Weather forecaster in a box

Dad spent about 40 years of his life as a meteorologist. But heck, he could’ve saved himself a lot of time if he’d had one of these little doodads that I saw at Walmart yesterday:

weather-forecaster

It’s a weather forecaster in a box! Less than twenty-five bucks! And it even includes the moon phase… wow!

Vonage spam

Whenever I sign up for a new service– online or otherwise– and they want an email address, I create a custom address that identifies the company. For example, when I signed up for Vonage a few years ago, I used jeff-vonage@neobox.net. The reason? If I start getting spam at that address, I know exactly who sold my information (or whose customer database was compromised).

Behold one of many spam messages I received today:

pluristem

Yep, there’s the Vonage spam-trap address. Since it’s highly unlikely a spammer would guess that, it’s clear that Vonage either sold my information or lost their customer data. Either way, shame on you, Vonage.

As an aside, if I’m signing up for a new service where I don’t care whether they ever email me, I use guy@place.com. To whoever owns the place.com domain– especially if your name is Guy– I’m really sorry.

Getting older

One thing that’s nice about getting older* is friends. I just had lunch with my good friend Kendra, who I met during my junior year of college… which would be 1993. I love that I can say “I’ve known her for 23 years, and we still hang out”.

Dirk remains my longest and bestest friend; I’ve known him for 33 years and counting. We still email each other every few days, and I take the opportunity to see him whenever I’m back in Missouri. Other than my immediate family, there aren’t many people in my life who I can say I’ve known for decades, and fewer still who have been good friends for that long.

* Notice that I said “getting older”, not “getting old”. I’m not old. I continue to get older, but I don’t plan to ever be “old”.

Kyra’s last concert

Last night Kyra performed in her final concert of high school, and possibly her last time playing the flute. Before the performance, there was a banquet and award ceremony, and Kyra received a “senior medal” (along with 14 other graduating seniors) for her time in band. She was also given the Musicianship Award for her outstanding work; Ms. Texera even mentioned that Kyra was one of the “most talented musicians she’s ever had the pleasure of teaching”. Pretty cool.

The concert was good. Kyra is, as usual, the blond on the right side.

kyra-last-concert

After it was over, Laralee mentioned that she was sort of bummed that she won’t be able to see any more music performances at Skyline High School. I told her not to worry too much, since I’ll be teaching seminary for a few more years (well, at least one more year for sure) and I attend a lot of the activities of my students to support them. There are several in the band and choir, so I’m sure we’ll have an opportunity to see plenty more.

Commute time < song length

This morning as I left home, Weird Al’s “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” started playing. By the time I arrived at the office, the song was still going. I sure like having a commute time that’s less than the length of a (somewhat long) song.

Also, what better way to start a Monday than with a little Weird Al?

biggest-ball-of-twine-in-minnesota

Video conference with Peru

Twice a year we have an opportunity to talk to Alex while he serves his mission in Lima, Peru: Christmas Day and Mother’s Day (no, not Father’s Day). So this afternoon he “called” us via Google Hangouts and we put him on our 70″ television.

alex-bigscreen

We had a great time chatting about how things are going. He told some funny stories about life in Peru, and it was fun to have more than just a weekly email to communicate. He’s doing really well and enjoying the work. Only 17 months to go!

Our Town

Laralee and I were cleaning out some stuff in her office this afternoon, and as we cleared off one of the bookshelves I found the script for the first play I acted in during high school: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.

our-town-1

I think it was my sophomore year, which would’ve been 1987. I turned to Zack and said, “I even remember my first line: ‘Mornin’, Doc! Want your paper now?'”

And sure enough…

our-town-2

But my favorite memory was Dirk’s line. He only had one line in the entire play (unlike me, with my vast array of five or six!) and everyone in the cast knew it, so during practices we’d all shout along with him: “Oh, Ma! By ten o’clock I got to know all about Canada!”

our-town-3

Alas, neither Dirk nor I took this promising start in the theater to become famous actors (although he did major in theater in college).

Spring in Colorado

After a beautiful Friday, Saturday dawned cold and grey. It was so dark that even in the early afternoon it looked like dusk. The forecast called for “severe thunderstorms” and although we didn’t hear any thunder, the rain came down in buckets and we even had hail for a bit. I was down in my basement office, watching the hail pile up in the window well where it’s now melted a bit into a sheet of ice.

Apparently there was at least one tornado in the area, too. Ahh, spring!

Lilacs

Yesterday was a beautiful late-spring day (finally!) so Laralee and I took a walk in the afternoon. As we headed out the front door, we could smell the lilacs that grow along the side of our house. They’re in full bloom now. Walking past our neighbor’s house, we saw some huge lilac bushes.

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They smelled amazing. I suspect in a few days they’ll be finished blooming, but it was fun to walk past them.

Sunrise

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m not a morning person. As such, my calling as a seminary teacher this year has been a bit of a challenge. Class starts right after 6am, which means I’m rolling out of bed at 5:30. For most of the school year, the kids and I drive to class in the dark.

Until now. On Friday I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some doughnuts (a seminary tradition) and noticed that the sun was just peeking above the horizon.

sunrise

As we approach summer, sunrise is shifting earlier. And as of next Monday, May 9, it will officially be at 5:50am– the time we leave the house. So for the first time in the year, we’ll see the sun on our way to class. Woo hoo!

Behold the knickknacks

In our family room there’s a light that illuminates the mantel above the fireplace. I suppose if we were the kind of people who had a beautiful well-decorated home with tasteful coordinated wall hangings, it could be pretty cool to highlight a photo and some decorations.

Instead, we have this.

behold-the-mantel

The photo is by Thom, from a trip we took to Monument Valley. And the knickknacks are, well, just a random collection of stuff gathered over the years, including such things as:

* A Galileo thermometer
* A hollow glass globe with an intricate painting on the inside
* A swordfish we found twenty years ago at a touristey store in Estes Park that was going out of business
* A weird wooden carving of a beaver
* A second swordfish, this one made out of clay, which Alex gave us in second grade or so

I guess every home is different. Ours is… well, just a little more different than most.

You have leads! Wait, no.

I was contacted by a potential new client about building a web site for them. They’re a pretty big company, so, like all big companies, they have a Process for bidding on projects. In this case, they won’t even tell me precisely what kind of web site they need until I’ve completed a company profile on a system called Ariba.

From what I can tell, Ariba is a tool intended to let companies like this engage companies like mine as contractors. So, fine, I went ahead and filled out the profile. It was onerous and pretty invasive– asking for financial information, proof of liability insurance, employment histories, and so forth. But hey, this is a big company and maybe that means big bucks for a web project, so I forged ahead.

Half an hour later, after I’d submitted the profile, Ariba informed me that based on my company profile, there were 18 other companies who were looking for contracts I could fulfill! Yay!

leads1

Curious, I clicked to learn more.

leads2

Ha ha, just kidding, Zing Studios! You’re such a sucker.

Nice, Ariba. I just hope this is worth the effort.

Dr. MaxMan

Today’s winner for best spam message:

maxman

The message doesn’t actually say what they’re selling, but it’s apparently related to a “Dr. MaxMan”. What a cool name!

I guess it has something to do with growing vegetables. Maybe an organic fertilizer?

Fire station

Last night, as part of our continuing quest to make cookies and deliver them to random people, we decided to take a plate of chocolate-chip deliciousness to the local fire station. It was about eight o’clock at night, but of course firemen are always on duty, so we rang the bell and presented the cookies.

It may have been a slow night, because they invited us in for a tour of the station. We spent about an hour talking with Monty (the lieutenant), Todd (the engineer), and Amy (the paramedic). The three of them have been working the same shift for years– Monty, in fact, has been a fireman for 38 years. They’re good friends and love working together. They showed us the trucks, talked about how calls come in and are dispatched, told us about their training, and on and on. We had a lot of questions and ended up having a great time. The level of experience and dedication these guys possess is pretty impressive. It’s good to know we’re in good hands in an emergency.

Ta-da!

This morning Zack was on the couch with his water bottle and he dropped it. It landed like this:

water-bottle-magic

Now what?

I thought it was spring

April showers bring… snow, I guess.

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For most of April, it’s felt like November or something. The past few days have brought cold, grey, drizzly days that eventually turned to snow. I suspect this year we’re just going to skip over spring and go right into summer.

Ending the pizza fast

As a guy who typically eats pizza several times a week, the last 16 days have been pretty hard. Since I’ve been sick, I haven’t been eating my “normal” diet, and given my runny nose and hacking cough, a half-pound of mozzarella cheese probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.

But today I was able to end my fast. Brian and I went out to Parry’s Pizzeria and enjoyed a half-pound of mozzarella with an obnoxious amount of grease.

pizza

Ahh, it’s good to be back in the saddle.

Da prom

So Kyra went out to prom last night with her long-time friend Ricky, who looked dashing in a white suit.

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It almost didn’t happen… Ricky lives in Utah and had been planning to drive out here, but was involved in a car accident a few days ago. His friend, who had been planning to come as well, ended up cancelling. In the end, Ricky bought an airline ticket and showed up ready to roll. Now that’s dedication! (Or a serious crush on my daughter.)

Bowlin’

It was spring break, Zack was off with friends (as always), and the rest of us were sitting around home wondering what to do. Kyra’s friend Chaille was bored as well, and lounging on our couch. Laralee was just getting over a cold, and I hadn’t yet started mine, so we decided to go bowling. Because, why not?

Of course all of us were terrible, but that’s not the point. The point of bowling, as everyone knows, is to launch the ball down the lane with the most speed possible so it absolutely crashes through the pins and knocks them over with sheer momentum.

It’s also important to have a little dance prepared for when you get a strike. Here’s Kyra showing hers.

bowling-1

(I had quite a few little dance moves, which naturally irritated Laralee, who only had one or two strikes all day.)

We’d paid for 90 minutes, which was just about enough time for three games with four people. As the minutes wound down, though, we realized we weren’t going to quite be able to finish the last game. So the final three or four frames became sort of a comical speed-bowling competition, where we were often tossing the ball down the lane before the little gate had been pulled up. Luckily there weren’t any incidents like that time at Dirk’s 15th birthday party (long story).

Here are the three ladies looking all professional or something.

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And of course I always look good.

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Horse head

For a long time, Zack has been planning to buy one of those goofy rubber horse heads. We keep telling him it’s a waste of money and after about five minutes he’ll get bored of it, but it doesn’t squash his dream.

A couple of weeks ago, Laralee was putting together an order on Amazon and needed to spend a few extra dollars to hit the free shipping threshold (yeah, we’re too cheap for Prime). So she dropped a horse head in the cart, and a few days later we had it. Zack didn’t know, and he was off at his friends’ house when it arrived. Kyra put it on and sat on the couch, and he came in, saw her, and was confused. “I didn’t know you wanted a horse head too!” he said. Kyra told him it was for him, and he practically melted. He gave her a big hug and told her what an awesome sister she is.

Here it is in all its glory:

horsehead

Ahh, Zack. Sometimes I don’t know about that kid.