28 December 2008

Santa Feels Economic Hardship Too

I remember the days when I had lots of presents under the tree and a stocking that overflowed with goodies. I even remember that one time when all I had was a lump of coal in my stocking...

Yes, it is true. I once got a lump of coal.

Of course, we all know that getting coal in your stocking is the undisputable sign that you have been a bad kid that year. I can honestly say that I do not remember what was so bad about that year compared to any other but the fact remains that Santa Claus thought I was bad that year.

It has been roughly 25 years since that lump of coal was in my stocking. Times have changed and so have I. Today, I have a wife and five children of my own whom I have had to remind that if they are bad they might receive a lump of coal in their stocking instead of fun goodies.

I guess I was wrong...apparently with the economy in such bad shape and with all the push to switch to renewable energy sources and conserve fossil fuels, Santa has had to make some adjustments as well. I wonder how much coal Santa normally uses each year? How big of an impact will that have if all Santa's coal stash could go toward heating homes instead?

Unfortunately, all seven of us must have been bad this year because we were able to find out first-hand how Santa has adapted to the economic crisis among us.

No coal from ol' Mr. Claus this year, Santa brought us vomit instead. Maybe it was a sick joke or maybe Santa had a few too many egg nogs before he hopped in the sleigh or maybe the elves screwed up something in the orders. Maybe Santa didn't like the cookies we left and he tossed them for us. I am not sure what all of us did that was so bad but the kids were blowing chunks all over the place, mom spewed a couple times, and I felt queasy but only had some diarrhea. Weird, but maybe there is some truth to all the people telling me to get my head out of there...

For the most part, everything came and went over the holiday. Thanks a lot, Santa! I didn't even get any Christmas ham thanks to you, and I love ham.

Oh well, I am not a kid anymore Santa, I am a comabt veteran now. You can't mess with me and expect to get away so easily. You know what they say about paybacks...

(now where is that recipe for ex-lax chip cookies that uses syrup of ipecac...)

11 November 2008

New Inspiration


I actually received my first comment today on one of my blog entries. I never really thought that I would have many visitors or comments so now I feel inspired to make some more entries.

Thanks ledell!!

Veteran's Day

Another Veteran's Day has come to pass.

I am proud to be a veteran of this country.

As I put on my desert camo uniform this morning in preparation for the Veteran's Day program that was being held at the school district where I work, many fond memories of my time in the military passed through my mind. I find that I truly do miss being a part of the military environment. I have not seen any of the men with whom I served in Iraq since returning home in April 2004. I think about how fun it would be to head out for a couple cold ones and reminisce about some of the experiences we shared while deployed.

I consulted my journal to see what I did on Veteran's Day 2003.

-No, I did not get the day off.

We had another security mission near Ad Diwaniyah. This one was at the Ministry of Roads. The Major had a pretty long meeting there and we were the escort and protection. My love of learning language had me chit chatting with many of the locals and trying to improve my Arabic. A couple of rascally kids continuosly tried to get me to give them some money. I wrote that I wish France had some troops in Iraq so that I might have an opportunity to practice my French with them.

Turns out that this was the day before the Italian compund in An Nasiriyah was lit up by a car bomb. It was only about 5 miles from where we were at the time. We were on our way to An Nasiriyah when we heard the blast and figured it was just EOD taking care of some more ordinance but it was not long after that we got a call to return to camp... but that is another story.

So this morning I stopped at the Holiday Station to get some cappuccino and an apple fritter and I was greeted right away at the door by a gentleman who proceeded to thank me for my service and shared that he, too, had been overseas to Iraq with the first wave. We did not have time to exchange stories but it goes to show that there are a lot of us out there. It was very nice to spend the day knowing that people were thinking of the sacrifices that we made and appreciating that which we have given.

I sat and enjoyed some coffee and cookies with an elderly gentleman that had served in WWII after the program at the school. It is so interesting to learn of the stories that others have about the time they spent. In many ways, the experiences we each had were not that different. While there may have easily been 40 years between us we were connected in spirit as veterans who both fought for our country and were willing to die for that friend whose back we leaned on so many times for support.

You don't have to wait for Veteran's Day to thank a veteran for all they have been willing to do, their sacrifice, their heart.

21 July 2008

Treasure Hunting

Ahhhh, has it been a busy last few weeks with my coursework!

I finally managed a little free time and went treasure hunting (geocaching) with the family. We drove about 45 minutes away to a town with about a dozen caches in it. We managed to collect 6 of them so we will make another trip out there on another day to get the rest.

It was a really good day, actually. My three year old even found one of the caches and was so excited about it. It was the first one that he actually found. Usually I find them first but my three oldest kids each found one and I found the other three. It was a really good day for them. After a while it started pouring so we called it quits and stopped at the McDonald's in town which had a playland. It was nice to let all the kids run around in the tubes like gerbils for a while.

I should tell you about one particular cache that we found. It was a long walk - about a half mile or so one way - which is a lot for the kids really but it was a great adventure. We got to follow the abandoned train tracks and cross the river on the train bridge. The old tracks were overrun by wild raspberries which did not have many ready to pick but there were a few and we ate them. It was a first for the girls to do that and it was like finding two treasures on this run. By the time we got back to the van, it had been over an hour and Mom was really mad. Sorry, Mom. She was freaking because the other one we stopped there initially to get was only 500 feet from where we parked.

Overall, though, a good day.

10 July 2008


Today, since it has been a few days, I thought I would at least log on and ramble a little.

Hopefully everyone had a good 4th of July holiday weekend. The weather was fabulous, at least in my neck of the woods. Had some burgers and hot dogs on the grill, the kids went swimming, wached some fireworks, etc. ya know - the traditional 4th of July type stuff.

This week has been a rather busy one. The recycling guys are coming on Friday to take all of our old computer equipment away. What a relief. We had old stuff piling up for over two years. About 75 large CRT monitors and computer towers, about a dozen or so printers, boxes of keyboards and mice, tons of floppy drives and CD drives, and even a slew of VCRs and such. Getting rid of these things will make so much more room for us in our work area! Anyway, I have been busy prepping all the stuff for the haul. I had to test all the computers for the ones that would POST and the ones that wouldn't salvaging the ones that we could. I had to remove all of the inventory labels too. It was all very time consuming.

I sent out two application packets this week as well to UW-Stout. They have a couple of positions open that I would be really interested in. I really enjoy my job now and I am good at it but either of these opportunities would be near impossible to pass up. I really enjoy working in the field of education and technology and the Instructional Design and Technology Consultant or the Information Systems Supervisor positions would be too sweet. With five children and a stay home wife/mom, I need to take all the great opportunities that come my way.

Had a big midterm project to knock out this week too for my class in Assessment for E-Learning. It is part of a graduate certification program for e-learning and online teaching. Great program, by the way. I would recommend it if you are in any position of education or training. Here is a link to get you started if you are interested.

E-Learning and Online Teaching

Anyway, big midterm project. had to get that finished up before the end of the week. It was a group effort too. Five of us had to come up with some research on various assessment tools and combine them all into one big document. I made a webpage for us all to put or work into. We are just about done as of this post.

So, back to work on the project, then.
Until next time...

03 July 2008

Diablo III

I just got done watching the cinematic trailer and gameplay video for Diablo III. WOW!

For the record, I am a big fan of gaming. I particularly enjoy World of Warcraft at the moment but I was a huge fan of Diablo and Diablo II back in the day. I was really excited to find that Diablo III was in the works. It really looks great from what I have seen so far.

Here is the link for you to enjoy the videos as well if you like.

Diablo III Website

I know I will be buying this when it comes out. Maybe I will see you on battle.net in a dungeon someday.

02 July 2008

Cool Comic Site

I have recently become aware of a pretty cool comic strip maker. You are limited to a few characters and some of them are rather wierd as in a dude with the body of a pigeon but others are normal. You can adjust positions of characters and speech bubbles, change background colors, and scale sizes of the people. You can also choose between a 2, 3, or 4 panel comic.

While there is no way to add any drawing of your own and no other objects but people and speech bubbles, there is some potential for the really clever minds out there.

Check out my attempt at making a comic. I figured since I am a tech guy, I would make one related to that.

click to enlarge

Here is the link to the site if you want to give it a try...

Make Beliefs Comix

30 June 2008

Deer - Satan's Helpers

Ok, I am offically declaring that I think deer suck!

All they do is threaten to kill me several times every week. Sometimes they stand in the road and wait for me and other times they dash out when I am least expecting it.

Just this year, so far, two deer have made contact with my car. There literally must have been at least a hundred that have tried though.

The first contact, I was actually charged. It was almost as if it thought I was the one doing the threatening. It came out of the ditch and head-butted my driver door. What the heck! Scared the peaches out of me. Whatever the reason for attacking me, I won... stupid deer - made him do a face plant on the blacktop. Try flanking an Intrepid going 55 mph again, idiot.

The second time this year must of been a deer that was dared by her friends to play a game of chicken with that white one coming down the road. I managed to slow down a little bit but still hit her. I just clipped the back legs and had her doing a little slip-n-slide on her hind quarters for a few yards before she ran off again. You know her friends were still in the ditch on the other side laughing in a strange deer kind of way.

So, what is the deal? I see more deer than anything else on the road. I am not constantly dodging cats, dogs, bear, foxes, skunks, porcupines, raccoons, wolves, squirrels, chipmunks, badgers, etc. with my car. JUST THE DEER!

GOOD GRIEF! Get out of the stinkin' road, you dumb animals. I swear they must be Satan's helpers because they are always the ones out there causing accidents. Always the deer. I hate deer.

I am not a hunter but have often thought that I would take up the sport just kill a few. Someone else can have the meat. I just want to kill the deer.

28 June 2008


A couple of weeks ago, my family and I decided we wanted to try out geocaching. We told the kids we would go "treasure hunting" and they immediately loved the idea.

What the heck, might as well try and put a little bit of that economic stimulus package toward something that can provide some long-lasting, good, clean, family fun - right?

...So we bought a GPS!

What a great activity for use with these things. A great way to increase sales on something that most people would otherwise never buy, too.

Ok, so we bought a Garmin GPSmap 60 Cx. ($269.00) I really like this GPS. I remember working with the PLGR, (Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver), we called them pluggers, in the military and loving those, but man, were those beastly to deal with compared to the latest on the civilian market.

Check out these huge things!
They did work well (for their time) if you knew how to use them.

Military PLGR

The Garmin is way smaller, but has way more features, better accuracy, better interface, maps, and it is even in color! What a deal!

We have been out hunting a few times now and have found 18 caches at the time of this post. This is really fun. It is like a big, global game of hide the thimble. You go out and find the hidden stash which varies in size, then you sign the log book to prove you have actually found it. Depending on the size of the container, (I have seen anything from a 35mm film canister to a shoebox size tupperware bowl) you might find some good treasures. The protocol is to take one thing from the cache and leave something different.

The kids really like looking through all the goodies and deciding what to take.

Just a tidbit of knowledge...

In French, the word 'cacher' means to hide and 'geo' refers to Earth so when you put them together you get a really cool activity to enjoy all over the world. I would encourage any of you to give it a try, but be sure to have a supply of bug dope on hand before you head out.

Why the Blog?

Blogs are fascinating.

So what took me so long to make one?

I guess I just never felt like I had a lot to say about anything. So I decided to make a blog where I can talk about everything. No strings attached.

I started out in the field of education by teaching chemistry and physical science at the high school level. One of the main objectives of science is to help people to better understand the world around them. One of the things I learned in a graduate course I took is that we can gain a better understanding of things by simply analyzing through a different lens. Our experiences, childhood, education, socio-economic status, race, gender, and health all play a role in how we see the world.

I posit that by stopping to trade lenses and being brave enough to experience the minds of those around us, we just might develop some growth of character, knowledge, patience, and love.

So here begins my blog. I hope to learn as much from you as you learn from me.

Have a great day!