Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Pronunciation R R

Almost every day I'm trying to work with Ady to help her say things correctly to make her easier to understand. Last night it started raining and for 3 or 4 minutes I said Thunder empshasizing the "th" and she kept repeating "under". Later in the evening she was wearing her batman mask. She kept calling is "mass" and I was trying to get her to put the "K" on the end.

While at a lunch meeting today, the presenter was talking and started stuttering. Only he was stuttering on "are our", so it came out sounding like "R R R R R R R R R R". I snickered a little, but then thought of this post.

Pronunciation is important in order to be understood. Too often people are lazy in the pronunciation and it can cause problems. I'm constantly working with both Jonas and Adylynn trying to get them to say things the right way. Pay attention the next time that you say "our". If it comes out sounding like "r" then you may be sending the wrong message to anyone listening, and making it harder for children to know what you are talking about. Try saying "Are our hours ours?" What did you sound like? I guess that most of you sound like "R R Rs Rs" Which makes me laugh (RDRR).

Remember that children learn from how we speak, even when we speak lazily, so speak clearly.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Jonas playing and learning.

I was doing dishes this morning and told Jonas that when I was done I was going to fold some laundry, which was sitting on the couch. He went in the other room and folded a few towels. When I finally went into the room he wanted to fold some of Jaden's onesies, but said he didn't know how. I'm pretty consistent at folding things when I do it. So I told him, "You button up one button, fold it in half so the sleeves are on top of each other, and fold it in half again from top to bottom." He said he had never done snaps before. I don't know if it was true or not, but I showed him how it was done and let him do it. He was able to do it on his first try and loved it. He snapped all three snaps and then did another onesie and a one piece outfit. He had a blast snapping.

This evening we went outside to play a little, after it started cooling off. I got out a big red bat and asked if he wanted to hit a ball. After setting up home plate and showing him how to hold the bat and stand, I started pitching to him. In the past he has usually quit after 3 or 4 pitches because he gets frustrated that he's not hitting, so I made sure to keep cheering him on. Today he hit the 5th pitch. Then he hit about 1 in 4 pitches and at one point had 4 in a row. He was having so much fun and I was ecstatic. I didn't want him to just hit though, so I asked him to throw to me. I worked with him for a minute on how to throw while stepping with the opposite foot. He did that right and was doing a really good job throwing the wiffle ball across the yard. It was awesome.

After playing baseball we went for a walk with the rest of the family. During the walk Erin started telling the kids what kinds of flowers we were seeing. Jonas really got into it and wanted to know what everything was. I'm glad Erin was there, I wouldn't have known many of the flowers, she knew a lot. We saw peonies, daisies, lavender, roses, petunia, pansies, hostas, blue spruce pines, and a tulip tree that we pointed out to the kids. It may have been a lot to take in, but Jonas was having a blast spotting all of the peonies, which isn't hard in our neighborhood, since just about every house has some of them.

Friday, May 26, 2006

What's the hype about Google

I love Google and use it for searching the web nearly exclusively, although the results I've been getting from MSN recently have been very promising and I'm starting to use it for my search queries.

I don't, however, live by any of their other products. I use Blogger for free (obviously, since you're reading my blog), but there are other free blogging tools that would have worked and made me just as happy. I'd have been fine with Live Journal, Blogspot, Blog.com, Yahoo, or MSN My Space. And those are the free ones I'm aware of without even searching for anything. I use GMail, mostly because of the size of the email space, but I like the Yahoo updated interface a lot better than I like GMail.

I use Picasa, but it won't let both me and Erin post pictures to our own blogs without getting something corrupt in the registry and causing me nearly two days of playing with things to fix it. This has happened twice. I swear Picasa is also freezing my desktop. I can't count the number of times I've been using it and my entire computer has frozen.

I use Google Desktop search, but I mostly have it for the easy notepad and weather section. However at work I use Desktop Sidebar and it has additional features that I better than Google. I like the Google search, but I use it mostly at work for find Outlook emails faster than the Outlook search, but I don't use it to find local files. It doesn't index the content of my programming files, which causes me endless headaches. I finally purchased UltraEdit, which does a folder scan and searched through documents to find things faster than the Windows Find does (without being indexed).

I've never used Froogle. I use Amazon, Overstock, and mySimon, in addition to just using Google search to find things that I want to buy.

The only time I use Google Groups is if I'm completely stuck with a problem in a computer program that I'm working on, but even then I only use it to search.

I use Google New, but I've taken to reading RSS feeds in my news agregators almost exclusively, and it's only once a week or so that I even open the news page for Google anymore.

I've seen Google Earth in action, and it's really cool that they provided a way for the average person to write a program that piggybacks on their map and lets you show where youwant. I just have no reason at all to use it, and since I'm not one of the nerds that's into using a GPS system to tell me how to get to work (the same work I go to daily), I don't see any need for it. Besides, when I'm on the road, my huge clunky desktop PC doesn't come with me, so a paper Atlas works much better.

I have the Google Toolbar installed in IE, but now that I'm starting to use Mozilla more, I'm not using it, plus Ultra Edit had a toolbar that I installed that looks like it will replace the functionality I was utilizing in the google toolbar.

I have not used or seen Google Talk or Google Calendar, but from what I've read they are both very stripped down applications that don't come close to competing with other free calendars offered in Yahoo or MSN mail already. And Google Talk doesn't come close to any other popular IM system, like MSN, Yahoo, AOL, or ICQ.

In short I use Google a lot, but I don't use it exclusively, and for almost everything that they have I use an alternative at least part of the time.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The rich get richer

Master Card had it's IPO yesterday. This seems like a case of the rich get richer. Why did they go pubic finally? So the banks that currently own it (the rich) can start getting out of it before it tanks. Don't be fooled, they do think it will tank, that's why they plan on keeping $650 million aside to fight legal battles. It appears that the biggest problem they face is from the companies that want to use their system complaining it costs too much.

I agree it must be costing too much. I basically use my debit card and have only use a credit card two or three times in the last year, however, I'm noticing more and more places that charge you to use your credit card. The Chinese restaraunt I like to go to will charge 50 cents if the total bill is less than 6.50, which it is at lunch time, so it's impossible to go to lunch by yourself on your credit card (my debit card is considered a credit card here). The DMV charges $2 for a convenience fee (they charge for using the website too, which should cost them a heck of a lot less, I don't get that one at all and if I can ever write it up and sound intelligent I'll post about it). There's a gas station down the street that has a fixed price for gas but charges 6 cents a gallon more for diesel if you use your credit card. I don't understand why they would want to drive their truck drivers, who buy 100+ gallons at a time to start going somewhere else instead? The other gas stations around don't charge more to use your credit cards, and there are 6 other choices with a block of this one.

I have gotten off topic. How do the rich get richer? The rich banks are making a killing by sending MasterCard public now before it has legal issues and getting out of it. The normal guy who doesn't follow things will buy into Mastercard for the starting price of abou 40$. a year from now he'll sell for about 20$ and feel dejected. Then as a company, MasterCard will start to get it's act back together. Those same banks that are getting out of it now will buy back into general stock and make money on it as it goes up.

I think a lot of IPOs are like this. They are more about getting the current ownership a wad of cash than they are about getting the company money to improve themselves. Google did a similar thing when it went public, only the stock is still going up there. Personally I think it's an overpriced stock.

The kettle calling the kettle black

I read today that Fannie Mae, the government backed mortgage company was fined $400 million for bad accounting. This is getting to be an old story. Apparently over the last decade there hasn't been a single company that has been honest with their accounting practice. Today I also read that Skilling and Lay were convicted in the Enron case. The Adelphia and Tyco cases are fresh in my mind as well. Why is it that this phrase is allowed to appear over and over "Senior management manipulated accounting, reaped maximum, undeserved bonuses, and prevented the rest of the world from knowing." Every one of these cases are the same. Unfortunately they also have a board of directors. At what point is it that the board of directors decides that what's actually best for the investors is that they know exactly what's going on in the company? At what point is it does the board of directors get held accountable for allowing this to happen. And if it's this easy for one person to hide such a huge scandal from the board of directors, then why are they paid, because they aren't doing any good?

I find it hillarious that Fannie Mae is getting capped at $767 Billion. They won't be able to give any additional loans once they reach that point. So in order for the investors in Fannie Mae to be compensated, the poor people that loans are given to will be limited. This just seem like a case of "We're tired of giving the rich people the poor people's money, lets try to slow down how fast we can do that".

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Babysitting

Jaden sat up in his crib yesterday. I haven't seen it yet, but Erin instant messaged me and was freaked out because she was trying to take a nap while he was sleeping and when she looked over at the crib she could see his head above the top of the crib. I think it's awesome that he's sitting up on his own, but I still want to see it.

Tonight Jaden wasn't with us. He stayed the night at Aunt Shel's so we could do laundry, price clothes for the garage sale this weekend, and just have a nice alone night. I folded clothes during American Idol and didn't miss much. It was probably the best performance of the season. Not necessarily the Idols, but the entire show was just very entertaining. I'm disapointed that Taylor won. I don't enjoy it when he sings. He goes out and has a good time, but he always looks like he's either constipated or trying not to take a crap in his pants. Either way, it looks painful.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Upcoming

I'm looking forward to the Memorial day weekend. I know I just had a 3 day weekend, but I'm still looking forward to having another one.

I found out today at work that Paul is moving desks on Friday, so either late Friday, or first thing Tuesday I'll be moving to my new desk. I was gone on Monday when new work was assigned. I'm getting to help another developer out by finishing up the work that he took on last iteration. I'm excited about it because I get to use Visual Studio 2005 for the first time.

Jonas has been missing me and I am getting him for 4 days this time, so we are all going to pick him up on Thursday night. My parents wanted more family pictures from the wedding, so we are all going to wear our White Sox stuff and take some more family pictures.

Erin and I sat down together tonight to watch the final competitive night for American Idol. Personally I believe that Taylor Hicks performed better, but I don't like him as much and I wouldn't buy his albums, so I hope that Katherine McPhee wins, just so it's an album that I'd like to listen to.

This Friday/Saturday we are having a garage sale. There are clothes the kids have outgrown and other things that we don't need anymore. I'm excited about the garage sale, because if it doesn't sell it's getting either Freecycled or given to Good Will, that should give me almost half of my garage back. FreeCycle is a kind of cool thing. It's an online give-away program. You can list something for free, which then gets emailed to all members of the group. if someone wants it they respond and you setup a meeting place.

Aunt Shel asked me tonight what I want for my birthday dinner. She just realized that she missed it so we are going to celebrate late. I wasn't worried about it. I didn't expect anything, so getting a nice dinner two weeks late doesn't bother me at all, it's very nice of her to think enough of me to cook me dinner.

I took almost all of the disposable cameras into WalMart today to get pictures. I thought very hard about what kind of pictures I wanted to get. I like the CD option, but I don't have a clue what's on the cameras. Most of the pictures were taken by Lia, Erin's 15 year old neice. She's a great kid, but I don't know if the pictures will be about things that I want all that much. I didn't want to have to spend another 3$ for each of the 6 cameras to find out that I didn't want any of the pictures digitally. On my way out of Walmart I noticed a clearance rack in the Men's clothes (I swear sometimes I smell a sale like a woman does). I checked it out and there were some polo shirts that were on sale for just 7$. I like them so I bought myself a few new shirts. It's about time too, because I have several shirts that I've worn past their prime, they have stains and just aren't professional enough anymore for work. Now if I can just lose a few pounds (30) so I don't have to get more pants.

I think that's all that's going on in my life right now. I know it's not the most exciting post I've had in a while, but this is the stuff happening that's keeping the more interesting posts from being thought up.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Honeymoon is over

The honeymoon is over. The room was awesome. I highly recommend the Hawaiin suite at the Sunset Inn and Suites in Clinton, Illinois. The room had a hot tub, a dry sauna, a shower, which was 2 showers with sprays at the body level, there was some kind of wet sauna thing in the shower. I think the bed was a posturpedic bed too. There were 3 flat screen TVs in the room. You could watch while laying in bed, while sitting in the hot tub, or while sitting on the toilet. Not sure why that one is so important, but it's pretty unique. There was a nice little bar area, a fridge, and a microwave. So you can bring just about anything that you want and have a good time. I had a great time, and the room was awesome.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Innovation

I've been reading a lot about innovation lately. I put it on my PDP (personal development plan) for the year at work, and want to try to do whatever I can to help make my company more money. The thing that I find the most difficult about innovation at work is how closed-minded people are, as noted in "Who Should be part of the Innovation Process" The people who are going to have the best ideas are the people closest to the customers. They are the ones that are going to see what little tweaks can be made to make their lives easier.

For some reason at my company innovation is limited to the supervisors, managers, and IT staff. I love that the IT staff gets to innovate, we sit with the reps and watch them work to find things that we think can make them more efficient. However, it always comes down to "If it didn't happen while I was there, I don't know that we can fix it". I agree that the IT staff has a much better understanding of how difficult something will be to implement, so we have a better immidiate feeling of whether or not the change is worth the cost, but we aren't generating enough change.

I would love to see some kind of innovation policy put into place at work. I've tried several times with the departments that I've supported to make it clear to them that the door is open to any and all suggestions, but I just don't get any suggestions until I stop by, then I'll get told "Oh this has been breaking for a few weeks now". I don't want my groups, or any group , to have to put up with something not working for any amount of time. It's these little annoyances that we want to get cleaned up. These are the things that costs us precious time when dealing with the customers. Here's an example.

I was working on an application recently. While I was using it I was annoyed that after searching for a record a list would return, even if it only found one match. And I couldn't just hit enter to select that record, I had to tab through 15 fields and hit enter, or move my mouse and click. The problem, selecting a record after searching was annoying. That's the only description I had for it. It wasn't slow, I could do it in less than two seconds with the mouse, it was just annoying. I changed the application, completely unsolicited, to set focus to the list immediately after searching. My thought was that most of the time the search would return a correct answer, so we want to make it easier to select that record. It took me 2 minues of coding to take that annoyance away. I was observing the reps working just this week and was thanked by 3 different people for fixing that. This is a little annoying thing that's existed in the application for 5 years, and yet in all that time, not a single person had made a suggestion or requested that it get changed.

Maybe being a computer programmer, with my entire focus on solving problems, makes me recognize things like this more easily. I think however it's more likely that we have supervisors and managers that don't take the complaints of their employees and turn them into potential improvements to the situation. That's the biggest source of my innovation. I find more things to improve by talking to people and listening to them gripe about something than I do by actually watching them work. I just use watching them work as a device to get me to sit at their desk and listen to them complain. Besides, no employee wants to be told "I'm just here to listen to you complain".

New position at work

I am used to having things change frequently on me, as a software engineer. Wednesday night just before I left, I had a meeting with my manager and his boss, the director of the department.

They hit me with something that I was not really prepared for. Becuase one of the other IT guys quit to work at another company we were putting on a shift. I was completely stunned. I had expected that the guy leaving would need replaced, but there were some candidates that I thought fit the role very well. It would have hurt the existing team a little to lose their knowledge, but they would still be within IT, just not working for the same money making unit of the company. I was told that in order to replace this guy instead of doing a straight up replace we were going to move someone that doesn't really know enough to replace him, but he'll learn on the job, then we have to move someone to replace him, and then I have to move to replace that someone. I had 2 or 3 straight up replacements that I thought could happen, instead we were moving 3 people around.

After letting it soak in for a few days, I think I'm going to be ok with the move. It's a ton better than being laid off, and I do like change, the new work group will be a different environment that I can potentially learn new things from, and I have a new manager. I'm hopeful that moving to the new team will get me up to speed on Java faster, since we are shifting our focus from .Net to Java WebSphere development. I think that on my current team I would have been one of the last to be trained, since I have a lot of expertise on the existing applications and I would spend a lot of time maintaining them while others were brought up to speed on Java.

A lttle alcohol Wednesday night, and some help from Erin and I got my initial nerves out of the way. The official announcement to the rest of the department was sent last night. As of Monday, I officially work for a new team. Oh the places I'll go, and those that I've been. 6 years and it's my 7th manager change (I did have the same one twice though).

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Busy

Everything since the wedding has been busy. Monday, um, I can't remember what we did Monday night, but it was something.

Tuesday, our lives revolve around watching American Idol on TV. Of course we watched it.
Wednesday. We were invited out to Aunt Shel's for dinner, and took her up on the offer. A night of BS and watching American Idol to find out that Eliott was going home.

Other than that I've just been reading news and blogs on the internet and reading books. I'm reading "Blink", and "C# Design Patterns", and "Keys to Success"

Monday, May 15, 2006

Jaden has 2 teeth



You can kind of see the two little white spots by my finger, those are Jaden's teeth. This was the best picture I could get.

Happy Monday

Mother's day went well. I called and wished Trish and my mom both Happy mother's day.

I feel bad. I had bought a gift for my mom and cards for my grandmothers, but forgot to give them out on Saturday when I saw them. Now their mother's day gifts will be late.

I also bought a little necklace for Erin. It was nothing outrageous, just a little hear with an Opal in it since that's Jaden's birthstone.

We didn't do anything special for mother's day. The house was still a mess from all the last minute preparations for the wedding and from bringing our gifts home, so we mostly just cleaned house on Sunday. I offered to take Erin out for dinner, but she decided to just have Subway brought in. At least she didn't have to cook.

We only have 4 more days of eating hot dogs until we'll be through what we had left over from the wedding.

Our wedding gifts were great! We got a few gift cards, some cash, and some cooking items just like we asked for. Thek coffee pot will probably be the most appreciated because it's programmable. I don't have to start my coffee when I wake up now, it will be ready when I wake up. That means I'll be able to have it every day, woohoo!!!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I'm married!

What a day! it was a great day. Things were awesome. The only thing that I could have asked for better, was the weather could have been a little warmer. There was a giant storm and it was supposed to rain all day, but we were lucky enough that it stayed dry.

The morning started by going to Erin's mom's and getting things organized and setting up. Erin went to get Ady's hair done. I got things set up. Aunt Shel showed up with some of the food and the cakes (which were awesome) and the centerpieces.

The wedding was a White Sox theme, proposed by Erin back in December. We bought matching t-shirts for the best man and Maid of honor, plus our parents. Since Erin's parents are divorced and remarried, we also included the new spouses, they are after all family and we love them all just as much. Erin's jersey is pinstriped and mine is black. We customized them so they said Rigney 06 on the back.

The tablese were covered with either a black or white table cloth. Each table had two cakes, that were half a sphere decorated like a baseball. And two center pieces. The centerpieces were planters that were baseball gloves with white flowers in them that were arranged to be round.

The maid of honor walked down the aisle to "Cheap Seats" by Alabama and the Bride walked down the aisle to "Centerfield" John Fogerty. However, when she came down the CD skipped terribly and the music never made it out of the intro into the lyrics. We said our vows and there was a little funny moment when the rings were placed on the bible, the preacher asked "Who's ring is who's"?

Immediately following the wedding was the reception. We had hamburgers and hot dogs with peanuts, chips, and nachos to go with. It was easy to get the food ready and there weren't any other sides to deal with, which was great. We had different kinds of soda and beer, but almost nobody drank any beer.

The sign-in sheet is a Scorebook for baseball. Erin worked very hard to make party favors to give away. It was a mesh back filled with little baseball chocolates, Baby Ruth candy bars, each bag had a sportsball keychain on it. Yesterday's post talked about needing long sleeve shirts for under our jersey's and t-shirts. My parents were able to find a warm outfit for Jaden and it looked great.

All in all everything was wonderful. We were married outside where we wanted to be and had lots of pictures taken. The only bad thing really is that even though we brought our digital camera, we didn't get any pictures taken so I don't have any to post, but as soon as I can get some I'll let you all see.

I love my wife Erin, you can find out more about her at her own blog. "the corn was good".

Friday, May 12, 2006

One day left

This week was busy, busy, busy.
Today Erin got her nails done and bought long sleeve shirts to go under our t-shirts to prepare us for a cold wet day tomorrow. It sucks that they are calling for rain, but it may still be dry at least for the wedding time. I brought some more things to Erin's mom's for the wedding and we don't have a lot left to do.

Today was a crappy day for work. I was so excited and preoccupied with the wedding that I didn't get a lot accomplished. I thought I would be able to focus better and get my job done, but no, I'm too distracted by what's about to happen. I'm so excited.

I'll try to blog as much as I can about the wedding after it happens. I have no idea what all is going to happen tomorrow, but I look forward to it and I will enjoy everything that happens, no matter what it is.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Is it a milestone?

Happy birthday to me. I'm now 30. What does it mean? I think of the Tim McGraw song "My next 30 years" and most of it doesn't even seem to apply to me. "Drink a few less beers", how is that even possible. Maybe in my next 30 years I'll drink a few more beers. I don't feel any different today now that I'm 30 than I did yesterday at 29. But it does have me thinking. What would I like to do in my next 30 years that I can. I need to come up with a list of things that I want to accomplish. I've been so busy that I haven't kept up on my reading or my goals lists. I think it's time to get back into that.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Walk America

I've posted pictures of Bryan Otis on here before. Next weekend is the March of Dimes Walk America, and even though it's my honeymoon weekend, Erin and I are walking to support Bryan Otis. Heck, even Jaden was in the NICU in Springfield, but thinking back that is completely overshadowed by Bryan's story (no relation to the former Bears running back's story).

Here is a story that Jessie has sent out asking for donations for the walk. She did a great job telling the story, so I have reproduced it here for you. I still need to raise my $ so instead of sending you to her site I will also post mine: www.walkamerica.org/bone86.

Hello my name is Jessica Squires and I am participating in the March of Dimes Walk America and donations are needed. March of Dimes helps save the lives of many babies born premature. I would like to tell you why I am walking. I am a mother of a little boy who was born to be a “micro preemie”. He was born on September 1st 2005 and his due date wasn’t until Christmas day. So you don’t have to do the math, he was born at 23 week and 5 days, almost 16 weeks early. I had the perfect pregnancy. I never had morning sickness and felt fine. On August 17th I was 21 weeks pregnant and went to my doctors appointment for my second ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby. I was having a boy and was so excited. The nurse went out of the room to look at it and being this my first pregnancy I thought nothing of it. The doctor came in to tell me that I had fluid in my cervix and that I need to go meet my ob. At this point I was worried about not being able to work or go to school because of bed rest. My fiancé and I were both young and not in the position for me not to be working. When I we arrived at my ob’s office we were told that my cervix was thinning and that I needed to be on bed rest and sent to St. John’s Hospital for a quick check. Well my quick check ended up being 2 ½ weeks in the Trendelinburg position (my feet higher than my head so I wasn’t putting pressure on my cervix). We had doctors for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) coming to tell us the chances for survival for the baby at that point and that we had to make the decision of weather we wanted them to revive him or if we just wanted to hold him and tell
him how much we loved him and goodbye to a boy that I never had a chance to meet. I felt hopeless and that I was doing all I could be doing for him. We prayed every night to make it one more week, just one more. One day in the womb is like two days out. That day came when I had my baby boy Bryan Otis Leonard. I had him on the same day that my grandfather died two years earlier, September 1st 2005. He weighed 1lbs 5oz and was 113/4 in. long. We spent 4 months and 20 days in the NICU and came home on January 20th of this year. Today he is 7 months old weighing about 11lbs and 22in long. He was been in and out of the hospital since we have been home from the NICU from his lungs and eating problems, but he is alive and almost where he should be development wise. One thing you have to think about a baby born so premature is that you have to think of them by their corrective age. His corrective age is 3months and he acts like one. He is a little behind, but that is because of hospital stays. He had a level two bleed in his brain, but these have resolved and right now we don’t know if he will have any mental handicaps and won’t until he is older. If it wasn’t for the wonderful NICU staff and the March of Dimes foundation my baby wouldn’t be with us today. We thank everyone who has helped us get through this. Saving the lives of premature babies has come a long way. Just a few years ago babies born before 24 weeks wouldn’t even be taken up to save. Just think of the progress they have made already and what could happen within just a few more years. This is just my story and there are so many other babies that are a lot worse off than Bryan. Please help the March of Dimes and donate. Every little bit helps. You can donate on line at http://www.walkamerica.org/bryanmommie. Thank you for reading our story and for your consideration and I ask if you will please tell you family and friends about March of Dimes. Thank you very much for your help.

A very busy week

This week will be very busy. I posted some of the remodelling pictures from the weekend on earlier. There will be more coming, I just didn't have time to organize them and post them all. That took almost all of Saturday. My family showed up just before 9 AM and went right to work. What a day! With only a short break for lunch we (more they) worked through until 8 PM.

  • We removed the giant picture window from between the living room and what was at one time the front porch, but for us is the toy room.
  • We removed the French doors from between the master bedroom and the toy room and added some wall and a single door.
  • We threw out the brick from the floor where the Wood Burning stove used to sit.
  • We replaced the storm door with a new one that was not glass all the way to the floor. This one could have possibly been fixed by just putting in bigger screws into the existing door, but then when we put a screen in and left the door open it would be too easy for either the kids or the dog to go right through the screen, so we just got a door that worked for our situation.

Almost at the end of the day, was prom for Lana, she came over and we took a few pictures, then Erin and I ran over to watch the grand march. This was a new experience for me. I was not aware that proms had something where you were announced and walked down an aisle in front of spectators. It felt kind of like when people are announced at a wedding.

Sunday was also a busy fun day. It didn't start quite as early, but it was a lot. Erin and I needed to get food for the wedding and make sure things were ready. So we packed up in the car and took off to Springfield.

  • Erin got her hair cut. (I got mine cut two weeks ago.)
  • Erin got the engagement ring cleaned.
  • We bought the sign-in book for our wedding. We were throwing around ideas of what to do that would go along with our baseball theme. I came up with the idea of using a scorebook, so we bought one of those for people to sign in.
  • We went to GFS and bought food, plates, napkins, plasticware for the wedding. GFS was great! It's a lot like SAMS club, but you don't have to pay the membership fees. I think it may make it on our list of stops in Springfield more often.
  • We stopped for lunch at Ned Kelly's and with the coupon that we had, only paid $7 for the entire lunch.
  • Erin swore she needed shoes. Since I'm tripping over 3 pairs constantly I didn't think that was the case. We are just getting married in blue jeans and tennis shoes. But I finally caved. It's not that I think she needed the shoes, but I understand that this is our wedding. It's going to be the only one and last forever. I understand that she "wants" new shoes to get married in. Even though she doesn't need them I understand. Saturday she happened to pick up a pair of grey Nike with a pink Swoosh for Ady and she wanted to find something that matched for her. After a couple of shoe stores we found grey Nike's with a pink swoosh for Erin. It's not quite the same, but it's got the same colors. I thought that since Shoe Carnival has buy 1 get 1 at 1/2 off I may as well see if they have something that would kind of match for me. Again it wasn't that I needed it, but my White/Black/Red New Balance would have looked really bright in comparison to the greys. I stumbled across the exact same make of shoe in a 12 wide (yep big feet) and they fit. This is the first pair of Nike's I've been able to buy since 7th grade (I wore them or two years though). So even though we didn't need shoes, we were able to get two pairs of shoes that are the same make for 70$. It's a lot of money, but for 2 pairs of Nike shoes, it's a really great price. I'm excited and know that Erin is too.

All of this was great because Aunt Shel watched Jaden for the day, and we stopped back over there for a dinner that was already made, which just helped make the evening that much easier. It was a great day. Now we just have to get the last few things for the wedding. And get Married on Saturday.

Oh yeah as a small note, Thursday is my birthday. I'll be 30.

Jonas

Trish took some good pictures of Jonas this weekend, they looked so good I had to post them.


Jonas and his mom.


Contemplating.

What a happy look!

More Living room pics



Here's some more pictures of the living room from the other side.

Living Room Changes






Our living room used to be an outside room. Long before we bought the house the porch had been closed in, but the window was left. It wouldn't have been a big deal without kids, but we are both worried about the kids going over the back of the couch and through the window. Here are the remodel pictures of the window.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Strangely great gas mileage

I talk about saving the world with energy saving things every now and then, and I monitor my cars gas mileage almost every tank. I'm back and forth between driving my Chevy Cavalier and a Hyundai Accent. For some reason, the most recent tank of gas for both cars got a lot better than normal gas mileage.

The Cavlier normally gets 28 mpg and this last tank was 31.5 mpg.
The Accent normally gets 30 mpg and this last tank was 34 mpg.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Record companies drive me nuts

Ok, here's my complaint. I don't like that record companies are trying to raise the price of individual songs sold on iTunes, or anywhere else. I think 99 cents each is a good price. In fact I think it's a little high. Thankfully, Apple extended their agreement to continue at 99 cents.

Back to my rant. Almost all new CD's can be bought for $12-$14. These have typically 12-16 songs on them. That comes out to less than $1 each. Now for those CD's there is a lot in the way of overhead involved. The cost of the CD, the paper and printing for the cover, the jewell case, the shipping. All of those costs are wrapped up in a CD where the songs are at or less than $1 each. Apple offers a way to store a single copy of the song on a server that can be downloaded multiple times. The only thing that has to be provided is the space for the one song, and the bandwidth for the download. The costs, still $1. Even though almost all overhead is removed the cost is the same.

The reason, I think, that record companies want to raise this price, is that they know they produce 80-90% crap. They know that someone will shell out $12 for a CD that they have only heard 2 songs on even if the other 14 are crap. They don't do that when buying songs individually. In fact the people will generally just buy the 2 songs and leave the other 14 alone.

This is a good thing. First it reduces the amount of crap that we have to listen to. We are able to focus on hearing the things that we want to hear. I don't have to worry about a song having lyrics in it that I don't want when I'm not being stuck with that song on a CD and can just not buy it on iTunes. Second, I think in the long run it will make record companies offer more songs and better songs. Some record companies will want to focus on songs that will sell better, but other record companies could fill a niche void.

And that leads me to $1 being too much. I'll pay $1 for the 2 songs that I want from the CD. I may even shell out .50 cents for a few other songs on the CD, but I don't think the other songs are worth $1. Maybe songs should be re-evaluated and sold at a discount, just like CD's are at a store. If a song won't move at $1, drop it to 50 cents and see what happens. It may be that some songs make it as low as 25 cents. It may increase sales, which in turn will increase the visibility of the artist.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

An example of thinking outside the box

I'm a huge proponent of thinking outside the box. At work I always to try to solve every problem two or three different ways just to keep myself working to find more solutions and to stay creative. I read today about a student who thought outside the box whose teacher didn't like it. The one I don't like is using the string, because technicially it violates the rule of using nothing but the barometer.

I would like to add a couple.
1. Use the barometer like a survey device. Lining it up like it's in a triangle.
2. Measure the sun and the height of the shadow from the barometer and measure the shadow of the house to get the height of the house.

I love thinking outside the box.