Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Random Xmas Gift Thoughts 11/29/11

  • This is your annual reminder that Xmas is not X-ing out Christ.  The Greek letter chi (X) is the standard abbreviation for Christ.  In my sermon notes I write "X" for Christ, "Xn" for Christian, and "Xnty" for Christianity.
  • I'm already wrapping Christmas presents for the kids.  I wrap them at work and delight to see the kids meet me at the door to carry in a few presents and place them under the tree.  Homeschooling actually limits Shannon's ability to shop for and wrap presents but I sure don't mind.  In fact present-wrapping for my children is making this my favorite time of year.
  • Each present is numbered and I keep the super-secret master list of which numbers go to which child.  Who gets present number 17?  Nobody but Dad knows.  This cuts down on sneaking peeks and comparing numbers or sizes of presents.  It also gives me the flexibility to reassign a present, depending on how the shopping season shakes out.  One of the first presents under the tree this year is a generic boy's gift which will be assigned sometime later.
  • Yes, I keep the list in a spreadsheet so I can sort the list by both number and recipient. 
  • This year, since Christmas is on a Sunday, we probably won't open presents in our pajamas like usual.  Instead, we'll stuff stockings and open presents after lunch, when we get home from church.
  • Thank goodness for Google, Amazon, UPS, and online shopping.  With five kids, I can't imagine doing Christmas shopping without these money and time-savers.  As far as the internet is concerned, my shipping address is the church.
  • How do you keep Christmas shopping fair among multiple children?  Same number of presents?  Same amount of money spent on each child?  Same amount spent from year to year on that age of child?  Do you factor in inflation?  We try hard in our house to teach that "fair doesn't mean equal, fair means appropriate."  Teenagers don't want or need the same things as toddlers and girls certainly differ from boys.  Special needs are, of course, special.  So Mom and Dad have the responsibility to "do right" by each child, regardless of whether that meets the children's expectations or desires.  If their judgment was always right, they wouldn't need parents.
  • Another factor I try to weigh when buying gifts is the "splash" of each gift.  When I buy my oldest son a video game or book, that gift makes a pretty big "splash" in the sense that the rest of the children will enjoy that gift also as it's shared and handed down.  But the gifts I buy for my little girl, the only girl and youngest of five, have very little "splash" because the grade school aged boys probably won't touch a baby doll with a 10-foot poll.  In our house we're expected to share, so shopping for big splash items gets more of my attention.
  • This year I wrapped a present in a box with a hole in it, left open so the kids can see inside.  The box was a tall box that had an oval-shaped opening for a handle.  I carefully wrapped around the opening, leaving it as a little window into the big box.  Inside are two more separately wrapped presents.  Watching my little ones strain with glee to peek inside warms the cockles of heart.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Anticlimactic End

Today the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi, between Kansas and Missouri, comes to an end.  It's a shame as this year is unlikely to produce much of a game: KU is bad in historical proportions and Mizzou is a pretty solid team this year.  It shouldn't be much of a game.

But Missouri wants out.  They (understandably) hated Texas' control over the conference and longed to go to the BigTen.  The BigTen picked Nebraska instead but Missouri had already left the Big 12 emotionally.  Even after the Big 12 stabilized, addressing almost every issue held by the schools that were complaining, Missouri had already made up her mind leave and was now looking south to the SEC.  The SEC took some convincing but Missouri's not really a bad fit there and eventually the deal was done.

So now a century-old rivalry, born in actual warfare, dies at the hands of Missouri's discontent.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Missouri suffers here too by entering the strongest football conference in the country.  I know the Tiger fans think they'll compete but the reality is that even a good team like Mizzou is going to struggle to go .500 in a conference like that.
  • Missouri is why I learned the word "schadenfreude."
  • Kansas City is hurt worst by this breakup.  It was the halfway point between two bitter rivals, now it risks losing any tournaments, football games, or anything else related to the Big 12.
  • Upsetting Mizzou today would not save Turner Gill's job.  He's a nice guy but it's that bad.
  • A lot of Jayhawk fans are feeling jilted.  Missouri's departure feels capricious and unnecessary.  This generation of KU fans doesn't want to see Missouri again, like someone left at the altar.
  • My kids aren't even going to remember this rivalry.
  • I'm going to smack the next college football fan that tries to justify the Bowl system based on tradition.  Nonsense.  These teams that have left decades-long rivalries have proven that "tradition" has nothing to do with how college football operates.  Give us playoffs already.
  • K-State is not the same.  K-State feels too brotherly.  It's too lighthearted.  The same goes for basketball rivalries like North Carolina or Kentucky.  There's no actual heritage of hard feelings.  They're just friendly competitors.  The Missouri rivalry had a history of violence. 
  • Don Fambrough and Norm Stewart wouldn't have let this end so easily.
  • Missouri has the best chance in years to beat KU in both football and basketball this year.

So long, Mizzou.  As a KU fan, I think you've made a terrible mistake leaving the Big 12.  Perhaps things will change and we'll find ourselves together again in a mega-conference some day.  Good luck.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Have You Read My Text?

Have you ever sent a text message and then wondered whether or not the recipient has read it yet?

If you're running iOS 5 on your iPhone then you now have that option… sort of.  More specifically, you have the ability to tell others if you've read their text messages.  But if you tell your spouse or best friend to return the favor then the option is pretty handy, especially if the message is urgent and you're debating whether to place a call.

It's simple.  Here's how:

Go to settings and click on "Messages."

Then slide the option to "send read receipts."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Random Thoughts 11/23/11

  • No services tonight at church due to Thanksgiving.  No worship practice either; we have a guest worship leader this Sunday: Kelley Bowker.
  • I know it's silly to complain about a guy who consistently gets a double-double, but Thomas Robinson kinda disappoints me so far this season.  Up until the second half of the UCLA game, he seemed to be making a lot of mental mistakes for a guy who's supposed to be lottery-pick.  Hopefully, he improves as the season progresses.  Tonight would be a great time to start.
  • Late every night, I make the rounds and check on all my kids; they all get re-tucked in about midnight.  Last night, Anneliese's little blanket was riding high, exposing her feet, so I gave it a little tug.  It didn't budge.  By the light of my phone I looked at where it was bunched up near her face and discovered that she was biting it.  I tugged again.  She was clamped down on that little pink blanket and it wasn't going anywhere.  One more quick tug… nothing.  So I got a second blanket and covered her feet.
  • What's up with NBC bailing on "Community"?  The show isn't officially canceled but it's not on the spring schedule either.
  • I got a five-minute cussing out from an angry shopper in a parking lot yesterday.  I was utterly impressed with her ability to blast someone who didn't harm her and wasn't fighting back – in fact, I probably stood there and took it longer than I would have otherwise out of a morbid fascination with this woman's rage.  I told her "God bless you" twice and both times she went nearly apoplectic.  Fascinating. 
  • We are playing basketball tonight at 8:30 at Wallula.  Be there.
  • It looks like Tanner may have scoliosis.  We'll be checking into it here in the next several days and hopefully learning a lot more.  Some encouragement sure would be nice from anyone with firsthand experience.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

There was a Young Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

There was a old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread,
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Sounds to me like she knew exactly what to do.

Friday, November 18, 2011

They Shoot Horses for this…

Believe it or not, I actually went to the doctor.

I realize that that probably revokes my "man card," but I had to go.  Three weeks ago I badly sprained my ankle. I was playing basketball, jumped in the air, hit my foot on another player, rolling it, and landed hard on the bone of the outside of my ankle.  Ouch.  I collapsed like a sack of potatoes. 

Even after ice and elevation and crutches and everything, that foot was swollen for weeks and, here on day 23, it's still a bit discolored and puffy.  But the pain I'm having after three weeks was really starting to worry me.  I broke that ankle twenty years ago and I've sprained them both multiple times over the years but this one seemed especially bad. Was it actually fractured?  Did I tear something?  Or am I just getting old? 

I needed the peace of mind of having an expert look at it so I went to the doctor.  He said there were no signs of nerve or vascular damage; it only appeared to be a bad sprain and, if he could give me some medicine to reduce the swelling, he expected the pain to disappear in the next 10 days.  If it doesn't, he'd do an MRI and check for soft tissue damage after Thanksgiving.

So that's the plan. 

One side note:  10 days of anti-inflammatory pills was $130, even after a special discount card I was given.  So I went back and asked for something different and the new price for a bottle of similar pills was only $5.  That's good but I'm not sure if plain old Ibuprofen is that cheap.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Thoughts 11/14/11

  • Easy come, easy go.  I was really excited about playing in a basketball league this winter but I just got word this morning that our team was the only team to sign up.  Nuts!  
  • I'm still using Shopkick on my iPhone and I'm closing in on my seventh or eighth $15 iTunes gift card.  Granted: I click away at that stupid thing everyday and I've been doing it months and months… but still, free money!  If you try it, enter my code to get free points: squirrel2482.
  • The poor Chiefs can't catch a break.  I've lost track of how many starters have been lost this season.  Now Matt Cassel looks like he may be out for the year. Great.
  • We're going to keep playing basketball on Wednesday nights, as often as can.  We play up at Wallula Christian Church at about 8:20 or 8:30pm.  Be there!
  • I have so many books that are about half-read.  Like twenty of them.  Commentaries, histories, novels, devotionals… it's like it's impossible for me to finish one of these things.  I NEED to finish some of these books!
  • It's also about time to start reading the Chronicles of Narnia with Eli and Graham.  I did this probably three years ago with Brennan and Tanner.  Now I need to go through the seven books again.  Brennan however, will start on The Hobbit.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Get It?

My apologies to those of you who had managed to go the last 25 years without thinking of Culture Club.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Random Thoughts 11/11/11

  • Happy Veteran's Day.  May God bless those who have served and sacrificed for our freedom.  Remember that today marked the anniversary of the end of World War 1 and just so happen to have the National World War 1 museum right here in Kansas City at Liberty Memorial!
  • 11/11/11  Palindrome dates are cool and we've had two this month with the 8-digit 11/02/2011.  Here's a list of seven and eight-digit palindrome dates this century.
  • KU plays it's first "real" game tonight!  Rock Chalk!
  • If you like architecture, check out this gallery of all 357 Apple stores in the world.  You can sort by country and China's and the UK's Apple stores are particularly stunning, especially contrasted to many of the smaller American storefronts tucked away in malls.  My two Apple stores here in KC are #86 and #218.
  • Normally we don't decorate for Christmas until Thanksgiving night, but Shannon and I decorated a tree in our yard today, one of the first outdoor decorations we've ever done.  Anneliese cooed at it, saying it was "sooo pretty" and "Daddy made a Christmas tree just for me!"  This might have to be a new tradition.
  • It looks like I'll be playing in a men's basketball league on Friday nights in December and January.  I'm really excited about it.
  • It appears that the President has announced a new permanent military base in Australia.  We'll have Marines stationed in Darwin.  Interesting.  I wonder what China thinks of that?  I wonder what Marine Corps families that like living in exotic places think?
  • My kids want to see the new Muppets movie.  I hope it's good.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Random Thoughts 11/9/11

  • Stupidly obscure auto-correct.  I typed in "schedule" on my phone and got "scrofula."  Seriously.  Have you ever been typing on your phone and intended to type the name of some medieval disease?  Ever?  Hey, iPhone, MacBeth called and wants its disease back.  I want to know the stats; of the billions of words that have been text messaged in recent years, how many of them have been "scrofula"?
  • Rock Chalk Jayhawk.  T-Rob had 22 points and 12 rebounds in the exhibition game last night and Conner Teahan was perfect from the floor and the line for 14 points.  Newcomer Naadir Tharpe had 19 points and 7 assists and 5 steals.
  • So Steve Jobs was right (again) about Flash on mobile devices.  It's a dead end.  Adobe just announced that they are ceasing development on mobile Flash because, even though it runs on an Android, Flash hates your phone's battery with a vengeance.  The whole web is going to transition to HTML5, just like Jobs said.
  • If you have to lose a volleyball tournament, do it the way we did last night.  My team lost 2-1 last night against our friends from our other church team.  They were the better team all season and it was good competition.  But the winner has to play next Tuesday during the KU-Kentucky game… so who are the real winners, really?
  • I blew up my ankle two weeks ago.  I sprained(?) it pretty bad or at least it seems bad.  I've sprained a lot of ankles, I've even broken an ankle, but I've never done it at 35 years old.  Two weeks on, the swelling and bruising is going away but the pain is about the same, even though it seems mostly functional.
  • My children love to hang out in our bed watching TV.  Yesterday Shannon made chocolate chip cookies.  Last night I found chocolate slobber all over my favorite blanket.  The suspect is short, pink, adorable.
  • Did anyone else hear K-State coach Frank Martin on the radio this week?  I swear I heard him interviewed about Mizzou and the Big 12 saying something to the effect of, "Now all the complainers are gone."  Wow!  I can't find this quote anywhere but I'm pretty sure I heard it.  Regardless, what an interesting take on the likes of Mizzou, Texas A&M, and Nebraska.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011

Random Thoughts 11/4/11

  • "The ice cream of the future," Dippin' Dots, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  
  • I know it was just an exhibition game, but the Jayhawks' new-and-improved Jeff Withey had a triple double: 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 blocks.  I'm hoping he develops into a true front line player because Kansas is going to be real thin on the bench this year.
  • This weekend I have both a wedding and funeral.  You can't hardly feel more bipolar than to go from a happy young Christian couple starting their lives together to a family that's just lost a loved one.
  • Is there any way the lawyers can get West Virginia in the Big 12 without paying an exorbitant fee while still making Mizzou pay out the nose to leave the conference?
  • We're settling into our new home.  It's crazy how we ended up there but I sure feel blessed that we did.  God is good.
  • Get used to the idea of the Los Angeles Vikings.  The stadium deal in Minnesota is ending soon and negotiations have been rough, to say the least.  The NFL wants a team in LA, which I've always thought would be Jaguars, but now the tables are tipping toward a relocated Vikings team.  That would make two purple and yellow professional sports franchises from Minnesota in LA with very un-California-like names:  the Vikings and the Lakers.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Look Ma, No Hooks!

I get a clever idea about once a year, and this one isn't even original.  It's a magnetic key hook built into the switch plate cover next to the door going out to the garage.  I've been using it for a few weeks and it's the best key hook I've used.

1.  Buy two powerful rare earth magnets online.  I found these on Amazon which were perfectly sized and more powerful than anything Radio Shack had.
2.  Remove the switch plate cover and measure the space between the switch and the inside of the box.  This is where your magnet will live.
3.  Adhere the magnet to the backside of the switch plate.  I found that clear plastic packing tape worked really well to hold them in place.
4.  Replace the switch plate.  This might be a tight fit depending on how much tape you used.
5.  Throw your keys at the light switch and voila!

Tips and comments:
•  I found that the magnets 1/2 inch wide fit perfectly between the switch and the box.
•  I used two powerful N45 magnets.  Cheap little refrigerator magnets are not strong enough!
•  Powerful magnets are just a little scary.  Use gloves to avoid getting a nasty pinch.
•  In most cases, keys aren't magnetic.  But key rings are.  More key rings and fewer, heavy dangling things makes this trick work better.
•  Packing tape is a better solution than glue, I believe.
•  Screws, screwdrivers, and rare earth magnets = comedy.
•  This is just a cheap plastic switch plate.   I'd be interested in how a metal switch plate would work.
•  This setup can holds two sets of keys easily.