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...



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:


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.


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.


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...

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.