Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year, 2021!

 

Happy 2021 from Pexels.com

Have a Happy and Safe 2021! May your 2021 year be much improved over 2020! 

Let us reflect a little on 2020 and what all happened this past year. We started 2020 thinking it was any typical year. The Kansas City Chiefs won a Super Bowl, college basketball was in full swing, and then we all had to quarantine. If we did go out of the house, we had to wear masks. We were stuck in our homes for most of the year which continued through the end of 2020.

It is time to look to the future as 2021 begins. The vaccines are being deployed which gives us hope to start the year. We can only hope that 2021 will return to our new normal where we can once again travel, once again see our loved one, and once again go to places to eat. Yes, the pandemic has changed us, but it has not defined us.

So, here I hold up my glass to toast to my family, friends, everyone I know, and those that I do not know,  to have a wonderful, safe, and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Changing Cell Providers After Being with #Sprint for Twenty Years and Going with New Option on the Market for Cheaper Monthly Price #Tmobile #MintMobile #Options #blog

Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

Much like my dad used to be, when I find a brand I like whether it is food, a product, or a service, I tend to stick with that brand until I am forced to leave or become unhappy with the service. After twenty years of being with Sprint for my cell phone service, we are making a change. 

I will first say that overall, I have been happy with my Sprint service and unlike others that I have spoken to throughout the years, I really do not have a lot of issues with signal within the city limits or really when traveling. Yes, there are some areas where it is impossible to get signal (i.e. northern parts of Kansas, Nebraska, etc.), but it has not caused a lot of issues.

Sprint Image
Carrie and I leased iPhones from Sprint two years ago at a Sprint store in Dallas, TX and we still have our phones. As we were reviewing what to do for our service on whether to get new phones through Sprint, make a change to T-Mobile (T-Mobile now owns Sprint), or make a jump to a new service, we decided to make a switch. Again, I have been happy with Sprint through the twenty years of being with them, but thought it was time to change. 

T-Mobile

In the back of my head, I have this nagging feeling I am letting down Sprint because I have been with them for so long. I wake up at night after we made the decision to change thinking what if the new service does not work? What if we are unhappy and service is bad? Well, sometimes it is necessary to make a leap and try something new. If nothing else, we hope this change will save money. One thing we had to do was either buy new phones to make the change or buyout our lease with Sprint so we could use the phones on another service. 

After twenty years with Sprint, it is time for a change. Which cell provider have you used the longest period of time?

We opted to buyout our leases so the phones can be used on a new service provider. We still owed a considerable amount for both phones, but figured we are happy with our phones and why not continue to use them. I have the iPhone Xs and Carrie has the Xs Max. The only reason we would really consider changing phones (i.e. upgrading) would have been to get the newest iPhone which has a much better camera, but the camera we have is fine, so did not see the need for making the change. The other consideration was the ability to use 5G service which our current phones do not support. Again, we did not see that as a need to get all new phones.

MintMobile.Com Web Site

We thought about going to T-Mobile since they bought out Sprint, but Carrie came across a deal for three free months of Mint Mobile. If you have not heard of Mint Mobile, it is a cell provider that is much cheaper than Sprint or at least the deal we found is going to be for us. Yes, Ryan Reynolds owns Mint Mobile

For one, you take your own phone to their service. Previously, we were paying a little over $200 a month to Sprint on our service and leasing of two phones. Granted, if we had bought our phones outright and not been leasing, our bill with Sprint would have been around $130 a month. With Mint Mobile, we were able to lock in a holiday rate to get service for six months at about $150 for all six months. The deal we found on their site allowed for signing up for three months and three months free. Basically, comes out to we are paying $28 a month for this new service.

This will allow us to test out the service and see how it works. If service is not good, then we will consider going to T-Mobile or other options for our phone service. We are excited for the change and savings in monthly bills for our mobile service. The fact that we are not getting updated phones is not an issue for us as our phones are new enough as mentioned earlier, but that will also help on our monthly bill not be paying for a "new" phone.

In the end, I enjoyed having Sprint for my cell provider the past twenty years. I will miss them, but probably good to try new things and check out how service, cost, and support work with a new service. I will update in a few weeks, or months, on the status of our change.

A side note, we also contacted Cox Communications to check on lowering our monthly bill and we were able to knock off about $17 from our monthly bill for the next two years. So, it was a good day of making changes as we made a decision to change cell providers and knock some money off of our monthly home internet costs.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas! Have a Happy and Safe Christmas #Christmas #Holiday #Greetings #blog

 

Christmas 2020 - Photo Courtesy of carrieloulou on Instagram

Merry Christmas! It is hard to believe it is Christmas Eve 2020. We are almost done with this year that seems to have lasted forever. Another unusual holiday we celebrate remotely with our loved ones. I hope you have a happy and save Christmas.

Mantel and picture courtesy of Carrie. Follow Carrie on Instagram.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Saturday Night Live Continues to Struggle with SNL Opening Skit After Replacing Cast Member Playing Joe Biden #SNL #NBC #blog

SNL Replaces Joe Biden Actor

"Saturday Night Live" (SNL) replaced Jim Carrey with Alex Moffat to portray Joe Biden in the December 19, 2020 broadcast. I am not sure what is happening with SNL this year, but the opening scenes have not been great. Often not funny at all. I give the opening to season 46 episode 9 a chuckle and that is about it as I watched it last night. The half chuckle not being toward anything Alex Moffat did as Joe Biden, but instead what Beck Bennett acting as VP Mike Pence in the opening skit last night. But that was about it for laughs for the opening skit. SNL is struggling with the opening each week to their show.

Back in October, I posted comments regarding the opening skit at that time and it has not gotten any better. Is it the writers, the content they have to work with, or actors that are not pulling it off? It seems like it is the content as the material is available for comedy, but so far in season 46, SNL has not been able to able to tap into the comedy aspect of the opening to the series.

If there is anyway SNL can find a way to bring Melissa McCarthy back to be included in the opening skit, that would go a long way helping to improve how the show opens each week.

Who is your favorite cast member from season 46? What is your favorite opening skit of this season through 9 episodes? Who would you like to see included in the opening skit of a future episode?


How Do You Automate Your Blog to FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Others?

 

Picture from haverty.net Social Media Page

Like most everyone else on the internet, I have social media sites on a variety of platforms. I use Twitter almost exclusively but for various reasons I also have accounts on FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Flickr. As I get back into posting regularly to my blog, I am trying to work through the processes of automatically posting to various sites. The sites I have focused on include Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn.

When I was blogging on a regular basis a few years ago, there were different options for auto posting to Twitter and FaceBook, but the services I used before either stopped those options or services such as FaceBook no longer allows for posting to profile but only to a page. So, I created a page on FaceBook and still not really sure what I am doing, but it seems odd as people have to subscribe to the page in order to see the posts. I am simply trying to reach my contacts on FaceBook so they can see my posts that may not normally check other social media sites or following my blog. FaceBook has made the process of sharing content to your own profile a little complicated. It seems odd to me that in order to automate sharing content to FaceBook that I have to do so to a page and not my profile. 

I did find some services that allow for sharing that cost money, but this is a personal blog for fun and I am not interested in paying for any services. I am using IFTTT to post to my FaceBook Page as well as to my LinkedIn profile. I also use dlvr.it for posting to Twitter and just realized I have it set up to post to LinkedIn too. I will probably leave it for this post to see how it works as I set it up earlier this week and had not posted anything to see how it works.

So, with this post, I am checking how various automated postings work that I have tried to change. I am looking to increase followers on various platforms. Finally, I am looking for feedback from various bloggers I follow to get their input on auto sharing to various social media sites. How do you share your content and automate that process?

I look forward to seeing how this works to my social media sites. I am also interested to hear from other bloggers on how they share and automate their site sharing. Please feel free to comment directly on this blog post or on the various social media sites where this is posted.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Closing in on 50 Bike Rides and One Full Month of Daily Rides... Still Having a Blast! #Peloton #Exercise #Bike #blog

I will be completing my 50 ride today. Riding daily since we got our bike back on November 13 which means I have also been riding for one month. It is so much fun! Now, Carrie and I are working to include weights, yoga, and other exercising into our routines. A few times before we got weights, I would go through the motions with just my arms and that about killed me. I could barely raise my arms later in the evening after doing the exercises, so yes, this should help a lot to have weights and not be able to feed myself following weight lifting.

I still have on my to-do list some of the boot camps that are offered. I am not sure exactly what to expect in the boot campus, but they sound like fun. I have made a few friends, or contacts, through the Peloton app which is fun because I can see when they are doing different rides so I can join and give high-fives to them while they ride. Of course, when I ride, I see a lot of high-fives from others.

We get prompted when other riders hit mile stones such as 10, 20, 30, etc. rides or even number of weeks they have done rides. Some of my 14 contacts, I have been able to connect with them in Reddit group which is fun because they have shared tips and tricks they have used for rides. Or, more importantly, which rides they enjoy and recommend.

Carrie and I share rides we do that we think each other would enjoy. I did a fun ride yesterday that Carrie did live Thursday morning with Denis Morton for a 30 minute Holiday Ride. It was a lot of fun and enjoyed the music choices he used in his class. 

On Monday, December 14, Apple is scheduled to release their new workout program called Apple Fitness+ although I do not see Carrie or I joining as we have our hands full with Peloton Bike+. I am interested to hear how the Apple Fitness+ works although I have read some reviews of Apple compared to Peloton. I know I have at least one friend that was going to sign up for Apple Fitness+, so interested to hear how it works for him.

Until next time, happy riding!


Kansas Football Finishes Season 0 - 9 on the Season and Finishes Second Season for Les Miles as Head Coach going 3 - 18. #blog #KUfball

A friend and I were talking the other day about Kansas football. Yeah, it was a slow sports day and a frustrating season to be a Kansas football fan. We were thinking it had been three or four years since Les Miles started as coach for Kansas. Well, sure enough while listening to the news this morning of the Texas vs Kansas football game scheduled for Saturday, December 12 being canceled because of COVID positive cases; the news reported Les Miles is finishing up his second year as head coach for Kansas.

Much like 2020, it seems like Les Miles has been the head coach for Kansas longer than just two years. He was hired by Kansas on November 18, 2018. He coached his first full season 2019 and then completed his second season this year. He is 3 - 18 in two seasons for Kansas. Granted, this year (2020) has been an unusual year not only for fans watching sports but for athletes and coaches trying to maneuver the unusual realm of sports in our COVID world.

Les Miles did not win a single game this year. The closest he came to a win was on December 5, 2020 playing Texas Tech where we lost by three points. The other games throughout the season we averaged 17.8 points a game and lost on average of 30.2 points per game.

I remember back in November 2018 when Les Miles was announced and we all had hopes of a better football team. Here we are and did not win a single game in 2020. I get it that it is an usual year, but good grief, this is pitiful! I read a tweet saying that good thing this weekend game was canceled as it looks worse to be zero and ten rather than zero and nine. Both look really bad!

We have another year, or more, with Les Miles, so settle in and hopefully for his third year we can win a game or two. Even better, maybe we can win more than three games in his third year as head coach. Stay tuned but do not hold your breath.


Sunday, December 06, 2020

Update on Riding Peloton Bike, Working Out, and Struggles Have Gone Through to this Point in my 23 Day Riding Streak

 

Peloton Stats from 12-6-2020
After getting our Peloton bike on Friday, November 13 (see post), I have been working out daily with a streak of 23 days. I have biked everyday since getting the bike. Some long rides (45 minutes), a few medium length rides, and then a few short rides too. Overall, I have felt great during all of my rides. The first week, or week and half, my behind hurt from the seat (saddle). That eventually went away and do not notice sitting in the saddle much any more. 

What is hurting right now are my legs. Even during a 20 minute ride, my legs start burning and doubts start cropping into my head that I am not going to be able to finish the ride. I can barely push the peddles which made me wonder if maybe I am riding too much or too long of rides each time I ride. So, Friday, I did an easy ride of only about 15 minutes. It worked! Saturday, I did a 45 minute (see stats) ride and felt great! It was a tough 45 minute workout that was intense, but I felt really good throughout the ride. Later in the day my legs did hurt, but it was a good kind of hurt letting me know I had done a good workout.

One thing I have been battling is that my left foot becomes sore during a ride. Almost as though it falls asleep. I have looked for answers and might have found what is happening, but I have not done anything yet to fix the issue. For my bike rides, I wear special shoes with cleats that snap into the bike peddles. I think on my left foot the cleats might be up too far on the sole of my feet. I have no issues with my right foot, but left foot becomes uncomfortable on longer rides. So, I am going to try and move the cleat up, or down, to see if that resolves the issue.

New Profile Picture on Peloton Site
I plan to keep my daily streak going. As we get back to "normal" later in 2021 (hopefully) I know it will take planning on my part to either make sure I get up early and ride or ride after getting back from an event. But, I think I can keep it going and keep the streak going. 

The picture on the left is my new profile picture on the Peloton site. Snapped it Saturday, December 5 prior to my 45 minute ride. I figured I had my previous picture as posted in my November 15 post since Carrie took that picture that it was time to post a new picture. 

Happy riding and be sure to connect with me if you are a Peloton member. As of today, I am following 15 and have 14 followers. It is fun to connect with others giving high fives in rides and receiving high fives as I ride.

On another note, today is my mom's birthday so wishing a big Happy Birthday Mom!


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Thanksgiving Turkey with Pictures and my Experience

This was posted on the Big Green Egg Forum too at https://eggheadforum.com/discussion/1226480/thanksgiving-turkey-with-pictures-and-my-experience.

Had a fun two days preparing for Thanksgiving. Nothing special, but did a turkey back-to-back days. I used the same process on both. A pecan seasoning we got from our local BGE store a year ago which is really good. We used it all up and I forgot to get the exact name, but I know our local store carries it, so I will go back to get some more.

Both turkeys were about 12 lbs. I did the first one on Wednesday after I got home from work. Sprinkled the pecan seasoning all over the turkey. Stuffed it with celery, carrots, and apples. Pretty simple, but it worked out well. I put it on the BGE with a raised rack. Cooked about 2.5 to 3 hours. It turned out good, but a little black on the top. No pictures from this one cook, but the meat tasted good. Nice and moist but a little black on the top.

For the second cook, yesterday, I did not use the raised grill and kept the bird down a lower. Again, this was another about 12 lb turkey and cooked it for 2.5 to 3 hours. Lower gave it a nice color on the outside. Used the same seasoning and stuffed it with everything we did the day before except for apples.... we ran out.

Pre-picture before going on the grill. Had it in a pan to catch drippings for gravy. Some onions, celery, and chicken broth in the pan. Did this for the turkey the day before too although did not keep it filled throughout the entire cook. Started it off to give a little moisture and basically to catch drippings.


Had to get a picture of my dog helping me with the lookout. He wears himself out going in and out of the house with me anytime I grill. He gets very excited each time I grab the lump to take out and start getting ready.


While it was cooking, did not open the lid at all. Let it cook and trusted the process as I have seen on here many times. Target temp was 325 which it went to immediately for this cook. In the cook the day before, I had a difficult time getting the temp up to 325. Odd how some days I go to cook and it is easy to get high temp and other days it is difficult.


I think it came off looking really good. Better than the one the day before. It had one of those temperature pop-out sticks in it. My wife pulled it before I snapped the picture. I was pleased with how it looked as a final product.

A final picture of everything on the table. Made a lot of turkey this year as we were giving it out to my family as we were social distancing and sharing food with one another. We made the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy for us and shared it with everyone else too making plates for them and delivered on my in-laws driveway about 3:30 during the day. Ham was done by my brother-in-law and then two different kinds of dressing. I forgot we also did giblets and neck in the gravy which we had not done in a long time... it was so good!


Following dinner, we played Yahtzee and I probably had way too much to drink. It was a good day even though completely different from any other Thanksgiving, it was the first Thanksgiving that my wife and I had together with just the two of us since we were married which in a way made it special.

I wanted to share as I had not done pictures of previous turkey dinners I had cooked. Last year was the firs time I had ever done a turkey on the BGE and it turned out great, but did not take pictures or document it at all. I wanted to get this one recorded so I could reference back next year to what we did.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Finally Have some "normal" back to our lives with College Basketball Start up... For How Long is the Question?

We have had the last few months feel a little more "normal" with sports happening. We were able to watch baseball throughout the summer months which includes regular season, postseason, and of course the World Series. Watching from home on our televisions as fans in the stands was still not allowed made it feel a little better being restricted to home. Then as fall approached, we had the NFL start up and even college football started playing. Again, helping to bring some normalcy back our lives.

I enjoyed following Washburn basketball this past week as we improved to 2- 0. Today, Thanksgiving Day, marks the start of the season start for Kansas basketball. We will be playing Gonzaga at 12:30 pm CST (KU vs Gonzaga). Excited to see the Jayhawks back in action after having the season ended early in March when tournaments were starting. 

While I am excited to be able to watch basketball on Thanksgiving Day, I am concerned with how long we will be able to play. Before the season started, Washburn said they would allow fans to attend and then as the season approached, cases got higher in Shawnee County, it changed where only team, refs, parents, and that was about it would be allowed into home games. Granted, I did not intend to attend the home games prior to the change, but as cases in crease, how likely is it that we will continue to have teams playing? It does not seem likely at all as case rise across the country.

During the MLB season, we would see teams throughout the summer months that could not play because of COVID-19 positive tests. Throughout the NFL season, we have seen players restricted from playing. Now, as we go into college basketball season, a player or two quarantined and that is almost half the team. We have already seen games canceled before they start as players, or coaches, tested positive for COVID-19. 

So, we will see games postponed, or canceled, as we start the season, but hopefully everyone can remain well and safe during the next few months. If the cases continue to rise, I would anticipate to see more cancellations of the season. So, while I am happy the season is starting, I will not be surprised if we start seeing the season is canceled as we move into December and January with COVID-19 cases continuing to increase.

For now, we will enjoy the start of the season and cheer on your respective team. Stay well and stay safe!


Happy Thanksgiving in these Unusual Times... Stay Connected to your Family and Know You are Loved!

 

Thanksgiving Feast and Pies
Thanksgiving from a Few Years Past with Pies from Mom Shirron... So good!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful and safe celebration. 

We will have an unusual Thanksgiving to say the least. We all know that COVID-19 has changed how we live every day. We were told back in March, April, and May when we were stuck at home that the worst was yet to be seen. They said it would be bad once it started getting colder and they were not kidding. Here we are on Thanksgiving Day and the hospitals here in Topeka are at near capacity or full with preparations being made for additional beds in our convention center as it is expected to get worse. Yes, worse!

It is going to be an odd Thanksgiving not spending time with family in Topeka or Lawrence. We were planning to meet with family in Topeka, but had to change plans the day before. I am sad as I have not been able to see my mom in months. We did see her a few times over the summer where we would visit on the patio being sure to keep our social distance. I saw my sister Betsy and Dina a few times over the summer in the same fashion as well as my brother Tim on the patio while we were visiting Mom. I do not recall the last time I saw my sister, Jennie. It was probably last Christmas the last time I saw Jennie.

Yes, we tried a few times of doing Zoom to connect with everyone. The first time was back early in the pandemic when we connected with just my mom and siblings. The next month we tried doing all siblings and grandchildren. I think I spent most of the time troubleshooting why the session was not working for my Mom, but we got it worked out. 

As we approached Thanksgiving this year, I thought for sure my Mom would want to do a Zoom session to be able to see all of our faces and connect. When I asked her about it last week, she laughed, and said phone calls will work. 

I am going to make a point to call my siblings not only on Thanksgiving at least once a month... I miss them! The only good thing we have going is that Kansas basketball will be starting up today (Thanksgiving), so Dina and I will start talking more often as long as there is Kansas basketball and we continue to play. 

Granted, I speak to my Mom every night on the phone. I talk to my siblings occasionally, but we need to do more talking just to interact with one another. I cannot wait until we are able to be in a room and spend time together talking about anything and everything.

All of this to say, Happy Thanksgiving to my whole family, my friends, and everyone. I hope you are able to enjoy some Thanksgiving favorites even in these unusual times. Stay safe and stay in touch!


Sunday, November 22, 2020

SCOTUS Blog, Podcasts, Information, and Understanding the Supreme Court of the United States with Tools to Hear and Read Cases

I have a new found interest in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). After the nomination and appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, I realized that I really do not know or stay up-to-date on cases that go to the Supreme Court. So, I started checking on what information was available to keep me updated on court opinions and came across SCOTUSblog that sends a daily news letter with cases that were reviewed as well as a weekly podcast (SCOTUSTALK) on typical discussion.

I signed up for the newsletter through the SCOTUSblog site and read over, or skim, the daily email notices. They typically arrive middle to late in the afternoon. Sometimes I skim over the summaries and other times I read in detail. I enjoy the articles that are submitted from various sources which they include that discuss news articles talking about the Supreme Court. It is interesting to be able to tie in the coverage I am reading with the articles from NPR, Reuters, etc. I feel like I am getting a better idea of what SCOTUS reviews and rules on each and every day.

Having been subscribed to the SCOTUSblog for a few weeks, I feel like it is helping me to better understand SCOTUS. There is a wealth of information on the SCOTUSblog site, but I have also found I am interested in going to the SCOTUS web site (https://www.supremecourt.gov/) as it is possible to listen to oral arguments or even tread through transcripts going back previous. Granted, some of it is rather boring, and not being a lawyer, probably is well above my head, but I find it interesting to read through the arguments and ultimately the decision by the Justices on a case.

I would imagine I will likely write more on this in future posts. My interest was certainly peaked at the most recent nomination and appointment to the Supreme Court which sent me down this path to understand more about their cases and the Justices that serve on our High Court. I am reminded of a trip I went on when I was younger with my parents and sister, I remember looking into the chamber for the Supreme Court although they were not in session when we went through the tour, I have always had an interest in the process and cases.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

New Peloton Bike+ Delivered on Friday, November 13, 2020 and Cannot Be Happier... Let the Exercising Begin! Let's GO!

Picture of Me on Peloton Bike+
I am so excited that we got a Peloton Bike+ this past week. We ordered it a few weeks ago and it finally arrived on Friday, November 13, 2020. I have already done four rides and trying to ride daily. I had been looking at Peloton for many years and could not be happier with our purchase. 

We went with the Bike+ as it can be used for other classes where the screen will spin around and allow for other classes to be done. Although, we are also able to use Peloton on Roku although I have not done any of those and then there is also an app for the iPhone where we can take it on the go to do classes away from the bike.

I have connected with the Peloton Reddit Community and already made a friends through my initial post. If you have a Peloton and are interested in connecting with me, my ID is Havertyj. The whole idea behind Peloton is to encourage you to ride and the more you can connect with and have the ability to be in classes together helps to encourage to ride more. While I have not done a live class yes and only done on-demand classes, it is cool because I can still interact with others that are doing the on-demand class at the same time as me. Today during my ride, someone hit their 300 mark and it popped on the display so I was able to give them a high-five and they gave a high-five back to me. Whatever can be done to motivate to ride they have built into Peloton.

If you are on the fence about getting a Peloton, three days into my use of the bike I would say do it. I am sure I will be posting much more about the bike and my progress.  So far it is going great and I cannot wait to ride again!


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Happy Veterans Day to All Veterans of all Branches... Thank you for your Sacrifice and your Service!

 

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

To all veterans of all branches: Thank you for sacrifice, your bravery, and the example you set for us all. In short, thank you for your service! To all those who have served, and those who continue to serve… Happy Veterans Day!

Be sure to thank a veteran today and always. 


Sunday, November 08, 2020

Volunteering to Get People to Vote, Asking Questions, and Participation in the Election Process was an Enjoyable New Process for Me

 

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

For the first time in my life, I volunteered my time to help get people out to vote. Without getting into the politics, it was a wonderful experience overall. I started in early October with a response to a text I received asking if I would be interested in helping to get people to vote. I initially started by calling residence in Texas which I did for two different weekends.

No longer is there a requirement to walk door-to-door to ask people to vote.

The process to volunteer is very easy, as I expected it would be, in our modern times. No longer is there a requirement to walk door-to-door to ask people to vote. Instead, from the comfort of my home, I was able to call to households throughout Texas, Florida, and eventually Kansas as the weeks narrowed in on election day. The Texas and Florida calling was done through an automated system where I would sign in on my computer, the voters information is displayed on my screen, and I am on a single call with my phone that connects me to each person (i.e. I never hang up the phone) which was really easy. I would hear a beep and start talking through my script that displayed on my computer. Based on responses from the person called, I would ask different questions, and eventually end the conversation thanking them for their time.

Overall, the calls were enjoyable. The nice thing about the calling through Texas and Florida process was that it was automated meaning I only would speak to people that answered the phone. If they did not answer their phone, they would not connect with me on the phone. Obviously, this cut down on the amount of time spent on the phone with people that did not want to speak. However, there were some that would answer their phones and then ask to be removed from the calling list.

If you get a call, or text, from a polling place and you ask to be removed from the list, it is the law that you must be removed from their list.

If you were not aware as we are now done with the calling/texting for elections, if you get a call, or text, from a polling place and you ask to be removed from the list, it is the law that you must be removed from their list. The issue that happened during my time helping with getting people out to vote is that some people would say this is the sixth or seventh time your organization has called me today; the problem is that multiple organizations use the same lists which are shared by the state to which we are contacting. In the processes I was involved, both made it clear if someone asked to be removed from a list that we needed to do so.

The other area that I spent my time leading up to election day making calls and texts was of course Kansas. I spent almost every weekend to end the month of October involved in calling programs or texting for Kansas. Again, the process was enjoyable although Kansas had two different processes for calling with one using an automated system and the other we would use our own phone numbers to call voters. The texting part was my favorite as I could send out in batch and respond like email to the responses following a script. This was ideal as I could do these in the evening while watching television or eating dinner. Very easy and again people had the ability to opt out if they did not want to receive the texts.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

So, why was I interested in participating this year for the election? To get the word out to get people to vote. We already knew that it was going to be a huge election year with lots of voters. As we wait for states to finish up their vote counting, we see the large numbers that turned out before and on election day.

We should have this type of turnout, and interest, in the election process every election and not just this year during a pandemic. Still, even with COVID-19 cases ramping up, it is impressive how many people across the United States got out to vote early, went out on election day, and participated in the process.

I do plan to take part in future elections to help get the word out. It was a fun process and I enjoyed taking part. I enjoyed talking to voters with their concerns. I can think of a few calls that were extremely enjoyable and could have stayed on the phone with the person to discuss with them for hours about politics, the state of the country, and how we are hoping for change.

I trust you made your vote and participated in our election process. 

I hope you had an enjoyable process to cast your vote. I trust you made your vote and participated in our election process. Doing the volunteer process did allow me to understand those calls and texts I had been receiving leading up to when I started volunteering. Now, I try to answer or respond to texts when those come through because I can now relate with what they are doing.


Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Improvement to Mobile Site for www.haverty.net and Interested in Feedback on the New Mobile View Look

Screen Shot of New Mobile Web View

I made changes to the mobile view of this site. I realized that the mobile view was horrible and not easy to follow. Hopefully the new view is easier to read and follow. It should also be easier to browse the site, read articles, and get back to the home page or other sections of the site.

It is funny how bad the old mobile site was and I did not realize it even though I had checked the site multiple times on my cell phone but only realized it was bad when I was going back to read an old post from years ago and realized there was a lot of "dead" space at the top of the page that is not there when viewing on a computer.

The image to the right is the new view which resembles how it appears when accessing on a computer. Basically, I got rid of the odd blank space that was showing up on mobile devices when accessing the site.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please post a comment in the section below.


Sunday, November 01, 2020

Apple Music with Three Live Radio Streaming Options and My New Found Love

 

Apple Music Radio Stations
Quietly, Apple rolled out Apple Music which was formally called Apple Beats Radio for their live stream. I had not seen any posts or notifications in the Apple Music app but did notice as browsing the radio option that there were three live stations showing up. I had listened to the Beats Radio live station a few times through the years, but usually stuck with my own library to play songs I know and love.

Doing a search, I did find an announcement from Apple from August 18, 2020 (Apple announces Apple Music radio) about the change in name and the new stations being available. However, I do not recall seeing any tweets, email notices, etc., from Apple about the change when it was rolled out back in August. I just happened to stumble across it one day while looking through my music options.

Three options are offered for live music in addition to listening to your own library, new songs, etc. through the Apple Music app. First, they have Music 1 which features exclusives, remixes, and various hosts for every hour of the day. Next, you have the Music Hits station which includes artists hosting the shows which go throughout the day. The last live radio station is Music Country which is again live hosts, new songs, and discussions with various country artists. 

I have enjoyed all three live stations from Apple Music. My favorite and the one I listen to most days is the Music Country. I go through points in my life where I listen to all country, pop, blues, or whatever is trending. Country is a genre that I come back to throughout the year and while I used to only like the older artists from the 90's or early 2000's, I have found that I am enjoying some of the newer artists lately too.

I have tried other streaming services, but I am liking Apple Music the best so far. I think Carrie is going to let her subscription expire with Amazon Music and switch us over to the family plan for Apple Music which is only an additional $4. 

Happy music streaming to whatever service you enjoy. Feel free to respond to this post with your favorite service and what you like best about the service.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Audio Books with Recommendation to Listen to "A Very Punchable Face" by Colin Jost

A few weeks ago while out doing yard work, our neighbors and I started talking. We usually catch up social distancing style keeping our distance while we put yard work on hold. We talk about shows we are watching, recommendations for the other household to watch, etc. Kelly asked if I read very much or listen to podcasts and I told her I go through periods where I read a lot and then go to the other extreme where I do not read much at all. She suggested I should check out audio books and had a recommendation for me.

Normally, I we only listen to audio books when going on trips. Start the audio book as we leave Topeka and drive to where ever we are going with the book playing the whole time. Usually, we get to our destination and then finish the book on our way back to Topeka following the trip. Our most recent trip to Dallas/Houston, we started a book and it was so long that we ended up finishing it when we got back to our home.

I have tried doing podcasts which again I go through periods where I will listen to them and then not listen at all. I know they are what all the cool kids are doing and I enjoy them, but I find that I cannot listen to them at work because you know, I am working, and have to pay attention to the podcast, so it does not really work for me. I have tried to listen at home, but usually watching TV and cannot focus on the podcast.

The recommendation Kelly had for me was A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost. It was excellent! The audio book through the Topeka Public Library is read by Colin Jost, so you can hear his tone while he reads his book. I really enjoyed the experience.

I would listen to the book usually at night when going to bed. Spending anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes listening to one night I listened for a good hour before going to bed. I had told Carrie I had started the book and then proceeded to crack up throughout the book, so I would have to stop the book and fill her in on what was so funny. I won't do that here as I would recommend read, or listening, to the book as it is good! Carrie is on the waiting list to get the audio book too as she heard me laughing so much she wanted to listen to it too. 

I finished the book and immediately checked out Bossypants by Tina Fey. I am early in this book only starting it Friday night, but it sounds like it is going to be another good one. For now, I believe this will be my new thing to listen to books as I get ready for bed as I am enjoying the process.

It is possible that as I listen to audio books that I might go back and revisit podcasts again and try to get into the habit of listening to those again. First though, I will continue on this new audio book listening track. I am so happy that our neighbor told me about the book and started me on this new routine.


Fall Weather with Snow in the Forecast Tonight and Tomorrow

Fall weather is here! Hard to believe it is supposed to snow tonight. It seems that the cold and snow came out of no where. We had been having such nice weather the past few weeks, months, and then snow is in the forecast.

I have heard some "experts" say that they are predicting a bad winter. Lots of snow... cold... and more snow. We will see what happens. The way 2020 has gone so far, I could see us getting a blizzard or two to finish out the year.

Today, I did leaves for the first time this year. I am not sure I did leaves at all last year. Instead, I let the trees in our yard drop all of their leaves and then called to have someone come out and get them. Seemed to work well, but I am sure our neighbors did not like our doing this at all. Back yard had leaves that went over your shoes in most spots of the yard and of course when the wind would blow, it would throw the leaves all over the place in our yard and neighbors yard too. Even with fenced in back yard, the leaves can manage to find their way out of our yard and into other yards.

I probably do the lazy method for doing leaves. I do not like to rake so I usually use the mower to mulch and then go over them again to bag. Yes, causes more trips around the yard to do this method, but less bending over to pick up leaves. For the work today, I have two full bags of leaves. This was only the front yard and both large trees in the front basically have not dropped many of their leaves. The back yard, I decided not to do at all as there are only a few leaves on the ground in the back.

Meanwhile, our neighbor in back of us has already done his yard multiple times to pick up leaves just this past week. I am sure he cringes when he sees our yard, leaves everywhere, and I won't even go into how the yard looks in terms of grass. Oh well!

Now we wait to see what the weather brings tonight through tomorrow. Just how much snow will we get? Always fun with the first one or two snows and drivers in Topeka. Be safe and when we do get our first big snow, I am sure I will post about it here.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Saturday Night Live, Jim Carrey, Weekend update, and Other Discussion

Saturday Night Live has been on the air since 1975. During that time they have had a number of performers doing their skits with focus on whatever is happening currently in the news, the United States, or the world. The last four years, we have seen a lot of Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump to open the show. The majority of the times when Alec Baldwin opened the show, they were funny skits that made me laugh.

For the 2020-2021 season, we have Jim Carrey playing Joe Biden to open the show which has happened each of the first three episodes. Normally, I like Jim Carrey when he has played roles on SNL, his movies, or even his latest TV show Kidding on Showtime, but so far, I have not enjoyed the opening to the show each of the three times. They were not funny and wonder if someone else could have played Joe Biden instead. The best person to play Joe Biden was Jason Sudeikis, but I have to wonder if they asked him and he was not available.

I certainly watched SNL when I was growing up and through the years. I have gone through stretches where I did not care for the cast, the skits, and did not watch but maybe clips. The past few years, I have been watching the whole thing. Again, sometimes the skits are not funny at all, dumb, or they put in death into the skit which always seemed odd. 

My favorite part of SNL is Weekend Update. Colin Jost and Michael Che are perfect! I enjoy their back-and-forth and their jokes almost always get a laugh out of me. I love how they are always trying to throw the other cast member under the bus with comments about how the other one made a comments about something inappropriate. 

For whatever it is worth, I will continue to watch SNL, likely not laughing at the opening skit, but always looking forward to Weekend Update.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Lot of Happenings and Updates... From September 2019 to October 2020

Augusta Vin Winery

Intro

Busy time the past few months... which means no updates from me on here. I will see if I can catch up as I think through what has happened from 2019 to now. My last update was following a trip Carrie and I made to Minnesota to see the Royals play. While a lot has happened since that trip, I will cover some of the happenings briefly. Of course now we are all trying to do the best we can with COVID-19 affecting all aspects of our lives.

The fall semester had me finishing up my second to last class for the Masters of Communication and Leadership. A busy semester in the fall as I started my class after getting back from our trip to Minnesota which required a group project. Overall, the process went well and I enjoyed the course plus it put me one step closer to my final semester and Capstone project to be decided, researched, and written. Ultimately I finished my coursework and graduated spring 2020. However, like everyone else, we did not have a formal graduation and really not much of a celebration. Still planning to hold a party at some point to celebrate my accomplishment.



Tap That Topeka and Sports at Washburn 2019

Tap That Topeka Beer Festival
At the end of September after returning from Minnesota, we attended the 2019 Tap That Topeka. Always a good time, in 2019 we had another wonderful time. Sampled so many great beers and made some wonderful memories. This was our forth time to the beer festival and it is so fun. They moved it to be the evening which is much better so we do not roast in the summer sun. With COVID-19, the event was canceled. It was planned to be July 2020, but the whole event was canceled for safety concerns which was the right choice. Hoping they will have Tap That Topeka in the summer of 2021 and all of this is behind us. More information is available at the Tap That Topeka web site.

Throughout the fall and (part of) spring semester, we were attending sporting events at Washburn. Again this year we had season tickets to Washburn Football. We had a fun time at the games and always fun seeing family and friends at the game. Last year Greg and I decided to split tickets for Washburn basketball games. We made it to a lot of the home games although my class during the fall semester took me away from some games. No football for Washburn of course for the fall 2020 season. We have had some beautiful weather and sitting outside in my back yard, I think of all our great times at Washburn tailgates and football games. Again, hoping fall 2021 is much different and we are back at sporting events. I cannot image being an athlete and not being able to play.

UntitledKing Biscuit Blues Festival 2019

Thinking back to King Biscuit Blues Festival (KBBF) 2019 seems so long ago. Really missed not going this year and had fun sharing pictures, memories with friends and family when it would normally have occurred which would have been October 8 - 10, 2020. So, instead, I will review our time at the KBBF 2019 event.

Javier, Corrie, and Carrie were all able to join this year. We had a large time listening to great music, hanging out with family, and friends. As I recall, the weather was great for the KBBF 2019. 

Thursday Set List KBBF 2019
Thur Set List KBBF 2019
I managed to take pictures and keep them of the set lists for two of the days. The first day had fun artists performing. My favorite from the first day (Thursday) was Ruthie Foster. Much better now that we start a little later (noon) instead of 11 am which we did for a number of years and then finish a little earlier too. We used to get done around midnight each night, but now it is usually 10:30 or 11 depending on how late the last act performs.

I sure hope we can go back next year. I did spend the time it would have been this year (October 8 - 10) listening to lots of blues music. I listened to KBBF playlists I had created in previous years for acts playing each of the previous four years. Made for good memories and spent some time on the patio one nice day listening to songs and remembering the previous years.

Saturday KBBF Set List

The other set list I have is from the Saturday, October 12 list. Kate Brothers are always good and did not disappoint this time either. A good day spent all three days listening to music. Again, hard to believe that we did not have KBBF 2020 this year.

Maple Leaf Festival

As I was reviewing events we did in the end of 2019, I remembered we went to Maple Leaf Festival in Baldwin, KS. We always enjoy our time to the Maple Leaf Festival. We went with Greg, Erin, and Brenda. The weather was perfect although we did not buy a lot, we looked around at a lot of items and enjoyed the outdoors. Another even that because of COVID-19, we were unable to attend Maple Leaf Festival 2020 as it was canceled. Hoping this one will be back in 2021.

Chiefs Football and Champs!

Chiefs Football Game 2019
Jack, Tim, and John at Chiefs Game

What a year to be a Chiefs fan! I had the opportunity to go to a Chiefs game on December 1, 2019 with my brother Tim. Of course, he got perfect seats for us right on the 50 yard line and would not take any money for them... I did buy beers for us during the game though. 

It is still hard to believe that the Chiefs won the Super Bowl but it feels so good when I remember! We were 12 - 4 during the regular season 5 - 3 at home and then 7 - 1 on the road! Wow! Hard to believe that we watched on February 2, 2020. Had little idea what the rest of 2020 would look like for us with a huge SB win for our Chiefs.

I watched the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020 at Greg and Erin's with family and friends. Carrie was sick this day and unable to attend. You might recall that in 2014 when the Kansas City Royals went to the playoffs, Carrie was sick that first day and we had one of the most epic games in Royals baseball to come back, win, and go on to play in the World Series. So, it was probably an omen for Carrie to be sick for the Super Bowl as we did need a miracle to come back and win that game. I recall going into the fourth quarter and we were all pretty sad bunch watching the game. That all quickly changed and game over with Chiefs winning it all. Fun memory to remember and it seems like so long ago with everything going on.

New Years Eve off the Hook

Brenda, Carrie, and John New Years Eve 2019
Brenda, Carrie, and I New Years Eve 2019
For the first time in I do not recall how long, we decided to have a New Years Eve party to finish out 2019. Who knew that it would be the last party we could have for a while. We invited a number of our friends and family to attend. We had a lot of fun to bring in the New Year. 

We did all the normal things on a New Years Eve celebration. Drinks (lots of drinks), food, conversation, and games. We played games with small groups and games with everyone attending. A few of us played games until almost 3 am. I did finally have to stop drinking and say I was going to go to bed... I might have received a little grief from my brother-in-law, Greg, but he did not want the night to end as we were all having so much fun. 

See all the pictures from our New Years Eve 2019 celebration on Flickr.

Wine and Friends Trip to Fredericksburg, TX 2020

During the summer of 2019, Corrie, Javier, Chuck, Melissa, Carrie, and I all had the idea of meeting up in Fredericksburg, Texas in January 2020. We picked out a VRBO place to stay. Had a wonderful time. So much so that we are planning to do so again this year pending any restrictions that might be in place come January 2021. We took a lot of memories from our trip with 111 pictures during our trip. Some great pictures in the group and wonderful memories of spending time with friends in Texas.

We are planning another trip now for January 2021 by going through to make our selections for where to stay. We think we want to stay some place different than we did last time. I expect a lot more pictures and a lot more stories... I will try to record where we go this time around so I can write it here and note our favorites. 

Oh, I did forget to mention that we did sign up for two wine clubs which has been fun getting wine in the mail about every three months. This is the first time we have ever signed up for a wine club and we did two of them while in Texas. We had wine shipped back years ago from California when we visited wine country, but had never signed up for a wine club. So fun! It is obvious we need to drink more wine though as it is starting to collect in our dining room wine cabinets.

Quick Trip to Lincoln, NE

Took a quick weekend trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to see a band with Greg and Erin. This happened on a weekend about a week after we had returned from Texas. A friend of Erin and Greg was the stage manager for Blue Man Group, so we went up to see them and enjoy the town. I had never seen the Blue Man Group and had a really good time. I think we hit just about every brewery and drank a lot of delicious beers. For a quick get away, and again not knowing this would be one of our last get a ways for a few months, it was a lot of fun.

More on Sports, Kansas Basketball, Washburn, and March

When I started this post back in early February, I thought we would be enjoying sports, like usual, throughout the spring season. March Madness was about to begin, Chiefs had won the Super Bowl, and baseball was about to start. Greg and I had our season tickets for Washburn basketball games and still had a few games to attend. The first part of March looked to be a regular start of March Madness with basketball starting.... and then just about the time all the tournaments were starting, everything was canceled. Some games resumed, but eventually all games were canceled and the difficult decision was made by the NCAA to cancel all tournaments including the NCAA Tournament. 

I cannot image what it was like to be an athlete during this past year and then having the season canceled. Essentially going the rest of the spring season without sports and then student athletes, and professional athletes, not knowing what the summer or fall season would look like for sports. We all went about five months without any sports at all. It was difficult for a spectator, but again, I cannot imagine how it felt for athletes not being able to play. 

Here we are now in October and closing fast on the end of 2020... which we are all ready to have end... Sports are happening now but with limited fans, or in the case of baseball, no fans at all. We started seeing sports again in July as cases of COVID-19 began to decline, but now we are seeing cases increase again with our highest single day totals since the pandemic began. We will see where we go from here with sports and hope we can continue to have sports in our lives and everyone one of us stays healthy and safe during these trying times.

COVID-19, Working from Home, and Lack of Exercise

No doubt that COVID-19 rocked all of our lives. It has changed how we live forever and no where is this seen more than in our work lives. We were very busy at work getting everyone ready to work remote for our faculty, staff, and students and eventually everyone in ITS was working from home. We did this for for about three solid months. In June, I started going back full-time with only one other person from my office going in with me. Everyone else and much of the campus was working from home. 

Working from home was fun the first few weeks. Get out of bed, put on a nice shirt, brush my hair, and get ready for the day. No travel time needed and had everything I needed because I was at home. After a about a month of this setup, it started to get old for me. First of all, the first few weeks I sat at our table in our family room basically all day long and my back started hurting so bad I could barely walk. I had to make sure I took breaks in order to get up from the table and at least walk around, go outside to play with Oliver, or basically get away from work. 

I found myself working more at home because I could get up in the morning, start working, and then go into the evening hours continuing to work because it was all right there on-line and ready for me to do any time of the day. We had a lot happening between about end of March to the beginning of June, so there was always something that could be done and always something that needed to be done.

For most of the time working at home, Carrie and I would have an adult beverage at exactly 5 pm every night of the week. It got to the point where I could not wait for 5 pm to happen so we could have our drink. This happened during the week and weekends and often times would not only have a drink but continue to work while I had a beverage. We were eating in a lot with Carrie doing the cooking so things were good. 

Slowly, I noticed that after the first month when I would join an on-line meeting my neck was thicker, rolls in my throat were starting to really show. In June when I finally started going back to work and had to start wearing pants appropriate for work, I found that my regular work pants no longer fit. Yes, I had been eating and drinking with no exercise for so long that I had outgrown my regular work pants. I was left wearing jeans which were a little too big when I first started wearing them back in February and now were a little snug.

As the months progressed through the summer months, Carrie and I started to order more on-line for delivery. Again, not much exercise happening but we had slowed down on having beverages every night starting a 5. We agreed that we would only have beverages on the weekends and not every night of the week. This helped a little as I could get back into my work pants again and did not have to throw them all out and buy new. 

I also started running during this time which was good. I ran for about eight weeks and then I got lazy and basically stopped completely. I have not run in so long at this point, I would have to start over. I could start again as I truly enjoy running, but I have found that my knees are very painful. Hurts to go down the stairs when I get up in the morning and lately my right knee hurts if I kneel and put any weight on my right knee with sharp pains going through my knee. So, not ideal, but I think it is from running. So, I do not plan to run any more. More on this on a future post about exercise plans.

Now in October, we are fully back in the office at least for my area. Other areas of IT are working remotely, but for our area, we need to be on site to install computers, meet with our customers, and keep the campus going as there is on site instruction and work to be done.

Graduation

Virtual Graduation from Washburn University 2020
Virtual Graduation from Washburn University 2020

I did it! I graduated! Not the ending I, or anyone who graduated in 2020, expected, but it is where we were at at the time. I saw my name scroll across on a virtual graduation. Shared some pictures, texts, and emails with friends who graduated with me. Still hoping to have a party eventually in our back yard to celebrate my accomplishment, but that will wait for another time and might just be a party to have a party.

I graduated with a Masters in Communication and Leadership from Washburn University in May 2020. It took me four years to complete taking only one course each semester. The first year, we were not offered any summer classes, but I believe the other summers we did have summer classes we were able to take which helped speed up the process to graduation. Overall, I really enjoyed the process and the courses. Being all on-line means lots of writing in forums for thoughts and discussions with fellow students; it also meant lots of papers with papers being required in every one of the classes. Sometimes with multiple papers required for one class. 

I think the discussions and papers helped me to understand the content and made some lasting connections with students in my classes. With others being in the classes from Washburn I knew some of them already, but this was not only discussing with them in discussion posts, but often times doing group projects with them too.

I am happy to be done. After I graduated in 1999, I never thought I would go back to school. I am so happy that Washburn University created and approved the Masters of Communication and Leadership as it was exactly what I needed and fit perfectly with my expectations for the program and career. 

Wrap It All Up to End this Post

A lot has happened since my last post as outlined above. I was sidetracked in doing posts to my blog with finishing school, work, and then COVID-19 affecting our lives. I post this to catch up with some of the things that have happened since my last post, as I mentioned, but also to help get me back into the swing of posting on a regular basis. My goal is to post at least once a week from this point forward... might not be long posts, like this one, but at least once a week is my goal. See how it works out and looking forward to regular posts again.

Be safe and connect with your friends and family as often as possible.


Monday, October 12, 2020

Middle of October and Only a Few Months Left in 2020

Where has 2020 gone and where have I been? I look out at my blog as see the last time I posted was September 28, 2019. Wow! Time has flown! I admit, February 2020 through about August 2020 seems like a blur. COVID-19 started and caused a lot of issues with all of our lives. 

Well, this is a short post to say I am going to start posting to my blog again. I am going to set aside time to write mainly because I enjoy doing the updates. Watch for new posts in the coming week and I am planning to be posting on a regular basis on a variety of issues. Who knows, I might even get back to posting about grilling again as that has not been happening much either.

I hope you are staying safe! More posts later and I look forward to hearing from you.