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.

Thanx to Dave2, I now know how to Trek Myself.

But what fun would that be? Instead, let’s make it a little controversial.  oh, AND fun.  Never forget the fun, especially if you can rile up a few people.

See if you can guess who this first one is

Here’s another one I made. Can you spot the speech?

hmm, I wonder if the colorful skin gives it away.

Here’s the next in the series, where Jaden gets in on the fun (please do not call Child Protective Services).

And one last one simply because I couldn’t help myself

(btw, I made all of these external links because when you embed them, they auto-play.  Last thing I want on my blog is auto-play sound.  Well, maybe not THE last, but it’s in the bottom 10,000 things).

Be honest.  Would you trust this person?

Taken by itself, this portrait looks like one of those Most Wanted poster shots in the Post Office.  Look at his grainy skin.  The stark black and white features.  The thick eyebrows.  Barely existent beady eyes.  Thinly veiled smile that surely belies a terrorist heart ready to jump out at you just for looking at him cross-eyed.

I’m not surprised that they use that format on wanted posters.  Ain’t nobody can look too good in those conditions.

This is what it looks like when you get your picture taken for our elementary school’s visitor badge.

I volunteered this morning and you can hear more about it by listening to my utter:

But take my word for it either way – if you have children in elementary school, take time to volunteer. Even if just once; even if just for 30 minutes; even if to just sit in class and watch. It’s worth it!

PS: A BIG Thank You to Ms Suarez, Jaden’s teacher.  You are incredible!  And patient. And helpful.  Did I mention patient?




5:15 pm
Post Meta :

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.


As you may have heard by now from my Twitter accounts, yesterday’s update, and some comments…. my all-time-favorite-band-of-all-time YES postponed their show in Dallas last night.  

The only good parts about it were A) I was told just before I got on the road yesterday afternoon.  It really would have sucked if I was already in the car driving up there, or had found out once I got to Dallas.  B) We had some severe weather in Austin, so I was able to be home with the family.  Nothing happened, but it was still a potential of tornados and high winds, and it’s just plain better that I was here.

Because of the postponement, if I had a working camera, I would’ve made a 3-minute DITL of me.  Just me.  Crying.  Crying over and over. WAHHHHH.

Good thing Jaden has my back.  He can do the crying for me.

You know what’s really weird?  I mean besides me using my son to gain electronic sympathy from the blogosphere.  I mean, Jaden was born in 2002.  However, the timestamp on this picture shows January 1st, 2001.  He looks to be about 3yrs old in this photo, and I’m wondering how the picture got the wrong time on it.  In fact, there’s a whole folder of photos from 2004 or 2005, and they all have the 2001 timestamp.  Weird.

To switch topics (slightly) I think I’m going to take a look at Chilly Willy‘s suggestion of a new camera (Olympus FE-20).  It looks like a great deal.  Thanks, Marty!  I’ll be back to making DITL’s in no time!

It seems this is the era of cancellations.  We’ve had our annual week-long coast trip to South Padre scheduled and rescheduled THREE TIMES since last summer, and we just got notification that it has to be canceled AGAIN.  Hurricane Dolly’s devastation on the island and some of the resorts is still to blame for some of the places not being ready to open.  Duran Duran’s appearances in San Antonio and Dallas were canceled in December last year (which my wife was looking forward to about as much as me seeing YES).  

Well, I guess the bright side is – whenever they decide to reschedule, I should have a working camera!

7:25 am
Post Meta :

This past weekend marked the first police visit to our house, ever.

We’ve been here where we’re at since late 2000, when we initially plopped down the septic tank (no pun intended) and pumped money into the land with a well (no pun intended).  We’re saving up for building the dream house and we still have little planning sessions in the family to discuss this cool feature of the next home, that cool feature, and the like.  I may do a special post about that in particular to solicit comments about what awesome things to put into a new house.

My computer was getting a little attention from me, and the TV was getting it’s normal amount of attention from wife and daughter. Jaden was running around like his normal self.

Then we heard a loud knocking on the door.  It seemed more urgent than the normal knocking, but since I’m right near the front window of the house when I’m at my computer, I peeked out to see who it was.  I glimpsed someone walking off of the deck, and figured it was UPS or Fedex dropping off a package because they frequently do that — they drop the package off, do a quick courtesy knock, and then run off to their next destination.

Jaden also ran to the window next to me and said “hey, the police are here!”.  

Jaden likes to joke sometimes, so both Mom and I said “Jaden… you shouldn’t joke about that…” but I looked again and sure enough, I saw two Sheriff cars half-way up our long driveway.

I quickly announced to those who cared “Whoa, there ARE police out there!” and got up to get the door.  I opened it up and a Deputy was standing just outside, over to my right in that stance you see on TV where they are cautiously monitoring the situation, hand on holster, ready for anything.

You know the usual way people respond to a surprise police presence.  “Anything wrong, officer?” or “what seems to be the problem, officer?”  Yup, that’s what I did.

The officer explained that they received a 911 hangup call and when they tried to call us back, they received a fast busy signal.  Then he was pretty urgent about wanting to come in and check things out.

I said “sure, sure, come in!” and as we found out after a bit of not-surprising investigation, Jaden had dialed 911 while playing with the phone.  He also dialed 5 of the digits of my cell phone and then lost interest, leaving the phone on-hook while half-way dialed.  

The Deputy saw wife and daughter in the living room watching TV, and saw Jaden and the look on his face.  We of course explained to him how important it was to not dial 911 unless it was an emergency.  

We had some light banter with the Deputies — one was named J Hall, so we commented on that.  They both loved our dogs.  They each commented on how they didn’t know this land was back here, and it must be nice to be so close to civilization yet completely isolated from neighbors, and we expressed how blessed we felt we were to be here. 

It was a positive experience overall, and I was glad to finally meet our local Men In Brown.

Looking back on my life, I can’t recall any incidents where I’ve had a bad experience with the police.  I hope most people also have had similar experiences.  Is that as normal as I hope it is?

9:41 am
Post Meta :

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.  


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. 
11:26 am
Post Meta :

A coupla weeks ago, the family went down to one of our timeshares on “Bonus Time” which is free-if-it’s-available time anywhere from 2-6 days at any one of 14 timeshares.  We had planned to be in South Padre but Hurricane Dolly had really messed up the island pretty bad and our reserved vacation there had been cancelled due to, well, the timeshare had nearly been totalled.  Our backup plans were Galveston but Hurricane Ike made a mess of that place as well.

Since I still had time off of work, we ended up requesting the Bonus Time at a place not too far away (an hour’s drive or so).  They have a 2-bedroom place w/kitchen and stuff, so it’s easy to while away the time with a few groceries and such.   The place has minigolf, a big game room, a mini-theatre, horseshoes,  playscapes and lots of stuff for the kids to do.

On one of the days, they had Alvin and the Chipmonks playing in the mini-theatre.  Jaden LOVES this movie so much.  So we went ahead and got in the Durango instead of walking, and drove the 1000 feet to the activity center.  He had wanted to play some word games in the car or something, so we did that.  Then we played some more in and around the car since we still had 20 mins before the movie.  He pretended to drive; I pretended to be in the back seat needing to go to the hospital; he pretended to be Darth Vader.  We had us some fun.

We then went into the Activity Center and found the mini-theatre.  We sat in the back and loved the movie together.  We laughed, he needed to go use the restroom, we came back and laughed some more.  When the movie was over, we got our stuff and went to the game room for a little basketball.  We thought about checking out a Connect Four game from the center and playing it but decided we were a lot hungrier than we though so we started back.

As we walked to the Durango I started checking my pockets for the key and I could not find it.  It was not in either front pocket (I usually keep keys in my right front pocket, and money in right left).  It wasn’t in my jacket pocket, either.

Jaden and I went back to the theatre, thinking the key had come out of my pants pocket while we sat back and relaxed in the seats.  We searched everywhere, feeling with our hands along the floor (ick!) and using my blackberry to light up whatever sections we could.  Fortunately the place was cleaner than it should be, so our hands weren’t treated to the muck and guck you’d think would be on the floors of a public free kids mini-theatre.

I started to get a little frantic.  We only have one Durango key because we had lost the 2nd key we had about a year ago.  We never replaced it because of the cost – it’s about $110 nowadays to get these new fangled security fob-key combos.

We retraced our steps in the activity center, looking around the basketball game, looking everywhere we’d walked.  Went back into the theatre and found the light switch, which helped quite a bit.  Still, no key.

At this point I’m thinking about the call I’m going to have to make to my wife to explain we don’t have a car key anymore.  I’m thinking about how much it’s going to cost to replace.  I’m thinking about how we’re out of town with a car without a car key.  I’m thinking about the awesome blog entry I’m going to have complaining about it.  I’m thinking how much I wish I had the remote just so I could push the panic button on it.

Then I get a thought.  I figure, with all that thinking, it was bound to happen.

Maybe I left the key in the car?

Heck, I’ve left my keys in the car before.  It’s not common, but it happens.  Our previous SUV was a 1998 Ford Explorer, and it has a keypad on the outside.  So it was common for me to leave the keys in the car because I could lock and unlock the car from the outside with my code.  When we first got the Durango, I left my keys in with the car locked out of habit one or twice, but it had been a whole year since that happened.

So we started walking out to the car and I was also thinking something else – maybe I left the car UNLOCKED with the keys in it, and someone stole our car!  That would really really suck – being out of town without a key AND a car.

Fortunately a few steps later, my nerves were eased quite a bit when I saw the hood of the durango over the bushes as we walked down the stairs.  I told Jaden “hey, maybe I left the keys in the car” and he said “yeah, maybe we did!”  He’s so cute.  “I hope it’s not locked!”  I laughed with him.  Nervously.

As we approached the car, I heard something unfamiliar.  It sounded like… hmm, like…. like…. the engine. was. running.

Well, I found my key.

So.  Now I have a locked running durango with the key in it.  Fantastic.  (sarcasm was used for this sentence). 

Oh, and you know what else I realized?  My car had been running… for how long?  yes.  THE ENTIRE MOVIE.  PLUS THE SEARCHING TIME.  That’s almost 2 hours.  Fortunately I had just filled up the night before and the tank still had 7/8 worth of gas.

Good thing for me, *I* knew what to do in this situation.  Instead of calling for help to some locksmith like a wimp asking for them to fix my stupidity, I calmly went inside and asked for a coat hanger.  Surely I can unlock my own car with a coat hanger – I’ve seen this done before (specifically, I saw my Uncle Wes do it when I called him for help like a wimp asking him to fix my stupidity).

The Activity Center girl smirked a little as I walked up to ask for some supplies.  Her smile was a little unnerving, like she knew a secret or something, but still I explained my situation.  She got one of the maintenance guys on the CB and said he’d be right there.  Sure enough, the guy showed up pretty quick with a coat hanger

Oops, wrong wire hanger image.  Anyway, I professed my undying gratitude and said I’ll be back in a bit, hopefully with an open Durango.

Maintenance Guy offered to help, so I accepted.

As we walked to the Durango, he said “oh, by the way, your barn door’s open.”

This did not immediately register. I expressed my best befuddled look and said “Say again?

He explained.  “Your barn door.  It’s wide open.

Having not heard this expression in a looooong time, I finally realized what he meant, fixed my zipper and then realized the source of the Activity Girl’s smirk.  Sheesh.

Maintenance Guy helped a lot.  He had pointed out that he and his buds had noticed the running Durango and joked “hey, free Durango!“.  Hahahahaha.  Real Funneh.  🙂  

Never to pass up the chance to use the word “fortunately”, I will point out that fortunately, I had my favorite tool with me – the SwissTool.  With it, I was able to fashion the near-perfect loop and edges so I could grab the top of the lock mechanism.   I was feeling quite the manly man.

Because it was near-perfect and not actually perfect, it didn’t work.  Nope, not at all.  Just got more and more frustrated and my hand muscles got cramped.

Fortunately, I have the stubborn will of an activist judge.  I made some more adjustments and about 25 minutes later, I was able to finagle my way into the locked door.  My fingers were sore, as were just about all the muscles in my hand from twisting and turning the coat hanger through the upper corner of the door/window seam.  Maintenance Guy helped quite a bit by pulling on the door so I had a crevice into which I could navigate the metal rod of capability towards the lock-pull, and giving advice and encouragement here and there.

After we were in the car and properly thanked Maintennace Guy, Jaden wisely remarked “we probably shouldn’t do that again.”  Then he added “it took you a long time to open it, so we should keep the keys when we leave the car next time.”

You, son, are brilliant.  In fact, I think you’re an angel.

Ok, a butterfly angel.

I think I’ll be buying a 2nd key remote this week.


wayne's 3-minute ditl day in the life
(DITL = Day In The Life)

Merry Christmas to all you awesome people!  I know it’s been 2 months since my last DITL, so I put in a little extra boredom and geek stuff at the end.  However, the DITL is still just 3 minutes.  It’s the bonus time that makes seem long and boring.

I thought about skipping #13 in the counting order like buildings and Presidents do, but what can I say? I’m a rebel that likes to live dangerously.

Wayne’s 3-minute DITL #13 from whall on Vimeo.

(Direct Youtube link)


Jaden, my adorable* and talented co-star on the DITL‘s (3-minute video blogs) so many of you know and love, started his pool lessons yesterday.  And by “pool” I mean billiards.

Here’s a shot of him more than two years ago practicing in Grandma’s garage:

He was only four years old, yet he already knew to have his head down, get a bridge close to the ball, and make sure you look tan and muscled whenever someone takes an impromptu photo of you shooting pool.

There’s a fellow pool player we know named Gaines Jonakin who runs a kids instruction league.  Gaines is a Recognized BCA Instructor and a fabulous teacher.  My wife chauffered Jaden to his first “league week” and I’ll probably take him to future ones.  We plan on practicing tonight, in fact.

Jaden did great!  He listened when he needed to listened, and did what he was told.  He picked up some great tips, and was as excited as you can guess a 6yr old to be.  While he hasn’t mastered all the rules yet (for example, he’s still a little confused as to when he gets ball-in-hand), he’s doing mighty fine and most importantly, he’s having fun.

Tips he’s picking up:

  • Be nice to people when you beat them so bad they start crying.  Help them rake in the balls you sunk while they cowered in the corner in a whimpering fetal position.
  • Give people a full 30 minutes to pay up on their debts.  Don’t “enable” the weak to go too long without paying.  
  • Be willing to take a finger or a toe in lieu of large lump sum payments.
  • Always leave a sucker rent money.  
  • Don’t get caught slicking up the solids and chalking up the stripes.  It just ain’t worth it.

When we were pregnant w/Jaden, another pool friend of ours made a custom cue for him as a baby shower gift – one that comes apart in three pieces.  With the back piece off, the cue is just long enough for him at his height.  As he gets older, he can put the back piece back on.

I’m sure one of the future DITL’s will have some footage of Jaden wiping the table with his old man – he played his instructor in a 9-ball race and won! (Jaden was so pumped up! don’t tell him that it was a 4-90 race, where Jaden had to sink 4 balls and the instructor had to sink 90).

I think my proudest moment was when my wife got home and relayed the following: when Gaines was playing his “match” with Jaden, he performed a very solid shot on a ball that was all the way on the other side of the table.  When Gaines made the shot, Jaden gasped.  My wife asked “What?” and Jaden whispered “He’s as good as daddy!

Content sigh.

What tips would you give Jaden?

* it’s ok to call him adorable because he’s currently 6 years old.  About the time he gets to be 8 or 9, I’ll call him “strapping” or “strong young man” or even “handsome”.


wayne's 3-minute ditl day in the life
(DITL = Day In The Life)



Wayne’s 3-minute DITL #11 from whall on Vimeo.
(Direct Youtube link)

Note: I tried switching to Vimeo for my videos, but I’ve run into a number of failed attempts today and it’s been sitting at YouTube for hours. So if the upload finishes and the conversion is successful, I’ll add the vimeo embed here but for now I’m sick of waiting.
UPDATE: Vimeo finally finished updating, so I’m changing the page to display that by default instead.


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