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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Introducing my Guest Blogger

Beginning this Friday I am leading a team of 10 from our church to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where we are going to be meeting up with resident missionaries originally from our church to help build classrooms for their bible school. We will be in country from Saturday to Saturday.

If you want to know where, what and why about Guatemala or any other country, check out this link. (The CIA is so user friendly.)

So, during this time I am not going to leave you high and dry with a week of Shannoning and a plea to check out some links on the side of my blog hoping you'll all come back in a week. Instead I have made arrangements with a great friend of mine to guest blog for me while I'm gone.

Many of you know her as the one who keeps me in line. I know her as my best friend and wife.

Hope you all enjoy her insight and comments. Please take it easy on her. Her cynnical humor isn't as polished as mine is, but she still tries. I'm not sure how connected I'll be. Intenet is a bit of a luxury, but if I get the chance I'll send some updates for Deann to post.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

More hair

Not wanting to lose out on an opportunity to share in the excitement, I thought I would give one more example of great hair. Just a few pages back in the yearbook, I came across this one. Must have been after I cut my hair, but That hot girl across from me... WOW!

How sweet young love is. How passionate young lovers are. How easy it is to forget what ratted curls, a Dairy Queen visor, and a honkin huge class ring look like despite the passion.

Despite all that, she was and still is pretty hot eh?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Worst hair ever

We're all old enough now to be able to look back on our lives and remember that one hair cut that we thought made us look so cool, but now that we're about 10 years older we realize... maybe not so much.

Well when MSN gave a tribute to the mullet and mullet music (link here), it reminded me of my hair-do that made me feel cool at the time, but in reality made my history a little spotty. Because I'm secure in who I am, I'll give you a glimpse of that georgeous hair via my senior yearbook.

Now that you've all laughed it up, just know that my then girlfriend, now wife Deann was upset that my mom made me cut my hair for my senior pictures. And no jokes about what 80 pounds does to a studly physique.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Weekly Poll #3

Results of last week's poll are as follows:

Did you have your flu shot this year?
0% Of course - it is a safe and reasonalbe action
0% Yeah - work had them for free and I was bored
0% Yeah, I think so.. or was that last year?
0% Doh - forgot again... maybe next year
9% No way - no one is coming near me with a needle
45% Nope - I'm always healthy as a horse
45% No - It's a government conspiracy to collect DNA samples

Hmm - perhaps Betsy made a very astute comment that we are a little paranoid. Me, I'm just lazy and forgot. I am glad to see that only 9% are afraid of needles. Fear of the government is one thing, but fear of needles? Come on... let's get real.

Check out this weeks poll. A little more serious topic.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

All my peeps

Wishing all my Peeps a happy Easter.

Hope you have a great celebration for such a great occasion.

Friday, March 25, 2005

March 25th, 2002

3 years ago today, while living in Tulsa, Oklahoma Tyler Benjamen Barrett came into the world. Three years later, we woke up to the voice of a blonde haired, blue eyed, 3 year old boy asking where his birthday was. It was after all his birthday. He had wanted it for a long time. He waited patiently for it, and now he wanted to know where it was so he could have it.

Like any 3 year old's party - first came pizza...

...then came cake! (Notice the hockey jersey? I'm still living vicariously through my son.)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

How fast are ya?

I've always prided myself for being quick on the keyboard. Not wicked quick, but still pretty fast. So, I came across this cute little game Typer Shark that turned into an obsession.

An hour later.... a score of 1,566,725... 20 levels, and a ranking of "Aqua Lung, I was typing 71 words per minute with 92% accuracy.

Okay, I know, but you'll see why only 92% after you get about 16 levels deep - if you get 16 levels deep!

I actually made 90wpm on a couple of levels, but it was mostly luck and reaction at that speed.

So, how do you stack up against the master typer? Are you a shark killer or guppy fodder?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Weekly Poll #2

It's the beginning of another week. Okay, it's Tuesday night, but I've been sick so give me a break.

This week's poll shows the following results

What is your favorite type of movie?
Romance 38%
Classics 13%
Comedy 38%
Action Adventure 13%
Horror 0%
Drama 0%

So, you can see a bunch of romantic comedy fans here.
My apologies about not anticipating the need to vote for more than one movie style. I'll try to be better in the future.

Check out this week's poll over here -------->
Thought it would be appropriate since Tyler (youngest son) has been blowing chunks out both ends since Saturday and I've been sick since Sunday. Honestly, I think our house is like bacteria culture with doors and windows.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Shannoning Sick Day

I'm not intentionally shannoning. I'm sick.
Have a ear ache that hurts. Slept most of the day. Tried working a little.

Went to the doc. They didn't even give my any good pain meds.

Why is it that when your ear hurts, they have to stick this ice cold pointy thing in it to make sure it hurts... Really, trust me, it hurts.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Letting the geek out

Ask my wife... I'm a geek, dork, nerd, whatever you want to call it. I keep useless knowledge and an obsessive passion for information most could care less about. To illustrate this, I found this personality quiz absolutely great. Brought back all the fun days of highschool chemistry.

Link - tells you what element on the periodic chart you are most like.

I am Zinc (Zn)

I scored 28 Mass, 34 Electronegativity, 65 Metal, and 0 Radioactivity!

I have a strong sense of the communal good and I am not too demanding. I know better than to mess with the powers that be. I value being surronded by the right people, but don't care too much about what people beyond my group think of me. I am also the last element to be mentioned in every vitamin commercial, and have gained recognition throughout the 50+ community as the very symbol of "completeness." Hmm, I might be good at taking care of sick people, but that might be hogwash too.

The test tracked 4 variables How I compared to other people my age and gender:

I scored higher than 21% on Mass
I scored higher than 67% on Electroneg
I scored higher than 84% on Metal
I scored higher than 1% on Radioactivity

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Commential Success

Just like I wrote about commential failure - by the way, thank you all for your support. It was very theraputic to get my feelings out and then to see that I'm not alone, but should possibly lighten up - There is a level of commential success that I didn't talk about. This is the pinnacle of success for commenting. It occurs when a comment you leave leads to a post on the blog. It's happened to me once before, and I still contemplate what I can do to repeat my success.

Well, I bestow this top honor of commential success to Brad.

Brad's comment of "Do you have a set time you blog? I realize it can be therapeutic...but for me, like everything else, I have to make a special slot to compile my thoughts. What is your blog ritual?" got me thinking what I do, and how I do it.

Typically I blog first thing in the morning at work. Work starts at 8:30, but I usually get there at 8:20. So I spend 10-25 minutes researching and writing. However, I found that the best thing for me to do is keep one extra posting in the hopper. In other words, I write today what I'm going to post tomorrow. At one time I thought about developing a schedule for what I would blog about. Monday - local news item; Tuesday - national news item; Wednesday - weird news story; Thursday - management/leadership/church issues; Friday - open forum. But, I thought that would be a little formal, so I just wing it. But, I'm beginning to think along those lines again. We'll see what happens.

Today was a total exception to my ritual because my office machine tanked and I've been without for 2 days, so tonight after dinner I had to sit down and write. I don't think I'm as structured as Brad. I know I'm not as structured as my wife Deann. In college she would write her daily tasks hour by hour. 1-2 class; 2-3 study; 3-4 watch oprah. Yeah.. definately not that structured. I more think subconsciously about an idea throughout the day and collect items to mentally file away, then I have something to write about when the time comes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Commential Failure

I measure the success of my daily posting by the number of comments I receive. If I get zero then I pretty much stunk that day. If I get 1-2 then it was okay. 3 and more and I've hit a home run. Maybe that's not an accurate assessment, but it's my feelings so to me it's right.

Maybe it's my competitiveness, or my desire to perform, but I also measure the comments I leave on someone else's blog as well. If someone responds to my comment, then I've made a great comment. If not, well then maybe it was dumb or maybe it was just lost in the shuffle. But, what I term as a "commential failure" is when I leave a comment on a blog and it is the last comment left. It's bound to happen by law of probability from time to time, but lately I've noticed that my comments are almost always the last comment. This makes me think that I killed what ever momentum was created by the blogger and previous commenters. Even if I'm the first or second commenter, I'll be the last. Maybe I'm the 11th commenter - I'm the last.

I'm really developing a bit of a complex about it. I began leaving more comments about 6 weeks ago in hopes to attract more readers and bloggers, thus more commenters to my blog, but who's going to post comments based on commential failures like I've been posting. I've even given thought to taking writing classes or reading a "how to write" book.

I'd ask the question "so what do you think?" but zero comments on that might send me into a tail spin. Oh, the horror... Oh, the humanity...

So how's that for transparency?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"Beware the Ides of March"

About the only thing I learned from sophmore english in highschool was to beware the Ides of March. I have absolutely no reason why I remember that saying, but only that it was from Shakespear's Julius Caesar. Until much later in life I never liked, much less appreciated Sakespeare. I just always knew to beware the Ides of March.

Assuming that you don't have this fettish for the Ides of March like I do, it is basically the 15th of March, the day that the fotrune teller told Julius Caesare to be careful, and eventually he was killed on that day. For a more complete definition, read here.

But, let me caution you... Beware the Ides of March.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Weekly Poll #2

Yet another week has passed and I'm here to share the results of last weeks polling data.

Now that Martha Stewart is out of prison, will you like her:
0% More - I've been waiting for her release
50% More - Used to hate her, now she's cool
13% Same - I still love her
25% Same - I still hate her
13% Less - Prison made her dirty

Sounds like going to prison made Martha a bit more popular. Maybe it's her prison tat's she got, especially the one she drew herself on that lovely parchment paper painted with a brush she made from some sun dried plant leaves she collected from her cell's window flower planter.

Check out this week's poll. We're going to see a movie tonight and can't really figure out what to see. That made me wonder what kinds of movies you like to see. Personally, I like lots of different types, but I'm always a sucker for a romance (as long as it's not too sappy) But I keep that balanced out with a healthy regiment of action-adventure.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Finishing 2nd

I went to a meeting this morning to hear Greg Lorber, Methamphetamine Specialist of the Iowa Department of Human Services talk about meth use in Iowa. If you're not familiar with meth, you should educate yourself. This is a picture of 10 years of meth use. Yes, it's the same lady in all the pictures... she's dead now.

Iowa ranks 2nd in the nation in meth production. I live in Henry County, which is 2nd in the state of Iowa for meth production. So to say that I am in the middle of meth country would be very accurate. I know personally at least 10 people who are currently using, or trying to get off of meth.

Here are some statistics / facts about meth.
  • Meth is almost always addictive from one use
  • If you use more than 3 times, fewer than 3% quit using
  • Meth dammages the part of the brain the produces dopamine. After one use, the brain can never produce normal amounts again.
  • You never get as high as you do on your first hit. As a result, you continually chase what you can never have again.
  • After two uses, your brain is so dammaged that you become permanently depressed and no amount of anti-depressant medication can compensate for your brain's inability to produce dopamine.

I have no idea why anyone would ever use meth if they understand what it does.

I heard story after story of families torn apart by meth. One where the parents both used. They had 4 kids under the age of 6. The 6 year old took care of the other 3. Fed them, changed diapers, did everything. When DHS came to take the kids, the 6 year old asks "Where are you taking my brothers and sisters?" The parents didn't ask anything.

Makes me mad.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Dr. Campolo Speaks

Yesterday I went and heard Dr. Tony Campolo speak at Iowa Wesleyan College (local college here in Pleasantville). I've heard him before and was kind of interested to see him in person. He was a great, very articulate speaker. He made his points clear and easy to understand, yet spoke with a high level of intelligence.

I was already formulating in my mind exactly what great things I was going to say about him until he said he would take one more question from the floor and a man stood and asked "Dr. Campolo, with the recent tsunami in the east, the atheists are having a hay day saying there is no God because God would never let this happen. Or, if there is a God, he must be weak. How would you respond to these accusations?"

Great question! I sat back ready for a great answer... which never came.

The answer given was that God, who is powerful has given up his power in exchange for love. You can not have both love and power at the same time. He stated that when God came to earth in the form of man, he gave up his power because he came as a servant (translated from the Greek, it says servant) Because of this, he was showing us that he was relinquishing his power. Of course he'll come back full of power some day for his second coming, but at this point.... no power.

I learned a hard lesson years ago when I thought I knew it all and challenged then Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders in front of a group of college students and was quickly put in my place by her superior intellect. Of course if you remember her and her topic of choice, you may understand why. As a result I was not going to even think about asking the question that was screaming inside my head. I will share it with you however.

"When Acts 2 speaks of receiving power from the Holy Spirit (as much God as Jesus is) how does that equate to God not having power?" Acts 2 occurred after Jesus came to earth as a servant. The power has to be given if we are going to receive and the one giving has to have it to give it. Even if you don't believe that Acts 2 is for today, which as an American Baptist Dr. Campolo does not - I think his exact words were to the effect of "I don't believe in speaking in Tongues... I don't even believe in kissing in tongues" - you still have to believe that power was given to the disciples on the day of pentecost, which deflates his argument that God quit having power when Jesus came to earth. Even deflates the argument that God has power, but quit using it when Jesus came to earth.

Dr. Campolo, sorry, but I can't say much good about you after hearing that lame answer.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Diggin in the Dirt of your past

Many churches pay a company $25 or more to check the details of a potential volunteer's background, but because we aren't a huge mega-church with deep pockets, we do our own background checks on our volunteers. Probably not as thorough, but we've done our due diligence so a court of law can free us from responsibility if something terrible ever happened (I hope).

Because I have this repressed desire to be a Private Investigator, I get to do the background checks. I get a weird feeling when I do them. I love to pry into people's pasts without them knowing. I am a true voyeur. But, I always feel a little dark after reading about how people used to... and in some cases still do live their lives.

Well if you want to do some PI work yourself, check out these links. Usually all you need is a name and at most a date of birth to accurately identify a person and their shady past.
I've discovered information ranging from "speeding 5-10mph over limit" to felony drug charges and domestic abuse. Each state is a little different in what they show. For example, Iowa gives speeding tickets, but Oklahoma gives divorce filings. Background checks are more interested in anything Simple Misdemeanor and above. But remember the simple misdemeanor of 4th degree theft can be stealing from a pharmacy, or it can be writing a check that bounces and then not being able to cover it.

Here's some links to states that I know most of my readers would be interested in.

Illinois <-- pain to use - doesn't allow a comprehensive search

Monday, March 07, 2005

Weekly Poll

As mentioned last time, I'm going to post the results of my weekly poll and post a new one.

Well, the results are in and the results are overwhelmingly accurate.

Question: What do you think of me?

11% You're the best
11% Love you forever
44% Funny, but still stupid
11% Cocky, yet arrogant
11% Jerk
11% None of the above

Analyzing the data, you can throw out "Love you forever" since obviously my wife voted. (That was you wasn't it honey?) And "Jerk" is obviously a mis-click or someone who didn't understand the question, so "Funny, but still stupid" is the common denominator for me. Well... I can live with that... I guess... if I have to.

Not sure why that adds up to 99% and who the other 1% is, but I'm sure it's part of the + or - 4% they talk about in all polls.

Thank you for casting your vote and make sure to check out this weeks poll. I was going to ask "What do you think of Noelle?" (reason why) but I think she would get better results than I did, so I opted for something safer.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Matt's Weekly Poll

2 weeks ago I started with the cute little idea of adding a poll to my blog.
Checked out a few and decided I'd make a go of it.

Here's the long term plan. (I got a plan for everything)

Every week I'll put up a new question / poll / survery or something in question form.
At the start of the next week, I'll make fun of the results that I get... no just kidding, I'll probably make fun of something, but it won't be you... Unless someone else checks "jerk" on the quiz over there ------>
Then the gloves come off!

Thanks in advance for participating in the poll.
I like to get feedback from my readers.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Some pretty odd stuff

Lately, I've been exploring the web again. Remember when you used to do that because everything was fresh and new? Then it kind of lost its purpose because everything was just a rip off of the last page you saw. Well, for me, the fun has come back. Check this out.

If you're too lazy to shake your own 8 ball for answers, just call this person and they'll do the shaking for you. Magic 8 Ball Better yet, call the same number and ask for the smell update and the person on the other end of the line will tell you what they are currently smelling.

I called the guy... Asked for a smell update. He said "Oh, well last night some friends and I found some ipecac syrup in the fridge and drank it. I got some on my coat so I kind of smell like puke." He apologized because it was kind of a bad smell update. I said "thanks" He said "alright"

That's what I love about the web - the old web from the mid 90's when it wasn't about charging $1.99 per minute to find out what they are smelling. Hey, I've got free incoming minutes on my cell phone, I'm doing it for free, cause the internet should be free.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Search me

I love Google. I love Gmail, I love google.com, I love the creators of Google and their mothers too. I especially love my Google toolbar. I have it on every machine I use. It's the first thing I load when I start using a new machine.

Google has recently released the beta version of the tool bar called Toolbar 3.

Get it here

It has the usual features. Instant Google searching, pop up blocker, and search for the word within the site, but it also has added to it a spell checker. I am forever copying and pasting words into my Google toolbar to see if I've spelled them correctly. When I get the "Did you mean:" at the top of the results, I know I'm wrong and what they suggest is usually right. Well, now I can just click a button and it spell checks for me. It checks spelling on words entered into web forms, underlines them in red, just like Word and even gives suggestions of correct spellings when right-clicked. Wow - I'm in love all over again.

I just finished spell checking this post and I had 7 corrections. I hope someday you all can find true love like I have.