Jul 31, 2009


No, it has nothing to do with clothes or whether or not some is or is not the gender to which they were born. This about a sports card CONTEST!

Ryan, over at TraderCrack's, is having a contest and the winner gets whatever is behind door number one, er, I mean what's inside the Razor Cut Signature pack!

The contest link: GO HERE!

Just leave a comment and you're in. There are other ways too win, but I'll you find those out for yourself!

Jul 29, 2009

It came! It finally came!

Some time ago, I bought a Magellan 1212 GPS unit from Newegg.com. It was a refurbished item, which means someone returned it, MagellanGPS fixed it and then let Newegg sell it at a discount. Big bonus for me. That is not what this post is about, though.

Magellan has a 30-day free map update guarantee. If you buy a refurb unit, then call them within 30 days, you get a FREE ($75-80 value) SD card with the latest map updates.

I called, sent everything they wanted, and waited... and waited... I finally used their customer service online form and copied everything I had sent into that form. The next day, I get a reply that says I'm good to go for the free update, but I have to pay $10 shipping. I call the 800 number, give the info and wait... and wait...

Today, I get a package in the mail. Inside the package is another package. Why they didn't just send that one, I have no idea. But, inside, I find the SD card.

Now, I thought that the GPS unit would copy the maps from the SD card to the GPS. Nope, you boot up the GPS, press RESET and it boots the maps from the card. So, take out the card, you lose the updated maps (until you put the card back in).

That's not a major issue, except that the SD slot is also used to back up address books, etc. So, of course, I am going to see if I can back up to the maps card.

I am glad I took the initiative to contact customer service for the free update to begin with, but also as follow-up since I had not heard anything from them. Now, I just have to figure out what was updated and if it even matters for the areas in which I travel the most... Regardless, it is worth it to me!

Jul 28, 2009

Skilcraft Pen Information Update

It amazes me how much the Internet has evolved, specifically in the realm of the World Wide Web. Take for example, the Skilcraft Pen. Some time ago, I posted an article (here) about the government-issue pens that my father had laying all over the house when I was a kid.

The comments involve various memories, and questions about where to find these great little pens. Well, because of the power of search engines and the ability for folks to communicate and collaborate online through these things we call blogs, an answer has been posted:

Privateer writes, "if you're still reading this blog, or article, you're best bet is to order a box off of http://www.abilityone.com/, the website, for the applicable government program. If you're looking for black, medium point, its NSN 7520009357136. If you're just looking for the refills, thats NSN 7510005436792, again, just for medium point. Its about 7.50 for a box of a dozen pens, or 3.14 for a box of refills. Whats really gonna get you is shipping, which is 15.00 unless you order 50.00 worth of stuff. Hope that helps."

Whether a purchase is made or not, it definitely helps! Thank you, Privateer, for surfing in and leading folks to a place to pick up these great pens!

Sidenote: If you do a search for the pen # (7520009357136), you can find several sites selling them as well. I don't know if Privateer works for AbilityOne or not, but without his help, I would not have known the product number to look up in the first place. Again, thank you VERY much for stopping by and giving a hand, Privateer!

Jul 22, 2009

"Free" Big Mac - are you kidding me with this?

While checking my Yahoo! mail today, this was the banner ad (what you see above).

Notice the small print? "Complete six offers..." Are you kidding me!? For a blankety-blank BIG MAC!? What's a Big Mac cost, like 3 bucks? You want me to sign up for junk mail out the butt, plus buy more than a few things, I'm sure!? And for a BIG MAC!? Yeah, I don't think so. Times may be tough, but I can pull up to Mickey D's and get a stupid Big Mac if I want one, and I don't have to complete anything more than driving my happy butt there...

Man, that is tooo funny...

Jul 20, 2009

"Could you shut down your production server for me?"

Those were the words spoken by the Dell tech support guy as we tried to troubleshoot a problem with a tape backup unit we have. My simple response was, "uh, no."

But, after taking some time to let things digest, it did occur to me that I 'should' be able to turn off the tape unit, disconnect the cable from the server and turn the tape unit back on again. After all, if the cable was disconnected from the server, then as far as the tape unit was concerned, I *had* shut down the server, right?

Sure enough, the tape unit booted up and I was able to eject the tape that had been stuck for more than a week. Then, for good measure, I also ejected the second tape (it's a dual tape unit). Once that was done, I plugged everything back in, tightened down all the connectors, and fired the tape unit back up. Once I inserted the tapes, everything worked just fine.

And I did not have to shut down our production server, thank you.

Emily has been on a major GH3 kick lately. So, Sunday night, she got Shan to play and Shan did very, very well! She had never played before and scored 97% of the notes for "Hit me with your best shot!" Rockin!

And, in the name of honesty and disclosure, Shan kicked my butt on a variety of songs. I'm going to have to practice...

Emily is getting better, reaching just over 50% on "hit me" and in the upper 40%-range for several other songs on the list! Her main issue is that her hands are a tad too small for the fret board. But she hangs in there, and doesn't give up easily. Soon, she'll be blowin the roof off the place!

Tyler does very well on medium and hard. He treats the game like a game rather than a music challenge, so for him it is more about hand-eye coordination than matching riffs to the song. I may need to try that....

Jul 19, 2009

And that's the way it is...

In truth, I do not remember any specific broadcasts. I wasn't born yet when Kennedy was shot, and I was all of about 3 months old when we landed on the moon. If Cronkite had anything to do with coverage of the 1986 shuttle explosion, I don't really recall. Why bother writing anything then? Two reasons: first, because he is ultimately part of the reason I even thought about broadcasting as a career choice, and second, his presence in our homes was so evident that I ultimately developed an imitation of him.

When I was a kid, Mr. Walter Cronkite appeared on our television screen nearly every night so far as I can remember. We was on so much, in fact, that I had developed a knack for imitating his voice and signature nightly closing. I'm not sure how old I was, but I could not have been more than 5 or 6 when I started and probably 14 or 15 when I stopped (though every once in a while, family members would still ask me to say "And that's the way it is"). Even though I do not remember any specific newcasts, Cronkite was the man we looked to when the world seemed out of place or when the world was celebrating something big. As strange as it may seem, I still manage to throw in a "that's the way it is" when listening to the radio. I had done since I was a kid, so for me, it is just something I do.

When I went to college, I eventually followed the path of radio broadcasting. I eventually became the new director for the college station, and Walter Cronkite was a part of everything I thought news should be - even for a tiny 10-watt radio station. Our job was to report what was happening as concisely as possible, as humanly as possible. And, for a time, we had all of 91 seconds to do it in. Our frequency was 91.1FM, so I came up with the "91 seconds of news" tagline. I don't think it lasted long, though, because there was just too much to say.

While doing the on-air portion of the broadcasting class, I always played the straight man to whatever partner I had - whether it was my brother, "Toucan Sam," or my good friend and co-station manager, Mark "Eddie Wish" Walker. That is not to say I didn't have fun and try to keep things light and fun whenever I could, but I saw our positions in the light that I had grown up with Walter Cronkite in my living room. That is, when it came time to inform our audience, we did it with as much integrity we could gather. Remember, this WAS a college radio station, so we were doing all kinds of things and had all kinds of personalities that shined through the microphones and speakers.

There people in each of our lives that seem to serve as the foundation of particular aspects of our personalities and our beliefs in the way things should be done. For me, Walter Cronkite showed me what kind of broadcaster I wanted to be. And even though life has taken me in very different directions, there are many times that I will be driving down the road, listening to the radio, and I will do my own song introductions and my spins on the news as I listen along. And, even as recently as last week, I can remember listening to a local news story on the radio, and jokingly added "And that's the way it is" after it was over. I will miss him deeply and dearly.

Jul 18, 2009

You keep me hangin' on...

Emily's birthday on the 14th went very, very well! Here are a few pics from the party:

On Thursday, Emily invited Sarah and Maggie to sleep over. While they were here, the girls played Barbies, made their own bobblehead dogs, and at one point ran around the house singing, "We're Hyper! We're Hyper!"

A while ago, woot.com had a birthday giveaway - WootLights! I ordered a set, and they came today:

Aren't you glad you came by?

Jul 14, 2009

iTunes built-in convert to mp3

Now that iTunes songs are DRM-free, you will most likely want to convert downloaded songs to a more user-friendly format (namely MP3) for use in ANY media player.

For the PC, go to the EDIT menu, then PREFERENCES. Halfway down the first screen, you should see a button for "IMPORT SETTINGS:"

Once you click "IMPORT SETTINGS," use the drop-down menus to change the default from AAC to MP3. I also change the quality to 192k so the songs sound better:

Click "OK," then "OK" again, and now, when you right-click a song in your library, you'll see the option to "Create MP3 Version." Awesome!

Picture Manager Outlook Express jpg Sharepoint Error fix

Okay, here is a weird one. It seems that a LOT of people online are having trouble when they try to open JPG files from Outlook Express. The computer comes up with an error about making sure you have access to the Sharepoint library etc etc.

The problem is definitely an Internet Explorer 8 issue, and is tied into the Microsoft Office Picture Manager's settings. I have two possible "solutions" (though the first one did *NOT* work for my computer).

  • Right-click the shortcut to Outlook Express. Find the "Shortcut" tab. Change the "Start In" line to read %UserProfile% and click OK. Start Outlook Express and see if you can open attachments.
  • What worked for me was to actually MOVE the location of Temporary Internet Files. Why deleting all the files did not work, I have no idea, but moving those files fixed things for me. First, create a new folder for the files. I went to "My Computer," then the "Local Disk C:" and in there, I created a new folder called TEMP. Then, in Internet Explorer, click "Tools" then "Internet Options." From there, click on "Settings" in the "Internet Browsing" section. In there, click "Move folder..." Select "Browse" and go to the folder you made above (in my case C:\TEMP). You will be logged off your computer, so just click your name on the login screen (or login however you normally do). After your computer comes up, you should be able to open pictures in Outlook Express again!
  • There actually was a 3rd option, and that was to change the default program that opens your pictures. I am NOT including that here because it didn't work for me, and I like having Picture Manager as the default program.

My apologies, but another suggestion I found was to remove Internet Explorer 8 and roll back to IE7. In my world, that is not a viable option. I would venture to say it is also not an option for a lot of other folks either...

I am posting this in hopes it helps someone else...

Jul 13, 2009

Tire-changing party for a dryer

On Saturday, Shan and I headed to Texarkana to do some birthday shopping for Emily. While we were there, Shan's Mom called to say that her dryer had quit and asked if we could look around for a good deal on a new one. Luckily, I had loaded us up in my truck for the day's shopping, so hauling a new dryer would not be a problem!

We looked at Home Depot first, and they had a couple inexpensive dryers (that would be in the $350-ish range). Since we had some more shopping to do, I told Shan we could look at Sears, but that I thought Sears would be higher-priced than Home Depot. Sure enough, they were.

We eventually made our way to Lowe's, and they had a dryer for $268. Of course, the only one they had in stock was "damaged." Well, we thought we would look over the damage and the saleswoman said she could knock off 25% because it was damaged and that it would still have the year's manufacturer warranty. Sounded good. We felt and looked at the damage and it didn't seem too bad.

We loaded up the dryer, which ended up costing less than the sticker with the discount, even with taxes, so that was a good deal to me.

We had to stop at Wal-Mart in Hope on the way home, and when we came out, I noticed my passenger rear tire was low. Several years ago, Shan's Mom had given me a portable air pump for Christmas. I keep it in the truck and it has proven handy on several occasions. This was not really one of them. It was taking FOREVER to get any air in the tire. I decided to move the truck over to the air pump at the gas station in front of Wal-Mart, and as I walked around the truck, I could HEAR the air hissing out of the tire. That is never a good thing. Sure enough, evidently I had a bubble in the tire and it finally gave way.

So, in the 95-degree heat, I changed the tire. Now, many folks have asked why I didn't just wheel the truck to the tire place there at Wal-Mart, and the answer is simple: my tires are cheaper at Goodyear. Besides, I knew I was going to have some other work done on my truck since it has hit the century-k mileage mark. I'll come back to that.

Once we got the dryer to Shan's folk's house, we opened the box and found the dryer had a bit more damage than we thought. It was all cosmetic, though, and we did get a good deal, so they opted to keep it. I think we can take care of some of the cosmetic issues, which is a good thing.

So, back to the truck... I took it in Monday morning, driving to the Goodyear place near the office. The tech looked at the tire and explained the whole 'bubble bursting' thing to me. I told him I wanted two new tires put on the front and the current front tires moved to the back. I also wanted an estimate on a tune-up and I definitely wanted the serpentine belt replaced, since it had 100,000 miles on it with no problems. Much better to head off a belt problem than to deal with it after it breaks!

While at work, Goodyear called me to let me know that my truck had no front brakes at all! Ouch! They had worn down completely. Well, since I am in the 'fix-it' mood, I just as well get those taken care of.

I don't imagine getting another 100,000 miles out of the truck, but if I can keep it going as well as it has for a few more years, I can feel good about passing it along to Tyler when he's ready to drive. And, really, if he doesn't end up with it, then hopefully, it'll be around for years to come as my work truck for when I need one.

I have a year left to pay on it, then I'll be looking for a new car - yes, car - to tool around in. I'm thinking Charger SXT....

Jul 11, 2009

I can feel 'em flyin like a hand out the window as the cars go by

I cannot believe it is already Saturday, July 11. The last time I posted, I was feeling pretty 'puny' as they say in these parts. Since I last posted, the doctor put me on Meclazine to help with dizziness. I hate that stuff. It might temporarily relieve the head-spinning, but the other 'features' of the meds are bluh-bluh-bluh! Makes me way too drowsy to function. Heck, I'd rather be slightly off kilter, thank you.

There was also this little thing called the "Michael Jackson Memorial" that took place since my last post. You might have seen something about it on TV or online or on the radio or maybe as you looked over the magazine racks at your local store. What I'm saying is that unless you took a vacation from the planet, you are most likely very aware of the fact that the King of Pop was given a huge memorial service. And, in my opinion, a very, very well-deserved one. Whether you liked his music or not, whether you believe he was innocent of the charges brought against him or not, whether you agree with the title 'king of pop' or not, there is absolutely *NO* denying his impact of the world of entertainment. Frankly, I think his impact was greater in the scheme of things that The Beatles and he rivaled Elvis in terms of overall impact and contribution to the world of entertainment. No one else, to me, comes even close. And his memorial was done beautifully - a superb mix of his music and memories, of his impact and the hole left behind.

The most endearing parts came from Brooke Shields and from his daughter, Paris. Brooke showed Michael in a light few people ever got to see, ever got to experience, ever even heard about. And, Paris came to the microphone with a strong presence, only to show the world that she was deeply hurting from the loss of her Daddy.

During the week, I also led a class in an introductory overview of Office 2007. That went very well, though in a couple places, I stumbled a bit (literally) due to my brain being slightly off center. I also managed to trace an errant SharePoint site down to some kind of problem with one of the color themes we had assigned to the site. I'm still not sure what that was about, but at least it appears we found the problem. The fix was to simply reset the site back to the default color scheme for now. Next week's project will be to see if I can find out what went wrong and see if I can right it.

Also next week, Emily Grace has her BIRTHDAY!!! Wahoo!!! It is hard to believe she is already SEVEN! How did THAT happen!? Wow, do the days go by....

Jul 6, 2009

No flying pigs...

I went to the doctor and he said if this were a few months ago, he'd test me for flu, swine or otherwise, but he believes it is viral and it has impacted my nervous system - specifically my inner ear. He said he did not see inner ear infection, but that based on a TILT test (which is named right - they lay you down, take your blood pressure, then stand you up and take it again), my bp dropped 15 points (meanwhile I nearly tilted myself onto the floor, thank you).

So, I am out today and Tuesday for sure. he's got me on meds and I have to wait and see how things are by Wednesday morning. It's ironic to me that the meds for relieving dizziness make one drowsy... I may be in late Wednesday, depending on what things look like late Tuesday.

Aren't you glad you chose to read what's popped in my head lately? I tried to warn you, things are not always pretty in there....

Jul 5, 2009

A (not-so) funny thing happened...

I went to bed on Wednesday night, after another very cool day in The Big Apple. I don't know why, but the air vent in the hotel was bothering me. The fan was blowing too high for my liking - too much airflow. But, it was late, and I didn't want to bother with changing the setting from HIGH to LOW. My wife offered to do it, but I told her to never mind about it.

And then, I woke up on Thursday. I had a strange, groggy feeling and my throat had one of 'those' tickles to it. As the morning wore on, and we headed to Carmine's for some killer Italian lunch, the thought of actually putting anything in my mouth brought forth feelings in the pit of my stomach the likes of which I have not felt since my worst days of drinking back in college. This was not good. and to make things stranger, my head was floating in its own elevator shaft. My whole body felt like it was perpetually going either up or down, with an occasional dip to one side or the other.

I put on my brave face, though, and ate what I could of lunch. We then hiked down to Herald Square for a look at the Empire State Building and a walk through Macy's. I was hot, breaking out in fierce sweats and in the next moment, I was freezing my butt off, restless from riding the escalators up and down eight flights of Macy's. Yes, Elizabeth, Macy's really is the largest store most people will probably ever set foot in.

Looking back, I was probably sporting a 100-plus degree temperature for most of the day, but I just chalked it up to generally not feeling well. Yeah, I can be a little slow to admit when I am really sick.

Friday came, and it was time to head back home. By then, it was obvious to all of us that I was not doing well at all. I vaguely remember even getting in the van to the airport. I seem to remember going through the Queens tunnel. I remember going through security and the guy telling me he had to check my laptop case. I remember passing out on the plane. Oh, wait, there was some kind of problem with our check-in at the airport, but that turned out to be no problem at all, but a 'simple' computer glitch. Oy... I remember riding the tram at Houston, and I think I drank some fluids and maybe ate something. I don't remember. Oh, yeah, continental did feed us from NYC to Houston - hot turkey/cheese sandwiches.

Casey picked us up at the airport in Little Rock, and we went back his place for a bit to visit with Aunt Linda, Vanessa and Samuel. I drove us home after a stop at Sonic. I was not hungry, but the sweet tea was just what I needed to keep my brain focused. We made another pit stop at Wal-Mart for the 4th cookout, and then headed home. My fever was really bad at that point (though I never flat-out admitted it until now). The temperature reading showed that it was 87 degrees outside, and I had the driver's side blower set at the lowest HEAT setting because I was freezing otherwise.

When we got home, I helped what little I could with unpacking, then I took some nite-time medicine and was fast asleep. Saturday came, and every cough made my chest feel like I was in some kind of compression chamber. My head was killing me, still feeling like it was floating in some kind of gelatin mold. I was also now sneezing and my sinuses were leaking like a bad faucet. And, yes, I still had an on-again, off-again fever.

We watched the Macy's fireworks on TV, which was cool since we had just been there the day before. Then, Shan started looking online for what I might have. I need to add here that by this time, my Mom and Emily were quickly showing a lot of the same symptoms. Not everything was the same, though, so from we can tell, I either have/had a flu or 'the' flu. I am going to the doctor Monday to find out for sure. Mom most likely had bronchitis. Emily is doing much better after taking meds, though her fever still comes and goes. Tyler had a little fever Sunday morning, but he seems to be mostly unaffected. Shan started off the week a little sick, but she seems to have dodged this thing completely... or so far anyway.

I don't know if this little ditty makes any sense or not. If not, just know that my head is still stuck in some sort of floating limbo and that I am hoping the good doctor will at least have a way to steady the ship....