Sunday, September 29, 2013

Band Competition Volunteer

Yesterday we all helped out at the high school as the band hosted a band competition.  My job was to be sure people knew where to park.  The excitement in that job was low but it was okay.  I think that was probably the best job for me.  It was a great job until two hours into my job when my phone battery died.  My last attempt at entertainment was gone.  The job required a lot of waiting because most people showed up in groups as their band arrived with little activity between these groups.  

I had my youngest daughter join me for a few hours and we tried to see how many crickets should could catch and hold at one time.   Turns out that answer is SEVEN.   When she released them, two of them didn't jump for freedom.   Not sure if they suffered injuries or just had a strong bond with her.
The competition was a success and ran smoothly from everything I have heard.   Toward the end of the evening, when everyone was parked, I was able to spend an hour or two in the stadium to watch some of the bands.   While I would say all of the bands performed well, there were a few that stood out with spectacular visuals and music.

I wish I could share some photos or video of the bands but my battery was dead eight hours prior to that.   That's all I got for you today.  I'm going to go finish resting up and soothing my sunburn.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Can't Get Any Higher!

For the first day of fall we loaded up the (new) car and headed up to Sassafras Mountain.  Sassafras is the highest point in the state of South Carolina and thankfully you can drive just about to the top.

There is almost no hiking required to get out on the overlook.  There are several trails to take if you are looking for a hike, but there are no loop trails on top of the mountain.   The Foothills trail crosses the summit and heads off to either Oconoee State Park, Table Rock State Park, or Caesar's Head State Park.    We took the trail up to the summit and then continued on for about twenty minutes before we realized we were going to be hiking uphill the entire way back to the car.

The weather was great and it got me thinking about working in some more day hikes this fall.  It's time to dust off the hiking shoes!

Hey, look!  This spot has cell phone signal!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vacation Day!

Have you ever taken a vacation day off of work just to stay home and play video games because you knew nobody else would be home at your house?

I've never done that but I think I'm going to try it.  I'll probably order pizza that day too.  If I take a break to eat.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Added Challenge!

For the first band competition of the year it rained.  It poured the entire day and I don't believe a band was spared from being soaked.  

Not only did the kids on the field have an added challenge, but the adults in the stands had to try to keep dry while sitting in the rain for several hours.  

In the end, our band scored higher than they did all of last year.  As a result we are now looking into the option of soaking the kids down with the hose before every competition.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Internet Makes Me Unproductive

Smart phones have really escalated the connectivity we have to the internet.  As smart phones become more and more the standard (they are - so don't get left behind) we start to notice how often people are staring at their phones and not each other.  At any moment the phone can chime or chirp or whatever sound effect you have your phone make and you are instantly distracted.  Interrupted.  You stop what you are doing and look down at the shiny screen to see a breaking news story, a weather alert, a text, or whatever.  You have stopped being productive.  

It's not just smart phones either, it's the entirety of the internet, specifically the black hole known as YouTube.   It doesn't take much to sit down for "just a minute" to read the news and before you know it you are watching a moose in a swimming pool (LINK).  Don't ask me how it happens, it just does.   

So the question is if I didn't have the internet would I be more productive?  Tech journalist, Paul Miller, tested that theory for us last year.   He left all forms of the internet for one year and he has now rejoined the internet to tell us what it was like on the other side.   
So even without the internet people will find new distractions.  New ways to delay what needs to be done.  It's not the internet's fault.  It's not YouTube's fault.  It's just a simple lack of self control and discipline.  

Why didn't someone tell me that before?  I could have been getting so much more accomplished.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

YouTube of the Week

Look, I sat down at the desk to write a blog.   Really.  I was going to write something.  But the distracting thing about writing on the internet is the internet.

So as I was preparing my mind to write I started on a long string of YouTube videos that ended up on this one.  After watching this guy have an eating contest with his dog I decided that it was better than anything I was getting to write about.   I don't even remember what I was going to write about.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm Going to Pretend You Didn't Say That

Last night my son told me he wanted to move to Canada and become a Moose farmer.   Uh huh. . . so today's blog is going to focus on my daughter.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

It is Done

As a follow-up to my previous blog I would like to say. . .

She did it.  After an intensive search, she found the car that matched what we needed with all the features she wanted and a price that was great.

 We drove to the edge of civilization in Woodruff, SC to visit Woodruff Chevrolet and they made it worth it.  They were a direct opposite of what I wrote about previously and they did make buying this car a good experience.  

While we were there looking for a new family car I debated how much of my family would fit into the back seat of this red car.

It was decided that not enough of my family would fit in there at this time.  
Now that the car purchasing is done it's time for a nap.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Let's Buy a Car!

Cari and I went to find a new (new to us) car this week.   Buying a car is something that I imagine most people don't do on a regular basis so it's something that should be done thoughtfully and something that can generate a lot of nervousness.  

We went to a dealership and test drove the car we found online.  The salesman with us was the stereotype of used car salesman and he contributes to the negative connotation of that title.  He only told us things that he thought we wanted to hear and downplayed any questions or concerns we had.   He did not appear to be honest in any way.   I think it would have been a simple task to have him contradict himself by feeding him conflicting opinions.  

After the drive we decided that we did like the car and that we would be interested in hearing what kind of deal they had in mind.  We went inside where we met up with the salesman's partner.  This guy also fit the stereotype and had minimal customer service skills.   When Cari presented a few concerns he said, "You complain a lot".   Yeah, he really told her that.  I imagine that he thought he was kidding, but nobody was laughing.  

This rare experience of purchasing a car can be a bit nerve racking and a car dealership has the opportunity to put you at ease and really try to help you through the process.  Nissan in Anderson, SC failed miserably at this.   From the two slimy salesman, to the finance lady hidden in a back office, all the way to the "manager" that appeared out of his office to tell us that he could get in serious trouble for offering us such an incredible deal.  They all failed at making us comfortable with their business.

As we were waiting for a price, which should have been an easy thing, the salesman made several trips to the back office to whisper to the finance lady (we weren't even getting financing with them).  When he approached us with a price it was higher than what was listed on their website.  


Finally, he came back with a price at the internet price.  That's after he considered the value of our trade-in.  


At this point Cari was getting more nervous and this "team" was not helping make either of us more comfortable about their shady business practices.   As Cari was explaining that we were going to leave the manager, who was listening from his office, came out to talk.   The salesman wrote on the back of a paper "I buy at $________"   and handed us a pen.   We wrote a number and he went to the managers office with it so they could whisper about it.     When the blood-shot-eyed snake came back to his desk he had a number several hundred dollars higher than what we had written. 

It was time to go.   The fact is that they wanted to sell that car more than we wanted to buy it and they didn't know how to make that happen. 

We'll continue looking at cars until we find something that fits our needs.  We'll also be on the lookout for a salesman and dealership that want to be honest and fair with their customers.  Someone that knows buying a car can and should be an enjoyable experience.   

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Who's getting taller? Shorter?

It's very nearly a tie here.   The dark background behind him camouflages  the top part of his head.
Both of them had their feet flat on the ground.

Monday, September 09, 2013


This one lives in the bushes next to our deck.
He has a lot of neighbors, but they are much smaller.

Saturday, September 07, 2013


It was picture time a few evenings ago.

Oh, the boy is getting older.  To get him to smile for the camera now requires the telling of a dirty joke.

This one just required some ice cream to get a smile.

Finally, the youngest.  She just wanted to show that she knew how to snap her fingers.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Labor Day Defined

Trying to figure out what this past Monday was all about?   Is it the Labour party in England?  Nope. Is it celebrating laboring hard every day for the man?   Yeah, kinda.  

Here's what Wikipedia said about it:

Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.

There is also more information in there why we don't celebrate International Workers Day with the majority of the world on May 1st (Thanks Chicago).  

So it turns out that it is a day off (for most) to celebrate the workers.  I always thought it was odd to have Labor day with nobody laboring but now it makes more sense.   Maybe we should pay more attention to Boss's Day (October 16) next time it rolls around.  It only seems fair really.  We all got a full day off, the least we could do for them is bring the boss a cup of coffee.  

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Thankful for My Loss

I am so thankful for my loss of Direct TV.   Let me tell you a few things that have happened since I stopped giving them money.

We signed up for Netflix streaming for a fraction of what Direct TV wanted.  The kids have never complained about lack of content and Cari and started to watch new things like House of Cards (excellent!).
We purchased a Google Chromecast for $35 that also came with three months of Netflix for free.  That pretty much made the Chromecast cheaper than a meal at McDonald's.    The Chromecast is a small device that plugs into the HDMI port on the TV and then allows you to push YouTube, Netflix, or anything on an internet browser window to your TV.   It works seamlessly and I love it.

Using the Chromecast last week for the Nascar race was incredible.  Someone was streaming the race to the internet, I pulled it up on my browser - full screen - and then shot it over to the TV with Chromecast.  Even better was the fact that the person feeding it muted the audio during every commercial.   It was actually a better experience than having it on regular TV.

Another result is having more money available for important things.  Things like pizza night.

Although Direct TV sends us mail begging for us to come back several times a week we aren't going back.  Life is too awesome without Direct TV, I am so thankful for losing them!