Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm Leavin' on a Jet (and prop) Plane

This is the company and type of plane I will be flying from Detroit Metro Airport to Chippewa Country International Airport ("the only commercial service airport in the Eastern Upper Peninsula"). I will be flying a "real" plane from DFW to Detroit. I am going to visit my best friend and roommate from college, Craig, in May. My final destination is the thriving metropolis of Pickford, MI. Craig tells me there are approx. 700 people in Pickford, but from what I can find on the Internet (and there is precious little), it looks like there may be closer to 1,800 people! There is some talk of "townships" and the like, so the actual town may have just 700 people...guess I'll find out.

When I bought my ticket at Hotwire.com today, it said the temperature was 8 degrees with a wind chill of -4. That's why I'm not going until May. I tried to find out what one does for excitement in Pickford. Craig pointed out it is only 20 miles or so from the Canadian border, but now you have to have a passport to get into Canada, so guess we won't be visiting there, eh? I also checked Geocaching.com. The town has ONE geocache.

So, in May, I'm leavin' on a jet (and prop) plane and I'm excited to see my friend again. As long as there's junk food, a ping pong table and a chance to hang out together, we'll have a blast!

An Incomplete Breakfast

Well, this is two Saturdays in a row that I have cooked an incomplete breakfast. Last week it was the pancakes, this week it's the gravy.

Last week I cooked the bacon in a pan and then cooked has browns in the grease. On our new griddle, I cooked eggs and tried to cook pancakes. The pancakes didn't turn out. Brooke said it was because the batter was too old. I guess that's what it was, I mean, how do you ruin pancakes made from a mix?

Today, we had no fresh pancake mix, so I determined to fix biscuits and gravy with our eggs and bacon. Near as I can tell, I used too much grease. I mean, when the gravy was done, it looked a little bit like melted brains...it was lumpy and oh so very greasy! As you can tell from the picture, I am not exactly a "health nut", but there was so much grease in that gravy even I was afraid to eat it! I dumped the gravy and we substituted butter and jelly. It was pretty good, but I still want to learn how to make gravy. If you can help me out on how much grease, milk and flour to use, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Want a Divorce

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

We' ll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N.. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep The National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute Imagine, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.

We'll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you ANWAR which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

Sincerely,

John J. Wall
Law Student and an American

P.S. Also, please take Barbara Streisand & Jane Fonda, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Barney Frank

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It Just Keeps Getting Better

This office "painting" project just keeps getting better. I'll see one little thing and think, "I'll do that while I'm here", in my mind, allowing 10 minutes for the job. Today's "10 minute job" turned into two plus hours!

I have wall plugs in my office that are so loose, when I plug something into them, the cord literally falls out. An electrician replaced one of them and I decided to do the other two. (First stupid thought.)

At lunch time today, I decided to replace the one plug that I looked at last night. Nobody else was home and my office was light enough to see with the lights off, so I flipped the breaker off and took the plug apart. I was expecting to see two white wires and two black wires. I as I pulled the plug out, I saw two white wires on one side and two black wires on the other. It's all good.

I loosened the four screws and...DOH! The plug came out and I noticed two wires had been shoved into the back of the plugs, thus making six wires instead of four. I was not able to shove the two wires into the back of my new plug, so 30 minutes later it was time to get back to work and I still was not done. I put wire plugs and electrical tape on the wires to make it "safe", flipped the breaker back on so everybody would have power when they came home, and I left.

When I came home from work, the kitchen light over the stove was on, but the one over the table was not. Amanda was doing homework in the living room. I knew something was not right. It seems the wires that were shoved into the back of that plug I took out were "hot" and the wires going out of the plug passed along that power to most of my office, the kitchen light over the table and all the electricity in Amanda's room. Now I had to get the plug fixed!

A brief call to an electrician friend helped me get the plug back in the wall, all wired correctly. Then I shut off ALL brain function and made the decision to change out the combination switch/plug in my bathroom while I had the electricty turned off. Rather than tell the story in real time (which would take an hour and a half, no exaggeration), let me give you the highlights:
  • There were no brown switch/plug combinations at the hardware store so I got a white one knowing it would not look as good, but it would be ok. DUH! Look at the picture above. I forgot there was another brown switch on the same wall. Talk about looking stupid!!
  • I took the switch/plug out of the wall and made a careful mental note how it was wired. It was not possible to wire the new one the same way.
  • Wired the switch/plug and turned the breaker on. It IMMEDIATELY flipped back off. "Something must not be right".
  • Rewired the switch/plug and turned the breaker on. The plug worked great. Turned the switch on to turn on the light and CLICK...threw the breaker again.
  • Called electrician friend...not home. Left message.
  • Short time later, Dad calls (had left message for him earlier).
  • In just one hour and ten minutes he walked me through wiring the switch/plug over the phone. I had to get another piece of wire and connect two screws on opposite sides of the switch/plug thingy. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING intuitive about that. Who would know to do that?
So another "painting" night has been shot doing a ten minute job. It just keeps getting better. I could laugh, cry or cuss. Thought I'd blog about it so I could do the former...thanks for reading!

Monday, February 16, 2009

12 of 12 - February 2009

7:23am - I wrote Valentine Countdown Poems for Amanda. I got started a little late, so she got to open a couple of them this morning.


9:41am - One of the many exciting jobs I do! I am hosing off the sidewalk where mud collected after our last heavy rain.


11:58am - I couldn't fix anything this time...had to call Konica Minolta to come replace their worn out part. (They diagnosed the problem, not me).


12:01pm - Stacking chairs in preparation for a reception on Friday night.


12:35pm - Break time! It was a nice day and Brooke was up for it, so we took a short break at lunch and went for a motorcycle ride.


12:48pm - Only in Texas! Just outside the city limits we saw these Texas Long Horns while on our motorcycle ride.


2:22pm - Another one of my everyday jobs...changing light bulbs.


5:42pm - Painting trim in the garage...still working on my home office.


6:03pm - One of our favorite evening activities...Daddy/Daughter wrestling!


6:04pm - Brooke wrestling with Boo while Punkin and I wrestled.


7:25pm - Sully was the first to get a haircut tonight.


9:25pm - Putting the finishing touches on Boo's haircut.

As My Daddy Always Said...

..."If I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all!" And that IS how it goes every home improvement project I start, and my office painting is no exception.

One night in January, I got this wild hare idea to repaint the office. That first night, I had one whole wall painted with Kilz. That was the only thing that has has gone according to plan since I started. There was also the issue of the trim...it was that coated Styrofoam-type stuff that broke easily. I can't replace broken pieces because the trim was bought 20 years ago and at Payless Cashways and it is not made any more. That means I get to buy and paint more trim. And then there was the whole ceiling thing that held me up a week.

But now it's the bookshelf. I have a white book shelf that is not the fanciest, but it looked OK...until I put a fresh coat of white paint on the walls. Now my "white" bookshelf looks yellow! I knew better than to try and paint it with a brush since the paint would be way too thick (based on how the trim is looking that I'm painting with a brush). So I had the brilliant idea to spray paint the bookshelf...white bookshelf with black doors. Nobody told me that there is some kind of secret skill needed for spray painting. I don't know, perhaps every other guy on the planet is born with this skill, but if that's the case, I missed that line when it was being handed out. I took just the four shelves out and started with those. When I was "done", I could tell the paint had not dried evenly. No biggie...it takes a while for paint to dry. I figured out something was wrong when, two days later, the paint still had not "dried evenly". No matter how many coats of paint I spray, it never looks finished. It still looks like parts of it are wet and other parts need more paint. This leaves me with one other option...disassemble the bookshelf and roll each piece then reassemble it. There's at least another week added to my project (at the speed at which I work).

Since the bookshelf thing wasn't working out, I painted some trim tonight. I think the paint is about half an inch thick on that stuff, but because it's glossy black it still looks good (lucky me). After I had painted all the trim I had room for on my trim-painting shelf (which is now painted black, just like my trim), I decided I would change out the electrical sockets that need to be replaced (you plug something into it them the cord just falls out). I am no electrician (I know that comes as a SHOCK to many of my readers), but I know you gotta turn off the power to the plug before you go messing with it. What I did not know was that the breaker which turns off the sockets in my office also turns off all the lights AND THE TV in the living room. One little switch eliminated the lights AND eliminated the happy wife (who was watching TV).

So in an hour's time tonight, I have unsuccessfully sprayed four book shelves, painted four pieces of trim and NOT changed out the sockets in my office. I suppose I'll begin disassembling the book shelf so I can roll it tomorrow night.

What's not to love about home improvement projects?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

My Moral Support

Since I have begun my "Three Month Office Remodeling Project" (aka "painting my home office"), I have had all of my family members come in and offer words of encouragement. But I have had just one faithful companion who offers moral support just by being there every time...Boo. The same day I brushed up against the freshly painted door frame and got paint on my comfy red t-shirt (which I did not notice until the paint had dried), Boo tried to make me feel better by brushing up against it too and getting white paint on her little black ear. Wasn't that sweet of her!

PC Guy, YES. Vista Fan, NO!

When I first began hearing the negative reports about Vista, I chalked most of up to "Mac Smack"... you know, the guys who run the expensive machines. I am a PC guy plain and simple. I will admit that I have not spent much time at all on a Mac, but that's because the software I need to run is Windows software. I understand Windows can be run on a Mac, but there is the cost factor as well. Enough about that debate, I use a PC and I'm happy. I'd like to give Linux a spin (thinking Ubuntu), but I can't figure out how to add hardware!

Anyway, I began hearing people complain about how terrible Vista was, but most of the people I heard complaining were people who were mostly "users"...not even "power users", let alone what I would consider real "computer people". Most of them were complaining just because they had to learn a new operating system and things were not the same. That's called a "new" operating system, not a "bad" operating system. My wife got a new Vista laptop a year ago. I set it up and had no problems with it. I ended up turning off User Account Control because I got tired of having to give myself permission three times to do everything, but that was my only real annoyance.

But this year, particularly in the last month, I've had a bit more experience truly "working" with Vista, and I DON'T LIKE IT! One of our office computers started having odd, bad error messages. I knew it was time to get a new computer before this one died. (Jump to end of the story..the computer died the same day I had the new one ready to go). Since I'm the "computer guy" at our church (unless it's the media guy's Mac, of course), I began pricing new systems. Pastor said go with a system that will carry us into the future, so that meant 4 gigs of RAM, and 4 gigs of RAM meant the 64-bit version of Vista.

I had read about incompatibility issues with 64-bit systems, but I did not understand them. I did some Googling and it seemed all of what I read was over a year old and one article I read said 64-bit systems would be backwards compatible. So, with an incomplete understanding, I purchased the 64-bit system.

This post will never end if I continue at this pace, so let me give you an overview of my "Vista issues" with this new machine:
  • "Backwards compatible" did NOT apply to the two most expensive programs on our computer (Membership Plus and Quick Books Pro). Add $400 (would have been $550 had I not been a good online shopper!)
  • User Account Control would not allow Membership Plus to run properly. After much Googling, I figured this out, turned it off and the program began to work properly.
  • Had to call in tech support for the copier so it could be installed as a printer. Short version... it took the guy so long he did not charge us. Vista has been out two years and he had never installed a copier onto a Vista system (yes, it's that popular!). Sharing what I had learned after two hours of trying to install the copier myself and learning some of the Vista quirks, the copier tech and I got the thing installed. He came back the next day to set up scanning. His 8 page manual for setting the copier up as a scanner for Windows XP had become a 24 page manual for Vista (no joke).
  • Just this week, our secretary said nothing was happening when she tried to open Windows Media Player. I thought perhaps it was going to be a simple fix (like "click this icon and not that one"). Wrong. More Googling. Get this... WINDOWS Media Player 11 has severe issues and just quits working in WINDOWS Vista. Microsoft knows about this problem, yet there is no fix!!! Say what? No wonder Mac gets away with their "I'm a Mac" commercials. My "fix" was to install WinAmp.
And then, our sound room computer started acting up (after MAJOR power surges last week). I checked our main software on that computer (Easy Worship) and found that the newest version was Vista compatible, 32-bit or 64-bit. But, the little control program that turns on our projector from the computer is Vista 32-bit compatible only, so that's what I set out to buy. Everything I read, and the "computer people" I know all strongly suggested an Intel processor for Vista. I tell ya what, finding a 32-bit, Intel processor system was a bit challenging. Finally bought a Lenovo and brought it to the sound room.

We have always run two video cards in our sound room computer; one for the monitor and one for the projector. I checked and the video card we had in the old computer had Vista drivers, so I downloaded those and tried to install the video card. As soon as I plugged in this second card and fired up the comptuer, Vista disabled my on-board video card. An hour later (after much Googling), I discovered Vista will not allow two differnt video cards (ie two different architectural structrues) to run on the same system! Add $60 for a new, dual output video card.

Next, I installed Easy Worship, only to have quirky problems. They have excellent tech support, so I gave them a call and found out they are not Vista fans, either. After downloading and installing the Vista debug file, Easy Worship was working.

And now THIS computer needed to have the copier hooked up to it. After spending a couple hours with the copier tech guy, I was confident I could install the copier on this computer myself. Short version, I did, but it took longer than expected. All in all, it took a complete day-and-a-half to install the computer and get it ready for church today. I am not Microsoft Certificed or anything like that, but I have had plenty of experience getting new computers up and running and doing so while learning a new OS. Am I still a PC guy? YES. Am I a Vista fan? NO!!!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

She's Growing Up TOO FAST

My friend Craig called me today while he was on the road. "Have you heard that song, Cinderella, by Steven Curtis Chapman?" he asked.

"Yes", I replied.

"Have you really listed to it? Do you get it?"

"Yes, I know. It's a Daddy/daughter song, " I said.

"Well, I've heard it three or four times before, but I never really listened," Craig said. "I get it now. I listened...and just started bawling."

Craig has two daughters, one in high school and one a year or two behind Amanda. I know why he was crying...I've listened to the words of the song. So we talked about being daddies and then we talked about marrying our daughters. We're both pastors and we've both talked to our daughters about letting us perform the wedding ceremony. Neither one of us have figured out how we're going to do it without crying.

I don't know why, but even after talking about the song making a daddy cry, I listened to it again (3 times) on the way to the airport to pick up some friends tonight. I didn't cry...until the second time through the song. Oh...my little girl is just growing up too fast! I'm trying to dance each and every dance because I know too soon the clock will strike midnight...I already feel the evening is gone and Amanda is just 10 years old. I'm so proud of my little girl, but I just wish she could stay little for a little longer!

So all of this song listening and crying made me think about the memories we are making. Like Sunday when we went for a motorcycle ride. We like to ride slow, out in the country and see how many animals we can see. On Sunday, we saw a really cool goat with a funny "beard" and long, pointy horns. We saw a "dwarf pony" (Amanda's description), another really fuzzy pony, cows, horses, burros, a BIG dog that looked friendly until he started chasing the motorcycle and a Brahma bull. Those were the "normal" animals. We also saw two hawks sitting in a tree, a road runner not 10 feet from us on the side of the road, at least 4 farms with llamas and one that two camels!

Although we were supposedly out for a motorcycle ride (Daddy's agenda), we can never be out too long without having to find a park where we can play (Amanda's agenda). We were riding in Lillian and found an elementary school where we stopped and "borrowed" their playground for a while. After that we came home and then joined Mommy at a friend's house for a Super Bowl party. When I tucked her into bed that night and we prayed, we had a lot of fun things to give thanks for.

My little girls is growing up too fast. I'm just trying to treasure every moment I have.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Justification Sermon Illustration.



Sermon audio will be available here.

My Thought On the Bailout(s) Program

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)