Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finally, Golfing in 2008

We went golfing for the first time in 2008. We went to Fig Garden and played 13 holes (then the sun went down!). It was great. Tracy did fantastic! I was 11 over after 13 holes. On 8, 9 and 10, I got par, par, birdie! Tracy had a number of holes with double bogeys, which is excellent considering this is only the second year she's played!

The sunset was pretty nice. This camera phone picture doesn't do it justice!

Yosemite In April

We went to Yosemite yesterday. The weather was nice, and a few thousand others had the same idea. Here's the line to get into the park -

Once we made it in, it was Yosemite at it's best! They cut down a bunch of trees at Inspiration Point. The view has been restored!

Could you think of a better place to have lunch?!

We hiked up to lower Yosemite falls -

Then we continued on - along a trail north of Yosemite Village. Lost Arrow Spire is just above Tracy -

The view from the meadow was - gorgeous!

Some day, I want to hike to Columbia Rock -

Monday, April 21, 2008


We had a guest speaker at Northside last weekend. His name is Bob Russell and he's the pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The sermon was "Jesus, The Cure for a Thankless Heart". He said, "Weather you're a contented, happy person is a whole lot more determined by your attitude than it is by your circumstances". That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Chuck Swindoll -

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home. The remarkable thing is, we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our attitudes."

Here's an excerpt from Bob's sermon. It's not a very positive description of Americans. I'm not trying to bash Americans, but I do notice the negative, complaining attitude many people have. And on the flip side, I live with and work with many very grateful and positive people!

The Fence is Coming Right Along (notice how I didn't say it was 'complete')

Just as promised, we painted (water-sealed) the West section of new fence last weekend. There's just a few little 'tidy-up things' to do, and then I can pronounce the 'Great Fence Project of 2008' complete. I wish I could pronounce the 'Great Kitchen Project of 2003' complete. I'm still procrastinating on the last small bits of trim that need to be installed at the bottom of a couple of cabinets. Let's hope the fence project 'tidy-up things' are done by the year 2013!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

14 Years and One E-mail Address

Nick is 14 now. He's spent a lot of time in front of a computer in those last 14 years. Above is an early picture of him playing "The Tortoise and the Hair" when he was about 2. He's never been especially interested in the Internet, My Space, e-mail, or any of that popular stuff (thank goodness), but yesterday he finally asked me if he could have his own e-mail account. I thought he would want an e-mail account years ago, but he just wasn't interested. So we set him up last night with his very first e-mail address - Today I figured out why he wanted an e-mail address. It seems that World of Warcraft isn't working quite right, and he needed to send an e-mail to their support staff to report the problem. "Necessity is the mother of invention", or the mother of an e-mail address in this case!

Nick - age 14 (now he's allowed access to the keyboard)

Climbing Mt. Lyell in 1958

My Dad made an attempt on Mt. Lyell back in 1958 (he was 21), and today he sent me a couple of pictures from that trip. Here's what he said -

"I thought you might enjoy this picture scanned from a slide. The person waving the hat is your old dad on his way up the Lyell Glacier headed for the top. As you know, I (nor the girl in the photo) made it to the summit because of the crevasse at the top of the glacier and the steepness of the rock above it. We did, however, make it to the saddle between Lyell and McClure. The year was probably 1958, and I bet the glacier has retreated a great deal since then.."

"If memory serves me, this photo was taken at the upper base camp, and Mt. Lyell is in the upper right hand corner."

One of the cool parts about this is, a long time ago (I was probably around 21), my friend Scott and I hiked through the Lyell canyon and climbed Mt. Donohue which is just Northeast of Mt. Lyell. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mood For A Day

I started learning this song about 25 years ago. Back then, I only learned the first part of the song, then I stopped playing the guitar. 2 or 3 years ago, I got a wild hair and decided to try to learn the entire song. Fortunately computers and the Internet had been invented. That made learning the song a lot easier. It was easier due to 3 things...

1. I was able to find the 'Tab' (easy to read guitar sheet music) for the song. This could have been more helpful if it was more accurate.

2. I could rip the song off the CD and open it with an audio player that allowed me to see the waveform and select any portion the song to listen to (so I could listen note-by-note if necessary).

3. I discovered that you can find just about any song you can think of being played by people all over the world on YouTube. After finding a YouTube video of someone talented, playing the song, I could then figure out the fingering (like I said, the Tab wasn't very accurate).

With these 3 things available, I simply needed to sit down and learn the song! So after 2 or 3 years of practicing, I was ready. I went to the bathroom (I thought that would give the audio a nice reverb effect), sat my little Panasonic digital camera on the back of the toilet, set it on 'movie' mode and recorded this video. That explains the poor sound and video quality (at least that's what I like to think). Then I discovered that I needed a video editing program to cut out the part of the video where I'm walking to and from the camera to start and stop the recording. A buddy gave me his copy of Adobe Premiere Elements that he wasn't using (thanks Gary!) and for the first time, I tried my hand at video editing. Adobe Photoshop has always been one of my favorite programs, and I've always thought I would enjoy movie editing on a computer (vs. moving editing with a splicer and clear tape like I did on Super 8 film in the 70's). Now I may just have to go and buy a video camera...

So here's my first Internet performance in my first video ever, who knows what will be next!?!?

Wax on, wax off, paint the fence...

I said the fence was complete, but what I meant was, "the major construction portion of the great 2008 fence project is complete". Last weekend we put on some nice Behr Waterproofing Wood Protector - Natural No. 300. That made the fence quite a bit darker. Much to the dismay of my son, we dragged him out of the nice air conditioned house and forced him to help paint the fence. Next weekend, we paint 70 more feet on the West side of the yard!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Fence is Complete

All that was left to complete the backyard fence at the beginning of the weekend was to build the gate. That seemed easy enough, although my gate is 11 feet wide, and it is actually 2 gates in one. It is made so the entire 11 foot length can swing open, or, a smaller 3 foot section can more easily be opened and closed for quick access. I didn't think it would take too long to build, but by 7:00 on Sunday night, I realized I was WRONG!

Try spending 12 hours over the course of a weekend in this position and see how your legs feel on Monday!

I built the large portion of the gate (seen above) on Saturday. I spend a lot of time calculating and analyzing because, well quite frankly I do paperwork for a living, so I'm rather green when it comes to construction. I felt like some guy in the middle ages trying to figure out how to build the first backyard fence gate. On Sunday I needed to go to the store to buy more gate parts. I needed more screws to finish, so I started browsing the Screw Isle. After noticing there were more kinds of screws than colors of red in my new redwood fence, I decided I should actually read the boxes to see what kind of screws I should be using (that was a mistake). I discovered to my delight that there are screws that should be used for drywall - "not to be used where rust would be undesirable". Then there are screws that you would use out-of-doors on things like a deck, or YOUR NICE NEW FENCE GATE YOU BIG MORON! Why did I use all those drywall screws on my gate? I don't know, but I was at least smart (anal) enough to know that I should get these deck screws and simply replace the drywall screws in the part of the gate I built on Saturday; "that won't be too hard, right?" was what I thought. So when I got home, I simply started removing the screws from the pickets and replacing them with deck screws. Oh, and then there were the screws in the brackets, oh and the screws in the rails, and the screws underneath the hinges, and HOW MANY SCREWY SCREWS DID I PUT IN THIS THING! So after about 2 hours I had build the large portion of the gate - for the second time!

So, now all that's left is to build the small gate - that should be easy, because it's a lot smaller! But wait, I have to do a lot more analysis, because I wouldn't want to put in a screw, and then have to take it out later because I put it in, in the wrong order! As I'm happily putting screws in using my trusty old Black & Decker drill, I smell a touch of that burning electronics smell that's generally not something you want to be smelling. That brought back the memory of the day my wife gave me that drill 18 years ago. I thought, "boy, this old drill just keeps on going, just like the Energizer Bunny®. I ought to call Black & Decker and give them a glowing customer testimonial about how great their drills are!" Well, it wasn't ten minutes later that, all at once, a large puff of smoke emerged from the casing of the drill, and it promptly stopped 'drilling'. Oh great! Forget it Black & Decker, I'm not calling you now, this piece of junk just burned up, and I've only been using it for every drilling job for the last 18 years! Just kidding, that poor old drill should have died years ago. I certainly got my $39.95 worth out of it, so I gave the drill a proper burial - that's right, I quickly tossed it in the recycle bin and jumped in the truck to head to Home Depot - wooooo whoooooo - I get to buy a new drill! Unfortunately the first Home Depot I went to was all out of the drill that was just right for me, so I had to drive to another Home Depot, and luckily, they had it in stock. No wonder it took so long to build this gate! Just a few more touches and the gate will be 100% done. Then I can move onto cleaning up the dirt and flowerbeds around the rest of the new backyard fence.

And here's the gate, in all it's over-analyzed glory!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Family Portrait

This is an old picture, but it's one of my favorites. It took all day to convince all the characters to meet us at the hub at noon, but it really paid off! I was disappointed that Goofy couldn't make it, and Cruella was not very happy, but other than that, it was a great picture! That's Rasmus, our foriegn exchange student next to Mrs. Incredible (Elasti-girl). Nick was only 10!