Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lots of Posts This Month...


As I look back at the first month of 2009, I realize that I posted to the blog A TON!!! I hit 70 posts in the month of January...

That might not seem like a ton to some bloggers, but consider it this way:
--That's 2.258 posts on average everyday
--I only have a total of 206 posts on the blog
--That's 136 in the months of September, October, November, and December of 2008
--I had nearly as many posts in January as I did in November and December combined (71)
--34% of my total posts came in January of 2009
--In the 100 days that I posted before the month of January, I averaged 1.36 posts per day
--That average jumped to 1.57 posts per day after the month of January

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time blogging this past month. I'm not going to lie, though, it was a goal of mine to try and get two posts per day in. I didn't think I'd be able to get all the way to 70 in one month, however.

I enjoy blogging, though. It's a good way for me to get my thoughts down on "paper" if you will, and it's also a good way to keep track of things. I was able to figure out how long between Cooper's seizures easily by going back in the blog. I was also able to figure out how long it had been since I got a cold last.

Either way, I think it's been a good first month of the year for me as a blogger. I look forward to a few more good ones!!!!

Epic Air Hockey Game Tonight!!!

So I got a few new pucks for the air hockey table the other day. They are a bit larger and quite a bit heavier. They really make the game more interesting, as they slide better AND faster than the pucks that came with the game.

Well, we played five REALLY good games tonight. I ended up getting the best of her...just barely...with a 10-8 win in the fifth game. Before that, we were tied two games to two.

Overall, they were some really close games. I think that we both agree that the new pucks really enhance the game quite a bit. Not only do they move faster, slide better, and go into the goals more consistently...they also don't fly off of the table quite as often which is really nice.

All in all, for $50, the air hockey table was a really good investment. For less than the price of a video game, we've already gotten more use out of it than many of the video games that I've spent that much on!!!

Obama's Pick for the Super Bowl...


Obama's Super Bowl Pick

So Obama is going for the Steelers...which means only one thing...

The rich republican owners that have all the power in the NFL will make absolutely certain that the Cardinals win!!! Anything to get back at Obama for winning!!!!

**I don't mean this in any way to say that I don't like Obama. I do like the guy. A lot. I just now realize he has poor taste in football teams!!!

GO CARDS!!!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The New TV...

So I have been home from work sick...but a good thing happened today.

The new TV arrived via UPS. I got it all hooked up, and I like it...A LOT!!!! The screen is 6" larger diagonally...go figure, my 32" Sanyo was actually only a 31" screen. Don't really know how that occurs...but oh well, the Vizio is an actual 37".

The TV looks pretty sweet when it's off. It's got a nice fit and finish about it that looks really good. But when you turn it on, the 1080p screen really rocks!!!! It's got lots of nifty features, a TON of inputs, and so far has been everything that I could have hoped for.

I watched TV on it for a while today, and the HD stuff comes in about the same as before...maybe a bit better. My Sanyo was only 720p, so I'm sure that's where the difference is.

But I noticed a big difference when playing the Xbox 360. The game "Left 4 Dead" seemed almost broken when I first put it on the new TV. In areas where there wasn't much light, the black colors showed a bunch of specks of white over and over again. I messed with the TV settings and the Xbox settings for about 20 minutes before I remembered something..."Left 4 Dead" is presented like an old B zombie flick...and as such it has a setting for "film grain" built into the game. I went and adjusted this and realized that THIS is what I had been noticing in the dark areas!!! This was something that I had NEVER noticed on the old set...so I can only assume it's partly because of the new graphic fidelity of the 1080p.

The Sanyo has been replaced in the living room, but not in my heart. It was one of the first major purchases that I ever made. It hasn't been retired, just moved...to the bedroom. Cathy and I are in the process of remodeling the master bedroom in the house (which you know if you've been reading the blog) and the Sanyo will find a home in there. Which will be perfect. It's a large enough TV that you don't feel like you have to strain your eyes to see the screen, and it will look EXCELLENT in the bedroom when the room is done!!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sick of Being Sick...


So I've got ANOTHER nasty cold. This is the second one in only a few short weeks. This one is a bit different, as it seems to have taken up residence more in my sinuses than the other one was. But, either way, it's knocked me on my butt again.

This one started out with a sore throat...a sore throat that is still there. Then it pretty quickly moved into my head causing lots of stuffiness, sneezing, sniffles, and just general discomfort. I've taken some Mucinex, which does an okay job of clearing up my stuffiness, but also does an okay job of making it difficult for me to sleep. I've also taken some DayQuil, but that just doesn't seem to be working for me very well anymore.

These colds wouldn't be so bad if they were rare occurrences...but over the last couple of years, they have been becoming more and more normal. I guess it's probably a combination of things. One being that I work with the public...touching things that they touch all the time...one being that it's been a couple of pretty nasty winters...and then one being that I'm just not in very good shape anymore. I'm sure that my fitness level is causing my immune system to be a little bit weaker than it has been in the past.

I'm still planning on starting a workout plan...but we've got to get the stuff moved around in the house first so that we can set up the exercise bike. I hope that as soon as I can start working out a little bit, then maybe that will help me build my immune system back up so that I can stop getting these colds...or at least if I keep getting them, maybe they won't kick my butt so bad!!!!

"LOST-Jughead"

From now on, when I refer to a specific episode of "LOST" in this blog, I will appropriately title the entry with "LOST-episode name." This is the first such entry, the episode was titled "Jughead."

This episode focused primarily on Desmond, and what he has to do in order to get back to the island. In short, we are quickly seeing that ALL of the Oceanic Six are going to be in Los Angeles a the same time, which will surely be where they all realize that they have to go back to the island.

In this episode, we learned a few different things. One, Richard is much older than we initially were led to believe. Yes, we've seen him at the same age in the 70s as he is in 2005. Yes, we've seen him there when Locke was born. But now we've seen that he is clearly the leader of "The Others" in what is definitely the year 1954. We learn of a group of United States soldiers that The Others had to kill when they wouldn't leave the island peacefully. This leads us to believe that maybe Richard is MUCH older than we think...possibly going back hundreds of years, if not more, on this island. I've had a feeling for a few years now that we were going to learn that the island has a much deeper history than we have been shown. The presence of the slave trading ship The Black Rock, the 4 toed giant statue on the beach reminiscent of a statue of a Titan from Greek mythology, and various other things really make you believe that maybe the island has been trapping people for a long, LONG time.

We also learned that there was an atomic bomb that had been dropped on the island in 1954. The name of this bomb was "Jughead," and that is the title of the show. Daniel Faraday tricks Richard Alpert into believing that he is a scientist with the US Military and that he can disarm the bomb so that nobody gets hurt. Upon finding the bomb, Faraday realizes that it's leaking radiation, and it must be sealed with lead or concrete in order for them to stop the leak. He then suggests that they bury it, where one of The Others, a girl named "Ellie" asks why they should bury it...to which Daniel responds by telling her the truth...that he is from the future and the island is fine in the future so if they bury it nothing will go wrong.

Meanwhile, back in 2008, Desmond is reacting to the memory he had and trying to find Daniel's mother at Oxford. When he gets there, the University seems to have no information that a Daniel Faraday ever worked there. Desmond eventually talks with someone at the university that tells him he doesn't blame them for not acknowledging Daniel "after what he did to that girl."

We are left near the end of the episode with a rather interesting bit of knowledge...the type of knowledge that "LOST" so frequently drops on viewers just when they feel that they aren't getting any new answers or information. We find that The Other that Sawyer and Locke had held captive...this guy here...
...is someone that we all know and love very dearly in the "present" as far as the island is concerned. We see him usually as a bit older, however, maybe like this...
Yup, that's right. Tonight we got confirmation that Charles Widmore...the guy that wants to find the island and will seemingly do anything at all to do so...was once one of The Others on the island. He answered to Richard Alpert, and seemed to be about 18 years old or so. Maybe a bit less.

We are left at the end of the episode with Widmore giving Desmond the address of where Daniel Faraday's real mother is...and Penny telling Desmond that she'll go with him.

Interesting developments tonight, without a whole lot of new real questions...but of course not a whole lot of answers, either. The biggest tidbit is that of Charles Widmore and his past on the island. Which opens up another big question, why was Widmore sent off of the island, or why did he leave, and why does he want to get back there so desperately???

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No Painting Today...

So this morning I woke up and I felt like crap. I've got another really bad head cold...this is the second one in the last couple of months...and I really didn't feel at all like doing any painting.

I've taken some medicine and it's making me feel a little bit better, but I still feel like crap...just a slightly smaller pile of crap I guess.

I guess the trim painting will have to wait a few days until I feel better...

On a side note, my mom sent me an e-mail to check out Menard's for some wallpaper. She said they had a pretty decent selection the last time that she was there. So maybe next weekend (Tuesday or Wednesday for us) we will head to the local Menard's to check it out. I've never been the Menard's down here, but I've had good luck at the ones in Lansing in the past. So we'll just have to see what comes of it!!! The bottom line is this, they can't have a worse selection than Home Depot (none) and it would be difficult to have a worse selection than Lowe's (some options, none actually in stock).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Painting Update...

So I finished all of the walls today. Except for the one that needs to be wallpapered...but more on that in a moment.

The three walls have now been completed, two coats of paint and all. All in all it probably only took me about 2.5 hours to get the three walls painted with both coats. Not too bad.

Tomorrow I will be doing trim work...around the floors, around the doors, around the windows, and cutting in the ceiling to get it ready for paint. The windows will literally be ONLY having the trim done, as they are wooden windows and currently are a bit wet due to condensation forming on the inside of them. So I'll be leaving the windows themselves just white until it gets a bit warmer outside, and in turn the condensation won't be an issue anymore.

So hopefully after tomorrow, all that will be left to do for now is getting the wallpaper up and painting the ceiling. Speaking of the ceiling, Cathy and I found a ceiling fan that we really like at Meijer. We'll probably end up picking it up to replace the rickety one that's in the room now.

But...about that wallpaper. We might have a bit of a predicament on our hands. Lowe's is phasing wallpaper out, and Home Depot hasn't carried it for over two years. Seems nobody is using it anymore (which I figured might be a problem) so we've got slim pickin's at Lowe's. However, they did have one there that I actually thought wouldn't be too bad, so tomorrow we'll be going to Sherwin Williams to see if they carry any wallpaper. If they don't, then we'll have to head back to Lowe's and grab the last few rolls of the stuff that seemed pretty good. If Sherwin Williams has some stuff, though, I'm sure we'll be able to find something good there.

Exercise Bike Came In...

So the exercise bike arrived a week early. We can go pick it up anytime now.

I am having some trouble determining how big the box is, as it's not listed anywhere on Sears' website. So I don't know if it's going to be something that can fit into one of our cars, or if we're going to have to go borrow another vehicle to get it to the house.

I know we don't do it very often, but it seems like we have borrowed Cathy's dad's van an awful lot over the last several months. I really hope that the bike just fits into the car so that we don't have to go and borrow the van again.

Some Thoughts on Cooper...


So my mom pointed out something when I was talking to her briefly last night. She mentioned that she read the blog and noticed that I pointed out that Cooper generally only has his seizures when he's gotten pretty warm. She is a bit more knowledgeable about seizures than I am because she was dealing with it when my sister was young and I wouldn't have understood these types of things.

But she mentioned that there is a type of seizure that can be caused not necessarily by getting too hot, but by the body temperature changing too rapidly. From what I can tell, if the body gets too cold to quickly OR too hot too quickly, it can cause one of these types of seizures.

They are called "febrile seizures" and from what I can tell they aren't the same as a normal epileptic seizure. They aren't necessarily something that comes from the nervous system, and really there seems to be a general aura of mystery around them, as they come and go in some people and start later in life for others and go away later in life for others. I found a site that said that animals could suffer from these seizures just like people, so I'm now wondering if it's possible that this is what's happening to Cooper.

The information that I found about them says that the onset of them matches Cooper's seizures almost perfectly. They start with the body convulsing, last less than 15 minutes, and shortly after it's over the body goes back to normal completely and the animal or person seems once again 100% healthy. That's exactly what happens to Cooper. His body goes into convulsions and it lasts a few minutes, then after he comes out of it, other than being tired from flexing his muscles so much, he's a happy normal coon dog again, wanting treats and pets.


Here is a generalization of the symptoms of a febrile seizure in an infant:
"The seizure begins with the sudden sustained contraction of muscles on both sides of a child's body -- usually the muscles of the face, the trunk, the arms and the legs. Often a haunting, involuntary cry or moan emerges from the child, from the force of the muscle contraction. The contraction continues for seemingly endless seconds, or tens of seconds. The child will fall, if standing, and may pass urine. He may vomit. He may bite his tongue. The child will not be breathing, and may begin to turn blue. Finally, the sustained contraction is broken by repeated brief moments of relaxation -- the child's body begins to jerk rhythmically."




Replace the word "child" in all of this with "dog" and you have an exact description of what happens to Cooper.

There are a few things that lead me to believe that this might be in fact what is happening to him...the description fits, and the times that I remember it happening have all been when Cooper has a sudden change in body temperature by going from one condition to another. One time he had been in the back yard in 90 degree weather and sun for about 15 minutes...he had water, but I don't know if he was drinking it. Upon coming back into the house, which I had the air conditioning set at about 68, he had the seizure several minutes later. The second time I really remember it, he was in his crate in the basement where it's normally about 65 degrees or so. He came running upstairs and I had been cooking dinner on several burners on the stove and in the oven. I would have to venture a guess that it had to be about 82 or 83 degrees in the kitchen. He had the seizure a few moments after coming upstairs. This last time, he had once again been in his crate in the basement, but it's freezing outside and it's probably only about 58 or so in the basement. He came upstairs and immediately lay down in front of a heat register that was spewing out really hot air because we had gotten home from work and turned the heat up. He had the seizure a few minutes after laying in front of the heat.

The good news is, these seizures are "normal" and very rarely cause any real damage to the body or brain. The bad news is, there's no real way to treat it, and definitely no way to test for it. Like I've said several other times, I think my best course of action for right now is to just make sure that I keep an eye on him and note anything out of the ordinary that happens. But finding out about these febrile seizures has made me feel a little bit better about his condition...because maybe that's all that they are!!!

Here is a generalization of the symptoms of a febrile seizure in an infant:
"The seizure begins with the sudden sustained contraction of muscles on both sides of a child's body -- usually the muscles of the face, the trunk, the arms and the legs. Often a haunting, involuntary cry or moan emerges from the child, from the force of the muscle contraction. The contraction continues for seemingly endless seconds, or tens of seconds. The child will fall, if standing, and may pass urine. He may vomit. He may bite his tongue. The child will not be breathing, and may begin to turn blue. Finally, the sustained contraction is broken by repeated brief moments of relaxation -- the child's body begins to jerk rhythmically."


TV Has Shipped...


So the TV shipped yesterday. It's supposed to be here between the 29th of January and the 2nd of February. I'm guessing that it's something that I'm going to have to sign for, so I probably won't end up actually getting it until next week...but I'll see what I can do.

It's a Vizio 37" 1080p LCD flatscreen. It's a really nice TV, gets really good reviews, and was at a killer price.

Like I said, I had been thinking about getting a bigger TV for the TV room anyways, and now I'll move the 32" LCD Sanyo into the bedroom when we get it done. So basically I'll be getting a 5" larger TV in the living room, but a 12" larger screen in the bedroom. I figure with a TV like that in the bedroom then it won't be any kind of issue going into the bedroom to watch a movie or TV while Cathy is watching something on the TV in the living room...or vice versa.

I thought for a few moments that I was going to have to buy a new surround sound setup, too, but I fixed mine. Some settings on it had been changed, probably by me on accident, but I got them changed back and it's working as well as it was again.

I probably didn't really NEED a 37" TV...but Cathy and I watch quite a bit of TV and even more movies, so having a nice large TV is really something that will make our viewing pleasure that much better.

Plus, at this size, I don't think I'll want to upgrade to anything bigger...for another 3 or so years!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wow...Is This An Old Picture or What???


Mom, what do you think?? I think it might even be from before my time...

It's On It's Way...


Thirty seven inches....the price was great over at Dell.com...the reviews are good...the size is right...

New Plan of Attack for the Bedroom Repainting...

So the wallpaper that I was originally planning on leaving up because it matched the room pretty well will now be coming down. When I taped it off to paint, I realized that on the edges the wallpaper was already falling down. Not good. When I ripped that part down, I realized that it's going to be an absolute pain in the ass to peel all of it down.

So now I think my new plan of attack may involve going and finding a nice wallpaper to put up on that wall that will set the room off really well anyways, and just put the new wallpaper up over the old stuff.

I plan on finishing the painting in the room on Tuesday and Wednesday. After we get the painting in there all finished, then we can think about putting up the wallpaper. I would LIKE to be moved into the new bedroom by the end of February at the latest, and I think that can be easily achieved.

We also have a few people interested in some of the excess furniture that we have in the house, so it's possible we may get the rooms all cleaned out more quickly than I had originally intended...which would be nice.

Either way, the room is coming along nicely, and I think that Cathy and I will be able to pick out a really nice wallpaper that will work well with what we've got going on in the room.

Cooper Has Been Fine Today...

So Cooper seems to have recovered fully from his seizure. I guess it's possible that he may have killed off a few brain cells when it occurred, but I think he's got some brain cells that die everyday anyways just because he's an idiot dog.

I'm glad he's better, though. He's been cheery and active tonight, and seems to be his old self. I think he gets really scared when the seizures happen...which is understandable. With a person, like my sister, you can explain to her what happens and tell her what just happened to her when she came out of the seizure, but with the dog they obviously can't understand that. So I'm sure that it scares him really bad.

One thing that I've noticed is that the last few times this has happened have been when he seems to be very warm. I'm wondering if his body overheating is what's causing it to happen...which is a problem because he always thinks he's so cold and likes to lay in front of heating registers and under covers and such.

I'll be keeping my eye on him like always...and just hope that these don't become more regular.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Milestone for Me...


So I have set some certain goals for myself over the years. One of those goals for quite a long time has been to have a job that pays me at least $1,000 worth of take home pay every two weeks.

Well, my cost of living increase and my locality increase for 2009 hit the check that I got this week...and the pay came out to $1007. That's take home pay, without a little bit of differential because I used some leave time. So I think it's safe to say that my checks will all be about $1010 for 2009.

I know it's not a ton of money, but it's a goal I've had forever and I'm happy and proud that I finally reached this goal.

Foosball Table

So I had found a good deal on a foosball table to add to the gameroom when we get it all setup. It was a nice full size table that looked to be in perfect shape.

Full size foosball tables sell for over $350 or so. But this one was on Craig's List and it was only $35. I thought it would be a great deal, and it's still available, but Cathy doesn't like foosball...and you can't play it by yourself.

I don't have enough friends that are willing to venture down to my house for me to warrant buying it and waiting for chances to play with friends and such...so I guess someone else will get this awesome deal when they stumble across it!!!!

Re: Your Brains

So zombies are cool. I play "Left 4 Dead" on my 360 all the time. It's a zombie game.

Here's the best zombie song I've ever heard...

Cooper Had Another Seizure


So Cooper had another seizure tonight. It was a bit longer than the last one, but didn't seem quite so severe. He didn't tense up as badly as the last one, and even though it lasted longer, I think quite a bit of it was just him being absolutely terrified, because for a good portion of it he had control of his face and he was clearly looking at me when I talked to him.

This is the second one in about 4 months. I still don't think that's enough of them for them to be considered "regular occurrences." From what I understand, regular means when it's happening on a basis that you can remember the last time it happened clearly. Like last week. Or once every other week.

The biggest problem with him having these is that he's HAD blood work and tests done after he had one once before, and everything came back negative. He also had blood work done a few months back due to some issues he was having losing weight (it turned out I wasn't giving him enough food after switching to a new brand) and that blood work came back showing he was completely fine and healthy. I understand that MOST veterinarians are really reluctant to make the call that a dog has epilepsy because it's not something that they can really test for. They can run a billion other tests and rule out that all of those things aren't the cause of these issues, but even then many vets will still not want to say it's epilepsy. The main reasons for this are cost to the pet owner...the tests are really expensive and then determining that it is epilepsy means the dog will have to be on medications everyday for the rest of their life. The other issue is that since you can't really test FOR epilepsy, just because all those other tests come back negative doesn't mean that one of them was a bad test...example, if the test comes back negative but the dog actually DOES have that problem but it's just not showing when the test is taken, you could start a regimen of medicine for epilepsy that is completely unnecessary.

From everything that I've read about this online, it says that when a dog is having them every few months, it's best just to keep track of when they happen and what occurs right around them. This time I noticed that Cooper was being VERY cuddly...more so than usual, and he seemed to almost seem like he knew that something was wrong. This time he did a good job though, because he got off of the couch on his own when it started...I'm assuming he did this so that he wouldn't fall.

Of course, just like when my sister used to have seizures, after it was over he was immediately very tired. I haven't seen him look so tired in a LONG time. He's just been laying since it happened, but he's alert and happy. He had some cookies...which is actually kind of funny, because even in the middle of having the seizure, he's able to somehow eat a cookie. I gave it to him and he actually tossed it up in the air by accident when he flinched a little, and still managed to catch it.

I'm a bit worried now about him...but I did everything that I read tonight when it happened. I remained calm, I talked calmly and quietly, I supported him so that he didn't slam his head into anything, and we just waited it out. Like before he seemed to come out of it momentarily then go back into it again. I'm thinking now that this isn't him actually being "done" with one seizure and starting another, so much as it's just naturally what's occurring to him and how his body is dealing with it.

I've read that ALL dogs can be prone to seizures...but sometimes things happen that lower the tolerance level that they normally have. Age can cause it, some traumatic injury, a disease...many things can cause that threshold to be lowered. When I think back on it, Cooper has had "attacks" of sorts infrequently ever since we got him. He had one that I remember particularly at my old house because I thought he was just trying to not go into his crate. It wasn't until a few moments later that I realize he had something wrong with him.

For now though, all is well. He's sleeping on the bed tonight...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Here's the Air Hockey Table

So I got the air hockey table built, and I've posted about it a few times...but I had never been able to find a good picture of what it looks like to show my readers. I could take a digital picture of it, but I'm afraid it wouldn't turn out very well due to the lighting and such in the basement.

So today I was browsing Ebay and I found an ad for one that had a good "stock" photo of the table. It appears that the "sale" at Sears on it actually was a sale, as I have found numerous reports of people paying $250+tax for the table...but I got it for $49.98+tax...a pretty good deal.
Cathy and I have played about 5 games on it. We have been pretty evenly matched, with me holding a 3-2 edge over her in games, but all but one of the games has been decided by less than 3 goals. The one that wasn't was the first game where Cathy smoked me like 10-5.

It's a nice table, though. It's built well, the fan in it works really well, the scoring mechanism works flawlessly. The only problem stems from the pucks sometimes getting stuck in the "nets" and not registering the goals. This could easily be remedied if we had a pen or something to get the puck to go all the way into the goal, but of course we never have one laying around when it happens and always forget to put one with the table.

After the first night of playing I read that to make the pucks slide faster you normally apply furniture polish. I have been doing that regularly, as I like air hockey that is fast and furious. So far I think it's working, as I notice the puck moving faster and more freely now than it was on that first day.

I look forward to getting the "office" downstairs cleaned all up so that we can set the table up in there and have an actual game room...

Weather for Snowshoeing...

So the weather has finally cooperated a little bit for snowshoeing. Today it got warm enough out to actually start to slightly melt the snow. But then tonight it got cold enough again to freeze it all up again.

The result is a snow that is about an inch or so less than it was before, but that inch that it lost in depth has helped it become a more packed and wet snow.

From everything that I've discovered about snowshoeing, a wet packed snow is much better for traveling in than a dry powdery snow.

The outlook for the next few days calls for more and more sub-20 degree temperatures. What this means is that the snow won't stay "wet" per say, but it will stay packed...and probably even get more packed.

This means that this next week when I go out snowshoeing, I'll probably have a bit of an easier time with it because the snow will be "better" for the hiking in.

At least, that's the way I understand it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Life on Mars"

Just a quick note, "Life on Mars" returns next Wednesday. It's going to come on right after "LOST."

Pretty cool, really. My two favorite TV shows are on the same night right after each other. Basically, I'll have the TV tuned to ABC every Wednesday for the next few weeks!!!

LOST


So "LOST" came back last night, and in true fashion, left me completely baffled as to what's going on.

One thing that I know for sure: time travel IS possible on the island. That much I know. We were shown 3 different time periods at least in just the opening moments of the show. We were shown "the past" (like in the 70s) when Dr. Marvin Candle was recording a Dharma Initiative video for the time travel station on the island. We were shown "the present" on the island, where we see Sawyer, Juliet, Locke, and several other characters. Then we were shown "the future" off of the island, where we currently have Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Aaron, and Sun.

So in the opening moments we were shown past, present, and future...as far as the island itself is concerned. To those off of the island, we were shown present, recent past, and distant (relative) past.

Seeing as the show is concerned MOST with what happens ON the island and not OFF of the island, I think it's safe to say that we were shown past, present, and future all at the beginning of the show yesterday. At least, for purposes of the discussions that I will have on this blog about LOST, that is how we will view it.

A few things that were apparent in the first few minutes of the episode yesterday. Daniel Faraday (masterfully played by Jeremy Davies) isn't exactly what we think that he is. Faraday was clearly shown in the past on the island during the time of Dharma AND during the present where we know him now. That wouldn't seem so odd, except for the fact that he is relatively young in the present...and he was the same age in the past. This would lead us to believe that for everything that Faraday has claimed, he KNOWS that time travel exists...and not only does he KNOW that time travel exists, he has in fact done it...however, he might not know that he has done it, as Daniel seems to show some interesting signs of memory loss.

Daniel explains to us at one point in the episode that time is like a thread. You can go forward and backward on it, however, you can never make it go off in a different direction. This is basically his way of telling them that they can not change the past, or alter the future, by doing things differently when they travel to a different time. He mentions this when Sawyer suggests that they head to the beach to warn the others not to go out on the helicopter to the freighter. Daniel is adamant that they not do that, because it wouldn't do anything to alter the ultimate path of time.

This mirrors something that was said to Desmond earlier in the series in the episode "Flashes Before Your Eyes" (one of my favorite episodes, by the way). In that episode, Desmond was trying to buy a ring to propose to Penny when a strange woman at the jewelry store, apparently named Ms. Hawking, tells him that he can't buy the ring. She tells him that he won't marry Penny. She tells him that he'll break her heart and enter the race. She tells him he'll end up on the island pushing the button for years before finally turning the failsafe key. Of course, when Desmond is hearing this he doesn't know it, but we have all watched the show and KNOW that these things of course come true. Ms. Hawking explains to Desmond how she knows this thing by pointing out a rather strangely dressed man. A few minutes later a loud crash is heard, and Desmond notices that the man she pointed out has been killed. He asked her why she didn't do anything to save him, and she tells Desmond that if she had the man would have been hit by a taxi the next day, and if she warned him of that he would have broken his neck in the shower. She tells him that the universe has a way of "course correcting," in other words, a way of making things that are supposed to happen actually happen, regardless of what is done to alter or stop those things. This falls in line with what Daniel has said about time being a thread...the thread only goes one place, and there is no way to change that.

Oddly enough, in the future, we see Ben Linus talking to a very familiar character at the end of the episodes...wouldn't you know it, it is in fact Ms. Hawking. She ends the episode by telling Ben that he has 70 hours to get the Oceanic Six back onto the island. Ben asks what happens if he can't, and Ms. Hawking replies "Then God help us all."

Now, after putting this all down into the blog, I think I might have just hit on what the writers were very blatantly putting out there...that I of course missed the first time. The Oceanic Six were never supposed to leave the island. The thread of time doesn't have them leaving the island, and because they have, the universe is starting the process of course correcting to make sure that these Six end up back on the island. The phrase of "God help us all" could be referring to what will happen in the real world if the universe ends up course correcting to get these Six back onto the island.

Basically, the Oceanic Six need to go back to the island to make the island go back to normal in the space-time continuum. And if the island doesn't go back to normal on it's own, then the universe will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the thread of time stays intact...

The only thing that I can't really figure into this whole equation is WHAT exactly Ben Linus did at the end of Season 4 when he "moved" the island. It would appear that whatever HE did is what started these events...so why exactly the Oceanic Six returning would stop that is a bit of a mystery to me. Unless Ben only did that BECAUSE of the fact that he knew that they would be leaving. I guess that's just something that will be explained later on in the series...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Started Painting the Bedroom.

So I wasn't feeling well this morning. My stomach was turning all over the place. I just rested a while and felt a little better, so I figured I might as well tackle the starting of the painting in the master bedroom.

The paint went down pretty well. There are a few spots that I'm going to need to touch up a little bit, but nothing that a single brush and 10 minutes won't take care of.

I ended up getting a Wagner Paintmate. It's like a roller that has the paint in the handle and when you pull the trigger it squirts the paint into the roller, so you don't have to use paint trays and you don't have to bend over to get the roller covered in paint. As an added bonus, the thing didn't drip any paint anywhere, so it's really easy and clean to use.

On the downside, however, I found that the wallpaper that we were originally going to just leave up covering one of the walls in the room unfortunately will need to come down. As I was taping it off to make sure I didn't get any paint onto it I noticed that it wasn't even held up in many places. So that wallpaper will have to come down. No big deal, really, but it's going to be a bit more work than I had originally planned.

The trim is also going to be a bit of a pain to get painted. For whatever reason the color I got for the trim doesn't seem to want to stick to the trim at all. Probably because I'm painting over some glossy off-white type color, I would guess. I may try to sand it just a hair to see if that helps the paint to stick to it better.

But either way, the project is probably about 40% done in just one afternoon. Not bad. As soon as I get that room done, we can work on getting our stuff moved into there. Then I'll tackle that bathroom that's attached to that room. Shouldn't be too much trouble, especially since we're using the same color paint as the bedroom.

Got My Xaphoon...


So my xaphoon came in the mail. It's actually pretty cool.

I can make it make sounds pretty easily, but it is a bit different than what I remember from my old alto saxophone days. For one, the mouthpiece needs to be quite a bit further into the mouth than the old sax did. It's also a bit larger, so it's taking a bit of getting used to in that aspect. Also, I've lost the ability to hold a not because the muscles in my cheeks and such aren't at all what they used to be. I have trouble getting the instrument to go from the higher notes to the lower notes. Not anything that I don't think I'll be able to get the hang of with a few practice sessions.

The finger chart is also VERY different. Different enough to the point where it doesn't seem to make any sense to me. There are notes that require completely different fingerings than what I would think would be normal. That's something that I can work around, as well. I just need to get "alto saxophone" out of my mind...for instance, I'm so used to scales with the saxophone going from mid G to a higher G, where as the xaphoon goes from a low C to a mid C. That's completely different than anything that I've ever known in music. So I just need to get past those things...basically, I need to realize that this thing is NOT an alto saxophone.

The last thing that might be a bit of an issue is the fact that my fingers seem almost too large for the instruments holes. Of course, it might just be they don't move the way that they used to...and I also need to get used to the different way of holding the instrument. I think, once again, it's something that I can get used to pretty quickly, just need to take some time to practice it a bit.

All in all, the thing is pretty cool. For $50 shipped, I can't really complain. It's a fun instrument to play, and I look forward to trying to learn to make it flow really well. I need to order myself a jazz background mix so that I can have something to play along with. A couple of other things of note, the thing is made of a really tough plastic, so it can be used to just bang on things. The manual actually suggests using it as a drum stick when you need some percussion. It also suggests using the reed protector as a tool for using the whole thing like a washboard instrument. The thing basically suggests just using the xaphoon however you deem necessary, because the instrument is so new that there aren't really any "accepted" ways to use it!!!

I think that I may try to get one of the nice bamboo xaphoons for Christmas next year. I like the plastic one, but the bamboo one has an element of "cool" that the plastic one could never have.

Went Snowshoeing...


So I actually went out and did the snowshoeing today. It was still quite a bit colder than I would have liked...23 degrees with a windchill of down around 8 or so. But I got bundled up and headed to the Cascades Park to get some trekking done. I was on the golf course, and there was evidence that others had been there before me...obviously, some tracks and trails. I figured that it would be okay to go out on the golf course, because there is a sign right at the entrance that says "Please Do Not Ski on Tees or Greens." I took that to mean that it was okay to ski anywhere else...and snowshoeing I figured would fit into that category as well. To my surprise, there were actually a few snowshoe tracks right near the ski tracks when I started. If you look closely, you can see them in this picture.
I started out following along the snowshoe tracks that were already there. Everything that I have read says to follow where those have been before you, so I figured I'd take that advice. The few times I did go offtrail, I realized how much more difficult it is to break trail yourself. The snow was well over 12 inches deep out there, and the snowshoes were only sinking in about 6 inches or so. Not bad. I tested my weight on just my hands at one point, and went all the way to the ground. So the float of the snowshoes was keeping me at least 6 inches higher than I would have been in regular boots. The snowshoes were working well, even though the snow was still really powdery and isn't the best for supporting weight. I've contemplated returning my 30 inch shoes and getting some 36 inch shoes because they may be a bit better for my weight...but I'm trying to lose weight, so hopefully by next winter I'll be more in need of the 30 inch shoes. So I'm not going to exchange them. Everything I've read says to go with the smallest shoes that will actually support you, and the 30 inche shoes support me pretty well. I'm sure they'll work even better once the snow actually packs down a bit more.

I walked approximately 1100 paces back onto the course. I crossed over a pond...on a bridge of course, I wasn't crazy enough to go out on the ice...and made my way along the trail at a fairly decent pace. I was taking steps that were about 24 inches long, give or take, so I figure that my 1100 paces would work out to about 2200 feet...or just under half a mile. I got to a point that I thought would be a good point to turn around. Of course, I'm trying to get in better shape, so I wasn't out there to try and walk 5 miles away from the car. I made the mistake of not having breakfast before I left, and I also didn't have any fluids with me, so by that point I kind of felt a cramp coming along. I decided to take a break at the spot that I was turning around at. I just lay down in the snow for about 5 minutes...then I got up and started my way back. Those 1100 paces back were actually easier than the paces into the course...probably because I was now travelling on a trail that had been traversed by someone before me and myself. So basically the trail was a bit more well travelled now. The going was relatively easy, and I actually got pretty warm. I decided not to take my gear off at all though, because I figured if I did the sweat might end up freezing, which wouldn't have been good.

Here's a picture of the course from about halfway through my trek.
One thing that was nice about the spot that I decided to turn around at was that it was pretty clearly noticeable. I believe it was a tee area for a hole...well, the walk up to the tee, at least. So the next time that I go out there, I'll easily be able to go to the same spot, and hopefully go further. It will be a good way for me to try to go a little bit further every time that I go. I will probably try to go again next week on Wednesday or Tuesday, seeing as there's no chance really that the snow will be melted by then. So I'll obviously get to see if eating breakfast and taking some water with me can make any difference in my ability to endure a little bit longer trek. Hopefully by then I'll also have my new facemask, as my nose did still get very cold today. I also may want to think about getting some poles to use. I noticed the tracks from the people before me had poles with them, and I think that the poles might help a little bit with keeping my balance...not that I fell a lot or anything, but I sometimes felt wobbly, especially when the snow would be different consistencies.

All in all though, it was pretty cool. A nice workout, some nice scenery, very peaceful, and fun. I look forward to going again, and maybe even finding some other places to explore with this newfound winter pastime.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Found a Place to Snowshoe!!!

So today Cathy and I went to Knight's for dinner. On the way there, we passed the Cascades Park here in town. I noticed that the golf course had quite a few ski trails on it, and figured that it would be the perfect place to take the snowshoes to get a really good feel for them!!!

I will probably try to get there tomorrow to give them a try for a little while. It's supposed to get up to 26 today, which will be the warmest by about 10 degrees that it's been in days. So that should help the snow get a little bit more "packed" which will make the shoes work the best they can.

I still don't have my new facemask yet, so going out in the subzero temperatures is still a real adventure...but tomorrow should be perfect!!!

Got Some Stuff Done...

So I got two of my goals accomplished today. I got the paint and the supplies, and I built the air hockey table. The paint and supplies were pretty expensive...but I guess that's okay seeing as we didn't have ANYTHING to use to paint with...no brushes, no trays, no rollers. So I had to buy everything brand new.

The air hockey table went together pretty quickly and easily. It's actually quite a bit larger once it was in the house and set up than when it was inside the giant Sears store. Cathy and I played it for a little while, and it seems to work really well. I cleaned the table with furniture polish per the instructions after we played, and the puck slid on it much better at that point in time. It's a really nice table, and I think once we get the furniture all situated in the two rooms in the basement, it will be an awesome addition to the "game room" that we are kind of trying to make.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Xaphoon...


So the fact that I've been getting into musical instruments a little bit lately has gotten me a bit bummed out that I sold my saxophone a couple of years ago. I started looking at trying to replace it but I couldn't really find any good deals.

However, while looking around I found a new instrument. One that plays two octaves like many other instruments, but that is basically brand new in the grand scheme of hundred year old horns and flutes and such. It's called a "xaphoon." It's pronounced with a "z" sound.

It's basically a cross between a clarinet, a recorder, and a saxophone. It's about the size of a clarinet, has fingerings similar to a recorder, but uses a reed and mouthpiece similar to a tenor saxophone. It's sound is a very jazzy sax sound...and it's supposedly easy to play if you have experience with the saxophone.

They were invented back in the 70s by a guy in Hawai'i. He has hand made about 15,000 of them...but the hand made ones are a bit more expensive. I bought one that's made out of injection molded plastic. The good news is, the guy that invented them says you can't tell the difference between a plastic and a bamboo one. The bad news is the plastic one doesn't look nearly as cool as the bamboo one. But that's okay, I figure if I end up liking it I can always think about getting a nice bamboo one sometime in the future.

I may keep my eyes open for a great deal on a saxophone still, but I think for now I'll be pretty content learning how to play this new xaphoon, and still learning the ukulele.

A Follower!!!!

My blog finally has it's first follower!!!!

I was a bit surprised, but I got an e-mail on my phone today that said I had a comment on my blog. I knew Cathy hadn't left one, and the only couple of other comments I've really gotten recently were spam ones. To my surprise, it was a really nice comment about just some random things on my random thoughts blog!!!

Doug is the follower. I am assuming that he found the blog by searching for people with similar interests as himself...because when I go to his blog I notice that he enjoys fantasy football (like I do) and that he seems to have at least some interest in dogs (which I also do). His blog is brand new. Only a few days old, but I like the setup of it. I also like the name...it puts together a few things about him with just a few words.

Check out Doug's blog here:
http://fumbledreturns.blogspot.com/

Building Air Hockey...Buying Paint...Snowshoeing...

So this weekend I don't really have an awful lot that I HAVE to do...but I've got a few things planned that I WANT to do.

Tomorrow I think I'm going to build the air hockey table. We still haven't really figured out a great place to put it, but I want to make sure that it works before we've had it for too long to return it or something. It was only $50, so if it doesn't work, I don't know, it might not even be worth returning...seeing as it doesn't even come close to fitting in either of our vehicles so we have to borrow a van from Cathy's dad to drive things this large around. But yah, I'll probably get it built tomorrow.

I also plan on heading to Meijer to get the paint so that we can slap some on the wall in the bedroom just to make sure the color we chose will match the carpeting in that room. I'll probably also put up some tape to get some paint in the corner so that we can make sure it matches that one wall that has the wallpaper. I would hate to get the entire room painted then realize that the paint didn't match the wallpaper that we want to leave up, and then have to rip the wallpaper all down and then paint that wall all by itself at a different time. I'll just be using Dutch Boy paint, but I've had really good luck with that before.

Also, on these two days off, I plan on finally getting the snowshoes out to a real area to use them a bit more than just the backyard. Yah, the back yard is pretty large, but I really want to give the shoes a shot in a larger area...probably just an open field, but I'd LOVE to find some trails or something that I could try to go use them on. With that said, I don't know how long I'll use them, because it's STILL only in the 10 degree and under temperatures here in Michigan. It's been really cold for what seems like about a month...I could use a couple of days with it up in the 30s or so. Enough to melt the snow a tad just to pack it down.

Other than that, nothing really at all on the agenda for the weekend. Other than sleep!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Big Sale on TVs at Dell.

So Dell is having a pretty huge sale on TVs. Free shipping and the discounts on some of them make the savings well over $500 for some of them.

We currently have a 32" LCD flatscreen. It's a very nice TV, but sometimes I wish it were a bit bigger.

Some of the 37" TVs over at Dell's site are coming in at prices that are about $400 less than I paid for the 32" TV just a few years ago. The model I like the best is probably the Sharp one, but there's a Vizio (Samsung made) that's pretty nice, too, for even less than the Sharp.

We probably don't really need a new TV at all...but it's nice to look at them!!!!

Ordered a Ski Mask


So today I ordered a new neoprene ski mask to wear while I'm out with the snowshoes. My face cover scarf thing that I have was doing a pretty good job, but when I'd wear the goggles the scarf would cause my breath to fog up the goggles. So I read a bit on it, and the neoprene ski masks are supposed to cause that not to happen.

It was only about $10, so I guess even if it doesn't work, it's not like I wasted a ton of money on it or anything.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Income Taxes Almost All Set.


So I entered all of the information for taxes the other day. The only thing that we're really waiting on is Cathy's interest form from her savings and her thing from her student loans. Then we'll go ahead and get the return filed.

With just my information, I was getting about $800 worth of money back. Adding Cathy we end up getting only like $1150 or something like that. She wasn't sure why she wasn't getting much taken out for taxes, so when she checked tonight she had her withholding set up incorrectly so they weren't taking much out of her for taxes every month. I guess it worked out in the end because she still got some money back but ended up getting more in every pay check. But it really put a dent into what I was hoping we'd be getting for a return.

The state will be sending us about $300 or so. So basically we'll be getting nearly $1500 back. We'll throw it into the savings with the rest of the money from our reception. We plan on putting a fence in the backyard with some of the money, and then the rest we will use to take a trip to Houston in July for Cathy's cousin's wedding.

Left 4 Dead...


So a friend of mine FINALLY got "Left 4 Dead" for his Xbox 360.

I'd been wanting one of my friends to get the game for a long time. Although I enjoy playing it online with random people, and with the few friends I have from sportbikes.net, I really like playing co-op games better when it's with someone that I know and see on a regular basis.

Tony got it just the other day and got Xbox LIVE! hooked up for the first time, too. So tonight him and I ran through a couple of the campaigns. It was fun. He didn't talk much, probably because his fiance and daughter were sleeping...but he seemed to have fun too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More Snow...

So we got even more snow tonight...probably another good 4 inches or so. So I'd say we're now up to about 14 or 15 inches of it outside.

It's still pretty cold, too. I decided not to go out with the snowshoes even though it was fresh snow. I read last night that the snowshoes work even better when it's SLIGHTLY warmer outside and the snow is a bit more "packable." The shoes support your weight much better then.

I'm hoping that it gets up into the 20s tomorrow like it's supposed to...then when I get home maybe I'll get the shoes out again because hopefully the little bit warmer temperature causes the snow to melt a bit and then freeze back together. I'm interested to see how different the snowshoes are when the snow is not just powder.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Back from Snowshoeing...

So when I got home I strapped the Tubbs on and went for a short walk. I was only able to stay outside for about 20 minutes before I started to feel a bit too cold. I got to the end of the street and back and walked my track in the backyard a few times.

It was -8 degrees outside...with a windchill showing of -20.

It's Cold...but I'm Going to Snowshoe Tonight...


So when I checked the weather just now, it was -2 degrees at home with a windchill of -17.


Cathy needs to run to the store to get some cat food for Presto tonight, so while she is gone I think that I will go out and walk around in the snowshoes a little bit. I was out the other night when the temperatures were similar and it wasn't too bad...so with the snowpants and the boots and the gloves and hats and such, I think I'll be alright.


I will probably again just walk around the yard for a while...I don't want to go too far away with it being this cold outside...but it's fun and it's good exercise, so I think it's worth it even if it is ridiculously cold!!!

Cathy Started Playing Piano...


So Cathy got some sheet music for the piano the other day while we were at Marshall Music. She got like 4 or 5 different pieces.


While I was playing some video games the other night she went out and started playing them. She said she wasn't very good anymore...but she sounded pretty good to me!!! I told her that maybe she just needed to practice a little bit and it would come back to her.


She mentioned that the piano seems really out of tune, though. Especially a few of the notes. So we'll be looking to see how much it's going to cost to get it tuned up sometime in the next few months.

Waiting Patiently for the Exercise Bike...

So I really want the exercise bike to get here. We've still got nearly 3 weeks before we can go and pick it up, though.

For some reason, the last few weeks, I have just felt really unhealthy. I don't know if it's because I'm tired all the time, or because I feel like I've gained a few pounds, or what. But I just feel overall very "blah" the last couple of weeks.

I am hoping that when the exercise bike gets here, I'll be able to get at least a little bit more active and try to fight that "blah" feeling by making myself feel better overall. That, and I'm really interested in losing a little bit of weight.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bissell Pet Har Eraser...


So today I did some vacuuming. I put down some deodorizing powder to try and make the house smell a little bit fresher. As I was trying to vacuum it up, the old canister vac that we had just didn't seem to be doing a very good job. Yah, it was picking the stuff up, but you had to go back and forth over the carpet over and over again to get everything.

So when we were at Meijer getting some necessities, we decided to check the vacuum cleaners out. Cathy had one in mind...a Bissell model called the "Pet Hair Eraser." It's got good reviews and was in her Health Magazine as the best vacuum on the market for picking up pet hair. She said that it goes on sale quite a bit at Sears...but while were at Meijer they actually had it...AND it was on sale for 15% off!!!!

So we bought it and brought it home. Just to try it out, I decided to vacuum the TV room just to see if it would pick up anything else...and let me just say, that "picking up anything else" was an understatement. In the TV room almost alone I was able to fill the dirt bucket on the vacuum. It was really kind of disgusting to see how much stuff had been getting missed by the old vacuums.

The vacuum has some nifty attachments on it as well. It's got one that's got a rubber pad type thing on it that bends around things, and it actually has an attachment that is powered by the suction of the vacuum that allows you to vacuum furniture and such.

Overall, it seems like a really awesome vacuum. Also, since it's not a canister vac, we'll probably be more willing to get it out and use it!!!!

Snowshoeing...


So today I ran up to the local sporting goods stores. I realized that I needed some better shoes or boots for using the snowshoes. Although I could use them effectively with my tennis shoes or my outdoor boots on, neither were optimal, in my opinion. The tennis shoes allowed snow to get into my shoe, which caused my foot to be really cold...obviously. The boots didn't really allow me to move my foot as freely as I would have liked to.

So I ran to Dunham's and while I was there I found some pretty nice hiking boots on half off clearance. I got them for $25 instead of $50. Now granted, even $50 isn't a lot of money for a set of hiking boots so they probably aren't the greatest quality, but they are comfortable and they fit me really well. So for now they will do. While at Dunham's I got the ugliest Detroit Lions hat I've ever seen. It was only $7, so not too much money, and it's actually so ugly that I like it!!!

After Dunham's I hit up MC Sports to see if they had anything else of interest. While I was there I noticed that they had their snowpants on sale. I ended up getting a pair of snowpants for $25. I figured that was a pretty good deal for something that I will use while snowshoeing and while clearing the snow off the driveway.

Later on in the evening. I went out and walked around in the yard with the snowshoes on. They worked out really well!!!! I was able to break trail in the yard really easily, and after the trail was broken I was able to easily walk along the snow with no issues whatsoever. The snow is probably nearly 12 inches deep. The snowshoes sank into the snow a bit, but I found that there was still at least 5 inches or so of snow on the ground even in the spots that I had completely broken.

Just to test to see if they were actually doing something or not, I took them off and tried to walk the same trail that I had just made in my regular hiking boots. Let's just say that the snowshoes make a HUGE difference when walking in snow. With just the boots on I really sank into the snow more than with the snowshoes. On top of that, with the regular boots on I really slipped around a lot. I guess it's something that most people are probably used to, but you don't know how ineffective walking in the snow is with regular boots until you've walked in the snow with some good snowshoes.

Another thing about walking in them...it's an awesome workout. I did it for probably about 30 minutes and I could really feel it. I think that doing this in the winter is going to be really fun and a good way to try and get in better shape!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snowshoes!!!

So today I ran to MC Sports on my way to pick up the air hockey table (which I wasn't able to fit into the Honda...but that'll be another post tomorrow) to check out if they had any snowshoes.

I was in luck. They had some that were on clearance. About $30 off of their normal price. They were a size that is considered "acceptable" for my weight so I figured I'd give them a try.

They are made by a company named Tubbs, and from what I read after I bought them they are a very highly regarded model for "casual and beginning" snowshoe enthusiasts. When I got them home I tried them on and walked around the house. They worked pretty well, allowing me to sink about 3 or 4 inches into the otherwise foot deep snow. They will take a bit of getting used to for me to be able to walk in them really well, but they seemed like they would be pretty fun. Even though it's supposed to be ridiculously cold out tomorrow, I may run up to the baseball field near the house and try walking around on them for a few minutes.

These are the shows that I got right here.

Legally Blonde the Musical


So our showing of Legally Blonde was tonight. We went to Lansing early to get our shopping done and have dinner. We really overestimated how much time we'd need, as we had some extra time to kill so we hung out at PetCo for a little while looking at the pets and the pet supplies.

We got to the Wharton Center quite a bit early regardless, so we sat around for a while. The show started at 7:30...we got to our seats at about 7:15. We had pretty good seats...orchestra right about 14 rows or so back, pretty close to the center.

The show was REALLY good. I had a really good time watching it. It might sound odd, but I really enjoy the movie "Legally Blonde," and the musical really did it justice. There were enough differences to make it feel fresh and new, but at the same time it held pretty tightly to the feel and form of the original movie.

It got done at 10:00, and I must say that it was a really awesome 2.5 hours. The music was good, the acting was good, the dancing was good.

A few things really stood out to me. The role of Elle was played really well. I liked the girl's portrayal of the character, and though not quite Reese Witherspoon, a very good replacement for the actual acting parts. I also really liked the character of Paulette Bonafonté. The actress did an excellent job of playing this character...to me she was the essence of what the movie made Paulette out to be. The actor that played the UPS guy was superb as well. Although he didn't have a ton of lines or even a lot of stage time, the time that he did have on stage he really controlled the stage. The last thing that really stood out to me was the dance routine with the jump ropes. Simply amazing.

All in all, it was a really, really, really good show. I'd have gladly paid the $65 or so for tickets...so the fact that it was free just makes it that much better.

If you like musicals and you get a chance, this one is probably worth checking out!!!

Holy $h!t it's COLD!!!!

It's currently -7 degrees outside...with a windchill of -19.

It's not supposed to get higher than 28 for the next 10 days, and most of those days have temperatures in the teens for highs and in the 0-9 range for lows.

Today's high is supposed to be like 8. That's a bit ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's a Small World, After All...


So I have been a very active member of the message board www.sportbikes.net for years now. The server on that message board crashed in 2004, and I had been a member well before that. I want to say that I started posting there probably back in early 2002 at the latest...so I have been a member for about 7 years now. I post a lot...especially in the sports forums.

So there is a guy that has also been a member there for as long as I can remember. His screen name is bassjones. He posts a lot in many of the forums, and he is also pretty active in the sports forum.

There was a thread today about Tony Dungy retiring from the Indianapolis Colts...and this guy bassjones mentioned that he remembers watching Dungy play high school football. Well, Tony Dungy played high school football in Jackson, Michigan...so I posted something about not knowing that bassjones was from Jackson. He responded saying that he lived on Lansing Avenue while he was growing up...which is a rather large street, but a street that is about 500 yards from my house. He then mentioned something about a church that his father was a minister at...and that church is the church that is 500 yards from my house.

As it turns out, this guy lived in a house while he was growing up that I could see from my house if there weren't trees in the way. He lived less than a quarter of a mile or so from where I am currently staying.

Pretty amazing how small the world can be sometimes!!!!

Getting the House Cleaned Up...


So one day last week I didn't go to work. I stayed home and while at home I ended up cleaning up the office in the basement quite a bit. I got all of the trash out of there and got a lot of the items stored away in the closet and such. I made it so that you can easily see the floor in that room, which is saying something, because for the last 18 months or so it seems you haven't been able to see the floor in that room at all...let alone the other furniture and such in that room. The goal was to have that room cleaned up enough that we could move other random stuff into it while we cleaned up the big bedroom in the house. Eventually, we will set up the air hockey table and put the arcade machine in that room, along with a TV and maybe the stereo. It will be like a small game and entertainment room for us.

Then on the days off last week, I tackled getting the basement even more organized. I bought another DVD shelf and got all of the DVDs onto the two large shelves...except the workout DVDs which are on their own shelf. I then used one of the empty shelves to put all of the LEGO sets on. I also moved the hope chest that was down there into our bedroom. Sometime soon we will be working on getting the table and chairs out of that basement and somehwere else, then the dog crates will be moved and we'll have plenty of room for the exercise bike when it gets here.

Well, the other day Cathy wasn't feeling very well so she didn't go to work. When I got home from work, I was pretty amazed. She had ran to the store and ended up picking up some new window coverings. She had put those up in the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room. They look infinitely better than the ones that were in there...but even more impressive than that was that she actually cleaned up the big bedroom. I had figured the big bedroom was going to be an almost impossible project, but she had gotten it cleaned almost entirely. The only things left in there are two boxes of things that are mine and a bed full of stuffed animals. The animals will probably be bagged up and donated to a charity locally. They are all animals that we won in the Grab a Claw game at work. The big bedroom is now clean enough that I feel that it can be painted...and once it's painted, we can start moving our stuff into there and actually have the Master Bedroom in the house be our room!!!! Then we can work on decorating the guest bedroom, and figuring out what we want to do with Cathy's old bedroom.

The house has really gotten clean in the last few weeks, and it's nice because it feels like we are finally starting to do some things to make it "ours." I think that maybe on Wednesday we'll go and pick out some paint for that big bedroom, so that maybe next week we can get that taken care of!!!!

Started the Uke DVD...

So I started watching the uke DVD tonight.

I forgot how hard it is to learn to play an instrument. I guess I had convinced myself that I would be able to pick this thing up and be playing simple melodies and songs almost right away. That's not the case at all. It's not frustrating to me, but I'm beginning to wonder if my fingers actually bend the way that they need to in order to play the thing.

The DVD seems pretty good. Ralph Shaw is the guy who does it, and he seems to be a pretty good teacher. He's been really stressing going slowly and doing a few minutes of practice almost everyday. He's a good player from what I can tell and he also is a comedian, so he has a good on screen presence. The DVD is a bit short, so I'm sure I'll be watching it a few times before I start to get the hang of it. Ralph plays all types of ukes...the picture is of him with a banjo-ukulele.
With that said, I'm going to try and make this thing work out for me. In retrospect, I may have been better off trying to purchase a guitar...because at least with the guitar I could've gotten some private lessons...but I don't know if anyone around would do any lessons for the uke. But I think I'll be able to do it...I just need to practice it quite a bit...and I need to get a pick, because for whatever reason my fingers just don't seem to want to pluck the strings the way they seem like they should.

I'll get those other few accessories Tuesday at Marshall Music, and then I should be good to go to start learning!!!!

Tuesday is Gonna be a Full Day...

So lots of stuff going on Tuesday for us...even though it's a day off, it might end up being a fairly long day.

We have quite a bit of stuff that we want to try and do. The air hockey table arrived at Sears on Monday, so we need to try and go pick it up. I guess if we don't get around to getting it on Tuesday, that's not that big of a deal...we should be able to go get it on Wednesday.

However, we are going to be heading for Lansing at about 2pm or so. We wanted to go to Marshall Music in Lansing so that Cathy can look for some sheet music for the piano. I also want to look for some accessories for the ukulele. I need a pick and I would like to try and find a metronome. I never had any issues keeping time with the sax, but for some reason I get all off beat with the stringed instrument.

After we go to Marshall Music, we will be heading to Red Lobster which is right next door, luckily. We got a gift card to Red Lobster for Christmas, so we'll be using that to help pay for our meal.

After Red Lobster, we'll be heading to Wharton Center to watch "Legally Blonde." It starts at 7:30 and is a 2 hour and fifteen minute show. So we won't be out of Wharton until about 10pm or so. Then we'll have to drive home.

I also would like to possibly try and get to Dunham's and MC Sports tomorrow before we head to Lansing if it's at all possible. I've been thinking more and more about the skiing and snowshoeing, and if I can find some cheap snowshoes I may go ahead and pick them up to give them a try. Since I've lived down here we've gotten quite a bit of snow, so maybe the snowshoes would end up being a worthwhile endeavor anyways. Who knows though, they probably won't have any that will support my weight!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Skiing...

So Cathy and I may try to go downhill skiing with a friend and his fiancee from work. We would probably be just heading over to Mount Brighton. They can make their own snow, and the cost doesn't seem to be too outrageous. So basically, as long as it's relatively cold out, we shouldn't have any issues going skiing.

They had a deal that I found on their website the other day where you got an hour of instruction, the rental equipment, and the lift tickets for a relatively low price.

I thought it would be a fun thing for us to try because it seems like we're both getting sick of being cooped up in the house all the time during the winter. I found an article on the web about if you don't seem to like the snow and cold, the best thing to do is to find something that you enjoy that takes place in the snow...like skiing.

I had originally thought about some snowshoes, but the snow just doesn't seem reliable enough to purchase those. The downhill skiing would be a bit more logical because they can make the snow even when there isn't a lot of it on the ground.

So, I figure we'll go give it a shot sometime in the next couple of weeks...and if we like it, then maybe at the end of the winter we can try getting our own equipment when it all goes on sale at the sporting goods stores.

Ready for the Weekend...

Once again, it's been a pretty long week at work. The schedule changed a bit so we're now done at 7pm everyday...which means that instead of 40 minutes to sit around and do nothing, we have over 2 hours to sit around and do nothing.

It's really making the days seem even longer than they were before...so, long story short, I'm really ready for days off...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Air Hockey...

So I forgot to mention this the other day...

When Cathy and I were out looking for the exercise bike, I noticed a really nice air hockey table at Sears. It was a six foot table, so it's two feet shorter than a standard arcade table, but it looked really nice and had some features that I hadn't seen on other smaller tables.

I checked out the price...$250. But then I noticed that it was on sale...for $49.

They didn't have any in stock, but I went ahead and bought one anyways. The salesman said that it should be in this coming Tuesday, so we're going to have to go pick it up then.

I've been working on getting the house cleaned up a bit, and I think that we have a couple of places now that we can put it. We'll just have to decide where we want it to go, exactly.

More Snow...

So it snowed even more today. I got the snowblower out and tackled it before we went to work...there was about 4 inches. When we got home from work, there was another 4 inches or so.

I would imagine we got at least 7 inches of snow today...and that is on top of the 5 or so that we had before this.

I had read this fall that this was supposed to be a relatively mild winter...but so far it seems like every week or so there's been a foot of snow falling. It's starting to get really annoying.

I hate this state.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Uke Tuning...

So I got my ukulele stuff in the mail today. The DVD, the tuner, and the humidifier.

I hooked the tuner up right away, and quickly came to the conclusion that my uke was so out of tune that it was actually playing notes that weren't even correct. Like when I first plucked the string for "C," it thought it was an "E." Now THAT'S out of tune.

I spent a good 40 minutes or so getting it all tuned up, and WOW!!! What a difference in sound tone it makes. The thing actually sounds like an instrument now, even though I have no idea what I'm doing still!!!

The tuner is really cool...it's digital with a gauge and it clips to the end of the uke. When the note is tuned correctly, it glows a bright green to easily show you that the note is in tune!!!

I will start watching the DVD tomorrow...it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun.

Here's the tuner that I got.

No More Snow...

So it's supposed to snow six more inches tonight and tomorrow. We've already got about 5 or 6 on the ground right now.

I have an idea that will make it so that it never snows in Michigan ever again...

...I'm going to buy a snowmobile. It'll just be a cheap one...like $20 for some hunk of junk that doesn't even run. But I can guarantee you that as soon as I own a snowmobile, snow will cease to exist entirely in the state of Michigan. Why?? Because that's just how it would end up working out...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Income Taxes...

It's almost income tax time. I don't know if I'll be getting much of a refund this year. This last year I adjusted my deductions to get a bit more cash on every paycheck to help me pay things off better. It SEEMS that it shouldn't have too much of an effect on what I'll be getting back, but I doubt I'll be getting back as much as I have in the past.

One good thing, though, is that for some reason the morons that are in charge of pay at work haven't figured out how to NOT take city income taxes out of our paychecks. So, even though I haven't lived in the city or worked in the city for the last year, I've still had city taxes taken out all year long. So the City of Lansing has $382 of my money that wasn't owed to them at all. Now, for some people this was a bit of an issue last year getting this money back...the City wanted some kind of letter from work stating that none of the hours worked were actually earned in the City Limits, and of course work didn't know if this was something that they could actually provide or not. In the end everyone ended up getting what was owed to them, but it was a bit more of a hassle than was necessary.

I am hoping that W2s will be issued pretty soon so that we can get the process of filing the taxes started. I'm interested to see what kind of a refund I'm going to get...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Home from Work Early...

So Cathy and I came home from work early tonight. I wanted to be able to watch the FedEx BCS National Championship Game between Florida and Oklahoma.

We got out of work at 7pm to be able to make it home in time to watch the start of the game. Cathy doesn't care about the game, so she's working out while I watch the game. We were thinking about going to see it at NCG Cinema because they were showing it in 3ality 3D...but it was $20 per ticket, and that seemed a bit expensive.

Either way, Go Sooners!!!!!!

Cathy and the Exercise Bike...Part II...

So Cathy and I went to Sears to check out the exercise bikes on Wednesday evening. They had a few different models in stock. Cathy fell in love with an eliptical machine, but it cost $1,000. After a bit of deliberating, she decided that she did in fact like the exercise bike. She ended up going with a model that was different than she originally wanted. The reason for this was because for purchases over a certain dollar amount she could get 0% interest for 12 months on a Sears Card, so she did that. It's a Nordic Track, and the guy at Sears said he had the older model and really liked it. He wasn't pushy at all about the product, he said nice things about all of their models, but just happened to have the one that we were looking at the most. It's a recumbent bike so it's got a nice comfy seat on it and it uses magnets to set it's resistance and such. It's got programs built into it so that it can automatically adjust it's resistance while you're riding it to simulate different types of things. It looks VERY similar to this one...but I think this is last year's model. The one we got has a nicer seat on it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Started Learning the Ukulele Tonight...


So tonight while I was watching the GMAC Bowl on ESPN2, I grabbed the uke and the beginners book and started reading. I learned about how to hold the uke, how to strum it, and what all the parts are called. I also learned how to determine which fingers to use when playing chords.

After reading it for a while and just messing with the uke, I learned my first two chords. I got pretty good at playing them, but man is it ever tough to get my fingers to move the way that they need to in order to get on the strings. I had a lot of fun doing it though, and I look forward to getting my DVD so that I can really start learning. Learning by reading is one thing, but it's kind of hard to keep the book held open with one hand while trying to strum and hold chords. Basically, I don't have 3 hands so I can't do it. The DVD will allow me to follow along without having to use my hands to mess with a book.

I also ordered a few accessories for the uke that should be here when the DVD gets here. I ordered a tuner to make sure it's in tune...even after years of playing the saxaphone I still was never able to actually tune the instrument for some reason. I guess I just didn't have the ear for it. I could tell when it was WAY out of tune...but I could never get it that last little bit. The tuner will help make sure the instrument is always in tune, because it just clips onto the end of the uke and constantly measures the tune. I also ordered a humidifier to make sure that the wood stays perfect. Both things were highly recommended by several places that I checked, so I figured that they would be good things to get.

Legally Blonde the Musical

I really don't know how I forgot to post about this yesterday. On the way to work we usually listen to 97.5 FM on the radio. At about 12:05pm everyday the DJ lady, Lori, has a trivia question. Cathy and I have won several times from the trivia. We've won a couple of movie tickets, a cake from Bakin' Cakes, and some other random stuff.

But the other day we won a really cool prize. We won tickets to go see "Legally Blonde the Musical." I really like the movie, so I don't know how good the musical will be compared to the movie, but it's a really cool to be able to go see it for free. Tickets for the event in the area that we are sitting cost $63 each...so basically we got nearly $130 worth of even tickets for free. That's pretty good just for answering a question on the radio!!! It's on opening night, too, which is pretty cool.

I'll be sure to post again after we go see it to say how it was!!