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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Happy New Year!

2007 is upon us. I hope everyone has their resolutions in order and their 2006 worries properly filed away. This year will be a great year for Jodi and I. This year we will add another member to our family (Lyric) and buy our first home. We will be drinking our sparkling grape juice and listening to Auld Lang Syne performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra tonight while attempting to figure out what the song is supposed to be saying. We wanted to wish you all a very happy and safe new year!

Back-Up Camera

Maybe it takes a twisted sense of humor to notice these things. Maybe everyone who saw this product made this observation. I don't know which of these is true, but I thought that I'd share with you what I saw. I can just hear the voice-over advertisement: "Backing up a vehicle can be hazardous. Knowing your surroundings while in the driver's seat can be a guessing game that leaves you losing all too often. This year alone, over a million Americans could lose their lives under the rear tires of the family station wagon. However, using the latest technological innovations, VR3 has designed a new life-saving device specifically designed for your killer automobile and has generously made it available to you. It's the Wireless Back-Up Camera System! Never needlessly lose another family member to death by station wagon. With the savings from life-insurance premiums this life saver practically pays for itself. It's a completely wireless system which means an easy installation for you. The color LCD monitor can be easily mounted on your visor next to your vanity mirror allowing you to drive in reverse while applying endless layers of make-up. Take advantage of this special offer now while supplies last so that next time your wife is kissing your small child while thoughtlessly sitting in the driveway directly behind your station wagon beyond your field of vision she won't be kissing their lives goodbye.

There's Music In My Veins

I'm sure that all of my blog readers know already that I love music. You all are privy to my past musical obsessions, my current musical hobbies, and the future American citizen that my wife and I are manufacturing who is to be named Lyric. What you may not know is that my family tree has been a'rockin' for quite some time.

His name was John Davenport and although it turns out that he was my mother's step-father and not my mother's biological father and therefore no relation to me, I still count him as my grandfather. After all, I didn't even know that he wasn't my blood until I was in my later teens. And, of course, it made no difference to me anyway. All my Italian came from my biological grandfather, but I never met him because he was a bum. He left my grandmother with my two uncles and my mother when they were still very young. Ironically, I am proud of my Italian heritage. I've never really associated the heritage with the bum that it came from. Go figure.

Well, last night I was talking with my mother and she told me that my aunt had found a picture of John Davenport when she ran a search for Chuck Cabot. Chuck Cabot was a moderately well-known musician who toured the country playing with his orchestra. My grandpa, John Davenport, was his drummer for years. It was actually during this time that my grandpa met my grandma. My grandmother, Margret, was working as a waitress here in Springfield. She was a hard-working single mother of three and he was a semi-famous travelling musician. They met and the rest is history. Anyway, I found the site that my aunt found and copied the picture (which you've already seen at the top of this). My grandpa is the one on the far right. You cannot see the entire building in the photo, but this is the Hollywood Palladium. I searched and came across the official site for the Palladium and came across these other photos. In the collage, showing the history of the Palladium, you can see (near the bottom on the left) a picture of the entire front when it still looked like it did in the picture with my grandfather. You'll probably have to click on these photos to make them bigger to see, though. The bottom photo is a shot of the inside.

There is no fixed seating in the Palladium and has therefore been used for many different venues. It was used in the filming of the movies Almost Famous and Blues Brothers. It has also been used for both Emmy Awards shows and Grammy Awards shows on many occasions. It was also the home of the Lawrence Welk Show.
I also ran across a forum during my searches. A woman had written that she found a box full of "old, old, OLD" records. I'm guessing she must not be very old herself, judging by her accentuation and over-usage of the word 'old'. Anyway, she listed about ten of these albums including "An Evening with Chuck Cabot and His Orchestra." The best part is that it was autographed by everyone in the band including one John Davenport, my grandfather. She listed an e-mail address if anyone was interested in these, but unfortunately the e-mail is no longer an active address. Crap!
Someday, though, I'll find this album. "No matter how long. No matter how far. Stay alive! I will find you. I will find you!" Sorry. I sometimes randomly quote movies. That was Last of the Mohicans in case you were curious.

Merry Christmas!!!

Fixed Photo

Here is an example of the power of GIMP! The puddle was a distraction to the natural beauty of the photo, so it got the boot. Thanks, GIMP!

Picture Practice

Last night, my wife and I went to dinner with our friends, James and Jennie, at Thai House. The food was exquisite. The atmosphere was warm and inviting. The service was friendly. The owners were photographed with Don Johnson. It was a perfect meal.

After dinner, we went downtown and took some photos in Jordan Valley Park. We took advantage of the endless background possibilities and took lots of pictures of ourselves in front of various things. Here is a picture without us in it that I thought turned out really nice. Minus the puddle.

I'll use GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) to take that puddle out of the picture later. GIMP is basically a free version of Photoshop. It is a little difficult for non-computer savvy people to figure out exactly what all is needed to be downloaded for it to run, but it's a good thing that I'm here to help.

I was in the spirit of Christmas today and I was racking my brain trying to come up with a gift that I could give all of my blog readers (as if I don't give enough already to you people). I finally came up with something (give, give, give...that's all I do). I decided to give the gift that keeps on giving. I give you GIMP. I added a link that takes you straight to the download page of Just click on the little cartoon guy with the book found just under my Firefox link on the right side of this page. Be advised: this link takes you to the page of downloads for Windows users. If you use something else then you'll have to back out a bit to get to the downloads for your operating system. But, I took all the work out of it. Just download the program and then download the help sections that I just learned about and you'll be on your way to taking photos from good to great!

The best part of this gift is that I didn't have to pay for it. I didn't have to write the program. I didn't even have to wrap it. The only thing I had to do was a little bit of coding to get this personalized link. Unfortunately, while there were several Firefox buttons pre-made to choose from, there are no GIMP buttons available. Oh, well. I'm geeky enough to make my own.


St. Louis Trip

This last Friday we ran to St. Louis to see Jodi's sister, Diana, graduate from Interior Design School. We stayed the night and hung out all day Saturday. We had a lot of fun. Although, I must warn you about something important, but not well known. If you stay anywhere near the business district right off I-55 don't expect to walk to a restaurant on the weekend. Apparently, while there are a large number of eateries in the area, they are all closed on Saturday. I'm not sure of the exact number of miles that we walked, but if we had walked straight from the hotel to the mall where we ate it would have been 1.4 miles one way. However, we walked all over the business district first before we could determine that there were no open restaurants down there. And that was a back and forth loopty-loop circle-around sort of thing as it was.

I was alright with the walk. After all, I probably need it and a lot more just like it, but the real hero in this story is my wife, Jodi. This champ is 46 days away from having a baby and she was keeping up with everyone like a ten-year-old on caffeine pills. What a trooper!

I got really excited this weekend when Jodi's cousin, Omar, gave me a lesson in night-time photography. I was out on Diana's deck attempting to capture the magnificent view of the Arch, but I just couldn't get it. They all kept turning out too dark. My camera has a lot of presets, if you will, with the settings that allow the photographer to kind of choose what's best for a particular shot, but everything that was remotely close to a night-time shot wouldn't get it. It has a manual setting that allows you to adjust different things, but I didn't know what they all meant and was therefore a little apprehensive in screwing with them. But, Omar came out and clicked around on the camera a little and then took a couple shots as a test and this was one of them. I threw up my hands and yelled, "Sweet!" I knew that there was a way to get these shots, but I just didn't know how. He ran through what all the manual settings mean and now I have the power! Beautiful shot, eh?

New Slideshow

International Harvester

About two weeks ago a friend of Jodi's aunt brought over several large boxes full of clothes and had told us to go through them and take what we could use and give away or donate the rest. We got a couple shirts for Jacob out of the deal, but aside from that there wasn't much in our sizes. So, we passed on the fortune to several others. But before doing so Jodi did save one shirt that she recognized as an International shirt. No, the shirt hasn't traveled the world like those magic pants that managed to create a sisterhood. International. As in the manufacturer of diesel trucks. Her dad drove one at one point in time. So, she decided to keep it and use it as a sleeping shirt.

I was moving some stuff around in the living room including these boxes and saw this retro-looking number and had to check it out. I turned it over and read the front and couldn't believe it! It was an original International Harvester Springfield, Missouri Renew Center t-shirt!

Let me fill you in as to why it obviously excites me. In the late 70's, International Harvester was having serious financial problems and was suffering some major losses. It started to shut down certain facilities as a last hope to save itself. It started with the larger plants and it looked like the Springfield Renew Center, which was smaller in comparison to others, had dodged a bullet. However, the bullet came around in 1982 and about 300 people showed up to work one Monday morning to find the doors locked.

Jack Stack and 12 other managers from the Renew Center got together and came up with a plan to buy the plant and hire back who they could to open it back up, thus saving their jobs and many others. Months went by and no one would give these guys a loan. The problem was that they knew how to build engines, but they didn't know the financials of a business. They finally found one bank who was crazy or desperate enough to give them a chance. International sold them the plant for $50 Million dollars. They managed to pay it back and be totally debt free in less than 3 years.

This shirt excites me because it's a piece of the history of my job. I work for (SRC) Springfield ReManufacturing Corporation, Heavy Duty Division. I work in the same building that used to be International Harvester Renew Center. We still build the 400 series International Engines(Legend series). This shirt is in excellent condition! It must be at least 23 years old and could very well possibly be older than I am.

As a sidenote, International Harvester re-invented themselves and has become a stable and steadily growing company ever since. They are now known as International Truck and Engine Corporation (or ITEC as those in the business know it). You may recognize their current logo as shown below.
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Useless Information (part two)

S.O.S pads. Where did they come from? Well, hold on to your butts, because I'm about to tell you.

It starts back in 1917 with a travelling door-to-door pot salesman named Edwin Cox. Yes, I said pot. But, he was selling pots to cook in, not marijuana. Now some of the pots that he sold may still be around today being used to cook meth in, but that's another story.

As the story goes, Mr. Cox was a terrible salesman. For whatever reason, he just couldn't sell pots like the other pot salesmen who were making a great living. So, he decided that he needed a gimmick.Looking back at the very short complaint list that he had he realized that the most-popular complaint was that food stuck to the pans. So, he got to work. He took rolls of steel wool (largely used in the automotive industry at this time for cleaning) and formed flattenned balls with a handful at a time. He then dipped these into a bucket of very condensed soapy water and let them dry.

Housewives began to let him through their doors at the prospect of getting something for free. He gave one pad away to any woman who would listen to his sales pitch. He wasn't any more successful with sales, however orders started coming in for his soap pads. He quickly quit his pot selling job (which is good since it's wrong) and started up a small company making these cleansing marvels.

The next problem was that they didn't have a name, but Mrs. Cox had a solution. She had been calling them S.O.S. pads which stood for "save our saucepans." The name was born.

Now, some people think that there was a typographical error with the box, since it is missing the last period after the last "S". But, the reason for this is that S.O.S. was and still is a famous distress signal and could not be patented. So, by removing the last piece of punctuation the name became unique enough for the U.S. Patent Office to accept.

As a sidenote, most people think SOS, the universal distress call, means "Save Our Ships" or "Save Our Souls", but neither is correct. In reality, the three letters do not stand for anything. When Samuel Morse developed the Morse Code, he needed a simple distress call, one that those with little knowledge of the code could do. Only O and S consist of three identical signals. The O is three dashes and the S is three dots. Since a dot is shorter than a dash, he decided on SOS to minimize the time to transmit.

And, this has been another addition to the Library of Useless Information.

High School Reunion

Next summer is the summer of my ten-year high school reunion. I can and can't believe that it has been ten years. It's like there is really two parts of me. One heard that it had been ten years and dropped his jaw like Wile E. Coyote after seeing the Roadrunner run right through the rock with a picture of a tunnel painted on it. The other one just shrugged his shoulders and said, "yup." After all, a lot has happened to me since I was a young pup. First, I've grown wiser. Not to say, I'm wise, but I can definitely say that I WAS stupid and I'm not as stupid as I was. We all were, though. And, yet, I remember being smarter than the whole world. I remember seeing and embracing the truths that the world neglected or were just naive to. I remember how we were going to be different and how we weren't going to conform to society. Society was largely comprised of lemmings who just ran the rat-race every day for "success." Success was misunderstood, though. As far as the world was concerned, success was all about quantity and quality of possessions. The measurement of success was easily seen. However, we knew better. We knew that life was meant to be happy and enjoyable and that success had nothing to do with
possessions and everything to do with happiness.

Of course, we never did come up with a plan of how we were going to be so much happier than society and not "run the rat-race." It was your basic rebellious teenager crap. We thought that if you worked for a company ("the man") you were automatically a lemming. We made a lot of assumptions about the naivety of adults. But, we were right about one thing. Success as I define it today is: stable happiness. Everyone has their ups and downs, but true success is being happy with your situation continually. It's having stability in your happiness. It's knowing that no matter what happens, you'll be able to deal with it and while you may experience a little boat-rocking the sailing after the storm will be smooth and straight again. Wow. That was an amazing metaphor. Someone give me a golf clap.

With this ten-year reunion coming, I've found myself volunteering to help with the collection of contact information. I've utilized a great free tool from Google that allows you to upload and edit a spreadsheet. The cool part about it is that multiple people can be logged on to it at the same time and be updating it and all the changed made are updated in real time. So, I can see other people making changes to it while I'm making changes. It's great. This way, all of the people who are collecting the contact info can put it on this sheet, so that no one is doubling or tripling our effort. I call it the "Class of '97 Contact Information Collection Effort Compilation." What do you think?

Christmas Monkey

I've never worked at a company that have had one of those Christmas parties that you hear about where employees get drunk, lose their inhibitions, and wind up giving their bosses a wedgie or something. Instead, I work for SRC who has had such terrible outcomes to their outings that they purposefully set out to find the most "family-friendly" environments. This year's party was at the Family YMCA. They rented out the whole thing which was great for Jacob, but a little boring for Jodi and I. I'm too smart to get all energetic around my co-workers. If my boss sees me running around he'll know that I can physically work harder than I do and then he'll start expecting me to do so. Jodi's carrying around a basketball already, but has trouble making a basket with it. She seems a little attached to it or something. But, Jacob had a blast. There were several other kids there that he got to play with so that's nice. Other kids = no required effort from us.
They give away door prizes every year and Jodi and I both had our eyes on a fancy new ladder. It would have come in handy for our home improvement projects that we will be taking on sooner or later. But, the drawing for that came and went. I got stuck with a jacket. I'm not complaining, though. Well, yeah I am.
Anyway, Jacob climbed the rock wall like a pro. It was his first time, but he did such a good job climbing that he actually got applause when he made it to the top on his first try. He came back down and said, "I told you that I was half monkey, half boy." He was proud. So am I.

Mall shoppin'

I'm afraid that it happened. I was walking through the Battlefield Mall today carrying a shopping bag. It was a very small shopping bag, but a shopping bag nonetheless. Jodi and I went there today to get a couple things. One of the things to obtain was this year's Christmas ornament. Jodi decided to start this tradition three years ago and purchase a neat new Christmas ornament every year. We would make this purchase together and we'd mark it someway with the year in which we got it. This year we got a very appropriately themed ornament. Pictured above, you'll see that this year's theme is home improvement. We just put in our first ever offer on a house. We should find out by Tuesday night if they've accepted, declined, or counter-offered our offer. Hopefully it will be the first one, but we'll see.
While at the mall, Jodi and I made some funny observations. We've decided that receiving a present from the mall should mean more to people. If the gift-giver had to fight for a parking place, walk a mile of ice-laden asphalt, walk the halls of a shopping mall completely surrounded by thousands of individuals carrying more kinds of flu viruses than kinds of shopping bags, stand in restless lines similar to the ones in preschool, pay an exorbitant amount of money for a brand name, and finally fight through traffic to get away then that really says a lot about the gift. What, then, I wonder, does it say about the home-made gifts that we're giving a lot of people? Home-made doesn't sound quite so glamorous anymore, does it?
Anyway, as we pointed out to each other, we weren't there buying for anyone but ourselves. So, what does that say about us? I never knew that we were that selfish.

3rd Yeariversary!

Yesterday was mine and Jodi's third yeariversary! We're really excited about it even though the day would've come and gone without our notice if it hadn't been for Jodi's sudden epiphany last night right before we went to sleep. But, either way it's still a momentous milestone in our lives.
You know, it just dawned on me that maybe you don't know what a yeariversary is. It's the anniversary to the day we met. We would call it our Anniversary, but then people would get confused as to when we were married. And, saying, "It's our third anniversary to the day in which we met" is cumbersome and takes too long. Then, people ask who we met? You see where that just gets too complicated? It's much easier to write a big old long blog about it. Hee hee.
It actually started years ago back before yeariversaries were invented. They started as weekiversaries and then morphed into monthiversaries. I'm sure you see the pattern formed here. So, if you would like to use the terms that you have learned here today in your own relationships, then Jodi and I both approve of you doing so and we hereby release any intellectual properties and binding ownership addendums to you. We herein allow the afforementioned terms be made public real property and concede any further allottments or entitlements.

Three Years! Wow!
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Time to wake up...

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI have a story from a long time ago that I thought I'd share with you. It all started with the transition from morning person to night owl. As a child I was always a morning person. I awoke before my whole family. I remember the mornings watching paid programming while I waited for the cartoons to start at 6:00 a.m.
As a seventeen-year-old who had liberated himself from the restrictions of a parental monarchy (in other words: I moved out), I would stay up until I just couldn't stay up any longer. My friends were the same way. We would scoff at those who went to sleep as if sleeping were some obvious sign of weakness. Sleepers were a new lame sub-species of humans in our eyes. Unfortunately for some of my friends, the lowered I.Q. resulting from the sleep depravity caused them to seek alertness through illegal means. However, that was some time ago and they're all better now.
So, from this transformation spawned a new lifestyle. Once finally succumbing to the sleepiness, I would fall into a deep sleep hovering somewhere between coma and corpse. The new problem was that I could no longer awake from the sounds emanating from my old alarm clock. So a new alarm clock would need to be purchased. This finally brings me up to my story. I have a tendency to draw out stories if you haven't noticed already. I suppose it didn't need so much history, but I like history, so there!
I go to Wal-Mart with a friend of mine and start alarm clock shopping. If you've never gone alarm clock shopping, you should. It's interesting to say the least. There were probably twenty to choose from which is pretty good for Wal-Mart, I must say. Some of these clocks were nothing short of hilarious. For example, one was shaped like a teardrop from the side view. It had a low center of gravity and would rock back and forth much like the inflatable clowns that kids beat up just to have the clown pop back up for more. The purpose of this feature was that all you had to do in the morning to activate the snooze was to get it rocking. It eliminated the frantic button locating frenzy. But, isn't that what wakes you up? Another clock came equipped with a ten-foot wired remote. The remote consisted of one big snooze button with a double sided sticky square so that you could stick it anywhere. Seriously, people, how lazy can you be? There were a couple more that have escaped me, but between lazy snooze button remotes and self-setting atomic clocks, I got to wondering who comes up with junk like this. That's when it all made sense. Made in Japan. They think we're so lazy and stupid. And obviously, we are because I'm the only person taking offense to these apparent slaps in the face. Oh well.
So, in conclusion, if you ever see one of these contraptions in someone's house, you can giggle to yourself that they are being laughed at by the entire nation of Japan and they don't even know it.

Cold Winter Chill

We definitely live in the Ozarks. Just in case you're not familiar with this region, there is a saying around here that goes a little something like this, "If you don't like the weather, just stick around for five minutes and it'll change." The last 48 hours have been a testimony of sorts to this truth. 48 hours ago it was 70 degrees and sunny. 24 hours ago it was in the 60's and perfect. Right now it is soaking wet and literally freezing with a forecast claiming that it'll just get colder. The Ozarks is really the only region in which you can suffer from sunburns with swimsuit tanlines and from frostbite at the same time.
Anyhoo, it's 8:26 AM right now and I am home. I got to work this morning at 5:30 and the power went out at 7:00. They sent us home, which is unusual, because City Utilities told our General Manager that power would not be restored for most of the day at the least. I guess that ice must've taken over the sub-power station on the west side. My work is on the west edge of town and I didn't hit a stoplight that worked until about two miles into town. It's a total free-for-all out there. The west side is getting hit pretty bad, even though it looks alright over here on the east side.
So, since you probably already saw the picture in this post, let me explain it to you. This was my welcome to work. This truck driver was unfortunate enough to slip into the black oblivion that we call our ditch up at my work. I took this photo with my phone from our parking lot. I guess CTI will have to fix our destroyed fence while they're at it. Don't worry, the driver is okay. He left with the tow truck that decided that he would have to be unloaded before they could do anything for him. So, speaking of free-for-all, I wonder what is in his trailer? Hmm? Just kidding. I'm not a thief. But, I am an avid dumpster-diver. Which means that I'll be, in all likelihood, checking the CTI dumpsters over the course of the next two days. You think I'm joking again, don't you? I'm an opportunist, what do you expect? Anyway, I just thought that I would allow you to enjoy the spectacle of 80 feet worth of overturned transportation machinery. Enjoy. And, be safe out there this winter!

Big News!

YYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!!! The impossible has happened! Jodi and I have been approved for a home loan!!! And at a pretty decent rate I might add. This was definitely God's doing, because we know it wasn't ours. I've worked pretty hard at my disreputable, un-credit-worthy image, and Jodi has worked rather hard at being non-existent at a credit standpoint. So, trust me, getting this pre-approval is nothing less than a miracle. It is a glorious day!
Now comes the fun part. We have many things that we are looking for in a house, so there will be many aspects to consider. Some requirements are bendable, but still more are not, so we will be extremely picky about it, no doubt. It must be large first of all. We want space! We are crafty, refurbishing hobbyists not to mention our chronic packraticism. So space is a must! Also, I want a garage. Once a garage is in my possession I will make the Valiant completely road-worthy which won't take much. Then, I'll start stripping my Ford down and give it the look that it deserves. Once the Ford is all pretty, it'll be the Valiant's turn. We also require structural style. My wife and I are far too unique to live in a box. And, it must have a good foundation. Most of what Jodi and I want to do to a house is cosmetic. We will strip it down to the framing if need be, but I really want to stay away from having to replace existing framing. I can replace floor beams and I have no trouble adding walls or opening up a room by removing a non-load-bearing wall, but I don't want to deal with re-framing something for the sole purpose of fixing a structural problem. And finally, the last and most important issue will be the house's ability to be fixed up and bring a profit. If I haven't mentioned it already, this house will be a springboard for us to buy, fix up, and sell. We will do this as many times as it takes to eventually buy a house outright or build exactly where we want to live. We will probably continue to do this even after we settle on a place. We just won't need to live in them while we do it after that. Which is good since we'll be able to turn them faster.
Anyway, I'm clearly very excited. But, I'll keep y'all informed.

Professional Beginnings

Saturday morning I woke up around 9:00 and got up quietly so I wouldn't wake Jodi. Prego girls need their sleep. Anyway, Jacob and I were both just sitting around not being productive, so I decided to make a trip to Wal-Mart and get some stuff for taking pictures. I bought 8 yards of black material, 2 halogen lighting fixtures, and some lithium batteries to replace the ones I killed over the weekend. I did nothing with this stuff until last night. I decided to go ahead and take on the project that I had in mind Saturday morning. I took the 24' x 4' black shroud and (with Jodi's help) did a lot of cutting and sewing until we wound up with a 12' x 8' black photo background fully equipped with a looped top to accomodate for the break-down-able rod that holds it up. Since we got it all put together and I live with a model, we took some photos to test it out. They turned out great! However, I am going to pick up some black posterboard to direct the halogen lighting away from the background so that it becomes the black void that I intend it to be. I also will need to pick up some thin rope to run through the rod so that I'll have an easy time hanging it and moving it where I need it. I'm very satisfied with my very small investment so far. Here is a small taste of one of the many photos that I took.

Funny Video from Thanksgiving

I love to take pictures and so it works out great that my wife loves to have her picture taken. She comes from a long line of posers who immediately change their look when a lens is spotted. This video is evidence of the aforementioned posing. Here is three of the third generation posers.

Useless Information (part one)

It's been a little while since I wrote a blog and I'm terribly ashamed of this. By writing extremely interesting pieces that change my reader's lives, I have set a standard that I must keep up with. I apologize for the suspense, but without further ado...
I have decided to start a series of writings that will help fill in the gaps between my other blogs. The only problem was that I couldn't think of an appropriately interesting theme for my series. I was thinking long and hard and suffering some considerable mental anguish over this before it came to me in a self-given complaint, "everything you know, Levi, is useless!" Out of that put-down to myself came the idea. I will be writing a series (of which you already know the theme due to the title of this blog) entitled "Useless Information." Between my normal blogs I will give you a bit of info that you will definitely find useless. However, you will find yourselves pleasantly entertained as well as a little more knowledgeable after the fact. So, here is part one. Enjoy!

I recently was having a conversation with a fellow co-worker about something. I forget now the content of the discussion, but the outcome was what I remembered. Whatever it was that we suddenly disagreed with each other on prompted us to look up the definitions of a couple of words to settle the disagreement. The two words were "nerd" and "geek". The former had a much expected definition while the latter was somewhat appalling. "Geek" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake." This was the first definition listed for geek. There were two more that defined a geek how most of us would normally define it. My question is, "Would Ozzy Osbourne be considered a geek even though he worked concerts not carnivals and it was a bat and not a chicken?" I thought that Merriam-Webster's entry for "nerd" was really interesting. The definition was about normal, but it was the origin that I found intriguing. Apparently, a nerd was a creature in a Dr. Seuss book. Like in all Dr. Seuss books he explains the nature of all the creatures in the story. In his descriptive account he lists about all the attributes of a nerd as he sees it. Our modern definition mirrors his description of his invented creature. The book is If I Ran The Zoo. I think that it's interesting how an author of children's books could invent a word that millions of people use daily. So, from now on when you hear the word "nerd" remember the legacy of Dr. Seuss.

If you don't succeed...

Well, here we go again. It's time to once again try our luck at obtaining financing for purchasing a home. We have been down this road before and we have met many useless smiling faces. These faces were full of empty promises and confidence-building absolute statements, but when it came down to the nitty gritty they dropped us like a hot potato in a circle of one. Finally, we ran across a decent loan officer at First Home National Bank (plug, plug). When he ran our credit report and saw some issues with it he didn't just drop us. Instead, he told us what was wrong with our credit report and what I needed to do to improve it. There was a couple things that needed to be cleaned up which just took a series of phone calls to a series of places. There was also an unpaid item that needed to be paid, which we did. Now that we have used the suggested corrective action and also waited the thirty days for the changes to be posted to our credit report, we are now ready to try again. Hopefully, he was correct in his assessment of our situation and he'll be able to get us pre-approved for a home loan now. That would be nice. We're definitely ready to get a place that we can work on. So, say a prayer for us!

As requested...

SRC Leadership University Graduating Class of 2006

I'm the second from the right. You can click on the picture and it will bring it up bigger on your screen. Here are all 23 of us with our two main trainers, Brenda Descamps (far left) and Dan Spore (far right).

My Pree sentation

Some of you knew about it. Some of you didn't. Last Thursday was graduation day for the SRC Leadership University Class of 2006. This graduation meant a lot to me after all I had never before been part of a graduation ceremony. I graduated high school in the summer after my senior year, because I flunked out my senior second semester due to a lack of attendance. See, I moved out at 17 and had a full-time job and was atempting to go to school full-time as well. I would've done just fine doing it except that I was also partying full-time. Anyway, by flunking out I saw the error in my ways and straightened up and graduated by way of summer school. Since I never went to college, I never got the opportunity to graduate from college. Crazy how that works.
Unlike a normal cap and gown graduation we didn't just go up front when our name was called, smile, and accept a rolled up diploma. We were basically asked to pay our way through these classes by coming up with a project. Throughout the whole seven month course we were to be thinking "outside of the box" and putting together a business plan that would either save the Corporation thousands of dollars or could become another business altogether under the "corporate umbrella." So, our graduation day included a presentation (pree-sentation) of our proposals to all of Corporate. All the heavy-hitters throughout the corporation would be in attendance and would be critiquing (sp) and would be asking us to apply our projects and giving us a budget if that's what the proposal called for.
Naturally, there was a lot of sweating involved. But, everyone did a fantastic job and my project got a lot of attention which sometimes can be a bad thing, but not this time. Anyway, I enjoyed the whole thing once my presentation was done and out of the way.

It's Voting Day!

It's that day again when all brain-functioning adults are to go to the polls and prove that they aren't just complainers, but American citizens who'll actually do something about what they talk about. What I mean by this is simple: If you don't vote today, then I don't want to hear you complain about gas prices, our deficient school systems, the amount of taxes taken out of your paychecks, the war in Iraq, etc. I personally can't stand to hear someone talk about what they believe in when they don't back it up at the polls. If you believe that you're paying too many taxes and nothing good is coming from it then research who is running and vote accordingly. If you think that it's not right that we have hundreds of thousands of our military personnel in some other country then research the candidates and vote accordingly. I think you get the idea. I have heard so many people say that it doesn't matter and that it makes no difference and blah, blah, blah. It just comes out sounding like a spoiled child whining about not having enough Christmas gifts on Christmas morning. People died so that you can vote. My family. Your family. They all lived hard and died hard so that we could have a better life than they did, but here we are and so many of us see it getting worse and worse every year and so many of us are too chicken to make it better for our kids and their kids. What a bunch of spoiled brats and cowards we are.
If the trend continues with our current Corporation-owned government the people are certain to eventually revolt when they are pushed too far. They will refuse to pay taxes and be subject to the government that is stripping them of their rights. The Corporate-owned media will call it something that it isn't and America will be split between those that see the truth and stand to defend it and those who are blind to the truth. The military will be called in and will cause further division when the military doesn't fully agree on how to act. Civil war breaks out and lives are lost as our government falls apart for lack of allegience. Smaller local governments start back up over time and make themselves into small nations. The states are no longer united. Chaos ensues.
This is just a possibility that I may have gone too far with the imagination with. Or is it? It has happened before, hasn't it? America makes us feel secure and most of us can't imagine such a thing happening, but imagine it. Where will you stand? Where do you stand today? Who do you want in office today? Who do you not want representing you and your interests? Who represents and will fight, not work, but fight for what you believe to be the most important things?
All I am saying by this blog is that you should get out and vote. Do it for you kids. Do it for yourself. Do it to show your government that you're not a lemming.

Some Pictures

New Neighbor

We have a brand new neighbor. I saw him (or her) moving into a freshly dug hole underneath one of the landscaping logs/railroad ties that separate our driveway from our front yard. He's definitely a city bunny since he wouldn't run off until I got closer than about seven feet away. And, even then he she only hops enough distance to keep that seven foot safety area. I like this neighbor the best already. Unlike our other neighbors, (we'll call him a boy just so I no longer have to refer to both sexes when using a pronoun for it) he doesn't burn questionable firewood that almost smokes us out of our house, he doesn't grind/sand/bang out/weld the various body parts to his and every other low rider vehicle in town all night long, he doesn't smoke weed and smell up the whole street while doing it (or at least I think that it wasn't him), and he doesn't come knocking on our door at 7:00 in the morning to explain to us that he's not crazy. He's really quiet and almost unseen really. As far as I can tell he's single so I don't need to worry about him populating up our front yard or anything. I think that this new neighbor will really work out. And here is a good shot I got of him. Also, just in case you didn't know, you can click on any picture that I load into these blogs and it will open up the page that I have them stored on so that you can see them nice and big.

Happy Halloween!

Well, it's that time of year again. It's that wonderful time to use your creativity and come up with a fake persona for an evening. We were going for a "Cleaver family era" look. We get to also put my '59 Ford to good use and let it play its role as well. It was a fun evening at Andy & Bridget's on Saturday night despite the little fact that the boys lost to the girls in a game of Trivial Pursuit. We intend to dress up again Tuesday. Jodi will once again bake a fresh apple pie to top off her costume of which we will delight in eating afterwards. The pie, not the costume.
If you have been reading my blogs for some time back in my MySpace Blog days (a link to my old MySpace blog can be found on the right, in the links list) then you might remember a particular blog that I wrote back in June that showed what was going on in the world back when my '59 was new. I followed that list of "at-the-time-current events" with a sidenote daydream that went as follows:

I bet that the first owner of my truck was some farmer that went out on a limb to splurge on this automotive marvel. I bet that he and his wife would cruise into town on their way to the monthly church banquet. He would be in his best tweed suit. She would be in her favorite poofy dress and be carrying a freshly baked hot apple pie in her lap. As they rolled down the street people would gawk at the beautifully crafted mechanical masterpiece. The 223 straight-six would exert a throaty growl as it accelerated through the curves of Main Street. After the behemoth was parked in the best parking place no doubt reserved just for it young men would gather around it and discuss its complex and brilliant design and hope for permission from the owner to touch it.

This was me going off on a tangent. But, Jodi had suggested that we do just this for Halloween. And, alas we have. Have a happy Halloween!

Our relaxing weekend

My wife and I are busy people. Sometimes, we get so caught up in busy-ness that we actually have to schedule and plan a relaxing weekend. And even other times we have to pick up and leave town to stay relaxed for any amount of time. (sidenote: Earlier I said "busy-ness". This was very much on purpose. I wanted to stress the "busy" part and I also did not want to confuse the reader into thinking that I own a business. That time I meant business like bizness. Or maybe bidness if that's how you pronounce it. I just would like to clarify that I can spell and that public schools in Missouri may get a bad rap, but they get the job done. Are we clear on this? Good. I new yall id getit!)

So, we packed up and headed for the bluff. Poplar Bluff that is. It may be 182 miles from Springfield, but if that's what it takes to have a good reason to not work, then it's a short trip and a small price to pay. We started out Saturday morning by waking up dark and early. Yes, I said dark. And my wife decided for us to sleep in, so we did. Who's gonna argue their way out of bed with a hot blonde? That's right. Nobody. One cookie for you. So, we left a little after the time we originally intended on arriving there, but that's okay. We got there and relaxed for a bit and then ate and relaxed some more. We then went and rented some movies and got a driving tour of Historic Downtown Poplar Bluff. Then, we ate at a five-star chinese restaurant. Gabe and I went bowling while Jodi did Becky's hair. (my scores: 179, 141, 228, 192 I'm awesome) Then back home for a relaxing movie Thank You For Smoking. Up late watching Iron Chef. Sleeping in Sunday and following it with a Sunday afternoon drive through Mingo National Park and Recreation Area. Then, more relaxing until we finally took the relaxing drive home. Here is a good picture I got of Jodi relaxin'. Have I said 'relaxing' too much for one blog?

A good movie choice...

We rented a good movie last night and I thought that I would officially recommend it by writing a personal review. The movie is Brick. It's one of those independent films that carries a recommendation on the cover from one of the well known film festivals of which the name escapes me. Maybe Sundance? Anyway, I found it to be an excellent movie. It starts out in the middle of the movie and then backs up to show you the events leading up to it. It catches up to it rather quickly (maybe 20 minutes in) and then the movie gets thrust into action from there. I won't ruin the movie by discussing any of it's plot so don't worry. But, I will say that the movie has a somewhat unique style. It is written in a "Cloak and Dagger" mystery/action/thriller style. You know the movies where a crime takes place and someone takes it upon themselves to solve the mystery. Well, this movie is quite the same. There's a drug lord, the rebellious "muscle", the big money drug sellers, the punk street gang, and various other powerful groups. What makes this movie unique from the others that fall in this category, though, is that this movie takes place in a high school. All the characters are purposefully written to be ridiculously adult-like, super-serious, cunningly intelligent, and melodramatic. It's interesting to see a movie where they take all these qualities and tie them into a movie entirely made up of teenagers. The ridiculousness isn't lost on the writers, though. They don't seriously think that life is like that in high school. They prove this by adding in some humor amidst all the drama in strategic places making fun of itself in a way.
Overall, it's highly entertaining with some great twists and some edge-of-your-seat mystery thrills. A great rental! Check it out.

Hmm... which one should I vote for?

(spoken like George from Seinfeld) Well, they've done it now! I'm getting really angry here!

I'm so mad right now. First of all, I no longer fall for the old trick that the Democrats and Republicans pull every election year. They both use their corporate influence and their blood money to convince voting Americans that there is really only two people to choose from in the elections. The sad thing is that most people fall for it. They go with the "sucker's choice." What's a sucker's choice, you say? I'm glad you asked. It's a cheap argument tactic. Here's how it goes: "Of course I'm going to drive to Kansas City! What do you expect me to do? Take a magic carpet?" It's the classic sucker's choice when the argumentative person shuts down constructive conversation by making a statement that would insinuate that there are only two ways of doing something. Their way or a completely absurd way. Naturally, the other person is left to either agree with their choice or sound defensive while they feebly try to explain their way back to making sense. Meanwhile, the original cause of the argument remains unargued. Understand?

Well, here is my problem. Claire McCaskill and Jim Talent agreed to have a debate and televise it on one of our local stations. They also, however, denied any other candidates invitation to said debate. And when another candidate attempted to request permission to join the debate they were denied any contact with anyone who would answer them. So, what is a political debate if two parties only allow themselves and no one else? Are they afraid of having someone make both of them look bad? Is it possible then that they are working together at least to some extent to make everyone believe that there are only two candidates?

I was planning on voting against them anyway, but they secured their demises when they had KY3 cut into regularly scheduled programming to air their debate. Do you know what they cut into? Let me tell you. They cut into Heroes!!! I will now see to it that both of them lose this election! I will use all my political power to see to it that both Claire McCaskill and Jim Talent will be in the Unemployment line by January. How dare they?!

Be a Hero and vote Libertarian!

Attention: Heroes watchers!

I'm sorry, but I must take back something I said in my last blog:

Past episodes of Heroes cannot be watched on YouTube.

I'm not sure who to blame on this one. It may be YouTube itself removing these videos or maybe it was them pressured by NBC. I don't know the exact events surrounding the removal of the past episodes from YouTube, but I will say this, "what?!" I personally have no interest at stake here, after all I've seen all the episodes to date, because I was one of the lucky ones who watched the illegal videos before they were ripped away from the copyright nazis. However, I can't help but defend the poor people out there who are just like me and actually might want to watch a decent television series and also have the added benefit of making sense out of it by having seen all the shows to date. I have to give credit to NBC, though. They do have on their website the most recent episode, but there were two others before it that they don't care enough about to leave up. I would think that they would leave at least the first three up. After all, it can only benefit them by getting brain-dead, television watching Americans to get hooked on their smack. We'll all come back begging for more and then NBC gets to shove a bunch of expensive advertising slots into our strung-out faces. Don't think that we don't know how this works, NBC. We're pretty smart television addicts. We'll go to your supplier and cut you out of the deal, Nazi Broadcasting Company!!! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!AAYYIIIIAAAYYII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew! Sorry about that. Flashback from Nam. Sometimes the Agent Orange starts running the show upstairs, if you know what I mean. Anyway, so just for the record: I did not lie. You could watch the show on YouTube. I am not responsible for the upkeep on those videos nor for their sudden unexpected removal. I also would like to point out that I was not wrong. I was indeed correct if even just for a limited time. I admit no wrong doing nor will there be any apologies. Not by me. I'm perfect.

I was merely trying to build some support for a show, because the lack of support burned me in the past. Remember about 8 months ago a show called Reunion? FOX had started it up and ran about 5 maybe 6 episodes and then cut it from the schedule. The show was a good idea. It was a murder-mystery based at a 20-year high school reunion and every episode represented one year. 20 episodes was the season and for every episode the plot grew and the possible motives also increased. My wife and I got into the show and now like all the other Reunion watchers we will probably never know how it ended or who dunnit. Thanks, FOX. You suck.

I'm not getting burnt again. So, even if you missed the first two episodes there is still time to catch last Monday's episode on the NBC website. Then tune into NBC on Monday nights at eight o'clock for all new episodes. I need your support!

Maybe Television Is Not So Bad...

Ok, ok. I know I mouth our modern day television programming a lot. I can't help it. I never find anything that I want to watch. There's those shows that I don't mind watching to kill an hour or to be entertained with while we get a chance to relax for once, but no station ever comes up with something that I feel I just can't miss. That is, until now. NBC is doing something different. They're using an age-old idea, but modernizing it and bringing the story of it once a week into our living rooms. Heroes. The idea for the show is not all that creative what with Superman, Batman, and the like being hit shows back in the 40's and 50's. The thing is super-heroes are loved by the majority of people, however their popularity tends to fluctuate between different audiences. One generation will find super-hero stories appropriate only for children and call them kids activities, while apparently our generation has never let go of them and because of that there becomes a huge rise in super-hero story popularity. Think about it. X-Men, Fantastic Four, Electra, Unbreakable, The Punisher, Batman Begins, and the list goes on and on. In the last 6 years or so there has been noticible growth in the demand for these stories.

I for one have been part of that demand. I love super-heroes. Everyone at one point or another wonders what it would be like to be able to breathe under water, fly, be invincible, turn invisible, etc. I'm no different. I've thought about it. admit it. You have, too.

Well, this new show is good. It's got me waiting for Monday. That's saying a lot. I also admire the lack of in-your-face-advertising for this show. Since about July, I think, there have been commercials for this show, but they were spread out in such a way that you never saw more than one commercial a week. They were careful not to annoy everyone about it before the show actually started. How often does that happen? I've despised a lot of things for no other reason than their annoying advertising.

I haven't yet watched an episode on television yet. Jodi and I have watched the first three episodes on the internet at our convenience. So, just in case, you think it's too late to get to see them in order, you're wrong. With a search through YouTube you can watch the first two episodes and you can always watch the most recent episode straight from NBC's website. Just Google "Heroes" and it's the first link they'll give you.

What's my motivation?

I guess, I'm losing steam on this whole blog writing thing. I've been really busy with work and fun lately. At work, I'm in the SRC Leadership Academy and am spending a lot of time trying to get my project together. We are presenting in front of the "big-wigs" in four weeks from now. It has to be a 20 minute presentation. It's going well, but there is still much work and adjustments to be made as well as speeches to memorize.
Outside of work it seems that my wife and I are in a hurry to get as many activities in as we can before it gets too cold to do anything. Maybe we'll slow down when it drops below freezing, but until then we're getting passed around like a hot potato.
Then, of course, there was my gimp-maker injury. I twisted my ankle while working in the backyard on a fun little project. One minute I was gathering up all my tools to put up in the shed and the next minute I was hitting the cement. I got right back up with some serious pain in my ankle, but unlike the days of old when I would just get back up and go on, I'm apparently too aged for that these days. I couldn't put weight on it for almost 18 hours and even then I looked like an old war veteran or a pirate with a peg leg. Or Forrest Gump as a kid. You get the point, right? Anyway, just two days after my debilitating injury I got sick. I had flu-like symptoms for eight days. I must say, though, the weight loss from it looks pretty good on me. Eight pounds lost!
Anyway, that catches you up a little bit. If I decide to continue writing about my very cartoon-like life then I'll let you know. Have a great day and smile about something.

I'm sorry...I'm back!

I've been neglecting my blog page, I know. I promise that it has not been on purpose. I bet you guys must be picturing me laying around the house watching television and stuffing my face with potato chips. I'm not. I've been diligently working on a web page for the cell group that I attend. I've put a lot of work into the page and I am very happy with the results. You should check it out. I managed to utilize some home made graphics to make the site look really good, in my opinion. And, with all the great ideas from James it should be a useful tool for our cell group. I'm excited about it if you can't tell.
So, now that the site is in working order and doesn't really need any more work for now, I will be free to resume my regular blog posting habits. In the meantime, check out the page I'm talking about. There is a link to it on the right side of my blog page "Deep Water Cell Group" found under the fellow bloggers list.
Otherwise, I'm playing my first wedding reception tonight. I'm not really nervous about it like I thought I might be. Probably because I'm only playing two songs. "When God Made You" and "Bring It On Home". Yes, the second one is a country song. But, in its defense, I must say it's an alright country song as country songs go. In other words, it's not about beer, divorce, and infidelity. I know what you're thinking, and I don't know how it officially qualifies as a country song either without those pillars of country music.
I sort of feel like The Wedding Singer, though. I just hope that I don't need to do a toast or anything, because I don't have Adam Sandler's charm in front of a crowd. I do well in small groups of people I know, but pulling off likability amongst total strangers is not a talent that I have in my repertoire. Wish me luck!

Bored, lonely, and pathetic.

I'm such a baby. I love my wife so much that it borders on obsession. She left yesterday evening to go to West Plains and help out with the preparations of her friend's wedding. I think that she also threw a wedding shower for her. She also was heading down to Moody, Missouri to take some photos of her dad's '49 Ford F-100. When I spoke to her last she said that she also stopped in on one of her family reunions. She's quite the multi-tasking productive woman. She's doing all these things while also producing a human being within. Amazing. That's the only word that describes it and still insufficiently at that.
So here is the part where me being a baby comes into play. I miss her. I'm bored. I've had a lot of fun spending time with Jacob, but I think that he's gone to bed tonight more spoiled than he was when he woke up. I'm afraid that while I can be a bit of a tough Dad, I'm also one of the biggest contributors to Jacob's spoiled lifestyle. So, he's spoiled, but well-behaved.
So, I sit here and type away for what better thing do I have to do? Thankfully, Jodi will be home tonight, but she's doing hair right now and said that she'd call when she is processing. This means that she is doing highlights which means she is still painting on the highlights and foiling. Since she still hasn't called that means that before she can head this way she has to wait 15 minutes or so to process and then wash, dry, apply toner, process, wash out toner, dry, probably cut and style, marvel at the job well done, clean up, say goodbye, gas up the car, and finally begin the almost two hour drive home. She's a super-hero. She'll do it, too. I worry about her safety, though. I just don't want her to get tired and drive home. She can't really drink any coffee because she'll be wired until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. As I type this sentence it is turning 10:00 p.m. Even though I would love for her to be home tonight, I'd rather that she just stay there and head out in the morning. Even super-heroes need their sleep. At least I think they do. There wasn't like a Captain Caffeine or The Invincible Insomniac was there? I was never much into comic books.
I better get back to cleaning up the mess that I made while Jodi was gone, though. I want her to think that us boys are the cleanest boys in the world, but I'm sure that she knows better. Anyway, the attempt at illusion is still a worthy cause, so back to work for me. OH YEAH! I almost forgot. Jodi came up with a cool idea for using my old hubcaps from my '59. If you've been reading my blogs for a while then you might recall months ago I lost a hubcap which prompted me to buy a new set. My newer hubcaps are beautiful and I got the whole set for only $18. But, I didn't know what to do with my old set. Jodi suggested making cool clocks out of them. I thought that that was a great idea and today I bought a clock mechanism for just under $5. It took me about an hour to make but here is the finished product. Cool, huh?

A day in the life of...

I've never just written about my day, so I thought that maybe I could take you through a tour of a day in the life of me. Here we go...
I woke yesterday morning at about 4:00 am in a terrible state. I had a bad cramp in my left calf muscle and since it woke me up it took me about 30 seconds before I could wake my brain up and discover the source of the intense pain. Once the cause was determined I quickly took the old soccer cramp routine and the pain subsided slowly but surely. I went back to sleep after this and then shut off the alarm the first time it went off at 5:45. Inevitably, I overslept and woke up at 6:40 which was just enough time to jump out of bed, throw on some clothes and go to my Leadership Academy class, but when I "jumped" out of bed I almost hit the floor face down when my left leg just gave out. I don't know what I was doing in my sleep with my leg, but it was paying retribution to me in the morning. I was limping around like I didn't even have a left leg and decided to just go back to sleep. I would've only got in a half day of class anyway since yesterday was the big day we were to find out the sex of the baby. So, I played hookie. I spent some time in the living room stretching before I took Jacob to school and got my leg back to somewhat normal. When I got back home I threw a blend of French Roast and Sumatra coffee beans into the grinder and then had a couple cups of the wonderful outcome of the water that ran through it. Then, Jodi and I made sushi. We're getting pretty good at it, too, I might add. After getting ready, we left to go pick up Jacob and went to the ultrasound appointment and saw a boy on the screen. YAY! We spent the whole time between the ultrasound and the doctor's appointment calling friends and family to tell them the news. Doctor Williams confirmed that everything was perfectly normal with the baby at the appointment. After we got home Dustin showed up and brought the computer that he was giving me and a bonus computer for parts and a really nice Sony shelf home entertainment stereo system. So, after we filled my living room with free electronics and then ate some Frito pie for dinner we went to the park for a couple hours and let the kids play. We got home about 8:45 and got Jacob to bed and then I had a chance to play with my new toys for a while before we laid down to eat sushi and watch V for Vendetta. Finally, off to sleep. What a day! I love my life!

It's a BOY!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI was definitely not expecting a boy, but I am very excited! Biased by growing up a boy with one brother, no doubt, I always wanted two boys. I did discover years ago that I did want a girl after all, though. I'm still a little in shock about this baby being male, but I'm sure it will take some time to sink in. I hope that Jodi doesn't mind being overrun even more by this masculine addition.
I apologize for the quick and short blog, but we have to go back to the doctor now to get told all the details and the particulars about the size and all the measurements they took of the internal organs and all that good stuff. But, I wanted to let all my readers know as soon as possible. So, now you know!

City Council Backpedals!

I laughed at first when I saw this article, but City Council still doesn't get it. They spent the last month considering and deliberating and weighing the pros and cons of a supposed answer to a supposed problem, but the real problem is that they've wasted all that time and money talking about something that they dropped as soon as the public got wind of it. I do wonder what they mean by "subject to coucil scrutiny." Even though they did drop their crusade to put a stop to apartment development, they still unanimously approved Mayor Tom Carlson's alternatate proposal that requires these apartment projects to be "planned projects." Apparently, that places these projects under City Council's scrutinizing microscope. While, I do agree that Springfield City Council should be involved in large projects so that all the necessary utilities such as streets and traffic lights can be addressed, I don't think that City Council remembers what they are set up for. I think that this recent issue has really shed some light on the fact that they don't know what is in Springfield's best interests. It also shows that they will attempt to abuse power that they were never given in the first place.
Here is a link to the News-Leader's article that I am commenting on today:

Too Much Competition?

I don't get it. I heard several times this morning on news radio an odd thing that sparked my interest. Since I can't find any website that is updated fast enough to carry the story I will say that it went something like this, "Is Springfield over-run with new Apartment complexes? That's what city council will be voting on this week. A recent boom in new apartment complex construction has possibly contributed to an exodus of center-city apartments. City council intends to consider and vote on new proposals that will help to slow down new construction of these apartments. Proposals include the changing of city zoning laws."
I heard this and couldn't believe it. It sounds like people are moving out of center-city apartments and into new apartments built elsewhere in the city and City Council is upset about it. First of all, don't they realize that purposely slowing down construction opportunities is a bad thing. It sounds like the landlords of all these slums in center-city are using their political connections to keep tenants from finding better places to live. That's so wrong! I agree with those that say that if companies (landlords included) want to make money then they have to do what every other company does. They have to make their product or service attractive to the buying public. If these center-city landlords want people to continue to live in their rentals then they need to be pushed to fix up their rentals. It seems to me that they liked it a lot more when there was a shortage of places to live and they could collect rent every month without ever having to put anything into their properties. This is clearly an issue of City Council trying to drive out competition. But what they are driving out is nicer, affordable housing. They are driving out new construction jobs. They are catering to current lazy slumlords who ruin Springfield with their rotting properties.
I say let the current apartment construction continue. The slumlords will be forced to renovate or sell. When old dilapidated places like that sell, the most common buyers are investors who buy to fix up and sell. Sometimes it's families that buy these properties and fix them up because they are proud homeowners. Either way, Springfield wins. It gets fixed up and people take pride in their neighborhoods again. But, one of the biggest reasons for center-city decay in Springfield is that the homes aren't owned by individual families. They're mostly owned by investors that rent out their properties and don't take care of them. As long as there are those who will rent out these properties the investors will continue to let them rot and collect their rent. This news report mentioned a "center-city exodus". City Council is intending to stop the very thing that will only help center-city rejuvenation. Be aware of what is going on in our city.

Sushi Thursday!!!

A new weekly tradition has been birthed at the Felton household. It's called Sushi Thursday! One of my birthday gifts to Jodi last week was a box full of sushi tools and some of the key ingredients needed for this wonderful spread pictured above. So, with the first evening we had to actually take the time to make this succulent delight, we jumped on the opportunity and headed straight to one of our local Japanese grocery stores. Hooray for living in an actual city with real stores! I love having choices beyond "Beef, it's what's for dinner." Honestly people! If your mouth is not just watering with the prospect of sushi making friends then you need to figure out what your deal is. Sushi is wonderful. It is wonderfully tasty and good for you. I know that we Americans have a lot of trouble with that last statement, "good for you." But, it's true and shouldn't be feared. I have heard so many people say they don't like sushi and I have even been in that group once or twice, but most of these people have never even tried it. Or, they tried the kind that is on the all-you-can-eat buffet that they paid $3.99 for. They tried it and hated it and no wonder.
So I just can't wait until next Thursday. What will we try then? What new dressings will we pick up? What was I going to say next? The possibilities are endless, but know that I will be eagerly awaiting my new "friday". I love weekly holidays.
The sushi we had tonight was a california roll with cucumber, avacado, cream cheese, crab rolled in a sheet of dried seaweed called nori. The other california roll was the same except without the nori and it was topped with freshly cut red tuna. Then, we had a spicy tuna roll that had spicy mayo, green onions, and then rolled in masago (seasoned fish eggs). Lastly, we had a shrimp tempura roll that was made up of fried shrimp and masago rolled inside a thin layer of egg. We added a seaweed salad that was good, but didn't receive Jodi's approval. Jodi's quite the connoisseur to flavors and has high standards where I'm stuffed up with a partial sinus infection and thought that it was pretty good, so you might take Jodi's opinion over mine. We tried making several sauces and bought one that was already made and we decided that we'll just buy all of our sauces from now on. Ours were gross. The eel sauce that we bought was delicious!!
As we perfect our sushi making skills we will begin to invite others over on Thursdays to enjoy these wounderful little finely sliced slivers of heaven. Until then feel free to lavish Jodi and I with gifts while you try to use bribery as a means to rise to the top of the list of those being invited over for sushi. Flattery will get you a long way, but gifts with no marked occasion will get you sushi. Think about that.

Shane & Shane Concert

What a concert! (spoken like Yakov Smirnov) Seriously it was an amazing evening with Shane & Shane (you'll get that little joke if you are a fan). We had a blast despite that we weren't the big group that we had originally set out to be at this event. We were a happy group of five, though. I have to say that if you missed the show, then you really did miss out on an awesome experience. I've only been listening to these guys for about six months, but I love what they do. The only grievance that I have is as a fellow guitarist and singer I have some extreme trouble trying to recreate their sound. I pretty much gave up trying. Anyway, I realize that this band is sort of undergound to most of you, so I recommend to you that you get your fanny on down to your local music store or click your way to or something and buy these guy's albums. You won't be disappointed. Here is a link to a short clip I took with my camera. Enjoy! Click here to view the clip!!!

"No! I'm da boss!"

Mwu Ha Ha Ha! My evil plan is right on schedule. I am moving into my old boss' desk today. I will soon run this company, then the corporation, then THE WORLD!!! Mwu Ha Ha Ha!! Cough! Couch! Hack! ... whew, gotta take it easy on the evil laughter. I'm not the young evil genius that I used to be. (That's pronounced gee-nee-iss, by the way) I'm putting on the years like Marlon Brando. It's cool, though.
Honestly, I'm gonna miss my old desk that just screams "Number 2!" I'm gonna let someone else be number two to my number one, though. I'm an awfully nice guy, aren't I?
In all seriousness, though, I really am having adjustment issues. I've been doing the job for a while now, but I was still receiving back-up for a lot of the little issues that popped up. My back-up is now gone and for the first official work day I am leading the group alone. It's a crazy thing to be in charge of a bunch of men that are old enough to be my father. They make it pretty easy, though. I've worked with them for seven years, so I'm no stranger. And, I couldn't be a part of a better bunch of folks.
Anyway, wish me luck!

What a sobering eye opener.

As kids, there is no doubt that my friends and I thought we were invincible. Some of the things that we did I think about today and wonder how I made it through puberty without ending up in a wheelchair or worse. I had some close calls and landed myself in the hospital more than once, but I always turned out alright and was ready for another round of walking that thin line. I'm sure that most of you can relate. It's completely understandable, too. In our culture we are used to our dead being wisked away so quickly that no one has an opportunity to see them. We use sheets to cover them out in public until a crew comes with a black zippered bag to hide them in and then that goes straight into the ambulance which discreetly makes a deposit at the morgue that no one knows the location of. Then a funeral home worker magically transports the body into a casket and you know the rest of the common story.
I remember during the aftermath of Katrina there were some dead that were left out in the street for a week and people were going nuts about it. I believe it's respectful to have a prompt and proper burial, too, but I don't think that Americans in general have any idea about the way that other cultures handle their dead. There are countries that if someone dies it's up to the family to prepare the body for burial and then bury it or burn it or basically do whatever they see fit with it. Some families find a place inside the home for the corpse to stay for a certain amount of time before they dispose of it.
My point is that very few American teenagers have any grip of reality when it comes to the possibility of their own death. They push the limit and shock their elders, but I think that the reason for them doing so is less that they don't care and more that they just don't know. They've grown up amongst violent television programming and the only death that they know of is the fictional deaths that they've been busy desensitizing themselves with. We don't see our dead in the United States. Even open casket funerals cake so much make-up on the corpses that they look fake. Just like the fake ones they see on television.
Well, I have a better grip on the life and death issue than I did when I was younger. For the second time in my life, someone in my peer group who I knew has died from an illness. There have been others that went in various kinds of accidents and as much as those were tragic and eye-opening to the ultimate price of reckless behaviour, there is just something sobering about knowing those who died from an illness that no one could do anything about.
We are not, by any means, guaranteed a life on this planet and you never know when tragedy might come knocking on your door. I guess that what I want to say is : Live a life that positively impacts people and always remember that there may not be another time to do all the things that you want to do before you're gone. So do the most important things daily.

A work in progress.

I'm currently in the process of changing over my blog site to this new fancy one. It looks a lot better and it is easier to access older blogs. I'm excited about using it instead of MySpace. I will still have my MySpace account, but it will only be used to keep in touch with people. I will no longer be posting blogs there. I will have this all set up within the next 24 hours, so be patient. I am studying up on all the ways to subscribe to this blog. I'm not a code writer, so it's taking all my brain power to set up an easy and convenient way for everyone to get notification of a new post on this site. I'll keep everyone updated.



I welcome myself to the world of professional bloggers! Yay! I have been such an amateur playing around with MySpace. Although, I do thank MySpace for taking a big chance with me. When no other website saw talent they said, "Give the kid a chance. What could it hurt?" For this, I am grateful. However, it is time to move on to bigger and brighter things and talk bad about the former things. One thing that I have learned from all this fame is that to continue to grow in popularity one must always remember to stomp on those little people that supposedly helped them get where they are now. So, to prove that I have what it takes to forget the little guy and move on towards stardom, I must say that MySpace sucks. It was fun for like a day. MySpace is like SO early 2006. Get with the program people.

Okay, now that the media is busy frantically scribbling down all what I just said, I can say that I don't really feel this way. My agent said to say these things, and he's done wonders with my blog career so I figure he's probably right. But, I really do love all you MySpacers!

Enjoy the new blog site!!!

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