Wednesday, June 13, 2012

1940 US Census Indexing

I am so thrilled that the indexing for the 1940 US Census has passed the 50% mark. It is amazing to me to realize how much has been done in so little time.
With the exception of New York, all of the states I have indexed so far are states where I have lived. I served my mission for the LDS church in West Virginia. Lived in San Francisco area of California a couple years after graduating from high school. And I am now calling North Carolina home.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Scout trip to Edisto Beach (Benjamin's Birthday)

This year, the scout troop decided to camp out at the beach in the middle of winter. We went to Edisto Beach south of Charleston, SC the weekend of January 27th-28th.

Our family had gone to Charleston area once before. In the middle of August. It was hot. And it stormed like crazy when we were there. I still really liked the area and had always planned going back when it wouldn't be so hot.

Going to the beach in the middle of winter actually sounded pretty good.

We knew that it would mean that Benjamin was away from home on his 17th birthday, but I figured we could make it up by going out for dinner in Charleston.
Our first sign of trouble was when we lost our direction in Walterboro, SC. It was late in the evening by the time we arrived there. The young men's president was driving the lead van with one of his counselors navigating. They must have gotten off track on the map, because they started driving very slowly through town and started taking some erratic turns. In hindsight, I should have pulled over and gotten everybody together to get better aligned. Unfortunately, I didn't.

Then the YM president pulled a U-turn in an intersection. The scoutmaster and I followed suit. A minute later, a police car pulled up beside me with his lights flashing. I pulled over in a bank parking lot. The other two cars, kindly came back to the parking lot. We all had our licenses and registration checked, and we got a stern lecture from the police officer about how in Walterboro people didn't drive like that.

We got away without tickets, but we felt sheepish and grateful that we were let off with a lecture.

A couple minutes later, we were following the directions on the scoutmaster's GPS. The GPS must have gotten its wires crossed because we ended up in a field that was straight out of a movie where unsuspecting travelers get lost and then roughed up by the locals. We quickly got out of there and back on our way.

By then, we were ready to get to the beach without further incident. We still struggled to get necessary directions from the scoutmaster's GPS, but we eventually made it to the campground and the beach.

It turns out that Benjamin was beginning to get a fever by that time. After all the adventure making it to the beach, we actually considered returning home due to Benjamin really not feeling well. The YM president and I gave him a blessing and decided we'd see how things were in the morning.

In the morning, Benjamin was feeling well enough for us to stay.

We had a great time at the beach. The weather was perfect--not too hot, but not cold either. We largely had the beach to ourselves. As a storm had blown through a couple days before, tons of shells had washed up to shore. It was probably the best shell collecting opportunity I've seen. We took home a shoebox full of shells.

One of the things we did while at Edisto Beach was to go to the Environmental Learning Center where we learned more about some of the things we had seen at the beach. The staff there was incredibly friendly and gracious. We were given entry into one of their classrooms when a class wasn't in session. In the classroom, they had a finch that they were rehabilitating. The finch had taken to the staff there, but was typically uneasy around visitors. However, a couple of us were surprised when the finch came and landed on us.

In the evening, Benjamin and I headed out to eat in Charleston to celebrate his birthday. Unfortunately, by then his fever had been roaring. We ended up just getting him into the car and trying to get home as quickly as we could, so he could get some much needed rest.

It was a tough ending to a great weekend, but I think we were both glad to have gone. The beach was terrific.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Son of Neptune, by Rick Riordan

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus, #2)The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun book by Rick Riordan. Riordan keeps the action going as Percy Jackson teams up with the Romans to ward off the oncoming attack of Gaea.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus, #1)The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun book. Great mash of Roman and Greek mythology. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Anxious for the Year-end Close to End

Boxers in the rink
Getting my clock cleaned.
photo by Profound Whatever via PhotoRee

Commence belly-aching.

There are a few times each year when work just gets to be very demanding. It is always challenging. I can appreciate that — it beats being bored, after all.

However, in the environment I am in, some of the more challenging times are during quarter-end and year-end closing of the financial books. This is especially true when auditors are involved. The auditors are good people, who I actually enjoy being around. But the nature of the work that they do is usually mind wracking. After all, who likes having someone look for errors in the work they are doing.

For some reason, this is especially true with this year-end close. The closing of the books themselves, this time around went fairly well. We made good time, and there weren't too many last-minute adjustments.

However, the aftermath with explaining differences from the target and having to explain the financial calculations with the auditors has been more challenging.

I am ready for a nice vacation.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Last night instead of watching a movie from Netflix like we normally do, we watched the finale of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. After nine seasons, the series is coming to an end. Apparently, due to sagging ratings. (In my opinion, this is one of the few reality shows worth watching.)

The series finale found Ty Pennington and his crew in Joplin, Missouri where a tornado tore apart the town in May, 2011. In the show, the crew built seven new homes for seven families in the Joplin area. Not only did the show share the heart tugging experiences of the families whose lives had been unglued by the tornado.

Mary Ann Riojas a former recipient of the work done by the show shares about hearing the end of the series. "I was kinda bummed cuz I was hoping they would come back to Fresno so we could see the other end of it. Get to be here when all the action was taking place, Cuz we missed all that when it happened to us yeah, I was kinda bummed out."

Not only did the show build Riojas' family a new home that enables her to maneuver throughout in her wheelchair but also provides a nice environment for her four children. The show also gave her the hope and courage to change her life. Since the show, she has become a full-time sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Her then fifteen-year-old son, Angel, who was drifting at the time, was given the chance to go onto college where he is preparing to become a registered nurse.

In the final episode, Ty and crew built homes for seven families in a newly created neighborhood near a park that they brought back to life.

The seven families were

  1. The Howard family. Dad, Kyle is firefighter who was one of the first responders to the aftermath of the tornado. At home, wife Jill, huddled in a bathtub with her sons Konnor, Korbin and Kevin.
  2. Crystal Cogdill, who lost a son in the tornado.
  3. Crystal Whitely, who happened to be a neighbor to Cogdill. She lost two children in the tornado.
  4. Natalie and Scott Gonzalez. The two were living together at the time of the tornado. After the tornado, they determined to get married. During the show, the two were surprised with the opportunity to get married on the show.
  5. The Nguyens. Than Nguyen served in the Vietnamese Air Force alongside American troops. He was held captive during the war for eleven years. He migrated to the United States to begin a new life. At 71, he had recently retired.
  6. The Nevins family.
  7. The Walters family.

All of the families served their treasured town of Joplin during and after the tornado. Whether that was in their professions as teachers, firemen, and nurses, or as neighbors concerned about the welfare of those around them.

As a family, we will miss watching Extreme Makeover. ABC network indicates that there will be future special episodes

Monday, January 9, 2012

Malaprop's Bookstore

Malaprops Bookstore, Asheville
Malaprops is a wonderful bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina.
Malaprops Bookstore, Asheville, NC

This past Saturday, our family decided to go to downtown Asheville to hang out and see the sites. It's telling that the place our family decided to go was to Malaprop's bookstore. Malaprops is a great independent bookstore in the heart of downtown. (Not far from the downtown public library, incidentally.)

Our family is a lover of books. Everyone from Carolyn on up has a love affair with books. We each have our own interests, but it's not uncommon for the same book to pass through several hands before our family is through with it. (This Christmas break, Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series passed through our family. My favorite book was The King of Attolia, the third book in the series.)

Back to Malaprop's though. The bookstore has been at the bedrock of Asheville from the downtown revitalization that began back in the 1980's. In fact the owner of Malaprop's, Emoke B'Racz, indicates that when she first opened the bookstore she was able to spend most of her capital on books rather than on rent. At that time, she says, "you could walk 3 blocks in any direction before you found a door not nailed down."

Her purpose in starting Malaprop's was to create "a place where poetry matters, where women’s words are as important as men’s, where one is surprised by excellence, where good writing has a home, where I could nurture my addiction to literature, and play, enjoy, and entertain people drawn to quality books."

On our trip to the bookstore Saturday night, I noted as the family ambled through the rows of bookshelves that the store embodied the essence of the quirkiness and homeliness of Asheville--current, suburban, with an emphasis on conscious living.

I found a whole bookshelf on Yoga. While next to it was the business section which only had a few books.

When we lived in Seattle, there were bookstores focused on computers and technology. In Asheville, there is a bookstore that is dedicated to poetry, consciousness, and sustainable living.

While our family is not the most liberal, we enjoyed our trip to Malaprop's and will be back for more.