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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!

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

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