Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Table Rock Field Trip

Welcome to Autumn! 
To celebrate we took a trip to Table Rock on Tuesday morning.  One of my main focuses on our trip was getting my camera out and getting some photos.  As a result, I've got a few to share today.  

There is a new viewing platform near the falls at the trail head.  As the platforms were being built last year, Cari and I were afraid they would ruin the natural look, but they really blend in nicely and make it really nice to sit and enjoy the water.  I don't have a photo of the platform, so you'll have to take my word on this.
  A log falls across the creek and forms a bridge.  I can't resist climbing out on it. . . ever!

Some day I'll have to dig through my archive of photos.  There's a photo from years ago with Cari looking through this tree.  Now it's Cari AND Brenna.

This is such a beautiful trail.  The first half follows the creek through the woods.  Using stones to cross the river and roots to climb the hills makes it an adventure.
 Another downed tree, another bridge.  I had to take this quick because it was a bouncy log and the girls didn't like sitting on it.

 Brenna was a champ on the trail.  We let her set the pace and she was always checking to see that we were keeping up.
 I was hoping we'd see a bear in the woods today, but we never did.  On the way out of the park we did spot this turtle crossing the road.  He stopped and posed for some shots before moving along.
 This field makes a great place to get portraits done.

 Did I mention that I'm glad summer is over?  With weather like this I expect to be going on a lot more field trips!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Give the Child a Pillow!

Cari announced that she purchased a new pillow for the bed the other day.  When I assumed and then asked why ONLY she got a new pillow I was quickly shown that, in fact, she purchased two pillows.  The next question was if one would be for me or if two were for her.

Throughout the day this discussion continued.  I sarcastically stated that I would rather just get her hand-me-down pillows.

When I went to bed that night, I looked to the bed and saw one new pillow on each side.  She did get me a new pillow!

I laid down and put my head on the pillow.  I closed my eyes and tried to sleep.  Unfortunately, I couldn't fall asleep.  You see, this pillow is twenty inches thick and it tilted my head up almost forty-five degrees.  I tossed the pillow to the ground and scooped up my old one.

Cari asked what I was doing and I told her that my new pillow was horrible.  She laughed.  After a full day of fussing and arguing, it turned out that I didn't even want the new pillow.  Like a child.  A child begs and pleads for something that they don't even know what it is.  They just know someone else has it and they want it.

When you finally give in to that child, they sample the product, and then quickly discard it.

Is it just me or do we never grow out of that stage?  In any case, Cari collected her new pillow, both of them, and went to bed.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dog Management

The puppy was on the front porch chewing on a plastic bucket this morning.  The first person to catch her in the act was the three year old.  She opened the door and let the dog in the house.  I thought to myself how great it was that the baby thought to stop the dog.  Maybe it's because it was the baby's bucket.

Then my toddler walked over to the side door and opened it.  The dog ran out onto the back porch.

Hmmm...  Cari and I were still drinking coffee and had to laugh a bit at the initiative that Brenna took.

Then the puppy walked off of the back porch onto the driveway and back to the front porch where she continued chewing the bucket.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I was off all weekend.  In fact, I was off Monday as well.  As it turns out, two video games that I have been waiting for over a year to be released both came out this morning.  Guess what, I'm back to work for a solid week straight.  Not much play time there.

Maybe I should have called out sick today.  There are plenty of Civilization fans claiming to do this.  So much so that it got me thinking.  Why do they release games on Tuesday?  Shouldn't they release them on Thursday or Friday so all the rabid fans can waste away the weekend playing the game?  How big of a fan am I of Civilization?  Big enough that I spent some time this weekend reading the released manual.  Yeah, I read the manual of a game not even out yet.

Now my biggest problem is which to play first.  F1 2010 or Civ 5?

After just one more turn of Civ, and then I'll write my next blog.  Just one more turn. . .

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coffee and Sugar

"Does she drink coffee?"

"No more sugar for her after 5pm."

Those are a few of the quotes I've heard about my Cheerleader daughter recently.  She has a lot of energy.  That's why she likes being a cheerleader. She is encouraged to be loud and jump around.  Both things she likes to do.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Benton Mackaye Trail - section 2 (and 1)

Randy and I met up with Chip in the North Georgia mountains last week for our Fall backpacking adventure.  Aaron was scheduled to go but ended up sick just days before departing.

After shuttling cars to both ends of the trail we started out on the Appalachian Trail.  This was my first time on the AT and it was short lived.  Within a mile we split off onto the Benton Mackaye Trail (BMT).  At every intersection and landmark we pulled the map out of our pocket but couldn't make sense of it.  "Did you print the right maps?", Chip asked.

"Did you park in the right spot?", I replied.  Yes, I drove to the starting location, but by following the navigation of Chip.

We knew we were on the right trail, we knew we were headed the right direction, we just weren't sure where we were on the trail.

After a few hours of hiking we arrived at our lunch spot.  This is also the spot we had intended starting our weekend at.

The trail was tough.  There were lots of ups and downs as we crossed the mountains.  At the top of one peak we entered into a clearing known as "the bald".  This clearing was made by the Army Rangers for training and is used sometimes to land helicopters.  It was an interesting location especially in contrast to the hours of dense forest we had just hiked through.

After crossing "the bald" storms started to move in on us pretty quick.  We stopped to dig out our ponchos just in time for the rain to start.  Thankfully it didn't rain long, and other than some damp shoes, we survived it well.

Later in the day we were getting tired.  We were getting sore.  Our goal was to camp on the river and we guessed we were still miles from it.  From the descriptive maps we were using, I kept guessing we would arrive at another camp at any moment.  The third time I predicted this, I was right.  I prompted a vote at 5pm to stay at the camp and finish the next morning.  That's a vote I wold lose to the other two.  We pushed on.
Seven hours of hiking and eleven miles later, we arrived at the river around 6:30pm.  We crossed an amazing suspension bridge and made our camp.

 I had spent the day being diligent and trying to spot a Black Bear.  I did spot one, but only as he was running from us.  His hind legs were thick.  I would have loved to got a closer look at him.  We never did see any other large animals on our weekend but we wondered how many saw us.

Randy and I played in the river for a while before dinner.  

That night it poured rain.  I woke a few times and listened to it pounding the tent.  In the darkness I reached my hands out and felt the sides of the tent.  I didn't feel any water.  Relieved, I fell back asleep.

The next morning we hit the trail again quickly.  Only three miles to reach the car.  We were tired and ready for the car.  Now I was glad we pushed hard to make the river.  I imagine five miles on the second day would have really knocked me out.

This was one of the first major trips Randy took.  He did a great job.  There were a few times through the weekend that he got himself in the "are we there yet" mode, but he didn't complain any more than the adults and he pushed on.  At the end I asked if he'd like to go again and he said he would.  He must have already forgotten the pain he was in on Saturday night at camp.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twitter Blog

So you don't understand Twitter.  It looks like a confusing mess of random statements about what people had for dinner.

Maybe you think that way because you haven't really tried Twitter.  I recently tried Twitter and quickly found it interesting and fun.

When I signed up I had a few people to follow.  Just a few from my blog that I could now see what they were eating for breakfast.  Myself, I had five followers.  Those five were the only ones that would see the things I write.  "What's the point?", I thought.

Then I started following some celebrities and things got more interesting.  Actors from Modern Family posting pics from back stage and actresses interacting with their fans.  Even an astronaut sending tweets from the International Space Station.

I was still bored with Twitter because there was nobody seeing what I wrote.  Interaction with people was low.  Until I saw Alyssa Milano suggest that everyone follow someone, which I did.

I exhanged a few messages with that person who told her hundreds of followers to follow me.  Instantly my inbox was getting filled with messages of new followers.  I found some for me to follow and a network of people spider webbed from that.

No longer is Twitter just about what's for lunch, but that is still included, now it is an on going conversation with friendly people from around the planet.  Here is a sample of the kind of people to be found:

A man with neighbors that sleep in their yard.

The woman in the midwest that can't leave work early because co-workers guard the doors.

A lady from TN who spreads a positive vibe to everyone as she listens to horrible music in the car.

A man from Australia that can predict the future from his job as a printer.

A woman living in Australia with two cats that rule the house as she rides the train to work.

An American military woman living in Germany.

That is just a few of the interesting people that I have found that make Twitter interesting and fun for me. 

Sometimes it is hard to wrap my mind around the concept of life on the other side of Earth. When I'm headed to bed and a picture from Australia daytime is posted it can be hard to imagine.  As we approach fall, they enter Spring.  I learned long ago that is how the Earth works, and I understand that, but now I see it in real time, learning from real people.  Technology is incredible. 

So there is proof that Twitter is more than just a jumbled mess of messages about what's for lunch.  When you're ready to try it, let me know.

By the way, I had a banana for breakfast @alyssa_milano

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hero or Villain

I saw this caterpillar in the parking lot next to my car a while back.  He is one of the fattest I had seen.  I couldn't help thinking about the beautiful butterfly he could become if he could escape the 100 degree surface of the lot.  Parked next to an island, I scooped him up with two sticks.  You didn't think I was going to touch it, did you?

Safely back among the plants, I felt a good deed had been done, and I left for lunch.

When I returned nearly an hour later he was again squirming on the black top.  Again, I scooped him up and placed him in the plants, this time closer to the center.

Thinking back, I wonder, was there a predator in those bushes? Perhaps he was desperatly trying to escape.  Sometimes when we feel we are being the hero, is it possible we are being the villain?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Camp Fire on the Art Loeb

This is the third and final video from our backpacking trip on the Art Loeb trail along the Blue Ridge Pkwy.

This was the result of our lack of camp fire.  We had tried for a long time in high winds and using wet sticks.  Randy decided to get out his Boy Scout book and see if we could work on a merit badge while at camp.

PS - The cable company came and fixed the internet cable I chopped while planting a tree.  Free of charge.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Planting the Family Tree without Internet Access

Before I get started, let me tell you that this is not the post I had planned for this morning.  You should be seeing part 3 of my hiking video.  The problem is that. . . well, you'll see. . .

After a few years of talking about it, we actually purchased and planted our tree Wednesday night.  We wanted a tree in the yard that everyone in the house had their hands on planting.  Cari and I chose a white Dogwood tree  and found a great spot in the yard that needs a tree.

The kids started digging and they quickly admitted the clay to be too tough. It didn't take long before I was taking the shovel back from them.

 I started pounding it into the ground and came across a root.  I asked Cari, who was watching the action, "What do you think this is from?"  I pointed to the root in the shallow hole.  She shrugged and I kept chopping it with my shovel.  After a few chops I bent down to look at it and realized it had a metal core.

Oh crap!  I just cut the cable to the cable internet!

Randy ran inside to verify what I had done.  A minute later he was coming out the door screaming, "Dad killed the internet!"

I moved over a few feet and dug a new hole, one without wires in it.  Then we planted our tree, making sure that we all got our hands dirty.

Now you know why you aren't watching video number three.  I have no internet.  It's like living in the 80's in here.  Well, that was until I fired up the laptop, connected to the neighbors (unprotected) wifi and typed up this post.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Control the Conversation

There is so much political play involved when dealing with groups of people.  That's one of the reasons I love to watch Survivor.  I love to see how people control the conversation.  How people manage the perceptions of others.  I haven't played on Survivor, but I imagine how I would do sometimes as I control the conversation at work.

Recently, an email I wrote was forwarded to the person I was writing about.  This created a stressful moment as I didn't want to diminish the relationship with the person I wrote about.  It was going to look like I was tattling and I needed to maintain my trustworthiness.  I needed to control the conversation.

It would be less confusing if I could tell the details, but I. . . well, let's try it this way. . .

At work Bob is the boss.  Charlie is the co-worker.  I believe Charlie may be doing something inappropriate at work but it isn't my place to address it directly.  I write an email to Bob with my concerns.  Well, Bob forwarded my email to Charlie as a way of handling the issue.  It was like, "Hey Charlie, look at the perception out there."  My name was still attached to the email.

I didn't want Charlie to be upset with me for ratting him out.  I had to take control of the message.  When I got to Charlie, he hadn't read his email yet.  I brought up the concerning issue in a very light way and it was more about how others at work might perceive his actions.  I also told him I emailed the boss about it and gave a vague reason why I did that.  Then I redirected the conversation away from the email.

It worked.  He now knew I sent an email to the boss, and he heard it from me.  When we ended the conversation, he seemed good with me.

Some time has passed since this incident and all is well between Charlie and I.  I'm glad that I took charge of that conversation.  Had he read the forwarded email first, he may have approached me to find out why I had told on him.  He probably would have felt betrayed and not taken the time to understand why I sent the email.

By taking control of the conversation I was able to manage his perceptions of me and my actions.  I should be playing Survivor!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Candy Selections!

I was talking to Cari on the phone last night.  She was getting some candy from a vending machine.  This was one that you put a quarter in and get a handful of loose candy.

Cari:  I got eight Skittles for a quarter.
Ed:  Eight Skittles?  That doesn't seem worth it.
Cari: It was really more like sixteen.
(she eats some candy)
Cari: Oh! These are Reese's Pieces!
Ed: You confused Skittles with. . .
Cari: I was really wanting Mike N Ike's

She really does know her candy.  I think her blood sugar was just too low and was causing massive confusion.  You'll be happy to know she made it home just fine.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Camp Life on the Art Loeb

This is part two of my backpacking trip in the Blue Ridge with Randy.

This video shows a lot of our surroundings from our campsite.  We were hiking along the Art Loeb trail in North Carolina.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Juror in the Court

Sitting in the juror box I was beaming on the inside.  I wanted to smile. I was so excited to be a part of this.  But on the outside I managed to contain myself and look serious.

I almost couldn't believe they had called my name.  I was now sitting in the curved wooden juror seat. After twelve of us had been selected, the judge excused the unselected.  He gave us a speech about how we are the judge.  He was only there to tell us the law and see to it that the case was presented fairly for both sides.  It would be us to make the decision on who was right.  He let us know that we would be taking breaks frequently so that we were comfortable.  It was important that we were good listeners.

I started thinking that I should have a notepad to take notes, but I wasn't going to raise my hand.  A foreman was selected by the judge.  After we were randomly placed in the juror box, the foreman was selected purely based on the chair you sat in.  The front right seat was the "foreman position" so that lucky man got the job and it wasn't me.

During our first break in the jury room we were told that any requests we had - for anything - had to be written on paper, signed by the foreman, and given to the bailiff.  That was the biggest responsibility of the foreman at this point.

The trial started by each lawyer getting in front of us and giving their opening statements.  These statements were to tell us what each side expected to present to us and was a brief summary of their case.

This was just like I had seen court on TV.  It seems TV does reflect real life sometimes.

Sitting in the juror box is, in some ways, stressful.  The judge started out by telling us how critical our jobs were. He emphasized that point multiple times and told us to be good listeners and to be fair to both sides.  I wanted to be sure I did the right thing and I remained focus on what the lawyers were saying.

One thing that was immediately clear about court is that everything moves slowly.  It was nearly lunch time by the time the jury was selected and we got started with opening statements.  Every time a lawyer submitted a document into official evidence it had to be verified by three people and then logged by the court reporter.  Everything is done very carefully.  Everything is done very slowly.  I liked that about court.  I like the ceremony and the importance of every move.

Just before lunch we were sent back to the jury room while the lawyers had a meeting with the judge.  The jury room is small.  Maybe the size of your dining room with a large conference table in the middle.  There was just enough room to walk along each wall as you tried to get to the drinks and snacks in the corner.

I didn't want to drink too much because I was afraid I'd need to use the bathroom in the middle of testimony and I wasn't going to be the one asking for a potty break.

I quietly observed my co-jurors.  Some were very chatty.  Some were opinionated about EVERYTHING, and some were silently keeping to themselves.  We sat there for thirty minutes and near the end people were starting to relax around each other a bit.

We were told not to discuss the case with anyone, not even each other, and nobody did.  It was awkward a bit because everyone was thinking about the case and everyone wanted to discuss it, but nobody broke the rule.

We were allowed to leave for lunch and were told to be back in an hour.  When I arrived back at the court house I noticed one of the lawyers leaving.  Then I saw the defendant walking toward the parking lot.  I thought lunch was over.   It turns out that the two sides settled while we were at lunch.

The judge called us back in to the empty court room and he thanked us for our service.  He told us the sides had come to an agreement and couldn't of done it without us.  He said sometimes it takes getting in front of a jury and starting the process to make the two sides talk to each other and that is what happened this day.

I was disappointed that I missed the debate in the jury room, I was disappointed that it was over so quickly.  But I was thrilled to have been in the court and been a part of the process.

Being a juror was awesome!