandmama.

The trip down was remarkedly uneventful. I was in a foul mood to start off, and played the role of angry redfaced kid to a tee. Not trying to excuse bad behavior.

I hope that Cindy and I can catch a movie today. There are several that I want to see, but I am not sure what Cindy would think of them. We'll see.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Twas the week before Thanksgiving

Can you honestly believe that next week, the majority of us will be declaring that we ate too much? Personally, I am looking forward to it! Why? Because I will be eating at Grand-mama's House, and she is one good cook.

I look forward to driving down to South Carolina to see her, and each year, I really hope that I get another chance to do so. And my girls love going to see her. They call her house a cottage, but, to me, it has always seemed much bigger. I tell them that her father and brother built that house. I love the idea of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade more than actually watching it. The kid in me still likes to pull out the adverts from the Sun News to see what toys and gadgets will be sold on Friday. Mom and Dad will arrive before lunch, and Cindy and I "sneak" off in the afternoon to catch a movie down at the beach.

Friday, we leave after lunch to go to Columbia. I am looking forward to having Breakfast with the Boys. I hope this will become an annual tradition with my fellow Spy Hunters/Bloggers Rick, George and Todd (I am sure a plethora of pictures will permeate our respective blogs). That afternoon, we head west on I-20 to Evans Georgia where we will rendezvous with my Grandmother Bryan for a lunch and visit. I wish we had more time to visit my aunts and uncles. Perhaps I just need to schedule one more day. Saturday evening is an optional movie outing, but Sunday is the return to Virginia (heavy traffic and an inevitable detour through NC ~ thank goodness for Tom Tom).

And to think, it is only a week away.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Meet the new member of the family


PVP Trek Reference

I like this strip PVP (Player vs. Player). This week, the boys have been in training to play the new Halo Game. Even though they had never played a console game, they managed to win.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Trek Ploy, circa September 1990

Steve posted a story about one of our high school friends, who happened to show up in a comment chain over on Fourth Row Center. The comment chain is very funny, and shows the power of Google as they are talking about Martha M. and who shows up? Martha!

Perfectly Brilliant. You have to love this stuff.

But on to my Star Trek Ploy Story.

Steve describes himself as a Star Trek Fan, not a fanatic, but more loyal than most. I describe myself as a Closet Trek Fan. I discovered this when I met some real Trek Fans. In September of 1990, I scored a pair of tickets to a Star Trek Marathon. The only hitch is that the movies were showing in Atlanta (approximately four hours from Columbia). James, my room mate at the time, and I had previously driven out to Augusta, Georgia to catch a couple of flix, but this ploy was going to involve some real mileage.

Once there, we realized that we were both under dressed.

Not to be dissuaded, we made our way to the fourth row, center seats. Upon settling in, we were asked, by a Trekkie sitting behind us, to move. He did not want his view of the bottom edge of the screen obscured. Not all Trek Fans are nice. Jay told him, in kind words, to bugger off.

During Spock's burial scene, a lady sitting next to me began sobbing. By sobbing, I mean big, wet, heavy, snotty sobbing, as if she had really lost someone in her family. Jay and I are overcome with the giggles, and the more we tried to suppress them , the worse they became. I tried to comfort her with the words "He'll be back in two hours," but she was inconsolable.

This marathon was held shortly after Roddenberry died and had been scheduled in preparation of Trek's 25th Anniversary. The highlight of the night was a sneak peak at Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country coming out in December. The low point was gutting it through Star Trek V. Looking back on it, we should have planned to spend the night in Atlanta, but we didn't. It was a long drive back to Columbia, a long day, and a successful ploy.

I had come to realize that I was not quite the Star Trek Fan that I thought I was, but merely a Closet Trekkie.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

American Girls

Realizing that I missed the Halloween special, here is a picture of Katie and Megan dressed up as Felicity and Elizabeth: American Girls! Both girls hail from the town of Williamsburg in the Virginia Colony.

Felicity, shown astride her horse Penny, is a Patriot, while Elizabeth's family remains loyal to the crown.

Boiling Some P-Nuts

James has inspired me. I am boiling my very first batch of P-Nuts.

I live next to the Peanut Capital of Virginia, Suffolk, and I have never taken raw, green peanuts and dropped them into boiling water. This football season, I have been eating them roasted. But the problem with roasted peanuts is the debris that they leave behind (couch, carpet and weekend t-shirts). No, I think boiled would decrease the mess.

And that is why I put a call to my mom today to get an idea of how much salt to use. She likes to use a lot.

This part scares me, and I had to send Cindy out for more when I ran out. So there they are, a package of green peanuts enjoying a simmering bath, while I wait for the Gamecocks to take the field. Hopefully, they will redeem the past two weeks and stomp the Razorbacks.

Home Away From Home

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Ephesians 5:2-4 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
One aspect of being a Christian is a responsibility to the one who redeemed us. When I think of the word redeem, I think back on those Green Back Stamps mom would get at the Piggly Wiggly (down the street from George I. Pair). You would collect those stamps and then, when you had a lot of them, you could redeem an item from the Green Back Stamp Catalog.

And that is my life. I have been purchased for a price, and my body is no longer my own. So how am I to act? Sure, it's a work in progress that will never be complete, but that's were my Joy comes from.

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Wednesday Night

Hot Dog! Wednesday Night and no Orchestra Rehearsal because it's Halloween. Also, work let out around 4:00 today, so that meant something last minute was going to come up for me. And it did. NBD as they say.

I say this every year, but I have to say it again: If you come trick or treating and are over the age of 12, you should have one killer costume. This coming up dressed as a 16 year old just doesn't cut it. Besides, I'll give you those cheap dumdums and keep the top tier candy for the cute kids coming around the block.

So, what kind of PBJ do you like: crunchy or smooth? Jam or Jelly?

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Cat's out of the Bag.

Katie lost another tooth last night. Well, that was the start of it. Sitting around dinner table, she commented that the Tooth Fairy was coming to give her four quarters. A few minutes later, both girls were laughing as they figured out (and had confirmed) that mom and dad (mostly mom) had been playing the role of Tooth Fairy.

As the dust was settling, Megan, laughingly, asks about Santa Claus.

I had not been looking forward to this question for several reasons. I have never had issue with Santa Claus because to me, SC represents a bit of fantasy and magic that is real to little kids. And, let's face it, after SC, there is not much magic left for a kid. They are definitely on the road to adulthood. The second reason was a fear planted by someone not too long ago. If the kids figured you lied about SC, what else have you lied about (the implication being that maybe mom and dad have lied about Jesus).

Putting on the best "you found us out" look and hanging our heads, we confessed to being Santa Claus. The kids reaction was unexpected: they laughed. "You ate the cookies?", "How did you get Butterscotch?", "Where did you get the Pet Shop from?" I probably should give them more credit. So, we asked them if they want us to still play Santa, or do they want us to wrap up their presents.

Both wanted them wrapped.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Comfort Zone

Yesterday, I took a half day at work. Our small group was preparing and serving meals at the Judeo Christian Outreach Center. I knew the location, and as it turns out, I had worked in a building that was a block away from the Center. What was neat was involving the kids in this project. As we were leaving, Katie looks at me, a little worried, and said "I don't want to feed the old people." I got down on her level and explained that this wasn't that type of place, but rather a place were people could go for food and shelter. The people were not necessarily old, but, did not have very much, if any, money.

We got there around 4:00, and started preparing the food we had brought. Other class members began showing up, and at 6:00, we were serving the people who had come. By 6:20, it was over. I found Katie and asked how it went (over at the drink station). She said it went great, and that she was glad she came.

This type of activity is definitely not in my comfort zone. But, it is one that grows me, just in the same way a good Bible study would. I forget what a "servant to all" looks like if I never become a servant to anyone. I hope that I am giving enough opportunities to the girls to get the bigger picture. The outreach center was an easy place to start (almost prepackaged), so where can we go from here?

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Biblical Racketeering

What many students of Biblical History do not realize is the organized mob and racketeering operations headed up by none other than the Apostle Paul. It had gotten so bad in Galatia, that certain brethren had to rob Peter to pay Paul.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


It took me completely by surprise. I have known him for nearly six years, but I hadn't even a clue that Dumbledore was gay. My initial reaction was a mixture of denial and disbelief. Who better than the author to know the secret lives of her characters? Perhaps what sticks in my throat is that she allowed me to develop my own mental picture of Dumbledore, and then completely changed it with one press meeting. I feel somewhat duped.

But, I will share with you something what is going on in the cellar, something I will need to work out.

Since entering the world of Harry Potter, I have had to either justify my enjoyment of the books to fellow Christians, or completely avoid the subject. I see the witches and wizards of the Potterverse in the same vein that I see the wizards of Tolkien's works - pure fantasy. I do not put them in the same category as the Bible's "do not suffer a witch" verse. On the literary side, there is fantasy, and on the other, folks who tap into demonic powers. Has the Potterverse made me anymore accepting of the palmreaders in town? Not at all.

But now, I have to consider homosexuality, another topic with biblical directives. Can I still enjoy and recommend / defend the stories knowing that a main character is gay?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Monday, as usual, followed Sunday this week.

What a beautiful day Sunday turned out to be: cloudless blue skies, low humidity. Perhaps it would be better than the disappointment from Saturday's Gamecock Football Game. But Sunday had to be, after all, it was Katie's tenth birthday. We came home from church with an extra kid in tow, a friend for the day's main activity: horseback riding. Following a quick lunch at the BK Lounge, cake and ice cream, I pointed the car to Suffolk and the Mulholland Ranch. Once we got the horses saddled and warmed up, Miss Connie took us out for a trail ride. Katie was on her favorite horse, Red Dog, and I followed on Cha Chi. At one point in the woods, Katie was holding the reigns in her right hand, left hand free at her side, and she was singing. Joy. Back at our house, I crashed, but Katie cried: she was already missing Red Dog.


Back to the usual nine to five. The day before seemed almost surreal: so different from what I was doing now that it seemed like a dream. My boss asked me if I wanted to go have lunch at the Swan Terrace and interview a new candidate that we hope will come work for us. Previous times that I have been there it had been busy, but not today. After a while, I notice a cop walk in, look about and then exits. Interesting. Then, Pat Robertson enters and heads straight to the buffet. My initial impression is that Pat looks much older in person than on TV. My next impression, after eating a shrimp directly from the buffet and putting the empty tail back down, is equally impressive.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

My 10 Things

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?
10 years ago tonight, I was watching Father of the Bride II. I only remember that because my daughter was born the next morning, and I could not get the music out of my head/
2. What were you doing one year ago?
Trying to reseed my lawn and begin and honest attempt at learning how to mange the verge.
3. What are five snacks you enjoy?
Ah, easy one. That would be Dry Roasted Peanuts, Popcorn, Goobers, Kettle Chips and Chipwich
4. What are five songs that you know the lyrics to?
Unfortunately, these will mostly be songs by Sting or the Police: Moon over Bourbon Street, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Walking on the Moon, So Lonely, All This Time.
5. Name five things you would do if you were a millionaire.
Again, somewhat easy, but perhaps rather boring. Finish my Emergency Fund, Make sure retirement is funded, fund the kids college, pay of the mortgage, Live like no one else.
6. Name five bad habits.
Late night snacking, spending too much time on the computer, procrastinating, eating too quickly, drink too much coffee
7. What are five things you like to do?
Watch movies, read books, spend time on the computer (see above), play video games, spend time with the girls (all three of them)
8. What are your five favorite toys?
XBox 360, Tom Tom, Tivo, Harmony Remote, Darth Tater
9. What are five things you would never wear?
Speedo, Leather Pants, Muscle Shirt, Low Rider Jeans, Ghostbuster T-Shirt
10. Name five things you hate to do.
Go to the Mall, Fill out Status Reports, Work on the weekends, Anything involving a ladder, Scrub Pans

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Welcome Old Pal

I like introducing my high school pals, and tonight I am happy to say that Steve has finally thown his hat into the ring. Steve and I met in freshman science class, where we were the bane of some guy named Bobby. I knew that I was going to like Steve when he and I broke out into a scene from Bladerunner while in the old downtown Taps department store. We would go on to lose many quarters together at the Barrel of Fun as well as pass many lunch hours in Rosco's room playing D&D or just watching a movie.

Graduating high school put us on a different path. Steve had some wild idea that he wanted to go into the Air Force and fly F16. So, off he went to the Citadel while I went to USC to be a Physics/Music Ed major. Our paths would cross in between semesters and somehow, we always managed to show up at the annual Todd and Jay birthday bash together. There was a rumor that we were gay lovers, but, it was only a rumor. Besides, I could never go with a guy who wore a Tan Members Only Jacket. Grey is the Only Way.

As it turned out, I did neither Physics nor Music Education because I got some wild idea that I wanted to load bombs on F16s. As it turned out, I ended becoming a mechanic on F15s and I think Steve became a maintenance officer. And then he became a pilot on the C17. At our 10 year High School reunion, I remember him telling stories of flying into Bosnia in the fog.

So, I am glad that Steve has planted his flag into the blogsphere. My only advice is write. Even if it is goofy, even if you find yourself disagreeing. Write about whatever, it is your space. Let your pals know about your family and all that good stuff.

See you over at

Friday, October 12, 2007

Debt is Dumb

I think debt is a dumb idea that has been sold to us as a necessary part of life. I like how the New American Standard puts it: The borrower becomes the lender's slave. I am particularly anti-credit card, as it is one of the easiest method to get an unsecured loan (try it at Kohl's. You can get one while you check out). I closed and cut up my last card this past March, and have not used a credit card since last November. My goal is to one day have a credit scar, er, score of 0.


Wanna know more, check this out:

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Just a few thoughts rumbing around...

Sometimes, reading a familiar verse in a different translation helps bring a fresh perspective. I had that happen with Phillipians this weekend:
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh-- though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Php 3:3-7)
Perhaps my caffeine levels have been getting dangerously close to normal, or maybe I am just getting contemplative, but somehow, I wonder if I have missed something in my walk? Paul gives this incredible resume, a Jew among Jews, and he counted all of this as a loss. Granted, Paul sets the bar pretty high, but am I spending too much time in areas I am concerned about (weight, money, job etc)?

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Payday Part Deux - A Lesson

So, the kids got their commission dollars (all of five of them) for their hard work this past week. They put away some give, some save and some spend. And what do they want to do? Spend, of course.

Cindy and I are really gritting our teeth, but this is part of it. This lesson is that $2.00 is not a lot of money, especially when you consider tax. Ah, teachable moments. The best thing that happened was that Katie took a quarter that she had left over and bought some M&Ms from a dispenser for her sister.


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Pay Day

Since applying the principals of Total Money Makeover and attending Financial Peace University, Cin and I have decided that it is time to start teaching the kids about money. So, we have put them on commission. Ok, you might call it an allowance, but the word implies entitlement. The word Commission reminds them that if they work, they get paid. If they don't work, you don't get paid.

So the kids get five dollars a week for various chores. Today was fun, because it was the first payday. Their eyes lit up as I pulled out the ten one dollar bills and started counting them out (with a little drama and some flair).

There are three things we can do with money that we are trying to teach them: spend, save and give. To that end, they have three envelopes labeled with the names of those three things. We asked them to find a savings goal that would take them a while to save for. Katie has a model horse, and Megs is still thinking.

I hope this helps to begin teaching them things about money that I never knew, including insurance, investing, etc. But, one step at a time.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

American Idol ... Not!

So, today at 5:00, I get a call that says we have overpaid some speakers, and we need to go back into a database that was purchased over a year ago and see what the former company had contracted to pay them.


I find the back up of this database (which I had never seen), restored it and started digging into 100+ tables looking for something that would appear to me to be the information. Around 7:00, I finish and start to head home. One of my managers wanted to talk to me on the way out, and to be honest, I was only half listening. Sorry. I am not very good after 6:40.

Also, tomorrow is Cindy's Birthday, so I knew that I was taking the girls out to Bed, Bath and Beyond (and, Way Beyond). Luckily, they had scoped it out the day before, so they knew what they wanted to get, and they had their money ready. Thankfully, I had finished my shopping at lunch and all that was left was to sign cards and bake a cake. Did I mention my in-laws are in town.

I get in the car, pop in my headset and call Cindy to let her know that I am on my home. Then, I fire up the MP3 player, and throw on some tuneage. The headset was bothering me, so I took it off, I was struggling with it, but I did get it out and set in the cup holder.

Unknown to me, I had accidentally redialed home.

There I am, heading down the highway, singing in that way that you only sing when you know that you are alone. Or so I thought. After what my wife said to be about two minutes later, I realized that my phone was on. Oh, the horror and embarrassment. Cindy had a great laugh, and I was thankful she did not put me on speaker phone.

Or so she claims. Anyways, Happy Birthday Honey.

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Friday, September 28, 2007


The popular cliche, "Thank God it's Friday", seems to sum up the American feeling about work. Work is a bitter pill, an inevitable evil, and necessary only as a tradeoff to do what we really enjoy. Unfortunately, it even seems a badge of honor to hate your job and despise the boss.

Dan Miller
48 Days to the Work You Love

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cromer's Peanuts

While trolling on websites this morning, trying to sooth the stings of yesterday's thumping of USC by LSU, I came across the Cromer's Peanuts Web site.

Guess what? They are still guaranteed worst in town.

What a slice of nostalgia this morning. I mostly remember the store they had in Dutch Square with the real monkeys in the glass cages. As a kid, that added so much to the Cromer's experience. As an adult, I can only imagine what the store employees had to go through on the upkeep of the animals.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Snopes It, Please

I am taking submissions for a new Urban Legend Email that I would like to take credit for writing. In fact, I would like to get three or four, and then release them in the wild, and see if they ever come home. UL-Email, to me, is an art form. And like all art, is sometimes misunderstood. I see a simple beauty in knowing that your email will be read, and then forwarded to millions of people each day. Why waste time writing a novel only to never have it published, read and never appreciated when a good UL will cause grandparents to fret and worry and pass the message on? Ah, literary immortality: to become the J.R.R. Tolkien of Spam.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Adult Growth Network: Financial Peace University

This fall, our church is offering "Financial Peace University" as part of the Growth Network. As I have shared before in this blog, Cindy and I have read "The Total Money Makeover" and are finally on the same page when it comes to our finances.

For many years, my idea of being responsible was making sure that the mortgage, electricity, gas, cable, direct tv bills got paid and that there was money for groceries and gas. Beyond that, the money could go where ever it wanted (and it would). Cindy saw the other side of the picture: doctor visits, birthday gifts, hair appointments, extra curricular activities.

When we started our baby steps, we were very fortunate. We had $7,000 tied up in a car, visa and a kohl's charge card. We had about $1,800 in savings. Baby Step one was to have $1,000 in an emergency fund. The hardest part of baby step one was taking $800 out to pay of the Kohl's account and put some onto visa. We finished Baby Step two in march when we received our refund from taxes and was able to pay of the remainder.

What really changed here was our mindset and that we did a zero dollar budget on paper, on purpose, before the start of each month. That means, we put each dollar of my paycheck into a category (including one called blow). The first few months were hard, but we have gotten better at this with each new month. The second biggest difference was moving more towards cash than the visa debit/check card. Not for all categories, but mainly food (grocery/restaurant) and blow.

So I was really excited about starting FPU. I had met the coordinators and the husband was about as weird as I was. In my mind, I was ready for this: I had read the books, listened to the radio shows. You could (and still can) call me a Dave Fan.

And then I started hearing the stories from people I know. And started hearing their situations with money, with getting spouses on board. I realize now that I had it rather easy. For us, Baby Step one was a passing second, for some people, this is going to represent months of savings. I felt really bad for my pre-class attitudes. I envisioned going in and everyone was going to be like me! But there are people who are really hurting, even in the walls of our church. I felt ashamed, and that night was face down praying for forgiveness of my attitude and for the people in the class. I don't want to be like one of Job's friends, but I do want to tell them that there is hope. Just stick with it. Something like that.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

After School Special

Hopefully studying English.

9/11 - Never Forget

It is this generation's Perl Harbor: an attack that made it perfectly clear to everyone that the country we hold dear is also hated dearly by others. This morning, my thoughts are with the family members of flight 93, probably because of a documentary that I watched on sunday. Now, I have faces to associate with names of Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham and Jeremy Glick.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Iron Man

Well, I know where I will be on May 2, 2008.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Psalm 27:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

You are the strength, that keeps me walking.
You are the hope, that keeps me trusting.
You are the light to my soul.
You are my're everything.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Today was the last day of our Busch Gardens Season Fun Pass. We were there from 10:00am - 5:30pm. It was our longest visit of the season, and I think we hit each of the major areas.

Since the park was not as crowded, we gave the girls a little more freedom to ride some of the rides by themselves. They handled it well, and they really got a kick out of getting to be on their own. It was kinda nice to be able to sit down for a while.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jiminy Crickets

I've probably posted more this week than I have in a month of mondays, and that's no mistake.
So, without further ado, here is a matrimony of the Simpsons (yes, I watch...Homer makes me laugh) and Star Wars.


Put down your milk glasses.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

When it is all said and done.

When it is all said and done, Miss South Carolina will be a You Tube Icon for a long time, right up there with Numa Numa and Star Wars Kid. She will give us many laughs, clearly demonstrating the power of blond.

And, as all of us Airport High School graduates will point out, she graduated from Lexington High.

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There is nothing like getting a phone call from your wife telling you the stove is on fire while stuck in traffic.

It wasn't a "drippings" kind of fire, but something that looked more like a sparkler on the fourth of July: white hot, and slowly following the path of the bake element. Cindy emptied the fire extinguisher on it, but to no avail. After hitting every possible stoplight on Greenbrier, I made it home as she decided to call 911 for a little assistance.

As she was talking to the non-911 911 attendants that you get when you sign up for Vonage, it lazily passed through my mind that maybe turning the breaker off might be a good idea. Turns out that not only was it a good idea, it stopped the march of the acetylene light ("a working man works till the industry dies").

I put a call into our appliance guy. Most likely will pay way too much for what I know to be a $30.00 part.

And, it's not every post I get to work a Sting Lyric in!!

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Men as Trees, Walking

Last night, I got a chance to teach the small group lesson. It was a continuation on Mark chapter 8,which includes the healing of the blind man in two stages. During the first stage, the man says he sees men, but the look like walking trees. Jesus touches him again, and the man sees clearly.

I told them the story of Virgil, a man who had his sight restored after being blind for 50 years. He had a cataract removed and a lens replaced. He was able to see, but was confused by what he saw - he couldn't make sense of what he saw.

I suggested that the disciples were like Virgil. They had seen all the miracles, heard the teachings, but still, they had spiritual Agnosia. Aren't we like that too? Is it is because we are looking in a mirror darkly, or maybe God has just not revealed something to us. Jesus extended lots of patience to his twelve; we should have the same patience with ourselves and others.

Men as Trees, Walking would be a great band name.

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Preventive Maintenance

I was all dressed and ready to go this morning, when I felt the dreaded twinge of pain in my neck. It wasn't nearly as bad as it has been when I have had to get muscle relaxers, but I thought I use the heating pad treatment. I did get a chance to watch GMA's "Back to School" feature. The topic was purchasing a laptop for your 5th, 10th and College student. The slant was you need to purchase for your child. When interviewing the different age groups what they use the computer for, you heard: games, music, chatting with friends, movies and an essay. I guess our kids will just have to use the same old computer they used last year (and the year before).

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Godly Watermelon

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food: and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so.
Genesis 1:29-30

Today, Cindy returned from the Farmer's Market with our weekly watermelon. Cutting through the rind revealed the sweet red tissue inside. We started to pick at it when this verse came to mind. God created fruits and vegetables to be our food, and just how perfect they are.

Virginia is for Lovers Campaign

When Cindy told me about this, it sounded like an Apprentice challenge gone horribly wrong.

You probably heard of the "Virginia is for Lovers", with the "O" replaced with a heart. It's been around for as long as I can remember. The state's tourism agency decided to update the slogan by adding "Live Passionately" into the slogan. The ad slicks include a women who is using both hands to make a heart.

Cute enough, right?

Sure, unless some spent $400,000 dollars and didn't realize that the hand symbol was also a sign associated with the Gangster Disciples gang, a Chicago based gang known for its large-scale crack cocaine operations.


Of course, at $400,000, couldn't they come up with something better than "Live Passionately?"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Smallville Crack

I swore that after the "Great Buck Rodgers" disaster last year, I would not let myself get hooked into a new tv dvd series. That has come to an end as I have just added Smallville Season 3 to my Netflix Queue.

With so many discs coming in, I accidentally skipped disc 2 of season 2. This will probably explain some the oddities associated with missing some of the story arc (seriously, I thought I must have fallen asleep).

Anyways, if you haven't seen the show, it plays a lot like Beverly Hills 90210 meets X-Files: Everyone is gorgeous, and there are many Mutants. The mutant motif dies off once the series picks up steam and the character arcs start to develop. So, if you are looking for a new series to get hooked on, try Smallville.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Club.

When I say "The 700 Club," I can almost hear you groan. But, we live very close to the CBN property, along with Regent University. Just last week, I had a very nice lunch at the Swan Terrace at CBN. One of our friends is a producer for the spanish version of "The 700 Club" (arguably better because of less Pat).

Today, another friend from church has asked to use Cindy and Megan as actresses in a piece that he is producing for air. The piece is on an older lady, and Cindy and Megan will be used as part of a flash back.

Division Champ

Katie did very good at her first show. It was new to all of us, so I will describe the division that she competed.

She entered in the Walk and Trot division. In this division, the rider brings their pony along the outer rail of the arena. Once the riders are in position, an announcement is made that they are now being judged. The judges are looking at the riders' posture: back up straight, heels down, shoulders back, hands still and low.

Then the judges ask the riders to bring the pony to a trot. When the rider transitions from the walk to the trot, they might have to change their diagonals. This basically means that they need to rise and fall with the horse. The judges are scoring the rider and making sure their diagonals are correct.

The riders are asked to turn their ponies around and proceed in the opposite direction. At one point, the judges asked the riders to go into the two-point position.

Finally, the riders line up in the center with their backs to the judges so that they can see the rider's number. A first, second and third place is announced, and then, the process repeats two more times. After the third time, an overall champion is announced.

Katie did a fantastic job. She won first place on the the first two cycles, second place on the third and overall champion for the division.

Personally, as her dad, I was so nervous for her. When she went through the gates, I had to remind myself to breath. I have never been a competitive type, and I am really glad to see both of my girls find themselves in a sport.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

So, That's What They Do


Katie has been taking riding lessons for years, but has never been in a show. That's kinda hard if you do not have a horse of your own (or are leasing one). But, she was asked to show a horse on Sunday. Scrambling around, we have pieced the uniform together.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tighty Whitey

My pal George has put up a blog called Tighty Whitey.

I have known George since the first grade. At one point, I thought George I Pair Elementary School was named after him. He was part of a group of guys that formed what, for lack of a better phrase, my gang. Always the comedian, George has a strong musical talent that took him into the professional world of Christian Rock. Of course, I knew him as part of the duo "Nicholson and Green," and I only recently discovered his alter rockin' life. George also was a guy who taught me the importance of not letting your anger get you, as I once punched him. I know that we have laughed about it since, and all has been forgiven, but it is an instance that shaped me into who I am today. It was not a pleasant lesson.

George recently taught me that Democrats can be Christian too, and God doesn't carry political card for any party. In fact, He authorizes those parties to exists. I made what I thought would be a funny comment, and George took me to task on it. Did I really not know this already? Of course I did, but it also reminded me that I need to be careful about what I write.

But the memory of George that I carry with me was an event after my sister died. I had just gone back to school and first period was P.E. I remember being in the weight room and just being overcome again with grief. I did not want to cry in front of the guys, so I left to the hallway. George saw me and came out after me. He may have said something, I really don't remember. What I do remember was that he was there.

So...Give one of the last surviving members of Mrs. Yonce's "Wild and Crazy Guys" a look. He's a great guy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Life Takes Visa?

First, I must admit that I still like my debit card: I do not know what I would do without "Pay at the Pump." However, I have experienced an empowering feeling when paying with cash. Unlike the new Visa commercials, which would have you believe that paying with cash not only inconveniences those around you but leads to business loss due to cash being a slower transaction, I have found it to be quicker. And, you feel like you hit the lotto by having exact change. Not to mention, you spend less. Studies show that you tend to spend 17% more when you pay with any kind of plastic. McDonalds studies have shown that people tend to buy 40% more with plastic. So, not only are we getting fat, we are getting broke. I do not have to log in all of those receipts into MS Money and it paying with cash helps me stay on budget.

After watching Maxed Out and In Debt We Trust, I really dislike the credit card companies. I no longer have one and I have not used on since November. Hopefully, one day, I will have a nice FICO score of 0.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Griffon

Katie and I rode this today in the front row. It was completely awesome.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


More videos like this available from Great News Network

I did not write at all about this when I initially posted. Perhaps that was a blogging no-no as it is easier to post videos that intrigue me that writing about what it was in the video that sparked my thoughts.

In this case, it was motivation.

I am not sure how effective tract witnessing is, but that is me limiting what the Holy Spirit can do. What catches me in this video is that I am that guy who would be more willing to do something if there was one hundred dollars attached to it. Deep down I wonder why I am not more motivated to do things in love. The verse references made (treasures in heaven) are oft used during Stewardship messages, but this video moved that verse into context.

Anyways, that's all.

Really Gone!

This past couple of months have been extremely busy for Cindy and I; July was but a blur. It seems like it was yesterday that I was going to see Transformers in DLP, but, that was already a month ago.

The big event that happened at work was taking a promotion to Director of Software Development. It pretty much ends my professional coding career, but not my love for coding. There was one week that I got a little depressed about it: did I make the right decision? This position is not well defined, and so I do not feel that I see real, tangible proofs that I am doing what is expected of me. Already, I am having to deal with performance issues, and I find that I have to put aside my own likes or dislikes and tell it like it is.

Cindy and I painted two rooms. I realized, after the paint was dry, that our color scheme sorta matches Starbucks. However, for the record, Cindy picked the colors. I just applied them and hung up the new curtains.

We made our annual trip to Buffalo the second week of July. You know, it's not the beach, but I really look forward to it. I got a chance to chill out at the movies and Borders (btw, my coffee beverage of choice is now, officially, the Americano) drinking some of Seattle's Best. I never did get to see Die Hard, but I did catch Order of the Phoenix on opening day.

The best part, of course, is getting to see my bud Lorne. I would say that over the past 10 years we have spent maybe 24 hours together. But Lorne is a kindred spirit and I connect with him. The best part is just watching where God has brought him. From my perspective, it is like watching clouds rolling on time lapse photography, so I see this movement very clearly. Lorne is a writer, and has a heart for teens. Also, he is a gamer. Not a video gamer, but a gamer. Over the years, we have played everything from Clay wars (build a monster out of Clay and engage in battles) to WWII Table Top War Gaming using the Green and Tan Plastic Army Men. He uses games as a venue to minister to teens at his church. What I think is really cool is that he does not bring an evangelistic message to the gaming table, but gives the kids a role model of a healthy Christian guy. This makes it very open for the kids to bring friends who might not necessarily come to church.

The kids went to South Carolina to spend the week at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I really intended to be there longer, but it turned into a quick turn trip for Cindy and I. Rick, I apologize, but I will have to take that coffee with you at Panera's on another trip. With the week free of kids, Cindy completed the painting just in time for them to come back.

And that was July.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


There is truth to be announced. If you start losing that, you really step outside what Christianity is. The gospel is something to be taught and to be believed. It is not something simply to be experienced.

DON CARSON (Professor, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rimshot, Please

The latest telephone poll taken by the South Carolina Governor's office, asked whether people who live in South Carolina think illegal immigration is a serious problem:

29% of respondents answered: "Yes, it is a serious problem."

71% of respondents answered: "No es una problema seriosa."

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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Microsoft Surface

Coming soon to your living room. Check out the three videos here for an overview of Microsoft's Surface.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wow, 15 years ago

15 years ago this past Sunday, Cindy and I got married for the first time. Yes, we have been married twice.

I first met Cindy in the winter of 1987 when I changed majors from Physics to Music Education. She was sitting in the back row of Dr. Phillip's history class wearing on of those white pantsuits so popular in the eighties. Since I had not seen her in marching band, I quickly figured out she was either voice or strings. She was a violinist. She also turned about to be a pretty nice person, and soon I had a new friend.

We remained friends until 1990. I remember running into her as she was leaving McMaster, and there was, no lie, just something different about her. Almost like I was seeing her for the first time. We went out that night for, what was to become a tradition, Buffalo Chicken Wings. We dated until August of 1991 when I, with the help of David and Jay, pulled off the best wedding proposal ever.

I was meeting Cindy at Sidney Park for a walk. As we came down one series of steps, Jay was standing at the bottom, dressed in suit and tie. "Table for two? Please follow me." We follow Jay down to the bottom of the waterfall where a small table for two was arranged. Dave came over with two glasses and a bottle of champagne.

These two had been setting this whole thing up in Sidney Park, and had drawn the attraction of many people (including a Cop). Quite the crowd was remaining up at the waterfall level to see what the outcome was going to be. David pops the cork, pours the bubbly, and then brings the covered ring. I go on one knee, and before God and everyone in that park, ask Cindy to marry me. She says yes. Everyone cheered and applauded.

So, last Sunday was fifteen years since we were married the first time. The Air Force has a rule against counting your fiancée as a dependent. Since I was being sent to Okinawa one week after our planned wedding, we decided to go ahead to the Panama City Beach Courthouse and get married by the Justice of the Peace.

Wow, 30 Years Ago

I was a geek before Star Wars, but, George Lucas firmly cemented me into that category with his 1977 adventure film. I was in fourth grade that year and can vividly remember seeing a condensed version at Shajey's Pizza Parlor. It felt like a long time before my sister and I sat down to watch the epic at the original Irwin Fuller Theaters at Dutch Square. I am sure that it did not affect her in the same way. This was the version that did not have the "Episode IV" moniker, Han shot first and I still swear that Biggs came up to Luke before the Battle of Yavin.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thanks Evelyn

I want to thank Evelyn at Chase for making the cancellation of my Amazon Chase Card so easy. Since starting my baby steps to financial freedom, I have not used the card since November. The only problem that I have since had was being refused a game rental at Blockbuster Video: they would not take my Visa Check Card as insurance that I will return there game. Instead, I traded in a few older games and got the game I was going to rent for free. I have had the card completely paid off since February.

I have completed the first two baby steps and am well into the third. The fully funded emergency fund may take me another year. But, that was always my "credit card" belief...that I needed it for emergencies. Now, I have cold hard cash for emergencies and can depend on that rather than Chase (who does not have my best interest in mind).

When we talk about financial stewardship in church, we are reminded that "it all belongs to God anyways." But we are quickly reminded that "God does not need our money." Followed with "God loves a cheerful giver." Follow the line of thinking and I sometimes feel that I am in the middle of a Mafia movie where the boys are using euphemisms for rubbing somebody out. Stewardship becomes defined as how much we give. Nuts.

Stewardship is being responsible with what you have been given.

We live in a society that encourages us to spend money that we do not have. If you do not have the money for xy or z, you can always find some company willing to loan you the money. Usually in under ninety seconds. Go to Kohls and you can open a line of credit with them (and save 10% on your purchase) right at the cash register (I know, I've done this). If easy credit was not enough, they entice us with Zero Interest and Reward Plans.

I felt burdened with all of the debt that I was carrying. How could I be a cheerful giver? I was looking at 10% of my income going to the church while I was making a decision on which creditor to pay? No, we should be teaching our brothers and sisters how to handle money and start spending only what you have and save for that rainy day.

Dave has a pretty good program. And now, I am a very cheerful giver. And not just on Sunday mornings. The greatest financial feeling that I have ever had was giving an anonymous cashiers check to a sister in need.

The borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

NUTS for Jericho

Seems like I was not the only one who was disappointed by Jericho being nuked by CBS.

Nuts Online

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jericho Nuked

Jericho was a CBS television show that I stumbled on to at the "Watch Now" web site. It chronicled what happens to the small town of Jericho after nuclear weapons are detonated across America.

As I posted earlier this week, survival movies work for me. But, obviously enough for the show to get renewed.

The season finale was this past week. The town of Jericho was defending itself against a nearby invading town. The war was being fought over farmlands and a salt mine. As the two sides square off, the screen goes black, and gun fire erupts. And then silence. The show is over.

This is my problem with shows. The "Cliff-hanger" finales. Then, when they get canceled, there is never a complete story. Even though 24 is getting thread bare (what ever you do, don't move to Bauer's LA), at least they tell a complete story. It's a cliche born out of the who shot Jr time frame and it needs to stop.

You wanna know how to get us drawn back for next season? Write good stories. Write interesting characters that we can get involved with. Do something different, stray from the formula (think Pulp Fiction or Momento). Just can the cliff-hangers and complete your major story threads by the last show. If I like you, I will be back next year.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Ballerina

A Turn of Phrase: Jump the Shark

Do you remember on Happy Days when Fonzie jumped the shark? It was the defining moment of the show, but after that it had no where else to go but down.

Of course, I have absolutely no recollection of Happy Days ever being bad. But, what would I know. I was a kid. I thought Horshack was funny.

So, what shows have jumped the Shark for you? On my list is Survivor, American Idol and the Apprentice.

Check out a web site devoted to this subject here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Things not to do with your Gmail Account

Ah...finding new stuff. I came across this in my Gmail Settings. Now I can check Gmail with Outlook. Only, make sure that you select the option to download email from "this point forward." A few more minutes and I (hopefully) will be finished.
I forgot to say why you should select the "this point forward" option. I downloaded over 700+ "new" email messages from gmail into my Outlook profile before I killed it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reflection of Something

Sometimes, in the hustle and flow of life, as I strive to know God, I wonder how I can use my vertical relationship with him to affect my horizontal relationships with others? I see a bumper sticker nearly every day that says "What difference do you make?" and I ask myself the same question, "what difference am I making?"

There are precious few things that will have eternal consequences in this life. But, I know one of them is how we reach out to one lost person whom God is calling. Reaching out to them and telling them the simple gospel of Christ.

But instead, I smile politely and side step the issue, not wishing to offend.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Just Visiting

Tonight was our first small group since the last one broke up. It was very small. In fact, Cindy and I were the only ones there besides the substitute teacher. We got into an overview of the four old testament covenants (Abraham-ic, Palestinian, Davidic and New Covenant (from Jeremiah, not the last supper). Deep stuff, but, not something you would be applying to your day to day walk.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

It's May Already

Where in the world did this year go? I know that I have been very busy at work, but I honestly can not believe that I turn 39 in two weeks. For some reason, 38 was that wake up age for me. I remember my Dad when he was 38 because that was the same year that George Rogers won the Heisman Trophy back in 1980. Rogers wore the number 38 jersey (see...there was a connection).

Regarding my decisions about leading a small group, I decided to not take the group over. I do not think I would ever feel "ready" to lead a group, so that is not my reason. It boiled down to the fact that Cindy and I are the youngest in the group (by 15 years at least). How do I relate life experience with them? They have already been where I am. Instead, we are officially in the "visiting" stage, but we are going to a class that is in our age group.

Big news on the work front (and the cause of me loosing sanity) is that it looks like that my application is going to be localized in several languages world wide. I've never done anything to this scale and, while it does scare me, I am excited about the experience once we get through this.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Favorite quote from last week's Office

"Lord, beer me strength."
- Jim

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thoughts about VT

I am not sure who actually reads this.

My main purpose for starting a blog has been to give several high school friends (you know who you are) a way of keeping tags on me. Along the way, I know of a few others who pop in from time to time.

I make no excuses for what I believe, even though some who read this may wonder how I can. I do. There is a faith in God that runs very deep in the fiber of my being. Those high school friends were there when it began.

This week has been very somber because of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. For Rick, Jay and Todd, consider if something happened at USC. The impact that it would have in the local area gives you some idea of how this has impacted even Hampton Roads. We know families who were directly affected.

And in all of this, the question comes: why? And deep inside, I can only reply that I do not know. I only know that we live in a fallen world: one that has been given over to itself. We live in a world that does not seek God. No, not one.

But I have patience.

Like the harvester, God is patient for the rains to fall, for the harvest to be full. And when it is, I know that Christ Jesus will come back, and the second act will begin. But until then, we live and we die.

This song, by Third Day, has been coming popping up for me all this week. The refrain is:

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

It has helped me with this week.