Sunday, March 29, 2009

the last days of Spring Break flew by too fast

I left off on Thursday with the Spring Break wrap-ups. Now, it is Sunday night and work will come way too early tomorrow. I'm not whining about it, just making a statement. I cannot whine about the fact that I get an entire week off of work based solely on the fact that I work in education. I am grateful for the perks of my job, especially with the way things are right now in the world.

So, on to the re-cap!


Friday, we got up and hung around for a bit before heading to Wal-Mart for our weekly shopping trip. We ate lunch at Taco Bell, which we hadn't done in quite some time. As we got home from shopping, the time was very close for Mom's dog to be taken to the groomer. I jumped out of the van, grabbed the dog and headed down the road to her groomer. Meanwhile, Shan unloaded the van and put the groceries away.

After I got back home, I don't remember much because Shan and I fell asleep together on the couch. What woke us up was the phone, I think. Well, the kids had started cleaning the house while we were sleeping! That was very nice of them to do!

We all finished cleaning the house. If memory serves, we played a bit of Wii and generally hung out the rest of Friday. At some point, we played with Emily and her horse playsets (barrel racing and rodeo figures). Oh, yeah, what woke us up was the phone call to get Mom's dog...


Saturday - We headed to Texarkana to go see "Monsters vs Aliens" in 3D. First, we stopped by a store called "BeeHive Shoes." For whatever reason, the store looks HUGE from the Interstate. Once you get in there, though, the 'shoe store' part is very small - about the size of a small Payless of something. And they only sell women's shoes so far as we could tell.


We got to the theater around 11:45am for the 12:30 show. The theater doors do not open until 12:00 noon. so, we hung out in the vehicle until they unlocked the doors. People had already lined up and the line was getting longer. But, the wind was blowing so hard and so COLD, we held out until we would not be outside for long. Of course, as we went in, people circled around to another door and started cutting in front of those of us that had been fighting the wind. We got our own laugh in the end, though. See, our theater has a line for people who are paying with a credit card and hardly anyone uses that line. We used the touch screen, got our tickets and went inside. As Shan and the kids got in line for popcorn and goodies, I grabbed four pairs of 3D glasses.

We waited in line for a bit, and it was taking too long. I told Shan and Emily to find us seats and Tyler and I would bring the food. That turned out to be a very smart move. The place was packed!


The movie was great. The 3D is done very well in most places. There were a couple places where the 3D seemed to hinder the movie rather than help it, but overall it was fun. One of the best things about it was watching and listening to all the children who had never seen a Real3D movie before. There was 'ooo-ing' and laughing, dodging and weaving from the things coming 'out' at us. Absolutely wonderful.

After the movie, we went to Shoe Carnival to buy Tyler some shoes. I thought Emily was going to buy shoes, but she was mainly seeing what she liked and didn't like. I don't know why, but that just hit me wrong and I lost my temper over the whole thing. There is no way to explain it, but let's just say things were tense for a while on Saturday.


We drove through Mickey-D's for one of the worst lunches ever. The fries were burned and had obviously been cooked in very old oil. Yuck! The burgers were okay, but even they weren't up to the standard. Eventually, we all cooled down and the night ended well. We got home and played some Wii and hung out.

Oh yeah, at Wal-Mart on Friday, we bought new curtains for the dining room. When we got back from the movies, I opened the curtains and ironed them. Shan and I hung them up and really like the way they look! I think next time, we'll get some new curtains for the living room.


Tyler set up Shan's FaceBook account and then promptly left to go to her Mom's house. Shan had to figure out FaceBook on her own, though she would ask me for help when things weren't making sense. I hate the new FaceBook layouts, and for a new user, it must be absolutely hideous. Shan struggled to figure out what was where, how to get where she wanted, etc. I told her that those of us that have been using FaceBook for a while were having similar issues.

During the evening, I ended up helping a friend figure out how to get her mail onto her new Mac. I have to say, it was very frustrating since neither of us is well-versed in Macs. Not only that, but we were doing it via FaceBook chat, which adds a level of difficulty (converting text into mental images). But, we finally got things working!!!

Shan has had quite a bit of fun adding friends, etc in FB!


Sunday - The last day of spring break. We went to church and came home to eat lunch. After lunch, we watched "The Soup" that we had DVR'd and then I worked on my baseball card database for a bit. Around 3:00, we headed up to the walking track.


Emily and I had a race too catch up to Shan. As we got to her, Emily suddenly went sprawling out on the paved path. She slid for a bit. She skinned her knees and a little bit of her hands. We finished the walk, went to Sonic for 1/2 price drinks, then got Emily home for some TLC. The more blood she saw trickling out of the scraped skin, the more freaked out she got. There wasn't very much blood at all, but the sight of ANY blood was sending the girl into a panic. After we got her doctored, she started to calm down and eventually was back to her normal self.

It's 8:15 as I am typing this, and the evening is passing away too quickly. The end of our week-long vacation (spring break) is coming fast.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Idol Thursday - on Friday

Short and sweet tonight....

Adam - (safe) - Duh, we knew he would be safe... Dangit.
Matt G - Bottom 3 - Wow, that surprises me given his popularity. Maybe it's just 'rumored' popularity.
Kris - SAFE! - Awesome! The boy from Conway keeps on keepin on!
Michael - Bottom 3 - He spends a lot time on the edge...
Lil Rounds - SAFE - That is a no-brainer!! I'm going to be in shock if/when she does finally get bottom three...
Allison - SAFE - She's going far in this, and she will do very well long after Idol is over. I think she will be a rocker that puts out albums every few years and has a long career.
Whoever - SAFE - I wasn't paying attention.
Danny - SAFE - I've liked him from the beginning.
Scott - Bottom 3 -
Megan - SAFE - She is quirky. I can't decide if it's a good kind or not yet...

Bottom Three:

Scott - SAFE - I am very surprised that he made it after his performance. I don't think he'll last too much longer.
Matt - SAFE - I didn't like him, but then I am only one person. Oh, and I didn't vote.
Michael - Last week, the judges would have saved him. If he is voted off, I wonder if they'll save him this week.

Michael - I really do like him. He is one of the most genuine people out there. Whatever happens, he's already said he is thrilled to be going on tour.
--Wow, they sent him home. We had it on DVR and our recording ran out with these words, "Michael, you're going home."

Wow, Stevie Wonder! How cool is that!?

On the 6th Day of spring break

Thursday - Shopping Day


We knew that at some point this week we would be heading to T-Town for a shopping excursion. We took the lazy day approach and left somewhere around lunch time. By the time we got to Texarkana, we were pretty hungry. We had already told the kids we would go to Chuck E Cheese for lunch during spring break, and Thursday was the lucky day.


We had a coupon for 100 tokens and a large pizza with drinks. Worked for us. The CEC in T-Town has rearranged their games since we were there last, and they added new games. By far my favorite was "Deal or No Deal." Yes, you play DonD for tickets! You can play regular for up to 40 tickets or you can play 'Double Deal' and try for 80. The first time I won, I took 25 tickets. Well, I actually took about 113 tickets. See, the machine had quit spitting out tickets at some point. I don't understand why people do not hunt down the workers and get their tickets. Well, I was not about to sit idly by while the 'need to be dispensed' count rises higher and higher! I found a worker and he got the machine working. Naturally, I kept the 'extra' tickets. No one else was claiming them.


So, I took my tickets and went to the 'ticket muncher.' I have to say the ticket muncher is the greatest invention in ticket-based arcading ever created. I always hated carrying around a gazillion tickets. The muncher lets me cash them in for a slip of paper. Nice. Even nicer? When the muncher comes pre-loaded! I fed my tickets in, not paying any attention. When I hit the 'print' button, my total came out as 125 tickets. Wahoo! Bonus! Once again, no one was standing around laying claim to the tickets in the muncher, so I was the victor or the spoils. Well, not really. At the end of the day, the kids got all the tickets.

We played several games until the pizza came. we ate, drank, and were merry. After that, we roamed around playing various games, winning tickets (or not winning as the case was sometimes), having a good time. Emily and I had our picture 'sketched' while we were there.


In the end, Tyler cashed in some of his tickets for a baseball-looking footbag (since they don't call them Hackey Sacks anymore). Emily oped for a pretty good sized stuffed/plush Tootsie Roll. She said she wants a Tootsie Roll purse to put it in so that it would have a good home. Tyler saved a bunch of tickets for 'next time.'

We left CEC and headed for Sears. While Shan and Emily looked at shoes and clothes, Tyler and I looked at electronics and tools. Have you been to Sears lately? Well, the one we have sports one of the smallest electronics sections I have ever seen. And really, I'm only a tool guy in theory. I like some tools, and I like to have tools, but really, I'm not very handy. In grade school, my nickname was "Handyman" because of my last name and my knack for finding solutions to various audio-visual equipment problems. Honestly, it was mostly dumb luck and some common sense - oh, and a deep desire to be the one to run the ditto machine.... Ahhh, the smell of mimeograph ink... I can still smell it.

Shan is wearing SIZE 10's now!!! That is AWESOME!! She had a great time trying on clothes and modeling for us. I cannot tell you how good she looks. I will post pictures eventually, but I have to get her to let me take them first. Any encouragement you can offer her in that department, please do.

We did a lot more shopping at the mall. Well, Shan and Emily did most of the shopping. Tyler and I just kinda hung around. Having said that, I will say that Tyler and I did buy some clothes. I bought a shirt for Easter and he got several shirts and shorts. He and I share shopping techniques - get in, get what you need, get out.

But, as I've said here before, when I know there is going to be a day of shopping, I don't mind hanging out while Shan does her thing.


After the mall, we went to Target. I am on several opinion websites, and the benefits of answering all those questions come in the form of free stuff. In this case, I had $40 in Target cards (or so I thought) and $100 in Best Buy cards. As we walked around Target, I looked through the computer games aisle, the DVDs, Wii games, baseball cards, etc. Now that I had these cards burning a hole in my wallet, I couldn't decide what I actually WANTED to buy. I took the cards out of my pocket and noticed that I actually had $60! Cool! That seemed to actually make the decision process harder. I finally decided to get a game I had been wanting for a while - FarCry2. Since it was only $30, I still had money left. I used it to help pay for the clothes bought at Target.


We left Target and dropped Shan and Emily off at Kohl's. Meanwhile, Tyler and I headed off to Best Buy. We walked around for a bit, again not sure what to buy. I decided the best option was a 4-way Wii remote charging station. We have a two-banger, but we seem to always run out of charge on the other two remotes. So, this way, we can keep all four charged up. Plus, after Emily saw it, she fell in love with the pink battery cover the unit came with. It actually came with four different colors: pink, blue, black, and grey.


As I was paying, I realized the Best Buy cards were not marked as to their value. So, I handed one to the cashier. $10 card. I pulled out another. $30 card. I pulled out another, at which point Tyler said, "Man, you're like magic! You just keep pulling them out. Think you could pull some out for me?" I laughed, and simply said, "Uh, no." The last card was enough to cover the charges and I still have change left over on it. Plus, I still have a full $30 card to boot.

Tyler and I headed back to Kohl's and waited outside for Shan and Emily. And we waited. And waited. And then we waited some more. I finally told Tyler to text Shan. A little bit later, she texted back and asked if we were there yet. We had been sitting in the parking lot for almost 30 minutes. I just had not communicated that to Shan. She said she and Emily had been wandering around Kohl's waiting for us. Communication FAIL. Oh well, by this time, I was hungry for supper, so we headed over to Texas Roadhouse.

Great rolls, awesome cheese fries, super steak. Our meal was fantastic. Afterward, we went to Cold Stone for dessert!


You would think that would be the end of the day. Nope. You see, after we got home, Shan put away clothes and I loaded up my game. Emily got in bed and asked Shan to read a story. Poor child fell asleep before Shan could even get into the bed herself. That was one worn-out girl. Shan got in bed and it wasn't long before she, too, was asleep. Me? I stayed up and played my new game. My 6th day of spring break didn't end until about 4:30 in the morning of the 7th day!

I'll be 40 next month, and I still love staying up until the wee hours playing computer games. I am my father's son.

On the 5th Day of spring break

EDIT: I had forgotten all about the "Chex Mix" incident in the recap of kitchen disasters. That has been added below.

On Wednesday, we got to babysit Kensley again! She has been sick, and on Wednesday, some of that was showing through. She called for her Momma throughout the day, but we tried keeping her busy. Emily and Tyler played with her and she helped Shan clean Emily's bedroom. While they were doing that, and I was helping by staying out of the way, I decided to do a little Spring Cleaning in the home office.

Shan likes to keep things clean and tidy as much as possible in the house. Now, shan is not what I would call a neat freak. I mean, the house can get a bit out of sorts and life is fine. In general though, the house stays pretty neat. The exceptions to that are the kids' rooms and the home office.

The home office is not exactly "my" domain, but since it is where the computers and where I do my baseball card stuff, I tend to spend the most time in there. And, well, I tend to keep things all over the place. There are times when you quite literally have to kick stuff out of the way to make a path to the master bath.

So, on Wednesday, I picked up, straightened up, and threw away a lot of junk. I have to admit, I feel a lot better about the office when things are clean again. You would think I would try to keep it that way, but I live in a world of 'organized chaos.' I can generally find anything I'm looking for. After I clean, I can't find jack for the first half day or so.


Around 1:00 or so, I got a call from the office. The power company wants to cut the power to the grid. They were under the impression that no one was working in our building because of spring break. Well, not everyone in our building takes the break at the same time so that we can still conduct business. The power company finally agreed to shut things down at 3:00.

At 2:45, the office called back and I walked the clerk through shutting everything down. We had one server that didn't seem to want to shut down, and by 3:00, the power company was very upset. I finally told them to cut the power. I figured the battery backups would keep the servers up long enough to shut down. After all, that is what they are for, right? I didn't hear anything back, so we'll assume everything went well. (In fact, on Thursday, I guided Terry (our clerk) through firing everything back up again, and we were good to go.)


Wednesday evening came, and with it the total collapse of all things food-related in the Henderson household. It started with supper. The idea was for me to make some bacon cheeseburger hamburger helper. Shan does not like hbh too much, but it's an "easy" and quick thing to make. Well, let's just see about that.

The hamburger meat was frozen, so I put in the microwave to defrost. As the time got close, I put the skillet on the stove and turned on the heat. I figured while I was doing all this, I'd call Mom and let her know we were booking our trip to New York. I picked up our cordless phone and could not remember my mom's cell number for the life of me. I thought for sure it would be buried in caller id, but no luck. So, I put the phone down and grabbed my cell phone. Of course, the only place I can get signal is at the front door. So, we talk for a bit and hang up. I go back into the kitchen, grab the meat and toss it into the skillet.


Now, the cooks out there are probably freaking out. You've read my stories of the kitchen, haven't you? If not, do a search for 'spaghetti' on here and prepare to be baffled. So, as soon as the meat hits the pan, there is smoke, maybe a little fire, certainly some serious 'blackening.' I try flipping the meat around to see if I can head some of this off, and I'm just making more of a bad thing. I get the meat out and set it aside, then run the skillet under some water to kill the cooking. After I clean the skillet, I turn the heat down a bit and try again.

It turns out the meat is not fully thawed. Great. I spend the entire time, cooking, scraping off cooked meat to get to the frozen stuff. After browning the meat for way longer than any normal person would need, I finally get it done. I pour in the milk, the water, and the sauce, then grab the macaroni. I tear open the package, and suddenly experience a temporary loss of muscular coordination. Elbow noodles fly everywhere. Everywhere except into the skillet, that is. At that point, Shan comes into the kitchen to see what all the clattering is about. She grabs the broom and graciously sweeps up the mess.

Meanwhile, I take what's left of the noodles and pour them into the skillet. It is somewhere in here that I realize I have the wrong skillet. It's too small for a pound of meat, all the liquids, and the dozen or noodles that made it into the mix. How did I reach this conclusion? well, you see, as I am stirring, things are jumping out of the pan and into the fire. Okay, we have an electric stove, but you get the idea. So, I grab the large skillet and pour everything into it. I also fire up another burner and place the new skillet on it. After 10, 90, 900, whatever, minutes, the stupid stuff is finally done. For what's it worth, the kids loved it.


After supper, Shan decided to make a lemon bundt cake. She never made it before, so she got out the recipe and started going at it. Fast forward to end of baking. Shan cuts into her cake and she hates it. It is 'almost' right. She says she can taste the corn meal or something, and the flavor is off by something. Not sure what. I try it and it does taste okay at first, but then something is not right. Shan is upset about her cake after all her hard work.

But, remember, this is the night for the kitchen from hell. Shan gets the recipe and starts to read it over. And there it is. The recipe is written such that when it tells you to put in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda AND... And that was as far as Shan's eyes went. Turns out the rest of the statement was "1/2 teaspoon of salt." I'm hoping Shan will try the recipe again, even though she said it was a lot of work.

(Added) - Shan decided to make Chex Mix the easy way. She got all of her ingredients together, tossed them in the bowl, and stuck the whole thing in the microwave. We're not sure what happened, other than it being the day of the kitchen possessed, but the snacks came out a bit on the smoldering side. The zippy zapper had zapped them burnt.

I don't remember much after that, other than we started watching Idol late (see previous idol post). Really, by then, we were ready for the night to be over.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Idol Wednesday


Name------Dave----Shan---
Matt--------?-------?----
Kris--------Y-------Y----
Scott M-----N-------?----
Megan-------N-------?----
Anoop-------N-------N----
Michael S---N-------N----
Lil Rounds--Y-------Y----
Adam--------N-------N----
Danny-------Y-_-----Y----
Allison-----Y-------Y----

We actually tuned in late (7:10 or so) tonight, so we missed Matt's whole thing. Guess we'll see at the end in the recap.
Kris - I liked it. Not the greatest thing from him, but not too bad either.
Scott - What is with the slow starts tonight? come on, just get into the song. I don't like this version. I think he'll stay around, but I'm not likin' it...
Megan - Shan says Megan could be on Broadway and such, but not sure about main stream. Shan says she doesn't think she's American Idol.
Anoop - Unless this picks up, you'll have to wake me up. Wait, is he singing, "Snooo-hoooze, baby, baby?" I'm saying NO, but he has a strong fan base, for whatever reason. shan said she wwas going to try for a yes, but had to say no.
Michael S - Not bad, but kinda 'las vegas' to me.
Lil R - She did well, not her best, but she is awesome.
Adam - Uh. No. At least he looks normal this week, but that whole falsetto thing is just annoying.
Danny - Good job!
Allison - Girl's got chops. Man, she is very good.

Oh, the crayons and coloring books from Paula to Simon was great!!! Classic!


Not too much IDOL stuff going on because we BOOKED OUR TRIP!!! Wahoo!! We are going to NYC for summer vacation this year!

On the 4th day of spring break

Tuesday - On the 4th day of spring break, ummm, what *DID* we do?

We babysat our niece, Kensley, who is recovering from a rather nasty bout of the 'big D.' We had a good time with her and played several things throughout the day. I'd be more specific, but I guess everything was such a blur, I can't pinpoint specifics.

I did participate in my first-ever live fantasy baseball draft. Of course, my team is mostly Indians! I missed out on a couple, but that's because I was an idiot when putting my draft picks together. Oh well, guess we'll see how it all works out.

the other major thing we battled yesterday was a nasty thunderstorm that raged through here. It started out pretty mild, but at times, it was pretty explosive.

All in all, a nice day off.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On the 3rd day of Spring Break

Monday - On the third day of spring break, here is what we did...

Shan woke up VERY sick. She spent the whole day down and out of it. She is feeling better today, but is still a little slow-going. It worked out, though, because we were supposed to babysit our niece, Kensley. Well, she also woke up sick (as was Jess, her mom), so they stayed home.

The problem with writing these the after is that I can't remember what all I we did... So, today's recap will not be in chronological order, but rather more like a series of snapshots. Probably very badly developed snapshots....


Emily and I moved the truck up to Mom's place and I broke out a bucket, soap and rags, and we hosed down the truck. There are many fun things about washing your vehicle with a 6-year old - getting soap everywhere, squirting the hose 'accidentally' on each other, etc. The downside is that the adult has to go back and 're-do' the areas that were 'cleaned' by the youngin'. I pulled this off by telling her that I had to clean the tall areas (true) and that my cleaning was making her areas kinda dirty again (sorta true). In the end, it all worked out and my truck looks clean as new!

Once we finished the truck, I swapped it out for Shan's van. Emily and I repeated the cleaning for the van.


After washing the vehicles, Emily changed into her bathing suit and we played in the water for a while. My Mom has one of those nozzles that changes into different kinds of spray. Emily experimented with each one - shower, jet, flat, center, etc. She loved running through the water as it arced ('a rainbow,' as she called it). Of course, I had fun soaking her directly.


Tyler, Emily and I played "Life" together. I ended up with the most money, but Emily was a very close second. Tyler was too busy earning $30,000 each pay day as an athlete. He said he was a ball player, but I told him that he must not have been a very good one! That came back to haunt me in the way of a 'salary swap' when he traded his 30k salary for my 100k pay. Ouch. So, there I was, a teacher making $30,000. Well, that's a little closer to reality anyway.


At some point, we watched "Celebrity Apprentice," shaking our heads at what a slacker Dennis Rodman is on that show. I have to agree with Robin, though. I had no idea Melissa Rivers ever actually DID anything in life. Frankly, I believe she would be nothing if she weren't Joan Rivers' daughter. She produced those "big, red carpet extravaganzas" on TV. Really? I mean, okay... Has anyone ever actually ever WATCHED those? I mean, that's like me saying that I've produced over 100 videos. While that is a true statement, no one has seen any of them that I know of. Why not? Well, most were for demo/teaching purposes. But, even if I put them on YouTube, the point is this: If no one watches, who cares who produced it? Just sayin.


At some point during the day, I managed to make it through the level I was working on in Advanced Warfighter. The level after that one, however, has proved to be hard because I have idiots on my team. Or maybe I don't know how to 'properly' command them yet. See, they run from point to point without checking to see what may be up ahead. I might as well be playing by myself instead of having these computer-controlled suicide daredevils on my squad! At one point, three guys went charging around a corner into an ambush. See, I would have gone to the corner and peeked around first. Not these geniuses! Let's imagine the scenario:

#1: "Hey, guys, the Captain told us to go around this corner where there might be some enemies waiting."
#2: "Well, he told us to execute the move, so we better get on it!"
#3: "don't you think we should take it slow?"
#1: "Shut up, you wuss! Let's move, let's move!"
#2: "Hoorah!"
#3 (standing over his fallen comrades): "Yeah, THAT was brilliant.... Captain, we have two men down here. Not that it matters much."

Monday, March 23, 2009

On the 2nd Day of Spring Break...


Sunday: On the second day of Spring Break, some of the things I did:


(Before I start, I forgot to mention that on Saturday, we all took Emily's "HyperDash" game outside and spent quite a bit of time taking turns hunting down colored discs with our HyperDash wand. We had a LOT of fun!)

We went to church in the morning. I am very guilty about not wanting to go to church. Honestly, I'd rather hang out at the house. Sometimes, I know I have a lot to do on a Sunday and staying home would jump start those chores. I spent most of my life not going to church, so it is very easy for me to do (not go, that is). I was not brought up in church, though we did go every so often because my Great-Grandmother would take us along or because we stayed at a friend's house and they went to church, so we had to go as part of staying over. Shan and her Mom went to church. Because Shan was going to church when we met, I began going. At that time, we went to the Assembly of God.

Now, take a Northern-born boy who could count the number of times he went to church on one hand and throw him into a pentecostal Assembly of God church. It was like nothing I had ever seen. Now, in addition to not having been in church much, add a sprinkle of Liberal Arts college background. It was quite an experience. Over time, though, I learned the ways of the church and eventually found myself in a deacon's position. The downside (for me) to being in a small church in a position such as that comes in the form of church business. It was all church business all the time. I grew sick of church. Then, we had something of a falling out happen at the church and several of the families left, including ours.

So, to bring things back around again, we attend a different church, Central Baptist. I don't really care what the 'foundational truths' of any church are, as long as they preach from the Bible and have Christ as the center.

I do not preach to anyone. If you want to know what I believe, I'll tell you. If you believe something else, that's your business as far as I'm concerned. If you go to church, if you don't go, none of that is my business unless we're talking about it. Take it or leave it.

But, I enjoy going to the church we attend. I like singing the mix of contemporary songs and classic hymns. I enjoy the energy, humor, and wisdom of our pastor. I also think it's important for our children to learn the foundations of life. No matter what your belief system, I believe most of the 10 Commandments apply to life in general - don't kill, don't steal, respect your parents, etc.

So, even though I don't always 'feel' like going, I try to go because I think it's important for my children to see me go - after all, I cannot expect them to go if I'm not willing to go myself. I believe that should hold true, no matter what a parent is trying to teach their children.



After church, we came home, changed clothes and ate lunch at shan's Mom's place. We had lasagna, which happens to be my all-time favorite food. That's a big thing to say, because I love all kinds of food. Yes, I am very picky and have several food-related idiosyncrasies, but I love food. Of course, my favorite lasagnas are those made from scratch - the noodles, the fresh meat, the wonderful sauces with just the right spices. But, I also enjoy the 'prepared' variety, too. Stouffers-type meals lack some of the richness and deep tastes of your favorite Italian restaurant, but the flavors are different in a good way (for me). Basically, if it's lasagna, I'm eating. Well, if it is 'traditional' (that is meat and tomato-based sauce). I think I've had chicken lasagna, and I am pretty sure I was not a big fan. And, you can forget any kind of 'vegetarian' lasagna. Heck, in my case, you can pretty much throw out anything remotely connected to the word 'vegetarian!'



Emily and I watched "Toy Story" on DVD. I have to say, that is by far my favorite Pixar movie. "Cars" is close, but the original "Toy Story" makes me laugh out loud every time I see it, and I've seen it a LOT since going too the theater to see it in 1995. It amazes me that the movie is as old as Tyler and I could sit here right now and watch it again even though I just watched it yesterday (I am writing this on Monday). Emily and I ate popcorn and Milk Duds and had a great time!



I spent much of the rest of Sunday working on my desktop computer, installing software and deleting things I didn't need from the two 'extra' hard drives. I also entered a stack of Indians baseball cards into my database. In this case, I had received a pretty nice-sized box of Indians cards, all of which were selected by the sender because he did not find them on my 'already own' list of cards. I only managed to check about 1/4th of the cards because Emily and Shan were on the trampoline and wanted me to come outside. So, I did.


The three of us hung out on the trampoline for quite a while. Emily paraded across the pad in various poses and performing various activities, trying to get Shan and me to guess what she was doing. At one point, she was 'ocean waves' and then she was a ballerina. There was also one in which she stood on one leg with her other leg bent so that her foot rested on her opposite knee. She raised her hands in the air and then pooched her lips out. I thought she was a flamingo. I was wrong. With Shan's help, I was able to come up with water fountain (like in a park). And this was also not quite right. The 'right' answer was a 'penny fountain' - you know, one you throw pennies into?


From there, we just kinda hung out, if memory serves, for a bit. Then, shan decided she was going to try on her clothes to see what still fit and what no longer fit her new, thinner body. Her rules was that if it did not flatter her, she didn't want it. She also wanted me to be honest when giving my opinion.

I'm a guy. I've been married for a while, and I've been on the earth a lot longer. Life has taught me to listen carefully for 'catch' phrases. You know, the ones that women use to 'catch' you saying the wrong thing! Well, the first couple outfits had me being ginger and somewhat politically correct. That is NOT what she wanted. It did not take long for me to shed the 'catch' and get down to business. I found it was actually pretty easy. If didn't like the way it hung on her, I told her straight up. Some things had been too tight once upon a time and now fit her very well. Some things had been too tight and now hung off her - they were now too big! And, of course, some of the clothes fit very, very nicely.

All of this serves as prelude to the shopping spree we will be taking later this week. Shan's very excited to head to the store for some flattering, great fitting clothes as the ultimate reward for all her hard work!



While Shan was changing clothes, I was playing Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter on the computer. I received the game free when I bought my last pair of video cards. I had not loaded it up yet (the game is several years old now), so I thought, "What the heck." The premise is that you have a squad that you command through various scenarios. That's fine in theory. Honestly, the computer comrades are idiots. You can tell them where to go, and how carefully to go there, but in the end, my guys would charge off into a confrontation instead of waiting for things to line up for a more planned attack. I'm sure a lot of this has more to do with my lack of ability to lead and command computer-controlled troops than anything.

So, I would let the other guys head off in various directions while I stealthily picked off key enemies. Or, at least TRIED to pick them off. By the time I quit playing out of sheer frustration, I was more like a duck in a shooting gallery than a well-armed warrior. I was getting picked off as I ran from point to point, trying to sneak up on the baddies. I eventually just went 'balls in' with guns blazing.

If you've never played the game, I can attest that going full-out, full-in does NOT work. It's basically a good way to end up as hamburger.


This post ended up going much longer than I ever anticipated. It was going to be a simple list of things I did. Instead, you were subjected to another episode of "Popped in my Head." Thanks for taking the ride.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the 1st Day of Spring Break, this is what I did


Yeah, so I'm doing a "12 Days of Spring Break" thing... I can't promise it'll actually match the words/tune of the song, though... Oh, and we only get like 9 days for spring break, so there ya go.

Saturday - On the first day of Spring Break, this is what I did: taught 30+ teachers project-based learning with the use of technology and gave them each a flip video camera to keep for classroom use.

Yeah, that doesn't really work, does it? Oh well, that's what I did.

Oh, and then I also installed a new hard drive in my computer and installed Windows on it since my crazy computer was acting up. The advantage is that I now have two 150GB hard drives plus an 80GB hard drive in my computer. Of course, one of the 150GB drives is the old hard drive that still has all our data on it. Once I get all that moved, I'll reformat it and use it for games, videos, whatever.

So, technically, on the first day of Spring Break, I taught 30 teachers project-based learning and I reinstalled Windows XP! (Okay, if you work really hard, you can sorta make that work, but you kinda have to pretend you're sining the second day of Spring Break. But, you're not because that's for another post coming soon!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

David has conquered the world!


I had some time to kill while I waited for Shan to come pick me up at the office today, so I thought I'd try my hand at world domination! Wahoo!

Easy as pie

As we were getting ready for school and work this morning (Friday), Emily was getting her breakfast. I'm not sure what brought on the statement, but at one point, she said something was "easy as pie."

As she was carrying her breakfast to the microwave to be zapped, she stopped.

She said, "I don't even know how to MAKE pie. I don't know why I said that!"

That was one of the funniest things I've heard!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Man, I hate bull-hockey!


I have come to realize that I have a very low tolerance for bull crap. Look, I don't know everything, and I will never claim to know most things. But, when it comes to the general concepts of networking, DSL, etc, I have a pretty good handle on it.


When something isn't working right with my DSL, I call the tech support line like I'm supposed to. I realize the person on the other end of the phone is some high school or college kid that CenturyTel just hired. I also realize that the kid has to follow his script and may not deviate from it, even in the event he should encounter someone that has been through the process a hundred times or so.

But, what I cannot handle is the line of bull that we customers are handed because the rep thinks we don't know anything. On top of that, I really wonder just how many people are being taken advantage of just because they don't know what to say or how to say the 'right thing' to get the job done.


In my case, our DSL has been "zipping" along at a whopping 256k. For those that don't know, I am being VERY sarcastic. Our connection speed here in the boonies is supposed to be 1.5M (that is about 6 times faster than what we were getting at 256k). I called tech support a few days ago, and they would have someone look into it. I heard nothing of course. I waited until I was pulling out what little hair I have, and I called back. Again, they would have someone look into it and I told them to CALL me.

Today, I took off half a day from work to wait for Mr. DSL to call. He finally did. the conversation went something like this:

DSL: "I understand you're having some kind of problem with your DSL?"
ME: "Yes. Yes, I am." (I love Phineas and Ferb...)
DSL: "Okay, what's the problem?"
ME: "Well, I am connecting to your network at a whole 256k."
DSL: "Is that verified or just your own observation?"
ME: "Well, let's see. When I http into my DSL router, it shows I am connected at 316k upload. I've run several tests on the CenturyTel Speedtest site, and each time, it shows 256k download and about 150k up. My local network is buzzing along at a gigabit, so yeah, I'd say it's verified."
DSL: "Oh. Well, what speed are you expecting?"
ME: "I'm 'expecting' 1.5 megs, since that is what I am shelling out too much money for each month." I was a little peeved.
DSL: "Hmm. Okay, well, they made some changes here recently. Let me check a few things out and I'll get back to you."
ME: "Thanks."

I should have paid attention to how long it was before he called me back, but honestly I was too wrapped up in adding a ton of Indians cards to my collection. In the middle of a furious data entry session, the phone rang again. Caller ID told me is was you know who.


DSL: "Okay, we figured out what the problem was. After the system changes, your connection was reset to the default."
ME: "You're telling me the DEFAULT speed for DSL is only 256k!? You're kidding me!"
DSL: "256k is the speed at which most of our customers in this area connect."
ME: "That is ridiculous. Let me check things out."
DSL: "Check your settings and tell me if you see better performance." (Isn't that what I just said?)
ME: "Yeap, 1750+ upload. Looks good. Thanks."

I cannot believe the 'default' speed is 1/6th of what most people that have DSL would call 'low-end.' Yes, that's right. In most places that have DSL, 1.5Megs would be considered the 'default slow speed.' Even in Hope, you can get 10Megs for about the price we pay for 1.5Megs. Stupid.

What really chaps me, though, is that there are users who are on the same leg of DSL that I'm on, and they have no idea that their Internet is crawling. I take that back. They know it is, they just don't know what to do about it. If they call CenturyTel, the rep will say everything looks good. Yes, it does, *IF* I were running 256k! I'm not! Hello! So, those users (some of whom read this, thankfully) see slow connections, they should call the DSL hot line and tell the rep that they were told a system upgrade had been done and that their service has been wrongly reset to the 256k setting.

Man, I hate bull crap.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Idol-ing on Wednesday

I've had a busy blogging day today, so be sure to keep reading below this post for the other ramblings in my head!

IDOL WEDNESDAY

Alrighty, folks, let's see how things go tonight.

"T-R-O-U-B-L-E" - not a bad performance at all! Entertaining and it was fun to watch some folks mess up their lines. :-)

The Ford video was cute. Ryan needs some pitching practice, evidently, since he pegged an audience member with his water balloon. DOH!

So, who gets to go on tour this year?

Danny - SAFE! - Excellent!
Lil Rounds - SAFE! - I really like her, but I hope Danny or Kris wins the whole thing.
Anoop - SAFE - This shows the power of the judges. Anoop wouldn't be there if the judges hadn't saved him into the top 13.
Allison - BOTTOM THREE - Wow, that is a surprise.
Michael - BOTTOM THREE - Now, that makes sense based on last night's disaster.
Scott - SAFE - Wow, that is very surprising after his 'elton john' performance.
Megan - SAFE - I'm a little surprised, but I think she has a strong fan base.
Matt - SAFE - no comment.
Kris - SAFE - Wahoo! The boy from Arkansas gets top 10!
Alexis - wow, Randy called her Allison. That's bad.
Adam - SAFE - dang. But, he's got a fan base too, whoever that might be. UGH.

Allison is SAFE. I loved her rockin out yesterday. She needs to do something a little slower at some point, but I think she has a lot of fun and is very talented for a sixteen year old.

So, we are down to Alexis and Michael. I think it'll be Michael....

Wow, FIVE YEARS since Carrie was on Idol!? Wow, it has gone by very fast. Carrie sounds as good live as she does in a recording. That is amazing. She is so good, she had to pull back from the mic so she wouldn't stomp on Randy's vocals. Awesome duet.

If the judges had to use a save, I believe they would save Alexis because they really like her.

Michael is SAFE... Holy crap. Ryan was not kidding. It was a shocker of a night. I never guessed Michael would be saved. Wow, that'll make you slap your Momma.

Wow, based on their reaction, I guess they would have saved Michael... Definitely a shocker.

I think we will see her again before too long. I think she'll cut at least one professional CD after the show. Where things go from there? We'll just have to wait and see.

Getting Sprung

If you're a regular reader (and you know who you are), then you know my Mom has been in the hospital outside Pittsburgh for almost a month now.


Well, today, she called me herself to tell me that she was "getting sprung" from the place! She said the doctor has her under restricted travel, so she'll be staying with my Aunt for a bit until he gives her clearance to come home. This works out, since her original plan was to be out there for her best friend's open heart surgery.

Turns out her friend's surgery got postponed until next week, making everything fall into place very well. Hopefully, Mom will be back the Monday after the surgery and we can all get back to 'normal' (as normal as they get around these parts, anyway) lives.

I am looking forward to having my Mom back. I am also looking forward to my Mom taking her dog back. I am not an animal person. I tolerate pets as much as I am not mean or abusive or anything. I just happen to be one of those people that believe pets are just that - pets. And really, they annoy me more than anything else. Having said that, I do have to say that my mother's dog is not the worst dog in the world by any stretch. She's a Shih Tzu. Yes, it takes everything in my being not to make that sound like something else. She only yaps every once in a while, and we've been training her not to constantly scratch at the door when she wants in or out. For the most part, there's no whining. And the dog is basically quiet, too. :-) (That might take a second to sink in)


We had a pet we loved dearly - Bud Kitty. That's it. That's all we want. My kids LOVE pets. That is why we send them to each grandparent because they have animals. Get your 'pet fix' somewhere else. When they are grown and move away, they can all the blankety-blank pets they want. As long as those pets do not jump on me, lick me ANYWHERE let alone the face, and basically stay quiet when I'm there. If those pets cannot cooperate, my kids can come visit me anytime they want, sans pets!



I know I've said this before, but I love what I do. The main reason is because I never have the same day twice. This morning, I wrote up a few descriptions for some summer workshops we are conducting. Then, I met with AT&T regarding Plexar phone systems with a discussion about IP phones. Since we will be building a new building soon, I get to spec out the phone system to be placed in it. After that two-hour meeting, I headed down to LA (Lower Arkansas) in order to run a network cable for the pre-school there. And, of course what I thought would be a 15-minute job turned out to be a couple hours work.

It's my fault though. I did not bring the right tools. I did not realize I did not bring the right tools until I was already there, of course. Basically, the wiring had to run from a classroom through two walls to the network equipment (which is in a teacher's office). My plan was to make a hole that extended straight through the walls. The first problem came in the way of distance between said walls. It was a tad further than I had thought when I did my first walk through. And, no I did not use a measuring tape - that would have made things easy. I also did not bring a, oh what is that thing called that lets you make holes in walls.... ah, a drill. Again, why make life that easy?


Instead, I opted for the "screwdriver-through-the-wall" method (like the guy above). Of course, the one I had was Phillips and dull. It also turned out to be about an inch or so too short to be effective. With some effort, though, I managed to make a small, neat hole in the wall. I left that room, went around to the other side and realized that I had no idea where I had made the first hole. See where that whole 'tape measure' thing would have come in handy? Well, I did what any self-respecting guy would do - I used the screwdriver as a measuring stick. The hole was 13 drivers away from the outside wall.

Of course, the teacher's room had a massive heating/cooling unit along the same wall I was trying to get things done, so my '13-stick' measuring was... a little off. Not a lot, mind you. Heh-heh. Yeah, it was a lot. There was no way for me to know this until I made the hole and could not see light. Okay, back up and punt.

I take another "measurement." Only this time, I use the duct that goes from the air unit through to the other room as a point of reference. I get 12 screwdrivers. Wait a minute, that can't be right. Heck, I had THIRTEEN before! Something is not right. Yeah, that 'something' turned out to be the fact that the "outside" wall did not end in the same place for each room! You see, they were about three screwdrivers off! I eventually conned the teacher out of a slightly longer (though basically just as useless) screwdriver and a hammer. These made things go faster, though not necessarily smoother.


When it was all said and done, I had 4 or 5 or so holes in the wall (all at about 8 inches up from the floor, hidden by 'stuff'), and the two I needed were about an inch off-center from each other and about an inch off high-low from each other. Close enough.

I snaked the cable through the one hole and used some serious eye squinting to guide the wire to the other hole. Success! Oh, did I mention that the wire I was using was a short piece that I had cut off in order to try and measure the distance between the vent/duct and where I wanted the hole? Yeah, so that piece was about two feet long. I was going to need about 20 FEET of cable to get from the computer to the network switch. Nice.

I thought about using the old "tape two cables together" trick and use the short piece to pull the cable coming out of the box. But, that really only works with electrical tape. Scotch tape will work in a pinch, but I knew it would not hold for what I was doing. Great.

So, I pulled the short piece out and snaked the boxed wire through the holes - eventually. Once that was all done, I put the ends on, tested things out, showed the teacher how to surf the web with her SmartBoard, and headed back to the office.


By comparison, yesterday (Tuesday) I held a meeting with the area school techs to discuss Stimulus money, E-Rate retooling, summer workshops, and watched a presentation from AlertNow. Then we went to lunch.


Oh, and then later that afternoon, Skip (the AlertNow rep) called to ask if I could FedEx his laptop to him. He left it at our place. It was already 3:30, so I told him he wouldn't get it until Thursday. He said that was fine.

Then he called back to ask if he could pick it up the next morning instead. We told him that would be fine and he could get it at 8:00am. You see, by this time, he was somewhere in Louisiana about 3 hours away.

At nearly 4:00pm, he called to say that he was heading back our way because he had reports he had to complete that night. Could I leave the laptop somewhere he could get it? There was no way I was leaving it out somewhere or even with a local gas station operator. Nothing against them, but you just don't leave someone's life laying around like that.

We eventually decided he could drive to Prescott and I would meet him for the exchange. He was "about two hours away."

Well, in about an hour and a half, he called to say he was in town. Normally, that's not so bad, right? Well, I had picked Tyler up from school and we went to get something to eat. On the way home, Tyler said, "I have a feeling something is going to happen." Sure enough, just as I pull up to the house, I get the call. We live roughly a 10-minute drive from the town center. I drop off Tyler and head back to the place I had just left about 10 minutes before the call.

I met Skip and gave him his laptop.

Never the same day twice.

A trip down memory lane

In my baseball card world of blogging, there is a non-regular series that comes around called the "Blog Bat Around." I'm sure I've written about it here before, but if not, well, basically, the card bloggers in the world are assigned a topic and they write an entry about it. The idea is that after the 'deadline' for entries, one would start at the top of the list and work their way around to the other posts in the list (hence, batting around).

For my 'essay,' I managed to use very vivid memories of walking to a card shop near my grandparents' house in Cleveland along with Google Maps to help take a journey down memory lane.

Rather than re-post my latest foray into waxing nostalgia on here, I thought I would provide you with a link to my entry. Even if you are not a baseball card fan, or a sports fan, please check it out anyway. I think you'll find it worth the trip:

Tribecards 5th Bat Around

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Idol Tuesday



Name---------Dave----Shan---
Michael-------N-------N-----
Allison-------Y-------Y-----
Kris----------Y-------Y-----
Lil-----------Y-------Y-----
Adam----------N-------No minus-minus-----
Scott---------N-------N-----
Alexis--------?-------?-----
Danny---------Y-------Y-----
Anoop---------Y-------Y-----
Megan---------?-------?-----
Matt----------?-------Y-----

Idol Thoughts:
Um, so what was with Megan while she was coming out? She held her dress up, but the look on her face was very weird.

I was always a big Randy Travis fan. Boy, he looks VERY thin! Wonder if he's sick...

Michael - ouch his prelude performance did not sound good. Hope his performance is better. Not great, and I think he missed a few words in there, problems with breathing. This is not an easy song. I like him a lot, but this is not good. Shan was not happy to be giving him a "no."

Allison - She's a rocker. I like her rockin version of the Patty Loveless song. She is growing on me little by little each week.

Kris - Man, he is very good. It was like I had never heard this song before. I could hear this on the radio and let it play without wanting to change the station. Very nice and smooth.

Lil Rounds - Someone sang "Independence Day" last year, but we can't remember who did it. I like her vocals, she tells a good story. Shan said Lil has changed it up to make it her own, but you still understand everything.

Adam - We are not fans of his. There is nothing about him that Shan finds "hot." We don't like his look, his singing. I'm with Randy, "I don't know what to say about this boy." Shan said, "Johnny Cash is rolling over in his grave about now." Now, he'll go through because he has fans, but that is a tragedy. Simon said it best, "What the He!! was that?"

Scott - This is a bit "Barry Manilow" to me, mixed in with some Elton John, and none of that in a good way. I like Scott a lot, but this was not a good choice. Dazed and Confused.

Alexis - "Jolene" was already remade not long ago. Wonder if Alexis will do that version. Not so sure I like this, but I don't exactly hate it. I'm not as confused as with Adam's song, but I am scratching my balding head about it.

Danny - I like his 'soul' version of "Jesus Take the Wheel." Shan wondered what Carrie is thinking - not long ago she was the one up there and now contestants are singing HER songs! I think he did well.

Anoop - "Always on my mind" - I have to agree with Randy Travis. Suddenly, I see why they pulled Anoop back into the competition. This was a very good translation of that song. Wow. I have to admit that surprised me. shan is not happy that she had to give Michael a NO and Anoop a YES. I have never been a fan of his, and I'm not one now, but I have to give credit where it is due, and he certainly earned it tonight.

Megan - "Walkin After Midnight" - Kellie Pickler did it and did it well. Hmmm... This is kinda ummm... Shan said like old time movies - like Mae West "come up and see me." Oh, and she gave us a little bit of her 'jiggy' dance thing. I didn't get it. She's got a voice, but it is weird to listen to in a lot of ways. Flu or no flu, I just didn't care for it. Shan says she would listen to a song of hers, but not a whole album - it would sound the same.

Matt - Another Carrie song. That says more about Carrie Underwood than anything. She has gone from a complete unknown to someone who is ranked up there with Martina McBride, Johnny Cash, and other Opry superstars. Matt's version of "so Small" is okay, but I'm not sure it's a song a guy would sing, really. It was okay - not the best, not the worst.

While watching the replays, Shan asked is she could vote for Sanjaya because she dislikes Adam that much.

Emily's favorite joke


What do you say is someone gives you deer with no eyes?

I have no-eyed deer!

And coming from her strong southern accent, it sounds just like it's written. Too cute!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

School Days and Teacher Pay

Before i get started, let me say that I have been working in the K-12 education realm for about 12 years. Of course, like most folks, I have been in education in the broader sense for most of my life. That does not make me any kind of expert, and I am not even going to pretend to be one.

If you've read even just a couple of my posts, you know that some of my ideas are 'kinda out there.' Well, on the topic of teacher pay and school days is not different.


Let me start with school days. I think the time has come and is long gone for the 'summer break.' School should go all year long. Shan read an editorial today that basically said, "even is the kids today do live on farms, they are spending their time on FaceBook and YouTube, not in the fields." Exactly. Here's the other thing: Most parents are not farmers. Summer break puts a burden on working parents trying to figure out what to do with their kids who are not in school while they work. Why not have the kids go to school all year with various breaks throughout the calendar? something else to think about: How much do kids forget over that three-month break? when they come back after the break, how much time has to be spent just getting the kids 'back up to speed?' By going all year, students would simply transition from one grade to the next.

Speaking of transitioning, I think the way we do most of our education today is way outdated. Students should be allowed to move up (or remain in place) based on their ability to demonstrate mastery of the skills required for the next 'level' of education. Call it grade-level, call it mastery-level, but whatever you call it, when a student is ready, why do we make that student remain in his/her grade-level based on the calendar? is that how things work in most jobs? I don't believe so. If an employee demonstrates the mastery of his/her task level, his/her supervisor can recommend that they move on to the next task level. This might be a minor step (pay for new skill sets) or a major move (say to a leader/manager position). Students should be afforded the same benefits.

Now, I realize there is a maturity level that must be taken into account for this type of situation. And, I believe that should be part of the mastery evaluation. A 'maturity mastery' if you will.


Now, to really get your mind churning, try this on for size: Students should not be sitting at desks or tables unless the tasks require it. Instead, the students should be allowed to stand at 'podiums' or taller tables. They should be allowed to sit/lay on mats on the floor. They should be assigned projects to complete and then work in groups to complete those tasks. Ideally, students would have access to various technologies - computers, Internet sources, etc. Students would help each other learn the concepts while the teacher serves as the project manager/task-keeper and guidance specialist. That is, to keep the kids on task and offer assistance as needed. Now, of course how much the teacher is required to offer input depends on the ages and skill levels of the students. In today's terms, we'd say it depends on the grade level.

what about teacher pay? For me, that's easy. Teachers give a test to the students at the beginning of the 'school year.' At the end of the school year, teachers give the SAME TEST, or a test that addresses the same skills, and then teacher pay is based on the results of those tests. As student mastery goes up, so does the pay. If it goes down or stays flat, so does the salary. Oh, I know what you're thinking: teachers will just 'teach-to-the-test' to insure success. If done correctly, that would be perfectly fine. You see, if the students gain the skills to score well on those tests, then they will have mastered the skills needed to move forward.

In Arkansas, we have things like benchmark tests, end-of-course tests, etc. In my vision, students would get those tests in August or September and then again late in the year. It makes no sense for teachers to be evaluated based on one test each year. I know this is the bane of No Child Left Behind. Schools are assessed for every fourth-grader that comes through. Here's the problem, and it seems pretty obvious to me which explains why the government hasn't figured it out yet: students change from year to year. This year, a teacher might have a more successful group of students than the next year, and the teacher has NO CONTROL over it. Think I'm crazy? Think about your own family! No two kids are the same. even identical twins might score differently. So, take two completely unrelated groups of students and then base a teacher's success by testing each group and comparing each group to the other group. Isn't like apples-to-oranges? Or even Granny Smiths to Red Delicious?

I believe in teacher merit pay, but the playing field must be level in order to play.

So, there you have it. My whacked-out ideas on education reform.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Idol Thoughts 2009 Top 13, er 11

Top 13 Idols

Holy Michael-friggin Jackson! Man, this is the best Idol ever and it hasn't even started yet! I know MiJac is way out there on the social interaction scale, but there is no denying his power and place in music and entertainment.

Speaking of Michael, the rumor on the street is that he's got a new single coming out before his London shows in July! I'll keep my eyes peeled. There is also a rumor floating around that he is going to release an

Singer---------Dave---Shan---
Lil Rounds------Y------Y-----
Scott M --------?------?-----
Danny G --------Y------Y-----
Michael S ------Y------Y-----
Jasmine --------Y------Y-----
Kris A ---------Y------Y-----
Allison --------N------?-----
Anoop ----------N------?-----
Jorge ----------N------N-----
Megan ----------?------N-----
Adam -----------N------N-----
Matt G ---------?------?-----
Alexis ---------Y------Y-----


Notes:
Lil Rounds - This girl can sing the phone book! Man, she knocked "The Way You make Me Feel" out of the park!
Scott M - "Keep the Faith" - I like Scott, but I'm not sure if this was good enough to keep in him.
Danny G - "PYT" - Man, he did not start strong, but once he got going - it was very well done! Shan said she could listen to him on the radio very easily.
Michael S - "You are Not Alone" - He's got soul and almost a country thing going. Okay, well, he has some weird pronunciations and affectations. But he will stay alive this round.
Jasmine - "I'll Be There" - wow, big song. Not the greatest version, but she can sing for sure.
Kris - The boy from Arkansas. Wow, he and his wife make a cute couple. "Remember the Time" - We like him. He has grown on me. A few rough spots though. Ouch.
Allison - I like the raspy voice, but the screaming has got to go.
Anoop - "Beat It" - Wow, this is bad. Karaoke and breathless. It's bad, bad, ya know it, c'mon. Shan said it was better than she expected him to be. He has a strong following though.
Jorge - Wow, this is like a bad Las Vegas act. I am not feelin this one.
Megan - Shan said, "Tattoo. No." She's doin' "Rockin Robin." Wow, this is kinda weird. It is a slightly updated version, but has a 'sing-along' quality or something.
Adam - Hate the 'look.' "Black or White" - wow big shoes to fill. Uh, no. This is like watching a bad Zac Efron imitation, and that's not good to start with. Wow, this gets worse the longer he sings.
Matt G - "Human Nature" - Not bad, okay, nothing special.
Alexis - "Dirty Diana" - Interesting choice of song for a woman to sing. I like her version though. Very rockin, cool. Gives a whole take on the lyrics...



And now, we move ahead to the results:

The "Judges Save" is an interesting twist. We'll see if they even use it.

Michael Sarver - SAFE - Excellent!
Allison - SAFE - meh.
Jasmine - GONE - What? Really? Wow, that surprises me. And they kicked her off pretty early in the show.
Matt G - SAFE - not bad, not great
Kris - SAFE - AWESOME!
Megan - SAFE - okay...
Scott - SAFE - I hope he goes far.
Alexis - SAFE - I thought she did well, hope she goes far.
Danny - SAFE - Awesome! I am a big fan of his.
Anoop - SAFE - well, I didn't care if he or Jorge went home.
Adam - SAFE - Well, we don't agree with that one. ugh.
Jorge - GONE - No surprise. I hope the judges don't keep him. No save.
Lil Rounds - SAFE - Hot dog! I think she could take it all.

Carrie Underwood singing "Home Sweet Home" is awesome!

Gone for Days

Here's the deal. See, I had training on Monday and Tuesday in Little Rock. On the way to training, I decided I would bust out my voice recorder (okay, so it is built into my cell phone) and record whatever thoughts came into my head. The plan was then to write them down here. Yeah, we see how THAT worked out.

Tonight, I present a few of the thoughts I can remember. In no particular order:


While driving down the Interstate, a car coming the other direction (on his own side of the highway) suddenly pulled off the road onto the shoulder. As I approached, I saw that a coyote ot wolf had gotten trapped between the front tire and the front bumper. It was wedged in there pretty good. So much so, in fact, that as I passed by, I looked in my rear view mirror to see the car's reverse lights come on as the drive tried to get the carcass unstuck.


A little further down the road, I approached several police cars with lights flashing. There were also wreckers and rescue vehicles. As I passed by, a tractor trailer had managed to go flying off the road into some trees. The cab and about a third of the trailer were demolished. I also had enough time to notice there were two police on four-wheelers riding around near the creek that was just beyond what was left of the truck's cab. Why were they on 4-wheelers? I have no idea. Or as Emily would say, "I have no-eyed deer!"


Because Shan had bought a large sweet tea from Sonic for me before I left for the training, I was plenty ready for that rest stop when it came into view. After the two accidents I had seen, though, I wasn't sure i should stop. Mother Nature decided for me. I turn 40 next month. The big four-oh. I used to drink gallons of stuff and not have to make a pit stop for eight hours at a time. A lot has changed since my college years.


We played around with Movie Maker in the training. Being the attention deficited person I am, I poked around and found a green-screen add-on for Movie maker. It's free, just a little XML file really, and it is cool. Of course, I didn't think too make anything I could post on here. That would have made too much sense. Maybe someday. then again, you can search YouTube for Movie Maker Green screen and find all kinds of cool effects.


I'll be posting our Idol Thoughts here later tonight. We planned to watch it on Tuesday, but got sidetracked talking about various things going on in school.


The home computer decided it wanted to act up tonight, so instead of me getting to post some cool things on my Indians baseball card blog, I spent two hours fighting the dumb thing and still managed to not get it working. For some reason, Office Picture Manager locks everything up when i select "crop" now. I found a 'possible' solution online, but of course that didn't work. I'm quickly approaching the 'bigger hammer' method. Rather than go that route, I opted to sit in the living room with the TV off and write this post. Yay me, I guess.


Well, for now, I'll wrap this up. Thanks for stopping by. I wish I could say I entertained you, but looking back, it was mostly carnage and wreckage in various flavors.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Irrational fear of OIL CHANGES

Hello. My name is Dave. I'm a guy and I have an irrational fear of getting my oil changed. Yes, it's true, and I freely admit the fact. What would cause such a fear in a person? because my fear is that I would end up like this person:


Now, that is captured from a video you can find online. To see the video, search youtube or whatever. The truth is, if you watch the video, I think it's set up. The driver comes in way too fast for anyone pulling into an oil change place.

But, the fact is, the driver drove right into the change pit. Every time I pull my truck up to the service bay, I line up my wheels and I watch the guy guide me in - all the while hoping truck doesn't end up in the pit. The funny thing is, the place I get my oil changed has little rails that stick up, so even if I drifted a little, I'd hit the rails before diving off into the deep end HEMI first.

Nonetheless, my heart races, my hands grip the wheel tightly, and I pray like mad (on the inside).

Is there a term for the 'fear of driving into the oil change pit?' Perhaps Pennzoilophobia or QuakerStateus Fallinus?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Idol Thursday - Judges pick too many.

Singer------Dave----Shan----Emily---
Jessie-------Y-------?--------Y-----
Matt---------N-------N--------N-----
Megan--------N-------N--------Y-----
Von----------N-------N--------N-----
Jasmine------Y-------Y--------Y-----
Ricky--------N-------?--------N-----
Tatiana------N-------N--------N-----
Anoop--------N-------?--------N-----


Jessie - I liked her a lot. Shan isn't so sure.
Matt - I am not a fan whatsoever. He killed that Jackson 5 song, and not in a good way.
Megan - I have to say no. shan said, "no, no, no, nonono, she's not the one for me!"
Von - Uh, slow falsetto. Can you spell Buh-Bye!?
Jasmine - I gave Jasmine a yes before she even got on stage. She is flat out awesome.
Ricky - Karaoke for me. He tried too hard to sound like he was not trying to sound like Stevie. Shan kinda liked him.
Tatiana - She just drives me nuts, and not in a good way. Ryan on his knees was hilarious! she can sing, though, and I hate that. I have to give her a yes, even though I can't stand it. Shan says "She can sing, but NO!" I didn't realize she had sung it before. I changed my answer to NO.
Anoop - Well, you know he is freaking because he already sang this before. He should get slammed for it too.

Shan picks: Anoop, Jasmine, Megan
Emily picks: Megan, Jasmine, Anoop
Dave picks: Jessie, Jasmine, Anoop (only because that's who will go through)

And the judges say:
Jasmine - Top 12!
Ricky - Not top 12
Megan - Top 12!
Tatiana - Not top 12 - it's all about Tatiana... Give me a break. Paula's right, she's certainly an actor.
Jessie - Not top 12
Von - Not top 12
Matt - Top 12 - Wow, that is an absolute shock.
Anoop - Top 13!? Okay... whatever. He who makes the rules can break the rules. Emily said it is the weirdest thing she has ever seen on American Idol.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Idol Wednesday - Really!

The results are in. Let's see how things go tonight:

Well, the opening number wasn't too bad. "Hot and Cold" is one of my favorite songs as of late.

Lil is the first one in right off the bat! That was a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned. She has an excellent chance to go all the way.

Ariana - Not top 12 - Not surprising, but might get a wildcard.

Taylor - Not top 12 - I don't even remember her from last night.

Alex - Not Top 12 - Yeah, his performance was a little weird. I don't think we'll hear from him anymore.

Kendall - Not top 12 - We didn't go for her...

Scott - Top 12! - That is excellent! He's got a shot at top 5, I believe.

Nathaniel - Not top 12 - Thank the heavens above! I'm sure he's got a following, but I think we've seen the last of him.

Kristen - Not top 12 - Shan liked her. I didn't. I think she's done.

Von - Not top 12 - No big loss there.

Felicia - Not top 12 - Bummer. We liked her.

Ju'Not - Not top 12 - He might be a wildcard.

Jorge - Top 12 - What the heck? He cannot sing, people. Wake up.


Here are the wildcards:

Von - What!? That is not someone I would have picked. I was hoping he was outta here. Well, he won't be around long.
Jasmine - Now, that's a great choice. She has appeal, she can sing.
Ricky - I don't really remember him.
Megan - I think we liked her singing...
Tatiana - What the heck is in those Coke glasses? She is ridiculous. There are people who deserve this spot so much more.
Matt - Wow, yet another person we thought be disappear into the ether.
Jesse - We'll see how she does. I'm neither way with her.
Anoop - Oh brother.

Man, there are some talented folks that totally hosed in the wildcard round. Guess you gotta do something for ratings.

Well, it will certainly be a multicultural Idol this year. Maybe that will help push everyone to new levels!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

American Idol Wednesday (er, Tuesday)

Okay, so I was a day ahead of myself when I made the title originally. It has been a S--L--O--W week!!

singer------dave-----shan----
Von----------N--------N------
Taylor-------?--------N------
Alex---------N--------N------
Arianna------N--------N------
Ju'Not-------N--------Y------
Kristen------N--------Y------
Nathaniel----N--------N------
Felicia------Y--------Y------
Scott--------Y--------Y------
Kendall------N--------N------
Jorge--------N--------N------
Lil----------Y--------Y------

Our Thoughts:

  • Von - uh, what's with the whispering there, guy? Not happenin.
  • Taylor - Not awful, but not great in my opinion. Wrong song or something.
  • Alex - He's got a great personality. I'm a little mixed. He has too much affectation. Shan gave him a NO. Kind of weird karaoke in there.
  • Arianna - ABBA!? Really? Way too old fashioned for me.
  • Ju'Not - Yeah, i was right: Ju' *Not* the next American Idol. This nearly put me to sleep. If you're going to sing this, you should put a dance mix feel to it. Shan, on the other hand, gave him a Yes.
  • Kristen - Kan you say Karaoke? Well, since she is a karaoke hostess, she has the right job.
  • Nathaniel - He was given a NO before the show started. I just don't like him. Period.
  • Felicia - Well, the competition finally starts tonight! Excellent job for her!
  • Scott - I am a huge fan of his and I love "Mandolin Rain" and together, it's a total victory.
  • Kendall - Not bad, not great. I don't think she'll get the votes.
  • Jorge - Well, he's no Ricky Martin. My mother-in-law said she wasn't even voting in this and she gave him a NO.
  • Lil Rounds - Shan gave her a YES before she even started singing. We are big fans of Lil! Let's see how she does. Man, she is good. She sounds like she has already won and had been invited back to perform.

For the record, we didn't listen to much of the judges comments. We needed to go to bed sometime tonight.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Not something you read every day...

According to The Business Insider, the New York Times could save $300 million per year by buying each of their subscribers a Kindle instead of printing the actual paper. (article here)

Now, if you haven't heard of The Kindle, it's a device developed for Amazon.com as a way to get you the periodicals, books, and other media without actually having the paper in your hand. It's electronic and uses cellular technology to deliver the goods.

This is a Kindle (version 1):

The thing was met with mixed reviews, mostly because it looks like a blocky, heavy, ugly thing. The controls were, evidently, not very user-friendly either.

Now, the Kindle II is being introduced:

Seriously? Maybe I'm too old school, but I just don't think this whole idea is going to fly. I'm not a huge reader as it is, but I sure don't want to carry THAT thing around unless I am forced to.

However, this is a discussion about the NYT saving money (and for all you peace-love-and-many-groovies people, trees). Seriously, if the New York Times could save 300 Million Dollars in printing by sending their subscribers one of these things, I think we are seriously looking at the beginning of the end of printed newspapers.

Oh, I know, the town criers have been shouting this for years, but the number one reason we still have papers to hold in our hands is because many of the readers of those papers grew up with paper. We like it. It feels good in our hands, we can easily turn to the page or section we want, we can read the comics in color.

Yes, the Kindle and Kindle2 offer no color screen. Many folks are wondering why we would need color if all we are reading is text... Because we LIKE color... We want to read our comics in color. It's a colorful world out there and we want to see it on our screens and in our hands.

But even color issues aside, the fact is, I would guess most newspaper readers in the country (perhaps the world) are NOT the Gen-X, Gen-Why, Gen-Me crowd. The readers are the same folks that like to do the crossword in pencil. I am in that category (though I like to do them in pen). I had a TabletPC for work. It was neat, still is cool. But, the fact is, I like my notebook full of paper and a pen to hold in my hand. I like to be able to open a book and close the book. Sure the Kindle has bookmarking, etc etc, but it's not the same.

Where does all of this lead? As I said, it is the beginning of the end of newspapers in print. As those of us that like paper get older and pass on, our children and grandchildren will not want the paper version. They love the gizmos and gadgets. They want to be able to mark this, turn it off and pick up some other gadget then come back to the 'e-reader.' One day, I would venture a guess at 15-20 years from now, paper media will be very hard to come by and electronic delivery will be the preferred (perhaps only) method. Newspapers, magazines, publishers who think otherwise have their heads buried far too deeply into the sands of time. Print media outlets had better come up for air soon, or they will find themselves buried.