Saturday, August 22, 2009

Productive Day

I feel productive today. Tackled two projects that actually went very well. First one was computer related. I have an Asus EEE netbook. After a couple of less than successful runs on various Linux based operating systems I found Eeebuntu that has proven rock solid for quite a long time. Pretty much every other day there are updates that are installed, constantly improving the little bugger. A week or so ago one of these updates resulted in the netbook no longer being able to access our wifi- or any wifi connection. I took the time today to find the problem. It was one update that created this problem for many people with the exact same system. This made the fix easy to find. After that it was only a matter of time learning how to add the one line of code to the boot menu.

The second project was our garage door was ajar...

Two major problems with the door was one of the track wheels came off and the cable unspooled off it's wheel, coiling around it's axle.

After securing the kids, Cara
and I worked
together and with leverage and body weight we balanced everything, created enough cable slack, got everything reseated, and successfully fixed our garage door. Cost = $0.00

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jack and Simon


Jack Elliot Willis turns 2 years old today. Happy Birthday, Action Man!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jack's Bible Stories

Maggie grew hungry while we were at church this morning. So Cara took her to the nursing room and fed her. There was a technical problem with the video feed in the room causing the moms to miss a majority of the sermon.

At dinner, this evening, Cara asked what the sermon was about and I started to describe it's theme. While I was explaining the message, Jack gets out of his seat and starts asking Cara to read him a Bible story. He wouldn't let up, either, running off to go retrieve one of his Bible story books. Finally Cara had to page through it as she listened to my retelling of Greg Boyd's message.

It seems he picked up on enough of my words to know what I was talking about and associated that with his Bible stories. He is amazing.

(This image is not from the book Jack selected. It's here jsut to add humor).

Friday, July 10, 2009


I joined eBay on June 12, 1999. Today I received my 500th feedback. That means in ten years I have made 500 transaction (buying and selling).

Jeffrywith1e on eBay

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Pictures of Maggie Mae

Posted by Picasa

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae was born today.

She started the last leg of her voyage at 10:05 this morning when the midwife broke the water. That started the strong contractions that we've been waiting for all week. With only 2 pushes Maggie was breathing air at 11:47 AM! She weighs 9lbs 2oz. and measures 20.1 inches long. Lots of dark hair. her head is perfectly round because her delivery was so short.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I won again against Alfredo. This is been great. He is a better player than I am so when I play him I go all out. No holding back. Usually I can hold my own but will eventually make a fatal mistake. The last two games, though...

Leesha and I have been playing a lot of chess, too. She's got all the piece's moves down, but very little of the strategy. She's coming along though.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Maggie Mae where are you?

We are in a familiar holding pattern with Maggie Mae. She was due last Thursday. If she's still hiding when Thursday comes around again the midwife will induce labor.

On a far less exciting note, I beat Alfredo at chess today at work.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana

Jack had some misadventures at around 1:30 in the morning last night. After he was all sorted out I was up. So I settled in and finished Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana.

I thought this was much better than the first book. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to write from the P.O.V. of Christ, but I think Rice captures His voice masterfully. I was surprised to find myself feeling sorry for Jesus through the first half. In the 2nd half, however, we see a transformation that reminded me of Neo in the Matrix. The dialog between He and Satan in the desert was interesting in that Jesus was portrayed as having the upper hand, not something that I think is traditionally taught with the passage. It usually seems like Jesus' ability to resist temptation was the victory in the desert. In this book He clearly out maneuvers the devil conversationally. Basically, Jesus verbally kicked his ass. I loved the way Rice planted characters from the biblical account throughout the story. She is a master storyteller. 

Through high-school I was a HUGE Anne Rice fan with the vampire books. Having moving on from my interest in the dark gothic stuff, she has followed me out of it. It is great having her familiar voice continuing to tell me great stories. They're still stories about immortals.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Maggie Mae

Today was Maggie's due date. She is late now...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Grandfather died this morning. My mom was with him.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Father's Day was good. It started out pretty normal for a Sunday.

We went to the 11:00 service. While Cara was submitting the young ones into the Hero's Gate (Woodland Hills' children service/daycare) I went to the audio/lighting booth to talk to the crew. It was there that a co-worker of mine approached me. Tom was the very last trainee I taught at Monarch before they stopped hiring new drivers. He and I had absolutley nothing in common (until now, that is- now I know we're brothers in Christ) as I'm a full through and through geek and he's a minor league hockey player. His buddy disappeared or something so Tom sat with Cara and I. He mentioned that he heard the usual sermons here at WHC are not the typical kind, they make you think. I confirmed that and added that if you want a sermon that makes you feel good this was not the place for that. As soon as worship was done and announcements were out of the way Boyd introed his message naming it PAIN. Tom and I laughed about that.

After church Cara, Jack, and I (Leesha went out with her dad after church) went out for my Father's Day lunch. I chose The Uptown Bar and Cafe for their gyro omelets and their bloody marys. That's exactly what I got, too. Didn't even need the menu.

We went home and I crashed - thats what you do after you eat an Uptown omelet and a bloody. There's no avoiding it. Cara cleaned the cars and I watched Jack- rather we watched Flash Gordon. At some point Leesha came home. Later, Eric and Keesha came over to help install our air unit in the window. When they left I called my dad and by the end of that conversation it was around 10PM.

It was a full and relatively active Father's Day.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

4 Year Anniversary & NCC 1701

Cara and I have been married for four years. Each year has been better than the last.

To celebrate we took Jack to our friend's house and went to an early showing of STAR TREK:
Cara and I saw it finally for our 4th anniversary yesterday. It was fantastic. I agree with Jesse that it cleaned out every bit of its arse with the Star Wars movies. Kirk was great. Pine made the character his own without falling into a Shatner impersonation. Quinto, however, channeled Nemoy with his performance. Spot on. I thought Nemoy, himself, was a bit off character, actually. They succeeded in re-imaging an old and great franchise while keeping with the original continuity in a way. The one criticism I have is there are a few HUGE plot holes requiring a great deal of suspension of disbelief. More than usual for Star Trek. The action and thrill makes it easy to forgive these plot shortcomings. It was beautiful and has made me really like Star Trek more than ever in my life (like, I actually want to own this movie!). But I think Firefly/Serenity and Battlestar Galactica are still superior sci-fi products. [link to discussion]
We left the theater and went directly to Red Lobster. When all was said and done, we were home again with Jack around 5PM. It was a great and relaxing anniversary.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Venture Bros.

The Venture Bros. is an animated TV show for targeted for adults. On the surface it appears to be a comedy parody on Jonny Quest. I resisted watching it at all because I happen to like Jonny Quest a lot and felt that parodies are sometimes offensive, but I finally gave it a chance and absolutely loved it. I see this is more of an homage than a parody and at times the quality of writing goes beyond it's original. Where sometimes Jonny Quest may have taken itself too seriously, Venture Bros NEVER is guilty of this. Venture Bros. homages and refers to many many other pulp adventure and pop icons using allusion in the plots and dialogue. For example, there was an episode that opened with a flashback where the characters were speaking the lyrics to David Bowie's Space Oddity. The show has fantastic music. The art is stylized and solid. But it's the writing that really does this show justice.

I've become a fanboy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Wow, I found a television relic. I have memories of a sci-fi show that I just loved - Otherworld. I remember seeing the promo over and over for a short period of time and having an idea that it was about dimension travel. So I dressed up about four of the most futuristic G.I. Joe guys with cool gear and posed them when the ad would come on creating my own opening sequence using the music form the promo.

Tonight I found a fansite through Wikipedia about the show.
They have all eight episodes on the webpage. Watched the first one. It was better than I thought it would be. About a family who are lost in the pyramids in Egypt and found their way out but have somehow come out into a different dimension. They spend the episode discovering this and avoiding the authorities who are searching for them.

Another kind of cool thing about this show is the youngest family member's name is Smith.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Route 196 in Bus 179

Yesterday was a bad day. I was covering the 2nd school on a route and my bus came in contact with another vehicle's mirror. This is considered a preventable accident and carries a lot of consequences.

So I was suspended from driving today and I am no longer part of the Training Department. I am to report to work on Monday for re-training. Usually an accident is a mandatory 5 day suspension at minimum. That would cost me and my family far more than the damage done to that SUV's mirror. The conversation with my manager left me with the impression that he seemed to feel like I did this on purpose. I found that interesting.

I'm trying to fill my time with anything to take my mind off of this.

Some of the frustration I'm having is the reason I was covering the route. Apparently the regular driver wasn't able to do his 2nd school because... wait for it... wait for it... he had to go to the bathroom! I heard this today and I'm still not sure what it means. We had random mandatory drug tests for some drivers yesterday and I guess this driver was one of them and drinking a whole bunch of water caused him not to be able to drive his route. So they had him come back to base and go home to pee or something like that. So that was weird. The way that this is handled is dispatch calls me to head over to the school and do a route. Now usually when you do someone else's route you take their route copy that includes a map. Here I only had a list of stops and it's assumed I know my way around like google maps. I can manage through a route like that with no map. But having NEVER done this route before, my first time I'm constantly calculating where I am and where I need to go sorting through my memory of St. Paul WHILE keeping the kids controlled AND safely driving a bus through the streets of St. Paul. This no map detail just added to the load my attention was dealing with.

So for one moment I forgot this bus rides too far to the right or something.

I have no excuse in the end for hitting a mirror, but I feel that it does need to be mentioned that this whole thing happened in a transit style bus- the flat nose kind of bus. These buses ride differently than the regular conventional types. The driver seat is right up against the left wall of the bus and this causes drivers to drive more to the right I guess based on where you're used to riding in the road. I believe this was a major factor in the incident.

While on his route I had to contact dispatch over a kid who has been getting off at a stop all year that wasn't on the route copy. That was also weird and probably added to the strangeness stress of the day. Good that it was exposed finally, I guess.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jonny Quest

I've been sorting my comics downstairs over the weekend with varying piles around. Jack creeps around and runs his cars over some of them with a careful sense that dad wants caution, so it seems. He asks- "Whatsat, daddy?" as he examines the topmost comic. And I answer him.

He runs over to the futon in front of the TV saying something over and over. It looks like he wants to watch something but he's not saying "Clifford" or "Emily" or "T-Bone" or "Cleo" which is what he usually says when he gets to watch a show downstairs meaning Clifford the Big Red Dog. This time he was saying something like 'choneetrest' or something 'dressed'. So I went to him and said "what are you saying?" And he repeated it. Didn't help me much. I asked again and he said "Airpane in da sky!" Now I got it! He's saying Jonny Quest! That was the comic he was asking about just a minute ago. He remembered that title because we watched it a couple of times. Just a couple of times!

We watched a few episodes several weeks ago and stopped because it seemed to only lightly hold his interest. The show's intro has an airplane and that's what Jack remembered and communicated to tell me what he was talking about.

This was the best example I could find.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

I was driving a route in St. Paul today when I noticed colors falling out of the sky in my left hand mirror. I was unable to figure out what I was looking at. When I looked in the overhead mirror for a different perspective I noticed a couple of boys looking, too. Then I noticed what I had seen was a couple of pieces of paper. Garbage out the window is not something we can tolerate as its one of the bus offenses that actually violates the law! So I go to the back of the bus and ask whose paper it was. You can count on the other kids to always point them out. I tell him he needs to ride up front now because you littered on EARTH DAY! And the other kids had various reactions to this comment. Some reactions interesting.

We were about to get under way again when I asked the whole bus - "Raise your hand if you care about Earth day". One kid raises his hand. "Raise your hand if you DON'T CARE about Earth Day". Everyone raises their hands and shouted. I applauded them.

I think there is still hope.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


On my way home from the license bureau I stopped at Half Priced Books to flip through old comics, an activity I find therapeutic. I found 8 old Warlord comics I didn't have!

After entering them into the database I did a run on my comic collection statistics. Warlord is now the title I have the most issues of at 86 (of 133). Nearly 100% of those are purchases from Halfpriced Books or other cheap bins over the last couple of years. Also and a good deal of tracking which issues I already have has helped.

This month DC Comics re-launched the title! They attempted to launch a reboot of the series a few years ago and that was a complete fail. This new relaunch continues the original comic and is written by the same guy who created the book.

Warlord's setting is heavily inspired and pays heavy homage to Edgar Rice Burrough's Pellucidar series which is set in the Hollow Earth. Warlord has more fantasy and science fiction elements than that of Pellucidar. The original comic ran from 1976 till the mid '80s.

In the savage world of Skartaris, life is a constant struggle for survival. Here, beneath an unblinking orb of eternal sunlight, one simple law prevails: If you let down your guard for an instant you will soon be very dead.
—1st Issue Special #8

One man's trash is another's treasure. It's amazing what you can find in those cheap bins.


One week ago I returned back to the base having finished some St. Paul School route to discover the cabal of bosses thought I was driving and training people air-brake buses without having an air-brake endorsement on my license.

It appears that the State of Minnesota issued me a license granting me the privilege of driving air-brake commercial vehicles even though I was not trained or tested on them. For the first two years at Monarch Bus Service I correctly did my job having some recall about not having the air-brake endorsement and it wasn't until last August when I joined the training department that anyone even looked at my license. When I was in the process of becoming a trainer I correctly assumed I had to go test, but someone looked and saw that my license stated Restrictions: None meaning that I was OK to drive any school bus. So I figured I was mistaken. Alright then, I guess I am Ok to drove air-brakes.

Well the State's error surfaced and now its on me to correct it. This small fact has made the training schedule complicated as the training needs to be done on a vehicle I can't drive or take trainees out on until the problem is corrected.

I went to the test facility up on 35W and County Rd. I as per my friend/co-worker, Melissa's advice. I sat in the parking lot and read the whole air-brake chapter. Went in and aced the pretrip test and missed 4 of the 25 questions on the air brake test successfully passing that one, too. It felt good lifting that weight off my back.

Now I just have to do the Behind the Wheel test.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


It was a good Saturday. Jack and Leesha playing in the yard with the neighbor kids today.

It was a good Saturday. Jack and Leesha playing in the yard with the neighbor kids today.

Cara's folks came over so Cara and I could go on a date for dinner. My folks gave us a gift card to a place called Sgt. Pepper's. Great place, OK food, HUGE servings. We don't do that often enough. After dinner we drove around a bit and took a walk in a park down by Battle Creek. It was really nice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Leesha and I started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Posted Image

This is a series I've been aware of for as long as it has existed, but never bothered to explore. It always appeared to be some ninja cartoon that happened to have pretty good art and some imaging that resembled Miyazaki slightly.

What is this show about?
Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place in a fantasy world that is home to humans, fantastic animals, and spirits. Human civilization is divided into four nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Air Nomads, and the Fire Nation. Each nation has its own natural element, on which it bases its society. Within each nation exists an order called "Benders" who have the ability to manipulate the eponymous element of their nation. The show’s creators assigned each Bending art its own style of martial arts, causing it to inherit the advantages and weaknesses of the martial arts it was assigned. The Bending types are Waterbending, Earthbending, Firebending, and Airbending.
link to more...

Leesha and I have developed a tradition of sitting and watching a show together when we can. I use this as incentive for getting chores done as well as spending time with her in an activity that truly interests both of us. We've watched Nadia: Secret of Blue Water, ROBOTECH, Haibane Renmei, Last Exile, Dungeons & Dragons, Oban Star-Racers, Sarah Jane Adventures, and now Avatar: The Last Airbender.

We're 4 episodes in and this show is good. It's aimed at an audience of her age almost directly, but has enough fantasy mixed with realism to keep geek adults interested. So far I'm quite impressed. Impressed enough to start this thread.

Very Good Saturday

The last week was coming close to overwhelming. At work there are people in training. That means the training department is putting in 9 or 10 hours a day all week as we cover or evaluate morning routes and afternoon routes with training for 3 hours in between. Sometimes that even includes afterschool routes like it did for me on Monday. Thursday I sat on a Minneapolis charter route which clears around the same time as a St. Paul after school route. Then I have small group bible study on Tuesday night. And we had a small group church meeting Wednesday night. Very busy week. One nice thing was every moment I worked on Friday was overtime. So I needed a fun-no-work weekend.

That's what I got.

Saturday was gaming. D&D at Rob's house. When I got home it was Jack and Leesha and Hazel in the back yard (Hazel is our friend's dog we're sitting for the weekend). Cara grilled brats for dinner. Pretty good day.

After dark and after Leesha was ready for bed we watched the 3rd episode of our new show - Avatar: The Last Airbender. This is an American anime. Three episodes in and its proving to be very well made. It's targeted to Leesha's age, I believe, and has enough fantasy elements to be interesting for adults with that geek gene. We're both really enjoying this show a lot.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Easy Day and Lunch

I had lunch at Cecil's with a former co-worker at KSTP. We used to go to Cecil's after the morning and midday news and we both left 5 around the same time. Hadn't seen him for a couple of years and he looked good. Too long. Good people.

Easy day at work. During the AM routes they had me go out and observe other bus drivers which is a default task when all the regular drivers show up to work. Then I had said lunch. And for the PM routes they sent me out to stand-by, which is like what I did in the AM, but with out the observing. I'm just a set of wheels available if something goes wrong. And nothing did. I got to choose a flat-nosed or transit style bus. Those are fun to drive.

An easy day was what I needed, too. Because I'm sick AGAIN! This variety of cold is the ever-running flow of snot out of the nose along with more sneezing than I've ever experienced in my life. I wonder if this is actually allergies.

And I also found time to get comics today.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Woodland Hills Church Usher

Leesha has been serving Woodland Hills Church as an usher for about a month now. She helped collect the offering today at the 11:00 service.They have her in a purple vest and everything and they've given her a name tag. She's doing a great job, too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Backsliding In Communication

I wanted to mirror something I wrote on the other blog...
I think Jack is starting to backslide with his communication abilities, SOMETIMES. The kid is amazing and creative with the ideas he has for conveying a message. For example, Cara tells me he's running around the living room playing with a ball. She hears a noise, one of those noises that goes along with something bad. Before she could check what happened, Jack comes around the corner saying "Ooopity, flower"! It was obvious that his ball knocked over the vase with the flowers Leesha got for Cara. That's amazing.

However, I think he's collecting so many words in such a short period of time that he's simply overwhelmed by them and can't keep them strait. He used to point at the staircase and say something like "David, Gnome!" which was his translation for David the Gnome which is an animated television show I was showing him for a while. Or he'd say "Dolphins!" meaning the stain-glass mobile that hangs down by the bottom of the stairs. Jack and I often count all three of them when we get down there.

But lately when he tries to say something it is often babbling noise.

Just an interesting observation. He's sleeping at the moment of writing this blog entry, no doubt his little mind is sorting all the new words and images his eyes and ears took in today.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ultrasound Today

We had an ultrasound today and the tech said that she'd be surprised if it wasn't a GIRL! 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Drugs and Dollhouse and LOST and Battlestar

I got drugs today. After a week of pain in my teeth and pressure behind my eyes, I finally went to the clinic to find out if my sinus infection is bacterial or viral. After an hour I left with my drugs. Hopefully this will kick it's ass. At least I had good reading material with me.

I have been sick more days of 2009 than I haven't. This year has not been fun. Over the winter break I had that horrible sore throat with a fever. That eventually passed. As I posted in the last entry, Leesha passed something to Jack. Naturally, both Cara and I got it, too. Whatever it was, it got worse for us than it was for the kids, which is a blessing of sorts, I guess. Cara had/has it but it seems to be moving out of her system. Now for the last week I've had the said pain all around my face and teeth and an irritating caugh that doesn't help anything and can't seem to be avoided. It's gotten so bad that my caughing is also now gagging. So hopefully these anti-biotics will kick it out.

Cara and I watched Joss Whedon's Dollhouse tonight. I didn't want to like it as much as I did. I posted about it on Cinema Judge's website...
* this review contains spoilers*

We just finished watching Dollhouse this evening. With so little time I didn't want this show to be as good as it was. Foolish of me to doubt Joss Whedon. He is a master storyteller. Fantastic start. Dollhouse, if you noticed, is partially produced by the star, Eliza Dushku. I imagine it's going to be a challenging role for her as she will play many characters throughout the show.

All the standard characters are in place, Eliza plays the empty husk Echo who is programmed with personalities [of previously real existing people] and is sent out on whatever job a client needs. When the gig is done, she returns and is wiped clean, no memories. There is the ruthless and focused Adelle DeWitt (the not-so-hot-as-she-used-to-be Olivia Williams); the savvy computer nerd that explains things for us, Topher Brink; DeWitt's lapdog, Laurence Domonic, loyally do anything she says; Helo from Battlestar Galactica, Paul Ballard, who is an FBI agent on the Dollhouse case. My favorite character so far is the company's moral pillar, Boyd Langton- Echo's handler and ex-cop.

I think this show has so much potential. How many episodes will air before FOX kills it?

While this show starts, its seems like the production quality for LOST has started to slip. If LOST jumps the shark and if Dollhouse gets yanked by FOX (which happens to almost everything Whedon does) we'll still have our Battlestar Galactica.

Raising Sand

I purchased a CD for Cara for Valentine's Day. I got Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand. Didn't know much about it other than it won a lot of awards and we really like Alison Krauss and I like Robert Plant. It's a very nice album. I think my dad would like it, too.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Felt like running a bit of a game this evening. So I printed up a couple of pre-generated characters and gave them to Leesha and Cara. Tossed in a few goblins and we ran a skrimige using the True20 rpg system. I wanted to get familiar with the combat system and give the girls a feel for some more gaming. I think it was a really fun time. True20 is interesting at first. I think it will be smooth if we keep at it. Leesha was getting into it, cutting them down with her longbow. Cara's passive character was trying to achieve a hit. I had the remaining 3 roll a Will save and fail so they all ran. One got away, one got cut down. And one was wounded, begging fior mercy. So it was granted to him, and Cara's character healed his wounds. The encounter ended with that last goblin following the pair at a safe distance, now a loyal and amazed companion to the healer.

It's been a rough weekend. Leesha was sick last weekend and throughout the week. Now, all of a sudden Jack is sick, pretty much because Leesha can't keep her [dirty, germy] hands off of him. Poor guy. Killed the weekend. He is miserable and needs to be held. His cry sounds like a bark because of the crap in his lungs.


Related Posts with Thumbnails