Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I happened upon something that intrigued me in my blogger profile recently.
A blogger random question.

Your pajamas have duckies on them. Why did you switch from choo-choos?
rockbottom random answer:
I am more of an outdoors type versus an engineer.  Roaming around observing life from different vantage points is more my speed.  Staying on a mundane path with frequent stops pulling a heavy burden is something I dropped off with the choo-choo pajamas.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Soap box - NCAA

We have heard it all concerning the NCAA and their rulings this year and the proposal for new rules for next year.  Yep, it reminds me of being a kid.  

Remember when we set up the rules for a game of backyard football?  First you had to find a ball.  Any ball would do as long you had one.  But as soon as a kid got a new one everybody wanted to use his.  Remember who got to pick teams?  (In case you forgot; the kid with new ball)  Remember who got the best kid on his team?  Then the kid always getting picked last went and asked Santa for a better ball.  The rules were constantly changing. 

Mixed in with the ball issue was setting up the boundaries of the field.  One end zone was from the driveway to the house.  The other was from the tree stump to old man Wilson’s wooden fence.  But as soon as someone tripped over the stump and misses the “it would have been touchdown” pass; the boundary changed.  Now instead of the stump it was to the old football a few feet inside the tree stump.  Then after somebody ran a little too wide of the side of house to avoid a tackle, there was an argument over the sideline.  The rules got changed again.

Once you settled on which ball to use and what the field boundaries were, typically all the good kids ended up on the same team and the game was not fun anymore.  

The rulings levied by the NCAA this year have reminded me of those days of backyard football.  Just a bunch of kids that can’t decide on the rules, so they change the rules, the more they change the rules the more trouble it causes, the more trouble it causes, the less fun the game becomes…yep sounds familiar.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Writing prompts

Writer's Digest has a section in their website for fictional story starters called Writing Prompts.  These prompts can be entertaining standing alone.  Of course the idea is to build a story around the thought. 

The prompt I gave a whirl with a while back seemed intriguing:
Write the last line to an unwritten novel that's so intriguing that others won't help by want to read the book.  Please limit your response to 500 words or less.

It posed the challenge of creating a masterpiece from a blinking cursor with the imaginative freedom of the wind across the Earth.  Write the end first.  I asked myself how much mystery could I put into a final line or paragraph of a novel that would make others want to read the book.  What would make me want to read it?  What types of people read the most?  What types of novels do those people like to read?  These questions generated what seemed to be basic ideas that led to some generic ideas then to really bad ideas but eventually back to a decent idea. 

Then you think to yourself, Self - I got it.  You put it on notepad and think, it looks pretty good.  Then you make a few changes and really start thinking hey this is pretty good.  You even go so far as to put it in your blog que as a draft post.  You add a schedule date a few weeks out in order to let it simmer a few weeks.  The plan is after it simmers for a week or so to read it like it is on somebody else's blog.  Does it have the quality to be a "Post" a "rockbottom post".

Then you check your blog one morning from work and realize this draft posted.  Words are misspelled.  Sentences are not really sentences.  It is bad, it is real bad.  It is like rockbottom bad.

So for anybody that saw the post earlier today (approximately over the previous 14 hours of today) that post was a figment of your imagination.  You are relaxed you are seeing dark colors.  You have recently seen river rocks that made you think of a warm afternoon beside a creek.  Take a deep breath.  When I say "Visit http://kippsversion.blogspot.com" you will wake up from your trance feeling fresh and rested.  Before leaving this blog you will want to visit another post such as the very first post - Writing Blind or Peer Pressure.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The ol' smoke house

 I woke up to "Kipp I can't breath."  Standing beside my side of the bed was my wife holding her throat. 
What's the matter? 
"The house smells like smoke and the carbon monoxide detector is registering a number.  Did you not put the fire out?"

I crawled out of bed and noticed it was 11:48 pm.  Remembering I was nearing the end of the Everybody Loves Raymond hour as I nodded off, I knew I must have slipped away to lullaby land about 10:50.  Walking through the house to get to the fire place I was met with a strong stench of smoldering oak ashes.  When I last visited the fireplace, I had spread out the coals and leaned the remaining logs up on the sides of the fire place about 9:30.  Had checked and rechecked the coals and logs before getting in bed about 10:15.  When I closed the flu to the chimney I felt sure the fire was out.

My wife is now standing at the back door with it open.  "I need air."  I reminded her it was about 38 degrees out there and maybe...maybe I should stop talking.
I asked her if I could get her some water.  "Yes." After slugging the water, she went on to deduct that the heat pump was probably recirculating the poisonous smoke throughout the house.  She cut off the heat.

She drank another glass of water and informed me she was going to take the kids to her parents to spend the rest of the night at their house.  I said OK as I approached the fire place still not seeing any visible signs of burning coals or smoke.  I grabbed for the log grabber tool.  As I was opening the screen I felt the heat.  Great.  I reached in and opened the flu.  Using the log grabber tool, I pulled the log away from the side of the fireplace.  The back side of it was red with hot coals.  Here is the problem honey - the fire is not out.  She did not hear me because she was on the phone with her Dad.  "We will be over in a minute."  

I took the log outside on the patio and headed back in for the other log.  It too was hot with coals on the back side.  I took it out and laid beside the other one.  I then drew some water in a tea jug and poured it over the logs to put them out.  Returning to the living room my wife and two kids were passing me dressed in long pants, heavy coats and holding blankets and dolls.  I went back to my room to put on some clothes.  When I returned the back door was opened all the way and the garage door was coming down with the bright beams from the headlights hitting it.  The van was nearly in the street when I got to the door.

The responsibility I felt watching my family leave as I stayed behind to take care of the house filled with poisonous smoke was nearly overwhelming.  I opened the back door as well to try to start drawing out the smoke.  Figuring the open flu and the open two doors would allow the smoke filled house to air out quickly, I suddenly realized my own throat was a little dry.  Hydration during an emergency is important.

Pacing from door to door for about 20 minutes making sure no uninvited guest critter or otherwise entered the house, I figured I could close the side door.  After another 15 minutes passed, with the heat pump off and not yet convinced all the smoke had escaped the house via the opened doors and flu, I caught a chill.  According our cool high tech Oregon temperature device it was a steady 38 degrees outside and a decreasing 60 degrees inside.  To keep warm, since I could not turn on the heat pump or start another fire (remember I had poured water on the logs) I decided a game of Wii Golf might help.

The carbon monoxide detector was no longer registering a number.  The fireplace was now smokeless.  I was hydrated.  I was a little bored.  I figured keeping busy for a another 30 minutes or so might be a good idea in case their was any traces of C02 left in the air.  Maybe if I passed out, the fall against the brick floor would jar me enough to reach for the phone and call for help.  Plus moving around a bit would keep my body heat up until I could cut the heat back on.  

After 9 holes at a score of 39 on the Wii Resort course I moved to a game of Ping Pong.  Then changed to an Island Flyover in a bi-plane shooting ballon's (the Wii is a non-violent platform).  I even tried out the Frisbee golf but c'mon who can control a real Frisbee much less a virtual one?!  I went back for a full round of golf, 18 holes, then I realized it was almost 2:00 am.  I can relate to why the kids play video games for hours and hours; it's fun.   

I cut the heat back on since the smoke seemed to be gone and the temperature in the house was nearing 54.  I threw an extra blanket on the bed. Crawled under the covers about 10 minutes after 2.  

Of course I woke up late for work.  Yes I showed up late for work smelling like I had been camping all night.  Called home about 9:00 to see if my family had returned to the ol' smoke house.  "Yes we are here.  Still smells like smoke.  But we were glad we did not find you in the floor or still in the bed."  (Dang it - practical joke opportunity wasted - if only this would have happened on the weekend)  To which I replied, I must have missed your invitation to join you and the girls last night.  Then she tells me this, "You are old enough and smart enough to drive your...wait.  You are right, I should have dressed you and put in the van with the girls."
My wife should really start her own blog. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

My guest post on Frugal Golf Travel

Frugal Golf Travel is a website dedicated to help golfers use credit card, airline, hotel, and any other reward programs to take golf trips to their dream golf destinations.  It is not an overnight solution, but using the reward programs that these companies make available for free can get you where you want to go for little out of pocket cash.  

Follow the above link, ( or this one - FGT ), to learn more about FGT and to see the post I was asked to write for my buddy at FGT.  The story will be posted in three parts.  The above link takes you the first post that hit today.  The remaining two parts will be posted in the coming weeks.  

Hope you get a chance to read it!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Hut affect

The conversations at low end restaurants always present my favorite comedic material.  Did I ever tell you about the 14 cheeseburgers?  I will have to check on that one and tell you if I have not.  This story stems from a Pizza Hut. 

We happened to be in the mood for pizza the other night and after disappointingly finding our favorite joint a few towns over has either moved or closed we opted for The Hut.  The Hut, as advertised, has simplified their menu.  Their medium three topping pizzas are $8.  Their large three topping pizzas are $10.  According to the menu the stuffed crust pizza can be added for an additional $2.  Honestly this is great deal.  Competitively/comparatively speaking Papa Johns, who makes a darn good pizza pie, runs $10 specialty pizzas during big football up and comings.  Their ads are all over the web.  When Papa's runs the $10 special we usually buy two, one for the kids and one for us older kids.  The left overs from the larges usually gives us lunch the next day.  Our thought was we would give the Hut a whirl and see how their pizza pie compared taste wise.

Here we were sitting in The Hut feeling pretty confident about buying two medium three topping pizza's for $16.  We did not want left overs if it was not any good.  If we liked it we would know for next time.  While placing our order, we had found the wait staff to be friendly.  But then came in the next family sitting directly behind us.  I did not see them but could hear them.  They sounded about as normal as my family.  Two adults and two kids.

Keeping in mind the menu above.   When the server returned from taking their drink order, which went off without any altercations, she began the entree order. 
Head of Family: We would like a medium supreme pizza. 
Server: Which crust?
HoF: I think we would like, for $2 more, to have the stuffed crust.
Server: OK.
HoF: We would also like to have another medium with pepperoni, sausage and mushroom pizza for the kids. 
Server: Which crust?
HoF: The stuffed crust on this one too, right honey (addressing either his wife or one of the kids).
Server: Sir, we can't do the stuffed crust on the medium pizza.  The stuffed crust only comes on the large pizza.
HoF: I am sorry?
Server: (audible sigh)  Sir the stuffed crust is only available in a large crust.
HoF: Can you repeat my order as you have it written down?
Server:  Sir you have a medium supreme with a stuffed crust...Sir...you will have to reorder.


HoF: OK...I think I would like a large stuffed crust supreme.
Server: OK.  Anything else?
HoF: Yeees...I would also like a medium pepperoni sausage and mushroom pizza. (I am loving this man's patience) Ma'am tell me again.  Which crust options does the medium come with?
Server: Thin, Hand Tossed, Pan or you can make it a stuffed crust for $2.
HoF: I can make it a stuff crust for $2 more?
Server: Yes.
HoF: Would it still be a medium?
Server: No it would be large.

=) Gold I tell ya.  Abbot and Costello would be writing this material down.
There was silence for about 15 seconds.
HoF: I would like the medium pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom to be a Hand Tossed crust.
Server: Would you like anything else sir?
HoF: No, I think that will be all.

I am trying to catch my wife's eye to see if she is hearing this episode.  I just wanted to ask her via eye language "Did you hear what just happened?"  But she would not look.  Later I found out she had heard went on and thought it was hysterical but was avoiding my eye conversation as it may have lead to bursts of laughter, attention to our table, etc., etc., etc.

Side note: To keep the kids entertained (this advice is better than anything from Dr. Phil or Oprah or that TV Nanny) we played paper football.  We used the strong paper band around the napkin and silverware.  We folded into a triangle.  Remember the game paper football?  You thump the paper toward the edge of the table and if it hangs over the edge its a touchdown?  The girls loved it and it kept them entertained until the pizza arrived.  My youngest and I won 25-7.   We missed a few extra points.

My wife informs us she sees our pizza coming.  Before the server arrives we hear her mumbling about our pizza.
Server:  Sorry about your pizza with the black olives.  The cooks left it in the oven longer than they should have.
Placing blame on others must be in the Hut server handbook probably chapter 1.
Server: We are making you another one at no charge for you to take home.  Taking the credit for making it right must be in the Hut server handbook chapter 2.
Seeing the pizza was fine other than a little burn cheese on the crust I said, Well black olives, as you know, are supposed to be cooked thoroughly kinda like pork.
Server: [blank stare] Sir can I get you some more water?
Me: That would be fine.

I loved the pizza by the way.  It really was good.  Since I had lost an option with Hungry Howards', I will probably order from the Hut again soon.  No - I still have not ordered from Hungry "Howard's".

Sure the higher end restaurants have better service and food.  But their servers are so professional and good at what they do you hardly notice them.  Save a few bucks every now and then to go out on the cheap to experience 'The Hut affect'.  Enjoy noticing your server.  You are bound to come home with more than just leftovers.  Plus you can brush up on your paper football skills.