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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!

Gender Confusion

Yes, evidently, there are people that believe it's not only possible to be confused about one's own gender but also believe that one IS actually the gender one believes themselves to be regardless of one's physical characteristics.

In Queensland, a nine-year-old boy who was named Ronan Hayes at birth has since had his name changed by his parents to Emma Hayes.  According to the family, the boy at the age of four said that he wanted to cut off his penis and be a girl.  I would have thought this to be the point where the parent(s) explain to the little boy that removing a boy's penis doesn't make that boy a girl, but rather just makes a boy that's unfortunately missing a penis.  See?  I'm a male not just because I have a penis, but because every cell in my body is a male cell.  Remember the whole XX/XY chromosome thing we all learned in school?  We're either a male or female through and through not just in a particular physical area.

Did Ronan's parents teach Ronan that he'd only be a disfigured boy after his malpractice of a self-surgery?  No.  Instead, they allowed the boy to act like and be referred to as a girl at home.  He was enrolled in school as a boy and was being treated like a girl at home, living an essential double-life.  Until this year, that is, when the parents decided to re-enroll him in school as a girl named Emma.  The misguided and incredibly selfish parents demanded that the school treat the boy like a girl in every way including the use of the girl's bathrooms.  As a compromise, the school decided to allow the boy to use the handicapped bathroom and renamed it the "unisex" bathroom.  Was that good enough?  Of course not.  No, these parents wanted every (actual) female student's privacy violated so that "Emma" could feel like a real girl.

Another blog, Eternity Matters,  stated the following that I feel sums it all up very well:
Something I don’t understand: If your body actually is male and your mind says it is female, why do we assume that means there is something wrong with the body instead of something wrong with the mind?

If you have an emotional problem with your body’s gender, it seems like common sense that we need to address the emotions which contradict reality instead of the gender which is perfectly fine.
I'm reminded of that old encouraging saying "You can be whatever you set your mind to be."  Of course, all sane people know that this was never meant to apply to gender.  Or ethnicity.  Or species.  Just think how stupid that is.  I feel I'm a dandelion and want to live my life as one from now on.  Do not refer to me as a man lest you discriminate against me.

Or, how about celebrity identity?  I believe that I am Brad Pitt.  I demand access to my bank accounts right now lest you discriminate against me.

4 Weeks Down, 8 To Go

This week, I had a HUGE spike in calorie consumption in a single day.  Sunday to be exact.  Several of us went out to lunch to Dickey's Barbecue Pit after church.  I knew that I had been doing fairly well and that I had been meeting my goals, so I figured "why not?".  I had the all-you-can-eat buffet.  And, boy, did I eat well!  I managed to bring in a total of 2264 calories for that meal alone!  Wow!

But don't judge me too soon.  I found out the other night that this is much easier to do than most people realize.  Take a pretty standard American-Style meal at a prominent national chain like Steak 'n' Shake.  If one orders the signature dish, a steakburger with a side of cheese fries with a chocolate shake to drink, they will wind up consuming 1970 calories.  Make that a double steak-burger and you just surpassed my all-you-can-eat buffet experience.

Thankfully, like I said, I did well the rest of the week so the Sunday lunch binge didn't have a lasting negative effect.  As you can see from the graphs, I once again came in under my weight goal despite Sunday's Mount Everest.

Also, I'm pretty proud of myself for turning down free food yesterday.  That's huge for me.  I love a free meal.  And, I was given the opportunity to choose between two boxed lunches from Panera Bread.  I chose to pass on both.  Yikes!

59 Ford Love

I've promoted Google Sketchup several times on this blog yet I haven't used the program for some time.  Though, that may change in the near future as my interest in the program has just been rekindled.

In an Internet search yesterday, I found not one but three separate Sketchup projects where people have tediously reconstructed the 1959 Ford F100 Styleside Truck.  My Sketchup skills are a bit lacking to the extent of reconstructing an object such as an automobile.  I'm finding that I'm pretty decent at building homes.  But, they are built with considerable more straight lines and right angles than a curvy 50's model vehicle.  So, I'm excited and thankful that someone with more skills than I possess must have loved the '59 Ford enough to build one up for the rest of us.

I now can insert this truck into any other project that I'm working on.  For example, when I design our new dream home in Google Sketchup, guess what will need to be in the driveway of said dream home.  That's right.  You guessed it!

In case you'd like to see them in all their 3D splendor, you can download Sketchup for free in the Downloads drop-down menu found at the top of this blog.  And, here is a link to the file for each of the three trucks here, here, and here.

Unnecessary Quotes

Years ago, I used to have a link on my blog to another blog called Unnecessary Quotes.  It's still out there and still being updated regularly with more and more content.  People send in photos to the blog author who posts all the good ones.  The photos are real word examples of the unnecessary use of quotation marks.  In most cases, these are photos of company signs or advertisements.

Since, in popular culture, quotation marks around a particular word or phrase have been deemed a denotation of anything but the literal sense of the word(s), it completely changes the meaning of the phrase.  The unnecessary use of quotation marks alters the meaning from its original intent.  Many of these examples turn out to have a humorous result when reading it as such.  Here are some examples.

No doubt this last little bit was to add some reassurance to the prospective customer, but I think Fidel missed the boat on that attempt.  Pun intended.
You must only feign caution.  Whatever you do, don't use actual caution.  Stop, that looks too safe.  You're not doing it right.
OR, you may find yourself stranded in whatever country you decided to visit.  (Also, I see they added an unnecessary apostrophe.  I hope their photography is better than their grammar.)
He's not sorry at all, he'll close whenever he feels like it, and he's not about to thank you since you didn't do anything anyway.

If you like these, you should check out the blog.  Very funny stuff.

Past Planned Parenthood Paradox

Last month, Chelsea Clinton spoke at the Women Deliver Conference in Malaysia.  From the stage, she revealed that her much-admired maternal grandmother was the child of unwed teenage parents who “did not have access to services that are so crucial that Planned Parenthood helps provide.”

Does anyone else see the oddity of this statement?  I mean, we've all been exposed to enough time travel science fiction through books, movies, and television shows to have a pretty good grasp on what becomes of the "present you" if your great-grandparents were to have aborted (or at the very least, family planned) your grandmother out of existence.

I can totally see the Saturday Night Live skit in my head already with them mashing up the video of Chelsea Clinton speaking at the conference with the scene from Back To The Future where Marty McFly's character's hand is disappearing while trying to play the guitar.  (Chelsea is lamenting about how unfortunate it is that her great-grandparents had no access to Planned Parenthood.  Suddenly, she drops the microphone she is holding and stares in shock at her missing hand.  Quickly, someone comes to her rescue and reads aloud from Wikipedia about how Margret Sanger didn't start what would later become known as Planned Parenthood until 1921, well after her grandmother was successfully born alive.  Chelsea's hand fades back in and everyone sighs with relief.)

Even if Chelsea was referencing contraception rather than abortion, it still doesn't sit right.  What it does is point out an error in the thought process of those who support abortion.  If you can't make sense of an argument supporting the availability of abortion for your parents, you equally can't make sense of an argument supporting it for your children.

Some may be quick to dehumanize others, but it stands out as blatantly foolish to fail to recognize the humanity of oneself from within one's own skin.

3 Weeks Down, 9 To Go

This week, I did much better watching my calories.  I had a couple of treats through the week, but those were on days I had done extra well, so I got away with them.  What I didn't get away with was the weekend.  I blame a poor choice at Wendy's on Saturday and not realizing that my Qdoba meal on Sunday was 900 calories.  900?!  I sort of felt that Qdoba was a healthy option.  I guess it still is, just in a freakishly large portion.

I do feel a little better.  The weekly soccer pick-up games are doing their thing.  Last Friday, I wasn't even sore after Thursday's game like I had been experiencing the day after playing in previous weeks.  That's something to get excited about.

Yesterday, I rode my bike to work instead of driving.  It was nice, but I must admit that it was harder than I planned on it being.  I worked up a pretty good sweat despite the cooler morning.  It's 5.5 miles one way and it took me 29 minutes each direction.  According to MyFitnessPal, the two rides (to and fro) complete my exercise goal for the week.  ???  That can't be right.  Can it?

As you can see from the lower graph, I made up for last week's goal being missed by .4 lb and even weighed in .4 lb under this week.  So, I'm feeling pretty good about my results.

FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 - Free Download

After church, last Sunday, we went out for lunch to the new downtown Qdoba.  It was great food as usual and being summer with all the college kids away from the area, it's considerably less busy than the other ones in town.

They had ESPN going on a couple televisions and I spotted what appeared to be the opening of a World Cup soccer game between Italy and Mexico.  But, the World Cup isn't for another year.  I should know.  I've been looking forward to it since the last one ended in 2010.  So, what was this?!

It turns out that it's the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013.  What is that?!  How is it that I've never heard of this before?  Granted, I don't have cable, the only television I watch is Netflix, and the only radio I listen to is Christian radio.  But, surely someone would have told me about this, right?

Well, no one did.  Evidently, it's sort of used as a rehearsal for the host nation of the upcoming World Cup to take place the following year.  Thus, this year it is in Brazil preceding FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil.

Those of you who know me well know that, of course, I will be following along.  And, yes, I'll be following along with my Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet that I customized just for this newly discovered tournament.  If you would like to follow along with the spreadsheet, as well, I have conveniently included it in the Downloads section of the drop-down list found at the top of this blog.  Or, since you're here anyway, feel free to just click this link.

Andy & Andy's

Just in case you haven't heard me say it in a while, my wife is the coolest!  Last Friday, she took me out on a surprise date.  She said it was kind of an early Father's Day gift. I didn't know anything about what we were doing until we were outside in the parking lot and she handed me two tickets to see Andy McKee at the Gillioz!  What a cool surprise!  I didn't even know he was in town.

The show was awesome.  He is every bit as good as his videos would suggest.  He's definitely a guitar master with an incredible talent to make his hands do what his mind hears.  That's what's so cool about watching him.  Every song he plays isn't a standard 4-measure-and-repeat but a myriad of different sounds for which he's all over the fret board in no repeatable fashion at all.  Yet, he knows right where he's going next.  No song sheets necessary.

Halfway through the show I was thinking about how God must also find joy in watching Andy use the talents that He gave him.  Then, I just thought how pleased God is to see each one of us use his/her talents.  Not all of our talents are good for entertainment purposes, but we're all talented in different ways nonetheless.  And, like a great dad, He's no doubt our biggest fan.  Just neat to think about.

After the show, I considered hanging around to get a chance to meet with Andy, but at least half of the audience was doing this already and, as cool as it would be to meet him and get our picture with him or something, I was too eager to continue my evening with my beautiful wife.  And, standing around in line didn't seem like the way to spend it.  So, in transition from listening to the smooth sounds of Andy McKee, we hopped over to Andy's Frozen Custard to enjoy some smooth treats aimed at another set of sensory receptors.

Thanks for an amazing date, my love!

One Man Piano Ambulance

I got all the necessary tools from Harbor Freight last Thursday to be able to load pianos into the back of my truck by myself.  Yes, this sounds like an injury waiting to happen, but I assure you that I will be doing a whole lot less lifting doing it alone but with the right tools than what I would be doing if I were just muscle-ing it around with 3 other guys.  I've moved lots of pianos in my day, so I am well aware of the personal effort required.

I'm pretty excited about this on a number of levels:
  • I like having new tools that are good for lots of things.
    • Two furniture dollies.  Why haven't I ever bought any of these?!
    • Set of 6' steel ramps.  Hmm.  Need to go to the next level?  I'm on it.
    • 4000 lb. winch.  What's that, you say?  You need me to move 4000 lbs?  No problem.
  • My wife had an idea a while back that if we ever when we have the space, we can start a "piano rescue" shop.  We would take donated pianos as well as pick up pianos for free, perhaps even purchase some cheaply priced ones.  We would then repair, tune, and beautify the ones that had life still in them (like the before/after photos seen here) and we would repurpose the ones that didn't stand a chance into all kinds of cool things.  Getting started on one of wife's many dreams makes her happy and thus makes me happy.
  • I like getting things for free, but don't like not getting things for free because I can't find willing people to risk bodily injury to help move around 600-800 lb objects.
  • I have a very specific art piece in mind that I'd like to do that requires me to find and retrieve a junk piano.
So here's a photo of my One Man Piano Ambulance in action last Friday with some GIMP'd in graphics just for fun.  What do you think?

Soccer Thursdays

I've started playing soccer once a week with some guys I work with.  It's been a lot of fun and certainly good for me.  A lot of people my age are starting to give the "I'm too old" excuse when I ask them if they want to play.  But, I can't help but think of all the 50-year-old men that I have played with or against over the years.  And a lot of them are still really good.  They're not the fastest on the field, but speed isn't everything.  Smart team ball control makes the game.

It's a pick-up game that's open to whomever, but it's $5 to play.  All the money goes to charity.  This way, not only are we having fun and bettering ourselves physically but we're also improving our community by financing local good works.

By the ever so slight chance that someone comes across this blog and wants to play and lives in or near Springfield, MO, we play every Thursday at 5:30 pm at the turf field at Glendale High School.  That's on Ingram Mill Road a few hundred yards north of Battlefield Road.

In the event that we change the location, time, take a break, or just stop getting together to play, I will amend this blog accordingly.  Otherwise, see you there!

2 Weeks Down, 10 To Go

Week 2 of the 12-week challenge has come to a close.  And the results are in.

They aren't quite as good as they should have been.  I didn't quite hit my goal weight for the week.  I lost 1.2 lbs but was supposed to have lost 1.6 lbs.  However, in my defense, I did have some considerable belated and extended birthday celebrations this last week, which can be seen clearly from the spikes in the top graph

I turned 34 eight days ago but due to our hectic schedule on Tuesday we didn't celebrate it until Friday with a trip to HuHot.  As I always do at HuHot, I ate too much.  It was delicious but I felt like I might burst at any moment.

Before that was the late dinner that Daniel cooked for us.  It was delicious as well, but with the brownie dessert that followed I, without a doubt, had more calories than allotted.

Then there was Saturday's cookout at the park celebrating Leah Sing's birthday.  It's hard to step away from the picnic tables virtually spilling over with food.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Nakato's.  This wasn't too bad since you only get served a normal amount of food.  But following it up with the kid's Nakato left-overs for dinner once again put me beyond my limit.

One would think that Monday I would have made up for the weekend, but after sanding drywall for about 2 hours, my appetite was on fire.  Coupled with the boredom of my wife not being home I over-ate.  Oops.

I'm sort of surprised that I still lost weight.  But, I'll take it.  I averaged 1817 daily calories with a goal of 1580.  Hopefully this next week can prove to make up for this goal being missed.  Only time will tell.

I Wish They All Could Be California "Girls"

I'm not one to smear a political party in normal circumstances, but what am I supposed to do with this?  California Democrats must be brain dead.

In case you haven't heard, California recently voted on and passed Assembly Bill No. 1266.  It passed 46 to 25 with all 46 affirmative votes coming from democrats.  Why is this important, you ask?  Well, the bill was said to bring gender equality to public schools allowing girls to play on all boy sports teams and vice versa.  Previously, like most states, if there was a single gender sport at a school the same had to be available to the opposite gender (i.e. if a school had girls volleyball, they had to have a boys volleyball team if some boy wanted to play).

However, the bill does much more than that.  The bill is extremely short and concise so no one can play the They-Snuck-It-In-There card.  The bill has the following statement in it:
“(f) A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and facilities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”
So, all a boy or girl has to do is claim to identify as the opposite sex and legally the school has to allow that child access to the opposite sex's bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, etc.

I've come to the conclusion that it's very Democratic to "protect" the "rights" of an individual by destroying the real protection of real rights of everyone else.  Seriously, there is no defense for this kind of absurdity.

1 Week Down, 11 To Go

The first week of my 12-week weight loss challenge came and went.  And, I think that it went really well.  I'm using to track my foods, caloric intake, fat intake, etc.  It's pretty helpful.  I especially like that it has a handy app for your smart phone so that you can add to your log on the go.

As you can see from the top chart, I didn't completely stay under my allowed calories for the week, but I did hover around my goal which is good.  My daily calorie goal is set to create a running deficit, so that my body is forced to burn a little of its stored up fat to make up the difference.

This second graph is charting my weight over the course of the next 12 weeks.  It may be hard to see without clicking on it, but I hit my goal exactly to a tenth of a pound for the week.  The blue is the goal trend line and the red is my actual weight.  Now losing 1.6 pounds over the course of a week may not seem like much, but bear in mind that it's from doing virtually nothing different than before.  I'm just recording what I eat and making better decisions because I'm questioning myself on whether something is actually worth eating if I'm going to have to record it and see my goals missed because of it.  This is the competition with myself.

So, I'm right on track to hit my end goal.  Kudos to me! (not the candy bar, though)

Master Closets

Not at all uncommonly, I spent another national holiday working on my house.  Such is the trek of the home renovator.  While many are out enjoying time away from work, we're putting our tool belts on once again.  Not that I'm complaining or worse, bragging.  No, we actually like doing this sort of thing.  No pity party here.

As you can see from the panoramic photos combined into one (you should be able to click on them to make them larger), this master bedroom is in desperate need.  One of the major problems with 100+ year-old houses is lack of closets.  People had a lot less clothes back then.  It was back in the days before American consumerism had buried in our minds that we shouldn't wear the same outfit often enough for people to remember it.

Anyway, the goal is to put in two closets, a "his and "hers" if you will.  In between these will be a cozy little cushioned window seat with storage inside and a bookshelf up front.  We started the project last Monday (Memorial Day) and we have all the major building behind us at this point.  Jodi and I just got the first round of drywall mudding done last night, but I don't have any photos from it here.  I still need to put it some trim, the closet doors, and do all the painting and staining.  But, before all that I have to get the mudding and sanding done.  Hopefully I can contain all the dust during the process.  If you've ever sanded drywall in a house you live in, you know that it's quite the messy ordeal.
  (On a sidenote, I noticed this in Haiti.  Of the seven days we were there back in March, I noticed that many of the men only cycled through about 3 shirts.  They did their laundry every day by hand and their clothes were cleaner than mine.  I had packed so that I would have on a different outfit every day we were there as any American does, but I wondered near the end of the week if the apparent excess was noticeable to my Haitian friends.)

In the process of having the closets in place, we will be able to eliminate two of the three dressers, get our clothes off display by getting rid of our "open-air" makeshift temporary (6 years) closet, and finally get a bedroom that isn't an eyesore to an otherwise interesting home.  More photos to come as we continue to finish these out.

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