Friday, February 29, 2008

MarmaZiggy, Garfield sans Garfield and TrackForum

Somehow, I'm going to combine all of these things together into one post. Wish me luck.

If you've read my blog over the past few months, you know that I'm a Photoshop user and an IndyCar fan (or just an open-wheel racing fan). There's a place on the Internet for dorks like me and it's called TrackForum. I can go there to spout off about the series, drivers, courses, etc. But more importantly, there's a specific forum called, "Off Topic... & Tenderloins" where we can discus all things not specifically related to the type of racing we love. A few years ago, a fellow TrackForumian made an odd comment about the merging of Marmaduke and Ziggy, which prompted me to create this:
This was back in the day before I had a blog as my own personal creative outlet (i.e. the dumb blog that you're reading now to avoid responsibility). Of course, being the humble man that I am, I thought this was brilliant.

But just the other day, I stumbled upon an idea so great that I've considered deleting my personal copy of Photoshop and throwing my laptop into the trash (which would probably get me fired since my company owns both). You take one of the country's most popular daily comic strips and remove the main character from every panel. In the creator's own words, here's what you get:

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against lonliness in a quiet American suburb.
Here's the result:

Now, go read it for yourself. I actually feel better about my life when I read this.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Welcome to the Motel Catalina

...Such a lovely place, such a lovely face.

If you're a fan of The Eagles you probably recognize the lyrics from the song "Hotel California." I'm not going to bother with a discussion on that song at the moment. However, I do wish to talk about a premier traveling destination on Indianapolis's West side called the Catalina Motel. I used to drive by this motel every day on the way to and from work. It's located on US Highway 40--also known as the "Historic National Road." In fact, my latest commute route takes me by this establishment on the way home just about every day.

While some hotels (or "motels" in this case) entice today's weary traveler with high-speed Internet access, work-out facilities and a complimentary breakfast, The Catalina Motel sticks to the basics like POOL, TRUCK PARKING, VACANCY, IONED, the world's oldest "American Express Card" logo (see the seperate gold and black sign) and my personal favorite, "COOT."

"What is COOT?" you may be asking yourself. Well, as it turns out a COOT is an aquatic bird, similar to a duck. But a COOT is a "rail" and not a duck. It doesn't have webbed feet...which probably makes sense because I'm quite sure no one would want to swim in the POOL located at The Catalina Motel--unless the water is (IONED for your protection (whatever that means).

I should end by pointing out that sadly, this sign is no longer. I noticed the other day that it had been taken down and replaced with a newer, more generic sign (but the motel looks the same). I'm not sure if they still have all of the amenities that drew them to my heart or if they still take your old yellow and black American Express Cards.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Your Blog's Reading Level

Some of you have participated in the BLOG READABILITY TEST which supposedly scans your blog and assigns an appropriate reading level based on your content. You can even place code from the site into your blog that will create an automatically generated reading level graphic based on the most recent scan of your blog (I know that many of you have done it).

If you've participated in this, then you know that sometimes your blog's reading level will go up or down. (CHEATER'S HINT: Use big words in a few posts and your level will go up. This will impress your friends...or your mom...or your mom's friends.). I'm also convinced that this site is keeping track of something. No one does this type of stuff for free, but I digress.

Big Doofus Blog has not fared so well. Below are the most recent results from the Blog Readability Test. What am I doing wrong?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Honor God in all we doo

This post is NOT an advertisement. I don't even own a pet. However, I heard about this company and HAD to check out their web site. The company is called Pet Butler and according to their Mission, they exist to "Honor God in all [they] doo." What they "doo" is come to your house and remove the pet doo-doo.

First off, kudos to these fine folks for coming up with such an original idea. I consider myself to be a very creative person when it comes to employment but this one really takes the cake--and this is NOT the kind of cake you'd serve at a birthday party. Not only is this a real business, it's a franchise. If you've got the money and business savvy, you can start your very own Pet Butler business...dealing with "business."

Many McDonald's signs still feature the counter that keeps track of how many billion people have been served by the company. The good folks at Pet Butler have taken the same strategy with their franchise by incorporating the trademarked "Pet Butler Turdometer" on the top left side of the web page. At my last count it read "44,657,149 poops scooped." Congratulations!!!!

Even if you never plan to use a service like this, you should check out the web site just for the entertainment value. You might even wish to submit your own slogan for the company.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Dreams are fascinating. If you have any familiarity with the Bible (especially the Old Testament) you'll read about some very interesting dreams that were often rich in significance and sometimes prophetic. In Genesis 28 Jacob has a very important dream:

(12) He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. (13) There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. (14) Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. (15) I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
That's pretty powerful stuff since this all became true. Jacob's name was later changed to "Israel" and he was the Father of the Israelites.

I, on the other hand, rarely remember my dreams and when I do, they seem quite bizarre. I thought I was alone on this front until Rose Starr submitted this as a comment on my blog recently:
"I had a dream about you and your wife! My family came to your house (probably to see that lamp) and my 3 year old spilled laundry soap (the wet kind) all over your carpeted stairs (don't even know if you have carpeted stairs) and your wife was super kind and understanding while I was super embaressed. Then we were out front and you went to get your camper which had your balloon animal supplies (a side job) and you made a huge balloon sculpture for us. Then your wife drove her camper up to show us her side job of making cinnamon rolls."
I woke up this morning and actually remembered the dream that I was having. This is a rare treat for me. And since I now know that I'm not the only one on this planet who has odd dreams, I'm going to share it with you all.

For some reason, I had to drive to New York City in the morning before I went to the office (and my office is in Indianapolis). I knew I was going to be pressed for time so I really had to move quickly and stay focused. I'm not sure what it is that I had to do or get in New York, but I managed to do it in record time and was on schedule to make it to work in about a half hour (it's a dream, folks--suspend reality)!!! As I was almost there I was tailgating some guy in an old car right in front of a Burger King. This is funny since I NEVER tailgate people and hate it when people do so to me. But I was doing it and I was impatient. Suddenly, he stopped and I plowed right into him at about 5 mph. Thus, it did no damage to either of our cars. However, the driver got out. He was really big and really mad. He yelled at me for being so stupid and I simply agreed with him and apologized profusely. Somehow, I convinced him to walk over to the Burger King with me and we had breakfast together sitting outside. At some point, I needed to go back in and promised the man that I'd only be a minute. But when I got into the store an old friend of mine happened to be the manager and we struck up a conversation. This was someone (but I cannot remember specifically who it is) that I used to work with in real life but had been let go. I asked for his business card so we could stay in touch. However, when he gave me the card, it was not a Burger King card but one from the company where we used to work together. Anyway, when I finally made it back outside, the big dude was no longer sitting at a table. He was playing putt-putt golf with my wife (for some reason, this Burger King had a putt-putt golf course) and they were having a blast.
That's all I can remember. I know it's strange, but I'm always glad for the occasional dream that I remember. Now it's your turn to tell me what this means.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

MAN BLOGS!!!! - Part Deux

About a month ago, I singled out some blogs written by men. Now, it's not hard to find a blog written by a guy but so many of them are just plain crude. I've been scouring the Internet for blogs of substance and character (or at least good, quality entertainment value) written by men. If you missed the first installment of MAN BLOGS, be sure to give it a read.

And now, here's the second round of blogs. Enjoy!

  • Guy and Guy - The elder Guy is an old friend of mine from Ft. Wayne where he is currently serving as the Principal of a charter school. He's a terrific dude with a great sense of humor, impeccable taste and he plays a mean guitar. I wish he'd post more often. So, if you stop by, tell him to do so.
  • James' Random, Stimulating, Missional Spiritual Thoughts - He gets the award for the longest MAN BLOG blog name. I just started checking this site out and contributing to the conversation. I think I found this one thanks to Mr. E.
  • Least Significant Bits - One of my new favorite blogs. I think I noticed that he was commenting on some of the same blogs as me and decided to check him out. He's also an incredible photographer with an affinity for bolts. Be sure to check out his photo blog, too.
  • Random Bits and Bytes - Sort of the same story as Least Significant Bits, but he also features Bytes. How could you pass up both Bits and Bytes in one blog? This was another Mr. E connection.
  • Warrior's Hand - I found this one all by myself. He writes about being a dad and offers up great resources for us. Be sure to check him out.
Is there a MAN BLOG that I'm missing out on? If so, please let me know.

Note, you can always find my complete list of MAN BLOGS on the right side of the page.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

UNIFICATION - Humor Me and Read This

As a blogger, I realize that many of my readers are stay-at-home moms that home educate their children. I should know, because I'm married to one of my readers and she fits the mold. I'm also quite certain that the rest of you that read this might not be interested in the content of this post, but I need all of you to humor me and read this, anyway.

I haven't said too much on my blog about how much I love open-wheel racing and the Indy 500. If you don't know what open-wheel racing is, it's the kind of cars you see at...the Indy 500 and Formula 1 races and Champ Car races (if you know any of this). No fenders. Really fast cars.

If I tell most folks that I like "racing" it instantly conjures up images of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt know, NASCAR. I'm not going to knock NASCAR (biting tongue right now), but I'm an open-wheel fan. Believe it or not, before NASCAR became a national obsession, the Indy 500 and IndyCars were the biggest thing going in this country. So, now you know about that.

Please, keep reading. It's important to me.

Yesterday something VERY IMPORTANT HAPPENED. This goes back to 1996 when open-wheel racing was ripped into two separate racing series. At this point, it's not worth pointing fingers. Not only did it split the racing teams in two different directions, it also split the fans. From 1996 until recently there was the IRL (Indy Racing League--also known as the Indy Car Series) and ChampCar (which was called CART until recently).

Did I mention that yesterday something VERY IMPORTANT HAPPENED?

After all this time, the two managed to get back together. It's a dream come true for a dork like me. If you're a racing fan and you're reading this, it's really time that you give IndyCar racing a chance...or a second chance.

Thanks for reading. You can now go back to whatever it was that you were doing.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Salute to Mayor McCheese

This is long overdue. There are very few constants in life, but Mayor McCheese is one of them. While the country endured the Vietnam War, you were here holding down the fort (or maybe it was the griddle). Inflation during the 70s? No problem for you. Blizzard of '78? Whoop-de-freakin-doo. The recession of the 90s? You never let it get to your buns. You never even bothered to do anything to safeguard your computer or data during the whole Y2K scare.

You're the Mayor of all Cheese and we salute you, Mayor McCheese.

SIDE NOTE: Thanks to the always "reliable" Wikipedia I learned that the whole McDonaldland thing of the 70s was a rip-off of the popular H.R. Pufnstuf program that used to run during Saturday cartoons. McDonald's had to shell out a million dollars to settle. Oh, and don't even get me started about the significance of "Pufnstuf" and the drug culture.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Color Is That?

Recently, I attempted to be creative with color names by using a term for "pink" that I don't normally use. Of course, I managed to screw it up with a typo and Scott from Honey, I Fed the Kids made fun of me pointed it out.

Ask a gal what color she would choose to paint her bedroom or car and you'll get words like jade, beige, chartreuse, lemon, apricot, teal, burgundy, etc. But I've decided to go back to the basics and invite the rest of the MEN with me.

So, in the words of Irwin M. Fletcher while impersonating an aviation mechanic by the name of G. Gordon Liddy:

Awww, come on guys, it's so simple. Maybe you need a refresher course. Heyyyyyyyyyy!

There are ELEVEN COLORS. Yep. Just eleven. Here they are...

White (now if I did that it wouldn't show up!)

If you want to get fancy and impress the ladies, all you have to do is make what I call, "Compound Colors." This might include blue-green, red-orange or my personal favorite, green-black.

Now go take on your day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Birthdays Done the Big Doofus Way

My wife is pretty handy with making the cakes. In fact, she takes the cake!!!

Thank you.
Thank you very much.

I'll be here all week.

Johnson, party of five, your table is ready.
Try the veal.

Don't forget to tip your waitresses.

But anyway...there are times when we're rushed to get to an event but we NEED A CAKE. So, what do you do? I don't bother with those over-priced store bought cakes when I can find something really nice while I'm on the road.

In fact here's a picture from one of our recent family events. Notice how careful Miss Sniz is with the knife and how my oldest daughter is learning from her technique (yes, we counted it toward Home School Credit--Home Ec 101.)

This was a birthday that no one would forget.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My "To-Do List"

At work, I'm a real stickler about operating from a list of things that I update every day. This keeps me on top of what didn't get done the day (or week) before and keeps me focused on where I need to concentrate my efforts for the day at hand. This nasty virus that I have kept me home on Monday and Tuesday last week and even though I went into the office on Wednesday, I don't know if I'd actually consider it "work."

To illustrate this point, here's a copy of part of the list that I created for Wednesday.

To add insult to injury, I STILL didn't get caught up on all of that e-mail.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Our Coveted Aardvark Lamp

Not too long ago our family received an aardvark lamp as a gift from some friends of ours from overseas. In their country, it is considered a great honor and a blessing to have an aardvark near your home. So, it must be even better to have an aardvark lamp...right.

It is proudly displayed in our living room next to our old raggedy couch (the new one still hasn't come in yet). Obviously, it's a conversation starter and you can imagine that it gets the most interesting looks from our guests (even my father-in-law couldn't resist starting at it in the image above). I suppose it's sort of like that "very important award" lamp from the movie A Christmas Story.

Yes, this story is totally made up. Thanks, Photoshop!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Is It George?

I was looking through some of the weird images that I've collected over the years. There's one that I cut out of a magazine from work about five or six years ago that was a full-page ad for some sort of technology symposium. I actually had this taped to my cubicle for a long time. It was nothing out of the ordinary--just a list of the courses and the speakers with their bios and some of their pictures. But I could not stop staring at this guy...

Was this a joke or a mistake? I do a lot of desktop publishing and I know that sometimes these things can happen. Perhaps they were waiting for a picture of Mr. Medina and threw something in FPO (that's lingo we use in the industry which means "For Position Only"--consider yourself "hip" to the world of desktop publishing). But I looked the guy up and he was (is) real. In fact, you can look him up, too. Just do a Google image search for Richard Medina and see what comes up or GO HERE and see what he looks like today (same guy with a slightly modified "do").

In case you haven't figured it out, Mr. Medina looks a lot like George Costanza...

The Ebbs and Flows of An Automated Phone System

I went to pay my mortgage online today like I normally do. As it turns out, the mortgage company website that handles this function was not working, so I picked up the phone and started down a whitewater river adventure that would end up with my my body smashed into the rocks.

It started out simple enough. Sure, the water was murky and cold, but the current didn't seem too strong as I punched in the toll-free number. In a matter of seconds I heard the voice of a woman at the other end and she must have had someone behind her playing the guitar because I could hear music. Ok, so it was a recorded voice with homogenized background music filling in the gaps. She gave me a few choices. The current started picking up a bit.

Press 1 if I had questions about my account. Press 2 if....I dunno. I was paying more attention to the white caps up ahead. This was going to get interesting. I ended up pushing a button and was given a few more choices regarding the nature of my call. At some point, I had to enter my loan number. I didn't have it in front of me. Someone walked into my office to ask me a question. Holy crap, the raft is really starting to move. I hung up.

Eventually I was back online--this time with my loan number handy. I got back to where I was before and after a series of several more automated choices, I was talking to a real person. I was calmly floating downstream. The raft was gently sliding like a stick of butter gliding down the hood of a long Corvette sitting in the sun (that's weird).

"I was trying to pay my loan online and..."

"We're having problems with our web right now. You can pay for that over the phone. Would you like me to give you the number before I connect you?" he interrupted.

What was the deal with that? Did he think I was going to get disconnected or something? Talk about a vote of confidence for his phone system. And why is there now water sloshing into the raft?

"No thanks," I replied. "I'm sure I can get it off the web if I need it."

Really. That was what I said. Can you believe that? I was right there talking to the guy because the web site was broken and when he offered to give me the number before connecting me, I said, "No thanks. I'm sure I can get it off the web if I need it." I may require some sort of intrusive, embarrassing medical examination.

He connected me. Once again, I was given a series of choices. The loan number was one of the first things they wanted. Didn't work. I gave them my social security number (457-55-5462). That worked. It was on to the next automated question and that's when I noticed some big rocks in the water up ahead.

Now that the system knew who I was, they were just going to need my loan number. But wait, haven't we been through this before? And, what was that popping noise? Did the raft just hit a boulder? Is that air shooting out of the side? I went ahead and entered it, anyway. I figured the worst that could happen was that I'd end up at the beginning of the loop again.

Yep. I had struck a boulder and air was gushing out of the boat. The big rocks were all over the place. I was waiting to see what the system would do with the loan number that I had just entered and it seemed like it was taking a long time. That's when I heard this...

"We're sorry. We can no longer process this call. Please hang up."
Pppppfffffsssssssssss. Bam!!!!!!! Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.

In all of my years of getting stuck in these stupid telephone systems, I've never had THIS happen. At least I could appreciate the honesty. So, where's that number to make a payment online again?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Critique of My Own Writing

I'm used to rambling off something quick and witty--usually with a picture that I've doctored with Photoshop. So, when I decided to actually WRITE something on Valentines Day, it made me realize two things:

1. I need a lot of work when it comes to writing prose--especially a short story. My plan is to take this rough draft and turn it into something good with the help of my best friend who is also familiar with the story, which brings me to my second point.

2. My wife is a great writer. Just go over there and read some of the short stories or scenes that she's created and you will see what I mean. She has a natural talent for it, but she's also worked very hard at it. I'm very serious about this. She has studied it. She critiques the work of other writers (sometimes she gets paid for it).

Why bother with this post, you may ask? My reason is, once again, twofold.

1. To put some sort of warning or excuse out there. If you noticed the fact that at one point I switch to first person in the story and thought, "this guy couldn't write his way out of a box," I totally understand.

2. To move that actual blog entry further down the page so that it's less likely to be seen.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Scott over at Honey, I Fed the Kids decided to share his version of how he met his wife. So, I will now present my version of how Scott met his wife. Wait, I have no idea how he met his wife. I've never even met his wife. I've never met Scott. So, I'll just guess that...they...met at one of their monthly club meetings as high ranking members of the Antique Barbed Wire Society. Done!

Yes, I'm stealing Scott's idea. Sue me. So, without any further adieu I will now share my version of how I met my wife, the lovely MISS SNIZ. I've changed some of the names and I know I'm breaking all kinds of literary rules by changing the point of view a few times. But it's still my version of the story. Enjoy!


It was a classic blind date. Bruce and William, a pair of friends, both pastors in different parts of Indiana, had attended the same church as young adults, went to the same bible college, and even graduated from the same seminary. Over the years they stayed in touch via an occasional phone call and letters from the office. Bruce had the luxury of a full-time assistant named Roger--a young man who had recently converted and spent half of his time working with the youth group and the rest as Bruce's administrative assistant. Sometimes, Roger would even type out some of the brief "personal" letters to William, which would turn out to be ironic later on.

William had a pair of very fine daughters, one of which was named Andrea. Bruce's wife and their oldest daughter, Karen, were on a mission to "fix up" Andrea with one of their church's eligible bachelors. Mick was tall and thin with chiseled features. He was an athlete and a teacher. He was smart and delved into politics. He was handsome and well-liked by everyone. Mick was perfect for Andrea.

Karen called Andrea with the idea and she agreed to meet him. Sure, she was in an on-again, off-again relationship with a guy, but she was also getting ready for a major career move that would have her soon traveling the globe. She had nothing to lose.

Karen moved forward with making the arrangements but somehow the details just couldn't come together. This perfect fix-up for Andrea just wasn't going to happen. She was supposed to come up for church and lunch with Pastor William's family to meet Mick, but Mick would not be there. The resourceful Karen came up with a "Plan B". As long as Andrea was making the two and a half hour trip up north, there might as well be someone sitting in that seat for her to meet.

Andrea managed to get to church on time and sat somewhere near the front, next to Karen. Karen pointed him out. He was seated in the front row with the high school youth group kids. But she had a hard time figuring out which one was the "kid" and which one was supposed to be Karen's idea of an ideal (albeit "Plan B") blind date. He was the one with the long blond mullet (shut up, it was cool back in 1991!).

They both sat through the service and headed to Pastor Bruce's home for dinner. Dinner at Pastor Bruce's house was a regular event for Roger since he first started attending the church three years ago. He was taken in by Bruce's family and always felt at home. So, it wasn't out of his comfort zone to be seated at the table across from her. He had never met her, but on many occasions he had talked to her dad and even written him letters. He even met William and his wife at Bruce's son's wedding a year earlier.

Nothing much happened during or after the dinner. There was some chit chat and the the two noticed one another, but that was about the extent of it. They both had plenty of things going on in their lives.

Roger certainly thought Andrea was attractive, but he didn't have much luck with women. It was basically a series of, "I just want to be friends" episodes to the point where he had given up. However, he preferred to paint the picture in spiritual overtones and insist that God didn't want him to be involved with a woman at this time in his life. It sounded better that way when he saw his other friends in relationships. And over time, he had actually come to believe it. He was living at home, single and able to focus everything on his ministry.


Well, it would have been the end if not for the persistence of Karen. She managed to prod them both enough that Roger finally got on the phone and called up Andrea. They talked briefly and agreed to meet at Pastor Bruce's house in a few weeks to go on a real date. Honestly, I don't know if either of them were really excited about going on this date, but it worked out with their schedules and they managed to come up with a time.

Roger showed up early in the evening and made himself at home. He and Bruce talked about theology, politics, IU basketball--standard fare for the house. Andrea was still getting ready. When she finally came out, Roger could hardly believe his eyes. Yes, he had met Andrea before, but he didn't remember just how beautiful she was. She walked out in white jeans with a pink floral pattern and a complimentary silk choral shirt and put on a small black leather coat. He was thrilled. Sure, this would be the only time she'd go out with him (or so he thought), but at least Roger could tell all of his friends that he had one date with a really hot chick.

They headed out for dinner at Cheddar's Casual Cafe. Roger didn't think he liked cucumbers so he gave them to Andrea. They talked...and talked...and talked. After dinner the "couple" headed out to meet Mr. Uvulapie who was attending the same bible college that Bruce and William had attended a generation ago (actually Andrea's mother also attending the school). They were having an "Ugly Pants Contest" in one of the student areas and the two stopped by to meet and talk. Then it was off to drive by the Youth For Christ building. Roger also volunteered for YFC and the group had been very influential in his new faith. Plus it was a long way from the bible college campus, which meant more time to talk.

It was very late. When it was finally over, Roger walked Andrea to Bruce's front door which was unlighted and, thus, very dark. She managed to figure out which key opened the lock and the date was over. And while both of them went into the evening thinking it would be a brief, one-off kind of evening (perhaps a way of getting Karen off of their backs), it ended with each one contemplating that this could be the start of something quite significant.

Roger also figured out that he really likes cucumbers but is still willing to part with them from time to time.

Happy Anniversary, Miss Sniz! I love you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Writer's Strike is OVER!!!!

Yep. It's true. In a month or so, you may see new episodes of The Office and other shows that you've been missing.

What Does "Two Hours" Mean?

Our oldest has been grounded from any kind of video game (XBOX, computer, etc.) for about a month now. Actually, it was going to be over after the third week and then he made a silly bet with me that I couldn't get the sound to work correctly on the loft computer. I probably shouldn't have done this, but I told him that if I couldn't get it to work I'd take him to Taco Bell twice in the next week and that if he lost, it was one more week sans video games. I even told him that I was 100% sure I could do it and he still made the bet. But I digress...

Yesterday was his first day having video game privileges back and we decided to make it more structured. Today he would get two hours to play (since it was such a long wait) and then one hour each day after that. This privilege would be expanded as he expanded his responsibilities with school and around the house. It's a good motivation for him (we think).

Well, he played a new game that he recently received as a gift for two hours straight and then we told him it was time to shut it off. That seemed to work great...until a few hours later he asked if it was ok to go over to a friend's house to play.

"Sure," I replied. As long as you don't play video games.

"What?!?" he asked with his jaw dropping. "It used to be that that only applied to home. You mean, I can't play with my friends?"

In his world, he got two hours to play video games at home and then as long as he was somewhere else, that was strictly off the clock. Sure, I like how his ingenious mind works, but it just will not work that way. We had a pretty long talk about it and he was--and still is--somewhat upset. He told me several times that it didn't "make any sense at all." Plus, I am not making it so that he cannot play with his friends because all his friends ever do is play video games. I should call their parents and tell them that he said that.

So, I'm curious on your thoughts. Remember, this is a 14 year old boy that I'm dealing with. We still get along pretty well.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure that the kids don't play a lot of Pong these days, but I couldn't resist the image.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Free Picture Tip for Windows XP Users

I'm still sick. My wife will tell you two things about me when I'm sick:

  1. I rarely get sick.
  2. I'm a big baby when I do get sick.
Miss Sniz has gone beyond the call of duty to take care of me. I'm very thankful for her.

So, what do I have to offer blogdom on this dreary cold day? I was thinking a handy picture/image tip for some of you. I visit a lot of blogs and I love your pictures, but some of you (and you know who you are) don't know how to reduce the size of your pictures for easier posting and easier viewing. If you have a good photo editing program like Photoshop or even Photoshop Elements you can do all of this and so much more. However, if you have no idea how to use those programs and just want an easy way to reduce the size of your images (and you have Windows XP) this tip is for you. Even if you DO have a photo editing program, this tip allows you to resize images with just a few mouse clicks. I'm a Photoshop junkie and I still use this.

1. Go to the Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP site.

B. Notice that there are three columns on this page.

III. Scroll down in the middle column to read the very brief explanation of the Image Resizer tool.

d. Now, find the Image Resizer download on the far right column and click on it once. If you use the Firefox browser (and should all use Firefox, but that's another post), choose the Save File button. If you're using Exploder...I mean Explorer then choose the Save option.

5. Save the file to your desktop. This will make it easier to find and then discard when you're done with the installation.

VI. Double Click on it to fire that puppy up. Installing it should be easy and self explanatory. Just follow the directions. If smoke starts coming out of your computer, you've done something wrong. Call the police. Call the Geek Squad. Run for your life!!!!!!

G. When installation is complete, you can right click on any image on your computer (e.g. your photos) and choose from four convenient resizing options. Start out by choosing the "Resize Pictures" option.

h. Pick from one of the four options available: Small, Medium, Large, Handheld (i.e. "Really Small").

Nine: Note that you are not replacing your image. The Resizer makes a copy of the image in the same folder as the original and renames it for you with the new size included as part of the name.

X: Discard the installation program from your desktop by dragging it to your recycle bin. You will not need it any longer if the installation was successful.

Should you wish to experiment with some of the other PowerToys, have at it...but be careful. I've never used Windows Vista, so it's possible that you can do this automatically with the newer version of Windows. I'm assuming this is easy to do with a Mac as well. Anyway, I hope some of you find this helpful.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Spray For Your Outrageous Hairs

I'm a bit under the weather today. I started out feeling fine and then as the day wore on, it got worse and worse. However, before I managed to feel so yucky, I had to stop at our local CVS to pick up a few things. While rummaging through the handy travel-size products, I managed to find this little gem. Every time I read it out loud (and I have to admit that I did read it out loud several times even though I was by myself) it sounded funny.

The product is called Pantene...Outrageous Body Hairspray.

But it sounds like Pantene Outrageous Body-hair Spray.

Finally, a hairspray for your embarrassing back hairs that just won't stay in place. And why bother cutting your Outrageous nose hairs when you can simply spray them into submission thanks to the smart, style-minded folks at Pantene.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Love Song - Sarah Bareilles

If the story behind this song is true, it's really cool. Singer-songwriter Sarah Bareilles (bah-REL-ess) is finishing up her first major label CD for Sony/Epic when one of the record label suits tells her that the CD needs a "love song."

So, Sarah wrote "Love Song" and it's becoming a pretty big hit (as far as I'm concerned). If you live in Central Indiana, you can hear this song played quite regularly on WTTS FM 92.3 (my favorite station in town), but you can also listen to it on Sarah's web page by clicking here.

Here are the lyrics...enjoy...

Head under water
And they tell me to breathe easy for a while
The breathing gets harder, even I know that
You made room for me but it's too soon to see
If I'm happy in your hands
I'm unusually hard to hold on to

Blank stares at blank pages
No easy way to say this
You mean well,
but you make this hard on me

I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you asked for it
'cause you need one, you see
I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you tell me it's
Make or break in this
If you're on your way
I'm not gonna write you to stay
If all you have is leaving I'm gonna need a better
Reason to write you a love song today

I learned the hard way
That they all say things you want to hear
And my heavy heart sinks deep down under you and
Your twisted words,
Your help just hurts
You are not what I thought you were
Hello to high and dry

Convinced me to please you
Made me think that I need this too
I'm trying to let you hear me as I am


Promise me that you'll leave the light on
To help me see with daylight, my guide, gone
'cause I believe there's a way you can love me
Because I say

I won't write you a love song
'cause you asked for it
'cause you need one, you see
I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you tell me it's make or break in this

Is that why you wanted a love song
'cause you asked for it
'cause you need one, you see
I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you tell me it's make or break in this
If you're on your way
I'm not gonna write you to stay

If your heart is nowhere in it
I don't want it for a minute
Babe, I'll walk the seven seas when I believe that
There's a reason to
Write you a love song today

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Winter Storm Warning--sort of

So, here it is--February in Central Indiana and I'm watching the weather radar on TV and online as another big thunderstorm with potentially damaging winds heads our way--and it's the second time in the last week. Sheeesh.

As for me, I like to worry about storms and weather...a lot. Somehow, I feel like it's my duty to make sure that we're ready to go into the basement and to show a lot of concern. Miss Sniz, on the other hand...doesn't have a care in the world. I think she could sleep through a tornado while riding on the top of a plane. I admire that.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Jane Austen - KICKS BUTT!!!!!

Ok, I admit it...I'm a Jane Austen fan. No red-blooded man in their life should ever have to go through the agony of hiding this secret deep inside. So, I'm coming out with it:

I like Jane Austen!!!!

I should be more precise--I like Jane Austen movies. I may have actually read one of her books when it was required reading in high school, but I'm mostly into the movie versions of her novels--especially the PBS Masterpiece versions. You may not see a lot of difference in the settings from one film to the next--in fact, it's easy to get them confused--but you will see masterful dialog and character development--the kind you just don't see too often. On top of that, my wife LOVES her writing (and the movies). I even gave her Jane Austen's complete works for Christmas this year. It's the kind of thing that we can watch together while sipping on our International Delights Coffee...I mean, our Red Bull Energy Drinks.

But being the man that I am, I've decided to spice up Miss Austen so that every testosterone oozing Neanderthal can appreciate her. Enjoy...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Overheard at Church Today

I can't make this stuff up, folks. It really happened and I was the only one laughing (on the inside, of course--I wouldn't want to make a scene).

As we started our worship time of singing, the leader made this announcement:

"Ok, everyone please stand."

Everyone got up.

The first song we sang was...

Come Let us Worship and Bow Down.

How ironic.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Just Call Me, "Old School"

"You're 'Old School' man!"

That's an expression that I hear from time to time these days. In fact, just the other day one of my co-workers told me that I was "Old School" because I still use a paper calender. Well, if that's the case, I discovered the ultimate in "Old School" during our recent trip to Nashville, Indiana for a church leadership retreat.

That's right. Down in Nashville they use the restroom the "Old School Way". I'm not sure if that means they have out houses or if there's a certain old way that they actually go to the bathroom that I don't know about. Perhaps you old people could fill me in.