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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!

Green or Mean?

The U.S. is going green and I have mixed feelings about it. In recent years, I've heard so much about "green" this and "green" that and I can't help but wonder what all the agendas are packed away behind these movements. Of course, I know that reducing energy consumption is a good thing, so don't jump to conclusions yet about me. I simply have a habit of reading between the lines because I've found that the lines are usually packed with interesting information between them almost in every cause.

Take Al Gore's hypocrisy for example. I won't get into all the details since many of you already know about this controversy, so I'll keep it brief. He's become some poster boy for "going green" but owns large stocks in an oil company that has been known to drill in ecologically sensitive areas. He isn't signed up for the renewable energy usage programs in any one of his three homes despite those programs being readily available by the utility companies in all three areas. And his homes total over 18,000 square feet and we all know that there's no way that this amount of space can be energy efficient in any form. USA Today reported on these facts among many others supporting the belief that he doesn't practice what he preaches. I wouldn't come down so hard on him, but he talks about our energy usage as if the sky is falling. He uses such phrases as "cataclysmic catastrophe", "ticking time bomb", and "uncontrollable tailspin."

No, Al Gore's rhetoric isn't new to anyone and to me it just seems like he jumped on an obvious bandwagon to promote himself and to make some easy money. So, then why the blog topic, you ask? And I'm glad you did. It's Walmart. A couple weeks ago, Jodi went to Walmart to pick up some things. Among the list was light bulbs. But, when she got to the light bulb aisle she was shocked. No, she wasn't electrocuted. She found empty shelves where the incandescent light bulbs used to be. The only light bulbs left available for purchase were CFLs. She called me and we briefly discussed it and we decided that she should just not purchase any bulbs and that we'd get them at a later date.

This last week, I found that another Walmart also was missing the incandescents. This confirmed what we thought to be the case which is that Walmart has removed incandescent light bulbs from their store shelves. But Why? Well, I did some research and found that two years ago at the end of 2006 Walmart announced that they were setting a goal to sell 100 million CFL bulbs a year starting in 2007. This made headlines just as it was designed to do. Walmart wants to also jump on the bandwagon with ol' Al and get their name associated with trying to help reduce energy consumption as well as appear to be trying to save their customers' money.

Walmart's move came just after Oprah touted the bulbs on her TV show and sales started to rise accordingly. Oprah apparently has a lot of little Oprah-brain-washed followers that will buy any book she talks about, love anyone she loves, and believe anything she says. I'm sure that you are picking up that I don't like Oprah. Just for the record, I also don't like Barack Obama. (GASP!) Call me what you will, I can take it. I never have liked Oprah. She doesn't really listen to anyone, she just jumps in to ask questions, but doesn't care at all about the answers. She leads people down a religious path in which there is nothing to back her views other than her own disorganized and contradictory statements. And she knows that she has this influence on people and rather than humbly using it for good she uses it for her own gain. I really don't like her. Her endorsement of the CFL bulbs alone make me want to go stock pile incandescents and start searching out CFLs in use and replacing them with incandescents completely undetected like a ninja. Mmm. "Incandescent Ninja" I LIKE that.

I couldn't find anything on the Internet that was discussing Walmart's announcement that they were removing incandescents from their shelves. I only found articles talking about stores doing it in the UK. This leads me to believe that Walmart didn't announce it. Why wouldn't they announce it? In 2007, Walmart reportedly hit their goal of 100 million light bulbs sold in early October. But, maybe all those people who purchased these bulbs last year from all the hype on the pros realized all the cons as they were put to use. I fell into that category. If you've ever used these bulbs, you probably do, too.

"Did that new CFL bulb on the porch burn out already?!", I asked as I was walking towards the front door. I got there and looked through the window directly at the bulb and saw that it was indeed on, but I hadn't been able to tell from just a few feet away. "It's on, but where's the light?" Sound familiar? The manufacturers of these bulbs whose packages claim that they are the equivalent of a 100-watt incandescent clearly don't fully comprehend the definition of the word "equivalent". That's like saying that just because Fat Albert can walk a mile eventually and Carl Lewis can run a mile in under 6 minutes that they must be equal. What's next? Energy efficient garbage disposals? Flip the switch, come back in three or four minutes when the blades have picked up some momentum and then start inserting your unwanted food particles one particle at a time because a few too many uneaten peas at once can stop the rotation of the blades. We bought a total of 12 of these CFL bulbs and are down to 3 or 4 of them. Because they've burnt out. It seems to me that their lifespan has been seriously exaggerated. I highly doubt that I've saved enough from their so-called efficiency to even offset the increased cost that I paid for them. Furthermore, we limited their usage to certain areas because of the nature of their dimness. Sure, they eventually get to be as bright as incandescents after a long while, but what good does that do for a closet light? When you open the closet to get something you turn the light on. You find the item in the small room with the aid of the light and then you turn the light off. CFL's won't help you find the item you're looking for unless you have the foresight or time to turn the light on minutes before you intend to actually look for the item. But, by then you've used all that extra electricity and probably used more energy than you would have otherwise. This argument also kept us from using them in bedrooms for the same reason. The kitchen wasn't a very good place for them since you need all the light you can get in there. The bathrooms weren't an ideal CFL bulb location since it's mostly boys in the house and you don't want boys to pee in the dark. Trust me on that one. As a matter of fact, when it came down to it, there were only two places in the house that we gave in and used the CFL bulbs: the front porch and the basement. And, we could only get away with using them in those areas because we tend to leave those lights on all the time.

Sorry, CFLs, but you suck. And now, so does Walmart for putting such a huge effort towards the sale of these little useless bulbs culminating in a removal of any choice for the consumer. What I find most interesting in all my research is that these bulbs contain mercury. You are not supposed to throw them in the trash because they can pollute the soil and eventually the groundwater, lakes, and streams. The consumer is supposed to recycle them, but there's no recycling centers that take them. Currently, only IKEA will take them from customers to recycle them. Ironically, Walmart has thus far refused to set up any sort of recycling avenues for their customers. And this is doubly ironic since Walmart's recent lofty goal and push for the sale of these bulbs has pushed them into the number one seller of CFL bulbs in the Unites States. I guess that energy conservation is more important to Walmart than environmental preservation. This is probably true because an incoming dollar amount can be affixed to the former while an obvious expense is attached to the latter. Without easy accessibility to a recycling method for these bulbs, you can count on the fact that consumers will put these bulbs in the trash.

Walmart probably doesn't want to implement a recycling method for similar reasons as other companies. There is a high risk for mercury exposure in dealing with these discarded bulbs. First, how do you keep them from breaking? Because, once they're broken the exposure is imminent. To recycle these would require a quarantined area, packing them in something similar to egg crates and having the handlers wear those orange jumpsuits with the gas masks that we so often see in movies. It's no wonder why Walmart hasn't set up a way to recycle them. But, then why do they keep pushing them to be sold?

I am obviously questioning the bulb's green-ness. What do you think? Do you use them? Do you like them? Do you think that the aliens invented them? Let me know.

So, it's W's fault.

Months ago, Jodi and I were having a lot of frustration with our cell phones. The cause of this frustration: they couldn't agree on what time it was. What's more is that neither could a lot of other clocks we have around the house. We were baffled and confused and still unsure as to what time it was even after calling Time & Temperature. The problem eventually worked itself out and we forgot about all the problems it caused until yesterday.

Yesterday morning was looked forward to by both Jodi and me for a week at least. Most Sunday mornings we have to wake up before 7:00 and start getting ready for church as quietly as possible so that we don't wake up the boys. We get ready and then Aunt Ginger graciously shows up to take over with the boys so that we can go to worship practice at 8:30. We practice until 10:00 when church starts and we lead worship until about 11:00. So, we're pretty busy from the moment we wake up at 6:45. Yesterday was to be different, though. Our team switched with the Saturday night team for the weekend, so we played Saturday night and were able to get a chance to sleep in on Sunday for once.

We didn't even set an alarm since we knew we'd wake up with plenty of time. Which we did. But, here's where our morning could have been a lot better. Jodi woke and checked her cell phone for the time which read 7:35. So, she was relieved to have about another hour to sleep and enjoy the morning. But George W. Bush came in our bedroom and stole that hour from us. Okay, he didn't come in our bedroom but his influence did. My phone read 8:35. My phone is set to be automatically updated by the cell towers. So, if I change time zones (like when we went to Michigan) my phone automatically changes the time for me. My phone tells me what time the network says it is. Jodi's phone, on the other hand, is not set up in that way. Like all cell phones, it has internal software. The software was programmed years ago to allow for Daylight Savings Time and had the exact dates that these changes occurred on figured into the equation. And that's where we point a finger at the Pres.

George signed into law an energy bill in 2005 that included a measure to extend Daylight Savings Time starting in 2007. DST would start 3 weeks earlier and end 1 week later than normal. The pros to this change included the savings of 100,000 barrels of oil daily somehow, people would turn their interior and exterior lights on later in the day using less electricity, people would have an extra hour of daylight for activities, theme parks could run later, and part-time farmers would have more time after work to work their crops. The cons included children having to wait for the bus in pitch dark, the airline industry claimed millions of dollars lost to adjust schedules, and many electronic devices automatically adjust to DST on what will no longer be the correct dates including VCR's, computers, some microwaves, and apparently Jodi's cell phone.

Her cell phone will show the incorrect time all this week and will finally be back on track next Sunday at 2:00 am. I think that we tried to fix the problem last spring, but her cell phone's software doesn't have a way to fix the problem.

So, what do you think about Daylight Savings Time? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Do you have a better solution to utilizing all of God's given daylight?

A Wild Weekend's Worries and Wonders

I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads my blog also was notified about Jacob's injury this past weekend. So, in addition to retelling the story of what happened using as few words as I can manage, I'll add a fresh and interesting part to the story that vaguely has anything to do with Jacob but is related enough for me to get away with adding it. So, whether you've heard the news or not you must keep reading. You simply must.

Jacob was climbing on the outside of a spiral tube slide. It was totally tubular (spoken like Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure). Without anything to really grip, he fell off once reaching the top and landed flat on his back on the ground 10 feet below. He showed no signs of external injury, but was in a lot of pain. To make a long story short, he cracked his spleen. He spent the night in the ICU, was moved to a normal room on Sunday and was released Monday afternoon. Bed rest for 2 weeks and no sports, bike riding, trampoline jumping, wrestling around, etc. for 6 months. But, the good news is that he is not bleeding internally and as long as he gives his body ample time to heal with these restrictions he should be back to his normal self by the end of the given time frame.

The semi-related content that I previously promised to keep your interest is as follows. Jacob, having just finished his Mighty Mites Football season last week, has begun to enjoy watching football on television much to the delight of Jodi and me who don't enjoy even the thought of watching the sport if we aren't directly related to a member on the team. In both the Trauma room of the ER and the ICU room he was moved to he managed to find a game on the television hanging on the wall. It was college football, LSU and South Carolina to be more specific. In the game, a strange thing happened. One of the referees tackled the South Carolina Quarterback. They showed it a couple times and it looked like an intentional shoulder tackle, but then the possibility arose in my mind that he could have been just trying to get out of the way and simultaneously protecting himself by tucking his arm like he did. I had too much going on, with Jacob in the ICU, to give it much thought so I just settled for the latter explanation.

Today, however, I saw it again on YouTube. Now I'm in a position to watch it over and over again and to see all the details of the collision. And, I'm left with my former suspicions as the only explanation to it. The video is attached below. Watch it and see what you think for yourself. Initially, I thought that when the QB changed his direction the referee was merely reacting to the QB's new intended course and protecting himself. But, if you watch very closely, the referee's feet prepare to push off in the direction of the QB BEFORE the QB actually changes direction. AND, the referee was not running, jogging, or doing anything else that would build any momentum keeping him from quickly changing course. He was side-stepping very small steps just like a defensive back who is trying to read the movements of the offensive runner. He could easily have jumped back to his left and created a wide gap between himself and the QB, but rather chose to step straight back to push off going the opposite way: forward. Forward was the wrong direction to go any way you look at it. As a former soccer referee, I can tell you that he should have squared his shoulders with the obvious path the ball was traveling in order to keep an eye on the play. By moving his right shoulder forward he would've lost track of the play regardless of whether he collided with the QB or not.

The South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier said in a statement after the game that it was not a tackle and was simply the ref attempting to avoid the QB, but I disagree. The ref was cleared of any wrong doing, by everyone, but should he be? You be the judge.

Jack O' Lanterns

Earlier this week I was on the News-Leader's online publication scanning the headlines and I saw a link that sparked my interest given the time of year. Halloween is only a couple weeks away and the family and I are going to a costume party. I won't reveal our costumes yet as I don't know if I'm allowed to make it public knowledge. But, this link was for political pumpkin carving. It was put together by the Associated Press and, of course, it only included pumpkin carving plans for the two Presidential nominees' faces, the two Vice Presidential nominees' faces, and various donkey and elephant logos. So, feeling left out, I made one for Ron Paul.

And as far as my search for Jack o' Lantern photos went on the internet, my favorite that I found was this one of Yoda. I'm not a fan of the Star Wars movies, but the skill that went into this pumpkin carving is amazing, fan or not. My second favorite was this one of Boo, the little animated girl in the movie Monsters, Inc. They really captured a toddler's personality in that movie. Anyone who watched that movie fell in love with Boo. And finally, my third favorite is this house. I don't have much to say about it, I just like it.

What are your favorites?

To be healthy, or not to be, that is the question

A few weeks ago I was pushed into having a Health Risk Assessment performed on me. At SRC (where I work, to those of you who haven't been paying attention) we take health very seriously. There have been many studies done and all of them have come to roughly the same conclusion: Businesses should encourage their workforce to create and maintain healthy living habits because healthier employees are less of a financial risk. A company takes a measured risk when they hire someone. They invest time, energy, money, equipment, and many other investments in order to have someone come in and perform a function. The initial investment is the largest when the recently hired employee is still learning the ropes. The employee's output is low and training takes up another employee's time which takes away from their output. In time, there becomes a standard cost for that employee which includes the utilities they require to do their job (water, electricity, etc), their salary, their expected overtime, bonuses or profit sharing if applicable, and the amount that the company kicks in for the employee's insurance.

The investment goes far beyond just the paycheck. So when an employee works for a long period of time and knows all of the ins and outs of the business and can perform multiple functions with a high rate of efficiency that employee is one to hold on to. What if the employee dies of a heart attack, though? Oops. The company just lost that huge investment and great asset. Now they have to do it all over again. Let's tone down the severity a little bit and ask what if the employee gets sick for a day? Then the company doesn't have that asset for a day. This all adds up and it's been found in these studies that healthy people tend to miss less work than their less healthy coworkers. Therefore making the healthier employees a greater asset.

SRC has bought into this line of thinking and established a Health Committee long ago. We have a nice workout room, an outdoor running track, and an on-staff nurse and health technician. They are constantly having walks for various causes, free classes teaching healthy habits, and even competitions. There is always an incentive. For every event that you join in you acquire 1 or 2 health points depending on the event. At the end of the year they throw your name in a hat for every point that you've acquired and you can win things like a home gym, iPods, LCD TVs, gift cards, etc.

Well, all the points you acquired for the year are void if you don't do the Health Risk Assessment. So, they signed me up. They took my blood and my measurements and my height and weight and then let me get back to work. Well, this week I got back the results. I'm not happy with them. Hence the blog. I write blogs bragging about many things, but I wouldn't go around bragging about my health. That just seems like an inevitable random lightning strike victim waiting to happen.

I think I'll start with my good results and then slowly rise to anger with the others. I have a healthy amount of the good cholesterol, total cholesterol, cholesterol ratio, triglycerides, and blood sugar. My heart rate of 78 and blood pressure at 116/68 were "very good" according to the woman who took them. Now comes the bad news: my BMI (Body Mass Index) is 29.48. And according to their little decoder ring that puts me in the overweight category just under obesity. What!? That's right. I'm one Krispy Kreme away from being obese according to their scale. So let's look at their scale, shall we? BMI is a measure used to determine obesity. BMI is simply weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. First of all, the use of the metric system tells me that this measurement was created by someone outside the U.S. and probably set the category limitations with Americans in mind thinking that we're all overprivileged fat and lazy Big Mac munchers. Second, the only factors that play a role in determining this number is height and weight. But, that can't be accurate. There are plenty of people I know who are my same height and weight, but don't have the build. Some are all muscle, some are seriously lacking muscle, but according to this measurement they are all overweight and almost obese. What a joke.

But, what about definitions? We all think that we know what words mean, but for the sake of argument let's look them up. The Free Dictionary defines obese as "extremely fat, grossly overweight". Wesbter's is significantly nicer about it with their definition "having excessive body fat". Or maybe they're not being nice since that includes EVERYBODY. Excessive is defined as "more than what is necessary." Everyone has more body fat than what is necessary unless they're anorexic or something. Fat is defined as "notable for having an unusual amount of body fat."

So, to wrap up the differing definitions let me conclude the following. Webster's calls you obese if you have more body fat than what is necessary for your body to properly function. The Free Dictionary calls only those who are extremely notable for having unusual amounts of body fat and who are way beyond even being overweight obese. So, did this help you to decide who to look for the meaning of words from? It did for me.

In case this post has made you curious about what your own BMI is, I've kindly inserted the following link to a BMI Calculator so that you, too, can feel good about yourself. Use with caution, you may not like the results. In case you are reading this and don't have a way to check the link, then here is the formula: Multiply your weight in pounds by 703 and then divide that number by your height in inches squared. Then the cutoffs are listed in the chart.

We Gotta Take The Power Back... dannah, dannah, dannooooww Come on, COME ON!

You may be wondering what was wrong with me when I typed the title to this blog, but I assure you that nothing new is wrong with me that hasn't always been wrong with me. It's simply some lyrics out of a RATM (Rage Against The Machine) song. And those words that aren't found in Webster's were my air guitar version of Tom Morello's amazing guitar manipulations. I say manipulations because Tom Morello doesn't play guitar, he manipulates one.

Anyway, air guitar and explanations aside, I wanted to say something in light of what is going on in Washington. I also would like to admit some incorrect thinking and make good on what I've previously talked about in the last blog (Bailout Bombed). I made it pretty clear that the financial institutions are the ones to blame for this need of a financial bailout. I pointed out that "their mistakes" of irresponsible lending are now costing us money if our government decides to give them our money. Now I sort of think that I was wrong. Sort of. Rather than go into my own words, I will simply insert a paragraph that I read on Here it is.

It seems there were many forces and organizations pressuring the financial institutions to make housing loans to folks who clearly would not qualify for them. Goes back to the turn of the century. The ruse was "affordable" housing, and the slogan was "everyone has a right to own a home". (Not according to the Constitution). It was a well thought out project. It was calculated that a bailout would be needed. Congressional members supported it. A few resisted, even those resistors knew what would happen. The pressure was heavy and many-fronted. The financial institutions must lend to unqualified borrowers. Ultimately, the scheme would lead to having the citizens buy houses for the low income earners that couldn't qualify. This is clear socialism. More than that, it was calculated, premeditated, theft. It is against the U. S. Constitution for the U. S. Federal Government to do this.

The author of this paragraph is Gene Simmons. No, he's not the guy from Kiss who sticks out his tongue, but the founder of the National Debt Awareness Campaign (NDAC) who willfully bares the burden of informing individuals like me and you the truth behind the government's decisions that affect the economy and also unfortunately bares the burden of having the same name as an infamous goober. You all should make some time to read through this highly informative website that isn't flashy by design but is clearly devoted to teaching the American public the problems with our economic system. However, unlike so many other sites I have found, this one also offers solutions beyond a mere suggestion as to who to vote for. So you are aware, the NDAC does not support or endorse any political party.

I wonder now if Jodi and I didn't benefit from this pressure on the financial institutions in some way. We got approved for our home loan in January of last year after a long road of fixing our (when I say "our" I mean "my") bad credit and building up good credit. I wonder if we would have qualified under normal circumstances. However, I would hardly put us into a category alongside all these people who are foreclosing on their homes. Most of these cases are with people who couldn't afford the home that they were buying in the first place. Some people just shouldn't be able to buy a home if they don't have the income to warrant it. We had the income and the career longevity and job security and the low debt-to-income ratio. We just had a poor credit score since we had a severe lack of credit hits. I always thought that it was good to buy things outright in cash and that it was responsible to turn down credit card offers. However, it turns out that if you ever do want to borrow money, you'll need to show a history of doing just that. Which makes sense, but then the problem of getting that first lender to lend you money arises.

I've strayed here a bit, but I wanted to let it be known that the NDAC has done a lot more research than I have concerning the subject of today's financial crisis. Therefore, I'm inclined to believe now that maybe our government has planned all along to take this money from us and to give it to the financial institutions so that it allows the financial institutions to keep funneling money everywhere. And why not? Every time that money changes hands in the US, the government takes a piece. And when no one is buying and no one is selling, the government feels it necessary that they intervene to get things moving again so that they can go back to collecting. I'll end this with two more quotes.

For society as a whole, nothing comes as a 'right' to which we are 'entitled'. Even bare substance has to be produced.... The only way anyone can have a right to something that has to be produced is to force someone else to produce it... The more things are provided as rights, the less the recipients have to work and the more the providers have to carry the load. -Thomas Sowell (quoted in Forbes and Reader's Digest

A politician cannot spend one dime on any spending project without first taking that dime from the person who earned it. So, when a politician votes for a spending bill he is saying that he believes the government should spend that particular dollar rather than the individual who worked for it. -Neil Boortz

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