Another Church

Since Mel and I moved to Cedar Rapids, we have been trying to find a church. Well, we didn't really start looking until this past spring. Anyway, we thought that we had found a church that we wanted to join. We went there for several weeks and then met with someone about becoming a member. The church that we had selected was going to require us to attend a ten-week course before we would be eligible to become members. That didn't seem too reasonable to us, so we decided to keep looking. We went to a church in Marion this morning. It's kind of small. It's at least smaller than any of the churches that I have belonged to in the past, but it was nice. The people seemed nice and the service was nice as well. I'm sure we'll attend services there a couple more times before we make a decision, but I think this may be the church for us.


Goodbye FoxTrot

Bill Amend, the writer of one of my favorite comic strips, FoxTrot, has decided to cut back to Sundays only beginning tomorrow. So today was the last of the daily FoxTrots. I've enjoyed reading FoxTrot daily for quite some time now, probably since it was first published in 1988. I just hope the Cedar Rapids Gazette keeps in in the Sunday paper. I wonder though, what they will replace FoxTrot with in the daily papers. There were a couple of comic strips that I enjoyed reading in the Waterloo Courier when I lived there. One of them if Frazz, which focuses on the interactions between an elementary school janitor and the students and faculty of the school he works at. I do however get Frazz emailed to me daily, so I do still get to read it. Another comic strip that I enjoyed was Heart of the City, which frequently references Star Wars. I guess on Monday I'll find out what the Gazette does. While I will no longet see FoxTrot in my daily paper, I am still looking for a daily calendar for my desk at work. Perhaps the FoxTrot 2007 Day-to-Day Calendar will fill this need.


Amazon.com's Pricing

I received the first season of Babylon 5 on DVD as a Christmas present this past week. Eventually I'd like to acquire the remaining four seasons of the series. When I added all five seasons of Babylon 5 to my Amazon.com wish list, the price of each set was around twenty-five dollars. I was checking out my wish list a short while ago and I noticed that each season of Babylon 5 is now selling for almost fifty-four dollars! Perhaps they were on sale for a lower price for the holidays. If that is the case, I may have to wait until next Christmas to receive additional seasons of the Babylon 5 DVDs.


Christmas Present

Today I set up one of the presents that I got for Christmas. It's the geek clock, I mean binary clock. I had originally intended on putting the clock on my desk at work, but unfortunately the clock does not run on batteries and we are strongly discouraged from using electricity at work for non-work related things. So, I decided to plug it in next to the computer in our basement. What would be a more appropriate place for a clock that displays the time using binary? In the mode that I have the clock set in, the top row gives the hour, the middle row gives the minutes, and the bottom row gives the seconds of the time.
This clock really goes well with my binary T-shirt which says, "There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary, and those who don't."

Goodbye Krispy Kreme

The Cedar Rapids Krispy Kreme will be closing this Sunday. I enjoyed their doughnuts, but it is such a long drive to go there from our house that we seldom got doughnuts from there. We can walk a block and a half to the HandiMart around the corner from us and get a fairly decent variety of Krispy Kremes to choose from, and we will still be able to do that once the Krispy Kreme location in town closes, so I guess this doesn't really affect me all that much.

Visiting Bill

It had been a while since I had seen my friend Bill, so yesterday I called him up to see what he was up to. He was free, although he did have to watch his son, but he invited me over to see him at his ex-wife's home while she was at work. I spent a few couple hours there visiting with Bill and playing a PlayStation game before returning home. Bill did invite me to a New Year's Eve party at his house, but Mel and I already have plans to spend New Year's Eve with some of her family in Cedar Falls, so I won't be able to make it.


Back to Work

Having used most of my vacation days already this year, I had to return to work yesterday, the day after Christmas. It just didn't feel like the day after Christmas being back at work on December 26. I think this was probably the first time I ever had to work on the day after Christmas. With Christmas being on a Sunday last year, we had our holiday day on Monday the twenty-sixth. And before last year, I was a teacher, so I had the whole week off at the very least. It was fairly quiet at work. There was only one other math content specialist in the office, and only three of the English-language arts staff in the next row of cubicles. That made it easy to get some work done without distractions.

I had a pretty good Christmas with my and Mel's families, although I do have some presents that I need to return. I got not two, but three copies of the same book. It was on my Amazon.com wish list, but two of the people who bought it for me bought it at Barnes & Noble bookstores. The third person bought it at Amazon.com. We just need to find one of the receipts so I can return two of the copies to Barnes & Noble.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone. Mel and I woke up this morning at my mom's condo in Waterloo. We came up here yesterday after Mel got home from work last night. In a short while this morning, we will be hitting the road and driving west to Mel's parents' house in Humboldt, Iowa, to celebrate Christmas with her family. Then we get to travel back home tonight so we can both go to work tomorrow morning.


Running Errands

This morning I had some errands to run while Mel was at work. So after cleaning the house, I set out to get the jobs done. One of the first things I had to do was to go to a U.S. Cellular store to see why Mel's cell phone can't seem to maintain a charged battery. It ended up needing a new battery. We bought our cell phones last year on December 9. Had we bought them a couple weeks later, the replacement battery would have cost nothing, being covered by the one-year warranty. However, since the warranty expired fourteen days ago, I ended up shelling out fifty bucks for the new battery.

After leaving the U.S. Cellular store, I decided to check out Westdale Mall since it was across the street. Walking through the mall brought back memories of the times my friends Bill and Brad would take the bus to the mall on weekends when we were in junior high school. It was really quite sad. While going to the mall brought back these memories, it was disheartening seeing how empty Westdale Mall is now. I didn't count the vacant stores, but I would hazard to guess that the mall is over half empty. Across town, Lindale Mall seems to be doing quite well, but Westdale Mall seems to be languishing.

Happy Festivus!

I would like to wish all of my regular readers a happy Festivus. And, to celebrate the holiday season, a charitable donation has been made in all of your names to the Human Fund.

Now, I don't have any of the traditional Festivus trappings, such as the aluminum pole, but I will be celebrating the holiday nonetheless.


Wet Roads

I really hate driving on the interstate when roads are wet and the temperature is near freezing. That was the case this morning on my commute to work. The thermometer in my car said that the temperature outside was 42 degrees Fahrenheit, but I was still afraid that the roads could be a bit slick. To make things even worse, the difference between the rates of speed that people drive with roads like this is greater than usual. There are still the people who want to drive between 75 and 80 miles per hour, but there are a lot of people who want to drive significantly slower than the 70-mile-per-hour speed limit. I figured that if I just get in the right lane and keep my distance from the person in front of me, I'd be just fine.


I'm Still Here

I just haven't had a lot to blog about this week I have been pretty busy with work, being back in the office this week. I have started putting test items together to make a test that students will take this spring. It's a lot harder than one might suspect it would be, but it is fun. It's like putting a puzzle together. Hopefully I finish up tomorrow with what I have been trying to get done, because I'll have a lot more to work on next week at work.


The Weather

I guess we won't be having a white Christmas this year. The weather has been so unseasonably warm recently that I imagine snow will be quite unlikely. It would be really nice to have snow for Christmas, but I won't be holding my breath for it.


Baby Shopping

Yesterday morning, Mel and I went to Des Moines. She needed some service done on her truck, and she had a coupon for a free oil change at the dealership from which we bought the truck. Besides, going to Des Moines gave us the opportunity to shop at some stores that we do not have in Cedar Rapids. Our trip to Des Moines was worthwhile. While we were there, we went to Babies "R" Us to look at cribs and other furniture for the baby. We found a crib and a changing table/dresser that we really liked. To make things even better, yesterday Babies "R" Us was giving a twenty-percent discount to customers for applying for, and being approved for, their credit card. We saved a nice wad of money by getting their credit card. We didn't really need another card, but we really wanted the discount. Also while we were shopping there, we unexpectedly ran into Mel's brother, sister-in-law, and our nephew. We chatted with them for a little while before finishing our shopping.


Heading Home!

I'll finally be returning home from Minnesota today. I have been here in Roseville, Minnesota, since Monday of last week for a business trip. It will be really good to get home. I really miss seeing Mel. Also, all of this eating out is taking a serious toll on my diet. I hadn't been counting calories or anything prior to coming here, but I was watching what I had been eating. I think I am going to make a resolution to choose healthier alternatives next time I am on a business trip.


Show Me the Money

Tonight, I am watching William Shatner's game show, Show Me the Money, while working on some math test items. I just can not believe how poorly some people do on this show. It really doesn't seem that difficult. I guess the woman who just lost was lacking in general trivia knowledge. I like to think that if I were on this show, I would be walking away with quite a bit of money. Nevertheless, if I could be a contestant on any game show, I'd still prefer to be on Jeopardy! That in spite of the fact that I could win more money on these other, more trendy, game shows. I just think there is a lot more prestige to being a winner on Jeopardy!


Missing a Trip to the OB

Mel had another appointment with the obstetrician today and had another ultrasound. Nothing has changed since last month's ultrasound. Well, I guess the baby is bigger, but she is still a girl, and she is still doing well. Unfortunately, since I am still in the Twin Cities for work, I was not able to go along with Mel, but I will be able to make it next month.

More Christmas Shopping

I'm not quite done with my Christmas shopping yet, but I am getting closer. Unable to find exactly what I was looking for this weekend, I placed some orders for Christmas presents online last night. I'm still not done, but I should be tonight or tomorrow. I think I may head back out the the local mall after dinner tonight.


Over the River and Through the Woods

Yesterday, I spent my morning doing a little work in my hotel room while watching episodes of the Emmy-award-winning Star Trek animated series. I received the DVDs of the series from Mel for our anniversary and my coworker, Sandy, let me borrow her portable DVD player since I am stuck in the Twin Cities for the weekend.

Later, I drove to Woodbury to visit my sister who lives here. Together, we went to visit my grandmother. We spent a few hours visiting with her in her apartment. We also did some shopping; I need to find some Christmas presents for Mel still. We also had dinner with my cousin Meg and her husband Jon, who also live in the Twin Cities. Later on we returned to their house to play some games.

Today, I need to finish up some work, but I think I will be heading back to the Mall of America to finish my Christmas shopping.


Avoiding Mexican Fast Food

I think I will be avoiding Mexican fast food restaurants this weekend while I am in the Twin Cities. First there was the E. coli cases in several Taco Bell restaurants. Now some Taco John's restaurants are being cited as the source of severe diarrhea and stomach cramps for several people in Cedar Falls, Iowa, with E. coli being blamed preliminarily. From these outbreaks, I think it would be prudent to just avoid such establishments altogether for the immediate future. I may be overly cautious, but getting these symptoms while away from home would really suck!


To the Mall

Tonight, my coworkers and I travelled from our hotel in Roseville, Minnesota, to the Mall of America in Bloomington. There we had dinner at a hoity-toity restaurant. I had baked Canadian walleye. It came with jasmine rice, squash, pineapple-watermelon salsa, and a sweet soy sauce. It was quite good, although pricey. It was nice that bottles of wine under forty dollars are half price on Thursdays. After dinner, the four of us walked around the mall for a bit. We had to make stops at the Lego store as well as a couple other stores. I need to look for some Christmas presents for my wife, so I may return to the Mall of America this weekend.


I am so not ready for the bitter cold weather of winter. Right now the temperature outside is just 1 degree Fahrenheit with a windchill factor of negative fifteen degrees! I'm just hoping there's no frost to scrape off the car's windows this morning before heading out for the day.


A Long Workday

Having meeting with our customer usually means that my workday is a little longer than it usually is, but today was even longer than most of my days are while I am travelling for work. After working nine hours today, my coworkers and I had dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. Once we returned to the hotel, we worked together for another hour and a half on some work that need to be done. After that, I returned to my room to work another hour and a half on other work that I would have been doing during the day had I been in the office. With all of this work once I was back at the hotel tonight, I ended up working twelve hours today.


Away for Work

Once again, I am in the Twin Cities for work. This time I am here for about a week and a half! That's too long to be away from home, especially with Mel being pregnant. Unfortunately I have to miss one of her doctor's appointments next week. She'll be getting another ultrasound. I really which I could be there.



As some of my readers know, I track my currency on its travels using the website Where's George?. This is a web site which allows people to see where their money ends up. Yesterday one of the one-dollar bills that I entered in December 2002 showed up in Moscow, Russia, some 4,900 miles away from its last appearance in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in August 2004. I have had one bill show up in a foreign country before, but I am amazed that this bill is still in circulation after this much time.


Celebrating Our Anniversary

Mel and I were finally able to celebrate our anniversary this weekend the way we wanted to last weekend. Unfortunately, we were both sick last weekend, so we had celebrated our anniversary sitting at home, feeling like crap. We started last night by having some of the wedding cake that we have been keeping in the freezer since our wedding last November. It wasn’t that bad for a year-old cake. The icing was a bit hard and seemed really sugary, but the cake itself still tasted pretty good. I don’t think we’ll finish it, but it was a nice thing to try.

Today, Mel and I went to see the new James Bond movie, Casino Royale. I really enjoyed the movie. I’m not sure what it was about it, but it seemed more like a classic Bond movie than some of the more recent ones, and I think that Daniel Craig did a very good job playing James Bond.

After the movie, and a trip to Best Buy to fill some time and to get a storage rack for our plethora CDs, we went to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. I really like the food there, and it is usually worth the wait. Fortunately we had called ahead when we were leaving Best Buy. By the time we got the Texas Roadhouse, the wait for a table was between ninety and one hundred minutes! We had to wait about forty-five minutes once we got there, but that wasn’t too bad.

This weekend is going pretty well. We even got most of our Christmas shopping done online tonight.

Anna Comes to Visit

Last night, my friend Anna, who lives in Las Vegas, arrived in Ceadar Rapids to visit her family, but first she came by our house along with Homercles, who picked her up at the airport, to visit. We spent a few hours talking, most of which seemed to be about high school and what people from our class are up to these days. It was good to see Anna. Mel and I would love to go out to Vegas to visit her, but that won't be happening any time soon.



I don't know why, but I just felt exhausted on my way home from work today. I did have to stop at the Coral Ridge Mall to get a Christmas present for someone and to Lowes to get a screwdriver that I can use to repair the elliptical exercise machine, so I did get home a little later than I usually do. Maybe that's why I felt so tired. I do feel a little more awake now that I am home though.

Starting with this Friday, my Friday ten iPod songs are going to come from my holiday music collection. I'm not trying to be politically correct by calling it holiday music instead of Christmas music; I'm just trying to me accurate. I believe I may have one Hanukkah song in the collection, so "Christmas" music wouldn't be entirely accurate. That would be Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song."


Computer Issues

My work computer is finally working again! On Monday I had a major issue with it. I tried restarting my computer after some updates were installed, but the computer would not start up. I was able to get a spare computer at work to use while mine was being worked on. That's a good thing, because it is pretty hard for me to do much of what I need to do at work without a computer. Yesterday, the computer technicians returned my computer to me. It was running a lot faster than before and, except for losing some files since I hadn't backed anything up lately, I was pretty pleased. That was until I got home. I had intended on getting some work done at home last night, but my computer wouldn't connect to our home network. Well, I got that working today, which is very good since I will be out of the office for nine days beginning next Monday. Also, it's nice to know that I can connect my computer to the work network from home in the event that the weather is too bad tomorrow to get to work.


Crappy News

I just read an email that my wife sent from work. It seems that one of her coworkers was fired today and because of that, Mel now has to work on Christmas. That really sucks! I don't know why they even have to be working that day. I would think that yeast production could decrease for the Christmas holiday, but I guess I am wrong.



I really hate being sick, especially on a holiday weekend. Both Mel and I have been sick all day. We had been planning on going out to dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary which is tomorrow, but I guess those plans have changed. Hopefully we'll feel up to going to Mel's grandmother's house for dinner tomorrow.


Putting Up the Christmas Tree

Before heading out to the Amana Colonies for dinner tonight, Mel and I worked on setting up the Christmas tree and the other Christmas decorations. I am finding that we have a lot more ornaments for the tree than will fit on it. We actually have two Christmas trees; we each had one of our own before getting married. A couple of years ago, when we lived in Waterloo, we put them both up -- one upstairs and the other one downstairs -- but that just seems like too much of a hassle. Besides, our basement doesn't have as much room as the basement in my previous house.


Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving day. Mel and I began our Thanksgiving weekend having dinner at her aunt and uncle's house in Waterloo. Tomorrow we continue gathering with family by celebrating my great uncle's birthday at the Brick Haus Restaurant in Amana. Then on Sunday, we go to Mel's grandmother's house in northern Iowa for another Thanksgiving dinner. I've been trying to watch what I've been eating lately. Hopefully I don't pick up a lot of extra weight this weekend.


Shocking News

I just found out that a former student of mine was killed in Iraq. It was a student who I had some issues with in class. I had both him and his younger brother in the same class, and they often caused problems, but sometimes he was helpful in getting his brother to get to work doing what he was supposed to be doing. It seems like he was trying to do something useful with his life and in the role he chose, he wasn't just focused on himself, but he really was thinking about others. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.



I have come to the realization that I just don't read as much as I should. It takes me a very long time to finish a book. I just don't take the time to read, and when I do read, it's usually just a Star Trek novel. I think I am going to resolve to read more, and not just Star Trek books. I have added a few books to my Christmas list, and some are not at all Star Trek related.


Alone This Evening

Mel had to work this afternoon and this evening. I took advantage of the time she was at work to go shopping for her anniversary present. I'd tell you all what it is, but she read my blog, so I guess I'll just have to keep it a secret for now. I was amazed by how busy Lindale Mall was though. I guess people are getting an early start to their Christmas shopping.

After doing a little shopping, I stopped by my friend Bill's apartment. I spent a couple hours there playing the game "Worms" on his PlayStation with him and his friend Jason. That was a fun game. I might look into whether or not it is available for PC. Eventually I had to leave Bill's place so I could get the grocery shopping done.


Spending the Day in the Cedar Valley

Right now I am sitting at the computer in my mother's condo in Waterloo, Iowa. Mel and I drove up today so she could go to the bridal shower of my cousin's fiancee. After leaving Mel, I did a little shopping. I wasn't off to buy anything, I just needed some ideas for my Christmas gift list since people have been after me to let them know what I would like for Christmas. I looked around a bit at University Book and Supply in Cedar Falls for some UNI clothing. While I was there, I decided to wander around the UNI campus. I hadn't been inside Maucker Union since it was remodeled. I spent plenty of time inside that building when I was a student at UNI since I worked at the Hardee's restaurant that was located there. The Hardee's is no longer there, having been replaced with a few other dining options. Aside from that, the inside of Maucker Union looks much like it did when I was a student at UNI. Anyway, now I am awaiting the arrival of Mel and my mother. My mom wants me to hook up a VCR to her TV, so I suppose I should get on that.


It's a Girl!

At least that's what the ultrasound technician said this morning. We are now 20 weeks along, at least we will be on Friday. That means the pregnancy is half over. Here are a couple pics that we got today. The first one is of the whole baby.

This second photo shows the baby's legs. This is the photo which led to the conclusion that the baby will be a girl.


Boring Day at Work

After a fairly busy week at work the past two weeks, today was fairly boring. Aaron spent most of his day writing his performance appraisal. Where Aaron works, employees write their own appraisals, then their managers review them and edit them. One of the requirements of the appraisal is that it is to be written in the third person, so Aaron had to struggle with that much of the day, although it does get easier with time. Another thing that Aaron found difficult with writing his appraisal was in writing about the great things he did without sounding too arrogant. Of course, being written in the third person makes it sound less like he was praising himself, but rather that someone else did.


Utter Crap

While I was on my way to do my grocery shopping this morning, I heard the newest single from Fergie, "Fergalicious." I had thought that her previous release, "London Bridge," was bad, but this song makes "London Bridge" seem like a work of art. I can understand why people like Fergie, but I can't believe it's for her "music." Now, despite the fact that I think this song is awful, I am putting the video here so you can judge for yourself.


Trying to Get This Place Organized

I am trying to get the basement of our house more organized. Specifically, I am trying to organize the desk. I came home from work early yesterday afternoon because of the weather. It wasn't too bad, but one of the people who I carpool was driving up to Cedar Falls after work to see Joan Baez at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the UNI campus. She wanted to be able to get there before the roads got too bad. Anyway, once I got home I had additional work to get done, so I plugged in my work laptop computer at the desk in the basement, and I realized that with all the clutter, there wasn't much room to work. All I really need to do is to dig through the papers stacked on the desk and file away the important ones. The rest can probably be thrown out. Once the top of the desk is cleaned off, I'll be able to tackle the contents of the drawers, but that can wait for another day.

Also, in organizing the basement a bit today, I finally got around to hanging up the autographed photos that I have. That is helping to make the basement look nicer. Now I just need to figure out where to hang the Mr. Spock Heineken ad that I have! I do have a few other things to hang on the walls, but I have a spot already picked out for them.

You may recall that I painted the nursery for our baby a couple weekends ago. Well, this morning I replaced all of the outlets and cover plates. The outlets that were there had been painted with the wall's previous color and I didn't want to paint them, so I replaced them all with nice new white outlets. Besides, some of the outlets in this house, haven't worked very well. The plugs fall out of some of them. Now I just need to hang a Winnie the Pooh wallpaper border around the room. I have never hung wallpaper or wallpaper border before, so I hope it isn't too hard. Maybe I will get around to doing that tomorrow.


Not Smart, Mathman

Last night I was bringing in the birdbath from our back yard. My father made it the week before he passed away. The top of the birdbath is shaped like a large leaf. He used a rhubarb leaf as a mold for the top. The bottom is a cylinder that measures about 21 inches high with a diameter of 7 inches. The entire thing is made of concrete. Well, I got the top of the birdbath into the garage from the back yard alright, but I took a bit of a shortcut with the base. We have a fairly sleep, although short, hill at the side of our driveway. Instead of carrying the heavy base all the way down to the sidewalk and then back up the driveway, I tried to carry it down the hill. While going down the hill, the weight of the base caused me to fall, twisting my ankle. My left ankle and knee are still quite a bit sore today. Fortunately, the base survived the fall, so we will be able to put the birdbath out next spring. I better get limping off to work.


Feeling Good

I'm feeling pretty good today. I am pleased with how the election turned out, although I am surprised that James Leach lost his bid for a sixteenth term in the House. I thought that the Democrats would take control of the House of Representatives, but it looks like they are going to be the majority in the Senate as well. I think that a lot of the seats they won were not necessarily because they had the better candidate, but because people were dissatisfied with Congress and the president. If these democrats don't get their act together pretty quick and start getting things done, I fear that they are likely to lose their majorities in two years.

On a similar note, President Bush today said that Donald Rumsfeld's resignation from his position as defense secretary was actually in the works before the election, even though Bush had recently said that he planned on Rumsfeld staying in that role through the end of his term in 2009. Today he said that he "didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign." That sounds like a bunch of bullshit. Bush had been campaigning hard for Republican candidates for ten days before the election. I am sure he hoped for Republicans to maintain control in the legislative branch, and if thought this would have helped to win the election, he would have done it beforehand.


Midterm Election

Well the day is almost here. The midterm elections are being held tomorrow. I've made up my mind about how I am voting in almost every race on the ballot. I still have to decide who I am going to vote for for secretary of agriculture and how I am going to vote on the public measure on the ballot - whether or not the number of members on the Linn County Board of Supervisors will increase from three to five. One race that I have decided on but am conflicted about is for the second congressional district. I am going to vote for incumbent Jim Leach's challenger Dave Loebsack. I think Congressman Leach has done a good job in Washington, but I think it is more important right now for the Democrats to take back control of the House. I think Loebsack will be able to do an adequate job if elected and his getting elected can help return power on the House of Representatives to the Democrats. Whoever wins the elections tomorrow, I'm just going to be glad that the political ads on TV will be done for a while!


Busy Weekend

Mel and I thought that we'd be having a pretty uneventful weekend this weekend. We had originally planned on just staying home, but Saturday morning, Anita, one of Mel's coworkers and a former student of mine, came over to use our computer. She told us that a couple other coworkers were planning on going out to dinner and we were, of course, invited. So, instead of eating at home Saturday night, Mel and I joined her coworkers Anita, Penny, and Mel (yes, Mel works with another Mel) for dinner at Granite City. The food is good there, but a bit pricey, and the serving size of my entree was smaller than I expected it to be. We wanted desert, but we wanted to go somewhere a little less expensive, so we went to the Village Inn for desert. After dinner and desert, we all took a trip to Target and then we all ended up back at our house. We played a couple games, Scene It and Scattergories. That was a lot of fun.

Today, my in-laws came to visit. It was nice seeing them and they hadn't been to our house in a while. We went out to lunch with them to Ruby Tuesday. It was our first visit there. The food was good, but I thought that Red Robin had a much more variety in the burgers on their menu. We may end up going to Ruby Tuesday again. It probably would not be my first choice for a casual dining restaurant, but the food was still good.



With a movie coming today featuring the character Borat Sagdiyev, played by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, I have been seeing Borat show up on talk shows and other television programs a lot lately. Am I the only person who does not think this guy is funny? It just seems so stupid! He gets laughs by playing of cultural stereotypes of people from Kazakhstan, a country that I would bet very few Americans know anything about. It's no wonder that the Kazakh government has a problem with this guy. For those who are not familiar with Borat, I have included this YouTube video.

Fred MacMurray?

Today at work, I was talking with some of my coworkers and one of the managers said that he thought I look kind of like Fred MacMurray, the dad from My Three Sons. Now, I don't really agree with that assertion, but I'll let you be the judge.


Fred MacMurray

MeMarc Price

This reminded me of a time in high school when my homeroom teacher, Mr. Weld, said that he thought I looked like Skippy on the TV show Family Ties. I didn't take that as a complement then, and I still don't, although I don't have any hard feelings about that comment.

Sophomore Year

Marc Price

Me, Sophomore YearMarc Price

Congressman Steve King

It was reported in the Des Moines Register and on his own website, that Congressman Steve King from Iowa's fifth district has accused Secretary of State Chet Culver, candidate for governor, of violating state law by posting voting materials on the official Secretary of State website in languages other than English. On his website, he calls on Culver to remove the alleged violation of law and explain that he understands Iowa laws. Perhaps Congressman King should pull his head out of his ass and actually read the law he authored as a state senator.

The law that Steve King refers to is Chapter 1.18 of the Iowa Code. The law does state that English is the language of government of Iowa. Stating:

Except as otherwise provided for in subsections 4 and 5, the English language shall be the language of government in Iowa. All official documents, regulations, orders, transactions, proceedings, programs, meetings, publications, or actions taken or issued, which are conducted or regulated by, or on behalf of, or representing the state and all of its political subdivisions shall be in the English language
Now, if King would read subsection 4, he would see:

4. This section shall not apply to:
h. Any language usage required by or necessary to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America or the Constitution of the State of Iowa.

Now, as the Constitution of the State of Iowa states that
[e]very citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one years, who shall have been a resident of this state for such period of time as shall be provided by law and of the county in which he claims his vote for such period of time as shall be provided by law, shall be entitled to vote at all elections which are now or hereafter may be authorized by law
it seems to me that voting is a constitutional right, and therefore the English-only requirement does not apply. And while Congressman King may have written the law, it is not his job to interpret it!

The Daily Show on John Kerry

Here's the Daily Show's take on the recent John Kerry botched-joke controversy.



Tonight, my good friend Homercles and I went to dinner at Bennigan's. We have been taking each other out to dinner for our birthdays for the past few years, and as my birthday was last week, it was about time to go to dinner. Bennigan's has been our traditional birthday dinner destination. I enjoy having time to catch up with Homercles as he is often quite busy with school and other matters. We really must get together more often.



I just watched Jeopardy! for the first time in quite a while. Ever since starting my new job in June last year, I haven't watched it much. I used to tape it and watch it every day when I got home from work, but with not getting home from work as early as I did when I was teaching, I just haven't had the time. The DVR that we have hooked up to the TV makes it a lot easier to record the show and to find the recording of it to watch later. Hopefully I will be able to find more time to watch Jeopardy! in the future.


Trick or Treat

Today, of course, is Halloween. Being a nice guy, I had candy to give out to the trick-or-treaters who came by. Most of them were quite polite, saying "thank you" after I had given them some candy. There was one kid who wanted a specific kind of candy from the selection I was offering, so I let him take his own candy. Much to my astonishment, he took three pieces of candy! I thought that was pretty rude. Most of the trick-or-treaters seemed pretty young. There weren't too many teenagers who came to my house, not that I have any problem with teens trick-or-treating. What did amaze me though was the number of kids who just held out their bags, not even bothering to say, "Trick or treat."

Thirty-seven trick-or-treaters came by the house tonight. Being the math geek that I am, I kept track of when they all came by and created this histogram to show my data. Now I will have a record of the number of children who stopped by this year when I need to decide how much candy to get for next year's Halloween.


Silly Cat

I have spent the past hour or so sitting on my living room couch watching TV while doing some work I brought home from my job today. As I have been working on this, the cat has been keeping himself busy playing with his toys, mostly plastic balls with bells in them and a plastic bag. He has also been running around the living room then inexplicably back and forth down the hall. He's staring at me at the moment. I think I will get out the laser pointer to see if he follows the laser point around.


Making Good Use of the Extra Hour

I am making good use of the extra hour today resulting from the end of Daylight Saving Time. I have been painting the baby's room. The top half of the walls, Pooh Bear Yellow, are not done with both coats. I am about to start my painting of the bottom half of the walls, Tinker Bell, a shade of green. I also mowed the lawn for the last time this year this afternoon and I pulled out the flowers and the bulbs that need to go in for the winter. Today is the last day that our neighborhood Dairy Queen is open for the year, so I also stopped by there for one last Blizzard until they reopen in February. Their being closed should help if I ever get back on a weight-loss plan.


At the Movies

Mel and I just saw Saw III. The movie was alright, but it didn't particularly thrill me. I admit that I am not much of a fan of horror movies, so maybe that was my problem. I do go to these kinds of movies on occasion though because my wife really likes them and she did humor me by watching Zoolander with me on DVD. She refuses to watch it again, but that's beside the point. I have liked some of the horror movies that we have gone to together. I did like the first two Saw movies better than this one. There are some other horror or thriller movies that we saw together that I liked as well, but I can't think of any particular titles at this point. Perhaps I can get her to go see Casino Royale, the new James Bond film, with me when it comes out even though she's not a big James Bond fan.


What's Going on With My iPod?

Half of the first ten songs I heard today on my iPod were songs by Weird Al Yankovic. I suppose I do have quite a few of his songs in my iTunes library, but I was certainly surprised to hear that many songs by him this morning.


Preparing the Baby's Room

I took the day off from work today. Mel has today and tomorrow off since she has to work this weekend, and I had two vacation days remaining to use before the end of the year, so I thought today would be as good a day as any. I had thought about taking tomorrow off, but I have a meeting I really should go to, and Mel has to get up early, so I wouldn't have really been able to sleep in all that well. Anyway, Mel and I took advantage of our days off from work to get paint and things to decorate the baby's room. We got a couple of colors of Behr paints from Home Depot. The colors we chose, Tinker Bell (green) and Pooh Bear Yellow, are from Behr's Disney Color collection. We also got a Winnie the Pooh border and wall stickers from Menards. I guess I know what I'll be doing tonight and this weekend.

Bye Bye CSI?

It looks like Mediacom customers in Cedar Rapids may lose their ability to watch KGAN, the local CBS affiliate, on December 1 if an agreement isn't reached before then between Mediacom and the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Of course, people could always try to get a signal with an antenna, but that isn't always that great. I guess I can be glad that I don't have to worry about that for now as we switched from Mediacom to DirecTV this past spring.

Hospital Tour Number 2

Last night, Mel and I took a tour of Saint Luke's Hospital's Women's and Children's Health center. The birth suites were very nice and they have a very extensive NICU. It's quite larger than the birth center at Mercy Hospital. After visiting both hospitals, I think we are going to go with Saint Luke's. Even before visiting the two hospitals, I was leaning towards Saint Luke's as I was born there. Besides, both my mother and grandmother think the food is better at Saint Luke's than it is at Mercy. In the end, the decision is Mel's, as she's the one who will be making full use of their services, being the one who actually has to give birth.


Political Survey

I just received a phone call that was a political survey about candidates for Iowa House District 37, Art Staed and Andy Anderson. The interesting part of this phone call is that I live in house district 38, not 37. I guess the results of this survey may be a little less than accurate.

A Nice and Busy Saturday

Mel and I went to Waterloo yesterday morning so that she and my mother could go to the craft show at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. While they were at the craft show, I went to several of the store that we don't have in Cedar Rapids to browse. I really liked going to University Book and Supply to look at the UNI clothing and other items they have. I almost bought myself a new sweatshirt with some of the money I got for my birthday, but first, I think I need to work on cleaning out and organizing my closet. It is quite a mess right now and more clothing will just make it worse. I should get rid of some of the things I never wear before acquiring more clothing.

After the craft show, it was too early to eat dinner, so we went back to my mom's house where we watched the movie Hoodwinked. It is an animated film about the story behind Little Red Riding Hood. My mom had gotten it from Netfilx after my sister recommended it to her. I thought it was a really good movie and I would recommend it to almost anyone.

The three of us went to the Other Place on University Avenue for dinner. Mel really loves there pizza. She claims that she has never had better pizza than theirs. I admit that it is quite good. Mel and I each ordered our own individual pizzas - sausage and extra cheese for Mel and BBQ chicken for me - while my mom had lasagna. It was all very good.

After we got back to Cedar Rapids, I went over to a friend's house where we played a friendly game of cards. I must admit that I really don't know all that much about the ins and outs of playing Texas Hold 'Em, but I did pretty good for a while. Even though I was not the winner in the end, it was a fun game. We will need to do that again.


Birthday Presents!

I had a good birthday yesterday, although work seemed to drag on and on in the afternoon. Before going out to dinner last night, I opened my birthday presents from Mel. One of them was an Interactive Yoda toy. I think I need to find a new way to display my Yoda collection though, as the shelves I am using are getting quite full. This Yoda speaks with a vocabulary of more than 450 words and he can train one in the use of a lightsaber (which is included). I may have to take this one out of its package so I can play with it.

She also got me the new "Weird Al" Yankovic CD, Straight Outta Lynwood. I had heard some songs from the CD a couple of weeks ago, but this was the first chance I had to really listen to the CD. In my opinion, this is Weird Al's best CD is a while. His last one was alright, but I didn't think it matched some of his earlier works. The first track on this CD, "White & Nerdy," is great. I do have to say that much of the song reminds me of myself, except for the programming parts as that is not my forte. The CD continues with "Pancreas" which serves to show just how white and nerdy Weird Al truly is. I have to say that almost every song on this CD is great! "Confessions Part III" is hilarious, as is "Weasel Stomping Day." The latter is probably Mel's favorite track on the CD. We were listening to the CD on our way to and on our way back home from Biaggi's, so we haven't finished it yet. We were in the middle of "Trapped in the Drive-Thru," a parody of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet," but the song is really funny as far as we have heard it.

Besides these two presents, Mel also got me some candy. I was pretty excited about that, probably too much so for a thirty-four-year-old man, but she got me some really good candy - Twizlers Twerpz and dark chocolate M&Ms.

Dinner at Biaggi's was really good. It really filled me up, but I still had room for Dairy Queen ice cream cake when we got home.


Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my thirty-fourth birthday. I would have liked to take today off from work, but the other people in the office who work on the same project I work on are already out, so I really should be there. That's really no problem, although I do need to find time between now and the end of the year to take my last two vacation days. Tonight Mel and I are going to dinner at Biaggi's. I have only eaten there once; that was four years ago. My parents and I went there for my birthday then.

Listening to the news this morning, I found out that I share my birthday with Snoop Dogg. He also turns 34 today. So I guess I should say, "Happy birthday to us!"


Checking Out the Hospital

Mel and I went to Mercy Hospital tonight to take a tour of their birthing center. This was our first of two hospital tours that we'll be taking. We are going to check out Saint Luke's Hospital next week. I have to say that Mercy Birthplace was very nice. The nurse who gave us the tour was very nice, and they didn't seem too busy. The room was nice and spacious. It looked fairly comfortable considering that its primary purpose is for giving birth. The nurse told us that we would have a dedicated nurse just for us while in labor. The nurse to patient ratio of postpartum care was very nice too. We'll have to see how next week's tour goes before picking a hospital, but Mercy Hospital would be a fine place for us to use.


New Responsibilities at Work

I had a conversation over the phone with my manager at work this week. It looks like I am going to be the content lead on an upcoming project at work. For just about a year now, I have been a co-lead on a project with another of my coworkers. We took over when it was realized that the person who was in charge of the project had too much on her plate at work. That included some additional responsibilities, but being the sole lead on a project is even more of an advancement. Hopefully this means that I will soon lose the "associate" part of my job title which essentially means that I don't have as much experience as others who do what I do. I think everyone starts with "associate" attached to their title though where I work. Getting that little "promotion" should mean an increase in pay, although I don't believe it is a very large raise. However, more money is always better!


An Eerie Political Ad

Iowa first congressional district candidate Mike Whalen has ad on TV now that attacks his opponent Bruce Braley for being a trial lawyer. Apparently the reason why people in Iowa can't find baby doctors (never mind that we had no problem finding one) is that Bruce Braley is suing them all out of business. Anyway, I find this ad to be a bit eerie. The narrator of the ad sounds just like the guy that does the voice-over work on the program Forensic Files on CourTV. I think it's that program, but it could be some other crime show on cable. So, when I hear this commercial, it seems even more ominous since when I usually hear him on TV, he's talking about someone being murdered! Well, there are just three weeks left in this round of political ads. Then in a few more months, we'll be getting the beginning of the presidential caucus commercials on TV. Man, I love being in Iowa, home of the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.

Visit to the Baby Doctor

Mel had another appointment with the obstetrician today. The appointment didn't last very long, but we got to hear the baby's heartbeat! It was pretty fast--about 150 beats per minute. But the doctor said that was normal.


Lonely Week at Work

This is going to be a lonely week at work. Our cubicles at work are divided into groups of four. Last week, the person who's cubicle is adjacent to mine moved to a new cubicle and this week, the person across from me diagonally is on vacation. To top it all of, the fourth person in my section has been out of the office for a few months now. So for this week, I am the only person in my group of four cubicles. Fortunately there are a lot of other people at work this week who I socialize with, so I at least have someone to eat lunch with. I guess this week I'll have a lot fewer distractions and should be able to get a lot more work done.


Baby Shopping

No, I didn't go shopping for a baby. Today, Mel and I went shopping for some items for the new baby which should be here in less than six months! K's Merchandise in Cedar Rapids is closing, so we went there to check out what they had. One of the things we were looking for was a crib. They had some that we liked, but we decided to look a bit more before buying one. One thing that we did buy was a car seat with a stroller. It's one that comes with a base that stays in the car and we should be able to get an extra base for our other vehicle. We just need to snap the seat into it. We would have waited to get it, but they only had one left in stock and we really liked the one we saw there. I really want to get to painting and decorating the baby's room, but we haven't picked out any specific paint colors yet. We do have a few colors that we are choosing between though.


Alone for the Evening

Mel went out with some of the girls from work this evening. They are going to dinner at Texas Roadhouse and then they are going to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders hockey game. I was planning on getting together with some friends later to play pool and darts, but those plans fell through as Captain Creative isn't feeling too well. So, I think I'll just stay home and watch TV tonight. I did get dinner from Hardee's a while ago and I have been watching Office Space. I think I may spend some time working on Mel's and my personal web site while having a few beers. I haven't updated the web site in quite a while, except for adding a guestbook a couple of months ago.


Why Young People Move From Iowa

A recent commercial in Jum Nussle's campaign for Iowa governor states that young people leave the state because of the high taxes in Iowa. I suppose that may be true for some people, but I think a lot of the young people who leave Iowa do so for other reasons.

  1. Iowa is boring! I have lived other places, some more interesting than others, and I have to say that compared to some other places, there really isn't a whole lot to do in Iowa. Sure, Iowa's a great place to raise a family. If it wasn't, I think I'd want to leave the state, but this isn't a big concern for a lot of young people.
  2. Many of these young people have lived in Iowa most of their lives. It's only natural that many of them would want to get away from the places they have spent their entire lives and experience more of the world.
  3. Some of the places these young people move to may have lower taxes, but the cost of living there is not much less, in fact in some of the places, it higher. One of the places that the commercial shows as a destination for young people leaving the state is Minneapolis. That's not exactly an inexpensive place to live. And many people leave Iowa for Chicago. I'm sure the cost of living there is much cheaper. Sure.

Now I suppose that there may be somewhat of a lack of jobs in some areas because of the way Iowa structures its income taxes. Having federal income tax deductiblity on the taxes lowers taxable income but does have the effect of making the tax rate seem high. But in the past few years, the state has actively campaigned to get people to move back to Iowa, and some people do. If there were no jobs, would these people be coming back? While I don't like paying taxes any more than the next guy, it wouldn't get be to move from Iowa.

Friday the Thirteenth

Well, today is Friday the thirteenth, but I had no bad luck in my day. Work wasn't too bad. I had plenty to work on throughout the day, and the tasks I had to work on provided enough variety to keep the day from becoming boring and monotonous. Nevertheless, I am glad that the weekend is finally here, and I don't think I have anything planned for the weekend, so I should be able to relax a bit. I will do some yard work and work around the house this weekend, but I don't think we are going anywhere this weekend. Having schedules to visit people out of town can make the weekend stressful, but there's none of that this weekend.

Emergency Response

Yesterday morning at work I spent about four hours being trained to become a member of my company's emergency response team. We received training in CPR, use of an AED, and some first aid. It had been a while since I had received CPR training; it was my senior year in high school. The CPR training did not just include training on CPR for adults, but also for children and infants. I was hoping for this. While I do want to help people at work who need it, I also want to be prepared for emergencies at home as well.



When I left for work this morning I was a bit surprised to see snow on the ground. It was only a light dusting of snow on the grass, but it was snow nonetheless. To top it all off, there were light snow flurries while I was driving down the interstate to work. Now I really need to get the snowblower into the shop to get fixed!


Mr. Negative

I am someone who tends to worry a lot. I don't know why, but it seems like I am often looking at what can go wrong in a given situation. Take today for an example. My manager at work is in the office for a few days this week. He works in our Texas location, so I don't see him too often. He scheduled individual meetings with all of us who he manages while he's in town. While I know that everyone is meeting with him and that it's just a chance to see what's going on, I worry about the meeting. For some reason, I'm afraid of all of the things that could go wrong when meeting with my manager. Oh, I am certain that things will go just fine. When I had a manager who was in the same office as me, we had a biweekly half-hour meeting. Nevertheless, I can not wait for this meeting to be over with this afternoon.


Chet Culver and IPERS

Some people I know have a problem with Chet Culver's position regarding IPERS. He has previously made a suggestion for investing up to three percent of IPERS funds in new Iowa companies. His opponent and those supporting him have said that this is a risky endeavor, even pointing out in a commercial several new companies that have failed. The thing is that no policy needs to be changed in order to do this. Apparently, a portion of IPERS funds have been invested in venture capital for twenty years now. The only change is that Chet Culver would want to give more preference toward companies starting in Iowa instead of elsewhere. This could help Iowa's economy by helping to create new jobs here in Iowa. As someone who has money in IPERS, although I admit that I as I am no longer a public employee, I am no longer making contributions to IPERS, I don't think this is as dangerous as Jim Nussle and his supporters would have you believe.


Happy Columbus Day!

I hope everyone out there in the blogosphere had a happy Columbus Day, or Thanksgiving Day if you are Canadian. Oh, and for the Japanese, happy Health and Sports Day.


Star Trek DirecTV Commercial

I saw this commercial the other night and I found it amusing. I knew it was only a matter of days before I would find it on YouTube.

This Weekend

I had a pretty busy weekend. Yesterday, Mel and I went to Waterloo for the birthday party of the six-year-old son of a friend of hers. It was a nice party. We spent a couple hours at their house, watched her son open presents, and then had some cake.

In the evening, I got together with Captain Creative, the good captain's son, Homercles, Jason, and Scott, another friend of ours, to celebrate Captain Creative's birthday which was earlier in the week. We had dinner at the new Red Robin restaurant in town. They have pretty good burgers, and their selection is quite extensive. I had the Santa Fe burger which contains a Poblano pepper, guacamole, sautéed onions, crisp tortilla strips, and Ancho mayo on an onion bun.

After dinner all of us except for Homercles and Captain Creative's son headed off to Riverside to visit the new Riverside Casino. It was fun. I didn't gamble all that much money. The casino was really nice. The atmosphere was a lot better than at the Mesqwaki Casino in Tama. The space was a lot more open and it wasn't too smoky. There was a nice fountain on top of the bar area in the center of the casino. They also had a lounge act, which wasn't that great, but it was something to listen to. They had more table games than the Meskwaki casino but I didn't think the variety of slot machines was that great. Maybe that's because they only had four of the one slot machine I really enjoy, Wheel of Fortune. Also, I didn't see any that had progressive jackpots. There may have been some, but I didn't see them. I also had a hard time finding any nickle slot machines. I eventually found them. I did think that they had way too many penny slots.

When we left to head home, we stopped at the convenience store near between the casino and Highway 218. There I ran into some students I had taught when I was teaching at Highland Junior/Senior High School in Riverside. The cashier and another employee were students I taught my first year at Highland in 1999 when they were freshmen. There were a couple more students of mine getting cash from the ATM. They were seventh graders when I taught them my last year at Highland. Now they are seniors in high school. I thought that it was somewhat likely that I'd run into former students of mine when I was there. I'm just glad that none of them were the cocktail waitresses in the skimpy outfits at the casino. That may have been a bit awkward.

This morning, Mel and I went to the church that we have been attending the past several weeks. After the service, there we met with someone about becoming members. We got a tour of the building and got a lot of information about the church. It seems like a very nice place.

After eating lunch, Mel and I went to Iowa City and Coralville to shop for maternity clothes for Mel. Our shopping trip was successful.


Star Trek Meets Monty Python

This video I found on YouTube is hilarious! It combines footage from Star Trek with the
of "Knights of the Round Table" song from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Check it out.


Thank Goodness Tomorrow Is Friday!

I am so glad tomorrow is Friday. This has seemed like a very long week for some reason. I am so glad the weekend is almost here. Except for a few minutes before I fall asleep, I haven't seen Mel since Sunday. This has been the one in four weeks that she has to work until 11:30 P.M. Thankfully, she's going to work a little earlier tomorrow so she will be getting home from work before I go to bed. This weekend is pretty busy though. On Saturday we have the birthday party for the son of a friend of Mel's to go to. Then in the evening, I am getting together with some friends for Captain Creative's birthday celebration.

Just One Month to Go

I'm glad we have just over one month until Election Day on November 7. I am getting so sick of the political ads on TV. So few of them seem to be positive ads about a candidate. They are almost exclusively attack ads. And would someone please tell me why the ads against Bruce Braley use the word "liberal" as if it were a dirty word? And oh my goodness, Bruce Braley is a "peace candidate." The horror!


What Day Is It?

Ok, something must be wrong with my mind. When I got home from work today, I was sure that tomorrow was garbage day. Our garbage is picked up on Friday, not Thursday, so apparently I can't keep my days straight. This is the second week in a row when I thought the week should be over before it was. So, when I spoke with Mel on the phone tonight - she's at work - I said something about taking out the garbage. She then asked me why I took out the garbage tonight already since it's only Wednesday. Needless to say, I felt pretty ridiculous then. So, I quickly brought the garbage, recycling, and yard waste back from the curb, hoping that none of the neighbors had seen what their crazy neighbor had done.


More Stuff for eBay

In cleaning out the closet in our basement, I have found more things to sell on eBay. I haven't taken the time to get them ready yet, but I have quite a few Star Wars and Star Trek magazines that I am going to try to sell. From looking at completed auctions on eBay, it looks like they have a fair chance of selling. I also have quite a few old Star Trek calendars that also seem to be selling. I also have several comic books that I may try to sell. With all of this stuff, I may be pretty busy with eBay for the next few weeks.

Gas Prices

Gas prices in Cedar Rapids have finally dipped below $2 per gallon. On our drive home from work yesterday the price for a gallon of gas had dipped to $1.999. Now if the price would just keep falling, say to maybe around $1.50. Oh I know that's unlikely to happen, but it would be nice. If gas prices continue to fall, maybe I can stop car pooling to work as much. I do like the benefits of sharing a ride - I put fewer miles on my car, I spend less on gas, and I save gas - but I also like the freedom of being able to go in early or stay late if I need to. Also, I can then listen to what I want to on the radio without bothering others. I'm pretty sure I'll be continuing to car pool for a while though as it does save money. But sometimes, it's nice to drive alone.


A Funny SNL Sketch? You Tell Me.

The new season of Saturday Night Live debuted on Saturday night. Now I, as well as many others, am of the opinion that Saturday Night Live just hasn't been that funny in recent years. However, I did find this one sketch poking fun of the TSA to be funny. I was actually laughing out loud. Now I should have turned off the TV after that, because the rest of the show pretty much sucked. Anyway, I'd like to know if anyone else actually thinks this is funny.

Trip to Waterloo

Mel and I visited my mother last night in Waterloo. We drove up there because my mother had a few things she needed done in the house that she could not do on her own and I'm guessing that she's tired of having her brother-in-law come over whenever there is something that needs to be done. Basically, I just had to help her move a couple of dressers upstairs and remove a birds nest that was on the outside her condo. We had a nice visit and had a good dinner at Beck's in Waterloo.

Being in Waterloo for the evening made me think of some of the things that I like better about the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area better than about Cedar Rapids. Now when my family moved to Waterloo at the beginning of my senior year of high school, there was absolutely nothing positive that I could see in my new hometown, but having lived there for nearly two years recently, I discovered that the Cedar Valley has a lot to offer. One thing I miss is the restaurants. Oh sure, there are plenty of places to eat here in Cedar Rapids, but I miss a lot of the locally owned restaurants in Waterloo and Cedar Falls. I'm sure there are some really good locally owned restaurants here, but I just haven't found them yet. Also, the bike trail system in the Cedar Valley is fantastic. The trails in Cedar Rapids are adequate, but kind of boring. There just aren't that many paved trails here. Of course, there are things I like better about Cedar Rapids as well, but a lot of that is based on childhood memories from when I grew up here. Maybe we should just move someplace completely different. Las Vegas comes to mind.

(Just kidding Mel and Anna. I don't plan on moving anywhere anytime soon.)


Being a Nosy Neighbor

I just got back home from checking out my neighbor's house. A for-sale sign went up in their yard of a house across the street from us a few weeks ago, just days after one went up at the house next door to ours. The next door neighbor's house sold within the wekend, but the house across the street is still for sale. I decided to check out the open house to see what their house is like. It is priced significantly higher than what our house is valued at and what the next-door neighbor's house sold for. I have to say that the house is beautifully decorated. The Realtor, who recognized me as a neighbor, told me that the owner finished painting the day the house went on the market. Apparently, they are wanting to move because they are expecting a second child and would like to move to a neighborhood with more young children. I told the Realtor that we too were expecting a child, so there would be some more children in the neighborhood soon enough.

I spoke with the Realtor for a little while, while I was there, she told me about my next-door neighbor and her selling her house. The Realtor told me that the lady is crazy! She allegedly threatened her husband with a gun. I had heard this from another neighbor, so I'd believe it. She told me that the reason that house sold so fast was that someone in the neighborhood bought it for a child of theirs and his or her spouse. She thinks that the couple may be expecting a child as well. If this is true, it would be great because our child would have someone in the neighborhood about his or her age to play with. And if the neighbor across the street ends up staying, there will be yet another child our child's age.


Got My License

... to teach, that is. Now that I am no longer teaching, I no longer really need a teaching license. However, as I work in test development, my employer likes to be able to say that they have licensed teachers in the position that I am in, and as they will reimburse me the $85 fee for renewing it, I might as well keep it current. Now I am licensed to teach in the state of Iowa through October 2011! Besides, if I ever return to teaching, and I don't mean to imply that I am thinking about it, it would be nice to have a valid teaching license.

Cleaning Out the Closet

This morning I have set myself to the task of cleaning out the closet on our basement. Since we have moved into our house in April of last year, there have been several boxes of junk in the closet in our basement. Now that we are finding the need to make one of our spare bedrooms upstairs into a nursery, we need to find places to put some of the things there, so the junk in the basement closet has to go. Now I just have to find a place to store all of the spare cables and phone cords that I removed from the boxes.


An Eclectic Mix

An interesting mix of music came up on my iPod this morning. The first song was Belle from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. That was followed by the 1992-dance tune Rhythm is a Dancer by Snap! The music then changed into Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire. It was then that my iPod made a complete 180 by following the Bach cantata with Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up. I don't know how that song could have been any more different from the one before it, unless of course something from the 2 Live Crew followed it.


Change at Work

Ok, it's really not anything too interesting, but I had my cubicle at work reconfigured today. Whoopee! Now instead of facing the corner away from the entrance to my cubicle, I am not facing the corner next to the entrance. Now I can see people as they approach. This is especially helpful when someone comes to talk to me when I am listening to my iPod. Now I know they are trying to talk to me, so I can turn it off. I like my cubicle's new arrangement, but it will take a little getting used to. Everything is backwards from how it was before.


My Birthday

It's not my birthday yet, that comes later next month, but I really do not like the time that leads up to my birthday. One thing I find annoying is that people tell me I shouldn't be buying anything as my birthday approaches. Then to make matters worse, after my birthday, it's just a couple months until Christmas, so I am still not supposed to buy anything. I wanted to buy the new Weird Al Yankovic CD that came out yesterday. I suppose I can wait until after my birthday. If I don't get it then, I may buy it before Christmas. I have plenty of other things people can get me as Christmas gifts after all.


Off the Wagon

Well, I didn't stay committed to my diet for very long. Last week I didn't really keep track of what I ate, except on Monday. It wasn't too bad though. I only gained four-tenths of a pound. I am going to try better this week.


Determining the Baby's Sex

Yesterday, just for fun, Mel looked at a chart online that is supposed to predict our baby's sex based on her age and the month of conception. Apparently, the chart comes from a tomb in China where is was buried for 700 years and is supposed to be 93 percent accurate. I think the rate of accuracy is probably a bit closer to 50 percent though. Anyway, according to the chart, we are going to be having a girl. However, in looking a bit this morning, I found a similar chart that says we'll be having a boy. I guess we'll find out in a little over six months.


Slow Day At Work

Yesterday was a busy, but slow day at work. The day seemed to just drag on and on. I suppose that is because I spent the better part of seven hours reviewing fifth-grade math test questions and to make things easier, the items were arranged by the content they were assessing. That made the items seem a bit repetitive, although they were all completely unique. It also didn't help that the people who sit immediately around me in the office were all out. This week seemed pretty long.


The Kansas City Ren Fest Revisited

As I blogged about a couple weeks ago, Mel and I recently took a short vacation to Kansas City where we attended the thirtieth annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival. One of the reasons we went there was so Mel could see her favorite pirate band, the Jolly Rogers. I think Mel likes them because of the guy in the red tights. (Just kidding Mel.) I have now found some video of their performance on YouTube and am posting it here for your viewing pleasure.

This first video is of their song "One For the Road."

And this second song is called "Curvy Girls."


The XM Has Returned!

While I was driving to work yesterday morning, I hit one of the preset buttons on my car radio. It was a button that was set to an XM radio station. A few months ago, I called XM because I was still getting free satellite radio which I shouldn't have been getting still. I was afraid that they'd end up sending me a bill. A few weeks after I called, the XM radio stopped working. Well when I tried it yesterday, I found that the XM radio was once again working in my car! Cool! Now I don't plan on listening to it all the time, but it's nice to know it's there, and it's free!


Weight Loss After One Week

After one week of returning to watching what I eat, my weight is down 3.8 pounds. It was a couple pounds lighter before the weekend, but Mel and I ate out twice this past weekend. On Friday we met a coworker of hers at Olive Garden, then on Saturday we went to Bourbon Street, a restaurant in Cedar Falls, where we met Mel's cousin, his parents, and his girlfriend. Both meals were very good, but I think we can keep from dining out this week.


New Truck

Well we bought a new truck yesterday, and it's not black. Mel has insisted on three things about the vehicle she drives.
  1. It has to be a truck.
  2. It has to be a Dodge.
  3. It must be black.

Well, she test drove a couple of trucks. One of them was a black Dodge Dakota and the other was a silver Dodge Ram 1500. She like the feel of the Ram much better, and it was roomier inside. While the Ram was more expensive than the Dakota, there was a better cash-back offer on the Ram, so they ended up being about the same price. So for the first time in quite a while, Mel will be driving a truck that is not black. Personally, I like the silver color better. I think it won't show dirt as well and it does look nice.

When we got the Ram home, we just managed to squeeze it into the garage with about three-quarters of an inch clearance between the top of the truck and the garage door. Today we need to clean out the garage so it fits better lengthwise.


Truck Shopping

Now that Mel and I will be having an addition to our family, we need to look into getting a vehicle with more seating for Mel. Right now she drives a Dodge Dakota with regular cab. Putting a baby seat in the front of the truck isn't ideal. Today we're driving to Des Moines to see her truck guy about getting an extended cab truck. For some reason my wife insists on driving a truck, and it has to be a Dodge. I suppose I can live with that. Now if I can just get her to compromise on the color. She insists that it be black, but I think she's open to negotiate on that issue.


Hayden Fry Endorses Nussle

Hayden Fry is endorsing Jim Nussle's campaign for Iowa governor. Is this really supposed to impress anyone?

I'm Gonna be a Daddy!

I have been waiting to write this blog entry since July 30 when Mel and I found out that she was pregnant. She's eleven weeks along now so we are beginning to tell people outside of our family. Oh, we had each told a few people at work and a couple of close friends, but we're now ready to tell everyone we know. Mel had her first appointment with her actual OB doctor this week. We had previously met with the OB history nurse to supply background information about each of us and to get information about what Mel should and should not be doing. Today we got an ultrasound and received some photos of our baby! According to the sonographer, the due date for our baby is April 6. We are very excited as this is a first child for both of us. He or she is going to be the first grandchild for my mother and the fifth for Mel's parents. My mother was especially excited when we told her last month as I think she was wondering if this day would ever come. Anyway, I'm sure I will have a lot more to write in the future about the baby, but until then, here are a couple of the photos we got today.

Head and Body

A Difficult Time

I hate to write this considering what my next blog posting is going to be, but I feel it is something I need to day. A friend of mine since high school came back to Cedar Rapids from Las Vegas this week to visit her family. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer about a month ago, so in addition to visiting her family for the week, she wanted to help out around the house as well.

Mel and I had planned on getting together with her for dinner some time this week. I hadn't heard from her since she got into town at the beginning of the week, so I called her and left a message for her to call me. Well, last night she gave me a call and I could tell right away that things were not going well. Her mother's doctors initially thought they could remove the cancer surgically, but they then determined that was not possible, so they were going to try chemotherapy instead. She was to begin chemo yesterday, but the doctors realized then that the cancer was too far along to respond to chemo, so it seems like they are out of options. It seems that all they can do now is try to make her comfortable.

I would like to think that I can relate to what my friend is going through since I lost my father about fifteen months ago, but I don't think I can. Her situation is just so different from mine. When my father had his heart attack is was sudden and unexpected. There was a lot of initial shock, but then we had to deal with the fact that he was gone. In my friend's case, her mother is still here and all her family can do is wait. Despite my father's passing, I can not begin to understand how my friend must be feeling right now. I just hope she and her family can find a way to cope with what is happening with them. Of course, I'll be here to offer any support I can.


Elect a Pirate to Congress

I was looking at the Cedar Rapids Gazette's voter guide online the other day when I came across an interesting candidate for Iowa's first congressional district. The candidate's name is James Hill and the party he is identified as belonging to is Pirate! On his website, he claims to be the only drunken pirate seeking office in the U.S. I have to day that I don't doubt that one bit. And I have to say that is quite a shame. If there is one thing our government needs more of, it's pirates. They certainly couldn't do any worse of a job than some of our current elected officials. Of course, if the pirates then decided to plunder our booty by raising taxes too much, then I'd have a problem with it. Other than that, a pirate congress could be fun to watch.


Weight Loss

I have started watching what I eat again. This includes increasing the amount of exercise I get. Once again I am using the Weight Watchers program to watch what I eat. I'm not going to the meetings though, I am just using the books that we have at home. My goal is to lose thirty pounds. I plan on adding something to the sidebar of my blog to track my progress. Since I won't weigh in until Monday, don't expect to see anything until then.

Extended Weekend Vacation

I hope no one has been concerned about my recent absence of blogging, but Mel and I started our weekend early on Thursday, taking a trip to Kansas City. Our drive to our hotel was fairly uneventful until we got to downtown Kansas City, Missouri. It was there that our directions from Map Quest failed us. We did end up finding our hotel, a Holiday Inn in Overland Park, Kansas, without too much difficulty though.

When we got to the hotel we were disappointed to find that the pool was closed for repairs. What was especially disappointing about this was that I booked the hotel on Travelocity. They have a commercial where they warn some people that the hotel pool at the hotel they have booked has been closed. Now where was that damn gnome to let us know our pool was out of service. Anyway, we survived the weekend without the pool.

On Friday we went to the Kansas City Zoo. Going to the zoo on a weekday after Labor Day had the advantage of making the zoo a lot less crowded. There just weren't that many people around. However, because it was less busy, many of the food service areas were not open. I think there were only two places in the zoo where we could get food. We had a good time looking at the animals. The Kansas City Zoo is nice, but personally I like the Omaha Zoo better.

On Saturday we went to the thirtieth annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival in Bonner Springs. This was the main reason we chose to go to Kansas City for a vacation. We had a lot of fun wandering around the grounds all day. We had considered going to the Twin Cities to the renaissance festival up there, but we chose Kansas City instead so Mel could see a band she likes, the Jolly Rogers. The photo below shows her with the band.

Mel and the Jolly Rogers
The only photo we took of me on this trip was with the SPAM Mobile which was parked outside the gates to the ren fest. What was really ironic was that I was wearing the SPAM T-shirt that I had purchased at the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota, this past spring. This is one of three SPAM Mobiles that roam the United States promoting SPAM (the luncheon meat, not the junk email). People all over the festival were commenting on my shirt, many of them singing Monty Python's SPAM song.

Aaron and the Spam Mobile