Dec 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne :o)

Happy New Year To All :o)

A selection of versions, pick the one that appeals to you. You can then play this as the new year rings in if you so desire.

Catch You On The Turn :o)

Auld Lang Syne

The song, "Auld Lang Syne," is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English- speaking country in the world to bring in the New Year. In spite of the popularity of 'Auld Lang Syne', it has aptly been described as the song that nobody knows. Even in Scotland, hardly a gathering sings it correctly, without some members of the party butchering the words.

Written by Robert Burns in 1741, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."

Versions Below:

Traditional (my favorite)

Bagpipes from (Darrin, whoever that is)

Head Banger Version :o)

The SAW, watch if you dare!

Lyrics: Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine,

we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne

We two hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne

And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Dec 30, 2008

New Years History :o)

Ancient New Years

The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar.

Late March actually is a logical choice for the beginning of a new year. It is the time of year that spring begins and new crops are planted. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.

The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.

The Romans continued to observe the New Year on March 25, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun. In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year.

But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the New Year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.

The History of New Year's Resolutions (See Yesterday's Post about Resolutions)

The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new. The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.

In the Middle Ages, Christians changed New Year's Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it to March 25, a holiday called the Annunciation. In the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, and the celebration of the New Year was returned to January 1.

The Julian and Gregorian calendars are solar calendars. Some cultures have lunar calendars, however. A year in a lunar calendar is less than 365 days because the months are based on the phases of the moon. The Chinese use a lunar calendar. Their new year begins at the time of the first full moon (over the Far East) after the sun enters Aquarius- sometime between January 19 and February 21.

Although the date for New Year's Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year.

Tomorrow: Auld Lang Syne

Dec 29, 2008

New Years Resolutions :o)

The clock is ticking, and the New Year is just around the corner. I have never been a big believer in resolutions, but I do want to continue with my fitness and weight loss program, and to also continue to improve on our financial situation in these lean times. How about you, do you have a resolution or two?

New Year's Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It's a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes.

Below is a listing of the most popular resolutions, did your New Year resolutions make the list?

Lose Weight
Manage Dept
Save Money
Get a Better Job
Get Fit
Eat Right/Better
Get a Better Education (Learn Something New)
Drink Less Alcohol
Quit Smoking
Reduce Stress Overall (Enjoy Life More)
Reduce Stress at Work
Take a Trip
Volunteer to Help Others
Get Organized
Spend more Time with Family & Friends

Recent research shows that while 52% of participants in a Resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, a system where small measurable goals are used (lose a pound a week, instead of saying "lose weight"), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

There is a right way and a wrong way to make a New Year's resolution. Here are a few tips to see that your resolution actually makes a difference:

1. Create a Plan

Setting a goal without formulating a plan is merely wishful thinking. In order for your resolution to have resolve, (as the word "resolution" implies), it must translate into clear steps that can be put into action. A good plan will tell you A) What to do next and B) What are all of the steps required to complete the goal.

2. Create Your Plan IMMEDIATELY

If you're like most people, then you'll have a limited window of opportunity during the first few days of January to harness your motivation. After that, most people forget their resolutions completely.It is imperative that you begin creating your plan immediately.

3. Write Down Your Resolution and Plan exists to help you formulate a plan, which we then help you stick to. But even if you don't use, commit your resolution and plan to writing someplace, such as a notebook or journal.

4. Think "Year Round," Not Just New Year's

Nothing big gets accomplished in one day. Resolutions are set in one day, but accomplished with a hundred tiny steps that happen throughout the year. New Year's resolutions should be nothing more than a starting point. You must develop a ritual or habit for revisiting your plan. helps you stick to your plan by providing email reminders that arrive when it's time to work on a given task.

5. Remain Flexible

Expect that your plan can and will change. Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected things at us, and flexibility is required to complete anything but the simplest goal. Sometimes the goal itself will even change. Most of all, recognize partial successes at every step along the way. Just as a resolution isn't accomplished the day it's stated, neither is it accomplished the day you reach your goal. Rather, it's accomplished in many small increments along the way. Acknowledge these incremental successes as they come.

Hope you can make some reasonable and achievable resolutions and stick to them in the new year. Tomorrow: The History of Resolutions and New Years :o)

Dec 28, 2008

Dec 27, 2008

I loves me Deer :o)

While there is no surprise to any that I love my wifey with all my heart, this post is not about her. While we were sitting and puttering, we saw a band of at least five deer at the back pond. Right now the temperature is 59 degrees, so I am sure it was even warmer earlier. As you can see from the pictures, the six inches or so of snow has melted and the back pond is very full. We are expecting freezing temperatures again tonight, so the roads will be a skating rink tomorrow. Below are the pictures of our little deers (extra 's' intentional :o)

The Twelve Days of Christmas, What does it Mean?

Head on over to Rantings of a Simple Woman and pay Sharlene a visit and let her know you appreciate the details of one of the best known Christmas Carols (her post is repeated below).

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? This week, I found out.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas pass it on if you wish.

So I would add, if you decide to pass it on, please make sure you credit Sharlene at Rantings of a Simple Woman.

Dec 26, 2008

Post Holiday Regime :o)

With the major food holidays now behind us, and a New Year lurking just around the corner, do you have a workout regime in mind?

I know that I have often wondered what the advantage or disadvantages of "Fat Burn" vs. Cardio type workout routines are. So I did a little research and below are the results. I know that most of the time I will be headed to the cardio arena since that burns more calories.

Busting the Great Myths of Fat Burning

Your body burns either fat or carbs depending on the intensity of your activity. But when it comes to losing weight, calories are calories. You burn fat even when you're in couch-potato mode. Yet, a lot of misunderstanding prevails. Get ready to break down some of the myths people have about burning fat:

Myth: The body completely shuts off one fuel source when it turns on the other.

The Truth: What has often been misunderstood by both exercisers and exercise instructors alike is that the body relies on both fat and carbs for energy all the time, albeit in different ratios. In fact, as you sit here reading, you may be burning about 50-60 percent fat and 50-40 percent carbohydrates. You're not using much of either, however, because the amount of calories you need probably amounts to about one or two calories a minute.

If you were to get up and start jogging in place, your body would need to supply you with some quick energy to do so, so the metabolism ratio might shift to drawing upon more carbohydrates, say 70 percent, and less fat, say 30 percent. If you were to continue jogging, then, in order to preserve the carbs (which can run out since you have limited stores in the body), your body would gradually shift its metabolism ratio again to say, 60 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrates.

From an energy efficiency point of view, it pays to be fit. However, in practical terms this is purely technotalk, and these ratios don't make a big difference when it comes to losing weight and decreasing your body fat. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than your body consumes and uses everyday. Exercise is one main way to burn a lot of calories. But when it comes to weight loss, what matters is how many calories you burn, not so much whether they are fat or carbohydrate calories.

If you do work at a low intensity, you need to increase the time spent exercising to burn more calories. What matters most is the total number of calories burned. If you burned 250 calories every day from a short, fast jog, you'd see a bigger difference in weight and fat loss than if you walked everyday for the same amount of time.

The number of fat calories you burn isn't that important, because even if you burn a lot of carb calories, these need to be replaced both by the carbs you eat in your diet and also within your body. Your fat stores will be broken down and transformed into carbohydrates when you need fuel. Even if you're burning lots of carb calories and less fat calories through exercise, your fat still inevitably gets used.

Watching TV for 20 minutes - 40 total calories, 60 percent fat, 24 fat calories

Walking for 20 minutes - 100 total calories, 65 percent fat, 65 fat calories

Jogging/sprinting for 20 minutes - 250 total calories, 40 percent fat, 100 fat calories

Who knew that watching TV burns more fat percentage than jogging LOL :o)

The fat burning zone is ‘Low Intensity Cardio’ where your heart rate is between 60 – 70% of your maximum heart rate. This heart rate range is reached by standing up, walking fast or jogging.

The cardio training zone is ‘High Intensity Cardio’ and your heart rate is between 70 – 85% of your maximum heart rate.

Maximum heart rate can be estimated by the following formula:(220 – Age) = Maximum Heart RateExample: (220-28) = 192b.p.m. (beats per minute) is the maximum heart rate.

The bottom line: For individuals new to exercise it is recommended to start in this low intensity zone (60 – 70% of maximum heart rate). There will be some benefit in the first 2-3 weeks, initially they can experience even some weight loss. But after this initial stage gradually we need to increase the intensity of our routine. Remember, this increase corresponds to a 70 – 85% of Maximum Hart Rate. You can even make it a family affair :o)

Rehab Time :o)

Get your mind out of my drunken gutter :o)

Actually, Rehab is the name of a band and I got their latest CD today as a gift from Beth. The track that both Beth and I had heard on the radio is titled "Bartender Song" and has a very catchy rythme and beat to it, and the tone and lyrics are pretty cool also. We had not talked about this song, but Beth knew that I would like it. The version on the radio is cleaned up, but you know what the "missing" words are. PARENTAL ADVISORY - EXPLICIT CONTENT. First link is to the unedited video, and the second link is to the lyrics.

Sittin' At A Bar (Remix Clean) Lyrics

Another track that I really like is the video below, which is a little milder, but still not something you should listen to with the kids. The Hook: This town is my home, it's deep in my soul, That's why I'm at home even when I'm on the road. We were listening to the CD on the way to and from Beth's side of our family, and this part of the song really made me think about how blessed I am to live were I live and to have the family here that I have. No matter where we travel, this is our town, our home, and because our our family, our soul. Peace to you on this Christmas Evening.

This Town Lyrics

Dec 25, 2008

Merry Christmas - Bad Sheeba Poetry :o)

Twas the day of Christmas, and all through the Nutty house
Not a creature was lurking, especially a mouse.
The stockings were tied to the rail with care,
Bulging with treats, evidence that Fat Boy had been there.

The humans were nestled in their bed,
While droplets of kitty drool landed on her head.
And mamma in her 'robe,' and I in Dad's lap,
I settled in for my daily winter's nap.

As I snoozed, I had a vision, in my mind what should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and two huge micedeer.
With my old man driving, dressed in a robe and looking so slick,
I knew in a moment it must be a trick.
More rapid than Dad and his Mustang they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Mickey! On Minnie!"
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
As dry leaves that remained on the tree bristled,
A red-tailed hawk a-rustled.
So up to the treetop they flew,
Unaware that a meal they were about to be, those two.

And then, in a heartbeat, I saw a bright light
Dad in his robe snapping a picture was quite a sight.
As I lowered my head, and was hunkering down,
Off the tree the hawk flew in a flash of brown.

Dad's eyes they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His nose like a bright red cherry!
His robe was tied in a bow,
And the flash of his legs was as white as the snow.
He had a flushed face and a little round belly,
That shakes whenever he laughs, like a bowlful of jelly!
My Dad is a bit chubby and tall, not even close to an elf,
I always laugh when I see him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and snide comment he does make,
Soon gave me to know he was no flake.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his micedeer he gave a whistle,
And at that moment I awoke due to what felt like a thistle.
I heard him exclaim, 'my bad poem here is done,'
"Merry Christmas to everyone!"

Dec 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve - Day :o)

Christmas Eve Day has arrived,

No one is stirring, not even my bride.

May your day be grand and full of fun, but my head is headed down like a sled,

I must demure and head off to bed.

In a few short hours I shall awake,

And Holiday Joy I will partake.

Merry Christmas Eve Day to all,

Here is hoping you have a ball :o)

Dec 23, 2008

Intenet Explorer Hacker Warning

OK, I am going to keep this pretty much unedited, so if the spelling and lack of links bother you, I apologize in advance. Copy the info into the browser and go. I am fading fast, and the bed awaits for a solid 6 hour snooze before I turn around and do it again :o)

Microsoft releases emergency patch for Internet Explorer

A serious security flaw in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer allows hackers to install malicious software on Windows computers. While AEP Information Technology has
patched this flaw in company computers, you should take steps to protect your home computer.

To protect your personal computer, Windows users should install the
latest update from Microsoft. In addition, IT Security recommends installing and/or updating anti-virus software. If you have not purchased anti-virus software, consider using programs that are free for home use such as AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition or Avast! Home Edition.

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-078 - Critical Security Update for Internet Explorer (960714) Published: December 17, 2008 Updated: December 18, 2008

This security update resolves a publicly disclosed vulnerability. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

This security update is rated Critical for Internet Explorer 5.01, Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1, and Internet Explorer 7. For information about Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2, please see the section, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Related to This Security Update. For more information, see the subsection, Affected and Non-Affected Software, in this section.

The security update addresses the vulnerability by modifying the way Internet Explorer validates data binding parameters and handles the error resulting in the exploitable condition.

For goodness sake, please be careful where you link to :o)

Dec 22, 2008

Christmas Cheer :o)

Hope this finds you snug as a bug in a rug so to speak (it has warmed up to a balmy ten degrees here today). I am steeling myself for the drive into Southwest Michigan to go to work this evening. Only good thing about working the night shift is that I should get a parking place relatively close :o) The parka hood will be pulled tight today.

Christmas Day is just around the corner, we have trimmed the tree, checked our lists, wrapped the presents, wished the wish for a Happy Holiday and a wondrous New Year. Now it is time to enjoy the fruits of those labors by spending some quality time with friends and family, sharing some Christmas Cheer.

I am dropping off the PlayStation One and some games (originally purchased for car trips with the kids, and no longer being used) for our work Adopted Family on my way in to the plant. It is great to know that something that is not currently being used will bring joy to two young children on Christmas morning.

Dec 21, 2008

Sunday Silliness - Change :o)

When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles.

Dec 20, 2008

Do You Have One?

During this holiday season, it is important to keep a positive attitude. We all have things that could easily bring us down as we think about memories past, loved ones that cannot share the holiday with us (for a variety of reasons), or to feel a little sorry for ourselves because our best laid plans are not working out the way we had hoped.

I believe that having a positive attitude is crucial for individual happiness, and even more important in a family or work situation. Attitudes are contagious, and it is up to each and every one of us as to whether we are going to infect others with positiveness, or negativity. The easy path is to take a negative or victim approach. This denial and negative perspective, which is underneath what is observable to others, can be like an infection and spread and become gangrenous.

Below are seven simple messages that can be used to put yourself in a positive frame of mind:

Contribute to Success: Find something that you are passionate about, and get involved. This will most likely result in doing something for someone else.

Confidence: You must believe that you are a winner before you can be one.

Take Control: In life there are very few things that you have total control over. However, you do have control over your attitude. The way you approach a given situation is entirely up to you.

Visualize Success: Practice succeeding at something in your mind. This will help make you more self-assured and comfortable.

Start the Day Right: The type of attitude we have is a choice we make every day. If you don't automatically feel upbeat, look around and find something to feel good about. This can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.

Avoid Negativity: Do you say half full or half empty, partly cloudy or partly sunny? This is an indication of how you see things. Habits can be broken, so find the silver lining or ray of sunshine for goodness sake :o)

Do the Right Thing: Attack issues head-on. Learn from past experiences, and do not let things fester.

So, here is wishing you a magnificent holiday season and may each and every day be wondrous for you and yours :o)

Home Sweet Home :o)

All in all, not a bad travel day. Spend about three hours this morning benchmarking with a couple of other nuclear plant representatives, then headed to the Airport.

Both flights were pretty much on time, and I ended up getting to South Bend only 15 minutes later than originally scheduled.

The biggest delay of the trip was having to literally chip the ice off of the windshield. The driver side window was clear, but the windshield had a 1/4" thick layer of ice that I had to chip away (scrapping did not work). I could not clear the passenger window, so made sure I drove in the right hand lane :o)

The wife and cat were glad to have me home, and greeted me at the door. I am even more glad to be home.

Hope you survived the Friday weather with no real problems :o)

Dec 18, 2008

Successful Day :o)

Today was a successful day. We did our Strategic Projects and Sourcing meeting today, identifying four areas that we may be able to develop contracts that leverage the USA Alliance Fleet concept (fifteen single nuclear site utilities with 27 plants). Acting as a fleet gives us potential leverage to negotiate favorable contracts and/or rebates as members use vendor services. We finished up about 3:30 P.M., which allowed me to go to Balley's (free via the hotel) for a workout.

There are four of us that are not leaving until tomorrow, and we agreed to meet at 6:30 P.M. for dinner (my poor system, Beth and I rarely eat before 9:00 P.M., I fear my system will go into shock and shutdown - or worse yet, by 10 or 11, I will be ravenous :o). We all agreed that while in this Midwest area (Overland Park, Kansas), that we needed BEEF :o)

I was not aware that the call "New York" strips "Kansas City" strips down here, but that was the special tonight, and I had a 16 oz version that was so tender it melted in my mouth. I was good and substituted broccoli for potatoes, but I did have a salad with Blue Cheese (my favorite).

We got to talking about wine as we were deciding what to order, and I learned that the Northern CA and Central Coast wines are growing in prestige, and that a region (Paso Robles, central CA) that I had avoided is on par with French wines now. Turns out that there extreme temperatures, drip irrigation, and shale soil "stress" the vines and the grapes, which results in great flavor. So I will be looking for some new vintages to add to our cellar. Our vintage pleasure tonight was Earthquake, a Red Zinfadel from Lodi CA (north of Napa). It was a tad young, but an excellent match for the steaks.

Hope you are getting your shopping and wrapping completed, I know I have several hours of wrapping in my weekend future (assuming I can get home tomorrow through the winter storms).

Late But Safe :o)

Five and a half hours late, but safe and sound in Overland Park, Kansas. Apparently there were storms across the country today. Delays, but not bad flying.

I am very frustrated right now, the "free" wireless is so slow I cannot even open e-mails, but at least I can connect a little. Looking forward to being home late Friday night.

Nite, Nite, off to bed I go.

Bucko :o)

Dec 16, 2008

Stupid Winter :o)

This is the type of image that I drove through yesterday, cold and overcast. The original forecast was for a nice morning, and getting colder in the afternoon. Well, it was full face-on bluster yesterday walking the 1//2 mile or so into my office from the parking lot. I did not wear my winter jacket (stupid, stupid, stupid [hitting my forehead as I say this]), and I was very cold and the wind gusts actually sucked my breath away several times.

On the way out last night, the wind was at my back, so was not real bad, but my legs were definitely cold from the wind blowing through (keep it clean folks :o), and my butt almost froze to the seat when I got in my car (I sure miss the electric seats from my previous SUV's).

Tonight, I had the opportunity to experience lake effect snow and Midwest pre-winter (that's right, winter does not actually start for five days) driving "dandies". On the back roads, the top speed was 25 mph, and on the freeway, it increased to a whopping 40 mph. There is something wrong when a Mustang is passing SUV's and trucks on both stretches of road.

I am hoping that part of the stimulus package will give MI/IN drivers some "balls".

Dec 14, 2008

Sunday Silliness - Challenges :o)

I expected times like this - but I never thought they'd be so bad, so long, and so frequent.

Dec 13, 2008

Pay it Back :o)

I am a big believer in the pay-it-forward concept, and I refer you to my previous entry on

But today, it was a day to cash in on the past. Our grocery store gives gas for groceries, where you earn points for purchases of groceries on your card, and then get a discount at the pump. So Beth gave me the current card last night, knowing I had a meeting on the other side of town this morning, and I filled up for 0.939 today - $12 for a full tank :o)

Since I knew I was going to be on the dark side today - that is what I call the shopping district (people come from miles away to shop the mall and other stores), I went through our collection of gift cards from the past year or so. I took an assortment of Barnes & Noble, Borders, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Meijer cards, plus my AEP Wellness gift card.

I hit the mother lode today. Turns out we had $148 in the store specific stores, plus the AEP Wellness Visa card. So I picked up the new Batman DVD, two new release books, a few groceries, a new Skill saw, a drill bit set, and a set of fire extinguishers (PSA: if you do not have one in your house, please go get one, you can never be too safe and they cost less than $20. During this time of year, with lights and plugs and such, invest in prevention, because the correction price is too high).

So take a look in your junk drawers, or your wallet/purse, or anywhere else you store partially used gift cards, and make a travel itinerary and use up those bad boys :o)

Hope you are having a wonderful and relaxing Saturday.

Dec 12, 2008

Detroit - Star Trek Temporary Home :o)

I see a trip to Detroit in our 2009 Future. On our last trip to Las Vegas, we went to the Hilton and had the Star Trek Experience (we are geeks, we fully admit it). We were so bummed that the Experience closed in September '08, so we will not be able to live it again in January with our great friends Kim and Steve.

However, there is a silver lining, we will have a chance to make a sojourn to Detroit next year to see the new exhibit described below, and hook up with Bill and Mary Sue, and perhaps check on a few "stars" and "grains of sand" :o)

Discover imagination and innovation like never before with one of the most popular and influential works of science fiction known around the globe. Making it's Midwest debut at the Detroit Science Center, Feb. 14 - Sept. 7, 2009, STAR TREK: THE EXHIBITION takes visitors beyond television and movie screens into the Starship's bridge and Captain's quarters. Your students will see engineering milestones shared between fiction and reality, witness the fruits of creativity, and be exposed to the on-going themes of social justice and tolerance as advocated by Star Trek.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was always proud that his show was built on real scientific principles. STAR TREK: THE EXHIBITION builds on this tradition by using Star Trek's imagined future to teach real science. Inertia, rocket propulsion and relativity are just a few scientific principles showcased.

Albert Einstein once said that "imagination is more powerful than knowledge." Introduce a new, fun, and original way to pursue further studies of physics, aerodynamics, engineering, literature, drama, and film - just to name a few.

Live long and prosper!

We are really looking forward to Star Trek XI release on May 8, 2009, so click the link if you want to get a trailer preview. Note to self, May trip to Detroit to include a movie viewing, hmmm :o)

Dec 11, 2008

OptOut of Offers :o)

Here are three websites you can use to OptOut of credit, insurance, magazine offers and the such.

Some statistics: Each American gets 40 lbs of junk mail each year, which is an average of 848 individual pieces, 30% of worldwide mail is composed of U.S. junk mail, and 19 Billion catalogs are mailed each year.

I know we get lots of junk mail, and I continue to try and find ways to limit it.

Here they are:

In order to opt out of some of the credit card offers and such, you need to provide your SSN, but again, this information came from Time, so it has been properly vetted.

Dec 10, 2008

One Minute Manager - Goal Setting :o)

One Minute Goal Setting:

1. Agree on your goals.
2. See what good behavior looks like.
3. Write out each of your goals on a single sheet of paper using less than 250 words.
4. Read and re-read each goal, which requires only a minute of so each time you do it.
5. Take a minute every once in a while out of your day to look at your performance.
6. See whether or not your behavior matches your goal.

Dec 9, 2008

SmartyPig :o)

You have most likely heard of the old Christmas Card Clubs. Well, there are some new sites out there that let you save for something specific you want. You can save for a specific goal with a free account at

I have not yet opened an account, but it was referenced in my BottomLine publication, so I am sure it has been properly vetted :o)

Here is how it works: Sign up, describe what you're saving for and when you want it, and the free service will suggest a savings plan to be automatically deducted from your existing checking or savings account. You know what they say, pay yourself first!!!

You can keep your account private or open it up to contributions from friends and family toward a group birthday, wedding, graduation, or other gift.

Once you reach your goal, you can transfer the money into your main account or put it on a gift card. Best yet, deposits earn a 3.9% annual percentage yield :o)

We have started saving for the 2012 Superbowl and 2016 Olympics, and I will be investigating SmartyPig accounts to facilitate the process.

Dec 8, 2008

One Minute Manager Tips :o)

People Who Feel Good About Themselves Produce Results

Quality is simply giving people the product or service that they really want and need.

A problem only exists if there is a difference between what is actually happening and what you desire to be happening.

Dec 7, 2008

Help the Working Poor - Kiva II

As I investigated more about the Kiva.Org site, I figured out that I could establish a team. If you would like to become a member of the Nutwood Junction Team (described as a group of blogger friends who care), please go to and join.

Alternately, send me an e-mail at and I will send you and invitation.

Peace to you all :o)

Help the Working Poor - Kiva

I have heard of microfinancing/lending in the past and have wanted to check it out. In the recent issue of Time Magazine, there was satirical article from Joel Stein, grounded in fact, about

Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Their motto is: We Let You Loan to the Working Poor

I decided to check it out today, and made two loans, one to Helen Azimi Cloth & Dressmaking Supplies, in Nigeria;

and one to Shahnaz akhtar Waqar Masood Group Manufacturing, in Pakistan.

I started out slow, $25 each, and will periodically let you know what type of correspondence and experiences I have. I am very excited to be able to help others, and to show that the America that a lot of people perceive, it not the only America that there is. That is one of the reasons I chose Nigeria and especially Pakistan.

The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entrepreneur on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.
To learn more, visit their website at:

Sunday Silliness - Burnout :o)

Attitudes are contagious. Mine might kill you.

Dec 6, 2008

Life Lessons - How Do You Deal ???

Are you accountable for your own actions, or are you a victim?

Accountability – when you make a promise, you have to deliver. Do what you say you will do! Recognize, Own, Forgive, Analyze, Learn, Renew…TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

SEE IT – Obtain the perspectives of others, communicate openly and candidly, ask for and offer feedback, hear the hard things.

OWN IT – Be personally invested, acknowledge your involvement, create and maintain a sense of alignment, own personal and team objectives.

SOLVE IT – Constantly ask “What else can I do?”, redefine boundaries, creatively deal with obstacles, stay focused on results.

DO IT – Be proactive, follow-up relentlessly, do what you say you will do, and measure progress toward you intended result.

Victim Loop: Deny, Ignore, Hide, Resist, Rationalize, Blame.

Attitude: Life is 10% what happens, and 90% how we react to it.

One of the lessons I have learned is that - People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care! Choose how to respond! Do not deny how you feel! So show that you care, learn to count ten so you can react with facts and not emotion, and do not be a victim.

Dec 5, 2008

Moving Day in Our Future :o(

No you Silly Billies - Not Beth and I.

Several years ago, I received a call from my Mom that she and her husband (my step-dad) were moving to Oregon to be near her daughter from a previous marriage. At the time, I was a little hurt that there was not a discussion, because I told her that they could have moved here just as well. But we were good sports and went out and visited several times (the Bend Oregon area was absolutely beautiful). About a year and a half ago, they decided to move back to the Springfield, Missouri area. I flew out to Oregon and drove the U-Haul back to Missouri and unloaded it. They had moved to Springfield MO to be near my Step-Dad's daughter. It was a good choice since they had retired to and lived in the area for many years before they moved to Oregon.

While we were down at my Mom's house for Thanksgiving, and after the recent divorce of my Step-Sister and her Husband (who is an absolute great guy and great friend), and after some love and tears from Beth and I, we told my Mom that we would love it if they moved up to our neck of the woods to spend the time they have left with us, who love them, and with Beth's family, who love them as well.

Guess What - tonight, my Step-Dad called and he said, you had only been gone a little while before I was accosted by your Mom! He indicated he had no reason to live down there anymore, and that he was touched that we wanted them to live near us. So, by the end of May, they will be moving-on-up and be living near us. Lots of logistics to work out, but we will deal with that.

My heart goes out to my bride, when we talked about this on the drive back last Monday, and I thanked her for her support, she said, "Of course, they are family." We are so excited and pleased that they will be near us with a family that loves them, and has been and will always be there for them :o)

Dec 3, 2008

How Deep Can You Dig?

In yesterday's post, I indicated that one of our nuclear units would be shut down through at least September 2009. I learned today, that the announcement was made at the end of the day on Monday, after the Stock Market had closed for the day. The length of the shutdown (one year plus), and the potential costs ($330M plus) are considered material statements, and if the announcement was made while the market was open, the SEC would have suspended trading of our stock.

As evidence of these material statements, our stock closed down more than 4% yesterday (after dipping down more than 6% during the day) even though the market was up more than 2%, and our peer utilities had slight gains. So today, our investor relations group was again in New York to explain what the numbers mean, how much of the costs will be covered by insurance and rates, and that there is expected to be little impact to our 2009 earnings.

It is a reminder that in these difficult economic times, what and how things are reported can have a significant impact on the finances of companies. Its not just about electricity and what customers pay. It is also about one of the largest utility companies in the nation, that employs more than 20,000 people. It is also about investors, about the value of the company and the ability to raise capital to make infrastructure improvements, which in turn helps support the economy.

As Beth indicated in an e-mail to me today, we tend to think in terms of immediate impacts such as work schedules and such, but the true impact is much wider and affects many people. So as we experience the roller coaster ride of the current economy, try to not only focus on your immediate impacts, but give thought to the downstream impacts. It may be a neighbor that works for a supplier to your company, it may be a grandmother that has her savings in investments that are under performing, it may be a friend or family member that lost a job.

Try to dig as deep as you can to support your local food bank, Toys For Tots, and local charities during this difficult time and holiday season.

Dec 2, 2008

Schedule Smackdown

BRIDGMAN, Mich., Dec. 1, 2008 – American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) continues work to repair Cook Nuclear Plant’s damaged Unit 1 turbine generator. A repair option may allow operation at reduced power, but the rotors will ultimately be replaced to ensure the long-term viability of the unit. The expected return-to-service timeline ranges from the second half of 2009, if repair is successful, to 2010 if the rotors must be replaced before operation. AEP anticipates that all costs incurred to return Cook Unit 1 to service will be recovered through insurance, vendor warranty or the regulatory process. Repair and replacement of the turbine rotors is estimated to cost up to $332 million.

So, again the sucking sound of the forced outage comes calling. The week of Christmas, I will be on nights (reduced work week, we will get a four day weekend), and the second week in February, five nights. I will be the night Shift Outage Manager. Nice to get recognition for being the head on the horse so to speak, but messes with the rhythm. I also found out that I will be doing day-shift for the spring outage for Unit 2 (32 days, 6-12 hour shifts, with one day off per week); again, nice to be recognized for having something to contribute, but a hassle.

I welcome my chance to do my share, and never complain publicly, but it is the same old syndrome of 5% of the folks doing the heavy lifting. I fully expect that after the Unit 2 outage, I will then move into an every seven week rotation on the Unit 1 forced outage until the unit is back on line. I just want to know the schedule so that we can plan the rest of our life :o)

Hope your post holiday week is going well as you prepare for the Christmas Holiday.

Dec 1, 2008

Sunday Silliness - Blogging :o)

Sorry it is a little late, but we did not go out on Sunday :o)

Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.