Thursday, December 25, 2008


It's now the very early hours of Christmas Day, 2008, and I find myself preparing to turn in.  Tonight was Christmas with Mom's side of the family, and Mom and Brad gave everyone their gifts.  To be quite honest, I'm not sure I could ask for anything more from Christmas this year, except maybe to spend some time at Dad's side family dinner tomorrow.  Still, even though I'll miss that, it's been a great holiday. 

Ryan received 7 new books from Mom tonight, from his favorite series.  In fact, 3 of the books continue a series he thought had ended, so he was utterly shocked when he opened the books.  On top of that, he got a few 'fun' things as well, including his first mini mag-lite. 

Allison got a gift card to one of her favorite Restaurants, plus a gift that I am still not even sure we should accept -- one of Grandma Dunn's Christmas ornaments.  You see, Mom has her entire tree decorated in ornaments that Grandma Dunn either made or painted (ceramics) over the years.  It's really beautiful, and I'm amazed that she was willing to share one with us this year.  It is really something special.

As for me?  I got several items from my wishlist, including 2 Alabama CD's, the 'Inspirational' album which contains mostly Christian songs performed by the boys, and the 'Livin, Lovin, Rockin Rollin', a set of 3 CD's with some of the great hits and a few never before released songs.  I spent quite a while paging through the book that comes with it, just reading some info about the Alabama boys I never knew.  I was really impressed with the set.  I haven't had the chance to actually LISTEN to it yet, but just reading the material, including background info about each song in the set, I love the set already.  Most of the songs I've already heard many times over, but there's a lot more to the set than just songs. 

In the morning, I expect Santa will have brought some great new gifts for Ryan, and then we'll stop by Dad's house on the way out of town.  We're heading to Galesburg for lunch with Allison's family, and then home for the night since I have to work Friday morning.  All in all, a busy holiday as always, but I can't remember one I've enjoyed more. 

Oh, one last thing.  Let me leave you with this link to a true Christmas classic, which should bring a smile to the face of most everyone under 60ish.  Enjoy this Christmas song.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An early start to Christmas

In order to avoid possible weather delays caused by this evening's storm, Allison and I left work a little early today to head out and visit family. Once we got to my Mom's house, I insisted that everyone there open presents from us right away. What can I say, I can't help but be excited to see others open what I've wrapped up for them.

So, Mom has a new Hearing assistance device which will hopefully help her hear the phone better. Allison was lucky enough to get a new Camera and a couple of her perrenial gifts, the Cookie Crunch candle. Ryan has already read 3 of his 4 new pocket adventure books, and is looking forward to playing the 2nd Edition Harry Potter Scene It game. Oh, and me? I scored pretty well too. I came away with the latest edition of one of my favorite book series (Uncle John's Bathroom Reader), Rascal Flatts Greatest Hits Volume 1, and an outfit for William that has tools down the front and 'Daddy's Buddy' on the breast pocket. All in all, a Very Merry Christmas.

And Christmas Eve isn't even here yet!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Is it Christmas yet? (Or, Gift Cards don’t make as merry a Christmas)

It’s been a while since I really found myself looking forward to Christmas.  For years, it’s just kind of snuck up on me, and by the time I was in the Holiday mood, Christmas dinner was almost over.  This year though, I’m actually looking forward to it.  I don’t think it’s because of the early winter weather.  Believe me, I’m plenty tired of shoveling the driveway already.  In the end, I think it’s because I’ve been doing more of the shopping this year.  Like most years, we don’t seem to have a lot of money for buying gifts this year.  Because of that, I’ve put a little extra time into thinking about what the best gifts are, and into searching for deals on the things I think people will like.  We won’t be giving out many gift cards this year, which is another reason I have enjoyed the shopping.  It is just so much more fun picking out a present for someone than it is giving them a 2.5x3” plastic card.  I’ve also been able to do the vast majority of my shopping without ever leaving the desk.  Between my Amazon Prime membership and free shipping promos from some other websites, I’ve been able to have many of the gifts shipped directly to my door at little or no extra cost.  It sure beats fighting the holiday crowds in stores!

There are a couple of people I have had a hard time buying for, because nothing really seems quite appropriate.  I might end up going with gift cards for them, just because I can’t find ‘the’ perfect gift.  For the most part though, I think I’ve got presents that really fit the recipient, and that they will enjoy. 

I spent last night wrapping some presents, and have more still to wrap.  Anyway, Allison normally handles much of our holiday shopping and most of the wrapping, decorating, and other prep.  I think by getting into some of it myself this year, it has really helped put me into the holiday mood earlier.  It’s great to pick out and wrap presents for people that are just for them.  I just can’t wait for Christmas, to see people open the gifts I’ve picked for them.  I hope they enjoy the gifts as much as I’ve enjoyed picking them out!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Website Updates

I've taken the time today to update some of my website. You might notice that some of the links to Firefox and the Google Pack are gone, and things like the videos sidebar have replaced them. The Search box at the top of the page, the videos sidebar, and the advertisements at the bottom of the page are all AdSense ads, which generate very small amounts of money for me whenever somebody clicks them. Eventually, that small amount will add up to $100 or so, and they'll actually send it to me! :) Seriously though, I picked videos for the sidebar from Improv Everywhere. They do some seriously impressive improvisational stunts. If you've not heard of them before, check out a few of the videos that are linked on the right side of this page. My personal favorite is 'Frozen Grand Central', but they're all good.

Another new feature is the "Followers" section on the right. You can now sign up to be a 'follower' of my blog, so you're sure to get updates when I post new entries, and maybe also help get my blog a little bit of notice. You can sign in with your existing Google or Open ID account, so Try it Out!

Anyway, with a new baby on the way, I'm once again going to make an effort to post blog entries here more frequently. We'll see how that works. For now, take a look around and try out some of the new features.


At this time of year, many people are asking you to give money to charity. The bell ringers are there for a great cause, and I'd definitely encourage you to toss something in the bucket, but I thought I'd throw out a plug for my favorite charity here. If you have the ability to donate something, please consider the EFF. The Electronic Frontiers Foundation fights to protect the rights of the people in today's digital age. If you're not familiar with them, chec out this cheesy 12 days of christmas page they put together to give you an idea of what they did this year.

I know money is tight for most people this year, so if you can't donate, that's OK too. Check out the EFF, make yourself aware of who they are and what they do, and remember to support their efforts in the future. They're protecting your rights and mine, and we need all the help we can get these days.