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


A Short Work Week

I went back to work today after the extended weekend, but it's going to be a very short week for me. Tomorrow is my last day of work for the week. Mel and I are each using some of our vacation time this week. She had to work the past eight days straight, so it's good that she's going to have about a week off now.

This morning when I was at work, I got a phone call from a friend and former coworker of mine. It was someone I taught with at Highland Junior/Senior High School in Riverside, Iowa, a few years ago. She is taking a graduate class and needed to interview a teacher or someone who was recently a teacher, so she called me up. She needed to ask someone about a school they taught at, so I told her about my experiences at Waterloo West High School. The questions were mainly about the attitudes that students, staff, and parents have toward the school, the administration, and the counseling staff. Some of the replies dealing with student attitudes reminded me of why I decided to leave teaching. Anyway, I hadn't seen her in a while so it was nice to get together. She, her husband (who works for the same company that I do), and I all ate lunch at Bob's Your Uncle in Iowa City. The past few times I have been there, the service has been terrible, but it was better today. I still don't think I would go there if I wanted a quick lunch though.


I Am Chewbacca

I took this same quiz in May last year and I ended up being C-3PO then. I have to say that I wasn't too thrilled with that. Well today I decided to retake the quiz to see if my Star Wars personality has changed to someone else, and it has.

Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Labor Day Lunch

I just got back home from having lunch with my good friend Homercles. As we often do, we went to the Metro Buffet for some fine Chinese buffet food and for the variety of freshly made sushi. I always end up walking away from that place with too much food in my belly, and today was no exception. Besides enjoying the food, it's always nice to catch up on what's going on with Homercles. After our meal, we took a trip to Target to do a little shopping. Wandering around the Super Target was probably just what we needed after stuffing ourselves at the buffet.


New Blog

I just started a new blog to showcase my Yoda collection. It's not completely up to date at the moment. Hopefully I will be able to get to that in the next month or so. Maybe I'll get it all done tomorrow, but don't hold your breath for that.

Today in Church

I really shouldn't be doing this, gossiping about someone in church, but I am going to anyway. Today at church, a couple walked in a couple minutes late. That really isn't an issue. People arrive late to church all the time. What I saw this morning that surprised me was the the man in the couple was carrying in a large Styrofoam cup of coffee from a local convenience store! I have never seen anyone bring beverages to church, except for maybe something for a young child to drink. What's next? Maybe people will begin bringing soft drinks and popcorn to keep them occupied during the service.

Comment Problems

I was talking with Homercles on the phone last night and he mentioned that he had a problem leaving a comment on my blog. After a little investigation, I discovered that this is a known issue with Blogger in Beta. Apparently, users who haven't switched to the beta version can not currently leave a comment while logged in as themselves. They can however select Other or Anonymous and then leave a comment.


One Final Posting for Today

It's going to look like I spent all day on my computer, but that really isn't the case. I actually got quite a bit done around the house today after getting the car's oil changed. My wife got home from work a little while ago, but she was tired and is taking a nap. As there isn't much to watch on TV, I've been checking out videos on YouTube. I was looking through a search of Leonard Nimoy when I came upon this video by a rap group called Lords of the Rhymes. This group apparently gets most of the material for their music from The Lord of the Rings. I have tried downloading the MP3s of their songs from their website, but I keep getting an error. For now, I guess I'll just have to settle for the video of their song "The Lords of the Rhymes." Beware, there is explicit language in the video. So make sure the little kiddies aren't around.

The Fields Medal

Last month, mathematician Grigori Perelman turned down the Fields Medal, which is a prestigous award in mathematics. He won the medal for his proof of the Poincaré conjecture. I'm not going to attempt to explain the conjecture. Instead, this video of Steven Colbert should do the trick.

Answers to iPod Songs Quiz from Thursday

I have posted the answers to Thursday's list of iPod Songs in the comments section of that posting. So, if you want to know the answers, check it out.

Good Morning

I am writing this post to my blog from the waiting area of Saturn of Cedar Rapids. The change oil light on my VUE came on late last week, so here I am getting the oil changed and the tires rotated. Later today, I need to take my snowblower into a Toro dealer so I can get it checked out. Fortunately, that won't cost me anything as it's getting repaired due to a recall on the gas tank. I figure that is something that should be fixed before winter arrives. This will be my first winter using this snowblower. It was my parents', but my mom moved into a condo a few months ago and snow removal is provided, so she had no need for it anymore. This was pretty good timing as the snowblower I had been using started falling apart last winter. By the end of the winter, one of the wheels had fallen off! It never worked too well for me. The machine was fifteen years old. My parents had given it to me when they bought their new one in 2003.

I hope everyone likes the new layout of the blog. Besides chosing a new template for the blog, I did a little tweaking to the HTML code to make some other adjustments. It just didn't look the way I wanted it to. I haven't added the Photo of the Week yet. I haven't decided if I am going to keep doing that or not. I may just post photos periodically. Besides, I hadn't been doing too good of a job at getting them up weekly. There may be a few other changes to the content of the sidebar, but I don't know what yet. I was going to work on it some here at the Saturn dealership, but the keyboard on this computer isn't too good, making it harder to type. Also, this computer is running Red Hat Linux and the Blogger Beta doesn't seem to completely support the Mozilla web broswer with this operating system. I'll probably work on it after doing a few household chores once I get home.


Blog Changes

I am going to be making some changes to my blog this weekend. First of all, I am changing my profile photo to a drawing of myself. I feel like I am copying Homercles by using a similarly designed character, but I don't think he'll mind. I tried to get the photo to look as much like my photo as I could. I didn't include the drink, but that's alright.

Old Photo

New Drawing

I've also considered starting fresh by clearing out all of my old blog entries, but I think I have decided against doing that. I can't think of any reason why I should remove the old blog entries. The new ones won't be much different from what I've already posted, so those will all remain.

I may change the general layout of my blog, so don't be surprised if you come back next week and see a completely different-looking blog.