Dec 27, 2008

It's like Guitar Hero.....for the feet

Those were the words uttered by my son as we looked over the Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2. Tyler got Guitar Hero 3 and has been doing amazingly well with it so far!

This is not my 'official' post-Christmas post, but rather, I needed to post something that will help users of any of the "Stylin Studio" or "Stylin Salon" gadgets:

If everything seems to work, but all you get is a white screen or a black screen after you take a photo, check your desktop color depth settings. Desktop color settings should be set for 32-bit. I was ready to throw the thing out the window until something in my brain told me to check the color settings.

Hope this helps someone out there!

Dec 24, 2008

Gingerbread House 2.0 and random pics

Last year, we 'built' our first gingerbread house. This year, we tried it again. We had a lot of fun putting it together, especially Emily! She also grabbed the camera and took a lot of her own pictures:

Gone to Garvan Woodland Gardens

The other day, we took a trip in the 25-ish degree weather to see some of the most beautiful Christmas lights displays I've ever seen. They were at the Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Ark. The first few pics are ones of the sunset on the way up there. Shan took great shots of the setting sun!

Dec 21, 2008

Christmas and a new 'King of Pop?'

I'm starting with the whole "new 'King of Pop'" thing. Have you ever heard of Ne-Yo (pronounced "Knee-Oh")? Yeah, me either. Here's the thing: In the last two days, I've heard a couple references that he is the 'new' king of pop. That is the funniest thing have heard coming out of the music industry since Leona Lewis was being hailed as bigger/better than Whitney Houston. Look, Ne-Yo's stuff is okay, and though he seems to be able to kick some moves, he is certainly no Michael Jackson nor has he been churning out anywhere near 40 YEARS of music. I didn't say it was good music. Mijac has put out some poor song choices for sure, but someone would have to have megahit after chart-topper for DECADES before anyone could call them the king of pop, or king of anything for that matter.

So, what's my beef with Leona Lewis? I don't really have one other than the ridiculous marketing strategy they used to launch her US appearance. Ooooo, Simon Cowell "discovered" her. Oooo, he is putting all his eggs in her basket.... Yeah, you are aware that he produced Teletubbies Christmas albums, right? Yeah, I thought so. Look, she's a good singer. So far, she's managed two hits. She has a long way to go before she comes close to Whitney or a myriad of other pop-star divas.

I suppose my real issue is with the hype behind would-be wanna-be's. In my experience, the more something is hyped, the worse it actually is after the hype dies off. If something is really good, it doesn't need a 'marketing strategy' behind it...

Does your Wal-Mart say "Holiday Center" or "Christmas Shop" above the entrance to the Christmas trees, Christmas lights, Christmas cards, inflatables, etc? Ours says "Christmas Shop" or maybe it's Shoppe, either way, it says CHRISTMAS. And, it's about time. I know there is Hanukkah and whatever the heck Kwanzaa is, among a plethora of other Christmastime-related holidays, but the truth is, December 25th is Christmas. For a long time, retailers have caved in to the people who want to give 'rights' to everyone on earth EXCEPT Christians (and/or those who believe in Christmas as a holiday). I realize that the main reason Wal-Mart is even showing the word "Christmas" is because people threatened their own boycott of the retailer if they didn't start using the word again. Unfortunately, in today's world, too many companies are worried too much about what people think of their "image."

Last time I checked, this is America. If I want to believe something, I have the freedom to express it. If you don't believe in the same thing that I am professing, then you have the right to NOT LOOK at it, or you can ignore it, or you can feel free to express your own opinion. I hope that one day, I have my own company or am in charge of one that I get to steer the 'public view' regarding. Believe me, it'll wish people "Merry Christmas."

And, well, since I've opened the can of worms, let's get to it. Why is it okay to have "Miss Black America" or "Miss Latino America" or the "Black History Month" or "Latin American Music Awards" but it is racist to have the "Miss Caucasian American" or "White History Month." I am not racist, and that is my point. If we are 'striving' to be a color-blind society, then why is it that color and race are used in ways that keep the issue in the forefront of people's minds?

If people want equality in this country, then it's time to throw out the tired, old cards. There is no 'black' history or 'Hispanic' history or 'native American history' in this country. There is "American History" only. I know the history books of the past were written by white guys with a chip on their shoulders. But, like everything else in the past, we should learn from the mistakes and move on. As long as there are shows and 'contests' and groups that are racially-specific, there will always be inequality and division in this country.

The main issue will rear its ugly head when America is no longer "THE" superpower in the world. When China (or whoever) takes over that role, none of the racial issues we wrestle with today will moot because we will have a whole new set of reasons to be united as one group called "Americans."

There has been a lot of talk that Obama is the "Antichrist." That's funny. I've made my own jokes and references to the idea, but in all reality, I find it flat-out hilarious that Americans are so conceited that we would think the a/c would HAVE to come from America. Well, of course he's going to be American, right? I mean, we are the end-all, be-all to the rest of the world, are we not? Come on, we all know that if there is going to be a mighty man that will bring with him the destruction of the world as we know it, he would HAVE to come from the United States of America. I mean, look, I know the whole Christian origin comes from Israel, but really, that's not where the a/c would come from. That's too 'obvious.' And, he couldn't be African or Chinese or French. That's just plain silly. And perish the thought that the guy would come from Canada or Russia. And what about Iraq or Afghanistan? No way. If there is going to be a destroyer of the human race, he has got to be American... I'm just curious, do those people (the ones who see Obama or any other American as the a/c) actually ever LISTEN to themselves talk? I'm guessing not.

I wasn't going to say anything, but I just have to throw this out there: Yesterday, my father-in-law (a die-hard Chevy man) came over to ask if I would tow his Silverado (with 80,000 miles) up town to the repair shop. So, I hooked up my Dodge HEMI (with 90,000 miles) up to his truck and towed him the eight or nine miles to the repair shop. He said he hoped no one saw me towing his Chevy with my Dodge. :-) We had quite a few laughs over it. My father-in-law is a 'good ol country boy' who spends much more time watching and listening than talking, but he has a great sense of humor when he does speak.

Dec 14, 2008

Getting "Smart"

While in Phoenix, my boss had limited access to her email. As a result, she, John, and I took a jaunt down to texarkana to upgrade our phone plans to SmartPhones. In the days leading up to this trek, I had done some research to see which kind of phone I would recommend. When it came down it, two things stuck out in my mind: touch screen with nice, easy to use interface and sliding keyboard. Why? Because I spent the week in Phoenix with Tim and watching him use his iPhone let me see just how easy it was to operate the touch interface. The problem is that alltel does not have a phone that provides a touchscreen keyboard that operates nicely. The way the work, is that the 'keyboard' takes up part of the screen, and you cannot see what you are typing behind the screen (according to what I read about the various phones). so, we went with the HTC Touch Pro (which can also be known as the HTC Diamond Touch Pro, or something like that).

I love it. Not only does it give me access to my email whenever I want it, but it is also easy to use.... Well, I should say, it's easy to figure out most of what I need to use.

I ran into one major issue, which turned out to be an ActiveSync issue, which is a Microsoft problem that they like to push blame onto the user. When I hooked my phone up to my PC for charging, it started syncing with my corporate exchange contacts list. By default, the setting was set to delete the PC contents and replace them with the phone info. Yeah, read that again. It means that email address I've built up over the last few years working at the co-op were gone in a puff of smoke.

Luckily, I searched the net and found many people running into this. Most of those folks were out of luck, though, because once your empty your deleted items, everything is gone. Well, at our place, we have things set up to retain deleted items. So, even if we empty our trash, we have a safety net. Well, I simply VPNd into our network, connected to the server's desktop, which in turn let me connect to my personal desktop, and then I pulled those deleted contacts back from the boneyard. And, it actually worked to my favor because when I restored all my contacts, Outlook asked if I wanted to MERGE the deleted contacts with the ones transferred from my phone! This means the system automatically connected the email addresses with the phone numbers based on the names. Excellent!

Shan and I saw "Four Christmases" over the weekend. If you're up for a holiday-related romantic comedy, I suggest you go see this movie. I am not a Vince Vaughn fan, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the movie. The opening scene was great. I didn't even know Robert Duvall was in the movie until he showed up on screen later, and Tim Mcgraw's character makes you see him in a whole different light. Reese Witherspoon is dwarfed by Vaughn, but rather than try to hide it with platforms, the movie does a good job of incorporating it into the story.

And, just when you think you've got the ending figured out, there is a nice twist.

I will eventually try blogging with my new HTC, so we'll see how that goes... :-) In the meantime, have a good night.

Oh, wait, I cannot possibly end this without saying that Shan and I spent all day Saturday shopping. We got quite a few things knocked off the list, and I was dead by the time we decided to see the movie, but the best part by far was watching Shan try on new outfits. As I've said, she has lost a lot of weight, but she also has been getting toned during her workouts, and it's great to see her face light up when she tries on things that she's not sure will fit right or will look good, even though I tell her otherwise. When she comes out to show me how it looks, it's the beaming smile on her face that I love the most about the trip. That makes all 10 hours of shopping worth it. :-)

Dec 11, 2008

Facing realities

This post was going to about the realities of dealing with the Postal Service in my recent eBay venture. And, I will get to that in a moment or two. But, first, last night, I had to face the reality that Daisy was dying. A few days ago, we spotted her lying on the ground and it took a concerted effort, coaxing and feed to get her back up again. She seemed fine, and we thought she was doing well. She was an old horse, and we knew this day was coming. In fact, the reason Emily was given the horse was because of its age. Daisy was given to us to have a nice home to finish out the rest of her life. Last night (Wednesday night), I went to feed her and saw her lying down again. I went out into the pasture and she barely moved, and certainly never opened her mouth to take food.

I got Shan's Mom and we hunted down several warm blankets. I took them to Daisy and covered her up. She watched as I placed each on on her, trying to give her some warmth in these colder nights. She whinnied a couple times, softly. I stroked her and told her what a good girl she was and how happy she had Emily and the rest of us while she was here. She laid her head back down and her breathing was labored and shallow. I was hoping she would get up during the night, or maybe this morning.

But, when I went to check on her this morning, she had turned over, the blankets under her instead of on top. She never moved. Her eyes were open. I felt her ribs, just to be sure this really was happening, and what was happening had already happened.

We did not tell the kids until after school. Emily had been told this day would come, and I think the reality of it will set in as she looks to see Daisy in her place in the pasture, but doesn't find her. Tyler was understanding of it. He was never a horse person, but he knows how attached we all had become to her.

Sometime this morning, Shan's Dad got the tractor and made a place for her to rest in peace. Daisy was the best horse I have seen. She loved to have Emily ride her, and she liked to buck the rest of us just enough to test our skills. She will be dearly missed, especially by a little girl who got her wish to have a horse.

And, now, I switch gears to the Post Office. Well, I'll give you a moment if you want one to collect yourself after the news of Daisy. I needed one myself before I continued my writing, so I know how that goes...

I sold a bunch of things on eBay recently. Toys, collectibles, and such. I thought I had packed them well enough for the Post Office to get them into the hands of the new owners without incident. I was fatefully wrong. In just two days, I heard back from two different people who let me know that things had been broken. They also said they thought the items would be packed better. Obviously the packing part was my shortcoming. Apparently, I thought the delivery system actually gave a rip about what they delivered, but I was proven to be so far off base on that one that I will most likely quit selling opened items that have to be shipped. Glassware was broken, a coaster set that I thought to be basically unbreakable was shattered, as is my reputation on the global marketplace.

Of course, my reaction was to offer refunds, or partial refunds as warranted. But, this seems so shallow of an offer. many of these items were in great shape when they left here, and I thought I had done a good job of packing. Obviously, packing items for shipping is not a strong suit of mine. These people were looking for Christmas gifts and instead they get broken items the Post Office chucked around and evidently a piss-poor packing job by the seller (me).

For the next week, I will be cringing every time I open my eBay mail, anticipating the angry responses to things gone horribly wrong.

I sincerely doubt any of those folks read this, but if you are out there and you receive your items damaged, you have my deepest apologies. First and foremost for my own lack of packing skills, but also for the sorry way the US Postal Service handles the items it is charged with delivering.

Dec 10, 2008

Galavanting around and losing my......

I spent the last two days in Little Rock (and North Little Rock) participating in the TIE project that my education service center created. You can more info about it here: TIE Project. We learned about technology integration, project-based learning, how to use the Wii in the classroom, tying GPS units into social studies, blogging in education, and other things I can't even remember right now!

We had a GREAT time. Well, I suppose it is out of place to speak for everyone there, so I will say *I* had a great time! Lots of fun and fellowship. Oh, and did I mention? Each education service center in the state gets a WII!?! Yeap, that's right. We are charged with buying 3-4 additional ones to be used during summer inservice sessions where we teach teachers how to use the WII in literacy, phys ed, social studies, science, and more. Friggin Awesome!

Have you ever lost something only to realize you never lost it in the first place? Allow me to elaborate: After I got back from Phoenix, I realized I couldn't find my ATM card nor a couple of blank checks. NOT good. I had taken the blank checks with me to Phoenix because I was afraid that if I left them in the truck while I was gone, someone would break into the truck at the airport and get them. You know, I thought I would keep the checks SAFE. And then I lost them. I got home today and frantically started searching. Well, I found the checks. Whew! No ATM card, and I realized that I could not find a gift that I got for Shan while in Phoenix! Well, crap.

Again, frantically, I went through everything I brought back from the trip. No ATM, no gift. OY! Taking a breath, I got my wallet and started to empty EVERYTHING out of it. Wait, let me back up a sec. Last night, while in my hotel room, I thought I might have put the ATM card and the checks in my laptop bag, so I had emptied EVERYTHING out of the laptop bag but found nothing. On the bright side, my laptop bag is now cleaned out. I digress...

I grab the wallet and begin taking out card by card. And there it is. The ATM card. I had put it in my wallet backwards (why, I have no idea), so it looked like my health insurance card. Yeah, I'm kinda airheaded that way sometimes. Okay, found ATM, got the checks. But where was the blankety-blank gift!? Again, I tore through everything I had brought back. I cam very close to asking Shan if she had seen the item, when I realized that when I had unpacked after the trip, I put the gift in the box I used to hide all her gifts. DUH! Seriously, is my blond showing?

On the last day in Phoenix, my camera gave to me...

These are the pictures from my last day in Phoenix. I forgot that I hadn't posted them here yet...

Dec 9, 2008

Stop the Rock, can't stop the Rock...

Hard to believe, but after a trip to Phoenix last week, I am in Little Rock tonight for another training. This is not a conference, but rather a training being offered to all the state technology coordinators and distance learning coordinators. We are such a varied group as far as our backgrounds go, that a 'melding of the minds' was deemed to be in order. So far, it's been great for me. I have a techie background, so I am learning how to become a better trainer by learning just HOW teachers can integrate all this technology into their lessons.

As was pointed out today, the best thing to happen is to take something teachers are already doing, and then give them new/cool tools/ways to help them do it 'better.' Better, by my own definition, means they get the students to use it in ways that enhance their learning and keep them engaged in the activity.

For the record, despite my better judgement (well, okay it was POURING down rain this morning), I did not bring a camera.

I am about to head out to supper because it's being paid for! My Dad always said, "Never pass up free stuff. Especially if it's food!" Amen!

Dec 8, 2008

Goodbye, Boston Legal

There are very few shows that we have watched over the years that were of the "cannot miss this" variety. Most recently, "Boston Legal" was near the very top of that list, outlasting "Grey's Anatomy", "ER" and a slew of other shows that have come and gone.

To me, the very best part of the show was its never-failing ability to remind its audience that it was a TV show. In production terms, it's called "breaking the fourth wall." In English, it means the audience is never 'supposed' to be aware that they are, in fact, the audience. In most shows, the audience is drawn into the scenes being played out. We are looking in, as if we are some voyeur peeking in on something we might not otherwise see.

"Boston Legal" threw that in the trash can. Even in the series finale, the 'fourth wall' is referenced directly. Brilliant!

Of course, the real reason most people watch shows for any extended period of time is that we develop a fondness for (or strong dislike of) the characters we see each week. Denny Crane, the strong, goofy character that started the show was withered away to a babbling, absent-minded person who, in many episodes, was just short of a buffoon. But, he kept just enough endearing qualities that we end up hoping he DOES get the medicine, that it DOES save his life. Alan Shore came in as something of a punk womanizer, and grew into this cocky, long-winded lawyer that loved his best friend dearly (albeit, a bit too much for my liking). I think I always wanted Alan to end up finding and marrying the girl of his dreams, but then that's not really how "Boston Legal" was set up, was it? Life is not always "Happy Endings" or at least not the endings you ever expect, for sure.

Like the finale of "Seinfeld," I think the ending of "Boston Legal" was one of the worst episodes I've seen. I think it would have been much better to let Shirley and Carl get married, let Denny have the first dance. The bit where everyone goes to kiss the bride was hysterical! There was no reason to have Denny and Alan get married. Of course, these just one guy's opinions, and that is the beauty of this country - we get to say what we want.

It would be great if there were a "Boston Legal" movie or if they managed to pull a spin-off, but the truth is, the networks are just like what was said in the final episode - cater to the young, ignore the old. Those execs had better pay attention to who is minding the store in this country. Young is hip and cool, but mature and wealth belong to the folks who were actually enjoying their beloved characters on "Boston Legal."

So, sitting in my own chair on the balcony, brandishing a cigar and brandy, I bid farewell to Denny, Alan, Shirley, the rest of the wonderful characters that made "Boston Legal" a show I couldn't wait to watch.


Okay, I don't know what astrological alignment is happening around here, but I have been getting all kinds of flack for my recent pictures. No, that's not quite right. It's not the pictures, it's the fact that I was TAKING them while "supposed" to be at a conference for work. I know my Aunt thinks this is directed at her, but really, she was about the third person to mention it, and I've had several others since her comment!

On Tuesday, or maybe it was Wednesday I don't even remember now, the pre-conference ended around 2:30 or 3pm. So, we grabbed the camera and headed into the mountains, about 30 minutes or so from the resort. As I am sure you have figured out by now, I take a LOT of pictures. It's something I have grown into. During our vacation to Disney this summer, Shan took about 500 pictures total. I was ripping off about 500 a day. I love taking pictures and I love playing with set-ups, layouts, lighting, etc. Basically, I carry a camera around and I might as well scream "TOURIST!"

On Thursday, we had a set breakfast with other Education Service Center folks, then we listened to the keynote speech from Dr. Ruby Payne. After that, we actually poked our heads into a breakout session, but decided that our main focus was to attend the pre-conference (that IS why we were asked to go). So, we bailed a bit and headed to Sadona. It took about 90 minutes to get there, ripped off a bunch of photos for about 30-40 minutes, then headed back into town for supper with my boss (who was fully aware that we had gone to Sadona and was the one who suggested we take in the red rocks, thank you).

I haven't posted Friday's pics yet, but before the flight home, I ripped off a bunch of pics around the hotel itself.

Why am I not going on and on about the pre-conference? It was technology and education. I'll be more than happy to share that with my readers, if it is something y'all would like to read, but I kinda thought you'd enjoy pictures more... :-)

So, yeah, I took a TON of pictures, *AND* I attended the pre-conference. It's amazing what one can pack into a full few days if one takes a chance, eh! Oh, and the rental car I got had a "pre-purchase your gas" option so I could return the car on empty without penalty. So, they got it with the needle hovering... My momma didn't raise no fool!

Dec 6, 2008

Photos from Thursday

Here are a bunch of photos from Thursday. I started off with the sunrise from the hotel terrace and then it ends with photos from Sedona:

Will be posting more pics soon!

Whew! I made it back from sunny, warm Phoenix on Friday! I was welcomed by 28-degree weather in Little Rock. Holy smokes!

I posted the first night I got to Phoenix, and I have to say the adventures did not stop on that first night. The resort hotel where we stayed was huge (at least for someone who does not regularly stay in such places). In fact, at one point, Tim and I got LOST trying to find our room. Now, in our defense, it was not really our fault we got lost.

See, the 3rd floor is not one that traverses the entire length of the hotel. Instead, it is abruptly interrupted by the foyer's tall columns. The fourth floor and higher all have a walkway that overlooks the grand entry. The third floor, however, has no such thing due to the way the lobby is set up. Well, let's just say it took Tim and I a while to figure this out. From the lobby (which is Floor 2), it appears the next floor up is the third, but it's an optical illusion. What you actually SEE is the fourth floor! How did we figure this out? Did we ask someone? Nope. We rode the elevator, getting off at the third then fourth floors and walking around until we figured out the floor plan. Sure, we could have just looked at the map they gave us when we checked in, but where's the fun in that!? :-)

On the flight from Phoenix to Houston, I spent the time watching a couple of TV shows. No games or crashing servers THIS time! I watched a show called "Big Bang Theory" about these nerds who live next to a very attractive woman and how they interact (or not) with the rest of the world. It is a riot! I'll have to record that to watch it in the future.

I also watched the CSI: Miami episode where David Caruso's character gets shot. I don't watch the show much, so I have no idea which episode that was. I'll look it up on imdb later. But, man it was a great show, too.

I've got more pictures to post from Thursday and Friday, so I'll get to those as soon as I can.

Though Phoenix had amazing weather (and I've got more stories to share later), it is GREAT to be home again! :-)

I will leave you with a picture of the book I got for Shan to read to to her class:

Dec 2, 2008

Pictures from North Phoenix

I've taken some pictures, though not as many as I would like. I am hoping that on Wednesday, I'll be able to take some more because I will have more daylight to burn after the pre-conference is over.

These were taken at dusk/sunset, and my camera is sucking at taking low-light pictures, so some of these came out blurry. But, they are pretty, for sure...

Dec 1, 2008

Made it to Phoenix

The day started off normal enough. I woke up, took a shower, and got ready for my trip to Phoenix. When the time came, I hopped in the truck and realized I needed gas. After a quick pit stop, headed for Little Rock. Unfortunately, I seemed to forget that this trip was taking place on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

It took me a bit longer than I had planned to get to the airport. People were driving like they had never set their butts behind the wheel of a car. One guy would pass a car, swerve back over into the slow lane right behind another car, pass that car, then repeat. If he hadn't been going about 85, I would have called the police with his plate number...

when i get to the airport, I use the 'easy check-in' kiosk. I print the tickets and they come up with Tim's name. Tim is the guy I am attending the conference with. My name is nowhere to be found. Luckily for me, Tim was already in line and the desk guy got everything worked out.

I get through the x-ray machine and Tim gets stopped. Why? ooops, he forgot to remove his laptop from the bag. That landed him in the hands of TSA. Once that was taken care of, we got to the gate and waited a few minutes to board.

The flight to Houston was a little tight since we were on a small plane, but it wasn't a bad flight.

We land in Houston with more than an hour before the next flight. We deboard, and head for the monorail. WRONG! the monorail is having problems. we have to go to the shuttle service at the other end of the concourse in order to grab a bus to the other concourse. There is a guy on a cart offering a ride, so wee hop on. I am pretty sure he takes the scenic trip around the block. When we get to the shuttle service, the entire area is packed full of people who are trying to catch a shuttle since the mono is out. It is so bad that the shuttles leave before anyone can get on because the people getting OFF take too long to get through the crowd. Hasn't the airport heard of crowd control!?

As we are waiting, an announcement comes on that says the mono is running again. Tim and I debate waiting versus going back based on how long it took to get there by cart. we opt to head for the mono. It takes about a THIRD of the time to get back! when we get to the mono, there is an open train there! As we head for it, an automated voice says, "This car is going out of service." Of course it is.

We finally catch a mono and head for the concourse. We've got about 20 minutes or so before our departure at this point. we figure we can ask the desk when they will board our flight and go grab a quick bite to eat. When we approach the desk, the girl says, "Oh, we're boarding now." So, we are whisked away and put on the plane as one of the last people to board, believe it or not.

The plane is much bigger this time, and has touchscreens in the headrests of the seats in front of us. We decided to poke around and we can play multiplayer games! So, we fire up Battleship. Tim is the first to catch on that we are sitting NEXT to each other... Playing battleship... We can SEE each other's board... He wins. Next, I teach him how to play Reversi. He never played before. He's a quick study. Really. Kicks my butt by more than 35 points. Yeesh. Next, we try Texas Hold'em. He's not sure how to play poker, so i teach him. He starts kicking my butt. At one point, two other passengers join the game, but before they can play a hand, we crash the server. Yes, we crashed the entertainment server on a plane. leave it to me.... Well, the flight attendant dons her tech hat and she reboots. We are such nerds that Tim and I are enthralled at the fact that the system is Linux-based.

The rest of the trip, we played games against the computer rather than risk crashing things again. The really cool thing about the in-plane system is that it does live gps tracking of the plane while you are in it!! Awesome!

The plane lands in Phoenix and we head for baggage claim. While we wait for Tim's bag, someone kicks the emergency stop on the carousel. We have to wait for about 5 minutes for the system to reset. everything is going well... And, then... a babyseat comes up the conveyor and a loose belt catches on the conveyor. The belt gets wedged such that the workers have to stop the carousel again. They eventually have to use a crowbar to pry the protective covering up enough that they can get the belt loose. The conveyor starts up again. The guy who owns the babyseat is pissed off that his seat was damaged in the process. Not much, but enough that one latch was messed up. His seat causes EVERYONE to be late and HE is the one that gets mad? i don't think so.

Naturally, Tim's bag is the last one off the belt.

The rest of the day, we grabbed a car at Avis and headed to the hotel. Once checked in, we drove around and found a place to eat.

When i left Arkansas, it was about 40 degrees or so. In Phoenix, it was about 72 when we landed and around 65 or so while we ate. :-)

Nov 29, 2008

What I learned in the past few days

First of all, some people are stupid. No, I did not just learn that, but simply had it confirmed during the weekend. A temp worker at a Long Island Wal-Mart was trampled to death because he was TRYING to open the door to let stupid people -er, shoppers into the store. (story here) Seriously? Saving $20 on an iPod Shuffle was worth KILLING someone over? Then, the cops had to be called in because the shoppers refused to leave after they were informed they had KILLED A MAN! Every single one of the people that trampled that mans should face manslaughter charges. Period. I don't what reason they give. If you trample someone to death, you deserve to face the music. I understand the authorities are reviewing the tapes trying to figure out who was involved. I hope every single one of them is brought in. Frankly, I think they all ought to be put in a room and trample each other until one is left standing. That person can then be put in prison for life without parole, subject to weekly tramplings by the other inmates. But, that's just me.

I learned that getting Christmas decorations out during a rain storm (even if it was a light one) is really not the best idea in the world.

I learned that vinyl tablecloths make great padding and a nice barrier between wet storage boxes and laminated flooring.

I learned that farm animals are not too happy when someone shakes said tablecloths out the door late at night and begins to shake them vigorously. Man, does THAT make a lot of noise, which consequently seems to really tick off horses and cows, possibly the rabbits as well.

I learned that no one seems to sell inexpensive, non-foil Christmas stickers anymore. Foil? Yes. Cheap? No. Magic Motion? Yes. Cheap? No. Look, I just wanted some Santas and snowmen, okay? Just sayin.

I learned that a lot of other people went through a lot of the same things I did as a kid, and those people are now on Sirius satellite making a killing telling their stories.

I learned that I knew a lot more people in High School than I ever realized, judging by the things people wrote in my yearbook. Oh, before that, I learned that I had put my yearbook in a box that had been sitting in the closet for years.

I learned that "layered" does not always mean the same thing, depending on who is cooking one's Texas Cheese Fries at Roadhouse. Look, if you work at Roadhouse, please tell the cooks that layered means: fries, cheese, bacon, fries, cheese, bacon, fries, cheese, bacon. Really, it's not that hard.

I learned that having a 13-year old and a 6-year old spoiled me. We babysat our 18-month old niece this past week. She was an absolute riot and is a great baby. But, she is quite handful that was far too busy playing to take a nap and she wore us clean out. God gives babies to young people for a reason. Seriously, if you're 40 or close to it, think long and hard before adding a little one to your household. In fact, borrow one or two for a weekend as a test drive. Really.

I learned Emily can do some seriously amazing gymnastics and is far more flexible than any six-year old should be. On top of that, she likes to jump on the bed, do a split, land in the split position and yell out "Boo-Yeah!" That is just.... ouch...

I learned Tyler is about a whisker shorter than I am. He is growing so fast, he is going to be taller than 6-foot when it's all said and done, I'm sure...

I learned shopping doesn't matter as long as you enjoy the company you're with. Shan and I spent the whole day Saturday going from store to store and only once was I about to drop over. And, that was from the place being toooooo hot. Look, it's FIFTY DEGREES out people, you do not need the heat on in a store (or mall)!

I learned that the older I get, the smaller and lower to the ground a Corvette is...

I know I learned a lot more, but it's 10:30pm, and I'm wiped out...

Nov 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is officially Thanksgiving here in Central Time, USA. I wanted to take just a sec to let you know how much I appreciate you coming by to see what on earth is going to pop out of my head and onto these 'pages.'

A lot of times, those things really only make sense to me, but you come by here anyway, and some leave comments, and I am very thankful for that.

I am also thankful for my family, who have endured many things over the years and yet still loved me enough to keep me a part of their lives. I wouldn't be writing on here at all if it wasn't for my wife. Shan sees things in me that I will probably never see, and I am extremely grateful for that, and for her. I thank God for my children, who have contributed to my 'pattern baldness' I'm sure, but without whom I would be lost. I have two of the greatest kids in the world, bar none.

I am thankful for my Mother and brother and extended family. It took me a long time to understand the power of living so close to one's family, including in-laws. I have one of those non-typical relationships with my in-laws - no fighting or bickering. We all get along, even when I've got CRS... That's Cranial-Rectum Syndrome for those not familiar with the acronym.

As my family will tell you, I am not a sentimental guy. Every once in a while, I get bit by the bug, but for the most part, what's here today is gone tomorrow, and what has come and gone did so for a reason and that reason has been fulfilled. It's not always an easy trait to have to live with (or maybe a better phrase here would be 'live with'), but I am thankful that my loved ones do just that.

I am thankful for the people I know and the people I have known. That includes you reading this right now. I know some of you read because you want to see if I'll tell on something Shan has done, or the kids have done, but you may not be reading because you know who I am from Adam. I appreciate that you think of them enough to stop by and check in. I know some of you come by because we do know each other, have known each other for years, and you want to see what bone-headed thing I've done or what strangely connected thoughts might be running through my head. Thanks for reading along!

Some folks read here because I have this blog connected to other blogs I write (or contribute to), and I want to thank you for taking the chance on wandering off the path, coming here to see another side of who I am.

In a broader sense, I want to thank ALL of our Armed Forces. Each of you who serve are doing a wonderful thing for our country, whether we agree with the politics of it or not. I know it is so hard to be away from your families if you are serving overseas. Thank you for everything you have to sacrifice in order for the rest of us to enjoy the freedoms we have, including little things like writing down thoughts for the world to see. I also want to thank the families of those who are serving and those who have served. I know it is VERY difficult for you all, especially at holidays, and it means more than I could ever express that you stand by your family as they serve our country.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the bottom of my heart.

Nov 25, 2008

Clean Sweep, David style

Had I thought about it, I would have taken pictures. On Monday, our household held the annual "Red Up the Playroom" event. Yes, I've lived in Arkansas for nearly twenty years, but I still say "red up." It's a Pittsburgh thing. It means "clean up."

This year was different than in years past. This year, I told the kids that we were doing it "Clean Sweep style." If you are not familiar with the television program, let me fill you in. People have messy houses. A crew comes in, and empties the contents of a few rooms to be made over. The stuff in the rooms are placed in one of three piles: Keep, Sell, Trash. So that's what we did. The kids got to put anything they wanted into the "Keep" pile.

Shan had to conduct a training at school, and she was VERY worried that I was in charge of the cleanup. I know she was afraid that once I entered 'the zone,' I wasn't going to let the kids keep anything. I opted not to go that route and instead let the kids decide what they wanted to keep.

Everything else went into the "Sell" and "Trash." Oh, there is one catch. Once the entire room is done, the "Keep" pile must be cut in half. Well, that's how it works on the show anyway. At our house, I let them keep it all. Why? Because they worked their tails off and really thinned out the stuff in their playroom. I was very impressed.

So, what are we doing with the things that are in the 'sell' pile? Well, some of it is going to be listed on eBay and some of it is going to a local charity that takes clothes, toys, etc for needy families.

Now that the playroom is cleaned out and ready for this year's Christmas, I am going to work on the shed today (Tuesday) to see what else we can "sell, keep, or trash."

I know what you might be thinking: Dave is...CLEANING!? Voluntarily!? Yeah... Call it getting into the Christmas Spirit, I guess... :-)

Nov 23, 2008

Slow Learner

You may remember some time ago, I posted an entry regarding a field camera and blinding flashes.

You would think that little foray into troubleshooting would have rubbed off on me. Nope. Tonight (Sunday), I went to Mom's in order to troubleshoot her motion sensor outside light. I set the sensitivity, messed with the duration,, and the light just wouldn't come on.

i went into the house, turned off the light at the switch for a moment, flicked it back on and still nothing. I messed with the control a little more. I went back into the house and turned off the switch for a full minute then turned it back on.

I went out and began messing with the light housing, and POW! I was blinded. Then the light went out. I moved the sensor, and BAM! I was blinded again! I was quickly getting that feeling of Deja Vu!

After one last shot directly to my eyes, I was done. The light works now. It works just fine, thank you.

You think I'll remember this the next time I have to work on a lighted contraption? Yeah, me either....

I have to give a MAJOR CONGRATULATIONS to Shan!! She tried on clothes that have been packed away for years. These were her "when I lose weight" clothes. She tried on EVERYTHING, and every stitch fit great! In fact, some of her 'weight-loss' items were TOO BIG now!! She went from 'can't wear it yet' to 'gotta give it away because it's too big' in one fell swoop! AWESOME! I say 'fell swoop' but really, Shan has worked very hard for quite a few months to get where she is. She has WAY more willpower than I do! I am VERY proud of her!! WAY TO GO, BABY!!

Nov 22, 2008

Monkey Brains, part two...

My Aunt responded to my "Monkey Brains" post, but only gave me half a point because I did not call them 'monkey balls.' The way I even discovered what they were was because i did a search for "monkey brains tree" and read the results. I can only think that SOME people call them balls and others call them brains... I think maybe I get at least 1/4 credit back... :-)

The other thing she said was that the creek was near a house we used to play near as kids. I remember the house and the creek very well. But, that is not where I remember seeing the monkey brains. I remember them from a park where my Dad had been refereeing soccer games. So, maybe there is somewhere else that jogs your memory, Shar??

In either case, I had long forgotten about playing with Billy and Selene as kids... That was back before the woods were replaced by apartments, for sure!!

Farkleberry Tarts and Monkey Brains

Sometimes, weird things just pop into my head. No, I mean WEIRD things... On the way to work today, for no reason I can think of, I thought of Farkleberry Tarts. I know, weird right? I mean, I haven't heard of those for YEARS, let alone even thought about them... Then, suddenly, there they were. Now, I realize that 99% of the population of the world has no flippin clue what I'm talkin' about. Well, you see, back in or around the holiday season of 1971 in Pittsburgh, a radio host made an off comment about sending him some Farkleberry Tarts. From then on, it became both a tradition and an inside joke in the three-rivers area. Yes, there really is a thing called a Farkleberry that grows all over the southeastern US, and yes, people really do make desserts using the berries. But it was one of those things where the word was so bizarre that it took on its own life.

Now, be ready for another mind-blowing trip through the IADD world of my 'net-surfing prowess: On one of the blogs I read (Thorzul), the author posted a picture of a sticker he owned as a child. He asked if anyone knew what it meant or what it was. It was/is some Japanese writing. I had some time to kill at work (don't tell my boss... Oh, heck, go ahead and tell her), and so began my research. While researching this pair of Japanese symbols, I somehow managed to stumble on a Pittsburghese web site that listed all kinds of words I used to say while growing up! It was great! Well, f course, I started checking into Farkleberries, which led me to look into Monkey Brains. No, not REAL ones, but these:
List some words you found and talk about them...

This is actually often referred to as an Osage Orange. For obvious reasons, my brother and I called them "Monkey Brains."

I know what you're asking yourself: How does this guy go from researching Japanese symbols to monkey-brain-looking fruit!? I'm tellin' ya, it's a scary world between my ears.... Okay, so my brother and I would play at some park. The only thing I remember about the park is that it had a creek that had stone walls on either side of it for the most part, though there were lots of places that there was no wall. Growing along this creek were trees that beared this fruit. We were young and clueless, afraid to touch the 'monkey brains,' so we would kick them into the creek, while at the same time, try to get the other person to 'accidentally' touch it by kicking the fruit AT the other person... We liked to torture each other that way. I don't remember how we finally figured out that the 'monkey brains' were not only NOT brains, but that we could actually pick them up with no side effects whatsoever.

And now you're thinking, "So what was the Japanese symbol!? What did it mean!? Why does that guy call himself "Thorzul" anyway!?" Okay, maybe not the last one... Well, it turns out Thorzul always referred to his sticker as his "Karate Kid" sticker because it was, after all, Japanese, and that was the hot movie at time he found it (er, bought it). He knew more than he realized:

This is the symbol for "10,000 Ages." Okay... Well, that means something along the lines of "a long life" which, in turn is "Hurrah!" or ..... BANZAI! And, if you've ever had the occasion to watch the movie, you know that "BANZAI!" is yelled a lot throughout the movie. A LOT throughout the movie...

Ah, and so now you may be asking yourself one of two things: 1) What am I doing still reading this guy's crazy posts? or 2) So, what were some of the words from Pittsburgh and where do I find more?

If you are stuck at #1, there is very little I can do for you. I'm sorry, but you are going to die... Don't freak out about it. We all die eventually... I didn't say it would happen right now, or next week or anything... Yeesh...

As for #2... Well, I've been told many times I'm full of it... As it relates to this post, however, here ya go:
  • "Afuhgan" - Afghan/blanket. I remember sitting in my grandmother's house and asking if we could have an afuhgan like it was yesterday!!
  • "Alunamin" - Aluminum. LOL, oh my gosh. I read that and cracked up. That is EXACTLY how I used to say that word!!
  • "Arn" - Iron. You could "arn" your clothes or many people in Pittsburgh drink "arn" city beer (Iron City Beer).
  • "Bobos" Shoes (generic). Okay, Bobos were shoes that were super cheap, like canvas keds in the 80's... No one wanted to be wearin' bobos!
  • "Breffis" - Breakfast. Seriously. We said, "Can we eat breffis??" Man, that's funny!
  • "Bumbershoot" - Umbrella. I don't remember saying so much as I remember my grandparents saying it...
  • "Burm" - Side of the Road, Shoulder. This is what we called the cement curb. We would often jump the burm with our bikes!
  • "Caach" - Couch. We also called the couch a Davenport. Well, my Dad's Mom would call it that. I think it was a 'fancy word'... My grandmother always saw herself as 'fancy,' I think. :-)
  • "Chimley" - Chimney. Seriously? Yeah... Man, I realize now that I can't say JACK about how people in the South talk!
  • "Clicker" - Remote control. I remember my Dad telling me to find the clicker at my grandparents house... It was always buried in the cushions of the Davenport...
  • "Cream rinse" - Conditioner. Holy cow! Man, when I was a kid, my Mom would tell us to use the cream rinse! I had forgotten all about that one!

Okay, just a couple more for now...

  • "Crick" - Creek. Yes, like Southerners get a 'crick' in their neck, we called the stream of water a 'crick' though we spelled it 'creek.'
  • "Dahntahn" - Downtown. That's how we said it: Dahntahn... Got a problem wit dat?

I realize that I referred to many of those phrases in the past tense. The truth is, that is exactly how 'Burghers talk today. Shan says that when we go back to visit, it is not very long before I pick up my old accent and the phrases I grew up with... After reading over just a few, can you blame me?? :-)

Here is the site I found... Feel free to read all kinds of words from the 'burgh:
Werds from the 'Burgh: here

Nov 20, 2008

Pittsburgh - then and now

Thanks to Google, you can search their IMAGES for items that have been added from the Life Magazine collection. While checking out pictures of Cleveland players, Corvettes and more, I found a picture of Pittsburgh before it was "Pittsburgh:"

Notice they had just cleared out a bunch of warehouses and such, getting ready for Point State Park to come in! The fountain isn't even erected in aother photo I found of this same time period. Notice the bridge on the right is just pillars! And the bridge on the left is nothing yet!

Here is a more modern view of the city of bridges:

Very cool walk down nostaligia lane, for sure. Not that I was around in '55. Heck, I wouldn't show up for another 14 years!

I don't always do the right thing

On one of the baseball card sites I frequent, the author posted a message regarding the golfer who recently turned himself in for using a ball that was a 'prototype' ball. He did not realize he had used the until he was back in his hotel room after the round of play. His use of the ball rendered him disqualified.

The question posed by the author was "How honest are you?" What you see below was my response:

At the end of the day, we have to face ourselves in the mirror. My wife and I recently shopped at Target. After our purchases were rung up, I realized that the total was in no way in line with what we bought (even though every item had triggered a 'beep' on the register). Sure enough, there was a bag of items totalling more than $50 that we had not been charged for. We talked about it, and I ultimately decided the right thing to do was to go back and pay for the items. At the next store, my wife had forgotten to pay for an item she was holding. She immediately went back and paid for it once we realized she hadn't been charged for it.

We don't always do the right thing, but sometimes we just have to...

Nov 18, 2008

600 ramblings later...

Wow. I hit post number 600 a couple posts ago and didn't even realize it. I like round numbers - 100's, 50's, and so on. I also like the fives - 75, 125, etc. Yeah, I'm weird like that.

So, in the scheme of things, what does hitting 600 posts mean? Nothing. That's the beauty of this thing we call "Web 2.0". Some people had 600 posts in their first two weeks online. Others will hit the mark in about three years. And the great thing is - it doesn't matter! Why not? Because what matters is that the folks who are posting and who continue to post are doing it because they enjoy it. Or I hope they do. I guess some folks do it for money, but I think they'd still have to enjoy doing it or else they'd give it up for a 'real' job.

As I've said on here before, I write because I like to get things off my chest or let the things rattling around in my head have a voice. Granted, some things would have been better off NOT escaping the confines of my cranial shell, but that goes with the territory. And, if you're reading this, then you either agree with me, disagree with me but want to see what I have to say anyway, or you are one seriously bored person. Hey, if you are the latter, I have no problem with that at all! I'm not picky about who takes a look at my ramblings! I'm just glad you ARE reading along, no matter how you know me or if you don't have any idea who I am from Adam. No, not that Adam, the other one.... No, not that one either.... I guess it helps to know an Adam before you could know someone FROM Adam...

Well, it WAS Monday...

The Palm training was a nightmare. We had to change labs because the first lab was screwed up. Oh, wait, at first I went to the Tech Center because I thought that’s where I was told to go. Then, I lugged the 30 boxes of unopened Palms to the Vo-Ed, puttered around there for almost an hour as the techs tried to fix the problem (well, half the problem. The other half of the problem was spotty wireless). Finally moved back to Tech Center and got things set up.

I think I need to install CWT software (that's the software the folks were learning how to use) before the workshops rather than having the people do it. The tech skill levels of the participants are just all over the map, and it leads to frustration on the part of those that want to get things moving and those that have trouble working the stylus.

As far as I know, I never got upset with the people, it wasn’t their faults, just the way the day was going in general. In fact, a couple people remarked that they wondered how I wasn’t blowing my top and appreciated that I was not condescending. I just don’t understand how techs get that way toward people. Why be condescending toward other people?

Well, we FINALLY got the software installed, and then we had various issues with the logins, etc, but I got Teachscape on the horn and they fixed everything that could be fixed quickly. There are some issues with folks that are doing multiple campuses because they only had one campus show up and some had only one teacher, and others had NO teachers. Weird.

Without going into detail in a public forum such as this, I just have to say that we got the cell bill the other day. We did not have Tyler on an unlimited texting plan. The boy is a texting wiz - a skill we did not fully comprehend until the bill came in at three times its normal amount.

The phrase "this will hurt you more than it hurts me" doesn't even begin to describe it...

Tyler had his first basketball game of the season on Monday. We were told the game was at 5:00, but then we were told 6:00. So, we followed the bus to the town where the game was. We got there at 5:15 and decided to hang out in the van instead of going into the gym. Shan had some tests to grade and we just listened to music and stuff. At 5:45, we got out and headed in for the game. The game was about a minute from going to HALFTIME! For his age group, Tyler's quarters are 5 minutes long. The game started at 5:30, thank you. So, we drove 40+ miles to watch 10 minutes of game because we were told the wrong time. Twice. How lovely.

Well, it WAS Monday, after all...

Nov 16, 2008

Skin of my teeth

It's about 11:03 pm here in south Arkansas as I write this. And even though I missed my post-a-day goal, I still try to post as often as I can.

I just spent the last few HOURS (okay, off and on) updating my Indians baseball card collection. Through the wonders of blogging, I have managed to do quite a few trades and I was falling behind in getting my received cards logged into the database I use to track all of my Indians cards. For those who are curious, I now have 7,950 non-duplicated Indians cards. Now, before you get the bright idea of coming out to the boonies and stealing my 'treasure trove' of cards, you might want to know that Indians cards do not garner the kind of high-dollar allure as say, Yankees do. Granted, it's a nice hobby with a fair market value, but no one (including me) is going to retire off these cards.

Why do it then? I think it's cool, for starters. I've collected the cards since I was about 5 or 6 years old. Yeah, do the math and I should have a lot more than 8000 cards. But, I spent a LOT of years NOT collecting. I also do it because it beats the crap out of a smoking or drinking habit. :-)

I'm teaching 30+ people how to use Palm handhelds on Monday. I'll let you know how that goes.

The kiddos are out all week when Thanksgiving rolls around, and I am planning on joining them! I've got a few projects I want to get done around the house, and Thanksgiving week is the week we put up the tree and decorations for Christmas!! WAHOO!

Of course, what I really need to do that week is build Daisy a run-in/lean-to to help keep her out of the weather this winter. We'll see how that goes.

Random thought: I wish I could add words to the Blogger spell-checker. It always says I misspell words like "Wahoo..."

If you thought Michael Jackson was already plastic...

HotToys, a company in Japan, plans the upcoming release of several new Michael Jackson-related toys. Yes, I'll let you read that again. Take a moment for that to sink in. It's not really sinking in? Well, does this help:

No, those are not photos taken by the Paparazzi. Those are photos directly from the manufacturer's web site. The look of Michael during his most popular years as a performer is uncanny. The doll/collectible is completely poseable. HotToys makes some of the most articulated figures I have ever seen and they have licences for all kinds of movies, etc. They also have a James Dean (red jacket) version of a doll/collectible, but no one seemed to have wigged out when they released it. Do a search for "Hot Toys Michael Jackson," and you will see all kinds of people asking all kinds of questions.

The only thing I can figure is that the doll commemorates Jackson's recent 50th birthday. But, there is more to this doll than meets the hand, er, eye:

Yes, you received ALL of those hands with the "Build-a-Jackson" kit. Now, I know there has been somewhat of a sarcastic tone to this post, but I am a HUGE Jacko fan. Not of him personally, but of his entertainment, singing, performance. Yeah, he's got some seriously deep-seeded issues, but he man can dance and sing like very few people before him. Period. One question that I have seen all over the web is "Why so many hands. It's creepy." Well, yeah, in a way, it is. But, since the company is not up to articulating the actual fingers, collector's and fans know that Jackson has a different stance for almost everything he does. Honestly, I don't see this as any weirder than all the feet and hands you get with Bratz or the latest incarnation of Polly Pocket. (I know these things because I have a 6-year old daughter, and it is a Daddy's job to know.)

So, while it may seem creepy to non-fans, I think the target audience for this is going to love being able to swap out looks. I am most impressed with the ability to replicate some of his classic 'moves:'

How many dolls do you know that can pull off the "Jackson lean?" Yeah, okay, you're asking yourself, "How many people would WANT their doll to pull it off?" I'll give you that one.

But, this doll is NOT the only Jackson-licensed thing Hot Toys is developing (or has developed, it's hard to tell because, well, I don't read Japanese):

The articulated collectible has rumors of being available before Christmas this year, though I have seen a release date of February 2009. If they were smart, they'd grab the Christmas rush (assuming there actually is one). I have no idea if the mini-dolls are already out or upcoming.

Shan and I spent the day shopping on Saturday. At one point, I overheard the following conversation:

Mother (presumably to son, growling in exasperation): "RRGH... Your mother is NOT doing well. I've had no luck in finding what I'm looking for."
Son: "Well, then can we look at toys?"

I love how kids' minds work.

In the mall, Cold Stone Creamery opened a new shop. Honestly, I have no idea why you would open an ice cream shop in the mall in November, but it saved us a trip out to the brick-and-mortar shop. The problem with the one in the mall is that they have very little selection because they have very little space. Well, I say that, but in reality I think it's because they have very little planning, but whatever. The ice cream is still good.

There were two girls working the counter. No, there was one girl working the counter while the other tried miserably to make waffle cones. The smell of burnt waffle filled the air and grew progressively worse as we sat there eating. If they were trying to get customers to AVOID the place, they were doing a good job.

There were two separate conversations that took place during our stay. The first went something like this:

Girl1: "I keep messing these (waffle cones) up!"
Girl2: "You'll get the hang of it."
Girl1 (watching Girl1): "How can you do that like that?"Girl2 (mixing our orders up in cups because despite the NAME of the place, there is no actual STONE in the mall version): "I learned how to do this at events. I've been doing this for two years. Trust me, in two years, you learn how to do a lot of things. It's no big deal for me now. If you're here for two years, you'll know how to do it like this, too."

I didn't know if she was implying Girl1 would move on to (presumably) better things, or if Girl1 wouldn't LAST long enough to be around for two years...

The second conversation went like this:

Girl1 (coming out from the back area, smiling and excited): "Yes! My Mom said she didn't care WHAT time I came home tonight, just so I was home in time to go to church in the morning."
Girl2: "Well, that should be interesting."

Girl1 said something else, but I don't remember what it was. This conversation struck Shan and me very funny. Here, this girl was excited about the prospect of staying out late (presumably all night), and all her mother was worried about was whether or not the girl was going to be home in time for church. Now, I admit, we did not hear the conversation Girl1 had with her mother, so it is very possible that she told her mother where she was going and who she'd be with. Then again, I may be old-fashioned and kids today just don't bother with such trivial things. I can tell you MINE will deal them, or they will deal with ME...

Shan told me about a conversation she heard between two young adult/teenaged girls that went something like:

Girl1: "I talked to my professor, and she was like, 'between your grades and your attitude, you have the makings for a college drop-out.'"
Girl2: "Do you really think you'd drop-out?"
Girl1: "Well, I have a scholarship that I don't have to repay if I say to the end of the year. But, I have a Pell Grant. That's $5000 I'd have to repay. I don't have $5000! I would like to be an X-Ray tech, but I'd have to take a lot of classes. I hear they make good money though. I could also be a (Shan could not remember what the girl said), but like, it only pays like $17000. $17000!? That won't even pay for my CLOTHES!"

There were a few tidbits in there that I forgot, but you get the gist... Today's kids (okay, that's too broad, so I'll say MANY) have NO CLUE what the cost of living is, nor do they understand that their first jobs are most likely going to be lower-paying. Now, on the other hand, depending on the student and the field of choice, kids could walk out of High School with varying technology certifications and land themselves mid-to-high five figure salaries without so much as setting foot in the doorway of a college (either in-person or online)!

Still, from Shan's retelling of the conversation, I was pretty sure there were ceiling fans in the store that were moving without the aid of electricity above the girl's head...

For those of you asking yourself, "How did Dave even find out about those Michael Jackson things?" Here is how my IADD (Internet-based Attention Deficit Disorder) works:

Shan and I were shopping for Christmas presents yesterday. We saw a Hannah Montana Malibu House. I made the comment that they should make Jackson dolls. For those not privy, Jackson is Hannah's brother on the show. I made a comment that I would have to look that up online. So........ I wake up this morning to post on my Indians blog. I scan in the cards I received in the mail (along with the crayon-written note). Before I get to posting, I remember to look up the Hannah Montana Jackson doll information. One of the first things that pops up is a 'news' item regarding the Michael Jackson doll. That, of course, led to the post you read earlier. See? It all comes around eventually. Well, sometimes anyway.

And, THAT is also why I named this blog "Popped in my head" in the first place - because you just never know...

Nov 14, 2008

Emily breaks out the crowbar

Emily has been saving her money for quite a while. She finally decided that what she wanted was an iPod Shuffle. I tried to convince her to get one of the Nanos, but she knew what she wanted and that was that. She also knew what color she wanted. Okay, well, we ALL knew what color she wanted. Today, she finally broke out the crowbar to pry open the wallet that had her money in it.

She is a VERY good saver, and it took her a long time (for a six-year old, for sure!) to pick out exactly what she wanted and she learned how much it cost and how much she would have left over.

When we got home, I hooked it up and we Sync'd songs up to it for to listen to. I'm sure she'll have the battery worn down before the end of the night. :-) Well, maybe not quite...

It has been a long time (I'd say at least a year) since Emily, Tyler and I all sat down to play games on the computers together. We fired up Battlefield 1942 and started having a blast! We played for quite a while Thursday.

Tonight (Friday), Emily and I played and we discovered a cool trick that allowed our characters to walk up the steel frame of a bridge and watch the action from WAY up high! The funniest thing was watching the enemy planes coming in low, trying to shoot us down only to run head-long into the bridge. Man, we could have killed off a lot of Axis enemies if we had tried that back during the war.. :-)

So, what are the things on my Christmas list this year? Well, let's see (not in any order):
  • Baseball cards
  • Indians items
  • Call of Duty 4 (PC Game)
  • Fallout 3 (PC Game)
  • SingStar Pop 2 (Playstation 2 Game)
  • Crysis Warhead (PC Game)
  • Any family-fun Wii game (one that we can all play together)
  • Clothes (I'm not really picky)
  • Whatever else pops into someone's head

Nov 12, 2008

I would have written this yesterday, but...

I meant to post this on Wednesday, but I spent much of the evening providing telephone support for my Aunt. That is not a complaint by any stretch. We achieved something that takes quite a few steps, but was needed for her blogging success. No, I'm not talking about AdSense - she already has that. I'm talking about changing email addresses and logins for Blogger.

Though the steps are available for those who are both lucky and tenacious enough to find them, here is what you do in a nutshell:

  • Create a new Blogger account with your new email address,
  • Sign out, and log in with your old Blogger account,
  • ADD an Author by INVITING your new email address,
  • Sign out, and close your web browser (just to be sure),
  • Check your new email and find the 'You've been invited...' message,
  • Click on the link and sign in/up using your new email address,
  • Sign out if Blogger signed you in,
  • Sign back in with your OLD account info,
  • Under SETTINGS, go to PERMISSIONS again,
  • Click the link to make the new address an ADMIN user and click YES or OK or whatever,
  • Go to the profile info as the OLD account and copy anything you want to save for your NEW account! The easiest way to do this is copy each section from blogger onto a new, blank line in notepad,
  • Sign out,
  • Sign back in with the NEW email address,
  • REMOVE the OLD account,
  • Edit the profile by PASTING the copied info from notepad into each section (or just put in new info if you want),
  • Save your settings and you are good to go!

See? Nothing to do it.... uh, yeah, right...

Wednesday morning, I had to drive to Little Rock for a meeting. As usual, I was running a little behind and had to get Tyler to school. I could not find my truck keys. I went into the home office and looked around, but couldn't find them. After some more searching, I remembered they were in my jacket pocket. So, I grabbed the jacket and headed out. As I pulled up to Tyler's school, I realized I did not have my wallet! Well, I was not about to drive to Little Rock without it, so back to the house I went. I looked around, and eventually found myself in the home office once again. I moved a few things around, and sure enough, my wallet was hidden under a book. Yeesh...

On the way to the meeting, I was passed by a car with a vanity plate that read "MLBxxB" (the xx's weren't there, but I don't think I'm allowed to post someone's license plate online). I thought it was pretty cool that someone had the initials "MLB!" Nothing like growing up with baseball in your blood! :-)

After the meeting, a bunch of us went to "Cheeburger Cheeburger" for lunch! I had forgotten to remember that Shan had eaten there before. While everyone she went with got burgers, she did the healthy thing and got a salad. I probably should have remembered to remember that before I got home Wednesday night and talked about the big ol' burger I ate... :-) Seriously, if they one these near you and you haven't gone yet - GO! The shakes are delicioso!

You ever have one of those days that you are so busy, you don't remember what you did all day!? Yeah, mine was kinda like that today (Thursday). But, at one point, I hooked up dual monitors to my computer at work. Once I had it actually working (which took about an hour), I was hooked. How anyone only uses one monitor for work is beyond me, now that I have two. I can have the web open on one screen while I am remoted into a server (or two) on the other, copying and pasting information between the screens. Oh, man, my productivity just doubled! Or, does that cut it in half? Well, whichever. :-)

I have to say, I am a VERY lucky man! Now that Shan is becoming more and more my "trophy wife" with her weight loss, I'm lucky she hasn't booted me to the curb! She has always been a very beautiful woman to me, but DAWG, she is ssssmmmmmookkkiiinnnn! I'll have to sneak a picture of her on here. She hasn't quite got to the point where she "likes" to have her picture taken yet... :-) Way to go, Honey! You look great! I love you!

Nov 10, 2008

Live with your mistakes, learn from them

A 16-year old girl goes to a party. At the party, she decides to drink the alcohol she has been educated about. She knows the consequences from drinking based on what she's learned in school, from friends, from her parents. But she makes a mistake. She drinks anyway. She gives in to her desires. She enjoys herself, having a great time. And then, it's time to go home. She gets in the car and drives herself home. She finds out later that because of her mistake, she had made another one. She ran over a baby carriage being pushed along by a mother, killing the baby. The girl is taken to court. She is put on trial for killing the baby in her drunken state. Should she be convicted for her mistake? It was just a mistake, after all. I mean, we all make mistakes, right? Surely, she will learn from this one and not drink and drive again, so there is no need to put her jail for it. She has the right to move on from what happened and simply live her life, right? Right?

What's that? Not so sure about that? Why not? It was just a mistake.

I suppose what makes this any different than a teenager aborting a child because of a 'mistake' is the lack of ability for some people to accept that a baby is a human from the moment it is created by the joining of two people. Or, more specifically, the joining of the sperm and egg. I mean, come on, it was just a mistake, after all. We all make mistakes. She can get over killing a baby, just as the drunk girl can get over running over the baby in the carriage. Oh, that's different? Why, because the baby was a week old? Already born? I don't care what anyone might think about the actual time a "fetus" becomes a "baby," there is no way to deny that if the SEX is known, it is a CHILD. Sorry, but no one will EVER convince me otherwise. If one can tell whether it is a boy or a girl, then it is a human child.

Am I anti-abortion? No. I believe there are very specific circumstances where the life of the mother or the life of the child may warrant such a thing. Possibly rape as well. But, "I made a mistake" is NOT an excuse to have an abortion. Yes, there was a mistake. Yes, life is going to be extremely difficult because of the choice that was made. Deal with it. Put on the big-person pants and live with the consequences of the actions, teenager.

Drink and drive and kill someone, live with the consequences and responsibilities of that. Sleep with someone and have unprotected sex, live with the consequences and responsibilities of that.

Just because I don't believe in abortion except for extreme cases, doesn't mean I believe a woman should not have any say or any choice. I am saying that a TEENAGER, under the age of adulthood does not get the right to simply pick up and move on. Her mistake. Her consequences. If one were to steal money and get caught, one must deal with the consequences. Pull a gun and kill someone out of anger, deal with the consequences. Get pregnant because one was too immature to act responsibly, deal with the consequences. Period.

I don't really care if anyone reading this agrees with me or not. The reader will take careful notice that no kind of religion has been mentioned here. As far as I am concerned, religion has very little to do with it. It's about responsibility and consequences for the lack thereof. Yes, there is 'choice' here: One has the 'choice' not to make the 'mistake' in the first place.