Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pantyhose- A Modern Woman's Dilemma


Warning, this will be a female focused post, all male readers may want to move on.....

Unlike my mother, I decided long ago that pantyhose were definitely invented by the devil. They are tight, fragile and downright uncomfortable! I have opted over the years to go without, or wear tights. Tights are a bit like hose, but you could almost hike over barbed wire without making them run. This is a bonus if you are me; you see graceful isn't in my general make up, and I can ruin a pair of hose before even leaving the house.

The weather has began to change and it is getting cooler... alright totally cold! And I realized on Sunday that although I prefer tights, my dress style has changed and tights may not cut it anymore. I might have to look into purchasing ...PANTYHOSE.... they do look classy, and can help my old ham legs look sleek and lovely. I may need to learn how to be careful... Yeah, I can do this! Wearing pantyhose doesn't mean I've turned into my mother. I can still be hip and wear them, yeah, it will be OK.

OK? Today I was at Target picking up a few things and decided that now was as good a time as any to take the leap. I headed over to hosiery and abruptly stopped! An entire wall devoted to pantyhose? There were only two brands represented, but an entire 18 foot section was full of 'hose! I couldn't believe it! There were, of course, several colors, then the Reinforced Toe, Sandal Toe, Control Top, Knee Highs, Thigh Highs, etc., etc., and etc. I was perfectly prepared to choose from those selections. But then I noticed that there were also Energizing Hose,Circulation Hose, Wetness Wicking Hose, Cellulite Hose, and yes indeed, Hose with a Massaging Panty???

WHAT???

I couldn't believe my eyes, but it's true! Hanes makes all these pantyhose... Whatever happened to the little eggs? They were so fun, so easy to shop for, and so cheap. These new pantyhose range from $7.00-$16.00 per pair! Unbelievable! Another unsuspecting woman walked by on her quest to buy bulk knee highs... (FYI- they don't exist anymore) We began to laugh and discuss the varieties of hosiery. As we chit-chatted over our dilemma, I remembered feeling this way at one other time in my life....

As a young woman, when I began to shop the "personal products section," I had the same feeling of confusion and awe at all the choices. Long, Short, thin, Extra Absorbent, With Wings, Without... do these things really fly? Do these pantyhose really energize,massage, breathe, get rid of cellulite and circulate your blood?

All I want is for my legs to look sleek and nice... anyone else out there?

Stickin' It To The Man!



Most of us who grew up on Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies recognize that picture... A classic moment where Bugs Bunny refused to give up his home to the developer who wanted to build a skyscraper in the same spot. As hilarity ensued, Bugs prevailed and the skyskraper was built as you see above, with a little indent for his humble rabbit hole.

Well, there's a similar situation playing out just down the street from us right now... Until today I only had a hunch that it was truly happening, but it's now been confirmed in the business section of our local paper!

The business in question is the Little Holland Drive In. It's an old fashioned burger stand, and an institution in the Tacoma area. In fact, their signature burger, the Mikie Burger, has been voted as the Best Burger in Seattle. For ANY Seattle list to even acknowledge that Tacoma has redeeming qualities is amazing, for it to take the top prize is unheard of. The burger is that good.

The Little Holland sat in an area that was greatly in need of renovation. Across the street, remodels greatly improved the visual appeal, and new tenants moved in. Down the street a recent remodel had similar results. The LH itself has a certain charm to it, and has recently been painted, so it looks quaint. But its immediate neighbors were truly an eyesore... There was a run down sleazy-mart on one side, and various dumpy offices on the other side. A few months ago, a sign went up in front of the sleazy-mart with a beautiful artist's rendering of what that corner will look like soon. Within weeks, the sleazy-mart had its going out of business sale, followed quickly by the other businesses. But the Little Holland kept pluggin' along, selling burgers (and frozen custard!) Wednesdays through Saturdays, as if nothing was going on.

A few weeks ago as Cindy and I drove by, I mentioned how strange it was that they weren't making any moves to close up shop, and jokingly referenced the Bugs Bunny cartoon pictured above. In the artist's rendering, you could ALMOST make out a similar indent in the new structure, but upon closer examination we decided it was just a shadow.

Last week the sleazy-mart came crumbling down... Then the offices on the other side were reduced to rubble. On Saturday I was buying gas across the street, and there was an excavator breaking up concrete from the offices, clearing the ground. The Little Holland stood amidst the dust and noise, not open for business, but its lights were still on, and the windows were filled with the same signs and posters as always. No big "GOODBYE!" notice. My curiosity was really tweaked!



This is what it looked like yesterday... Surrounded by rubble, blissfully unaware that time is marching on without it. And for the next 12-18 months, time will march on without impacting it! The story in the newspaper is that the owners have negotiated a deal to stay open during construction of the new business center - I'm really not sure how that will work, since the external structure is generally built fairly early in the construction process. I can't wait to see how this all develops!



I also can't wait to enjoy at least one more Mikie Burger before they're gone for good!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Frightfully Fun Times!

Last week was so crazy and busy that I'm still trying to get my sleep schedule back on track!

I briefly mentioned (amidst my excitement at scoring a bag o' crap) that we were participating in the Fircrest Haunted Trails last week... And we did! For me, the scariest thing about it was that Thursday morning was very rainy. Not a good start for a day whose evening would be spent haunting the trails of Fircrest... But by 11:00, the clouds had parted, the sun came out, and it turned in to an absolutely beautiful day! I got home from work and immediately started getting ready. Cindy was already working on makeup for herself, Andy, Kaylee and Zoë, one of our Puddle Jumpers who was helping us out. Here they are, in near-complete form.


(If you don't see the whole picture, just click on it)

We got out to the park as it was starting to get dark, which made the setup a little bit tricky, but we got it all ready before the first victims visitors came passing through. Our graveyard scene was filled with tombstones, bones, and of course, the skulls, bats and rats that I'd rigged with glowing eyes. We had our fog machine pumping a steady haze into the area, blacklights to make the ghosts in the trees glow, and three strobelights to make our motions look creepier. The city had run speakers throughout the trail, and was playing classic haunted house sounds throughout the evening. I wish I could have walked the length of the route, because it seemed like the whole thing was pushed up to a higher level than the previous years when we'd simply been spectators. But the flow of traffic was far too constant for us to go exploring on our own, and we stayed put in our little graveyard. During one lull, I did manage to snap a shot of myself though...


(If you don't see the whole picture, just click on it)

Nice, huh?? One lady told me I needed to floss - my quick reply was, in my gruff, growling voice, "After every meal!" My gruff, growling voice for that 90 minutes left me virtually voiceless for the next few days! Yesterday I was finally MOSTLY able to talk without dropouts... But my voice was still more gone than present for Friday's big activity, the Harvest Hop, aka Halloween dance at our local elementary school.

This was the 4th or 5th year I've DJ'd the Harvest Hop, and it's always a great time. It was kind of strange this year, since we don't actually have any kids at the school anymore... (If you missed it, I also did the Harvest Festival at Kaylee's new school.) The 2008 Harvest Hop was still a great time, though there were a few glitches. With our renewed push for the DJ business, we've purchased some new lighting, and the 'Hop was going to be the big debut for our new, fully expanded lighting rig! I was excited to get some pictures of it in action for promotional materials. Ahh, the best laid plans...

Upon setting everything up, plugging everything in, and jacking up the light bars higher than I ever had before, I started flipping the switches... Aww man! One of the moving-beams lights, one that I've had for like ten years with no glitches, blew a fuse. Since it's never given me any trouble, I haven't carried extra fuses, and was powerless to bring it to life. I ended up not getting any pics of the slightly crippled setup, though at several points I thought "I need to go do that..." But I DID get pics of the kids having a blast! Tyler has always enjoyed going to the Harvest Hop, even though he goes to a different school. That's him with the red mohawk in the middle of this pic:


(If you don't see the whole picture, blah blah blah...)

Another great Harvest Hop in the books... But there was another big school dance the very next night... This one, I wasn't DJing though... Instead I was, for the first time, watching my daughter go off with a coursage on her wrist, with a boy who formally asked her to go with him. Luckily he seems like a really nice kid, so we didn't really worry about her all night.


(If you don't see the blah blah blah...)

Instead of worrying, we decided to go to a haunted house, to see what it's like being on the other side after our haunted trails experience! So we loaded up our three remaining kids, along with Sarah, one of Kaylee's friends from Church, and headed up to Wild Waves for their annual Fright Fest.


(If you blah blah blah...)

Ellysa had gone to the haunted house earlier this month and told us was REALLY scary, so the kids prepped themselves by picking a giant witch nose.


(blah blah blah...)

Having survived that, we made our way over to the Scream Factory!


(you know what to do by now, Susan)

It was a great haunted house! Poor Sarah was really scared - she was a good sport for the first half of it, then she had clearly hit her limit and covered her eyes through the rest. Of course, right as we exited the building, there was a psychotic lunatic with a chainsaw chasing everyone, which sent all four of the kids running for their dear lives!

By Sunday, we were definitely in need of a day of rest! So naturally, we planned a big dinner / birthday party for my nephew Mathew's 18th birthday... His family (my sister Karen, her husband Lewis and their crew) came down for roast beef, mashed potatoes, Dr. Mario, Guitar Hero and homemade Strawberry Cheesecake! Incredibly good times, but man was it hard to get up this morning!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Pop Quiz: Attention to Detail

Welcome to Friday! To wrap up a busy week, we're having a Pop Quiz to test your attention to detail! Wow! Fun! Nobody doesn't love a good Pop Quiz, right??

Like all good Pop Quizzes, I'm not going to give any unnecessary introduction. Just click play. (if you're reading this via email or facebook and don't see the video, head over to TheBrinkerhoffs.com to play along!)

video

If you haven't watched the video yet, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!!

If you're not in a place where you can watch the video, just close out, and come back when you can. Otherwise it's CHEATING!! And CHEATING on a Pop Quiz is very definitely frowned upon in Mr. Brinkerhoff's class!!

Actually, to help with the integrity, I'll put the rest of my commentary in the comments, again, only available at TheBrinkerhoffs.com.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mo Betta Bag O' Crap!

Today is a GREAT DAY!!

First of all, our beloved Woot! kicked off one of their legendary Woot-Offs yesterday, and it carried over to today. The fun and excitement of the Woot-Off is very addictive to those who have successfully scored great deals, or maybe a Bag o' Crap before... So it's always a fun time.

Not only that, but tonight will be our family's first time participating in the Fircrest Haunted Trails, a cool outdoor haunted forest thing our town does every year. We've attended it several times, but this time we're setting up (what we hope will be) the creepiest graveyard Fircrest has ever seen! I've spent the past few days modifying rubber rats, styrofoam bats and ceramic skulls with glowing eyes, and setting up a lighting rig with fog machine, strobe and black lights. Kaylee and Cindy just went down to the location and found our designated spot, and it's a big clearing, giving us plenty of room to scare! We'll set up at 6, and from 7 to 8:30, I hope to hear hundreds of girly screams from girls and boys of all ages!

But in the midst of all that, Cool Thing #1 reached the near-ultimate peak of Coolness, when this item popped up:



Best of all, it WASN'T sold out yet when I got to it. Simply SEEING it available for sale is the first, and probably biggest, part of the battle for Crap Supremacy. They sold 4500 in nine minutes. That means a whole lotta "SERVER TOO BUSY" errors.

Today was one of my luckier days, though! I was able to not only see the bag available, but when I clicked on the "I WANT ONE" button, that page actually showed up too! The only glitch was that the button to change from a quantity of 1 to 3 wasn't working... Shipping is the same no matter how many you get, so 3 is definitely the way to go. But you don't look the crap horse in the face, so after a couple tries, I frantically hit the Stupidly Large BUY IT Button...



...and nothing happened...

I started getting the dreaded Server Too Busy error, but I kept hitting back, and re-clicking the Stupidly Large Buy It Button. Eventually, it loaded the main Woot! page, but the Bag o' Crap was gone and had been replaced by a high end media center PC. I was cautiously hopeful that my order had actually gone through, but clicking on "My Account" resulted in more timeout errors. The account servers were exceptionally busy processing those 4500 orders...

About 20 minutes later, I tried again, fearful - and pretty much accepting - that I hadn't gotten any crap to call my own. But what to my wooting eyes should appear?



YES!! I'm somewhat bummed that I only got in for 1, but in the last round, I got 3 and received exactly 3 items. Other people ordered 1 and got - LITERALLY - a bucket FULL of mp3 players. So I'll stick with the cautiously optimistic outlook.

If you haven't ever tried and failed to get an order in for a Bag o' Crap, I don't expect you to appreciate what a victory it is. But for those of you who have tried, and failed, or tried, and won, you know that the amount of adrenaline, excitement and sheer joy that comes with this little purchase is WELL WORTH the $8.00. Or $6.00 if you're stuck only getting one...

As always, the unboxing will appear in this space when it finally gets here!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Friday Funny! (Wednesday Edition?)

...proving that I can't read a calendar, here's this week's Friday Funny, two days early! Enjoy....

You're looking at the Blender Defender. The Blender Defender's job is to keep the cats from climbing up on the counter and eating the plants. This had become such a problem that the cat's owner hacked up a motion detector to trigger a blender and strobe light whenever Kitty hops up on the counter. The results are good enough that I think I need to do this for our own Jasper, who just can't seem to stop jumping up on our kitchen table...



More videos and full details are over at the Blender Defender!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Geek Out - Tech Support for Viewing Our Blog

My dear sister Susan has once again inspired a post. This time it wasn't a post on her own blog (possibly because there hasn't been a new one for five days) but rather a comment she left here, about a problem she's having viewing things.



As a matter of fact, I DO have suggestions! I had a suspicion what the problem was, and then I checked in with StatCounter to confirm it. Susan is running her monitor at a very low resolution, 800 by 600. Those numbers represent how many dots make up the picture on the screen.

The higher you have your resolution set, the more information you can fit on your screen. The trade-off, is that the things on your screen get smaller to make room for all that increased info.

Further complicating things, is that modern LCD Flat Panel displays have a "Native" resolution, that they were designed to run at. Older, tube-based monitors could switch between a wide variety of modes, and show all of them well. But that pretty, slim monitor on your desk now only wants to show the resolution it was designed to run, and if the results are "too small" for your eyes, you can force it to display the lower resolution for bigger everything, but the clarity goes way, way down as a result.

The standard native resolution for LCD Monitors in the 17 to 19 inch models is 1280 by 1024. Smaller screens operate at 1024 by 768, which is the default setting that Windows uses if it can't tell what the capabilities of your particular monitor are.

Most of the default Blog templates are designed so that they'll work at any resolution greater than 800 by 600. The problem is, they don't grow with larger monitors - everything is shown in a column approximately 450 dots wide. It was making me claustrophobic, especially at home, where our 19" widescreen LCD monitor runs at 1440 dots across. It was frustrating seeing nearly 2/3 of my screen just left blank, while pictures had to be shrunk down to fit in the column. So I switched to this current template, which grows to match the size of the monitor it's being viewed on, and allows me to put pictures that are twice the size of those the old one allowed.

I tested the format and larger pictures on resolutions as low as 1024 by 768, and found it to work, so I made the switch. I just wasn't expecting anyone to view it at a lower resolution.

Here's what you saw if you tried to read yesterday's Rodney and Jim strip at 800 by 600:



It's exactly as Susan described, with our Sunday Funnyboys only partly visible. Of course, there is the scroll bar at the bottom, that can be used to move things around so you can see the whole thing. One good thing is that the template does format text to fit the smaller screen, so posts that have words instead of just pictures will be fully readable.

Here is the same shot, at the default 1024 by 768:



The entire strip fits on the screen! This was how I tested it before going live with the new format. Finally, here is what my stats show most people see, with their monitors running at 1280 by 1024:



Everything right where it should be, no need to scroll back and forth, only up and down to see additional posts.

So to sum it up for Susan's question, you can scroll to the side to view the whole picture, or increase the resolution of your monitor.
(right click on the desktop, properties, settings, move the bar to the right)

I hope this helps, Sue!

If anyone else has any tech questions, feel free to ask! After all, it's what I do...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Funnies



In case you haven't been tortured by this particular video, here it is... feel free to avoid it!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Picture This

Ever since Cindy and I got together, we've done family pictures every other year, in the fall. We traditionally go to Yuen Lui, and spend a pretty shocking amount and remind ourselves why we only do it every two years.

We also always try to do something a bit more fun than the traditional picture studio shots. Some past favorites include the "See No Evil..." shot from four years ago...



But there really is only so much you can do within the confines of an oversized photo booth. This year was time once again to round everyone up in front of the camera, and from a financial as well as creative stance, we were kinda dreading it.

But we didn't need to dread it! We just needed to break the mold we'd put ourselves in... We have some friends here in Fircrest, Chris and Karen Frey. They started a photography business a couple years ago called Rock Dog Media. They've been doing the pictures for all the sports teams in the area, as well as handling photography for the school functions.

About a month ago, Cindy casually asked them if they had ever considered doing portrait work. Turns out, they're wanting to branch into that line, and had shot portraits for a few local families already. We were happy to sign up!

Three weeks ago, we loaded up the family and headed back out to the Chambers Bay Golf Course to take what we hoped would be the best family pictures ever...



And indeed, we now have, what we believe are the best family pictures ever! We kinda went crazy with the prints ordering... Everything you see up there is just part of the order. There are many more prints buried underneath the ones on top, and there's a gigantic poster sized 30 x 20 rolled up in a tube out of view.

Despite getting a much greater amount of prints than we ever have before, and despite doing an on-location shoot where we got to actually enjoy the process, we paid about half of what we paid two years ago at the big YL.

In keeping with our spirit of honoring the local businesses, we highly encourage any local readers to consider Rock Dog Media for their next photographic needs! No, that's not a commercial... They didn't discount our order so I'd say that. Just as we pimped the heck out of Mad Jack's (sniff, sigh) we always love to help promote the locals who decide to make a difference!

We're The Brinkerhoffs, and we are proud to endorse this message!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Funny - WAKE UP!!

I'm very blessed to be able to wake up (most) mornings without much of a struggle. Any other way, and the 4:30am Racketball games would be few and far between!

But what about the poor people who just can't seem to get motivated to open their eyes to a new day when their alarm goes off? Have a look at the solution!



Those hard-to-wake people can now wake to the terrifying sounds of a military helicopter, which apparently sounds like "Bararara..." But that's only half the fun - watch the clip below to see what's involved to shut the alarm off...



If waking to the morning financial report doesn't make you sit up and scream, this just might do the trick! Seriously, I can only imagine waking from a pleasant dream to not only that sound, but to the propeller landing on your face! I envision it being smacked across the room, which starts the hunt to find it again so you can silence the infernal caterwauling that's devouring your early morning sanity. Hmmm... Perfect Gift idea??

Only $35, but unfortunately also Only in Japan.

I Saved Three Lives Yesterday - What Did You Do?

Yesterday Cindy and I took time out of our frantic, busy lives to donate blood. Unfortunately, the dirty, rotten Puddle Jumpers have passed on some sort of bug to her, resulting in a fever that kept her from donating, but she'll be back in a week or so!

I've managed to dodge the little germ-bombs so far, so the good folks at Cascade Regional Blood Services was more than happy to relieve me of a pint of my finest blood.

There was a time that I thought I'd never give blood. I thought the very notion of it was far too terrifying, so no way was somebody sticking a needle in me!

Shortly after I graduated High School, my sister Janice (you may know her as Janice Head) began working as a phlebotomist (fancy word for person who delights in sticking needles in the arms of the innocent) at the Bellevue office of the Puget Sound Blood Center. For months she nagged, prodded, and occasionally attempted to encourage me to donate blood. I was steadfast and immovable against the idea!

Then a perfect storm of events cropped up that changed my thinking. I was working in the warehouse/office of Silver Platters, and the whole office decided to take a field trip to go give blood. It just so happened that the day all my co-workers chose to bleed for humanity, was also Janice's last day on the job there.

That made her prodding and nagging far more effective, plus she had the peer pressure factor on her side.

The day and time came, we headed over to the blood center, and Janice was, I think, more than a little shocked to see that I had actually shown up. Since it was her last day, and I was her little brother, everyone there made sure that I wound up being poked by her. The whole time she worked there, she would look at my arms and say "Oh, you have GREAT veins!" and things like that. I am VERY glad to have "great veins" because it turns out that makes the whole process MUCH more enjoyable. That was a good thing, because while I was cool on the outside, on the inside I was a complete scaredy cat!

Janice did a great job, and I had to admit that I suffered little, if any pain. From that point on, I have tried to give blood regularly. I'm not as good about it as I should be, but I definitely give several times a year, and it feels great to help out the community.

Each donation can help up to three recipients. That's a HUGE return on the investment of a little discomfort!!

Plus, you get to choose obnoxiously bright arm-bandages to ensure you don't keep bleeding when the draw is complete. Last night, I chose bright green with smiley faces!



I always try to choose the bright, loud colors, because I am truly proud to take part in such an important, and EASY process that does so much good in society. People often ask what happened when they see the bandage, and I tell them that I gave blood and they should too.

I don't know how many people I've actually convinced to do it, but my hope is that I've at least helped the cause for more donors at least a little...

So, help me help the cause! Find the Donation Location near you and give! You'll be glad you did!!

(plus, you can post pictures of yourself with a fluorescent bandage on - that's gotta be worth SOMETHING!)

Oh yeah, after I gave blood, Janice tried pulling a prank on me... She called me up and said that my blood type was (something) and that since Mom was (something else) and Dad was (still another something) that there was NO WAY they could be my parents... and that I was adopted. Unfortunately for her little trick, there were two things that kept it from being effective: (1) I had joked for many years that I was adopted, so it really wasn't that big of a stretch, or a blow to me, and (2) I was just too dumb about the ways of blood types to even get what she was saying!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An Outing to Point Definace

Yesterday the girls both had early release days from school. Kaylee wanted to do something, and I didn't want to spend any money... what to do?

......one of the nice things about living in Western Washington is that we really have it all! Beautiful Mount Rainier, The Cascades, Puget Sound, The Arts, Fine Dining and lots of Marinas. One of the nice things about living in Fircrest is that once again we get to have it all. The safeness of a small town, relationships with neighbors and with just a small drive down the street, we can be in the city or on the coast!

OK - Back to yesterday... I decided that it would be really cool to take a walk along the Marina at Point Defiance Park. I am not sure why I don't go there more often - it is absolutely stunning! First we toured the Rose gardens. There are still quite a few roses and they smelled heavenly, and the Dalia's are also in bloom, and wow are they beautiful! Ellysa was trying to remember the names of all the ones she liked the best, so we could plant them in our yard.



Next up was the Asian Gardens... Unfortunately by the time we walked through them, all the dahlia names had been long forgotten. Abigail loved the pond at the Asian garden. She was so funny noticing her reflection for the first time, and swiping at herself with her paw. She did try to take a dip but it was just a little too cold.





So we headed down to the Marina, and WOW! On one side of the promenade the trees are all changing colors. There was everything from Green, Yellow and Orange to the Red of fire! The water was really calm and we could see fish jumping. There was a single boat on the water as we looked out to Vashon Island, and they appeared to be having dinner and relaxing on the peaceful sound. As we walked along, we noticed that people had submitted poems which had been stamped into the concrete. Kaylee and I took turns reading them out loud and pondering the meanings. Here is an example of one:

Pebble Beach, Water blue,

Sea, Aquarium and Zoo,

Life, flowers, Forest Dark

Parts of Point Defiance Park

It was such a nice afternoon, and I felt blessed to live in such a beautiful place that I can share with my daughters and puppy. If you are ever out this way, make sure to plan a day at Point Defiance Park! Not only is it beautiful, but it is free! And if you want, the Zoo and Aquarium are just a stone's throw away too!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Puttin' the Beginner in Beginner Band

On the other end of the spectrum from Pep Band, we also have two kids in Beginner Band! Kaylee and Tyler are starting up on Alto Sax and Clarinet, respectively. It's fun to have the sounds of musical learning filling the house again, though like most things the impact isn't nearly as great the second time around. The first day that Andy and Ellysa decided to practice together, the resulting sound had Cindy and I gasping for air we were laughing so hard!



Kaylee and Tyler seem to be jumping right in to actually making music, rather than just making their parents laugh. The other night they were practicing together, which consisted of about 33% of the time playing music, and 67% of the time cracking each other up.

That's a sound I definitely love having around the house!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Autumn Yard Update

We've had a lot of yard work going on throughout 2008. I started the project off by bringing some work home in April. Then in July, Cindy paid the kids $1 per bucket of weeds they pulled from our side yard, which had come to be known as "The Jungle." At the end of that project, the former Jungle looked like this.



Well, between then and now, I got that big pile of topsoil spread around, and put down grass seed, which sprouted and took off faster than I thought possible! This morning, here is the same section of our yard.



To help it even more, and to help the backyard recover from a summer of a baker's dozen Puddle Jumpers running, playing and jumping on it, we just had a load of Tagro (an organic fertilizer made by the City of Tacoma) delivered.



It's GREAT stuff, and incredibly affordable, but it definitely comes with a price of its own. The price of smell. Last year after spreading it on the front yard, my uncle Richard found great delight in telling us that our lawn "smells like crap". Hey Rich, it's time for you guys to come down again! ;)

Cindy spent the day while I was slaving at my desk, slaving over a wheelbarrow, spreading around little piles of Tagro, then spreading the little piles around to cover the yard.



It worked so well in the front last year, we got even more this time around, so we can cover the front, the back, and the baby-grass on the side yard.

As I recall, the smell kinda fades away after a couple weeks... I sure hope that's not just wishful thinking!!

Puttin' the Pep in Pep Band

My high school experience was enormously enriched by being in band. And, if you were in band, you were also in marching band. And just for good measure, you were also in pep band. Pep band provided some of the best times of high school... playing at basketball games, football games, assemblies... Always a ton of fun!

To help deliver the fact that our program was to be taken seriously, we had fairly strict uniform requirements. For basketball games and assemblies, the uniform consisted of an official Interlake High School Pep Band T-Shirt and jeans. That wasn't tough to follow! For football and marching in parades, however, we kicked it up several notches, and put on matching, traditional Marching Band uniforms, complete with Q-Tip hats and white leather Spats over our shoes. During football season, we would learn fairly elaborate marching patterns and formations for the halftime show, which was both fun and stressful, but ultimately rewarding.

It's easy to look back now, and feel good that we were so professional in our appearance and performances. But there were many times when I was actually in it, that I wished we could just have fun.

Well, now Ellysa's in band at her school, which like mine, includes being in Pep Band. And being in Pep Band includes playing at the home football games. Unlike my band, her school doesn't have matching fancy uniforms... They take a different route, emphasising the PEP portion of Pep Band. Each home game, the Pep Band has a theme, which becomes their uniform. So far this season, we've had Toga Night, Tropical, and most recently, "DECADES."

For her decade, Ellysa chose to be a scary an '80s Rocker Chick. Since Cindy had had some personal experience with that particular style of dress, she was eager to help out.

Luckily, the effect was somewhat diminished when she was holding and/or playing a flute, but man... Cindy proved without a doubt that if you ever need to look like a parent's worst nightmare, she's your go-to design girl!

This coming Friday, the theme is "SuperHeroes" and I don't think "Scary Rocker Chick" is a well known SuperHero, so Ellysa will have to come up with a new idea.

I should also mention that with the help of the Decades-themed Pep Band, the football team destroyed their cross-conference rivals and even made the front page of the local paper!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ooooooh, Barracuda!

This past Saturday was a perfect example of a nice October day, with blue skies, relatively warm weather, and of course, a home game for Kaylee's soccer team, The Barracudas!



A couple years ago, Kaylee was named "Best Ball-Handling" at the end of season award ceremony. She showed that she still has the mad skillz at this game!



She also showed some of the fearless aggression that we love to see!!



And finally, looking somewhat similar to leading the Bunny Hop at her school dance last week, here she's leading a pack of purple opponents to the ball!



Great Game, Kaylee!!

P.S. In case you didn't notice up above, Kaylee picked today's Song of the Day, specifically for her Aunt Susan!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

CC Update

Before I say anything else, I need to thank all of our friends and family who so quickly added my boss, CC Edwards to their prayers after his sudden cardiac arrest Friday. It was humbling to Cindy and I to witness so many people willing to dedicate a few seconds to praying for someone they've never met... Thank you to all of you!

Now for the great news!

Scans of his brain show no damage at all!

A check of his heart also shows no damage!

Saturday afternoon he returned to consciousness, but they thought they'd keep him in the ICU for 2-3 days. Sunday morning he not only moved out of the ICU, but transferred to a different hospital for better access to quality followup care.

CC is conscious, eating, talking... We hope to be able to visit him tomorrow some time.

Thanks again to all who added their prayers to ours - there were several "amazing coincidences" that helped him out over the past few days. For us, it was great to witness the power of prayer!

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Don't Know Art, But I Know What I Like

Finally, an art sculpture I'd be proud to have in my drawing room! (ya know, like if I HAD a drawing room...)

Part of an exhibition at New York's Museum of Arts and Design called "Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary," is this one, called "Sound Wave" made out of records in various states of warpage.

Having melted more than my fair share of records in my lifetime, it does my heart good to see something beautiful come from their ability to dramatically change shape when subjected to heat.

It'll probably never happen, but I hope this exhibit comes to my local art museum!

Friday, October 10, 2008

UPDATED: Please Take A Moment to Pray

CC, Kristina & The Boys Most of you know that I work for C.C. Edwards Construction Company. It's not a faceless corporation, it is a company that exists because of the unbelievable determination of a man named C.C. Edwards.

C.C. is an incredible visionary, and once he has his vision, he will only accept "no" as an answer after every conceivable, and several inconceivable options have been exhausted. Thoroughly exhausted, in fact. This tenacity has served him very well in life, and I have been so privileged to work with him for the past two years.

Last Friday C.C. took the office out to lunch to celebrate 12 years in business. While there, he told us that his fiancé is pregnant with what they're hoping will be their first girl. (their three boys are pictured above)

Yesterday we had a birthday in the office, and C.C. enjoyed a cupcake along with everyone else. He has hand-picked his staff, and tells us often that he loves the people he works with. It shows. You may remember the Mariners game he treated the whole company to last Spring.

Last night C.C.'s heart stopped beating. He was fortunate to have a friend perform CPR while his fiancé Kristina called 911. When the paramedics arrived, they shocked his chest and rushed him off to the hospital where he still is now. Our office, and I'm sure, the whole company, is in shock. We're praying harder than we would have thought possible, for a quick and complete recovery.

Cindy and I are asking all of you to join us in this prayer. Pray for C.C. Pray for Kristina, who has to be simply terrified with the situation. Pray for their boys.

Please, take a moment to pray.

UPDATE:
We now know that what happened to CC's heart was SCA, or Sudden Cardiac Arrest. This is one of the scariest conditions I've ever read about. 95% of people who get it, die within minutes. CC has already beaten those odds, we need to keep praying that he'll continue down that path.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Harvest Festivus Maximus

Tonight was the "Harvest Festival" at Kaylee's new school!

I've been DJing the "Harvest Hop" at our Elementary School for several years, and have even been locked in for this year's, despite the fact that we don't have any kids there anymore... But I didn't know if I'd have a chance to get in to the Intermediate School this year, since we were brand new there. Luckily, as with most things in life, it's not what you know, but who you know!

About two weeks ago, Cindy got an email from a friend of ours, the dad to one of Kaylee's friends. Turns out he and his wife are on the PTA at the new school, and they were having a rough time finding a DJ for their Harvest Festival that would fit in their budget. I certainly price my services with the going market rates, but I've always done these family Halloween parties for a deep discount, basically offering my services for whatever they're able to pay.

I AM SO GLAD I DID!!

The kids had a BLAST, and I had a blast playing for them! It was a great group of 5th, 6th and 7th graders... Kids who were confident enough in themselves to really let loose and be silly on the dancefloor! Kaylee, of course, was in heaven, leading the pack whenever possible, and to great effect. At the old school, I always got a great reaction from the kids by playing SpongeBob's "Ripped Pants" song, as well as the "HampsterDance" and other modern kids classics. I was concerned that these kids, being (on average) older, would think of themselves as too mature, too cool to allow themselves to be crazy to those songs. BIG MISCONCEPTION!

When a kid requested the HampsterDance, I put it on, with something safe (aka Jonas Brothers) queued up and ready, just in case it bombed. Nope, best song of the night so far! AWESOME! These kids wanna have fun!

I still wasn't planning on taking the SpongeBob chance, but then one of the girls who had been dancing all night came up and asked if I had anything from SpongeBob... Now, it was vitally important to me that she had been dancing all night. It doesn't matter whether it's a kids Halloween party, a Church Youth Dance or a Wedding Reception, there are people who will come up and make requests just to listen to them by themselves. Giving in to these requests usually empties the floor, but that doesn't stop them from asking for more similar songs. Since this girl had been very busy on the floor all night, I loaded up Mr. Sponge (or is that Mr. Bob?) and let it fly. When the opening line rang out across the room, there were whoops and hollers as the kids swept in from around the room to sing along and imitate the Ripped Pants dance! Awesome Fun!!

A couple songs later, the same girl asked if I had Dora the Explorer. I didn't, but I saw the pattern, and realized - shocked - that these kids are comfortable enough with their ages and maturity levels to listen to the crazy stuff they were huge on in Kindergarten, just for the pure fun of it! So I pulled out a song that hasn't been played since Kaylee was in, probably, first grade.

I stopped the music to make an announcement (last call at the photo booth) and then asked the kids to think back to Kindergarten. I then warned them that I was going to play the SCARIEST song I possibly could... They were giddy with excitement! Then, as I hit Play, I told them that I needed them to sing along nice 'n' loud when I say... "CAN WE FIX IT?"

Every kid in the room (and a few parents, too!) screamed out "YES WE CAN!"



And for the rest of the song, they were chanting and screaming along with Bob, Wendy, Scoop, Muck & Dizzy! Then a kid in a big white bunny costume asked for the Bunny Hop. If you've never been a DJ, I'll give you a little tip: YOU DON'T PASS UP AN OPPORTUNITY LIKE THAT!!

Kaylee jumped up and started the Bunny Hop line, which soon included nearly all of the kids!



After the Bunny Hop, we kept the livestock theme rolling with the Chicken Dance, and then it was time to wrap it up. I always - ALWAYS - end with Lawrence Welk's goodnight song, "Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Weidersein" and everyone always loves dancing around the room for a few final seconds as the cleaning crew starts their task.

Now the van is unloaded, the equipment is safely locked away, and Kaylee's in bed ready to get up with me at 4:45 Friday morning to play racketball! (a new Friday tradition!) So I gotta hit the PUBLISH button and get to sleep myself!

Chipmunk Rock!

Back in high school, I was pretty big into New Wave music. My source of all things Wave-y was KJET, a low power station all the way at the right edge of the AM dial. It took some getting used to, listening to music on AM, but the KJET guys helped out by mocking themselves, often describing themselves as "coming through the two-inch speaker."

One day while driving home from school, they played a new song from The Alarm, called "Absolute Reality." I LOVED IT! I checked my local record store, and was bummed to discover that the group didn't have a new album out, so I couldn't get that song. I called the station - oh, for the days when you could actually call the station and get useful information - and they said it was an import, and that Easy Street Records in Bellevue had it. Well, as luck would have it, I lived in Bellevue at the time, and Easy Street was even close to my house!

The next day after school I took a detour to Easy Street Records and picked up my hot new import 12" single by The Alarm. I got home... Took the record out of the cover... Carefully put it on the turntable... Gently dropped the needle in the groove...

...and almost immediately got the sense that something was wrong! It was the right song, but it just didn't sound right! Somehow, it sounded better coming through the two-inch speaker on KJET than it did coming through my awesome stereo system.

The next year I was in the Radio Broadcasting program at Bellevue High, and learned that most broadcast equipment had a switch on the back to increase the speed by 2%. Psychologically, it wasn't enough to really notice that it was faster, but it did hit your ears as fresher and more energetic. I immediately thought back to my Alarm experience. Since I didn't have a variable speed turntable, I did a little hackery to get the desired result. Soon enough, I had that song on a tape in my car, sounding just like it had on KJET, only with the clarity of NOT being on AM Radio.

For the next several years, nearly everything I recorded for myself and others was slightly sped up, to utilize the same benefits that the radio stations used.

Okay, now don't groan, but I told you all that because of (say it with me now) The Radio At Work! In this digital age, it seems that the practice of stations speeding up the music has died off... But a couple days ago, I noticed that songs on JACK had that little 2%-ish boost. I kinda chuckled to myself and remembered my experience back in high school.

Now, ever since JACK started up in Seattle, they've done promos for themselves where they take snippets from a bunch of different songs and force them to match a constant backbeat. Kinda like Stars on 45, for those of us old enough to remember that... (note to self: Stars on 45 for Song of the Day??) Those promos often resulted in songs sounding comically fast, but still recognizable.

This morning, EVERYTHING is being played that fast. The 2% switch is, I would guess, at least 5%, quite possibly even 7 or 8 percent. The intro to "Hurts So Good" sounded like "That Thing You Do!" Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" sounded like a comic parody of itself.

I doubt they intended for it to be so ridiculously sped up, and since it's a completely automated drone station, as long as there's sound going over the air, the Engineers-R-Us guys don't have a reason to actually listen and notice that the Chipmunks are taking over. So it may not last... But if you're in the Seattle area today, turn on 96.5 FM and enjoy the high energy classic hits! If you're out of town, you can listen live at jackseattle.com - just click on the Listen Live button right below the logo. Just be warned - they've got issues today! When I clicked on it to test it just now, it started playing "Alice FM 97.3" from some other market. I closed that and re-tried and it brought up SpeedyJack.

If this new SpeedyJack format is intentional, it's the biggest judgement failure in Seattle radio since "Young Country" had all their DJs talking through an echo box. Hey wait, that was also on 96.5... Could the frequency be cursed??

UPDATE: SpeedyJack is back to Just Jack. Apparently they read my blog too!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sometimes, Maybe It IS Your Fault

Ahh, the radio at work. Next to my sister Susan, it's one of my most consistent sources for blogging inspiration! No need to worry, we're still tuned in to JACK, so I'm not suffering through the world's smallest and most annoying playlist (aka star 101.5) anymore. But while Jack's playlist is immense and mostly good, they still sell airtime to any fool with an open wallet... And lately, there are more and more commercials that use the same phrase... It's started to sound like that old classic, Fingernails on the Blackboard.

The phrase is "It's Not Your Fault!"

It's EVERYWHERE!

If you've tried to lose weight but are still fat, don't worry - IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!

You want a fancy new laptop? All your friends have them but you can't afford one? IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!

Are you mired in credit card debt? Well, IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!

The thing that's really getting rough is that all three of those commercials play on nearly every commercial break, all day long. As I listen to the soothing, understanding voices explain why THEY can make everything better - and transform you into a skinny, out of debt, laptop owner, I can't help but ponder our nation's - and the world's - financial situation.

How did we get here? A large part of it started with people who didn't have enough income to afford a house, and couldn't save up a down payment because, well, it IS hard to save up a bunch of money. But through the miracle of "IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!", they were handed out home loans they couldn't afford. SOME of the loan recipients probably COULD have afforded their loans, IF they curbed ALL frivolous spending. An even smaller portion of those people probably even tried to, cutting out the daily trip to Starbucks, maybe switching to generic cigarettes... But without a ton of discipline, those habits creep right back into the daily routine and suddenly the end of the month comes and there's no money for the house payment.

Cindy and I were in a situation a few years ago where a mortgage broker was trying his hardest to get us into a "New Kind Of Home Loan" from Washington Mutual. After a few meetings, we both felt that the whole program not only felt irresponsible, but it crossed the line and was downright sleazy.

Needless to say, we were very relieved to NOT be impacted by WaMu's meltdown a couple weeks ago.

So here's the deal: Maybe, JUST MAYBE... Situations you find yourself in ARE, at least a little, YOUR OWN FAULT! If you have tried losing weight and failed, TRY AGAIN, AND TRY HARDER! Man... I've lost nearly 50 pounds in the past 18 months or so. I still have another 20-30 to go before I reach my final goal. By the original timeline I'd worked out, I should have reached that already. But the fact of the matter is, IT'S HARD! And it's nobody's fault but my own, that I haven't gotten there yet. The difference is, I realize, and accept this. Rather than call some toll free number from an ad promising that IT'S NOT MY FAULT, I was up at 4:30 this morning playing racketball. I'm ignoring the movie theater butter popcorn in the breakroom. I'm making small changes in my lifestyle that will compound over time to get me where I want to be.

The general state of society today is one of no responsibility. Not for their kids, not for themselves, not for their jobs, their commitments... It's all about what they can get the easy way. That laptop you can get just by calling this toll free number is going to cost you about three times what you'd spend by saving up for a couple months and hitting Office Depot on the Monday after their latest ad hits.

Here's another nugget o' wisdom: JUST BECAUSE THEY OFFER YOU A LOAN, OR A CREDIT CARD, DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD TAKE IT! While the "predatory lenders" love to fill my mailbox with "pre-approved" credit card offers, they can't stop me from taking those offers over to the shredder and making some confetti.

I really hope that the financial shakedown going on will result in a wake-up call to the basic responsibilities of life. Because unless you're talking about natural disasters or freak accidents, most of the stuff people are all hysterical about is very much SOMEBODY'S fault.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Music Monday - Introducing the Song of the Day!

Wow, I haven't gotten a Music Monday post out for over a month... I WISH I could say this marked a return to the weekly entries, but I don't think I could back that up right now. But there IS a good reason for this one today...

Right above this post is a new feature on Ye Olde Family Blogge, and it is a Song of the Day player!

Now, obviously I love music. There's really no disputing that... But I've resisted the urge to put a music player on this blog for a number of reasons, the top two being:
  1. Quite often when I'm cruisin' the blogosphere, I already have music playing, either on the computer, or in the room. Loading up a page and suddenly being bombarded with competing music sets off a frenzied hunt to find the stop button.
  2. That stop button is often buried deep in a sidebar, which places it somewhere in the middle of the top-to-bottom page, which makes the hunt take much longer than you'd think it should.

So a while ago, I began looking for a way to do "My Music, My Way" here on the blog. I love sharing my music with the world (which is why I DJ!) but I didn't want to annoy anyone who didn't want to hear what I had to offer. I also like to give a little info about the song beyond the artist and title.

So, after several trial-and-error tests to get my code working, I am finally happy with the end result! The Song of the Day will change each day automatically, so if you're interested in discovering new music, or just hearing the randomness of my picks, be sure to stop by every day at some point!

Finally, a little pre-emptive tech-support. You will need to manually click Play to hear the song. During testing, I had it set to auto-play, but the clicking around I was doing in testing the player, I just about drove myself crazy because it would restart every time the page loaded. So until I come up with a scheme to make it auto-play ONCE then sit nicely on all future page loads, it's all manual, hence the name:

Song of the Day - Just Click Play

Oh, and just in case there's something you wanna hear here, just drop a request in the comments!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Please Make A Note Of It!

Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs is MOVING!

Thankfully, with the virtual-ness of the Internet, it's a rather painless process... But for those of you who use the very convenient mikeymix.com address to get here, you'll need to update your bookmarks to the new and improved address...

which is...

www.thebrinkerhoffs.com!

Why? Why are we pulling a change like this?

I am VERY glad you asked!

You may recall me mentioning last week that we were DJ'ing a wedding reception... This is something I've been doing on and off since I was a teenager. Over the past few years we've really let the business just kind of hang in limbo, doing the occasional job on word-of-mouth, repeat business, but haven't lifted a finger to drum up additional jobs.

Well, we had SO much fun last weekend, that we decided it's time to ramp back up to active DJ status. And since the DJ Business has always been known as "MikeyMix Industries", the mikeymix.com domain is going to be home to that biz's online presence. The family blog will be much more at home at thebrinkerhoffs.com anyway.

So, those of you following us on google reader, facebook, email updates, or just going directly to the brinkerhoffs.blogspot.com address, no change for you. But we like having our easy to remember domain for newcomers, and effective immediately, that easy to remember domain is www.thebrinkerhoffs.com.

Thanks for keeping up with the Brinkerhoffs, and if anybody needs a DJ, we know a guy... :)

Sunday Funnies

(click image for full size view)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

New Portable Hotness!

Nintendo had their Fall Press Conference last night (well, it was 1:30 in the afternoon in Japan...) and unveiled a highly anticipated and often-rumoured update to their hugely successful DS!

I got my DS Lite for Father's Day a couple years ago, and have loved it! It still gets used several times per week... But this update looks extra-tasty! The screen is a bit bigger, the overall unit is a bit slimmer, there's a camera (actually two cameras), a web browser (as opposed to the add-on browser to the current DS), a music player with SD slot, and the battery charges faster than the current model.

It hits Japan in November... There's no U.S. release date yet, but I'm hoping it makes it here around the same time!

update: it's not due in the U.S. until "well into calendar year 2009" because the current DS Lite is still selling so well. Oh well, my current DS Lite is still thoroughly meeting my portable gaming needs, I just like shiny new things!