Sep 30, 2007

A day for projects... Bye, Bye, Biggio

It started on Saturday, really. I installed a new air filter on the air conditioner. Unlike a traditional brick home, the filter for our double-wide is the 'standard' 1/2-inch variety used in mobile homes. So, for our house, we buy the "cut-to-fit" type. Hey, look, I can't help the things that pop in my head, man...

In any case, while replacing the filter, I noticed something on the condenser coils. So, this morning, after we came home following Sunday School, I got out the Mean Green and got the coils cleaned up pretty well. We'll prolly have someone come in who knows what they're doing to get them really clean, but for now, it works.

I may have mentioned a bit of a leak in the shower... I may not have.... Well, there is one - or was one. So, since I have no idea what I'm doing, I decided to put two and two together. We had a tube of silicone gel caulking left over from the flooring in the kitchen (used to seal around the washer/dryer in case of water leak). I went to Wal-Mart and grabbed a caulking gun (which had a built-in seal piercing rob, but I was too clueless to know what the thing was until after I had used a long deck nail to accomplish the task). 'major' screws holding parts together are the goofy square-headed kind, and the screw holding the shower track in place is no different. Messed with that a bit, and finally got the bottom track off.

Let me tell you, if you even SUSPECT water may be getting under your shower track, do something about it NOW! The build of water, etc under the track was AWFUL! But, I got it all cleaned up, dropped the track back in p[lace, and started caulking it up. I'm sure there is some kind of 'smoothing' tool I am supposed to use, but I tried a flathead screwdriver. For the record, that does not work well for this project. So, I just angled the bead a bit and went for the 'overlapping, make sure there are no air pockets' approach. I told Shan that I may be redoing it in a week, but we'll know more on Tuesday (has to cure for 24 hours, and I am giving some extra time to be sure). I'll let you know....

I think things like this fall under the general home up-keep category: cleaning the grill cover for the air conditioner condenser. Over time, dust and other stuff gets built up on the air intake fins of the filter cover. So, while I was in that room, I decided that I just as well get that taken care of, too. The little things are the "5 minute" jobs we hate to do and know that they won't take any time at all. That is why I am so bad about doing them. In my mind, I think, "Oh, I can do that later since it won't take long..." But then, that very thinking pushed the task further and further back from being completed. I bit the bullet, so to speak, and got it done. So, there ya go...

I could do nothing but shake my head today at the Steelers.... A punt gets returned against them for a TD, and though that had a nice drive at the end, they kicked that stupid half-onside thing. Cowher would never had done anything so stupid. Either boot the thing, or onside it. There's no in-between. Well, there is, and we all witnessed how well THAT worked....

The Indians take on the Yankees on Thursday. I hope they send the Yanks packing.... I am a realist, however, and understand the chances of that coming to pass are not as good as they may have been in the late 90's....

Ahhh, the season premier of Desperate Housewives aired tonight. There is nothing like escaping reality by watching the residents of the absolute, most insanely populated street in the world. Just as I had shaken my head in disbelief at the Steelers earlier today, I did the same as I watched the friends make their "no more lies" pact, which I believe they make EVERY season at some point, don't they? :-) Yes, I'm a straight guy who likes the show. Sex, humor, rumor, kids, murder, mayhem, cancer, false pregnancies, replacement children, botched fake suicide attempts, and a pizza place... What's not there to like? :-)

Craig Biggio walked into the MLB circa 1988. Though I am not an Astros fan, per se, I instantly bought into the whole Biggio bandwagon. He came in heading for the Hall of Fame. Twenty years later, he played in his final game and bid farewell to the team he played with for his entire career. I have no doubts he will reach Cooperstown when his time comes up for nomination. He is not one of "greatest players of all time," though he is certainly one of the best (and THE best in many categories) Astros ever. He is one of the all-around "good guys" of baseball, and that is EXACTLY why he should/will end up in the HOF. Congratulations, Mr. Biggio, and thank you for playing the game, raising millions for children's charity, and for hanging out with the fans for twenty years!

Not in the Top 10!

I just finished watching the NFL Network's "Top 10 Worst Teams" and the Steelers were no where to be found! Honestly, I find this surprising, especially after last year. But, it turns out, there were teams that truly sucked eggs (the 1980 'aints!). I was keenly aware through my own memories of many of the teams they ranked in the top 10, and only a few were before my time. I found it interesting that many of them were in the 90's! If you get a chance to catch the show, I recommend it... Well, unless your favorite team happens to be on the list.... :-)

Speaking of Steeler football, we watched the "2005 Steelers" regarding the road to Detroit and the One for the Thumb. Though it mostly centered on Porter, Bettis and Big Ben, it was told in such a way that by the end, tears rolled down our cheeks.

Ben had promised Bettis that if the Bus came back for one more year, he would get The Bus back home to Detroit. In each of the last four games of the season, Ben gave Bettis the game ball, saying, "Here's #1...#2...#3," and finally, as shown in the picture above, he handed The Bus the game ball from the Super Bowl and told Bettis that it was Number 4, just as he promised.

While poking around the 'net, I did a search for Howie Mandel's old stand-up routines (No, I don't know WHY, I just did). Here are some on YouTube, including his 1st TV appearance.... I remember watching some of those clips when they really were shown for the first time. Heck, I was even quoting a lot of the routines while he was saying them, and they are still as funny now as they were when I saw them as a kid.

Sep 28, 2007

Swerving - Watch out for those asterisks!

I'll be all over the place, so I apologize ahead of time if things are disjointed and/or make no sense to the world outside the space between my ears... :-)

The votes are in, and the ball *WILL* get an asterisk. Oh, I mean Barry Bonds history-making home run ball, of course. The ball will be donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame with the marking. Whether or not they DISPLAY the mark, who knows...

I went to KFC for lunch. They have a 2-strip meal* for $2.99. My lunch cost $6.00+ after taxes...
*Oh, what is the asterisk here for? You see, the "meal" does not include a drink. So, add almost 2 bucks for a drink. And, I decided to get a chocolate parfait to go with it. And then there is the whole tax thing....

Asia - Asia

Asia was one of my favorite bands when I was younger. On the radio today, I heard "Only Time Will Tell" (lyrics). This is classic 80's rock if there ever was. I'm sure people have put together lots of anthologies of the 80's, and along side classics like "She Blinded Me With Science," "Jam On It," "Thriller," etc, "Heat of the Moment" needs to be right in there*...
*In fact, I feel a trip to iTunes coming on...

In college, I worked at Pizza Hut and Mickey-D's at the same time. My brother worked at McD's. During one of my pizza deliveries, he called and asked if I would come by to get him and run him to the house we were living in. After I picked him up, I was trying to get back to the house quickly. The doofus in front of me made a complete stop before starting to turn RIGHT into the Waffle House parking lot. I did not have time for this. I whipped out around him. Suddenly, blue flashing lights filled the car from behind. I pulled over. "I stopped you because you were serving." "Swerving?" I asked stupidly. "Yeah, I should give you a ticket for swerving." I explained my situation and he let me off with a warning. The whole to the house, I kept repeating my offense: Swerving!? Could see a ticket on my record for SWERVING!? "Hey, buddy, whaddya in for?" "Swerving... wanna make some of it?" Yeesh.

At the DL conference, I wore my Indians jersey to baseball night. A guy comes over and asks, "Are you the owner of the blue truck with the Indians plate on the front?" "Yeap," I answer. He tells me he is from Cleveland! I tell him that I was born and raised in Pittsburgh but that I am a Cleveland fan. This is apparently way too vague because he says, "Really? Like the Cavs and the Browns, too?" I hurriedly corrected him, "No, no... I am a Steelers fan, through and through. Just the Indians. And, really, the Browns aren't REALLY the Browns*...." He gave me that knowing look and said, "You're right. You got me there..." I honestly don't remember any of the conversation after that, or if there was even conversation after that. I'm sure he moved to another table after that one.... :-)
*The "real" Browns were moved to Baltimore. After one season, Cleveland was allowed to start the Browns organization up again with new players.

Friday night, Emily was one of the "Mini Cheerleaders!!!" She had a lot of fun, and they did a little dance routine to "Car Wash." It was very cute!!

Though, you can see she was not thrilled with having herself being videotaped! :-)

Sep 27, 2007

Of baseball and trampolines

Our keynote speaker for today's final day of the ARDLA Annual Conference was Dr. Delores "Dolly" Brumfield-White. "Dolly" was a member of the AAGPBL (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) from 1947-1953. She was only FOURTEEN when she was signed to play. In reality, she was allowed to train and watch for most of the first year because of her age.

It turns out she lives in Arkadelphia, AR, which is less than 30 minutes away from where I live, AND she was one of the PE coaches at the University where I went to college WHILE I was at that college. I wish I had known then, but I was not athletically inclined, thus our paths did not cross, so far as I remember.

She spoke to our group about life during World War II and what it was like to play baseball - a sport she loved (and still loves). She is now on the education advisory board for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and spends much of her time doing public speaking engagements. She talked about the movie (which things were based on real events and which were creatively added (like the fact that the girls did not live in the 'sorority house' they showed in the movie - they actually lived with families near the fields where they were playing). She was paid $55 per week (twice what her teacher friends were making).

I was awestruck, and received an autographed card, too! As far as I am concerned, getting to listen to her is the same as if Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, or Cal Ripken Jr had been standing there. In fact, in a lot of ways, it was even better. We were talking to and listening to someone who had a part in an amazing time in history. A true living legend was standing before us, and she was as down-to-earth and laugh-out-loud funny as anyone could be! Listening to her story, and tales!, brought feelings of triumph and pride, and of heartbreak and sadness. I can only imagine the stories her children and grandchildren have heard over the years, and I hope they sit at her feet every time she spins one of her yarns.

Since there were parent-teacher conferences today, I went to the school to pick up the kiddos and a couple of their friends. They all played various console games until it was time for something to eat. I ran them up to Sonic, and we brought the food back to munch. After they were done eating, they all went out to jump on the trampoline. Now, I don't how the kids you know go about jumping, but ours took off their shoes (not socks). The mat leaves black marks on everything, and so, when the friends' Dad came to pick up the children, he saw that their feet and socks were blackened from the trampoline. He finally decided that the socks would find the trash can before the night was over. Em jumped in the tub and got a good washing off!!

I forgot to post pictures from the Eden's Edge concert! John took several pictures and uploaded them to Flickr. But, some of my favorites are these:

Performing on stage!

Hannah and her Mom perform, "Spoon River" together.

Cherrill and her sister perform a duet.

ARDLA - Day 2

I woke up at a little before 7:00 this morning. Not for any reason I could tell, but my body said it was time to rise and shine. After a quick shower, headed upstairs to breakfast. Today's breakfast was fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, biscuits, syrup, danish, you name it.

Jan Zanetis

The keynote speaker today was a hair better than the one yesterday, but really, I can't help but wonder where they find these folks. We are DISTANCE LEARNING professionals. We are in EDUCATION - whether K12 or higher ed. I think the keynotes for next year should be made painfully aware that WE KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON... DUH! We have one of the most extensive CIV networks in the country. We have twice as many systems as North Carolina, yet hold 4-5 TIMES the conferences at 4-5 TIMES the conference hours! DUH!

Today, we were told about the changing face of education. "You can't keep doing things the way they have been done in the past." Holy Lost Packets, Batman! Did she say we have to change!? The face of education is changing. DUH! We are the ones helping to CHANGE the face of education, are we not?? Look, I know we're in Arkansas, and Arkansas gets a bad rap for a lot of things. But, anyone who is asked to present in our state needs to be given some kind of "State of the Network" update before they even think of coming in here and talking to us like we are running everything on shoestrings and tin cans. We have OVER FIVE HUNDRED end points on the network, and that doesn't even include the systems that are not "officially" known.

Several of the questions that were posed to us were things like:
* Do you know what a podcast is?
* Do you know what a wiki is?
* Do you know what a blog is? (I answered NO, just to be a smart-butt)

Hello!? The people at this conference are the DISTANCE EDUCATION people in the state, many of whom should be (if they are not already) considered LEADERS in DL in one form or another. Of course we know these things!

Now, I will say that at least we were given some APPLICATION of the theories presented, and some "points to ponder," but it really bothers me when people come in from out of state and think we don't have a clue.

I hope that those of us in Arkansas DL continue to present at conferences like NECC, USDLA, etc. I love watching people's mouths drop to the floor when we begin to talk about what Arkansas, YES, Arkansas, is doing technologically.

For lunch, we were served 'wraps.' Soft whole-wheat tortillas wrapped around turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and bacon. Oh, and mayo.... Oh yeah, and there was mayo on the wrap..... Have I mentioned the 10 GALLONS of mayo on the wraps!? UGH. I finally took a cue from John, and unwrapped mine. I ate the meat and cheese...

After lunch, several of us went to the Arkansas School for Math, Sciences, and the Arts. I had never been there before, so it was nice to see what the provider's campus looks like. It is an old hospital. It has been modified for the ASMSA (which is a place where advanced students can live on-site and get a specialized education). But, really, it's a modified hospital. Oh, and it's attached to an old convent. Frankly, it is one of the creepiest places I've seen in a while. These are lots of modifications, and they a lot of technology, etc, but all I really saw were old hospital rooms now serving as offices and DL teacher rooms. I don't know if it was a psych hospital or not, but I can understand why some kids go a little wacky in there and have to go home.

Having said that, what ASMSA does for kids is simply amazing. One student last years discovered a way to test for Meth by simply swabbing the wall! Another student a couple years ago did breakthrough studies in reproduction of something or other (sorry, forgot). This year, they anticipate their students will be offered $100 MILLION in scholarships! Last year, 95 graduates were offered $90 MILLION in scholarships. That says a lot about the programs and the caliber of students that come out of ASMSA. Still, the place itself creeped me out...

It also doesn't help that they had one of their PhD's attempt to remove a malignant tumor from his ear with a SOLDERING IRON! Hello?! (That was this past year!)

After we got back, several folks were hanging out, talking, so we did that for a while. John and I decided to go to Hibbett's to get ballcaps for tonight's baseball gala. Of course, they don't carry Indians hats out here in Arkansas (yes, I have Indians caps at the house, but they are AT THE HOUSE...). So, I snagged a Pirates cap, being from the 'Burgh and all! :-) Of course, generally, it's against the law to wear Cleveland AND Pittsburgh at the same time... :-) I figure since Cleveland is in the playoffs and Pittsburgh couldn't buy their way in, I'd be okay... :-)

After Hibbett's, we took a trip to Wal-Mart to see if John could find some white boxers for his son Chris. No luck, and we opted to stop by Scoops Ice Cream for a bite. Our logic here was this: get ice cream now, eat 'supper' at the baseball gala. I'm assuming they'll have hot dogs, etc... :-)

As we were eating our treats, I saw a former co-op tech, Sandra, walk by. After we finished, we walked down the strip mall, and found Sandra in the Christian bookstore. Turns out her sister works there. We chatted for a bit. Sandra had come back not long ago from a trip to Alaska (she is enjoying her retirement!), and says that if you ever take one cruise in your life, THAT'S the place to go. I'll file that away for future reference! :-)

Later, John and I headed off to JCP to see if they had white boxers. Chris is only allowed white boxers in the jail (yes, he said it was okay for me to talk about), and John is only allowed to bring THREE pair per visit. Why? Who the heck knows! Anyway, we found some at JCP. On the way there, though, the question came up about "pairs" or boxers. Why are they called "pairs??" I don't know about you, but I only put on ONE brief at a time... Why are they "pairs" of briefs? Or "pairs" of pants for that matter? The answer (so far as I have been able to determine):

In the "old" days, pants and undergarments really were separate items that were tied together (also, the origin of the expression "one leg at a time"). After the manufacturing process united them permanently, the terminology stuck: pair of pants, pair of underwear, pair of glasses... So, now you know....

Baseball night was very cool! I did not win the wiffle ball home run derby, but I had a lot of fun playing anyway! I think the biggest obstacle we faced was the fact we were playing INSIDE! LOL!! I did win a canvas tote, which I gave to a retiring member of the ARDLA group because she really wanted it, and, well, I have no real use for a canvas tote... :-)

(This got posted on Thursday because the goofy internet at the hotel would not let me bring up the blogspot pages. Go figure)

Sep 25, 2007

And the Award Goes To...

Part of this week is being spent in Hot Springs at the Arkansas DL Assoc. conference. During the awards luncheon, the group that started the K12 DL Curriculum Portal were awarded the K12 Service in Technology Award!! We are very excited and very proud of the award. I'll get a picture of the plaque and post it here later. It means a lot that our hard work over the past two years was recognized by people to get us the nomination, and then by the awards committee to give us the award!

We have jumped over many hurdles and through many hoops over the past two years (which I shared a lot of those with you on here), and it feels great to know that people all over the state are seeing what an impact the site has on K12 education in Arkansas!

I read online that Warren Jeffs has been convicted. If you don't know, he is the wacko that has a community convince he is some kind of prophet who specializes in polygamous marriage arrangements. In my book, anyone who runs a cult or cult-like 'organization' or 'community' is a wack job. And, his was so bad that he limited what was taught, how it was taught. That is how you control people, and how you ultimately lose that control. As .38 Special once sang, "If you squeeze too tightly, you're gonna lose control..." Exactly. And, it's about time.

Tonight is 70's night at the ARDLA conference. I am writing this at about 7:00. I'm not sure if I'm going to the 'bash' or not. If I do go, I'll let ya know how it all went (or at least how it went for the time I went, anyway).

It is 8:40pm. I went to the 70's Night shindig. Some of the folks wore 70's-related T-Shirts, a few dressed the part (long hippy hair, headbands, or fros with Elton John glasses, etc..). Tonya, the ARDLA president this year, dress as Cher, and she was a very good imitation. Very funny!

For the record, I didn't even reach double-digit ages until the 70's were a memory. I recognized some of the songs the guy playing a guitar was putting out, but some I had never heard. I won't say which ones because I know certain people (like my Aunt, and half the people at the thing) would probably wring my neck, or gape in disbelief. I never went through a "70's revival" in High School or college. As far as I am concerned, for good or bad, I consider myself a child of the 80's. That is the music I listened to most and that I most identify with. The 70's party was kinda fun and all, but really, it was pretty much lost on me... That's nothing against it at all... Sometimes things ring true for us and sometimes they don't. That's life! :-)

Though, I guess the guy they brought in to play was playing some disco or some harder rock, I might have recognized a few tunes... :-)

So, for all the DL folks that went and read this, I'm glad y'all had a good time!! :-) I'm looking forward to Wednesday night - BASEBALL NIGHT! Suh-weet!!

Sep 24, 2007

Indians grab AL Central Title!

For the first time since 2001, the Indians head into the American League playoffs as the American League CHAMPS!! Could this be the year they go all the way? There is a lot of work to be done, if that's going to happen. Hafner, Sizemore, and a few others on the team will have to step it up. Sabathia, Westbrook, and the other pitchers will also have to be better than they have been. I know that seems harsh to say, but really, there is going to be some fierce ball playing in the playoffs.

(DAVID RICHARD/Associated Press)

But, really, as far as I am concerned, the fact that they kicked butt this year is AWESOME!! Congratulations to the Tribe!!

Tyler and I stayed home today (Monday) becuase we are both having major coughing fits with sore throats. We think Tyler's is from staying at a friend's house (where they smoke), and I don't know if mine of from going in to pick him up or if it something that has been building for a while... I was feeling a little sick Saturday night of the Eden's Edge concert... At any rate, we're both home sick. Took some medicine around 10am and will have some lunch around noon. We should be well enough to get back to work/school on Tuesday...

Speaking of work, I will be in Hot Springs for the next few days during the Arkansas Distance Learning Association annual conference. Should be al ot of fun, especially n Wednesday night! We are having a "baseball" night, and the guest speaker Thursday morning will be former All-American Girls Professional Baseball Leaguer, Dolly White!! :-) How cool is that!?!?!? :-)

Sep 22, 2007

Random Thoughts

While watching TV today, Shan made the comment that Bret Somers had died. I had no idea! I don't anything about her, other than I watched her all the time on "Match Game" when I was growing up. I did manage to come across her Official Website while looking for info regarding her passing...

I gave Daisy a haircut yesterday (Friday) because it had become so tangled I could not simply work out the tangles. In horse lingo, they call it "roaching." In my language, I call it a "buzz." Her mane has been trimmed down to about 3/4 of an inch. As it grows, we will 'train' it to fall to the one side (I hope) and we'll do a better job of trying to keep the tangles out! :-)

Tonight (Saturday), one of my favorite local (they are from northwest Arkansas) group is playing in Hope! They are Hannah Blaylock and Eden's Edge (website). The Hope concert will be their last before they to Nashville to seek out their 'big break' (even though they have 2 CD's out already!).

The concert was fantastic! Because of the venue (the old City Hall building), and because there was a small crowd, it was a very personal concert setting. Shan and Emily both went with me, and they enjoyed themselves. For me, one of the best parts was near the end, they asked if there were any songs they hadn't played that we wanted to hear. I yelled out, "Jesus Saves!" And they played it! :-) It is one of my favorite songs. They had a good mix of uptempo and slow songs, plus threw in a couple of "pickin" songs for good measure.

Cherrill's sister (who now lives in Bradley) got on stage and did a duet with Cherrill! It was very touching. Later in the show, after they did "Jesus Saves," Hannah called her mom on stage and they both sang "Spoon River." Hannah said her Mom didn't get to see many of their concerts. How fitting that she not only got to see their last as "Hannah Blaylock and Eden's Edge," but that she also got on stage and sang with her daughter!!

The group will now simply be called "Eden's Edge," so if you hear of them, you'll know that it is the same group.

At the show, Emily and I each got a poster that was hand signed by each of the group members in silver Sharpie (still wet when we got them because the back of mine has smeared silver streaks!), and everyone got a program.

I have been to several concerts in my life (Cyndi Lauper with The Bangles, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Barney Live, Steven Curtis Chapman, and a couple others), but this was one of the best because it was such an intimate setting. And, there is something cool about seeing a local band, singing along to all the songs (well, except for one brand-new one), and sharing a couple of "family moments" that you never get after they're "stars." I will always be proud to say, "I saw them when..."

To Hannah and Eden's Edge, I wish you all the best. May God bless you in your journey!

After the show, we went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things for Sunday lunch. I also got Emily a new booster seat! She is now big enough to ride with a booster instead of the car seat she had been using. She loved it, mainly because it actually sits fully upright without leaning to one side or the other! Plus, it *IS* pink, after all. I tried to get a blue one to match the truck, but as soon as we saw pink, well, that ended any discussion.

So, I had a weird dream last night, though it had a recurring theme. This time, I was in college (AGAIN), and as usual, I was late for classes that I didn't remember signing up for. And, of course, there were tests in those classes. I think I have those because that is a part of my real life - I really did take classes in college that are on my transcript but I have ZERO recollection of ever signing up for. You would think they would drop you after NEVER having come to a class, but nope... Anyway, somehow, upon leaving the building, I managed to come across some kind of gang or something. I took off in a truck (not mine, don't know where it came from), and we had a chase through the old neighborhood I grew up in (in Prospect Park, for those that know where that is). The whole time, I'm looking around, saying, "This ain't right... I live in Prescott... How the hell did I get here?" Now, I am usually good at realizing I am in a dream and can either wake up or change it. Not this time. So, after a few turns, I am racing through the woods that were behind the apartments I lived in during 5th-9th grade. Again, I am going, "What the?? This is NOT right!" The gang is shooting at me, though, like in the movies, their shots never land anywhere near me. I finally stop at the dairy (it was a little convenience store, for lack of a better word, near those apartments), and get out of the truck. I run into the store where I spy the counter full of candy as soon as you walk in (VERY smart on the part of the owners) and the refrigerated stuff off to the left behind the shelves of bread and such. I buy a bag of Swedish Red Fish (some of the best candy ever!), and when I leave the store, I find myself in class again...eating Swedish Fish... and, yes, as usually happens in these dreams - I have no clothes on.

Okay, really...why do we dream that?? Do we HAVE to be naked?? Come on, man! I don't remember much after that, as I woke up shortly following my appearance 'au naturale.'

Now, THAT'S an image no one needs when they reach the end of a post.....

Sep 20, 2007

A day late and a dollaaaarrrr short....

September 19th was "Talk like a Pirate" day. I forgot to say something about it, so I'll say something now... First of all, one of the baseball card sites I frequent did a couple cool posts featuring, what else, Pittsburgh Pirate cards! :-)

Back in the day, I owned a Commodore 64 when they were the newest things on the block. By far, one of my favorite games was, in fact, Pirates! (The exclamation point is part of the game's title, though I suppose it still could be considered exciting to have owned it....) You can even find screenshots and more about the game online... Basically, you get ships, sail around, attack other ships, steal gold, plunder villages, woo king's' daughters... All around good wholesome fun.. Oh yeah, and of course there were the swashbuckling sword fights! :-)

So, if ya missed it, just go into work tomorrow (er, tomaaaarrrrow) and tell the boss (er, cap'n) that you ain't swabbin no decks today, Matey! Or, when the cap'n asks for that report that was due, you simply say, "Aaarrgh! Shiver me timbers! The booty's been swindled by ye olde sea hag!" Though, referring to the boss' wife as 'ye olde sea hag' is likely to land you in the stockades... or the poop deck...

Sep 19, 2007

a Far Cry from the details...

My Aunt wants the details. Emily got super sick, laid around for most of Saturday, then by Sunday was eating us out of house and home, ready to wash her VW... I'm not sure what details my Aunt is looking for, though we believe it was a 24 or 48 (or 36 even) hour bug.

I know I am not a details guy, but when those details include anything remotely connected to vomit, phlegm, or any other bodily liquid-like substance, you can rest assured that you will get NO details from me. Just because I can clean it up does not mean I want to talk about it... Call me the Exxon (as in Juan Valdez) of the household...

As you've read (assuming you are a regular reader, and if not, then welcome aboard!), I have been playing Far Cry lately on my PC. I freely and openly "admit" to finding cheat codes to help get me through the game. When I play a game, my goal is to play through and get the story without having to restart a billion times. Sorry, but getting killed 5, 10, 50, 231 times is not my idea of having fun in a game. So, I go out, find the cheat codes, and then play the game as if I were NOT using them. So, my character has unlimited ammo and can never be "killed." Does that detract from the storyline of the game, or the playability, or the RE-playability? Not in my book. In fact, I will often try things I might not have otherwise because I know I can without repercussions. In fact, that is WHY cheat codes were invented. Programmers made them up so they could test levels, actions, etc without having to worry about "surviving" their own game to get to the testing point.

I am saying all of this because I played quite a bit of the game tonight, and since it tells you how many times you WOULD HAVE died had you not been cheating, I saw my tally reach somewhere around 25 before I quit for the night. Now, that is not 25 times in the same place, that is over the course of that particular segment. Still, Far Cry only saves the game at certain "checkpoints," so I would have had to restart at places that were started way before I would have been killed. 25 times? Where is the FUN in that? The first few times, maybe. But after a while, I know I would get so frustrated that I would eventually quit playing altogether. What is the point in that?

So, I played tonight, and I cheated. And because I was not getting ripped to shreds, I actually got to appreciate some of the scenery, dialogue, and action that I would have been too frustrated to enjoy otherwise.

Cheaters never win... Unless they're playing a video game. :-)

(Afterthought: I do NOT condone cheating in multiplayer games unless all players are using the same cheats. Using cheats to get the "upper hand" on other online players really is cheating, in the true sense of the word.)

I found my checkbook today after work. You didn't know it was missing, did you? Well, since sometime this summer (actually, it was during the Hot Springs Tech Institute, but the exact dates escape me), I had lost my checkbook. I searched my truck, called the hotel, tore the house apart, and nothing. Today after work, I open the driver door, and peeking out from under the side of the seat is my checkbook. I looked there, I really did. Oh well, I'm just glad it didn't walk off somewhere waiting for someone to write checks. :-)

We watched last week's "Deal or no Deal" tonight (and we will watch THIS week's at some point). I thought it was pretty cool to have Trump on there, and the surprise of having a busload of the woman's friends come in from NYC. Of course, the best part was Trump writing a check to the woman's son for $25,000.

My minimum "walk out of there" offer is $200,000. Anything less would be uncivilized (sorry - old commercial playing in my head there). So, if I had been in her shoes, I would have done exactly what she did. Once the big money is gone, you just go ahead and play it out. At that point, what have you to lose, really? So, she walked out with $25 and her son got $25000... Not bad at all...

Sep 18, 2007

Thome Hits 500

Somehow, between the vomiting and yardwork this weekend, I missed the fact that Jim Thome hit his 500th home run!! He is the 23rd player to reach 500, and it all happened on Sunday, which happened to be Jim Thome Bobblehead day! Dang, why couldn't we have gone to Chicago this past weekend!? LOL, oh yeah, we were fighting the round of sickness... :-)

756 for $752 (THOUSAND)

The Bonds ball is outta here... The final selling price for the ball that propelled Bonds above Aaron (No. 756) was $752,467. And, get this, the guy that bought it has a web site where the "people" decide the fate of the historic baseball: Your choices are: Sell it to Cooperstown, Sell it to Cooperstown with an asterisk marked on it, or send it into space. Seriously. Space. That is what happens when someone has too much money and wants to top their own "I painted graffiti on Air Force One" hoax...

"Your momma's so dumb, she thinks a Light Saber has fewer calories..." - Darth Sidious to Luke on Adult Swim (Darth Vader kept score)

Why the quote? We've been watching goofy YouTube videos tonight. From laughing babies to babies that chew out a slip-n-slide to the "Cops" spoof called "Troopers." YouTube is full of time-wasting fun and dumb stuff... :-)

Shan got her Sprint bill today, and the morons at the Texarkana office had her account all screwed up. Her "new, lower bill" was more than $200! After more than an hour on the phone with a REAL Sprint rep, who pointed out all the mistakes the store had made. Now, I will go out on a limb here and say that I bet the in-store rep set things up as to get herself a pretty penny out of the deal. Well, no longer! After getting everything squared away, Shan's bill was just about $90! Thank goodness SOMEONE cares about the customer....

Since Emily's battery for her VW was ruined, I bought her a new one yesterday. It had to charge for 18 hours, so we left it charging until after supper tonight. We hooked it up and she rode like crazy all over the place. Since it is just a 6 volt rider, it only has one speed. While trying to see if there was a way to increase the speed, I came across a site that sells CD's with plans for souping up any Power Wheels vehicle. I'm talking about everything from adding power, a "real" working key to start it, working lights, rubber tires, and more... Some people buy these $200 ride-ons and then spend that much or more tricking them out... Who knew!?

I have been trying to figure out how to talk about a friend's situation without making that person's personal business public. All I can say is that my heart is with this person as life has just taken a very harsh turn. I can only offer my sympathy, as my children are not old enough yet to have to face a jail sentence. It seems crazy that rapists and thieves will get off free or serve less time than someone who made the mistake of not cleaning out a vehicle many moons after a bad habit. I can only pray and hope that time passes quickly for everyone affected....

Somehow, the fact that "Biggest Loser" premiered last week escaped us! AUGH! So, now we are two episodes behind. Guess we'll have to do some 'catch-up' this weekend.

Sep 17, 2007

Hasta La VISTA!

Let me begin by uttering the words, "I HATE VISTA!" As I am typing this, I am copying files from a Windows XP machine to an external hard drive, and then from that drive down to a Vista-based machine.

At the time of this writing (about 6:45pm), I was able to copy just over 10 GB of data in the time it took the Vista laptop (a Dell Inspiron 1721 with a gig of ram) to shut down and reboot to the desktop. Puh-Leeze. Add to that the fact that the external drive runs SLOWER hooked up to the smokin new laptop than to the old 512mb ram desktop! Yes, the laptop is smokin... Or would be, if it weren't for Vista.

On my TO DO list is the following:
  • Transfer Email Messages,
  • Transfer Email Addresses,
  • Copy Internet Favorites,
  • Copy My Documents,
  • and finally transfer iTunes music.

As of 6:45pm, the Favorites have been copied (though because of the new interface, I misjudged where to place the goofy things, so I had to re-copy them into the correct place!). Presently, I am watching the green progress bar inch its way across the "Copying 10,509 items" window.

And, yes, I am writing this chronologically, and speaking as if you were sitting on the phone and I was telling you this verbally, fully realizing that by the time you read this, I will (please, Lord) be finished with this project. Now, I should not complain too loudly. After all, I am able to type in my blog while getting paid to watch a progress bar on the screen. However, there are many other things I could be doing, ya know? And, the fact that I am working on a U.S. Legislator's computer ain't a bad deal, either! :-)

And, since I brought the subject up, I have been doing work for Mr. Ross for some time now. Mostly, when he owned a local pharmacy, and sometimes for his personal computers (like I am tonight). For a while, I did some computer and networking jobs for him during his campaign.

I suppose because I've known him since around 1991, and because he is almost the same age as I am, it took me a long time to think of him as anything other than Mike Ross, the guy I know... Which, he still is, but, over the years, his various state and national government positions have had an increasing effect on my respect for what he does and what he has to deal with.

Alas, I digress from the task before me... Vista tells me there are about 20 minutes still to go on my initial copying. I say "initial" because once everything is on the Vista machine, I still have to figure out where in the blankety-blank to move it so that Mike's wife (it's her laptop) can find it easily, and make sure that as many things work "like they used to" as possible! :-)

To give you an idea, it is now 7:05pm and we still have about 15 minutes of initial copying to go....

SIDENOTE: I left the metal bucket (that Emily and I used to wash her car) in the back of my truck. If you have never heard the sound of metal rolling around in a truck bed, let me tell you, it's not fun. The first time I noticed it, I had stopped at a traffic light. When the light turned green, I hit the gas, and heard the most awful noise come from the rear of my truck! I thought I had hit the pole or something! As I drove on (because SURELY I did not hit a pole..duh..), it dawned on me that the bucket was back there, sliding, rolling, and generally enjoying its new found adventure. I, on the other hand, was losing my nerve the more it went banging and crashing everywhere. Though, I'm glad I have a bed liner now, for sure! :-) Could I have pulled over and put the bucket INSIDE the truck? Of course, but why would I do that? That would mean STOPPING on my way to work... Man, in retrospect, maybe I should have... Well, did I get it out after I got to work? Of course not, I had already closed my locked doors and I did not feel like climbing into the bed to get the stupid bucket anyway...

Of course, I forgot about it until I was driving home again... And, if I were to go outside right now (and leave the laptop to its copying), I would still find the thing in the bed... But, really, when I get to the house, OUT IT COMES! I think. If I can remember it.... :-)

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled update)

While staring at the Vista screen, I have to admit that I HATE the new interface. On web sites, "breadcrumbs" telling you where you are and how yo got there are great. On a computer? No. I know how I got there, thanks. Now, I will admit that the mini-slide show that runs on the side of the desktop is kinda neat. A little too much eye candy for my liking, but still, I could get used to that, I'm sure.

I think my biggest gripe is that nothing is where M$ has been preaching it to us since Windows 95! (well, okay, somethings are still in the 'right' place). Yes, I know, I can invoke "classic mode," which I would if I had Vista, and which I did when I got XP), but even that is not a cure-all. At least the "start" button doesn't say "START" anymore... It never made sense to me that you had to START in order to END your computing for the day... :-)

Just under 5 minutes to go, now 7:20pm...tick-tock....tick-tock....

7:46pm - the laptop throws a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) my way in the middle of copying pictures from the temp folder I created to the Pictures folder in Vista. Any BSOD ain't good, and one in Vista is REALLY scary... From what I could make out, it looked like a drive problem, but I won't really know until (or if) Vista boots up again....

I realize the GUI has little to do with BSOD in most cases, but this is exactly why I prefer the old DOS command: XCOPY *.* c:\Users\Documents /e /c......

7:51pm - Laptop finally shows the welcome screen. and at 7:53, "Windows has recovered from an unexpected shutdown..." Yeah, tell me about it!

Well, at 8:03pm, the crazy computer tells me it has an hour and 30 minutes to go! How on earth does a FILE COPY from one place on a computer to another place on the SAME computer take nearly 2 hours!?!? Okay, yeah, there are 7.70GB of pictures (which is a TON!), but still... AUGH...

Ah, and the "Import" feature of Windows Mail did not like the folders from the XP Outlook Express, so I'll have to figure THAT one out... I did manage to get the Address Book imported though...

I also have the Word documents copied to the Documents folder, so those should be good to go now. Once pictures are done, I just have iTunes music and Emails... Of course, at the rate the pictures are going, it could be a while.......

8:13pm - Finally got Word to launch and moved the mouse around enough to figure out where the heck you go to OPEN a document in Word 2007... Seriously? A stupid round button for that, too?? Come on, you have GOT to be kidding....


10:15pm - I am home. I left at 9:45ish, my task FINALLY complete. Or, as complete as it can get to this point. Imported the iTunes music, got email imported, everything on the list was checked off. I did add one thing that will need looking into... Turns out the ATI video card was the cause of the BSODs (There were three before the night was over). I'll let Mike know, and he can call Dell to have them troubleshoot it (or shoot it...).

Sep 16, 2007

Everybody's workin for the... er, uh, ON the weekend...

Friday night seems so long ago now, yet it was just 2 long nights ago... I remember that night - a trip to Amigo Juan's for supper, then to Wal-Mart for our weekly shopping trip, followed by a spin through DQ for ice cream... Those were the good old days - mammoths were mammoths and possums were possums... Alas, 'twas not to remain such a blissful state of affairs for long....

There is nothing quite like sitting at the computer late at night, when suddenly my daughter appears. She is holding her mouth, her face scrunched up in pain. Before I can react, it happens... As it turned out, it had already happened in the bed with her mother. I think my reaction is what prompted Shan to come fully awake in an instant (which she did with the sudden realization that our daughter had started her sickness BEFORE she go to the computer room/office). I grabbed Emily up and scooted her to the bathroom. My brain had not fully kicked in, though, so I had her leaning over/into the bathtub instead of the toilet.

Though I know my Aunt relishes in details, I shall spare you those, and simply say that at 2:30 Saturday morning, Emily was finally asleep against me sitting on the couch. I had reached the point of being so sleepy I itched (not a good place for me to be), and I knew we had to lay down, no matter the consequences.

We spent much of Saturday nursing our sick child. Shan had to go to Texarkana in order to have her phone exchanged/replaced. The original plan was for all of us to go, but that was amended, to say the least... And, for all her trouble, Shan was not allowed to exchange her phone because she did not have her receipt - never mind that the stupid Sprint store could have printed one out for her, given that she bought the thing less than 30 days ago! She was ultimately told that she could use her insurance, pay $50 and have a new phone, or she could (for just $200) cancel her contract. I don't know what the ultimate outcome of all of this will be, but I can promise you that I will NEVER have a Sprint account as long as I live. Shan is going to call their customer service number and see what can be done on that front, but it would almost be worth the $200 (in my opinion - Shan will not agree, I'm sure... After all, it *IS* 200 bucks, and that's a lot to tell someone to "stick it") to cancel the plan, and be sure to let everyone in the world know how stupid the people working for Sprint really are....

I cleaned the house (or most of it...) and did most of the laundry (which, by my definition, means I washed and dried most of the clothes before Shan got home).

Shan did pick up a new net for the kids' trampoline while she was out, so on Saturday night, I went out and took the old one down. The net was so badly torn, it has separated itself into two complete rings of netting...

Then, Sunday came.

I started the day by weed whacking around our house. It's been a few weeks since I did that, so, we had something akin to a jungle in some parts of the grass next to the house (especially in back, close to the house between the shed and the air conditioner). I had decided that I would do our house first, then work on the new trampoline netting, and then weed-eat Mom's place after lunch. Oh, before I forget, Mom had come down Saturday evening, and ended up being sick Sunday.

After I got the new net out of the van, Tyler had come out to help. Tyler is very "hands-off" when it comes to work, especially outdoor work, so I knew he was anxious to get the new net up so he and his sister could jump around.

We laid out the posts, and Tyler helped me put them together, and then he helped me attached one of the "arches" to the trampoline itself. Before long, Shan and Emily had come out and it was a family affair. Once the arches were up, we moved on to the netting. Now, I don't know if the company just put the wrong number of ropes in the box or what, but before we had finally assembled everything, we realized we were short a section of rope. Not because it was missing from the box, but because we think our trampoline is a different brand than the netting, so the netting maker had figured enough rope for THEIR trampolines - though the box does say for ALL 14-foot trampolines... At any rate, during the course of putting the thing together, Shan made the comment that I was getting sunburned. I was not grasping the level of sunburn she was talking about, so I said, "ok" or something just as stupid, and went about my business. Oh, before I forget, Shan's Mom had come out to tell us that lunch was ready, and she managed to sucked into helping us... It took longer than we thought it would, but we finally got the netting up and went to eat lunch.

After lunch, I grabbed the weed eater and started on Mom's jungle. I honestly can't even remember how long it had been since I did her house. I'm sure I have mentioned this before, but I have a rechargeable cordless weed eater. As heave as a gas trimmer, but without the fumes and without the cost of gas. Battery lasts about an hour or so, depending on the degree of "jungleness." I tell you this because the battery died after I had gotten about 3/4 of Mom's house done. So, I had to put it back on the charger before I could finish the job.

While the battery was charging, at some point, Emily wanted to wash her battery-operated Barbie ride-in VW Beetle. So, we loaded it up in the truck and took it Mom's so we could use her water hose. She has the head on it that lets you select various spray patterns, one of which is "Holy cow, I think you took my skin off" Jet. We used that one to give the car a good soaking.

I should stop here a moment to help you realize that I have yet to do anything about the sun's affect on my skin. Thus, I was becoming an ever-increasing example of a red neck (and arms, legs, and HEAD!).

Emily and I each had a rag and began scrubbing. The car sits outside all the time. There are no words to describe the amount of dirt and muck and who knows what else, living on this car. Part of the way through, we see wasps running for cover. I decided to remove the seat, and sure enough, we have a huge wasp nest under there! Did you know that wasps nests and spider webs can withstand some serious head-on water streams? It is quite amazing, really.

After a bit, the wasp nest was cleared (and its occupants unceremoniously stomped into the ground) along with several spider webs and their inhabitants. And after an even longer bit, the car itself was now something akin to "marbleized." We couldn't get all the dirt off, but we did the best we could. And, to boot, the thing actually still ran. Well, sort of. The battery, after sustaining 100+ degree heat, was in bad shape (as if it had caved in on itself, really). I will buy a new one at Wally World, assuming I can get the right one.

At some point, and I have no idea what time it was, I grabbed the trimmer and finished the job at Mom's place. Once done with that, I used up the rest of the battery whacking weeds (and unwanted grass) from under the camper trailer.

I am burned to the point it is very obvious that I spent the day outside in the sun without doing anything to protect myself. Basically, I have the, "Yes, I did not use sunblock, I'm an idiot" markings on my head, arms, neck, and backs of my legs... I would do the "coulda had a V8" smack to my forehead, but really, the pain would be too great...

My arms are like jelly, and helping Shan sort/put away clothes tonight felt like every article of clothing weighed 90 pounds... I'll probably end up with carpal tunnel simply based on the fact that I am too wiped out to life my arms and hands to the proper positions... Wait, I don't do that anyhow... :-)

After all was said and done, Shan's sister and her husband bought their first NEW vehicle today! They bought a maroon Jeep Patriot. It is a mid-sized SUV, and it looks very nice! They got the 4WD Trail-Rated edition.

(This is not theirs, but theirs looks like it!)

After talking to my Brother-in-Law a few days ago, I decided to install Far Cry on my computer. I haven't played the game for a long time, and I had not even tried it on my new dual-core, sli-based computer. I just have two words: HOLY SMOKES!! This game rocks on my new box! Being able to ramp the graphics up to max puts a whole new spin on things! Excellent game! :-)

OJ got arrested for his trouble (trying to "reclaim" some "stolen" memorabilia... I am not surprised....

As usual, I had more to say, but the brain wandered (so much so, in fact that I had originally typed "barin" there). Thus, I bid you all a good night...

Sep 14, 2007

It's Friday night, I just got paid...

Yes, reliving the days of my R&B background there... Recognize the song? I should submit it for "Don't Forget the Lyrics" or whatever that show is called...

I did want to say that I do not believe my son will get the stuffing knocked out of him. See, one of the ADVANTAGES to living in a small town is that everybody knows everybody and every parent just about knows every other parent. I know kids get into scuffles and such, but if my kid starts any crap, or someone else's kid starts crap, then everybody knows, and several people will stand behind each of the parties involved.

I should also clarify that I did not receive "daily thrashings" or anything. And, when all is said and done, there were only two kids that I really had any trouble with. I would love to know what they are doing now, anyway... Probably sitting in a bar somewhere reliving the 'glory days' of their youths...

Anyway, word of anyone beating up anyone else usually died within the group of folks that happen to be there at the time. The only time it went more "global" was when the fight happened at school itself, or if it was two similarly matched bullies/ boneheads/ "heads"/ jocks/ etc... (A "head" is what we called the kids that smoked dope). In late Junior High, I began carrying my boom box to school (you could actually do that in those days), and I would listen to whatever the thugs were into - Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Ozzy (with or without Sabbath), Skynyrd, etc... This did not make me an "accepted member of the gang," but at the same time, it seemed to have warded off further threats on my well-being. Always a plus in my book... :-)

The only time I remember word spreading about anything to do with me was when, on one late-spring day, a Senior High kid decided it was time to make "a man" out of me (I was in 7th grade). He was walking in front of me... A quick 180-degree turn, and an even quicker use of his leg muscles, and I suffered what is best known as a "sudden traumatic negative event in the groin region." I'm not sure where this 'rite of passage' originates, but it seems to be followed by employment at a retail fast food chain (as determined by my informal inquiry into the subject).

Why it is that I should suddenly feel compelled to parlay this information in your direction, I have no idea. But, if there is a reason for everything, I hope you get out of it whatever it is you need... Just be sure to wear a cup when you go out...

I read that OJ Simpson is in trouble for stealing a bunch of OJ memorabilia from a casino suite where supposedly the 'owners' of the stuff had previously stolen from him. Being that this *IS* an OJ story, I have a feeling who will end up the guilty party...

Speaking of party, at work, we switched our 'main' web site over to a publicly accessible address (, which in turn fixed some of the other problems we were having - not all, but some! And SOME is a whole lot better than having those issues to begin with! :-)