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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!

Relocation Nation

I read a friend's blog recently and... well, he's not really a friend per say. He's a husband of a friend... well, hold on, she and I were friends a long time ago. So are we still friends? I mean we never speak to each other, see each other, or have any other communication come to think of it. I do read her husband's blogs. That is a form of communication, right? Well, let me start over.

I was reading this guy's blog whom I've never met and he asked a great blog question. So, I thought that I would piggyback off him rather than come up with my own interesting blog topic. The question was simple: Where (in the USA) would you live if you could live anywhere? The follow-up question is: If you are not living there already, what keeps you from living there?

My answer to this question is Cedar City, Utah. The town is nestled down in a valley surrounded by Utah's most amazing geological marvels. There are several national parks less than an hour away, 3 of which are within a 30-minute drive. A resident there could go hiking every weekend for the rest of their life staying within a 60 mile radius and not hike the same trail twice. These parks contain so many different types of landscapes that a guy like myself could never get bored.  Mountains, deserts, lakes, rock formations.  Even the non-outdoorsy types would find themselves more sun-tanned than ever if they moved here.

Aside from the national parks aspect, the town is very picture perfect. There are about 22,000 residents. There are enough shopping centers and restaurants to be content with going out. It's big enough to serve most needs and small enough to feel like a real community. St. George is home to about 67,000 residents and contains larger shopping avenues. It sits about 50 miles away which is close enough to drive to for more extravagant shopping opportunities yet far enough away so that Cedar City stays it's own unit and not a suburb of something else. Las Vegas is also only 3 hours away. So, small vacations (if you're into that sort of thing) can be had easily enough with a quite reasonable drive.

The reason that I am not living there now is that I have a career going here and I couldn't just up and move out there and hope to find financial stability with any speed. However, I would definitely be open to considering it if I either found a good job out there or could make a living working for myself.

Where would you move to?

Height Requirements

Jacob is finally old enough to be trusted with a BB gun. Of course, I never let him out of my sight, I'm constantly reminding him of the rules, and I'm standing over him like a drill sergeant, but yeah I trust him.

Last night, I took him out back to our shamefully overgrown backyard and set up a makeshift shooting range for him. It was a lot of fun for him. Who am I kidding? It was a lot of fun for all of us. Jodi and I got in on the action as well. Those tin cans never saw it coming.

I'm not at home or I would use my video editing software to add closed captioning for those who can't make out what Jacob is saying. So, instead, I'll simply add the transcript below.

Video #1 : "See? He left the herd."
Video #2 : "Guess what. I'll get this one right here. He's a little baby."

"If he lies, make him pay, fifty dollars every day"

Springfield's News-Leader has announced today in their opinion section that their position has changed on the red-light camera issue that has been a controversial one since the idea's first debut in city council discussions. Originally, the News-Leader made statements in their opinion section backing city council's plan on implementing the intersection cameras. However, the reason they have changed their position isn't because their opinion has changed. Rather, it's because city council has demonstrated their ability to lie outright about their intentions to gain approval.

The council stated that their intention with the use of cameras was to make the city's intersections safer. They offered plenty of statistics that suggested that red-light running in Springfield was the biggest contributor to right-angle accidents and then they made claims that the use of these cameras would help save lives and reduce accidents. There is no evidence so far that the one intersection in Springfield that has this camera system has helped in any way. It hasn't been up and running long enough to determine anything. So, I'll make no argument based on its effectiveness.

I'll let the following do the arguing for me. Here is part of the News-Leader's article from this morning:

The red-light cameras were promoted in Springfield by police and other city officials as an attempt to save lives. City officials said over and over again that the cameras would go up at the most dangerous intersections and they would be used to cut down on dangerous, often fatal, right-angle crashes. But since the city installed its first camera at National Avenue and Battlefield Road — which was only the city's 10th most dangerous intersection in 2006 based on number of accidents — the city has changed course.
The revenue from tickets at that intersection isn't keeping up with the cost of the program, more than $4,000 per month per camera approach. The city delayed installation of its next couple of intersections, and now it plans to install the next cameras at another intersection that is nowhere near the worst intersection in the city in terms of number of accidents, rate of accidents or the key statistic, right-angle crashes.
The next camera is set to be installed at Battlefield and Campbell, one of the city's busiest intersections, but not one of its most dangerous. If this program is about safety, the city is ignoring its own facts.
The intersection at Battlefield and Campbell did have the second highest number of crashes in the city in 2006, at 58. But because of its high volume — more than 70,000 cars per day — its crash rate is actually quite low. More important, it doesn't even show up on the radar screen in terms of the most important type of dangerous crashes the city is trying to stop: right-angle crashes. If the city is trying to stop those crashes, and save lives, which was its stated intention from the beginning, then there are numerous other intersections which should be considered first.
Tops on the list should be the intersection of Campbell Avenue and Republic Street. That intersection, which is still very busy at more than 54,000 cars per day, led the city last year with 60 crashes. Its crash rate was much higher than the other intersections being considered for first installation of red-light cameras. And it had 13 right-angle crashes in 2006, fourth highest in the city. Even higher on the right-angle crash chart is the intersection of Kansas Expressway and Republic Street, which had 15 such crashes. That intersection had 49 accidents in 2006, and of the top 25 intersections in the city in terms of number of crashes, it had them at the highest rate. Moreover, its three-year and five-year rate of crashes is also the highest among top crash intersections.
So if the city is concerned with safety, why aren't those intersections getting cameras first?
Why did the first camera go at an intersection that has the lowest crash rate among the top 10 intersections based on number of accidents? Why did the first camera go up at an intersection that was 25th in 2006 in terms of right-angle crashes? Why is the next camera going up at an intersection that isn't even in the top 50 in terms of dangerous right-angle crashes?
The city can say all it wants that this isn't about the money, but actions speak louder than words.
Here's what we said in October 2005 when the red-light cameras were first being discussed: "The Springfield City Council, if it chooses to install red-light cameras, should write safeguards into any lease specifying that the priority will be high-accident intersections with the highest percentage of right-angle wrecks."
Mayor Tom Carlson appeared at the time to agree, saying: "We're sensitive to the issue that red-light cameras can be seen as a revenue source. Doing it for that reason would not be politically smart."
Indeed, the council will look politically dumb if they allow city staff to continue to install cameras at high traffic intersections instead of the more dangerous ones.

The facts don't lie. Springfield City Council does.

Does Not Compute

A little over two years ago I decided that it was time to buy a new computer. At that time I was using a Pentium II, 350 GHz with a 10 Gb hard drive. I had purchased it from a friend in February 2003 for $200. It was a good deal, then. Especially since I was using a pre-Pentium 166 Mhz computer with a whopping 930 Mb hard drive before that. It was running Windows 3.1. That was obviously my first computer.

So, in 2005, I kept the future in mind when shopping for a new computer. I decided to build a computer from parts purchased through and put it together myself. I didn't skimp at all, but I did look for the best deals. I put together one heck of a computer for only about $230. I built it knowing that one day soon, I would be getting a digital camcorder and would need a computer advanced enough to do the video editing that I would want it to do.

Well, like I said, I built a great computer. However, it had one flaw that my lack of education missed. The front side bus was only 166 Mhz. Some of you reading this right now are laughing, but most of you are like I was and aren't sure of the significance of the number I just gave you. Let me explain the same way that I've had it explained to me. The front side bus is basically like the highway that all the information going to and from the processor travels on. I had a 166 Mhz front side bus and a 1200 Mhz processor. It's like sending a fleet of 18-wheelers down a dirt road with a one-lane bridge.

In July of 2006, I finally bought the mini-DVD camcorder that I had been wanting since I first heard of its existence. And, I was furious when the video obtained from it would crash my system everytime I went to burn a video to DVD. I could still put mini-DVD disks in my camcorder and shoot video, but there was no way to edit anything. It wasn't until about 2 months ago that I learned what my mistake had been with the front side bus.

The good news is that I bought a new computer last Monday and I have it all up and running. I successfully edited a bunch of video and made a home movie complete with professional looking transitions, titles, credits, etc. Everything worked as expected, so plans are in the works for some fun videos. We have a couple commercial-spoofs planned as well as some family home movies. I'm excited.

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