Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hot Like Bea


The folks at Pyzam.com (the ones that made my cool Indians blog background) have a slew of graphics you can put on any site. When I saw the one above, I laughed out loud! I think there's a "Weird Al" song being born.... LOL

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

High winds and holding back the hot air

Tuesday began with a trip about 2.5 hours up the road for a meeting and Interactive Adventures overview (that is, virtual field trips/interactive lessons via interactive video). The 9:00am start time meant that I had to leave the house at 6:30 Tuesday morning. The main obstacle I faced during the trip were the ever-increasing winds with a ton of rain. At times, traffic was on a 70-mph Interstate only traveling at about 45-50 mph. As the day wore on, the winds increased to the point that trees fell, power poles fell, and general mayhem ensued. At the time of this post, there are about 80,000 people without power around various parts of the state. During our meeting, the power went out and had not come back on before we called it quits.

The drive home did not have the rain, but the winds blew much harder. 18-wheelers were being blown from lane to lane, as were just about every other vehicle on the road. Crossing the Arkansas River was the worst. Winds coming across the river would divide above and below the bridge, creating all kinds of weird 'wind tunnel' driving conditions.

Shan's Dad has been fighting downed trees all over our county. It turns out, the weather folks are calling for snow/sleet for most of Arkansas on Thursday night/Friday morning. Basically, a big mess.


On the way to the meeting, I made a conscious decision to keep my mouth shut as much as possible during the meeting. I know it's hard to believe, but I am usually making all kinds of smart remarks and adding my 2 cents as often as I can. Today, I decided to curtail that. It did not go unnoticed. By the time lunch rolled around, the people around me were asking me if I was okay, since I was "being awfully quiet." I told them I had made the decision to keep my mouth shut and let other folks have a say.

It lasted about 10 minutes after that conversation. Without getting into specifics (because I believe we are going to give the particular interactive lesson provider another chance to show they know what they're doing), the last presentation we took part in was probably one of the worst ones I have ever seen. Let's just say that it started with a history lesson and ended with a discussion of a description of a bizarre paranormal event that the presenter believed she had. Things deteriorated from there, and there were a couple of folks at the meeting that just HAD to egg it all on. After the presentation, I decided I had kept my trap shut long enough. :-)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cold weather affects a lot of things


We left the house yesterday (Saturday), as the temperature indicator in Shan's van read 34 degrees. According to the weatherman, the high for the day was going to be around 55. We headed for the local car wash to vacuum and wash the van. The local car wash is not one in which the occupants can remain in the vehicle during the washing process. At least one person must be outside in order to operate the high-pressure wash and the soap wand. That person would be me. Did I mention that it was 34 degrees?

Shan's Mom was in the next bay, trying to wash her van. You see, the goal for the day was to drive to Little Rock, pull on to a lot, and let the people know that we were there to make TWO sales.

The sprayer in Shan's Mom's bay had some kind of serious problem. No matter what setting was selected and no matter how hard the trigger was pulled, the water came out at a very low pressure. Rather than fight the battle any longer, she got change from the changer and had planned to move her van to the bay we had used. Instead, she went over to the washer and plopped her money into the slot! All we heard was a very loud, "You Idiot!" A moment later, she came out from the bay to show us that she had once again activated the defective sprayer. Let's try this again.

Before getting more change, she moved her van, THEN got change and washed her van.

Fast Forward. It is now almost 2:00 and we pull up to Landers in Benton (outside Little Rock), and the temperature indicator reads "36." Umm, where is the 55-degree weather? We drive around the lot, and the vans are parked in the back behind all the other vehicles (okay, technically they parked at the side of the dealership, but it might as well be the back). Now, we could not find them on our own, so one of the lot attendants pulled in front of us with a 'girlie blue' Dodge Ram and waved us on. In fact, he waved us around every corner her turned - like we would forget that he was the one in the blue truck we were following.

We got out, looked at the vans in the 36-degree weather. The wind was blowing, so it felt even colder, and of course we had made the trip expecting the 'largest dealer in Arkansas' to have the van(s) we were looking for. And, did they? Uh, no. A sales guy showed up and asked if we would be willing compromise on the features Shan wanted. Perhaps there are some features, but others (like power sliding doors) were not negotiable. Then, they just wanted to get us inside so we could crunch some numbers and they could order a van for us. No thank. We had other places to check out, plus we knew the van she wanted was at a dealership closer to home.

To keep things short and sweet, let's say that neither Crain nor Fletcher had what we wanted. Tyler was disappointed because he had brought DVDs to watch in the new van.

After a break, we went to supper at Macaroni Grill where I had a lasagna that was big enough to feed the whole family. I ate a bunch of it, but brought the rest home. After supper, Emily asked if they (Tyler and Emily) could spend the night in Little Rock. During the discussion, Shan said something about the kids not having change of clothes etc. Emily chimed in: "I have clothes. I packed my suitcase and it is in MawMaw's van!" That sealed the deal.

We came home without a new van, without the kids, and without seeing the temperature ever getting above 38 degrees.



From the "Kids imitate what they see on TV" department:
CHESTERTON, Ind. - Two fourth-grade boys mimicking a scene from the movie "A Christmas Story" wound up with their tongues stuck to a frozen flagpole. Gavin Dempsey and James Alexander were serving on flag duty at Jackson Elementary School Friday morning, with the job of raising and lowering the school's flags. They decided to see if their tongues really would stick to the cold metal. "I decided to try it because I thought all of the TV shows were lies, but turns out I was wrong," Gavin said. Karen Alexander, James' mother , said her son told her he got the idea from the movie, which is based on stories about a boy growing up in the northwest Indiana community of Hammond in the 1940s. "I can't believe he did it, but they learned their lesson," she said. James said he plans to eat a lot of ice cream to help nurse his wound. "When you're young, you're just messing around," he said. Billie Dempsey, Gavin's mom, said a nurse called them to tell them the boys' tongues were bleeding.

"The nurse asked them, 'OK, who double-dog dared who?'" Billie Dempsey said, a reference to a phrase that a character in the movie used to dare another child to stick his tongue to the pole.




48 year old Win Hof (Yeah, that's his name) set a world record by sitting in a cube of ice for 72 minutes. If you just gotta read about it:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,325857,00.html

Just a quickie

Tonight, it is late after a day of car shopping (I'l post more about that later). But, we received the following link in an email, and beiong the MiJac fam that I am, I found this to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Enjoy!
http://www.biertijd.com/mediaplayer/?itemid=3076

Friday, January 25, 2008

Play the Candidate Match Game


This was pretty cool, and I enjoyed seeing how my responses affected the bar graph. http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/candidate-match-game.htm

Random Lunchtime Thoughts

Now that Blogger is no longer blocked at work, I can actually jot down some ideas during lunch. Well, technically, I'm not sure if I am "allowed" to do this, or if it violates the policy. I think I'm okay. If not, well, then I guess I'll have plenty of time for blogging, huh?


Ever have a "stupid morning?" As I got ready got work, I couldn't find my wallet. That's not a big deal, since I tend to leave it in the truck. As I pulled out to take Tyler to school, I realized I did not see my wallet in the truck. We looked and couldn't find it anywhere. My next logical conclusion? It must still be on my desk at the office (I hate sitting on the bloomin thing, so I will often place it on my desk to give my rear-end a rest). About the time I got to work, I remembered that I had bought a couple 2-liters of Coke for Shan yesterday - AFTER work. So, yes, that means I had my wallet with me on the way home, so there was no way it would be in the office. Crap. Normally, I wouldn't care about not having my wallet, since I'm usually a safe enough driver not to get stopped, but I was in the mood for some Taco Bell for lunch, and as you can see by the fact that I am posting AT LUNCH, there was no going to TB... Well, that's okay, too, seeing as how the "fat ass" meal I had from McDonald's yesterday (Quarter Pounder, Large Fries, Large Tea, and a free Apple Pie), I didn't really NEED to go out to eat.

John just reminded me that they were serving soup in the break room here at work. Guess I'll go do lunch after all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pondering

On her show today, Ellen Degeneres had a 13-year old boy who beat the tar out of an intruder with a bat. He was on the phone with 911 and you can hear the kid tell the would-be robber, "I'm sorry" after he hit him with the bat. That is some kind of kid!



When I heard that Heath Ledger died, my first reaction was, "Who?" I had no idea who he was. Of course, I realize who he was now, and it is very unfortunate that there were (or appear to have been) drugs involved. I think it's funny that most folks seem to be taking the 'accidental' route. When Anna Nicole was found dead, few people said "accidental." Interesting.



Emily stayed home sick today (she had been throwing up the night before and had a low-grade fever), and we watched Toy Story. It amazes me that a 12-year old animated movie is still as funny now as it was back then. Of course, little things like the Dinoco gas station have new meaning since Cars. I remember when Toy Story first came out and I saw "Binford" on the toolbox. I knew then it would be a classic.



Last Friday, Marilyn and I left the office for the Alltel store in order to trade in our aging cell phones. We got the Hue (Samsung R500). I like the fact that I could swap the berry-red cover for a blue one that matches my truck and MP3 player. It has a lot of cool features, most of which will never be used. The digital camera and video camera wont get used unless I happen to be witnessing something that I want to record for selling off to some news agency. I may use the MP3 player function, but I already have an MP3 player, so why bother? Internet features? No point, our work cell plan does not allow surfing or even texting. But, the phone is MUCH nicer than the one I had, and that's what matters to me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, General Lee

No, not the car from Dukes of Hazzard.



In Arkansas, we celebrate MLK and Gen. Robert E. Lee's birthday on the same day. We're allowed to "choose" which holiday we'd like to celebrate. State offices, schools, etc, are closed in observance of the combined holiday. Mississippi and Alabama are the only other two states that also give their residents a choice.

So, if you had today off, then feel free to pay homage to whichever person you wish.


Tyler's basketball team won their tournament!! On Saturday, Tyler had to guard a kid that was at least a head taller, if not a head and a half. This was a big boy, and Tyler hung in there. The kid finally so ticked off at Tyler's ability to keep him guarded that he finally just dumped Tyler on the ground and got a foul. Did that deter Tyler? Nope, he got back up and kept right on guarding him. Excellent!


I know the writer's strike has caused all of our favorite shows to come to a stand-still, but we watched whatever new episode of Boston Legal ABC ran, and I have to say that I was glad to see they gave Denny Crane his dignity back. The show has been turning Denny Crane into a bumbling idiot, and I am so sick of it, I almost hate watching the show anymore. His court appearance was classic Denny Crane without the stupid "mad cow" thing (okay there was a little of it). I do not for one moment believe there is an ABC writer out there who is reading this, but on the off chance a Google search for "Boston Legal Denny Crane" brings people to this post, I want to let the writers know that I am one BL fan who is SICK AND TIRED of William Shatner's character being treated like a blabbering, mindless buffoon. Give Denny Crane back to us.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Random (not so deep) Thoughts

Tyler had a basketball game on Wednesday night, so as Mom and I drove to the game, we passed by a Ford dealership, and because the new season of American Idol was fresh in my mind, I noticed something:

I know I am not anywhere near being the first person to notice this, but, um, the AI logo looks remarkably similar to the Ford logo. And, wouldn't you know it? Ford SPONSORS Idol! Hmmm... Coincidence? I'm not thinkin' so.


Speaking of Idol, Shan and I have been enjoying watching the good, bad, and ugly. At least this year, they seem to be showing more of the folks who actually make it to Hollywood. We both wish Idol would show at least a snippet and a name of each person who made it. Yeah, the goofballs are fun to watch, but really, Idol should be past the point of using those gimmicks to get people to watch. Look, loyal watchers will keep watching. How many new viewers are really coming to Idol? I'd guess not many. So, keep trimming the bad auditions, and hype up the good ones.


I read an article about a virtual school in Texas that kinda mixes the home-schooling idea with state standards-based requirements. An excellent idea, though to me, there is room for improvement. This is an excerpt I wrote in an email to my colleagues (we were discussing the article):
I think this is a great concept. I think the only drawback is that the students have to be at home to participate. Not everyone can be a stay-at-home parent. If the school district would offer the same program within the school building's walls, it could be a wonderful way for kids to learn. The fact that there are certified teachers monitoring and teaching/facilitating, and that the students are held to the same standards as any other public school student, goes a long way from the 'home schooling' scenario, and as it is set up currently, actually competes head-on with home-schooled programs.

I hate when so-called 'experts' come in and say things like "nothing is conclusive as to whether or not these classes are any better than traditional classes." Here's evidence for you - the student performs better in front of a computer-based environment than in a traditional classroom setting. Period. Is it "better?" For that child, yes. For every child? No. But, isn't that the whole theory behind multiple intelligences anyway!? People do not learn the same way. DUH!

Like I said, I think what would make this program even more successful (or programs like it) would be to offer the same opportunity to students who could not stay at home, so that you'd have students at home and students in the building all enrolled in the same virtual classes. I guess those would "virtually virtual" classes... :-)



Have you ever noticed that your vehicle is only cluttered beyond recognition when someone wants to ride with you in it? You could have washed your car a week ago, had it all cleaned out, just waiting for someone to ask for a ride. The moment you have to load up some things, or like me a lot of things, THAT's when someone asks for a ride. Now, I know, the 'easy' answer to that is - Well, keep your vehicle clean 24/7 and you won't have that problem. I am not that organized nor am I anal enough to pull that one off. So, what is my point here? None, other than the initial question I posed: Have you ever noticed that your vehicle is only cluttered beyond recognition when someone wants to ride with you in it?



I have started playing around with podcasting. I am using PodOMatic (http://davidinark.podomatic.com/) and I like it. I mean, the site can be a bit slow and sometimes cantankerous (like most sites), but it will be easy enough to show teachers how to do it and they can start up their own podcasts. Best of all, it's free. Hello!? My recordings are things I have posted on my distance learning blog, so they may not be earth-shattering, but it is giving me practice and materials with which to train, right? :-)



I noticed there is a LOT of discussion as to what Progressive Field's new nickname should be. Some people suggested "The Prog" or "The Sive" but, really, that's just not right. My favorite suggestion thus far, though? "The Field Formerly Known as Jacobs" heh-heh, there are some twisted Tribe fans out there!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunday Funday and stupid people

While reading John's blog, I was curious about "Sunday Funday." He said this was the 2nd time he participated, so I thought I would do some research and find out just what "Sunday Funday" was all about. Depending on who you ask, it has various definitions - from drinking all day to a really bad Nintendo game:

According to UrbanDictionary.com - "a made up holiday to give 20-somethings an excuse to get smashing drunk every Sunday night, inevitably resulting in a killer hangover every Monday morning."

According to just about every other site I found, "Sunday Funday" was a game released for the NES in 1995. In the game, you are a boy on a skateboard who is late for Sunday School. Bullies, dynamite-throwing rodents and other baddies try to stop you from getting to Sunday School. All the while, your Sunday School teacher yells at you for being late and not being at SS. Maybe it's just me, but battling anything even closely related to dynamite-wielding gophers would be a sign that maybe I didn't need to go to SS that day. If you'd like to learn more (for whatever reason), check out this "review."

So, I asked John about it, and he said it was something one of his blogging buddies had started up a couple years ago. The blogger posts requests for two of something (this year - comedy duos), for which John found a clip of "Who's on First" and a Jackie Gleason clip, both on YouTube (of course).


This morning (Monday) was so hectic, that when Emily got to school, her teacher noticed her shirt (a button up with collar, no less) was on BACKWARDS. When asked about it, Emily said something like, "Well, my parents were running around like crazy. They didn't even brush my hair." How she didn't realize her shirt was backwards is a mystery. Then again, for a s crazy as it was this morning, I'm not surprised. Let's just say the height of the frenzy came when the blender was smoking and spewing bits of rubber from the rubber gears that sat (as in they are gone now) at the bottom of the container and the top of the speed selector. Why would anyone use RUBBER for high-speed gearing of a blender, anyway!? UGH!


Here we go again with stupid people related to campaigns and elections. On the radio, I heard that Clinton was in trouble for something about Obama's past drug use or something. Since I had no idea what they were talking about, I looked it up. What did I find? Another "Who cares, big whoop."

"It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?"' said Shaheen, whose wife, Jeanne, is the state's former governor and is running for the U.S. Senate next year. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome," Shaheen said.

Someone tell me how in the heck this is racial? The man used drugs when he was younger. Of COURSE questions will come up about giving and dealing - I don't care WHAT COLOR the person is! Give me a friggin break.

Now, I have to say that the Obama "pledge" fiasco may or may not have been true. Well, I have seen the YouTube video, and it was not during the Pledge, but rather during the "Star-Spangled Banner." Sorry, in my book, that's the same thing.

I also heard an interesting interview on NPR today with several African-American (or black or "of color" or whatever we're supposed to say these days) women, and they made an observation that I had not thought of before: Black women are being made to choose between voting for a woman and voting for a black. Each woman made an argument for both sides, but they each came back to the same idea: "What legacy do we wish to leave for our children?" (Their words). I can see where that would be a very difficult position to be in... I am not black, so I do not know the difficulty in answering that question.

Regardless of your feelings on any of the things brought up here, one thing is for certain: playing the 'race' card will never go away in this country. 100 years, 200 years, 10,000 years from now, race will always serve as a crutch, an excuse, a reason. If people would stop MAKING it a reason, an excuse, it would quit BEING one.

But you see, the fact that there are Miss Black USA pageants, Black history month, NAACP, there will always be racial separation in this country. Why? Because until we truly take down the barriers and have only ONE contest, one history, we will always have division. In fact, I foresee a time when the division is so great that we have Black history month, Native American history month, Hispanic history month, Anglican history month, Asian-American history month, Arabic-American history month, etc. We will also have Miss Caucasian USA, Miss Hispanic, etc....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Posting, but not posting.

Man, I can't really razz my aunt for her lack of posting anymore, can I? It has been DAYS since I've posted, but I didn't realize it because I have ben so busy posting updates to my Indians Cards blog.

I have been FINALLY finishing up on my "12 Days of Christmas" promotion on there, and I thought I had posted on here about the new name for the Indians home field, but obviously, I did not... The Indians stadium will no longer be Jacob's Field, and instead it will be called Progressive Field (not the soup, the insurance folks). What a bummer....


We went to a basketball jamboree today (Saturday) and watch Tyler play some b-ball. A jamboree is like a tournament without brackets, trophies, entry fes for players, etc. Basically, each team plays two games of b-ball. It was fun to watch. Tyler played well, and they won the first game, lost the second...


After the game, we grabbed some lunch and then went to the car dealership in Arkadelphia (where jamboree was) to look at new minivans. We test drove a Grand Caravan SXT. Holy Smokes! That thing was loaded with stuff - two DVD drop-down screns, heated seats, rotating chairs, Sirius satellite touch screen system with MP3 and USB jacks!, a back-up camera, storage out the gazoo, and more! Of course, they wanted a pretty penny for it, but Shan's van is paid off, and she wasn't in a hurry to go from paying ZERO a month to making car notes!

But, we have a pretty good idea of what we'd like in a new mini once she is ready to trade in her 2000 model... :-)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thank you, Ms. Clinton

I've watched the Hillary Clinton video at least half a dozen times, and I have to say I do not understand the big hoopla over her "breakdown." First of all, not once did I see tears streaming down her face or anything even close. Her voice cracked a couple times, but she was in the middle of a very personal statement. Frankly, I think every candidate should be as emotional when they are talking about what it means to them to be President of the United States of America.

I am not a Clinton-backer by any stretch. I also do not support Osama-bama, who actually has yet to exhibit any kind of emotion at all from what I have seen. I refuse to vote for ANYONE who does not pledge allegiance to our national flag, sing our national anthem, or whatever else he refuses to do that is basically ANTI-American in my opinion. Yes, we have freedom OF speech and not FROM speech, but there some things that I hold dear and true in my heart about what it means to be AMERICAN.

If someone is going to run for the head office in our country, they had better damn well LOVE and HONOR our country. No one gave Dan Rather crap when he broke down after 9/11....

Thank you, Ms. Clinton, for showing emotion and feeling.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Yo Ho! and Peoples Choice?


I have written before about the magazines I get at work. Well, one of them is something about Visual Studio, Microsoft's programming language application. I'm sure one day, I will sit down and USE VB, especially with the .Net stuff for Sharepoint, but right now, I read through the magazine and truly have no idea what they are talking about. Today, however, there was a bonus item - a map! A pirate map of some sort... Turns out, it is a board game! Very cool! It is the Visual Studio 2008 "A Developer's Life for Me!" and you can print out your own map and game pieces with playing cards and have your own pirate-themed developer board game (weird combination, for sure). I recommend you check out the playing cards - some are hilarious: Swashbuckling injuries are now covered under insurance. MOVE AHEAD THREE RED SPOTS; Drunk with power, the new boss bans coding. PICK UP THE GAME AND GO HOME; You’ve squandered time on carousin’ and merry-makin’. MOVE TO CODER’S BLOCK AND MISS YOUR NEXT TURN.

Good, hearty fun, matey!



Playing with Paint.net, I modified an icon of Bloo and thought I would show it off for no good reason.


We watched a bit of the People's Choice Awards tonight. Did you watch it? Okay, it was just Queen Latifa doing some shtick, poking fun at the strike (sorta) and at the "new" format. Some of it was actually kinda funny (her made up theme songs for the show) and some was dumb (pre-recorded "thank yous" with fake 'skits'), but at least it wasn't some stupid "press conference" format!


There were THREE election results today that really mattered to anyone (okay, really only one of these counts): Democratic election and Republican election in New Hampshire and the announcement of the latest inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Can you tell which one matters here? Yeap, you guessed it - and the electee was..... Rich "Goose" Gossage - an awesome closing pitcher, who basically created the position - or at least elevated the importance of having a designated closer in the game. I actually watched the announcement live at work online (don't tell anyone), and it was cool to watch it being streamed live over the 'Net. I admit, I wanted Jim Rice or Bert Blyleven to get the nod, but with Goose getting 86% of the votes, it was a no-brainer. Congrats to the Goose!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dad is great, gives us chocolate cake!

I seemed to have forgotten one of the main points of my DTV post - if you have Dish or DirecTV, then you're fine for the switchover. If you have cable, you are most likely okay, assuming your cable provider is digital (you'd have to call them and ask). If you are getting your TV through some other means (via Internet/Fiber, for example), you should also be well ahead of the game. The only folks that have to "worry" are those who currently have an "over-the-air" antenna (attached to the side of your house or on your rooftop) or those folks using "rabbit ears."



Shan and I were surfing channels tonight and came across Bill Cosby's "Himself." That is by far one of my all-time favorite stand-up (or sit-down in this case) routines/shows ever. I love Eddie Murphy's "Raw" and "Delirious," but Cosby is one of the greatest storytellers of all-time. "Himself" was recorded/aired in 1983 - TWENTY-FIVE years ago. Yet, his telling of the drunks, the dentist's office, and having/raising children is on-par today just as it was back then. The big difference is that if you bought a Ferrari for $17000 today, it's either a junker or it's...well, a junker.

If you have never seen this routine, or it has been way too many years since you have seen it, you have GOT to check it out!


Emily is still playing "What would you rather...?" So, the other night while we were watching the Steelers take an incredible early lead, lose it, get it back, and then lose the game, Emily says, "Would you rather watch the Steelers or the Indians?" I was struck silent. Seriously, if I could only choose one, which would it be? As you know, I am a HUGE Tribe fan. I am also a die-hard Stillers fan, born and raised in the 'Burgh. How does one choose between two different sports, being loyally devoted to both teams for many, many years? But, there was the question, and with it, my five-year old's impatient little face.

After weighing the options, the simple truth is that I bleed Black-N-Gold. I love the Tribe, but when faced with the prospect of watching 150+ baseball games versus 16+ football games, I knew I would choose to watch the Steelers and wave my terrible towels (I have a gold one and a black one) all the while.

Luckily, it's only a child's game, so I get to watch both any way! :-)


When Shan read my blog, she was not happy that I had beaten a game she got me just a week earlier (Crysis). I understand her frustration - you spend a chunk of money on a game, and in a relatively short time, the game is "over." But, I play games differently than most of the folks I know. My INITIAL primary objective is to get to the finish line. I play the game for the sole purpose of 'beating' it. Then, I like to go back and try all the things I did not try beforehand. Basically, I go back (often several times over) and I try using more stealth (or less), I try different routes to complete a level, I look for things I missed the first go-round. For me, it is much like the way I watch movies - the first time is wonderfully fun, but I am so busy being engrossed, I miss things, so I go back over and over again. I saw Star Wars three times before I realized Luke said "I can't see a thing" while wearing his Stormtrooper suit. I am a repeat movie-watcher (Shan, by contrast, is not). And, I am a repeat game-player. I even recently reinstalled "Call of Duty 2" and played through it because it had been a while since I played it. Same thing with "Crysis." And, the same thing will be true of "Bee Movie: The Game" once I sit down and finish it.

So, while I do understand the frustration of plunking down a wad of money for a game that is beaten so 'quickly,' I will get many, many more hours of playtime out of it that just playing through one time! :-)


And, while looking through the home office, I realized I had forgotten to mention that Shan (Santa) had placed some very cool 3-D decals/scrap booking embellishments in my stocking:

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Winding Down

Alas, the final weekend of the Christmas break has arrived. Well, okay, many of my co-workers returned to work on Wednesday... I, on the other hand, had already requested to be off for this week, so for me, Christmas break is coming to an end.

Shan is feeling better after her surgery, though there is still quite a bit of recovery to go. In the meantime, Tyler and Emily both had a round of the latest stomach virus going around. So, yesterday, Shan held Emily's hair back while I took Tyler to the doctor (he was having some loss-of-peripheral vision issues). Emily was sick until about 10 o'clock last night. Tyler mainly needed to drink replenishing fluids. He said it was the worst bout of "good news/bad news" he's seen in a while:
Good News: Water wont help get the nutrients back (he does not like water)
Bad News: Colas don't do it either
Good News: Gatorade will help you
Bad News: Blue and Red Gatorade tend to make kids sick when they drink too much
Good News: You can drink orange or yellow

As Tyler put it, "I was like "Yay...crap...yay...crap...yay!" :-)


When we got back from the hospital the other night, my "SingStar Pop" was waiting in the doorway. Emily and I have played it a couple times, and she did a great job on "Bad Day" which stands to reason since that is one of her favorite songs.

She also loves to sing ANYTHING, even if she doesn't know the words. The thing about SingStar is that as long as you get the tune (singing or humming or whatever) then you'll do fine. She is very quick to pick up on the tune, and if she hears the song once, she can pretty well remember many of the words for the next time she sings it.

I, on the other hand, will be downloading the songs to my mp3 player so that I will at least know the tunes and learn the words. Hey, just because I can't sing doesn't mean I don't want to my best, right? ;-) To borrow a line from Ratatouille, "Just because everyone CAN doesn't mean everyone SHOULD..." :-)


I finished "Crysis" the other night (well, okay, it was like 3am), and I have to say that is a VERY cool game! It was also very tough, which is a plus and a minus. I think games can be a lot of fun without beating you over the head with big, bad bosses, but hey, that's the nature of the 1st person shooter.


I hate stupid videos. What's a stupid video? One where the artist stands there and sings. Take Sugarland's "Stay" for example. She stands there, the camera zooms in and out, switches to guitar player, etc. That is NOT a music video. Well, okay, it is, but it is not a GOOD one, and certainly not anything worth winning any kind of video awards! Even Toby Keith's "Love Me If You Can" is not a GOOD video. Please, he sits in front of a big white screen. Whooop-dee-doo. Yes, I grew up on MTV and Michael Jackson, so my expectations for videos may be higher than what people like today. But, videos should SHOW the story of the song being performed. You wanna stand and there and sing? Go on tour. You wanna make a video, then SHOW the story!
'nough said.


There has been much discussion lately around here about the impending 2009 DTV deadline. In February, 2009, all analog "regular" television signals will cease to exist. In the lack of public information about this changeover, we got into a discussion about HDTV and the cut-off. Well, for those who were just as confused, here is the deal: Analog signals will die in Feb 2009, and everything will be digital. NOT HDTV, but just DTV. According to some sources, only 20% of US households still have analog-only antennas. How? Because most folks have cable or satellite or both. What will those 20% need? Either a DTV antenna or a converter box. All of that will depend on where they live. Right now, DTV antenna do not have the range that analog ones do, but that will probably change in the future. I talked with the guy at a local Radio Shack and he said we are too rural for a DTV antenna to be effective (50 miles to Texarkana, 90 miles from Little Rock). But, if I don't want DirecTV or Dish then I really don't have much choice. Now, we do have DirecTV, and I don't know what we'd do in 2009 if we did not already have it.

I did some checking, and current converters run about $100 or so. Now, that still might not get me what I need because I would still need to grab the signal over the air. I see rural folks getting screwed out of TV if they cannot afford satellite programming... Ouch...


Guess that's all for now! Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Starting off the New Year right - or wrong

We had our traditional New Year's gathering this year. We had a few friends come over to share in the pre-countdown festivities. This year's offerings included playing the Wii for a bit, followed by a multi-round set of SingStar games! Now, remember, I only have the 80's version and Amped right now. Pop should be here on the 3rd, despite the fact I chose NEXT DAY shipping. That's what I get for ordering over a holiday weekend!

I make a point of which ones I have because all the kids are under 15, so they really didn't know any of the songs. Well, Sarah knew more songs than she was letting on, and we only knew that because she would sing along with the "intro/sample" the game plays while you are scrolling through trying to decide which song will humiliate you the least.. :-)

Anyway, by the end of the evening, we were all having fun singing WAY off key, off pitch, off our ever-lovin rockers - heh,heh I use the term "rockers" loosely...


New Year's Day came and went pretty well until about 2:00pm or so. Then, Shan's abdominal pain kicked up. She had been having pain off and on for a couple weeks. Well, it was in full force Tuesday afternoon and into the night. Finally, around 6 or so, she relented and let me take her to the hospital.

Sure enough, her gall bladder was acting up. In fact, after several hours at Hope Medical Park (Yes, I know, I should have skipped Hope and drove straight to Texarkana), we were transferred to St. Michael's in T-Town. After several MORE hours, we were given a room and Shan was given a LOT of pain medication. The problem is that her body was in so much pain, her pain receptors were soaking up all the medication, so she never really fell asleep. She dozed in and out and still had LOTS of pain.

This morning around (9:30 or so), they took her back for surgery. So, now we wait while she has her gall bladder removed. It turns out she has the same surgeon my mother had down here. Go figure!


I just wanted to thank all my family for the gifts I received for Christmas! In addition to some needed clothing, I also received Crysis (AWESOME game!), the Bee Movie Game, Star Wars Complete Saga for my DS, the SingStar game, a box of baseball cards, the "Major League" trilogy, "Fear Strikes Out" movie, and whole lot of other things that I can't remember right now (I am working on a whole 2 hours max sleep right now)...


I hope your New Year has had a better kick off than ours. Of course, we have some great material for our year-end trivia game, if we decided to try that out this year!