Friday, December 23, 2005

Knowledge Justification

Although this outcome does not place me in the lofty category of Einstein or Newton, it does show I at least know the basics... ;)

You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Missing Girl Heading to Yakyma Washington

Please spread the word on your blogs!!!

This girl has been missing since Monday December 19th 2005 at 0705. She was last seen walking away from Lee High School in Fairfax Virginia.

We have a new clue from one of her so called friends. She was pursuaded to leave with the abusive drug guy who is obssessed with her. They may be on a greyhound bus headed to Yakyma Washington State. We think they are on a bus that left Springfield VA. on Monday and should hit Washington later today. I'll let you know if we get her. Thank you so much for the support.

She was seen walking with a 5' 10" 19yr old male, American Indian, long black hair, dark clothes, lip piercings. He has a backpack with a sleeping roll. She was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans. She has a very small silver nose piercing.

This male's name we believe to be Wayne Dixon. He very possibly could on his way to Phoenix with her. Please Please Please know she would not run away without calling and saying she is okay. She would have called her sister.

Please take the attatched flyer and post it everywhere you can and send this email to everyone you know. Thank you so very much. The number on the bottom of the flyer is for the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. Thank you so very much!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Empty Your Mind

This article is in response to this article on "The Roost".

A good example of this is the technician that was working on our phone system yesterday. He was attempting to troubleshoot why he could not get one of the phone jacks to work. The method he was using was merely testing if another jack was working in a variety of different ways. In his mind he was switching between the two jacks, but he was merely switching the same jack between to plugs in the phone switch.

The way I am explaining this might be losing something in the translation, but eventually another technician came along and had to explain to the first that he was not looking at the logic in his troubleshooting right. The first technician could not clear his mind enough to understand that he wasn't testing the correct jack.

When we get something set in our minds one way, it is very difficult at times to step back and rethink the situation. Religious discussions are notorious for this type of thought process. People of varying religious beliefs are so ingrained in their life-long belief systems that they find it next to impossible to accept any other line of reasoning.

Some folks swear by Fords, and some by Chevy's, still others are die hard Honda followers, and then there is the type that have Diesel's on the brain. Of course the Dodge fanatics are way out there. ;)

This mental problem is why those people who can think “outside the box” are a valuable asset to a company. A business does not need folks who are mired in their own idioms, but people who can make the mental leaps necessary to cover a larger encompassing scope.

I pride myself on having an open mind and make a real effort to listen to all points of a discussion. Like most people, I too occasionally fall victim to my own thoughts and seemingly have my own cup “spilling over”. Some people who know me ask where I find the time to read all the things that I read, or listen to talk radio, or watch the Science and Discovery channels. The fact is, this is what I enjoy, and so in my spare time it is what I do.

In the car I listen to talk radio so I can stay current on events of the world, and more importantly so I can listen to several sides of a variety of discussions. When at home, and the family has gone to bed, I work on my websites or read about whatever happens to be of interest to me at that moment. If I am in a television mood, I may do the brain-dead thing and watch a sitcom, or spend a Sunday watching things like the Science or Discovery channels.

Since I tend to stay informed on many topics, I am also very aware that many people don't read or write much these days. The older they get, many adults tend to lose their ability to read well, write well or even engage in meaningful conversations. For some reason I can't function that way. This is perhaps one reason I am working as a network administrator/engineer. In my career the industry is always changing. We literally learn new ways to do our jobs daily and have to adapt our thought processes accordingly.

Take a class on something that interests you. Read a book, any book fiction or non, but exercise your mind and work on your reading skills. When watching television, seek out the more informative channels, watch the news, or even something like an interior decorating or cooking show. The key is to watch something informative, not mentally draining. Write poetry, short stories, emails to your friends. Nobody to write to? Participate in forums on whatever website you find interesting. At the very least take up a hobby.

In addition to everything else I have mentioned, I also enjoy the LGB train that goes around our Christmas tree every year and I read magazines about Garden Railways even though I currently do not have the time or money to create one of my own. I am a scuba diver for the local water rescue team. Currently I am maintaining about 8 websites (I lose count) and helping others create web pages and sites of their own. My fish tank is something else that I enjoy, and the current crop of fish can't wait until I stop by every day to toss them their munchies. This past year has brought two dogs into our home, and I love to feed the Quail, finches and hummingbirds in the backyard.

Can I continue with my interests and what I do in my life? You bet. Sometimes it's exhausting just listing my activities, and that's not even going into what needs to be done for my three daughters with school, Girl Scouts, Volleyball, Basketball, Flute and violin lessons, etc...

It's no wonder I am getting more gray by the day.

So keep your cup at least empty enough to allow new things to pour in. Embrace life and live it by always searching for new experiences. This is why I love my “Life In A Handbasket Website”, because I get to write about a great many things and invite the world in for discussions. Unfortunately the world does not know the site exists, but that has not stopped me from writing my articles for the past several years.

The final thing is not only must you maintain enough room in your personal cup to learn new things, but you must also pursue your interests even if the odds are against you. Not many people read my articles, but I don't care. They are written as a way for me to express myself and get out in words all of the strange and random thoughts I am mulling over as I live my life.

It was Albert Einstein that said,

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Do something different, right now, today!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Wargames Are Hell

On her blog, Opinions From On High, "The Princess" brings up the observation that the gaming industry is getting more realistic as each year passes.

Does this realism truly pose a threat to our society? Should we try to "draw the line" on realism in gaming?

I thought I would share with you all my answer to her article since I think this makes for a good discussion topic. It is an industry that is not going to go away any time soon, so how you and your family deal with this access to the realistic games is a very real issue.

Tonight we watched a great mini-series, called The Triangle. It is a fictional T.V. series delving into the Bermuda Triangle Mysteries. While watching, we saw a commercial for a new X-Box 360 game. It is a WWII 1st person shooter that was so real, it left me wondering what the next step is. I am all for improving technology, but I think a line has to be drawn somewhere. If it becomes too real, then I see definite dangers with upcoming generations distinguishing the difference. Quite frankly, I’m a little scared for my son’s generation. This game was so lifelike that logically the next step would be characters so real you cannot tell that they aren’t. - The Princess

I would not like to stifle the development of technology because it is getting too good. I think the realism in the gaming world is fine. What this means, however, is just like inappropriate movies, parents must control what their children are exposed to.

Working in the computer industry I am approached all the time to “rat out” what people do online. Supervisors often want to subversively nail their employees, when what they should really be doing is supervising their people correctly. After all, if you have employees talking on the phone too much, or doodling on papers all day, or reading magazines at work, what do you do then?

This same philosophy holds for parents and children. Monitor their actions, don't buy them games of death and destruction, and attempt to prevent them from playing these at a friends house. I know, it's easier said then done.

You won't be successful all of the time, but even your actions of telling your children they cannot have these games at home because of the violent nature is something to make them pause and question why they even want to play them. Believe it or not, your concern for this type of content does rub off on them. They may think the game is cool, but they may not get the same satisfaction out of playing the game if in the back of their mind their moral compass kicks in. The same moral compass that you, as a parent, helped to program during their upbringing.

I love playing these types of games, but as I play them I am fully aware that they are simulating a horrible thing, war. My upbringing successfully impressed upon me that war is not a good thing, and during war horrible death occurs and this is not something to be enjoyed.

The feeling of trying to fight in a war type situation, however, is thrilling to most boys. The adrenaline gets pumped up and a certain excitement is found playing these games. The more realistic the better. If anything, the realism adds to the education that war is indeed hell.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Happiest Place On Earth

Last weekend our family packed our bags and headed to Southern California to attend the annual family holiday bash.

My three daughters were very surprised to discover that their aunt and uncle were taking us all to Disneyland as our Christmas present.

The last time the girls had been to Disneyland only one of them was really old enough to remember anything about the park, and the youngest did not remember a thing.

I grew up living about 7 miles East of Disneyland and have been there many times. It was a great place to take girls on a date because instead of doing something like sitting in a dark theater you could actually interact with your date socially and more quickly determine your compatibility.

Where am I going with this trip down memory lane?

Needless-to-say I had been on most of the rides so many times I knew them well. In fact my daughters were amazed, or embarrassed, when I could sing along with the entire "Enchanted Tiki Room" show.

Well, I was all prepared for the same old thing and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Disney "Imagineers" have not been just resting on their past achievements.

It began with "The Pirates of the Caribbean" ride. There were subtle differences from when I last remember this attraction such as improved flame effects, conquistador's defending the fortress that is being attacked by the pirates and two pirates trying to drag out a large tapestry of loot.

The entire park was decorated in holiday splendor with all of the trees lit up in a multitude of colors and a gorgeous Christmas tree on "Main Street". OK, so that has not changed, but it has always made the kingdom feel all that more magical.

Heading toward the "Haunted Mansion" it was obvious that the spooks were embracing the spirit of the season with trimmings of black wreaths and scarecrows dressed as “Sandy Claws”. Coming from all around were the sounds of rewritten Christmas carols such as "Scary Bells", being sung by what sounded like the original cast of “Nightmare Before Christmas”. I figured they would continue this decoration scheme throughout the ride just placing little mementos of the movie around here and there and that would be the extent of the change.

I was wrong.

You could still see many of the “Haunted Mansion” pieces of the ride, but they did an outstanding job incorporating the “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme. I don't want to describe everything to you and ruin the sights, but it was worth the wait in line.

Disneyland now has these things called a “Fast Pass”. At some of the busier rides you can get a ticket near the ride that gives you a 1 hour window when you can return to the ride and zip past a large portion of the line. As long as you're good at planning your time, this works pretty well.

We tried this Fast Pass thing out with the “Thunder Mountain Railroad” ride. After getting the Fast Pass tickets we went to some Santa's village setup in “Big Thunder Ranch” at the Northern end of the park. They had a nice group of reindeer for the kids to see, and the restrooms there were not as crowded as any other in the park.

From there we rode the “Matterhorn” ride (is that what it's called?), which is always a hoot. My youngest was tall enough to ride everything in Disneyland, so we could all enjoy the rides without having to do the thing where one parent stays behind while the other one rides the rides.

“It's A Small World” was all decorated for Christmas, and the music inside of the ride was changed to have a Christmas flare to it. At night I think that this ride had the most lights and decorations on it then all of the other rides combined!

One of the longest lines was “Space Mountain”. Sheesh, I can remember waiting in lines this long for it back when it first opened. Apparently it has been redone and the new and improved ride is still drawing a crowd. Once you ride it you can see why. In the old days it was basically just a roller coaster in the dark, now the coaster itself did not feel like it changed much, but they added swirling star-like lights throughout and it has made it seem more fun.

We really had fun on the new “Buzz Light Year” ride as well. The neat thing about this ride was that you got to shoot little lighted targets while battling Buzz's arch enemy. There were only two laser gun things and my wife and I had our littlest one in the car with us, but luckily there was a lever for rotating the car too so I spent the time spinning us all around trying to give the ladies a better shot at the various targets. The end of this ride was great because you got to send a picture of yourself to an email account for free. I'll post our pictures here in this article a little later.

If you go to Disneyland you simply must make sure you see the fireworks show. Don't just watch them from anywhere in the park, make sure you end up at the North end of “Main Street” facing the castle. The entire show is created based on this viewing position. I don't want to give away too much, but let's just say that the fireworks show is in 360 degrees from that viewing location.

There is actually more to tell about, but I think you get the idea that we had a good time on this trip, I won't put you to sleep by elaborating any more.

Well done Disneyland, and thank you for making the Magic Kingdom fresh again for an old fan. Walt would be proud of what you have done with the place. Once again Disneyland has lived up to its motto as being “The Happiest Place On Earth”.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

'tis The Season For Whiny-butts

I was listening to Sean Hanity today and some lady from Texas called in to tell of her clandestine investigation of Walmart and Target. She went on and on about how these stores have an official policy to call the Holiday Season... Are you ready for this scary term? The “Holiday Season”.

Ooooo... How terrible. I think all Christians should immediately go out and kill all Walmart and Target managers for this horrendous crime against humanity!

Give me a break. Saying Merry Christmas does not offend me even though I don't consider myself a Christian, but neither does saying Happy Holidays. Am I missing something? What is the huge deal that Christians are demanding that the word Christmas be forced onto stores?

The more these things rear their ugly heads, the less I like organized religion. Even the leaders of Christian churches ought to be smacking these folks that are giving them a bad reputation.

Talk show hosts like Sean Hanity should not be hooked into catering to these folks either. Trying to make the Holiday Season more generic for all is not a horrible thing, and in no way insults Christians.

Nobody is telling you not to wish people Merry Christmas, or that you can't put up a Chritmas tree, or sing Christmas carols. Nobody is preventing Christians from celebrating their holiday, and quite frankly nobody cares what you do.

You don't hear the Jewish community boycotting Walmart for not saying “Happy Hanukkah”, or the Wiccans for the stores not saying “Blessed Be”.

Now I ask you honestly, if you're a Christian do you think that your faith should be employing mob tactics to enforce retailers to say Merry Christmas over Happy Holidays?

Should we go into the fact that wishing somebody Happy Holidays is saying Happy Holy Days? What's the big difference between Happy Holy Days and Merry Christmas? This sort of stuff just makes me want to scream at everyone, Bah Humbug!

Although I'm not religious, I think saying Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays is perfectly fine. This season has stood for Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward man for so long, that I personally don't think that any one religion can lay claim to this time of year.

What's wrong with Jewish people having a Christmas tree? They can still celebrate Hanukkah, having an evergreen in the living room decorated with pretty lights would not prevent that would it?

This is the time of year we should all, as the planet, stop and reflect about living in peace with one another. Those of you who don't want to live in peace with us, well, we can just kill you! (kidding, of course)

I'd really be interested in everyone's feelings on this subject. Is it just me that this “Christmas is only for one specific religion” thing seems all wrong?

Realistically, if you look at many of the aspects of what we now celebrate in the Christmas holiday, you'll discover that the majority of it all came from Pagan celebrations anyway.

Christmas has evolved into the Holiday Season, which should be enjoyed and celebrated by all of humanity, not just a chosen few. After all, if you're Christian why wouldn't you want all people of the world to enjoy this time instead of trying to ruin it by using this time to make a political and religious statement.

Shut the heck up, sip some eggnog, and enjoy the season.

Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Holidays too!