March 24, 2007

I finished uploading the last of our Hawaii pics. Maybe one day I'll get around to putting the video on a DVD. To see the new pics just click here.

March 7, 2007

Well, we're in Hawaii now! Maui to be exact. We've been having a lot of fun snorkling, shopping, sight seeing and just being tourists. Unfortunately, Jennifer and Jodie spent too long in the sun a few days ago and they've been miserable ever since. Jennifer's back was actually blistering this morning. But despite all that we're all having as much fun as we can. To check out pics of our trip just click here.

January 16

I was able to get some pics of the Geekmobile today at the tow yard. It looked worse than I expected.

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January 14

I was on my way home from work Saturday evening around 9:45pm. I was on Kilburn Road traveling Northbound towards the Riverside intersection. The light was green and I was paying particularly close attention to the light because the speed limit is 55 mph and if it turned yellow I would need all the time necessary in order to stop. Well, it didn't change and I advanced into the Intersection. Another driver behind the wheel of a Buick station wagon was traveling Southbound on Kilburn. I don't know why she didn't look or notice me coming but she made a left turn in front of me. I had no time to react.

I felt no fear, only disbelief. What was this car doing in front of me? I couldn't remember seeing it turn into my path, it was like it had just appeared there out of thin air. Later I would assume that the driver was trying to beat the light and/or talking on a cell phone. She was a 17 year old girl after all and isn't that what 17 year old girls do? I stood on the break but with anti-lock breaks and less than a split second of reaction time I was probably still going 50+ mph when I struck her car on the front right fender. The impact was jarring, to say the least.

I don't think I lost consciousness but I was pretty shaken up. I glanced around to try to take inventory of the situation. I couldn't see the front of the car but I assumed it was pretty damaged because the hood had crinkled up like a candy wrapper in front of my windshield. The airbag had deployed out of the steering wheel and didn't look anything like I would have expected. Another one on the side near my left ear, one that I didn't even know the car had, had stopped my head from cracking into the window. I looked out my other window and was surprised to see that I had somehow ended up on the southside of Riverside facing the opposite direction I had been traveling. My rearview mirror used to be attached to a little hump on the cieling that displayed the time and temperature. The mirror, hump and everything had broken loose and hung limply by a pair of wires. The gallon of milk I had picked up earlier at a store had exploded and milk was everywhere.

A woman appeared outside my door and asked if I was alright. I told her I didn't know. I was in shock and if I had any serious injuries I probably wouldn't be aware of them immediately. My first thought was that I should dail 911. I couldn't find my wireless headset at first and then I saw it up on the dash well out of my reach. I asked the woman to hand it to me and when she did I noticed she was already on the phone with 911. I kept telling myself to remain as still as possible and not to move my head around. I put on my earpiece and dialed the number to Jennifer's phone. A strange voice answered.

"911. What's your emergency?"

I was confused, hadn't I dialed Jennifer?

"I'm sorry, I have the wrong number" I offered weakly. I hung up and dialed Jennifer again. The same voice was on the phone asking me the same question. Had I really dialed 911 twice? This time I just hung up and tried to gather my thoughts. I focused on what I was doing and dialed Jennifer's number one last time. Finally, to my relief, she answered. I told her about the accident and where I was. She said she was on her way.

I noticed the woman was off her phone and trying to get my attention. She informed me that I had some kind of fluid spilling from my engine onto the road. I unbuckled my seat belt in case it was gasoline. I would need to make a hasty exit if it caught on fire. About that time a police officer showed up and began asking me questions about my name, address and insurance. It was good to have to focus my thoughts so I could answer him and it helped clear my head. Shortly after that an ambulance showed up and whisked me from the scene. I called Jennifer again to inform her that I was on my way to SwedishAmerican Hospital. She said that she already knew. I had never hung up the phone and she had stayed on the line listening to my conversation with the police officer and EMT. Her and Kenneth were now following right behind the ambulance in Kenneth's truck.

The rest of the night was less eventful. They took me to the trauma room and cut off all my clothes. I was complaining about pain in my legs, neck and chest and they performed a series of tests and xrays to check for broken bones. After about 4 hours I was released from the hospital and we went to a 24 hour drive through pharmacy where I had my prescriptions filled. We finally got home around 4am.

I've included a video I recorded off of the evening news tonight that breifly shows some of the carnage. Their description of the accident is somewhat incorrect. The other driver was turning onto Riverside, not Springfield. Also, I hit her, she didn't hit me. But I think they said that to communicate to anyone watching the news that it was her fault. You can download the video here. The video is only 1MB in size so even those on dial up should be able to view it.

June 11

After a rainshower a spectacular rainbow could be seen. This has got to be the most complete and best visible rainbow I've seen in a very long time. Naturally, the camera's lens does not do it justice but you'll get the general idea from these two pictures. Click here to see the pics.

May 30

My sister Mandy and her husband Conny came to visit us over the memorial day weekend. We went to Chicago, shot at clay pidgeons and generally had a good time. Click here to see the pics.

March 10

On February 25th of 2006 a surprise 25th anniversary party was thrown for Kurt and Mary Baraconi (for those that don't know that's my father-in-law's twin brother). As they were married in Las Vegas we threw a Vegas style party for them complete with the famous "welcome to Las Vegas" sign and a "Viva Las Veggies" vegetable tray. In addition to that Adam did an impersonation of Elvis Presley for all on hand. You can view the video by clicking here.

PLEASE NOTE: This video is over 15MB in size so I recommend that it only be download by those with high speed Internet connections (it could take up to a half-hour to download on dial-up).

OCT. 9

Well, we're finally home. Sorry I didn't get a chance to update the web page sooner. We were so busy running and doing stuff I just didn't have time. So, I suppose you wanna hear what else I got, eh?

On Friday we attended a business meeting where we discussed our achievements and our future goals. At this 5 hour meeting some of the vendors showed up and introduced their new products hitting the market. One of them, Slingbox, informed us that we would all receive a complimentary unit. For those of you who don't know what a slingbox is it is a device you connect to your television and Internet connection that allows you to watch your t.v. from anywhere in the world over an Internet connected device such as a laptop or Internet ready cell phone.

That was pretty cool, but then Toshiba came in and asked "What good is a slingbox without a computer?". Then they informed us that they would be providing all of us with a brand new laptop! The whole assembly went nuts! We thought that was the climax of the event but we were wrong. A gentleman stood up and was handed a microphone. He said that his company had heard about all the stuff we were getting and they wanted to contribute to. He was from Panasonic. When he announced that the crowd exploded into applause again and it was sometime before he could finish his sentence. When he did he informed us that we would all be receiving a 20" Flat Panel LCD television! The place nearly came apart with excitment. Since it would be difficult to transport home they are shipping them to us.

I thought that was the end. What else could they possibly give away? Once again, I was wrong. That evening a letter was slipped under all of our doors instructing us to come down to the lobby the next day to receive a brand new Sony PSP (Portable Sony Playstation) and game. I could hardly believe it! I never thought I'd get to own one of these incredible little devices.

The awards dinner on Saturday night was catered. The food was excellent and every table had a big wig from the company at it. We learned a lot about the event from him. Turns out there were over 800 achievers attending this year. Including their guests and/or children that put over 1600 people there. The Royal Pacific Resort that we stayed in has 900 rooms and 800 of them were rented for us. An aditional 250 at the Hard Rock Hotel were rented for staff and event planners. I was also surprised to learn that Best Buy pays for very little of everything that we do. The vendors sponsor almost everything. The round trip plane tickets, the 3 day Universal passes, the hotel rooms, the cash, the food, the great prizes, etc., etc., are all provided by the vendors. Thank you vendors!!!

I've got a few pics to share with you. Check out these pics of Universal Studios by clicking here. To see a photo of some of the stuff I got just click here. This is by no means everything. I shipped home a 2'x2' box of junk and I am also awaiting the arrival of my t.v. But you get the idea. I estimate that I came home with between $3,000 and $4,000 worth of product. And that doesn't include the plane tickets, hotel room, Universal passes, etc. Thank you Best Buy!

Well, that's all for this event. I hope that I get to go again in the future. The next one is in March but if I win again I won't be able to go because that's when the baby is due. Oh well. Ta ta for now and I'll be typin' atcha ya'll later!

OCT. 7 - 6:30am

Wow, yesterday was a lot of fun. There were about 100 different vendors inside this huge convention center. We were all given a large duffel bag on wheels, much like you might take to the airport, and by the end of the day it was overflowing. I myself had it so full that product was spilling out all over the place and in addition I had a backpack from Toshiba that I had full of stuff. They had large 2'x2' boxes that we could ship stuff home in (the labels were premade for us and they paid for shipping and everything) and after stuffing that my duffel bag is still full. Good thing we can check it as baggage on the plane!

I got lots of software, a few pieces of hardware and lots of trinkets like t-shirts, hats, backpacks, etc. However, the crown jewel of the day was our Creative Labs Zen Microphoto MP3 device. It's an 8GB MP3 player and photo viewer that retails for about $250. You can use it as a flash drive, record off the microphone or the radio, store and view your photos on the color LCD, and, of course, use it to listen to your music. I don't even have 8GB of music on my hard drive at home!

Jackson Brown was very entertaining. The Hard Rock cafe is set up like a small theater and it was very up close and personal. He played for about 2 hours. But the coolest thing of the night was when Wally, the Home Theater area manager from our store, won a brand new Lotus! They drew 3 peoples names from everybody here in Florida from Best Buy and they each got a key. During the festivities each of them tried their key and his started the car!! On top of that they are sending him a $20,000 check to cover the income tax he would have to pay on the car!!!

Today we have what's labeled a "Business Meeting" and I hear that we're going to receive another great prize that's supposed to make both the digital camera and the MP3 player look like kids toys. I can't wait. In the meantime if you wanna check out a few pics from last nights activities just click here.

OCT. 6 - 5:30am

It's early in the morning and I have a 6:15am breakfast appt. but before I go I wanted to give you some updates about last night.

When we arrived at Universal Studios they ushered us into the Fear Factor Live stage where we were entertained by a show designed exclusively for Best Buy employees. The contest and all the audience were from Best Buy! It was pretty cool. Afterwards they released us into the "Streets of New York" section of Universal Studios where we had exclusive access to rides like "Twister", "Shrek", "The Mummy", etc. There were also many tables of food setup in buffet style throughout the park. It was great!

Today is the vendor show. The vendors are the ones who sponsor this event (companies like Sony, HP, Olympus, Toshiba, Logitech, Intel, Symantec, etc., etc.) and I hear we're supposed to get a lot of free stuff. I can hardly wait. Then tonight we go to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner and concert by Jackson Brown exclusively for us. Cool!

Well, it's time for me to shower and get ready. But before I go I wanted to leave you with a picture I took of the view from our hotel window.


OCT. 5

Well, we are now in Florida on the Best Buy sponsored trip I told you about (remember?). We just arrived and it's already a fantastic day. First of all, our flight was overbooked so they asked for volunteers to go on a later flight and they would reward them with 2 round trip tickets to anywhere in the contiguous U.S. to be used anytime in the next year. So we volunteered! We already have plans for these tickets so don't even request to purchase them from us! :)

We arrived at our destination only 4 hours later than projected by our original itinerary and there were still a lot of folks from Best Buy stores around the nation arriving also. They directed us to a bus which took us to the Royal Pacific Resort where we'll be staying for 4 nights. After signing in we received $240 dollars in cold, hard cash to use as spending money while we're here. Then they gave us a Nikon Coolpix P2 digital camera ($400 value) with a 512MB SD card to store the images on. On top of that there is a booth that will develop our pictures for free while we're here!

All this and we haven't even been here for an hour yet!! I'm sitting in my room right now typing up this info for you. Along with our room we received a 3 day pass to Universal Studios and they tell us that if we show our room key at any of the attractions there we will be whisked to the front of the lines (and there's no limit to how many times we can do this!) At 6:30pm this evening there is a buffet dinner in the "Streets of New York" section of Universal Studios (which I am also told we'll have exclusive access to until 10:00pm). This is so cool and I have 3 more days to go!

I'll do my best to keep you updated on a daily basis, probably updating the site every evening. Talk to you all when I get back!

SEPT. 20

In additional to being the 13th anniversary of my baptism one of our mares finally gave birth to the foal we've been waiting for. Her name is Crash because when she was a yearling she had a reputation of crashing through any fence you would put her in. We haven't named the foal yet but he's shaping up to be a real cutie. See a short video of him by clicking here. This footage was taken just hours after his birth.

JAN. 1

I nearly wrecked the Geekmobile! On my way home from Jennifer's parents house I was driving the speed limit (55 mph). It was after dark but the roads appeared dry. I came over a hill and saw brake lights and though the car was a ways ahead of me I could tell it was going very slow. I tried slowing down but as soon as I touched the brake the car started sliding...I was on black ice! The brakes were useless so I turned the wheel to try to get onto the gravel shoulder but then I just started sliding sideways down the road! Finally, I made it onto the shoulder where I skidded to a stop. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed I lost a hub cap. The next morning I went back to retrieve it but got stuck in the mud! I had to have someone pull me out. I got my hub cap back but look what happened to my car!

OCT. 27

Jennifer's cousin got married this last weekend and she got to make the cake for it. She did a fantastic job and everyone loved it. Not only did it look great but it tasted wonderful! For pics click on the links below. I tried to upload a virtual taste test but the server is having problems running it. :)

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OCT. 26

We just learned that next week the other congregation that shares our hall will be the host congregation for the Special Assembly day on Nov. 7th. Our congregation has been invited to the Kingdom Hall on Tuesday Nov. 2nd to share in the bookstudy and a talk by the District Overseer, Brother Wells. Brother Wells is a dynamic and warm speaker and I look forward to his discourse.

OCT. 24

Tonight Jennifer and I went over to Ken and Darlines house. I brought over some vodka and khalua to make black russians and Jennifer, Ken, Kenneth and I played Jax (Jax is a card game I invented. Click Here for more info about it). It just so happened that we had one of the most perfect games anyone could ever play.

The game is played to 10 points. Ken and I were on a team against Jennifer and Kenneth. We went on an 8 - 1 run against them and it appeared that it was going to be a short game. But then Kenneth and Jennifer went on a 8 - 1 run to tie the game at nine! The final round would determine the winner. We needed 7 tricks to win and they had to prevent us from getting them in order to beat us. During the final round we each had taken 6 tricks and each player had one card left. It had come to the final card of the final hand to determine the winner! Whoever took the last trick would win the game. I had a trump card in my hand and was certain of victory. We all laid down our cards and sure enough I was the only one with a trump card and so I began to celebrate. But then it was pointed out that Jennifer had played a card that froze the final trick so no one could take it. We were prevented from getting our needed 7 and they won the game!

I guess you had to be there but I was so excited (even though we lost!) that I had to tell you about it. :)