Thursday, February 28, 2008

Oops...

Stupid, stupid! I just accidentally ate a pint of vanilla ice cream (after having seconds on dinner, mind you). It was "my" ice cream, so I just grabbed the container and a spoon, but never quite stopped to put it back in the freezer before it was all gone. Oops. Oh well...

I'm watching Survivor right now. The problem I have with Survivor is the name... they change it every season. For example, this season it's Survivor: Micronesia-Fans vs. Favorites - the key part being "Survivor: Micronesia." Why is that a problem? TiVo doesn't recognize it as the same as previous seasons. Meaning my "Season Pass" doesn't carry over, and if I forget to set it up, it won't record it for me. Thus I often miss the season premiere of the new season of Survivor. Stupid TiVo, or maybe stupid CBS. Or maybe stupid me for not setting it up, but I don't want to admit this point, so I'll blame TiVo and CBS.

So, does anyone know if older (Series 1) TiVos will work with the forthcoming DTV converters (I have already ordered my DTV converter box coupons)? I hate to think that I'm going to lose the usefulness of my lifetime TiVo subscription because of the government's changing of the over-the-air broadcast television spectrum. Maybe it's time to consider a class-action lawsuit against the government over this (I wonder if there are enough over-the-air TiVo subscribers to qualify as a "class" for a "class action lawsuit")... especially since TiVo no longer offers lifetime subscriptions. (I know, I know, MythTV or BeyondTV or something... but I've already paid for - well, my dad paid for, and gave to me as a gift - a TiVo lifetime subscription.) I mean, I've already patched my TiVo hardware - the internal modem was fried by lightening, so I hooked up an external modem (haven't bothered to get a network card to put it on my home network) via the strange serial connection it provides. Hey, Carter... is Canada following suit on the Digital TV conversion in February, 2009? Maybe I should just move to Canada... I assume TiVo works there...

Agh! I'm getting frustrated by all this "internet advertising"... I just wanted to look up an area code that showed up on my caller ID (it was a Maine, 207, area code; not sure why someone's calling me from Maine), so I went to this page (from a Google search: area code lookup), entered 207, and was taken to an advertisement (with a little "skip" link on the upper right corner). I'm seeing similar things on the CNet website... really irritating. I know they have to make money with advertising, but they really don't have to be so obnoxious about it, do they?

And now I'm watching some (animated? irritating? strange? mentally disturbed? I don't know what adjective to use here...) girl on "Don't Forget the Lyrics"... where do they find these people for these game shows? I can't imagine they'd ever pick me for such a show... I'm just not animated enough, I think.

Ok, Wikipedia... this video from "The Office" (featuring Steve Carell - I'm looking forward to Get Smart - does anyone else remember The Nude Bomb?) says it all:



Yeah, that's all he has to say about that. I love that clip. And I love wikipedia (why don't I marry it, then? because I'm already happily married, thanks!). Seriously, though... it's a community-peer-reviewed information source, so while not necessarily 100% accurate, it's generally fairly credible. And it's quick, and typically quite comprehensive.

We were supposed to go get our new (to us) van today, but they weren't finished detailing it, and it will be tomorrow before it's ready for us. Argh! My impatience is flaring up again... one of my greatest spiritual gifts, I think (along with criticism and pride...). Heh-heh, kidding, of course... those are a few of the areas where I need probably the most work - I am working on those areas. Sometimes.

Ack... this girl on "Lyrics" is driving me crazy... but maybe it's me (it's I? I think "I" is correct here, but I'm leaving "me" anyway, sorry), not her (she?)...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Quick post update

Well, we took the van to a shop... a local "Express" shop. The guy called a while later and said, "You have a fairly unique problem..." and went on to explain how the system was blocked up somewhere in the ABS system, and they weren't going to work on it. He said, "I'm not often scared to work on cars, but I'm scared to work on this." He said we'd need to take it to a dealer for the repair, since it required specialized tools and codes because of the malfunctioning ABS system. He said that other small shops would not have the right tools, but might try to sell us a rebuilt caliper, but that wouldn't fix the problem (since it was a blockage somewhere in the ABS module). When I thought about it, back on Thursday I did have to invoke the ABS in an emergency-stop situation, and after that is when the brakes were locked up. And apparently it was not only the left-front, but the right-rear also (but not as noticeable since it has drum brakes there). It was only $10.95 for this inspection and analysis (these guys have always been an honest bunch during all our various times to visit them).

So I call a dealer (there aren't any nearby; the closest is on the other side of town), and manage to get him to discuss various prices (he didn't want to at first), and I determine (from the explanation of what the guy at the express place found and the prices I got for various stuff from the dealer) that it would be a minimum of $500 to have it fixed there, and probably would end up being over $2000 (there is a modulator valve in the ABS system of the Mercury Vilager, and that piece alone is $1400). I don't think I want to invest that kind of money in a 1995 vehicle which is showing other issues (rear hatch sometimes won't lock, transmission starting to show signs of slipping, etc.). Regardless, I need a vehicle for hauling around my family and our luggage... we're supposed to be going to my brother's wedding in a little over a week, and I don't think walking is a viable option. Oh, and it'll be $72 for them to just take a look (plus the drive across town in a vehicle with locked-up brakes).

So we started looking yesterday afternoon for a replacement vehicle. We went by a local Driving 2000 (D2K) dealership (note: I highly recommend using these dealerships if you want a hassle-free, pleasant buying experience; they have no-hassle pricing - usually pretty good, too - no additional fees (no "dealer documentation" or anything, only the standard tax, tag, title); their trade-in is a one-shot, pretty fair deal; and the salespeople aren't paid by commission - so they've no incentive to get you to pay more for a vehicle - they do get a bonus based on number of sales, so they're motivated to get you into what works for you, but I've never met a pushy or un-nice salesperson across three different D2K lots over several visits, and even their new-car prices are typically well-below MSRP). They showed us a couple of things, one of which (Suzuki XL7) was a bit more than we wanted to spend (coming off no car payment, remember), but would work, but they said they had a couple more vehicles on one of their other lots we could look at, and we arranged to have them bring those two vehicles to the local D2K lot (so we wouldn't have to drive down to the further lot to see them) the next day.

So today, after my wife gets off work (and I take off from work again), we go to see the two vehicles. However, due to various circumstances, they were unable to get them delivered, but want to take us down to the other lot to see them. Unfortunately, the guy has to take care of a few things first, and before long we realize we're running out of time because we had to pick up two of our children at their respective schools; this is exacerbated by the fact that we're going to have to come back to this dealership before we can go to get them (since we're going to ride down to the other dealership with the salesman). So I suggest that we go look elsewhere now, so that when we need to leave to go get the kids we can, and we do that. We look at a Mazda MPV at one place, which my wife isn't overly fond of (it would work for us, but doesn't have the safety features she liked in the first vehicle, the side-curtain airbags), and it's out of warranty, too. At the second place we don't even get out of the car because she isn't at all interested in what they have there. Then we go to pick up our daughter.

We take her home, and I suggest that I drop off my wife at her workplace (where we left the car she was driving this morning), she head back to the D2K dealership, and I'll go pick up our youngest from his "Destination Imagination" extracurricular activity. He and I head over to the D2K place, and the guy is ready to take us all down to the other lot to look at the vehicles. When we get there, he drives around the lot trying to locate the ones he wants to show us; one (a 2004 Honda Odyssey with only 7000 miles on it) is sitting in the place where they usually put cars they've just sold. He locates the Jeep Commander, but can't find the Chrysler Town & Country he wanted to show us. As we're driving around, my wife notices a Kia Sedona in the back lot. We ask about it, and the salesman doesn't know anything about it because it's not on their used inventory list, but he'll check on it.

We go inside, and he gets us the key to the Commander, and says he's going to go find out about the other vehicles while we look at it. Well, seeing the 8 inches of cargo space behind the third row of seats (I'm not kidding; it was about 8 inches of cargo room!) said "no" on the Commander pretty quickly (so quickly, in fact, that the salesman, after we'd returned, didn't realize we'd already gone to look at it). The Odyssey's just been sold, and the T&C is on its way to Mississippi (they'd sold it to another D2K dealership over there). He goes to ask another guy about the Sedona. Turns out the Sedona was in their Thrifty rental fleet and was, just today, going to be transferred into their used inventory - it hadn't even been through their inspection or detail process for used vehicles. But we can go ahead and take a look and drive it in its current state.

Now, we'd looked at Sedona vans in the past, but all our Kia dealers are jerks (both in Huntsville and Decatur). We'd looked at an Entourage, but couldn't quite work out the deal at the time (I'd prearranged financing, and we couldn't fit it, as a new model, into the parameters of the financing). When my wife had driven the Sedona before, she had decided that's what she wanted. We just hadn't found the right deal.

Anyway, we drove this one, and despite its lack of extra features (no leather, no power vent windows, etc.), it will work. It still has about 28,000 miles of its warranty left (the 100,000 only applies to the original owner, so it's a 60,000 mile warranty). And it will work - room for the family, room for our luggage, safe, seems to be in good condition.

Now, here's the fun part: if they'd had the two vehicles delivered to the local D2K place, as we'd expected, we'd not have seen the Sedona. If the salesman hadn't driven around the other lot trying to locate the vehicles he wanted to show us, we'd probably not have seen the Sedona. If we'd made the trip to the other lot earlier, when we first got to the D2K place today, we'd probably not have seen the Sedona, as it probably wasn't moved to their back lot at that time. If we'd waited another day, we probably would never have known about it, since it would have entered their inspection and detailing process and not been out on the lot, but also not on their used inventory, and we'd probably have ended up doing something else (another vehicle) before it was on their inventory (and thus in the mind of "our" salesman). Coincidence? Well, I don't think so... we've been praying that God will show us what to do, and nothing was quite working out the way we felt like was an answer to prayer, until this. In fact, the guy who did know something about this van, the one who told our salesman it was being transferred from the rental fleet into the used inventory, wasn't even supposed to still be there, but "just happened" to be. We're at peace about this... tomorrow afternoon we'll do the paperwork, and Thursday it should be through the inspection and detailing.

And we'd never have happened on this if it hadn't been for our two vehicles breaking down within two days of each other this past weekend... so, while it may have seemed like a horrible thing to happen, I suppose it may be leading to a good thing in the end. It feels like it, anyway.

Sorry for the lack of amusing banter over the last couple of posts... been a bit hectic around here (as you may imagine from the posts if you've been reading them). Hopefully we'll return to the senseless (or less so, but less of my personal life and troubles) next time on...

[LAPSE... brain dead]

Until then... a topato!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quick post

Just thought I'd update you all... so you don't think I'm out walking somewhere! :)

Thursday night the brakes went out on our van (1995 Mercury Villager; actually, I guess they didn't really "go out" since they locked up with a sticking left-front caliper); Friday night I gouged a nice section of my head out on the keyboard drawer mount of my computer desk while trying to crawl under it to find a cable (which, naturally, wasn't there anyway) - naturally it's in a place where there isn't any hair to hide the injury; Saturday afternoon the alternator went out on our 1994 Lexus LS400. Looks like the Lexus has the "power steering leak causes alternator failure" issue... so it's going to be a bit more expensive than just replacing the alternator (which is already over $140 for parts). Fun, eh?

Fortunately a guy at our church loaned us his Dodge Durango to use until we can get something running (it's really a blessing to have a great church family - people who will support and help you when you need it most), and it looks like another family has an extra vehicle they aren't using and are going to loan us (the Durango was being used by the first family, so we'd like to return it as soon as possible). Hopefully we'll be able to get the van's brakes fixed tomorrow (I plan to take the day off from work; haven't decided whether to do it myself or just take it to a shop - I really don't want to get into it myself, because, well, I just don't feel like it right now, but I might anyway in order to save a few bucks).

Ok, now you're all up to date on my current vehicular situation (well, other than the fact that I also have a 67 Mustang that needs more brake work than the van as well as a carburetor and perhaps an engine rebuild, and a 2005 Suzuki SV-650 motorcycle that's in need of a handlebar and a shift lever after I laid it down back on Halloween eve of 07; now you're up-to-date!). Sorry for bothering you all with this... I may not leave this post up for long, so read it while you can! (Or not.) Until next time... a topato!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lemmings?

So, if the lemmings (the little guy in the picture to the left is a stuffed lemming) tend to follow the leader, even off the edge of a cliff, then what does the one in front do? I mean, who's he following?

Well, actually, according to the Wikipedia Lemmings article, lemmings aren't really that suicidal, and our common notion of this has been perpetuated by lots of false and/or misleading media. According to the article:
On occasion, and particularly in the case of the Norway lemmings in Scandinavia, large migrating groups will reach a cliff overlooking the ocean. They will stop until the urge to press on causes them to jump off the cliff and start swimming, sometimes to exhaustion and death. Lemmings are also often pushed into the sea as more and more lemmings arrive at the shore.
Yeah, they're not particularly suicidal... just wanting to migrate 'cause they've over-reproduced. Another quote from the Wikipedia article:
The suicide myth was further propagated by Walt Disney documentary White Wilderness in 1958 which includes footage of lemmings migrating and running head-long over a ledge. An investigation in 1983 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Brian Vallee, showed that the Disney film makers faked the entire sequence using imported lemmings (bought from Inuit children), a snow covered turntable on which a few dozen lemmings were forced to run, and literally throwing lemmings into the sea to show the alleged suicides.[8]
So, they're not really as suicidal as they're made out to be (you might want to read the article, especially if you're a lemming freak). I did enjoy the video game Lemmings, which apparently has as recently as 2006 been ported to a modern system (PSP), even if the subject of its premise doesn't really match the reality of that subject. Anyway, this is another reminder that we shouldn't always simply believe things, but should investigate the truth of the subject matter.


The other day I was eating at O'Charley's, and found my straw had been manufactured upside down (see picture to the right; sorry for the lousy quality, it was a phone-pic - you can click the picture to enlarge, and you'll see the "bendy" part is at the bottom instead of the top of the straw). I had to ask for another one, and fortunately it had been manufactured properly, with the bendy part at the top.

Ok, I have to go get my wife from her job now... we're down to one working vehicle at the moment, and it seems to be trying to join our stable of inoperative vehicles... so if I don't blog again for a while, it's because I'm walking home... :)

Kill Me Elmo?

I was configuring a "new" computer last night, and Internet Explorer came up on the default MSN.com website (I normally use Google as my homepage, but don't bother doing that on new computer installations since I also usually install FireFox and don't use IE). I don't normally visit the MSN website for anything, but there was this interesting looking video there, so I watched it... and thought I'd share with you. I found it on YouTube so I could embed it here:



Wow. What a great toy, eh? Kind of reminds me of Chucky in Child's Play. Fisher Price isn't going to even replace the toy that's making death threats (and teaching a young child to repeat the same). Sort of like the time, once upon a time, that my wife & children were traveling back from B'ham along a backroad, and one of my younger children had to go to the bathroom, and my wife stopped at an Exxon (the only service station along the way), but the "public" restroom was out of service and the service station attendant wouldn't let the young child (I think he was three or something) use the employee restroom. Yes, he ended up wetting his pants before they made it to the next service station. My wife sent a letter to Exxon about the incident, and they replied with an apology and a stuffed tiger (the Exxon mascot). You'd think Fisher Price could replace the Elmo, or at the very least apologize. Oh, and if you see my kids, they might be embarrassed by this story, so maybe it's better not to mention it (and I can't recall which of the kids it was, anyway).

The other night (Thursday night), around 11:00, there was a "boom" followed by shaking. Apparently it was heard over a large section of north Alabama. It wasn't really like thunder, and I wasn't sure what it was (I was watching TV with my wife, and we were both puzzled). But it didn't repeat, so we went back to watching TV. The next morning I had a comment on my MySpace from a fellow reader/blogger asking if I'd heard it... and I know she lives not too terribly close, so that got me wondering. As some, I thought perhaps it was a meteor or piece of the satellite recently shot down traveling at more than the speed of sound causing a small sonic boom (it was similar to the boom I'd heard at an airshow in the Navy; I'll explain more later). But it wasn't... apparently it was a test at the Redstone Arsenal, where they put a rocket motor in an oven and slowly raise the temperature until it explodes. What a great job, eh? "What do you do for a living?" "I blow up rocket engines in an oven!" Cool.

Oh, yeah... the other sonic booms I've heard. Well, when I lived in Orlando we were awoken by these loud booms and shaking in our apartment one Saturday morning... apparently it was the twin sonic booms of the Shuttle landing (don't recall which one). And when I was on the carrier John C. Stennis, CVN-74 (which, by the way, appears in the movie Executive Decision, although they called us the Eisenhower, CVN-69; anyway, if you watch that movie - it's rated R, be warned - when you see the carrier in the film, I'm actually on board somewhere, probably down in the #2 engine room, tending to the main engines that are making the ship go), we had the opportunity for an airshow in which an F14 flew overhead a little over Mach 1 slightly over our heads... that sonic boom was very, very cool... a sound you could feel in your knees as much as hear. Another time I had the opportunity to be on the flight deck (with my parents and aunt and uncle; it was a friends & family cruise) while they were launching & recovering aircraft... to have an F14 be launched from the flight deck, drop off the side of the carrier, and peel away, only a few hundred feet from where you're standing... that's just cool. I never had the opportunity to be launched (inside an aircraft, mind you), which is one of the things I missed during my Navy time. But I am a plankowner of the Stennis... I still have the plankowner thing somewhere in my house (I think it's currently stored in my garage while we try to find a better place to display it).

Ok, I'm hungry now... going to go find something to eat. Until next time... a topato!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What is...

What is dyslexic and has eyes but can't see? --- you'll have to continue reading for the answer...

I recently came across this article about the recent action of our space and naval agencies acting to destroy an errant satellite, in which they discuss the fancy technology being used:
"Using radar, data from sensors and other technology, officials were studying smaller-than-expected pieces of the spacecraft... said Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
Um... say what? "data from sensors" and "other technology"... glad the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is so up on the technology being used by those under his command. Sorry, I don't mean to be critical, but this seems like quite a silly statement.

In another technology related thought, did you know that DVD doesn't really stand for anything? It might have stood for "digital video disc" or "digital versatile disc," but the powers that were in charge of the standard (the DVD Consortium or DVD Forum) never officially assigned the three letters to be an acronym for anything (see the Etymology link on the DVD page mentioned above).

So... what's dyslexic and has eyes but can't see? A topato! (If you don't get it, I can try to explain... just ask for it in a comment.) That's my current favorite joke of the week.

I thought I might share a recent "wikiHow of the Day" in light of semi-recent posts on this subject: "How to Remember Dreams." Note that I've only skimmed the article, so I don't make any claims about its content or accuracy. I'd post about the article "How to Not Be Annoying" but I'm afraid I might offend my readers who might think I was referring to them... of course not! I only offer it in case you know anyone who's annoying and might benefit from reading such a wikiHow.

Unfortunately for you, my reader, I am quite tired after a long, dragging day that got the best of me, I must admit (started with a meeting at 8:00 that lasted over an hour - quite long for an early meeting for me, since I don't normally get to work that early; only managed to get to lunch 'round 3:15; and then had car trouble on the way home... what a fun day!), and I don't have much more to add to this post. (Or maybe that's fortunate for you, my reader, who doesn't have to endure my usual nearly-endless rambling.) Till next time... a topato!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Disappointed...

Just finished watching Knight Rider... and I must say, I'm disappointed. Not quite as bad as Bionic Woman, but the premiere didn't leave me longing for more. Maybe (hopefully) it'll get better. I much preferred the original (then again, maybe it was as bad, and I just didn't realize it because I was young at the time). And, of course, KITT is supposed to be a Trans Am... it would have been a great opportunity for GM to get some more publicity of the forthcoming (possible) Camaro platform (assuming they also build a Firebird/Trans Am variant).

And even TiVo let me down this time - there was a sweepstakes on the Knight Rider show, where you have a chance to win a Mustang or one of several other Ford vehicles. I went to sign up for it, watching the show tonight, and the sweepstakes was only for the time that the show was on - I missed it! If anybody wants to offer me a new Mustang GT to go along with my 67, I'd gladly accept it. For example, the forthcoming 2008 Mustang Bullitt. Yeah, I could accept one of those from my readers... along with one of those Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 phones.

You know (actually, you probably don't, but will momentarily), there is this guy at work who is incredibly intelligent. He's the smartest guy I know, I think; even smarter than yours truly (and I still don't understand why that's a synonym for "I" or "me"). And his handwriting is horrible - I mean, barely legible at all. So, I have a theory: handwriting legibility must be inversely proportional to intelligence (mine's pretty lousy, but then again, maybe it's my own perception of intelligence...). No offense intended if you have lovely handwriting.

A note to anyone doing math: DO IT IN PENCIL! My daughter is always doing her math in pen, and I'm always getting very upset by it. People should always do math in pencil. If I were a math teacher, I'd mark any work done in pen wrong, zero credit. Math should be done in pencil. Good thing I'm not my daughter's math teacher...

A new pet peeve: the MySpace IM doesn't support "<ctrl>+<backspace>" to delete the previous word. That (<ctrl>+<backspace>) is one of my favorite keyboard shortcuts these days, especially since my typing's often not so good (plenty quick, but often the wrong word or words or letters). And I also frequently find that I end up adding an extra "e" to words, but I do that more often when writing in my print/cursive mix that I call handwriting. Don't know why, I just do, usually to words that end in a single consonant, if I recall correctly. Weird.

Enough of this post... it's really rambling now...

Monday, February 18, 2008

First cache find of the year

Finally! Today I finally went out geocaching again (my geocaching profile is linked to over on the right side of my blog page); it's the first time in 2008. After dropping the two older kids off at their friends' house, the younger two and I went to eat (at Chick-Fil-A) and then headed to the West Wade Greenway for some caching fun. We were 80% successful today, finding 4 of the 5 we sought. Unfortunately, I hadn't seen the new one out there, or we might have been 5 of 6 with a possible FTF ("first time find"). However, I hadn't, so we didn't. And, amusingly, it was found (FTF) by Bustertoad, who hid the four caches we found today (very nice caches, by the way). All-in-all, it was a nice, relaxing (although tiring) afternoon out with the kids. Ok, there - a geocaching-related post; after all, that's one of the "interests" in my profile.

Afterwards we went to Starbucks (where I once again had a tall skinny decaf Cinnamon Dolce Latte - I think I'm growing fond of those), where we met the rest of the family, and I really wish I'd had my camera with me (it was out in the van) or a better camera phone, because we saw, out the window, in the turn lane, The Mystery Machine. See the (admittedly not-so-good) picture to the right - while the details are hard to make out, it really was a very good copy of The Mystery Machine. My daughter even said it looked like Shaggy driving it (although he rarely drove in The Scooby Doo Show - it usually was Greg who was driving, if I recall correctly, but I may not be, since I had to ask my lovely wife what his name was since I couldn't remember that). It was quite an amusing sight.

I am currently watching the American Gladiators finale (yes, we TiVoed it, and ended up watching a movie last night instead of AG), and we were discussing our "favorite events" - and I realized that I think I like them all. Yes, I'm just plain an American Gladiators fan. The show is filled with corny, quirky "dialog" and "monologues," (why is it that "dialog" and "monologue" are spelled the way they are? Shouldn't it either be "dialogue" and "monologue" or "dialog" and "monolog"? After all, they're both variants of "log" or "logue," only differing in plurality. But my spell checker shows that "dialogue" and "monolog" are both misspelled! Stupid English language!) but (sorry for the horribly long parenthetical sidetracked discussion, followed here by another, which completely derails the flow of the original thought, and you probably won't remember what I was talking about when I close this parenthetical phrase and get back to my original idea) it's still a very entertaining show to watch. I'm laughing right now at the gladiators after "Pyramid."

Well, my friend Dean finally posted his Cap Gun Story. I guess I can share mine (I don't think I've shared it here before; note: it's not nearly as meaningful as Dean's story - I encourage you to try to find something of value from it if you can). When I was in first grade, I was opening a roll of caps, and managed to scrape my left thumbnail across a cap on the second row of caps, underneath the paper that is glued to keep the roll from coming undone before you're ready to use it. Well, that cap flared, and my thumb caught fire at the end of it, and underneath the thumbnail itself. I went running inside to my mom, screaming (I was in first grade, remember?), and she put it under the bathroom faucet, and then put some ice on it, and then she left me alone (I think we were entertaining guests that day). That hurt. But it wasn't the last time I used roll caps.

Another time, in 2nd grade... oh, I'll save this story for another post. This post is long enough already. I'll leave you with one final link: "Manning the Ropes." A wonderful post about how important it is for us to do our best in all the tasks we undertake - both the large ones and the small (this goes beyond "churchy things" - it applies to all things we do; as children of God, we really don't have a "secular life" and a "Christian life" - we have one life, and whatever [we] do, [we should] do it all for the glory of God).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Historical Blog Post #100 - with a terrible title!

What to write? How do I leave an impression with this milestone of a post? Well, I've decided to re-post a historical treatise that I have sent via e-mail to several of my readers in times past (i.e., before I had a blog on which to write this stuff). For those who've already read it, I'm sorry for not offering anything new for the majority of this extra-long post... but maybe it's worth a re-read.

Before we get to it, though, I wanted to mention a thing or two from less historical times (i.e., yesterday and a few years back but within my lifetime). Yesterday we saw a commercial on TV featuring Morgan Freeman. My youngest boy said, "Hey, that's God!" (Think "Evan Almighty"...)

And, remember this guy? Yep, Gumby. (I found an interesting collection of Gumby pic's here; note, I haven't gone past the first page of that site, and only read a few of the comments, so I can't vouch for its content; as always, be careful out there in cyberspace!) Well, back when I was a senior in high school, and my best friend and my brother were both in 9th grade, he (my friend, who moved into the town where I now live a few years ago and we still hang out every now and then - our families get along very well together) would come over to our house early in the morning, before school started, and we would watch most of Gumby and Friends (or whatever it was called); however, we'd have to leave 5 minutes before it ended every day in order to make it to school on time, so we never saw the last 5 minutes of Gumby, ever, for something like a year's worth of episodes. And, although at this time I was driving to school, before I had my license & car & parking space I did literally have to walk to school, and it was uphill both ways (ok, there was a valley between our house and the school, so it was technically both down- and then up-hill both ways). I just thought I'd mention that since it came to mind when someone mentioned "Gumby" when I walked in the door this evening. Oh, wait, I think it was me who mentioned it. Anyway, my wife says that perhaps things like this are why I don't have more readers of my blog. Oh, and by the way, she's started her own blog now (I set it up, but the words are all hers). There's a link to it off to the right (and also in the previous sentence).

Anyway, onto the history lesson... but a brief introduction is in order: Our church's praise team (of which I am part) typically tries to at least somewhat color-coordinate the PT members for Sunday morning services (that is, we try to color-coordinate what we're wearing, not that we try to make sure we're all painted in the same color or something). This past Sunday's color of the day was turquoise, which prompted me to do some research on the little known originator of the color. The following brief synopsis is the result of my countless seconds of research. Enjoy the history lesson!

A Brief History of Turquoise

The Turquoise were a little-known Indian tribe offsprung from the more well-known Iroquois Confederacy. Back in prehistoric American times (i.e., before recorded history in America), a group of Turks (info on Turkey, the nation), fed up with the constant invasions and power struggles due to their strategic location ("Who picked this land, anyway?" one was quoted as saying, but in the original Turkish, of course), decided to migrate east ('cause everyone knew what upstarts and snobs those westerners were!). Not finding suitable places to inhabit (this land's too hot! This land's too cold! This land doesn't have enough fast-food joints!), they kept going. Eventually reaching the Pacific ocean, this group of Turks decided they didn't want to inhabit the land where Communism would thrive, and kept going. It's unclear whether they made their way across land or ice bridges over the Bering strait, or simply sailed on makeshift rafts crafted from empty Tupperware containers that had long since been emptied of food and were simply being carted around because 1) Ralph the Turk was a packrat; and 2) they couldn't find a suitable recycling center and didn't want to strew the non-biodegradable Tupperware all over the Asian continent (primarily it was #1 that kept them around; if/when they found usefulness as makeshift rafts, Ralph the Turk's wife begrudgingly agreed that it was in fact fortunate that he'd kept them all this time as they traipsed all over Asia, but since we don't know for sure whether they were used as rafts or whether the group crossed the Bering strait on a land or ice bridge, I guess we'll never know whether Ralph the Turk was justified over his pack-rattiness).

Anyway, they eventually made their way across to Alaska, but it was too cold. And in Canada they were a bit confused as to their national language, and it was too cold. Eventually, they decided they wanted to settle in a little place called Illinois, but since there were no people there, it hadn't been called Illinois yet, so they kept going.

Upon reaching New York, they found a group of several Indian tribes known as the Iroquois Confederacy. The Turks were welcomed by the Indians, partly because of the jovial nature of the Indians, but mostly because the Turks still had some Tupperware containers which proved excellent in keeping the buffalo meat from spoiling when it wasn't used immediately. (Remember, at this time, Buffalo were widespread across America, and in fact had their headquarters in a little place now known as Buffalo, NY, also settled by one of the Iroquois Confederacy tribes. It is unfortunate that the Buffalo were subsequently hunted nearly out of existence, to the point that only 9 remained in North America. Due to the conservationist group's swift and decisive activities, though, the Buffalo now number in the thousands, although, with all the inbreeding, those are some seriously retarded buffalo, and they no longer have the wits to organize themselves and attempt to retake Buffalo, NY as their HQ.) Primarily, it would be assumed that the Tupperware was the main reason for their acceptance (and not the jovial nature of the Iroquois Indians), since the name "Iroquois" is believed to have been derived from a Basque-based pidgin word, "Hilokoa," meaning "murderers."

So it was that the Turks intermarried with the various Iroquois Indians (apparently some of the Indians understandably take offense to the term "Iroquois," so be careful when retelling this tale). And thus were born the Turquoise Indians, who subsequently resettled in the land known as Illinois (which they, now being of sufficient number, were capable of naming themselves and not requiring any additional population to assist them). However, after relocating to Illinois, the Iroquois got rather perturbed with their neighbors, and subsequently began attacking them (presumably because the former Turks took all their Tupperware with them, and had unfortunately left the secret to creating Tupperware back in Turkey, where it was lost because of all the fighting and political upheaval until it reappeared in America in 1945, brought back by man named Earl Silas Tupper. It is unclear how Mr. Tupper came across the magical secret of Tupperware, or if he managed to have an original idea that someone else already had, but he made a bunch of money off the product and eventually bought an island in Central America, giving up his US Citizenship to avoid taxes. Anyway, the Turquoise Indians kept renaming themselves (refer to the link about Illinois and its history to see the various assumed names of the Turquoise Indians) to try to avoid the continual bullying by the Iroquois Confederacy, although it rarely worked. They looked the same, after all, and maybe the Iroquois just decided to beat up anyone living in the area.

The Turquoise Indians supported the "new" America during the Revolutionary War, as well as supporting Abe Lincoln during the Civil War (refer to the link about Illinois for more info), because they wanted to be free and to have rules saying the Iroquois couldn't beat them up anymore. Or something like that. As it stands, the single greatest contribution of the Turquoise Indians to society was probably a light-bluish-green color, which was originally a botched royal blue when someone ran the garment washing machines (they always provided pre-washed garments to avoid shrinkage after purchase) with chlorinated water siphoned from the neighbor's swimming pool to avoid the large water bill associated with pre-washing their garments. The chlorine, of course, bleached the royal blue color, leaving it the faded turquoise color, which the Turquoise Indians quickly named, patented, and sold worldwide. However, it was determined that the patent was invalid, since the color seemed to match a similarly named stone, and the Turquoise Indians went bankrupt. Most of them committed suicide upon learning the news that they were broke after having made it all the way across the world and starting a new race of people, but a few were a bit more strong willed and decided to not give up. Unfortunately, those few were killed in an industrial accident at the turquoise coloring plant back in the 1920s, and the Turquoise Indians subsequently dropped from the minds of people everywhere, and are rarely even mentioned in any historical texts today (although their assumed names, as resident Indians of Illinois, strangely live on).

And there you have it - a brief history of the Turquoise Indians. Have a great day!

Note: any accounts, personalities, and references in this document are primarily fictitious, the wild imaginings of the author, and are not really meant to represent any factual or historical events, people, nations, tribes, companies, products, or anything else even remotely resembling reality. If you want reality, look elsewhere (such as the links provided in the narrative). Some semblance of truth probably was used in the rambling, but the reader is left to his/her own discretion as to which parts to believe, and it is highly recommended that you research the info yourself (such as at the links provided, history books, encyclopedias, your neighborhood library, the history channel, your elementary school teachers, etc.).

Hope this made you laugh a bit... or maybe crack a smile... or something... and I hope I haven't offended anyone with this tale (please forgive me if I have).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Post 99: Road Rage in the Bible

Just wanted to give you a heads up that the next post is going to be a milestone... #100. This one's just number 99, so you can skim it if you want. However, I thought that subtitle might pique your interest. So... road rage in the Bible? Really? Well, sort of. Check out chapter #22 of the book entitled Numbers. What do you see in verses 23, 25, and 27? Balaam is beating his ride ("Stupid donkey!" I interjected while reading the story to my family just a while ago; my wife said she didn't remember that quip being in the story). (Ok, I've done that... beat my ride... usually when things go wrong with it, like when the brakes go out, or it won't start, or something; but it's been a while since I really did any beating on a car.) Road rage, but not really irritation at someone else's behavior. Well, I guess it is, since he's mad at his donkey. Anyway, what happens next is just plain bizarre: Balaam talks to his donkey. Ok, maybe it's not that weird... I talk to my car at times, after all. But Balaam's talking in response to his donkey's talking. What? Yep, talking donkey, cool! Now, if my car were to pipe up and yell at me for beating it, I think I'd probably be a little freaked out, but Balaam just talks back to his donkey like it's no big thing. Weird, but there's a lesson here, beyond the talking donkey. (And, no, I'm not suggesting that road rage is a Biblically accepted or supported practice as a conclusion!)

Where is Balaam going? He's going (apparently) to curse the Israelites who have come towards Moab and Jericho, at Balak's request (Balak was the king of Moab). Now, I say "at Balak's request" - let's look at that. Balak sent for Balaam, who is on "good terms" with God, but Balak says, "Hang on, let me check with God and see whether he wants me to go with you." And the next day he tells 'em, "Sorry, God said no." So they (the messengers of Balak) go home, but he sends them back to fetch Balaam again. And Balaam again checks with God, who says, "Ok, go with them, but only do what I tell you to do!" The next day, Balaam saddles up and heads off, but God's mad at him for going. What?! Didn't God just tell him to go with them? Why in the world then is He mad at him? Here's where the "apparently" comes in - after we see Balaam's donkey save him from being bisected by the Lord's angel's sword, we hear the angel of the Lord remind Balaam to "say only what I tell you to say." Thus, I think Balaam figured, "God gave the OK, I'll go ahead with these guys, curse the Israelites, get a nice paycheck from it, and then get back to being on God's side." Rationalizing away his intended actions... his motives are what got him in trouble. That's what really gets us in trouble all the time... it's not so much what we do, but why we do it that gets us in trouble (even Jesus made this point in the latter half of Matthew 5). But the talking donkey part is kind of cool... I suggested that my eldest son try to computer animate this story, and he suggested using a voice similar to Donkey from Shrek. Unfortunately he hasn't done it yet... it would be kind of neat. (Note: the emphasis in the paraphrased scriptures above is purely my own.)

I recently came across this guy's blog... it's a pretty neat place to visit, with some cool perspectives on the Bible. For instance, check out his post, "Walk Like an Egyptian..." - it re-inspired my daily reading, reminding me that the Bible isn't just "something to read" - it's pretty cool. (That post is similarly titled to a post of a friend of mine: "Walk Like an Egyptian" - note the lack of the elipsis- the three little dots- in her post title; of course, hers takes a completely different perspective, and had some neat discussion in its own right.) Note: I don't necessarily endorse all the guy's viewpoints - I've not even read all the posts on his blog - but I enjoyed that one that I read first, so I thought I'd share it with you, too. I also came across a pretty neat verse this morning: Psalm 34:19 - "The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time." (NLT, courtesy BibleGateway) Pretty cool, eh?

Hey... here's something I consider pretty neat... the Word of God, perspective. When God created everything, how did He do it? He spoke. He spoke! God created everything around us, out of nothing, by simply speaking. When you read the word of God, the Bible, or better yet when you memorize and quote/speak the verses, you're speaking words that have the power to create everything out of nothing! You're speaking God's words... powerful words. Not just some religious phrases, but words that have the very power of God in them. How cool is that?

A little while ago my daughter was debating on whether to take a shower or do her homework first, and mentioned she was tired. I suggested she do both simultaneously in order to save some time. I suggested that she could set her book outside the shower and take a rubber glove with her, inserting her wet hand inside the glove and using that to turn the page of the book without getting it wet (a slightly different use of a rubber glove: to keep the water in instead of out!).

Ok, I guess that'll do it for post #99. I'll have to really think to come up with a whopper for #100... look for it in a month or so. Oh, and don't forget that I'm still happily accepting Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 phones when they become available... :) Hope you had a happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Found it?

I think I may have found my ideal cell phone: the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1. Of course, it's not been released yet, and it will probably cost a small fortune when it is. But it has all the features (I think) that I'm seeking, and it's neat looking, and it's not your "usual" thing (I have a penchant for the unusual, remember?). It will support (according to the specs on Sony Ericsson's website) the UMTS 2100 and 1700 bands, so it should be compatible with TMobile's 3G network (whenever they get around to rolling it out); note: I'm not an expert on this particular area, so I could be wrong, but the bands are correct, as long as the technology is the same, it should work. It has (according to the advertised specs) a WVGA display (800x480 res, 3 inches diagonal, touch-screen), supports virtually every GSM/3G band available worldwide, has a pretty cool "curvy-slidy" design with full QWERTY keyboard, and is fairly trim at 4.3" x 2.1" x 0.7". Pretty cool. The only drawback is the M2 ("memory-stick-micro") slot instead of the (near-industry-standard) micro-SD slot, but I can get over that. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you don't even need a 2.5-3.5 adapter (or, worse, a proprietary adapter).

If anyone wants to send me one, rest assured I'll happily accept it. No fear of a refused gift here!

As far as my "need" for a more fun-to-drive vehicle, I was thinking on the way from work to our church's free tutoring (I was helping with doing, not receiving, the tutoring), that the Villager, also sold as the Nissan Quest, has a Nissan VG30E V6 in it. This is essentially the same V6 that was used in the Maxima, the 300zx, and the 200sx V6. The 300z had a turbo (and later a twin-turbo) version. Now, the Nissan/Ford partnership (it was sold as the Mercury Villager, but Mercury is part of Ford Motor Corporation) required the head design to be changed to a non-interference version (most other Nissan engines are interference designs, which means if the timing belt breaks, you're in for bent valves and major damage; with a non-interference design, a broken timing belt just means strandedness and a less-expensive repair). This engine was later enlarged to a 3.3 litre version (in the Nissan trucks and, I think, the later model Quest/Villager), which was supercharged in some applications. Anyway, I wonder if I can take the heads and intake & exhaust manifolds (and probably the ECU) from one of the turbocharged versions and soup up my Villager a bit; and maybe add some larger wheels and lower profile tires, and a custom lowered suspension... then the Villager might be a bit more fun to drive. Perhaps (and I don't know if this is a relatively simple swap or a bit more involved) it would be possible to replace the automatic transmission with a manual from a Maxima, too (which would improve the fun-to-drive quotient immensely, and just be plain cool: "Hey, I have a manual transmission, turbocharged sport van!" Then Peyton would have to leave me alone...). Note to sport minivans: look out for the Renault Espace. That was a 10-off (they made 10 of them) Renault (French) minivan with a Formula 1 drivetrain: mid-engined, V-10, really cool. That's a minivan any sporting driver wouldn't mind driving, I'm sure!

Now, take a look at the picture to the left; click it to zoom in if you need to see it bigger. That's not retouched (other than the fancy framework; pretty nice job I did, eh?), nor is it deliberate - my daughter was trying to open her Capri Sun and managed to puncture the pouch not once, but twice. My wife commented, "Maybe she has a future in piercings." (Why didn't I think of that?)

Ah, well, I think I need to watch a movie or go to bed (not yet sure which I'm going to do), so I'll leave you for now. Hope this has been somewhat diet-food-like for you - you know, enlightening. Heh-heh. And don't forget to send me an Xperia X1 if you feel like it; if I end up with more than one, I'll be sure to offer any extra(s) to other poor soul(s) in need of a really cool phone. Thanks in advance! :)

See?

I really am at work.. Just took this picture of my desk with my phone cam, and am blogging with the same, although I've been working in our dev bay more than in my office recently. I probably should be at home in bed, but I need to get this project done so we can satisfy the customer... It's also keeping me from working on the other two projects I'm really supposed to be finishing. Oh well... Back to work, I suppose.

Am I still here?

Apparently some readers have been wondering if I'm still out here, since I haven't blogged since Saturday. Ok, one reader. And that was because I wasn't at church Sunday (and have been listing my "status" as "sick" on my myspace - that phrasing seems a bit redundant, doesn't it?). But rest assured - I'm not dead. At least I don't think I am; I can't imagine traffic being this frustrating in Heaven. Sorry for the lack of wittiness over the past couple of days. I've just been under the weather, tired, and not feeling well, although I think those may be synonymous. And work's been quite hectic (anyone have a great new job for me yet?). At the moment, my coughing (which actually hasn't been bad to this point - it's mainly been congestion and overall soreness) is making my throat & chest hurt; hopefully the guafenesin I've just taken (the particularly delicious liquid type, as I took the last of the Mucinex tablets last night) will loosen up some of that and make the coughing less painful. Strangely, sometimes when I cough my right shoulder hurts. (Sometimes, when I drink too much soda too fast, my right shoulder hurts, too; but I haven't felt that in a while - I think my overuse of carbonated beverages recently has made me immune to that particular side effect.) But I'm sure you didn't come to hear about my current illness...

I was recently reflecting on some of the items of my childhood; our family always seemed to have "the other thing." For instance, when everyone else had Big Wheels, I had a Green Machine (a much superior, more maneuverable transport of fun; I notice, however, that they didn't spend any time proofing their website on it, because it says, "The green machine is light years ahead of it is time."). When everyone else had VHS, we had Sony Betamax (in fact, we wore out two or three copies of A Christmas Story on Beta video - I now have a legal, VHS copy; interestingly, while VHS beat Betamax in the consumer market, Sony's professional Beta line beat the corresponding VHS-related line in the professional industry). Our video games weren't Ataris, but instead consisted of a Fairchild video game system, all of the various iterations of Intellivision (including the speech synthesis module, although we never had the keyboard), and Sega's Genesis variants. The Fairchild was actually a pretty cool system; I remember many of the games for it, even though it was back in the late 70s and early 80s that we had that system (when I was pretty young). Games like "Spitfire" - where the Red Baron took on the Blue Max (I think); a drag racing game where you had to time the shifts perfectly in order to win; a sonar search game (similar to Battleship); some cool maze games; etc. The Intellivision had much superior games to the Atari, and I remember some of those fondly, too: B17 Bomber (a speech game), Sea Battle, Nightstalker (my little brother uses the Nightstalker icon for all his online personas), Utopia (one of the first "civilization simulation" type games), and Horse Racing (a pretty unique concept, where up to eight players could compete in the betting, although only one or two could actually race the horses; I've not really seen anything similar on any video gaming console since, but I may have missed something along the way) were a few of my favorites. The Genesis, again, had better graphics than the competing Nintendos of the time (my opinion; a friend had a Nintendo), and we still have a working Genesis console (although it's not currently hooked up; at this point, we have to "survive" with only the PS2 being connected to our entertainment system).

We (my family) also had some rather unique cars through the years... for instance, a Peugeot 505 STI TurboDiesel (the car on which I learned to drive a manual; I remember when I first started, I'd backed the car out of the driveway, but couldn't seem to get it going in first; a lady came over the hill, and was waiting, while my dad was beside the car, trying to get me to get it going; he kept saying, in order to get out of the way of the lady, "push in the clutch and let off the brake" and I kept being unable to desynchronize my feet - they would come off together, and the car would stall and not move since the clutch was engaged; eventually I did get it, and the lady was very understanding, commenting on teaching her son to drive; I did get better at the stick, though, and took my driver test in a turbocharged, manual transmission Mazda 626 GT). Various other European cars, including BMWs (my dad had the first 2002 registered in Birmingham) and Volvos and Fiats. My first car was a 1978 Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan (a blast to drive), followed by a 1983 Renault Fuego (again, much fun to drive). The aforementioned 1987 Mazda 626 GT was definitely a fun car to drive... it was my mom's. It unfortunately was wrecked by yours truly (that means me, although I'm not really sure why) in a single car accident in the summer of 1990. My mom, while glad I was ok, has, I think, never quite forgiven me... she still has some part of the car, maybe the key, to this day...

Actually, my mom's cars usually ended up wrecked (but not always by her), excepting her current ride (a 1990 Mercedes 300 CE coupe). It's actually quite fun to drive in its own right; I'd never thought much of Mercedes before she got that one. My dad's car is another German: a BMW 525is with a manual transmission and the sport package. I need want a fun car to drive... right now I'm driving a 1995 Mercury Villager minivan (I laid down my 2005 SV650 back on Halloween 2007 and haven't had the time or spare cash to get the replacement parts to make it ridable again).

Ok, enough of this post... I need to get ready for work. Just wanted to let you all know that I'm still around... (after this post, I bet it's never asked again if I'm ok...)

Later, all.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

BK Alien visit

I was going to in to Chick-fil-a for lunch, but even at 12:45 there was nowhere to park. I'm beginning to dislike Madison.. Too many people! Anyway, we ended up at Burger King and lo and behold while we were there aliens came in! One even tried to snag my food.. I managed to snap the pic above of his hand before fending him off my food.


Either that or this is from where chicken fingers come.. Giant chicken hands! At least there was no wait at BK. (The aliens must have sacred everyone away, to Chick-fil-a.)

Interesting technology

While languishing on my couch and poking around blogger, I found something interesting. Check out this feature of Blogger: Hindi transliteration. I'd seen something about that in the settings somewhere, but never really paid any attention to it. How does it work, you ask? (Ok, maybe you didn't, but I'm going to pretend you did and answer anyway!) Pretty cool: you type phonetically in English (Roman) characters, and (when you press space or some punctuation) it changes into the correct Hindi characters to "write" the word you've just "spoken" onto your blog compose screen. Now, how cool is that? This type of technology would be excellent for a variety of languages: Cyrillic-based (Russian, Ukrainian, etc.; Eastern European/Asian and so forth), Chinese/Japanese/other Asian languages with similar character sets, Hebrew, Greek, etc. Basically, any language which uses characters other than the typical Roman character set we find on our English keyboards. How long before this "transliteration" is available for more languages (maybe it already is)? How long before it becomes part of other software packages?

Where I work we sometimes deal with Cyrillic languages (or sometimes Japanese or similar Asian fonts). Our documentation lady has a "keyboard mapping" to help with her typing of the other language documents. Now, if she were able to speak the language, she would be able to simply type the phonetic pronunciation of the words, and they would automatically be translated into the other language. For her it probably wouldn't be that helpful, since I don't think she speaks any of these languages, but for other people it could be. With this transliteration feature (which is not the same as translation - with translation, it tries to change English words into foreign words; with transliteration, it changes word sounds into the correct spelling), you wouldn't need to remember keyboard mappings, or have a virtual keyboard, or whatever else, to help you type - you'd just type what you'd speak and the transliteration software does the typing in the other language for you (it would still help to know the char's in order to be able to determine if it's made the correct word selection and, if not, to select the correct word from a list).

I also came across Twitter - don't really know what it's about, but it might be something neat. I'm going to check it out when I'm feeling up to it...

This is simply silly

I just read an article about something stupid going on in Berkeley, CA. Apparently (summarization, if you don't want to go read the article) their city council is urging the Marine recruiting office there to leave town, and is "[applauding] residents and organizations that 'volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley.'"

What?! Come on now; our military needs our support, not our badgering. I don't care whether you "support" the war in Iraq or not; you still need to support our military - the troops are simply following their orders, doing their jobs - and unfortunately probably not getting paid well enough for it (I definitely felt that way when I was in the Navy). Ok, my previous statement is not exactly true - I do care and think you should support the war for a couple of reasons:
  • It is in the interest of our national security. Would you support the war if, instead of terrorists in Iraq, it was, say, Canada attacking our northern border? (Or Russia, China, or Japan attacking Alaska?) I bet you would. Aren't you glad that we defended our country back before it was a country, instead of simply playing along and conceding to Britain's oppressive rule? Aren't you glad that we didn't allow Hitler and his allies to take over all of Europe and Asia and Africa, and aren't you glad we took action when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor? How exactly is that different from terrorists attacking within our borders? Don't you think we should defend ourselves from terrorists? This means, of course, that we need to attack the places that are providing support for and harboring the terrorists. Will there be civilian casualties? Sure. But then again, look at what the terrorists are doing... using mentally retarded people to serve as (possibly unwitting) suicide bombers in public markets. They're now attacking the civilians of their own hosting country. US military makes carefully targeted precision strikes, doing everything possible to prevent civilian casualties. In fact, the military often puts themselves at higher risk in order to mitigate the possibility of inflicting civilian casualties (I should provide a link for support, but don't have anything other than information I've obtained or overheard in conversations with former marines & soldiers or family and friends of marines & soldiers).
  • We need to support our country's leader(s). We elected them, after all (if you didn't vote, you definitely shouldn't be speaking up now!). Regardless of whether you agree with the leader's (leaders') decisions, however, you should still support the military - those who are willing to make sacrifices to ensure that we are safe. On top of that, we should not support disobeying orders; that would lead to a weak, ineffective military, and the world will know and take advantage of it.
On top of that, getting rid of the recruiting stations means that those currently serving won't have timely relief in order to return to the US for a local tour of duty. People want and need a break, but if there aren't replacement troops (not just replacement for the injured or killed, but replacement on a rotational basis), then those in places like Iraq will have their tours of duty extended, leading to greater exhaustion, decreased effectiveness, and increased likelihood of injury or death. It's, in fact, a safety issue to ensure that recruiting efforts are not impeded.

You know, this sort of reminds me of people who burn the (US) flag as a form of protest. I absolutely support freedom of speech... but what is it that guarantees that freedom? Our constitution. What is the (well, one) symbol of that constitution? Our flag. In my humble opinion, people who burn the flag are burning the symbol of their right to freedom of expression... thus, I think they're really saying that they don't agree with our freedom of expression, and should have that right removed, per their own requests. Like I said, that's my opinion. I don't think that "patriots" burn the flag (as per some sites, such as this one) - after all, we've all seen the flag burning in various middle-eastern countries, and I sincerely doubt any of those people are American patriots. (You know, I even found one site that allows you to "burn a flag online" - pretty stupid; I'm not going to post a link to that site.) There is one situation that warrants burning a flag - retirement of a worn out flag, as mentioned on this site, which (if you go deeper into the site) has various info about flag burning, related legislation, history, etc.

Sorry for the lack of humorous, miscellaneous rambling in this post... feel free not to read it if you only read for that kind of stuff. Oh, wait, maybe I should've said that before you read the whole thing... sorry about that. Have a great day (or night, if you're reading this in the evening)!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wasted words

Sometimes I think my words here are wasted... there doesn't seem to be much activity (as evidenced by comments, or lack thereof). But that's not the real meaning of the title of this post. We were at dinner a little while ago (Casa Blanca, yum; I ate too much, though...), and I overheard my daughter say to my eldest son, "I've never heard anyone say that before."

That got me thinking.

Isn't that a silly thing? I mean, if you're saying that, you've probably just heard whatever it is that your claiming you've never heard. If, in fact, it's something you've never actually heard before saying it, then by the mere fact of your saying it it becomes something you've now heard (since you've just heard yourself say it, whatever it is). Technically, I suppose, in the latter case, the statement may be true during the time of its utterance, but by the time you're done saying it it is no longer true.

Ok, I'm tired... that's enough for this post...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Found "Title Of the Song" video

In case you're interested, I figured I'd post a video I found on YouTube of DaVinci's Notebook's "Title Of the Song." Here it is:



Note: the guys in the video are not DaVinci's Notebook; they're lip-syncing (ala Milli Vinilli style). But the music is DaVinci's Notebook. Also, I deliberately did not include related videos because at least one of DaVinci's Notebook's songs might be considered offensive (now you're going to look for it, aren't you?).

I'm still looking for the Nationwide "Take Your Kid To Work Day" bank commercial...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Retelling of an older, strange dream...

Since I've posted one strange dream, let me recount another I had a few years ago. I was at my aunt's house, at night, outside, and some big bat-like creature came along, took a bite out of the moon, and it started bleeding/turned red. Weird, kind of disturbed me.

That night there was a full lunar eclipse.

I guess I must have heard something about the eclipse on the radio or news or something and it didn't register consciously, but my subconscious picked up on it, hence the dream.

Of course, one of my weirdest dream episodes ever is also one of my earliest memories; I was staying at my Grandmom B's house, and was sick (I think) and had been given cold medicine or something (I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I think that was the origin; it could have been Benadryl elixir after antbites, but I'm pretty sure this was cold-related). Anyway, apparently I had lots of little Disney toys and some zoo or Noah's ark animals in the bed with me. I "awoke" to Mickey and Donald (along with the other animals) wanting me to play cards with them. That freaked me out. Later I was being chased by this blue-plaid stuffed horse with white hair that I had - it was large enough for small children to "ride" on - and it kept wanting to play with me, but I was terrified; eventually I saw it hiding behind the folded up picnic table (the old, wooden kind with metal legs that folded up into a fairly flat thing) on my Grandmom's side porch, and I was afraid of that area for many years thereafter. I guess that was all dreaming, though.

Ok, you want more, huh? How about this one: I was again at my Grandmom B's house, and someone had broken into the house with a machine gun. I tried to get out, but ended up on the counter in the kitchen, and this guy came in and was about to shoot me. I was really, truly scared in that one, facing death (I've since realized there really isn't anything to be scared of in death, other than perhaps jobs left undone, such as taking care of my family; I was young at the time, though).

When I was in 9th grade, shortly after moving into a new (to us) house, I had a terrible fever, and went to bed. It was raining. I awoke to the water level rising up to the third-story window of my bedroom and starting to pour in the window. I also saw the dinosaurs, brontosaurus (which actually isn't a real dinosaur) and such, fighting outside (I think that was the tall pines blowing in the wind). I also saw something evil - demons or witches or something - in my closet - which made me not use that closet for a while. (Actually, I rarely used it anyway, instead leaving my stuff all over my room and bed; in fact, my bed typically had 1/2 available for my sleeping and 1/2 covered with various junk.)

Before moving to that house, sometime after moving into my own bedroom, I awoke to my bedroom door - which I'd shut before going to bed - being opened the wrong way (instead of in, it was opened outward, and the hinges were on the wrong side). There was a ghost in the doorway, and it said, "Get oooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuut!" with that long, starting-high-and-falling pitch that ghosts use. Boy, that scared me! I was probably somewhere in the 3rd through 5th grade at the time. After lying there paralyzed by fear for a good 15-30 minutes, I rolled over to look at the clock which read something like 1:30. The next morning I told my mom about it, and apparently our dog at the time (a Russian wolfhound) liked to howl at the full moon...

Also once in that house, while my parents were out and my brother and I were home, he was upstairs (sleeping, I think) and I was lying on the couch reading or watching TV or something, when I heard someone break into the nursery room (converted garage; the youngest brother was being watched elsewhere). I just knew some burgler was going to come in and kill me, but what could I do? I just stayed frozen on the couch, hoping the TV noises would make him go away. He never came though; eventually my parents got home. Apparently the water heater, out in the former garage, sometimes made loud, banging sounds...

Stay tuned... maybe I'll have another weird dream to share sometime...

Strange dream

Now that I have this great medium for sharing my personal life with people I know or don't know (and don't necessarily know which based on comments, other than the ones I know; let me know if you figure out what I've just said, 'cause I might need you to let me know!), I can subject you to the strangeness of my subconscious once in a while (like this post).

Last night I wasn't feeling well (I'm drinking a Diet Mt. Dew this morning to help), and (after spending the evening reclined on the couch) went to bed about 9:22, which is pretty early for me (then again, the previous week's failure to sleep much might have something to do with the tiredness). I'd taken a TheraFlu Night-time ThinStrip (as a side note, which I do too often, I can't take the regular, hot-liquid TheraFlu; once my wife tried to get me to take it, and I said, "I'll throw up!", and she kept insisting, so eventually I started to drink the nasty, yucky, vile stuff and, guess what?, I threw up!). Anyway, about 11:30 or so, when my wife came to bed, I woke up. I don't know if it was her turning on the lamp by the bed (click noise and light), or the motion of the bed when she sat on it, or if I just woke, but I woke. I'd been having this strange dream (to improve the reading experience, I've moved parenthetical notes to the bottom of the narrative, indicated by "*" and so forth):
I was at the church. I had a new car, something cheap like a Kia or Suzuki *, but it looked like an older Subaru wagon. I had the two younger children (both boys) with me. I'd gone to find my wife, and she had rented six movies from Blockbuster, but wanted to go to the bathroom and left them on a table in the foyer of the church. Well, this irritated me, and I grabbed the movies and headed out to the car, which was running, but not well despite its being a new vehicle. I pulled it around to the front of the church, near where my wife was parked, and was talking to someone from the church when the car started rolling down the church parking lot (which was more steeply inclined in the dream than in real life) with the two boys still in it (somehow it had gotten put into gear). The older of the two had jumped in the front seat, and was trying to figure out what to do; I started running after them and told him to press the brake - he hit the clutch first, but eventually the brake - and to pull on the handbrake lever. After hitting some SUV (I think it did, can't recall for sure), the car stopped.

Anyway, by this time my wife was out, and we were going home or something. I was driving the new car, which was still running poorly, and still had the two boys with me. Somehow we got to a place where the road just formed a ramp onto a river-like area - wasn't aware of it, and we sailed through the air onto the water, where the car skimmed along the surface until it slowed and started sinking. The river-like area was something like you'd see at a water park, where you would go down the river with an innertube. Anyway, the boys got out of the car, and I did too, although I was carrying the car along with me (it was light in the water). I told them to stay nearby.

We came to a place where it forked, and ended up taking the left fork, which I realize had probably been a mistake - I think the road went to the right. The left fork really was a water-park ride. By this time I've realized my cell phone is soaked, so I pull it out, shake it off, and try to turn it on (and it was a weirdly-shaped phone). The first couple of times it partly powers up then turns off; eventually it turns on, and I called my wife. I explained where we were, but after a short while the phone died again, so I put it in a Ziploc bag I happened to have on me; I put that inside another bag. I also realized the keyless entry for the car my wife was driving probably wouldn't work (the new car didn't have keyless entry), and also my wallet - and all its contents - were getting soaked. I tried putting my wallet into the larger Ziploc bag, but noticed the corner near the seal was ripped and it would let water in, so I just put the wallet back in my pocket.

Anyway, by this time we've run into some people from the water park ride. The boys have decided to go ahead, even though I had told them to stay with the vehicle, and I'm trying to explain to the people what I'm doing with a car on the water park ride when they leave. Some guy says, "Let's pray for these people" (meaning my boys and me), not realizing the boys have gone ahead while I'm trying to work my way through the crowd with the car. So I slowly, quietly continue to work my way along the edge while he's praying, and when he says, "Amen!" I'm up at the front and get going on down the river/water-slide/whatever.

Eventually I catch up to the boys in a "holding" area where they try to make you buy pictures; I'm trying to scold them, and this guy in a clown suit (I think, or something similar) is pestering us with, "Don't you want to buy your pictures?" Eventually, to shut him up, I agree, selecting one of the packages, and then we're moved into this little booth/room where another guy has the list of available pictures we can put into this package. He has several of me and of the boys, but then he keeps pulling out pictures, and there are pictures of me, my parents, my grandmom, and my aunt from about a year earlier when we'd visited this water park on a vacation **.

And then I woke.
Now, I don't really put much stock in dreams - at least not those I have when sick or on medicine because I'm sick; I've had quite a few whoppers at times like those - but I try to amuse myself when I have strange ones by asking what they mean. My wife suggested, "Don't leave the car running with the boys inside." Ok, at least not without the handbrake engaged. Any more thoughts?

* I've never owned a Kia, although I currently own a 2005 Suzuki SV-650 - the link is to the 06 model since they no longer have the 05 model on their website; it needs a new handlebar and shift lever after I laid it down back on Halloween 07. I've also had a 2007 Forenza - really a GM Daewoo - for about 2 months before it was totalled by vandalism in my front yard (someone threw fireworks inside the car) - that was actually, despite being somewhat low on power, a decent, inexpensive car.

** I've not really been on vacation in a long time; the last was when I went on a cruise with my wife that my parents gave me as a graduation present back in 2004. Other than that, my "vacations" usually are to visit family, although one year we managed to visit some old Navy friends while vacationing to visit family in South Carolina at Christmas.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ketchup time

Ok, I mean "catch-up" time. In case you didn't know, I'm writing a book. A book of humor. I'd tell you the title, but then I'd have to kill you (ok, not really; I just want to keep it secret so that not everyone will know it and try to steal my concept before I get around to finishing and publishing it). Anyway, I work in our church's AWANA program on Wednesday nights, and the "ladies of the office" (and Mark) have come to expect the "joke of the week" (sometimes they want more than one). These are all original (well, at least they're original to me - I'm not repeating someone else's jokes, using my own material instead).

Catch up time: time to share with you, my faithful readers (all four of you), some of my original humor. Once the book is completed, I'll let you know that it's ready for general, public consumption. That is, I'll ask you all to go buy a copy (or two-hundred) so I can quit my day job (and then you'd get lots more blog posts!). With that said, here you go, some (recent) samples:
  • Were you an American Indian peeping tom, I suppose you'd go around staring intently.
  • Would dying your roots be a form of ancestral murder?
  • Claustrophobia: the fear of Saint Nicholas.
  • You know what happened to the dinosaurs, right? The scientists had thought it was climate change from a massive comet or asteroid strike that did them in, but it was much more rapid than that. The comet hit, threw up a bunch of dust, and that blocked out the sun's light, making everything dark. Dinosaurs, of course, can't see in the dark, so they started turning on their lights. There was this one dino family, though, out in the middle of nowhere (I think they were on a camping trip, or perhaps they'd been evicted from their apartment for failure to pay rent), but they still needed light, so some helpful dinos wanted to get electricity out to them and plugged in their extinction cord, and the rest, as they say, is history.
That's all you get for now... I'll perhaps post more another time.

I've thought of another reason you should vote for me for president: when my cell phone powers on, it says, "Good morning, Mr. President!" - so you should vote for me to make my phone more accurate (instead of it calling me president of my own imagination, it could be president of the United States of America!).

Gotta eat now... later, y'all!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Told you!

I said I was going to get something to eat! See? A fabulous Chick-fil-a #8 combo in eight-pack guise with a diet, caffeine-free coke. Yummy! I'm bloging this one-handed from my phone while eating with the other. Aren't you glad you're reading this? Ok, too inefficient on the eating part, going to send this and then eat with both hands... Later!

Talk about stupid videos...

Take a look at this one:



I mentioned noticing a misspelling error or two on my brother's MySpace page, and he replied, "Shirley ewe joust!" And there you go... I ran with it. Sorry to subject you all to such things... but you did voluntarily read this blog! For more info on real ewe jousting, see this Google search. Or, of course, you could search in the little Google search box somewhere on my blog page (if you're reading this on my blog; if you get it in e-mail, I doubt you have access to the convenient Google search I threw on my Blog to make life easier for you).

I'll write more later... I'm starving, so I'm going to go get something to eat now. Until later... re-watch the video!