Blogger Beta

I just moved my blog to Blogger Beta. I haven't looked at it enough yet to take advantage of any of its features. I may work on that some time this weekend. So far, everything seems pretty much the same, although the interface is slightly different.

iPod Songs

After hearing a song for the twenty-fourth time today on my iPod, I decided I would list the songs that have been played most frequently on my iPod. However, instead of listing the songs my name, I am going to list the first line or two of each song. Can you name the songs and the artists or where they are from? No cheating! I don't want anyone Googling the lyrics to find out the title. If the title of the song, or part of the titleof the song, appears in the first line or two, I will replace it with a blank. Please be aware, there may be some obscene lyrics below.

1. Played 24 times:
If he was here right now,
He'd make a plan
And he'd follow through,
That's what __________.

2. Played 17 times:
One two three uh!
My baby don't mess around
Because she loves me so
And this I know for shooo..

3. Played 16 times:
Woo Hoo Hooooo?
Woo hoo wooooo!
Debbie just hit the wall
She never had it all

4. Played 15 times:
My gift is my __________
And this one's for you
And you can tell everybody
That this is __________

5. Played 14 times:
Coming again, to save the mother __________ day yeah
Freedom is the only way yeah

There is a for-way tie for sixth place.
6a. Played 12 times:
I know there's something in the wake of your smile.
I get a notion from the look in your eyes, yea.

6b. Played 12 times:
Fuck, fuck, fuck
Motha motha fuck
Motha motha fuck fuck

6c. Played 12 times:
God has smiled upon you this day.
The fate of a nation in your hands.

6d. Played 12 times:
I get up, and nothing gets me down.
You got it tough. I've seen the toughest around.

Finally, there is a two-way tie for tenth place.
10a. Played 11 times:
Never knew I could feel like this
Like I've never seen the sky before

10b. Played 11 times:
Ladies and Gentlemen
As you know we have something special for you
At Birdland this evening
A recording for Blue Note Records

So, if you know what these songs are, write a comment with the titles.


I Never Thought I'd Do This...

but I am now posting a YouTube video on my blog. Here is one person's response to Stephen Colbert's Jedi Video Editing challenge.


I found this quiz through Sara's blog. Of course, there were a few questions that none of the answers really fit me, such as the one about the state fair. I know about it, but I've never been. And what about the Hawkeyes or Cyclones question? The answer Panthers was missing!

You have 81% Iowa in you!

Nice score! Are you embarrassed or proud of being so much Iowa? I would be proud, it's great being so closely tied to the Hawkeye State.

Do you have Iowa in you?

Dress Code

We got a reminder at work today that this Friday is the last day we can wear shorts to work for the year. The dress code in our building allows us to wear shorts between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Because of this, I am going to take advantage of the final two days of shorts-wearing season no matter what the weather is like. Then after Friday it will be 269 days until I can wear shorts to work again. Of course, I can get around that rule if I work at home for a day. Heck, then I don't even have to get dressed at all!


Exercising Again

I haven't gotten much exercise since completing RAGBRAI one month ago today. So tonight I got on the elliptical trainer for a workout. I had planned on exercising for twenty minutes, but the phone rang with three minutes remaining in my workout. It was my wife. So I talked to her for a bit on the phone. I didn't end up finishing the last three minutes of the workout. Tomorrow night I plan on going back to the Bowflex. If I can get back into a pattern of exercising most nights, I should be able to get in better shape and shed a few more pounds.

On My Own

Mel is working second shift this week, so I am stuck home alone to fend for myself in the evening. During this week I'll hardly get to see her. I usually try to call her from work some time in the morning, but we can't talk long since I am working. She'll call me in the evening as well. I usually try to stay up to see her when she gets home from work shortly before midnight, but I barely made it last night. I'll probably be asleep before she gets home tonight. She also has to work this upcoming weekend. At the end of next week, Mel and I will be going on a vacation to Kansas City. We plan on going to the zoo and to the Renaissance Festival. Mel's been to the renaissance festival before with her friend Heather. It should be a fun, extended weekend.


Who's the Idiot?

One of my pet peeves is signs that have incorrect spelling, grammar, or punctuation. One of the punctuation errors that I see quite often is the inappropriate usage of apostrophes. Here is one example of such an error. In this case, Marge Trowbridge, a supporter of President Bush, is holding a sign that says, "HELP! I'M→SuRRounded By Idiot's!" I noticed that she chose to use an apostrophe with the s, indicating that something belongs to an idiot. Of course, she means "Idiots" without an apostrophe. What's really ironic about this sign is that in trying to call others idiots, she pointed out her own ignorance regarding the correct usage of punctuation. Don't get me started on the use of the arrow. I don't know what the hell she's trying to accomplish with that.

Trying Out Another Church

Yesterday morning, Mel and I tried another church. This is the second that the two of us have gone to together since moving to Cedar Rapids last year. I went to another on my own on Easter, but that church isn't for us. Anyway, we went from trying a church with a very small congregation to what is probably the largest church in town of the type we are looking for. I have to say that I did like this church. It was big enough that we can blend in with everyone else if we want to and they have four services every week, three on Sunday, so we will have some choices about when to go. I'm not sure if we'll be checking out any other churches or not before we make a decision, but I think this may be the one.


Kernels Game

Cedar Rapids KernelsMel and I went to a Cedar Rapids Kernels game last night. This was actually the first time I had ever been to a Kernels game. I had been to plenty of Cedar Rapids Reds games, but I hadn't attended any games at Veterans Memorial Stadium since the team was renamed the Kernels in 1993.

The reason we went was that my company was offering tickets to the game at a discounted price. These tickets included unlimited food and drinks through the seventh inning. So it was a pretty good deal. What I didn't realize until I went to get food though, was that the selection of food available at no additional cost was limited to hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, popcorn, and peanuts. We also had a selection of Bud Light or Miller Light as well as a fairly good selection of sodas. What Mel really wanted was nachos, so at one point during the game, I ended up wandering around the stadium to get her some. Our seats were in the Randy Kuehl Honfidence Pavilion behind the left field wall. It provided a different view than what I have been used to in going to baseball games. Most of the time we went when I was a kid, we sat along the first base line. Anyway, we had a good time watching the Kernels beat the Beloit Snappers 4 to 1.


Strange Encounters at Hy-Vee

Last night Mel had some coworkers, a former coworker, and the friend of the former coworker over. After chatting for a bit, we got around to ordering some pizza a little after 8:00. Well, we didn’t have a whole lot in the house to drink, so on our way to get the pizza, Mel’s coworkers Anita (who is a former student of mine), Penny (Anita’s sister), and I went to Hy-Vee to get some beverages and ice cream. While we were trying to decide which type of beer to purchase, two men approached us and tried to help us make a decision. One of them grabbed a bottle of beer from the shelf and started plugging the beer—one that included chocolate as an ingredient—as if he was a representative of the company! This was a bit odd. Eventually he and his partner started to walk off when they struck up a conversation with another man—one who was wearing a University of Georgia shirt bearing just the G logo of the school.

The man who promoted the chocolate beer said, “Go Bulldogs,” as the older man in the red University of Georgia shirt passed. The older man then said that he only bought the shirt because it was cheap. In fact, he had bought it quite recently and this was the first time he had worn it. The chocolate beer guy was apparently the first person who had recognized the shirt as representing the University of Georgia Bulldogs. The older man then told us that he says it’s a Green Bay Packers shirt for the color blind. Anyway, the other two men left and we were stuck in a conversation now with this other man. Meanwhile, we still had not picked out a type of beer to drink. Penny then indicated that she’d drink anything, except for Guinness. This new guy than said that he literally would drink any beer since he collects beer labels. He had recently been to some beer festival in Madison, Wisconsin. At this point we quickly picked up a six-pack of beer—Killian’s Irish Red—so we could get out of the Hy-Vee and get to Pizza Hut to get our pizzas.

Running into strange people when buying beer at Hy-Vee wouldn't have surprised me too much if it had been later at night, but it was only 8:30!

Rebecca the Liberal Pirate

Rebecca's pirate birthday cakeMy sister, Rebecca, emailed me this photo of her with her birthday cake; her birthday was earlier this month. As I haven’t changed my Photo of the Week in quite some time, thus making the title “Photo of the Week” somewhat inaccurate, I am going to make this photo this week’s Photo of the Week. I’ll try to change it next week, but who knows.

Anyway, Rebecca—who turned thirty this year—and her friends like to decorate a cake for her each year. I am assuming that was this case this year as well. So here’s my sister, wearing a Liberal T-shirt with her cake bearing the message “Happy Birthday RRRrrrr!” The Rs not only relate to the sound that pirates make, but also can be thought of as representing Rebecca.

Violent Video Games = Free Speech?

A judge in Lousisiana has blocked a state law that bans the sales of violent video games to minors claiming that the law violates free speech rights? Four other states have had similar laws blocked on the same constitutional grounds. I don't understand this. So a video game is speech? What about movies? Can the government prevent minors from seeing or buying movies just because they are violent. Several months ago, my wife and I, who are both in our thirties, had our IDs checked before we went to the R-rated movie A History of Violence. There were no sexual themes in this movie. It was simply very violent. Why did the theater need to verify our ages. If we had been minors, wouldn't the free speech rights of the movie company have been violated if they couldn't get their message across to minors? What about Playboy magazine. Why isn't prohibiting their sale to minors also a violation of the First Amendment? I guess it will be completely up to parents to monitor what video games their children play, not that I think they shouldn't be, but keeping minors from buying some video games would make things a little easier for parents.


Damn You IAU!

Ok, I don't really wish to damn the International Astronomical Union, but they sure caused me some inconvenience at work today. Who would have ever thought that a decision by a group of astronomers would cause me any problems whatsoever? Of course I am referring to the whole demotion in the status of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet. I can't go into details due to confidentiality issues, but we had to make some very last minute changes to ensure scientific accuracy in one of the products we produce where I work. The item is now immune to any additional meddling by the IAU.


Back to Work

I went back to work today after staying home sick for two days. I'm feeling quite a bit better than I was earlier in the week, although I wouldn't say that I'm back at 100%. Hopefully once I complete my course of antibiotics, I'll be feeling as good as I usually do. It didn't seem like my being gone for the past two days created much additional work for others. That's good as I would have felt bad if it had done so. I even had a piece of birthday cake waiting for me upon my return to work. The cake was from a coworker's fiftieth birthday party which was Monday.


A Visit from the Plumber

Last week I mentioned that we had some plumbing problems at home. Well, the plumber just left and I am very pleased with the service. The bill wasn't nearly as bad as I was fearing it would be. He even fixed a couple other things while he was here. After he called his office to find the price to charge me, he asked me if anyone in my family was a teacher because the name was familiar to him. I didn't think he was referring to me, so I mentioned that my dad was an orchestra teacher. The plumber was a percussionist at Kennedy High School in the late 70s and early 80s when my dad taught there and had him as a teacher for symphony orchestra. It still seems like I can't go places without running into people who knew my dad.

Still at Home

I stayed home from work again today. I just didn't feel well enough to go to work. I am feeling a bit better now, so I will be back at work tomorrow which is good, since I hate having to have others pick up for work that I should be doing. I spent much of this morning sleeping, then I watched the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner from Sunday night. It was pretty funny, but it seemed that a lot of the jokes focused on George Takei's recent coming out as being gay. One more thing I have to say about the Roast is that Andy Dick is quite bizarre, licking the faces of Farrah Fawcett and Carrie Fisher, and attempting to lick Nichelle Nichols as well.


Sick Day

I'm staying home sick from work today. This is the first time I have used a sick day since spring 2003. I just find that I am not sick too often, at least not enough to stay home from work. Either that, or I'm always sick on a non-work day, which is such a waste of a day to be sick. I must say that calling in sick to work is a bit less of a hassle now that I am not teaching. It seems that it is more work to get ready for a sub than it would be to just go to work and deal with feeling like crap all day. That said, I don't have any plans on calling in sick for work more often now just because it's less convenient. If I were still teaching, I'd be staying home today as well.

Now I am sitting at home waiting for a call from my doctor's nurse so I can schedule an appointment today. I'll be seeing a new doctor for the first time today. On my previous visit earlier this year for a physical, I found out that the doctor I was seeing, also for the first time, was leaving the practice there to work for a local hospital in a different role. So my second trip to this doctors' office will be to see a second doctor.



So the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program has been ruled illegal by a district judge. This ruling will of course be appealed. I'm sure it will end up going all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. It's very possible that this program is helping in the "war on terror" but the president is not above the law. If this program is helping, he needs to find a way to make this program comply with the law. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows for warrants after the fact, but if this is not enough, he needs to get his minions in Congress to pass laws allowing this warrantless wiretapping.


A Leisurely Drive

Our meetings here in Minnesota were scheduled to finish up today, however we worked at a quicker pace than anticipated and we wrapped up our meetings yesterday afternoon. We considered returning to Iowa last night, but by the time everyone was done it would have been at least 11:00 before we got home. Besides, it was too late to check out of the hotel without being charged for the night and to top it off, I wasn't feeling the best, having a headache and pressure in my head. As I was going to be the one driving, we decided we might as well stay the night and leave in the morning. I really prefer this as it will be light during the entire drive home. The four-and-a-half-hour drive, not including stops, feels quite long when it is dark most of the way. And after working a full day, it is very tiring. So I will be having breakfast in the hotel restaurant this morning before taking off for home.


IDed for Drugs

I just had my ID checked for the first time for buying over-the-counter medications. I've been kind of achy the past few days. Besides that, I've had a bit of a headache and my head has felt a bit stuffy, so this evening I left my hotel to go to Target to buy some medication. I ended up buying Aleve Cold & Sinus which contains pseudoephedrine. I was hoping that having an out-of-state driver’s license wouldn’t cause any problems, and it did not. I of course understand the purpose for the pharmacist’s recording of my personal information and I completely support it. If this helps to make it harder to produce methamphetamine, I am happy to comply.


Why Do Things Happen When I'm Gone?

I am once again in Minnesota for a few days for work. This evening when I called home, my wife told me that there is a small leak into the bathroom in the basement. It seems like things like this only happen when I am out of town for work. It doesn't sound too serious for the moment, so hopefully repairs can hold off until I return later in the week.

On a somewhat related topic, yesterday I got a phone call from the company which provided our home warranty for the first year we were in the house. They tried to get me to renew the service, but I declined. I am beginning to regret that right now.


Time for Bed

I have not stayed up this late in quite a while. I'm usually in bed by 10:00 at the absolute latest. This past week though, I was staying up until just before midnight so I could see Mel as she worked second shift this week. Yesterday after work she went to Ankeny to help her sister with a garage sale for the weekend. She will be returning tomorrow afternoon. So, how did I spend my Friday night without my wife? Did I go out with friends? No. I put up a curtain rod and cellular shades. Then to make the evening even more fun, I just spent the past three and one half hours checking over test items for work. This task is due on Monday, but late Monday morning, I will be leaving to office to head for Minnesota for a few days for work.

I timed my work really well tonight. After watching Match Game on GSN, I put Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith into the DVD player to watch. And just as I am finishing writing this blog entry, the credits are drawing to a close. So good night everyone!


Do They Think I'm Stupid?

One of the credit cards I use regularly is my Discover Card. I like their Cashback Bonus. One of the things I like about it is the ability to get my $20 cash bonus as a gift card worth more than $20. One offer they have is to get a $25 Red Lobster/Olive Garden gift card for $20 worth of cash bonuses, but that's not all, they also offer a $45 card for $40 in bonuses. Maybe some people would go for that, but only people who can't do simple arithmetic. Why not get 2 $25 gift cards for $20 each?



I was reading the crime log in the newspaper this morning and I discovered that a house just around the corner from our house was burglarized last week. Now the log doesn't provide any additional details besides the address, so I don't know if the thieves got away with much or not. I suppose it could have been as simple as someone stealing something from an unlocked garage. Of course, it could have been much more. You can bet that I am going to be certain that my doors and windows are all locked. Of course I keep them locked all the time anyway.


eBay Auctions

Please excuse me for this little advertisement, but I have just listed some Star Trek: The Next Generation Galoob action figures for sale on eBay. I'm guessing that my regular readers really wouldn't care to buy these, but I thought it would be worth a shot. However, if you are interested in action figures of Jean-Luc Picard, William Riker, Geordi LaForge, Data, Tasha Yar, Worf, or a Selay alien or a die-cast Starship Enterprise please feel free to follow the links to eBay and place a bid.

I have about twenty or so Playmates action figures from all of the various Star Trek series as well, but they don't seem to be getting any bids on eBay. My wife is going to help her sister with a garage sale next weekend. Perhaps she can take them along there to sell.


No More XM

This morning I was driving to Ankeny for my niece's birthday party. After listening to some music on my iPod, I decided to switch to the XM satellite radio. Unfortunately, the XM radio in my Saturn is no longer functioning. I had called several weeks ago to let them know that I didn't want to continue the service beyond my free trial. However after that call, I still received the service. I guess they finally got around to shutting it down. That's alright. It was nice to listen to, but I guess I can live with the regular radio, CDs, and my iPod which can be plugged directly into the stereo.

New Photo of the Week

Sandals Grande Ocho RiosI haven't changed the photo of the week in quite some time, so I figured I'd do it this morning. The new photo of the week is from Mel's and my vacation to Jamaica this past June. It shows Mel and myself at a restaurant at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios, overlooking the beach below.


Whoop Dee Freakin' Doo!

Tomorrow and Saturday are the days of Iowa's back-to-school tax free days. Calling them tax free days, as many stores do, is a bit misleading. The only things that are sold without sales tax, in addition to things that normally do not have sales tax, are articles of clothing priced at under $100. This sounds like it could be a really good deal, but the savings don't necessarily add up to all that much. In locations where the sales tax rate is 5%, buying clothes tax free results in a net savings of about 4.8% (not 5% as some journalists would have you believe). Instead of paying $105 for a $100 purchase, the final price would be just $100, a savings of $5 out of $105, which is slightly less than 5%. Anyway, I wonder how many people would rush out to a store if they were having a sale where clothes was a whole 4.8% off, or even 6.5% (the amount of savings in parts of the state where sales tax is 7%) off.

Now I have bought clothing on the so called tax-free weekend before, only to find store have better sales the next weekend when sales tax was again being charged. By buying clothes during the tax-free weekend, I actually ended up spending more money than I would have if I had waited a week. I guess the feeling of sticking it to the state is appealing to some, but I for one would look for the better deal.


Happy Happy

I am really happy right now. I finally have the speed from my DSL connection that I should have had all along. I called Qwest yesterday to complain about the slow speed of my connection. It was no faster than a dial-up Internet connection. A technician came out this afternoon and fixed the problem. Now I am cruising on the net.

Also, our new windows (the glass kind, not the Microsoft kind) were installed in our house. They should help with the heating and cooling bills as they have a higher R-value than our old leaky windows. They also block noise better than the old windows did. Now we just need to get some new window coverings for the new windows. Hopefully our rebate from the gas company will cover much of that cost.