My birthday

I turned 35 yesterday. My dear and loving wife made the day excellent. I was told happy birthday by many friends on Facebook and by family on the phone. We had Logan's Roadies for lunch/supper after sleeping obscenely late. Overall it was a great day.


Ami was cleaning out one of our closets the other day and laying at the bottom of the closet was Sunny. He was one of my favorite stuffed animals as a kid. I carried him everywhere, as you can probably tell. He's a big part of so many of my first childhood memories.

Mama had to patch him up several times and he's still a little "leaky" with stuffing. I lost count of how many times his eyes had to be reattached. He used to be kind of terrycloth but I wore so much of that off. He's in need of some more repairs. I need to get one of his ears back onto his head fully and seal up a couple of leaky places.

September 11th 2001

We were on our way to work. We were running late that day and I had just dropped Ami off at her office. I was going around the Medical Center when a report came over the radio saying that a plane had hit the North Tower at the World Trade Center in New York City. I called Ami and she had just heard about it as well from one of the doctors she worked with on the elevator up to the office. I told her that it must have been an accident like when that plane hit the Empire State Building in 1945. I imagined the plane to be something small, a general aviation type plane.

I was coming into the office and my boss at the time had gotten a TV and had it showing live coverage. Then the second plane hit and we knew it wasn't an accident. My boss was crying and was getting hysterical because she had a friend that worked in one of the Towers and she didn't know if she was alright. She called her repeatedly and couldn't get her.

All of us gathered around the TV and just couldn't believe what we were seeing. I called Ami and by that time they had a TV going with coverage, too. We were all stunned and just couldn't say anything. This is the first time war had come to mainland American soil in over 100 years. All I remember thinking was "Why?"

Rumors were flying that there were many hijacked planes but no one knew how many. We wondered if our hospital was going to be hit that day since it was a big building. Everyone was jumpy wondering what was next. The next few days and weeks turned into a blur of fear, anxiety, and anger.

I had given my notice on 9/10/01 that I was leaving the Medical Center, again, and going to work for MedQuist. I found out that my new boss had flown one of the very few non-military flights that was allowed in the skies after the attacks. He was flying recovery dogs from Oklahoma City to NYC to try to help with recovering survivors and then the ones who didn't.

I will always remember that day. It's the touchstone of everyone that was old enough to remember it. That day the world changed for all of us, like it or not.

Great Weekend

This post is a bit late but it needs to be said. Saturday was the first time I met another ukulele player in person, other than the great Jake Shimabukuro and he's like meeting Superman, so it's different. I attended the 1st Annual South Eastern Uke-2-Gether at Sweetwater Creek State Park east of Atlanta. I met so many uke players and one thing really struck me about each and every talented individual that I met was how nice they all were. I'd never met anyone there but they all treated me like family. Everyone was not only willing, but eager for you to try out their uke. I don't think I've ever met another group of unrelated people that have been so nice. Here are some pictures that Ami took while we were there.

The event was put together by Uke Republic, the only ukulele focused music store that I know of in the south east. I wouldn't actually care to know about another one since Mike, the owner, is so nice. He and his wife Donna put on a great event. He has so many tempting ukuleles! I kinda fell in love with a couple, a Pono figured mango soprano that is gorgeous and a Mainland mahogany concert that played soooo well and was gorgeous. I had Ami take a pic of me with it. Concert size is probably my favorite size so that's where I'm leaning if I get a new one.

I can't wait until the next Uke-2-Gether and hopefully at the next one I will be able to jam with the rest of the guys!

You know that good kind of tired?

Well, I'm there. I'm in that tired but it feels good place. I found that I was pushing myself up too far on my heart rate by looking at my monitor's settings (duh). I dropped it down a bit and didn't feel like I was trying to murder myself by going almost flat out. I also broke out the spandex. I've got a set of bibs that are so great for riding but I wasn't thinking about using them inside but my butt feels much better. I know that's TMI, sorry. I think my saddle is just barely too thin so my butt bones aren't on it perfectly but if I wear my bibs with their chamois it makes it feel fine. Maybe it's just like my grandma used to say and I've got a bone-y butt and need that extra padding.

Beginning Exercise

I've been putting it off for way too long. I started what they call "bonk" training Saturday morning. I rode my bike on my trainer for 10 minutes at 60% of my max heart rate. I skipped Sunday because I was lazy. I got up this morning on time and did it again for 10 minutes. I'm trying to lose some weight and it's been a long time coming.

When I started working where I work in 2001 I started a 4 hour daily commute. I was already fat but man this made it much worse. I woke up every morning, drove 2 hours to work, then worked 8 hours and drove 2 to 2 1/2 hours home. Ami was working and we were both worn out and she didn't feel like cooking (can you blame her?) so we ate out. I ate out a lot at work because people were always asking me to go and it was good to get out of the cube for a while. We were always going to a local bar that had a cheap (and bad for you) lunch of bar food. I packed on the pounds and it really sucks. There was no time for exercise and after being exhausted from driving I didn't feel like it anyway.

I got myself a bicycle a couple of years ago and rode it with gusto every day when it was warm enough outside, which is often in Georgia. I would go out at lunch and attack hills and ride around our neighborhood and have a good time. I lost about 30 pounds in 3 months. I stopped for the winter and never did pick it back up. I know it's laziness and I'm prone to that. I'm prone to procrastination, too, which you can tell by how often I update this blog.

I've become inspired to lose some weight by a few things. We watch Ruby on the Style Network and she seems like a "down home girl", like she's someone we grew up with and she's come a long way in her weight loss. She's really dealing with a lot of demons that I don't even have and she's making great progress. That gets me a bit fired up. Second, we watched You Are What You Eat on BBC America yesterday. That kind of wakes you up, too. Not the bad eating part, we don't really eat badly often, but it's more than it should be. It's the part where she shows the people what will happen if they continue on the path they're on. It's scary and I don't want to go down that road. My dad has had triple bypass heart surgery and I don't want that for myself. Sure, he was a heavy smoker for most of his life, but I still think that being overweight will put me on that operating table if I don't do something about it now.

I'm not going to lie and say it's fun to ride that trainer, it's not. I know that it's good for me though and that's going to keep me on it. I'm also going to start doing some exercise before other meals to try to help keep my body burning calories during the day. I'll keep posting what's going on with this on my blog to keep me honest and keep me going. I think if I know someone is keeping tabs on me here that should keep me motivated to not sleep in and get on that bike every day or go for a quick paced walk or something!

Getting to know me, Black Kitty

Things I like:
Pig (even though I don't get it because my peoples say it's bad for my healtt.)
Whiskas Pouches SERVED ON TIME! Put it in my moutt!
Boxes, especially the ones Beatrice is in
Mothering the other kitties and my peoples
My tuffet
Looking out windows
Bossing my peoples and the other kitties around
Demeownding windowsill time
Making an entrance
Being under the bed
Any toy on a string
The laser pointer
Knocking things over either with my sheer girth or out of defiance
Rooting (such as under blankets or in pants legs)
My manky on the couch
Sleeping on the couch like peoples
Plundering in the closet
Kneading my peoples
Smeowing new things
Smeowing other kitty butts

Things I don't like:
When my pouch is late
When I don't get people food
When I get caught being mean to the other kitties when they have something I want even if I just want it because they have it
Having to wait for something called "feeding time" when I know when I want my pouch
The doorbell
That big loud purple thing that gets my fur off the floor
Having my picture took
When the water thing makes noise

Guest Blogging

Since I haven't blogged in a while the cats got together and told me they were going to start posting since I wasn't. The first guest blog will be from Black Kitty, our oldest daughter. I hope that she'll agree to make it a series but you should all know that naps and food come first.

Laptop going back again

I sent my laptop back again this morning. I had sent it in last week for problems with the display showing weird static. When I talked to tech support they said that it was probably either the LCD or the video card so he said they'd replace them both. Well, they only replaced the LCD and after about 2 hours of use my problem was back. And as I packed it up to ship it back I noticed that the lid was scratched and it wasn't before. Whoever packed the laptop didn't pack it well enough to keep it from getting scratched so I called Asus back and told them about that. At that point I was told my case was going up to the supervisors and that I'd hear from them. That's where I am now.

The laptop is an ASUS G71G-Q1 gaming laptop. It was expensive because I wanted a laptop that I could play most of the current games on and it had the best features for the price. ASUS has a good reputation for most of their hardware but apparently sometimes you get a lemon.

I'm tired of this. I'm really frustrated since I've only had the laptop for 5 months and won't have had use of it for 3 weeks of that. If this doesn't fix it and I have to send it back again then it'll be a full month with shipping and repair times.

I'm at the point where I think this won't be fixed this time either. I'm just not confident in the technical prowess at the repair facilities.

Maybe I'm just being defeatist. Maybe not.

No blogging lately

I haven't been blogging much lately so I'll try to put up some stuff that's going on.

I finally sent my laptop back to get fixed. I'd been putting it off because I didn't want to be without it but it started having a funky video issue constantly so I couldn't put it off anymore.

Still watching the Tour every day and I'm rooting for Team Columbia/HTC. I like those guys.

Work is work as usual. I'm learning more about our newest product every day so I'm getting more comfortable with it. I was struggling with it for a while because it was so different from what I have been supporting since I started at the company 8 years ago. I always thought it was a cool product and a big leap forward, it was just a completely different way of thinking.

I'm using Twitter a little more but I don't post much on there. I don't have a whole lot to say but I like to read what other people are saying.

I've got some vacation coming up the last week of July. I don't think we're planning on doing ANYTHING, and that's good. I do want to go get some of the best barbecue I've ever had in Barnesville at Georgia South Barbecue that week. I like my barbecue sauce to have a vinegar base and this place has that. They also have some of THE BEST Brunswick Stew I've ever had. There was a place called Mrs Creel's that we used to eat at when I was a kid. She had the absolute best Brunswick Stew ever. I had been trying to find someone that made it like she did and these folks do. I may have to get a gallon of stew and a couple of pounds of barbecue to take home.

Tour de France 2009

I'm watching an encore showing of the Tour de France coverage right now. It's time trials today and I usually find them kind of boring but not today! It's pretty crazy how fast these guys are going.

Home built uke

I got a kit from Grizzly and built myself a soprano uke! I didn't do too badly on it I think but I learned a lot so next time will be even better. Once I get the parts I'm going to be building a cigar box uke.

They start out like this.

After a bit of this.

And this

They look like this.

It's not strung right in that picture. It is now though. It sounds pretty good. It's got a bit of a tinny sound to it but sometimes that's what you want when the song calls for it.

Georgia Cup Race

Last Sunday Ami and I went to watch the Georgia Cup Road Race out in the east Macon area and we got some pictures. Wanna see 'em? Here they are.

Peloton coming up a hill.

The look on these guys faces. It's just getting started.

And they were gone.

The riders coming up on a turn that goes up a hill.

In the turn.

I like this shot of some of the guys going up the hill.

I have decided to get back on my bike and try to get back into shape and hopefully ride in one of these races in a year or two.

New project

I'm going to be working on a project this week and will hopefully have it done by Sunday. I'll be getting Ami to take pictures while I work on it so I'll have a start to finish photo set I hope. I'm pretty excited about it and once all my tools are gathered it should be pretty easy to get it done. If all goes well this won't be the last of these projects.

The Martin Style 3 ukulele

Out of the many cool vintage ukuleles out there I really do love the Martin Style 3. I love the appointments on this model in either koa, mahogany, or cherry. Most folks seem to gravitate toward the more ornate Style 5 but I think the Style 3 has such a unique look with the stripes down the fretboard, the matching inlay below the bridge, and the really unique fret markers. If ever I won the lotto (you have to play to win, so not too likely) I'd get one, even if it were a newly produced one. It doesn't help that one of my ukulele heroes, Ukulele Ike (Cliff Edwards) played one.

June 6th 1944

Please take some time today to remember the sacrifices that were made on June 6th 1944, D-Day. It was the beginning of the end for the Hitler's Nazi Germany although we didn't know it.

I think this is obvious, but

Someone actually tried to send a ticket to me that was about a server with smoke coming out of it. At that point, don't you think it's beyond help by someone remotely connecting to it?

The Jake Shimabukuro show

All I can say is wow. I knew he was going to be amazing, I just had no idea how amazing. He's the reason that I started playing the ukulele and he just wowed us. Our friends Billy and Ed went with us and I think they both became fans tonight. Of course we took a few pictures.

Jake playing, and I mean PLAYING!

Jake talking to the audience (us).

Me talking to Jake.

Jake signing my DVD cover and CD.

Jake giving me a hug!

Me and Jake.

Ami and Jake.

Ed, Jake, and Billy.

I told Jake that he was the reason that I started playing the ukulele and that it's my first instrument. He seemed genuinely touched. He asked how long I've been playing and told me how it opens up a whole new world. He was unbelievably nice and gracious. I really couldn't have asked for a better experience. I'll definitely be seeing him live again when he comes back and I might have him sign one of my ukes since other people were having him do that.

Lots of stuff going on

I'm so proud of my wife, Ami, who made the Scrap N' Art design team! She's so talented it's great that her work is now going to be shared with a wider audience.

I'm also excited because tomorrow we go see Jake Shimabakuro live in Atlanta with Billy and Ed. I've heard that Jake is even more awesome live so I'm probably not going to wear socks because they'll just be knocked off anyway.

Did I mention

That Ami is the bestest wife ever? She just ordered me a subscription to Make Magazine! I've wanted to subscribe for a while because it just looks awesome and I've always wanted to tinker with electronics but wasn't allowed as a kid because I "just tore things up" or "would burn the house down". Hopefully this will be a step toward doing some interesting things!

Well, THAT just happened

I decided to put the new brushed nickel fixtures in the guest bathroom tonight. I needed a bit of adult supervision as I tore a small hole in the wall while trying to remove a wall anchor, made the clock in there fall and break part of the molding, and just caused general mayhem. I was lucky that Ami was there to help patch things up. I swear I should just leave things alone sometimes.

Mother's Day adventures

Here are some pics we took on Mother's Day 2009. We went on an adventure in Macon County where we grew up and where our parents still live.

This is the steeple of one of the Twin Churches in Montezuma, GA. There used to be two churches that looked exactly alike next to each other and this one is said to be the haunted one.

Menacing looking front door.

Our niece Jessi going in.

The sanctuary.

This door opened by itself with a lot of force when Jessi, Ginger, and Ami first got inside and bounced against that big heater. There was no wind blowing.

I'm not sure what this used to be. I think it's just a storage shed and it might still be in use.

Ami took this one out on a dirt road. I love the colors.

I hate it when that happens

I was having a ton of network issues with my work PC and my other PCs were acting a little strange networking wise. I restarted my DSL modem and router and everything was still acting strange on my work PC. I dug around in my mass of cables and found that one of them was pinched and had to switch it out. I so wish I could make all my PCs and devices wireless.

Big weekend coming up

This weekend we'll be just around the house. We don't typically do anything on holiday weekends if we can help it. If we do, it's just to go down and see our parents usually. We try to stay off the roads when there are lots of people traveling.

Next weekend, however, will be a big one. We're going to see Jake Shimabukuro live in Atlanta. He's an AMAZING ukulele player. As seen here:

That video is one of the reasons I picked up the ukulele. I was just amazed at what that little instrument can do.

I've been slacking on my practicing lately and really need to start back practicing in earnest. We bought some wall hangers for my ukes and hung them over my desk so they're at hand all the time. I think it's since I've gotten my new laptop that I just started slacking. Ah, the siren call of video games.

Cinematic Titanic

We went and saw Cinematic Titanic with our friends Melinda, Jill, and Doug. In case you don't know Cinematic Titanic is the original cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffing on bad movies just like the good old days but better. Instead of just Joel and the bots we now get Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl, Frank Conniff, Trace Beaulieu, and Josh (J. Elivs) Weinstein. Here's a sample:

The show was fantastic! We had great seats, too. We were 6 rows back on the left side of the stage so we were about 15 feet from Joel, Josh, and Mary Jo. The movie was terrible (Danger on Tiki Island), but they made it hilarious. We expected that. One thing we didn't expect was the warm up act. It was a man named Gruber.

He was hilarious and all of us kept thinking that he was very familiar, we just couldn't place him. He put on a great set and we were in stitches.

After the movie there was a meet and greet that Ami and I stayed for. We were at the very back of the line but only had to wait about an hour. Gruber was also talking to people while we were waiting so we went and talked to him and got our picture taken with him. He was super nice as was everyone else.

Ami also got pictures of me with everyone.

It was great. Josh also said that they were going to be doing the live shows again next year as far as he knew and were probably coming back to Atlanta. Well, we'll be there!

We went out to the car and the shit really hit the fan after such an amazing night. First we had to wait until someone came out to even get into the parking deck, then we couldn't find the car. After walking around and riding the elevator several times we found it.

After that, we were leaving and found out that you have to pay $5 to get out of the deck! We didn't have any cash either! The guard (over the little speaker) said that he couldn't let us out and that we'd have to wait for someone else to leave and sneak out behind them. We freaked out but luckily some one came along a couple of minutes later and we followed them out. Quite an adventure!

Recent pictures

Here are some pictures that I took recently that I liked.

Beatrice in her box. I used available light and the handy flip out LCD of the Sony A350 to get the shot at that level.

This is QuadNot, one of our outside kitties. It was taken from a distance with our Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di lens. I haven't seen her in a few weeks and I'm worried about her.

The sun through an oak leaf in our side yard. I really just liked how the light shows through the leaf.

This is a rose bud on our miniature roses in a pot on our back patio. I just loved how they looked after the rain so I got some pictures. For the first few years these roses didn't do much blooming but for the past couple of years they've been really beautiful.