Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Frankenweenie (2012)

In honor of today, Halloween 2012, it is fitting that I give you a review of the movie Frankenweenie.

This Tim Burton creation is a recreation of his original 1984 which poke fun at and pays homage to the classic 1931 film Frankenstein based on Mary Shelley's novel of the same name.

[Begin Spoiler Alert!]
Young Victor Frankenstein lives with his parents and dog Sparky in the town of New Holland. Concerned with his son's isolation and obsessive interest in science and film-making, Victor's father encourages him to take up baseball and make achievements outside of science. Victor hits a home run at his first game, but Sparky, pursuing the ball, is killed by a car.

Recalling his science teacher's experiment on the of the effect of electricity on dead frogs, Victor digs up Sparky's corpse and successfully reanimates him with lightning, ala Frankenstein's Monster.

While Victor tries to keep his accomplishment a secret, Sparky cannot stay contain in the attic laboratory and is discovered by Victor's school chum Edgar Gore, who promptly blackmails Victor into teaching him how to raise the dead.

Word spreads and one dead pet after another is brought back to the hear and now with disastrous results.
[End Spoiler Alert!]

All-in-all Frankeweenie was a fun movie, especially for kids.  I did not see the 3D showing, but I'm sure the movie would be even better with that special effect.  In an interesting twist, the entire movie is shown in black and white, another homage to the classic horror films.

Screened on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at Saginaw 12, Saginaw, MI

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

If you don't laugh...

Sandy becoming a hurricane.
As Hurricane Sandy made her way up the east coast and then moved inland and causing havoc over most of the northeast, we've heard plenty of references to "The Perfect Storm." Poor Sandy has even been called "Frankenstorm" because of her timing on the eve of Halloween.

This is no trick or treat party.

While this storm is serious and tens of thousands -- perhaps millions -- are affected, there have been plenty of jokes and funny comments about this disastrous situation.

It's said: "If you don't laugh, you'll cry."

While I sit here listening to the winds howling through the trees with the hope of the unraked piles of leaves be carried away, I'll share of few funny comments I've heard and read:

For all of those stuck waiting the storm our, here are the top 20 Sandy jokes and one-lines today that will hopefully lighten this dark day.

  • They should rename Sandy to Tigers, then it wouldn't hit anything. (Ouch)
  • They should rename Sandy to the Lions, then it would never Touchdown.
  • Nothing like Hurricane Sandy to make me realize what's really important in life, Internet access.
  • What do Snooki and Hurricane Sandy have in common? (Oops, censored answer. This is rated PG blog)
  • Romney has a binder full of Hurricane names.
  • About to watch the Day After Tomorrow, that should take my mind off the Hurricane.
  • Obama claims Hurricane Sandy is the result of a spontaneous butterfly flight.
  •  "Everyone in the Hurricane's path should immediately make their way to their second or third home".  I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message.
  • If you lose power, don't think of it as being caught in a blackout, think of it as temporarily falling to the dark side.
  • NJ weather alert. In the event of an emergency, find Gov. Chris Christie and hold on.
  • Hurricane Sandy, because God is tired of political ads too.
  • I'm sorry for my terrible Hurricane Sandy jokes, I know they blow.

Finally, one last comment, that's no joke...  I have to wonder how many babies will be named Sandy nine months from now.

Be safe everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Winning when you lose

Our Detroit Tigers didn't become World Series Champions last night.  In my opinion, they barely showed up for the four game sweep by the San Fran Giants.

But even when in defeat, they're still champs.  After-the-game locker room interviews showed us a defeated time that was full of praise for the skills of their rivals. No sour grapes or bad karma.

They have plenty to be happy about, consider only two teams get to play in the World Series.  Getting to "the game" is an accomplishment in itself, as is the ALCS Championship Title.

Tiger fans can celebrate the winning feat of Miguel Cabrera becoming a triple crown winner this season. He is the first triple crown winner in 45 years for leading the AL with a .330 batting average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs. Not since Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox in 1967 had any one player swept those categories.

It's said that it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.  The game-winners never say that because it's really more words of comfort.  But they are true, nonetheless. The Tigers played with all they had, it just wasn't enough.

All Tiger fans are winners as we can finally get to bed at a decent time. At least for the next 155 days when we reach April 1, 2013 -- baseball's opening day.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Movie Critique: SINISTER

Found footage helps a true-crime author realize how and why a family was murdered in his new home, though his discoveries put his entire family in the path of a supernatural entity.

This movie immediately reminded me of the "SAW" franchise, with one gruesome death/murder after another.  At time, I actually looked away from the screen. However, some of the characters, didn't make sense. Maybe it was intentional, but the deputy reminded me of Deputy Dewey from Scream.

But with that said, I was riveted by the desire to see what was going to happen next.  At one point I was so creeped out that wondered if I would be able to spend the night alone in my own house.

As far as a script, it was a little weak in dialog and at times the action lagged.

If you like spooky movies, this one might fit the bill.  I enjoyed it, and would say it's worth seeing.

Screened on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 at Bay City 8, Bay City, MI

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Here's a Proposition

Why do I become more and more annoyed as election day grows closer?  It's an annual frustration at it's worst during a Presidential election year.

Aside from all the rhetoric from the candidates -- and ever more rhetoric from their respective parties and supportive political action committees -- I'm sick and tired of hearing about the proposals here in my home state of Michigan.

This year, we have six statewide ballot proposals:

  • Proposal 1: Referendum on the Emergency Manager Law
  • Proposal 2: The 'Collective Bargaining' Amendment
  • Proposal 3: '25 x 25' Renewable Energy Standard
  • Proposal 4: The Unionization of Home-Based Caregivers
  • Proposal 5: The Two-Thirds Majority Tax Limitation
  • Proposal 6: The International Bridge/Tunnel Voting Requirement

Looking at the list above, the proposals may seem harmless. But they're not. Props 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are amendments to Michigan Constitution.

WHY?  Because it's the only way the proponents have any chance of accomplishing their goal. Once there is a change to the State Constitution, there it would take another majority vote of the people to repeal the amendment.

Personally, I'm against that.  I'm also against the interests that are pumping millions of dollars into the campaigns to get these proposals passed.

My biggest annoyance, regarding these proposals, is Prop 6.  Canadian Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner the Detroit's Ambassador Bridge, has dumped over $31 million dollars into getting this initiative passed. He has a direct financial interest in stopping the construction of any additional international crossings which would, logically, be built in southwest Michigan.

So here's what I propose: more informed voters making wise decisions.  I know it's a lofty goal, but I can always hope, can't I?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blah Blah Blah

It is said that "Talk is cheap."  But it's also pretty priceless.

Earlier this week, I spent just about two-and-a-half hours in the dentist chair. While I was laying in the chair, it occurred to me how the gift of gab comes in handy for so many professions.

As I waited for the doctor to come in, Chris, his dental assistant, got be situated and comfortable.

"Did you have a nice summer?" she asked as she went about arranging instruments on the tray.

Just a simple question I could answer would end the silence that could true awkward quickly.  She may have not even been interested in knowing if I enjoyed the last few months, but she asked anyway.

There's a trick to having an engaging conversation. Maybe it should be taught in high school or a course in college.

We get lost in conversation when it's interesting, but we get trapped in a conversation when it's not.

So many professions require conversation. Obviously psychiatrists and counselors as well as barbers and bartenders.

I'm lucky, I can talk to just about anyone about just about anything. It's a gift I'll treasure forever.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gotta get out more

I started yesterday with a two-and-a-half hour visit to the dentist.  I'm having a tooth prepared for a crown.

My appointment was for 7 am, which I don't mind.  Let's get the show on the road, right?

As I left the dentist's office, I realized it was a smart choice to take the entire day off. I was going to enjoy this autumn day with temps already in the mid-60s.

I had a little road time heading to "the city" to see an early matinee at the theater.  Driving is my thinking time. Some of my best -- and worst -- decisions are made while I'm driving down the road.

On this drive, I decided that I need to get out more.  My routine is way too, well, routine.

Just one day out of the office offered me enough fodder for several day's worth of blog posts. Conversations with different people and passing down less-traveled roads and several blog topics popped up before my eyes.

So, hopefully, I can get back to a routine of DAILY blog posts. It's good for me, and maybe even good for you.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Semper Fi

Nathan and his mother, Gina, June, 2012
Semper Fidelis, Latin for "Always Faithful" or "Always Loyal", has a long history as a motto for families and organizations, including the United States Marine Corps, where it is often shortened to Semper Fi.

Tomorrow, my great-nephew (my niece's son) Nathan Schulz, will head off to San Diego for 13-weeks of basic training with the United States Marine Corp.

He is so pumped up and ready to go. He's been training and planning for it for months.

Tall and lean, he's physically ready for the rigors that face him in the coming weeks. He's got a good head on his shoulders as well.

I'm not sure what motivated him toward the military, especially in this increasingly unstable world. But regardless of the motivation, I'm confident he will excel.

We're proud of you Nate! We love you and pray for your health and safe keeping, now and always.

And whenever you hear the words "Semper Fi," think of this Latin phrase as well: "Deus, protege me quaeso!"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Anything Goes!

I love seeing a play on the stage in Cobb Great Hall of Michigan State University's Wharton Center. The theater seems more intimate with fewer seats than that of Detroit's Fisher or Fox Theaters.

Last night I had the opportunity to share a viewing experience with my friend Jonathon for a performance of Anything Goes.

A winner of three 2011 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival and Choreography, A.G. is considered one of the greatest musicals in theater history. It features the music of Cole Porters.

When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to true love... proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old-fashioned blackmail. Peppering this timeless classic are some of musical theaters most memorable standards, including I Get a Kick Out of You, You're the Top, and of course, Anything Goes.

As a theater geek myself, this show was truly a delight to see!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Can I call 'em?

Yesterday morning in this blog I predicted the Tigers would win last night to sweep the series.  BLESS YOU BOYS!

So I'll go out on a limb and predict a World Series WIN as well.  We're still not sure who the boys will be playing, but I believe it will be a close and very exciting series.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rain Delay Provides A Stay

I'm not a big fan of sports.  Probably a fair-weather friend.  When the teams are winning or get into some kind of championship competition, I'm all about paying attention.

So last night was truly a disappointment when the impending rains -- which didn't arrive until the wee hours of the morning -- provide a stay of execution for the New York Yankees from the fourth (and hopefully final) playoff game.

Fans at the park were ticked, but players for both teams said it was the right thing to do. The rain delay assured that all nine innings could be played.

So, TODAY, we'll see our beloved Tigers win game four and sweep the Yankees in the pennant series.

Not much more to say except "GO TIGERS. ROAAAR!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Life Lessons

I'm a "Stumbler."  I use an add-on to my web browser that utilizes a website known as  How many times have you, while you're searching for information on the web, "stumbled upon" an interesting site but pass it by and never see it again.  This site allow you to give the site a thumbs up and move on to finish your search.

While I was stumbling recently, I came across this beauty, borrowed from Regina Brett:

45 Life Lessons, Written by a 90 Year Old.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for things that matter.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye… But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful.  Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to be happy.  But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose Life.
28. Forgive but don’t forget.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give Time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need.
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Tally: Dinner Time!

I've been hungry for a few meal items that I haven't taken the time to make.  Many of them are comfort food, but some of them are just plain yummy (my opinion).

Here's my short list:

Meatloaf. I use a recipe given to me by a nurse at Scheurer Hospital. One pound each of ground beef and ground pork, one cup bread crumbs, one egg, one bottle of chili sauce and one cup of milk.  The milk through me at first, but this is yummy meatloaf.

Scalloped Potatoes. Didn't we used to spell this "Escalloped?"  Anyway, some nice Yukon Gold potatoes sliced thin, layered with a little flour and ground black pepper and a little pat of butter here and there. Repeat until your casserole dish is nearly full.  I use half and half to cover the potatoes.  Bake at 375F for at least an hour.

Custard Corn. Pretty simple and some people would call it scalloped corn.  I use two cans of yellow corn and one can of white corn.  Mix in one-half cup of bread crumbs, a can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 slightly beaten egg and top with half and half (yeah, I like the extra fat!).  Bake at 375F for an hour.

That silly string bean casserole. If you don't know how to make it, Google it.  LOL

Pumpkin Dessert. This one is work.  Baked graham cracker crust. Then a cream cheese layer, baked! Then cooking the pumpkin mix and adding another layer.  Finally, after it all cools, whipping some cream (don't use Cool Whip), to top it all off.  YUMMY!

So, there's my menu.  Let's eat!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Movie Critique: Argo

If you're more than 40 years old, you probably remember the historic events that are the basis of the movie ARGO.

In 1979, during the Iranian Revolution, Islamic militants take over the U.S. embassy in Tehran in retaliation for the country's support of the recently deposed Shah.

While most of the over 60 embassy staff members are taken as hostages, six manage to flee the embassy and hide in the home of Canadian ambassador.

The State Department begins to explore options for "exfiltrating" the hiding escapees while thier situation is kept secret

CIA specialist Tony Mendez comes up with an idea while watching the science-fiction movie Battle for the Planet of the Apes on TV with his son: create a cover story that the escapees are Canadian filmmakers, scouting "exotic" locations in Iran for a similar film.

An elaborate ruse is concocted as the situation in Tehran is getting more strained. The hostage crisis is dragging into months, and the escapees are growing frantic confined to the ambassador's residence. Shredded documentation from the US embassy is being reassembled, providing the revolutionaries with evidence that there are embassy personal unaccounted for, and their identities.

Through some very tense moments, Mendez succeeds in extracting the escapees from Iran.

To protect the hostages remaining in Tehran from further retaliation, all US involvement in the caper is suppressed, giving credit to the Canadian government and its ambassador.

Mendez is awarded the Intelligence Star, but is unable to keep the medal itself because of the classified nature of the work he did to earn it.

At the end of the movie, we find out that the medal was returned to him when the operation was declassified in 1997, and that, after 444 days, all the remaining hostages were freed on January 20, 1981.

I found this movie fascinating because I recall the crisis quite well. These events and how then President Jimmy Carter handled it probably cost Carter the election.

It's also interesting to note the hostages were released on January 20, 1981 -- just moments before incoming President Reagan was inaugurated into office.  Reagan publicly stated his willingness to using military action to free the hostages.

Screened on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 at Bay City 6, Bay City, MI

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I want, but I do not I need

We want a lot of things. Nice cars, fancy clothes, recreational vehicles, fun vacations.

"What do you want for Christmas?" will be the question from our lips as the holiday approaches and we begin shopping for gifts.

Want, want, want.

But what do we need?

Back in 1943, American psychologist Abraham Maslow, pushed a paper entitled "A Theory of Human Motivation." In that paper he outlined a five-tiered hierarchy of needs.

Physiological needs are the most basic: air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival. Protection in the form of clothing and shelter. Sleep! We all need sleep, which contributes to homeostasis, or a biological balance.

Safety and Security are the needs of the next tier and include: Personal security, financial security, health and well-being.

The third layer of needs include feelings of belongingness. This need is very strong during our childhood. So strong, in fact, that it can over-ride the need for safety. Belonging includes:
Friendship, Intimacy and Family.  Meeting the the need to belong is where cliques and gangs are formed.

Esteem. One of our greatest needs is to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The higher one is the need for self-respect, the need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence and freedom. Deprivation of these needs can lead to an inferiority complex, weakness and helplessness.
“What a man can be, he must be,” is how Maslow described the basis of the perceived need for self-actualization. Maslow describes it as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.

Some psychologists add self-transcendence -- the ability to rise above one's self-actualization -- as the true final need.

Now, armed with this knowledge, I ask you: "What do you need?"

Friday, October 12, 2012


No matter how gray and overcast Michigan's fall weather may be, the Detroit Tigers winning during October playoff games makes it sunny.


Justin V during last night's locker room celebration.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Malala Yousufzai: The Face Of Courage.
When I hear the word courage, I think of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. He wanted nothing more than to have courage. Not the courage to do something, but to do anything.

But what is courage? Webster's Dictionary defines it as: "The ability to do something that frightens one. Strength in the face of pain or grief." Courage can be synonymous with bravery, valor, gallantry or, as the Lion would say, "the nerve."

Yesterday I wrote about fear. Courage is not a lack of fear, but facing fear.

Are you courageous? Would you disagree with the opinion of a friend? How about debating issues over dinner as others watch?

Would you stand up for something you believe to be right? Would you have the courage to die for your beliefs?

For years, 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai had the courage to voice her opinion. She had to course to defy death threats for years.

Tuesday, as she was leaving school, she was shot twice because she promoted education for girls in Pakistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting, citing Malala's pro-Western views and opposition to the Taliban as just cause.

She knew her life was in danger, but she believed the good work she was doing for her community was her best protection, her father said on Wednesday.

The shooting has outraged people in a country seemingly inured to extreme violence since a surge in Islamist militancy began after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Still, while facing death threats, Malala had the courage to recently begin organizing a fund to make sure poor girls could go to school.

"She had planned on making the Malala Education Foundation in Swat," said Ahmed Shah, a family friend and chairman of the Swat Private Schools Association.

Do you have this kind of courage? I'm sure I don't. But then I live in a country that is much different than Malala.

I hope, if I ever had to take a stand, I would be willing to die for what I believed was right.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fear Not!

Are you fearful? Do you worry about things to come? Things that might come your way?
If you are fearful and afraid, why?

If you watch television, especially news channels, you're given plenty of reasons to be scared. And during political campaign season, there's even more to fear.

Daily we're bombarded with the reasons this proposition will make our lives worse or why voting for that candidate will ruin your life.

I'm so tired of hearing why I shouldn't vote for a candidate.  The reasons are so often driven by the focus of one special interest.

Honestly, I don't agree with all the opinions of my family and friends. So why should I expect to see eye to eye on every plank of a political platform?

Sure I'm concerned about what the future holds.  But I can't change it, so why be afraid?

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Tally: Customer Service Expectations

Over the course of the past few months, I have encountered far too many service personnel who are providing not poor service but nearly unacceptable service.  Is this really what American businesses this will keep customers coming back?

So here's a partial list of my Customer Service Expectations:

Promptness: I do not want to spend my time waiting for service.  Restaurants can be the worst. Servers standing around talking to one another or worse, on their cell phone.  Sometimes they have double duty and they're up to their elbows in dishwater.  I get that. But they still have a responsibility to wait on me.

Courtesy: This should be a no-brainer for service people. A cheerful smile and warm greeting.  I'm not looking for someone to fall all over me, but I do expect to be a pleasantries.

Appropriate Answers: When I ask questions I expect answers. "I don't know," or "I'm not sure" are acceptable answers when they are accompanied with the phrase "but let me find out."

Apologies, not excuses: There are times when poor service is unavoidable.  I get that.  But when I voice my concerns, I don't really care why the service was poor.  Just apologize.  "I'm sorry we didn't meet your expectations," goes a long way in ending customer frustration.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.  So many businesses, both large and small, could take lessons from Disney.  Their attention to detail and total focus on their "guests" makes for an exceptional experience time after time.

Monday, October 8, 2012

There's no place like home

Dorothy Gale of Kansas hit the nail on the head when she clicked her heels and recited the magical phrase, “There’s no place like home,” during the ending scenes of the movie classic The Wizard of Oz.

There are times I wish I had a pair of ruby slippers that would transport me home with the click of my heels. That sentiment was omnipresent in my head over the course of last few days.

At my job, we were working on a large project that required additional hours and long days. A couple 14+ hours days and restless nights left me exhausted.

There’s no place like home when you hit the couch after a long day.

Friday morning I headed to Lansing for a two-day EMS conference with speakers that seemed to droned on and on in a conference room that was way too warm for the 100 or so people in attendance.

EMS people don’t know when to sleep.  Our sleep is often interrupted and so we do more napping then sleeping.  I caught a nap from about 1:00 am until about 5:30 am Saturday morning.

There’s no place like home, in my own bed, when I really need to sleep.

To save money on travel, I carpooled with a friend to the conference. Makes sense, until I was actually on the road returning her home and THEN traveled to Detroit to pick up a friend to go see a play.

There’s no place like home when you’re tired and feeling like you are becoming ill.

The play was fun and thankfully my guest for the show offered solace in the guest room at his house.

Still, there’s no place like home when you’re reaching near exhaustion from over extending yourself.

Sunday morning included some shopping and driving back home, then unloading all the crap in the car.

It was good to be home again because there really is no place like home.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Long Days, Short Nights


That's how I feel this morning.  Not really tired right now, but I'm pretty sure that will change later today.

We're working on a major project at my office.  The last couple of weeks has been pretty intense. Yesterday was a 14.5 hour day.

When I finally got home and dropped my butt into the Lazy Boy, I thought about the "good old days" when I worked at the newspaper.  Back then, 14.5 hour days was a walk in the park.  There were many nights spent putting special sections and festival editions of our local weekly newspaper to bed (so to speak).

Long days at the office give me, for some odd reason, a true sense of accomplishment.

Yesterday, my phone beeped a reminder alarm I have set for 4 pm on Wednesdays.  I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why it was beeping until I saw that reminder.  Where had the day gone?  The steady and sometimes very intense events of the day made time fly.

And so much accomplished.  It's a good feeling indeed.

Of course there's a downside to long days and short nights when you're 30-plus years beyond those "good old days."  This morning I feel lethargic and I woke up with a scratchy throat and stuffy head.

But, like those days at the newpaper, there's work to be done and you just forge ahead.

Soon enough, there will be some shorter days and longer nights. At least until the next major project in my life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Full Speed Ahead

I work for an internet service provider and we're working on switching email servers from internal to an external hosted service.  It would be great if it was just a matter of flipping a switch, but that's not in the cards.

The integrators suggested a six- to eight-week transition.  Because of the way our network is designed and the interaction of our own servers with the hosted machine, we're making this cut in about 10 days.

This morning, just after midnight, we changed the routing information to begin sending email to the hosted servers. By 1 am, mail was flowing as expected.

So this morning we face the challenge of the customers who didn't or couldn't follow our instructions to make the required changes to the settings used to access and receive their email.

When I checked last night, around that 1 am mark, roughly 50% of the customers had taken some action toward helping themselves.  That's a good thing.

Hopefully, the other 50% can remain calm and civil, understanding that their mail isn't lost, they just need to find the new post office, so to speak.

So, as I head off to work this morning, with about four hours of sleep, I anticipate a very busy and potentially a 14 to 15 hour day.

When the company owners asked if there was anything they need to do, I simply said, "Pray this goes smoothly."

As we move full speed ahead, I think those prayers have been answered.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Soup's On!

I've been hungry for some good homemade bean soup.  I've never tackled making it, but I remember my mother using a left over ham bone to make the base stock.  Occasionally she'd make it using ham hocks, which instantly turned it into poisons as far as I'm concerned.

For you city slickers, ham hocks are pig's feet. (Yes, you can gag now.)

I seriously doubt my mother followed a recipe for bean soup.  If she did, it was just in her head. I'm willing to experiment, but I like to have a recipe to use as a base.

Sunday night I put a pound of navy beans into a pan of water to soak.  Soaking lets the beans swell and soften a bit before cooking.  It also shorten their cooking time.

I also chopped up some ham I had in the freezer as well as diced potatoes, shredded carrots and chopped a couple onions.

Yesterday morning I tossed it all into the crockpot, along with a couple cans of diced tomatoes and a couple quarts of water.  I added some ground black pepper as well.

By lunchtime, when I stopped by the house to give it a stir, I could smell the soup as I walked in the door.  The beans were still a bit hard, but everything was coming together.

At 5:00 pm, the soup was ON!  It needed some salt, which I was reluctant to add because of the chopped ham.  But, overall, it was a successful batch of soup.

Some will be lunch today, some will go in the freezer and the rest has made it's way to my dad's house.  It will make a quick lunch for him someday.

Bill's Bean Soup
1 lb Navy Beans
4 cups diced ham
4 cups diced potatoes
2 cups shredded carrot
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 or 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
Salt & Pepper to taste

Soak the navy beans over night.  In the morning, place all ingredients in a crockpot and set it on low. Stir occasionally, letting it cook approximately eight-hours.


Monday, October 1, 2012

The Best Made Plans

This week will surely prove to be a challenge at work, which will spill into my after-hours life as well.

We'll be making major changes to services provided to roughly half of our subscribers which will require our subscribers to take action to avoid interruption.

We have a plan and are trying to stick with it. But I'm finding that every step in the plan throws us a curve ball that needs a reactionary decision.

By our estimates, we figure roughly 50% of the customers will need some type of assistance, either immediate or within a week of our 12:01 am cut on Wednesday.

It will be a challenge, but I always work best with my head in a vise. And when I feel a little overwhelmed, I pause and say a quick prayer.

So, Hello Monday!  Here we go!

You can say a prayer too!