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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.

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