Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I will be in bed before the year ends so I'm writing this now. I have to work in the morning and I'm too old to stay up that late then go to work. I would have one thing going for me; I get one extra second to sleep. If you want to know why, read Phil Plait's explanation. It's very detailed, and very interesting. Well, to me anyway.

What do I hope for next year? I hope that gas stays cheap but, at the same time, the world economy turns around. Mostly I hope our economy does, but we need to whole world to stabilize for everything to kick into gear. Also, I hope that I win the lottery. Hey, I get to ask something for myself. It's my blog after all.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Weekend Assignment # 248: What'dja get?

Thanks to Karen I now know how to spell "what'jda". I use the word all the time; now I know the proper spelling. See, who says you can't learn anything by reading blogs?

Anyway, for this week's assignment Karen wants to know what we got for Christmas. That's probably obvious by the title, no?

Specifically Karen asks:

Weekend Assignment #248: What was the most interesting or unexpected gift you received this holiday season?

Well, one that kind of covers both was a game that Jenn gave me. Actually it's three games for the price of one! What a bargain! Yes, I'm doing that on purpose. Why? Well, just look here at the set of games; it kind of makes you talk like that. I'll wait. Jenn got it for me because I would watch the Match Game whenever it came on. I can't help myself. She likes to make fun of me for being stuck in the 70's because I like to watch Columbo, Quincy, M*A*S*H, etc. What can I say? I like good TV shows that just happen to be about 30 years old. Is there anything wrong with that?

I also got the 20th Anniversary DVD set of MST3K. I'm really looking forward to watching that. It's too bad that I got that as my vacation is coming to a close. I'm sure I'll make time to watch it soon. Maybe this weekend.

Jenn also gave me a Flip video camera. I've been playing around with it a little these last few days, but haven't actually downloaded anything off of the camera yet. I recorded the kids playing a video game today. It was pretty fun to watch.

That is about all of the interesting things I got. I got a few gift cards that I already used. I bought a backup hard drive, like Karen did, as well as the new Stephen King book and an older Allen Steele book. Again, I wish I bought them before my vacation was ending. Then again, I was so busy I probably wouldn't have had much reading time anyway.

Extra Credit: What was the most interesting gift you gave this holiday season?

Jenn found this one, too. My mom smokes. A lot. So, when she comes here or my brother's house she has to go outside all the time. So what makes a perfect gift? Why the smoking mittens. With a convenient hole to put a cigarette through while keeping your hands warm. Hopefully she will use them.

That's about it for me. What about you?

Monday, December 29, 2008

550 pieces later...

550 pieces later...
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
King Aurthur's Castle is finished. I was only missing one piece and only one thing had to be super-glued together. (It was a manufacturing error, I swear).

It has been together for only an hour and something was already broken off. Since it is made of Mega Blocks, it can be easily repaired. I think.

I think it may have taken less time to build a real castle. I need a beer.

One year ago today (plus a couple of days)

I started this blog on December 27, 2007. Yes, I should have posted about my one year anniversary on the anniversary date. I know. Think about it though; that was on Saturday, I don't have many people come here on a normal day, not to mention on a Saturday after Christmas. I wanted to make sure a few people saw this one.

Anyway, it's been more fun, and more difficult, than I thought it would be. I was never deluded enough to think that I would get a lot of people to come here besides my wife. Actually, if Jenn didn't start hers I don't know if I would have started my own. I had thought of it for a while but when Jenn said she wanted to start one I figured it was a good idea. She usually has good ideas.

Anyway, it was a little weird to be writing knowing that nobody was reading this at first. Then Jenn sent out an e-mail to our friends to let them know to come by and read; that actually made me nervous. I don't know why. I know all of them, they knw I'm a little weird already.

Not long (about a week; I was surprised at that) after I started writing here, John Scalzi posted on his blog that he was handing over the responsibilities of the Weekend Assignments to Karen over at Outpost Mavarin. I had never done, or seen, the weekend assignments since they were on his AOL blog so I went to Karen's site and decided to play along. I'm glad I did! If it wasn't for that I would never have met, Karen, Florinda, Unfocused Me, or Carly. They are most frequent commenters. And isn't that what makes a blog fun? If I didn't want people to comment I would have a diary shoved under my mattress. (No I wouldn't, but you get the meaning).

From there I decided to play along with Ten on Tuesdays since Florinda always does them, and it seemed fun. I still do them when the subject is interesting, or I have time.

After my initial apprehension of leaving comments on blogs of people that I don't know, I started leaving them whenever I found something interesting. I believe it was a post on Pop Culture Junk Mail that lead DC to come to my blog and leave a comment. Now she is one of my most regular visitors as well. And, of course, I go to hers all the time.

The latest thing I joined was Carly's Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot; after much prodding from her. We recently bought a new camera and I've been having a lot of fun playing with it. I missed last week's photo shoot because of the craziness that was this week, but I plan on getting back to it this week. I hope.

I'd have to say that I'm surprised about how this last year has gone. Like I said, it's been even more fun than I thought. I never pictured myself being this into blogging, but I really enjoy it. I think I'll stick around for awhile. Or, until nobody comes here anymore, whichever comes first.

So, thanks to Jenn, Karen, Florinda, Carly, DC, Unfocused me, as well as Cookie, Dreamybee, as well as all the Photo Shoot Monday people, and anyone I have forgotten. It's been a great year because of you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas week Wrap up 2008

Well, it's over. Another Christmas come and gone. I can't believe the year is almost over. It seems like it was just August. Actually, today feels a little bit like spring. The snow has all melted, and it is raining now. And flooding. Not near us, but a lot of flood warnings are out for the Chicagoland area. I'm sure next week everything will freeze again.

Christmas Eve was a weird day. Jenn had to work, which seemed odd, and the day started with some snow, then some melting of snow, then it was 12 degrees by 10pm. We went by Jenn's cousin's house to get together with her side of the family. It was nice, though the place that they ordered food from screwed up. They had made some food, as well as bought some from somewhere else, so we still had plenty. The kids got some toys (you can never have enough), I got an gift card, and Jenn got a shirt that she has to return. I've already gone to Amazon's site to see what I want to buy. I need to narrow it down now.

Though my son was worried about being able to fall asleep, they both did fine. We managed to get them to wait until 8am to go downstairs and open presents on Christmas morning. I'm still not sure how we did that. They ripped open all their presents and were both happy with what Santa gave them. We went to my mom's house that night and got even more gifts. I have a lot of gift cards to use which is good. The problem is always figuring out what the best deal for my gift cards is. I want to get an external hard drive. Ours is small, and full, and if the hard drive on the desktop blows up I don't want to lose all of our pictures.

Jenn gave me a Flip video recorder. I've been playing around with it and I'm sure I'll be posting some videos with it soon. I know you can't wait!

This weekend has been spent putting things together so far and helping my son play Wall-E, Lego Batman, and Lego Indiana Jones. He needs help with some of the harder tasks; it has nothing to do with me wanting to play the game at all. Actually, I was just playing the Indiana Jones game while he was in bed. I had to make sure he didn't miss any secrets. Really! The best part of the Lego games is that you can bust anything and get some coins. See a plant; smash it. See and wheelbarrow; smash it. It's kind of fun.

This afternoon I spent at least 2 hours putting a castle together for him. It's made up of Lego-type pieces, 550 to be exact, so I didn't finish it. I was getting frustrated, and Jenn knew it, so she told me to take a break so we could eat dinner. She knows I'm not good at building things.

Now we are relaxing. The kids are both asleep and we are watching TV. Jenn is watching a video she got from her sister as I type. It's called The Spirit of the Marathon. Since I have no desire to run one, I don't have the spirit required to watch it closely.

I am off of work until December 31st, which is nice, but I also need the rest. I've been staying up too late; I'm too old for that.

Have you all recovered from the Christmas holiday?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

The presents have been ripped open. The wrapping paper has been thrown away. Now my son I'd standing in front of the TV holding his Lego Batman video game; waiting for me to turn it on.

I hope you all have had a good Christmas! Now you know for sure if you were naughty or nice!

We still have to go to my mom's house this afternoon. Our big holidays are spread over many days with our big family.

I'm tired already.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fun winter stats

Number of times I've used the snowblower: 2

Number of times I've launched a newspaper buried in the snow: 2

Average distance paper has been launched: 5 feet

Number of papers still legible after launching: 2

So, I guess I have a new tag line for Toro. Toro: You can launch your newspaper with our snow blowers and still read them. Just make sure you aim for your front porch.

What do you think? Yeah, a little long. I'll work on it.

I remember winters like this

As you probably know from my complaining, it's been a little snow and cold here so far. We've had it pretty easy the last several years and I'm not used to this. Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky. No need to respond to that.

I took some pictures. Want to see? Too bad.

This was after our first snow. As you can see this tiny little tree is barely covered to it's lowest branches. I think we got about 3-4 inches here.

Then we got our bigger storm. We were supposed to get about 8 inches but we only got about 4 inches. So, you can see the snow is a little higher on the tree but also, the little bush in front is now completely covered. This snow was much wetter than this first, so it compressed some of the older snow, otherwise it would have been higher.

Over Sunday and Monday we didn't get any snow, but it was very cold (-20 to -30 on the wind chill). Today it snowed again, and we are going to get more later today and tomorrow. Slowly the little bush is getting more covered. Due to the direction of the wind some of the snow is getting cleared away from the little bush. (I don't know why I keep calling it a tree. Also, now only the very top of the other bush is sticking out.

I figure, at the rate we are going, our house should be buried by February. That's not good since Jenn and I are going away then.

I realize this isn't much snow compared to some places, it's just the frequency of the snow that is getting to me. It's like every other day! If I was a kid I'd love it, but I didn't have to drive in it. Or, clear the driveway. Sigh. Yes, I am getting old and cranky.

I need to go shovel now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #16: Autumn Meets Winter

Once again I'm posting this at the last possible minute. I need to get my act together. I was thinking I'd post this in the morning or, at the very latest, this afternoon but we were at grandma and grandpa's house last night and the kids got their Christmas gifts. Needless to say, today has been spent opening and putting together toys. I'm exhausted.

Anyway, on to the subject of the photo shoot. Carly wanted us to capture Autumn meeting Winter. You know, snow and leaves, or grass and snow, or something along those lines. The funny thing was that the day Carly posted the assignment our snow melted. Actually, that Sunday we got almost two inches of rain. Luckily the temperature plummeted more than 30 degrees overnight, so we got some ice. And, with the ice, I got these shots:

Here's a close-up of the leaf trapped in the ice.

I thought it was pretty neat to see the leave encased in ice like this. Now we have about six inches of snow so we can't see anything out there. Luckily this assignment came this week!

(Edit: I don't know why the first picture is on it's side. It is not how I shot, or saved, it. And, I don't have time to fix it right now. It's looks normal on Flickr.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I think I'm ready

We have The Mother of All Winter Storms coming tonight. Well, maybe it's more like an aunt, you know, the one that nobody likes and never makes cookies. Anyway, it's going to be bad any minute now. It was supposed to be bad already but now it's going to be bad overnight. Probably. Definitely by early morning. Really.

I'm prepared. I think.

Snowblower: Fueled and tested.

Car: New wiper blades installed; gas tank full.

Gloves: Purchased.

Alarm: Set much earlier than I'd like.

Panic Mode: Engaged.

I think I'm ready. Hopefully I'll make it to work in one piece. Wish me luck! (I'm really hating this winter),

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weekend Assignment #246: Surprise!

As Karen says in her post, it's been a wacky year with not much in the way of good news. So, we are supposed to relay some surprising good things that happened to us this year.

Weekend Assignment #246: A strange and sometimes difficult year is drawing to a close. Tell us about something that happened this year that was a pleasant surprise for you personally.

This has not been a year full of good news for our country, or the world. First, gas prices skyrocketed, followed by the real estate stall, then collapse, followed by the country and global economies tanking. Many, many people have lost their jobs this year, and next year won't start out much better. But, it's Christmas time; a time of good cheer. I can come up with some pleasant surprises.

I have a few, nothing really special. One has to do with our older car. The car is about eight years old now, and fast approaching the 100,000 mile mark. Well, now that Jenn has a job four miles from home, that magic number may take a little longer to reach. We have had the magical 'check engine' light on many times over the last year. As you may know, when the car has to be tested for emissions it will fail if that light is on. Sure enough it did. So we took the car in to get the situation taken care of -- several times. I blame the place that we took the car to. We always bring the car where we bought it because they give us a car to use while it is being fixed but, as I mentioned, Jenn changed jobs and is no longer near that dealership. So we took it to the one up the street. They just don't seem to try as hard since we didn't buy it there. At least that is what I think.

Anyway, we were getting to crunch time. We needed to renew the license on the car but we had to pass the test first. So, I made an appointment with the place were we bought the car and took the hour drive out there. They worked on it for a while and were pretty sure they isolated the problem to a short in the A/C fan and fixed it. Then, to top it off, they went and took the car to get the emissions tested for us. I thought that was really nice! It saved me a trip, and they made sure it passed. Sure, the little light comes on every once in a while again, just to say 'hi' I think, but we are good for another two years on the emissions test. Maybe we'll dump it by then. We'll see.

The other pleasant surprise happened tonight. At the kid's school my daughter's class sang and told stories during the Advent service. It was a nice surprise to see our daughter sing and be happy up there. When she was at her old school she hated doing these things. She would usually cry and/or not sing. This time she was happy to be up there. I think she might have hurt her wrist waving to us.

Extra Credit: Are you looking forward to the new year?

Yes, we have a couple of trips planned, which is a huge thing for us. Let's just hope the economy holds together enough for us to go. We already have deposits down!

So, any surprises that you want to share? Or, things you are looking forward to next year?

Checking out the snow

I don't have much time. I have to shower and go pick up the kids, the go to my mom's and then -- let's just say I have a lot to do. But, I got a good shot of Quincy hanging out in the snow.

Actually, he is sitting on the kids old picnic table. I guess he gets a better view. Sorry for the fuzziness; there is a screen on the window where I took this. I didn't want to go outside since he would probably move and ruin the picture.

Gotta go!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A good start to the week

It was not a pleasant start to the week in our household. Let me tell you a little about it.

On Sunday, according to every calendar (except the one in our laundry room) Sunday is the start of the week, I worked during the day, then we went to a party at night. There are a group of us from work that were hired on the same date, so we got together to celebrate our tenth anniversary. It was fun. We all work different shifts, and different day off rotations, so we don't get to see each other as much as most co-workers do. It's interesting to see how much things have changed since we were hired. Some have gotten married, kids have been added, one has a daughter in college now; in other words, we are all getting old.

Anyway, since the party was on a Sunday we knew we wouldn't be able to stay long because the kids had school the next day. That worked out well for me. After we ate I felt lousy. I was pretty sure it was my acid reflux/ulcer problems kicking in because of the pasta sauce. So, we packed it up and left there just before 8 pm. The party was only a few miles from the house so we were home and had the kids in bed by 8:30pm, not too bad for a school night.

Because of my (what I thought) acid reflux I planned on sleeping downstairs in the recliner. For those of you who don't have the problem, laying down with acid reflux is not fun. Not that sitting up helps much, but it's better than laying down. Anyway, by about 1:00am, I realized it was something different. I won't go into details, but it was a long night. I posted a message on Twitter (are you on Twitter? Why not?) about how I'd rather have the little alien bursting out of my gut like in the movie Alien. No alien came out, though at times I wasn't so sure it wouldn't happen.

When Jenn and the kids got up, I went upstairs to bed to try and get some sleep. Jenn came in about 20 minutes later to say our son wasn't feeling well, she wasn't either, so she was going to stay home, too. So, what we ended up doing was trading off sleeping. I slept until about 11:30 am, then Jenn slept until about 1:30pm, then I went back to bed and slept until about 3:30pm. It was a fun day! I still felt lousy after 5:00pm, so I called in sick for work today as well. I feel better, but not 100 percent.

I've been saying this since since my son was sick last week; I'm glad we are getting this over with before Christmas.  We've had one really bad Christmas, we don't need another one.

There is some virus going around people. I recommend wearing hazmat suits until this passes. Maybe after the winter is over. Save yourselves! 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

EMPS #15: Pizza Toppings?

Well, here I am on only my third photo shoot and I kind of messed up. Carly set the assignment up as pizza toppings with pictures of pizza as extra credit. So, what did I do? I did the extra credit without doing the main assignment. Do I get credt for that at all? Oh well, here's what I have:
We have a nice Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizza. Doesn't that picture make it look absolutely scrumptions? All I rellly like om my pizza is cheese or pepperoni. I'm a pretty basic guy with basic tastes.
Look at the texture of the cheese and pepporoni. Acutally, that pepperoni looks a little pale. It didn't taste bad.

And here we have the final product. It's no Lou Malnati's, but it also has about 1/10th of the calories.

What do you want on your Tombstone? (I haven't had a Tombstone frozen pizza in ages).

I don't know what the deal is with the format. I've tried to fix the spacing on the pictures and text 12 times. It just won't work. Sorry for the mess.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This dog is chillin'

Originally uploaded by Mike F.
Remember a while back when I wrote up my Weekend Assignment about buttons? No? That's okay, I can barely remember anything I talk about either. Anyway, I mentioned our first dog and how he would sit like a person. Well, here is proof. This is a picture of a picture so it isn't all that clear, but I think you get the idea. We did not pose him this way; he sat like this a lot. He really thought he was a person.

His name was Cosmo and I think it is safe to say that he lived up to his name. He was every bit as weird as Cosmo Kramer from Seinfield. He used to have this ball that he would carry around the house, and whine really loud as he did so. When he would do that in the middle of the night it sounded like he was dying. He scared the crap out of us many times doing that.

I just thought I'd share the picture. Have a good weekend. No getting in trouble!

Another childhood memory ruined.

I guess we can't re-build him anymore. I need to go destroy my old doll and space capsule now.

At least he held out longer than Lindsey Wagner. She's been selling beds for ages.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weekend Assignment #245: Holiday Traditions

Well, it's that time of year; time when children dream of getting every toy imaginable, parents freak out because they can't find that ONE toy of the season, and when way too much food and drink is consumed. You know I'm talking about Christmas, right? Anyway, Karen suggested we talk about holiday traditions.

Weekend Assignment #245: Some holiday traditions continue from generation to generation, some fall by the wayside, and some new ones arise as we strike out on our own, form new families and adapt to changes in culture and technology. How traditional are your holiday traditions, compared to decades past?

I've been thinking about this since I read Karen's post. We don't have any really special traditions, or at least not what most people would consider traditions.

The first one I came up with is the, "Crap, we need to get a tree" tradition.  No, we don't have one yet. I work a lot of weekends, so it makes it difficult to plan a day when we can all go. We get a real tree, but we don't go and chop our own down or anything. Usually we go to Home Depot, or a church that is close to where I work. Since it is already the 11th of December, I will probably end up picking one up after work this weekend. I hope they have some left! I figure we should be done decorating it around December 20th.

The other tradition is related to my work schedule as well. Since I work the holidays we have to plan when we are going to have the kids open presents. There has been at least one Christmas that Santa came on the 26th since I had to be at work at 7am on the 25th. The kids may be a little too old to get away with that now. These last two years I've been on vacation over Christmas so the scheduling has been much easier. Next year might require some work.

Still, it's not as bad as when I was a kid. Back then my parents had to figure out whose house we were going to be at on which day. I think we used to switch of going to my dad's and staying at my mom's on Christmas and Christmas eve. When I was in grade school Christmas eve with my mom usually meant going to my step-dad's sister's house, then coming home and opening presents that night. That was cool. Of course we wouldn't want to go to sleep. At least the parents got to sleep in later. Now, we go to my dad's house the Saturday after Thanksgiving for a holiday party. It works out really well. With kids involved now, trying to get to see all the grandparents in a two day span would be a nightmare.

I want to start a new holiday tradition of sleeping in on Christmas.  How do I convince the kids? Any other holiday traditions out there?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Comments, what comments?

I try to make an effort to respond to every comment, except for the spam comment I got on Thanksgiving. I figure if you take the time to say something, I should too. Besides, I get about two per post on average; I think I can handle it. Lately, however, my comments aren't making it to my e-mail. Actually about 37.5 percent are getting to e-mail (I did the math). So, if I don't respond, that is why. I've been trying to go back and check every so often, but I only go three posts back usually.

What I'm trying to say is; what the hell is wrong?! Oh, and don't take it personally.

I think I might try a different e-mail. If all else fails, blame Comcast; they're used to it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Monday, right?

Pardon me if I am a little confused; it's been an odd weekend. I worked Saturday during the day, then we went to a holiday party at night, I slept in on Sunday, then I went to work for the overnight shift. The midnight shift always messes me up because I start at 11pm the day before it shows on my schedule. In other words, when I went in at 11pm on Sunday my schedule showed I was working on Monday. So, when I am awake, I'm never 100 percent sure what day it is. At least I work during the day tomorrow. Then I am off Wednesday, and I go back to work Thursday. I have vacation time at the end of the month so I'm working all my days early. Got that? Yes, I realize that this has been the most exciting paragraph I've ever written. Thanks for saying so!

I believe I've mentioned that winter has arrived here already, to make it better we are supposed to get some freezing rain tonight. I like the way freezing rain makes the trees shine, I do not like how it makes you drive sideways down the street, slide through intersections, and just plain make it seem like the steering wheel is not connected to anything. It was supposed to start hours ago and we have nothing yet. I'm hoping it misses us. I'd much rather have a few inches of snow. With snow I can make snowman, what do you do with ice? Besides spend hours scraping of so you can open the car door. I told Jenn the other night that we are either moving to a warm climate when we retire or buying a place to live during the winter months. We better start saving. Come on economy, let's get moving! My 401K is not going to make money on it's own.

Okay, enough complaining about the weather. I should get some other things done anyway.

How was your weekend? Or Monday for that matter?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #14: Autumn Sunsets

I wasn't sure if I would have a picture to post this week since it has been mostly cloudy and snowy here in the Chicago area. It seems Winter wanted to get an early start around here; I know I could have waited. I am not a fan of cold, or snow for that matter. I used to like it as a kid but I don't build snow forts anymore. Maybe that is something the kids and I should do this winter. If we get packing snow that is, so far it has been the drier snow that you can't build with. Anyway, on to the pictures.

These I took through our window upstairs that faces west. It was too cold to stand outside and, even if I did, the houses across the street would have been in the way. See:

It's not the best shot with the tree in the way, but when I zoomed into the tree and took another shot, I thought it took on an interesting view.

That is about the best shot I could get this week. Every other days has been too cloudy, or I wasn't home for an actual sunset. I do have a shot from Halloween that I took from outside. It's a little better. There are still some things in the way, but I think it turned out okay. 
At least you can see most of the sun clearly in the shot above. There are my photos for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot this week. Check out Carly's site for all the other great shots!


Friday, December 5, 2008

What I've learned so far this week

  • My belt squeaks when I walk. I would notice the noise occasionally before, but I didn't realize it was my belt. At least it's not loud enough for other people to hear. That would be weird. Like I was some kind of tin man that needs oil, or something.
  • My right shoe has a crack in the bottom that goes all the way through the shoe. I found that out two days ago while walking in the slush. Fun!
  • I don't like winter anymore. I was pretty sure of this before, now I am positive. I don't do any winter sports, I don't like shoveling, so what is there to like about winter?
  • One of my sweaters is messed up. I don't know if it was always like this, but let me try to explain. It's not straight is the best way I can put it I guess. See, the lines in the fabric kind of gradually twist to the left from top to bottom and the seam under my armpits does the same thing. I don't know if anybody else noticed, but I did. It reminds me of the clothes my mom used to buy me that would say "IRREGULAR" on the tag and she would try to convince me that it was nothing anyone would notice. Then, I would spend the whole day at school trying to find the problem with the pants, or shirt, or whatever it was. No, I don't think about that stuff at all anymore.
  • Someone is getting ripped off. When I was in college my mom gave me these hangers for my tiny closet in my dorm room. You would slide five hangers into the slot and then you would drop one drop one side down and the clothes would fit in a smaller spot. Well, they are back. I don't think this is the same company, but I could be wrong. I hope the person who designed the original is getting a cut of the action. I'll tell you what; I could have used that LED light they are giving away with them in my dorm closet.
  • This may not be some much something I learned, but rather something that I wonder about. I've seen this commercial a few times for a small powered snow shovel called Snow Joe. Now, those of you in warmer climates probably have never seen the commercial so I will explain part of my question here. If you noticed on the website I linked to, they use computer animation on the commercial. They show a guy out there clearing the snow, a boy throwing a snowball, and his wife (I assume) meeting him at the door in some lingerie (yes, I'm serious). Anyway, I'm wondering why they don't show the thing actually being used? Why use computer animation unless the thing doesn't really work? Am I the only one that thinks this way?

That's all I have for now. Hope you are all having a good Friday!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Great, I wonder who else thinks I'm a woman

Have you tried the Gender Analyzer? You punch in your website and it tells you if it is written by a man or a woman. Obviously it doesn't work; why else would it think I was a woman? (66%).

Along the same lines, have you tried to seel what level of education your blog is written? Try out the Blog Readability Test. Mine is at the high school level; I thought it might be lower.

Last link. Have you seen Santa's Gmail account? It's good, but he may not be.

(Found on Mary Robinette Kowal, Paperback Writer, and Gizmodo blogs).

Weekend Assignment #244: Black Friday

Well, this Assignment could be boiled down to one word from me, but that's no fun.  Karen asks:

Weekend Assignment #244:
The day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is widely believed to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Do you typically shop for holiday gifts on that day? If so, why? Is this year any different in that respect?

It's more like "crazy shopping people day". I have the benefit of writing this after Black Friday so I can mention that someone was trampled to death at a Wal Mart. Not to mention two people shot at a Toy's R Us. Although there are some doubts about whether or not that was shopping related, or a different kind of stupidity.

Anyway, no, I don't go shopping on Black Friday. I don't like shopping on a normal day; there is no way I'm going when the stores are bursting with people. I don't like crowds, have I mentioned that before?

The last two years I have stayed home (well, slept really) while Jenn has gone out to do the shopping. The amount she saves is significant; I just couldn't do it myself. I did give her some time to herself afterward this year so she could rest. Aren't I a nice guy?

Sometimes I will do the Black Friday shopping online. I bought Jenn an iPod on Black Friday last year, or maybe two years ago. So I saved a whole 11 dollars on it, but I got free engraving and shipping.

What I want to know is, when did Black Friday start? Or should I ask, when did it get so crazy?  I worked in retail right after college, and I don't remember all this craziness. Maybe I have a bad memory, or the type of store I worked at didn't have good sales. I think maybe I forced the memory from my mind. It wasn't my favorite job that I've ever had.

Extra Credit: Is there a particular bargain you are pursuing this year? If so, what is it?

Usually, there are a few things my wife really wants to get on Black Friday but this year there wasn't really any specific great bargain. I think there was a kitchen set for our daughter that was half off, but that is about it. The sales didn't seem as great as everyone had thought. Or hoped.

Anyone else hate, or love, Black Friday?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: Ten ways you can save money

Let's see what I can come up with for this week's Ten on Tuesday:

1. Turn the heat off at night and get the family some Snuggies.

2. Burn your junk mail for warmth. You should have a lot of catalogs this time of year!

3. Make all of your meals in the oven during the winter. It will heat up the house. Well, at least the kitchen.

4. During the peak of summer hang out at different friend's houses everyday. This way you can keep your A/C turned off.

5. Bring your lunch to work. Or, steal someone's out of the fridge at work.

6. Make all your meals in the home. Or, go to your mom's (or another relative) house every day for a free meal.

7. Find a carpool buddy. Everyday it is your turn to drive tell them your car won't start.

8. Make all your long-distance calls at work

9. Dry your clothes on a clothes line. Or hang them from the trees. It's the same thing.

10. Buy some storage barrels for gas. You know it is going to go up again.

There you have it. This is the best I could come up with. What would you do to save money?