01/07/07 - Christmas and New Year – It's that time of year again when both Susan and I are working long hours.  Yea, I know - status quo for Susan; however, long hours typically only come one month out of the year for me.  Unlike most accountants, my busy time isn't "Tax Season".  Instead, we have year-end, audits, and annual statement filings (very detailed reports filed by insurance companies).  Nevertheless, I did want to take some time and post a few pictures and ramble a bit.


We're trying to organize and rearrange the house (only slightly).  We're giving the guest bedroom a "Greek" makeover and trying to eliminate a few pieces of furniture (but not many).  In addition to the changes, we're also trying to round up all of the junk we don't need and donate it.  There are several local organizations that offer a handy pick-up service.  We just leave the items on our front porch in the morning, and the volunteers pick it up before we get back in the evening; it works out quite nicely.  I'm also hoping to unload some of my collectibles (old baseball cards, comic books, and toys from my childhood).  In the past it has always been easier said than done, but with all of these new "EZBayer" stores that sell your items for commission, it might be possible.


Moving on to Christmas...we spent the 25th in Tulsa this year with my family.  We took our nieces to do a little Geocaching (they enjoy it almost as much as I do), and we also had a blast feeding the ducks and geese at Lake Claremore (you would think nobody had fed those birds all year)!  Somehow we didn't manage to get any good pictures of my family (everyone either looks drunk or wasn't ready for the picture to be snapped).

The following weekend, on New Years, we skipped up to Lawton and partied with Susan's folks and Papa.  We watched a movie, gambled on a few hands of poker, and did a bit of Geocaching there as well. 


I simply had to include the above picture of Rick sipping on a cocktail - holiday festiveness at its finest :).

- Nathan

01/12/07 - Diary HTML Updates  – I wanted to fill everyone in on 3 programming changes I have made to the website. 

#1 - Break Frames - I'll start with the least important one first, the new brown paw (third from the left) in the bottom left-hand corner.  Clicking this paw will completely break you out of all the frames on this website.  This is useful if you want a direct link to one of the diary pages in order to forward it to someone else.  I don't figure anyone will use it very much but I have been wanting to add it for "user friendliness" purposes.  In addition, if you happen to find a link on this site that doesn't automatically remove the frames (I try to do that automatically on the link but sometimes I forget), then this is also a quick way to get rid of them.

#2 - Search Engine - If you select "site index" from the drop-down box in the bottom frame it will take you to a list of every diary entry we have made since the dawn of this website six years ago.  I have added a Google search box to the top that will attempt to search all of the diary entries for a specific word or phrase.  For example, type in "wine" and you will get hits in May 2004, August 2005, and July 2006.  It doesn't work very well (for example, "Dakota" doesn't return any diary pages), but I'm hoping to learn more about how the Google indexing works in the near future.

#3 - Community - A friend of Susan’s (and mine too I suppose; although I have only met her once – Hi Rana!!) introduced me to a new website called MyBlogLog.Com.  By registering on MyBlogLog it lets me (and others) know when you visit one of Susan and my diary/blog pages.  To see which registered users have recently visited this website just click here or the "Community" link from the bottom frame's drop-down box.

The new community feature is going to take the place of our old guestbook (which only had 3 entries over the period of a year).  This means, in addition to displaying who has browsed this site, everyone can post comments about the site or specific diary entries.  You can even send messages to other registered readers of this site and see what other blog sites they are members of.  For example, I am also a frequent reader of Notes From an Eclectic Mind.

When you register it is important to upload an "avatar" picture (the picture that displays next to your name).  If you don’t then I believe you can still become a member of the group, but I never actually get to see when you have visited the site (it doesn’t actually provide me a date or time, it just simply lists the order of the 5 most recent registered visitors).

The registration is fairly intuitive (some stuff is tricky to find, such as the avatar picture if you skip it during registration), but if you want specific steps here they are:

1)     From the Community webpage select the "Join Community" button.

2)     Provide a screen name, email address, and password.  The email address can even be bogus (the website does not verify it; so you can use a bogus to avoid spam).

3)     Click the "sign up" button.

4)     Answer a couple of questions about email preferences.

5)     Congratz, you are now a member of the community!

6)     Click the "add your picture to your profile" link.

7)     "Browse" to any picture you want to use on your computer and select "upload picture".

8)     Below, in the preview, use the mouse to select a square portion of the screen; you are essentially cropping the picture to your desired size.  Be sure to keep the selection mostly square or the website will skew your photo to make it square.

9)     When you are satisfied with your selection click on the "use this picture" button.

10) Go back to the Community webpage and you will now see you are at the top of the list of visitors!

I'm hoping it will be fun...well, I at least had fun setting it up - hopefully it has more than 3 entries after a year ;).

- Nathan

01/19/07 - Feeling Blue?  – The change isn't permanent...it is more of a trial run.  I wanted to see how much havoc I could wreck by changing a few parameters of the website.  Obviously this includes the background image (which I designed myself from a picture someone had taken) the text formatting, and the colors.

Unfortunately it won't change any of the browns I use on the file folder tabs (at least not without a LOT of work) or some of the bottom navigation bar colors.  Nevertheless, I'll play around with this for a while and see what else "breaks"...or maybe I'll be able to configure it where I can switch back and forth fairly seamlessly (which is my goal).  Currently I only have to change one small file on the web server to go from "Cats" to "Greece"; in the future I will hopefully be able to do quick themes for holidays or other various whims.

- Nathan

01/20/07 - 6 Minute Mile  – Back in December I posted a diary entry about the Squirrel Run 5K.  In that entry I mentioned wanting to run a mile in less than 6 minutes to see if I could (an average of 10MPH).  For whatever reason this morning I decided I was going to give it a shot (it was cold and rainy outside so I couldn't go Geocaching ;).  I did this task at the gym since it is easy to keep track of distance and time.  It was fairly anticlimactic, but I was able to complete one mile in 5:56.  I will admit I don't believe I could run two of those back-to-back....I was ready to quit by the time the first mile was nearing completion (whew).

- Nathan

01/28/07 - Misfire?  – This is probably one of the most unusual activities Susan and I have participated in yet; handgun practice.  Joe is a good Geocaching buddy of mine and an avid firearm and munitions enthusiast .  When I mentioned to him I had never personally fired a handgun, he felt that was a situation which needed immediate remedy.  Subsequently this involved a very interesting afternoon at a local firing range in Fort Worth with Joe as our very experienced instructor.

Since neither Susan nor I were familiar with the operation of a handgun, Joe gave us a great explanation of how to load the rounds into the magazine and how to ready the weapon.  Throughout the exercise he also explained all of the important safety precautions we should follow.  At first I was definitely a little "gunshy" and even was a little jumpy whenever a nearby weapon was fired; however, I warmed up to the experience within about 15 minutes and began to feel more comfortable with the situation.

Joe allowed us to handle a wide variety of weapons (which I will list below) and showed us all of the similarities and differences among them.  It was a very enlightening experience and overall I actually had a good time (I'm not sure if it is actually appropriate to say I had "fun" shooting a weapon, but I did).  Thanks Joe for introducing us to something new and expanding our horizons!

Now for the really important stuff ;).  Susan had much better accuracy than I did; I blame that on her "perfect" laser vision.  I tended to hit the target a little bottom-left of center.  Overall the experience turned out to be much more difficult than I expected; it is actually quite a challenge to hold the weapon steady when you are firing it.  I certainly have a greater appreciation for anyone who can consistently hit a target in the center with each shot.



As for the weapons we were allowed to handle, Joe was kind enough to provide us with a wide variety in order for us to determine our "likes" and "dislikes" in terms of how each one handled.  Without further ado, here is the list of weapons we fired:

- Nathan