serendipitous reflections

Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

Have a Happy and Safe New Year! Let's pledge to make next year a little better than the last.

Jeni's next purchase

Jeni has found the next stool she wants to buy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Frustrated with Windows

I put off downloading the Windows XP Service Pack 2 for a while because I just didn't want to deal with it, but last week I had a little time and decided with certain security threats showing up maybe I should go ahead and update. Well, I have a Sony CD-RW drive that now no longer burns. Windows and Windows Media Player do not recognize it as an RW. I went to the Windows website for and update and to look for the most current driver, but I am current according to Windows. Sony said to seek support from Microsoft (like anyone every gets personalized support for Microsoft without paying out the ass...) so, please, any suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


I'm not sure which is more ironic ... we had been waiting to mail the gifts to Doug and Cathy's children because one gift we ordered Tommy had not come yet. So we decided enough is enough and mail the package. On the way back, I check the mail and the ordered gift is there. The other item ... our Christmas card we mailed to our uncle who works for the post office was returned.

Monday, December 27, 2004


I saw a bit on the Today Show about Googlewhacking -- googling two words that result in only one hit. The best I did was "spongeworthy grapefruit" which gave me four hits ... (five now that I posted it here). I guess that's the trouble, once you find one and post about it, it's gone.

Christmas tree adventure

In preparation for going out of town this last weekend, we decided to move the Christmas tree into the closet so that the kittens would not get in it and knock it over. They had already broken one ornament so we wanted to protect the others. Since we were getting ready to get on the road, we decided just to pick up the artificial tree and carry it. OK, maybe not the best plan in the world... I forgot the tree skirt, so as I lifted the tree, the cord stuck on the tree skirt, the tree came apart in the middle, another ornament fell off and clunked off a Santa figure and broke, making more of a mess. After that (and a little grumbling on my part), we did manage to get the tree in the closet and put back together. Of course, I kind of forgot the tree was in the closet when we came home last night, opened the closet door to put some clean clothes away, and was confronted by Christmas. Now the tree is about to come back out in preparation for the parents' visit.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Trunk Monkey

Does your vehicle have a trunk monkey? I'm considering one when we get our next car. (Be sure to watch the videos.)

Good Christmas

Jeni and I had a wonderful Christmas. We went to visit Jeni's family in Jackson, MS, and her step-brother's family flew in from Idaho so we had quite the gaggle of people there. All the kids really appreciated their gifts and so did we. It's just nice to be around family during this time of year. We've done Christmas with just us, and it's not quite the same.

We still have a few gifts to mail out, and Kelly's gift is going home with Mom and Dad when they come for their visit on Tuesday (if they can get out of Cincinnati, and if Kelly's flight can get out to California). Otherwise, I guess we'll just drop it in the mail.

Merry Christmas to all ... and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Precipice Hills

Jeni and I went over to our friend's Lisa and Brian's house last night to exchange Christmas gifts and help Lisa wrap presents. I followed Lisa and Jeni out, and Lisa took us a back way to their house. They live out in the country and there were times that, even though I knew I was following the right van, I started to second guess myself and wonder how funny it would be if I was following someone else.

Our new route took us through a neighborhood called Precipice Hills. Afterward, I was commenting on the neighborhood, but stumbled as I tried to say Precipice. Lisa piped up and informed me that they call it "Pur-sippy" Hills. Somewhere, some builder is shaking his head thinking, "It was a pretty name..."

Friday, December 17, 2004

Drug risk

Pfizer found that Celebrex causes an increase in the risk of heart attacks and stroke. But don't worry, they don't plan on taking their top-seller off the market. (Markup for Celebrex: Consumer price $130.27, Cost of general active ingredients $0.60, Percent markup 21,712%. Although I trust the source, I wish they referenced where they got their numbers...)

Cooking shows

Jeni has recently started watching a few new cooking shows. She's become a big fan of Rachael Ray and on the Food Network website, you can get recipes and save them in a recipe box online. They even offer an option to print them note card sized. Rachael Ray has a few shows. Jeni mainly watches 30 Minute Meals, but hasn't really gotten into $40 a Day. Paula Deen is the other chef she enjoys watching.

Binary clock for your desktop

I downloaded this free binary clock for my computer desktop at work. It is a small, simple, and apparently benign program that translates your time into a binary clock form. It comes with a small and large version. It's a fun little diversion.

A little help

I posted about an issue I'm having with Java and Mozilla, but no one commented. Please help me out by testing this and seeing if this is something unique to me, or if this is an issue that others are experiencing also. Thank you for your help...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Prefab home

I heard about this house on Marketplace. This may be the future of prefab homes. The site includes a nice 3D tour.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ad disclaimers

I love those little disclaimers at the bottom of TV commercials, like the one where the Jeep Liberty gets blown out of the volcano, and thankfully the little message at the bottom reminds me "Do not attempt." Or the one with the lady running in the black and white world fighting cholesterol, and the doctor comes out of the office and they tell us "Doctor simulation." But the one that gets me is the Arby's commercial, with the wraps that are low in Carby's and they tell us "Carby's is Arby's term for carbohydrates." Whew! I was struggling with that one.

Bumper sticker

I saw this bumper sticker the other day...

"Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math."

Monday, December 13, 2004

Stumped by Java

I'm not a technological dummy, but I'm no whiz either. Earlier in a post (see comments), I had mentioned that I ended up uninstalling Mozilla Firefox because when I downloaded the Java Runtime Environment 2 from Sun Microsystems, I lost sound on a few Java driven online games that my wife likes to play. My plan was to try to find a solution, then reinstall Firefox.

I have Firefox and Internet Explorer at work and have encountered the same problem. This makes me think that it goes beyond just my computer. So for the sake of my sanity, could someone else with both Firefox and Explorer try Wild Wild Words on Gamesville. You should hear sound every time a letter tile drops. With both installed, I do not.

I went to Sun for help, and they directed me to a test page (the same one Mozilla does) and I do see the dancing Duke.

I also encountered this sound problem on a game on Popcap, but I can't recall which game it was. I'm just not sure if I created some conflict somewhere. I tried deselecting one of the browsers from the Java control panel, but that didn't make any difference. The conspiracy theorist in my head blames Microsoft, but then again, I like to blame Microsoft for more than even they deserve ... it's too fun.

Any constructive feedback would be helpful. This isn't the biggest issue in the world, it's just the one that's nagging me right now.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The best tea

I brewed a pitcher of iced tea the other day. I didn't realize how low we were on tea bags. It turns out we only had two left. So I made the tea with just the two bags, and put in a little extra lemon. It was the best tea we had had in a long time. So tonight I want more tea, but haven't made it to the store. So I re-used the two tea bags, again with a whole lemon, and you know what ... even better! What's up with that?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Recycled goodies

Keep the Midlands Beautiful is a group that encourages recycling. Their store features bags made from recycled juice boxes. They were at Earth Fare and also had some really cool wine bottles that they had drilled a one-inch hole in the back and fed a string of Christmas lights into it. It looked really cool on the counter in a group of three or four. (Drink the wine before drilling the hole, but not immediately before.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Winter in the South

When we were moving from Iowa to South Carolina, the one question I kept getting was "Aren't you going to miss the snow?" It's December 7 and I'm wearing shorts. No, I don't miss the snow.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Bottles from Iraq

These three came from Iraq. Again, Chris sent them to us during his military campaign this year. From left, Mirinda (like Fanta), Pepsi (the lid reads "Peps") and 7up. Posted by Hello

The Fiji collection

The Coke bottle here is from Fiji. It has the South Pacific Games logo on it, which was going on in the capitol of Suva when Jeni and I were there in June/July 2003. We also brought back some Fiji Bitter and Fiji Gold beer. I prefer the Fiji Gold. The beer was primarily in bottles like Red Stripe, but to bring some back, customs wanted us to bring cans. Posted by Hello

Small Coke bottle collection

The bottle on the left is a Coke bottle from Afghanistan. Our friend Chris was over there after September 11 and sent the Coke bottle and the Fanta Orange (far right). The funny thing is that the Coke bottle has a Pepsi lid. Funnier yet, someone actually asked me if I was going to drink the Coke from Afghanistan. The second bottle is a Coke bottle Rick brought us from Brazil. The third Coke bottle is the one that started me on this little collection. I brought this back from Nepal when I was there in June/July 2001. Posted by Hello

Blog recommended

Our friend recommended a blog to me. I read the first few entried and chuckled, so I figured I'd pass it along.

Online games

I'm a big old school video game fan. Games.com seems to have pretty accurate recreations of some old classics, including Asteroids and Centipede. I wish the screen was bigger and it's been a while since I've had to do keyboard controls, but overall they are fun.


Last winter we were in Iowa with snow. This winter, we are in South Carolina and today's low is Davenport's high. Not too bad. But for snow, this will have to do. (fun activity)

Flash design

I found this neat website that has done some nice stuff with Flash design. There are some fun distractions on it.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Word Whopper

Jeni's latest compulsion.

Sorry Everybody

I stumbled across a blog on Blog Explosion that had posted their photo from Sorry Everybody, and then Doug mentioned it again and brought it back to mind. It is a very funny website (well, funny for liberals ... I started to say Democrats, but then I thought of Zell "What the hell?" Miller). Doug also linked to Europe's response site, and to be fair, the not-so-funny angry Right.

One of the girls I work with is a USC senior and she was telling me about a condition called Post Election Syndrome. Her instructor addressed it like it was a serious, diagnosed and medicated condition. While I may have been able to related to the feeling of non-inclusion following my failed attempt to be heard following the election, I'm hoping it was a joke. With November passed, I have grown numb to the W'04 stickers for the most part, but I still grow a little angry when I pass the billboard congratulating the Republican Senator who said homosexuals and unmarried mothers should not be teaching our children. To his credit, his assinine comment made the Daily Show, with Jon Stewart commenting: "Well, there goes the school play."

Now I'm trying not to be angry, but the Republicans sure are sore winners and make it difficult to smile and move on.

Childhood entertainment

As I get older, I am now realizing the tricks our parents played on us. I remember being about six years old and my brother and I were sent outside with a box, a stick, a string and some peanuts and were told how to rig a squirrel trap. Then we were set out to catch a squirrel. We tied the string to the stick, propped the box up on the stick, laid out the peanuts and waited. I have no idea how long we patiently waited (and it had to patient waiting because otherwise you'd scare off the squirrel), but sure enough, a squirrel found the peanuts. But I didn't catch him because his tail was sticking out and I was afraid I would hurt his tail. My dad later explained to me that he would have pulled his tail in.

But what a brilliant plan on our parents' part ... sit quietly outside and wait with this string in your hand. Quiet sitting, on a leash, for a long time, outside. Brilliant!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Be careful what you type for...

You have to be careful what you type for, because you just might get it.

I was talking to an older lady the other day, probably in her late 50s, early 60s. We were talking about the internet and the fact that we have a website for work now. I gave her the address and she relayed a funny story. There is a "Memphis-sytle" barbecue restaurant in the region here called Sticky Fingers. (Memphis-style in quotes because having lived in Memphis, I know Memphis-style, and they aren't Memphis-style.) So the lady explains that she tried to go to their web site and typed the .com version of the web address, not the .net, then she gave an awkwark chuckle and a roll of her eyes to yada-yada-yada the end of the story for me. I found it very funny and we enjoyed a laugh together.

Ready Made

We stumbled across Ready Made magazine tonight while wandering around Earth Fare, our healthy supermarket. It's a really cool magazine full of projects. The web site offers highlights from the magazine. It's enough to give you an idea and to get you started.

One thing done (sort of)

Since I had a half day today, I was actually home when the sun was still up and could look under the Maxima and figure out what was rattling. Considering there's not a lot under there except the exhaust system, it was more of "where" was rattling. So I went to the storage closet and got my 18 gauge wire and needle-nose pliers, summoned my inner-redneck and slithered halfway under the car. I managed to shore up the exhaust pipe from where the support brackets had rusted and rattled apart and will keep my fingers crossed that it will hold up while we continue to hunt for a dependable car we can afford.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Sending a message

I heard this report on the radio (Ukraine tv report interview) about a sign language interpreter in the Ukraine who spoke out as she interpreted the news about the election. It is an amazing story about one woman's courage to speak up when a country is in disarray.

Worst pills

I just found this consumer advocacy web site: worstpills.org. Interesting and nice to have someone looking out for your best interest.