Archive for April, 2010

New Annual Fee

My brother might be appalled to learn that I don’t check my credit card statement every month. I’d just look at the balance due and, if it was somewhere in the ballpark of what I expected, I’d pay it.

The most recent statement for my wife’s credit card came recently. Well, it didn’t really arrive here because everything is electronic now. But I got an email saying that the bill was ready. I thought the balance was slightly more than it should have been, so I clicked on the View Statement button.

This credit card never had an annual fee. But I saw a line in the statement that said $60 for the annual fee.

Where did that come from?

Apparently they weren’t making much money off that card, so they added a fee. Since the fee was brand new, I had a chance to appeal the terms of the card. The note thingy said that we had 30 days from receipt of the bill to dispute the fee.

We disputed it. Or rather, my wife did. It’s her card so she has to be the one to officially talk to the credit card people.

Who are in India.

And are not authorized to remove that fee.

So she said “Fine, cancel the card then.” And lo, the card was cancelled.

The timing of all that was interesting because she had been eyeing a new credit card just a week earlier – a card with a fancy-schmancy rewards program. I didn’t want to add yet another credit card to the mix, but it turns out that now we can.

And I have learned my lesson and will be reviewing credit card statements more thoroughly, at least for a little while.

And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury.

Nehemiah 5:10

NFL in April 2010

Today’s post will cover both the draft and the schedule but I didn’t want to put both those in the title. So I have a rather bland title.

The Draft

I didn’t pay too much attention to the draft, other than the fact that Tim Tebow was drafted in the first round. He wasn’t expected to be picked until the later rounds, but Coach McDaniels of the Broncos wanted him on the team.

McDaniels already has Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, both of whom want to be the starting quarterback. Quinn was just brought in, so either McDaniels is trying to put some handwriting on the wall for Orton or he has other plans for Tebow.

I say he has other plans. Do you think it is just coincidence that the Broncos got rid of their tight end just days before drafting Tebow? I sense some trick plays up someone’s sleeves. Am I the only one who thinks McDaniels is going to put Tebow out at tight end? Apparently not.

I do think that Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen made the right choice in not attending the NFL draft in person. Unless you’re being discussed as one of the top three picks, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. If you’re not picked right away, the cameras will be on you the whole time and people will be wondering why you have not been picked yet.

Tim Tebow also was invited but did not attend the NFL draft in New York. The correctness of his choice is not as obvious as the other quarterbacks’. Since Tebow was not slotted to be picked until the third round or so, there should have been no pressure. He could have gone, enjoyed the festivities, and not worried about not going in the first round. Then he would have been pleasantly surprised when he did go in the first round. Ah well, he certainly didn’t make the wrong choice. I’m not sure there even was a wrong choice in his case.

The Schedule

Shortly before the draft started, the NFL announced the 2010 schedule. Now that we know who will play whom and when, we can start predicting wins and losses.

I keep my predictions over at Some Fun Site. During the course of 2009, I saw that predictions based on the previous season’s results were just as good as predictions that updated themselves week-by-week. Results are here.

Now that the schedule is out, I have setup the 2010 predictions. Most of them are good for the first week only, but the two methods with “last year” in them are good for the whole season already. Here is my summary of the results:

  • Of course, the generic prediction of Home Team Wins always forecasts each team to win half the games and lose half the games. So everyone gets an 8-8 record. Boring.
  • The Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate (better record wins) was 63% accurate last season (in 2009, using 2008’s final numbers the whole season). It predicts this for 2010:
    • Arizona = 12-4
    • Atlanta = 9-7
    • Baltimore = 8-8
    • Buffalo = 3-13
    • Carolina = 7-9
    • Chicago = 5-11
    • Cincinnati = 12-4
    • Cleveland = 2-14
    • Dallas = 11-5
    • Denver = 7-9
    • Detroit = 1-15
    • Green Bay = 13-3
    • Houston = 10-6
    • Indianapolis = 16-0
    • Jacksonville = 5-11
    • Kansas City = 1-15
    • Miami = 6-10
    • Minnesota = 15-1
    • New England = 12-4
    • New Orleans = 16-0
    • New York Giants = 8-8
    • New York Jets = 10-6
    • Oakland = 4-12
    • Philadelphia = 13-3
    • Pittsburgh = 11-5
    • San Diego = 15-1
    • San Francisco = 8-8
    • Seattle = 4-12
    • St. Louis = 0-16
    • Tampa Bay = 2-14
    • Tennessee = 7-9
    • Washington = 3-13
  • The More Points Wins method was 66% accurate last season (in 2009, using 2008’s final numbers the whole season). It predicts this for 2010:
    • Arizona = 12-4
    • Atlanta = 8-8
    • Baltimore = 14-2
    • Buffalo = 4-12
    • Carolina = 7-9
    • Chicago = 5-11
    • Cincinnati = 6-10
    • Cleveland = 2-14
    • Dallas = 13-3
    • Denver = 8-8
    • Detroit = 1-15
    • Green Bay = 16-0
    • Houston = 9-7
    • Indianapolis = 13-3
    • Jacksonville = 3-13
    • Kansas City = 3-13
    • Miami = 7-9
    • Minnesota = 13-3
    • New England = 14-2
    • New Orleans = 16-0
    • New York Giants = 7-9
    • New York Jets = 11-5
    • Oakland = 1-15
    • Philadelphia = 11-5
    • Pittsburgh = 11-5
    • San Diego = 15-1
    • San Francisco = 10-6
    • Seattle = 5-11
    • St. Louis = 0-16
    • Tampa Bay = 2-14
    • Tennessee = 5-11
    • Washington = 4-12
  • Comparing ITP and MPW gets me this:

    • Arizona = 12-4
    • Carolina = 7-9
    • Chicago = 5-11
    • Cleveland = 2-14
    • Detroit = 1-15
    • New Orleans = 16-0
    • Pittsburgh = 11-5
    • San Diego = 15-1
    • St. Louis = 0-16
    • Tampa Bay = 2-14


    • Baltimore = 14-2 or 8-8
    • Cincinnati = 12-4 or 6-10

When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him,

Luke 14:8

Spring Break 2010, Part 2

This post is a continuation of a previous post. Please start with that if you need some background information.

Scenic Soccer

We had a variety of things planned for our third day [insert musical reference here, such as “Consuming Fire”]. The day started off with our cousin/nephew’s soccer game, which consisted mostly of viewing the scenery and chortling at the coach’s comments. We arrived at the soccer park too early, mainly because the kids needed to expend some energy, so we explored the part of the park that was not soccer fields.

photo of scenic creek and footbridge in Idaho

As I noted earlier, there aren’t many real trees in Idaho. The soccer park was one of the few places that had trees, although it was too early in the season for leaves.

photo of children walking through a park in Idaho

And here’s the scenery at the soccer game:

photo of children's soccer game with mountains in the background

Rock, Table, Scissors

After the soccer game, we went back to the house to pick up the rest of the family. The boys wanted to hike a mountain since we don’t have that opportunity very much otherwise. So we went into Boise, grabbed lunch, found the old penitentiary, and hiked up Table Rock.

photo of children hiking up to Table Rock in Boise

We chose the less-strenuous path because of the small children. It was longer but less steep, at least that’s what the sign said. Some people aren’t convinced that it was less strenuous. Much of it was flat, albeit winding.

photo of family walking along the hiking path in Boise

The view from the top was great.

photo of children hiking up to Table Rock in Boise

No, that’s no one we know. I just thought it would make a great picture.

Boise Zoo

Beta had a great time the whole time during the hike. Some other children, however, were done at the top and did not want to hike back down. We had planned to stop by the zoo before heading back to the house, but considered dropping it due to the crankiness factor. Once we were back in the car and the kids had some water and suckers, everyone was happy again and ready to hit the zoo.

photo of children walking through Zoo Boise

photo of children watching the tiger at Zoo Boise

The kids liked watching the tiger

photo of children watching the lion at Zoo Boise

Beta and the lion are watching the same thing, although I do not know what it is.

When it was time to leave the zoo, we received many protests. So put Zoo Boise on the list of things that kids like to do. The playground and prairie dog exhibit were the highlights for the kids. Mine was the bird that sounded like an elephant.

Bouncy Boise

The next day we just stayed around the local area (Boise is the nearest big city, local area is not). We broke out the bounce house. You don’t need to tell kids when to stop playing on the bounce house because they gradually stop as they become hurt or tired.

photo of children playing in an inflatable bounce house

photo of children playing in an inflatable bounce house

And I’ll put this picture in here, even though it is not bouncy. The kids didn’t play in the bouncy castle all day – we did send them outside too. They gravitated to the sandbox, so they could get dirty and need cleaning when they came back inside.

photo of children playing in a sandbox

Not-So-Scenic Drive

The next day was our final full day. Since tomorrow would be travelling all day, we decided to stay around the house again. Well, almost. The boys had seen the snow-capped peaks of the distant mountains and wanted to visit them. I think they wanted to go hiking again and hike up to the snow. So in the afternoon I packed up the older boys and drove about a half hour east into the mountains.

The speed limit on the 2-lane road was 65 mph, and it wound through the mountains.

It was snowing in the mountains.

And it was cloudy.

I did not always go 65. That particular 2-lane road does not have many options – no intersecting roads and no shoulders. I didn’t want to keep driving, so I finally found a turn-around spot and pulled over.

photo of foggy snowy mountain road in Idaho

Alpha and Beta got out of the minivan, but it was cold so they didn’t want to go anywhere. Well, they wanted to go hiking but they also wanted to be warm.

photo of cold child on snowy mountainside in Idaho

So we were there about 5 minutes; then we got back in the van and went back to the house. My nephew never even got out of the vehicle. He fell asleep on the way back to his house, as did Beta.

Going Home

Then came cleaning and packing. That meant we had to say goodbye to the bounce house.

photo of deflated bounce house

The next morning we were up at 7:00 and out the door around 8:30, after some final packing and cleaning. We arrived in Boise without any delays or problems, which was good because they started the boarding process as we were walking to our gate. That’s too close for how I like to plan things, but I am glad we didn’t have to wait long with small children.

Now we’re back home, and the kids have fond memories of their trip to see relatives out west. And tumbleweeds.

When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another.

Acts 21:5

Bouncy Monster

My wife had some alone time (AKA grocery shopping) earlier this week. That left me at home with the three boys for the evening. The boys immediately started asking to play the Game Cube. “Spend some time outside first, and then you can play Game Cube while I give Gamma his bath.” was my reply.

We all went outside. Alpha and Beta went straight to the trampoline, and I put Gamma in the the gravel pit. I set about my spring chore of spreading crushed rock over the driveway (stay tuned for an upcoming blog post).

Alpha and Beta can play happily on the trampoline for at least 45 minutes, provided no one gets hurt or needs a potty break. Today, however, they saw that I wasn’t doing anything that couldn’t be interrupted and called me over to the trampoline to play a game.

I was unaware of any games for the trampoline, so I asked “What game?

The monster-under-the-trampoline game!

Of course…have they been reading the fairy tales book again?

You can be the monster. You get under the trampoline and then you pop your head up to our feet and try to make us jump.

That certainly does sound fun for those on the top side of the trampoline, but you can’t just tell your kids no. So I had to break it to them gently that the “monster-under-the-trampoline game” was not a good idea.

It sounded like this: “That might hurt my head. How about if I lie on my back under the trampoline and kick you up in the air with my feet instead?

And then I added “Hey, what’s this game called?” They each shouted undecipherable phrases, mostly involving baby sounds such as kah, koo, and gwah. But then Alpha started calling it the “bouncy-monster game” and that’s the one that stuck. So let it be written.

(Fifty internet points for you if you mentally added “so let it be done” after that last sentence.)

My contribution for the name of the game was “Something we do when mom isn’t home” but that doesn’t flow as well as “bouncy monster”.

So that’s what we did – I lay on my back with my feet on the underside of the trampoline. It’s the perfect height for that. I bounced the trampoline with my legs while they ran around and tried not to fall.

After a little bit of that, they thought it would be more fun to stand right next to my feet and just be launched into the air. That kind of worked, except their legs would buckle on lift-off and absorb most of the energy. So they collapsed more than flew.

Finally we figured out the best method – the launchee would sit right next to my feet and then I would kick. Note, be sure to tuck your feet and knees down low after kicking, since kids don’t like landing on them. And no, we didn’t find that out the hard way.

Then Gamma wandered over from the gravel pit – either he was done playing with the toys or he was full and couldn’t eat any more pea gravel. Or maybe he heard all the laughter and wanted in on whatever it was.

I certainly was not going to put the baby on the trampoline and launch him. I know better than that. He liked being under the trampoline with me. His problem is that he is almost as tall as the trampoline, so his hair brushes the underside of the trampoline as he walks. That’s fine as long as there are no boys bouncing on top of the trampoline, which there were so it wasn’t.

My next few minutes were spent launching the older boys while holding the baby down. No one got hurt, but Alpha and Beta were not being launched as well and Gamma was getting frustrated because he was being restricted.

Bath time!” I announced, thus ending the Bouncy Monster game. Gamma likes baths, so he was happy. Alpha and Beta realized that meant Game Cube time, so they were happy. And I got to go inside and read a magazine article or two, so I was happy.

Please note that I read the magazine with only one eye, as the other eye was busy watching the bathtub.

For man is born for trouble,As sparks fly upward.

Job 5:7

American Idol, Season 9, Top 7

Inspirational songs night, it was tonight. Somehow, try as I might, I cannot picture any of these songs in the Inspirational section of the music store (or music section of the bookstore) (do they have those anymore? or is everything on iTunes? does iTunes have an Inspirational section? if so, would it be the iNspirational section?)

Okay, on to the show. This time I kept notes as I watched, instead of watching and then trying to remember later what I was thinking.

Casey James: “Don’t Stop” (Thinking About Tomorrow)

He’s a good singer and a good performer, but this is just not his style. Of course, it’s not his fault he has to sing something inspirational, so I shan’t put too much blame on him this week.

Conclusion: Not Inspirational

Lee Dewyze: “The Boxer”

Can we stop with the hand-waving, people? Please?

I’m a fan of Lee’s voice, and I’m a fan of the original song, but I was not a fan of this arrangement. I think the original version moves along better. Hmm…the judges loved it.

Conclusion: Possibly Inspirational

Tim Urban: “Better Days”

I forget when AI switched from being a singing competition to being an artistry/performance competition. But his voice was noticeably not up to snuff tonight. Plus, do people really look to the Goo Goo Dolls for inspiration?

Conclusion: Not Inspirational

Aaron Kelly: “I Believe I Can Fly”

If I close my eyes, I find it hard to tell that this was not R. Kelly.

No, not really.

I am not a fan of the song, and it’s hard to get past that. The vocals seemed fine, but it’s hard to get inspiration from someone who hasn’t started on his life yet.

Conclusion: Not Inspirational

Siobhan Magnus: “When You Believe”

I like the clarity of her voice. The flowers glued to her arms were a tad distracting. The judges were critical, but of her performance not of her voice. I suppose they are looking for performers, right Tim?

Hey, Simon thought her accessories were distracting too! But he called them leaves, not flowers. Wait, what? Oh, sorry, they’re butterflies.

Conclusion: Possibly Inspirational

Michael Lynche: “Hero”

I didn’t write anything down during the performance. That’s because it was just aiight for me tonight. Nothing special, which could be trouble for him again except his voice was better than Tim’s.

Conclusion: Possibly Inspirational

Crystal Bowersox: “People Get Ready”

I was so disappointed that this was not the Crystal Lewis song. This one is by the Impressions, of whom I have not heard until just now.

She has a good voice and a good performance. So it is possible to have both, contrary to what other contestants may have led you to believe.

Casey, when the judges said “inspirational songs” they meant heart-felt emotional inspiration, not feel-good pep-talky inspiration. If you want to catch back up to Crystal you are going to have to mean what you’re singing. And let the audience know that you mean it. Although if you cry this next week I will be suspicious.

Conclusion: Inspirational

Who’s going home? Probably either Tim or Aaron.

Want a better review of American Idol? Go read Boomama.

Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was in charge of the singing; he gave instruction in singing because he was skillful.

1 Chronicles 15:22

Spring Break 2010, Part 1

I did not succumb to the temptation to title this post “The West of the Story”, since someone already used that. Also note that “West Side Story” is also taken.

A week ago we were in the Boise area, packing our things and getting ready to leave the next morning to fly back home. Now I’ve had time to download all 500 photos from the trip and go through some of them.

Here are some highlights of the first two days of travel:

Snacks on a Plane

photo of our family enjoying snacks on the plane

Here is a rare sighting of Alpha and Gamma. They are not in their native habitat, and they are curiously awaiting to see what we do next.


The first novelty of being out west was the tumbleweeds. The boys found some right away, which was not difficult since they rolled right in front of us at the park (the tumbleweeds, not the boys).

However, the kids’ tumbleweed-gathering skills varied:
Alpha got a decent tumbleweed

photo of a medium tumbleweed

but then his cousin, the resident of Idaho and therefore more familiar with tumbleweeds, showed what a real tumbleweed looks like

photo of a better tumbleweed

Beta joined in the fun, and he succeeded in finding one about his size.

photo of a scraggly tumbleweed

We all climbed the hill there at Camel’s Back park, played on the playground, and then went to dinner (pizza, in case you were wondering). Then there was evening and morning, the first day.

Playing the Slots

photo of setting up a slotcar racetrack

We had thought about going out and seeing some things in Boise that first full day, but, after a long day of travel the day before, we just wanted to stay close to the house. So our hosts broke out the slot-car track, which kept the older boys occupied for a while.

Attack of the Tumbleweeds

photo of tumbleweeds piled against a chain-link fence

After lunch, we set off on a little adventure, just to get the older kids out of the house for a change of scenery. We got to see what happens when someone puts a fence across the tumbleweeds’ migratory route. Hint: they don’t like it. They attack the fence until they break through and can continue on their way.


photo of three children and one adult playing tackle football

Since the weather was still nice when we got back, we took advantage of it. Of course, the children can’t play by themselves in the backyard when there is an able-bodied adult standing around. So I played football with them, as did our host (although he is not in the picture).

A-hunting We Will Go

photo of kids looking around rocks for spiders

The last thing we did before dinner was go on a black-widow hunt. The kids had been asking about black widow spiders, so we figured we’d see if we could satisfy their curiosity. At the end of the block was a drainage ditch that doesn’t get much use in the dry mountain weather there.

There were plenty, plenty, of rocks for the boys to overturn. They found a couple spiders, but no black widows. Some other boys saw them, and they came over to help too. The two packs of boys didn’t quite gel, but I did learn one thing: if you want to get the attention of a group of boys and get them to come to you quickly, simply yell “Hey! I found something!”

On our way back up the block, we ran across a few more neighborhood children. They had collected a hobo and we told them “No thanks, but let us know if you find a black widow.” A little while later, we heard a knock at the door. There were several neighborhood children and one of them had a plastic jug. Sure enough, the jug contained a black widow. I did not have my camera nearby, so I can’t show you the spider. Then all the kids ran into the back yard to play, and they took the black widow too. I’m pretty sure they did not release it in the back yard.

As I see him from the top of the rocks,And I look at him from the hills; Behold, a people who dwells apart,And will not be reckoned among the nations.

Numbers 23:9

Finding Joy Friday, April 2010 Edition

Finding Joy Friday

In cooperation with LaanyKidsMom, here is my entry for this week.

Where did I find joy this week?
In and around Boise, ID

picture of toddler on airplane

We flew to Boise. It was Beta’s and Gamma’s first time on an airplane. Travelling long distances together as a family can be stressful at times, but it does produce memories. That’s Gamma in the photo, of course.

picture of children about to climb a steep hill

The first stop after leaving the Boise airport was Camel’s Back park, where the older two (plus a cousin) climbed the hill. What gave me joy here is that we were out of the airplane and had no particular schedule or deadline. It’s a park – go run around and do whatever you want. When we’re done, we’ll go eat dinner.

picture of mountains

The next item of joy this week was the view in Boise. We don’t get that here in the Midwest. I did miss the trees and general green-ness of the Midwest, but the scenery there was picturesque.

picture of prairie dog display at zoo

The final item for this Finding Joy Friday is the prairie dog exhibit at the Boise Zoo Zoo Boise. Prairie dogs, by themselves, are amusing enough. But when there are several clear domes into which the kids can climb, it becomes even more amusing. That’s Beta in the photo, by the way.

That’s all for today’s entry. Maybe next week I’ll post some more pictures and descriptions of our time out west.

Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the mountain at a distance with a large area between them.

1 Samuel 26:13