Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bueller. Bueller.

Yesterday I hosted a conference call.  There were around fifteen people on the call and three in the room with me.   I covered the information that needed to be communicated to the team, we had a bit of friendly banter, and then I ended the call forty five minutes after it started.

One of the ladies in the room with me stretched and made a comment about how she needed to go walk around the building and get herself going again.  I agreed. I just spent an hour sitting and talking on the phone.

As the four of us walked into the hallway, I asked another woman in the group what she thought of the conference call.  She stopped and looked at me.  Then she said something about her daddy being a preacher and she knows that kind of voice.

I wasn't really sure what she meant.  Some preachers are super exciting and they jump around screaming "AMEN!"  I had a feeling that wasn't the kind of preacher she was comparing to me.  She said my voice is even. That the tone is steady.

Oh! You mean monotone.

We talked for another minute.  I had asked her for honest feedback and she was actually giving that to me.  It's exactly what I wanted and exactly what most people won't do.   In the end of our short conversation she told me that the information helps her do her job better but I had a steady tone like her preacher.

The next conference call I give is going to have an intermission with required jumping jacks. I'm also going to throw in a few AMEN to keep everyone on their toes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Do You Love Me?

She said no.  But before we get to that, you have to hear what lead up to it.

We've recently had our fifteenth anniversary of being happily married.  Our actual anniversary occurred while we were on vacation so our day out to celebrate had to be delayed.  When we got back from vacation, Cari started to plan something special.  She wanted to surprise me so she contacted my friend, Tom (Random Connections), and started looking for options on going for a kayak trip.

I don't know that this was Cari's most favorite thing to do, but she knows I've been wanting to get out on one for a while and she decided this would be our trip.  Based on Tom's suggestion, she planned a trip to the U.S. National Whitewater Center near Charlotte, NC.
This past weekend we took that trip, and man, that place is amazing.  You can try out some whitewater rafting, kayak on smooth water or white water, mountain bike, hike, climb, zip line, eat, and shop at this facility.  The rafting course is a man-made river that is really impressive.

 Apparently, the US National Whitewater Center also features runaway bikes that will run you over on the trails.  Be careful!

We spent our morning quietly exploring a creek on kayaks.  It was really without incident until Cari started to splash me with her paddle.  To get my revenge, I brought the nose of my boat up to the back of hers and turned her toward the shore and into a few trees.   We were already having a great day.

After lunch we stood on the edge of the rafting area and watched people get dumped out of their boats in the rapids.  We had decided before coming that we weren't going to try the rafting on this visit, but after watching, we'll add this to our next trip.
Finally it was time for the ropes course.  Cari was not excited about this.  She was really only doing this for me. Going 40-60 ft above the forest floor and balancing on a steel cable was not on her "must do" list.  In fact, it wasn't even on her "willing to do" list.  But she did it!  And she did fantastic at it.   Nobody had to scoop her body off the ground, nobody had to come rescue her, and she even managed a fake smile.

About midway through our 30 minute ropes adventure I asked Cari, "Do you love me?"  She shot a quick, nervous look at me and replied, "No.  Not right now."

To finish the rope course, you take a 250 ft zip line back to the starting platform.  Once we were safely standing on that platform, I was able to get her to love me again.

I'm so fortunate to have a wife that loves to share adventures with me.  Every day we are creating more memories together.  I think our memories for our next anniversary trip might include a massage and a pedicure after what she went through this year.

I love you Cari! Forever.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review?

I'm not sure how to write a book review.  Heck, I honestly don't read that many books.  But I just finished reading one.  A good one.  The book is called Resolute.

It's about the explorers in the early to mid 1800's that were looking for the Northwest passage through the arctic.  Most were from England, but some American sailors play a role in this story as well.  If you read this book you will learn about deadly situations that men will put themselves in to gain glory, not only for themselves, but also for their country.  These men were heading into uncharted waters in deadly conditions. Each expedition was creating hundreds and thousands of miles of coastline maps. 

There are a lot of characters involved in this story and the author does a great job of keeping everyone straight and telling you the importance of each one.  

Yes, this book is historical and tells the story of historical events, but it's also a story of adventure. At every page I wondered if a particular expedition could be saved.  How could they get themselves out of this one?  Who would be the first to discover the Northwest passage?  

This blog isn't a book review, I'm still not sure how to do that.  This is more of a recommendation.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cliff Jumping!

A day at the lake and look at the kids climbing this rock.  I'm shocked Meredith did this.  She is so scared of heights she'll hardly let me pick her up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rebels in Springfield

During our vacation to the midwest we spent a day in Springfield, Il.  Driving into downtown we drove near the state capital building which is truely an impressive structure.  On our way to the Lincoln museum we drove in front of the old state capital building.  The old capital had some impressive stone columns and was situated in the middle of town. Abraham Lincoln served as a legislator in the old capital building.
We stopped at the restored Union rail station.

Inside they had photos of the station in use with trains getting loaded up where a road currently runs in front of the building.  It's really interesting to see the same building in use over the period of so many drastic changes.  As cars became more common, the need for the rail was less until they were finally removed.

The Lincoln Presidential Museum is across the street from the old rail station and if you ever get a chance to visit, you must do it.  This museum has some really awesome exhibits.  As you go through the museum you see a lot of artifacts from throughout Lincoln's life and, of course, a large collection from his time as President. One of the things that I hadn't considered before was how Lincoln was viewed during his presidency.  There was one exhibit that featured all the political cartoons against him and some articles that were critical to his decisions.  It seems like now days he is a legend and an American hero and I often forget that, even then, there were politics at play.

Before you leave the museum, you have to stop at the museum shop.  Can you visit any place as a tourist without stopping at a shop anymore?  Anyway, at the shop is where Randy found a civil war style hat.  He scooped up the gray rebel hat and headed to the cashier.  He'd wear it the rest of the day.
After we left the museum we crossed another street and went into the Lincoln Presidential Library.  The main hallway of the library had another great exhibit.  Both buildings were really interesting and I realized that although you probably learn more about Lincoln in school than any other president, there is so much more to see and learn when you are talking about Abraham Lincoln.

Two more stops were left on our tour in Springfield.  First was his home in Springfield.  A park ranger takes you on a free tour through the house where you find that Mrs. Lincoln had a rather odd decorating style.  You'll have to go see for yourself.  Here's a photo of the house.  I don't believe the lift in the yard was original to the home.
You also get to see the mirror where Lincoln shaved every morning.  He didn't have a beard until he went to Washington.
Before leaving town we went to Lincoln's tomb.  Randy decided to be respectful and take off his rebel hat for this visit.  The monument that you see on the outside is fitting for such an American icon.
It's inside the tomb that got my attention.  Lined with granite and marble, you walk down a curved hallway to the spot where Lincoln is buried.  Inside are statues and plaques with quotes.  Down in the quiet room at Lincoln's burial site I took a moment and considered the things I had learned that day.
Leaving town around five wasn't too bad.  Just hook up on Walnut St. and head toward the main road.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Photos from driving

I told you about how exciting it was to watch corn grow as we drove across the midwest.  Along the way I tried to find some interesting things.

Here's a few photos from our drive:

Does that say $3.039?  Yes it does!

Look how excited he is to be in Kentucky.
 This tiny patch of grass was the dog walk area.  All the dogs gathered at the sign post.
 Look how happy everyone is.  Get back in the car!
 In Indiana, they give you poking sticks!
 Find a tree at this rest area.
 This machine was scary.
 Oh! Someone built something in their corn field!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Our drive to the midwest started with an exciting start in the mountains.  An hour from home our van, fully loaded with everything including the kitchen sink, started sputtering.  Finally, on a long uphill it just cut out.  I was able to get it restarted and we started back up the hill.  Sputter - die.  I hit the next exit and the car ran great on flat ground. We decided to head home and take the other car on vacation.  This wasn't in the plans.

Heading back down the mountains, the van ran great.  We spent the night at home and decided to leave early the next morning.  Cari played a game of Tetris and fit all of our luggage into the smaller space.

The next day we started out toward Illinois without incident.  After we were about half way there the scenery changed.  Gone were the mountains, gone were the falling rock, gone were the trees.  We were now in CORN country.

Mile after mile we watched corn grow.  Then, suddenly, something exciting happened.  A field of soy beans!  Wait! What's that up ahead?  Oh, it's more corn.

We finally became delirious from corn and we started voting on our favorite corn fields.  "OH! Look at that corn.  It's at least 6" taller than what we saw earlier!"

As we neared our destination we found something different to look at.  On the horizon we saw the spinning towers of a large wind farm.  The giant white towers were gently spinning their blades in the distant.  

Maybe they were helping the corn grow.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Boy Watches Too Much TV

One of the horrors of traveling across the country in a car with three children is the constant begging for McDonald's.  Breakfast - McDonald's.  Lunch - McDonald's. Snack - McDonald's. Dinner - McDonald's.

Part of the problem is that McDonald's is at EVERY exit along the interstate.

As I started to refuse McDonald's at our various breaks, my son, who watches too much TV, started suggesting other places to eat.  "I want good mood food", he'd say.  Having not watched enough commercials, I didn't know what he was talking about. I thought all food worthy of eating was good mood food, but he was after something specific.

He was wanting me to go to Arby's.  He did have a few other suggestions, only mentioned by their slogan, but in the end I couldn't pass up something that claimed to help my mood.  After three consecutive meals from McDonald's I think any new option would have helped my mood.

What I found odd was that when it comes to fast food slogans, he knew them all.  Which I found really odd because we have a DVR and he ALWAYS seems to skip the commercials.  Try and figure that one out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Are you 12?

One of the favorite place names on vacation was Kickapoo.  There's a town, a creek (two of them actually), streets, etc. . . everywhere we went on vacation someone was Kickapoo.

Every time we saw it Randy would laugh or joke about it. Most times this I would start laughing too.  Finally Cari looks over at me in the car and asks, "Are you twelve?"

Randy pipes up from the back seat, "Actually, I am!"

Me?  I'm not twelve but sometimes I laugh like one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Upgrade Your Mowing

Everyone is always looking for the easy way out.  If there is an easier way to do something, let's hurry up and find it. . . after lunch.

So today, with the summer sun looking to put you into heat exhaustion the minute you step out the door, I'm going to let you in on a secret.
Bonus.  The neighbor kids like it too.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You didn't have a what?

Yesterday Meredith asked me if I used to text Cari when we were dating.  "Baby, we didn't have texting when I was dating your mom," I told her.

She went into shock and started laughing,  "Yeah, right dad!"

Then I confirmed to her that texting hadn't been invented yet.


Really!  It's true.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


I never had more than three or four fighting for food.  This gets to be a convention.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Walk

She asked me if she could go for a walk on a hot summer day.  I peeled myself off the couch and told her if she got her shoes on I would walk with her.

This is walking.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The soccer of motor sport

For whatever reason, soccer, one of the most popular sports in the world, has never been able to catch on in America.

We have the same problem in motor sport.  Yeah, we got Nascar and we got Indy cars here in America,  but the world loves Formula 1.  America doesn't seem to love Formula 1.  People want other people to like the same things that they like.  We look for people that have common interests.  Fans of Formula 1 in the USA don't have a lot of friends to choose from.

I got to thinking, what can be done to change this?  How can we get more coverage and excitement in Formula 1?   There used to be a Grand Prix in the USA, but that was taken away.  Would having a race in the USA make you more interested?  Yeah?  Well you're in luck!  A brand new track is being built in Austin, TX specifically for F1.

Of all the international drivers in the series, there is not a single American driver currently in F1.  Would having an American driver increase your excitement?  Perhaps, but there have recently been American drivers without much fanfare.

Maybe there isn't much hope for large scale support of F1 in the United States and that's a shame because it offers some of the most exciting racing in motor sport with some of the most advanced machines in the world.

I've been watching Formula One for years and I can't understand why it isn't more popular. Soccer, on the other hand, its unpopularity, I totally understand.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Mutant Flies

Ah summer.  Hot weather, cutting grass, and flies.  Does it get any better than that?

Sure it does!

It gets better when the small regular flies start to breed with super strong mutant flies.  Kinda like this:

I'm not so sure the regular house fly wanted to be in this relationship.  Perhaps the better way to say this is the bigger fly is . . . well, I'm not really sure what the devil monster is doing to that house fly.

*More on the super devil monster LINK He's #10.