Monday, March 27, 2006

Cleaning the Old Way

Is anyone esle tired of buying a different cleaning product for every area of the house? One for sinks, one for counters, one for the shower, one for the floor, one for the mirrors, ... enough already! I've gone back to an old school all purpose cleaning agent that is cheap and easy to make. In a gallon container, combine 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 pint rubbing alcohol, i teaspoon dishwashing liquid, and enough water to fill the container. Fill up a spray bottle and you're ready to clean almost everything!

We Sold The Beetle

It finally happened, The beetle sold. We didn't get quite what we were wanting, but we're glad to be rid of the payment. Now we're in mourning because we no longer have a convertible. Except for the motorcycle, I guess.
The Hardwicks: Selling the Beetle

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Becoming a Certified Professional

Poor Erin. She has become a lonely lady lately. I've been spending most of my nights studying for Microsoft and Cisco certifications since late January. My buddy Tommy and I are studying together to get these tests out of the way by the end of the summer. So far I've taken and passed two Microsoft tests, and now I am working towards Cisco's CCNA Certification. Each test requires about 2-4 weeks preparation time, and there are about nine tests in total that we are attempting. That's just the basics. There seems to be no end to this whole certification process. I keep looking at other certifications that I want to achieve, but I can't right now. I must focus, I only have two eyes. I wish I could read faster. One thing I am excited about is the subject matter is appealing, otherwise there would be no way that I could read a 700 page textbook in three weeks.

I love you Erin, I'll be done with this study time real soon! (I hope)

Certifications I am working toward
MCP (achieved); MCSA:Messaging; MCSE:Security; CCNA

Friday, March 24, 2006

Just Like Heaven

Has anybody seen that movie? We rented it last night and I thought it was a lot of fun! Joshua even laughed a bit, so it couldn't have been too much of a chick flick. So, there you have it: Just Like Heaven has two thumbs up from me!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Christmas Toy

Reprint from Christmas 2003:
The three Ua's were trying to think of a new toy for the new holiday season. Their deadline is next Tuesday, when they must submit their finalized plans to the manufacturer. The pressure is on, and the best the three brothers could come up with was Ua-on-a-bike! And why not? Isn't that what any boy between the ages of 7 and 12 would want to find under the tree on December 25th? At 3 o'clock in the morning, and after four pots of coffee they came up with a prototype that they were proud of. But Middle Ua wasn't too sure about it, he said it was lacking something special. It needed a remote to control it. But Middle Ua won't figure that out for another half hour.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Well, we ended up celebrating St. Patty's Day after all! My sister called to invite us to a corned beef and cabbage dinner (a yearly tradition in the Graham fam) on Sunday. The whole crew was there - Mom, Jim, Gary, Jennille, Jackie, Joshua, me - plus Uncle Chris and Aunt Shirley. We all enjoyed mom's fabulous cooking as well as the wonderful company. Aunt Shirley asked my mom if we got together for dinner every Sunday night. I think that's a right fine idea! So, (without consulting anyone else for their opinions) I have decided that we shall make it a weekly event! This week: our house! I think we'll have corned beef and cabbage again since I bought some tp make over the weekend and din't get a chance.

By the way, I really like corned beef! Apparently it's not a favorite dish according to those I have surveyed.

Driving: My Way

For those of you who don’t know, Erin and I attend a wonderful church in Costa Mesa called Rock Harbor. Lately the teaching has been on having a heart like Christ. (Which is what most teaching is, I guess) And some examples given are how we drive. Is it important to be first? To move all the way over to the far right lane simply because there are no cars there only to have to make a left turn one block away. How do we treat the people on the road?

I found that lately I’ve been a lot better driver on the roads, and I haven’t been in such a rush to get places either. But I’ve found there’s one thing I’m still holding onto. I love to enforce my legal right of way! When I exit the freeway to come home there are two left turning lanes at the first traffic light. I like to choose the turning lane on the right. For those of you that aren’t California drivers, we have a law here that allows you to turn into any lane you want when turning onto a new street. Chaos, I know. Inevitably once in a while somebody in the left lane decides to change lanes during the turn, in which case he is about to hit my car. I then proceed happily to honk my horn and scowl disapprovingly at his decision to change lanes into me.

I don’t know why it is, but I look forward to those moments. I’ve looked at it many different ways: I have to take the left turn, I don’t want to be in the left-left turning lane because too many cars use it, I will always run into this situation so why don’t I just enjoy it? But I still feel a little guilty.

For the most part I’ve changed my driving habits. I don’t self-impose the speed limit on the tail-gating person behind me in the Carpool lane anymore, and I don’t speed to get ahead of somebody just to get to the off-ramp one car earlier. Now I sit and scoff at the ones who still are doing those things. Boy, have I got a lot to learn.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We're not actually doing anything celebrate this holiday, but I thought I'd tell you about out trip to see Riverdance not too long ago. Someone at my mom's work had tickets to the show, so my brother and his fiancee joined us for an evening of Irish entertainment. The dancing was amazing as was the orchestra. I could watch those feet tapping all day long. We had a wonderful time and got to enjoy a Denny's dessert before ending the evening.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New face, old look.

I shaved my beard off on Saturday. I've been debating about it for awhile, but I finally took the razor to the chin. I was up at 5am and sneaked out of the bedroom to shave in the guest bathroom. It was fun to watch Erin's face when she came down for breakfast to discover my new look. The only depressing part was that when I saw myself in the mirror I didn't like what i saw. People say that I look so much younger without it. But to me, I haven't seen my face for two years, and boy have I aged. Yikes! I think I'm growing it back in about a month, we'll see.

Happy 82nd Uncle John

It was my Uncle John's 82nd birthday yesterday. He is perhaps my favorite Uncle. Sorry Uncle Bob, Joe, and Fritz. It's because in the summers when I was 10 and 11 I went to visit him and my Aunt Francis in Albuquerque. The first year they took me all over the city, I collected souveniers from all the museums and some fossils from the tram ride up the mountain. The second year we went on a road trip from Albuquerque to Washington D.C. visiting all the historical sites and battlefields I had learned about in school the previous year.

In our phone conversation we talked about those days as if they were yesterday, but this is now 19 years later and so much has changed. I live in California now and He lives in Nothern Louisiana in a small home on a lake. My Aunt Francis passed away quite a few years ago now, but Uncle John is still funny as he always was. I can't explain it but it's the same wit my dad has, it must be some Hardwick thing, and I'm sure I have it too. I miss my Uncle John. I hope I can get another chance to see him again.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Knitting Knightmare!

OK, I had to take a break from my knitting because I am getting so frustrated! I am trying to follow a pattern that claims to be really simple. I guess I don't really know if it is or not, because I can't seem to find the right yarn and needle combination. I have researched all there is to know about how many stitches per inch you should have, and unfortunately, the weight of yarn suggested in the pattern book is not widely available in America. ARGH! I'm just going to have to wait for the exact yarn I'm looking for to be on e-bay. Until then ... no knitting for me!

Joshua's new office

A couple of weeks ago my boss decided to clean up the office. Originally the office was twice as large and, to save on rent, retreated to one half of the office. All his extra office furniture was placed into two spare rooms. But after the cleaning we had two new rooms for business.

On monday morning he asked me if I would like to have the new office. I said I'd be delighted, and I am. Our suite is on the second floor of an office building near the center of Placentia. To the horizon and up I can see the tops of all the green trees from here to the tops of the snow peaked mountains and the beautiful blue sky. Below the horizon is an old couples backyard. (in California backyard equals 10 square feet of cement.)

It's fun to watch the old couple in action. In the morning the old man likes to read his paper in his sweats by the bay window of his library, while his wife does her gardening. Twice a week they pick oranges from their tree and juice them up to their granddaughter's delight.

Beyond the houses there is a crest of a hil that has zig-zag tracks that I see trucks drive back and forth all day. I'm told that just beyond the peak is the trash dump. The site reminds me of my old ant farm as a kid. Back and forth, up and down. My poor ants, I ran out of food, so they died. There may have been a lesson to learn there, but I don't know what it is.

It truly is a great office: quiet, functional, and productive.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I feel so high tech - I'm writing my very first blog! I guess I don't really have anything interesting to say, so I will tell you about my adventures yesterday. My sister and I wound up in a thrift store while my mom was picking up something next door. I found a bargain on yarn! 30 cents each! So I picked up two (big splurge) and started to make a scarf for my sis. She of course wants a complicated design, so she may never get to see the finished product. But hey, who would have thought to shop a thrift store for your knitting needs? I will definitely do that again!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Selling the Beetle

Do you want a New Beetle Convertible? Yeah, neither do we. But we're stuck. We want to relieve ourselves of the payment and reduce our debt to be able to buy a home in the reasonable future. Don't get me wrong, we love the car and wish that we could keep it, but now it sits in our garage as a lead weight because we don't want to add unnecessary miles to it.

To get the best price out of it we decided to buy a cheap car and sell the beetle private party. It's been two months and there hasn't been a nibble. What's the matter? People don't like cute cars anymore? Is $17,000 really too much to spend on a used car that has pretty much no utility value or speed? I'm kidding, but I want to remember what we were thinking when we bought it. Is the monthly payment affordable? Yes, it must have been. $500 a month for a car that will de-value itself faster than we can say good morning; sure, I can afford that.

In the future we're sticking to Consumer Reports and value-based models. Volkswagen never made the list for recommended buys in any model. Too bad really, because I think they're the best looking vehicles on the road. But for us I feel resigned to only purchase Toyota or Honda in the future.