Friday, February 28, 2014

Laserbot

While I've had a lot of activity in my Lego world lately I have not been building models at the rate I had been. I've got an entire storage bin full of kits waiting to be opened and built. 

Other projects and responsibilities have taken priority over my free time. Writing a post every day takes up the time I normally would spend building. 

Having said that, today I am proud to present my latest Lego project: The Laserbot from Rescue Robot kit #5760. It is the first model from a retired kit (I got it off of Ebay last year). 







What's unique about this robot and this kit is that it has a light block. It's a special 2X3 Lego block that has a batter powered light inside it. 

I've posted a video on Facebook that demonstrates the action of the Laserbot. If you are a FB friend you can go there to see it. 

So I'm ending my 2nd month of my "blog every day for a year" challenge with yet another "go to" subject: Lego. 

Recently I've had the opportunity to use my enjoyment of Lego to reach out to others. I'll be posting about that experience one day during the first week of March. Come back and read about it then.  






Thursday, February 27, 2014

Another SG Construction

A couple of years ago I posted about a trio of construction projects and a church expansion taking place simultaneously here in Smiths Grove. It was notable because it was a considerable amount of activity for the size of this little town. 

Now another building construction has started. When it's finished it will change the way people of the area shop for their groceries. 

Currently the only grocery store in "the grove" is an IGA store a half a block off main street. It is just across the street from the vet office where I take Angel. But that store is scheduled to close in a couple of months. 

The Shell gas station and convenience store that was on Main Street right next to the McDonald's (the one that was remodeled in 2011) has been torn down. The gas pumps have been removed as well. 

A new store called "Crossroads IGA" is currently being built. Here are some shots of the current construction. 




The new store will be bigger than a convenience store but smaller than the IGA that's open now. There will be a few more gas pumps than there was at the Shell station it's replacing. 

I think the company that owns both properties, Houchens Industries, is trying to duplicate the success of the Crossroads IGA store that's in Bowling Green; just off I-65 18 miles south at exit 26. 

But whatever the reason for the change I don't like it. For us the IGA grocery store is a close-to-home alternative to driving to 20 miles to Bowling Green to get groceries. We will miss it. 

In addition, once the new gas pumps are open the traffic on Main Street will increase. The 18 wheelers coming off the interstate, making a left turn into the truck stop (which is on the other side of the construction site) makes that area just off the highway difficult to negotiate at times. Now the cars coming off I-65 also turning cross traffic to that same side of the road is going to make it even more congested. 

Not anything to worry about for someone just passing through once but those of us who have to come off the highway and go through town two or more times a day it will be hassle. 

Once the Crossroads store opens the city or state highway department needs to mark the road and left hand turn lane better for those not familiar with the traffic pattern.   

Anyway, I promise I'll post pictures of the finished IGA project when the store opens in a couple of months.    

There you have the latest construction news for Smiths Grove. I wish I was telling you about a new nationally known restaurant or a major hotel chain building here but I can't. 

As busy as our I-65 exchange is here I don't know why either of those two things have not happened. I know nothing about property or business development. But I'm just a guy who lives in a ranch style house at the opposite end of town who writes a blog. 






Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2 Nashville 2 C Paisley-Part 3


Let's wrap up this post series with the best part of the concert: Brad Paisley's show. 


This was the view from our new seats. Because of the brightness of the lights the shot is a bit bleached out. 

I was really excited about seeing Brad Paisley in concert. He has been my favorite country singer for about a decade. Ever since his first couple of singles: "Who Needs Pictures" and "He Didn't Have To Be."

The concert wasn't exactly what I expected. It was a very good multimedia presentation. There were lights, lasers, video screens, special effects, videos and more. But I didn't get to hear a lot of the songs I would have wanted.

The most memorable video of the night was one that started out with William Shatner playing Captain Kirk. The captain   was appealing to Paisley to come and rescue him from the "Kardashians." 

What followed was a long guitar solo by Paisley behind an animated video that portrayed members of the band as either a Star Trek or Star Wars character. Mixing those two genres was a little bit of a si-fi "faux pas". But given the make up of the crowd and its collective state of inebriation I was probably the only one who noticed.  

The thing I'll remember most about the night is that Paisley played part of a song on a guitar, autographed it and then gave it to a little boy who was holding a sign that indicated he was a real fan. 

I won't go into a song by song review of the whole show. Overall I enjoyed it but it wasn't what I'd expected. 

First of all it was too loud (more on that is coming up) and there was too much guitar playing and not enough singing. 

Now I know Brad Paisley is one of the best guitar players there is in the music business today and he makes sure everyone knows it by what he does in his concerts. 

But I would have liked to have had him perform more of his slower songs or ballads. He did do an acoustic set but it wasn't long enough. 

Perhaps the highlight of the entire concert was when during the song "Remind Me" Carrie Underwood came out on stage. The crowd went wild. Her vocal performance was a little difficult to hear because of audio problems. 

While the audience really lost their minds when Underwood came out; I wasn't that surprised. I knew when Paisley started singing the song what was going to happen. I wasn't that impressed with her appearance because I really don't care for the song. 

The best visual effect of the show came on the last song. Paisley sang "Water" (a fast song I really like). There was all kind of swimming scenes on the video screens and projected over the entire stage. At the end of the song Paisley got up on the back platform, threw down his guitar, and jumped off into what looked like a water tank and swam away. 

His encore song and the one he ended the concert with was "Alcohol". Of course the half drunk crowd loved the song. But it left me feeling let down. Simply because that song is perhaps my least favorite Brad Paisley song. 

I loved the performances of "Waitin On A Woman" and "This Is Country Music". The tribute videos included with those songs made the concert for me. 

After our evening at Bridgestone that included sitting with our friends; listening to Brad, Carrie, Chris, Danielle perform, and watch the unsolicited "Dirty Dancing" exhibition of the redneck version of "Johnny Castle" and "Baby", Paula and I made a decision. We have out grown arena concerts. They are just too long and too loud. 

We'll continue to attend concerts in halls and theaters but not in an arena venue ever again. I guess that says more about us than it does anything else.  

So that concludes this 3 part series of our trip to Nashville to see Brad Paisley in concert. I've probably written a lot more about it than you ever wanted to know. But in my defense I do have a commitment to writing 365 posts and I'm only about 16% of the way through it. I have to have something to write about.

What else am I going to do? Make videos, put them up on You Tube, blog about them, and include a link for my readers to click to watch them? Hey wait a minute??? That's so crazy it just might work. Keep in touch you just may have just witnessed the birth of a notion.  







Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2 Nashville 2 C Paisley-Part 2

Continuing with the story about my first trip to Nashville this year for a Brad Paisley concert. I left off yesterday as we were leaving The Pharmacy restaurant for the Bridgestone Arena. 

Before I start this 2nd part of the story let me give you a bit of my perspective on the concert experience.

When Paula and I got home on Saturday night (actually early Sunday morning) I had every intention of writing a post about what a "nightmare" the whole trip to Nashville was. But I've changed my mind.

What I'm going to do is convey how the night turned out to be a microcosm of the effect people can have on your life. 
But I will integrated with the events of the concert. 

We arrived in the heart of downtown Nashville about the time the first of a pair of opening acts, Danielle Bradbery, the season 4 winner of NBC's show "The Voice", was taking the Bridgestone Arena stage. It really didn't matter that we were missing it. We weren't at all familiar with her music. 

Our seats were in section 303 Row P; on the end of the arena opposite the stage. We were four rows from the top of the building. Paula and I had the two seats on the aisle. I was glad that we had only paid $15 for the seats. But at least we were in the building.

By the time we got settled in Ms. Bradbery was finishing her set. An on-stage DJ played music between acts. That was something I hadn't ever seen at a concert before. 

The next act was Chris Young. I didn't know him by name but once he started singing his hits I knew who he was. 



Now here's the part where the "microcasm" I mentioned earlier comes into play. 

In the seats directly in front of Paula and I was a couple that obviously had been drinking for quite a while. They had cans of beer in their hands and were really enjoying the concert. Their "good time" turned out to be an issue for many of others around them. 

The problem was that they were standing up dancing and blocking the view of everyone behind them; especially us. Now that was not the only thing that was bothersome about this couple. 

They weren't just dancing they were "dirty dancing" redneck style. The longer they danced more lewd their movements became. They acted like they didn't care who was watching them or what they did. I couldn't see anything on stage. All I saw was the two of them gyrating in front of me. It was frustrating and totally embarrassing at the same time. 

Here I was with my wife, my associate pastor's wife, her daughter, and her daughter's church friends and their was nothing I could do about what was going on in front of them. It infuriated me. I could have easily "lost it" if Paula had not kept me calm. 

By the time Chris Young's act was finished I was ready to leave. Paula and I walked out of the arena to calm down and decide what we wanted or could do about the situation. 

On our way out I asked a young girl who was the usher in our section if there was anything that could be done about the couple in front of us. She said all she could do was make sure they kept the aisle clear. 

After talking it over out on the concourse my wife and I decided that going down to the ground floor and sitting in the lobby until Brad Paisley was finished was our best course of action. I just couldn't go back to our seats and endure what was going on anymore. 

We couldn't leave because Patty was still in the arena waiting for the rest of the show to start.   

At Paula's suggestion we decided to go back in and sit in some seats on the other side of the aisle in the same section. They had been empty the entire time. 

As we walked into the arena, that same usher stopped us and directed us to some better seats close to the entrance way. We sat down just as Brad Paisley was starting his show. We texted Patty and invited her down to join us. She came down and watched with us. 

The best part of the whole concert was what that usher did for us. I'm pretty sure her seating suggestions either broke or at least bent arena policy. But by allowing us to have those seats, she turned a horrible concert experience into one that was somewhat enjoyable. 

While the actions of that rude, self-centered, drunk couple had ruined the concert for us the simple gesture of the usher turned our night around.

It is her actions that I will choose to remember from the concert; not that couple in front of us. I tried to give her a tip to thank her for her kindness. She refused it saying "that's okay sir, I was just doing my job."

It just goes to show that you can choose the you effect you have in this world. If you choose to be self-centered and inconsiderate you'll have a negative effect on those you come in contact with. But if you are kind and consider the welfare of those you come in contact with you can have a positive impact on others. A simple but very true observation. 

I enjoyed Brad Paisley but not as much as I thought I would. There were good parts and not so good parts of his show. I'll go into that in a little more detail in part 3 of this series tomorrow. 



   

Monday, February 24, 2014

2 Nashville 2 C Paisley-Part 1

As mentioned yesterday, this the first in what will be at least a 2 part post series. It's about my first excursion of 2014 to the city of Nashville. It was part of the 2nd half of a busy February Saturday. We went to a Brad Paisley concert at the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville.

There are a lot of things I could write about this trip that would portray the experience as a bad one. But I'm not going to. More on my reasoning behind this decision in the next post. 

About a month ago our friend, Patty Quigley, mentioned that her daughter, Amy, was going to get some tickets to a Brad Paisley concert on February 22. With the military discount (Amy is currently enlisted in the US Air Force) the ticket cost would be just $15. 

I am a Brad Paisley fan. He is my favorite contemporary country music singer. I jumped at the chance to go see him at such a low price. 

On Saturday afternoon, Paula, Patty, and I left for Nashville about 3:30 PM. We were going to meet Amy and some her friends from her church for dinner at a place we'd never eaten before, The Nashville Pharmacy. 

The Nashville Pharmacy is a small restaurant/bar located in the 700 block of McFerrin Avenue in Northeast Nashville. It specializes in burgers, beer and old school soda fountain treats. Those treats include homemade sodas. They call them "phosphates." That's just an old fashioned word for the type of carbonation. 

There's also old fashioned style ice cream sodas, flavored with a variety of flavored syrups, milkshakes and malts. 

The main menu featured specialty hamburgers accented with a wide variety of toppings making a specific flavor combination. Or you can create your own burger by adding the toppings of your choice. 

There was also a choice of a variety of homemade sausages which the call "wursts" 

The menu also includes a small variety of sides including German style potato salad, sweet potato fries and regular fries. 

Here's the link to the restaurant's website for all the information you may need to know if you are interested in learning more. The Pharmacy In Nashville 

When we arrived at the restaurant it was very crowded with people waiting outside. We were told we had about a 45 minute wait for a table but we only waited about half that time. 

We were led through the main dinning room and bar area to our table. This part of the restaurant was relatively small and jam packed. I'm glad we were led up some steps to their indoor patio area enclosed in glass windows. There was also an outdoor patio area that would have been a nice place to sit had it been a warmer afternoon. 

Here's a picture of my wife and our friends at our table. 
  
About 30 minutes after we sat down 3 of Amy's friends joined us: Sara, Rachel and her fiance, Scott. The couple had come to dinner just after their wedding shower. All three were very nice young adult Christians.  It was a pleasure to meet them.

The only negative thing I can say about our Pharmacy experience was that it took more than 30 minutes after we ordered to get our food. 

Paula and I both ordered burgers. Mine was just a plain cheeseburger with cheddar, Swiss, and Munster on it. 

The burgers were on breading that was a cross between a dinner roll and an English muffin. It was good but I'd never had anything like it before. 

The burger was very large probably about 8 ounces in weight and 4 inches in diameter. It was accompanied by a huge portion of french fries cooked in peanut oil. They were delicious. I couldn't stop eating them; something I'd come to regret. 

Paula had Stroganoff burger with sour cream on it. She said it was good. Patty ordered a cherry ice cream soda. Paula had a taste saying it was "very rich". I was going to try an ice cream soda but after seeing the size of my meal, decided  against it. 

For me this restaurant experience turned negative but it was my own fault. The food was so good I just gobbled it down as fast as I could. I overate to the point where it upset my stomach. The quantity of what I ate combined with the amount of fat in it was not good for me. 

When you are a gastric bypass patient and you get an upset stomach from over eating fatty foods it is very unpleasant. While waiting for the rest of those at our table to eat their meals or enjoy a couple cups of coffee I was miserable. 

My "pouch" aka my stomach, would take care of my indigestion. I won't go into details but will say that by the time we got to the arena for the concert I was feeling better.  

The coffee that was served to my wife, Patty, and Sara was exceptionally good. When the shift manager came by our table they asked him what brand of coffee it was. Much to our surprise he knew the name of the coffee and told us who their supplier was. 

The cost of our meal (we only had burgers platters and soft drinks) was under $25. For the quality of the food that was 
very reasonable. You can check out the menu on the website to see what your meal might cost you. 

I would not hesitate to go back to The Pharmacy again. Next time I'll know to split a platter with Paula. Half a burger and a side would be plenty. 

After everyone finished their meal we left for downtown Nashville heading to the Bridgestone Arena and the Brad Paisley concert. More on that tomorrow in part 2. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Job Fair Morning

Yesterday, Saturday February 22, I got up early and headed into Bowling Green. The purpose of my early morning venture was to attend a pair of job fairs. 

I've been to several job fairs over the past couple of months but the two I went to on Saturday are for jobs that you could say are on my "bucket list." 


The first job fair was for a summer job at Beech Bend Park, a local amusement park.  Ticket sales and retail department was the position I expressed interest during my interview.  

I know it's a universe away from Walt Disney World but I've always been curious about what its like to work in an amusement park atmosphere. This may be my chance. 

After a brief initial interview I was told I'd be called back for a second interview next week. 

The next job fair on my morning agenda was for the Bowling Green Hot Rods baseball team.


This is the 2nd time this year I've applied with the Hot Rods. The jobs I interviewed for this time are ticket agent and video production team. 

Now I still have not had any kind of call back or contact from the Hot Rods regarding my audition for being their PA announcer for the season. 

When I asked the Hot Rods people at the job fair about decision on the PA position they told me that "they were still working on it" and would be in contact with me soon. 

So during the pair of interviews I had at this job fair I made sure they knew that being the PA announcer is my top preference when it comes to working for the Hot Rods. 

I also made it very apparent that working for their organization would be something that I would be proud to do. 

Working for a professional baseball organization is something I've wanted to do since I've been a baseball fan. At first my plans included doing it as a major league player, then as a baseball announcer. 

As an 11 year old boy, somehow, I came up with the idea that baseball teams paid people to be "professional fans" just to make sure there was always spectators at their games. I planned on growing up and being one of those fans. What can I say? I was 11. 

Now that all those dreams for being part of the world of baseball are long over I can still make a bit of my childhood goal come true by working in the minor league organization right here in South Central Kentucky.  

So now there's a couple more possibilities for getting another part time job to get back to the income level I had when working full time. 

I've always been good at getting part time jobs. There was a time back in the early 90's when I had 4 part time jobs at the same time. They were how I made ends meet while I attended business school for a year. 

I'm thinking perhaps that may be the way to go now that I'm older. I'll just have to see how things go. 

So that was how I spent this past Saturday morning. But Saturday was a memorable day for other reasons. I'll be posting more about those details this coming week. 


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Advice For Fallon



Chris Pratt (voice of "Emmett" in the Lego Movie) gives a Tonight Show Logo made of Lego bricks to the new host, Jimmy Fallon 

The new version of the "Tonight Show" which is back in New York with it's 6th different host, Jimmy Fallon, has finished it's first week. 

So far I think Fallon is in danger of making the same mistake that Conan O'Brien did. He's trying to take what he did on his Late Night show and just slap the "Tonight Show" label on it. 

That's not being the host of the "Tonight Show." That's using the prized late night time slot to perform your own material. 

This is evident from the very start of the show. The announcer starts off with "From Studio 6B in Rockerfeller Center in the heart of New York City it's the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon." 

That's all wrong. The specific location (the studio and building) doesn't matter. The important things are that it's back in New York City and that it's the "Tonight Show." Those facts should be it's fanfare. 

"The Tonight Show" is a television institution that needs to be respected. That's the only way any new host is going to be there for any length of time.   

There's a formula and format that makes the "Tonight Show" the success that it is.

Opening billboard, monologue, comedy bit or sketch, 2 segments with guest #1 concluding with a clip of whatever guest #1 is promoting, segment with guest #2 (more than one if time allows), music or stand up comedian, wrap up.    

That's it. I know it's usually a positive thing to say "that's the way it's always been done but this format has worked for more than 50 years. It is the "Tonight Show." Now there is room for adding comedy premises, routines or styles associated with an individual host but only within that formula.  

Jimmy Fallon can take his Thank You notes and all the other bits he established during his 5 years as host of "Late Night" and fit them into the format. Even his music parodies, games, and stunts with guests could have their place. 

In his letter to NBC in 2009, in which he resigned as host,   Conan O'Brien referred to the Tonight Show as the greatest franchise in broadcasting history. Well part and parcel with that franchise is the format. 

The show has moved back to New York City and in doing so stirs up the echoes of it's past; which only serve to reverberate how deeply anchored it is in TV history. 

But also along with the change of venue comes opportunities for putting a fresh face with a subtext of nostalgic respect on the franchise. 

I'm not a real David Letterman fan anymore but I do give him the nod when it comes to his respect and acknowledgement of the history of the Ed Sullivan theater where he tapes his show. 

Right now, Fallon and his producers have simply taken the name "The Tonight Show" and pasted it over the "Late Night" sign on the studio doors while continuing to do the same show they did at 12:30. They've only moved up an hour. 

So if Fallon doesn't respectfully adapt to the formula that has made the Tonight Show TV's greatest franchise I really don't think he'll last very long. Because all he will have taken over is a time slot.  

Because it's new and exciting Fallon's ratings during this past debut week have been some of the "Tonight Show"s highest in recent years (tying Conan O'brien and Leno's 2009 debut ratings). Once the novelty of the new host and change of location wears off that's when the ratings will provide Fallon's real effect on his target audience. 

Now the preferences of that targeted 18-35 demographic are change as time goes along. Fallon is gaining popularity among that group; one that has been owned by ABC's Jimmy Kimmel. But the 35+ audience both men and women were owned by Leno. That audience is now up for grabs.  

Over the last couple of years I've watched Fallon on the "Late Night" show from time to time; only being able to take him in "small doses." A lot of times his shows make me feel like I'm watching a gathering of old "college buddies" who are laughing about a lot of inside jokes that I'm not in on. It's almost too casual. 

That being said, what do my personal "Tonight Show" habits look like for the future? I may occasionally tune in to see what he's offering but I will not have my DVR set up to tape the show every night. I wonder how many other views will do the same or will stop watching all together. 

Strap in NBC, I think you're in for a bumpy ride. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

TWIL

Last Friday was the last time I mentioned Lego on this log. But that doesn't mean that nothing Lego related has happened. Today I'm going to catch up. So here are the stories that comprised for me "This Week In Lego." 

The first issue of the week happened when I saw actress Allison Brie on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show on Monday night. Brie does the voice of the character "Unikitty" in the Lego Movie. 

During her interview Brie mentioned something I'd never heard before. She claimed that it was stressed to her by the "experts" consulting on the movie that the plural of Lego is "Lego". 

I immediately became alarmed. If this is true I have been very wrong and didn't know it. For an answer to this issue, I went to the one source that would help me discover if I had to change my ways. 

There are a lot of places to go to find out about Lego on the internet. There are websites, blogs, You Tube channels and more. 

The definitive answer I found to the plurality question was this. When referring to the company name or branding their products, "Lego" is the proper pluralization. Example 1: The Lego company is headquartered in the country of Denmark. 
Example 2: This house I built is made from 250 Lego bricks. 

But when referring to the bricks or other elements that are included in Lego sets they can be referred to as "Legos."
The reasoning behind this is the same as referring to a pair of Apple computers as "two Macs" or a voice over  announcer on a car commercial proclaiming "the 2014 Hondas are here." 

So that resolves that temporary minor Lego dilemma, at least for me. If you want to read more about it, here's an article I found during my research. It helped me a lot. 
Lego or Legos: Does It Matter?

As I wrote about yesterday, I have started cleaning out our storage rooms. While sorting through some of my stuff I found these models of a pair of Pixar characters. 


   
I credit these Lego versions of Mater and Lightening McQueen with starting my current Lego obsession. I bought them 2 or 3 years ago because they were "Disney" not licensed Lego products. 

But I had so much fun putting them together that it reminded me how much fun I had playing with plastic building bricks when I was a kid. The idea of getting a Lego set and playing with them again was something I thought I might like to try. 

Then during that Christmas shopping season I bought this Lego "Bricks & More" set from Sam's Club.   


Still a bit embarrassed that as a grown man I had bought a kid's toy set for myself I put it away in my closet for a while. 

Then in the fall of 2012 while working at Sitel call center in Glasgow I was allowed to bring things into work to occupy  the time in between calls. With my supervisor's approval I brought Lego bricks. 

I got the Lego set 6166 out of storage and took it to work. As they say, the rest is history. 


The last thing I want to mention in my "This Week In Lego" report is something that may seem irrational but I have thought it out.  

On January 30th I reported the disaster that had befallen my just completed expert VW build. Since then I have kept the model in a safe place before trying to fix it. 

Finally, this week I decided that it was time to get back to the VW Lego project. So I made a drastic decision. 

I took apart the Volkswagen camper for the purposes of putting it together a second time. It is all in pieces except for the roof/tent assembly. I kept that together because I had an amazingly difficult time putting together the first time. 

There are a couple of reasons for my decision to take it apart. The main reason being that I couldn't find a way to follow the instructions to repair the damage I had done to it. I was still upset that I had mishandled the completed model. 

Putting it together from step one would only be the only way I would feel vindicated for my mistake. It should be a little easier and a lot more fun the 2nd time around.  

So there you have my "This Week In Lego" report. Don't worry, I probably won't be doing one every week. But given the comment my cousin, Lee, made about this past Monday's post I felt that Lego was a reliable "go to" subject when nothing else came to mind. Thanks Lee. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

House Projects For 2014

It happened a little early this year. Last Sunday night Paula and I filed our 2013 income tax returns. We now have a little bit of extra in our pockets. This brings us back to what we want to do with the rooms in our house.

Currently we have 3 rooms in our house that are being used for storage. Two of them are not intended to be use for that purpose. We want one of them to be our bedroom and the other to be Paula's office/reading/craft room. 

With some of our tax refund we can paint and redecorate at least one if not both of the rooms.

Last year we set up the room just off our kitchen to be used as a permanent storage room. Some of the things in the other two rooms will go to that room but most of it will not. 

So it's time to start cleaning out and sorting through the stuff in those rooms and get it out the door. Here's a shot of both of the rooms as they are today. 




One of the rooms used to be my son, Michael's bedroom. Most of the stuff that's in there is being stored for him. He moved out over 5 years ago. His lease on the space has expired. His stuff needs to go either to him or elsewhere. 

I got started on the clean up project yesterday and will be working on it on a daily basis until it's finished. The only thing that will hold me back is that I'm not the one who makes the final decision of the fate of most of the stuff, Paula is. 

I'm working under the "general order" not to throw anything away without her input. With her long work hours that makes progress on the clean up a little slower. 

But nevertheless, I'm determined that by the end of this year we will be in our new bedroom and the room where we sleep now will be our granddaughter's play/bedroom. (At this point I don't know if James or Brandi will ever let her spend the night but at least she'll have a place to take a nap or play with her toys when she visits)

It's yet another ambitious goal but it's for both of us. We've wanted to do this for the last 2 years. I'm not getting any younger and I want my house to be the way we can get the maximum enjoyment possible out of it. 





Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My February 15

Like millions of others my resolution at the start of the year was to lose weight and get in better shape. I set a specific goal of losing 10 pounds a month. By all reasonable expectations that is a lofty goal. 

In January I reached my goal. A ten pound loss at the start of a diet is not unusual. Still I was pleased with my early success. However I knew I still had a long way to go.

Entering the 2nd month of the year I realized that there were events on the calendar that might be stumbling blocks in the road to my goal: Superbowl Sunday and Valentine's Day. 

I had to be very determined and focused in order to avert a couple of diet derailments and continue losing at the pace that I consider successful. 

I made it through both of the days that are traditionally filled with snack foods and candy with flying colors. I stayed home avoiding any dangerous Superbowl parties and managed to get through Valentine's Day without eating any candy.  

I "officially" record my weight on my tracking spreadsheet each Tuesday.  Yesterday, the numbers on my scale indicated that I have lost 15 pounds so far this year. So with 2 more weigh-ins left in the month I'm down 5 pounds since Groundhog's Day. My goal of 10 pounds lost for the month of February is still within reach. 

The activities I am now required to do at my new part time job will help my cause as well.  

There is a reason I have chosen Tuesday as the day to record my weight each week. That is the day of the week my birthday falls on this year. If I am able to lose weight at the pace I want to, I will reach my goal weight on my birthday. 

But for now I want to take a moment and acknowledge how proud I am of what I've lost so far this year. It could be considered egotistical to pat myself on the back. But with all the difficulties I've had controlling my weight over the years any steps in the right direction needs to be heralded as an achievement. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winter Wrecks Bushkill Park

Everyone has heard the saying: Into each life a little rain must fall. In the winter that rain could possibly be snow. But in the town where my sisters live, Easton, Pennsylvania, they've gotten more than a little snow this winter. They've had 62 inches fall, so far, this season. 

Just last week a major winter storm dumped 22 inches over 2 days. That's a lot of snow and it has caused the people in Eastern Pennsylvania a lot of problems. 

Monday afternoon I came home and found this picture on my Facebook page. 



What you're looking at is a building that has collapsed because of the weight of snow on it's roof. The structure was standing on the property that used to be Bushkill Park. At one time It housed the amusement park's carousel. 

This was the park I used to go to when I was a little kid. I'm talking from the time I was a toddler until I was a teenager. 

The park has been closed for decades and the carousel was sold long before it closed. But a lot of reminders from the days when the park was in it's prime are still around. If you look to the left side of the picture you'll see the facade of what used to be the oldest operating fun house in any amusement park in the US. 

Winter's destruction of the old carousel building is just the latest a series of damage the effects of weather and floods have had on a badly deteriorating property. I haven't seen it myself in decades but from what I read on the internet the old park is in ruins.

But still I have many many memories of riding the carousel trying to grab the brass ring. The building where they happened is now nothing but a pile of lumber forced to the ground by a crippling blanket of snow. I hate to see it in that condition. I'm sure it will soon be cleared away and there will be no sign that a wonderful carousel once thrived there.  

I have added a You Tube link below that will show video of the Bushkill Park carousel when it was still running back in 1988. The video also shows other parts of the park as well. The carousel footage starts at the 1:49 mark. 

Bushkill Park Carousel Starts @ 1:49 mark

I know there are a lot of my readers who are not from the Easton area and this post doesn't really mean much to you. 

But the foundation of my love for amusement parks is partly built on my memories of experiences at Bushkill Park. And my current fascination with thrill rides, one of "factors" in my life these days, is just a continuation of my enjoyment of the rides in Bushkill Park, including the carousel. 

Just like I wanted to do when my grill got blown off my car port away a few weeks ago, Winter has had a destructive effect on something I care about. When will this long season end?  

Well, the "official" start of Spring is only 30 days away.




Monday, February 17, 2014

I Knew There'd Be One Soon

A month and a half ago when I committed to writing a post for each day of 2014 I knew there'd be days when I had nothing to write about. Today is one of those days. So I'm just going to string some random items together and call them today's post. 

Yesterday was a unique day for me at church. In the morning service, I gave the Children's sermon. I used my puppet, Cecil the turtle, to explain that Jesus doesn't physically come into our hearts (Cecil held a funnel in his mouth and down his "throat" so Jesus would have an easy time getting into his) but into our lives changing our thinking and our behavior. 

In the evening service, I sang the hymn, "Sweet Hour of Prayer" while playing it on my ukulele; a first for me. 

I didn't think either of those things were my best work. In fact I was not very pleased with either "presentation". But the best thing about doing things in church is that people are very accepting and genuine. I got several compliments and expressions of appreciations for both of my efforts. I am sincerely humbled by all who were so kind to me. 

When fellow church members tell me "good job" and I don't think it was I tell myself that they were looking at me through "God Goggles."  An unseen pair of glasses whose lenses are coated with the Lord's grace so that the "wearer" receives a blessing in spite of everything. Anyone who has ever done any kind of ministry can probably understand what I mean. That's all I have to say about that. 

Finally, in this relatively brief post, a picture. Last December we had our pictures taken for our new church directory. I don't think those directories have been released yet but they should be soon. 

Paula and I took a very nice picture that will be included with our information in the hard copy of the directory. Here's another picture we had taken that won't be but I like a little more...for obvious reasons. 


It's a nice picture of my wife and me but the left side and center of the shot is what makes it one of my favorite pictures of 2013. Of course it's symbolic to because that cutie in the middle of the picture really is the center of the the lives of all the adults around her. 

There you have today's "patchwork" post. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll have thought of an idea to write about. I'm sure I will. I'm committed to it. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Making Music Mine

As an introduction to today's subject, here's a quick update on my January 19th post. 

"Ron Havens Rewind Soundtrack 2012" is now completed. It's in my I-Tunes collections and on my I-Pod. It clocks in at just under 6 1/2 hours. That may seem a bit long but it was a wonderful year to remember. 

I still have one other Rewind script ready to go into production and a 2013 script to write and record.  

But before I get on with those I've got another music project to work on.  I'm going to be transferring some of my "old school" musical treasures to a current format.  

I'm going to convert the vinyl recordings of some of my favorite albums into digital files using a special turntable that connects to my computer. 

Most of the records are those that I've collected because I had them when I was a kid. Here are a few that mean the most to me.   



There's the first record album I ever owned, The Alvin Show; the first Sesame Street original cast album from 1969; a Charles Randolph Grean (rhymes with "neon") album with music from the TV show Dark Shadows; a record from a "Show N Tell" program; and a live concert album featuring the Bill Gaither Trio. 

That album is probably the most treasured of all. Let me tell you why.    


The Bill Gaither Trio was at their peak of popularity in the early 70's when I was in my early teens. One of my best family memories I have from those years was the night my mom, dad, sister, Shari, and I went to Hershey Arena to to see them in concert. 

Shortly after that experience my youth group leader, Bev, loaned me the "Something Beautiful" album to listen to at home.  I really liked it a lot. I played it constantly. 

The group sang songs during this concert that I'd never heard them sing perform before or since. I memorized everything on the double album set. I can still recite the dialogue and sing those rarely heard songs to this day.  

Eventually, I had to give the album back to Bev but not before I recorded it onto cassette tape. Eventually that tape either broke or wore out. I never borrowed the album again or made another copy. 

As best as I can remember I believe my interest in pop music and joining the Columbia House record and tape club for the first time took my focus away from gospel music and I forgot about the Gaither album. 

Fast forward to a few years ago when I read Bill Gaither's autobiography. It rekindled my interest in his music as well. Of course that brought back to mind the concert album I loved as a teenager.

However, by that time the Gaithers were better known for their Southern Gospel reunion concerts than their earlier ministry as a trio.

All the Bill Gaither Trio music I could find on CD were compilations or "greatest hits" collections. I couldn't find any CD copies of their original albums. Soon I came to the conclusion that I would have to find the original album and convert it to CD or digital format. 

But I couldn't even find any evidence that the "Something Beautiful" album ever existed. It didn't even get a mention on after market album websites or Gathier discographies on the internet. But I kept searching. Flea Markets became my last avenue of hope. But even then I felt like I was searching for a needle in a vinyl haystack. 

Finally at the end of September 2012 I got lucky. At a local flea market I found the album pictured above. I never thought I'd ever find it. That's why it's so special. 

Others that will be included in the digital conversion project are music albums by Eddy Arnold, Loretta Lynn, and Jack Greene, and the debut album of Captain and Tennille. Then there are comedy albums by Soupy Sales and Bill Dana. Finally, there are some LPs with Disney music. 

As you can see I have a lot of home recording to do. But I'm glad that after years of sitting on the shelf these albums will soon be part of my digital music collection. I guess I'd better get busy.    





Saturday, February 15, 2014

An Angelic Anniversary


With the busy week I had I missed posting about a really important anniversary here at our house. I'm going to correct that today. 


On Saturday February 12, 2005 at an animal shelter in Hardinsburg, KY; James, Brandi, Paula and I went to pick up the puppy we found on Pet Finder.com. James had been asking for a puppy for a while. Dory was full grown when we adopted her a year earlier. He wanted a puppy to play with.

It was the special connection, pictured above, I captured, digitally, during their initial moments together that told us that we had made a good choice. 

That day we brought home our 2nd family dog. We named her "Angel" because it was close to Valentine's Day. We agreed that it was close to "Cupid"; but was a better dog name. She as been our family pet for 9 years as of this week. 


She fit in with our family right away and still does. Being a mix of border collie and Jack Russell terrier has made life with her very interesting. She's been, and still is, an affectionate companion and a protector. She loves us just as much as we love her. 

Life is very different for Angel these days. Until last summer she spent her entire life as a "sister" to our other dog, Dory. She's adjusted but I can tell that even after 6 months she still misses her. 



But some of the subsequent changes Angel has enjoyed . She has free run of the house now almost never being restricted to the "dog room" or being secured in her crate. 

She can eat her food when and how she wants to without having to "protect" it. She gets to go to the groomers instead of having to endure the stressful process my giving her a bath. 

She spends her nights sleeping on her pillow just inside our bedroom. Protecting us by guarding the slightly opened door. Leaving the door open allows her to go in and out of the room without having to wake us up. 

So Happy 9th Anniversary to our pound puppy. We love her and by the way she prances and "talks" to us whenever we come back from being away she loves us too.  

God willing she will go on being our "special Angel" for a long long time.