Friday, June 29, 2007

Wishing You a Happy Fiscal New Year's Eve

Yep, it's that time of year again. Time for the holliday that only accountants celebrate. And only those that have a different fiscal year.

Now I know I'm jumping the gun by celebrating today instead of tomorrow, but since the next day I work will be next fiscal year, I'm starting the celebration today.

In roommate news, Clint is healing very quickly. They moved up his transition to a walking boot. He's in it now and can take it off and night to move his foot around. He's even more excited about the fact that he can go swimming already.

My ultimate game was Wednesday this week. The furthest we ever fell behind was 2-4. We were ahead at half 8-7 and won 15-11. So the record becomes 3-1. It will be interesting to see how many people we have at next week's game, which is on a Friday. Granted, the 4th is Wednesday, but I'm guessing lots of people will be out of town. Frankly, I bet numbers are low all week. I just hope we have enough I don't have to play the entire game because there's no way I'm up for that.

This last weekend, I went to see Evan Almighty. It has a different feel then the first one, more of a family comedy. But it was still quite enjoyable. I'm really glad I saw it.

I have been flying through books the last couple of weeks. I've read 3 in the last week and a half. Hopefully that continues since I've now started Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I'm hoping with the extra time off I get over the 4th that this one won't take me as long as the last one did. Of course, it is smaller, so I'm already ahead of things.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday Threesome for June 28

This week's edition is brought to us by computer geeks and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Optimize-- Okay, it's geek time: what do you use to optimize your computer experience? Is there a program or tool or piece of hardware that has made a difference for you?
You know, I didn't see the need for IE 7, but now that I have it, I absolutely love having all those tabs instead of all the windows I used to have.

Twosome: your-- firewall, is it a hardware or a software firewall? ...or is that something you leave to someone else to worry about?
My computer geek friends tell me I have a firewall....

Threesome: Firewall-- appliances and programs stop some stuff, but have you ever had to use a malware removal tool because something slipped in through email or from a web site?
Do I really have to answer this question? Because as soon as I say "I haven't yet," something will happen and I'll have to.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Spring Reading Things Wrap Up

So, since summer started this week, it's time to wrap up the Spring Reading Things, brought to us by Callapidder Days.

Back in March, I made a list of books I intended to read during the spring. Let's see how I did. (All links are to my reviews at Epinions.)

Books listed and read:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
False Profits by Patricia Smiley
Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrams
Remains to be Scene by R. T. Jordan
Kingdom Come by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
The Last Word by Lee Goldberg
The False Hearted Teddy by John J. Lamb (just finished. Review to come soon. Short version is I loved it.)
Whack a Mole by Chris Grabenstein (Enjoyed it, review to come)
Death by Panty Hose by Laura Levine
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
The Lies of Saints by Sigmund Brouwer
Dead and Berried by Karen MacInerney

Books not listed but read:
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants by Lee Goldberg

Books listed but not read:
Christietown by Susan Kandel (but I am currently reading it)
Death in Lover's Lane by Carolyn Hart
Sixth Covenant by Brock and Bodie Thoene
Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado

Actually, I'm pretty impressed with that list. Obviously, if I had just stuck with my list as written, I would have gotten through everything. But I also wouldn't have the first six Harry Potter's read by the time book seven came out. And the Hosseini book was a last minute free read from Amazon for their top 100 reviewers, so that definitely wasn't planned. And the Monk novel was an advance review copy as well.

And yeah, that's sixteen books in three months. With everything else going on in my life, that's impressive. Especially since it took me a week and a half to read Harry #5 and I thought I read a book a week.

So Katrina had some suggestion questions I thought I'd answer as well.

What was the best book you read this spring?
I think I'm going to go with a three way tie between The Lies of Saints, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and The False-Hearted Teddy.

What book could you have done without?
Most definitely Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrams.

Did you try out a new author this spring? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again?
Peter Abrams, Patricia Smiley, R. T. Jordan, and Khaled Hosseini. I won't be giving Peter Abrams another chanse. I will give the other three another chance, and really look forward to more from Hosseini.

If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it?
Techincally, I finished False Hearted Teddy on the first day of summer, but that was the only one I started I didn't get to. The reason for not getting to the other four was just because I ran out of time.

Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones?
No, mainly because I didn't do a lot of digging. (What's the smilie for embarrassment?)

What was the best part of the Spring Reading Thing?
Realizing my reading habbits aren't quite as subject to change on a whim as I thought. Don't know if that is good or bad. :)

Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall?
Just try to keep me away!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday Threesome for June 21st

Time once again for the Thursday Threesome, brought to us this week by Spray N Wash and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Laundry-- Ah, the relaxing way to spend a day, -eh? ...or not. "Laundry, bane or boon?", the question of the week!
I'm not a fan of doing laundry, but there are worse things I have to do. Of course, my opinion has changed now that I have a washer and dryer in my unit. When I had to hog quarters and carry my laundry to the central laundry room where I then fought others for the privalage of doing my laundry, constantly checking my watch to keep on top of it, I didn't like it that much. Or could you figure that out by my description?

Twosome: Stain-- Okay, we'll work on cleaning this Thursday: what's your best stain removal tip? (Mark, "buying a new shirt" does not count...)
You know, considering I just bought my first new clothes in at least a year, I find that very funny. :P

My best tip is don't get a stain in the first place. When I do get potential stains, I usually use some Spray N Wash, let it sit for a day or so, then wash it. Comes right out.

Threesome: Removal-- So you're doing dishes (presuming you don't nuke everything on paper plates and use plastic utensils): what's the hardest food to remove from day to day stuff (cookware doesn't count !).
I let the dishwasher deal with all of it. A rinse then a regular wash cycle takes care of all of it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Weekend of the Movies

So, I spent lots of time this weekend at the movies.

I started Friday night by going to see the new Fantastic Four movie. To be honest, I'm not sure why I was so intent on seeing it since I was only mildly entertained by the first one. Yet I enjoyed it. Could have been better, but better then the first.

Saturday morning, I started by heading to Thousand Oaks for a book signing. Susan Kandel was signing her new book, Christietown. It was nice to chat with her. Can't wait to read the book.

Then I drove back up here and hit the theater downtown. Up first was a matinee of Nancy Drew. Believe it or not, this was my favorite of the three I saw. Decent mystery that felt like something from the series. I couldn't quite tell if they were trying to mock Nancy or praise her. That was my biggest complaint.

I had a few hours between movies, so I went to Souplantation for dinner. Yum! And I brought Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with me, so I got some nice reading in as well.

Then it was back to the theater for the sneak peak of Ratatouille. I must say, this was my biggest disappointment of the weekend. Having loved every previous Pixar film, I thought this one could have been better. One sub-plot should have been removed to better focus on what was left. But I seem to be the only person who hasn't absolutely loved it. So don't take my word for it. See it for yourself.

So then Sunday I went and saw...nothing. I was movied out. Instead, I read down by the pool. It was perfect weather for it, pleasantly warm with a gentle breeze. And the pool water was the perfect temperature, too. When it started to cool off, I headed indoors and finished Harry Potter. This book definitely could have used some editting. I was more then ready to get to the climax by the time we finally got there.

Now I am reading The False-Hearted Teddy and loving it just as much as the first.

Last night was my ultimate Frisbee game for the week. We started out down, ending the half 2-8.

Sounding familiar?

Unfortunately, the comparisons with last week end there. We did finish the game 9-15, but we lost. So our record for the season so far is 2-1. Definitely something to be proud of. Now, if I just had some speed to my running, I'd really be happy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ultimate Challenge

Wednesday night, we had our second ultimate Frisbee game of the season. Talk about a nail biter!

Now keep in mind that games are to 15 as you read this.

The played horribly first half. In fact, it was 3-8 at half time. They were scoring everytime they got possession of the disc and we couldn't seem to connect with each other.

Then things turned around for the second half.

We started out by throwing the zone defense at them (instead of man to man). They just didn't seem to know what to do with it. Next thing we knew, it was 9-8. Then they scored to tie.

Neither team was ever ahead by more then two points the rest of the game. At 14-14, the captains decided it would be win by two hard cap at 17 or the lights going out.

They scored. We scored two, making it 16-15.

Then, just as we kicked off, the lights went out. That's right. We came from a five point deficit to win!

I wasn't quite as happy this week as I was the week before, but I still felt like more a part of things then before. I wonder if it's because, since I'm playing in a true co-ed league this time (equal numbers as opposed to 5-2 men), if it means the women are playing more on my level so I can be involved more. Either way, I like it.

I just need to figure out how to take advantage of the men poaching off me more.

Last night was an unusual youth group. Instead of regular youth group, we did The Challenge.

Basically, it's a huge relay race up and down a park here in town. While the kids have to complete various tasks, we staff where shooting shaving cream at them. It all ended with a huge slip and slide at the bottom.

Now I decided to do something different for it this year. Clint had told me I should show up to youth group sometime with a Mowhawk, and I figured this was the perfect night to do it. Of course, that meant he and I had to race home from work, shave it, then race to the park. Everyone seemed impressed, though, so it was worth it. Of course, I shaved off the rest afterward. My boss commented today "It must be summer. Mark's shaved his head." If he only knew what I looked like last night....

Everyone seemed to have a great time. The only problem was the kid's still haven't figured out that we start at 6:30 during the summer. We didn't start the contest until 7:20. Since I was on one of the levels of the park (there is grass on five different levels up a mountian) by myself, I got rather bored. I was stuck there by myself for an hour. Okay, I'm whining now. I'll shut up.

I did try the slip and slide. I haven't been on one since I was a kid. As I figured, I just can't do it. I don't drive except into deep water. And you need to be able to dive to do it right. Fortunately, I tried it while they were still working on the last task or after most of them had left, so I didn't make that big a fool out of myself.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday Threesome for June 14th

Before anything else, Happy Flag Day!

Now, on to today's Thursday Threesome, brought to us by The Weather Channel and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Crazy-- things happen with the heat; is there anything strange happening yet where you live?
Not yet, although we've just had our first true bit of hot weather in the last couple of days. Finally in the 100's.

Twosome: with the-- changing seasons,.how does your wardrobe change? No, we're not trolling for the pervs; let's stick with outerware...
I wear short sleeve shirts year round. When the students aren't on campus, I wear jeans. During the summer, I wear shorts as much as possible. And if I'm hanging out at home, I tend to do so shirtless.

Threesome: heat!-- Okay, what is "heat" to you? When do you figure it's time so stay out of the sun and cool off?
Heat is high 90's. Everything else is fairly pleasant. Over 100, I try to stay indoors. Unless it's to head to the pool.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And Now, for the Rest of the Story

So, I think I left off preparing for the weekend.

Friday night, I went to my first ultimate Frisbee game of the season! Yes, it's time for summer league to start again. And, since I took last year off, I was afraid I would be rusty.

All things considered, I was proud of how well I did. I kept up with my man of defence as much as I ever did. But more importantly, I got open several times on offense and was highly involved in a couple plays. Considering that doesn't happen every game, that made me feel very good.

And we won! Final score was 15-12. It was actually not that close in the second half. We were up 14-8 at one point then they scored four in a row. But still, a win is a win.

Now, I hope I can do as well again tonight. I have been exhausted all day. I feel like I'm in a fog or something. I think it's because I've been actually getting up when my alarm goes off so I can get in some Bible reading.

See, at church, we are challenging ourselves to read the Bible in 90 days. I don't know what I was thinking, but I signed up. And I've got a built in accountability partner in Clint, so I have to stick with it. But that adds an hour to my already packed day. So I am doing the best I can to squeeze it and everything else in.

Anyway, Saturday, Shaun Groves was down in Anaheim doing a concert. I went down with Clint, Kurt, and Kenny. They had never heard him before, and were very impressed as well. We left town much later then I wanted, then hit traffic due to the Dodger game. But we only missed the first three songs. Would have liked to be there for the whole thing, but I definitely enjoyed what I did see. And there's always next time.

And I got to chat with him for a couple minutes after the concert, too, which was nice.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Other News

So, let's see if I can get some other news up, shall we?

The 30th of May, Angelique, Casey, and I went to see Pirates 3. I think they enjoyed it more then I did. It was certainly funny, but I found they had too many plot twists. And, frankly, I really didn't care for the ending.

That first weekend of June, we took the youth to Castaic Lake. BBQed hot dogs for lunch and then swam all afternoon. It was a nice, relaxing day. Lots of fun.

Except for the sunburn. Wow, that hurt for a few days. I put sunscreen on several times, but it just didn't seem to help any. I'm still peeling.

Last week was fairly quiet. Nothing out of the ordinary happened during the week. Of course, Friday was a whole other story as it started a fun weekend....

(To be continued)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Epitaph

While I was driving to and from the guest ranch in Arizona, I listened to a few of the Chronicles of Narnia, including The Last Battle. I ran across a great quote there I had forgotten. But I have decided I want this on my tombstone.

Aslan is speaking. He has just told the characters that they have died and are in Heaven. And he says:

"The term has ended. The holiday has begun."

If that doesn't sum up life on earth vs. life in Heaven, I don't know what does. And that's why I want it on my tombstone/plaque/whatever I get.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

So, I'm only two weeks behind in blogging about life, huh? Let's get started at fixing that.

I went away for Memorial Day Weekend. It was wonderful.

Because I was in the hospital for Trixie Camp last year, I had a credit at Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, the location. I used it for the long weekend.

It's about 5 hours from me, but the biggest surprise in the 11 miles of dirt road you have to drive to get there from the freeway. I still haven't washed my car and it's filthy.

The ranch is located in the middle of nowhere. Literally. When you're out on a horseback ride, you can look around and see no other signs of human life.

But it was nice and relaxing. Outside of two horse back rides a day (except Sunday) and meals, there was nothing planned. That meant I could do whatever I wanted. And you know me. I planned to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that weekend, and read it I did. All but the first 100 pages. Certainly helps the old TBR pile to do something like that.

Sunday, I took off to explore the area more. I tried to find a state park that sound nice out of Kingman, Arizona, but after I'd driven an hour and realized I had another hour to go, I gave up.

So instead I drove down Route 66 to Oatman, a ghost town turned tourist trap. You wouldn't know it from the T-Shirts I bought, but it really wasn't much. Just a bunch of stores. I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to visit it again. But I will say the scenery on Route 66 was beautiful.

The evenings did have some activities. I really enjoyed playing pool with the other guests and the staff Saturday night. Lots of fun.

And it was wonderful to just relax. I sure did need it. In fact, I could have used another few days of just relaxing.

I only hit one patch of bad traffic coming back Monday. I could have been home hours earlier except I decided to stop at some outlets and do some clothes shopping. Pretty much a waste of time. And since I was there for a few hours, it was a lot of time I could have spent elsewhere. Doing what, I don't know, but I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thursday Threesome for June 7th

I really need to do another life type post, don't I? But in the mean time, you'll have to settle for this week's Thursday Threesome, brought to us by backup plans and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Just-- in time for summer vacation? Are you there yet? Another week to go? Does it matter (to the moms with little ones and the eight to five crowd)? Just curious how things are across American and around the world...
Doesn't matter to me. The college students aren't here, so it is rather quiet. But there's still plenty of work to be done.

Twosome: in-- times of crisis, what do you do to chill out a bit? Talk to someone? ...take a walk? a gallon of Ben and Jerry's? Read a book?
I'd say I fall into the talk to someone category or the read a book category. There's no better way to avoid a problem then bury your head in a book.

Threesome: case--by case? Do you have a carry case for everything that has one available and keep them all populated? ...or do you just stuff gadgetry into whatever is handy when you need to lug it along somewhere?
I have a case for my computer and guitar, but that's about it.