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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!

Nice Choices, America

Maybe I'm just getting older and wiser, but it sure seems that presidential elections have been getting more and more ridiculous in this country with every passing four years. I was already extremely unhappy with the candidates that both the Republican and Democratic parties chose, but with the events that have taken place in the last 24 hours I'm disgusted.

Last night I watched 15 minutes or so of Barack Obama's acceptance speech officially becoming the Democratic Presidential Candidate Nominee. I have to give the guy credit on his speech. His speech seemed unread and unrehearsed. It was motivating, moving, and exciting. Not for me, but obviously for everyone there. I can easily see what all the democrats see in him. Now that I've given him kudos enough, let me point out that (of what I saw) it was the same old garbage eloquently spilled out before us again: change, fewer and lower taxes for lower and middle class, change, no more tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas, change, removal of tax-supported programs that don't work, change, adding back tax-supported programs that supposedly will work, change, aiding start-up companies for small business, change, change, change...

We've heard it before. Once again the world is putting their hopes in a man who is promising to fix what has been broken by those who promised the same things. The only real change here is the name that follows the title "President". Obama openly admitted that his promises will cost a lot of money, but he promises that all the money that is needed will easily come from the programs that he will cut. Well, I don't know about you, but that makes me feel a lot better (sarcasm). I've got an idea: how about cutting the programs that don't work just like you said, but then don't start any new ones that are destined to fail. Want to cut taxes? There's your answer. If everyone had the huge amount of money that is taken from them by our government then I'm sure that we'd see a lot less poverty and an amazing amount of prosperity practically overnight.

John McCain's actions today really takes the cake, though. Did you hear? He chose his VP running mate. HER name is Sarah Palin. HER. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and looked up her record and what she stands for and all, but mostly my suspicions weren't squashed by what I found. I suspect what almost all of America is suspecting right now: McCain picked a woman as his VP since Obama didn't and now he thinks that all the women who were going to vote for Obama because of Clinton will now vote for him because of Palin. What a joke. All women should be offended right now. McCain's campaign clearly thought that this would be a good tactic. After all if Obama becomes President then he'll be the first minority to make it into office. How can McCain compete with that? He can be responsible for having the first woman as VP. That's how.

I'm usually worried when things like this happen because I'm afraid that there will be some morons out there who will fall into the obvious trap laid out in front of them, but this time I'm not. This time the trap is way too big and way too obvious and despite what previous experience teaches me I doubt that anyone is as stupid as McCain thinks they are. McCain's biggest point against Obama was his lack of experience and now he's gone off and picked a VP who has less experience than Obama. I guess we won't be hearing McCain pointing that out anymore.

Here are my predictions: McCain's campaign will fail miserably. It won't be very close. Obama with his eloquent speech by his side will be ushered into the White House. Bush will retire with his oil buddies and laugh at us for years to come. And, finally, Ron Paul will write another book pointing out all the ways America has gone wrong and 30 years from now people will read it and wonder why America was so blind, that is if Americans can still read after the "No Child Left Behind" act has done its full damage.

On The Road Again

Well, we are finally back home for good. And I finally get to use this map I made showing our August Wedding Extravaganza. I made this map the week before the four weddings began to show the distance that we would be traveling. But, in an effort to avoid a possible break-in to our home in our absence, I decided to not go into detail about how far we were going to be going away and when we'd be gone on a public web page. But, now that we are home, I have no problem posting this. The blue lines represent us heading towards our destinations and the red ones are for when we were heading home. The four weddings were in Springfield, MO, Eureka Springs, AR, Climax, MI, and Des Moines, IA. The only time we veered off path was on the way home from Michigan when we stopped off in Chicago to hang out for a few hours in Millennium Park. But, since I went into some detail on that in one my last blogs I won't bore you with telling the tale again.

Our most recent trip to Des Moines went really well. We took Lyric for this one and he did pretty well on the trip considering his age. He really doesn't like his car seat after having to spend hours at a time in it. The wedding went really well. We got a lot of pictures and since it was a bright church the majority of them are going to need little to no editing which is good for me. That's usually the biggest time consuming part to a wedding is the post production. It was also good to get to hang out with Chris and Jessica again. I'm glad that they let us come and crash at their pad while we were there. It was pretty funny because they keep a very nice and orderly home and we showed up and turned it into a zoo of kids' toys and clothes everywhere. But, we had a lot of fun just hanging out at the house, walking around downtown, and touring the Capital Building. Once I get all these wedding photos edited and sent off, I'll post some pictures from our Des Moines trip. So stay tuned.

Drive In Drive Out

What a short/long weekend. Last Friday afternoon, I left work early so that we could head off to Michigan and get there at a decent time. We wound up not leaving as early as we had originally hoped because some unexpected business came up that we couldn't rush away. We did get on the road as soon as we could, though. After many hours on the road and several stops for gas, bathroom breaks, and one quick shopping stop we made it to my brother's house at 4:00 in the morning Saturday. Energized by seeing each other finally after such a long period the four of us wound up talking until finally calling it a morning at 6:00. My brother's and sister-in-law's vow renewal went well and we got to meet a lot of their friends and family which was nice. Michigan is a lot more agricultural than I always thought it to be. Some states you see and just think corn or potatoes or something else, but Michigan wasn't one of them for me until now. It's clearly a fruitful state for farming and we even got to bring some of those Michigan-grown fruits home with us. Last night, we ate some fish, but I think that the main course was a single squash. It was bigger than my arm from shoulder to elbow. I'm not sure if that means I need to work out more or just that it was one huge squash. I just found out today that squash is actually a fruit which is strange to me. But not as strange as the way that wikipedia explained how it qualifies as a fruit: being the swollen ovary of the female flower. I'm not sure that I'll look at a squash the same way now.

On the way home from Michigan we took a detour to check out part of Chicago. We chose Millennium Park since it seemed that it had the most to offer in such a small space. We took in all the parts of the park including the gardens, the futuristic amphitheater, the courtyard, the fountains, Cloud Gate (the silver bean thing), the winding chrome walkway, and finally Lake Michigan. We also headed across Michigan Avenue to have lunch at an Italian deli and then pick up some coffee next door before continuing our tourism.

It was a great weekend. I only wish that we could've stayed longer in both our destinations. It was definitely too rushed, but next time we'll make up for it. Click on the pictures to see them in their full glory. Sometimes they disappear when you roll over them with the cursor. I'm not sure what that's about, but they'll come up full screen if you click on them even if they disappear.

Sushi Night

The night before last, Jodi and I invited Cheryl and RJ over for a fun night of sushi rolling. We wound up with a pretty decent mix of sushi and definitely too much. We wound up eating the left-overs for dinner last night and it was plenty even then. And during dinner, Jodi said that she had eaten it for breakfast and lunch as well. So, now we have a pretty good idea about how much rice to make for the specified number of people. We made nigiri-zushi (tightly pressed oval balls of rice with thinly sliced sashimi (raw fish) draped over them) , futomaki (large rolls), and seaweed salad. For the sashimi, we used Atlantic salmon, unagi (freshwater eel), and butterflied shrimp. The eel came pre-grilled and we bought the shrimp frozen and pre-cooked so I'm thinking that they may not technically qualify as sashimi, but I could be wrong. We purchased a rice cooker for this time and I think that it was a good investment. It's nice that you can put in the amount you need and hit a button and it times it and shuts off automatically and everything. We've never burnt the rice before, but now we are sure not to. And, it's nice not having to watch the clock while you prepare all the other ingredients.

Another plus this time around was that we found frozen prepared individual servings of seaweed salad that are actually good like the restaurants we go to. It was disappointing the first time we bought seaweed salad and were not happy with the flavor. So, this is great because it makes for such a good "in-between" between sushi bites. Our ability to make sushi is getting better and better with each time. We're getting a little more experimental each time, too. Before too long, we'll have the techniques down well enough to make it much faster. That's my goal now. We're good at the preparation, but we're slow about it. I'd like to be able to decide to have sushi one day after work and grab some meat on the way home and have it all done within 45 minutes. I wouldn't think that this is too much to ask, especially since you don't have to take the time to cook anything but the rice. It should, therefore, be a fast food. Well, actually, on second thought the rice then has to cool. That's how it gets sticky. So, maybe we could still do it that way, but Jodi would have to throw the rice in the cooker an hour or so before I got home. Yeah, that would work.

Anyway, when deciding to write a blog about the evening's food arrangement, I was reminded of a cartoon that I saw a couple months ago on a Saturday morning. Jacob was watching cartoons and when I heard the announcement "Sushi Pack is coming up next so don't go away!" I admit that I sat down to see what it was all about. It was a cute little cartoon of tiny little superheroes that fight ridiculous-looking villains that threaten their "owner's" sushi restaurant. I just found it funny that "Japanimation" is now animating their food. Of course, that's not really any different than Veggie Tales, I suppose. Anyway, I thought that I'd give the show mention as it fits within the parameters of my blog subject.

Busy August

It's Thursday, the seventh day of August. The day before 8-8-08. Apparently, this has been viewed as a lucky day almost worldwide for weddings. According to the Chicago Tribune, local Chicago chapels and wedding decor marketers have seen a 213% rise for weddings on this Friday compared to that of the same Friday this time last year. It also reports that 8-8-08 has failed to be as popular as 7-7-07 was just last year. It happened to fall on a Saturday which could have also helped it in its desirability. For me, I will be doing the same thing this year on 8-8-08 that I did last year on 7-7-07, which is photographing a wedding. They're even being held at the same church.

The Chinese pronunciation of their word for eight sounds very similar to their word for good fortune. Many Chinese people will pay extra for the inclusion of the number eight to be placed in their license plates among other identification numbers. Homes that have addresses with more eights in the number have a higher property value. While there are many reasons for these dates to seem lucky I have my own theory. I think that grooms-to-be have been pushing for this date under the pretense of its luck while all along hoping for a date that gives them a better chance of remembering their anniversaries. But, we can't discount their efforts. After all, they're doing this from looking ahead and expecting to have so many anniversaries so distant from the original wedding date that forgetfulness is almost imminent. So, it's almost a sweet gesture that demonstrates not their careless loss of memory but their high expectations of a successful marriage and their humble belief that they can't maintain their part of that successful marriage without some good ol' well thought out planning.

Tonight actually begins a second round of events for August for us. Last weekend we had a baby shower in Kimberling City that I also attended. It was for guys, too. The guys just hung out upstairs and played cards and watched Nascar. Cards were out because I wouldn't have been able to watch Lyric. Nascar was out because, well, I hate Nascar. So, I just played with Lyric for three hours. After that, we spent the rest of the evening in Branson walking the Landing and hanging out with Jodi's sister, Diana. We were even able to meet her new boyfriend which was good because Jodi's been eager to see what all the hype was about and getting all of our complicated schedules to line up seemed about as probable as an unpredicted solar eclipse. But we met and had a short-lived impromptu hang out session. For whatever reason, August has become our climax of the summer for planned events. Baby showers, weddings, and birthdays are among the biggest hitters, but also there is a vow renewal, dinners with friends, and let's not forget the fair even though this year it was about as memorable as a donut.

Tonight we have a "black tie" dinner to attend. It's actually a wedding rehearsal dinner for tomorrow night's wedding that we are doing photography for. The couple opted to even have this dinner extremely formal which is sorta cool but very odd for Springfield. For most Springfieldians, their high school prom is the first and last "black tie" event in their lives. It's like we're telling these high-schoolers that this is what adult celebrations are like and then we disappoint them with the real world. Oh well.

For these August events, we'll drive 2,267 miles, cross 10 state lines, and probably have very round butts for a while from the 40 estimated hours of being stuck in a bucket seat. Wish us luck. Or a Chinese eight.


Sometimes people tell me things that interest me and I fail to perform my litmus test of truth on the new information. I, in turn, pass this information on to others as fact. Today, I cannot remember how many people I might have told that the Olympic flame was a tradition started by Adolf Hitler, but I do recall mentioning it in a conversation or two.

So, here is my retraction. It isn't true. The ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece had a fire burning for the entirety of the events in order to honor the fabled theft of the fire of Zeus by Prometheus. The story goes as follows:

Prometheus who was a descendant of the Titans, being half man and half god, was not allowed to live in Olympia with the gods since he was below them, but was too high above man to live with them. He decided to steal the fire of Zeus and give it to the humans. The humans saw him running down the mountain with the flame. He gave each man a spark of the fire. Some men did not keep it going, but some did and they became the geniuses. Olympia was dark without the fire and became envious of men, so Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to the mountains. He was too strong to die, though, and he was comforted by seeing the sparks of the fire glow in the night along the hillsides far below.

Stupid story, but that's where the Olympic Flame originated. It started up again in 1928 at the Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. It was the 1936 Olympics in Berlin that brought on their influence on the traditional games. It was Joseph Goebbels that was the propaganda pusher for the Nazi regime that approved the running relay of the Olympic torch. Goebbels was the guy to take over if anything happened to Hitler. When Hitler committed suicide, Goebbels took his place, but only for one day as Goebbels committed suicide the following day. It was the first time the flame was ran over long distance. The idea was that this highly publicized relay would demonstrate the superiority of the Aryan race.

Today the Olympic torch is carried long distances usually from Olympia, Greece where eleven "priestesses" will start the fire by using the sun's rays concentrated by using a concave mirror much like a satellite dish. The flame is then ran to the site of the Olympic games and not necessarily by a white guy. So, much for superiority.

So, I was wrong. Adolf Hitler really had nothing to do with it, but the Nazi regime did begin the tradition of carrying it over a great distance. Today, it's still ran but I doubt that the majority of people know that it has any connection to Nazis. The entire tradition is wrapped around Greek Mythology anyway. It's interesting where traditions are started and why they are continued years later.

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