Sunday, December 31, 2006

Get the partying on!

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I'll post more about my holiday later, but since it is New Year's Eve, I thought I would post in the the few moments before running off to church this morning. Tyler got an email from a friend of his, asking if we were going to have hats for New Year's again this year because (as she put it), she is ready to "get the partying on!" LOL, she's about 10 or so... Kids grow up so fast... :-)

Emily and Tyler have been having fun with their new things from Christmas! Emily loves playing with her "real house" Barbie house... I think it's a little 'too' real - it makes like 3 or 4 sounds... One is the shower... Another? The toilet flushes... Yeah.. Of all the sounds one could have in a house, in a GIRL'S dollouse, Mattel opted for the sound of a flushing toilet. Well, it keeps Em entertained... She has also been playing with her Dora the Explorer version of Candyland (which by the way, Candyland got 3 out of 5 on X-Play... seriously..). Tyler has been playing his DS and we finally got the battery charged for his 4x4 truck. Now, THAT is cool! Emily and I played with it - er, uh, tested the batteries and functions - for a good 45 minutes! :-)

Shan's laptop got 'skinned!' You can go to Skin-It.com and buy al kinds of appliques for your laptop, mp3 player, etc. She got Mickey Mouse. The cool thing is that when I entered her model number, the skinit came with a hole cut out so her Dell logo still shows! Very neat stuff! I also got her other things, but the 'hit' was the set of Angel Cheeks that have birthstones - I got one with each of the kids' b-day stones and then one with hers and one with mine.

I got a lot of things too. :-) From a vintage Coca-Cola bottle truck to some very cool computer games to clothes. One of the things I was never expected was a rolling tool chest! Man, I needed that!! I still have to get my tools in it and organized, but I have started! :-) My mother-in-law bought me TireFlys (light dealies for my tire valve covers) and a license plate frame that can be programmed with a remote control! Shan and I went out to Johnny Carino's and saw Night at the Museum the other night, and I got a lot of looks from passersby.. :-)

I'll have to tell you more about our Christmas tree (pre-lit) blowing lights left and right, more Christmas tales, and give youa run-down on the New Year's Eve party... Stay Tuned... You just never know what will pop into this head of mine...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve!


Though my last post was officially started on Christmas Eve, I thought I would spit out random who-knows-whats that pop in my head at a more 'coherent' time... Though, it's really hard to say if anything related to me should be anywhere even close to associated with the word 'coherent.' Those of you that know me well most likely had that very thought pop into your own head before I typed it out here, however! :-)


I forgot to mention that we decorated cookies yesterday. I suppose I also forgot to mention that the cookies we bought were pre-formed (just punch them out and place them on the cookie sheet!) and that even though these cookies were CHRISTMAS cookies, the only colors that were included were red and green... How do you decorate a snowman without...um...oh, I dunno... WHITE!? DUH! So, I made a little trip to Wally World to pick up some decorating icing. Yeah, it took about an hour for the round trip, but it was well worth it! Emily got more on her face that she did on the cookies! In hindsight, I shoulda taken pictures.... Ah well, just imagine that little face to the right on here having little green strips of icing running from her mouth to her chin! Tyler showed some very ingenious creativity, and I must admit that his mother and I didn't do half-bad... (Alright, Shan did very, very well with her decorating.... I had couple 'gems,' but really, I think I made more of a mess than anything...) Okay, no one is going to offer us a show on the Food Network, but hey, we had fun... :-)


While watching our DVR'd CMT Top 20 countdown of 2006 (yeah, we DVR just about everything we want to watch so we can fast-forward commercials - it's awesome), there was an interview with Rodney Atkins and he told the story of the school calling him to tell him that his son was singing his latest song in the lunch line.... Evidently, if you're going through the lunch line, you cannot be singing 'If you're going through hell....' :-) I bring this up because that happens to be one of Emily's favorite songs. So far, we don't think she has caught on to the actual lyrics though, because she is still singing "If you're going somewhere..." Which, of course, triggered my previous look at Disney Radio versions of songs... I looked but could not find a 'kid-friendly' version of the song... Maybe we should offer Emily's lyrics as a choice... :-)


I was flipping through the channels the other day and came across "The Math of Santa." Now, the first thing that might pop into your head is, "Oh, another one of those 'why Santa couldn't possibly be real..' shows." Well, that's what popped into mine, anyway. And, yes, that was part of it. But, I was surprised to see the same guy who showed why Santa couldn't do it turn around and show how Santa can do it. I admit, it involved some math and concepts I am not very familiar with, but it was interesting to watch the formula unfold... Before I am ripped to shreds by a reader or two, remember, I am very well aware of the history of Saint Nicholas. But, no matter how old I get, I hope to always, always believe in the magic of Christmas, beginning with the magic of how it all began in the first place - without Christ, there is no Christmas.


Which reminds me... On the radio yesterday, the announcer was talking and at one point, he said, "I'm not going to be politically correct. If they fire me, they fire me. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Merry Christmas!" I couldn't help but smile...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Going BYOND...

Howdy! Been awhile since I last posted... Been pretty busy with Christmas coming up! As of the moment I am writing this, it is now officially Christmas Eve!! YAY!!



One of the things I have been up to is learning BYOND and helping Tyler create a game using the interface/program. Talk about brining back memories! When I was a tyke (say, 8th grade), my friends and I sat around our Commodore 64's, typing in programs from Compute's Gazette and other magazines... While walking through a couple of the tutorials, I was reading the code while Tyler typed it in, and then I would explain what that piece of code was for (creating a character, making grass, attacking monsters, etc..). Before long, we had a functional 'game' in which the player could walk around, killing monsters and collect gold for his/her trouble! With a little ingenuity, we added our own "inventory" system, though it is very rudimentary. The program (BYOND) is actually pretty easy to understand once you start. Turns out, it is also FREE! Get it from BYOND.com... What is great aout the program is that it is inherently multiplayer - that is, as soon as someone knows the address to your game, they can just join in!


Dad is finally on his way to Kuwait as I type this... He left Houston at 4pm and headed for Dulles. From there, he began his flight straight for Kuwait. He was excited and nervous all in one fell swoop. My Mom said we can track his flight, but I forgot to get the info... DUH! Hopefully he'll be able to keep in touch with email and Mom said something about him getting a calling card from the company... Guess we'll have to wait and see... :-)


The kids are getting more and more excited about Santa coming! They wrapped the presents they got for each other today, and put those presents under the tree. They were both excited to see the packages they got for each other. Emily helped me wrap Shan's presents, and of course Shan tried to sneak peeks. I fully expect her to be shaking, squeezing, and guessing... I think Tyler has been checking out the presents we put under the tree for him and Emily. I'm not sure if Emily has been poking around or not... We decided to put out just a couple of the kids presents, then lay out the rest when they go to bed before Santa comes. That way, when they wake up, they will have our gifts and Santa's, too! I seriously considered getting the kids Polar Express jingle bells... I thought about it too late for this Christmas, so maybe next year.. Then again, maybe I'll leave that for Santa... :-)



MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Last minute gift ideas and few diversions

I couldn't help but take a cue from Leno the other night and check out some last minute gift ideas... How about a unique ornament idea? And, if you scroll down the page, you'll find other gift ideas, too... Also available are knock-off Chia Pets... And the gift for the person whose dog suffers from flatulence only when visiting YOUR house: Try this less-odorous version... I also thought the funky pacifiers were good to give to new mother... And, how would like to freak out your mother (or father) this Christmas?? Get the tattoo sleeve for yourself and show 'em some love... :-)

Okay, not everything I like to find is rude or crude! How about computer/MP3 speakers for the animal lover? Or, for the person who simply can't get enough "Deal or No Deal??" How about a handheld version? Got someone that is a photo nut? How about a wreath with picture frames?


Now, maybe you're just looking for a diversion or two? How about Simon Sez? You tell Santa what to do... We've told him to dance, sing, rock, ride Rudolph, kiss, and yes, we told him to fart... The only thing we asked that he did not do was stand on his head.... Be warned, the site seems to be getting lots of traffic and may be slow...

Love to play with bubble wrap? Play with it ONLINE or you can download a standalone version for your PC, and if you're REALLY desperate, how about a PALM version!? Then again, you may be in for something else to occupy some of that holiday dead-time... Maybe you didn't get all of your decorating 'fix' taken care of: Decorate a virtual tree... How about an online sliding puzzle of Santa? There all kinds of things you can do...


For those of you wanting to know, my Dad got the "all clear" to head for England, Kuwait, and eventually, Iraq... Of course, he can only take 50 pounds of things with him, so he bought a new carrying case, which when loaded was more than 50 pounds... Turns out the new bag weighed almost 10 pounds alone! Ooops! So, he took it back and bought something else... Guess we'll see...


Got these in an email, and thought I'd share them with you:

Ten Cowboy sayings that will never mean the same after Brokeback Mountain:
1. "I'm gonna pump you fulla lead!"
2. "Give me a stiff one, barkeep!"
3. "Don't fret—-I've been in tight spots before."
4. "Howdy, pardner."
5. You stay here while I sneak around from behind."
6. Two words: "Saddle Sore."
7. "Hold it right there! Now, move your hand, reeeal slow-like."
8. "Let's mount up!"
9. "Nice spread ya got there!"
10. "Ride'em cowboy!"

And, while I'm on a redneck/cowboy kick:

An Alabama couple had 9 children. They went to the doctor to see about getting the husband “fixed”.

The doctor gladly started the required procedure and asked them what finally made them make the decision — why after nine children, would they choose to do this.

The husband replied that they had read in a recent article that one out of every ten children being born in North America was Mexican, and they didn’t want to take a chance on having a Mexican baby because neither of them could speak Spanish.


Yeah, I know.... Wait til you read this, though:

An Irishman, a Mexican and a redneck were doing construction work on scaffolding on the 20th floor of a building.

They were eating lunch and the Irishman said, "Corned beef and cabbage... If I get corned beef and cabbage one more time for lunch I’m going to jump off this building."

The Mexican opened his lunch box and exclaimed, "Burritos again! If I get burritos one more time I’m going to jump off, too."

The redneck opened his lunch and said, "Bologna again... If I get a bologna sandwich one more time I’m jumping too."

Next day - the Irishman opens his lunch box, sees corned beef and cabbage and jumps to his death. The Mexican open his lunch, sees a burrito and jumps too. The redneck opens his lunch, sees the bologna and jumps to his death also.

At the funeral - The Irishman’s wife is weeping. She says, “If I’d known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage I never would have given it to him again.” The Mexican’s wife also weeps and says “I could have given him tacos or enchiladas I didn’t realize he hated burritos so much.” Everyone turned and stared at the redneck’s wife. “Hey, don’t look at me,” she said, “He makes his own lunch.”


And one for my techie friends:

How many programmers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
None, that’s a hardware problem!



Say Good Night, Gracie..... "Good Night, Gracie..."

Monday, December 18, 2006

How long is TOO long?

On Sunday, we headed to my brother's house to pick up Emily's new bed (more on THAT in a minute). On the way, we stopped off at Cracker Barrel for... let's call it brunch... We arrive at approximately 11:00 and are seated almost immediately. After 10 minutes or so, the waitress takes our orders... There are eight of us in the group... We wait for our food... and wait... and wait... and wait... Now, if I were to write out the phrase "and wait" once for each minute we had to actually wait until our waitress finally says something about how long it's taking, I would have-to write it out 45 times... Yes, FORTY-FIVE minutes before the waitress comes over to tell us our food is late. Okay, the truth is, we called her happy butt over and were demanding to know what the blankety-blank was going on. The Assistant Manager, or whoever he was, came over and apologized - something about our ticket being blown behind the grill because of a vent fan... Whatever. When we DO get our order, it's not complete, and if I remember correctly one of the orders was not even right... Our retribution? We were offered free desserts, but by that time we were running behind, were not hungry, and we just wanted out of there. They knocked 3 dollars off ONE bill (we have 3 separate checks). In retrospect, Shan said we should have all taken the desserts to go (to which I thought - yeah, and let them watch us throw them in the trash on the way out the door...). So, how long is TOO long to wait for food? Yes, I realize the mistake could have happened to anyone (in fact, 3 other tables had their tickets also blown away). But, having been in the food service industry, after about 15-20 minutes, I would have checked on the order, and immediately told the customer what was going on.... Maybe that's just me....


Emily has been upgraded to "Twin Bed" status as of Sunday... When my brother and his wife said they were giving Emily a new bed, we didn't know this new bed was going to require a ladder for her to climb up into it! :-) Her bed is taller than just about any other bed I have ever seen (not including loft-style or bunk, of course). Thanks to the wood frame railing, Emily can get into it, though. Of course, getting a new bed meant rearranging the room... Luckily, there were several hands-on-deck for that part. So, now Emily has a new bed with Bratz sheets and covers. She's very excited to have a 'big girl' bed! :-)


While poking around the Blogger world, I came across Damn Cool Pics. And, well, it's very aptly named. For fun, here are a couple examples of things you'll find there:

3-D Street Art - flat images painted on the street to look 3-D...



And one of my favorite street art designs:




There are also strange accident pictures:





And, yes, I truly, truly hate to see this one:



(Yeah, that's a Corvette under there.... :-( )

There are a lot more pictures and all kinds of different things, so check it out... :-)


After that last pic, I just had to do a Google search for Corvette accidents... I'd post some of the pics here, but really, it's just too brutal... I mean, they ARE 'Vettes, ya know.....


Oh, before I forget: Turns out Dad was missing the results of only ONE blood test! He wasn't told this until he went for the blood draw, of course... So, unless he fails that one (which Mom says she'll kill him if he does), he will be cleared for his European duties...


I love learning how things came to be... Recently, I have learned of the origin of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and where shopping carts came from... Though, I learned the origin of the shopping cart from one of the "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader" books... Nothing like passing... time... with an Uncle John's... :-) I also checked on a few things I had mentioned in earlier posts: An Uncle Tom is usually an African-American who 'betrays' other blacks by 'giving in' or subserving to whites and/or the 'white establishment.' Here is a much better explanation... And someone who refers to something being "John Brown," is usually referring to a violent solution to racial problem. Again, Wikipedia has a definition in progress... While I'm talking about that, I do not go to Wikipedia for everything, but it does offer (usually) well-researched, verified materials and definitions, so why not, right? :-)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Can a cat be scared by...well, you'll just have to read it...


I won't reveal the source of this tale, mainly so as to protect myself from certain premature life-ending retribution! :-) All I'm saying is that the kitten does NOT live at our house... While using the restroom, the storyteller was being pestered by my children's baby kitten (that might clue some folks in, as I may have talked about that kitten before...) at her feet. Well, as luck would have it, a sudden, and particularly loud, bout of flatulence caused the kitten to jump straight up into the air and land on the storyteller's head! That is quite a feat, I'd say... Not to mention quite a wallop... I hope there was no match-lighting anytime soon after THAT episode! :-)


We heard from my father, who was supposed to have flown out to England on Saturday morning... It turns out that during a review of his documents, someone mistakenly put his blood test results into someone else's folder. Do they know which folder? Nope. So, my Dad was not allowed to fly out, because he has to have his blood re-drawn and tested. That happens first thing Sunday morning. They will then expedite the vials to the lab (and the document examiner will accompany the vials, according to Dad's telling of what will transpire) on Monday. Then, instead of the usual 4 days wait, his vials will be tested immediately and the results will be back on Tuesday. The company said that on Wednesday, Dad flies out of Houston in one of two directions - either to England or back to Little Rock... The main thing they will be looking at (where Dad is concerned anyway) is his cholesterol level... Mom said she looks at it like this: The worst thing that could happen is that Dad would be sent back to Little Rock and he'd be here for Christmas. I thought that was a very positive way to look at things... :-)





Speaking of Christmas, I picked up a couple CD's at Wal-Mart on Friday... One is called "30 Christmas Stars" and the other is "Humbug! Gold." Now, the "30 Stars" CD has two discs - one with various 'rock/adult contemporary' artists and the other is all country artists... Okay, I never listen to Jethro Tull as a youngster. But, for some reason, I had it in my head they were a rock band... Are they not? Well, whatever they are, on this CD, they are like some weird celtic band.. I mean, we thought we would have to break out the river dance clogs, man... The rest of the first CD is a lot like that - not what you expect when you're looking at the lst of artists: Crash Test Dummies, Kenny Loggins, Kim Carnes, Nancy Wilson, Suzanne Ciani... The country CD is MUCH better - Suzy Boguss, Sawyer Brown, Asleep at the Wheel, Steve Wariner, and more... I'm making a clock with the first CD and keeping the other one for rotation in the 6-disc changer I won back in 1989... Yes, I still have it, and yes it still works great!



Okay, so let's talk about "Humbug! Gold..." It's ironic that I have been discussing cover songs lately, because this CD is full of parodies (ala Weird Al) of our favorite Christmas songs... I find it quite hilarious - a sentiment not shared by everyone in the family.. :-) But, come on, how can you not love songs like "Little Plumber Boy," "O Little Bank Americard," "Oh Tanning Bed," and others?! :-) Just for kicks, I knew I had to share some of the lyrics from my favorites on the CD:

"The Little Plumber Boy"
The little plumber boy, A rump a plumb plumb, They called him “Plumber Roy”, A rump a plumb plumb, He had no belt I spied, A rump a plumb plumb, His half moon filled our eyes, A rump a plumb plumb, Rump a plumb plumb, Rump a plumb plumber, Shall we tell him, A rump a plumb plumb, We see your buns?

"Oh Little Bank Americard"
O little Bank Americard, Like money that grows on trees. I sign my name, I feel no pain, Til late January. And if I reach my limit, Don’t think the shopping’s done.
Take heart dear soul, Don’t lose control, Just order another one.

"Dot.com All Ye Fretful"
Dot com all ye fretful, Joyless and disgruntled, Dot com ye, dot com ye,
Just buy it on line.

And, of course... "Joy to the World, Fed Ex has Come!"
Joy to the world, Fed Ex has come! They’ve saved me once again. I ordered much too late, To get it Christmas day, But for twenty extra bucks, They’ll put it in their trucks, And they’ll get it to me, So I won’t be a schmuck.

If you just gotta have this CD, you can get more info at the WonderWorks website, or hit your local Wal-Mart and visit the Christmas music display in the Christmas stuff section... :-)


We went and did a LOT of Christmas shopping today. We still have a long way to go, but it really did make a huge dent in things! :-) While out and about, I decided to buy a red bow for the front of my truck... :-) It probably won't stay on very long, but that's okay, it only cost a buck, so what the hey, right? :-)


I'll have to wash my truck off again and take some pictures... Sine the last pictures I posted, I've added some more vinyl and other doo-dads... :-) Let's just say it is getting easier and easier to pick my truck out of a crowd, which makes life a while lot easier after a day of shopping at the mall! :-) Naturally, I still have some things I want to do, but I haven't quite figured out all I want to add yet... And where/how I want to add it.. I don't want my truck to look stupid, ya know?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Losing big, Computerless Email, and IT'S CHRISTMASTIME!


I'm sure I've mentioned that we enjoy watching "The Biggest Loser" (no, that was NOT a reference to the Razorbacks...), and last night was the season finale... Jaron from Arkansas missed out on the $100,000 'bonus' prize by three pounds... Man, THREE pounds... Still, he lost a whopping 160 pounds in the process! Considering he now weighs 163, he lost HALF of his weight! That is truly remarkable... There were other amazing stories and weight losses, too... We were concerned when heard the promos for the show because they made it sound like Heather had given up ("only 3 of the 4 finalists will weigh in...")... In reality, she was 5 months pregnant! And, she received a decked out nursery as a surprise! I thought that was pretty cool that they did something for her since she could not weigh in.... The Salt Lake Tribune has more on her story... :-)


So, you want to send e-mail to someone that does not have or use a computer?? Check this out: MyCelery.com offers a printer/ scanner/ fax service that lets you send email to a private address and the printer spits it out... THEN, if the recipient wants to reply, they HAND WRITE the person's name and the service will recognize the name and send the scanned paper! Seriously cool stuff! Another, less two-way version is being offered by HP: It's called Presto. It is one-way (you send, they cannot respond).

I am very excited about Christmas this year! Maybe because I am getting older, maybe less cynical (well, let's not push it...), maybe because in the same year my oldest child gets the 'history of Santa' story, my youngest stares with wide-eyed amazement at anything and everything Christmas... I don't know what it is, but yes, I have the warm, fuzzy feeling of Christmas, and it feels pretty danged good... :-)


My Dad called me last night to chit-chat and to tell me about his new laptop. Sounds like he will have lots of of fun with it, but mostly lots of work... He leaves Saturday, headed for Amsterdam or Paris, then from there on to Kuwait. It turns out, he may be stationed in Kuwait and not in Baghdad, but that remains to be seen... He said the hardest part is all the 'military-related' things they have to learn - like how to whip out and put on a gas mask in under 10 seconds while holding your breath, then getting into the hazmat suit once the mask is correctly in place... He said he finally got to where he could do it in about 8 seconds... Pretty good for an old-timer... (heh-heh, just kidding, Dad). He will have email and he can take pictures of certain things, so we'll see what comes back from "The Continent..." :-)


In my zeal for mailing off videos to winning bidders, I sent the wrong video to someone - which means the person it was SUPPOSED to go to won't get it for a while... Ouch.. Hope it wasn't a Christmas present... :-( I sent email to both parties and hopefully we'll get it resolved PDQ... :-)


Just show I still hold some of my cynicism true to my heart, while looking for something else, I came across a cute little poster:
Not Everyone Gets To Be An Astronaut When They Grow Up....

It turns out, Despair.com sells a whole slew of these "Demotivation" posters! Some of them are absolutely priceless... And, if you're really in the mood for a laugh or two, check out their FAQ section (click on questions to reveal answers) and their "Disservice" page.... Great stuff!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Popped in my head today...

ilo TV

I bought a 32-inch LCD a while ago, so we had to move the 26-inch "regular" TV out of the room. Right now, it's collecting dust, but I thought I would jump on "the Bay" and see if people actually sold USED television sets - or more accurately to see if anyone was BUYING used TV's... Well, my search turned up this hilarious post
from a very scorned woman. John and I howled...


Many of you know my distaste for Internet Explorer 7... One of my biggest complaints is (er, was) the fact that the address bar was at the top of the screen. I hate(d) that! Well, after some poking around, I found a site that offers up the registry fix for the problem!! By installing this registry entry, you can move the MENU bar to the top, where it should be! :-) (Please note, if you click on the link, you will be asked if you want to install/run the file. Only accept if you WANT to move your menu bar). In case you decide to move the bar back, you can use this registry file.

As it turns out, the site where I found this info has several other handy little doo-dads (that is a highly technical term, by the way...) you can feel free to read about and install, if you so choose....


theBay

The videotape sale mentioned in the post from the other day is going pretty well, I think! :-) I'm hoping to sell them all, of course, but the ones don't sell will be re-listed (possibly as 'sets')... My overall selling experience on eBay has not been a huge money-maker by any stretch, but sometimes we manage to do alright... :-) I'm sure I could do better at it if I took the time to research products, etc, but well, I'm not doing that at this stage of things... :-) Who knows what the future holds....


Dude....

Ever wonder what the difference between Dell Dimension and Optiplex machines was? Well, you can find out for yourself... :-)


The fine folks at MVPS have a cool page that talks about the HOSTS file on your computer... You "can" use the HOSTS file to help block access to unwanted sites. This is a trick that was first discussed (in my world, anyway) during an email exchange with school techs around Arkansas. As it turns out, the list provided at MVPS is constantly updated and you can join their mailing list to be notified when new additions/changes are made. Neat stuff!


I got a message from Amazon today... My mTurk account has been "idle" for a while... LOL, yeah, that would be because I'm NOT USING IT! :-) As it turns out, I have about $.43 in my account... Yes, that reads forty-three cents... Yee-haw...


See? You never really know what is going to pop in my head....

OH, that reminds me... Check this out: A database of cover songs... And there is also Coverville, which sports a top 101 worst cover songs list... :-)


I am pretty sure there was something else rolling around in the space between my ears, but it must have fallen out on the floor when I wasn't looking....

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Upside-down biscuits and the sugar NOBODY wants...

Okay, class, today we have a lot of ground to cover... :-)

Shan made Paula Deen's Pineapple Upside-down Biscuits at my request. And, man were they awesome! If you have not tried these, either make them yourself or find someone who will do it for ya!


Emily had a pretty busy day today - running around, went bowling, shopped for Tyler's Christmas presents.... While getting ready for bed, she came running into the room where Shan was, very excited about a discovery she had made.... Sitting on the floor, she spread her toes and proudly exclaimed, "Look! Sugar!" Aren't you glad I told you about the biscuits BEFORE this? :-)


Have you ever been somewhere (say, Wal-Mart) and saw someone you were pretty sure you recognized, but couldn't seem to place them in a context? And then, that person recognizes you while you are still trying to place that person... I am not very good at the whole 'poker face' thing, so I'm sure my dumbfounded look was very obvious... Then, of course, after Emily comes out of the restroom, we start to walk off, and I say goodbye to the person, and Emily shouts out, "Who is that, Daddy?" I was humiliated... As it turns out, I initially thought it was one person, then later realized the person I could not place was the PRINCIPAL at one of my schools! UGH! I feel pretty stupid... Now, I face the dilemma of saying anything about it to her or not... My gut tells me to blow it off, and hope she never mentions it and she doesn't hold it against me come performance evaluation time.. :-) I've decided that if I am ever in that situation again, I will be forthcoming about the whole thing.... Maybe.... :-)


I was feeding the goats on Saturday, and noticed their water container seemed to be frozen solid... After a quick check, however, I realized that there was more like a couple inches of ice, but the rest was water... So, I dumped out the ice, and to my surprise, what came out was a huge "highball glass" shaped piece of ice! Evidently, the sides had frozen to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch and the (now) bottom of the 'glass' was about 2 inches... I wish I had taken a picture! It was one of the coolest things I have seen! It was literally a glass of ice! :-)


CMT Goofy Christmas Countdown

The other day, we watched the CMT Top 20 Merriest Christmas Videos, or something like that... What I thought was going to be a heartfelt compilation of warm, fuzzy holiday videos was instead...well...a lot like being stuck in the middle of a redneck version of Dr. Demento... In my opinion, the guest commentators were the best part of the show! Hilarious "insights" (especially the Ornament!)...


While doing some housecleaning in preparation for Christmas, we decided to sell a bunch of videos the kids don't watch anymore. Turns out there are exactly 100 of them that we opted to sell on eBay (Wanna see?)... I never realized just how many videos the kids had until I made a database of them to help with my selling... I also never realized how many Pooh videos we had... :-)



Okay, I mentioned earlier that Emily had gone bowling... Well, Tyler had been invited to a party and to help kill time, Emily and I bowled a couple games... This is something I should not admit, but I will because I can take it... The first game, Emily and I bowled the EXACT same score.... 91... Yeah, I nearly got my rear handed to me by a four-year old that I have to help push the ball down the lane.... She is also very quick to point out that she knocked down more pins than I did (referring to her strike)... I tend to get overly competitive, so it was good for me to tie her... :-) I need a little humble pie sometimes... Evidently, I must have been starving based on the past few days alone (refer to the Wal-Mart incident, and also see my Aunt's response to my whole SEMI thing....Oh, and I guess the whole "song covering" thing, too...)...


Which reminds me... I am not a fan of the Eagles 'tribute' album... I understand why it was done, I guess, but when the originals are so great, everything else just comes off as karaoke... What's so funny is that I remembered I had once done a country version of a couple of Michael Jackson's songs (The Way You Make Me Feel - substituting things like 'you knock me outta my boots now, baby....') Yeah, it sucked... Maybe that's where my bias comes in... :-)


So, class, to recap today's topics: Upside-down biscuits, humble pie, and toe-jam sugar.... Does life get any better? :-)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Why a SEMI is a SEMI...

Okay, I found this:
"Semi-trailer is the name of the kind of trailer that a prime mover pulls, but in general use refers to the whole assembly. "Semi" refers to the fact that when attached to the tractor unit the cargo is half supported by the rear wheels of the tractor." (from the folks at ApparelSearch [what they are doing defining it, I have no idea...])

Now, I don't know about you, but I feel better... :-)

Lips of an Angel goes... COUNTRY!?

You may be familiar with the power rock ballad, "Lips of an Angel" sung by Hinder. On the way to a meeting today, I heard the COUNTRY version of this song... My first thought was, "Who is singing this?" which was immediately followed by, "WHY is he singing it in a country format!?" In my opinion, this version is horrid... Oh, before I forget, Jack Ingram sings the country version....

Now, I find it funny that Hinder claims the song is not about cheating, which I guess technically it's not... Not really about cheating so much as hanging on to a past love, maybe... In any case, it is a raw, ROCK ballad... Putting to country not only slowed the song down considerably, but it took the edgy bite off it... I mean, the singer is supposedly on the phone with a past lover while his current girlfriend is in the next room... Something the rock version pulls off nicely... The country version sounds like the guy is just singing it... Bad karaoke, if you ask me....

This of course started me thinking about other songs that have been 'ported' from one version to another with horrid results.... "Walking in Memphis" comes to mind immediately. Wasn't it nearly a country-rock song to begin with? Why mess with it? No reason to make it a 'fully' country song... Of course, there is Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." Look, I love country music. I listen to it more than most other kinds, but come on... Leave the rock ballads as rock ballads... Then we have country songs that people try to make rock and/or pop... And, right now, an example escapes me... Sorry. If you have some examples, post a comment and I'll be sure to post my thoughts.. :-)

I did think of something semi-related - songs that get thrashed to pieces when re-made for an 'updating.' Example: the Disney "Cheetah Girls" version of Route 66... Heard this?? You have got to be kidding me.... I do think it's funny how Radio Disney gets the artist's to change the words to some songs though... Talk about the power of the dollar.... I'm waiting for the RD version of "Buttons...." or maybe "Ridin' Dirty?" Hey, maybe they have a version of "Lips of an Angel" too!! LOL, I'm being sarcastic... though, in all serious sadness, they prolly do....


Speaking of semi-related.... Why ARE "semi" trucks called "semi's?" I have done some poking around to try and find out. I found all kinds of information ABOUT semi-trucks, but not why they are called semi trucks... Now, I realize, after research, that part of that is because they pull semi trailers, which are called that because they do not have their own power/transport system, evidently... And, maybe it's that simple... Of course, that opens the whole question about the "tractor" reference... Why are they called "tractor" trailer trucks? They're trucks, right? Maybe I need to check definitions of "tractor...." Hmmm...

What even started this? Aww, come on, don't you know by now?

IT JUST POPPED IN MY HEAD.... :-)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Buckle Your Seatbelts...

This evening, I am spending the night at a Hampton Inn... After checking in, I got on the elevator and the door slid closed... As the door closed, a sticker advertisement posted on the door read, "Buckle Your Seatbelt." So far as I could tell, this particular model of vertical transport had no belts - seat or otherwise... In that brief moment before the elevator begins to move, I wondered just how fast an elevator could travel... Not how fast they DO travel, but how fast COULD they travel.... Buckle Your Seatbelt.... Holy crap! I'm on some kind of supersonic elevator... Buckle my seatbelt!? What if I hang on to the rail? Wait, this elevator has NO rails! Does this elevator have a camera? Is someone watching me pretend to freak out about how fast this thing is about to go??

And then, with a slight jolt, I ascend... Not at the speed of light, but a nice, peaceful ride...


So, have you ever wondered what kind of WEIRD things you can find on eBay? How about a few: A "specially-shaped chicken nugget, Hanging chads from the 2000 Florida election, or maybe you need some unique highlighters? Of course, there is always the store dedicated to, er, um, well, you'll have to see for yourself: Special Walking Canes... In the market for a casket? Yeap, just search for 'em... One guy is selling his soul... Okayyy.... Then again, you could try teleporting yourself with this handy gadget... Or perhaps you've fancied yourself a Lord or Lady of a foreign country?? Yeap, become a Lord... Perhaps what you really need are some party favors? How about some keychains? The gift for the person that has everything? I bet they don't have belly button lint!

Okay, I'm done for now... I mean, c'mon, how do you possibly top belly button lint?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Of Humidifiers and Social UNacceptability?

The cold weather has promted us to use the ol' furnace these days.. The downside, however, is that the air is very, VERY dry! So, while meandering down the aisles of the semi-local Wal-Mart, I saw a cool little humidifier shaped and designed like a baseball... :-) Of course, I snatched it right up... After filling it up, I plugged it in and let it run.... And then, it REALLY ran... or dripped is more accurate... All over the floor... Evidently, the little O-Ring seal didn't seal, and thus water found its way into the cooling holes in the bottom of the humidifier, onto the stool which upon it unit rested, and flowed forth onto the floor, first visiting Emily's CD boombox along the way... UGH! Well, that puppy is going back! :-)


Are you familiar with the old expression, "Rude, Crude, and Socially Unacceptable?" Chances are, if you happen to be a 20-something, you have no idea what I'm talking about... Why not? Let's look at a few recent events... I'd like you to think about these, and then tell me when these became 'acceptable...' Let's start with Lindsay Lohan's inability to keep her shirt on.. or at least covering enough of her body... I mean, you cannot tell me it was an 'accident' that she wore a 'shirt' to an auto show in which her bralessness was shown to the world... Of course, there was also her 'accidental' exposure as she 'avoided' photographers... Again, braless, showing everything for the world to see... Then, we have Exhibit(ionist) B - as in Britney... Spears, that is... During a 'night on the town' with Paris Hilton and Miss Lohan herself, Spears reportedly hiked up her dress in order to expose herself as she got out of the vehicle... Apparently, there were other photos in which gawkers complained that she was WEARING underwear... So, she figured she would give her stalkers, er uh gawkers, what they wanted.... For the record, I have only seen the censored versions of these pictures as shown on TV shows like "The Soup..." There is enough chatter on enough blogs and boards to know what shows....

Explain to me how these events spark no backlash that I have heard, and yet Mel Gibson and Michael Richards are hung (no pun intended) out to dry for their racial slurs... So, it's okay to show the world your private parts, but don't you dare say anything about someone who is not the same color, creed, religion, etc... I was wondering, though, did anyone happen to capture what the two guys were saying that prompted Richards to say what he did? You know, we always see the 'after,' but rarely do we see what actually led up to it.. I am not excusing it by any stretch! I'm just curious.... Manipulation of the media and the public at it's best/worst I'm sure... And, yes, I know what'm talking about.. I studied media, propaganda, manipulation, etc in my pursuit of my Master's... I may be a shmuck, but I'm a pretty dang-ed educated one, thank you.

How does any of this behavior make any sense? For me, this goes back to my post about the T-Shirt.... Whatever happened to 'rude, crude, and socially unacceptable?'

Have no fears from this poster... No racial slurs, and certainly no 'exposed' photographs will come from this end of the keyboard!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Pictures and Sprucing Up

We took the kiddos for their annual Christmas pictures today! They did great, but the photographer was not anywhere near as animated and "into it" as ones form the past... In truth, we have had only a few that we really, really liked... And, for a while, we got the same one each time. That was cool because she really knew how to capture the kids... Not this time... But, the pictures are very cute! Well, I think so, anyway... :-)



I decided not to post ALL the kids pictures... Figured I'd spare ya... :-)


If you look around my blog page a bit, you may notice a few changes, additions, and what-nots... I'm breaking out of the mold, and trying a few things... The one thing I really want to work (Showing Comments) isn't working yet, but I'm working with the creators of the script(s) to figure it out... :-) Have fun looking around, and feel free to let me know what you think and/or what else you'd like to see included...


I am supposed to be working on a Christmas list of what I want for Christmas this year... Hmm... I'll have to give that some thought. Of course, when I'm not asked to make a list, I have about a zillion things running around in my head, but as soon as someone says to write them down, I forget them all... Maybe I'll just end up with coal in my stocking....





Have you seen the new Dodge Megacab 4-door dually short bed? I saw a red one today. It is a weird looking beast... Like someone chopped the back off of it... Anyone remember the Cadillac Deville they did that to? This is a big, honkin' HUGE truck with a little bitty baby bed.... Why would you do that? Oh well, I saw one person who thought it was cool.... Something to think about......

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Number One Lunchfighter!

Hey! I just fought my way to the number one spot on lunchfight! :-) I'm sure I won't be there long, so I am posting a screenshot, for posterity... :-)
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FIRST PLACE!! YAY!!



Yes, I know, it's silly... But, hey, we can all use a little "silly" in our lives from time to time...especially on days like today.. :-)

An Adventure Begins and a season ends...

Today, my Dad embarked on his adventure... First to Houston, then to Kuwait, and finally on to Iraq. The day started as usual (for us anyway - not sure how it started for Mom and Dad) - woke up, hung around for a bit, then started cleaning the house... Around 10 o'clock, I called Mom to see what time we were heading out, and we decided to head out at 11 so that we could go somewhere and have something to eat before heading to the airport... We loaded up the van with Dad's suitcases and headed for Little Rock... Emily was pretty excited about the whole thing because she got to sit "all the way in the back!" :-) Dad rode up front with me, and Mom and Shan rode in the middle. We talked about all kinds of different things, reliving some precious memories (things like the time I had been talking on the phone with Shan and I was playing with the garage door opener, not fully paying attention to the fact that I was raising and lowering the door about a hundred times.... It was very late at night and everyone else was in bed... Well, at least until Dad came busting out of his and mom's bedroom, au naturale, and flew down the steps to the garage... I, of course, was in the kitchen and was shocked to see Dad racing downstairs! My brother was close behind, knowing HE wasn't the one in trouble - this time anyway...)

We ate at Cracker Barrel, shopeed a bit, browsed a bit... Then headed for the airport... How about this one - NO parking security check... We just drove up, grabbed a ticket, and parked... After checking in, the TSA inspector instructed us to "Stand over there by the window." Evidently, if you lock you luggage, you are subjected to a different kind of inspection... Well, after about 10-15 minutes, Mom finally asked the TSA person about the bags, to which the person replied, "Oh, yeah, those went through a while ago." Mom was pretty ticked, wondering why no one had bothered to tell us to go ahead, since they were so adamant about us waiting there....

We waited upstairs as Dad went through the line and we watched and waved until we couldn't see him anymore.... Noticing we were visably upset, an airport helper told us about the observation deck upstairs... Now, I have been to the Little Rock airport a zillion times, and I had never known there was an observation deck! We waited and watched Dad's plane... And we waited and watched, and waited and watched... I say this because at least 15 minutes after his scheduled departure time, the plane was still sitting at the gate... Finally, it rolled out and pulled around to taxi... And we waited and watched, watched and waited... Other planes came and went, but Dad's just sat there... 20 minutes... 30 minutes... I finally went to the help desk and asked why his plane had not left the tarmac... I was told that it had left, according to the computer... I then went to the ticket counter, and the man there told me that it had left the gate a while ago. I said, "I know it did because right now it is sitting on the tarmac." Looking at me like I had surely been smoking something other than cigars lately, he said, "No, it already left." I said, "You might want to take a look outside..." I left, heading back to the observation deck...

After another 15 minutes or so, Mom decided she had been there long enough.. And of course, the plan began moving and we watched as Dad and his plane headed for Houston... Some pictures are posted below.... Emily and Tyler also used her video camera to take pictures and movies, so we'll see how those turn out... :-)

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Mom, Tyler and Emily

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Dad, Tyler, and Emily

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Saying Goodbye....

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Mom and Emily watch Dad's Plane Together

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Taking off...

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Heading For Houston...




The Prescott Curley Wolves WON on Friday night! They were down 18-0 at half... Then at the end of the third quarter, the score was 12-18... In the last 30 seconds, they scored and won the game 19-18!!! Next week, the Wolves go to Little Rock to play for the State Championship in our division!! HO-LY COW!! :-) Way to go Wolves!!!





The Razorbacks, however, are done for their season... They chocked this week again, losing in a great game against Florida... No SEC Championship for us this year.... But, we still had a great season, in my opinion... :-)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow...

The first "real" winter weather of the year came blasting through last night. High winds, lots of rain, sleet, and yes, even some snow flurries! Tyler was excited, sure that there would be no school and that he would get to play in the snow all day today... Well, much to his dismay, everything pretty much got a very thin layer of ice only... By "thin layer," I mean just enough to seal the doors on the vehicles shut and make one horse I know very, very ornery at this morning's feeding... :-)


So, I've been playing LUNCHFIGHT online off and on for a while now... I try to play at lunch every day or after I get to the house, but some days I don't get on there at all for whatever different reasons.. Well, as of Friday morning, I hit 5th place on the scoreboard rankings! Very cool.. :-) Check it out! (Though by the time you read this, I may been knocked down from my post....)


Oh, if you're interested, the quote used for the title of this post comes from the Postal Service motto, but did you know the origins of that quote? Well, I didn't, so I checked it out, and you can read about it, but you'll have to scroll down to the section that starts, "TTT: That Post Office Motto."


Have you heard of "UNSchooling?" This is some ploy by certain people who claim to be "homeschooling" their children but in reality, they are not schooling them at all... The children learn what they want when they want, eat what they want when they want, get up and go to bed when they want... What part of REAL LIFE will these children grow up to fit in?? How many businesses do you know that let their employees come and go as they choose, select (or not) the projects/assignments they 'feel' like doing? What are these kids going to do when they get to college age and decide they want to go to college? Okay, let's say they don't bother with college... What employer is going to hire some undisciplined slacker? According to unschoolradical.org, this is a student-led learning situation... "If they have an interest in hockey- you read about hockey- make a hockey stick, figure out how a Zamboni works, etc. Job as “teacher” is more to facilitate learning (read: chauffeur). To suggest and expose and then run with something if they are eager to pursue or learn more."

While I agree with the premise of having student-led education at certain ages/grade levels/etc, this 'unschooling' idea is totally ridiculous... I can't wait to see parents teaching their children algebra, foreign language, etc to these 'students.' In a classroom environment, maybe... At home where they can simply say, "I don’t want to do that!" I hope someone is watching these kids and will do a study of them in about 5 years, 10 years, 15 years....


And, I guess while I'm on the education kick, I might as well throw all my ducks in the air and wait for the shotgun blasts here.... I think we are way over-testing kids... I don't mean subject-specific testing.. I mean "benchmark" testing... You know, I would go insane if I was given a test every 4 weeks or so on my job... Of course, part of the problem is testing Special Ed kids, too... Shan had a great example... I can't remember it specifically, but it would be like giving me a test on the internal workings of a combustion engine, simply because of my age or my 'grade level.' That is, "You have a Master's Degree, so you will take this test on Complex Eigenvalues/Eigenvectors of real and complex matricies." (Okay, for the record, I don't even know what that means - I 'borrowed' it from a web site....)

Of course, for me, the real issue is the fact we are testing these students TO DEATH! No wonder the stress level of students, even in elementary school, is through the roof! I'd be walking on eggshells, pins and needles if every time I turned around, there was another test being thrown in my face!

Next on the chopping block, I'll throw out the fact that when I was in Kindergarten, my biggest accomplishment that I recall was learning how to tie my shoes and recite my ABC's... Now, kids have to know all of that and much more before they even get INTO Kindergarten... My argument is this: I turned out just fine... I went to college, got married, work in a technology-related field, had kids, got my Master's, changed jobs a couple times, etc... So what? Other people I know graduated High School, went to work, had kids, etc... What exactly are our children gaining by having to know much more at earlier stages? And some things are only making education more stressful... Some kids are just not ready for certain skills... Would you give the keys to the car to a 6 year-old? No. Why not? They are not developmentally ready - not just physically, but mentally as well... Same is true for some of the things we are trying to cram into our children's heads.... We spend more time trying to 'catch up' the ones 'behind' than if they just would have waited or if they weren't pushed into things they are not ready for.. Am I saying to coddle them? No... Of course, this brings up another thought... What if we could get rid of the whole "You must graduate in xx years!"

I had this discussion the other day... School could be/should be just like college... You take courses and you earn hours. As you earn hours, you are moved into more and more challenging courses, but nothing that is beyond your capabilities at that time... Instead of "4th grade, 5th grade, etc" based on age or whatever the heck its based on, children progress by PASSING the courses and earning hours.. After XX hours, you move to the next level (even if we continue to call them grades), but it is NOT based primarily on the students' ages... If a student takes two years to move from 4th to 5th because he/she needed more hours or had to repeat a course or courses to get those hours, then that's fine.

It didn't matter how "old" I was when I earned my Bachelor's degree, or my Master's for that matter... I earned HOURS, CREDITS... In some cases, I had to repeat courses... No one cared how old I was and that I was taking "Intro to Programming." Same should be true for school-aged children... In my opinion, we would have some children progressing easily through some 'levels' and maybe getting a little bogged down in others... Then again, you would also have students who excelled through all the levels and who walked away with a diploma at 14 or 15... What is wrong with that? Others would work until they got it, and they would graduate with a diploma at 20 or 21, but you know what? They FINISHED.......

I'm done for now... I'll let you chew on that, and feel free to rip me a new one - after all, this *IS* America... :-)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

There is no tellin....

Tonight, I'm going for the whole "stream of consciousness" approach to posting - quite literally a "what popped in my head" evening... Good luck, and May The Force Be With You....

I decided to try watching "Show Me The Money" tonight... I have not seen it before, so I had no idea what the show was about... Frankly, if Shatner would slip into his Denny Crane character, it might have at least a little humor to it... The premise is kinda cool... Answer trivia questions, but you have to pick how much money you will win or lose before you find out if you are right or wrong... It's kinda neat... I would do well because a lot of the questions are truly random, useless bits of information... :-)

Emily got a Bratz digital video camera... You can see it here... I haven't played with it much yet... I put in the batteries and we took it outside and Emily videotaped Daisy and the goats. It also acts as a 1.3 megapixel camera, which takes okay pictures... You can't really use it indoors unless you have inside lighting that rivals most covered arenas... :-) And you wanna film at night? Fahgeddaboutit! Oh, she got it for Christmas from my brother and his wife... Yes, for Christmas... Yes, she got it on November 29.... I've spared you the need to roll your eyes, sigh, and shake your head - been there, done that...

Okay, "Show Me The Money" just went off and Shatner plugged "Boston Legal.." Now, THAT'S funny.. :-) Of course, the next show is "Daybreak," and I am not interested in watching a 'modern' version of "Groundhog Day."

Have you flipped through the radio stations in your vehicle and you stayed on just long enough for a phrase or two, then when you switched stations, the next thing out of the radio finishes the first station's thought, though not quite as intended? You get something like, "I saw Mommy kissing....the biggest one day...attack on a military base in...your hometown Wal-Mart..." Of course, in my experience, things usually end up either very profound or completely nonsensical... :-) You can sometimes do the same thing with television... :-)

Two Shakes of a lamb's tail... I looked it up... No one really seems to know where this expression comes from, though a lot of people have ideas.... Of course we know what it means, but where/how did it ORIGINATE? Hmmm.... Oh, that reminds me, I have heard the following two expressions all my life and have NO IDEA what they mean: "I'm no Uncle Tom!" and "Get your John Brown rear-end out of here...." I'll have to do some research....

We're supposed to have some really, really nasty weather blowing through Arkansas tonight and tomorrow... Everybody better hit the grocery stores for milk and bread.... LOL, I'm kidding about the milk and bread... Why is it that people go ape-nuts and run to the store for milk and bread?? "Snow!? Sleet!? good Good, man, get me to the store! I am going to crave peanut butter and jelly!"

Hey! The Weather Channel is doing a special visit to Crater of Diamonds! Cool...

I've been debating whether or not to post one or more of my short stories... Of course, by 'short,' I mean they are 5-10 or more pages typed... That'd be a lot to have to read on here.... Of course, my college profs recommended I submit them for publication, but I haven't built up the confidence yet to try that... Then again, what have I got to lose? At this point, they are collecting dust, right? :-)

Are you tired of reading all this stuff yet? Okay, I'll give ya a break.... for now...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Is There A Santa Claus?

All my life, I've heard the response to be, "Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus." But, I have never read the story behind the response... With the help of Google and the rest of the Internet, I found it... And, yes, there IS a Santa Claus... The question was posed in 1897 through a letter to the editor of the New York Sun... Click here to see a copy of the original!

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.



My son asked me not long ago about Santa Claus... Of course, we were in the middle of JCPenney with about a billion little children around... I stalled, but I know he has been told at school that there is no Santa... The truth is St. Nicholas really did exist... Here is a tidbit from about.com: The name "Santa Claus" came from the Dutch "Sinter Klass" pronunciation of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a Christian priest, who later became a bishop. He was a wealthy person, and traveled the country helping others, giving gifts of money and other presents. St. Nicholas chose to remain hidden while giving these gifts, so the children were told to go to sleep quickly or he would not come! While the actual man passed away long ago, today's Santa Claus is more about the legacy left behind by the original - caring, giving, loving... I think one of the most important aspects is that he gave IN SECRET... That is, he sought no recognition for his generosity... From the history, it appears that at least the adults knew, and possibly the children knew who he was also... But, he only left the gifts in secret... There IS a Santa Claus... He lives in each of us who believes - believes in love, caring, giving, and sharing.... and the wonderment of child-like amazement and curiosity....

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

On death and dying....

My last post may have given the impression that I only see death as a way of life, as it were... To be sure, I was as shocked as anyone when I heard the news of Mrs. Ridling's passing (the 30-something year old) away as she did... Yes, it was her time, but that doesn't make it any less shocking or less painful for her family....

Losing someone we love is very, very painful... Whether it's a relative, a close friend, a dear pet... Even though it was their time to pass on, those of us left behind are still left with the memories, the plans, the pain.... I know it was my grandparents' times to go when they passed, but that didn't make it any easier... If something should happen to my Dad while he is in Iraq, or anywhere, I will be completely devastated until I can heal from his loss.... The same is true of Shan, my children, my Mom, other family, close friends....

Being a Christian, I believe in Heaven and Hell and what happens to us after we pass from this life, but knowing all of that doesn't make the pain of losing someone any less hurtful.... Maybe that is why I am taking the 'everything will be okay' approach to Dad's employment excursion.... But, like I said before, something could happen to any one of us at any time..... We can't be afraid of it, though... Live life as best we can... And be thankful if we get a tomorrow to fix what we can...


Since I'm on the subject, I have always wondered why people say things like, "We should move on with such-and-such... He would have wanted it that way..." How do you know that? For all we know, that person would "want" the world to stop doing whatever it is the world was doing.... Maybe what that person "wants" is for his employees (let's say this was the CEO of a self-made billion-dollar empire) to seek out their own fortunes and fame.... Of course, if that was the case, I'm sure his/her Will would have specified the break-up of the company.... I once heard that Bill Gates is not leaving all his riches to his children... Will they get something? Of course... But, basically he earned his money and built his own empire, and he is not about to just hand over his billions to his kids... Teach them the respect and determination he had, or something... Frankly, I find this highly noble. Should I be blessed someday with gobs of money (either by earning it, or by winning the lottery), I would do the same.... Provide for my children, but not spoil them...... (For the record, they have grandparents, aunts and uncles already taking care of that) :-)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I must be getting old... or something....

For the record, the posts today will not be in chronological order... :-) Not that it matters, but ya never know, right?



Can you say dork?

Okay, while at target yesterday, I saw a guy wearing a shirt that read, "I F***ed your girlfriend." Only, it wasn't blanked out... Maybe it's just me, but whatever happened to common decency, or at least courtesy? Okay, when I was in about 6th grade, my brother and I played soccer and we owned shirts that read, "Offside Your Ass!" We wore them to school one day... ONE day... LOL, we weren't allowed to wear them to school after that... Ahh, the good ol' days... But, I must be getting older or something because I still believe the "F-word" should have limited public exposure... I mean, maybe if the shirt said, "I F'ed..." or maybe, "I Effed..." or something... Maybe part of it is 'shock value,' though once I read it, I simply ignored the guy. Once I saw that, in my mind (right or wrong), he was instantly lowered in 'social staus/worthiness' in my mind. I am not saying that I am better than he is. I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of, but that's how it hit me... I am not naive... You can buy shirts, mugs, etc that read, "I like to F***" and "I [heart] F***ing." Fine to hang out with your buds, but to go shopping at Target? Come on....


Tigers Chomp on Ham for Thanksgiving....

Arkansas lost to LSU... That makes a couple people I know very happy... :-) Not me... I was really hoping UA was going to hand the Tigers their own tail... Of course, it appears that Houston Nutt is now taking coaching lessons from Bill Cowher... Why does ANY coach leave in the quarterback when that player is not producing? Hurt his ego? You know what? If you are helping the team LOSE, then you are taken out of the game because of it, YEAH, your poor ego gets hurt... Get over it. Learn from it, and maybe next time you WONT be taken out of the game... But, is Nutt listening to me? Nope. Leave Casey Dick in the whole game and use McFadden for the 'trick' stuff... And how did that work for the Hogs? Not very well...



Ravens Obliterate Steel Curtain

Speaking of not very well.... Ben played the entire game except for a brief stint where he was knocked for a loop... Why!? He set a RECORD for how many times a Steeler has been sacked in one game.... Not a record to be proud of, to say the least... Meanwhile, can someone tell me what the heck is wrong with all these coaches that leave in their "star" players when those players are NOT PERFORMING??? Help me, please... Explain it, because maybe I just don't understand the thought process involved where you leave in a player who is getting killed and leadning your team to one of the worst beatings ever... Oh, wait... Perhaps the coach is too busy thinking about how this will be his last season with this team and he doesn't really give a rip anyway.... Hmmm.... Just a thought...


Laughing All the way down....

We took the kids to see "Flushed Away" last night... Surprisingly, it was actually a pretty cute movie. We had our reservations about it, mainly because the commercials and trailers we had seen just didn't seem to make this a 'must-see' kind of movie to us... But, we decided to surprise the kids and take them out to a movie. We offered up "Happy Feet" and "Flushed Away." We had forgotten that "Santa Clause 3" was out... That's okay, though, because we had a really good time at the show... Popcorn and Milk Duds! The ultimate mix for your theater enjoyment! Ever tried it? Dump a box of Milk Duds into your popcorn and mix it all around.. As you eat, you end up with random handfuls of the mixture - sometimes no duds, sometimes several... Very good stuff! :-) Afterward, we went to Outback - always a great choice in my book! Emily ordered STEAK! We were still picking our jaws up off the floor when the waiter came around.... She ate half of it, too! Of course, what she REALLY liked were the layered Aussie Cheese Fries... :-) Yeah, buddy!


The day after Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas tree and decorations. The kids had a good time helping out, putting ornaments on the tree. We mainly have Disney-themed ones, though there are a variety of Hallmark (Corvettes, knick knacks, etc)... Emily asked why we didn't have Christmas "outside," so I put up the lighted garland around the deck rails... I'll have to get some pictures and let y'all have a peek... :-) I love Christmas!


This week, we gear up for Dad's departure to Houston, then Kuwait, then on to Iraq. He has to pass some medical exams first, but I'm betting he'll pass them... Mom is getting more and more panicked as the days get closer... I'm taking the approach that things will be okay. Maybe that's naive, maybe unrealistic, we don't know yet... Here's the weird thing that is running through my head about the whole thing... My philosophy in life is that when it is your time to go, then it's your time... So, is it possible that one can 'tempt' fate? I mean, today we learned that a 30-something year-old woman passed away. She had an aneurism a week ago, and on Friday, she was on the fast track to being released from the hosptial... Then, she passed away to most folks' surprise.... It was her time.... So, it shouldn't matter if you are at home changing a light bulb, driving down the road at 90 mph, or halfway around the world fighting a battle.... When you have accomplished whatever it is you were brought into this world to accomplish, you are called 'back home.' So, for me, I don't think my Dad's time will come while he is in Iraq... But if it does, then it would have come even if he were right here... The huge upside to this whole experience, I think, will be the fact that he can say he did this... I mean, to say you worked in Iraq for a year (or two) is not something everyone can say.... Very cool in my book... As I may have mentioned before - my Dad surprises me in some amazing ways sometimes....

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

REAL Cars! How Cool is THIS!?

While watching CARS with Emily, I decided for fun to search for Lightning McQueen... Well, I came across various sites that showed off the REAL versions of the movie's stars! I wish I had known they were touring around before the movie premiered, I would have tried to see them myself.... Ah well.... :-)

Enjoy the pictures... They are the property of their respective owners, okay?

Lightning McQueenSally Carrera
Doc HudsonMater - Like Tuh-Mater, but without the TUH!

A new layout, SharePoint, and my laptop's back!

Okay, so here's the deal... I like(d) the colors and layout of the template I was using (Rounders 3), but my screens are set at very high resolution, so everything looked like it had been squeezed into the center of the screen.. Frankly, it made me a little crazy... So, I poked around and found a new one (Stretch Denim) that actually FILLS THE SCREEN, no matter how big or small the screen resolution is! YAY!


I spent the past few days learning the newest version of SharePoint (A collaborative web application) with John, Marilyn, Cathi and Brian (not my brother.. this is the same guy that won the iPod!). Oh, speaking of the iPod, Brian told me that he DOES get to keep the iPod because his 8 year-old knows more about the different flavors than anyone should know, let alone a child, so it is not the one his kiddo wants... Normally, I'd be on a soapbox about picky children, but, well, this IS an iPod we're talking about, so hey, if the kiddo doesn't want this one, that's just tooo bad for them, eh... :-) I digress... Anyway, the SharePoint class was set up with each person using THREE, count them THREE, virtual PC's running on their computer at the same time... It was the most painfully slow setup I think I have ever been a part of... The instructor did a great job of trying to keep everyone motivated and helped us deal wit the limitations of the technology, but COME ON! Many of us were spitting nails by the end of it... (For those of you playing along at home, VirtualPC 2004 is a program free from Microsoft that allows you to run a full-blown computer INSIDE your Windows XP... So, in our class, we started the computer and it booted to Windows XP... Inside VirtualPC, we ran ANOTHER version of XP, plus two Windows Server 2003 machines... We were running three computers on our one, 'tricking' our one into thinking it was actually three other computers... It is very cool stuff, really! Just too slow for what we were trying to do....) For those of us that relish in nostalgia, VirtualPC lets us install good ol' DOS and run old games on our brand-spanking-new computers... :-)


I am sitting in my living room, typing this on my newly-renovated laptop! :-) The keyboard is fantastic! Obviously, I was given the latest incarnation of the TabletPC keyboard, and it feels so much better than the one I had! That alone was worth sending this computer off to be fixed! Of course, the fact that it actually BOOTS now is also a HUGE plus! :-) Is it any faster? Well, only in that I lost all the little 'doo-dad' programs I used to have in it... This happens to also include programs that I had on here for work, that I will have to see if I can find again (Like one program that allows me to connect my laptop to Tandberg video systems and upgrade their firmware! UGH!) Anyway, I am VERY happy to have my laptop back... Of course, I have to admit that I did enjoy using Shan's new Dell... :-) Though, I have noticed that if I move the laptop just right while it is plugged in, it switches to battery... I'll have to keep my eye on that......


For the record, this is the first year I can think of that I would actually like to go out and hit the sales at 5am... Where did this come from?? I have no idea... Seriously... I would almost rather be hit with a baseball bat than have to endure the madness that is After-Thanksgiving Day Sales.... I'm sure I will not go anywhere near a sale, but still... the... stores.... are.... calling....... must... resist....


For no "good" (meaning logical) reason, I think I am going to start a list of people I know, or have known, or have met.... I plan on including family (of course), friends, "famous" people (like Danny Glover!) and "sorta" famous people (like Congressman Mike Ross)... Why do this? I dunno... Why not.. I think it will be fun to see who I remember from 5th grade, ya know? LOL... I know, just put me away now.... Though, the song, "These are the Daves I know, I know, these are the Daves I know..." comes to mind.... Let's see, there's Dave Hasselberg, Dave Phillips, David Devanchek, hmmm.... I could be on to something.... :-) Then again, maybe not...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Something New and blowdryer.com.....

I am trying something a little different, so we'll see how it goes... I am posting this through email since the internet here at the hotel is a little wiggy... Guess we'll see... :-)

So, check it out... I surprised Shan with a present... I bought her a Dell laptop to help her with her National Teaching Certification stuff! Of course,since MY laptop is still being returned to me from Toshiba, she got quite a kick out of turning to me this morning and asking, "So, would YOU like to borrow MY laptop?" I asked her if she ever thought she would be asking that question, especially to ME!? It was funny! :-)

The other day, Shan's blowdryer quit working. We were talking about it, and I said something about running to Wal-Mart to get a new one... Emily piped up at that time and said, "Why don't you just go to blowdryer.com?" Emily is such a child of the 2k's... I mean, forget Walmart, forget Fred's, her response to almost any situation? DOT COM IT! :-)

Sharepoint class starts tomorrow (Monday).. Should be interesting... Definitely fun, since most of the people in the class will be K-12! :-)

There is a tunnel on I-540 that cuts through the Ozarks... Now, I grew up around Pittsburgh, so the Ft. Pitt tunnels were a pretty big deal... Then, I lived in Colorado and the Eisenhower tunnel is a very big deal... Given my points of reference, the tunnel we have to pass through to get to Fayetteville is just not that big a deal... And they have about 50 telephone boxes through the tunnel... Seriously, like one every 20 feet or something stupid... If I remember, the Ft. Pitt tunnel (which I would guess-timate to be at least twice as long) has like 3 places you could find a pass-through walkway and I'm not sure there was a phone in the tunnel at all... I could be wrong... Not likely, mind you... But I could be.. :-)

The steelers won today! The Hogs won Saturday! The Prescott Curley Wolves won Friday night! It's like some weird planet alignment thing going on here... I sent John (the guy I work with) a link to my blog... He said, "This is too much like a diary, man... I'm sorry!" I laughed and told him I totally understood..:-) Sometimes, this is a lot like a diary... Other times, it's just random junk filling my head... :-)

In either case, I appreciate you reading this, whoever you may be! :-)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wind in them thar hills...

Welcome to Wednesday's random rambling! :-)
This morning started off with a trip across the parking lot to Denny's. The guy that served us was so out of it he forgot his own name when he came over to the table! Since John qualifies for the Senior menu, he opted for some kind of waffle slam thing... LOL, I went for one of their Grand Slam deals... Oh, did I mention? It was raining and freezing, but the worst part was the WIND! Holy cow! In fact, I'm pretty sure there were flying cows! After breakfast, it was off to class.....


Class started off with a lab exercise we didnt get to finish (well, we didnt even start it really) yesterday. Things were not looking good by lunch... I felt pretty lost, but pushed along anyway... John and I both noticed that either the folks in this class aren't too friendly, or maybe they are just too serious or something... We joked and kidded a bit, but we were met with the chorus of crickets chirping.... What was up with that? Well, we warned our instructor that we would be back next week, and we'd be bringing a crowd... There are 6 or 7 people enrolled in next week's class, and 5 of those represent various K-12 organizations, so we all know each other.. :-) Now, THAT will be a fun class... The instructor already threatened to assign seats and separate us all...
As the day wore on, things got better in class as far as understanding goes... I admit, I skipped an exercise, but really, it is one that I know I will never use... And if I do use it, then I have it in the book to refer to! :-)


The temperature dropped all day long... The rain stayed, the wind blew hard, and we avoided the outdoors as much as humanly possible! After class, we decided to have pizza delivered, so we wouldn't have to brave the weather - we'd make someone else do it for us! :-) now, here's the kicker... We ordered Domino's. There is a Dominos place about 3.5 miles from here, and another that is a hair further than that... We called the closest one... They cant deliver to us at the hotel because they are the ROGERS Dominos and we are in BENTONVILLE... Give me a break... So, I dont know if all Dominos are this way or not, but we had to listen to about 60 seconds of commercials before we talked to the girl who would take our order... We were told it would be about an hour before we would get our pizza.... For the record, it was worth the wait... :-)


You never really know what kids will say or do... While on the phone with Shan, in the background Emily asked if I missed them since I am away this week. I said I did. Shan told me that Emily ran her hand across her forehead and said, "WHEW!" :-) Gotta love the kiddos.... I talked to Emily for a bit tonight, and it occurred to me that as she is getting older, the amount of time she spends talking has grown exponentially.... She ran through about 100 different things, and I'm sure I only caught half of them, maybe... Books, AWANAS, winning at a game, school, long-sleeve shirts, coats, you name it... I'm sure we covered it... :-) Tyler, on the other hand, inherited my rather lacking in phone conversation - he gets on, says what he needs to, and gets off the phone... For me, it is not that I don't WANT to talk on the phone, I just don't know what to talk about or what to say when I do get on the phone... And, I generally don't like sitting there not saying anything at all... So, I usually say what I want to/need to and then I'm off the phone... Nothing against the person I'm talking to, it's just something in me that I just need to hang up before the dead air rules the conversation... Maybe it's a leftover from my radio days.... Dead air is a bad, bad thing in radio, so maybe that carries over in my phone conversation (or lack thereof, really)... Then again, maybe I just suck at conversation... :-)


And with that, I'll shut up now... :-) Thursday is the last day of class! YAY!

And another thing...

I almost forgot: After we left the mall last night, we drove back toward the hotel and came across The Promenade at Pinnacle Hills... Open air mall... Hot Topic, Candy Craze... Instead of having a roof over your head, though, you drive around to the store(s) you want to visit, park, and then walk around to each storefront... This past summer, we took a trip to the Louisiana Boardwalk (see previous post) and this is like that but about 100 times bigger... It was actually very surreal... It also turns out that this place is expanding big-time, as there is lots of construction around this Promenade, too... In fact, it is so expansive, we came to traffic light and made a turn, thinking it would lead us back to I-540.. Instead, it lead to the "Bridge to Nowhere." Lucky for us, there was fencing at the end of the bridge... We felt pretty dumb until we noticed the car behind us had evidently followed us, thinking we knew where we were going... LOL, what would give anyone the idea that we had any idea we knew what we were doing??? That's funny to think about.....

Catfish over Coals, the Razorback Store, and Snow...

Tuesday began with a trip to the Krispy Kreme across the street from the hotel... Now, most of you know I am NOT a KK fan... I don't like their 'regular' doughnuts, but since they make cake ones, I can bear it... From there, off to the SQL class...


I quickly realized the class I am taking is not really the class I need... Okay, I'll need to know how to set up and install the software, but that is a one-time thing.. Once it's done, it's done - for my situation anyway... I also quickly realized I was about 3 feet under water and drowning quickly.... I managed to keep up, but I am one of those people that needs the 'step-by-step' instructions... One of the State Technology Coordinators calls them 'Tracy Steps,' after someone in his office who needs every little step broken out for her... That is how I learn... The book we are using for this class? It's more of the 'big picture' variety... They teach you the concepts and ideas, then present you with a 'real world' scenario, and you have to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit... I think my box is missing a few pieces... :-) Heck, at one point, John looked at the assignment, laughed and got up and walked out for a bit - too tickled to keep his seat... Yes, it has been THAT kind of training...

What we THOUGHT we were taking was a SQL (pronounced as 'sequel' like in the movies) programming class... WRONG-O! Ah, well, I'm sure this will come in handy when we set up our SQL server... really... I'm sure it will! Right?! :-)


Okay, after class, we decided to hang out at the hotel for a bit before embarking on a quest to find the Fayetteville Mall... We took a wrong turn, or the wrong exit or something.. Anyway, we ended up finding AQ Chicken... The 'all tourists must eat here' place when in NW Arkansas, apparently... So, we did... I had the "Catfish Over Coals." Basically, grilled catfish which is then roasted over open coals... meaning, burnt to crisp on the outside... :-) I ordered it on the suggestion of the waitress, and she did a pretty good job... Of course, the thing LOOKED like it was chicken, so even though I knew I had ordered fish, my first bite threw me a bit because in my head, I was saying, "This looks like chicken...but tastes like fish....what the??" All in all, though, AQ's was pretty good... Certainly no Goucho's (see earlier post), but also no where near the COST of Gouchos either.. :-)

We did eventually make it to the mall... John was on a quest for the Razorback Store... And I can see why... If you are a Razorback fan, or know one, and you have not been to this store, you are missing something huge! Holy smokes! If you can think it, they pretty much have it... I grabbed a wallet for Tyler, a change-purse for Emily, a couple things for my truck (decals, though I would have loved to have the Arkansas Razorback new logo design trailer hitch cover - not for 50 bucks though!), and something for Shan... Yes, I know she reads this, so I'm not telling her what I got... :-) Shirts, toddler outfits, helmets, pants, lamps, stickers, tattoos, figurines, music-playing bottle-openers, rattles, you name it.. Seriously... Like Ragu - it's in there... :-)

From there, we made our way to the Disney Store... Ahh, the Disney Store! Man, I have not been in one in years since they closed the one in Little Rock... I was in hog heaven (pardon the pun reference to the previous store...). They have a sale on all things Cars.. I could have spent a fortune on stuff for ME alone.. :-) But, I didn't.. I bought a few things for Christmas, and since I will be back next week, I'm sure I'll be visiting the store again.. :-)


The weather forecast called for major storms, etc... If they came through, we never heard them... Now, it was raining when we woke up Wednesday morning, and the forecast is calling for light snow... Yes, wake up at 50 degrees and that is the HIGH for the day... 39 by 8pm and even colder tonight.... Maybe I need to visit good ol' Lewis and Clark's clearance section... :-)


I'll write about today's (Wednesday's) adventure later....