Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Crossing My Fingers

I've always been one who loves free stuff. I'm cheap, ahem, I mean frugal.

My wife put me onto this contest. Best Buy and 5 Minutes for Mom are joining forces to give away a Insignia® 37" Flat-Panel LCD HDTV. See the contest page here.

Here's hoping I win :).

New Trash

Today, as I pulled out of the driveway, heading to work, I noticed that there was an empty egg carton on the edge of the lawn by the street. When I returned home, the egg carton was now in the middle of the front yard. Where do these things come from and how do they migrate onto my lawn?

See my original post on our yard trash phenomenon here.

P.S. It's now in the recycle bin.

"Dad, you look like a goat."

These words of affirmation came from my son Will last night as he played with my goatee.  Thanks Will.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rubber Teeth

Only God knows what thought processes go through a child's mind. I was helping my oldest son, Will, brush his teeth tonight. He looked up at me and declared "You need to get new teeth." I said, "Oh, I do?". He said I needed new teeth due to the two small chips I have in two of my front teeth. I commented that I might be getting some when I got to heaven.

Will then commented that he did not need new teeth because he did not have any chips. I said, no, he did not need new teeth but he was going to get them anyway, referring to the fact that he would eventually lose his baby teeth and his adult teeth would grow in.

He thought about that and then said, "I will take these teeth out and keep them, and I will put in rubber teeth."

That produced a chuckle and a grin from me.

Pancakes - A Family Tradition

We have a family tradition. Almost every weekend I make pancakes for the family. Usually it's on a Saturday morning, but it could be in the evening and on a Sunday. This goes back to a family tradition when I was growing up. Every Sunday morning my dad would make us waffles.

We have a waffle maker given to us by some friends who never used the one they received as a wedding gift. It makes only one small round waffle at a time. Once in a great while, I'll break it out and we'll have waffles, but pancakes are much quicker, so that's what we do.

I fix two kinds of pancakes on a two burner griddle that my parents got us. A small set of plain ones for myself and my 11 month daughter Ellie. The rest of them I make with chocolate chips. My wife and my boys love them, and I'm sure Ellie will too once she's old enough. I put a couple of the chocolate chips pancakes in with my plain ones. This sweetens things up, but not too much, as I found it to be, eating only chocolate chip pancakes.

It's a family tradition that we all like and one I hope my children pass on to their children.

"Attack of the Killer Tomatoes"

I borrowed this 1978 movie from the library (that's where I get most of my movies from - it's free) and watched it last night. I remember seeing part of this when I was in college. The University was showing it as a student activity. I remember that my friends and I thought it was so bad that we got up and left part way through the movie.

So why would I borrow the movie? I'm a glutton for punishment and I wanted to see if it was really as bad as I thought it was. It was.

However, I did sit through the whole thing this time and I enjoyed it a little more. It's a story about mutated tomatoes that can talk, move, and kill people, and the people's fight for survival.

It was created as a spoof and is clearly so from the beginning.

  • Advertisements for products, mostly for furniture I think, during the opening credits.
  • A notice that there is space for my advertisement and various references to things tomato, such as a tomato handler (I think), also during the opening credits.
  • Intermittently through out the movie, a banner would scroll across the bottom of the screen advertising furniture for sale.
  • At one point in the movie, the group chosen by the government to lead the attack against the tomatoes gathers in a conference room to talk. Well, this is a tiny conference room with wall-to-wall table and chairs. The various members of the group have to crawl over the table to get to their seats.
  • An advertising man is hired to create ads to put a good spin on the giant, mutated tomatoes. He comes up with an ad that has a tag line of something like "Bigger tomatoes make for bigger hamburgers" (I'm not going to watch through the movie again just to get the exact quote).
  • At various times, a musical number is thrown in for laughs.
  • One of the top agents parachutes in and for the rest of the movie wears his unpacked parachute, dragging the canopy around, even trailing it behind him during a chase scene.
  • Another top agent is a master of disguise. He dresses up as a tomato and infiltrates the tomatoes' camp. Everything is going all right until he's eating by their campfire and absent-mindedly asks if someone could pass him the ketchup.

There are other such comedic and spoof elements as the ones listed above. In the end, the humans, of course, win. We are left with a possible sequel as the last shot shows carrots who are talking to each other.

The Bottom Line
I enjoyed this movie more than the "Don't drink the water" movie I watched earlier in the evening. I got more laughs out of it. That being said, I will not be watching this movie again in quite a while. If you like spoofs, horrors, musicals, and campy movies (all mashed together), you might get some entertainment value out of this, assuming you don't have anything else to watch.

"Don't Drink the Water"

This was a 1994 movie that, according to the Internet Movie Database, was made for TV. I did not realize that fact when I borrowed it from the library. It has an all star cast, including Dom DeLuise, Michael J. Fox, Woody Allen, Mayim Bialik, Edward Herrmann and Julie Kavner.

Here's the story. An American family (father, mother and 21 year-old daughter) is on vacation in the 1960's somewhere behind the iron curtain. The dad (Woody Allen) takes a picture innocently, but it is interpreted as an act of espionage. The family takes refuge in the nearby American embassy. The embassy is currently being run by the loser son (Michael J. Fox) of the Ambassador, who's in Washington schmoozing for a cabinet appointment. Also in the embassy are an asylum seeking priest (Dom DeLuise) who's been there for six years and who's hobby is magic tricks, and an eccentric chef.

The majority of the movie revolves around the chaos this family causes and trying to get them back to the US. The daughter (Mayim Bialik) and the Ambassador's son end up falling for each other, with the daughter breaking up with her fiance in the US over the phone. The son ends up being able to break free from his past failures and does something right in the end.

The movie is supposed to be a comedy. It does have a few humorous moments, but overall it falls short. The story is weak and moves along slowly and predictably. The reason that the photo taking is considered an act of espionage is not clearly articulated in the movie, but the box says that it was taken of a sunset over a sensitive area.

The Bottom Line
You can pass the time watching it (or sleeping through part of it as my wife did) but I would recommend you give it a pass.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Among the 19%

My family is among the 19%. Nineteen percent of what you ask? That would be 19% of Americans, the 19% that rely on over-the-air broadcasts rather than cable or satellite TV. And, if everything goes as planned, on February 19, 2009, unless we buy a HDTV or a HD set top box, we are out of luck. That's when the current analog broadcasts are scheduled to cease. That's right, go away with no return. We've had the same 19 inch, mono audio, color TV for 10 years. It serves our needs, though not my wants :).

I would love to get a new HDTV and a surround sound system. But, we are on a fairly disciplined drive to get out of debt and save money. We are following the Dave Ramsey seven baby step plan. So, no splurges are allowed :(. I do have to say though, it's great to have a budget and common financial goals that both my wife and I agree on. That way we both know what we can and cannot spend, and on what. It makes life and marriage go a lot smoother.

An Incongruity

This afternoon as I was driving home from work, I was stopped behind a mini-van at a stop light. On the back of the mini-van was a sticker that read "Protect our children. Drive carefully." Through the darkened glass of the rear window, I could make out two ladies up front, one the passenger and the other the driver. In the middle row, there appeared to be a young teenage girl, presumably the driver's daughter. Then I noticed that the driver was smoking as she reached out the window to flick off the ash.

I thought, "How incongruous. You have a carcinogenic habit that endangers the heath of your child, yet you ask the rest of the world to protect children by driving careful. If you were really that concerned, shouldn't you stop smoking?"

Indiana Jones 4

Filming for Indian Jones 4 has begun. I'm excited but a little nervous. The Indiana Jones movies are some of my favorites. I just hope that this movie lives up to the legacy. Here's some questions that are going through my mind:

  • How will an older Harrison Ford do?
  • Will the action be as good?
  • Or the story line?
  • Will the story line revolve around some priceless artifact, like Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Last Crusade? Or will it be more of rescue/good guy defeats bad guys, like Temple of Doom?
  • Will Indy's hat once again survive many harrowing adventures? ("It's not a hat, its a fedora!" - guess where that line's from)
  • Will Indy's aim with bull whip be what it once was, or will he have to whip out the bi-focals first?
  • Will Brody be along, bringing his bumbling ways to provide us with some comic relief?
  • Will the tension in Indy and Marion's relationship ebb away and their romance be rekindled? Will there be a wedding? A baby? Daddy Indy, hmm...would the baby be born wearing a fedora or a leather jacket?
  • Speaking of jackets, will Indy's leather jacket look new or like one that's been dragged around on the ground from previous escapades?
I'm waiting somewhat impatiently in anticipation.

ExxonMobil gets into the party favors business

If you order two new copies of your credit card, you would expect to get two, correct.  Well this guy got 2002 copies.  What would you do with that many cards? 
I think I might ask Exxon to give me a new account number and then give out the old cards as party favors.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Quiet Time Buddy

My middle son, Ben, and I are the early birds of the family. I get up in the morning and have my quiet time (devotions). Ben usually gets up and joins me in the living room while everyone else is asleep. When I read my Bible, he has a little Gideon New Testament and Psalms and Proverbs Bible that he holds and pretends to read. If I'm in the New Testament I turn to the passage I'm reading. If I'm in the Old Testament, I turn to a page in the Psalms or Proverbs. Then I read aloud to him from my Bible.

This morning, he woke up a grump. He just complained, without words. First he did want his Bible open, then he did, then he wanted me to do something with it. I could not figure it out. Finally, this got to be so disruptive that I had to send him to his room so that I could finish my quiet time. Boy, he did not like that, but I wanted him to learn to respect my time with God and more than that, to respect God.

Other than occasional times like that, having Ben be part of my quiet time has been a good experience. When I pray, I will often pray out loud so that he can hear examples of how to pray and what to pray for. One of the things I always pray for, and do it out loud, is for my kids, their well being, their salvation, and that God will prepare their future spouses.

Terror in the Park

Read my post on this here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Things Found in the Yard, A.K.A the Dumping Ground

Our front yard seems to be a dumping ground for trash. We are careful not to litter, yet, somehow, trash of all sorts ends up in our yard.

We have found fast food cups and bags, various wrappers, bottles, beer cans, pieces of paper, lots of cigarette butts and a host of other trash. Our neighbour across the street smokes, so that could account for some of them. Most of the butts are on the edge of the yard, but we find them scattered throughout the yard too. This past week we found one up on the drive way right in front of the steps into our breezeway.

Today, when I was mowing the front yard, I noticed a mangled mass of silver where I just mowed. I stopped and picked it up to see what it was. It was a little hard to make out after going through the mangler (a.ka. lawn mower) but it appeared to be the face plate of a cell phone.!?

So I've developed a theory to explain all this. My family are pretty sound sleepers. I think that a group of high school or college guys come and hang out in our front yard in the middle of the night. They smoke, drink, eat, make cell phone calls, and trash our yard. And we don't even hear it. It's just a theory but the evidence can be made to fit the theory. :)

Lawns, Laundry and Dishes

Three of the many things as an adult and a homeowner that will always need to be done. You feel kind of like a rat on an exercise wheel. You mow the lawn, you do the laundry and you do the dishes (and if you don't have an automatic dish washer like us, you do them by hand), and then you get to do them all over again. Until you die, get wealthy enough to pay someone to do these tasks, or move into a full care facility, this is what you have to look forward to year in, year out.

For us, dishes happen at least twice a day. Laundry is several times a week. Mowing the lawn is once every two weeks. Gratefully, my wife takes care of most of the dish washing and laundry. I take care of all of the lawn mowing.

I mowed the front yard this evening after supper. My wife is in the kitchen doing the dishes right now and there is a pile of clean laundry on our bed that needs folding and putting away.

Now I don't want this to be just a negative post - though it reflects my thoughts as I was mowing the grass. I'm grateful that we have a house with a lawn that needs mowing, that we eat three good meals a day on nice dishes that need washing and have enough clothes to require doing laundry once or twice a week. It is so easy to forget how blessed we are. God has provided so much. He promises to provide for our needs, but He has provided above and beyond just our needs. He is generous.


The Bible has a lot to say about perseverance.  However, that's not the context that I'm thinking about.  I've had two personal web sites, hosted on free hosting servers, that have now gone by the way side.  The creation and implementation is the fun part.  It's the updates after the fact, the perseverance to keep changing content, where I get into trouble.
So, now that this blog is up and running, only time will tell if I persevere or if this too goes by the way side.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rewards and Blessings

In my quiet time this morning, I read Psalm 127.

Psalm 127 (NIV)
A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.

3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

As I read verses 3 to 5, I thought of my three children. I had to agree with what God's Word said, I was indeed rewarded and blessed from God to have my kids. Some times they frustrate or annoy me, but for the most part they are a joy and a blessing.

Thank you God for giving them to my wife and I.

Call the Government

Last night my four year-old son, Will, was supposed to be cleaning up the play room. As I passed by I saw him sitting on his bean bag chair, wearing a toy hard hat and holding a toy phone. I asked him, "Aren't you supposed to be cleaning up, not playing? " He turned, looked at me and said, totally serious, "Hold on daddy. I need to call the government."

I had a good chuckle. I don't even know where he got the idea of calling the government, or if he even knows what the "government" is. Just like the title of the TV show, kids say the darndest things.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Choosing a Title

My wife, Stephanie, recently started blogging and has been very successful at it (in my opinion - see Stephanie's Mommy Brain). So I decided to give it a shot. I'm a computer programmer, so when I was trying to come up with a title, the first thing I thought of was "Random Bits and Bytes". I was very pleased with myself and thought I was quite clever. Well, it turns out that someone else is clever - that was taken. So was "Random Bits" and "Random Bytes".

So I thought about what I was trying to communicate with the word random. Basically it was an indication that these probably would not be ordered thoughts, just a kind of brain dump about life. So I tried to think of a synonym. I came up with wandering, but was not completely satisfied with that. So I used the Merriam Webster online thesaurus to look up synonyms to wandering. One of them was ramble. "That's it.", I decided. So I tried "Rambling Bits and Bytes" - it was available. And so this blog received is title.