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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.

Today is Jaden’s 10th birthday.  That’s right, no more single digits for this boy.  He’s moving into those years of character development, self-expression and peer pressure.  I’d say he’s doing a pretty good job so far, and I’m excited to see what he becomes.

This morning on the way to school we sang the following song from one our favorite bands, Trout Fishing in America.

Sing along with us, won’t you?

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I travel a lot.  Yesterday Jaden called me while I was out of town because the Playstation 3 was having problems connecting to the network.  He was perturbed because he likes playing online with his friends with  his favoritest game of all time:

 

Ok, so he has four (4) favoritest games, and they’re all Transformers.

  • Transformers, the Game (from the 1st movie)
  • Transformers Revenge of the Fallen (from the 2nd movie)
  • Transformers War for Cybertron (no movie)
  • Transformers Dark of the Moon (from the 3rd movie)

Coincidentally, shortly before he called I noticed a Facebook update from a friend complaining about the Playstation Network. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the Playstation Network (PSN), let me bring you up to speed.  The PSN can sometimes be a flaming pile of guano left baking in the Texas sun.  When it’s down (which seems often), most games don’t play at all.  It’s not just that you can’t play online with others, but for some games, you can’t even launch the game because the game developers and/or Sony decided that it’d be neat to require the online portion to be working.

Armed with the tip-off from Facebook, I could convey to my son that it probably wasn’t our Internet connection but most likely the Playstation Network that was down.  So I asked him if the other computers, laptops, gadgets were working.  He he asked me to hold on while he checked.

It took him a while.  I stayed on hold for a good 4-5 minutes, which actually is a long time knowing that there are plenty of Internet-enabled devices to check.  He eventually returned with confirmation that other devices in the house were indeed working fine.  I felt good in the knowledge that I was coaching him on the tenets of proper troubleshooting. 

We comiserated on his inability to play his game with his online friends, then I asked him about his day and how his Backyard Monsters were doing.  After our chat, we hung up, I went about my work out of town and returned that night.

Today I found this on my home office desk.

 

HI DAD  COMPUTER IS FINE. I JUST CHECKED ON IT. AND THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH THE COMPUTER

I rest easy knowing that in addition to solid Troubleshooting skills, I’ve also imparted two equally important abilities, and that is Documentation and Communication.  Now I know why it took so long for him to return to the phone.

 

September
21
2010
10:52 pm
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I’m going to take a cue from Apple.

Look everyone.  My son’s fundraiser is awesome.  It’s about the best thing you could ever get your hands on and still not break any laws.  Unless there’s a new law against being awesome that I don’t know about.

You may have already heard the buzz about this.  Your GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN will be talking about “the awesomocity of the Jaden 2010 fundraiser” and you’ll be able to say you were around for it.  Chances are, though, that you won’t be able to take part in it yourself, but at least you could say you used to read the blog of the father of that kid who had the awesome fundraiser.  It’s too bad that this is so exclusive.

Tell you what – I’ll let you think and dream about the fundraiser for a little bit.  I won’t even charge you for the thoughts. 

This online fundraiser can change the way you see fundraising.  Wait, no – it can fundamentally change your life.  You will see the entire economics of the world in a new light.  Doors of understanding will swing wide open for your mind to occupy based on your participating.

If only you could get in.

You see, this fundraiser isn’t freely available to just anyone.  It’s not like there’s an unlimited supply.  Only a select few will be chosen to become a lasting and meaningful part of this once-in-a-lifetime service. 

If I were you, I’d start praying hard right about now. 

Not only is the fundraiser reserved for exclusive guests, it’s also only available for a limited time.  It’s so limited, in fact, that NOBODY can get in.  There is ABSOLUTELY no way you will be able to participate.  You just can’t possibly take part.

You might as well hang your hat now since you’ve got no chance.

You can go see for yourself – the link I have below was the link for the fundraiser, but like I said, it’s way too exclusive for just anyone.  There is a vast team of experts, psyhics, motivational speakers, gurus, NFL football coaches, high dollar lawyers and astronauts who have walked on the moon reviewing the people who try to get in, and they all have to UNANIMOUSLY agree to let you in. 

The chances of you being approved are basically zilch.  For the one or two of the people in the world who might be able to get in, well… just know their life will be set from that point forward.  You can only dream of being as lucky as those few people.

http://shopschoolservices.com/index.asp?PID=1468254

If you try it out, don’t be surprised to fail.  Nobody can get in, and even if the computer system let you through, what are the chances of all those people in charge letting you in?

I’ll put it this way – if you DO get in, you’d better thank your lucky stars and make the most of your visit. 

That’s all I gotta say about that.

Wow.  Jaden’s now eight years old.

We had a great birthday weekend.  Instead of the typical invite-a-dozen-friends-and-host-a-party thing, Jaden thought it would be cool to just invite one person and then go do a bunch of stuff all day.  And stuff we did.  8 hours we spent at Austin’s Park and Pizza, where he and his friend rode go-karts, bumper boats, games, pizza, and all-out-fun.

I was able to work for most of this time, so that was an extra side benefit for me 🙂

He got an authentic Magic wand, some incredible Transformers toys (boy does he LOOOVE Transformers), Star Wars Wii Remote Converter thingies(boy does he LOOOVE Star Wars) and a few other special gifts from friends and family.  He even got some cards in the mail (boy does he LOOOVE getting mail!), and Mom is bringing cupcakes at school today for his class to celebrate (boy does he… wait, actually he’s not that hot on cupcakes).

However, I must brag a little.  The BEST gift he got was from me.  Jaden loves Iron Man (boy does he LOOOVE Iron Man). In honor of Iron Man 2 coming out (the trailer was released this weekend I believe), I contacted Tony Stark and was able to have him fund a surgical implant of a little Arc Reactor into Jaden’s chest.  That way, he could fire his repulsor transmitter at anyone who gets in his way.

jaden-arc

It was a lot of fun, but I gotta say, the most excruciating part of it all was teaching Jaden not to fire the repulsor cannon at just anyone.  Save it for the real big bullies, I told him.  Save it for when someone is mugging an old lady.  Save it for when the machines rise up against us and need to be subdued.  Save it for the stupid counter clerk who can’t get off a personal call on her cell phone as she jabbers “am I coming over to your house tonight or what, oh my GAWD I can’t believe he said that to you and do you think this color looked good on me last night and oh hold on oh em gee these customers keep coming in and I swear I shouldn’t have to put up with this crap but my dad is being a total doofus by keeping my trust fund away from me. I know, right?

You know the comic book saying: With great power comes great benefits, but if you overdo it, people will eventually get sick of you and come take your power away.

I love you, buddy boy!

Chances are, you know someone affected by Diabetes.  I personally know a few people close to me who suffer with it, and the numbers of people who succumb to its grip are increasing every year.

Recently, the American Diabetes Association visited Jaden’s school and taught them all about Type 1, Type 2, foods, risks, the importance of exercise, and some great information to help the kids NOT be at risk.  In fact, evidence suggests that as much as 90% of certain forms of the disease are completely preventable, and are largely caused by lifestyle and behavioral choices.

Well, let me tell you – Jaden is super excited to raise money for the American Diabetes Association, with the School Walk for Diabetes fundraiser.  He’s walking and raising awareness for the disease and he’s hoping you can help him out.

There are three ways you can help

  1. If you know me and trust me, you can send me the money directly via paypal, and then I will include that in my donation.  This will double your effective donation because my employer matches 100% of all donations to tax-exempt organizations.   Normally, employers require a minimum donation (usually $25) in order to qualify for the match, but because I’ll be combining multiple donations, we can all be twice as giving.  I’m happy to provide a receipt showing your portion for tax deduction purposes. (update: the deadline for the fundraiser is over as of Friday 3/5/2010, so I’m not accepting direct donations any more)
  2. You can go straight to Jaden’s fundraising page.  You can donate anonymously or publicly and be listed on his page.  Be sure to check if your employer does matching (it’s part of the contribution form).
  3. You can send people to this post to raise awareness.

jaden-diabetes

Thank you!  Your participation is greatly appreciated.

My wife’s knee surgery was 2 weeks ago, and she still needs assistance getting up and down from the bed, chair or wherever she’s resting and healing.  I’ve been working from home for that period, and will continue to do so for about another week, depending on how she’s able to fend for herself in this wilderness we call home.

I call it a wilderness because A) the kids are home from school now and B) just look at these weeds!

Now if you’ve ever worked from home (I mean really working from home not “quote” working from home “quote”), then you know that there are tons of potential distractions.  Not everyone is cut out for telecommuting.  It takes a special type of discipline to avoid the perils that await.  Most of them are right there, available to you at any time in any capacity.  There’s TV, Wii Fit, food, blogging, Guitar Hero, reading blogs, movies, commenting on blogs, youtube, organizing your closet, general video games, lottery scratchoffs, home computer, playing with wireless settings, testing the fire pit, household chores, reading books, roller skates, taking DITL footage, snacking, converting VHS to DVD, testing older pantry food for freshness, experimenting with new dessert recipes, working on super secret blog projects, finding things to sell around the house, and filing.

The ability to resist these temptations is a learned habit; one is not born with this talent.  It takes years of practice and constant refinement.  Being raised with a good work ethic is an important factor, as is a hunger for excellence.   

Fortunately, all of the above items have something in common.  Can you spot it?

They are passive interruptions.

It’s not like the TV walks up to you and pokes your shoulder and nags you to turn it on and watch it.  The pantry doesn’t cry at you from across the house saying the fridge is being unfair and besides, is too cold.  The books don’t throw themselves at you in self-defense from the guitar hero controller.   To put it in scientific terms, these interruptions are potential energy.

Contrast that with kids.  Kids are kinetic energy.  They *do* walk up to you, poke your shoulder and proactively nag you to watch it.  Dogs can also be proactive with expressing their needs, but with dogs you can plan ahead, walk them before work and they leave you alone for hours on end.

Kids represent active interruptions.

Knowing this, I sat them both down ahead of time.

Me: Kids? come here, I need to discuss something with you.
Them: *collects themselves*
Me: Ok, I need you to understand something. Daddy’s going to be working from home to help Mommy while her knee gets better.  That means I actually need to work here like I work at work.  It means I need to be free from interruption all day.  Do you understand that?
Them: Yes
Me: I need you both to take care of yourselves as much as possible and not ask me to do things while I’m working.  Don’t ask me to play with you, don’t ask me to help you, and don’t ask me to feed you.  I’m supposed to be dedicated to my job and Mommy is the only one who can interrupt me.  Got it?
Them: Yes
Me: And something that’s also very important – while I’m working, I don’t want to hear the two of you arguing or fighting.  I might be on the phone, or I might be working on something important and the distraction is something I don’t want to have while I’m working.  If I have to stop working to break up an argument or whining, it’s going to be bad for you.
Mommy: Don’t just tell them it will be bad, tell them what will happen.
Me: I don’t know what it is now, but it will be bad
Jaden: You mean, like you might take something away from us?
Me: Yes, definitely.  At the very least, that will happen.
Jaden: Can you take away something, like a toy, that we don’t like?

What’s cute is he was completely serious with his question.

May
28
2009
11:31 pm
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Today I decided to do some of those “stumper” questions on Jaden.  It’s how I teach my kids valuable lessons, like I did with Caitlin and the word “gullible”.

Play along!

Me: Hey Jaden, what color was George Washington’s white horse?

Jaden: I don’t know. What?

Me (repeating with emphasis): What color was George Washington’s WHITE horse?

Jaden (smiling): Oh, White!

Me: Good job.  What do you put into a toaster?

Jaden (thinking): Toast!

Me: No, you get toast out of a toaster.  You put bread in a toaster.

Jaden: Oh… (smiles again)

Me: What do cows drink?

Jaden: Uh, milk!

Me: No, you get milk out of cows.  Cows drink water.

Jaden (pauses): Baby cows drink milk…

Me: (stumped)

Dangit.  I hate losing this game.

(side note: those of you who follow me on twitter know that my wife underwent major knee reconstruction surgery on Friday, so my online presence and blogability has been hampered a bit while I help her out with her healing process.  As a result, I’ve reduced the housework she’s responsible for by about 7%.  I know. I’m a saint.  And I told her to just skip mowing this week. Sure, it might be harder on her knees next week, when the grass and weeds will be much higher due to the recent rains, but what’s important is that she heal safely)

Jaden adores Fred.

You’ve seen Fred, right?  He’s one of them thar “Internet Sensations.”  He’s also called “Youtube Fred.”  He’s kind of like Star Wars kid, but on purpose and not nearly as sad, once you know Fred Figglehorn is NOT really a 6yr old pumped on on drugs and pining for a fictional girl named Judy.  Or Wendy.  Who knows.

You either love Fred or hate him, kind of like Rush Limbaugh or Ben Stiller.  Wait, I take that back.  I like Ben Stiller in some things but hated him in others.  But wouldn’t it be neat if they married and had a kid and named it Rush Stiller?  Because that would be like an oxymoron – stand still while rushing?  Or Ben Limbs? Sounds like you’re flexing your muscles.  Heh, or Stillbaugh Benrusher.

Wait a second, where was I?

Oh yeah, Jaden, my 7yr old son.  He loves watching all the Fred episodes.  He watches many over and over, like the one about going to the dentist.  I’ve heard it said that Fred was the first to hit 1,000,000 fans on youtube.  Jaden just sits and watches and laughs and laughs and entices us to come over and watch the hilarity.  I guess if I’m going to introduce my son to the dangers of  medications, this is the way to do it.

So.

One morning Jaden told me he wrote a letter to Fred.  And sure enough, in MARKS-A-LOT, there it was – a big 8.5×11 sheet of paper holding Jaden’s letter to Fred:

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

In case you’re having trouble reading it, here it is transcribed:

Hi Fred, this is Jaden.  I am your biggest fan.  I like you.  You’re really funny, so I am going to watch your videos every day.  I like the part when you said “Oh My Gosh! I just peed inside the pool!”  So write back, Fred.  From: Jaden Wayne Hall

I told him we could mail it to Fred.  We got an envelope, folded it up, and found a stamp.  I taught Jaden how to self-address an envelope.  Then I told him I’d take it to work and mail it off.

However, try as I might, I couldn’t find a snail-mail address for him at any of his websites.  I didn’t want to let Jaden down, so I PDF’ed the letter and found an email address for Fred. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’m hoping there’s some kind of response for Jaden, even if it’s canned and cheesy, like cheeze whiz because, well, who doesn’t like Cheeze Whiz?

We also bought Jaden a Fred T-Shirt, which he wears as often as he can.  It’s his favorite shirt.

Who did you write a letter to as a kid?

February
26
2009
5:15 pm
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Yesterday, a package arrived via US Mail.

It was a decent-sized box, wrapped in brown paper bag.  It was addressed specifically to me, had a return address and not much else to give an indication of what it was, who it was from, if it was for me or the family, or what.

Jaden, however, was sure.  He was POSITIVE.  He was absolutely certain that this package was for him.  He begged mom to open it up.  He pleaded.  He tried to convince her that, despite the addressee being dad (my name spelled out very clearly), whatever it was, it was his.

Mom: “Jaden, sweetie, it has Dad’s name on it.”

Jaden: “I know, but really, I’m sure it’s mine.”

Mom: “Did dad tell you to expect a package?”

Jaden: “No, I don’t think so.”

Mom: “Did dad order something for your birthday next month?”

Jaden: “Maybe!”

Mom: “Did he tell you that he ordered something?”

Jaden: “No.”

Mom: “What makes you think it’s yours?

Jaden: “I just do!  I KNOW it!”

Mom: “Do you know this name up here?  Do you know anyone by this name?”
(she points to the return address)

Jaden: “No.”

This continues for a bit but Mom holds fast.  She doesn’t recognize the return address either, and she wasn’t sure if maybe I had ordered a surprise birthday gift for Jaden,  if it was work-related, or a lavish tip from one of my many highly satisfied escort business customers.

So they wait.

I get home and I see this box laying out on the table, not knowing anything of the above described scenario.

Oh, AWESOME” I yell out as I recognize the return address.

Jaden perks up and says “Hey dad!  Is that package for me?

It sure is!” I enthusiastically inform him.

My wife’s jaw drops and says “It *IS*?  Did Jaden know it was coming?

No, he didn’t.  It’s a gift from a blogger friend that I helped out.  I set up her blog and I host it for her for free.  She told me she wanted to get me something in return, but I asked her to get something for Jaden instead,” I explained.  “Why?” I follow up.

My wife explained how Jaden was so sure it was for him but none of them knew the name and she didn’t want to open it up for fear that it might have been some surprise that might be ruined, or who knows, maybe I had bought some secret romantic gift for her or something (hint hint) and well we decided to wait until I got home.

I instructed Jaden to tear into it.

And here’s what we found:

And you know who the package was from?  It was from Metalmom!  You know, from dontwannahearit.com.

I had helped Metalmom move her domain, set up her blog, upgrade it, get it hosted for free, move her away from a not-so-great ISP, yadda yadda yadda.  For some reason, that made her happy or something.  So she sent us a movie, a beautiful thank-you card with a great personal handwritten poem, and a bunch of popcorn and munchies!

Thanx, Metalmom!

Jaden is so super excited, and he LOOOOOVES this movie.  He has the first one (Are We There Yet?) and has watched it, oh, about 3 dozen times.  We got Are We Done Yet on blockbuster online a few times, so having it in stock permanently makes Jaden quite happy.

Now we’re trying to figure out how to keep secrets from our little prescient precious.

January
7
2009
9:41 am
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I sold a few things on eBay recently and was just plain AMAZED at the ebay/paypal/ups/usps partnerships that have grown over the past years.  I’m new to this “online postage” thing and “back in my day” (hehe) when we sold something online, gosh-darned-it we had to box it up and go to the post office and stand in line.

<Potter voice ON> And we didn’t even have a fancy computer drawing program to paint us a picture! <Potter voice OFF>

This time, however, I just accepted my paypal payment and from there saw the “print shipping label” link and figured, what the hey.  5 minutes later I was able to print a shipping label for USPS for $2.20, boxed up the item and could just stick the sucker in my mailbox at home.

That was convenience in a cup.

The second item I did?  Same deal, but even faster because now I knew what I was doing.  

Call me Shipmael.

Then I needed to ship a box NOT related to an auction, Paypal, or anything online.  Jaden (our 6yr old son) received a pair of Heely’s skate shoes for Christmas and was hella excited about them.  

And why wouldn’t he be?  I can’t recall how many times I dreamed of going through school halls or down the street with shoes that had wheels in them.  I knew I’d invent it when I got older and make a million dollars.  

Ooops.

Anyway, problem is, they’re a size too small.  So I go to the retailer’s website, and lo-and-behold, they have a great return policy for wrong size.  You just ship them the shoes with a note, and they’ll ship a replacement pair FREE.  They’ll do this only once, but that’s more than fair.  Did I mention they’ll ship us the replacement pair for free?

I box up the shoes and weigh the box – comes in at 3.8 lbs.  I go over to my trusty paypal account thinking I could just whip me up a neat shipping label and…. 

nope.  Paypal won’t do a shipping label unless it’s specific to a transaction.

Oh well.  So I go to USPS.GOV thinking I can just print me up another one of those fancy labels.  And sure enough, I can.

But only for PRIORITY MAIL.

What kind of crap is that?  For one, why is it more than eight bucks to ship a 3 lb box, even if it is just Parcel Post?

UPS Ground was about the same price, but I expected UPS to cost more – they’d get it there in 4 days vs 6 days.  Another issue is that I remember seeing a sign at the post office that said something like “packages over 13 ounces cannot have stamps on them” or some such, so it’s not like I was comfortable buying $8.62 of online postage and taping it to the box either.

A driving force in play here is that Jaden is without his Christmas present until the Heely’s can get to NY and back.  So the 4-day delta is a big factor, especially since I’m the one who picked out the original size and messed everything up in the first place.  Guilt creeps in, makes a bed in my soul and promptly starts snoring.

So I go with the $12.14 2-day Priority Mail option.

While I wait, I peruse the “features and benefits” of this shoe.  No-lie, these are ACTUAL PRODUCT QUOTES FROM THE SHOE.

  • Slice through the skate park – ninja style. 
    um, you have to be a pretty imaginative person to equate a 6yr old learning how to skate on just one wheel per foot, flailing about through the park, hugging on every stranger, pet or porta-potty they can get their hands on to not fall down… with a ninja.  Especially a slicing ninja.  
  • Synthetic suede and perforated leather upper with text-filled graphic. 
    mmmm, sythetic suede!  And what’s that you say?  The graphic is, hold me down from the excitement… TEXT-FILLED??!!?!! OMG!  I didn’t know graphics could be filled with text!
  • Padded tongue and collar add extra comfort and support. 
    I wish all the asylums had that.
  • Soft textile lining. 
    Hmm.  a lining made of textile.  You might as well say “this shoe is very shoe-like.” 
  • PU midsole. 
    So does this mean the feet come pre-filled with stink? 
  • Textured EVA outsole. 
    Best. Outsole texture. EVA. 
  • MEGA graffiti wheel. 
    Not just a graffiti wheel, but a MEGA graffiti wheel.
  • ABEC 5 608 bearings. 
    I have no idea what this means. 
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