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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!

Merry Christmas!

Merry (belated) Christmas everybody!

This was Lyric the morning after Christmas. The light coming in the window was just enough to give Lyric a light saber.

History of Motorola

Last night, Jodi and I watched Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. I wasn't sure about the prospect of watching it despite having enjoyed the first one. I saw a couple negative reviews of people saying the humor was too silly. I didn't get that impression at all in the movie. It's a family movie, for sure, so there is a little slapstick humor that was intended to make the kids roll on the floor, but for the most part they did a fine job of incorporating humor that was fun for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw of it.

We started the movie about 10:00 PM and after finishing a 57-hour week at work, my fatigue got the best of me. I only saw about an hour of the movie and then proceeded to wake up near the end when the music is getting all climactic and loud. I started to watch again, but upon seeing Jodi snoozing beside me, I decided to ignore the screen so that we could retry where we dozed off and finish the movie together at another time.

With the movie over and the credits rolling, I felt safe to watch while I tried to find the strength to get off the couch and start the task of getting ready for bed. They showed a little clip alongside the credits of a young man they had showed earlier in the movie. His mother was calling him down to dinner or something and he says, "In a minute!" The mother then calls him by his whole name as mothers often do when becoming impatient with their children. The joke is that earlier in the movie Ben Stiller's character finds himself transported into the famous black and white photo of the sailor kissing the nurse in the middle of the street in Times Square. During this brief stint of running around in the black and white street scene, he drops his elaborate cell phone and a young sailor, this kid I mentioned during the credits, picks it up. During the short credits scene, the young man is tinkering with the phone (which appears to be a Blackberry or a similar PDA style phone) and his mother, becoming impatient, calls out, "Joey Motorola, you get down here this instant!"

I might have found this funny, but I already knew enough history to know that the name Motorola didn't come from it's creator's surname. This aside, the joke would've still failed in its attempt to humor me for the time discrepancy. The famous photo, as shown here, that the main character gets transported into was taken at the end of World War II, more specifically on Victory over Japan day, August 14, 1945. From what I knew of Motorola, the company, it had emerged out of the Great Depression which took place after the stock market crashed in 1929.

I did some research and found that Motorola became one of the largest electronics companies in the United States, but like most companies, they had a very humble beginning. The company started in 1928 as Galvin Manufacturing Company. They made a product called a battery eliminator. Most home radios were designed to run off of battery power. The battery eliminator converted the radio to allow it to be plugged into a home's AC outlet. The company started to flop when the market crashed and people stopped buying anything that wasn't an absolute necessity. That's when the owner, Paul Galvin, began talking to engineers at a radio parts company who shared space within the same Chicago manufacturing facility as they. They formed a group who designed the first radio for an automobile in 1930.

They named the radio 'Motorola' because they felt that it suggested music in motion. This was because, since 1901, a company named Victor produced phonographs. Their most popular model was named 'Victrola'. This had become a household name by 1930. So, in essence, Galvin was combining 'motor' which was most commonly associated with vehicles and the last part of a household name known for music to produce the name for their designed automotive radio. They became so popular that Galvin changed the name of their company from Galvin Manufacturing Company to Motorola.

One of the people in the group that designed the radio was Elmer Wavering who was only a young man of 23 at the time. He had been working at the radio parts company when Galvin got the group together. Many years later, Wavering and several others would create the first automotive alternator that could be easily mass produced. In his later years he would say that the alternator was, by far, his greatest achievement. He said, "The car radio made driving more enjoyable, but the alternator made everything else possible." The consistent power of the alternator, as opposed to the inefficient generators that were previously used, made many things possible including power locks, power brakes, power seats, power steering, electric wipers, air conditioning, etc. This is just to name a few really. Take it from a guy who for years drove a 1959 Ford truck that had a generator. Almost nothing was power. Not even the windshield wipers, which ran off of air compression from the engine. They would barely be moving when idling at a stop. They'd quit working altogether while accelerating and then would finally work fairly well after having reached cruising speed.

The reason I knew some of this information already was because of my love for old cars. In the owner's manual for my 1962 Plymouth Valiant it shows a Victrola as one of the available options for the car. Yes, a record player, that mounted under the dash. One can be seen demonstrated here in this YouTube video. After having seen one in action, I want one really bad. And, who knows, maybe someday I will run across one on Craiglist for free. While I'm dreaming, though, I should really make it where they pay me to take it off their hands. And, the money they pay me is just enough to repair whatever may be wrong with it. Then, while repairing it I find some important piece of history inside. I open up a 1950's style diner and have the historical item as the centerpiece to the restaurant. And, people come from all over to see it, and discover Jodi's and my awesome healthy cooking. Then, people pay us millions of dollars as the restaurant is transformed into a franchise of healthy fast food restaurants that eventually forces McDonald's to close their doors. What? It could happen.

Back to what I was originally blogging about, I find it funny how a small business that figured out how to power those old huge radios of the 1920's without batteries grew into making these contraptions shown here, a phone/datebook/camera with flash/DVD quality video camera/address book/internet browser/voice-recognizing computer/television/GPS/MP3 player. There's probably more to mention but I don't actually have one, so I don't know all the functions.


It was a beautiful and warm sunny day in early September. I had just turned 20 years old in June and I was feeling very much like I was no longer a kid and I had reached full adulthood. I was also feeling very much like a failure in life. I had been unemployed for the first time since starting working. It had only been a month, but I was desperate for a paycheck. I knew nothing about SRC, but was told by my uncle that I should go and apply and that my cousin's husband could get me an interview.

I stepped out of the warm sunlight and into the 1960's front office complete with wood paneling. I filled out an application and while I quietly sat there and wrote out my non-impressive job history of several fast food places, a brief stint at a telecommunications call center, and the most recent manual labor job that apparently hadn't stuck, a man walked in to check on the status of his application. The patch on his arm indicated that he was an ASE certified mechanic. The secretary told him that he hadn't been selected, but that his application was still good for another month at which time he would have to fill out a new one to keep one on file with them. He had been waiting already two months with no word.

I was tempted to just walk out without finishing my application since if this certified mechanic couldn't get a job with them, how would my pizza making skills convince them to hire me? I reluctantly finished and turned it in. I got a call the next day to set up a panel interview. I was astonished, but accepted.

The interview consisted of sitting in a folding metal chair surrounded by three managers from three different departments. Later, I was told by my boss, one of the interviewers, that what convinced him to hire me was my response to his question: "How do you feel about overtime?" I immediately responded with, "As much as you can give me." I guess that they had a group of employees reluctant to work it, but I was just fine working 63 hours a week, every week, for years.

Over the nine and a half years I worked there my titles went from Cycle Counter, to Forklift Operator, to Shipper/Packager, to Receiving Clerk, to Traffic Assistant, to Inventory Control Manager, to Warehouse Supervisor, to Materials Manager, and finally to Supply Chain Coordinator.

I wrote a blog about my leaving SRC back in December of 2008 which can be found by clicking this link. Originally, I planned to take three months off and if SRC didn't hire me back at that time, then I'd go find a new job. I did look for a job during that time somewhat, but wasn't going to take just any job. If I was going to go back to work it was going to be with a company that recognized and was willing to pay for the skills that I had acquired over the years. I'm a math guy, and I did the math and found out that we would be okay financially for three months and if we needed to we could possibly stretch it out to 5 or 6, but that was definitely going to be a stretch and maybe not even possible. It was 11 months. And we were perfectly fine financially. God is good. Recently, we even did some financial math to fill out an application for a loan for a business venture that we're working on. In going back to see what our recent income had been, we couldn't help but laugh. The final dollar amount was ridiculously low, and yet we lived quite comfortably. I love it when God reveals himself so obviously. I could do all the math and figure out where it all came from directly, but I know where it all came from indirectly so I don't feel the need to waste the time.

DEI has been great so far. I really like the people there and the smaller company feel. Additionally, they respect what I am worth even more so than SRC which should know better than anyone. After all, they were the ones who invested so much money and time in me in the first place. They took a pizza delivery boy with nothing more than a high school education and turned him into a businessman. For that, among other reasons, I am grateful.

Thanksgiving 2009

With Thanksgiving slowly becoming a distant memory, all the focus has rapidly turned towards Christmas. However, I would like to pause for a moment and write a quick blog about our Thanksgiving this year.

It all started early this year. Four days early, to be exact. But, any time is a good time to be thankful to God for what we have and who we are. In order to coordinate with all the family members, my mom had Thanksgiving dinner at her house the weekend before Thanksgiving Day. I thought that I might wind up at work Monday with a turkey-hangover, but all was well.

It was a good time. I really enjoyed getting to hangout with everybody, particularly my brother and his family who braved the trip from Michigan. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we all took advantage by hanging out outside and watching the kids ride motorcycles.

Then, for the big day, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house for the first time with Jodi's family and even some of mine. Jodi's family usually has Thanksgiving at Jodi's Aunt Marilyn's house in West Plains. But, she rented the house out this year and I doubt that the renters would have appreciated a bunch of strangers showing up at their door and letting themselves in.

It was a lot of fun and everything turned out wonderful thanks to all the family and friends that pitched in to help with bringing items and preparing the last minute dishes.

A friend of ours brought a cooked turkey with him. Had I known to expect this, I probably wouldn't have bought the largest bird I could find weighing in at over 21 pounds. Oh well. The more the merrier. Both birds were good, but I must say that Jodi did a fantastic job of cooking it and I benefited from a tip that I saw that morning, during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, to carve the turkey against the grain of the meat. This makes the turkey really tender and avoids that tough meatiness that most of us associate with turkey.

Having two turkeys left us with a good problem of having multiple pounds of awesome turkey left over. We knew that with the sheer volume of turkey leftover that there was no way that we were going to eat all of it without growing tired of it no matter how good it may be. So, we got inventive. One night, we had fajitas and used the turkey in place of steak or chicken. It was excellent and it took virtually no time at all to prepare since the meat was already cooked. We just heated it up in a pan with some water and a fajita seasoning packet and wahlah!

We still had plenty to go around so I took a bunch and pulled the meat into strings. I then cooked this down slowly with BBQ sauce, water, and brown sugar to make pulled turkey sandwiches. Instead of using bread, I had a bunch of dinner rolls left over that worked perfectly. They were still connected to each other from baking so I took four rolls in a square and cut them in half sideways to make two thick pieces of bread. It was probably full of calories, but tasted wonderful.

The two carcasses made an awesome turkey soup that had a surprising amount of meat. Jodi slow cooked it all night and it was delicious.

Have I Gone Too Far? You Be The Judge

I should be really tired, but I'm strangely not. I should be turkey-tired, but I'm going strong. It's currently almost 1:30 AM on Black Friday and will surely be beyond that when I finally get this blog typed up.

The thing is: I need your help. Tonight, I was fixing my computer and while it was formatting another hard drive the slow way, I decided to hop online and kill some time by catching up on my blog reading. I read one of my favorite blogs and was astonished to see the term "xmas" used. I'm sure that the author didn't mean it derogatorily, as I know that they are Christians. However, their usage of it, while most certainly innocent, prompted me to do a little research.

My string of searches led me eventually to a blog written by Tommy Sparger who was writing a blog that mirrored many things that I had just read on a previous article on an atheist's resource website (I won't link to that site nor will I give the name of it for obvious reasons.) I'm not saying that they were one and the same, but simply pointing out that they were coming to the same conclusion based off of the same argument being used. This especially struck me since I could see that Tommy Sparger seemed to be somewhat connected to North Point Church (a local church here in Springfield) from what I could see from his blog page.

Of course, I disagreed with the atheist's argument but there was no place for comments of any kind by the reader and I may have been hesitant to comment anyway since the theme of the lengthy article clearly considered me to be the enemy. But, I couldn't idly stand by and watch someone in the church make a similar argument with the same conclusion and not be called out on the fallacy in which the argument was being made. So, I left a comment. It was a long one, but all of it necessary to make my point. I finished, felt good about what I had wrote, and posted the comment. I incorrectly assumed, because many blogs are, that the blog would be moderated. It wasn't. The comment posted right away and was visible for all to see. I was surprised by this, but was also happy that those who read the blog might also read my comment and therefore would not as easily be misled. After it posted, I went on to North Point Church's website using the link provided to see if I would be able to get any clues to who this Tommy was in regards to the church. I found out in a matter of seconds that he's the lead pastor. Oops.

I'm still feeling right about what was said and I feel that it needed to be, but all of a sudden, now I wonder what, if any, sort of repercussion there might be to having this out there for all to read. After all, according to their website, there are about 3500 people that attend this church, and surely someone will run across my comment, if someone hasn't already. Maybe I should have conveyed my message a little more lovingly? I don't know. Tell me what you think in a comment, please.

Below is what was written in Tommy's blog:
At North Point Church, we are about to start a 4 week series of unforgettable Christmas moments. It will rock. You won’t want to miss one week. Don’t come to the services late because we will open each service with crazy Christmas elements that will blow you away. This series starts the weekend of November 28th/29th and runs for 4 straight weekends - through December 19th/20th. The music, the drama, the production, will be out of this world. Something new every week. You will want to “invest & invite” all of your friends and family to this very relevant series!

We are calling this series: “Xmas - Discover the true Christ of Christmas”

I repeat….. we are discovering the true Christ of Christmas, not kicking Him out! We are putting Him in - not taking Him out. That is the point of this series.

Some people think the term “Xmas” is some diabolical plot to subvert Christmas. Many religious people think that to use the term “Xmas” is to take Christ out of Christmas. Replace Him. The truth is, this kind of thinking only shows how uninformed or misinformed, and unnecessarily militant with misinformation, many Christians are concerning their own faith.

The origin of the term Xmas comes from the greek spelling of Christ, which begins with the letter Chi (X).

The origin of the word “Xmas”, is thoroughly Christian. Dennis Bratcher, who wrote an article about the origin of “Xmas” says: “All of the hype and hysteria over supposedly taking Christ out of Christmas by writing “Xmas” instead of spelling out “Christmas” is both uniformed and misdirected.” Abbreviations used as Christian symbols have a long history in the church. The letters of the word “Christ” in Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, or various titles for Jesus early became symbols of Christ and Christianity.

Dennis Bratcher says ” So there is no grand scheme to dilute Christianity by promoting the use of Xmas instead of Christmas. it is not a modern invention to try to convert Christmas into a secular day, nor is it a device to promote the commercialism of the holiday season. Its origin is thoroughly rooted in the heritage of the Church. It is simply another way to say Christmas, drawing on a long history of symbolic abbreviations used in the church. In fact, as with other abbreviations used in common speech or writing (such as Mr. or etc.), the abbreviation “Xmas” should be pronounced “Christmas” just as if the word were written out in full, rather than saying “exmas.” Understanding this use of Christian symbolism might help us modern day Xians focus on more important issues of Faith during Advent, and bring a little more Peace to the Xmas Season.”

Wikipedia -

“In Greek, the letter Χ (chi), is the first letter of Christ, and it, or the similar Roman letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for Christ since the mid-16th century.[9] Hence, Xmas is often used as an abbreviation for Christmas.” -

“Xmas has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents a Greek chi, the first letter of Χριστος, “Christ.” In this use it is parallel to other forms like Xtian, “Christian.” But people unaware of the Greek origin of this X often mistakenly interpret Xmasas an informal shortening pronounced (ĕksPRIMARY_STRESSməs). Many therefore frown upon the term Xmas because it seems to them a commercial convenience that omits Christ from Christmas.”

“Today, with knowledge of classical languages being less widespread than formerly, some erroneously believe that the term Xmas is part of an effort to “take Christ out of Christmas” or to literally “cross out Christ”;[7] it is seen as evidence of the secularization of Christmas, as a symptom of the commercialization of the holiday (as the abbreviation has long been used by retailers).”

I thought you might find the following article from interesting:

I left the following comment which became comment number twelve on his blog with most people supporting or defending the use of the term "xmas."
I, too, must disagree with the stance of this blog.

Regardless of the origins of the usage of the term 'X-mas' as defined here by the author of this blog and then "confirmed" by several websites, the current usage in modern speech and writing forms of the popular majority pronounce it "exsmas" and have no more knowledge of its origin than they have of the origin of the term "jay walking."

The author contends that anyone who takes issue with the substitution of "Christ' for 'X' must be "uninformed or misinformed, and unnecessarily militant with misinformation." He quotes others as saying that they are "misdirected."

So, who from shall we receive direction? From the author of this blog? Maybe from the websites in which he received his information? North Point Church?

If all that these sources can do is point me to an ancient language that scarcely resembles its modern counterpart to prove the origin as innocent, than I am justified in dismissing the argument as obviously missing the point.

People today are not etymologists (those who study the history of words) by default. Assuming such for argument's sake is not only preposterous but downright deceitful to all those who are subjected to it.

The bottom line is that it is a fallacious argument, and intellectually irresponsible as well, to use the origin of a term thousands of years old and from a foreign language to such boldly assert that the use of the term now must not be any different from its original intent.

Furthermore, it's shameful that a short trip to Wikipedia, Snopes, etc. was enough of an intellectually honest path for the people here to make others feel that they were supposedly misinformed. The irony displayed here would be humorous if it weren't so sad to begin with.

And, just to answer those who, no doubt, will attempt to place me in the category of "misinformed religious militants who can't seem to focus on the more important issues of Faith" as this article so well paints it, at least I am not running (or defending) a huge church that is wasting weeks of precious time arguing ancient semantics to justify an aspect of a modern secular worldview in the guise of being "relevant."

Again, I want to know if you think that I went too far or if I was right to argue the case. Either opinion is welcome. I promise that I will not comment on your opinion unless you specifically ask me to do so.

A Copy of Our Listing

Scroll down for lots of photos!

1900 + sq. ft.
3 Bedroom
2 Bathrooms (1 full/1 half) both completely renovated and remodeled
Brand New Kitchen (cabinets galore, black appliances, garbage disposal, built-in recycling center, and many more custom features)
Formal Dining Room
Foyer with built-in bookcase
10 ft ceilings on first floor
Beautiful Molding throughout
Huge Brand New Mud/Utility Room
Refinished Hardwood floors
New ceramic tile in Kitchen, both Baths and Utility
Basement (partial unfinished)
Central Forced Heat and Air
New Roof (2008)
New Gutters (2008)
1 Car Detached Garage (New Roof 2008)
Covered Front Porch
Fenced Backyard w/Garden Wall
Mature Trees and Shrubbery
Alley Access
Great Central Location, Close to Downtown Shopping and Entertainment






Thanks for looking!

Block! You're being annoying!

Who isn't on a social networking site these days? I consider myself very computer savvy and an avid surfer of the Internet, however not even I really know what a Twitter is or how many calories one might contain. On the other hand, I do write blogs (obviously) and maintain my blog page, I maintain a website for my photography, I have a profile on Facebook, I had a profile on MySpace up until about a month ago, and I have a couple photo-sharing sites that I seldom do anything with. I ditched the MySpace profile when I just suddenly realized that I never log on anymore. When I would randomly jump on, I would immediately log back out after seeing that I had no messages. I thought that deleting my profile might feel a little like ripping off a band-aid, but I was pleased to find that the act had no physical ramifications.

A couple blogs ago, I wrote about a certain photo that I spent some time restoring. I mentioned that I was going to try and track down some living relatives of the young men in the photograph. I wasn't kidding. I procrastinated a little, but I was serious about finding someone. I thought that it would be easy to find at least one living relative of one of these guys, but it might prove to be more difficult than what I originally had thought.

See? I decided to utilize one of the most well known social networking sites to aid me in my quest to reunite history with present. Facebook was my choice. It wasn't extremely helpful, but it sufficed, or so I thought. I clicked "find friends" and searched the last name of one of the players on the team. Then, I narrowed the search by city, which is one of three ways to narrow it down. MySpace was better than this. MySpace allowed you to narrow it down by 10, 25, 50, or 100 miles. I would of preferred it this way, but I'll take what I can get. I narrowed it down to zero people by doing this. I tried again using another name. Same result.

Finally, on the third name, I had 21 people in Springfield with the last name. I wrote out an e-mail explaining what I was doing and intended to upload the three photos to the message. But, Facebook only allows you to upload one photo for such a message. Oh well, I didn't really feel like waiting for all of them to upload for every message, anyway. I figured that I would just HTML code them in. No such luck. Facebook doesn't accept HTML coding in messages. They do allow you to slap in a link as long as you don't attempt to HTML code it in automatically. Nevertheless, I went through the stupid process of clicking the "add a hyperlink" button and pasting my link in there so that they could code it for me in their own little Facebook language.

So, I tediously went down the list of names clicking "Send a Message" then copying and pasting the Subject line, the message body, and adding the hyperlink. I got about five messages in and, all of the sudden, I got a message telling me that I was annoying, that I was sending messages much too quickly, and that I needed to slow things down or else. I took a screenshot which you can read for yourself here on the right. If the text is too small, as with all my blog photos, click on the photo and it will make it bigger.

Incredulously, I thought, "Isn't this what social networking sites are for?" Here I am trying to connect people with their past and doing it in a very polite, non-intrusive way and I'm being accused of being annoying or something? I wasn't about to let a pop-up warning message stop me, so I continued with my messaging only to see the same message a couple more times. I continued, anyway. Then, I got another message. The screenshot is pictured here. They shut me down. I can't message anyone now. Apparently, I'll be allowed to use the messaging system again in either a few hours or a few days, Facebook wasn't sure which. Is this my sentence? I got 3 hours to 3 days in Facebook Messaging jail? Come on!

I understand protecting people from spammers, but shouldn't Facebook recognize that I'm not a hacked program attempting to send out hundreds of thousands of messages to unsuspecting victims, but instead just a mere social network member trying to be social? So, if you don't receive any messages from me on Facebook in the next few days, don't get offended. I'm just doing time in Facebook jail. Some people showed up outside, though, to protest my incarceration. I'm especially touched by their willingness to stand around out in the rain just to support my cause. I really like the guy's socks who is holding the sign with my name on it. Hopefully, the socks will get me an early release date.

This Little Piggy Went To The Market

With our house pretty much ready to be on the market, Jodi wrote out a list of our house's features so that we could see what kind of listing it would be. It was actually a long list which is great. I kind of felt like it wouldn't be, but I've been guilty of looking at it through a different perspective. We've been in this house for over two and a half years now and even though it has come a long way we still have many projects that we've thought up that we haven't even begun. I'm sure that every home owner probably feels this way when they begin the process of selling their home.

We've put every extra dollar we've had into this house and many more that weren't extra at all. We've sacrificed vacations, fancy dinners, and many other things that lots of people enjoy not because of a lack of funds but because we took our available funds and bought building materials instead. So, in place of lying on a beach for a week one year, we spent a month working after we got home from work.

There are times when I start to wonder what it would be like to live in a house that was new and didn't need anything done to it. I realize that the majority of people live in this category. Or maybe they're not the majority. Maybe they're second to the group of people who live in homes that need work done but choose not to do anything about it. Either way, I wonder if I would be content to live that way or if I would feel compelled to run out and buy a fixer-upper just to tinker with in my spare time.

Speaking of spare time, we never have too much of it around here. Many people don't, so I'm not saying that we're special or anything, but I do take notice of the lack of time to dedicate to maintaining friendships. Sometimes, I wonder why I have friends at all. I rarely call anyone. I very rarely ask anyone to do anything. And, fairly often, when asked to get together with friends I have to decline because of something that we have to do or something we have going on. And, yet, we still have plenty of good friends. I guess, it's because they're good people who choose not to take offense when they don't hear from me.

So, thanks to you all who have hung in there with us. When we're rich and famous we won't forget you. :) But, also to all those who are familiar with our house, I have a job for you. Look at the "listing" below and let me know if you have any suggestions to make it better whether it be a rewording of something, an item to list that we forgot about, or a section to take out altogether. Whatever the suggestion, we'd love to hear it. Thanks!

1900+ sq. ft.
3 Bedroom
2 Bathrooms (1 full/1 half) both completely renovated and remodeled
Brand New Kitchen (cabinets galore, black appliances, garbage disposal, built-in recycling center, and many more custom features)
Formal Dining Room
Foyer with built-in bookcase
10 ft ceilings downstairs
Beautiful Molding throughout
Huge Brand New Mud/Utility Room
Refinished Hardwood floors
New ceramic tile in Kitchen, both Baths and Utility
Basement (partial unfinished)
Central Forced Heat and Air
New Roof (2008)
New Gutters (2008)
1 Car Detached Garage (New Roof 2008)
Covered Front Porch
Fenced Backyard w/Garden Wall
Mature Trees and Shrubbery
Alley Access
Great Central Location, Close to Downtown Shopping and Entertainment

Photo Restoration

Almost a year ago, I took on my first job of photo restoration. I haven't done a whole lot of it, but I love working on them. It mixes two of my hobbies, editing photos and restoring things. There's just something about taking something old and making it new again that I can't seem to get enough of. It's no secret that I love taking something unwanted and make it into something desirable, but it's even more rewarding to take someone's prized possessions and restore them back to their original condition. It's even possible to make them better than they were to begin with.

Recently, I added a section to my portfolio on my photography website for photo restoration. You should check it out if you get a chance. As a matter of fact, you should check out the entire portfolio if you haven't seen it in a while. I've updated all the different categories and some of my more recent stuff has been some of my best work ever.

I needed to add to my list of examples, so I thought that I'd hop online real quick and find an old photo that needed a few touch-ups. I went to a site that I had recently checked out that I knew was full of historic photos and found this one. You can see that the original black and white photo is heavily faded. Many of the original details have been lost already, and many more will slowly disappear as the passage of time continues. The problem is not necessarily the lack of care for these items, but usually due to the lack of quality of the paper and the chemicals used to create the photograph in the first place. Since it was first discovered that silver nitrate darkened when exposed to light roughly two-hundred years ago, the process of capturing two-dimensional images of reality has improved at a slow rate, or at least up until the advent of the digital camera. But even since the digital age, the quality of making hard copies of these images has been slow to improve. Photos from 100 years ago are fading whether they are exposed to light or not. Some photos from 50 years ago have contrasted out and have lost their precious details. Color photos from 25 years ago are turning brown or orange. No one really knows what modern photo paper will look like after decades of being stored or displayed. We'll find out in time, though.

This is after I fixed the de-contrasting, removed the spots and hand-writing, and gave it back some detail that was hiding from view but was still there waiting to be discovered. This baseball team was actually a semi-professional one from Monett, Missouri. They traveled around for all their games by rail. They were all paid players. Hundreds of people would come to watch them from all over Southwest Missouri. The price of admission was a quarter. Even though they came from a small town like Monett, they played big. They were one of the best teams in the state. This photograph was taken their first year in 1908. While working on this photo, I thought of how neat it would be to find one of these guys and show him the repaired photo. But, then I suddenly realized that no one pictured here would still be around today. That was kind of a sad realization. I then wondered if there were descendants from these men that could be found. Would they all be aware that their grandfathers played semi-pro baseball on a team that gained notoriety throughout the state?

I spent about an hour adding color to this photograph and I just love the way that it turned out. It really came alive for me. Old black and white photos are interesting but they lack the color that makes a photograph so vividly alive. It's difficult to imagine what life would have been like back then. So, adding color to this photo is exactly what I think that it needed. These guys may be long gone from us now, but studying this photo really brings them to life all over again in my mind. I think that I'll try to hunt down some living relatives of these boys and give them what I've got. If, I find anyone, I'll write a blog about it, trust me.

Craigslist Trolling Pays Off

Not so long ago, I remember scanning through the PennyPower, our local classified ads weekly periodical, for good deals. It was fun because it was in no particular order, so to find something specific you just had to wade through hundreds of 150-letter ad spaces that were trying to sell anything from dump trucks to garden gnomes. Our local newspaper, the News-Leader, also had a classified ads section, but it was never any good. Everything was in order, but it really lacked participation which I can only assume was because they charged too much for ad space. The News-Leader eventually bought the PennyPower after years of coming in a distant second place and incorporated it into their newspaper. Once again, I assume that the price for ad space has failed to become any more reasonable and so the ads are few and the power of the PennyPower is dead even though their name lives on.

Craigslist showed up here in Springfield just in time. The idea of having free ad space and to a great many more possible buyers than the paper could ever claim just got me excited. We quickly added Craigslist to our list of bookmarks on the toolbar of our Firefox web browser and jump on several times a day to see what's being offered next.

I've used it to give away things, get things for free, buy items, and sell items. I've managed to sell things that otherwise I would have had to just toss out to be rid of and I've obtained items with no more effort than dropping by and picking them up.

Out of all the different things we've managed to get for free on Craigslist, our latest find takes the cake for sure. Last week, I was checking the free section for the millionth time and I spotted a recent listing for a cash register. The ad said that it was from the 50's or 60's and that it was very heavy, more than a hundred pounds. There really wasn't any other details so I had no idea what it was, but I knew that I wanted it. I quickly wrote an e-mail showing my interest in it and explaining what I would do with it. I also threw in that I could pick it up any time at her convenience.

Two days went by and I hadn't heard anything. I saw that the listing had been deleted, so I had wrote it off in my mind and assumed that it had been given away to someone with faster typing skills than myself. Then, on the third day, I got a phone call. She wanted to know if I still wanted it. I restrained myself from screaming, "YEEESSSS!!" and simply said that I would love to pick it up. She gave me a few more details about including that it was made out of mostly solid brass. I can't really raise just a single eyebrow like people in movies, but if I could it would have been way up there, because I'm well aware that anything large made out of solid brass usually predates World War I. All the brass went to the war effort and since then almost nothing has been made from solid brass. Many items are brass plated but very few are brass through and through. I just figured that it was plated and kept my mouth shut about it.

She wanted to make sure that I wasn't just going to scrap it and asked me a few questions. I assured her that my wife and I both have a love for old antiques, particularly "turn-of-the-century" items. No, not 2000. She then offered me an antique sewing machine as well which I accepted.

I met her at the storage unit that the items were in. I saw the cash register and immediately knew that it was way older than what she thought, but managed to keep my cool about it in front of her. After loading it and the sewing machine in the truck she also gave me three mirrors, one of which is about 5 feet by 3 feet in a 6-inch-wide gold leaf frame. Score!

After getting home with the items, I did some research on the register and with the aid of the serial number and a couple collector's websites, I narrowed down the date of manufacture between November 1907 and January 1908! It is solid brass and weighs every bit of 180 pounds. It's amazing. We've been cleaning it up a bit, but we have decided to keep the aged patina look rather than get it down to the actual gold-colored brass look.

If I get nothing more from Craigslist, I will forever love it simply for this item. On one of the collector's sites I found these photos. I didn't include a photo of the back of ours but it looks exactly like the one in this General Store except ours is a slightly larger model than the one pictured. You'll have to click on the photo so that it zooms in so that you can make out the register at the far right. The other photo is one that has been fully restored but it is a slightly newer model so there are a few differences you'll notice. Neat, huh?

Garden Wall

Finally, the wall is actually nearing completion! I'm sure that most of you have no idea what I am talking about. You old-school blog followers may remember a certain wall that I was preparing to build that I wrote about May 30, 2008. No, there's no error here. I did say May of 2008! That day, I managed to remove the fence, gate, small trees, and roots that were in my way and set a concrete footing for my garden wall. It took all day, but I made it.

Not long after this, I did start my wall. I reused some cinder blocks that my work had removed from their building. For fancy-pants purposes I will call it 'reclaimed block.' Just trying to spice up the house listing a bit, you know? The problem was that I decided to stagger the blocks for structural strength. This means that I would either need some half blocks or I would need to use my handy-dandy masonry saw to cut some full-size blocks in half. Too bad I have no such saw. And, as it turns out half blocks are not that easy to come by any more. So, the wall got put off and put off and put off some more. I had laid about 25 blocks or so and got it as far as I could with the material I had at the time.

In light of getting our house ready to market, the back burner project was moved up to the forefront again. I found some half bricks at Glenstone Block and picked up all the rest of the needed supplies at Lowe's. All the bricks are now laid and I even got the door frame built and inserted. This can be seen in the photo. The next step is to concrete up the sides to give it a stucco look. Everything seen in the photo will be covered and then we'll paint it the desired color with masonry paint. Lastly, I'll install the heavy wooden door that isn't built yet. I just got the wood for it tonight thanks to my awesome father-in-law, Larry Bales. Thanks, Larry!

The concrete work will begin on Monday since that's the start of a 3-day stretch of good weather. I'll post pictures when it's completed.

Afternoon Adventures

Last Thursday, I dropped off Jacob's bike at his school in the morning when I dropped him off. By doing so, Jodi, Lyric, and I were able to ride our bikes when school let out and "pick him up." Of course, Lyric didn't ride his bike but instead caught a ride in the toddler seat on my bike. The trip was 3 1/2 miles one way which isn't too bad at all. The only downside is that we live on the opposite side of downtown from Jacob's school. So, it's no leisurely ride through the countryside. It's an urban landscape no matter which route we take.

The flip-side of that coin is that if we want to stop somewhere for fun we have a seemingly infinite amount of choices. We pass Park Central Library, several coffee shops, all the fun downtown restaurants, art galleries, two movie theaters, the history museum, the Family Y, the Discovery Center, etc. The list goes on and on. So the possibilities are endless.

For our first ride we stopped and ate an early dinner at possibly the smallest eat-in restaurant in Springfield, Chicago CheeseSteak Company. As always, click on the photos to make them larger, but don't expect this restaurant to get much bigger. It seats a total of four customers which works out since that's how many of us there are. From the photo you can tell that this restaurant isn't a building at all. The walls on both sides are simply the outside walls of the buildings next door. It was literally built into an alley about 7 feet wide. The food was delicious. The boys split an all-beef hot dog, Jodi tried the CheeseSteak, and I had a BBQ Beef sandwich. Everyone left satisfied.

I think that we'll try and make a thing of it and make the trip at least once a week and stop somewhere new every time.

P.S. Upon reviewing my posted blog, I just noticed that the address for the restaurant is 319 and 1/2. Funny.

Over the Hedge and Through the Woods

Jodi and I have decided to get our house ready for sale. We've been working for years now on the renovating and we've come a long way, however most of the work that we've put into the house is in the house as opposed to out. We've somewhat neglected the exterior while beautifying the interior. The result: a house that people judge from the outside and then marvel at the inside because they "had no idea" it was so nice. While we do enjoy the oohs and aahs from guests we receive after they tour the interior we can't help but notice the lack of these noises from people as they walk up or as they leave. We're afraid that when these guests aren't our friends but rather potential buyers that they may not even make it up to the front porch if we don't drastically alter the appearance of our front yard.

Our realtor gave us some good advice when she told us that we need to work on curb appeal. She said, "No offense, but you need to cut your shrubs." She was right. We had let our hedges grow to enormous heights on purpose. We enjoyed the privacy that they provided. We could be out in our yard and none of our neighbors could tell. Unfortunately, she pointed out that a lot of potential buyers won't even stop the car when pulling up to a yard like ours out of fear. She made mention how police will think that there are drugs being made or sold in properties that are hidden like ours, and often neighbors will think the same. I think our neighbors know better, but I don't doubt that others won't.

So, the hedge got a trim. It was a lot of work. It took me all day, but it was worth it. We really don't care for the fact that we feel like everyone is looking at us, but we'll get used to it. I feel like a bit of a recluse in saying that, and maybe I am a little bit. I don't know.

Meanwhile, Jodi painted the porch and it looks wonderful! When we bought the house the porch was rotting out at the ends of the boards right where the staircase met the porch. We knew that if we waited too long we were going to come home to find our mailman had fallen through to the ground below. We didn't want to dispose of any mailman bodies, so my friend Mike and I cut out the rotten boards back to the next floor joist and replaced them with boards my friend Jake gave me from a job he did. Thanks Mike! Thanks Jake! We also replaced the beam on that end with a really heavy rough-cut hickory beam that my father-in-law gave us. He spotted the rot when we first bought the place and anticipated that I would need it. Thanks, Larry!

Then, I tore out the rotten porch railing that looked inviting enough to sit on but was really a deadly trap set by previous owner's neglect. It came out really easy and I replaced it with my own custom designed porch railing built with all treated lumber. We still have to paint the new porch railing white, but it already looks a ton better than it did.

Our list of things to do to spruce up our home's exterior isn't terribly long, but it'll take a lot of work. I'll keep my blog posted with all the new high-impact projects we take on.

Poo Poo Paper

A few weeks ago, I ran across this product in a unique little shop downtown during Art Walk. I was intrigued with the product for obvious reasons. I was fascinated that someone decided to find something useful to do with elephant poop. I can't imagine having such a crappy job. It would stink to work in such conditions. Sorry, but I couldn't resist the puns.

I love that they have made a novelty out of it. Although, I can't imagine that they can compete financially with other paper products without the novelty working for them. And what great fun it is. The second photo is one I took with my cell phone from the back of one of the products. If you can't see it well on your monitor then, as with all the pictures I post, click on them to make them larger. The cute little pictures depicting, in simple terms, the process in which they go about making paper from elephant feces is a hoot. The thing that I can't get past is how to get poop sanitized. Poop is one of those things that just seems dirty through and through. I don't doubt they do sanitize the product, but I just can't imagine what was going through the person's head who came up with this process. Was paper products the intended goal of the person who first started messing with it or was it just the byproduct of some intended prank? Maybe we'll never know.

Presidential Address

Usually when the President of the United States makes a statement on live television, a vast majority of Americans want to stop what they are doing and listen. The sit down speeches usually come during prime-time and wind up popping up on virtually every local broadcast channel. People like me, who rarely watch broadcast television, have little trouble avoiding the monologues from the faces of those whom my grandchildren might spot on some new denomination of dollar if we haven't gone to a one-world currency by then. Albeit a rare occasion, I do sometimes catch the highlights on the evening news or an online news report. I like to keep up on what is going on in the political arena. However, I also attempt to avoid the massive amount of jargon that accompanies the few informational bits that I would like to hear. So, there is a balancing act going on with my attention span during such addresses to the nation.

I just got notice earlier today of a planned Presidential Address for next Tuesday. It will take place at noon, Eastern Standard Time, instead of during the evening when the majority of Americans will be watching. The reason for this is that he isn't addressing the majority of Americans. He's addressing students. Specifically, kindergarten students through twelfth grade. To my knowledge, and my quick search of the Internet, I don't think that a President has ever done such a thing. The Department of Education has urged schools across the nation to allow all students to watch the planned address. In addition to being urged to allow students to watch the 20 to 30-minute live video of Obama's speech, faculties are also being given lesson plans to accompany the video, lesson plans that were drawn up by the Obama administration.

Upon finding out that Jacob's school intends to show the video, Jodi and I decided to opt Jacob out. He will instead be elsewhere with all the other concerned parents' children doing a different prepared civics lesson.

All of this happened this afternoon and I was surprised that I hadn't heard anything about it. However, the news reports are coming out now. People all over are taking issue with the proposed address. The White House ensures everyone that the Obama's speech is simply to encourage students to stay in school and to set goals and so forth, but Conservatives nationwide are calling it what it really is: a usurping of power by the Executive Branch of our Federal Government. They are intentionally showing this speech during school hours to side-step parents' involvement and influence, bypassing parents' right and power to educate our own children on matters of politics, morality, and ethics. By creating lesson plans, they are undermining our state's power and authority to comprise their own educational systems. Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russel said, "As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education. It gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality. This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq." And I happen to agree with him.

In the last nine months, we've seen the federal government seize control over our banking system and the automotive industry while attempting to gain regulatory control over our nation's health care. We've seen the largest debt accumulated in a single Presidential administration. And now, President Obama thinks that he can just bypass me and get to my kids' minds? He thinks that he can go live when I'm elsewhere and spill his eloquent tongue all over the place to create a positive image of himself to all the children in America? I don't think so.

Sushi Night

Last night we made sushi again. It was awesome! It keeps getting better and better every time we make it. And, we're getting faster with it, which is a good thing since sushi can seem to take forever to make. Here's a picture of just some of the rolls we made. We went a little overboard and made a total of 13 rolls. We had California rolls, eel rolls, shrimp rolls, and we even tried Mahi Mahi rolls both cooked and raw. We also made seafood sauce and used store bought wasabi mayonnaise and eel sauce to dip it all in. It was all delicious.

We made so much of it, though, that we also had it for breakfast and lunch today, not that we're complaining. It's the fastest breakfast and lunch there is since you're supposed to eat it chilled anyway. From the fridge to my mouth. I guess that all the time that it takes to make is made up for all the time that is saved later with the left-overs.

Coffeyville, KS

48 hours ago, I was dropped off at my friend's house. He, another friend, and I were all heading off to Coffeyville, Kansas to do a job. We're done with it now, and we're all home, but while we were there an interesting thing happened. At about 4:00 PM on Wednesday, from our hotel room, I heard the sound of a marching band. I looked out the window to find a parade slowly passing our hotel.

It was a neat little parade that was full of the things that you normally see in one. There were antique cars, riders on horseback, wagons, a military Hummer with soldiers on top, fire trucks, police cruisers, a marching band, etc. Candy was being tossed to children. People all over were smiling. I was entertained for several minutes just sitting on the curb taking in the sights and festive atmosphere but soon I realized that I had a rather drab view from the hotel's parking lot so I decided to set out on foot and see some of the other older buildings in town.

I knew nothing of Coffeyville other than that it had been, at one time, a relatively large producer of paver bricks. I've seen many antique bricks in many places that bear the name of Coffeyville, like the one pictured here. I've seen these bricks still in use today in downtown Springfield, MO, and in West Plains, MO. So, I was convinced that the town had enough history that there should be a significant amount of older buildings to see. It didn't take long to find some cool old buildings just around the first corner. I headed up Maple to 9th and then 8th. Here I found several square blocks of historic brick storefronts, factories, and government office buildings. It was a really nice area. Massive cement awnings had been built along the fronts and sides of buildings to shade the 12 and 14 foot wide sidewalks.

Over the past 48 hours, I've worked 20 hours during the night when normally I'd be sleeping. So, my concept of time and even the day of the week was a little skewed for me. As the parade began to wrap up after having zig-zagged through the downtown streets, I realized something. It was Wednesday afternoon. All the people I had passed weren't working. The stores were all open but they were empty. Even the owners and employees of the stores were out on the sidewalks watching the parade. The town was hosting this parade, with very good attendance, I might add, at a time when most communities wouldn't dream of "interfering with business" to have one. I was witnessing American Culture right before me as I had read about, heard about, and seen only in movies. These people were halting their day to revel in something together that was completely unseen. Community.

'Comforting' is the only word I can use that describes, if only partially, the feeling I got when I saw that almost everyone in the parade wasn't just waving at the crowd like you see in large televised parades. They were really waving to friends and neighbors that they knew. "Hi, Tina!", "Hey, Chris!", "Oh, there's Lisa!" and many other shouts from one to another could be heard as I walked. It was an interesting 45-minute stroll that I'm thankful I got to witness.

It was reported on a nation-wide news show a while back that this economic recession might encourage people to live more simple lives. They predicted that, we would all need to lean a little more on each other and that families will be strengthened as family values grow, towns may start to live in closer community, and that people in general will be more friendly to each other.

I don't know if any of this has been occurring nation-wide but I do know that I saw something in Coffeyville that I want. I saw something that I believe we all desire. I saw a community of neighbors.

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