Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thanks, AT&T!!!!

I'm not one to make myself out the be the victim of big business sticking it to the little guy, but I believe that one company does, indeed, do this regularly to customers because they can get away with it.

Quite some time ago I asked that my long distance service on my AT&T land line be turned off as I had no use for it. I make long distance calls on my cell phone. Now, it's my fault for not noticing, but they conveniently put it back on some time ago (thanks, AT&T!). So, I called them earlier in the month to have them take it off again. It's a little over $5.00 a month, but every penny counts when you're a single income family. They agreed to turn it off and credit my account for the times that I was charged (per my request--they didn't volunteer to give any of my money back to me). I knew that they wouldn't go all the way back to when they originally stuck it to me, but I was hopeful for at least something.

When I looked at my AT&T bill this month I noticed that they did take the long distance off of my bill. However, they only gave me a credit of $5.00 from the past year or so of being charged and then THEY CHARGED ME $9.15 IN FEES FOR HAVING MY LONG DISTANCE CHANGED/REMOVED!!!!!!!! (thanks, AT&T!) I got on the phone with them today and was able to get it somewhat resolved. The bottom line was that I got $50 credit--big whoop, but at least it's something. The lesson to be learned is that you have to go through every line of every bill and I have not been too good about that in the past. The other lesson to be learned is that big companies will take advantage of people if they can get away with it.

This all reminded me of one of my favorite video clips from The Colbert Report. I don't know if it's legal for me to post this or not, but I'll take a chance (I found it on YouTube). If you're my age, you probably remember that back in the day, AT&T was everything when it came to telephone service. They had taken over all of the other telephone related companies to have their own monopoly. Thankfully (please note my sarcasm here), the Federal Government stepped in and broke up the monopoly. AT&T was split into several different companies. This is also the time when companies like MCI and Sprint came along offering long distance alternatives. That's what was supposed to happen--companies competing against one another to get your business instead of one company having everything and thus the power to charge you whatever they want. So, you can understand the irony when you watch the following video...

video

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Not at Work Today so I'll do this Meme Thingy

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I rarely do Memes. In fact, I honestly don't know what "Meme" stands for. However, I'm home from work today and enjoying my freedom to do nothing. So, I'm copying the one that Judy, Mical and Kara did. Here goes...

In your entire life, have you ever ...........

gone on a blind date? You betcha. Miss Sniz was a blind date. In fact, I was the stand-in guy for the date because the original couldn't make it that day. That means that my wife married a substitute blind date. I guess that I just make a good impression on folks.

skipped school? ... Sure. One time I got an honor student to blow off class with me and we played basketball.

watched someone die ? ... Nope.

been to Canada? ... Nope.

been to Mexico? ... No, but a few years ago I was in San Diego and we took the train down the the border. We we going to cross but my wife was chicken. So, we stared at Mexico from California.

been to Florida? ... Many, many times. My parents live their half the year and I end up there on business from time to time.

had your booze taken away by the cops? ... Um...yeah. But let's just make sure that we all understand that that was back in 1987 and I was 17 and stupid. I'll comment on it more later (see below).

lettered in high school sport? ... No! All I would have had to do is go out for wrestling (since I was small in high school) and I could have had my letter my freshman year. I DID letter in band! I was a lover, not a fighter.

cried yourself to sleep? ... I have a "man-card" and I'll play it now. Sorry, never have done it.

played cops and robbers? ... Yes.

played dolls? ... Nope, just with stuffed animals--which is totally different, right?

sung Karaoke? ... Yes. In fact, I did it a few months ago at a wedding. I sang the theme from The Love Boat.

done something you said you wouldn't? ... Way too many times. Unfortunately, even those who are saved by the grace of God still have to deal with their own flesh. What a bummer.

cheated on an exam? ... Ugh...yes, back in high school I probably did a few times in a situation where everyone else was doing it (which always makes it right!). It was wrong. I was never much of a cheater even though I didn't know any better at the time. I was a pretty good student.

made prank phone calls? ... It was a passion of mine as a kid.

laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose? ... Sure...mostly milk for some reason.

caught a snowflake on your tongue? ... Probably, but mom was not big on us letting the snow get in our mouths for fear of the crud that might be in the precipitation.

danced in the rain? ... No. I only sing in the rain.

written a letter to Santa Clause? ... Just a few weeks ago and I didn't get ANYTHING that I asked for. Jerk!

watched the sunrise with someone you care about? ... No, but many sunsets.

been kissed under the mistletoe? ... Yes.

been arrested? ... Yes--and it all goes back to the question I answered earlier about getting something taken away. As much as I hated this event in my life, it was the event that woke me up. God used it to make me sensitive to the gospel. Thankfully, I was only 17 and it's not on my record.

blown bubbles? ... Yes, but it doesn't ask about what kind of bubbles. How about snot bubbles? Anyone?

gone ice-skating? ... Yes. Plus, I think I'm going tomorrow.

been skinny dipping outdoors? ... NO WAY!!! (not even indoors--but I'm not a "never-nude" like Tobias Fünke on Arrested Development).










had a nickname? ...
"Rah-JOE" is the one I remember the most as it was given to me by the father of a good friend back when I was in elementary school. Sometimes it was "Rah-JOE Rah-JOE!" These days, many call me "Rog." I actually prefer to be called "Rog."

been to Africa? ... No.

eaten cookies for dinner? ... Yes.

been on TV? ... Yes.

been in a car accident? ... Yes, but nothing all that serious.

NOTE: I have no idea where this Meme came from, but I have to think that at this particular juncture, another meme has taken over. Instead of questions about things that I've done, I'm now just answering general questions. Is there a Meme Police that I can call about this? Or, maybe just a Meme Hotline?

What is your Mother's name? ... "Mom." She also goes by "Mary."

favorite drink? ... Peach iced-tea or hot tea. It can be unsweetened or sweetened as long as you can taste the peach. I also love blood-orange hot tea...and good coffee.

favorite alcohol? ... I'm not a big drinker. but I do enjoy a quality beverage. I love tasty beers. Currently my favorite is called Xingu and it's imported from Brazil. It's incredible. But Sam Adams is my drink of choice.

birthplace? ... Ft. Wayne, Indiana (yawn)

favorite vacation spot? ... Lake Michigan, Salt Lake City and San Diego.

favorite salad dressing? ... Ranch

favorite pie? ... Raspberry!

favorite number? ... 17 (I really don't have one, but that one has significance for many reasons)

favorite movie? ... Fletch. I don't need to watch it anymore because I have it memorized.


favorite holiday? ... Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19th)

favorite food? ... Lobster!

day of the week? ... Saturday.

favorite brand of body wash? ... Once again I'll play the man-card. I use soap.

favorite toothpaste? ... I don't care as long as it's a paste and not a gel. I like the grittiness of a paste.

favorite smell? ... ozone

Do you have any tattoos? ... Elmer Fudd on my right buttocks....no, not really. I have none.

body piercings? ... No.

Do you drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? ... 4 doors! We have a van and a...wait, I posted about my cars just a few weeks ago.

How do you see yourself in 10 years? ... Hopefully with my eyes looking into a mirror.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Pic 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS...

...and a Happy New Year.

--Roger, Andrea, Wil, Baylee & Izzi.

This is the best Christmas Day picture we've ever taken and we did it all by ourselves with our OLD (often annoying) camera.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

No More Hoosier/RCA Dome

We were supposed to travel to Ft. Wayne today for a family Christmas, but our middle child had a bit of a hurling experience last night, so the three of us stayed home while our other two made the trip with other family members. It seems like there's always a fun sickness that strikes our family right around Christmas time.

Anyway, they blew up the RCA Dome today (which used to be known as the Hoosier Dome when it was first built. Here's the video...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BATTERIES!!

We have issues with batteries in our house of two adults and three children. I used to think that it was all of the kids (who seem to need batteries for everything) but I'm now convinced that it's just one--the teenager. He has an insatiable appetite for batteries. When he wants batteries he will do whatever it takes to get them. That's what led to this extreme measure...

Yep! I put all of our batteries into a locked box. Only Miss Sniz and I know the combination. It works great for the girls because now they are forced to ask mom or dad when they need batteries. Plus, I always know what we have on hand. However, the system doesn't work when your teenage son steals batteries from other devices in the house. It's incredibly frustrating when you hit a button on the remote only to discover that it doesn't have one or all of the batteries. Nine times out of ten they can be found in an Xbox controller. It drives me crazy!

But as annoying as it is, it's usually just a TV controller or something similar. It's the principle of the thing that really bothers me, but I've never felt comfortable getting all upset when it's just a remote control. Does that make sense? Well, it all changed yesterday...

I was driving home from work in the snow and freezing rain. The roads were treacherous. It was late. It was dark. I was in the car for hours and incredibly on edge (that's about two ticks beyond "annoyed") but I was dealing with things ok. I had a call on my cell phone and then it started beeping. The battery was running out. No worries. I have a charger in my car that I use all the time. I went to look for it and couldn't find it in the usual place. I must have moved it. Maybe it was in the trunk. Hmmmm.

I made it home with my phone beeping about every other minute. This is both annoying and ironic since the noise grates on your nerves while wasting precious battery at the same time. Thankfully, I didn't get into an accident or have problems with my car in the bitter cold, snow, freezing rain, dark, etc. But I still didn't know what had happened to my charger.

This morning as I was having coffee, the missing cell phone charger entered my mind again. Maybe I just managed to accidentally throw it away or something. That's when I remembered seeing another charger in the back of our minivan the other day. I'm not sure why I recalled this, but I remember at the time thinking something like, "Huh, I didn't realize that Will had a portable charger for his phone, too. I'll have to remember that in case I need to borrow it from him some time."

You see, his cell phone uses the same chargers (wall charger and home charger) as my phone and as Miss Sniz's phone. That's very handy. However, his phone has not had available minutes on it since he first purchased it in the spring. He's not willing to pay for more time to use the phone to make calls, but he likes carrying it around and playing games on it. I decided to go out to look at the charger before heading out to work this morning. If you haven't figured it out already, it was MY CHARGER!!!! If I would have been stuck in the cold, snow, ice, dark, crud, etc. last night without any juice in my cell phone and no charger, it would have been because my fifteen year old hijacked my charger from my car so he could play games in the back of the van!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can You Relate to This?

I thought of this while driving home from the Childrens Museum (that's right, while the rest of you are contemplating art, poetry, dinner plans, what's on your dvr, etc., I'm thinking of things like this). I saw a familiar license plate cover--one that we've all seen hundreds of times on the road, usually affixed to a giant Mercury Grand Marquis (no offense to Grand Marquis drivers):


I've had a lot of experience with the kind of folks who drive vehicles like this with this type of license plate and I thought that the following might be more appropriate:

It was an easy Photoshop edit and I'm guessing that many of you can relate. Am I right?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Forgive Me For Being Stupid

I suppose you could say that I'm a product of the automobile industry in the United States. My dad was the breadwinner in our house and he worked at a tire factory where he eventually retired. He took care of me and my two brothers. He paid for most of my college education. So, you could say that somehow the automobile industry took care of me and my two brothers and the automobile industry paid for most of my college via my dad's hard work. Dad was also a consumer of the automobile industry. He was one of those guys that had to have a new car at least every two years. I never remember being in an old or junky car as a kid.

And yet I've never purchased a new car. I'm not sure that I ever will. These are my cars...


They look much more beat up in real life today than in these pictures. They've been well-used and I guess that we've been fortunate to get so much out of these used vehicles.

And that's what I don't get. How many new cars does this country really need every year? I just read today that Honda was originally planning to build 1.46 million vehicles in 2009 and now they've reduced their plan to 1.3 million. GM was originally planning on building 3 million cars & trucks in 2009 and now they plan to build just 2 million. Notice that I'm not even including Ford and Toyota and all of the other automakers in the world.

It doesn't take an economic genius to figure out that the automobile industry is going to be hurting severely this year (and perhaps in the years to come). And as I can attest to as a product of the generation, it's much bigger than just the factories that make the cars. Think about all of the components and accessories and you have a huge economic impact.

In our lifetime, my wife and I have had the following vehicles:

  • 1974 Nova (ugly green with a three on the tree manual transmission--I should blog about this some time)
  • 1987 Plymouth Horizon (referred to as "The Hor")
  • 1985 Honda Accord
  • 1990 Mercury Sable (like a Ford Taurus, but uglier)
  • 1992 Chevrolet Corsica
  • 1998 Plymouth Grand Voyager (pictured above)
  • 1996 Honda Accord
Of these seven cars only six have been around during our marriage (we've been married over 16 years) and only four were actually purchased during our marriage. So why do we need so many cars? I don't see the current changes/struggles in the automobile industry as all that surprising. Am I missing something here?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gifts for the Holidays: Hidden Treasure & Costly Pearls

I'm not one to blog too deep into my own time in the scriptures, but I'll share a little bit of what I was reading and reflecting on today--two little gems (pun sort of intended) from Matthew 13: 44-46 (New American Standard Bible):

Hidden Treasure

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

A Costly Pearl

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
In both of these parables you have a person who finds something good and then gives up everything to get it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kat Storee

The other day I posted something about paperclips and received this wonderful story from Hunny Bee of "It's a Honey of a Life". You can read it in the comments of the actual post or simply enjoy it below as I've created my own interpretation of how this would look if it were written on real paper (none of the words were changed). It's an instant classic. Enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Know What You're Smoking

Central Indiana has produced a number of great news stories lately. Just the other day we learned about deer jumping off of bridges and today we have a young lady who really likes to live on the edge...





Woman lights wrong smoke in front of trooper


MUNCIE, Ind. -- Police say a Muncie woman was arrested after asking a state trooper whether she could smoke -- and then trying to light up a marijuana joint.

Thirty-two-year-old Honesty Knight was a passenger in a vehicle that Trooper Eric Perkins pulled over for a traffic violation early Friday. While the trooper was talking to the driver, Knight obtained the trooper's permission to smoke.

Police say Perkins then asked to see the cigarette, which contained marijuana, not tobacco.

Knight faces a preliminary charge of possession of paraphernalia. She was released from jail on bond, but couldn't be located for comment because no home telephone number was listed in her name.
I DO feel like it's necessary for me to point out a few things about this story:
  1. Yes, her real name (according to the newspaper) is "Honesty Knight."
  2. Of course she doesn't own a phone. She spends all her money on pot and bail.
  3. This story would have been even better if Eric Estrada had pulled the woman over.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Paperclips!!!!!

I've probably stated my disgust for Microsoft's old "Clippy" character created by the company to annoy help Office users create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc. However, I'm even MORE horked off (I think I just made up that term--it means "mad") by the countless broken or destroyed paper clips that I find all over the house. I'm not sure what comes over the kids, but I think that whenever they see a paperclip they feel the need to pick it up and bend it...or break it...or both.

The only reason I KNOW this is because I find them laying all over the house--on counters, on the coffee table, under couch cushions, in silverware drawers, you name it.

I have nothing profound to say about it all. It just annoys me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

ZAP!!!

I'm a Christian. It's the most important thing in my life and I'll make no bones about it. So as I share the following video from YouTube (and I'm only sharing the first one you see--if you follow the links to other videos you're on your own), I'm NOT making fun of my God or the church.

But I AM making fun of these guys. This is the most lame thing I've ever seen in my life. I'm not sure where to begin. First off, I'm sure it was made in the early 80's but I haven't looked into it to see for myself (who needs research when something is THIS GOOD). The lead singer overly annunciates every thing he says (too much staccato--but it could use more cowbell). There are several people in the video that look very bored. The "lead guitar" player looks like your uncle who is a total recluse in real life until you give him a guitar and then he gets weird--freaky weird. That's enough. I'll leave the rest up to you. Feel free to have fun with it. It's so bad that it deserves to be ridiculed (even in the church).

I almost forgot...

1. Special thanks to "The Jared" for showing this to me the other night at Higher Ground.
2. The "zap!" can be found at 1:56. Don't miss it.



"That's terrific, Sal! Thank you very much. Beautiful, beautiful, well..."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Indiana Deer Lose Hope Over Economy

Well, it's official. The economy is REALLY BAD this Christmas. Just the other day five deer in Northern Indiana committed mass suicide by jumping off a bridge over I-69. I talked to a few bunny rabbits in the area that indicated the family of deer lost a lot of money in the stock market. Don't worry, the rabbits are hanging in there (but I'm concerned for the squirrels).





Five deer leap to deaths from I-69 bridge

MARKLE, Ind. -- Five deer that wandered onto a highway overpass jumped to their deaths onto Interstate 69, one of them crashing through a tractor-trailer's windshield, police said.

After the animals' fatal plunge, their mangled carcasses littered the expressway to the horror of motorists who approached Friday's scene in the northbound lanes of I-69.

Wells County EMS paramedic Andy Stimpson said he wasn't prepared for what he saw when he arrived at the crash scene at the U.S. 224 overpass about 20 miles southwest of Fort Wayne.

"It's the weirdest run I've ever had in 28 years," he said.

John Salb, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said the deer may have been spooked by cars as they were crossing the overpass and jumped from the overpass, not knowing that a busy highway was far below them.

The 20- to 30-foot fall killed all five deer about 12:30 p.m. Friday, said Brian Jenks, a dispatcher with the Huntington County Sheriff's Department.

The last of the five deer went through the windshield of a tractor-trailer rig, but the driver was not injured, police said.

Late fall is a stressful time of year for deer as hunters push through fields and woods, hoping to scare deer out of their cover, said DNR spokesman Phil Bloom said.

Farmers are also removing the last of their crops from the fields, reducing the animals' food supply even as deer breeding season is in full swing.

Any of these factors could have pushed the deer onto the highway overpass, Bloom said.

The I-69/U.S. 224 interchange is a likely spot for wildlife and humans to collide. The west side of the interchange is bordered by privately owned fields and the Markle State Recreation area, which is popular with hunters, Jenks said.

The east side of the interchange, an area that's heavy with traffic, marks the edge of the town of Markle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SNL - Taco Town

Have you ever noticed that when you get into a conversation about Saturday Night Live you almost always hear someone claim that the show just isn't as good as it used to be? This doesn't matter if you're talking to an "old school" fan who fondly remembers John Belushi as a cast member; a fan who recalls the "glory days" as the time when Eddie Murphy was a Not Ready For Prime Time Player; or even a relative youngster who equates the greatness of SNL with Will Ferrell.

The show goes through phases, but it always manages to produce SOMETHING that's funny. Take this newer fake commercial for Taco Town:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Men's Retreat - Leap of Faith


This weekend my church hosted our annual men's retreat at Camp Allendale in Trafalgar, Indiana. Originally we started attending a retreat like this many years ago as guests of Zionsville Fellowship Church. However, we grew our attendance enough that we were encouraged (ok, we were FORCED--but in a good way) to start our own retreat. For the past three or four years now we've been hosting the Hendricks County Men's Retreat with our brothers from Calvary Chapel Church and Hendricks Community Bible Church. This retreat also includes our brothers from Cornerstone Church of the Living God in Indianapolis.

This is an event that I look forward to every year. We've been blessed with men who are humble and who desire to grow in their walk with Christ. I could go on and on about how blessed I was to be a part of it (and I was) but instead I'm going to show you the video from the zip line. Camp Allendale has a 70 foot tall by 850 foot long zip line on their property. They call it the "Leap of Faith." We didn't get a chance to try it last year, but this year we had 33 men signed up to make the leap--including me. What you are about to see is my second run on the zip line. I took off about a second after everyone else and shot video from my digital camera. Enjoy!


video

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cake Wrecks

There's a great site that my sister-in-law brought to my attention recently. It's called Cake Wrecks and I keep an updated link under the "Blogs I Read" section on the right of my blog. It's a great way to waste a little time. The site contains images of cakes produced commercially (i.e. anything from a grocery store to a professional cake decorator) that simply did not turn out right. Here's one of my favorites. You can just imagine the request when this cake was ordered, "I want it to say 'Class of 2007 Rocks!' and then have a fireworks explosion on it. Can you do that?"



Similar blogs include The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks and FAIL Blog. However, I'll warn you that FAIL Blog can go over the top on occasion--you've been warned (FYI, they also have a g-rated version of the site)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baby Needs What?

This is a picture I took at the Jay-C grocery store using my cell phone while visiting French Lick, Indiana a few weeks ago. If you read it like a sentence, it seems to be suggesting that your baby needs candy.

In case you're wondering, French Lick is a small resort area in Southern Indiana. If you want to know more about Frenck Lick and West Baden, CLICK HERE.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bring Back Smootsdell!!!

I've been able to uncover several sources (here's a reliable one) which indicate that the name of my current hometown of Avon, Indiana used to be known as...Smootsdell.

Apparently we wer first known as Hampton. That name didn't stick and soon we were called White Lick, Smootsdell and New Philadelphia. The name "Avon" was assigned by the railroad which plays a prominent role in the city. Apparently, someone from the railroad stuck a sign next to the tracks that said, "Avon" and we gradually inherited the name (how pathetic!).

While we are a fast growing town of close to 10,000 people (just around 6,000 in the year 2000 Census), we've only been officially incorporated since 1995. But I say, let's take back our heritage. I don't want to be a town assigned a name by the railroad that reminds me of a popular cosmetics company. Residents of "Avon" unite. Let's take back our heritage.

LET'S BE SMOOTSDELL!!!
It's totally original--something our town needs since basically we're just a bunch of new housing developments and strip malls located along Rockville Road.



Cartwheel Update #132

In case you didn't know, Miss Sniz has a very fickle back that will "go out" on her from time to time. Now is one of those times. So, we both know that the cartwheel is coming, we just have to wait a bit. Or, maybe just to be safe I'll as Miss Sniz Juniorette (a.k.a. "Bird") to do it for her. She's actually pretty good at cartwheels.

Looks like gas prices are starting to go up a bit, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

JellyTelly Launches...or...Whatever Happend to that VeggieTales Guy?

I'm sure that many of the people who follow this blog (all three of you plus the people that Rax owner Perry Knox sent over to make great comments about his restaurant--I'm just teasing you, don't get all worked up) are well aware of Veggie Tales. In fact, your kids may have grown up watching the videos or perhaps they still do.

Veggie Tales was the brainchild of Phil Vischer. While what he did was amazing, it also consumed his life. If you've never read his book, Me, Myself & Bob I highly recommend it. Not only is it an incredibly humbling story of faith, failure and grace, it's also a great book for the business community. If you have friends or coworkers who are always reading the latest success oriented business books like Who Cut My Cheese, Great to Good, How to Influence People & Trick Friends, and The 6 Bad Habits of Highly Ineffective People (I may have modified those titles a bit) then you should buy them a copy of Me, Myself & Bob--I'm VERY serious about this because Vischer puts everything in it's proper perspective.

Vischer created a Christian based media empire called Big Idea that produced quality media for families interested in teaching their kids about faith in...blah, blah, blah. Face it, if you've seen the Veggie Tales videos, you know how fun they are--even as an adult. For me, that was the greatest thing about them. I would laugh just as hard as the kids because there were things there that only a grown-up would understand and it was appropriate for the whole family.

Read the book if you want to know more about what happened to Phil and his former company. However, if you want to see what he's up to today, go check out JellyTelly.com and watch a few videos online. If you're really curious you can sign up for the free one-month trial and kick the tires around.

I watched a few of the sample videos and really liked what I saw. This time around he's committed to using the media to teach kids about the bible and living out your faith. As usual, he's doing it in a way that will make your kids laugh and make you crack up, too. I know that I cannot wait to see more of these guys...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rax Responds!!!!

A few weeks ago I visited the only remaining Rax restaurant in Indiana and had what I described as an extremely disappointing" experience. I talked about it HERE. While I can only assume that a few of you read this blog, I KNOW that many of you read this post because of the comments that I received. Many of us have memories of Rax. You can go back and read all of the comments, but I thought it was only fair to prominently display (as much as I can "prominently" do anything on a silly blog like this) the comments of one Perry Knox who actually owns the restaurant that I visited. Please read what he has to say and then I'll make a few remarks below:

My name is Perry Knox and I am the Owner/Operator of the Rax Restaurant in Anderson Indiana. I found your blog quite by accident while doing a search and was disappointed in your visit to our restaurant. After doing a little search on your blog, I came across a picture of your family (at the Spaghetti Factory) and noted that you are like myself a family man.

My Wife and I have operated this location since 1987 and work very hard to support our family of 4 children..3 of which are of similar ages to your children while our oldest is defending freedom in the US Armed Forces. I hope each day that I do not receive the phone call that every parent does not want to receive, but like most parents of service personnel, we concentrate on loving our families and understand that our children are supporting the very freedoms that allow the freedom of speech enjoyed by people like yourself and for example this Blog.

Being a franchised member of the Rax Restaurant chain, my wife and I have watched as corporate take-over and dispersal of assets have played its role in our lives. Even our downtown location has witnessed the evacuation of retail business to other parts of our city..closer to the interstate, nearer to the Walmart, etc. Still, we open our restaurant each day and greet our "regulars" who have watched our family grow and become an integral part of our community. I personally have volunteered many hours coaching children of varying economic and social backgrounds, while my wife faithfully donated her time to our church. But still, we are the Last Rax in Indiana.

Many of our employees have been here for years demonstrating the commitment our small business has to its employees and believe that we want to support those employees through the ups and downs of their lives as well.

I wanted to write to you to put a personal face on our restaurant. I took the picture that you copied from the Rax Website...I thought it may be a positive thing to do to help other Family Owned Rax Restaurants stay in business after the demise of our Corporate entity...I thought it would be a positive thing to do. This Restaurant is not a financial windfall as many may assume. Our family owns a modest home in a "transitional" neighborhood and I find myself doing more and more repairs personally each year.

I can only apologize for your poor visit that you received. I share your thoughts concerning the "old days" and wishing that things would remain as they were. We have struggled over the years keeping Logos on Cups, and maintaining a connection with the Rax Past, but we truly are a small business. You may have noticed the showcase in the Dining Room of Vintage Rax Memorabilia that we proudly display and discuss frequently with our Patrons. At one time, Rax had over 500 Restaurants and was voted America's Number One Sandwich Chain by Restaurants & Institutions Magazine.

I thought the comment that our Restaurant looked like it hadn't been cleaned since 2003 wasn't a nice thing to say, but that is Freedom of Speech. I would like to point out, however, that we post our Health Department Scores by the front cash register for review by our customers and this restaurant has received No Violations in the last 2 semi-annual inspections. We are proud of those scores. We did remodel the Dining Room in January 2008 including new Wall Coverings and Decor.

I do not share your opinion that perhaps we should be "gone completely" and I hope that day never comes. Our family puts more than just hours into this business and with the current state of the economy, we face new challenges each day. I am not so much worried for myself as I am the welfare of my children and our ability as parents to attend to their needs. As a father and a business owner, I try each day to make ends meet. Owning a Franchised Restaurant of a failed concept in a Downtown Area is a challenge enough some days.

I can only offer my sincere apologies for not maintaining those memories you have of the New Haven Rax.

Sincerely, Perry Knox
First off, I want to say, "Thanks," to Mr. Knox for taking the time to send the comment. It shows that he cares about his business, his brand and his reputation--that's just good business. While I don't have kids who are old enough to serve in the armed forces, I have a dear brother-in-law who just finished up 14 months of service in Iraq flying Chinook helicopters in very dangerous missions. I can only imagine what it's like for Perry. I, like you, have been a coach for a number of years and a number of sports. I'm a busy dad and my family is also committed to our church family.

I'm also sorry that I had a bad experience at Rax in Anderson. Maybe I just caught you on a bad day, but I'm 100% willing to come again the next time I'm in the area. In fact, I'll stop in on my way up to Ft. Wayne the next time I'm visiting family--and I'll bring my own family. I would encourage the rest of you Central Indiana folks to stop by as well. Personally, I'd love to see Rax come back. It will always hold a special place in my heart. Also, please forgive me for the tone of my remarks. I don't want Rax to disappear and the place was not dirty. It just looked...aged...and that's not bad.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Who Has the Power?

Now that the election is over and President-Elect Obama is preparing to hit the ground running as President, I've been thinking more about who really has control of this country, this world, this universe, etc. (Is there a such thing as an "etc." after universe? Hmmmm.)

Today is the 21st birthday of a young lady named Hannah who attends my church. In fact, I've known her since she was just five years old--which reminds me that I'm old. Anyway, I just found out that young Hannah has a blog called "handing Him the pen." What a great name for a blog and what a great philosophy of life to have at such a young age.

Here's the subtitle of her blog:

"Learning to give up the pen of my life story and hand it to the real Author… "
And then Hannah quotes Jeremiah 29:11 in the right margin:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
Happy Birthday, Hannah and way to go on the blog.

On a related note, I should also point out Mical's blog, Fun and Faithful Tales. I just discovered it the other day and even though she doesn't officially go to our church, she attends what I refer to as one of our unofficial "sister churches", Calvary Chapel in Danville.

Both of these young ladies are examples of how to put your trust in Christ for everything you need.

I know that I still owe you all a Miss Sniz carwheel post. I'll be getting to that soon. Since it now gets dark here in Central Indiana by 6:00 p.m. we don't have a lot of daylight to do things outside after the work day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Honesty In Politics

I've spent a lot of time lately trying to figure out what the different candidates believe and what they will do should they get elected. Usually you have to dig very deep when you want to find a candidate's position on certain issues. Furthermore, you often get the same old, tired answers to questions or the candidates don't even bother to answer them out of fear.

Democrat Nicholas G. Schmutte is running against Republican incumbent Greg Steuerwald in Indiana's 40th State Representative District (where I live). I managed to find a brief comparison of the two candidates on the Indianapolis Star web site. While this comparison didn't cover many of the issues that I'm interested in, I particularly enjoyed Mr. Schmutte's honesty with regards to three questions:

Endorsements: "My wife"
How much funding have you raised for your campaign?: "Not much."
Who are your top three contributors?: "Me, myself and I"
How refreshingly sincere.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Cartwheel is Coming

Just a few days ago in my "Obama Lowered the Price of Gas Already!" post it was noted that my wife would follow suit with Toni of In the Midst of This Season by doing a cartwheel should the price of a gallon of gas get to a certain point.

Toni (pictured here) made the original bet (although she probably thought of it as more like a flippant comment) with her husband, Carl. She agreed that if the price of gas fell below $2.50 a gallon she'd do "cartwheels in the road."

A week ago today her supportive husband pointed out the "$2.49/gallon" sign at the front of a BP station and Toni made good on the bet. Accountability in a marriage is important and Carl is setting the right example. We should all rally behind him.

So, when I mentioned this fun fact to my wife, Andrea (also known as "Miss Sniz" in the blogging world) she said that she'd do a cartwheel if the price fell below $2.00 a gallon. Imagine my surprise (and hers) when I saw this headline in the paper today:

Bargain In Brownsburg: $1.99 gas

I'm quite certain that a video of this event is in order and I'll follow up with it in a few days. While you're all waiting, go fill up your tanks if you live near the west side of Indy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ladies...Because You KNOW You Want To...

...Pee standing up.

That's right. You've been envious of men for all these years because we can easily take care of #1 in the woods, behind a building, between two cars or in the middle of a street. But now you can pee standing up, too, thanks to the "pStyle" (WARNING: Picture of woman peeing while standing up.)

The pStyle comes in an assortment of pretty colors (because that's important when you're urinating). Be sure to read the testimonials. You'll see where there are some practical applications of a device like this (like camping and dealing with horrible public restrooms), but it seems like a lot of them have to do with heavy drinking or women who want to be men. Go figure.

Special thanks to "Sullivan's Mom" for sending this link to me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Phun With Photoshop

I'm kind of a Photoshop hack. I use it a lot at work and know my way around well enough. If I need to do something that's really tricky, I'll call a real graphic designer to help me out. Anyway, here's a before and after shot of me after I ate wayyyyy too much food at The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Indy...

(before)

(after)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama Lowered the Price of Gas Already!

I just saw an ad last night from Senator Obama and he's promising to take on the banks and the big oil companies. I'll be really excited to see what he does with the banks because he already fixed the problem with the big oil companies gouging the little man--and he's not even in office yet!!! Yesterday I noticed gas for $2.39 a gallon in the Indy Metro area. Way to go, Barrack!

On a side note, if these gas prices keep falling to the point that a gallon goes for less than $2.00 my wife has promised to do a cartwheel just like Toni had to do recently.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who Wants Free Money

My company did a sales promotion this year as an incentive to get some of our best dealers to sell more of our product. Basically, they received 5% of every dollar they spent with us towards an American Express card. It was a pretty sweet deal.

You'd think that it would be easy to call people to tell them about their FREE MONEY but that was not the case. We've all been programmed to be so skeptical of everything (and I'm guilty of this, too) that we have no patience for anyone on the phone. Out of the twenty people that I called today, at least half of them had secretaries who told me that the person I wanted to talk to was, "in a meeting," "not available," "busy," "playing solitaire," etc.

Once I finally got them on the phone and they made the connection that they have been out on the streets selling our product and were going to get rewarded for it, they were pretty happy. There's nothing like giving a bunch of money away.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Getting Cheered Up By My Teenager

My almost-fifteen-year-old walked into the house the other day and stared down at me while I was working on my laptop. His gaze was fixed just above my eyes and you could see the moment of inspiration turning into an actual thought and then words (I'm pretty sure there was some smoke coming out of his ears):

"Hey dad, you almost have a uni-brow."

Thanks, son.

On a somewhat related note, I've always thought that it was sad that Bert had to go through life with that monster uni-brow while poor Ernie had no eyebrows whatsoever.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe The Plumber - Finally, a Reason

I've been less than enthusiastic about the upcoming Presidential election, but late in the process the McCain campaign has given me a little more hope. It's in the form of the infamous "Joe the Plumber."



Do you know this story? Joe the plumber is a real guy. He's a plumber and is in the process of owning his own plumbing business. It just so happened that Barrack Obama was in his neighborhood and took the time to talk to the people. Joe asked Senator Obama about his tax plan that would tax him more if he were to make more money, thus making it harder for him to grow his business. Senator Obama's response was that it was ok to "share the wealth" a little:

Here's a great Opinion piece from Michael Barone in US News & World Reports:

CLICK HERE!

This is the major difference between Obama and McCain and continues to be one of the differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

At some point after the Obama - Joe the Plumber meeting, Joe was interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America:



If you needed a rallying call to get behind a candidate, here it is. If you support the socialist idea of sharing the wealth, then Obama is your man. If you don't then pull the lever (or push the button) for McCain. It's an important choice to make.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Have a Scream

I continue to go through some old videos that I made a few years ago. It's nice for some of these to be seen and it's my hope that I will start making some new videos for this here blog. This particular piece was put together for The Daily Journal which was the precursor to my blog (read more about TDJ here), Uvulapie's blog and the Java Jesus blog. We're sort of like a three-piece Beatles without the big break-up, Yoko, one of us getting shot, musical talent, and all of that notoriety.

Howard Dean's Big Day or The Scream Heard 'Round the World

It was January 19, 2004 and Howard Dean, the early Democratic party front-runner for President of the United States, had just won the coveted Iowa caucus. After such a strong showing and total victory, the rest of the campaign trail would only be a formality for Dean's quest for control of the White House...

No, wait...that's not right. He got second place in the primary and was just barely nudged out by John Kerry who had virtually no shot at the nomination. In fact, there was probably something wrong with the vote counting and...

Hmmm....that's still not it. Oh, I remember. Dean was supposed to win this primary and was the favorite for the Democratic nomination (and it was a given that any Democrat would easily defeat President Bush) but he finished third--behind John Kerry and John Edwards. What follows is his "victory" (or "3rd Place") speech given to his supporters on the night of his big night. More than likely, you've all heard and/or seen this triumphant, brief speech, but I added some visual references using Microsoft's free Windows Movie Maker program and Google's image search feature.

Enjoy...

video

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sleeping Izzi

Here's another video I put together a few years ago (can you tell that I'm going through some old files on one of my computers?). Our youngest was one of those kids that could fall asleep just about anywhere. She's still the gifted sleeper in our house and the rest of the kids are pretty jealous that all she has to do is lay down in her bed and she's out.

Enjoy...

video

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Congratulations Jared & Maggie

In just a few days a very good friend of mine is getting married. Through the years I've been his youth director, mentor and these days, just a friend and brother in Christ.

He is known by most folks as "The Jared," and he has graciously asked me to be in his wedding. Many years ago, he had a job in the operations center where I worked and one of his regular jobs was to deliver mail and packages around the building. Since I had a surveillance system sitting at my desk with a camera pointed out of my cube, I'd occasionally come up with some good video. When extra time and creativity took over, I'd make a movie, like this one. Enjoy...

video

Congratulations, Jared!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rax Revisited

Does anyone else remember Rax Restaurants? Just a few days ago I was driving through Anderson, Indiana and decided to stop in at one of the last remaining Rax locations.

In it's heyday, Rax was sort of like Arby's but better. They had a great salad bar and a pasta bar along with tasty roast beef sandwiches, shakes, chocolate chip cookies, etc. My love for the company took off when I worked at the store that used to exist in New Haven, Indiana (my home town). Ironically, today that Rax is an Arby's.

Besides the food, I have great memories of working there with friends (for instance, Uvulapie and I worked there together) and having my first significant religious experience (I'm serious--and, no, it didn't involve seeing the face of Elmer Fudd in a tortilla--that happened in a bathroom at Walmart.). While some people answer "altar calls" at a church, I did so at Rax.

Many of you have probably had the experience where you make out something from your past to be better than it actually was. This was not the case in 2003 when some co-workers and I ventured up to Anderson for a Rax visit during an extra long lunch hour. Rax was just like it was when I left it. The BBC ("Beef Bacon and Cheddar") was tangy with crisp bacon. The thick cut fries were perfect and the inside of the store looked just like the one where I used to work. They had the things you sort of expect when you go to a fast food restaurant--like napkins, cups and french fry boxes with the company logo. The place was clean and there were plenty of people inside.

I hoped that this visit would be just as good, but I was extremely disappointed. The Rax looked exactly like it did in 2003...and in 1989. It didn't look like it had been cleaned since 2003 and the place looked stale and desolate. The Rax branded paper cups, french fry boxes and straws were replaced with the generic ones you get from Sam's Club. The food was...not that great. Perhaps it would be better if the place was gone completely so I wouldn't be so tempted to come up and relive a few moments from my youth.

In recent months, the "Rax" trademark has been purchased by a man named Rich Donohue. Believe it or not, he used to work at a Rax as an employee just like me. Later in life he bought one of the remaining stores and then he bought the trademark for the company. The name of his company is From Rax to Rich's--that's actually quite clever.

My selfish hope is that somehow this company will rise up again in the crowded fast-food industry. If you remember Rax or even still have one in your area, please let me know.

Here's a reel of some old Rax commercials I found on YouTube...enjoy!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Triple Duty for the Tooth Fairy

This may not be one of my more witty posts, but it's something I want to remember. Last night "Snip" (my almost ten-year-old daughter) came down and showed me a tooth that she had just lost. That's not too out of the ordinary when you've got three pre-pubescent kids running around the house.

A few minutes later, "Bird" (my 11 year old daughter) came down and told me that she had a tooth that was really loose and wanted to know if I'd help her remove it. This is strange because I could never do this as a kid (i.e. have someone yank my tooth out) and none of my other kids would ever let me mess with their loose teeth. It took a few yanks, but it came out--and so did some blood. Within a few more minutes, "Snip" came down with another tooth that came out.

For those of you keeping track at home, that's a total of three (3) teeth in one evening. That makes for a busy, expensive Tooth Fairy outing since the going rate at our home is $1/tooth. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew these teeth were actually loose, I'd suspect that I was getting taken--I mean, that the Tooth Fairy was getting taken...but I guess it's not possible to fool the Tooth Fairy, right?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Financial Advice from a Big Doofus You Can Trust

I saw two things online today while paying one of my credit card bills.

1. Checking "Recharge"

First off, this brilliant piece of financial advice from the folks at Discover Card. If your bank checking account is low, you can just "recharge" it with a cash advance from your credit card. It's just like recharging batteries. Your AA's were emptied of power, but all you had to do was stick them in the charger for a while and...ZAP!...they work again. I've had more than a few occasions where the old checking account was low. Why didn't I think about this. Next question: What do I do when my remaining credit is low? Can I "recharge" that, too? Sadly, I guess the answer to that question would be, "yes" as long as I do it from another card. I'm no financial genius, but I think this is the kind of stuff that has gotten our country's economy in jeopardy today.

2. Make a memorable PIN for my account.

It goes without saying that we should take the time to come up with a Personal Identification Number that's secure and easy to remember (of course, this PIN is for getting stupid cash advances on a credit card for things like "recharging" your check book). But this guy is REALLY getting into it. I'd pay money (or perhaps get a cash advance and pay the fee to do so) just to know what he's pondering and how it helped him to come up with such an incredible PIN.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Worst Fundraiser Ever

Scott over at Honey, I Fed the Kids came up with a unique idea to raise money for our struggling banks--send all of our kids out on a door-to-door fundraiser. It seems to work with just about every organization we belong to.

However, these fundraisers can also be quite annoying and odd. First off, in many cases you're already shelling out a lot of money and time so your kids can play baseball, softball, dance, etc. There's nothing like the guilt trip they give you to sell overpriced candy, unwanted candles, etc.

But the worst fundraiser ever has to be our local community sports club that insists on forcing us to sell trash bags every year. Yes, I said TRASH BAGS. I guess they just gave up on the idea of trying to be creative and figured that everyone needs trash bags, so they might as well buy some really expensive ones to help the kids out with their baseball, basketball, football, jai alai, rugby, javelin throwing, etc. Or, maybe they just figured out that all of the other things they were trying to sell ended up in a trash bag anyway and decided to sell what the people actually use. I really don't know.

What I do know is that every year during baseball/softball season (and then with basketball if the kids end up participating in that, too) I have an order form for the white kitchen bags or the yellow garden bags.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Reader's Digest Reinvents Itself

A few year's ago Reader's Digest changed the font of their nationally recognized masthead to reflect the times. They've gone a step further in recent months with the addition of stories on the latest technology to reach the younger generation.

But finally they can honestly say that they have their hands on the pulse of their readership. After over 90 years they now understand what their readers want and where they read the publication...



























(If you're a Reader's Digest reader, this makes perfect sense to you. If you're not, think about where you were the last time you saw a copy of it.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Goodbye Work Forever!!!!

That's right. I'm quitting my job today and telling everyone that they can kiss my foot because I just won the "CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY"...or, maybe it's the "WESTERN CANADIAN LOTTERY (LOTTO LORE) UNITED KINGDOM." I can't figure it out, but I know that I won it and I won big because I got the e-mail letter today. Who would have thought? I don't even remember entering it. Here's the "proof":

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY INC.2008.
Western Canadian Lottery (Lotto lore)
United Kingdom

Dear Winner,

We happily announce to you the result of the National Lotto 6/49 lottery draws Held on Mon ,Sept 29th 2008- Lotto 6/49 , in Essex United Kingdom and Ontario, Canada. All participants were selected randomly from World Wide Web site through computer draws system and extracted from over 10,000,00 companies and personal e-mail addresses. Your e-mail address attached to ticket number: B9564 7560 4545 100 with serial number 046560 drew the winning numbers 5- 21 -35-38 -47 -45 Bonus 43,You have therefore been approved to claim a total sum of US$820,000.00 in cash=2 0credited to file EAAL/9080118308/04. Please note that your lucky winning numbers fall within our African booklet representative office in AFRICA as indicated in your play coupon. In view of this, your US$820,000.00 would be released to you by an accredited commercial Bank in Africa.

Thanks, for quick and urgent release of your fund, fill this informations below and contact our claims agent is as
FullName:…………………
Contact address:……………
Phone numbers:……………
Dirth of birth:………………..
Age:…………………………
Nationality:… …………….
Occupations:………………..
Winning numbers:………….

Contact information of our claims agent is as Follow: -
Name: MR.PELL CHRIS
Email: verification.office31@yahoo.com
Tel: +2348036531971.
Yours Sincerely, Mrs. Cathrine Hall Customer Service : 680 NCA 85914
Since I'm such a big winner now (notice that the letter was addressed, "Dear Winner") I figure that I need a nickname other than "Big Doofus." So, I'm going to go with "Dirth of Birth."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Government Waste

While Congress is considering a $700 billion bail out to refuel the nation's economy, I cannot help but be reminded of some government spending that really irks me:

The United States Postal Service - Why do they advertise? Not only does the Federal government spend money on media air time and print advertising, but there is also money spent on creating the content for this advertising. I work in marketing and I KNOW that this stuff is not cheap. Think about it. Why does the post office need to advertise? Americans with any type of physical address or P.O. box get mail every day. When I've finished composing a letter I don't stop and wonder how I'm going to send it. I put it in an envelope and walk 20 yards to my mailbox to send it. I don't need to call anyone to pick it up or do anything special (other than stick a stamp on the envelope--and these days I don't even have to lick them anymore).

The Lottery - I realize that this is a state government issue, but it's another example of government spending gone wrong--and it also has to do with advertising. Again, I ask the question, why does this arm of government advertise? If people stop playing the lottery, then let it dissolve. It seems ironic to me that the government would spend money to entice people to gamble. I'm not so much against the idea of gambling a dollar or two on the lottery (although I've only played it a few times in my life), but why do we have to spend money reminding people about it?

Ok, that's my rant. I promise to get back to more meaningful topics like cardboard boxes and McRib sandwiches.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back

I spent a week in Atlanta on business and I'm just now getting back into the swing of things. I haven't posted much this month as I've been preparing for a trade show and then actually attending it. It's a lot of work.

I guess there's another reason for my lack of posting lately. While I have nothing to hide (hence the blog), I accidentally posted the name of it in an email that I sent to my entire company (we're a small company of about 20 folks). It's no big deal as some of them knew about it already, but it was nice to have a work life and then sort of a private (although it's on the web for all to see) life with the blog. Thankfully, I've never said anything bad about my co-workers....UNTIL NOW!!!!! It's time for me to rip them all a new one.

Actually, I love my job and the people I work with. My guess is that everyone there really loves the environment, the work and the entrepreneurial spirit. We're fortunate to be a small, thriving company in an economy that's certainly seen better times. For those of you at work who are reading my blog, welcome. I doubt that there's much here about me that will surprise you--other than the fact that I wear women's clothing when I'm not in the office.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Precious Sounds from the First Floor

This morning I sat in my bedroom and worked on some last minute work items before heading out of town on business. The door was open and I could hear everything that was going on while school was in session with my wife and two girls.

It brought tears to my eyes.

The youngest was about to be given an answer to a problem and then she interrupted (in a good way) her mom because she wanted to figure it out on her own--and she did. A few minutes later they were running around the house (with permission). When my wife called for them to stop, they had to recite the scripture verses that they are memorizing this week. These verses are going to be stored away in their hearts and it's precious to me as a dad. Finally, I heard them singing the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy.

I am so thankful for the education that my girls are getting and for the work that my wife is doing with them. In case you're wondering, my oldest is now a freshman at a public high school and we've been pleased with his progress so far. It's still a work in progress, but he's applying himself and learning a lot about himself.

So, just thought I'd share a bit about life in our house--in case you cared.