3 comments Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So when you've got to go to a mandatory function there's a few things you do.
  • You get dressed up fancy.
  • You open the door for your wife.
  • You compliment her appearance
  • Oh yeah! And you get a baby-sitter!
Since it was a school night we couldn't ask any of the neighborhood kids. So we asked Matt Hargrave to watch the munchkins. For payment, we fed him.

He brought over his gas-powered remote controlled car. It was a curiosity with the kids. I mean it was like Lehi discovering the Liahona. They watched intently. As it sputtered and revved there were awaiting what it was going to do next.

Then it started. The revving turned into motion and it sped across the grass, driveway and the road. The small machine ran one direction then another. It darted around like a rabbit chance from Wild America.

I stood there with the camera on the side and I could almost hear the voice of Marty Stouffer talk about the great hunter emerging to it's pray. Moby was very interested. He didn't bite it, but tried to intimidate it through barking at it.

He barked and ran, and ran and barked. He did this for about 20 minutes. The other dogs in the neighborhood joined in. Moby was leader of the pack of barkers. What great fun! He barked so much he was hyperventilating for a few minutes afterwards.

Chrissy and I left for our function. Matt was off to a good start. He had the kid's attention. When we came home they were dressed and watching Florence Henderson on the Muppet show. We said prayers, and put them to bed.

Matt may tell you that he feels like he lives in a prison. When he's here, our home feels better. I think he's got a crappy barracks room to encourage him to come visit more often.
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So I posted about RSS readers and as it tuns out Logan learned something from the post. So I've got another insight I'd figured is worth sharing. Today's topic: Water. More specifically bottled water--or as I like to call it--bottled sham.

I recently watched a news article about a company that was putting NYC tap water in bottles. It's a clever idea. Almost as clever as the idea of paying off our debt a nickel at a time. Hopefully the tap water is up higher than the debt begging program I started. I'm still at $.00.

Well, as crazy as it sounds if you've drunk a bottle of water you've probably been drinking tap water already. Most water on the market comes from Reverse Osmosis Water Purification (ROWPU). The military uses this process to take water from the lakes at Saddam's palaces in Baghdad and turn it into bottled water (see photo--not me fishing).

I'd just figured I'd let you know that the stuff you paid good money for may have been sewage the day before. After all, the process removes nearly every natural pollutant to give you something wet and safe to drink.

There's no question that it's clean and safe and tastes good--they add just the right minerals for taste--the real question is--was it worth your money? After all you can buy a small ROWPU unit for under $300.

4 comments Monday, September 29, 2008

So last week Eliza had to take a shower before school. She decided to use the one in the master bathroom. She told Chrissy there was mouse on the floor.

We believed her. We live in the country.

Later that week I got up early and saw the mouse running around behind some photos we still haven't hung up yet.

Now Chrissy and I have been talking about getting a cat for outside and the kids and I went to the dollar store to get some mouse traps.

Yes, I prefer doing things the old-fashioned way. I bait my traps with peanut butter (chunky) and sunflower seeds. It worked well in Iraq, and now it works in Oklahoma.

Yes, we got 'em.

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4 comments Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dear Blog Fans:

I appreciate that you folks come out and visit me here online. I've got this blog set up so that Mom and Dad get emails of whatever I type. One problem with that is the emails strip a great deal of the layout. Dad's email at work actually strips out all the photos I put on the blog. This week's entry is completely lost without the accompanied photos.

Looking at the blogs online is a bit of a pain in the rear as well. If you do things the traditional way you may have to check more than 50 blogs each time you want to find out what's going on. That's a bit more than tedious. For a while though, that's all we had, and that's what we did.

Then we discovered these things called RSS readers. You've probably seen this logo on websites as you've been traveling the internet. Most blogs are written using blogspot or wordpress. Both of these formats create a RSS feed.

Without getting too complicated the feed is sort of like the flag on the mailbox. If it's up the mailman needs to check for mail. What if there was a way to check your blogs and other news by simply looking for "red flags?" Because RSS feeds are so popular there's several programs you can use as RSS feed readers. Let's run down three that have different flavors.

Google Reader: The Online Category

Since work computers often come with serious restrictions about installing new software, an online solution is the only option left available. Leave it to google to put something together that makes sense. It basically creates a web page summary of the feeds you like paying attention to. All you need to have is google account--nowadays google doesn't require you to change email addresses either. Just log in with your current email address.

Google's stake in the whole thing? They put a few of their adds on the right hand side. Odds are you're used to them by now and probably ignore them anyway.

Mozilla Thunderbird: The Mail Category

Email has changed the way we do things. Email came first, then RSS. While RSS was evolving a great deal of folks associated it with how we view email. So, they combined email programs with RSS readers. My personal favorite is Mozilla's Thunderbird. It's a free download, runs on MAC, Linux, and Windows. My first look at it included reading a quote from the Wall Street Journal. It surprised the author how functional it was. The quotes, awards, and other attention seem to continue. I'm still surprised with how well it works.

Most of the critics agree, the only thing missing is an integrated calendar application. That'll be coming out in the next version. In the meantime you have to add it by selecting "lightning" among it's many add-ons.

You don't need to run Thunderbird as an email client if you don't want to. You can set it up strictly as an RSS reader. The software asks you plenty of questions to guide you through the process.

Flock: The Browser Category

So after people associated RSS with email they decided it wasn't like email. In fact, they decided it was nothing like email. It's a very own category to itself. They still had the problem with how to get people to use it. Well, we surf the internet don't we? Why not get our "red-flags" in our web browser? The only problem with that idea is that none of the browsers were doing it "right." So flock took the code from "Mozilla Firefox" and made it social networking friendly--Including RSS feeds from blogs!

Picture your browser like a good cake. Normally you'd expect to have frosting, and in most cases frosting would be appropriate. Some people don't prefer cake with frosting. Often times someone prefers ice cream, or maybe fruit. Flock is your browser (because it works very similarly to Internet Explorer & Firefox) with a different topping. The left hand side of your window gets turned into your notice board. Flock also works well with Flikr, Facebook, youtube, and many other sites that provide the "people information" you go online to read.

In conclusion:

Don't get intimidated--this is supposed to be fun. Whatever reader format works for you, you're going to have to take some time getting familiar with it. Once you've gotten familiar with it you'll probably love how it checks things for you. On the Hill side of the family there's close to 18 blogs to pay attention to. Having a reader is a great help. Let me know which one you go with in the comments below.


There's more that happens in a week than can be summed up during the week. Each weekend there's a few minutes spent reflecting upon what has gone on before. This Saturday is no different. Chrissy's at work. The kids are procrastinating going to bed--and I'm letting them get away with it (for a few minutes).

Rainey's had an interesting day. He seems to be bumping into everything, falling down from everything, and generally just being uncoordinated. This has happened with the previous kids when their sick with a cold (stuffy nose/ears) or their going through a growth spurt. Chrissy and I have both had a bit of a cold and so we'll see how much of this is related to health and how much is related growing up.

Grandma Hill went in for surgery this week. We were told from the doctors that things were going well. We were also told that when she's coming out of the anesthesia she's rather funny to listen to. That's the only word we've gotten so far. It gives us hope that all the prayers said are being answered. The kids have a real sweep spirit when you ask them to pray for "GG Hill."

Well, our various projects seem to be providing us some hope for the future as well. Our "Bug Board" is getting a lot of attention. It's mounted above the piano in the living room (my mother would not approve in her house). Chrissy's helped to contribute several of the creatures. I've been impressed at how much she participates. This story should help illustrate:

Earlier in the week we found two really cool looking bugs. Chrissy donated a cotton ball soaked in her facial cleaner. We didn't have any other strong smelling stuff to kill it with. After a while it did the job and we had two good specimens to add. It's one thing when you get someone's reluctant help. It's another when you get their creative energy flowing to help.

Creative juices started flowing earlier this week when I noticed a pile of scrap wood being created from the four houses going up in the neighborhood. Those framers are good about using the wood, but what they don't use helps me in my projects. So what sort of project did I create this time?

Well, let's start off with a review: First we got used to making things by creating a bird feeder. Although no birds have been sighted using it the project went off without any injuries and is safely mounted to the house.

The next project was and still is a big hit. It's a see-saw that accommodates different size folks. Last week Matt Hargrave helped me adjust it for Daniel and Rainey sized people. The see-saw looked too cool for him to leave alone. So we put it on the adult setting and he and I had a go at it.

I'm not the only one who's been feeling a bit creative this week. Chrissy has finished the quilt she was working on, and managed to make quite a few barrettes as well. She's been really quite busy getting all of this done, fighting off a cold, not sleeping well at night, and raising three children. Not to mention she's been working.

While she's been working on these projects I've been trying to be supportive. So I "hired" a couple of models to show off her barrettes. The models are actually a neighborhood teenager and her friend. I think they manage to do a good job showing off Chrissy's work. The girl on the left is Kyla, and her friend is Megan. Both of them have great smiles (makes it a lot easier). They're a delightful bunch to have around. Wouldn't you buy some barrettes if you saw these faces online?

When they were through taking photos, and telling me which ones I had to delete. The walked out the front door. To my surprise they had taken the liberty of adjusting the see-saw to "adult size" and were having a go at it. I'm used to my projects failing and I can't tell you how much I love seeing other people just randomly use them. So I had to take a photo.

I guess we're a family that does projects. We've already started teaching the next generation. Tonight Eliza made a 'wood floor' for her playscape. I didn't take photos, and it's going to kill the grass. But she thought it through and did a good job. This week her father (me!) has also taught her to use the internet. Our 6 year old sent her first email!!! I was listening to her read with Chrissy and realized that she's got enough reading words to carry on a basic conversation over email.

She's been emailing my mom (with a bit of help) and really doing well with learning the words she wants to say. She's also using a linux computer running Ubuntu. Her email program is Thunderbird.

Well, now that I've written on just about every project that we've done this week it's time to share today's project with you all. Using only scrap lumber from down the street I created a table for our back porch.

In Germany we used to eat outside nearly every day (when the weather was good). It's one of those times in our family's life that we look back on with romantic memories. I'm trying to get some of those memories to come back. We'll see how breakfast goes tomorrow. I've got good memories from putting it together.

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1 comments Friday, September 26, 2008

I was thinking about politics and ran across this photo of Daniel. I was trying to go for a patriotic shot. Instead he blessed me with this expression.

I think it fits.

0 comments Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Most folks who know me know me as a computer guy. I like the title, but will be quick to add that I'm only good at what I know. I do happen to know enough to be able to read some technical stuff and understand what to do next.

Chrissy's new computer is remarkably fast at everything it does. It's amazing. The kids computer and mine were horrifically slow. So I did something drastic. I said goodbye to Bill Gates. Now I'm running Linux. It's free, so I'm not breaking any laws. The version I'm running is called Ubuntu. The title is loosely based on the Zulu word for "humanity."

It takes a lot of effort to get the details worked out so it runs the way I want to. Out of the box though it's great. If I were a basic user it would be as simple as clicking the install button. Since I'm not it takes a bit more effort. My greatest word for describing things so far is "Splashy." It looks clean and has sped up my machine by more than 10 times what it used to be under Vista.

If you've got an old computer and want to get it running faster, back up your files, ditch windows (or mac os) and throw some linux on there. The Ubuntu CD (that you download) let's you test the OS running on a cd-rom before you install it.

Hope this helps you folks who are frustrated with them old computers.

0 comments Saturday, September 20, 2008

Around here we've been getting our news from the internet. It's been a bit of a transition from the TV. Sure when I eat breakfast at the dinning facility I generally watch a bit of the news. With the politics alive and active I'm finding the news very entertaining these days.

This leads me to the topic of discussion for this blog. I will now delve its readers into the taboo subject at family reunions and discuss POLITICS as I see them.

One of my favorite things about politics is how they completely ignore contexts. One thing the press likes to do is take unflattering photos and make them the primary ones used during a piece. It doesn't matter what the news source is, if the editors think that their audience wont like what he's saying they use an unflattering photo.

Getting a good photo is hard. I've been trying to take pictures of Chrissy for a while now. She's looking great! (always has). Even though our camera doesn't have any shutter lag something will happen when I try to click the button and instead of ending up with a photo that captures how awesome she is I get something that's blurry, and usually cuts off a part of her head or something. It's one thing when I do that at home. It's another thing when a professional photographer does it and gets paid for it.

Now this has made politics something worth looking at. I love the self described moose hunting hockey mom. Gov. Palin's got spunk. She's one of those rare individuals who does a good job hiding having bad days. My favorite thing so far is that she's been using her "mom" look with the press. Take a look at this section of the interview between her and Charles Gibson. (Watch Here).

Remember growing up when you did something knowingly bad and mom had to pull you aside and talk with you? You remember that look right before she took a wooden spoon to your butt? You remember that look when you were a teenager doing something totally wrong? It's the I love you and I hate to do this, but I'm-a-mom-and-it's-my-job-to-set-you-straight-look. She pulls that look on Charles Gibson when pressed about earmarks in the state of Alaska.

I'd also like to publicly express that I'm more likely to consider her a worthy candidate because her family seems to have real problems. Her oldest daughter being pregnant is a reality of today's society. It's got to have been something very difficult for them to deal with as a family. Life will be even more difficult when the baby comes. Could you imagine being pregnant at 17 and the person you want to go through for baby advice (mom) being busy with her political office? Women are the original multi-taskers in society. I don't doubt that their family can do it, but what a load it is! They are a modern American family.

Politics are for me entertaining. I've realized that no one running can do so without being hungry for power. Sure we hear talk about the candidates championing some righteous cause on both sides of the aisle. I disagree with public health care--but that doesn't make the idea any less important. In order to be in an office you have to want the power of the office. It doesn't come to you--despite what the Disneyish movies say--you have to desperately go out and seek it.

Sometimes I think our best choice for candidate isn't someone with the greatest campaigning skills, because campaigning takes so much energy, effort, and time the best person might be the one who can shift gears the quickest. I need someone to stop campaigning while they're president and get some work done. Our election process doesn't fit the responsibilities of the office. It's like being interviewed for a job that has nothing to do with what you're going to be doing. All senators involved, while on the trail, can't effectively do their jobs. What good are they to their state? If we prepped high school students for the SATs this way no one would pass.

I'd prefer theocracy. Let's think about it. You know who's going to be in charge. Moses did a great job with some rather stubborn people. It's also going to be the government during the millennium. So I don't mind getting ready for it now.

Let's think about this. Each year our politics get more and more vicious, and more of it is presented as "normal." I think they get worse. The mudslinging goes both ways, shows up earlier, and is more vile then it ever has been. Where's it going? When will it end? Whatever it evolves to over the next few years it will be something that our society considers 'business as normal.' Across the world all of the political processes (even dictatorship) that appear 'business as normal.' will need to get wiped away. That process will not be a pleasant one. It's described in the book of revelation as the greatest calamities our world societies will face. At the end of it, the Savior comes and issues in the millennium. If you noticed how Hurricane Gustav nearly changed the republican national convention--imagine stuff like that to the point where no one even considers having a political party.

Well, that's my opinion and it's worth what it is. Who am I voting for? I don't know yet. I don't make that decisions until right before the election. Chrissy isn't a citizen and so the blood of patriots that has given me the right to vote rests on my shoulders. My vote represents my family. I have to make sure that I do right by them. That's why when it's my turn to vote I'll lay out a sigh, because I' prefer theocracy.

0 comments Friday, September 19, 2008

So Chrissy looks over at me and says, "Are you blogging?" I said "no" of course. Because a few minutes ago I wasn't blogging. Now I am.

What can I blog about? Well, nothing. I'm not allow to blog. I guess I'm allowed to tell you that Chrissy is blogging. I'm not really sure what she's blogging about.

We'll have to see. One things for sure--I'll probably be falling asleep before she gets done.


2 comments Monday, September 15, 2008

Growing up mom used to watch me do different projects. It seems as long as I can remember being me, I can always remember being someone who did projects. In my youth most of my projects were destructive in nature.

Owning your own piece of land is great for doing projects. The materials lying next to the driveway and some of the eye-sore-results probably don't help the value of the home, but they're fun to build anyway.

Somewhere around my first deployment I noticed that my projects were generally more productive than they were destructive. That doesn't mean they started looking good. They just started working.

Now I've got some weird ideas about things and I'm happy to show you the results. A week ago we made this bird feeder. It's cool looking with wooden slats for a roof. Almost all of the wood is scrap--rescued from a burn pile at a nearby buildsite. We'll see if the birds enjoy the seed we've got. I've already logged a design flaw--hard to fill. The roof should have had a hinge.

Last night I ended up making dinner. I'm not complaining about having to cook. It's just that when I cook I end up having to eat whatever it is I fixed. I can stomach quite a bit. I've made a lot of things that haven't turned out. (Been working on home made potato chips recently). Part of the problem is that when we have other people who are going to eat the food I'm fixing. You see, I seem to treat the kitchen as a great laboratory for experimentation. So I'm either going to come up with a groundbreaking recipe to replace chocolate or I'm going to burn dinner. Experience has taught me that I'm more apt to burn dinner.

I made layered dutch oven enchiladas, asked Chrissy for instructions, and didn't understand what she was saying. So there was leftover enchilada sauce, the food was a bit dry, and the bottom was burnt. You know you've got good company when they describe it as having a 'real dutch oven flavor.' I wasn't going to argue with the pregnant lady (our guest) and tell her that it's called "blackened."

My crowning project to date arrived this weekend. It's not built properly, but it's built so the flaws can be things that get fixed. In front of our yard is a magnificent eyesore. It looks like something someone with very limited skills built out of some scrap wood. It looks very pieced together. //That's one way of looking at it//

Daniel, Rainey, and Eliza see it a bit differently. It's a see-saw. It's theirs. Their daddy built it. It also happens to be the biggest see-saw they'll probably ever be on in their lives. I made it so it has two possible fulcrums. The lowest one puts the 'high end' of the see-saw at my eye level. That's a bit much for Rainey and Daniel to handle without my supervision, and Eliza has learned to use a kitchen stool to get on the high end.

As soon as I can I'll be getting another fulcrum added to the base--something more the boys size. I've also got to figure out a way to fix the fact that the pole likes to slide off the fulcrum. I'm thinking duct tape. Aesthetics seem to have already been tossed out the window.

I'm not sure what's next on this list of things to build. I'm also going to have to say something about being safety oriented about now because I know my mom is reading this and these are her grandkids playing on it. I contributed to whatever gray hairs she's had over time. My father's baldness may also be attributed to my adolescence (my hair's thinning now too).

There were a lot of boards with nails sticking out of them from the burn pile where the wood came from. Having stepped on boarded nails a time or two I know it's not a good idea. Most of those dangerous boards are gone now. When I built the see-saw I cut the 'nailed' part off of the wood. Seeing how they were potentially hazardous to the kids I decided to dispose of them the best way I knew how.

Quiz time: What would Jacob consider the best way to 'dispose' of wood? That's right--start a fire! We had dutch oven enchiladas because I wanted to burn the scrap wood from the see-saw. It's a circle of like kinda- thing. The way I've got it figured is that by the time I get around to building the catapult, I'll probably get around to getting the enchiladas not to burn. :-)

2 comments Thursday, September 11, 2008

I've got a playlist that shuffles through a lot of my favorite songs. Most of them are about 10 years old--if not more. It seems I'm still musically stuck in high school. One of the songs that comes on is Marc Cohn's Walking in Memphis.

Chrissy, being a military spouse has stayed home a lot while I've had to go away for one reason or another. This summer it was her turn. Chrissy finally took a girls trip. Destination: Nashville.

While there she toured a lot of the sites that are mentioned in the song. She had a blast. She got to see the Gibson guitar factory and Graceland among other sites. I wasn't there. Tom and I survived taking care of the kids, and had a blast. Every once in a while Chrissy will hear a part of the song that stands out to her. Something she didn't hear before. She'll turn to me and start, "Remember when we were..."

It usually takes her a few sentences before she realizes that I wasn't there. I wasn't invited. I wasn't allowed.

Quite frankly, I'm flattered. It seems my wife has a wonderful psychological condition: She associates her good memories with ME. Whether I was there or not. I'm not sure when it this phenomenon became a permanent member of our our marriage, but in any case it's a part of who she is.

Odd thing is, come to think about it, I do the exact same thing. Does anyone else magically associate their good memories to their spouses? Or is this just something for me and Chrissy?.

2 comments Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So Chrissy managed to calculate out our total indebtedness (minus the house) and we've got good reason to be a two income family. It's not pretty.

Since Chrissy's working, I decided it was time to try something to help increase the amount of money I bring into the home. The problem I have is time--I don't have any. Since I'll be paying off the debt for some time to come, I've decided that long term solutions are a good idea.

I'm encouraging everyone who reads this to donate a nickel. Send it to your friends and ask them to donate a nickel.

The internet's been a great way to answer questions. Now it's time to answer one more. "Can you pay off $50,000 in debt a with nickels?" If the idea sounds crazy that's fine. If it was crazy enough to get you to smile, why not send me a nickel?

Feeling really generous? Visit the craigslist posting. I've got my entire debt (minus the house) up for sale. No takers yet--I'll let you know.

2 comments Monday, September 8, 2008

It's 4:35pm. Chrissy leaves to be early for work. She says good-bye to us for the night and kisses her boys goodbye. Eliza is already come, done her homework, and gone. She's old enough to go to her friends house without being escorted. Every chance she gets, she takes. I'm not sure if it's because I've gotten considerably less cooler, or if I just haven't been putting the effort into having a better relationship with her. Maybe the relationship is fine; it's just one of those stages where you wonder. In any case there's no time to think about it.

Daniel is hammering a nail into a piece of wood nearby. The more he pounds, the more it bends. The nail and hammer are both small, but his 3 year old frame isn't quite ready for this test of coordination. Rainey is wandering around 'helping' as well. He's actually pretty good when he's around, but the moment he's not: you have to worry. While contemplating my relationship with my daughter, saying goodbye to Chrissy, and wondering about Rainey I'm constructing a bird feeder out of wood lying around the house.
It's not going so well.

Chrissy can't quite see the finished product in her mind, and I'm too embarrassed to share the details. I'm wondering if it's the fact that I'm totally winging it. I'm wondering if working with tools is a genetic thing and somehow I misplaced my skills. After all we grew up with three boys at home--there was a lot of testosterone. Growing up I thought the A-Team was the way life really worked in the real world. Now I wonder why you would ever throw down your gun so you could punch someone instead. I wonder with as many montages on building a 'tank' that I saw I didn't get more out of it. Maybe a birdhouse isn't a 'tank.'

Maybe I'm just not good as solving problems that involve wood and a barely used table saw. I considered myself technically smart until this morning when I realized that I wasn't good at manually gunnery and failed. One more thing to think about. Now I've got to re-study and spend Saturday morning in uniform taking the test over again. What were those mistakes again? I wasn't allowed to take notes during the test review this afternoon.

What's Rainey getting into in the van?

Oh, he's got those hot-sauce covered pistachio nuts. How the heck can my kids eat those things and like them? What's this cut supposed to be? I hope this thing doesn't look too ugly when it's finished. I'm putting effort into it, but it all goes down the drain if Chrissy doesn't like the way it looks. She'll never let me put it up in the yard.

Done with the bird feeder.

Where's Rainey? He's moved from the nuts to a bag of honey roasted peanuts he found in the door. Hey, those were in Chrissy's door, and I was really hungry the other day when I was driving. How come I didn't get to snack on those on the way home?
It looks like it might rain. The garage is still covered in stuff from the move. My workshop is outdoors and needs to get packed inside.

Daniel's tired. It's that time of the afternoon. Tired or not he's the only consultant I've got on where to put this thing up. First we talk about hanging it. He wants to put it where you can't see it unless your outside. I want to be able to stay inside and watch the birds eat. Hanging it means that you end up with weeds in the grass near the house. That's the only good grass we've got in spots. Wait a second! We got a picket and I can put it on that. Daniel doesn't like the idea. He let's me know. I wander around the yard holding a picket and a hammer. Rainey's out of sight and Daniel is protesting in pure 3-year-old fashion. I'm wondering where I want the weeds to grow.
Do I really want one more thing in the yard I have to mow around?

Bird seed is nothing more than weed/wildflower seed mixed together no matter where I put it I'll end up with weeds. Maybe here near this pipe sticking out of the yard. Yeah, that might be good 'cause then I'll only have one thing to work around. Wait, that pipe marks a sprinkler for the septic. How far down were the piped dug again? Do I really want to be watering weeds?

"Daniel, we're done." Best to wait and ask Chrissy. Let's go in and eat. Bad idea. Eliza showed up with her friends. They're leaving someplace and Daniel wants to go. He runs into to get his shoes. The leave while he's inside. I'm the only adult left and so it's my fault. Where'd Rainey go again? He's crying outside 'cause I left him. It's a good thing it doesn't take too hands for any one kid. I can carry Daniel upside down with one hand and Rainey upside down in the other. Grab tight just above the ankles. Daniel's pants are sliding off--gotta hurry. Dropped them both on the couch.

Two growly children. Ok, outdated church video said distract not discipline. Today I'm doing good. I thought of a distraction on my way home. Paper bag costumes are not a good enough distraction--but since they were so keen on the costumes in Wal-mart (curses and blessings be upon it) the idea seemed to have some merit. Discipline's still not an option--what's next?

LIFE: This is the egg-beater on "low." Eliza comes home and it's time to clean house and the setting gets changed to "high." Sure Chrissy does it all day. Lots of moms do it all day, but when it's my turn it's not just "not mom's," it's mine. It's me on the wrong end of the three-to-one ratio. I've never been able to compete in an argument about how it's 'tougher' for dads. Most times I can't finish a significant sentence. The reply is generally: "No evidence will be considered in the case of mom's vs. dad's watching kids. We'd appreciate if you didn't try to bring this up at all." They should have a warning on conversations like that: "Please deposit 5 happy relationship points for every 30 seconds you try to have your opinion on this subject heard."

It's now 9:00pm. Rainey's lying next to me. He's being quiet so I don't mind. Chrissy told me this afternoon that he's done with his bottle. I discovered the last two hours before bed that he's also managed to loose both of his pacifiers. She's not answering my text messages. I'm really hoping she's got a spare stashed away somewhere. She was supposed to be home a half hour ago.

This kids going to be unruly tomorrow. He pooped in the toilet tonight before bath time. He pooped in the bathtub tonight during bath time as well. If Chrissy reads this before looking at the birdhouse I'll get to put it up out of sympathy instead of success. This spring I want to build a chicken coop for my birthday. The idea has shifted from fun present, to an ominous project.
When it's all done I wouldn't trade today for anything. Some stupid inkling of faith tells me I'm going to miss days like this one. I still need to put my mind at ease--there's poop residue in the bathtub I need to take care of still. Although the memories of today will be nice in the future, the memories of yesterday ring a bit sweeter for now. I wonder what Matt Lammie is doing?

I miss hiking in Utah.

0 comments Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let me tell you a story about a TV show that is a must see for any married couple that's had kids. It's called "Notes From the Underbelly." It's definitely adult enough that you're not going to watch it with the kids, but it's not something you'll feel guilty for watching.

Chrissy and I fell in love with the show by a fluke one night. That season only four episodes were released--we laughed our heads off. The next season we were treated to a writer's strike and didn't get to watch any. Now, by some odd coincidence there's several episodes of this very clever TV show online!


The writing is terrific. It's about the same quality as another one of my favorite shows: Arrested Development. AD was so complicated and so complex that it got canceled after a few seasons because the show was difficult for audiences to follow with a week between each show. Now that it's online and on DVD it's great to watch one episode after another--it's easy to get hooked. Although Notes From the Underbelly is complex and well developed it's easy to follow the characters with a bit of a brief bit of background information.

There's really only six characters to follow: On the right side of the screen you've got the two single friends. Each are rather selfish and play out a rather promiscuous single lifestyle. In the middle you have the main couple (couple) who are dealing with the 'joys' of pregnancy and child rearing. On the left you've got the wife's best friend and her husband. This photo is old so it shows them as pregnant. In the show they've had their kid and are the more established of all the folks in the series.

I can't tell too much without doing the writers a great injustice. It's one of those shows where you're watching it and seeing the characters say things that I know I've said to Chrissy when Eliza was born. That's when I knew it was good! The pace is quick and there's generally three separate stories going on at one time. There's also enough packed into the show so that you can watch a few episodes more than once.

You'll need to watch this online using internet explorer, firefox, or safari with Adobe Flash 8+ installed. Thank you ABC for putting this online!!! One less reason to have a cable bill!

0 comments Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Have you seen my Mac? Do you remember the days when computers used to be glorified typwriters? That was a few years ago. With each succeeding year it seems the home computer becomes more and more of a multimedia platform. The kids and I often watch internet tv online using one of the computers in the house.

Now, in order for music to play on a computer you've got to have some software to tell it to play. There's lots of options out there. If you have a legitimate version of
Windows then WMP (Windows Media Player) works. If you've got a Mac then you've got iTunes and Quicktime built into your computer.

Nowadays you can have iTunes on a PC as well as a Mac. Good news! Cross platform applications are being developed for just about everything. There's one in particular worth watching. It's a media player called "Songbird." This thing's got a few gizmos that will make it better than it's competition--once it's finished.
Songbird is a web browser as well as a media player. If you're using it for the internet and it finds a site that has media--nearly any media--it will tell you and ask if you want to download or play it.

iTunes lets you shop for music on it's site. Did you ever wonder how much the artist gets when you download a song? It's like $.02. That's not a whole lot of the $.99 you just spent on the tune. Where does the rest go? Well iTunes says there's overhead, and then there's the production company that gets their share. Songbird is going to change all that. They've made it easy for musicians to set up a music store on their own site and under their own terms. You might still spend $.99 on a song, but the artist decides how much of that $.99 goes to what. Sure some o
f it will be spent on hosting the website, but the rest has to go somewhere--like their pocket.

Songbird has glitches at the moment, but it's an open source community project. Even now you can manage your iPod using the application. It'll find your iTunes library and move it over to Songbird. You'll still be able to play songs in iTunes & WMP as well. Eventually I'll recommend that you all try this. In the meantime I'll recommend that you keep your eyes open. Ask yourself how you want to view media online. Maybe post a suggestion on their forums. It's up to you. You get to have it your way--as long as you ask.

This software is currently available in all three of my favorite operating systems Linux, Windows, and Mac. If you're feeling brave give it a go! I've never had it hurt anything--just be a bit glitchy. But hey it's a "project" for a reason.

1 comments Monday, September 1, 2008

Back in the day when I first started getting online it was through an internet service called prodigy. Like many good ideas the service is now a defunct part of AT&T. What is still around is the internet. Aren't we glad? I am.

What has changed since the early 1990's is how we use and view the internet. For a while there if you wanted to go online you went to netscape.com and downloaded their software for free. Then the internet looked pretty. Things called webpages had photos on them that you actually waited to see with your dial up modem. Ahhhh.... The good 'ol days.

Something happened and eventually all the windows users were using ended up with "Internet Explorer." While Mac users had something called "Safari." Eventually a fluke occurred. Someone created "Firefox" and then WE had a browser that was customizable our way. Firefox continues to gain a foothold on the market of internet browsers. It's a neat project. A bunch of geeks building something to take on a giant--David and Goliath style--and they win. Cool eh? I'm waiting for the romanticized Disney version to come out on DVD.

Firefox is definitely better than the standard alternatives, but for a couple of years now I've been watching another project emerge and I'm happy to announce it's up and running!

Flock is here!

Back in the day the internet used to be exclusively for geeks. Then we started posting youtube videos and blogging and sharing our lives. Now it seems that we're doing a lot more of keeping people connected via the internet then we did before. We myspace and facebook and flikr our lives away online. To accommodate keeping in touch Flock was created to help us manage the social networking sites we visit.

Here's a look at my browser typing this email. On the left I've got my blog list. If someone updates their blog it tells me--I don't have to click each blog and find out who's doing what. I make the internet work for me!

Under my bookmarks you'll see a media bar that I can't point anywhere. I set it up last night so it showed me all of the new photos from my friends on Facebook.

There's other gizmos and features build into this application. I would strongly recommended it to anyone. Download flock and try it for a week. Quit your InternetExploring, take two steps left of Firefox, come home from your Safari, and give Flock a try. It's a project worth paying attention to. Give it a week, but if your using the internet to stay in touch this is the way you want it to look.


I'm a project guy. There doesn't seem to be an end to the list of projects I've got running around the house. Some of them I haven't finished. Some of them I'll probably never finished. I'm not sure how many other "project guys" there are out there but every time I hear about an open source free something-or-other I think to myself--Wow there's a guy that actually got a project done--and I can use it to.

Today's project is something that just got released in early August. Recently Apple decided to open up the iPods to externally written applications. This means that you can do any number of things legally on the machines that you used to only be able to do illegally before. Now that it's legal to create apps for the devices what's one of the first apps created?

You guessed it! The LDS scriptures. Searching on the iTunes store there's several versions of this. One done by Lee Falin is free. This application only works with the iPod touch and the iPhone. Since I don't own either one I can't tell you how well it works. I can tell you it's available.

Today I also added 21 new chapters to the Book of Mormon Podcast. It seems that there's a lot of good people willing to take sharing the scriptures to the digital community out there.

Got an iPhone or iPod Touch? You can download both the application and the podcast. If you're in the mood to read the scriptures you can listen to them. If you're in the mood to read then you'll have them available.

For all iTunes (and most other media players) you do not need an iPod to use the Book of Mormon Podcast. In iTunes you'd select "Advanced" "Subscribe to Podcast" and then input the following link: "http://roeckerfam.com/bom.xml"

There's a few other significant projects I'll be talking about this week as well. Stay tuned. Try them for a week. Remember they're digital--if you don't like them--delete them.