Friday, May 10, 2013
Lydia's Thought Spot: My First Blog: I am sitting at my computer, wrapped snugly in my super soft leopard print fleece blanket, attempting to write my very first blog post, ever...
Saturday, April 27, 2013
If you don't see it, zoom in, and look closely... yeah, that's a 3 to 4 foot long, inch-diameter snake, just a few feet from where I'd just been walking around. (No, I didn't panic; I pulled out the camera and took this pic, and a few more, slowly inching the mower closer and closer... which the snake didn't like, and eventually slithered its way off into the woods.) Oh, yeah, that's our fence in the picture (I'm on the outside of the fence here). Nearest I can tell (by my post-picture sleuthing) it's a grey rat snake (I'm not much on identifying critters, so I had to wait until the internet could help me figure out what it was). Non-venomous. And, based on the recent present one of our dogs left on our back porch (a dead, slightly disemboweled rat), probably a good friend to have around.
Speaking of friends, if you're a friend (or even if you're not), check out what some of my kids are doing this summer: my youngest two boys (Ronnie & Alex) are going to be working at summer camps sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship, while our daughter Lydia (our oldest child) will be working at a summer arts camp... in Madrid, Spain! Both opportunities are very exciting (and we're very proud of our kids for volunteering in these ministries), albeit somewhat costly; each boy has to attend a training session (at a cost of $435 each), and Lydia's trip will require roughly $2500 in various expenses. If you'd like to contribute to the expenses, you can visit the info and donation page I set up to find out more (each kid has written a letter about the ministry which are available at the site) and donate to help with the expenses through PayPal (and thanks in advance for any donations, and even more for prayer - both for the kids, and the ones they'll be ministering to, and for mom to keep her cool while her baby girl is on another continent).
My other boy, Justin, has also been busy recently with his "daily" YouTube show, "The Daily Chicken" - even though it really only comes out weekly. I've also been helping out a little by getting a website set up for them: chickenforth.com. There's not much out there on the website yet (I'm working on a "Virtual Chicken Challenge Chest" - and if you wonder what that is, you'll have to watch the videos at The Daily Chicken YouTube Channel to find out!). Oh, and a concussion he suffered a few weeks back (at the hands of his younger brother, Ronnie).
Speaking of videos... do you remember Hee Haw or The Carol Burnett Show? Do you miss that kind of fun, mainly clean entertainment? Well, then, have I got a show for you: The Mythical Show. Featuring Rhett and Link (well, not just featuring them... it's their concept!), it's a half hour of entertainment that's safe for the family to watch along with you. And a real half hour, not twenty-two minutes and eight minutes of commercials (although the first episode was really only 29:03, not a full 30:00). I recommend putting it on your living room TV (via the Wii or PS3 or just hooking up your laptop's HDMI output to your TV) and watching with your family. A new episode will come out every Thursday (at least for a dozen weeks), although once out, it's available for instant streaming at any time, so you don't have to sit down and watch it exactly when it comes out. Try it, and hopefully you'll like it.
OK, that's enough for this edition of LBD... until next time...
Saturday, March 16, 2013
This 50' split oak was about 2 feet from the fence, 20-30 feet from the above ground pool, and basically dead. Tonight, it looks more like this:
And all that happened with $10 worth of 2x4s, a hand saw (pretty awesome saw, this one - highly recommended!), $10 worth of 100' nylon braided rope, and risk loving teenage boys. We built a ladder onto the tree, then cut it down in pieces, with rope attached to the pieces we were cutting in order to guide the pieces down without hitting anything.
Guess what? We did it! Without breaking anything (or anyone) in the process. (OK, I did break a hammer attempting to remove one of the two-by-four steps - well, the nail from one of those, and there was a slight gouge on the fence post in that picture, but you can't really see it.) You can see the whole "tree saga" in photos here, but as a summary, here's a few from the album:
Cool, huh? But I'm worn out. Thanks to Justin, Ronnie, and Alex for the help taking down the tree (and splitting the resulting logs), and to Lydia and Ninfa for their assistance during and after the process (cleaning up the debris, for instance). And to God for making sure we didn't break anything or anyone in the process of saving a few bucks by not calling a tree service. Tomorrow (maybe) I'll write about the absolute silliness of our income taxes, but for now, this will have to do. Took a tree down in less than a week, from "just a tree" to a stack of firewood (too bad I don't have a wood-burning fireplace!).
OK, night, all!
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Positive: I got to play in Lydia's Junior Jury Recital today! I was very pleased to have this opportunity, that she shared it with me, and that she even asked. Of course, the real star today was Lydia (and her "full" accompanist, Bekah, whose piano skills are quite covetable; now, I'd say the same "covetable" thing about Lydia's voice, but people might consider it a bit odd if I was a powerful first soprano). The piece I got to play with her on was "All of Me" - like the one below (Billie Holiday), but up four half steps (or two whole steps, if you prefer). It was a lot of fun, and an experience that I imagine not a lot of dads get to enjoy, which I did! Thanks, Lydia! (Note: I'm not quite as good as the sax player in the Billie Holiday version - might could be, if it were my profession, but I'm just an amateur.) We'll be doing it again April 4th, if you're interested in the rest of the concert. Oh, and yes, she passed the jury!
Negative: car dealerships. Whether incompetent or unscrupulous, don't tell me "we're close; bring your car in for us to take a look" when we're not even close. I have a 2006 Kia Sedona (LX) that I asked if they'd be able to trade for a couple of vehicles on their lot, a 2002 Isuzu Rodeo (S, 2wd, V6) and a 91 Olds 88. "I think we're close" he says. I think we should be - the Isuzu has a trade value of 2350-2850 or so (NADA), and the Olds - well, you can't even get trade values for it from NADA or KBB online. My Sedona has a trade value, even with its "excessive" mileage (137k or so) of 3050-3800 (NADA). So, I figure, we're close, let's go see. (Why two? 'Cause Ronnie just turned 16, and a "big" minivan isn't quite a great teen vehicle, and it would be convenient to have something for him as well as something for me to run around in as well.) Of course, I can't get to the dealership before they sell the Olds, but the guy assures me, "I have a few more in mind that should work." So this evening, on the way back from a great day in Jackson, MS (where Lydia goes to school), I stop by. Long story short: they offer me $1,500 for the Sedona and want me to pay over $4k to trade the 06 Sedona for just the 02 Isuzu. Um, no. 1) My van is worth at least twice what you're offering (based on the fact that they were claiming the Isuzu was wholesale value at the price they were listing it - they were way off there); 2) that's not "close" - that's "way far apart"; 3) I'm not going to pay money to trade my "old" car - on which everything works - for your older car, on which not even everything works (the rear wiper doesn't work and the button on the rear door to open the glass portion is loose and falls out). And why are you wasting my time? I spent an hour or so at the dealer for "we're close" when you aren't even in the same ballpark - what you told me was either incompetent (you didn't know what you were talking about, or you failed to check on what you were saying prior to saying it) or unscrupulous (you flat out lied, or you failed to check on what you were saying prior to saying it). Either way, you're wasting my time. (If you want to know what dealer, it's Springhill Toyota in Mobile.)
So, anyway, positives and negatives today... but the positives definitely outweighed the negatives! And if you're interested in Lydia's recital (9 songs or so), let me know and I'll get you the details. And if you're interested in buying a well-cared-for 2006 Kia Sedona (so I can buy a couple of older, cheaper cars), let me know...
Saturday, February 2, 2013
- average new house cost:
- 1965: $21.500
- 2010: $272,900
- a gallon of gas:
- 1965: 31 cents
- 2013: 3.40 (or so)
- a loaf of bread:
- 1965: 21 cents
- 2010: $1.88
Sunday, January 13, 2013
The following article may be invaluable to you, sooner or later:
Acorns are all around us (there's about a billion of them on the ground next to where I park at church), and generally they're free. If you don't have any in your yard or neighborhood, check your local park; they probably have them all over the ground. And if you happen to have oak trees in your yard, even easier to collect: just set out some baskets underneath the tree(s), or perhaps some small opening net, such as fishnet or screen, on the ground, then all you have to do is collect the baskets or pick up the netting. Why, you ask? Since they're free, it will reduce your grocery bill. Just replace your use of flour with acorn meal, and other staples as well. I haven't read the whole article, but I do recall acorn pancakes.
This will be especially helpful once your paycheck starts to decrease due to the increased social security taxes this year. In fact, not only will you be able to reduce your grocery bill, you might be able to start offering the acorn meal to friends and family and/or start selling it from a roadside stand to supplement the diminished paychecks, a win-win!
Of course, if you're allergic to nuts, I wouldn't recommend trying this, as an acorn is still a nut. I'm allergic to nuts, I think, but of the human variety... I don't even have to touch them before I start to show symptoms, typically irritability and lack of listening.
(If you do happen to start making a ton of money off sales of acorn meal, please consider a donation to the author of this blog, so I can continue bringing you money saving and money making tips!)
Friday, January 11, 2013
First, attached (down below) is a pic of a nasty bug that was on my windshield as I started off for Upward Basketball this evening. It wasn't on there for long, once I started getting speed up to where it could no longer hold to the windshield, poor bug. I didn't go back to look for it though.
So, I guess you're wondering why I say Alabama cheats, huh? Well, I'll tell you. It has to do with a speeding ticket. No, not my ticket, and not one of my kids' tickets, but I won't tell you whose it was (even though I was in the act of paying it). So, in Alabama you essentially have two choices for paying a ticket: go to court, and pay the court cost on top of your ticket fine, or pay it online, with a "convenience fee" tacked on. There's no way to pay just the fine. To me, that's cheating, tacking on extra money beyond the fine, that there's no way around. And so, Alabama cheats, increasing revenue of fines without the legislation to increase said fines, and without increasing the fines themselves. Cheating.
The whole "online payment convenience fee" thing is really bogus, anyway. Instead of having to pay someone to take my payment info over the phone, or to pay someone to process the endorsing and depositing of a check, your website processes the payment automatically. In reality, you should get a convenience discount for paying online, since you're saving whoever you're paying quite a bit by paying online. But, as usual, common sense takes a back seat to common cents. (Ha ha, see what I did there?)
And we're all going to need discounts, what with our "no tax increase on the middle class" going on. As with most people, my paycheck was cut this first paycheck of 2013. Social security tax went up by 2%, which equates to 47% more SS tax per paycheck. The irony is that SS tax is only calculated on the first $113,700 of your paycheck. That is, those who make well north of middle class will only be additionally taxed as much as those who make the aforementioned 113k. Proportionately, the percentage will actually be lower, since the additional tax dollar amount is a much lower percentage of the overall pay.
Anyway, enough about that for now (ask if you want more info or specific examples). Unrelatedly, I'm typing this blog out on my new to me phone, an LG Lucid, with no physical keyboard (while watching "Sherlock" on Netflix). Hopefully I've caught and corrected all the typos in this post. If not feel free to berate me. I'm a big boy (but dieting!), so I can take it. I think.