Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What are you Reading?

I'm reading Captain James Cook's journals starting with his first voyage around the world.

At times, it is a lot of description of islands he encounters.  Other times it is lists of longitude and latitude coordinates. Then there are the moments that he lists the time of day when something happened or the depth of the water at a specific point.

It might seem like a dull read on the surface but this is one of the best adventure books I've read.   Using technology from the 16th century they load a wooden boat full of men and make their way around the world.  With wind, tides, and ocean currents powering them.

Along the way they discover new land and meet natives in places that had not previously met Europeans.  Captain Cook describes their near shipwreck along the Eastern coast of Australia as they discover the Great Barrier Reef.  At one point they had more water rushing into the boat than the mechanical pumps could handle.

On the shores of Eastern Australia, Cook describes finding an animal that is the color of a dog but moves like a hare.  The larger ones are the size of a sheep.  After the English explorer describes the Kangaroo in more detail he then proceeds to tell you how they taste (yummy!).

When they approach a port in the East Indies he swears his crew to secrecy about where they have been and he collects all of their journals.

The best part of this adventure story. . . it's true.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Back Up

For years I've been backing into parking spaces and sometimes taking two tries to get it just right.
Not anymore.  Thanks to a back-up camera I don't even have to turn around to do this on the first try.
I didn't think I would need or use a back-up camera.  But that was before I had one.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don't Tell God

Saw this on a church sign while driving to work:

Don't tell God how big the storm is. 
Tell the storm how big your God is.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Saturday was just a rainy day from sunrise to sunset.  We spent a few minutes in the morning sitting on the porch watching the rain and suddenly a hummingbird appeared at the feeder.  Wouldn't it be like Honey I Shrunk the Kids with giant balls of water knocking these guys out of the sky?

Either they are quick enough to evade the water in the sky or it just doesn't bother them.   In this first photo you can see some small drops of water on the top of head, in front of his eyes.  Also a few beads of water remain on his beak.

This butterfly bush is also next to the feeder.  When the hummingbirds patrol the area around the feeder they often sit among these flowers.

The butterfly bush is a favorite of hummingbirds butterflies but they usually come around on sunny days.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Power Grid

Power outages are my excuse for not posting a blog yesterday.

It only lasted just over an hour but it was long enough to see the effect on the children.  "What do you mean, no wifi?"  "What are we supposed to do now?"

After twenty minutes things had quieted down as the kids started to accept this new reality.   I was reading on my tablet (and kept one eye on the battery level).

When the ordeal ended I head screams of joy as the kids realized the power was back on.  

Later yesterday evening we played a game of Power Grid.  It seemed fitting to play it on the day we lost power.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Decades later. Still tasty.

It had been years decades since I've had one of these apple pies. 

Tonight I found two of them in my bag when I brought McDonald's home for the kids. Checked my receipt and found them on there for no charge.  I was later told by Amanda that they throw these in when you get a large (which I didn't realize I had ordered).  She said she's been throwing these away when she goes to McDonald's.   What? What?

These things are delicious! I will probably order one next time I go back. I can't believe I deprived myself of this goodness for so long. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Technology Wins

I was getting to leave work and checked my phone as I walked to my car.  In one box was the amount of time it would take to get home.  It's always there, and I usually ignore it, but today it caught my attention because it was written in red.  

I clicked it open and noticed three accidents on the interstate between work and home.  Thanks to Google I was able to avoid this mess and take an alternate route home.  

The beautiful part of this was I never asked or searched about traffic.  The information was just there for me.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How Much for These Bananas?

There are not too many places that we shop where we are expected to haggle a price from the salesman.  I don't go to Publix and start asking the produce manager how much he is willing to take for this bunch of bananas. When I get a haircut I don't tell the barber that I only have $5 and I know that he can afford to cut my hair for that amount.

When a dealership writes $32,000 on the windshield of a new car shouldn't that be the price?  We've all been taught that the number on the windshield is just an over inflated starting point.  So why the games?

We've been looking at cars and went to a dealership to look at new car.  It was a 2013 and with the 2015 models coming in the next month we thought we'd see what they have to say.   The salesman told us several times how desperate the manager is to move on the '13 models.  So we went in to see what he could do. The salesman said he would make us a great deal.  He sat down and told us $30,000.  That's after rebates and discounts.  Really?  $2,000 off that windshield price is a "great deal"?  I don't think so.

We told him we didn't have time for this game and that his great deal wasn't all that great.  He asked us to sit down and he went to talk to the manager (didn't see that coming, did you?).    They came down a few more thousand on their third offer and I was getting annoyed with this process.  Cari and I offered a very low price that they wouldn't take.  We decided we had enough and left.

I'm sure there are people that enjoy that process and want that sense of winning when they "beat" the dealer but it just doesn't make sense to me.  The dealer is running a business, I get that, so he needs to just be honest and say, "Here's the money I need on this car".  Then I can decide if that's a fair price.   Instead we play this game of "$30,000 is the lowest price ever." followed up ten minutes later with "$27,000 is the lowest ever price.".   This game makes me feel that you are untrustworthy since you didn't offer your best price to start off with.

I think that's why I like Carmax.  There are plenty of people online that don't like their business model and people that feel they can get a better deal.  That's all good, but I like knowing that the listed price is the price.  We can trust each other from the first moment and move forward with selecting a car.  If you don't like their price then find the car you want somewhere else, no problem.

Carmax knows how much they need to sell a car for to get the money they need to make a profit and the customer knows what they are getting.   Just like picking a bunch of bananas in Publix.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Commotion

We were behind the house and started to hear a lot of commotion from the front of the house.  Cari and I went to the front porch and heard two birds just going crazy.  After just a minute we had spotted both of them.  One of them was on a branch very close to us and was watching us closely as he cried.

Both birds were a light grey color with a small black patch on the head.  These are sometimes called "Cat birds".   We didn't see any nests but the birds were very irritated we were there.

We eventually got bored with the noisy birds and went about our day.   A little more than an hour later the kids came and asked what all the noise in the front trees was about.  We went back to check again and found the same two birds continuing their fits.  

This time we noticed a baby bird tucked away on a lower branch.  I got my camera and started to photograph what was happening.

That's when I noticed it.  The eye of a cat hidden away in the flowers.

The mystery solved.  It turns out the commotion was just some birds trying to harass an innocent cat enjoying a beautiful summer day.  

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

YouTube of the Week

Cari and I watched the movie This is 40 over the weekend.   We both enjoyed the movie and this YouTube clip was one of my favorite moments from the movie.

I've watched this clip nearly a dozen times and I still laugh every time I see it.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Race Home!

During our family vacation last month, my friend was on vacation with his family.

It happened that we were both heading home on the same day and both had the goal of driving straight home.  We were in Florida and he was out west somewhere.  I texted him, "Race you home on Saturday".  

He didn't think it was fair because they had farther to go.  The next morning he texted me.
"If you are home by 8pm you win.  If I'm home by midnight, I win.  If we both make those times, it's a tie."

Kids!  Get in the car!  We got to get movin'!

Throughout the day we would text from rest areas and bathroom breaks.  We were both tracking on our goal but with every potty break I was getting closer and closer to the edge.  

With 30 minutes left to drive my family begged me to stop at the convenient store for snacks.   Are you kidding me!!  I'm not stopping, we were too close on time.  

At 7:45 I texted a family photo from in front of the house.  We made it!

At 11:30 he texted me that he made it.  

Would I have made it by 8 without the prompting of a race?  I don't know.  Maybe I would have stopped for snacks twenty minutes from home.  

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Eye to Eye

On my way to work last week I was headed down a highway at about 60 mph.  It was quiet and there weren't many other cars on the road yet.  As I sipped my coffee and put the cup down something caught my eye.

I was looking at an adult doe and she was looking at me.  She was on the shoulder of the road facing as if she was about to cross the highway.  I was much too close to her to stop but I did begin to slow down.

As I changed lanes to put some distance between us I was talking to her and our eyes were watching one another.  "Please don't come into the road", I begged her as there were less than two car lengths between us.
At the last second she turned and ran back into the trees.

This was not the first deer I have encountered on the road, but usually I spot them much quicker.  If this happens again it seems like having a staring contest is a good strategy.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Don't Purchase That

No need to buy a brand name slip-n-slide.  The only reason you may need one of those is to keep water on the slip-n-slide that you really want to use.

Just go to Lowe's and purchase a roll of that long plastic, spread it out on the grass you want to turn into a mud pit, grab some dish soap from the kitchen, turn on the hose, and have fun.

Here's what we discovered.  Given the option nobody would use the shorter store bought model.  
 But putting that blue store bought one next to the home made model made keeping it wet much easier:
 The next evolution of our slip-n-slide was adding a tarp at the bottom to collect the water.
We didn't change it much at that point, we were too busy having fun.

Afterward we started discussing ramps and other features to be built next time.  It's going to be a "hey y'all, watch this!" kind of moment!

Warning:  If you are over the age of 30 there is a good chance you will be hurting for a few days after your fun.  Slamming your body down to the ground for a few hours so that you can slide at maximum speed won't hurt . . . until the next day (and the day after that).

Tuesday, July 01, 2014


It's been great to be able to get out and get some hiking done over the past few weekends.  I'm really hoping this trend continues!  We are still trying to choose moderate trails as we work ourselves back to better condition.  This week I stated my goal was to hike the Hospital Rock trail in Jones Gap state park.  It is listed as one of the toughest trails in the state.

Unfortunately, I was informed this week that the trail has been "indefinitely closed" due to mud slides last year.   That term doesn't give me much confidence that I will be able to get on that trail anytime soon, or possibly ever.  But I didn't let that get me down.  I'm going to keep training for this difficult trail with the hopes that volunteers can work to do some repairs and open it back up.  When they do, I'll be the first one out there.

This past weekend we headed up to Keowee Toxaway State Park.  There are a few great trails in this park and it's not a very well known park so you can usually hike it without seeing many people.  Another good thing about this park is that its trails are not closed.
The trail totaled about four miles and wasn't too bad of a hike until the end.  That's the part where you have to hike straight up the side of a mountain where you parked your car.

We had great views of the lake from high up on some rocks.
Some of the wildlife we discovered along the trail included snails.
Getting out to this park was worth getting up early on a Saturday for.
At this point we may have graduated up from moderate and are ready for something more challenging.