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?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

EMPS #13: Happy Turkey Day!

Okay, Carly has told me a few times that I should play along with the Monday Photo Shoot. So here it goes:

This week we were supposed to take pictures of turkeys; which makes sense since it was just Thanksgiving. I hope you got your fill of food by the way. I don't think I need to eat for about a week. Maybe two.

Anyway, I didn't get any pictures of the turkey we ate, but I have a couple of pictures of turkeys anyway.

This was a small turkey cake from Deerfields Bakery near our house. They make a lot of cool themed desserts. We get all our holiday cakes and cookies from them. One year for July 4th we bought a cake that looked like a giant hamburger. It was very well received.

Here is a big version of the turkey cake. When I came home from work I opened the fridge to find this turkey peeking out of his box looking at me. It cracked me up so I had to take a picture. He looks like he knows he is going to be eaten soon. And he was right!

That is all I have for this photo shoot. I don't know if I'll be able to do every week; it depends on the subject, and my schedule. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The long weekend

How's everybody doing on this long holiday weekend? Did you visit relatives you haven't seen in a year or more? Are you staying with them, or them with you? Are you sick of them yet? Isn't that what this time of year is all about?

On Thursday I worked in the morning, and when to my mom's for dinner. Don't worry, I had it easy. I didn't have to get the kids and myself all cleaned up and ready to go like Jenn did. I think that is harder than getting up early and going to work on a holiday, don't you? Besides, we were giving a free breakfast. We had semi-warm pancakes, runny eggs with cheese, ham, some funky looking sausages, and more pastries than I could possible name. I stuck with the pancakes, ham, and some fruit. I don't do buffet style eggs. Honestly, have you ever had buffet style eggs that were the proper consistency? I know it's hard to do due to the sheer quantity, not to mention that they sit in a pan over a flame to keep them warm. I don't blame the people making them, I blame my low gross-out factor with eggs. I can't even watch the part in Rocky where he drinks the raw eggs without getting queasy.

After work I met up with the family at my mom's house. There was a lot of screaming and one broken glass. The screaming was my daughter running around playing and the broken glass was from me knocking off the counter when I was making the mashed potatoes. That's my job, I'm the potato masher for all family functions. We had a lot of food and way too much dessert. We enough desserts so that each person could have his own cake or pie -- with ice cream on top. I don't know if it is possible to actually feel yourself gaining weight, but I swear I could. After dinner the kids forced everybody to watch Wall-E. I didn't complain, I like that movie. I'm just a kid at heart.

Friday I spent the the day at home with the kids while Jenn went out to fight the crazy shoppers on Black Friday. She left around 4:30 am, came back around lunchtime and then went back out until 3:30 pm or so. Crazy, I know. I helped my son with his homework, fed them, cleaned my self up and played some video games with my son while my daughter cut my hair. Well, no scissors were involved, lately she likes to pretend she is cutting my hair. It's funny, she gets towels to cover me, she'll use some of her little clips to hold some hair in place, and then spray some of her de-tangling spray in my hair as she brushes it. Yesterday she added the twist of me giving her money when she was done. She made me give her real money and promised to give it back. I think she'd hoping eventually I'll forget.

That evening we went to my mom's again. This time my cousin was coming into town. I don't think we've seen him in over five years. We didn't get a whole lot of time to talk, but it was good to see him and his family. Speaking of his family, his son has a Nintendo DS and now my son wants one. So far though, he is content to wait until he is the same age, which isn't for five more years. I have a feeling he may ask again before that.

While I was there my mom ran out of cigarettes, so she asked me to by some for her. I don't mind running errands for my mom, but she smokes the girliest (is that a word) cigarettes out there. She smokes Misty Light 120's. I mean, come on. How do I go in and ask for those and not feel like a big dork? Jenn asked if I'd rather buy tampons than those cigarettes. Of course I would! There is no way the tampons are for me, but the cigarettes are a totally different story. But, I went and got them. I think I did a convincing job of making it seem like they weren't for me. Luckily there are a few different flavors (is that what you call it?) , so when the lady working the counter asked which color box I wanted I was able to ask which one was the plain kind. I think that made it clear they weren't for me. I actually asked my mom to write me letter so I could have just given it to the lady. Just like when she sent me for cigarettes when I was 10 years old.

Tonight we go to my dad's for our holiday party, after I finish work that is. We are hoping our daughter can go; she woke up at 4:30 am coughing and a mild fever. She really wants to go, but I want to make sure she can go back to school on Monday.

So that is our weekend so far. I can't believe it is only Saturday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that anyone actually comes here! (Among other things).

Have a safe and happy time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Weekend Assignment #243: Breakfast time

This week's assignment is about breakfast foods. Well actually, we are supposed to talk about what we like for breakfast. That would make more sense, now wouldn't it?

Karen writes:

Weekend Assignment #243: The founder of the Weekend Assignment, John Scalzi, is infamously fond of bacon, not necessarily attached to a cat. Setting aside the whole cat thing, what do you like to eat for breakfast?

To be honest, I'm not much of a breakfast person. Mostly because I am too lazy to get up early enough to eat breakfast. If I am working, I get up with just enough time to shower, shave (maybe), get some lunch together (again, maybe), and head out the door. Any extra time that I think I might have in the morning is spent in bed. I work out calculations in my head as the alarm goes off to see how many times I can hit snooze before I definitely have to get up. I swear this is why every alarm has a different snooze time. They are trying to force you to wake up in order to count by mulitples of seven, eight, or nine. (end tangent)
Even ask a kid I didn't have time for breakfast in the morning. I started off okay; when I was in grade school I remember eating cereal along with some orange Hi-C. By the time I got to high school breakfast consisted of two chocolate fudge Pop-Tarts. Totally nutritious!
I'm not saying I don't like breakfast food, but I am far from a huge fan. I'll make pancakes on my days off sometimes. I'm talking about the kind where you add water, mix, and throw it on the griddle. It's too hard working with the kind where you need eggs. Come on! Speaking of eggs, I will eat a fried egg on occasion. But for main breakfast foods, that is about it. I do really like hash browns and, yes, bacon. I could have a breakfast of just hash browns and bacon everyday. If I had someone to make it for me. Would you send me cards in the hospital after I have my quintuple by-pass surgery? Because it certainly wouldn't be long before my heart stopped after eating that everyday.
Speaking of breakfast (not like this whole post isn't about it, or anything), I have to work tomorrow (Thanksgiving) and they are giving us breakfast. I'm not sure how they are going to do this. As you all know, breakfast food does not travel well. How good are pancakes going to be after cooling off? My stomach hurts just thinking about it. I might just have muffins to keep me satisfied until I can get my hands on some turkey. 
 Extra Credit: How often do you actually eat breakfast.
Not very often. I know; it's the most important meal of the day. Blah, blah, blah. I'm just too darn tired.
What do you like to eat for breakfast? Or do you even eat it?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: Ten things I want for Christmas

I haven't done a Ten on Tuesday in a while but this one is all about things I want; how can I pass it up? By the way, this is a list of wants, not things I actually expect to get.

1. A laptop. I've said this many times here. I'm really liking the new MacBooks.

2. A back-up hard drive. The 80GB hard drive on our desktop that I thought we'd never fill is close to capacity. Plus, I want to back up pictures and music.

3. An iPhone. I going to need a new cell phone soon anyway.

4. The two most recent Futurama movies on DVD. I have the first one and I need to catch up.

5. A Gorillapod tripod for our camera. Sometimes I need some stability. I like to try to shoot cool shots of the moon. It's very hard to do when you are shaking because it is 27 degrees outside.

6.  A government bailout. What? Why can't I get one?

7. A new TV for our bedroom. What good is a TV in the bedroom if the remote won't shut it off anymore?

8. New siding for the house. Can Santa fit that down the chimney?

9. While he's at it, we could use a few new windows, too.

10. Oh,  and a new back door.

There is my ridiculous list. Want do you want?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Look what I found!

I found it at Walgreen's. You can save the six bucks shipping. You're welcome!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why is that lady so mean to her husband?

Before any of you get worried, this is about a commercial. You like when I talk about commercials, right? Good.

This is a newer product, but it goes along the same lines as others have before it. It's a hearing aid, though they call it a sound amplifier, that looks kind of like an MP3 player. Not unlike the Whisper 2000 of yesteryear that looked like a Walkman. (Do you know what the Whisper 2000 is? I will reference that during a conversation at times and people look at me like I'm loony. That's okay, I'm used to it). This one is called, Listen Up.

First of all, go to the site and watch the commercial that is there. That is what I really want to talk about. I know there are a lot of people with hearing problems that don't want to admit they need a hearing aid and this product may be right for them.

Done? First things first. Why is that lady so mean to her husband? Did you see how she yelled at him to turn the TV down when she was reading? Then she yells at him when she is on the phone. Is that necessary? She's on a cordless phone; go to another room. Jeez, they guy is probably hard of hearing from the job he worked for 40 years so you can have a nice retirement. Cut him some slack. My dad has trouble hearing and nobody yells at him. Heck this guy doesn't need a sound amplifier; he needs to dump his wife.

But wait? It's not only for those hard of hearing. They basically tell you to listen in on other people's conversations. Did you see the lady checking her mail and listening to the younger ladies walking the dog? Is this for the paranoid people on the block so they can hear all the people talking about them?

The best part is at the gym. The guy has this thing on his ears so he can hear the young babes talk about him. "Yeah, the ladies dig me." Who would wear that while working out? I wear headphones so I forget that I am exercising. I don't want my breathing amplified in my ears. Let alone the heavy breathing of everybody else there.

It's also good when you go to the playground with your kids. You can sit, talk with your friends, and totally ignore the kids because you will hear the exact instant that your kid's arm snaps when he falls of the monkey bars. What a miracle! 

Oh yeah, it's good for hunters too. You know, so you can hear Bambi walking around, I guess. I would imagine what you are really going to hear is the twigs and leaves cracking under your feet. Then, when you fire the guy and forget the headphones are on, you are really going to need a hearing aid. Good idea!

Anyway, order now! It's only $14.99, plus shipping and handling that is nearly 50% of the cost of the product. Wait! This thing is small, and lightweight, yet it cost 6 bucks to ship? Do they personnaly drive it to your door? What a rip-off!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My eyeballs are frozen

I just came back from walking Quincy around the block. Let me tell you, it's cold. And windy. Of course, being Chicago and November, it's not a big surprise, but I've been spoiled. See, we didn't have a dog last winter. Cosmo died in September and he didn't get many walks anyway. He would rather lay in the house where it was warm and his treats could be easily located.

With Quincy being a puppy, a 65 pound puupy at that, we need to make sure he gets excercise. So I bundled up and braved the elements to let him see the sights, and smells, of the neighborhood. Well, not the whole neighborhood, it was too cold for that. I couldn't see most of the way since the face mask I was wearing caused my glasses to fig up, so I was glad we didn't get run over.

You know what's funny? I had a point to this, but I lost it. I'm watching TV at the same time (Futurama) and I lost my train of thought. Let's just sum this up by saying winter is coming and I'm not happy about it. Anyone want to come and walk Quincy until March?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weekend Assignment #242 : Local TV

We get to talk about something I always enjoy talking about -- TV. Specifically, Karen wants us to write about local TV from where we grew up.

Weekend Assignment #242: Local television used to feature lots of kids' shows and late night movies, often featuring a colorful local host. Share a memory of local tv of yesteryear.

There are three shows that I can remember that where from the Chicago area, but they may have been brodcast elswhere as well. I don't know for sure, when I was a kid I assumed everyone in the whole world watched the same shows I did anyway. I really had no clue a show could be seen in my area, and only my area.

We have a local channel, WGN-TV, that is also a superstation. I don't know how long it was that way, but I remember being amazed at seeing the local news guys on the TV in Michigan when I was visiting once. I did know that the news was local by the way. There are three shows that I remember from the channel, let me know if you have seen them in other areas. We had Bozo's Circus, The Ray Rayner Show, and Garfield Goose.

Now, if you follow the links to these shows, and realize that I'm still a hair under 40, you'll understand why I don't remember much about these shows. After I looked for the link to Bozo, I see it was syndicated, so some of you probably have seen it. Well, probably everybody. All I remember about Bozo was the bucket toss, where if you got it in bucket number six you won a new Schwinn bike, and that everbody said you had to get on the waiting list for tickets before you even think of having kids. Like maybe put them on your wedding registy.

Ray Rayner I remember even less about. I know he had a big floppy puppet dog and would sing about getting mail. I think that's what he did. I can see him sitting by the mailbox with the dog, maybe he didn't sing. I don't know.

I remember that Garfield Goose kind of freaked me out. It was a puppet, obviously, but he didn't talk. He would open and close his mouth, trying to say something, but all you could her was the mouth slapping shut. It was a little unerving. I had never seen a puppet that couldn't talk up until that point. Why? Why couldn't he talk? What was wrong with him? And those beady, black eyes. I know he could see me. I knew that he knew that I was freaked out about his inability to talk. He was mocking me. Oh yes, yes he was.


Those where the three kids shows I can remember that were based in my area. There is one particular character that is still around. He would host some scary movies, add some of his own bits of humor, and just be a little quirky overall. The show was called The Son of Svengoolie. Again, when I looked it up I saw it was syndicated for a short time, but it was based here. It was on a UHF channel that Fox bought years ago and now the newer incarnation is on a different local channel; WCIU channel 26, The U. Kind of a dumb name, I know. The guy playing Svengoolie, Rich Koz, also hosts a program where they run blocks of The Three Stooges. I don't watch it though, my wife can't stand them. Actually, I don't know any woman who likes The Stooges. Why is that?

Extra Credit:You've been asked to produce a local tv show. Commercial considerations aside, what kind of show would it be?

Some kind of interactive thing maybe. Show some ridiculously stupid shows that have been cancelled and people can IM or use Twitter to make fun of the show.Yes, I know that is like MST3K, but that is all I have right now.

How aout you? (Yes, you). Any favorite shows from your area?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Random weekend bits

Let me start by saying I forgot to put my deodorant on this morning. I hope you don't notice. Jenn picked up some for me the other day and since I used it in the downstairs basement that next morning, and left it there, I forgot to put it on. I think everyone here at work is at a safe distance.

I think I may have alluded to this before, but we are not the most organized family. Far from it. I'm sure 97.8 percent of it is my fault, but I think Jenn would agree that she isn't perfect either. As an example, here is something that happened this weekend. I came home from work around 2:30 pm to an empty house. Jenn and the kids were at her parents doing some shopping for a birthday party we had Sunday. After I took off my coat  and played with Quincy for a few minutes, I noticed the light was flashing on the phone indicating we had a voice mail. I looked at the caller ID first, just to make sure I really wanted to listen to it, and noticed it was the kid's school. I thought it was strange, being a Saturday and all, so I played back the message. It was the school letting us know our Market Day food we ordered was there and ready for us to pick up. They would be there until 1:30pm. I could almost hear her saying, "I really want to go home losers, where the hell are you?" Needless to say we didn't get the food. Maybe we aren't the only ones to do this, but we both felt a little dumb. I did have a little fun with it though. I called Jenn's cell and said, "I have two words for you: Market Day." I believe she said a bad word. I knew she'd remember as soon as I said that.  Yes, there was a reminder in the school papers that were sent home. That probably ended up in the same place that our son's information on his presentation he is supposed to do this week did. Yes, we are great parents.

I had to work at 6 am both days this weekend. I am not a morning person to begin with, having me start at 6 am is just plain mean. Yesterday, as Jenn was getting ready for the birthday party, I was laying on the bed talking to her and I fell asleep a few times. You know, the human body isn't made to get up and work for two hours before sunrise. I don't care what you say. Well, maybe it is only my body. I need a shift that starts at 9 am and ends around lunchtime. Are there any jobs like that? (I'm fully expecting my sister to chime in here. She's in retail, so basically she is going to be working from now until Christmas. I don't know how she does it).

Oh, we got a little snow here yesterday. It wasn't much, and it melted by morning, but when I was walking Quincy most front yards and a nice white layer. I was going to take a picture but, since it was at night, I thought the flash would reflect too much. I know you are sad. Don't worry, I'll take some snowy pictures this year.

Was your weekend as riveting as mine?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rant of the day (Screw you Best Buy!)

Remember how I said I bought a new camera a short time ago? Well, as I expected, it went on sale for 30 dollars less than I paid for it. So today I went, with my receipt in hand, to Best Buy to get my credit back since it was less than 30 days since I bought it. I went into the store, walked over to the camera department to make sure it was still in sale, then went to customer service to get a credit. As the girl took my receipt, she looked at the person next to her and said something I couldn't hear. Then she said to me, "For digital cameras it is 14 days." What? I mentioned how the person who sold it to me said 30 days, but she just reiterated that it was 14 days. I was a tad pissed. Especially since it was 17 days. But really, isn't it stupid? Why only 14 days for cameras? I didn't yell at the girl since she doesn't make the rules, but I'm ticked off. Best Buy is officially on my list. Jerks.

Sorry to vent here. I had to do it somewhere. Besides, what good is a blog if you can't complain about stuff.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Weekend Assignment #241: Shh! I'm trying to listen

I'm hoping the internet connection doesn't go down as I'm writing this. We've been having intermittent problems today. I'm not sure if it's the modem or one of the cables, but it is getting irritating.

Anyway, on to the assignment.

Karen wants us to spy on people. Okay, not really. She's wondering if we have overheard any interesting stories, or anything we happen to hear as we are out-and-about.

Weekend Assignment #241: It's not uncommon to overhear snippets of strangers' conversations in grocery stores, restaurants, at the gym, at the park and in other places people gather. We may even have conversations with strangers ourselves, especially when sharing in some common experience. Tell us what you've been hearing - or, if you prefer, some interesting bit of eavesdropping you recall from some time ago.

I overhear most things at work. As with most jobs, we are in cubes. Ours are very close together and the walls are low. This allows us to talk to each other when we need to, which at my job is often, but it also allows us to hear many things. Sometimes I think people forget about that.

I'm not going to go in specifics, but most of the things I hear are about work. Sometimes I get lucky and hear the director of our department talking to the person across from me and I get some insight on changes coming up. Then, of course, I can pass it along and it spreads through the office. It is very rare that I get surprised by some change coming to our department.

Also, I can hear about who is out sick, for what reason, and how long. Who's haven a baby, or when said person is coming back, if at all. Or who has gotten written up, or worse, recently. It's fun; as long as it is not about me.

One unfortunate side effect of all this eavesdropping is the amount of rumor and speculation that isn't true. It's all fun and games when you hear juicy stories, it's another thing when people start saying they think people are going to get laid off. All that does is create more stress. Who needs that? After 10 years of working at my present job I've learned who the people are who like to talk like they know about what is happening, when in reality they just like to hear themselves talk.

It's not all rumor and juicy stories, a lot of times a person next to you is talking about something, a TV show or something, and you jump in to add something. That is okay in our little world at work. People do it all the time. It's almost encouraged. Most of the conversations I get in at work were not started by me, but I jump in. Especially if there is some kind of pop culture reference I could add to the conversation. You know, to make it more fun!

Extra Credit: Do you ever eavesdrop on purpose?

I think I've made it quite obvious. Yes.

How about you? What do you hear? Is it on purpose?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The sky is on fire

sunrise on the way to work
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
As I was leaving for work the other day I noticed how cool the sky looked. I grabbed my camera on the way out the door, thinking I could take a picture when I got to work. This one I snapped through the windshield on the way to work. Yes, I was stopped. See the red light? It's a little blurry since I was in the car, but I think that makes the picture better. Well, to me at least. I'm not a pro by any means.

On another weather note; I'm watching my college football team on TV. It is very foggy there, it makes me feel like there is something wrong with my eyes as I'm watching. I keep wanting to rub them to clear my vision. Yes, I'm a dork.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Originally uploaded by Mike F.
Here you see the bottle of Amoxicillin and syringe that we got from the pharmacy. See how tiny that thing us next to the bottle? Also, it's hard to tell in the picture, but the syringe won't fit into the bottle. So, with these two things combined, it is impossible to reach the bottom quarter of the bottle. I know. You're telling me to tilt the bottle. I tried. It doesn't work. Luckily the people at Target pharmacy had given us a big syringe a while back, and it works much better. Also at Target, they give you a bottle that has a small opening for the syringe and you turn it upside down so you can get all the medicine out of there. Too bad they weren't open the other night. They need to be 24 hours.

I know I keep calling it a syringe and it probably has another name. It's not used with a needle; it's just a measuring device. Anybody know the proper term?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Question from the back seat

"Are you talking to the cars again Dad?"

In my defense, the guy was an idiot, and I didn't swear. Really!

What do you do with the pumpkins after Halloween

I think this squirrel has the perfect idea:

I saw this on Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy page. With his audience size I'm sure you've seen it. If not, enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Attack of the giant tonsils!

Friday evening I went to walk the dog after dinner. The kids were watching TV with Jenn and everybody was fine. When I came back from the walk, Jenn motioned for me to come look at our daughter who was sitting in her lap. She was mouthing the words, "Look at her neck." So I did. It looked like a large walnut was shoved into her neck. It certainly wasn't there when I picked her up from school, and I don't think it was there when we were eating dinner. She didn't have a fever, she wasn't in pain, and she said she felt fine.

As we went up to take them to bed Jenn and I decided that she needs to talk to the doctor in the morning. We thought since she didn't have a fever, and she wasn't complaining of any pain, we could wait until the morning. As daughter was getting her pajamas on, I got another look at her neck. I think the way the light hit it, the lump was much more noticeable, or it was growing. I told her to come over so I could get a closer look, then I told her to open her mouth. Holy cats! Her tonsils were so big they were almost touching! It was gross, and kind of scary. I told Jenn to look at them and she reacted pretty much the same way. We talked for a minute and decided to take her to the ER to get checked out. I was worried they would get bigger and she wouldn't be able to breathe.

After a quick strep test and check by the doctor and nurse, we were on our way to go pick up some medicine for her. Good thing this was on a Friday. I had to work Saturday, but Jenn was off, so we wouldn't have to rearrange our work schedules. Both of us were a little worried the hospital was going to say that the tonsils had to come out. That would have been fun for everybody. Instead she is on some strong antibiotics and, supposedly, resting. The swelling has gone down, but things still aren't quite normal. Based on the size her tonsils were, it may be several years for them to get back to normal.

Before all this happened, Jenn had bought some tickets for Madagascar 2 for a Saturday showing. Normally it's a great idea for people to buy tickets early for popular movies, for us, this kind of stuff happens. We never win.  Since she wasn't feeling bad, we went anyway. She was getting tired at the end and I had to hold her in my lap for the last half of the movies, but she made it through the movie. And ate a gigantic soft pretzel. Seriously, I don't know how she ate the whole thing. It was bigger than her head! Actually, with the way her tonsils looked, I don't know how she could eat anything at all.

That was our excitement for the weekend. Aren't weekends supposed to be relaxing?

Friday, November 7, 2008

It was good while it lasted

I think Fall is officially here now. We've had a few nice days here in Chicago. I think we hit 70 degrees three days in a row. Not bad for the beginning of November. Today is a different story; the thermometer says 40 degrees, it's cloudy, drizzly (yeah, it's a word), and there is a stiff breeze that chills you to the bone. I don't like it. It means winter is coming up; time for the snow blowers to come out and get warmed up. Time to find the gloves and hat that seem to get lost during the summer. Time to stock up on hot chocolate.

Speaking of winter, I heard a Christmas song played over the speakers at Target. It seems too early for that. Maybe I don't want to hear it because it lets me know that cold weather is coming up.Maybe it was because it was a Celine Dion song. What we need is some Thanksgiving songs. Then the stores would have to play that now and not start the Christmas music up until Black Friday. What do you think? We could have songs about shooting a turkey, or about the Pilgrims, or about, um, hmmm...I think I see the problem. There isn't much to work with for Thanksgiving. I think we need something like Santa Claus, but for Thanksgiving. Then we could write songs about the Thanksgiving mascot. Would it be a turkey? No, not a good idea since we are eating turkey. How about a chicken? It could be laughing at the turkey since Thanksgiving is the only meal that a chicken is safe from being eaten. Don't get me started on turducken; that's just wrong. Any ideas on a Thanksgiving mascot, or song? 

Wow, I was kind of rambling there. Sorry.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Weekend Assignment #240: Scary Stuff

Since Halloween has just passed, Karen wanted us to write about a time when we were scared in a fun or spooky way.

Weekend Assignment #240: Halloween is largely about fear, defanged and turned into fun. Have you ever been genuinely scared in a spooky or fun-scary situation?

I've been thinking about this since I read the post last Friday and I've been having trouble thinking of a time when this has happened to me. Not because I'm some super macho guy; I just try to avoid those situations. I don't go to amusement parks because I hate all the rides. I don't like heights, so why spend 50+ dollars to walk around in a sea of sweaty people? I can do that anywhere.

Now, I was scared of the dark as a kid. I remember when my mom used to make me get something out of the basement I would run as fast as I could. I didn't want anything to catch me. I think that is how I became a good runner later in track. Running from monsters everyday gets you into good shape.

I will say that I scare easily if you wake me sometimes. Ask my wife, I've freaked out on here many times. I know one time I freaked out so bad when my brother woke me that I scared him. I don't think he woke me in the middle of the night after that. I guess that is a funny situation. I guess I must have weird dreams a lot, so when you wake me I flip out. Maybe I should stop reading creepy books and watching freaky movies.

Oh, I remember a time at a haunted house that got a little scared. I was in junior high at the time, and the haunted house was put on by the local high school. It was relatively elaborate, but nothing really out of the ordinary as haunted houses go. You had the guy who chased you with a chainsaw, a witch telling you where to go, you know, the usual stuff. I remember going into one part with my friend, it seemed to be just a room with a strobe light and a grim reaper-type statue standing in the corner. On the far end of the room was a hole you had to climb through to get to the next part of the haunted house. We walked in, surveyed the scene and took our time walking to the hole in the wall. When we were about halfway through the room, I decided to look behind me. The reaper was now right behind me, and because of the strobe, he seemed to be floating closer. I yelled at my friend to go and I pushed him. Needless to say he didn't have time to duck and his head smacked the top edge of the hole. He recovered well and we made it out of there without the reaper getting his bony hands on us. Phew!

Extra Credit: Do you still dress up for Halloween?

No. I haven't in a long time. I did dress as Data once when I worked at Applebee's. It wasn't much of a costume, I didn't use face paint or anything. That was about 10 years ago. I'm sure I will sometime, for a party or something.
When was the last time you were scared by something?

Creepy Christmas candy: take one

I saw this today at the store. It may be hard to tell by the picture, so I'll explain a little bit about it. It's a Reindeer that sticks out is tongue. Said tongue is a sucker that you eat, or lick. So, in a sense, you are licking a reindeer's tongue. Lovely. And gross. Who wants to lick a reindeer's tongue? (Insert your own joke here).

Just wanted to share. You're Welcome.


I'm getting ready to go to the kid's school to help out on the first grade field trip. I'm a little nervous. What if the kids don't listen. Do I yell?Do I just tell the teacher? Will I get in trouble if I yell? What about bathroom breaks? Yeah, this is going to be nerve-racking. I'll check in when I make it home. Keep me in your thoughts!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

With apologies to Queen

squirrel silhouette
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
I see a little silhouetto of a squirrel.

Speaking of Queen, we saw some high school kids dressed as Wayne and Garth for Halloween. It was depressing to realize they were probably not alive when that movie came out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted!

I voted
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
Did you? That's okay, you have plenty of time. No, I did not vote for Sam Adams as this picture my suggest.

I noticed something on the ballot, in our area there are a lot of uncontested races for judge. I should have been a circuit court judge.

Anybody want my free coffee? I don't drink it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Wrap-up

Did everyone have a nice Halloween? Wait, is Halloween supposed to be nice? How about; did everyone have a fun Halloween? Yeah, that sounds better.

For us here in the Chicago area, you couldn't ask for better weather. Well, sure you could, but you wouldn't get it. It was near 70 degrees, mostly sunny, and best of all, it was still light out until about 6:20pm or so. Thanks Congress!

The kids had been excited about it all week. Talking about all the candy they are going to get, and our son was just happy he was going to get to wear his Batman costume. (Hee, I just typed 'Batmoan'. That's kind of funny!) Our son was sick over the previous weekend and missed school on Monday and Tuesday with strep throat so he was still a little on the tired and worn-out side for most of the week. He was doing pretty good by Friday, but I could tell he wasn't 100%. Mostly due to the fact that he wasn't running from house to house. Last year we couldn't keep up with him, this year he did pretty well staying close to us. After the first block both kids were already showing signs of fatigue. Our daughter was getting pouty and wanted us to carry her bag. Son was doing okay for a while, but his bag started getting too heavy not that much later. I tried to explain to them that they need to enjoy this Halloween. They are never going to see weather like this again, probably. All I remember is getting rained on, being cold, but getting lots of candy.

Want to see our awesome decorations we did this year?

This was one of our first 'big' Halloween decoration purchases ever. You can't tell here, but the zombie is coming out of a mound where an old tree used to be. So it kind of looks like a burial place. Do you notice any thing wrong with is arm? Let me know if you do.

Here is a creepy skull:

So scary, I know. It was just off to the left of the zombie. Since it is dark you can't see the giant spider and web that is just to the left of the skull. There are also some paper ghosts hanging from a tree. We are out of control, I know.
Here is a pumpkin that a neighbor had. I thought it looked nice for a non-carved pumpkin:

If it isn't obvious already, we got a new camera. I took a lot of pictures that I normally wouldn't take. I like new toys.
Here is my favorite picture I've ever taken. No offense family members. I just think it turned out really good. For me that is.

I just wish the fence wasn't in the picture. Though, I think it adds something to it. I don't know what that would be exactly.

So, yes, we have lots of candy. Actually, I brought a big bag to work on Saturday in order to reduce the potential of a serious candy coma. By me that is. The kids don't really eat it. Thanks kids!
How was your weekend?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More fun with Google Trends

I'm a little bored at work right now so I decided to check out Google Trends to see what people are looking for today. Not surprisingly, 80% of the searches are about the time. It does seem funny though, it's really not that hard to change the time. We go back exactly an hour. So take you clock, if it says 8:09 change it to 7:09. See how easy that was? I know some areas don't change their clocks, and if you are new to the area, I can understand the confusion. For the rest of you, there is no excuse. Besides, the computer you are using to search for the time should tell you what time it is. Not to mention that 99% of you have cell phones that change the time automatically, too.

Also, what is 'duck commander?'

Did you enjoy your extra hour of sleep?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

If you are a geek you've probably already seen this

I saw this today on SF Signal and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Turns out the guy in the video is just lip-synching to a song by moosebutter. I learned that by reading the comments on SF Signal. See, you can learn all kinds of good stuff on the internet. I wish we had this when I was in grade school. We had an Apple II that was gigantic, had giant external floppy drives, and less memory than my bathroom scale.  And we liked it! We played Lemonade Stand for hours!  (By we, I mean my grade school. My family didn't own one.)

Anyway, enjoy the video!