Monday, June 30, 2008

Finally, Something the Whole Community Can Support...RIBS!

This weekend our family decided to see what all the fuss was about at our community's yearly RIB-FEST. Due to baseball/softball commitments or scheduled family vacations, we've never been able to go in years past and we were determined to go this time. When it was all over we came home with one neat memory. Our girls (11 and 9) got on the National Guard rock-climb and quickly strutted up to the top on all three sides to ring the bell. I'm not saying that our kids are better than other kids (but they are--deal with it!), but our girls made it look easy. Miss Sniz and I had no idea that our girls were part monkey (although it doesn't surprise me). We witnessed many other kids moving at a snail's pace up the wall and most did not make it to the top. The National Guard volunteers were so impressed that they signed them up for active duty.

Later that evening there were fireworks and we could see them from our back porch. All in all, it was a very nice day. However, as the fireworks were shooting off and we were "ooh-ing" and "ah-ing" I got to thinking about how strange this whole thing was. We just participated in an entire day devoted to...RIBS. We didn't go back and look at our community's history (there really isn't any to speak of, anyway) or remember our troops. We didn't pull together resources to help out those who are needy or have been afflicted by the recent floods. We didn't celebrate our heritage or even the birthday of a military hero or public servant. We celebrated RIBS in all their glory.

God Bless America!
God Bless Ribs!?!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Should I Kill the Wabbits?

I planted a garden this year. Actually, my nine year old first planted a garden this year. I tilled the soil and she planted watermelons, pumpkins, peppers, onions and cilantro--all seeds. She may have watered them a few times and then I took over. I planted nine tomato plants and at this time they're all looking to be very promising. However, we have been experiencing a bunny infestation in the neighborhood lately and I was a bit concerned about them finishing off my garden. So, I created my own fence and thought that would be the end of it. (Note: I'm pretty sure this picture only shows weeds in the garden, but you can see the fence.)

Boy was I mistaken. The other day, Miss Sniz came in and told me about the wabbit that had been sitting near my fence for a long time. I decided to check out the situation and as soon as he scampered away, I saw what he was up to...

I guess it's my fault for using a plastic fence instead of something like chicken wire. Just a few days ago, I saw two very large deer walking around the neighborhood in the morning. I can now see that I'm going to have some stiff competition if I plan on eating what I grow.

So, what to do about that wabbit?

(YouTube Warning: I cannot control what links for other videos pop up after you view this one. Sometimes I'm really surprised at what comes up as a "related" video. For instance, how is a video called, wifes thighs in nylon related to a Bugs Bunny short feature?)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Music Instructions or Printer Problems?

I saw this on our printer/fax machine/copier/scanner/waffle iron at work today. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to consult the owner's manual or if I was expected to play percussion at the end of the printing process...or song.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Actually Happened Today

I'm sure I've posted quite a bit about driving over the years...

Driving In The Work Zone
Q-Tips Out the Window
Safe Travel on Interstates With Construction
I was RIGHT!!!!!
Stop Driving Like an Idiot
My Drive to Work Today
Chinook Helicopters and Trucks With Flames, I really have!

Over the years, I've been convicted some about driving the speed limit. I'm not totally whacked out about it. I'll admit that there are times when I drive fast, but it doesn't happen too much these days. On top of that, the price of gas is yet another motivator to drive slow. I get great gas mileage by slowing down and using my cruise control.

I also do my best not to annoy all of the selfish, idiot drivers who assume that they own the road. I've found that it's best to just let them get through because there's no reasoning with anyone when conversations (if you can really call them that) are limited to about two seconds as they speed by and usually consist of just a few hand gestures. That usually puts me in the right lane where I get along fine. 99 percent of the people that come up behind me figure out that I'm not going to go any faster and they go around me. That's how it's supposed to work. But every so often I get Mr. or Mrs. 1 Percent that just doesn't get it. They don't "get" the fact that I'm simply obeying the law and they don't "get" the fact that I'm staying in the right lane to allow everyone else through.

Today, while driving 55 mph in the right lane of I-465 (note that there are three lanes to the left of me) I had a black car pull up on my bumper and flash his lights as if he were on the German autobahn. If I were going to pull out of the way for him, which way was I supposed to go? Into the shoulder? Instead of the hand gesture that I wanted to show him, I just waved at him. He must have realized that I wasn't going to move so he pulled around me. As he buzzed by, I flashed my entire hand to him two times to symbolize the speed limit: FIVE - FIVE (i.e. 55 mph). He looked confused, at best. He was also at least EIGHT - FIVE (i.e. 85) years old and had a handicapped license plate.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Big Trouble for Little Kayellynnes

The other day the family and I were shopping for pants. We were in a bit of a hurry, but managed to hit two stores just to see who had the better deal (and it paid off--but who cares about that). So, as I'm walking about the men's section of Meijer I can hear some mother yelling at her daughter, "Kaelin, stop it. Get over here or you're gonna be in big trouble!" Or, something like that. The only real detail that I remember (and the only one that matters to this entry) is the Kaylin part...or Kaelyn.

Fifteen minutes later I'm buzzing around the men's shorts at Target (which I call "tar-ZJAY" to make it sound cool) when I see and hear a completely different person yelling, "Kalynn, stop it!! Stop it RIGHT NOW!!! Get back here, Caylen."

How strange that I'd witness two different Kailenn's getting in trouble in two different stores within fifteen minutes of each other. Then I got to thinking...I've got a Kaalin on my daughter's softball team. And we've played against other teams with Kaelynne's on their roster, too. When did the name Kayelinn get so popular, anyway? And why can't any of the parents get together to standardize the spelling of the name, Kayelun?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Google Maps Street View

Here's a nice picture of my house...

I'm not sure when it was taken. In fact, I'm not sure who took the picture. Actually, it's more like a video still image than a snapshot. It's all part of Google Maps' Street View feature.

If you haven't played around with it yet, you should. Basically, it's like driving around on a map and seeing what everything really looks like (i.e. at the time the pictures were taken). I suppose it freaks some people out just a bit, but I'm ok with it. Besides, I have a pet that keeps people away...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Third Eye Sniz

Most of the folks that read my blog also read my wife's blog. But did you all know that Miss Sniz has a third eye?

She usually hides it with make-up or a baseball cap.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If Your Life Was a Movie

I'm not one to do these "memes" or whatever you call them, but I liked this one as it's right up my alley. Uvulapie posted it a few days ago on his blog. I'd challenge TKT to give it a whirl, as well as Chris the Worship Drummer. If you're into music and have lots of it--this one is for you...

Here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...
7. Include commentary
Opening Credits:
Big Bang Baby by Fluid Imbibers
The Fluid Imbibers are made up of me and Uvulapie (aka Jason). This song was written by Jason back in 1988(?) as his reaction to the theory of evolution. We recorded it, as we did most of the songs, in his bedroom using only the finest equipment (...that you can get for under twenty bucks at Radio Shack). The Kazoo solo here really makes the song and it would be a perfect way to start a movie.

Waking Up:
Time Has Told Me by Nick Drake
The late, great Nick Drake was one of the best virtually unknown singer-songwriters of the 60s and early 70s. This particular song would fit nicely in the "Waking Up" category for a movie score. If you've never heard of Nick Drake and you consider yourself to be a student of music, you need to stop what you're doing now (you can read the rest of this post later) and get your hands on some of his music. Some of his tracks may sound only slightly dated, but other cuts are at home in any decade. Ironically, his music is still used in movie soundtracks and commercials today.

First Day at School:
Crash and Burn by Cheryl Crow
I'm a sucker for Ms. Crow, but if this song were played in the soundtrack of my life while I skipped off to my first day at school, I'd probably end my life by eating poisoned tater tots. This song is just plain depressing.

Falling in Love:
Can't Keep It In by Cat Stevens
Wow! This is quite funny how this is working. This is an actual song about wanting the world to see how much in love you really are. Like him or not, Cat Stevens (known today as Yusuf Islam) had a unique voice and a very successful career with over 60 million albums sold.

Fight Song:
All the Way to Kingdom Come by Rich Mullins
This CD (the jesus record) still makes me sad. Rich Mullins was going to record these songs but only manged to lay down the demos before he will killed in a traffic accident in 1992. If you follow Christian Contemporary Music at all, you know who Rich Mullins was and you were probably touched by his life. I had the privilege of meeting him one time at an airport. We talked for about ten minutes about life and music and I'll never forget it. This song is a testimony to the love God has for us all the way to the end of the earth.

Breaking Up:
I'll Stick Around by Foo Fighters
Ok, this is getting weird. It's a breaking up song, but one of the parties in the break up has decided to "stick around." Technically, wouldn't that count as stalking? Anyway, the Foo Fighters continue to put out great music. Who would have thought that the real musical genius waiting to emerge from Nirvana was Dave Grohl? "I don't owe you anything! I don't owe you anything! I don't owe you anything!" Great stuff.

Hold It Up To the Light by David Wilcox
There are at least two different men named David Wilcox who are recording artists. One is a blues man that hails from Canada and the other is my favorite singer-songwriter of all time. This is a song about making decisions--and he gives some good advice here. However, I'm not sure if he specifically talks about cummerbunds or bow ties.

Life's Ok:
Tether To Tassel by Lifesavers Underground
So far, I'm happy with my soundtrack and it's been totally random so far. This is one of my favorite songs. Even though I used the label "Christian Contemporary Music" (or CCM) earlier to describe an artist, I hate that term. Music is music and it should be left to stand on it's own. Lifesavers Underground (also known as "Lifesavers" or "LSU") was a rare CCM band that could stand on their own. Of course, since they were a "Christian" band no one would ever get the chance to hear them unless the concert was held at a church or coffee house.

Mental Breakdown:
For a Moment by Ron Sexsmith
Most of my favorite singer-songwriters have been represented so far. And once again this song fits perfectly with the subject. Ron Sexsmith's voice is SMOOOOOOOTH and he's a gifted musician.

Across the Sea by Weezer
Well, at least it's a song about travel--sort of. Actually, it's a song about a band member receiving a letter from an underage female fan in Japan. It's about forbidden love and temptation. "I could never touch you. I think it would be wrong. I've got your letter. You've got my song." Weezer has a raw, live sound that I've always appreciated. Their subject matter is not for everyone (sometimes not even for me) but I respect their craft and totally dig their sound.

The Lucky One by Freedy Johnston
No, it's not "Freddy Johnson." The man's real name is Freedy Johnston and he's yet another one of my favorite singer-songwriters--and yet I've never seen him live. I need to rectify that sometime. Back in the day, he sold everything he had to move to New York to make it as a musician. My guess is that he's not rich, but at least he's making a living doing what he loves. Freedy's voice is unmistakable once you've heard it.

Getting Back:
Sometime by King's X
King's X is a "band's band". Back in the mid to late 80's every musician listened to them. They were destined to make it big with a sweet deal from Atlantic Megaforce records but it never happened. They've remained incredibly obscure but with a loyal fan base (people like me). I've seen them change over the years (e.g. lifestyles and political views) but they are still one of the most creative three-piece bands to ever play. If you like progressive rock you'll love this.

Plague of Flies by Lifesavers Underground
Here's the first repeat band on the soundtrack. Of course, if I would have insisted on playing "Plague of Flies" in my actual wedding, I'm pretty sure my wife would have left me. It's too bad, because the song really rocks my socks off.

Birth of Child:
If I Could by Seal
All you have to remember about Seal is that most of his CDs are titled "Seal". I guess it's just easier that way. Actually, you should also remember that Seal makes great music. His style fits the "Lite Rock" radio format to a tee but he has real talent and a soulful voice. According to Wikipedia (always a reliable source) his real name is Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel and he's married to supermodel Heidi Klum.

Final Battle:
Jesus on the Radio by Guster
No, this is not a CCM band. Guster is a talented three-piece band from Boston. They make regular appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and probably make a good living.

Death Scene:
Don't Ask Me How I Feel by The Swirling Eddies
The Swirling Eddies were the bad boys of CCM (which sounds silly, I know). They're members of other bands, studio musicians, producers, songwriters, etc. who decided to get together to record some songs. Their first two CDs were actually produced on a "major" Christian label. I can only guess that they had some embarrassing pictures of record label executives from the Christmas party or something. If you can get your hands on Let's Spin or Outdoor Elvis, be sure to give them a spin.

Funeral Song:
About Mrs. Leslie by Galactic Cowboys
These boys were contemporaries of Kings X back in the day. It's one thing to make loud music, but to make loud, technically challenging music with incredible harmonies is quite another task. This would make for a very odd funeral song.

End Credits:
Pencil Rain by They Might Be Giants
Amazingly, most of my favorite bands were randomly played during this exercise (and I'm getting tired of this post). TMBG is considered by many to be a novelty act, but their staying power and unique style is enough to put that notion aside. Every band can sing about love, cars and sex but TMBG takes the time to ponder pencils, toupees, metal detectors--real stuff. I love "the Johns."

P.S. If my life was a movie, it would be one of those straight-to-video kind or the kind that you'd walk out on only minutes into it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Behold the STINKHORN!!!!

What do you get when you take carrots and dip the tips in chocolate? I have no idea. Actually, carrots are sweet and this probably wouldn't be all that bad. I cannot imagine why anyone would do this, but at least it would be palatable. More importantly, something like this would probably have a neutral or even slightly pleasing odor.

However, if you ever see anything in your yard (especially in the moist mulch-covered areas) that resembles carrots with the tips dipped in chocolate plug up your nose and quickly have it removed. I'm speaking of "stinkhorns." These ornamental but disgusting mushrooms sprouted right next to our front door in the flower gardens during the time that we were having torrential downpours every other day. So basically, I had to deal with my basement flooding and then wondering if it was going to flood every day--then to top it off, the stinkhorn fairy made a visit to my house to add insult to injury.

Ok, so the truth is that these things actually reminded me that God has a sense of humor and that everything is going to be ok. Our family did not suffer during the flooding. We were inconvenienced while folks to the south of us (along with people in Iowa and Wisconsin) have lost everything.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Father's Day

How did I spend my Father's Day? I got up to get ready for church and went downstairs to discover that my two little girls (11 and 9) had made breakfast for me: eggs over-easy, sausage, toast and grape juice. Everything was very tasty and the eggs were cooked to perfection. It was only a few weeks ago that I showed the oldest one how to make an over-easy egg. Upon finishing my breakfast I got personal letters from all three of my kids and very cool travel-mug for my commute.

Later that day during lunch I got the BIG present--REDS TICKETS. How cool is that? I'll spend the day with my father-in-law and two brothers-in-law at Great America Ballpark in Cincinnati to see my favorite team play the Pirates. I can only hope that I get seated next to this guy (see picture).

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Unnecessary" Quotations

Miss Sniz and I get a kick out of Unnecessary Quotations. A few days ago she took a picture of a sign that we see every day at the baseball/softball diamonds. I submitted it to The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotations. Hopefully it will make her "famous."

Have a "great" day.

"Big Doofus"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cleaning Up the Garbage (can)

For the past 6-8 months there has been a big plastic garbage can sitting in one of our neighborhood retention ponds. Like everyone else, I would drive by it and think to myself, "Whose can is that and why don't they do something about it?" After a few months my thoughts changed to, "I wonder if that can will stick out of the ice when the pond freezes over." Even later they changed to, "Did I leave the iron on?" as I was starting to get tired of wasting my precious mental energy on that stupid trash can.

But as the weather started getting nice, the neighborhood began to green up and I couldn't stop thinking about it: "Maybe I could just walk in there and retrieve it!" Honestly, it was only about ten feet from the shore line. The water would be 2-3 feet deep at the most. However, the bottom of the pond is a silt-mud-muck material, which would cause you to sink another foot--YUCK! There had to be a way. Every day I would see the can and think about ways to get out. Finally, I remembered that I had some old but long PVC pipes in the garage. So, I could "touch it with a ten foot pole" quite literally, but how would I get the can back to dry ground?

Another month went by. Baseball and softball season started up--the busiest time of the year for me--but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I came home from church on a Sunday and pulled out the tall pole from the corner of the garage. I carefully drilled a hole through it and screwed in a hook that was attached to my wall to hold things like ladders, bikes, annoying neighbor kids, etc. It was perfect. I hopped on my Schwinn and pedaled over to the pond. Since it had been sitting in the water for months, I wasn't sure how difficult it would be to move. However, I was able to easily lower the hook onto a handle and pulled the can in in less than thirty seconds. Imagine that? The entire process probably took five minutes. But what was I to do with the can? It was covered with pond scum and algae. I surely didn't want to bring it home. It wasn't my can in the first place.

So, I decided that I'd put it on the sidewalk for everyone to see. Surely, the guilty can owner would crawl out of the woodwork and claim it eventually. I wasn't too optimistic, but perhaps this even bigger eye-sore would provoke someone to action. I rode back home and spent the rest of the day working in the yard. Several hours after I pulled the can ashore, I had to drive to Lowes for something (we always need something from Lowes). When I approached the pond I expected to see the ugly can still sitting on the concrete walk. I even pondered the idea that a kid might kick it right back into the water. But it was gone. GONE!!!! Either the guilty neighbor decided to claim it or another lucky resident is the proud owner of a slightly used, pond-scum and algae coated plastic trash can. This Friday is garbage day, so perhaps I'll cruise around the neighborhood to see where it pops up.

NOTE: Even though this story is entirely original, the idea to write about it came from Uvalpie's Sign Season post.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I know that there are people to the south of us who have had it worse, but we flooded today. The basement ended up with a few inches of water. Just a few days ago, I had a new sump pump put in because the existing one was dead. I just happened to go down there and was checking it out when I noticed it wasn't working and the back-up was on. Whew. But the amount of rain that we had today made it simply impossible for our pump (fully working) to keep up. I knew it was coming and we were able to get a lot of things up and out of the way to avoid any really significant damage. Of course, if the sun pops out and it gets hot, we could end up with some more heavy duty thunderstorms.

On a brighter note, my boy went out into the neighborhood ponds fishing today and managed to land a nice bass...

Taking Your Hat Off

If you watch a lot of sports on tv (and I don't...really...I only watch educational programming) then you'll hear the expression, "I take my hat off to..." used all the time. However, when they say it they NEVER take off their hat. Talk about a meaningless expression. It really bothers me. If you say that you "take your hat off" to someone, then you should take your hat off. Even worse, I've witnessed many occasions where people say, "I take my hat off to" and they're not even wearing a hat. Perhaps they had a hat on before the interview and took it off before the cameras started rolling. I'm not convinced. The abuse of this saying needs to stop.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Chinook Helicopters and Trucks with Flames!!!!!

I've blogged many times about my long commute. As a result, I have the opportunity to see many interesting things on the road.

Yesterday, while coming home I saw not one, but TWO Chinook helicopters flying around Indianapolis. There's no mistaking these monsters. Two props and ...well...HUGE. It's not that often that you get to see them buzzing around your neck of the woods. For me, it's particularly inspiring as my brother-in-law pilots these bad boys. He is currently serving our country in Iraq.

During this morning's commute, I noticed a truck zip by me (because I'm "Mr. Speed Limit" on the Interstate) with this incredible flames paint job. I'm sure I've seen that before. However, just seconds later another truck buzzes by me with a flame radiator grill. I'm not sure why I was paying attention, but immediately behind this guy was a big black truck with yet another exquisite flame job on the sides. Does this mean something?