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."