August 26, 2014

Making "Wild" Cherry Plum Jelly

Making "Wild" Cherry Plum Jelly
Last weekend my In-Laws called and asked if we wanted any cantaloupe because they had several nice-sized melons mature at the same time and it was too much for them. Since we were actually at the grocery store buying cantaloupe the answer was a no-brainer.

When my wife and I headed over there we, well I, wanted to take a look at their yard & garden since we hadn't been in the back yard for months. A surprising discovery was a small fruit tree they weren't aware they had. Now if this was my parents property I could understand because they have hundreds of acres and an actual orchard, but a surprise fruit tree in a small quarter-acre lot (I have no idea how big it is...but they live in town so....) when you've lived in the home for 30+ years.....

August 2, 2014

Just Saw Guardians of the Galaxy...Loved It!

Just Saw Guardians of the Galaxy...Loved It!
Just saw Guardians of the Galaxy this morning and it was awesome! I will not post any spoilers, but I will say I was disappointed in one super-minor (and highly personal) thing. I'm normally not that observant, but I spotted a hilarious Easter-egg that was only on the screen and in-focus for a split-second....short enough for me to question if I saw what I saw. My suspicions were confirmed in the after-credits scene.

Also, this is what, the 10th modern Marvel movie? Who the hell bothers to get up and leave the theater when the credits start to roll? Evidently some folks in Boise, that's who.

July 31, 2014

Near Useless Request for Information

Wow....just wow.
Today I received an email from the Idaho Department of Labor with a request for information from one of my State Senators. My Senator is collecting Veteran's stories regarding interaction with the Veteran's Administration.

While the focus was obviously on medical issues, the survey being used to collect information was about the VA in general, so I had to relay my only real interaction with the VA, which would be my "fun" with the VRAP program.

I won't go too much into detail since you can always search "VRAP" on this blog, but to sum it up in a sentence: I took on debt for a worthless Associates Degree because I was promised special employment assistance once I completed my degree, but there is no special assistance.

Of course, wouldn't you know, after typing the much longer version out and hitting "submit" the survey database errors out. Seriously?! I guess the information wasn't really that important.

Fortunately, and I'm probably pushing things using that term, I half-expected this and did a little Ctrl+A & Ctrl+C on that form field before hitting submit. I just pasted it into an email for the good Senator, but I doubt I'll get anything more than a form letter from some intern.

July 14, 2014

WTF Baby Life Insurance

WTF Baby Life Insurance
So I was at a restaurant with the Mrs. yesterday and an add for baby life insurance came on several of the TVs in the place. As I looked up at the screen all I could think was WTF?!

The screen read something to the effect of, "Protect Your Baby's Future with Gerber Life Insurance". I looked online and couldn't find the same graphics/text from the commercial. I'm guessing that whoever put the advert together didn't get that life insurance pays out after death, so at best it protects your investment in deciding to breed.

Now before getting all high & mighty on me, I know that in this instance they are peddling some term life insurance that has a cash value that can be taken out in the future. The idea is that if the policy isn't paid out due to the baby's death, at a certain age they can pull X amount of cash out of it, allegedly for something like college tuition, but more realistically for one semester of books. If you want to save for your kid's education then actually save for the education, not let someone peel off a good percentage and not earn decent interest.

I was just going off of the ad that I could see and not hear on TV. That ad looked pretty messed up.

July 5, 2014

I Managed to Complete This Milestone Last Week....

I Managed to Complete This Milestone Last Week....
Well, I managed to earn another Triple Crown this last week (or so). On July 1st I completed one year of District service as an Area Governor, which was the final requirement for Advanced Leader Silver (ALS). The week before I finished my final requirement for Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG). If you add ALS+ACG you end up with DTM!

Yep, I managed to complete all of my Distinguished Toastmaster requirements in about 3 1/2 years. It helped (greatly) that I was able to attend two clubs and participate more-than expected. I've already started working on my second DTM, but I'm not in a hurry and right now two is my limit, mostly because I don't want to be "that guy".

You know "that guy".....the one who forges ahead needlessly screwing other people out of opportunities just so he can get another notch in his belt. The path to Distinguished Toastmaster is a long one and there is one big roadblock in the way. In order to finish your Advanced Leader Silver you have to have served as a Club Coach, Sponsor, or Mentor. These opportunities just do not come up very often at all. To take one of these away from someone else trying to earn their first DTM so you can get DTM >1 isn't cool. Now through a stroke of luck I managed to be a Club Sponsor a second time. A new club was forming and they had 1 volunteer for Club Mentor and that person had to quit due to a move out-of-state. After the second or third call for volunteers, I think the club's meeting time of 9 AM on Friday was the big barrier, I stepped up. Since this tough requirement is out of the way.....might as well work on a second DTM.

My DTM award

Anyway, the requirements for DTM (it is a stepped process):
Competent Communicator (CC)
     Finish the first 10 speech projects
Competent Leader (CL)
     Finish the 10 leadership projects (mostly taking on roles at meetings with a few special events tossed in)
Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB)
     Complete 2 advanced speech manuals of 5 speeches each
Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB)
     Served as a Club Officer for a minimum of 6 months
     Go through Club Officer training and come up with a Club Success Plan
     Conducted any two programs from The Successful Club Series and/or The Leadership Excellence Series
Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS)
     Complete 2 advanced speech manuals of 5 speeches each
     Conducted any two presentations from The Better Speaker Series and/or The Successful Club Series
Advanced Leader Silver (ALS)
     Served a complete term as a district officer
     Completed the High Performance Leadership program
     Served successfully as a club sponsor, mentor or club coach
Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG)
     Complete 2 advanced speech manuals of 5 speeches each
     Conducted a presentation from the Success/Leadership Series, Success/Communication Series or a Youth Leadership Program
     Coached a new member with the first three speech projects

For those keeping track that would be around 47 speeches, not counting any presentations made as a Club/District Officer or while taking a role at a club meeting. It is a lot of work, but quite worthwhile. I've learned a lot so far and I'm pretty sure I still have a long way to go until I'm going to meetings simply for a "refresher".