Tuesday, October 31, 2006

sheep + dog = sheep dog

I think I'm getting finished up on telling you about our last Stone Mountain trip. Just this story tonight and one more about Randy and I doing some Geocaching on the mountain.

As I have said, the Scottish Highland games were in town the weekend we were there. This event kinda reminded me of a medieval fair. Most men wore kilts, there were more bagpipes that I could count, and tents selling all sorts of things littered the grounds.

We watched a few bagpipe bands march in the center field. All the bands were fun to watch and we got to hear Amazing Grace seven times. It must be required for every bagpipe band to end with that.

The highlight of out time with the Scottish had to be the sheep dogs. This was quite amazing to me, especially when I compare the intelligence to my dog. For the first demonstration, they let a few ducks out on the field and placed a small wooden bridge in the center. The dog slowly stalked the ducks and actually got them rounded up and had them walk up the bridge.

The trainer talked a little while about how he trains the dogs. It is all whistle commands. Each dog is trained to listen to different whistles. He told one dog to walk ten steps left on the third whistle. Sure enough, the dog did just that. Not only was the dog amazing, but you wouldn't believe the amount of whistles this man could produce.
Next they let some sheep into the field and showed how the dog could control them. Again. Really amazing to watch and see how smart those dogs were.

We walked among the tents before we left. Although the kilts looked very fashionable, I decided to wait until next time. I wasn't sure what clan colors would look best on me.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


We arrived back to camp after the laser show and decided to have a nice camp fire.

As Cari was getting Randy and Meredith ready for bed, we could hear bagpipes playing not far from our own site. The Scottish Highland Games were at the park the same weekend, and many of the Scots were staying in the same campground.

My fire was rough getting started, but after a few fist fulls of newspaper to get it going, I felt like it was burning well. I threw some larger pieces of wood on top.

With the kids in the tent, Cari and I sat near the fire. We watched and waited for the actual fire to start. The wood was slowly burning, but there wasn't much in the way of flames. I stooped over to rearrange the fire. When I looked up, Cari was staring at the Scots. "What's going on over there?", I asked her.

"They have a huge fire over there", she replied. I looked toward the five foot flames. What I saw was six bagpipe players and about a dozen people dancing, all illuminated by huge flames.

Cari talked about becoming Scottish for the night and joining them. I looked back at my own campfire that was putting out nothing but black smoke. That's when fire envy set in. The next forty minutes were spent trying to get my fire going. Cari told me if she went over that she would bring me back a burning log to get our fire going.

Once the bagpipes stopped, Cari announced she was going to bed. My fire was a failure. I stayed up another twenty minutes staring into the darkness. Where did I go wrong? Will a handful of men wearing skirts (kilts) out do me? Having already surrendered to them on my bagpipe skills, I would need to beat them on fire building.

We were going to be camping one more night, so I had one more chance to prove my ability at fire building. "Tomorrow night the Scots will have envy over MY fire", I thought as I crawled into the tent.The next night the Scots were back out in full force. This time my fire was bigger and hotter. In fact it was almost too big, and too hot. I didn't tell Cari, but I was kinda hoping the Scots would come over with their bagpipes and dance around our fire. After the last log burned, we realized how cold it really was outside and went to bed. That night, Cari didn't mention going to be a Scot a single time.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bubble Man

The modern day Pied Piper must be Bubble Man. While in the field waiting for the laser show, I noticed large bubbles floating in the air. I walked over and saw the mass of children surrounding a man making bubbles. My own children walked over with me and joined in with the mob.

Bubbles attract children by the dozens. Bubble Man was getting swarmed, and he continued to walk across the field, with the swarm chasing him. Finally, he asked all the children to sit down in front of him. I watched with amazement as I watched all the children sit down obediently. If I ever become a teacher, I'm getting a bubble wand to show my authority over the kids.

What is so interesting about watching a grown man make bubbles? How about making giant bubbles, then blowing smaller bubbles inside of the big one? How about having a girl wearing a fleece sweater hold a bubble in her arms and bounce it? It's true. Bubble Man knows tricks.

After Bubble Man's visit, the wait for the laser show to start wasn't long. Thankfully, this Pied Piper didn't return for our children. He just disappeared over the hill.

The laser show is displayed on the side of the mountain. It is a huge show, taking up the entire face of the rock. Music selection was good and large fireworks were mixed into the show.

After the show, we had to walk over to the dock and take the water taxi back to the campground. This gave me an opportunity to show off my lacking sense of direction. I tried to get my family to follow me to the right at the intersection, but Cari won, leading us straight across the street with a mass of people. Sure enough, boats waited for us across the street.

Back at the camp our kids were asleep in the tent while I decided to start a camp fire.
The moments after starting my fire are the events that created fire envy. I'll tell that story next.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


My work schedule has changed at the last minute twice this week. Unfortunately, this means my posts to the blog have been delayed.

Sorry to keep you waiting. Its just been crazy. Straight away after work yesterday was CubScouts. Tonight was church.

Maybe tomorrow you'll here more from me, Friday at the latest.

At the end of work today, I got to volunteer at the fire station. We went out on a fire truck to install fire alarms in homes. Riding a fire truck was pretty cool. The firemen were great to hang out with for two hours. One of my co-workers is going with them on Friday, they promised to take him to a rough part of town. HA! He's in for a surprise!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Back from Camping

We just arrived back home from camping at Stone Mountain, GA. We mostly only went because I was running out of things to write on the blog. Two nights of camping gave me at least a weeks worth.

We first went to Stone Mountain around this time last year for Pumpkin Festival. At that time we purchased the annual passes, so this was our last chance to get another use before they expired. If you have never been there, it's a really cool place.

As I get time this week, here's some things you might read about:

camp fire envy
Randy's first experience Geocaching
Scottish Highland Games
$50 for cheap dinner
Stupid semi truck drivers
laser light show featuring Bubble Man
and more. . .

Friday, October 20, 2006

My name is Kamal

I had to call India three times yesterday. This was a frustrating experience. Thankfully, the friendly people at GE were paying for the long distance call.

Use your best Indian accent and this is what I heard: "Thank you for calling GE customer care, my name is (in a different, forced accent) Alan, how may I help you?"

ALAN?!! Ok, that's his real name. Alan told me to call a different number for the department I needed. Again, I was routed to India and spoke to "Michael". I laughed a little while on hold.

It was obvious to me I was speaking to someone in India, but the two people I spoke to had American names.

I laughed a little more when Michael told me I had to call a different number. He gave me the same number that Alan had given me.
"Michael, I called that number and you answered.", I told him. "What good will calling it again do?"
It took about five minutes for him to understand that concept. He really didn't want to talk to me. Then he told me to call it back and to not choose an automated option, let it go to operator.

Of course, he wouldn't be able to transfer me, so I hung up and called again. When I finally heard a voice it was again in a very heavy Indian type accent. The name given, "Sarah".

Am I supposed to feel better about GE directing their customer complaints to India if the person answering the phone has an American name? It's like a game.

When "Sarah" told me her name it sounded so rehearsed and forced that, like the ones before her, I didn't believe it.

From now on, when someone calls me at work, I'm going to be "Kamal".

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The NEW park

We decided to take the kids to the park we discovered in Pickens while geocaching.
The park has a lot of really unique things that make it really interesting.

Monster made of tires:

Tire Swings:

Zip line:

They also have a sandbox with purple sand, a climbing wall, and several twisty slides. There are enough tires around you might think this is an abandoned truck stop. That really isn't the case. It's a great park.

The kids were having fun and I was running around with the camera. Cari spotted a little boy playing pretty much by himself. He was probably 2-3 years old. Over a period of time observing him, Cari decided there wasn't any adults watching over him.

She went over and tried asking him where his mom was. He wasn't able to speak clear enough that she understood. By this time another mother joined Cari with this little boy.

I stayed clear of the whole situation. Randy and I were at the climbing wall.

Turns out the child's parent was with a large group away from the playground near a baseball field. Cari had went over asking if anyone belonged with the boy. The mother seemed bothered that Cari was asking about her son.

It's hard to believe a parent would leave their child on a playground hardly in eyesight of where she was. When a concerned adult comes over to find the parent, you are nothing but a bother. . . just like her kid. If that lady would have been more responsible three years ago, our population wouldn't have hit 300,000,000 until eleven seconds later this week.

So at the end of our visit, Randy and Meredith had a great time, I had taken a lot of pictures, and Cari re-introduced a mother to her son. Maybe next time we'll just go to the park across the street from the house.

Monday, October 16, 2006

James made my day!


A Nascar show car was brought to my work to be put on display for a few hours. A show car is a car that ran in races and after they retire it, they ship it around to do promotions.

I started talking to the guy in charge of the car after I had watched him rev the engine and spin the tires while parking the thing for display. Being the race fan I am, I was checking out all the finer details of the machine. "If I could get my wife up here with a camera, do you think I can take a picture sitting in it?", I asked the guy.

James replied, "sure."

My new friend, James. I made a call home. This was an emergency. I have never sat in a race car before. When I called Cari, it didn't matter what was going on, she needed to get to the store ASAP!

When Cari got there, James let me climb in. Let me tell you, it is a tight fit to sit inside one of those cars.

Then James started directing me to flip a few switches. The final click started the engine. The engine was loud. I pushed on the gas pedal just slightly and the engine quickly reacted with a cracking and popping roar. This was AMAZING for me!

Kinda silly I guess that I was so excited to sit in a car with the engine running. I do that every day. But this was a NASCAR. This engine was LOUD. This WAS exciting.

People walking into the store stopped to look in the passenger window at me. I pushed the gas and they had to back up because of the noise.

After a few minutes, my ride was over. I shut the engine off. James stood there for about thirty minutes explaining all the gadgets and safety gear inside of the car while I was still sitting in it. Cari took a lot of pictures for me.

I felt like I had just won a race. Hours after I climbed out of that car, I was still excited.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Camping with the Scouts

Randy and I went camping with the cubscouts Friday night. This was our second trip to the scout camp. The week leading up to our night, had beautiful weather. The nights were cool, and the days were warm in the sun. That all came to an end on Friday night as we slept outside in our sleeping bags. It dropped into the low 30's Friday night and seemed to be just as cold when we got up Saturday morning.

Before we left, Cari said she may turn on the heat at home because it was going to be cold. "If I'm sleeping OUTSIDE, you can certainly survive one night inside without the heat on!", I told her.

She agreed that the heater may not come on, but the mattress pad would be cranked up.

We had our campfire Friday night and the various Packs in attendance were allowed to get up and do a skit. We saw the same skit three times. Only two boys, including Randy, from our group were there, so we didn't do a skit.

Saturday we got up at 6:30am and started packing up. Breakfast was a cold Hardies biscuit and some juice or coffee. What a way to start the day. Standing in freezing weather eating stuff my dog would pass up.

Then we went on to our activities. BB guns, bow and arrows, fire starting, a hike to see a 200 year old stone bridge, and games in the field filled our morning. My favorite game in the field was dodge ball. First, the adults formed a circle and threw at the boys. After we got done hitting our sons with a soccer ball, the boys made a circle with the parents in the center. This time there were two balls. I could hardly keep track of both. I focused on one ball, only to be hit in the leg from behind.

Randy started becoming a bit over tired and got quite the attitude unfortunately. In dodge ball, when he was out, he decided he would quit and he stormed off by himself. At fire building, he started whining when I his turn to try and start the fire with a flint was over.

I have no pictures to share. I purposely didn't take my camera so that it wouldn't distract me.
When we got home on Saturday afternoon I didn't feel very well. I took a three hour nap and then went to bed early as well.

Right now Meredith is talking nonstop in my ear as I am trying to finish this. I'm getting a headache.

At least I'm sleeping indoors again.

Friday, October 13, 2006

be back tomorrow

Going camping tonight. I'll be back Saturday with some stories for you.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Geocaching is hard

Instead of a single trail, Cari and I went Geocaching yesterday. We planned a route for about five caches. On our last one, a trail that lead to a the TOP of a waterfall, I was cussing. These geocache people are nuts. I suppose Cari and I are those people now, but the people that hid this box were some sick people.

We hiked past the end of the trail. Then we headed into the woods up the mountain toward the top of the waterfall. Once there we lost the trail and wandered around the woods at the top of this mountain. Thorns and bushes were scratching our legs.

Holding onto the GPS, we started back to where we lost the trail. Sure enough, there was the box under a fallen tree. We had stood in that same place about fifteen minutes earlier.

All in all we were 5 for 7 in finding the caches.

Here's a picture of Cari watching the GPS as she jumped sideways. The unit tells you how fast you are moving and she wanted to know how fast she could jump. I think the record was 3.4mph. She's a quick jumper.

I hope I'm a quick runner after she reads this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I don't trust you anymore

I feel like I've been lied to. It's happened a few times. Kinda like "The Boy Who Cried Wolf".

Cari and I rented and watched the movie, Wedding Crashers last night. We got this movie because it came highly recommended from multiple sources.

When it was over I was wishing I had spent at least the last hour of my life doing something more enjoyable. It was that bad for me. I was bored.

The whole movie wasn't that bad. The first half especially, had some funny moments. If you don't want to spoil the funny parts, then don't watch the trailer. The problem, for me, with this movie is that it became incredibly predictable. The plot was boring and the same jokes started getting old.

So, to all my friends that recommended this movie, "I don't trust you anymore."

I should have stopped listening to you all after you told me to watch "The 40 Year Old Virgin".

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Football, soccer, baseball, and golf. I'm not really too enthused by any of those sports. For me, it's auto racing that I have passion for.

When a fan of baseball turns on a game they can almost always tell you where the game is by sight. For me, it's racing tracks. Just a few quick glances at a F1 car cornering, and I'll tell you where that pavement is. Show me a picture of a track layout and I'll tell you the name of the track by it's shape.

Like any fan of sports, I want to see a good match. I also want to see my favorite team win.

This morning I watched the Formula 1 race. With only two races to go and the championship tied, it was to be a great race. Michael Shumacher, the world's greatest race car driver had an engine explode during the race. Essentially taking him out of the running for the championship. He retires after one more race and had a chance to retire as the champion. It has been six years since he last had an engine expire during a race. That alone is an achievement in Formula 1 where technology is pushed to the limit. V8 cars running at 19,000 rpms. Compare that to your tachometer.

If you hadn't guessed, my favorite team didn't win this morning.

Change of plans

I ran out of time this morning. I planned on writing this morning after church, and before work.

Then something happened and I changed my topic.

Now it is time for work and you'll just have to wait until later to see what was so important to disrupt my morning.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hike to Lee Falls

Today's trip started a little differently. We stopped at a GeoCache site on the way to our hike. After we found it and took a travel bug with us, we were on our way again.

Our next stop was not a planned one. We drove past a small box turtle in the road. We stopped, but our motives for stopping were different. I wanted to stop and see a turtle and get him out of the road. Cari wanted to keep him. Cari was determined that she should keep him. I questioned her on where she would keep it while we hiked for the afternoon and after a few minutes she released the critter. I had written detailed notes last night so we could find this spot easily. The trail to Lee Falls is not an official trail and doesn't have any markings. My last direction said to turn right, onto government road 715A. Drive 1/2 mile and park on the right just before the bridge.

I turned onto 715, drove 1/2 mile and parked just before the bridge. The next note on my paper said to head North through a field. There was no field where we were. I convinced Cari to hike into the woods with me. I held the GPS and was looking for a trail. Any bare spot between trees became my "trail". It just didn't feel right. Cari suggested driving up the road further, but I wanted to try one more time. After thirty minutes tramping through the woods, I gave up. I suggested we drive a few miles to the state park and ask a ranger. When we got back in the car, Cari once again suggested driving up the road a bit more. We did, and then I saw 715A. I had turned on 715. We turned onto 715A and drove 1/2 a mile, parking on the edge of a field just before the bridge. I caused us to waste about an hour of hike time. Taking it slow just went out the window. We normally take a picnic at eat at the falls. No time for that today.

The trail was awesome. Walking through three fields, crossing several creeks, and a thirty minute walk in the woods takes you to a very rocky creek. We climbed the rocks and got to the top of a hill where we were able to stand and admire this beautiful scene.

The GPS came in handy for sure today. The trail was not always clear on the way out. Looking how we came in made a difference. We also used it earlier when I was trying my hardest to get us lost in the woods off the wrong road. In my defense, it was odd that there was a bridge 1/2 mile up on 715 and 715A. If the bridge wasn't on 715, I might have caught my mistake earlier.

On the way out, we were talking about what a great hike it is and how beautiful it all is. Then Cari mentioned her pet turtle again. I agreed if it was in the road again, that she could keep it as a pet. We have a dog named Turtle. We talked about if we had a turtle, we would name it, "dog".

There were no turtles in the road going home.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stay at home dad

Today I was a stay at home dad. It was my day off and Cari went with Meredith on a class field trip. That left me alone for the day. I suffered through it ok.

It's been months since I've had a day like this. I didn't really know how to handle it at first. In my head, I was like the scene in Home Alone when the boy realized he was alone and went nuts for a day.

It was tough sitting in my pajamas until noon watching tv. When I got bored with Tivo, I strolled over to the computer for a few hours. I was preparing and mapping the hike for tomorrow. Yes, another hike story tomorrow.

Then I did something totally unexpected. I did something productive. My brother, Grant, got married this summer and I hold the only video of that wedding. They have waited patiently for me to get that video onto a DVD. I made a huge step by getting it onto the computer and putting a title on it. After I edit the reception a bit, it'll be on the disk. Becky and Grant will not believe I actually did it. I promised my mom that I would have it in the mail by next week. From the beginning it was one of those things I would take care of when I got some time. That time was today.

Cari got home and was tired from helping with two classes of five year olds. After Randy and I washed my car, I went in and straightened up the kitchen, made dinner, and cleaned up afterwards. This might not sound like a big deal to you. When I told Randy I was making dinner, he asked if he could help light the grill.
"What makes you think I'm cooking on the grill?", I asked.
He answered, "You only know how to make things on the grill."

Not tonight. Toasted ham and cheese. Is that a step up from grilling or a step down? Does it help that I made tomato soup with it?

Something or Nothing?

I'm going to try and get something posted a bit later. Today was a different kind of day for me. More on that later, for now, Randy and I are going to wash the car and watch Simpsons together.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


When I arrived home the other day I noticed that the my children were attacking someone that doesn't live in our house. This guy was big, but he was no match for my kids.

Turns out, once I pulled them off his head, that it was Cari's dad. He and his wife came to stay with us for a few days. We had a good visit with them. Now my kids are training for our next visitor. Randy said he won't go easy next time.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Can't stop learning

The woman that lives in the house next door is a teacher.
The woman that lives in the house on my other side is a teacher.
The woman that lives directly across the street is a teacher.
The woman that lives in my house is now a substitute teacher.