Saturday, February 27, 2010

Taking Screech for a Hike

The past few times she has done good hiking.  But each time is taking a chance.  Are you feeling lucky today?

Earlier this week, I was feeling lucky so Cari and I loaded up the car and took the baby hiking with us.  Brenna was in her carrier, strapped to my back, when she started going into her screeching fit.  Oh, it was like having a air horn go off in my ear!  She obviously wasn't interested in being my passenger for the day.

We decided to go with plan "B".  "Brenna's way".   That meant she would walk along the two mile trail with us.

She actually did very well walking on her own and didn't complain like the older kids do when forced to hike.  There were a few spots that we crossed a creek by hopping stone to stone and Cari picked her up during these sections.  Again, the baby squeeled to be put down.  She wanted to walk.

About a mile in she started to complain and fuss.  Mother Nature had wore the baby down and we were then able to put her into the pack.  I carried her, barely awake, for the rest of the trail.

On the way out of the park we spotted four deer up on a hill.  I think they came to the edge of the forest to wish us well with that screaming baby.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't be Late to the Party!

I'm usually pretty slow when it comes to popular things online.  I will find out about something cool just about in time for it to stop being cool.  But I think I may be slightly ahead of the curve on this one.  Either I'm slightly ahead at something very cool and upcoming, or I've just stumbled onto something entirely lame and that's why I'm the only one around.

No, I'm not talking about Google Wave.  Although, I do have an account on Wave, so let me know if you post something there because I've given up on checking it.

What I'm talking about is Gowalla.  I actually just learned about this over the past few days.  I've also never heard of FourSquare which is very similiar, but not available in my area.   So Gowalla.   What is it?  Let's say you head over to Target to pick up some underwear.  You use your GPS enabled smart phone like the DROID or an iPhone and "check-in".   This lets all your friends and internet stalkers know that you are at Target.  You get awarded a stamp for checking in at Target.  For lunch you drive over to Five Guys for a burger.  While you are there, you pull up the app and "check in".  Another stamp!

The stamp collecting is kinda fun by itself, but then there's "pins".  As you play the game you may earn different pins.  Some of the things that will earn you pins are creating new locations on Gowalla or checking in at multiple locations in a day. There are many others that I have no clue about yet.   While you are out and about collecting stamps and pins you can also swap items.  This reminded me of a virtual Geocaching.  You start out with several items when you sign up.  You may have a tea kettle, a water bottle, a coffee, or one of the other hundred plus items.  As you visit a place, you will be notified if someone else has previously left an item there.  If they have, you can choose to swap items.

We went to the park on Tuesday and when I checked in there was a water bottle available.  I picked it up and left some sweets.  Each item has a history of who had it and where it has been.  I found it pretty cool to pick up a water bottle and find out where else it has been and how many people have had it.  You can also leave an item without picking one up if you want to leave something for the next visitor.  Sometimes you will also be gifted with an item when you check in.   This is like Geocaching for lazy people.

Right now, I don't have any friends using Gowalla, so I'm just going around tagging places and collecting items.  If you have friends using it, then I suppose it would be about the same as using Twitter to announce your location.  "Hey, I'm at Target buying underwear if anyone wants to join me".  Note the concern of constantly announcing your whereabouts.  My friend, Tom, recently wrote a blog on this topic. HERE.

I'm not using my name on Gowalla right now, so all of my friends with GPS enabled smart phones, let me know if you start using it and I'll let you track my every move.

I'm telling you right now, this will be the next big thing.  I wasn't the last one to the party, and I'm trying to help you from being last too.

Now get out there and pick up that kettle I left at Hobby Lobby this morning!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I had the chance to take some senior pictures for a friend's daughter and we were all glad the sun came out for the day of the shoot.

When we were done and I did some touch up in Lightroom, there were 28 shots that were candidates for printing.  Here's just a few of those...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm a Man

Yeah, I've always been male.  I could show you a penis to prove it.  After all, only a man would have one of those.  Another thing that only men can do is grow a beard.

Over the past month or so that I have stopped shaving, some odd things started to happen.  People treat a guy with a beard differently than a clean-shaven guy.  Here's just a few of the things that I have noticed:

I got a letter last week from the NRA asking if I wanted to become a member.  That's something that never happened to the beard-less me.

I also started getting issues of Field & Stream that I NEVER signed up for.  Amazing that they sensed a beard would result in a sudden interest in killing wild animals.

I've even seen some difference in the way co-workers treat me.  One girl I work with told me that "the beard demands respect".   Another co-worker suggested that I change my name, and in return I suggested that he change his attitude.

So it turns out that having a beard makes me more of a man.   And I didn't even have to show you my penis.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Me and the Black Box

The streets were crowded.  Both sides filled with concrete structures.  Signs screamed for my attention with bright colors.  It was hard to stay focused on my driving with so much going on.  Then the black box hanging on my windshield refocused me on the task at hand.  It spoke in that familiar feminine voice, "Left turn in one quarter mile onto Wheeler Ave".  I glanced to the map on the screen and noticed that Wheeler Ave would be my next left and I moved into the left lane.  Sitting in the turn lane, waiting for the light to change, it hit me.  

I was completely lost.  I was nearly in the center of six lanes of traffic with cars rushing on all sides of me.  Lighted signs and cement buildings were piled along the road obscuring the view of Wheeler Ave.  

This shouldn't have been a new feeling to me.  I've been lost before.  I believe most of us have been.  As you travel through a place you haven't been before you carefully make each turn.  You may have even asked for directions in the past (if you're a female).  This time was different.  The feeling I had sitting at that red light was different.  

I was alone.  I felt out of place. 

The radio was off and the heater quietly pushed warm air against my skin.  I looked back at the map in the windshield and realized that at that moment I had put all of my trust in the black box.  I had made several turns since entering the city and I was now blindly following the GPS directions.  If I would have turned off the car and gotten out, I would have had no idea which way to start walking to get home.  It was the most bizarre feeling to me and it caused me to laugh.  Here, I was going to turn left onto this unknown street that I could barely see through the chaos, because the computer told me to.  

When the light turned green I made my turn and left those feelings in the intersection.  Within minutes I had arrived at my destination thanks to the box hanging on the windshield.  I took it down and held it in my hand before getting out of the car.  This companion had made a moment that felt impossible when alone, possible.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A River Runs Through It

What do you do when you have had tons of rain and a drainage problem has developed?  There are actually a couple of actions available to you in this situation.  You can go back inside and ignore the problem, you can call a ditch digger out to install some type of drainage system, or you can hand your wife a shovel.

I chose option 3 as it was the easiest on my soft hands and on my wallet.

Since the fall, we've been getting about thirteen inches of rain a week and the backyard was in a constant state of mush.  Don't go out there with nice shoes or long pants on, because you were going to get muddy in your first step.  To help cure some of the issues of the swamp, we purchased a couple bales of hay to create a trail to the trampoline.  That has helped some, but I'm afraid we'd lose a kid if they strayed from the yellow path.  More work was needed.

After ignoring the problem for a while, Cari started to get annoyed with the conditions of our yard and took things into her own hands.  While at work one day, I received a picture text from her.  I could see that it was our backyard and what appeared to be a small river running through it.
A few minutes later, she sent a short video to my phone.  The video confirmed what I thought the picture was showing me.  My wife had grabbed a shovel when I left for work and created a network of drainage ditches through the backyard.  This work has left our backyard looking like a World War I battlefield.
At least the water problem has been solved!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Finally Snowed

After several false alarms we actually ended up with some snow last week.  I was driving back from Augusta, Ga when it all started and long before any snow was sticking to the ground, people were freaking out.  I saw cars going 30 in a 55 as they were amazed at the white precipitation.   This seemed to be a common scene in the area, as several friends reported encountering the same type of drivers.

It was still snowing pretty good by the time I got home and snow was starting to cover the roads.  I grabbed my camera and headed outside to see what the kids were up to.

Just before dark, I drove over to the park to take a few shots of myself in the snow.  As I drove to the park I realized that the roads were starting to get a little more dangerous and I was glad I chose a destination close to home.  Twice the anti-lock brakes came on and once the traction control activated during my short drive.  

By the next afternoon, the sun had melted everything away and it was back to our normal snow-less landscape.  It would be fun to get just one more snow before winter is over.  I'd really like a great day to do some more sledding.  Judging by past winters, it isn't likely we'll get that chance.  Also judging by the past, it's unlikely that the lack of snow will give local drivers any driving skill.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Last 27 Seconds

Here's some video from the last twenty seven seconds of the basketball game I wrote about yesterday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Amazing Result

There are ten games in the Rec basketball season this year.  After nine games the, self named, Black Fire were 0-9.  At that point you may think it would be easy to give up, even for the coach.   Even with a diminished hope, we arrived at the gym for our final game of the season.

We scored the first goal late in the first quarter and then we held that lead for much of the game.  By the third quarter we were still leading with a score of 4 to 2.  Seriously, that's the score during the third quarter of a basketball game!
The parents were starting to get really excited.  The players were starting to get really excited.  The coach was about to have a heart attack.

With one minute and thirty four seconds to go in the game, the score remained 4 to 2.

During the last 94 seconds of the game, the other team scored a goal and tied the game.  I was getting pretty nervous at this point because I believe they would just let this rec game end in a tie.  We needed the WIN, not a stupid tie.  A tie means you lost. . . because you didn't win.  

Thankfully, with about thirty seconds remaining, they fouled us and we took two shots.  The first shot missed. The second went in and gave us a 5 - 4 lead with half a minute left to play.  

We held them off for a bit and with one second left on the clock, they called a time out.  Parents and friends for both teams were going crazy.  It was getting VERY loud in the gym and emotions were rising.  

The home team passed the ball in and the ten year old boy tried to take a three point shot as the buzzer sounded.  He missed.  We won.  

I wasn't amazed that we won, we had improved every game.  What amazed me was the ridiculously low score.  Both teams took lots of shots.  Enough to have earned more than forty points each.  But that doesn't really matter.  Even if the score had been 2-1 the fact remains. . .


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Making Washing Difficult

I went into a bathroom at a retail store and, before leaving, I decided to wash my hands.  Not a tough decision since it's part of my habit when leaving a bathroom.  Like a lot of public bathrooms, this bathroom didn't have any handles on the faucets.  They just had the little black square sensor that automatically turns the water on for you. I put my hands under the spout and the water started to wet my hands.

Within two seconds the water stopped.  I waved my partly wet hand in front of the black square and the water came back on.  With my hands now wet, I got some soap and scrubbed up.  While I was scrubbing the water was off.

With soap suds now covering my hands I put them back under the faucet and the water started to spray.  This was working out exactly how I thought it should.

Within two seconds the water stopped.  I waved my partly rinsed hand in front of the black square and the water came back on.  For two seconds.  This part was not going as well for me.

I did this three times before I started becoming frustrated.  With soapy hands, standing in a public bathroom, I stood in front of the mirror wishing I wouldn't have washed my hands.  Washing my hands was taking ten times longer than it needed to because of these stupid faucet sensors.  Why isn't there a built in timer that keeps the water on for ten seconds every time you activate it?  There are probably a hundred solutions better than the one that this store had chosen, including the option of installing NORMAL faucets.

After three more times of trying the faucet, I gave up and grabbed a towel.  It is completely unnecessary to make washing my hands this difficult.

I felt like hanging a sign on the mirror that would say, "Wash at your own risk.  Stingy faucet".

Monday, February 08, 2010

Closed for Winter

We have missed getting snow several times.  Instead we just get cold rain.  Very cold, just a bit warmer than an ice cube type of rain.  But twice we've had the good fortune of having our world covered in ice.  

During the last good icing we had I took a few minutes to explore my yard.  

The first thing I noticed was that I forgot to take down the hummingbird feeder last fall.  A nice layer of ice encased the feeder, keeping it preserved for the summer when the birds come back. 
When I made it over to the side yard, in the garden, I saw the bird nest still sitting in the rose tree.  Filled with snow and ice.
The trampoline we got for Christmas looked really cool.  The entire safety net enclosure was laced in ice.  When I pushed on the net, the ice creaked and the mesh moved as one piece.  The jumping mat was covered in snow and ice.  Not a good day for jumping.
If we aren't going to get a good snowman building snowstorm than I would rather it just become Spring.  I'm more than ready to be spending my days outside again.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Family Setup

A while back I put together a series of frames for the wall.  I used all black and white photos with black frames.
No, it's not wood paneling you see, this photo was taken while the frames were laying on the floor and I was planning the layout.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Breaking the Habit

It was time for a haircut but I didn't have enough time to get over to my regular barber.  I was really torn between waiting until the next available time almost a week away, or going to Great Clips near my house.

I like the barber I have been going to for the past few years.  He and the two ladies that work for him know how I like my hair.  When I sit down, they really don't have to even ask how I want it, they just cut with minimal questions.  I like it that way.  The guy that cuts my hair most times is about 150 years old, and before him, his father owned the barber shop.  Yeah, it's an old building.  Old chairs, old lights, an old heater sitting in the corner, and old men customers.  There's always interesting things being talked about it in there.  Sometimes I learn a bit about history.  Other times local politics or gardening.  I love the place, but sometimes I can't make it there before they close.

With hair resting on my ears, I decided to go to Great Clips.

When I walked in there was a family of a husband, wife, and two daughters waiting.  The three girls of the family were all getting a complete redo of their hair.  There was a separate customer waiting in a chair, she was an older lady with shorter hair.  Two young women were cutting hair in the back half of the room and music was playing quietly.  Racks of hair products faced the sitting area.  This place is nothing like the barber shop, but I sat down.

After a few minutes the hair cutting lady came over to the desk and got my name and phone number along with the info for the older lady.  She keyed it into her computer and told me it would be an hour wait.  I took her up on her offer for me to leave and come back in forty minutes without losing my spot in line.

For the next forty minutes I wished I had enough time to get to the barber shop, or that they would be open this late in the evening, but I knew that Great Clips was my only option that night.

When I got back in and the young lady started cutting my hair she asked me where I normally get my haircut.  Either she knew I didn't want to be there or recognized that she had never seen me before.  I told her that it was a totally new experience for me.  Not the haircut part, but the atmosphere.  She was a nice girl and made small talk as she cut my hair.  There was no local politics or gardening being discussed.  There wasn't any local history talked about other than the fact that she grew up in our small town.

 She held up a mirror at the end and, honestly, she did a pretty good job.  She did have to ask me a lot of questions about how I wanted my hair at the beginning.  When she did, I waved my hand over my head and said, "I want a shorter version of this".  She asked what size guard I use on the sides and I had no idea.  Maybe she could call and wake up the old man barber.  But she worked past through those issues and came up with a decent result.

By the time I left, I felt more comfortable about having my hair cut at Great Clips.  I also considered how convenient they are.  It just wasn't enough to break my habit at the barber shop.  I can't wait until my next haircut so I can tell those old men what it was like at the mysterious place called Great Clips.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Happy Birthday!!!!!

It's Tuesday!  Happy Birthday Cari!

My wife turned ** today!  Isn't that great?

I intend on making her birthday a great one today.  I guess the simple fact of remembering will help me on my mission.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sledding 2010

Since Wednesday I've heard about nothing except news about the extreme winter storm that was going to pound this area on Friday night and into Saturday.

Well what a disappointment that turned out to be. It rained a bit on Friday.  Then it sleeted.  Then some freezing rain.  In the mix was about ninety seconds of snow.  Blah.  All the rushing around to get bread, milk, and eggs for nothing.

The good news is that the ground was nice and icy.  Not good for a snowman, but GREAT for sledding.