Friday, December 30, 2011

The Show

The baby (not such a baby these days) got some animal hand puppets on Christmas and Cari made an awesome stage for the animals to perform in.

We've only seen a few shows this week.  Once she gets used to the puppets a bit more I hope to get a video of one of her shows.  Right now the shows mostly consist of one animal hitting the other.  Something I believe she learned from her older brother.

Maybe we'll get Cari to write a script for the show.  And direct the show.  And be a stage hand.  And feed the actors.  And . . . maybe Cari didn't realize that she also got hand puppets for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Color coded germs

A week before Christmas the baby was sick for a night.  She was throwing up and just miserable. The next day she slept a lot but was eating by that evening.

That was a Friday night. On Sunday Cari and I both started feeling sick and spent many hours on the couch. That evening we were throwing up and just miserable. Late Sunday night the boy came down with it. Our daughter was spared the illness because she has friends. She was spending the night with a friend while the rest of the family suffered.

All this illness in the house got me thinking about the weekend.  I really thought I had done a decent job of avoiding the baby the night she was sick and even most of the next day. Apparently I didn't avoid ALL of the right places.

With the medical marvels we have in this country I'm putting in a request for a new product.  When a family member starts to get sick you give them this pill. The pill won't make them better. That's not what's important here.  What the pill does is cause the germ making them sick turn fluorescent.  That way I could walk into my kids room to check on them, see that everything near the bed glows green, and quickly evacuate the room. When the germ dies, the color dies with it. Multiple people in your house sick at once? Use different color pills.

When you come home from work and there is a yellow glow in your bedroom, a green glow in the living room, and the kitchen glows red, then you know you're in trouble. But at least you would know when you found a safe spot in your home and could avoid the illness.  Just find the patch of floor that isn't glowing.
Imagine going to work and your coworker has a nasty green glow around him. Well, maybe that's already the case for some of you, but if we had fluorescent pills, it would justify your fear of shaking his glowing hand.

Don't like my idea? What's your suggestion to avoiding the plague?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas: Before and After

Look closely and you may find a few errors in the photo because I was taking a panoramic photo with my phone.  Errors or not, the mess was real.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I used my tablet and I liked it!

When I purchased my tablet it was because I wanted one.  Not because I needed one. In fact I struggled to think of any reason why I would need one when trying to justify the purchase to Cari.

Since owning it, I have not regretted it.  I still don't have reasons for needing it, but I do use it.  I read a lot of news on the tablet in the evenings.  I watch some You Tube, and I've also started reading some books. Nothing exciting, but I'm using it.

Last week I took my tablet with me to basketball practice and had my "Ah! Ha!" moment of owning a tablet.  I was at the gym, sitting in the bleachers during practice.  There was no wifi (serious!) so I couldn't use the internet or read the news.  Instead I:

Loaded up Antipaper Notes to write some notes and draw a related sketch.
Next I turned on Google Music to play some music that was previously loaded onto the tablet.  While the music quietly played into my headphones I opened the Kindle app to read some more of the book I've been reading.  After reading for a while, I chose a different play list of music and started Google Docs and typed up an outline of a blog.

When basketball practice was over, I felt like I had accomplished a lot of things that I had on my mind that evening.  *note: all the apps I used that night cost me a total of $0.00

I actually had a productive moment with my tablet.  I used my tablet and I liked it!

I wasn't even connected to Wifi!  Imagine if I had been. . . I would have had all the distractions of the internet and got nothing done at all.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Norris Christmas Parade

Every small town wants to have their own Christmas parade around here and the town of Norris is no exception.  This year we headed down to watch their parade on a beautiful Saturday morning.

There wasn't a huge crowd when we arrived, but people were gathering around the several block long parade route down the main street.

In the parade there was one marching band, several riding mowers, a tap dancing troupe, some churches, a few motorcycles, and  a John Deere tractor!  Yes, Santa was riding atop a fire truck and every piece of the parade threw out armfuls of candy to the kids.  Seriously, we came home with more candy from that parade than Halloween night.

But the group that won the day was the public works dept of the town of Central (neighbors of Norris).  On the back of a flatbed truck was a closed outhouse and a sewer pipe.  Out of the sewer pipe climbed the Grinch and some helpers.  Some music started and the Grinch mingled around the crowd doing a dance.  As this took place, the doors to the outhouse - facing each side of the road - flew open to reveal a man sitting there, jeans at his ankles.  He was pumping his arms to the music and singing!
It's great to see these smaller towns put on fun events.  Just be warned if you try to use an outhouse in Central someone may peek in to see if you are dancing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Photo Day 3: The Results

And it's done.  I'm going to be picky picky picky about the photos I take and there are a few flaws in this one.  Chances are there would be flaws in the next one too.  Like I said last week, this was one of the smoothest photos we have taken for Christmas.  It seems like there is always a kid crying when we try to all look the same direction and smile.  Not this year!

Merry Christmas blogosphere!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pet Food

Creating and selling separate cat food and dog food is a waste of time and money.  Make one big bag labeled, "PET FOOD".   Trust me, the animals don't care.  You are only buying separate food to satisfy yourself.

Friday, December 16, 2011

OMG! How Old?

It's another birthday.  My own this time.  How old am I now?  I have to go back and look at last years blog to get a reminder.  With all this technology, I just need an app that reminds me of these things. What?  Oh!  There is an app for that!  It's called a calendar.   Maybe someone should get me one for my birthday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lost a Friend

Today is the funeral of a great friend.  Scott Layman.  His parents adopted me and my family when we moved here years ago.   Since that time we have been a part of the Layman family as they have been a part of ours.

I can't sit here and write a eulogy because I don't believe I could ever do a sufficient enough job for what Scott deserves but I do want to tell you just a bit about him.

I'll tell you that Scott was one of those guys that you instantly became friends with.  Someone with a welcoming smile at all times.  If you needed help, and Scott could help you, there was no doubt that it would be done.

Everyone that knew Scott already misses him, and always will. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Photo - Day 2 : Santa is NAKED

We took our family Christmas photo yesterday with some great results.  I think this was the easiest time we have had trying to get everyone to cooperate and smile at the same time.  As a bonus, no tears were shed during this process!

Unfortunately, I ran out of time last night to go through and get the best ones put together for a blog.  So that'll come later in the week.   I will share one preview with you today.

The faces you see in this photo are in reaction to someone in the family saying,
"I'm picturing Santa naked!"
I'll let you guess who said it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Photo - Day 1

Cari and I have been talking about doing our family Christmas picture this week.  It'll probably happen before the weekend is over.   We thought about doing it the other night when I got home from work, but one kid was grumpy, one kid was busy, and the third one was dirty.  We decided to wait.

I'm arguing a case of using individual photos this year.  We'll just staple them all together like a flip book.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Fresh Air

I woke up one morning and looked out my window to see my neighbor with a canopy in his front yard.  I didn't think that was too unusual or even noteworthy.
What I did find noteworthy was what appeared to be a computer setup located under the canopy.  He even had an extension cord running back into the house.  Not sure what this is all about but maybe he wanted some fresh air while he played a bit of WOW.  Maybe someone in the house didn't want the computer inside anymore.  What's your theory?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Three AM

How do you know when you've found a great video game?

For me, knowing I found a great game comes at three in the morning.  That's when I finally look over at a clock and realize the sun will be up in a few hours.  Even then, I contemplate taking one more turn before sneaking off to bed.   At that point I know I'm playing a great game.

Those "one more turn" games are rare.  Sure, some games will get me to midnight or one AM, but to get to three without realizing it doesn't happen very often.  The most famous 3AM game that comes to mind is Civilization (any of them).  In Civilization you're building your civilization and expanding your borders while negotiating or fighting your neighbors.  There's a plan in your mind and you need one more turn to advance your continously developing plans. 

Over the past two weeks I've discovered another 3AM game.  Minecraft.  You may have heard of it, and if not, you probably will as it gets more references in the main stream media. 

Minecraft drops you into a 3D world created of cubes and allows you to build and develop it however you please.  There are oceans, deserts, forrests, plains, snow fields, and mountains in this world.  It's great just to wander around admiring the landscape but it's better to start building.   Before you start building your first house, you'll have to go gather up the raw materials.   Getting wood from a tree isn't too dificult, but from there you'll be building tools and other items to make life easier for yourself. 

Light washes across the world as time passes from morning to night.  At night, the monsters come out and try to get you (just like real life), so I suggest you stay tucked inside during these hours unless you are prepared to fight. 

Minecraft will get a gamer to 3am with no problem as the imagination eggs you on to develop your world. As one thing takes shape it often has you dreaming of your next project. Before you know it, it's 3am and you realize you're playing a great game.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Great Things!

Google released a new app recently for their tablets.  Google Catalogs.  This sounded like a total chick app to me.  Seriously?  Browsing catalogs for stuff I'm not going to buy?  Lame.

Did I download it?  Heck yeah I did!  I figured this is the perfect app to show Cari how great having a tablet can be.
I installed the lame shopping app onto my tablet and asked Cari to join me on the couch so I could show her a "super awesome new app".

An hour later we were still shopping the huge list of catalogs and I was adding stuff to my favorites list. 

Friday, December 02, 2011


It seems like "Maximum Capacity" should be a 2 in this situation.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I don't think I have ever done tie-dye and recently, I got the idea that we should try it.  We used RIT dye with some hot water and set up our operations at the table.  I don't have a lot of photos from the activity because I was too busy making shirts for myself.    

 This was an easy activity that we all enjoyed.  The results looked great, nobody spilled any of the buckets, and  it was cheap.
BUT. . . The colors that we initially saw were faded quickly during a first wash.  In addition, the red didn't seem to set because we washed the red shirts together and they all bled into the white - making pink shirts.  Most of what we made still looks good and the kids had a great time making it and now I can say that I've done tie-dye.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I got into bed last night and immediately had the sense that someone had crushed up some croutons and poured them under the blankets.  I jumped back out of bed and stared into the darkness for a moment.

I brushed my hand across the bed sheet and felt not just a few crumbs, but a sandbox full of bread under the blanket.  What the. . .?

As I started to remove the remains of someone's snack I found one large chunk.  Again I ask, "What the . . ."?

After a bit of clean up I was able to get back into bed with the smallest crumbs remaining.  It's like having a pebble in your shoe, and leaving it there.

This morning I asked Cari what she had been eating in the bed yesterday.  "Nothing." she said.  I told her my story about last night and she acted like she didn't notice any crumbs.  "Really?", I said.  "There was enough bread in that bed to bread ten chicken breast"!

After some further investigation it turns out that one of the kittens had been given a crust of bread.  The cat decided to eat that snack in my bed.  This prompted a new rule in the house:

Rule 294: Do not give cats crusty bread.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some vacuuming to do.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Painting with a Flashlight

I've seen this done on Flickr.  In fact, I've seen it done a million times better than what I accomplished.  I set my camera up in a dark room just try it and see how it would go.  Making these photos was pretty easy and was a lot of fun to try.  Basically, you set your camera shutter to stay open for several seconds, I was using eight, and then use a flashlight pointed at the camera to draw lines in your photograph.  The first few times I just waved the flashlight like a crazy person, and that pretty much was the result I got.

I handed Cari the flashlight and this was her first try:

This was my last try at it:

I have some other ideas for the next time I give this a try.  One of my ideas is to try and write my name.  It will be backwards in the photo, but I should be able to flip it in Photoshop to make the letters right.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Punch You in the Face

Have you ever had a coworker that everytime they spoke you wanted to punch them in the face?  

This person isn't necessarily a bad person.  It's not always pure evil that brings the punchy feeling out.  Maybe this person is really friendly.  So overly friendly that the snake like qualities show through the smile and you know it's fake.  Maybe it's the endless posturing.  Maybe a good punch to the face will knock some posturing out of a person like this.  I don't know.  

These are some questions that I won't ever know the answers to. I don't resort to violence to solve my problems. Unlike the UC Davis campus police dept.

So how do you handle that posturing, snak-ey co-worker without a punch to the face? Stay focused on what's important. Ignore the non-sense and keep on working.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Not much to say today so I took some leaves inside for some photography. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Scavenger Hunter

I had a scavenger hunt last night at my house.  We were hunting for all things battery operated.  I know you've had this hunt in your house.  You just opened something new that needs some batteries or you want to use a battery operated item that has dead batteries.  At that point, it becomes an all out search.  Nothing battery operated is safe!

The batteries I needed were triple A.  Ugh.  Those are the tough ones.  I mean, double A are just laying all around the house.  Everything uses AA.  Everything except this wireless keyboard I'm dying to try out with my tablet.

I start my search in the living room.  TV and DVD remotes use AAA . . . I think.   After I found the two remotes, and popped open their battery doors, I realized that no, they don't use triple A.  Next stop was kids toys.  No AAA there either, but the kids complained that they, too, need some AAA batteries.

At this point, Cari suggested I run over to the store and get a package of batteries.  It would take fifteen minutes to do that and be home again.  But I refused her suggestion.

I checked the junk drawer for the third time thinking that the elusive batteries were hiding in the bottom of the drawer.  Nope.

I headed into the office and started digging through a box of random stuff in a closet.  There I found a small blinking light that clips to your belt while walking or biking.  I don't think I've touched this light in ten years.  I clicked the switch on and it started to blink.  Upon popping the cover off, I discovered two AAA batteries.  SCORE!

This scavenger hunt only took me forty minutes to come up with two AAA batteries.   These were Sears DieHard branded batteries manufactured in the 1990's.  Is Sears even still around?   My cordless keyboard worked beautifully with these batteries.

Now I know where to look the next time I go on a scavenger hunt for AAA batteries.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Late Shaver

It may not always appear to be the case, but I really don't want to be late to work in the morning. Most times I make a good effort at being on time.

That's why I was so frustrated driving to work yesterday morning. I was about five minutes from the house and tracking five minutes early to work!! I was going to be to work prior to the start of my shift. That really is something to be excited about.

That good feeling came to a hault as I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view. Two large patches of my face were missed while shaving. They were obvious. I believe the other cars around me on the road could even see them.

I considered my options but wearing a SARS mask for the day didn't seem like my best option so I turned the car around to re-shave. This time trying harder to get my entire face.

After quickly shaving, I jumped back into the car and texted my boss, "10 min late." It killed me to send that to him. I was going to be early! Seriously! I hate shaving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hello Mr. Wilson!

I looked over at my new neighbor.  He was pressure washing his house.  Then I looked over at my son. He was playing in the yard.  I looked back over at my new neighbor working on his house and I wondered if he remembers Dennis the Menace.  

The guy is older than I am and should remember the character, but that doesn't mean he does. It's funny, because this guy reminds seriously reminds me of Mr. Wilson.

My son doesn't really remind me of Dennis the Menace, but he could learn. Maybe it's time to do a Google search and let the boy see some old television.
I don't think Dennis the Menace was a bad kid.  Dennis never meant any harm to Mr. Wilson, the old man just wasn't ready for it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


The fall color is lasting longer than I had expected.  A few weeks ago, when we traveled to NC I thought it was near peak color and that it would fade in a weeks time.  I'm still seeing photos with plenty of color out there and the Greenville area of SC has magnificent color to see as of two days ago.

I think last year, by the time we got to peak color there were a few storms that blew through and knocked the color to the ground.  The photo in this post was from downtown Asheville last weekend.  There's still plenty of time to get out and enjoy the world before it turns grey for the winter!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


To celebrate being a couple for twenty years, Cari and I took a weekend trip over to Asheville recently where we stayed in a nice hotel full of hipsters.  The hotel was downtown, one block from the Grove Arcade and two blocks from the Occupy Asheville group of hippies. We were close to everything.
We spent the day walking around downtown checking out the architecture that surrounded us.  We also visited some great shops full of boards games, yarn, more yarn, and rocks.
We stopped by the Occupy Asheville protest that was busy enjoying a beautiful weekend in the park.  Once we realized nobody was going to get maced, we got bored and moved on.

There are some truly amazing places to visit in this town, and one that got our attention is the Basilica of St. Lawrence.  From the outside, you can see that this church is a beautiful structure.  But when I went inside I wasn't prepared for what I saw.

A large dome structure of ceramic tiles met us when we went inside.  The stained glass windows on every wall were very detailed and brightly colored.  From inside, you don't see any brick.  Just stone and ceramic.  It is beautiful and it was no wonder to us why the Catholic church gave this place the special recoginition as a basiclia.  (the B+W image is not mine, but shows the scale of the large dome in the sanctuary).
After dinner we headed back to the hotel room where we contemplated doing some more shopping as we watched horrible TV.  We went down to the lobby restaurant / bar for a few minutes and found the place to be full of hipsters. We immediately retreated back to our room.  Right.  So, just in case you missed that, let me say this another way.
On a Saturday night away from home, six PM,  in for the night watching bad TV and shopping for yarn and board games on an iPod.  This isn't said as a complaint.  We were both very content and pleased to spend our evening this way. Together.

The next morning we headed back to the Biltmore house, one of our favorite day trips this year, and checked out the Christmas decorations that now fill the house.  The pipe organ in the main dining room was playing on this day and the music can be heard throughout the lower level of the castle.  It was worth another visit.

While we were at Biltmore we attempted our best imitations of being hipsters. 
 After spending more than half of each of our lives together, we have become more like each other in a lot of ways.   Who else would enjoy a weekend avoiding hipsters and looking in shops of yarn, rocks, and board games?

Every day I find myself extremely fortunate to be with such an amazing woman.  On top of all the other wonderful things I can say about her, she is perfect for me.
There's nobody else I would rather share these adventures with.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Who's Scared?

Meredith wanted to be a goth girl for Halloween.  Cari helped her with some makeup and Meredith already had the attitude down pat.

I could tell throughout the night that she was really enjoying her new look.  When I pointed this out to Cari, she asked me, "What if she wants to look like that again tomorrow?"

Friday, November 04, 2011


ZZZZZ....  huh? . . . . ZZZZZZ . . .  huh? . . . . ZZZZZZ . . . . Ugh. . .

What's your morning wake up like?  Do you hit the snooze button?  Maybe you're too cool for an alarm clock. Maybe you just open your eyes, hop out of bed, and start your day without being late.

That description doesn't fit me at all. I set two alarm clocks every night.  I'm not talking about just turning two alarms on each night.  I change the times on each one every day.  Sometimes by only ten minutes.  While I'm setting my two clocks I also verify that they are set for different times, usually three or four minutes apart.  If you have a hard time getting up in the morning feel free to use all my time tested strategies.  Did I mention one clock is set with the real time and one is set roughly ten minutes fast?

So my two alarm clocks are set.  One is across the room on a dresser and the other is on the bedside table.

Somewhere around 5:00am (+/- twenty minutes) the first alarm will sound.  I promptly hit snooze and go back to sleep.  For three minutes.  When the second alarm goes off I promptly hit snooze and go back to sleep.  For seven minutes.  By the way, that's a sweet seven minutes!  Keep in mind that one of the alarms caused me to get out of bed, walk a few steps, pound the buttons on top of the alarm until the sound stopped, stumble back into bed, and snuggle up in the blankets.

This process will repeat for two to three cycles.  Sometimes I don't hit snooze for a few minutes on one or both clocks and the alarms will get within one minute of each other.  It's really annoying when you hit snooze, close your eyes, and then another alarm jolts you before you even get comfortable!  What kind of snooze lasts less than a minute?  This one minute spacing also happens with poor planning during the alarm setting phase.

As I get closer to actually getting out of bed I will turn off an alarm instead of hitting snooze and then go back to bed and wait for the second alarm to sound so that I can turn it off as well.  Yeah, I am very aware that I could turn it off without waiting for it, but that's not what I do.

Once both alarm clocks are off I'm up and ready to go.  Unfortunately for Cari, she too, is usually awake at this point.  She doesn't need an alarm clock. How many do you use?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Something NEW

The house across the street sold and someone has been doing a lot of work over there during the past week.  Not sure who bought it yet, but since the Yankees left, I haven't been able to write much about my neighbors.

Seems that we might have another character unknowingly joining this blog soon.

Randy went to get some toilet paper so we can welcome them to the neighborhood later tonight.  They just painted the porch, so we wanted to . . . say hi . . . before the paint dries.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I have to start by telling you about this first photo.  We were all sitting in the driveway carving pumpkins and I decided to go upstairs and get a photo of the activity.  I pulled out the screen, leaned out the window and snapped a photo.  Nobody was looking up at the camera.  I called down to everyone and asked them to look up at me.  One person asked if they had to smile.  I replied, "I guess not".  I'll let you decide who asked that question.
Nobody enjoys pulling all the guts out of the pumpkin.  Leave me a comment if you really enjoy that part, because I'm doubting that such a person exists.
We only bother to pull the disgusting guts out of a pumpkin because that's the way to get the seeds out.
Here's our carving work:
Happy Halloween!
I'm betting after a few hours of trick-or-treating on Monday and getting loaded up on candy, nobody will question the need to smile.