Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year

Amy and I are headed to her folks for New Years. We'll actually be having a bit of a Christmas celebration with her family as well. Ten adults, six children, one small house. Should be fun!

Hope everyone has a very happy new year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Semi-Secret Agent Trainer Man

So, the interview was today. They hired me on the spot and said I'll get to negotiate my salary later. I have a few more papers to fill out, but Bernie the task lead and Bobby the DB guru said they are looking forward to working with me.

The job itself hearkens back to what I used to do in the Air Force and for Lockheed Martin. Of course, I had a Top Secret/SCI/SSBI clearance back then, but I'll have at least a Secret this time because of the nature of the work.

First off, I'll be the lead trainer in charge of all the training development, standards, evaluations, education, etc. I have never been as excited about a job.

I just typed what I'll be doing, then I deleted it. I'm a little reluctant to post it, but let's say we'll be handling some matters of national security.

Thanks for all the prayers and support my friends. We are ever thankful for you all and our Father even more.

Say a prayer of thanks to God!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Brewster's Enter the 21st Century.

Amy has recently taken a teaching position at DePauw University in beautiful Greencastle Indiana. Unfortunately her pay grade is not nearly enough for us to afford a move to beautiful Greencastle Indiana which means my wonderful wife will have to commute. It is about an hours drive and as such we have decided to join the 21st century and get a mobile phone.

That's right, the Brewsters are getting a cell phone.

I despise the idea, but I despise the though of my wife being stranded on Indiana highway even more.

The thing is, we know absolutely nothing about mobile phones. We're pretty much tried to ignore there obnoxious existence until now. So, I'm calling on you, my cellular friends to give me some run downs. The main things I'm curious about are:

Brands: Any opinions on which services are better? Cingular? Sprint? T-Mobile?
Types: Flip phones? The chocolate thingy?
Plans: What plans have you found the best?

We shouldn't need too many minutes as we don't really use the phone all that much. My understanding is pretty much all plans now have the free long distance nation wide, but that's more of a guess than actual knowledge. But if this is not true, then we'd definitely want a plan that included free nation wide calling. Actually we'd want cheap international calls too.

We don't really need all the fancy doohickeys, but I'm totally for camera phones and .mp3 players. But I'm guessing that all has to do with the actual phone and not so much the plans.

Texting I can live without, but I'd definitely like some kind of internet options.

I'm probably sounding like such a doofus with this information as it is probably all self-explanatory, but again I've completely ignored all cell info to this point. All info is absolutely asked for.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Boston Tea Party... Celebrate it this Saturday...

History has always been a bit of a passion for me, particularly the history of the United States... Sure we pretty much screwed the natives later on, and had a horrible civil war (essentially because of what we now call "the Feds"), but thinking of the gutsy nature of the colonists who thumbed their noses at the King of England is really very inspiring... And at the same time very sad that we Americans today take a tax increase with a shrug and a rolling of the eyes... Colonists literally died to keep the money they worked for.

On December the 16th of 1773, what we now call "The Boston Tea Party" occurred. Many people think of this event and can only come up with " A bunch of trick or treaters dressed as Indians tossed a bunch of tea into the harbor." I am blogging this to tell you why, and to help you appreciate it and our history.

You've heard the phrase "Taxation without representation." What's that mean? Okay, when these dudes left England to colonize "America", they were really still part of England. England had parliament (Kindda like our Congress). Everyone had a "representative", except the colonists. No one in parliament represented the colonists, so they kind of felt like they weren't subject to being taxed. I mean, how could people vote to tax them when no one represented them to argue for or against it? The biggest issue these colonist dudes had was the Stamp Act. Anything printed on paper was taxed. Here is the rub; the colonies were taxed 5 times the amount the folks in England were taxed for paper goods... Essentially, this pissed them off.

England loved tea. It was imported from China to the rich folks there. You and I pay 5 to 10% sales tax on things we buy. Tea was taxed 119%. England eventually lowered the tax and everyone was able to afford tea... So they "allowed" China to import to the colonies... And in turn, get some tax money from the colonies.

So the night came that 3 ships packed with tea arrived in Boston. This rag-tag group of dudes called "The Sons of Liberty" met in a pub, drank a few pints, damned the King to hell a few times, then decided to dress as native Americans (to avoid punishment from someone identifying them) and snuck onto these ships. They were not going to let England get any tax money from the sell of this tea by golly! By 9 p.m., they had opened 342 crates of tea in all three ships and had thrown them into the harbor. They took off their shoes, swept the decks, and made each ship's first mate agree to say "The Sons of Liberty had destroyed only the tea", they were met with almost no resistance except for the first mate of one ship who fought valiantly taking out the eyes of several of the residents. The next day, they sent someone around to fix the one padlock they had broken.

England reacted by closing the port of Boston. Some copy-cat groups burned other ships carrying taxable goods in other harbors... As far as tea drinking itself was concerned, many colonists, in Boston and elsewhere in the country, pledged to keep from the drink as a protest. May be why we drink iced tea more often in America...

So this Saturday, make some tea and think about what a luxury it once was in England and the colonies... or, grab a tea bag and throw it into the trash can as a "nod" to some of the framers of this country. And next time the price of stamps go up, or your senator votes to raise your taxes, notice the difference in your reaction and how the "Sons of Liberty" would have reacted. This ain't America the Free anymore.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jamie Toons

I would appreciate if all would visit this site and find mispellings and such. And even offer advice as to the look and feel of the site. Am willing to change most of it if need be.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Blockbuster VS Netflix

I have been a member of the online DVD rental community off and on now for several years. For the longest time I went with Netflix because, well at first they were the only ones around, but even later because they had the greatest selection and seemed to treat their customer’s with a well pleasing service.

A few months back I switched to Blockbuster, and I don’t see myself turning back.

Here’s the rundown.

Blockbuster has essentially stolen Netflix’s game plan from them so both services are nearly identical. You choose a plan which consists of how many movies you want out at a time. For example I am on the 2 at a time plan which means at any given time I have two movies “out” (this doesn’t necessarily mean I have them in hand for this count also involves mail time. For this it costs me about $17 a month.

Both services have similar queues wherein who select the movies you want to watch and then as returned movies are turned in, the next movies in your queue are mailed out. Due to popularity of certain titles, an item in your queue may not be available when it hits the front of the line. Both services make not of this on their queues and will then send out the next available flick. I have noticed that Blockbuster has a tendency to send the movies in my top ten a little out of order even though none of them are listed as unavailable. Though I’m not sure why this is, it really isn’t too bothersome to me since I’m not that particular.

From my location and my calculations both services are comparable in terms of how quickly they process returns and send movies out. On average I receive a new movie five days from the time I have returned it.

In terms of selection Netflix gets the prize. They, by far, beat Blockbuster with number of movies in their archives. They also do not place any restrictions on ratings (Blockbuster doesn’t allow NC-17 or X rated films.) Neither company supplies pornography or “Adult” films.

So, why did I choose Blockbuster? Because they give you free in-store rentals. Before a few weeks ago they gave me 1 coupon per week to rent a movie from their physical stores. With my normal online rentals averaging out to two movies a week added with the 1 coupon per week I was receiving approximately 12 movies per month. At less than $20 per month this was already a big bargain.

Blockbuster has recently changed their terms and now instead of mailing the movies back to them you can simply return the DVDs to any Blockbuster store. Once turned in they automatically send out the next movie in my queue thus upping the amount of movies sent to me per month. Also each time you turn in a movie, you may rent one from the store. Thus, even with my old average of two movies per week I’m now doubling the amount of movies I rent from the store, and with the improved mailing times this may even triple. That’s 16-20 movies a month!

Well worth it in my book. I will probably even drop my selection to one movie at a time for $10 which will still see me receiving 12-16 movies per month.

It is a no brainer for me. Now I know most of you are probably now thinking to yourselves that there is no way you could watch that many movies in a month. The reality of the situation is that you don’t have to. With the online rentals there are no due dates or late fees. You can keep the movies as long as you want. With my DVD burner I tend to maximize my movie gathering and money saving potential by turning them in the day after, but you can certainly be more leisurely about it. Even if you take the $10 one at a time option and only watch 4 movies, you’ve still saved yourself money over watching those same movies with regular rental prices.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The HOLY COW Jumped Over the Moon

I'm sorry, Brew, but I had to blog this:

I was outside hanging Christmas lights after Wed night class tonight after the boys had gone to bed, when my wife sticks her head out the back door and says, "Josh, NASA just emailed and they want you to work for them..."

I asked her to repeat what she'd just said. She said it again and I asked if it was a joke or SP@M or something...

"Nope, this guy emailed you for real."

I finished up the lights and walked in, still not sure about how real this email was. When I got to the computer, there it was:


I came across your resume in our database and wanted to reach out to you to see if you are open to relocation to Huntsville, AL. We have a position working with NASA as an instructional design consultant that I thought you might be an excellent fit for based on your background. If you are interested please let me know and I will give you a call to discuss in more detail.

Ummmm, what the heck!?!?

This is NOT a joke. This guy is serious. He works for a company called Booz Allen Hamilton who contracts to NASA among other government entities. I told him to call me to discuss it tomorrow afternoon. Only thing is, we'd have to move to Huntsville. I called my Mom and she said that if it were her, she'd HAVE to check it out. Rachel and her folks agree.

And, after all, just because I check it out doesn't mean I have to take it. Right?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Filmmaking eBay Style

Just thought I'd throw this out there; it looked like something some of you would be interested in. "The eBay Model Goes to the Movies"

Apparently, Google has created a new site on which anyone can sell video or film, auction-style, with ratings.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Librarian And The Sweet Dairy Products

I admit it. I have a great fondness to adventure stories – specifically Indiana Jones-esque adventure stories that involve looking for ancient, secret treasure. This should explain why my wife and I sat this Sunday evening watching The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines.

While my wife watched, she also searched the kitchen for something sweet – anything would do cookies, ice cream, pie. She chastised me for having not picked up any such thing on my visit to the grocery store earlier in the day (silly me, I bought non essentials like milk and chicken.) She then started to crave a Steak and Shake milkshake which is when I started to pay attention.

There is a Steak and Shake a few measly blocks from our abode, and I have to admit they make a mean shake. Suddenly I was craving a little ice cream, vanilla and maybe a hint of caramel.

The problem was we were both bedded in for the evening and tucked into our flannel pajamas. Though in this college town we wouldn’t be looked at twice for stepping out in pajama pants, that’s just not something we do in this family.

So we made a deal. Next commercial we’d change, then the following one we’d make a mad dash for the shakes.

Now the thing is I wear my pajama pants a little free in the undercarriage, if you catch my meaning, and I wasn’t prepared to equip myself with a clean pair for but minutes in the car. Thus I stuffed my khakis over my flannel pants and geared up to go. I got the keys and the coats and we prepared ourselves for the next commercial break.

Like a light we took off and I drove like a madman on crack. Somewhere on Second Street it struck me how absurd it was to be driving in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold, sans underpants with flannel pajamas sticking out of my khakis all in order to obtain a frosty treat.

Never stand in the way of a fat man and his sweetened dairy products.

We arrived safely back at home with our delectable caramel and fudge milkshakes and we only missed a few minutes of the movie.

A Sunday Dream

My alarm was set for 7 in the AM. After several snoozes I shut it off completely, knowing that this would mean we would miss Bible study and possible worship services. I woke up on my own about 8 in the AM but again rolled over decided I would not look at the clock again for I would find it necessary to get up and I just didn’t want to do that.

However, after some more sleep I did look at the clock and found it to be 8:50. Knowing I had to get up, I patted Amy and told her the time and she got out of bed in a jolt.

Entering into our bathroom we noticed that the light had burned out. Reaching into the dark tub, Amy lets out a little shriek and picks up a strange object. Handing it to me I realize it is a part of a brick.

Amy seems to not be bothered by this and again reaches into the tub to find a soaking wet towel which she promptly throws on the floor. I tell her I’ll toss the brick and get her a flashlight. Underneath I’m petrified. There wasn’t half a brick in the tub last night. Somebody had to have snuck into the house and put it there as some kind of signal.

I dump the brick and begin checking out the house. Even though conceivably the rest of our lights work, and that it is towards 9 in the morning our house is very dark. I walk through the blackness expecting to be attacked at any moment. Sensing that the culprit must be hiding in our second bedroom, which we have made into a study I bust in quickly with a karate kick. I then attack the closet but find nothing.

Amy, who is now in the shower, yells at me to join her. Before I do I go back to the bedroom, where our computer is located (in reality it is in the study) I quickly check my e-mail expecting something important, but finding nothing.

I then go to the bathroom to bathe. I have great trouble taking off my t-shirt and get it stuck above my head. Comically I struggle with it greatly before finally removing it. Amazingly I am much skinnier and more fit in reality and I begin to check myself out in the mirror. Just as I’m doing a heavy flex move I wake up with a jolt.

It is 8:15 in the AM and highly confused I wake Amy up to bathe and get ready.

Friday, December 01, 2006

My Myspace Addiction

This was going to be a lot more fun before Jamison became an addict as well, but so it goes.

About a year or two ago I signed up for a myspace account on a whim. I think, at the time, I was looking for other blog type places to do my writing and I knew a few folks with myspace accounts. Mainly I just wanted to see what all the noise was about.

It didn’t seem like much. Almost unanimously all of the sites looked terrible. Backgrounds were often loud, obnoxious and obscured the actual text. They were often way too busy with screaming, flashing lights, multiple videos and slideshows rolling at once and really annoying music would start playing even though I didn’t ask it to.

When I began trying to set up my own little space I could see the problem. The Myspace template sucks eggs. They give you little boxes to fill in such creative things as favorite movies, music, and books, but no tools in which to add anything interesting. They do allow you to add your own html and embed things like slideshows and youtube, the their organization is such that anything you add will look like crap. And it often does.

The only way to create something interesting is to know a lot of coding and have mad design skillz. Obviously, most people don’t have these things and so we get millions off awful sites. Including my own.

Well for the last few months I have quickly become very addicted to myspace. What it lacks in design, it makes up for in usability. I now check my myspace page two or three times a day. It has become nearly as addicting as e-mail.

Why you ask? Because everybody is freaking on it. They allow you to choose what schools you have gone to and then search for other folks from that school. Once I let everyone know I graduated Faulkner it became this big FU reunion. Kellie J is there, Scott Mobley, Helen Wishum, Devon Griffith, Jason Gray and even the freaking Gordon brothers.

It’s like I’m back in college without the crappy dorm rooms, curfews and studying to deal with.

So sign up people, and join the crap.