Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another year gone!

Isn't it odd that the older you get, the faster time seems to go by? My theory is that we had a lot less to do when we were kids, so time dragged (or at least seemed to). Now, our agendas are full of work commitments and family commitments and everything else under the sun. There are not enough hours in the day to fit in everything!

Just think - this picture is the ball dropping on December 31, 1988! Twenty years ago tonight! Does it seem like it has been 20 years since 1989?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA_UsMfw7Zc&feature=related

I've done a much better job of blogging this year - 310 entries. If it happened, I most likely wrote about it.

It's been a busy year but nothing was thrown at us that we couldn't get through.


I traveled a lot this year. I started out in January in Miami.

I went all over for work- Tampa, Orlando, Kansas City, Memphis (for only one day due to my wife's appendectomy), Cincinnati, St. Louis, Dallas, Bloomington (Indiana).

I saw a lot of cool stuff and met a lot of people along the way. I also got the chance to reconnect with quite a few people I had lost touch with.

We even took the kids on their first real vacation - Disney World! It's my #1 event of the year and we made a lot of good memories. Hopefully we will go back in a year or two.

Looking back on everything I did this year, my trip to Pensacola Beach ranks up there pretty high on a personal level. I am very fortunate to work with some very special people who helped make this one of my favorites. I spent just about every night walking up and down the beach just listening to the surf. I honestly think it was one of those life changing events at just the right time. I don't think anyone who experiences the calmness and beauty of the beach like we did returns as quite the same person they were before they left. Pensacola Beach will always hold a special place for me and I will return there some day soon.

I guess our biggest family event of the year was having both girls in elementary school together. Lindsay entered Kindergarten this year and time keeps moving so quickly.

All in all, we've had our ups and downs this year but I think we've handled them all in stride. If you look back over it all, the ups far outweigh the downs. I think we have been particularly blessed in '08. Here's to a great 2009!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blog Housekeeping

I've been quite the electronics guru in the last week. Look at this impressive list...
  • Finally got my wife's iPOD Touch set up
  • Fixed up an ancient Windows 98 laptop that has been sitting under a piece of furniture for a year and even installed wireless!
  • Finally reprogrammed my police scanners so they actually pick up the town I live in (even though I use them mostly to listen to the headsets at the drive-thru since I am a freak! At least I know which food they are dropping on the floor and who they are making fun of at the window.)
  • Cleaned out my entire laptop music library - deleted all the songs I don't listen to - refreshed and upgraded my Zune from scratch
  • Committed to give Twitter a second chance - started following several Bloggers I like - hoping to be inspired!

And....customized my Blogger template the old fashioned way - editing the code manually. I finally made the blog nice and big like I like it - big columns - contrasting colors - plenty of room for my widgets and for pictures for 2009.

With all of this done, I can sleep well tonight. Tomorrow is my last day at work for 5 glorious days. Also, I'll post the "Year in Review" tomorrow. Good night!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Christmas Gift that keeps on giving...frustration

So, I bought my wife an iPOD Touch for Christmas....
Let me preface this by saying that I have had plenty of Apple experience over the years, from the IIe, to the Mac Classic, to the Powerbook. I've liked the quirky differences in Macs and am completely wowed by the cool factor of the Touch.

Yet, I am now convinced that there is a conspiracy involving using the Touch with iTUNES on Windows XP. I think Apple makes it as difficult as possible to use the Touch with XP because they want you to buy a Mac.

The fun began on Christmas Day. The iPOD wouldn't sync with iTUNES. I upgraded and reinstalled. Nothing worked. After surfing the net looking for a fix for 2 hours, I found that I needed to update the driver.

So, it finally syncs and then iTUNES tells me that a $9.95 update was needed to give you all of the cool functions - like loading software. Guess what? The Apple server was down and stayed down for 2 days. Also, the iTUNES Store charged me for the update 4 times. Fun, huh?

They finally fix that. Then, we try to sync contacts to the iPOD Touch. No go. Reinstall Outlook. Nada. Again, surf the net looking for a solution and find out only Outlook 2007 works. So, we upgrade all of that.

I'm sure that this sucker works right out of the box with a Mac, but Apple is doing themselves no favors treating us Windows users like second rate citizens. That is why I personally have a Zune. Plug and Play. More bucks for Bill Gates.

Rant over. Computer off. Zune on. Good night.



Sunday, December 28, 2008

A little housekeeping...

I decided to go back to a previous look as we enter 2009. Just like on the blog, I also took down the Christmas lights on the outside of the house. In fact - it was the earliest I ever took them down. Being the neighborhood grinch, they came down on the 26th - one day after Christmas!! It was 70 degrees and I'm sure that won't happen again for awhile.

Back to work tomorrow. Coming up this week - the end of the year wrap-up!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

1.

Another action packed Christmas Eve is over and the clean up is about over also. Time for Santa to make an arrival and drop off some loot. The kids asked me to stay up all night and snap pictures of Santa. That is not going to happen. I don't want a lump of coal in the morning.
One of my pictures that came out OK. I seem to have a red eye problem with my aging camera!

Alex had to get a better look.

Even the Elf on the Shelf found a special companion to spend Christmas Eve with!

Have a great Christmas. The blog will be on holiday hiatus for the holiday weekend!

Merry Christmas!


I've turned off the webcam...

Thanks to everyone who "stopped by" and shared in our Christmas Eve! Have a Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Eve Webcam is up!!!

The webcam is up and streaming our family Christmas Eve get together. If the cam is down, it could be due to the thunderstorms about to move through or we have exceeded our viewer limit (only 15 can view at a time).

Please leave a comment and let me know where you are watching from!

You can also see the cam at http://www.geocities.com/barneynoble/



The webcam is off now. Thanks for stopping by!

Ready for Christmas Eve

The webcam will be up in about an hour...
Alex is ready.
The webcam is up - way up!

The Elf is surveying the scene before he returns to the North Pole.

The stockings are hung over the invisible fireplace.

The gifts are waiting for the crowd.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2.


Not much to report here. After all the work over the last week getting the house ready for tomorrow, I suddenly have incredible sinus issues. I would guess this is from the constantly changing weather or maybe I stirred too many dust bunnies over the weekend and poisoned myself.
Time to dope up and go to bed. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow!
Oh - I tested the webcam tonight and will fire it up tomorrow for our Christmas Eve dinner. Just ignore my sneezing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

3. Reflections on Christmases Past



It hit me today - full blast. I was standing in Walmart (Chinese Superstore) looking at all of the Christmas items on clearance. It's at that moment that I realized it is all just about over. All of the work - all the decorating and wrapping and preparing - it's all about done. I can already see myself picking up wrapping paper off the floor, bundling trash for the garbage man, and taking down the Christmas lights. This happens no matter how hard I try not to think about it.

I guess that's the odd thing about getting older. When you're a kid, the anticipation builds right up through Christmas morning and then, it hits you (the "it's over blahs"). When you're older, the blahs come a bit earlier - at least for me. Maybe there is a little part of me that wishes I could freeze my kids in time and have these Christmases over and over and enjoy the thrill they get out of what will seem "not so magical" as they get older.
It's amazing how fast it goes by. Here I am in 1975 (age 2) at Rivergate Mall meeting Santa Claus. I don't appear to be too pleased with the experience (maybe I am embarassed in that coat).

The next year, I seem to be a bit more excited. It could be the minature leisure suit. They were all the rage in '76.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

4. (The one about Christmas movies)


Tonight, I thought I would run down the list of some of my favorite Christmas movies followed by a few that just plain disgust me.
Favorites!
1. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Still my favorite one to see and much harder to see now than it was when I was growing up. I think only certain channels can show it and I think that makes it in danger of being lost for the new generations. Luckily, I have a non-colorized DVD!
2. A Christmas Story (1983)
I normally see it 2 or 3 times each Christmas now that they run it over and over again. I saw this one in the theater when it came out so I think about Christmas when I was that age when I see it.

3. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Not only do I fear that my own attempts at Christmas will turn out like this (and they normally come mighty close around here), but it amazes me how much in this movie is valuable in day-to-day year round real life. I feel like I am watching myself at my job in this movie. It's so close it is almost scary.

4. Scrooged (1988)
I finally bought this on DVD this year since no one seems to show it any more. It's one of Bill Murray's best.

5. Christmas in Connecticut (1942)
I've always liked this one a lot and try to catch it at least once a year. Sydney Greenstreet (from Casablanca) is hilarious in this one.


The NAUGHTY list

1. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
One of the worst movies I have ever seen, Christmas or not. I did see it once in the theater. The "acting" is horrible. It amazes me that I know people who actually like this movie. Yeech!

2. Deck the Halls (2006)

I can't believe I actually sat through this. I hated the characters and was hoping they would go up in an electrical fire. I rented it and felt like suing Blockbuster after. It is world class awful.

3. Fred Claus (2007)
I just sat through this puker a couple of nights ago. This is NOT a comedy. They actually tried to make a serious movie here (I think) with actual morals and all that. It is GARBAGE!

4. Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Wow. To think that John Grisham had a part in this makes me ill. Doesn't he have enough money? Again, you cannot possibly like any of the characters in this film. It is just 99 minutes of awful trite steaming hot crap.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

5. (The one with the singing machine)

Not a lot happened today. We pulled out the karaoke machine when the neighbor came over. That kept them entertained for about 20 minutes.
Today was mostly about rest and waiting for the cold weather to get here. After the rain tonight and the freezing weather coming in, we're probably in for a few slick roads tomorrow morning. There will be no white Christmas again this year (sigh).

The kids are in bed and I'm half asleep (like I have been all day). The good news is that I got the webcam going today and we should have it up for Christmas Eve.


Friday, December 19, 2008

6. (The one with the parties)

We started the day with Lindsay's party.

Here is the student teacher in Lindsay's class.

Here is Lindsay's teacher.

Here is Lindsay at Sara's party - it had a "fiesta theme". Ho Ho Bueno?

Sara and Lindsay stuffing their faces.

Sara shows off the fiesta wear.

We enjoyed the 73 degree day with an outdoor activity I call "Throw pizza on the roof for the birds to eat". (Yes - it was 73 today. First day in the 70's since October. I'm sure we will pay for it)

Lindsay normally only does a fake smile for pictures. This is a real smile. Lindsay is obviously happy when she is doing something naughty.

Speaking of naughty, this picture speaks for itself.

So, school is out until January. Christmas is less than a week away. It goes by much too quick.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

7. (The one with the trees)



I read a story today about real trees vs. fake trees.

That got me thinking. I have always been a "fake tree" guy. I never really knew why since I grew up with real Christmas trees. Was it because I was afraid a real tree would dry out and burn down the house? Was it because I didn't want the dog drinking the tree water?


Luckily, thanks to photographs, I was finally able to remember - the real trees were incredibly frustrating. There was constant worry ("Did I leave the lights on? "Is the house going to burn down?" "Are we all allergic to the tree? "Will it come alive in the middle of the night and kill us?"). We never got that tree out of the house without breaking something - a lamp one year - a ceiling fan another year. And then, there was the guilt of throwing away a tree. That guilt started on Christmas afternoon. It had served it's purpose. It had to go in the trash.
Well, I started taking a lot of pictures in the mid 80's - My mother has pictures going back to 1973 and but I can't get them out of her - Overprotective Picture Phobia. So, enjoy this trip down tree memory lane.


This one is from 1985. It's pretty full - somewhat lopsided. The ornaments seem a bit lost in all that.

1988 - my first fake tree - starting a tradition of 20 years of personal fake trees. I got this at Walgreens and it actually dry rotted out over the course of one year in the late '90's. I opened the box to find all of the fake needles had fallen off. It was quite tragic. I still have the little wooden handpainted ornaments that came with it.

Our real tree in 1988. Notice that odd branch sticking straight up out of the top -begging for a star or a bow.

1991 - same poor branch, same missing star.

1992 - this one looked more like we had cut down a hedge in the neighbors yard.

1993 - wow. That looks horrifying. It's almost like we stood across the room and threw ornaments at it.

This year, there are fake trees all over the house...

The bedroom / home office...

Sara's room

Lindsay's room

And, the main tree - purchased at Lowes last year. It replaced our 5 year old KMART special that ended up being donated to my wife's work.

Long live fake trees!