Saturday, December 6, 2008


54 by !SOY 89¡ on Zooomr

We all have guilty pleasures, although it's more guilty for men, I'm thinking.  A friend of mine has created a list of his top 5 guilty pleasure movies; one of which is Mean Girls.  I have to admit, I have several guilty pleasures.  Here are a few:
  1. Mean Girls
  2. Sky High
  3. Freaky Friday
  4. "One Step at a Time" by Jordan Sparks
  5. nearly anything by Justin Timberlake
  6. "Womanizer" by Britney Spears
  7. "Disturbia" & "SOS" by Rihanna
As you can see, these are pretty bad. But you need to understand, I don't care. Who's judging me?  My friends? My coworkers? You?

I was talking with a friend the other day about why we're homeschooling our kids. One of the bullet-points that popped in my head was self-esteem.
   I can remember numerous times where my peers in school would give me a hard time about what I liked. I tried my darnedest to blow them off, and enjoy what I liked anyway. I wasn't strong enough. It took many years, (and a wonderful wife) to get over those fears of "what will people think?".
   I want my kids to have the freedom to like what they like, why they like it.  Not because their friends like it.

So, basically I'm exercising my right to like stupid stuff.

Pandora Radio - Listen to Free Internet Radio, Find New Music

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In an effort to ignore the freezing weather & tons of snow falling from the sky...

Sunset by AmateurX on Zooomr

Thursday, December 4, 2008

6th photo on the 6th page

IMG_5606, originally uploaded by AmateurX.

From Flickr Meme on Friendfeed:

“It works like this: if you use Flickr, go to the sixth page of your photostream and pick the sixth picture there, then post it to your blog.”

This is my cousin, taken at my late grandmother's house. The extended family was taking pictures that day...will probably be the last time the whole family will get together like that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Getting up the guts

Inspired by Dmom's post on getting emails to avoid Costco, I am reminded of

I have a few friends/family members that send me email that are meaningless forwards. Ah, the dreaded "FW:" in the subject line. I could just filter them out, but I'd rather not get them in the first place. In fact, recently I received an email that I thought for sure was a personal, (hand) written email straight from the heart. It started off nice, but then melted away into a chain letter! I was flaberghasted.

ThanksNo does a pretty good job of getting the message across. Listen, I like you. You're my friend/relative/loved-one. I just don't want to receive emails like this. Please don't take offense...yadda, yadda, yadda.

The problem I'm having is, I don't want them to be offended. Which is funny, because I just said ThanksNo does a pretty good job of laying it all out. Still, these are good friends/relatives. And, I don't do well in the "too bad they got offended, that's their problem" department. Of course, if these people would read my blog I wouldn't even have to send them the link. :)

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Thursday, November 27, 2008


Barrier, originally uploaded by AmateurX.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yeah, I think I want a Chi-Rho

I've been wanting a new tattoo for ages. I have a place picke out (on the inside of my forearm) I just haven't decided what to get. I think I want one of these.

I really want to show you the pic, but I don't want to hot-link.  Please check out this link above for all the cool pics.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flewallen Family Reunion

Flewallen family reunion from Mark Nielsen on Vimeo.

Here's a video of Laura's family reunion over the 4th of July. Hillbillies, fireworks, guns, and fire, what more can you ask for? Click thru for the hi-def version!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Halt the endless wanting!

Today I read this fantastic blog-post on GetRichSlowly called You Can't Always Get What You Want.  He made the distinction between wanting by itself, and satisfying those wants.  This is my exact problem.  I want to satisfy every want I have, regardless of financial consequences.  It's good to want, but not necessarily to satisfy every want you have.  This might be one of my New Year's resolutions.  " differentiate the wants I can/should satisfy, and those I can't/shouldn't.  Every person in the U.S. needs to read this article. 

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Parenting is more than just the "do's" and the "don't's"

Last Wednesday (10/29/08) I took the girls out to dinner at National Coney Island. We were out and had the opportunity to grab some food outside the house for a change. The kids were pretty excited. They both chatted the whole time, while eating, & coloring on their place-mats. Little Tessa was going on & on about how she wanted her birthday there... (I need to note that this conversation was funny in and of itself, but is not the main focus of this post.) She eventually decided that she wanted to go to Red Robin because they sing, cheer, & bring dessert. Buried in this discussion though, I could see she just wanted to go out to dinner. ...and not just the whole family, but with me specifically. It broke my heart.

It wasn't long ago that I posted about how I was going to take each of the kids out to breakfast, individually, so we can have some quality one-on-one time. Fears of heart attack, and obesity have stifled my plans. I have come to realize, it's not the meal. It's the time. I'm thinking we could go grocery shopping, for that matter, and have a good time.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize it's state of mind. I need to be aware that wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I could be spending time with the kids. Logistically this could get a little crazy, but I think if it's in my heart, the logistics will follow.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why does God gotta be teachin' me humility?

These last few years I've acquired a bad attitude. I frequently find myself judging others for their shortcomings. The funny thing is, I'm not completely oblivious to my own shortcomings, Mainly, I just block them from my consciousness. God unfailingly inserts snippets of clarity into my life on a regular basis. (I'd like to think that most of the time I pick up on them, but that could also be one of my shortcomings.)

Today's lesson is on grammar. Within a half an hour of arriving at work, I was slapped across the face with an email containing, what I considered, horrible grammar. Minutes later, I came across a newsletter that contained a word I had felt been misused: “diametrically”. (Without going into much detail, we use the word “diametral” at work all the time. Some people use the word diametrical in its place. Until today I felt this was completely incorrect, and all users should be punished.) I looked both words up on both Definr & to verify their use. I read the definitions, and son-of-a-gun, I was wrong.

I'm not dumb. I know the right answers. I lack the discipline to stick to God's guidelines. Being humbled, when not expecting it, can be a bitch. But humility is necessary. I found a few verses that illustrate:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 (English Standard Version)

The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4 (English Standard Version)

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11 (English Standard Version)

God always says it better than I do.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

A dark day...

What the hell? Why does it seem that my recent days are littered with dark days? To many, this will seem like I'm a whiner, and to a certain degree I am; but this issue is important to me.

Take away all other websites, but leave me my internet radio!

We recently received a memo at work re-stating the computer use policy. Teamed with the purchase of some new internet logging software, management wants to crack down on internet use. Generally speaking I don't have any problem with that. They already filter out Facebook, and I could give a rip about Myspace. Obviously, without the distraction of the internet, there's nothing really else to do except work.

Here's my dilemma. I've been with this particular company for 9 years. I've been listening to internet radio the entire time. I've watched internet radio go from flourishing in the beginning to the almost skeletal state that resides now. I've written several posts celebrating Pandora for its unique idea, and song selection methods. I've been listening to Pandora almost exclusively for the last 3-4 years. I've found that I'm most productive with the headphones on, and Pandora rockin'. I'm able to tune out all the BS that goes on, and concentrate on my work.

I've written before that music is a lifeblood of mine. I get cranky when I don't get my daily allowance; think of it as sleep. It's hard to explain so I won't do it here. Let's just say music plays an extremely important role in my life so a change like this has its adverse affects.

I can hear it now from all 3 of you...”get an MP3 player!” You're actually missing the point. Internet radio contains music I don't have. In the case of Pandora, it's all about music discovery; finding music I might like based on what I do like. Quite often, they're right. The alternatives (read: bit-Torrent) I don't consider practical; not for music discovery. The radio is a joke, so don't even say it.

I stand by my headline, “take any website, just don't take my internet radio.”

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Baby steps...

I have recently re-evaluated my federal tax exemption. When I claimed “6”, I would get a fairly large return in April. I have since changed that for the rest of the year. Did you know you can claim “19”? That’s the max. On the website, there’s an withholding calculator. It’s actually quite interesting.

My plan involves paying down debt for the remainder of the year, and stashing as much as I can get away with. I’m going to then re-evaluate my withholding exemption in January, and again in June. I hadn’t thought of optimizing my exemption until recently.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dear Digg: Girl Missing. Have You Seen Her?

Ok, so a friend of mine tipped me on to this. If you've got any information, it'd be hugely appreciated.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Annoyed...LBP, where are you?

LittleBigPlanet - The Human Body Level

When I placed my pre-order for LPB a month ago, I used trusty (Even though they had recently eliminated their 30 day price protection policy, I figured that game wouldn't drop in price for quite a while.) I haven't pre-ordered anything for probably 5 years, so I wasn't sure I would get it on the day of release. At the time, I didn't care. "What's a few days?" I thought. "I am saving $4 in sales tax." Little did I know...

During the last month, I have been amazed at all the things surrounding this game; from the plethora of pre-order goodies, to the reviews from all those using the beta. Screenshots, in-game videos, costumes, user-created levels, all get my hands twitching with excitement.

LittleBigPlanet TGS 2007 Trailer

Today I receive an email stating if I want to receive the game on the release day, I have to pay $5.98. Screw that! Even with the pre-order incentives, I'm way too cheap to pay $6 to ship something I can go up to the store, cheaper. But at the same time, I can't wait 5-9 days for shipping! I've decided to go up to GameCrazy and place my pre-order there. That way, I can pick up the game on the way home from work. (Not to mention, they have a cool carrying case.) I'll pay the $4 tax to have it on that day.

Now, I'm sure that all 2 of you who read my blog wonder why I would make such a big deal about having this game at launch. Just search LBP on google or youtube, and you'll see; or go to the LBP website. This game is going to be awesome for the whole family...

...and look at this cute costume for those who get the game at launch:

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Monday, October 6, 2008

And soeth starteth the film festival...eth

I started this tradition last year and I think it worked well. All year I add "scary" movies to my Netflix que. In October I watch all said scary movies, all month long. It makes for a pretty exciting month of October. Plus, it gets me in the mood for Halloween. This time though, I think I'm going to have to interject some 'kid movies' into the mix. The kids were somewhat annoyed that I used my 'emergency powers' to take over the que. The problem is, last year I watched many, many of these movies, and now I don't have many that I haven't seen. I'm really on the look out for a good, scary (not gory) movie. Take a look at my que (if you have Netflix. I can't figure out how to show it to the public) and give me a recommendation! I need it.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Economist: Why Bankruptcy is Better than Wall Street Bailout

This is an excellent explanation of the bailout

.Congress has balked at the Bush administration's proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. Under this plan, the Treasury would have bought the "troubled assets" of financial institutions in an attempt to avoid economic meltdown. This bailout was a terrible idea. Here's why.

read more | digg story

Monday, September 29, 2008

Michigan Voters To Decide Medical Marijuana Issue

On November 4, the citizens of Michigan will decide whether to legalize the medical use of marijuana in their state. Polls are showing the measure with 67% support.

read more | digg story

Atheism on digg scares me

I'm not linking to the particular digg story on purpose.  The comments there kinda freak me out. 

Today I ran across a comic that showed God being thankful that atheists don't 'bug' him with requests, and heartache.  That, in conjunction with the comments about how atheism is so much better than religion kinda got me sick to my stomach.  Everything was riddled with ignorance; hundreds of people having no clue of what God's character is.  It actually made me sad to know that all these people lead lives of ignorance, & don't/won't know God's love or grace. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Clarification...not a douche

Yesterday I posted my rebuttal to an article about ways to improve the romance in your relationship.  I need to clarify that many of my "psssh, that wont work for me" comments were based on personality differences between the "standard couple" and my relationship with my wife.  I had not intention to make Laura look like a douche.  Please accept my apologies for any douche-ical emphasis.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

7 Ways To Inject Romance Into Your Relationship...uh, not for me

photo by luigi morante

Dumb Little Man has a good post about how to interject (more) romance into your relationship. I'll list them briefly, but go read the article.  They are as follows.
  1. Eye Gazing
  2. Book a romantic surprise getaway
  3. Touch your partner more often
  4. Play romantic games
  5. Write a love letter
  6. Surprise your partner with a romantic dinner
  7. Spend more time together
I love running across blog posts like these because everybody's got their opinion.  For the most part, the "experts" have a formula that works.  The problem I have is that Laura & I don't fit the mold.  The standard formulas don't apply; they need to be modified.

Eye gazing - Won't work.  About once a week I comment to my lover to come sit closer so we can gaze into each others' eyes.  She laughs in my face.  She may think I'm kidding, but I don't think that matters.  She makes comments like, "Why are you staring at me?"

Book a surprise getaway - I don't have a spare $300 minimum that is required for a day or two outside the home.  If there are cheaper options, it's rare that she'll consider them.  I have no doubt that getting out of the house for an overnight, or longer, would be beneficial to her/us.  It would be even more cool if I were to surprise her with all the details taken care of.  I won't disregard this one altogether, but for now it's not realistic.

Touch your partner more often - I'm the touchy one in the relationship.  I can relate being gently rubbed on my back, or leg, or whatever, to sitting in a hot tub.  It's very comforting to me.  For me to return the favor gets mixed results.  Sometimes she thinks I want have ulterior motives, other times she finds it downright annoying.  I tend to shy away from this behavior, and therefore keep my hands to myself, figuratively of course.

Play romantic games - Naughty films don't cut it.  We've been there before.  I think I've even tried one of those "relationship books" before...

Write a love letter - If I had any decent writing skills, and patience, I might actually try this.  Laura loves to write, and is genuinely appreciative of hand-written letters.  I consider myself a decent typist; a writer I'm not.  Shoot, when was the last time you have read a love letter?  Me too.  I don't even know what they're supposed to say, or sound like.  Maybe the content wouldn't be as important as long as it's stated 'from the heart', and of course, hand-written.  I know, I've seen the movies.  I love those sappy romantic-comedies, but that's another post.  I'll concede that this one may work.  Just don't ask me to do it on a regular basis.

Surprise your partner with a romantic dinner - The hard part with this one is more getting the kids out of the house than making the dinner.  In addition, Laura often gets stressed out when we're home when the kids are somewhere else.  It's the chronic "what needs to be done now? Laundry?" feeling voices she has.  I might be able to calm those inner-voices with a little (or a lot) of gin & tonic.  Hmm....  Let me think about this one.

Spend more time together - Well, duh!  This one is harder than it sounds.  With the constant distractions of children, Blackberries®, etc. it's hard to spend time together, other than just next to each other.   Now that it's football season, we have a whole hour to sit and chat at the park while the kids practice & play on the structure.  She, on the other hand would rather use that time to clean up the house, grocery shop, run any errands that have to be done, etc.  I can't really blame her for wanting to get things done so the voices stop (see above).  I think this one is the most important, but the hardest to accomplish.  Let's face it, it takes a shit-ton of work on both parties' part. 

Okay, so after a little reflection on each bullet point, I concede that there are a few I could try.  Some are going to be a lot of work, others I'm not even going to attempt.  I even chuckle at the thought of a couple.  I still think the easiest solution is sexytime. ;)  I'd love to hear some of your solutions/ideas...preferably free.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


A while back, I wrote Pandora to make some suggestions to go out with a "bang".  I realize today that I may have jumped the gun.  Obviously they don't want to dissolve, and will be doing whatever they can to avoid closing the doors.  The problem, I realize, is that I'm nervous.  I've had several of my favorite net radio stations close their doors, and I'm paranoid  that it'll happen again.

So basically, I had given up on them.  I guess I hadn't really thought about it, but that's the risk of using start-up, web2.0 companies.  You may be the only one who likes the site.

I have an HDRadio tuner for my car.  I spend probably 1/4 of my time listening to traditional/terrestrial radio.  When I actually do listen to the radio, I have 2 stations that I listen to.  One of those stations plays old hip-hop classics, & the other plays (new) dance music.  The horrific repeating of tracks still exists, but because I only listen once-in-a-while, I can live with it. 

More or less, if terresterial radio dissappeared tomorrow, I wouldn't shed a tear.  Now, if internet radio left us, I would be very upset.

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Top 10 80’s Cartoons

Okay, so the title isn't entirely accurate. It's close enough for me. Make sure you click on the digg link, because the thread is awesome (as always) with links to other shows & videos!Oh the 80’s. The decade that gave us the Wonder Years, Who’s the Boss, great video games and a flippant hairstyle as high as a skyriser. What else could the 80’s be known for? What about all the great cartoons that came out in the 80’s? In this list, we will go through what we think are the top 10 cartoons from the 80’s.

read more | digg story

Friday, September 19, 2008


Avast! Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Ye should be visiten'
for more info, savvy?

Music video games (aka Guitar Hero): family friendly?

I was reading a good point-counterpoint over at AnandTech: Parenting And Rock Band 2: Why I'm Not Getting The Game.  Although the wife had some valid points, I still ended up siding with the father. 

For me deciding to buy Guitar Hero III was a no-brainer.  Heck, I didn't even consider the kids until I saw the scantily-clad girl (character) with her thong sticking out of her pants.  Buying the alternate outfit, to cover up the bra-for-a-top, for said character was one of the first things I did.  (I still haven't "unlocked" the devil character for obvious reasons). 

One of the counter-points of the article was about language.  I know, for the most part, they censor the swear words (as a parent, I applaud; as a grown-up, I cringe).  But it's the other words and their respective contexts that I hadn't really thought about.  In fact, even though I had heard 90% of all the songs before, I never payed any attention to the words; heck, I still don't.  So, without dragging this topic on, here's my stance: I'm way too busy trying to hit the notes to pay attention to the words.  I think my kids are the same way.  I'm not worried.

For me Guitar Hero III (and soon to be World Tour) is, or at least should be, part of our homeschool curriculum; hear me out.  I place a great importance on music and film with repsect to our culture.  It is important to me that kids know who Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Rolling Stones, The Doors, Aerosmith, etc, etc, etc are.  Guitar Hero does a pretty good job at exposing my kids to musical culture.  Caveat: I know that there are many, many more genres of music; that's a whole other post. 

So, the bottom line, is that I'm going to let, and even encourage my children to play Guitar Hero Rock Band, et. al.

[Photo by Vracing]

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Can 365 Nights Of Sex Bolster A Marriage?

When Their Marriages Fell Into The Doldrums, Two Long-Married Couples Took Action. Hit the read link for more.

read more | digg story to stop post-order price guarantee

As of September 1, 2008 will stop giving refunds if the item you purchased drops in price within 30 days. I used this 'feature' all the time. I will no longer consider Amazon like I used to. That sucks...for them.

read more | digg story

Transferred balance to 0% int. card

I recently transferred my huge credit card balance to a 0% interest credit card. I think I get like 9mos to pay it off. In theory, this shouldn’t be a problem. The problem is, my car(s) have a bunch of servicing that needs to be done.

At least it’s a step in the right direction!

I knew there was justification for my many hours spent looking at pictures!

TWIP » Improve Your Images - TWIP
Here’s How To Improve Your Photography - Look at lots of pictures!

It all makes sense. The more pictures you study, the better pictures you take.  I am very selective when I favorite photos on Flickr.  I only press that little star when I really like an image.  The suggestion over on TWiP is to not only view, but study tons of images.  This way you can better understand what you like and what you don't; and how it's achieved. 

This is an image by one of my favorite photographers on Flickr.  There's so much about this picture that speaks to me: perfectly sharp eyes; math on the hand; smirk underneath the hand; the framing that puts her eyes toward the top right, her hand toward the middle, and just enough shoulder as to not over-power the shot.  I'm not the only one.  There's ~119 comments on this image alone.  (Her profile says she's 15; I think that might be an old bio.)

Photo by *Zara

If you haven't already, make sure you check out the This Week in Photography podcast. It always has useful information for all skill levels of photography.  It's run by some professional photographers, but is dumbed-down for the amateur like me.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

I am a f*cking idiot

I am a f*cking idiot, originally uploaded by gmr2048.

Don't freak out, this isn't *my* lens. It's not something you really think about until it happens to you. His story about this has mirrored a story of mine (with the exception of anything broken). Time to maybe stitch a "quick clip" on my backpack to (hopefully) prevent these types of accidents.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Not the first time

Pandora Radio - Listen to Free Internet Radio, Find New Music

I don't know what it is, but why is it that music always sounds better through headphones here at work? Normally, I am sick & tired of "classic rock". I grew up on that stuff, and now I'm pretty much over it. For some reason though, I put on the headphones and listen to my Led Zeppelin station, and off I go...peace.

So was sitting there at my desk thinking about ho much better the music sounded. I envisioned listening to the same awesome tunes of the 70s in my car, or the stereo at home. Nuthin'. No thanks. It's not the same! I can't put my finger on it. I think there's something about being 'stuck' in front of the computer; you're forced to listen. Even if you're busy at work...

More than one time my mind was thinking, "MAN, this is good sh*t!" <head groove>, <head groove>

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shoot, I have to wait. >:o|

Welp, I think I've decided that I need to wait probably at least 6 months before I can buy a (new) car. I realized today that I need to dig myself out of debt before I plunge into more debt. It's like ripping the bandaid(r) off. I know it's going to hurt, I sure as hell don't want to do it, but I know it needs to be done. It doesn't help when I see events like this going on:

Capture by AmateurX on Zooomr

Thursday, August 28, 2008

ABC Reporter Arrested in Denver Tracing the Money Trail

It's not even about the story that he was trying to report. It's about the fact that he was arrested for being on public property (the sidewalk). Watch the video to see the officer push the reporter into the street, then later another officer grabs him by the throat. ...gets my blood boiling.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Abandoned Michigan Central Train Station in the fog - Detroit

I have fond memories of, as a kid, sitting in the HUGE lobby, on the long wooden benches. I have no idea why I was there, I just remember being there. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Suggestion for going out with a bang! (letter to Pandora)

Tim and gang,
Shortly after wiping the tears off my face after reading the New York Times article, my mind was racing to figure out what I'm going to do after Pandora goes black. I have been a huge fan of Pandora for a long time, and I really don't know what I'm going to do without it. So, to my point:

Idea 1) for the last 24hrs (or so) set up all the users' stations so that they only play the thumbed up songs. That way, they'll be guaranteed great radio on their(your) last day.
Idea 2) Make it easy for the user to export all their fave'd (or even thumbed-up) songs so that at a later date the user can refer to the list when looking for the music they like.

The bottom line is that Pandora is a great resource, not only audibly, but it holds a lot of data the I'm sure users would like to have (about themselves).

These are just a couple of thoughts I thought might be worth (someone's) while. Thank you for the many years of AWESOME service. You are loved by many, and will be missed.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Basic Rights Denied At J.F.K. Airport

Although I'm not surprised, I am still bothered by stories like this. You must read it.I was recently stopped by Homeland Security as I was returning from a trip to Syria. What I saw in the hours that followed shocked and disturbed me.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


GT350, originally uploaded by AmateurX.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Pandora Bio

I figured since Pandora is probably going to shut down soon, I'd post my Pandora bio for all my millions of blog readers see. Here it is:
I grew up exploring hard rock, then eventually hair metal in the 90s. In college I went thru a music identity crisis; listening to all sorts of things, none of which really struck me. In 1999 I discovered electronic music with a now defunct internet radio station Pajamajammyjam. I quickly dove in with both feet & have been stuck there ever since. I like Euro-Dance, Trance, some funk, some downbeat, some goa, and the occasional D&B. I'm sure there's other categories I can't define...

Now I'm a Pandora die-hard with no intentions of stopping. Curse SoundExchange with their bogus royalty rates. Long live internet radio!!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pandora Nears Its 'Last Stand'

The burgeoning company may be on the verge of collapse, according to its founder, and so may be others like it. "We're approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision," said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. "This is like a last stand for webcasting."

read more | digg story

Friday, August 15, 2008

Saddest Picture You'll See Today

U.S. Army Capt. Charles Ford plays a video game with seven-year-old Wa'ad, who lost an arm and a leg to an improvised bomb, during a visit to the child's home near Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad in Iraq's volatile Diyala province.

read more | digg story

Friday, August 8, 2008


Flickr: Explore interesting photos from the last 7 days in FlickrLand...


I could hit the reload button for hours... It's amazing how many good pictures there are out there in the world. It kinda makes me feel challenged to improve my picture-taking performance. Now all I need is more hours for post-processing...

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I'm a sucker for financing...Canon 70-200mm yummy goodness

70-200mm...yummy Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo
No Interest if Paid in Full in 24 Months...
when you purchase this item or other select Camera, Photo & Video products using the Store Card. Minimum monthly payments required. Applies only to products sold by Does not apply to products sold on our site by third-party sellers. 1-Click and phone orders do not apply. Offer ends September 30. Additional restrictions apply.

I saw this today, on my usual check-for-deals web searching. I've been wanting this lens ever since it came out a couple of years ago. I haven't really been able to justify the expense. In fact, last year was the first football season where I really wished I had that lens. The girls are cheering again this season, so when I saw this financing deal (and a good price to boot), I started shuffling around in my seat. Picture a 10 year old boy jonesin' to go to the bathroom during a test in class.

Now, all I have to do is justify the cost, v.s. the financing, & see if I can wedge it into the budget.

Photo by GregCee
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Some days I LOVE Pandora. This is one of them.


I've been using Pandora for quite a while now. Most of the time I listen is at work. Lately, I've been quite busy & unable to slap on the headphones. The few times I've had chances to listen, I've been unimpressed. I'm not sure if it's the mood I'm in, or the selections that Pandora has been making...

Today on the other hand, it's as if the big P has been saving up all the good songs! I'm grooving like crazy here at my desk (my colleagues are most certainly snickering at my toe-tapping).

The last time I had such a good listen, I emailed them and they sent me a shirt! I'm not trying to get another shirt (although, that would be pretty righteous), but I just needed to give them props...again.

PandoraScreen by AmateurX on Zooomr
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Friday, August 1, 2008

Just got back from Vacation...

..and boy am I whipped. I know it's "vacation" so I'm supposed to be recharged. Well, when you go camping with an overworked wife, and 3 kids under age 9, relaxation isn't automatic. I'm making some attempts to get back into the craziness of the city. I'll post pics later...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I gotta stop watching Martin Scorsese movies...

I recently watched The Departed. I was really enjoying it until the last 10ish minutes where I was expecting all my questions to be answered. Needless to say, my questions were not answered, & I felt hung on several, albeit small, plot points. Now, I'm not an expert on Mr. Scorsese by any means. I usually don't really pay attention to the director when I put movies in my Netflix que. I think I might have to start.

I've seen a few of Mr. Scorsese's films. As I reflect on my experience with those movies, with the exception of Casino, I am finding myself disappointed. I have no doubt that he is a "good" director. I just have decided his directing style, & my movie expectations don't mix. Maybe the crying director can turn me around...

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Zoom boycott challenge results

Ok, so the other day I posted a challenge directed by the Digital Photography school. I used my 85mm, because that's the only fixed-focal length lens I have. I took many, many pictures. But I only really liked a couple.
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Java Cup

When I was young, I could drink pop from morning 'till night without any affect on my system. Now that I'm older, I am starting to notice the effects of caffeine on my body; especially at night. ...most notably is the Americano from Caribou Coffee. Yum!

Java Cup by AmateurX on Zooomr

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Thursday, July 3, 2008



Can you resist the zoom?

1-focial-length-challenge-weekend.jpgDigital Photography School has a weekend challenge; can you do it? I'm going to try it. Since the only fixed focal length I have is an 85mm, I'm going to use that. I've done this before, albeit not for an entire weekend. We'll see. I'll be sure to post the results next week.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Craziest person of the day!

Today, I was voted "Craziest person of the day" for June 16, 2008! Woohoo! I owe it all to my neighbors for their attendance of our weekly neighborhood party/get-together kick-off! Thank you all. :)


Monday, June 16, 2008

Is "No Child Left Behind" still the right choice?

Schools, Facing Tight Budgets, Leave Gifted Programs Behind - New York Times
Bridget Williams, the principal of Mountain Grove Middle School, maintains that very bright children do not deserve specially tailored classes, especially when the district is focusing on bringing all children up to a minimum standard of competence.
Ms. Williams said it was not so much the education, but merely status, that gifted children lost when their program was cut in September. ''They lost the title,'' she said.

She is not, obviously, gifted nor talented. That statement above can only be made out of ignorance. I'm not about to say that I am gifted either, but I managed to skate through 12 years of public school without having to do any real "work". I received A's & B's my entire school career; that is, until college. I had supposedly been taking "college prep" in high school, but when I arrived in college, it was a rude awakening. All-of-a-sudden, I didn't know how to study. I actually had to work to achieve a decent grade. It only took me a semester of college to realize I was "short-changed" by my public school. There are numerous cases where highly intelligent children have severe side-effects when not challenged.

Others contend that cutting programs for such students threatens the nation's future by stunting the intellectual growth of the next generation of innovators. Not only do gifted children learn faster, but often they learn in a different way, experts say.

This is exactly my thought. So, couple the continued reduction in programs geared toward the intelligent with stricter home-school laws, making it increasingly more difficult to teach your (own) children, and what do you get? You get a country that is bleeding all its intelligence away. I fear the innovative-less future of our nation.

Here's another incident. I've always thought it was pretty stupid to deprive a child of learning as a punishment; especially for something like this where intent is clear.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Inspiration, or discouragement?

For the past couple of months I've been listening to a photography podcast called This Week in Photography, or TWiP. I've listened to other photography podcasts in the past, but I haven't really been inspired, after listening, quite like I have been with this one. I also read a blog of a photographer that has really made an impact on the 'net, in the photography community anyway, and me. I first found Thomas Hawk's blog through digg. He told this story about this ridiculous situation with PriceRightPhoto. I was blown away by how badly a store could behave. I added his RSS feed, and the rest is history.

The real point here is that I listen to this podcast, look through Mr Hawk's photos, and I get inspired to take more pictures. Although, I often get discouraged. These people are so good, even their crappy pictures look better than mine. I often wonder, "how the hell did they even picture that in their mind prior to taking that shot?" I guess the real solution is just to get out there and shoot.

All-in-all though, if nothing else, Mr. Hawk has inspired me to at least get my camera out to take a shot every day. The hard part though, is that sometimes all you can get is a picture of a package of cigarettes.

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Photo by me

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Yo Joe! I used to love this show!

YOJOE.COM | Cobra Rattler [Ground Attack Jet]

When I was a child I loved machines. I was ecstatic when my parents bought me this war machine for Christmas one year. Now in my reminiscence, I found it! Click the link above to check out this AWESOME toy.

The Cobra Rattler

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Oh, the agony!

I am so exhausted today. I stayed up way too late watching game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. 3rd overtime finished up at about 12:45am. It was an intense game, with some good play, & some bad calls. This would have been a freakin' fantastic night had the Red Wings won the cup. Oh well, on to game 6.

(BTW, hockey in HD is AWESOME!!)

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photo by KCJACOBY

Monday, June 2, 2008

You're probably less-free than you think you are...

Memorial day weekend, I got the chance to shoot my buddy's kid's bow. Before this, I hadn't had much opportunity, if at all, to shoot a bow. I had a great time. The following week, I made a point to go to the local archery shop to check out their used bow selection, and see if I could pick up some useful information from the shop guy(s). I was able to shoot a new Ross bow, and boy was it smooth. The whole experience really got my blood pumpin'. It is not my nature to buy anything over $50 on-the-spot, so I left...excited.

While I was in church this past Sunday, I jotted down some notes: things I needed to take care of, or things I just wanted to remember to do. I decided that I needed to research the city ordinances regarding shooting a bow in one's backyard. On to the city website I went.

After sifting through many, many pages of legalese, I found what I was looking for. Shooting of arrows is prohibited. I figured as much, from suburbia; but that's not the area of the law that was concerning to me. There are several instances where what some would consider trivial rules, are prohibited by law. The couple that come to mind are swearing in public, or on school grounds is punishable by up to 90 days in jail or $500 fine, or both; and city parks are restricted to residents, those employed within the city limits, or bona fide guests thereof. That last one is punishable although, I forgot the punishment.

I'm sure this is the tip of the iceberg. And the laws of probability suggests that the majority of the cities are like this, and some with more asinine laws that the few that I have stated. I shudder to think...

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Yup, I Think That About Covers Everybody...(PIC)

This is probably one of the funniest digg discussions in a long time! Click the digg link to read the funny-ass comments. No one is left out..

read more | digg story

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Audi TT by PPI...

For those of you who like car-porn, click the link. For those that don't, or don't know what it is, let me explain a bit. It's called "porn" because the pics are gorgeous, &amp; for most of us we can't have it.

Why are the pics gorgeous you ask? For this pic, it's the proportioned ground effects, matched with the not-too-overbearing spoiler, and the sweet, black rims to top it off. Machines can be beautiful, and this is a perfect example.

PPI tunes the new Audi TT - Autoblog

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You can't kill the metal, The metal will live on...

Today I stumbled across Pandora's podcast, this time, about Metal. Although I think the podcast itself is interesting, I don't feel it does Metal justice. They play samples of certain types of sub-genres, usually played by an independent band, to illustrate the particular sub-genre being discussed. The problem with this particular episode is that these samples lack vocals. The group mentions that vocals can, and are usually, play an important part of the music, but they don't play any songs with vocals in the podcast. Like all Pandora's other podcasts, they have many popular music samples on the website to further illustrate the sub-genres. Make sure you go to the page to check out these awesome samples. Or, you could just listen to my Hair Metal station if you want to hear some sweet metal!

Pandora Presents... Types of Metal

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thanks. No.

Quite possible the best web-service out there today.

Thanks. No.

(via Lifehacker)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Flashmob enter your house for a party? No problem!

I saw this on Lifehacker today. This could be the best $650 you could spend. The do-it-yourself Emergency Party Button. Bad-a$$.

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I think my kids are at a slight advantage...

By reading this article, I get the feeling that my kids could (almost) fall out of bed and do better...

Some DISD students not ready for college

As a rather new homeschool family, we are often nervous about the learning status of our children. Again, thanks to the internet, we can be reassured that we need not stress out.

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God bless the internet

There have been countless occasions where Laura & I have gone to the internet to answer our most dire questions. For me specifically, the internet has come to me with answers to problems I didn't even know I had.

I read a several blogs every day (, TWIP, etc), but Dumblittleman ranks up there with my favs. They've always got some great tips to better your quality of life, of which I am always on the lookout. Today, I came across this:

7 Ways to Eliminate Emotional Clutter

Make sure to take a gander. You might find a solution for your 'ism's.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

"I need a vacation." Not just a quote...

If you recall in one of the best Governator movies ever, "True Lies" Arnold just gets done fighting the bad guys. He's feeling overwhelmed, and says, "I need a vacation" in his Austrian accent. That's how I feel. The problem is, I don't want to go on vacation, I want vacation to come to me.

True Lies Clips

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Would you die for the cause?

I don't think about it all the time, but every once in a while I think it would be an honor to die for the cause. This guy died by quickly reacting to a situation, and ended up saving the life of his 4 year old daughter, at the sacrifice of his own.

Dad died saving his little girl :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

The real question for me is, am I willing to die for the glory of God? I don't know. I would easily die for my kids, but for a stranger? I have no idea. I guess you never really know until you're in the situation. Hmmm...

Netherlands American Cemetery - by Time Freeze
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Friday, May 2, 2008

Do you Facebook?

The other day I was at a party and I heard a term I hadn't heard used as a verb: Facebook. Actually, the sentence went like this, "...Facebook me." What the heck does that mean? That's like saying "Myspace me." This does not compute.

I jumped on the Myspace bandwagon, & I now wish I hadn't. I spent too much time, & never really benefited. I really don't want to jump on another bandwagon to have it only be a fad...again.

So, I guess the real question I have is, is joining Facebook worth it? I've been thinking about Twitter, but haven't really explored it.

Many of you may say, why not both? Well, I'd rather spend most of my 'time' in one community, rather than many communities some of the time.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008


I think I may have had too much beer for a "school night".  Doh!


Photo by tanakawho

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


(It is my theory that) for my employer to thwart heavy internet usage they've restricted their pipe to dial-up speeds.  OMG!!  This is so FRUSTRATING!  It took this movie the greater part of an hour to load, making it impossible to watch it on my lunch (half-)hour.

My new plan-of-action is going to have to be to post sites, videos, etc. on my blog (or my shared stuff page) so I can watch them all when I get home.  I think that'll work...

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Yikes! Ain't no way...

"Parents who prayed as their 11-year-old
daughter died of untreated diabetes will be charged with
second-degree reckless homicide, the Marathon County district
attorney said Monday."

I'm somewhat torn when I see articles like this. Where I differ, is that I would do whatever it takes (within reason) to see that my kid(s) stays healthy (read: lives).

ABC News: Homicide Charges for Parents Who Prayed as Daughter Died

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Off to a good start...

For my birthday, my wife bought me a daily devotions Bible for Busy Dads. It’s the entire New Testament broken down in daily chunks. I’ve been pretty good, reading about 71% of my days, i.e. 5 out of 7 days of the week. Some day’s I have to play catch-up, but it’s easy to do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Netflix to Jack Up Prices For Blu-ray Renters

What's the best way to punish the same early adopters that made your service a success? If you're Netflix, it's charging them extra for renting Blu-ray. CEO Reed Hastings justifies this action by saying "consumers are used to paying more for high-definition," basically punching this next generation of early adopters in the nads.All I have to say is that if I'm going to pay extra for Blu-ray, I better get better service!

read more | digg story

Friday, April 18, 2008

Can you live without a computer for 24hrs?

Shutdown Day is back with a bang! More than 1.6 million people worldwide participated in Shutdown Day last year ... and this year there's a crazy global Flash Mob too!A massive global experiment to spread awareness about the pitfalls of excessive use and abuse of computers and Internet.Check it out!

read more | digg story

...stupid happiness.

Why does happiness seem so illusive? We often try so many things to find happiness, but many attempts are in vain. We find a new job, buy a new house, buy a new car, get a promotion (i.e. get more money), but yet we still are unhappy.

Laura tells me that I need to distinguish the difference between
happiness & joy. Joy is lasting, whereas happiness is fleeting. I
suppose that's true. She says that "I should be happy (read: joyful) in a cardboard box..."

Yes, the right answer is that God brings us joy. The problem is that I don't really know in my heart what that looks like. That's why I use "happiness."

This gets even more complicated when you have to factor in the happiness of the wife & kids... Laura & I have spent, and are going to spend a lot of time discussing this very thing.

As a man/father/husband, I have a huge responsibility. They say that you (I) cannot be held responsible for others' happiness, but my choices as the head of the household directly affect their happiness. So, in a sense I am responsible for their happiness.

More to come...

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Monday, April 7, 2008

8 Things Pickup Artists Can Teach About Seducing Your Spouse

Oh, man! So, that's where I've been going wrong..."In 2005, a book entitled, The Game, exposed to the world an underground community of pickup artists to the world. However, I encountered more than a few married people who were using the methods, techniques, and philosophies of the seduction community to enliven their marriages and become more attractive to their partners."

read more | digg story

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More on men & cars

I found my new favorite show: Test Drive. This episode does some psychological analysis on why men like cars, & are women attracted to hot cars...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ooooh, the stick...

A while back, I read a great thread about the benefits of the stick shift vs. the automatic; even the manumatic (those automatic transmissions that claim to allow manual intervention.) Here is a fantastic summation of my feelings exactly.
Punch the throttle and Pandora's Box opens underhood. The tach needle runs for the redline -- pay attention now, because first gear is history, and you'll get acquainted with the rev limiter if you don't shift. Snick that ideally-placed shifter into 2nd and let the rush continue. The Boxer's engine noise is complemented by an audible rush from the turbo as you storm forward. At this point, you're probably cackling like the Joker and gleefully rowing through the gears. It's involving and rewarding, and you silently thank Subaru for giving the car the three-pedal treatment instead of a manumatic deal. The hundredths of a second a fancy-paddle tranny would save you mean nothing to the dude in the Mustang you surprised four lights ago.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter re-cap

Wow. This Easter kicked our asses. We had my sister & her family in from California this Easter weekend. We celebrated 7 birthdays with too much cake & ice cream. My kids started getting sick last Tuesday, and never really kicked it. They're going to see the doctor today. I'm hoping we can all go to bed early this week, so we can catch up & get well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I don't care what you say...

...this is still the best clip on the 'net!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Game (reality) or not

This morning while I was in the shower,which is where I do most of my critical thinking, I had a thought. I thought of a sweet new game reality show: "The Hotest Loser". The title is still a work in progress, but the premise is good. It's based on the Bigest Loser, but with a twist. Here's what I have in mind...

The show is only open to parents that don't have the time or energy to keep themselves in-shape & confident. Each person is alloted a certain lump sum of money and must budget their expenditures toward the goal. The goal is to do whatever it takes to become "hot". Some will spend their money on plastic surgery, but of course that won't go very far. Some may get a gym membership, and may have some dough left over for lasic or something. There's so many avenues to go: hairstylists, dieticians, personal trainers, anything that helps the contestants achieve their goal of hotness.

The beauty of this show is that it allows the freedom of the individual to seek the method to achieve hotness. It also gives that person limits so as to not be rediculous about said method.

Since I thought of the idea, I get to be the first contestant. Lord knows I need to get my ass into shape.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

That's it, I'm changing my habits

Police: TV Distracted Mom Of Girl Who Nearly Drowned

I'm not making any implications, but I can totally understand this situation.

Monday, March 3, 2008

There goes the weekend...

Just as I thought, the weekend was a bust. I didn't really accomplish anything I wanted to do. I guess this just means that I'm going to have to be more creative at getting things done throughout the week. I'm going to have to referr to last week's post to cross things off my list.

BTW, I'm still looking for an online to-do list, that supports sms/text messaging. If you know of one, comment, or send me an email. So far, I'm not satisfied with the workaround solutions I've tried.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

GTD, yeah right!

I can't seem to get anything done. I feel like I get home and my brain turns to putty. That makes it even more frustrating for Laura, I'm sure. Her todo list for yesterday & today are ridiculous. Here's a sample:
  • Go grocery shopping
  • Go pick up extra cookies
  • Drop off check at Sherri's house for Brownies
  • Go to Co-op
  • Teach children
  • Make dinner for loving husband
  • Buy stuff at Target

Now, I'm not a woman, so I can't remember all the stuff she has to do, but you can tell by this measly list, it's a lot. Just for reference, here's my list:

  • Buy shims for door, & finish installing door in basement.
  • Get gas
  • Find damn glasses
  • Wash car, damnit
  • Shovel walkway & driveway, apply salt where needed.
  • Buy more rock-salt
  • Pay bills online
  • Renew car registration online
  • Transfer money to checking account to cover car renewal
  • Narrow down digital video camera choices so when tax return comes in, we know what camera to buy
  • Get tax return information to accountant
  • Make sure all tax return information is together
  • Help Carly deliver cookies
  • Spend time with kids...all of them
Now my list looks longer, but it's deceiving. These are things I'd like to get done by the end of the weekend. Laura's list is just for today. And, I don't have a good track record of getting things accomplished. I know there are a bunch of sites out there to help with Getting Things Done, (Lifehacker, 43Folders, etc) but I can't do that. Here's why:

The typical day for me is usually like this:
  • Get out of work, fight traffic to get home. Get pissed off at the people cutting me off trying to get over at the last minute, because they didn't read the signs, because they were on the phone.
  • Walk in the door, yell at the dog, feed the dog, hug all three kids simultaneously, hug the wife, put my coat & other shit away.
  • Try not to fall asleep waiting for dinner; try to help make dinner, eat dinner, instruct children to not stand on their chairs and eat their dinner. Put away dirty/clean dishes, remind children to put their dishes away.
Usually at this point, is the time when we go out to get things done: grocery store, Target, etc. If there's no immediate need to go out, the kids and I default to the TV. This is usually how it goes:
  • Sneak Girl Scout cookie so kids don't see.
  • Relax on couch in front of boob-tube, or play video games with the kids; digest dinner & cookies. I think this is where I lose all ambition to get things done around the house.
  • Watch movie with kids
  • Tell kids to pick up their messes, get pajamas on, brush their teeth, wash their hands
  • Watch more TV with kids
  • Remind kids to get their pajamas on, wash their hands, brush their teeth
  • Turn off TV, listen to kids whine, remind them to get their pajamas on, wash their hands, brush their teeth
  • Clean up dog pee (I don't want to talk about it)
  • Help kids get their pajamas on, wash their hands, brush their teeth
  • Put kids to bed...whew!
  • Kiss kids goodnight, answer 20 questions, kiss them goodnight again.
  • Go sit on couch, watch last TV show or play last video game, or watch rated &gt;PG-13 movie.
  • go to bed.
Now, I know this is a shitty schedule. But it's reality. Notice there's no real bonding with the wife either (nor prayer, but that's a whole other post). Change is hard. I need to formulate an action plan. Check back later for said action plan. Oh, any ideas for said plan are also welcome. :)

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