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A Smart Idea

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:18 AM

I've noticed more and more places that have complementary bottled water are branding that water with their name. This strikes me as ingenious, since typically one might carry a bottle of water around for several hours, and, in doing so, unwittingly serve as an advertisement for the company giving out the water. This seems to be a win-win situation, really, since the customer appreciates the water and the company appreciates assistance in “spreading the word.”

Ultimate Electronics use to give out complementary water, but ceased when they ran into financial difficulties. They seemed to be a bit ahead of the curve on the whole complementary water idea, at least around here. Maybe they should try again, but this time use private label water. it might just work a bit better for them.

Wikipedia Time Loss

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:35 AM

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but sometimes when I feel otherwise inclined to do absolutely nothing, I end up spending a couple of hours surfing around the Wikipedia, reading up on random topics that somehow end up being linked together. Tonight was such a night. I had some coding to do, but it just didn't happen — hopefully tomorrow I'll have more energy.

I really do like Wikipedia — I find I learn a lot by my haphazard exploration of it that I wouldn't run into just reading other sources of information. Perhaps it is the unique perspective of having enthusiasts writing the pages that helps.

Well, I guess I'll give up doing much productive for the night. G'night!


By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:59 AM

After a scorching July 3rd and hot July 4th, the weather has taken a cool turn, topping out at 85 degrees or so today and dropping to 66 presently at 11:56 in Mid America. I think I would have preferred the opposite, given that we did fireworks displays for friends and family on July 3rd and 4th, but I won't complain — at least it didn't rain!

How's the weather around the blogosphere this fine July?

More Fireworks Fun

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:17 AM

I actually bought fireworks tonight. I've been collecting information on fireworks in a more organized fashion over the last two years, so maybe I'll actually start up that fireworks web site I always talk about. If I did it now, it'd be really polished by next fourth… as if I need another job to do. :)

Finding Fireworks for the Fourth

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:54 AM

I've talked about favorite fireworks in posts from last year and 2003 (I seemed to skip any such mention in 2004, when I only talked about the loss of fireworks), so to start off my discussion of fireworks this year, I would like to talk about favorite firework retailers instead. Since I sometimes get St. Louis/St. Charles residents reading my blog, I encourage you to consider patronizing these fireworks tents as you shop for the fourth of July (note: in this area, fireworks are sold in tents, save for a few permanent retailers that appear outside of St. Charles county).

  • Fireworks City on Fifth St. (between QuikTrip and the abandoned Philips 66, a bit beyond several other Fireworks City tents that are closer to I-70). I don't like Fireworks City in general but I make an exception for this particular, smaller Fireworks City tent. The owner or manager of it is a genuinely nice guy who remembers me, and many of his customers from year to year. That he remembers me is surprising: they have not been the cheapest or largest tent in the past, so I haven't always bought that much from him, but that doesn't seem to matter. They have some neat fireworks — such as Pop Goes the Fountain, Nuclear Meltdown and the Reloadable Fountain — that are hard to find elsewhere, so I do buy those kinds of things there. Notably, this tent was cheaper than other tents on some items that I had looked at over the past week, which made it even better this year. Even before I realized that, I had resolved to purchase more from him this year just because he deserves the business. The fact that he has unique stuff helps in that regard.
  • Bubba Fireworks (next to Citgo on the service road of I-70 in Cave Springs, beyond DAD'S and President's fireworks tents). This is a new tent with a very helpful, enthusiastic owner. Part of the key to finding good, new fireworks is helpful workers at the tent (since it is not feasible to try everything), and the lady who owns this particular tent seemed to genuinely love the fireworks she recommended. While she favored larger ones, they weren't excessive, and the tent featured some nice, smaller fireworks.
  • Mr. Whalen's Fireworks (Mid Rivers Mall Drive, beyond the community college, noticeable by all the military branches' flags flying on the tent) was reasonably helpful at pointing out fireworks and pushed finding better values over bigger price tags. Notably they were one of only two tents that had Just Another Stinkin' Fountain (JASF), and they had it for only $7.00, a real bargain.
  • TNT (Rte. 94 in the Walgreen's parking lot across the street from St. John's UCC) offered a better selection than the other TNT tent I've been to this year. The gentleman who was managing that tent was very good at recommending fireworks that were reasonably safe in subdivisions and was very into pointing out fireworks that had vivid, unique colors.

There are lots of other good ones, but consider checking these ones out this year.

Uh, Ok: The AFA Puzzles Me Again

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:20 AM

So, I get the latest complaint about NBC content from Don Wildmon of the American Family association:

Dear Timothy, The February 6 episode of NBC's Las Vegas contained a scene inside a strip club. The content of that scene was extremely graphic.

Ok, that makes sense so far. What follows, however, I found hard to fathom:

We have provided a video of the scene below.

NBC aired this scene during prime-time hours when they knew millions of children would likely be watching. But NBC didn't care if they exposed children to this kind of material. Please take action below and help us help our children.


Rather than trying to describe it to you, I would rather you watch it yourself. After watching the video, please follow the instructions to file your official complaint with the FCC. It will only take a couple of minutes to file the complaint. Do it for your children and grandchildren. After you file your complaint, please forward this to friends and family.

WARNING: This scene taken from the NBC program Las Vegas is highly offensive.

Most of the emphasis is mine. So the AFA found this program so offensive that they want all of their mailing list recipients to watch it? I am all for insuring people don't just start complaining to the FCC about something they have no idea about, but still, it seems very strange to essentially be getting more people to see something that is allegedly very offensive. (I did not view the link myself.)

The AFA just puzzles me a lot of the time.

Monday Madness on Tuesday: True/False

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:37 AM

Christopher participated in Monday Madness this week, and I thought I would too. It is true or false week.

I consider myself to be very organized: False. I often mean well, but am bad at keeping up. After three or four years of trying, I have recently managed to get most (but not all) of my e-mail and computer files organized (a project that I started several times, the final attempt taking over a year to complete). In paper stuff, I have a nice new file cabinet, but I'm bad about adding new file folders as often as I should. I'm also bad about properly categorizing new books as I get them, etc., etc., etc. Right now, I can't sit in my reading chair, once again.

I tend to get more done when I’m pressed for time: True. If the deadline is looming, but not so close as to drive me crazy, that is when I get the ideal amount of work done. Too far away (or non-existant) and I work on other things; too close and I merely run around like a chicken with my head cut off before madly completing the work at the cost of sanity.

Multi-tasking is something I do often: True. I didn't know any other way of working was possible in today's always-connected world.

I might be a perfectionist: True. I'd get a lot more accomplished if I wasn't. Typically, on any non-deadlined project, I will spend months (or even years) doing cathedral-building like work. I'll lay the groundwork for something far over-engineered for my purposes. The only way I end up getting a project to completion is when it receives a deadline (or I otherwise realize the necessity of finishing it up) and then I switch to pragmatic mode and nix the grand ambitions… most of the time. I can still wander off and start back to the bigger plans, at which point I have to reign myself back in. This blog's software is a good example. SAFARI originally took a year (about eleven months too long) to build, because I over-engineered it. That was 2000, and my hand was forced when we wanted to go live with a new church web site that would use it on June 1, 2000. Afterwards, I immediately started on a new version — the one this blog runs — but did not get anywhere major with it until December of 2004 when the old software for this blog quit working and I needed something ASAP.

I enjoy Mondays as much as I enjoy Fridays: True. I like many of the things I do and the people I work with, and so while I enjoy getting a break on the weekend (sometimes — often I end up working on Saturday, though), I'm not disappointed to get started again.

If I didn’t make a list (or hang a post-it note) I’d forget what it is I need to do: True. I don't make lists, and I do eventually remember, but some things just get passed by because I don't remember them in the midst of more important things.

I Couldn't Make This Up

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:18 AM

According to Reuters, pollution is for the birds. Or something like that.

A flock of pigeons fitted with mobile phone backpacks is to be used to monitor air pollution, New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday.

Now, let's just hope they signed up for enough Anytime minutes. Of course, if they switch to owls, Unlimited Nights and Weekends might be all that is needed.

Crazy Long Meme (Part II)

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:06 AM

Continuing from yesterday. It has been a crazy day (the start of a new semester), but fortunately I already had these answered, so it is a matter of copying and pasting. :)

25. Orange Juice or Apple Juice?
Orange Juice without pulp, unless you have mulling spice to go into that (hot) apple juice.

26. Who were the last people you went out to lunch or dinner with?
If you mean ate something not cooked at home, my mother, today [Sunday], at White Castle. If you mean ate at a restaurant, my friend Roger a couple of weeks ago at Lone Star.

27. Favorite type chocolate bar?
I like trying different ones, but probably a Midnight Milky Way.

28. When’s the last time you voted at the polls?
I can't recall if we had any elections in St. Charles County in 2005 — I think I voted sometime in the Spring of '05. Otherwise, November of '04.

29. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
This summer. I don't really like tomatoes by themselves, however.

30. Have you ever won a trophy?
Not that I recall.

31. Are you a good cook?
I think I can be — I just don't do so very often.

32. Do you know how to pump your own gas?
Of course.

33. Sprite or 7-Up?
I guess 7-Up, but I don't like white sodas that well.

34. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to school/work?

35. Last thing you ate?
Three Jalapeno Cheeseburgers, two Regular Cheeseburgers and an order of fries from White Castle (if you aren't familiar with White Castle, their burgers are only maybe 6-7 cm squares — so it is normal to eat more than one. :)

36. Ever thrown up in public?
Yes, back in second grade.

37. Would you prefer being a millionaire or finding true love?
The latter, certainly. Proverbs I think would agree with that. Millionaire status in-and-of itself can be rather empty. (Not that having a million bucks wouldn't be nice — I figure I could buy mutual funds that would produce over $50,000-$100,000 a year if I had a starting principle of one million dollars, and even 4% CD's would provide a decent annual income.)

But, while I'm too materialistic for my own good, I think finding true love would be priceless, whereas a million dollars is, well, a million dollars. From an outsider's stand point, I've seen millionaire status ruin people, but true love improves them. The latter is far more of a real blessing, should it ever come to pass.

38. Do you believe in love at first sight?
The jury is out on that one; I'm inclined to say yes with major caveats.

39. Can ex’s be just friends?
I think probably, but probably not if they had a real reason for becoming ex's in the first place.

40. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
I think that would have been my dad, last January, but I'm not positive.

41. Did you have long hair as a young kid?
No, but it was substantially bushier than I have it now (but never overly so).

42. What messages are in your voice mail?
A call from my former Greek instructor asking a computer question (I answered his question the next day), a message from my mother telling me where to meet her (I met Mom shortly thereafter), a message from my new broker on an appointment time and a message from a friend who was inviting me to come play Catchphrase at a little diner (I didn't make it). I probably have a few more too — I let my messages get erased after the 30 day limit on old messages passes (Cingular charges extra to keep messages permanently, which is just as well).

43. Where would you like to go right now?
The Ozarks.

44. What was the name of your first pet?
The first animal that lived in the same home as I did was actually there before me — a cat named Antler. My first pet was a Siamese Fighting Fish (Beta) named “Pumpkin.”

45. What kind of bag do you have, and whats in it?
A leather messenger-style bag with a laptop compartment (not always filled — depending on the weight of the other cargo). It may carry school books, cabling for computers, etc., depending on where I'm heading. It always carries some tape, Lifesavers or another similar candy (which I mostly pull out when I have a sore throat), some old papers, and (usually) a mini-stapler.

46. What was the last thing you drank?
An Iced Latte from Starbucks (I'm drinking it right now).

47. What is one thing you are grateful for today?
The projector at church worked flawlessly.

48. What do you think about most?
It depends. My mind generally multitasks, but yields a big portion of its “capacity” to one thing or another at a given time. Theology and philosophy, often. What I need to be working on next, as well.

49. What is your new years resolution?
Well I lost about 50-55 lbs. (23-25 kg) last year, and I guess a good goal would be to keep it off. I'm also resolving to stop and smell the flowers more often.

Fill in the Blanks Meme

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:35 AM

Christopher answers an interesting meme where you fill in the blanks. My basic answers are italicized and longer ones are below each statement.

1. Before I walk out the door, I always check to make sure I have my wallet.
I'm in sad shape without it. For one thing, I'd be driving illegally. Second, I'd be without money. Third, if I did have money and got away with driving illegally, and it was during the school semester, I'd have to pay $5.50 for lunch without my ID, which would really hurt given the quality of the food (but I don't have time to drive elsewhere for food on days I eat lunch there).

2. I can't seem to catch up on my reading list.
Right now, I'm prioritizing by putting books that were given to me ahead of those I bought, since I might get asked how I liked the books. I'm also sorting by the likelihood that the giver will ask me. Right now, that has me reading Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel. It's an interesting little book, although as a non-Catholic I'm clearly not the target audience; things that I'd like to hear more about (Catholic distinctive) are often passed over with the assumption the reader already is familiar and in agreement with them. I do like it, however, and will talk more on it another day.

3. The one surface in my house that always seems to get cluttered fast is any flat surface.
Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration, but not by much. I have a semi-permanent stack of papers on the space I cleared up on my desk when I ditched the 19” CRT for my Apple Cinema Display last January. My nice reading chair by my “current reading” bookshelf is always collecting stuff. My dresser collects stuff. Tables collect stuff. The floor collects stuff. I try to reign it in every-so-often, so usually things are more or less presentable, but it is a constant battle with the (cue the dramatic music) Stuff that Covers Things.

4. If I sleep past 11:00, I feel that I've slept in too late.
Most of the time, even if I'm off, I try to get up by 9:00 or 10:00, but I enjoy sleeping beyond 10:00 every-so-often. If it gets past eleven, though, I feel like I've missed too much of the day. Usually I try to schedule everything so I never have to get up before 7:00 (I'm still mumbling about the time I had to get up at before 4:00 so that I could be down at Newschannel 5's “Window on St. Louis” a few years back).

5. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to get my todo list done.
I have too many irons in the fire and so I end up being slow on everything. I get overwhelmed and then fail to get anything done. Some people seem to manage a bunch of different obligations much better than I do.

6. I hope to have my income taxes done by April 15.
I figure that's a good date to aim for. Seriously, I usually get them done a few weeks earlier than that.

7. This year I'd like to make more time for reading.
I spend a lot of time reading and writing, a lot of time reading stuff online too (news, technical information, etc.), but I'd like to spend more time reading things I'd like to read. I'd like to read Narnia and the Lord of the Rings. I'd like to finish the Divine Comedy. I'd like to finally catch up on the Left Behind series (even though its gone down hill, I'm hoping the prequels might prove worthwhile). I'd like to read some more of Karl Barth's works. I'd like to actually have every book on my bookshelves read (excluding reference works).

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