Saturday, September 29, 2012

Marching Band

Along with football starting up comes marching band season.  
 They all put it in a lot of work every day after school and the results are showing.  Today they are performing at their second competition of the year and it was their best show yet.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Blogs may get a little harder to post for the next week or two but I think I can find a way.  My computer hard drive decided life wasn't worth living and gave up with a slight burnt electronic odor.

While discussing the options of fixing the computer with Cari and trying to find a way to save some money, Meredith asked,  "are we poor now?"
"Baby", I answered, "we've always been poor."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Abusive! *EXCLUSIVE*

Naked Photos of the Queen!  *EXCLUSIVE*

*EXCLUSIVE* interview with Nancy Drew!

*EXCLUSIVE* documentation about the fall of Rome!

News outlets love to get an exclusive.  Day after day of covering the same thing and looking for an edge over the competition is tiring so when they can get an edge over their neighbor they take it.

But what is the proper use of the word "exclusive"?  If a reporter is the first one on the scene of an accident is he providing you exclusive coverage?  I suppose by definition he is right.  But when the second news truck shows up ten minutes later is he going to change his headline?

To me, it's an exclusive if a news outlet has obtained information that is not available to anyone else.  Maybe they purchased the rights to a photo.  Maybe they interviewed someone that agreed not to talk to anyone else.  Maybe the news outlet obtained a personal document that is not available to the public.

All the things I just listed are legitimately called EXCLUSIVE.

Going to the local high school football game and writing about it on your blog is not an exclusive.
Reporting on publicly available documents is not an exclusive.  I know the definition says:

Definition of EXCLUSIVE
: something exclusive: as
a : a news story at first released to or reported by only one source

I just feel like that use is abusing the word.  I feel like sometimes people are just using the term for the attention.  It makes them feel special.

So here's my Duck Notes EXCLUSIVE!  

Adding EXCLUSIVE to your story that isn't truly exclusive does NOT make you special.  It doesn't give you an edge over the competition.  What it does do is devalue the impact of the word.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Things in my Bathtub

Some days I walk into the bathroom at home to find odd things in the bathtub.  

Some days it's better to not ask questions.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Game

Carcassonne:  The Castle

This is the game we purchased during our recent trip.  We've played plenty of games of Carcassonne but this version of the game, The Castle, is made for two players.

The game is a tile drawing game where the map fills in as the game is played.  One player draws a tile that will have some combination of paths, houses, towers, or fields on it and plays it within the castle walls in a place that it lines up with previously played tiles.

After placing your tile you have an opportunity to play one of your pieces on the tile to try and collect points later in the game for that element.  There is a lot of strategy in tile placement and playing your six pieces.

This game has already jumped up near the top of the list for 2 player games with us.  I think as we have more time to play and figure out stronger strategies, we will enjoy this game even more.

If you are looking for a great two player game that doesn't have a rule book that will give you a headache, then Carcassonne: The Castle is one I would check out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Newlywed Trip

Cari posted a picture from our weekend getaway and someone referred to us as newlyweds.  I'm not sure how long you can be married and still use that title, but that is what this trip was like.  We had an amazing time together.

Our weekend getaway was a trip to Asheville, NC.   Asheville is a great place to get out and walk around the city.  There are some pretty unique shops to visit, beautiful architecture, and wonderful opportunities for people watching.

While doing some shopping and browsing we came across a bead store filled with cool things.  At first I was thinking this would just be a boring ol' bead store, but once inside we found beads made of all variety of stones, wood, ceramic, glass, and bone.  I found some bone beads carved into skulls and decided that I would make a bracelet.  I'm sure wearing skulls on my arm will bring me some luck!

Some of the other great shops included a soap shop, a few yarn stores, a game shop, and some shop that contains an indescribable assortment of stuffs.

Some areas of town seemed to house a population of hippies.  More and more people walked these blocks with dread locks and hemp sewn clothes.  I wondered if this group had any influence on the park rules.

When we finally made our way to the hotel we were told that our room had been upgraded.  We weren't really sure what that meant until we made it upstairs.

This hotel room was bigger than our first apartment.  Seriously.  This was a cool room to stay in.

The next morning we made a stop at the North Carolina Arboretum.  It was recommended to us and, after visiting, we recommend it to you.  We didn't take advantage of any of the hiking trails on the property, but there were plenty to choose from.  We stuck close to the formal and structured gardens on our walk.

 Our favorite part of the arboretum was the Bonsai exhibit.  There was some really incredible works of art in that area and some education on how it's done as well.  I told Cari that I was going to take up the art when I retire and she compared me to Mr. Miyagi.

I'm still not sure how long a couple can be referred to as newly weds, but after this weekend I think it's more about how happy the couple makes each other than it is the length of time they have been together.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hang Up

Why is customer service so hard for some companies.  I mean, even those people that give bad customer service are customers themselves.  Don't they think about how they would want to be treated when interacting with their own company?

So why, when you call a business, do they put you on hold for 30 minutes or more?  I'm willing to bet they have never had to call themselves.

Here's what should happen if your wait is more than 7 minutes.  An automated voice will ask you to punch in your phone number and. . . no!  Better yet, the system will use caller ID.  If your number shows up on caller ID - the automated answer machine will give you a 15 minute window of when a representative will call you back.  This solution is a much better use of everyone's time.  The company phones won't be tied up with people on hold all afternoon and the customer can be more productive in their day as well.

In fact, using the automated menu you can narrow down your question and they will have all of your info already pulled up.   When they call back it can go something like this, "Mr Smith, I see that you have a question about your bill.  What can I help you with?"

OMG this is too easy.  Pay me $1,000,000 and hire me as a consultant.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

At Dinner

me to my 4 year old: Hey baby girl what did you do today?
my 4 year old: I'll tell you at dinner.

We created this monster.  Every night at dinner we go around and ask everyone what they did during that day.  Now it seems we can only receive that information at dinner.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Life without the Internet! Seriously.

5 days without the internet.

There are a lot of devices in my house that use the internet.  Doing a rough count in my head I come up with seven items.  So when we accidently cut the line during some yard work it was immediately noticed.  The kids came running out of the house like they were being chased by a bear.  "The internet died!", said the first.  "I need wi-fi!", screamed the second.

On the second day I was still going to the computer with the impulse of opening a browser window.  Missing the internet wasn't a big deal at this point.  I started to realize how much I use the internet and how I wasn't really missing anything.   So what if I miss the latest video of a cuddly kitty on YouTube or the latest headlines in technology news.  It wasn't the end of the world and I didn't think much about it.  I found other things, probably better things, to occupy my time.

On the fourth day I started to miss the internet.  I started to miss having easy access to update my blog.  I missed those cuddly kitty videos on YouTube.  It wasn't the end of the world so I continued to occupy myself by working in the yard.   I started to think about Paul Miller while I was in the yard.  Paul is an editor for the technology website, The Verge, and this year he left the internet.  He is living completely free of the internet for one year.

I am not going to argue for living completely free of the internet.  That plan doesn't make sense to me.  Even without having internet at the house I was still using the internet on my smart phone everyday.  News headlines, social media, and even an occasional kitty video all found their way onto my phone.  Still, using the internet on my phone is much lower than if I had that vital connection to my computer.  As I thought about how we use the internet, and my four days without it, I started to think that Paul was onto something.  We don't need to go to the extreme that he did, but maybe it was time to cut back and evaluate how we are spending our time.

On the fifth day I came home from work to a house with an internet connection. I was really really happy.  Immediately after dinner I started uploading my hiking video to YouTube and logged onto a few technology sites.  One of my seven browser tabs even had a cuddly kitty video pulled up on YouTube.  Fifteen minutes later the connection dropped.  My eyes darted over to the modem to see that of the four connection lights only the top one was blinking.  The internet was dead. Again.  I picked up my keyboard with the mindset to throw it to the ground.  With a small amount of control I gently set the keyboard down and put my head on the desk.  I was ready for the internet.  I survived four days without much issue but on this fifth day, when the internet was presented to me, and then snatched away, I became frustrated.

5 days without the internet was enough.  You can survive without it but life is more comfortable with it. 5 days of discomfort is enough.  I still think that we can be smarter about how we use the internet and about how we use our time but there are enough valid reasons to using the internet to justify having it in every house. Using the internet is like having electricity in the house.  It's like having a television signal.  We don't have to have those things but we are happier when we have them.

On that fifth day my kids came up and gave me a hug.  "Thanks for bringing back wi-fi", said the first.   "Please don't let this happen again.", said the second.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Hiking section 1. Foothills Trail. The video.

With internet outages and an overnight upload time it took me longer than I had hoped to get this video online.

This video is 17 minutes long and documents some of the adventure you may find if you go backpacking on the Foothills Trail.  You may think, "My God!  Seventeen minutes is a long time!"  But please remember.  We were out there for over 24 hours and we were able to edit that down to the best 17 minutes for you.

So go make some popcorn and enjoy.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Yard Work Like a Boss

Working in the yard is serious business.  I'm not talking about getting a rake or broom out there.  I'm talking about bringing out the big equipment. 

I'm talking about snapping buried cables in half!  Well, I would have hoped to avoid the last part.

If you have ever been to our house after a big rain you would know that going into the backyard at those times required hip waders. That's why we called in the boss to drive his tractor over and tear up the back yard.  Our friend Bill can look at the yard from his chair up in the machine and see the way he wants the water to run just like Dale Earnhardt could see the air flowing over his car.

A few hours of hard work later and our yard had been reshaped.  We really appreciate all the help we recieved from Boss man Bill and his son Allen. I don't think we'll be needing those waders this year.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Friday night Football

I think I enjoy watching high school football more now than I did when I was in high school.
We have been going to every home game and most away games since last year and we have an amazing time in the bleachers cheering on our team. 
Last week the team didn't look good during the first half.  It was a little hard to get excited when the offence couldn't hardly manage a first down and the defence seemed to be sleep walking.  I'm not sure what the coach told those boys during half time but whatever he said worked.   The team came charging back onto the field and dominated the second half.  The crowd was really into the game again and cheered as the boys forced turnovers and scored.  Although we still lost the game, that was one of most exciting come backs I can remember seeing. 

Going to the games is more than just football. It's the entire atmosphere at the stadium.  It's the boiled peanuts (that I don't eat), it's the band, it's the cheerleaders, it's the community coming out to support their team.

I'm not sure how I missed this when I was in high school.  One thing is for sure, we aren't going to miss it now, so if you're looking for us on Friday night we'll be at the game.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Internet has Died!

The problem is that there are no blinking lights on the cable modem.  While performing some yard work yesterday we managed to cut the line carrying the internet into the house.  Cari and I agreed that it would have been much better to have lost television rather than the internet. 

There wasn't any kind of instant panic when we saw the cable break.  It was just a minute of thinking if we would be able to repair it ourselves.  During that quiet minute of thought two kids came running out of the house - "The internet has died!"

After my patch work on the cable failed we went with plan "B".   It's time to get friendly with our immediate neighbors.  If we can strike up enough conversation with them maybe we will get some clues to figuring out their Wi-Fi passwords.  "Hey Bill, I was thinking of setting up a new router.  What are some good passwords to use?"  I sent Randy over to find out what their goldfish is named.

I'm not sure how long it will take to revive the internet in my house.  We are all surviving so far, but one thing is for sure.  Tablets, iPods, laptops, and computers in general are A LOT less useful without that umbilical cord of the internet.