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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!

Tip of the Iceberg

Yesterday, Jodi and I ate at Mexican Villa and we had a waitress that did a great job. She filled our chip basket without asking, took our order quickly and flawlessly, and made herself very available if we needed anything. We ate, paid, tipped well, and left. However, the tipping part stayed on my mind for a while. This is why. I left three dollars on the table as that was all the cash that I had on me. When I used my debit card to pay for the meal (at the checkout counter) I added another $2.54 tip to the slip I signed to bring the total amount of the debited amount to an even $30. I hadn't done the math in my head to find out the percentage of tip I left, so I turned to Jodi and kind of quickly told her what I left to see if she approved. She did and so I was okay with that. I did, however, see a look cross the guy's face who was running the register. I hadn't noticed that the guy was sort of scowling at the $2.54 tip I left on a $27.46 meal until his countenance changed ever so slightly upon my incedental unveiling of the fact that I also left $3 on the table bringing the total tip amount to $5.54. This amount was apparently acceptable to him and so he therefore replaced his almost imperceptible scowl with an equally difficult to notice "oh, I guess I had this guy pegged all wrong" look. I did the math later to find out that my tip worked out to just over 20% which according to society is a good tip, so I should feel good about it, right? How come I don't feel good about it?

I have a problem with the way that someone can open up a restaurant, charge a small fortune for food and drink, and then hire a bunch of people for $2.15 an hour. As if the restuarant can't afford to pay their employees, so the customer should have to. They're not the customer's employees are they? And yet the everage customer pays them more out of their pocket per hour than the employer does.

Tipping's understood rules are pretty difficult to understand when examined. The average tip that I received for pizza delivery was about $1.50. Most of these orders exceeded $20. But, in the pizza delivery business, $2 is a perfectly acceptable tip. Not great, but good. Why then should the waiter back at the pizza restaurant get tipped $4. What did he do? He showed them a table they could've found on their own, took their order, refilled their drinks, and asked them a couple times if he could get them anything else. The pizza delivery driver drives his own car all the way to the customer's house no matter what the weather is doing (note: people tend to order delivery more in bad weather since it's not as safe to drive for them; nevermind the delivery kid behind the wheel with their food in their passenger seat). The driver risks life and limb, risks wear and tear to his vehicle, and risks getting traffic tickets. All of these things ON TOP OF the fact that he got the order put together, made the drinks if there were any, and collected packs of condiments with the order. Doesn't make much sense does it?

Before writing this blog I looked at a suggested gratuity list online. This list and some others like it that I found suggested that even upon bad service one should still tip their waiter/waitress at least 10% and inform the manager of the bad service. The word gratuity means "gift of appreciation" so why would I want to give one to waiter/waitress that I didn't appreciate? I saw a list of hotel employees and what is expected of people to tip them. Let me tell you, if you go to a nice hotel, you'll be completely surrounded by people looking for a handout. It's like being harrassed by bums and panhandlers. And then they turn around and call their hotels upscale. It's no wonder why richer people feel separated from the rest of society and look down on lesser fortunate folks. They're tired of the bums prodding them for a buck at all the restaurants and hotels they go to.

I think that this whole tipping thing needs re-evaluation. I know I'm not the only one that has an opinion on this subject. What's yours?

Politics?! Oh, no! RUN!

I try not to get too political in my blogs. The result is that you are more likely to read a blog about how I came to search for and find the recipe to Starbucks' Mocha Frappuccino rather than read one about how I think this or that about this or that. However, when someone brings out the trump card in a conversation and mentions some political view I am the first to jump in and nurture the oncoming debate. It's not the debate that I enjoy, despite the smile on my face that might suggest otherwise. It's the opportunity to educate that excites me.

There is a quote that I recently read that is very true and should be seriously thought about before dismissing it. I haven't the slightest idea who said it, but don't let that take away from it's importance. The quote is as follows. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, they want something which never has or never will be.”

The ignorance that this person speaks of is not lack of general education or low I.Q. levels. The word "ignorant" obviously stems from the same word that "ignore" does. And the majority of people that I talk to about politics don't want to talk about them. They use all types of excuses to try to avoid the conversation. They see the President on television giving a speech and they quickly change the channel. They're more likely caught reading the comics in the newspaper than a story about a bill that's going to be voted on by congress and the effects that is will have on their life.

This is willful ignorance. Plain and simple. I'm sure that you all remember from school that our govenment was setup with different branches to create a system of checks and balances. These checks and balances help to keep our government from doing whatever they want and getting away with it. However, this quote says it quite plainly that if the American people choose to be ignorant that they will lose their freedom. It's time to stop choosing to avoid politics and start educating ourselves so that we can make informed decisions.

One more thing. Both Republicans and Democrats are running with about a 12% approval rating. This next presidential election will be completely different from what we have previously experienced. There are lots of presidential candidates. Not two! Educate yourselves and vote wisely. You are our goverment's check and balance.

Must Have Albums

Music has always been a staple in my life, much like bread or milk. Music has the ability to sink into the deepest parts of our emotions. Music is used to relax people, to inspire people, for comfort, for pleasure, etc. It's even sometimes used to annoy. I have yet to find a person that does not like some kind of music. No matter who you are, you enjoy some form of music. Even those emotionally disturbed kids who "hate the world" and completely isolate themselves listen to music.

I was mentally running through my rolodex of music this weekend while driving home from West Plains and I started to think about the albums that I enjoy listening to the most. Out of the many albums of music that I own there are only a handful that have stood the test of time with me. These albums are my must-have's. I never get tired of them. I know all the words, and I always sing along. There are hundreds of songs that I love and don't get old, but there just aren't that many full length albums that I can honestly say I don't get tired of.

What I find interesting is that I don't necessarily like other works from the same artist (or band). I also wondered what this list of "must-have" albums must say about the person who places them into this category. See, someone can like a single song from an artist like "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen. No one thinks very much of that, after all it's a classic that most people like. However, beware of those men that have the entire Queen collection. Along the same lines, you would be hard pressed to find a 25 to 35 year old NOT singing along to Poison's "Every Rose Has It's Thorn", but run the other direction if you find yourself at a Halloween party where there are four guys who thought it would be funny to cross-dress just like them.

Anyway, here is my sort list of must-have albums in no particular order:

Toad the Wet Sprocket - Dulcinea
Coldplay - Rush of Blood to the Head
Barenaked Ladies - Stunt
Blind Melon - self titled
clutch - self titled
Weezer - self titled
Jars of Clay - self titled
Ryan Adams - Love is Hell
Dave Matthews Band - Crash
Elliott Smith - XO
Presidents of the United States of America - self titled
Trail of Altars - Cry of a Generation
Mad Season - Above
Radiohead - Ok Computer
Temple of the Dog - self titled

The funny part about Jars of Clay's first album making the list is that they are one of only two bands listed here that I actually got to see perform live. And they were horrible! The album is great, but they sucked it up. Since, I have heard from people that they were good live, but they were rank at the first Dare to Care concert at the Shrine. The other band I saw was Clutch and they put on a good show at the Juke Joint. I haven't really liked anything else they've ever put out there, though. Their first album had an awesome flow from one song to the next and had a central theme. Everything now is just hard and raunchy and thrown together (in my opinion).

If I had to self-psycho-analyze myself based on this list alone I would say that I am not so complex. I have different moods to my personality, but fewer than most. I'm easy going (Blind Melon, Dave Matthews Band). I have a good sense of humor (Barenaked Ladies, Clutch, Weezer, Presidents...). I'm morbidly depressed (Elliott Smith). There goes my sense of humor. Over all, I'm very laid back and I get along with others who are, too.

There is a lot more music that I like, but not really any that is contained in a single album that is equally enjoyable from beginning to end.

What's your list and what does it say about you?

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