About the author.

Welcome to The blog of whall

Come on in and stay a while… laugh a little. Maybe even think. Read more...

Hi, This is Wayne. This is my site, my stuff, my blog, blahblahblah. The site itself is powered by WordPress and the Scary Little theme. I thought it was cool, and I still do.

2:16 pm
Post Meta :

As many of you know, I’m a proud daddy of two great kids: Jaden and Caitlin.   This post is about Caitlin and your chance to watch her tomorrow afternoon LIVE from the ALAMODOME.

That’s right, the Alamodome.

As many of you also know, Caitlin is currently a drum major in Vandegrift High School Marching Band.  This very young school music program, only in it’s 3rd year in existence, has recently advanced to the Texas UIL State finals for Class 4A Marching Band.  This means they are in the top 24 out of 250 bands in the State (after District and Area qualification rounds).

[insert fist pump here]

That’s a pretty big deal.  Texas is already blessed with a great reputation for music education.  On top of that, the Viper band is actually fairly small for a 4A band.  Due to the way the school was formed (first year was 9th and 10th graders only, then second year added 11th, then this year added 12th), the senior class is quite small.  There are only 17 seniors in the band.  That’s rather small for Class 4A (total school size between 990-2064). 

Why do I mention it?  Well, thanks to Yamaha and Mr Video Productions, you can WATCH TEXAS UIL STATE CONTEST ONLINE FOR FREE!


It’s actually going on right now — Monday the 7th and Tuesday the 8th.  There’s an entire schedule of events available at uiltexas.org.

Vandegrift plays at 1:15pm CENTRAL (2:15 eastern, 11:15am Pacific) on Tuesday 11/8/2011, so if you’d like to see my daughter and her band nice and clear on your PC, you can click the above link and watch.   I’ve watched a few bands and they have some neat close-ups and coverage of the event.

Hint: Caitlin is the Drum Major on the left, the flute soloist and the piccolo player in the center troupe.

Disclaimer: there may or may not be Tribbles at the State contest.

If you happen to miss that specific time or are not available, you can go online and watch archived performances at vhsband.com.

Congratulations to the Viper Band!


11:28 am
Post Meta :

… when all around is dark.

    — Monty Python skit about Oscar Wilde.

One of our daughter’s friends snapped this picture of her during one of the band’s rehearsals and posted it to Facebook.

Mom and I are quite proud of our little Drum Major.  She volunteers, gets good grades, has fantastic friends and helps a ton of other students all the time.  We’re very lucky to have her. 

Thank you, Caitlin for making our lives better.

9:51 am
Post Meta :

There are a few cool birthday’s going on in my local Twittersphere (Becky aka hellohahanarf, David aka nycwatchdog aka “Dawg”, Karen aka karensugarpants come to mind).   Ok, it just hit me that I know a lot of people with aliases.  I wonder if that puts me on some watch list somewhere.

But there’s one birthday going on today that’s very local and very cool.

My little girl is 17 today!

She’s starting her senior year and it looks to be a great one.  She’s Drum Major of an award-winning band, she gets good grades in a course schedule that’s filled with all AP or pre-AP classes, and has surrounded herself with a cadre of stellar friends.  She’s responsible, generous with volunteering and brings her parents much pride as she navigates life and discovers what it has in store for her.  She herself has won several awards relating to music, including the John Phillip Sousa award, UIL Outstanding Performer, and Outstanding Musician just to name a few.

I really don’t know how I could be happier with what she brings to our lives.

Oh wait, I just thought of something.

She’s raising money for her band’s March-a-thon.  If she was one of the top fundraisers, THAT would make me more proud of a papa.

On Saturday, August 6th, the Vandegrift High School Marching Band will set out and march a local neighborhood for 4+ hours, braving the triple-digit heat and raising money to help the band.  This is their biggest fundraiser of the year, and as a student leader, Caitlin is expected to raise the bar.

The way I see it, you have two choices.


Vote with your heart, people.  Your heart has NEVER steered you wrong.

PS: Happy Birthday, punkin’


Wow, a whole year’s gone by since my last post about Caitlin’s March-a-thon.

You might have been wondering how she’s been.  Well?  Let me tell you.

Now she’s going into 11th grade, Summer Band has already started, and she’s… get this, a Drum Major.  WOOHOO!   There are so many accomplishments she’s had since the last time I bragged about her it’s insane.  She was recently named “Outstanding Performer” at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest.  Of the approximately 85,000 students participating in the regional UIL music contests and the 22,000 musicians who performed at TSSEC, only 231 students earned the distinguished honor of being recognized at this level.

This is us from her most recent birthday.

Now that she’s 16, driving and responsible and stuff, I think I may issue an Executive Order Moratorium Policy Grandeur that stops all this birthday business.  She needs to stop growing up so dang fast.

You know what would be a good birthday present for her?  A donation (no matter the size) for her Marchathon!  You can compensate her for the sweat, effort, strain, heat and downright ickiness that comes with marching in the Texas August heat for half a day.  Not only that, you can count your donation as a congratulation award too.  She won’t know the difference, I swear!

donate to Caitlin's Marchathon

We’ve already hit 100-degree weather, and these kids are gonna be out there belting out tunes, marching their little hearts out while trying to raise money for the band.

(by the way, doesn’t that banner the band is leading with look awesome? We graciously thank Marilyn for her donation of the banner last year.)

For those of you in the Austin area, you can come out and watch, cheer them on, douse with water, take pictures and/or buy a customized concert.  We have a detailed route mapped out and available on the website.

So if you can make it in person, come on out and support the band.

If you can’t make it in person, stay where you are and support the band.

If you can neither make it in person nor not make it in person, you need to seek  help, because that’s crazy-like.  I hear acts of generosity can help insane people.  Might I suggest supporting the band as good therapeutic treatment?

While some of you may think I’ve fallen off the face of the planet, rest assured I’ve only fallen off the face of the continent.  My online self has taken a bit of a back seat to the IRL self (in-real-life), as has been evident by most of you who frequent here.  Not to worry, it’s probably not anything a little Summer Break can’t fix.

However, I did want to take a minute and do a last-minute push for votes for Cedar Park High School, Caitlin’s former high school.  They have something special going on and if you’re able to help out with a vote and a nod, I’d appreciate it.  Note the voting deadline is Monday the 12th.

Please RT (retweet for those unfamiliar with twitter lingo), post to facebook, email friends, etc, as this would be a great boost to an already fantastic school program.

Here’s a more detailed writeup:

The Cedar Park High School Band is in the final days of the Chase Community Giving campaign sponsored by Chase Bank. Chase bank will be donating over $5 million to the top 200 vote getting non-profit organizations in the U.S.  The voting began on June 15th and concludes on Monday, July 12th. For the last three weeks, the Cedar Park HS Band Boosters have been right around #100 in the votes and stand a chance at staying the top 200 to get in on the money. However, it’s going to be tough for them to stay in the top 200 without your vote. If they can stay in the top 200, they will receive a $20,000 donation from Chase Bank. They will be travelling to Indianapolis, Indiana in November for the Bands of America Grand National Championships and a donation of this caliber will be extremely beneficial!

All you have to do to vote for them is a couple clicks of the mouse. No purchase is necessary. It doesn’t cost anything and it’ll only take you a few seconds. Please support our sister school in their endeavor!

For more information, please go to the Cedar Park Band website at http://www.cphsband.org.

To go directly to the voting page, please go to http://www.tinyurl.com/cphsband.

My daughter Caitlin starts 10th grade next month (OMG!).  She’s Drill Instructor as well as Flute/Piccolo Extraodinaire in the Vandegrift High School Band.  I’ve written about her Band accomplishments in the past, and you just can’t get much prouder than I am of her and what she does with her spare time.

Why am I telling you all this?  To get money for her band, of course!

You see, Caitlin and her fellow band members are doing a March-a-thon, a 4-hour long marching concert throughout one of the neighborhoods. 


The March-a-thon is the band’s biggest and primary fundraiser for the year.  Anyone who donates to this will get something special from me.  I’m going to be completely subjective and possibly weird when I select something for each of you, so don’t miss out!  You might get an impromptu song, you might get a guest post, you might get a CD in the mail, a book, a thank you note… who knows? 

So if you can, click the donate button above and donate something.  (note: if you go to the March-a-thon website and donate from there, be sure to mention “Caitlin H” in the “special instructions” so she gets credit.)

This is Vandegrift High School‘s first year of existence – it’s brand-spanking new and will only house 9th and 10th graders for this coming year.  A number of the freshmen that went to Cedar Park High School were re-zoned for the new Vandegrift school.  Because it’s only 9th and 10th graders, it’s a significantly smaller band.

The school board chose to name the school after Lt. Matthew Ryan Vandegrift,
a Leander High School honors graduate (Class of 1999) and athlete – who was killed in Iraq in April 2008.  They also chose a mascot of “Vipers” which was put up to vote to the students, faculty and school board. 

Isn’t that cool?  It’s got a snake head to make the “V”.  I guess “vipers” is better than “Vandegrifters.”   Or Vandal Grifters. Or Van Wilder Grifters.

What I find most interesting about the new school is that as a 10th grader, Caitlin will be a “senior” three years in a row.  She and a few of her fellow sophomores hold leadership positions in the band, and they essentially run the band.  I can’t believe how much they have the students be responsible for.  It’s so cool that they’ll be able to hone their leadership skills for three years, instead of what usually happens, which is having Juniors and Seniors fill the leadership roles.

A few of the leaders were up at the school at 5:15 this morning painting the parking lot with dots and lines.  They knew it was going to be a looooong assignment, and with the heat the way it is, they wanted to get an early start.  Talk about dedication.  The teamwork and friendships they’re forming is to be heralded, and I feel so glad she’s able to be a part of it.

What are you waiting for?!?!?!  Go get in line to get something totally whallsome, and donate

UPDATE: There’s no time limit for the donation, but by August 15th would be preferable, since that’s when the Marchathon is. However, students can collect pledges towards the Marchathon throughout the school year.

Hey hey!  How ya doin?  REALLY?!??!  ME TOO!

Proud Papa

Once again, I get to brag about my amazing daughter.

This past weekend she participated in a Texas State thing called UIL Solo & Ensemble.  We’re in Region 26.

This is where a bunch of band students in a specific area (called a region) go and play for judges individually and/or with fellow band geeks.  They can choose to play Class 3 (easiest), Class 2 (harder) or Class 1 (hardest) piece for their grade level (High School).

Last I checked, High School is comprised of four grades, 9th through 12th.  Caitlin is in 9th grade.  Yeah, this little fact plays a role in the bragging.

So she chooses a Class 1 piece.  Did I mention that was the hardest level for High School?

Then, she plays it… get this…  memorized.  TWO PAGES of blank ink splattered all across the page like it was taped on the wall during the shooting of Dune, when Baron Vladimir Harkonnen gets his face treatments.


The judge then assigns a rating of 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 (Superior).  The highest rating is a first division or superior performance.  This represents an elite performance given by a student.

If you’re still wondering by now what she earned, you don’t know my writing very well. 

She achieved a Superior Performance! And that also means she’s eligible to compete at the Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest later in the school year!

She worked very hard on this and we’re so glad all that practice and effort paid off.

Wii Fit Blog Badges

Speaking of bragging…. I wonder why there aren’t Wii Fit Blog Badges yet.  When I lose a ton of weight in the near future, I want to brag about it.  But since I’m lazy, I want my blog to brag about it for me.

I uttered about this recently, but I also wanted to put something up on the blog about it.

If you notice over on the right, my sidebar shows off my Guitar Hero stats.  I have badges that show off how many Expert songs I’ve completed, my ranking, etc.

I wish Nintendo / Wii Fit folks had a similar system.  I envision online profiles, so that your progress (however you measure that) could be uploaded and turned into badges that could proudly show off one’s achievements.  Some might want to show off their Fit Credits, their scores on the balance games,  yoga games, and others might even want to display their weight and BMI.

I, for example, would dare to show off weight and BMI because as vain as I am, I know I’d work out harder to lower it.  I need humiliation to help motivate me.

Everyone, please join together and laugh at my obesity so that I may improve.

Tales of Venus Retrograde

Nick Dagan Best’s traveling multi-media presentation has received rave reviews at astrology conferences across the continent. If you’re in Austin tonight, you can check out this presentation for free!

Tales of Venus Retrograde
by Nick Dagan Best

Venus goes retrograde in Aries on March 6 this year, revisiting an eight-year cycle that is parallel to a pattern found in human history. With this special edition of “Tales of Venus Retrograde,” Nick Dagan Best discusses the background behind this particular section of the Venus retrograde cycle relative to U.S. political history and many notable biographies.

Nick Dagan Best is an exoteric astrologer who uses storytelling and a visual presentation to illustrate how astrology reflects life unfolding in time. A student of astrology since 1995, Nick is known as “the human ephemeris” for his uncanny knowledge of dates in history and their corresponding astrological features. He lives in Montreal, Canada.  This website is http://exotericastrology.com/

Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Time: 7:30-9 pm
Location: Plum Blossom Wellness Center, 1700 S. Lamar, Suite 230
Cost: Free

Best of LOLcats

Note: This blog post is also available via audio.  It is read by the author on Utterli.

My 14yr-old daughter is a little spoiled.  She got an iPhone for Christmas.

Let me explain.  The iPhone was not given to her, as you might justifiably think after that first paragraph, and that’s not why she’s spoiled.

In order to get most of her gadgets or relatively expensive things, she saves up and buys them herself.   And she doesn’t get an allowance.  So how does she get these things?

Well, she babysits, for one.  She also does pet sitting.   But that’s not why she’s spoiled.

She also earns money for grades.  You might think she “gets money for grades” but it’s more complicated than that. 

I probably should explain that one also – it’s a “grade earning agreement” we have.  She earns a set dollar amount for A’s and has to pay a set dollar amount (1/2 of the amt for A’s) for B’s and below.  She gets a bonus (50%) for 100’s.  Now that’s incentive, right?  And she always makes money every report card.  She has 6 grades per grading period, so that means she has to make 2 A’s and 4 B’s and below just to break even.

We as parents provide necessary clothing, household items and things a kid “need” to be a kid.  However, anything extra she wants beyond that, like designer clothing/shoes, going to the movies with her friends, going to the mall and buying stuff from top*kopi or whatever it is, comes out of her money.  I got this idea from my parents (kudos to them).

The iPhone definately falls into the “extra” category.  This 16GB iPhone 3G was $299.  She was able to contribute $212 towards the purchase, but she really really really really really wanted it.  She already agreed to sell us her 8GB video iPod nano for $60 (part of the $212) because I wanted a good MP3 for my wife, and she was already familiar enough with the iPod.   That still left $70+ to pay.   I offered to pay for the difference if she gave me her existing phone, the Palm Centro, and then I’d take the risk of selling it on eBay but I get whatever money I make from it.   (btw, she also paid for the Centro herself when she got it earlier in the year)

She agreed, and she got the phone.

She loves that phone.

We all love that phone.

We have a win-win situation here.  Mom gets a like-new ipod nano for way under market value, daughter gets her new iPhone, and dad makes some money selling off a Centro.  There’s still 4hrs left in the auction and it’s already selling for $40 more than I “paid” for it.

And that’s why she’s spoiled. 

Wait, maybe *I’m* the one who’s spoiled.

Whew!  It is a lot of work to host a contest on an external polling site, then have issues with the external polling site, then give people three ways to guess (predictify, comments on two different blog posts and direct email), and then come up with a decent way to display the guesses that make you go “hmm, that’s kind of sexy and interesting… that whall – he’s such a great blogger.”  This is almost as difficult as, oh, let me think, hmmm, maybe…. casting a horary chart to determine a winner?

This time around, there were 26 guesses ranging from 435 to 14368.  This was after I removed and adjusted the guesses that were over 20,000.

The correct answer was 13,551.  That makes the winner…. BEKAH from Eurekablyth!  She wins a $10 gift certificate to pretty much wherever she wants, or I’ll paypal her the money directly if she accepts that.  

Congrats Bekah!

Here’s how everyone fared:

Yes, that’s right.  My daugher had 13,551 text messages in one month.  That’s an average of about 450 a day, or almost 40 per waking hour.  If you take into account that she’s not supposed to have her phone during school, that equates to more like 75 per hour, or more than one a minute.

Fortunately, not only did we elect to have the unlimited txt messaging plan on our cell account, we also purchased “PDA addiction insurance” so that we could enroll our daughter into a 12-step program to eliminate her dependency on constant communication with her friends.

Some of you may recall the contest I ran last week asking people to guess how many TXT messages my 14yr old daughter had on the previous months’ bill.

Well, the contest ended this past Friday, the 5th.  I was pleased to see 10 predictions were done on the widget, and several were submitted in the post’s comments.  As I went to enter the winning number (aka “outcom”) at Predictify, I was perplexed as to where to update the information.

Surely I’m not blind, and I ain’t that dumb.  So I kept looking.  15 minutes passed me by like a quarter hour.  Still I couldn’t find it.  I clicked Results, tried to enter in text messages, blah blah blah but still nothing.

So I emailed Predictify support:

I’m looking for where I can update a question I posed – it simply says “awaiting outcome” even though the contest has ended. Where do I update that info? I’ve logged in and gone to my question and it just has the main page and a “results” page but I can’t find where I can update it with the right answer.

They responded pretty quickly (within an hour)

Unfortunately your question did not qualify to make it on the site because we do not accept questions of that nature. Also, our users currently are not involved with the scoring process, we do that for them.


So I stewed on this a bit, calmed down, and sent my response:

I still don’t understand. I got an email saying it wasn’t going to be featured on the main page or the searches, which is fine, but that the question was up and live. 10 people were able to make predictions. The status page says “awaiting outcome”. But why can’t I update the answer? You’re basically saying the question will never have an outcome since you refuse to update it for some unspecified reason, so that leaves people confused.

I’m unsure also what is meant by “do not accept questions of that nature” – all it is is a prediction of how many txt msgs a cell phone bill had. It’s verifiable by a scan of the cell phone bill, which I plan on providing on my personal blog. I’m wanting to update the question so I can provide a payout.

Should I just update my blog entry and say predictify is a useless tool that employs a bait-and-switch methodology? I suppose I could do that, but it seems to me a better outcome is to resolve the issue to my satisfaction. I brought awareness of Predictify to hundreds of readers, some of whom actually bothered to create an account and predict. Seems you’d want to preserve that enthusiasm

Ha!  that should show them.  I can compose sentences together like a lego set and shape them into a coherent and logical construct!  I even goaded them a little into solving my issue.  This, my friends, is how you talk to tech support and get results.

Or so I thought.

Thanks for the email and sorry we confused you in this process. However, since the question did not make it to the main site, we do not score those questions because not everyone has a chance to predict on them.

We do not accept questions that do not have a factually verifiable source available to the general public. Usually our questions are things that people can research and look up more data on, such as Will the 49ers beat the Cardinals or Will Bloomberg be in Obama’s cabinet, etc.

We appreciate that you sent the site to a lot of people and we really do value you as a user. We hope that you continue to submit new questions and predict on the site. However, as I mentioned earlier, we cannot score the question regarding the text messages because it did not fit the criteria of a deterministic question. I hope you understand and I apologize again if we mislead you in any way.

Drat those pesky logical tech support techs!  HE made an excellent move here, almost worthy of my composition.  This would be an excellent chess match if I only had the time to engage in this battle.  You see, he cooked up a thank you, an apology, a reason, an example, and a followup thankyou/apology!  That’s classic integrity with a dash of we’re-sticking-to-our-guns resilience.


However, I doubt that Predictify sees this as a win in my column. So I did the only thing I could do: take the supplicant role and plead for what I want:

Can I at least find out what the predictions were? There were 10 predictions and I can’t find how to see who guessed what. I was giving away a prize for the closest answer, but all I can see are groupings.

The only thing missing from my composition was signing it with Puss-In-Boots eyes:

I sent that email yesterday and have not yet received a response.  The bottom line at this point is – I cannot see the predictions people made using the tool.  Maybe they’ll be nice and email me the guesses but I can be a little impatient, like now.  NOW!

While I was waiting, I composed up a little bit of a “ok everyone who used Predictify, re-submit your guess”… in fact, here it is for your reading pleasure:

So I have no choice but to ASK YOU FOLKS WHO TRUSTED ME AND USED PREDICTIFY TO MAKE A PREDICTION – to either enter your prediction on the original post or this one, or if you don’t want to make it public, you can email me at whall@whall.org with your guess.

If you already made a prediction in the comments, that still stands.  You guys have until this Thursday the 11th to make your predictions.  Remember, there’s still $10 up for grabs.  I’ll also throw in a code for an AT&T Ringtone if you want it.

NEW FACTOR:  Now that I don’t need to use Predictify, I’m going to make the contest a little easier and instead of accepting guesses between 1 and 100,000, I’ll allow everyone to modify their original guess (once) and put the range to be between 1 and 20,000.  This may or may not cause people to re-guess.

and I’m all ready to click Publish and then what comes into my inbox?!!?!?!?  ANOTHER FRIENDLY RESPONSE FROM PREDICTIFY! DO THEY EVER LET UP!?!?!??!

Hi Wayne,

Sure, let me run a query and get you all the predictions and usernames who predicted on your question. I should have some results in the next couple hours.

ARGH! I can’t win!  And sure enough, the guy sent me the original 10 predictions already! HE’S TOO GOOD…..


  • If you had a previous guess, either in the blog comments or on predictify and want to let it stand,  you may do so.  No action required.  If you don’t remember your prediction, I can email it to you.
  • The new range for guesses is 1 and 20,000.  I recommend the 3 folks who guessed > 20K change their guess.  Think of it as a second chance at life, but instead of “life” it’s “$10”.
  • If you’d like to change your prediction, you can do so either on a comment here, on the original blog post, or via email.  I will take the latest timestamped guess before midnight central time Thursday morning, period.
  • I *WILL* accept new predictions as well.
  • In the event that the person who would have won before I changed the rules doesn’t still win, I’ll give them a prize as well.
  • That one person who knows who they are is ineligible to guess since they’ve been told the answer.  I won’t disclose who that is other than to say he’s, well, ineligible.

Have fun!

older »

tsk tsk

Ajax CommentLuv Enabled 336ad6ab990e8080f1c0ad1f892428a0