Thursday, December 27, 2007

Here's A Morbid Article...And Yet Refreshing ??

Eco-friendly burial gaining popularity
Sarah Skidmore
The Associated Press

Portland, Ore. — Cynthia Beal wants to be an Oregon cherry tree after she dies. She has everything to make it happen — a body, a burial site and a biodegradable coffin.
"It is composting at its best," said Beal, owner of The Natural Burial Company, which will sell a variety of eco-friendly burial products when it opens in January, including the Ecopod, a kayak-shaped coffin made out of recycled newspapers.

Biodegradable coffins are part of a larger trend toward "natural" burials, which require no formaldehyde embalming, cement vaults, chemical lawn treatments or laminated caskets. Advocates say such burials are less damaging to the environment.

Cremation was long considered more environmentally friendly than burials in graveyards, but its use of fossil fuels has raised concerns.

Eco-friendly burials have been popular in Britain for years, but industry experts say it's starting to catch on in the U.S., where "green" cemeteries hosting natural burials have sprouted up in California, Florida, New York, South Carolina and Texas.

The majority of eco-friendly burial products come from overseas — including the Ecopod, which is made in the United Kingdom — although there are a few domestic makers. Options range from natural-fiber shrouds to fair-trade bamboo caskets lined with unbleached cotton. There are also more traditional-looking handcrafted coffins made of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The market is potentially huge. U.S. funeral homes generate an estimated $11 billion in revenue annually and that figure is sure to grow as baby boomers age.

There are already specialty funerals, featuring caskets with custom paint jobs and urns with the insignia of a favorite team. Industry experts say eco-friendly funerals are just an extension of such personalized end-of-life planning.

Biodegradable containers cost from around $100 for a basic cardboard box up to more than $3,000 for a handcrafted, hand-painted model.

"It's hard to tell if it's a fad or if it's here to stay," said Bob Fells, of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. "We are certainly positioning ourselves that if this is what the community wants, we are ready to serve them."

The Green Burial Council is working on certification programs to verify the commitment and quality of providers who say they are going natural.

"What we are trying to do is to make sure this concept doesn't get 'green-washed' down the drain," said Joe Sehee, the council's founder and executive director.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Grandma's Sugar Cookies

My grandma makes the best sugar cookies IN THE WORLD. That's not an opinion, it's simply a fact that has to be stated. Every Christmas season she makes hundreds of these cookies over an approximate 2 week period and we make ourselves sick stuffing them into our faces as fast as we can. She won't share the exact recipe with us yet, but as she has gotten older she is more willing to let everyone help her get the cookies iced and decorated. We let the great-grandkids start out icing some, but they tire of it pretty quickly. So, we take over and the fun begins. We have a standing rule that if you mess up the icing and the cookie gets smeared, you have to eat it immediately. Which of course means several cookies an hour "accidentally" get smeared.

Grandma makes cookies in the shape of stars, christmas trees, stockings, snowmen and gingerbread men but she also has a great sense of humor and likes to mix things up by throwing in random cookie shapes. In the past we have had rabbits, fall leaves, and easter eggs. This year's batch of cookies included cookies in the shape of ice cream cones. Here's a few pictures of some decorated cookies. Too bad you guys can't taste them.





Friday, December 21, 2007

The Daily Coyote

I wanted to bring to your attention my newest blog obsession. It's called The Daily Coyote and details one woman's journey raising an orphaned coyote pup. The coyote's name is Charlie and his best friend is Eli, the cat. The pictures on this website are so beautiful, they might just inspire you to move to Wyoming.

Speaking of my favorite blogs, I should mention that I discovered The Daily Coyote while reading Dooce. Dooce is already listed on the sidebar in my "Favorite Blogs" section and now I have added The Daily Coyote to that section as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Saw Santa Today

He was sitting in the hospital cafeteria when I went upstairs to get some lunch. He was, of course, surrounded by people but I got close enough to notice that he was wearing an official employee id badge that actually said "Santa Claus" and had his picture on it. I know St. John's is a great place to work, but I never dreamed that even Santa was on the payroll.

Speaking of Christmas, it is fast approaching. I only have 1 week left to play this song at full volume. This is David Foster's version of Carol of the Bells. If it sounds familiar, it is the same version they use at Silver Dollar City on the 5 story Christmas tree.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm Hoping To Have Snow Ice Cream

I love to see it snow. I know it's inconvenient and makes the roads dangerous, etc., etc. Lots of people would rather it NOT snow. I get it. It's just that it can be so beautiful to see. Especially if the flakes are the big, soft, fluffy ones that fall slowly to the ground. I'm really hoping that's the kind of snow we get tonight and tomorrow. We're obviously going to get something, and I think the pretty, gentle kind of snow would be much better than the slushy, ugly mix of snow and ice.
Plus, if we get the pretty fluffy kind of snow then I can have snow ice cream.

Just in case you've never had the pleasure of eating snow ice cream, here's the recipe:
INGREDIENTS
1 gallon snow
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk
DIRECTIONS
Gather clean snow in a bowl, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. Serve at once.

Also, I'm hoping to get some good pictures of a winter wonderland. I got some ice storm pictures last winter, but not really any pretty snow pictures. So, here's hoping it snows! (don't hate me for that)

On another note, the beginning of this week started out rough for a lot of folks who had to deal with some major ice. One of my favorite blogs has some great photos of how it affected his hometown of Hutcheson, Kansas. Here's the link for The Lope. After you look at that post, you should actually check out the rest of his blog and even consider bookmarking the page. He's an interesting guy who tell interesting stories and is an amazing photographer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Either I'm A Beauty Salon Moron, Or

My hair is defective. There simply can be no other explanation. Once again, I have gone in for a trim and came out practically bald. How does this happen? Multiple times?

I can't decide whether my use of the word "trim" is completely wrong, or if maybe my hair has 3x the shrinkability factor of normal hair so that when it's wet they are cutting a normal amount, but then when it dries that amount is multiplied by 3.

It's gotta be one or the other, because not only has this happened multiple times - it has happened at completely different salons with completely different stylists. See, I'm not one of those people who has a regular hairdresser that I keep appointments with and go to exclusively. Instead, I wake up one random day and decide that if my hair doesn't get cut RIGHT NOW then I simply cannot go on living. So, I find the first place that can get me in and go there. But, don't blame this on quick, easy "convenience storeish" salons. I have also been scalped before by someone at a traditional salon who had cut my hair before.

Aaarrgggghhhh! It's so short on the crown of my head that it WONT' EVEN LAY DOWN. Once again, I look like a boy. Somebody tell me what I am doing wrong, or at least how I can prevent this from happening again.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Return To Action

After being sick for over a week, I was really missing being on the go. I'm normally a pretty active person and I hadn't felt like doing anything for quite a while. So Saturday morning I decided I was feeling better whether my body agreed with me or not. I hopped out of bed and drove down to take Charlie and Jessica to the Seligman Christmas parade.

The kids eagerly anticipated the candy that was going to be thrown:


But my favorite part of any parade is the drums (even if they're out of step):
These guys are from my alma mater- Southwest High School at Washburn


I don't know about other parts of the world, but in the Ozarks we like classic cars:


The kids always like the ponies:


The Lions Club was really cute:


All the candy was starting to make the kids goofy:


But they straightened up just in time for Santa, who was riding a golf cart:

Friday, December 07, 2007

Still Alive & Kicking

Not loving it, but I am doing it. Seems like I am finally on the road to recovery. My ribs are still extremely sore and I still have a lovely sounding cough, but it is becoming more infrequent and less obnoxious. Guess I'm going to pull through after all. I'll be back to smoking and boozing in no time.

Just kidding family. :)

Monday, December 03, 2007

My Doctor Said It's BS

He really did. Bronchitis & Sinusitis. That's what I'm suffering from. Plus, my tonsils are swollen and apparently my inner ear is retaining liquid and is almost swollen shut in both ears. Do I know how to get sick or what?

For a week now I've been launching into horrendous coughing spells at work. Since we are a phone-based helpdesk, my customers and co-workers really appreciate all the loud coughing and gagging. I keep having to run to the bathroom so that I can gag until I puke without disturbing anyone.


As an added bonus, today during a violent attack that led me into the bathroom to puke, I apparently pulled a muscle in my rib cage. Or maybe I actually broke a rib. I'm not sure exactly, but I do know that nothing has ever hurt this bad. Now the simple act of breathing is enough to bring tears to my eyes - and you don't want to be anywhere near me when I have to cough. It seems that extreme pain makes me scream obscenities and then whimper like a baby.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clean Out Your Closets And Help Others

I found this on OzarksFirst.com and I wanted to share it.


Clothing Drive for Family Violence Center
Date: Nov 26, 2007 (Monday) - Dec 20, 2007 (Thursday)
Time: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Location: Adam and Eve - 1332 E. Republic Road, Ste F & G, Springfield

Event Details: Please bring your clean, gently used items to benefit victims of abuse at the Family Violence Center in Springfield.

This donation drive will run through the first three weeks of December, in time for the holidays. If you would like to donate a gift-type item for someone at the Center, we will also take those to the Family Violence Center in December.

The items must be brought to Adam and Eve - 1332 E. Republic Road, Ste F & G, Springfield. Hours are Monday - Thursday 10am to 10pm. Friday and Saturday till 1030pm. Sunday 5p-10p.

No purchase necessary - we are doing this just to help the Family Violence Center, which assists abuse victims throughout the year. The center is often forgotten during holiday fundraisers. The drop-off runs from November 26 through December 20.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Go Tigers!

I don't normally watch college football, but that doesn't mean I don't root for certain teams. One of my favorite college football teams is USC, another is FSU. And of course, no matter what's going on in my life I manage to completely despise the Arkansas Razorbacks (and that's not just limited to football, I despise them in all areas). But now college football has become exciting to me - here's why.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Squanto

Have you ever heard the name before? Squanto? He was an important dude. I am thankful for Squanto. His real name was Tisquantum and he was a Patuxet Native American Indian. There are many variations of the story of Squanto's life. Some articles claim that as a young teenager Squanto was kidnapped by Englishmen who tried to sell him into slavery. Other information indicates that he simply made friends with some of the white settlers that moved into New Plymouth near his native village and voluntarily followed them to England to spend several years working for his new friends.

Either way, we do know that as a young man he left his tribe, left America and spent years in Europe working for the Englishmen before he finally gained passage back to the "New World" with Captain John Smith (of Pocahontas fame). As he was making his way back to his village, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Spain. Luckily, he fell into the hands of a group of friars at a Catholic Monestary. They taught him their religion and he became a Christian. The friars were able to get Squanto passage to England where he spent several years working as a servant.

Squanto was gone an approximate total of 10 years from his family and tribe before he finally arrived in North America again. Sadly, when he returned to his village he discovered that all of his people had died of a disease (accidentally brought to them by the English settlers) the previous year. He then befriended the settlers who lived near his old village. These settlers were the Pilgrims and they soon realized that Squanto was an invaluable friend. He helped them survive the winter by showing them how to build warm houses. He also taught them how and when to plant corn and showed the women how to cook the corn so that there was enough food for everyone. Most importantly, he acted as interpreter between the Pilgrims and their Indian neighbors. He advised them on how best to maintain a peaceful relationship with the Indians and made the first Thanksgiving possible.

After all the "white-man" had done to him and his people, he cared about human life enough to help the Pilgrims. Thank you, Squanto, for caring.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Consumer Alert: Plastic Bag Shortage

Keep all the times you've seen Wal-Mart bags littering the parking lots and highways in mind when you read the following:

This morning I stopped by Wal-Mart on my way to work because a friend who's in the hospital needed a few small items and I volunteered to bring them to her. While I was there I picked up a couple of things that I needed for the house. Of course, all of these items fit easily into one plastic Wal-Mart bag. However, I needed the bag to carry the items for my friend into the hospital. Which would mean that the stuff I purchased for myself would be rolling around my car seat on my ride home tonight. Silly me, I decided to ask the cashier if I could have an extra bag.

She was a fairly young girl and as soon as the words were out of my mouth she began to panic. Oh, the horror! Someone wants to steal a plastic bag from her! She started stuttering while at the same time began swiveling her head from side to side like she was expecting someone to jump on her if she let me out of the store with a stolen bag. She mumbled something about "we're not really supposed to let people take those". It was the strangest thing.

Obviously there is a shortage of Wal-Mart bags!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One Artist, One City, 9 Times

That's what the back of my new t-shirt says. The t-shirt I bought at the Garth Brooks concert I went to last week. That's right, I'm bragging. We had awesome seats, the concert was amazing. I don't listen to much country music but Garth Brooks is the bomb. I've included a few pictures below. If you want to see them all you can click HERE









Wednesday, November 14, 2007

re·turn (r-tûrn)
noun
1. a. The act or condition of going, coming, bringing, or sending back.
b. The act of bringing or sending something back to a previous place, condition, or owner.

2. a. Something brought or sent back.
b. returns Merchandise returned, as to a retailer by a consumer or to a wholesaler by a retailer.
c. Something that goes or comes back.

3. A recurrence, as of a periodic occasion or event: the return of spring.


That's right homies - I'm back! I apologize to the small number (4 at the most) of people who actually read this blog. I simply haven't felt well at all lately and it has resulted in a complete lack of energy and interest. I also have not played Runescape since before Halloween, so you can't blame my lack of posting on my game addiction. But, I am starting to feel a bit better and I'm hoping that if I start becoming more active again my energy will return. Other than wanting to sleep all the time (and a slight bladder infection) I have not been sick in any way. There's no snot, no headaches, no fevers, no aches and pains. I really don't know why I have been so drained. And no, I have not gone to the doctor. And yes, I realize that I should. It's just that they're such a waste of time and money. Unless I'm seriously ill, of course. Then I would go to the doctor. But I'm not seriously ill. I simply want to sleep 20 out of every 24 hours. No. Big. Deal. Besides, I'm busy pretending to myself that I have energy and I feel better so that my body will be tricked into thinking that it's not tired all the time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No, I Am Not An Atheist & I Do Not Worship Satan

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the costumes and the blood and the television specials about hauntings. I love the crisp fall air and carving jack-o-lanterns and going to corn mazes. I love everything about Halloween. But this year, Halloween fever didn't really affect me the way it normally does. It sucks because none of my co-workers care about the holiday at all, so except for a few things in my cube there are no decorations. And I didn't get to decorate like I normally would because all of my really cool decorations are still in storage in Seligman. Plus, for the last 4 years or so I have always helped Charlie and Jessica get their costumes together and then I take off work, pick them up early at school and make sure we're at the front of the line for the "trick-or-treat around the square" which is like the major Halloween event in the area I come from.

This year, I didn't think about taking the day off so I will be missing out on taking Charlie and Jessica around the square. To make matters worse, since I'm not available, they aren't going to get to go and because they're not going to get to go they didn't get any costumes this year. That makes me sad. Also, I have no reason to wear a costume, no reason to buy fake blood, no reason to color my hair. I don't know anyone who wants to go to a haunted house with me, no one who will go see a scary movie. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is being presented at midnight at the Shrine Mosque and I won't be there. It just all sucks.

If you don't feel any sympathy for me, think of it this way. It's how you would feel if Christmas day were tomorrow and not only did it not snow, but you have no christmas tree. The majority of people list Christmas as their fave holiday, so that should be a fairly general analogy.

I am trying to make the best of it though. I do have a plastic pumpkin full of candy on my desk at work which everyone seems to enjoy. And tomorrow I'm bringing in some Halloween cupcakes as a treat for my co-workers. Also, there's some good TV tomorrow night I can watch, including a show on the Sci Fi Channel called "Children of the Grave" which will be featuring our own local landmark Pythian Castle. I'm excited about that one. And hopefully I will get some trick-or-treaters at the house.

Ooh, that reminds me....I need to replace the front porch light tonight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Playing Runescape - Do Not Disturb

Thought I should post a quick note just to let you guys know that I am still alive and well. I have a lot of things I want to post about, such as:
- my trip to the Mt. Vernon Apple-Butter Makin Days
- my trip to the crafts fairs in NorthWest Arkansas
- the awesome painting I bought at a crafts fair that I am so proud of
- what I found on the internet which made me not so proud of my awesome painting
- what happened to my pretty new car over the weekend
- I signed up for a Flickr membership, so all my photos are now online
- etc., etc., etc.


Unfortunately, I have gotten a little side-tracked by my latest addiction. It's an online game called Runescape. It's a cheesy, Java-based online RPG that one of my co-workers has been talking about constantly. She was having so much fun and telling me so many stories that I had to check it out. And for now, I am hooked. So, that's what I've been doing with most of my online time.

Now, it is true that 90% of my blog posts are made while I'm at work. And I cannot play Runescape at work (the game engine won't load through our network's firewall), so theoretically I should still have time to update my blog. But no, instead I am spending all my time at work looking up information about Runescape so that I will know how to make money faster and what items I should buy.

Hopefully, I will get this out of my system soon. I'll keep you posted - maybe.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Lucky Bamboo Plant...

...sure does look cute, but has nothing to do with this post whatsoever. Now that we have clarified that issue, let's move on.

For the second week in a row, I am taking a vacation day on a Friday. It's rather nice being a slacker. I don't even really have anything else to say. Just thought I would brag about having Friday off work.

Plus, I get to go here

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why Can't A Sandwich Always Be A Sandwich?

The cafeteria where I work has great food. And because we get an employee discount when we wear our badges, it is a cheap place to grab some lunch. At least most of the time it is. Sometimes, I come away from the cash register with visions of poking my fork in the cashiers eye and pouring my drink over her head. Because apparently the price of food items in the cafeteria varies from day to day depending on what color of shirt you are wearing and whether or not the cashier has to pee.

Okay, maybe those aren't the reasons - but there is something wrong with whatever pricing system they do or do not have in place. Last week, I ran upstairs and grabbed a bottle of Red Diamond Sweet Tea (best drink in the world), went to the sandwich bar and ordered a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, and picked up a small bag of chips. I get to the register and the woman glances at my employee badge, charges me $1.60 and I'm on my way. That's a great lunch. And that is typically the price I pay for those items.

On another day last week, I went to the salad bar, rounded my paper plate over with a huge salad, grabbed a Red Diamond tea and headed over to pay. When you make your own salad, it has to be weighed to determine the price so I placed it on the scale. She glanced at my badge, read the scale, entered the tea and I was charged $2.30. Again, another great price for such a large salad and a drink.

But today, for whatever reason, prices were not so great. Today I picked up a "pre-packaged sandwich" out of the refrigerator (usually left from the night before, so they are a discounted price) and a pre-packaged salad which comes in a plastic container about the size of a McDonald's Fillet-O-Fish box. Not really that big. For a drink, I opted for a bottle of Crystal Light and stepped up to the cash register proudly wearing my employee badge. The old lady sitting at the register did appear to glance at my badge, I heard her say "sandwich, salad, juice" and then she turned to me and said "$5.00 please."

What? How the hell is this $5? I asked her "did you get my discount" and flipped my badge towards her.
"Yep", she replied.
"Well," I said, "how much is the Crystal Light? I normally get tea and it's only a dollar"
"The Crystal Light is a dollar also"
And of course, they do not print receipts. So unless I want to start making a much larger scene and continue holding up the line of people that was growing behind me, I just had to walk off and wonder exactly what the hell did I pay for this day old sandwich and minuscule salad?

And this is not the first time I have had this issue. I don't normally eat a great variety of foods there mainly because nothing is priced (isn't that convenient?) so I kind of stick with what I know is cheap, because my money is needed in places much more important than buying food. So, I've noticed before that a drink and a PB & J sandwich ranges from $1.25 to $1.90 or so depending on who is checking me out. But, it's such a great price either way that I've never really worried about it.

But today's lunch was ridiculous. Back to bringing home-made PB & J sandwiches for me - at least for the rest of the week. I've spent my $5 lunch allowance all in one trip. Bastards.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mad World



"Mad World"

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
'Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Mad World

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

Monday, October 08, 2007

It's All About The Fun, Not The Score

I have been to Arrowhead Stadium to watch the KC Chiefs play football at least 10 times over the years and every trip is just as spectacular as the very first one. This past weekend, I got to go again after a 4 year absence and my Chiefs addiction has been revived. I don't care if you have been to other NFL stadiums, or if you hate the Chiefs, or even if you don't like football at all - there's nothing like the Arrowhead experience. You have simply got to check it out. I have pictures below, just keep in mind it was sprinkling and overcast all day so the pictures are not as good as they could have been.

First of all - it's the loudest stadium in the NFL. And they ain't kidding.



Second of all - the stadium and field are breathtakingly beautiful. (which may be true of other stadiums)

Here's the view at field level.



Here's the view from my seat.



All of my trips to Arrowhead have always been fun. The tailgating in the parking lot is enough to entertain you even if you don't have a ticket to the game. But this trip had an extra added bonus. I got the tickets through my cousin Shawn and his wife Crystal who went to the game with us also. They have recently met and befriended the KC Superfans. In fact, Shawn is working on a costume so that he can become a KC Superfan and help with the charity events they donate their time to.

Because we were there with Shawn, Scott and I got to meet The X Factor & Red Xtreme. In fact, we went up Saturday night and stayed at Red Roof Inn and Red Xtreme and his wife came over to visit at the hotel. These people are really cool and they do amazing things for charities. It was awesome walking through the parking lot with them. They are treated just like celebrities. It takes forever to get anywhere because someone is always wanting a picture with them. And these guys are so sweet, they never turn anyone down.

Here's The X Factor on the left and Red Xtreme on the right.



Here's a rare glimpse of me with Red Xtreme (notice the stadium in background).



We also got to go over to where the family and friends of Chiefs player Boomer Grigsby (#46) were having their tailgate party and hang out with them. Everyone was very kind even though I was a stranger. We were told we could come back after the game to meet Boomer and get autographs, but unfortunately the massive downpour of rain at the end of the 4th quarter made us run for the car and head home.

Here is the tailgate party.



Here is Boomer warming up before the game.



And here he is with some of his fans.



With about 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter, with the Chiefs down 17 - 0, the rain started falling and Scott and I decided to pack it in for the day. So, we actually missed the touchdown that KC scored in the closing seconds of the game. But, we did get to see our team sack the QB several times.



Here's how we knew the rain was going to be bad.



And this is what it looked like as we waited in traffic and shivered in our wet clothes.



It sure was a great trip despite the rain and the loss. I had forgotten how pumped up that place actually gets me. In fact, if any of you would be interested in just going up and partying in the parking lot during a home game, let me know. I might not be able to afford tickets to multiple games a year, but I would love to go up and tailgate.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Too Bad I Don’t Have Any Friends






The Loyal Friend
Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expects the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over if that trust is ever broken.

Wanna take the Dr. Phil personality quiz? Click Here

You Know You’re A Dork When….

….you leave for work 30 minutes early so that on your drive you can search for street sofas. The good news is I’m the current leader in the contest thanks to my adventures this morning. Of course, there is no prize for winning this thing, unless you count street cred. But hey, I’m single and don’t really know anyone outside of my co-workers, so I gotta kill time somehow.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mid Week Meditation

Take a few moments to sit back and enjoy some beautiful scenery and relaxing music

Monday, October 01, 2007

Guess What I'm Having For Dinner

This past weekend, while I was away, some of the boys came over to the house to hang with Scott and "nerd out" by playing computer games for 3 days straight. This goes hand in hand with pigging out on junk food. By the time I got home late Sunday night, they had gone through two thousand pizza rolls, 17 lbs of Velveeta and Rotel, 9 gallons of salsa, 35 bags of chips, 300 oreo cookies, and an assortment of beer and soda. They actually picked up after themselves pretty good, but it's gonna take me a few hours to lick all that cheese dip off of the table.

It's All About The Free Tickets

l. to r. - Joshua Stevens, David St. Romain, Angela Hacker, Zac Hacker

Aside from a few random episodes back in 2005, I do not watch the tv show "Nashville Star". I had no idea who the 4 people in the above picture were and I couldn't tell you the name of this years winner - until last night. Now I know that the winner was Angela Hacker and that she has an absolutely amazing voice. I also know that it was her brother Zac Hacker who came in second behind his big sister.

Why the sudden influx of information about Nashville Star? Because I got to see the above group in concert last night. I didn't even have to pay for my ticket. My cousin and her mom were on their way up to the show and had an extra ticket because their third person wasn't able to make it at the last minute. Since I was already in Springfield, they thought of me and gave me a call. Now, I'm not someone who will turn down an activity very often. I love to go and do things, no matter what they may be. So even though I didn't know any of the performers I was more than willing to go to the concert.

It was in the Juanita K. Hammonds Center and our seats were 3rd row orchestra - awesome seats! I am so glad I got the opportunity to go and hear these guys. They were all amazing. I do have to say that I enjoyed David St. Romain the most because he has such a wonderful rich voice and plenty of breath to back it with. Plus, there was something about him that just made you all hyper. Of course, Angela was the same way. She has an enormous amount of energy and one of the best female voices I've ever heard.

Josh Stevens could make any girl swoon with his romantic innocence and Zac Hacker should be playing rock and roll - cause he rocked. After the show all 4 artists were available for pictures and autographs. Of course I'm a moron and did not bring my camera because I didn't realize I was going to enjoy the show. But, I did get a shirt autographed by all of them and my Aunt took some pictures with her old-fashioned 35 mm camera. When she gets the hard copy of those she's gonna share them with me.

It was such a great experience I am going to make an attempt to watch the next season and I will definitely be attending the next tour if they come back my way. What a great concert that I didn't have to pay for. That was in addition to spending all day Saturday at Celebration City at a private company picnic eating free food, playing free games, riding free rides. We got free ice cream, cotton candy and kettle corn on top of everything else. I have had a great couple of days.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This Is Embarrassing.....

Want to hear something about me that is sad? I normally consider myself a person of "a-bit-better-than-average" intelligence, but today as I was browsing through the news I came across the following sentence - "YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar's junta slapped dusk-till-dawn curfews on the country's two largest cities....."

That is part of the opening sentence of a news story and I have to admit I didn't know the words "Yangon" "Myanmar" or "junta". I have looked them up since then, of course, but that's not the point. I didn't know that the nation of Burma had changed it's name to Myanmar in 1989. Wow. That's pretty weak of me!

The Return Of The King

See this nicely dressed gentleman above? He’s an ass. I love him. You will too. Tonight is the season premiere of House and I cannot wait. This is the beginning of the fourth season and (just like every other season) it promises to be a great one. Everybody should watch it. Those are my orders. Or else all your base are belong to us.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Drool....

1968 Convertible Camaro SS - WANT!


Concept 2009 Camaro - WANT!


Whatver the hell this is - DO NOT WANT!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast, Ye Scurvy Dogs!

Today is National Talk Like A Pirate Day, so show your pirate pride.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Open Mouth, Insert....Snake?

Hopefully next time Matt Wilkenson will make a different choice. Putting the head of a "pet" Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake in his mouth to show off for his friends has probably taught him a lesson he won't soon forget. Because, of course, the snake bit him - inside his throat. Here's the story (and a video with a cool, bloody picture)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Yo Ho Ho and A Bottle of Rum

That's right, I said rum. I also said ho, but I was merely referring to my cousin Sabrina who happened to be with me this weekend as I celebrated my birthday. I didn't lie about the ho (just kidding Sabrina), but I did sort of mislead you about the rum. I did not have a bottle of rum. What I actually had was a 6 pack of the new Parrot Bay Flavored Malt Beverages. The flavor I chose was "Wave Runner" which is passion fruit and mango. It was yummy! It was fruity tasting, like a wine-cooler, but packed the same amount of alcoholic punch as a typical bottle of beer. Since beer is the nastiest tasting thing on the planet and gets you drunk easy, and wine coolers taste great but don't do a damn thing to you, then drinking something that offers the best of both is awesome. The Parrot Bay drinks are more expensive than beer - I payed approx. $8 for a six pack - but much cheaper than my old method of buying various alcohols and flavors and ice so that I could spend my night making drinks instead of drinking them. Yep, you add the convenience factor in to the deliciousness and effectiveness and I will pay $8 for these things anytime.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fo Shizzle

Yo, Yo - I know I aint been round much this past week. But it's cool. I just been chillin, checkin out some stuff on the intrawebz. Here's some of the latest things that have been keeping me busy:

Playing around with photos

Keeping track of the latest video game news

Drooling over the hottest new gizmos

Polishing up on some long-forgotten places

Laughing my ass off here and here

And, of course, watching lots of football and movies on the glorious Samsung 50 inch DLP HDTV. Man, that tv has been in the house now for a whole year - and I still stare at it with wide-eyed wonder and amazement. It's the most beautiful thing ever.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wanna Take A Test?

Check out this test that I came across on Chatter.

Here's the result I got:

One Of Those Days


Do you ever just have one of those days? You know, the kind of day when you seem to be pissed off at the world yet you don’t really have any one specific reason why? Well, that’s the kind of day I am having today. For some reason every single thing is just frustrating the hell out of me. And it didn’t help at all when I finally decided to cheer myself up with some chocolate and had a 20 minute fight with the vending machine.

Yep, even the vending machine was out to get me today. I walked down to the break room with five $1 bills in my pocket, some of which were in very good condition, and could not get the stupid machine to accept one. I kept straightening and shoving several different bills but not one of them would even get started. So, I finally put a dollar into the $.65 Coke machine that dispenses cans to see if I could get it to return my dollar to me in quarters. Of course, it didn’t. It simply puked my same dollar right back out to me when I hit the coin return button.

Then I got feisty and stepped over to the $1.25 Pepsi machine that dispenses bottles to try the same trick there. But this time the trick was on me because the Pepsi machine not only doesn’t give back quarters, it doesn’t give back your dollar either. Now I have to put another dollar into that machine and buy a damn Pepsi. At least when my change was dispensed from my $2, I did end up with enough quarters to buy some chocolate. So, it all worked out in the end – 20 minutes after it began. Unfortunately it wasted my time, made my crankiness even worse (the chocolate was no longer going to be enough of a help) and cost me money I don’t have for a drink I didn’t want.

And that was all before lunch. Guess what? My day hasn’t gotten any better from there. Luckily for me, I’ll be laughing about it all in no time. I never stay too cranky for too long.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Heads Up!

I just wanted to make sure everyone realizes what a busy weekend we have ahead of us. All sorts of really cool local activities are taking place with something to please everyone.

Here's a short list:
Blues Festival
First Friday Art Walk
Japanese Stroll Gardens Fall Festivle
Route 66 Days at Strafford, MO
Wickman Garden Village Fall Festival

There's plenty more - just check the events calendar at the The News Leader

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weekend Roadtrip

One day last week I was reading one of my favorite blogs, The Lope, and found an entry about the Wheel Inn Drive-In in Sedalia, MO. The Wheel Inn is a classic style drive-in diner that was founded in 1947 and has been a popular Missouri attraction ever since. It is frequented by historic car clubs, nostalgia buffs, and peanut butter lovers. Why peanut butter lovers? Because the specialty burger served at the Wheel Inn is the GuberBurger - a hamburger on a bun that is topped with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and (of course) melted peanut butter.

The building has been virtually unchanged since being built in the late 40's, both inside and out. The original u-shaped counter still accomodates diners who choose to eat inside and the round shape of the building means that the cars who are parked outside act as the spokes of the wheel. The menu is simple burger-joint fare and the prices are inexpensive. The interior walls are lined with old photos of the landmark through the years, with the only noticeable changes being the appearances of the cars.


But sadly, the Wheel Inn is no more. Today, Labor Day, was their last day of business. They are being forced to close due to the widening of the intersection where the building is located. While the construction project doesn't exactly interfere with the actual building, it will completely take away the parking and entrance at the front of the building and the back of the lot will now only be accessible by a right turn. It's just not feasible for the place to remain open. So, what does any of this have to do with me? It meant I was taking a roadtrip.

I decided I had to see this piece of Missouri history for myself and I had to at least try a GuberBurger while they were still being cranked out. So my friend Kim, her two kids and I hopped in the car on Saturday morning and drove about 2 hours away to eat a burger. It sure is nice to have good friends who are willing to go on crazy adventures.

When we got there, the wait for food was over an hour. And I don't mean to sit down, there wasn't even a chance to sit down, I mean that we stood against the wall and the waitress took our order and then told us it would be over an hour. But it wasn't a huge surprise. We knew we were going to have a bit of a wait when we couldn't even park anywhere near the building. We parked in the lot of a dentists office nearby and walked up. Once we placed our order, we went back outside and sat down on the sidewalk surrounding the building that the cars pull up to when they park and order.
The kids did pretty good with the wait time, and the place was so active that we had plenty of people-watching opportunities which made the time go by pretty fast.

I was the only one who tried the GuberBurger (it was good) but everyone like their food. Kim's son Ben didn't really think a cheeseburger was worth the drive and the wait, but he wasn't too miserable. After we licked our fingers and took some pictures, we headed for home. We were headed south on Hwy 65 towards Springfield when we decided to take a detour out to the Truman Dam near Warsaw. No point in driving within a few miles of it and never stopping. And it turned out to be a really great little stop. They have an amazing visitor center there with all sorts of cool displays and historic photos. There is an observation area overlooking the lake and damn which made for some pretty pictures.


Also, across the parking lot was the nature trail and the Hooper House, a reconstructed farm house of historic signifigance. We walked the trail and discovered several other historic reconstructions along the way. There was an old log cabin (that was apparently home to a pet black snake) and a one-room schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was my favorite part because when you walked in, it was just like stepping back in time. There were even old, original textbooks and slates on the student's desks.




From there we made a quick side trip to Pomme de Terre State Park where I got to meet Kim's brother and see where they like to spend their weekends at the lake. Then, we headed home. It was a great way to spend the day and I'm thrilled that I made the trip. I apologize for not having more pictures, but I discovered when I got home that my camera was on the wrong settings and most of what I took did not turn out. These are some of the few that I salvaged.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bizarre Dream

I often have very colorful, graphic, detailed dreams that are completely bizarre. But the dream I had last night is still haunting me, so I thought I would share it with you. It involves some blood and a human parasite, so if your squeamish this serves as your warning to stop reading.

Okay, here's the dream (in a nutshell):

stuff happens, things are seen...I don't really remember how the dream began exactly. But suddenly I find myself walking along talking to my cousin Sabrina. We are walking down the highway on a beautiful sunny day and when I reach down to admire a flower alongside the road, I notice there is a hole in my left arm. More specifically, I notice that on the underside of my wrist there is a hole approximately the size of the tip of an ink pen. It is closer to my palm than my elbow, probably a 1/2 inch away from being under my watchband.

It doesn't hurt, there's no blood. I bring my arm up to my face and ponder how the hole got there. While inspecting it, I see a flash of movement inside and then what looks like the end of a maggot appears in the hole for a brief second and then disappears back into my arm. Well, since my cousin Sabrina works in a doctor's office she is our resident medical expert. I called her over to examine this mysterious hole and ask her opinion on whether or not I have a maggot in there and what I should do about it. While she's examining the hole, we see movement inside my arm again and a ripple goes up my flesh to my elbow.

Sabrina's medical decision was that whatever was in there needed to come out. So, she handed me a pair of tweezers and the next time I saw the tip of the thing coming out of the hole, I grabbed hold and pulled. What came out was some sort of worm the length and thickness of a marker or highlighter. The whole thing was covered in slime like a slug.The white thing that looked like a maggot was apparently it's tongue? Anyway, I could see every detail of how my flesh expanded around this huge worm as I pulled it through this tiny hole. But still there was no pain and no blood.

Suddenly I was standing in a grocery store with Sabrina so she grabbed a plastic produce bag to put the worm in so we could take it to the lab (?) and let someone examine it. We got the worm contained and were heading for the door when suddenly the hole in my arm (which had remained the size of the tip of an ink pen even though a huge worm came through it) started spurting blood in a major way. I covered it with my right hand but blood is just running and dripping through my fingers like crazy. In just a few seconds I have already made a puddle in the floor and people around us are starting to freak out. Sabrina removed my hand from the wound to see if she could sort of plug it up with the gauze that somehow magically appeared in her hand.

When she moved my hand and started wiping the blood away we noticed that the hole was getting bigger. It was growing in size as we watched it and when it got to about the size of a quarter, it stopped expanding. I could now see clearly down into my arm and the blood had stopped. (makes sense doesn't it?) The weird thing was I did not see any muscle or tissue. As I gazed into this hole down into my arm, all I saw was the bone and another huge worm lying underneath the bone wiggling around and flicking it's tongue. Sabrina screamed "Get It" and she grabbed the tweezers and plucked the worm from its spot. She placed it in the bag with the first one and that's all I remember from the dream.

Yep, I have strange dreams. Constantly. I've heard rumors that Stephen King gets his book ideas from his dreams. Sure wish I had the ablility to do what he does.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Men

Here's a list of the newest men in my life. I didn't do that badly.

Matt Hasselbeck QB
Shaun Alexander RB
Kevin Jones RB
Reggie Brown WR
Steve Smith WR
Hines Ward WR
Jeremy Shockey TE
Chad Pennington QB
Jaguar’s defense
Matt Stover K

Bench
Rex Grossman QB
DeShaun Foster RB
Steelers’ defense
Michael Turner RB
Jason Elam K
Joe Horn WR
Kellen Clemens QB
Jeff Reed K

Friday, August 24, 2007

Let The Games Begin!

Tonight, at Buffalo Wild Wings, my fantasy football team is doing their live draft. I am so freaking excited. Last year was the first time I ever participated in fantasy football and i wasn't sure if I was gonna like it or not. But, it actually helped keep me excited about football all through the season no matter how badly my poor KC Chiefs were doing.

So, I have been itching for the new season to start. And now that the draft time is almost here, I'm actually nervous about the picks I may get. Hopefully I will end up a little better off than I was last year. I swear every good player I drafted before ended up injured. There were several weeks when I had 4 or 5 players out with injuries. So, wish me luck.

I will happily announce all of my good grabs later on.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Which Way To The Lost & Found?

My brain is mushy. What causes that? By mushy, I mean totally unfocused and lacking any of its former powers. You know, like the power to accept and retain information or the ability to be entertaining. Cause those things seem to be beyond my capabilities these days. The soft and squishy brain may be alright to cuddle with in bed at night, but I am beginning to be annoyed by it during my awake times.

And this is not a new development. That may be the saddest part of the tale. My brain has been getting mushy for a very long time, and I have been aware of it all along. But, I’m finally to the point where it needs to stop. See, I believe I know what one of the main causes was. There was something going on in my life which was demanding all of my time and attention and would not allow me any time to use my brain for my own endeavors. So, it grew weaker and weaker and weaker. But, that over-demanding something is lessening its grip on me and I’m seeing a small glimmer of hope that I may save my brain and return it to its former glory.

But what I’m discovering is that as my gray matter diminished, one of the things it released its hold on to make room for the ever-increasing mush was my personality. Somewhere, wandering lost and alone by itself, is my personality. And I don’t know how to track it down. It really has left me feeling pretty crappy about myself. My personality loves to read, do crosswords, memorize song lyrics, make annoying wise-cracks at the most inopportune times, join in conversations with people, play trivial pursuit, keep a big group of friends, etc. Without it I am completely boring. Trust me. Completely. Boring.

I know this all sounds sorta weird, but it is nonetheless true. Every once in a great while I see flashes of my personality and can reach out and grasp a funny comment or two, but most of the time I’m just left with the mush in my brain and a frustration with being socially inept. Someone please help me find it. Tell me how to bully my brain back into shape and teach me how to regain my focus. I want my social abilities back, but I’ve been badgered into submission so often I’m afraid they may not return to me. Are there vitamins I can take? Should I do sudoku puzzles as exercise? Please advise.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why Can't I Do This?



He just used MS Paint to paint the Mona Lisa. Incredible.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Day Shift Is Killing Me

Well, on Monday I finally got to transition to my new shift at work. I have been so excited about the new hours and getting weekends off that I wasn't even thinking about how the details of my job might change. I'm still performing the same job function, but holy crap has my world changed. I was totally confident on my overnight shift. Any call that came in, I knew exactly how to handle it.

Not so much anymore. Now every call that comes in just puts me into panic mode. There are clinics calling in with issues that I've never heard of because they weren't open during my old hours. The hospitals are fully-staffed instead of just partially-staffed and all of the administrative personnel are calling in with problems relating to human resources or accounting, etc. This is crap I am not familiar with. The call volume is heavy, I knew it would be. There are a hundred times more people working now than there are overnight. But because we stay so busy, I don't have the time to put people on hold and ask my co-workers how to do things they have been doing in their sleep for years. They are on their own phone calls, doing their own work.

Don't get me wrong, everyone here has been very helpful and they do take the time to answer my questions. They keep telling me they don't expect me to be able to hit the ground running. But I'm not someone who enjoys feeling like a moron. I hate not knowing what to do or how to do it. Any problems we can't fix over the phone we create tickets for and assign them to specialized teams. The number of tickets we create versus the number of calls we fix without tickets is tracked and used to evaluate how we do our jobs. And I'm creating tickets right and left. It's crazy how I went from creating 5 or 6 tickets during my 10 hour overnight shift, to creating more than that every hour.

Everyone, boss included, keeps telling me not to worry. It's natural to need some time to adjust to the differences. They assure me that after a few weeks my number of tickets created will diminish and I will gain my confidence back. But right now that's hard to believe. I feel like I'm just totally worthless to them. And I hate that feeling.

But, I have Friday and Saturday nights off now - so I guess it's all worth it in the end.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Holy Bat Smoke, Batman!

Looks like one of the world's biggest toy manufacturers is having a bit of a rough spell. Just a few short hours ago, Mattel issued a massive recall of over 9 million Chinese-made toys because of the use of lead paint and tiny magnets (swallow danger).
Some of the more popular toys included in the recall are Batman action figures and Polly Pocket play sets. It's the Polly Pocket items that make up the majority of the recall with 7.3 million Polly Pocket dolls and accessories being included.

Check out more details HERE for specific item identifications.

Monday, August 13, 2007

10 Movies To Reconsider From 2007

I found a great article earlier today on MSN that lists 10 movies from this year which are already out on DVD and didn't get the attention they deserved in theaters.




Here's the article for brief reviews of the films
and here are the movies in alphabetical order:
1. The Astronaut Farmer
2. Black Snake Moan
3. Breach
4. Candy
5. Diggers
6. The Host
7. Hot Fuzz
8. Inland Empire
9. Old Joy
10. Zodiac

Demolition

On Friday I got to watch a guy demolish an old dental office single-handedly. The building was in part of the St. John's parking lot where I always park. I didn't have my digital camera with me, so I just watched him pull up to the building and start scooping down through the roof sending shattered wood and sheetrock and rubble everywhere. He just kept advancing and driving through interior walls in a cloud of dust and splinters. It was actually really cool to watch.

When I was there on Saturday morning, the same guy was using the same machine to scoop up debris and clean up the remains of the building he destroyed. Once again, I did not have my camera on me (*note to self: keep your damn camera with you!) But this time around, I remembered I had a camera on my cell phone (razor's rule) so I snapped a quick pic. I wish I had thought of that yesterday.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Why Do People Go Camping In August?

Seriously, why? It's the hottest month of the year (at least it is here in Missouri) and people actually drive away from their air conditioned homes to spend the night in a canvas tent sleeping on the ground. It's fricking insane - canvas is not a material that breathes! As if it wouldn't be hot enough just being outdoors, you are actually sleeping in an enclosure that collects heat during the day and than traps it so that it cannot escape.

I know, I know, some of you are mumbling under your breath that most tents these days have plenty of mesh doors and windows that allow air to circulate. But, while it may be true that mesh doors and windows exist, that doesn't mean air will circulate. Think about it, for one thing heat rises - which means not all of it will willingly escape through said windows and doors. Secondly, you generally setup a tent in one of the following locations: amongst the trees in a forest, near a creek or river in a valley, or in a campground surrounded by hundreds of campers who have fires lit. How big of a continual breeze do you really get. There's no way enough air is circulating through your pathetic mesh windows to actually cool the tent back down to the surrounding temperature. It's gonna naturally be several degrees warmer in there than it is outside. Because. it's. a. tent.

If you're wondering why I'm bringing any of this up, it's because a week ago I went camping. And slept in a tent. In August. Willingly. Ugh!

Needless to say, I did not sleep well. I get hot at home when the thermostat is set on a permanent 68 degrees. And I run a fan on medium speed all night. And I still wake up sweaty. Because I apparently overheat in my sleep. What causes that? I can sit on my butt on the couch all day long and be completely comfortable. But 2 seconds after I have gone to bed (sans blankie even) I am burning up. I can feel my temperature rising. My face gets flushed and the sweating starts immediately.

However, comfortable sleeping arrangements was not the point of my trip. I got to go camping with my dad, brother Scott, sister Wendy, neice Emma and nephews Marshall & Dillon. Despite the heat, we had a great time. We spent the night on the peak of Taum Sauk mountain, explored Elephant Rocks State Park for a couple of hours, and let the boys go swimming at Johnson's Shut-Ins. Below are a few pictures:

Dad & the kids


This one's for my homies


Brother & Sister


King of the hill


Top of Taum Sauk


View from the mountain


Swimming