Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Do you Sudoku?

There is a cool logic puzzle that is continuing to get more popular. The other day when I was shopping (No, not at Walmart) at Books-a-Million, it was easier to find a book of Sudoku than cross word puzzles.

Probably the best website I found to play it at is :
Daily Soduko

So what is it? Even if you know what the game is about, you should take a minute and read about it at Wikipedia. They have some interesting history on the game.

So I finally decided to try one myself. After I tried it, I introduced Cari to the puzzle. She also liked it. It's her new solitaire. Like everything else in our house, we turned it into a competition last night. I printed a copy of the same puzzle for each of us. We started at the same time.

My puzzle was roughly half done when she set her paper down. I continued until I had completed it. I was hoping she would have a number in the wrong place.

After she finished, it felt like it took me thirty minutes to get done. Later Cari joked that she could have taken a nap and still beat me. By the way, she didn't have any wrong.

We have a rematch tonight.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

1922-2006 Marie Striegel Topper

I've never been to a funeral before. I've never stood in front of a dead person before. Last week I did both of those.

Standing in front of the body of someone I know was a strange experience for me. I knew it was Marie I was looking at. She looked different. It sounds totally silly, but she looked dead. I mean you could tell that her spirit was gone. It was an empty body. Something I had never seen before. Our pastor has told me multiple times that the human body is just a shell for your spirit. Your spirit is your connection with God, not your body. Until I saw Marie laying in that casket last week, I don't think I fully understood.

I had only known her for two years. The two years that she sat in the pew directly in front of us at church. She always sat between Charles, her husband of 65 years, and her daughter. Several times, Cari would tap Marie on the shoulder and ask for a tissue when Meredith would have a runny nose. Marie always gave us a smile as she passed the tissue back.

The funeral was done very nicely. The organ was playing and a woman from church sang a beautiful solo. Both of them were behind a wall and not visible to those in the sanctuary. I guess their being hidden is to keep them from being a distraction to those attending. It was almost like the music was coming from thin air. The pastor said some wonderful things about Marie and read some comforting passages from the Bible.

I mentioned that Marie was married for 65 years. Every time I saw Marie, I saw her husband with her. Every time I saw him, she was with him. I can't imagine after their lives together what it must be like for him now. He was surrounded with family and friends this week. I never saw him stand alone. His family will have to return to their homes and their jobs soon. But he will not be alone.

This morning in church. Our last hymn was "Here I am, Lord"
Charles went up and knelt at the alter. The three rows in front of me emptied as his entire family joined him.

That was very emotional for me. Did I cry? Well, I'll tell you that I didn't sing that last hymn. I just listened.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Trash Talk

We live outside of the city limits. That means we have to find our own means of getting the trash to the dump. We have hired a local pickup truck for this task. When the Yankee moved in down the street, he also hired this pickup truck.

Today is trash day. The doorbell rang earlier and it was Yankee. "Has the truck come for your trash?", he asked.

"You just walked passed my full trash cans to get to my door, Yankee.", I answered full of sarcasm.

"I was just wondering if you knew what was going on.", he said.
I looked at him with a blank stare. My front door was still in my hand, ready to be pushed closed.
"Yankee.", I said. "It's trash. They'll pick it up. I'm not worried about it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go write about you on my blog."

He looked confused, "You're what?"
I closed the door.

Ok. That is not really the truth. Anyone that really knows me, also knows that story isn't true. I'm way too lazy to get up and answer the door.

What really happened was Cari got up to answer the door. He asked her about trash pickup. She asked him if he noticed our trash cans still sitting at the corner of the driveway. Then Cari looked down toward Yankee house and saw his trash. "Guess they haven't come yet.", she said.
Sorry, once again, not true. I honestly don't know what was said.

What is true is that the trash didn't get picked up today. I don't know why, and I don't care. In a few days, if I still have trash sitting on my drive, I'll care. Guess the pickup truck won't be getting his ten bucks this month.

It's also true that Yankee came over and asked Cari about the trash situation. Any fool could have looked to see that we still had trash out there too.

I'm sure he just wanted to check out my wife.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Scored a triple!

It was a long day at work. Hunger was starting to make me desperate. I went into the break room and put a dollar in the stupid vending machine. Made my selection by pressing one number and one letter. The spiral arm that holds the small bags of Doritos started spinning. The bag got closer to the glass. Then the arm stopped spinning. My world fell silent. In my head I was screaming, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!"
My bag of chips was caught up in the machine. Held by one corner. Pinned against the vinegar and salt chips next to it.

I went and talked to a friend in the next room that was eating Doritos. "The machine ate my dollar.", I cried.

He gave me a dollar and said that two would fall out. He said he was still hungry and didn't mind doing this to help me. The bag of chips was honestly only worth fifty cents. Not in our break room. Eighty cents for these things. I pushed the edge of the bill into it's slot. The machine snatched it out of my hands. Again I pushed the buttons. The spiral arm went into action. My bag of chips pressed toward the glass and the bag behind it was almost free. The arm stopped. Nothing fell.


This machine has now STOLEN two dollars. The bags of chips were laughing at me. Looking back on it, maybe it was the other employees on break that were laughing. I was not happy. One of those other employees suggested putting another dollar in. "Are you kidding me?", I responded. He got up to witness how one bag of vinegar and salt chips could hold back TWO bags of Doritos. He then pointed to the bottom row of the machine and asked, "Why didn't you just select those Doritos, it's the same thing?"

I walked away from him. With my fists clenched I went back to my friend who was now also out a dollar. Together we went back to the break room pounded on the glass a bit. He may have even kicked it. Either way, we still had no chips. He then did something I could not believe.

He put another dollar in it.

I swear to you. I am not making this up. All three bags were now jammed at the top of the machine. We attempted to rock the machine over on its side but it was bolted to the Pepsi machine next to it. As I cut the straps to separate the machine from the others, my friend went for a dolly.

We propped that machine up and dropped the front end. Crash!! I saw something move. I kind of hoped it would be multiple items. I wanted revenge on this machine. One bag of our chips sat in the bin. We picked up the machine again and kicked it down. Another bag. Within five minutes we had all three bags of chips. We went back in the other room to eat.

"These should taste better after all that work.", I said while eating my Doritos.
He nodded at me. His mouth full of powdered cheese.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Don't believe your eyes!

As we were driving through Illinois on vacation my cell phone starting ringing. It was Dave. Dave asked where we were and asked how things were going. We got off the phone after a just a few minutes.

No more than ten minutes later my phone starts ringing. It's Dave.
"Dude! It's pouring down rain where you are. Some real serious storms.", he says with a lot of excitement. I look out the window and squint toward the SUN. Cari looks out her window with a smirk. There were clouds behind us. We had driven through a little rain. We also heard on the radio some storm warnings for the area we were now leaving.

"Dave, it's sunny out here.", I replied.
"No, be careful because I'm looking at the weather channel and there are some storms where you are.", he cautioned me.

Maybe he thought a storm was going to jump out from behind a tree. This conversation went back and forth a few times. I even told him what mile marker I was at and asked him to look up the humidity for that spot.

Dave reminded me of being at home. Cari and I sitting on the swing we put up or taking a break on the porch. A dark cloud comes over us and Cari says, "I'm going in to check the weather."

Going in to check the weather? We are sitting in it. It should say 'cloudy', and if it doesn't, it is wrong. Who knows better what are weather is than the person sitting in it?

I can understand looking at the forecast. What will it be like in six hours. Why wait until clouds come over you and then wonder what the weather is like.

"I just can't believe it is this cloudy. The forecast said it would be sunny. I'm going in to check."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Not my idea

It's been a while since I actually WROTE on here. For those of you who were waiting for that to happen, your wait is over.

Cari wanted a pool. Not a big, inground pool. Not even a permanent above ground. Just one of those soft sided pools like Walmart sells. You inflate the top ring and it raises as you fill it with water. This desire of Cari's started last year. I fought hard against the pool. I fought hard because I didn't want this big round thing in my grass.

Over the winter our neighbor sold us a pool. Actually, sold CARI a pool like the one she wanted. It's 18' and about waist deep. We paid a minimal amount of money for this used pool.
I was losing ground in my battle to keep the yard pool free. We now owned a pool.

Cari pointed out that it is only a temporary fixture. It comes down in the winter. "OH! GOOD! Because I bet the grass will look great after having a pool sit on it all summer!!!", I thought silently.

This week, Cari worked her butt off for this pool while I was at work. Two truck fulls of sand were dumped on the designated pool spot. Cari leveled that sand. Next Cari dragged the pool into position and scrubbed it clean. When I got home from work it was almost full. She did all that work while I was gone so she wouldn't have to listen to me complain.

When the pool was full around six in the evening, I asked when we could swim.

Yeah, I fight against it all year and then became the first to request a swim. So what.

Cari told the kids and I we could swim the next day. Randy climbed the ladder and stuck his toe in. "It's not that cold.", he reported. After Meredith climbed and reached a hand in she said, "Oh, it's so warm."

"Let me check.", I demanded. I was still dressed from work as I climbed the ladder. When I got to the top I quickly climbed back down. Down the side into the pool. I was now standing waist deep in the water. . .fully clothed. The kids were going nuts. I invited them in with me.

Of course, before they would listen to me, they got approval from their mother. Just another reminder of where I rank in the house. Cari was not excited about this idea at all. In fact, she was quite against it.

It wasn't long after I jumped in, that all four of us were swimming in our new pool. All of us in our regular clothes. Even Cari! and for the record, the water was FREEZING!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Just add

We went to watch some soccer games even though Randy protested. I thought the games were entertaining and the kids playing did a good job.

Randy was complaining that he didn't really want to be there.

After watching for twenty minutes he came over and told me he found a way to make soccer way better.

"Give each team a monkey.", he said.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I'm still working on making this work. The problem was that the original picture I built was 44" across. I guess that is bigger than most of your monitors. I've now reduced it in half two times.
This was a quick fix just so you can see what I had tried to do. I believe this is a blend of 6 pictures.

Monday, June 05, 2006

just a few quick pictures

While the girls were rushing around to be ready on time, the guys were lounging around waiting until the last five minutes to get dressed.

Thankfully, Richard can play the piano and entertained us as we relaxed.

(Groom in the white shirt with the biggest YAWN)

Randy was the ring bearer. His job was to walk up the aisle slowly and let Richard untie the rings.

Randy did a speed walk up the aisle and had tried to give the entire pillow to Richard.

Reception time. All that stress of carrying the rings really made Randy hungry.

About five seconds after taking this picture, Cari made him put one of the forks down. Must have good manners at the table.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Made this panoramic of Chicago while standing at the Field Museum. I didn't take too long working on it. I have so much still to do before I'm caught up.

*********Blogger doesn't like this picture right now****will try again later************

This week, I'll start writing about our trip more.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

We made it

Made it back home today.

830 miles one way.

Something seems to be broken about my blog. Only the last three entries are showing and the sidebar is gone. I'm hoping it will fix itself. If not, I'll have to try and fix that.

Funniest thing on the road.
Etched with a finger into the back door of a DIRTY semi truck:

"My wife is dirtier than this truck!"

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Just a few more days

Soon. Be patient.

Since being on vacation I have taken a couple of pictures. I filled a 2GB memory card and now half way to filling the 1GB card with two days to go.

I guess my next purchase will be a new hard drive.