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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!

Hitting the Pause Button

It's been brought to my attention that my wife and I are full of great ideas and good intentions, but that all too often the ideas that we do have are not getting carried out. It's true that my wife and I have carried out a good number of our ideas, many of them becoming successfully competed projects. Our home improvement projects have been successful ones, for example. However, it seems with every good idea that we went forward with there are three more that only stayed in the idea stage and never had any effort applied to them.

Jodi got a revelation last week that led to us committing to stop saying the word "need." It must be extracted from our vocabulary. We've said it hundreds of times. "We really need to (fill in the blank with a great idea)." We would say it over and over again, yet no one ever acted on the declaration.

Saying that you need to do something does a couple of things, neither of them beneficial. For one, it takes the joy out of the proposed action that is being talked about. No one wants to do something that needs to be done. All of a sudden that idea's follow through became a task. We have enough of those. We don't want any more.

The other negative outcome from saying "need" is that it automatically and inherently gives you an excuse not to do what you are "needing to do." The word 'need' implies that it is something that must be done, of course. However, in America, our basic needs are generally met with overflowing abundance. Therefore, when we use the term 'need' we are generally referring to a large list of back-burner tasks that we can start and stop at our leisure. When we say, "I need to go to the DMV and renew my tags," we're really saying, "At some point, maybe even the last minute or even after they have expired, I'm going to find a time that is most convenient for me and I'll renew my tags. And, if I get a ticket in the meantime, I'll complain to everyone I know about how I was wrongfully ticketed since, unlike everyone else, I didn't have time."

Farley Lewis gave the message on Sunday morning and confirmed this change of vocabulary. The sermon was about our time, what we choose to do with it, and how we will be judged on those activities. An analogy was used that really put it into perspective for everyone. Farley and his daughter went to Incredible Pizza, a pizza buffet that has an elaborate arcade room in the back. Money was spent, tickets were acquired, and time was spent deciding on what to "buy" with the acquired tickets. In the end, the daughter was able to trade her tickets for an old-fashioned child's helicopter. It was the kind that is just a wooden stick with a plastic propeller that you spin in your hands and it flies. I didn't catch what exactly was wrong with the helicopter, but it didn't work. Maybe it broke, I'm not sure. Anyway, it doesn't matter. The point is that all this time and money was spent to acquire this worthless piece of garbage.

Farley likened the tickets to our time. If a day were a ticket, we are trading it in for something. But, what is that something? Are we "buying" something with our tickets (time) that in the end will be worthless? It was a great and challenging message, one in which I have taken to heart.

One of the ideas that we have is huge and will take a lot of time, creativity, and mental dedication. So, in order to actually take this idea and turn it into the amazing thing that it should be, I'm going to have to rein in my time spent on other activities, including this blog. I really enjoy writing blogs, but I'll also really enjoy writing for this new project. One holds me back from the other, so I'm choosing the one in which I feel I'm supposed to be dedicated.

I'll still blog every now and again, but they'll be less wordy, less time consuming, less creativity-zapping, less thoughtful, ... less of me.

Civil War Weekend


Last weekend, I was transported back 150 years in the past to witness the first major battle of the Civil War at Wilson's Creek. From Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon, it was nothing but muskets and cannons for me.

The Battle of Wilson's Creek was an interesting one, to say the least. So many stories and keepsakes have been preserved from this battle and those who fought in it. Even the actual site of the battle has been kept virtually untouched. This August marked the 150th anniversary to that battle.

To commemorate the event and those involved in it, Wilson's Creek Publishing is working on the release of a 144-page coffee table book that will be full of the artistic photography of six local photographers. This book will be published and sold in various markets.

I was honored to be chosen to be one of the six photographers that has contributed to the book. I'm very excited about having my work published. How cool is that? I've had my photography used for some things, but never in a published book to be sold.

I also put the website together that it would be sold on for the reenactors. KY3, one of our local news stations, picked up on it and wrote a short article about the book. They even grabbed a photo I had made of the book for the website and used it in their online article, though they have recently taken that down probably due to someone realizing that you can't just grab someone's artwork. Though, of course, I didn't mind.

The other photographers were, in no particular order, Jeremy Russell, Jenn Russell, Gail Irwin, Shannon Alexander, and Gina Beamish. They all did great and were a lot of fun to work with. I hope book sales go well!

Motorcyles: Enjoyment vs. Risk

Dustin won the 5 Years & 300 Blogs game that I had on the last post. Congratulations, Dustin! And, happy birthday, too! For his prize of choosing my next blog topic, he sent the following:
How much more dangerous is it to ride a motorcycle than drive a car? Since I ride a lot now, I am constantly getting told, basically, that I am waiting to die. Well, am I? Or is speed, alcohol, and other variables more of a factor?
It's interesting that he chose this topic. Only twelve days ago I attended my step-brother's funeral. Michael died when his motorcycle left a rural highway, struck an embankment, and landed in a field. There were a couple days in between the last time anyone had any contact with him and when he was found. It had to be a closed-casket service. He was only 30.

Michael's funeral was the third funeral that I have attended in my lifetime that was from a motorcycle accident. So, I am familiar with the subject of the dangers of riding motorcycles, though I will do my best to remain unbiased for the remainder of this.

First, let's look at some statistics you may not know. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has lots of reports out there that offer all kinds of statistics. This report shows that 45% of all motorcycle crash fatalities are single-vehicle crashes, meaning no other vehicle was involved. This number seems high to me, though Edgar Snyder reports that of all fatal accidents nationwide (including all forms of motor vehicles) 61% were single-vehicle crashes. I can't conclude anything from these stats, but found them interesting, nonetheless. I figured that most crashes occur when two or more vehicles collide. Apparently, I was wrong. Again, these stats don't answer anything. I just found them particularly curious.

Where the rubber meets the road in this particular debate, that Dustin brings up, is found in Report # DOT HS 811 159 released by the NHTSA. On page 3 of the report, it has a graph directly comparing the fatality rates between motorcycles and passenger vehicles per miles traveled. That "per miles traveled" is important because fatality rates alone don't tell you anything. A whole lot more people die in passenger vehicle crashes every year compared to the same with motorcycles, but that's not comparing apples to apples. Motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles in the U.S. And, they only account for .4% of all miles traveled by registered vehicles in the U.S. So, in order to compare correctly, you have to add in the "per miles traveled" factor.

This graph shows that per vehicle mile traveled in 2007, motorcyclists were about 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 9 times more likely to be injured. This answers Dustin's first question. I'll answer his second question without the aid of statistics: No, he's not basically waiting to die. People shouldn't speak curses over him. It would serve him well to break them off of himself. The curses, not the people. I personally told Dustan Hobbs, more than once, that he was "going to die on that thing." I would follow this spoken curse with the usual warnings to be careful and all, and of course, it was said in a jokingly manner. But, regardless, I will forever regret that those words escaped my lips just months before his death at 20 years old. And, I would impress on people not to make the same mistake.

To answer the third and final question, those factors are indeed causes of motorcycle accidents, but they are also factors in passenger vehicle accidents as well. For example, this same report shows that 35% of fatalities from motorcycle accidents involved the motorcycle speeding, but cars had 23% in which to compare. Likewise, the percentages for vehicle riders involved in fatal crashes who had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit were 29% for motorcycles and 23% for cars.

So, while you can say that your likelihood of dying in a crash on your motorcycle significantly decreases if you refrain from drinking alcohol, speeding, etc., dying in a car crash also decreases significantly from these practices. So, the fatality rate comparison of sober, speed limit aware drivers/riders is still similar to the total fatality rate comparison that shows that motorcyclists are 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 9 times more likely to be injured.

In conclusion, a motorcycle may be exhilarating to ride and more fuel efficient among other benefits. However, it unfortunately also has a greater measured risk than most of the alternatives in transportation. And, it ultimately comes down to whether or not the owner or potential owner wants to take that risk. I, for one, love motorcycles. I know the feeling that riding one produces. But, I choose to drive around two tons of steel instead. To each their own.

5 Years & 300 Blogs

I actually started blogging on MySpace back when MySpace was all the rage. But, in August of 2006, I decided to go pro and get an actual blog site rather than continue to use the blogging option on my social networking page. Not long after that I decided to scrap my MySpace page altogether. I was growing increasingly bored with it.

So, now it's been five years since I moved to Blogger. And, this is the 300th Blogger blog that I've written. I feel like maybe I should celebrate in some way, but I'm not sure what to do. I could give away "the words" T-Shirts to the first 50 people that comment on this blog, but I don't have any "the words" T-Shirts to give away. They don't even exist. I just GIMPed this together.

I'd like to play a blog game of some sort. I did that for my birthday last year. It was a Celebrity Guessing Game full of celebrities who were all my age. You had to name them all just from their head shots. It was sort of fun to make. My brother-in-law, Chris Steward, won that one. I did another just like it a couple years before that when I was turning 29. I used a different set of celebrities that time. My beautiful wife won that game.

So, what game can we play? I've done celebrities twice so it's time for something new. How about the first person to decode some Mad Gab phrases?! That should be fun. If you don't know how to play Mad Gab, don't worry. It's easy. Just read the phrase and decide what phrase it really sounds like. For example: "Sit Jerk Lock" is really "Set Your Clock" and "Shack Each Anne" is really "Jackie Chan." Get it? Let the games begin!

The first person to type all the answers into a comment wins the opportunity to choose my next blog topic. But, don't play unless you will actually pick a blog topic for me. :)

  1. Dawned Hutch Debt Aisle
  2. Arrow Man Tick Calm Eddy
  3. Pen Silly Raise Her
  4. Thug Yet His Burger Dress
  5. Bah Kin These Addle Ache Ken
  6. Shake Key Low Kneel
  7. Lie Fizz Booty Fell
  8. Wheel Fair El
  9. Sent Tom Hanukah
  10. Mike Lion Tis Inner Scent

$5 Lesson & Repurposed Technology


Last week, I was able to stop in for a few minutes at one of my favorite places to shop, STD Flea Market. Out of all the flea markets in town, STD is my favorite. It has a strange name, I admit, though an innocent one. The acronym stands for Springfield Tool & Die. The story goes that the owner of Springfield Tool & Die retired and turned the two buildings he still owned into flea markets since they weren't much good for anything else.

I love both stores. I've found some really good items over the years for myself and have even resold some items bought there for a quick and nice profit. Jodi had a booth in the downtown location for a brief stint, but it didn't do all that well. After the cost of booth rent, we showed that we were pretty much just breaking even which means we were going to an awful lot of trouble to just give stuff away.

Anyway, back to last week. I stopped in and was eventually drawn like a fly to a booth that was full of electronics. I mean full! There was everything from VCRs to DVD players to computers, to laptops, to digital TV converters, etc. It was cool. I spotted a stash of LCD monitors all of which were priced at $5. Of course, there was no way to test them immediately available, but after a search through the store I found a computer in another booth that had a power cord. I swiped it, grabbed the biggest monitor (a 22-inch), found an outlet, then a ladder to reach the outlet and was finally in business. The monitor powered on and showed a "no signal" message at which I took to be a good sign that the monitor worked fine. I knew, however, that chances were that it had issues that I wouldn't find out till later. I figured $5 was worth the gamble.

Upon fully testing it later, I found that it didn't work. It would come on for about 2 seconds and then the screen would go dark. I did some research online and found it to be a very common problem with LCD monitors. It's just a backlighting issue. I was able to confirm that the LCD part was still functioning from being barely visible when looking very closely. You just can't see it because the lights that light up the screen aren't on.

Usually this is the cause of the inverters going bad. It's so common, in fact, that there are several different companies that sell kits to fix this issue. I took the entire monitor apart and really became acquainted with how they work. I tossed around the idea of buying the replacement parts to fix the monitor at about a cost of $30, but decided that even a 22" LCD monitor wasn't worth $35 to me. And, I shouldn't spend $30 to justify the $5.

It was hardly a total loss, though. I now know how to repair the most common problem found in LCD monitors as well as LCD TVs. That lesson is definitely worth $5. So, I'll keep my eye out for people selling "broken" LCD televisions on Craigslist. I've seen them been given away for this reason. So, maybe I'll be able to find and repair such a score.

Also, rather than toss out the monitor, I had the idea to repurpose it. It's now a $5 picture frame in my office at work. Have you ever bought something that turned out to be junk? Have you ever repurposed junk into something useful or unique?

Ezra Montagne

I just realized that I've never written a blog announcing the birth of Ezra. So, better late than never, right? Sorry, Ezra. No doubt you will be reading this some day.

As a matter of fact, with that in mind. This blog is addressed to you, Ezra. Everyone else can read this if they please, but it's not for them, to them, or about them. It's about you, for you, and to you, my beautiful daughter.

I love you, Ezra. You are my first and only daughter. I don't know how old you are now (your time, when you are reading this), but I hope that you know that I love you. You are two and a half months old (my time), and I know that even as you grow older, you will never be able to shake that image of you from my mind. You will forever be my little girl.


Having a child is strange by itself. I don't know that any parent fully realizes the enormity of the role. Your oldest brother Jacob is eleven and a half. He's getting close to being a teenager and resembles one even now. You would think that I'd be used to the idea that he is my child and I am his parent and in more ways than not I am used to it. However, when I think about, I'm still shocked on so many levels. How did this happen?! Maybe I'm alone in my thinking. Maybe not, maybe every parent feels this way. I don't know. It's wonderful, exciting, terrifying, beautiful, unsettling, rewarding, etc. Parenting is a roller coaster of emotions.

So, if I'm still getting used to being a parent of two boys who've been around for years, how much greater am I feeling unprepared for you, a daughter, a girl, a woman in the making? I'm scared to be one of two of the most responsible people for you in the world. It holds the potential to frighten me to no end.

That being said, I am also unimaginably thankful for the opportunity to be that person in your life. I'm honored that God would place you in my care and entrust me with such a role. I may know that I am unequipped to raise you and teach you and guide you, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is perfectly equipped to do such a job. And, with He as my guide, I will never fail you in any way.

I love you, Ezra. And, I will seek to treasure every moment we have together.

6th Anniversary


Jodi and I celebrated our sixth anniversary this last weekend. We didn't do anything too special, but had a great time just getting to spend time with each other while we ran around a little and relaxed a little more.

We started out the day with a breakfast of champions. That's right. T-bone steaks and eggs. Mmmmm. We also were very giggly and had some true comic moments. What a wonderful way to start a day. Protein and laughter.

We tried out a new flea market,Springfield Flea Market & Gifts, and checked out one we'd been to before right behind the first one. It was fun and we saw some neat things and bought a few little things. The second one was better than last time, but still not my favorite place to go. They have tons of furniture and I'd say that's their specialty. But, Jodi made a great point about if they would set it up with pieces that went together, they'd probably sell a lot more of it. It's all just crammed in there now with no rhyme or reason.

After just the two flea markets we were ready for a treat. So, to Krispy Kreme we went. For lunch. Hey, don't judge. It was a special day. We stuffed ourselves silly. It was a good thing that we were sitting by the window in the bright sunlight, because I'm sure that the Vitamin D from the sun was the only vitamins we managed to consume while being there. Unless there is such thing as a coffee vitamin. Maybe there should be.

Afterwards, we drove home and just chilled out in the air conditioning and watched some Netflix.

It was a good day. I love my wife. We have fun together.

Just Deserts


My worst experience with a bank, by far, was with Ozark Bank. They cost me $110, got me arrested, and made me spend a night in jail. I wrote a blog about it already so I won't go into detail, but it was pretty bad, for sure.

A couple years ago, I had another bad experience with a bank. This time it was Bank of America. I had been a B of A customer for 11 years. I wasn't a fan of them and had only stayed with them as long as I had because of the volume of ATMs they had in Springfield. In addition to the ATMs at their branches, they also had them in every Git-N-Go in and around Springfield. I found that to be very convenient so I stuck around as a customer despite disliking their service.

In 2004, however, Git 'n' Go was bought out by Kum & Go who quickly removed all of B of A's ATMs and replaced them with generic ones that would charge every user with a fee for usage. So, overnight, the reason to stay with B of A dissolved.

I didn't get rid of them, though. I should have. I dragged my feet for a few reasons that in retrospect weren't good enough to continue banking somewhere I despised. But, oh well. What's done is done.

So, fast forward through five years of procrastination, and we reach the summer of 2009. I took a photography job in Michigan. A check was written to me for my services. I cashed that check in Springfield three days later. Four days after that I get a notice showing I have had three separate $35 overdraft fees charged to my account.

I immediately go to the bank where I find out that the Michigan check bounced and that they removed the amount of the check from my checking account to make up what they gave me in cash. They could have handled this a thousand ways but the way they handled it was by trying to process the check twice over the course of a couple days, then seizing the money out of my account when it didn't work for them. All of this without contacting me about it. Then when my account balance fell below zero which it eventually would since they just removed hundreds of dollars from my account without notification to me, they happily twisted the knife by charging me $105 in fees.

I had come with cash in hand to make a deposit and repair the issue, but they were unwavering and unsympathetic. The woman I spoke with took my cash and left to deposit it for me. She took it to a teller, despite knowing that had she deposited it in the ATM or directed me to do so that it would have posted that night. Instead, she took the teller route which wouldn't post until midnight the next night, over 24 hours away. So, in that time period, three more pending items came that could have been avoided adding another $105 worth of fees.

So, back to the bank the next day for me. This time I had the bank manager to talk to. After a lot of talk, she reluctantly dismissed the $105 worth of fees that could have been avoided had her employee cared enough to think about it. But, she refused to do anything about the prior fees. She retained the position that the bank was not at fault and was only following policy. She wasn't interested in logic, only following their supposed policy.

But, I know how it works. She is a bank manager and has the power to waive the fees if she wants to. The same way she waived the wees on the other latter set of fees. She just didn't want to do it. Finally, I changed my approach and simply asked her if her bank would pay $105 for an eleven-year customer. She avoided answering the question despite me asking it several times. I knew the answer and so did she. She also knew that refunding me the fees wouldn't keep me as a customer. She knew at that point in our conversation that I was going to close my account regardless of what she did, so she kept the money.

I closed my account finally and have been happily banking at Great Southern ever since.

The day before yesterday, Jodi called me at work to give me the following news that came in the mail for me: Bank of America has agreed to pay a $410 million settlement to those who had a B of A checking account with debit card services who had overdraft fees charged to them between Jan 1, 2001 and May 24, 2011.

Sweet justice. :)

Invention Idea


Ever have a great idea for an invention or improvement? I've had a few in my day. One that is finally starting to be marketed now is the Bluetooth audio adapter.

I thought of this almost two years ago. It was an invention out of necessity. At the time, I was contemplating how to setup my stereo in my 1959 Ford when I get it back on the road. The doors don't have any locks and I don't know that I actually want to change that about it. I don't want anyone to steal the stereo that I install in it, so I have a dilemma. How do you install a burglar-proof stereo? The answer: you don't install one.

What? Exactly! See? I had an idea to install a small amplifier (that I already own) under the seat somewhere where it could be relatively hidden from view while also being bolted down through the cab. It would take two people to bolt it as well as unbolt it. One would have to be under the truck with a wrench while another in the cab had a wrench on the other end. Too much trouble to remove for an old 45-watt amp. The two speakers would go behind the headliner in the rear corners also out of sight. Then, instead of installing a stereo, simply install a Bluetooth adapter that would pick up the stereo music Bluetooth signal from my phone from under the seat and send the audio signal to the amp via its RCA cable outputs. The power switch for the amp could be easily connected to the manual choke switch on the dash since it won't be necessary with the new engine configuration. So, everything is hidden. To the untrained eye, it would look like it has always looked in the cab: radioless. Simple enough, right?

The only problem is that there wasn't anything on the market like the Bluetooth adapter I described. However, now there are two items that are really close to accomplishing this. Belkin makes a Bluetooth Music Receiver which has the option to send that signal out via RCA or 3.5mm jack. The only reason it wouldn't work for my application is that it is powered with a 110v outlet adapter. It's meant to be used in the home or office. Miccus also makes a Bluetooth Music Receiver. The issue I take with it is that it is charged using a USB port. I would either need to purchase more equipment to get it to charge or I would have to remove it from the truck every other day to charge it. Also, I learned from a review that it does not "remember" a previous Bluetooth pairing which means every time I got in to use it, I would have to reach under the seat to reset the connection.

What I want is something that I can permanently install that I can discreetly turn on the power to from the dash and make a connection from my phone. I don't want to ever need to reach under the seat to reset or remove equipment to charge. And, I want to do it with the least amount of equipment possible. Right now, with these new products, the Belkin best fits my need for it remembers the connection and wouldn't require charging or resetting. The downside is that I would need to find a way to power it which would require me to probably buy a power port and a universal car power adapter to use in place of its provided wall adapter.

Either way, the technology is moving in the right direction, so I'm excited about that. Maybe they will have a solution by the time my truck sees pavement again. Or, maybe I'm the only one who wants to bypass the need for an in-dash car stereo.

Still Pounding Away At It


I'm not sure what to call this project. I've had a name for every other project in the house, but this one alludes me. Should it be the "outdoor closet" project? "New basement door" project? I'm just not sure. In an earlier post I was referring to it as a small addition, but that sort of denotes living space in my mind. And, I don't intend on anyone living out here. Any suggestions on a name?

Regardless of what we decide to call it, I made some pretty decent progress on it over the weekend. The backbreaking part was the concrete, but it got done. I finished pouring a new top step to the staircase, one that isn't a fatal trip hazard. And, I managed to dig out and pour about a 3 1/2" thick slab inside the closet. I'm so glad that it's over. When it was all said and done, I had mixed 960 lbs. of concrete. This was the part of the project that I looked forward to the least. However, with my newly gained experience pouring concrete in Haiti back in March, I was able to confidently get to work on it and see it through.

In the next couple of evenings, I hope to be able to devote a little more time to it. My next steps are:
  • Relocate the dirt pile
  • Grade the ground down and away for better water runoff
  • Connect the wiring into the breaker box
  • Cover all the outside walls with tar paper
  • Hang all the metal lathe
  • Stain the rafter tails
  • Apply the stucco
  • Finish the stucco on the garden wall
  • Build the doors
  • Hang the doors
  • Paint all the stucco the desired color
I don't have a time frame for all these steps, but it would sure be cool if I could get it all accomplished while my motivation is in full force.

Categories

I got to looking at my categories list on my blog and realized that maybe it says a little bit about me. So, let's read into it, shall we?

  • I like to write about myself more than anything. Apparently, I strike myself as the most interesting thing I know.
  • I'm slightly more useful around the house than I am in making people laugh, yet both score pretty high.
  • I can't decide what I love more, my family or food. However, this does show when the scores are added together, that I'm probably happiest when eating with my family.
  • I love a good debate. Evidently, even if I'm arguing a lie, because truth didn't get as high a ranking.
  • Opinion and politics ranked the same. I imagine that this is because every post I categorized as 'politics' I also categorized as 'opinion'. After all, I can't talk about politics and remain unbiased. I'm going to tell you my opinion and I'm probably not going to leave you alone until your opinion becomes in line with mine. Just kidding. Not really. ;)
  • History and controversy are both interesting to me. The controversy sort of falls into the debate category, but it's somewhat different. People can debate about anything, but controversy really only happens on the big issues where people clearly create at least two sides. Adding history to the mix, you get things like the JFK assassination, 9/11, Vietnam. These make for some pretty interesting table talk.
  • Friends, photography, and technology all tied. That only makes sense since I like taking digital photos of my friends, right?
  • I'm ashamed that God ranks way down here. In my defense, I could claim that God is really tied into all these categories when they are all boiled down, but who needs a defense?
  • The rest are just a few hit and miss categories that don't deserve mentioning. They got their 15 minutes of fame when I wrote on those topics, but now they just sit there with no other purpose than to just fill up the fine print near the bottom of the categories box.
So, what about you? What (if you actually wrote about your life) would be your categories of choice?

More Progress


I failed to get any photos before it got dark outside, but that's okay because it wouldn't be much of a dramatic photo anyway. So, I used a photo from Monday evening and dramatized it up with some funky arrows.

Last night, I accomplished quite a bit for having been at work all day. I started with taking a sledge hammer to the trip hazard at the top of the stairs. This trip hazard served to keep the water out, but also begged to send someone to the bottom of the stairs much faster than they intended. So, it had to go. Besides, the concrete there is already sloped away from the house so it's unnecessary.

I also cut out the now unnecessary overhead hazard at the bottom of the stairs. This served as a plate and support for the previous 45-degree basement door, but now it serves no purpose apart from forcing everyone to bow before entering the basement. I shall not bow before it. So, I cut it out.

I also got up two of the walls. Yay. And braced the framing in preparation for the double doors to go in on the closet side. Then, (spoken with an ominous voice) as darkness fell over the land, I picked up all the scraps and garbage and got them all in the dumpster just in time for trash day.

My next step will be to concrete a flat step in place of the trip hazard that I just busted out. As soon as this is done, I can finish the framing for the round-top basement door and wall in the front of the addition. Then, with the walls all up and in place I can stucco it.

And, somewhere in there (maybe while I'm waiting for concrete to dry) I can wire up the lights and my new outdoor electric receptacle. I'm excited about that. My house doesn't have any outdoor electricity. So, every time I'm doing a project like this I have to run an extension cord into the house. So, inconvenient! So, this will be great for future projects since I'm only beginning on the greater backyard deck and landscaping project.

Addition Progress

This Independence Day weekend was a good one. Though, we didn't do a whole lot of traditional activities. We did hang out with some friends, grill some steak and see some fireworks, but the bulk of our weekend was spent working on the house.

With some help from the boys, we managed to get most of the drain pipe installed and buried, the framework pretty much done, and the roof completely installed. I missed being able to just hang out with my family, but it was also good to get a chance to do some construction. And, it was good for Jacob. He learned some construction basics and and was excited to get a chance to help.

The photos here show the progress. As always, click on them to enlarge them. There's still a list of work to be done, but I'll keep plugging away at it every chance I get and it'll be complete before we know it.









Small Addition


We've spent most of our energy renovating the inside of our home over the course of the last four and a half years we've lived here. The outside, though, has seen little more than the necessary maintenance. We have a plan, however. And, using Google Sketchup, I was able to better visualize that plan by building a 3D model of our house and yard. In this photo (click to enlarge), it shows our plan for a large deck, outdoor formal dining room (far left), brick patio with fire pit, and outdoor closet/new basement entrance.

The latter is what I'll be working on this holiday weekend. The photo isn't exactly what we're going for. The wall I built between the house and garage is actually taller than the one in the photo. So, I won't be hipping the roof on the addition down towards the wall. Rather, it will just shoot straight across to the inside of the wall.

The first thing I have to do, though, is dig a trench and bury a drain pipe. There are two gutters that empty right at the corner where the wall meets the house. I'm going to direct both of these into the drain pipe and reroute that water to the rear of the garage. Once that's done, I can dig and create a footing for the wall. Then, once the siding is cut I can start framing. I'll take lots of photos along the way and show the progress.

Though small, this addition will be a really nice and needed asset to the house. It will pretty up the view of our home from the backyard by removing this big ugly hinged basement access door. It will hide both the phone access panel and the sewer clean-out pipe. It will help tie in our garden wall to the house. Also, we'll gain an outdoor closet to put the bikes into. Eventually we can also use this closet to house our designer outdoor furniture cushions. We don't own any now but maybe when our backyard looks like the 3D drawing we will.

The bike storage is a big one. Normally, we keep the bikes in the basement. However, with the nice weather comes more use of them and they wind up in the kitchen so that the boys don't have to go up and down the stairs with them every day. The payment for this convenience for the boys is clutter for us all. We have a nice big kitchen so we can spare the space, but this temporary home for the bikes has long worn out its welcome.

Why am I starting an outdoor home improvement project on the hottest day of the year? I don't know. I guess I like a challenge. Come back VERY soon to see the progress!

Breakthrough


Moving to Ozark, Missouri at 11 years old turned me somewhat shy. I didn't know anyone there and it took me a while to make some lasting friends. In that six month friendless window, I learned to keep to myself, mostly.

Later, I became a 15-year-old sophomore at Ozark High School for the 1994-1995 school year. Not much had changed over those four years. I still had the same friends and I was still riding their more outgoing social coattails. I still lacked self-confidence.

Along with the rest of the English 2 class, I was assigned to read a book and then do a spoken book report at the podium in front of my classmates. I dreaded it. We were to aim for a five minute report. I'm not sure since I wasn't counting, but I'm willing to bet that I agonized for weeks over what I would be forced to do during those five minutes.

I had no experience speaking in front of a group and I didn't want any. I was just fine sitting slumped in my chair going pretty much unnoticed by virtually everyone around me. Many people have this same fear, so I felt that it was alright to feel this way. Possibly even a desirable quality. After all, I had no interest in speaking in front of a crowd. I didn't plan on becoming a speaker when I grew up. "Why would I ever need to learn this in real life," I wondered to myself.

The teacher, Ms. Lambert, didn't just give the assignment like some teachers would have. She spent a considerable amount of time instructing us how to give a good report. She gave us tips on how to practice it at home. She got us thinking about how a spoken report should be structured. She didn't harp on us about the way it had to be, only made suggestions designed to encourage us to make our reports better.

I took all of her advice, even practicing my speech to my wall at home with a timer. It wasn't like me to prepare so much, but I was desperate to have what I needed to survive the ordeal. So desperate, in fact, that I even took notes on Ms. Lambert's suggestions. The day came and I nervously waited my turn. During the several reports before mine, I noticed that almost no one in the class was paying attention to the one giving their report, anyway. That really took some of the pressure off. At that point, for the first time, I felt like I could do it without vomiting.

My turn came and I gave my report just as I had rehearsed it. About halfway through, I looked around and away from my notes long enough to take notice that I had everyone's attention. My nervousness doubled at that moment. And, just when I thought that I was going to make it. A couple seconds later came "the joke" part of the report. Ms. Lambert had suggested to include a funny part to the story to keep your listeners engaged. I knew it would bomb, but I followed my notes just as I had practiced it in my room. Punchline. Laughter. Wait, laughter?! I did a quick left to right and realized that not only did I have their attention, but they were listening to every word that I was saying. The joke wouldn't have made sense had they not been listening all along.

I finished the last leg of my report without the nervousness that previously had plagued me for weeks. If I remember correctly, Ms. Lambert gave me 110% as my grade for the report. I was proud.

Ironically, I went on to fail Literature of the Bible. Twice! And, I couldn't even finish the first semester of English 3. However, I graduated high school and enjoy writing even today. I still occasionally get nervous at times in front of crowds, but I never let it stop me. Since that report, I have spoken in front of hundreds of people at a time, played guitar and sang for large groups, friends and strangers alike, and I have even presented new work concepts in front of a room full of business executives.

I wouldn't be who I am today if not for Ms. Lambert's care to make sure her students knew the strategies and skills of public speaking. I'm not even sure if all that is on the curriculum, but I know I left her class with it. Thanks, Ms. Lambert.

West Plains Weekend


This last weekend, Jodi and I took Lyric and Ezra to West Plains to hang out with Jodi's family. Jacob was spending the week in Gulf Shores, Alabama. As always, it was a lot of fun and some good relaxation as well. I also really enjoyed the trip in our new car. We've had it for 6 weeks, but hadn't traveled in it yet. This was breaking it in for us.

There was a car show at the Civic Center on Saturday. And, since Jodi's parents live in town now, we decided just to walk there. Though, it turned out it was two and a half miles one way, Lyric managed to walk it without complaint. I was wondering if I was going to have to carry him. He's getting too big for me to carry more than a short distance.
The car show was great. We saw a lot of beautiful automobiles, and I was really excited to see the 1960 Plymouth Valiant. It's the first Valiant that I've ever seen in a show. My '62 Valiant is the same style as this with a few slight changes.
But, of course, mine looks like a pile of poo in comparison. Some day, it'll be pretty, hopefully.

We took another walk late Saturday night. I took little Ezra along with us, knowing that she would fall asleep fairly quickly. We walked to then around the square in Downtown West Plains. So, we managed to tack on another 5 miles to the day's exercise list.

Sunday was a chill out day. I sat around with Larry and looked up tree species on my phone. We identified several trees around their house. It may sound boring but, it was fun. I learned a lot about trees and even how to identify a few of them.

The bubble pictures below are from Sunday. The girls (ages 26 and 28) were blowing bubbles in the front yard with Lyric. I spotted a really cool effect that they had at a certain angle and tried to capture it with my camera. It's not at all easy to capture a bubble floating on the wind with a lens that has a very narrow depth of field. But, I got some good ones. They were gorgeous by themselves, but I boosted the color in them to really accentuate the array of colors they were refracting. As always, click on the photos to enlarge them.

Global Go Team Deploys to Joplin


Global Go Team is currently setting up a team to work in Joplin, Missouri on June 18th.

Joplin was devastated by a tornado that cut a path straight through the city on May 22nd. The death toll keeps rising, it seems, with every new article I read. I just read an article from The Baltimore Sun that cited 151 deaths. It's really terrible and this time the need is in our own backyard.

Global Go Team members will get to use their newly acquired training and certification by Greene County CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams). Much work will remain to be done over the course of the next couple of years.

I remember, vividly, the tornado that ripped through Stockton, MO back in 2003. The entire downtown area was flattened with the exception of the bank vault that never budged an inch. It was the first tornado that I tracked with the Internet. I had a game plan to take my then 3-year-old son into the bathroom with a mattress if it came towards us. Instead it traveled north of us. That tornado was an F3 and traveled 86 miles. In contrast, the tornado that hit Joplin only traveled 6 miles, but still managed to make high F4 status due to the sheer devastation of it.

So far, Global Go Team has taken me as far as 1,825 miles to Gressier, Haiti and now will be taking me a short 70 miles to Joplin, Missouri. I look forward to being able to help.

Mobile Site


As some of you know, I used to keep a mobile version of my blog. I started it in January of last year and even wrote a blog about it. I only started it because I had a non-smart phone but also had unlimited Internet. I realized that people who were in my same situation couldn't read my blog if they wanted. So, I created a duplicate blog but at levifeltonMOBILE.blogspot.com as opposed to just levifelton...

Today, I spotted that Blogger has finally remedied this little inconvenience with a fix. Now I (and everyone else with a Blogger blog) can turn on a mobile version of my (their) blog via the 'Settings' tab. No need for a separate URL.

But, now my situation has changed. I now have a smart phone that displays my blog beautifully. So, I debated a little bit whether or not to turn on the mobile version. Surely, it would help someone out there read my blog, though. But, will it inconvenience my smart phone owning readers in the process. I did find that there is a link to click at the bottom of every page to view the full site, on the other hand. So, anyone with a smart phone can very easily scroll to the bottom and change it to the full version if they want.

I just thought I'd send out a feeler and see if anyone cares to comment. Would you prefer an easier to read mobile version? Or, would you rather see the blog in its full HTML-ness? I've temporarily turned on the mobile version so all you mobile blog readers can see what I'm talking about. I'll decide from your feedback (or lack there of) whether to keep it on or not. Thanks!

Table Renovation

I was handed down this table from my mom. She was handed down the table from her mom. And, she was handed down the table from her mom. The table was her third husband's who passed away before I was born. In case you're confused, My great-grandmother was married three times. She never divorced. She just outlived them all. Her third husband had some cool old furniture which I somehow managed to wind up with. The picture here is from almost 5 years ago in our last house right after our first go at making sushi. I sometimes kick myself for forgetting to take a "before" photo. Luckily I scrounged up some photos, but not necessarily ideal ones. As always, click on the photo to enlarge it.

The piece that I'm talking about today is our dining room table. We're not sure of it's age, however, I've been told that it dates back to around 1900. My great-grandmother's husband used it for years to do his art on in his workshop. My great-grandmother always loved the table and brought it up out of the basement sometime after he died, cleaned it up, and used it for a kitchen table. I remember sitting at it as a child eating handfuls of raw macaroni. My grandmother knew my brother and I liked it and would keep a jarful on the counter just for us.

It got passed down once a decade after that until it wound up in my dining room. Jodi had wanted for a while to refinish it. Due to it's separation of the boards and the natural pitting of the wood, there were plenty of places for food to get stuck. As a result, it was difficult to clean and eventually became a concern to her. This photo was taken last New Year's Eve. We celebrated with sparkling juice and fondue with the boys. You can kind of see the table getting slightly more wear from the previous photo.

During Jodi's nesting period a couple months ago, she took it outside and sanded the top down. I attempted, unsuccessfully, to clamp and wood glue the boards back together. As soon as I took the clamps off 36 hours later, the boards split apart. I suppose wood 100 years old is pretty stubborn. So, I clamped it, screwed in some oak braces underneath, and filled the cracks with wood filler. It sat out there a while until we could finish it the weekend before last. I sanded the rest of it down, Jodi and I stained it, and I shot it with a coat of Lacquer.

Here it is pictured back in its location and looking beautiful. It turned out much better than what I had imagined. I was kind of scared to start messing with it. It has so much character that I was afraid that it might be lost with all that sanding and staining. However, I'm extremely happy with the end result. Turns out, it's super nice and makes the rest of our furniture look like it needs some work.

Chemical Poisoning

For six days before Memorial day weekend begun, I felt terrible. Every day, at some point in the day I would become tired, my lower back would ache as if I were feverish, and I would have, at minimum, a slight headache. I thought that I was getting sick at first, but it didn't get any worse. Then again, it seemed to not get any better.

Finally, on the sixth day, I had enough of feeling bad and decided to ask my wife what I should do. (I should have started with this, but whatever.) She almost immediately asked, "Have you been eating or drinking anything new lately?" And, it hit me. During this same time frame, I had bought a couple boxes of Propel.

I had bought these before and didn't have any issues with them, but then after looking at them, I realized that I had purchased Propel Zero this time instead of the regular Propel. Oops. I immediately stopped using them in my water and by the end of the night felt better. The next day, I woke up and felt great again.

I was only using the flavor packets because it helped me drink more water. I chose Propel because it was the only water additive packet that used real sugar as opposed to all the others that boasted "no calories" but chose to poison ythe consumer rather than fatten them up a bit. See, I have a bad habit of going for very long periods of time without drinking anything. I'll get a massive headache and then can't remember the last time I drank anything at all. I'm sort of a camel that way, but without the humps of water on my back to actually keep me going in a healthy way.

Since then, we watched the documentary The Beautiful Truth. I enjoy watching good documentaries and this was definitely one of them. Although, I hate to hear that my favorite foods are really loaded with toxins. And, that the reason I like them so much is because of the addictive qualities of their brain cell killing additives. :-(

Still, I recommend that everyone sees this film for the information as well as for the entertainment. Oh and don't drink Propel Zero. It's poison.

Here's the ingredients: MALTODEXTRIN, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM CITRATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), SUCRALOSE, SILICON DIOXIDE, NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3), ACESULFAME POTASSIUM, CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (TO PROTECT FRESHNESS), CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE (VITAMIN B5), VITAMIN E ACETATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), CYANOCOBALAMIN (VITAMIN B12).

Interesting Note: Blogger's built-in spell check is assuming that I have spelled nine of these words incorrectly because they don't exist as words in their database. So, I'm not the only one who doesn't recognize them. I wonder how many of these chemicals in the future will be found proven to cause serious health risks.

Ballsy Beverage


I have a bottle of Orbitz. I bought it in the beginning of 1997 for the purpose of drinking. But, I chose not to drink it after all because I didn't want to lose it's novelty. I now have it for sale on ebay. They've been selling for $30 a bottle. So, time to cash in. The following is two very funny posts I found concerning the drink:

Orbitz was made by Clearly Canadian, who if you'll recall were neck-and-neck with Mistic for jurisdiction over the realm of sodas that posed as fruit-flavored waters. Orbitz was much like regular Clearly Canadian fruit sodas, save for two important differences: It was a lot thicker, and it had tiny candy balls from Jupiter floating around inside it.

Yes, it's that drink -- the one with the balls. While Orbitz drinks would've seemed worlds apart from the competition sheerly on the merits of their oddball flavors (Pineapple Banana Cherry Coconut?), it was the dozens of gelatinous, colored balls floating around each bottle that made it famous. The balls were more or less flavorless, serving only to soak up whatever flavors their liquid homes bore. This was like the kiddy version of the flakes in a bottle of Goldschlager.

I remember buying them in the Woodbridge Mall over in Jersey, for no other reason than the fact that the Woodbridge Mall was the only place around that sold Orbitz. So, I'd buy it, and I'd wander around the mall sucking up piles of Fruit Roll-Up feces with a straw, and only now do I realize what an (edited out) I must've looked like. As the brand boasted screwy flavor varieties that were a real round of Russian Roulette to try, the public refused to push Orbitz past its status on the novelty echelon. It wasn't long before its makers realized that they couldn't survive on the sales of curious five-year-old girls alone.

The drinks weren't carbonated. This and other factors have made Orbitz almost safe to drink if you're still able to find them. Of course, it was hard for me to guzzle down sips of something "Pineapple Banana Cherry Coconut" flavored and not chalk up what I was tasting to an expiration date past, but on the other hand, it didn't kill me. I can't decide if the floating balls look more like pastina or tadpole larva or the end result of trying to grab a piece of Styrofoam out of its container with too much force. There was nothing like Orbitz previous to its debut, and there hasn't been anything like it since. (1996)



The Tasting

To fully appreciate a classy drink like Orbitz, we decided we needed to take "Doggy Style" out of the CD player and put in Schumann's "Kinderszenn op. 15." One amusing side effect of this choice is that like that guy in The Clockwork Orange, we are now programmed to retch whenever we hear classical music.


See

Ah, neutral buoyancy. Suspended in the beverage (or "solution") are little nasty-looking gelatin globules. They're just floating there. Somehow one would expect them to mill around. They're not really orbiting anything. One might also say (as in fact one does say if one is the inside of the Orbitz cap) that they "defy gravity."


Sniff

The tasters are of two minds. Nate smells "legitimate citrus." Paul smells "Robitussin." Paul was unable to smell legitimate citrus, even when he fanned his hand over the drink to waft the scent to his nose, like they do in the movies. Remember, there are no right or wrong perceptions in extinct beverage tasting, but one of the tasters spent several years in the food service industry and one of them is Paul.


Sip

Putting aside the globules for a moment, let's discuss the basic taste of the syrup. You know when your mom makes frozen lemonade and she puts in one can of water too many? It somehow manages to be a nastier experience than drinking lemonade or drinking water. It's not an average of the two as you'd expect. Orbitz is nasty on the same principle, but the base flavor is Pine Sol. You find yourself wishing they put in more Pine Sol because 1) it would taste better and 2) it would kill you.

The globules are no walk in the park either. Let's face it, when we were kids, we all sampled our own boogers. You know how they melt in your mouth? The wizards at Clearly Canadian have recreated this treasured childhood experience, but they have made it more nasty. Because on some deep subconscious level, we know that these boogers don't come from our body.


Savor

It is impossible to savor this drink because after you swallow the fluid, there are little lumps in your mouth that have to be dealt with. Your tongue is too busy trying to push them away... into your stomach, your cheeks... anything to make it another body part's problem.

Another thing about the pellets... they're cold and clammy.


Suffer

The whole experience of drinking Orbitz is deeply gross in an inexplicably Hannibal Lecter-like way. You feel like you're eating something that you have no business to be eating, like somebody's sinus.


The first article was a snippet out of a larger blog called Dead Sodas and Old Soda Pop Cans. It's pretty funny but has the occasional cuss word so beware.

The taste test and review was from a hysterical blog called Extinct Beverage Tasting: Raspberry Citrus Orbitz. There are lots more like it as the author has made it a recurring blog theme. I look forward to reading more of them. And, as far as I can tell, he/she keeps has a cleaner vocabulary so I recommend it.

Friends for a Season

It's Thursday. Last week was my last week with DEI. It doesn't seem like I worked there for very long, but I suppose that the reason for that is probably due to my having worked at SRC for as long as I did. Comparatively speaking, the last 18 months of working at DEI hasn't been too long at all. But, 18 months?! That's a long time, especially when I started entertaining thoughts and plans of doing something else two months into that.

The only thing that's kind of sad about leaving DEI is the fact that I'll likely never see or talk to most of the people there ever again. These are people that I've spent an average of 48 hours a week with for the last year and a half. I know this to be true because of what happened with SRC, high school, and some of my old churches. It's not just me, either. It's true for everyone.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the only reason that we are "friends" with some of the people we are "friends" with is because we go to the same places. Our relationship is better defined by the term "co-worker", "alumni", and... well... I'm not sure what to call our friends at church other than just that.

Maybe that's just it. Maybe it's all in how we introduce them or talk about them. If someone mentions their "friend at church", "friend at work", or "friend from school" they are probably really meaning how they are (or were) friends with them in those places but not necessarily anywhere else.

If this is true, then the definitive question that separates the friends from the "friends" would be: Do you purposefully hang out with or contact these people outside of the places in which you see them on a regular basis? Because, I have quite a few friends that I hang out with outside of church that I go to church with. And, to my best recollection, I refer to them as "friends", as opposed to "friends at church." Likewise, I have lots of "friends from school" but only a couple of friends that I also went to high school with. Is this making sense?

Is it okay to be friends with people for a season? Do you feel guilty for not contacting certain people? Have you ever been offended by someone because they hadn't contacted you? Was someone ever offended because you failed to contact them? In the meantime, check back soon, because I'm going to come up with a mathematical equation that you can do to let you know how many friends your particular lifestyle can support. It'll be fun! I love math!

Out With The Old, In With The New

It's spring and newness is in the air. Jodi and I are entering into an entirely new season.

The best new thing is our new beautiful baby girl. She was born last Sunday and weighed in at seven pounds flat. She's been such a joyful addition to our family. The boys have been excited and obviously love their little sister. Today is actually Jodi's due date, but we're glad to be able to say that we're done with all that delivery business and can just sit back and enjoy what Jodi's been cookin' up these last nine months. Her name is Ezra Montagne which means 'God's helper on the Mountain'. Montagne was Jodi's maternal grandmother's maiden name. In French, from which it hails, it means 'mountain'. It was, no doubt, originally pronounced "mon-tan" but when Jodi's family emigrated to the U.S. the name got Americanized, in pronunciation but not in spelling, into "mon-tang". So, to honor the American side of the Montagne family (since they're the only ones we really have ever known anyway), we will be pronouncing her name as "mon-tang".

We also sold the van and bought a new car. A 2006 Mazda 5, to be more specific. I listed the van on Craigslist and watched it pull out of the driveway just under two hours later. Goodbye van. You served us well. On the other hand, we welcome our new car with open arms. It fits our family well and gets us around for a whole lot less gas than we've been burning. It's 12 years newer and about 240,000 miles less driven.

The third new thing is a new job. I'm thankful for the job that I've had at Diesel Exchange for the past year and a half, but I've known all along that it wasn't the place for me. Of course, I'll miss some of the people there, but I couldn't be more ready to leave for good. Next Friday is my last day. Then, it's on to First Degree Fitness. In the old days I would've been too fearful to leave the job I had and too nervous to start over somewhere, but I'm getting a lot better at letting God lead me these days and not giving in to fear. It's comforting to know that I'm not in control of this. I know that that sounds backwards to some people, but it's very much true for me. God is more successful at my career than I am anyway so I don't mind letting Him be the provider.

The last new thing on the list is a new phone. I officially switched over to Verizon, got rid of AT&T for good, upgraded from a dumb phone to a very smart Droid X, am very happy with the change, and am even going to save hundreds of dollars over the course of the next eleven months that I would have been with AT&T had I not paid the early termination fee to get out of my contract. In two months, the savings pay for the termination fee! I'm just glad that I figured this out now. Sometimes I figure out these things after the fact and wish that I would have been smarter and richer because of it later on.

So, what has been new with you? Any new discoveries, new kids, new jobs, new pets etc.?

Somebody's Gotta Say It


Osama's dead. Everyone's talking about it. The media can't shutup about it. It's somehow the most satisfying news the U.S. has received in 20 years. People are literally singing in the streets.

Really? Am I supposed to feel like justice has been served by this death? Am I to feel more safe? Am I to sing praises to my country's government for this vengence-quenching gift? Am I to feel closure now?

Where are the answers to the questions that have been asked a thousand times? Where is the truth that is being obviously hidden from us all? Sure, there was a time when I was in support of the U.S. hunting down Osama. I, too, once blindly believed the media and our government's immediate and unwavering assessment of the events on 9/11. I, too, needed a scapegoat on which to vent my pent-up emotions. I, too, failed to consider that there may have been much more to the story in which we were all being given.

It all feels like the end of a really good suspense movie. Except that in this film the evil plan gets accomplished, the heroes never got cast, and we are all just the extras in the background along for the ride with no individual faces, personalities, or opinions. We're the lemmings who need a hero because we're too weak, too stupid, and too afraid.

Here are my top questions, though there are thousands more:

1) Was flight 93 shot down? It certainly didn't crash like we were all told. The "crash site" had no plane in it. It had no debris in it, either.

2) Why were we lied to about how the World Trade Center buildings came down? More evidence points to the use of explosives than anything else. There wasn't even anything wrong with WTC building 7 yeet it collapsed into its own footprint at freefall speed. Sorry, folks, nothing but controlled demolition can do that. That's just simple physics. To believe anything else is either willful ignorance or lemming stupidity. Nothing falls toward the earth at freefall speed along the path of most resistance let alone buildings constructed of concrete and steel.

3) For what reason (other than obvious cover-up) did the government haul the remaining pieces of WTC buildings to an undisclosed location only to scrap it all without allowing anyone other than themselves to view it all? Wasn't it all crime scene evidence and therefore illegal to dispose of, tamper with, or remove from the scene for that matter?

4) Why were the families of 9/11 victims given compensation but with the clause that excludes them from being able to raise litigation against or call for any investigation of the government's actions surrounding the events of 9/11? And why did the families of the victims who refused to accept compensation so that they could raise litigation against the government have their cases consolidated into one court case that was simply dismissed?

These are just four questions. There are lots more. None of these questions have been answered by either federal, state, or local governments. They have continued to avoid, distract from, and even silence those who have spoken out on the apparent untruths that our government has relied upon to maintain the secrecy of the events and the truth of how they really occurred.

As far as closure goes, we'll never really have it with 9/11. The death of Osama doesn't even begin to change that. For all the lies that we have been told, what makes us so sure that Osama had anything to do with it at all? Make no mistake, justice will be served. There's no doubt about that. But, it won't be in this life and it won't be by us.

Too Much to Say

I haven't written a blog in almost two months and I'm feeling a bit ashamed of myself. It's definitely not for any lack of material to write about. If anything, it's because of having too much to report, too much to say, and too much to talk about.

Since my last entry, I've spent a week in Haiti and for the life of me cannot think of where to begin about what I saw, did, or learned there. Also, I've been working hard to completely revamp a warehouse to get it functioning eficiently without me. Lyric started his soccer season. I've been building the garden door finally for the garden wall. We've been shopping for a new car. And, on top of all that, we've been diligently working at getting everything ready for baby Ezra to arrive, which has meant chewing through a list of "to do's" before she gets here.

So, needless to say, I've been a bit busy. But, I still feel bad for not having shared any of my experiences. I've had some really good ones that deserve to be shared.

So, to repair what has been broken, I'll be setting some goals to get caught up. I'm thinking maybe two blogs a week until I'm caught up. And, I'm going to have to learn how to keep them brief and to the point. So, let me know if I start rambling like normal.

Can't write one right now. Gotta get out of this condo by check out time. But I will have one posted in the next couple of days. Later!

Can't Help But Rebel


I find human nature pretty funny sometimes. I have to choose to laugh at it, though, because otherwise it can annoy me. And, that's never good. I like to stay in control of my mood, impervious to outside influence. After all, what sense does it make to allow anyone and anything to determine whether or not I have a good day? No, thank you.

Concerning the human nature I was speaking of, have you ever shown somebody a good way of doing something and then watched them do it a more difficult, less efficient way despite your well delivered instruction? I've seen this a lot over the years. I know that I've even been guilty of it myself just as often as others have. Something in ourselves just causes us to think that we have it all figured out and so we dismiss the well-intentioned suggestions of others.

What's even funnier to me is when the results of this nature worm their way into our culture. For example, while learning French in junior high, I learned that in French descriptive words are spoken after the noun in which they are describing. This makes perfect sense. So, instead of The White House, the French would say La Maison Blanc (The House White). It may sound strange to you, but think about those times when someone is using too many descriptive words and you are getting impatient because you still don't know what (the noun) they are talking about. (That's kind of funny. "What the noun are you talking about?! That's going to be my new thing.) For example, "I went to this really great, cheap, brand new, in fashion, cutting edge hair salon." In English, we wind up trying to remember all the adjectives so that when we finally find out what is being talked about we can apply those descriptions to the appropriate subject being described. We're left to wonder until the end. In French, they tell you what it is and then describe it, which makes more sense to me.

Similarly, it makes more sense to write the date noting the year first, though we save it for last. I guess, so we can surprise people at the end. "What do you mean you don't remember? This says that you did this just last week. See? February 19th... OHhhh 1998. Sorry. I hadn't seen the year yet."

There is plenty of stuff like this that we just insist on doing a certain way even though the rest of the world does it better. How about Fahrenheit versus Celsius or American Standard versus the Metric system? And what about football? Most of the world assumes you are talking about the sport in which you use your feet, but we've got the market cornered on the term soccer because it's somehow better? How about opening a banana? Ever tried to open it on the other end? Monkeys even get that right. But, since we're not monkeys let's continue to do it the "better" (hard) way.

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