Sunday, October 10, 2004

Meeting Jeff

I had just written this really long post, and lost it. So, here's the short version:

While I was in Springfield, Alie and I got to meet Jeff Cook, of the Alabama band. He's such a great guy, as laid back as can be for someone who's reached that level of fame. Below you'll find a link to his message board, where you can find out more about him, Alabama, and his new band AGB.

The Jeff Cook Message Board

And, Here's a picture of Jeff and I, and one of Alie and Jeff. (Yes, I was a bit nervous sitting next to him...)


Unfortunately, the pictures I promised of the alabama concert have been delayed. It seems I've misplaced the cable which connects the camer to the pc to view pictures. As soon as I locate the cable, I'll post any pictures that turned out.

FWIW, it was a great concert. Amazing to think that Alabama, one of the greatest bands of all time, will be no more in less than a week. The final concert of the 'An American Farewell' Tour is coming up, and after that the band is retiring. Some will go on to their own projects, others will just get on with the lives they've put off while they were entertaining us for the last 25 years. It's a well deserved retirement, but a sad one none the less.

Have you heard of this Dave Ramsey guy?

Over the last couple of months, I've found myself listening more and more to this radio show, 'The Dave Ramsey Show'. I started picking it up on XM Radio, but more recently have canceled the XM subscription and listen to him on the web.

Dave has helped me come to a real awakening, regarding my financial situation. He talks about money, but not in the typical 'stock talk radio' style. This is about my money, your money. Personal finance. The advice he gives is so simple, when you hear it, it's like, 'Duh!'. But wait... If it's that simple, why is it so many people don't follow it. For example... His answer on how to get out of debt and even build wealth is to "live on less than you earn." Simple, yes? But most people don't do it.

Following his program, I already feel like I am much more in control of my money, and my life. I have a plan, and a goal. Everything is done in baby steps, so the plan is easy to follow. Hey, if Dave can get a spender like me (who ALWAYS has to have the latest and most expensive toys) to cut back, get on a budget, and have a plan for what I'm doing with my money and my life, he can do it for anyone.

You can listen to his radio show live from his website by clicking the 'Listen Now' button on the top right hand corner of the front page. Then click on either the windows media link if it's between 1-4pm CST, or on the 'archives' link outside of those hours. You'll find archives of his most recent shows available to listen to 24 hours a day.

Dave's way (Live life debt free, spending only what you can afford to spend, not borrowing money for anything, not even a car loan) may sound crazy, but if your way hasn't been working, what have you got to lose by trying it his way for a while? - Dave Ramsey - Beat Debt... Build Wealth

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Ryan goes to the fair

Our neighbor lady volunteered to take Ryan to the fair yesterday with her kids. He came back hours later, happy as could be, with an inflatable spider man and a photo of him riding an elephant. Here's the pic:

And here's a close up of ryan's cheezy grin. Seems like he was rather enjoying himself...

Thursday, June 17, 2004


An interesting experiment, this.

What do you call a convenient, web based email account with the ability to search and filter email with all the accuracy and precision of the web's greatest search engine, and so much storage you never have to delete an email message?

Email, google style.

at you can get an email account, if you're lucky enough to have an invitation, which does just that. This new email service has sparked a lot of controversy though from privacy advocates. One of the premises of google's email service is that it scans your emails and presents ads to the right side that are relevant to the particular email you're reading. Some people are concerned this could lead to information on your private thoughts and messages being sold to other companies. While google has long promised to 'do no evil', can they be trused with this kind of personal information?

I say yes. When you consider that all email is already pre scanned before you read it, or at least can be, does it seem so bad for a company who openly and honestly declares their intent to do so?

After all, email is already pre scanned for viruses by most email servers. Then Pre-scanned word by word to determine the contents of the message. Didn't realize this happened to your mail? How else do you think yahoo or hotmail or ABC email host determines what messages go into your junk mail folder?

And your work email gets even less privacy. Employers have the right to actively scan and read your company email at will, and many do so regularly. Information in these emails can and has been used to fire people.

Is loss of job not a bigger hazzard than being forced to view ads which you might actually want to see, placed just out of the way of your main email window?

The interface google uses seems much more advanced than that of most web mail hosts. I find it to be much faster than any other webmail host I've used because it actually uses an activex script, so much of the work is actually done on your PC rather than on the web server then sent back and forth.

While I was a bit worried at first that there were no folders to organize my messages into, I found the 'label' feature to work as well, if not better. While it gives you the same concept of organizing all mail from one subject into a category, it also allows you to have more than one label assigned to any given email. This way, if I get an email which contains information about my vacation time at work, I could label it as both business and personal since it does pertain to both.

Also, gmail sorts email into threads, or conversations. This means if I've got an ongoing conversation with someone or a group of someones on the same topic, replying to the same original message, it shows just the topic, and as I click on it I can see all the messages, in order, that are part of the thread.

While Gmail is currently available by invitation only, and in testing, I think it's ready for prime time. I've submitted a few suggestions, but I can't think of any missing must have features. Want a gmail account? You can beg for an invite at, or ask someone you know has gmail to invite you.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Harry Potter 3

Today I spent a good portion of the afternoon watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. After dropping off my son at his grandmas for a few days (Yes, I went to this 'kid's movie' without my kid) I dropped my ferrets off with family and went to the theater for over two hours of entertainment.

It's been some time since I've read the book on which this movie was based, but it seems to have followed the storyline very well. The special effects were very well done, especially the scenes involving the Hippogriff and the animagus and werewolf transformations.

While I don't think Hermine looks much older than she did in the earlier movies, I definitely see a difference in the ages of the actors playing Harry and Ron. I can see how they might get one more movie out of these same actors, but beyond that unless the books and the movies are released in a more rapid succession, I can't picture these same people looking the part for much longer. Each movie details roughly a year in the life of the characters, but it seems that the movies are coming out about every 2 years or so. And while there are 2 books already published which have yet to be the subject of movies, the author J.K. Rowling takes her time writing a quality product and is taking over two years to release each new book.

All in all, this was a pretty good movie. As a ferret owner, I found it a bit disturbing that the Hippogriff was fed dead ferrets several times throughout the course of the movie. However, the feeding scenes do promote realism and are very true to the original book, so I can't complain much. Certainly a mythical creature like a Hippogriff would be a meat eating animal, and I suppose a ferret would make as good a meat as any to such a beast.

For those of you who have kids, and those of you who still are, I'd certainly recommend this movie. Of course, be sure you've watched the first and second movies, and I recommend reading the books as well before seeing the movies. This lets your imagination run free. After watching the movies, it's easy to picture those scenes as Warner Bros showed them, rather than how you might imagine them yourself based on the detailed descriptions in the novels.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

More Pictures

Here's a few more pictures from this weekend's festivities. Excuse the quality, some of these didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.

The Screaming Eagle is one of Ryan's favorite rides. Unfortunately by the time we thought to take a picture of him on it, the ride was closed due to severe weather warnings. So, we did the next best thing. This is him modeling at the sign and demonstrating his riding style in a non-motion car.

What a crazy ride that was!

Here's a picture of the arc, and a closeup of Ry next to it. Amazing how big that thing is...

Yet another picture of the Budwagon

And the tanks where the rice and grain are mashed and cooked to later be turned into Budweiser. This was the only picture of the actual brewing process we were allowed to take, unfortunately bottling and aging pictures were not allowed.

Monday, May 31, 2004

First Vacation Pics

Here's the first few pics from our weekend trip:

This is the Budweiser Wagon and one of The Clydesdale horses, as well as a picture of the stall in which he is kept.

This is a picture of the arch, and of ryan standing next to it.

Hopefully will have better pictures coming soon.

Memorial day fun

If you haven't been to the brewery tour, you should really stop next time your in St. Louis. It's amazing to stand in a room with 23 million gallons off Budweiser aging overhead. And to see 1950 cans coming off the line EVERY MINUTE really puts things into a new perspective.
From the brewery, its almost a straight shot to the famous Arch. If you have a skilled navigating team like we did, you still might Get lost trying to park. We ended up in Illinois.
While we didn't get to go up in the arch due to time constraints, we did get up close and personal, so Ryan could get an idea of just how big the monument is. Again, I'll post pictures later.
All in all, we had a pretty good weekend. We managed to stop for lunch and get back on the highway without getting lost. We might even make it home without too much trouble. We'll see.
I'll post pictures of everything when we get home, as well as whether or not we got lost on the way.
I hope you had as nice a memorial day weekend as we did.

What a weekend!

This weekend we took a short trip to St. Louis. Having 3 full days for the trip really gave us a chance to take our time and enjoy ourselves. It also gave us a chance to get lost about a dozen times. While a storm cut our Sunday activities short, we still found time for fun and relaxation. Saturday we took our time getting here, and missed an exit on the way. On the up side, I figure we only lost an hour or so as a result, and we saw some different scenery on the way.
After a few hours in the waterpark and a spin on each of Ryan's favorite rides (The Joker and The Screaming Eagle) we decided to head out and get lost on our way to a relaxing evening at the hotel. We also spent Sunday at Six Flags, but left early because tornado warnings had shut down all the rides. While leaving the park we decided to try and find a grocery store and got lost again on the way. (And again later that night when we ran out of bread in the hotel room.)
Monday was a day for visiting other local attractions and once again for taking it slow and easy. Allison and I wanted to see the Anheuser-Busch brewery, and get Lost on the way. Unfortunately, the hotel actually gave good directions this time, so we found it with little trouble. (Except that when we got there Allison missed the entrance, so we had to drive around the entire 70 blocks the brewery sits on to get in.)

Well, Allison is bugging me to come eat lunch, but there's more to come, including pictures!

Saturday, May 29, 2004


Veteran Pillsbury spokesman, Pop N. Fresh, died yesterday of a severe yeast infection. He was 71. Fresh was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Many celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, and the Hostess Twinkies. The grave was piled high with flours, as long-time friend Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy, describing Fresh as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Fresh rose quickly in show business, though his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half baked schemes. Even as a crusty old man, he was considered a roll model for millions. Fresh is survived by his wife. They have two children and one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 10 minutes.

Source: Uncle John's Unstoppable Bathroom Reader

Monday, May 24, 2004

Why run 5 different IM programs when one will do the job?

Here's a useful little app I think everyone ought to have. Or at least everyone who's been around on the net long enough to have two, or three, or four different IM programs and logins.

Trillian is a free program (with an upgraded Pro version) which allows you to log into all 4 major Instant messaging systems and IRC, with only one client.

Not only does this help clean up your system tray, but you have all your contacts in one list. Helpful icons show which service that person is using. With the Pro version, you can even create 'meta-contacts', which show One icon on the contact list for a given person's many IM identities. For example, I could create one 'meta-contact' called 'Brad' which would have brad's ICQ, AIM, MSN, and Yahoo messenger identities in it. If brad logs on to any one, or all, of these services, his metacontact will show online, but only show one contact no matter how many services he's logged into.

For those of us who've been using IM since ICQ was the only game in town, this is a real breakthrough to be able to get 'back to basics' by using one program to handle all of our IM needs.

Cerulean Studios: The Creators of Trillian and Trillian Pro IM Clients

Friday, May 21, 2004

Everyone welcome Chewie!

Just back from the local PetCo store, meet Chewie, our latest addition to the Whitcher family. Chewie and Rocky are very close in age, we estimate Rocky to be about 13 weeks and chewie to be 11 or 12 weeks old. As a result, they'll be sharing a room. Or rather, a cage in the corner of my room. (And, the rest of my room when its safe to let them run free.)

Another new family member!

Allisn, Ryan and I fell in love with Rocky so much, we've decided he
needs a friend! We're at petco now picking one out. Pictures and a
name to come when we get home!

Sunday, May 16, 2004

How do you complain about poor service?

These guys were apparently really unhappy with the service at this hotel.  What a way to complain!

Call your ISP's tech support lately?

It still amazes me how often I call support, or my credit card company, or any other large company, and speak with someone thousands of miles away. I've gotten people in India, Philippines, and various other countries of the world. Usually you get someone with an accent so thick you can only understand about every 3rd word. Then, to make matters worse, the people in these jobs are trained how to answer phones, but often don't fully understand the nuances of the job. Either don't have the technical knowledge that one expects from tech support, or don't understand American culture enough to handle some situations, or so on. It's nice to see I'm not the only one who's noticed...

Scamming a Scammer

Here's an interesting (and long) story. . . It seems this guy got one of the scam emails from nigeria offering to transfer millions through your bank account. In the end, he scammed the scammer for about $41.50. . . About time these guys get a taste of their own medecine!

Welcome to the 419 Eater

Saturday, May 15, 2004

More Info on Ferrets

For those who aren't familiar with what a friendly, loving pet a ferret can be, check out this web site. It has lots of details on care and ownership of a ferret, and a FAQ for the un-initiated.

Domestic Ferret Information Site Ferret Proofing and Care

A New Addition!

We've recently added a new addition to our family. Meet Rocky the Ferret. Rocky was adopted from the local Petco store, and has quickly become a well loved member of the family. While he doesn't get out of the house much, he loves to run around the living room and play hide and seek. Not bad for an 11 week old, eh?

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Infocom - Zork Downloads

One of my very early pc gaming experiences was exploring the underground empire of Zork at my uncle's house on a commodore 64. I've seen the ibm versions around a time or two, and have played the newer games that came out later, with fancy graphics and all, but haven't played the original zork in years. This text based game is still challenging and addicting all these years later. Experience one of the greatest games of all time for yourself. Download a free copy of the first 3 zork games here, but be sure and warn your family before you start playing, it'll surely be a week before they see you again.

Friday, January 30, 2004

What will you do to save a few bucks?

Sometimes, people just blow my mind. Like many, I work in a customer service oriented job. Every day at work I hear stories that would amaze most people. One thing that really gets me is what people will do to save a few bucks. I had someone call in today, sit on hold for 15 minutes to speak to me, and will then proceed to argue with me for another 15 that their statement is $1.30 higher than it should be. I don't know about you, but my time is worth more than $2.60 an hour.

Others will spend hours calling over and over, trying to get ahold of someone who will give in and give a few dollars credit on an account just to shut him up. What people often don't realize is that each phone representative who takes a call leaves notes on the account which all other reps can see. One or two notes about an irate customer doesn't raise many flags. A string of half a dozen notes, all about a customer yelling for credit, all within a couple hours time, and suddenly a customer will not get credits, or sympathy, from anyone he speaks with.
Welcome to Steve's Life. Here you'll find random thoughts, and things I find interesting. Perhaps you will too. Or, Perhaps not?