Saturday, November 17, 2007

Su Doku

OK.. My sister-in-law Shirley and Anna have gotten me hooked on Su Doku. It's a simple game of logic. Here's what a basic puzzle looks like:



The basic point of the game is to fill in all the spaces with the numbers 1 - 9. All 9 numbers must be used in each row (vertically and horizontally) and each block of 9 numbers must contain all of the numbers 1 - 9. Here's the answer to the puzzle above:




So, Anna got me 2 Su Doku puzzle books for my birthday. One book is mild and the other is spicy. The mild ones are fun and easy. The spicy ones make me want to pull my hair out. Here's one example that seems to be deceptively simple on the surface, but took me a long time to solve:



Print it out and try to solve it....

Hope's First Post

As a big first grader, Hope has been learning to write. She does a composition every day, which basically consists of writing 3-4 sentences all on her own, complete with capital letters and proper punctuation. We usually have to help her correct a few misspellings and punctuation errors, but she's doing great do far. She has a real interest in computers, so for fun, I let her type an extra composition now and again. She typed one today and asked me to post it to my blog. So, here it is, Hope's first blog post: (cut and pasted from Notepad to Blogger by Dad)

Today I play with My dady.and I play with My siser Tori.and
I play with My pet penelope and she licked my hands.
and I play with my momy.The end.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Telephones and Line Dot Line

Years ago, one of my nieces used to call Tator Tot Hotdish "Line Dot Line". It took my sister a while to figure out what she was talking about. To this day, we still call Tator Tot Hotdish "Line Dot Line", at least at our house.

So, the other night it was time to put Tori to bed, and, as usual she suddenly had a hunger attack and needed a snack. When we asked her what she wanted she told us "Telephones". She proceeded to go to the fridge and show us that she wanted the leftover elbow macaroni and stewed tomatoes.

"See," she said, "I want those telephone noodles."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hollywood People

How weird is this?

Apparently the girl who plays Ally Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond was born in Brownwood. Incidentally, her brothers play the boys in the show.

I could really care less about the show, except everyone pronounces my name incorrectly because it's spelled the same. And I get a lot of questions from people asking if I'm related to Ray. Go figure. Anyhoo, I thought it was ironic that the actors who play the kids are from Brownwood.

Also ironic is that I stumbled upon this fact whilst trying to google information on Dog tags/licenses in Brownwood, Texas. Not sure how this turned up casting information for Everybody Loves Raymond.

I did, ahem, eventually find out that I need to get a license for my dog (for a fee, of course) which will expire on December 31, at which point I can renew it for another fee.

In a somewhat related note, I noticed there are other Hollywood people from Brownwood, including the guy who was the visual effects producer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. Now that is pretty cool.

And think of it... you just wasted 2 minutes of your life reading about something that matters to almost no one. Go figure.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Close to home

I only live 30 minutes away from this guy.

I went to his show last year at the Brownwood Rattlesnake Roundup.

By the way, Dublin is also home to the orginal Dr. Pepper bottling plant. Around here, we love our Dr. Pepper.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Christmas Wish

The kids want this for Christmas. I think they've been hanging out with Anna too long.

 
Posted by Picasa

New Duds

We got some new clothes to wear on Friday nights:



Oh yeah, notice the girls each have their own official Brownwood Lions cow bell. I used one the entire game and our ears were all ringing for a day or so. hehe.



Stylish, aren't I?

Dog On

We got a dog. This is Penelope, a.k.a. Princess Penelope, our "All American" dog (read: mutt).



Posted by Picasa


She has some interesting habits, like taking naps in Anna's flower pot.



She's a pretty good dog, and perfect for the girls. She only weighs 9 lbs, so she isn't intimidating. She's house trained, and I think we've heard her bark 3 or 4 times in the 3 weeks we've had her.

You know you've been in Texas too long when...

Poor Hope hasn't been feeling too well the last few days. She's been running a fever off and on and just not feeling good. So, on Thursday night when I put her to bed, she knelt down to pray and said,

"Lord Jesus, I really need you to heal me because I really want to go to that football game tomorrow night."

:-)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

More on Football

Last night we attended another worship service football game. The kids had a great time, but we didn't enjoy it as much. During last week's game we had some trouble seeing the action because the people in front of us kept standing up to cheer and blocked our view. So, we thought we would employ some strategery and get front row seats.

This wasn't such a good idea. You see, in my video I posted in my previous post, you saw all the kids that run out on to the field ahead of the football players, right? Ok... so where do you think the kids come from? Yup... The stands. And how do they get on the field? Like a herd of lemmings they rush out of the stands, down along the front row and jump into the field.

So then, when the big hurrah is over, how do they get back into the stands? Um.. well, let's just say that when they decide to come climbing back into the stands, it's not a good idea to be trying to eat cheesy nachos with jalapeƱos (yum). They scamper into the stands wherever they can find a spot, often with the help of adults who lean over the rail to pull the young'uns into the stands. This wouldn't be all so bad really... I mean, it's all in good fun right?

The problem is, they didn't leave. So, we enjoyed the rest of the game surrounded by 3 - 8 year olds. It was a little crowded. Plus, they have all been well trained to stand up and yell and cheer. Since they were sitting all around us and on the floor in front of us with their legs hanging over the edge, they blocked our view when they stood up. So much for the front row seats and unblocked views. hehe.

We had a great time anyway. Also, we knew several of the kids who ended up sitting around us who had been in Hope's Kindergarten class last year.

The game was a complete blowout. The team we played (Sweetwater Mustangs) had beaten us last year and we were expecting a pretty good match. The Lions were on top of their game, especially the defense. We won 55-7. I don't think the Mustangs made it past their own 40 yard line during the first 3 quarters. In a way this was fun to watch, but it wasn't as exciting/suspenseful as last week's game with Wylie where the teams were more evenly matched.

Oh yeah... and I'm definitely going to have to get myself one of those cow bells before the next home game, but that won't be until Oct 5th.

Here's some more pictures:

The Bell:


Huge LCD Display and The Tunnel that the players run out of:


I once dreamed of making a huge spud gun. They use this air-powered one to launch rolled up t-shirts into the crowd. Sometimes they get a little carried away with the air compressor and end up launching the t-shirt over the stadium where some lucky soul in line at the concession stand gets blessed with a Brownwood Lions t-shirt from the heavens:



T-shirt in flight to lucky recipient:



Lionettes performing with the band:

Monday, September 03, 2007

34th Annual World Championship Goat Bar-B-Que Cook Off

On Saturday, we decided to do something fun and different. We went to the 34th annual World Championship Goat Bar-B-Que Cookoff in Brady, TX.




There was a sea of people there.


There were 150 teams cooking goat in good old fashioned Texas Style:

This feller here... he's got it made. He's got hisself (that's a Texas word) a trailer mounted pit Bar-B-Que, a little ol' pick 'em up, a Magellen tent, and he's fixin' hisself some goat.




These guys here even have a pink flamingo on their trailer. Notice, no one down here uses charcoal, just wood...especially mesquite.

Finally, there were a bunch of vendors with arts and crafts, and fun stuff for the kids to do. We let the kids go to a "duck pond". Each of them picked out a rubber ducky from the pond and won a prize:



We didn't actually eat any goat. Anna and the kids didn't want any, and I'd already had some when John and Shirley visited us in July. Instead, we had lunch at McDonald's and then headed home.

Texas Football

I've heard about what a big deal high school football is in Texas, and have seen a lot of proof of this at work. I must confess that I really have never been to a high school football game in Texas. Until now. On Friday night we took the kids to the home opener for the Brownwood Lions vs the Abilene Wylie Bulldogs. This, my friends, was an experience.

Growing up in western Wisconsin I went to a few high school football games. We paid a buck or two to get in and sat on some cold, wet, rickety metal bleachers. The field was muddy and cold; the band was lackluster. It was a pretty low key affair with attendance of 200 - 250 people. But hey, we all had a good time anyway.

The differences were apparent from the moment we arrived. We got to the stadium 30 minutes before kickoff. The very large parking lot was full. We parked in the grass near the highway with several dozen other vehicles. As we walked up to the stadium I started to notice the vendors. They had the normal concession stand stuff, but they also had vendors selling funnel cakes, t shirts, foam hands, bells, flags, stadium seats, and just about anything else you can think of with the Brownwood Lions logo on it. (Think State Fair here.)

So, we make our way through the line of people buying tickets and finally get up to the little booth. The lady asked me where I wanted to sit. I said, "You mean I can't just get a ticket and go sit wherever?"

"No, we have assigned seats here son."

"Oh, OK.. uhh.. Is there a difference in price?"

"Nope, they're all $6 each."

So, I dished over $18 for tickets. (They let Tori in for free). I looked at the tickets. These weren't the little rolled up tickets stubs we had back home. These are printed color tickets with the team logo on the front, along with our section, row, and seat numbers. They looked more like the tickets we used to get for a Twins game than the ones you'd get for a highschool football game.

Tickets in hand, we went into Gordon Wood Stadium. "The Wood". This is where our opponents come so we can "take the wood to 'em". This is were Central Texans make their pilgrimage for their Friday night religious experience.

Right. So we found our seats with the help of an usher. Yup. We have ushers.

The place was packed. The stadium is a little different than what I'm used to. It's concrete. We have artificial turf. The team name is emblazened on the turf in the end zones and the Lions logo is on the 50 yard line. At one end zone is the score board. On the other, a huge full color LCD display. We later learned that the screen is used for the instant replays from the camera crew on the field. uh huh. We have camera crews on the field and instant replay. The game is also carried on TV.

I don't have any idea how many people were in attendance, but there were a lot. uh... did I mention that there are only 20,000 people in this town? I think they were all there, including the entire police force. They, of course, were "on duty" to "provide security". The police officers all looked like they were really enjoying their work. Everyone was wearing team logo wear, except us. Everyone also carried a cow bell emblazened with a lion which they rang. A lot.

Cheerleaders. There were regular high school cheerleaders and a color guard. We also had "Lionettes". These were cheerleaders in cowgirl-like outfits. Then, there were junior cheerleaders, who I guess were in middle school or junior high. Then, there was a hoard of young girls between 4 and 7 out there in their little cheerleading outfits. Down on the track near the field, there was also a trailer with a large bell mounted on it, like a church bell with a set of handlers to ring it when appropriate. Finally, there was another group of support people who did various things like shoot T Shirts into the crowd using a compressed air spud gun. There were also two guys breakdancing. Still don't understand that one. Maybe next time they'll have some people out there boot scootin'.

Oh yeah... We have a mascot. A big lion. It must've been 90 degrees outside and that poor soul was standing there in a lion suit.

So, after a few delays due to a lightning watch, the time came for the teams to emerge. Cheerleaders lined the field. Guys carrying flags with our logo and team name on them fell in between the cheerleaders. A set of handlers set up a huge ( probably 20 ft tall by 30 ft wide banner with the team name on it. On the end of the field a bunch of kids lined up in front of a large gate. I began to see the players mass up behind the gate. Guns and Roses' Welcome to the Jungle started blaring over the PA system. Smoke started coming out of the tunnel. The bell on the cart started tolling. People in the crowd screamed, yelled, rang bells, jumped up and down in nearly a pentecostal fervor. The gates opened and the hoard of kids ran out on to the field followed by our team. They came across the field and assembled behind the big banner. After a few seconds they broke through the banner on to the field.

video


The coaches (Yes, there's more than one. Actually, there's an entire coaching staff.) They all wore Motorola headsets, just like in the pros.

The teams took the field and began to play. There were mistakes made, but overall, I was impressed by the discipline and execution of both sides on the field. The players were huge, with some of our linebackers breaking 320 lbs. The QB wasn't perfect, but he had a lot of talent and termendous arm. He could fling the football faster than I could throw a baseball. I guess that isn't saying much. hehe.

Anyhoo... In the end, the home team prevailed 28 - 21. Mind you, our school is about half the size of the opponents. We dressed 38 players to their 80.

I could hardly believe it all. It was neat to go, and I can actually say that we had a really good time.

The kids enjoyed it too. They got to:

1) Drink Pop
2) Eat Popcorn
3) Yell
4) Scream
5) Jump Up and Down
6) Eat Pickles
7) Eat Candy
8) Eat Nachos
9) Stay up way past their bedtime

Tori woke up on Saturday and asked if we were going to go to another game.

Probably Tori... Probably.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Grilling

I admit it. I've been slacking off on my grilling lately. I've been busy and haven't taken the time to spend some good quality time out on the back porch with my Weber. But last week my brother and his family were in town for a visit and he got me cooking again. hehe.

We kicked things off with a grilling smorgasbord one day while he was here. We spent the better part of the day making marinades, rubs, and just grilling. It was a good time. Here's some of our work in progress:


That's Barcelona chicken in front, baby back ribs with Memphis dry rub in the middle, and venison tenderloin in back seasoned with Cavendars. The foil bag has a potato medley in it. Not pictured: Ham Steaks and Peaches (desert). Oh man, those grilled peaches were awesome with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and pecans.

It was a very yummy evening. Another night we made burgers, and finally we made some other chicken while they were here. I guess it really inspired me to grill more. Tonight I made this yummy Brined whole chicken with lemon and thyme. Very tasty... you gotta try this one John... it's in the Weber cookbook.



Other highlights from my brother being here included our trip to San Antonio, which, admittedly, was a bit of a bust, but we enjoyed it anyhow. Along the way, I finally had someone with us to take a picture of Anna and I in the Geographical center of Texas, which is only like 25 miles from home. Anyhoo.. uh, yeah, as it turns out, the only picture that halfway turned out was the one of me in this nerdy macho pose:



It's funny, because when we were there, I didn't bother to read the sign, which clearly states that the actual center of Texas is five miles NW of the marker. UGH! So there you have it folks, a nerdy picture of me five miles away from the center of Texas.

Oh yeah... I guess I'm rambling now, but you're still reading, so it must be OK. On the way down to San Antonio we stopped at Cooper's Bar B Que. It was awesome. Actually, John, Nick, and I ate there. The ladies went down the street to a nasty Subway. We got the better end of that deal. We had brisket, chicken, and walked on the wild side by trying goat and lamb bar b que. Highly recommended! I'm going back. Google Maps link.

We also stopped in Fredericksburg and had a good time there. We got some ice cream at this shop with neat hats. Here's a picture of Nick and I posing together:



I know, it's a great picture. It really brings out the double-chin in me.

While we were in Fredericksburg, Shirley talked us into buying Blokus, and now I'm hooked. We played a number of games while they were in town. It was a blast. Of course, Anna now has the strategy of the game figured out so my hopes of ever winning again are dim.

On the way back from San Antonio, we stopped in Llano to try another Bar b que place which is also named Cooper's. I didn't think it was as good as the other place in Mason, but it was still really good. Interestingly enough, there's a picture of Dubya on the wall eating bar b que along with a letter from the then-Governor about how Cooper's in Llano has the best bar b que in the country. They also boast that they cater to the president's ranch in Crawford. We didn't see any dignitaries while we were there, but it's the only restaurant I've probably ever been to were a president has eaten. And it's a hole in the wall bar b que joint in the middle of nowhere, Texas. Go figure.


On a parting note, this spider crawled across our kitchen floor the other day. I killed it.




So what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Nothing, but I thought it would be a crazy way to end this meandering blog post. Off to bed.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dog

Today was Tori's birthday. One of the cool little presents she got was this neat doll that came with a dog. (Dogs are all the rage at our house these days ever since the girls saw Chestnut)

So, when Anna purchased this doll and dog set, she didn't realize that it came with dog food. And she didn't realize the dog can eat. Yup, you lift up the dog's tail, its head cocks to the left, the ears lift up, and the mouth opens so you can feed him. Yum! Neat!

Then.. we uh.. ahem, discovered what happens when you push the tail down:


Gross! Eww.. There's just something not right about this toy. But never fear. As it turns out the terds are made of metal, and the doll comes equiped with a handy dandy magnetic pooper scooper.


Cleanup is a snap. Simply pick up the doggie poop, place it into the included receptacle, and hit the magnetic release button to deposit the..ahem..deposit into the trash.

Further investigation reveals that this is no ordinary trash can. When you spin it around, it's obvious that this is a two piece trash can, but why?


Hey... it looks like this is a special recycling bin. When you split the trash can in two, you end up with a new bag of dog food!


The only thing the toy designer left out was the name of the dog food. It has good packaging, but it needs a good brand and slogan. Something like

Poopy Chow:
We turn your dog's emissions into their nutrition.


New Egg

I've purchased a lot of stuff over the last few years from http://www.newegg.com. Anna's been wanting to upgrade our digital camera from an older Canon Powershot A85 4 MP to a newer, smaller, higher MP model. Well, I decided to order her one for Mother's day, a FujiFilm A800. While it's smaller and easier to use, the pictures aren't that great. The optics apparently aren't as good as the Canon. Also, the video resolution is a joke, compared to our old 3 year old camera.

I've really been pleased with NewEgg and their service until now. They no longer accept returns on digital cameras. I didn't realize this when I purchased it. I think this may be my last NewEgg purchase.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wildflower Drive

On the advice of someone at work, Anna and I drove down towards Fredricksburg today with the girls to check out the wildflowers. The bluebonnets are past their peak, but other flowers are just starting to come out in their full glory. We were not dissapointed. The wildflowers are absolutely breathtaking. The pictures don't even come close to doing them justice. These flowers go on and on for over 200 miles along the sides of the roads. Their smell permeates the air. It's just really neat. Take a look at the photos. Come see us next weekend.

I've posted the pictures we took today to a web album.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Great Western Loop

For those of you who are backpacking fans, Andrew Skurka is about to begin his attempt of the Great Western Loop. Yup, he's going to try to complete 6,875 miles this season, starting Monday. 9 States. 12 National Parks. 75 Wilderness areas. His pack weight will vary with the segment he is on, but it looks like his full skin out weight (that's the total amount of weight he's carrying, including the clothes and shoes he's wearing) will range between 10 and 15 pounds.

For those of you who don't know who Andrew Skurka is, he's the first person to complete the Sea-to-Sea trail... hiking from Northeastern Maine to Seattle in 11 months. This winter he also completed his "Ultralight in the Nation's Ice Box tour" hiking from Duluth to Ely in January. 380 miles in 16 days with a pack weight of 24 pounds. Average Temperature: 5 degrees. Reading about his adventures is very interesting.

Wait 15 Minutes.

There's a saying down here:

If you don't like the weather in Texas just wait 15 minutes, it will change.

Apparently, you need to be careful what you ask for. A few days ago, I posted a sarcastic post lamenting the lack of snow. It was a joke, really just intended to rile up a couple of my friends in Minnesota who were getting snow while it was 90+ degrees here.

Alas, I woke up this morning to this:



Yup... that's snow on the roof. Thankfully, this was in the forecast, so we were able to get all of the plants in the garage over night.

On another note, I've always heard people talk about how beautiful the wildflowers are in Texas. In particular, my Grandma always used to rave on about the Blue Bonnets that Grandpa and her always saw when they would spend winter/early spring in Texas. Last year, I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. I never really saw any wildflowers last year. Some folks told me that it was too dry and the winter had been too mild for many flowers to come out. This year has been much different. We had a cold winter (by Texas standards) and the spring has been pretty wet. Brownwood actually looks more like Greenwood.

The wildflowers are magnificent, especially the Blue Bonnets. When I realized it was snowing this morning, I decided to go take some pictures just in case they die off in the next few days. All of these were taken within 2 miles of the house. They are everywhere and they are very cool.








Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Life is Better When it Snows

Over the last few days, I've decided I miss snow.

It's terrible. I've mowed the lawn three times already this year. I've already had to fertilize, and I've even extended my French drain due to some backyard flooding from recent heavy rains.

Yes, life is better when it snows. Just this weekend, Anna wanted to plant flowers. Sure, you know, she went to the store and picked everything out. I sat on the driveway and played with the kids. I got sunburned. Bummer. But hey, Anna did do a swell job on the flowers. But, if it had been snowing, I could have been, you know, reading a book or something instead of getting sunburned.



Yes, life is better when it snows. This evening, it was warm. I had to crawl into the attic to turn on the auxillary exhaust fan. It was 89 degrees at 6 PM. We decided to go on a walk. I got sweaty. ewww.

Yes, life is better when it snows. Apparently the kids got hot on the walk too. I don't know if I'd consider it a "walk" for them. Tori rode in the stroller and Hope rode her bike. When we got home, Tori said, "I need ice cream. I'm hot". We didn't have any ice cream, so I was forced to go down to Sonic (Think Dairy Queen, only better).

Yes, life is better when it snows. If it had only been colder lately, I could be like all of my friends back home in Minnesota, enjoying the last forays of winter (You are out camping in this, aren't you Pete?) -- But instead, I'm forced to sit here in the shade on the back porch, enjoying the sunset on this warm evening whilst sipping on my strawberry banana slushy. It reminds me of snow I guess.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Famous Kid

Hey... my kid is "famous". Grandma is in town this week and took the kids to the park yesterday so Anna and I could get some painting done in peace. Go Grandma!

Anyway, while they were at the park, a reporter from the local newspaper showed up and interviewed a bunch of kids for a story he was doing on spring break. Hope made the front page.

Pretty funny stuff. It's too bad she failed to mention that in addition to going to the park and playing with her dollhouse, I also took her to the local Brownwood Jaycees Rattlesnake Roundup on Saturday. I'll have to post some pictures from that event later.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Weather

To all my friends in Minnesota, I feel sorry for you. Looks like it's a little chilly up there....




It's pretty nice down here. Now would be a good time to come visit:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chillin'

In case you haven't noticed, we've been getting some interesting weather down here in Texas. Over the weekend we started getting a little freezing rain, which really wasn't supposed to be that big of a deal. Of course, anytime the temperature drops below freezing here, the weather service issues a severe weather warning, etc. The ice was supposed to turn to rain, but the temperatures kept hovering around freezing and we ended up getting a bunch of rain and then ice. By Monday, we had 1/4 inch of ice.



So, watching people down here drive on ice is absolutely hilarious. I pulled up to a stop sign behind a guy in a pickup on the way to work. When he started to go, naturally his tires began to slip. Nothing to him, he just kept giving it more gas. And more gas. And then he really laid on it. Finally, he wore through the ice, chirped his tires and lurched through the intersection, tires a blazing with his back end flying all over the place. This was repeated at every intersection until we got to work, when I realized that the guy in the truck was someone I work with. hehe.

So, we had 1/4 inch of ice and the roads are little slick, but not too bad. Of course this means that pretty much everything is shut down including FedEx, UPS, and almost all trucking companies. Commerce basically ground to a halt.

The weather was somewhat better on Tuesday and everything was open again. Late in the afternoon someone came running into my office to tell me that it was snowing. This was big news and we all went to the windows to check it out. It was flurries... and mild ones at that. A few minutes later it stopped.

This morning I woke up and looked outside to check on the weather. I was a little suprised to see that 3 inches of snow had fallen overnight. This is the first time this area has had any accumulation of snow since about 1980. This was really entertaining for me. Here's what the backyard looked like this morning:



Everything was closed. Schools, the University, most stores, shoot... they even closed the Alamo. The drive to work was even more entertaining today than it was on Monday. Everyone was going 5 - 15 mph, white-knuckles and the whole nine yards. Fedex, UPS, and all the other trucking companies weren't running. Interstate 10 was closed. Several local highways were listed as "impassable".

I came home for lunch and made a snow man for the kids. I was going to take a picture of it, but it turned out to be pretty pathetic and so I decided not to embarass myself by recording it. I got a good chuckle when the mail lady pulled up to drop off the mail while I was at home. She had snow chains on her tires. Chains for 3 inches!

I heard some other good ones at work. One person told me that the snow was so deep that she barely made it out of her driveway. Another told me that she couldn't believe how much snow it had "poured" last night. I had one person take the day off because the last time he saw snow he was 5 years old. He wanted to stay home and enjoy it. Two other folks took off after lunch to join him.

Of course, one of the fun things about weather like this down here is reading the weather service announcements and listening to the radio announcers talk about this stuff. The weather announcements say things like "Severe cold", "significant snow", "stay inside", etc. This morning, one of the local radio hosts was lamenting the fact that she reached outside last night to grab her mop off of the back porch and it was frozen solid. She couldn't believe how horribly cold it was. The temperature hadn't been above freezing for 3 whole days.

The whole event has been very entertaining. I just wished it had happened over Christmas.