• 12.04.2010 1 Comment

    Nope, I’m not dead! But wow, it sure has been a long time since I’ve posted on here. It’s funny… when nothing is happening in my life, I post on a blog. When a lot is happening, I am too busy to post!

    Some things that have occurred:
    * I moved! I live in a new town now. The house is totally ready for a LOT of home improvement projects!
    * I did a ton of work on my old house (which is now rented), one day I’ll have to upload some photos.
    * Lots of camping trips, including probably the best trip I’ve ever taken this past summer.
    * Oh, and personal stuff too, but that doesn’t go here.

    I also have some “big plans” in mind for this upcoming year. We will see how it unfolds!

  • 03.20.2010 No Comments

    The past few days I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Although I believed I had a cursory knowledge of their history and contents, I have discovered my “cursory knowledge” wasn’t much at all.

    I’m working on a Wednesday night program for the youth group on them. The group has been working on an indepth Bible study program. This past week, there was some discussion about the Dead Sea Scrolls, and I didn’t have the knowledge to answer the questions. But now, I’m going to do a whole program on the scrolls. Really looking forward to it. I hope they enjoy it.

  • 09.08.2009 No Comments

    Saw an interesting story in New Scientist today. Evidently, scientists may have determined a way to genetically alter animals to no longer experience pain. The question raised in the article is what implications this may have on livestock animals.

    The argument is made that if cattle, for example, are no longer able to feel pain, perhaps there will be less ethical delimas related to factory-farming practices. (Think your meat purchases come from smaller farmers? “In the U.S., four companies produce 81 percent of cows, 73 percent of sheep, 57 percent of pigs and 50 percent of chickens.”) I would argue that even though one could eliminate the ability for an animal to feel pain, it does not mean that the animal should be treated in an inhumane way. This solution also does not address the significant impact factory farming has on the environment.

    Read more…

  • 03.03.2009 No Comments

    Yep. Someone actually studied the origins of belly button lint.

    Secret of Lint

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  • 12.15.2008 1 Comment

    I have finally fixed my contact page where it will actually contact me. I spent a little time changing up a standard script used by people to send email. I wanted to make it where it would not be so easy for people to send me spam. I have used this script on a website before but I would get several junk messages a week through it.

    Considering that most spam is sent by bots and not by real people, a few non-standardized changes should help out tremendously.  So if you want to send me an email through the contact form, make sure you follow the directions.  There are two checkboxes, one checked, one not checked.  It’s not likely a bot will uncheck one and check the other, but that’s the only way for valid mail to get to me.

    P.S. Yes, the contact form does work, so there is no need to send me a “does this work?” message!

  • 12.15.2008 No Comments

    This weekend, I purchased a couple more gallons of adhesive remover, and went to town.  The stuff is pretty expensive (25 bucks a gallon), and I probably will get one more gallon to finish areas that didn’t get clean.  So, it’s 100 bucks just to remove all the old flooring, but it will be worth it to ensure that the tile will adhere solidly for many years to come and will save me from the backbreaking work of scraping more and more.

    Floor after one gallon of adhesive remover

    Floor after one gallon of adhesive remover

    As you can tell, the remover works exceptionally well.  However, i missed the edges and in some areas the leftover pad and adhesive was too thick to remove with one coat.

    Floor after three gallons of adhesive remover

    Floor after three gallons of adhesive remover

    This is 75 bucks worth of clean.  You can’t see the whole room from this picture, but it is pretty large.  It is about 180 square feet.  So if I get one more gallon, I can brush it onto the areas that were previously missed and hopefully be left with a concrete-only floor.

    The guy who has been working on the ceiling and walls has finished his work as well.  I plan to (along with my mom and sister) get the priming done today so that it will be ready for painting.  I have guitar practice on Tuesday and youth on Wednesday, so I’m hoping to get the painting done by Thursday/Friday.  Which will mean the tiling can start this weekend!  It’s going to be cutting it close… but hopefully it will all be done before Christmas dinner.

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  • 12.12.2008 3 Comments

    For some reason, our family has had a recent tradition of wanting to take on some gigantic home improvement task around the holidays.  Last year, it was tiling the floor of a bathroom, the year before it was redoing the walls in that bathroom, and the year before that it was painting interior rooms.  The summer before that was repainting the outside of the house.

    This year is no exception.  Several years back, my parents’ had the foundation of the house propped up.  In the dining room, the ceiling had a severe crack that caused a whole section of sheetrock to hang down an inch.  There were also several cracks in the walls.  And the floor felt like it was crumbling beneath your feet.  Well, my mom decides it’s time to fix the room.  So she hires a guy to rehang the drywall, patch the cracks in the walls, and remove some really old and peeling wallpaper.  To do all this, everything had to be removed from the room.  This meant it was a prime time to also re-do the floor.

    So I pulled up the 30 year old carpet, and was greeted with a carpet pad that was completely glued to the concrete floor.

    Removing the Old Carpet

    Removing the Old Carpet

    You can see from the picture (besides my dorkiness) in the background is some parts of the pad that stuck to the concrete.  The black area on the other side of the roll of carpet is the pad that didn’t come up on that end of the room.

    I used a long-handled scraper to remove large chunks of the stuck on pad, but the adhesive was very difficult to remove.  So I purchased some adhesive remover which works fantastically.  I’ve used one gallon and I will need to use two more.  I plan to do that on Saturday or Sunday, to hopefully have a clean concrete floor ready for tiling by early next week.

    In the meantime, we still have to wait on the guy to finish his work. Then we will need to paint the room.  So far, we have not even pulled out any Christmas stuff because there is no room in the other areas of the house to put it since all the dining room stuff is currently out.  When my brother and sister-in-law come in from DC, hopefully we will have things done (or close to it).

    Anyway, things have been stressful lately, but doing something that just requires physical labor is helpful to make me feel productive and get my mind off other things.  I’ll post again when I have a picture of the floor completely cleaned.

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  • 11.23.2008 6 Comments

    This weekend I went on another backpacking trip. This time was more fun in that David (my usual hiking buddy), his wife Elizabeth, and their Uncle Mike went. The trail we covered is the Buckeye Trail and the East half of the Caney Creek Trail. The Buckeye trail is supposed to have some of the most spectacular views in Arkansas. David and I did this hike a while back, but the weather was foggy and rainy, which prevented us from seeing very far off the trail. This time, the weather was overcast and cold, which hampered some of the views, but we were at least able to see some overlooks. But MAN was it cold!

    On Friday night the temperature was around the mid-twenties. I pitched my tarp low to the ground and with one side flat to try to minimize any wind. Thankfully, there was very little wind. We stayed at the Shady Lake campground the first night. My feet got extremely cold during the night, but, otherwise, I was fairly warm.

    In my continual quest for going lighter when backpacking, I was trying out some new ideas for me to keep warm. My clothing consisted of: wool-blend socks, trail running shoes, mesh-lined nylon wind pants and quick-drying synthetic underwear. On top, I wore a quick-drying synthetic long-sleeve shirt and a wool sweater. I brought a wind/rain jacket made out of tyvek (a hazardous materials suit with the legs cut off). It worked surprisingly well in the wind. I also had a pair of cheap cotton gloves and a cheap wal-mart synthetic cap.

    On Saturday we got moving on the trail. We planned to cover 4.3 miles the first day (hike the Buckeye until it intersected with Caney Creek trail). The temperature was supposed to be in the 40’s, but it never got above around 32-33, so we decided to hike out the remainder of the trail (3.9 miles) on Saturday so we could all be in a warm bed that night.

    Trailhead

    Trailhead

    At the trailhead. It was sooo cold when we started especially because the wind had started blowing. We did not spend much time here before getting a move on so that we could warm up. I know I look like a fool. But this picture does show my new favorite component of my backpacking equipment: my trekking poles.

    Tyvek Wind/Rain Jacket

    Tyvek Wind/Rain Jacket

    Here’s a picture David took of me in my rain/wind jacket. It cost me all of 4 bucks and worked really well in the wind. It’s not very stylish, but I was pleased with the performance.

    Rock

    Rock


    There are some HUGE rocks on this trail.

    David's Head

    David's Head


    Here’s a picture I didn’t know David took. He knew my battery was dying and took this anyway. So I guess I should put it here.

    Frozen Plant

    Frozen Plant


    This plant, which is some sort of weed, is very interesting. We saw several of these. For whatever reason, the water freezing made ice come up the root of the plant and split it up the stem. Note that this picture was taken around 11:30 – noon, and the ice is still quite firm and not melting at all. So the temperature was still very cold.

    Katy Falls

    Katy Falls


    Katy Falls is a narrow waterfall that David and I visited the last time we came. It’s fun to look at, but it would have been better if the day was warm! The fall is at the end of the Buckeye trail, but I stuck it before the next shots because I wanted to end with some nice overlooks of the Buckeye.

    Elizabeth, Mike, and Me at an Overlook

    Elizabeth, Mike, and Me at an Overlook


    Now for some pictures of the overlooks we did actually see. Here’s Elizabeth, Mike, and me posing for a picture.

    Overlook

    Overlook

    David and Elizabeth

    David and Elizabeth

    This final picture is by far my favorite shot. This was taken by David. I think this shot is what makes me want to give this trail one more chance. I just know that if we ever go on a clear sunny day, the views will be breathtaking.

    Nice Shot

    Nice Shot

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  • 11.19.2008 2 Comments

    I know I said I wouldn’t put drama on here… but it’s not real specific, so I’m counting it as a compromise.

    Sometimes, life sucks. Last week was an extremely stressful week. I had all kinds of family problems and relationship problems. This week, the family problems have gotten worse. Left my parents house extremely upset tonight. Just sent my mother an email that wasn’t “ugly,” but was pretty forceful about some things. I’ll probably regret sending it later.

    Oh well. It’s times like these I’m glad that time just keeps marching on…

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  • 11.03.2008 6 Comments

    Spent the weekend doing some backpacking in Kisatchie National Forest outside of Natchitoches, LA. Had a really good time, even though my usual backpacking partner couldn’t go. So it was me and my dog Luke. I ended up covering about 8.5 miles the first day due to having to abort on my original idea for a camping spot. But it was ok. I got these new hiking poles… and my speed increased dramatically. I always thought the idea of using them was kinda crazy, but they really work well.

    Here are some pictures:

    Backbone Trail - Kisatchie National Forest

    Backbone Trail - Kisatchie National Forest

    This is a picture I took early on the first day. Luke was really excited and ready to go. The trail itself was unusual in that the trail in areas was very sandy and lots of rock outcrops existed. I don’t know of many places in Louisiana that would look like that. There were also tons of Longleaf Pine trees, which were a nice treat. They have extremely long needles and huge pine cones.

    Crooked Tree

    Crooked Tree

    I thought it this tree looked exceptionally unusual. I think it speaks to the determination of life; even if one is deformed or may have limitations, striving for that life-giving sunlight continues on.

    New Best Friend

    New Best Friend

    Luke walked right past (perhaps right on top of) this Water Moccasin. This snake was truly pissed. I wish I had recorded video to show just how loud it was hissing. It was sucking in air and hissing it out so forcefully, you could see it’s head change shape with it. A truly amazing encounter. It was frightening as well, because Luke had passed it and I had no easy way around. Luke was going to walk right back to me (over the snake) and probably get bitten. So I had to holler at him to go away and stop many times as I hacked my way through some thorns to get around the snake (it was so angry I did NOT want to attempt to move it off trail with a stick).

    Room With A View

    After covering a bunch of miles, it was nice to reach camp. This was the view from camp that evening. I was looking out to the East, so I knew I would have a spectacular view in the morning.

    Can You Spot the Lizard?

    Can You Spot the Lizard?

    This little guy was really curious. As I was resting at camp, he came down the tree and watched me for several minutes. He even came off the tree to come closer to me, but I moved and he quickly went back up again. But he continued to watch me until I went to do other things.

    Good Morning Sunshine

    Good Morning Sunshine

    Here’s what my morning looked like. Absolutely gorgeous. You don’t get to see many sunrises like this in a lifetime. After taking a few shots and absorbing the morning for a bit, it was time to move on to find water and get back home.


    This is the water source. It was a pretty clear-running stream, despite the look of it. Luke had a great time splashing around, running up and down the sand “beach,” and throwing splashes of water and sand all over me.


    Pretty soon I was off the trail, and it was time to head home. I did meet a road traveler about a minute after leaving the trailhead parking lot. He was moving pretty fast, like he had somewhere to be. And, so did I, so I left him and went on home.

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