Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Seventies Sit-Com Studies Part 2

It's been a couple of weeks since my first post about the way television has changed since the 1970s. Let me start out this 2nd post in the series with a story. 

A 14 year old boy sits on a couch watching out the living room window of his parent's house. In darkness of a late fall evening he can see the smattering of lights from the street lamps and other homes in his small town. Looking at his watch he realizes that it's been almost an hour since his phone call. By his estimation he should be seeing the headlights of a vehicle that will bring him the first of his companions for this cool November Saturday night.

Soon a car with a magnetic sign on the driver's side door reading "Pizza Como Delivery" pulls up to the house. In a quick minute the transaction with the driver is complete and the teenager carries the first pizza ever delivered to his house to the dinning room table. 

He opens the box top, pulls one of the 8 slices, from the16 inch sausage and mushroom pie onto a paper plate and heads back toward his favorite spot in the living room.  

His parents were out visiting friends, his sister was spending the night with a cousin. He loved it when the stars aligned and he could spend some time at home alone. It didn't happen often but the feeling of independence made him feel more grown up than he actually was at the time. 

It was almost 8 o'clock and his plans for the evening were about to commence. The weekly local news magazine program on TV station WCAU out of Philadelphia was concluding on the television across the room. His other companions was about to join him. 

"This is CBS" the announcer proclaimed just after the station switched over to the network feed. A second later another announcer sounded the verbal trumpet to let the TV games begin: "From Television City In Hollywood."

On the 19 inch TV screen came actors Carroll O'Conner and Jean Stapleton. They were in character and sitting at a piano. They began singing: "Those Were The Days" the iconic theme song to one of the most controversial and popular 1970s sit-com, All In The Family. 

Over the next 3 hours the young middle school student would consume that entire pizza and enjoy what he would one day consider to be the best night of network television in broadcast history. 

While a teenage boy spending a Saturday night alone in front of a television gorging himself on pizza may seem a bit strange or even weird to many, for him its still a memory he treasures 40 years later. I know because that was me. 

The mid 1970s Saturday night CBS lineup started out with the life and times of Archie and Edith Bunker and then moved on to Korea circa 1950 for a glimpse at life inside the 4077th army surgical hospital on M*A*S*H. The 9 o'clock hour was filled with a pair of comedies produced by MTM Enterprises: The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart show.

The evening ended with the crown jewel of the night, The Carol Burnette Show. The show began with Miss Burnette coming out on stage to welcome the studio audience and answer a few of their questions. 

What followed was an hour of comedy sketches, movie parodies, and guest stars performances. The show concluded with the entire cast (including: Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and, most of the time, Tim Conway)  back on stage to say "good night" by joining in as Carol sang the closing theme "I'm so glad we had this time together." Burnette would then tug on her ear as a personal greeting to her grandmother and the show would end. It was by far the best and funniest hour on TV. 

Thus ended what I think is the single best night of television ever. A group of programs I enjoyed so much it was worth staying home on Saturday nights to watch. 

Back then there was no home video, DVRs or online streaming service; there wasn't even VCRs, yet. So if you wanted to see a show you had to be in front of a TV when it was broadcast. 

I didn't spend every Saturday night alone eating pizza. My parents or my cousin, Gary were most likely the ones with me while I watched Archie, Hawkeye, Mary, Bob, Carol and all their friends. 

I didn't know then but my loyalty to this block of programs would be my initial study in TV comedy performance, writing, character development, and story telling. 

Not only was I entertained, I believe I was educated in how to make people laugh. Watching every week was my "freshman year" in Seventies Sit-Com studies. 

During the last half of the decade that CBS lineup would lose their place as TV comedy kings to Garry Marshall's ABC sit-coms. I would learn from them too. 

In my next post I will discuss what I have recently learned about that line up of CBS shows and the people involved in producing and starring in them. 

But now you understand why I am so emotionally invested in them. They are part of my personal history. Like many in the first "TV generation" the characters who came into my life through the television screen weren't just actors playing a part. They were my friends. More on this later. 



  









Friday, November 21, 2014

A "Blizzard" Of Random Thoughts

Haven't posted anything all week because I haven't had the time nor the subject worthy of its own post. So here are a few things that all together are "post worthy." 

I have discovered that with being back to work during the day the taking-care-of-business errands I used to do all in one afternoon while I was out of work now need to be done after I'm finished working and before I come home. 

That means when I do go places after working, I get home in the evenings with just a few hours to make and eat dinner, get some things done around the house, choose my clothes and make my lunch for the next day, and then relax enough to go to bed. 

I know that just about everyone reading this is shouting "welcome to my world" at their computer screen right now. I am not complaining or thinking this is a big deal. It's just a change I've had to adjust to. I'd forgotten how much working a 40 hour work week takes from your life. 

For several years now I have been purchasing digital audio books from the Amazon owned website, Audible.com. I have purchased books by former president George W. Bush; TV and movie director, Garry Marshall; TV icon, Carol Burnette, and a few of the Disney based, Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson. 

Recently, more than a year since my last purchase (A book by Dolly Parton) I went back to the website. I had forgotten that I had signed up for a special program that allows me to buy a book each month at a special price. 

When I signed in to my account to look for a book I wanted to download, I discovered that I had 10 credits that had accumulated on my account since my last purchase. My credit card has been charged each month over the last year. 

To make a long story short I have used all 10 credits for titles I have wanted and now I can listen to them. This is fortunate because I now have quite a bit of time to myself while driving from place to place for my job. 

In the last couple of weeks I've listened to books by TV favorites, Tim Conway and Gavin McCloud. Today I started listening to Andy Williams reading his auto biography. 

I enjoy reading books but there's something rather a little more compelling about listening to the author tell their story themselves. 

If you enjoy books and spend a lot of time in your car or some place where you can listen I highly recommend trying audio books. You can get them through Audible.com or just borrow them on CD from your local library. 

The light snowfall and cold temperatures earlier this week, here in Kentucky, was nothing compared to what the upstate New York area went through. I mean 72 inches of snow in 24 hours? 

The pictures from that area are amazing and the effort that communities have put together to simply survive is something to be admired. 

But this type of weather event always makes me think about the way God designed how it snows. I mean how one by one an uncountable number of delicately shaped six-sided crystals slowly come floating down from the sky to light on the ground and blanket everywhere it falls. When all those flakes finish their descent you get the final amount of accumulation. 

Could you imagine what it would be like if all the snow in a storm system just fell to earth all at once? Clouds roll into an area and an amount of snow equivalent to 3 inches falls with the force of gravity all at once. What would that do to the land, trees, property, people? 

Tragically, this happens on a relatively small scale already. Just look on the internet for video of an avalanche. Imagine what that would be like on a much larger scale coming straight down instead of down a mountainside.  

It may sound strange to think about since the "great falling wall of snow" is not the way it happens. But considering the possibility helps you appreciate the way it does.

It shows God's provision, mercy, and blessing all at the same time. Snow provides water for the planet and people in way that's a more gradual type of saturation than rain. 

It is the runoff from winter precipitation that, for the most part, provides the water needed for the renewal of the land every spring. 

He shows mercy by appropriating snow to come to us the slow, meticulous, and intimate way it does.   

As far as the blessing part of it is concerned look at the role snow plays in our lives. For the most part it's connected with positive experiences. Look at all the beauty, adventure and romance connected with snow. Even items about its connection with Christmas alone could fill a museum. Consider all the art and literature that has been inspired by snow throughout history. 


And is there any occasion more joyous in a kid's life than when they find out they have the day off from school because it snowed? I submit there is not. 

So there's my observation about snow. I appreciate it for what it is; yet another example of how continuously good and gracious, all mighty God really is. Something to be thankful for especially at this time of the year. 

Okay, I've gone on long enough about inconsequential things. I've managed to write enough to qualify this as a typical RH Factors post. Thanks for indulging me. 






Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stay At Home Saturday

As I scanned over the titles of some of my previous posts I realized that I write an awful lot about what happens on the weekends. But that's because it's when most things I want to write about go on. So here's another post about the first day of this weekend. 

This was the kind of Saturday I haven't had in a while. Over the last year, Saturdays become a day to relax and take a break from working at getting things done during the week while Paula was at her job. 

The main goal for Saturdays was spending time with my wife while she was home and doing my best to make sure she got rested and recharged from the stress she experienced all week. Here how this Saturday was different.

But before I write about what I did let me first mention a couple of things I regret not doing. 

First of all, on Saturday evening, my family in Pennsylvania had a 25th anniversary party for my sister, Shari and her husband, Bob. Below is the picture of the invitation, my sister Peggy sent me. I'm sorry I wasn't able to be there to be a part of it.

Also, this weekend was the Christmas Village expo at the Tennessee Fairgrounds in Nashville. Paula and I have gone to this event each of the last 2 years with our friends, Mark & Patty and their daughter, Amy. 

It's a fun day as we walk through the many halls looking at the hundreds of booths featuring specialty foods, arts and crafts, clothing, Christmas decorations, and more.

With Paula getting sick with strep throat this past week and me adjusting my new job we decided that we would have to pass on going this year. 

Instead of doing either of those things, I spent the day at home catching up on some things I didn't have the time or energy to do this week. 

Most of it was housekeeping stuff. I won't go into the details but at least I've vacuumed up all the pet hair and we've got clean clothes for the week. 

Paula helped me with the living room but I insisted she spend most of the day recuperating and watching the last season of "Vampire Diaries" on Netflix. 

In between those episodes I watched some of my favorite 70s TV shows on DVD, M*A*S*H and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Started watching all 11 seasons about the gang at the 4077th a couple of weeks ago. I'm currently on season 4 and am in the middle of the first season of MTMS which I'm borrowing from Netflix. I'm on the last few episodes. 

In our mail box I found a package I've been waiting to get for a while. In it were some of the key props to be used in this year's church Christmas play, inflatable banjos. 
They will be used in song that should be the "cutest" moment of the play. 

I had a few things on my catch-up list that were just for myself. I discovered on Thursday that a couple of the wheels had fallen off the bottom of my blue Lego storage bin. In case you don't remember it, this picture was taken in September 2013, when my daughter-in-law, son and granddaughter gave it to me for my birthday. This was before I ever put the wheels on. 

I mounted the wheels back in place again with glue. Once they dry, I will secure them with small screws to that they won't come off again.  

For dinner, Paula baked a chicken and made cornbread for the first time in a long time. We rounded out our meal with a delicious baked sweet potato. 

The one thing I did that I consider a step forward is that I finally set up my recording studio at my desk. It was the first time I connected my desktop computer and my Ipod (my music resources) and my microphone into my sound mixer. Then I plugged  the mixer into my laptop. This allows me to record MP3 files using Audacity software.

The preliminary tests worked very well and as soon as I experiment with the sound levels to get them where they should be I will be ready to record my 9th Rewind Christmas program. 

In addition, although it's almost the end of 2014, I have yet to record my 2013 soundtrack show. 

I'm also excited about the fact I am set up to record, that ability to start a podcast is now in place as well. I'm still learning about the logistics of how to do that but I can see the RH Factors podcast on the horizon for 2015.  

Okay, I'll stop now about my relatively uneventful Saturday. Like I said it was a type of Saturday I haven't had in a while.  
But the way I spent it will probably become the norm for me now that I'm back working from 7-5 during the week. 

Saturdays that I can spend at home will be the time for me to get things on my "to do" list done.

This week has been an adjustment but I'm adapting. As I have written about before, I was certain that my immediate future would require me to find my own way as far as a job was concerned and would have to work at making money on my own.  

But with that came a great deal of personal freedom. Freedom I had come to enjoy. But now that benefit has gone away. 

Getting a "normal job" has paved a turn in the road that I was not expecting. Once I get my bearings and understand the direction I'm traveling I'll be fine. 




  







Friday, November 14, 2014

Major Mark

Sorry for the lack of content this week. I've been dealing with getting back into the workforce once again. It's a real adjustment for me. As I get older, each time I have to deal with significant change, it seems to take just slightly longer to adjust. But I'm getting there and so it's back to the blog. Thanks for understanding.  

By nature I'm not a name dropper but today I want to mention a famous person I know: Major Mark Quigley USAF retired. 

You may already know him by several other titles by which I've mentioned him. He's the associate Pastor of Oakland Baptist Church. He was "Vinnie" to my "Eric" in the "Central Park Reunion"sketches we've been doing at church for the last few years.  Most importantly he is a very good friend.

Recently on Veteran's Day, Mark added another  accomplishment to his outstanding resume. He became a TV weatherman.

Because his 20 year military career was spent working as a meteorologist he knows a lot about forecasting the weather. 

This past Tuesday he as part of our local TV station's tribute to military veterans, Mark shared weather report duties during the midday newscast. 

He joined WBKO's weekday forcaster, Chris Allen to present the weather. 

Here are pictures of "Major Mark" being introduced at the start of the WBKO Midday program and then waving to the camera. They are shots I took while watching on my living room TV. 




And here's one more of him and Chris Allen together. 



Mark is very proud of his 20 years in the Air Force, and rightfully so. Today, although it's a couple of days late, I honor him for his service. 

While his appearance on TV was on a rather serious occasion, to me he's at his best when he's being my partner in "comedy crime". As it turns out I usually play "straight man" to his "punchlines" but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

In addition, Paula and I share a wonderful friendship with Mark and his wife, Patty. Over the last few years it's been one of the best blessings Paula and I have been privileged to receive. 



This is the way I usually prefer to see Mark and his bride. Just casual and smiling. 

But on this day I want to once again recognize Mark's service to our country and celebrate his latest 15 minutes of fame. 

Great Job Major Mark. 









Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Never Mind

You know that post I wrote yesterday? The one where I was all excited about the prospect of going back to Walt Disney World? Well, here it is a day after I share my news and I'm forced to add one thing...Never mind. 

Unfortunately, I won't be able to take that trip back to Orlando anytime soon. That may be the bad news but there is good news that goes with it.

I have gotten a new job. Its the type of job I've been looking for. I'm a driver for one of the local transportation companies. Because of the nature of the service the company offers I can't go into any more detail than that. 

Now that I'm committed to be of service to my new employer 5 days a week my plans for the future have changed a bit. 

I'm going to have to adjust to a different time schedule. No more staying up late and sleeping until mid morning. 

In addition to the tentative vacation plans for Disney World I'll have to cancel any other travel plans for the next year or so. But that's what comes with a new job. 

On the positive note, I will now be getting a new stream of income that will help us improve our future financial stability. 

My plans to pursue podcasting will not be deterred. I am just going to have to do it after I get home from work at night or on the weekends. 

But having to become an early riser again will put Paula and I in a situation that we haven't had in our house since April 2012. We will both be waking up and getting ready for work in the morning.

The future is still full of potential but it may take a bit more focus and effort to get where I want to go. 

Right now, for reasons I've already mention and a few others I'm a bit apprehensive about this new situation. It may just take some time to adjust. 

But on the other hand I have finally gotten hired at a job that doesn't anchor me to a phone or keep me cooped up in an office. 

I am blessed to have a job again. I look forward to success with my new company and in the other vocational goals I have mentioned before. 

Disney World is "off the table" and that's disappointing.But that's okay it's now full with a potential banquet of blessing and hope.  


Monday, November 10, 2014

Mentioned During Dinner

On October 11, my son, Michael, and his wife, Heather, celebrated their wedding anniversary. Due to both work and personal schedules it took until this past Saturday for us to get together and take them to dinner and a movie to celebrate. 

We hadn't seen them in a while and there was a lot to talk about. 

We went to Cheddar's, one of my family's favorite restaurants and a lot of other people too. We got there at 4:30 in the afternoon and still waited more than 30 minutes to get a table.  

Because the restaurant was full the kitchen was a little slow in getting our food out to us. That's not usually the best of situations but in our case it gave us a chance to catch up with the kids. 

Inevitably, just like anytime Michael and I are together, I brought up the topic of Walt Disney World. I started off by mentioning that the Sorcerer's Hat in Disney's Hollywood Studios park is being removed sometime in early 2015. 

As the discussion progressed both Michael and I mentioned our plans for our next visit to go see "the mouse."

He has convinced Heather to go to Orlando for 2 weeks sometime in 2016. I mentioned that Paula and I are planning on going to the "Night Of Joy" celebration at the Magic Kingdom next September. 

Then Michael said it. He threw it out there as part of the causal conversation but it got me thinking about something I hadn't thought about in a while. He suggested that he and I go to Walt Disney World for a couple of days by ourselves. 

You see, both Michael and I "suffer" from a Walt Disney World obsession. We enjoy going there and having a great time. Our in-between trip conversations are usually spent speculating about going back. 

I may be a bit more afflicted than he is. After all, I listen to half a dozen WDW themed podcasts each week. But no matter to what degree, we are both very much over the top when it comes to the Orlando Disney theme parks.

Once Michael threw out the idea both of our wives seemed to be all for it. They encouraged us because it would temporarily appease our obsession and they wouldn't have to go with us.

Now they don't hate the place but they are not as sold on Disney World as Michael & I are. Given the choice, there are other places they'd rather go on vacation. 

Anyone who knows me knows that getting back to "Walt's World" has been a top priority ever since my last visit back in 2010. But over the last year or so I've become a little distant from my desire to get back.  

There are several reasons for this. Some of them are personal and others have to do with the way things are changing at Walt Disney World. 

One of the personal reasons include a cut in income. Not having a job greatly depletes the amount of expendable income that could potentially be used for a Florida vacation. 

Another personal reason is that I am not in the physical condition required to enjoy a visit to a Disney theme park. I have gotten out of the habit of walking on a regular basis. 

I'd have to lose some weight and get moving again, if I am going to enjoy the average 5 mile walk per day required when visiting Disney World.   

The Disney World related reasons are rather numerous but here are the ones at the top of my list. The increase in park admission prices (a single day in Magic Kingdom is now $99) has almost reached the "that's too much" price point for me.

In addition, there's the degree of trip planning that has to be done due to the introduction of My Disney Experience  technology, Magic Bands and Fastpass Plus systems. 

While it can be said without objection that I am  way above average when it comes to planning a Disney vacation. But what you have to do now to simply enjoy yourself is even pushing the envelope for me. 

Also I've heard consistent reports of larger crowds, less "off season" days at the parks, and longer stand-by lines for attractions and shows. Those are just a few of the reasons I'm a bit apprehensive about going back to "The World".

With the opening of the Diagon Alley, the new Cabana Bay hotel, and City Walk restaurants, a visit to Universal Studios has risen in popularity and has to be put into the equation when visiting Orlando. 

Add to that an interest in visiting Sea World, Bush Gardens, Legoland, Kennedy Space Center, and other tourist attractions in South Florida and you can see why the "pieces" in my "vacation pie" that are devoted to Disney are getting smaller. 

Once it was proposed by Michael and Paula gave her approval, the path for a return to Disney World suddenly reopened wide open in front of me. Out of nowhere the gates had parted, "When You Wish Upon A Star" started playing in the back ground, and I could see Cinderella's Castle in the distance. 

A solo trip is one of the things on my Disney World "bucket list." I haven't yet worked out just if and when that would ever happen. However, a trip with Michael could very well be a glimpse into just what that might be like. 

I can see a situation where during our trip we would split up and go on our own for a while.  Especially because some of our interests in the parks are different. I like the thrill rides but Michael doesn't. 

So the times I'm off riding Big Thunder, Space, or Splash mountains Michael may be checking out some of his favorite places in the Magic Kingdom, like the Haunted Mansion. If that happens it will be at least a taste of what a "solo" trip would be like. 

But let me get back to our evening out with our kids. After we ate our dinner we went to see the new Disney movie, Big Hero 6. 

I liked the movie and it was a great superhero adventure for families with kids too young to handle the intensity of the Marvel movies. I'd say it's kind of like "Avengers lite." It was really entertaining. The character of Baymax will probably be the breakout Disney star of the year. He's what I'd call the "Mater" of Big Hero 6.

The movie took my mind off of the excitement I was feeling about the possibility of a Florida trip for a couple of hours. But once I got back home I went into full trip planning mode. 

I researched the best possible dates for our trip. I looked at the anticipated crowd levels, and park ticket prices on one of the best Disney World planning websites: Touring Plans.com. 

To take advantage of all the resources of this website you should really subscribe to it. It's only $13 a year. If you look around the "free" area of the site you may find a discount code that will reduce the cost to about $10.  

I've chosen some tentative dates but this is just the initial stages of planning. So I won't go into any further details for now. 

So that's the story about how something mentioned, somewhat casually, during a dinner over the weekend has changed my personal "Walt Disney World Vacation Meter" from wishful to active. 

The subject of Walt Disney World is one of the environments that my obsessive compulsive personality accelerates and thrives. So the process has begun. Stay tuned I'll let you know if and when we are going. 






  















Friday, November 7, 2014

Latest In Lego 6

Yesterday's post I mentioned that like to I listen to several podcasts. I'd like to start this LIL6 post a nod of appreciation to one of them: Assembly of Geeks. 

At the start of their podcast this week the trio of hosts, Scott, Tricia, and Jeff, talk about Lego. This is something I've been waiting them to do for a while. Because if adult fans of Lego fall into any demographic it's those who are part of the "geek culture". 

Within their discussion they mention some of their favorite licensed sets and the Lego Ideas website that offers visitors to vote for fan-created designs that could potentially become commercially available sets. I really like this podcast and the fact that they talk Lego extensively for the first time was a real plus for me. Here is a link to the podcast. Assembly Of Geeks Talk Lego

Not much in the way of Lego activity for me since the last report 3 weeks ago. I have changed the perpetual calendar from October to November, getting ready for the holiday season. 

This month's calendar is topped with icons that represent Thanksgiving day traditions: a pair of turkeys and a cheerleader. It is also flanked by a couple of bubble pack sets that I got last year. They represent Autumn and Thanksgiving dinner. 


I've completed the assembly of the smaller sets to be used for my expanded Christmas Lego display this year. I am working on the biggest set that is going to be very cool once it's finished and set out to be enjoyed. 

I've already shared the first model I built out of Technic kit 42002, the power digger, in an earlier post but here's a reminder of what it looks like. 

I've now finished the 2nd model from the kit. It's a backhoe that's really a good representation of what the Technic brand is all about. 

But a still picture doesn't show what's unique about this model. Here's a link to a demo video on my RHFactors You Tube Channel. Lego Technic Backhoe Demo Video

Being the Lego fan that I am I always try to keep up with news about what the company will be offering in the future. 

This week the "Blocks & Bricks" blog posted news about some of the new Creator sets scheduled to be released early in 2015. They include kits with models of a dragon, a snake, a parrot, a frog, and a building set featuring a toy and grocery store. In addition there has been some information leaked about the next mini-figure set also to be released sometime during the winter 2015. 

I am interested in all of these sets and have already put them on my Lego want list. 

Up next for me, finishing my Santa's Workshop model and then I'm gonna build a tree house. 

That's the Latest In Lego for now. 









Thursday, November 6, 2014

About That New Direction...


At the end of my October 25 post I mentioned that I am going to look toward heading in a new direction in regard to my vocational future. The direction I'm looking toward is "podcasting." 

In case you don't know what a podcast is, let me explain in as simple of terms as possible. A podcast is an audio entertainment program that is available on the internet. It's just another form of content that's available online. You can search through the I-Tunes store or Google for podcast subjects that may interest you. You can download any you may want to listen to. 

There are podcasts devoted to just about any subject you can think of. I listen to about a dozen of them on a regular basis. Most of them are devoted about Walt Disney World but other topics are: self-improvement, stand-up comedy, animation voiceovers, and geek culture. 

Essentially, a podcast is a recording of someone sharing or expressing their opinion or knowledge in a way that entertains or helps the listener.

There are several reasons I am thinking about becoming a podcaster. I have already done something very similar to it. My Rewind programs are essentially podcasts that haven't been uploaded to a server. I share them with friends and family by sending them copies on CD. 

One of my inspirations for looking toward podcasting is Lou Mongello, a podcaster I've been listening to for 7 years and met for the first time this past March. He encourages his listeners to "follow your dream" and "pursue your passion". He's a living example that this can be done. He's taken his passion for Walt Disney World and with hard work has built one of the top brands in the Disney fan community. Although he began by writing a WDW trivia book, his dream really took off when he started his podcast back in 2008. 

There are other podcasters who have inspired me as well. Ricky Brigante, Steve Swanson, and Scott Murray are among them. 

I'm currently trying to educate myself about how to start producing my podcast and am setting a goal of starting my first program at the start of the new year. 

I'll be "dipping my toes in the water" with a podcast to supplement this blog. The RHFactors podcast will expound on the subjects I post about, shine the spotlight on some of my favorite things and interests, and include interviews with people who are influential factors in my life. With it I will be sharing my world with you. Because you are a reader of my blog I will ask you first; Would you listen to this type of podcast? Let me know by either sending me a message on Facebook or emailing me at: RHavens1423@aol.com

In addition to using the time for my podcasting indoctrination, I am waiting until after the holidays and the start of 2015 to begin the RHFactors podcast because I have a couple of "Rewind" scripts to record. One is the 2013 soundtrack program and the other is my 9th Rewind Christmas show. 

After I feel like I've gotten the podcasting process down with the RHFactors podcast, eventually I will be transitioning from talking about my world to recording about the Smoky Mountain vacation resort area. 

So that's my "new direction" as I head toward the future. Of course there are other areas of my life that could prove to be yet another avenue of vocational success but podcasting is the one I feel is going to be the most rewarding because it's something I'm already doing. 


























Sunday, November 2, 2014

Epic DIY Fail

For the most part I do my best not to get too negative on this blog. I enjoy sharing the positive experiences and successes I'm blessed with in my life. 

But I don't want my readers to think I'm some kind of Pollyanna or that everything in my life goes perfect. I think I do a pretty good job of "keeping it real". 

I consider myself a "life long learner" and like to try a lot of new things. However, I have a bit of difficulty handling my failures and that's putting it mildly. So as a way of trying to change that today, I share one of my failures. It's may not seem like a very big deal to most of you; but because it revolves around, what I consider to be, one of my personal the end result really bothered me. 

Enough said. Here now is today's story. Something in a fit of hyperbole and exaggeration I am calling my "epic DIY fail".  

Earlier this year I posted about a new roll top desk I bought from a neighbor. It was very heavy and difficult to move. 

So before I set it up in my house, my son James helped me put wheels on the bottom. Here's the pic showing them. 

Making this desk easier to move was relatively easy. As someone who is not very much of a DIY guy this was a big success for me. Getting that desk was the first step in setting up my at-home recording "studio". 

The other piece of furniture that I wanted to be part of my set up was a computer cabinet that used to hold our desktop. Here's what it looked like 10 years ago when we first set it up in what we used to call our "computer room" 


If you look at the bottom left hand corner of this pic you'll see that the cabinet sits stationary on the floor. For this cabinet to be used as part of my studio I needed it to be movable. 

Based on my success with the roll top desk, I decided to put wheels on the cabinet too. But this was a lot easier said than done. 

The bottom of the cabinet was not flush with the floor. I would have to put the wheels on wood blocks and fasten them to the inside corners of the cabinet to enable them to extend below the bottom and support its weight.  

On my first try I used small blocks, screws, and metal brackets. I found a piece of scrap wood in our storage barn that I used to make the blocks. I bought a hand saw to cut them myself. 

But when I went to actually install everything I realized that my concept wasn't going to work. I had to do it a different way.  

"Plan B" consisted of making the blocks for the corners bigger so that they could be fastened to both the bottom and sides of the cabinet. Also, this time I would use nails instead of screws to secure them. 

I would need 4 blocks of wood each 3 1/2 inches high and 3 inches wide. I went to a local lumber yard where one of my friends from church works. He found a piece of wood to cut apart to make the blocks.  

Since the piece of wood was 6 inches square and 3 feet long, it took me a couple of weeks to find a cabinet making business that could cut it for me. I bought the additional hardware I needed and set out to complete "plan b" and have my studio complete. Here is a shot of all the materials I was going to use to do it. 

I was really very excited about finally finishing this project after a couple of months of delays. But the deck was stacked against me.

As you can see from the picture the nails I used to secure the wheels to the blocks are not driven all the way down into the wood. They are bent over. That's because I found it very difficult to get them to go all the way into the wood. No big deal because although it didn't look very good, the wheels were secure and would work. Once they were in place they weren't going to be seen anyway. They only needed to be functional. 

When it came time to nail the blocks to the inside of the bottom of the cabinet another problem came up. I discovered that 10 year old particle board had a tendency to fall apart when pounding nails into it. I did my best to keep the wood together but the degree of pounding I had to use to drive the nails only made the particle board disintegrate even more.

A combination of determination and frustration led me to wield one last "give it all I got" effort to get the first block secure on the foot board of the cabinet. But then it all fell apart. The foot board broke off and the bottom of the cabinet fell apart.  Not only was my 2nd plan not going to work, but now the cabinet's structural integrity was gone. It wouldn't even stand up again without falling apart.

Realizing what had just happened I quickly understood that I was looking at an epic failure. The cabinet was done. The only thing left to do was carry it out to the trash. 

Since I couldn't carry the unit out to the carport without it falling completely going to pieces, I decided that I would simply dismantle it and carry it out that way. 

I have to admit, I took out a little bit of my frustration while taking the hammer to the cabinet . When it was all said and done it was in the pieces and out of the house.  

Once I was finished with the clean up I realized that I was extremely discouraged. My inner monologue turned to a negative "why do you ever try these kind of things, you know it never works out." DIY projects and I are like oil and vinegar. We just don't mix.

But soon I got past it enough to put it in perspective. I am now looking for the lessons in the fail. The thing I regret the most is the money I invested materials. 

I could have easily gone out and bought a new piece of furniture with wheels already on it. But I wanted to utilize something I already had. That didn't work out. 

Nevertheless I am now looking for alternative ways of finishing my recording study. The lesson I have learned may very well be not to try anything like this again without some help. But I'm confident that perhaps I will somewhere down the road glean a more positive and even more valuable lesson from this epic DIY fail. 
















  




Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween 2014

Here is a review of how I spent my day on Halloween 2014 (Hey, that rhymes). 

The events of my day began in the morning at my church. I was the scheduled guest speaker for our "Senior Saints" group. They are church members who are older. They meet each Friday in our church fellowship hall. 

Because it was Halloween, some of the group came dressed in costume. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of them all dressed up. But here's the picture of a guy we called "J.C." still wearing a key element of his costume while eating lunch.  He reminded me of a modern version of one of the Beatles. 


While I didn't want to go "all out" dressing up because of having to speak, I did put on my rainbow wig, big colorful bowtie, and my red sponge nose (the one I got from Aria's birthday party last April). I went as a clown. 

I decided to play the ukulele and use some of my puppets in my presentation. 

When it came time for my part of the program, I got out my ukulele and tuned it up. The first thing I did was share the story about what happened at the hoedown and publicly thanked Linda, who was there, for helping me out. 

In hopes of making everyone laugh, I played several melodies in which I dropped in the lyrics to "Amazing Grace." I also played the Bill Gathier song "Family of God"; one of my favorite songs about the bond between Christians. 

Playing my ukulele, for the most part, worked pretty well and they seemed to enjoy it but the premise of of my "Amazing Grace" routine still needs some work.   

I then gave the seniors the opportunity to put aside their inhibitions and release their creativity by putting on one of my puppets and creating a voice for it. I made it optional and most everyone participated. After a few basic lessons in puppetry I had them all join in a group singing of "If You're Happy and You Know It". With that I ended my presentation. 

We then enjoyed the pot luck lunch that they have every week. 

It was the first time in a few years that I was part of the group's Friday morning meeting. I enjoyed it and and look forward to doing it again sometime in the future. 

Before I go on let me tell you about a factor that really changed my day: the weather. 

In an unusual turn of seasons for October in south central Kentucky, a weather front came in on Thursday night making it day cold, with temperatures falling into the 40s,and very windy. 

As I mentioned in my last post, Trick or Treat night in Smiths Grove is one of my favorite nights of the year. I usually like to walk down Main Street mingling with the families going door to door as the kids collect their candy. 

I admire and comment on the costumes and take some pictures. But because it was so unseasonably cold that didn't happen this year. 

This brings me to the next event of the day, taking my granddaughter to "trick or treat". 

Last year her mother, Brandi, came up with a really adorable costume. 

But this year she came up yet another clever and unique outfit: a hot air balloon. 


Although she found the idea on Pintrest, it was Brandi's efforts and imagination that made it what it was, very cute. 

Once again this year, James & Brandi brought Aria to "The Grove" to "trick or treat" but the wind and cold really curtailed our plans. 

Just like the real thing, the wind made walking in the balloon costume very difficult for Aria. 

Luckily, Smiths Grove Baptist Church moved their Halloween candy give away inside to the new education wing of their church. This gave Aria some time to enjoy going around and getting candy while being out of the weather. 

Once we finished at the church, got back outside and headed down Main Street to other houses, we quickly realized that our little girl in her costume and the wind were not going to pleasantly co-exist. Here's a short video of Aria's gallant but futile effort to enjoy herself. 

video

We went down a block and a half to few more houses before everyone had had enough. We packed up the costume in the back of James & Brandi's vehicle and went back to our house. 

The entire time Aria was out in her costume she was the center of attention. Just about everyone who saw her made a fuss over her. She was the most photographed trick or treater of the day. Although Paula and I didn't see it, Aria's picture even appeared on our local TV station's 10 o'clock newscast.

Back at our house we all warmed up again. I took the traditional Conner family picture to mark the occasion. 




After the three of them left, Paula and I had to decide what we wanted to do for the rest of Halloween night. 

We decided to head into Bowling Green to see a movie we'd been wanting to see for a while. It was an appropriate one for Halloween night: Dracula Untold. 

It was yet another take on the legend of "Vlad The Impaler"
becoming the world's most infamous vampire. The movie was entertaining but not as good as we had expected. 

It was more about the war between Transylvania and Turkey than it was about Vlad's descent into eternal darkness. 

If you are interested in the history of Dracula in both fact and fiction you may enjoy this film. But I'd recommend you wait for it to come out on video. 

After the movie we picked up dinner from Pizza Hut (thin crust for Paula and thick crust for me) and came home. 

Our Halloween evening ended with us relaxing in our living room watching a Jeff Dunham special from a couple of years ago. It's the one where all his characters are dressed in different costumes. 

That's how I spent October 31, 2014. 

Before I close out this post I want to share a You Tube link to one of the funniest stand-up comedy routines about Halloween I've ever heard. It's by Jerry Seinfeld. I think you'll enjoy it. Think of it as my treat to you. 
Jerry Seinfeld & Trick Or Treat

Hope you and your family had a safe and fun Halloween. Now it's on to November and the start of the real holiday season to wrap up the year. Where does the time go?